A Little Bird Told Me by Marianne Holmes / Blog Tour + Extract

Hi guys, hope you are doing well on this rainy Sunday – well, at least it’s rainy here, but it’s great, I’ve been missing rain so much. And what a better way to spend such a day than to curl up with a book or read an extract from one? Here I have the Prologue to “A Little Bird Told Me” by Marianne Holmes, debut novel that is already getting many raving reviews. Enjoy!

 

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PROLOGUE

They say I’ll never find her.

Kit says it doesn’t matter because we still have each other but not a day goes by when I don’t long for the truth.

I feel her absence aching and flowing through the gaps in our story where the pieces don’t mesh. I see her presence in the spatter of freckles on Kit’s nose and the straight curtain of hair I can’t keep out of my eyes.

They say no one knows where she is.

What they really mean is, they couldn’t find her. I know that’s true because I’ve read the news reports. But there is one person who knows where she is.

 ‘Family is blood and pain,’ he said, ‘and, one day, I will hunt you down and teach you the meaning of that.’

His breath was bitter with the smell of cigarettes, his eyes spilling sparks of fury and the scar on his cheek stretched and twisted as he spoke. Or it might have. I read about that too, long after Matthew took us far away from here.

I will hunt you down,’ he said, and I know he will.

If I’m ever going to find her, this is my last chance. But if I start looking, he’ll come looking for us. I can’t help that – there’s something I need to put right.

Besides, if you were one half evil, wouldn’t you want to know about the other half?

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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.

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The Anniversary by Hilary Boyd / Blog Tour

The Anniversary by Hilary Boyd

 

 

38470197Publisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 20th September 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 416

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

A deeply emotional new novel from the bestselling author of Thursdays in the Park

Is the one you tried to forget the one you can’t live without?

Stella once thought that if she never saw Jack again, it would be too soon.

But life has other plans for her and her stubborn, handsome ex-husband.

Looking after their daughter in a time of need, Stella finds herself unwillingly reunited with the man she shared the best years of her life with – followed by the worst.

Where tragedy once tore them apart, now Stella and Jack are being drawn back together. But each of them has a new partner and a new life.

Should they fight temptation?

Should the past remain the past?

Or are some loves simply meant to be?

Rating: four-stars

Stella and Jack used to be the perfect couple – happy and totally in love. Until one day, when the tragedy happened. After that, their marriage has slowly started to fall to pieces  to eventually end in divorce. Fast forward many years and they both live their own lives with new partners and even though they have a daughter, they don’t often meet. However, it’s going to change – Eve is pregnant and needs their help. As there are many unfinished business between them, are they going to rekindle their friendship – or more – for the sake of Eve and their grandson Arthur? What is going to happen? Can they put the past to rest and focus on the present, or look even further, in the future? 

I think the author has brilliantly captured the way relationships work, and admittedly different kinds of relationships. No matter if it was a marriage or mother – daughter, or exes, if people involved were young or older, they always sounded completely realistic, with all their ups and downs and thousands of problems – the book explores them all, in a true to life way. Because of this, the characters also felt so very honest and genuine and it was really easy to fell for them and to root for them. They made mistakes and they often pushed you to your own limits, often I didn’t understand their decisions, but they were all the time real and genuine in this what they’re doing. 

Hilary Boyd’s writing style is simply beautiful. I immediately felt a part of this story. She paints a very realistic portrait of family’s dynamics. There were moments and scenes where I literally had a lump in my throat and felt my heart breaking into thousands little pieces – the book is sad, yes, it’s also sometimes tragic but it is also full of light, hope and it’s uplifting, and all those feelings and emotions are perfectly balanced. She writes so perceptively and brings all the emotions and feelings effortlessly to the pages.

My only problem was that the book was simply too long. The idea has been reformulated and remodelled through many different words, situations, events and there came a moment it was like chewing a gum, it felt as if we were going around in circles, as if the author has been trying hard to built on more elements to something that is already completely utilised. But altogether, “The Anniversary” was a beautiful, elegantly written story about second chances, families and relationships. About love and loss, about grief and hope, about finding happiness again. Full of compassion and understanding and with a great depth to it and I enjoyed it very much. Highly recommended!

 

 

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One Day in December by Josie Silver (Blog Tour)

One Day in December by Josie Silver

 

 

34879283Publisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 18th October 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A love story about what happens after you meet, or rather, don’t meet the one.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

Rating: four-stars

One Day in December, a boy meets a girl and a girl meets a boy… They fell in love and have their happily ever after. No? No! They meet but don’t meet. Laurie is on a bus home from work. He’s on the bench at the bus stop. Their eyes meet and there is this magical sparkle, this connection, almost like love at the first sight. But then the bus door closes and it drives away into the night.Laurie looks after the mysterious boy from the bus stop  for a year. And then she finds him! His name is Jack and he’s a new boyfriend of Laurie’s best friend Sarah.What do you do in this situation? Tell your friend? Or try to eject all your feelings and live the next decade full of missed opportunities? 

Although I’m not a great fan of cinema I’ve seen a few classic films, like “Sleepless in Seattle”, “Nothing Hill”, “When Harry Met Sally”, “You’ve Got Mail”, to name a few, and as a huge bookworm I’ve read some great books, such as the Lou Clark series by Jojo Moyes or “PS. I Love You”, and guys, “One Day in December” is the perfect mix of all of them. It perfectly combines and blends the magical moments, the moments that made you go “wow” when watching and reading. And it’s full of such magical and wow occassions of it’s own, bringing to us new characters that we’re going to talk about for a long, long time and, actually, never forget. But what makes this book even better is the fact that it’s challenging, it’s not fairy – tale – ish but it’s realistic and down to earth.It follows the lives of the characters over the course of ten years, skipping periods of time and jumping forwards, sometimes few weeks, sometimes months, and I must say that it was a brilliant idea – writing it like this made the book’s pace faster, and I really liked how it focused on things that were truly significant, without leaving out the details but still focusing on the most significant events and things. 

The friendship between Laurie and Sarah was gorgeous. I liked Laurie from the very beginning, but I actually was falling in love with her with every page that I’ve read, seeing how much she’s able to sacrifice in the name of friendship. This closeness covered so many years, it was the real kind, when you don’t see each other for few weeks and when you do you just start where you’ve finished, where you understand each other without words, where you’d do anything for the other person. It was real, genuine and honest. It was so incredibly easy to immediately become invested in their lives.As much as the tale is told from Laurie’s point of view, it also included chapters told from Jack’s perspective. And Jack, oh Jack… It really broke my heart more than once to see how he tried to make himself invisible and unimportant, how much he was also able to sacrifice and how much it was breaking him. 

My biggest problem with this story though was – it bothered me all the time, since I’ve finished reading it some time ago to this moment – that even though I loved it, and I fell for the characters, and I WANTED them to be together, I couldn’t feel the chemistry between them, didn’t see the sparkle! Their relationship missed it, no matter how much the author tried to convince me that they’re destined to be together, that they’re a perfect much. For me it was clear they’re perfect match, it was clear that they loved each other so much but still, this electricity between them was missing. And the end – even though extremely romantic and gorgeous – did seem too abrupt for my liking – after spending so much time avoiding each other and making excuses it only takes a chapter to solve the problem. 

This book was brilliantly written, and I don’t only mean the writing style. The author has so vividly and beautifully described the feelings and all the emotions were palpable through the pages – it was so powerful and overwhelming. It was easy, uplifting and poignant read and it had it all: beautiful friendship, unconditional love, brilliant characters, unfavourable in – laws, all the ups and downs of being young and falling in love and getting older and realising that life is not always a bed of roses. However, those elements could also be perceived as clichés. I’d also love some of the characters to be better developed, as they felt too stereotyped, too black and white, and some events happening too conventionally, just helping the plot to continue. You could also see the end coming already at the beginning of the book, but the execution and the way to this end was what absolutely fantastically worked for me and I simply loved this book. I could not only laugh and cry but I also closely felt the gut – wrenching pain, the despair of the characters, their resignation and desperation, and it can’t be easy to bring such feelings to the pages. Here Josie Silver has done and excellent job, pulling her readers into the story, making them fully invested in the characters’ lives. Of course it is also this kind of book that makes you ask yourself what would you do in this situation. Being Laurie, would you tell Sarah, taking into consideration this brilliant, honest friendship of theirs? Being Sarah, would you like to know? And if your answer is yes, what then? I didn’t find answers to these questions.

“One Day in December” was totally different to other books, refreshing, unique and addictive – you just have to know how it all is going to end! It was touching, moving and affecting, and I really often found myself holding my breath – at life being a bitch, at the unfairness of it, at the bad luck and especially at the beautifully captured feelings and emotions. It was not your usual boy meets girl, girl meets boy story, it was a love story with a difference, full of challenges and obstacles on the way and even though you could feel with your whole being how it’s going to end – or at least you want to end it in THIS way – you really don’t know, till the last moment, how it’s going to happen. I liked it that way, as I liked my books to give me all kind of emotions, and it doesn’t happen often that I can feel butterflies in my belly. A gorgeous story about love and loss, about friendship and relationships that is so much more than your usual love story, about falling in love and staying in love against all odds; about second chances, missed opportunities, about trust and about what ifs, regarding the question of all times: can love really conquer everything? Highly recommended! 

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The Psychology of Time Trave by Kate Mascarenhas (Blog Tour)

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

 

 

38330784Publisher: Head of Zeus

Publishing Date: 9th August 2018

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

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Sci – Fi & Fantasy

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 07.03.2019)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A time travel murder mystery from a brilliantly original new voice. Perfect for readers of Naomi Alderman’s The Power and Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven.

1967
Four female scientists invent a time travel machine. They are on the cusp of fame: the pioneers who opened the world to new possibilities. But then one of them suffers a breakdown and puts the whole project in peril…

2017
Ruby knows her beloved Granny Bee was a pioneer, but they never talk about the past. Though time travel is now big business, Bee has never been part of it. Then they receive a message from the future – a newspaper clipping reporting the mysterious death of an elderly lady…

2018
When Odette discovered the body she went into shock. Blood everywhere, bullet wounds, that strong reek of sulphur. But when the inquest fails to find any answers, she is frustrated. Who is this dead woman that haunts her dreams? And why is everyone determined to cover up her murder?

Rating: four-stars

In 1967, time travelling was invented by four female scientists – Barbara, Margaret, Estelle and Grace. Just before they were to introduce their invention to the world, Barbara suffers a nervous breakdown on live TV and is ejected from the project by Margaret. Soon after “the Conclave” is created by the remaining three pioneers, monopolised, with its own laws and different rules applied organisation to control time travelling and all the things it involves.
In 2017 Barbara and her granddaughter Ruby find an origami rabbit on their doorstep – a body of a woman will be found. Who is this woman? How far is she linked to the Conclave?
In 2018, a young student Odette stumbles upon a body in a toy museum. It affects her much more than she’s supposed it’s going to and so she decides to investigate – who was this woman, why was she murdered and how. All the threads lead to the Conclave – she joins it and becomes a time traveller, hoping to discover more about the death. She doesn’t know that she’s going to discover much more…

I was immediately hooked and immersed in the lives of those four strong women. They were all exceptional characters, innovative and strong, not afraid to take the initiative. Actually, all the women in this book were like this. They were intelligent and independent, not relying on men, and it was refreshing to read a book like this, where they achieved what they wanted on themselves. However, as much as I appreciated them, and no matter how well they were written, I couldn’t completely connect with them. I think it’s because of the number of the characters in this book, there were simply too many of them, and every few chapters we were introduced to a new one – in the present or in the future, and it was just doing my head. Nevertheless, I followed their stories with abated breath and actually enjoyed the diversity. Also, because of this time jumping we don’t have enough time to spend with the main characters at one period of time, to get to know them, to see what makes them tick, what did they feel, what did they think.

It takes time to get into this book, guys. The introduction is a very, very long one but to be honest it couldn’t be different. We need this time to really fully get into the heart of this story, to understand it. For me personally it really took of somewhere around the middle, when Odette applied for the job – the chapters turned into very short and the perspective changed almost on every page but it was easy to keep on track and to follow what’s going on. One thing took me a little by surprise, to be honest. I’m not a sci – fi chick, Dr. Who is absolutely not my scenery but from what I’ve seen and read about time travel there is one thing that is a no – go for this genre, and it is seeing your other – not sure how to call it – versions. I mean, you travel in time, and you see your other selves, moreover, you maintain relations with them, you tell them your future – I don’t think that it would work, do you? How confusing would that be, how dangerous. And, frankly, I didn’t get the idea of the silver and green version, I don’t know which one was supposed to be the real one.

The story follows many different threads and also it all the time jumps back and forth in time and changes points of view. However, guys, it doesn’t feel confusing. every chapter is preceded with the date and the name of the character so it was easy to follow, even with some of the characters just popping out of the blue. The plot is one of the most complex ones that I’ve come across in books and I really appreciated that, and the way it was kept clear. It also focuses on such issues like mental health, OCD and anxiety so you can see that, next to the main plot of time travelling, it’s really busy, and you expect it to flow. This element of mystery worked also really well. OK, it was actually the thing that made me feel confused, I think, it took me some time to completely understand when it happened and how it happened, but I liked it – if it were too straightforward the book would lost the tension and this element of mystery. The writing style was beautiful, very elegant and eloquent and the descriptions very detailed and vivid – they had to be, I think, to give us a chance to completely understand everything. However, what it doesn’t explain is how the time paradoxes worked, and I still can’t get over the seeing your other selves thing. Sorry. I’m repeating myself, I know, but it’s just bugging me.

I was intrigued by the premise of this book alone, but I haven’t expected that it’s going to be so good. I loved the way Ms Mascarenhas explored time travelling and what it could do to people involved in it, how people’s lives took a different shape, how it affected them and their mental health. Of course time travelling that allows to meet your other selves includes death and they are able to visit those who have died whenever they like (the dead are not surprised by those visit! See? Again, this time paradox), so it also deals with death, and maybe not taking people for granted. Altogether “The Psychology of Time Travel” is an excellent debut, mixing a variety of genres. It’s partly science – fiction, partly mystery, partly thriller and it may sound complicated and unusual but it works perfectly. It was complex and challenging, highly unique and not as sci – fi as I was afraid it’s going to be. Maybe one of the advantages is the fact that the four pioneers simply invited the time travelling machine, that there wasn’t any whys and whats, it just happened, period. It was also about love and relationships – between friends, between mothers and daughters, exploring many of them in different ways and showing various variations of them. Highly recommended!

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Anyone for Seconds? by Laurie Graham (Blog Tour)

Anyone for Seconds? by Laurie Graham

 

 

41214153Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 23rd August 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 07.03.2019)

 

 

Synopsis:

‘Why is Laurie Graham not carried on people’s shoulders through cheering crowds? Her books are brilliant!’ MARIAN KEYES

The laugh-out-loud sequel to Perfect Meringues – can former queen of the kitchen Lizzie Partridge claw her way back into the nation’s hearts?

Life has been going downhill for ex-TV chef Lizzie Partridge ever since she spectacularly ended her television career by throwing a chocolate mousse at the host of Midlands This Morning. Her partner Tom has left her, Nigella and Jamie have got the cookery world sewn up, and now her restaurant reviewing column – her last bit of work – has been cancelled. Surely the only way is up from here?

In a desperate bid for sympathy and attention she runs away, from the gas bill and the mouse under the sink, and in wet and wintry Aberystwyth she experiences a brush with her past and a glimmer of new prospects. And when her nephew – now a TV producer – has the bright idea to reunite her with her former nemesis and target of the mousse attack in a new show, it seems like things could be going Lizzie’s way again after all!

Rating: five-stars

Lizzie Partridge used to be a chef on a morning TV show but, after a very spectacular grande finale, she was replaced. But Lizzie usually never gives up and keeps going. However, we meet her when she hits a low point after being fired from a magazine that she writes recipes for. Feeling low and taken for granted, she decides to go missing to see how long will it take before her friends and family start to look for her. She maybe hasn’t been successful in this matter but during her short break she meets new people and some changes are to come. She might be 64 year old, she might be jobless and a little overweight, she might be single and her mother might rely only on her brother, but Lizzie is determined to achieve something in her life.

And I though, go girl! Show them!

Where has Laurie Graham been hiding my whole life, I’m asking myself guys. This book was so right up to my street, and the author has written loads of books and I am really, really surprised that I haven’t heard about her before – my bad. I should go and hide under a rock. Although, at the beginning, I was dead sure that I’ve read this author before, heck, that I’ve read the first book about Lizzie as it came so familiar to me. But no. I haven’t – although I’ve read a book very similar in plot. But not so good! And yes, “Anyone for Seconds?” follows adventures of Lizzie Partridge, a woman with the sharpest tongue ever and the best one – liners and replies and thinking on her feet I’ve seen in a very, very long time. I haven’t read the previous book but I didn’t have any problems to just pick up and go on.

Lizzie was a fabulous character. She was strong and determined, she complained, she was unhappy, she was an attention – seeker, she was also a drama queen, but she was so normal in all of this, so true and honest. I loved her dry humour and the way she’s seen the world and things – not only good things but she could be cynical as well. She’s seen things just as they were. Her habit of creating newspaper headlines out of things people did around her was simply great. All the characters were hilarious, but in a good way. They were impressively described and very well rounded and it was so easy to see what make them tick. They were all so different but every single one has a great and huge personality.

It was a really funny read with some much more serious and poignant moments that were so well balanced into the story. In a very amusing way we were able to experience all of the ups and downs in Lizzie’s life, the good and bad that happened to her and guys, it was impossible not to fell for Lizzie – immediately. Laurie Graham’s writing style is unbelievably sharp and she takes no prisoners, she has a great comic timing, and she always knows when to add a word or two to either break the ice or make the scene even more hilarious – not everybody can do this as effortlessly as Ms Graham. I actually had a great feeling about this book and well, it worked out. There was a great feel – good factor to it and even though our main character is older than our usual heroines, I still could relate to her on many levels and I think we just share the same sense of humour. It is this kind of book that the more you read, the more you want and I was really disappointed when the novel came to an end.

Altogether, “Anyone for Seconds?” was one of the sharpest, incredibly spot – on observed novels that I had a pleasure to read, guys. Story about new and old love, about friendship and family relationship, but also about never giving up, about living your life to the full and watching fur conventions and your best friend in a panto. It was refreshingly honest, it made me bitterly laugh at the realistic and brutally honest observations and now when I’ve discovered Laurie Graham, I’m going to go through the whole back – catalogue of her books – I really don’t know why she doesn’t receive more of the deserved recognition, guys. Highly recommended!

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Death in Provence by Serena Kent (Blog Tour)

Death in Provence by Serena Kent

 

 

40648013Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 23rd August 2018

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

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Mystery, Cosy Crime

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

When Penelope Kite swaps her humdrum life in Surrey for a picturesque farmhouse in the south of France, she imagines a simple life of long lunches and chilled rosé . . . What she doesn’t imagine is the dead body floating in her swimming pool.

Convinced that the victim suffered more than a drunken accident, Penelope plunges headlong into local intrigue and long-simmering resentments to uncover the truth.

But with a meddling estate agent, an unfriendly Chief of Police, a suspiciously charming Mayor, and the endless temptation of that second pain au chocolat, life in the delightful village of St Merlot is certainly never simple. . .

Curl up and escape to the sunshine of Provence with this deliciously entertaining mystery!

Rating: four-stars

Penelope Kite is a 50 year old retired divorcee, and after years of being at everyone’s beck and call she decides to start a new life by purchasing an old house in the south of France. The house is gorgeous but in need of many renovations, but Penelope is up for this challenge. She’s happy – until she finds a body floating in her swimming pool! Penelope soon finds out that there is more to this death as initially supposed and with police that’s not so willing to cooperate, she has to use her skills she’s learnt as a former forensic pathologist’s assistant. Who did it? And why? Is it something bigger, as there are also few attempts on Penelope’s life? 

The characters were really well – rounded, though I must admit it took me time to get used to Penelope. I’m not sure why, I had problems to get into the book and to warm to her character though there is really no particular reason why – it’s just one of those things. There were, however, very many characters, and till the end I had problems to match them, to know who is who and why and if they’re the baddies or the good ones, if they’re significant to the plot or they’re only mentioned because they just fit in to the scene. But they were also very well rounded and quirky, for example the drop – dead gorgeous mayor, Penelope’s larger than life best friend Frankie who takes no prisoners and Madame Valencourt, with her brilliant diet tips. Penelope was mature, she was smart and sassy and I admired her willpower and she was  really brave to drop everything like this and move to another country.

The mystery was really well tackled, and it was full of surprises. There were twists that I haven’t seen coming and to be honest, I have suspected probably all of the characters throughout the whole story. I think I don’t have to mention the fact that I didn’t guess who was the perpetrator even though, now when I look in retrospective, there were enough clever hints and tips from the author on the way. My bad.  

Serena Kent’s writing style is incredibly inviting and vivid. The book is set in the south of France, Provence, just like the title suggests, and the descriptions of the places, people and food were picturesque. She has managed to also reflect the spirit of the French villagers, to capture their personalities and mentality in such a realistic, true to life way. She easily brought to life the town, the landscapes, the croissants and characters. On the other hand, those many, many detailed descriptions slowed down the reading for me a little and there were moments that I had a feeling that nothing’s happening actually, that we’re there to admire the setting, and it also felt repetitive, with the repetitions of what has happened, what we’ve discovered and how far in the investigation is.  

Altogether, “Death in Provence” was a really cosy read, light and breezy. It was humorous and I really liked the characters’ sense of humour. There was this real French vibe to it and writing style was so warm and inviting – I am already looking towards Serena Kent’s next book!

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