c Garden, Tea, Cakes, (Books) and Me

Historical Audiobook and Instagram Group Buddy Read The Appeal by Janice Hallet

Are you ready for a book update, two recommended books. An audiobook and a paperback. You should spot some of the items I'm making, whilst I have slipped into another fictional world of an audiobook. 

sewing machine audio book The Collectors Daughter

The Collector's Daughter by Gill Paul

Synopsis
Lady Evelyn Herbert was the daughter of the Earl of Carnarvon, brought up in stunning Highclere Castle. Popular and pretty, she seemed destined for a prestigious marriage, but she had other ideas. Instead, she left behind the world of society balls and chaperones to travel to the Egyptian desert, where she hoped to become a lady archaeologist, working alongside her father and Howard Carter in the hunt for an undisturbed tomb.

In November 1922, their dreams came true when they discovered the burial place of Tutankhamun, packed full of gold and unimaginable riches, and she was the first person to crawl inside for three thousand years. She called it the “greatest moment” of her life—but soon afterwards everything changed, with a string of tragedies that left her world a darker, sadder place.

Newspapers claimed it was “the curse of Tutankhamun,” but Howard Carter said no rational person would entertain such nonsense. Yet fifty years later, when an Egyptian academic came asking questions about what really happened in the tomb, it unleashed a new chain of events that seemed to threaten the happiness Eve had finally found.

My Review
This was a delightful read in the historical fiction genre, listened to as an audiobook. I do enjoy a book that picks a moment in history as a basis for a novel, in this case, it's the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb. 
We follow the life of Lady Evelyn Herbert, daughter of the Earl of Carnarvon (Highclere Castle).  Now elderly and in hospital following a stroke, she starts to reflect on her life.  The arrival of an academic from Egypt wanting to question her about some artifacts missing from Tutankamun's collection opens up some long-forgotten memories.
Reflecting on her life Lady Evelyn describes the events leading up to, the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb by her father, Howard Carter, and herself. It was absolutely fascinating.
A pleasure to listen to, hearing all about the life of the well to do throughout the 20th century. How the curse of Tutankamun touched the lives of many of those associated with the discovery.

A great story to get lost into, it is worth remembering though this is a fictionalised story of Lady Herbert.
 
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Just hitting a four-star read for me!

Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK Audio for a review copy.



Time to catch up with what has been happening over on Instagram. The big news in September...I held a group buddy read of The Appeal by Janice Hallet. Just over 20 booklovers read-along with this new and exciting murder mystery novel, I shared prompts throughout the month followed by 2 Zoom book discussion sessions. It was all rather nerve-racking at first, but a lovely group of ladies soon settled into a fun and relaxed read-along. 
 

You can enjoy 30 free days, enough time to listen to 3 or 4 books. Then it's £7.99 a month, that's the cost 2 fancy hot chocolates at Costa, or a paperback book. 

By using the link below to buy a copy of the books I'm recommending I earn a tiny amount of commission. 

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2021 Mid Year Book Favourites With Review

book review The Rose Code Daughters of Night
Book Review Time
I've read/listened to some great books during 2021, as we are halfway through I thought I would highlight a few of my favourites.  Both books fall into the historical fiction genre, one set during WW1 at Bletchley Park, England, the other follows a murder in Georgian, London 1782.

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn 

Having enjoyed The Alice Network earlier this year by the same author, I jumped at the chance to read this book in advance of its publication earlier this year. Coming up is the synopsis followed by a photo with my review published on Instagram.

Synopsis
1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.

1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter--the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger--and their true enemy--closer... 

There was something about this book that really called to me, the writing style, the characters, I'm not sure but it was the right book at the right time.
4 1/2 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Huge thanks to NetGalley and harper collins for an advanced reader copy for review.

Daughters of Night  by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

Synopsis 
From the brothels and gin-shops of Covent Garden to the elegant townhouses of Mayfair, Laura Shepherd-Robinson's Daughters of Night follows Caroline Corsham, as she seeks justice for a murdered woman whom London society would rather forget . . .

Lucia’s fingers found her own. She gazed at Caro as if from a distance. Her lips parted, her words a whisper: ‘He knows.’

London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline 'Caro' Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly-paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thieftaker, Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives.

But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro's own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous than she can know . . . 

Daughters of Night review audiobook


Review
Although I listened to this as an audiobook I have also previously read the physical book. Yes, that’s right I loved reading the book so much I wanted to immerse myself back into Georgian, London by listening to the audiobook.  

It’s another excellent historical crime thriller from Laura Shepherd-Robinson. Complex multi-layer storylines, with great characters you will love and dislike. For those of you that have read her previous novel Blood and Sugar, you’ll enjoy the cross-over of characters into this book, though it’s not necessary to have read her previous novel.

Murder awaits in the illuminated night of Vauxhall pleasure Gardens London 1782, I enjoyed the descriptions of the pleasure gardens, particularly those when they’re illuminated in the evening. When you think there was no electricity at that time, absolutely fascinating to find out more about it.

The main character Caroline (Caro) Corsham finds a woman mortally wounded in the bowers of Vauxhall pleasure gardens. When the constables discover that the deceased woman was a high society lady of the night, they stop searching for a killer and it is up to Caro to seek justice.  

Putting female characters to the forefront of this story, in a position women wouldn’t normally have in Georgian society. There are detailed descriptions, complex characters multiple storylines, and this book will give you an insight into the Georgian, England so often swept under the carpet. Caro Corsham is not your average high society lady, for she herself has something to hide.

You don’t need to have read the previous book Blood and Sugar,  it’s not vital for the storyline, there are a few reoccurring characters and we certainly get to know one of the characters an awful lot better. Peregrine Child, a thief-taker, he was very intriguing in Blood and Sugar so it’s great to find out more about him. A thief-taker is a man to go to when a gentleman is in a fix, lost some compromising letters, had a diamond necklace stolen, Peregrine child was the man to help them.

Things involve Caro's brother, a member of parliament, and even the heir to the throne of England, mix in ladies of the night it becomes clear that some people are not who they appear to be.

I've never known so much about the complexities of operating and running an exclusive brothel in Georgian London.

As an audiobook you will need to be paying attention, there are plenty of characters. Unlike the physical book, you will not have a character list to refer to. 
Length of book 15 hours 29 minutes.

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Huge thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan UK Audio for an advanced reader copy for review.

Reading Challenge Update
I have no Reading Challenge for 2021, I felt I could never top my epic year of reading during the initial pandemic of 2020. So I've decided to go with the flow.


You can keep up to date with my past and present reads by visiting my Goodreads page, see the link in the sidebar on the right-hand side of your screen. Or follow me on Instagram see the sidebar for a link to my account GardenTeaCakesBooksandMe.



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Audio Book Reviews : CL Taylor Strangers & Historical Fiction



I have another selection of audiobook reviews for you in my latest blog post, an historical fiction, a modern day thriller and another historical fiction set during world war 1 and 2.

Audiobooks have been a real help to me in the last few weeks,  sometimes we need a little distraction to find our way to relaxing, and eventually sleep. Audiobooks have worked very successfully in helping me achieve this.  So what have listened to over the last few months:

Strangers by CL Taylor 

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers
 by Hazel Gaynor

After months of waiting on the reserve list for The Alice Network, I received the long-awaited notification, that it had been loaned to me. This was one of those books I found whilst searching the library app for a suitable book to listen to. The only reason I added my name to the list, because there were so many other people in the queue. I thought 'ooh this must be a good read if so many people are waiting for it', you get the gist. I've done this before with a few other books and got swept up with the anticipation, only to be terribly disappointed. Find out later in this post how the book faired...

Strangers  by CL Taylor (9 hours 30 minutes)

Synopsis
Ursula, Gareth and Alice have never met before. Ursula thinks she killed the love of her life. Gareth’s been receiving strange postcards. And Alice is being stalked. None of them are used to relying on others – but when the three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide, there’s only one thing for it: they have to stick together. Otherwise, one of them will die.

Three strangers, two secrets, one terrifying evening. This novel will keep you guessing until the end.
 

My Review
I do enjoy a book where each character's story starts off as a separate journey only for them to converge and interlink towards the end of a book.  This is done very effectively in Strangers, and it is well into the book 75% before the reader reaches this point. It did take me a little while to settle into the characters, not sure if this was just an audiobook thing.

As a reader you really did feel the conflicts Gareth faced, working as a security guard whilst looking after his mum with dementia.

I found Ursula to be the character with the most interest and intrigue about her, she was quirky, odd, and thoughtful. I had a lot of concern for her safety with some of the choices she made! But when she converges with Gareth and Alice towards the end of the book all becomes clear.  

I was definitely taken in with a number of the red herrings. I liked the use of the shopping centre as the location for the collision of the characters.

My fourth CL Taylor book, and this ranks as my second favourite following Sleep. 

Thanks to Harper Collins Audio and Avon for an audiobook edition of this book, which I listened to via Netgalley.

3.5-4 stars out of 5

You can purchase this book as audio, kindle or paperback from AmazonBy using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 


The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (15 hours)

Synopsis
In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth...no matter where it leads.

 
My Review
I loved this dual timeline historical book, which I listened to as an audiobook. I realised that I have read very few if any WW1 / 2 related novels, and I particularly found the aspect of the spies and resistance fascinating.  Who do you trust, who will turn you in? The tension and anxiety of the characters come across really well, you really do feel involved in the storyline. The narrator does an excellent job of bringing the characters and story to life, I do find a narrator can really effect a reader's enjoyment of a book. 

My favourite character was Eve Gardiner, she's gritty, unforgiving, and cool as they come. The revealing of her past and the life she endured to help others, reflects the character's traits later in the storyline. 

There were times, when I did just slightly get confused between the timelines. Which I know is down to me reading this book as an audiobook, it only takes a moment for your mind to wonder.

I spotted on Twitter recently that there is a another book in this series due out soon, one I will certainly want to read.

4 out of 5 stars

You can purchase this book as audio, kindle or paperback from AmazonBy using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 
A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers by Hazel Gaynor (10 hours 30 minutes)

Synopsis
In 1912, twenty-year-old Tilly Harper leaves the peace and beauty of her native Lake District for London, to become assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls. For years, the home has cared for London’s flower girls—orphaned and crippled children living on the grimy streets and selling posies of violets and watercress to survive.

Soon after she arrives, Tilly discovers a diary written by an orphan named Florrie—a young Irish flower girl who died of a broken heart after she and her sister, Rosie, were separated. Moved by Florrie’s pain and all she endured in her brief life, Tilly sets out to discover what happened to Rosie. But the search will not be easy. Full of twists and surprises, it leads the caring and determined young woman into unexpected places, including the depths of her own heart. 

My Review
I always feel passionate when I discover a historical book that not only tells a tale but educates the reader on the social history of England. Children and adults alike living in squalor, with few clothes or possessions and very little to eat. Life in central London during Edwardian England was certainly bleak if your were anything but wealthy. 

We follow two children selling small posies of flowers in the street for pennies, the reader is immersed into the lives of sisters Florrie and Rosie. 

It was really interesting to hear about the establishment of the Crippleage and Flower Girls Mission at Clerkenwell combined within the story of two fictional flower girls.  I also never knew that during winter the flowers girls sold watercress.   

I enjoyed the tale of Florrie and Rosie, if took some turns I had not been expecting. I like how Tilly Harper was used to continue their story when she discovers Florries diary. Through the story of Tilly we also visit the Lake District and the seaside at Clacton.
 
I had not expected there to be a twist to this tale but there was one towards the end, surprised I was. A most enjoyable book.

4 stars out of 5

You can purchase this book as audio, kindle or paperback from AmazonBy using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 


Where to get your audiobooks
I listen to many of my books for free from my local library, but if this is not an option for you another way to listen to them is to pay for a subscription to Audible. You can find more information about Audible including signing up with them here.

A quick mention to the lovely yarns you may have spotted in one of the photos above. I'm in the process of knitting a Christmas Stocking, one I can hang up every year. This is a kit from Wool is the Answer, which also includes the pattern, the yarn is a very soft merino wool.


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Audiobook Reviews including The Switch and Netgalley App

audio book reviews netgalley app


Today I'm talking about the most recent audiobooks I have listened to. All of the books were free for me to download and enjoy. Two of them from my local library using the very well known Libby app, and one my first audiobook for review from NetGalley. 
 

  • The Switch by Beth O'Leary (NetGalley)
  • The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant (library Libby app)
  • The Wife Between US by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen (library Libby app)


NetGalley App
Let's talk briefly about the NetGalley app. An app available for influencers or regular book readers to request advanced copies of books for review. When NetGalley initially launched their app, for ebooks as well as audiobooks,  I did encounter a number of issues which made it impossible for me to even download an audiobook.  But, I am pleased to say that following a number of updates NetGalley has rectified the majority of problems and I am now able to enjoy selected audiobooks for free in return for an honest review. I love the sleep function on the app, perfect for us bedtime readers. Just occasionally the audiobook may not respond if, for example, I've paused the book, but it's not every time. Simply closing the app and reopening it sorts it out.  Oh for those of you that are interested I use an Andriod Google Pixel 2 phone.

Book Review Time

The Switch by Beth O'Leary run time 10 hours 11 minutes (NetGalley)
Contemporary Romance Genre
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️3.5 - 4 stars on Goodreads
Netgalley app audiobook


Synopsis
Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena's tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it's time they swapped places...

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen's house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She'd like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn't offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen's romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbors and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another's shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn't as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect - and distractingly handsome - school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbors, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

My Review
Firstly, whoever had the idea to cast Alison Steadman as the voice of Eileen is a genius. She bought so much to the role and personality of Leena's grandmother. 

This is a light contemporary novel but with some important messages for the reader, I suspect the book is drawn to a younger audience. The balance and the importance of the lives of younger people mixing with older people and vice versa. It also makes the reader aware that older people have an important part to play in the life of the community around them. It touches on loneliness, neighbours, and how to get involved and be part of a community.

Dealing with love, grief, domestic violence yet the book has a lighthearted and at times funny appeal. Listmakers and project plans, I mean, everyone loves a list.

A most enjoyable book to listen to, it kept me engaged throughout the whole story. In fact, I listened to the book quite quickly as a result and it kept me company whilst I was sewing. 

This book is available as an audio book from Audible or kindle or paperback.

Many thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan Audio for a review copy of this audiobook.


The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant run time 10 hours 45 minutes
Young Adult Fantasy Genre
⭐️⭐️⭐️3.5 stars on Goodreads


 

Synopsis
A diverse fantasy reimagining of Les Misérables and The Jungle Book.

In the dark days following a failed French Revolution, in the violent jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, young cat-burglar Eponine (Nina) Thenardier goes head to head with merciless royalty, and the lords of the city's criminal underworld to save the life of her adopted sister Cosette (Ettie).

Her vow will take her from the city’s dark underbelly, through a dawning revolution, to the very heart of the glittering court of Louis XVII, where she must make an impossible choice between guild, blood, betrayal and war.
My Review

A clever Young Adult fantasy reimagining of Les Misérables and The Jungle Book. An enjoyable read as an audiobook, I didn't have to think too hard with many of the characters as I am quite familiar with the Les Miserables story so they were very recognisable.

Enjoyed the underworld aspect of the story, which needed the contrast of the court of Lois XVII for it to shine through the darkness that surrounded it. Though by the time I had got to the 9hour mark of the book I was ready for it to have finished. Part of a series of books, which if the next book appeared on my library app as available to loan I may well check it out. Not sure I would go looking for it.

The audio narrator of this book did a very convincing job of capturing the different characters in the book.



The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
run time 11 hours 13 minutes
Mystery Thriller
⭐️⭐️⭐️ 2.5 stars on Goodreads
audio book reviews the wife between us


Synopsis
When you listen to this audiobook, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are listening to a story about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

Twisted and deliciously chilling, The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage - and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

Listen for the truth between the lies. 

My Review
Disappointing audiobook, although I know I disagree with the vast majority of readers. Possibly not helped that I did not particularly enjoy the narrating, and that the book I really wanted to listen to on the library app was not available and this was a fill-in. 

Not sure I would have persisted reading this if it was a physical book. Nothing particularly surprising in the storyline except for the slight twist at the end. Although I don't think it's worth going through the whole book just for the twist.

If you have read this book, I would love to know how you found it and what star rating you would have given it.

Reading Challenge Update

My 2020 Reading Challenge has been blown out of the water thanks to the pandemic of 2020. It's currently early November and I have read 70 books.  I have just started listening to The Alice Network audiobook which is set just after the second world war. 

You can keep up to date with my past and present reads by visiting my Goodreads page, see the link in the sidebar on the right-hand side of your screen. 

Have you read any good books of late? Let me know with a comment below ⬇️⬇️⬇️


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Book Reviews September 2020



I have some exciting and very different book reviews for you. A new YA book, a modern classic, and a historical book from Philippa Gregory. 

The Island by CL Taylor book review


The Island by C.L. Taylor
I scored this book 3.5/5 on Goodreads

I was excited to get the chance to read this latest book by C.L.Taylor, I've very much enjoyed her previous books.  The Island is written for the Young Adult market but certainly transfers well as a fiction read, it also gives me the chance to read a book I can happily recommend for my nearly 15-year-old niece. 

So what's the book about?
A group of friends goes on holiday with their families every year, this year they are holidaying in Thailand, for a birthday surprise, the teenage children are treated to a 'survival weekend' on an island. The children already have well-developed relationships, as their parents have known each other since the children were born.

They ship out to the island with a local survival expert Anuman. Some of the characters embrace becoming the next Ray Mears, whilst some are less than impressed they have no mobile phone coverage. But things very soon take a serious turn... death, equipment goes missing, lack of water and food, shelter, divisions in the group. But who is to blame and what can they do about it.

My thoughts on The Island
Through the use of the survival weekend, the author tackles many subjects that have touched the lives of the children, including bullying, love, the death of a loved one, mental health issues, and self-harm. All of which are captured and told in a balanced way. 

This book is well-paced, will keep the reader engaged and eager to read more. Very occasionally I did think 'oh really' to the believability of the lack of injuries some of the characters suffered from. There was nothing overtly sexual or violent within the story. 
 
Why have I waited so long to read another YA book?

Thank you to NetGalley and HQ publishers for an advanced copy of this book to review. The publication date is 21st Jan 2021.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier Book Review


Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier 
I scored this book 4/5 on Goodreads

I was prompted to read this well-loved modern classic following a read-along on Instagram. 

Synopsis
Rebecca is the previous wife of Max De Winter, a well to do English family. The main character becomes the next Mrs De Winter, meeting Max in the south of France whilst she is the young companion to an elderly English lady. Swept off her feet she marries Max Du Winter and returns to Mandalay the grand house of the Du Winters sited on the coast of Cornwall. 

It soon becomes apparent that the previous wife Rebecca was very well-loved by the staff and locals before dying tragically in a sailing accident. Trying her best to settle in, no matter what the new Mrs Du Winter does it's not how Rebecca would do it. The more she explores in the house and garden, the more she realises something is not right.

My Thoughts on Rebecca
The events that follow a huge house party, see the past rise again. But what does this mean to Max, was he involved in the sailing accident that killed his first wife. All is slowly revealed. It is at this point in the story that I could not put the book down.

Another very good read by Du Maurier. I enjoyed following the development of the character the second Mrs De Winter, how clever she does not even have a name. Although at first I really did not take to her, she seemed very silly and nieve, but there is a significant point in the story when my opinion of her changed and I saw her as a woman and not a silly girl. 

I also enjoy the ending of a du Maurier book, the ending is never left with a nice tidy bow on it. It is often left with a question mark, or for the reader to decide a fitting ending based on the evidence/information in the story. Her book My Cousin Rachel is a good example of this. 

Respectable Trade Philippa Gregory Book Review


A Respectable Trade by Philippa Gregory
I scored this book 4/5 on Goodreads

Having read many Philippa Gregory books all of which have been a series of books. This was my first standalone book.

Synopsis
Set during the 18th century, we follow a Bristol dockside trader, who wants to join the successful traders of Bristol and increase his standing and class in the city. To do this Josiah Cole needs ready cash and a well-connected wife. An arranged marriage to Frances Scott provides him with that step-up in society.  Using Frances connections he connects with the wealthy merchants in the city. Frances now finds that her life and fortune now depend on the respectable trade of sugar, rum, and slaves. 

My Review on A Respectable Trade 
(there are a few slight spoilers in my review)
There are very few moments in this book that do not leave the reader in shock, disbelief, and despair at the actions taken by our ancestors. What is so very wrong to us today, is shouted out as being as the title of the book say 'respectable'.   

Poor Frances a weak and unhealthy wife wants so very much to move from the dank dockside home and warehouse to a house in a respectable area of the town. She comes face to face with slavery when Josiah's lastest shipment docks, bringing not just sugar and rum but a handful of slaves to their home. 

We follow the capture of the African slaves and in detail the horrendous journey to the West Indies and on to Bristol. Treated worse than dogs, not even thought of as human beings, many of them would rather kill themselves.

It is for Frances to train these slaves, so that the upper classes may buy one as a pet. The more she knows them, the more she sees them as people, but Frances a woman in the 18th century has a duty to her husband and must do as she is told. The injustice of women during this time, the class system, slavery, and racial difference create an interesting and challenging read. Though occasionally I felt it a little too romance novelish.

I was left not being able to comprehend how the people who like to think of themselves as eductated could not see how very wrong everything they were doing was. Blinded by money, ignorance, and money the worst of the human race.  

Not only does Philippa Gregory portray to the reader the journey of sugar, and how this commodity drives the trade in slaves. But she also tells the reader the consequence of this on Africa, removing millions of people from their country and the longterm effect this has on the growth and future of Africa.  It certainly had me thinking. A harsh story but one that must be told.

I picked up a copy of this book for 99p when it was on offer as a Kindle read. Check out todays Kindle deals of the day.
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Looking for books to read check out my 

You can keep up to date with my past and present reads by visiting my Goodreads page, see the link in the sidebar on the right-hand side of your screen. 

Have you read any good books of late?
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Watercolor Is For Everyone Book Review


It is not often I get to review a hobby book, so was pleased when I had a chance to with Watercolor is for Everyone by Kateri Ewing. It has been 18 months since I discovered art as a hobby, I started going to a local class Art for Enjoyment.  It really is aimed at all levels, that's what makes it so relaxing and fun to attend. Over the months (pre-covid) we have tried watercolours, pastels, brusho, watercolor wax batik, paper collage, life drawings, and demonstration artists.  

When the COVID 19 pandemic hit, I really thought art would be a place I could escape to. But I found I had little enthusiasm to even pick up a brush, I'm really not sure why. Early on I could barely pick up a book to read, but found audio books a great distraction particularly during restless nights of sleep.  
Then in July I got the chance to review Kateri Ewings, Watercolor is for Everybody. I picked up the book and started flicking through the pages and looking at some of the tutorials.  I sat down with a cuppa and read through the exercises, then I got out my paints. 

The book is about using watercolours to create patterns, seeing how the paints and water merge and flow on the paper.  A chance to create without the pressure of a fixed detailed scene.  

The author shares in detail all the items and materials required, and why she chose them, you also get to see her paints in detail.  Most items I already had as a hobby watercolourist, though I did not have the metallic paints though not essential to enjoy the exercises.   

For each exercise you will find a list of materials, it also has a name, and an explanation on how painting is more than just paint or a scene, the author talks about emotion, mood, and creativity. Also suggested is putting on music that you love to listen to whilst painting, adding drops of essential oil to your pot of water.  I particularly enjoyed Many Voices, One Song exercise which involved using some coins something everyone will have to hand. You can see a copy of my creation below. 

This book contains 20 exercises to help you enjoy relaxing with watercolours, bring benefits to both health and well-being.  Most of these exercises I had not come across before and are certainly aimed at everyone. They can be repeated time and time again as your confidence grows in understanding how the paints move and blend into each other, and how your mood takes you.

Watercolor is for Everyone Book Review

Here is a photo of two of the exercises I completed Many Voices, One Song (top) and Beginners Mind, Beginners Soul (bottom).  

Watercolor is for Everyone by Kateri Ewing is available to buy from all good book shops and online. Currently available at Amazon for £11.99.  
By using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 


Thank you to Net Galley for an Advanced Readers Copy of this book.
 

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