#MeAndMyBooks – My Top Ten Absolute Favourite Books of 2019 #MustRead #TopReadsOf2019

So for the past 3 days I have listed the books from various different genres that I have loved this year.

It has been such an amazing literary year and it has made it very, very difficult to keep my list short… hell, let’s be honest it is far from short, hence the past 3 daily posts… and I could still have added more. So many books that really did deserve a mention.

I have finally added all the books I have read this year to my Goodreads tally, well apart from two manuscripts that I beta read. I am just starting 232nd book of the year. (The Book of Dust Vol 2 The Secret of the Commonwealth by Phillip Pullman, in case you are wondering)

If you want to check out my previous posts then follow the links below

Part 1 – Crime, Thriller, Mystery and also Fiction

Part 2 – Romance, Rom-Com and also Historical Fiction

Part 3 – Fantasy, Dystopian, also YA & Children, and also Non-Fiction.

From all of the books listed I have chosen My Top 10 Absolute Favourite Books of 2019.

So without further ado, here we go…

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My Absolute Favourite Books of the Year from those listed in my previous 3 posts are listed below, in no particular order 🙂

Out of the Silence by Owen Mullen. This was the first book that I added to my rough draft list when I read it in January, and it has stayed with me right the way through the year. It is such a stunningly beautiful and also heartbreaking book that is a murder, mystery and then some. This book will stay with me for a long time!

Dear Rosie Hughes by Melanie Hudson. I didn’t think I was going to get on with this one when I first started it. I was planning on only reading the first chapter before going to bed… yeah I read the whole book! It is told in a series of messages, emails and letters about friends Aggie and Rosie, this book was so addictive and so emotional.

Amazing Grace by Kim Nash. Oh my goodness, this book was an absolute pleasure to read. Yet another one sitting read that had me laughing one moment and sobbing the next. This is a stunning read with some amazing characters and a brilliant story line and those sections in italics… Wow!. I also loved her next book Escape to Giddywell Grange.

The Death of Justice by Tony J Forder. I am a big fan of Tony’s books and I am always so impatient for the next one. The Death of Justice is Book 5 in the DI Bliss series and it is by far my favourite book to date. I felt the author took a real step up with this book. It felt more emotional and there was something extra special about this latest instalment, so special that he reduced me to tears. Fabulous series and a fabulous book.

Dark Deception by Amanda James. This is another author I will automatically read and a favourite of mine. This is another author who I thought also stepped things up this year with this book. The title is so perfect for the devious and deceptive nature of the story within. She completely reeled me in, building more and more intrigue with each chapter. An absolute belter of a read.

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher. This is the story of Griz, never played a game of football, because, well… there just aren’t enough people, and he has never known that many people. This is an emotional, atmospheric and fantastic book that just felt so right when I read it. A book that I savoured and adored, an absolutely cracking read.

Meet Me In Monaco by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb. I just fell in love with this story from the first pages and it kept me hooked right through until the very end. It is set in the height of Hollywood Film Royalty and Grace Kelly steps into Sophie’s perfumer shop, following Grace is a reporter and the story that follows is stunning. The story had the style, luxury and class of the time as the story follows not only Sophie but also Grace. I loved the feel and style of this book, a stunning read.

Becoming by Michelle Obama. Audible version. I loved having Michelle sat with me in the car as I drove 7 hours up to visit my parents and then back again! Well that is what it felt like, it felt as if she was actually talking to me. She spoke of her life growing up, meeting Barack, working, elections, being the First Lady as well as a wife and a mother. She has such a wonderful voice to listen to and an amazing story to tell. I loved listening to this a huge amount.

Black Summer by M.W Craven. Up until last week The Puppet Show, the first book in the series was on my Top 10 list, then I read this 2nd book in the Washington Poe series! I had been told by other Book Bloggers I would love it, and they were so right. I love the characters of Poe and Tilly, they are two opposites in personality and character and they are a readers dream, I love the dynamics between them both. And then there it the story line , dark, deep, twisted and so addictive. Awesome read and a single sitting book as well.


Right if I can count I think that makes 9 out of 10 books to make my Absolute Favourite Books of 2019. I was going to do a drum roll thing but then I thought just get on with it…


So my #1 Book of the year absolutely blew me away. It was a book that sounded so intriguing from the synopsis and then took me on one hell of a journey. It had so many things that made it compelling reading…

Here is what it is all about…

A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world’s last hope.

Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.

For on their journey, they will discover an America convulsed with terror and violence, where this apocalyptic epidemic proves less dangerous than the fear of it. As the rest of society collapses all around them–and an ultraviolent militia threatens to exterminate them–the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart–or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world. 

You can read my review of Wanderers HERE


I would just like to thank all of you amazing folk out there who have commented, liked, shared my posts throughout the year. You are all absolutely amazing. To Book Bloggers, Authors, Publishers and Blog Tour Organisers thank you for a fantastic literary year and for making sure I never run out of books to read.

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and I will see you all in the New Year.

#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

The Louise Fawley Symphony by Rikki Evans @RikkiAuthor @rararesources #Bookreview #Giveaway (Open Int)

I am delighted to share my thoughts for The Louise Fawley Symphony by Rikki Evans. This is a modern romp of a read, there is also a giveaway at the end of my post to tempt you with 🙂 My thanks to Rachel for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of the book.

Meet Louise Fawley – the newest, sassiest and sleaziest agent in Her Majesty’s Secret Service. 

Follow Louise as she burgles and bungles at Melusine Plastics, gets flirtatious and salacious in Vetchley Castle, grows amorous and glamorous in Sainte-Modeste, and finally, hooks and sinks her villainess on the super-yacht Bonquonne.

The Louise Fawley Symphony contains material of a sexually explicit nature, so will not be to the taste of every adult reader.

Purchase Links Amazon UK or US

This is a book I saw and thought I would give it a go. It kind of falls outside what I would normally pick, but it did look like mad-cap fun. Louise Fawley is a lottery winner and has left her old job. She decides to break into her old bosses factory to cause mischief, unfortunately she gets caught in the process. She is given a choice and the result of her decision is to be a member of a little known department of the secret service.

This at times, a tongue in cheek read with several references to bigger well known brands, such as the supermarket Pennypinchers and social media platform Scrapbook and I am sure there are some that I have missed!

Louise Fawley is a character that just cannot seem to help getting into trouble and soon finds herself out of her depth as she is plunged into her assignment.

This is fast paced and I did feel at times that I was running to catch up. The author has a distinctive writing style especially in her conversations. This occasionally caught me off guard and I back tracked and re-read the odd sentence. The style of writing is quite modern and and I think this adds to the pacing of the book.

As the synopsis suggests Louise is a sleazy and sassy so I did expect some steamy scenes, and that is what I got and then some!

Overall I did enjoy this book and I am glad I took a chance on it. It is a modern, fun romp into the world of Louise Fawley who is a bit of a whirlwind. I would recommend this book as I did chuckle quite a few times with some of the antics.

After more than twenty-five years in accountancy, Rikki quit the profession to care for a parent whose health had deteriorated, and to give more time to those interests and hobbies which had helped render accountancy almost bearable.

Rikki’s interests include all things historical, from castles to candlesticks, music of many genres, from Gregorian Chant to Brit Pop, and above all, like HE Bates, is happiest when working and whiling in a garden.

Social Media Links FacebookTwitter

Giveaway to Win 1 x Signed Paperback of The Louise Fawley Symphony (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Here is the Rafflecopter Link

Good luck xx

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 wonderful 🙂 xx

Christmas at Ladywell by Nicola Slade @nicolasladeuk @rararesources #Bookreview #Giveaway (open Int)

Happy Publication Day Nicola 🙂

I am delighted to share my thoughts with you today for Christmas at Ladywell by Nicola Slade. I read this for the Blog Tour and wish to thank Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my space on this Publication Day Push!

Let me show you what it is about…

A time for spilling secrets…

Having refurbished her inherited house and upcycled her whole life in the process, Freya – now happily married to Patrick, and with a small child – has to transform her tiny stone barn into a romantic hideaway for a mystery guest who is also looking for change. With Christmas only a week away, things don’t go according to plan…

In the past old uncertainties are resolved when an elderly woman seeks the truth of a legend on Christmas Eve and confesses to a deception; a Tudor wife listens to a story that must never be repeated and is given a precious relic that must never be displayed; and in the early nineteenth century an old woman tells a younger one the story of the hares at Ladywell.

Past and present are only a whisper apart when Freya learns of an astonishing discovery that will make Ladywell famous, but meanwhile her house is full of unexpected visitors, she has a turkey to cook – and a very special secret of her own that must be told.

Purchase links – Amazon – UKUS

This is a lovely novella and so a quick read. A story of a family that spans the generations and has a mysterious, magical and Christmas feel to it.

This is told in two timelines, there is the present setting as I get to know the family currently residing at Ladywell. Then there is the italicised sections that deal with the history of the area and the family through the years.

So a mix of two different styles as such, historical fiction and mystery as they are combined to create an enchanting and almost magical story. The present setting in Ladywell sounds lovely and a wonderful place to be at Christmas. While the past shows similarities and I gradually saw mysteries and secrets starting to emerge.

This is a charming read that has a folk lore-ish feel to the historical and a warm and generous family feel in the modern time. If you want a quick read then this is ideal, it had a nice flow and had some surprises within its pages and it is a short story that I would recommend.

Nicola Slade is an award-winning, bestselling author of historical and contemporary mysteries and romantic fiction, all set in and around Winchester and Romsey in Hampshire – which is where she lives. The House at Ladywell – a contemporary romantic novel with historical echoes – won the Chatelaine Grand Prize for Romantic Fiction at the CIBA awards in April 2019.

She is the author of the mid-Victorian Charlotte Richmond mysteries and the contemporary Harriet Quigley mysteries and The Convalescent Corpse, published November 2018, is the first in a new series, The Fyttleton Mysteries, set in 1918.

Media Links – WebsiteBlogTwitterFacebookPintrest


Now then! Are you ready for a chnace to win a copy of The Convalescent Corpse by Nicola? You are! Well, ideal 🙂

I read The Convalescent Corpse a while ago and you can see what I thought of it HERE 🙂

Giveaway to Win a .mobi or PDF of The Convalescent Corpse by Nicola Slade (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

ENTER HERE – Good Luck

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

All Summer With You by Beth Good #Bookreview

I am delighted to share my thoughts with you for All Summer With You by Beth Good.

Let me show you what it is about…

There’s no place like home…

Nursing a broken heart, Jennifer Bolitho retreats to Pixie Cottage. Her new landlord – a former soldier turned movie heartthrob – has grounds so large, she’s sure the little house nestled in the woods will bring her solitude.

Alex Delgardo also has reasons to hide away. Seeking refuge after a tragic incident turned his world upside down, he knows that the most important thing now is to care for his ailing family.

But when Jennifer enters their lives, that changes. Because, as they both learn, you can’t heal others until you learn to heal yourself…

When Jennifer moves into the cottage that adjoins the estate of film star Alex Deldgardo, there are certain clauses attached. One is that she should not trespass onto his property. She has no intention of doing so, unfortunately or fortunately a goat has different ideas. Jennifer finds a friend in an elderly lady and feels welcomed. Alex on the other hand is moody, grumpy and quite rude.

The author does such a fabulous job of entwining all things Cornish into this story. From local foods, plants, folklore, language and stories and weaves them wonderfully into the story that unfolds. Jennifer is a story teller and the author uses this character to introduce some well known Cornish stories into her tale.

The main characters of Jennifer and Alex both have histories, Jennifer is using the solitude to write her next book while also trying to come to terms with a break-up. Alex is also recovering, though from something quite different. I liked how the author took an unusual approach with his back story and as I learnt more my initial thoughts on him changed.

The author weaves a thoroughly enjoyable story the inclusion of various Cornish elements was great and very recognisable to me as I have lived in this county for 20 years. Including the language and stories was wonderful and the way they were included added an extra element to the reading. Often descriptions of scenery and food are mentioned in Cornish based books so it was a treat to see some of the extras.

The story flowed along at a really nice pace and had some really good heartwarming and also heartbreaking moments, and also the odd humorous moments as well. There were various elements that complemented each other so well.

This is a story that is a tale of coming to terms with the past and accepting that some things are out of your control. It is a story of life, love and loss and is one that I would definitely recommend.

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

Stealing the Scream by Theodore Carter @RunAmok_books @theodorecarter2 #Bookreview

I am delighted to share my thoughts on Stealing the Scream by Theodore Carter. I would like to thank the lovely people at Run Amok Books for my review copy and apologise for not getting this post wrote up sooner!

Let me tell you what it’s about…

In 2004, masked thieves stole Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” from an Oslo museum. Norwegian police recovered the painting two years later but never explained how or where they had found it. Stealing The Scream examines/re-imagines the event, offering a tantalising account of what happened through fictional characters, Percival Davenport, an artist whose obsession with Munch leads him to steal “The Scream” and Leonard, a museum security guard and amateur sleuth, whose interest in Davenport’s art leads him and the police to the artist’s door, setting up a tense climax and a satisfying if unexpected ending to the story.

The author has used the theft of Edvard Munch’s iconic painting as the basis for his story. He has then created and wrapped a fictionalised story around it, and what a great story it is too!

Starting with the theft of the painting in 2004, the author then goes back in time 2001. From then he gradually introduces the reader to Percival Deavenport, a soon to retire CEO who, with plenty of tie and money on his hands decides to return to his love of painting. This provides a link to the art world and also starts an intriguing storyline that then brings the reader up to events of theft and after.

I really liked the writing style and he has a very easy to follow flow that I found quite addictive. I liked his approach to the theft and it felt very coy. By this I mean that he has taken several steps to distance his characters from the theft, it is not until later in the story he gradually tip-toes them closer. By this point a lot has already happened to Percival in his personal life and his changes are rather strange and it makes for an almost unsettling glimpse into his character.

Percival has a right-hand woman in the form of Lucinda and she is responsible for keeping an eye on him, this is far easier said than done. Also joining them are Will, Leonard and Red. These additional characters have very different roles and their role size varies. For me they were good stable characters who are able to keep Percival grounded, well they do until later in the book.

This story had quite a few surprises tucked within its pages. It is one of those stories that is almost quiet, it sits simmering gently and then it gradually starts brewing with intrigue and suspicion and the tempo and pacing is upped until the arrival at the surprising end section of the book.

This is a book that sounded intriguing and was one that I thought “Yeah! I might like this!”and I’m so glad I picked it because it very quickly became hard to put down and was such an unexpected and wonderful read.

Its a story that has crime and mystery and also leans towards the contemporary fiction style because of the dynamic that is involved with Percival. This gets a Definitely Recommended from me, thoroughly enjoyable and addictive reading.

Theodore Carter is the author of The Life Story of a Chilean Sea Blob and Other Matters of Importance (Queens Ferry Press, 2012), Frida Kahlo Sex Dreams and Other Unnerving Disruptions, and Stealing ‘The Scream’ (Run Amok Books, 2019).

His fiction runs the gamut from humor, to literary fiction, to horror. He’s appeared in several magazines and anthologies including The North American Review, Pank, Necessary Fiction, A capella Zoo, The Potomac Review, and Gargoyle.

His street art projects, which began as book promotion stunts, have garnered attention from several local news outlets including NBC4 Washington, Fox5 DC, and the Washington City Paper.

Carter lives just outside Washington, DC in Takoma Park, MD. 

Many thanks for reading my post:) xx

Coming Home to Glendale Hall by Victoria Walters @Vicky_Walters @rararesources #Bookreview

I am delighted to welcome you to my thoughts on Coming Home to Glendale Hall by Victoria Walters. My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour and also for arranging my e-copy of this fabulous book.

Let me show you what its all about…

No matter how far you go, home is where the heart is…

Beth Williams hasn’t been home for ten years. After falling pregnant at sixteen, she ran away from the imposing Scottish estate where she grew up rather than risk her family’s disapproval, working hard to build a life for herself and daughter Isabelle – but now she’s finally returning to Glendale Hall. 

As Beth tries to mend her broken family ties, and fights to bring the community of Glendale back together, she realises that the story she has told herself for a decade might well be a very different one from the truth. Even though she ran from Glendale it has never left her heart. And, she soon realises, neither has Drew – Beth’s first love.

Will Beth be able to forgive her mother and grandmother (and herself) for what happened ten years ago? What will Drew say when he discovers the secret she’s been keeping from him for so long? Can a festive trail bring the village back together?

Will Christmas work its magic on Glendale – or will Beth be forced to run away from it all over again?

A charming, uplifting novel that will warm your heart – the perfect read to curl up with this autumn. Fans of Trisha Ashley, Debbie Johnson and Cathy Bramley will love this gorgeously romantic read.

I have to say I am not normally a reader who reads festive fiction out of season but as there is a definite autumnal chill in the air I found that the season did a great job of adding the right seasonal atmosphere!

Beth Williams left Glendale Hall in Scotland at 16 thinking she had no other option but to leave her home and family. 10 years later she gets a call from her father to say that Beth’s Grandmother is ill and that Beth should return home. Beth brings her daughter, 10 year old, Izzie who will visit her mums childhood home for the first time.

Within a few pages I was hooked as the author introduced me to Beth and her daughter Izzie. It wasn’t long before I then got to see Glendale Hall and meet the rest of the family. From their meeting up after Beth’s long absence I was aware of an underlying anger and frustration as old feelings of sadness and rejection crept into the conversations as feelings of things being unsaid stood like a shadow around the adults.

Beth’s shock at how things had changed in the area after her decade away really did home for her and gives her a sense of motivation. People from her past come into her life once again, her best friend and also her first love. This adds for more tension between some of them and misunderstandings are rife. Yet another emotional twist is woven into an already emotional story.

Izzie is such a wonderful character and she is like glue, she has the ability through her childhood innocence to see things for what they actually are. She injects a great sense of fun and also the author uses her character to give others the ability to take part in Christmas activities that help put the sad feelings to one side for a moment.

This is a glorious read that brings out all the hurt and pain from the past, the author has brought everything to the forefront again and foces her characters to deal with things that have gone on in past. It is a personal journey for not only Beth but for others as well. As adults there are things that have happened and they have sat and festered, now is the time for them to be revisited.

This is not just a story about the family at Glendale Hall, it also encompasses the local village as well. The changes in the community have not been for the best and it has left the village feeling a loss of identity and is threatened. Its story works so well and compliments the one with Glendale so well and is perfectly woven.

This is a wonderful read that had me guessing and kept me on my toes right the way through. I was never sure how the author was going to work through the threads and there were several moments when I had that fabulous will they/ wont they feelings as I read. Nothing was guaranteed to work and it kept me addictively turning pages.

A wonderful read from the first to the last page that dealt with the past and the present and also the future, and it made for the ideal “snuggle down and read” book. It is one I would definitely recommend 🙂

Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. Her moving debut novel THE SECOND LOVE OF MY LIFE was chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for an RNA award. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star. Her heart-warming new novel SUMMER AT THE KINDNESS CAFE is available to download now.

As well as being an author, Victoria also works as a Waterstones bookseller and buys far too many books there. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry (named after Harry Potter). Victoria is not only obsessed with books but loves buying slogan tops, mugs and notebooks, and posting them all on Instagram.

You can discover more about Victoria – and find pictures of Harry the cat – by following her on Instagram at @vickyjwalters, on Twitter at @Vicky_Walters or by visiting her blog at:https://victoria-writes.com/.

See what other Book Blogger think by checking out the Blog Tour…


Many thanks for reading my post. A like or share would be amazing and hugely appreciated as I am away on holiday at the moment ♥😘

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames #Bookreview

I am absolutely delighted to share my thoughts on The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames. This book surprised me as the title made me think it would be more of a mystery read, while there was a mysterious element to it, it was actually a historical fiction and I loved it.

Before I get too carried away, let me share the synopsis with you…

Hundred-year-old Stella Fortuna sits alone in her house in Wethersfield, Connecticut, crocheting blankets and angrily ignoring her sister, Tina, who lives across the street. The sisters, once the best of friends, have not spoken for thirty years, not since The Accident—the eighth time Stella nearly died.

But what unspeakable betrayal made Stella turn on her sister? Born in a mountaintop village in southern Italy, Stella and Tina had grown up in abject poverty in the years between the two World Wars, abandoned by their father, who had left to seek his fortune in L’America, and forced to drop out of school after first grade to work in the olive groves. Tough, vivacious, and fiercely loyal, the inseparable sisters were foils for each other, Stella precocious and charismatic, Tina obedient and hard-working. But as Stella suffered ever more serious near-death experiences—beginning in their childhood with the time she was burned by frying oil (“the eggplant attack”)—the girls’ beloved mother, Assunta, became convinced her eldest daughter was cursed, a victim of the Evil Eye or a malevolent ghost. But what was really trying to kill Stella Fortuna, eight (or maybe seven) different times?

Now, after a century of trauma, Stella has turned on those who she once thought loved her most. It is up to the family historian to unravel the life and deaths of Stella Fortuna and to connect the inexplicable dots in her dramatic story—to suggest, finally, a redemption of the battle-scarred and misunderstood woman known now to the family as “crazy Stella.” 

The synopsis does a brilliant job of explaining what to expect from this wonderful book.

As I began reading I was reminded of another book I read many years ago, that was One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in that book there was a repetition of family names being handed down to the next generation. While The Seven or Eight Deaths also has a similar naming tradition it was not as confusing as Marquez’s.

The author depicts a very simple life for the Fortuna family in the small remote Italian village that they call home. It is simple but also a very hard life. The main focus is on Stella and her sister Tina and their parents Assunta and Antonio. It is the females of this story that are the strength and I think their hard lifestyle in Italy has helped them in their strength and determination as the book proceeds further with their story.

Antonio is a father who has not spent a lot of time with the family, he goes off to work and eventually ends up in America where he then sends for the rest of his family to join him. I have to say I really did not like him, he is very much a “do as I say because I am your husband” character. It is typical of the traditional family dynamic of the time. As much as it really grated it was right for the story.

Because the author has used a time span of 100 hundred years there is a lot of world history things that could have been included, the author has picked out a couple of key events and this makes the reading very fluid and relevant to the females in the Fortuna family. I very much enjoyed their arrival in America and witnessing Stella and Tina’s reaction to the American way of life, the social differences made me smile. But life as a recently arrived immigrant is not all smiles and roses and the women have to work hard.

The author has a wonderful style of writing that made it so easy for me to disappear into the pages for 2-3 hours at a time. She showed the differences in the way of life for the family from a cultural as well as a social point of view. I liked how she touched on traditional local dishes that Assunta would have made, then being Americanised. It is little touches like this that appealed to me, it is a way of seeing the subtle changes and adaptations in culture and society.

The Seven or Eight deaths of Stella are explained throughout the story, and also the disagreements that gradually cause a rift between the sisters. The deaths part of the story does have a slight spookiness to it and this is why it is also listed in horror/occult and I, I do hope that does not put people off because for me this was just a small part of a bigger story. As I mentioned earlier, the women of the story are strong and determined and so I can see why the rift had been caused. The women are fabulously developed characters that grow and evolve with the story, they are joined at intervals by various other relatives and friends.

This is an emotional story but also one that I did not feel emotional about as I was reading it. This sounds a rather odd thing to say, as yes the story is emotional but the characters have a very firm and solid outlook on life. They do show emotion as such but as they are such strong characters they are more able to hold it in, although there are times when the dam breaks for them.

This is such a wonderful story that is set through the 1900’s, it gives a century of family history and at times has a literary fiction style to it. I found it to be very addictive reading and when I wasn’t reading I did often find myself thinking about it.

This is one that I think other historical fiction readers would really enjoy. It is heartwarming and also heartbreaking but without being overly emotional and does have some hard reading moments, it is about family and new starts and also tipping a nod to the past. I would definitely recommend.


Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share is always appreciated 🙂 xx

Letters To My Daughters by Emma Hannigan #20booksofsummer #bookreview

I am delighted to welcome you to my thoughts on Letters To My Daughters by Emma Hannigan. This book is another read for the Readin Challenge #20 Books Of Summer that I took part in this summer.

Let me show you what this book is all about…

Her three girls were her world. It was time to let them know. 

To sisters Bea, Jeannie and Rose, the death of their beloved childhood nanny is a devastating loss. As the girls grew up, Nanny May had become so much more to them all: confidant, advocate, comforter, friend. In whom will they confide their hopes, fears and failures now she has gone? Especially now each sister needs a mother’s wisdom more than ever…

Martha cannot understand why her daughters are so upset about losing their childhood nanny. Yes, Martha was always in demand as a busy midwife, but that doesn’t mean she loved her own children any less. But why don’t the girls realise that? And has she left it too late to let them know…?

I think this is such a nice title for a book. The daughters are Bea, Jeannie and Rose, their parents are Jim and Martha. As both parents worked it fell to Nanny May to help raise the girls. Nanny May was an invaluable part of the household and they all kept in touch over the years as the girls grew up and left home to begin their own lives. The death of Nanny May hit the girls and Jim hard, but Martha isn’t quite affected in the same way by the death as the others.

Over the course of the story the author built up and developed a story that delves into all their pasts. It is told in the Now, with glimpses back in time. The author has created a story about a family that appears perfect from the outside, I say appears because there are cracks and some of those cracks are widening.

The story weaves its way at a pleasant pace and it was quite suprising how time just simply passed by as I was immersed in the book. I gradually got to know each of the main characters and found myself warming to them as I discovered more about them as a family as well as individuals. I discovered their secrets, their dreams and their wishes, what made them scared and what made them anxious.

It’s a story of a family, and with that came so many emotions as I read, anger, frustration, joy, hope, exasperation and doubt. As it progressed I did wonder how this family could stop the cracks from widening, if they could find compromises and if they could pull things back. By the end of the story I was surprised at the ending, I did not expect that, but at the same time it did feel right and so worked well.

It is one of those stories that I want to say is a delightful and lovely read. It has some tense moments that lead to distrust and dismay but also has a solid glimmer of hope and is heartwarming.

Letters to My Daughters is a book I would happily Recommend!


Book #18 of 20

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Boxer Boys Collection by Nick Rippington @nickripp #bookreview @BOTBSPublicity

I am delighted to welcome you to read my thoughts as I help to kick off the Blog Tour for Boxer Boys Collection by Nick Rippington. My huge thanks to Nick for sending me the 3 e-book set and to Sarah Hardy at BOTBSPublicity for the invite onto the Blog Tour. This collection is a series of 3 books and I will try by best to give you a mini review for each book…

But first how about I let you know what the Boxer Boys Collection is all about…

Some Family feuds just won’t go away… For 40 years the Dolans and the Marshalls have lived side by side on the same rundown housing estate in east London. While teens Gary Marshall and Arnie Dolan forge a close friendship, fighting constant battles to survive both on the streets and closer to home, the relationship between their parents is complicated and, at times, toxic. Gradually family secrets emerge which have their roots in the early 80s… and Gary and Arnie realise their entire upbringing was built on lies.  

So first up is Crossing the White

Gary Marshall is being bullied on the rundown London estate he lives on, local lad Arnie (Arnold) Dolan steps in and saves Gary from a beating. This is the start of a friendship that see’s the boys through their teens and is the start of the Boxer Boys.

It is a story of family, friendship, changing from kids into adults and watching each others backs. Over the course of the story it becomes apparent that Gary is drawn into the murkier side than he really wants to. Things go awry for Gary and his chances at living his dream in a career he is passionate about, instead he takes different route.

This is a gritty read that deals with teens in the sprawling and gang ruled estates of London. There are various things that have been dealt with and it adds to the authentic feel of the story.

A great first book in the collection and it made me want to know exactly what was going to happen next. So much so that I went straight onto the 2nd in the set.

Spark Out

This is a book that goes back to the era of Gary and Arnies parents, mainly the Dolans, but the Marshall’s do have a part to play. The Dolan family is made up of Big Mo & Beryl and, Chuck their eldest, it is also about Clive, Big Mo’s brother.

This has a different feel to it and it was nice to get to know more about the family of the boys I had met in the first book. Big Mo is, well tough to say the least. He has a fiery temper and is the sort that hits first and then asks questions later and he is the leader of a shady small group of friends. The Dolan’s have a reputation not to be messed with.

Clive and Mo are very different in what they want out of their lives. Mo is about power, reputation and money. Clive is about wanting more from his life and this is why he joins the Scots Guards. This is the time of Maggie Thatcher in the 80’s and the Falklands conflict. Nobody thought that would come to anything and so off Clive goes. History tells us that this was something and Clive is not the same person he was when he left.

This is a more emotional read as well as having more violence. It gives a great insight into the families, their priorities and loyalty. It’s all about the family and who they are.

Once again as soon as I had finished this one I was straight onto the next…

Dying Seconds

Back again with Gary and Arnie, or should I say Gareth and Arnie. The previous books were extensive in their groundwork and this is brought to a fabulous conclusion in Dying Seconds. It is 2016 and while Garth is dealing with a job in Wales, Rugby and Football matches, Arnie is having to come to terms with his new lifestyle.

He has had his role in the Boxer Boys changed and the families are fracturing with tension and suspicions are running at an all time high.

There is a lot for the two men to deal with and their responsibilities and loyalties have changed. Gareth’s past is brought up to date and he can finally deal with things that have been hanging over him for the past few years.

This is a tense 3rd book and it is where all the threads are finally pulled together and things slot into their proper places. It is a story full of doubt, suspicion and fear and it is full of pace.


OVERALL – this has been a great series and I really do apologise for being so vague, but I was aware that if I wasn’t careful then spoilers would slip out.

The three stories combine to give a fabulous insight in two main families and the trials and tribulations that go with them. There are so many things that happen along the way for not only the families but also the boys as well.

The style of the story is gritty and it fits so well with the gangland setting. As much as there is violence with the story as you would expect, there is also much more than that. It is a story that show the dynamics of family and society of the respective times the stories are set in. It is about loyalty and friendship and how long they can be stretched before something gives.

This has been a really good collection of 3 stories that are intertwined and linked and that span the years. They each have a connection to each other and yet at the same time each have a different feel in the way they read. After reading Nick’s Bio I can see that he brings his own knowledge and experiences to his writing. This is a collection that I thoroughly enjoyed each one of the books and I would suggest that they are definitely read in order, you could argue that they could be read as stand alone books but for me they worked perfectly as they were set out.

It is one of those collections that falls into several categories. I add my own tags and the ones I have chosen for this is, Urban Fiction, Family Drama, Family & Lifestyle and Contemporary Fiction as well as General Fiction. I think it is one would interest many readers.

A fabulous collection and one I would Definitely Recommend.

NICK RIPPINGTON is one of the victims of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal you never hear about. 

As the newspaper’s Welsh Sports Editor, he was made redundant with two days notice when Rupert Murdoch closed down Europe’s biggest-selling tabloid in 2011. 

On holiday at the time, Nick was never allowed back into the building, investigators sealed off the area with crime scene tape and seized his computer, which contained all the secrets to his Fantasy Football selections.

Handed the contents of his desk in a black bin bag in a murky car park, deep throat style, Nick was at a crossroads – married just two years earlier and with a wife and 9-month-old baby to support. Options were limited but self-publishing was booming. Having hit on an idea for a UK gangland thriller taking place against the backdrop of the Rugby World Cup, in 2015 he produced Crossing The Whitewash.

The book was praised by many, received an honourable mention in the genre category of the Writers’ Digest self-published eBook awards and more than 25 five-star reviews on both sides of the pond. 

Almost two years after Crossing The Whitewash came the second in the Boxer Boys series, a prequel called Spark Out, which was released in paperback on July 1 and for Kindle on July 10, 2017. The book received an award for best cover of 2017 with the Chill With A Book website, along with a readers award, before receiving the IndieBRAG medallion from a prestigious site covering Independent writers and publishers throughout the world.

The third book in the Boxer Boys series Dying Seconds, a sequel to Crossing the Whitewash, was released in December 2018.

Married to Liz, Nick is now a full-time back bench designer on the Daily Star sports desk and has two daughters – Jemma, 36, and Olivia, 8. A Bristolian at heart, he lives near Ilford, Essex. In the past he has worked for the Sunday Mirror, Wales on Sunday and Media Wales in Cardiff as an executive editor.

You can follow Nick on…

FacebookTwitterGoodreads Author PageWebsiteAmazon Author Page in the UK

See what other Book Bloggers thought of The Boxer Boys books by following the Blog Tour


Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share is always appreciated 🙂 xx