The Christmas Holiday – Blog Tour

I know what you’re thinking guys, but hear me out. It sounded too adorable to NOT read and I promise to hold off on all other Christmas related things until at least Thanksgiving.

With that out of the way, let’s get this tour review started!

 

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Synopsis:
A charming Christmas story, with a European twist, of how love can surface in the unlikeliest of places. From an exciting new voice in festive fiction. 
Can a trip away lead you home? 
After a bad break-up, eternal optimist Evie Miller has moved to the small village of Willowbrook to finally pursue her dream of opening a craft shop. Unfortunately, with money worries and an ex- boyfriend determined to track her down, her fresh start isn’t going entirely to plan. 
Jake Hartwood is also looking to escape his past. Haunted by the loss of his wife, he’s determined not to get close to anyone again – and the last thing he wants is to be celebrating this December. 
Hoping to avoid the festivities, Evie and Jake arrange to escape Christmas together as friends in Provence. But can they avoid the magic of the season from changing things between them? 
And what happens if one of them starts to feel something more? 

Book Information:
Written by: Sophie Claire
Published by: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: October 3, 2019
Format: Paperback and eBook £8.99

 

My Review

 

If you think this sounds like an adorable Christmas read that’s perfect to get you festive and ready to watch the rota of Hallmark Christmas movies…you would be right. This is a cute romcom read that has everything you would expect from such a book. There’s Christmas, there’s love, dogs, a brooding handsome man, and a wonderfully quirky and adorable owner of a village shop.

Clair delivers on what you’d want if this is your sort of genre. For me, I find myself always enjoying festive and adorable reads, so, in my mind, it perfectly delivered on this and did not disappoint. It’s a sweet read that makes me anticipate the whole month of December.

There’s also learning to deal with loss, self-esteem issues, and did I mention the dog? I think Clair did a wonderful job forming this cosy world that you want to get lost in while drinking a cup of hot chocolate.

So, I give this three and a half cups of hot chocolate with extra marshmallows.

If you’re already on the hunt for festive reads, make sure you add this one to your list!

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC of this in exchange for my honest review for part of the blog tour

 

About the Author

Sophie Claire, born to a French mother and Scottish father, grew up in Manchester where she still lives with her husband and two sons. She writes stories centred around sunny Provence, where she spent her summers as a child.

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The Last Concerto – Blog Tour

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Synopsis: 
Famed for its natural beauty and rich history, Sardinia in 1968 is notorious, too, for the bandits who kidnap wealthy landowners for ransom. Eleven-year-old Alba Fresu’s brother, and her father, Bruno, are abducted by criminals who mistake Bruno for a rich man. After a grueling journey through the countryside, the two are eventually released—but the experience leaves Alba shaken and unable to readjust to normal life, or to give voice to her inner turmoil.
Accompanying her mother to cleaning jobs, Alba visits the villa of an eccentric Signora and touches the keys of a piano for the first time. The instrument’s spell is immediate. During secret lessons, forbidden by her mother, Alba is at last able to express emotions too powerful for words alone. Ignoring her parents’ insistence that she work in the family’s car dealership and marry a local boy, Alba accepts a scholarship to the Rome conservatoire. There she immerses herself in a vibrant world of art and a passionate affair.
But her path will lead her to a crossroads, and Alba will have to decide how to reconcile her talent with her longing for love and family, and convey the music of her heart…

Book Information:
Written by: Sara Alexander
Published by: HQ
Publication date: 22/08/2019
Format: Paperback Original £7.99 [Available in eBook & audio]

My Review

I know I’ve said it probably about fifty times by now but as a musician, I tend to be drawn toward books that have music in them. The fact this one had a different musical term each chapter and sections divided into movements, well, I’m completely biased in loving that part of them. But, I’m here to talk about the content of this book, which took me on an extraordinarily emotional rollercoaster. This is a story about a woman having the courage to go after what makes her passionate, music.

The first chapter was a bit of a hesitant introduction for me, but the moment I got past it, it was like something just clicked in me. I could recognize a love of music and the difficulty of perhaps wanting different things than are expected of you. And I’m sure a lot can relate to one or the other if not both. Alba is quiet, the power of her voice is put into her music, and even then, due to her past, she would restrict it and the power of finding her voice.

Seriously, watching her deal with her childhood as being the odd one out, and a girl in her household to experience life in Rome and as a concert pianist, it’s all wonderful and you just want the best for her but Alexander gives us a healthy dose of realism in that she gives both highs and lows. Some things are so soul-crushing, I just want to hug Alba but you know that she is going through this route because she’s chosen music. And to be fair this ending won’t have you crying like a baby in sorrow, so, it’s got a satisfying ending.

Alexander enthrals with her descriptions of music and food, and for me, well, I delighted in the musical descriptions but I do think that if you’re not a fan of heavy descriptions you may not appreciate this paint brushing of each scene before you.

Alba deals with issues from the past that follow her, whether they arise from family or past lovers and I loved watching her handle things differently as she grows up and oh, that ending. ❤

If you are interested in reading a book about a woman following her dream against the odds, that has believable romance subplots, and a healthy dose of humanity, I definitely recommend reading The Last Concerto. Four cups of coffee from me!

 

About the Author

HarperCollins Author Page
Sara Alexander attended Hampstead School, London, and went on to graduate from the University of Bristol, with a BA hons in Theatre, Film & TV. She followed on to complete her postgraduate diploma in acting from Drama Studio London. She has worked extensively in the theatre, film and television industries, including roles in much loved production such as Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Doctor Who, and Franco Zeffirelli’s Sparrow. She is based in London.

 

GIVEAWAY ALERT

I happen to have an extra copy, thank you HQ Stories, so you know that means? GIVEAWAY TIME! [UK Only this round guys] Comment on here for an extra chance to win a copy, follow/RT on twitter for the ‘first’ chance!

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JSS Bach- Blog Tour

JSS Bach Cover Image
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Blurb:

J

SS Bach is the story of three generations of women from either side of Germany’s 20th Century horror story – one side, a Jewish family from Vienna, the other linked to a ranking Nazi official at Dachau concentration camp – who suffer the consequences of what men do. Fast forward to 1990s California, and two survivors from the families meet. Rosa is a young Australian musicologist; Otto is a world-famous composer and cellist. Music and history link them. A novel of music, the Holocaust, love, and a dog. The author’s writing is a wonderland, captivating and drawing the reader in to the presented world. Time becomes no object as a literary universe unfolds and carries the reader through eighty years, where emotions are real and raw and beautifully given.

Book Information:
Hardcover: 200 pages
Publisher: Wrecking Ball Press; Hardcover edition (4 Mar. 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1903110629
ISBN-13: 978-1903110621

Where to Buy

Amazon UK

 

My Review

 

Where do I start? This holds all the horrors and beauty of mankind. The fact that even when someone isn’t good they can still do good. It’s a book that shows how the past echoes on in the future, how it really affects people rather than the imprint it just leaves in history books.

Goodman immediately drops you into the story, he doesn’t waste time on flowery prose and shows you the heart of the matter, the journey he wants to take you on. It’s one that’s not for the faint hearted. He also is brilliant at describing history in such a modern and stark way. He shows how ugly things were, how brutal it was, and yet his words are elegant, poignant, guiding you through brutal honesty and lyricism of music.

Three generations of women from the same family have been entangled in Otto’s life, whether they know it or not. Katja is the origins of it all and her character is not an easy one to appreciate, but, Goodman does a good job showing you enough about her to at least have some understanding on certain parts of her workings. I can appreciate the struggles she went through though they are justified in many ways.

Her daughter Uwe broke my heart, if there was ever a character that I wanted to reach out and cherish, it’s her. The child of two Nazis, and yet just an innocent life herself. She bears the burden of the shame brought on to her by her parents, hated by others for simply being born to them. It’s a hard life to live, and really it was a heartbreaking read overall but especially for her, Otto, and Greta. In fact the reason I rated this 4.5 instead of 5 is simply because I wish there would have been more to Uwe’s story, and the women in general but this story in reality is about Otto more than anyone else in my opinion.

Otto himself is a character full of turmoil, tragedy, and isolation. Goodman breathes him to life, there’s not one moment where his actions are believable, the way he lives his life, the choices he’s made. The only thing I struggled to believe was a certain moment that occurs in the book once it’s back to 1994, but I won’t say it and spoil it, it was quite a small issue, and one though I don’t agree with, it makes sense why Goodman put it in. In fact the rest of the story is pretty flawless, I just wanted more because I think it needed more about the women but it’s hard to argue with the choices Goodman has made. Otto though, he is the true main character in my humble opinion, and your heart will be gripped by him.

Rosa is Katja’s Granddaughter and Uwe’s daughter, raised by Katja, she’s grown up in a world knowing the stark truth about her grandparents but never knowing her own past entirely, told that her father had died, and not at all knowing who he was. She is tugged by the past onto a path that will eventually lead her to Otto.

And at the heart of everything, the main reason I wanted to read this, is music.

Otto is a brilliant cellist and composer, Katja was a musician until she went deaf (not a spoiler as you find out within the first few pages she is indeed unable to hear), and Rosa is a musicologist. Fun fact, My postgrad is in Musicology, so I was a bit critical of the musical aspects of this, and Goodman certainly did his research, I was pretty impressed and he didn’t overreach, it was a perfect balance. Music connects Otto to his family and to Katja, to Rosa later on, and it draws people in and strips them down to the bare bones of their pain and joy, its something that can’t be quantified or explained but I loved the way Goodman wrote about it, the sensations it brings in emotions and to our bodies.

As I stated earlier, this book is not for the faint hearted. This shows the brutality and violence of WWII, there are Nazis before and after the war, there are people who are cruel, but it’s never needless cruelty or violence in Goodman’s writing, it all adds purposefully to the story.

4.5/5 Cups of coffee and I tip my hat to Goodman. This was a brilliant novel that broke my heart in the best ways. Thanks to Anne for letting me be part of this tour and thanks to Goodman for the copy of his book. [I don’t typically write this in blog tours but of course my honest opinion was given in exchange]

 

About the Author

Martin Goodman Author Picture

Martin Goodman was born in Leicester, and has lived and worked in China, Qatar, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and France. Travel forms a large part of his writing: both for strictly travel-related books and also for novels and biographies. His first novel ON BENDED KNEES was shortlisted for the Whitbread prize, and his most recent biography SUFFER AND SURVIVE won 1st Prize, Basis of Medicine in the BMA Book Awards 2008. He is the Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Hull. He lives in Hull, London and the French Pyrenees. ‘Such narrow, narrow confines we live in. Every so often, one of us primates escapes these dimensions, as Martin Goodman did. All we can do is rattle the bars and look after him as he runs into the hills. We wait for his letters home.’
– The Los Angeles Times

Author Links

Website Twitter

 

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JSS Bach Blog Tour Poster

 

 

Horizontal Collaboration Blog Tour

 

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Blurb:

“Horizontal Collaboration” is a term used to describe the sexual and romantic relationships that some French women had with members of the occupying German forces during World War II. In this poignant, female-centered graphic novel created by writer/artist duo Carole Maurel and Mademoiselle Navie, the taboo of “sleeping with the enemy” is explored through the story of a passionate, and forbidden, affair. In June 1942, married Rose (whose husband is a prisoner of war) intervenes in the detainment of her Jewish friend and then accidentally embarks on a secret relationship with the investigating German officer, Mark. There is only one step between heroism and treason, and it’s often a dangerous one. Inside an apartment building on Paris’s 11th arrondissement, little escapes the notice of the blind husband of the concierge. Through his sightless but all-knowing eyes, we learn of Rose and Mark’s hidden relationship, and also of the intertwined stories and problems of the other tenants, largely women and children, who face such complex issues as domestic violence, incest, and prostitution. This fascinating graphic novel tackles the still-sensitive topic of who it is acceptable to love, and how, and the story’s drama is brought vividly to life by intimate and atmospheric illustrations.

Book Information:
Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher: Korero Press; None ed. edition (18 Jun. 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 191274001X
ISBN-13: 978-1912740017

 

My Review

The art in this was simply gorgeous and the stories combined with it made for a breath taking and well…quite frankly, hear breaking read. The emotion on the characters was so raw and powerful, it made the art flawless by making them so utterly believable. There is a large mix of characters, they all board in the same building and we’re given insight into all their toils and dreams. The pressure of WWII wears down on France, and on Parisians especially in this beautiful graphic novel. There is no one without strife or causing it, and in the darkness of war one woman has fallen in love with a German Soldier.

For those who don’t know their history, it was severely ‘frowned upon’ [and that’s putting it mildly] by the people of Paris for the French women to liaison with German Soldiers. Of course some women did it to survive, others because they were true to the German cause, and some, because they fell in love. Rose’s is not the only love story in the book, and everyone’s heartache and hopes really spilled through the pages. It’s an emotional read and one that left me a bit breathless. Things are believable, they’re palpable whether in the actions of the characters or in the setting of history itself and the author and artist have blended everything together beautifully.

I could not say enough good things about this graphic novel. If you are someone who likes history or graphic novels, or even someone who s intrigued by a devastatingly gorgeous story and art, I would definitely recommend this book to you all. By far the best graphic novel read of the year for me so far and I don’t see it slipping out of the top rank anytime soon.

Below you’ll find a couple of examples of the beautiful art and at the very bottom make sure to check out the rest of the tour.

Five huge cups of coffee from me.

 

The Art

 

 

About the Authors/Artists

 

Navie and Carol Maurel Author pic

 

Carole Maurel cut her teeth on animated films before devoting herself to illustration, in particular, graphic novels. Her 2017 book The Apocalypse According to Magda was awarded the Artémisia Avenir award, which celebrates women in comics. 
Navie is a screenwriter for press, cinema and television. She has a degree in history from The Sorbonne in Paris, where she specialized in the history of fascism – making Horizontal Collaboration an excellent fit for her first graphic novel.

Maruel’s Twitter

 

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Without A Trace Blog Tour

Without A Trace - Cover
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BLURB
From the USA Today bestselling author of My Sister Is Missing
Lily’s gone.
Someone took her.
Unless she was she never there…
A little girl has gone missing.
Lily was last seen being tucked into bed by her adoring mother, Nova. But the next morning, the bed is empty except for a creepy toy rabbit.
Has Nova’s abusive ex stolen his “little bunny” back for good?
At first, Officer Ellie James assumes this is a clear custody battle. Until she discovers that there are no pictures of the girl and her drawers are full of unused toys and brand new clothes that have never been worn…

Is Ellie searching for a missing child who doesn’t actually exist?

Book Information
Paperback: 380 pages
Publisher: Killer Reads; Digital original edition (13 Jun. 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0008324514
ISBN-13: 978-0008324513
Amazon (UK)

 

My Review

The synopsis truly had me intrigued from the start with this book and while it could have easily derailed and been made into a more run of the mill read, I actually felt that Lynch had done a more than decent job with how she’d set this up. I’m not saying that some of you might not find this predictable as far as the mystery goes, I didn’t but I wasn’t looking into finding the answer, I was enjoying the moment, but I think this goes beyond the mystery. Our Author brings a spotlight on domestic abuse and she does it in a way that shows just how hard it is to escape it. There are so many times in society that people wonder why others stay in abusive relationships and I think Lynch did a great job showing the struggle for a spouse to leave an abusive partner, especially when there could be children involved. [I’m not telling, remember I try not to give spoilers!]

You’ll want to read this in a sitting, I had to break it up into a couple of train rides but I flew through it. I loved Ellie, and I loved that she was a female police officer who was having to deal with the backlash of a past incident on a case because I feel that the reaction to her from others on the force was so accurate.

This also isn’t just the tale of one domestic situation but a couple of them and how they truly affect everyone in the long run. Being a victim and feeling powerless is unfortunately a feeling that in this case women feel quite a bit but I do have to say I was impressed that Ellie did remember the tables could be flipped, that just as easily a man can be a victim as well and Lynch got a small round of applause from me for that.

The story situations POVs and I like that in mysteries because it gives you more pieces of the puzzle to work with and I really enjoyed the writing style. I’ve had such a good reading week thanks to Anne Cater, and to the authors and publishers who have been kind enough to send copies of their books such as this one. I actually plan on buying a copy or two for family for Christmas on this one! If you like a psychological thriller, and you are intrigued by the look at domestic violence, I hope you find this particular book in your hands.

About the Author

Carissa Ann Lynch - Author pic

Carissa Ann Lynch is the USA Today bestselling author of My Sister is Missing, Flocksdales Files trilogy, Horror High series, Searching for Sullivan, Shades and Shadows, Midnight Moss, This Is Not About Love, 13 anthology, Twisted anthology and Without A Trace.
She resides in Floyds Knobs, Indiana with her family and collection of books. With a background in psychology and corrections, she’s always been a little obsessed with the darker areas of the human mind.

Website
Facebook
Twitter

 

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Kaerou Time to Go Home Review

Thank you B. Jeanne Shibahara for sending this book to me! I am providing my honest review to you all on my blog in exchange!

GoodReads Blurb:

In Japan…everywhere…red strings tie all people we meet together. Some strings are weak. Some have tangles. Some strong.

Meryl—Vietnam War widow—misses her grown son, feels left out after her father’s recent marriage. A WWII Japanese flag falls into her hands. The gentle push of a love-struck professor starts her adventure—take the flag home. From the neon of Osaka, to the ancient capital Nara, to the forests of Akita, the trail follows a newspaper reporter, factory manager, ikebana teacher, a Matagi hunter and winds through Japanese culture, past and present. A story of shared humanity and love in the simplest things.

This book was hard to define in simple terms, I did really enjoy it, especially at around page 25 I think something just really really clicked for me. There were elements here that I typically enjoy in a book, the history of things, the going back and forward of thinking of the past and progressing in the present, these are always huuuuuge pluses for me.

This story is more than just about Meryl, and in fact, the quote at the top of the blurb is my favorite in the book and is said by my favorite character, Ms. Kawanishi. The landscapes that Shibahara describe are utterly beautiful and it makes you want to go hop on a plane and go explore Japan. There’s an ample cast of characters and they’re all a variety of personalities.

Shibahara not only does a great job describing gorgeous locations, she also has a rather poetic or lyrical style! It actually took me a little while to get into it but it’s something I enjoyed after adapting to it [Note, probably about 25 is when I got used to the rhythm of it.]

The book is about finding love and about letting go of those we love as well. Meryl is delivering a flag to a man’s family who never thought they would get him home again, but she’s bringing them a beautiful chance while also dealing with the fact that despite her love for her husband she couldn’t condone everything he did and it makes her connect with the man she’s bringing home and his family. An unknowing level where thoughts are shared between her and the family as they have to face the brutality of what war cost in a time of peace.

There were some small issues, I wasn’t sure I always appreciated some of the stereotypes of some of the characters, or always completely enjoyed Meryl but as I said my favorite character was Ms. Kawanishi anyway, and I really thought this book was just a very lush one in its details of Japan and elsewhere. I would definitely recommend to those who like Eat, Pray, LoveUnder the Tuscan Sun, or The Sandalwood Tree. Not to mention the covers both front and back are absolutely lovely as you can tell from the featured image, front on the left, back on the right.

I enjoyed this and I foresee myself reading it again in the next couple of years and I am already planning on sending it to my sister who I think will really enjoy it too. [But her own copy damn it cause she doesn’t understand what the word borrow means] This go around I didn’t want to put a rating, I want you all to read the review and decide for yourself if you’d like to give it a read and if you want to discuss it more with me feel free to reach out to me!

WWW Wednesday

It’s time for the WWW Wednesday meme brought to you all by Taking on a World of Words

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What are you currently reading?

GoodReads Blurb:

Sarah Bennett has two secrets: she sees ghosts, and she is in love with a spy.

When Sarah takes a job with occult expert Dr Matthew Geisler, he promises to help her understand the sorrowful spirit that seems to have attached itself to her.

As Sarah struggles to cope with the ghostly presence, she runs into Zeke, the man who left her six months earlier and is recovering from injuries suffered in an alleged accident. But Zeke has secrets of his own, and when an attempt is made on Geisler’s life, Sarah finds herself caught in a struggle between the living and the dead.

Unsure who she can trust, Sarah must solve the mystery of the soul determined to haunt her, and save Dr Geisler and herself from an unknown threat.

[This book was previously published as WEEPING IN THE WINGS.]

I actually just finished this two minutes ago, but we’ll roll with it for my current read as you know, I haven’t started anything new in the last two minutes. I actually really enjoyed this, and while there was some confusion for me in the first couple of chapters (it wasn’t made clear it was the SECOND in a series but that’s been fixed, thanks to Isabelle) I was able to push past it and really just enjoy it. It’s a supernatural mystery, a medium who wants to solve crimes and it reminded me of a more adult-aimed The Mediator type series in a way, at least where the ghosts were concerned. I would totally recommend this one for those who like this genre, I’ll have a review posted of it tomorrow.

What did you recently finish reading?

I could post the GoodReads blurb for like the 80th time about this one, but I’ll spare you, I already reviewed it and that can be found here if you’re curious! Another top notch 2019 release and I was pretty happy to read it, and that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t read Kal’s awesome review of it. This book was like ‘oh, you have feelings, great, I’m gonna exploit them and make you weep.’ So, it comes highly recommended from me!

What do you think you’ll read next?

GoodReads Blurb:

For the past three years, Brynna has been patrolling the streets of Forcadel as a masked vigilante, protecting the innocent and beating up bad guys. Her current target is Lord Beswick, a slumlord businessman who keeps the townsfolk in a vicious poverty cycle. But one fateful evening, she’s captured by Felix, the captain of the king’s guard, and told a shocking truth: her father and brother are dead, and she needs to hang up her mask and become queen.

Before long, she negotiates a deal with Felix: attend to her royal duties during the day and continue her vigilante mission to take out Lord Beswick at night – at least until her coronation. But the politics of Forcadel are as volatile as the streets, and Brynna isn’t sure whom she can trust in the castle. With two royals dead in less than a month, she must use all her wits to make sure she isn’t the third.

I have actually been itching to start this one!! But! I wanted to make sure to do my eARCs in some sort of reading order by when they released, so, NOW I finally get to read this one and it’s my last eARC I really ‘needed’ to get through for my monthly goal, though I did add Nation of the Beasts, we’ll see if I get through it by this week, probably not, I’m not a machine and eventually have to take a break from reading lol. Anyway, I’ll talk more about our Princess Vigilante in The City of Veils as the publication draws nearer. [April 16th for those who are curious]

Have you read any of these? What did you finish or start this week?

Toodles!