The Vanishing by Sophia Tobin

The Vanishing by Sophia Tobin

 

31449588Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 12th January 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

Synopsis:

A story of intrigue and revenge, perfect for fans of Jane Eyreand Fingersmith and The Miniaturist.

On top of the Yorkshire Moors, in an isolated spot carved out of the barren landscape, lies White Windows, a house of shadows and secrets. Here lives Marcus Twentyman, a hard-drinking but sensitive man, and his sister, the brisk widow, Hester.

When Annaleigh, a foundling who has fled her home in London, finds herself at the remote house, in service to the Twentymans, she discovers all is not as it seems behind closed doors.

Isolated and lonely, Annaleigh is increasingly drawn to her master. And as their relationship intensifies, she soon realises that her movements are being controlled and her life is no longer her own. Slowly she is drawn into a web of intrigue and darkness, and soon she must face her fears if she is to save herself.

Rating: 3.5/5

“The Vanishing” is my first book by Sophia Tobin but I am sure it won’t be the last! This novel has first caught my eye on Twitter, when I spotted the most gorgeous proofs with a key attached to them, and when one of them arrived at my doorstep I was more than over – excited. Yes. That’s me. I know, I know, like a child at Christmas. Forgive me, but when it comes to books I am just like this.

So now. This book. “The Vanishing”. Dark, tense, thought – provoking, full of suspense historical fiction. And while it did manage to hold me interested, I had some issues with it. The book was divided into three parts and for me personally it was the third and last one that kept me mostly glued to the pages. The first two were very descriptive and were like a long introduction to this what’s going to happen. Than the characters. I had a feeling that I really don’t know them as much as I’d like. They felt a little too underdeveloped, too superficial. The main character, Annaleigh, she just felt so cold and emotionless. But she was also strong – minded and she was not afraid to fight for the things she believed in. She was a servant but she also knew different life and you could have say that she’s never been like a perfect servant, even being a perfect servant! She had her proud and will. She made me feel desperate with the number of times she wanted to left but still, she didn’t. It just makes you want to tell her: see? Your own fault. I know, of course I know it was not as easy as it is now, women didn’t have many choices then, but really, I though that when she says she wants to leave one more time than it will be also my sign to leave. The book. Fortunately, it didn’t happen and I kept reading (not going to tell you if she’s left or stopped talking about it, oh no!).
I am, however, not too sure what was the role of the male characters in this story, to be honest. Oh sure, of course, I know but they all just felt so flat, not too well rounded and I missed some more expressiveness in their personalities.
I also couldn’t clock this attraction between Annalegih and Marcus Twentyman, and the blurb speaks about intensifying relationship – what relationship? It was not a relationship, guys! I’ve no idea what kind of things did Annaleigh imagine and why. And the end. I am really confused about the end because it made me think, and? The point?

I really liked the writing style, and the way the story was written, and I really appreciated how the author added so many phrases characteristics to those times. She could brilliantly describe the desolate landscape of the moors in Yorkshire and it, already at the beginning, set the tone of this story – gloom and bleak, totally appropriate to the drama that was developing before our eyes. The sense of isolation and loneliness was palpable through the pages, and this was one of the main players in this book, to be honest, and the dark atmosphere surrounding the house and its inhabitants jumped out of the pages.
Overall, it was a good book, and even though it didn’t have me on my tenterhooks I was not disappointed! “The Vanishing” was atmospheric, touching and also a shocking book. I loved how symbolic the title of the novel is and how many different meanings of vanishing there were in it. A tale of love and hate, revenge and… yes, madness that made for a really great read for those few winter evenings and I’m truly happy that I was able to read it. There was a certain beauty to it and the writing style was really exceptional.

An Off – Piste Christmas by Julie Houston

An Off – Piste Christmas by Julie Houston

 

32860697Publisher:

Publishing Date: 1st November 2016

Source:  Received from the Author in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 127

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Homour

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

From the author of #1 Humour Bestsellers GOODNESS, GRACE AND ME, THE ONE SAVING GRACE and LOOKING FOR LUCY, a brand new festive novella to make you laugh and warm your heart…

The last thing Harriet Westmoreland wants is Christmas away from home, particularly when skiing, snow, heights and freezing her backside off are on the menu. While her own family, together with her best friend Grace’s, are soon whizzing down ridiculously high and scary mountains in the fashionable Italian resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Harriet is stuck in the remedial class on the nursery slopes unable, it seems, to remain vertical.

Tired of trying to stay upright in the dunces’ class, Harriet decides to overcome her fear of heights and take her bruised body off to explore the refugios in the magnificent Dolomites above Cortina. And maybe catch a glance of George Clooney, rumoured to be in town… But what happens next triggers a totally unexpected avalanche of events which proves that, for friends Harriet and Grace and all their families, Christmas really is a time for little miracles…

Rating: 3.5/5

“An Off – Piste Christmas” is my first book by Julie Houston but I was immediately drawn to this cover and the description made me hope that it’s going to help me to leave the actual reading slump behind. As previously I didn’t know much about this book, I also didn’t know that this is a second novella featuring the Westmoreland family, however through many hints I started to guessing it. But you can absolutely read it as a stand – alone novel, as there are enough flashbacks and the author gives enough information for the new reader to know that and what happened in the past. However, now my curiosity is piqued and I will be for sure reading the previous novels in the closest future!

My biggest problem was the number of characters. Honestly, to the end of the book I wasn’t sure who is who, why and with whom they are together. It was confusing and I hoped that there comes a moment I’ll see the light bull over my head but sadly, it didn’t happen and eventually I stopped trying with the characters. It spoiled the reading a bit to be honest. As it took me almost till the end to unravel who is related to who, to be honest, so maybe a short introduction at the beginning of the story wouldn’t go amiss. Also, the very complex and complicated nature of the relationships with a daughter dating the main character’s best friend’s ex – lover and father of her baby, and all of them going together on a fancy skiing holiday, even though the main character hates skiing… It was too much for me, to be honest.

At first the story felt too slow, maybe because of the millions of characters being introduced, but then it often felt too rushed and the things were happening so conveniently, and also I personally am not sure if bringing back dead characters to life is such a good idea – it didn’t sit with me and this subplot felt much, much, much too far – fetched for my liking. However, “An Off – Piste Christmas” was a very light read, and it made me chuckle and smile. I also immediately fell in love with Julie Houston’s writing style, that is not only full of humour but it’s so easy to follow, it’s light, warm and – let’s forget about the number of characters for a moment – I immediately felt at home. The millions of characters are likeable and believable, with their flaws, problems and interactions, and with so many of them there are many mishaps, misunderstandings and also bitching involved. The story is full of really funny scenes, and only the idea of going on the ski – holiday when you’re scared of heights and hate skiing is a hilarious one, but it is also full of much more emotional moments and it touches upon some sensible issues, and this is all perfectly mixed.

Altogether, it is a short, funny and light novella taking place in a beautiful setting, full of snow and mouth – watering descriptions of food. It’s fluffy and quick read and I personally enjoyed it with the few twists, turns and curveballs.

The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith – Blog Tour

Hi guys, and very happy Wednesday! Today I am very happy to invite you to my stop on Fiona Veitch Smith’s blog tour for her new release “The Kill Fee”, that is the second book in the Poppy Denby Investigates series – but it can easily be read as a standalone, no worries here. I love the times the book is set in so it was an extra bonus for me, and the story itself was fresh and original – just have a look at my review.

 

The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith

 

30897440Publisher: Lion Fiction

Publishing Date: 16th September 2016

Series: Poppy Denby Investigates #2

Source:  Received from the publisher  in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Poppy Denby, Arts and Entertainment Editor at The Daily Globe, covers an exhibition of Russian Art, hosted by White Russian refugees, including members of the surviving exiled Romanov Royal family. There is an armed robbery, a guard is shot, and the largest Faberge Egg in the collection is stolen. The egg itself is valuable, but more so are the secrets it contains within – secrets that could threaten major political powers. Suspects are aplenty, including the former keeper of the Faberge Egg, a Russian Princess called Selena Romanova Yusopova. The interim Bolshevik Russian ambassador, Vasili Safin inserts himself into the investigation, as he believes the egg – and the other treasures – should all be restored to the Russian people. Poppy, her editor Rollo, press photographer Daniel, and the other staff of the Globe are delighted to be once again in the middle of a sensational story. But, soon the investigation takes a dark turn when another body is found and an employee of the newspaper becomes a suspect…The race is on to find both the key and the egg – can they be found before the killer strikes again?

Rating: 3.5/5

I’ve wanted to read Fiona Veitch Smith’s book for a long time already, as I have heard brilliant things about “The Jazz Files”, her debut novel – I even have this book on my shelf, only haven’t found time to read it yet. So when the opportunity to be a part of a blog tour for her new release “The Kill Fee” came, I didn’t hesitate for long and with excitement started to read the book. It is set in 1920s, and I love to read books set in those times. Even though it is a continuation of Poppy Denby’s adventures, it can absolutely be read as a stand – alone novel, as it is a new case and new investigation.

Poppy could be a great character, it’s only I had a feeling that there is much to less of her for a main heroine. The story focused on so many things and Poppy entered the scenes from time to time and I just had a feeling that I don’t know her as well as I’d like to, that I don’t know much about her. However, one is sure, she was again an example of a heroine that was far ahead of her own times and she was determined that nothing will stop her when she set her mind on something.

Thank god, or thank the author, for the list of the characters at the beginning of the book, though I must admit it didn’t help me a lot. There were many characters in this story, MANY, some of them fictional, some of them not, and really, there were so many of them that each time a name was mentioned I needed to turn the pages back to the beginning to see who it is and why – but soon this turning the pages made me tired, to be honest, I want to know who is who and not be forced to all the time searching for a clue, but it’s probably my fault, not the book’s.

I liked the mystery in this story. There were some twists and turns on the way to discover who did what and the author tried to throw a curveball or two. I’d say that “The Kill Fee” is a good cosy mystery, though I personally have expected something more from this book and from such an acclaimed author. However, I of course appreciate the well – developed heroine and the historical background that was really interesting, as it is not only 1920’s London, but also times of the Russian Revolution, of the mystery of the tsar’s family. The book reminded me a lot of Frances Brody’s Kate Shackleton series but – sadly – there is Kate and then there is nothing for a long, long time and then, eventually, comes Poppy Denby. The story has just felt too flat to me, not so exciting and not so surprising. I liked a lot of things in this story but altogether I missed this “something” that makes read exceptional, and there were a lot of moments that I was skim – reading, as it dragged too much for my liking.

The author has made an effort to create the atmosphere of the times and to make the setting as realistic as possible, and it worked really well in this story. It was well – plotted, albeit a little on the dragging on side, even though there was a lot happening. I loved the mentions of the small things that made those times, such as music, the food, the gadgets – they are often mentioned, those little details, but they do not overwhelm or overshadow the plot, and Fiona Veitch Smith has truly brought the background to life. Yes, I am in two minds about this book – I enjoyed it but not as much as I thought I would. However, I’ll be looking onto reading “The Jazz Files” as soon as possible and looking forward to any new release by this author.

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

the-kill-fee-poster

Daydream Believer by Lizzie Fayke

Daydream Believer by Lizzie Fayke

 

51wz2bgnz16l-_sx311_bo1204203200_Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Publishing Date: 28th July 2015

Source:  Received from the author  in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 476

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Sarah Collin’s world is about to be changed forever by her imaginary boyfriend.
Her dream world collides with reality when she invents Steve, her rock musician lover, in the hope of adding some much needed glamour to her life, while gaining a little respect from her workmates.
As the lie spirals out of control, she finds herself on the Costa Blanca. Could her chaotic holiday actually make some of her daydreams come true?

Rating: 3.5/5

I spotted “Daydream Believer” by Lizzie Fayke some time ago on Twitter and I can still remember how much I adored the cover of this book, which is simply gorgeous! I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the novel and finally I’ve found a little spare time lately to read this book – I was also intrigued by the synopsis and wanted to see if it lives up to my expectations or not.

Lizzie Fayke has created a very strong heroine in her story. No matter what Sarah Collins did, I kept my fingers crossed for her. She is the title Daydream Believer, and finally, eventually she decides to not only dream but also do, and so she finds herself – alone – on a holiday trip to Spain. Even though all the other think she’s at the French Riviera. Because Sarah is – maybe not a compulsive liar – but she has a very overactive imagination. Though, with such a group of co – workers, it was not a wonder! Sarah is also very accident – prone and if something were to happen, you could bet it would happen to Sarah. She was a little like Bridget Jones, so awkward with her love life, fed up with her job and seeing her other friends on Facebook having better lives and relationships and exotic holidays. Sure, she made me feel desperate sometimes, but her believing so much in Steve was also somehow touching and it made me fell for her and I really wanted everything to work for her and everybody to be nice to her and I wanted to fight her corner for her – so nice was she! It doesn’t happen often that maybe I don’t love the character with my whole heart but I’d do anything for them, and it is such a case here.

So, the book started in a great way and I enjoyed it extremely for a long time. However, at some point, I started to have a feeling that I am reading the same and the same, about Sarah being mopped at work and only talking about Steve and telling people she leads totally different life and altogether, it went a little downhill for me. Also, as much as I appreciate that the author wanted to make up to the main character and to punish the “bad” characters, the events happening were too predictable, a little too far – fetched and all the things that happened were so convenient for Sarah, with right people at the right places and with right connections and things happening at the right moment, which made the reading this bit unbelievable and unrealistic. Sure, it was to make the book much more humorous and adventurous and it worked, perhaps it is this old grumpy in me that sometimes comes up to the surface to complain a little. Also the last chapters dragged on too much for my liking, and those were the chapters where everything went into a line, where everything was cleared and where the good ones were prized and the bad ones punished and it was a little too much for me. I like my closure but I also like it to be a little surprising and not so obvious. But altogether, I enjoyed this story, it was light and easy and with a brilliant dose of great, sharp humour.

Altogether, “Daydream Believer” was a simple, not too complex but very entertaining story that I’ve read with a real pleasure. There was a bunch of eclectic but lovely and strong characters, it was full of really comical moments and sweet, if a little too far – fetched, for my liking, romance. For a debut novel, Lizzie Fayke’s writing style sounds strong and mature and it is very easy to follow – maybe sometimes she has tried too much but overall, it was light and she is a great story – teller. It is a not too demanding story about finding what you really want, about founding the courage to fight for yourself and about not letting others intimidate you, and I am sure it’s going to put a smile on your face. Recommended!

B – Side by Elle Field

B – Side

by Elle Field

 

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Publishing Date: 17th May 2016

Series: Arielle Lockley #2.5

Source:  Copy provided by the author, thank you!

Number of pages: 194

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Contemporary

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 Synopsis:

 „What do I honestly know about the music industry? I’m just another idiot with a dream who is naive enough to hope that I might be the next big star.”

Etta Millhouse has always had big musical ambitions to match her big voice, but she’s also got three very big problems – the addiction she won’t admit to, her godmother’s illness she can no longer ignore, and her godmother’s useless business partner (who she wishes she could ignore).

Keeping an eye on Arielle’s bad business decisions is the last thing Etta wants to do when she’s offered the chance to record a demo with a top producer. But, a promise is a promise, even if it has her reaching for another pick-me-up… And then another. And then one more.

When the secret she must keep for her godmother, Felicity, sends her drug habit spiralling out of control, can Etta battle her demons in time and make her dream happen? Or, will her music career be over before it’s even begun?

Rating: 3.5/5

 

I was expecting the third part in Arielle Lockley’s series but Elle Field has surprised us with „B – Side”, a novella told from Etta’s point of view, which I, personally, find a great idea, as it gives us a great insight into Etta and her background and lets us to understand why she is like this, because – let’s be honest – Etta didn’t show her best side, right? I would only advise that you should read the previous books before starting „B – Side” – even though it doesn’t continue the main story on – as there is too much history and too much background to enjoy this novel as a stand – alone.

As much as I got insight into Etta and her background, I still can’t understand her dislike to Arielle. I didn’t find the explanation in this story for this and this bothers me a little, because for me it’s more than only your typical dislike, you know, when you look at the person and the first impression is telling you you’re not going to be friends. In this (non) relationship between Etta and Arielle I can feel hate and misapprehension and I’m not sure why such strong feelings. So as much as I appreciate the fact that the author wanted to give us insight and let Etta explain herself, I am afraid that in my case she didn’t succeed. Yes, I got to know Etta better and can understand why she is so bitter and unhappy, but after mentioning some scenes out of her past the story was concentrating on Etta and her addiction. Honestly, it didn’t make me like her better. I might have more understanding for her now, but can’t shake off the feeling that she’s just made her bed so she must lie on it and everything happens at her own wish. She plays strong, but she’s weak in my opinion, and she doesn’t want to change. She was too childish for my liking and even the music deal that she landed didn’t make her happy, and I was asking myself, what WOULD make you happy, Etta? I get it, she had so much on her plate, Etta, what with this demo opportunity, and with Felicity’s health deteriorating so quickly, so maybe I just didn’t get Etta herself and it’s my fault that I didn’t enjoy and appreciate this short story as much as I wanted to. Yes, it was painful to see how much Etta struggles, how scared she is, how she can’t cope but when I was starting to sympathize with her and thinking oh, poor Etta, than she always went and did or said something that annoyed me so much and there was no more sympathy from me. Really, I find Etta one of the most complicated and difficult characters that I came across when reading books and I wanted to like her, I really wanted, but she just didn’t allow me! I get her, I really get her and where she’s coming from but nevertheless, I couldn’t connect with her and she mostly annoyed me.

It is a character – driven novella, telling us about a short piece of time from Etta’s life. It felt a little darker that Arielle’s novels that are more on the light – hearted side, but I liked this darkness, and it proves that Elle Field is a great author who can write different stories. It is full of dark emotions, it touches upon some difficult and important issues such as bullying and drugs, and altogether, the whole tone of the story is darker, but still is was a great joy to read. This is a fast – paced novella making us realize that there are always two sides to every story.
And Elle’s writing is brilliant. It’s sharp, it’s quick, it’s modern and you have a feeling that this girl knows what she’s writing about. Her storytelling kept me hooked to the novel and I wanted to know what’s going to happen next. I would love to give this book more stars, really, as I know that Elle can write soooo good, but this time, somehow, we just didn’t work together, me and the novel. However, I am full of expectations towards Elle’s next book, the third in the series, „Found”, that sounds really exciting!

 

GIVEAWAY!

To celebrate the publication of B-Side, Elle is running a giveaway. Prizes are Amazon vouchers, a paperback set of the full Arielle Lockley series (Kept, Lost and B-Side), and a set of vinyl coasters. To enter the giveaway just follow  the link.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Elle Field writes romantic comedies, and is the author of the Arielle Lockley series and Geli Voyante’s Hot or Not. She grew up in Yorkshire, then moved to Scotland to study International Relations and Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews. Elle now lives in London with her boyfriend and their cat. She’s a massive fan of sunshine, giraffes, The Killers, Audrey Hepburn movies, playing Scrabble and tea. Oh, and reading, of course!

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