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Saturday, 26 February 2022

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up - 26th February 2022

 


Hello and Happy Saturday! Where the flip has February gone?!  The only silver lining to that is that Pancake Day is almost with us! My favourite day of the year haha!!

On to books and there needs to be more days in each week to give me more time to read! Just the 3 finished this week but they were a bit chunky so took a bit more brain power!  Just 1 addition to the Netgalley shelf and some lovely bookpost arrived too!

Here's my look back..

BOOKS FINISHED








BOOKHAUL

Starting off at Netgalley...

SPRING TIDES AT THE STARFISH CAFE by JESSICA REDLAND
publication date - 5th April 2022

A new season...

As winter turns to spring, Hollie - owner of The Starfish CafΓ© - is feeling content as she settles into her new life with her loving boyfriend, Jake, and their adorable dog Pickle.

But when an unwelcome visitor threatens the future of her cafΓ©, Hollie must stay strong to protect her family's legacy...

A leap of faith...

Emerging from an unhappy relationship, Tori finds herself with nowhere to stay and nobody to talk to. The long-hidden secrets of her past weigh heavily on her until a chance encounter with Finley, struggling to come to terms with his own secrets, provides an opportunity to open up.

Can she find the strength to stop hiding from her past and face up to her family? Especially when that would mean letting her guard down and learning to trust again...

A fresh start...?

Little do Hollie and Tori know that their lives are about to collide at The Starfish CafΓ© and they may be able to help each other with a fresh start. After all, with good friends in your life, nothing is impossible...

And then I was very lucky to have received this special copy and bonus stunning image...


SUNDIAL by CATRIONA WARD
PUBLICATION DATE - 10TH MARCH 2022

You can't escape the desert. You can't escape Sundial.

Rob fears for her daughters. For Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. For Annie, because she fears what Callie might do to her. Rob sees a darkness in Callie, one that reminds her of the family she left behind. She decides to take Callie back to her childhood home, to Sundial, deep in the Mojave Desert. And there she will have to make a terrible choice.

Callie is afraid of her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely. To tell her secrets about her past that both disturb and excite her. And Callie is beginning to wonder if only one of them will leave Sundial alive...

From the bestselling author of The Last House on Needless Street comes a stunning thriller exploring the toxicity of the mother-daughter bond, and the power of the past to twist the present.


CURRENTLY READING




HAPPY READING!





Wednesday, 23 February 2022

#BlogTour WOMEN AND LOVE by MIRIAM BURKE #BookReview @renardpress

 



Delighted to be with you today as part of the Blog Tour for the fabulous WOMEN AND LOVE by MIRIAM BURKE.

My thanks to the author and publisher, Renard Press, for letting me be part of it all!


ABOUT THE BOOK




Women and Love by Miriam Burke

ISBN: 9781913724818

Paperback • 224pp • £10

23rd February 2022


‘I couldn’t sleep that night; our conversation was like a trapped bird flying around inside my head. The next morning, I texted to say I wouldn’t be coming back. I lied about having to return to my country to nurse a sick relative. I couldn’t bear to see my story mirrored in his eyes, and to see what we never had. I knew he’d understand.’ 

Women and Love is a thought-provoking collection of seventeen tightly woven tales about the power of love, all its trials and complications, and the shattered lives it can leave in its wake. 

The stories explore a huge variety of sorts of love surrounding women in wildly differing settings, and features an unforgettable cast including GPs, burglars, inmates, emigrant cleaners, carers, young professionals, and many more. Navigating heavy themes, with a particular focus on LGBTQ+ experiences, including gender dysphoria and searching for a sperm donor, the stories leave the reader burning with indignation, full of empathy and wonder.


A writer from the west of Ireland, Miriam Burke’s short stories have been widely published in anthologies and journals, including The Manchester Review, Litro Magazine, Fairlight Shorts, The Honest Ulsterman, Bookanista and Writers’ Forum. She has a PhD in Psychology, and before becoming a writer she worked for many years as a Clinical Psychologist in London hospitals and GP practices. Women and Love is her debut collection.

 

Resource links:


Author reading on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cxS6jL_kC4


Author’s website: https://miriamburkeauthor.com

 

Purchase links:


Renard Press: https://renardpress.com/books/women-and-love/


Waterstones:https://www.waterstones.com/book/women-and-love/miriam-burke/9781913724818


Bookshop.org: https://uk.bookshop.org/books/women-and-love/9781913724818


Blackwells: https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/9781913724818


MY REVIEW

This is the kind of short story collection I love!  Miriam has put together a brilliantly fresh feeling to these 17 short stories, each with a snappy feel and showing love in all its' forms - be it male, female, straight, gay, family, children.. it's not afraid to show the good, the bad, the highs and the lows!

I found the book to have a great flow from start to finish.  Each story had a different viewpoint and I loved how the changing focus kept things zipping along - from a cleaner watching the dynamics of families she works for whilst carrying her own pain, to the divorced couple chatting over a coffee as to what changed between them, to the lesbian couple talking over having children together, and the friends reuniting at a funeral and discussing how their lives had changed.  

This really is a short story collection that has something for everyone and I found it compelling just how much you could glean from the brief glimpses of the characters as they reflected on a situation, and I think that's what made it so relatable and interesting as a reader.  It involves day to day scenarios and shows the impact of decisions on people around them whether for better or worse.  Just the way life goes!

It also does a great job of showing the irrationality of love - how it can make you overthink a situation, cloud your judgement, repeat the failings you despise in others.... humans are just really weird and make no sense at times aren't we?!

I cannot wait to read more from this author and this is a short story collection I cannot recommend highly enough!! Go grab a copy!!

★★★★★


                             

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

#GuestPost IT STARTED WITH A WEDDING by KIRSTY FERRY @ChocLituk @kirsty_ferry

 


Hello! Happy to be handing over the Blog today to the wonderful Kirsty Ferry to celebrate publication day for the fabulous IT STARTED WITH A WEDDING!! Raise those glasses to celebrate and go grab your copy NOW!! 

Over to you Kirsty....

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 It Started with a Wedding by Kirsty Ferry

Welcome to the fifth Schubert book, It Started with a Wedding! It’s actually, I think, the longest one so I hope people enjoy reading it as that’s one of the complaints I usually get – ‘if only it was longer!’ But there was a lot to cram into this one – and as the title might imply, we are building up to a wedding. It’s Nessa’s wedding, and her twin brother Alfie is assigned the task of organising it along with a little help from Schubert the cat.

If you’ve read any of these books, you’ll know that Schubert is a mystical cat, and all the members of Nessa’s family have their own quirks, shall we say. Alfie is in a bit of denial about his quirks, but then he meets Fae and she has her own quirks – so they’re pretty well matched.

The garden Alfie and Fae meet in is called, in the book, Bea’s Garden, and is based on Dilston Physic Garden in Corbridge, Northumberland. Dilston a very special place and has its own atmosphere and mysticism as well. In fact, I was once at a workshop there and someone commented that they could almost hear the plant spirits whispering, which is a beautiful way to look at it. I knew I wanted to set a book somewhere like it, so It Started with a Wedding was perfect. Where else could Alfie get a special collection of flowers for Nessa’s bouquet, and where else could Schubert enjoy a small rampage in a bed of catnip?

The ruined church I ‘borrowed’ for the book, where Nessa has her wedding, was based on a ruined chapel hidden within Egglestone Hall Gardens near Barnard Castle, in County Durham. The earliest tombstone there is dated 1607, but the chapel was closed in 1868. I love this phrase from the website: ‘In many ways it is a spirit echo from the past. It is a part of the garden shrouded with history and tranquility, a small space for meditation, contemplation and reflection. Yet there are voices for those that wish to hear.’

I have started writing a new book, using Bea, the owner of the garden, as my heroine. Originally, I wasn’t going to have Schubert in it – but now I’m not so sure. As I am writing it, I keep finding bits where a big, fat, black cat could easily slink in. I think I need to do some contemplation and reflection myself to see if he really does need to make his presence known … so all I can say to you as readers on that one, is answers on a postcard please! 

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About the book:

It’s one thing to be asked to plan your sister’s wedding; it’s quite another when your sister is Nessa McCreadie …

Alfie McCreadie wants his twin sister Nessa to have the best wedding ever, but he’s not happy at being roped in as wedding planner – especially as, unbelievably, his main assistant seems to be Nessa’s cat, Schubert. Anyway, Alfie is a scientist. He might know his protons from his neutrons, but what does he know about weddings?

It’s Nessa who points him in the direction of Bea’s Garden, just outside Edinburgh, where he’s tasked with picking a “very-relevant-bouquet”. It’s there he meets Fae Brimham, who might be prettier than any bouquet bloom but doesn’t seem impressed by Alfie’s sensible, scientific side.

But when Nessa and Schubert are involved, surprises are bound to happen and, despite less-than-perfect first impressions, perhaps something new and beautiful can still blossom for Alfie and Fae …


Buying links: 

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3L3Svnu 

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3pndWXM 

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3oY3OEt 

Nook: https://bit.ly/3Fn4rxp


About the author: 



Kirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and lives there with her husband and son. She won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition and has had articles and short stories published in various magazines. Her work also appears in several anthologies, incorporating such diverse themes as vampires, crime, angels and more.

Kirsty loves writing ghostly mysteries and interweaving fact and fiction. The research is almost as much fun as writing the book itself, and if she can add a wonderful setting and a dollop of history, that’s even better.

Her day job involves sharing a building with an eclectic collection of ghosts, which can often prove rather interesting.

Find Kirsty: 

on Twitter: @Kirsty_Ferry 

on Facebook: Kirsty Ferry Author 

on her blog: Rosethorn Ramblings


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Sunday, 20 February 2022

#BlogTour THE GIFTS BY LIZ HYDER #BookReview @LondonBessie #TheGifts @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

 


Delighted to be with you today as part of the Blog Tour for the fabulous THE GIFTS by LIZ RYDER.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Tracy of Compulsive Readers for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK




October 1840. A young woman staggers alone through a forest in Shropshire as a huge pair of impossible wings rip themselves from her shoulders.

Meanwhile, when rumours of a 'fallen angel' cause a frenzy across London, a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grips of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger . . .

THE GIFTS is the astonishing debut adult novel from the lauded author of BEARMOUTH. A gripping and ambitious book told through five different perspectives and set against the luminous backdrop of nineteenth century London, it explores science, nature and religion, enlightenment, the role of women in society and the dark danger of ambition.

PUBLISHED BY MANILLA PRESS

PURCHASE LINK



MY REVIEW

From the author of Bearmout, comes this immensely enjoyable and atmospheric novel which brilliantly conveys the frustration of the female characters and demonstrates the undertones of how women were treated and dismissed so easily by society at the time.

There's a real ethereal feel to the story from start to finish and the story of the fallen angels who appear at various points add a unique twist to the tale.  Set in 19th century London, the buzz is created by the appearance of these fallen angels who captivate and fascinate those who hear of them. No more so than those in the medical world who are overwhelmed with ideas of how these 'angels' can further their careers and standings.  They will go to desperate lengths to be the star of the show and make their names, no matter the cost.

It's a book that crosses the historical element with a little magical realism to brilliantly. Set against the backdrop of showing how women were not being taken seriously no matter how well they excelled in their field, whilst the men were front and centre and using the subjects as a competition - a way to show off and claim the plaudits.

The female characters were so absorbing and watching their stories evolve was expertly crafted to give a wonderful flow and link to the overall sense of the time.  And any book that has gardening and auriculas mentioned is going to be a big hit for me!!

It's also a book that angers as you witness these women just seen as possessions devoid of any rights and the way they were just used was indicative of the time and gives the story a great anchor as you find yourself willing the tide to turn!!

Captivating, unique and wonderful!!

★★★★★



Saturday, 19 February 2022

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up - 19th February 2022

 


Hello and Happy Saturday! Hope everyone is surviving the stormy month of February alright!! Oh to have a settled spell of calm weather!!

On to books, and it's been a pretty quiet week!  Managed to finish 3 books, avoided going anywhere Netgalley, and have had 2 review books in the post kindly sent by publishers!  

Here's my look back...

BOOKS FINISHED









BOOKHAUL

Thankfully avoided the lure of Netgalley, so just these two beauties in the post kindly sent from publishers to review....

THE THOUSAND EYES by A.K. LARKWOOD
                                                          published by Tor Books

The sequel to A. K. Larkwood's stunning debut fantasy, The Unspoken NameThe Thousand Eyes continues The Serpent Gates series--perfect for fans of Jenn Lyons, Joe Abercrombie, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

Two years ago, Csorwe and Shuthmili defied the wizard Belthandros Sethennai and stole his gauntlets. The gauntlets have made Shuthmili extraordinarily powerful, but they're beginning to take a sinister toll on her. She and Csorwe travel to a distant world to discover how to use the gauntlets safely, but when an old enemy arrives on the scene, Shuthmili finds herself torn between clinging to her humanity and embracing eldritch power.

Meanwhile, Tal Charossa returns to Tlaanthothe to find that Sethennai has gone missing. As well as being a wizard of unimaginable power, Sethennai is Tal's old boss and former lover, and Tal wants nothing to do with him. When a magical catastrophe befalls the city, Tal tries to run rather than face his past, but soon learns that something even worse may lurk in the future. Throughout the worlds of the Echo Maze, fragments of an undead goddess begin to awaken, and not all confrontations can be put off forever...

OUR LADY OF MYSTERIOUS AILMENTS by T.L.HUCHU
published by Tor Books
published 3rd March 2022

Some secrets are meant to stay buried

When Ropa Moyo discovered an occult underground library, she expected great things. She’s really into Edinburgh’s secret societies – but turns out they are less into her. So instead of getting paid to work magic, she’s had to accept a crummy unpaid internship. And her with bills to pay and a pet fox to feed.

Then her friend Priya offers her a job on the side. Priya works at Our Lady of Mysterious Maladies, a very specialized hospital, where a new illness is resisting magical and medical remedies alike. The first patient was a teenage boy, Max Wu, and his healers are baffled. If Ropa can solve the case, she might earn as she learns – and impress her mentor, Sir Callander.

Her sleuthing will lead her to a lost fortune, an avenging spirit and a secret buried deep in Scotland’s past. But how are they connected? Lives are at stake and Ropa is running out of time.


CURRRENTLY READING





HAPPY READING!!






Tuesday, 15 February 2022

#BookReview THE LEVIATHAN by ROSIE ANDREWS

 


ABOUT THE BOOK

The most beguiling debut of 2022, perfect for fans of The Essex Serpent, The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock and The Binding.
She is awake...

Norfolk, 1643. With civil war tearing England apart, reluctant soldier Thomas Treadwater is summoned home by his sister, who accuses a new servant of improper conduct with their widowed father. By the time Thomas returns home, his father is insensible, felled by a stroke, and their new servant is in prison, facing charges of witchcraft.

Thomas prides himself on being a rational, modern man, but as he unravels the mystery of what has happened, he uncovers not a tale of superstition but something dark and ancient, linked to a shipwreck years before.

Something has awoken, and now it will not rest.

Richly researched, incredibly atmospheric, and deliciously unsettling, The Leviathan is set in England during a time of political turbulence and religious zealotry. It is a tale of family and loyalty, superstition and sacrifice, but most of all it is a spellbinding story of impossible things.

PUBLISHED BY RAVEN BOOKS


PURCHASE LINK


Blackwell's - signed edition


MY REVIEW

I found this to be an enthralling piece of historical fiction, with some brilliant supernatural/witchcraft elements that didn't feel too out of place considering the time period that the story was set in. It centres around a family whose life is torn apart by some strange incidents, leaving the cynical brother Thomas to start his own investigations as to what may have took place in his home while he was away fighting in the English Civil War.

The timeline does jump around a bit which does take a bit of getting used to, but definitely adds to the twists and turns throughout the story and keeps you on your toes as a reader trying to work out where the story will take you to next. With witchcraft the hot topic of the time, the focus of the intrigue always leads you down that path, but Thomas isn't one to look so kindly on hearsay and he wants to see for himself and isn't easily swayed by local gossip.

It's a turbulent time in the country, and that turbulence plays out in his own family with his sister calling him home after their father is felled by a stroke and Thomas needs to be there to take over the farm. His sister tells him of the 'evil' servant who she blames for this and says her father was bewitched. There's an awful lot of dead animals around too at the farm and the weirdness just overwhelms them.

There's also a later timeline to follow when Thomas is married to Mary and he has a different kind of life now, but the past never seems to be so far away and I loved that different viewpoint and stage in his life. The intrigue throughout was really well pitched and you could sense the fear of the locals of the unknown.

I loved this story from start to finish - the darkness, the gasps it made me emit throughout and it really does a great job of keeping that historical feel, alongside the myths and faith that were at the fore of society. A stunning debut!!

★★★★★

#GuestPost QUEEN OF THE DESERT by MARIE LAVAL #PublicationDay @ChocLituk @MarieLaval1


Thank you for joining me today to help celebrate publication day for the fabulous QUEEN OF THE DESERT by MARIE LAVAL!  And I'm very happy to hand over the blog to Marie today so that she can share a few thoughts about the release of her new book - there's a purchase link further down too, so get clicking and grab your copy!!

Over to you Marie.....

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QUEEN OF THE DESERT by Marie Laval

I am so happy to see my historical romance QUEEN OF THE DESERT published by Choc Lit UK this February, and just can’t stop admiring the book’s gorgeous cover! This novel is very dear to me, and not the least because of the love story between the brave and unconventional heroine Harriet Montague and the seemingly harsh and mercenary hero Lucas Saintclair, but because of its setting – North Africa – which has always fascinated me.

My mother grew up in Algeria and she told me and my sisters so many stories of her childhood there that ever since I was little I have dreamt of going there for myself. Algeria is a vast country, stretching from a beautiful coastline to the Sahara desert in the far South.



Visiting Algiers’ Kasbah with its ancient mosques and ottoman palaces, seeing the stunning Roman ruins of Timgad or Tipaza, the fortified villages – the ksars and beautiful oases of the Sahara, and the peaks of the Hoggar mountains (or Ahaggar as it is sometimes called) and stunning rock art paintings is an ambition I may probably never fulfil, but at least I had the joy to travel there by using my imagination as I wrote QUEEN OF THE DESERT.



I loved every minute of writing Harriet’s and Lucas’s story and of researching some of the history, myths and legends of the Tuareg people, as well as their culture and traditions, and finding out about their mystical queen, Tin Hinan. Whilst writing QUEEN OF THE DESERT I discovered a fascinating culture, read beautiful poetry and listened to some wonderful musicians who accompanied me in my imaginary journey, among which Bombino, Imzad-TΓ©nΓ©rΓ© or again Tinariwen. Music really does bring people and hearts together.




About the book:

Sometimes the most precious treasures exist in the most barren and inhospitable of places … Harriet Montague is definitely too much of a gentlewoman to be frequenting the backstreet taverns of Algiers. But her father has been kidnapped whilst on an expedition to the tomb of an ancient desert queen, and she’s on a mission to find

the only person who could save him. It’s just unfortunate that Lucas Saintclair, the man Harriet hopes will rescue her father from scoundrels, is the biggest scoundrel of the lot. With a bribe in the form of a legendary pirate treasure map, securing his services is the easiest part – now Harriet must endure a treacherous journey through the desert accompanied by Saintclair’s band of ruffians. But on the long, hot Saharan nights, is it any wonder that her heart begins to thaw towards her guide – especially when she realises Lucas’s roguish faΓ§ade conceals something she could never have expected?


Buying links for Queen of the Desert: 

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3rHKNYr 

Kobo: https://bit.ly/34PGktE 

Apple Books: https://apple.co/33C9nk2 

Nook: https://bit.ly/33q8HOr


About the Author:



Originally from Lyon in France, Marie now lives in Lancashire and writes historical and contemporary romance. Best-selling LITTLE PINK TAXI was her debut contemporary romantic novel with Choc Lit. A PARIS FAIRY TALE was published in July 2019, followed by BLUEBELL’S CHRISTMAS MAGIC in November 2019 and bestselling romantic suspense ESCAPE TO THE LITTLE CHATEAU which was shortlisted for the 2021 RNA Jackie Collins Romantic Suspense Award. HAPPY DREAMS AT MERMAID COVE is her latest contemporary romance. QUEEN OF THE DESERT is Marie’s second historical romance, following on from ANGEL OF THE LOST TREASURE which features another member of the Saintclair family.

She also writes short stories for the bestselling Miss Moonshine anthologies, and is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors. Her novels are available as ebooks and audiobooks on Amazon and various other platforms.

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Monday, 14 February 2022

#BookReview SHAPE OF A BOY by KATE WICKERS #nonfiction #travel

 


ABOUT THE BOOK

‘Have kids, will travel’ is the mantra of veteran travel journalist and adventurous mother of three, Kate Wickers. Shape of a Boy is an inspirational parenting travel memoir about the life lessons learnt on her family’s travels, from overcoming disappointment in Thailand to saying sorry in Japan, perseverance in Borneo and conservation in Malaysia.
  
This is a must-read for every wannabe-traveller grounded by lockdown and for every parent who has dreaded travelling with a baby. Kate’s intrepid spirit is infectious, and her family’s adventures make you belly-laugh and bring a lump to your throat. Shape of A Boy captures the essence of being a parent in the thick of it and learning on the hoof.

PUBLISHED BY AURUM PRESS


PURCHASE LINK



MY REVIEW


This was a fantastically fun travel memoir of a family looking back over their travels over the years and really gives the reader a great insight into exploring the globe, and the trials and tribulations of travelling with children from a young age to their teenage years!

Travel journalist Kate has a really engaging way of writing, and each holiday they have been on is recalled with genuine affection, seeing the effect travelling has on her family and the very privileged position they found themselves in to be able to travel far and wide, and allow their children to see so much of the world.

You can't help but smile and snigger at some of the recollections of things that happened to them and they witnessed and also allows for the different cultures they witness, along with the behaviour of fellow travellers which often left them feeling cold!

A real treat of a travel book, and fair play to Kate and her husband for not taking the easy option of playing it safe with holidays with the children! These experiences just go to show that they made the right choices and have some wonderful family memories to look back over!

★★★★