A Week in Books · Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · Charlie Mackesy · Emma Mitchell · Liz Fenwick · Megan Angelo

Sarah's Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 15 December 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 ~

When Stars Will Shine: Helping our Heroes One Page at a Time

On Tuesday, it was a real pleasure to share my review for When Stars Will Shine collated by Emma Mitchell. This is a wonderful collection of short stories with all proceeds from sales going to the Help the Heroes charity. With stories that will touch your heart, some Christmas crime, and love stories, there is something for everyone.

~ On social media ~

For #ThrowbackThursday, I looked back on my review of The Returning Tide by Liz Fenwick.

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 1 signed book to my bookshelf this week.

Whilst out and about in London this Friday, I popped into Gallery Different on Percy Street to have a look around the Charley Mackesy Exhibition. They were showing artworks and drawings from his beautiful book: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse . I was very lucky to meet Charley and he signed a copy of my book and included a couple of doodles!

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

A book of hope for uncertain times.

Enter the world of Charlie’s four unlikely friends, discover their story and their most important life lessons.

The conversations of the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse have been shared thousands of times online, recreated in school art classes, hung on hospital walls and turned into tattoos. In Charlie’s first book, you will find his most-loved illustrations and some new ones too.

~ On my bedside table ~

Followers by Megan Angelo

I’m reading Followers by Megan Angelo. It’s set between 2015 and 2051 and, as the title suggests, it revolves around social media and followings. It is a good read and interesting to see what the 2051 digital world might have in store for us!


What books 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 · Books · Carol Drinkwater · Charlotte Mosley · Emma Mitchell · fiction · Kate McQuaile · Literary Lowdown · Non-Fiction · Shelf Control

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 17 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 Without a Word by Kate McQuaile.

~ On social media ~

For #ThrowbackThursday, I chose The Lost Girl by Carol Drinkwater. The tweet below says it all!

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 1 book to my bookshelf this week. I think my bookshelf might groan under the weight though as it’s 842 pages and in hardback.

An impromptu visit to Nymans (National Trust) this weekend, led to a mooch around their second-hand books shed. Of course, I couldn’t leave empty handed and this book stood out for me.

The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters, edited by Charlotte Mosley

Carefree, revelatory and intimate, this selection of unpublished letters between the six legendary Mitford sisters, compiled by Diana Mitford’s daughter-in-law, is alive with wit, passion and heartbreak.

The letters chronicle the social quirks and political upheavals of the twentieth century but also chart the stormy, enduring relationships between the uniquely gifted – and collectively notorious – Mitford sisters. There’s Nancy, the scalding wit and bestselling novelist; Pamela, who craved a quiet country life; Diana, the fascist wife of Sir Oswald Mosley; Unity, whose obsession with Adolf Hitler led to personal tragedy; Jessica, the runaway communist; and Deborah, the socialite who became Duchess of Devonshire.

Writing to one another to confide, tease, rage and gossip, the Mitford sisters set out, above all, to amuse. A correspondence of this scope is rare; a collection penned by six born storytellers is irreplaceable.

~ On my bedside table ~

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

I’m reading When Stars Will Shine, compiled by Emma Mitchell, ahead of my stop next month on the blog tour. I love reading short stories and the ones I have read so far in this collection are great.


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!

Books · Non-Fiction · Shelf Control · Tom Michell

Shelf Control: The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell

Shelf Control ~ Bookshelf Fantasies

Shelf Control is a meme run by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies.  It is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves.  Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.


I love this idea of celebrating books on our book shelves that have been published for a while and we are yet to discover. I’m not choosing in any particular order. I’m just perusing my shelves and seeing what stands out for me at that moment.

This week, I have chosen a non-fiction book:

The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell

The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell.

This edition was published in the UK by Penguin Books in 2016.

~ What it’s about ~

Tom Michell is in his roaring twenties: single, free-spirited and seeking adventure. He has a plane ticket to South America, a teaching position in a prestigious Argentine boarding school, and endless summer holidays. He even has a motorbike, Che Guevara style. What he doesn’t need is a pet. What he really doesn’t need is a pet penguin.

Set against Argentina’s turbulent years following the collapse of the corrupt Perónist regime, this is the heart-warming story of Juan Salvador the penguin, rescued by Tom from an oil slick in Uruguay just days before a new term. When the bird refuses to leave Tom’s side, the young teacher has no choice but to smuggle it across the border, through customs, and back to school. Whether it’s as the rugby team’s mascot, the housekeeper’s confidant, the host at Tom’s parties or the most flamboyant swimming coach in world history, Juan Salvador transforms the lives of all he meets – in particular one homesick school boy. And as for Tom, he discovers in Juan Salvador a compadre like no other…

~ When I added it to my book shelf ~

I bought this book after it was featured on the BBC Radio 2 Book Club.

~ Why I want to read it ~

Oh that description coupled with the cute book cover makes me feel all warm and fuzzy! This sounds such a charming and delightful story and there’s something beautiful about a special relationship between a human and an animal.

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!

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 · 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
Books · bookstagram · Thora Karitas Arnadottir

Bookstagram Tour: And the Swans Began to Sing by Thora Karitas Arnadottir (@ThoraKaritas) @Wildpressed @LoveBooksGroup

I’m excited to be taking part in another Love Books Group bookstagram tour over on Instagram. Thank you to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group for inviting me to take part and to Wild Pressed Books for sending me a copy of the book.

For each day of the tour, a creative photo featuring a physical copy of the book is posted by a bookstagrammer on Instagram and a copy of the book blurb is included in the post’s description. 

Today’s post is for a non-fiction book called And the Swans Began to Sing by Icelandic author Thora Karitas Arnadottir.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

The swans on the lake began to sing. It was singing so loud they were almost screaming as if they were encouraging me to release what I had been keeping inside for so long.

Gudbjorg Thorisdottir has been hiding from the ghost of an ugly secret for most of her life. When she finally faces the truth of what happened in her childhood, the ghost floats away. Painting an evocative picture of life in Iceland, this is the story of a little girl who didn’t know how unnatural it was to experience both heaven and hell in the same house.

~ About Thora Karitas Arnadottir ~

Thora Karitas Arnadottir studied drama in the UK and has worked as an actress for most of her life, appearing on stage, in films and on television. And the Swans Began to Sing is the English translation of her creative nonfiction Mörk – saga mömmu, which was nominated for the Icelandic Woman’s Literary prize in 2016. Thora is currently working on her first novel, which will be released in Iceland in 2019

~ The Cover ~

I adore this cover which is so subtle but yet I already feel that it describes the book perfectly! Do head on over to Instagram using the button below to check it out fully. Even if you do not have an Instagram account, you should still be able to view the photo.