Dot Scribbles


BOOK REVIEW: The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

Meet the ‘Keeper of Lost Things’…
Anthony Peardew has spent half his life collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.
Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all it’s lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.
But the final wishes of the ‘Keeper of Lost Things’ have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters…

Publisher: Two Roads
Pages: 302

I asked for this book for Christmas as I kept on coming across glowing reviews on people’s blogs and I now understand why, it is such a lovely book.
Laura inherits a beautiful house and all of it’s contents when her boss and friend dies. Anthony Peardew was an author but in the last part of his life he had been collecting lost objects; a whole room full of them and he knows that he can trust Laura to continue his work. So Laura is faced with the task of somehow returning these items to their original owner. They range from a single blue button to a biscuit tin full of somebody’s ashes. Daunted but determined, Laura sets out to fulfil Anthony’s wishes but she also has trouble at home to contend with. One of the rooms in the house has locked from the inside and a record keeps playing without being anywhere near the record player. Something in the house is not happy so Laura must solve this mystery too.
The Keeper of Lost Things is a wonderful book; it felt timeless and magical and it was one of those books that I didn’t want to end. Even a few days after finishing, I have found myself thinking of the characters and their individual stories. Also I have become very aware of ‘lost objects’ and I’ve caught myself wondering about where they have come from and who they belong to.
Ruth Hogan is an excellent story-teller; I felt as though everything in the book was beautifully vivid, the characters, the house and the objects themselves. Her characters leap off the page at you, even the unlikable ones! I highly recommend this book, it is a life affirming read full of love, hope and a mystery or two.


BOOK REVIEW: Stand By Me by S.D. Robertson

They’ll always  have each other… won’t they?
Lisa and Elliot have been best friends since the day they met as children.
Twenty years later, life has pulled the pair apart and Lisa is struggling. Her marriage is floundering, her teenage kids are being secretive, and she’s so tired she can’t think straight. So when Elliot knocks on the door, she’s delighted to see her old friend again.
With Elliot back in their lives. Lisa’s family problems begin to improve. As their bond deepens, she realises how much she missed him, and prays this  is one friendship that will last a lifetime. But sometimes life has other ideas…

Publisher: Avon
Pages: 422
Stand By Me is a poignant and emotional read. Elliot and Lisa have been best friends since  childhood and even though Elliot now lives in Sydney- he would be there for Lisa in a heart beat and she for him.
Lisa is having a really tough time; her husband has lost his job and her children seem to becoming more and more distant. So it is a welcome surprise when Elliot knocks on her door, she is so pleased to see him. Yet he seems to be hiding something too and Lisa has no idea what it could be.
This book was not what I expected at all and I don’t want to give the plot away as that would spoil it for others. S.D. Robertson explores so many emotions within this book and also looks very closely at growing up. I enjoyed the parts of the book that dealt with Lisa and Elliot growing up and it was interesting to see this mirrored with Lisa’s two children who are experiencing their own issues with becoming young adults.
Stand By Me is an emotional and compelling read which I would highly recommend.

Many thanks to Avon for sending me a copy of the book, it is out now!


BOOK REVIEW: Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland

It’s time to turn the pages of her past…
Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never show you.
Into her refuge- the York book emporium where she works- come a poet, a lover, a friend, and three mysterious deliveries, each of which stirs unsettling memories.
Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past and she can’t hide any longer. She must decide who around her she can trust. Can she find the courage to right a heart-breaking wrong? And will she ever find the words to tell her own story?

Publisher: Zaffre

Pages: 352

Stephanie Butland has written a marvellous book. I’ll be honest, I did not know a huge amount about it when I bought it, I was completely swayed by it being set in a book shop but once I began reading, I discovered that it was about so much more.
Loveday Cardew works for Archie in his second-hand bookshop in York. She has had a tough start in life and she doesn’t have much but she loves her job and the shop has become her place of safety; more of a home than the flat she lives in. Stephanie Butland reveals Loveday’s story gradually throughout the book; the pace was perfect. There are a fair few surprises along the way and I struggled to put it down.
Loveday’s sanctuary is threatened when she becomes aware that somebody has discovered her past. A past she does not speak of. She was just beginning to enjoy some new found confidence and the start of a new relationship when she is forced to retreat and isolate herself; it is the only defence mechanism she knows. However, Loveday has glimpsed a future for herself so maybe it is time to confront the past instead of running from it?
Loveday is one of those literary characters that you don’t forget in a hurry. She is fierce, loveable and frightened; I felt so protective of her by the end of the book. Stephanie Butland spends a large part of the book looking at Loveday’s childhood and although some of this is quite dark; it added a very nostalgic feel to the book which I very much enjoyed.
My favourite character was Archie who owns the bookshop. Slightly eccentric but so loveable ; he is a calming element in Loveday’s life and the book. The bookshop itself almost felt like a character, I loved reading about it’s layout and the customers passing through.
The author delves into several quite difficult subjects within the book and I was impressed with the sensitivity and care in her approach.
In one way, Lost for Words is a book about books and the power and influence they have in many people’s lives but it is also a book about love and hope. Stephanie Butland has written a beautiful book that I urge you to read.


BOOK REVIEW: The Vanishing by Sophia Tobin

A story of intrigue and revenge…
On top of the Yorkshire Moors, in an isolated spot carved out of the barren landscape lies White Windows, a house of shadows and secrets. Here lives Marcus Twentyman, a hard-drinking but sensitive man and his sister Hester.
When Annaleigh, a young girl who has fled her home in London, finds herself at the remote house, engaged as housekeeper to the Twentymans, she discovers all is not as it seems behind closed doors.
Isolated and lonely, Annaleigh is increasingly drawn to her master. And as their relationship intensifies, she soon realises that her movements are being controlled and her life is no longer her own. Slowly she is drawn into a web of intrigue and darkness, and soon she must face  her fears if she is to save herself.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 388

The Vanishing is an intriguing read. It is very much in the gothic style and put me in mind of both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.
Set in 1814, Annaleigh has been sent to White Windows on the Yorkshire Moors to take up the position of housekeeper. The setting is desolate and the house suitably spooky and foreboding. She is to work for brother and sister Marcus and Hester Twentyman. Hester is a little nervous and protective and Marcus mysterious and unpredictable. Yet Annaleigh settles into the house well and they are pleased with her work. Just as Annaleigh begins to settle, questions are raised about Kate, the previous housekeeper who seemingly disappeared into the night. Hester is administering medication to Annaleigh more and more under the guise of helping her headaches and Marcus is growing closer and closer. All of a sudden Annaleigh feels out of her depth and completely at the mercy of the Twentymans and the problem is that she has no idea what they have planned for her.
The Vanishing is so well written and I loved the foreboding, moody atmosphere that Sophia Tobin creates. There is tension from the very first page and it continues to increase as the story develops.
Annaleigh is extremely naïve but feisty, she really has to fight in this book and she is a good example of just how hard it was for women at the time to get just basic rights.
I don’t want to say much more but I would highly recommend this book. It is dark and shocking in places, perfect for fans of gothic fiction. I read this as it was my book club’s choice and I think it will give us plenty to talk about.


BLOG TOUR: A Year of New Adventures by Maddie Please

I'm on the blog tour today for the fab new book from Maddie Please, here's the idea behind it:

It’s time for Billie Summers to have an adventure … but it might not be exactly what she expected. Billie Summers has always been quite content in her little cottage in the Cotswolds, sure half the house hasn’t been renovated, but what’s the point when it’s only her! Working part-time at her uncle’s bookshop and planning 3-4 writer retreats with her best friend allows her to pay the bills. What more could anyone want?
That is until Oliver Forest, the bad boy of the book world, turns up to one of her retreats and points out that Billie hasn’t done anything very adventurous. Couple that with her best friend falling head over heels and beginning to drift away from their Friday night wine and dinner plans, Billie is starting to wonder if it isn’t time she take control of her life.
So she starts a list: get fitted (properly) for a bra, fix up rest of house, find a ‘career’ and well, get a tattoo … Her life might just get the makeover it needs, too bad irritating and far-too-attractive for his own good, Oliver keeps showing up …
Because sometimes you need an adventure!

Sounds good doesn't it! I'm very lucky to have an extract to share with you and check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, interviews and more! 

Helena coloured prettily and sat up a bit straighter in her chair.
‘Helena Fairchild. I write children’s and YA. I’m a librarian. I sold a short story once, about a million years ago. It was about Bonfire Night. I’m not exactly setting the literary world alight just yet but I’m going to keep on trying. Nancy?’
Nancy was cutting a slice of cheddar and she paused, her knife halfway through the block.
‘Nancy Gregory, retired RE teacher. I write murder mysteries. The latest one has taken three years and I haven’t the faintest idea what I’m doing with it. I get so muddled I am quite capable of making the detective in charge of the case commit the murder.’ She looked thoughtful. ‘Perhaps that’s not such a bad idea!’
Vivienne sniffed; her aquiline nose a beak of disapproval.
‘I’m Vivienne Noble. I’m a retired chemistry teacher. I’ve self-published a couple of novels on Amazon to mixed reviews. I write contemporary erotica. Nothing too outré, just a bit of S&M, some bondage, and some role-play.’
‘Really?’ Nick said.
Vivienne loved it when this sort of surprise was voiced and was inclined to play up to the audience and show off.
‘Well I may not have been married but it doesn’t mean I haven’t lived. And I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of what does and doesn’t work.’
The table fell silent at this point until Helena cleared her throat and we all jumped.
‘Nick?’ she said. ‘Your turn I think?’
I kicked Helena under the table. She sent me a cross-eyed look in return.
Nick fidgeted a little and pulled his chunk of bread in half.
‘Blimey, I don’t quite know how to follow that. OK, I’m Nick Fitzgerald. I’m a contractor specializing in IT. I’m trying to write thrillers with a sort of international edge. Dan Brown, Ross Black, John Grisham – that sort of thing. I’ve had some technical papers published on subjects too dreary to go into, but as yet I don’t have an agent or any sign of one.’
He seemed to run out of steam at this point and he looked down and started buttering his bread. We all turned to Elaine.
‘I’m Elaine Weston. I’m a partly retired doctor and I write paranormal romance. Not very successfully I’m afraid. There doesn’t seem to be the market for it these days. Unless there is, and I just don’t write it very well. I had an agent but unfortunately she retired. I’d love another one, but well, we’ll see.’ She hunched her shoulders and gave a little excited smile.

Thank you so much to Sabah Kahn from Avon for asking me to take part in the blog tour, let me know if you read the book! 


BOOK REVIEW: Tin Man by Sarah Winman

It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things.
And there are two boys, Ellis and Michael, who are inseparable. And the boys become men, and then Annie walks into their lives, and it changes nothing and everything.
Tin Man sees Sarah Winman follow the acclaimed When God Was a Rabbit and A Year of Marvellous Ways with a love letter to human kindness, and friendship, loss and living.

Publisher: Tinder Press
Pages: 195

I was a big fan of Sarah Winman’s first book, When God Was a Rabbit, I have somehow missed her second which I need to catch up on but it has been impossible to miss Tin Man as everyone is talking about it and it does have that beautifully distinctive yellow cover.
Tin Man is about Ellis and Michael, they meet as teenagers and this book charts their relationship; the times where they were nearly the same person and the times where they couldn’t be further apart.
I don’t want to give the plot away so this review will be short but I urge you to read this book. Sarah Winman writes beautifully about love and loss; grief in it’s different forms and the true power of love and acceptance. Winman’s descriptions are simple but vivid, I feel she uses language sparingly but this is incredibly powerful.  I felt like there were no wasted words if that makes any sense!
Michael and Ellis are two characters what will stay with me for a long time; their relationship is moving and poignant, this is a book that will truly move you and make you think.


BOOK REVIEW: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

I yelled ‘Someone’s killed Father.’ I breathed in kerosene air, licked the thickness from my teeth.
Just after 11am on 4th August 1892, the bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden are discovered. He’s found on the sitting room sofa, she’s upstairs on the bedroom floor, both murdered with an axe.
It is younger daughter Lizzie who is first on the scene, so it is Lizzie who the police question, but there are others in the household with stories to tell: older sister Emma, Irish maid Bridget, the girl’s Uncle John, and a boy who knows more than anyone realises.
In a dazzlingly original and chilling reimagining of this most notorious of unsolved mysteries, Sarah Schmidt opens the door to the Borden home and leads us into it’s murkiest corners, where jealousies, slow-brewed rivalries and the darkest of thoughts reside.

Publisher: Tinder Press
Pages: 325

I saw this book on Savidge Reads and thought it sounded fantastic- his book recommendations are always great and I wasn’t disappointed with this one.
See What I Have Done is a fictional account of the real-life murders of Andrew and Abby Borden which took place in 1892. Both were brutally killed with an axe and their bodies were discovered by youngest daughter Lizzie who was later tried and acquitted of the murders.
Disturbing is probably the best word for this book, I felt uncomfortable from the very beginning. Sarah Schmidt is so clever with her use of language; she describes sights, smells and feelings in such a way that I found them more unsettling than the description of the Borden’s dead bodies.
The book has four narrators, Lizzie, the youngest daughter, Emma her elder Sister, Bridget who is housemaid at the time and Benjamin- a mysterious figure that the others were not even aware of. Lizzie is almost primal, she does and says whatever she thinks. She is very child-like and unlikeable in many ways. Her behaviour throughout the book is odd but you get the idea that those around her have just become used to it. All four narrators hold secrets and resentments and you are left wondering if the finger of suspicion should have been pointed at any of them and not just Lizzie.
Sarah Schmidt’s writing is extremely compelling, I felt very uncomfortable as a reader yet I couldn’t stop reading; all whilst marvelling at the author’s ability to create such feelings.
See What I Have Done is a fantastic book, it is dark, gritty and gripping. The writing is masterful and I can’t wait to see what Sarah Schmidt does next.


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