My November Wrap-Up Post!

Monthly Wrap-Up

I can’t believe I’m writing my November wrap-up post already, I don’t know where this month has gone! I’m loving blogging more and more as the weeks go by and it’s become such a massive part of my life now, I can’t imagine not being a blogger. It’s absolutely second nature to me now to make notes as I’m reading and to write a review as soon as I’ve finished a book. I’m slowly getting to grips with WordPress too.

This month I added a new section to my blog… a shelf were I can add all my favourite books. Please check that out here. I’ve posted a list on there for now but plan to gradually add mini reviews of all my favourite books that I’ve read previously. This month I added two books to this shelf – the only new additions this year. It takes a lot to be added to my favourites, only the most special of books make it there. I’ve revealed the two books at the end of this post!

My blog has now had over 6000 page views and over 2500 visitors. It amazes me every time I check my stats to find that people are reading my posts, it really has made such a difference in my life to have found blogging and the support from everyone just increases it tenfold!

Thanks to all of you who have read a post on my blog, or liked or commented or shared. Thanks to all of you who have followed my blog, or on social media.


 

In November I read 20 books and managed to review all of them. If I didn’t keep a record of the books I read I wouldn’t have believed I’d read that many, I think blogging has got me reading even more than I was before! Please click on the links below the images to read my reviews.

Time to Die by Caroline Mitchell

Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan

How to Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake

The Boy in the Bookshop by Katey Lovell

The Boy at the Beach by Katey Lovell

What Rosie Found Next by Helen J. Rolfe

Wendy Darling by Colleen Hoover

What Happens at Christmas by T. A. Williams

Lost Girls by Angela Marsons

The Single Feather by R. F. Hunt

Sky Lantern by Matt Mikalatos

The Winter Wedding by Abby Clements

Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Christmas at Cranberry Cottage by Talli Roland

The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith

Follow Me by Angela Clarke

The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas

The Widow by Fiona Barton

Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

Search for the Truth by Kathryn Freeman


 

This month I have received books for review from authors I’d not read before but I now want to go back and read all of their previous books. I love this part of blogging, it’s got me reading more widely and as a result I’ve found so many books that I might otherwise have missed.

The best thing about this month though is that for the first time this year I’ve added two new books to my favourite books collection.

9781782641759

The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith is just such a delightful mystery novel, with a brilliant protagonist in Poppy and I already can’t wait to read the next book! I’m planning on buying copies of this book for friends who I’m sure will also enjoy it.

 

out of the darkness

Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan is one of those books that arrived in my life in the most serendipitous of ways and I just fell in love with it. It’s a novel that made me sob my heart out, it made me think about things in my own life, but by the end I felt better. I felt like the novel helped me make sense of things and it made me feel comforted. I was so lucky that Katy very kindly sent me a signed copy to keep and I will treasure it. It literally takes centre stage on my favourites bookcase and it’s a book I know I will read again and again. I’ve already bought couple of copies to give to friends who I know will get as much out of it as I did, and I’m sure I’ll be buying more copies in the future. I just want everyone to read this book!

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Weekly Wrap Up and Stacking the Shelves (14 November)

It’s Saturday again so it’s time for my weekly wrap up post!

This week I was chosen to be an official Harper Impulse supporter, which was a lovely surprise. I filled in the form but didn’t expect to be picked so It made my day when I got the email through.

On my blog this week:

I picked a winner for my Out of the Darkness giveaway. The winner was announced here, just in case you missed my blog post on Wednesday.

I joined in the TBR (To Be Read) Book Tag and confessed to exactly how big my TBR is! You can read all my TBR confessions here.

I did a cover reveal for the lovely Holly Martin’s new novel, The Revenge. You can find that post here.

And finally, my regular WWW Wednesday and Book Beginnings posts in case you missed them.

I chose to rate books that I’ve read from 1-10 but have now decided I prefer a 1-5 rating system. I’m not going to go back and change the ratings on previous reviews but starting from today all the books that I read will be rated under my new system.


I’ve read four books and two short stories this week, and have reviewed all of them. (Click on the titles in the list below the pics to read my reviews)

The Boy in the Bookshop the boy at the beach What Rosie Found Next Lost Girls by Angela Marsonswendy darling What Happens at Christmas_FINAL

The Boy in the Bookshop by Katey Lovell (short story)

The Boy at the Beach by Katey Lovell (short story)

What Rosie Found Next by Helen J. Rolfe

Lost Girls by Angela Marsons

Wendy Darling by Colleen Oakes

What Happens at Christmas by T A Wiliams


stacking-the-shelves

I’m also joining in with Stacking the Shelves (hosted by Tynga’s Reviews), which is all about sharing all the books you’ve acquired in the past week – ebooks or physical books, and books you’ve bought or borrowed or received an ARC of.

Books I’ve bought this week: 

year of yes  all the major constellations  Paint My Body Red The Sunlit Night  183 Times a Year  The Christmas Getaway

The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

All The Major Constellations by Pratima Cranse

Paint My Body Red by Heidi R. Kling

The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein

183 Times a Year by Eva Jordan

The Christmas Getaway by Jill Barry

ARCS I’ve received this week:

The One in a Million Boy  The Darkest Secret The Theseus Paradox by David Videcette    Did You Ever Have A Family? by Bill Clegg    Thicker than Water by Brigid Kemmerer  Alice Takes Back Wonderland by David D. Hammons The Children's Home by Charles Lambert How To Get Ahead in Television by Sophie Cousens (1) Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin (1)

The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood

The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

The Theseus Paradox by David Videcette

Did You Ever Have A Family? by Bill Clegg

Thicker than Water by Brigid Kemmerer

Alice Takes Back Wonderland by David D. Hammons

The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert

Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin

How To Get Ahead in Television by Sophie Cousens

WWW Wednesday (11 November)

WWW pic

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’m reading now:

what happens at christmas

What Happens at Christmas by T. A. Williams

I started reading this book last night and it’s so good, I can’t wait to have the time to sit and read more!

Blurb:

For the perfect Christmas…

When career-girl Holly Brice learns that her estranged father has died, she decides to take a trip down memory lane and find out about the man she never knew.

Arriving in the sleepy little Dartmoor village, she’s shocked to discover that she’s inherited the cosy little cottage she remembers so fondly, a whole load of money – and her father’s adorable dog, too!

Head to snow-covered Devon! And as the first snowflakes begin to fall and Holly bumps into her gorgeous neighbour, Jack Nelson, life gets even more complicated! Men have always been off the cards for high-flying Holly, but there’s something about mysterious writer Jack that has her re-thinking her three-date rule…

hello goodbye and everything in between

Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Blurb:

One night. A life-changing decision. And a list…

Of course Clare made a list. She creates lists for everything. That’s just how she is.

But tonight is Clare and Aidan’s last night before college and this list will decide their future, together or apart.

It takes them on a rollercoaster ride through their past – from the first hello in science class to the first conversation at a pizza joint, their first kiss at the beach and their first dance in a darkened gymnasium – all the way up to tonight.

A night of laughs, fresh hurts, last-minute kisses and an inevitable goodbye.

But will it be goodbye forever or goodbye for now?

winter's fairytale

Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

I’m really enjoying this book, it’s such a lovely Christmassy book that’s perfect for this cold, wintery weather.

Blurb:

A few weeks before Christmas and a sudden blanketing of snow has closed the roads and brought public transport grinding to a halt, stranding Izzy miles from home and in desperate need of rescuing.

That doesn’t mean she’s looking to bump into Rob and spend a cosy weekend holed up in his swanky flat watching London become a winter wonderland! Because Izzy and Rob have history…

Six months ago, they were standing in the vestry of a beautiful country church, while best man Rob delivered the news that every bride dreads on their big day.

But at the time of year when anything is possible, can Rob and Izzy let go of the past and let Christmas work its magic? Or will this be one holiday wish that Izzy lets walk right out of her life…

Lost Girls by Angela Marsons

Lost Girls by Angela Marsons

This book is brilliant, it’s one of those books that’s really hard to put down once you start reading.

Blurb:

Two girls go missing. Only one will return.

The couple that offers the highest amount will see their daughter again. The losing couple will not. Make no mistake. One child will die.

When nine-year-old best friends Charlie and Amy disappear, two families are plunged into a living nightmare. A text message confirms the unthinkable; that the girls are the victims of a terrifying kidnapping.

And when a second text message pits the two families against each other for the life of their children, the clock starts ticking for D.I. Kim Stone and the squad.

Seemingly outwitted at every turn, as they uncover a trail of bodies, Stone realises that these ruthless killers might be the most deadly she has ever faced. And that their chances of bringing the girls home alive, are getting smaller by the hour…

Untangling a dark web of secrets from the families’ past might hold the key to solving this case. But can Kim stay alive long enough to do so? Or will someone’s child pay the ultimate price?

A Notable Woman

A Notable Woman ed. by Simon Garfield

I keep dipping in and out of this book as I just want it to last as long as possible, it’s wonderful.

Blurb:

In April 1925, Jean Lucey Pratt started a journal that she would keep for the rest of her life, producing over a million words in 45 exercise books. For sixty years, no one had an inkling of her diaries’ existence, and they have remained unpublished until now.
Jean wrote about anything that amused, inspired or troubled her, laying bare her life with aching honesty, infectious humour, indelicate gossip and heartrending hopefulness. She recorded her yearnings and disappointments in love. She documented the loss of a tennis match, her unpredictable driving, catty friends, devoted cats and difficult guests. With Jean we live through the tumult of the Second World War and the fears of a nation. We see Britain hurtling through a period of unbridled transformation and the shifting landscape for women in society. A unique slice of living, breathing British history, Jean’s diaries are a revealing chronicle of life in the twentieth century.


What I recently finished reading: 

(Click the titles in the list below the pics to read my reviews and to find out more about the books)

how to stuff up christmas   The Boy in the Bookshop   the boy at the beach   What Rosie Found Next   wendy darling

How to Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake

The Boy in the Bookshop: Short Story (Meet Cute series) by Katey Lovell

The Boy at the Beach: Short Story (Meet Cute series) by Katey Lovell 

What Rosie Found Next by Helen J. Rolfe

Wendy Darling by Colleen Oakes


What I plan on reading next:

the silent dead

The Silent Dead by Claire McGowan (Due to be published 19th November)

I can barely wait to start this one, I absolutely love this series and can’t wait to see what’s happening with Paula Maguire!

Blurb:

Victim: Male. Mid-thirties. 5’7″.

Cause of death: Hanging. Initial impression – murder.

ID: Mickey Doyle. Suspected terrorist and member of the Mayday Five.

The officers at the crime scene know exactly who the victim is.
Doyle was one of five suspected bombers who caused the deaths of sixteen people.
The remaining four are also missing and when a second body is found, decapitated, it’s clear they are being killed by the same methods their victims suffered.
Forensic psychologist Paula Maguire is assigned the case but she is up against the clock – both personally and professionally.
With moral boundaries blurred between victim and perpetrator, will be Paula be able to find those responsible? After all, even killers deserve justice, don’t they?

the secret by the lake

The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas (Due to be published 19th November)

I’m on the blog tour for this book so my review won’t be up until a week after publication day but I can’t wait any longer to start reading this book. It sounds so good and very intriguing!

Blurb:

A FAMILY TRAGEDY
Amy’s always felt like something’s been missing in her life. When a tragedy forces the family she works for as a nanny to retreat to a small lakeside cottage, she realises she cannot leave them now.
A SISTER’S SECRET
But Amy finds something unsettling about the cottage by the lake. This is where the children’s mother spent her childhood – and the place where her sister disappeared mysteriously at just seventeen.
A WEB OF LIES
Soon Amy becomes tangled in the missing sister’s story as dark truths begin rising to the surface. But can Amy unlock the secrets of the past before they repeat themselves?

sky lantern matt mikalatos

Sky Lantern by Matt Mikalatos (Due to be published 17th November)

The cover of this book is stunning. I’m sure this will be an emotional read but ultimately an uplifting one. I’m looking forward to starting it very soon.

Blurb:

Matt Mikalatos offers a poignant and compassionate look at a father’s relationship with his children, the healing power of a small act of kindness, and the certainty that even death can’t stop love in a deeply moving memoir inspired by a sky lantern with a scribbled note and the journey to find the child who wrote it.
Love you, Daddy. Miss you so much. Steph.
Steph scribbled those words on a sky lantern before sending it off to her father in heaven who had passed away from cancer. Halfway across the country, Steph’s lantern landed in Matt Mikalatos’s yard.
As a father of three daughters, Matt could not let Steph’s note go unanswered, so he posted an open letter to her on his blog. Matt never could have expected the viral response to his letter that led him on a journey to find Steph—and to bring healing to thousands of others in desperate need of the loving words of a father.
Filled with paternal wisdom and reflections on the relationship between a father­ and their child, Sky Lantern shows how the miraculous events that followed Matt finding the sky lantern in his yard—and the widespread and lasting impact his letter had—prove that the bond between a parent and their child is everlasting.

The Winter Wedding my pic

The Winter Wedding by Abby Clements (This book is out now!)

I’m a huge fan of Abby Clements, and I especially loved her last Christmas book so I’m beyond excited to read this one. I’m going to be starting it this week, and I just know that I’m in for a treat!

Blurb:

Hazel never set out to be a wedding planner. She was just helping her stressed sister Lila with cakes and décor for her big day. But when Lila and Ollie’s summer ceremony is a runaway success, with guests raving about the food and styling at the pretty venue, word about Hazel’s expertise soon spreads.

But Hazel’s clients expect the very best – she’s promised lawyers Gemma and Eliot a snow-covered castle in the Scottish Highlands, and laidback couple Josh and Sarah a bohemian beach wedding in a Caribbean paradise. But as weather, in-laws and wilful brides conspire against her, can Hazel get two very different couples to walk up two very different aisles to say ‘I do’? And will she find her own happy ending if she does?


What are you reading this Wednesday? What are you planning on reading next? Please share your links below if you’ve joined in with this meme on your blog. If you’re not a blogger then please share your answers in the comments below. 

Happy Reading! 

Review: Wendy Darling by Colleen Oakes

wendy darling

I can never resist books that are in any way connected to Peter Pan, I’m just fascinated by Neverland and what it represents. So when I was offered the chance to review Wendy Darling, I couldn’t say yes fast enough!

Wendy Darling is a re-telling of Peter Pan told from 16 year old Wendy’s perspective. John is Mr Darling’s favourite child and Wendy feels desperate to be noticed by her father, she tries so hard to see the star that John can see so easily but she struggles and the disappointment she feels from her father is palpable.

Wendy spends as much time as she can visiting the local bookshop. She loves to read, but even more than that she loves to visit the bookseller’s son Booth. The two are growing closer but their romance seems to be doomed from the start as society dictates that Booth is just not an appropriate suitor so they meet in secret.

One night Mr and Mrs Darling go out for the evening and something very strange happens at the house. It is really quite sinister and leaves the children feeling very shaken, until Peter Pan appears at the window and takes them all off on an adventure.

I have to be honest and say I found some of the things that happened in Neverland a little long-winded and slow, I was initially more captivated by Wendy’s romance with Booth and was longing to see more of that, I didn’t want to be taken away from that storyline. Having said that, where the book keeps you hooked is with this much more overtly sinister version of Neverland. It was always possible to see the darkness in JM Barrie’s original story but it’s much more extreme in Oakes’ re-telling. Oakes takes the nightmarish elements to fantastic extremes and danger is everywhere, especially for Wendy. It’s about how nothing is as it seems, and the idealism of a perfect world is never going to be as you’d thought.

Peter Pan has always felt a little creepy to me but in this version he is sociopathic. He appears very loving and kind one minute and the next his personality becomes very menacing, and actually often downright evil. I loved that Wendy was older in this re-telling as it gives a whole new dynamic to her and Peter’s relationship. There is an undeniable sexual chemistry from the beginning of the book, Wendy is drawn to him and cannot stop herself from staring at him and wanting to be closer to him. Peter ultimately uses this against her though and there are a couple of scenes later in the book that are very shocking and disturbing. The contrast between the rather innocent kissing with Booth and the way that Peter Pan treats Wendy really highlights the way that Neverland represents the desires of a teenage girl and her inability to fully comprehend how dangerous the world can be for someone still so naive and innocent.

Wendy Darling is ultimately the story of an awakening, it’s about Wendy discovering her power as a young woman and how she can fight back against the things that imprison her. It’s about her discovering her longing to be a mother; the way Wendy takes to nurturing the lost boys is beautiful, she seems to have found her place with them and they adoringly look up to her wanting her to be their mother. I did very much appreciate how empowered Wendy is in this re-telling; she’s been taken from a character who is almost always portrayed as weak just because she’s just a girl to a young woman who can stand her ground, and who will speak up when she feels she needs to. It was fascinating to see the character of Wendy in this way.

I do have a real bugbear with this book though and that is that even when a book is a part of a series I strongly feel that each book in the series should have some sort of ending. I know they have to lead into the next book so you will want to buy it but this novel just stops and ends with the title of the next book. I have to be honest and say that this really irritated me and I’m not sure that I would read the next one because I would always be wondering if I was ever going to get an ending. I love open endings, I enjoy being left with lots to think about but to just stop dead at the end of a scene and announce the next book is actually infuriating.

There are aspects of this novel that are fascinating and compelling, but there are times when it falls a little flat and the lack of an ending is something I can’t ignore so I rate this novel 7 out of 10. I still highly recommend it, especially to people who are fascinated by Peter Pan, it’s a brilliant look at his character and it takes him to really sinister levels that always seem to be underlying his character in the original story.

I received this book from SparkPress in exchange for an honest review.

Wendy Darling is out now and available from Amazon.

My Weekly Wrap Up and Stacking the Shelves

Last week I decided to do a weekly wrap up post for the first time and I did it on Sunday but looking at my blog schedule I think Saturday might be a better day for me so I’m a day earlier this week but I think I’ll be sticking to this new day!


The most exciting thing that happened this week in my book blogging world was that a list I made of Books about Grief on Riffle (Here’s my blog post with a link to the list: Books about Grief) got picked up by Book Riot as one of the best lists of the week! Here’s the link to their post: Book Riot List: Books about Grief.


This week I read and reviewed four books (click the links to read my reviews):

Broken Heart Book Club The Good Neighbor  13 mins the girl with no past

The Broken Hearts Book Club by Lynsey James, which I adored.

The Good Neighbor by Amy Sue Nathan, this was different than what I expected it to be but I really enjoyed it.

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough This was an outstanding book and will definitely be in my top books of this year!

The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft, a brilliant thriller that I read in one day as it was too hard to put down!


I’m currently reading:

One Wish in Manhattan

One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot

I’m really enjoying this book, it’s just one of those perfect Christmas reads that you can completely lose yourself in.

Blurb:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… to fall in love
The temperature is dropping, snow is on its way and Hayley Walker is heading for New York with one wish on her mind…to start over.
With her nine year-old daughter Angel, Hayley is ready for an adventure. From hot chocolates and horse-drawn carriage rides in Central Park, to ice-skating at the Rockefeller Centre, and Christmas shopping on 5th Avenue – they soon fall in love with the city that never sleeps.
But there’s more to New York than the bright twinkly lights and breathtaking skyscrapers. Angel has a Christmas wish of her own – to find her real dad.
While Hayley tries to fufil her daughter’s wish, she crosses paths with Billionaire Oliver Drummond. Restless and bored with fast living, there’s something intriguing about him that has Hayley hooked.
Determined to make her daughter’s dream come true, can Hayley dare to think her own dreams might turn into reality – could A New York Christmas turn into a New York Forever?
Travel to the Big Apple this Christmas and join Hayley and Oliver as they both realise that life isn’t just about filling the minutes…it’s about making every moment count.

robin talley what we left behind

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

I’ve only read the first couple of chapters of this so far but it’s very good.

Blurb:

From the critically acclaimed author of Lies We Tell Ourselves comes an emotional, empowering story of what happens when love isn’t enough to conquer all.
Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They’ve been together forever. They never fight. They’re deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they’re sure they’ll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, their relationship will surely thrive.
The reality of being apart, however, is a lot different than they expected. As Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, falls in with a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.
While Toni worries that Gretchen, who is not trans, just won’t understand what is going on, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni’s life. As distance and Toni’s shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?

get yourself organized for christmas

Get Yourself Organized for Christmas: Simple Steps to Enjoying the Season by Kathi Lipp

I couldn’t resist requesting this book when I saw it on Net Galley as I’ve read Kathi Lipp’s book about clearing clutter and it really helped me blitz my house, so I’m happy to have her guide me through being more organised for Christmas! I’m really enjoying it so far, Kathi’s style of writing is so accessible – it feels like a friend helping out!

Blurb:

Have you lost your Christmas joy? Does the thought of jam-packed malls, maxed-out credit cards, overcrowded supermarkets, and endless to-do lists give you the feeling that maybe Scrooge was on to something?
In Get Yourself Organized for Christmas, Kathi Lipp provides easy-to-follow steps to reduce the stress of the holiday season, including tactics for how toput together a holiday binder you’ll use year after yeardetermine a budget that won’t break the bankgather your elf suppliesget your gift list together (including ideas for various ages and relationships)collect your recipes and prep your kitchen
By putting into practice Kathi’s tricks and tips, you’ll finally be able to fully enjoy this most wonderful time of the year.

wendy darling

Wendy Darling by Colleen Oakes

I started reading this last week and was really enjoying it. I’m still enjoying it but I’m just not sure about Neverland, I think I need to read a good chunk of this book in one go to see if I can get better engrossed in the story. I do love Wendy’s character in this, I have to say.

Blurb:

Wendy Darling has a perfectly agreeable life with her parents and brothers in wealthy London, as well as a budding romance with Booth, the neighborhood bookseller’s son. But while their parents are at a ball, the charmingly beautiful Peter Pan comes to the Darling children’s nursery and—dazzled by this flying boy with god-like powers—they follow him out of the window and straight on to morning, to Neverland, a intoxicating island of feral freedom.
As time passes in Neverland, Wendy realizes that this Lost Boy’s paradise of turquoise seas, mermaids, and pirates holds terrible secrets rooted in blood and greed. As Peter’s grasp on her heart tightens, she struggles to remember where she came from—and begins to suspect that this island of dreams, and the boy who desires her—have the potential to transform into an everlasting nightmare.


stacking-the-shelves

I’m also joining in with Stacking the Shelves (hosted by Tynga’s Reviews), which is all about sharing all the books you’ve acquired in the past week – ebooks or physical books, and books you’ve bought or borrowed or received an ARC of.

Books I’ve bought:

every time a bell rings

Every Time A Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington

An angel gets its wings…

Belle has taken all the Christmas decorations down. This year they won’t be celebrating.

As foster parents, Belle and Jim have given many children the chance of a happier start in life. They’ve loved them as if they were their own. They shouldn’t have favourites but little Lauren has touched their hearts. And now her mother is well enough to take her back and Belle can’t bear the loss.

Hence, Christmas is cancelled.

So when Jim crashes his car one icy December night, after an argument about Lauren, Belle can only blame herself. Everything she loves is lost. And Belle finds herself standing on The Ha’Penny Bridge wishing she had never been born.

But what happens to a Christmas wish when an angel is listening…

12080721_10208053670124026_1305089176_n

The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin (I’m on the blog tour for this book so will be reviewing it on 2nd November. In the meantime I was lucky enough to be given an excerpt from the book to post on my blog yesterday. Here’s the link: Excerpt from The Little Bookshop on the Seine

Bookshop owner Sarah Smith has been offered the opportunity to exchange bookshops with her new Parisian friend for 6 months! And saying yes is a no-brainer – after all, what kind of a romantic would turn down a trip to Paris…for Christmas?

Even if it does mean leaving the irresistible Ridge Warner behind, Sarah’s sure she’s in for the holiday of a lifetime – complete with all the books she can read!

Imagining days wandering around Shakespeare & Co, munching on croissants, sipping café au laits and watching the snow fall on the Champs-Élysées Sarah boards the plane.

But will her dream of a Parisian Happily-Ever-After come true? Or will Sarah realise that the dream of a Christmas fairytale in the city of love isn’t quite as rosy in reality…

cherry tree cafe

The Cherry Tree Cafe by Heidi Swain

Lizzie Dixon’s life feels as though it’s fallen apart. Instead of the marriage proposal she was hoping for from her boyfriend, she is unceremoniously dumped, and her job is about to go the same way. So, there’s only one option: to go back home to the village she grew up in and to try to start again.
Her best friend Jemma is delighted Lizzie has come back home. She has just bought a little cafe and needs help in getting it ready for the grand opening. And Lizzie’s sewing skills are just what she needs.
With a new venture and a new home, things are looking much brighter for Lizzie. But can she get over her broken heart, and will an old flame reignite a love from long ago…?

dear cathy love mary

Dear Cathy… Love, Mary: The Year We Grew Up — Tender, Funny and Revealing Letters From 1980s Ireland by Catherine Conlon & Mary Phelan
It’s the era of Dynasty, Murphy’s Micro Quiz-M and MT-USA on the telly, Kajagoogoo, Culture Club and Chris de Burgh in the charts. And also a time of mass emigration and creeping social change.
In 1983 in Carrick-on-Suir two 18-year-olds take tentative steps into the future: Cathy to become an au pair, Mary to study accountancy. For a year they exchange long gossipy letters.
The letters are touching, funny, tender and gutsy. They show the girls’ growing pains as they make sense of their new lives, dream about finding love, and start to realise that the world is a more complex and challenging place than they had ever imagined.
Most of all, Cathy and Mary’s letters are filled with the eternal optimism and sense of wonderment of youth.

fates and furies

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.
At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity and power that is unlike anything that has come before it. Profound, surprising, propulsive and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart.

spill simmer falter wither

Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume

You find me on a Tuesday, on my Tuesday trip to town. A note sellotaped to the inside of the jumble-shop window: COMPASSIONATE & TOLERANT OWNER. A PERSON WITHOUT OTHER PETS & WITHOUT CHILDREN UNDER FOUR.
A misfit man finds a misfit dog. Ray, aged fifty-seven, ‘too old for starting over, too young for giving up’, and One Eye, a vicious little bugger, smaller than expected, a good ratter. Both are accustomed to being alone, unloved, outcast – but they quickly find in each other a strange companionship of sorts. As spring turns to summer, their relationship grows and intensifies, until a savage act forces them to abandon the precarious life they’d established, and take to the road.
Spill Simmer Falter Wither is a wholly different kind of love story: a devastating portrait of loneliness, loss and friendship, and of the scars that are more than skin-deep. Written with tremendous empathy and insight, in lyrical language that surprises and delights, this is an extraordinary and heartbreaking debut by a major new talent

three and a half heartbeats

Three-And-A-Half-Heartbeats by Amanda Prowse

Grace and Tom Penderford had a strong marriage, a comfortable home in the Hertfordshire countryside, and a healthy baby girl. They were happy. They were normal.

But soon after Chloe turns three, tragedy strikes. A disease called Sepsis claims the life of their daughter, devastating their little family. The Penderfords had never heard of Sepsis – a cruel, indiscriminate disease that claims a life somewhere in the world every three and a half seconds. Now, with their world crumbling, they must mend each others broken hearts… and try to save their marriage if they can.

To find out more about this tragic disease, please visit http://www.sepsistrust.org. All the proceeds from this novel will go straight to the Sepsis Trust. By buying it, you will help in their battle to save lives. Thank you for making a difference.

Arcs I received (which I’m beyond excited about!):

beautiful broken things

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

I was brave
She was reckless
We were trouble
Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realizes, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

shtum

Shtum by Jem Lester

Ben Jewell has hit breaking point. His ten-year-old son Jonah has severe autism and Ben and his wife, Emma, are struggling to cope.

When Ben and Emma fake a separation – a strategic decision to further Jonah’s case in an upcoming tribunal – Ben and Jonah move in with Georg, Ben’s elderly father. In a small house in North London, three generations of men – one who can’t talk; two who won’t – are thrown together.

As Ben battles single fatherhood, a string of well-meaning social workers and his own demons, he learns some difficult home truths. Jonah, blissful in his innocence, becomes the prism through which all the complicated strands of personal identity, family history and misunderstanding are finally untangled.

the silent dead

The Silent Dead by Claire McGowan

Victim: Male. Mid-thirties. 5’7″.
Cause of death: Hanging. Initial impression – murder.
ID: Mickey Doyle. Suspected terrorist and member of the Mayday Five.

The officers at the crime scene know exactly who the victim is.
Doyle was one of five suspected bombers who caused the deaths of sixteen people.

The remaining four are also missing and when a second body is found, decapitated, it’s clear they are being killed by the same methods their victims suffered.

Forensic psychologist Paula Maguire is assigned the case but she is up against the clock – both personally and professionally.

With moral boundaries blurred between victim and perpetrator, will be Paula be able to find those responsible? After all, even killers deserve justice, don’t they?

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of A Fist

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of A Fist by Sunil Yapa

A heart-stopping debut about protest and riot . . .

1999. Victor, homeless after a family tragedy, finds himself pounding the streets of Seattle with little meaning or purpose. He is the estranged son of the police chief of the city, and today his father is in charge of one of the biggest protests in the history of Western democracy.

But in a matter of hours reality will become a nightmare. Hordes of protesters – from all sections of society – will test the patience of the city’s police force, and lives will be altered forever: two armed police officers will struggle to keep calm amid the threat of violence; a protester with a murderous past will make an unforgivable mistake; and a delegate from Sri Lanka will do whatever it takes to make it through the crowd to a meeting – a meeting that could dramatically change the fate of his country. In amongst the fray, Victor and his father are heading for a collision too.

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, set during the World Trade Organization protests, is a deeply charged novel showcasing a distinct and exciting new literary voice.

WWW Wednesday (14th October)

WWW pic

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’m reading now:

13 mins

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

I’ve read 88% of this on my Kindle and it’s absolutely brilliant, I can’t wait to get back to it!

Here’s the blurb:

I was dead for 13 minutes.

I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?

13 MINUTES by Sarah Pinborough is a gripping psychological thriller about people, fears, manuiplation and the power of the truth. A stunning read, it questions our relationships – and what we really know about the people closest to us . . .

AND

wendy darling

Wendy Darling by Colleen Oakes

I’ve only read the first six chapters so far and I really enjoyed them. The Darling children have just arrived at Neverland so I’m interested to see what Oakes does differently from the original Peter Pan story.

Here’s the blurb:

Wendy Darling has a perfectly agreeable life with her parents and brothers in wealthy London, as well as a budding romance with Booth, the neighborhood bookseller’s son. But one night, while their parents are at a ball, the charmingly beautiful Peter Pan comes to the Darling children’s nursery, and—dazzled by this flying boy with god-like powers—they follow him out of the window and straight on to morning into Neverland, an intoxicating island of freedom.
As time passes in Neverland, Wendy realizes that this Lost Boy’s paradise of turquoise seas, mermaids, and pirates holds terrible secrets rooted in blood and greed. As Peter’s grasp on her heart tightens, she struggles to remember where she came from—and begins to suspect that this island of dreams, and the boy who desires her, have the potential to transform into an everlasting nightmare.


I recently finished reading…

24 hours

24 Hours by Claire Seeber (click here for my review)

I really enjoyed this book, it’s a brilliant thriller that I found genuinely impossible to put down!

Here’s the blurb:

Here today. Dead tomorrow?

My best friend, Emily, is dead – killed last night in a hotel fire.

But it was meant to be me.

Now I have 24 hours to find my daughter.

Before he finds out I’m still alive.

24 Hours is a fast-paced, intelligent psychological thriller that will leave you breathless.

AND

Broken Heart Book Club

The Broken Hearts Book Club by Lynsey James (Click here for my review)

I loved this book, I highly recommend it.

Here’s the blurb:

Secrets never stay buried for long…Lucy Harper has always been good at one thing: running from her past. But when her beloved Nana Lily passes away she has no choice except to return to the one place in the world she most wants to avoid…

Luna Bay hasn’t changed much in the eight years she has spent in London. The little Yorkshire village is still just as beautiful, but the new pub landlord is a gorgeous addition to the scenery!
Lucy only intended to stay for a day, yet when she discovers that Nana Lily has not only left her a cottage but also ‘The Broken Hearts Book Club’, Lucy is intrigued. Her Nana never have mentioned the club and Lucy can’t wait to get started, but walking into her first meeting she is more aware than ever that her past is finally catching up with her.
One way or another, Lucy must finally face the secrets she’s kept buried for so long – or spend the rest of her life on the run…
AND
The Good Neighbor
Another very enjoyable read from this week, I read this in one sitting too. Amy Sue Nathan writes such great characters that you miss them when you finish reading.
Here’s the blurb:

Izzy Lane never thought of herself as a liar. In fact, she’s always played by the rules. She’s an excellent mother, has loyal friends, and a rich career as a school counselor. Fresh from a new divorce, however, Izzy feels like she needs a little fun. So when, on a whim, she starts a blog it seems like a rather benign indulgence. But as her online quips begin to gain traction, Izzy makes a slip. Somehow a new boyfriend winds his way into the picture. The problem? Izzy makes him up.

What, at first, feels like a harmless fib quickly spins out of control and Izzy must figure out how to balance fantasy and reality. Keeping up appearances while managing an absent ex-husband, two very nosy friends, a toddler son, and full-time job soon prove impossible, and Izzy feels utterly lost. It’s only when her long-time neighbor and surrogate mother, Mrs. Feldman, re-enters her life that Izzy begins to see the mess she’s made. And it’s with Mrs. Feldman’s guidance that Izzy learns to face reality, find comfort in new norms, and open herself up to the possibility of real love.


What I’ll be reading next:

the girl with no past

The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft

I’ve already read a couple of chapters of this and I think it’s going to be another one of those books that’s very hard to put down!

Here’s the blurb:

Leah Mills lives a life of a fugitive – kept on the run by one terrible day from her past. It is a lonely life, without a social life or friends until – longing for a connection – she meets Julian. For the first time she dares to believe she can live a normal life.
Then, on the twentieth anniversary of that day, she receives a card. Someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed the life Leah has created.
But is Leah all she seems? Or does she deserve everything she gets?
Everyone has secrets. But some are deadly.

AND

Christmas wishes and mistletoe kisses

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale

I love a good Christmas book and I cannot wait to start this one, I’m excited already!

Here’s the blurb:

Single mother Abbey Fuller loves her family more than anything, and doesn’t regret for a moment having had to put her dreams of being an interior designer on hold. But with her son, Max, growing up, when a friend recommends her for a small design job she jumps at the chance. How hard can it be?
Nick Sinclair needs his house decorated in time for his family’s festive visit – and money is no object. What he doesn’t need is to be distracted from his multi-million dollar business – even if it is Christmas.
When Abbey pulls up to the huge Sinclair mansion, she has a feeling she might be out of her depth. And when she meets the gorgeous, brooding Nicholas Sinclair, she knows that she’s in real trouble…
With the snow falling all around, can Abbey take the chance to make her dreams of being a designer come true? And can she help Nick to finally enjoy the magic of Christmas?

My Weekly Wrap Up and Stacking the Shelves!

I’ve decided to attempt to do a regular post where I wrap up everything bookish I’ve done over the previous week!

This week I read and reviewed four books:

six poets

Six Poets: From Hardy to Larkin by Alan Bennett, which is a joy to read.

the lies we tell

The Lies We Tell by Meg Carter, which is a great debut thriller.

pretending to dance

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain, which is one of her best books to date!

24 hours

24 Hours by Claire Seeber, a brilliant thriller that I honestly could not put down!


I started reading:

Broken Heart Book ClubThe Broken Hearts Book Club by Lynsey James (Out tomorrow on Amazon!)

Lucy Harper has always been good at one thing: running from her past. But when her beloved Nana Lily passes away she has no choice except to return to the one place in the world she most wants to avoid…
Luna Bay hasn’t changed much in the eight years she has spent in London. The little Yorkshire village is still just as beautiful, but the new pub landlord is a gorgeous addition to the scenery!
Lucy only intended to stay for a day, yet when she discovers that Nana Lily has not only left her a cottage but also ‘The Broken Hearts Book Club’, Lucy is intrigued. Her Nana never have mentioned the club and Lucy can’t wait to get started, but walking into her first meeting she is more aware than ever that her past is finally catching up with her.

wendy darlingWendy Darling by Colleen Oakes (Out on Tuesday from Amazon)

Wendy Darling has a perfectly agreeable life with her parents and brothers in wealthy London, as well as a budding romance with Booth, the neighborhood bookseller’s son. But one night, while their parents are at a ball, the charmingly beautiful Peter Pan comes to the Darling children’s nursery, and—dazzled by this flying boy with god-like powers—they follow him out of the window and straight on to morning into Neverland, an intoxicating island of freedom.
As time passes in Neverland, Wendy realizes that this Lost Boy’s paradise of turquoise seas, mermaids, and pirates holds terrible secrets rooted in blood and greed. As Peter’s grasp on her heart tightens, she struggles to remember where she came from—and begins to suspect that this island of dreams, and the boy who desires her, have the potential to transform into an everlasting nightmare.

The Good Neighbor

The Good Neighbor by Amy Sue Nathan (Out on Tuesday from Amazon).

Izzy Lane never thought of herself as a liar. In fact, she’s always played by the rules. She’s an excellent mother, has loyal friends, and a rich career as a school counselor. Fresh from a new divorce, however, Izzy feels like she needs a little fun. So when, on a whim, she starts a blog it seems like a rather benign indulgence. But as her online quips begin to gain traction, Izzy makes a slip. Somehow a new boyfriend winds his way into the picture. The problem? Izzy makes him up.

What, at first, feels like a harmless fib quickly spins out of control and Izzy must figure out how to balance fantasy and reality. Keeping up appearances while managing an absent ex-husband, two very nosy friends, a toddler son, and full-time job soon prove impossible, and Izzy feels utterly lost. It’s only when her long-time neighbor and surrogate mother, Mrs. Feldman, re-enters her life that Izzy begins to see the mess she’s made. And it’s with Mrs. Feldman’s guidance that Izzy learns to face reality, find comfort in new norms, and open herself up to the possibility of real love.


stacking-the-shelves

I’m also joining in with Stacking the Shelves (hosted by Tynga’s Reviews), which is all about sharing all the books you’ve acquired in the past week – ebooks or physical books, and books you’ve bought or borrowed or received an ARC of.

So Books I bought this week:

maple syrup farmSecrets at Maple Syrup Farm by Rebecca Raisin (currently 99p in the Amazon Kindle autumn sale)

Lucy would do anything for her mom…but she never expected to end up promising to leave her. After her mom got sick, Lucy dropped everything to take care of her, working all hours in a greasy diner just to make ends meet and spending every spare moments she had by her mom’s hospital bedside.

Now, Lucy is faced with a whole year of living by her own rules, starting by taking the first bus out of town to anywhere…

Except she didn’t expect to find her next big adventure just around the corner! Especially when on her first day in town she bumps into grumpy, but oh-so-delicious Clay amidst the maple trees. Surrounded by the magic of Ashford, Lucy has the chance to change her life forever and finally discover a life she wants to live!

cranberry cottageChristmas at Cranberry Cottage by Talli Roland

With a whirlwind lifestyle travelling the world, the one thing Jess Millward relies on is Christmas with her gran in cosy Cranberry Cottage. When her grandmother reveals the house is directly in the path of a new high-speed railway, Jess is determined to fight.
Can Jess save the cottage from demolition, or will she have no home to come to this Christmas?

very big house countryA Very Big House in the Country by Claire Sandy currently (only 59p on Amazon).

‘Holidays are about surviving the gaps between one meal and another.’

For one long hot summer in Devon, three families are sharing one very big house in the country. The Herreras: made up of two tired parents, three grumbling children and one promiscuous dog; the Littles: he’s loaded (despite two divorces and five kids), she’s gorgeous, but maybe the equation for a truly happy marriage is a bit more complicated than that; and the Browns, who seem oddly jumpy around people, but especially each other.

By the pool, new friendships blossom; at the aga door, resentments begin to simmer. Secret crushes are formed and secret cigarettes cadged by the teens, as the adults loosen their inhibitions with litres of white wine and start to get perhaps a little too honest …

Mother hen to all, Evie Herreras has a life-changing announcement to make, one that could rock the foundations of her family. But will someone else beat her to it?

life or deathLife or Death by Michael Robotham (currently 99p on Amazon).

Why would a man escape from prison the day before he’s due to be released?
Audie Palmer has spent a decade in prison for an armed robbery in which four people died, including two of the gang. Seven million dollars has never been recovered and everybody believes that Audie knows where the money is.

For ten years he has been beaten, stabbed, throttled and threatened almost daily by prison guards, inmates and criminal gangs, who all want to answer this same question, but suddenly Audie vanishes, the day before he’s due to be released.

Everybody wants to find Audie, but he’s not running. Instead he’s trying to save a life . . . and not just his own.

surviving the rachelSurviving the Rachel by Aven Ellis

Bree Logan is ready to start her post-college life, but when she’s dumped by The One, unable to land a professional job, and has to move back in with her parents, she doesn’t think things can get worse until she ends up with her hair chopped into The Rachel, the infamous haircut made famous by the show Friends. Which is not good since it’s no longer 1994. But sometimes you have to go through challenges to get what you really need, and for Bree, could that include a different career and a romance with Jack Chelten, the boy-next-door?

sw19 clubThe SW19 Club by Nicola May

What would you do if you were told you could never have children?
Faced with this news, Gracie Davies is at an all-time low. But with the support of some new Wimbledon friends, an unorthodox therapist, her hippy-chick sister Naomi and Czech call-girl Maya, she sets up The SW19 Club and begins her rocky journey to inner peace and happiness. Add in a passionate fling with handsome landscaper Ed, a fairytale encounter with a Hollywood filmstar and the persistence of her adulterous ex, life is anything but predictable…

believarexicBelievarexic by J. J. Johnson

Asking for help is only the first step
Jennifer can’t go on like this—binging, purging, starving, all while trying to appear like she’s got it all together. But when she finally confesses her secret to her parents and is hospitalized at the Samuel Tuke Center, her journey is only beginning.
As Jennifer progresses through her treatment, she learns to recognize her relationships with food, friends, and family—and how each relationship is healthy or unhealthy. She has to learn to trust herself and her own instincts, but that’s easier than it sounds. She has to believe—after many years of being a believarexic.
Using her trademark dark humor and powerful emotion, J. J. Johnson tells an inspiring story that is based on her own experience of being hospitalized for an eating disorder as a teenager. The innovative format—which tells Jennifer’s story through blank verse and prose, with changes in tense and voice, and uses forms, workbooks, and journal entries—mirrors the protagonist’s progress toward a healthy body and mind.