A Week in Books · Advanced Review Copy · Books · Daniel Mason · Fliss Chester · Juliet West · Lisa Jewell · Literary Lowdown · Ronnie Turner · Seni Glaister · Shelf Control · WeFiFo

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 22/09/2019

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

~ On the blog ~

Shelf Control

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

This week, I chose The Faithful by Juliet West.

The Faithful by Juliet West

~ On social media ~

For #ThrowbackThursday, I shared the link to my review for Lies Between Us by author and fellow book blogger, Ronnie Turner. It’s a brilliant read!

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 2 fiction books to my shelves this week.

On Tuesday, I received a review copy of The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason from Picador. Book related post is my favourite kind of mail 🙂

The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason

The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason

From the bestselling author of The Piano Tuner, comes Daniel Mason’s The Winter Soldier, a story of love and medicine through the devastation of the First World War.

Vienna, 1914. Lucius is a twenty-two-year-old medical student when World War I explodes across Europe. Enraptured by romantic tales of battlefield surgery, he enlists, only to find himself posted to a remote field-hospital ravaged by typhus. Supplies have all but run out, the other doctors have fled, and only a single nurse remains, from whom he must learn a brutal, makeshift medicine.

Then one day, an unconscious soldier is brought in from the snow, his uniform stuffed with strange drawings. He seems beyond rescue, until Lucius makes a fateful decision that will change the course of his life.

From the gilded ballrooms of Imperial Vienna to the frozen forests of the Eastern Front, The Winter Soldier is the story of finding love in the sweeping tides of history, and of the mistakes we make and the precious opportunities to atone.


Fliss Chester and Seni Glaister

On Thursday night, I went to a supper with author Fliss Chester. As part of Horsham District Year of Culture, WeFiFo is hosting a series of monthly Culture Clubs. Fliss chatted with WeFiFo founder and author Seni Glaister about her 3 novels: Snowballs: Winter Fun on the Slopes, Summer at the Vineyard, Meet Me at the Riviera, how she got into writing and what’s next. We all then enjoyed a delicious 3-course meal cooked for us by Ina from Tanamerah. There was much laughter, chatting and eating. It’s such a joy when you bring books, food and people together in one gorgeous place.

Meet Me at the Riviera by Fliss Chester

Meet Me on the Riviera by Fliss Chester

It’s all about millionaires, Monaco and mega-yachts as Jenna Jenkins starts her new job as a party planner in glamorous Monte Carlo. Not always a fan of the fabulously wealthy – Jenna surprises herself and finds she has a real knack of helping the super-rich go overboard at glittering events held on the decks of the amazing yachts.

Little does Jenna know, however, that behind her back there’s a tussle going on for her affections and her loyalty to her darling boyfriend, gorgeous Angus Linklater, is about to be tested by the mysterious – and oh so hot – billionaire who’s used to getting exactly what and who he wants.

With Max and Bertie’s wedding to plan, old friends Hugo and Sally bursting with news of their own and a lot of champagne to drink, it’s going to be a very interesting summer. So, drop anchor, glam up and meet me on the Riviera…

~ On my bedside table ~

As my tweet earlier on said, I’m gravitating towards thrillers at the moment and I am currently reading The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell. There are a lot of secrets unravelling!!


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

Until next week, happy reading!

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

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

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

~ On the blog ~

Shelf Control

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

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

The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell

~ On social media ~

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

~ On my bookshelf ~

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

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

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

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

Virginia Woolf's desk
Virginia Woolf's desk

Virginia Woolf: The Complete Collection by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf: The Complete Collection by Virginia Woolf

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

Contents:

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

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

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

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

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

THE PLAY
Freshwater: A Comedy (both versions)

~ On my bedside table ~

Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks

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


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

Until next week, happy reading!

A Week in Books · 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 · Blog Tours · Books · Liz Fenwick · Review Copy · Reviews

Blog Tour, Review: The Path to the Sea by Liz Fenwick (@liz_fenwick) ~ @HQstories

I am honoured and thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Liz Fenwick’s latest novel The Path to the Sea.

Thank you to Joe Thomas and HQ for inviting me to be part of the tour and for sending me a proof copy of the book in return for my honest review.

Before I share my thoughts with you, here is a teaser of what you can expect from The Path to the Sea.

Publisher's Description with image of The Path to the Sea cover.

Sometimes going home is just the beginning…

Boskenna, the beautiful, imposing house standing on the Cornish cliffs, means something different to each of the Trewin women.

For Joan, as a glamorous young wife in the 1960s, it was a paradise where she and her husband could entertain and escape a world where no one was quite what they seemed – a world that would ultimately cost their marriage and end in tragedy.

Diana, her daughter, still dreams of her childhood there – the endless blue skies and wide lawns, book-filled rooms and parties, the sound of the sea at the end of the coastal path – even the family she adored was shattered there.

And for the youngest, broken-hearted Lottie, heading home in the August traffic, returning to Boskenna is a welcome escape from a life gone wrong in London, but will mean facing a past she’d hoped to forget.

As the three women gather in Boskenna for a final time, the secrets hidden within the beautiful old house will be revealed in a summer that will leave them changed for ever.

My thoughts with image of The Path to the Sea cover

Most visitors to this blog or to my social media pages will know that I am a huge fan of Liz Fenwick’s work, having read and reviewed the majority of her books (The Cornish House, A Cornish Affair, Under a Cornish Sky, The Returning Tide) and was absolutely bowled over last year by One Cornish Summer. I was curious to see where she was going to take her writing next. Well, Liz really has done it again with The Path to the Sea. Crikey, it is stunning and I fear that this review will not do this beautifully told story justice.

The Path to the Sea truly is a thing of beauty and this starts with the cover. Photos really do not do the blue justice. It is so vivid and evocative of those summer days by the sea. The hardback cloth is a lighter shade of blue and the writing on the spine under the jacket shines bright in silver. Is the story as beautiful as the packaging? Oh, yes! The Path to the Sea really does have the whole package.

A Liz Fenwick story would not be complete without a house and the Cornish coastline, both of which are characters in themselves. Liz Fenwick’s sense of place is perfect and it is evident that she has thoroughly researched the setting. No detail is left unturned – I don’t want to say too much for fear of ruining it but trust me, Liz has captured everything! Her rich description of Boskenna, a gorgeous house sitting on a cliff, looking out to St Austell Bay, its gardens and the coast transported me right into the story.

The Path to the Sea is told in and around Boskenna over one weekend in August 2018 and goes back and forth between the same weekend in 1962. I do love a dual time frame story and this one certainly doesn’t disappoint. Liz has included the date and time at the beginning of each chapter so it helps the reader to follow the story. As we progress through the weekend and learn more about the 3 women’s stories, we are aware it is leading to a decision which has ramifications that will span the generations. My goodness me. As I was reading through, I could feel this happening. Each chapter is fairly short and it really kept me on my toes. At each turn of the page, Liz slowly reveals details of what has brought Joan, Diana and Lottie to be in Boskenna that weekend and you can feel it bubbling away under the surface. My heart was racing by the crescendo!

Although the story is told from the three women’s points of view, there are 5 voices in total: Joan in her thirties in 1962 and elderly Joan in 2018, Diana as an 8-year old in 1962 and in her sixties in 2018, and 29 year old Lottie in 2018. Each voice is so distinct that I am sure that if I had opened the book at any page, I would have been able to identify which of the women was telling their story. That’s clever.

There is one character who I have to give a special mention to and that is Tom. For those who have read The Cornish House, this is the divine Old Tom as a 36 year old. He is just as delightful as a younger man and it was great to find out about his past. If you are yet to read The Cornish House, don’t worry. Not having met Tom as an older man will not spoil your enjoyment of The Path to the Sea at all. Liz has been very skilful here to make sure this works for all readers.

There is a depth to this story that is new to Liz’s writing. On the surface, this is a multi-generational love story. Underneath, it is a story of love, loss, guilt, acceptance, forgiveness, and the result of what happens when you choose one path over another. This coupled with the rich detail and research I mentioned earlier, really do show what a talented storyteller Liz Fenwick is.

What Liz Fenwick has achieved with The Path to the Sea is simply wonderful and I am in awe.

Where to find The Path to the Sea, with cover image of the book

The Path to the Sea was published by HQ, Harper Collins on 6 June 2019. It can be found at Amazon UK and on Goodreads.

About Liz Fenwick, with the cover image of The Path to the Sea
Author Liz Fenwick

Liz Fenwick, award-winning author, ex-pat expert, wife, mother of three, and dreamer turned doer, was born in Massachusetts, and at the age of twenty-six moved to London where she fell in love with an Englishman. After nine international moves, she now spends her time in Cornwall with her husband and her two mad cats, writing stories inspired by the beautiful Duchy.

Where to find Liz Fenwick, with a cover image of The Path to the Sea

You can find out more about Liz on her website at www.lizfenwick.com, connect with her on Twitter @liz_fenwick, visit her Facebook page @liz.fenwick.author and her Instagram @liz_fenwick

Follow the tour, with a cover image of The Path to the Sea

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

Blog tour poster for The Path to the Sea
Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · Kathleen McGurl · Review Copy · Reviews

Blog Tour, Review: The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl (@KathMcGurl) @HQDigitalUK @HQstories @rararesources

I am thrilled to be sharing my review of Kathleen McGurl’s latest novel The Forgotten Secret with you today.

Thank you to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part and to HQ, Harper Collins for sending me an e-copy of the book via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

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

~ Publisher’s Description ~

A country at war

It’s the summer of 1919 and Ellen O’Brien has her whole life ahead of her. Young, in love and leaving home for her first job, the future seems full of shining possibility. But war is brewing and before long Ellen and everyone around her are swept up by it. As Ireland is torn apart by the turmoil, Ellen finds herself facing the ultimate test of love and loyalty.

And a long-buried secret

A hundred years later and Clare Farrell has inherited a dilapidated old farmhouse in County Meath. Seizing the chance to escape her unhappy marriage she strikes out on her own for the first time, hoping the old building might also provide clues to her family’s shadowy history. As she sets out to put the place – and herself – back to rights, she stumbles across a long-forgotten hiding place, with a clue to a secret that has lain buried for decades.

For fans of Kate Morton and Gill Paul comes an unforgettable novel about two women fighting for independence.

~ My thoughts ~

I can’t believe I am only just reading Kathleen McGurl’s stories!! I am sure I say this every time I review a book by an author whose books I haven’t read before, but I can’t!

The Forgotten Secret has everything I love in a story: contemporary and historical fiction, a mystery, characters I can easily connect with, well researched, beautifully told.

The story is told as a dual time frame, set between 1919-1920 and the present day. In the historical thread, Kathleen McGurl pulls us into Ellen O’Brien’s life and the War of Irish Independence. I warmed to Ellen instantly and the love she has for her childhood sweetheart is beautiful. Ellen’s story was not easy to read at times and there were instances where I wanted to jump into the page to hug her.

In present day Ireland, we accompany Clare Farrell on her journey to independence from her broken marriage. Having inherited a run-down farmhouse from her uncle, she seizes the chance to leave her husband, Paul, and start a new life. Gosh, I hated Paul. Even after a week, he still hasn’t redeemed himself. Well done to Kathleen McGurl for a writing a character who provoked this emotion in me! I did however really like Clare and was championing her on to really make a new life for herself.

I do love it when a house throws up a mystery to be solved and the farmhouse in this story is no exception. I will say no more for the risk of spoiling the story so you will have to read The Forgotten Secret to find out more.

I love how Kathleen McGurl intertwines both women’s stories, answering questions raised in one era in the other, tying it all up nicely at the end.

I do love reading the acknowledgements at the end of a book. Often, the author will give us an insight into where the idea for the story came from. The seed for The Forgotten Secret was a small nugget of conversation which became this great story.

~ Where to find The Forgotten Secret ~

The Forgotten Secret was published as an eBook by HQ Digital, Harper Collins, in March 2019 and will be published in paperback in May 2019. It can be found at Amazon UK and on Goodreads.

~ About Kathleen McGurl ~

Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, UK, with her husband and elderly tabby cat. 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.

~ Where to find Kathleen McGurl ~

You can find out more about Kathleen on her website https://kathleenmcgurl.com/ and connect with her on Twitter @KathMcGurl, on Facebook @KathleenMcGurl, and on Instagram @kathleenmcgurl.

~ Follow the tour ~

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

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

Advanced Review Copy · Books · Fiona Harper · Recommended Reads · Review Copy · Reviews

Review: The Memory Collector by Fiona Harper (@FiHarper_Author) @HQStories @HarperCollinsUK

I am delighted to share with you my review of The Memory Collector by Fiona Harper.

Thank you to Fiona Harper for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Before I share my thoughts with you, here is what The Memory Collector is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

Heather Lucas lives her life through other people’s memories.

Heather doesn’t want to remember her childhood, not when her mother’s extreme hoarding cast her family life into disarray.

For Heather’s mother, every possession was intimately connected to a memory, so when Heather uncovers a secret about her past that could reveal why her mother never let anything go, she knows there’s only one place she’ll find answers – behind the locked door of her spare room, where the remains of her mother’s hoard lie hidden.

As Heather uncovers both objects and memories, will the truth set her free? Or will she discover she’s more like her mother than she ever thought possible?

~ My thoughts ~

Why am I only just discovering the delights of Fiona Harper’s writing? Fiona’s last book, The Other Us, has been sitting unread on my shelf for a year. Well that will shortly change because if it is anything like The Memory Collector, it will be brilliant!

The Memory Collector is a powerful and poignant story about mental illness, love, loss, hope and moving on.

The story starts with a young girl, her memory of a trip to the seaside and a red coat. It is a troubled memory rather than one of a nice day out and the reader instantly knows something isn’t quite right. The story then switches to the present day and we meet Heather Lucas in a situation that both Heather and the reader knows she shouldn’t be in. I just wanted to jump into the page and stop her. It’s not until we read further on, that we understand why Heather is in this situation to begin with.

In The Memory Collector, Fiona Harper explores the issue of extreme hoarding and the life-long impact that this can have not only on the hoarder themselves, but also on those around them. Fiona Harper cleverly tells Heather’s story and the impact of her mother’s hoarding over two time frames: ‘Then’ which is Heather’s childhood up until she was 16 and ‘Now’, the present day. The ‘Then’ chapters are based around a particular object which was significant in her mother’s hoarding and tells the memory which goes with it.  The ‘Now’ chapters belong to Heather and her journey of coming to terms with how her upbringing has shaped who she is today and the choices she makes. It is hard hitting at times but touching and uplifting too.

The Memory Collector is a beautiful story, sensitively told and I am so pleased I got the chance to read it. I cannot wait to explore more of Fiona Harper’s work.

~ Where to find The Memory Collector ~

The Memory Collector will be published by HQ, Harper Collins on 6th September 2018 and is available via the following links:

Goodreads            Amazon UK          Amazon US

~ About Fiona Harper ~

As a child, Fiona was constantly teased for two things: having her nose in a book and living in a dream world. Things haven’t changed much since then, but at least she’s found a career that puts her runaway imagination to use!

Fiona HarperFiona’s first book was published in 2006 and she now has twenty-five published books under her belt. She started her career writing heartfelt but humorous romances for Mills & Boon, then went on to writing romantic comedies for Harlequin/Mira and now writes uplifting stories about love, life and relationships for HQ, part of Harper Collins. She is a previous winner of the Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Scheme Award, and her most recent book, The Other Us, won a Romantic Novel Award (RoNA) in 2018.

Fiona lives in London with her husband and two teenage daughters (oh, the drama in her house!), and she loves good books, good films and anything cinnamon flavoured. She also can’t help herself if a good tune comes on and she’s near a dance floor – you have been warned!

Find out more at https://fionaharper.com, follow Fiona on Twitter @FiHarper_Author  and visit her Facebook page @FionaHarperBooks