Tempted by….A Southern Girls Bookshelf: Sailing Lessons by Hannah McKinnon @SGBookshelf @HannahMcKinnon @AtriaBooks @EmilyBestler #SailingLessons #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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Wrenn Bailey has lived all her life on Cape Cod with her mother Lindy, older sister Shannon, and younger sister Piper. Growing up, life was dictated by the seasons with sleepy gray winters where only the locals stayed on, followed by the sharp influx and colorful bustle of summer tourists who swept up the elbow of the Cape and infiltrated their small paradise.

But it wasn’t just the tourists who interrupted Wrenn’s formative years; her father—brilliant but troubled photographer Caleb—has long made a habit of drifting in and out of his girls’ lives. Until the one summer he left the Cape and did not return again.

Now, almost twenty years later, Caleb has come back one last time, suffering from pancreatic cancer and seeking absolution. Wrenn and her sisters each respond differently to their father’s return, determined to find closure. But that means returning to the past and revisiting old wounds—wounds that cause the tightknit Bailey women to confront their own wishes and wants, and admit to their own wrong-doings over the years. In a place that brings both great comfort and great pain, the Bailey sisters experience a summer on the Cape that promises not only hard endings, but perhaps, hopeful new beginnings.

This week on Tempted by …. I have dug out my copy of Sailing Lessons by Hannah McKinnon, which I bought after reading this review by Monica on her blog, A Southern Girls Bookshelf.

I picked up on this book, mainly because of the setting on Cape Cod, which is always something that draws me to a story. Plus, the description of a book about relationships within families, especially between sisters, is something that is right up my street and I always find makes for an emotional and satisfying read. I am fascinated by human relationships, and families always have multiple levels of complications that provide mountains of ripe fodder for  good writer. Monica seemed to find the story rich and rewarding and her description was enticing enough to persuade me that I would enjoy it too.

I really enjoy visiting Monica’s blog as she and I seem to have similar taste in books but, whilst we read a certain amount of the same titles, she also has some very different titles on there that I would not come across otherwise – just like Sailing Lessons – and I always appreciate a chance to broaden my reading horizons. If you haven’t come across Monica’s blog before, you should pop on over and have a look at it here.

And if you like sound of Sailing Lessons, you can buy a copy of that here.

The Man Who Didn’t Call by Rosie Walsh Narrated by Katherine Press #BookReview #audiobook (@TheRosieWalsh) @panmacmillan @KatherinePress @audibleuk @TheFictionCafe @nickymaunder #FictionCafeBookClub #FictionCafeReadingChallenge2020 #challenges #freereading #TheManWhoDidntCall

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Imagine you meet a man, spend six glorious days together, and fall in love. And it’s mutual: you’ve never been so certain of anything. 

So when he leaves for a long-booked holiday and promises to call from the airport, you have no cause to doubt him. 

But he doesn’t call. 

Your friends tell you to forget him, but you know they’re wrong: something must have happened; there mustbe a reason for his silence. 

What do you do when you finally discover you’re right? That there is a reason – and that reason is the one thing you didn’t share with each other? 

The truth. 

This is the first book I have chosen this year as part of the 2020 Reading Challenge for my online book club, The Fiction Cafe Book Club. (If you love books, you must check it out, it is the friendliest part of the internet for bibliophiles). The challenge is to read a new book every fortnight that fits the prescribed category for that two-week period.

The first category is ‘A book which was an admin’s top five novel of 2019.’ I have vowed to try and pick unread books from my TBR to fit the challenge categories, rather than buy new ones. So I chose this book, which was one of Nicky Maunder’s top five books of 2019, as I had it already as an audiobook.

OMG, what did I just read/listen to? I knew this book had had a lot of hype but, somehow, I had failed to really read any reviews of it, so I was kind of going in to it cold. It started off quite slowly, and I wasn’t one hundred percent sold on it for the first quarter, I’d started to wonder what all the fuss was about to be honest.

Then, BAM! I’m not quite sure exactly when, or how, or why it happened but suddenly something changed and I was totally hooked. The story had wormed its way under my skin and I was desperate to keep listening to it and find out what was going on, because it became clear that this was no ordinary ‘boy meets girl’ story. There were all kinds of mysteries and clues and levels of complexity introduced to draw me through the story. Just when I thought I had go a handle on what might be happening, there was a slight twist and it threw me off course and back into bafflement as to what was going to happen. In the middle, there was a huge shock that turned all my suppositions on their head and altered my perspective on EVERYTHING that had gone before and, it was done so subtly than I was genuinely shocked to the tips of my toes and started to question all that I had listened to before.

Then, towards the end of the book, I realised that quietly and insidiously these characters had crept into my psyche and taken up root in my heart and I cared about them as if they were real people. I was riding the rollercoaster of emotions with them. I listened to the last few chapters whilst I was mucking out my ponies on Thursday and I found myself standing in the stable yard, bawling my eyes out, unable to see what I was shovelling through the tears and actually begging the author OUT LOUD not to do something to the characters that I was really afraid was going to happen. Yes, folks, this book was so good it drove me temporarily insane. Thankfully I was alone except for a fat, grey, Welsh pony and a big, black, Welsh cob that don’t seem to mind me acting a bit crazy as long as they get their oats.

This book broke me into tiny little pieces and then put me back together again. It is a masterpiece of character development and romantic tension. I have not read a book in quite a while that affected me quite so deeply and it moved me to a place for which I don’t really have adequate words. The narrative construction is perfect, I was genuinely shocked by turns this story took, and the author balanced the two main characters so well that it was impossible to decide who you cared for most. I absolutely loved it and, if I were to choose any book that I’ve read in the past twelve months that made me feel the way I wish I could make others feel with my writing, this would be it. Marvellous. Thank you for the recommendation, Nicky Maunder, I owe you one.

The Man Who Didn’t Call by Rosie Walsh is available now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Rosie Walsh has lived and travelled all over the world, working as a documentary producer and writer.

The Man Who Didn’t Call (UK) / Ghosted (US) is her first book under her own name, and was published around the world in 2018, going on to become an instant bestseller in several territories. It was a New York Times top five bestseller and topped the charts in Germany for several weeks.

Rosie lives in Bristol with her partner and son.

Prior to writing under her own name she wrote four romantic comedies under the pseudonym Lucy Robinson.

Connect with Rosie:

Website: https://www.rosiewalsh.com

Facebook: Rosie Walsh Writer

Twitter: @TheRosieWalsh

Instagram: @therosiewalsh

The Holiday by T. M. Logan Narrated by Laura Kirman #BookReview #Audiobook (@TMLoganAuthor) @laurakirman @ZaffreBooks @AudibleUK @NetGalley #NetGalley #TheHoliday

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Seven days. Three families. One killer.

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday, dreamed up by Kate as the ideal way to turn 40: four best friends and their husbands and children in a luxurious villa under the blazing sunshine of Languedoc-Roussillon.

But there is trouble in paradise. Kate suspects that her husband is having an affair, and that the other woman is one of her best friends. One of these women is willing to sacrifice years of friendship and destroy her family. But which one?

As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined.

Because someone in the villa is prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.

My thanks to the publisher for my digital copy of this book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

It’s a nightmare scenario, isn’t it? Being trapped on holiday for a week with people you aren’t getting on with. Even if some of those people are your lifelong best friends, once you have to share living space with them 24/7 for a week, along with their husbands, whom you may not love quite as much, and their children who may not have the same expectations in behaviour as yours do – tensions are bound to arise. Add in too much sun, too much wine, and you have a powder keg ready to explode.

Then, on top of this, imagine that you suspect your husband is having an affair, and his mistress is on elf the very same lifelong friends you are taking a holiday with, the situation will inevitably boil over before the week is out, in a very public setting.

This is the premise behind The Holiday, which was a book widely feted last year, and it certainly provides a book full of intrigue and strain with many twists and turns before its thrilling conclusion. And because it is a scenario so many of us can imagine for ourselves, or may even have experienced (although to a lesser degree, I hope!), it causes an intimate level of stress in our imaginations. ‘There too but for the grace of God, go I’ is always a powerful hook for a novel.

There is a fascinating array of characters in this novel, a lot of personality flaws explored and exposed, and some morally dubious behaviour in evidence, even from the people who are supposedly the ‘good guys.’ It begs the question, what would I do to protect my family, to protect my children from harm? How far would I be prepared to go if I found myself in this situation? Are my principles really as strong as I believe, when faced with a serious dilemma. Thinking of these things can make for an uncomfortable reading experience if you allow the book to take you there.

This book was a great, entertaining read with a fabulous rope of tension running through it and enough twists and turns and revelations to keep the reader hooked. highly recommended.

The Holiday is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Bestselling author TM Logan was a national newspaper journalist before turning to novel-writing full time. His latest thriller, The Holiday, is a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and spent ten weeks as a Sunday Times top ten bestseller in paperback, selling more than 200,000 copies to date. The Holiday takes place over a sweltering summer week in the south of France, as four best friends see the holiday of a lifetime turn into a nightmare of suspicion, betrayal and murder…

Tim’s debut thriller LIES was one of Amazon UK’s biggest ebooks of 2017, selling more than 400,000 copies and winning a Nielsen Bestseller Award. Together with his second standalone thriller, 29 Seconds (2018), his books are now published in 14 countries around the world including the USA, South Korea, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and the Netherlands.

His next novel, The Catch, is due to be published on June 11, 2020.

Tim lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two children, and writes in a cabin at the bottom of his garden.

Connect with T. M. Logan:

Website: https://www.tmlogan.com

Facebook: T M Logan Author

Twitter: @TMLoganAuthor

Instagram: @tmloganauthor

Single All The Way by Karen King #BookReview (@karen_king) @bookouture @NetGalley #NetGalley #SingleAllTheWay

 

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Snow is falling, bells are ringing… and my heart is broken. I pick up the phone to tell my mother about Oliver and me. Then right after I explain, she says, ‘I don’t exactly know how to tell you this, but you’re not the only one who is single again.’

Single together for the first time, 34-year-old Meg and her warm-hearted mother Sally decide to cancel Christmas, and run away to a tiny cottage on the Cornish coast. For Meg, it is the perfect place to heal, away from all the mistletoe, while for her mother it has a special, and secret, place in her heart – from a love story that seems a lifetime ago…

Meg and Sally find they’re getting to know themselves, and each other, better than ever before. But as they are unable to resist getting involved in the village Christmas celebrations, they encounter two handsome local strangers.

Sometimes, it’s being away from home that helps you realise where your heart is. What neither woman knows is that, by the time the new year rolls around, one woman will have fallen in love with their ex all over again, and one relationship will be over for good…

My thanks to the publisher for my digital copy of this book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is another ‘catch up’ post, where I try and review all the books I neglected in December! The only problem with this tardiness is, of course, that this is a Christmas book and it isn’t Christmas any more! Still, some people read festive books all year round. Or, maybe you are just looking for a nostalgic read to take you back to the sparkling, joyful days of the holidays and away from the depressing gloom of January. Or maybe you are starting a list for next Christmas. Hopefully this will help somebody, somewhere, somehow!

There are quite a few ‘running away from Christmas’ books around, but I have never read one that involves both a mother and daughter running away together. This USP of the book gives it a really interesting and different dynamic, and explores issues that are perhaps not something much of us give much thought to on a daily basis, beyond the normal mother-daughter relationships to thinking of our parents as separate human beings who have their own relationship problems. This leads to some awkward issues for the pair which the author thoroughly exploits to the benefit of the story.

I loved the location of a cottage in a Cornish village (always a winner!) and the couple getting involved in the local village celebrations. The book has a gorgeous, cosy, festive feel that is just the thing to warm your cockles on a cold, winter day, even when it isn’t Christmas. Beyond the festive fun, though, the book explores some difficult relationship issues with affection and sensitivity. It really moved me in parts, these are extremely common problems that people are dealing with on a daily basis, so I am sure the difficulties experienced by the characters will resonate with readers and give back a little more than festive froth.

The author’s voice is warm and approachable, the book was an easy read, but rewarding as well. A welcome addition to my roster of Christmas reading. I highly recommend it next time you are in mood for a festive book, whatever time of year that is.

Single All The Way is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Karen King is a multi-published, award-winning author of romantic novels and children’s fiction. She has had eight romance novels published to date, 120 children’s books, and several short stories in women’s magazines. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women  Writers and Journalists.

Connect with Karen:

Website: http://www.karenking.net

Facebook: Karen King Romance Author

Twitter: @karen_king

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley #BookReview (@lucyfoleytweets) @harpercollinsuk @NetGalley #NetGalley #TheHuntingParty

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In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather for New Year.

The beautiful one
The golden couple
The volatile one
The new parents
The quiet one
The city boy
The outsider

The victim.

Not an accident – a murder among friends.

My thanks to the publisher for my digital copy of this book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Books about murders amongst groups of people in remote settings seemed to be a bit of a thing for me last year. First up was In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, then In The Dark by Loreth Anne White, both of which I enjoyed very much. This kind of story, with a whiff of Agatha Christie’s Then There Were None about them, must have been having a bit of a moment. Or maybe it was just me and what I was drawn to. Anyway, The Hunting Party was the last one I got to and I did wonder whether there could be a new twist on a set up that I’d already read twice last year. However, this book had so much hype that I was still looking forward to reading it, and it did not disappoint.

Firstly, the author managed to create a great sense of place in this novel. I have spent a lot of time in very remote parts of Scotland, and the sense of isolation and loneliness that can surround you once you get that far from civilisation, particularly during bad weather when places can really get cut off, is very oppressive and quite unsettling for people who are used to living on our densely populated little island. It is quite hard to believe that such remoteness and inaccessibility can exist at not too great a distance from our crowded cities, and its perils and difficulties can be hard to comprehend for those who have never experienced it before. This atmosphere, expertly captured and magnified in the writing, used to its utmost menace in the plotting, really gives the book a gripping and intense sense of threat.

The characters are brilliantly drawn and imbued with depth and understanding. They feel like real people, and not all particularly pleasant ones, which gives us a rich buffet from which to select our murderer, but it is very hard to choose with the plentiful array of suspects served up. I honestly think I suspected every individual at different points within the novel and had no true idea who was going to be guilty at the end, or what their motive was. I must have changed my mind a dozen times as to who had done it, and turned the pages quicker and quicker to get to the resolution. The pacing was perfect and propelled me to the end without any dip in tension.

I set aside one quiet, lazy Sunday to read this book, and I devoured it cover to cover in a single sitting, with only short breaks for food and beverages and a dog walk. This is the perfect book in which to indulge in a proper reading session, one where you forget the outside world and totally immersive yourself in the narrative the author has created until you feel like you are part of the story and as desperate to find out who is the killer as the characters in the book. A fantastic whodunnit in the best traditions of the genre with a modern flair.

The Hunting Party is out now and you can get your copy here.

About the Author

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Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party is her debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination.

Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages. Her journalism has appeared in ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Grazia and more.

Connect with Lucy:

Facebook: Lucy Foley Author

Twitter: @lucyfoleytweets

Instagram: @lucyfoleyauthor

The Place We Call Home by Faith Hogan #BookReview #BlogTour (@GerHogan) @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books @VickyJoss1 @NetGalley #NetGalley #ThePlaceWeCallHome

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Welcome to Ballycove, the home of Corrigan Mills…

Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Irish countryside the famed mills have created the finest wool in all of Ireland. Run by the seemingly perfect Corrigan family, but every family has its secrets, and how the mills came to be the Corrigan’s is one of them…

Miranda and her husband were never meant to own the mills, until one fateful day catapults them into a life they never thought they’d lead.

Ada has forever lived her life in her sister’s shadow. Wanting only to please her mother and take her place as the new leader of the mill, Ada might just have to take a look at what her heart really wants.

Callie has a flourishing international career as a top designer and a man who loves her dearly, she appears to have it all. When a secret is revealed and she’s unceremoniously turfed out of the design world, Callie might just get what’s she’s been yearning for. The chance to go home.

Simon has always wanted more. More money, more fame, more notoriety. The problem child. Simon has made more enemies than friends over the years, and when one of his latest schemes falls foul he’ll have to return to the people who always believe in him.

Ballycove isn’t just a town in the Irish countryside. It isn’t just the base of the famous mills. It’s a place to call home.

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Place We Call Home by Faith Hogan today. My thanks to the author for asking me to take part and to Vicky Joss at Head of Zeus for my digital copy of the book, received via NetGalley. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

We ran out of heating oil on Saturday (due to a combination of a monitor on the blink and the distraction of Christmas – don’t ask.) As a result, our house has been freezing, just as Storm Brendan blew in. Brrrrrr!

Why am I telling you this? Because the one thing that has warmed me through while I’ve been waiting for a fuel delivery is reading this charming novel. It has left me with a happy glow, a bit like the Ready Brek kid from the advert, and I was both loathe and happy to get to the gorgeous ending.

Many of my favourite authors are Irish. Maeve Binchy, Cathy Kelly, Emma Hannigan, Marian Keyes all have pride of place on my bookshelf, because their writing is full of life and passion and warmth and real life characters. Faith Hogan is the latest name to be added to my list of go-tos when I am looking for a warm and genuine story full of Irish charm. This book brings Ireland to life within its pages, filling the story with the countryside, scenery and community of rural Ireland and its people. It tells the story of a village, the woollen mill that has put in on the map and kept its populace in jobs, and the family whose responsibility it is to keep the mill running. The story is told across dual timelines as we discover Meredith’s struggles with her grown children now, and her story growing up in Ballycove as a child and young woman, and how the repercussions from events then have shaped the future.

There is a great and realistic mix of characters in this book, not all of whom were likeable. In fact, I was surprised to read a couple of reviews of this book which said that the readers loved all of the characters, because I did not. (Just goes to show how we all react so differently to the same story!) Despite this, they were all believable, because not everyone in real life is likeable after all! I was fully involved in all of their stories from the beginning and, despite wanting to slap some sense into a least one of them, I was happy with the way everything played out in the end, and the very last paragraph made me sigh with happiness.

If you are looking for a gorgeous, feel-good read, with a good depth of story (someone else has referred to this as a saga, and I think it could indeed be classed as a mini version of such), set in a beautiful landscape with characters and a community you can care about, look no further. You absolutely will not be disappointed.

The Place We Call Home is out now and you can get a copy here.

Please do check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour too, for more reviews and other great content:

About the Author

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Faith Hogan is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author of five contemporary fiction novels. Her books have featured as Book Club Favorites, Net Galley Hot Reads and Summer Must Reads. She writes grown up women’s fiction which is unashamedly uplifting, feel good and inspiring.

She writes crime fiction as Geraldine Hogan – Her Sisters Bones is available now!

Faith gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway.

She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She’s a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger – except of course when it is raining!
Connect with Faith:

Website: https://faithhogan.com

Facebook: Faith Hogan Author

Twitter: @GerHogan

Instagram: @faithhoganauthor

Christmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar #BookReview (@KileyDunbar) @HeraBooks #ChristmasAtFrozenFalls

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Sylvie Magnusson is going to be lonely this Christmas. Instead of jetting off for her honeymoon, she’s freezing at home in Cheshire. Guess that’s what happens when your fiancé dumps you a week before your wedding…

Sylvie’s best friend, Nari, plans a trip to see the Northern Lights and get Sylvie’s mojo back. But as their Lapland getaway approaches, Sylvie realises that Frozen Falls is the hometown of Stellan Virtanen, her dreamy Finnish ex-boyfriend, the one that got away.

When they meet, Stellan’s still gorgeous – and her heart is warmed when he shows her the romantic delights of Lapland (as well as some adorable Husky puppies). But when she returns to England, can she really leave Stellan behind? Or will she find that her heart belongs in the frozen North?

I know the time has passed for many people for reading Christmas books, but some people read them all year round (including the author of this one!) and, if you don’t, you need to add this one to your list for next year before you forget.

This might be the most perfect Christmas romance book I’ve ever read. It has every ingredient that you need in the recipe for a wonderful Christmas story. Girl miserable/jilted/disappointed at Christmas? Check. Trip to idyllic wintery setting? Check. Hot but brooding man to provide love interest for under the mistletoe? Check. Numerous, seemingly insurmountable hurdles to romance? Check. Fun but wise best friend to provide sounding board/sage advice? Check.

So what makes this one different? Makes it stand out from the crowd? Well, if I knew the answer to what makes one Christmas book rise above the others, I’d be writing best-selling festive romance books myself, instead of reviewing other people’s, wouldn’t I? No, but seriously, it has a certain magical ingredient that has just made everything come together perfectly to produce a book that will give you the warm fuzzies and imbue you with that delicious, happy Christmas glow that we are all looking for when we pick up a book like this.

Kiley’s characters are warm and likeable, but not too perfect, and she puts them in situations which are extreme but not beyond the realms of our empathy. The setting is rich in every detail of a perfect winter getaway. Log cabins, roaring fires, snow, reindeer, wintry forests, northern lights, hot chocolate – but the attention to detail is marvellous and she remembers all the little touches that are the glittery icing on the Christmas cake. The book is also rippled through with a frisson of sexual tension that will warm even the frostiest of hearts under those thermal undergarments.

Chuck in a precipice of despair for tension, and you have yourself a winning formula. Any lover of Christmas romance should be asking Santa to slip this into their Christmas stocking next December – if you can bear to wait that long.

Christmas at Frozen Falls is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Kiley Dunbar is the author of heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places. Shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award for Debut Romantic Novelists 2019 for One Summer’s Night.

Kiley is Scottish and lives in England with her husband, two kids and Amos the Bedlington Terrier. She writes around her work at a University in the North of England where she lectures in English Literature and creative writing. She is proud to be a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a graduate of their New Writers’ Scheme.

Connect with Kiley:

Facebook: Kiley Dunbar Author

Twitter: @KileyDunbar