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!

A Week in Books · Ali Pantony · Books · Carol Drinkwater · Claire Dyer · Cynthia Bond · Elizabeth von Arnim · F. Scott Fitzgerald · fiction · Kathleen McGurl · Literary Lowdown · Liz Fenwick · Louise Jensen · Lucy Foley · Nadiya Hussain · Non-Fiction · Rowan Coleman

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 25/08/2019

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 things. 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 Ruby by Cynthia Bond.

~ On social media ~

Last Friday, you may remember I supported author Louise Jensen with a little teaser for her new book The Family . On Tuesday, I took part in the cover reveal. What a fab cover it is!!


For #ThrowbackThursday, I shared the link to my review for The Last Day by Claire Dyer. This book was one of my reading highlights in 2018. It is beautiful.


A bank holiday weekend is ideal for reading a book or two, so I shared a few of my recommended reads from this year over on Twitter:

The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman ~ The House on the Edge of the Cliff by Carol Drinkwater ~ The Path to the Sea by Liz Fenwick ~ Almost Adults by Ali Pantony

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 2 books to my bookshelf this week and 1 to my mum’s cookery book shelf.

I bought my mum a copy of Nadiya Hussain’s new recipe book:Time to Eat. Have you been watching the tv series? I love it! I’m looking forward to trying out some of Nadiya’s recipes.

Time to Eat by Nadiya Hussain

Feeding a large family and juggling a busy career can be anxiety-inducing so Nadiya has crafted over 100 recipes to take the stress out of cooking and put the joy back in to every meal.

There are recipes for rushed weekday evenings and those relaxed Sunday afternoons, as well as kitchen hacks and time-saving tricks to make every breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a little simpler.


I popped into WHSmith to buy a copy of FRANCE magazine and came out with said magazine and two books from the Penguin Modern Classics collection. They were in a ‘Buy One Get One Half Price’ offer…what’s a bookworm supposed to do!

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

The discreet advertisement in The Times, addressed ‘To Those who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine’, offers a small medieval castle for rent, above a bay on the Italian Riviera. Four very different women – the dishevelled and downtrodden Mrs Wilkins, the sad, sweet-faced Mrs Arbuthnot, the formidable widow Mrs Fisher and the ravishing socialite Lady Caroline Dester – are drawn to the shores of the Mediterranean that April. As each, in turn, blossoms in the warmth of the Italian spring and finds their spirits stirring, quite unexpected changes occur.

The Enchanted April, published in 1922, is a witty and delightful depiction of what it is like to rediscover joy.


Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Between the First World War and the Wall Street Crash the French Riviera was the stylish place for wealthy Americans to visit. Among the most fashionable are the Divers, Dick and Nicole who hold court at their villa. Into their circle comes Rosemary Hoyt, a film star, who is instantly attracted to them, but understands little of the dark secrets and hidden corruption that hold them together. As Dick draws closer to Rosemary, he fractures the delicate structure of his marriage and sets both Nicole and himself on to a dangerous path where only the strongest can survive.

In this exquisite, lyrical novel, Fitzgerald has poured much of the essence of his own life; he has also depicted the age of materialism, shattered idealism and broken dreams.

~ On my bedside table ~

The Stationmaster's Daughter by Kathleen McGurl

I finished reading The Stationmaster’s Daughter by Kathleen McGurl. Watch out for my review tomorrow.


Last night, I started reading The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. Although I’m only 7 pages in, I like what I’ve already read. The premise of this book is great: right at the beginning we know there has been a murder (not a spoiler) but we will only find out who the victim is and the murderer at the end. I can’t wait to see how this plays out!! I shall report back.

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

Until next week, happy reading!

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

~ Follow the tour~

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

Almost Adults blog tour poster
Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · Review Copy · Reviews · Rowan Coleman

A Sarah’s Vignettes Book Review: The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman (@rowancoleman) ~ @EburyPublishing ~ @annecater #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour

I am thrilled to be able to finally share with you my review of The Girl at the Window by Sunday Times bestselling author Rowan Coleman. I read it back in June and it blew me away. I’ve been itching to talk about it ever since.

My thanks to Ellie Crisp at Ebury Press for sending me a stunning proof copy of the novel (in return for my honest review) and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

Before I finally share my thoughts with you, here is what The Girl at the Window is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…

~ My thoughts ~

Whenever I can, I like to read a physical copy of a book. For me, there is something about holding it, turning its pages, and looking at the book’s cover each time I pick it up. I feel I become part of the book. This was certainly the case with The Girl at the Window and my enjoyment started with its beautiful front cover. Even the proof copy of the book is a thing beauty.

I have five of Rowan Coleman’s novels sitting on my bookshelf, patiently waiting to be read. For some reason, The Girl at the Window is the first one that I am reading but I do understand why. I am a great believer that some books come to us at the exact time that we are supposed to read them and The Girl at the Window is one of those books. It is simply stunning and what an introduction to Rowan Coleman’s writing!

The Girl at the Window is a hauntingly beautiful story about love and hope. When Trudy Heaton’s husband goes missing, she returns to her family home, Ponden Hall, with son Will in tow. As Trudy becomes reacquainted with her mother and the Hall, both the house and its surroundings start to offer up some of their secrets. 

The book is divided into six Parts, each part introduced by an Emily Bronte poem. It moves between present day, Trudy and her husband Abe’s story and the historical story. Each story is so intricately and delicately woven together, they flow seamlessly. If I’d had the time, I could have easily read The Girl at the Window in one sitting. It is captivating! Rowan Coleman’s love of the Bronte’s really shines through in this book too and Emily Bronte is living within its pages.

Rowan Coleman’s writing has a gentle, softly spoken nature to it – one I’ve not experienced before. It’s tender almost, holding your hand as you travel Trudy’s journey with her. It’s sensitive to all of the characters stories, both past and present. 

Whilst immersed in this story, I laughed, I cried, my heart pounded several times, but most all, I loved. The Girl at the Window really does have the whole package. It is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. I highly recommend it!

~ Where to find The Girl at the Window ~

The Girl at the Window was published by Ebury Press, first as eBook on 27 June 2019 and will be published in Paperback on 8th August 2019. You can buy it in all good bookshops and on Amazon UK. It is also on Goodreads.

~ About Rowan Coleman ~

Rowan Coleman

Rowan Coleman lives with her husband and their five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire. She juggles writing novels with raising her family. Rowan’s last novel, The Summer of Impossible Things , was selected for Zoe Ball’s ITV Book Club. Rowan has an everlasting love for the Brontes, and is a regular visitor of Ponden Hall.

W: www.rowancoleman.com ~ T: @rowancoleman ~ F: @rowancolemanauthor ~ I: @rowanmcoleman

~ Follow the tour~

Be sure to drop by the other stops on the The Girl at the Window blog tour!

The Girl at the Window blog tour poster
Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · Lara Prior-Palmer · Non-Fiction · Review Copy · Reviews

Blog Tour, Review: Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer (@LaraPriorPalmer) ~ @EburyPublishing ~ @annecater

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour and sharing my review for Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer.

Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to Ebury Publishing for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Scroll on for a taster of the book and to read my review.

Publisher's Description

The Mongol Derby is the world’s toughest horse race. An outrageous feat of endurance across the vast Mongolian plains once traversed by the army of Genghis Khan, the Derby sees competitors ride 25 horses across 1000km, and it’s rare that more than half of the riders make it to the finish line.

In 2013 Lara Prior-Palmer – nineteen, wildly underprepared and in search of the great unknown – decided to enter the race. Finding on the wild Mongolian steppe, strength and self-knowledge she didn’t know she possessed, even whilst caught in biblical storms and lost in the mountains, Lara tore through the field with her motley crew of horses. She didn’t just complete the race: in one of the Derby’s most unexpected results, she won, becoming the youngest-ever competitor to conquer the course.

A tale of endurance, adventure and man’s struggle to tame the wild, Rough Magic is the extraordinary story of one woman’s quest to find herself in one of the most remote and challenging landscapes on earth. 

My thoughts

As regular visitors to this blog know, most of my reviews are of fictional stories. So when the opportunity came up to read and review a memoir, I was intrigued to see how my thoughts about the book would differ. This certainly was a curious read!

At 19 years old, Lara Prior-Palmer decides on a whim to enter The Mongol Derby, the world’s wildest and toughest horse race. With no training and a care-free attitude, she embarks on a journey that ends with her becoming the race’s youngest, and first-ever female winner.

Rough Magic is the musings of Lara’s experiences through the race. She wrote most of it whilst on the race, so it felt like I was living inside Laura’s head. At times, her thoughts become the ramblings of a wandering mind, a result of the solitary hours of being free and journeying on horseback through a wild environment.

At the beginning when Lara’s tells us that she’s going to enter the race, I felt myself wanting to jump into the pages and tell her how crazy she was. However, as the journey progresses, I did wonder if it was Lara’s unprepared nature that helped her to win. The other riders had prepared and trained for up to a year prior to the race and secured sponsorship from companies in or related to the equine industry. They had a lot riding on this race.

I have ridden several times for only short periods and within 10 minutes my legs are aching so I can appreciate what endurance you need for such an undertaken. I’ve also only ever ridden one particular horse because I trusted her and got used to her nature and her ways. In this race, competitors change horses at each stop . Horse riding is very much about the relationship between horse and rider so to ride 25 horses over 1,000km in 10 days is no mean feat.

The wild and untamed landscape also throws up some serious weather. Lara’s sheer determination keeps her going through it. I remember at one point during the book, Lara does not make it in time to the next stop so she ties the horse to herself with a bungee type rope and sleeps like that in the open air. Fair play to her, she has guts and my admiration!

Where to find Rough Magic

Rough Magic was published by Ebury Publishing on 6 June 2019. It can be found at Amazon UK and on Goodreads.

About Lara Prior-Palmer

LARA PRIOR-PALMER was born in London in 1994. Her aunt is Lucinda Green, a legendary rider and one of the UK’s best-ever equestrians. Lara studied conceptual history and Persian at Stanford University. In 2013, she competed in the 1000-kilometer Mongol Derby in Mongolia, sometimes described as the world’s toughest and longest horse race. Rough Magic is her first book.

You can find Lara on Twitter at @LaraPriorPalmer.

Follow the blog tour

Be sure to drop by the other blogs on the tour!

Rough Magic Blog Tour poster