Wednesday 22 March 2023

Guest Review: The Lost Notebook by Louise Douglas

It’s summer and holidaymakers are flocking to the idyllic Brittany coast. But when first an old traveller woman dies in suspicious circumstances, and then a campaign of hate seemingly drives another victim to take his own life, events take a very dark turn.

Mila Shepherd has come to France to look after her niece, Ani, following the accident in which both Ani’s parents were lost at sea. Mila has moved into their family holiday home, as well as taken her sister Sophie’s place in an agency which specialises in tracking down missing people, until new recruit Carter Jackson starts.

It’s clear that malevolent forces are at work in Morranez, but the local police are choosing to look the other way. Only Mila and Carter can uncover the truth about what’s really going on in this beautiful, but mysterious place before anyone else suffers. But someone is desperate to protect a terrible truth, at any cost…

Review: This is my first book from this author. I was drawn to the story as it sounded to be a bit of a mystery and a little different from my usual reads. The plot grabbed me from the very start and I enjoyed to trip to Brittany and trying to solve the puzzle within the book’s pages.

The story concerns Lila Shepherd, who has moved temporarily to the lovely seaside town of Morranez to look after her niece Ani following the tragic death of her sister and brother-in-law. All is not as peaceful as expected in the popular tourist destination. First of all, a traveller woman dies in her caravan under suspicious circumstances, some of her belongings having disappeared at the same time. Then an academic is hounded apparently to take his own life. Having failed to convince the police that anything is wrong, Lila, who is working at her stepmother’s agency that specialises in tracing lost individuals, joins forces with new colleague Carter Jackson to try and discover what really happened to these two victims. They put themselves into severe danger in the process, and what they eventually uncover is truly shocking. 

I very much enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who likes a good mystery. I wasn’t sure that I liked Lila at the start, but she soon grew on me, especially as it became clear that she was really committed to doing the best for the niece who had suddenly become her responsibility. The little down of Morranez sounds a fabulous place to spend a holiday but the proximity of the sea must have been difficult for the family after the tragic end of Lila’s sister. I liked the idea that all through the story Lila communicated with her deceased sister about all sorts of things, sometimes receiving unwelcome advice. I was unsure about Carter Jackson, who suddenly appeared on the scene claiming to have a background in investigation; I felt that there was maybe more to his story but that avenue was not explored. It was not until quite a way into the story that the real element of danger emerged and I became concerned for the safety of Lila and Ani in particular. I will definitely be looking out for more books by this author and hoping that their storylines can catch my imagination as well as this one has. 

To order your copy now, just click here!

Saturday 18 March 2023

Guest Review: The Ordnance Survey Journey Through Time By Ordnance Survey and Tim Dedopulos

Join the nation's favourite puzzle brand as we take a journey through landscape and history.

In this brand new puzzle book in the bestselling Ordnance Survery series, take a trip through time - from the earliest recorded footsteps of humans in Britain, to the spot where Caesar first surveyed Britannia, to the beaches where the battle of 1066 took place, and on through some of the most iconic moments in British history (as well as plenty of less well-known historical treasures!).

Including 40 new regional maps and hundreds of puzzles, mind-boggling brainteasers, navigational tests, word games, code-crackers, anagrams and mathematical conundrums, there will be plenty to keep you occupied as you go!

With maps covering the whole of the UK and puzzles ranging across four levels of difficulty, The Ordnance Survey Journey Through Time is an adventure for all the family.

Review: This is another treat for all map addicts! It comprises a collection of forty maps produced by Ordnance Survey, Britain's mapping agency, selected for their connection to particular historical events. Alongside each map there is an introductory explanation about the historical event connected with it, together with a set of puzzles about features shown on the map.

The puzzles are graded under four headings: Easy; Medium; Tricky; and Challenging, although to be honest, I found them all equally difficult. They range from identifying certain features on the maps and navigational skills to word puzzles, anagrams and ciphers, so there is something for people with different aptitudes. An eye for detail is definitely an asset for solving the puzzles.

However, it is the maps and their introductory notes that are the book's crowning glory. The maps are of various locations in cities, towns and the countryside throughout Britain. Some of the areas, such as the city of York, were familiar to me, but others were less so. The book is divided into eight sections, each covering a distinct historical period, starting from the Prehistoric, Mesolithic and Neolithic Era and finishing in the 20th century.

Hence, if you enjoy maps, journeying through time and solving clues, then get out your magnifying glass since this is the book for you.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Wednesday 15 March 2023

Guest Review: Honeymoon for One by Portia Macintosh

When disaster strikes, paradise calls...

As a published novelist, Lila Rose has been writing about fictional weddings all her life. But disaster strikes on her own big day when she hears her philandering fiancé, Daniel whispering sweet nothings to someone else.

With her dream day shattered, all Lila wants to do is run and hide, so she decides to fly solo on her own honeymoon.

When Daniel arrives in the resort with his new squeeze, Lila strikes up a ‘showmance’ with hot new movie star, Freddie Bianchi. Freddie is perfect for the part and Lila soon relaxes into her leading lady role.

But as truth starts to merge with fiction, could real love be in the air?

Review: Portia Macintosh is well known for her romantic comedy books, but this is just the second one I have read. I will say at the outset that I found it entertaining from start to finish and absolutely hilarious a lot of the time. 

The story concerns novelist Lila, who the reader meets on her wedding day, just as she is about to get into her fabulous dress. She goes to fetch something from the garden where she unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) witnesses her husband-to-be Daniel in a romantic embrace with one of her friends. Lila instantly flees, and, deciding that it would be a shame to waste the luxurious honeymoon she booked, sets off on her own. At first unsure if she has done the right thing, being surrounded on a beautiful island by loved-up couples, Lila strikes up a friendship with Freddie, who is also on holiday on his own. Although she doesn’t recognise him, he is a famous film star.  When Daniel turns up with his new girlfriend, Lila and Freddie pretend to be a couple to make him jealous. However, it soon becomes apparent that it may not all be pretence.

I can really recommend this book to anyone who feels like a light-hearted read. It had me laughing out loud in several places. The author skilfully transports the reader to an idyllic setting in the company of interesting and often highly amusing characters. I certainly wouldn’t mind a holiday on that island with its lavish accommodation and sumptuous food on offer. What could have been a lonely trip for poor Lila turned out to be exactly the opposite. 

To order your copy now, just click the link!

Saturday 11 March 2023

Guest Review: Ask a Historian: 50 Surprising Answers to Things You Always Wanted to Know By Greg Jenner

Why is Italy called Italy? How old is curry? How fast was the medieval Chinese post system? How do we know how people sounded in the past? Who invented maths?

Responding to fifty genuine questions from the public, Greg Jenner takes you on an entertaining tour through history from the Stone Age to the Swinging Sixties, revealing the best and most surprising stories, facts and historical characters from the past. From ancient joke books, African empires and the invention of meringues, to mummies, mirrors and menstrual pads - Ask A Historian is a deliciously amusing and informative smorgasbord of historical curiosities.

Review: Greg Jenner is a historian who has been involved in the television series “Horrible Histories”. His aim has always been to make the subject of history accessible to everyone. This book was compiled during the Covid lockdown and is an attempt to give answers to 50 questions that have been posed by the public, either during tours to publicise earlier books or, mostly, via an online questionnaire.

The questions vary from ones about statues in Ancient Greece, via the origins of curry, to the treatment of immigrants of the Windrush generation on their arrival in the UK. As can be seen, the questions posed are extremely wide ranging, and the author does his best to answer them in as succinct and readable way as possible. He also makes a lot of witty remarks, and this is what made the book so entertaining for me. For a book on history, it is reasonably short, at a little over 300 pages. However, the author’s aim, as stated in the introduction, was to make it light and entertaining, and in this I feel that he has succeeded. However, he also hopes that the book will have whetted peoples’ appetites to explore further, and to this end there is an extensive list of recommended reading for the various topics covered.

Overall, this book is an entertaining and accessible overview of the question “why?” regarding an eclectic range of historical topics and, hopefully, will encourage readers to continue asking questions.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Wednesday 8 March 2023

Guest Review: Where We Belong by Sarah Bennett

On paper, Hope Travers has an idyllic life.

Living in a bustling farmhouse with her mum, aunt and uncles, cousin and too many dogs to count, surrounded by the breath-taking Cotswolds countryside, she knows she is privileged and protected.

But all families have secrets, and the Travers family are no exception. Their farmhouse sits in the grounds of the Juniper Meadows estate, passed down through the generations and now being made to pay its own way with a myriad of businesses and projects. When a construction crew uncover what appear to be historical ruins, the history of the Travers family is put under ever closer scrutiny as a dig gets underway.

Hope may have found a blossoming romance with local archaeologist Cameron Ferguson who is running the dig, but when things start to go wrong around the estate and family secrets begin to be revealed, Hope wonders if she’s made a big mistake in digging up the past.

Review: This book marks the start of a new series from successful author Sarah Bennett. I have enjoyed several of her previous collections and sat down to read, looking forward to meeting some new characters and locations. As anticipated, I found myself quickly immersed in the story, set in a small Cotswolds village.

The story centres on the Travers family, owners of Stourton Hall, now a luxury hotel and spa renamed Juniper Meadows. The family, including Hope, her mother and aunt, as well as her uncles and cousin, all live in a large farmhouse on the estate, where outbuildings also house a gin distillery and workshops. Seeking some independence, Hope is keen to move out of the farmhouse, but construction of her new house elsewhere on the estate is stopped when ancient artefacts are discovered at the site. Archaeologist and lecturer Cameron Ferguson is called in to examine the finds and he subsequently sets up a dig. When strange and upsetting things begin to happen around the estate and even family relationships become strained, Hope wishes that she had never instigated the investigations into the past. The family trust that the upset caused by the various events will not ruin the thriving relationship developing between Hope and Cameron.

I can highly recommend this most enjoyable book and I am already looking forward to the next one in this series. I liked that the main storyline regarding the archaeological finds ran alongside a mystery regarding the unfortunate events taking place on the estate and who was behind it all. Apart from that person and one other, I loved all the characters in the story, and was definitely attracted to the handsome Cameron. The situation where all the family members live and work together sounds so comfortable, but I could understand Hope wishing move into her own accommodation at least. The book ends with a promise of more excitement at Juniper Meadows.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Tuesday 7 March 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish People I Would Love To Meet


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. 

This topic is great but kind of tough for me because I have been lucky enough to meet basically all of my favourite authors, bloggers, booktubers so we're going to go with some authors I am yet to meet in person along with some fictional characters!

Authors I'd Love to Meet:

Characters I'd Love To Meet

The entire population of Wynbridge!

Caitlin Moran because of her nonfiction so this is an author but because of her memoir?

Who doesn't want to meet Johnny Jefferson?

Becky Bloomwood (from the books not the movie obviosuly!)

Jenny Lopez!

Monday 6 March 2023

Review: Someone Else's Shoes by Jojo Moyes


She's not got much, but she's grateful for what she has: a job she's just about clinging on to and a family who depend on her for everything. She knows she's one bad day away from losing it all - and just hopes today isn't it . . .

She's got everything she always dreamed of - and more: a phenomenally rich husband; an international lifestyle; and . . . she's just been locked out of all of it after her husband initiates divorce proceedings . . .

Sam and Nisha should never have crossed paths. But after a bag mix-up at the gym, their lives become intertwined - even as they spiral out of control.

Each blames the other as they feel increasingly invisible, forgotten, lost - and desperately alone.

But they're not.

No woman is an island. Look around. Family. Friends. Strangers.
Even the woman you believe just ruined your life might turn out to be your best friend.
Because together you can do anything - like take back what is yours . . .

Review: Ah I loved a new Jojo Moyes novel and this one was no exception. I listened to this latest story on audio and right from the word go I was hooked into the story of these women and their lives. What would really happen if you had to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes? What would happen if you had to go to a very important work meeting in someone else’s shoes/ What would happen if you had to try and have a very important relationship conversation in someone else’s shoes? This book explores all of these questions. 

As the book progressed and Sam and Nisha seem to be getting closer to swapping their shoes back and getting on with their lives I worried about what would happen in the rest of the book. But I need not have worried because it is when these two women finally cross paths again that the real story starts and the action begins. I loved these women separately but I love them even more together. There were some really funny moments with these two characters but also some serious issues dealt with along with the issue of feeling lonely even when you’re surrounded by people. 

Sam and Nisha are great characters to spend the book with and I think Jojo Moyes made a great choice making their lives too different. We instantly warm to Sam because she is relatable. She doesn’t necessarily like her job but she’s doing her best. Her boss is awful, she doesn’t have any support at home and she is always just a little bit chaotic-very easy to relate to. Nisha has it all on the other hand, a rich husband, fancy shoes and houses on multiple continents but when all that begins to implode, that’s when I really started to like her-when the fire and passion inside of her started to show. 

I think one of the things I personally connected with most was Sam’s home life. She has a teenage daughter who brings all the classic teenage angst with her whilst still being a beautiful human and a husband with depression. No two days are the same and she feels like she’s can’t do anything right, With lack of support at home she feels she is drowning and she basically being gaslighted by her boss 24/7 to make her think she bad at her job because he sees her position in life as a woman and a mother as a weakness that he can pick on. I loved the way that Jojo Moyes explores this and unpicks ways in which Sam can deal with that. 

We also get to meet some amazing friends to both women along the way, they are fully formed characters and are all dealing with their own issues that many readers will be able to relate to as well. I loved the way this story was built up and the way the characters all bring something to it. The audiobook was fantastically narrated and I would recommend this to anyone whether you are a Jojo Moyes fan or not-definitely one of my favourite books of the year!

To order your copy now, just click here!

Saturday 4 March 2023

Guest Review: Encyclopaedia of World Football By Tim Hill

Review: This is a compilation of people, clubs and countries involved in association football throughout the world. Published in 2010, and therefore somewhat outdated, it gives short biographies and histories of famous players, managers, clubs, countries and major competitions.

The book is very detailed and is illustrated throughout with excellent photographs. I found the chapters on clubs and countries particularly interesting, providing their histories and the honours won. As intimated above, the chapter on heroes of the modern game is now out of date.

As a weighty tome on the history of the beautiful game, this is a detailed and well-illustrated entry. It should appeal to all fans of the game, and is also a good introduction to readers new to the sport.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Friday 3 March 2023

Guest Review: Picking Up the Pieces by Amanda Prowse

As Nora and her British Army officer husband, Gordy, pack up yet another home and leave the sun of Cyprus for the drizzle of England, she can’t shake a feeling of regret—at her failure to follow her own dreams, but also, if she’s honest, at having ended up an officer’s wife at all, drifting through a life of temporary homes and temporary relationships.

Since losing her parents at a young age, Nora’s life has been lacking an anchor: someone or something to make her feel secure. Her marriage has been her only permanent relationship, and just as even that appears to be fizzling out, a tragedy forces Nora into the role of legal guardian to her seven-year-old nephew, Ted. Faced suddenly with a responsibility she never dreamed of, how can Nora possibly offer the boy the kind of unconditional love he deserves, when she’s never experienced it for herself?

But as she navigates the precarious and unfamiliar world of parenthood, Nora begins to see herself through Ted’s eyes, as someone worthy of love and even joy. When she’s welcomed into the previously intimidating huddle of mums at the school gate, she has to wonder: is it too late to smash down the other barriers she’s built—and to have a second chance at a happy marriage with Gordy?

Review: I have read and enjoyed a few Amanda Prowse books now and was pleased when I spotted this, her new release. I have found that she writes thought-provoking fiction with a strong family content. I chose the audio version of this book, read by the author herself. As anticipated, I was pulled into the story from the very start and was left thinking about the characters long after I had finished.

The central character in the story is Nora, who is married to Gordy, an officer in the British army. They are currently preparing to move from Cyprus back to the UK for Gordy’s new posting. Nora is not sure she is looking forward to the move, and has been contemplating her life as an army wife, a role she doesn’t wholly enjoy. She is even unsure of how strong her marriage is, particularly as Gordy has raised his concerns. Out of the blue, a tragic situation involving her sister, Kiki, sends Nora flying back to England earlier than planned to look after her 7-year-old nephew, Ted. Due to a difficult childhood, Nora has never wanted children and has no experience looking after them. Her sudden guardianship of Ted means a steep learning curve, but she finds that she relishes her new role and unfamiliar situations, making her feel more positive and that she and Gordy have a more certain future as a consequence.  

I really enjoyed this powerfully emotional book and would not hesitate to recommend it. The author has dealt with some really difficult subjects in a skilled and sensitive manner. It is quite hard to read about Nora’s life, first her unconventional childhood and then her difficulty fitting into the role of officer’s wife on the army base, constantly moving around from house to house. Although coming about as a result of a traumatic situation, her enforced role as parent to Ted makes her see things from a different angle and realise the value of friendship and indeed her own value. As a consequence, she has renewed hope for her relationship with Gordy. I loved the characters in this story. Gordy was such a kind and patient husband, trying to give Nora the space she needs. Nora and her sister have both had difficult, if different, upbringings, but have been brought closer and reached a new understanding after things got as bad as they could. Ted was a lovely, but vulnerable little boy, at the same time wise and old before his time. I particularly liked the school gate mothers who Nora got to know when she was looking after Ted; they were loyal and practical. It was marvellous watching Nora’s outlook on life change throughout the book, giving her new hope for the future. 

To order your copy now, just click here!

Thursday 2 March 2023

February 2023 Read Wrap: An Audiobook Only Month!

I only ended up reading audiobooks this month. I made a mistake with my buddy read so that ebook didn't happen but I did manage to read more than a book a week which is very exciting! I didn't do any reading during February half term becasue I was too busy with life admin and I've also been trying to catch up on Oscar nominated movies I haven't seen yet. Overall, what I'm trying to say is that, although this wrap up is short, I'm happy with it!

Wednesday 1 March 2023

March 2023 TBR: New Book Releases, Book Vs TV Show, A Buddy Read & Audiobooks!


March 2023 TBR

I feel like it was just yesterday I made my March 2022 TBR right before moving and here I am making another TBR knowing it (and April) will probably be disrupted by moving!

There are a couple of holdovers from February because I made a mistake with my buddy read and definitely bit off more than I could chew in terms of books I would get to in this short but busy month. There's also another buddy read and a March release as well as a book vs movie read-yey! I do want to catch up on the Oscars movies I've missed so I need to balance that with reading and working 24/7-wish me luck!

March Release

Holdovers from February

Buddy Read

Book Vs Movie