Advanced Review Copy · Books · fiction · Kate McQuaile · Shelf Control

Shelf Control at Sarah’s Vignettes: Without a Word by Kate McQuaile

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:

Without a Word by Kate McQuaile

It was published in the UK by Quercus in October 2017.

~ What it’s about ~

I was there when it happened. I watched her disappear.

An emotional psychological drama from the author of the critically acclaimed novel What She Never Told Me.

Lillian had phoned telling her to get Skype up and running. ‘I have so much to tell you’. Lillian was wearing a white bathrobe and she was in for the evening. Then, suddenly, the knock on the door. ‘Sorry Orla, I’d better see who it is’ she said, getting up from the sofa. Orla waited. But the seconds became minutes. She didn’t know how long she waited before she realised that something terrible had happened.

For more than a decade, Lillian’s mysterious disappearance has remained unsolved, and Orla has found it impossible to move on. Then she receives an unexpected visit from Ned Moynihan, the Dublin detective who led the original investigation into Lillian’s vanishing. Moynihan has been receiving anonymous notes accusing him of having failed to investigate the case properly. He assumes the notes are coming from Orla. Yet Orla knows nothing of these letters – is somebody trying to tell them the truth about what really happened to Lillian that night?

~ When I added it to my book shelf ~

I won this proof copy of Without a Word after Quercus ran a competition on their Twitter page in December 2017.

~ Why I want to read it ~

Without a Word sounds like an engaging, absorbing page turner of a thriller! I remember hearing a lot of good things about it at the time too.

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 · Blog Tours · Book Post · Books · Cathy Kelly · fiction · Giveaway · Hans Fallada · Kathleen McGurl · Linn B. Halton · Literary Lowdown · Lucy Foley · Rosanna Ley · Rowan Coleman · Stacey Halls · Sylvia Day

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 1/09/2019

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

~ On the blog ~

The Stationmaster's Daughter by Kathleen McGurl

On Monday, I shared my review for The Stationmaster’s Daughter by Kathleen McGurl, as part of the blog tour. It’s a poignant story set between 1936 and present day. I love a time slip novel!


Shelf Control

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

This week, I chose Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley.

Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley

On Friday, it was Sarah’s Vignettes stop on the blog tour for Butterfly in Frost, the latest novel by Sylvia Day. I didn’t have time to read this one for a review so I hosted a giveaway to win a copy of the book.

Butterfly in Frost by Sylvia Day

~ On social media ~

Last weekend, author Rowan Coleman asked readers who had reviewed her latest novel The Girl at the Window if they would be brave enough to film a few words to be included in a promotion video for social media. I and a few others summoned up the courage and did it. Here’s the final version:


For #ThrowbackThursday, I shared the link to my review for The Secrets of Villa Rosso by Linn B. Halton. This is a great story and Linn has a way of writing characters that I connect deeply with.

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 3 books to my shelf this week.

In October, I am taking part in the blog tour for Cathy Kelly’s 20th novel, The Family Gift . On Tuesday, I received a little gift from Orion: a proof copy of the book and a some chocolate.

The Family Gift by Cathy Kelly

The Family Gift by Cathy Kelly

The Family Gift by Cathy Kelly

Freya Abalone has a big, messy, wonderful family, a fantastic career, and a new house.

But that’s on the outside.

On the inside, she’s got Mildred – the name she’s given to that nagging inner critic who tells us all we’re not good enough.

And now Freya’s beloved blended family is under threat. Dan’s first wife Elisa, the glamorous, manipulative woman who happily abandoned her daughter to Freya and Dan’s care and left the country, has elbowed her way back into their lives.

But Freya knows that when life gives you lemons, you throw them right back.

Can Freya put her family – and herself – back together? Find out in Cathy Kelly’s warmest, wisest and funniest book yet…


I may have been lured into my local Waterstones yesterday – it doesn’t take much at all!! I bought a gorgeous hardback copy of The Familiars by Stacey Halls and another of Penguins Modern Classics to add to my growing collection : Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada.

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

In a time of suspicion and accusation, to be a woman is the greatest risk of all . . .

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn’t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.

Then she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife. Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong. 

As Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the north-west, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye? 

Soon the two women’s lives will become inextricably bound together as the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood’s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake. 

Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.


Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada

Inspired by a true story, Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin  is the gripping tale of an ordinary man’s determination to defy the tyranny of Nazi rule. This Penguin Classics edition contains an afterword by Geoff Wilkes, as well as facsimiles of the original Gestapo file which inspired the novel.

Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels receive the news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France. Shocked out of their quiet existence, they begin a silent campaign of defiance, and a deadly game of cat and mouse develops between the Quangels and the ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich. When petty criminals Kluge and Borkhausen also become involved, deception, betrayal and murder ensue, tightening the noose around the Quangels’ necks …

~ On my bedside table ~

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

In last week’s round-up, I mentioned that I had just started reading The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. I finished it in 3 days! It’s a great read and I’ll be sharing my review on here soon.


FRANCE magazine, NB, Writing magazine

I sometimes take a bit of a break when I’m in between books so I have been dipping in and out of the latest issues of FRANCE magazine, NB, and Writing magazine.


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

Until next week, happy reading!

Books · fiction · Rosanna Ley · Shelf Control

Shelf Control: Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley

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:

Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley

Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley

Published in the UK by Quercus Books in 2016.

~ What it’s about ~

Cuba, 1958. Elisa is only sixteen years old when she meets Duardo and she knows he’s the love of her life from the moment they first dance the rumba together in downtown Havana. But Duardo is a rebel, determined to fight in Castro’s army, and Elisa is forced to leave behind her homeland and rebuild her life in distant England. But how can she stop longing for the warmth of Havana, when the music of the rumba still calls to her?

England, 2012. Grace has a troubled relationship with her father, whom she blames for her beloved mother’s untimely death. And this year more than ever she could do with a shoulder to cry on – Grace’s career is in flux, she isn’t sure she wants the baby her husband is so desperate to have and, worst of all, she’s begun to develop feelings for their best friend Theo. Theo is a Cuban born magician but even he can’t make Grace’s problems disappear. Is the passion Grace feels for Theo enough to risk her family’s happiness?

From bestselling author Rosanna Ley comes an exotic tale of love, family and friendship set between England and Cuba.

~ When I added it to my book shelf ~

I added this to my shelf not long after it was published. It was an impulse buy at the supermarket!

~ Why I want to read it ~

I remember seeing Last Dance in Havana in Sainsbury’s and being drawn in by its escapist cover. After reading the blurb, I knew it was a book for me. I love a dual time frame book. At the time, I wasn’t aware of how popular Rosanna Ley’s books are (it was pre-blogging days). Now I know and I do wonder what I am missing. I will get around to finding out soon.