Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye with Rebecca Mascull @RebeccaMascull @HQStories #review of #MissMarley

I am absolutely delighted to be sharing my review for Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye and Rebecca Mascull. I was over the moon to be sent a copy by Joe Thomas HQ Stories. A wonderful cover for a wonderful book.

Synopsis:

Before A Christmas Carol there was… Miss Marley

A seasonal tale of kindness and goodwill

Orphans Clara and Jacob Marley live by their wits, scavenging for scraps in the poorest alleyways of London, in the shadow of the workhouse. Every night, Jake promises his little sister ‘tomorrow will be better’ and when the chance to escape poverty comes their way, he seizes it despite the terrible price.

And so Jacob Marley is set on a path that leads to his infamous partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge. As Jacob builds a fortress of wealth to keep the world out, only Clara can warn him of the hideous fate that awaits him if he refuses to let love and kindness into his heart…

In Miss Marley, Vanessa Lafaye weaves a spellbinding Dickensian tale of ghosts, goodwill, and hope – a perfect prequel to A Christmas Carol.

My Thoughts:

Have you ever wondered about Jacob Marley, how he became the ghost in A Christmas Carol? What did he do in life to deserve such a penance? I always have. So when the chance to read Miss Marley came along I jumped at it. Set as a prequel to A Christmas Carol, the author has invented a sister for Jacob, Miss Clara Belle Marley. Jacob’s story is told from her perspective.

As a reader I have always associated Christmas with Dickens, A Christmas Carol is one of those books that is synonymous with the festive season and has been the basis for many offshoots in the form of film, musical, and theatre. Miss Marley is a welcome addition and is the perfect book to accompany the Dickens classic. Dickens has some mighty big footsteps and I was a little wary as to how this book would fair. I have to say here and now it faired very well indeed and it complimented those footsteps completely for me.

From the outset I was transported and completely immersed into Dickensian London, slums, rough neighbourhoods, dank sewer lined streets and the notorious poverty. This was here I was introduced to two youngsters, Jacob and Clara. I followed them as they struggled to find food to eat, a roof and warmth to keep themselves healthy and safe. The story tells of a chance event that was to provide the start of a new life. A life that would see them rise from the gutters and to meet Ebenezer Scrooge. 

There are a few references to A Christmas Carol and these were perfect for setting the scene, the feel and introducing characters that follow in Dickens book. By the time I had finished reading Miss Marley, I found my reading appetite definitely whetted and was eager to continue into the book we all know.

You may notice that there are two authors mentioned for this book, I wasn’t really aware of this until I got to the end and read the afterword. The first author is Vanessa Lafaye, she wrote the vast majority of this book. Unfortunately, she lost her battle with cancer before it’s completion. Rebecca Mascull then took on the role of finishing the final few chapters. The friendship, discussions and the love these two authors shared for Dickens really does show and I had no idea where one author left off and the other picked up. It wasn’t until I read the afterword that I discovered this revelation. It was a seamless transition between the two and an ending that I believe Vanessa would approve of (in my opinion). 

This is a novella that is an absolute must-read not only for fans of Dickens and A Christmas Carol but also for those that have not turned the pages of a Dickens before. It would be the perfect introduction to the style and feel of this great author. Everything about this book was absolutely perfect and spot on and it will be one that I will read again for the festive season years to come. This book gets an absolutely highly recommended from me.

About the Authors:

Vanessa Lafaye was born in Florida and studied in North Carolina. She moved to the UK in 1999 (having been deported once). She is the author of two previous novels, her first book Summertime, was chosen for Richard and Judy in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Historical Writers Award. Vanessa passed away in February 2018.

Rebecca Mascull is the author of three historical novels and also writes saga fiction under the pen-name Mollie Walton. Visit her websites for more information: https://molliewalton.co.uk/ & https://rebeccamascull.co.uk/

She is currently hard at work on her next trilogy of historical fiction, with the first novel slated for publication in spring 2019 to be published by Bonnier Zaffre as The Ironbridge Saga. These will be published under the name of Mollie Walton and the first book in the series is set in the dangerous world of the iron industry: THE DAUGHTERS OF IRONBRIDGE.
Her first novel THE VISITORS (2014) tells the story of Adeliza Golding, a deaf-blind child living on her father’s hop farm in Victorian Kent. Her second novel SONG OF THE SEA MAID (2015) is set in the C18th and concerns an orphan girl who becomes a scientist and makes a remarkable discovery. Her third novel, THE WILD AIR (2017) is about a shy Edwardian girl who learns to fly and becomes a celebrated aviatrix but the shadow of war is looming. All are published by Hodder & Stoughton.

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Tilbury Talks To… Yvonne Bastian

Author Mark Tilbury very kindly let me chat about my love of books over on his blog today. He posed some very intriguing questions and I hope that you find my answers interesting.

Reblogged from – Source: Tilbury Talks To… Yvonne Bastian

Tangled Vines by Megan Mayfair @mayfairmegan @rararesources #BookReview

I am delighted to be sharing my review today for Tangled Vines by Megan Mayfair as part of the Blog Tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. May huge thanks to Rachel for the invite and to Megan for my e-copy of her book.

Synopsis:

Amelia O’Sullivan is a photographer who has always viewed herself through the wrong lens. When her marriage publicly crashed around her, she flees to the safety of her aunt’s country property to pick up the pieces. Can she adjust her focus to what she really wants from her life? 

Born into a wealthy and powerful family, Frederick Doyle may seem like a man who has it all, but behind the scenes, a bitter business feud threatens an irrevocable family split. As he fights for control of the winery he’d built from the ground up, he finds a supportive ally in Amelia and becomes increasingly beguiled by her creative spirit. 

Jill McMahon is a successful novelist suffering from writer’s block over her latest manuscript. Finding her niece, Amelia, at her door, reminds her of the bonds of family, but in seeing Amelia andFrederick’s relationship grow, a long-forgotten and painful secret threatens tore-surface. 

Can Amelia, Frederick, and Jill untangle themselves from their pasts or will history simply repeat itself? 

PurchaseLink  – Here

My Thoughts:

I usually start a my thoughts with a bit of my own synopsis, but this time I am not as I would pretty much duplicate what it says so I will go straight into what I thought.

This is set in Australia and is a wonderful read that captured my attention from the outset and held right the way through until the end. The story is about three key characters and how they know or come to know each other. It is a story about their lives, their worries, their loves, and losses. Decisions that need to be made for their own individual future need to be made and they all seem to have come to a crossroads in their lives and they have to decide what, who and where their possible and potential happiness lies. The story is about finding an inner strength and confidence in making their decisions to move towards starting the next chapter in their lives and, it is not going to be plain sailing. Important decisions are not easily made.

Even thought there are some heartbreaking revelations, the author has not dwelt too much on them. The story has a pacing that keeps the story moving forward as I followed the characters on their uncertain futures while still dealing with ongoing grief and worries. 

There are various friends, family and colleagues that accompany the main characters and they each have their part to play in the story. I soon worked out who I liked and didn’t and I am sure you will have similar views.

As I mentioned earlier, the past has a part in this story and it plays out very well, and the author dealt with some aspects very well, one in particular was the anxiety that one of the characters has to deal with, for me this was a key trait of this character and it gave an insight into the reactions, emotions and also the personality of said character.

This is a story I really enjoyed, I found myself wondering as to how things would pan out as nothing was clear cut. Nothing was guaranteed to follow a certain pattern and this added a good deal of  subtle dramatic suspense. This is a romance that is not overly romantic which sounds a really odd thing to say. What I mean is that there is a romantic thread, but it is also about family, life, experiences, disappointments and new beginnings as I followed three people dealing with major decisions that could have implications for their futures and goals.

A story that would appeal to romance and also general fiction readers and is one I would definitely recommend.

About the Author:

Megan’sstories are about families, intrigue and love. Every book contains a bit of humour and a lot of heart.

Megan lives in Melbourne with her husband and three children and has a background in public relations and higher education.

She drinks far too much coffee and has an addiction to buying scarves. She interviews with other authors for her blog series, Espresso Tales, and loves a bit of #bookstagram.

Her debut novel, The Things We Leave Unsaid, was released by Crooked Cat Books in 2018. Tangled Vines is her second novel.

Social Media Links – Instagram – Facebook – Twitter – Website


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The Uninvited by J.A. Baker @thewriterjude @Bloodhoundbook #BookReview

Today I am delighted to be sharing my review for The Uninvited by J.A. Baker as part of the Blog Blitz with Bloodhound Books. My huge thanks to Emma for the invite and also the author for my copy of this book.

Synopsis:

A fragile woman. An unwelcome intruder. A house full of secrets.

Faye and her husband Hugh have had a traumatic year. Wanting to start again, the couple decides to buy a large rundown property, Cross House in a village in NorthYorkshire, hoping to leave the past behind them.

However, the tranquillity is soon ruined when Faye begins to awake, every night, to the sound of somebody creeping around the bedroom. She tries to explain it to Hugh, frightened for the safety of their children Aiden and Poppy, but Hugh dismisses her claims, thinking she is heading for another breakdown.

But when Faye discovers some diaries that contain secrets about the family that lived in the house before them, she starts to wonder if the intruder might be closer to home than she first thought.

Obsessed with finding answers, Faye is determined to learn about the Wentworth family, a fractured family with a tragic past.

And when she discovers that Hilary Wentworth fell to her death down the stairs in CrossHouse, Faye realises she is in mortal danger…

To purchase :- Amazon UK

My Thoughts:

Faye and Mark, with their children Aiden and Poppy, move into an old, rundown house called Cross House. They have moved here because of past troubles, with a hope that a new house will give them the much needed new start they need. Faye is looking for a place to heal herself emotionally and mentally after being stalked and harassed and wishes to live a normal happy life with the past well and truly behind her.

With a setting of an old and unloved house that has been abandoned and neglected, this story had all the right vibes, and then there is the name of the property… Cross House… It is not long before a nervous Faye starts to hear and feel things, something she is reluctant to share with her husband given her past track record. It is understandable that she would be wary of broaching him given her previous experiences. She herself wonders if she is paranoid and second guesses herself at times, but there are things that cannot be overlooked. When things come to a head it is her husband that that tells her she needs to talk to someone about it, yep… the good old supportive husband and his delusional wife routine… Oh, but how the tables are turned and it was a real pleasure to see him experience things as well. Yes, I admit to taking great delight in this role reversal, maybe it is a bit of a mean streak in me, but I liked the way the author gave a balance and also a sort of support to Faye with this turn of events as things get a little spookier.

There are quite a few snippets and bits of information about other characters and their stories and this is one of those books that I felt that the house itself was a key character. Various revelations come to light that are woven together to provide a story that gave me a sense of chills and suspense in an atmospheric and slightly sinister spooky way.

I really enjoyed the descriptions of the property and its gardens and the author made it very easy to visualise aspects from the descriptions given. I do have to admit that as much as I would love to get my hands on the house and bring it back to its full potential, I would be too much of a scaredy-cat to even step foot in it.

Gradually things are teased out and the links and connections are made, it tells a tale of its past inhabitants. A really good hauntingly atmospheric story with a lot of suspense and mystery, One I would recommend.

About The Author:

J.A.BAKER was born and brought up in North East England and has had a love of language for as long as she can remember.

She has a love of local history and genealogy and enjoys reading many genres of books but is an addict of psychological thrillers.

In December 2016 she was signed by BloodhoundBooks who published Undercurrent. 
Her second novel, Her Dark Retreat was published in October 2017 and The Other Mother was published in December 2017. Her fourth novel, Finding Eva was published in August 2018

J.A. Baker has four grown up children and one grandchild. She lives in a village near the river with her husband and madcap dog and when not working part time in a primary school, she spends her days trying to think up new and inventive ways of murdering people.

She can be reached on any of the links below and loves hearing from readers.

Twitter – Facebook – Website


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Christmas at Black Cherry Retreat by Angela Britnell @angelabritnell @rararesources #BookReview

 

I am delighted to be sharing my review today for Christmas at Black Cherry Retreat by Angela Britnell as part of the Blog Tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. My thanks to Rachel for the invite and to Angela for my e-copy of the book.

Synopsis:

What if you had nowhere to call home for Christmas? 
When Fee Winter books a winter break at the remote Black Cherry Retreat in the small town of Pine Ridge, Tennessee, it’s with the idea that the peace and quiet will help her recuperate from her hectic life as a photographer.

But what she didn’t bank on was meeting TomChambers and his huge, interfering yet lovable family. With them, could Feefinally experience the warmth and support that’s been missing from her own life– and maybe even find a place to call home in time for Christmas?

Purchase Links:  Amazon UK –  Amazon US

My Thoughts:

When things get really tough in Fee’s life her Doctor advises taking time out. Fee is a photographer and has witnessed human life at it’s worse and documenting the evidence has taken it’s toll. Under the advice she finds herself in Tennessee at the town of Pine Ridge and the remore Black Cherry Retreat. A collection of cabins owned and run by Tom. There are sparks aplenty, but is it enough to help Fee?

The contrasts between Fee and Tom are extreme, to say the least as far as their lifestyle choices are concerned. Fee a nomadic photographer, she has sporadic relations with her mum. Tom has a huge family, and when I say huge I mean it and now happy to remain at home. They do however have one thing in common, well actually two things. One is the tragic loss they have suffered and the other is that they are lonely.

Their loss have left a huge gaping void in them that leaves scared, scarred and nervous. The story gradually took me through the turmoils they have both experienced and I gradually got to know the characters a bit better as I learnt more. They gradually start to open up to each other, and I was never 100% sure if they could put their past lives and hurts behind them.

Tom’s family…Wow! they are fabulous and they did kind of steal the lime light at times with their family gatherings and impromptu visits and advice. It added a huge amount of warmth, caring and love to the story that was aside from the two main characters.

The setting… well what to say apart from it would be this bookworms idea of perfect, it is isolated and remote, no wifi or phone signal, stunning sounding scenery… Oh yeah and Tom 🙂

This is a festive romance that deals with difficult pasts, hard to accept presents and hopeful futures. This is an ideal wintery afternoon read by a fire or under a blanket and is one I would recommend.

About the Author:

Angela grew up in Cornwall, England and returns frequently from her new home in Nashville, Tennessee. A lifelong love of reading turned into a passion for writing contemporary romance and her novels are usually set in the many places she’s visited or lived on her extensive travels. After more than three decades of marriage to her American husband, she’s a huge fan of transatlantic romance and always makes sure her characters get their own happy-ever-after. Over the last twelve years, she’s been multi-published and sold over 25 novels. She also writes short stories for women’s magazines. She is a member of the RomanticNovelists’ Association, the Romance Writers of America and the Music CityRomance Writers.

Follow Angela 0n: Facebook – Twitter – Website – Instagram

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Galaxy Girl by Bev Smith @BevSmith612 @rararesources #BookReview #Giveaway (UK only)

Today I have my review of Galaxy Girl by Bev Smith to share with you all. My thanks to Rachel at Rachels Random Resources for the invite and to Bev for my e-copy of the book.

Synopsis:

You hate school. Your family is beyond annoying. Your only friend comes from a different planet, and she’s about to leave.

What’s a girl to do?

Fed up with life on Earth, Esme stows away on the spaceship taking Stella back to Planet Kratos.

So begins Esme’s adventure into a world beyond the stars. A world of strange creatures, thrilling journeys, heroic rescues, and instant fame.

Oh, and school. Lots of school.

Along the way, she discovers that friends may be greener on the other side, but they still can’t be trusted.

Millions and billions of light years away from earth, she sets in motion a plan to escape. Unfortunately for her, they aren’t about to let their prize exhibit leave anytime soon…

Purchase Links  Amazon UK  – Amazon US

My Thoughts:

When Esme has the chance to run away with her new alien friend Stella, it isn’t your usual pack your bags and thumb a lift type of runaway plan. Instead she hops onto a spaceship that takes her to a different galaxy and to the planet of Kratos.

Esme feels she is being ignored by her mum, and that her brother and sister get more attention than she does and no-one at school seems to like her much either. This is a story with feelings that a few children will be able to associate with as they grow up. Deciding her life would be better spent elsewhere, she decides to make the most of this offer of a journey. It is a journey that is the proverbial “the grass is greener on the otherside”.

There are various things I liked about this story and at times I felt there were aspects that reminded me of Roald Dahl, the names of teachers is definitely something that would appeal to younger readers. The way the shop names on Kratos were altered made me scratch my head a couple of times until the penny dropped. There are tentative steps into global warming and saving animals from extinction I thought these had been incorporated into the story well. 

Essentially the story of Esma is one of how she feels in her role within her family and also with people around her. As we know the grass is rarely greener on the other side, Esme needs to discover this for herself and experience other things. The story is told through Esma’s blog, updates of her new life, memories of her old life, realisations, and thoughts are all included and each entry is signed off in her unique style.

This is a story that has humour, heart, and morals and comes across very well. A story I think would appeal to younger readers and one I would recommend.

About the Author:

Bev Smith has been a secondary schoolteacher, saleswoman, waitress, wages clerk, youth worker, and holiday park entertainments manager. She has scuba dived the Barrier Reef, lived in a village in Namibia, worked for a charity in Thailand, flown over Victoria Falls and paddled in the sea at Bournemouth. 
Having single-parented her three daughters, she’s been ferociously playing catch up with this writing lark.  She recently completed a Masters in Writing for Children at Winchester University. #galaxygirl is her debut middle-grade book.  
SocialMedia Links – Twitter – Facebook

**Giveaway**

Giveaway –Win 2 x #galaxygirl Mugs and a signed copy of #galaxygirl (UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the theRafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random viaRafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organizer and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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