16 Jul 2019

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Book Review / The Weight of a Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan



Child experts will tell you that I'm way too young to carry such a burden of responsibility on my tender shoulders. But really, what do they know?' Who is Bobby Seed? He's just your average sixteen-year-old - same wants, same fears, same hang-ups. Dull, dull, dull. But then there's the Bobby Seed who's a world away from average. 

The Bobby Seed who has to wipe his mum's backside, sponge her clean three times a week, try to soothe her pain. The Bobby Seed whose job it is to provide for his younger brother, Danny, to rub his back when he's stressed and can only groan and rock instead of speak. That's Bobby Seed. Same, same, same, yet different, different, different ...









Published:     14th June 2018
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone

Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


MY REVIEW

Simply put, this book blew me away.

We follow Bobby Seed who is the main carer for both his brother who is, I believe, autistic, and his mother who has MS.  For a teenager to take on such responsibility, I would expect that person to fall apart or break in some way.  Bobby Seed was made of stronger stuff. He is strong for his mother and brother, he takes care of the home and his family and also goes to school.  That is a lot for any person to take on, let alone a sixteen year old.  This change for Bobby when he starts to attend a therapy group to help him cope with what is happening in his life.  There, he discovers more about himself and even makes friends.

What I liked the most about this book was that it did not glorify any of the issues that you come across, it simply shows what Bobby does in each and every circumstance.  It may not always be the best choice but it shows what he chooses and explains why.  

This book really is an emotional rollercoaster and a very important book that should be read by everyone, especially for those who are going through similar circumstances. 








Continue reading Book Review / The Weight of a Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan

14 Jul 2019

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Book Review / The War in the Dark by Nick Setchfield

A genre-defying page turner that fuses thriller and speculative fiction with dark fantasy in a hidden world in the heart of Cold War Europe.

Europe. 1963. And the true Cold War is fought on the borders of this world, at the edges of the light.

When the assassination of a traitor trading with the enemy goes terribly wrong, British Intelligence agent Christopher Winter must flee London. In a tense alliance with a lethal, mysterious woman named Karina Lazarova, he's caught in a quest for hidden knowledge from centuries before, an occult secret written in a language of fire. A secret that will give supremacy to the nation that possesses it.

Racing against the Russians, the chase takes them from the demon-haunted Hungarian border to treasure-laden tunnels beneath Berlin, from an impossible house in Vienna to a bomb-blasted ruin in Bavaria where something unholy waits, born of the power of white fire and black glass . . .

It's a world of treachery, blood and magic. A world at war in the dark.



Published:     17th July 2018
Publisher:  Titan Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1  

(although Goodreads does not say this is part of a series, it is)
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher



MY REVIEW

I can probably say with about 99% accuracy that I have never read a book quite like this one before.  It has a great mix of history, suspense and the supernatural.  I can sometimes find that picking up a book that is purely historical can be a bit dull but with this story adding in the suspense and a bit of the paranormal, it takes this story to a whole new level! 

We follow Christopher Winter in this story.  At the start, you don't really know that much about this character and, to be honest, I don't think he knew much about himself at that time.  There are secrets to discover in this book and even more that Christopher has to find out both in the story and about himself.  There is a very interesting twist nearer the end of this story that I really wasn't expecting but gave a whole new meaning to the story and the main character.  This is the part that I liked the most about this story, secrets and history, and I get the feeling that there will be a lot more to come in the next book!

This was such a fun read, if you can call such a dark and suspenseful novel fun!  I am very intrigued to pick up the next book. 



Continue reading Book Review / The War in the Dark by Nick Setchfield

8 Jul 2019

Guest Post / LF Robertson (Author of Next of Kin) - Everything New Is Old Again: Getting Inspired by Folk Tale

 


The third novel by L.F. Robertson, starring death row attorney Janet Moodie.

Janet Moodie, death-row attorney, is hired to work on the appeal of Sunny Ferrante, a glamorous woman who has been sentenced to death for arranging the murder of her wealthy husband. As Janet delves into the case, she becomes sure that that Sunny is innocent. But Sunny is hiding something. Who is she protecting--and is she really prepared to die to save them?












When I was a small child I had a set of books, called My Book House, a compilation of
children’s literature: poems, nursery rhymes, and fairy tales. The books were old even then;
judging by the illustrations, they must have dated from not long after the first World War. One
of my favorite fairy tales in them was Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” the story
of two children, Kay and Gerda. Kay, the boy, ties his sled to the Snow Queen’s sleigh (dumb
move, needless to say) and is spirited away by her and imprisoned under a spell in her palace of
ice; and Gerda sets out to find and rescue him. I believe the theme Andersen had in mind was
that of religious faith and love, but when I read the story as a child, I saw in it a hero’s journey
for girls. Gerda gradually conquers her fear and lack of confidence as she travels north searching
for the Snow Queen and Kay. She is helped and hindered along the way by strangers, human and
animal; my favorite among them was the robber girl, a budding highwaywoman as tough and
domineering as Gerda is timid and diffident. She gives Gerda her pet reindeer to carry her on her
journey, and after a long ride through the frozen arctic night, Gerda finds the Snow Queen’s ice
palace and releases Kay from her enchantment, solving a word puzzle he had been unable to
decipher.

I’ve thought, over the years, that the work I chose, criminal defense, involves a lot of
rescuing, or attempting to rescue, flawed people from the worst consequences of their mistakes.
Death penalty cases, in particular, require journeys, figurative and literal, to trace the path of a
client’s past life through searches of old records and documents and meetings with family,
friends, and other witnesses. When I decided to write my first novel, Two Lost Boys, I wanted to
show people how that journey worked and how it feels, through the eyes of a defense attorney
trying to save the life of a condemned man: the random walk of investigating a case and not
knowing which paths will yield evidence and which will lead only to dead ends; finding out who
will talk to you, and what you’ll learn; the help and kindness you receive in unexpected places;
the wounds you inevitably reopen and the trauma you reawaken; the guilt you feel about it; and
the anxiety of knowing that everything you can do may not be enough to save your client’s life.
Some way into writing it, I noticed the resemblance between what was happening in the book
and Gerda’s adventures in Andersen’s story. For awhile, my working title for the book became
The Snow Queen. My second and third books, also about death penalty cases, have turned out to
echo that theme in different ways.

Many writers and film-makers say that there are only a certain number of stories, and
most story and movie plots are a riff on one of them. Several of Terry Pratchett’s wonderful
fantasy novels take a fairy tale or two and smush them together or turn them in unexpected
directions, as do some movies, for example Shrek and The Princess Bride. The hero’s journey is
a stock theme, both in literature and movies. So are variants of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty,
Rapunzel (sent up hilariously in Monty Python’s Holy Grail), the Frog Prince, Beauty and the
Beast, Cinderella, and even Rumpelstiltskin, as well as stories from the Bible and Greek and
Roman mythology. “The Snow Queen” itself was an inspiration for the movie Frozen.
Some people seem to be natural writers, never lacking for new ideas, clever plots
sprouting like lettuce seeds in their amazingly inventive minds. I’m not one of them. I’ve never
made the acquaintance of Shakespeare’s “muse of fire that would ascend/ The brightest heaven
of invention;” I imagine, in fact, that my muse is a lot like me, hesitant, unassertive, and afraid
of heights. I struggle to find ideas for stories and work out the details of plots. It was a surprise
to find that I had inadvertently borrowed my own novel’s plot from a fairy tale, and it made me
think about how fiction pays homage to other myths and legends that resonate in Western culture
and what a fertile field they are for writers in need of ideas, an archive of plots simply waiting to
be tweaked and twisted by any aspiring novelist.

I may never get beyond the heroine’s journey, and then again, I may one day look at one
of those other stories and think, possibly,“What if the queen did not guess Rumpelstiltskin’s
name, and he took her child and raised it as his own, and years later was found and charged with
kidnaping?” or consider following “Sleeping Beauty” past its end and exploring the comic
possibilities of marrying into a family who had wakened in the present after being asleep for a
hundred years. For that matter, I wonder what kind of life Gerda had after coming home to
Copenhagen; having learned how strong she was and what she was capable of doing, can she go
back to being the compliant girl of her childhood? There may be the basis of a book in any of
those ideas -- or not. But my anxious muse and I feel more creative for thinking of them and
grateful that the old tales and myths exist to inspire us.



Continue reading Guest Post / LF Robertson (Author of Next of Kin) - Everything New Is Old Again: Getting Inspired by Folk Tale

7 Jul 2019

Book Review / The Power of Less by Leo Babauta



With the countless distractions that come from every corner of a modern life, it's amazing that were ever able to accomplish anything. The Power of Less demonstrates how to streamline your life by identifying the essential and eliminating the unnecessary freeing you from everyday clutter and allowing you to focus on accomplishing the goals that can change your life for the better.

The Power of Less will show you how to:


Break any goal down into manageable tasks
Focus on only a few tasks at a time
Create new and productive habits
Hone your focus
Increase your efficiency
By setting limits for yourself and making the most of the resources you already have, youll finally be able work less, work smarter, and focus on living the life that you deserve.





Published:     1st January 2009
Publisher:  Hachette Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone

Source: Owned


MY REVIEW

OK, so I have to admit that when I first picked this up I thought this would be more about minimalism and having less in the home but this turned out to be a book about breaking down your tasks (taking in less) and being more productive, which wasn't a bad thing as I was definitely interested in learning more about this too. 

What I liked about this book was that there was not a lot of 'fluff'.  When I say fluff, I mean using long words that you have to use a dictionary to figure out what on earth they are saying and long winded descriptions meaning that when you got to the end of that particular description you really didn't know what in the world was going on.  This book was straight forward and was more of a point by point guide to this is what you should do and this is what I do.   I was actually surprised to learn that a lot of this is what I already do but there was a lot here that I could do to improve myself and certainly a lot that I have taken away from this and now do myself. 

This is a great book to pick up if you want to find a way to structure your day to be more productive or just get  more organised or if you have already found a bit of a way to doing that, there are great tips in here that you could add to your preexisting routine that could make the structure of your day a lot more easier. 






Continue reading Book Review / The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

2 Jul 2019

Book Review / The Colorado Kid by Stephen King


Stephen King's bestselling unsolved mystery, THE COLORADO KID -- inspiration for the TV series HAVEN -- returns to bookstores for the first time in 10 years in an all-new illustrated edition.

On an island off the coast of Maine, a man is found dead. There's no identification on the body. Only the dogged work of a pair of local newspapermen and a graduate student in forensics turns up any clues, and it's more than a year before the man is identified. And that's just the beginning of the mystery. Because the more they learn about the man and the baffling circumstances of his death, the less they understand. Was it an impossible crime? Or something stranger still...? No one but Stephen King could tell this story about the darkness at the heart of the unknown and our compulsion to investigate the unexplained. With echoes of Dashiell Hammett's THE MALTESE FALCON and the work of Graham Greene, one of the world's great storytellers presents a moving and surprising tale whose subject is nothing less than the nature of mystery itself.




Published:     4th June 2019 (originally published 4th Oct 2005)
Publisher:  Hard Case Crime
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher




MY REVIEW

I am, very slowly, working my way through all of Stephen King's novels (I may be a while as I hear there are three or four...!) and, honestly, I was looking for a short burst of something mysterious and this hit the right spot.  What a great story. 

I went into this story not really reading the description on the back or really knowing a whole lot about the story apart from what it says on the front of the cover and I was hoping for something different; something other than the normal mystery where something happens, someone investigates and then someone gets caught.   This is not one of those stories.

This story mainly focuses on three reporters (two older reporters and one reporter new into the field) where the two older reports are talking about an unsolved mystery that they came across many years ago, where a man is found dead on a beach.  The majority of this book is discussing the case and what might have happened.  What I actually loved about this story was the ending where it was left open ended as to what actually happened.  This story is, very much, left to the readers imagination to figure out what they think might have happened.  For me, I just sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the ride with the characters playing a very big part in that. 

I would highly recommend this story purely for the story and the characters.  If you are one of those readers who likes an ending that is final, with a clear conclusion, then maybe this story might not be for you but for those who like to be kept guessing - you need to give this a go!

Continue reading Book Review / The Colorado Kid by Stephen King

30 Jun 2019

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Book Review / To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee




The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.






Published:     11th July 1960
Publisher:  Harper
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, To Kill a Mockingbird
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

This has always been one of those books that I have been meaning to pick up but haven't got to yet and never had the chance to read it at school.  Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect.   I wanted to go into this story blind and even though this is a classic and most people have heard about it, I had not heard a great deal apart from the fact that it was a classic.   This book really surprised me and kept me thinking for a great deal of time after finishing the last page.    I think what also helped is that I listened to this on audio book which, for me, added so much more drama to the story I was able to appreciate it more than if I had read the words on a page. 

This is undeniably a very important book for obvious reasons.  The most obvious reason is the issues of race and discrimination that it deals with.    What I liked the most was that we were not following an adult as they either commit or investigate what is going on at the time.  We are following a child who is living in these times where what race you were made a difference to how you were treated.  We follow Scout, who at first I thought was a young boy and then realised a lot later on was a young girl (which added more depth to the story considering the content), whose father is a lawyer who is defending in a case that would change their lives forever. 

This is such an important read and one that should be read by everyone.

Why this book is not taught in all schools, I don't know...

Continue reading Book Review / To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
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Book Review / Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella



After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other's sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected "until death do us part" to mean seven decades.

In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all.




Published:    13th February 2018
Publisher:  Dial Press
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

What I liked about this story...  I liked that this story depicted a fairly true to like picture of what being together with someone long term can really be like - flaws and all.  There was no fairy dust or magical unicorn to make things better.  Obviously, Sylvie and Dan have issues that they need to work on and it can be very easy to lose track on what's important in life. 


What I didn't like about this story..  For me, even though real life is not always a bed of roses and sometimes you can dig your head in the sand, there do come moments where you have to step up and deal with the issues you have in front of you.  In this story, it seemed like the main characters are doing all they can not to address those problems.  The fact that a particular plot point in the story comes up and both go into panic mode about it would, if I was one of those characters, make me want to step up and face reality.  If you are with someone for a long period of time, married or living together, its kind of a given that you will probably spend a lot more time together if not the rest of your lives.  Would it really be a surprise or put you into panic mode if something happens which means that this future would be a certainty?!  

Also, the ending for me was a bit predicable.  With a title like 'Surprise Me', I was hoping that I would be surprised a little bit also with the story, but I wasn't. 


In summary...  Not one of my favourites I am afraid.  I think this is more my personal moral judgement rather than the story itself, which was well written and easy to follow.  I was hoping for something a bit more light hearted and fun but unfortunately did not find it here. 

Continue reading Book Review / Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

26 Jun 2019

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Book Review / My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - Part love story, part workplace drama, this sharply observed novel is a witty critique of the false judgments we make in a social-media-obsessed world. New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella has written her most timely novel yet.

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie's life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle--from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she's trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she's desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she's finding her feet--not to mention a possible new romance--the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family's farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away--until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie's future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the truth.


Published:     7th February 2017
Publisher:  Bantam
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

After reading so many fantasy and thriller style videos and particularly as summer is peaking around the corner (despite being typical English cloudy rainy weather), I thought it was about time I picked up something a bit more contemporary and light hearted.  For that, my go to author is Sophie Kinsella who always knows how to make me laugh at the same time as completely adoring the characters she writes about.  This book was no different.

The best part of this story for me was, simply put, the characters.  First of all, you have Katie who is the main character in this story.  She is working her way up in London to a job that she has dreamt off for so long, the only problem is that she works with a lot of people who aren't very nice and a boss that appears to simply not care at all about anyone elses' feelings.   Katie, by a long shot, was my favourite character in this story.  My second favourite has to be Demeter.  Yes, she is Katie's boss and the one who appears to not really care about anyone elses' feelings but she has so many layers that you only really discover until well over halfway in the story but finding out more about her story is definitely worth the wait.  

This book was so much fun.  I just could not stop turning over the pages until the very last one!   Exactly what I was looking for.  


 




Continue reading Book Review / My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

24 Jun 2019

Book Review / Next of Kin by L F Robertson






The third novel by L.F. Robertson, starring death row attorney Janet Moodie.

Janet Moodie, death-row attorney, is hired to work on the appeal of Sunny Ferrante, a glamorous woman who has been sentenced to death for arranging the murder of her wealthy husband. As Janet delves into the case, she becomes sure that that Sunny is innocent. But Sunny is hiding something. Who is she protecting--and is she really prepared to die to save them?










Published:     4th June 2019
Publisher:  Titan Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 3, Janet Moodie

Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


MY REVIEW

It is very rare for me nowadays to discover a new author that I love and can't wait to read the next book in the series or next book that they bring out.  LF Robertson is one of those authors for me.  The writing is so easy to follow, the descriptions of what is happening and characterisation is the perfect amount of giving you a bit but not over doing it and the plot keeps me turning the page to find out what happens next.

In this story, we are back with Janet Moodie, who is an attorney, and is hired to work on the appeal for a woman called Sunny Ferrante who has been sentenced to death for arranging the murder of her wealthy husband.  Little does Janet know that there is a lot more to this story than she bargained for. 

For me, this story was more about the journey of the case, what happened in the past and what is going to happen in the future rather than the actual plot reveal.  I thoroughly enjoyed the journey and all of the 'legal talk'. 

If you enjoy John Grisham's novels, you should give this author a try.  Although this is a third book in a series, you can certainly just pick this one up if you want to and it will not spoil the books that came before it and you won't be missing any of the story in this book by not reading the other books.  That said, I would highly recommend picking up the first two books in the series as you have Janet Moodie in both of those also and you can get a good feel for this character and her background too.




Continue reading Book Review / Next of Kin by L F Robertson

9 Jun 2019

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Book Review / Under Currents by Nora Roberts

For both Zane and Darby, their small town roots hold a terrible secret. Now, decades later, they've come together to build a new life. But will the past set them free or pull them under?

Zane Bigelow grew up in a beautiful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Strangers―and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake―see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Only Zane and his sister know the truth, until one brutal night finally reveals cracks in the facade, and Zane escapes for college without a thought of looking back...

Years later, Zane returns to his hometown determined to reconnect with the place and people that mean so much to him, despite the painful memories. As he resumes life in the colorful town, he meets a gifted landscape artist named Darby, who is on the run from ghosts of her own.

Together they will have to teach each other what it means to face the past, and stand up for the ones they love.
 


Published:    9th July 2019
Publisher:  Piatkus
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher



MY REVIEW 

I am a big fan of Nora Roberts, both in her own name and writing as JD Robb.  I was so excited to dig into this one which is more of a thriller than a romance.  The main part of this story is the story of  Zane and his sister's family, both from what happened in the past, what happened in the present day and how the past has affected them.  Along with that, you have Darby who is a gifted landscape artist who was working on the family home when she meets Zane.  You have a bit of romance in this story (because what would a Nora Roberts story be without at least a little bit of romance) but the main part of the story, I believe, is centred around Zane and his family's past.

The most interesting part of this book for me was the way the issue of domestic abuse was dealt with, particularly through the children and how the effects of that kind of upbringing never leaves a child.   For me, it was also quite shocking to realise who the abuse was coming.  Obviously, I won't go into this too much as that would spoil a twist in the story that is better figured out when you are reading it  but I believe it highlights that you should not always assume that it is a certain person who is abusing.

The first half of this book concentrated on this story and then in the second part we move to present day where the children have grown up and are trying to get on with their lives.

There are certainly quite a few twists and turns in this book.  For me, I had already anticipated a lot of the twists and turns but this was more about the journey of the story and following the characters dealing with all they had to deal with from their part to their present day.
 
Very well dealt with and an interest read.  Would highly recommend.






Continue reading Book Review / Under Currents by Nora Roberts

2 Jun 2019

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SERIES REVIEW / Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her ... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead ... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.


Published:     2012 to 2018
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 1 to 8, Throne of Glass
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

With the final book in this series now out, rather than just picking that up and reading it and as this series is one of my favourite ones of all time, I thought it would be a good idea to pick this up again right from the beginning.   I know that if I was to just pick up the final book, I would just end up spending a great deal of time at the start trying to remember and figure out what had gone on before.  I am so that glad I did.

What I didn't like about this series...  Despite the fact that I loved this series and have given it a full five starts, that doesn't mean that there were no aspect of it that I would have changed given the chance.  One of those for me was with the main character Celaena herself.  Yes, she is a hard ass trained assassin but at times it felt that she did not think too much about the actions she takes or the repercussions of her actions, leaving remaining characters to pick up the rest.  


What I liked about this series...  

The Writing -  Easy to read, follow and because of the type of complexity of the story you don't want to spend too much time trying to decipher fancy wording etc.  No fancy wording but great descriptions that helped build the world and characters in my own imagination.

The Characters - What I liked the most was the character progression and the different struggles they face as the story goes along, both in terms of the story and in terms of their own internal dialogue.  My favourite character was Chaol.  You see him at the start a bit grumpy and
very regimented on his position but also very loyal.  As the story goes on, he is still all of those things but we slowly see a lot more.

The Story - With each book, we learn more and more.  Even with Tower of Dawn when we take a 'break' from the main story and follow Chaol on his journey (that, of course, was one of my favourite stories of the whole series).  There were a few story lines that I enjoyed more than most.  One of them was the story of Chaol (as mentioned above), where he meets Celeana and goes on from there.  There are a few more but don't want to spoil the story for those who have not read all the series yet!

In Summary...  I loved this series.  It was one of those stories that I picked up and just could not put down until I reached the very last page of the last book.  I am so sad that this series has come to an end but very excited to see what Sarah J Maas has in store next!



Continue reading SERIES REVIEW / Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

19 May 2019

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Trilogy Review - The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin



Mara Dyer believes life can't get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.






Published:     2011
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 1, 2 and 3, Mara Dyer
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

I had originally read this trilogy back in 2016 and remembered that it was a really fun read.  When I learned that there would be another trilogy following Noah Shaw, I thought it would be a good idea to pick up this trilogy and read it again before going on to read The Shaw Chronicles.

Honestly, although I did enjoy reading this it wasn't as much as I thought I would do.  I think this is more about my reading tastes changing over the years rather than a reflection on the book. I would still recommend reading it but may be if you are new to young adult fiction.  It is very predictable and the story is not something new but something that I have seen many times in other young adult fiction.

I decided after reading this trilogy that I would not continue with the Shaw Chronicles, simply because I was no longer interested in carrying on reading this world.  That said, I would definitely pick up more by this author as I enjoyed the writing style.

I would recommend this trilogy if you are new to young adult fiction and would like to start out somewhere.




Continue reading Trilogy Review - The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

13 May 2019

Blog Tour Book Review / The Girl in the Pink Raincoat by Alrene Hughes



In wartime it takes courage to follow your heart.
Manchester, 1939.
Everyone hated the heat and the deafening noise, but for Gracie the worst thing was the smell of chemicals that turned her stomach every morning when she arrived at the Rosenberg Raincoats factory.
Gracie is a girl on the factory floor. Jacob is the boss's charismatic nephew. When they fall in love, it seems as if the whole world is against them – especially Charlie Nuttall, who also works at the factory and has always wanted Gracie for himself.
But worse is to come when Jacob disappears and Gracie is devastated, vowing to find him. Can she solve the mystery of his whereabouts? Gracie will need all her strength and courage to find a happy ending.






Published:     1st March 2019
Publisher:  Head of Zeus
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher



MY REVIEW

There's just something about an old fashioned love story that always draws me in.   In this story we follow Gracie.  She is a factory worker, lives with her mother at the time and living on the breadline.  She meets and falls in love with her boss' nephew but unfortunately that love was not meant to last.  On the day they are due to be married, Jacob disappears.  When everyone is telling her to forget him and move on, Gracie cannot let go and is determined to find him.    We follow Gracie on this journey.  Unfortunatly, along the way she meets some unfriendly characters who are determined to lead her down the wrong path.

For me, the best part of this story was the relationship between Jacob and Gracie.  Just the romance of it at a time when the world is falling apart was worth following.






Follow Alrene:
Facebook: @alrenehugheswriter
Twitter: @alrenehughes

Buy links:

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2YqUREC






Continue reading Blog Tour Book Review / The Girl in the Pink Raincoat by Alrene Hughes

27 Apr 2019

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Book Review / The Street Lawyer by John Grisham

Michael was in a hurry. He was scrambling up the ladder at Drake & Sweeney, a giant D.C. law firm with eight hundred lawyers. The money was good and getting better; a partnership was three years away. He was a rising star with no time to waste, no time to stop, no time to toss a few coins into the cups of panhandlers. No time for a conscience.


But a violent encounter with a homeless man stopped him cold. Michael survived; his assailant did not. Who was this man? Michael did some digging, and learned that he was a mentally ill veteran who'd been in and out of shelters for many years. Then Michael dug a little deeper, and found a dirty secret, and the secret involved Drake & Sweeney.


The fast track derailed; the ladder collapsed. Michael bolted the firm and took a top-secret file with him. He landed in the streets, an advocate for the homeless, a street lawyer.

Published:     26th April 2005
Publisher:  Doubleday
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

Back when I was a lot younger and this book had first come out, this was the first book I read written by John Grisham and for a long time this has always been on my list of favourite books of all time.  I always get nervous when I go to re-read a favourite book.  I find that as I get older my reading tastes change, meaning that what was once my favourite might not be the same now.

Reading this now just took me back to when I was reading it the first time.  I loved it.  You have the perfect combination of corruption and moral righteousness.  We follow Michael who at the start of the book is a high powered lawyer working in a high powered law firm.  One day all that changes when a homeless man comes into the law firm and holds him and a few colleagues ransom.  What follows is a mixture of figuring out the truth behind a moral situation and watching Michael as he rethinks everything.

If you have not yet picked up a John Grisham novel, this would be the perfect book to start with.




Continue reading Book Review / The Street Lawyer by John Grisham

14 Apr 2019

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Book Review / Last Seen by Lucy Clark

In a small seaside community, there’s always somebody watching…
Twisty, pacy, and superbly plotted, Last Seen is the perfect psychological page-turner for fans of Clare Mackintosh and Sabine Durrant.
Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.
Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.
Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.

Published:     19th May 2017
Publisher:  Harper
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Bought




MY REVIEW

This book had me on  the edge of my seat for the majority of the way through!!  I just could not put it down!  What a great book to bring me back out of a little bit of a reading slump.

This book has many different layers to it.  Firstly, you have the story of the tragedy that happened seven years ago, were two boys went swimming but only one came back.  You don't find out too much of that story and only learn bits and pieces of this all the way through until the very end.  You then have the story of two friends (the mothers of the two sons from the tragedy seven years ago).  You see their story from back  before they had children, through the tragedy and to the present day.  You then have the story of Jacob (who is the son of Sarah who survived the tragedy), seeing him trying to cope with what happened in the past and also learn to deal with what he is going through in the present day.

It does not happen very often where a book surprises me.  Not only did this story surprise me once, but twice!  I completely did not see the plot twists coming in this book and I loved it!  I cannot recommend this book or this author enough!






Continue reading Book Review / Last Seen by Lucy Clark

7 Apr 2019

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Book Review / The Partner by John Grisham

They watched Danilo Silva for days before they finally grabbed him. He was living alone, a quiet life on a shady street in Brazil; a simple life in a modest home, certainly not one of luxury. Certainly no evidence of the fortune they thought he had stolen. He was much thinner and his face had been altered. He spoke a different language, and spoke it very well.

But Danilo had a past with many chapters. Four years earlier he had been Patrick Lanigan, a young partner in a prominent Biloxi law firm. He had a pretty wife, a new daughter, and a bright future. Then one cold winter night Patrick was trapped in a burning car and died a horrible death. When he was buried his casket held nothing more than his ashes.

From a short distance away, Patrick watched his own burial. Then he fled. Six weeks later, a fortune was stolen from his ex-law firm's offshore account. And Patrick fled some more.

But they found him.


Published:     26th April 2005
Publisher:  Doubleday
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW


This was my first time reading this story and I loved it!  I have been slowing reading my way through John Grisham's books, starting from the very first one he wrote and published and I was looking forward to getting to this one as it was the first one on the list that I had not read yet.

What I liked the most was the fact that you are introduced to the main character, Danilo, at the start of the book and follow his journey throughout.  We slowly get to figure out who he is and what he was supposedly done.  I found it interesting to follow this character and also to follow the different organisations as they also investigate what is going on.

I have to be honest and say that I did see the ending coming but that was fine, for me the joy of reading this story was the journey rather than the destination.






Continue reading Book Review / The Partner by John Grisham

25 Mar 2019

Blog Tour Book Review / In the Full LIght of the Sun by Clare Clark

Based on a true story, this gorgeous new novel follows the fortunes of three Berliners caught up in an art scandal—involving newly discovered van Goghs—that rocks Germany amidst the Nazis’ rise to power.Hedonistic and politically turbulent, Berlin in the 1920s is a city of seedy night clubs and sumptuous art galleries. It is home to millionaires and mobs storming bakeries for rationed bread. These disparate Berlins collide when Emmeline, a young art student; Julius, an art expert; and a mysterious dealer named Rachmann all find themselves caught up in the astonishing discovery of thirty-two previously unknown paintings by Vincent van Gogh.

In the Full Light of the Sun explores the trio’s complex relationships and motivations, their hopes, their vanities, and their self-delusions—for the paintings are fakes and they are in their own ways complicit. Theirs is a cautionary tale about of the aspirations of the new Germany and a generation determined to put the humiliations of the past behind them.

With her signature impeccable and evocative historical detail, Clare Clark has written a gripping novel about beauty and justice, and the truth that may be found when our most treasured beliefs are revealed as illusions. 

Published:     9th July 2019
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher



MY REVIEW

I have to be honest and say that this is not normally the type of story that I pick up but I am really glad that I did.  This was a very interesting read, more about the characters than the story.

I have to admit that there were parts where I was a little confused by the characters and timeline, so please do correct me if I have understood it incorrectly.   This story is split into three different timelines, with most of them following the life of Emmeline and following the art to a certain degree.  In the first part, we start with an art dealer and collector where one of them forms a connection with Emmeline.  This part was more about the art with the dealer and the collector.  The second part and the third part is where I get a bit confused, but I think that was more about me, the reader, than the writing or the story.   We lost a few of the characters from the first part, that I was already getting to know and was looking forward to learning more about the story and we gained a few new characters, who right now I cannot remember.  I think the second part was more about Emmaline and watching her grow up and learn more about herself.   Honestly, I cannot recall the final part.

I did enjoy reading this novel but have to say that the first part was the best part for me.  I lost focus on the story somewhere in the middle of the second part and could not get it back.  I would have loved also to have known more about what was going on around the characters a lot more.   I also really liked the writing style and would certainly pick up another book by this author.




Continue reading Blog Tour Book Review / In the Full LIght of the Sun by Clare Clark

21 Mar 2019

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Blog Tour Book Extract / Two Silver Crosses by Beryl Kingston


Nobody is to know where we are. You must forget England. That part of your lives is over.’
Twins Ginny and Emily Holborn have everything they could ever need in their Wolverhampton home: a loving family, a garden to play in, and staff waiting to attend to their every need. Until, one summer day in 1926, they disappear without a trace.
Ten years later, bright-eyed solicitor Charlie Commoner is given his first job: track down the still-missing Holborn twins. Despatched to France, he’s left to unravel a web of infidelity, mystery, and terrifying family secrets.
Let bestselling author Beryl Kingston sweep you away on a journey from London to Paris, through tragedy and triumph in the search for two sisters wearing two silver crosses.
Two Silver Crosses was originally published in 1992.

PURCHASE LINKS






ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Beryl Kingston is the author of 30 novels with over a million copies sold. She has been a writer since she was 7 when she started producing poetry. She was evacuated to Felpham at the start of WWII, igniting an interest in one-time resident poet William Blake which later inspired her novel The Gates of Paradise. She was an English teacher from 1952 until 1985 when she became a full-time writer after her debut novel, Hearts and Farthings, became a bestseller. Kingston continued writing bestsellers for the next 14 years with titles ranging from family sagas to modern stories and historical novels. She currently lives in West Sussex and has three children, five grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren.
EXTRACT

Chapter One

Just turn over on your side, Mrs Holborn, dear,’ the midwife coaxed. ‘Turn on your side, there’s a good girl.’
Hortense Holborn was too far gone to understand her. She was very young and very frightened and to add confusion to fear the baby had started much too early. So instead of having her darling Edouard home on leave the way he’d planned it, he was away at the front fighting the Germans, or lying wounded somewhere or dying or blown to bits. Oh no, no, no. She mustn’t think that. If only he were here, safe in her arms, and she safe in his. If only… Oh this awful pain and this awful war that tears people apart! ‘Je’n peux pas!’ she groaned, retreating into her native language because she hadn’t got the energy to speak English. She hadn’t got the energy for anything, not even to lift her head from the pillow. ‘Je’n peux pas!’
I don’t think she can understand what you’re saying, Mrs Bonney,’ the midwife’s young assistant said. ‘She don’t seem to hear you, not to my way a thinking.’
Quite right, Joan,’ Mrs Bonney said. ‘But I’m sure she can hear, poor girl. She don’t understand, that’s the way of it. And no wonder with all this stopping and starting. It’s enough to try the patience of a saint.’
It had been a complicated labour. When it started, three exhausting days ago, it had seemed straightforward enough, although premature. But then for some unaccountable reason it had completely stopped and, despite hot baths and two enemas and three doses of castor oil, it had refused to start up again until early that morning. And now it was proceeding much too slowly for Mrs Bonney’s peace of mind.
For this was no ordinary confinement. For a start the poor girl was expecting twins, and at nineteen she was barely old enough for one baby leave alone two, and as if that weren’t complication enough, the babies would be the first grandchildren of the great Mr Holborn who owned GS Holborn’s Munitions, which was one of the biggest factories in the district, if not the biggest. And they were being born in his splendid house with a fine nursery waiting for them, all newly furnished and decorated, with enough toys on the shelves to stock a shop and the proverbial silver spoon ready for their mouths. So it certainly wasn’t the sort of confinement that could be taken easily by anyone concerned.
Turn on your side, Mrs Holborn, dear,’ the midwife tried again. ‘You’d be easier on your side.’
There was a discreet knock at the bedroom door. Mrs Bonney clicked her tongue with annoyance at being interrupted but signalled with her eyes that her assistant was to go and attend to it.
It was Miss Agnes Holborn, their patient’s sister-in-law, and to Mrs Bonney’s surprise she had a soldier standing beside her. It couldn’t be Mr Edward, could it? Surely not. Mr Edward was at the front. Everybody knew that. But it was, looking very fine in his officer’s uniform, polished boots, khaki cap and all.
How is she?’ he whispered, stripping off his gloves. His long face was drawn with anxiety and there were dark shadows under his eyes. ‘Agnes sent me a telegram. I got here as soon as I could. Please let me see her.’
His request put Mrs Bonney into a quandary. Ordinarily husbands would never be allowed into the bedroom while a labour was going on. It wasn’t hygienic. Or proper. Their place was outside pacing the carpet. But this was 1916 and they were all in the middle of a war, and he’d come all the way from the battlefield to be with this poor little French wife of his. And besides, he might be able to get her to do what they said, even if it wasn’t hygienic.
And while she was dithering, Hortense made up her mind for her, calling out to her husband in her own language, her face suddenly bright with renewed vigour, her voice stronger and more alive. ‘Edouard! Edouard! It is you, is it not, my love. Oh come to me quickly, quickly. I’m so frightened.’
He was into the room in three strides, regardless of permission, tossing his cap on to a chair, reaching the bed, sweeping her into his arms, holding her close, kissing her damp dark hair. ‘Don’t be afraid, my dearest. I’m here. You’re safe with me.’
Mr Edward,’ Mrs Bonney protested. ‘You can’t…’
But he could. He was. Smiling up at her with weary blue eyes, the light brown hair above his temples still pinched by the pressure of his cap, his long face tanned and more lined than she remembered it from the last time she’d seen him in the village, his expression clearly pleading with her. There was a scurry of frantic activity at the other end of the bed as Joan flung a sheet across their patient’s swollen abdomen for decency’s sake.
Oh dear,’ Mrs Bonney said. ‘I’m not sure this is…’
But he went on smiling at her, hopefully.
Very well,’ she decided. ‘You can stay. But just for a little while mind, because it really isn’t proper. We’ll rig a sheet up.’
You’re a pearl!’ Edward Holborn said.
So the sheet was rigged, with two ends tied to the tops of two high-backed chairs one on each side of the bed so as to stretch a screen of white cloth between the birth and its begetter. And as if his arrival were all the medicine Hortense needed, the labour began to speed up. Soon it had settled into an encouraging rhythm.
Now we’re getting somewhere,’ Mrs Bonney reported with great satisfaction from behind her screen. ‘Does she need a drink, Mr Edward, could you ask her?’
Hortense lay back in her husband’s arms and gave herself up to the power of the birth. When a contraction took hold there was nothing in the world except remorseless pain, squeezing and squeezing, but as it ebbed away Edouard was still there, sponging her forehead and kissing her fingers and telling her she was a dear, brave girl. And as long as he was there, she knew instinctively that she could and would get through, bad though it was. Her darling, darling Edouard, who loved her to distraction and whom she loved with all her heart. ‘Oh, Jesus mercy. Mary help,’ she prayed clutching his hand. ‘Here comes another one.’
The first baby was born as the evening began to draw in and the mirror over the mantelpiece turned rose with reflected light. A five-pound girl with a mop of thick dark hair, the skinniest legs, her father’s long nose and eyes so tightly shut they looked red and swollen.
Emilie,’ her mother said in English. ‘We’ll call her Emilie.’
Fifteen minutes later the second baby slid into the world. At four-and-three-quarter pounds she was even skinnier than her sister and had the same dark hair and the same matchstick limbs; but her eyes were open wide. They were large and round and very dark blue, and they gazed at the world in the wise, solemn way of the newly born. It was the sight of those eyes that lifted her parents to tears of wonder and happiness.
Virginie,’ her father said to her as she was placed in her mother’s arms beside her sister. ‘You have two names because you have two nationalities like your sister. Emily/Emilie. Virginia/Virginie. Isn’t your mother the cleverest girl to have two such beautiful babies?’
I only hope Mr Holborn thinks so,’ Mrs Bonney muttered to Joan behind the screen. Old Mr Holborn was a difficult man at the best of times and everyone knew he wanted grandsons to carry on the business.
But when he came in much later that evening to view the new arrivals the old man was quite taken with them. ‘They’re as like as two peas in a pod,’ he said to Hortense, putting down a rough forefinger for Virginia to grasp. ‘Two little funny faces, aren’t you? They’ve got your thick hair, my dear. But the Holborn nose, poor little things. Still I suppose we had to expect that, eh, Edward? We run to noses in this family.’
I think they’re beautiful,’ Edward said, giving his father a warning grimace.
They’ll do,’ Mr Holborn said. And for him that was praise. ‘How long are you staying?’
Ten days,’ Edward told him. ‘I’ve put my leave forward.’
You boys can wangle anything,’ his father said admiringly. ‘How’s it going out there?’
Oh much the same,’ Edward said laconically. ‘You know how it is.’
And his father agreed that he did. Although, in point of fact, like most other people back at home, he didn’t have the remotest idea about life in the trenches.
But what did any of that matter now, with these two delightful babies safely delivered and a midwife on call night and day and the young assistant, Joan, to live in and take care of them all?
I think they’re the prettiest little things I’ve ever seen,’ Agnes said. ‘You are lucky, Edward.’ And it wasn’t just his good fortune in having two new daughters that she was talking about.
Every time Agnes saw him with Hortense, caught up in the glow of their passion for one another, she yearned for and was envious of their obvious happiness. She couldn’t imagine anything better than to love like that and be loved in return. Not that it was likely to happen to her now, for she was twenty-eight, going on twenty-nine, with a plain rather pasty face, timid blue eyes, that awful Holborn nose and lank brown hair like her brother’s. And although she did her best to disguise the fact with flowing blouses, tunics and dresses that were cut very full, she was already developing the dumpy figure of a middle-aged woman. But there was no unkindness in her and her envy was more vicarious tenderness than jealousy. Love was wonderful; she knew it and was happy to bask in the reflected warmth of it, even if she couldn’t experience it herself. ‘You’re very, very lucky.’
Yes,’ her brother said. ‘I know. Your turn next, eh, Sis?’
Agnes decided it was best to ignore that. ‘They’re so alike,’ she said. ‘How will you tell them apart?’
That is easy for the moment,’ Hortense said, speaking English with her pretty French accent. ‘Emilie does not open her eyes.’
Shouldn’t she?’ Agnes said, stroking the baby’s silky head.
Oh, she’ll do it in time,’ Edward said. ‘Won’t you, poppet?’
But two days passed, and the baby’s eyes were still swollen and tightly shut. And when Mrs Bonney came in on the second evening to check her charges and settle them for the night both lids were decidedly sticky.
How long’s this been going on?’ she said to Joan, frowning down at the child.
There was no sign of it at her last feed. Was there, Mrs Holborn?’
Well, it won’t do!’ the midwife disapproved. She held out her hand to her assistant for cotton wool and cleaned both eyes thoroughly, throwing the pads into the nursery fire afterwards. ‘If they’re no better by the morning we shall have to have the doctor in. You’ll keep an eye on that, Joan, won’t you? Are they feeding well?’
Oh yes,’ Hortense said happily. ‘They are – how do you say? – gourmandes.’
Greedy,’ Mrs Bonney guessed. ‘That’s good.’ But she could see how well they were being fed from the colour of their skin and the way their limbs were already beginning to round out. A good mother, this little French girl, for all her youth and her apparent fragility. And very pretty in her foreign way with that olive skin and all that thick curly hair. It was the heart-shaped face that did it, and those big brown eyes. Always a fetching combination. It was a pity the babies didn’t take after her. But they’d probably grow better looking with time. Babies often did. ‘Now let’s have a look at you, my dear,’ she said. ‘Is my Joan looking after you?’
Oh yes,’ Hortense said again, smiling at Mrs Bonney’s assistant. ‘She is to keep me company tonight while the party is ’appening.’
Oh!’ Mrs Bonney said. ‘We’ve got a party, have we? Well we’ve certainly got something to celebrate.’
Ah no!’ Hortense said. ‘It is not for ze babies, you understand. It is for ze company. For GS Holborn’s.’
It’s their staff do,’ Joan explained. ‘They have it once a year.’
Mrs Bonney changed her mind about the party. ‘Well, I hope they don’t make a disturbance, that’s all I can say,’ she warned. ‘You need peace and quiet when you’re lying-in, my dear, and they should see that you get it.’
But, in fact, Mr Holborn’s staff parties were usually rather sober affairs because they were held in the great hall. A daunting place, built in the medieval style with oak beams and a minstrel gallery, it was two storeys high with huge windows stretching from floor to ceiling on one wall and a fireplace on another big enough to contain two wooden settles on either side of the fire.
Mr Holborn moved among his guests, talking to each in turn and checking they all had enough to eat and drink, but except for a handful who’d been with the company for a long time and were used to it, most of the guests were ill at ease. They shuffled their feet and cleared their throats when their employer approached and were obviously relieved when the annual ordeal was over.
Agnes Holborn was even more ill at ease than they were. She’d played the hostess at these events ever since her mother died when she was barely seventeen, but she’d never found it easy because she was shy in company and always conscious of how unattractive she was. But she felt she owed it to her father to do her best, so her best she dutifully did. At least at this party she had the babies’ arrival to talk about and the wives would be interested in that.
Which they were, of course, saying how lovely it must be and how nice to have twins and asking what they were to be called. And Agnes shared her good news so happily she didn’t notice that she was being watched.
She turned to move on to another table and found one of her father’s ‘young men’ standing in her way and smiling as though he knew her.
Miss Holborn?’ he said, giving her a little bow.
Yes,’ she said, returning the smile politely. ‘I don’t believe we’ve met, have we? Mr…?’
Everdale,’ he said. ‘Claud Everdale. I’m one of the sales team with the British Expeditionary Force.’
You’re in the army?’ she asked. All the young men she met seemed to be in the army these days.
This one wasn’t. ‘Not yet,’ he confided. ‘I’m part of the Derby scheme, so you won’t have to search for a white feather. I’ve taken the shilling and got my number and all that sort of thing, but they think I’m more use to them providing your father’s guns.’
I’m sure you are,’ she said, thinking what a handsome young man he was, so tall and dapper with his dark hair neatly oiled and a narrow moustache on his upper lip. And he was wearing a nice white shirt under his dark suit.
I know you’ll think this the most frightful cheek,’ he said, smiling at her, ‘but I suppose you wouldn’t honour me with a dance, would you? To tell you the truth I’ve only just joined the firm, so I don’t know anybody, and I’ve been looking at you for ages and you’ve got such a beautiful face that I wondered…’
Oh come now, Mr Everdale,’ Agnes protested. ‘I do have a mirror you know.’
I’m sure you have,’ he said. ‘But what does that show you? Features. That’s all you see in a mirror. I’m talking about your expression. Believe me, Miss Holborn, you have the most beautiful expression I’ve ever seen. Kind and loving, if you don’t mind me saying so. Really beautiful. But lots of men must have told you that…unless of course they were blind.’
Agnes didn’t know what to say because, of course, nobody had ever told her she was beautiful. She was confused and charmed and flattered, despite her honest knowledge of her own worth, or the lack of it. And besides, he was looking at her with such open admiration, how could she doubt what he said, ridiculous though it was? After all Hortense thought Edward was handsome and they did say beauty was in the eye of the beholder. ‘Well…’ she said finally.
He assumed a rueful expression but continued to gaze into her eyes. ‘I’ve offended you,’ he said. Then he shook his head as if he was changing his mind. ‘I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have spoken. It is cheek.’
No. No,’ Agnes said, plucking at her pearls.
But he continued. ‘I withdraw my request, Miss Holborn. I’ve no right to ask you anything. You wouldn’t want to dance with the likes of me.’
Oh no. Not at all,’ Agnes said, feeling she had to reassure him. Usually she retreated as soon as the music began because she was much too awkward to want to dance with anybody except Edward, but she could hardly say that when he’d asked her so politely, had said so many charming things and was looking at her like that. ‘I mean, I should be very happy to dance with you.’
His eyes flashed such excitement that it gave her a sudden frisson of pleasure. ‘You would?’ he said. ‘Oh, you don’t know what this means to me. Which one? Do I have to mark a card or anything?’
She was warmed by his ignorance. ‘We don’t use cards on these occasions, I’m glad to say,’ she explained. ‘My father likes things to be informal.’
Then may I claim the first dance you’ve got free?’
You may,’ Agnes said. And she was suddenly warm with hope. It was impossible, ridiculous. But she couldn’t help feeling it. The hope that at long, long last she’d found a man who would love her as Edward loved Hortense. Oh wouldn’t that be wonderful!
You’ve made me the happiest man in the room,’ he said, giving her another half bow and striding across the room to join the other salesmen who were standing against the wall.
Well?’ they asked him.
It’s in the bag,’ he said. ‘First dance. That’s ten bob you owe me, Jack.’
You toe-rag!’ his friend Jack said with admiration. ‘So now what? I suppose you’ll be marrying her next.’
Just watch me!’
She’s old enough to be your mother.’
Give it a rest. I’m twenty-two.’
And she’s pushing thirty.’
But she’ll inherit half the firm, Claud Everdale thought. Everybody in the company knows that. When old man Holborn goes it’s to be divided between her and her brother. And that was what was important. She’ll inherit half the firm and I’ve interested her already.









Continue reading Blog Tour Book Extract / Two Silver Crosses by Beryl Kingston