A Week in Books · Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · Charlie Mackesy · Emma Mitchell · Liz Fenwick · Megan Angelo

Sarah's Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 15 December 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 ~

When Stars Will Shine: Helping our Heroes One Page at a Time

On Tuesday, it was a real pleasure to share my review for When Stars Will Shine collated by Emma Mitchell. This is a wonderful collection of short stories with all proceeds from sales going to the Help the Heroes charity. With stories that will touch your heart, some Christmas crime, and love stories, there is something for everyone.

~ On social media ~

For #ThrowbackThursday, I looked back on my review of The Returning Tide by Liz Fenwick.

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 1 signed book to my bookshelf this week.

Whilst out and about in London this Friday, I popped into Gallery Different on Percy Street to have a look around the Charley Mackesy Exhibition. They were showing artworks and drawings from his beautiful book: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse . I was very lucky to meet Charley and he signed a copy of my book and included a couple of doodles!

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

A book of hope for uncertain times.

Enter the world of Charlie’s four unlikely friends, discover their story and their most important life lessons.

The conversations of the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse have been shared thousands of times online, recreated in school art classes, hung on hospital walls and turned into tattoos. In Charlie’s first book, you will find his most-loved illustrations and some new ones too.

~ On my bedside table ~

Followers by Megan Angelo

I’m reading Followers by Megan Angelo. It’s set between 2015 and 2051 and, as the title suggests, it revolves around social media and followings. It is a good read and interesting to see what the 2051 digital world might have in store for us!


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!

A Week in Books · Advanced Review Copy · Books · fiction · Heidi Swain · Karen Swan · Libby Page · Literary Lowdown · Nikola Scott

Sarah's Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 1 December 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 ~

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.

Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage by Heidi Swain

For this week’s post, I chose Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage by Heidi Swain. How beautiful is the cover! It’s so inviting.

~ On social media ~

For #ThrowbackThursday, I chose Summer of Secrets by Nikola Scott.

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 1 book to my digital bookshelf this week. It is an advanced copy of The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page, due out in 23rd January 2020.

The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page

The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page

Day and night Stella’s Café opens its doors for the lonely and the lost, the morning people and the night owls. It is many things to many people but most of all it is a place where life can wait at the door. A place of small kindnesses. A place where anyone can be whoever they want, where everyone is always welcome.

Meet Hannah and Mona: best friends, waitresses, dreamers. They work at Stella’s but they dream of more, of leaving the café behind and making their own way in life.

Come inside and spend twenty-four hours at Stella’s Café; a day when Hannah and Mona’s friendship will be tested, when the community will come together and when lives will be changed . . .

~ On my bedside table ~

The Christmas Party by Karen Swan

I’m reading The Christmas Party by Karen Swan and I’m really enjoying it!


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 · Books · Eleanor O'Reilly · fiction · Review Copy · Shelf Control

Shelf Control: M for Mammy by Eleanor O’Reilly

Shelf Control

Shelf Control is a meme run by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies.  It is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves.  Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.


I love this idea of celebrating books on our book shelves that have been published for a while and we are yet to discover. I’m not choosing in any particular order. I’m just perusing my shelves and seeing what stands out for me at that moment.

This week, I have chosen a book from my proof bookshelf:

M for Mammy
M for Mammy

M for Mammy by Eleanor O’Reilly

It was published in the UK by Two Roads on March 21st 2019.

~ What it’s about ~

Meet the Augustts: a loving, Irish family who, like all families, are a bit complicated. But they are bound together by their love for each other and the way their words shape their world.

Things become even more complicated when the mother has a stroke, and the force of nature who is Granny Mae-Anne comes to try and take charge to keep the family together.

She has a job on. There’s the son Jacob with all his words trapped in his head by The Autism, the father Mickey struggling to express himself at all, and Jenny, the daughter, quietly writing it all down to try and make sense of it.

M for Mammy is about language and home and the power of a family to heal itself. It is about telling stories, reading stories, and writing them down. It is a story of a young boy without words, of a mother who has lost her words and a father full of stories he has to learn to tell. And then there’s the granny who hammers and shapes words on the anvil of love, and a daughter who tries to speak for them all.

~ When I added it to my book shelf ~

I got a proof copy of M for Mammy in a goody bag at the Spring Readers’ Day of Guildford Book Festival earlier this year.

~ Why I want to read it ~

I love books written by Irish authors. I don’t know what they put in the water in Ireland but there is something that makes Irish writers natural born storytellers. The writing just flows. Also, this story sounds really good.

A Week in Books · Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Book Post · Books · Cathy Kelly · fiction · Giveaway · Hans Fallada · Kathleen McGurl · Linn B. Halton · Literary Lowdown · Lucy Foley · Rosanna Ley · Rowan Coleman · Stacey Halls · Sylvia Day

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 1/09/2019

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 ~

The Stationmaster's Daughter by Kathleen McGurl

On Monday, I shared my review for The Stationmaster’s Daughter by Kathleen McGurl, as part of the blog tour. It’s a poignant story set between 1936 and present day. I love a time slip novel!


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 Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley.

Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley

On Friday, it was Sarah’s Vignettes stop on the blog tour for Butterfly in Frost, the latest novel by Sylvia Day. I didn’t have time to read this one for a review so I hosted a giveaway to win a copy of the book.

Butterfly in Frost by Sylvia Day

~ On social media ~

Last weekend, author Rowan Coleman asked readers who had reviewed her latest novel The Girl at the Window if they would be brave enough to film a few words to be included in a promotion video for social media. I and a few others summoned up the courage and did it. Here’s the final version:


For #ThrowbackThursday, I shared the link to my review for The Secrets of Villa Rosso by Linn B. Halton. This is a great story and Linn has a way of writing characters that I connect deeply with.

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 3 books to my shelf this week.

In October, I am taking part in the blog tour for Cathy Kelly’s 20th novel, The Family Gift . On Tuesday, I received a little gift from Orion: a proof copy of the book and a some chocolate.

The Family Gift by Cathy Kelly

The Family Gift by Cathy Kelly

The Family Gift by Cathy Kelly

Freya Abalone has a big, messy, wonderful family, a fantastic career, and a new house.

But that’s on the outside.

On the inside, she’s got Mildred – the name she’s given to that nagging inner critic who tells us all we’re not good enough.

And now Freya’s beloved blended family is under threat. Dan’s first wife Elisa, the glamorous, manipulative woman who happily abandoned her daughter to Freya and Dan’s care and left the country, has elbowed her way back into their lives.

But Freya knows that when life gives you lemons, you throw them right back.

Can Freya put her family – and herself – back together? Find out in Cathy Kelly’s warmest, wisest and funniest book yet…


I may have been lured into my local Waterstones yesterday – it doesn’t take much at all!! I bought a gorgeous hardback copy of The Familiars by Stacey Halls and another of Penguins Modern Classics to add to my growing collection : Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada.

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

In a time of suspicion and accusation, to be a woman is the greatest risk of all . . .

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn’t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.

Then she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife. Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong. 

As Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the north-west, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye? 

Soon the two women’s lives will become inextricably bound together as the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood’s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake. 

Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.


Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada

Inspired by a true story, Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin  is the gripping tale of an ordinary man’s determination to defy the tyranny of Nazi rule. This Penguin Classics edition contains an afterword by Geoff Wilkes, as well as facsimiles of the original Gestapo file which inspired the novel.

Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels receive the news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France. Shocked out of their quiet existence, they begin a silent campaign of defiance, and a deadly game of cat and mouse develops between the Quangels and the ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich. When petty criminals Kluge and Borkhausen also become involved, deception, betrayal and murder ensue, tightening the noose around the Quangels’ necks …

~ On my bedside table ~

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

In last week’s round-up, I mentioned that I had just started reading The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. I finished it in 3 days! It’s a great read and I’ll be sharing my review on here soon.


FRANCE magazine, NB, Writing magazine

I sometimes take a bit of a break when I’m in between books so I have been dipping in and out of the latest issues of FRANCE magazine, NB, and Writing magazine.


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!

Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · fiction · Kathleen McGurl · Review Copy · Reviews

A Sarah’s Vignettes Book Review: The Stationmaster’s Daughter by Kathleen McGurl (@KathMcGurl) ~ @HQDigitalUK @HQstories ~ @rararesources #BlogTour

I am pleased to be sharing my review of The Stationmaster’s Daughter, the latest novel from author Kathleen McGurl.

My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for a space on the tour and to HQ Digital for sending me an eProof copy of the book via Netgalley (in return for my honest review).

Before I share my thoughts with you, here is what The Stationmaster’s Daughter is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

As the last train leaves, will life ever be the same?

Dorset 1935

Stationmaster Ted has never cared much for romance. Occupied with ensuring England’s most beautiful railway runs on time, love has always felt like a comparatively trivial matter. Yet when he meets Annie Galbraith on the 8.42 train to Lynford, he can’t help but instantly fall for her.

But soon the railway is forced to close and a terrible accident occurs within the station grounds, Ted finds his job and any hope of a relationship with Annie hanging in the balance…

Present day

Recovering from heartbreak after a disastrous marriage, Tilly decides to escape from the bustling capital and move to Dorset to stay with her dad, Ken. When Ken convinces Tilly to help with the restoration of the old railway, she discovers a diary hidden in the old ticket office. Tilly is soon swept up in Ted’s story, and the fateful accident that changed his life forever. But an encounter with an enigmatic stranger takes Tilly by surprise, and she can’t help but feel a connection with Ted’s story in the past.

~ My thoughts ~

Back in March, I discovered Kathleen McGurl’s writing for the first time with The Forgotten Secret and I fell in love with it. Kathleen writes stories that I love: contemporary and historical fiction, a mystery, characters I can easily connect with, well researched, beautifully told. Needless to say that I was really excited when I was contacted about taking part in the blog tour for The Stationmaster’s Daughter.

Kathleen McGurl knows how to tell a story and a heartbreaking one at that. The Stationmaster’s Daughter starts in the present day with Tilly Thomson at a pivotal time in her life and and her dad, Ken, coming to rescue her. The story then alternates between Tilly’s recovery and 1936 with Ted Morgan’s story, the stationmaster at Lynford station.

Oh, dear, sweet Ted. I warmed to him immediately. He is proud to be a stationmaster and lives for his work. Then he meets Annie, one of the regular passengers, and his life changes forever. I did feel for him and, on occasions, I wanted to jump into the pages to hug him.

One of the many things I liked about this story, and The Forgotten Secret, is how Kathleen McGurl intertwined the historical story with the present. Tilly’s dad volunteers for the local railway restoration society and asks Tilly to get involved, archiving the documents they find and displaying them in the railway museum at Lynford. In doing so, Tilly comes across Ted’s diary and so his story plays out part in the present day as well as in ‘real time’.

Although there were these parallels between Tilly’s and Ted’s stories, I was quite interested in the parallels between Tilly and Annie, in terms of how women were viewed in society in their respective periods.

The historical part of the story is set 4 years before World War Two, when a woman’s place was either at work whilst living with parents before she got married or in the home after she got married. Fast forward 80 years and to Tilly living with her dad after her marriage has ended and working out her way forward as a single, independent woman. The relationships that both women have with their father’s are therefore different. Annie’s father saw his daughter’s place in society for his gain whereas Tilly’s father is so loving, caring and supportive and just wants her to be happy. How times have changed for the better.

The Stationmaster’s Daughter is an escapist timeslip novel about love, tragedy and overcoming bad times for brighter futures. I’m looking forward to Kathleen McGurl’s next story.

~ Where to find The Stationmaster’s Daughter ~

The Stationmaster's Daughter book cover

The Stationmaster’s Daughter was published as a eBook by HQ Digital on 6th August 2019. You can buy it on Amazon UK and Amazon US. It is also on goodreads.

~ About Kathleen McGurl ~

Kathleen McGurl author photo

Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, UK, with her husband. She has two sons who are now grown-up and have left home. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present, and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.

W: https://kathleenmcgurl.com/ ~ F: @KathleenMcGurl ~ T: @KathMcGurl

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Be sure to drop by the other stops on the The Stationmaster’s Daughter blog tour!

The Stationmaster's Daughter blog tour poster
Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · fiction · Mary Beth Keane · Review Copy · Reviews

A Sarah’s Vignettes Book Review: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (@Mary_Beth_Keane) ~ @MichaelJBooks #BlogTour

I am pleased to be sharing my review of The New York Times bestseller and Radio 2 Summer Book Club pick Ask Again, Yes , the latest novel from author Mary Beth Keane.

My thanks to Sriya Varadharajan at Michael Joseph for a space on the tour and for me sending me a proof copy of the book (in return for my honest review).

Before I share my thoughts with you, here is what Ask Again, Yes is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

A gripping and compassionate drama of two families linked by chance, love and tragedy

Gillam, upstate New York: a town of ordinary, big-lawned suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours.

Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope – cold, elegant, unstable – wants to be left alone.

It’s left to their children – Lena’s youngest, Kate, and Anne’s only child, Peter – to find their way to one another. To form a friendship whose resilience and love will be almost broken by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible tragedy that will engulf them all.

A tragedy whose true origins only become clear many years later . . .

A story of love and redemption, faith and forgiveness, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood – villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so. 

A story of how, if we’re lucky, the violence lurking beneath everyday life can be vanquished by the power of love.

~ My thoughts ~

Ask Again, Yes is one of the most powerful books I have read in a long time. Set in Gillam, New York, this multigenerational family drama follows the trials and tribulations of neighbours The Stanhopes and The Gleesons across 40 years.

When The Stanhopes move in, everyone expects that Anne Stanhope and Lena Gleeson will be friends. The neighbourhood is so tight, that it is suffocating. However, Anne is very cold towards Lena and it isn’t until much later on in the book that we understand why.

The story is told mostly from the points of view of Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope. Kate and Peter are born during the story and both families are completely different. Seeing events through young and innocent eyes, they cannot understand why their parents want to stop them from being friends. Then as the years pass, we see through their adult eyes the reasoning behind this.

Mary Beth Keane writes with compassion for her characters but she also puts them through the mill, as she does her readers. I was exhausted by the time I came to the end. Four decades of love, loss, tragedy are carefully woven with the topics of mental health, alcoholism, marriage, parenthood, and much more.

At it’s core, Ask Again, Yes shows how the power of love will conquer all. This is a book and an author to watch.

~ Where to find Ask Again, Yes ~

Ask Again, Yes book cover

Ask Again, Yes was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 7th August 2019. You can buy it in all good bookshops and on Amazon UK. It is also on Goodreads.

~ About Mary Beth Keane ~

Mary Beth Keane, author photo

Mary Beth Keane attended Barnard College and the University of Virginia, where she received an MFA. In 2011, she was named one of the National Book Foundation’s ‘5 Under 35,’ and in 2015 she was awarded a John S. Guggenheim fellowship for fiction writing. She currently lives in Pearl River, New York, with her husband and their two sons. She is the author of The Walking People , Fever , and Ask Again, Yes .

W: MaryBethKeane.com ~ F: @mbkwriter ~ T: @Mary_Beth_Keane ~ I: @marybethkeane

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Ask Again, Yes blog tour poster
Advanced Review Copy · Ali Pantony · Blog Tours · Books · fiction · Review Copy · Reviews

A Sarah’s Vignettes Book Review: Almost Adults by Ali Pantony (@alipantony) ~ @EburyPublishing #BlogTour

I am pleased to be sharing with you my review of Almost Adults , the debut novel from journalist and author Ali Pantony.

My thanks to Alice King at Ebury Press for a space on the blog tour and for sending me a proof copy of the book (in return for this honest review).

Before I share my thoughts with you, here is what Almost Adults is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

The struggle is real but at least they’re all in it together.

Ever managed to kill a succulent after just a few days? 
Got seven reminder letters on the kitchen table because you forgot to pay your council tax? 
Become a hot mess who’s falling apart because they’ve been broken up with?

Mackie, Edele, Alex and Nat are navigating their chaotic and confusing twenties together. They have jobs and pay their own rent (well, most of them) but don’t know how to bleed radiators, defrost a freezer or test the smoke alarms.

With break-ups to deal with and major decisions to make, life can get messy especially when they’re still trying to get the hang of this ‘being a grown-up’ thing.

Welcome to the joys of being almost adults.

~ My thoughts ~

Almost Adults is a fresh and uplifting story exploring the power of female friendships. It was such a joy to read and I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did.

Mackie, Edele, Alex and Nat have been the best of friends for years. Mackie and Alex seem to have life figured out and Nat and Edele are still working it out. Almost Adults charts the highs and lows of the twenty somethings as they navigate their way through their personal and professional lives, asking the question, when is it that we truly become adults? It is the strength of their friendship that gets them through. These are the friends who are there to cheer you on on your good days but more importantly who sit and hold you on the bad days. These women have each others backs and will do anything for one another.

Each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view , allowing us to get to know each of them individually and see the other characters how they see them. Each character is relatable and I think there are elements of these women in all of us.

Ali Pantony writes with such ease that the story flows seamlessly and I could easily have read this book in one sitting. Instead, I read it over several lunch breaks and I found that I couldn’t wait to pick up where I last left the girls to find out what was happening and how they were. I felt so comfortable in their company that I felt as though I was an honorary member of their group.

Almost Adults has a lot of heart and I finished it with a smile on my face. It is feel-good fiction and a perfect summer read. This is a brilliant debut and I’m looking forward to seeing what Ali Pantony writes next.

~ Where to find Almost Adults ~

Almost Adults was published by Ebury Press, first as an eBook on 24 June 2019 and in Paperback on 8th August 2019. You can buy it in all good bookshops and on Amazon UK. It is also on goodreads.

~ About Ali Pantony ~

Ali Pantony

Ali Pantony is a freelance writer and editor. Her writing has appeared in Glamour, Grazia, BBC Three, Refinery29, Vice, Red, and Evening Standard. Ali was born in Maidstone, Kent, and lives in North London. Almost Adults is her debut novel.

W: https://www.alipantony.com/ ~ T: @alipantony ~ I: @alipantony

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Almost Adults blog tour poster