Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland by Heidi Swain

Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland

by Heidi Swein

 

 

40013831Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 1st November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

After calling off her engagement, Hayley, the Wynthorpe Hall housekeeper, wants nothing more than to return to her no-strings fun-loving self, avoiding any chance of future heartbreak. Little does she know, Wynbridge’s latest arrival is about to throw her plan entirely off course . . .

Moving into Wynthorpe Hall to escape the town’s gossip, Hayley finds herself immersed in the eccentric Connelly family’s festive activities as they plan to host their first ever Winter Wonderland. But Hayley isn’t the only new resident at the hall. Gabe, a friend of the Connelly’s son Jamie, has also taken up residence, moving into Gatekeeper’s Cottage, and he quickly makes an impression on Wynbridge’s reformed good-girl.

As preparations commence for the biggest event of the season, the pair find themselves drawn ever closer to one another, but unbeknownst to Hayley, Gabe, too, has a reason for turning his back on love, one that seems intent on keeping them apart.

Under the starry winter skies, will Gabe convince Hayley to open her heart again once more? And in doing so, will he convince himself?

Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland is the perfect read this Christmas, promising snowfall, warm fires and breath-taking seasonal romance. Perfect for fans of Milly Johnson, Carole Matthews and Cathy Bramley.

Rating: three-stars

Hayley is engaged and to be married soon, but at her engagement party she discovers that her boyfriend hasn’t been faithful to her. As things are also not at the nicest at home, she decides to take an offer of moving into Wynthorpe Hall, a place that she’s been working in for a long time already and that she loves. She just wants to forget and move on. But, as is turns out, she’s not to be the only one new resident to the Hall. Jamie’s friend Gabe is joining the family too. They’re both not interested in a relationship but they feel comfortable in each other’s company – however, can it be that fate has other plans for them?

I have a confession to make. Even though I have some of Heidi Swain’s book, this one, “Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland” is the first novel by this author that I’ve read. I’ve heard such great things about Ms Swain’s books and I thought, well, it’s highest time to read it. I was a little afraid, to be honest, as the novels are part of series, set in the charming Wynthorpe Hall and the surrounding village, afraid that I’d missed too much and won’t be able to keep on track. But no worries, guys, it really felt as reading a stand – alone book. There were enough background info to deduce what’s happened in the past to understand the whys and whats of the characters.

Our main character Hayley was a quirky, fierce girl who knew what she wanted. I’m sure it was properly explained in one of the previous books, the whole situation with her family and especially father but I was just thinking, oh boy, what must have happened for him to be so cruel towards his daughter, to be so cool, rejecting and not interested. The relationship between Hayley and her mother was also a bit enigmatic for me, it didn’t seem to be lots of love there, and it made me really sad. I definitely have to read the other book to get into the heart of their story. Hayley was hard on the outside, she had a big mouth but let’s be honest, she was really soft inside and she had a heart in the right place. And it was not a wonder that she was like this, what with her past that made her so out of reach and also short – tempered but if you get your time to get to know her, you’ll understand her motives. She may not be the easiest character to immediately like but this feeling comes really quickly, and I truly fell for her.
Gabe’s background history was incredibly sad and it made my heart break. He was an interesting character, what with him blowing hot and cold all the time, and yes, it started to be irritating, but then came the moment when he explained what has happened in the past and well, it changed my feelings a lot. There were many layers to him, as well as to Hayley, and I liked that their characters were not so straight – forward.

But, after reading so many brilliant things I was expecting something really brilliant. For me, however, it was just a normal story – it was nice, yes, but it didn’t wow me, I’m really sorry. It’s probably my fault, as I went into this book with very high expectations. Please don’t get me wrong, it was a cosy, lovely, Christmassy read, of course it was but I didn’t find there anything that would make me feel like so many other reviewers felt about it. I loved the idea of the Winter Wonderland and would love to read much more about it. I was also in awe how, short and sweet, they were able to organize it. OK, to be honest, I think I’d rather have many more chapters about it because it seemed a truly magnificent, fabulous and festive event. It was simply the best part of the book, enchanting and amazing. The rest – simply – didn’t wow me as much as I think it would.

The writing style was light and not too complex, and there was warmth to it. The story was lovely and lovingly interspersing few threads and the author touches upon some very sensible and poignant issues, though she isn’t going too deep into them. I really liked and appreciated the way the author has decided to write the romance here, the ongoing will they/won’t they – yes, it was there, but it was not too overwhelming, not too long and the characters didn’t make you feel desperate to bang their heads together. There was some romance in it, heartbreak and secrets, and the setting was simply gorgeous. I’m really happy that I still have other Heidi Swain’s books to dive into.

 

Advertisements

The Witches of St. Petersburg by Imogen Edward – Jones (Blog Tour)

The Witches of St. Petersburg by Imogen Edwards – Jones

 

 

42188918Publisher: Head of Zeus

Publishing Date: 25th October 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 464

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 04.04.2019)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Inspired by real characters, this transporting historical fiction debut spins the fascinating story of two princesses in the Romanov court who practiced black magic, befriended the Tsarina, and invited Rasputin into their lives—forever changing the course of Russian history.

As daughters of the impoverished King of Montenegro, Militza and Stana must fulfill their duty to their father and leave their beloved home for St. Petersburg to be married into senior positions in the Romanov court. For their new alliances to the Russian nobility will help secure the future of the sisters’ native country. Immediately, Militza and Stana feel like outcasts as the aristocracy shuns them for their provincial ways and for dabbling in the occult. Undeterred, the sisters become resolved to make their mark by falling in with the lonely, depressed Tsarina Alexandra, who—as an Anglo-German—is also an outsider and is not fully accepted by members of the court. After numerous failed attempts to precipitate the birth of a son and heir, the Tsarina is desperate and decides to place her faith in the sisters’ expertise with black magic.

Promising the Tsarina that they will be able to secure an heir for the Russian dynasty, Militza and Stana hold séances and experiment with rituals and spells. Gurus, clairvoyants, holy fools, and charlatans all try their luck. The closer they become to the Tsarina and the royal family, the more their status—and power—is elevated. But when the sisters invoke a spiritual shaman, who goes by the name of Rasputin, the die is cast. For they have not only irrevocably sealed their own fates—but also that of Russia itself.

Brimming with black magic, sex and intrigue, The Witches of St. Petersburg is an exquisite historical fiction debut novel filled with lush historical details from the Romanov era.

My Review

“The Witches of St. Petersburg” introduces us to two sisters, princesses from Montenegro, married well into Russian aristocracy. However, no matter how much Militza and Stana try, they’re not being accepted by the court. They need the influence though – their father counts on Russian help, so the sisters ingrate themselves with the Tsar and Tsarina, bringing a holy man to help them conceive the son, the so – much – needed – to –  boost – morale Heir to the throne. When it doesn’t work, they try magic and another holy man in the person of Rasputin – but are they going to loose all their influence with his arrival?

Even though my knowledge of Russian history is rather non – existent, there are some periods of times that pick my attention, and the Romanovs’ story is one of them. This book has for sure delivered in matters of the descriptions of the Russian aristocracy, their lives and all the ins and outs of the court life. There were balls and parties, jewellery, incredible dresses, tons of gossip and conspiring and I enjoyed those parts of this story very much. Yes, there came a moment that there was a ball one too many, that they started too feel like a copy of each other but I still think that they were the most colourful and best parts of this novel.

There are many characters in this book. Hundreds of them, actually. Brownie points go to the author for the names – list at the beginning of the novel, although my copy being on kindle I couldn’t just turn back the pages to see who is this character and what’s their background, and I had really huge problems to keep on track with all of them, especially as their names either sounded all the same or changed all the time. Still, the characters were ones of a kind. There came a moment that I stopped to try to understand them – they had their own motives and motivations and of course we have to take into consideration the times the story took place – people needed something all time, there were political businesses to be done and they were not afraid to stop at nothing. They were selfish and looking after their own business only – though is it different nowadays? But it was also fascinating to see how the two “Black Princesses” worked their way into the Palace, how irreplaceable they became to the Tsarina – a thing that so many have tried and failed at before them.  They were incredibly interesting and different to all the characters that I usually read about. Especially Militza and her abilities, I was fascinated with her ability to see things other people didn’t notice, and of course with her magic skills. I think you could easily say that she was a powerful witch, but I also had a feeling that she was not a “complete” witch – she wasn’t able to do magic, just like that, she could use her skills only in particular aspects of life – or so, at least, it looked like for me.

I’m really in two minds about this book. It could be a great read but I had a feeling its potential hasn’t been used there. It felt chopped and not too coherent,  and the jumping between things and events and time seemed as if it wasn’t planned. Some of the scenes were really too much for me – the half – developed chick, keeping of the miscarried fetus or simply the idea of the Tsarina dropping to her knees to eat someone’s vomit… I’m not too soft nor sensible but well, no. Just no. On the other hand, I do understand that the story needed it. And to be honest, the pace felt too slow. It is a large book, with almost 500 pages and it simply started to feel repetitive – the sisters try to help the Tsarina all over again, they attend one ball after another and they’re not accepted and are being called they’re witches smelling of goats we get this on repeat. There was so much potential in this book, and some really interesting concepts but the development was what was being missed for me. It was as if the author had some great ideas but didn’t know how to execute them.

“The Witches of St. Petersburg” is a book that plays with supernatural, with dark magic, with paganism. In a brilliant way it describes the shallowness of the Russian aristocracy, it deals with using and being used. The characters are full of charisma and even though you may not understand all of them, I think you’re still going to appreciate them for their personalities. It was vivid, engaging and gave a great insight into Russian history – in retrospect you can’t help but understand the fact of the revolution, with Tsar under cocaine influence and his wife, not being able to think for herself without asking Rasputin for an advice. A captivating and different read about power, about favours, mixing reality with supernatural.

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

thumbnail_image001

A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft / Blog Tour

A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft

 

 

41562375Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 1st November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 484

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

‘I love all of Sue Moorcroft’s books!’
Katie Fforde

A sumptuous, festive read from the #1 bestseller, Sue Moorcroft.

Georgine loves Christmas. The festive season always brings the little village of Middledip to life. But since her ex-boyfriend walked out, leaving her with crippling debts, Georgine’s struggled to make ends meet.

To keep her mind off her worries, she throws herself into organising the Christmas show at the local school. And when handsome Joe Blackthorn becomes her assistant, Georgine’s grateful for the help. But there’s something about Joe she can’t quite put her finger on. Could there be more to him than meets the eye?

Georgine’s past is going to catch up with her in ways she never expected. But can the help of friends new and old make this a Christmas to remember after all?

Curl up with the gorgeous new book from the Sunday Times bestseller, perfect for fans of Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

My Review

Georgine France’s life used to be a bed of roses, until her family fell from grace when her father has lost his construction firm, her mother left and she had to leave university and find a job. And recently, her ex – boyfriend has left her, leaving debts and bailiffs for her to deal with. She works as an event director at Middledip’s performing arts college Acting Instrumental and she loves her job, so she completely immerses herself into the organization of this event, trying to forget about her financial problems. Joe Blackthorn has just returned to the village to be Georgine’s new assistant. Nobody knows that he was someone else in the past, the child of two alcoholics, living in the wrong part of the village, often hungry and dirty. Also nobody knows that he’s a drummer of one of the most successful British bands, now back home to lick his wounds after a falling out with the band. He never supposed to meet Georgine in Acting Instumental – his old crush that he hurt when they were teenagers. Is he going to make her life even more complicated?

The characters were easy to like and they really felt so close to life and I liked how challenging their lives were and how deep the problems were. Both Georgine and Joe had unhappy pasts and they really knew some struggles, both in mental and financial aspect. I really connected with them and I fell for them, and their problems hit me truly hard. They were both so brilliantly passionate about things they loved.

There came a moment when the story started to be more of Joe than of Georgine, though I didn’t have any problem with this. I liked Joe and I’m sure I’d feel comfortable in his presence, just like Georgine did. Jeez, I must pay so much attention when writing this name, to spell it right, it’s really annoying. The name itself too. It happens sometimes, that I don’t like the main character’s name, and it was the case here but no worries, it didn’t affect my feelings towards her. Maybe I’ll just call her G. I appreciate the fact that the author touched upon some more serious issues but sometimes the way she wrote about them felt too patronizing, there was too much stressing on them and it made them feel not too natural. And it was also somehow not too real that so many of the characters suddenly had the same kind of problem with money. But hats off to Sue Moorcroft for touching upon such things as poverty and bailiffs at all, it isn’t a common theme in women’s fiction.
To be absolutely honest, the descriptions of the show and preparations were not my cup of tea and I’ve voluntarily skipped most of them – in my opinion, even if they were a part of G’s life, they were not so significant nor too important for the plot. I simply wanted more of Joe and G’s stories, they were much more interesting and had so many layers.

“A Christmas Gift”, although not too Christmassy, it succeeded in putting me in the festive mood. It was a warm, uplifting story about second chances, friendship, families, some harsh truths and living in poverty, but also about neglect and abuse. This is a book that has it all: bouncy, full of life characters, some romance, tons of troubles, humour and sadness. Sue Moorcroft’s writing style is so lovely and full of passion and compassion and she handles each of her topics with the same attention. There is depth to this story so please don’t expect only a fluffy Christmas romance, because there is much more to it, and I’m sure you’re going to enjoy this fact as much as I did.

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

a2bchristmas2bgift2bblog2btour2b-2boct

Dinner Party by Tracy Bloom

Dinner Party by Tracy Bloom

 

 

40794610Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 26th September 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 330

Genre: Humour, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Never has an unexpected guest caused such chaos!

Three couples take it in turns to host a monthly dinner party.

Beth, Sarah and Marie have been friends forever. Now they are grown up, with busy lives, busy husbands, busy kids… but they still find time to meet up over dinner once a month. A cosy, comfortable gathering of happy couples – or so they thought.

Until one night, someone brings along a last-minute guest whose wife has just left him.

Simon is standing on the doorstep in floods of tears. While the women do their best to console him, their husbands feel the need to mark their territory.

And as Simon becomes more involved with the group, his presence changes everything these three couples thought they knew about each other, leading to a final dinner party that no-one will ever forget.

From Amazon chart bestseller Tracy Bloom, Dinner Party is a funny and moving read that will make you see your marriage and friendships in a whole new light… and make you think twice about inviting your best mates round for dinner. Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes, Nick Spalding and Gill Sims.

Rating: three-stars

Beth, Sarah and Marie have been friends since school. Now, once a month, they and their husbands, that truly don’t have anything in common except their wives being friends, meet at one of their places for a dinner party, that usually run without mishaps and in a nice atmosphere. However, this time, when it’s Beth and Chris’s turn, he forgets to tell his wife that he has invited his new friend Simon. Simon and his wife have just split up and he’s been since heartbroken. To be honest, nobody is too happy with the new addition but when he arrives, the three female friends find themselves drawn to him, which doesn’t go unnoticed by their husbands. As the time goes on and the dinner parties as well, Simon becomes more part of their lives, however his presence also causes chaos and misunderstandings that eventually lead to a very dramatic finale.

There are six main characters in this book – yes, you could say it’s a lot, but they’re all so different and right from the beginning you get the feeling who is who and to whom they belong. All of them had perfectly distinctive voices, they had their quirks, flaws and secrets, some of them were too perfect and too snobbish, some of them really overdid with their love of dips – it was funny at the beginning but then it stopped being funny and started to feel irritating. Each chapter is told by a different character and all of them have a chance to tell us their thoughts, which was a brilliant way, as it was really great to see how each of them perceive the particular situation or what they really think.

Due to short Q&As at the end of each chapter between a journalist and one of the characters we quickly get the sense that something big has happened. Yes, it did, but it took the whole book to get to the point – a little too long for this story, to be honest, but I also understand that should it have been written differently, there wouldn’t be the grande finale that the author presented us with. However, it just felt too short and too rapid in comparison to the whole story. On the other hand, it was truly surprising and unexpected what has happened at the end.

It was an interesting, sharp – observed read that for me lacked in the final touch, the wow – effect and the idea of mixing stories of three different couples was a brilliant one, and adding then an extra person to this mix was even better, as it was for sure going to steer problems and troubles, but it was not developed. I was all the time asking myself: and? Please don’t get me wrong, I love Tracy Bloom, but this time I actually wasn’t sure what she wants to tell us with this novel. It is also billed as a “LOL Romantic Comedy” however for me it was neither LOL nor romantic nor comedy. However, I DID enjoy the book. Even though I didn’t sympathize with the characters, they were very well drawn and felt realistic. Why didn’t I sympathize with them? Well, first of all, I truly wasn’t sure why they’re calling themselves friends, I didn’t feel any bond between them, even between Beth, Sarah and Marie who have known each other since school, and well, Tony did admit, on many different occasions, that he actually has nothing in common with Chris and Duncan. They had many issues with each other and actually, they weren’t friendly, they were nasty and jealous of each other.

This book is written in this lovely, light Tracy Bloom’s writing style that I so much adore. She also for sure can create a bunch of regular, relatable characters with real problems and get them into some complicated and often hilarious situations. There is also so much depth to this story, as it touches upon love, betrayal, friendship and second chances. It makes me really sad that the book didn’t work for me as much as I was sure it’s going to, but Tracy Bloom stays at the very top of my auto – buy authors, I will read whatever she writes.

Friend of the Family by Tasmina Perry / Blog Tour

Friend of the Family by Tasmina Perry

 

 

41027488Publisher: Headline

Publishing Date: 20th September 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Suspense, Mystery

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of THE POOL HOUSE, this dark and twisty pageturner is perfect for fans of BBC’s THE REPLACEMENT, THE GIRLFRIEND by Michelle Frances and THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE.

You trust your friend, so you’d trust her daughter. Wouldn’t you…?

When an old university friend gets in touch with a request for work experience for her daughter, magazine editor Amy agrees. Twenty-year-old Josie walks into Amy’s office, moves into the basement of her Notting Hill house and is soon helping out with her children after Amy’s nanny is hit by a car. It seems the natural thing therefore for Amy to invite Josie on the family’s annual to Provence. When a series of things start to go wrong in their luxurious villa, Amy begins to suspect that Josie isn’t quite the friendly presence she appears. But when no one, not even her husband believes her, she realises she will have to play Josie at her own game in order to expose her true intentions…

Don’t miss this gripping, addictive read. You’ll never see a houseguest in the same way again…

My Review

Amy Shepherd has done well for herself – she has a lovely family and a great job as editor of a popular women’s magazine “Verve”. When a friend from her childhood, Karen, gets in touch with her, Amy is surprised but also happy. Karen hasn’t done as well as Amy, and so Amy finds herself agreeing to give Karen’s daughter Josie some work experience at her magazine. Not only this – she also puts her up at her home for the time.
However, with Josie’s arrival things seem to go belly up for Amy and her family on all counts – things begin to unravel and Amy starts to wonder, who has she let into her home? Is Josie sabotaging her life? And if so, why?

It’s a real coincidence that simultaneously I’ve been reading two books with the same leading focus of attention – inviting an old friend/daughter of a friend to your house, opening your door and heart and opportunities. What I find really good is the fact that they both were on the same level of suspense and interest.

The mystery, the “I Invited her in, I want her out” went somehow astray on the pages between Amy’s job and the banter. I wanted more tension, more puzzles to solve, really more things that could have really indicated that Josie was the real intruder. There was a moment that I felt desperate with Amy, I though she has Josie – obsession that looks very unhealthy. I can remember a book with a similar subject matter and also that it kept me on my tenterhooks, I felt all kind of emotions and I wanted this “bad girl” out so badly – here, however, it was mostly a story about Amy’s career life and it really, and sadly, lacked in the tension, suspicion, mystery. Yes, I haven’t see the final twist coming – it was a great surprise but the execution was too weak for my liking, and the things happened so quickly and too conveniently to make me feel satisfied.

What I really adored in this book was the way the characters were written – they were brilliantly developed and their personality trails were so well captured! They were not immediately – or not at all – likeable but the times when I though that you have to adore the characters to enjoy the book are long gone, I actually appreciate it more when the characters are not easy to like but they’re drawn in such a way that you feel a part of their world and you’re immediately wrapped up into their lives and relationships, and it was like this in this novel. They were mostly very smug and very self – satisfied, they all made mistakes, they all had tons of money and they always found their ways out, coming up smiling. They were not the ones to appreciate what they have, taking things mostly for granted.

“Friend of the Family” was a sharp observed and honest story about bold and beautiful, about rich and glamorous eventually felling off their high horses. The author is a great story teller and has a way with words, her dialogues flows effortlessly and her writing style is rich and sparkly. It was a stylish and elegant book about revenge, obsession and unjust accusations and how little it takes to destroy someone’s life.

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

blog2btour2bposter

 

 

Because Mummy Said So by Shari Low / Blog Tour + Guest Post

Because Mummy Said So by Shari Low

 

35820113Publisher: Head of Zeus

Publishing Date: 25th January 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Parenting & Families, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 07.02.2019)

 

Synopsis:

The era of the yummy mummy has finally gone and in order to celebrate this, Shari Low has taken a baby wipe to the glossy veneer of the school of perfect parenting and written Because I Said So to show us the truth about motherhood in all of its sleep-deprived, frazzled glory. This is a book that every experienced, new or soon-to-be parent will relate to – well, hallelujah and praise be those who worship at the temple of Febreze.

For over a decade, Shari wrote a hugely popular weekly newspaper column documenting the ups, downs and bio-hazardous laundry baskets of family life. Because I Said So is a collection of her favourite stories of parenting, featuring superheroes in pull up pants, embarrassing mistakes, disastrous summer holidays, childhood milestones, tear-jerking nativity plays, eight bouts of chickenpox and many, many discussions that were finished with the ultimate parental sticky situation get-out clause… Because I Said So.

My Review

“Because Mummy Said So” is close to life, painfully realistic and hilarious read. It is a compilation of short essays the author has written for her column and they tell us about life with two young boys, about being family – in a very realistic and brutally honest way. Oh yes, Shari Low really tells how it is – that life with young children can be very, very embarrassing but she also shows the soft side of such life, of being a part of family and how richer and fuller your life becomes when the children arrive. 

I am also a mum and I’ve also experienced many, many embarrassing moments with my daughter so I could really relate to those essays.However, I don’t know if it’s because Shari Low is a writer that she can simply better notice such situations or her boys are much more accident prone than my daughter because I can’t remember SO many embarrassing situations in my life.   

I could really relate to this book and often identify with it. Some of the stories were funny however some were a bit hit or miss for me, and some felt a bit too overdone but altogether it was a nutshell manual of how it is to be a parent nowadays. The writing style is light and engaging and funny. I would recommend it if you’re a parent and in need of a good laugh and to see that you’re not alone. Refreshing and eye – opening, showing that the era of perfect mothers is truly and really over – hallelujah!

GUEST POST:

I don’t think we’ve ever lived in more judgemental times. With social media, reality TV and glossy advertising campaigns, it seems like we’re constantly surrounded by examples of impossibly fabulous lives.

Not that having a skewed idea of perfection is a new concept.

Growing up, I always thought being a writer would be an impossibly glamorous life. I wanted to have the excitement of a Jackie Collins heroine, wear leopard print on a daily basis, and live a scandalous existence being wooed by heartthrobs who hung on my every word.

And did I mention I’d have twelve nannies for my perfectly behaved children, who would think I was the best mother ever?

Sorry. I’ve always been both shallow and deluded. It’s a personality flaw.

Of course, the reality bore no resemblance to those adolescent fantasies. I didn’t start writing until I was thirty, when – by some miracle – I managed to get a book deal and found out I was pregnant on the same day.

Ah the thrill! Followed by the wonderful but daunting reality check of real-life motherhood. Two babies in two years later, ‘excitement’ was getting through a whole day without at least one child being sick on me. The only ‘scandalous’ activity was smuggling them into a fast food restaurant for some chicken nuggets and pretending I’d fed them organic rice cakes. My dealings with leopard print involved a costume for the school show, hastily constructed with six hours notice, and David Attenborough wouldn’t have been impressed with the results. Those nannies and the perfectly behaved children? They never materialised. Instead I got two hilarious wee boys, and the husband and I muddled through, careering from one parenting mishap to another. Oh, and absolutely no-one hung on my every word. In fact, by the tenth time I’d asked them to brush their teeth in the mornings, I began to wonder if I was invisible.

However, I loved every minute of it. Even the ones that came with sleep depravation and a toxic laundry basket.

Along the way, I wrote more than twenty novels and a weekly column about the perils of parenting.

You see, I’m not afraid to admit it. My name is Shari Low and I’m an imperfect parent.

My weekly tales were a fight back against that illusion of perfect motherhood, a giggle for those in the same boat, and a rude gesture in the direction of those who judge us mums for making mistakes.

Now, my very favourite episodes are all together in Because Mummy Said So, a collection of memories spanning pregnancy to the day my eldest left home last year. Sniff. Every hilarious disaster, crisis, and mortifying moment is in there.

It’s a pick me up for the exhausted new parent, a giggle for mums who are navigating the minefield of the school years and a bit of nostalgia for the empty nesters.

And most of all, it’s a funny, real life distraction from all those impossible, manufactured images of perfection.

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

kAc6CMkw

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

 

 

51edslbgozl-_sx323_bo1204203200_Publisher: Mantle

Publishing Date: 20th September 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 600

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A rich, spellbinding new novel from the author of The Lake House—the story of a love affair and a mysterious murder that cast their shadow across generations, set in England from the 1860s until the present day.

My real name, no one remembers.
The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor in rural Oxfordshire. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery, and thievery, of art, love, and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.

Rating: three-stars

In “The Clockmaker’s Daughter” it is 1862 and a group of bohemian artists spend their time at Birchwood Manor. Its owner is the gifted artist, Edward Radcliffe. The relaxed visit is interrupted by a burglary and murder of Edward’s fiancée and a disappearance of his muse, Birdie Bell. Edward’s life is shattered to pieces.
It’s 2017 and young London archivist, Elodie Winslow, comes across a satchel hiding a photograph of a Victorian woman and a sketchbook with the drawing of a home by the river that feels very familiar to Elodie. She starts to dig and soon she is to discover a story that it’s also connected to her family, full of secrets and tragedy.

There are many different settings and the story jumps between times, however it is always underlined in which period we’re finding ourselves in, so I didn’t have any problems here and I didn’t feel confusion. Where I was a little confused though was that under all those description and many colourful and eclectic characters lay a mystery that was a brilliant idea and was incredibly captivating, yet it was somehow forgotten because of all the many other things and events. The author’s writing style is beautiful and elegant though, almost lyrical, and it wonderfully conveys the atmosphere of all the times she’s writing about.

There are many characters introduced to us – probably too many, to be honest, and instead on action this book mostly focuses on telling us their stories over a century – and this is probably where the mystery has gone a little lost. All of the characters had their own, diverse and hooking stories and maybe this was too much for this story, as it sometimes felt too overfilled. One little example, I found Elodie’s subplot starting very strong and interesting but then it lost its impact and focus, which is a shame as it was an interesting one. This tale is told through multiple narrators and with them we slowly and painstakingly learn the story and background of Birchwood Manor, its history and its residents – this especially through the eyes of the ghost, Birdie. She tells us a tale full of mysteries, murder, lies and secrets, theft, tragedy and drama that the house witnessed through generations. All the characters in this book are somehow connected to this house.

The end is beautifully and neatly wrapped up, it brings almost all the threads together, though I also had a feeling that there are still some questions open, especially about the characters from the present times. But it could be that I’ve missed something, I admit, because guys, and it pains me to tell this, to get through all the descriptions was incredibly hard and so I skipped some passages. What I didn’t miss, though, was the name of the Clockmaker’s Daughter – I was desperate to learn it.

“The Clockmaker’s Daughter” was a very complex book and I can only imagine how much research went into it! It was a very captive story, very rich in descriptions that were so eloquent and vivid, effortlessly helping to bring the setting and characters to life. It was, however, not as wonderful as I was expecting. Kate Morton has many fans out there and one of my fellow bloggers that I value very, very much always rave about her book, and so I though I must finally read a Kate Morton novel! Sadly, I couldn’t find this wow – factor and felt a little disappointed after reading it, but probably I should have started with another book of hers – I will for sure getting back to her whole previous catalogue.There were also incredible twists in this book and it brings everything you’re looking for in good historical fiction – incredibly well research, mystery, murder, romances and a hidden treasure. Please, don’t get me wrong – this book had its brilliant moments but I think it would be a real winner if it was shorter and the number of characters was reduced. I just have a feeling that the potentials of this gorgeous plot has not been made use of.
It was full of imagination and creative, a book different to any other books, filled with many interesting characters, beautiful descriptions, luminous writing, complex plot and beautifully written, and even though it was not this what I was expecting, it was still a wonderful read and a great escape into the fictional world.