Archive | October, 2016

Book review: The Witches of New York by Ami McKay

31 Oct

witches of new yorkThe year is 1880. Two hundred years after the trials in Salem, Adelaide Thom (Moth from The Virgin Cure) has left her life in the sideshow to open a tea shop with another young woman who feels it’s finally safe enough to describe herself as a witch: a former medical student and gardien de sorts(keeper of spells), Eleanor St. Clair. Together they cater to Manhattan’s high society ladies, specializing in cures, palmistry and potions–and in guarding the secrets of their clients. All is well until one bright September afternoon, when an enchanting young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at their door seeking employment.

Beatrice soon becomes indispensable as Eleanor’s apprentice, but her new life with the witches is marred by strange occurrences. She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Objects appear out of thin air, as if gifts from the dead. Has she been touched by magic or is she simply losing her mind? Eleanor wants to tread lightly and respect the magic manifest in the girl, but Adelaide sees a business opportunity. Working with Dr. Quinn Brody, a talented alienist, she submits Beatrice to a series of tests to see if she truly can talk to spirits. Amidst the witches’ tug-of-war over what’s best for her, Beatrice disappears, leaving them to wonder whether it was by choice or by force.

As Adelaide and Eleanor begin the desperate search for Beatrice, they’re confronted by accusations and spectres from their own pasts. In a time when women were corseted, confined and committed for merely speaking their minds, were any of them safe?

It’s no secret that I love books about witches so when I saw The Witches of New York I jumped at the chance to review it. I’d heard very good things about Ami McKay’s earlier novels (bestsellers The Birth House and The Virgin Cure) so between that and the intriguing cover with its wonderful tagline, ‘Those averse to magic need not apply’, I couldn’t wait to get reading!

At over five hundred pages The Witches of New York is a weighty novel but I flew through it and unusually for a book of this length, my attention didn’t wander at all – I was absolutely gripped by Ami’s descriptions of New York in 1880 and the beautifully described story of three very different women finding their place in a rapidly changing society had me captivated.

The UK paperback edition from Orion I is just wonderful and I loved the illustrations, stories and ephemera included in it. Adelaide, Eleanor and Beatrice’s story is accompanied by news articles, advertisements, letters, extracts from Eleanor’s Grimoire and more. The inclusion of snippets from the time made the story feel very real and I also enjoyed the stories within the story that are included – especially the legends and fairytale The Princess Who Wished to Be a Witch.

I’m publishing this review on Halloween because what better day to be talking about witches? But I want to stress that this book is not just for Halloween! McKay cleverly weaves social history, medicine, religion, folklore and mystery to create a story that is as much about women’s rights and the prejudices of society as it is about magic and ghosts. By setting her story against the backdrop of the erection of Cleopatra’s Needle in Central Park, Ami highlights the fascination of society at the time with magic and the occult. Through her characters she shows the many variations on the theme and highlights the often shocking treatment of women just because of their gender.

From a Gentleman’s society taking a philosophical and scientific approach to communicating with the spirit world to the female inmates of the local asylum via disabled veterans and prostitutes, urchins, suffragists and church preachers; Ami McKay centers her characters in a vivid and complex world. My favourite parts of the book were those set at the wonderfully named teashop that Eleanor and Adelaide run – Tea and Sympathy and I enjoyed reading about the different types of ‘magic’ worked there be it comfort to the heartbroken, courage or hope or just good company.

With history, mysteries, murder, love, romance and magic; this book has something to offer so many readers and I cannot recommend it highly enough as the perfect read to curl up with this autumn.

5/5

The Witches of New York is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Orion.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Find out more about Ami Mckay and her writing at: http://amimckay.com/

 

Guest Book review: Sisters at War by Milly Adams

29 Oct

It’s a little while since I’ve had a guest review from my lovely Mum on the blog but I’m delighted to say she’s back with her thoughts on Milly Adams’ new novel, Sisters at War.

milly adamsBryony and Hannah are sisters, but they couldn’t be more different, and war has brought even more of a rift between them. Bryony is happiest where her family and loved ones are – at Combe Lodge, the family home – and these uncertain times have brought them all closer together. But Hannah is young and headstrong. No one will stop her from doing what she wants – and this time she’s decided to flee to Jersey.

Even though Hannah has left, at Combe Lodge, everyone else is pitching in with the war effort. The family home fills with evacuees and Bryony is doing her bit, flying planes at the nearby Combe Lodge Airlines.

But despite all that is going on with war, Bryony knows that above everything she needs to reach out to Hannah. Only she will be able to keep her flighty younger sister’s feet on the ground. But is Bryony too late to help her? Will Hannah ever come home?

Bryony or Bee, as she is known to her friends and family loves nothing more than to be up in the air and flying free as a bird. As the story begins in May 1940, she continues to run her small airline business, with her uncle, ferrying passengers and goods to Jersey, holidaymakers too and whilst there, visiting her ailing mother who has gone to the Island to help her recovery, along with Bryony’s younger sister Hannah who classes herself as an artist.

As the story unfolds it becomes clear that Hannah has a hold over her elder sister, by frequently insisting that she honours their father’s dying wishes – to always take care of her. Adam provides a focus throughout the story, as the rock solid ‘mate’ that Bryony grew up with. Although, as the plot develops he takes up a much different role.

I found this book an emotional read through some very trying times and it pulled on my heart strings. I was keeping everything crossed, that the outcome will result in a ‘ Happy ever After’. Milly Adams does an excellent job of portraying family life and life in general, throughout the traumas and sadness that conflict brings. She cleverly keeps the human touch and the reader ‘knows’ the characters so well – but the story is never lost – people and their emotions and feelings stay at the forefront of this lovely book.

The true price of war is evident in many scenarios throughout the book for example in Dunkirk. I found the descriptions so are so real and so poignant. There are many situations throughout the story which set the reader with challenges to their way of thinking – what would they do if faced with the same situation? Bearing in mind the book is set in the 1940’s and not modern day, where tolerance of others is much more liberated.

Hannah, whose character portrays her selfish immaturity, finds herself faced with perhaps one of the toughest decisions she will ever be faced with – the question of how deep is family love? Enveloped in the deep seated emotions of this book we meet characters such as Cissie – a young refugee with heartbreaking issues of her own, Cissie’s sister Wendy and the wonderful supporting family at Combe lodge, the setting for much of the story.

In diary format the book goes between life in England and life in Jersey – tied together by family, but presenting very different challenges.

A lovely read!

5/5

Sisters at War is out now from Arrow in paperback and ebook formats.

We’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Find out more about Milly and her writing at: http://www.millyadams.co.uk/

Book review: Searching for a Silver Lining by Miranda Dickinson

20 Oct

searching for a silverIt began with a promise . . .

Matilda Bell is left heartbroken when she falls out with her beloved grandfather just before he dies. Haunted by regret, she makes a promise that will soon change everything . . .

When spirited former singing star Reenie Silver enters her life, Mattie seizes the opportunity to make amends. Together, Mattie and Reenie embark on an incredible journey that will find lost friends, uncover secrets from the glamorous 1950s and put right a sixty-year wrong.

Miranda Dickinson has done it again! Searching for a Silver Lining is a beautiful, nostalgic, hopeful and uplifting read that will inspire you to go out and grab life! I love the positivity that Miranda always shows in her blogs, vlogs and tweets and that comes through in buckets in this book – it’s my new favourite of her books!

The setting and background to the story ticked all the boxes for me. I love history and particularly vintage fashion and household items. Like Mattie in this story, I also love the 1950s and this book evoked so many memories for me and that’s why I think it’s such a special read. I smiled as Mattie described a jewellery box just like one I had when I was a little girl and the singers and bands that Mattie and Reenie discuss were the backdrop to my own childhood as my Dad is a big fan of 50s music. Each chapter has a song as it’s title and if you have chance you really should play them – they add a fun extra dimension to the book.

As we meet Mattie, she’s going through a tough time; her relationship has broken up and her beloved Grandpa has recently died, the pain of which is made worse as they had fallen out and Mattie wasn’t given the chance to say goodbye. Determined to make amends, Mattie says yes when she’s asked to run a memory evening at a local retirement village. It’s at this evening whilst the residents are reminiscing about their younger days that Mattie meets Reenie Silver – a 1950s singing star  who is also keen to make amends for a wrong commited 60 years earlier.

I loved the combination of Mattie and Reenie – they make such a fun double act and are often have reactions that are the reverse of what you would imagine! Reenie made me laugh so many times as I read with her quick quips, sense of fun and adventure and amazing stories. Mattie is often more cautious and less likely to take risks and I enjoyed reading as the two taught each other a few life lessons.

Searcing for a Silver Lining took me through all the emotions as I read. As Mattie and Reenie embark on a road trip around the UK to right past wrongs there were surprises, tears, drama and pure comedy moments and the story kept me gripped from first page to last. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Alnwick, Bath, Cambridge and the Brecon Beacons with Mattie and gang. I also loved the diary extracts from 1956 written by Mattie’s Grandpa Joe and the combination of Mattie, Joe and Reenie’s stories had me hooked.

As with all of Miranda’s novels, there’s a wonderful feeling of community and family to this story and this shines through even in the sadder moments. There’s also a lovely message about second chances and that its never to late to make amends. Searching for a Silver Lining is a fabulous book to curl up with this winter and there are lots of lovely little extras at the back of the book including a Q&A with Miranda, cocktail recipe and play lists!

5/5

Searching for a Silver Lining is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Miranda and her writing at: https://miranda-dickinson.com/

Author interview: Herta Feely

19 Oct

Please join me in welcoming author Herta Feely to One More Page today to discuss her debut novel, Saving Phoebe Murrow. Herta is a writer and full-time editor. In her previous work, she was a journalist, press secretary and activist, co-founding Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization dedicated to saving children from unintentional injuries. Herta has received the American Independent Writers’ award for best published personal essay. She now lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and two cats, Monty and Albert. She has two sons, Jack and Max. Welcome Herta!

Feely, HertaYour new novel, Saving Phoebe Murrow is released on 20th October; please could you tell us a little about it and what inspired you to write it?

The story revolves around a cyber-bullying episode focused on 13-year-old main character, Phoebe Murrow. The novel was inspired by an article I read in 2008 about Megan Meier (a 13-year-old girl in Missouri), who killed herself after a similar event carried out on MySpace. It turned out that the boy who initiated the cyber-bullying against Megan was actually a 47-year-old woman (Lori Drew), the mother of a former friend of Megan’s, who wanted to know what Megan might be saying about her daughter, Sarah.

It was shocking to me that a mother was capable of such meanness and I wanted to write a novel to understand how someone could do this.

As a latecomer to social media, I was also intrigued by this method of communicating. How MySpace or Facebook or Twitter (and all the rest) could go from being a friendly venue to a vicious and destructive one, and how easily people can make nasty comments when not having to face the person they are aiming their darts at.

I don’t believe that teens fully appreciate the consequences of their posts when they are cruel or vindictive. Nor can they handle the 24/7 nature of social media when the messages are negative. It’s difficult enough for adults to deal with.

The novel centres on a relationship between a mother and her daughter; how to you feel your own experiences as a Mum and daughter fed into the book?

This question makes me smile, because usually people ask me how I could write such a novel when I’m the mother of two sons. But I think your question is the better one. As for the first part, I had a rather difficult relationship with my own mother and much of that is illustrated in the relationship between Phoebe and her mother, Isabel, though I do think many girls, even those with much better mother/daughter relationships, experience various aspects of feeling not understood, not appreciated, and so on in their teen years. There’s also the natural separation that occurs between children and their parents during the teen years, which is a difficult phase for parents to navigate. As for the second part, I believe that I was the kind of Mum who was sometimes a bit too strict and then too lenient, hence a dollop of Isabel and a smidgeon of Sandy. I was far from perfect, believe me, though at all times, like most parents, I very much loved my children and believe my husband and I taught them (and hopefully role-modeled) the important values in life.

To introduce them to us, please could you sum up Isabel and Phoebe in 5 words each.

Isabel: loving, concerned, rigid, overly protective

Phoebe: smart, kind, creative, sensitive, vulnerable

 

Which character did you find most difficult to write and how did you overcome these challenges?

To be honest I didn’t find it difficult to inhabit any of my characters. While one might imagine, after reading the novel, that it was difficult for me to write Sandy, in fact her sometimes misguided way of thinking flowed quite readily. I’m not sure why. Perhaps we all have aspects of ourselves that are contradictory, inconsistent and not so readily understood. Some of writing fiction is a bit of a mystery and I believe this is what keeps the writing fresh and makes for interesting reading. Most authors don’t simply manipulate their characters to do this and that – I know I don’t. I feel more like a channel for them to express themselves through.

 

Saving Phoebe Murrow is a frightening story of the dangers faced by children growing up in a social media world. What Saving Phoebe Murrowresources would you recommend for parents who are concerned about the themes raised? 

I would first and foremost recommend that parents go online and look up any question they might have about social media. That’s what I’ve done and I’ve found amazing amounts of articles on the various topics as well as dozens of organizations dedicated to teaching parents, children and educators about online safety. I think it’s absolutely critical for parents to understand and be aware of the many social media platforms or apps available to children and teens. And to know their positives and also their risks, because there are many. (I recently looked this up and stumbled onto an article that outlines 16 different social media apps, which age group they targer, and what the risks are.)  All this is unfamiliar territory for many of us parents because we didn’t grow up with social media, but with the widespread use of electronic devices, social media and Internet use is now firmly part of every child/teen’s world and it’s terribly important for us to know that world. I hope I don’t sound like I’m scolding or proselytizing, but I’m afraid not familiarizing ourselves is tantamount to not caring about what food we feed our children. A few resources you might start with: http://www.meganmeierfoundation.org
What would you like readers to take away from the book?

First, I’d like readers to thoroughly enjoy the read. And, second, I hope the novel stimulates conversations about everything from parenting to social media use, from mother-daughter relationships to mean girls and the impact adult behavior has on our children.

And finally; what can we expect next from Herta Feely?

I’m happy to report that I’m firmly ensconced in my next novel, All Fall Down (working title), in which Charlotte Cooper, a human rights activist, is about to reach the pinnacle of her career as the head of a human rights organization based in London. Her past catches up with her, though, and the job becomes elusive. The spotlight occasionally shines on human rights violations and artifact destruction in the Middle East as we discover Charlotte’s past and who she truly loves. (I was a bit surprised to discover that this novel is as much a love story as a female crusader story.)

Thanks Herta!

Saving Phoebe Murrow by Herta Feely is published by Twenty7 on 20th October in paperback and ebook formats.

 

Short story spotlight: Comfort and Joy by Cathy Bramley

13 Oct

comfort and joyIt’s been a busy year for Verity Bloom at the Plumberry School of Comfort Food, but Christmas Eve is finally here. With delicious treats all wrapped up and the ingredients packed away, Verity is looking forward to a relaxing few days with her new boyfriend.

Good food, family and friends – it’s a simple recipe for true comfort and joy, and all Verity’s friends in the village are full of excitement about the holidays too.

But the weather has other plans in store… Relentless rain leads to a power cut that spells disaster for many of Plumberry’s residents. It’s starting to look like this year’s celebrations could be a total washout.

With dreams of a perfect Christmas dashed, will the last of the festive cheer be swept away in the downpour? Or can the cookery school create a Christmas miracle for everyone Verity holds dear?

I’ve broken my ‘no Christmas books before November’ rule today to bring you a review of Cathy Bramley’s festive short story Comfort and Joy – Cathy is one of my favourite authors and her stories are always guaranteed to leave me with a happy smile on my face so I couldn’t resist reading Comfort and Joy as soon as it was available.

For fans of Cathy’s books, this story provides a delicious chance to revisit the village of Plumberry, the setting of Cathy’s last novel The Plumberry School of Comfort Food. I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with Verity and the gang in Plumberry and Comfort and Joy provides a lovely update on their stories. Cleverly though, it also stands perfectly well as a story in its own right, so if you haven’t read Cathy’s earlier book, don’t worry, you can definitely read this as a lovely festive standalone.

And what a delicious treat this short story is! Starting on Christmas Eve in Plumberry, the story follows Verity and friends as they prepare for the big day. When floods hit the region of Yorkshire that Plumberry is in, a number of Plumberry’s residents find themselves having to change their long awaited plans for Christmas Day. As you might expect from a story that is set around a cookery school, the descriptions of food and drink in this story are just wonderful and had me ready to break out the mice pies and mulled wine right now!

But it was Cathy’s descriptions of the village, businesses and homes in Plumberry that really had me wishing that it was December 1st and I could put my tree up! I’m a huge fan of Christmas and I can’t wait to get the decorations out so Cathy’s descriptions of window displays, fairy lights and cosy cottages with real fires made my heart sing!

As with all of her novels, Cathy also tugged on my heart strings with this story and as the floods strike and plans have to change I even found myself welling up a little at certain points but Cathy also has a fabulous sense of humour and Comfort and Joy also made me smile. As the community pull together, Comfort and Joy gives a lovely reminder about what Christmas is really about and as you can probably tell by now, I loved it.

This is the perfect short story to curl up with as the nights draw in and is just the right length to fit in between present wrapping ;-) A delicious festive treat with lots of lovely surprises!

5/5

Comfort and Joy is published today in ebook formats and is currently just 99p on Amazon!

Guest post: Best. Wedding. Ever. by Claudia Carroll

11 Oct

Today I’m delighted to be hosting Claudia Carroll on the latest stop of her All She Ever Wished For blog tour. Claudia is a number one bestselling author in Ireland and a top ten bestseller in the UK. She was born in Dublin where she still lives and where she has worked extensively both as a theatre and stage actress. She now writes full-time. Today, Claudia joins me to share a guest post about her favourite wedding. Welcome Claudia!

claudiaAbout a year ago ago, one of my dearest friends announced his engagement. He and his partner had been together for well over a decade, but this was actually going to be a double cause for celebration. Mainly because their wedding was to be one of the first same sex weddings to take place since the State decided to legislate for it. Literally, the minute it became legal, the happy couple got engaged.

‘Amazing news!!’ I squealed at my pal, who we’ll call Greg, purely because he looks at bit like a Greg.

‘It’s going to be just like a straight wedding darling,’ he gushed at me, ‘but with all the boring bits cut out.’

No was he joking. For starters, the wedding was held at the gorgeously posh Rathsallagh House in Kildare, one of the most romantic wedding venues going. On a gloriously sunny August day, with the entire ceremony held outdoors, like we were all on our holliers. And for the women, all the usual frantic running around the Dundrum Town Centre tearing our hair out over trying to find shoes to match dresses was immediately banished when the groom-to-be reassured us that the dress code effectively was, ‘turn up in whatever the hell you feel like.’

Because that’s the magical thing about same sex weddings; it’s almost like the Alice Through the Looking Glass of normal weddings, with all the usual traditions and conventions totally turned upside down. You feel like turning up head to toe in white, with a train and a veil streeling after you? Go for it. You want to dress like you’re on your way to the Oscars? The more fabulous the better, dahhling,’ as Greg told us all. ‘It’s going to be sparkles and sequins all the way!’

And boy, was it. So instead of a nervous bride clinging to her Dad as she walked down the aisle while an organist hammered out Here Comes the Bride, we had both grooms stride confidently towards the altar with their respective Mammies at their side, proudly followed by a gaggle of brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces and nephews, all part of the wedding procession. All there to give love and support, just like families should. To the band playing There May be Trouble Ahead, by Nat King Cole, which got us all giggling and which I thought a particularly nice touch.

Then we had the service bit which kicked off with one of our actor mates getting up to the podium and quite solemnly telling us, ‘there now follows a reading from the book of Beyonce. And he did like it, so he went and put a ring on it….so put your hands up. Up in the club….’

Took all of thirty seconds for the gag to filter back through the puzzled congregation. But as soon as the penny dropped, we all joined in for an impromtu singalong of Beyonce’s ‘All the Single Ladies.’ Pure fab. Because you see that’s another great thing about civil partnership. The happy couple get to design the whole service around themselves and no one else.  

Amazing thing was though, because of the fun nature of the ceremony, it seemed to make the actual vow part even more emotional and moving. What is it about two people pledging to love and cherish each other always that has us reaching for the Kleenex? The minister conducting the ceremony was well-prepared though, thoughtfully and swiftly producing a mansize box of Kleenex for groom and groom to have a little blub into.

The whole service was over in thirty minutes or less, and next thing the brand new husband and husband where strutting down the aisle to ‘That’s Amore,’ by Dean Martin. On cue, bar staff began elegantly circulating around the lawns handing out trays of champagne to guests as we all toasted the newly weds, hugged them and told them how proud we all were to share the joy.

The reception was incredible too, with a nod to tradition in the form of a proper, tiered wedding cake, except all kitted out with tier on tier of baby blue cupcakes, one for each and every one of the guests. The speeches, which were all hysterical (one even involved slideshows).

And I thought of just how far we’ve come as a country. And it makes me feel so inordinately proud. To think that thirty years ago, gay couples could be arrested for doing nothing more than living an honest life, whereas now we celebrate their union just like you would with any couple.

Which is absolutely the way things should be, no?

 

All She Ever Wished For is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Avon

all she ever wished forMarriage. It’s a dream come true. Isn’t it?

One wet winter night, two women meet on a bridge. One is Tess Taylor, a personal trainer on the way to meet her boyfriend for date night. The other is Kate King, a celebrity married to a handsome billionaire who just happens to make her cry. In the cold dark evening, there is nothing to link them together but the bridge they shiver on. Little do they know they’ll both hold the key to each other’s future marriage

All She Ever Wished For tells the story of what happens when your dream is about to come true. And what happens when that dream turns into a bit of a nightmare

Claudia Carroll brings you a Christmas gift filled with second chances, fateful encounters and a lesson in what true love means.

 

Book news: The Other Sister by Rowan Coleman

10 Oct

One of my favourite Rowan Coleman books is being re-released next month with a new title and cover! Previously released as Lessons in Laughing Out Loud, the new title is The Other Sister and if you haven’t read this book yet, I can highly recommend it – please read my review if you need further convincing!

other sister

 

Every family has its secrets…

Willow and Holly are identical twins, as close as two sisters can be. But while Holly has gone through life being the ‘good twin’, Willow has always been the less than perfect one. Holly is happily married, Willow is divorced and almost twice her twin’s size. And while she puts on a brave face to the world, Willow knows she’s been hiding her unhappiness for far too long.

So when the past catches up with her, Willow realises it’s finally time for her to face her fears, and – with her sister’s help – finally deal with the secrets of their childhood before it’s too late.

The Other Sister is published in paperback on 17th November.

Find out more about Rowan and her writing at: http://rowancoleman.co.uk/

Book review: Letters from Lighthouse Cottage by Ali McNamara

4 Oct

letters from lighthouseThe sun is shining in the quiet little seaside town of Sandybridge

Sandybridge is the perfect English seaside town: home to gift shops, tea rooms and a fabulous fish and chip shop. And it’s home to Grace – although right now, she’s not too happy about it.

Grace grew up in Sandybridge, helping her parents sort junk from vintage treasures, but she always longed to escape to a bigger world. And she made it, travelling the world for her job, falling in love and starting a family. So why is she back in the tiny seaside town she’d long left behind, hanging out with Charlie, the boy who became her best friend when they were teenagers?

It turns out that travelling the world may not have been exactly what Grace needed to do. Perhaps everything she wanted has always been at home – after all, they do say that’s where the heart is…

I’ve read every single one of Ali McNamara’s books and enjoyed them all but her last book, The Little Flower Shop by the Sea and the summer release Letters From Lighthouse Cottage have become favourites because of their lovely seaside locations. Letters From Lighthouse Cottage is set on the Norfolk coast and although the actual town in the book is fictional, it has made me want to visit the coast there soon!

Letters From Lighthouse Cottage also ticks the boxes for me as it features a little bit of magic! Grace  discovers and old typewriter when she is helping her parents to clear out Light house Cottage as a teenager. There’s a sweet and slightly mysterious note addressed to her and she christens the typewriter Remy and takes it home with her. From that point forward Remy gives Grace advice in the form of letters. The thing that surprised me about this novel was that Remy’s advice sometimes strayed into difficult events and seemed to have outcomes that weren’t entirely happy and it added a complexity and plenty of emotion to the book to see how Grace coped with the sometimes life changing events that were thrown at her.

Ali is a big fan of the 1980s and her depictions of growing up that era are spot on – I loved the little references to music, film, fashion and foods that brought my own teenage memories back and made me smile. Grace is just trying to fit in and its at this time that she meets the two men who will have a big influence on her life; Charlie and Danny. Charlie and Danny are great contrasts and at different times in the book I was rooting for each of them. Ali is skilled at weaving romantic story lines that keep the reader guessing and it was fun watching Grace grow up and finding out what happened to her and her friends next.

Letters from Lighthouse Cottage is another lovely read from Ali. I loved that it wasn’t a predictable story and the element of magic. This is a book full of heart that examines what ‘home’ really means and how our choices define us. A great book to curl up with this Autumn!

4/5

Find out more about Ali and her writing at: http://www.alimcnamara.co.uk/

Book news: The Witches of New York by Ami McKay

3 Oct

You might notice a bit of a theme developing in my posts this month – for me October is all about magic and mystery. I plan to share many magical books with you this month so when I saw this book earlier today I added it straight to my wish list. It covers two of my favourite reading subjects (witches and New York) just in the title so it’s got to be a winner right?!

Ami McKay is the bestselling author of The Birth House and The Virgin Cure. I absolutely love the sound of this novel and isn’t the cover fab? The Witches of New York is released on October 27th by Orion.

witches of new york

The year is 1880. Two hundred years after the trials in Salem, Adelaide Thom (Moth from The Virgin Cure) has left her life in the sideshow to open a tea shop with another young woman who feels it’s finally safe enough to describe herself as a witch: a former medical student andgardien de sorts (keeper of spells), Eleanor St. Clair. Together they cater to Manhattan’s high society ladies, specializing in cures, palmistry and potions–and in guarding the secrets of their clients. All is well until one bright September afternoon, when an enchanting young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at their door seeking employment.

Beatrice soon becomes indispensable as Eleanor’s apprentice, but her new life with the witches is marred by strange occurrences. She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Objects appear out of thin air, as if gifts from the dead. Has she been touched by magic or is she simply losing her mind? Eleanor wants to tread lightly and respect the magic manifest in the girl, but Adelaide sees a business opportunity. Working with Dr. Quinn Brody, a talented alienist, she submits Beatrice to a series of tests to see if she truly can talk to spirits. Amidst the witches’ tug-of-war over what’s best for her, Beatrice disappears, leaving them to wonder whether it was by choice or by force.

As Adelaide and Eleanor begin the desperate search for Beatrice, they’re confronted by accusations and spectres from their own pasts. In a time when women were corseted, confined and committed for merely speaking their minds, were any of them safe?

Find out more about Ami McKay and her writing at: http://amimckay.com/

Book review: The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse

2 Oct

TheNeverlandWarsCoverMagic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That’s what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.

However, Gwen doesn’t know this. She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn’t know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she’ll discover she’s in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.

She’ll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won’t be the only one. Peter Pan’s constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she’s going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she’s going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.

As regular readers will know, I love a good cover and the beautiful cover for The Neverland Wars leaped out at me straight away. I also love to read re-tellings or re-workings of classic stories so the premise for this novel immediately appealed!

The Neverland Wars is the story of sixteen year old Gwen who loves to tell fantastical stories to her little sister. After an evening of story telling, Gwen finds herself thrown into her very own magical story as her little sister is taken in the night by Peter Pan! The premise for this book is very interesting; that adults have been using magic for their own benefit and a war is brewing between the two worlds over the use of magic! As Gwen follows her sister to Neverland she’s drawn into the fray and has to decide where her loyalties lie.

Gwen is a very sensible girl and the opening chapters of the book give a good insight into her life at home and at school. I liked that Audrey Greathouse drew out the frustrations often felt by teenagers as they teeter on the cusp between childhood and adulthood. This is a key theme in the book and I liked the way the story invited debate although at times I felt that Gwen’s character seemed quite ‘young’ for a sixteen year old. I also liked the author’s exploration of an ageing Peter Pan; his visits to our world have caused him to get older and this opens up an interesting side to the story.

The magical elements of the story are beautifully written and I enjoyed discovering Neverland with Gwen including mermaids, pirates, crocodiles and fairies but I was a little disappointed that Tinkerbell didn’t make an appearance. As Gwen has to decide where her future lies, the story really picks up pace and leaves the reader wanting more with a dramatic ending! This is the first novel in a trilogy and Audrey has just announced that book two, The Piper’s Price will be available in February 2017. Do check out Audrey’s website for more details and another fab cover!

3/5

I’d like to thank Audrey for sending me a review copy of this book.

You can find out more about Audrey and her writing at: https://audreygreathouse.com/