All about Books, Book review

Book Review: The Start of Something by Miranda Dickinson

It’s only a week until the book I’m reviewing is released and I can’t wait any longer especially when I’ve seen on social media the unique signed copies that are available at Tea leaves and Reads and Bert’s books. If you like the sound of The Start of Something by Miranda Dickinson and need to treat yourself, you may want to pop over to pre-order soon. Scroll down to see why I’m excited about this romantic novel.

Photo of quirky signed copies of The Start of Something by Miranda Dickinson

Book Review: The Start of Something by Miranda Dickinson

Book cover The Start of Something by Miranda Dickinson
The Start of Something by Miranda Dickinson

Title: The Start of Something

Author: Miranda Dickinson

Publisher: HQ

Genre: Romance

Release Date: 3rd February 2021

Spotify playlist: https://t.co/S79z2ICdAP

Purchase:

Tea Leaves and Reads – March book box

Bert’s Books – signed copy

Amazon – Kindle

Blurb

Lachlan Wallace is stuck at home after a car accident stalled his army career. With months of physiotherapy still to endure and only his rescue dog and cat for company, he’s taken to gazing out of the window, watching the world spin on without him. And then he notices a vase of flowers on the windowsill of the apartment opposite his. Drawn to their hope and colour, he decides to reach out and sticks a message in his window…

Bethan Gwynne is a stranger in a new town. Bringing up her son Noah by herself, she is slowly rebuilding her life, but loneliness is one obstacle she has yet to overcome. She’s intrigued by a glimpse of her neighbour in the apartment across from hers – and then, one evening, she sees a message in his window just for her:

WHAT ARE THOSE FLOWERS CALLED?

And so begins a love story of two people reaching out, daring to trust a stranger…

My Thoughts

I discovered this book by chance when I came across Miranda’s Chatty Night on Facebook and she was discussing it.* I was excited to be accepted for an advanced copy and had high expectations for it and I wasn’t disappointed. It was everything I wanted it to be and more.

As someone who has been shielding throughout the pandemic, this novel hit a nerve; the loneliness of being in four walls is gripping despite having had years of being used to living in a reduced environment and this book captured the feelings well. Simple things like seeing flowers in the window or a surprise letter can make a huge difference to the day. They add excitement and a sense of belonging. As soon as Lachlan and Bethan began communicating via letters in the window I was invested in their relationship.

Bethan and her flowers brought light and sunshine to the novel despite her challenges, but it was Lachlan I connected with. His emotions around his accident and situation took me back to the early days of my illness and disability. His feelings were captured well.

There are many memorable characters but one who stood out is Noah. With his stone collecting dragons, he shone. Life and books are always better with dragons.

I enjoyed watching the relationship between Bethan and Lachlan grow but I did have to stop reading midway as my heart ached too much.  I could see what may happen and I didn’t want either of them to be hurt.

Would I recommend?

Yes,  Miranda Dickinson has the ability to tap into the characters and bring them alive so they connect to the reader. The Start of Something is an uplifting story of loneliness and hope and reminds you small changes and reaching out to others can make a big difference. Loneliness is crippling for many, and has been heightened in the last couple of years, so Bethan and Lachlan’s tale shows a way forward; It is possible to improve people’s lives and communities with simple gestures and love.

I loved this book for its message, the characters who will be forever in my heart and on my bookshelf when I receive my physical copy. The Start of Something may not be accepted on the Enchanted Emporium Bookshelf but it will be the first book in the upcoming Rosa’s Box of Romance so the customers of The Enchanted Emporium can enjoy and spread the word.

 *If you ever need an hour of fun and bookish chat and community, pop over to Miranda’s Facebook page on Weds night – it’s a uplifting treat.

Author Biography

Photo of Miranda Dickinson holding The Start of Something
Miranda Dickinson

Miranda Dickinson has always had a head full of stories. Born in Wolverhampton, in The Black Country, West Midlands, she grew up in Kingswinford and dreamed of one day writing a book that would reach the heady heights of Kingswinford Library… Her first novel, Fairytale of New York (2009) was discovered on Authonomy.com – HarperCollins’ site for unpublished authors. Within three weeks of its release, Fairytale of New York had entered the Sunday Times Top Ten Bestsellers List, where it remained for five weeks – making it the world’s first crowd-sourced bestseller. The novel was also shortlisted for the RNA’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2010 at the Pure Passion Awards.

Miranda is a six-times Sunday Times Bestseller, with Fairytale of New York, Welcome to My World, It Started With a Kiss, When I Fall in Love, Take a Look at Me Now, I’ll Take New York, A Parcel for Anna Browne and Searching for a Silver Lining, a Christmas novella, Christmas in St Ives, is a festive treat and prequel to her ninth novel, Somewhere Beyond the Sea. The Day We Meet Again has won critical acclaim and is much loved by readers, most recently publishing in the US and Canada, taking her words Stateside for the first time.

Miranda is an international bestseller in four countries and her books have been translated into sixteen languages. To date, she has sold one million books worldwide. Her latest book is Our Story, out now.

Miranda is the founder of WriteFoxy – resources, vlogs and inspiration writing days for writers of all ages and abilities. Her popular vlogs feature her own publishing journey for each new novel, together with advice for authors and lots and lots of hats!

Miranda lives in Dudley with her husband, Bob and daughter, Flo. She is also a singer-songwriter and recently released her first solo album, About Time.

Social media

WEB: www.miranda-dickinson.com
MUSIC: www.soundcloud.com/mirandadickinson FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/MirandaDickinsonAuthor INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/wurdsmyth
BLOG: www.coffeeandroses.blogspot.com
STORIES: www.septembers-cafe.blogspot.com
TWITTER: www.twitter.com/wurdsmyth

Thank you HQ Stories providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews

Today I’m pleased to share my book review for a historical fiction novel The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews.

Book Review: The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews

Book cover for the The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews
The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews

Title: The Hidden Village

Author: Imogen Matthews

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Historical fiction

Release Date: 17th Jan 2022

Purchase: https://geni.us/B09LVLB82Fsocial

Blurb

A Nazi soldier slams his rifle into her father’s head. From her hiding place, Sofie stifles a scream as tears roll down her face. Suddenly she can’t take it any more. ‘Stop, stop!’ she sobs, rushing out and pushing the soldier away. And then freezes, as he snarls and whips the gun round to point at her…

Holland, 1943: the Nazis are in occupation. German soldiers patrol the streets, and each week more families disappear without trace, never to be seen again. So when armed soldiers storm Sofie’s house and threaten her father at gunpoint, she knows their time – and luck – has run out.

Fleeing in the middle of the night to hide in a neighbour’s secret attic, the constant threat of a German raid means they can’t stay long. So Sofie’s parents make the heart-rending decision to send their daughter away. Concealed in the woods is a secret village, built by the town as a haven for Jewish families like Sofie’s. Remote, cold and bleak, yet filled with the hopeful laughter of children playing, it is the one place Sofie has the chance to live.

But rumours of the hidden village have been swirling, and the Nazis are determined to find it. As soldiers patrol the woods in ever-greater numbers, snow cuts the villagers off from the outside world and starvation sets in. Sofie knows what she must do, even though it means putting herself in danger. And when the worst happens, Sofie is faced with a terrible decision – save the village, or save herself…

An absolutely heart-breaking and gripping WWII historical novel based on the true story of an entire town who put themselves in danger to keep strangers safe. What happens will restore your faith in humanity. Fans of Fiona Valpy, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Choice will never forget this incredibly moving tale and the real-life heroes who inspired it.

My Thoughts

It is not often I read historical fiction unless it is in a dual timeline, but this book begged to be read. A friend has Norwegian roots and listening to her family stories made me interested in reading more about this time. The Hidden Village threw me straight into the action with children playing innocently and Germans approaching the village. I continued reading with a sense of trepidation because we all know the atrocities they bring with them.

Told in third person, this story focuses on three main characters; young Jan who is still in his childhood but longs to be seen as older, Sofie a teenager whose future is looking bright until she is forced to hide and Sara Jan’s mother, whose husband helps set up the hidden village. The three viewpoints give a good overview of life because of their different stages of their lives and place in the community. Through Sofie’s eyes we see live in the forest, Sara experiences the goings on in the town battling to keep the Jews safe and Jan is a go between connecting the two.

Community is a key theme in this novel and despite the never ending threat of discovery, it was uplifting to read how powerful this sense of community was, which enabled the village to stay safe and fed during this time. Though the novel was harrowing in places, it was never graphic in it’s portrayal of the Nazi brutality and relied on the reader’s imagination and description of the sounds of hobnailed boots on floorboards to rank up the tension.  

The villagers’ loss of liberty and possessions and having to rebuild a community made me reflect on the important things in my life and be more grateful for what I have.

Would I recommend?

Yes, The Hidden Village gives a fascinating insight into life in Holland during the second World War and shows the horror of the time and the courage displayed by those who stood up against the evil of the Nazi regime. It is uplifting and shows love, and everyday things and emotions still occurred despite the dangerous threat of discovery. Perfect for those who love historical fiction and WW2 memoirs.

Author Biography

Imogen Matthews

Imogen Matthews writes novels based on true stories about the Netherlands during the German occupation in World War 2. Some stories she discovered by chance, others are based on her Dutch mother’s own experiences of hardship and survival during the Hunger Winter of 1944-45.

Her first novel, The Hidden Village, is set in the Veluwe woods, a beautiful part of Holland that Imogen has visited frequently over the past 30 years. It was in these woods that she discovered the story of the real hidden village which provided shelter in underground huts for Jews during WW2. Imogen retells the story of the hidden village with characters drawn from real life and from her imagination.

Within weeks of publication in 2017, The Hidden Village became an international bestseller, ranking at the top of a number Amazon’s most-read book lists.

Following on from The Hidden Village comes Hidden in the Shadows, which has the pace of a thriller yet is also a love story. It tells the story about two young people who are brutally torn apart and must find a way to be together against all odds.

Imogen’s third WW2 novel, The Girl Across the Wire Fence, is set in Amersfoort, Netherlands, and is based on the unforgettable tale of two young lovers who risked everything to keep hope alive in the very depths of hell – the little known Dutch concentration camp called Kamp Amersfoort.

Imogen’s WW2 novels are published by Bookouture, a digital imprint of Hachette.

Learn more about Imogen’s story in this video: https://youtu.be/2YO0IWJSjj0

Author social media

www.imogenmatthewsbooks.com

Facebook: @theHiddenVillagenovel

Twitter: @ImogenMatthews3

Thank you Bookouture for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

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All about Books, Book review

Book Review: The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman

My first book review of the year is a book I looked forward to ever since I knew it was written, The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman. This is book four and the conclusion of the Practical Magic series but with a witchy world full of wonderful characters with many backstories to explore a reader can always wish for more.

Book Review: The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Book cover for The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman
The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Title: A Book of Magic

Author: Alice Hoffman

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: fiction, fantasy, witchlit

Release Date: 6th Jan 2022

Blurb

‘Full of Hoffman’s bewitching and lucid prose and vivid characters, The Book of Magic is ultimately about the very human magic of family and love and actions that echo through generations… it casts a spell’  —Matt Haig

THE STUNNING, UNFORGETTABLE CONCLUSION TO THE BELOVED PRACTICAL MAGIC SERIES

For centuries, the Owens family has been cursed in matters of love. When beloved aunt Jet Owens hears the sound of the deathwatch beetle, she knows that it is a signal. She has finally discovered the secret to breaking the curse, but time is running out. She has only seven days to live.

Unaware of the family’s witchcraft lineage and all it entails, one of the young sisters of the new Owens generation has fallen in love. As the curse strikes once again, her love’s fate hangs in the balance, spurring three generations of Owens to venture back to where it all began and use their gifts to break the spell that has marked all their lives.

But doing so threatens to destroy everything the family has fought so hard to protect. How much will they give up for the greatest gift of all?

My Thoughts

I had high hopes for this book, and it didn’t let me down. From the moment Jet heard the death-watch beetle and begins a mission to stop the 300-year-old curse for good, I was hooked back into the world where reality is blended seamlessly with magic to discover whether this could be achieved.

The Rules of Magic, which follows the siblings Franny, Jet and Vincent, is my favourite novel in the series so I loved meeting them again, even if they were in their 80s. The journey to find a cure for the Owens’ curse brings the characters to Essex in England, and the descriptions and sense of place reignited my desire to visit there. It has been on my literary tour wishlist since I read Hiding from the Light by Barbara Erskine.

The strength of these books are the original characterisation, depth of magical world building and the lyrical prose that is littered with references to herbal references. This all adds to the central witchy theme.

It is a strong conclusion to a series about curses, forbidden love and redemption and this one in particular is an ode to books and libraries.

Though it could be read out of sequence, you will enjoy it more and be less confused with the multitude of characters if read in order. This could be done in order of the release dates  – Practical MagicThe Rules of MagicMagic LessonsThe Book of Magic – or chronologically –Magic LessonsThe Rules of MagicPractical MagicThe Book of Magic.

Would I recommend?

If like me and those at The Enchanted Emporium you love books about magic, witches and books, this is a series to read. With magical prose and storytelling, a unique collection of characters and immersive worldbuilding this novel gives a satisfying conclusion to a wonderful tale of revenge, love and redemption.

I look forward to having a physical copy on my forever bookshelf for rereads and I know as soon as a copy is put on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf, it will be on permanent loan by the witches of Whitby and beyond.

Thank you Simon and Schuster via NetGalley providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Have you read this series or watched the film Practical Magic starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock? Let me know in the comments below.

Trailer for Practical Magic

Happy reading!

Love

All about Books, Book review, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

Best Books of 2021: The Year of the Witches

It’s a new year so time for me to share my favourite books of 2021 before I leap into reading this year’s offerings. 2021 galloped by and threw many obstacles my way, but it produced some amazing books though for me, the world of witches and magic have shone above the rest.

In no particular order here are my best books of 2021:

Threadneedle book cover

Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

The book cover for The Woman and The Witch

The Woman and the Witch by Amanda Larkman

The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Book cover for Witches of Barcelona

Witches of Barcelona by Caedis Knight

The Dream Weavers by Barbara Erskine

Midnight in Everwood by M.A Kuznair

The Coven by Lizzie Fry

Other books without a glimmer of magic but I adored anyway are:

The Imperfect Art of Caring by Jessica Ryn – review coming shortly

The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan

Dear Grace by Clare Swatman

2022 looks like it will also be a wonderful year for magic and romance with the publication of the final instalment of the Practical Magic series, The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman and the future publication of Miranda Dickinson’s The Start of Something.

What were your favourite reads in 2021 and what are you looking forward to this year? Let me know in the comments below.

A huge thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources, Random Things Tour, all the publishers who have supported my blog and allowed me early access to these wonderful books and of course, you my readers.

Happy New Year!

Happy reading and writing.

Love

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Book Review: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Title: Wish You Were Here

Author: Jodi Picoult

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Genre: Fiction

Release Date: 25th November 2021

Blurb

If your life was going perfectly to plan, would you risk everything to change it? 

Diana O’Toole’s life is going perfectly to plan. At twenty-nine, she’s up for promotion to her dream job as an art specialist at Sotheby’s and she’s about to fly to the Galapagos where she’s convinced her surgeon boyfriend, Finn, is going to propose.

But then the virus hits New York City and Finn breaks the news: the hospital needs him, he has to stay. But you should still go, he insists. And reluctantly, she agrees.

Once she’s in the Galapagos, the world shuts down around her, leaving Diana stranded – albeit in paradise. Completely isolated, with only intermittent news from the outside world, Diana finds herself examining everything that has brought her to this point and wondering if there’s a better way to live.

But not everything is as it seems . . .

My Thoughts

Ever since I read My Sister’s Keeper years ago, I have been a fan of Jodi Picoult books and she is an author I’d always buy the book without focussing on the blurb, but I did have my concerns about reading about the pandemic while cases are still high and the surrounding emotions are still raw. I needn’t have worried; I loved this book.

I was hooked with the opening scene with its fantastic imagery of the Diana’s father restoring the painting on the Grand Central Terminal ceiling. I knew from how Diana saw the world and her love of art I’d enjoy getting to know her better.

This novel is a tale of two halves and highlights the different experiences people had depending on the location, the depth of infection in the area and people’s reaction to it as a whole. The first chapters with Diana in the Galapagos islands were true escapism with the calm, stunning location and sense of community leaping off the page, making them a joy to read despite the climatic threat in the background. Conversely Finn’s experience trapped in New York facing the harsh realities of being on the frontline in the pandemic were heart breaking and eye opening. This novel does not shy away from the cruelty and horror of the disease which made for powerful but disturbing reading. For this reason, I think at the moment Wish You Were Here will be a marmite book – some people will love it and others who have been deeply touched by the virus will find it too close to home. In time it will gain more readers and become an important reflection on the realities of the last couple of years.

The Jodi Picoult twist came as a shock and drew me in further. It was fascinating and made me long to dig deeper, I wish I could chat more about it but that would be a huge spoiler. You’ll have to wait until you’ve read it and find like-minded people to discuss it with.  

Would I recommend?

Yes, this is an emotional and powerful book with a character finding her way in unfamiliar territories and has a unique Jodi Picoult twist. Not many authors would get away with a novel based on the pandemic while it is still raging but she’s managed it with great characterisation, sensitivity and the clever use of balancing the harsh and traumatic scenes set in New York with the calmer escapism of the idyllic islands. It’s a book for my forever shelf.

Author Biography

Photo of Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty five internationally bestselling novels, including MY SISTER’S KEEPER, HOUSE RULES and SMALL GREAT THINGS, and has also co-written two YA books with her daughter Samantha van Leer, BETWEEN THE LINES and OFF THE PAGE. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

Her most recent adult novel, A SPARK OF LIGHT first published in the UK on 30th October 2018, and was a #1 Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller

https://twitter.com/jodipicoult

https://www.instagram.com/jodipicoult/?hl=en

Thank you Hodder & Stoughton for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love