12.12.18

BOOK REVIEW: One Day in December by Josie Silver

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist. After all, life isn't a scene from the movies is it? But then, through a misted up bus window on a snowy December day, she sees a man she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic... and then her bus drives away.
Laurie thinks she'll never see the boy from the bus again. But at their Christmas party a year later, her best friend Sarah introduces her to the new love of her life. Who is of course, the boy from the bus.
Determined to let him go, Laurie gets on with her life. But what if fate has other plans?
Following Laurie, Sarah and Jack through ten years of love, heartbreak and friendship, One Day in December is an up-lifting, heart-warming and immensely moving love story that you'll want to escape into forever. For fans of Jojo Moyes, Lucy Diamond and Nicholas Sparks. 

Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 432

One Day in December is such a lovely book, it is perfect to read during the festive season but would still be enjoyable at other times too.
Laurie and Jack see each other through a bus window and there is an instant connection but the bus drives off and Laurie is left searching for 'Bus Boy' as she affectionately thinks of him. A year passes and Laurie has given up hope, it comes as such a shock when her best friend Sarah introduces her to to her new boyfriend and suddenly Bus Boy is standing right in front of her. But now he is Sarah's , Laurie must hide her true feelings
in order to support Sarah who is like her sister. We follow Laurie, Jack and Sarah for the next ten years as feelings, friendship and the boundaries of love are thoroughly tested.
Josie Silver has created truly wonderful characters. It felt at times like I actually knew Laurie, Jack and Sarah. I laughed with them, shed a tear and there was more than one occasion where I wanted to thoroughly shake them.
One Day in December is a modern tale of love, it looks at the decisions we make in life and love. Laurie and Jack are meant for each other but fate and bad decisions keep them apart. As the time goes on, you do begin to wonder if they will ever get back to each other again. So much has happened and so many people have been hurt, can any good come of Laurie and Jack.
One Day in December is so well done, if you are looking for a warm, uplifting read then I can highly recommend it.

4.12.18

BOOK REVIEW: The Corset by Laura Purcell

Dorothea and Ruth.
Prison visitor and prisoner.
Powerful and powerless.
Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.
When Dorothea's charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted to have the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person's skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches. The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations- of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses- will shake Dorothea's belief in rationality and the power of redemption.
Can Ruth be trusted?
Is she mad or a murderer?

Publisher: Raven Books
Pages: 394

I was such a huge fan of The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell and I was so excited when I heard about her new book The Corset. I was also a little worried as I wasn't sure if she would be able to follow such a fantastic debut but I needn't have worried as The Corset is excellent.
Dorothea and Ruth are our focus. Two women from very different walks of life but with a very similar determined and focused nature. Ruth is an inmate of Oakgate Prison where she is on trial for the murder of her mistress Kate Metyard. Ruth does not deny the charge, she goes so far to say that she has killed others too. Yet she says she killed them all through her powers as a seamstress. She tells Dorothea how she sowed such misery and despair into these ladies garments that she killed them. Dorothea has never met anyone like Ruth before, is she mad, evil or both?
Dorothea is fascinated by phrenology which is the belief that the shape of your skull determines personality traits and so on. Ruth is a challenge for Dorothea as she does not have the skull of a murderer. Dorothea has so many questions for this tragic creature, despite what she says she has done, Dorothea is determined to help her.
Laura Purcell shows herself yet again as a master of suspense and tension. This book creeps up on you and before you know it you are soon wrapped up in the story and the dark tragic world that Purcell has created. Ruth has had such a tragic existence, each time you think she might get a break, something comes along and knocks her back down. Ruth is the embodiment of the female lower classes in the Victorian era. These women were so vulnerable and powerless, often taken advantage of and abused. Dorothea on the other hand is still in a vulnerable position but her wealth and social position does buy her a little more power, she is able to take more control of her own destiny.
I cannot recommend The Corset enough, it is one of my favourite reads of 2018. Laura Purcell weaves such rich details and imagery into her books which makes them very difficult to put down, I can guarantee that you will be thinking about them long after the last page.

30.11.18

BOOK REVIEW: Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

'I seen a child killed...
He strangled it, up by the horse.'
When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to Private Eye Cormoran Strike's office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts in a panic.
Trying to get to the bottom of Billy's story, Strike and Robin Ellacott- once his assistant, now a partner in the agency- set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.
And during this labyrinthine investigation, Strike's own life is far from straightforward: his new found fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant  is more fraught than it has ever been- Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business but their personal relationship is much, much more tricky than that...

Publisher: Sphere
Pages: 649

This book is huge and I didn't want it to end! I could easily have sped through it but I took my time as I think it will be a long wait for the next instalment. In the last book, Strike and Robin's partnership was in tatters and we were left wondering if Robin would walk down the aisle with Matthew. Robert Galbraith picks the story up and tells the reader what has happened and then we fast forward a year and follow Robin and Strike in the present day. The detective agency is doing well after they caught the Shackwell Ripper but both of their personal lives leave a lot to be desired. Strike is then visited by a disturbed young man called Billy who wants to tell him about the murder he witnessed many years ago. Strike could easily dismiss him as mentally unstable but Strike cannot ignore this desperate man's pleas for help. Robin and Strike begin their investigation, their most complex so far. They are soon tangled in a web of lies and corruption reaching Westminster and the upper echelons of society.
This book obviously explores the world of British politics in that we see Robin go under cover in Westminster but I also think that the author is making a comment on the current political climate we live in. Galbraith highlights the huge gulf in society between the poor and the increasingly wealthier upper classes. Politics in the UK are often led by people who come from incredible privilege and opportunity, people who have no idea about how a vast proportion of the population have to live.
Galbraith also uses the book to show the growing population of young people who are disillusioned with the current situation  but who are sadly ill equipped to make a significant change. I loved this aspect of the book and you do not have to agree with the author to see how relevant it is.
Strike and Robin are both highly vulnerable in this book. Both of them know that they are unfulfilled in their personal lives, carrying huge amounts of emotional baggage whilst being terrified of their feelings for each other and what the future may hold.
Lethal White is a fantastic read, I think it's length is justified and I did not get bored at any point. Robert Galbraith has created a series of book that I will visit again and again. Lethal White demonstrates the author's skill in creating fantastic characters and an excellent and captivating plot. I highly recommend this book and all the others in the Strike and Robin series.

16.11.18

BLOG TOUR AND GIVEAWAY: The Winters by Lisa Gabriele

I'm on the blog tour today for The Winters by Lisa Gabriele, this is a wonderful, modern re-working of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I also have a copy to give away so please read on and visit the other blogs taking part too!
After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded mansion of her new fiance Max Winter- a wealthy senator and recent widower- and a life of luxury she's never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max's beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman's imagination and feeds her uncertainties, while his very alive teenage daughter Dani makes her life a living hell.
As the soon-to-be second Mrs Winter grows more in love with Max, and more afraid of Dani, she is drawn deeper into the family's dark secrets- the kind of secrets that could kill her, too.

Publisher: Harvill Secker
Pages: 324

The Winters is a fantastic re-telling of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. It is dark, edgy and fast-paced, a really well thought out and modern adaption.
Rebecca is one of my favourite books so I was not sure what to expect from Lisa Gabriele's version but I was very pleasantly surprised. I tried not to keep making comparisons but instead I just enjoyed seeing how she used the characters and ideas in a modern setting. Setting it in the Hamptons was a great idea; it is a place full of glamour and wealth, a whole new world for the new Mrs De Winter to navigate.
Gabriele brings an excellent air of tension, mainly through the character of Max's daughter Dani. This tension and intrigue kept me reading on and on because I was desperate to know that would happen when it all finally came to a head and the author certainly did not disappoint!
The Winters is a book that I can highly recommend, it is clever and compelling and I think it will bring a modern audience to this classic and enthralling tale.

Many thanks to Harvill Secker for sending me a copy of this book to review. They have also kindly offered a copy to GIVEAWAY! Simply leave a comment below by midnight on Tuesday November 27th and I will draw a name at random. ONLY OPEN TO THOSE IN THE UK! 

12.11.18

BOOK REVIEW: The Christmas Stocking and other stories by Katie Fforde

In this exciting stocking of Christmas short stories, you will:
Help your best friend cook Christmas dinner, and end up falling in love with one of the guests.
Arrive on Christmas Eve dressed as a fairy, all set to wave your wand and give a young family their best Christmas ever.
Spend an unexpectedly romantic Christmas honeymoon in a small cottage surrounded by the thickest, whitest snow.
Fall in love with a handsome stranger on Christmas morning- and his badly behaved dog.
Host the perfect and most romantic Christmas celebrations ever, entirely by candlelight. 

Publisher: Arrow
Pages: 417

This is such a lovely book to read at this time of year. I am not a huge fan of short stories but I thoroughly enjoyed this collection. Katie Fforde has put together an excellent selection, many of which she has never published before. Obviously, they all have a festive theme but still they are all very different. One of my favourites was about a young couple who spend their honeymoon in a magical cottage in the woods. Somebody is clearly looking after them but there are no footprints in the snow so where is this kindness coming from?
I do love a good festive read in the run up to Christmas and Katie Fforde gives the reader a real treat with this book. The stories are full of warmth, magic, love, friend
ship, mince pies and mulled wine! So if you are looking for a book to dip in and out of in between wrapping presents and putting decorations up then look no further!

Many thanks to Arrow books for sending me a copy of this book to review! 

24.10.18

BOOK REVIEW: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed...
On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations ring eerily true.
As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household she realises the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands- but does she plan to save or destroy them? 

Publisher: Picador
Pages: 432

I had already read and enjoyed Jessie Burton's second book, The Muse before this but I think The Miniaturist is definitely my favourite- I haven't wanted it to end.
Nella Oortman begins a new life in Amsterdam, she is only eighteen and her family have married her to a successful and wealthy merchant called Johannes Brandt. Nell enters his grand house full of apprehension and naivety and is surprised when her new husband presents her with an ornate wedding gift; an exact replica of their home. Nella sets about furnishing the house by employing a miniaturist but she soon becomes disturbed when the miniaturist begins sending her items that Nella did not request or items with personal details that they could not possibly know about. Nella tries to contact the miniaturist but has no luck, she wants to know if these items are a warning, a prediction of Nella's future?
The Miniaturist is beautifully written by Jessie Burton, her attention to detail is just exquisite. The book is rich in imagery which makes it so much easier for the reader to picture the characters and surroundings.
I loved the mystery surrounding the miniaturist and the objects she sends to Nella. However, my favourite part of the book was Nella herself. She has to face so much during the story and it is wonderful to watch her change from a naive young girl to a woman who has to take charge of the whole household.
Jessie Burton explored so much more than I expected within this book, feminism, race, sexuality, class, loyalty and prejudice. There were so many different areas being examined yet Burton tied it all together effortlessly.
I know I am super late to the party but if you've not read The Miniaturist yet then I can highly recommend it.

9.10.18

BOOK REVIEW: Lullaby by Leila Slimani

When Myriam decides to return to work, she and her husband look for a Nanny for their two young children. They find their dream candidate: Louise, a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family's chic Paris apartment, stays late without complaint and hosts enviable birthday parties. But as the couple and their Nanny become increasingly dependent on each other, jealousy, resentment and suspicions start to breed, and Myriam and Paul's idyllic domesticity is shattered. 

Publisher: Faber & Faber
Pages: 207

Lullaby popped up on so many blogs that I read and I could not ignore it. It was a bit of a mixed bag for me, I did enjoy it but I'm not sure if maybe I was expecting a little bit more.
We know from the beginning that a child is dead, the book then builds up to how this horrendous event has taken place.
Myriam and Paul are both successful in their chosen careers, they have achieved this by leaving the bulk of their children's care to their wonderful nanny Louise. Louise had slotted into their family life and they have come to rely on her more and more. But do they truly know this woman  that they trust their precious children with?
Lullaby is highly relevant, it examines modern day domesticity and the pressures people place upon themselves to achieve everything. Leila Slimani looks at race, class, love, loyalty and loss. She is very observant and the book has been translated so well by Sam Taylor. I loved her choice of words and the way she describes situations that will be familiar to so many r
eaders. The book can make for quite uncomfortable reading in parts, it plays on our worst fears and delves into the judgements we make of others every single day. It was a very interesting read but I felt like I was left wanting a little more.

BOOK REVIEW: One Day in December by Josie Silver

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist. After all, life isn't a scene from the movies is it? But then, through a m...