Tempted by….Crime By The Book: In The Vines by Shannon Kirk @crimebythebook @ShannonCKirk @AmazonPub #InTheVines #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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Family ties so strong you can’t escape…

Mary Olivia Pentecost, known as Mop, was born into one of the wealthiest families in the country—and one of the most guarded. Now, two years after her mother’s mysterious death, Mop is seeking closure on the disquieting tragedy by returning to the New England seaside estate of her cloistered Aunty Liv—once her closest relative and confidante.

But behind the walls of the isolated estate, the shadows of the past are darker than Mop imagined. The puzzles of the family history are not to be shared, but unearthed. With each revelation comes a new, foreboding threat—and for Mop, the grave suspicion that to discover Aunty Liv’s secrets is to become a prisoner of them.

How well do we know the people we love? How well do we want to know them? The answers are as twisted as a tangle of vines in this throat-clutching novel of psychological suspense.

Today’s Tempted by … is In The Vines by Shannon Kirk, a psychological thriller than I was compelled to buy after reading this review on Crime By The Book blog.

I was really drawn to this book by this review for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is set in one of my favourite locales, New England, and Abby (the person behind this excellent blog) states that the writing really brings the locale to life in all its crumbling glory. Secondly, Abby describes the story as immersive, and this is one of the main things I am looking for in a good book, the ability to be completely transported from real life into the story, so I am living, breathing and feeling it along with the characters. When someone of Abby’s credentials mentions this as the strength of  a book, any sensible person is going to take notice.

Everything about this book just jumps out as something I will enjoy from this review, from the rich prose to the insane characters, and this review is the perfect example of why I love Abby’s blog so much. Her reviews are so well-considered and detailed. She really explains what she does and does not love in a book and exactly why so that the reader can make an informed decision as to why this may or may not be the book for them. I doubt anyone who buys a novel on the strength of one of Abby’s reviews is going to feel short-changed.

If you have been equally tempted by this review, you can buy a copy of In The Vines here.And fans of crime novels should definitely check out more reviews onCrime By The Bookif you haven’t already.

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.

Merry ‘Twixmas! Looking back, looking forward @TheFictionCafe @RNATweets @lord_dodo @moleskine #RomanticNovelistsAssociation #NewWritersScheme #bookblogger #bookbloggers #bookblog #amreading #amwriting #readinggoals #writinggoals #blogginggoals

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It’s a funny time of year, isn’t it, the week between Christmas and New Year? No one knows what day of the week it is or what they should be doing. Everything seems to come to a standstill, the world taking a breath between the excitement of Christmas past and the promise of the new year yet to come. A great time for a bit of introspection, muse on the year past, plan for the one about to start.

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That’s what I have been doing the past couple of days, anyway. My girls were staying with their dad, the Irishman flew off to Dublin for a few days with his parents, I had the house to myself and some time for contemplation and organisation. I tidied up the Christmas detritus, got out my new diary and calendar ready to fill with blogging and writing goals for the year ahead, and had a think about what I want to achieve and how I’m going to do it.

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2019 was a very busy year on the blog. I did loads of blog tours, read a massive 165 books in total. Friday Night Drinks grew in popularity and I had some great guests and I increased my following. On the downside, my TBR grew ever more massive and out of control, I neglected the travel and writing areas of my blog and failed miserably to complete my two reading challenges because I over-faced myself with blog tour commitments and could not devote as much time as I wanted to free reading. My NetGalley backlog also grew to the point where I got turned down for a couple of books because of my abysmal ratio. Something needs to be done.

So, bearing all of this in mind, what lies in store for 2020 and what are my plans?

My Friday Night Drinks and Tempted by… features are both fully booked and planned to June, so they will be carrying on as before. I will be setting my Goodreads Reading Challenge target at 150 again, with the hope that I can exceed it as I have the last two years. I have decided against doing any other external reading challenges, as I don’t need the pressure. Instead, I will make a second attempt at doing my Desert Island Books (more detail on that to come in January.) I am also determined to be more diligent with the Travel, Bucket List and Writing areas of my blog and have diaried in some regular features for these. I’m looking forward to getting a bit more variety in to the blog.

In an attempt to get some control over my NetGalley ratio and TBR, I have decided to go back to the original aim of the blog as set out in my first ever blog post and buy no new books in 2020, or request any more from NetGalley. I’ll just be reading the ones I already have. Unfortunately, these means cutting right back on blog tours to free up reading time. I’m limiting myself to a maximum of two per month after January and February (where I have already committed to more than two!). I am allowing myself to receive my one Book Club book each month, and spend my monthly Audible credit. I have a few books on pre-order which I will let stand. Other than that, I’ll not be buying anything new, but reviewing what I already have, as randomly selected from my book jar. I’m actually looking forward to the challenge. I got a few book-themed Christmas gifts to see me on my way too.

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(Fear not, dear authors with books being published in 2020, I will be making a list ready for when the ban is lifted!)

I had a bit of an epiphany back in the spring when I had Bell’s Palsy and could not read for six weeks due to issues with my left eye. I had always been a little snobby about audiobooks not being ‘proper reading’ and had never counted them in my reading totals. Well, I have to say, audiobooks were my lifeline during those long boring days of illness and now I am as zealous a convert as St. Paul on the road to Damascus. I am listening to them at every opportunity and, in fact, my favourite book of the year was consumed in audio format. So, in 2020, I will be listening to even more audiobooks and reviewing more of them on my blog.

After a couple of lax months at the end of the year, I also plan on making sure I review every book I read or listen to next year (unless I hate it) and being more engaged with other people’s blogs in the new year.

On the writing front, I’m back in the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme for the third year, and I am determined that this is the year that I start submitting my book to agents and publishers. I’m planning on attending some RNA events again this year, including conference in July, so I hope to share some of that journey with you. My very kind and wise friends have supplied me with some lovely Christmas gifts to help me along, including this gorgeous Story Box gift from my lovely friend Mary-Louise and a Smithson notebook from the Irishman (a hint to get the book finished, perhaps?)

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As far as travel goes, I currently have nothing booked, which is unusual, but I have last year’s trips still to share and I am sure there will be things planned soon, so watch this space!

All in all, I am excited for the coming year, and all that it is going to bring for me, and for the blog. I hope you will continue on this journey with me, share the highs and the lows and, most of all, the book love. After all, it is fairly meaningless without all of you. Thanks for being here and

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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.

 

Tempted by….The Orangutan Librarian: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver @orangutanreads @OliverBooks #BrokenThings #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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It’s been five years since Mia and Brynn murdered Summer Marks, their best friend, in the woods

Increasingly obsessed with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn and by their fan-fiction imagining of its sequel, the girls were drawn by an undertow of fantasy into the magical world they’d created. But eventually, their delusions turned sick, and the Shadow, Lovelorn’s central evil, began to haunt them.

Or so the story goes. The only thing is: they didn’t do it

Brynn and Mia have both found different ways to hide from their notoriety, seeking refuge from a world that hates them-a world that will never feel magical, or safe, ever again.

On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as past and present, fiction and reality, begin again to intertwine, Brynn and Mia must confront painful truths they tried for so long to bury-and face the long shadow of memory that has, all this time, been waiting.

Today’s Tempted by… is Broken Things by Lauren Oliver which I discovered via this review on this blooming marvellous blog, The Orangutan Librarian.

Obviously, the reviewer was extremely enthusiastic about this book which first drew me to it but then it was the detail of the plot and all the things she loved about it that made me want to buy it. The central premise for the plot sounds fascinating (teenage girls being drawn into murder by their obsession with an imaginary world, it immediately made me think of the movie, Heavenly Creaturesand the promise of not one, but possibly two, unreliable narrators was appealing. The idea of a book that is a whodunnit with lots of red herrings and twists and turns, plus a book within a book, all of the things the reviewer said she loved about it would be things that I would be attracted to in a book so I knew I had to get this one. Any book that The Orangutan gives five bananas too has to be worth a look, especially when it is described as earth-shattering.

I absolutely love The Orangutan Librarian blog. Firstly, anyone who names their blog after a character in the Discworld is a person on my wavelength from the get go and the content bears this out. The posts on the blog are an eclectic and fun mixture of book reviews, movie reviews, topical pieces and general chit chat, opinions, ranting and lists. I really love the lists. The author has a very similar sense of humour to my own, I love the often irreverent reviewing style and the fact they go off at a random tangent. Plus, they are not afraid of giving an opinion. I feel a really affinity with them and I always enjoy reading their blog posts. Make sure you go and check it out, if you enjoy my blog, I think you will like it. You can find the blog here.

If, like me, her review has tempted you to want to read Broken Things for yourself, you can buy a copy here.

Tempted by….Swirl And Thread: Honeysuckle and Custard Creams by Deirdre Foley @swirlandthread #HoneysuckleAndCustardCreams #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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It’s 1978 and Sinead Reilly, a university student across the water, has mixed feelings about returning to Northern Ireland. Called home by her family, she must confront the past she thought she’d escaped. It’s a trip back in more ways than one.

We meet the ten-year-old Sinead who just wants to play with her friends and look out for her brothers and sisters, but she finds herself caught in an undercurrent of distrust and political unrest that she doesn’t understand. Her parents, Mairead and Paddy, tell their sides of the story too, as they navigate the difficulties of raising a large family in an increasingly divided society.

Set in the early years of the Troubles, Honeysuckle and Custard Creams explores the enduring nature of familial ties, and the challenges of escaping a shared history in which shame and remorse are never far from the surface.

Today’s Tempted by… is a book which hasn’t had a lot of publicity, but would appear to be a hidden gem from reading this review as featured on the blog  Swirl and Thread written by the lovely Mairead,. The book is Honeysuckle and Custard Creams by Deirdre Foley.

We follow the main character of Sinead, as she returns to her home in Northern Ireland after years spent away and hear about life for a family against the back drop of the Troubles in the early 1970’s. This is a period of history that fascinates me, and is particularly relevant given the political drama we are experiencing in Britain today, so this sounded like a book that would interest me.

In her review, Mairead describes it as a intimate and truthful portrait of a family that feels so real it could be a memoir, with an emotive and sensitive portrayal of what it felt like to live in the strained atmosphere of Belfast with tensions between factions at their highest and the pressure increased by the arrival of British troops. One of the main reasons I love to read is to try and put myself in to the shoes of people who have lived different lives to mine and learn through their experiences. If this book feels as authentic as Mairead describes, I look forward to getting a new perspective on the experience of living through the Troubles as a child.

I love to read Mairead’s reviews, which I always find very perceptive and thoughtful and clearly delivered. She obviously puts a lot of time and effort in to producing them, which is very rewarding for the reader and you will get a clear idea of whether the book she has reviewed is for you or not from her critique. She also features many interesting guest posts and author question and answer posts on the blog, so it is a great place to visit if you like to learn more about the drive and inspiration behind some great authors and novels. I really hope you will go and check her blog out, I’m sure you will be glad you did.

If you would like to get a copy of Honeysuckle and Custard Creams for yourself, you can buy it here.

About the Author

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Deirdre Foley was born in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. She studied and worked in London as a welfare officer before moving to Athens, where she lived for many years teaching English and bringing up her two daughters. Now she is a writer and a gestalt psychotherapist.

She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, and in 2014 she was shortlisted for the Fish Short Memoir Competition.

She flits between her two homelands, Ireland and Greece, and is working on a second novel.