Sunday, 8 April 2018

Blog Tour: Seas of Snow - Kerensa Jennings

I don't usually take part in blog tours, however, it's a real pleasure to be able to share my review of Seas of Snow once more. I was lucky enough to read this book last year and it totally blew me away. It's a dark and sometimes uncomfortable read, but a fabulous one too. I urge you to add it to your shopping list, find a quiet spot and enjoy.






Seas of Snow – Kerensa Jennings
Blurb

1950s England. Five-year-old Gracie Scott lives with her Mam and next door to her best friend Billy. An only child, she has never known her Da. When her Uncle Joe moves in, his physical abuse of Gracie’s mother starts almost immediately. But when his attentions wander to Gracie, an even more sinister pattern of behaviour begins.
As Gracie grows older, she finds solace and liberation in books, poetry and her enduring friendship with Billy. Together they escape into the poetic fairy-tale worlds of their imaginations.
But will fairy tales be enough to save Gracie from Uncle Joe’s psychopathic behaviour – and how far will it go?
Seas of Snow is a haunting, psychological domestic drama that probes the nature and the origins of evil.

What I thought:

Gracie Scott and her Ma are haunted by a beast,  a beautiful beast.  Beautiful on the outside that is, but inside he is pure evil - always has been and always will be.

Gracie doesn't have any friends at school. For some reason, other girls seem to get pleasure from taunting and bullying her, but it doesn't really matter because she spends all her spare time with her best friend, Billy. Billy Harper lives next door to Gracie and her Ma, and they are always playing together, playing at princesses and dragons or any other make-believe game that Billy has invented for them to play. Then one day Gracie's Uncle Joe comes to stay and her life will never be the same again.

Joe is vile. It's as though he doesn't have a choice of right and wrong, his thoughts are just pure evil. His actions are rarely on impulse, but meticulously planned over long periods of time and they are shocking, in fact truly horrific.

Gracie innocently wonders what she has done wrong for her life to be so tormented, but then she discovers poetry and that helps her escape the demons that haunt her daily life.

This story had me gripped. It is gut-wrenchingly uncomfortable to read at times but laced with beautiful poetry and utterly compelling. I was so frustrated with Gracie's mum, but Billy was just so lovely. He's the kind of boy you would want for your daughter, kind, loyal and always there for her. As they grow older and Billy starts work, he saves hard, planning to take Gracie and move far away. Will the real - life Prince Charming be able to rescue his princess from the terrible fate that Joe had planned for her for so long?

When family secrets are revealed  and Billy makes a shocking discovery, I couldn't stop turning the pages. It was just so good. It was dark, brutal and intense, but what a read! Highly recommended.






Author Bio Kerensa Jennings

Kerensa Jennings is a storyteller, strategist, writer, producer and professor. Kerensa’s TV work took her all over the world, covering everything from geo-politics to palaeontology, and her time as Programme Editor of Breakfast with Frost coincided with the life-changing events of 9/11. The knowledge and experience she gained in psychology by qualifying and practising as an Executive Coach has only deepened her fascination with exploring the interplay between nature and nurture and with investigating whether evil is born or made – the question at the heart of Seas of Snow. As a scholar at Oxford, her lifelong passion for poetry took flight. Kerensa lives in West London and over the last few years has developed a career in digital enterprise.
IN HER OWN WORDS…
“I’ve been writing stories and poems ever since I was a little girl. Although it’s taken me a long time to get around to writing a book, I’m lucky enough to have had a long career in the media as a TV producer, writing television programmes. Most of the time viewers would have had no idea who I was, but my words have informed, educated and entertained millions over the years. I produced, directed, wrote for and worked with some of the most amazing people including Nelson Mandela, Sir David Frost (I was Programme Editor of Breakfast with Frost), Sir David Attenborough, Fiona Bruce, Sian Williams, James Nesbitt, George Alagiah and Rory Bremner. I moved away from programme making to strategy and became the BBC’s Head of Strategic Delivery where I designed and delivered strategies for the Corporation, including a significant digital strategy (BBC Make it Digital). I now run The Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award.
I’ve always used literature, and poetry in particular, for solace and escape. I happen to think literature is probably the best self-help on the planet! You can fly into other worlds and find ways through writing to make sense of life. SEAS of SNOW draws together some of my passions and fascinations in life. While I was at university, I studied the psychoanalysis of fairy tales and got very interested in archetypes and the way characters and stories of good and evil are portrayed.
While leading the BBC News coverage of the Soham investigation, I had the opportunity to see first-hand a lot of evidence about the mind and motives of a psychopath. So in SEAS of SNOW, the protagonist Gracie uses poetry and playtime to escape the traumas and abuses of her life; the antagonist, her Uncle Joe, is a bad man, a psychopath; and there is a subtext of fairy tale underlying the page-turning scenario which hopefully makes you want to read while half covering your eyes.”

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS


Website:
http://www.seasofsnow.com/
Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/KerensaJenningsAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/zinca


Buying links:

Foyles: bit.ly/Foyles-SeasofSnow-KerensaJennings
Waterstones: bit.ly/Waterstones-SeasofSnow-KerensaJennings
Amazon UK:  bit.ly/AmUK-SeasofSnow-KerensaJennings

Amazon US:  bit.ly/AmUS-SeasofSnow-KerensaJennings


Don't forget to check out the other blog tour stops.




Monday, 19 March 2018

The Temptation of Gracie - Santa Montefiore



The ladies of the Badley Compton Book Club are left astounded when their usually unadventurous member, Gracie Burton, impulsively books a holiday to an old castle in Italy, where she'll learn authentic Italian cookery. Gracie is a widow and lives alone in Devon, with only her dogs for company. She does have a daughter, Carina, but she lives in London and is always busy, immersed in her own business, (and herself), and hardly ever visits or even rings her mother. When her granddaughter, Anastasia, finds out what her grandmother has planned, she provokes her mum into going with Gracie and taking her along too. So the three of them fly off to Castello Montefosco in Tuscany, where hopefully they'll get to know each other a little better.

It's not long before Gracie begins to share her long kept secret with Anastasia. It seems Gracie has had more adventure in her life than everyone thought! The present catches up with the past, that is a past that's filled with hidden crime and scandal, a count and a castle, love, deception, and tragedy.

I loved this book. The delicious characters are all bursting with personality, and you can actually taste the scorching Italian atmosphere. It's a wonderful story that swept me away to another time and place. A compelling read, oh, and perhaps just a little reminder that we shouldn't always judge a book by its cover.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Villa of Secrets - Patricia Wilson






Villa of Secrets is far more than just a good read. It's a journey, an adventure and an epic love story.

In Paradissi, a village in Rhodes, Naomi looks after her grandmother who is recovering after a recent stroke. She is given some old diaries to read and so discovers the truth about the horrors endured by the Jews living on the island during the war.

Meanwhile, in London, Naomi's estranged sister, Rebecca, receives several strange packages from Rhodes. Her future in turmoil, she returns to the island ten years after the terrible fight that had caused her to leave. Reunited, the sisters begin to uncover their grandmother's incredible past.

This book encompasses it all. Tales of unbelievable atrocities, courage and the struggle to survive and of friendship and devotion, love, loss, and tragedy. It's a history lesson - a real eye-opener but it's also a truly exceptional love story. Literally breath-taking in parts, it's a book you'll get lost in and certainly one you won't forget.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman



I've heard so much lately about this book, but who or what is Eleanor Oliphant? Well, she's a young lady working in the office of a graphic design company. Eleanor is a bit of a loner, certainly not part of the 'in crowd' at work, far from it. She's very intelligent, but when it comes to social skills, her naivety is often funny and almost always painful. Early on in the book, there are hints of some kind of terrible trauma in her childhood which has obviously impacted on her adult life. The details slowly emerge, but it's not until the end that the full horror of her early life is revealed.

Eleanor strives to be normal. She wants to love and be loved and she thinks she knows what to do to achieve just that. When she catches sight of Johnnie Lomand, she knows that they are destined to be together and she hatches a plan to achieve her goal. Unfortunately, Eleanor learns that reality isn't quite that straightforward and things don't exactly go the way she had hoped.

Eleanor's adventure was full of unexpected events. I found her story totally captivating. I willed her on to do the right thing, make the right decision, flinching when she failed and at one point I even feared for her life.

I was totally absorbed in this book. I couldn't stop thinking about Eleanor and she was on my mind way after I finished the last page. Meeting Eleanor was a wonderful, unique experience and one I shall always treasure. I think she found a little spot in my heart that hadn't been touched before. She made me laugh and she made me cry and this is the book that I'll be buying as presents and recommending to all other family and friends. This book is pretty special.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

The Last Secret of the Deverills - Santa Montefiore



It is 1939 and peace has flourished since the Great War ended. But much has changed for the Deverill family and now a new generation is waiting in the wings.
Martha Wallace came to Dublin from her home in America to find her birth mother. But instead she has lost her heart to the impossibly charming JP Deverill. Then she discovers that her mother comes from the same place as JP, and her fate seems sealed.

Bridie Doyle, now Countess di Marcantonio and mistress of Castle Deverill, is determined to make the castle she used to work in her home. But her flamboyant husband Cesare has other ideas. And as his eye strays away from his wife, those close to the couple start to wonder if he really is who he says he is.

Kitty Deverill has come to terms with her life with her husband Robert, and their two children. But then Jack O’Leary, the love of her life, returns to Ballinakelly. And this time his heart belongs elsewhere…

What I thought:

This is the third book in the Deverill Chronicles, and after loving books one and two, I couldn't wait to be swept away back to Ballinakelly, Ireland, for book three.


It's now 1939 and this captivating, historical drama, centered around Castle Deverill and the lives of Kitty, Bridie, Celia and co. continues. We say a sad farewell to some favourite characters but also welcome a new generation who have to deal with the devastating consequences of their elders' secrets and lies, both past and present. The outbreak of war brings a distraction from torment for some but tragedy for others.

A tale of forbidden love, brutal murders, bitterness and regret, but also of forgiveness, this book ticked all the boxes for me. It took me to another time and place, far away from real life, where it made me gasp, smile and with a wipe of my eye, left me heaving a sigh of total contentment.

Although the final book in this trilogy, it can be read alone, but honestly, you really should read all three and you'll enjoy a truly wonderful fictional journey.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

The Ludlow Ladies Society - Ann O'Loughlin

From the bestselling author of The Ballroom Café and The Judge's Wife comes a new story of friendship, resilience and compassion, and how women support each other through the most difficult times.
Connie Carter has lost everyone and everything dear to her. Leaving her home in New York, she moves to a run-down Irish mansion, hoping to heal her shattered heart and in search of answers: how could her husband do the terrible things he did? And why did he plough all their money into the dilapidated Ludlow Hall before he died, without ever telling her?
At first Connie tries to avoid the villagers, until she meets local women Eve and Hetty who introduce her to the Ludlow Ladies’ Society, a crafts group in need of a permanent home. Connie soon discovers Eve is also struggling with pain and the loss of having her beloved Ludlow Hall repossessed by the bank and sold off. Now, seeing the American Connie living there, the hurt of losing everything is renewed. Can these women ever be friends? Can they ever understand or forgive?
As the Ludlow Ladies create memory quilts to remember those they have loved and lost, the secrets of the past finally begin to surface. But can Connie, Eve and Hetty stitch their lives back together?

What I thought:

Ann O'Loughlin's last book, The Judge's Wife, was one of my favourite books last year, so I was absolutely delighted to receive a copy of her new release, The Ludlow Ladies Society. I didn't know if I would be disappointed after her last amazing book, but I needn't have worried - The Ludlow Ladies Society is a stunning read. 

First of all, don't be fooled into thinking this book is just about the gossip from a ladies' sewing group - it is SO much more. Enriched with friendship and loyalty, it also tells of raw grief and sadness, a little shocking and uncomfortable at times, but so very compelling.

It was quite difficult for Eve Brannigan to see someone else take ownership of Ludlow Hall. She had often affectionately been called "Mrs Ludlow" and the women in her sewing group called themselves The Ludlow Ladies Society. Before her husband's suicide, their meetings were held at the Hall, but since the bailiffs moved in and she moved out, the group had struggled to find anywhere suitable for the ladies to sew their patchwork quilts.

Connie Carter, a dance teacher, seeks solitude to come to terms with her overwhelming grief. Unknowing to her, her late husband had bought Ludlow Hall, so she decides to leave everything behind in New York and she moves to the Hall in Rosdaniel, Co. Wicklow. She has no idea about the history of Ludlow Hall or of the Ludlow Ladies Society, and her arrival causes quite a stir in the village.

The Ludlow Ladies agree to make a memory quilt for an exhibition in the Town Hall. The winners will go forward to exhibit at a special event to be visited by the First Lady, Michelle Obama. It soon becomes clear that not everyone's memories are happy ones and some shocking secrets are unearthed.

 I adored the endearing characters of the Ludlow Ladies Society. It's a book that is equally heartwarming and heartbreaking and delivers a shockingly, unexpected twist. A truly beautiful book to read.

Monday, 3 July 2017

The Summer of Impossible Things - Rowan Coleman


If you could change the past, would you?
****This summer, get ready to believe in Impossible Things with the brand new book from international bestseller, Rowan Coleman. ****
How far would you go to save the person you love?
Luna is about to do everything she can to save her mother's life.
Even if it means sacrificing her own.

What I thought:

I would never normally choose to read a book about time  travel. It usually brings to mind Doctor Who and the like, and not something I would really be interested in, but this story is nothing whatsoever like that. It's just a delight, the time travel just adds another layer to this fabulous read.

It's 2007 and after many years of crippling depression, Luna and Pia's mum tragically takes her own life. It's only when they watch a video that she left for them, that they discover the shocking secret she was unable to share with her family while she was still alive.

It was 1977 in Brooklyn, when their parents met and fell in love. Henry, their father, was with a film crew filming Saturday Night Fever and when his work there was done and he returned home to England, she left everything behind and came back with him.

The girls return to Brooklyn to finalise the sale of their mother's childhood home, and it's then that the magic begins to happen. Slipping back to 1977, Luna comes face to face with her mother, then a teenager, and she sees a chance to change the past and maybe even save her mother's life.

This is a wonderful story. The word, magical, keeps coming to mind, probably because that's just how it felt. The time travel aspect just sort of fits. At the end of the day, it's a story, a story of love and sorrow and of impossible, magical happenings. A delight to read.