The Vets at Hope Green – Shelia Norton

I have started another four part serialised novel and this time I am taken from city to country with Sam.

Her life as a receptionist in the city vets is okay but she wants more, she secretly would love to be a vet. But it has always been out of her reach. Sam seems to always be broke and lives in a poky flat and rarely gets any fresh air. Arguing with her boyfriends seems to be the norm and he isn’t that interested n the future either.

When she gets the opportunity to go and visit her Nana, she jumps at the chance to take stock of her life.

Staying with her Nan, she grows fond of the old dog Rufus who has given her Nan meaning and purpose since her husband died. It seems that Sam has arrived at the right time, to help with Rufus.

It is through this that she meets Joe, the local vet. He seems to have a great affinity with animals but his skills with dealing with humans is rather lacking. Sam and Joe clash.

But the Sam receives some news, which might mean she needs to return to London.

Back in London, Sam realises that life is not for her there. Her boyfriend is less than supporting and she realises how much she misses the countryside and the love that her Nana gives her, so unconditionally,.

Trouble is her Nana seems to have not been herself.

Step forward Sam and a little stray cat called Ebony. Sam has an idea which will solve not just some of her problems but her Nana’s as well.

However she has to encounter Joe again in and it seems that her skills as a receptionist could well be put to good use, for a while anyway as Sam has left  London with something else not just a little black cat.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to read these novellas, I look forward to the next two parts. 

Part One is out now and Part Two is published (for kindle) on 16 Feb. Parts Three and Four in March and April resepctively. 

If you want to wait until June, then you can read the novel as a whole – still in my opinion they best way to enjoy any story. 

Blog Tours

Just thought I would let you know about two three blog tours that are stopping by this blog in February and March.

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Deborah Burrows is a new author to me and this was a really good read.

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Trisha Ashley is one of my favourites and I was thrilled to be able to read her latest. If you love her work you will love this book.

A debut novel and one of the books of the year for me so far is The Chibury Ladies Choir

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Apple Tree Yard – Louise Doughty

I am late to the party in reading this book, I knew it was maknig a splash in the thirller genre when it was first published, but I simply passed it over. My only reason for picking it up now to read was because it was about to be broadcast on the BBC on a Sunday Night. And the reasoning, logical part of me likes to make comparisons.

For those who do not know the premise:

Yvonne Carmichael sits in the witness box. The charge is murder. Before all of this, she was happily married, a successful scientist, a mother of two. Now she’s a suspect, squirming under fluorescent lights and the penetrating gaze of the alleged accomplice who’s sitting across from her, watching: a man who’s also her lover. As Yvonne faces hostile questioning, she must piece together the story of her affair with this unnamed figure who has charmed and haunted her. This is a tale of sexual intrigue, ruthless urges, and danger, which has blindsided her from a seemingly innocuous angle. Here in the courtroom, everything hinges on one night in a dark alley called Apple Tree Yard.

Instantly you want to know what has happened, who are these people that you have let into your life and why are their actions as addicative as you are in reading this book.

But not everything is as it seems.

The story is pieced together, the parts revealed at different points, the reasons behind the actions are not necessarily in the order that you would expect. You have to keep reading to understand.

The actions of one will affect so many.

It is for the court to decide, it is for us as the reader to decide what we think Yvonne has done, we do not know for a long time, and for me the television adaptation successfully kept this element of the book in the first epsiode certainly.

The book is not for the feint-hearted, it is much stronger in description of some of the scenes depicted. It all adds to the plot, nothing in this book is put there just because the author can. It is there for a reason, to aid the story, to move it forward and to make us the reader question every action.

As the end comes closer, we learn more and it was here I felt that I had missed a vital part. What was the reasoning in Yvonne’s accomplice’s actions. It was never explained, we never got into their head. Does that leave me feeling disappoined or more intrigued. I guess that is why the book has hooked so many.

Have you read the book?

Have you seen the adaptation?

What do you think of the choice of actors?

 

The Cornish Guest House – Emma Burstall

We are first introduced to Liz and her daughter Rosie in Tremarnock. Now happily settled in the village and Liz having married the local restaurant owner, Robert and Rosie finding her way in life it seems that everything is going great at last.

Of course a village such as Tremarnock is not going to stay quiet for long and the arrival of a couple, Luke and Tabitha who have taken over the guest house. As outsiders from a big city, they seem a rather odd choice to settle into village life especially taking on a guest house. But Luke wants it to be the best guest house. Tabitha is just going along with everything and looking after her small child.

The locals cannot warm to Tabitha, she seems very distant and does not want to get involved Luke on the other hand seems to be everywhere in the village and is keen to embrace the life there. Everyone warms to him, but not Liz. Something about him does not sit right and no one seems to be listening to her.

Loveday on the other hand, is fed up with working in the restaurant with her uncle, and boyfriend Jesse and when she gets the chance to help Luke and Tabitha, it seems she might have found something she likes doing. Luke has other ideas for her and Loveday takes it all in her stride.

Life in the village goes along and we meet familiar characters from Tremarnock and get another glimpse into their lives.

For every action there is a reaction and all of a sudden the village is unsettled. Whilst I could see what was happening to some of the characters there was nothing I could do to stop the actions of some of them. How frustrating!

Whilst you could say the outcome was predictable, it was but that was because you knew what was happening as the reader, as the observer. Would we have been that perceptive if we were there? Probably not.

That is the beauty of Emma Burstall’s book she manages to take current issues, ones we have all heard about on the news, read about in the local paper, even experienced ourselves and put them into a novel which draws you in and holds you there until the very end.

I am more than intrigued as to where she is going to take us in her third novel and if the previous two are to go by; they will be thoroughly researched and plotted and without fault.

I cannot wait.

 

 

January Roundup

First month of 2107 gone. Done, dusted, put away. Surely it can only get better, brighter and warmer!

An average sort of month for reading, behind on my goodreads challenge already. which made me panic unnecessarily, because it is only the first month. However, I have throughly enjoyed all that I have read in January.

I caught up with Emma Burstall – The Cornish Guest House, I am a big fan of Emma’s work and probably should have read this when it first came out. Trouble is with authors I really like I tend to not want to read their books immedieatly as when you have done, you are bereft. I feel much the same about reading a Lucinda Riley novel.

Caught up in the hype of the new BBC Drama adaptation of Louise Doughty – Apple Tree Yard and having heard the beautiful Emily Watson be interviewed more than once, I had to read the book before it started on television. Gripping and so far the television is very much in the vision of the book I had when I read it.

What also was brought to life for me was Deborah Burrows – Ambulance Girls. A new author to me and I was asked whether I wanted to partake in the blog tour for the book. The setting is London in the Second World War, and the focus is on those that stayed behind and risked their lives while the bombs were reigning down. However there was a lot more depth to this book and I am looking forward to more in the series.

If you want comfort, easy reading then I normally turn to an author I know will provide that. Which is why I picked up Debbie Macomber – A Girl’s Guide to Moving On. It was one of a series which I did not realise, but it did not detract from the story. The book fulfilled what I wanted it to, but if you asked me to tell you what it was about I probably would struggle.

I have been rather request happy on netgalley in the last month, which is why I was suddenly at the recommended 80% feedback and now I am not. Like a child in a sweetshop looking at all the bright colours I was hooked by so many, and I think some might be of a similar ilk. However I started with Karen Clarke – The Beachside Sweet Shop. If the rest are as good as this, it will be great and I get my feedback percentage back up.

I have also picked up a book from my shelf that has been hanging around for a while which has been in complete contrast to everything else I have read this month Essie Fox – The Somnambulist. I am late to the Essie Fox party but that must mean I have a few to catch up on and enjoy.

So that was January – and I finish it reading another one of my requests from netgalley, which I can feel is going to be a stand out book.

 

 

Paula Daly – Top Tips for Budding Writers

 

My latest review was the latest book from Paula Daly – The Trophy Child. Whilst I have participated in the blog tour for this, I was a bit remiss in not publishing the fact but the lovely people at Penguin Random House and of course Paula herself has sent me some ‘tips for budding writers’ to support my review which was published on this blog on the 27 January.

Without further ado, I hand over to Paula:

Full disclosure: I could not have found the time to write when I had a full time job and a young family. Some people do. I am not one of them. I’ve read accounts of people getting up at four in the morning, writing a thousand words before work, to pursue their dreams of becoming a published author, but when my kids were small the best I could do was get a meal on the table each evening, and make sure they had clean uniforms to wear.

I started writing when, after a move to France, I was able to work part time when I returned to the UK. I have three children and my youngest would have been around three at the time. For me, the key to getting the words down on paper was carving out a decent amount of time in which to write. Say, an hour or so. So I got super-organised with everything else that needed doing around the house. Everything that could be done outside of that hour I did fast and efficiently, to protect the writing time. Then I would pick my youngest up from nursery, put him in front of the TV with some toys, jigsaws and a drink, and I would write in the next room for as long as I was able to.

Now that my kids are teenagers everything is easier. And now that I’m a fulltime novelist I no longer have to slot writing in around a day job. But I do employ a number of tricks to maximise my writing time. Here are my five top tips:

1)                          Plan your meals weekly and shop for groceries online. This whole process takes me twenty minutes per week using the Tesco app. I used to find grocery shopping for five frustrating and a colossal drain of my energy. Now I can have it delivered to my kitchen towards the end of my writing day. So I get the word count done and all I have to do is put the stuff away.

2)                          Don’t answer the phone. My extended family know that I don’t answer the phone if I’m working. I screen calls and if it’s not one of the kids, or their school calling, I don’t pick up. Relatives don’t think writing is a proper job and think you can stop and have a chat whenever you like. You can’t. Call them back when you’ve finished. Or else better still, call them and put them speakerphone when you’re doing something mindless like folding washing. Two birds etc.

3)                          Have a notepad handy. When I first started writing, I was bursting with ideas but I couldn’t get these ideas down on paper until my allotted ‘writing time’. So I would write notes all day: when the vegetables were boiling, when the kids were in the bath, when I was outside school waiting for them to come out. What I found was, when I did finally get down to writing, it felt more like I was taking dictation, as I had all of my ideas already formed.

4)                          Lose the guilt. To make a real go of this you’re probably going to have to put your writing before your kids a little more. And what I mean by that is, you may have to get rid of some of the extra-curricular activities. My youngest quite liked football and wanted to join a team…but we refused. I didn’t want to spend my weekends, rising early, driving thirty miles to stand in the freezing rain, when I could have been reading a book in bed instead. Because to be a writer you must read a lot. And you need the time to do it.

5)                          Once the kids are of an age when they can be left to play alone, tell them you’re writing and you’re not to be disturbed. They won’t care. Really, they won’t. And they won’t become damaged by your not spending ‘quality time’ with them either. Most kids don’t actually like quality time and would much rather be pleasing themselves than doing an activity that you deem to be a good use of their time.

Thanks to Paula, I hope it has inspired some people out there. If it hasn’t then remember all that hard work of Paula’s has gone into creating some cracking good reads – do check out The Trophy Child.

The Trophy Child – Paula Daly

Meet the Bloom’s. Noel is a GP, with a daughter Verity from his first marriage. His second wife Karen brought to the marriage a son Ewan. Both Ewan and Verity are teenagers and not exactly what Karen would call perfect children. But Bronte is 10 years old and is the daughter of Karen and Noel  and she will be the perfect child. She does every extra curricular activity possible, additional languages, music and her time is constantly taken up improving her education. Karen’s whole life is consumed in ensuring that Bronte is the best.

Bronte is being pushed to the limit.

Verity has tried to strangle Karen and is now receiving counselling.

Ewan is achieving nothing other than familiarising himself with drugs.

Noel is spending more time at his job and in hotel bars. He seems to be struggling with the situation he finds himself in.

Karen isn’t aware of anything other than her and Bronte.

This family is disintegrating in front of our eyes.

Then something happens, something perhaps expected but nonetheless frightening and the family disintegrates further.

However it is what happens next……

There is a uncertianty to this book, which adds to the plot and the pace of the novel, which are both excellent.

All of the characters are fully formed and within a shot space of time, I managed to feel sympathy and empathy as well as sheer loathing for them all. Their actions are played out in such a way as to lift right off the page. This is what kept me captivated as the book progressed.

I recommend this book as a good strong example of Paula Daly’s work.

The Trophy Child is published on 26 January.