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Friday, 4 December 2020

#BlogTour CHRISTMAS AT MOONSHINE HOLLOW by ANGELA BRITNELL #BookReview

 


Delighted to be with you today for the Blog Blitz for CHRISTMAS AT MOONSHINE HOLLOW by ANGELA BRITNELL.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for letting me be part of it all!



ABOUT THE BOOK

Mistletoe and moonshine: a Christmas match made in heaven?

Moonshine Hollow’s famous ‘Lightning Flash’ might be an acquired taste, although the same could be said for moonshine distillery owner Cole Landon, what with his workaholic habits and ‘Scrooge’ tendencies when it comes to all things Christmassy.

But when Jenna Pendean from Cornwall pays a visit to Cole’s family-run distillery in Tennessee during the holiday season, will Cole’s cynicism about the existence of Christmas miracles be put to the test?

PURCHASE LINKS


MY REVIEW

I was in need of a pick me up read, and this was absolutely blooming perfect for that!! There's just something about those Southern men that Angela writes about that I can't help falling for!!

Over in Tennesse, we get to visit the family distillery that Cole runs. A real workaholic so with Christmas approaching his family are getting to his scrooge like tendencies again! They just want him to have a bit of fun but he feels the pressure keeping up the good work that previous generations worked so hard for!

Jenna is over in Tennesse on 'holiday' but she's actually searching for answers after she discovered something in her family history that has left her with many questions but she soon finds herself under the spell of Cole when she has a tour of the distillery, and the feeling is mutual!

These two together are just so much fun - there seems to be a pretty strong connection from the start with them. They just get on so well and have some really good banter... alcohol does play a part!! What do you expect when a book is set at a distillery?!!

As Jenna starts to spend more time at the distillery helping out with the tours, she begins to see how things work behind the scenes which leaves her with a dilemma concerning her quest to solve her family puzzle!

It's fun, flirty, festive and fabulous!!

★★★★★



Thursday, 3 December 2020

#BlogTour THE SMALLEST MAN by FRANCES QUINN #BookReview #TheSmallestMan @franquinn @RandomTTours @simonschusteruk

 



Hugely delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour today for THE SMALLEST MAN by FRANCES QUIN.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for letting me be part of it all!!

ABOUT THE BOOK

The smallest man. The biggest heart. The mightiest story. A compelling story, perfect for fans of The Doll Factory and The Familiars.

 Nat Davy longs to grow tall and strong and be like other boys, but at the age of ten, he’s confronted with the truth; he’s different, and the day when the stares and whispers stop is never going to come. 

Narrowly escaping life in a freak show, he’s plucked from his family and presented as a gift to the new young queen of England – a human pet to add to her menagerie of dogs and monkeys. But when Nat realises she’s as lost and lonely as he is, the two misfits begin an unlikely friendship – one that takes him on an unforgettable journey, as England slides into the civil war that will tear it apart and ultimately lead the people to kill their king. 

Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England for ever, The Smallest Man is narrated by an irrepressible hero with his own unique perspective on life. His story is about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren’t good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together. 

PUBLISHED BY SIMON & SCHUSTER

PURCHASE LINKS





THE AUTHOR 

Frances Quinn read English at King’s College, Cambridge, and is a journalist and copywriter. She has written for magazines including Prima, Good Housekeeping, She, Woman’s Weekly and Ideal Home. She lives in Brighton with her husband and who Tonkinese cats. The Smallest Man is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter @franquinn. 

‘An enchanting tale about a small man with a big heart. Nat Davy is so charming that I couldn't bear to put this book down. I loved it’ Louise Hare, author of This Lovely City

MY REVIEW

I always love to learn about different characters in history, and this book has introduced me to such a character! The story of 'Nat' is based on the real life character Jeffrey Hudson, who found himself close to the royal action during the very turbulent times of the 17th Century.  Using this character gave a really fascinating insight into that period of history and to get his perspective of the goings on at Court, obviously with some artistic licence!

But in creating the character of Nat, it also allowed the story to develop as seeing life through the eyes of someone who was 'different' from everyone else and was stared at from a very young age.  This bought him to the attention of those with money, and coming from a very poor family, his father used this to his advantage to sell Nat to a wealthy family, who would then gift him to the new Queen as her 'toy'.  

The Queen herself was very young and very new to society, so in Nat she found an ally and someone who could understand her feeling out of place.  I think the story gives a really good lesson in how to love yourself just as you are and not to try and be someone else. 

As the  reign of  King Charles I is show to be more and more rocky, I loved how the story showed the darker times for the Royal Family building up to 'that' moment in history that still shocks to this day.

I really enjoyed the way the story was written and allowed a different perspective to a momentous time in British history and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.


★★★★



Tuesday, 1 December 2020

My December TBR #bookblogger

 


Hello! And Happy December!! We made it!! That's worth celebrating!  And pushing on with the Goodreads total which says I'm behind on last years target... how can that be??!! I demand a recount..... 😉

So what to read in the month ahead?! I'm torn!! Do I try and catch up with the squillions of books I failed to read each month this year?! Or do I push ahead with reading new and future releases?! And dare I peek at the Netgalley shelves to see what kind of state that is in?!! Decisions, decisions...

Here's a look at the physical books that I've pulled off the shelves to make a start on, and then we'll see where the rest of the month takes me!!


PANENKA by RONAN HESSION - publication date May 2021

His name was Joseph, but for years they had called him Panenka, a name that was his sadness and his story. Panenka has spent 25 years living with the disastrous mistakes of his past, which have made him an exile in his home town and cost him his dearest relationships. Now aged 50, Panenka begins to rebuild an improvised family life with his estranged daughter and her seven year old son. But at night, Panenka suffers crippling headaches that he calls his Iron Mask. Faced with losing everything, he meets Esther, a woman who has come to live in the town to escape her own disappointments. Together, they find resonance in each other's experiences and learn new ways to let love into their broken lives.

OLD BONES by HELEN KITSON - publication date January 2021

Diana and her sister Antonia are house-sharing spinsters who have never got over their respective first loves. Diana owns a gift shop, but rarely works there. Antonia is unemployed, having lost her teaching job at an all girls’ school following a shocking outburst in the classroom after enduring years of torment. Diana is a regular at the local library, Antonia enjoys her “nice” magazines, and they treat themselves to coffee and cake once a week in the village café.

Naomi lives alone, haunted by the failure of her two marriages. She works in the library, doesn’t get on with her younger colleagues, and rarely cooks herself a proper meal. Secretly she longs for a Boden frock.

When a body is discovered in the local quarry, all three women’s lives are turned upside down. And when Diana’s old flame Gill turns up unexpectedly, tensions finally spill over and threaten to destroy the outwardly peaceful lives all three women have carefully constructed around themselves.

Helen takes us back to the fictional Shropshire village of Morevale in this, her brilliant second novel, which exposes the fragilities and strengths of three remarkably unremarkable elderly women.

THE ORDER OF THE PURE MOON REFLECTED IN WATER by ZEN CHO

Zen Cho returns with a found family wuxia fantasy that combines the vibrancy of old school martial arts movies with characters drawn from the margins of history.

A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon, joins up with an eclectic group of thieves (whether they like it or not) in order to protect a sacred object, and finds herself in a far more complicated situation than she could have ever imagined.

LIVING WITH TREES by ROBIN WALTER

Trees and woods offer great potential for rebuilding our wider relationship with nature, reinforcing local identity and sustaining wildlife. We need more trees and woods in our lives, to lock up carbon, to mitigate flooding, to help shade our towns and cities and bring shelter, wildlife and beauty to places. Living with Trees is a cornucopia of practical information, good examples and new ideas that will inspire, guide and encourage people to reconnect with the trees and woods in their community, so we can all discover how to value, celebrate and protect our arboreal neighbours.

THE APPARITION PHASE by WILL MACLEAN

An atmospheric and stunning literary debut, reminiscent of the gothic suspense of Shirley Jackson and the ghost stories of MR James

Tim and Abi have always been different from their peers. Precociously bright, they spend their evenings in their parents’ attic discussing the macabre and unexplained, zealously rereading books on folklore, hauntings and the supernatural. In particular, they are obsessed with photographs of ghostly apparitions and the mix of terror and delight they provoke in their otherwise boring and safe childhoods.

But when Tim and Abi decide to fake a photo of a ghost to frighten an unpopular school friend, they set in motion a deadly and terrifying chain of events that neither of them could have predicted, and are forced to confront the possibility that what began as a callous prank might well have taken on a malevolent life of its own.

GIRL A by ABIGAIL DEAN - publication date January 2021

'Girl A,' she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’

Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared.

THE DEVIL AND THE DARK WATER by STUART TURTON

A murder on the high seas. A detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.

It's 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world's greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent.

But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered.

And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel.

Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?

With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger onboard. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.


📚📚📚


What is on your reading plan for the month ahead?! 

HAPPY READING!!

Monday, 30 November 2020

#MusicMonday PRETTY IN PINK by PSYCHEDELIC FURS

 


Is it Monday again already?! Racing through them now aren't we!! And I love Mondays now because of Music Monday - a weekly tag hosted by Drew over at The Tattooed Book Geek, and it's a weekly chance to share some favourite tunes and videos!

I seem to have fallen down an Eighties movie rabbit hole recently, and that's what I'm sharing again today! Pretty in Pink by Psychedelic Furs!! Turn it up!!!


Caroline laughs and it's raining all day
She loves to be one of the girls
She lives in the place in the side of our lives
Where nothing is ever put straight
She turns her self round and she smiles and she says
"This is it that's the end of the joke"
And loses herself in her dreaming and sleep
And her lovers walk through in their coaches
Pretty in pink, isn't she?
Pretty in pink, isn't she?
All of her lovers all talk of her notes
And the flowers that they never sent
And wasn't she easy?
Isn't she pretty in pink?
The one who insists he was first in the line
Is the last to remember her name
He's walking around in this dress that she wore
She is gone but the joke's the same
Pretty in pink, isn't she?
Pretty in pink, isn't she?
Caroline talks to you softly sometimes
She says, "I love you" and "Too much"
She doesn't have anything you want to steal
Well nothing you can touch
She waves, she buttons your shirt
The traffic is waiting outside
She hands you this coat
She gives you her clothes
These cars collide
Pretty in pink, isn't she?
Pretty in pink, isn't she?
All their favorite rags are worn
And other kinds of uniform
Kitty, you're really free like individuality
You are what you want to be
Until tomorrow the driveway's broken
His doorbell sings its chimes
In time with what and for who
God knows why I tried this
Vicious drug and I shake
Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: T. Butler / John Ashton / Duncan Kilburn / Roger Morris / R. Butler / Vince Ely





Sunday, 29 November 2020

#BookReview THREE WOMEN AND A BOAT by ANNE YOUNGSON @HJ_Barnes

 


ABOUT THE BOOK

Eve expected Sally to come festooned with suitcases and overnight bags packed with everything she owned, but she was wrong. She arrived on foot, with a rucksack and a carrier bag.
‘I just walked away,’ she said, climbing on to the boat. Eve knew what she meant

Meet Eve, who has departed from her thirty-year career to become a Free Spirit; Sally, who has waved goodbye to her indifferent husband and two grown-up children; and Anastasia: defiantly independent narrowboat-dweller, suddenly vulnerable as she awaits a life-saving operation.

Inexperienced and ill-equipped, Sally and Eve embark upon a journey through the canals of England, guided by the remote and unsympathetic Anastasia. As they glide gently – and not so gently – through the countryside, the eccentricities and challenges of canalboat life draw them inexorably together, and a tender and unforgettable story unfolds.

Disarmingly truthful and narrated with a rare, surprising wit, THREE WOMEN AND A BOAT is a journey over the glorious waterways of England and into the unfathomable depths of the human heart.

PUBLISHED BY DOUBLEDAY

PURCHASE LINKS





MY REVIEW

What a wonderfully touching and funny book this was! If you're looking for a hug in bookish form then look no further! It sweeps you up and gives you that embracing squeeze that we could all do with right now!!

It's a story of 3 women who come together for a little adventure on the waterways of England, while dealing with personal problems that have brought them together in the first place. They often say that the world works in mysterious ways, and it was only by chance that Eve, Sally and Anastasia came to be in each others lives to start with, and they prove to be the tonic they all need!

Eve has left her career behind her to become a free spirit, Sally has walked out on her husband and kids to find herself, and Anastasia is facing a dark time in her life with illness so the story begins with their paths crossing and what led to their extraordinary adventure!

The impact each woman has on each other is so empowering and heartwarming. It also shows the effect that others can have on you, be it from just offering a different opinion on a problem to giving people the confidence to move on in their lives. As they were older women, I loved their spirit and their honesty and their 'can do' attitudes! I loved being on the journey with them, and the characters that they met along the way which really showed the community feel of the boat world in which they found themselves.

This is a story of hope and friendship and it was a wonderful read.

★★★★★


My thanks to Hayley at Transworld Books for my advanced reading copy, in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview 337 by M.JONATHAN LEE #BookReview #337LEE @HideawayFall @MJonathanLee

 


ABOUT THE BOOK

337 follows the life of Samuel Darte whose mother vanished when he was in his teens. It was his brother, Tom who found her wedding ring on the kitchen table along with the note. While their father pays the price of his mother’s disappearance, Sam learns that his long-estranged Gramma is living out her last days in a nursing home nearby. Keen to learn about what really happened that day and realising the importance of how little time there is, he visits her to finally get the truth. Soon it’ll be too late and the family secrets will be lost forever. Reduced to ashes. But in a story like this, nothing is as it seems.

PUBLISHED BY HIDEAWAY FALL


PURCHASE LINK



MY REVIEW

I found this to be one of those 'quiet' books that focus on a family plagued by tragedy, that then sledgehammers you with the truth later on, so all the trauma, the angst and issues that have impacted on Sam and his family are laid bare.

The story centres around a family where the mother disappeared while her 2 sons were younger - one day she was there, the next they find a note on the table with her wedding ring and no sign of her. This causes major upheaval for the family with police questioning, rumours and gossip from the neighbourhood - a major impact on the 2 young boys who have to try and make sense of it all.

WE catch up with them as men, Sam mainly, who is the only one around to go and visit his grandmother in a home as she's on the verge of death. Can she shed more light on the events all those years ago?

I was so gripped by the human aspect to this story - how traumatic events play such a huge role on the outlook on life of those involved. How it had split the brothers up, how Sam found himself constantly living in the past unable to move on and live life normally. So much anger and resentment had built up so he goes to visit his grandmother hoping to find answers.

This was definitely a powerful page turner for me, watching as the mystery of the story was revealed with flashbacks to the family in the past - before and after the mother disappeared. This adds to the tension and makes you understand why Sam acts the way he does now. And then there's that ending... I'm still reeling now!!

★★★★★


My thanks to the author and publisher for the advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.

Saturday, 28 November 2020

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up - 28th November 2020

 


Hello! Happy Saturday!! Hope everyone is well! Just about staying sane here... praise be for books to keep me on the straight and narrow!!

It's been a quieter reading week for me these past 7 days, with just 2 books finished, 1 of which was an audiobook! That's just how it goes sometimes eh!! But I've been well behaved over at Netgalley with just 1 newbie appearing and some rather epic bookpost appearing through the letterbox that made me squeal with delight!!

So here's my look back!

BOOKS FINISHED





BOOKHAUL

starting at netgalley...

THE FREQUENCY OF US by KEITH STUART
PUBLICATION DATE - MARCH 2021

In Second World War Bath, young, naïve wireless engineer Will meets German refugee Elsa Klein: she is sophisticated, witty and wordly, and at last his life seems to make sense . . . until, soon after, the newly married couple's home is bombed, and Will awakes from the wreckage to find himself alone.

No one has heard of Elsa Klein. They say he was never married.

Seventy years later, Laura is a social worker battling her way out of depression and off medication. Her new case is a strange, isolated old man whose house hasn't changed since the war. A man who insists his wife vanished many, many years before. Everyone thinks he's suffering dementia. But Laura begins to suspect otherwise . . .

From Keith Stuart, author of the much-loved Richard & Judy bestseller A Boy Made of Blocks, comes a stunning, emotional novel about an impossible mystery and a true love that refuses to die.
 



And then in the post, this wonderful thing appeared....

PANENKA by RONAN HESSION
publication date - March 2021


His name was Joseph, but for years they had called him Panenka, a name that was his sadness and his story. Panenka has spent 25 years living with the disastrous mistakes of his past, which have made him an exile in his home town and cost him his dearest relationships. Now aged 50, Panenka begins to rebuild an improvised family life with his estranged daughter and her seven year old son. But at night, Panenka suffers crippling headaches that he calls his Iron Mask. Faced with losing everything, he meets Esther, a woman who has come to live in the town to escape her own disappointments. Together, they find resonance in each other's experiences and learn new ways to let love into their broken lives.

CURRENTLY READING



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Thursday, 26 November 2020

#BookReview #BlogBlast WITCH BOTTLE by TOM FLETCHER @JoFletcherBooks #WitchBottle

 


Hello and welcome to my post for the Blog Blast today to help share the love for this rather creepy and haunting read from Tom Fletcher.  My thanks to the author and Milly Reid for the copy of the book!

Here's a little bit about the book before my review....



A deeply atmospheric literary horror novel about the nature of repressed guilt, grief and fear.

Daniel once had a baby brother, but he died, a long time ago now. And he had a wife and a daughter, but that didn’t work out, so now he’s alone. The easy monotony of his job as a milkman in the remote northwest of England demands nothing from him other than dealing with unreasonable customer demands and the vagaries of his enigmatic boss.

But things are changing. Daniel’s started having nightmares, seeing things that can’t possibly be there – like the naked, emaciated giant with a black bag over its head which is so real he swears he could touch it . . . if he dared.

It’s not just at night bad things are happening, either, or just to him. Shaken and unnerved, he opens up to a local witch. She can’t t discern the origins of his haunting, but she can provide him with a protective ward – a witch-bottle – if, in return, he will deliver her products on his rounds.

But not everyone’s happy to find people meddling with witch-bottles. Things are about to get very unpleasant . . .


Witch Bottle is literary horror at its finest, perfect for fans of Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney and Starve Acre.
 


Published by Jo Fletcher Books

Purchase Links






MY REVIEW

This is a a story with an air of menace throughout - and I loved it!  It's dark, unsettling and liable to take you on a very dark journey! It certainly kept me on the edge of my seat and was really unsettling and I think that's why I couldn't put it down once I'd started.

It really explores the human emotion of loss, of grief, of loneliness and of self preservation.  Those times when you need to take yourself off and be by yourself, and when you push others away in your times of need as you're in  fear of hurting those you love.  The main character, Daniel, a milkman, is just one of those people who has faced tragedy in his life, and while trying to get his life back on track he encounters a local witch who he comes to see as a ray of light in these darker times, but she's involved in making 'witch bottles' which are supposed to protect people from nightmares and harm....not all those in the area are as understanding as he is of 'witchy' ways so more strange things begin to happen and there seems no escape from them.

This is a really different read - there's a lot of time devoted to the milk round he is on as it becomes his life.  Out on the road by himself, spending too much time in his own head and the strange things he encounters along the way.  It's not a scream out loud horror, but it's one of those really unsettling reads that you never quite know just where it is going to take you.

The more you learn about Daniel and his past, the more you begin to understand his current state of mind.  I sometimes even wanted just a bit more shock from the story as it was often a bit of a slow burn.  That didn't distract from the overall feel of the story as it was just so different from my recent reads, and nothing prepares you for the twists and turns along the way!!

I really did enjoy the contrasts of his normality - the daily milkround  - alongside the darker struggles he faced daily.  Seeing how those traumatic events from his past had taken their toll on him was the chilling aspect of the story.

A haunting, dark and twisty story!!

★★★★

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

#BookReview CHRISTMAS AT THE LITTLE BEACH CAFE by MORTON S.GRAY

 


ABOUT THE BOOK

Run away to the little beach café this Christmas ...

Five years ago at Christmas, solicitor Justin Sadler made the decision to leave his comfortable existence behind and move to the coast. Since then, he’s tried his best to ignore the festive season and, as he sits in the little beach café and reflects on that fateful night when his life was turned upside down, he expects his fifth Christmas alone to be no different to any of the others since he made his escape.

But when he encounters a mystery woman on the beach, he soon realises he may have found a fellow runaway and kindred spirit. Could Justin finally be ready to move on and let Christmas into his life again

PUBLISHED BY CHOC LIT


PURCHASE LINKS


MY REVIEW

The perfect blend of romance, mystery and drama - all set in the wonderful setting of Borteen Bay. This is book 5 in the series, but very easily read as a standalone and is the perfect festive read!

Justin is the focus of this story and he moved to the Bay 5 years ago. What prompted his sudden move and his aversion to the festive period soon become clear, and you wonder if he's ever going to be able to move on in his life and embrace the tinsel and baubles of Christmas!

When he encounters a mystery woman on the beach, it seems clear his path to a happier life may soon be on the cards! But she has secrets of her own and he is intrigued by her. Silvie is her name and she is finding life tough and seems on tenterhooks permanently. She wants to get away from something and is reluctant to let people into her life.

But there's an ease and instant connection between Justin and Silvie - maybe their past experiences bond them, and I just loved seeing how well they clicked and how they supported one another in trying to move forward in their lives!

There's plenty of unexpected drama along the way that really adds to the tension and I loved the mix of light and dark!! Fabulous festive fiction!!


★★★★★