February was another great month for books and I read a massive 18 books. This was for Blog Tours and In Conversations. It was an extraordinary list of books and many I rated 4 and 5 stars. I also read some extraordinary debuts.pl
My BOTM was Lullaby Beach by Stella Duffy and this was one of the months in conversation for Exeter Library.
January was a great month for books and I read a massive 18 books. This was for Blog Tours and some were for In Conversations due to the lockdown restrictions I have had lots of time to read. It was an extraordinary list of books and many I rated 4 and 5 stars.
My BOTM was Shiver Allie Reynolds it was a really tough choice as there were so many great books but Shiver is a debut and I really loved the characters, the setting and the twists.
This is the full list :
Coming Home to Brightwater Bay – Holly Hepburn
Faking It – Portia MacIntosh
The Burning Girls – C J Tudor
The Shape of Darkness -Laura Purcell
The Island -C L Taylor
The Marlow Murder Club – Robert Thorogood
Shiver – Allie Reynolds
The Last Thing to Burn -Will Dean
The Appeal – Janice Hallett
Summer Job – Lizzy Dent
Poppy Flowers at the Front -Jon Wilkins
What I Did -Kate Bradley
The German Girl- Lily Graham
New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – Jessica Redland
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House -Cherie Jones
A Dark Room – Sam Blake
I Give it a Year – Helen Whitaker
I also interviewed 4 authors as part of my day job you can view them again below.
Polly Clark- Tiger- Quercus
Sam Carrington – Open House and N V Peacock Little Bones – Avon Books
This will be my third year of blogging and because of obvious Covid related reasons and losing two family members, 2020 will not be forgotten easily.
However, it has been a fantastic year for books and I know that the poor authors have not been able to do events and this was primarily the reason with my work head as Development Senior Supervisor at Exeter Library on we started to do ‘In Conversations’ this year. Starting in April with Clara Barley author of Moss House this was my first online interview and at the end of the year we have done a fantastic 12 events. I have loved doing them and it has definitely developed a new skill for me and enabled me to talk to some fantastic authors from all genres.
You can watch them here and we have a fab line up for 2021 follow @exeterlibrary on Twitter and ExeterLibrary on Facebook :
Anyway lets get going with my top 20 reads of 2020! I would say that this was really brutal having to chose as I have read so many amazing books and I have shared the links to my original reviews if you would like to read more.
1. The Miseducation of Evie Epworth- Matson Taylor –Scribner Books
The total joy of Evie came into my life this summer. This book is such a joy, a great story and the characters, whether you loved or hated them are fantastic. I loved the strong women in the book and having family in Yorkshire, this really resonated with me as I have been brought up with strong women who loved to bake. If you have not read this one you need to and I cannot wait to see what Evie does next.
I did not know what to expect but what I discovered was beyond any expectations that I could have had. The writing is beautiful and you will be transported to the house and become immersed in labyrinthine pages.
You really need to read this book to uncover the secrets about Piranesi and the other occupants of the House. So many times I thought I knew what was happening and so many times when I was wrong. This really is an outstanding read.
3. In the Sweep of the Bay -Cath Barton– Louise WaltersBooks
This book looks deeply at relationships and has many what if’s. It is a really beautifully crafted book and I recommend that you read. I had so many questions at the end I think this would make an excellent book group read.
4.The Watchmaker of Filigree Street – Natasha Pulley– Bloomsbury
The three main characters are brought together through a set of strange circumstances and I loved the dynamics of this complicated relationship. I do not want to give any spoilers as I knew nothing about the book before I read it and I think this is the best way to enjoy it.
5.The Mist -Ragnar -Ragnar Jonasson– PenguinMichael Joseph
Dark, brutal and compelling I loved this book. It is so clever and the pace is relentless and I can’t remember a time when a book totally immersed me in the atmosphere and story. Exceptional ! This trilogy is going to make a fantastic tv series.
6.The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside – Jessica Ryn– HQStories
This is a joyful read, the author portrays the characters with warmth and tackles
a difficult subject sensitively and with humour at times. I loved Dawn nothing stops her from trying to help, she is desperate to be needed. A fabulous touching debut which shows kindness and friendship go a long way in the world. Beautiful!
I really enjoyed the atmosphere that the author portrays in this book, it is set near Christmas but don’t be fooled that its sparkly book. It is cold, snowy and bleak Yorkshire in winter. I loved the darkness, the danger and unexplained.
This is such a great book, I would have read in one sitting if I had the chance it is so suspenseful and shocking which I love in a thriller. All the characters are really down on their luck and lonely and without giving too much away they are all brought together in a shocking conclusion which will change their lives forever.
A dark and claustrophobic read. I loved this book and I had not read anything by Amanda before but I will be reading her others. I loved her style of writing and how she draws you in and it was a real experience which I will not forget in a while. Fantastic !
10. All the Lonely People- Mike Gayle – Hodder Books
This book is a joy, the writing is empathetic and gentle. I loved the dual storyline and learning about Hubert’s life with Joyce and how he came to be in England. Also the struggles that they have as a mixed race couple in the 1950’s, some of which are really hard to read but very important.
I loved this book so much and I read it really slowly so that I could savour the writing. The characters and the story totally engrossed me and I found the love triangle element intriguing and knew that was never going to end well.
This is one of my favourite reads of the year and I was besotted by it and will be recommending this one far and wide. An amazing book!
12. The Winter Garden -Heidi Swain– Simon and Schuster
This is a truly wonderful read, and it was a joy to step into the world of Freya as she makes a new life with the supportive members of Nightingale Square. Best enjoyed on the sofa with the rain on the windows and nowhere else to go. If you are a fan of Heidi or a newbie you will love being transported into the wintery gorgeousness at its best from the lovely Heidi !
13. A Wedding at the Beach Hut- Veronica Henry– Orion Books
The setting of Tawcombe seemed very familiar to me, being from Mid Devon and I loved the Devon idiosyncrasies. Mick reminded me of my Dad, who calls me and my sisters,’ his maids’ too ! The book has humour and warmth but also sadness and covers some really delicate subjects like adoption and miscarriage in a really sensitive way.
This book could not have come at a better time for me, in lock down when I was unable to visit my own favourite seaside haunts but I was able to be transported there with the assistance of this gorgeous book. Thank you Ronnie for another fabulous read.
I loved this book and I can see why it has been so well reviewed it totally transported me to time and place that I have never experienced previously. It was so visual you can not help but be totally engrossed in this fantastic storytelling. It seamlessly switches between Agnes’s past and present.
I feel very privileged to have been able to be part of the tour of this wonderful book.
15. Love Orange- Natasha Randall – Quercus –River Run
This is a really great book I loved it, the strong characters in the book makes the read all the more involved. This is a fantastic debut novel and I loved chatting to Natasha and the other members of the the buddy read about the book.
I loved how the story of Macbeth was also woven in to the events. There are heart-breaking and heart stopping moments which left me very emotional and at times shocked.
I think this book will stay with me for a long time and I feel very lucky to be able to review it. Although it is definitely a book that everyone should read as I feel my review will never convey all I want it too.
If you need to escape then this is perfect for transporting you away to this other land of myths and superstitions. A fantastic adult story which highlights some of the worse traits of humans, darkness but with beauty and an underlying feeling of hope. Excellent!
18. The Killings at Kingfisher Hill – Sophie Hannah– Harper Collins
This is such a great story, it is cleverly plotted and leaves clues along by the way, that make you think you know who the killer is but I was completely shocked when the twist in the tale comes at Poirot’s ever famous denouement. I think it is one of the cleverest plots I have read in a long time.
This is a fantastic read, I started and I could not put it down, the characters are believable and very human and the author has a wonderful gift of hooking the reader in and building suspense throughout the story and this story is no exception.
20. Starry Skies over the Chocolate Pot Cafe – Jessica Redland– Boldwood Books
This is a really great book, it surprised me and I loved seeing Tara change into a beautiful butterfly. She really deserved to find some happiness and with the support of the lovely community in Castle Street she begins to find that she can.
This is a sit on the sofa with a hot chocolate sort of book, it has a bit of everything, sadness, hope, friendship, betrayal and overcoming the past. I loved it !
Mercie Hillbrook lives a simple, quiet life working as a gas station attendant. Then her parents are killed. Her home is taken. The people responsible are excused for just doing their job. When an attempt to get justice her way lands her in trouble with the law, Mercie realizes she still has something to lose: her own life.
Then she finds reason to believe her parents were murdered… and she doesn’t care anymore.
Alongside this rollercoaster of a novella, this book includes 4 very dark short stories
Amazon rating: (14 reviews)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Praise for Her Name is Mercie
Roy delivers on the edge of your seat storytelling with rough edges, crooked cops and a tiny light at the end of the tunnel that is never quite extinguished.
— Tom Vater, co–founder of Crime Wave Press.
Her Name Is Mercie is a fast furious ride into an inferno of the highest tension you are likely to encounter this year. Where noir meets thriller, toss a coin. Dive in. And unplug your phones, pcs tablets and keep reading deeper and deeper, until the final pages.
— Richard Godwin, author of Apostle Rising.
Thank you to Lilyan at Blackthorn books for my invitation to the tour and for my copy of the e book in return for a fair and honest review.
In the first in this short story collection we met Mercie. Mercie works in a gas station and is contacted by the police as her parents have been killed in a police shooting. After having to identify them at the morgue, she takes drastic action and what happens next is a high octane, fast paced ride.
She has an unlikely companion who she meets during this spree and who rescues her when she most needs it. This is a great read, if you like your reading action packed then this is for you. Bank robbery, car theft, police corruption, kidnap is all in there. It is dark and violent and it has so many twists and turns you will be gripped. It does have very strong language within in which some may find offensive.
There are five stories in this collection, some I preferred to others but I think that is a personal choice. If you like your thrillers dark and fast you will enjoy this collection.
About the Author:
Chris Roy is the author of Shocking Circumstances, Sharp as a Razor, and Her Name Is Mercie. He is a published tattoo artist (Rise Tattoo Magazine, ATC Tattoo Books app) and the illustrator of two children’s books. Raised in South Mississippi, he lived comfortably with the criminal ventures of his youth until a fistfight in 1999 ended tragically. Since January, 2000, he’s been serving a life sentence in the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
Nowadays he lives his life of crime vicariously, through the edgy, fast-paced stories he pens, hoping to entertain readers. When he isn’t writing, he’s reading, tattooing or looking for prospects to train in boxing.
Cold Comfort Farm meets Adrian Mole in the funniest debut novel of the year. Yorkshire, the summer of 1962. Sixteen year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she become?
Up until now, Evie’s life has been nothing special: a patchwork of school, Girl Guides, cows, milk deliveries, lost mothers and village fetes. But, inspired by her idols (Charlotte Bronte, Shirley MacLaine and the Queen), she dreams of a world far away from rural East Yorkshire, a world of glamour lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds).
Standing in the way of these dreams, though, is Christine, Evie’s soon to be stepmother, a manipulative and money grubbing schemer who is lining Evie up for a life of shampooand-set drudgery at the local salon.
Luckily, Evie is not alone. With the help of a few friends, and the wise counsel of the two Adam Faith posters on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’), Evie comes up with a plan to rescue her bereaved father, Arthur, from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches, and save their beloved farmhouse from being sold off.
She will need a little luck, a dash of charm and a big dollop of Yorkshire magic if she is to succeed, but in the process she may just discover who exactly she is meant to be.
Thank you to Anne Cater Random Things Tours for my invitation to the tour and to Scribner for my copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.
The story begins with us being introduced to Evie who decides to take her Dad Arthur’s car for a drive she comes across a very alarming sight and crashes the car and the reader then meets Arthur and his hideous girl-friend Christine and her family.
Evie can not remember her Mother as she died when she was a toddler, but Mrs Scott- Pym an elderly friend in the village is determined that Evie should and gives her a recipe book that had belonged to her mother. She is also fiercely protective of Evie and goes to extreme measures to try and rid of the awful Christine from her life. This takes an unexpected turn and a glamorous visitor comes to the village.
This book is such a joy, a great story and the characters, whether you loved or hated them are fantastic. I loved the strong women in the book and having family in Yorkshire this really resonated with me as I have been brought up with strong women who loved to bake.
The book had a Cinderella feel however, instead of the handsome prince rescuing Evie she is loved and supported by a band of female friends who want the best for her. The 60’s setting was delightful and I would love to see what Evie does next.
This is such a lovely book, it’s funny it made me laugh out loud with the descriptions of Christine’s wardrobe and Evie’s escapades with the glamorous and worldly Caroline were heartening. As with all good stories good overcomes bad and this is a fantastic debut and I look forward to reading more from this author.
5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Matson Taylor grew up in Yorkshire but now lives in London. He is a design historian and academic writing tutor and has worked at various universities and museums around the world; he currently teaches at the V&A, Imperial College, and the RCA.
He has also worked on Camden Market, appeared in an Italian TV commercial, and been a pronunciation coach for Catalan opera singers.
In 1999, after publishing three cult novels, celebrated author Nathan Fawles announces the end of his writing career and withdraws to Beaumont, a wild and beautiful island off the Mediterranean coast.
Autumn 2018. As Fawles’ novels continue to captivate readers, Mathilde Monney, a young Swiss journalist, arrives on the island, determined to unlock the writer’s secrets and secure his first interview in twenty years.
That same day, a woman’s body is discovered on the beach and the island is cordoned off by the authorities.
And so, begins a dangerous face off between Mathilde and Nathan, in which the line between truth and fiction becomes increasingly blurred…
About the author
Guillaume Musso is the #1 bestselling author in France, and his novels have been translated in forty languages and have sold over 33 million copies worldwide. He was born in Antibes, South of France, and currently lives in Paris.
Translated by Vineet Lal.
Thank you to Alex Layt for my invitation to the tour and for my copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.
The book begins with the introduction to a cult writer Nathan Fawles. He wrote three books then disappeared into obscurity on the Isle of Beaumont in the Mediterranean. A young writer, Raphael, who is fascinated with the work of Nathan, arrives on the island as an assistant in the local bookshop and he thinks that it will enable him to meet his writing idol. When he arrives he meets Audibert the owner he tells him that it is a short term job because he will be closing the shop for good. The Scarlet Rose the bookshop is old and tired but Audibert tells him it was not always been this way it had once thrived and was visited by famous authors.
When the Raphael has his first meeting with Nathan Fawles at the end of a shotgun, his protests for him to help him write, fall upon deaf ears and Nathan tells him being a writer is a waste on time. Unfortunately for Nathan the meeting also ends badly and then he loses his precious dog Bronco. He is found but in order to retrieve him Nathan has to agree to another writer coming to the house. This time its a Swiss journalist called Mathilde who found Bronco, he is very reluctant but knows that he has no choice to have Bronco returned. Mathilde returns the dog to him and says that they have met previously, and Nathan is very taken with her, which surprises him.
As the story progresses we slowly unravel the pasts of the characters and what has brought them to where they are and what is really clever is the smallest thing can be really important. Raphael soon settles in and then he hears there has been a murder on the virtually crime less island and a particularly gruesome one too.
There are several things that when I start reading a book make me smile as I know I am going to love it. An eccentric author , a bookshop and a small island are amongst them, as well a map at the beginning of the book. I had not read anything by this author before but I can see why he is so popular, I was hooked !
Murder, intrigue, and suspense by the bucket load, all set on an island, and the writing is effortless and I was desperate to find out more about the mysterious Nathan Fawles. Is there more than meets the eye to why he stopped writing ? I loved the way the author in the fantastic novel that kept me guessing until the end.
What happens when an affair goes wrong? Find out in this nail-biting thriller, perfect for fans of Apple Tree Yard and Girl on a Train.
You think you’ll stay the same – you won’t. Infidelity will change you forever. There can be no going back.
Kirsten Calloway knows she should be grateful. She has a stable marriage, decent job, and a wonderful teenage daughter. But she also has a raging libido that won’t shut up, and a husband who’d rather go on a bike ride.
She bumps into an old friend at a school reunion who faces a similar problem. Dianne, though, has found the answer: a discreet agency which arranges casual sex for people just like them, people who want to keep their marriages but also scratch that itch.
Enter Zac: younger, handsome and everything Kirsten could hope for in bed. For a while, they seem to have it all. Kirsten even finds herself becoming a better wife and mother. But Zac wants more – a lot more, and he’ll stop at nothing to get it.
Sexually charged, shocking and relatable, Reckless is a profound exploration of marriage, motherhood and desire.
About the author
RJ McBrien attended York University, the Sorbonne and graduated from the Yale School of Drama. He writes for TV (Wallander, Spooks and Trust for ITV) and has sold scripts to major Hollywood studios, for whom he regularly works as a script doctor. Reckless is his first novel.
Thank you to Sofia and Sophie at Midas PR for my invitation to the tour and for my copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.
Kirsten is unhappy, her marriage to Mark has become unfulfilling, and sexless. They have a daughter Jess and she is seventeen and her and Helen clash over many things. As many parents do with teenagers.
She has tried everything to entice Mark to revive their sex life,but when she finds a laptop in the attic she confronts him. He apologises but nothing changes.
She goes to a school reunion with her sister Helen and there she meets up with Dianne and is shocked when she sees her later in a very compromising situation. Dianne tells her that she uses an agency for casual sex with her husband’s blessing, in desperation Kirsten decides to book an appointment with the agency. She meets a woman from the agency Amorem who gives her a very indepth interview about the rules and ramifications of cheating on her husband. Kirsten is not put off and she tells Alice, the women who runs Amorem that she wants to proceed. As she ventures into a world of sex that she is very innocent about and what she is about to enter into could turn her world upside down.
The book also has another thread running alongside Kirsten’s which is the police reports of a man who is found dead on a trainline. Kirsten is called to the police station after she is spotted on CCTV talking with the man. Who is the dead man and did she have anything to do with his death ?
Wow this is such a gripping read! I tore through it, fast paced and so tense! You know that Kirsten is about to do something that could jepordise her whole life and there is nothing you can do to stop it. I loved the suspense as the book goes deeper and deeper into Kirsten’s liaisons. Kirsten is a very complex character and her life has never gone how she planned it. It feels very much like this is an attempt to take back control of her life.
I read this book in two sittings as I had to find out what happens. You know it isn’t going to end well for anyone, but I was compelled to keep reading to the absolutely stunning conclusion which I am of course not sharing.
This book is best consumed with a long drink and comfortable chair because you will not want to move when you begin to read it. Definitely one of my favourite thrillers of the year so far. Fantastic!
When Anika Molnar flees her home country of Hungary not long before the break-up of the Soviet Union, she carries only a small suitcase – and a beautiful and much-loved painting of an auburn-haired woman in a cobalt blue dress from her family’s hidden collection.
Arriving in Australia, Anika moves in with her aunt in Sydney, and the painting hangs in pride of place in her bedroom. But one day it is stolen in what seems to be a carefully planned theft, and Anika’s carefree life takes a more ominous turn.
Sinister secrets from her family’s past and Hungary’s fraught history cast suspicion over the painting’s provenance, and she embarks on a gripping quest to uncover the truth.
Hungary’s war-torn past contrasts sharply with Australia’s bright new world of opportunity in this moving and compelling mystery.
About the author
Alison Booth was born in Melbourne, brought up in Sydney and has worked in the UK and in Australia as a professor as well as a novelist. Alison’s work has been translated into French and has also been published by Reader’s Digest Select Editions in both Asia and Europe. Alison, who holds a PhD in Economics from the London School of Economics, is an active public speaker and has participated in many writers’ festivals and literary events.
Thank you to Helen Richardson for my invitation to the tour and to Red Door Press for my copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.
The story begins with Anika taking a painting to a gallery, the painting has travelled with her from her native Hungary and now is on the wall in her bedrooom. The painting of a beautiful woman with auburn hair turns out to be by an artist called Antoine Rocheteau a French Impressionist. Given to her by her Uncle Anika takes it to an Art Gallery in New South Wales on the insistence of her Aunt Tabilla who she now lives with in Australia. The gallery are shocked at the painting and tell her to get in valued but she also must have provenance which she does not.
Her Aunt gives her the number of a man called Julius Singer who she knows and owns a gallery and when Anika shows him the painting his reaction is very different to that of Daniel in the first gallery. This shocks Anika and she vows not to make contact with him again.
Anika’s family are still in Hungary where savings where not allowed by the Communist Party. As she tries to uncover the truth about the painting, it becomes more complex and the story of how her aunt left Hungary and the lives her family who still live there have.
Anika has been dating Daniel who she met at the first gallery and one night when she return home she finds the painting has been stolen. She knew that the painting must be important for her parents to have given it to her to bring to Australia but can she find out the truth about it ?
This is a slow burner but it really steps up the pace and I really enjoy a book that gives me an insight to an area in history I am not familiar with. It is apparent that Anika and her family have experienced many atrocities in Hungary which haunt her and she trusts no-one. This is a really well researched and engrossing read and I really love a story set around a precious art work and this one ticked all the boxes for me. Secrets and the past of a painting all come to light in this wonderful book.
The perfect feel-good read from an exciting new voice in women’s fiction, for fans of Heidi Swain, Cathy Bramley and Jenny Colgan.
Tori Williamson is alone. After a tragic event left her isolated from her loved ones, she’s been struggling to find her way back to, well – herself. That’s why she set up her blog, The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness, as a way of – anonymously – connecting with the outside world and reaching others who just need a little help sometimes.
When she’s offered a free spot on a wellbeing retreat in exchange for a review on her blog, Tori is anxious about opening herself up to new surroundings. But after her three closest friends – who she talks to online but has never actually met – convince her it’ll do her some good, she reluctantly agrees and heads off for three weeks in the wild (well, a farm in Wales).
From the moment she arrives, Tori is sceptical and quickly finds herself drawn to fellow sceptic Than, the retreat’s dark and mysterious latecomer. But as the beauty of The Farm slowly comes to light she realizes that opening herself up might not be the worst thing. And sharing a yurt with fellow retreater Bay definitely isn’t. Will the retreat be able to fix Tori? Or will she finally learn that being lonely doesn’t mean she’s broken . . .
Welcome to The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness! Where you can learn to move mountains by picking up the smallest of stones…
About the author
Laura Bambrey was born in Dorset but raised in Wales. She’s worked as a trapeze choreographer, sculpture conservator and stilt walker, amongst others, and spent most of her time collecting stories from the people she met along the way. She has spent many years as a book blogger and reviewer of women’s fiction and now lives in Devon with her very own romantic hero and a ridiculously fluffy rabbit named Mop. The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness is her début novel.
You can connect with Laura on twitter @laurabambrey, on Instagram @laura_bambrey_books, on Facebook @laurabambreybooks, and via her author blog laurabambreybooks.blogspot.com
Thank you to Sara – Jade at Simon & Schuster for my invitation to the tour and for my copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.
Tori has been through a tough time but she has found her tribe online through a bereavement forum. Then she gets invited to a retreat in Wales and she is very apprehensive but her friends persuade her to go.
When she arrives at the farm in heels she realises that Ted and Lizzie are not as chilled out as she hoped and when they start to take away her phone any form of communication and toiletries she really begins to wonder what she has let herself in for three weeks.
She is then taken to her accommodation a yurt but to her horror she finds she is sharing with two others and one of them Dennis has no idea ofpersonal space. She finds that she really has signed up to more than she ever imagined.
This a lovely read, I liked Tori immediately and really liked the way we get to know her and the other characters Bay, Doreen and Geoff etc, through their experiences at the farm. Tori is a kind soul and has ended up lonely through no fault of her own.
She ends up by befriending Than who I was unsure of in the beginning. He is reluctant to join in with the sharing experiences and Dennis also is not a fan.
Joyful, uplifting and moving I absolutely loved this book ! It deals with anxiety and panic in a really sensitive way and it also has some surprises in store for the reader. A perfect summery escape to the farm !
A smart and funny novel about love, life and a second shot at freedom for rebellious women of a certain age. Eliza is angry. Very angry, and very, very hot. Late for work and dodging traffic, she’s still reeling from the latest row with husband Paddy. Twenty-something years ago, their eyes met over the class divide in oh-so-cool Britpop London, but while Paddy now seems content filling his downtime with canal boats and cricket, Eliza craves the freedom and excitement of her youth. Fifty sounds dangerously close to pensionable: her woke children want to cancel her, a male motorist has just called her a ‘mad old bat’ and to cap it all her hormones are on the run. Who knew menopause was puberty’s evil older sister? But then a moment of heroism draws an unexpected admirer, and Eliza sets out to discover whether the second half of life can be a glass half full after all. She might suffer mental fog and night sweats and have temporarily mislaid her waist – but this is her renaissance.
Woman of a Certain Rage is a smart and funny novel for all women who won’t be told it’s too late to shake things up.
About the Author:
Georgie Hall is the pseudonym of a hot, fierce and funny middle-aged mother and bestselling author, ready to cast off, type fast and float the boats of millions of women just like her.
Thank you Avneet at Head of Zeus for my copy of proof and for my invitation to the tour. Eliza is frazzled and she is angry. 50 and with two children and a husband who she loved dearly. Life has taken over and now she is really stressed out.
This is a funny, honest and very realistic look at women of a certain age and all the horrors that come with it, I really felt for Eliza and she is typical of many middle aged women juggling many plates in her life. She feels like her marriage maybe in trouble and she is also in mourning for Arty her dog who she felt was the only one who really understood her.
A visit to the family narrowboat The Tempest makes things even worse as Eliza discovers that Paddy has been keeping secrets from her. She decides to take drastic action and do something that is so far out of her comfort zone and try and find the old Eliza.
Paddy is also wondering where the relaxed and carefree woman he fell in love with has gone.
A funny tale of relationships, getting older and the ups and downs of life. An enjoyable read.
Today on the blog I am delighted to be sharing the details of this years Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival. This year it is business as usual after last year and what a great line up it is too. Ann Cleeves, Jacqueline Wilson, Cathy Retzenbrink and Kate Mosse are just few of the fantastic authors at the festival. Tickets are on sale now https://budlitfest.org.uk/
Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival – books are back with a bang
After a year of staging digital events, with only two live events possible last autumn, the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival is planning a return to its full programme this September to delight audiences. Taking place between 15th and 19th September, the brimming programme includes some huge names in both fiction and non-fiction, and a wide and varied range of events and topics for all ages.
Headlining the programme with be former principal ballerina and Strictly judge Dame Darcey Bussell talking about her life of dance, comedy actress and best-selling novelist Celia Imrie on her latest novel, and leading scientist Richard Dawkins on the best of science writing.
Dame Joan Bakewell will be discussing the challenges of getting older, and Radio 4’s More or Less presenter and FT columnist Tim Harford will be delivering the annual Susan Ward Memorial Talk, in memory of the Festival’s founder, asking if statistics are always to be believed. Educationalist and modern historian Sir Anthony Seldon will explore what makes a great PM, while Theresa May’s former Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell will give us an exclusive peek behind the door of Number 10.
Leading experts in their field joining the programme include Richard Ovenden of the Bodleian Library and author of the acclaimed Burning the Books, broadcaster and journalist Mary Ann Sieghart on women and work, and an array of historians including Dominic Selwood on the history of Britain in 50 documents, Philip Parker on the world in trade maps, Saul David on the Special Boat Service, Tristan Gooley on reading the weather, and David Rooney on how timekeeping shapes our world.
Leading fictions writers appearing this year include Vera and Shetland creator Ann Cleeves, Best Marigold Hotel novelist Deborah Moggach, Women’s Prize founder Kate Mosse, and Apple Tree Yard psychological thriller writer Louise Doughty.
Anti-racism campaigners Kehinde Andrews and Anita Sethi will question the meaning of belonging, acclaimed novelist Cathy Rentzenbrink will search for the power of books in our lives while couturier Jenny Packham will ask what clothes mean to us.
New this year is a Book Group Event, with audiences invited to read ahead the debut novel The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex and then talk to her about it.
Crafters, book lovers and emerging writers can get stuck into workshops with Louise Doughty, letterer Lucia Leyfield and bookbinder Ursula Jeakins. Whisky lovers can taste a range of different flavours with the international expert Nick Morgan of the Whisky Exchange.
The programme is also packed with events for families lead by the multi-bestselling author JacquelineWilson who presents her latest book The Primrose Railway Children. Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown will be getting everyone drawing, and Katz Cowley shares her brilliantly successful The Wonky Donkey. All ages can get stuck into modelling characters including Shaun the Sheep from Nick Park’s hilarious Aardman Films under the careful guidance of one of the company’s leading model makers.
Though the Festival hasn’t been able to hold events in local schools this Summer term because of Covid restrictions, it will be taking Kehinde Andrews and comedian Tez Ilyas into schools in September to talk about issues including mental health and racism. The historical fiction writer Caroline Lawrence will also be talking about her very popular novels in a special transition event for year 6s from local primary schools. Schools involved include St Peter’s Primary, Colyton Grammar and Exmouth Community College.
The Festival aims to be entirely live and in person with its famous Marquee on the Green for refreshments and pop-up Waterstones bookshop, subject to any prevailing restrictions, with audiences very keen to attend live events after so long. The programme will also include, however, two online events with the highly respected biographer Victoria Glendinning talking about the John Lewis retail phenomenon, and historian James Fox on the history of colour. A selection of other events in the programme will be filmed and available for audiences to view online for several days. The Festival is strongly supported by local businesses and donors, with the Exeter hearing organisation Audify once again this year’s Headline Sponsor. Tickets are on sale to Friends of the Festival from 5th July and to the general public from 12th July, from budlitfest.org.uk
12 SUMMERS AGO: Poppy and Alex meet. They hate each other, and are pretty confident they’ll never speak again.
11 SUMMERS AGO: They’re forced to share a ride home from college and by the end of it a friendship is formed. And a pact: every year, one vacation together.
10 SUMMERS AGO: Alex discovers his fear of flying on the way to Vancouver.
Poppy holds his hand the whole way.
7 SUMMERS AGO: They get far too drunk and narrowly avoid getting matching tattoos in New Orleans.
2 SUMMERS AGO: It all goes wrong.
THIS SUMMER: Poppy asks Alex to join her on one last trip. A trip that will determine the rest of their lives.
About the author
Emily Henry writes stories about love and family for both teens and adults. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the now-defunct New York Center for Art & Media Studies. Find her on Instagram @EmilyHenryWrites.
Thank you to George Taylor at Penguin Random House for my invitation to the tour and for my copy of the proof in return for a fair and honest review.
Poppy is a travel writer who has it all but she still isnt happy. She has the Instagram lifestyle and has achieved what she wanted so is perplexed that she still doesn’t feel content.
In the past she has holidayed with her best friend Alex but even that has stopped now. So after a heart to heart with her friend Rach she sends him a text late one night and is surprised but happy when he replies straight away.
Alex seems like a really good guy from the outset, a teacher and fitness addict and has been Poppy’s friend since college, however on their last trip away something happened and they have only spoken briefly so when he texts again Poppy decides to be brave and see if he wants another vacation.
This is such a fun book I liked Poppy and Alex immediately and I loved going back through their friendship and getting to know more about them. It’s about love,friendship, regret and contentment.
The author loves When Harry Met Sally and I can why in this joyful read. I was totally engrossed in their story and the will they, won’t they premise. I absolutely loved it and I am awarding Alex and Poppy my couple of the summer award as I didn’t want it to end.
The powerful new novel from the bestselling author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo.
She walks unseen through our world.
Cares for our children, cleans our homes.
Her voice unheard.
She has a story to tell.
Will you listen?
Nisha has crossed oceans to give her child a future. By day she cares for Petra’s daughter; at night she mothers her own little girl by the light of a phone. Nisha’s lover, Yiannis, is a poacher, hunting the tiny songbirds on their way to Africa each winter. His dreams of a new life, and of marrying Nisha, are shattered when she vanishes. No one cares about the disappearance of a domestic worker, except Petra and Yiannis. As they set out to search for her, they realise how little they know about Nisha. What they uncover will change them all.
With infinite tenderness and skill, Christy Lefteri has crafted a powerful, redemptive story of loss, of the triumph of the human spirit, and of the enduring love of a mother for her child
‘Will break your heart and open your eyes’
Heather Morris, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz
‘Christy Lefteri’s painfully beautiful story about a voiceless immigrant, Nisha, whose selfless courage touches the lives of those around her, moved me from the first page to the last. This thought-provoking novel of love loss and redemption is thoroughly sublime’
‘I’ve never read anything quite like Songbirds – a beautifully crafted novel that sits at the intersection of race and class, that flags the frank truth of the life of migrant workers for whom a flight to freedom can become the most finely woven trap’
About Christy Lefteri
Brought up in London, Christy Lefteri is the child of Cypriot refugees. She is a lecturer in creative writing at Brunel University. The Beekeeper of Aleppo was born out of her time working as a volunteer at a UNICEF supported refugee centre in Athens.
Thank you to Tracy Fenton for my invitation to the tour and to Zaffre my copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.
Nisha has brought up in Sri Lanka but has come to Cyprus and is living and working with Petra and is a Nanny to her daughter Aliki, she has had to leave her own daughter Kumari in Sri Lanka and only keeps in touch by telephone. She has had to compartmentalise her life to be able to cope with this situation she finds herself in.
Petra has also had a difficult life losing her husband whilst pregnant had a huge effect on her and her relationship with Aliki.
I read The Beekeeper of Aleppo a couple of years ago and I absolutely loved it and particularly the authors writing which is so beautiful and emotive.
Again this book is about migrants and as with The Beekeeper, it looks at the story of a lives that they now have and the one they once had.
Then one night Nisha fails to come home after a night out and to begin with Petra is not worried but as time goes on she begins to be concerned and others are too.
Yiannis, a widow who is also a poacher and was in a relationship with Nisha and had proposed the night before she disappeared. When Petra searches her room she discovers that she has left precious items behind which lead her to believe that she has not left of her own accord.
They have to involve the police however they are not very helpful or interested and the racism comes into the forefront. As the police have no time for migrants and in particular women migrants. Petra begins to realise that her Nisha and her have more in common than she first thought.
The descriptions of the landscapes in the book are really beautiful and I felt like I was transported to the Island and I was gripped by the intensity of the storytelling by this incredible author.
Another beautiful and moving novel from this incredibly talented author, it is hard to read in places for the journey these women endure is heartbreaking and Nisha’s story will stay with me for a long time.
Just outside the city – any city, every city – is a grand, spacious but affordable apartment building called The Beresford. There’s a routine at The Beresford. For Mrs May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building. Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate Smythe no longer does. Because Abe just killed him. In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers. And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door. Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings… ‘One of the most exciting authors in Britain’ Daily Express
ABOUT WILL CARVER
Welcome back to the Carver-verse… Rosemary’s Baby meets mayhem, in a startling, high-concept, nerves shredding standalone literary thriller by the critically acclaimed author of Nothing Important Happened Today and Hinton Hollow Death Trip. Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Will’s latest title published by Orenda Books, Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize, while Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year and for the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell. Good Samaritans was a book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the eBook charts.
Thank you to Anne Cater for my invitation to the tour and for my copy of the e book from Orenda.
Oh if you like a dark and twisted thriller this is the book for you. This was not the first book I have read by this author so I was prepared for the unique writing style.
We meet the residents of The Beresford an apartment block that Mrs May owns. This apartment block holds a lot of secrets.
Abe Schwartz who finds himself in a very complicated situation after a run in with another resident and is left with trying to figure out how to deal with the gruesome task ahead. He has always been dependable but finds that his new view on life makes him feel invincible.
Blair Conroy has recently left home for the first time and is looking forward to the freedom of living in her own. Her parents are god fearing people and are lost without their daughter.
Mrs May who owns the building and has a set routine and she does not miss a thing that happens. In fact she is very very sharp for an older woman. She also love her garden.
This is not a book for the fainthearted, it is very graphic in places and it definitely put me in the mind of The Shining and The Overlook Hotel! It is also funny in places and there are moments where your jaw drops as a huge piece of information is just dropped seamlessly into a sentence and you really didn’t see it coming. It is also best served cold with no spoilers.
Shocking, dark and devious this is a book that will keep you engrossed until the very end.
Moving, hopeful and heartfelt… an ideal book group read’ AJ Pearce, author of Dear Mrs Bird
A gripping and heartfelt story about overcoming the past and finding where you belong.
Anna Wilson travels the world as a professional housesitter – stepping into other people’s lives – caring for their homes, pets and sometimes even neighbours. Living vicariously.
But all Anna has ever really wanted is a home of her own – a proper one, filled with family and love and happy memories. If only she knew where to start.
Growing up in foster care, she always envied her friends their secure and carefree lives, their certainty and confidence. And, while those same friends may have become her family of choice, Anna is still stuck in that nomadic cycle, looking for answers, trying to find the courage to put down roots and find a place to call home.
Compelling, rich and evocative, Home is Anna’s journey to discovering that it isn’t where you settle down that matters, but the people you have around you when you do.
About the author
Penny Parkes lives in the Cotswolds. She has appeared at literary festivals around the country and has written for The Telegraph as well as extensively in her local media. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram as @CotswoldPenny
Thank you to SJV for my invitation to the tour for this gorgeous book and to the publishers for my copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.
Anna has had a tough upbringing, she was moved around in foster care as child. When she thought she had found happiness, fate intercepted again and dashed those plans. She has close friends in particular Kate but she longs to find her own home.
She works housesitting and after a really unpleasant experience in the most recent job she ends up in the small village of Dittisham looking after a huge unruly dog called Chewie.
There she meets some of inhabitants of the village including Henry who tries to show her that life is too short to put on hold. Unsurprisingly she is very cautious and also not willing to let people get too close to her.
The story is very moving as it switches between the present day and Anna’s childhood in care. There are parts of Anna’s story that are really heartbreaking and totally set the scene for her nomadic lifestyle but she takes on Henry’s advice and starts to make a plan. Bath is the first stop and there things change for Anna in a most unexpected way.
This is a wonderful story, I loved Anna and so wanted her to find a home and the characters in the book are so real and I really couldn’t put it down.
Warm, funny and deeply moving, you may need a packet of tissues for parts of Anna’s story. This is a a book that once you start you will not want to put down until you turn the last page. I absolutely devoured it !