Darling Blue by Tracy Rees (Blog Tour)

Darling Blue by Tracy Rees

 

39289997 Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 1st November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 576

Genre: Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 01.11.2018)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Blue lives a charmed life. From her family’s townhouse in Richmond, she lives the life of luxury and couldn’t want for anything – well, on the surface at least.

Then on the night of her twenty-first birthday her father makes a startling toast: he will give his daughter’s hand to whichever man can capture her heart best in the form of a love letter. But Blue has other ideas and, unwilling to play at her father’s bewildering games, she sets out on her own path to find her own destiny…

Rating: four-stars

“Darling Blue”, set in 1920’s London, follows the story of three women – Blue, Midge and Delphine and their families. It starts at Blue’s 21st birthday – her “coming of age”, when her father announces that the possible suitors should woe his daughter by letters. While marriage is not what Blue is looking for at the moment – she’d rather focus on her career as a writer – she’s horrified. But what is done is done and what is said is said and soon Blue receives a few letters that are going to change her life.
Soon after her birthday she meets Delphine, who has escaped a very abusive marriage – she never wants to return to her previous life but is it possible? However, no matter what, Blue and her family takes Delphine under their wings.

Tracy Rees takes us again on a journey in the past, in a different time – zone again. This time it’s Richmond in London in 1920’s and, as usual, she presents us with beautiful, vivid and rich descriptions of the setting, the weather, the clothes and she easily captures the atmosphere of the times, and she pays a great attention to deatils and has a great eye for them. It was, on the surface, a light – hearted story with lovely and kind characters, but deep down touching upon some serious issues, such like bullying or post – natal depression. To be honest, such depth and seriousness really surprised me, especially after the light beginning, but Tracy Rees has already got me used to the fact that she’s not afraid to write about some more sensitive stuff.

This book follows stories of three different women. Blue’s real name is Ishbel and she’s adored everywhere. Her stepmother Midge has problems of her own and she has a huge secret. But as much as you could think it’s going to be about Darling Blue, it equally focuses on the lives of Midge and Delphine, and it was a great move, to be honest, as those two women add tons of significance to this book. In my opinion, they were simply better developed and rounded than Blue, although please don’t get me wrong, she was also an interesting character that had something to say, and her desire to work and be independent was adorable. On the other hand, she was a little too self – absorbed and I had a feeling that she likes when the whole world is running in circles around her. But there was enough empathy in her, she was a great friend and open person and it was not hard to like her.
But altogether I only had a feeling that the characters were just too simple for such an author as Tracy Rees – they were either perfect and incredibly kind, or awfully unpleasant, and sometimes this just felt unrealistic.

Basically, it was a story about one year in a family’s life, though a very turbulent one. Mostly, it was well paced though there were some moments that if dragged a bit. Also, as much as I love a happy end, here it left me feel a little insatiable as the actions of one of the characters were forgotten quite quickly and quite easily, and she was welcomed back to the family without a word, and it was this little bit unrealistic, non – credible and little bit rushed, and I also had a feeling that maybe the author didn’t have a better idea how to solve this particular subplot? Also, as much as I appreciated the mysteries in this book, I quickly guessed what was going to happen. I also had a feeling that there was a very long build – up to them and then, when it finally came to the revelations, it was too rapid and not dealt with, just done and forgotten.

“Darling Blue” is a book that isn’t mostly about actions and events but mostly about characters, feelings and emotions. They are written in a gentle and captivating way that makes the pace bearable and I was actually glued to the pages – yes, waiting for something to happen, as I could feel with my whole body that there is something going to happen, but at the same time perfectly entertained by the distinctive voices of the characters. It was a great historical fiction about family, love, friendship, grief and forgiveness, with a great sense of period and written in a beautiful, colourful and detailed way that is going to sweep you off your feet for a few hours. While “Amy Snow”, Tracy Rees’s debut novel remains still my favourite of hers, I can say that with “Darling Blue” she’s following closely. Recommended!

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The Hourglass by Tracy Rees / Blog Tour

Hi guys, are you all having a great and sunny Bank Holiday?

Today I am especially THRILLED as I am kicking – off  Tracy Rees’s blog tour, celebrating her newest release, “The Hourglass”. I adore Tracy and her books, I am probably one of the hugest fans of her writing and am always impatiently waiting for new book from this author. This time Tracy Rees has something different for us but – as always – the novel is full of brilliantly drawn characters and the most beautiful setting. “The Hourglass” is out this Thursday and if you haven’t pre – ordered your copy yet, then wait no longer! It’s a hooking, multi – layered read that I am sure you’re going to enjoy!

The Hourglass by Tracy Rees

 

34136539Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 4th May  2017

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

Number of pages: 544

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

‘Tracy Rees is the most outstanding new voice in historical fiction’ Lucinda Riley. The powerful third novel from the author of the Richard and Judy bestseller Amy Snow.

  1. Sensible Nora has always taken success for granted, until suddenly her life begins to fall apart. Troubled by anxiety and nightmares, she finds herself drawn to the sweeping beaches of Tenby, a place she’s only been once before. Together with a local girl she rents a beautiful townhouse and slowly begins to settle in to her new life. But Tenby hides a secret, and Nora will soon discover that this little town by the sea has the power to heal even the most painful memories.
  2. Teenager Chloe visits Tenby every summer. She stays with relatives, and spends the long, IDYLLIC days on the beach. Every year is the same, until she meets a glamorous older boy and is instantly smitten. But on the night of their first date, Chloe comes to a realisation, the aftermath of which could haunt her forever.

The Hourglass is a moving novel about reinvention and reconciliation; about finding love even after it seems too late, about family and the healing power of a magical place by the sea.

Rating: four-stars

After two strictly historical fiction novels, Tracy Rees is trying her hand at more modern, present fiction. I must admit, “Hourglass” was not my most favourite book by this author, “Amy Snow” is still the top of my favourite reads ever, but this new release has tons of charm, is a beautiful story and I think that the author has passed this acid test with flying colours, delivering a time slip book full of feelings, emotions and relationships.
Yes, I admit, I was expecting something different, as Tracy Rees got me used to her brilliant, rich historical stories, so perhaps this is why I was a little bit confused at the beginning, but soon I started to feel very comfortable with the story and its flaw. It is a little on the slow side, this book, and compared to a very long introduction and the slow development the end seems a little too rushed and too short, and it bothered me a little, as I think this story needed a few more sparkles in the middle. It took me some time to find the connection, the tie – in, to see what all the characters have in common and what is the story that bonds them together, so maybe this is why I couldn’t get into the book for some time, looking for the clues and wondering why.

I appreciate that the chapters about Chloe and her summers are short, because how much can you write about Tenby Teens Dance and everybody admiring Chloe and her beauty and her problems with her cousin. What I so adored in those chapters was the way the feelings between Chloe and Llew were developing, without them seeing it for themselves, without them knowing or realising. It was so young and fresh and honest, however it was not at all obvious what’s going to happen with them, and I liked this small element of this mystery.

I appreciate the fact that Tracy Rees tried something different but, as much as I adored this book, I think that the previous novels by the author were better and I’d love if the next book by her were again deeply historical fiction. I am not saying that there was something wrong with “The Hourglass” – because there wasn’t, it was a beautiful story about redemption, finding love when we’re not looking for it or lost hope that we’re going to find it, about family bonds and I enjoyed every single minute spent in the company of Nora, Chloe and Jasmine. As always, the writing was beautiful, so full of feelings. The rich descriptions were vivid and drawing you in. The descriptions of the 1950’s summers, the clothes, make – ups and people’s personalities were a real joy, so vivid they were and the author brought all those elements so easily to life, and the excitement about going to the dance was so easy to grasp through the pages. I think that Chloe story was much more colourful than this of Nora, to be honest, and I couldn’t wait to see what more in store there is for her. For me Chloe was a very spirited young girl. She knew when and where to be lovely and brave and she knew when she’s able to show a little fire. There was a passion in her and she wore her heart on her sleeve. In comparison, Nora seemed a little pale, to be honest, and it took me some time to warm to her, to get into her and to understand her, but when it finally happened I truly fell for her and kept everything crossed for her. Nora underwent a transformation – at the beginning she was a uptight, closed in herself woman who seemed to have problems with everything and everyone, having anxiety problems, but slowly she started to come out of her shell and she proved she can be spontaneous, and I liked it very much. However I have never warmed to her completely, I had a feeling she has built a barrier around her that I couldn’t bypass. But – I loved to see how she was slowly regaining confidence, how she was finding her peace and her own feet.
There is a steady group of characters in “The Hourglass”, not too many and not too less. Some of them are very well described and portrayed and some of them, even though they are relatively significant characters, like for example Chloe’s cousin – well, I had a feeling that I am not able to get to know her as much as I’d like, that she’s holding back, that there is more to her but I still can’t say what it was. The little town of Tenby, where most of the story takes place is like a character of its own. Both Nora and Chloe quickly fall under its spell, the town has a great impact of them and all the best and worst things in their lives happen in Tenby.

There were too many moments, for my liking, when the story seemed to either drag on or stay in place, and there were too many repetitions of the same situations. There were not many twists and turns in this book, it was kept on a very steady level, so maybe this is why that when a twist appeared here or there eventually, they took me really by surprise, especially the one with Chloe. I was expecting something, however the things didn’t fall into place so completely, or maybe I was not careful enough, I don’t know.

Altogether, “The Hourglass” was an absorbing story about some women’s journey to find truth and their second chances. It was written in a beautiful, engaging way, full of emotions, the setting was gorgeous and effortlessly brought to life, and I could understand Chloe and Nora’s love to the place. Tracy Rees’s writing style is so incredibly warm and inviting and she can for certain create a very realistic fictional world, so that you feel like a part of the characters’ life and I really love this feeling. The author proves that with every new release she’s going from strength to strength and when picking up her novel you are going to receive a beautiful story with strong characters and well developed plot – and it is the same with “The Hourglass”. Highly recommended!

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Florence Grace by Tracy Rees

Today I am absolutely thrilled to be kincking off blog tour for Tracy Rees’s second novel „Florence Grace„. I totally LOVED Tracy’s debut novel „Amy Snow” so I was really looking forward to her new release – Ms Rees is slowly but steadily climbing to the very top of the list of my favourite authors and she can write historical fiction in an enchanting way. So sit bequem, read my review, then pre – order the book (which is out this Thursday) and thank me later for recommendation!

 

Florence Grace

by Tracy Rees

 

Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 30th June 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher,  thank you!

Number of pages: 544

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 Synopsis:

Florrie Buckley is an orphan, living on the wind-blasted moors of Cornwall. It’s a hard existence but Florrie is content; she runs wild in the mysterious landscape. She thinks her destiny is set in stone.

But when Florrie is fourteen, she inherits a never-imagined secret. She is related to a wealthy and notorious London family, the Graces. Overnight, Florrie’s life changes and she moves from country to city, from poverty to wealth.

Cut off from everyone she has ever known, Florrie struggles to learn the rules of this strange new world. And then she must try to fathom her destructive pull towards the enigmatic and troubled Turlington Grace, a man with many dark secrets of his own.

Rating: 4/5

 

„Florence Grace” is Tracy Rees’s second novel. Last year I read her debut „Amy Snow” ( I can see a pattern coming here!) and I was totally delighted with this book, and I was so looking forward to the new release. It is always exciting to see how the author manage with the success of the first book and how is the „dreaded” second novel, but no worries here, and even though I think that „Amy Snow” is as yet going to stay the author’s biggest success and my favourite of hers, „Florence Grace” is also a piece of a brilliant historical fiction.

„Florence Grace” is set in the beautiful Cornwall and London of Victorian England and the author really brings the times to life, with descriptions of the places, harsh landscapes, difficult times, clothes and lives of the characters – she has incredible, evocative way with words and everything she writes about is vivid and feels like jumping out of the pages at any moment.
There are many characters in this novel, and the author introduces us to new ones throughout the story but as there is a bunch of the main characters it doesn’t feel confusing – I didn’t feel confused to know who is who, even if the names were mentioned after some time of absence. As in the first book, also here the main character, Florence, is a strong and very spirited young girl. She’s intelligent, clever and she knows what she wants. She doesn’t care about appearances, which is mostly very clear when she’s in London, but she also realises that to survive she must fall into line. There is also a touch of magic to her – she sees flashes of the future and she can sense people, but it doesn’t overwhelm her personality and descriptions of her. It felt as if she is a step ahead of all the other people, as if she knows much more than people of the times. Brave, with open heart, I really enjoyed how she settled in to a new life, even though the people – her long – lost family – that were supposed to help her were not so keen on this and were not so tolerant of the differences.
In fact, all the other characters were really brilliantly drawn and it didn’t take long for me to start to love or hate them. The author took her time to introduce them to us and I really felt as if I know them all inside out, and I really liked it. There was a depth to them all and all of them had their own complicated personalities and had their own stories and I really appreciate that Tracy Rees hasn’t made their lives too easy – they had problems, they made mistakes, they acted and reacted like real people, and all in a way that was so absolutely suitable to the Victorian times.

Tracy Rees has also in a great way captured the differences between the wild, wild moors and the hard and harsh life there, with men working in the mines and women trying to nourish their families, and London, where life at first could seem so much easier and for sure more glamorous, but wasn’t it in fact much more difficult than in Cornwall? With all the lies, secrets and keeping appearances? And Florence has seen it immediately, she didn’t need any special gift to see this, and as much as she hated to live in lie she’s also seen the need to conform. But she’s never stopped dreaming about coming back to her roots.

The book started very promising and interesting though there were passages that dragged a bit, but after Florrie found herself in London it went a little downhill. There was one moment that made me laugh out loud when Florrie and her cousin went for an argument but other than that it was kept on a very steady level. I’m not saying the pace was not right because it was, I just had a feeling that we are going in circles about the same things and it spoiled the reading a little for me.

I truly admired the writing style. It is historical fiction, but written in a very accessible, not too pompous way, and I loved when Florence unconsciously switched into her Cornish accent. There are many twists and turns in the story – they must be when you take length of this book into consideration! – though nothing so very life – changing or too dramatic, which is a good thing, as the story flows really smoothly and it keeps the air of realism and possibility – it just sounds genuine. I only have some problems with the ending, which sounded… I don’t know, a little weird? Different? Not suitable for this story? I’m not sure, I can’t keep my finger on the thing, but it just didn’t sit with me and I’m afraid it can confuse some readers. But altogether, I really enjoyed „Florence Grace”. It was not as brilliant as the previous book but Tracy Rees kept to her standards and delivered a wonderful, detailed, very well thought through book. There was lots and more in this story. The author is a great story – teller and in Florrie she created a brilliant narrator. We have challenges in this novel, changes with all their ups and downs, searching for your own true self, following dreams, friends and foes, love and hate, hope and despair, wealth and poverty, truth and lies and staying true. Tracy Rees is growing in strength and she has found her own, lovely and distinctive voice and she is for sure the one to watch – I am already waiting for her third book.

Top Ten Books in 2015

So guys, here we are, at the end of the year – can’t believe it, to be honest. The older I am, the quicker the time passes by. Nevertheless, what a year it was, with its ups and downs, but let’s concentrate on the books. I read 211 books in 2015, most of them I rated with 5 stars, because… well, because they were absolutely brilliant novels! I discovered new authors to me, fell more in love with „old” authors, was part of many wonderful Blog Tours, interviewed many great people, was honoured to post many fantastic Guest Posts… And today I am going to tell you about my top reads in 2015 – and believe me, it was a very tough choice! The books haven’t been put into order – it would be impossible!

 

I Hope You Dance by Beth Moran – a book that took my breath away. A bitter – sweet, true to life story exploring family life – fantastic!

 

My Everything by Katie Marsh – one of the best debut novels I have EVER read – so very maturely written cracker of a book about journey through life, about developing , about getting to know each other again, about following your dreams, compromises and backing down in the name of love.

 

The Silent Hours by Cesca Major – another incredible debut. After reading this book I couldn’t settle for another novel for a long time, as it left me with a major bookish hangover. This rare gem of a book that you are going to lose yourself in and forget about everything that’s surrounding you. It’s going to leave a large impact on you and your feelings.

 

The Chateau on the Lake by Charlotte Betts – I love good historical fiction, and this book is for sure a VERY good historical fiction. It’s a perfect mix of history, romance and drama. The writing style is hooking, realistic and so very vivid and the story was, in fact, unputdownable. I’d recommend it to all, no matter if you like historical fiction or not, because it’s one helluva novel!

 

Amy Snow by Tracy Rees – this book was one of the biggest surprises this year, I really haven’t expected it to be SO good! A brilliant, compelling story that takes us on a journey through early Victorian England and gives us a bunch of strong female characters, some male characters that look so weak in comparison to our girls, but also some that are really worth to make acquaintance with, and of course give us a look at the society, with all its stereotypes, as well as intriguing mystery.

 

The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson – a year without Lucy’s book is a lost year. I can’t imagine not having Lucy in my life and all her novels were rated by me with 5 stars. „The Day We Disappeared” is an incredible story of secrets, friends, family and honesty. I can only say, drop everything you do and go and buy this book – and you don’t have to thank me for recommendation this time.

 

A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor – it was my first book by Hazel Gaynor and it left me speechless. It was a wonderful, beautifully written novel that is going to stay with you for a very long time, a book that comes upon once in a while and a book that you don’t want to leave, to depart with.

 

Ivy Lane by Cathy Bramley – though I think I should put here all books by Cathy Bramley, as they all deserve to be mentioned! There is everything you could wish for in a book, humour, sadness, love, friendship, hope, together with fantastic writing and brilliant characters. And who knows, maybe you’re going to discover that you do have green fingers after reading the book? Highly recommended, this book for sure is going to lift your mood up and it could be a perfect escape for some time! I have read it twice already!

 

The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester – another fantastic debut this year, I couldn’t stop thinking about this book for a long time! There was everything that I could wish for in a book: brilliantly created atmosphere, fantastic times, vivid characters, mystery, drama but also a lot of dark and sharp humour. Full of twist and turns, surprises and gasps from me.

 

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin – last but not least, and I think this book has the biggest impact on me, and if I were forced to choose my absolute winner I guess this would be THE ONE.  Be prepared that when you start reading the book, you won’t be able to put it down. I have found myself reading it and reading, thinking only one more page. You know what’s going to happen, you know there is no hope, but nevertheless, you keep reading because you just want to know. After I finished this book I couldn’t move for some time, and it’s good that I was home alone, that nobody’s seen the tears pouring down my face. I knew how it’s going to end, but nevertheless, it didn’t make it easier for me. But it was without a doubt one of the most stunning, moving, beautiful books that I have come across.