Monday 19 November 2018


3.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Goodreads


How I discovered this book: it was submitted to Rosie's Book Review Team, of which I am a member.

In a nutshell: Christmas time travel short story

Madison Knight is an antique consultant with financial problems, a demanding boss, and no one with whom to spend Christmas.  She's looking forward to shutting the door on the snowy season and getting cosy all alone.  Then customer Zach Murdock gets in touch to say he wants to retrieve his grandmother's beloved painting, because he should never have sold it to the company Madison works for.  Unfortunately, retrieving it is more complicated than Madison originally thinks it will be.

The snow gets worse, and Madison gets stranded.  She seeks help from a local family, but there's something decidedly odd about them.  They seem kind of... old fashioned.

This story is not overtly Christmassy, which, for me, was a plus; it's not as sugar-coated as some.  I love a time travel story; it's the slow dawning of what has happened, and the gaping chasms in language and technology that never fail to entertain.  This is a good story, and nicely plotted, but I felt it could have done with a bit more spit and polish; a bit more re-drafting of both narrative and dialogue, and thinking through of the emotions of the characters when they discover what has occurred.  But it was an enjoyable half hour's reading, nevertheless.

Wednesday 14 November 2018

CHRISTMAS IN SWITZERLAND by Melinda Huber @LindaHuber19

4 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: Twitter!

In a nutshell: Cosy Christmas novella set in a Swiss hotel

Spa hotel managers Stacy and fiancé Rico are so busy organising a perfect Swiss advent for their guests that they hardly have time for each other. The arrival of Rico's widowed father, Ralph, is a lovely surprise, but is he hiding something?

Widow Carol arrives at the hotel for a relaxation week with a friend, en route to Australia, to visit her son and grandchildren. Pushed into the holiday by her friend, she can't wait for the week to be over.

With tension building between Stacy and Rico, she feels envious of the guests who have time just for each other.

This is a cosy, 'feel-good' story, with all the atmosphere of Christmas in Switzerland, and I enjoyed reading all about the various Advent customs in this part of the world.  It's most definitely a 'clean read', and I think would be appreciated most by readers who like sweet romances, as this is the general tone of it - and all HEA and Christmas addicts, of course!  A book to curl up with on a cold day, with a huge mug of hot chocolate; this might even make it snow. 😀

Saturday 10 November 2018

THE SWOOPING MAGPIE by Liza Perrat @LizaPerrat

4.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: I loved Liza Perrat's other book set in 1970s Australia, The Silent Kookaburra, so I pounced on this as soon as it came out!  Also reviewing it for Rosie Amber's Review Team.

In a nutshell: Emotional drama about the plight of unmarried mothers in 1970s Australia, based on true life events.

This is a fictional story about the terrible injustices committed towards young, unmarried mothers in Australia until the 1980s, when they were forced into homes and made to sign papers to give their babies up for adoption, often without even seeing them.  It's hard to imagine such a crime now, but in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when this book is set, a teenage, out-of-wedlock pregnancy was seen as a disgrace to a family, with the girls made to feel like the lowest of the low.  No consideration was given to their feelings, or the resulting trauma they would experience throughout the rest of their lives.  Liza Perrat lists her research material at the back of the book.

Headstrong, pretty and popular Lindsay Townsend has an unhappy childhood with a weak mother and a bully for a father, when she begins an affair with Jon Halliwell, a teacher at her school.  The first half of the book describes not only the passage of the affair and her belief that Jon truly loved her (I loved this part of the book!), but also her time at the home, during which she is finally beaten down.  On a happier note, though, it is there that she made lifelong friends with the other girls who shared her plight.

Jon's treachery is worse than she knows, as the middle of the book shows us, with a truly shocking twist; I was gripped.  We then move to the immediate aftermath of Lindsay's loss, and then to the early 1990s and finally to 2013, as she and her friends aim to right the wrongs done to them.

The books is dialogue-led, with much of the story told in conversation.  The emotions are real, and well-portrayed, and there is no doubt that Liza Perrat has in no way exaggerated the effect on the women who were at the home with Lindsay; I admit to shedding a tear or two during the final ten per cent of the book.  Most of all, though, for anyone who might think, 'well, I wouldn't let that happen to me', Ms Perrat has depicted so well the hopelessness, the reality of being completely trapped and without options, that the girls experienced.  It was, indeed, a different world.  Well worth a read.


Friday 2 November 2018

LONG SHADOWS by Thorne Moore @ThorneMoore

5 GOLD stars

On Amazon UK
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: it was submitted to Rosie's Book Review Team, of which I am a member.

In a nutshell: three novellas, set in different historical eras, about the same place, Llys y Garn, a rambling Pembrokeshire mansion in which aspects of its former lives still remain ~ and not just within the building itself.

I loved every word of this book; I kept trying to read it slowly, so it wouldn't end.   The stories are haunting and sad, and say much about the sad lot of women in eras in which they are set.

The Good Servant takes place around the turn of the 20th century, and is about an old spinster maid, Eluned Skeel, who has no one and nothing to love but the unwanted nephew of the family she serves, taken in by them when he has no one else.  As Cyril Lawson grows up he causes everyone around him pain - but he is Skeel's reason for being, whatever he does.  

The Witch is the story of 17th century Elizabeth, daughter of a father who cares nothing for her aside from the fortune or social standing she can bring him through marriage.  Elizabeth, though, cares only for Llys y Garn, and wonders if she might be a servant of the devil, as ill falls all who would seek to take it from her.

The Dragon Slayer tells of Angharad, in the 14th century, who longs to escape from the brutality, pain and death of her father's house, and see the world.  

I didn't have a favourite; they're all as good as each other.  Beautifully written, marvellous stories.  This book reminded me, in subject matter and writing style, of Norah Lofts' books The House at Old Vine and A Wayside Tavern.  Can't recommend too highly.