Posted in Book Reviews

Christmas at Woolworths by Elaine Everest

I enjoy seasonal reads and Christmas at Woolworths was such an enjoyable and enlightening read!

This is my honest and unbiased review in return for a copy of this book from the publishers.

christmas at woolworthsI found myself fully immersed in the story all the way through the book.  The characters are well developed, authentic and endearing.  I loved that the women were depicted as strong, interesting and inspirational characters.

Right from the start, I was intrigued to find out what life was like for those amazing women living in Erith, Kent.  Freya, Ruby, Maisie, Sarah, Betty, Maureen, Vera and Pat to name but a few of the characters are all very different people drawn together during WWII.  Some of them have bonded whilst working at Woolworths, and others by living together and supporting one another in this tight-knit community.

Although I am too young to have lived during this war era, I found myself reflecting on what life must have been like for these people.  Their strength and camaraderie is inspirational and heart-warming.  Each character is highly motivated to do their part to try and end the war so life could return to normal.  They endured the constant threat of scary air raids and buildings being bombed, but all the while trying to lead as normal lives as possible.

Woolworths is the hub of the town that people relied upon to create a sense of normality and where women could prove that they are as capable of doing a magnificent job of running a business as men could.  As you are most likely aware, in those days, women were expected to stay at home and men ran the businesses.  These wonderful women fund-raised to support the war effort and also provided auxiliary support for fire services and ARP, as well as taking in refugees into their homes.

This wonderfully written, well researched book gives an amazing insight into the lives of these brave characters.  I enjoyed the interaction between the characters, which offered intimate glimpses into their budding friendships and romances.  The intrigue and mystery created by some new arrivals made me very curious indeed to keep reading!

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I was kept thoroughly entertained from beginning to end.  This book is full of exciting plots and interesting characters.  I didn’t want the story to end!

I can highly recommend this book, not only as a fantastic Christmas read, but also as a heart-warming story that will leave you filled with good cheer and a sense of positivity for the festive season!

This book deserves

Posted in Book Reviews

The Summer House by Jenny Hale

I loved the The Summer House as it was filled with intrigue, romance, friendship and family secrets.

summer houseCallie Weaver and her best friend, Olivia decide it’s time for fresh start and invest in a beach house.  Their plan is to renovate and open the house as a bed & breakfast at North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Whilst out getting some lunch one day, Callie unexpectedly meets local heartthrob, Luke Sullivan.  She finds herself drawn to him, despite feeling that a relationship is the furthest thing from her mind.

During the renovation process, Callie and Olivia come across an old diary belonging to the previous owner.  The diary is full of past secrets, with the potential to affect lives in the present.  They decide to give it to the owner’s brother to see what he wants to do with it.

What a perfect summer holiday read!  I loved the way that the author handled the story.  The setting was gorgeous and easy to visualise.  The characters were well developed and likeable.  I could easily imagine the seaside village and the characters.  I enjoyed the suspense that played out alongside the sweet romance when old secrets were revealed.

I was happy to discover that Luke, although coming from a wealthy family, wasn’t a “spoilt rich boy”.  Instead, he turned out to be a caring, helpful and very likeable character.  I found myself really rooting for Luke and Callie’s happily ever after.

This was an enjoyable and entertaining read, which I would recommend to anyone looking for a “time to chill and read” experience.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This feel-good book deserves

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Beneath a Burning Sky by Jenny Ashcroft

I enjoyed Beneath a Burning Sky.  This intriguing historical novel takes place in two locations, one being England and the other being Egypt.

burning skyThe main character, Olivia, 22 years old, is coerced into marriage by her grandmother to a cruel and abusive man known as Alistair Sheldon.  She relocates to Egypt with him and is happily reunited with her sister, Clara.  She is treated atrociously by Alistair and inadvertently develops feelings for her husband’s boarder, Captain Edward Bertram, when he befriends her.

Amidst all the tension, Clara is kidnapped when they visit the city.  The reason behind this abduction is unclear and Olivia does her utmost to find her, despite all the obstructions put in her path.

Without spoiling it for you, I can say that this is a thrilling and deeply intriguing story with plenty of action, romance and suspense, predominantly set in Egypt during the 19th century.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys this genre.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

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The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

“In a world of etiquette and polite masks, no one is who they seem to be.”

The Beautiful Ones reads like a classic novel with a paranormal twist.

beautiful onesThis beautifully written story is all about Hector Auvrey and Nina Beaulieu. Hector is out to exact revenge on the woman who broke his heart. Nina is a socially awkward young girl, who unwittingly falls in love in Hector.  She later finds out that she was being deceived.

The story is told from the perspectives of three very different characters: Hector, Nina, and Valerie. Hector is a telekinetic “talent”, previously impoverished, now a wealthy well-known stage performer. He has spent a decade pining for his first love.  Valerie, the antagonist of the novel, is a bitter, jealous woman, who was guilted into marriage to a wealthy man by her family.  Valerie resents Nina, her cousin by marriage, who has the social freedom that she never had. She is naive and somewhat impulsive.  Nina, like Hector, is telekinetic, and her uncontrolled displays have rendered her a social nuisance.

I don’t want to spoil the story for you.  What I can say is that you won’t regret reading this fascinating book.  I was enchanted by this elegantly written novel filled with vibrant, captivating characters.  I found the tension between the characters gripping and authentic.  I didn’t want this story to end!

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with this ARC.

This book deserves

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Demon Leap (The Specials #1) by Tricia Owens

I really enjoyed this paranormal thriller!  Demon Leap is a uniquely interesting and imaginative story that will have you mesmerized from page 1 right up until the end.  The characters are well written and interesting.

demon leapThe main character is Arrow and she’s driven to expose the government conspiracy of how her parents and thousands of others died in the War.  To do so, Arrow has to align herself with dangerous criminals known as the Specials.  “They are magic misfits and criminals, recruited and blackmailed to fill ordinary positions within the Sinistera Hotel.”

Arrow is a magically highly skilled person with some very important secrets. Her grandmother, one of the warriors that fought against the demons in the War, is now hidden away in a nursing home.  Her mind was broken by government methods to strengthen her magical abilities and Arrow pays for her care and medication, which isn’t cheap.

Arrow is framed for a couple of murders and finds herself in a situation where she has to take a job at ‘The Sinistera Hotel’.  This is a scary place where the majority of the inhabitants are menacing and dangerous criminals. She is given the position of head of security, a job she is not quite sure that she is capable of.  However, The hotel is the only place where she might just have the chance to survive if the residents or the other Specials (people like her) don’t take her out first.

This is an exciting and fast paced story.  Arrow is an engaging and interesting character and I enjoyed her interaction with the other characters in this book.

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I am looking forward to exploring the rest of this series as it has intrigued me. I love the author’s style of writing and I really enjoyed the excitement and intrigue of this story.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this book in return for an honest review.

This book deserves

Posted in Book Reviews

The Silk Weaver’s Wife by Debbie Rix

Thank you, Bookouture, for inviting me to read this fabulous book:  The Silk Weaver’s Wife by Debbie Rix.

silk weaver's wifeI really enjoyed this authentic portrayal of silk weaving history meeting silk weaving present.  The author does an amazing job of interweaving the stories to make this an emotional and entertaining read.

I highly recommend that you take a moment and read this wonderful book, which transported me to the past and then brought me back to the present in a thought provoking and memorable way.

The Silk Weaver’s Wife is set in two different time periods – silk weaving in 1704 and 2017.  Anastasia is the main character in 1704 and her family is headed by a very difficult father with a gambling problem. She has fallen in love with Marco but it appears that her father has different plans for her and forces her to marry someone else, who treats her very badly.  Her story is absolutely devastating but attests to her strength of character.

The author incorporated lots of fascinating historical facts relating to travel, silk weaving, and fabric design as well as art, which lends interest to the chapters relating to 1704.

The chapters of 2017 speak of Millie, who is the main character.  A journalist, who finds herself in an unsatisfactory romantic relationship with her married boss.  She is given the opportunity to write a feature in Italy, exploring the silk weaving history of a particular area.  A little romance wouldn’t go amiss either…

 

Debbie Rix is skilled at interfacing the past with the present throughout this storyline.  I really enjoyed waiting for the stories to unfold chapter by chapter.  I was sorry when the story came to an end as I was enthralled from start to finish.  This is an extremely well written, emotive, fascinating and authentic historical read.  I’m sure that you’ll enjoy as much as I did.  I LOVED this book!

I’ve definitely found a new favourite author!  Thank you, Debbie Rix and Bookouture for introducing me to this great author!

This fantastic book deserves

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Firebolt (The Dragonian #1) by Adrienne Woods

I really enjoyed Firebolt and am looking forward to the next in series. What an interesting blend of medieval fantasy tempered with some urban fantasy.  I had such fun reading this book.

fireboltSo, the story…Elena is constantly on the move with her father seemingly running away from something.  On one particular night, they are attacked by dragons!  In the next minute Elena finds herself in another world without her father, who has been killed.  Apparently Elena is special and there are great expectations for her potential so she is enrolled into the School of Dragonia.  Here, she learns of magic, dragons and Dragonians amongst other things.

Now, bear in mind that Elena is just your seemingly normal run-of-the-mill average teenager, who is clumsy and only excels at one thing (which she doesn’t like), which is riddles.  She is the opposite of what you’d expect from a heroine.

Surprisingly, her new world is very similar to our world in that it has cars, museums, shopping malls, modern technology, etc., but on an advanced level.  But half of her new classmates are dragons in human form and…they have dragons in this world.  Her school reminds me a bit of Hogwarts with a mixture of regular and magical subjects.

The characters are interesting and I enjoyed their interaction, i.e. Sweet Sammy, Prince Lucian, Flirty Brian, Brave Becky and, of course, the mysterious Blake.

I read this book quickly as I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was very entertaining and well balanced.

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Adrienne Woods created a whole new world for us to explore with an interesting back story to boot.

If you enjoy fantasy books with dragons, friendship and some romance, then you will enjoy this book.

This book deserves

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Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar

Thank you to Lucy Treloar and Emma Draude of ED PR for my copy of Salt Creek in exchange for an honest review.

salt creek

In 1855, Stanton Finch decides to leave his failed businesses behind in Adelaide and relocates his family to an isolated farm in Coorong to start over.  Stanton is sure that cattle farming is all he needs to get his finances back on track.

His family, having been used to a genteel way of life, are appalled when they arrive at the ramshackle property, built using washed up timber.  Despite this setback, they endeavour to try and get on with building a new life here.

Unfortunately, Stanton is an inexperienced, inept farmer and an even worse business man. He soon borrows beyond his means and has no idea about managing the land, which soon becomes run down. The local Aboriginals, the Ngarrindjeri, complain to him about the damage the cattle are doing to the land and particularly to the soaks they need for fresh water. Initially to help, Stanton fences off soaks for the Aboriginals use.  Then drought strikes causing him to remove the fences and he tells them to relocate elsewhere as there isn’t enough water for everyone. It is interesting to note that Stanton, a god fearing man, believes that the Aboriginals can be ‘civilised’.  He takes on the project of educating and training a young half-caste Aboriginal boy called Tully, who quickly integrates into the family and serves as an interpreter for his own people.  (You will definitely want to find out what intrigue this creates!)

Hester (Life in Salt Creek)

Salt Creek follows the family through a downward spiral in their fortunes as their existence becomes more and more difficult. Hester, the oldest daughter is the narrator, recounting the events of those years from her current home. She is lumbered with handling most of the chores and cooking as her mother battles to cope with her new life.  Hester also takes on teaching Tully and the younger children.   Despite the hardships, this family do experience some happy times as the family makes its own fun.  Hester comes to appreciate the beauty of Coorong especially after she meets Charles, a young surveyor travelling through the area with his father.  (Could there be a romance brewing?)

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Conclusion

The author doesn’t hold back and gives an authentic narration of what life was like for both the settlers and the local people.  Salt Creek is a gripping tale and you will find yourself fully immersed in the background of this story as if you were living it yourself.  You will feel a range of emotions from one extreme to the other as you read further into this book.

I really loved this book. As well as telling Hester’s journey, it documents the difficulties naive Europeans experienced with farming in Australia and their complete disregard of the knowledge of the local Aboriginals, who could have taught them much about agriculture and land conservation/preservation.

Lucy Treloar has done an excellent job of described the traditions of the Ngarrindjeri and in describing their fate as a result of the incursion of uninvited Europeans into their lands.  She has really captured the essence of historical life in the Coorong.

This is beautifully written historical fiction and I would highly recommend Salt Creek to all who enjoy this genre, especially if you have an interest in early Australian history.

This beautifully written book deserves

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Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Thank you to Linsey Miller, Sourcebooks, and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this free copy in exchange for an unbiased review.

mask of shadowsThis is an original and intriguing story about Sal, a street fighter and highway thief, who auditions for a place on the Queen’s Left Hand, her trusted band of assassins.

She/He is given a mask with the number Twenty-three as identification for the audition.  Sal has to learn to become a killer/assassin, but unexpectedly also falls in love. It’s a battle to the death as there are very few rules.  Unless stated otherwise, you may attempt to kill your rivals outside of the challenges.

The androgynous concept in this book is interesting and will appeal to YA readers.  Although the plot was violent, it was full of clever intrigue. I really enjoyed reading this gripping story line.

I’m looking forward to the sequel!

This book deserves

 

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Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright

Thank you to Netgalley, Julie Wright and Shadow Mountain Publishing for allowing me to read and review Lies Jane Austen Told Me.

Emma Pierce is a marketing executive for a firm called Kinetics and a fervent Jane Austen fan but sadly, she still hasn’t found her romantic hero although she is dating the rich and hot Blake Hampton.

Emma is invited by Blake to his family’s home but turns him down as she is busy at work.  A friend of hers encourages Emma to be spontaneous and decides to visit Blake on a whim.  Between them, they have decided that Blake must intend proposing to Emma by reason of the invitation.

Emma’s boyfriend, Blake, looks less than thrilled to see her when she arrives unannounced on his doorstep and she discovers that he is with another woman.  Blake protests his innocence but Emma storms off in embarrassment.  Whilst walking away, Emma is stopped by Lucas Hampton, who apologises for his brother’s behaviour and offers her a ride home.

Come Monday morning back at the office, Emma discovers to her mortification that Lucas has been offered a consulting position with her firm and they will be working closely together for the foreseeable future.

She finds herself drawn to Lucas and the more she learns about him, the more she likes him.  But at the same time, he is singing his brother’s praises and seems like he is trying to get Emma and Blake back together.  Emma is initially confused about her feelings, but then comes to realise that she only has “friend feelings” for Blake but is in love with Lucas.  Where will this lead?  Could he be her Mr Knightley?

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Conclusion

I liked the idea that the heroine and hero of this story were flung together as co-workers so that they could get to know each other on several levels.

It was compelling to witness Emma’s realisation and understanding of her own feelings in contrast with how angry she felt about Jane Austen’s unrealistic expectations of love and finding Mr Right.  She finally came to the conclusion that Jane Austen’s works were written to empower women and not to leave them with false expectations of romance.  To live life to the full, we need to take risks in life and love.

I have always been a Jane Austen fan and I enjoyed reading this book immensely.  I think that there is a bit of Emma in all of us.

This book deserves a fabulous