Saturday, 29 April 2017
In Edwardian England, aeroplanes are a new, magical invention, while female pilots are rare indeed. When shy Della Dobbs meets her mother's aunt, her life changes forever. Great Auntie Betty has come home from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, across whose windswept dunes the Wright Brothers tested their historic flying machines. Della develops a burning ambition to fly and Betty is determined to help her. But the Great War is coming and it threatens to destroy everything - and everyone - Della loves.Uplifting and page-turning, THE WILD AIR is a story about love, loss and following your dreams against all odds.
Thursday, 27 April 2017
The brilliantly gripping new novel from the New York Times best-selling author of The Pilot's Wife (an Oprah's Book Club selection). Hot breath on Grace's face. Claire is screaming, and Grace is on her feet. As she lifts her daughter, a wall of fire fills the window. Perhaps a quarter of a mile back, if even that. Where's Gene? Didn't he come home? 1947. Fires are racing along the coast of Maine after a summer-long drought, ravaging thousands of acres, causing unprecedented confusion and fear. Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left alone to protect her two toddlers when her difficult and unpredictable husband Gene joins the volunteers fighting to bring the fire under control. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie's two young children, the women watch in horror as their houses go up in flames, then walk into the ocean as a last resort. They spend the night frantically trying to save their children. When dawn comes, they have miraculously survived, but their lives are forever changed: homeless, penniless, and left to face an uncertain future. As Grace awaits news of her husband's fate, she is thrust into a new world in which she must make a life on her own, beginning with absolutely nothing; she must find work, a home, a way to provide for her children. In the midst of devastating loss, Grace discovers glorious new freedoms - joys and triumphs she could never have expected her narrow life with Gene could contain - and her spirit soars. And then the unthinkable happens, and Grace's bravery is tested as never before.This is the first Anita Shreve I have read in some time and it is definitely not going to be my last. I was drawn in to the story from the very start. I really liked Anita's style of writing, it is very atmospheric and I found myself living through the drought, snow and the fire. I really enjoyed reading about the style of living on the US coastline during 1947 and the dynamics within the families. It was a time where men went out to work and women stayed at home looking after the children and keeping house, however I think that life in America was different to that within postwar UK.
I felt the story had a strong storyline, with characters who I sympathised with and I really felt for Claire, two young children and then pregnant with a third, which was conceived in violent circumstances. It is evident from the start that family life was not a happy place with Gene marrying Claire after loosing the love of his life.
After the fire, life changes for the neighbourhood and while Gene is lost Claire has the oppurtunity to stand up and make things better for her family. The mysterious pianist who Claire finds squatting in the home previously owned by her mother in law, is the sunshine in her life for a short time but when he leaves Claire continues to work hard and gains independence making a better life for her and her family. However this is short lived when the police turn up on her doorstep and Claire's fortunes change again and a difficult decision must be made.
I really enjoyed the story and I think that although the story is set in 1947 and in America it is still relevant today. Women across the world are living in fear, with husbands who take charge or monopolise their families, leaving women and children living in daily fear (of course many men are also living in abusive relationships), however stories like this show that these relationships can be escaped and people can have a life after their fear.
I think this is one of those books that could give many of its readers a positive message that things can improve and I hope that it is a book that is shared because it it a great story but also one that can give hope,
Thank you to the publishers, Little Brown, for inviting me onto this book tour in return for an honest review.
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
Carrie Dashwood fled Dorset ten years ago when her best friend Megan stole her love, local heartthrob Tom. Now she’s back to help run her aunt Ruby’s flower stall in idyllic Shipley.
Trying to persuade herself that her feelings for Tom are in the past, Carrie plans to avoid him and Megan completely. But it’s not to be, because Ruby’s Blooms are arranging the flowers for Megan and Tom’s wedding.
Soon Carrie’s crawling under the stall to hide and accidentally inventing an imaginary boyfriend... But with the stall’s finances in jeopardy and Ruby needing her niece more than ever, Carrie has to keep her emotions in check.
With bouquets to arrange, family secrets to uncover, and Tom unavoidably a part of her life again, can Carrie keep her cool, save the stall, and find her very own happy ever after?
The Beachside Flower Stall is a return to Shipley, the second installment in the the Beachside Bay series. The book contains a whole new cast of characters although a few favourites from The Beachside Sweet Shop pop up too.
I really enjoyed The Beachside Sweet Shop and was looking forward to the second book, although unfortunately this book didn't grab me as quickly. However, I did enjoy the story as it got going, particularly as the meaning behind individual flowers were entwined into the story, reiminscent of Vanessa Diffenbaugh's The Language of Flowers. There are a number of storylines throughout the book but I really enjoyed Ruby's story which was a heartwarming storyline.
There were also a number of times during the book when Karen Clarke's humour shone through and I found myself laughing out loud.
The book can be read as a standalone novel, however it is the second visit to the beachside town of Shipley and the series is introducing the reader to a great cast of characters who I hope to meet up with again soon. Karen Clarke has created a great setting and I look forward to returning again soon.
Thank you to the publishers, Bookouture, for inviting me to take part on this blog tour in return for an honest review.
Thursday, 13 April 2017
Today I am pleased to welcome Catherine Ferguson to my blog as part of her blog tour to celebrate the ebook pubilication of her new book, The Secrets of Ivy Garden.
I want Ivy so much right now, I feel as if my heart will break.
Last time I saw her, she was waving me off on the train back to Manchester.
I remember thinking how elegant she was that day. Normally, Ivy lived in casual trousers and tops. Life was too short, she said, for feeling like a trussed-up goose in the name of fashion. But she’d taken me for an early supper at a nearby pub before driving me to the station in Stroud, which was why she was all dressed up. Right then, on that station platform, she could have passed for a woman in her late fifties. Hard to believe she was seventy-two.
Actually, the way I usually remember her now is in the old gardening garb she used to wear, or in her hiking gear, fresh from walking in the country lanes around Appleton.
A painful lump wedges in my throat.
This is how it happens. I’ll just be starting to think I’m doing okay, coping well, beginning to make plans – then boom! The thought that I’ll never be able to see Ivy or hug her ever again sends a flood of grief washing through me.
Hot tears prick my eyelids. The nails-in-palms trick isn’t working. Then something Ivy used to say zips into my mind: Worry’s like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.
I swallow hard, picturing her giving me one of her no-nonsense pep talks. It’s almost as if she’s sitting right here next to me, a twinkle in her eyes, on the bench in her beloved Ivy Garden. Telling me not to worry because things are never as bad as they seem and I’ll figure it out somehow.
Of course! That’s where I need to be.
Her favourite place in the whole world.
With my eyes still closed, I picture Ivy Garden the last time I saw it, on that final weekend I spent with her.
It was a hot August day. We wandered over the road and squeezed through the gap in the hedge, to the dappled woodland clearing that, over the years, Ivy had transformed into a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity.
She discovered the place years ago, when she was newly married to Peter, my granddad. He died long before I was born, when my mum was only three years old. Ivy never talked about Peter much, except to say he was ‘a good man’. She said that a lot whenever I asked her what he was like, so I still only had a rather hazy impression of him. He was a self-employed accountant and I got the impression he worked really hard. I think Ivy liked to escape the house and leave him in peace with his calculations. More than once, I heard her say laughingly that her ‘secret garden’ had kept her sane during her marriage.
The clearing in the trees was on public land, on the edge of a wood, and Ivy nurtured it into a lovely woodland garden. She planted shrubs, flowers and grasses for every season, so there was a rolling show of colour all year round, from the banks of snowdrops and crocuses as the frosts of winter melted into spring, to the glorious russets of autumn. Many of the villagers knew about the garden and would pop in for a chat while she worked. She often lounged on the old wooden bench reading the blood-curdling thrillers she loved, her feet up, with an old cushion at her back. She never seemed to mind being interrupted.
Someone once referred to it as ‘Ivy Garden’ and the name stuck.
We were there that blisteringly hot afternoon to pick lavender so that Ivy could make her perfumed drawer sachets to sell at the Appleton summer fete. She would run up the tiny white muslin bags on her old sewing machine and then fill them with the evocatively scented dried herb, tying them up with silky pink ribbon. The proceeds would be donated to the village hall community fund.
After we picked the lavender that day, she set her old gardening trug on the mossy ground and we sank on to the wooden bench under the dappled shade of an oak tree, and drank chilled pear cider straight from the bottle. It was a relief to be out of the sweltering sun and we lingered there a long time, soaking up the birdsong and the buzz of nature, as Ivy Garden weaved its magic around us.
I am currently reading The Secrets of Ivy Garden and am loving it. It is the perfect book to read this spring time and I am loving the descriptive writing of Ivy Garden and wish I could visit it as I think it is the perfect place to sit for a day, in the sun, and read a book and enjoy the peace, quiet and the wildlife and insects that are in the surrounding gardens.
Thank you to the publishers. Avon, and Catherine for inviting me onto the tour and I will publish my review as soon as i finish the book.
Tuesday, 11 April 2017
Saturday, 8 April 2017
**A TIMES and INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER** **SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD 2016** A brother chosen. A brother left behind. And a family where you'd least expect to find one. Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers. Since Jake is white and Leon is not. As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile - like Curly Wurlys, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum. Evoking a Britain of the early eighties, My Name is Leon is a heart-breaking story of love, identity and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Of the fierce bond between siblings. And how - just when we least expect it - we manage to find our way home.