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.

Tempted by….Books From Dusk Till Dawn: Long Road From Jarrow by Stuart Maconie @susanhampson57 @StuartMaconie @EburyPublishing #LongRoadFromJarrow #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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Three and half weeks. Three hundred miles. I saw roaring arterial highway and silent lanes, candlelit cathedrals and angry men in bad pubs. The Britain of 1936 was a land of beef paste sandwiches and drill halls. Now we are nation of vaping and nail salons, pulled pork and salted caramel.

In the autumn of 1936, some 200 men from the Tyneside town of Jarrow marched 300 miles to London in protest against the destruction of their towns and industries. Precisely 80 years on, Stuart Maconie, walks from north to south retracing the route of the emblematic Jarrow Crusade.

Travelling down the country’s spine, Maconie moves through a land that is, in some ways, very much the same as the England of the 30s with its political turbulence, austerity, north/south divide, food banks and of course, football mania. Yet in other ways, it is completely unrecognisable.

Maconie visits the great cities as well as the sleepy hamlets, quiet lanes and roaring motorways. He meets those with stories to tell and whose voices build a funny, complex and entertaining tale of Britain, then and now.

So, it’s back, the feature where I highlight the persuasive power of book bloggers to drive book sales by showcasing books that my fellow bloggers have cajoling me into buying with their honeyed reviews. At the same time, I get to draw your attention to some of the magnificent blogs I follow and tell you what I love about them and why I trust their judgement in recommending books.

A word of warning, this feature stalled a couple of times last year for a variety of reasons, so some of these recommendations go back while. However, I believe that book recommendations age well, like a fine wine, rather than go off like fruit, so their enticing power still remains.

So, for the new year, I am telling you how I was Tempted by…. Books From Dusk Till Dawn to buy this copy of Long Road From Jarrow by Stuart Maconie. You can find the review that persuaded me to buy the book here, written by the lovely Susan Hampson who runs this blog.

Why was I drawn to this book? Well, I do like to read some non-fiction in amongst all the fiction I read, and I am particularly drawn to books of social commentary, which this is. I like the sound of a comparison between how the country and the places have changed in the 80 years between the original Jarrow march and Maconie’s recreation, and I think the book is particularly relevant given the recent upheavals and seismic changes taking place in this country over the past few years. I have read several of Stuart’s other books and I like his narrative style. I was particularly drawn by the personal connection than Susan said she felt with the book.

If you like the sound of Long Road From Jarrow, it is available in all formats by following this link. I also highly recommend that you pay a visit to Susan’s blog which you can find at Books From Dusk Till Dawn. The reason I love Susan’s blog so much is that she has a really interesting mix of books on there, not just the mainstream titles, and her reviews are always detailed, personal and mature.

This feature will be moving back to Mondays from next week, so do check out the next one.

Goldsboro Books’ Book of the Month Club @GoldsboroBooks @adamhamdy @AmyLloydWrites @LizMooreBooks #bookclub #firsteditions

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So, if you have been following my New Year posts, you will know that I have vowed not to buy any new books this year in an attempt to make some kind of dent in my out-of-control TBR, which is threatening to consume my house like one of those nightmare dwellings they visit on the TV hoarder shows, except hopefully a bit cleaner.

That being said, a bit like a smoker that needs nicotine patches to take the edge off giving up cold turkey, I knew I needed something to satiate my constant craving for new books while trying to cut back, and the solution I came up with was to join Goldsboro Books’ Book of the Month Club..

My rationale was that getting one beautiful, signed limited first edition title per month would be enough to keep me happy, as well as being a good investment in a possible future collectible title. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.)

I signed up in December, rather than wait for January, because I really wanted the lush special edition of Black 13 by Adam Hamdy, which was the December Book of the Month. I also got a signed copy of The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd as a free gift. Both books are numbered copies of first editions and came packaged beautifully and carefully, like the precious items they are. Watch out for reviews coming soon.

I am currently waiting for delivery of the January Book of the Month, which is Long Bright River by Liz Moore. Watch out on the blog for reviews of this and the future monthly titles.

Top Ten Books of 2019 (@AuthorSusanB @tgarvisgraves @MrsAmandaProwse @anne_atkins @Jessica_Norrie @will_carver @JenniKeer @writercrow @LouiseWriter @charliemackesy @ajpearcewrites) @ocelotpress @orionbooks @malcomdown @OrendaBooks @AvonBooksUK @AtlanticBooks @AllenAndUnwinUK @picadorbooks @EburyPublishing @RaRaResources @Tr4cyF3nt0n @LoveBooksGroup @annecater

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It’s that time of year again, when I try to narrow down my favourite books from the 165 I read in 2019 to just ten. The task hasn’t got any easier, I loved so many of the books I read this year, but these are the ones I am recommending as the most rewarding of the bunch. These are the books that entertained me, challenged me, moved me and, ultimately, stayed with me long after I had turned the final page.

The books don’t have to have been published in 2019, just be ones that I have read for the first time this year. Here we go:

= 10. The Ghostly Father by Sue Barnard

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(Okay, so I failed miserably at the first hurdle and could not narrow it down from 11. So sue me!)

=10 The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

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9. The Things I Know by Amanda Prowse

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8. An Elegant Solution by Anne Atkins

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7. The Magic Carpet by Jessica Norris

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6. Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

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5. The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker by Jenni Keer

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4. The Illumination of Ursula Flight by Anna-Marie Crowhurst

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3. Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

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2. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

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  1. Dear Mrs Bird by A. J. Pearce

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So there we go, those are my choices of my favourite reads of 2019. Do you approve or are you currently screaming at your screen in rage at my dire reading tastes? Please feel free to engage me in debate. Have you read and enjoyed any of my choices or will you be adding them to your 2020 reading list? Let me know. What were your top reads of 2019?

 

 

 

Tempted by….Jen Med’s Book Reviews: Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir @JenMedBkReviews @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks #Trap #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one…and Iceland.

Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all…Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.

Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

So, around a year ago, I launched a series highlighting books that I have been enticed to buy by reading reviews by my fellow bloggers, after the efficacy of book bloggers in prompting book sales was called in to question.

I know that book bloggers are effective at generating sales for authors because, since I started blogging and reading more reviews by my fabulous fellow bloggers, I have been tempted to buy more and more books, to the extent that I have had to buy three new bookcases in the last year and my Kindle is over-flowing.

The series stalled earlier in the year due to health issues, but I have decided to resurrect it, as I still had a lot of inspiring bloggers on my list when it faltered, and have been tempted by even more in the interim. I apologise that some of the posts referenced are quite old, but rest assured that all the bloggers featured are still active and still writing fantastic reviews to guide us in our book buying choices, so do check out their blogs for up to date content.

The first book and blog featured in this revised series is the utterly marvellous Jen Med’s Book Reviews and this review of Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir, the second book in her Reykjavik Noir trilogy. Actually, Jen’s review now only inspired me to buy Trap, but also the first book in the series, Snare and I am looking forward to finishing off the trilogy with Lilja’s new book, Cagewhich is out next month.

I love the detail in Jen’s review, which gives you a taste of the book and all the salient points that are going to draw you in to the book, but she manages to do it without giving away any spoilers. This is a real skill for a book blogger and one that Jen displays in all of her reviews. As someone who is quite verbose in her own reviews, I love a detailed blog post and the fact that Jen is a no nonsense but enthusiastic blogger makes her reviews ones that I always take the trouble to read because I know I am going to get the truth of how good or not a book is, with no flannel or waffle.

Jen has a lot of other good stuff on her blog, especially in her weekly wrap ups, and I always get the feeling that I am getting to know a genuine person here, rather than just an anonymous person behind a keyboard. This is important when you are trying to work out if someone is going to be on your wavelength when it comes to book tastes. She is also a huge supporter of other bloggers and active member of the blogging community and I would highly recommend her blog as one that avid book lovers should be following. She has access to all the good stuff! Make sure you check out her blog here.

Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir is available now in paperback here, along with the preceding title, Snare, which you can get by following this link. The final book in the trilogy, Cage, will be published on 17 October and you can pre-order it here.

 

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson #BookReview @cox_eleanorc31 #SummerReading #freereading #readingrecommendations

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An elderly artist and her six-year-old grand-daughter while away a summer together on a tiny island in the gulf of Finland. As the two learn to adjust to each other’s fears, whims and yearnings, a fierce yet understated love emerges – one that encompasses not only the summer inhabitants but the very island itself.

Written in a clear, unsentimental style, full of brusque humour, and wisdom, The Summer Book is a profoundly life-affirming story. Tove Jansson captured much of her own life and spirit in the book, which was her favourite of her adult novels. 

So, my cousin Eleanor lent me this book about a year ago and urged me to read it as soon as possible because she thought I would love it. My family and friends don’t recommend books to me very often because I have usually read everything before they get their mitts on it and I am recommending it to them or, in the case of my friend, Mary, because she thinks I won’t like it. This mostly tells me that my friend, Mary, does not read my blog or she would know that I will read almost anything and my tastes are wide, diverse and not particularly highbrow. (I will wait and see if she mentions this review to me as a way of testing whether or not I am correct!)

Anyway, bloggers being bloggers, I have had this book on my TBR ever since and had not found a slot in which to, well slot it, until I gave myself a summer off blog tours to do some free reading. I wish I had not waited so long because she was right, I did love it.

This book is the story of a young girl and her grandmother whiling away a summer on a remote island off the coast of Finland. Whilst not specifically written as a biography, the book is based on the author’s own childhood experiences and you can feel the love and affection for these memories she had shining from the page.

The book is an unusual construction, more akin to a series of related short stories or anecdotes than a linear tale, but I think this is part of its charm. It is a series of snapshots of events that stand out in the course of a summer when the rest of the days were probably all much the same, as summer days tend to be. And when I say stand out, they stand out in small and insignificant ways by and large, because mostly nothing huge happens. But this is the way of childhood, the things that are important are things that are insignificant when we get older and busier and more wrapped up in adult concerns. We don’t have the time to focus on the millions of tiny miracles that happen every day. These are the privileges of childhood and, as evidenced by this book, of old age when life again slows down and we can appreciate what is around us once again. Life come full circle, generations in tune.

This is the beauty of this book, the gentle, slow, true understanding and affection between these two generations sharing a quiet, slow summer on a small island. There are misunderstandings and arguments, moments of sadness, moments of fear, moments of joy and lots and lots of love. It really portrays a warm and real and beautiful relationship between two people and it really made me feel happy and hopeful. I will repeat that – happy and hopeful. What more could anyone ask for from a book? An unusual but very special read that deserves a place on anyone’s bookshelf, to be reached for a times when one’s soul needs a salve. Thank you for the recommendation, Eleanor. Oh, and happy birthday. xx

You can get a copy of The Summer Book by Tove Jansson here.

About the Author

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TOVE JANSSON (1914-2001) is revered around the world as one of the foremost children’s authors of the twentieth century for her illustrated Moomin chapter books.