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Showing posts from 2015

End of Year Book Survey 2015

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Hosted by Jamie, The Perpetual Page Turner. It's that time of year again, and I can't believe how quickly it's come around! I've had this little blog for over two years now and time has just flown by. New Year's Eve is time to reflect on the past year, and in terms of reading this survey is a great way of reminding myself of the books I've read this year.
Stats

Number Of Books You Read: 47
Number of Pages Read: 14, 107
Shortest Book Read:Shopaholic on Honeymoon by Sophie Kinsella
Longest Book Read: The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin
Genre You Read The Most From: Historical Fiction/Romance

Best Book You Read In 2015?Kit by Marina Fiorato

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish. Great premise, but I just didn't care about any of the characters that much.

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? The First Wife by Erica Spindler. I don…

Top Ten Books I Read in 2015

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2015 was a great year in books for me. Choosing just ten books for this list was a tricky task, but there were some that really stood out. Some are debuts, others are older books that I've only just got around to reading. All are brilliant in their own right, and I implore you to read them for yourself!






1) Kit by Marina Fiorato. My book of the year. If you like Mulan you'll love this!

2) The Silvered Heart by Katherine Clements. The tale of Katherine Ferras, highwaywoman.

3) The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice. An older book, but an instant favourite.

4) The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Such a lovely, quirky, funny book.

5) The First Wife by Erica Spindler. So gripping that I read it in less than 24 hours.

6) Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz. Bond is back.

7) The Affair by Gill Paul. The story of one woman's life-changing summer in beautiful Italy.

8) The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett. Think Sliding Doors meets One Day.

9) Amy Snow by Tracy Rees. Foundling Amy Snow…

Review: The Affair by Gill Paul

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 Rome 1961. The cameras roll on the film set of Cleopatra and the explosive Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton love affair is about to capture the world’s attention.

When Diana Bailey begins work as a historical advisor, tensions are running high. The film is in financial crisis and a media storm is brewing over the Taylor-Burton relationship.

Diana adjusts to a new life away from her troubled marriage, and strikes up a close friendship with Helen, a young make-up artist, as well as seeking solace in Ernesto, a charismatic member of the film crew. But Helen is harbouring a dark secret - one that will affect Diana in more ways than she could ever imagine…

An enthralling story of love and passion, set against the stunning backdrop of one of the most iconic Hollywood movies ever made

I've been wanting to read this book for a while so was pleased when I finally got my hands on it. The plot is much deeper and darker than I was expecting, which can only be a good thing. What really sells t…

Review: The Silvered Heart by Katherine Clements

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The legendary figure of Kate Ferrars, the infamous highwaywoman, is brought gloriously to life in this gripping tale of infatuation, betrayal and survival.

1648: Civil war is devastating England. The privileged world Katherine Ferrars knows is crumbling under Cromwell's army, and as an orphaned heiress, she has no choice but to do her duty and marry for the sake of family.

But as her marriage turns into a prison, and her fortune is decimated by the war, Kate becomes increasingly desperate. So when she meets the enigmatic Ralph Chaplin, she seizes the chance he offers. Their plan is daring and brutal, but it's an escape from poverty and the shackles of convention. They both know if they're caught, there's only one way it can end... 




Just when I thought I had my best reads of 2015 list all sewn up along comes this wonder! I've always been fascinated by outlaws and highwaymen and the legends that accompany them, so I knew from the off that the plot was right up my street…

Spotlight / Giveaway: Callie's Christmas Countdown by Julie Ryan

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As the countdown to Christmas is well and truly under way, what better book to feature on my blog today than Callie's Christmas Countdown by Julie Ryan:

Callie is an event planner, organising weddings and corporate parties. What she'd really love however, is to organise the perfect Christmas. How difficult can it be after all? She simply needs to get her divorced parents talking to each other, sort out a Christmas Eve wedding for the daughter of a millionaire and wait for her hunky, rich boyfriend to propose. What could possibly go wrong?

Amazon UKAmazon.com

About the Author
Julie was born and brought up in a mining village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. She graduated with a BA (hons) in French Language and Literature from Hull University. Since then she has lived and worked as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language in France, Greece, Poland and Thailand. She now lives in rural Gloucestershire with her husband, son and two cats, a rescue cat and a dippy cat with half a tail…

Top Ten New to Me Authors I Read in 2015

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
I've read books from plenty of new authors this year, and these are just a few of my favourites:

1 Eva Rice - The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is just so beautifully written.

2 Erica Spindler - The First Wife was so gripping that I read it in a day!

3 Tracy Rees - Amy Snowwon Richard and Judy's Search for a Bestseller, and it's easy to see why.

4 Marina Fiorato - Kitis my book of the year by a mile. More on that next week!

5 Louise Candlish - The Sudden Departure of the Frasers had me intrigued from the start.

6 Gill Paul - The Affair, with it's backdrop of the Burton/Taylor romance in Italy, is stunning.

7 Sophie Hannah - The Monogram Murdersmarks a welcome return to fiction for Monsieur Poirot.

8 Graeme Simsion - The Rosie Projectis just hilarious and wonderful.

9 Laura Barnett - The Versions of Usis a very clever book. This girl has talent.

10 Zara Stoneley -Stable Mates/Country Affairsare my guilty pleasur…

December Blog Update

You may well have noticed my posts have become more sporadic of late. In the past couple of months I've gone from having one job (part time farm worker) to three. As well as helping on the farm when time allows, I now also work in the box office of a local theatre and as a Christmas temp in Waterstones - every book lover's holy grail! So while I spend all day reading (the commute is up to an hour each way), selling and talking about books, I now have very little time to actually write about them. I do have a few yearly wrap up posts/top ten lists scheduled for the next few weeks, and I'm aiming to get some more reviews up in the near future too - I miss blogging! So bear with me dear readers, and forgive me if I haven't had time to read and comment on as many of your posts as I'd like to. Once the Christmas madness is over normal service should hopefully be resumed :)

Review: Masquerade by Joanna Taylor

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1786 : Regency London. Everyone is hiding something. But someone is hiding everything.

Lizzy Ward never meant to end up working the streets of Piccadilly. So when a mysterious noble pursues her, it seems her luck is changing. But though Lord Hays offers to grow Lizzy's fortunes, his price is unexpected. She must masquerade in the sumptuous gowns and social mask of a true lady.

With the stakes so high, love is out of the question. But as Lizzy navigates the fashion and faux-pas of the London elite, she finds her tough facade failing her. Lord Hayes wants to show her that nobility is more than skin deep . . . and as the connection between them grows, it's no longer certain who's wearing the mask. As the street-girl and the lord collide, Regency London is poised for scandal . . .  



It was only after finishing this book that I found out it is essentially a scene by scene retelling of Pretty Woman set in the 1800s. While I picked up on the street girl/gentleman comparisons I have …

Review: Amy Snow by Tracy Rees

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Abandoned on a bank of snow as a baby, Amy is taken in at nearby Hatville Court. But the masters and servants of the grand estate prove cold and unwelcoming.  

Amy's only friend and ally is the sparkling young heiress Aurelia Vennaway. So when Aurelia tragically dies young, Amy is devastated.  

But Aurelia leaves Amy one last gift. A bundle of letters with a coded key. A treasure hunt that only Amy can follow. A life-changing discovery awaits... if only she can unlock the secret.


I've been excited to read this book ever since I first heard about it. For a debut novel it is very impressive, full of wonderful characters with a plot that will keep you reading.

I did find Amy as a narrator a tad overdramatic, but you can't help but feel for her - especially considering her history. I found myself questioning her unwavering loyalty to Aurelia at times, and my opinion of Aurelia constantly changed throughout the course of the novel. All we know of Aurelia we learn through her lette…

Film Review: SPECTRE

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Regular readers of my blog may well know by now that I am a huge fan of James Bond. I have been waiting for this film for so long. As soon as the credits rolled on Skyfall I was already longing for my next Bond fix. The past three years I've followed every rumour and development with bated breath. It's only natural then that I saw SPECTRE on it's opening night. I was buzzing about it beforehand and haven't stopped talking about it since!

**I try to keep all of my reviews spoiler free, but of course if you don't want to know anything at all about the film, it's perhaps best you stop reading here!**

Fair play to the lad who turned up in a tuxedo to watch it! It was either his own choice, a dare, or he had a fancy dinner party beforehand, but either way it made my evening before the film had even started!

Sam Smith's theme song, Writing's on the Wall, which I wasn't all that keen on on first listen, has really grown on me, and it fitted the opening cre…

Blog Tour: And Baby Makes Four by Tilly Tennant

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Mishaps in Millrise – a four-(novella)-part romantic spin-off from Mishaps and Mistletoe

Part 4 - And Baby Makes Four

Could Phoebe and Jack finally have put their troubles behind them? All is calm at Hendry’s toy store, and Jack’s mother has even developed a grudging respect for Phoebe. If Archie is serious about addressing his issues, then things are really starting to look rosy for the couple again. But when did Phoebe’s life ever go to plan?

As they prepare for what should be the happiest day of their lives, fate decides to throw them yet another curve ball. What they face will test them to the limit, but Phoebe might just believe in miracles before it’s through.


Buy links: Amazon UKAmazon US

Review 
I'm always a little sad when a series comes to end, particularly one as good as this! Throughout the course of the four installments I've become quite attached to the characters, especially Phoebe. My favourite characters are still the adorable Maria and Midnight - so wack…

Review: Goldfinger by Ian Fleming / Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz

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With the much anticipated film release of SPECTRE just around the corner, tonight in fact, this lifelong James Bond fan is in her element. However, I have to admit that I have actually read very few of the original books - Sebastian Faulks and William Boyd have both written credible additions to the Bond canon, Devil May Care and Solo respectively, and those I have read - but The Spy Who Loved Me was, until recently, the only one of Fleming's books that I remember reading! Around this time last year I was lucky enough to grab the boxed set of Fleming Bonds for £10 (yes, a tenner for the whole set, thanks The Book People!), but for some inexplicable reason they remained untouched, until now.

Again, it was around this time last year that I found out one of my all time favourite writers, Anthony Horowitz, had been commissioned to write the next James Bond book. For those unfamiliar with him -although regular readers of my blog will have seen many a post talking about his greatness - h…

Review: The First Wife by Erica Spindler

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Despite the ten-year age gap and the differences in their backgrounds, Bailey was meant to marry Logan - she's sure of it. But when Logan brings Bailey home to his magnificent estate, her dreams of happily ever after begin to unravel. She can't ignore the rumours about what happened to Logan's first wife and then when a local woman goes missing, all signs point to Bailey's husband.

Suddenly Bailey is facing an impossible decision: should she believe what everyone is saying, or should she bet her life on the man she loves, but hardly knows?


I knew immediately from the blurb that I would love this book. And I was right. I was so utterly gripped that I raced through it in a day! After a whirlwind holiday romance Bailey Browne finds herself married to Logan Abbott. Only once they arrive back at his estate does Bailey become aware of the rumours and secrets that plague the life of Logan and those closest to him. Logan was dark, mysterious, and downright gorgeous! Like Bailey,…

Review: The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine by Alex Brunkhorst

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Family secrets. Forbidden love. And the true price of wealth.

Thomas is a small-town boy and when Lily invites him to a dinner party, he gains access to the exclusive upper echelons of Hollywood society. As he enters a world of private jets and sprawling mansions, his life and career take off beyond his wildest dreams.

Then he meets Matilda Duplaine.

Beautiful and mysterious, Matilda has spent her entire life within the walls of her powerful father’s Bel-Air estate and Thomas is immediately entranced by her. But what starts as an enchanted romance soon threatens to destroy their lives and the lives of everyone around them.

As soon as I read the blurb for this book I was immediately reminded of The Great Gatsby, one of my all time favourite novels. Young reporter Thomas Cleary is sent on an assignment to meet Lily Goldman, the daughter of the late Hollywood great Joel Goldman, to get some quotes for his obituary. A seemingly routine encounter, but one that will change his life forever. Thr…

Review: The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan

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Gwenni Morgan is not like any other girl in her small Welsh town. Inquisitive, bookish and fill of spirit, she can fly in her sleep and loves playing detective. So when a neighbour mysteriously vanishes and no one seems to be asking the right questions, Gwenni decides to conduct her own investigation.

I'll admit, it was the beautiful cover that first drew me to this book. The blurb sounded unusual so I was excited to give it a go. This book was not at all like I was expecting, but then maybe that was the author's intention. The plot is as much an exploration of mental illness as a a detective story - I won't say any more so as not to spoil it. It's clear to the reader from the start exactly what's happened to Ifan Evans, Gwenni's neighbour, so the 'detective' side of things is simply Gwenni finding out the truth for herself, growing up along the way. It is darkly compelling and a quick read. The child narrator, first person present, worked really well an…

Blog Tour / Giveaway: The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan by Whitney Dineen

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Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan by Whitney Dineen! Read on to find out more, and don't forget to enter the giveaway to win yourself a copy!

Thirty-four year old, Mimi Finnegan is the third of four daughters and in her eyes, by far, the most unremarkable. She has no singular accomplishment that can stand up to any of her sisters. And if that isn’t enough, she is the only single sibling in her family. Mimi’s sisters decide that it’s time she gets serious about husband hunting, so they begin a campaign to find Mr. Right for her. Considering her most recent dating encounters include a night club owner who stuffs bratwurst in his pants and a WASPy trust fund baby, living happily under his mother’s thumb, Mimi is more than ready to meet THE ONE. Enter celebrated British novelist Elliot Fielding. Sexual tension and anger heat up between the duo and it isn’t until Mimi discovers that Elliot is almost engaged to another that she realizes she is head-ove…

Blog Tour: The Parent Trap by Tilly Tennant

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Mishaps in Millrise part 3
A shock development turns Phoebe’s world upside-down. But it’s one that Jack has difficulty coming to terms with too, and they seem to be growing further and further apart. Archie continues to stir up trouble between them, until one night his reckless actions almost end in tragedy. And he’s not the only one causing problems in Phoebe’s life, as Midnight adds her own peculiar spanner in the works.

Phoebe buries herself in her job, and it looks as though Hendry’s might actually be on the road to financial recovery. But if she loses Jack and Midnight, what will it all be for?
The Parent Trap is the third instalment in the Mishaps in Millrise series.

Buy links
AMAZON UK
AMAZON.COM

Review
Yet another gripping installment in the Mishaps in Millrise series! This one is packed with plenty of drama and emotion. As always it's full of characters that you love (Maria), and ones that you really hate (Carol)! I really liked May, Phoebe's mother who we meet in this instal…

Review: Rogue Knight by Regan Walker

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York, England 1069… three years after the Norman Conquest

The North of England seethes with discontent under the heavy hand of William the Conqueror, who unleashes his fury on the rebels who dare to defy him. Amid the ensuing devastation, love blooms in the heart of a gallant Norman knight for a Yorkshire widow.

A LOVE NEITHER CAN DENY, A PASSION NEITHER CAN RESIST

Angry at the cruelty she has witnessed at the Normans’ hands, Emma of York is torn between her loyalty to her noble Danish father, a leader of the rebels, and her growing passion for an honorable French knight.

Loyal to King William, Sir Geoffroi de Tournai has no idea Emma hides a secret that could mean death for him and his fellow knights.

WAR DREW THEM TOGETHER, WAR WOULD TEAR THEM APART


War erupts, tearing asunder the tentative love growing between them, leaving each the enemy of the other. Will Sir Geoffroi, convinced Emma has betrayed him, defy his king to save her?

Review
Rogue Knight is yet another brilliant novel from Re…

Review: The Olive Branch by Jo Thomas

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You can buy almost anything online these days. For Ruthie Collins, it was an Italian farmhouse.

Yet as she battles with a territorial goat and torrential rain just to get through the door of her new Italian home, the words of Ed, her ex, are ringing in her ears. She is daft, impetuous and irresponsible.

But Ruthie is determined to turn things around and live the dream.

First, though, she must win over her fiery neighbour, Marco Bellanouvo, and his tempestuous family...and then there's the small matter of running an olive farm. As the seasons change and new roots are put down, olives and romance might just flourish in the warmth of the Mediterranean sun.

Review
I loved Jo Thomas' first novel The Oyster Catcher so I was excited to read this! I have to admit that it took me a little longer to get into this one than her previous stories, I think I was missing the Celtic charm of her first novel, but it soon drew me in. The plot is pretty similar to The Oyster Catcher too, although I di…

Review: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

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Sherlock Holmes is dead. 


Days after Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty fall to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. The death of Moriarty has created a poisonous vacuum which has been swiftly filled by a fiendish new criminal mastermind who has risen to take his place.

Ably assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard, a devoted student of Holmes's methods of investigation and deduction, Frederick Chase must forge a path through the darkest corners of the capital to shine light on this shadowy figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, a man determined to engulf London in a tide of murder and menace.



I absolutely loved Horowitz's first Sherlock Holmes novel The House of Silk, and so was very excited when I finally got my hands on this. I was initially disappointed to discover how little Holmes appeared in the book - and what kind of Holmes novel is narrated by someone other than Watson!? But Frederick Chas…

Review: The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

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Hercule Poirot's quiet supper in a London coffee house is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified, but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.


Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at the fashionable Bloxham Hotel have been murdered, a cufflink placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim…


I'm ashamed to admit that I have read very little Agatha Christie, although I am a big fan of the TV adaptations, especially Poirot. I've been eager to read this since I first heard about it last year - it's a very brave move taking on such an iconic character written by such a beloved author and I was interested to see what Sophie Hannah had achieved. The character of the great …

Review: Kit by Marina Fiorato

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As regular readers of my blog may have noticed, every once in a while a book comes along that I can't stop raving about. Last year it was The Illusionists by Rosie Thomas. This year it's all about Kit.

Dublin 1702. Irish beauty Kit Kavanagh leads a comfortable life running a tavern with her beloved husband Richard. But everything changes one night when Richard is taken for a solider. Not content to sit at home and wait for news Kit disguises herself as a man, and, taking her late father's sword with her, enlists in the Duke of Marlborough's regiment and follows Richard to war-torn Italy. As Kit risks her life in battle she soon forms a bond with her regiment, the Scots Greys Dragoons, particularly with her handsome commander Captain Ross. When a duel lands her in prison she escapes by dressing once more as a woman, soon catching the eye of the scheming Duke of Ormonde who recruits her to masquerade as a French countess and spy upon the enemy. Torn between Captain Ross a…

Review: The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice

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*Thanks to Bookbridgr for my beautiful signed edition of this book!*

Penelope longs to be grown-up and to fall in love; but various rather inconvenient things keep getting in her way. Like her mother, a stunning but petulant beauty widowed at a tragically early age, her younger brother Inigo, currently incapable of concentrating on anything that isn't Elvis Presley, a vast but crumbling ancestral home, a severe shortage of cash, and her best friend Charlotte's sardonic cousin Harry...

Oh I just adored this book! There's no emotional rollercoaster, no shocking plot twists, simply an enchanting coming of age story that in every way deserves the title of 'modern vintage classic'. It is truly captivating, beautifully written, and I became so attached to the characters that I was loathed to leave them at the end. I'm told that there are echoes of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle here, which I have to admit I've never read, but if it's anything like this …

Blog Tour / Giveaway: Just Like Rebecca by Tilly Tennant

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Phoebe’s new role at work is keeping her busier than ever. Just as she’s finding her feet, however, new boss, Dixon, lands a bombshell: Hendry’s toy store is in dire financial straits and it’s up to him and Phoebe to save it. This isn’t exactly what she signed up for and she’s going to need all the help she can get. So it’s a pity that the only help she has comes in the form of Midnight, her purple-haired colleague who wouldn’t know an employee rule-book if it slapped her in the face…

At home, Jack’s brother, Archie, and their mum, Carol, seem determined to make Phoebe’s life hell, however hard she tries. And now Jack seems to have a new rival too: Adam Hendry, slick heir to the Hendry’s empire, who is making it very clear he’d like to involve Phoebe in a hostile takeover. Just how far will he go to get what he wants?

Buy Links: Amazon UKAmazon.com

Review
I loved the first installment of this series, Little Acts of Love, and this follow up doesn't disappoint! The Mishaps in Millrise s…

Blog Tour: To Tame the Wind by Regan Walker

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To Tame the Wind by Regan WalkerPublication Date: May 9, 2015
Series: Agents of the Crown (Prequel)
Genre: Historical Romance  

 Paris 1782…AN INNOCENT IS TAKEN All Claire Donet knew was the world inside the convent walls in Saint-Denis. She had no idea her beloved papa was a pirate. But when he seized Simon Powell's schooner, the English privateer decided to take the one thing his enemy held most dear... her. A BATTLE IS JOINED The waters between France and England roil with the clashes of Claire's father and her captor as the last year of the American Revolution rages on the sea, spies lurk in Paris and Claire’s passion for the English captain rises.

Buy links: AMAZON



Praise
“A sea adventure like no other, a riveting romance!” -NY Times bestselling author Shirlee Busbee “Another exciting historical romance from Regan Walker” –NY Times Bestselling Author Virginia Henley
“I was hooked from the first page! Political intrigue, a bit of mystery and a beautifully developed roma…