Love the Smell of a Book’s – January Monthly Round Up

I have had a manic January, taking part in my first blog tours and cover reveals which has been really exciting and I would like to thank Rachel’s Random Resources for offering me places to take part.

I have read and reviewed 10 brilliant books in January and been lucky enough to read some memorable books over a variety of genres, which have made me laugh, cry and read passages aloud as I have loved them so much. I have also had the privilege to speak to some lovely authors about their books.

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My 5* Read of the Month – Happiness for Beginners by Carole Matthews was my 5* read of the month which is due for release and the end of February, the eye catching cover won me over and I loved that it was based on a farm – click here for my full review

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Most Memorable Read of the Month – Something to Live For by Richard Roper – I love having the chance to read a book by a new author and was fascinated and intrigued by Andrew and was keen to keep reading and learn about his story – full review to follow later this week.

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Thanks to everyone for all your likes and shares, I am looking forward to reading and sharing more fantastic books throughout February.

Argemourt by Corinna Edwards-Colledge

A superb book, the cover conveys the darkness behind the story and captured my attention straight away.

I love a historical psychological thriller, this was a cherry pop author for me and I will definitely be reading more. The story mixes the current terror threats and fears with events from World War II, throughout the story it crosses between present day and 1944.

The characters are well defined and the issues include loss, loneliness, grief, family and the terrors of war for all involved. The setting of Argemourt is a beautiful idyllic location that is haunted by its past. A highly recommended read that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Book Blurb

A Village haunted by the past, two people haunted by the present.

Haute Vienne, France, 1944, and the retreating Nazis leave a trail of horror and destruction in their wake. When Michelle’s estranged Great Aunt leaves her a cottage in a quiet French village, she finds her own experience of loss and heartache reflected in the tragic history of Argemourt.

Young Parisian student, Paul, is living in a city still reeling after a series of terrorist attacks. The aftermath is inescapable, breeding suspicion and anger, even in his own family. Increasingly, Paul finds himself retreating into the past, but discovers it is a place of horror, as well as escape.

When, through twists of fate, the two of them meet in the village of Argemourt; the ghosts of past and present are awakened. Can Michelle and Paul find a way to help the dead rest; and themselves live and love; in a world that never seems to learn the lessons of history?

Available to purchase from Amazon

About the Author

I was born in Chorlton-cum-Hardy in Manchester, close to some magical places like Stile Woods and Alderley Edge. I spent many happy hours exploring them, and the beauty and mystical qualities they offered have been part of my enduring love of the natural world; something you will probably pick up on in my novels!

I am also inspired by the complexity and depth of human relationships – such as the way we can carry guilt and regret around with us like old luggage, but also have the power to move on and change. I suppose you could say I’m an old fashioned optimist who ultimately believes in the strength of love and the human spirit.

The writing bug has been with me pretty much all of my life, starting with winning a competition at the age of seven for my poem about a Salmon! My ultimate ambition is to give back some small portion of the joy I have got from reading great stories by writing some of my own.

I studied English and Media at the University of Sussex and have worked in kids playschemes, run volunteering organisations, run the newsroom for a local TV news programme, and even trodden the boards, in a play written by and starring the late Brian Behan. For the last thirteen years I have run a scheme for the local council that helps people get more active for their health and well-being.

I live in Brighton with my husband, kids, step-kids and a menagerie of pets, including a seagull that has adopted us and a tarantula called Doris! As well as writing I love cooking very hot curries, going on long walks and sitting in cosy pubs – but then who doesn’t

2018 – A Small Chink out of my TBR Pile!

I have had an absolutely amazing year for reading, I have smashed my target of 100 books which I thought was optimistic when I set it and have been lucky enough to read some truly amazing and memorable reads that have stayed with me.
I have been trying to think about my Top 5-10 books for the year and it is so hard to decide and so I am still debating if I can actually condense it down into a few books that are my absolute favourites.
So far as of mid December I have read 109 books which translates to a massive 31892 pages! This is a number that will continue to increase as I am planning on some major reading sessions over the Christmas holidays as that is my favourite way to relax.
Here is a visual summary of the books I have read so far in 2018, this is a mixture of authors I have read before and loved, some cherry pop reads and some debut releases!
If you are looking for a read over the festive season I can promise that all of the books featured above are all fantastic reads with a bit of something for everyone and I am really excited to see what new releases 2019 will have to offer!

Day 1 Festive Reads Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye

I was lucky enough to receive a copy from HQ Digital, I have previously loved Vanessa Lafaye’s books and it was a privilege to receive this beautiful story to read.

I would recommend clearing a few hours in your day and picking up this delightful read, as once you pick it up you won’t want to put it back down. As this story unfolds it is packed full of love and loss and sweeps you along in the lives of the young orphans Clara & Jacob Marley and introduces you to Ebenezer Scrooge.

A beautiful read that kicks off my 24 days of Christmas festive reads perfectly, wonderfully crafted by the late Vanessa Lafaye and completed by the extremely talented Becca Mascull. I was left in awe after putting this book down and unsure of how to find the words to sing its praises as highly as it deserves. A true masterpiece that I look forward to reading each year, it is a beautiful tribute to A Christmas Carol and recaptures the true warmth of Christmas.

Book Blurb

Before A Christmas Carol there was… Miss Marley

A seasonal tale of kindness and goodwill

Orphans Clara and Jacob Marley live by their wits, scavenging for scraps in the poorest alleyways of London, in the shadow of the workhouse. Every night, Jake promises his little sister ‘tomorrow will be better’ and when the chance to escape poverty comes their way, he seizes it despite the terrible price.

And so Jacob Marley is set on a path that leads to his infamous partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge. As Jacob builds a fortress of wealth to keep the world out, only Clara can warn him of the hideous fate that awaits him if he refuses to let love and kindness into his heart…

Miss Marley

Available to purchase here

About the Author

Rebecca Mascull is the author of three historical novels and also writes saga fiction under the pen-name Mollie Walton. Visit her websites for more information: https://molliewalton.co.uk/ & https://rebeccamascull.co.uk/

She is currently hard at work on her next trilogy of historical fiction, with the first novel slated for publication in spring 2019 to be published by Bonnier Zaffre as The Ironbridge Saga. These will be published under the name of Mollie Walton and the first book in the series is set in the dangerous world of the iron industry: THE DAUGHTERS OF IRONBRIDGE.

Her first novel THE VISITORS (2014) tells the story of Adeliza Golding, a deaf-blind child living on her father’s hop farm in Victorian Kent. Her second novel SONG OF THE SEA MAID (2015) is set in the C18th and concerns an orphan girl who becomes a scientist and makes a remarkable discovery. Her third novel, THE WILD AIR (2017) is about a shy Edwardian girl who learns to fly and becomes a celebrated aviatrix but the shadow of war is looming. All are published by Hodder & Stoughton.

If you enjoy Rebecca’s novels, please consider leaving an Amazon review! This is very helpful to authors and can make their books more visible on the site. Thank you.

Social media links:

https://twitter.com/rebeccamascull
https://www.facebook.com/becca.mascull
https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaMascull/
https://www.facebook.com/MollieWaltonbooks/
https://www.instagram.com/beccamascull/
https://www.pinterest.co.uk/rebeccamascull/

Rebecca is now a full-time writer and had previously worked in education. She has a Masters in Writing and lives by the sea in the East of England.

 

The Foyles Bookshop Girls by Elaine Roberts (The Foyles Girls Book 1)

In this story you get to know the girls and their families as World War I commences. I loved the girls in this book and how the story gave you an insight into events leading up to this story.

This story drew you in so that you felt part of the family and gave you the need to know what happened next with so much at stake for all of the families involved as their boys go off to war.

A brilliant historical fiction read based around the hardworking girls at Foyles Bookshop, this offers a heart wrenching insight into how hard life was for the women left at home and how emotions ran high as war continued. A highly recommended read that will pull at your heart strings.

Book Blurb

London, 1914: one ordinary day, three girls arrive for work at London’s renowned Foyles bookshop. But when war with Germany is declared their lives will never be the same again…

Alice has always been the ‘sensible’ one in her family – especially in comparison with her suffrage-supporting sister! But decidedly against her father’s wishes, she accepts a job at Foyles Bookshop; and for bookworm Alice it’s a dream come true.

But with the country at war, Alice’s happy world is shattered in an instant. Determined to do what she can, Alice works in the bookshop by day, and risks her own life driving an ambulance around bomb-ravaged London by night. But however busy she keeps herself, she can’t help but think of the constant danger those she loves are facing on the frontline…

Alice, Victoria and Molly couldn’t be more different and yet they share a friendship that stems back to their childhood – a friendship that provides everyday solace from the tribulations and heartbreak of war.

 

The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War by Elaine Roberts (The Foyles Girls Book 2)

I absolutely loved the first book in this series and did a happy dance when I saw there were going to be further books. This story gives us the chance to get to know Molly the headstrong member of the trio of girls and her family.

With the war continuing to rage around them Molly feels that she needs to do more for the war efforts and against the advice of Alice and Victoria this book see’s her leaving the safety of The Foyles Bookshop and swapping it for overalls in the munitions factory.

This was a brilliant addition to this lovely heartwarming series, a story of how friendships and events that happened during wartime tied families and friends even closer together and a demonstration of how communities pulled together to help eachother with the constant threat of loss hanging over everyones heads.

I became so lost in this story that I was disappointed that I had reached the end and I can’t wait to be able to revisit the lovely girls at Foyles Bookshop in the third and final book of the series.

Book Blurb

Alice, Victoria and Molly couldn’t be more different and yet they share a friendship that stems back to their childhood – a friendship that provides everyday solace from the tribulations and heartbreak of war. Perfect for fans of Elaine Everest, Daisy Styles and Rosie Hendry.

With their loved ones fighting on the front line the Foyles girls face the trials and tribulations of living in London during the war – yet they hold on to hope that a happy-ever-after isn’t only to be found in the pages of their beloved books…

My October Reading Round Up

Over the past month I have read 16 books and in this pile there are some truly memorable books that will stay with me for a long time. The quality of the new releases recently has been amazing and there are some brilliant upcoming books due to be released including a few fantastic reads by debut authors!

Festive Reads

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I absolutely love Christmas and there are some brilliant festive reads in the pile that I have read over the past month that will definitely get you in the mood for Christmas and leave you wanting to put your decorations up and explore the festive drinks menu at your local coffee shop.

Below I have included the Christmas reads I have read in October and an extract from their reviews.

A Gift from the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson – A fantastic addition to the Comfort Food Cafe series, I have loved snuggling down to read the story of Katie and Saul and I hope that there will be more books set in the lovely idyllic village of Budbury at the Comfort Food Cafe.

The Snowman by Michael Morpurgo – This is a beautiful story that is wonderfully interwoven with the original to ensure that the story of The Snowman released 40 years ago has not been lost. It is the perfect story to curl up with your younger children and read whilst snuggling with a Hot Chocolate and a lovely way for older children to experience the magic of Christmas.

A Miracle on Hope Street by Emma Heatherington – A Miracle on Hope Street is a beautiful story about loss, love and finding a reason to hope again. It is a story full of characters from all walks of life who have loved and lost and through being united are finding reasons to hope again.

No One Cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley – A lovely warm fuzzy read that wraps you in a hug, Will and Sarah are characters you can empathise with and the story that pulls you in, so you keep turning the pages to find out what happens. A highly recommended read that will get you in the mood for Christmas and have you wishing for snow so you can make a snowman and snow angels.

 

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My October 5* Reads

Below I have included the 5* reads I have read in October and an extract from their reviews.

Betsy & Lilibet by Sophie Duffy – I found this story captivating and I quickly became connected to Betsy and wanted to keep reading. She was a strong female in a time where women had no choice but to be strong, these characteristics remained long after the war and paved her way through life.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom – The Five People you Meet in Heaven is a beautiful story that guides you through Eddie’s journey to Heaven and the five people who played a key part in his life along the way.

Will You Remember Me by Amanda Prowse – A story that takes you on the guaranteed rollercoaster of emotions that accompany any book Amanda Prowse writes. It explores relationships, family bonds, friendship and loss and leaves you feeling bereft and that you’ve lost a member of your family.

 

Debut Books

I have had the delight recently of reading a few debut novels that are due to be released!

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How to Bake a New Beginning by Lucy Knott – released in September published by HQ Digital

The cover of this book caught my eye and I am so pleased I picked it up. A brilliant story that I absolutely loved and has made me want to nibble on Italian treats. The characters are memorable and it was set in a beautiful location, the perfect book to curl up with on a chilly evening. I look forward to seeing what Lucy Knott releases next definitely an author to look out for!

 

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The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker by Jenni Keer – due to be released in January published by Avon Books

I loved this book it is the perfect feel good read with a touch of magic and mystery thrown in. I felt like the characters were my neighbours and I wanted to keep reading to see what happens to Lucy next and whether she finally starts to believe in herself. This is a heart warming debut novel and I look forward to seeing what gems Jenni Keer has in store for us in the future.

 

If you wish to read the full reviews for any of the above books please visit http://www.lovethesmellofabook.com.

All of the above books are available to purchase or pre order at most major book retailers or available on kindle from Amazon 

 

 

 

Betsy and Lilibet by Sophie Duffy

Betsy & Lilibet was a cherrypop for me as I hadn’t previously read a book by Sophie Duffy and the cover caught my attention, well what a brilliant choice this book was to try a different author in one of my favourite genres.

Betsy & Lilibet is written from the perspective of Betsy and is written across two time frames starting in London in 1926 and Bognor present day and as the book progresses the timeline gap closes.

I found this story captivating and I quickly became connected to Betsy and wanted to keep reading. She was a strong female in a time where women had no choice but to be strong, these characteristics remained long after the war and paved her way through life.

During this story I felt empathy for Betsy as she always felt out shined by her sister Margie and compassion for her relationship with Janet that is never the same after she makes a decision that alters the courses of both of their lives.

Betsy is a strong and dignified character that controls her emotions from a young age and treats everyone as equals, learning the family trade at a tender age and then taking over her parents business as a Funeral Director when they retire. Throughout this wonderful story there are some fantastic phrases that I felt resonated and gave the strong message that everyone should be treated with respect both in life and in death – “We’re all equal. We come into the world with nothing and we leave with nothing and what we have in between is only borrowed us”.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend Betsy & Lilibet, Sophie Duffy is an author I will now look out for and I will be purchasing her previous books as I loved the writing style in which this heart warming story was written.

 

Book Blurb

London, 1926. Two baby girls are born just hours and miles apart. One you know as the Queen of England, but what of the other girl- the daughter of an undertaker named in her honour? Betsy Sunshine grows up surrounded by death in war-torn London, watching her community grieve for their loved ones whilst dealing with her own teenage troubles… namely her promiscuous sister Margie. As Betsy grows older we see the how the country changes through her eyes, and along the way we discover the birth of a secret that threatens to tear her family apart.

 

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz: based on the heart-breaking true story of love and survival by Heather Morris

Heart-breaking – a tale of love and survival amidst the horrors of Auschwitz
Human – the real story behind one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust – the blue numbers tattooed on prisoners’ arms
Inspirational – the very best of humanity in the very worst of circumstances
Unforgettable – a story untold for over seventy years is finally shared
Life-affirming – one man’s determination to survive and live a full life with the woman he loved
Fully verified – Lale Sokolov’s background and story has been fact-checked against all available documentary evidence

The Story

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jews, who survived Auschwitz and eventually made their home in Australia. In that terrible place, Lale was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – literally scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Lale used the infinitesimal freedom of movement that this position awarded him to exchange jewels and money taken from murdered Jews for food to keep others alive. If he had been caught he would have been killed; many owed him their survival.

There have been many books about the Holocaust – and there will be many more. What makes this one so memorable is Lale Sokolov’s incredible zest for life. He understood exactly what was in store for him and his fellow prisoners and he was determined to survive – not just to survive, but to leave the camp with his dignity and integrity intact, to live his life to the full. Terrible though this story is, it is also a story of hope and of courage. It is also – almost unbelievably – a love story. Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight and he determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure that Gita did, too. His story – their story – will make you weep, but you will also find it uplifting. It shows the very best of humanity in the very worst of circumstances.

Like many survivors, Lale and Gita told few people their story after the war. They eventually made their way to Australia, where they raised a son and had a successful life. But when Gita died, Lale felt he could no longer carry the burden of their past alone. He chose to tell his story.

 

My Review

I finished reading this yesterday after reading in 2 straight sittings, it is a powerful and compelling read. I had already read some amazing reviews about this book and they piqued my interest and the book did not disappoint.

Based on a true account of the amazingly courageous Lale and his time in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. This book is thought provoking, it draws you in as you get to know Lale and how he adapts to survive and the relationships he develops with those around him. It reflects on love, loss and the horrors experienced first hand for those in the Concentration Camps during this time. The style in which it is written allows you to understand Lale and see how and why he made the decision to survive and undertake the task of tattooing the numbers onto those arriving to the Auschwitz Camp.

This honest reflection shows how despite horrendous living conditions and malnutrition people of different nationalities and religions developed relationships trying to hold on to their humanity in the hope that they may walk again outside the confines of the electric fences.

This has been one of my top reads for 2017 and I hope it gains the recognition it deserves as it has been written with the utmost respect to the memory of Lale and Gita.