This House is Haunted by John Boyne

this house is haunted

Story Outline:

1867. Eliza Caine arrives in Norfolk to take up her position as governess at Gaudlin Hall on a dark and chilling night. As she makes her way across the station platform, a pair of invisible hands push her from behind into the path of an approaching train. She is only saved by the vigilance of a passing doctor.

When she finally arrives, shaken, at the hall she is greeted by the two children in her care, Isabella and Eustace. There are no parents, no adults at all, and no one to represent her mysterious employer. The children offer no explanation. Later that night in her room, a second terrifying experience further reinforces the sense that something is very wrong.

From the moment she rises the following morning, her every step seems dogged by a malign presence which lives within Gaudlin’s walls. Eliza realises that if she and the children are to survive its violent attentions, she must first uncover the hall’s long-buried secrets and confront the demons of its past

 

My Review:

I came across this book because someone I knew had read it, they told me it scared them to the point that they slept with the lights on after reading it. Being a curious creature I had to find out for myself whether it was truly as scary as they described it.

I am pleased to report my sleep has not been interrupted by spectral accuracies and I have not been scared out of my wits. What I have found however is a wonderfully written ghost story. Whereas I did not feel like there was a presence watching me as some books have induced in the past, I did find myself feeling rather sad. This story of loss and death puts me in mind of Wuthering Heights in its style. Did I enjoy it? Yes, I did and I think anyone who enjoys a suspenseful story will also get lost in its pages as I did.

Having had a psychic gift since around the age of seven, stories such as this have always been interesting and entertaining. Some of what Eliza Caine has been through I can relate to and some of it I am glad I have not. The author’s talent for chilling a reader to the bone with mere words is a talent that I am glad I have had the privilege of experiencing.

I hope that people enjoy this sometimes unnerving and sad tale as much as I did.

Ivy and the Inky Butterfly by Johanna Basford

ivy

 

Book Info: 

An all-new iteration of the adult colouring book–a gorgeously hand-illustrated storybook for readers to colour and cherish, both an enchanting tale and a one-of-a-kind keepsake

From colouring book queen, Johanna Basford comes a new spin on the world of adult colouring: a lavishly illustrated fable about a little girl named Ivy who stumbles upon a secret door leading to the magical world of Enchantia. Ivy embarks on a quest through its many realms in pursuit of her inky butterfly, meeting whimsical characters and discovering many wondrous things along the way. A charming story that interacts playfully with beautiful, colourable artwork in Johanna’s signature style, Ivy and the Inky Butterfly is a one-of-a-kind adventure for readers of all ages to customize, colour, and cherish.

Printed on specially selected ivory paper. This paper has been specifically created for Johanna Basford’s colouring books. It has a medium tooth which is perfect for creating beautiful coloured pencil effects or chalk pastel backgrounds but also wonderful for pens, which will glide effortlessly over its surface.

 

My Review:

Another beautiful and intricate colouring book from Johanna Basford only this time there is a bit of a difference. Instead of the usual colouring book, Johanna has taken it to the next level and introduced a children’s story. This new book brings a whole new level for her fans which I personally love. There are so many new things to colour and character to meet. Ivy and the Inky Butterfly proves yet again why Johanna is one of my favourite artists in the world of colouring.

I am colouring my copy as a keepsake for my daughter.

The Cat of the Baskervilles (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #3) by Vicki Delany

the cat of the baskervilles

 

Story Outline: 

The show is coming to town on Cape Cod. The West London Theater Festival is putting on a stage production of The Hound of the Baskervilles. Gemma Doyle is excited and participating with her friend Jayne Wilson, whose mother, Leslie, just happens to be volunteering with the company. Leslie arranges a fundraising tea party at the home of the festival organizer, catered by Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room. The tea is a rousing success, but Sir Nigel Bellingham, the famous star cast as the lead of Sherlock, goes missing. And Gemma finds him at the bottom of the cliff. Dead.

Before the tea, Sir Nigel had come by the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop, only for Gemma to realize that he’s not at all suited to the role. But as Gemma and Jayne investigate, the list of suspects just grows longer. Long past his prime, Sir Nigel was second to a younger actor who had first been given the role. The festival’s executive director also expressed that he had been hired over her objections. Then there are the slew of people to whom Sir Nigel was rude. They all have motive, but then a scrap of Leslie’s apron caught on a bush by Sir Nigel’s body is found. And the police are set to pounce as she becomes suspect #1.

It’s up to Gemma and Jayne to team up again and clear Jayne’s mother’s name in The Cat of the Baskervilles, the delightful third Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery.

 

My Review: 

Reviewed for NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books

Yet another cozy mystery to add to the list of great reads from Crooked Lane Books. Vicky Delaney has delivered a very charming, sometimes funny and intriguing mystery. I absolutely loved the English element, anything to do with England or the English is always a favourite.

A well written and flowing storyline make for a pleasurable reading experience. Toward the end of the book I thought I had figured out what happened but as with most “who done it” stories I was way off the mark. The twist at the end I did not see coming at all until it was revealed by the main character Gemma Doyle. Looking back I did remember the vital clue but dismissed it. All characters were extremely well written and came alive on the page there were just the right amount of suspects to keep me guessing. Too many and it gets confusing and not enough makes it easy to solve.

The only thing that bothered me about the book is the title. Even though there is a cat in the story it had very little bearing on the actual story and the events that took place.

I would recommend to fans of Cozy Mysteries and Sherlock Holmes.

Little Woodford by Catherine Jones

little woodford

 

Story Outline:

Little Woodford has a sleepy high street, a weekly market, a weathered old stone church and lovingly tended allotments. A peaceful, unexciting place, the very heart of middle England.

In Little Woodford, no one has fingers in more pies than Olivia Laithwaite, parish councillor, chair of the local WI, wife, mother and all round queen bee. So, of course, it’s Olivia who is first to spot that The Beeches has been sold at last.

Soon rumours begin to swirl around the young widow who has bought this lovely house. Why exactly did she leave London with her beautiful stepdaughter and young sons? Are they running from someone? Hiding something? Though if they are, they won’t be the only ones. Sometimes the arrival of newcomers in a community is all it takes to light a fuse…

Perfect for fans of Rebecca Shaw, Jill Mansell and Emma Burstall.

 

My Review:

Reviewed for Netgalley and Head of Zeus

On the surface, Little Woodford looks like any ordinary English village, but below the surface of Little Woodford, there are secrets and betrayals.

This was recommended by a friend who enjoyed it and upon completing it I understand why. It is a very accurate portrayal of village life. All the characters that you expect to find are present. The socialite, the town gossip and the ever-present and calming church influence. What I didn’t expect and thoroughly enjoyed was the depth of these characters and how they were all connected to each other. Some more obvious than others.

Catherine Jones has taken village life and placed it under a microscope for us all to see the true nature of people, both good and bad. I always find books such as these interesting to read.

The characters are extremely well written and come alive on the page. I felt as if I was right there on the page with them going through all that transpired. For me, the story flowed at a good pace, with so many things going on it was hard not to read this in one sitting. There are so many intertwining characters and situations happening that you just want to keep reading to find out what happens.

The one issue I have with the book was that the story jumped from one character to another without not a lot of warning. It would be better for the reader if there was a subheading with the characters name. But not a major issue but some might find it takes away from the flow of the story.

All in all a wonderfully entertaining and thought-provoking tale of life.

Death by a Whisker by T.C. LoTempio

death by a whisker

 

Story Outline:

Getting used to life back home in Deer Park, North Carolina, Sydney McCall and her right-hand tabby, Toby, are helping her sister Kat run the local animal shelter. Syd and Kat are all excited about the prospect of the shelter’s newest fundraiser: shopping channel queen Ulla Townsend. Shelter admin Maggie Shayne vehemently refuses to have anything to do with the woman, but the fundraiser ensues as planned. That is, until Ulla turns up dead in the middle of the event.

The cause of death is determined to be an allergic reaction, but Syd and Toby are sniffing out something fishy. When Syd met Ulla, it was clear she was distasteful and rude. And right before the event, Syd spotted some behind-the-scenes drama between Ulla and her manager. As they begin to investigate, they realize there is no shortage of suspects, and Maggie is at the top of the list.

Now Syd and Toby must claw their way to the truth before everything goes paws up at their animal shelter in Death by a Whisker by national bestselling author T. C. LoTempio.

 

My Review:

Pen, paper and sleuthing cap in place, I settled in to read another book from my new favourite genre, Cozy Mysteries. Death By a Whisker, like all other cozy mystery books I have had the pleasure of reading, did not disappoint. With murder and cats, this book had a winning combination for me even before I had read one word.

With a cast of characters that all had motive and means for wanting Ulla dead, it was definitely not an easy task to work out who the killer could be. Alas, I was unable to guess who it was, although I did have several of the characters in my mind, none of them turned out to the one. Along with the interesting characters is a fast paced plot filled with lots of interesting twists. It will keep the reading engaged and eager to find out who was responsible for Ulla’s death and why. I think the author’s quirky method used by the killer was a stroke of genius.

Even though this is the second book in “A Cat Rescue Mystery” series it can definitely be read as a standalone story. The author added little bits of information referring to what happened in the first book. She does not give away the plot so the reader can go back to the first book and read it without knowing all the details. That to me was a clever idea on the part of the author. I for one will be reading the first one. I had planned to read it but with the little hints that were given, I am even more curious to read it now.
Thoroughly enjoyable, sure to be popular with fans of the cozy mysteries genre.

Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm by Rebecca Raisin

secrets at maple syrup farm

Story Outline:

Secrets…we all have them.

Clay’s inheritance of Maple Syrup Farm came at the perfect time. Leaving city life behind he headed for maple-tree surrounded Ashford, Connecticut. Getting the farm in working order again might be back-breaking work – but it seems to be the only way for Clay to finally forget about the girl who once broke his heart…

Lucy’s had enough of rules and the stress of planning her life down to the very last detail. Looking for an adventure she stumbles upon Maple Syrup Farm and its gorgeously gruff owner. This could be the perfect place to hide out…!

But the tranquillity and warmth of Maple Tree Farm is enough to heal even the most battered of hearts. There are very few problems in life that can’t be cheered up by maple syrup!

The new standalone novel from bestselling author of the Gingerbread Cafe trilogy and The Bookshop on the Corner, Rebecca Raisin.

 

My Review:

Like the previous book of Rebecca’s (The Little Perfume Shop off the Champs-Élysées) that I had the pleasure of reading. This book was not just a story of budding romance but a book that captures the imagination and engages all your senses. I have never been a huge fan of romance in the past as it conjures up all sorts of images of heaving bosoms and manly protrusion, but it is not the case with this authors books. She writes her characters in such a way that the readers grow to love them as you get to know each of them.

I loved this book so much that I did not want it to end. My heart actually felt like it was going to break because I have to leave these characters behind. I truly wish that these people were real and the town of Ashford was an actual place. You do not just read Lucy’s story, you live it with her. Lucy’s adventure is one that will grab you by the heart and leave you wanting more. From her personal struggles being separated from her mother and wondering how she will make it through a whole year on her own. To finding a love she was not looking for and becoming part of a community that welcomed her with open arms. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry but more importantly, it will leave you feeling like Lucy, you have found friends for life.

Rebecca Raisin is a true master storyteller of the romance genre. Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm was a truly joyous experience I hope to repeat in the future.

The Little Perfume Shop off the Champs-Élysées (The Little Paris Collection, #3) by Rebecca Raisin

rebecca raisin

 

Story Outline:

What is French for falling in love?
When Del leaves small-town America to compete in a perfume competition in Paris, she thinks it is just the next step on her five-year-plan. It’s an exciting opportunity. What started out as just a dream for Del and her twin sister is nearly in her grasp. If she wins this competition, they are on their way to opening their very own perfume boutique!

Arriving in Paris, watching the sun glinting off the Seine and wandering the Champs-Elysees, Del discovers the most perfect perfumery she’s ever seen. Yet, as the competition dawns Del realises that whilst she might have had the best nose in her small village, her competitors seem to know more than she could ever have dreamed. This competition isn’t going to be easy…

Del has the romance of Paris to sweep her away from her worries, but as the competition heats up, so does her desire for that which she cannot have! If only the dashing owner Sébastien didn’t smell so seductive, look so handsome and make her heart flutter like it never has before. They say love smells as sweet as a red rose in bloom, but Del would tell anyone that true love can’t be bottled – it’s beautiful and unique to everyone…even herself. With everything on the line for her future, can Del really let a little attraction get in the way of securing her dreams?

 

My Review:

Reviewed for NetGalley and HQ Digital

Due for publication 30th March 2018

Seeing as it is “the month of LOVE” I thought I would read books with a romantic touch to them. Rebecca Raisin’s book was the perfect way to start.

I have not read any of the authors books up to this point so I had no idea what to expect. What I discovered was an amazing heartfelt tale of loss, friendship and belief in your own abilities and finding the strength to change your life even when it feels you are making all the wrong decisions.

It is not just a tale about all those things, it is also a journey of the sensory kind, all the aroma’s Del’s experiences in the challenges set out for her make it a story not just for the eyes alone. I was so drawn in immediately to this adventure. I too could smell and see what Del could. There is nothing that pleases me more as a reader than to be able to connect to a character that way. It is also an emotional journey. Del had me laughing, crying and sometimes cringing.

The characters are bold, heartwarming and inspiring, I even had a soft spot for the not so nice Clementine who eventually showed her true colours when things didn’t go the way she planned. It is a rare thing for me to like a mean character but in this case, I did.

There are so many reasons you will fall in love with the story but I will let you find out for yourself. All I will say is once you read one Rebecca Raisin books you will want to read more.