17.9.19

BLOG TOUR: One Day in Winter by Shari Low

On a cold December’s morning…
Caro sets off to find the truth: has her relationship with her father been based on a lifetime of lies?
Cammy can’t wait to surprise the woman he loves with a proposal. All he needs is the perfect ring. 
Lila can no longer hide her secret. She has to tell her lover’s wife about their affair. 
After thirty years, Bernadette knows it’s time. She’s ready to leave her controlling husband…And  never look back.Over the course of twenty-four hours, four lives are about to change forever…

Head of Zeus, 449

One Day in Winter by Shari Low was a hugely enjoyable read. Set just before Christmas, it is perfect to read at this time of year as the night’s begin to draw in and you want to settle down with something cosy. 
I was surprised to see a list of characters at the beginning of the book and a little worried that I wouldn’t keep track of them all but I needn’t have been concerned. There are a fair few characters in this book but I soon got to know who they were and the ways in which they were connected to each other. 
Caro and Lila are the central female characters and they could not be more different. Lila likes to be the centre of attention and lives her life through her glamorous (and photoshopped) Instagram pictures. She has been with Cammy for a little while and is happy to keep that relationship ticking over whilst she secures her future with the married man she has been seeing behind his back. Caro on the other hand is caring and kind, she has been taking care of her sick mother whilst also searching for the father who walked out on them both years ago. Some careful internet research leads her to believe that he may have been leading a double life with another family, if she can find him then it is confrontation time. 
Cammy is the beleaguered boyfriend of Lila; his closest friends have been warning him off her but he is sure she is the one and that it is time to pop the question. He has been in love in the past and his relationship with Lila feels completely different  but he is sure he has made the right decision to ask her to be his wife. 
Bernadette has been married to surgeon Kenneth (Lila’s man on the side) for many miserable years. He has made her life hell with his controlling behaviour and constant put-downs. She has always stayed as she wanted her two children to have a father-figure plus they know nothing of his treatment of her. However, her children are now grown up and Bernadette cannot take it any longer so she makes a secret plan to leave him for good. But she has no idea that Kenneth has a secret himself in the form of a spoilt Instagram princess who he has been seeing on the side. 
The book is set over 24 hours which is a great device as it means the story maintains good pace and momentum. It is split into parts spanning 2 hours at a time so each time I reached the end I wanted to continue to the next part to see what would happen next. Each individual chapter is told from either Caro, Lila, Cammy or Bernadette’s point of view, I loved getting to know each of them plus seeing how they would react once they discovered the truth about each other. Bernadette was my favourite from the very beginning, I was willing her to leave Kenneth and the horrible life she was leading. I felt that Shari Low explored the subject of psychological abuse so well, we quickly build up a picture of how Kenneth has slowly chipped away at his wife, taking her confidence and enjoyment of life. It goes some way to explaining why she has stayed for so long.
I could not stand Lila, she is selfish and ruthless; she doesn't care about Cammy even though she is fully aware of his feelings for her. Low uses this character to look at social media and the way in which someone is able to present their life in a certain way rather than the reality. Lila cares more about her social media following rather than the real people in her every

day life. 
One Day in Winter was witty, entertaining but also contained enough to make me think. It is not a full on festive read but would be a good book in the run up to Winter. I enjoyed the plot and characters and I was particularly taken with the way in which the whole book took place in 24 hours. This is one I can highly recommend.

Many thanks to Head of Zeus for gifting me a copy to review, it is out now! 

8.9.19

BOOK REVIEW: Bone China by Laura Purcell

Consumption has ravaged Louise Pinecroft’s family, leaving her and her father alone and heartbroken. But Dr Pinecroft has plans for a revolutionary experiment: convinced that sea air will prove to be the cure his wife and children need, he arranges to house a group of prisoners suffering from the same disease in the cliffs beneath his new Cornish home. Forty years later, Hester Why arrives at Morvoren House to take up a position as nurse to the now partially paralysed and almost entirely mute Miss Pinecroft. Hester has fled to Cornwall to try and escape her past, but surrounded by superstitious staff enacting bizarre rituals, she soon discovers that her new home may just be as dangerous as her last.

Publisher: Raven Books
Pages: 448

I am a huge fan of Laura Purcell’s writing and I loved her first two books, The Silent Companions and The Corset. Gothic fiction is one of my favourite genres and Bone China showcases Purcell’s talent in this arena yet again. 
Bone China is set in Cornwall so the comparisons with Daphne Du Maurier are unavoidable. They are very different though, both play on superstitions but I think Purcell plays on the reader’s fears more, her narratives are a little darker. 
Hester Why has arrived at Morvoren House which is set on the Cornish cliffs. She is to care for Louise Pinecroft, an elderly lady, partly paralysed and mainly mute. Hester has her own demons and she believes this to be her escape but she is so wrong. The house holds many secrets, Miss Pinecroft has a female ward who is locked away all day. Hester had not even been told of her existence. The house is full of strange noises and the staff persist in talking about the ‘little people’ who come in the night. 
The story flits between Hester and Louise Pinecroft forty years ago and we begin to learn how she has ended up so isolated and fearful. Hester has done some bad things and she sees Louise as a way of righting some wrongs. She is determined to help her new mistress but does she have any idea what she is up against?
Bone China is packed full of suspense and superstition. Changelings are a big theme and I found this fascinating. The idea that a fairy comes in the night and takes a person but leaves behind a replica. Fairies sound harmless but there is a very sinister edge in this book, steeped in Cornish folklore passed down from generation to generation.
Hester and Louise are very different people yet they have both been driven to try and right some wrong they feel they have done. Laura Purcell is masteful in the way she builds suspense. She builds it up with small details and events and then suddenly a situation is out of control and you are going along for the ride.
I can highly recommend Bone China, it is beautifully written and I’m already to see what Laura Purcell does next.

Many thanks to Raven for allowing me to review this book via Netgalley. 

3.9.19

BOOK REVIEW: Somewhere Beyond the Sea by Miranda Dickinson

Seren MacArthur is living a life she never intended. While grieving for the loss of her late father, and trying to save the Cornish seaside business he built, she has put her own dreams on hold and is struggling- until she discovers a half finished seaglass star on her favourite beach during an early morning walk. When she completes the star, she sets into motion a chain of events that will steal her heart and challenge everything she believes. Jack Dixon is trying to secure a better life for daughter Nessie and himself. Left a widower and homeless when his wife died, he’s just about keeping their heads above water. Finding seaglass stars completed on Gwithian Beach is a bright spark that slowly rekindles his hope.Seren and Jack are searching for their missing pieces. But when they meet in real life, it’s on the opposing sides of a battle. Jack is managing the redevelopment of a local landmark- and Seren is leading the community campaign to save it. Both have reasons to fight- Seren for the cause her father believed in, Jack for his livelihood. But only one can win. With so much at stake, will they ever find what they are really looking for?

Publisher: Pan
Pages: 496

I completely loved this book! Somewhere Beyond the Sea is a delight from beginning to end. I have a huge desire to visit Cornwall but Miranda Dickinson created such vivid images with her descriptions that I feel like I have already been. 
Seren MacArthur is trying to keep her father’s ailing art gallery going after his death but it is a huge struggle. Jack Dixon is struggling too, he has lost his wife and is doing everything he can to support his young daughter Nessie. He and Nessie begin to make beautiful stars on the beach made from seaglass. Seren finds them and begins adding to them. For both parties it becomes the highlight of their day and they have no idea about each other. 
Seren and Jack’s paths cross when he is the lead on a new building project that Seren and the community are opposing. They are on such different pages yet there is an undeniable connection between them. Can it ever come right and is there a solution that would make them both happy?
Miranda Dickinson gets the tone just right within the book. I loved the romantic element but she makes it realistic too by exploring the many issues that Seren and Jack have independently.
The Cornish setting is beautiful and lends itself perfectly to the story. I really enjoyed reading about the community that Seren lives in and how it has both helped and hindered her. 

Somewhere Beyond the Sea made me smile and feel hopeful for life changes and new opportunities, it’s a lovely read. 

28.8.19

BOOK REVIEW: Sweetpea by C.J. Skuse

Rhinannon Lewis might seem like the average girl next door, but she’s got a killer secret. Although her  childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s celebrity has dwindled. By day her job at a newspaper is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s wedding plans whilst secretly making a list. A kill list.From the man at the supermarket who mishandles her apples, to the people who have got it coming. Rhinanno’s ready to get her revenge.Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder…

Publisher: HQ
Pages: 472


The fabulous Victoria Loves Books recommended these books to me and as usual, she was spot on. When I posted a picture online that I had bought the first two, I had several comments saying that they are Marmite books, you either love or hate them. Well, I love them, Sweetpea is a fantastic read and I can’t wait to start the second installment. 
If you are a fan of Killing Eve then you would enjoy this. However, I have to say that I was impressed that C.J Skuse made Vilanelle look a little tame compared to Rhinannon. 
Rhinannon Lewis is a fabulous creation, she does some despicable things within this book but you can’t help but like her. Plus I have to say that I completely agreed with some of her kill list choices. 
Sweetpea is dark, witty and has an excellent plot that is superbly paced. Written almost as short diary entries, it is quite cinematic as each entry is like a small snapshot or short scene. 
Sweetpea ends on a true cliff-hanger and I’m so excited to find out what happens to Rhiannon next. 
I can highly recommend these books. I have quite a dry sense of humour and there were so many times that I found myself laughing out loud. I say give them a try! 

26.8.19

BOOK REVIEW: The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans

Nightingale House, 1919. Liddy Horner discovers her husband, the world-famous artist Sir Edward Horner, burning his best-known painting The Garden of Lost and Found days before his sudden death.
Nightingale House was the Horner family's beloved home- a gem of design created to inspire happiness- and it was here Ned painted The Garden of Lost and Found, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.
One magical moment before it all came tumbling down...
When Ned and Liddy's great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most?
Whether Ned's masterpiece or, in Juliet's case, her own childhood happiness?
Something shattered this corner of paradise.
But what?

Publisher: Headline Review
Pages: 496

The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans is a beautifully written book. I read it on holiday and was so sad to reach the end.
The whole book centres round Nightingale House and the Horner family. In 1919 Liddy finds her husband, the world-famous painter Ned Horner burning his work, including his masterpiece The Garden of Lost and Found which depicted both his wife and their two children Eliza and John. The Horners have endured much success but also great tragedy and the burning of the painting is spoken about all over the world.
Many years later, Ned and Liddy's great-granddaughter, Juliet, comes to live in Nightingale House, the house she vividly remembers from her childhood when visiting her grandmother Stella. Juliet is going through a messy divorce and the house is a new start for her and her three children, Bea, Isla and Sandy. Juliet is a well-known art-historian and she still cannot believe that her great-grandfather would have burnt his painting as she knows what it meant to him. But if he didn't burn it then what became of it?
I could not find fault with this book, the story and characters were wonderful, the setting of Nightingale House was beautifully vivid and I loved all of the rich details that Harriet Evans wove into the story.
The Horner family are fascinating and I loved learning the stories and secrets of all the different members. Evans ties the different strands together so well and I enjoyed all aspects of the story. My favourite part of the book was the actual house. Evans' descriptions are wonderful and it didn't take long for me to be able to clearly picture it in my mind as though I could walk from room to room.
I urge you to read The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans and I cannot wait to read it again in the future.

20.8.19

BOOK REVIEW: Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott

To the outside world, they were the icons of high society — the most glamorous and influential women of their age. To Truman Capote they were his Swans: the ideal heroines, as vulnerable as they were powerful. They trusted him with their most guarded, martini-soaked secrets, each believing she was more special and loved than the next…Until he betrayed them.
Publisher: Penguin 
I've not read anything by Truman Capote but I was intrigued when this book kept popping up on book blogs. I'm so glad I made the decision to read it as I found the story fascinating. Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott explores the world of Truman Capote and his 'swans'- a collection of wealthy, well-known women of the time who considered him their close friend. He considered them friends too,  yet this did not stop him from sharing their secrets and those they had shared others. Capote wrote an article for Esquire magazine  called 'La Cote Basque 1965' which divulged some of high society's best kept secrets. The swans were horrified and ended their friendship with him. Capote spent many years trying to win them all back but he died alone and friendless nine years later. 
Swan Song contains so much, it looks at the role of the author, familial relationships, society, class, friendship, money, power and fame. I felt like I was offered a glimpse into a world I knew nothing about and one I would not want to spend a lot of time in. 
Truman Capote was clearly a complex man with many, many issues. I felt that the author did an excellent job of showing this. There were times when I felt sorry for him and others where he was completely abhorrent. 
Don't be put off if you haven't read any of Capote's books, I'm going to now that I've read this and I actually feel like I will get more from them due to having read Swan Song an finding out about his life. 
I can highly recommend Swan Song, it is insightful and captivating. 
Many thanks to Penguin and Netgalley for allowing me to review a copy of this book. 

8.7.19

BOOK REVIEW: Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

Everything changed the night Flora disappeared.
Heather and Jess were best friends until the night Heather's sister vanished.
Jess has never forgiven herself for the lie she told that night. Nor has Heather. But now Heather is accused of a terrible crime.
And Jess is forced to return to the sleepy seaside town where they grew up, to ask the question she's avoided for so long:
What really happened the night Flora disappeared?

Publisher: Michael Joseph

Then She Vanishes is a well paced and beautifully plotted psychological thriller. Jess returns to the seaside town she grew up in but this time in her role as a journalist. She discovered that her childhood friend Heather is accused of shooting dead a mother and son in their own home. Heather has a tragic past, her sister Flora went missing and her father was killed in a tragic accident at their home. Jess cannot believe that her old friend is capable of murder and her investigation leads her to finally ask questions about the summer that Flora disappeared.
Claire Douglas takes you into the thick of it from the very first chapter, I was so impressed with the pace that she set and maintained. The book flits between the present day and the summer that Flora disappeared. I thoroughly enjoyed both parts of the story and Douglas brings them together so well.
Then She Vanishes is full of secrets, every single character is hiding something from other characters. It's such a clever device as the reader is left guessing and you are never 100% sure who you can trust within the story.
Douglas includes many twists and turns along the way. I worked out a couple but then had the rug pulled out from under me when these were followed by more revelations.
Then She Vanishes is an excellent read that I can highly recommend. It is gritty, addictive and entirely believable.

Many thanks to Michael Joseph for allowing me to read a review copy via Netgalley.

BLOG TOUR: One Day in Winter by Shari Low

On a cold December’s morning… Caro sets off to find the truth: has her relationship with her father been based on a lifetime of lies? Cam...