c 2020 | Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me

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

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


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

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. 

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.

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.

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. 

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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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May 2020 Book Reviews Part 3 of 3

Daughters of Night Laura Shepherd Robinson Book Review
It's time for  part three of my May reads, if you missed the previous two don't worry there are links at the end of the book reviews below.

So Coming up...

We have the beautifully illustrated The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mcksay and my Agatha Christie read of May, They Do It With Mirrors. Along with a teaser review of Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson.

There are never any spoilers in my book reviews so read ahead with confidence knowing there are no plot giveaways.
the boy mole fox horse illustrated book review

The Boy, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mcksay

Enter the world of Charlie's four unlikely friends, discover their story and their most important life lessons.
My Review
This book reached me at an important time, it was a few weeks into the Corona virus lockdown here in the UK. Things were starting to feel very odd and different - everything we did was not the same as it used to be. Then my middle sister delivered along with some shopping this gifted book.  

So one morning with a cup of tea I sat down to start reading it. I had no idea what to expect, it has appeared quite a lot on Instagram but hadn't really paid much attention, thinking it was a childrens book.  So it was a real pleasure when I opened the cover, to discover such a wonder of words and paintings.  As someone who has discovered art in the last few years, it was an absolute delight to see the wonderful use of paint brush and paints that captured the imagination and tone of the book. I really should tell you about the story...

The book is about a small boy who goes out and befriends a mole, they then go on to meet a fox, these three new friends go on to meet a horse. The words in the book are simple yet powerful, they capture friendship, worry, loneliness, happiness and love. The story is cleverly written, in that each reader will associate more closely when one of the characters shares an insight into an emotion they too my be feeling. 
the boy mole fox horse illustrated book review

I'll confess that as I was reading this book during the first few weeks of the lock in the following quote had my eyes well up with tears. 

"Sometimes I feel lost." said the boy.  "Me too", said the mole, "but we love you, and love brings you home".

So sit down with the book and a cup of tea and indulge in a little me time. Enjoy the friendship of the unusual characters, the thought provoking words and the beauty of the drawings.   

A big thank you to my sister for buying such a special and uniquely illustrated book. I think I need to get her to write in the front of it, so I will always remember it found its way to me during the pandemic of 2020.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy can purchase from Amazon as an ebook, hardback and audio bookBy using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 

They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie
A man is shot at in a juvenile reform home – but someone else dies…

Miss Marple senses danger when she visits a friend living in a Victorian mansion which doubles as a rehabilitation centre for delinquents. Her fears are confirmed when a youth fires a revolver at the administrator, Lewis Serrocold. Neither is injured. But a mysterious visitor, Mr Gilbrandsen, is less fortunate – shot dead simultaneously in another part of the building.

Pure coincidence? Miss Marple thinks not, and vows to discover the real reason for Mr Gilbrandsen’s visit.
My Review
This is the fifth of my Miss Marple books, I'm aiming to read one of her sleuthing adventures a month in 2020. 

Currently it is fair to say that this is my least favourite of the Miss Marple books I've read so far. I didn't particularly enjoy the setting of the book, a rehabilitation centre for delinquents, there were also very few characters that I liked or enjoyed reading about. The exceptions being Mr Gilbrandsen, the lead Inspector and of course Miss Marple is a given. 

I should add that I also didn't guess who the murderer was and as it says from the title they do it with mirrors it was all a bit of an illusion and a mystery, and it certainly was to me.

Any of the Miss Marple books I have read can be ordered from Amazon as an ebook, hardback and audio bookBy using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 

Daughters of Night Blood and Sugar Laura Shepherd Robinson Review

Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson
This is a teaser review 
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 . . .

Teaser Review
That synopsis alone must have you wanting more of this book! Written by the author who also wrote Blood and Sugar, you can read my review of her debut book here. Daughters of Night was due to be released in June 2020 but due to the pandemic has been rescheduled to January 2021. Me, being ever so lucky and extremely grateful was sent an advanced readers copy to read and review. I have read the book but will leave a more comprehensive review for later this year.

There is no need to have read the previous book Blood and Sugar to read Daughters of Night, but I certainly would recommend it. There are a number of cross over characters between the books.

I was excited to see this book focus on the wife of Harry Corsham, who was the main character in Blood and Sugar. Just like her previous book Laura writes about history that is gritty and at times a difficult subject to read. But life in Georgian England was a matter of existence, something Laura captures particularly well. The desperation to find food for the next meal, the short working life of a high end prostitute, and don't start me on the supposed ethics of gentlemen.  

A great read, could not put it down. Plenty of inter weaving storylines, to keep the reader thinking. Also, I love it when a book includes a list of households at the beginning, makes referencing back to characters so much easier. 

Full review later this year, but do remember that this book can be pre-ordered now, see link below. My thanks to Mantle Books and Pan Macmillan for my advanced copy.

Both Blood and Sugar  and Daughters of Night (Pre-order) can be ordered from Amazon as an ebook, hardback and audio book
By using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 

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May Reads Part 2 of 3 - Audio Books

Audio Best Book Reviews 2020

This blog post is Part 2 of my May 2020 Book Reviews you can read part 1 here.  There were only two audio books completed this month, the third book I am still listening to, and it may be a while before I finish it. The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel is a mammoth 38 hours long and I'm not even half way through. 

Audio Book Reviews Crime Thriller Corben

Missing You by Harlan Coben
It's a profile, like all the others on the online dating site. But as NYPD Detective Kat Donovan focuses on the accompanying picture, she feels her whole world explode, as emotions she’s ignored for decades come crashing down on her. Staring back at her is her ex-fiancé Jeff, the man who shattered her heart—and who she hasn’t seen in 18 years.

Kat feels a spark, wondering if this might be the moment when past tragedies recede and a new world opens up to her. But when she reaches out to the man in the profile, her reawakened hope quickly darkens into suspicion and then terror as an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light, in which monsters prey upon the most vulnerable.

As the body count mounts and Kat's hope for a second chance with Jeff grows more and more elusive, she is consumed by an investigation that challenges her feelings about everyone she ever loved—her former fiancé, her mother, and even her father, whose cruel murder so long ago has never been fully explained. With lives on the line, including her own, Kat must venture deeper into the darkness than she ever has before, and discover if she has the strength to survive what she finds there.
My Review
Having watched the Netflix series The stranger by Harlan Coben in April and thoroughly enjoying it, I was drawn towards Missing You when the audio book appeared as available to loan to on my library app. Set in New York, with a strong female police officer leading the story, there is the Italian mob from years gone by, and kidnappers to worry about. I found the story a little drawn out and think it would of benefited from being shorter.

It didn't quite meet my expectations, but it was a reasonable detective thriller. Plenty of twists along the way and some unusual characters, there were people that didn't appear to be who you thought they were. I'm I going to pick it up another one of Harlan Coben books, probably yes. A quick word about the narrator of the book, I didn't like some of the ways he flipped his voice and his accent doing nothing to capture the characters, they just didn't seem that genuine. Maybe I would of enjoyed the book more with a different narrator.
3 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. 

Audio book review greek myths

Mythos and other Greek myths by by Stephen Fry
The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney.

They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. In Stephen Fry's hands the stories of the titans and gods become a brilliantly entertaining account of ribaldry and revelry, warfare and worship, debauchery, love affairs and life lessons, slayings and suicides, triumphs and tragedies.

You'll fall in love with Zeus, marvel at the birth of Athena, wince at Cronus and Gaia's revenge on Ouranos, weep with King Midas and hunt with the beautiful and ferocious Artemis.

My Review
This popped up in the available audio books to lend on my library app. I was tempted because it was a Stephen Fry book, of which I have not read any, and mostly because he was narrating it. 

It is a big book, 15 hours long. I don't think I'd realised just how much I would enjoy this book, learning about the Greek gods people the tales behind them including the mortals in the stories.  It was just so fascinating at times. Then there's the link from the stories and characters of the gods to modern day use of English language and tales. 

So whilst this book was long it totally benefited from being narrated by Stephen Fry, who has a way of capturing a listener and almost hypnotising them. Even if he narrated a car manual the reader couldn't help but be drawn by his magic in telling the words. 

This book will have certainly have me seeking out the next book in the series Heroes: Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures, think Jason searching out his Golden Fleece, and the third book Troy: The Siege of Troy Retold is due for publication later in 2020.

4 out of 5 Stars

This book can be purchased from amazonBy using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 

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Audio Book reviews greek myths

Look out for my review of Hilary Mantels The Mirror and the Light audio soon, that is if I ever make it to the end. You can find out more about the library app mentioned in my audio book reviews here in my blog post Library Audio Books using the Libby App.

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May Book Reviews & New Book Releases Part 1 of 3

As I type this it's day 72 of staying home and social shielding from the Corvid-19 virus, that's right not even a stroll out past my garden boundary. Reading has become a huge and happy distraction for me which also means more book reviews for you. I've read/listened to 11 and a bit books in May, I will split the reviews of these books over 3 blog articles this being the first.

Book Reviews Coming up...
  • The Phone Box at the End of the World by Laura Imai Messina
  • The Missing by C.L. Taylor
  • Charlotte by Helen Moffett
  • Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson
  • The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mcksay
Agatha Christie Read this Month
  • They Do It With Mirrors
Audio Books 
  • The Hero: The Enduring Myth That Makes Us Human
  • Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece by Stephen Fry
  • Missing You by Harlen Coben 
  • The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
There are never any spoilers in my book reviews so read ahead with confidence knowing there are no plot giveaways.

The phone box at the end of the world book review

The Phone Box at the End of the World by Laura Imai Messina
We all have something to tell those we have lost . . .

When Yui loses her mother and daughter in the tsunami, she wonders how she will ever carry on. Yet, in the face of this unthinkable loss, life must somehow continue.

Then one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone box in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone box spreads, people will travel there from miles around.

Soon Yui will make her own pilgrimage to the phone box, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Then she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss.

What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels as though it is breaking.
My Review
The first half of this book deals with the after effects of the tsunami, with Yui living in a school gymnasium for the following months. It broke my heart, my sister can attest to my sobbing and rather loudly too. There are few books that have had this effect on me. I think this was because I knew the story was based on real events. I knew people in Japan at the time, I've been to Japan. As the author describes everyday life, Japanese peoples habits and mannerisms, I could envisage all these things - making everything so very real.

The second part showed me that dealing with death is a journey that everyone deals with differently. I enjoyed following Yui's journey her relationship with Takashi and the people she meets along the way, at the phone box at the edge of the world. At times I would forget that this was an imagined story, for all I could feel were the lives of the families left behind from the Tsunami. It's showed me the different ways of dealing with grief and lose, something none of us can avoid.  

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World is released 25 June 2020, you and be can purchase from Amazon as an ebook, hardback and audio book. By using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog.  

4 out of 5 Stars

Thank you to Manilla Press and Bonnier Books for an advance readers copy of this book for review.

Charlotte Helen Moffett book review

Charlotte by Helen Moffett
Everybody thinks that Charlotte Lucas has no prospects. She is twenty-seven years old, unmarried, plain, and seemingly without ambition. When she stuns the neighbourhood by accepting the proposal of buffoonish clergyman Mr Collins, her best friend Lizzy Bennet is angry at her for undervaluing herself. Yet the decision is the only way Charlotte knows to provide for her future, and marriage will propel her into a new world, of duty, marriage, children, grief and ultimately illicit love, and a kind of freedom.

Jane Austen cared deeply about the constraints of women in Regency England. This powerful reimagining takes up where Austen left off, showing us a woman determined to carve a place for herself in the world. Charlotte offers a fresh, feminist addition to the post-Austen canon, beautifully imagined, and brimming with passion and intelligence.
My Review
Moving onto an historical read, very possibly my favourite genre. I'm one of the many Jane Austen fans who particularly love Pride and Prejudice. So it is with excitement and nervousness I read Charlotte, I desperately want the world of Pride and Prejudice to live on but also I don't want to ruin my love for it. Don't worry this book will not disappoint.

We meet familiar characters and homes that we know well. We meet Charlotte Collin's after she has been married for many years. She has a family, is settled into the life of a cleryman's wife, eats frequently at Rosings Park. Yes we meet Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her daughter Anne, who I admit appears quite changed. 

Both Jane Bingley and Elizabeth Darcy are in the book, including the  rather outspoken Mrs Bennett. It was a pleasure to read, I felt like I was on safe ground back in Georgian, England. A joy to see many of the characters we know but through the eyes of Charlotte,thus seeing them in a new light. Charlotte continues to be a close friend to Elizabeth, though they now live many miles apart and in very different circumstances. 

Go on, pick up the book and find yourself lost in the world of Jane Austen again thanks Helen Moffett's imagination. 

The books does stand alone, you do not need to have read Pride and Prejudice. But why would you have not? For me there was just a single point in the story line when I thought no I don't believe that Charlotte Lucas would of done such a thing. That has prevented me from giving the book 4 stars.

3.5 out of 5 stars 

Charlotte is due to be released 3 September 2020, you can pre-order your copy from Amazon as an ebook, hardback and audio book. 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 Manilla Press and Bonnier Books for an advance readers copy of this book on Net Galley for my review.

Book Reviews Garden Tea Cakes and Me

The Missing by C.L. Taylor

When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire, blames herself. She's not the only one. There isn't a single member of Billy's family that doesn't feel guilty. But the Wilkinsons are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn't until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.

Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.

A mother's instinct is never wrong. Or is it?

Sometimes those closest to us are the ones with the most to hide… 
My Review
I read this book as a buddy read with my friend Darcy, we reviewed the book together via FaceTime another first for me! But one that has been repeated several times since. The Missing is the second C.L. Taylor novel I've read, Sleep being my first which I thoroughly enjoyed, a great psychological thriller which I score 4 stars.

The Missing is a psychological thriller opening at the 6 month anniversary since Billy went missing. We see how its affected the family, and slowly the story looks back at the relationship of each member of the family with Billy. We are drip fed clues, who had reason to drive Billy out of the house, did he run away or is he dead. Who could of killed him and why. I flipped between a number of suspects and why things could of gone so wrong for Billy.

The story is interspersed with Whatsapp conversations between 2 people. It's for the reader to identify these people, their conversations are blunt and very relevant to finding Billy. From our buddy read discussions Darcy and I had very different ideas on who these people where. 

I quite liked the character Claire the mum at first, but as you progress through the book your realise. She stifles her family, something she is unaware of, not allowing them to have freedoms to think or act for themselves. Trying always to keep the peace. There was a period of reading the book when I could not put it down. Right up to the big reveal I did not predict, who, what and why. A good read for anyone who loves a missing person thriller. 

There was a section in the book on pornography and I did feel that it wasn't necessary for the story. One of the reasons I enjoyed this book less than the book Sleep is its setting. It takes place within a family home, I realise that at the moment I am enjoying books that do not revolve around a single home setting. Maybe its the virus lockdown and being stuck at home has bought about this feeling.

3 Stars out of 5 
The Missing can be ordered from Amazon as an ebook, hardback and audio bookBy using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 

Good Reads and Pinterest

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2020 Reads, Book Reviews & Sewing for Shropshire NHS

library book club Telford Shropshire
At the beginning of 2020 I decided to ease off the volume of books I would reads, make myself slow down and enjoy each book more. I'm a target driven reader and in 2019 I read 70 books, this year I choose 50 books to read. I know that is still quite a number.  All was plodding along nicely, and then in March the Corona Virus arrived in the UK. As one of the 1.6 million very vulnerable people in the UK I was told to shield myself for the next 3 months, and more probably. So it looks like my book target is up for revision! I am also very happy to have already finished reading some great books that will help you escape from the stresses of living through a  pandemic.

Reading is not the only thing that has been occupying my thoughts. Whilst I hide away at my home and very thankful my garden too,  I know I am doing my bit, staying at home saves lives and protects our NHS.  But, I've still felt helpless, when everyone else is able to do more. 

So when a social media call went out in Shropshire for help for anyone who can sew, I gave a shout back. So I'm doing my bit in a very small way by sewing some personal protective equipment that will be used in my local health care settings including Telford Princess Royal and Royal Shrewsbury Hospitals, GP Surgeries, District Nurses and many more units. There is someone working in Shropshire grateful that I made them a scrub hat or wash bag. As you can tell from the photo I went down the colourful route of fabrics. Enough about sewing lets move onto some great books.

Sewing for Shropshire NHS
The Marriage Bureau for Rich People 
My first book to get a mention is my library book club read for March, The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama. Alas because of the Corona Virus we did not manage to get together at the library to discuss it, but I did manage a FaceTime catch with my friend who is also in the book club.   

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People
Any way here is the blurb from the back cover...
What does an Indian man with a wealth of common sense do when his retirement becomes too monotonous for him to stand? Open a marriage bureau of course!

With a steady stream of clients to keep him busy, Mr. Ali sees his new business flourish as the indomitable Mrs. Ali and his careful assistant, Aruna, look on with vigilant eyes. There's the man who wants a tall son-in-law because his daughter is short; the divorced woman who ends up back with her ex-husband; a salesman who can't seem to sell himself; and a wealthy, young doctor for whom no match is ever perfect. But although his clients go away happy, little does Mr. Ali know that his esteemed Aruna hides a tragedy in her past-a misfortune that the bureau, as luck would have it, serendipitously undoes.

Bursting with the color and allure of India, and with a cast of endearing character.

My Review
A resounding success, a great read and the perfect escape from the current chaos. I found Mr Ali's world in South India, to be bright, thoughtful and entertaining. One of the best things about reading a book set in different culture and country is that daily activities are just so interesting. A trip to the post office, a walk around his garden, Mrs Ali preparing a meal, absolutely fascinating. But look and you will find the serious elements of getting married and living in India, a total eye opener for me in a very good way. and just so many interesting characters. 

I found myself easily absorbed by this book, and thus I read it quickly. There are other books by the other that I would also happily read. If you enjoyed reading The No.1 Lady Detective Agency this is a book for you. Book available from Amazon in all formats.

The Jane Austen Society

My second Pandemic Reading Recommendation (is that going to be a thing? The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner due for publication 28 May (handback), so be patient if its not out just yet or pre order it now at Amazon
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Now I should say that this book is my very first NetGalley read (a site where book reviewers and other professional readers can read books before they are published) as I'm talking of first's it is also the first book I read on my first ever Kindle! A birthday treat to myself, so that in these desperate times should I EVER finish my to be read pile of books I still have the world of Kindle books to explore from home. OK, so onto the book, here's the blurb...
Synopsis   It's only a few months since the war ended but the little village of Chawton is about to be hit by another devastating blow. The heart of the community and site of Jane Austen's cherished former home, Chawton estate is in danger of being sold to the highest bidder.

Eight villagers are brought together by their love for the famous author's novels, to create The Jane Austen Society. As new friendships form and the pain of the past begins to heal, surely they can find a way to preserve Austen's legacy before it is too late?

And there may even be a few unexpected surprises along the way...

My Review 
So first, I'm a huge Jane Austen fan, love the books, have a favourite character, have a favourite book. So by looking at the book cover alone there was no way I was not reading this book. 

Set just after the World War II in the small leafy English village of Chawton. I should say that this is a story of how The Jane Austen Society may have come about, it's not based on actual events, though of course there is a society. The book's lead characters are the village doctor Ben Gray, Adeline (school teacher), Adam Berwick farmer, Mini Harrison Hollywood actress and Frances Knight daughter of the owner of the Knight Estate, and family of the late Edward Knight, Jane Austen's brother. Those villagers with a love of Jane Austen work to establish a society to protect the Knight family owned books, other materials along with the cottage Jane lived in. 

This book mingles the Jane Austen books and the personality of her characters into the story line and the setting of this book. If you know the Jane Austen books you are going to pick up on these straight away. For me this particularly added to my enjoyment of the book, as the story unfolds you can spot the elements of Austen and the nuances of the characters as they interact.

You do not need to have read any Austen books to understand and follow the story, in fact its a great introduction to one of the worlds greatest writers.

Of particular enjoyment to me was the characters discussing and disagreeing as to which of the Austen books they loved the most. So glad to find someone (even if they are an imaginary character in a book) that also finds Emma an unworthy favourite. I will not tell you here which is my favourite Austen book, other than to say I favoured Frances Knights story the most. 

An entertaining read, and a great antidote for escaping a pandemic.

Many thanks to Orion books for this advanced readers copy of The Jane Austen Society.  

Goodreads and Pinterest 

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. 

Follow my Book Shelf & Reading Challenge Pinterest board
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