Blogtour: Staying On by CM Taylor

Retired expat, Tony Metcalfe, is going through a three-quarter-life crisis. Viva España, his bar in a mountain village beyond Spain s Costa Blanca, is failing. Tony started the bar for the English post-war babies who retired early on good pensions – the por favors, as the Spanish call them – flocking to the dream of wine, rest and sun around the pool. But now their retirement paradise is shadowed by Brexit: the pound has fallen, pensions are frozen and the property crash happened long ago.

Tony wants to move back to enjoy the remainder of his life in his childhood home, but his tenacious wife Laney wants to stay in the happy valley and forget about England and the dark, unresolved feelings it provokes in their marriage. Sod it – he couldn’t go home even if he tried; nobody would buy an ailing bar during a recession.

But Tony s luck is about to change when his son Nick arrives for a surprise visit with his self-possessed wife, Jo, and their son. With the extra help, Tony thinks things are on the up, but Jo has brought along more baggage than just their family s suitcases.

This book made me really think. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I saw the blurb but it did intrigue me. I’ve read other “coming-of-age” novels but they tended to be teenage novels. I was fascinated to read a coming-of-age novel which referred to a different “age” to the norm.

This is a beautiful, thought provoking narrative with a great heart and warmth which emanates into your everyday life. I often found myself thinking about it when I wasn’t engaged in reading it, which is a very good sign. The emotions captured are very real and it genuinely felt like you were there living their lives with them. The characters are also extremely likeable, which really helps.

This novel remind me a little of novels such as “Elizabeth is Missing” and “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” – two other novels I enjoyed immensely. If you like novels like these, I would highly recommend you seek this out!

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Blogtour: Odette by Jessica Duchen

When a swan crashes through her window at the height of a winter storm, journalist Mitzi Fairweather decides to nurse the injured bird back to health. But at sunset, the swan becomes a woman.

This unexpected visitor is Odette, the swan princess – alone, adrift and in danger in 21st-century Britain, entirely dependent on the kindness of strangers. Bird by day, human by night, and with no way to go home, she remains convinced, to Mitzi’s distress, that only a man’s vow of eternal love can break her spell.

Mitzi is determined to help Odette, but as the two try to hide the improbable truth, their web of deception grows increasingly tangled. Can they find a way to save Odette before it’s too late?

This was an interesting book and was very different to anything I have read before. I may be wrong, but I believe that the main aim of the story was to be a sort of spin on the Swan Lake story. It’s incredibly atmospheric, beautifully written and has levels of romanticism which I haven’t really seen before.

Apparently this story is also 26 years in the making (which, funnily enough is also my age, so this narrative is the same age as me!) and is Jessica Duchen’s sixth book.

The novel is set in December and is the perfect companion to your Christmas reads. Although this story isn’t particularly Christmassy as such, it is very atmospheric and in my mind would feel strange reading in the middle of summer. Having said that, if it’s your first time reading in the summer, I don’t see why you wouldn’t enjoy it – I just happened to read it late November/December, so that in my mind made a difference.

I was caught off guard several times when reading this. I really enjoy this personally and I highly recommend that if you do like novels that make you think about not only what is happening in the novel but also how sometimes our own bubbles can cause you to miss out on important, beautiful things. I love how this made me question some of my actions in the past and would love to see more from Jessica Duchen.

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Book Blast: The Burning House by Neil Spring

Estate Agent Clara is struggling to make a sale. With her abusive ex-husband on the brink of finding where she’s hiding, she needs to make a commission soon or lose her chance to escape.

Boleskine House on the shores of Loch Ness has remained unsold for years, and Clara is sure that an ‘innocent’ fire will force the price down. But the perfect crime soon turns into the perfect nightmare: there was a witness, a stranger in the village, and he’s not going to let Clara get away with it that easily…

Well…that was an experience…

I was intrigued by the description of this novel, although I don’t normally enjoy stories based on a true story. I find that if it’s based on a true story it tends to stick rigidly to what happened and takes a little of the imagination out of it. However I didn’t feel like this was the case here.

I found this deeply unsettling but incredibly exciting and I wanted to know what was going to happen next throughout. I often read during my lunch break at work and I find it relatively easy to leave the book behind when I go back to work, but this one found its way into my everyday life. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it.

If you are not interested in books that have graphic devil worship and the supernatural, I would recommend staying away. It gets incredibly intense and dark and I’m sure that there will be a few people who find this too scary. I personally find this sort of thing fascinating so it gripped me!

As a Doctor Who nerd, I was amused that two of the main characters were called Clara and Oswald too!

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Blogtour: Mistletoe and Mystery by Daisy James

Welcome to the Cotswolds Festive Feast cookery course…
Fresh off the successful opening of the Paradise Cookery School in St Lucia, Millie Harper is headed to the Cotswolds for Christmas!

Co-presenting Claudia Croft’s famous Festive Feast cookery course at Stonelea Manor is a dream come true for Millie…as is reuniting with gorgeous estate manager Zach Barker.

But arriving in a winter wonderland Millie learns the manor is under a mysterious threat. It’ll take a holiday miracle, but Millie is determined to save the school and get Zach under the mistletoe to finally finish what they started in the Caribbean!

Cosy up with this fun, festive visit to the Cotswolds premier cookery school! Perfect for fans of Jenny Oliver and Sarah Morgan

I have not yet read any of the Paradise Cookery School Series, but I feel like this was the best introduction to it without going back and reading the rest. This is a great standalone book and works well, although as I usually say with this sort of thing I think it would of course be beneficial to read additional materials beforehand!

I found this incredibly easy to follow and found that I enjoyed and looked forward to reading this too. It is very laid back and would definitely work in a log cabin setting with a lovely fire glowing in the background. It also felt very “real” and the way the characters spoke and interacted felt like it was a play involving friends and not a novel, which can be a difficult thing to achieve sometimes.

I am definitely interested in reading more from this series and I am excited to see where the story goes next!

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Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her summerhouse, she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.

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Blogtour: Good Samaritans by Will Carver

Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans
But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home…
And someone is watching…
Dark, sexy, dangerous and wildly readable, Good Samaritans marks the scorching return of one of crime fiction’s most exceptional voices.

The concept of this novel is one I haven’t heard personally before, which instantly drew me to it. I decided to jump straight in and not read any other review of this because it intrigued me so much I almost didn’t want to know anything at all about it.

This was one of the most unique and gripping novels I’ve read for a long time. Will’s writing style is very distinctive and although I haven’t read anything by him before, I will definitely be looking for more work from him in the future. He writes in a way that is very pacy and kept my attention which explaining enough of the action that I didn’t get lost or confused. Maybe some would say the detail is a little too graphic, but it depends on your personal taste and what you’re used to.

The storyline is so dark that I would highly recommend that if you’re not interested in reading anything that can be disturbing you give this a wide berth. I mean, I love this sort of thing but that might just be a reflection of me personally! It is certainly a form of escapism…but won’t be to everyone’s taste. Do NOT read this if you are afraid of “adult” situations. If you can handle it though, take a step into this twisted world because I promise, you will not regret it. I will certainly be recommending this to my friends. And I will never buy bleach again.

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Blogtour: The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkleblick by Hattie Holden Edmonds

Oskar is the ultimate teenage loner. He’s been living on the streets since he was a kid, he hates being touched and his eyes are always itchy from chronic conjunctivitis. To perk himself up, he paints the misery of mankind. After all, there’s so much of that about…
One day during a not-so-routine eye test, Oskar’s bleak perspective is blown apart when he tries on a pair of very unusual lenses. The world he glimpses is filled with love, light and wonder and he is furious. But those lenses have opened his inner eye and much against his darker nature, Oskar’s perception and behaviour begin to change in ways that he could never, ever have imagined.

This is one of the strangest, interesting, quirky, bizarre and eccentric books I have ever had the pleasure to review on this blog. For anyone who knows me, I am always interested in anything that is different to the ordinary and this novel really intrigued me.

This book was very reminiscent of my favourite book of all time, which is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon.(I do seem to enjoy books with extraordinarily long titles, it seems). Oskar who – funnily enough – is the main protagonist of the story is an incredibly readable character and I found myself wondering what was going to happen next. I loved the idea that glasses could make you see things in a different way and I personally haven’t seen anything like this before. I also loved the wicked sense of humour routed throughout.

if you’re interested in reading something that is based on reality but with hints of fantasy, and if you’re interested in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, definitely seek this out. I am now patiently waiting for there to be a second book following Oskar’s life, because I want to know more!

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Blogtour: The Christmas Heart by Helena Halme

Tall, dark and handsome, Tom is out to have some fun. Kaisa doesn’t think she’ll ever fall in love again. But when they meet on the snow-capped Swedish Alps, sparks fly. With his beloved mother passed, Tom is forced to leave his two teenage sons in Milan with his ex and is looking forward to an uncomplicated Christmas skiing in the Swedish Alps.
With her daughter Rosa away backpacking in the Far East, Kaisa decides to take a rare winter break over the holidays with her best friend Tuuli. Now in her late fifties, Kaisa doesn’t think she’ll ever fall in love again. But when she sees Tom after some thirty years, her heart begins to beat a little faster. Kaisa knows, however, an affair with Tom will go nowhere. Years ago, they had a disastrous date, which neither of them wishes to revisit. Yet, on the slopes and in the apres-ski bars Tom showers Kaisa with his attentions and she finds she cannot resist his intense eyes and passionate kisses. Can Kaisa trust this European Casanova, and her own sudden infatuation?
The Christmas Heart is a seasonal story of grown-up love set in the beautiful Swedish Alps. It’s the final book in the acclaimed Nordic Heart series, but can also be read as a stand-alone story.

This is a lovely book set in a beautiful location that I have always wanted to visit around Christmas. Although once again I felt this was a little incongruous to read outside of the main Christmas season, I still thoroughly enjoyed following the story of Tom and Kaisa. Both characters were very likeable and felt like “real” characters.

Since reading this, I have discovered that this story is part of a series which follows Kaisa’s life, which is a concept that fascinates me! I am definitely going to read these again from the beginning when I get an opportunity. Even though this worked well as a standalone novel, I would be interested to read the rest of her story and see what causes her to make these decisions.

This novel has a great “heart” (excuse the pun) and a really lovely moral throughout. I would recommend this to anyone who would like a quick read during the holiday season that isn’t too heavy and warms your heart on the cold winter days.

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