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Showing posts from 2016

End of Year Book Survey 2016

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First of all, an apology. I haven't posted anywhere near as often as I'd have liked to this year, and I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't read as much either! At least my New Year's resolutions are easily decided this time. Anyway, as the New Year rolls around it's time to look back on my year of reading, and although my stats aren't as high as I'd like them to be, I have read some great books!


2016 Reading Stats
Number of books you read: 32
Number of re-reads: 0
Genre you read the most from: Historical Fiction
ShortestBook: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smith (215 pages)
Longest Book: Florence Grace by Tracy Rees (544 pages)


Best in Books
Best Book You Read In 2016?
Florence Grace by Tracy Rees. I just adored it. You can find my review here



Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
I was hugely exited about Kate Williams' novels about the de Witt family during the First World War, b…

Blog Revamp... and Bookstagram!

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There's been a few subtle changes going on here over the past few weeks. 'Good Friends, Good Books and a Sleepy Conscience' is no more! I'd never actually intended on keeping the name anyway, it was a sort of stop-gap until I decided what I actually wanted to call it  - a stop-gap that ended up lasting over two years!

After much deliberation my sister came up with the idea of Reading in Wellies (like Running in Heels but with farmers and books, geddit?)

The url is staying as lilmissvixreads for now - if anyone has any expertise on changing urls on over 200+ posts I would greatly appreciate it. Do I need to make custom redirects for all of them? Technology is hard.

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In other news, I've finally joined the wonderous world of instagram. You can find me there @readinginwellies.
I had no idea how many amazing bookstagrammers there are out there, and while I'm still very much a novice I'm loving all the beautiful book photography!

Cosy C…

Review: Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

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I've always been very interested in the life of Queen Victoria. It's hard not to be when you're named after her! So it was with some delight that I discovered ITV were making a television series all about her early years, penned by the wonderful Daisy Goodwin. Despite my initial frustration to discover that the majority of the series was filmed within an hour's drive of my house and I knew nothing of it, I was glued to my screen every night for the eight week duration (Captain Poldark had to wait for iPlayer).


So when I heard that Daisy had written a novel to accompany the series, complete with extra scenes, well I headed straight online to pre-order it. The cover is beautiful and perfectly fitting, and I dived right in as soon as it arrived.


"In June 1837, the eighteen-year-old Victoria wakes up to find that she is Queen of the most powerful nation in the world. But will she be queen in her own right, or a puppet controlled by her mother and the sinister Sir John C…

Review: Maestra by L.S Hilton

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A spectacular fraud in a London auction house. 

A barefoot lover running through the Paris streets. 

A colossal theft from a billionaire's yacht. 

A vicious murder under a bridge in Rome. 

They started it. she'll end it. 

WHO IS THE MAESTRA? 




Review
The simple yet deceptive blurb on the back of this novel is what drew me to read it.I had no idea what to expect, and it was nothing like I could ever have imagined.

Maestra comes with the tagline 'The Most Shocking Thriller You'll Read This Year'. I'll admit that I haven't read that many thrillers, but this is  certainly true for me. Maestra is unpredictable, graphic in every sense of the word and left me feeling very uneasy. I couldn't put it down. So I suppose that makes it a success.

Having looked at the reader reviews I'm surprised how many negative ones there are. Yes it's explicit, designed to shock, but Maestra is reflective of the baser aspects of human nature - lust and greed. Although the gratuit…

Review: The Girl on the Train

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Synopsis
Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She's even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. 'Jess and Jason', she calls them. Their life - as she sees it - is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It's only a minute until the train moves on, but it's enough. Now everything's changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she's only watched from afar. Now they'll see; she's much more than just the girl on the train...

Review
Last weekend I decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about. Less than 48 hours later and I knew. I daren't say too much for fear of giving anything away. True to form it's a thriller packed with twists and turns, and although I predicted pretty early on what the big twist was going to be, I was gripped to see how …

Film Review: Bridget Jones's Baby

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It was with some trepidation that I went to see Bridget Jones's Baby. In fact, and friend and I had previously written off the idea, as it surely couldn't come close to the cosy charm of the original (I tend not to think about Edge of Reason). However, as the positive reviews poured in curiosity won out and it was time to see for myself what the writers had come up with.

I was saddened not to see Richard Curtis' name on the credits, but equally delighted to spot Emma Thompson's. Her role in the film - which she may well have written with herself in mind - as Bridget's brilliantly deadpan doctor is a great addition to an already top notch cast. Aside from Hugh Grant's conspicuous absence it's lovely to see the whole original gang back together; Bridget's trio of best friends are all in check, with husbands and children in tow, and her parents - and her auntie Una - are all thankfully still alive and kicking. 

If you've seen the trailer you'…

Review: King's Knight by Regan Walker

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HE SEIZED LIFE BY THE THROAT

Dubbed the Black Wolf for his raven hair, his fierceness in battle and his way with women, Sir Alexander of Talisand attacked life as he did the king’s enemies. But acclaim on the battlefield and his lusty escapades did not satisfy. King William Rufus would bind him to Normandy through marriage to one of its noblewomen, but the only woman Alexander wanted was a commoner he had saved from a terrible fate.

SHE KEPT MEN AT BAY WITH HER BOW

The shame of being the child of a Norman’s rape dogged Merewyn’s steps from her youth. Determined never to be a victim of a man’s lust like her mother, in Wales she donned the garb of an archer and developed extraordinary skill with a bow. Despite her fair beauty, men now keep their distance. No longer in need of protection from other men, can Merewyn protect herself from Alexander when he holds her heart yet can never be hers?


Review 
Regan Walker's novels never fail to capture my imagination, to transport me to another t…

Review: If I Forget You by T.C Greene

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Synopsis
Twenty-one years after they were driven apart by circumstances beyond their control, two former lovers have a chance encounter on a Manhattan street. What follows is a tense, suspenseful exploration of the many facets of enduring love. Told from altering points of view through time, If I Forget You tells the story of Henry Gold, a poet whose rise from poverty embodies the American dream, and Margot Fuller, the daughter of a prominent, wealthy family, and their unlikely, star-crossed love affair, complete with the secrets they carry when they find each other for the second time. Written in lyrical prose, If I Forget You is at once a great love story, a novel of marriage, manners, and family, a meditation on the nature of art, a moving elegy to what it means to love and to lose, and how the choices we make can change our lives forever. 

Review
Compact, neat, beautiful. This is one book that you can judge by it's cover. Sure, the plot is nothing new, but whole novel is just bea…

Review: Late Summer in the Vineyard by Jo Thomas

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Synopsis
Working for a wine-maker in France is the opportunity of a lifetime for Emmy. Even if she doesn't know a thing about wine - beyond what's on offer at the local supermarket.

There's plenty to get to grips with in the rustic town of Petit Frère. Emmy's new work friends need more than a little winning over. Then there's her infuriatingly brash tutor, Isaac, and the enigmatic Madame Beaumont, tucked away in her vineyard of secrets.

But Emmy will soon realise that in life - just as in wine-making - the best things happen when you let go and trust your instincts. Particularly when there's romance in the air... 


Review
Pack up your suitcase, it's time for another holiday with Jo Thomas! Her books never fail to transport me to another place, with a wonderful cast of characters that by the novel's end you will consider friends.

Emmy may be a tad stereotypical as a chick-lit lead character, but her love interests most certainly are not, and my feelings towar…

Review: The Lavender House by Hilary Boyd

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Lavender House is the third and final installment of the Quercus Summer Reading Challenge.

Synopsis
Nancy de Freitas is the glue that holds her family together. Caught between her ageing, ailing mother Frances, and her struggling daughter Louise, frequent user of Nancy's babysitting services, it seems Nancy's fate is to quietly go on shouldering the burden of responsibility for all four generations. Her divorce four years ago put paid to any thoughts of a partner to share her later years with. Now it looks like her family is all she has.

Then she meets Jim. Smoker, drinker, unsuccessful country singer and wearer of cowboy boots, he should be completely unsuited to the very together Nancy. And yet, there is a real spark.
But Nancy's family don't trust Jim one bit. They're convinced he'll break her heart, maybe run off with her money - he certainly distracts her from her family responsibilities.

Can she be brave enough to follow her heart? Or will she remain glued to…

Review: The Girl With a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson

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George Foss never thought he'd see her again, but on a late-August night in Boston, there she is, in his local bar, Jack's Tavern.

When George first met her, she was an eighteen-year-old college freshman from Sweetgum, Florida. She and George became inseparable in their first fall semester, so George was devastated when he got the news that she had committed suicide over Christmas break. But, as he stood in the living room of the girl's grieving parents, he realized the girl in the photo on their mantelpiece - the one who had committed suicide - was not his girlfriend.


Now, twenty years later, she's back, and she's telling George that he's the only one who can help her...


Review
Boy meets old flame -his first love in fact- and she urgently needs his help. I'm hooked.

George is a kind of anti-hero, an average Joe thrown into circumstances far beyond his comprehension, and this isn't this first time that it's happened to him. He spends the majority of the…

Review: Florence Grace by Tracy Rees

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The second book in the Quercus Summer reading scheme is Florence Grace by Tracy Rees. I absolutely loved her debut novel Amy Snow, so I was really excited to read this! And I wasn't disappointed. Quite the oppsite in fact - Tracy has surpassed herself! Synopsis Florrie Buckley is an orphan, living on the wind-blasted moors of Cornwall. It's a hard existence but Florrie is content; she runs wild in the mysterious landscape. She thinks her destiny is set in stone.

But when Florrie is fourteen, she inherits a never-imagined secret. She is related to a wealthy and notorious London family, the Graces. Overnight, Florrie's life changes and she moves from country to city, from poverty to wealth.

Cut off from everyone she has ever known, Florrie struggles to learn the rules of this strange new world. And then she must try to fathom her destructive pull towards the enigmatic and troubled Turlington Grace, a man with many dark secrets of his own.



Review 
Avid readers will know the feelin…

Review: The Last Kiss Goodbye by Tasmina Perry

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The Last Kiss Goodbye is yet another wonderful novel from Tasmina Perry. In fact, I think it's my new favourite.

Synopsis
Everyone remembers their first kiss. But what about the last?

1961. Journalist Rosamund Bailey is ready to change the world. When she meets explorer and man about town Dominic Blake, she realises she has found the love of her life. Just as happiness is in their grasp, the worst happens, and their future is snatched away.

2014. Deep in the vaults of a museum, archivist Abby Gordon stumbles upon a breathtaking find. A faded photograph of a man saying goodbye to the woman he loves. Looking for a way to escape her own heartache, Abby becomes obsessed with the story, little realising that behind the image frozen in time lies a secret altogether more extraordinary. 


Review
I enjoyed Tasmina's last novel, The Proposal, so I was looking forward to reading this. Dual narrative seems to be Tasmina's style, with one strand set in the present and the other in the past de…

Review: Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley

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This year I'm delighted to be a part of Quercus Books' summer reading scheme #QuercusSummer. The first book I was sent to read was the beautiful Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley.

The cows certainly enjoyed it!



Synopsis
Cuba, 1958. Elisa is only sixteen years old when she meets Duardo and she knows he's the love of her life from the moment they first dance the rumba together in downtown Havana. But Duardo is a rebel, determined to fight in Castro's army, and Elisa is forced to leave behind her homeland and rebuild her life in distant England. But how can she stop longing for the warmth of Havana, when the music of the rumba still calls to her? 

England, 2012. Grace has a troubled relationship with her father, whom she blames for her beloved mother's untimely death. And this year more than ever she could do with a shoulderto cry on - Grace's career is in flux, she isn't sure she wants the baby her husband is so desperate to have and, worst of all, she's be…

Review: The Revelations of Carey Ravine by Debra Daley

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London in the 1770s is bursting with opportunity. It's a city fuelled by new ideas and new money, where everything is for sale - including entrée into the ruling class.

Making their way in this buccaneering society are Carey Ravine, a spirited young woman of enigmatic background, and her husband, the charming, endlessly enterprising Oliver Nash. Carey and Nash share a historic connection to India and a desperate ambition to better themselves. But as Nash's plans draw them into a restless association of gamblers and secret societies, Carey begins to question what's really hidden behind the seedy glamour of their lives. Her unease grows with the appearance of a mysterious man whose appearance unearths a troubling secret from the past. Carey finds herself forced to investigate the truth behind the stranger's claims­­ - and to confront her own illusions about herself.



It's refreshing to read a novel in this historical fiction genre centred around a married couple, albeit…

Review: Rebel Warrior by Regan Walker

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When your destiny lies far from where you began …

Scotland 1072

The Norman Conqueror robbed Steinar of Talisand of his noble father and his lands, forcing him to flee to Scotland while still recovering from a devastating wound. At the royal court, Steinar becomes scribe to the unlettered King of Scots while secretly regaining his skill with a sword.

The first time Steinar glimpses the flame-haired maiden, Catrìona of the Vale of Leven, he is drawn to her spirited beauty. She does not fit among the ladies who serve the devout queen. Not pious, not obedient and not given to stitchery, the firebrand flies a falcon! Though Catrìona captures Steinar’s attention, he is only a scribe and she is promised to another.

Catrìona has come to Malcolm’s court wounded in spirit from the vicious attack on her home by Northmen who slayed her parents and her people. But that is not all she will suffer. The man she thought to wed will soon betray her.

When all is lost, what hope is there for love? Can a broke…

Same book, different cover.

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Have you ever bought a book you've already read, just because it has a nice cover? Or, even worse, have you got multiple copies of the same book just because they have different covers? I'm guilty of both of these crimes and need reassurance that I'm not the only one!

This post was inspired by the paperback version of Anthony Horowitz's James Bond novel Trigger Mortis. I first read it last October when it came out in hardback (I reserved it at my local library to make sure I was one of the first to read it). I was pretty good, I enjoyed it, but promptly forgot about it. Until I spotted this beauty on my local supermarket shelf:


I picked it up and stared longingly at it before reluctantly putting it back. But I have a feeling it won't be long before it's on my bookshelf. 
You know the story inside will be exactly the same as the last time you read it, and that you probably won't even read it again for at least a couple of years, and yet you still want it. Becau…

Review: The Storms of War / The Edge of the Fall by Kate Williams

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The de Witt family saga is a series of books by the acclaimed historian Kate Williams. Likened to Downton Abbey and Atonement the first two novels in the trilogy (the third is yet to come) follow the de Witt family, German of origin now living in England, detailing their experiences during the Great War, and its subsequent aftermath.

The Storms of War

In the idyllic early summer of 1914, life is good for the de Witt family. Rudolf and Verena are planning the wedding of their daughter, Emmeline, while their eldest son Arthur is studying in Paris and Tom is just back from his first term at Cambridge. Celia, the youngest of the de Witt children, is on the brink of adulthood, and secretly dreams of escaping her carefully mapped out future and exploring the world.

But the onslaught of war changes everything and soon the de Witts find themselves sidelined and in danger of losing everything they hold dear. As Celia struggles to make sense of the changing world around her, she lies about her age…

Review: Disclaimer by Renee Knight

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Here's a confession - I actively avoid hyped novels. They rarely live up to expectation, and the more a book is pushed at me, the less inclined I am to read it. That said, when I spotted Disclaimer on the shelf of my local library I was

1) Very surprised that it hadn't been snatched up/reserved - I'd assumed the waiting list was a mile long!

2) Torn between leaving it on principle, or picking it up to see what all the fuss was about.

Suffice to say I chose the latter.

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Imagine if the next thriller you opened was all about you.

When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up and begins to read.

But as she turns the pages she is horrified to realize she is a key character, a main player.

This story will reveal her darkest secret.

A secret she thought no one else knew…


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Disclaimer was nothing like I expected it to be. But then, I'm not ent…

Review: The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan

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A few weeks ago I was kindly sent a proof copy of Kate Riordan's The Shadow Hour to review. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately went to my local library and checked out her first novel The Girl in the Photograph.


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When Alice Eveleigh arrives at Fiercombe Manor during the long, languid summer of 1933, she finds a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets. Sadness permeates its empty rooms and the isolated valley seems crowded with ghosts – none more alluring than Elizabeth Stanton, whose only trace remains in a few tantalizingly blurred photographs. Why will no one speak of her? What happened a generation ago to make her vanish?

As the sun beats down relentlessly, Alice becomes ever more determined to unearth the truth about the girl in the photograph – and stop her own life from becoming an eerie echo of Elizabeth's ... 


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I said in…

Review: The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

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I had previously read and enjoyed Lousie Candlish's previous novel The Sudden Departure of the Frasers. So when Lovereading offered up review copies of her lastest novel The Swimming Pool I jumped at the chance. The day it arrived, if you'll pardon the pun, I dived right in.

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 The swimming pool: a perfect stage. In the heady swelter of a London summer, the Elm Hill lido opens. For teacher Natalie Steele, the school holiday typically means weeks of carefully planned activities with her husband Ed and their daughter Molly. But not this year. Despite Molly's extreme phobia of the water, Natalie is drawn to the lido and its dazzling social scene, led by the glamorous Lara Channing. Soon Natalie is spending long, intoxicating days with Lara at the pool - and intimate evenings at her home. Natalie's real life begins to feel very far away. But is the new friendship everything it seems? Why is Natalie haunted …

Review: The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish

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I was looking through my review notebook (which in reality is an old notepad full of jumbled ideas and half-asleep handwriting), and found a handful of short reviews, some of which are only a few sentences, that have yet to see the light of day. Life has been getting in the way of blogging lately for me, so writing up these  thoughts on a few books seems like a good way to get back into the swing of things.

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My name is Amber Fraser. I've just moved in at Number 40, Lime Park Road. You'll come to think of me as a loving wife, a thoughtful neighbour and a trusted friend.

This is a lie.

When Christy and Joe Davenport are handed the keys to Number 40 on picture-perfect Lime Park Road, Christy knows it should be a dream come true. How strange though that the house was on the market for such a low price. That the previous owners, the Frasers, had renovated the entire property yet moved out within a year. That none of …

Review: Kate Riordan - The Shadow Hour

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*Thanks to Francesca Russell at Penguin Random House for sending me a proof copy of this book in exchange for a review!*

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Harriet Jenner is just twenty-one when she walks through the gates of Fenix House. Reeling from a personal tragedy, she doesn't expect her new life as a governess to be easy. But she certainly does not foresee the spell Fenix House will cast.

Almost fifty years later, Harriet's granddaughter Grace follows in her footsteps. For Grace, raised on Harriet's spellbinding stories, Fenix House is a fairy tale; a magical place suspended in time.

But the now-faded grandeur of the mansion soon begins to reveal the holes in Harriet's story and Grace finds herself in a place of secrets and shadows. For Fenix House hides truths about her family, and everything that she once knew is about to change...


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The plot of this novel instan…