Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Guest Review: Death of A Liar by MC Beaton

Sergeant Hamish Macbeth is alarmed to receive a report from a woman in the small village of Cronish in the Scottish Highlands. She has been brutally attacked and the criminal is on the loose. But upon further investigation, Hamish discovers that she was lying about the crime. So when the same woman calls him back about an intruder, he simply marvels at her compulsion to lie. This time, though, she is telling the truth. Her body is found in her home and Hamish must sort through all of her lies to solve the crime. 

Another captivating tale from the wonderful MC Beaton, one of my favourite authors. This latest offering is the 30th book in the Hamish Macbeth series; I've read each and every one. Brimming full of humour and intrigue, they never fail to entertain. 

Hamish is his usual self, solving murder cases using a bit of skill and a bit of luck, and always looking out for true love to come his way. A few new contenders for his heart appear in this story, as do a couple we have met before. As regular readers of this series would expect, the 'liar' of the title is not the only character to die in this latest adventure. As usual, Hamish is kept busy from his little police station in the picturesque west highland village of Lochdubh. The plot of this story was quite complex and kept me guessing until the end.

As well as details of murderers and their fiendish plots, books in this series are full of wonderful evocative descriptions of the north west of Scotland, an area dear to my heart. MC Beaton manages to bring the area to life.

This book can be enjoyed without having read any of the other 29 tales in the series, but I'm sure that readers unfamiliar with Hamish and his exploits will be tempted to try some more.  

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I enjoyed recently that were out of my comfort zone 23.2.16

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

1. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

2. Follow Me by Angela Clarke

3. Between Sisters by Cathy Kelly

4. Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell

5, Resistance is Futile by Jenny Colgan

6. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

7. Monty and Me by Louise Bennet

8. Letters to The Lost by Iona Grey

9. The Lie by CL Taylor

10. Maze Runner by James Dashner

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Review: The Cherry Tree Cafe by Heidi Swain

Cupcakes, crafting and love at The Cherry Tree Cafe... 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...? For everyone who loves settling down to watch Great British Bake-Off, the Great British Sewing Bee, or curling up to read Milly Johnson or Jenny Colgan, The Cherry Tree Cafe is a coffee-break treat.

This is the debut novel by the author, but I'm sure I won't be the only reader to be waiting eagerly for her next offering. Even the gorgeous cover of this book has you keen to open it up and find out what transpires within its pages. From page one, it hooked me in and had me glued to the pages. 

The story revolves around Lizzie Dixon. We meet her on her birthday, when she is preparing to go out to dinner with her boyfriend of 18 months, Giles, who she thinks is about to propose to her. Quite the contrary, he breaks up with her to return to his ex. Homeless and eventually jobless, Lizzie decides to return from London to her home town of Wynbridge where her old school friend Jemma and her husband Tom have recently taken over the Cherry Tree Cafe and are in the process of returning it to its former glory. They offer her accommodation in the self-contained flat above the cafe and she gets involved in their project. With more time on her hands, Lizzie rediscovers her love of crafting, and an idea is born. There are lots of other characters to meet along the way. All of them have strong parts and their own interesting stories. These include: Ben, Lizzie's high school crush, who has also recently returned home; Jay, a newspaper reporter; Lizzie's mum and dad; and Deborah and Heather, who own a crafting cafe in London. 

I really enjoyed reading this novel. I found most of the characters likeable, but it was good to have a few evil ones in there for good measure. I really liked the way that Lizzie's mum changed as the story progressed. I feel sure that there is something for everyone here - humour, drama, baking, sewing and, of course, romance. I would like nothing better than to walk into Cherry Tree Cafe, order a tea and one of the marvellous-sounding cakes and maybe run up a cushion cover. The book would make a perfect holiday read or equally one to curl up with while it's pouring outside yet again. I for one will be looking for more from Heidi Swain. 

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Valentines Reads 9.2.16

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

This is the perfect time of year to crack out those romantic, cosy reads. It's cold outside but we have blankets and duvets a plenty inside and it just makes me want to snuggle up and read a book (also go to sleep but that's not what this blog is about!) So here are the books I recommend for doing just that.

1. Anna and the French Kiss series by Stephanice Perkins. Any of these novels would be great for settling down with this February 14th, plus they're quick reads so you could actually read them on that day!

2. I'll take New York/Fairytale of New Yrok by Miranda Dickinson. You'll definitely need a cup of coffee or two to go with these as coffee is such a key theme but also possible to read these beauties back to back in a 24 hour period (I've done it!)

3. Letters to the Lost by Iona grey. Hugely romantic and definitely one if you fancy a weepy!

4. Fairytale Beginnings by Holly Martin, definitely disney romance, for the sickly sweet side of Valentines.

5. This was so romantic it gave me butterflies, The Piano Man project by Kat french.

6. If you're single but dating, Age, Sex Location by Melissa Pimentel should definitely be on your list. This was so true it was almost unreal, I loved it!

7. Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell, definitely one for restoring your faith in love, such a good read!

8. The Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella. Luke Brandon-need I say more?

9. The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance by Kirsty Greenwood. I loved this book and it filled me with all the feels, defo a great V-Day read!

10. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Another one if you fancy a life-affirming weepy!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Quick Reads 10th anniversary

Last night I was lucky enough to go to the launch of the quick reads anniversary edition of short stories. The collection celebrates the 10th anniversary of the fabulous organisation that is quick reads. The event was held in Foyles on Charing Cross road, a lovely store, and featured readings from just a few of the amazing authors that have written short stories for the anniversary edition. Of course Quick Reads have released their usual collection of great reads this year too but some of my favourite authors are featured in this collection and so I was thrilled to be going! 

Veronica Henry took to the stage first. She edited the collection of short stories and read to us from her story Love Me Tender. It was great to have a snapshot of this story full of Elvis songs and hear that her usual writing style is clear throughout! 

Next Fanny Blake read her short story The Other Half. I really love listening to Fanny read and she actually read us the whole thing, definitely one I'd recommend! 

Elizabeth Buchanan was up next and she, again, read us her whole story. This one was seriously moving and featured a flashback to a memory about the D-Day landings, really intriguing! Her story is called moment of Glory. 

When Rowan Coleman took to the stage, it was particularly relevant that she was here, writing for quick reads again. Her first quick reads was in the first round of titles and was later relaunched giving all the proceeds to a domestic violence charity. Rowan herself is dyslexic and was fairly disconnected with reading when she was younger. She spoke about how she now speaks to groups of school children about dyslexia and explains to them that, despite the disconnect with her and literacy, she has now written over 2 million words! Rowan then read some of her story, leaving us on a cliffhanger. I read the rest of the story as soon as I got on the tube after the event-lots of fabulous twists in such a short space! Her story is called Birthday Secret. 

Matt Haig took the stage next and talked about how important books, reading and fiction is to mental health and himself. He read from his story A Walk Outside, explaining that it was inspired by his own agoraphobia. 

After all the authors has read, we had some really interesting questions from the audience, including a question as to why Quick Reads don't do 2 releases a year, only one. I for one would love to see another release during the year. I find quick reads so useful for times like these when all my attention is on my job and I don't have the scope to sit down and devour a novel like I normally would. I love a quick reads because I feel I can accomplish that 'I finished a book' feeling in a matter of days when the end of a full length novel just wouldn't be seen at the moment. This collection of short stories is even better because i can manage to get through a whole one in minutes so I get to read three fabulous authors in one sitting! 

It was a great event and hosted incredibly well by Good Reads commissioning editor Cathy Rentzenbrink who was awesome with her questioning and a very open and honest host. 

Don't forget that this year's quick reads launch today and there are some fab titles to get your hands on! 

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Guest review: A Most Desirable Marriage by Hilary Boyd

Lawrence and Jo have enjoyed a strong marriage, the envy of their friends. Even after thirty years they have lots to say to each other, many interests in common and, until recently, a good sex life.
But Lawrence seems wary and restless. Something's wrong. Just how wrong, Jo is about to discover...
Can they use their years of history - all the things they've shared - to overcome a devastating betrayal?

I was attracted to this book as it is unusual to find a story dealing with the 'older generation' and the problems that may be rumbling away beneath even the most stable-looking long marriage. 

Jo and Lawrence have been married for 37 years and he is on the point of retiring from his university lecturer job when he drops a bombshell that splits them up. Until then, everybody - friends, family, Jo herself - thinks that they have a strong, even perfect, marriage. Lawrence's revelation leaves them all reeling. We then follow Jo in particular as she deals with Lawrence's betrayal and tries to pick up the threads of her life. She must deal with the effects on her 2 grown up children who are shocked by what has happened, and have personal problems of their own that must be addressed. She also has to try to continue with her own career as a writer of fiction for young adults - after all, there are financial implications of the situation. Most of all, she must try to sort out in her head how she feels about Lawrence and what the eventual outcome will be.  

This is the second of Hilary Boyd's novels that I have read and I shall watch out for more from her. This one had me picking it up whenever I had a moment as I had no idea at all how it was all going to play out and was intrigued to see what would happen. It was certainly thought-provoking, but, even so, I don't think I would say that I enjoyed it immensely. I found that I didn't agree with a lot of Jo's actions and couldn't warm to many of the characters. However, it is undoubtedly refreshing to find a storyline featuring slightly older people and dealing with the fallout from a very difficult situation. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Historical Settings I'd Love to See! 2.2.16

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Ok, so I'm not a fan of historical fiction generally, although if you follow my blog regularly, you'll know that I occasionaly find a gem that captures my heart, so this week was a little bit tricky for me. I've done my best-take a look...

1. The 90s. I know I could just pick up a book from the 90s and see it in all its glory, but I would really like it if there were some flashbacks, like I've seen in one of Alexandra Potter's novels for instance.

2. The 70s (see above)

3. The 50s - I loved Richard Medely's novel set in the Florida Keys in the 50s!

4. The Victoria Era. I'd love to see some more modern books with aspects of Jaqueline Wilson's Hetty Feather in it-such a great idea!

5. The 00s, again, I'd love a flashback to the millenium

Are you sensing the theme of flashbacks here? See this is why I loved One Day so much, you got to see multiple eras all in the one book!

6. YA fiction set in WW2. I loved Carmen Reid's war novel, it was YA but infromative!

7. YA fiction set in WW1 (see above!)

8. The year I was born. Perhaps I should write a book set on the day I was born to showcase what various people, famous and non-famous, were doing that day?!

Ok I've run out now. I like reading about people like me set in a time an location that I can relate to. These are some of my favourite periods of history and, I'll be honest, I'm not very good at picturing other eras or even into the future so I'm pretty much screwed for this week. I tried my best-what more can you ask?

Monday, 1 February 2016

Cover reveal! After The Lie by Kerry Fisher

I am very excited to have a cover reveal for you today. This summer I enjoyed The Island Escape by Kerry Fisher, it had everything I wanted in a summer read and her next novel is being published on 29th April so, as you can imagine, I am seriously excited for that too! 

The cover hasn't been seen by anyone yet, literally not a soul but at 1pm today, I can finally reveal it to you all. Here's a bit about the book first...

After the Lie by Kerry Fisher

An addictive and gripping read about love, life and living a lie … 
One little lie can make one big difference … 

Lydia has the ‘right’ kind of friends, her children are at the ‘right’ kind of school and she’s married to the ‘right’ sort of man – kind, steady, reliable Mark. Her wedding business is flourishing and even though she is at loggerheads with her mother, she couldn’t ask for anything more from life. 

But the truth is that Lydia has been lucky. She has been living a lie for years and Mark has no idea who he is really married to. But nothing lasts forever and the past has a funny way of catching up with the present. When the person who knows all of Lydia’s dark little secrets turns up at the school gates, his presence threatens to blow Lydia’s life apart. 

What is Lydia’s terrible truth? Once the secret is out, you can’t put it back … 

Publication date: 29th April 2016.

Available to pre-order now.

Drum roll please......

Seriously intriguing! Don't forget to click the link to pre-order your copy, I'm sure it will be a truly fantastic read and keep scrolling down to find out a little more about Kerry. If ylu haven't read The Island Escape yet either, then that is definitely one to pick up right now to banish those winter blues!

About Kerry Fisher

Born in Peterborough, Kerry Fisher studied French and Italian at Bath University, followed by several years working as an English teacher in Corsica and Spain before topping the dizzying heights of holiday rep and grape picker in Tuscany. She eventually succumbed to 'getting a proper job' and returned to England to study Periodical Journalism at City University. After two years working in the features department at Essentials magazine in London, love carried her off to the wilds of the West Pennine moors near Bolton. She now lives in Surrey with her husband (of whisking off to Bolton fame), two teenagers and a very naughty lab/schnauzer called Poppy. Kerry can often be seen trailing across the Surrey Hills whistling and waving pieces of chicken while the dog practises her 'talk to the tail'. 

Kerry has spent half her life talking about writing a novel, then several years at Candismagazine reviewing other people's but it wasn't until she took some online courses with the UCLA (University of California) that the dream started to morph into reality, culminating in the publishing of The Class Ceiling. The Avon imprint of HarperCollins picked it up and retitled it The School Gate Survival Guide, published summer 2014. Her second book, The Island Escape, came out in May 2015. It won first prize at the York Festival of Writing for the opening line: 'I was wearing the wrong bra for sitting in a police cell'. 

Best advice ever received: 'This is fiction, we can skip the boring bits.' Lynn Hightower, UCLA Writers' Program. 
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