The Potter’s House by Hannah Ellis @BooksEllis @Rararesources #romance #contemporaryfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Potter’s House by Hannah Ellis. This is the 4th book in this series and I adored this one as much as the previous ones. It is a series that is best read in order as you get to meet the characters as they arrive on the Isles of Scilly.

My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of this fabulous book.

The Potter’s House
Sometimes facing up to the past is the only way to create a better future…

Since the tragic death of his father, Lowen Treneary has kept to himself in his pottery studio on the remote island of Bryher.

His quiet life is just the way he likes it.

Until Pippa comes along.

The local café owner plunges his peaceful existence into chaos and brightens his days while she’s at it.

Soon, he has an employee livening up his workplace with her determination to make his studio more profitable… and a growing attraction to Pippa which he’s trying hard to ignore.

Just as he starts to warm to the idea of letting people into his life again, a crisis hits the island, causing old memories to crash to the surface.

Can the events of the present help to heal wounds from the past? And will Pippa still accept Lowen when she learns the secrets he’s been keeping from everyone around him?


Purchase Link – HERE

MY REVIEW

Back again on the Isles of Scilly with the Treneary family. This is the 4th book in the series and each book has focused on one of the siblings. This time it is the turn of Lowen. He has been a character in the books but keeps his distance, which has made him a little bit of an enigma and I couldn’t wait for the author to get to him.

Lowen lives on Bryher, runs a pottery and supplies pots to Pippa who runs the cafe on the main island.

Lowen’s story is a little different to the others in the family and I will let you discover for yourself what the author has to tell you. He is a bit of a grumpy recluse, this is very different to the friendly and almost overbearing siblings. He delivers his pottery to Pippa but there is always a comment or a sarcastic comment between them. Neither really knows why, but it takes the blunt force of Pippa’s niece, Mia, to get past his gruff exterior.

Mia is like a breath of fresh air for Pippa. She has just finished uni and taking the summer to work in the cafe to save money for a year of travelling. The thing is that there isn’t really much for Mia to do in the cafe, but she has her eyes set on a different place to work.

The author doesn’t give much away in the synopsis, but if you have read the series then you are aware of the grief that this family went through. It has left a sort of rift, and anger that seems to simmer. Even though the islands are a lovely and wonderful place they are dangerous, it is something that the Trenearys know all too well.

While the author focuses on one particular member of the family, she doesn’t forget to keep up to date with the goings on of the others that have already had their turn in the spotlight. This for me is an essential part of the book as the family bonds are shown in each book and show how the family work together.

This is another gorgeous story that gives the reader a chance to step away and visit the islands, a chance to wander around the Potters House and discover more about living and working on the Isles of Scilly.

This is one for those who love to read contemporary fiction and romance novels where family and friendships are strong. Another wonderful book in the series and one that I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hannah spent many years working in childcare before deciding she’d like to write books. When she’s not busy writing she likes to read, drink tea and eat chocolate. She also enjoys yoga and jogging.


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The Secret Keeper by Amanda James @amandajames61 @OneMoreChapter_ #NetGalley #contemporaryfiction #romance #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Secret Keeper by Amanda James. I didn’t realise that this was previously published as Summer In Tintagel, it is one of the authors’ earlier books and one that I had not read so I was delighted to read it. I am aware that some of the earlier titles are being republished by One More Chapter, a branch of Harper Collins. I did get an early copy of this book via NetGalley and I also have it on pre-order 🙂

Today also happens to be the publication day for The Secret Keeper and I would like to wish Mandy a very Happy Publication Day xx

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When journalist Rosa Fernley’s ailing gran, Jocelyn, passes on a long-held secret of her past in her dying days, Rosa embarks on a quest to Cornwall to find answers and resolution to free her grandmother from guilt and pain as she leaves this earth.

But in the wild, beautiful landscape of Tintagel, Rosa encounters something she could never imagine as the past comes to life and walks the beaches once more. Unravelling the truth of what happened to the man her grandmother once loved and left leads Rosa on an unexpected journey, one which unlocks not only her gran’s secrets but the secrets of who – and what – Rosa truly is…

This book was previously published as Summer in Tintagel

MY REVIEW

This author is one of my favourites and her latest offering is a mystery that reaches back to an earlier generation. This particular book has a mystery to it and also a supernatural vibe that works so well within the story and also the setting of Tintagel in Cornwall.

Tintagel is a place that is of legendary tales, mysticism and magic. The seat of King Arthur and a welcoming place for all. Although when Rosa first arrives she doesn’t make a great impression, a visitor who doesn’t understand the essence of what makes a place special and then dismisses it is always going to receive a slightly chilled welcome.

Rosa is on a bit of a mission for her elder Grandmother who had visited Cornwall when she was younger and it had left its impressing in more ways than one. It is her Grandmother that tells Rosa she must visit the area and discover what she needs to know about her Grans story and also make headway into her own story.

This tale starts with a young child, it then skips forward to a present-day setting and leads the reader through the area around Tintagel, the shops, the locals and the sights around. As much as Rosa wants to enjoy her time she is also aware of her Grans wishes an also that her Gran is coming towards the end of her time. Life and death are linked, and the link that the author has sued for her story is one that is full of heartbreak but also of something wonderful.

The story is one that deals with the past and the present and in doing so also leads to potential futures filled with optimism, hope and excitement. Unexpected revelations and meetings prove hard at times but others give the nudge that Rosa needs to continue her quest. I did mention romance is part of this story and this is something that the author has woven in wonderfully. Not straightforward but it gives a great sense of hope to the reader.

This is a gorgeous written story that encapsulated the mysticism of Cornwall and also gives the reader a wonderful glimpse into village life in Cornwall. I adored this story and it was one that I had to read from start to finish in one sitting. It is one for those who like contemporary fiction and romance story that brings secrets of the past to the forefront and it is a book I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amanda James/A.K. James has written since she was a child, and as an eight-year-old, she asked her parents for a typewriter for Christmas. She never imagined her words would ever be published however. Then in 2010, after many twists and turns, the dream of becoming a writer came true when she had her first short story published for a Born Free anthology. She left teaching in 2013 to pursue her dream full-time.

Originally from Sheffield, Amanda now lives in Cornwall and is inspired every day by the wild and beautiful coastline near her home. She loves writing uplifting books with a twist of magic, as she thinks the world needs more joy in it right now. Amanda can usually be found playing on the beach with her family, or walking the cliff paths planning her next book.

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Our Man in Kuwait by Louise Burfitt-Dons @LouiseBurfDons @RandomTTours #suspense #historicalfiction #spythriller #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Our Man in Kuwait by Louise Burfitt-Dons. This is a historical fiction story set in the 1960s and is one I really enjoyed.

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for arranging my copy of the book for the Blog Tour.

A colonial-era thriller set against the background of big power conflict. The ultimate timepiece tinderbox of sun, sex and spies.

Kuwait 1960. With Soviet backing Iraq plans to invade.

Gordon Carlisle lives in the expat community of Ahmadi with little to worry about other than when to next don his dinner jacket.

Following contact by an MI6 agent everything changes.

Even marriage to his beautiful new wife Anita breaks down as he becomes a suspect in a chain of deaths in the Protectorate.

Ian Fleming’s time in Kuwait is recorded at first hand as Britain prepares to meet the Iraqi forces head on with Operation Vantage.

MY REVIEW

This is a book that is a little bit of a slow burner but one that slowly crept up on me. I did struggle a little in the beginning but once I got to know the characters I began to feel more effortless with the book. While it started as a slow burner it definitely picked up pace as the story unfolded, and, what an intriguing story it was!

This is set in 1960 in Kuwait, I am mostly aware of the recent history of this area, but I didn’t know much about it from the 60s, just a little before my time. The author has woven an interesting mix of fact with fiction to give a convincing and extremely twisted account of the roles of spies, governments, double agents and foreign powers in the region. It is focused on Gordon Carlisle.

Gordon is a bit of a non-descript man as such, goes to work, has friends, is married to Anita and carries on with his life in the Ahmadi ex-pat community. Talk between friends about potential problems in Kuwait, if the British government will send in troops and if those living there will have to flee.

With rumour running rife it doesn’t take much for suspicions to escalate. This means that one act can be seen as something more sinister. When the finger points in the direction of Gordon, he above all is surprised. In a world of espionage nothing and no one is completely innocent… are they?

I really enjoyed the weaving and intrigue the author built up around her characters. I did kind of like Gordon and I did feel for him as he did seem to be the innocent party. It is however that old saying of “there’s no smoke without fire” or that he surely must have known something. This constant state of suspicion makes everyone look guilty.

While the author told of Gordon, his friends, work and the politics of the area there is something else working in the background. This makes the story addictive and it did keep my interest. With mentions of anthrax, bombs, kidnapping and questioning by the police, there is enough of a tense atmosphere to create a dangerous scenario.

I liked this one and I did like the slower pace in the beginning as there are quite a few characters to get to know and also some history of the region and its main players. An enjoyable story and one that I would happily recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This book is a work of fiction but inspired by real events. Louise Burfitt-Dons was born and brought up in Kuwait during the threat of invasion by Iraq in 1960 and 1961. Her father Ian Byres was the Preventative Health Officer for the Kuwait Oil Company based in Ahmadi. At the end of 1960 Ian Fleming visited Kuwait to write a book. Louise is the author of the bestselling Karen Andersen Thriller series. Our Man in Kuwait is a stand alone novel.

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Brave New World by Aldous Huxley #classicfiction #dystopian #scifi #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for an old classic. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley was written in 1931 and published in 1932. A book that I have wanted to read for years but actually managed to pick up and read at the beginning of December last Year.

Brave New World is a dystopian novel by English author Aldous Huxley, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State, inhabited by genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to make a dystopian society which is challenged by only a single individual: the story’s protagonist.

MY REVIEW

This is a book that I have been wanting to read for years but never got to it. I finally decided to give it a go. I was only aware of the basics of this book and I hadn’t read any other reviews about it.

What I discovered is quite a bizarre story that became quite addictive. It does have a strong literary fiction feel to it. At times the writing is poetic, at others disjointed and overall a story that gradually got under my skin.

The world that Huxley has created is one where people are expected to be happy, they are brainwashed into feeling this. There is no mother, father or in fact any type of family connection. Each person has been produced in a test tube and altered at a genetic level to become what is required for Huxley’s world to function. There is a layered social system where people are born to be what they are engineered to be, so someone with a lowly job will be content with that job. They don’t aspire to be anything more than what they are supposed to be.

Creating this world, the author then throws an anomaly in the system, this is something that shows that even with the use of technology there will be a time when nature intervenes, or it may be a simple human mistake. Either way, this is where the characters that start to question the system have a more important role.

In the second half of the book, there is a move from the system to that of the outside world, this is more what we know today. Parents, relationships and unique traits and characteristics. This for me is where the story then takes an even more addictive turn. The comparisons built up between those in the system and those out of it are great. By the end of the book, I found I was very interested in some of the characters. The ending, well that was a shock!

This is a fabulous book to read, and I did struggle to find the flow at the beginning. I did read it in two sittings. The first sitting was a bit wobbly and at 33% I decided to have a break, this turned out to be a great time to pause and then come back to it the following night. I then found myself unable to put this book down and finished it.

This is a book that has loads of reviews, has loads of opinions and there are probably theories and it will have been analysed in every aspect. I read for the pleasure of it, so for me, this book was one that intrigued me. It did feel disjointed, to begin with, but it grew on me. I enjoyed this and I am very glad that I have read this book.

For a book that was written in 1931 and published in 1932, it has some brilliant imagination and foresight into a possible future. A world where people are engineered to fit into a hierarchical society. It is a very good book and it is one I would happily recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This most prominent member of the famous Huxley family of England spent part of his life from 1937 in Los Angeles in the United States until his death. Best known for his novels and wide-ranging output of essays, he also published short stories, poetry, travel writing, and film stories and scripts. Through novels and essays, Huxley functioned as an examiner and sometimes critic of social mores, norms and ideals. Spiritual subjects, such as parapsychology and philosophical mysticism, interested Huxley, a humanist, towards the end of his life. People widely acknowledged him as one of the pre-eminent intellectuals of his time before the end of his life.

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My Week In Books (w/e 8th Jan 2023) #bookupdates #booklove #MeAndMyBooks

Hello and welcome to my weekly update of books I have read. This year I have decided to reduce the number of books I read on the Goodreads Challenge to 150 for the year this is because I am doing an NVQ course for work so I won’t have quite as much time to read for pleasure.

The weather is a bit hit-and-miss, raining one moment sunny and the next a deluge. I have no idea what is growing in the garden as it has been far too wet to want to venture down there.

Here are the books I have read this week…

Out For Revenge by Tony Bassett – this is the 4th book in this series, and yes it is also the first one I have read! This was a really good book set in the Birmingham and Midlands area. A mix of crime thriller, police procedural and gangland crime. Great storyline and characters and my full review will be part of the upcoming Blog Tour.

The Hidden Secrets of Bumblebee Cottage by Christie Barlow – this is the 10th book in the series and I have read and loved every one of them. If you have read any of the previous books then you will know what a fabulous series this is. In this latest book, there is a newcomer to the village and the story that has been woven is another corker of a read. Full review to follow.

Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor – this is an amazing read and one that really took me by surprise. It is a mix of crime thriller and also of gangs, but then it is also a story of family, loyalty, growing up and the future. This is a book that I adored so much and it is one that has left an impression of living and growing up in India in different circumstances. Full review to follow.

There we go, 3 books read so far this year, with a 4th that I will probably finish tonight.

I do have quite a few reviews to get published so I am hoping to get caught up with them over the never couple of weeks or so.

Take Care and Happy Reading,

Yvonne xx

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So Pretty by Ronnie Turner @Ronnie_Turner #SoPretty @RandomTTours @OrendaBooks #thriller #psychological #mystery #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for So Pretty by Ronnie Turner. I read this book before Christmas and adored its eerie atmosphere. This book also became one of my Top Reads of 2022! Also, I really have to mention the cover of this book 😱 it is insanely appropriate!

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of this amazing book from Orenda Books.

The arrival of a young man in a small town sparks, hoping to leave his past behind him, but everything changes when he takes a job in a peculiar old shop, and meets a lonely single mother… A hypnotic gothic thriller and a mesmerising study of identity and obsession.

When Teddy Colne arrives in the small town of Rye, he believes he will be able to settle down and leave his past behind him. Little does he know that fear blisters through the streets like a fever. The locals tell him to stay away from an establishment known only as Berry & Vincent, that those who rub too closely to its proprietor risk a bad end.

Despite their warnings, Teddy is desperate to understand why Rye has come to fear this one man and to see what really hides behind the doors of his shop.

Ada moved to Rye with her young son to escape a damaged childhood and years of never fitting in, but she’s lonely and ostracised by the community. Ada is ripe for affection and friendship, and everyone knows it.

As old secrets bleed out into this town, so too will a mystery about a family who vanished fifty years earlier, and a community living on a knife edge.

Teddy looks for answers, thinking he is safe, but some truths are better left undisturbed, and his past will find him here, just as it has always found him before. And before long, it will find Ada too.

MY REVIEW

Oh My Goodness!!! What an amazing book this was. The author started with one thing then it gradually morphed into something so much darker than I ever expected, all in a very, very good way I must add.

This story is about two people and the chapters alternate between the two of them. Ada is a single mother and lives in Rye, never quite fitting into this small and clique-ridden village. She is always polite but always on the edge of things.

Teddy arrives and gets a job in an old curiosity/ knick-knack/ random things and objects shop. The owner is a bizarre man, to say the least, he doesn’t speak, he hasn’t interviewed Teddy and seems to lurk in the shadows.

It is natural that these two lonely people should meet and become friends. But there are warnings for Teddy about the shop and of things that may have happened in the past. Ada is aware that something has happened, she doesn’t know the full story though.

This is a remarkable book to read, it is a story that feels frantic at times with the emotions of the characters tumbling across the pages. Then there are quieter, more considered and slower breathing spaces where the author describes this sinister shop and the curios within its doors and behind the windows.

The shop is one of those weird and wonderful places full of things you would expect to see in one of those old museums that is hidden on a back street somewhere. In fact, this place sort of reminded me of a curious and wonderfully bizarre museum I visited on holiday in Ilfracombe in Devon. A place where there are drawers of insects, jars of animal parts and yes even shrunken heads! For me, this book brought memories of some of the objects I had seen, but then the author so brilliantly added a dark and atmospheric air to her story. This at times felt incredibly creepy, sinister and macabre.

The way emotions of the characters and also the way she has made the shop a character in its own right are fabulous. There is a wonderful, almost lyrical way to her writing at times and this almost lulls the reader into a false sense of security.

The storyline itself,m well that is something that I didn’t expect, well I say that, but I did have a feeling where things may go but definitely not to the extent they did.

This is a brilliant book and it is one that I adored from the first pages to the very last. A tense, mysterious thriller that had me hooked. An amazing book and one that I would absolutely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ronnie Turner grew up in Cornwall, the youngest in a large family. At an early age,
she discovered a love of literature and dreamed of being a published author.
Ronnie now lives in the South West with her family and three dogs. In her spare
time, she reviews books on her blog and enjoys long walks on the coast. Ronnie is
a Waterstones Senior Bookseller and a barista, and her youth belies her
exceptional, highly unusual talent.

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Snowflakes Over Muddleford Cove by Kim Nash @KimTheBookworm #romcom #festivefiction #contemporaryfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Snowflakes Over Muddleford Cove by Kim Nash. This is a gorgeous book that I read book mid-December and adored it. My Mum and I are big fans of this author and we look forward to getting her books.

Love is in the air and the festive season is just around the corner at the seaside town of Muddleford.

Nellie is happily settled in her gorgeous clifftop home. Her favourite evenings are those spent at her beach hut, cosying up under a blanket with her fiancé. There’s nothing quite like spending time together under the twinkly stars – complete with a delicious hot chocolate and her dog Norman sprawled on their feet.

But she can’t help feeling that there’s still something missing.

When Nellie meets Esme, a mysterious visitor to Muddleford, the pair of them come up with a plan to raise money for the local animal shelter, leading to the grand finale – a Christmas Ball.

But Esme’s keeping a secret about Nellie’s past that promises to throw her whole world upside down.

Will this be Nellie’s perfect Christmas for the first time in forever? Or will it turn into her worst nightmare – one that she’ll never forget?

Sometimes you have to go back to go forward.

MY REVIEW

This is the 2nd book this author has set in Muddleford Cove and focuses again on Nellie. Nellie and Jack are a busy couple, he is a vet and she is involved in many aspects of village life such as WI, animal shelter and helping friends and family.

A new visitor to the shelter is proving to be really useful and she loves living in the village even though it is only temporary. Then there is Dinky, everyone should have a Dinky in their lives, she is a unique and hilarious character I adore. Shivani has her eyes set on the vicar, who is definitely making an impression with the ladies of the WI.

From the opening pages, this author had me chuckling, in fact, my mum was reading this at the same time as I was and it was great as I knew exactly where my mum would be chuckling. The humour is risque and full of innuendo and it really was a joy to read.

This isn’t all WI, comments and humour, this author does more than that. The story is one of finding out what is important in life and learning to trust those around you. Giving things a second chance even though you may have been burnt before.

The author has created a wonderful community and it has some wonderful characters, some fabulous sounding events and of course, there is the storyline as well. If you are after a gorgeous heartwarming story that has chuckles then this is one for you. It is a wonderful book and one I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sign up to Kim’s newsletter HERE

Kim Nash is an author of uplifting, funny, heartwarming, romantic, feel-good fiction and has wanted to write books since she was a little girl.

She lives in Staffordshire with her son Ollie and English Setter rescue dog Roni, is Digital Publicity Director for publisher Bookouture (a division of Hachette UK) and is a book blogger at http://www.kimthebookworm.co.uk.

When she’s not working or writing, Kim can be found walking her dog at Cannock Chase, reading, writing and binge-watching box sets on the TV. She’s also quite partial to a spa day and a gin and tonic (not at the same time!) Kim also runs a book club in Staffordshire and organises local and national reader/author events.

Amazing Grace was her debut novel which came out in April 2019.

Escape to Giddywell Grange is Kim’s second novel and was published in September 2019.

Sunshine and Second Chances is Kim’s third novel and was published in June 2020.

Moonlight Over Muddleford Cove is her fourth book and was published in March 2021.

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Payback by Edie Baylis @ediebaylis @rararesources @BoldwoodBooks #ganglit #crime #thriller #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Payback by Edie Baylis. This is a fabulous series and Payback is a brilliant next episode. This is an excellent series for fans of gangland crime thrillers.

My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my copy of the book from Boldwood Books.

Payback
Revenge will come at a price…


With his once thriving casino business now in ruins, Seb Stoker is certain about two things: One – he will rebuild bigger and better than ever. And two – someone will pay for torching his club.


But until that day comes, Seb has bigger things to worry about and a business deal that could make or break them all…
Sam Reynold knows Seb is out for revenge, and she’ll do anything she can to help him. But Sam has her own enemies and battles to fight – ones much closer to home.


With pressure mounting for both of them, tensions run high.
And payback will be deadly.


Purchase Link – HERE

MY REVIEW

Just when you think you have read the best book in the series, the author once again comes up with another fabulous read to take that spot. Payback is brutal and so deviously twisted and if you have been following the series then you will be aware of the main characters of Sam and Seb.

Sam has arranged for her mum to go into rehab and Seb is trying to get his money together to rebuild his club. Together they are the golden couple, but the last book showed their weaknesses and left them vulnerable. Still coming to terms with what they have lost and the people that have appeared from their pasts, they still have some work to do. This is where the title is, once again, ideal for this book as it is about Payback.

I do like the combination of Seb and Sam, they are a good couple and she has proven herself tough enough to stand up to Seb and his men. Seb works on the wrong side of the law, having a detective on the payroll is advantageous, but sometimes things still work against you.

The book is brutal at times as the author brings the world of gangland crime to the forefront. Family is important and so is the respect that their names bring. Not everyone respects the name though and this is where the tensions are evident as well as people wanting their part of the pie. The only thing is with these people, they will want to take what they can.

The danger is once again apparent from the outset, the deceiving and conniving that the characters deal with is great. It meant I was kept constantly page-turning to find out if plans would work or if they would go awry. As we all know even the best-laid plans usually have some sort of kink, in the world of Sam and Seb though this kink could mean death.

If you are a fan of gritty gangland crime that has a fabulous ongoing story then this is a series you should have on your radar. There is mayhem, murder and brilliant characters so keep you on your toes. While this is about crime there is also a strong family bond within this series and this is something that I have been enjoying. Another brilliant book in the series and another one I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Edie Baylis a successful self-published author of dark gritty thrillers with violent background settings. She lives in Worcestershire, has a history of owning daft cars and several motorbikes and is licensed to run a pub. She has signed a five-book deal with Boldwood and the first book in her new gang-lit series, set in Birmingham, was published in January 2022.


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My Top Reads of 2022 #booklove #TopReads #recommendedreading #MeAndMyBooks

Hello and welcome to my first post of 2023. I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks as I have had other things that have needed my attention. So for my first post of the year, I am going to share some of the books that I loved reading. A mix of genres and styles from well-known and new to me authors. These are not books that have just been published in the past 12 months, my choices are from books that in some cases have been on my kindle or shelf for far too long. A book on this list is also being published this month.

Out of 202 books that I read over 2022 there are going to be lots to choose from, it is always a tough job to whittle the great books down to a small amount. But, whittled I have and I am delighted to share my Top 20 Reads of 2022, the order of these books is the order they were read in 🙂

Off Target Eve Smith – FULL REVIEW

This is a story that is a, WOW!, story, it isn’t as far-fetched as you think as some things are already occurring and a quick look on the internet will soon give examples. I must admit I didn’t stray too far on the net because there are many conspiracy theories out there. But, it is an eye-opener all the same. What the author has achieved with this book is to give an insight into a moral and ethical dilemma between her characters. Right or wrong is going to be something the reader will decide on as they read. It certainly makes for some interesting thoughts as I finished the book.

Brilliant story, addictive, insightful, balanced and just so damned good to read and I would absolutely recommend it.

The Embroidered Book by Kate HeartfieldFULL REVIEW

The author really brought the characters to life, rather than being figures from history she gave them thoughts, personalities and opinions. Even though this is an age of mistrust from regular people, it was also interesting to read the author’s take on how the thoughts of the monarchs could have also been. This is an absolutely fascinating read, the magical aspects are such a good inclusion and for me worked really well. The balance of it felt right within the contest so even if you are not a reader of fantasy I think you will get on well with this.

I adored this book and it ticked many, many boxes. It is riveting, exciting, mysterious, politically charged, has loads of research, a touch of magic, mistrust, infighting, double-crossing, treachery and treason, I could go on! It shows the wranglings and machinations of the powerful leading historical figures and thought it was done brilliantly. 

The Plant Hunter

The Plant Hunter by T.L. Mogford FULL REVIEW

The author has a great balance in this story so that the plants don’t take over the story and are mixed in with Compton’s own experiences and expectations. He meets some fascinating people on his travels and becomes more worldly-wise at the same time.

I really like the way the author wove everything together as the journey embarks from Britain and the sailing to China. It all helps to toughen up Compton, and believe me it is needed for what he has to meet. Not everyone is dangerous, but there are some individuals that you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of.

A must-read for fans of historical fiction with an exciting adventurous storyline. It is one I would absolutely recommend.

The Language of Food

The Language of Food by Annabel AbbsFULL REVIEW

This is a fabulous story that brings in so many aspects of life in the 1800s, from living conditions to social status all is included. This is a story that has been well-researched and has an excellent bibliography and reference section a the back.

A fascinating read about women encroaching into the world of publishing, making a stand against expectations and challenging society’s perceptions. It is one for those who love historical fiction, food and how it has changed. A gorgeously written story and one that I would definitely recommend.

Darker Days to Come by Tony Forder FULL REVIEW

The team of Bliss, Chandler and the rest of the detectives are about to start two very complex cases. Neither one seems connected. Neither one is straightforward. Neither one is going to be an easy one to solve. And, no one on the team actually realises how the days ahead are going to become darker for them as they struggle to discover the details of the cases.

I love this series. I thought the previous book was amazing, this one is just WOW!!! Hard-hitting, dangerous, time-sensitive, definitely dark and a superb read from start to finish. It is one I would absolutely recommend.

May God Forgive by Alan Parks FULL REVIEW

Wow! Wow! And Wow! This is a brilliant read and if you like your crime to be dark, murky and set in the 70s then you really need to pick up this book. In fact, pick up the series so far! The way the author moves in between procedural and, well let’s say, slightly off the book, is great. It introduces the criminal and gangs to the reader. Some very nasty characters to say the least. It is a credit to the writing skill of the author who managed to give a sense of unease, danger and doubt as McCoy carefully walked the grey line between legal and illegal activities on the streets.

Gritty, with some not altogether likeable characters, dark, murky, full of tensions, public opinion and an all-in-all amazing book to read. I would highly recommend it.

No Escape by Robert CrouchFULL REVIEW

Over the course of this series, Kent Fisher has dealt with murder and the mysteries that surround them. This latest book however brings murder and mystery to his doorstep. It leaves him questioning the past and the future especially when it is Gemma Dean that is missing. Turning to a personal side of this latest book, the author shares more of Kent’s past and also the enigma that is Gemma. Snippets and only a very small amount of information is known about Gemma. This leaves Kent stumbling around trying to discover more about her to see if he can find leads and also trying not to get in the way of the Investigating officers.

This was a very tense murder mystery for me, after all, it does involve one of my favourite fictional characters. The author has taken Kent on a dangerous road and there are repercussions for him and those around him. Things feel fragile as secrets and confessions are told and I am eager to see how the author deals with these as well as Kent’s next move into Private Investigator. A cracking read, one for crime, murder, and mystery readers and one I would absolutely recommend.

Windswept & Interesting by Billy ConnollyFULL REVIEW

Billy Connolly is a voice I have known since childhood when Mum and Dad listened to his vinyl LPs, a voice I have known but at the time I didn’t really understand, probably just as well really! I decided to listen to the audiobook of this autobiography and I have to say, compared to when I heard his voice as a child, I can understand every word. I mentioned listening to this book to my mum, and the first thing she said was “could you understand him”, yes she still remembers trying to decipher the LPs, not easy especially when Billy starts laughing!

This is entertaining and funny but it is also honest and a bit of an eye-opener at times. It isn’t all humour and anecdotes, as he discusses the abuse he suffered as a child. It is something that had taken many, many years for him to come to terms with and also to understand. I did also get the hardback of this and read some sections as well as listened. And yes, as I read it I could hear Billy’s voice.

Excellent listening, honest and very addictive. I would absolutely recommend it. 

The Darkest Sin by D.V. BishopFULL REVIEW

This is the 2nd book in the Cesare Aldo series and you really should read the first book City of Vengeance as part of this story has links to the previous. Also, the first book gives a brilliant introduction to Aldo as a person, as an investigator and also the people in the city of Florence in this time period.

Set in Florence in 1537, Aldo is asked to see about the reports of intruders but finds the body of a man in the convent of Mary Magdalen. It is inconceivable that a nun would be responsible, but how and why this has happened is something that Aldo may not even be asked to investigate in. Aldo works for the Otto, the administration of the criminal court at the time. The murder is on Church grounds and therefore not under the same jurisdiction.

This is a fabulous book and it definitely cements this series as one that I will definitely be keeping up with. This is one for those who like historical murder mysteries with a complex storyline that is also easy to follow when you are in the zone. I really didn’t want to put this one down and read it in two sittings.

Excellent storyline, and interesting characters, can’t wait for the next book and it is one I would absolutely recommend.

The Family Game by Catherine SteadmanFULL REVIEW

Oh my goodness this is a story that took me completely by surprise. It is a mix of several genres so would appeal to readers who like mystery thrillers with a really tense and atmospheric vibe. There are elements of horror and a psychological feel and overall it is an addictive and totally captivating read.

This is one of those stories that I want to shout about, but can’t because it would give away the story, plot and whole thrill of reading the book. It is a deviously twisted and insanely addictive storyline. What I thought within the first few chapters was completely different by the end of the book. In some ways it is a complex story, that is if I were to try and explain it in more detail, but it is one that the author has nailed. It isn’t confusing as you and I adored the way it just flowed from one thing to the next. By the end I was gobsmacked.

I adored this book a lot and it is one that I would very definitely recommend.

Everybody Pays by H. Max HillerFULL REVIEW

This is the 6th book in the Detective Cadillac Holland series and I have read and loved each one. This series just goes from strength to strength and this time around the author has really upped the stakes for Cadillac, Tulip, Katie and Tony.

Oh my goodness the author really has upped the stakes on this story. There are so many different threads with this book, I did lose myself a couple of times, but found myself back on track as I kept reading. The twists in the story just keep coming and I think the author has done an amazing job of keeping them separate until they are needed to join up[, and when they do… well it comes with a Wow! Having Cadillac and Tony with their pasts, and then bringing them back into play again was a good move. It adds a little more detail and jogs the memory as to who Tony was and what he is capable of.

Cracking story and if you like crime thrillers then this is a series you really do need on your radar. Set in New Orleans and full of references to food, districts and streets that tantalise the tastebuds as well as building a vivid image of the area. The author’s knowledge of the area really does shine through, he has his characters running back alleys and shortcuts in their quest for the truth. This is a brilliant series and this latest book is amazing. It is one I would absolutely recommend.

The Empire by Michael Ball – FULL REVIEW

I really didn’t know what to expect when I first saw this book, and I only glanced at the synopsis to know it was one I wanted to read. The author has trod the boards of theatres around the world and so it makes sense that his first book would be set in a theatre.

The author brings his passion for theatre, musicals and variety to every page of this wonderful novel. There are stories within stories and some real mysteries that are wonderfully woven into this tale of family disagreement, rivalry and blackmail. Underneath all of this though is the dogged determination of those who do not want to go down without a fight. It is their stubbornness and belief that gives magic to this story. They add glamour and glitz if you like.

This is a fabulous story and one that I really adored. It has the razzmatazz and the glamour, it also has the shady and the undesirable, but all the way through this story the feeling of “the show must go on” is one that resonated with me. No matter what the pitfalls there is always something to work toward, whether it is in the belief of others around you or accepting that you are capable of being successful, there is always a glimmer of the possible.

This a fabulous debut novel from someone who knows the industry, the history, the backstage and centre stage of theatres. A time when Jazz was making its way across the Atlantic and the roaring 20s was making itself heard. It is an addictive story and one I would absolutely recommend.

Keeping a Christmas Promise by Jo ThomasFULL REVIEW

Years ago four friends make a bucket list of places they would like to see, things they would like to do and what they wanted to achieve in their lives. Over the years there have been marriages, divorces, promotions, children and the death of one of the four. Deciding to fulfil one bucket list item, the three friends go to Iceland to see the Northern Lights. They are booked in for a weekend and in theory that should be enough time to see the lights and make it back home ready for a new Christmas menu to be rolled out at a restaurant, for making sure the arrangements are in place for a family Christmas and the last minute wedding plans.

The author chose a wonderful way to show the real Iceland, the food, the people, the scenery and also the smaller communities away from the hotels and tourist spots. Being without things like electricity, a phone signal and a road back to the hotel encourages the women to look at their lives. The longer they stay cooped together the more they realise that they are not living their lives to the fullest. Yes, they may be achieving some of their goals, but is this making them happy?

This is a wonderful story that is fabulous reading and kept me up till ridiculous o’clock until I got to the end. If you like a contemporary fiction novel that has romance and friendship and is definitely addictive, then this is one I would definitely recommend.

The Botanist by M.W. CravenFULL REVIEW

This is yet another fantastic book in the Washington Poe series, to be honest though, I wouldn’t expect anything less. These books can be read as standalone’s, but to get a real sense of the working relationship between Poe, Tilly, Doyle and Flynn you really need to have started this from the beginning. And, also because they are great books.

Having two cases, one looking like a locked-room mystery and the other one that is leaving them playing catch up with the killer always ahead of them. Even with their combined expertise, this would be tough, but without having input from Doyle, things are even tougher.

The author really has done an amazing job with this story. Again it is complex and compulsive reading. There are mentions of tech, biology and other specialist stuff but it isn’t too over the top. Thank goodness things have to be basic for Poe to understand or else there would be a few confused readers as well!

With time being a crucial part of this story, the pacing is fast and the author conveys this through his characters so well. He shows their frustrations and occasionally odd outburst. Even in the midst of this tense and highly charged investigation, there are some amazing one-liners, these are perfect for defusing stress and tension, and are usually courtesy of Tilly.

 I never read the synopsis for a Washington Poe book I just buy it.

Ideal for those who love twisted, complex and totally addictive thrillers and one I would absolutely recommend.

The App by Stuart James FULL REVIEW

I love the psychological taunt of this, the synopsis is brilliant at setting the sense of suspense, tension and dread as the realisation sets in for what is going to happen in this book. A simple app that will make you turn to murder. It sounds unbelievable but when the owner of the app seems to know everything about you and your family then things become serious. We are all aware of people being coaxed into doing things via social media, from the harmless little challenges to the awful and heartbreaking suicides. So, when a story like this comes up I always think to myself, this would never happen in real life. But would it? This is where a story like this works so well and the author has done an amazing job of creating an addictive and dangerous story that is much more than a simple game of cat and mouse.

A tense and action-filled thriller that starts off at a nice pace but then suddenly screams into a super fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat race against time to save the people that the main characters of the story care about the most. This really had me hooked to the point where I jumped feet and scared the poor dogs to bits when my own phone rang!!!

If you like a story with thrills, action, suspense, mystery and a few bodies, then this is going to be one for you. I adored it and would definitely recommend it.

The Lie Here by NS FordFULL REVIEW

The synopsis is short and snappy and now I look at it I realise how it gives very little away. It does however have enough to suggest a mystery and secrets from the past.

The story is about Kat, and she has a very isolated life, she constantly moves as she goes from story to story. She researches each of her stories and her latest one is the whereabouts of Roskoe Darke, a member of an 80s band. He mysteriously disappeared and has not been seen, there have been several suggestions as to what happened and some of these do sound plausible. Kat, however, decides to dig deeper.

Kat is a character who I really liked, a loner who fixates on one project at a time. But what is it about her past that will have relevance to the current timeline of her story? Well, I could tell you but then I would spoil the story so you are going to have to read it for yourself. I didn’t see this twist coming in the story, so it was a huge revelation.

As for what happened to the missing Roskoe, well again I never saw that one either. This was a little different to what I expected but it worked really well. The author injected a clever little side step and it was one that turned this into a much darker and more sinister story.

This was a brilliant thriller that has a great mystery and suspense element to it, a great storyline and a wonderful set of interesting and different characters. I adored this book a huge amount, a one-sitting read for me and it is one I would absolutely recommend.

The Will by Rebecca ReidFULL REVIEW

The synopsis is short but more than enough to convince me that I wanted to read this book. I mean, a death, a will, a large house and family, that in itself is a pot simmering waiting for the inevitable to happen. The thought of owning a large house is great, but when you are one of several that want it then tensions arise.

The author has set this story up brilliantly, the house is to be left to one of the family, and it is not passed down to the eldest son or anything as archaic as that. Instead, it is down to the wishes of the recently deceased Cecily.

They each want the house, and each one has their own plans for what they would like to do with it. The author works some brilliant subplots into this and I was never sure who was going to be the best one to own the house.

This is a mystery wrapped around the family group and it makes for a wonderful story. the characters are likeable on the whole, with the odd exception. This is a mix of contemporary fiction and mystery. It is a wonderful read and one that I would definitely recommend.

A Child for the Reich by Andie Newton – FULL REVIEW

I do enjoy reading books based around WWII, but I often find there are things that I was not aware of. A Child for the Reich is one such book. There was a branch of the Reich that was responsible for collecting babies and children with the much sort after blue eyes and blond hair. This was seen as the perfect Arian child. If you were not German and you had the perfect baby or child then they would be taken, re-educated and then given to “Good German Families” to raise. In Poland, 200,000 children were removed by the NSV, these are the female version of the dreaded SS, these women were known as the “Brown Sisters”.

The author brings a horrifying and awful practice of taking children to be representative of Hitler’s vision of his Aryan race. Saying that I enjoyed reading this book feels wrong, but I did.

If you like your historical fiction set in Europe during WWII then this is one that should be on your reading list. It is a poignant and eye-opening read and it is one I would definitely recommend.

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Strangeways: A Prison Officers Story by Neil Samworth – Full review to follow

WOW! I have been listening to this audio version and it is such an amazing book to listen to. The author tells his story as he worked in prisons and especially his time at Strangeways in Manchester as an officer. The narrator is amazing and his voice is perfect for this style of the book.

This is a tough book to listen to but my goodness it was addictive. This is one for those who like to learn more about people and their jobs. Tough, gripping, sombre and one I would highly recommend.

So Pretty

So Pretty by Ronnie Turner – Full review to follow

This story is about two people and the chapters alternate between the two of them. Ada is a single mother and lives in Rye, never quite fitting into this small and clique-ridden village. She is always polite but always on the edge of things.

Teddy arrives and gets a job in an old curiosity/ knick-knack/ random things and objects shop. The owner is a bizarre man, to say the least, he doesn’t speak, he hasn’t interviewed Teddy and seems to lurk in the shadows.

The storyline itself,m well that is something that I didn’t expect, well I say that, but I did have a feeling where things may go but definitely not to the extent they did.

This is a brilliant book and it is one that I adored from the first pages to the very last. A tense, mysterious thriller that had me hooked. An amazing book and one that I would absolutely recommend.

Many thanks for reading my post, I hope you enjoy looking at the books I adored reading over the past year. I look forward to sharing more in the year to come.

Love and Best Wishes to you all

Yvonne xx