#Bookreview The Apothecary’s Daughter by Charlotte Betts #historical #romance

A brief review of The Apothecary’s Daughter by Charlotte Betts – Historical Romance

Blurb

1665. Susannah Leyton has grown up behind the counter of her father’s apothecary shop in bustling Fleet Street. A skilled student – the resinous scents of lavender, rosemary, liquorice and turpentine run in her blood – her father has granted her the freedom to pursue her considerable talents. But Susannah is dealt a shocking blow when her widowed father marries again, and her new step-mother seems determined to remove her from the apothecary shop for good.

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My review

I bought this book on a whim because I like everything to do with herbs, plants and apothecary. I also have a character in a future book who will be opening her own Apothecary shop, so I was intrigued to find out about The Apothecary’s Daughter and how herb lore was dealt with in 1665 London.

The story is centred around plague ridden London and makes good use of events like the Great Fire of London. There are slavery issues, the great divide between men and women at that time, childbirth complications and so many wonderful little details that helped bring the past to life.

The book was well researched and interesting to read; the historical details were integral to the story and never felt like info dumps. The story flowed along beautifully and I was fully immersed in Susannah’s life. Although I would have enjoyed more focus on apothecary, the details that were included were fascinating.

I will definitely be reading more of Charlotte Betts work and highly recommend this to fans of historical fiction. The romance element is also important, so if you like romance this could also be a story for you.

4.5 stars

#Tuesdaybookblog A Year and a Day – Isabelle Broom #Bookreview #Romance

This is my first book review for a long time. I’m a bit out of practice, but here goes…

I won a paperback copy of A Year and a Day in a Rafflecopter giveaway run by Brizzlelass. I was instantly drawn to the idea of a book set in Prague as it’s a bucket list destination for me. After reading this, Prague has moved even higher up on my list!

But before I get to what I think, let’s start with the beautiful book cover and the blurb…

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Welcome to a city where wishes are everywhere

For Megan, a winter escape to Prague with her friend Ollie is a chance to find some inspiration for her upcoming photography exhibition. But she’s determined to keep their friendship from becoming anything more. Because if Megan lets Ollie find out about her past, she risks losing everything – and she won’t let that happen again . . .

For Hope, the trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she’s struggling to enjoy the beauty of the city when she knows how angry her daughter is back home. And that it’s all her fault . . .

For Sophie, the city has always been a magical place. This time she can’t stop counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her. But in historic Prague you can never escape the past . . .

Three different women.

Three intertwining love stories.

One unforgettable, timeless city.


My Review

This is an addictive read. The way each chapter alternates between the three viewpoint characters – Megan, Hope and Sophie, draws you in completely. I spent a few late nights unable to put it down.

The characters are all likeable and each story thread is compelling and believable. It’s great how each character has their own chapter, but are often with or bumping into the others characters once they all meet in Prague. Megan is the main character of the three, and Ollie (her friend / potential love interest) is definitely my favourite character. I connected with Megan the most perhaps because she is obsessed with photography (I also love taking photos), although I found her reasoning a little nuts and infuriating at times.

There are plenty of heart-warming moments in A Year and a Day, and plenty of times when it reduced me to tears.

Prague really comes alive; you can almost feel as if you are there in the freezing, magical city.

I did guess where much of the plot was going, but that didn’t stop my enjoyment of the story, rather it’s good to be proved right.

In all, A Year and a Day is a brilliantly entertaining novel that I recommend to anyone who enjoys romantic fiction. I will be looking out for more books by Isabelle Broom and look forward to escaping into other parts of the world in her stories.

I rate it 4.5 stars (5 on amazon / goodreads).

 

#Tuesdaybookblog #Audio #bookreview The Widow by Fiona Barton #thriller

The Widow by Fiona Barton

Narrated by Clare Corbett

The Blurb

THE SUNDAY TIMES AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, AND RICHARD & JUDY BOOK CLUB PICK

‘If you liked GONE GIRL and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, you might want to pick up THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton. Engrossing. Suspenseful’ Stephen King

We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

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My Review

Even though terrible subject matter is touched upon in this book, it was a very enjoyable read / listen. The story switches between the present day and back into the past when the little girl Bella is abducted. It’s easy to follow the storyline, and this technique helped to drag you into the story.

It’s soon clear the widow is an unreliable narrator. It’s hard to like most of the characters involved, however Sparks seems like a dedicated and likable detective as he risks his career trying to find the missing toddler.

The story moves along at a compelling pace and you have to pay attention to the little details that might turn up later. You’ll wonder if there are any big revelations or twists as the story unravels, but you’ll have to read it for yourself to find out what’s really going on.

I would recommend to thriller lovers.

4 stars

Audio extra – I loved the end of the audio book where the author, Fiona Barton and the narrator, Clare Corbett chat about writing and audio books. Brilliant added extra.

#bookreview Magic-scars: Crown of Stones – bk 2 by @cl_schneider #fantasy #tuesdaybookblog

This is the second book in the Crown of Stones trilogy.  I have been looking forward to reading this ever since devouring book one last year. I wasn’t disappointed!

As with book one, the cover is fantastic.

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Here’s the blurb from Amazon…

Magic doesn’t wound the same as a sword.

The story of Ian Troy continues in Magic-Scars, the second installment in C. L. Schneider’s riveting epic fantasy trilogy, The Crown of Stones.

Captured by his old enemy, King Draken of Langor, Shinree magic user Ian Troy was sentenced to prison. Tortured and drugged, robbed of his will, his memories, and his magic, Ian was made to do unspeakable things. Rescued, as his body slowly rids itself of the drug, Ian realizes he has returned to an unfamiliar world gripped with fear. In the wake of his fall, those he cared for were left to their own grim fates. Draken has seized control of the realms and named himself High King. His brutal rein has sparked a desperate rebellion that Ian now finds himself a part of. His one task: recover and repair the Crown of Stones, in hopes it will tip the balance in the revolution that is brewing. In pursuit of the reason behind the artifact’s strange loss of magic, Ian is driven to release an explosion of retribution and power that leaves him irrevocably scarred.

Struggling to reconcile the man he has become with the man he once was, Ian strives to understand the growing number of magic-scars adorning his body. He searches for the truth behind his link to the Crown of Stones and uncovers shocking secrets buried for generations beneath the sand. To become the weapon the resistance needs, he must assume responsibility for his magical inheritance. But can he curb the destructive appetite that comes with it?

The price of Ian’s magic and his addiction have never been higher.

 

My super short review.

I love these books. They are filled with nonstop action, murder, blood, sex and plenty of swearing. It’s all a part of the wonderful world C.L Schneider has created.

I loved the start and how the reader is as much in the dark as the main character as to how he woke up onboard a ship. Ian has no memory of who he is or who he can trust, and his instincts tell him something is very wrong with his predicament.

In this book we learn more of the history of the Shinree and Eldrings, of the magic that Ian Troy is trying to control and the creation of the Crown of Stone. There is so much depth to the world building, but you’re never bogged down with details. It’s a compelling read right from the start.

5 stars all the way.

I recommend to fantasy lovers who aren’t afraid of a bit of graphic detail.

I’m so happy book 3 is already sitting on my kindle waiting for me.

See my review of Book 1 – Magic-price here, which was my favourite fantasy read of 2016.

#Tuesdaybookblog The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman #bookreview

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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Blurb

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac – as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly’s wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark – from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman.

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers b THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac – as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly’s wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark – from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman.

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond this world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

His only defence is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

My Review

A guy from my book group recommended this. It’s the first Neil Gaiman I’ve read, so I had no idea what to expect.

I was instantly drawn into the story of a man revisiting his past and unlocking hidden/repressed memories. I love mysteries and this definitely has that element, I just had to keep reading to find out what happened all those years ago.

I did spend half the time wondering how reliable the 7-year-old narrator would turn out to be, and if I should take the story at face value or look for the deeper meaning behind the tale. Instead, my advice is to sit back and read this for what it is – a great fairy tale.

The writing is excellent. There’s a strangeness to the story and I was completely absorbed by it.

It’s a short novel, but I’d say it’s the perfect length.

I rate it 5 stars and recommend to those who enjoy modern fantasy and fairy tales.

#TuesdayBookBlog #Audio #bookreview Sisters and Lies – Bernice Barrington #thriller

An audio review of Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington.

Narrated by Caroline Lennon and Marcella Riordan.

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Blurb

One hot August night, Rachel Power gets the call everyone fears. It’s the police. Her younger sister Evie’s had a car crash, she’s in a coma. Can Rachel fly to London right away? With Evie injured and comatose, Rachel is left to pick up the pieces of her sister’s life. But it’s hard fitting them together, especially when she really doesn’t like what she sees. Why was Evie driving when she doesn’t even own a licence? Who is the man living in her flat and claiming Evie is his girlfriend? How come she has never heard of him? The more mysteries Rachel uncovers the more she starts asking herself how well she ever really knew her sister. And then she begins to wonder if the crash was really the accident everybody says it is. Back in hospital, Evie, trapped inside an unresponsive body, is desperately trying to wake up. Because she’s got an urgent message for Rachel – a warning which could just save both their lives . . .

My Review

The story starts with a seemingly simple situation – Rachel’s sister Evie is in a coma after a car crash.

It’s soon clear that Evie’s life is not as simple as Rachel’s believes and the mysteries soon begin to add up, some of them linked to their past. It’s a real page-turner, or avid listen in my case.

I really enjoyed the audio version of this book. The two narrators voices are so distinctive, I can still hear them in my head now. I really miss their accents and the story itself was one I could have listened to for much longer.

The plot built up steadily and I enjoyed switching between Rachel in the now of the story as she investigates her sister’s accident, and Evie in her coma and how she re-lives the events building up to the moment she remembers how she got into the car accident.

I highly recommend Sisters and Lies to thriller addicts like me.

4 stars

#TuesdayBookBlog H is for Hawk by Helen Mcdonald #bookreview

H is for Hawk by Helen Mcdonald is a very difficult book for me to review. I loved the parts with the Goshawk, Mable, and although the whole book was beautifully written, I just struggled to get into it. Before I continue, here’s the blurb from Amazon.

Blurb

THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER

**WINNER OF THE COSTA BOOK OF THE YEAR**

**WINNER OF THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION**

**WINNER OF THE PRIX DU MEILLEUR LIVRE ÉTRANGER**

As a child, Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer, learning the arcane terminology and reading all the classic books. Years later, when her father died and she was struck deeply by grief, she became obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She bought Mabel for £800 on a Scottish quayside and took her home to Cambridge, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals.

H is for Hawk is an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald’s struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk’s taming and her own untaming. This is a book about memory, nature and nation, and how it might be possible to reconcile death with life and love.

My Review

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I really like the cover. It’s not too fancy, but it’s bold and the Hawk certainly draws the eye.

As I said above, this is a beautifully written book and I cannot fault the author for her skills at conveying place, and also her honesty about the grief she struggled to deal with after her father’s sudden death.

I love birds of prey (I’m even treating myself to a falconry day for my birthday this year), and these were the passages of the book that really stood out for me. I was enthralled and intrigued by the whole process of trying to tame a Goshawk.

However, it took me about 3 months to read the book because half of it was more of a study of T. H. White and his experiences of life and trying to train his own Goshawk – Gos. To me some of the book read more like an essay or biography. Again, it was well written, but not for me.

I’m sure H is for Hawk will appeal to those who enjoy a more literary read, whilst I’m happy sticking with my genre fiction.

I don’t feel it fair to give this book a star rating as my views on it are so conflicting. But if it had just been about the Goshawk, it would have easily been 4 star.

If you have read it, let me know what you thoughts.

#Tuesdaybookblog #bookreview Eléonore by @Faith_theRivens #urbanfantasy

Eléonore by Faith Rivens is an action packed 178 page novella. It’s an urban fantasy with demons and a kickass heroine. How cool does she look in this brilliant book cover…

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I finished this late last night and have to say I was so disappointed because I wanted more!!!!

Before I go on about the book anymore, here’s the…

Blurb.

Eléonore Dormant’s life is a precarious balancing act: librarian by day, demon hunter by night and single mother around the clock. Each day brings its challenges and she brings her A-game. It helps that coffee and a bottle of painkillers are always in supply. For six years, she’s protected the streets of Montreal from all manner of demons and the consequent evil that they would wreak on her city. But even a resumé like hers isn’t enough to prepare her for the unforeseen night when she becomes the hunted. A sorcerer, an enigmatic Elder, has placed a hefty bounty on her head and the demons are eager to claim the reward for her capture. They bear down on her, disrupting her mode de vie and endangering her son’s life all in one fell swoop. But Eléonore is ready to fight whatever Hell deigns to send her way to save him. The path she pursues will lead her to new places and old faces. One thing is certain, Eléonore’s about to get into a whole hellhole of trouble.

My Review

I haven’t read Urban fantasy before, and now I realise I’ve been missing out.

The story flies along as one night Eléonore finds herself hunted by the demons she is usually so adept at killing. With a bounty on her head and her son’s life in danger, the tension really mounts with each chapter.

I really like the relationship between Eléonore and her friend Rosalie, and the love she feels for her son is well portrayed. My personal favourite though is the mysterious Raphael.

The feeling of place in this book is also perfectly written – Montreal comes alive and I’m not surprised to learn this is the authors hometown.

My only complaint – When’s the next book?

And on a smaller note – the word ‘hellhole’ turned up a bit too much for my liking. But when fighting demons, what better word is there!

I recommend this book to those who like fantasy and demon hunting action. And if you haven’t tried Urban fantasy before, give this one a shot. I’m sure you won’t regret it.

I rate this 5 stars.

#Tuesdaybookblog #Bookreview Uprooted by Naomi Novik #fantasy

My book group chose Uprooted by Naomi Novik as the January read and I’m so happy they did!

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Blurb

Agnieszka loves her village, set deep in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest casts a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest’s dark magic. However, his help comes at a terrible price. One young village woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all they value behind.

Agnieszka fears her dearest friend Kasia will be picked at the next choosing, for she’s everything Agnieszka is not – beautiful, graceful and brave. Yet when the Dragon comes, it’s not Kasia he takes.

My review

Wow! Wow! Wow!

I loved this book from the very first page and didn’t want it to end. It’s the first book I’ve read by Namoi Novik and she is definitely an author I will be looking to read more of. As I stated above this was a book group choice and we had the biggest turnout ever for it (about 20 of us). Some loved it like me, some had a few issues but they all seemed to have enjoyed it.

Uprooted is a very easy read, the type of book you can devour in a day given the opportunity. I tried to stretch out the reading to savour it, but there were very few breaks in scenes so once I started reading, the book has its hooks in me and refused to let go.

This is a standalone novel, and I felt it worked perfectly as one. The title works on several levels and I love the simple, but brilliant cover design.

The magic was beautifully imagined; it was the star of the book for me. The woods were genuinely creepy and their menace was felt throughout the story.

The only downside for me was that I didn’t feel an emotional connection with the characters. I liked them, rooted for them, but was not immersed in the characters as much as I was their story.

A few times I felt Agnieszka was a little too naïve. She also discovered the means to defeat the enemy too easily. Her magic’s instinctive yes, but sometimes it felt a little too convenient.

This doesn’t detract from a masterful story. I will be recommending this book to everyone and can’t wait to read it again.

5 epic stars

Have you read it, and if so what did you think?

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A question for readers and writers:

This is the second book I’ve read this year that uses very few scene breaks. The action flows along so smoothly and without pause that even if you want to stop reading you can’t. I always thought shorter scenes with cliff hanger endings were the best way to hook your reader and keep them engaged. But those breaks do give the reader a chance to put the book down.

I want to know what you think about the two different techniques. What do you apply to your writing?  And readers, which type of books do you prefer?

#Tuesdaybookblog Kill Me Again by Rachel Abbott #Thriller #audio #bookreview

Kill Me Again by Rachel Abbott

Narrated by Lisa Coleman

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When your life is a lie, who can you trust?

When Maggie Taylor accepts a new job in Manchester, she is sure it is the right move for her family. The children have settled well although her husband, Duncan, doesn’t appear to be so convinced.

But nothing prepares her for the shock of coming home from work one night to find that Duncan has disappeared, leaving their young children alone. His phone is dead, and she has no idea where he has gone, or why. And then she discovers she’s not the only one looking for him.

When a woman who looks just like Maggie is brutally murdered and DCI Tom Douglas is brought in to investigate, Maggie realises how little she knows about Duncan’s past. Is he the man she loves? Who is he running from?

She doesn’t have long to decide whether to trust him or betray him. Because one thing has been made clear to Maggie – another woman will die soon, and it might be her.

My Review

Well first off I didn’t even realise this was book 5 in the DCI Tom Douglas series until I went to review it on Goodreads. There is no hint of this fact on Amazon UK, but it really didn’t matter to the reading experience, which was excellent. It shows great skill on the writers part that you can pick up her books and read them as standalones, although I do prefer to read books in order.

The premise of Kill Me Again had me intrigued, the story was engaging, the twists were unexpected and I really couldn’t stop listening to it.

There were one or two moments when I found it hard to agree with Maggie’s actions and I would’ve gone to the police sooner rather than risk my children, but overall the story worked.

The ending took me by surprise and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good thriller. I’m looking forward to reading the previous books in the series, starting in order this time.

My rating 5 stars.