Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Review of The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard

The Ways of the World is set in Paris during the peace conference after the first world war.

James ‘Max’ Maxted, war hero and second son of Sir Henry Maxted, is devastated to hear of his father’s death in Paris. Alongside his elder brother Sir Ashley, Max travels to France and is shocked to discover suspicious circumstances surrounding his father’s death. Against his brother’s wishes, he decides to stay in Paris and uncover the truth. However, in looking for his father’s killer, Max steps into a world full of secrets, spies and assassins. In some ways, his life is put in even greater risk than it was during the war.

I was fascinated by the historical context of this novel with its details about the 1919 peace conference. There are so many twists and turns in the plot that I was suspicious of many of the characters at various points. This is a truly outstanding story that will have you guessing until the very end. I highly recommend it for fans of historical fiction.

I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be looking out for more books by Robert Goddard. The cliff hanger ending has left me desperate to know what will happen next.

I read this as part of the Transworld Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Review of A Jersey Kiss by Georgina Troy

Bea is mourning the death of her aunt and is struggling to cope with the beautiful old house that she inherited. It is called The Brae and was her aunt's pride and joy, so Bea is determined that it must stay in the family. However, she has recently separated from her husband Simon and he is demanding a share too. The will also states that Bea has been left something called the Jersey Kiss, but no one seems to know what this is. Could it be something that might help her save the house?

The last thing Bea is looking for at this difficult time is romance, but when handsome builder Luke arrives to start work on the house she can't help but feel a connection. The problem is that her boss Tom also seems determined to strike up more than a friendship. When Tom delivers some shocking news about Luke, Bea must decide who, if anyone, to choose.

I really recommend this book as a fun summer read that is full of romance and mystery in a beautiful setting. I look forward to reading more by this author.

I loved the cover on this kindle edition!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Review of The Old Rectory by Julia Ibbotson

I am delighted to be hosting The Old Rectory blog tour today.

The Old Rectory is Julia Ibbotson’s real life account of buying and restoring a Victorian rectory in the countryside.

It is a fascinating and absorbing book and I enjoyed the author's accounts of settling into life in the village. Over a two year period, the author and her husband gradually renovate the house and fill the reader in on all of the trials and tribulations involved in this process. Ibbotson also tells the reader about the history of the house and surrounding area.

I really enjoyed reading this book and I particularly loved the inclusion of seasonal recipes at the end of each chapter. I plan to try a number of the dishes mentioned, especially the sticky toffee pudding. The Old Rectory will be a perfect book for fans of biographies and cookery books.
You can follow the blog tour tomorrow at: http://www.crimsonflowerreview.com/

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Review of Nearest Thing to Crazy by Elizabeth Forbes

Nearest Thing to Crazy is a real edge of your seat, gripping and pacy read that I didn’t want to put down.

Ellie Black arrives in a sleepy country village and is soon at the heart of local society. Everything about her from her red shoes to sports car screams glamour and different.

Ellie befriends Cass and Dan and soon they start to plan outings together. At first, Cass and Ellie seem to get on really well and Cass is excited about her new friend. However, soon Cass starts noticing strange behaviour from Ellie -  just small things at first, but the problem is that no one believes her – not even her husband Dan and daughter. As Ellie works her way into village life, Cass feels that people are turning against her and starts to feel that her life is spiralling out of control. Is Cass imagining things and blowing them out of proportion or is her distrust of Ellie justified?

This book is full of suspense and will really have you questioning what you believe to be true. I was taken by surprise so many times by the many twists and turns in the plot – it will keep you guessing right until the end.

This is a stunning debut novel that had me hooked from the very first page. I look forward to reading more from this author and wouldn’t hesitate to rate this as a five star read.

Thank you to Cutting Edge Press for sending me a copy to review.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Review of My Husband Next Door by Catherine Alliott

I am a big fan of Catherine Alliott’s books and had been looking forward to reading her latest novel ‘My Husband Next Door’.

Ella was just nineteen years old when she married well known artist Sebastian Montclair. They had a whirlwind romance and two children soon followed. At first, their lives seemed idyllic with a large London townhouse, lots of invitations flowing in and a private education for the children all within their means. However, fast forward the clock and things have drastically changed. Ella and Sebastian now live separate lives on the same farm in the countryside with their fashionable London days a world away.

With Sebastian living in the out-house, everything is left to Ella and you can tell that she is just about at the end of her tether. It is made all the worse by her sister who seems to have a perfect life with a large house and no money worries. However, when Ella strikes up a friendship with handsome gardener Ludo she wonders if there could be more to their relationship than just a friendship.

Alliott has filled this book with a whole host of coulourful, larger than life characters. I particularly liked the animals characters featured and, as the owner of some rather unruly chickens, I found a certain scene with Ella's cockerels to be hilarious.


This is another fun, witty read from Alliott that would make perfect reading on a summer’s day.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Review of Millie and the American University by Annabel Scott

Millie and the American University is the prequel to Millie and the American Wedding, which was released last year.  

The novel follows University student Millie as she goes on a year abroad to Kendry University in Pennsylvania. Millie finds herself the centre of attention on this small US campus, as the only British student there and people (especially boys) are fascinated by her accent. Everything about Kendry is different from her UK University from the intense workload to the fraternity parties and the way that students don’t drink in bars as much. Determined to make friends, Millie is initially introduced to Jen and Casey two girls from one of the sorority houses. At first, she thinks that they are genuine friends, but soon their bossiness about her clothes and weight begin to seem more like bullying. When Millie makes friends with Kristen and begin going to parties together, Jen and Casey turn on her and things become particularly nasty when Millie shows interest in a guy that Casey likes.

Each chapter begins with an email entry from Millie to her friends in the UK and this was one of my favourite features of the book. It is interesting to see Millie’s summary of what has happened whilst she has been away. I loved reading about all of the frat parties and drinking games that went on, there are some hilarious moments with one particular incident with whipped cream that had me laughing out loud.

This is a really fun, romantic, feel good story that I read in one sitting, it made me feel nostalgic for my university days!

 I also think that it would appeal to fans of New Adult fiction.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Review of Always You by Erin Kaye

In 1992, Sarah and Cahal meet at University and plan to spend the rest of their lives together, it is love at first sight and they are certain that they will never be apart. However, Sarah’s family believe that Cahal is not suitable for her and she is forced to choose between her family and her boyfriend.

The novel then jumps forward twenty years to 2012 and we see Sarah as a career woman with two children and divorced – but not from Cahal. The two have lost touch and we have to work out what happened between them and just why Sarah’s family hated Cahal so much. A chance meeting brings Sarah and Cahal together twenty years later and it is evident that there is still a spark between them, but is it too late for their romance?

Always You is a compelling and emotional book that had me hooked straight away, it is a story of love, loss, hope and loyalty. The chemistry between Sarah and Cahal is strong and believable from the very beginning and it was interesting to see how their lives had worked out. There are lots of twists to the plot that really kept me on my toes. It’s a wonderful love story that I highly recommend.
This is the first book by Erin Kaye that I have read and I loved it! I will definitely be looking out for more books by this author.

Thank you to Avon for sending me a copy to review.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Interview with Wendy Wallace - Author of The Sacred River

I am delighted to welcome Wendy Wallace to the blog today. I am a big fan of Wendy's books and loved reading The Painted Bridge last year. Her latest book The Sacred River is published today.

  Please tell us a little about yourself

Hi! I was born in Kent and moved to London aged 17. Apart from the times I’ve spent travelling and sometimes living abroad – in the US, Egypt and Sudan - I’ve lived in London all my adult life and am very attached to it.

 I’m married to a photographer, Mike Goldwater. We have two sons in their 20s, both also living in London.  I like reading, swimming in the women’s pond on Hampstead heath and exploring old parts of the city.
   Please tell us about 'Sacred River' and your inspiration for the book

The Sacred River is a novel about three women who leave a fog-bound London for Egypt, trying to escape a prophesied death. It’s set in 1882, at the time of an earlier Arab spring, and the background is of political turmoil in the country. I was interested in exploring whether and how you can be a different person, away from the constrictions and comforts of home. All three women alter radically over the course of the story, in different ways and for different reasons.

How did you research The Sacred River?

I once lived in Egypt for a few months, in Cairo, in a flat just off Tahrir Square. Later I worked as a journalist in many north African countries, and wrote the biography of a Sudanese woman. I’ve always been interested in Arab life, language and culture and enjoyed trying to bring Egypt - the place and people - to life in the novel. I made another trip to Egypt before writing the book, to Luxor to research the Valley of the Queens. I then returned there for a few days earlier this year in order to make a trailer for the novel, that you can see on my website!

Here, I researched at the British Museum, the Petrie Museum, through Victorian books on Egypt borrowed from the London Library and I got help on hieroglyphs from a wonderful Egyptologist who I met on a day’s study course.

  What are you currently working on?

I set out to write three Victorian novels. The Painted Bridge was the first, The Sacred River is the second and I am now writing the third. The Blue Room is set in rural England in the 1850s and is the story of a woman sold by her father into a travelling show, in which she appears as a ghost. We sometimes wonder if a person can become a ghost but this story is about whether a ghost can become a person.

I’m also writing features related to The Sacred River and – for the first time for years – some short stories.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?  

 My advice would be that if you want to write – then write. Try not to get discouraged, or let other people’s opinions influence you too much. Keep going and don’t expect first drafts to be as good as later ones can be. Get into the habit of reading your work aloud to yourself; often, you can hear what is bogus or clumsy more easily than you can see it on the page. It goes without saying that reading is the great teacher. I think that different writers have different issues to deal with but persistence can probably tackle many of them. I too am an aspiring writer, despite having published four books. We all want to bring the prose more vividly to life, move deeper into character and story, create a more unique and convincing world, arrive more convincingly at our own idiosyncratic truths. Otherwise why write.

What do you like to do outside of writing?

I like being with friends, seeing my family, pottering in the garden. I really enjoy hearing great writers talk about their process, which is something you can do in London. Recently, I’ve seen Hilary Mantel, Richard Ford, Rose Tremain.. I also quite like doing nothing much – staring out of the window or standing at the sink or walking in the woods near my house. Ideas can float up when you relax like that.

Thanks Wendy!
You can find out more about Wendy on her website: http://wendywallace.co.uk/