The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page @LibbyPAgeWrites @orionbooks #CompulsiveReaders @Tr4cyF3nt0n #24HourCafe #BookReview

I am delighted to share my review for The 24 Hour Cafe by Libby Page. I am joining with Tracy at Compulsive Readers as part of the Blog Tour. I read it way back in November and I can now finally share my thoughts…

Let me show you what this book is all about…

Welcome to the café that never sleeps. Day and night Stella’s Café opens its doors for the lonely and the lost, the morning people and the night owls. It is many things to many people but most of all it is a place where life can wait at the door. A place of small kindnesses. A place where anyone can be whoever they want, where everyone is always welcome.

Meet Hannah and Mona: best friends, waitresses, dreamers. They work at Stella’s but they dream of more, of leaving the café behind and making their own way in life.

Come inside and spend twenty-four hours at Stella’s Café; a day when Hannah and Mona’s friendship will be tested, when the community will come together and when lives will be changed…

I read this book over a couple of sittings and found it such a relaxing book. This book is about the people who visit or work in the 24-hour cafe called Stella’s. It is told in 24 chapters as the clock marks each hour.

There are two main characters, Mona and Hannah. They are friends and also work as waitresses in Stella’s, each works a 12-hour shift and so I got to see the customers that they met of their shift. I really liked how the book was laid out because not only did I get to read about each of the main customers for each hour of the story, I also got details into the lives of Hannah and Mona.

Their backgrounds are told through a series of memories and go through their backstories up until they work at the cafe. It delves into their hopes, dreams, disappointments and frustrations. I did really like both of these characters and their stories. As I said there is a focus on a customer for each hour. Now, this is what I really liked because it was like people watching from the perspective of either Mona or Hannah, and also you get the story from the customer themselves. For me, this worked really well and though it is only a snapshot into a persons life, it is very representative of the cafe life.

So with the customers’ stories, this is almost like a story of short stories that intersperse the main story of Mona and Hannah. Their stories come across as more like short stories as they are not told in chunks instead they are interrupted as customers take priority.

This is a slower read and I liked the quietness of the story, there is drama and emotion throughout the story, it is not overwhelming, it is more subtle than that. The whole book was just one of those books that you can quite happily lose yourself in as I did over two sittings.

A lovely read that I thoroughly enjoyed and was a delight to read. The 24-Hour Cafe is a book I would definitely recommend.

Libby Page wrote The Lido while working in marketing and moonlighting as a writer. The Lido has sold in over twenty territories around the world and film rights have been sold to Catalyst Global Media. Libby lives in London where she enjoys finding pockets of community within the city. Follow Libby on Twitter

See what other Book Bloggers think by checking out their stops on this Tour…

The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright by Beth Miller @drbethmiller @bookouture @sarahhardy681 #BookReview

I am delighted to be sharing my review for The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright by Beth Miller. My huge thanks to Sarah for the invite for this Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of this heartwarming and fabulous family saga book.

Before I get to carried away here, let me show you what it is all about…

Sometimes it takes losing something to see where you truly belong.

For the past twenty-nine years, Kay Bright’s days have had a familiar rhythm: she works in her husband’s stationery shop hoping to finally sell the legendary gold pen, cooks for her family, tries to remember to practice yoga, and every other month she writes to her best friend, Ursula. Kay could set her calendar by their letters: her heart lifts when the blue airmail envelope, addressed in Ursula’s slanting handwriting, falls gently onto the mat.

But now Ursula has stopped writing and everything is a little bit worse.

Ursula is the only one who knows Kay’s deepest secret, something that happened decades ago that could tear Kay’s life apart today. She has always been the person Kay relies on.

Worried, Kay gets out her shoebox of Ursula’s letters and as she reads, her unease starts to grow. And then at ten o’clock in the morning, Kay walks out of her yellow front door with just a rucksack, leaving her wedding ring on the table…

This emotional and heart-warming novel is for anyone who knows it’s never too late to look for happiness. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineA Man Called Ove and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will fall in love with this feel-good and moving story that shows you that the best friendships truly last forever.

With a wonderful sounding synopsis, how could I not want to read this book…

Life is unpredictable and you never know what is round the corner. Plans made as a teenager with lists of things you would like to do before a certain age are not guaranteed. Years go by and before you know it you are older, children have left home and you find yourself looking back at your life. This is what happened to Kay Bright. Stuck in a rut and feeling unappreciated.

This is a story that has elements that will resonate with many people, how quickly time passes. Kay feels that she has spent most of her life supporting her husband, he owns and runs four stationary shops leaving Kay doing the main bulk of the parenting, household management and also spending time working in one of the shops. Because they are business owners holidays have been quick or cut short.

Feeling unhappy and wishing for more Kay decides she is leaving, she wants to travel and needs her own space to work out what she wants out of life. Walking out of her 29 year marriage causes more ripples than she had originally bargained for, there are tears, anger and frustrations.

Keeping in touch with her friends has been part of Kay’s life, one of her friends lives a long way away and it was through letters that they kept in touch. The letters are included in this story and fill in gaps and gives Kay the incentive to visit her friend who has mysteriously stopped writing.

I think what makes this books so special is the way you see various perspectives, not just from Kay but also from her daughter Stella. It shows the emotions that are part of a breakup and also as part of your parents breaking up. It is not all straight forward and there are some eye-opening moments and some quite emotional ones as well. I did have a few watery eye moments with this book.

I enjoyed the flow of this story and if I didn’t have to go to work I would have easily sat and read this book in one sitting. It is a story of life, growing up and getting older. A story of family, friendship, truths and forgiveness, it has the feel of a family saga and is a truly wonderful book that I would definitely recommend.

I have been told that I write like a tall blonde, so that’s how I’d like you to picture me.

I’ve published three novels, with one more about to be born, in January 2020. I’ve also published two non-fiction books. I work as a book coach and creative writing tutor.

Before writing books, I did a lot of different jobs. I worked in schools, shops, offices, hospitals, students’ unions, basements, from home, in my car, and up a tree. OK, not up a tree. I’ve been a sexual health trainer, a journalist, a psychology lecturer, a PhD student, a lousy alcohol counsellor, and an inept audio-typist. I sold pens, bread, and condoms. Not in the same shop. I taught parents how to tell if their teenagers are taking drugs (clue: they act like teenagers), and taught teenagers how to put on condoms (clue: there won’t really be a cucumber). I taught rabbis how to tell if their teenagers are druggedly putting condoms on cucumbers.

Throughout this, I always wrote, and always drank a lot of tea. I’m now pretty much unbeatable at drinking tea.  

Social Media Links:  TwitterWebsiteAmazon

Buy Links: AmazonKoboApple BooksGoogle Play:  https://bit.ly/2ZLpiGH

See what other Book Bloggers think by checking out their stops on the Blog Tour…

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

#TopReads – Books that I have loved this year (2019) by genre – (Part 1) Crime, Thriller, Mystery & Fiction Books #MeAndMyBooks

Now I know we still have another week to go before the actual end of the year, but I always do my Top Reads list before Christmas so I can maybe tempt anyone with a final Christmas present purchase, or for those who are lucky – to help you spend your Christmas book vouchers 😁I am listing my favourite reads by genre and the books are all the books I have chosen are ones I have read this year.

I have read 220 books at the time of writing this post so that means the books I have loved this year is vast. Because I have read for as long as I can remember, it means I have got very good at knowing the sort of books I like and think I will enjoy. This doesn’t mean I only stick with what I know, I do experiment and try new genres and styles.

Many books cross genres, I am going to list them by the genre that works for me 😁

Crime, Thriller, Mystery

Fiction

Come back tomorrow (Dec 22nd) to see my favourite book in Romance, Rom-Com & Historical fiction.

On the 23rd December I will be sharing my Top Reads in Fantasy, Distopia, Young Readers and Non-Fiction.

With all these amazing books I wonder which ones will make My Top 10 on Christmas Eve. I have picked 10 books that are special for many reasons. Then I do have one, yes One! Book that will take the Top Spot of – “My #1 Read of the Year!” Okay, I just made that up 🙂

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Unlocked by Soulla Christodoulou @schristodoulou2 @Bookreview

I am delighted to share my thoughts on Unlocked by Soulla Christodoulou, this is a beautiful short story that given it’s short length has so much to it.

I would like to thank Soulla for sending me an Advanced Reader Copy of Unlocked and to also like to add…

Happy Publication Day Soulla 💞

Let me show you what it is all about…

Helen, wallowing in pain and shunning the world and everyone around her, happens across an inspirational quote in her local store after leaving the house for the first time in weeks. Instantly, its message awakens something within her and she books a flight to a country she has always wanted to go.

In India the sounds, sights and colours of this spiritual place, evoke a new awareness within her and the promise of release from the agony of her husband’s infidelity. An impromptu encounter and an invitation to a local wedding open up an unexpected path and a flood of long-forgotten feelings.

Purchase link – Amazon UK

Helen has isolated herself after the breakdown of her marriage. Let herself go and become a recluse. A simple quote awakens something inside of her and she books a ticket to India.

Helen’s journey to India is a chance to be free of her self imposed confines. Her journey is not just a physical one, but one the heart, soul and mind.

The author has created such a captivating short story that is beautifully written. Within this short format there is a sense of hope and of starting to imagine a life being lived.

The author uses a few cultural references and at the end of the story these are explained in a little more detail. There is some wonderful vivid imagery that the author has carefully and superbly incorporated.

After I had finished Unlocked I had a wonderful sense of Helen being at peace. Also a little sad that it had finished, this is a story that I could have happily read in a longer format. The story is a tranquil and heartwarming read and I adored it and would definitely recommend it.

This is a beautiful story that has a perfectly matching and beautiful cover.

Born in London to Greek Cypriot parents Soulla Christodoulou spent much of her childhood living carefree days full of family, school and friends. She was the first in her family to go to university and studied BA Hotel & Catering Management at Portsmouth University. Years later, after having a family of her own she studied again at Middlesex University and has a PGCE in Business Studies and an MA in Education.

Soulla is a Women’s Fiction author and wrote her first novel Broken Pieces of Tomorrow over a few months while working full time in secondary education and is a mother of three boys.

She is a compassionate and empathetic supporter of young people. Her passion for teaching continues through private tuition of English Language and Children’s Creative Writing Classes.

Her writing has also connected her with a charity in California which she is very much involved in as a contributor of handwritten letters every month to support and give hope to women diagnosed with breast cancer. One of her letters will be featured in a book ‘Dear Friend’ out in September 2017.

When asked, she will tell you she has always, somewhere on a subconscious level, wanted to write and her life’s experiences both personal and professional have played a huge part in bringing her to where she was always meant to be; writing books and drinking lots of cinnamon and clove tea!

She also has a poetry collection, Sunshine after Rain, published on Amazon and is releasing her second novel, The Summer Will Come in Autumn/Winter 2017.

Follow Soulla on Twitter Website

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be fabulous 🙂 xx

Guest by SJ Bradley @BradleyBooks @MorecambeVice @BOTBSPublicity #MorcambeVice #BOTBSPublicity #BookReview #QandA

Today I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my Blog. I do hope you are sitting comfortable because the post today is a bit of a long one! Not only have I got a review for Guest by SJ Bradley, she also kindly answered some of my questions.

I am taking part in this Blog Tour to read and review Guest and also to help with a shout out and to the Morcambe & Vice Crime Writing Festival. Before I get into share my review and also the fab Q&A with the author let me share some things about the festival…

It started in 2016 and is held at the Morecambe Winter Gardens and is described as ” weekend ‘full of warmth, wit and wisdom’, authors, speakers and guests from across the globe flocked to the sunny seaside for a weekend filled with criminal shenanigans.” This year it is being held on Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th of September. All details about the attending Authors, booking tickets and the program of events can be found on WEBSITE TWITTER FACEBOOK


Now let me share the synopsis for Guest by SJ Bradley

Samhain is a young, angry and bewildered squatter living in an abandoned hotel in the North of England. One day he receives a message: his father – a man he never knew – was an undercover policeman infiltrating the Green movement in the 80s. What’s more, he finds out that he too is now a father.

Sam leaves for Europe, pursuing freedom and fleeing his responsibilities: but finds it impossible to escape. Guest is a story of disillusionment, protest, and eventually, redemption.

This is the story of Samhain as he reaches a crisis point in his life. Yes he is an adult but he needs to be an adult. He needs to learn that his actions have consequences and that peoples feeling are important. He needs to learn to take on responsibilities instead of ignoring them or running away.

In someways Samhain is immature and he has never really got to grips with taking a more responsible role. He has lived in squats and with his band has done music gigs around Europe. He has a more carefree lifestyle and while this does suit him, things from his past are now coming to light.

The author has done a fabulous job creating Samhain. She has used her own experiences to create a story that I suppose you would call a coming of age style for Samhain. Using her own knowledge gives a much better insight into his lifestyle and the things he experiences as he walks through life.

This book is more in the literary fiction style and the author has a really lovely way of writing. There are lots of beautiful lines that at times border on the poetic side. This gain is another thing I really like and it makes for a lovely read.

The story is in someways simple but beautifully told. It is about a young man who has reached a crossroads in his life. It is slower in pace and this works very well with the style the author writes.

I really enjoyed this and I would recommend it to readers who like literary fiction, coming of age, and dilemma elements to their reads.


Now you have seen the synopsis and read my thoughts on the book. So it is time for the Author Interrogation ahem… Q&A Section of my post today…

When you originally had the idea for this book did the story go as planned or did it take it’s own path?

Luckily, it largely went as planned. Before I started, the characters and their stories were so well-formed in my head, that everything just sort of fell into place as I went along. Samhain, his best mate Frankie, their long-suffering pal Marta, and Samhain’s ex, were all so familiar to me that I found I knew exactly how they’d behave in given situations, and how they’d help each other… or not! Above anything else, it was clear to me that everyone, even his ex-girlfriends, had a lot of affection for Samhain, despite his many failings. 

Did any of your own interests or experiences show up in the story?

At one point in the book, Samhain and Frankie go off on tour with their band around Europe in the back of a splitter van. They play gigs in squats, in crappy bars, and sleep on people’s floors, and sometimes Samhain wakes up wondering where he is. When I was younger, I had some of the same experiences. A friend and I had a band, and we mainly toured in the UK, setting our own gigs up, playing gigs in flats and squats and bars, and sleeping on people’s floors and on one memorable occasion, on a coffee table (don’t ask.) Playing a tour like that is so much fun, especially when you’re young, because you never know what you’re going to get. We did a few gigs where we literally played to six people: the sound guy and the people in the other bands, but there’d be other nights where we’d play to a hundred or more people, and it would be amazing. One night we played this gig in a village hall in the middle of nowhere, and hundreds of school age teenagers showed up. This was in the days when it was still fairly easy for kids to get hold of booze. Imagine a hundred pissed-up teenagers singing and doing a conga around the village hall, then later forming a human pyramid that almost touches the ceiling. Another time, we played a gig in somebody’s flat. The host of that gig worked in a fancy dress shop, so he had access to glitter cannons, which he set off at the end of the gig. I dread to think how long they had to spend hoovering the next day. 

The drawbacks of DIY touring are the tiredness and the long drives. I’ve been on tours where you had to pack the van a certain way to get the doors closed, and only one person really knows how to do it, and I’ve also been in situations where I’ve left my towel or something else important behind, and haven’t been able to go back and get it. When you’re in a strange place and in a rush to get out, because you need to drive hours to the next gig, and you’ve usually got loads of stuff to take – the instruments and leads and everything that you need, and all of your personal stuff as well, your sleeping bag and washbag or whatever else you’ve got – it’s a bit too easy to forget something in the rush out of the door, as Samhain does at one point in the book. 

All of that stuff was from my own experience. The stuff about squatting, and activism – that was from spending a lot of time in DIY social spaces and around the fringes of green activism and anticapitalist activism in my 20s. I wasn’t much of a hardcore activist myself. When I started to write the book, there wasn’t a ton of stuff written about undercover policing, apart from Paul Lewis’ excellent book “Undercover.” More stuff has started to come out now in the public enquiry, and there’s a lot of information on the Police Spies Out of Lives website, too. 

What’s interesting to me, anyway, is that most of the police infiltration was done to nonviolent environmental activists and groups. These were groups who were doing the work of Extinction Rebellion 20 and 30 years ago, long before Extinction Rebellion existed. Now, of course, we’re seeing huge protests and increasing public support in favour of the same sorts of ideas – getting carbon neutral, stopping the rise in global temperatures, stopping fossil fuels, more use of renewable energy sources. Those ideas seem to have become much more mainstream and urgent, probably because we’re seeing the effects of what environmental activists were talking about all those years ago.  

What are you working on at the moment and what are you planning for the future?

I’m writing a novel set in an outsourced prison in the Nottinghamshire border, and I have tentative plans to write a horror novella, too. I’m poking away at a few short stories as well. Short stories are how I started out, and I love writing and reading them. I don’t know when any of them will be published. I also have vague future plans to try and find an agent, too. 

A few fun questions because I am nosy… What do you do when you are not writing?

Writing is a thing that takes up a lot of my free time! However, when I’m not writing, I’m organising the North’s only dedicated short story festival, The Northern Short Story Festival (www.bigbookend.co.uk/nssf) and a DIY writers’ social night called Fictions of Every Kind. Being busy is kind of my ‘thing’, but I do try and take a bit of time off every now and again. I’ll go and watch films, hang out with the cat, or go on rambles with my husband. 

Do you have a favourite reading spot?

The place I read most often is probably on the sofa at home, but I like reading in the library too. I save short stories to my phone and read those whenever I’ve got a minute. For me the key thing is to always have something to read, no matter where I am!

If I could wave a magic wand, what would you wish for? It can be anything, otherwise what would be the point of a magic wand!!

Can I have three?

Well why not, Aladdin had three wished from the genie in the lamp!

My first wish is for less inequality. There’s too much poverty in the UK. At one end of the scale you’ve got billionaires owning houses in London that they don’t even live in, because they have homes elsewhere, and at the other, you’ve got people with disabilities being mistreated by the benefits system, and people using food banks. Nobody should be having to struggle for a basic standard of living. People can’t even afford their rent. They’re choosing which bill to pay every month. Nobody in this country should be having to live like that. So that would be my first wish, end poverty and inequality. 

My second wish, and this probably doesn’t sound very exciting, is for there to be more buses and trains. In my wish these buses and trains always run on time, and they make it easy to get where you’re going. They run all night, so you can always get home safely, and the carriages and seats are always clean. Every journey, no matter where you go, only costs £1. Let’s throw in a free cup of tea, too. A free cup of tea and a friendly dog to pet. Luxury! 

My third wish is obviously for everybody to either buy my book, or check it out of the library, and to think it’s wonderful, and to tell all their friends about it… 

Thank you so much SJ, I love your answers and I completely agree with your buses wish. Less inequality would have such an impact on so many peoples lives who are at the lower end of the income bracket.

Your answer to what experiences you have brought to the book is amazing, now I have read the book I can see how your DIY Gigging helped with the story. I do hope other people buy or borrow your book as I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wish you all the best with The Northern Short Story Festival and I hope you have a fabulous time at Morcombe & Vice xx

SJ Bradley is a writer from Leeds, UK, whose short fiction has been published in the US and UK, including by Comma Press. She is a K Blundell Trust Award winner, a Saboteur Award winner for her work on Remembering Oluwale, and was shortlisted for the Willesden Herald Prize.

Her first novel, Brick Mother, was published in 2014 by Dead Ink Books, and was shortlisted for the Gladstone Writers in Residence award and her newest novel, Guest, was published in 2017 by Dead Ink Books.

She is fiction editor at Strix Magazine, has held residencies at West Yorkshire Playhouse, First Story and Alton Towers (Liminal Residency) and is director of the Northern Short Story Festival.

You can find SJ on her WEBSITE TWITTER

Check out all the other Book Bloggers, Authors and Organisers that are taking part in the tour...

Wow! Well done for getting through this very long post today 😊I loved putting this together and also for those wonderful answers to my questions. I would love to attend this festival and I will be stalking keeping my eye on Twitter and Facebook for photo’s of the event.

Many thanks for reading my post, any likes or shares are always appreciated 🙂 😘

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christine Lefteri #20booksofsummer #BookReview

I am delighted to be sharing my review for The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christine Lefteri. I have decided to include this one in the # 20 Book of Summer reading challange, this makes numer 5 of 20.

Let us have a look and see what it is all about…

In the midst of war, he found love
In the midst of darkness, he found courage
In the midst of tragedy, he found hope

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

What will you find from his story?

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees. 

As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.

Moving, powerful, compassionate and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. Told with deceptive simplicity, it is the kind of book that reminds us of the power of storytelling.

The synopsis does a great job of explaining what this story is all about. The story of a man and his wife escaping their war-ravaged home in Aleppo, Syria and their journey to Britain as asylum seekers.

Nuri and Afra had a wonderful life, him a beekeeper and her an artist. The tensions in Syria gradually get closer to their home and they decide to leave, not an easy decision to make but one that becomes necessary if they are to survive.

The story flits back and forth telling of their lives in Aleppo and their journey to the UK. A hard journey that has no guarantee of survival or that when they arrive that they will be allowed to stay. Nuri and Afra are luckier than some as they have funds and can pay for certain things that are denied others. Some will start their journey and get no further than some of the refugee camps, some will die on the way, some will never leave their homes.

This is a heartbreaking read at times as I read about various people that Nuri and Afra meet along their journey. This is where the author uses her experiences of helping in refugee camps to help with her story. She has spoken to people in the camps, listened to their stories and created a novel that has some of its roots based in fact.

There is a great deal of emotion with this book, from anger at the way people are treated to compassion at the way people will help. It is heartbreaking as well as the story that the author has crafted around Nuri and Afra is slowly revealed.

I cannot imagine having to take such a journey that is so full of uncertainty but also necessity and for that I count myself very lucky. This is a beautifully written story that I simply could not put down. I had to know what happened to Nuri and Afra and also learn more of these interesting characters.

It is a story that I would absolutely recommend.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

The Dollmaker by Nina Allan @QuercusBooks #TheDollmaker #NetGalley #review

Today I am sharing my review for The Dollmaker by Nina Allan. My thanks to Quercus Books for accepting my request to review this title via NetGally.

Let’s have a look and see what this one is all about …

Stitch by perfect stitch, Andrew Garvie makes exquisite dolls in the finest antique style. Like him, they are diminutive but graceful, unique, and with surprising depths. Perhaps that’s why he answers the enigmatic personal ad in his collector’s magazine.

Letter by letter, Bramber Winters reveals more of her strange, sheltered life in an institution on Bodmin Moor, and the terrible events that put her there as a child. Andrew knows what it is to be trapped, and as they knit closer together, he weaves a curious plan to rescue her.

On his journey through the old towns of England, he reads the fairy tales of Ewa Chaplin–potent, eldritch stories which, like her lifelike dolls, pluck at the edges of reality and thread their way into his mind. When Andrew and Bramber meet at last, they will have a choice–to break free and, unlike their dolls, come to life.

A love story of two very real, unusual people, The Dollmaker is also a novel rich with wonders: Andrew’s quest and Bramber’s letters unspool around the dark fables that give our familiar world an uncanny edge. It is this touch of magic that, like the blink of a doll’s eyes, tricks our own.

The synopsis tells quite clearly what this story is about. This is a story with other stories woven into them. A story about Andrew and Bramber, and their correspondence with each other. They have a shared interest in dolls, not just any dolls either. These are sought after items, they have a history and at times a price tag. Andrew decides he wants to visit Bramber and so takes a journey, during which he reads a story book. It’s by Ewa Chaplin, she also made dolls.

This is a slower paced story that felt a little erratic at the beginning. It took me a good while before I got to grips with the characters, their stories, the alternating timelines and the style. Gradually I found myself drawn into the story and the stories. It was one of those books where I suddenly found myself somewhat caught up and hadn’t realised it had happened. I think a lot was to do with curiosity and to see where the story would take me. The short stories that Andrew reads during his journey are at times on the dark, or very dark side, they are like twisted fairy tales. There are things that mirror Andrew’s life.

I enjoyed this book and I have a feeling that it is not going to be for everyone. At times it has the feel of literary fiction, with a mix of fairy tale and fantasy. There is subtle romance aspect to it though not one that follows the usual route or expectation.

It’s one of those books that I think will divide readers, for me, there are parts I really enjoyed and others not so much. It has an unusual structure to it and it will be interesting to see what other readers think of this one.

Nina Allan is a novelist and critic. Her first novel The Race won the Grand Prix de L’imaginaire and was a Kitschies finalist. Her second novel The Rift won the British Science Fiction Award, the Kitschies Red Tentacle and was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Her short fiction has previously been shortlisted for the Hugo Award, the Shirley Jackson Award and the British Fantasy Award. Her most recent novel is The Dollmaker. Born in London, Nina Allan lives and works in the west of Scotland.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be great 🙂 xx

My Week In Books w/e 11th March #BookNews

Well here we are again! The weeks just seem to fly by I did have a day away from reading one day this week. I have been reading some quite heavy books just recently and taking a day off to watch films was just the thing I needed. So I decided to pick a couple of lighter reads and the two books I chose were absolutely perfect for lifting my spirits. So lets have a look at the books I have been reading shall we…

Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop by Rebecca Raisin was absolutely brilliant. You can read my review HERE. This is about Rosie making the most brilliant drunk purchase…A Pink Camper Van!!!! I loved this book a lot as I was taken on a journey around festivals, met Rosie’s new friends and it was a absolute delight to read.


Next up was a book that I saw Rachel Gilbey pop on Facebook. It had been released on NetGalley and I have seen so many great things about it that I immediately requested it. I have to say that whoever was on the Approving Button that day was amazing, within seconds of requesting I had been accepted. I downloaded and read this book immediately…

Amazing Grace by Kim Nash. Oh My Goodness… my poor emotions went through the wringer with this book, laughing, crying and anger in a book that absolutely adored from the the very first page to the last. There are some very poignant scenes in this… Oh I could go on and on about this book so I am not saying anymore. You really do NEED TO READ THIS…


Next is a book that had fallen into the “older than 3 months” category on my NetGalley shelf, as I write this I am so pleased that this is the final book in that category, but I now there are a couple that are getting close to filling that gap.

The Dollmaker by Nina Allan. This book took me a while to get going with, it is a stories within a story book. At times it is dark and has a twisted fairy-tale feel to it, other times it is a gentle wandering amble of a read. It is one that I would say falls into Literary Fiction and I have a feeling this is not going to be for everyone, it is however, one that I gradually warmed to as I read further and found myself unable to put down.


My final read this week is for an upcoming Blog Tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. My full review for this will be on my stop tomorrow (12.03.19)

Fox Halt Farm by Celia Moore. Well this had a dramatic start, I admit it took me a while to get going with this one but once I found myself getting used to the timelines and characters I found myself enjoying the story a lot. Look out for my review on Friday and check out the Blog Tour to see what other Book Bloggers think.


Well that’s it for another week.

Happy Reading

The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon @orionbooks #NetGalley #review

I have followed this series from the very first book The Shadow of the Wind that was first published in 2001. The series is best read in order, but the author has stated that they can be read in any order, this final book does, however, wrap all the previous ones together.

I would like to thank Orion Publishing Group for accepting my request to review this book via NetGalley. As always my opinions are very much my own.

The Shadow of the Wind

The Angel’s Game

The Prisoner of Heaven

The Labyrinth of Spirits.

So let’s see what The Labyrinth of the Spirits is all about…

The long-awaited new novel from the author of the global bestseller and modern classic, The Shadow of the Wind.

As a child, Daniel Sempere discovered among the passageways of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books an extraordinary novel that would change the course of his life. Now a young man in the Barcelona of the late 1950s, Daniel runs the Sempere & Sons bookshop and enjoys a seemingly fulfilling life with his loving wife and son. Yet the mystery surrounding the death of his mother continues to plague his soul despite the moving efforts of his wife Bea and his faithful friend Fermín to save him.

Just when Daniel believes he is close to solving this enigma, a conspiracy more sinister than he could have imagined spreads its tentacles from the hellish regime. That is when Alicia Gris appears, a soul born out of the nightmare of the war. She is the one who will lead Daniel to the edge of the abyss and reveal the secret history of his family, although at a terrifying price.

The Labyrinth of the Spirits is an electrifying tale of passion, intrigue and adventure. Within its haunting pages Carlos Ruiz Zafón masterfully weaves together plots and subplots in an intricate and intensely imagined homage to books, the art of storytelling and that magical bridge between literature and our lives.

So this is the 4th book in The Cemetary of Forgotten Books series. It is an 800+ page book that I very easily found myself disappearing into. It pieces together the remaining pieces of past puzzles and wrapping them up.

This book has a darker feel to it than previous books, but it is a few years since I last read them. It didn’t take me long to remember certain characters and of course, remember how this author can wrap me up in his words.

Its roots are in Spain and I found myself once again drawn into the maze-like streets and atmosphere of Barcelona. An era of unrest and uncertainty as this is the time of Franco, Spanish Civil War, and nationalist airstrikes. The main characters are Daniel, the rather dramatic Fermin and our heroine Alicia Gris, there are many more other characters that have important roles to play but I will leave you to discover them yourself.

Alicia is trying to complete an assignment, at the end she hopes to be free of her role and start a new life. She is trying to discover the whereabouts of Mauricio Valls, not easy and definitely dangerous. In her investigations, she meets various other characters and the depth of the plot really does start to stand out.

The whereabouts of a mysterious author, Victor Mataix, the secrets of the Sempere family, the Cemetary of Forgotten Books, murder, kidnapping and a whole host of deception, tricks, and foul play are just the tip of the iceberg within the pages

The story itself is laid out in four interlocking stories that lead the reader through the labyrinth that is the story. Each section is intricately woven and leads from plot to plot. I found it easy to follow and though it has a great depth I found myself able to enjoy it a huge amount.

The thing about this book is the fact that it is essentially a multi-genre one. It has murder, mystery, history, suspense and thriller qualities. With everything going on in this book it may come across as being complex, but I found it flowed beautifully. With so many different plots and themes, I am really struggling to find the words to describe how amazing this book, in fact, the whole series has been. So I am going to break it down into basic words that immediately spring to mind when I think about this book…atmospheric, bewitching, heartbreaking, cryptic, dark, mysterious, complex, twisted, beautiful, historical, literary, fabulous, compelling, intriguing, and bloody brilliant…I think that sort of sums it up.

This is a book and a series I would absolutely highly recommend.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Image taken from the Author’s goodreads page.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a Spanish novelist. Born in Barcelona in 1964, he has lived in Los Ángeles, United States, since 1994, and works as a scriptwriter aside from writing novels.

His first novel, El príncipe de la niebla (The Prince of Mist, 1993), earned the Edebé literary prize for young adult fiction. He is also the author of three more young-adult novels, El palacio de la medianoche (1994), Las luces de septiembre (1995) and Marina (1999).

In 2001 he published the novel La sombra del viento (The Shadow of the Wind), his first ‘adult’ novel, which has sold millions of copies worldwide. Since its publication, La sombra del viento has garnered critical acclaim around the world and has won numerous international awards. Ruiz Zafón’s works have been published in more than 40 countries and have been translated into more than 30 languages. 

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

My Top Reads of 2018…finally

I know, I know, this is a little late but better late than never as they say..

Before I get into my top reads of last year I just want to share some of my Goodreads stats with you. My original Goodreads 2018 Challenge was to read 200 books, I read 222 and one manuscript that I am sworn to secrecy about at the moment…

I read 59,747 pages across 222 books

I am breaking this down into genres, that I would recommend and then right at the end if you are still reading I will do a TOP 3 Reads.

So first off Contemporary/General Fiction… Recommended Reads

These were stories that really touched my heart, for various and different reasons. They each had a special something about them.

Next up is… Crime and Thriller Reads

Crime is probably one of the genres I read most. There are several authors here that have released more than one book and I would happily list them as well. I have decided to limit myself to one author.

Nest genre is Fantasy/ Dystopia I have put these together for my convenience 🙂 …

Again these are very different and yet still fall into my category. They give a glimpse into a different reality and all are fabulous reads, some are part of a series while others are stand alone reads.

Historical (Fiction/Non-Fiction) is my next category…

I say Historical because the books I have chosen here is because they have either a historic setting or are based in myth and legend, historical culture if you like. They are a mix of fact and fiction or based on real life.

Finally, I have Romance, Chick Lit, Rom-Com… whichever term floats your boat. They all have a romance aspect to them.

These are stories that worked for various reasons, nothing in love ever goes according to plan and these stories really made for great reading.

Now then…

Are you still here?

Helloooooooo, anyone still reading?

Do you think I have missed any?

Are there any books that you think I should have included?

Well maybe they made it into my TOP 5…

Yes I know I originally said TOP 3…

But as I was writing this post up…

I found that I was wrong in thinking I could narrow it down to a Top 3…

What on earth was I thinking…

Okay to my Top 5 book s that I read last year…

Right then…

The eagle eyed readers will have noticed that I have listed only 4 books so far…

wait for it…

There was one book that absolutely made me have goosebumps on a very hot summers day as I read it…

It made my fingernails go twitchy…

I felt claustrophobic and I was sat outside while reading…

It was fabulous read…

Have you guessed what it is yet?

It’s one I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND if you have not yet read it

Okay here it is…

And…

It was a brilliant book…

I would love to know what you think of my picks.

I know that some of the genre grouping may look random to some, but for me they make sense. This has been such a hard post to write up as I could included so many more books than the…

just scrolls back to count how many books …

44… thats a nice number…oops

Hope you all have a great reading year and thank you all for sharing, posting and commenting on my posts. Hopefully 2019 Top Reads will actually be posted in 2019 🙂