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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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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Books · Carol Drinkwater · Reviews

A Sarah’s Vignettes Book Review: The House on the Edge of the Cliff by Carol Drinkwater (@Carol4OliveFarm) ~ @MichaelJBooks

~ Publisher’s Description ~

No one else knows what happened that summer. Or so she believes . . .

Grace first came to France a lifetime ago. Young and full of dreams of adventure, she met two very different men.

She fell under the spell of one. The other fell under hers.

Until one summer night shattered everything . . .

Now, Grace is living an idyllic life with her husband, sheltered from the world in a magnificent Provençal villa, perched atop a windswept cliff.

Every day she looks out over the sea – the only witness to that fateful night years ago.

Until a stranger arrives at the house. A stranger who knows everything, and won’t leave until he gets what he wants.

The past and present spectacularly collide in this gripping story of love and betrayal echoing across the decades. 

~ My thoughts ~

When I heard that Carol Drinkwater had a new novel coming out, I couldn’t wait to go out and buy a copy. Having loved both The Forgotten Summer and The Lost Girl, I had high hopes for The House on the Edge of the Cliff. I am pleased to say that it did not disappoint!

Rich description of Provence, family drama, intrigue, mystery, passion, loss coupled with what happens when the past and present collide and some twists and turns thrown in, all make The House on the Edge of the Cliff a compelling and gripping read from start to finish.

The intrigue, mystery and passion in this book starts with its elegant front cover, which invites the reader to ask several questions: who is the woman on the rocks? Why is she there? What is she thinking? What’s the significance of the house on the cliff behind her? Well, I can tell you that the woman on the rocks is Grace, the protagonist of The House on the Edge of the Cliff. For the answers to the other questions, you will have to read the book, as I would certainly give away too much of the story here.

We first meet Grace in the present day, at her idyllic villa close to Marseille. Her step daughters and grandchildren are packing up to go home after their holiday. Grace’s grandson wanders off and she goes to find him. When Grace does catch up with him, it’s not quite what she expects. The start of the book really packs a punch and sets up the rhythm and tension for the whole book. We then follow Grace’s life, loves and losses over 50 years.

I really enjoyed the historical elements to this story. Like in The Lost Girl, where Carol Drinkwater set the book around a pivotal moment in France’s history (the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks), The House on the Edge of the Cliff is set around the Paris riots of May 1968. From the detail that goes into these scenes, it is clear that Carol Drinkwater has researched this period to an inch of its life. I learnt a great deal about France’s history when I studied in Paris for 3 years, so I really appreciate these parts of her books as well as the present day France. It feels like coming home.

Another thing I enjoy about Carol Drinkwater’s storytelling, is her ability to write as though she is looking down the lens of a camera, capturing every aspect of the scene in front of her. Each sound of a cicada, perfume of a flower, crack on the wall of the house is described so vividly, I was transported to that moment.

~ Where to find The House on the Edge of the Cliff ~

The House on the Edge of the Cliff by Carol Drinkwater

The House on the Edge of the Cliff was published by Michael Joseph on 16 May 2019 and is available to buy in all good bookshops as well as on Amazon UK . It can also be found on Goodreads.

~ About Carol Drinkwater ~

Carol Drinkwater

Carol Drinkwater is a multi-award-winning actress who is best known for her portrayal of Helen Herriot in the BBC television series All Creatures Great and Small

Her quartet of memoirs set on her olive farm in the south of France have sold over a million copies worldwide and her solo journey round the Mediterranean in search of the olive tree’s mythical secrets inspired a five-part documentary film series, The Olive Route

She is also the author of novels The Forgotten Summer, The Lost Girl and The House on the Edge of the Cliff

She lives in the south of France where she is writing her next novel.

W: www.caroldrinkwater.com ~ T: @Carol4OliveFarm

Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · Claire Cock-Starkey · Extracts · Review Copy · Reviews

Blog Tour, Review, Extract: The Real McCoy and 149 Other Eponyms by Claire Cock-Starkey (@NonFictioness) @BodPublishing

I am delighted to welcome back Claire Cock-Starkey to Sarah’s Vignettes with her latest book The Real McCoy and 149 Other Eponyms and sneak peek at one of the eponyms featured in the book. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Claire for inviting me to be part of the tour and for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Scroll on to read my thoughts about the book and to discover the origins of the eponym ‘Wisteria’.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

The English language is rich with eponyms – words that are named after an individual – some better known than others. This book features 150 of the most interesting and enlightening specimens, delving into the origins of the words and describing the fascinating people after whom they were named.

Eponyms are derived from numerous sources. Some are named in honour of a style icon, inventor or explorer, such as pompadour, Kalashnikov and Cadillac. Others have their roots in Greek or Roman mythology, such as panic and tantalise. A number of eponyms, however, are far from celebratory and were created to indicate a rather less positive association – into this category can be filed boycott, Molotov cocktail and sadist.

Encompassing eponyms from medicine, botany, invention, science, fashion, food and literature this book uncovers the intriguing tales of discovery, mythology, innovation and infamy behind the eponyms we use every day. The Real McCoy is the perfect addition to any wordsmith’s bookshelf.

~ My thoughts ~

I was really pleased when Claire Cock-Starkey invited me to take part in this blog tour. I had previously enjoyed both The Book Lovers’ Miscellany and A Library Miscellany (read my review here) and was intrigued to see what The Real McCoy and 149 Other Eponyms had to offer.

As the title suggests, the book is full of fascinating facts about the origins of 150 eponyms in the English Language (an eponym is a person after whom a discovery, invention, place, etc. is named or thought to be named). Arranged alphabetically, it can be read in order or dipped in and out of. It is perfect for enriching general knowledge, in particular for crosswords and quizzes. There is a handy index arranged by topic, e.g. botanical/zoological, fashionable/artistic, gastronomic, etc. and one for names, should the reader want to find something specific.

One thing I have been amazed at through all 3 books of Claire’s I have read is how rich the detail is. It is clear that they are all extensively researched and I wonder how Claire manages to condense it all into only 131 pages!

Like the Miscellany books, The Real McCoy and 149 Other Eponyms is a pocket-sized gem of a book and would be a great Christmas gift.

~ An Extract from The Real McCoy and 149 Other Eponyms ~

Wisteria extract

~ Where to find The Real McCoy and 149 Other Eponyms ~

The Real McCoy and 149 Other Eponyms was published in October 2018 by Bodleian Library Publishing and can be found at the following links:

Goodreads            Amazon UK          Amazon US

~ About Claire Cock-Starkey ~

claire-cock-starkey

Claire Cock-Starkey is a writer and editor based in Cambridge. is Claire’s eleventh book. Her other titles include A Library Miscellany (2018), The Book Lovers’ Miscellany (2017), The Golden Age of the Garden (2017) and Penguins, Pineapples and Pangolins (2016), which was named one of  Q. I.’s ten most interesting books of 2016.

~ Where to find Claire Cock-Starkey ~

Twitter    Website

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Books · Recommended Reads · Reviews · Ronnie Turner · The Riviera Woman

Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner (@Ronnie_Turner) @HQDigitalUK ~ Recommended Read ~ The Riviera Woman

I regularly share my top reads from this blog over at The Riviera Woman.The Riviera Woman

The Riviera Woman, run by Anna Fill, helps women living or working on the Riviera live life to the full with it’s inspirational people and interesting articles.

For November, I have chosen Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner. You can read my review here.

Lies Between Us

 

Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · Review Copy · Reviews · Ronnie Turner

Blog Tour: Review of Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner (@Ronnie_Turner) @HQDigitalUK

I am thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Lies Between Us by fellow book blogger, Ronnie Turner. Thank you to Ronnie for inviting me and to HQ Digital for sending me a copy of the book via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Before I share my thoughts with you, here is what Lies Between Us is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

The past is always watching . . .

Three people, leading very different lives, are about to be brought together – with devastating consequences . . .

John has a perfect life, until the day his daughter goes missing.

Maisie cares for her patients, but hides her own traumatic past.

Miller should be an innocent child, but is obsessed with something he can’t have.

They all have something in common, though none of them know it – and the truth won’t stay hidden for long . . .

A gripping psychological thriller for fans of Clare Mackintosh, Shari Lapena and Lisa Jewell.

~ My thoughts ~

It is always a pleasure to see a fellow book blogger follow their dream and when Ronnie Turner announced that she had signed with HQ, Harper Collins, I was fighting for a chance to read her debut psychological thriller Lies Between Us – and what a debut it is!

Lies Between Us is a chilling, tense and calculated story of extreme obsession that will stay with you long after you’ve finished it. Ronnie Turner’s insightful reading as a blogger is evident here as the thriller is extremely well written and cleverly crafted. The plot is very ambitious for a debut author: told from 3 characters points of view at varying points in time with so many twists, turns, shocks and lies along the way. I did find the jumps between dates a bit confusing at first but it’s worth sticking with it as the story is superb.

The characterisation is accomplished, especially in Miller, the first character we meet. He is highly disturbing and really got under my skin. Some of the horrible activities he gets up to are unbearable to read and at one point, I wondered how far Ronnie Turner would go with his story. I even had to stop reading part way through and go back later, such was Miller’s effect. It was as though his every word jumped off of the page and played with my mind. He certainly had me looking over my shoulder. Even so, I found him the most intriguing character. His creepiness sets the tone for the entire book.

The second character we are introduced to is John. Married to Jules and a writer, we live with them through the hardest time of their lives when their daughter Bonnie goes missing. I wasn’t sure what to think of John and I even wondered if he was responsible for Bonnie’s disappearance. But that’s the skill in Ronnie Turner’s writing. She plays with your head. Just as you think you’ve worked it out, she takes you on a completely different path.

The third character is Maisie, a nurse in an ICU Department who has a few secrets of her own. It is interesting to see how she fits into the story.

All three character’s voices are so unique that I didn’t need to know who’s story I was reading when it was introduced, as I already knew.  I am not sure I’ve read a book where the voices are that distinct.

Lies Between Us is compelling, fast paced, and highly emotional from the beginning. The story’s denouement is one that I certainly didn’t see coming and it fitted perfectly.

I thoroughly enjoyed this brilliant debut and I would highly recommend it. I am so looking forward to seeing what Ronnie Turner comes up with next.

~ Where to find Lies Between Us ~

Lies Between Us was published as an e-book and audiobook by HQ Digital, Harper Collins on 1 October 2018 and is due to be published in paperback on 13 December 2018. It is available via the following links:

Goodreads            Amazon UK          Amazon US

~ About Ronnie Turner ~

Author Photo 2

Ronnie Turner grew up in Cornwall, the youngest in a large family.

At an early age, she discovered a love of literature and dreamed of being a published author. Ronnie now lives in Dorset with her family and three dogs. In her spare time, she reviews books on her blog and enjoys long walks on the coast. She is currently working on her second novel.

Find out more:

Twitter: @Ronnie_ _Turner

Facebook: @RonnieTurnerAuthor

Instagram: @ronnieturner8702

Website: www.ronnieturner.wordpress.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/RonnieTurner

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Books · Fiona Harper · Recommended Reads · Reviews · The Riviera Woman

The Memory Collector by Fiona Harper (@FiHarper_Author) @HQStories ~ Recommended Read ~ The Riviera Woman

I regularly share my top reads from this blog over at The Riviera Woman.The Riviera Woman

The Riviera Woman, run by Anna Fill, helps women living or working on the Riviera live life to the full with it’s inspirational people and interesting articles.

For October, I have chosen The Memory Collector by Fiona Harper. You can read my review here.

 

The Memory Collector cover