#Review of Letters to the Pianist by S.D. Mayes. @authorMayes

I am thrilled today to be bringing you my review of Letters to the Pianist. So read on to find out what I thought.

Blurb:  In war torn London, 1941, fourteen-year-old Ruth Goldberg and her two younger siblings, Gabi and Hannah, survive the terrifying bombing of their family home. They believe their parents are dead, their bodies buried underneath the burnt remains – but unbeknownst to them, their father, Joe, survives and is taken to hospital with amnesia.

Four years on, Ruth stumbles across a newspaper photo of a celebrated pianist and is struck by the resemblance to her father. Desperate for evidence she sends him a letter, and as the pianist’s dormant memories emerge, his past unravels, revealing his true identity – as her beloved father, Joe. Ruth sets out to meet him, only to find herself plunged into an aristocratic world of sinister dark secrets.

Can she help him escape and find a way to stay alive?

Buy link: Amazon UK


My Rating: 5/5

Review:  This is a stunning book and I’m not sure my review will do it justice but here goes.  I don’t tend to read books set during wartime, they usually don’t appeal to me but this one did, the fact that it focused on a family rather than the actual battles helped.  As the blurb states, Ruth and her siblings believe their parents to be dead after a bomb hits their house. However, years later Ruth realises that a celebrated pianist is her father and sets about meeting him and trying to bring her family back together. 

While the reader knows the pianist is Ruth’s father from the beginning the story is told in such a way that makes it riveting despite already having that knowledge. We see how Ruth and her siblings, and her father, all cope in the aftermath of the bombing of their home. 

There are so many aspects to this story, all of which are handled very well.  The story takes place over a few years, beginning just before the bombing and progressing from there.  The characters all leap off the page at you and the realism with which they are written makes you feel for them, where appropriate, or, as in the case of one or two of them, they made my skin crawl and while I completely understood their parts in the book I felt a great deal of anger and loathing towards the characters themselves. Not bad for fictional people only alive in print!  

I don’t think my review is conveying just how amazing this book is. You get drawn into the story, seeing things from various points of view and thus just adds to the depth of the story itself.  This is a book I would highly recommend to anyone who loves reading. There are so many layers within the book that you can’t help but be engrossed.  If you do decide to read it then make sure you have plenty of free time because you won’t want to put it down. 


Author bio:  S.D. Mayes worked as a journalist for nearly twenty years before turning her hand to fiction. Inspired by her mother’s tragic memories of wartime Britain, along with the bizarre but factual events of Hitler’s pursuit of power, Letters to the Pianist is her first WWII suspense novel. Originally from the West Country, she currently lives in Berkshire, United Kingdom.

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#Review #BlogTour : The Wrong Side of Twenty Five by Kate Armitage @itskatearmitage @HelloChickLit

Release date: 28th December 2017

Blurb: With newsfeeds full of perfect pouts, hot-dog legs and the self-proclaimed hashtag-blessed, it’s hard not to feel inadequate. How has everyone figured out how to live their best life except you?
That’s what Kylie wants to know. She thought she would spend her twenty-fifth birthday having a mini-break not a mini-breakdown. After an evening of finger-food and snide remarks, Kylie decides that things must change. Naturally, Alexa disagrees. She doesn’t think anything needs to change and is quite happy plodding on with her best friend by her side. So, when everything changes for the better for Alexa, while it’s going from bad to worse for Kylie; will it tear them apart? 

Buy the Book:

Amazon (universal) Link: books2read.com/u/bpWNwX 

My Review:  I really enjoyed this book. As someone who has a significant birthday approaching (not 25, I’ve done that one already) I am also questioning how everyone seems to have their lives together except me,  so the blurb for this book resonated quite strongly with me and my life at the moment.  
This is a fun read while addressing an important question.  What do you do when you reach 25 and your life is not what you thought it would be? An important question because for so many, they ask themselves this at 25, 30, 35, 40, etc. You see the pattern. Many of us, myself include expect to be at a certain point by a certain age and for lots of us it doesn’t quite work out so it was quite refreshing to come across a book addressing exactly that. 

I know this is a work of fiction and not scientific research but in this story Kylie turns 25 and questions her life at that point. Her best friend Alexa is already 25 and seems to have negotiated it quite smoothly but for Kylie it brings about questions and change.  Change is a normal part of life, it’s how we handle it that makes the difference. Both characters have changes that happen but while Alexa copes with hers, Kylie seems to end up on a downward slope. 

This book shows us what friendship is, how easily things can be misinterpreted and what can happen when you get to the wrong side of twenty five.  As I’ve said it’s a fun read, the main characters are very realistic and believable.  This was a book I was happy to pick up again and again. (I could easily have read it in one sitting but work got in the way!)  I had fun with Alexa and Kylie, watching them make decisions and mistakes, cheering when they made the right decision and shaking my head in despair when they didn’t.  This is one of those books where I’d like to see a sequel but I think it would be really interesting to revisit them when they turn 30, I’d love to know where they will be in 5 years. 

Definitely worth a read, this book comes highly recommended by me. 

About the Author:

Kate Armitage is a writer from England who has three cats, two children and one husband. She lives an alarmingly conventional life which surprises everyone who speaks to her for more than five minutes. She spends her days knee-deep in play-doh and spends her nights elbow deep in manuscripts. Sometimes she lets the children also use the play-doh but only if they promise not to mix the colours.

You can find Kate on social media under @itskatearmitage or through her website http://www.katearmitageauthor.com.

#Play #Review : A Christmas Carol at Stirling Castle by Chapterhouse Theatre Company @chapterhouse_co @stirlingcastle

I don’t normally review anything except books but today I make an exception. Last night I went to see a showing of A Christmas Carol by Chapterhouse Theatre Company at Stirling Castle. It was so good I felt I had to review it and spread the word about this fabulous company and their amazing work so read on and see what I thought, along with a few pictures I managed to take during the night. 

Walking through this passageway we could see a little of the building the play would be held in. This is the Great Hall, the restoration of which was finished in 1999.

The hall is a stunning building with a massive vaulted ceiling which I couldn’t resist taking a picture of.

I’ve been to some Chapterhouse plays at the castle before but they were always outdoors in the summer so you have to provide your own seating. Last night, however, seating was provided for us. Once we had found suitable seats we took in the hall and the stunning set. 

And now for the play itself.  As I said this is not the first Chapterhouse play I’ve been to so I knew it would be good but this time it was not just good but stunning. I honestly couldn’t fault it at all. The performances from the actors were pitch perfect and, as far as I could tell, word perfect too. Even more impressive when you consider that many of them played more than one part. 

Bob Cratchitt, Fred and Scrooge
Fezziwig, Dick Wilkins, Ghost of Christmas Past and Scrooge
Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present

Some of the scenes were funny which I hadn’t expected. I loved the Ghost of Christmas Present, he was very much the most likeable of them all and very well played. Whereas the Ghost of Christmas Future was almost frightening when it appeared as it wasn’t quite was I was expecting. With it came some creepy, almost scary scenes which had even me feeling a little apprehensive.  

And, of course, the Ghost of Christmas Future with Scrooge

There were some quite moving scenes involving Tiny Tim during which you could have heard a pin drop, the atmosphere was like something I have never experienced before. No one moved, no one made a sound. It was like everyone was holding their breath waiting to see what happened next. 

Chris Gilbey-Smith was amazing as Scrooge but particularly at the end after all of the ghosts had visited.  It was as if he genuinely had changed as a person and wasn’t just acting a part. 

The full cast taking a very well-deserved bow.

I tried to get tickets to see this last year but by the time I did it was sold out. I am so glad I was able to get in this time as it was definitely worth the wait. Sadly the last showing is tonight at Stirling Castle again and it is sold out but Chapterhouse will be touring again in the summer and, hopefully, winter 2018.  For further information check out their website at www.chapterhouse.org and if you have the chance to go to any of their shows, go, they are definitely worth it, especially this one,  it was absolutely spell-binding! 

#BlogTour #Giveaway #Review : Murder on the Lake of Fire by Mikel J. Wilson @XpressoTours @mikelwilson

Today it’s my turn on the blog tour for Murder on the Lake of Fire. Below I have my review and a giveaway. 



Murder on the Lake of Fire
Mikel J. Wilson
(Mourning Dove Mysteries, #1)
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: December 1st 2017
Genres: LGBTQ+, Mystery, Romance

At twenty-three and with a notorious case under his belt, Emory Rome has already garnered fame as a talented special agent for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. His career is leapfrogging over his colleagues, but the jumping stops when he’s assigned a case he fought to avoid – to investigate an eerie murder in the Smoky Mountain hometown he had abandoned. This mysterious case of a dead teen ice-skater once destined for the pros is just the beginning. In a small town bursting with envious friends and foes, Rome’s own secrets lie just below the surface. The rush to find the murderer before he strikes again pits Rome against artful private investigator, Jeff Woodard. The PI is handsome and smart, seducing Rome and forcing him to confront childhood demons, but Woodard has secrets of his own. He might just be the killer Rome is seeking.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo


Rating: 4/5

My Review:  I really enjoyed this book. It’s a little bit of a departure for me being the first LGBTQ+ book I have read featuring men but the story synopsis intrigued me so I took a chance on it.  The story is of an unusual murder involving a teenage skater who was apparently talented and heading for the Olympics. Her death brings investigators from the TBI to the town where she lived and from there the story twists and turns and puts red herrings all over the place. 

Despite what I’ve just said this is not a massively twisting story, more one that is actually quite conventional if you are used to reading police procedural or detective stories. There are always twists and turns when new information comes to light and red herrings sent to send people off down the wrong track for a bit. In that this story is written really well. It moves at a steady pace and is written in such a way that you can feel, as a reader, that you are following the investigation as it happens. 

I liked the pace of this book. I liked that it didn’t leap from one day or one thing to the next which some books do and can be quite confusing. This one didn’t do this, rather it took you on a journey with it and I think that is one of the reasons I kept picking it up, despite the fact that I’ve been having a bit of a reading slump recently.  

The characters were obviously a major part of the story, from Emory Rome who doesn’t want to spend any more time in the town investigating than necessary to Jeff Woodward who is charming but mysterious, along with the supporting cast of Emory’s work partner, his family and the victims and their friends and family, etc. The characters are well-written and although I felt they could perhaps have had a little more depth to them this didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. 

This book is Mourning Dove Mysteries #1 which suggests there are more to come and I look forward to reading them when they are out. While I think this book could have been a little better, hence the 4 stars and not 5, I believe this can grow into a very enjoyable series that will end up on my list of series I read. You know the one I mean, the series where you get the next book without needing to know the blurb, that one. I can see these books ending up on that list and that is something I don’t say very often. 

Author Bio:

Mystery and science fiction author Mikel J. Wilson received widespread critical praise for his debut novel, Sedona: The Lost Vortex, a science fiction book based on the Northern Arizona town’s legends of energy vortexes and dimensional travel. Wilson now draws on his Southern roots for the Mourning Dove Mysteries, a series of novels featuring bizarre murders in the Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee.

Murder on the Lake of Fire, the first novel in the Mourning Dove Mysteries series, will be available December 1, 2017.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


GIVEAWAY!

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#Guestpost #BlogTour : Winter at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin. @jaxandwillsmum @HQDigitalUK

Today I am beyond thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Winter at Cedarwood Lodge, the compilation of the three novellas that make up the Cedarwood Lodge series.  As I’ve already read and reviewed all of them previously (you can find my reviews herehere and here) I decided not to write another review but instead I have a post from the fabulous Rebecca Raisin herself about Christmas songs. So read on, and enjoy!

Blurb:

Includes bonus material!

This winter it’s time to fall in love at Cedarwood Lodge…


After years of dreaming, Clio Winters is finally fulfilling her childhood dream of renovating the gorgeous old Cedarwood Lodge in Evergreen and turning it into the perfect destination for celebrations, weddings and extravagant birthday parties. The huge property used to be a bustling holiday camp, now Clio wants to bring it back to its halcyon days – which will be a lot of hard work!

 

Returning back to the small town of her youth she’s glad to have one of her best friends still around to lean on, Micah who is just as solid as he used to be. But with her own secrets pushing her to run from her glamorous life in New York, she’ll have to tread carefully, especially when the far-too-handsome-for-his-own-good contractor, Kai, shows up on her doorstep…

Sure she’s here in Evergreen to change her life, but there is no way she’s falling in love!

Previously published as three novellas.

Book Links: Amazon Amazon UK Amazon AUS | GooglePlay |iBooks Nook Kobo

Guest post:  Christmas soundtrack

It’s truly not Christmas until you’ve played carols on repeat, blubbered a little and got paper cuts from wrapping paper is it? In Winter at Cedarwood Lodge the carols have already started and they’re on a loop! So with the help of my lovely Facebook friends, I’ve come up with the ultimate playlist for Christmas! So make your mulled wine, turn on the Christmas lights and get ready to warble…

* Oh come all ye faithful

* Driving home for Christmas

* The Christmas Song

* Maria durch den Dormald ging

* Fairytale of New York 

* Little Drummer Boy

* When a child is born

* Have yourself a merry little Christmas 

* It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas 

* All I want for Christmas is you

* Santa Claus is coming to town

* Last Christmas 

* Auld Lang Syne

* Happy Xmas (war is over)

* Silent Night

* Amazing Grace 
Have I missed any? What’s your favourite Christmas song? Wishing you a safe and happy holidays! All the best, Bec xxx

Author Info:

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been published in various short story anthologies and in in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.

Author Links: Website Facebook Twitter Goodreads

Tour Schedule: http://tours.readingromance.com/2017/11/winter-at-cedarwood-lodge-by-rebecca.html


#BlogTour #Review : A Ragbag of Riches by James Chilton @authoright @AuthorightUKPR 

Today I am taking part in the blog tour for an unusual book, quite unlike what I normally review on here. So, read on and find out more about this unusual book. 

Blurb:  This collection of quips and quotes creates a book for the bower, the bedside, the bath and for browsing; a book at arm’s length from the deck chair, for the tedium of travel but above all for pleasure.

It is a haphazard collection: the Ragbag covering the rougher, even vulgar (but nevertheless witty) entries of graffiti, newspaper headlines and bumper stickers, the Riches being the poetry, prayers and prose of fine minds that inspire by their beauty, sincerity and sublime use of words. At the lower end, I love the astringency and ability of the authors to poke fun with the sharpness of a red-hot needle. At the top end, silver words and profound wisdom sometimes lead me to tears.

So I invite you to wallow or skip lightly. I hope there is something in this salmagundi to make you smile or catch the affections of your heart; to mingle quiet music with amiable irreverence. 
Purchase from Amazon UK  – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ragbag-Riches-assortment-wordy-delights/dp/1912262533/ 

 

Review:  My usual reads are novels so have a beginning, middle and end. Therefore, when the option to be on this blog tour appeared at the exact time that I was fancying something different I was intrigued.

This book is one of those that you can dip in and out of as the mood takes you. It is divided into chapters covering everything from generally humerous quotes and comments to ones covering life, death, politics and a variety of other subjects. 
The contents of each chapter are a mixture from funny to thought provoking pieces that make you stop and take stock and some are poems that make you slow down and feel more relaxed when you’re reading them. 

This is a tricky book for me to put into words simply because it is so different from what I’m used to but do not underestimate the brilliance of it. Whatever the situation there will be a quote or chapter relevant to it. It can be dipped into when you have a spare 5 minutes or when you want others perspectives on something. I may not have described it very well but this is a fabulous book that I will be read from for a long time to come. 
About the author: A grandfather of nine and a father of four, James Chilton lives with his wife and two labradors in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. He holds diplomas in Architectural History from Oxford University, in Design and in Plantsmanship from The English Gardening School and a certificate in the Decorative Arts from the Victoria & Albert Museum. Perennially busy, James draws, sculpts, designs gardens and jewelry and is a member of Bart’s Choir. He also a member of the International Dendrology Society and has lectured at the Royal Geographical Society and in Oxford. His first book, The Last Blue Mountain, was published in 2015.