A Week in Books · Books · Charlotte Collins · Emily Gunnis · Karen Swan · Literary Lowdown · Lucy Coleman · Nino Haratischvili · Ruth Martin · Salley Vickers

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 24 November 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 ~

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

Wednesday was my stop on the blog tour for Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman. This is a book with a big heart and I loved it!

~ On social media ~

For #FlashbackFriday, I chose The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis.

~ On my calendar ~

Karen Swan

On Wednesday, I went to An Evening with author Karen Swan at Hobbs in Covent Garden, London. Karen spoke about her writing, research and answered our questions. She also treated us to a couple of readings from her latest novel The Christmas Party. We all had the opportunity to get our books signed and chat with Karen individually. It was a fun night!

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 3 books to my bookshelf this week.

The Christmas Party by Karen Swan

The Christmas Party by Karen Swan

When Declan Lorne, the last remaining knight in Ireland, dies suddenly, an ancient title passes with him. But his estate on Ireland’s rugged south-west coast is left to his three daughters. The two eldest, Ottie and Pip, inherit in line with expectations, but to everyone’s surprise – and dismay – it is the errant baby of the family, Willow, who gets the castle.

Why her? Something unknown – something terrible – made her turn her back on her family three years earlier, escaping to Dublin and vowing never to return. So when Willow quickly announces she is selling up, her revenge seems sweet and the once-close sisters are pushed to breaking point: in desperation, Pip risks everything to secure her own future, and Ottie makes a decision that will ruin lives. It’s each woman for herself.

Before moving in, Connor Shaye, the prospective new owner, negotiates throwing a lavish party at the castle just days before Christmas – his hello, their goodbye. But as their secrets begin to catch up with them, Ottie, Willow and Pip are forced to ask themselves which is harder: stepping into the future, or letting go of the past?


Grandmothers by Salley Vickers

Grandmothers by Salley Vickers

Grandmothers is the story of three very different women and their relationship with the younger generation: fiercely independent Nan, who leads a secret life as an award-winning poet when she is not teaching her grandson Billy how to lie; glamorous Blanche, deprived of the company of her beloved granddaughter Kitty by her hostile daughter-in-law, who finds solace in rebelliously taking to drink and shop lifting; and shy, bookish Minna who in the safety of shepherd’s hut shares with her surrogate granddaughter Rose her passion for reading. The outlook of all three women subtly alters when through their encounters with each other they discover that the past is always with us and that we go on learning and changing until the very end.

Grandmothers is a beautifully observed, sometimes subversive, often tender and elegiac novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Librarian.


The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili (translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin)

The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili (translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin)

Six romances, one revolution, the story of the century.

‘That night Stasia took an oath, swearing to learn the recipe by heart and destroy the paper. And when she was lying in her bed again, recalling the taste with all her senses, she was sure that this secret recipe could heal wounds, avert catastrophes, and bring people happiness. But she was wrong.’

At the start of the twentieth century, on the edge of the Russian Empire, a family prospers. It owes its success to a delicious chocolate recipe, passed down the generations with great solemnity and caution. A caution which is justified: this is a recipe for ecstasy that carries a very bitter aftertaste …

Stasia learns it from her Georgian father and takes it north, following her new husband, Simon, to his posting at the centre of the Russian Revolution in St Petersburg. Stasia’s is only the first in a symphony of grand but all too often doomed romances that swirl from sweet to sour in this epic tale of the red century.

Tumbling down the years, and across vast expanses of longing and loss, generation after generation of this compelling family hears echoes and sees reflections. Great characters and greater relationships come and go and come again; the world shakes, and shakes some more, and the reader rejoices to have found at last one of those glorious old books in which you can live and learn, be lost and found, and make indelible new friends.

~ On my bedside table ~

When Stars Will Shine: Helping our Heroes One Page at a Time, compiled by Emma Mitchell

I’m finishing off the final few stories in When Stars Will Shine, compiled by Emma Mitchell. I’ll be sharing my review of this great collection on 10th December.


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

Until next week, happy reading!

Blog Tours · Books · Christmas · Giveaway · Lucy Coleman · Reviews

A Sarah’s Vignettes Book Review: Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman (@LucyColemanauth) ~ @Aria_Fiction ~ @rararesources #BlogTour #Giveaway

Welcome to Sarah’s Vignettes stop on the blog tour for Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman.

Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part and to Aria Fiction for a digital copy of the book.

I am thrilled to be involved with this tour. I have my review to share with you and there is also a chance for you to win a paperback book by Lucy Coleman and a pamper gift set. But first, here is a taster of what Magic Under the Mistletoe is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

Christmas and romance are in the air…

It’s December 23rd and while everyone else is rushing home for the holidays, workaholic Leesa Oliver is dreading switching on her out-of-office for the festive season. And it seems her equally driven boss, Cary Anderson, isn’t relishing spending Christmas at his family’s country estate either.

So together, they draft an unexpected Christmas contract: They’ll spend half of the holidays with each other’s families, pretending to be a couple. Leesa knows the insufferably good-looking Cary will make her Christmas more bearable, but what happens after the last of the mince pies have been eaten…?

Leesa signed off on a sensible business agreement, but somewhere, amongst the fairy lights and carols something seems to have changed… It seems there might just be some magic under the mistletoe this Christmas!

~ My thoughts ~

When the invite to take part in this tour popped into my inbox, I didn’t even need to read the blurb to know I wanted to take part. Knowing it was a book written by one of my favourite authors was enough for me. I have previously read and loved The Secrets of Villa Rosso and A Greek Affair by Linn B. Halton so I knew that a book written under her pen name Lucy Coleman would be right for me. And it was!

Magic Under the Mistletoe is an enjoyable, romantic story to curl up with and get lost in for an afternoon. When we first meet Leesa, she is on a flight back home from Australia after completing a work project for Cary Anderson. Heavy snow fall means Leesa gets stranded and Cary comes to her rescue. Neither of them are looking forward to Christmas because of reasons that become clear as the story progresses. They both think that a business style agreement will get them through.

This is far from a fairy tale love story and it goes a lot deeper than I was expecting. It looks at second chances, fate, heartbreak and it pulled on my heart strings on several occasions. At one point, I had to hold back the tears as I was reading it on a train!

Whether she is writing as Lucy Coleman or Linn B.Halton, Lucy Coleman’s writing touches me in a way no other author’s does. I have such an emotional connection with her female protagonists and her writing. There are even phrases here and there that just get me!

As I would expect from this author, the writing flows effortlessly and the description is immersive. I was captivated from the first page until the beautiful final line. I am sure books that are easy for us readers to engage with are not easy to write. The more stories I read and review, the more I appreciate how much time, energy and life goes into those pages to give readers this kind of experience.

Magic Under the Mistletoe is a story with a big heart and I loved every bit of it. I cannot wait for another story!

~ Where to find Magic Under the Mistletoe ~

Magic Under the Mistletoe was published in the UK by Aria Fiction on 5 September 2019. It can be found in all good bookshops, on Amazon UK and on Goodreads.

~ Giveaway ~

To enter to win a signed paperback copy of Snowflakes Over Holly Cover by Lucy Coleman and a Christmas Pamper Pack, click on the button below 🙂

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  Sarah’s Vignettes is not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

~ About Lucy Coleman ~

From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus) and Harper Impulse (Harper Collins); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. She writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

W: https://linnbhalton.co.uk/ ~ T: @LucyColemanAuth ~ T: @LinnBHalton ~ F: @LucyColemanAuthor

~ Follow the tour ~

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

A Week in Books · Alena Graedon · Alis Hawkins · Books · Emma Mitchell · Lucy Coleman · Shelf Control

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 10 November 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, Bookshelf Fantasies

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.

For this week’s post, I chose The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon.

~ On social media ~

For #ThrowbackThursday, I chose None So Blind by Alis Hawkins. The tweet below says it all!

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 1 book to my digital bookshelf this week for an upcoming blog tour.

Emma Mitchell, from Creating Perfection, has compiled a multi-genre collection of Christmas themed short stories to raise money for our armed forces and every penny made from the sales of both the digital and paperback copies will be donated to the charity. I am thrilled be part of the blog tour and I cannot wait to read the stories.

When Starts Will Shine, compiled by Emma Mitchell

When Starts Will Shine is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist.

With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.

From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, you are in for one heck of a ride!

When Starts Will Shine is due to be published by Creating Perfection on 9 December 2019. You can pre-order your copy on Amazon UK.

~ On my bedside table ~

Magic Under the Mistletoe

I’m still reading Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman. I find that I read slower when I’ve had a really busy week, like this week. It’s a great book and goes deeper than I’d anticipated.


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 · Audio book · Books · Literary Lowdown · Lucy Coleman · Sarah-Jane Statford · Shelf Control · Sue Haasler

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 3 November 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, Bookshelf Fantasies

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.

For this post, I chose Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford

~ On social media ~

For #ThrowbackThursday, I chose Half a World Away by Sue Haasler. When I started reading it, I sat down to only read a few pages and 50 pages in, I looked up at the clock. It’s a good read!


On Friday night, I joined Julie Morris for a drink and chat over on her blog A Little Book Problem. We talked about books, blogging, travel, hangover cures and lots more. It was great fun!

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 1 book to my audio bookshelf this week. I haven’t listened to an audiobook in a while but this one really caught my eye. It’ll be a good one to listen to on the commute.

Last Christmas, curated and introduced by Greg Wise and Emma Thompson (released 31 October 2019)

Last Christmas, curated and introduced by Greg Wise & Emma Thompson

The perfect gift book, featuring the writing of Meryl Streep, Bill Bailey, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Colman, Caitlin Moran, Richard Ayoade, Emily Watson and others, to coincide with the upcoming movie Last Christmas, starring Emma Thompson, Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding. 

When you think back to Christmases past, what (if anything) made it magical? Looking towards the future, what would your perfect Christmas be? What would you change? What should we all change? 

This is a beautiful, funny and soulful collection of personal essays about the meaning of Christmas, written by a unique plethora of voices from the boulevards of Hollywood to the soup kitchens of Covent Garden. 

Away from the John Lewis advert, the high street decorations and the candied orange in Heston Blumenthal’s Christmas pudding, this gem of a book introduced and curated by Emma Thompson and Greg Wise celebrates the importance of kindness and generosity, acceptance and tolerance – and shows us that these values are not just for Christmas. 

25p of the proceeds received by Quercus from each audiobook sold will be donated to Crisis and The Refugee Council.

Crisis is a registered charity in the UK with charity nos. W1082947 (England/Wales) and SC040094 (Scotland). Refugee Council is a registered charity in the UK with charity no. 1014576.

©2019 Greg Wise and Emma Thompson (P)2019 Quercus Editions Limited

~ On my bedside table ~

Magic Under the Mistletoe

I’m currently reading Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman for the blog tour. It’s really getting me into the Christmas spirit and I can’t wait to share my review with you here on 20th November.


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 · Advanced Review Copy · Anna McPartlin · Books · Cathy Kelly · Crime · fiction · Fran Cooper · Literary Lowdown · Lucy Coleman

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 27 October 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 Family Gift by Cathy Kelly

On Wednesday, it was my stop on the blog tour for The Family Gift, Cathy Kelly’s 20th novel. It’s the first book by Cathy Kelly I’ve read and I really enjoyed it. You can read my review here.

~ On social media ~

For #ThrowbackThursday, I chose The Crime Writers Association Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour. It’s well worth a read, especially if you’re looking for a taster of crime fiction.

~ On my bookshelf ~

I’ve added 2 books to my digital bookshelf this week. Both of these books are proof copies for blog tours happening in November 2019 and April 2020.

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman (published 5 September 2019)

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

Christmas and romance are in the air…

It’s December 23rd and while everyone else is rushing home for the holidays, workaholic Leesa Oliver is dreading switching on her out-of-office for the festive season. And it seems her equally driven boss, Cary Anderson, isn’t relishing spending Christmas at his family’s country estate either.

So together, they draft an unexpected Christmas contract: They’ll spend half of the holidays with each other’s families, pretending to be a couple. Leesa knows the insufferably good-looking Cary will make her Christmas more bearable, but what happens after the last of the mince pies have been eaten…?

Leesa signed off on a sensible business agreement, but somewhere, amongst the fairy lights and carols something seems to have changed… It seems there might just be some magic under the mistletoe this Christmas!


If you’ve read The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin, the sequel is out next year. I loved Rabbit Hayes and I am looking forward to finding out how the Hayes family are in Below the Big Blue Sky.

Below the Big Blue Sky by Anna McPartlin (pub: April 2020)

Below the Big Blue Sky by Anna McPartlin

From the bestselling author of The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes comes a huge-hearted novel about death, family and finding laughter in the most bloody mental places.

When forty-year-old Rabbit Hayes dies, she leaves behind a family broken by grief. Her mother Molly is distraught and in danger of losing her faith. Her father Jack spends hour upon hour in the family attic, poring over his old diaries, losing himself in the past. 

Rabbit’s brother Davey finds himself suddenly guardian to her twelve-year-old daughter Juliet. Juliet might be able to fill a hole in Davey’s heart – but how can he help Juliet through her grief when he can barely cope with his own? 

Meanwhile, Rabbit’s sister Grace is struggling with the knowledge that she carries the same gene that made her sister ill, and Rabbit’s best friend Marjorie is lost, struggling to remain a part of a family she has always wished was her own now that her link to them is gone.

But even though the Hayes family are all fighting their own battles, they are drawn together by their love for Rabbit, and their love for each other. In the years that follow her death they find new ways to celebrate and remember her, to find humour and hope in the face of tragedy, and to live life to its fullest, as Rabbit would have wanted.

Below the Big Blue Sky will make you laugh, cry and shout with joy for the colourful, unruly Hayes family as they battle with the loss of their beloved Rabbit, the daughter, mother, sister and friend, who in her own crazy way taught each of them how to live, and goes on showing them how to love from beyond the grave.

~ On my bedside table ~

These Dividing Walls by Fran Cooper

I’m currently reading These Dividing Walls by Fran Cooper. I’ve wanted to read it ever since it was published in 2017. It’s set in an apartment block in Paris and follows the lives of its residents over a very hot summer. I’m really enjoying it.


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!