A Week in Books · Adele Parks · Anstey Harris · Books · Cathy Kelly · Cecelia Ahern · Elizabeth Buchan · Elizabeth Macneal · Guildford Book Festival · Katherine Center · Lisa Jewell · Literary Lowdown · Richard Roper · Romantic Novelists Association · Stacey Halls · Tracy Chevalier

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 13 Oct 2019

Welcome to this week’s round-up of what’s been going on here at Sarah’s Vignettes, on social media, the books I’ve been adding to my shelves and other bookish delights. Keep scrolling to get the lowdown, including the introduction of an ad-hoc section.

~ On the blog ~

Shelf Control

I took a break from Shelf Control this week. It’ll be back next week 🙂


The Familiars by Stacey Halls

On Monday, I shared my review for The Familiars by Stacey Halls. It’s a brilliant book!

~ On social media ~

For #ThrowbackThursday, I chose How to Walk Away by Katherine Center.


On Friday, I was chatting with author Rhoda Baxter over on the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA) blog. This was great fun to do! https://romanticnovelistsassociation.org/2019/10/sarah-swan-sarahs-vignettes-blog/

~ On my calendar ~

Adele Parks
Adele Parks

On Tuesday, I went to my local library to hear Sunday Times Bestselling Author, Adele Parks talk about her life, writing and her latest novel Lies, Lies, Lies. She also shared some top tips for any budding writers looking to get published. Adele is such a great speaker, I could listen to her stories for hours!


On Saturday, I went to Guildford Book Festival‘s Readers’ Day. With 7 authors, 1 host and books, books, books, it’s a mini festival in one day.

Tracy Chevalier chatting with Fanny Blake
Tracy Chevalier chatting with Fanny Blake

The day began with a brilliant opening session from Tracy Chevalier. She is a wonderful, fascinating speaker. She spoke with Fanny Blake (our fabulous host for the day) about her inspiration for her latest novel A Single Thread and treated us to a reading from the opening chapter. I am so looking forward to reading this book (find out what A Single Thread is about in the On my bookshelf section below).

From left to right: Fanny Blake, Lisa Jewell, Adele Parks
From left to right: Fanny Blake, Lisa Jewell, Adele Parks

The next session was over to the darker side of fiction and domestic noir with Lisa Jewell and Adele Parks. They both spoke about their latest novels The Family Upstairs and Lies, Lies, Lies and their contrasting writing processes.

From left to right: Fanny Blake, Elizabeth Macneal, Elizabeth Buchan
From left to right: Fanny Blake, Elizabeth Macneal, Elizabeth Buchan

After lunch, it was the turn of the two Elizabeths: Elizabeth Macneal and Elizabeth Buchan, to talk about their books The Doll Factory and The Museum of Broken Promises. I love that Elizabeth Macneal plans out her stories with the aid of a spreadsheet (I organise blog stuff with a spreadsheet!). Elizabeth Buchan shared some eye-opening snippets from her research trips to Berlin and Prague (settings for The Museum of Broken Promises).

From left to right: Fanny Blake, Richard Roper, Anstey Harris
From left to right: Fanny Blake, Richard Roper, Anstey Harris

The final session of the day had the audience laughing out loud. Richard Roper and Anstey Harris were the perfect duo to finish an awesome day with, chatting about their books Something to Live For and The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, their long journeys to publication and how the titles of both books changed for a US market.

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 5 books (4 of them signed) to my shelves this week!

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier

It is 1932, and the losses of the First World War are still keenly felt. Violet Speedwell, mourning for both her fiancé and her brother and regarded by society as a ‘surplus woman’ unlikely to marry, resolves to escape her suffocating mother and strike out alone.

A new life awaits her in Winchester. Yes, it is one of draughty boarding-houses and sidelong glances at her naked ring finger from younger colleagues; but it is also a life gleaming with independence and opportunity. Violet falls in with the broderers, a disparate group of women charged with embroidering kneelers for the Cathedral, and is soon entwined in their lives and their secrets. As the almost unthinkable threat of a second Great War appears on the horizon Violet collects a few secrets of her own that could just change everything…

The Museum of Broken Promises by Elizabeth Buchan

The Museum of Broken Promises by Elizabeth Buchan

Paris, today. The Museum of Broken Promises is a place of wonder and sadness, hope and loss. Every object in the museum has been donated – a cake tin, a wedding veil, a baby’s shoe. And each represent a moment of grief or terrible betrayal. The museum is a place where people come to speak to the ghosts of the past and, sometimes, to lay them to rest. Laure, the owner and curator, has also hidden artefacts from her own painful youth amongst the objects on display.

Prague, 1985. Recovering from the sudden death of her father, Laure flees to Prague. But life behind the Iron Curtain is a complex thing: drab and grey yet charged with danger. Laure cannot begin to comprehend the dark, political currents that run beneath the surface of this communist city. Until, that is, she meets a young dissident musician. Her love for him will have terrible and unforeseen consequences. It is only years later, having created the museum, that Laure can make finally face up to her past and celebrate the passionate love which has directed her life.

Something to Live For by Richard Roper

Something to Live For by Richard Roper

Sometimes you have to risk everything to find your something…

All Andrew wants is to be normal. He has the perfect wife and 2.4 children waiting at home for him after a long day. At least, that’s what he’s told people.

The truth is, his life isn’t exactly as people think and his little white lie is about to catch up with him.

Because in all Andrew’s efforts to fit in, he’s forgotten one important thing: how to really live. And maybe, it’s about time for him to start.

The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

Grace once had the beginnings of a promising musical career, but she hasn’t been able to play her cello publicly since a traumatic event at music college years ago. Since then, she’s built a quiet life for herself in her small English village, repairing instruments and nurturing her long- distance affair with David, the man who has helped her rebuild her life even as she puts her dreams of a family on hold until his children are old enough for him to leave his loveless marriage.

But when David saves the life of a woman in the Paris Metro, his resulting fame shines a light onto the real state of the relationship(s) in his life. Shattered, Grace hits rock bottom and abandons everything that has been important to her, including her dream of entering and winning the world’s most important violin-making competition. Her closest friends–a charming elderly violinist with a secret love affair of his own, and her store clerk, a gifted but angst-ridden teenage girl–step in to help, but will their friendship be enough to help her pick up the pieces?


I treated myself to Postscript by Cecelia Ahern. It is the sequel to P.S. I Love You and I am intrigued to find out what happens next.

Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life.

She’s proud of all the ways in which she has grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind.

Reluctantly, Holly begins a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of these people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever…

~ On my bedside table ~

The Family Gift by Cathy Kelly

I’m currently reading The Family Gift by Cathy Kelly ahead of my stop on the blog tour on 23rd October.


What have you been reading and buying this week? Let me know by leaving a reply in the box below.

Until next week, happy reading!

A Week in Books · Adele Parks · Liz Fenwick · Non-Fiction · Tom Michell · Virginia Woolf

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 15/09/2019

Welcome to this week’s round-up of what’s been going on here at Sarah’s Vignettes, on social media, the books I’ve been adding to my shelves and other bookish delights. Keep scrolling to get the lowdown.

~ On the blog ~

Shelf Control

On Wednesday, I took part in a meme run by fellow book blogger Lisa over at Bookshelf Fantasies called Shelf Control. The idea is to choose a book on your bookshelf that you haven’t read yet and talk about when you got it and why you want to read it.

This week, I chose The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell.

The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell

~ On social media ~

For #ThrowbackThursday, I shared the link to my review for The Cornish House by Liz Fenwick. The tweet below says it all 🙂

~ On my bookshelf ~

It’s been a quiet week for adding books to my bookshelf but I did add 1 to my digital bookshelf.

When I came across the complete writings of Virginia Woolf on Apple Books for 99p, I couldn’t resist downloading them. I much prefer reading a physical copy of a book but this is perfect for dipping in and out of.

Virginia Woolf's writing lodge at Monk's House.

Last year, I visited Monk’s House, Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s 16th-century country retreat in East Sussex. The house and gardens are fascinating but I adored Virginia Woolf’s writing lodge in the garden. It overlooks the South Downs and I can see why she chose to wrote most of her great works there.

Virginia Woolf's desk
Virginia Woolf's desk

Virginia Woolf: The Complete Collection by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf: The Complete Collection by Virginia Woolf

This volume collects the complete writings of Virginia Woolf: 8 novels, 3 ‘biographies,’ 46 short stories, 606 essays, 1 play, her diary and some letters.

Contents:

THE NOVELS
The Voyage Out
Night and Day
Jacob’s Room
Mrs. Dalloway
To the Lighthouse
The Waves
The Years
Between the Acts

THE ‘BIOGRAPHIES’
Orlando: a biography
Flush: a biography
Roger Fry: a biography

THE STORIES
Monday or Tuesday
A Haunted House, and other short stories
Mrs Dalloway’s Party
The Complete Shorter Fiction

THE ESSAYS
The Common Reader I
A Room of One’s Own
On Being Ill
The London Scene
The Common Reader II
Three Guineas
The Death of the Moth, and other essays
The Moment, and other essays
The Captain’s Death Bed, and other essays
Granite and Rainbow
Books and Portraits
Women And Writing
383 Essays from newspapers and magazines

AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL WRITING
A Writer’s Diary
Moments of Being
The Diary Vols. 1–5
The Letters Vols. 1–6
The Letters of V.W. and Lytton Strachey
A Passionate Apprentice. The Early Journals 1887-1909

THE PLAY
Freshwater: A Comedy (both versions)

~ On my bedside table ~

Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks

Since last week’s lowdown, I have read Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks. Crikey, it kept me on my toes right from Page 1 until the very end. It’s a super read and I will pop a review on here once my thoughts are in a coherent order. It’s left me with such a book hangover that I haven’t started reading anything else yet.


What have you been reading and buying this week? Let me know by leaving a reply in the box below.

Until next week, happy reading!

A Week in Books · Adele Parks · Ali Pantony · Anna Hope · Books · Carol Drinkwater · Claire Dyer · Fiona Harper · Katherine Center · Linn B. Halton · Lisa Jewell · Literary Lowdown · Liz Fenwick · Malorie Blackman · Mary Beth Keane · Non-Fiction · Rachael English · Rachel Rhys · Rowan Coleman · Shelf Control · Stacey Halls · Tom Mole · Victoria Hislop

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 08/09/2019

Welcome to this week’s round-up of what’s been going on here at Sarah’s Vignettes, on social media, the books I’ve been adding to my shelves and other bookish delights. Keep scrolling to get the lowdown. Lots of things happened this week!!

~ On the blog ~

Shelf Control

On Friday, I took part in a meme run by fellow book blogger Lisa over at Bookshelf Fantasies called Shelf Control. The idea is to choose a book on your bookshelf that you haven’t read yet and talk about when you got it and why you want to read it.

This week, I chose Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys.

Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys

~ On social media ~

For #ThrowbackThursday, I shared the link to my review for The American Girl by Rachael English. I don’t know what it is about the works of Irish writers but there is something so comfortable and familiar about their writing that make them natural storytellers, and Rachael English is one of them.

On Friday, #NationalReadABookDay was trending on Twitter so I shared some of my favourite authors whose books I’ve read and reviewed on here.

Rowan Coleman ~ Liz Fenwick ~ Carol Drinkwater ~ Claire Dyer ~ Linn B. Halton ~ Rachael English ~ Katherine Center ~ Ali Pantony ~ Fiona Harper ~ Victoria Hislop

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 5 books to my shelf this week.

On Wednesday, I received a copy of The Secret Life of Books by Tom Mole from the fab team at Elliott & Thompson, due to be published on 19th September. I enjoy reading any non-fiction books on the subjects of language, linguistics and books so I think this one will be right up my street!

The Secret Life of Books by Tom Mole

The Secret Life of Books by Tom Mole

We love books. We take them to bed with us. They weigh down our suitcases when we go on holiday. We display them on our bookshelves or store them in our attics. We give them as gifts. We write our names in them. We take them for granted. And all the time, our books are leading a double life.

The Secret Life of Books is about everything that isn’t just the words. It’s about how books transform us as individuals. It’s about how books – and readers – have evolved over time. And it’s about why, even with the arrival of other media, books still have the power to change our lives.

In this illuminating account, Tom Mole looks at everything from binding innovations to binding errors, to books defaced by lovers, to those imprisoning professors in their offices, to books in art, to burned books, to the books that create nations, to those we’ll leave behind.

It will change how you think about books.


On Thursday night, I went to an author event at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road. Mary Beth Keane and Anna Hope were talking about their latest books Ask Again, Yes and Expectation with Alison Barrow from Penguin Random House.

I love hearing the stories behind the story – how the book came to be what it is. I read and reviewed Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane for the blog tour so I was intrigued to find out more about it. Expectation by Anna Hope sounds brilliant and I made the good mistake of reading the first page on the train home – wow, the writing. I was drawn in from the first sentence!!

I bumped into Nina Pottell, Books Editor from PRIMA magazine and Leilah Skelton from Little Tiger whilst I was there.

Alison Barrow, Mary Beth Keane and Anna Hope
From left to right: Alison Barrow, Mary Beth Keane, Anna Hope

Me with Nina Pottell, Books Editor from Prima magazine
Me with Nina Pottell

Expectation by Anna Hope

A contemporary feminist take on the pursuit of happiness: three women think they can have it all. Until they realise that even having some of it can be a challenge.

Love, children, career – modern women are expected to have all three. But what must they sacrifice to win any of them, and how much heartache must be endured? Three life-long friends are about to find out.

Can Hannah, a successful career woman with a caring husband have the baby she longs for?

Will Cate, a thoughtful, loving wife and mother ever recover her intellectual life and independence?

Lissa is charismatic, beautiful and unconventional. She chose a life of fulfilment in the theatre over settled domesticity – but will it ever really materialise?

Anna Hope’s fierce and compelling novel of friendship and the pressure to succeed as a woman takes three lives and asks, what does it really take to make us happy?


When I was 15, I borrowed a copy of Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman from my school library. I devoured it and was blown away by it. It was so ahead of it’s time. 17 years later, Crossfire , the sequel to Noughts & Crosses , is out and I found a signed copy of it in Waterstones Guildford yesterday.

Crossfire by Malorie Blackman

Thirty-four years have passed since Sephy Hadley – a Cross – first met Callum McGregor – a nought. Their love was forbidden, powerful – and deadly.

Life is seemingly very different now for noughts and Crosses – including for Sephy and Callum’s families. But old wounds from the past are hard to heal, and when you’re playing a game as dangerous as they are, it won’t be long before someone gets caught in the crossfire.


Me with Adele Parks
Me with Adele Parks

Whilst I was waiting in the queue to pay for Crossfire , I bumped into Adele Parks! She had popped into the shop to sign copies of her latest novel Lies, Lies, Lies , which was published on Thursday.

Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks

Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks

Daisy and Simon’s marriage is great, isn’t it? After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. A happy little family of three. And so what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes – Daisy’s used to it, she knows he’s letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And that happy little family of three will never be the same again.

In Lies Lies Lies, Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks explores the darkest corners of a relationship in freefall in a mesmerising tale of marriage and secrets.


I also bought a copy of The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell. Lisa is one of the speakers at Guildford Book Festival’s Readers’ Day next month and I wanted to try to read it before the event.

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.

In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.

They’ve been dead for several days.

Who has been looking after the baby?

And where did they go?

Two entangled families.
A house with the darkest of secrets.
A compulsive new thriller from Lisa Jewell.

~ On my bedside table ~

I’m reading The Familiars by Stacey Halls at the moment. The story is set in the 1600s, which is not a period in history I usually read or know much about. It’s an intriguing story!


What have you been reading and buying this week? Let me know by leaving a reply in the box below.

Until next week, happy reading!