Friday 30 June 2023

June 2023 Reading Wrap Up

 Well June...it was not a good reading month I have struggled to give my attention to anything and really even finishing off something that I started was a bit of a task so...

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Audiobooks








Wednesday 28 June 2023

Guest Review: The Sea Gate by Jane Johnson

Following the death of her mother, Becky begins the sad task of sorting through her empty flat. Starting with the letters piling up on the doormat, she finds an envelope post-marked from Cornwall. In it is a letter that will change her life forever. A desperate plea from her mother's elderly cousin, Olivia, to help save her beloved home.

Becky arrives at Chynalls to find the beautiful old house crumbling into the ground, and Olivia stuck in hospital with no hope of being discharged until her home is made habitable.

Though daunted by the enormity of the task, Becky sets to work. But as she peels back the layers of paint, plaster and grime, she uncovers secrets buried for more than seventy years. Secrets from a time when Olivia was young, the Second World War was raging, and danger and romance lurked round every corner...

The Sea Gate is a sweeping, spellbinding novel about the lives of two very different women, and the secrets that bind them together.



Review: Although she is obviously a prolific and accomplished author, I have to admit that this is the first work from Jane Johnson that I have read. I was intrigued by the book’s striking cover and the mysterious story that the synopsis promised. I was certainly pleased that I had been drawn to this book as I found myself quickly immersed in the story of the lives of two women and their adventures in two different periods of time 70 years apart.


The story centres on Becky and her mother’s elderly cousin Olivia. As Becky is clearing out some of her mother’s belongings after her funeral, she comes across a letter in which cousin Olivia has written asking Becky’s mother for her help. Glad to be escaping for a while, Becky sets off for Cornwall to investigate Olivia’s circumstances. She finds that Olivia is in hospital and in danger of being admitted to a care home unless her old and rather rundown home is given some attention to make it more suitable for her to live in. Becky decides to help the rather formidable old lady, but has no idea what she is about to uncover when she starts to explore the grand but remote seaside house. As she works through the requirements for the house and gets to know the old lady, a tale gradually unfolds of Olivia’s experiences as a young girl living in the house during the second world war consequences of which may spill over into present times.


I have very much enjoyed this thrilling book which kept me completely engrossed from start to finish. The storyline follows the lives of the two women, alternating chapters focusing on one or other of them. There is danger lurking round every corner for each of the women, in past and present times; the reader is never sure what is going to emerge next. Despite the differences in their ages, there were similarities in the experiences of the two women. Like Becky, I had quite a soft spot for the often cantankerous Olivia, but there were some really wicked characters in the book as well who were prepared to go to any lengths to achieve their goals. One of my favourite figures in the book was undoubtedly Olivia’s foul-mouthed grey parrot, Gabriel, who could swear in more than one language and often added some humour to a situation. I can definitely recommend this book and will be returning to other titles from this author in the future.


To order your copy now, just click here!

Tuesday 27 June 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books Releasing During the Second Half of 2023

 

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. 

I love this list because there are tons of books that I am excited about coming up in 2023 and some of them will be on my upcoming July TBR as well!



6th July

6th July


20th July



20th July



20th July


20th July



1st August


3rd August


26th September


28th September




Saturday 24 June 2023

Guest Review: Flannelled Fool and Muddied Oaf The Autobiography of Peter West

Autobiography of the BBC's cricket anchor man for many years, also famous pipe smoker and car lover. 


Review: Peter West (1920-2003) was a radio and television sports commentator and presenter, and a newspaper sports columnist. This is his autobiography, published in 1986. The title is a quote from the poem “The Islanders” by Rudyard Kipling, and is a reference to Peter West’s two favourite sports of cricket and rugby.

A keen sportsman at school, he was unable to continue playing seriously due to back problems. On leaving school, he entered the Army shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War. However, the same back problems led to his being invalided out of the Army in 1944. Faced with having to find a new occupation, he turned to journalism and, as a result of meeting the legendary cricketer C. B. Fry who recommended him to the BBC, he started working on a freelance basis as a commentator on outside broadcasts. He worked in broadcasting for many years, commentating on over thirty different sports, but mainly on cricket, rugby and tennis. He also appeared as a presenter on a number of light entertainment programmes. He compèred a number of the televised “Miss World” competitions, but is probably best remembered for his stint as presenter of “Come Dancing”. This was a long-running programme in which teams of amateur ballroom dancers from various regions of the UK competed against each other in categories such as Modern, Old Time, Latin American and Formation.

The book’s chapters cover the sports of cricket, rugby and tennis, and the various light entertainment radio and television programmes with which the author was associated. There are a number of photographs of the various characters he encountered over the years. At the end, there is a concluding chapter outlining his plans for retirement. Overall, I found this to be an interesting and nostalgic account of someone who was a familiar voice on radio and a familiar face on television over a considerable number of years.

Friday 23 June 2023

Blog Tour: Book Review Maybe Tomorrow by Penny Parks

 


Today is my stop on the blog tour for Maybe Tomorrow by Penny Parks. The book is out now and you can click here to order your copy! Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews. 

Here's what it's all about: 

What a difference a year could make…
 
Jamie Matson had once enjoyed a wonderful life working alongside her best friend, organising adventures for single-parent families, and her son Bo’s artistic flair a source of pride rather than concern.
 
She hadn’t been prepared to lose her business, her home, and her friend. Not all in one dreadful year. And now she finds herself reeling - rebuilding her world, with Bo at its heart - swallowing her pride and asking for help.
 
Jamie certainly hadn’t expected to find such hope and camaraderie in the queue at her local Food Bank - thrown together with an unlikely and colourful group of people - all of them struggling to get by, yet still determined to reclaim their lost careers and agency over their lives. Even if just choosing their own groceries again is a goal they can all share.
 
As their friendships flourish, they quickly find it’s easier to be objective about each other than about themselves, and decide that - when you’re all out of options - it’s okay to bend the rules a little and create your own.



Review: I feel like this book is the one that no one is writing. This book is real life. This book reflects what happened so quickly and so uncontrollably to so many people as a result of everything that happened in 2020. And yet it is not a depressing book, it is not a book that will bring you down and it doesn’t focus on 2020 it’s the aftermath. This book is uplifting and hopeful and shows what human kindness, hope and spirit can look like. I am a huge fan of this book and I will be pushing it on everyone!

I loved getting to meet Jamie and Bo, hear their story and see Jamie fight so hard to give her son the life he deserves. Jamie and Bo are a single parent family suffering at the hands of the rental market, the minimum wage job market and then the judgement rather than help that they receive from Bo’s school. Jamie had it all but unfortunately a travel company couldn’t survive what happened in 2020 and so she finds herself in this position. She is such a relatable character because she sees how unfair and unjust the world is, especially her little world and yet she doesn’t complain about it because she knows that she has to play the game just to survive. Bo is such a great kid but is so let down by his school. He also suffers from chronic asthma which I also don’t think is talked about enough in books but it is something that affects the lives of so many children like Bo. 

Bo’s school is a whole other kettle of fish.I really hope that Penny Parks didn’t write this school from first hand experience because the way that school treats Bo and Jamie is so bad and does not follow the duty of care that schools have. They are also certainly not an inclusive school and I felt so bad about the way they treated poor Bo-I would have loved to have taught a child as thoughtful as he was! Bo is so great and is the antidote to all the negativity in their world. He is artistic and funny and asks all the questions that people are thinking but are too afraid to ask-I loved that about him. 

There is a whole cast of characters who are living similar lives to Jamie and Bo and getting along with their lives regardless because they have to. I thought that Jamie’s ‘Village” was well-selected and well-written because everyone who reads this will be able to find someone they can relate to and someone they can empathise with. I can’t go into too much detail about the supporting cast of this novel because to do so would definitely involve spoilers! I was angry at points reading this book but I was also hopeful and joyful and I just loved seeing these characters triumph in the face of adversity. I really loved this book and I hope everyone picks it up because I know you will relate to it as much as I did!



Wednesday 21 June 2023

Guest Review: A Secret Cornish Summer by Pillipa Ashley

When Eden steps out of her beautiful coastal cottage to find a Speedo-wearing, suntanned stranger doing yoga in next door’s garden, she is immediately on her guard. Since her ex-husband betrayed her in the worst possible ways, she has kept her distance from all men, taking refuge in her start-up coffee business.

But as she gets to know Levan, Eden begins to wonder if he might be different – until she discovers he’s not quite what he seems. And when a long-buried family secret surfaces, her faith in those she loves most is shaken to the core.

As the secrets spill out, relationships old and new will be tested like never before. Can Eden learn to trust again, and move past all the secrets of this Cornish summer?



Review: I was excited to see this new book by one of my ‘go to’ authors appear on my kindle. I knew I was in for a treat in a beautiful location. This time, the author took me back to Cornwall. I was hooked from the very first page and quickly devoured the rest of the story. 


This story centres on the Cornish seaside village of Hartstone, and in particular mother and daughter Sally and Eden, who live in one of a row of cottages adjacent to the lighthouse where Eden’s father and grandfather were once keepers. Eden runs a coffee roastery, processing beans for her own coffee shop and an increasing number of local businesses. She is recovering from a bad experience with a cheating ex-husband and is not interested in any relationships with the opposite sex. However, when a handsome new neighbour, Levan, moves in, she, Sally and grandmother Iris, are intrigued to find out all about him. He is determined to keep himself to himself, but is gradually drawn into the lives of his welcoming neighbours. In spite of everything, Eden and Levan are attracted to each other, but he has a secret that he fears, if revealed, will destroy their growing relationship. It transpires that he is not the only one with a secret, this one with far reaching consequences for Eden and her mum. 


Oh, I did enjoy this story, which was more than a romance, with its generous helping of dark and even official secrets and hint of danger. There were only a few characters, but these were all strong and interesting. I admired Eden for her fortitude in picking herself up after having been treated so shabbily by her ex. As for Levan, what a heroic specimen he turned out to be! The setting of the story couldn’t fail to attract the reader; I for one would love to be walking along by the sea admiring the lighthouse. I think this must be one of my favourite Phillipa Ashley books, and one which I’m sure will be enjoyed by many this summer. 


To order your copy now, just click here!

Saturday 17 June 2023

Guest Review: The Last Party By Clare Mackintosh

On New Year's Eve, Rhys Lloyd has a house full of guests.

He's celebrating the success of his lakeside holiday homes, and has generously invited the village to drink champagne with their wealthy new neighbours.

By midnight, Rhys will be floating dead in the freezing waters of the lake.

On New Year's Day, DC Ffion Morgan has a village full of suspects.

She grew up in the tiny community, so the murder suspects are her neighbours, friends and family - and Ffion has her own secrets to protect.

With a lie uncovered at every turn, soon the question isn't who wanted Rhys dead . . . but who finally killed him.


Review: This is a crime thriller set around a lake through which the border between England and Wales runs. On the Welsh side of the lake is the village of Cwm Coed, and on the English side of the lake a new development of luxury holiday homes has been built. One of the local traditions of the village is a New Year‘s Day swim in the lake. The story opens when the start of the swim is interrupted when the body of a dead man floats into view. The deceased turns out to be Rhys Lloyd, a local man who found fame as an opera singer, moved away from the village, but came back to build the luxury lodges, one of which he uses as a holiday home. He was last seen alive at a New Year’s Eve party which he organised at the lodges.

Because it was not clear whether Rhys died on the English or Welsh side of the border, two detectives, Detective Constable (DC) Ffion Morgan of North Wales Police, who is also from Cwm Coed, and Detective Constable Leo Brady of Cheshire Constabulary are assigned to investigate his unexplained death. It turns out that there are suspicious circumstances, and the book follows detectives Morgan and Brady’s initially awkward relationship as they attempt to piece together the events that took place at the party.

The timeline of the story jumps around, with a lot of it told in flashback. Each chapter bears a title comprising the particular date, and in some cases the time of day, and the person from whose perspective the chapter is written. Although I found this confusing initially, I soon got into the swing of things and found that this style helped to move the story along at a good pace. It was also interesting to read, on a few occasions, the same sequence of events and conversations, but from two different persons’ perspectives.

The story is similar to an Agatha Christie whodunnit, in that it turns out that there are many people in the village and the holiday lodges who bear the deceased a grudge, so there is no shortage of suspects to investigate. The author, Clare Mackintosh, is a former Police Officer, so the descriptions of police procedures appear to be very accurate. There is also a lot of typical police officers’ dark humour, together with a number of phrases in Welsh. One minor criticism I did have was that the results of forensic tests came back from the laboratory extremely quickly and that the results, even on what appeared to be difficult material, were unequivocal. As a former forensic scientist, I found this too good to be true. However, this is a minor criticism and overall I found this book to be an exciting crime thriller as the two police officers tried to unravel the tangled web of intrigue.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Wednesday 14 June 2023

Guest Review: A Summer Surprise at the Little Blue Boathouse by Christie Barlow

Love Heart Lane – where friends are there for you no matter what

When Bea Fernsby discovers her fiancé’s eyes have been wandering, she calls off the wedding and hits the road. The village of Heartcross in the Scottish Highlands is about as far away from home as she can get, and when she stumbles into the ideal summer job at The Little Blue Boathouse and meets gorgeous vacationer Nolan Hemingway, things finally start looking up.

Now, as an old mystery surfaces and Bea and Nolan band together to find out what happened to his late grandfather’s one true love, fate throws Bea some unexpected curveballs…and promising opportunities.

Bea’s stay is only supposed to last a couple of weeks, but as the old saying goes: ‘Once you arrive in Heartcross, you never want to leave…’




Review: This is book 11 in the Love Heart Lane series by this author. This series features the Scottish Highlands village of Heartcross and the lives of its residents and visitors. Each new arrival in the village is told that once they have discovered it, they will never want to leave, so the population tends to rise with each instalment. Although this is a series, with many characters reappearing again and again, each book is complete in itself and can be read as a standalone. I have become quite fond of the village and the people in it, and am looking forward to finding out about the newcomers who will feature in this part. 


This story concerns Bea, who lands up in Heartcross wishing to get as far away from home as possible after catching her fiancé cheating yet again. She remembers the village from news coverage when a flood cut it off from the Scottish mainland. Having arrived in the village with no plans except escape for a couple of weeks, she is lucky to land a temporary job working in the Little Blue Boathouse where water craft and equipment are hired out and boat tours sold. Fortunately, the job comes with a small flat above the shop where she has the most amazing views of the water and the countryside beyond. As well as the locals, she meets attractive artist Nolan, who is visiting the village aboard his late grandfather’s houseboat. He is planning to take part in the village’s river festival, but he is also investigating a mystery regarding his grandfather’s visit to the village many years ago. Bea and Nolan become close, but he is determined to move on immediately after the festival and she is also supposed to be leaving soon. As they are definitely attracted to each other, can the village work its magic on them and persuade them to stay a little longer?


I have thoroughly enjoyed this book and my latest visit to Heartcross. It was good to meet up with several of the characters I have got to know in previous parts of the series. I loved the idea of the river festival, with visitors thronging the banks of the river watching the craft that had gathered there. Bea was lucky to land a job for the duration of her stay and I envied her the temporary accommodation with what must have been marvellous views from her window. She was brave to travel all that way from home, but was definitely rewarded by meeting Nolan. As well as being easy on the eye, he was also a really kind and considerate person. I hope that the couple may crop up in future parts of the series if they decide to stay. I can recommend this book, and the entire Love Heart Lane series; it is easy to be drawn in by the village and the people there. 


To order your copy now, just click here!

Friday 2 June 2023

May 2023 Reading Wrap Up-How Many Books Did I Read?

 We have reached a new month so now it is time to take stock. As I stated in my June TBR, May was a month of reading a lot followed by reading not very much at all. I did Bout of Books in the second week of May and that is where the bulk of my reading took place. I also DNFd a book this month which I haven't done for a while. As always, I will break my reading down into how I read things and also link you to any reviews I have already posted. 

eBooks




Physical Books



Audiobooks





DNF



Books I started that I'll finish next month!





Thursday 1 June 2023

June 2023 TBR: New Books and Audiobooks to be Read!

Well here we are in another month. May was definitely a month divided between reading a lot and reading nothing and I feel like June could end up being a little bit like that...

I've divided my reading up into various categories this month and have once again included those that are held over from the previous month, do let me know if you like this or if I should just include full books. 

July Releases (that I have access to)


6th July


20th July

August Releases



17th August

Books I'm still in the middle of...


Therefore I want to read this one...