A Week in Books · Adele Parks · Anstey Harris · Books · Cathy Kelly · Cecelia Ahern · Elizabeth Buchan · Elizabeth Macneal · Guildford Book Festival · Katherine Center · Lisa Jewell · Literary Lowdown · Richard Roper · Romantic Novelists Association · Stacey Halls · Tracy Chevalier

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 13 Oct 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, including the introduction of an ad-hoc section.

~ On the blog ~

Shelf Control

I took a break from Shelf Control this week. It’ll be back next week 🙂


The Familiars by Stacey Halls

On Monday, I shared my review for The Familiars by Stacey Halls. It’s a brilliant book!

~ On social media ~

For #ThrowbackThursday, I chose How to Walk Away by Katherine Center.


On Friday, I was chatting with author Rhoda Baxter over on the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA) blog. This was great fun to do! https://romanticnovelistsassociation.org/2019/10/sarah-swan-sarahs-vignettes-blog/

~ On my calendar ~

Adele Parks
Adele Parks

On Tuesday, I went to my local library to hear Sunday Times Bestselling Author, Adele Parks talk about her life, writing and her latest novel Lies, Lies, Lies. She also shared some top tips for any budding writers looking to get published. Adele is such a great speaker, I could listen to her stories for hours!


On Saturday, I went to Guildford Book Festival‘s Readers’ Day. With 7 authors, 1 host and books, books, books, it’s a mini festival in one day.

Tracy Chevalier chatting with Fanny Blake
Tracy Chevalier chatting with Fanny Blake

The day began with a brilliant opening session from Tracy Chevalier. She is a wonderful, fascinating speaker. She spoke with Fanny Blake (our fabulous host for the day) about her inspiration for her latest novel A Single Thread and treated us to a reading from the opening chapter. I am so looking forward to reading this book (find out what A Single Thread is about in the On my bookshelf section below).

From left to right: Fanny Blake, Lisa Jewell, Adele Parks
From left to right: Fanny Blake, Lisa Jewell, Adele Parks

The next session was over to the darker side of fiction and domestic noir with Lisa Jewell and Adele Parks. They both spoke about their latest novels The Family Upstairs and Lies, Lies, Lies and their contrasting writing processes.

From left to right: Fanny Blake, Elizabeth Macneal, Elizabeth Buchan
From left to right: Fanny Blake, Elizabeth Macneal, Elizabeth Buchan

After lunch, it was the turn of the two Elizabeths: Elizabeth Macneal and Elizabeth Buchan, to talk about their books The Doll Factory and The Museum of Broken Promises. I love that Elizabeth Macneal plans out her stories with the aid of a spreadsheet (I organise blog stuff with a spreadsheet!). Elizabeth Buchan shared some eye-opening snippets from her research trips to Berlin and Prague (settings for The Museum of Broken Promises).

From left to right: Fanny Blake, Richard Roper, Anstey Harris
From left to right: Fanny Blake, Richard Roper, Anstey Harris

The final session of the day had the audience laughing out loud. Richard Roper and Anstey Harris were the perfect duo to finish an awesome day with, chatting about their books Something to Live For and The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, their long journeys to publication and how the titles of both books changed for a US market.

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 5 books (4 of them signed) to my shelves this week!

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier

It is 1932, and the losses of the First World War are still keenly felt. Violet Speedwell, mourning for both her fiancé and her brother and regarded by society as a ‘surplus woman’ unlikely to marry, resolves to escape her suffocating mother and strike out alone.

A new life awaits her in Winchester. Yes, it is one of draughty boarding-houses and sidelong glances at her naked ring finger from younger colleagues; but it is also a life gleaming with independence and opportunity. Violet falls in with the broderers, a disparate group of women charged with embroidering kneelers for the Cathedral, and is soon entwined in their lives and their secrets. As the almost unthinkable threat of a second Great War appears on the horizon Violet collects a few secrets of her own that could just change everything…

The Museum of Broken Promises by Elizabeth Buchan

The Museum of Broken Promises by Elizabeth Buchan

Paris, today. The Museum of Broken Promises is a place of wonder and sadness, hope and loss. Every object in the museum has been donated – a cake tin, a wedding veil, a baby’s shoe. And each represent a moment of grief or terrible betrayal. The museum is a place where people come to speak to the ghosts of the past and, sometimes, to lay them to rest. Laure, the owner and curator, has also hidden artefacts from her own painful youth amongst the objects on display.

Prague, 1985. Recovering from the sudden death of her father, Laure flees to Prague. But life behind the Iron Curtain is a complex thing: drab and grey yet charged with danger. Laure cannot begin to comprehend the dark, political currents that run beneath the surface of this communist city. Until, that is, she meets a young dissident musician. Her love for him will have terrible and unforeseen consequences. It is only years later, having created the museum, that Laure can make finally face up to her past and celebrate the passionate love which has directed her life.

Something to Live For by Richard Roper

Something to Live For by Richard Roper

Sometimes you have to risk everything to find your something…

All Andrew wants is to be normal. He has the perfect wife and 2.4 children waiting at home for him after a long day. At least, that’s what he’s told people.

The truth is, his life isn’t exactly as people think and his little white lie is about to catch up with him.

Because in all Andrew’s efforts to fit in, he’s forgotten one important thing: how to really live. And maybe, it’s about time for him to start.

The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

Grace once had the beginnings of a promising musical career, but she hasn’t been able to play her cello publicly since a traumatic event at music college years ago. Since then, she’s built a quiet life for herself in her small English village, repairing instruments and nurturing her long- distance affair with David, the man who has helped her rebuild her life even as she puts her dreams of a family on hold until his children are old enough for him to leave his loveless marriage.

But when David saves the life of a woman in the Paris Metro, his resulting fame shines a light onto the real state of the relationship(s) in his life. Shattered, Grace hits rock bottom and abandons everything that has been important to her, including her dream of entering and winning the world’s most important violin-making competition. Her closest friends–a charming elderly violinist with a secret love affair of his own, and her store clerk, a gifted but angst-ridden teenage girl–step in to help, but will their friendship be enough to help her pick up the pieces?


I treated myself to Postscript by Cecelia Ahern. It is the sequel to P.S. I Love You and I am intrigued to find out what happens next.

Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life.

She’s proud of all the ways in which she has grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind.

Reluctantly, Holly begins a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of these people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever…

~ On my bedside table ~

The Family Gift by Cathy Kelly

I’m currently reading The Family Gift by Cathy Kelly ahead of my stop on the blog tour on 23rd October.


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 · Anne Griffin · Books · Claire Dyer · fiction · Katherine Center · Kerry Fisher · Lisa Jewell · Literary Lowdown · Liz Fenwick · Shelf Control · Stacey Halls

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 29/01/2019

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 a book from my digital bookshelf: The Island Escape by Kerry Fisher. How inviting is the cover!

The Island  Escape by Kerry Fisher

~ On social media ~

On Friday, I shared my top 3 reads from 2018 as part of the R3COMM3ND3D2018 feature at demppebbles.com. This was a difficult choice as I read many good books last year but these 3 really stood out for me:

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 2 fiction books to my shelves this week.

The Foundling by Stacey Halls

On Thursday, I went to a Proof Party for The Foundling by Stacey Halls. Hosted by Zaffre Books at the beautiful Brunswick House, the event was for bloggers, press, booksellers to celebrate Stacey’s second novel that comes out in February 2020 and to pick up a review (proof) copy of the book.

Brunswick House

The Foundling is set in Georgian times so the venue was perfect – Brunswick House is a Georgian mansion – and there was a silhouette artist, cutting out our profiles. Silhouettes were given to loved ones back in that period as a momento. There was also a beautifully decorated table with it’s own light, ideal for our instagram worthy photos from the night.

Silhouetter
The Shadow Cutter
The Shadow Cutter
Book blogger at work
Photo courtesy of Evdokia at Velvet Reads Books

Stacey Halls gave a lovely speech, telling us about how The Foundling came to be and she read from the first chapter – it’s going to be good!! There was also a quick introduction from The Foundling Museum, where the book is set – the museum is well worth a visit.

Stacey Halls

The Foundling by Stacey Halls

The Foundling by Stacey Halls

London, 1754.

Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst – that Clara has died in care – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed – by her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why. Less than a mile from Bess’ lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

From the bestselling author of The Familiars, and set against the vibrant backdrop of Georgian London, The Foundling explores families, secrets, class, equality, power and the meaning of motherhood.

The Foundling by Stacey Halls

I treated myself to a copy of When All is Said by Anne Griffin this weekend. I’ve heard lots of good things about this story and it sounds like my kind of read.

When All is Said by Anne Griffin

When All is Said by Anne Griffin

‘I’m here to remember – all that I have been and all that I will never be again.’

At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual -though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.

Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories – of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice – the life of one man will be powerfully and poignantly laid bare.

Heart-breaking and heart-warming all at once, the voice of Maurice Hannigan will stay with you long after all is said.

~ On my bedside table ~

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

I finished The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell – excellent read. I’m now back to The Familiars by Stacey Halls and I cannot put it down!


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 · Ali Pantony · Anna Hope · Books · Carol Drinkwater · Claire Dyer · Fiona Harper · Katherine Center · Linn B. Halton · Lisa Jewell · Literary Lowdown · Liz Fenwick · Malorie Blackman · Mary Beth Keane · Non-Fiction · Rachael English · Rachel Rhys · Rowan Coleman · Shelf Control · Stacey Halls · Tom Mole · Victoria Hislop

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 08/09/2019

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. Lots of things happened this week!!

~ On the blog ~

Shelf Control

On Friday, 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 Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys.

Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys

~ On social media ~

For #ThrowbackThursday, I shared the link to my review for The American Girl by Rachael English. I don’t know what it is about the works of Irish writers but there is something so comfortable and familiar about their writing that make them natural storytellers, and Rachael English is one of them.

On Friday, #NationalReadABookDay was trending on Twitter so I shared some of my favourite authors whose books I’ve read and reviewed on here.

Rowan Coleman ~ Liz Fenwick ~ Carol Drinkwater ~ Claire Dyer ~ Linn B. Halton ~ Rachael English ~ Katherine Center ~ Ali Pantony ~ Fiona Harper ~ Victoria Hislop

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 5 books to my shelf this week.

On Wednesday, I received a copy of The Secret Life of Books by Tom Mole from the fab team at Elliott & Thompson, due to be published on 19th September. I enjoy reading any non-fiction books on the subjects of language, linguistics and books so I think this one will be right up my street!

The Secret Life of Books by Tom Mole

The Secret Life of Books by Tom Mole

We love books. We take them to bed with us. They weigh down our suitcases when we go on holiday. We display them on our bookshelves or store them in our attics. We give them as gifts. We write our names in them. We take them for granted. And all the time, our books are leading a double life.

The Secret Life of Books is about everything that isn’t just the words. It’s about how books transform us as individuals. It’s about how books – and readers – have evolved over time. And it’s about why, even with the arrival of other media, books still have the power to change our lives.

In this illuminating account, Tom Mole looks at everything from binding innovations to binding errors, to books defaced by lovers, to those imprisoning professors in their offices, to books in art, to burned books, to the books that create nations, to those we’ll leave behind.

It will change how you think about books.


On Thursday night, I went to an author event at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road. Mary Beth Keane and Anna Hope were talking about their latest books Ask Again, Yes and Expectation with Alison Barrow from Penguin Random House.

I love hearing the stories behind the story – how the book came to be what it is. I read and reviewed Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane for the blog tour so I was intrigued to find out more about it. Expectation by Anna Hope sounds brilliant and I made the good mistake of reading the first page on the train home – wow, the writing. I was drawn in from the first sentence!!

I bumped into Nina Pottell, Books Editor from PRIMA magazine and Leilah Skelton from Little Tiger whilst I was there.

Alison Barrow, Mary Beth Keane and Anna Hope
From left to right: Alison Barrow, Mary Beth Keane, Anna Hope

Me with Nina Pottell, Books Editor from Prima magazine
Me with Nina Pottell

Expectation by Anna Hope

A contemporary feminist take on the pursuit of happiness: three women think they can have it all. Until they realise that even having some of it can be a challenge.

Love, children, career – modern women are expected to have all three. But what must they sacrifice to win any of them, and how much heartache must be endured? Three life-long friends are about to find out.

Can Hannah, a successful career woman with a caring husband have the baby she longs for?

Will Cate, a thoughtful, loving wife and mother ever recover her intellectual life and independence?

Lissa is charismatic, beautiful and unconventional. She chose a life of fulfilment in the theatre over settled domesticity – but will it ever really materialise?

Anna Hope’s fierce and compelling novel of friendship and the pressure to succeed as a woman takes three lives and asks, what does it really take to make us happy?


When I was 15, I borrowed a copy of Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman from my school library. I devoured it and was blown away by it. It was so ahead of it’s time. 17 years later, Crossfire , the sequel to Noughts & Crosses , is out and I found a signed copy of it in Waterstones Guildford yesterday.

Crossfire by Malorie Blackman

Thirty-four years have passed since Sephy Hadley – a Cross – first met Callum McGregor – a nought. Their love was forbidden, powerful – and deadly.

Life is seemingly very different now for noughts and Crosses – including for Sephy and Callum’s families. But old wounds from the past are hard to heal, and when you’re playing a game as dangerous as they are, it won’t be long before someone gets caught in the crossfire.


Me with Adele Parks
Me with Adele Parks

Whilst I was waiting in the queue to pay for Crossfire , I bumped into Adele Parks! She had popped into the shop to sign copies of her latest novel Lies, Lies, Lies , which was published on Thursday.

Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks

Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks

Daisy and Simon’s marriage is great, isn’t it? After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. A happy little family of three. And so what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes – Daisy’s used to it, she knows he’s letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And that happy little family of three will never be the same again.

In Lies Lies Lies, Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks explores the darkest corners of a relationship in freefall in a mesmerising tale of marriage and secrets.


I also bought a copy of The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell. Lisa is one of the speakers at Guildford Book Festival’s Readers’ Day next month and I wanted to try to read it before the event.

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.

In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.

They’ve been dead for several days.

Who has been looking after the baby?

And where did they go?

Two entangled families.
A house with the darkest of secrets.
A compulsive new thriller from Lisa Jewell.

~ On my bedside table ~

I’m reading The Familiars by Stacey Halls at the moment. The story is set in the 1600s, which is not a period in history I usually read or know much about. It’s an intriguing story!


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!

Books · Katherine Center · Recommended Reads · Reviews · The Riviera Woman

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center (@katherinecenter) @panmacmillan ~ 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 September, I have chosen How to Walk Away by Katherine Center. You can read my review here.

How_to_Walk_Away

 

Books · Katherine Center · Recommended Reads · Review Copy · Reviews

Review: How to Walk Away by Katherine Center (@katherinecenter) @panmacmillan

I am delighted to share with you my review of How to Walk Away by Katherine Center.

Thank you to Ellis Keene at Pan Macmillan for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Before I share my thoughts with you, here is what How to Walk Away is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

Maggie Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked so hard and so long for: her dream job, a fiancé she adores and the promise of a perfect life just around the corner. But on what should have been the happiest day of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a single catastrophic moment.

In hospital Maggie is forced to confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Charlie, wallowing in self-pity while demanding forgiveness. Then there’s her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally there’s Iain, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Iain, who won’t let her give in to her despair, who makes her cry, but also manages to make her laugh . . .

Maggie’s new life is nothing like she expected. But could it be more than she had ever dared hope for?

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center is an uplifting story of learning to live – and love – again.

~ My thoughts ~

Wow!! What a book!! How to Walk Away is one of the best books I have read this year and it absolutely blew me away. I don’t think there is anything I can say in this review that will do it the justice it deserves but I will do my best.

Firstly, I must mention how simple yet powerful the cover is. It really does sum up how fragile life is and how it can be turned upside down in an instant. As the blurb says, Maggie has it all: a dream job, a great fiancé, the promise of the perfect future ahead. One moment completely changes the course of Maggie’s life and How to Walk Away is the story of the aftermath of this incident and how it affects Maggie, her family and her fiancé.

When starting a new book, I give it 50 pages to draw me in and make me want to keep reading. Well, How to Walk Away captivated me from the first page and I arrived so quickly at page 50 because I did not want to put it down. I could have easily read it in one sitting. Katherine Center has a style of writing which made me feel so comfortable and at ease that I was right there in the story, accompanying Maggie on her journey.

In her novel, Katherine Center explores numerous emotions including love, sadness, grief, resilience, resentment, learning to be someone new, seeing the world and those around you differently. She does this in such a way that we, as readers, do not have time to linger in the feeling of the emotion before moving onto the next one, mirroring how Maggie is feeling them.

How to Walk Away is a wonderful, life-affirming book. I finished it with a heart full of joy and hope and the biggest smile on my face.

This quote from Nina George, author of The Little Paris Bookshop, on the back cover sums it up perfectly: ‘If you read just one book this year, read How to Walk Away.

~ Where to find How to Walk Away ~

How to Walk Away was published in the UK by Pan Macmillan on 9th August 2018 and is available at the following links:

Goodreads            Amazon UK          Amazon US

~ About Katherine Center ~

New York Times best-selling writer Katherine Center writes bittersweet comic novels Katherine Centerabout how we get back up after life has knocked us down. She writes about hope, and love, and how we hold onto life’s joys, even in the midst of all its hardship.  Katherine is the author of six novels, with more on the way. Her fourth novel, The Lost Husband, was recently optioned for a movie.

Find out more at http://katherinecenter.com/, follow Katherine on Twitter @katherinecenter  and visit her Facebook page @katherinecenterfans