Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland #BookReview #BlogTour (@22_ireland) @PolygonBooks @LoveBooksGroup #BoneDeep #LoveBooksGroupTours

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“What happens when you fall in love with the wrong person? The consequences threaten to be far-reaching and potentially deadly.

Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder. This is the story of two women: Mac, who is bent on keeping the secrets of the past from her only son, and the enigmatic Lucie, whose past is something of a closed book. Their story is underpinned by the creaking presence of an abandoned water mill, and haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, themselves rivals in love, and ready to point an accusing finger from the pages of history.”

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland. My thanks to Kelly Lacey of Love Books Group for the invitation and to the publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This book is very different to anything I have read recently. A contemporary novel with a Gothic slant that is a slow burn but utterly compelling and powerful. It really took me buy surprise.

It is told in alternating chapters in the first person voices of Mac and Lucie, which gives us two very different perspectives on the narrative. Mac is a retired history lecturer writing her first fiction book based on local folk lore, who becomes increasingly obsessed with the local legend of two sisters and their fraught relationship. Lucie is a woman running from her own family problems who arrives on Mac’s doorstep hiding a secret of her own, to take up the position as Mac’s Girl Friday. As time passes, their relationship becomes increasingly fractured as the past and present narratives begin to take parallel turns, secrets are revealed and Mac’s mental health seems to unravel alarmingly.

This book has a very small cast of characters, a tight plot, limited scope of place and a slow pace, but it is completely engrossing. I was totally enthralled from page one and read the whole thing in a single day, as I simply could not put it down, and this is purely due to the consumate skill of the writing.

The characters are brilliantly drawn, and their journey through the book and the way they develop from start to finish, starting off seemingly fairly ordinary but gradually revealing their secrets over the course of the book in a way that paints them in a totally different light to us by the end, is masterful. I started off with one set of opinions and had a totally different viewpoint by the end.

The plot is very cleverly drawn, interwoven with scenes from Mac’s book and the story of the two sisters, which may or may not be based on historical fact; the lines between fact and fiction, truth and lies, past and present become increasingly blurred until neither the reader nor the characters are entirely sure what real and what is imaginary and we are left trying to work out what really happened right until the end of the book. It makes the book seem to exist in a slightly other-worldly, dreamlike state which I really loved.

This impression is compounded by the setting which is so atmospheric and wonderfully captured in the author’s descriptions. The decrepit old mill, which starts up at odd times of day and night, the ramshackle Miller’s Cottage with its winding corridors and strange noises and Mac’s disorganised and chilly house which she is reduced to closing off in large part to preserve heat. It all adds up the menacing and increasingly creepy atmosphere and its remoteness increases the feeling of being cut off from reality. The setting is oppressive and this feeling ramps up as the events in the book grow increasingly dangerous. It was perfectly portrayed and an integral part of my enjoyment of the book.

The author’s use of language is beautiful. I revelled in phrases such as ‘The pond, blackberry-dark, glints juicily under the full moon.’ The book is studded with gorgeous and evocative language that I had to stop and just savour for a moment before moving on. However, the book also flows brilliantly, drawing you form chapter to chapter. It was a joy to read.

I loved this book. It is totally unique, original and gripping. It got under my skin and had me thinking about it for a long time afterwards. It really made an impression on me, which is the most one can ask for from a good read.

Bone Deep is out now and you can purchase a copy here.

If you would like to read other bloggers’ opinions of the book, you can follow the tour here:

Bone Deep

About the Author

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Sandra Ireland was born in England but lived for many years in Éire before returning ‘home’ to Scotland in the 1990s. She is the author of Beneath the Skin, a psychological thriller, which was shortlisted for a Saltire Literary Award in 2017. Her second novel, Bone Deep, a modern Gothic tale of sibling rivalry, inspired by an old Scottish folktale, will be published in the UK by Polygon in July, and in the US (Gallery) and Germany (Penguin) next year. She also writes poetry, often inspired by the seascapes of Scotland’s rugged east coast. Her poems have been widely published in anthologies, including Seagate III (Dundee), and New Writing Scotland. She won the Dorothy Dunbar Trophy for Poetry, awarded by the Scottish Association of Writers, in 2017 and 2018. Sandra is Secretary of Angus Writers’ Circle and one third of the Chasing Time Team, which runs writing retreats in a gloriously gothic rural setting.

Connect with Sandra:

Website: https://sandrairelandauthor.com

Facebook: Sandra Ireland Author

Twitter: @22_ireland

Instagram: @sireland22

Goodreads: Sandra Ireland

WEEKLY BOOK SPY – What books have I spotted out in the wild this week? #WeeklyBookSpy @MillerMadeline @patriciascanl18 @harari_yuval @SJMaas @GailHoneyman

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I have to confess, when it comes to books, I am a real nosey parker. I am always looking to see what other people around me are reading, popping in their trolley at the supermarket, carrying out of the library or browsing in a book shop.

I was thinking about this over this weekend, as I have been in prime book spotting territory – a spa. Loads of people lounging about with a book, walking around with one clutched under their arm – I find it fascinating. The rise of the e-reader has frustrated this hobby slightly, as it is much harder to discreetly sneak a peek at what someone is reading on their Kindle. But there are still enough people reading physical books for me to spy on, thank goodness.

I decided I would start this new feature, rounding up what books I seen being read out and about each week to give a flavour of what people are enjoying and what might be inspiring additions to my own TBR.

So what books have I spotted out in the wild this week?

Circe by Madeline Miller

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In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

Orange Blossom Days by Patricia Scanlan

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In a beautiful southern Spanish town, where the sea sparkles and orange blossoms scent the air, the gates of a brand new apartment complex, La Joya de Andalucía, glide open to welcome the new owners.

Anna and Austen MacDonald, an Irish couple, are preparing to enjoy their retirement to the full. But the demands of family cause problems they have never foreseen and shake their marriage to the core.

Sally-Ann Connolly Cooper, a feisty Texan mother of two young teenagers, is reeling from her husband’s infidelity. La Joyabecomes a place of solace for Sally-Ann, in more ways than one.

Eduardo Sanchez, a haughty Madrileño, has set out with single-minded determination to become El Presidente of the complex’s management committee. But pride comes before a fall.

Jutta Sauer Perez, a sophisticated German who aspires to own her very own apartment in La Joya, works hard to reach her goal. Then the unthinkable happens.

As their lives entwine and friendships and enmities develop, it becomes apparent that La Joya is not quite the haven they all expect it to be…

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

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Alaska, 1974. Untamed. Unpredictable. A story of a family in crisis struggling to survive at the edge of the world, it is also a story of young and enduring love.

Cora Allbright and her husband Ernt, a recently-returned Vietnam veteran scarred by the war, uproot their thirteen year old daughter Leni to start a new life in Alaska. Utterly unprepared for the weather and the isolation, but welcomed by the close-knit community, they fight to build a home in this harsh, beautiful wilderness.

At once an epic story of human survival and love, and an intimate portrait of a family tested beyond endurance, The Great Alone offers a glimpse into a vanishing way of life in America. With her trademark combination of elegant prose and deeply drawn characters, Kristin Hannah has delivered an enormously powerful story that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the remarkable and enduring strength of women.

About the highest stakes a family can face and the bonds that can tear a community apart, this is a novel as spectacular and powerful as Alaska itself. It is the finest example of Kristin Hannah’s ability to weave together the deeply personal with the universal.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

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In the company of his friend Stephen Katz (last seen in the bestselling Neither Here nor There), Bill Bryson set off to hike the Appalachian Trail, the longest continuous footpath in the world. Ahead lay almost 2,200 miles of remote mountain wilderness filled with bears, moose, bobcats, rattlesnakes, poisonous plants, disease-bearing tics, the occasional chuckling murderer and – perhaps most alarming of all – people whose favourite pastime is discussing the relative merits of the external-frame backpack.

Facing savage weather, merciless insects, unreliable maps and a fickle companion whose profoundest wish was to go to a motel and watch The X-Files, Bryson gamely struggled through the wilderness to achieve a lifetime’s ambition – not to die outdoors.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yoval Noah Harari

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FIRE gave us power

FARMING made us hungry for more

MONEY gave us purpose

SCIENCE made us deadly

This is the thrilling account of our extraordinary history – from insignificant apes to rulers of the world.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

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Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

Of these, I have only read the Sarah J Maas and Bill Bryson books. The Patricia Scanlan and Eleanor Oliphant are on my TBR (I know, it’s shameful I haven’t read it yet, I’m saving it for my holidays). I really like the sound of the Kristin Hannah book.

If you’d like to share what books you have spotted out and about this week, please join in and remember to tag me!

 

#BlogTour Ask Me To Dance by Sylvia Colley #bookreview (@SylviaColley) @MuswellPress @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours #AskMeToDance

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“Rose Gregory has suffered a devastating blow, a double bereavement from which months later she is still reeling. Sanctuary and rest are prescribed by her doctor. But when she arrives at her refuge, a dank and decaying Monastery, she finds it is not the haven promised. Despite the veneer of calm contemplation, the Monastery turns out to be a hotbed of intrigue and disharmony. Rose witnesses bullying and cruelty and ultimately in defence of the vulnerable turns to violence herself.

Sylvia Colley’s extraordinary understanding of a woman s struggle to deal with grief, the denial, the anger, the loneliness, is described without sentimentality. A beautifully written and moving story.”

Today I am delighted to be the first stop on the blog tour for Sylvia Colley’s beautiful new novel Ask Me To Dance. Thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Where to start describing this extraordinary book? It is a book that is impossible to categorise and very different to anything I have read recently, neither of which are negatives. I was drawn into the book from the beginning, held throughout and left thinking about it long after I finished it.

The protagonist is Rose, a woman in the grip of a grief that has driven her to the edge of madness. We meet her as she arrives at a monastery where her doctor has sent her to rest and recuperate but it soon becomes apparent that this may not be the right place for her to do that. The monastery is down at heel, on the verge of closing and populated by only a small group of Brothers who are struggling with their own internal and rather petty tensions which in turn infect Rose and disrupt her state of mind further.

The author does a fantastic job of describing the crumbling monastery and its wild and neglected grounds, complete with a graveyard full of deceased Brothers, and it gives the whole book an air of despair and, for me, a slight creeping menace which was the perfect backdrop to the mental disintegration within Rose and the decay of the relationships between the remaining Brothers. Rose has gone there for peace and seclusion and possibly spiritual guidance, but it is clear than none of these things are on offer for her here where the Brothers draw her into their issues rather than helping her with hers.

We learn about the events leading to Rose’s breakdown gradually through the course of the book, at the same time as more information is fed to us slowly about the different Brothers and the tensions between us. This approach for me, resulted in a slow build of tension and oppression with minimal actual action until the final explosive events – a very clever reflection of how the tensions and despair and feeling of unfairness and futility have built up in Rose. The book is written mostly in the first person through Rose’s eyes, which let us get further into her mindset and feel what she is feeling and seeing. I was infected with it and the feelings have lingered in me long after I closed the book.

If I had a small criticism, it was that I was left unsure of the relevance of one of the characters introduced, whom I had thought would play a more vital role but it is a small niggle in an otherwise startling book.

This book is clever, thought-provoking, evocative, surprising, difficult, menacing and insidious. It defies the trend towards shoehorning books into a genre, instead leaping outside the box. It is not a comfortable read but it is a true and worthwhile one.

Ask Me To Dance is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to Anne Cater and the publisher for supplying my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Follow the rest of the tour and find out what other bloggers think of the novel:

Ask Me To Dance Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

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Sylvia Colley was born in Romsey, Hampshire. She became a teacher and spent many years as Head of English at the Purcell School in North London.
She has published a book of poetry, It’s Not What I Wanted Though, and a novel, Lights on Dark Water. Her work has been read on BBC Radio 4. She lives in Pinner, Middlesex.

Follow Sylvia on social media:

Twitter: @SylviaColley

Website: http://www.sylviacolley.co.uk

What We Did by Christobel Kent #bookreview @littlebrown #WhatWeDid #NetGalley

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“He stole her childhood. She’ll take his future

What would you do if you accidentally encountered the man who once abused you?

And how would you get away with it?

Bridget’s life is small and safe: she loves her husband, her son and works hard to keep her own business afloat. Then one day her world is changed forever. The music teacher who abused her walks into a shop with the teenager he’s clearly grooming. Bridget is sent spiralling back into her past.

Anthony begins to stalk Bridget, trying to ensure her silence – until suddenly, she snaps.

And now Bridget must find away to deal with the aftermath of her actions…”

Today is publication day for Christobel Kent’s new novel What We Did so I have completed reading it at the perfect time to post my review. Although, this is going to be a tough book to review without giving away any spoilers so I may be briefer than normal. (Was that a small sigh of relief I just heard?)

Let’s just take a moment to admire the cover, which was one of the things that drew my eye to it on NetGalley. I love the grey with the bright spots of orange and green. Would look fabulous on any book shelf, great cover design.

This is a psychological thriller with a tricky subject matter at its heart. Bridget is a survivor of abuse she suffered as a teenager at the hands of her violin teacher. She has built a small, safe life for herself in a provincial university city with a quiet husband and a well-balanced teenage son, running her own clothing shop and working hard to keep her demons at bay. Her husband and her son know nothing about her past and that is the way she would like to keep it so when her abuser casually walks into her store one day in the company of his latest pupil, Bridget believes her whole way of life is at risk.

When I started this book, I had a slightly jaded feeling that I knew how the story would pan out. However, I was completely wrong. Things unfold in a very unexpected way and the story goes off then at a totally different tangent and really drags you with it.

The first quarter of the book was quite slow and I did start to worry that the whole story pacing was going to be too staid to carry me to the end – I have begun to expect more flourishes from a book in this genre – but once the first pivotal act occurs, things pick up and I was totally gripped from that moment on and I ended up staying up late to finish the book. Looking back at the book as a whole, the pacing was perfect for the storyline and the nature of the characters and it was actually a refreshing change from the constant bombardment of action and tension we sometimes get. The gentle start, followed by the sudden shocking change was the perfect reflection of how Bridget’s gentle life is so immediately disrupted when her abuser reappears on the scene.

The characters that need to be sympathetic are sympathetic, the criminal perpetrators are suitably loathsome. Bridget’s sister was my favourite character, and the most complex, I believe, and I also enjoyed the way her innocuous husband’s story arc developed. There was a side storyline involving her shop assistant that I think was meant to throw Bridget’s complicated feelings about her past into relief and give her some enlightenment, but it wasn’t really well-developed enough to end up as anything but a distraction which was a little disappointing.

The main storyline was psychologically twisty enough to keep me guessing about who was involved in what. I suspected people of things they hadn’t ended up doing and didn’t guess the ending so early in the novel that it was an anti-climax when it came. All in all, I enjoyed the book and it is well worth a read. However, it does not have the jaw-dropping twists that have become the norm, this is much more a character-based novel that isn’t relying on any schlock or shock for shock’s sake that some novels in this genre do. You will have to make your own decision about whether this is a positive or negative based on your own preferences for this type of novel.

What We Did is published today and you can purchase a copy here.

Thank you to NetGalley and Little Brown for the copy of this book which I have reviewed fairly and impartially.

About the Author

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Christobel Kent was born in London and educated at Cambridge. She has lived variously in Essex, London and Italy. Her childhood included several years spent on a Thames sailing barge in Maldon, Essex with her father, stepmother, three siblings and four step-siblings. She now lives in both Cambridge and Florence with her husband and five children.

#BlogTour The Wedding Date by Zara Stoneley #bookreview (@ZaraStoneley) @HarperCollinsUK @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam @rararesources #TheWeddingDate #bookbloggers

The Wedding Date

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Zara Stoneley’s new book The Wedding Date. a big thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part.

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One ex.
One wedding.
One little white lie.

When Samantha Jenkins is asked to be the maid of honour at her best friend’s wedding, she couldn’t be happier. There are just three problems…

1) Sam’s ex-boyfriend, Liam, will be the best man.
2) His new girlfriend is pregnant.
3) Sam might have told people she has a new man when she doesn’t (see points 1 and 2 above)

So, Sam does the only sensible thing available to her… and hires a professional to do the job.

Actor Jake Porter is perfect for the role: single, gorgeous and cheap! Sam is certain it’s the perfect solution: no strings, no heartbreak and hopefully no chance of being found out.

But spending a week in the Scottish Highlands with Jake is harder than she imagined. He is the perfect boyfriend, charming, sexy and the hottest thing in a kilt since Outlander! And his dog Harry is quite possibly the cutest things Sam has ever seen!

As the wedding draws closer, Jake plays his part to perfection and everyone believes he is madly in love with Sam. The problem is, Sam’s not sure if Jake is acting anymore…”

Before we start, is anyone else salivating over the delicious-looking cake on the cover of this book? Honestly, I can taste it. Congratulations to whoever designed the cover, it is definitely enticing!

This is the first book I have read by Zara Stoneley, although I have a copy of Summer with the Country Village Vet sat on my TBR. Now that I have read this book by Zara, I will be moving that one up the pile to read soon.

The main character in this book is travel agent, Sam. Recently dumped by boyfriend, Liam, Sam is presented with an invitation from her best friend, Jess, to join her elaborate wedding party in Scotland. To Sam’s dismay, not only will she have to deal with celebrating romance whilst facing her own heartbreak, her ex, Liam will be the best man and Sam will come face to face with the physical evidence of his infidelity in the form of his very-pregnant girlfriend. Unable to face the ordeal alone and deal with the pity on the faces of her family and friends, Sam decides to hire actor Jake to pose as her handsome and charming new boyfriend for the week. As you do.

It was very easy to relate to Sam. She is a warm and slightly hapless character and we can all put ourselves in her shoes, feeling the humiliation of being cheated on and dumped and then having to face her ex in public. The ordeal has sapped her of all her self-confidence and she is at a very low ebb when she concocts the slightly crazy plan of hiring a fake boyfriend to take to her best friend’s wedding. I doubt most people would go that far but I could appreciate the impulse and Zara’s humorous and entertaining writing made the plan seem a lot more plausible than it probably would be in real life.

Jake, the impoverished actor that Sam manages to bag as her fake date is almost too good to be true. Handsome, charming and kind, he is the kind of man that every woman wishes to have on her arm, but Sam struggles at times to work out how much of his behaviour is an act and how much is genuine, which becomes a problem when she finds herself falling for him, despite her best efforts to keep him at arms length. Jake is no cardboard cut-out romantic lead though, he has a complicated past of his own which stops him being as one-dimensional as is sometimes the case with romantic leads of this ilk.

This book is written in the first person from Sam’s point of view and I really enjoyed being in her head and seeing everything from her slightly-neurotic point of view. Her inner monologue was completely authentic – somewhat reminiscent of Bridget Jones – as she worries about her weight, wanting to look amazing when she first sees her ex, whether anyone will find out that she and Jake are faking it. She is so likeable, it really carries the story along and had us rooting for her and a positive outcome.

The story is filled with humour, which made it a really easy read. There are some scenes that will have you howling with laughter and wondering how anyone can get themselves into such scrapes. I loved the character of Sam’s mother, who just added to the cringe-factor of some of the scenes, and there was a nicely rounded cast of friends and family to fill out the story. I did feel like the character of Ruby, who was set up to be a bit of a villainess, was slightly wasted and could have been used to throw a bit more of a spanner in the works and I wondered if that was a plot point that was in the original draft but then tailed off. It felt like a bit of an unfinished thread. However, it did not detract from my enjoyment of the book. The mystery of Jake’s past also went in a different direction than the one I had imagined, but it has given me an idea for a story twist that I might use in the future since it didn’t turn out to be the solution I had imagined in this book, so that was a bonus from my reading. Thanks, Zara, for sparking my imagination!

This was a lovely, light and funny read and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading romantic fiction. You won’t be disappointed. Now I’m off to track down that piece of chocolate cake.

The Wedding Date by Zara Stoneley is out now on Kindle and you can buy a copy here.  The paperback version will be published on the 28th of June and you can pre-order it here.

Follow the blog tour and see what other readers are saying about The Wedding Date:

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Amazon/Goodreads

About the Author

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Born in a small village in Staffordshire, Zara Stoneley wanted to be James Herriot, a spy, or an author when she grew up. Writing novels means she can imagine she is all these things, and more!

Zara’s bestselling novels include ‘The Holiday Swap’, ‘Summer with the Country Village Vet’, ‘Blackberry Picking at Jasmine Cottage’ and the popular Tippermere series – ‘Stable Mates’, ‘Country Affairs’ and ‘Country Rivals’.
She lives in a Cheshire village with her family, a naughty cockapoo, and a very bossy cat, and loves spending time in sunny Spain.

Connect with Zara:

Website: http://www.zarastoneley.com
Twitter: @ZaraStoneley
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ZaraStoneley

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zarastoneley/ 

Forever at Conwenna Cove by Darcie Boleyn #bookreview (@DarcieBoleyn) @canelo_co #ForeverAtConwennaCove #NetGalley

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“Following heartbreak, Zoe Russell found a haven in Conwenna Cove. As the owner of the village diner and a volunteer for the local greyhound sanctuary, she’s happy with her peaceful life.

Local surfer Nate Bryson plans to leave Conwenna and see the world. He wants to shake off his reputation as a ladies man and start again somewhere new. Before departing, Nate decides to raise funds for the dog rescue home as a way of giving back to the community.

When Nate approaches Zoe to help with the charity event she sees there’s more to him than meets the eye. Nate can’t believe he’s failed to notice the kind and beautiful woman right before him. But can two such different people ever be together, especially if one of them is determined to leave?”

Today is publication day for this book so, Happy Publication Day, Darcie, look like I am just going to sneak my review in under the wire to celebrate this day with you!

I have only just finished reading this book and I am still basking in its lovely, warm, uplifting glow. Despite the fact that the tentative improvement in the weather seems to be over here for now, I’m feeling a summery optimism.

This book tells the story of vulnerable Zoe, rebuilding her life after being badly let down by people she trusted and determined not to let anyone hurt her that way again, and Nate, equally determined to live life to the full and not end up with any regrets at not chasing his dreams. Despite their reservations, Zoe and Nate are pulled together over the course of a summer in Conwenna Cove, and must decide if they will give in to their mutual attraction, or let their pasts and their fears keep them apart. The story is set in the chocolate box village of Conwenna Cove on the Cornish coast.

So far, so predictable, I hear you say, but you would be quite wrong. This book is very different from anything I have read recently and that is entirely down to the very clever writing and character development by Darcie. I’m not sure exactly how to convey what makes this book feel different, except to say that the author has a very light and sympathetic touch. I fell in love with the characters immediately, they are well-rounded and believable, complete with flaws and insecurities, but totally likeable. The plot is gripping – I was desperate to keep reading and know how it was going to end – but it was also very gentle without any of the twists and huge issues that often get shoehorned into modern novels just because that seems to be how it done. This is a very down-to-earth, every day, personal drama that could be played out in any household across the country on a daily basis, but done in a way that is extremely compelling and rich.

The setting is beautiful – I for one can’t get enough of books set by the coast – with just enough description to make it come to life but not so much that it drags. It is very well-balanced.

The novel is narrow, and I mean this in a very positive way. It doesn’t have a cast of thousands. It is focused and tight, homing in on the relationship between two people that really pulls out the intensity of those personal feelings we all recognise and can sympathise with. It is refreshing and made it stand out for me exactly for the gentle nature of the drama that might seem small to the outside world but is of vital importance to the central characters. It is totally authentic and, for that reason, very relatable to everyone.

I hadn’t realised that this was actually the third book that the author has set in Conwenna Cove when I began to read it and I have not read the previous two. However, although there was some mention of characters that were obviously central to the previous novels, this works perfectly as a standalone and not having read them did not detract from my enjoyment of this one bit. What it did do was make me want to read the previous two immediately, and I have now downloaded them to my Kindle. I really look forward to reading more by this author.

This is a wonderful book, as warm and sweet as a dairy ice-cream on a Cornish summer day but not at all sickly. Go on, treat yourself to this book, you deserve it.

Forever at Conwenna Cove is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to Canelo and NetGalley for the copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night.

Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate.

Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

The Music of the Deep by Elizabeth Hall #bookreview @AmazonPub #TheMusicOfTheDeep #NetGalley

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The Music of the Deep


“Fleeing an abusive marriage and tormented by her past, Alexandra Turner finds solace in a small coastal town on Puget Sound and a job with a local marine biologist studying orcas.

After befriending a group of locals, Alex learns that she has moved to a place that has a reputation of being the “most haunted town in Washington.” Such superstitions would be easy to dismiss…if Alex wasn’t already on edge.

Haunted by shreds of memories of her days with her husband, Alex can’t keep from looking over her shoulder. As unexplained sounds and scents accumulate and unnerving forces seem to take hold, Alex is beginning to believe that she’s not escaping her ghosts, after all. In fact, she might finally be inviting them in.”

Today is publication day for this book, so I am happy to be sharing my review of it with you all as it launches to the wider world, and it is definitely worth picking up. I’m not sure why this title caught my eye on NetGalley as it is not by an author I know – serendipity or more supernatural forces at work? Whatever it was, am I glad it did, as I raced through it in 24 hours and enjoyed every minute.

It is a very hard book to categorise – part ghost story, part nature tale, part women’s fiction – an unusual blend that had the potential to be a jarring mashup but the writer has woven the different elements together very skilfully to make a compelling narrative that had me gripped to the last page.

It follows the stories of three different women. We meet the central character, Alex, as she arrives in the tiny town of Copper Cove on a small island in the Puget Sound on a dark day in December. She is ostensibly there to assist a local woman, Maggie, catalogue the years of research she has done into the local population of orcas, but we soon find out that her story is more about what she is running from than where she is running to. To add to Alex’s tension, Maggie is hiding her own secrets, and her neighbour, Emmie Porter (rumoured to be the local witch due to her amazing powers with animals) is somehow involved. To further add to the tension, Alex is staying alone in a large old house on a hill on the outskirts of a town rumoured to be the most haunted town in Washington State…

The author sets up the story in its location very well. The tiny town, distant from land and civilisation, in the dark days of winter, is suitably claustrophobic and menacing enough to compound Alex’s already well-honed sense of dread and the secrets she gradually unveils grow increasingly creepy. During the last fifth of the book, I was sat up in bed, my heart thumping, ripping through the pages to find out what was going to happen – it really is a page turner.

The story gradually unveils the back story of the three women in a series of flashbacks which work very effectively, gradually pulling in to a point where they start to interweave and finally explode as one at the culmination of the book; it is very skilfully done and the characters are thoroughly drawn and believable, even as parts of the plot are asking you to suspend your disbelief beyond the every day.

One of the main reasons I picked up this book in the first place, and where it did not disappoint was to do with the setting. The Pacific Northwest is an area that holds a particular fascination for me and this book has only increased my longing to visit. The setting lends itself perfectly to the storyline, and the author does an amazing job of placing us firmly in the centre of the landscape. You don’t need to flex your imagination too hard to be able to picture the island, the town, the water and the natural phenomena she describes. I have a particular fondness for members of the oceanic dolphin family and this books blends a lot of interesting information about them into the plot seamlessly.

The book isn’t perfect. I would have liked a little more description about the town itself. To a degree the ending felt a little rushed and there was a flurry of ‘coincidences’ and happenings in the denouement which stretched credibility to the very furthest point of acceptability within the confines of what I believe the book was trying to be. However, all in all this was a great read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I would recommend it without reservation. I doubt anyone who picks it up will regret the time they invest in it.

The Music of the Deep is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for the copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

Born in San Jose, California, Elizabeth Hall has spent most of her life in the mountains of Colorado. She has worked as a teacher and communications consultant, including hosting, writing, and producing the radio show Heart of the West. She has two grown children. She is the bestselling author of Miramont’s Ghost and In the Blue Hour and now resides on an island in the Pacific Northwest, where she indulges in the fiber arts and keeps an eye out for whales.