A Week in Books · Advanced Review Copy · Afia Atakora · Book events · Books · fiction · Linn B. Halton · Literary Lowdown · Lucy Coleman · Michaël Uras · Sarah Vaughan

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown – 23-29 March 2020

Welcome to this week’s round-up of book life at Sarah’s Vignettes.

How are you? I hope you are keeping safe and well. Have you found lots of great books to lose yourself in? Reading provides the perfect escape 🙂

Keep scrolling to get the lowdown on what’s been going on here at Sarah’s Vignettes, the books I’ve been adding to my shelves, and other bookish delights.

~ On my blog ~

Summer in Provence by Lucy Coleman

On Thursday, I shared my review for Summer in Provence by Lucy Coleman. This book gave me hope and warmed my heart. It’s the perfect escapist read.

~ On my calendar ~

My VLF
photo from My VLF Twitter page

Whilst we can’t go out and about to book events, we can still join them virtually.

Yesterday I dipped into the My VLF Crime/Thriller Book Festival to listen to an interview with author Sarah Vaughan and join the live Q&A afterwards. Sarah spoke about her upcoming novel Little Disasters (published by Simon & Schuster on April 2nd), her writing and research. She also treated us to a reading from Little Disasters. I was so captivated that I pre-ordered a copy straight away. I want to know how the story continues!

Sarah Vaughan
Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

All author interviews from yesterday’s Crime/Thriller Boo Festival are available to view on-demand from My Virtual Literary Festival, along with interviews from past events. I would really recommend watching them.

It’s a good time to be accessing virtual book stuff. I’ve seen lots of authors and publishers putting on live events and chats. Check out your favourite authors and publishers social media pages to see if they are doing anything.

~ On my bookshelf ~

I’ve added 1 book to my bookshelf this week.

My Sardinian Summer by Michaël Uras

My Sardinian Summer is a translation from the French: La maison à droite de celle de ma grand-mère (literally translates as the house to the right of my grandmother’s). As a French speaker, I tend to stay away from reading books translated from French as I prefer to read the original. However, I really like the sound of this one and, at 208 pages, it will make a nice afternoon read.

My Sardinian Summer by Michael Uras

Giacomo is stuck in a funk he can’t shake – and a translation he can’t finish. When he’s summoned home to Sardinia, to say a final goodbye to his dying grandmother, he’s offered the perfect opportunity to escape.

On the noisy, sun-drenched island, Giacomo reconnects with long-lost friends and overbearing relatives, relives the childhood he once couldn’t wait to leave behind, and rediscovers new joie-de-vivre within him. Never mind that he’s making no progress on his translation. . .

When the time comes to leave once more, Giacomo wonders: has he fallen back in love with his home-island? Or has he been hiding from something which he needs the courage to return and confront?

But most importantly – is his grandma really as ill as she’s claiming to be?

~ On my bedside table ~

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora

I’m reading Conjure Women by Afia Atakora. I’ll be sharing my review here on April 18th.

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora

The pale-skinned, black-eyed baby is a bad omen. That’s one thing the people on the old plantation are sure of. The other is that Miss Rue – midwife, healer, crafter of curses – will know what to do.

But for once Rue doesn’t know. Times have changed since her mother Miss May Belle held the power to influence the life and death of her fellow slaves. Freedom has come. The master’s Big House lies in ruins. But this new world brings new dangers, and Rue’s old magic may be no match for them.

When sickness sweeps across her tight-knit community, Rue finds herself the focus of suspicion. What secrets does she keep amidst the charred remains of the Big House? Which spells has she conjured to threaten their children? And why is she so wary of the charismatic preacher man who promises to save them all?

Rue understands fear. It has shaped her life and her mother’s before her. And now she knows she must face her fears – and her ghosts – to find a new way forward for herself and her people.


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

Until next week, happy reading!

Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · fiction · Linn B. Halton · Lucy Coleman · Review Copy · Reviews

A Sarah’s Vignettes Book Review: Summer in Provence by Lucy Coleman (@LucyColemanauth) ~ @BoldwoodBooks ~ @rararesources #SummerinProvence #BlogTour & #Giveaway

Welcome to Sarah’s Vignettes stop on the blog tour for Summer in Provence by Lucy Coleman.

Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part and to Boldwood Books for sending me a digital copy of the book via NetGalley.

I am thrilled to be involved with this tour. I love Lucy Coleman’s writing, having previously read and reviewed Magic Under the Mistletoe and A Springtime to Remember as well as The Secrets of Villa Rosso and A Greek Affair by Linn B. Halton (also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman). I am delighted to be able to share Summer in Provence, Lucy Coleman’s upcoming novel, with you today.

I have my review to share with you and there is also a chance for you to win a paperback copy of A Springtime to Remember by Lucy Coleman and a Boldwood Tote Bag. But first, here is a taster of what Summer in Provence is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

Is a change as good as a rest?

When married couple Fern and Aiden have a windfall, their reactions could not be more different. While Fern is content to pay off their mortgage and build a nest egg before starting a family, her husband is set on traveling the world.

Fern’s not much of a back-packer so, before she knows it, the idea of a ‘marriage gap year’ takes shape. And, as Aiden heads off to the wilds of Australia, Fern chooses the more restful Provence for her year out.

Set amidst the glorious French scenery, Château de Vernon offers a retreat from the hustle and bustle of normal life, and Fern agrees to help out in return for painting lessons from the owner – renowned, but rather troubled, painter Nico.

As their year unfolds in very different ways, will the time apart transform their marriage, or will it drive Fern and Aiden even further apart…

Let Lucy Coleman whisk you off on a heart-warming, sun-drenched and magical French adventure.

~ My thoughts ~

I am in serious danger of repeating myself in this and future reviews for any book I read by Lucy Coleman or Linn B.Halton. How many times can I say I absolutely love Lucy/Linn’s books! If you’ve visited my blog recently, you will know I reviewed A Springtime to Remember and loved it. Well, guess what? I loved Summer in Provence too!

I read Summer in Provence before we all had to stay at home and I was captivated for hours. If I picked it up now, I would be so grateful to Lucy Coleman for transporting me to Provence and helping me escape the current situation for a few hours.  This book gave me hope and warmed my heart.

I like the storyline for Summer in Provence. Fern and Aiden have been together since their late teens and married for seven years. When they win some money on the lottery, Aiden has an itch he needs to scratch: to backpack around the world and discover more about himself…alone. He suggests to Fern that they both take a year out of work and use the time to each do their own thing. So, Aiden goes around the world and Fern goes to Château du Verdon, a retreat in Provence. The story then follows Fern on her year at the retreat and the people she mets. She goes on quite a journey of self discovery. There is a real sense of community at the retreat. Each person has their own reasons for needing the escape and the solace the retreat provides, including Fern.

Summer in Provence has some good messages about finding yourself, taking a step back to reflect, and discovering what it is you truly want in life.

I instantly connected with Fern, as I do with all Lucy’s female protagonists. I really cared about her from the first page. For me, a writer possesses a great skill to provoke this reaction in a reader. 

There is no question that Lucy Coleman knows how to tell a story and to draw her reader in from the beginning. She always goes much deeper than I am expecting and knows how to pull on my heart strings. Summer in Provence is no exception.

Thank you to Lucy Coleman for writing such beautiful stories that I devour in hours.

~ Where to find Summer in Provence ~

Summer in Provence by Lucy Coleman

Summer in Provence by Lucy Coleman is due to be published as an eBook in the UK by Boldwood Books on 2 April 2020. It can pre-ordered at Amazon UK and found on Goodreads.

~ About Lucy Coleman ~

Lucy Coleman

From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels – including Summer on the Italian Lakes, Snowflakes over Holly Cove, The French Adventure and A Cottage in the Country. She is represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture, working in the garden, or practising Tai Chi.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she is an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the SoA and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Connect with Lucy at:

~ Giveaway ~

Win a signed paperback of 'A Springtime to Remember' and a Boldwood Tote bag (Open INT)

Win a signed paperback of ‘A Springtime to Remember’ and a Boldwood Tote bag (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. Sarah’s Vignettes is not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

~ Follow the Summer in Provence tour ~

Be sure to drop by the other stops on the blog tour!

Summer in Provence blog tour poster
Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · fiction · Review Copy · Reviews · Sarah Butler

A Sarah’s Vignettes Book Review: Jack & Bet by Sarah Butler (@SarahButler100) ~ @PicadorBooks ~ @annecater #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour

I am thrilled to be sharing my review of Jack & Bet by Sarah Butler with you today.

My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour and to Picador for sending me a copy of the book in return for my honest review.

Before I share my review with you, here is what Jack & Bet is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

Even the longest marriages have their secrets . . .

Jack Chalmers is a man of few words, married to a woman of many. He and Bet have been together for seventy years – almost a lifetime – and happily so, for the most part.

All Jack and Bet want is to enjoy the time they have left together, in the flat they have tried to make their home. Their son Tommy has other ideas: he wants them to live somewhere with round-the-clock care, hot meals, activities. Bet thinks they can manage just fine.

When they strike up an unlikely friendship with Marinela, a young Romanian woman, Bet thinks she has found the perfect solution – one that could change Marinela’s life as well as theirs. But this means revisiting an old love affair, and confronting a long-buried secret she has kept hidden from everyone, even Jack, for many years.

Tender, moving and beautifully told, Sarah Butler’s Jack & Bet is an unforgettable novel about love and loss, the joys and regrets of a long marriage, and the struggle to find a place to call home.

~ My thoughts ~

I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting from Jack & Bet but I didn’t anticipate it being so emotional. I feel like I should have realised it could be with two 90 year olds as the main characters but this one caught me. I really enjoyed it though.

Jack and Bet Chalmers are celebrating 70 years together. Their son, Tommy, wants them to move into a home but they want to stay in their flat in Elephant & Castle, London. When they meet Marinella, a student from Romania, Bet thinks they have found the perfect solution. However, for Bet, this means unearthing a secret that has long been buried.

The story is told from 3 points of view: Jack, Bet and Marinella. I liked how this gave the perspective of the past and the future. For a shorter novel, 256 pages, the depth of detail into each character’s story is impressive. It would have been good to have had some of the story from Tommy’s point of view though as I found it hard to warm to him.

Sarah Butler explores many themes in Jack & Bet including: long-term marriages, past lives, how we don’t always communicate with those we love when we have been with them for a long time, jealousy, society’s view of old people, how old people view the world, grief, loss, love, role reversal between parents and children, the relationship that we have with properties. The later one is an interesting one. Jack and Bet moved into their current flat after the block of flats they were in previously is being knocked down. They haven’t really settled into the new one, even though they have been there for a few years. Their old flat holds so many memories for them and both Jack and Bet are naturally reflective about it.

Jack & Bet is a heartwarming story with kindness at it’s core and I am glad that I got a chance to read it.

~ Where to find Jack & Bet ~

Jack & Bet cover

Jack & Bet by Sarah Butler was published in Hardback by Picador in the UK on 5 March 2020. It can be found in all good bookshops as well at Amazon UK and on Goodreads.

~ About Sarah Butler ~

Sarah Butler

Sarah Butler is the acclaimed author of two previous novels, Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love and Before the Fire. Her writing has been translated into fourteen languages. She is also the author of a novella, Not Home, written in conversation with people living in unsupported temporary accommodation. Sarah is a part-time lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and lives in Manchester with her family.

~ Follow the tour ~

Be sure to drop by the other stops on the Jack & Bet blog tour!

Jack and Bet Blog tour poster
Advanced Review Copy · Anstey Harris · Book events · Book Hauls · Books · Caroline Scott · Christina Pishiris · Holly Hepburn · Other Bookish Things · Paige Toon · Santa Montefiore · Sara-Ella Ozbek

Simon & Schuster Spring Blogger Evening 2020 ~ @simonschusterUK @TeamBATC #TeamBATC

Tuesday 3rd March started out as a normal day: I got up and went to work. Part way through the morning, I noticed that fellow book blogger Rachel Gilbey had tagged me in a tweet, drawing my attention to the fact that SJV, Brand Development Director at Simon & Schuster, had a couple of spaces open up on her Books and The City Spring Blogger Evening. Well, I jumped at the chance and thankfully a space was still available! 

This was my first blogger event at Simon & Schuster and SJ and her team really know how to put on a showcase! There were perfectly themed cupcakes (made by Restoration Cake), a quiz, flat lays, author pitches and Q&As, author 2 truths and one lie (what is said at a Blogger Evening, stays at a Blogger Evening!), and good merchandise. We got to hang out with the authors, get our proofs signed and mingle. Sometimes, the best days cannot be planned 😊 

Before I delve into the authors at the event and their books, I am going to side track for two minutes and explain a little about flat lays – yes, I heard some of you say earlier ‘what the hell are flat lays?!’.

A flat lay is a photo taken at a birds eye view of a collection of items laid out on a flat surface, with one item as the main focus whilst the others are decorative. Flat lays are a game changer, particularly for book photography. They have been around for a while but it’s only recently, since I’ve got more into bookstagramming – the book side of photo sharing app Instagram – that I’ve really taken notice of photo composition.

On Tuesday, the Simon & Schuster marketing team had laid out 7 flat lays for us, one for each book. They’d arranged lots of objects related to the book and placed the book in the middle. This was genius! The photos of the books below are from the flat lays. 

Now onto the books!! There are some fabulous books coming out this year from this magnificent seven.

Sara-Ella Ozbek

The High Moments by Sara-Ella Ozbeck

Up first was Sara-Ella Ozbek and her debut novel The High Moments, out on May 28, 2020. Sara-Ella read from the first few pages. It made me laugh and also made my eyes water. This is a book to watch!

Santa Montefiore

Santa Montefiore
Here and Now by Santa Montefiore

Next was No. 1 bestselling author Santa Montefiore and her upcoming novel Here and Now. This sounds like an emotional read but a heartwarming one too. It is a positive take on dementia and follows a community that comes together to capture memories for one of their own. It’s out on July 9, 2020.

Paige Toon

Paige Toon
The Minute I Saw You by Paige Toon

Then Sunday Times Bestselling Author Paige Toon told us about The Minute I Saw You, which is out on May 14, 2020. When Hannah and Sonny meet, it’s love at first sight. However, they are both trying to fight it for reasons us readers find out as we go along. This is going to be a curling up with a cuppa read.

Holly Hepburn

Holly Hepburn
Coming Home to Brightwater Bay by Holly Hepburn

Holly Hepburn, author of A Year at the Star and Sixpence, introduced Coming Home to Brightwater Bay, set on the Orkney Islands. It follows an author on her journey to find her writing mojo, a welcoming community and some love interests. We are promised a handsome viking!! Coming soon.

Christina Pishiris

Christina Pishiris
Love Songs for Sceptics

Christina and I had actually met the previous Saturday at RNA London Chapter meet-up. At Simon & Schuster, she spoke about her debut novel Love Songs for Sceptics and introduced us to Zoe, one of her main characters, through her own version of Reddit‘s ‘Am I the Asshole?’ . It’s out now in Kindle and due out in paperback in April 2020.

Caroline Scott

Caroline Scott
When I Come Home Again by Caroline Scott

Next, Caroline Scott introduced her second novel When I Come Home Again. Set in the aftermath of the First World War, a soldier has lost his memory and appeal goes out to try and find out his identity. Three women come forward claiming him as their own but who is telling the truth? I think it will be a powerful read. Watch out for this one hitting shelves in hardback from October 29, 2020.

Anstey Harris

Anstey Harris
Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

Last but not least and fresh from her RNA Award win for The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton the previous night, Anstey Harris read from her upcoming novel Where We Belong. It is about a mother and son who move into a museum for a summer and the secrets they uncover. It’s out in hardback on May 14, 2020.


Thank you to SJ and her BATC team for a wonderful evening and for the very generous goody bag. I feel like part of the gang now. I cannot wait for the next S&S event!! 

A Week in Books · Advanced Review Copy · Anna McPartlin · Blog Tours · Book Post · Books · fiction · Literary Lowdown · Lucy Foley · Rachael English · Romantic Novelists Association · Sarah Butler

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 24 February – 1 March

Welcome to this week’s round-up of book life at Sarah’s Vignettes.

Keep scrolling to get the lowdown on 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.

~ On the blog ~

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

On Saturday, I shared my review of The Guest List by Lucy Foley. It’s an outstanding read and it deserves all the numerous accolades it has already received – it was only published 10 days ago!

~ On my calendar ~

RNA London Chapter Leap Into A Love Story event

On Saturday evening, authors from the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA) London Chapter invited book bloggers to their #LeapIntoALoveStory meet-up event to celebrate the last day of Romance Reading Month. It was also part of the RNA’s 60th Anniversary celebrations. I had a great time chatting all things writing and books with fellow book blogger Rachel Gilbey and the RNA authors.

~ On my bookshelf ~

I’ve added 2 books to my book shelf this week.

Next month, I’m taking part in the blog tour for Below the Big Blue Sky, Anna McPartlin’s sequel to The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes. I loved Rabbit Hayes so I’m looking forward to finding out how the Hayes Family are doing. I think it will be an emotional read but if The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is anything to go by, it will be a beautiful, compassionate and uplifting read.

Below the Big Blue Sky by Anna McPartlin

From the bestselling author of The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes comes a huge-hearted novel about death, family and finding laughter in the most bloody mental places.

Below the Big Blue Sky by Anna McPartlin

When forty-year-old Rabbit Hayes dies, she leaves behind a family broken by grief. Her mother Molly is distraught and in danger of losing her faith. Her father Jack spends hour upon hour in the family attic, poring over his old diaries, losing himself in the past.

Rabbit’s brother Davey finds himself suddenly guardian to her twelve-year-old daughter Juliet. Juliet might be able to fill a hole in Davey’s heart – but how can he help Juliet through her grief when he can barely cope with his own?

Meanwhile, Rabbit’s sister Grace is struggling with the knowledge that she carries the same gene that made her sister ill, and Rabbit’s best friend Marjorie is lost, struggling to remain a part of a family she has always wished was her own now that her link to them is gone.

But even though the Hayes family are all fighting their own battles, they are drawn together by their love for Rabbit, and their love for each other. In the years that follow her death they find new ways to celebrate and remember her, to find humour and hope in the face of tragedy, and to live life to its fullest, as Rabbit would have wanted.

Below a Big Blue Sky will make you laugh, cry and shout with joy for the colourful, unruly Hayes family as they battle with the loss of their beloved Rabbit, the daughter, mother, sister and friend, who in her own crazy way taught each of them how to live, and goes on showing them how to love from beyond the grave.


I was thrilled to receive a signed copy of The Paper Bracelet from Rachael English. I adored The American Girl and The Night of the Party so I am excited to read Rachael’s latest novel. It’s already out in Ireland and it comes to the UK on July 9th.

The Paper Bracelet by Rachael English

The Paper Bracelet by Rachael English

For almost fifty years, Katie Carroll has kept a box tucked away inside her wardrobe. It dates from her time working as a nurse in a west of Ireland mother and baby home in the 1960s. The box contains a notebook holding the details of the babies and young women she met there. It also holds many of the babies’ identity bracelets.

Following the death of her husband, Katie makes a decision. The information she possesses could help reunite adopted people with their birth mothers, and she decides to post a message on an internet forum. Soon the replies are rolling in, and Katie finds herself returning many of the bracelets to their original owners. She encounters success and failure, heartbreak and joy. But is she prepared for old secrets to be uncovered in her own life?

~ On my bedside table ~

I’m currently reading Jack & Bet by Sarah Butler and I’ll be sharing my review here on 11th March.

Jack & Bet by Sarah Butler

Even the longest marriages have their secrets . . .

Jack Chalmers is a man of few words, married to a woman of many. He and Bet have been together for seventy years – almost a lifetime – and happily so, for the most part.

All Jack and Bet want is to enjoy the time they have left together, in the flat they have tried to make their home. Their son Tommy has other ideas: he wants them to live somewhere with round-the-clock care, hot meals, activities. Bet thinks they can manage just fine.

When they strike up an unlikely friendship with Marinela, a young Romanian woman, Bet thinks she has found the perfect solution – one that could change Marinela’s life as well as theirs. But this means revisiting an old love affair, and confronting a long-buried secret she has kept hidden from everyone, even Jack, for many years.

Tender, moving and beautifully told, Sarah Butler’s Jack & Bet is an unforgettable novel about love and loss, the joys and regrets of a long marriage, and the struggle to find a place to call home.


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

Until next week, happy reading!

Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · fiction · Lucy Foley · Review Copy · Reviews

A Sarah’s Vignettes Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley (@lucyfoleytweets) ~ @HarperCollinsUK ~ @annecater #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour

I am thrilled to be sharing my review of The Guest List by Lucy Foley with you today. I loved The Hunting Party so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on a copy of The Guest List.

My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour and to Jen Harlow at HarperCollins, for a copy of the book.

Before I share my review with you, here is what The Guest List is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

On an island off the windswept Irish coast, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater.
 
Old friends.
Past grudges.

 
Happy families.
Hidden jealousies.

 
Thirteen guests.
One body.

 
The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped.

All have a secret. All have a motive.
One guest won’t leave this wedding alive . . .

~ My thoughts ~

Ooh, just reading the blurb gives me the chills – and this book has a lot of them!

The Guest List is a classic whodunnit, with an Agatha Christie vibe. It is set on Cormorant Island, a remote island off of the Irish coast, where the only way on and off is by boat – and that’s when the weather is behaving itself. It’s the perfect setting for the wedding of the year but also for tragic events to unfold.

The Guest List begins on the evening of the wedding party where a body has been found on the island. The story then plays out between the day before and the party. It is told from the points of view of 5 characters: Jules, the bride, Olivia, the bridesmaid, Hannah, the plus-one, Aoife, the wedding planner, and Johnno, the best man. They really are an interesting bunch, each with their own stories and memories of the past. The closer it gets to the wedding, the more tense the atmosphere becomes and the more unsettled the characters are.

The island is a character in itself and acts as the catalyst for the events that unfold. The island’s remoteness and isolation plays with the characters, tormenting them. They feel trapped and, bit by bit, their true colours begin to show and decades old secrets and grudges emerge.

Lucy Foley has a brilliant way of creating an atmosphere in very few words. She is an intelligent and accomplished writer. Like The Hunting PartyThe Guest List is an outstanding read and deserves the numerous accolades it has already received (it was only published nine days ago!). I am already looking forward to the next book.

~ Where to find The Guest List ~

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Guest List by Lucy Foley was published in Hardback by HarperCollins in the UK on 20 February 2020. It can be found in all good bookshops as well at Amazon UK and on Goodreads.

~ About Lucy Foley ~

Lucy Foley

Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party, an instant Sunday Times and Irish Times no.1 bestseller, was Lucy’s debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination. Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages. Her journalism has appeared in ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Grazia and more.

~ Follow the tour ~

Be sure to drop by the other stops on the The Guest List blog tour!

The Guest List blog tour poster
Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · Christy Lefteri · fiction · Review Copy · Reviews

A Sarah’s Vignettes Book Review: The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri (@christy_lefteri) ~ @ZaffreBooks ~ @Tr4cyF3nt0n #BlogTour

I am thrilled to be sharing my review of The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri with you today.

My thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour and to Zaffre Books, for a proof copy of the book.

Before I share my thoughts with you, here is what The Beekeeper of Aleppo is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

In the midst of war, he found love

In the midst of darkness, he found courage

In the midst of tragedy, he found hope

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.

As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.

~ My thoughts ~

I read The Beekeeper of Aleppo back in March 2019 but then life happened and I didn’t write my review. The story is so compelling that it has stayed with me all this time. Over the past week, I have refreshed my memory of the finer details of the story by listening to the audio book, read beautifully by Art Malik.

My journey with The Beekeeper of Aleppo started in late 2018 with a tweet from Zaffre Books, asking if book bloggers and reviewers would like a copy of the book to read and review. So I filled out a form in which I was given two choices: do I leave my spouse in search of a better life abroad or do I stay with them in a war torn country. A few weeks later, I received an email from Zaffre Books with the subject line: It’s time for your journey to begin. The email reminded me of the choice I had made and explained the decisions Nuri and Afra have to make in the story. It also confirmed that my book was on it’s way. Little did I realise that the real journey was only just beginning.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo begins in the UK with Nuri, the beekeeper, introducing us to his artist wife Afra and the rundown B&B they are staying at with 8 other refugees, awaiting immigration paperwork. Half way through the chapter, the story switches to Nuri and Afra’s life in Syria. Each chapter incorporates both the present and Nuri and Afra’s journey from Syria to the UK. Christy Lefteri has a clever way of dividing the past and the present in each chapter but I’ll let you discover what that is. 

Like us reviewers were given, Nuri and Afra have two choices: either stay in their home in war torn Syria and be killed or risk their lives with smugglers trying to get to the safety of the UK. I cannot imagine how you make that decision and I am fortunate that I have never had to.

What Afra and Nuri have been through before they even start their journey is horrifying, so much so that Afra has gone blind. Nevertheless with just a rucksack, they eventually decide to leave their home to make the journey to England, where Mustafa, Nuri’s cousin and business partner, is waiting. Nuri and Afra dangerously cross Turkey and Greece and are witness to some horrible realities with the refugee crisis: homelessness, poor sanitation, child slavery, abuse to name but a few.

Throughout the story, Nuri and Mustafa keep in contact by email, when Nuri can get access to the internet. Mustafa has started an apiary in Yorkshire and is teaching fellow refugees how to care for bees. We learn about Nuri and Mustafa’s bee business back in Syria and how they plan to work together in the UK. When I went to a blogger brunch with Christy Lefteri last April, she explained how the bees remind us that war destroys not only people but nature too. It reminds us of our interdependence with nature – I think the cover captures this perfectly.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a powerful and significant story, compassionately and beautifully told. Whether you read it or listen to it, I believe that The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a story that we should all experience. 

~ Where to find The Beekeeper of Aleppo ~

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri will be published in paperback by Zaffre Books in the UK on 20 February 2020. It can be found in all good bookshops as well at Amazon UK and on Goodreads.

~ About Christy Lefteri ~

Christy Lefteri was born in London in 1980 to Greek Cypriot parents who moved to London in 1974 during the Turkish invasion. She completed a degree in English and a Masters in creative writing at Brunel University. She taught English to foreign students and then became a secondary school teacher before leaving to pursue a PhD and to write. She is also studying to become a psychotherapist.

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Be sure to drop by the other stops on the The Beekeeper of Aleppo blog tour!

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri