CHASE BOOK FEST 24/09/22 at the Museum of Cannock Chase @DavyTheCanary

(Images used with permission from the Museum of Cannock Chase)

Yesterday I attended Chase Book Fest with my friend, Gayle.

Gayle and I out for dinner following the Book Fest. Unfortunately, I didn’t get chance to take any photos at the event.

We had a wonderful time! We booked five panels and found all of them fascinating, inspiring, and quite often funny.

First up was ‘Feel Good Fiction’ at 10am with Bella Osborne, Tilly Tennant, Beth Moran, and Celia Anderson. The very lovely Kim Nash was facilitating. An excellent panel with a favourite author, and friend, Tilly! 🙂 Bella, Beth, and Celia are new authors to me.

Bella Osborne, Tilly Tennant, Kim Nash, Beth Moran, Celia Anderson.

Bella Osborne on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Bella-Osborne/e/B00Q1EPB8U?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2&qid=1664138851&sr=8-2

Tilly Tennant on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Tilly-Tennant/e/B00J24M6BQ?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1664138928&sr=1-1

Kim Nash on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Kim-Nash/e/B07N8DBXLS?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1664139005&sr=1-1-spell

Beth Moran on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Beth-Moran/e/B00LE85TQC?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2&qid=1664139059&sr=1-2

Celia Anderson on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Celia-Anderson/e/B00E396JPY?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2&qid=1664139128&sr=1-2

When you spot yourself in the audience photo 🙂

Next up at 11:15am, ‘The Power of Love’ with Iona Grey, Amanda Prowse, Emma Cooper, and Josie Silver. Another excellent panel. If you know me well, you will know that I am a HUGE fan of Iona Grey. I just adore her books and can’t wait for her new one 🙂 I have read a few by Amanda Prowse and loved them all. She is such an inspiration. Emma and Josie are new to me authors.

Iona Grey, Amanda Prowse, Kim Nash, Emma Cooper, Josie Silver

Iona Grey on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Iona-Grey/e/B00UJXFYCM?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1664139518&sr=1-1

Amanda Prowse on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-Prowse/e/B0086DTS7Y?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1664139940&sr=1-1

Emma Cooper on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Emma-Cooper/e/B01AZSG02S?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1664139986&sr=1-1

Josie Silver on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Josie-Silver/e/B07D126534?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1664140042&sr=1-1

At 12:30pm ‘Moving to the Dark Side’ with Sue Watson, Kate Gray, and Miranda Dickinson. All three of these ladies are new-to-me authors who did an excellent job of convincing me to add their books to my TBR list!

Facilitator, Sue Watson, Kate Gray, Miranda Dickinson.

Sue Watson on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Sue-Watson/e/B005AI47GK?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2&qid=1664140545&sr=1-2

Kate Gray on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Kate-Gray/e/B09SHVRCVD?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1664140624&sr=1-1

Miranda Dickinson on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Miranda-Dickinson/e/B0036WY1G8?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1664140674&sr=1-1

At 1:45pm we had the ‘Thrilled to Death’ panel with Keith Houghton, Noelle Holten, M W Arnold, Louise Douglas, and T M Logan. I LOVE Noelle Holten’s books, but everyone else on this panel is a new-to-me author. Once again all of their books have gone straight on to my TBR list!

Keith Houghton, Noelle Holten, M W Arnold, Louise Douglas, T M Logan.

Keith Houghton on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Keith-Houghton/e/B005UMEUJA?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1664141130&sr=1-1

Noelle Holten on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Noelle-Holten/e/B07HZ685TL?ref=dbs_t_r_fta_b07hz685tl

M W Arnold on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/M-W-Arnold/e/B00HEH7KIW?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1664141344&sr=1-1

Louise Douglas on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/M-W-Arnold/e/B00HEH7KIW?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1664141344&sr=1-1

T M Logan on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/T-M-Logan/e/B01N0CBM2D?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3&qid=1664141426&sr=1-3

Last but not least, scheduled for 3pm, ‘Location, Location, Location’ with Sue Moorcroft, Phillipa Ashley, and Sarah Bennett. I have loved the books I’ve read by Sue Moorcroft and Phillipa Ashley. Sarah Bennett is a new-to-me author. Needless to say, her books have also been added to my TBR list!

Sue Moorcroft, Phillipa Ashley, Sarah Bennett, Kim Nash.

Sue Moorcroft on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Sue-Moorcroft/e/B0034Q9O4U?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3&qid=1664141860&sr=1-3

Phillipa Ashley on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Phillipa-Ashley/e/B0034P9MC0?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1664141899&sr=1-1

Sarah Bennett on Amazon – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Sarah-Bennett/e/B01N6J6ZE1?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1664142275&sr=1-1

Such a wonderful event!

(The only issue for us personally was that there was only 15 minutes between each panel, and they weren’t all in the same building. We were there before 10am and it didn’t end until 4:30pm. There wasn’t much time to grab a drink, a bite to eat, pop to the loo etc. There was no time to have a chat with the authors as we had to rush off at the end of each panel to avoid being late for the next one. Thankfully we were able to purchase books at the very end of the event, because we hadn’t had chance until then. This wouldn’t have been an issue for those only attending one or two panels, but as we were attending five it was a bit rushed.)

However, we still LOVED it! We thoroughly enjoyed listening to all of the authors. I am in awe of them all! I LOVE seeing my favourite authors and discovering new ones. My TBR is now even longer!

I got to see my lovely friend, Steph 🙂 Follow her awesome blog here – https://steflozbookblog.wordpress.com/

I got to say a quick hello to, and have a hug with, Tilly Tennant & Noelle Holten. I also had a little catch up with Graeme Cumming and Esther Chilton as we were sitting together for the last panel which started slightly late, giving us time to have a quick natter 🙂

The museum staff were all lovely and on hand to point us in the right direction.

Well done to all who made this such a fantastic event!

**Many, many thanks to the Museum of Cannock Chase for your permission to use your photos for this blog post**

I can’t wait for next year!

Here are the books I purchased…

ICYMI

A Home at Cornflower Cottage by Tilly Tennant #BookReview

Escape to the flower-filled fields and hedgerows of the Cotswold countryside, to a tiny cottage and a summer that could change everything….

Amelie will never give up Cornflower Cottage, marooned in its island of wild fields and thick woodland. She did her homework at the scrubbed kitchen table and helped her mother hang washing on the line from the old oak tree. And when her beloved parents died, Cornflower Cottage became Amelie’s armour against the world.

The trouble is that it’s falling apart, and she’s struggling to make ends meet. The garden is a jungle of weeds, the roof leaks, the boiler is broken. Determined to keep hold of the home that is her last link to her parents, Amelie decides it’s time to take action.

Extra shifts at a local hotel, favours called in from old friends, and, reluctantly, a lodger. Could rude, hilarious, brown-eyed Xander be the answer to her problems? Or is he just going to come in and start changing things?

Just as Amelie manages to save the cottage from total collapse, and she starts getting used to the sound of laughter in her cosy farmhouse kitchen, a face from Xander’s past appears and Amelie’s future in the home she loves is shaken once again.

Can Amelie find a way to save her home and protect her heart? Can she trust Xander, or was the spark between them just in her imagination?

A Home at Cornflower Cottage

by Tilly Tennant  

My Review

A Home at Cornflower Cottage is a gorgeous read. A Tilly Tennant book is always a treat and this one is no exception.

Amelie is a likeable character. She overthinks pretty much everything, but I think we can all be like that sometimes and she has had a lot to deal with, with losing both of her parents at the same time. Suddenly finding yourself alone and in charge of a house would be daunting for anyone in their 20s, I think. Having said that, she loves her home and who could blame her. It sounds such a beautiful place to live.

There is nothing not to love about this book.

The location. I’d love to have a river on my doorstep.

I loved the friendship Amelie shares with Rachel. Their hockey antics are hilarious!

I can’t say I was a fan of Decker from the start though, to be honest.

I LOVED Salad!

I can’t say I agree with the description of Zander in the blurb on Amazon as I found him quite likeable from the start. I can’t say the same for his girlfriend though!

I thought it was brave of Amelie to open her house to lodgers and I enjoyed the friendship that developed as a result. Some people are destined to come into our lives just when we need them to.

All the stars from me! A beautiful read from start to finish. I really, really, loved it!

I very much recommend.

Treat yourself

happy reading! 🙂

A LIFE TRANSPARENT: Book One of the Monochrome Trilogy by Todd Keisling #BookReview

WHO IS DONOVAN CANDLE?

In A Life Transparent, first published in 2007, Todd Keisling welcomed readers to the Monochrome—a nightmarish parallel reality—and introduced Donovan Candle: a modern everyman experiencing an early mid-life crisis. Now, Precipice Books is proud to present a revised and expanded edition, featuring Keisling’s all-new afterword series, “Who is Donovan Candle?”

DONOVAN CANDLE IS BORING.

Consummate husband, supportive brother, hard-working employee—a paragon of the diminishing Middle Class. Like so many others, he has fallen into routine and compromised his dreams for the sake of a paycheck. After a bad day at the office leaves him low, all Donovan wants is to sleep off the disappointment and start over.

DONOVAN CANDLE IS TERRIFIED.

His body is fading out of existence. He’s seeing strange visions of the world in monochrome and horrific creatures lurking in his periphery. No one else seems to notice, and as the odd afflictions intensify, Donovan fears he is losing his grip on reality.

DONOVAN CANDLE IS DISAPPEARING.

Someone breaks into his home and abducts his wife. Before he can contact the authorities, a stranger’s ominous phone call urges him on a path to her rescue, but only if he follows the rules. The clock is ticking, and with every step Donovan slips further into a state of transparency. Will he be in time to save his wife—and himself—from the dangers of A Life Transparent?

my review

A Life Transparent is a unique story. Quite unlike anything I have ever read before.

Donovan Candle (interesting name for a start) is a seemingly content character. He’s always dreamed of being a writer, but he does have a stable job, a wife he loves, and they are looking towards starting a family. What more could any man want. He’s happy.

That is until strange things start happening to him.

An intriguing story which I very much enjoyed and very much recommend.

I will be adding Todd Keisling’s other books to my list.

Kindle edition and paperback available

Her Daughter’s Secret by Lisa Timoney #BookReview #NetGalley

When troubled teenager Immy disappears, she leaves her widowed mother Bea completely devastated. Bea pours her love into her six-year-old niece Phoebe, even taking her in when her single father Ewan takes a job abroad.

Then Immy returns, in desperate need of her mother’s help and love. But Ewan is clear: he will never let Bea see Phoebe again if she welcomes her daughter back.

As Bea grapples with this impossible choice between two girls who sorely need her, a long-buried secret comes out that changes everything – and Bea must fight harder for her family than she ever thought she could.

Her Daughter’s Secret

by Lisa Timoney 

my review

Her Daughter’s Secret is a compelling family drama.

Bea is an easy character to like. She is trying to live a life after unimaginable grief. My heart went out to her. I can’t imagine losing my husband so young, let alone not knowing where my daughter is. She certainly has a lot to contend with.

I loved Bea’s close relationship with her niece, Phoebe (who is just the cutest character). I think her dedication to the child is heart-warming.

I can’t say I warmed to Ewan (her brother-in-law) or his mother. Although the old lady grew on me towards the end.

This book is full of emotion, tension, and suspense. I was intrigued by Immy especially. I knew there must be more to her story. I could understand Ewan’s feelings towards her to some degree, but I can’t imagine asking anyone to choose between her own daughter and the niece she adores. It’s just heart-breaking.

Neither could I have imagined in a million years the direction the story would take!

Such clever writing!

A brilliant end to a brilliant story.

I highly recommend.

**Many thanks to the author and publisher for my review copy via NetGalley**

pre-order now

(Out 15th September 2022)

happy reading! 🙂

#FlashbackFriday September 2022 #BookReviews

Hi, and welcome to my Flashback Friday feature 🙂

On the first Friday of each month I like to have a look back at the books I was reading during the same month in previous years, since starting my blog.

Please do join in if you have the time, I’d love to see your posts.

Thanks to those of you who regularly join in 🙂

Here are my reviews from September 2021, plus a link to previous September FBFs –

have you read any of the above?

All The Broken Places: The Sequel to The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne #BookReview #NetGalley

From the author of the globally bestselling, multi-million-copy classic, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, comes its astonishing and powerful sequel.

Ninety-one-year-old Gretel Fernsby has lived in the same mansion block in London for decades. She leads a comfortable, quiet life, despite her dark and disturbing past. She doesn’t talk about her escape from Germany over seventy years before. She doesn’t talk about the post-war years in France with her mother. Most of all, she doesn’t talk about her father, the commandant of one of the most notorious Nazi concentration camps.

Then, a young family moves into the apartment below her. In spite of herself, Gretel can’t help but begin a friendship with the little boy, Henry, though his presence brings back memories she would rather forget. One night, she witnesses a violent argument between Henry’s mother and his domineering father, one that threatens Gretel’s hard-won, self-contained existence.

Gretel is faced with a chance to expiate her guilt, grief and remorse and act to save a young boy – for the second time in her life. But to do so, she will be forced to reveal her true identity to the world. Will she make a different choice this time, whatever the cost to herself?

All the Broken Places is a devastating, beautiful story about a woman who must confront the sins of her past and a present in which it is never too late for bravery.

All The Broken Places: The Sequel to The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas

by John Boyne 

my review

I read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas back in April 2015 and it’s a book I have never forgotten. It is one of the most emotional books I have ever read. If you have never read it, you really should consider adding it to your list.

I was intrigued to read All The Broken Places to say the least.

This sequel tells Gretel’s story.

Gretel is 91 years old and has lived in her London apartment for over sixty years. She keeps herself to herself. However, she hasn’t always led such a quiet life. She has a dark past and painful secrets.

She is the daughter of a commandant of a Nazi concentration camp.

She would prefer no-one ever found that out. Especially now she has more than just herself to consider.

She has never got past the guilt she feels regarding her father’s crimes. She was just a child at the time. Should she share responsibility for his actions?

At 91 she is confident now that she will take the secrets of her past to her grave.

That is until a young family move in to the flat below hers and turn her quiet world upside down.

I really enjoyed how Gretel walks us through her story. Switching between the present day and earlier years of her life. Unravelling the tale chapter by chapter. Keeping me glued to my Kindle.  I can’t say I found her to be a likeable character or a particularly unlikable one. She is somewhat standoffish but as we get to know her it’s easier to understand why. She is undoubtably fascinating.

This is such a heart-wrenching and thought-provoking story. A powerful tale of living a life weighed down by grief and guilt. So beautifully written I can’t imagine anyone not finding it completely compelling.

I could never have imagined the way things would turn out! The ending gave me goosebumps.

Just brilliant!

Another one of John Boyne’s books I am sure will stay with me for many years to come.

I highly recommend!

**Many thanks to the author and publisher for my review copy via NetGalley**

Pre-order now

(Out on 15th September 2022)

You Can Stay by Elle Connel #BookReview #NetGalley

She’s the perfect host. He’s the perfect victim.

Someone is hunting Connor. Alone, freezing, in the wilderness of Bodmin Moor, on an elite Special Forces training exercise, he’d be a fool to scorn the kindness of a local stranger. Wouldn’t he?

At first, Eilidh seems to be an impeccable host. She offers Connor food and a warm bed – he finds it nearly impossible to leave her charming farmhouse.

But the choice isn’t his to make.

There have been others before. None, though, as perfect as him.

Why would she let him leave?

You Can Stay

by Elle Connel 

my review

WOW! What an astounding read this is!

Talk about creepy and totally captivating!

Connor and his colleague are out on Bodmin Moor, on selection training. It’s cold and wet. They’re freezing, hungry, and exhausted. When a local woman offers Connor warm refuge at her cottage, he decides it’s worth the risk for a few hours of comfort. Eilidh seems nice enough and assures him she won’t give up his location for the £50 reward. Connor soon wishes she had!

Eilidh is an intriguing character who put me on edge from the very beginning. She is fascinating from a psychological point of view. You never call tell what goes on in someone else’s head and what might go on behind closed doors!

This story is as gripping as they get. I was glued to my kindle at every opportunity. It’s one of those books I was thinking about whenever I rudely had to do other stuff which prevented me from reading it. I couldn’t wait to find out how it was all going to turn out.

OH. MY. GOODNESS! That ending!!! It made my blood run cold. Very, very clever writing!

I highly recommend!

This book reminded me so much of a very well-known book which I won’t mention as I don’t want to give anything away. I wasn’t surprised to see it mentioned in the acknowledgements at the end of the book!

I’ve added this author’s other books to my reading list.

**Many thanks to the author and publisher for my review copy via NetGalley**

treat yourself

happy reading! 🙂

Lost Luggage by Samantha Tonge #BookReview #NetGalley

Brand new from the bestselling author of Under One Roof.

One lost suitcase. Two strangers. And a notebook that will change lives.

For almost fifty years, sisters Dolly and Greta have lived together – getting each other through the good times and the bad.

Except this year, Greta isn’t there and Dolly is feeling lost and alone. In memory of her sister, Dolly heads to the lost luggage auction where she and Greta go each Christmas. But her bid reveals a gift she never imagined.

Amongst the clothes is the notebook of a reclusive woman who has hardly been outside for an entire year, but who isn’t ready to give up on life. The notebook’s contents resonate with Dolly. With the support of her neighbours, retired Leroy and eleven year old Flo, Dolly decides to take on the year of firsts Phoebe had planned.

But, can you have a year of firsts when you’re seventy-two? And is Dolly ready to discover the notebook’s secrets, or are some secrets better left lost at the airport?

Lost Luggage

by Samantha Tonge  

my review

Lost Luggage has been such a joy to read! I have LOVED every page!

I love Dolly! She is such an adorable character. I love that she has spent a contented life with her older sister, Greta, having been let down years before by the love of her life. I did feel sad for her though as she has so much love to give and never found another man to share her life with. Not that we all need a man to fulfil us, but I feel sad that she has missed out on that love and companionship, especially as she finds herself alone, at 70 years old, following the sudden passing of Greta.

I love the idea of buying lost luggage and wondering about the people it belonged to. Although I do feel sorry for the original owners. Are lost luggage auctions a real thing?

I love the idea of a year of firsts. I might have to see if my husband fancies creating our own.

I love the friendships Dolly shares with Leroy, and Flo, and Maurice! These characters add so much extra warmth to the story.

I loved following Dolly’s story as she discovers more about the owner of her most recent lost luggage purchase and the secrets it holds….

It’s a beautifully intriguing story full of gorgeous characters, happiness, heartache, and hope.

I highly recommend!

treat yourself

(Out on 22nd September 2022)

happy reading! 🙂

The Good Enough Mother by Anoushka Beazley #BookReview

Gatlin – a leafy, affluent town: Chelsea tractors and ladies who lunch. However all is not as it seems. Drea, a most unnatural mother, struggles to find private school fees for her step-daughter Ava after her boyfriend leaves her for another woman. Watching the yummy mummies she becomes inspired, hatching a daring and criminal plan…unleashing all hell in the quiet town of Gatlin. Can Drea survive the fallout and the wrath of the PTA? A satirical and hilarious black comedy about love, motherhood and the human condition.

The Good Enough Mother 

by Anoushka Beazley 

my review

Well, talk about a rollercoaster of emotions.

Drea is not an easily likeable character. Her behaviour at times is questionable at best. However, I couldn’t help but feel for her. She is dealing with a debilitating grief. Grief no one should ever have to face. On top of that she has just been dumped and left to fend for herself and her stepdaughter. A stepdaughter with £15,000 school fees!

Her get rich quick ideas leave a lot to be desired! I can’t even imagine, but desperate times call for desperate measures as they say. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like this before.

There is such a lot going on throughout this story. It’s heart-wrenching at times but laugh out loud funny. This author has incredibly sharp wit and a talent for making the most desperate, and sometimes violent, situations comical. It really is clever writing.

I loved the relationship Drea shares with her stepdaughter, Ava. Drea is far from a typical mother (whatever one of those is) but she has Ava’s best interests at heart and Ava loves her. Ava is often more like the parent though.

Drea’s Papa is funny! Loved him!

Hilarious but desperately sad at the same time. I found The Good Enough Mother a highly entertaining and thought provoking read.

treat yourself

happy reading! 🙂