Book Review – Bone China by Laura Purcell

Consumption has ravaged Louise Pinecroft’s family, leaving her and her father alone and heartbroken. But Dr Pinecroft has plans for a revolutionary experiment: convinced that sea air will prove to be the cure his wife and children needed, he arranges to house a group of prisoners suffering from the same disease in the cliffs beneath his new Cornish home. While he devotes himself to his controversial medical trials, Louise finds herself increasingly discomfited by the strange tales her new maid tells of the fairies that hunt the land, searching for those they can steal away to their realm.

Forty years later, Hester Why arrives at Morvoren House to take up a position as nurse to the now partially paralysed and almost entirely mute Miss Pinecroft. Hester has fled to Cornwall to try and escape her past, but surrounded by superstitious staff enacting bizarre rituals, she soon discovers that her new home may be just as dangerous as her last.

Published October 2019 by Raven Books UK

You know I’m a sucker for a pretty cover right? Well would you just look at this one. What an absolute beaut! There’s no way it wasn’t going to make it on my shelves.

WHY have I never read Laura Purcell’s books before! This creepy, gothic story was right up my street. A creepy old house, strange and eccentric characters, myth and folklore and a touch of the supernatural- Bone China ticked all the boxes ✅

I adored the atmospheric writing which richly evoked the isolated and wild setting and the sinister tension rippling throughout. I loved the myth and folklore littered throughout the pages. This is a perfect book for winter, demanding to be read with the curtains shut tight and the fire burning brightly.

Beautifully written and deliciously sinister and gothic, I enjoyed every unnerving and spine tingling moment of this book. 💙💙

 

#BlogTour #BookReview – Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys @TransworldBooks

img_1401England, September 1939
Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends. But as the sun beats down, poisonous secrets begin to surface. Suddenly Lily finds herself trapped with nowhere to go …

Australia, six-weeks later
The world is at war, the cruise liner docks, and a beautiful young woman is escorted onto dry land in handcuffs.

What has she done? 

Published in Paperback August 10th 2017 by Transworld (UK) 

 

I’d heard so many great things about Dangerous Crossing from bloggers whose tastes and recommendations I trust and respect, and had it marked as a must read. So when the opportunity to read and review as part of the paperback release blog tour arose I was right on board (Ha!) I am so glad too as THIS is exactly the type of book I love to read. Immersive from the very first page, it’s a book that takes you away to another time and place entirely for a few hours and I devoured it in one sitting.

Dangerous Crossing begins in July 1939 when Lily Shepherd boards the cruise liner Orontes for a five and half week journey to Australia. Escaping her past, she’s hoping for adventure and a new life as part of the governments assisted passage scheme for young girls prepared to work in domestic service. While she’s set to work as a maid when she arrives, those five weeks aboard the ship are an opportunity to enjoy leisure and luxury, see some of the world and mingle with the varied and intriguing mix of characters among the other passengers, hailing from all walks of life. But with the world on the brink of war, tensions are high and Lily is set to discover that she isn’t the only one among her new friends with secrets to hide and a past they’d rather forget.

I loved, loved, loved this book. Rachel Rhys’ writing is atmospheric and captivating, bringing the world-within-a-world of life on a cruise liner alive. The setting of Dangerous Crossing is fantastic, an ideal and genius way to represent the breaking down of social barriers and conventions happening around this time, while adding complexity and tension through the suspicion and mistrust stirring among the passengers as war appears imminent.  The rich cast of characters were intriguing and so vividly drawn I could almost see this book being acted out as I read. I also loved the author’s colourful depictions of the places the cruise liner visited, brought to life through the eyes of the somewhat naive and unwordly Lily.

The reader knows, from the beginning of the book, that when the ship finally reaches it’s destination, something awful has happened during the passage and a woman is led off in handcuffs,  but with so many people with secrets to hide, and tensions reaching boiling point over the course of the five week journey, I had no idea who or what had occurred and the need to find out kept me turning the pages. What I particularly appreciated was the subtlety of the intrigue, which complimented the time and setting of the book perfectly. This isn’t an edge of your set mystery, and nor should it be. It’s a deliciously scandal packed unfurling of secrets, leading to a shocking climax I was not in the least expecting!

Dangerous Crossing is undoubtedly one of my favourite books of the year. I’ve been distracted and struggling recently with concentration and suffering the dreaded slump. This book was the perfect anti-dote and I enjoyed every single page. Rich, evocative and intriguing from start to finish, this is one book you don’t want to let sail by!

Dangerous crossing

 

#Blogtour #Guestpost When The Future Comes Too Soon by Selina Siak Chin Yoke @midasPR

Today I’m welcoming author Selina Siak Chin Yoke to Cosy Books to tell us about the inspiration behind her new novel, When The Future Comes Too Soon. Over to you Selina…

When the Future Comes Too Soon: my inspiration, why and how I needed to tell the story 

SelinaI began writing out of desperation and a cherished dream. In 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Chemo took place over four months, during which I had a medical routine. When chemo ended I thought I would be better, but I felt worse. The ground beneath me seemed to have collapsed. I found no equilibrium – until I started writing. It was a miracle: the act of putting words into sentences transformed me. I remembered a dream I’d had of writing a novel loosely based on my great grandmother’s life. With every page I wrote, my strength returned. Writing saved my life.

Mei Foong’s story is an important one to tell in my new novel. Most people know what happened in WWII in Europe, but what happened in Asia is often overlooked. If the story has been told at all, it has often been from a colonial perspective – involving the resistance, for instance, the so-called tiny band of Force 136, which actually had little impact on the vast majority of Malayans. For most Malayans, the stresses of war were immense. I wanted to show what it was like for a local family and to tell the story from the perspective of a woman who is like many women of the time – strong without knowing it.

In writing historical fiction, historical accuracy is vital to me. I cross-check facts and use a mix of sources: archives, libraries, the Internet, anecdotes from interviews and subject experts. I also reflect the world as it was in my stories. In my debut novel, The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds, there are many children because families were large in those days. An early reader wrote in her review that I should have “kept to 5 children”. From a literary viewpoint that would have been easier! But it would have been unrealistic. I also made a decision not to dilute Asian names to make it easier for Western readers. We have to get used to Western names, and I don’t see why we should have to make our names simpler in literature.

When the Futures Comes too Soon by Selina Siak Chin Yoke is out now (Amazon Crossing) 

when the future comes too soon

In Japanese-occupied Malaya, lives are shattered and a woman discovers her inner strength in a world ravaged by war.

Following the death of their matriarch, the lives of Chye Hoon’s family turned upside down. Now that the British have fled and the Japanese have conquered, their once-benign world changes overnight.

Amid the turmoil, Chye Hoon’s daughter-in-law, Mei Foong, must fend for her family as her husband, Weng Yu, becomes increasingly embittered. Challenged in ways she never could have imagined and forced into hiding, Mei Foong finds a deep reservoir of resilience she did not know she had and soon draws the attentions of another man.

Is Mei Foong’s resolve enough to save herself, her marriage, and her family? Only when peace returns to Malaya will she learn the full price she must pay for survival.

 About The Author

Of Malaysian-Chinese heritage, Selina Siak Chin Yoke (石清玉) grew up listening to family stories and ancient legends. She always knew that one day, she would write. After an eclectic life as a physicist, banker and trader in London, the heavens intervened. In 2009 Chin Yoke was diagnosed with cancer. While recovering, she decided not to delay her dream of writing any longer. Her first novel, The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (The Malayan Series, #1), was published on November 1, 2016 and made an immediate emotional connection with readers. It debuted as an Amazon best-seller in historical fiction, was named by Goodreads as one of the 6 best books of November 2016 and has been compared to the work of Pearl S. Buck and Amy Tan.

Her second novel, When the Future Comes Too Soon (The Malayan Series, #2), was published on July 18, 2017. Readers can expect the same brand of immersive historical fiction, but each book in the series can be read independently. Be prepared for surprises! When not creating new characters for the Malayan Series, Chin Yoke writes a blog at http://siakchinyoke.com/blog.

 

#BookReview – Broken Branches by M. Johnathan Lee – @HideawayFall

Broken branches‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse. 

Published July 27th by Hideaway Fall (UK) 

 

 

I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Broken Branches – the blurb gives very little away, neither does the cover. I wasn’t even one hundred percent certain what genre this book would fall into! Was it a ghost story? A thriller? However, I was intrigued by this mysterious little book and wanted to give it a shot. I finally managed to read it a few days ago and despite some initial misgivings about whether this book was going to be something I’d enjoy, I ended up really liking it and kicking myself a little at not getting around to it sooner.

Broken Branches tells the story of Ian, current owner of the creepy and mysterious Cobweb Cottage. It’s been passed down the family for generations – always to the eldest living child of the former owner. However, Ian’s family history isn’t a happy one and has been beset by tragedy after tragedy – believed by many to be the result of a curse. As Ian decides to delve into the family’s murky past and solve the mystery of the curse, he finds himself drawn into a dark spiral of obsession and paranoia. Is he about to become the next victim of the relentless curse?

Right from the start this is a story that grips you, with beautifully atmospheric writing casting an eerie and foreboding spell. It’s told mainly from Ian himself, but in two time frames – both as a child growing up at Cobweb Cottage and as the current owner- a husband and father of a small son himself. I liked the opportunity to have glimpses into the family history from a more naive and uncertain younger Ian, and then fitting everything together with older Ian piece by piece.

The author does an amazing job of setting the scene, diverting attention and leading the reader down a path right until the very end, before turning everything completely on its head. There’s an unsettling and suspenseful tension throughout with a deliciously Gothic air that had me glued to the pages. Broken Branches surprised me – both in how much I actually enjoyed it and by the story, which took a turn I wasn’t expecting in the slightest and caused me to gasp out loud. A short book, this one is ideal for the coming dark autumn evenings, to curl up beside a warm fire with – although it may leave you jumpingly unnerved as the wind whistles outside!

(I read an advance proof courtesy of the publisher)

#BookReview – The Silk Weavers Wife by Debbie Rix (@Bookouture)

the silk weavers wife‘On the way back down the grand staircase to the hall, her eye was caught by a portrait, hanging in a particularly dark corner of a landing. It was of a young woman, seated at an easel; she was painting a silk moth, its eggs nestling on a mulberry leaf.’

1704: Anastasia is desperate to escape her controlling and volatile father and plans to marry in secret. But instead of the life she has dreamed of, she finds herself trapped in Venice, the unwilling wife of a silk weaver.

Despite her circumstances, Anastasia is determined to change her fate…

2017: Millie wants more from her relationship and more from her life. So when her boss Max abruptly ends their affair, she takes the opportunity to write a feature in Italy.

Staying in a gorgeous villa, Millie unexpectedly falls in love with the owner, Lorenzo. Together they begin to unravel an incredible story, threaded through generations of silk weavers.

And Millie finds herself compelled to discover the identity of a mysterious woman in a portrait…

Published July 19th 2017 by Bookouture (Uk) 

When I read historical fiction, what I really, really want is to be completely transported to another time and place. I want rich and evocative description, an epic journey of discovery, awe inspiring battles against adversity and a romance to sweep me away. The Silk Weavers Wife fits the bill pretty damn well!

Switching between past and present, the book tells the story of two women in the midst of a metamorphosis. In the 21st century, Millie is 38 and in the midst of a messy affair with her married boss and her dreams of a family of her own are starting to fade. Rewind four hundred years, and Anastasia has been denied marriage to her true love by her cruel and violent father and forced into a loveless marriage to pay off a debt.

I absolutely adored the sections set in the 1700’s as Debbie Rix brings to life the sights and sounds of  early eighteenth century Italy – transporting the reader effortlessly between the rural tranquility of Lake Garda and the bustle and noise of Venice. Anastasia is everything you want in a heroine – brave, passionate and determined to be independent. Given the time and her gender, Anastasia might easily have accepted her fate, but she can not be contained, and inspired by the silk moths she observes while a prisoner in her husbands home, she sets about a metamorphosis into an educated, self sufficient woman of talent, with a strong sense of loyalty.

Millie is somewhat of a contrast. Her trap is of her own making and I found it frustrating that despite being an intelligent woman, she was settling for being the mistress of the unbearably arrogant Max. But whether the prison is enforced or self inflicted, this book is about finding the courage to make changes and transform your own destiny, and ties together nicely the stories of both women.

In both past and present, I found the backdrop of the Italian Silk industry fascinating and absorbing! From the larvae of the silk moth to the exquisite finished pieces of silk, I was intrigued. I can only imagine the dedication and work that went into creating such beautiful material using ancient processes and thoroughly enjoyed learning a little about it.

I enjoyed The Silk weavers Wife, in particular Anastasia’s section, and found myself completely absorbed and enchanted while reading about her life. I also thought the romantic element was done very well, both in past and present, and was enough to sweep the reader up in without overshadowing this gorgeous story. With beautiful descriptions, a brave and inspiring heroine and the fascinating glimpse into the ancient art of silk making, I savoured this book and looked forward to a chance to pick it up again. A winner for me.

(I read an E-copy courtesy of the publisher and netgalley)

 

#BookReview The Vanishing Of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase @MichaelJBooks

tvaw*** From the author of the immensely popular Black Rabbit Hall, comes Eve Chase’s new novel The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde *** 

From the present day . . . 

Applecote Manor captivates Jessie with it promise of hazy summers in the Cotswolds. She believes it’s the perfect escape for her troubled family. But the house has an unsettling history, and strange rumours surround the estate.

to the fifties . . .

When teenage Margot and her three sisters arrive at Applecote during the heatwave of ’59, they find their aunt and uncle still reeling from the disappearance of their daughter Audrey five years before.

The sisters are drawn into the mystery of Audrey’s vanishing – until the stifling summer takes a shocking, deadly turn. Will one unthinkable choice bind them together, or tear them apart?

Step back in time for a richly evocative mystery, where the beauty of a Cotswolds summer is vividly contrasted with the violence which shatters it. 

Published 13th July 2017 by Penguin (UK)  

If you follow me on social media then there’s a good chance you’ve heard me shouting my love for this book over the last couple of days. I make no apologies – I adored it. You know that feeling when you settle down with a book and immediately know you’re going to love it? The Vanishing Of Audrey Wilde is one of those books and I savoured every single word.

The book is told in two, alternating time frames. Jessie in the present day is the second wife to a man who lost his wife in tragic circumstances and step mother to resentful and distant Bella. She’s never felt good enough as a replacement for Bella’s mother but hopes a move to the country will cement them as a family and banish the ghosts of the past. Bewitched by the stunning but derelict Applecote Manor, Jessie is convinced this is the place to bring them all together. But Applecote Manor has ghosts of it’s own…

The second time frame is 1959. Margot Wilde and her three sisters have been sent to live with their Aunt and Uncle at Applecote. The girls are intent on enjoying one last, glorious summer together before the eldest, Flora, leaves for Paris. But a sadness hangs over Applecote, in the memory of Audrey Wilde – the sisters beloved cousin who vanished mysteriously several years ago.

The alternating chapters of past and present compliment each other so well in this book. In the present, both Jessie and Bella are struggling to lay the ghost of her mother to rest, while in the past it’s the conspicuous absence of Audrey who haunts the Wilde sisters. The theme of loss and grief holding back and impacting the living runs throughout both periods, as does the need to let go to allow moving on.  There’s also a strong sense of coming of age in both era’s as well. Margot, ever overshadowed by her vivacious sisters struggles with her own identity, while Bella is caught up in grief at the loss of her mother and unable to forgive Jessie for taking her place. Despite there being sixty years between them, both girls are mesmerised by the missing Audrey and what happened to her.

The mystery surrounding Audrey is fascinating and had me gripped, I desperately wanted to know what had happened to her. Eve Chase’s beautifully, descriptive writing is so evocative that I could feel the heat and atmosphere of the scorching 1959 summer, almost see the haze of the sun and feel the excitement and nervous tension in the air as the Wilde sisters attempt to make this the summer of their lives, while the secrets and fate of their cousin hangs over them oppressively. In the present, there’s a tangibly cold, eerie and empty feeling to the house as Jessie tries to bring it back to life, with the suggestion of secrets being revealed around every corner.

The Vanishing Of Audrey Wilde is quite simply, stunning. It has that deliciously gothic vibe of family secrets with a haunting house at it’s center. It envolopes you in beautiful prose and transports you completely to a different time, while the mystery of what happened to Audrey will keep you gripped. I was captivated by this book, snatching any chance I could to loose myself in it. One of my favourite books this year, I can’t recommend it enough and will continue to do so to everyone I know!

(I read an advance ecopy courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley)

 

 

 

#Blogtour #Bookreview The Wardrobe Mistress by Natalie Meg Evans @Quercusfiction @NatMegEvans #TheWardrobeMistress

the wardrobe mistressFrom the award-winning author of The Dress Thief comes a love story set in the glittering world of London theatre. Perfect for fans of Gill Paul and Lucinda Riley.

London 1945. A young war widow steps aboard a train in search of a new life. Clutching the key to a mysterious inheritance, Vanessa Kingcourt can no longer resist the pull of the old Farren Theatre – an enchanted place seeped in memories of her actor father.

Now owned by troubled former captain Alistair Redenhall, The Farren is in need of a Wardrobe Mistress and a new lease of life. With no experience and no budget for supplies, Vanessa must use her intuition to create beautiful costumes from whatever scraps of silk and thread survived the blitz. It’s a seemingly impossible task, but a welcome distraction as she struggles to resist her blossoming feelings for Alistair.

What Vanessa discovers could unravel family secrets sewn deep into the very fabric of the London theatre scene . . . but will she repeat the same terrible mistakes her father made? And can she dare to love a man who will never be hers? 

Published August 10th 2017 by Quercus (UK)  

I absolutely adored the look and sound of this book. That cover is so evocative of the time it’s set in, and with the fascinating theater setting and the promise of a long held secret I was really looking forward to immersing myself in this novel.

The Wardrobe Mistress begins with a six year old Vanessa visiting the theater with her father and being mesmerised by the beautiful and mysterious atmosphere. When her father takes her backstage to meet the wardrobe mistress, Eva St Clair, Vanessa is bewitched. Years later, after serving in the WAAF, Vanessa is drawn back to the Farren theater and takes on the role of wardrobe mistress herself. But she’s about to discover her connections to the theater run deeper than she ever imagined as she goes on a journey to find out who she really is.

The first chapter of this book sets a wonderful atmosphere as, through the eyes of a young Vanessa, the reader is introduced to the glamour and wonder of the theater. Vanessa’s father is enigmatic and mysterious, even more so as he disappears shortly afterwards back to the world of the theater and it was clear there was an intriguing secret to unfurl in the coming pages and I settled down to absorb it.

The book is full of wonderful descriptions of vivacious and larger than life characters, however it was the ill fated romance between Vanessa and the suave and serious Naval Commander come theater owner, Alastair, which really captured my imagination. This is a romance which blossomed slowly, beginning with animosity but dripping with chemistry and made all the more irresistible due to it’s seemingly impossibility.

I loved the scenes set in the theater environment, both when Vanessa is a young girl and later as an employee. I did find the pace of the book slowed down quite early on, while Vanessa serves in the WAAF, and I worried that I wasn’t going to love this book as much as I’d hoped. However, this stage is only very brief and as Vanessa embarks on her career in the theater and secrets and intrigue are slowly revealed, I became hooked again and particularly enjoyed the final third of this book.

The Wardrobe Mistress is a fascinating glimpse into the world of theater in the post war years, as attitudes and fashions change and make way for a new generation of theater employees and audiences. It’s filled with mystery and atmosphere – I was desperate to know what secrets were held by the key given to Vanessa and why her mother had seemingly turned her back on her. I was also caught up in the thrilling intensity of the romance between the two main characters as they danced around each other, trying and failing to deny their attraction. This is the first book I’ve read by Natalie Meg Evans, I think I’ve been missing out and will certainly be looking out for more in the future!

(I read this book courtesy of the publishers)

the wardrobe mistress bt

 

 

Six In Six – A Look Back At Some Of My Top Books Of 2017 So Far…

6 I saw this over at Cleopatra Loves Books, and thought it was a great idea to look back at books read so far in 2017. Hosted by Jo’s Book Journey, the idea is sharing 6 books, in 6 categories from the first half of the year. So here’s my choices:

6 Books I Have Enjoyed The Most 

 

 

6 Psychological Thrillers I Have Read & Enjoyed 

 

 

6 New To Me Authors 

 

 

6 Covers I’ve Loved

 

 

6 Books Which Took Me To The Past 

 

 

Six Books I Own & Can’t Believe I Haven’t Managed To Read Yet