Thursday 30 November 2017

Urbane Advent Calendar

I've got a special treat in store for you over the next few days as we open the doors of our Urbane Advent Calendar to reveal the cover of an upcoming release.  It's a book I'm VERY excited about - as the cover is gradually revealed, will you be able to guess what it is?

Come back tomorrow to see what's behind door number 1.

Sunday 26 November 2017

BLOG TOUR: Only One Woman - Christina Jones & Jane Risdon

Two women, one love story. June 1968. Renza falls head over heels for heartthrob guitarist Scott. But after a romantic summer together they are torn apart when Renza’s family moves away. December 1968. On the night she believes to be her last, Stella meets Scott at a local dance. He’s the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and if this one night is all they have, she’ll take it. As the final colourful year of the sixties dawns, the question is: can there be only one woman for Scott?

What did I think?

Well, before reading Only One Woman I thought almost 500 pages for chicklit was FAR too long, but in this case it was definitely not long enough!  Oh, how I wanted to continue the story of Renza, Stella and Scott, even though I had already read 500 pages of their story;  I was left begging and thirsty for more!

I admit to feeling a little bit daunted that this book was so huge on my kindle, but once I started it I really didn't want it to end.  The story of Renza falling in love with guitarist, Scott, was so sweet and heartrending that I fell in love with the couple myself.  So when Renza moved to Germany and Stella came on the scene to threaten the perfect life we had built for Renza and Scott, I felt my heckles rise and I SO wanted to hate her, but I didn't.  I felt like Scott; how could I love two women when only one can ever win?

This was SO very cleverly written in the form of diary entries.  We are introduced to teenager, Renza, falling in love for the first time with band-member Scott.  She is so sweet and innocent, but when she moves to Germany it isn't long before Scott's roving eye finds another target.  Don't get me wrong, Scott isn't looking to replace Renza but there's something so very special about Stella, which is why I couldn't hate her!  I really defy anyone to pin their colours to any one mast - Renza and Stella are both so very special and, through the marvellous writing of Christina Jones and Jane Risdon, we get to know them as if they are part of ourselves.

I absolutely adore the sixties vibe that was so cleverly woven throughout this book.  I found myself humming the tunes that were mentioned and felt as if I had been transported to the colourful sixties era.  The insecurities of new love were laid out in full view via diary entries from Renza and Stella, and I felt as if I was there reading the pages over their shoulder.  Oh, how I longed for one or the other to conquer Scott's heart but, at the same time, I didn't want the other to lose.  I don't think I can ever successfully describe the conflict going on in my head as I raced through this epic swinging sixties novel.  When there are two people you love and one of them has to lose, how on earth can you choose?

What a glorious technicolour ride this was: Only One Woman manages to make the reader fall in love with two women and I really felt as if I should be able to choose between them, but I simply couldn't!  I honestly believe that every reader will want both women to get their man, so to which mast will you pin your colours?  Renza or Stella?  YOU DECIDE!

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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Friday 24 November 2017

BLOG TOUR: A Little Christmas Faith - Kathryn Freeman

So I'm reading an email: there's a new Kathryn Freeman...YES! Count me in!  Book, blog tour, bank holiday...whatever it is, I'm on board.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE Kathryn's books and I wouldn't even say that I'm a huge chick lit fan, but they are so down to earth and filled with insecurities and misunderstandings that they always manage to leave a smile on my face.  So the email wasn't for a new Kathryn Freeman bank holiday (bah humbug), it was an invitation to join the blog tour and I am unbelievably thrilled to be kicking off the tour along with 27 Book Street.

Is it time to love Christmas again?

Faith Watkins loves Christmas, which is why she’s thrilled that her new hotel in the Lake District will be open in time for the festive season. And Faith has gone all out; huge Christmas tree, fairy lights, an entire family of decorative reindeer. Now all she needs are the guests … 

But what she didn’t bank on was her first paying customer being someone like Adam Hunter. Rugged, powerfully built and with a deep sadness in his eyes, Adam is a man that Faith is immediately drawn to – but unfortunately he also has an intense hatred of all things Christmassy.

As the countdown to the big day begins, Faith can’t seem to keep away from her mysterious guest, but still finds herself with more questions than answers: just what happened to Adam Hunter? And why does he hate Christmas?

What did I think?

Well I certainly don't have to think twice about snapping up a copy of a Kathryn Freeman book.  There may be snow on the gorgeous cover, but I just knew I was going to end up with a warm glow inside...and I was not disappointed.  Kathryn has a knack of creating down to earth characters that you can easily identify with.  Her characters aren't perfect but more true to life and it's not all moonlight and roses, it's more drizzle and dandelions but that's why her books are so special.  This is real life, warts and all with a dollop of romance and a huge helping of humour.

Faith Watkins' dream has come true: ever since she was a little girl, she dreamed of owning her own hotel.  Now after all her hard work, the doors are open and Faith is welcoming the first guests.  Ok, it's her Mum and Dad but how lovely is that?  They are so supportive and family is clearly very important to Faith - she has even employed her troubled niece to work on reception.  Faith's first real guest is Adam Hunter and there is just something so mouthwateringly delicious about him.  Faith has been working so hard that there's been no time for men but Adam is just so alluring - she can't fraternise with a guest, can she?  It's her hotel, she can make up her own rules but surely a guy looking like Adam isn't single?  

Adam is tall, dark and very troubled.  He is SO damaged and so very deep that I didn't think Faith would ever crack his shell and release all his demons.  His story is so heartbreaking, not only the things he has gone through but how guilt has eaten him up.  Thank goodness that fate saw fit to steer him in Faith's direction but when Christmas is over he'll be checking out and going back home.  After tasting the sweet fruit of love, can Faith swallow the bitter pill of loneliness when Adam leaves?

A Little Christmas Faith is a festive delight from Kathryn Freeman.  Make sure you put it on your Christmas list.  It's so much fun with characters that you instantly warm to, I laughed and cried with them but felt that familiar uncontrollable smile creeping on to my face as the final chapter drew to a close.  I'm going to call it my Kathryn Freeman smile as she NEVER fails to put a smile on my face, sometimes after putting me through the emotional wringer of course!  So wrap up warm, snuggle under your blanket beside the fire and pick up a copy of A Little Christmas Faith.  It's guaranteed to leave you with such a warm glow and a huge smile on your face.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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Thursday 23 November 2017

A Pearl for My Mistress - Annabel Fielding

A story of class, scandal and forbidden passions in the shadow of war. Perfect for fans of Iona Grey, Gill Paul and Downton Abbey.

England, 1934. Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady's maid in a small aristocratic household.

Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy.

Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital... and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society's most dangerous secrets...

What did I think?

I do love historical fiction and found it rather unusual that this book was set in 1934; it's neither the roaring twenties nor wartime England, so I wondered what Annabel Fielding had found to write about.  Set 5 years before war breaks out in Europe, we are plunged into an England filled with secrets, lies and espionage.

This really is a tale of two characters; hardworking and honest, Hester who wears her heart on her sleeve and cold Lady Lucy whose heart is as cold as her hands.  Oh, behind closed doors she can show affection when she feels like it, but underneath I found her cold, manipulative and sneaky.  

Annabel Fielding totally and effortlessly immersed the reader in the 1930's era.  Hebden Hall  in Northumberland is struggling to keep its majestic head above water and the servants find themselves one of the luxuries the family can't afford.  I felt sometimes that Lucy probably used this to her advantage: Hester needed to keep her job so she would do anything to keep Lucy happy.  Not that Hester was forced into doing anything she didn't want to do, I just felt that she was played.  Sorry, Lucy!  Whether I was right or wrong in my early opinion of Lady Lucy, you'll just have to read the book to find out!

I find it so interesting to read historical fiction and experience the thoughts and feelings of another era.  In this day and age, we can't imagine that a mixed race or same sex couple, for example, would ever have to hide their relationship.  It's so good to see how far we have come over the years, albeit at a snail's pace, at improving understanding and acceptance.  

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Tuesday 21 November 2017

BIRTHDAY BLITZ: Jungle Rock - Caroline James

With I'm a Celebrity Get me Out of Here starting in the past few days, this is a very fitting book to tell you about.  I read and loved Jungle Rock by Caroline James last year as I'm a Celebrity ended so I am delighted to share my review again today as part in the birthday blitz.  Don't miss the fab giveaway to win a £20 Amazon voucher, simply by signing up to Caroline James' mailing list.

Romantic comedy author, Caroline James has written an entertaining novella with a Christmas feel Set in the Australian jungle, the book has been described as ‘entertaining and funny, a real feel-good read’ and fans of, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me out of Here are sure to enjoy it.

Handsome young chef Zach Docherty is feeling the heat. Following an exposé in a national newspaper, his fiancée Poppy Dunlop has broken their engagement. Heartbroken at the thought of life without Poppy, Zach drowns his sorrows and, when his agent suggests that Zach becomes a contestant in a reality TV show, Jungle Survival, he reluctantly agrees. Plunged deep in the jungle, into a bizarre mix of talent and trials, Zach meets glamour model Cleo Petra, and the cameras go crazy. 

Will Zach survive and be crowned Jungle King? Or will his latest exploits push Poppy further away...

What did I think?

I jumped at the chance of reading Jungle Rock as the latest series of I'm a Celebrity was ending and it was just the thing to feed my jungle addiction.  The only problem is that it's only a novella and I could have quite easily read a full novel about Zach's exploits in Jungle Survival.

Zach is a celebrity chef but after being caught in a compromising position with a woman who wasn't his fiancée, his engagement is called off and he heads for the Australian jungle to star in Jungle Rock.  Poppy, his ex-fiancée also jets off to America as part of the publicity team for another celebrity chef, but even in America you can catch episodes of Jungle Survival.  Zach seems like a lovely normal guy and as the real events surrounding the exposé are revealed I had my fingers crossed that it wasn't too late to win back Poppy.

For a short book there are quite a few colourful characters in it and each of them are so much larger than life that they virtually jump out of the pages.  It is testament as to how warmly it is written, that I didn't realise that the characters have appeared in previous books. So Jungle Rock can certainly be read as a standalone as I did just that and enjoyed it immensely.

You don't have to be a fan of I'm a Celebrity to enjoy Jungle Rock but for those of us who love our annual 3 week trip to the Australian outback it's a perfect feel-good read.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon


Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry – a subject that features in her novels. She is based in the UK and spends her time writing, climbing mountains and running a consultancy business. Caroline has a great fondness for the Caribbean and escapes to the islands whenever she can. She is a public speaker, reviewer and food writer and loves cooking and baking, especially cake. Her next novel, The Best Boomerville Hotel is coming soon…

Twitter: @CarolineJames12


Win a £20 Amazon Voucher

Sign up to Caroline James’ mailing list to be entered into a draw to win a £20 Amazon voucher. Giveaway open internationally and closes 30th November 2017. Winner will be announced by Caroline via email.

Saturday 18 November 2017

The Beast is an Animal - Peternelle van Arsdale

The Beast is an animal
You'd better lock the Gate
Or when it's dark, It comes for you
Then it will be too late

Alys was the only one to see the soul eaters when they came to her village. The others were sleeping. They never woke up...

Now, an orphan, Alys knows the full danger of the soul eaters. She's heard the nursery rhymes the chidren sing about the twin sisters who feed on souls. She's seen people disappear into the fforest and never come back. So why, then, does she find herself mysteriously drawn to the fforest? Is she what everyone around her says she is? A witch? 

Alys soon finds herself on a journey that will take her to the very heart of the fforest. There she must decide where true evil lies. And face the thing they call ...

The Beast.

What did I think?

I do believe that you are NEVER too old for fairytales, and as with all fairytales there is good and a LOT of evil in The Beast is an Animal.  Marketed as a YA book, this is definitely one that many adults will enjoy as much as I did.

I adored the setting of the scene with a farmer and his wife being blessed with twin girls, Angelica and Benedicta.  Now these twins are the mirror image of each other but they both carry the mark of the beast (a simple birthmark) so it isn't long before the farmer succumbs to the pressure of the village and casts his wife and daughters out into the fforest.  For a while he visits them but as time goes on, they are forgotten.  Left to fend for themselves, the girls return and take their vengeance on the village - eating souls of the kind of people who have harmed them.  Only little Alys, who struggles to sleep, saw the girls and she is so unafraid of them that Angelica and Benedicta leave her unharmed.  The Beast is an Animal is Alys' tale of how she survived and her fight against the thing they call....The Beast.

I have Welsh ancestors so I loved the Welsh setting of The Beast is an Animal, and the story flowed as effortlessly as a babbling brook through the Welsh valleys.  I was completely sucked into the story and felt both sorry for Angelica and Benedicta as well as mightily scared of them.  They have such power - they can eat your very soul and I, for one, didn't want to come across them on a darkened night.

I completely underrated Alys' strength at first.  She is a young child left orphaned but, against the odds, she survives.  She goes from strength to strength and like any heroine, I really rooted for her as The Beast continued to cast its shadow over her life.

Don't be fooled by the YA label, this is a dark and scary tale for all ages.  It's so imaginative,  dark and dreamlike that you will find it hard to put down.  You WILL enjoy this or The Beast will come for you!

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Friday 17 November 2017

BLOG TOUR: Lay Me To Rest - E.A. Clark

I am delighted to be taking part in the Lay Me to Rest blog tour, many thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me to release my review for the tour.

Some secrets never stay buried for long…

Devastated by the death of her husband, Annie Philips is shocked to discover she is pregnant with his unborn child. Hoping for a fresh start, she travels to a remote stone cottage in Anglesey, amidst the white-capped mountains of North Wales.

She settles in quickly, helped by her mysterious new neighbour, Peter. But everything changes when Annie discovers a small wooden box, inlaid with brass and mother-of-pearl. A box she was never supposed to find…

Annie soon realises that she isn’t alone in the cottage. And now she’s trapped. Can she escape the nightmare that she has awoken, or will the dark forces surrounding the house claim her life – and that of her baby?

A gripping thriller from E. A. Clark, perfect for fans of Kerri Wilkinson, Sarah Wray and Stella Duffy. You won’t be able to put it down!

What did I think?
Annie deserves a break after the devastating death of her husband, Graham.  His death has hit Annie particularly hard when she is faced with the sobering reality that she put her work before her marriage.  Nothing will ever bring Graham back, but Annie has a chance at redemption when she finds out that she is pregnant.  Her sister's friend offers her his cottage in Wales and Annie jumps at the chance but her relaxing break turns into anything but relaxing.

Annie finds that she's not alone in the cottage when she is woken from her slumber by the ghostly whisperings of a spirit called Ani.  Ani doesn't want to share her house with anybody and, naturally spooked, Annie calls for help.  The local vicar and his wife help Annie to understand why this spirit is reaching out to her.  Only by uncovering a terrible crime and long buried secrets, can Ani finally be laid to rest.

This was quite a creepy book and I was scared at times with Annie being pregnant and vulnerable; I didn't know how far these malevolent spirits would go.  Annie hadn't encountered anything like this before but it would appear that she has opened the floodgates and soon encounters more spirits when she goes back home.  There are a few tantalising loose ends scattered around at the end of the book that left me eager to read more of Annie's story so I am desperately hoping that there's a sequel to Lay Me To Rest.

A thriller with a paranormal edge, Lay Me To Rest is fast-paced, gripping and utterly compelling.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About E. A. Clark

E. A. Clark lives in the Midlands with her husband and son, plus a rather temperamental cat, a rabbit and a chinchilla. She has three (now grown-up) children and five grandchildren. She is particularly partial to Italian food, decent red wine (or any coloured wine come to that …) and cake – and has been known to over-indulge in each on occasions.

She has a penchant for visiting old graveyards and speculating on the demise of those entombed beneath. Whilst she has written short stories and poetry for many years, a lifelong fascination with all things paranormal has culminated in her first novel for adults, Lay Me to Rest. The setting is inspired by her love of Wales, owing to her father’s Celtic roots.

Follow E.A. Clark on…

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Thursday 16 November 2017

House of Sand - Michael J Sanford

I want to watch you burn.

Consumed by hate, I've done the unthinkable. And it's turned me into a hero. Now, I must decide how far I'll go to keep my secret safe.

I won't let you know the truth.

But the sounds that echo in my head...

...are only growing louder.

Attempted murder gives a man his family back. It's everything he's ever wanted, but he can't forget what he did. And the longer he holds the secret, the more control he loses to the darkness whispering in his ear. It craves violence and can't be silenced forever. The line between truth and lies is disappearing. And with it, the difference between right and wrong.

What did I think?

I had to get my head together before writing a review on this book.  I felt as if my brain was being shaken up in a snowglobe; a couple of things disturbed me but I couldn't see clearly for all the snow until it all settled.  Confused?  Pretty much how I felt for most of the book but yet I still couldn't put it down. 

We are introduced to a clearly unhinged man in House of Sand, he's currently unemployed and it's putting quite a strain on his marriage.  He is totally besotted with his 8 year old daughter, Aza, who is VERY advanced for her years.  If we weren't told that she was 8 years old, you could be mistaken for putting her in her mid to late teens with all her mood swings and swearing.  So that his wife, Joy, won't leave him taking his beloved Aza with her, he agrees to attend an interview that Joy has arranged but he has a total meltdown in the waiting room and runs out of the building.

As if things couldn't get any crazier, our main character goes and sets fire to his house then runs into the burning building like a hero.  The family see it as a new beginning but the strain of hiding the truth about the origins of the fire cause him to unravel like a roll of toilet paper pursued by an Andrex puppy.  When all that is left is the empty cardboard core, we finally see him for who he really is.

Now I really thought I'd missed something when I didn't know the name of the main character; I found myself flicking back over a few pages now and again to see if I had somehow missed it.  So along with an 8 year old acting like a teenager, this lack of name disturbed me but if you remember the snowglobe analogy I mentioned earlier, it does all become clear at the end and looking back now, I think it was actually pretty genius.  

House of Sand feels like madness personified; nothing is what it seems and I think I read most of the book with permanently surprised raised eyebrows!  It didn't turn out at all as I imagined, which can only ever be a good thing - it really is very dark, shocking and surprising.  I think it's one of those books I need to read again to pick up on the clever little nuances that I completely missed the first time round.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Wednesday 15 November 2017

BLOG TOUR: Dark Chaper - Winnie M Li

An astonishing and unique novel inspired by the author’s own story.

Vivian is a cosmopolitan Taiwanese-American tourist who often escapes her busy life in London through adventure and travel.

Johnny is a 15-year-old Irish teenager, living a neglected life on the margins of society.

On a bright spring afternoon in West Belfast, their paths collide during a horrifying act of violence.

In the aftermath, each is forced to confront the chain of events that led to the attack.

Inspired by true events, this is a story of the dark chapters and chance encounters that can irrevocably determine the shape of our lives.

What did I think?

If I could only write one sentence about this book it would be: Dark Chapter is a disturbing and compelling book but quite simply STUNNING!  I could no more tear my eyes from the page than I could forget to breathe.  As difficult as it was to read at times, it was quite impossible to stop reading.

Vivian has come to Belfast to see the sights, but gets more than she bargained for when she is raped; shocked and stunned, she reports the crime but as much courage as that took, she needs to call on greater strength to see it through.  Seeing the crime from both sides is shocking and surprising and I can't even begin to imagine what Winnie M Li has been through in order to call upon such emotions.

The Prologue of Dark Chapter sets the pace, where I felt sick with fear and my heart raced with the increasing tension as we hurtled towards the inevitable conclusion.  Although there are no chapters, which usually would annoy me, but in this case I barely blinked, I raced through the 5 parts of the book: part 1 the time leading up to the event, part 2 the aftermath, part 3 the arrest of Johnny, part 4 the trial and part 5 new beginnings.  What I found amazing, was that I didn't feel sorry for Vivian, I felt every emotion with her.  I felt as if the crime had been committed against my very own person and I was as MAD as hell.

Dark Chapter deserves every accolade that is coming its way, and I'm sure there will be many.  To write a book filled with such emotion showing both sides of a story is nothing short of exceptional.  As such abuse seems to be in the news recently, this is a book that is both very current and also very timeless.  Seeing the story from both sides is both mesmerising and jawdropping, making Dark Chapter an absolutely stunning work of fiction, with a disturbing ring of truth.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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Monday 13 November 2017

BLOG TOUR: Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned - from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principal is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren - an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons' friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family - and Mia's.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

What did I think?

I do rather enjoy Reese Witherspoon movies, and I have the utmost respect for Reese's ability to spot a great movie/mini-series from a book.  I loved the sound of Little Fires Everywhere anyway, but knowing that it has been handpicked by Reese Witherspoon made it a must read/jump to the top of the TBR book.  I have to say that Reese is spot on with this one and can't wait to see it on TV.

Shaker Heights is just the perfect place to long as you abide by the rules.  For example, trick or treating is between 6pm and 8pm and you have to pass a committee panel before moving there, but other than that, it's just like every town in America: adults have a living to make and kids will be kids, making and learning from mistakes.  The Richardsons seem to be the perfect family: Dad is a lawyer, Mum is a journalist and they have 2 boys and 2 girls.  On the outside they might appear to conform to the rules but they each harbour secrets underneath.  Only Izzy, the youngest and one that doesn't seem to fit in, is true to herself; she has strong opinions, is often misunderstood and knows her own mind.

When Mia and her daughter, Pearl, move into one of the Richardson's rental properties, the balance of Shaker Heights is disturbed.  Pearl is naturally drawn to the enigmatic Richardson children and they accept her as one of their own.  Mia finds a connection with Izzy and when a scandal hits Shaker Heights, Mia and Izzy find themselves on a different side to the rest of the town.  All of the excitement is around a young child who was abandoned by her mother and taken in by one of the residents of Shaker Heights.  When the mother returns and wants her baby back, the whole town feels affronted.  Mrs Richardson is upset that Mia is at the root of all of this upset so she does a bit of digging of her own, never imagining that she might find such golden secrets that Mia has carefully buried.

What an absolutely compelling book; it felt as if it was painted in such vivid colour that Mia was a rainbow among the greys of Shaker Heights.  There is a very serious topic among the storyline, that of a mother always wanting the best for her child and really, this is a moving feast so shouldn't be set in stone.  Surely, a decision made at one point in time can always be changed as circumstances change?  There is definitely lots to think about whilst reading this book: family interaction and family history along with buried secrets.  I have to say that I loved the rebellious streak that Mia draws out of Izzy and the reasons surrounding why Izzy is so misunderstood.  It really is true that you can be killed with kindness and completely eye-opening that worrying about a person can present itself in such a negative way.

Little Fires Everywhere is such an addictive book that I can't wait to see this on TV; it is a vivid portrait of a mother's love and how it can shape, define and harm you.  If you're reading this Mam, omit the harm bit 😉.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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Saturday 11 November 2017

Song Hereafter: 1153: Hispania and the Isles of Albion (The Troubadours Quartet Book 4) - Jean Gill

1153: Hispania and the Isles of Albion

Thrilling conclusion to an award-winning series. Global Ebooks Award for Best Historical Fiction. FINALIST in The Wishing Shelf and the Chaucer Awards. The Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choice.

Dragonetz and Estela: the troubadours.

They thought they knew each other but they didn’t even know themselves.

Dragonetz has failed Eleanor of Aquitaine once. Now she plans to be Queen of England he could make amends. Although prepared to risk his own life on an impossible quest, a knight should protect his lady, or so say the troubadour songs. His lady, however, plays to a different tune and she wants partnership, not protection.

Estela and Dragonetz fight their enemies, both on the battlefield and in the courts of Christendom, from the sophistication of Zaragossa to the wilds of Wales. Can they win through to song hereafter, together? Or have they broken one rule too many?

Mystery, intrigue, romance and adventure fill the pages of this magnificent conclusion to an epic series sure to delight fans of Elizabeth Chadwick and Bernard Cornwell. Jean Gill captures the soul of the age and the characters who lived in it.

What did I think?

I cannot begin to express how highly I rate the whole Troubadours series and as much as I was looking forward to this final instalment, I was also sad to think that this was the end of my journey with Estela and Dragonetz.  I do love historical fiction but before starting this series, I hadn't read anything set in the 12th Century and whilst it has been a fascinating history lesson it has also been an emotional and exciting journey.

Eleanor of Aquitaine, who we first met in Song at Dawn, offers Dragonetz a way to get back into her favour: he must travel to the isles of Albion to pave the way for her new husband, Henri of Anjou, to take the crown of England and become Henry II.  Estela is determined to make the journey with him, and Dragonetz knows he can't argue with her when she has got something into her head.  So Estela and Dragonetz head to Wales where Dragonetz must make allies of the Welsh lords of Deheubarth: brothers Maredudd and Rhys ap Gruffyd.  The brothers are naturally suspicious of the foreign visitors but after passing their tests, Estela and Dragonetz soon become a welcome addition to the welsh court...or do they?  Sometimes appearances can be deceptive and Estela and Dragonetz are in more danger than they realise.

At the conclusion of this series, I think I finally understood why I love Jean Gill's writing so much: she has taken real historical characters and events but added strong fictional characters who I came to know and love.  I could read a book about Elizabeth I, but because she was a real person I don't have any intense feelings about her.  With Dragonetz and Estela, I've watched them grow and evolve from their first meeting when Estela was no more than a girl to the intense feelings of love and respect they have for each other as husband and wife.  When their lives were in danger, both at home and abroad, I felt real fear for them and utter devastation that they were in this situation; I couldn't, and wouldn't, believe that their luck could have run out. With such vibrant and strong characters, this is historical fiction with heart.

I loved the Welsh setting of Song Hereafter as I do have Welsh ancestors.  Having dabbled in genealogy, I found that I have more Welsh blood than I first thought and can trace my ancestors to both North Wales on my Grandad's side and to South Wales on my Nanna's side.  Jean Gill has reawakened my desire to travel to the land of my ancestors, and follow in the footsteps of Estela and Dragonetz.

I heartily recommend that you add the whole series to your reading list.  The magnificent Troubadours Quartet is an epic journey through the 12th Century and a series that I will return to again and again. 

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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