Category Archives: Hardbacks

Scratching in the Dark | The Silent Companions | A Review

Happy 2018 all!

So my first blog post of the year is a review, who’d have thunk?

The Silent Companions was probably one of my favourite books I read this year (2017), and I have my work colleague to thank!

Blurb

When newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge, what greets her is far from the life of wealth and privilege she was expecting . . .

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure–a silent companion–that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition–that is, until she notices the figure’s eyes following her.

A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, this is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect–much like the silent companions themselves.

So first off, the cover is pretty amazing and creepy at the same time. It’s a wonderfully designed cover with gold ‘swirls’ and then you have a peep-hole, in which you see an eye – how creepy! It works so well and after reading the book you will totally see why!

I read this book in pretty much one sitting, except when I had to go do boring adult stuff – it happens! I could not put the book down! It was scary and always had me on the edge of my seat, especially when the darkness came and noises were heard throughout the big house. It’s one of those books that you don’t really want to read before bed.

I loved the way the story interacted with the past and jumped from one time to another, forever looping within three times. The distant past, the main characters past events and the current time. All interlinks and I found it was easy to follow and flowed seamlessly throughout the book.

It’s one of those books that you gush about to your work colleagues, friends, family, twitter people and I can’t wait to see what Laura does next!

As always, let me know in the comments below if you’ve read the book and if you haven’t, I seriously think you should! Add it to your TBR and enjoy the spooks!

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It’s Christmas!!! | Favourite Book(s) I read this year

Happy 1st December guys! It’s the first day of advent and there’s pretty much 25 days until Christmas.

Looking at my Goodreads, I’ve read nearly 100 books this year – 100! These have been from Netgalley, proofs, books I’ve bought or had a little while on my shelves.

Now I can’t put all these books on my list and there’s a few books which came out this year that I haven’t read yet so they won’t be included in this list (sorry!)

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  • The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Okay, so I was recommended this book at work and I was super excited to read it! Note: do not read this book late at night! It’s eerily good and a hauntingly good read (get it), a great ghost story/mystery for those that like that kind of thing. Or if you’re new to that, like me, then this book is a great stop in spooky reads!

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  • The Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

A recent read for me, I was gifted this book for Christmas 2016 and have only just read it. Oops! I loved watching Poirot as a kid and am excited to read Agatha Christies classics, but this is a nice addition to the Poirot universe. It’s also out in paperback so you have the choice, do note that this is the second Sophie Hannah book featuring Poirot.

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  • The Dry by Jane Harper

I really, really, really enjoyed reading this book this year and took part in the book blog tour earlier this year. It’s also now out in paperback so again, you have the choice. If you love a good crime/mystery read then you’ll enjoy this. My review of the book can be found here.

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  • Court of Lions by Jane Johnson

I read this book for a book blog tour and thoroughly enjoyed it. The cover and visual aspects of the book is beautiful and the story is wonderfully told, moving through both past and present before the two stories collide. This book definitely made me want to put Morrocco on my to visit list.

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  • The Futures by Anna Pitoniak

Another hardback I enjoyed this year. Based on two lovers who have just left university and making their way in the world, both heading in different directions. This book really gave me something to think about and just goes to show that not everybody gets what they want and life doesn’t always turn out how we planned.

As mentioned above, I’ve read a fair few books this year but these are the ones that have stuck out for me.

Let me know in the comments below what your favourite read was of this year and which you’d recommend? And will you be adding any of my chosen reads to your TBR? Do let me know below.

Neighbours in the Cotswolds | The Country Set | Blog Tour

Happy mid-week all!

I have a pretty busy few days coming up so I’m taking the time to eat soup, sleep in and read – ah perfect!

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Head of Zeus published, The Country Set by Fiona Walker.

A whopping 800+ pages, probably the biggest book I’ve ever read, this book follows the lives of a few in the Cotswolds and how they interact.

Blurb

Love affairs, village rivalries, horses, jealousy and secrets – fans of Fiona Walker’s bestselling Hugo and Tash novels will relish this return to her classic territory with a whole new cast of Cotswold village characters.

Compton Magna and Nether Bagot sit high on the Fosse Hills to either side of the Gloucestershire/Warwickshire border, just half a mile apart. They form the backdrop to this rich story of old secrets and new rivalries, as glamorous Ronnie Ledwell returns to take up the reins of her father’s horse breeding stud farm, years after she scandalised family and friends by eloping with her lover, abandoning both husband and children. News of her return will well and truly set the cat among the pigeons.

As the blurb mentions, the book is full of love, hate, gossiping neighbours and, of course, horses. It’s a rather wonderful read for autumn, and the descriptions of the countryside are just gorgeous! Perfect for city dwellers!

The characters are well built and you are thrown into the story straight away. There are various different stories surrounding each character and they all interweave throughout the book. Lending to a sense of community.

I found that at times, I really disliked some characters (*cough* Pip *cough*) but then towards the end I could forgive her and the story continued in a pleasing way.

Although this book is very much, horse-centered, this book can be read by anyone. Although it would be a good idea to pace yourself – 800 pages is a long read!

A wonderful, autumny, cover and colourful characters, this book makes for a pleasing read.

Be sure to follow along with the rest of the blog tour on Twitter and grab the book at local bookstores or Amazon.

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What If… | False Lights | Blog Tour

Hi guys!

There’s a sudden influx of posts today so there will be a lot to read. First off though, I’m taking part in a book blog tour with Head of Zeus publishers for the new book False Lights by K. J. Whittaker.

Blurb

Wellington is in secret captivity in the Scilly Isles and the Cornish are threatening to join forces with France against the English. Against this tumultuous backdrop, Hester Harewood manages to escape from the French soldiers who have killed her black sea captain father. Her rescuer – Jack ‘Crow’ Crowlas – takes her to shelter with his aristocratic family in London.

But soon they are embroiled in a web of treachery and espionage, as plans are laid to free Wellington and lead an uprising against the French occupation. Meanwhile, Crow’s younger brother throws in his lot with the Cornish rebels and threatens to bring Hester and Crow’s elaborate plans crashing down, as this spellbinding story builds towards its violent and gripping endgame. 

First off, the cover of this book is gorgeous! I was lucky enough to receive a hardback copy of this book (you should all know by now how much I love a pretty hardback!), so it fits perfectly on my bookshelf! The blues and silvers of the cover seem to perfectly reflect the sea surrounding the Scilly Isles, or at least that’s what springs to mind when I look at it.

Now onto the story.

Upon reading the blurb, I really liked the sound of the story. The idea of History doing a 180 and what would happen if it did, it certainly made for an interesting read.

We have wars, murder, rebellion, slavery, PTSD, bravery and love, all scrambled into this one hell of a ride for both characters and readers.

All the characters are wonderful, obviously we have our good and bad guys and of course, you’ll want the good guys to succeed and win the day – readers will follow the story with baited breath to see what will happen next, as we cross over to various characters and their stories.

The ending is rather wonderful, where the good guys are in a pretty awesome position (that’s all I’m going to say) and readers who love a happy ending will of course, be pleased.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to those that love History and are interested in what would happen if History changed at all – it certainly makes for an interesting read!

The False Light Book Blog tour continues tomorrow, so be sure to follow along on twitter and check out posts from others on the tour.

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Short, Simple, Sweet | Love, Her, Wild: Poetry Collection | A Review

Happy Sunday guys! I hope you’re enjoying the summer!

As you can probably tell, but it’s a tad quite here on the blog, that’s mainly because it’s summer and things are a little hectic here – so do forgive me!

Today I’m reviewing Love, Her, Wild by instagram sensation, Atticus.

Blurb

Love Her Wild is a collection of new and beloved poems from Atticus, the young writer who has captured the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of avid followers on his Instagram account @atticuspoetry, including superstars like Karlie Kloss and Shay Mitchell. He was dubbed the “#1 poet to follow” by Teen Vogue and “the world’s most tattoo-able” poet by Galore magazine, in Love Her Wild, Atticus captures what is both raw and relatable about the smallest and the grandest moments in life: the first glimpse of a new love in Paris; skinny dipping on a summer’s night; the irrepressible exuberance of the female spirit; or drinking whiskey in the desert watching the rising sun.

With honesty, poignancy, and romantic flair, Atticus distills the most exhilarating highs and the heartbreaking lows of life and love into a few perfectly evocative lines, ensuring that his words will become etched in your mind—and will awaken your sense of adventure.

So I’m going to write straight away that poetry isn’t really my thing. I’ve read poetry for years, studying English Language and Literature all the way up to degree level, focusing on the classics and ‘well-known’ and ‘well-loved’ poets. Not going to lie, but I grew to loath it.

That is until I realised that poetry doesn’t have to be long, drawn out and can be shorty and snappy, perfect to read before you go to bed.

I realise that other, short poetry is being written, but I follow Atticus’ instagram page and was already in-tune with his poetry. I was also given a wonderful proof hardback of the book.

I loved how art is woven so perfectly into the book, the way the poems are set out, with different fonts and the way the poems were set out, I also really liked the way photography and the dark contrast of black and white is used.

I couldn’t pick a favourite section (although do let me know if you do have a favourite), but I would recommend this to those that dislike poetry or fancy a change, those that hate English at school and wanted something quick to read.

As always, let me know in the comments below if you’ve read the book and what you thought of it, and if you haven’t, do let me know if you’ll be adding this to your TBR!

 

Court of Lions Blog Tour | Q & A with the author – Jane Johnson

Hi guys! Today is day 2 of the Court of Lions book blog tour – be sure to follow along on Twitter if you’re not already!

Jane Johnson Colour JPEG 2About the Author

Jane Johnson is from Cornwall and has worked in the book industry for over 20 years, as a bookseller, publisher and writer. She is responsible for the publishing of many major authors, including George RR Martin.

In 2005 she was in Morocco researching the story of a distant family member who was abducted from a Cornish church in 1625 by Barbary pirates and sold into slavery in North Africa, when a near-fatal climbing incident caused her to rethink her future. She returned home, gave up her office job in London, and moved to Morocco. She married her own ‘Berber pirate’ and now they split their time between Cornwall and a village in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. She still works, remotely, as Fiction Publishing Director for HarperCollins.

 

I’m was lucky enough to send some questions to Jane Johnson for her to answer, so read on below for a rather awesome (and first for the blog!) Q and A.

  1. Were you a childhood bookworm? And if so, what were your favourite books?

I always had my head in a book, usually one involving adventure, and magic. All the Enid Blytons, Swallows and Amazons, Alan Garner (The Owl Service gave me nightmares, as my granny had a set of china just like it, and at the time – I must have been 7 and my mum in hospital giving birth to my sister – my ‘bedroom’ was in the attic space just above and looking down onto the kitchen, where I could see it: makes my spine shiver just thinking about it even now).

  1. What books or authors inspired you?

I think everything you read goes into the mix somehow. But as far as being inspired to write the sort of historical fiction I write – in which you are immersed in the historical period, and caught up in an adventure of the heart – I’d say Daphne DuMaurier’s Frenchman’s Creek and King’s General, Mary Renault’s Persian Boy, Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native, Mary Stewart’s Merlin books, and a whole lot of Jean Plaidy.

  1. You yourself work in publishing, has that affected the production of the book at all? (e.g. cover, blurb?)

No! I, like most authors, have no power at all over the way the books are produced. But a good publisher, and mine is wonderful, is inspired to ensure that the cover matches the contents. Given that the decorations in the Alhambra are so exquisite it was a tall order, but the finished book, with all its gorgeous detail and glittering gold, and it’s antique map and silk ribbon market, took my breath away.

  1. What inspired you to write Court of Lions?

I first visited the Moorish palaces of the Alhambra over twenty years ago and like everyone who walks beneath its graceful arches and gazes upon its serene pools and lacy, geometric stonework, fell under its spell. But it was one day in 2013 when the producer who was interested in making a film of The Sultan’s Wife told me that while moving one of the great doors in the Alhambra, restorers had come upon a scrap of paper hidden deep in the intricate latticework of the wood which appeared to be an ancient love letter. The movie deal sadly stalled but the story was a gift and got me thinking about how who might have written that letter, and why it was hidden away – had the writer lost the courage to give it to the one they loved, or had the recipient cached it for fear of discover? The past and present arc towards one another, and love is an eternal force: that gave me the structure for the novel, with the modern story weaving in and out of the 15th century one.

  1. Court of Lions is set in southern Spain, but where is your favourite travel destination?

I have travelled a lot, and that’s quite a hard question to answer. I loved the bleak beauty of Iceland, and when I was touring with the Lord of the Rings movie production, I was blown away by the majestic scenery of New Zealand’s South Island. But I have to say that Morocco has to be the most amazing place I’ve ever been: it combines ancient and modern so effortlessly and yet in such striking extremes. At the same moment as you’re watching an old woman threshing wheat by hand you’ve got high speed internet access. The food is magnificent, the people so hospitable, the landscape is whatever you want it to be – from desert dunes, to high mountains, to rugged coastlines, and the bazaars make your head spin. It’s the most ‘foreign’ place I’d ever been, and yet it’s only a 3-hour flight away.

  1. Do you have any writing or editing rituals?

I can’t really afford to have rituals around either because I’m juggling a busy job (Publishing Director at HarperCollins) with having a life and writing, so it tends to get squeezed into odd corners. Ideally, I write wherever the book is set – I finished Court of Lions in a hotel from which, sitting on the tiny balcony at night, I could smell the jasmine and roses drifting over the wall from the Alhambra gardens. I trekked through the Sahara for three weeks when writing The Salt Road, and there’s still desert sand in my notebooks!

  1. Where do you like to write? (e.g. outside, office?)

I like to write outdoors – it’s good for the body and soul, frees your imagination and gives the opportunity of a rigorous second draft when you type it up. And there’s some good scientific evidence for it being good for you, and your writing. I wrote a blog on the subject recently:

https://www.janejohnsonbooks.com/2017/05/ditch-the-laptop-and-go-outside/

  1. Have you ever gotten writer’s block, and if so, how did you beat it?

I’m not sure I believe in writer’s block. Every novelist meets obstacles and knots in the fiction they’re writing – it’s a normal part of the process – but you have to work through them. My favourite method for solving a problem is literally to sleep on it. Go to bed thinking hard about the issue the characters are faced with, or the structural conundrum and a good seven times out of ten when you wake up your unconscious mind will have untangled it for you. There are, though, times in life when you simply don’t feel like writing, when you’re too stressed or too tired: I went through some months of that recently when my mother was ill and sadly died, and during that time I just couldn’t seem to focus on the fiction at all. But I think that’s entirely natural: all things in their own time.

  1. Would you say Kate is like you at all?

No, not much! I’ve never been someone who runs from my problems in life: I tend to face them head-on and won’t rest until I sort them out. She is, I think, more fragile than me, but then I did put her through a lot. I do share her love of beautiful architecture, gardens, food and men, though…

  1. If you could time travel and meet a great leader, who would it be and why?

Tough question! I’d love to have a chance to watch Elizabeth I in action, but particularly to be an invisible presence at the end of her day, to see how much of her strength was bravura and show. Not that it matters: bravura and show are part and parcel of being a great leader. I’d like to switch genders and race – to be an Arabic-speaking man – to go back in time to witness the great Syrian leader Saladin, in the time of the crusades, so demonised in all the Christian texts, yet so lauded as a chivalrous knight in other sources. People are never just black or white: it would be fascinating to have a chance to weigh up those shades of grey.

Thank you Jane for your wonderful answers to my questions and taking the time to answer them.

 

Court of Lions is released today in hardback and can be ordered from Amazon, Head of Zeus website and bookshops. Read the blurb below and be sure to add it to your TBR, the cover is gorgeous!

Blurb

Sometimes at the lowest points in your life, fate will slip you a gift. Ken Follett meets Jodi Picoult in a stunning new novel from Jane Johnson.

Kate Fordham, escaping terrible trauma, has fled to the beautiful sunlit city of Granada, the ancient capital of the Moors in Spain, where she is scraping by with an unfulfilling job in a busy bar. One day in the glorious gardens of the Alhambra, once home to Sultan Abu Abdullah Mohammed, also known as Boabdil, Kate finds a scrap of paper hidden in one of the ancient walls. Upon it, in strange symbols, has been inscribed a message from another age. It has lain undiscovered since before the Fall of Granada in 1492, when the city was surrendered to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Born of love, in a time of danger and desperation, the fragment will be the catalyst that changes Kate’s life forever.

An epic saga of romance and redemption, Court of Lions brings one of the great hinge-points in human history to life, telling the stories of a modern woman and the last Moorish sultan of Granada, as they both move towards their cataclysmic destinies.

Be sure to follow along with the Court of Lions blog tour on Twitter and keep up to date with Jane’s work.

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Note: My review for this book will be up later on this month.

There’s a war brewing | The Gender Games | A Review

Good evening book readers and web browsers, today I’m here to review The Gender Games that came out on the 1st of this month and written by the wonderful, Juno Dawson.

Blurb

Why we are all being messed up by gender, and what we can do about it.

‘It’s a boy!’ or ‘It’s a girl!’ are the first words almost all of us hear when we enter the world. Before our names, before we have likes and dislikes – before we, or anyone else, has any idea who we are. And two years ago, as Juno Dawson went to tell her mother she was (and actually, always had been) a woman, she started to realise just how wrong we’ve been getting it.

Gender isn’t just screwing over trans people, it’s messing with everyone. From little girls who think they can’t be doctors to teenagers who come to expect street harassment. From exclusionist feminists to ‘alt-right’ young men. From men who can’t cry to the women who think they shouldn’t. As her body gets in line with her mind, Juno tells not only her own story, but the story of everyone who is shaped by society’s expectations of gender – and what we can do about it.

Featuring insights from well-known gender, feminist and trans activists including Rebecca Root, Laura Bates, Gemma Cairney, Anthony Anaxagorou, Hannah Witton, Alaska Thunderfuck and many more, The Gender Games is a frank, witty and powerful manifesto for a world where what’s in your head is more important than what’s between your legs.

So as mentioned above, this book is about Gender. Or the war about Gender that is. And Juno basically argues that it affects EVERYONE, it’s neither a male or female thing here, we’re all in this war together.

I loved the writing style and the ‘aka’ after each chapter heading – I found them really quite funny to read.

In all seriousness though, although Juno sprinkles humour all over the book, what she is on about is actually pretty hard-core. We’re talking about something which could cause a bit of an up-rise – oops!

Juno involves a few friends and experts in her books, adding other point of views from both men and women and those in the LGBQT community and add what they think about Gender and society’s view on the whole thing.

This book is a hell of a good read and is something which I urge EVERYONE to read. It’ll open your eyes, especially when walking around shops and what your friends children are wearing/playing with (it’s not weird, but have you noticed how most girls wear pink?!)

Would recommend this book to everyone, I spent many of my evenings reading this book, reading exerts to friends and family about things which caught my eye or made me gasp (aka the divide!) and so I think everyone could and should read this!

As always, let me know if you’ve already read this book and what you thought about it, and if you haven’t you probably should add it to your TBR pretty soonish!