Best of the best in 2017

tea n book quote

I’ve had another wonderful year of reading and managed to finish 120 books.  From the 120 books read 52 of them were from new authors to me, so you can say 2017 was the year of discovering new talent.

It’s always very difficult for a book lover to choose their favourite reads of the year.  I enjoy many books from a wide variety of genres and tend to rate them by my overall enjoyment.  However, I would like to highlight a few that I particularly loved:

The Wild Warriners series by Virginia Heath.  Mills and Boon Historical writer Virginia Heath created a new series for us this year and I completely fell in love with it.  The Warriners are four brothers trying to escape the bad reputation that their late father has left them with.  We have been introduced to two of the brothers to-date and shortly in the new year we will be treated to another instalment from the Warriners.  I would say it’s like a 19th century rural middle England ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.’

the-bear-and-the-nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.  The Bear and The Nightingale is a grown up version of a fairytale set in Russia dealing with loss, grief, family struggles, forbidden love with a wonderful mystery of mythology and unknown magical creatures.  This book and it’s story would look impressive with a big movie budget bringing all the characters and creatures to life, a blockbuster in the making.

all the good things

All the Good Things by Clare Fisher.  A very moving, insightful story that was full of real life raw emotions, there was no sugar coating around the edges of life’s turbulent at times bumps in the road. A wonderful, inspiring debut that I feel should be read by all that have any involvement with young people. The words from this book will stay with me for a long time.

bamboo heart

Bamboo Heart by Ann Bennett.  The author, Ann Bennett, wrote with such passion and honesty. She left no scene without telling the shocking truth of a young man’s struggle to survive in the most terrifying of ordeals. The story sounds quite oppressive but it wasn’t as you were dealing with real people’s emotions and even during times of war love always found a way to bring sunshine and hope to your days.

the woolly hat knitting club

The Woolly Hat Knitting Club by Poppy Dolan.  This was a joy to read.  Poppy Dolan has created the most delightful, charming romcom that leaves you with a wonderful warm cosy feeling.

summer of impossible things

The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman.  This novel got me from the start to the finish. I was captivated by this almost other worldly love story. A story of a love between a mother and a daughter; a story of a love that seemed almost impossible to believe but the consequence of never feeling the strength of this love is almost too heart breaking to think about.

the secret life of alfred nightingale

The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale by Rebecca StonehillThis was such a profoundly moving novel that evoked many emotions in me. A story cleverly told in two different time frames from two generations of one family going through a pivotal time in their own lives which would leave a lasting impression forever.

walking wounded

Walking Wounded by Anna Franklin Osborne.  This was such an emotive story that deeply moved me, at one point I had to stop reading due to the tears blurring my vision.  The author takes you on a very emotional journey, one that millions took that had no choice but to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ but behind the smiles lay troubled souls and broken hearts.

teacup border

As many of you will know I love my loose leaf tea and some my favourite blends this year have been:

  • William Wilberforce Blend by The Tea Shop, Hull.  A lovely blend of African black teas.  To find out more details and buy http://teashophull.co.uk/
  • White Bellini by The Tea Experience, UK.  A gentle white tea that’s fruity and refreshing.  To find out more details and buy http://www.teaexperience.co.uk/
  • Cinnamon Bun by Jollybrew Tea.  A festive blend of black tea with a warming taste of cinnamon.  To find out more details and buy https://www.jollybrew.co.uk/
  • Ceylon Decaff by Tea Shirt Tailored Refreshments.  A lovely well-rounded black tea without caffeine.  To find out more details and buy https://tea-shirt.co.uk/
  • Lemongrass and Ginger by Chai Kai Tea Company.  This is a perfect combination to drink at any time of the day but especially comforting when you are suffering with a cold.  To find out more details and buy http://chaikaitea.com/

I’d like to thank you all for the support I’ve received this year sharing the love of reading and books.  Wishing you all a wonderful, happy, healthy 2018.

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The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale by Rebecca Stonehill book review

the secret life of alfred nightingale

The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale written and published by Rebecca Stonehill is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:  http://amzn.to/2zFC5xi

Product Details (as per amazon page)

A compelling page turner of a buried past resurfacing, set against a backdrop of the 1960’s youth culture and war torn Crete.

1967. Handsome but troubled, Jim is almost 18 and he lives and breathes girls, trad jazz, Eel Pie Island and his best friend, Charles. One night, he hears rumours of a community of young people living in caves in Matala, Crete. Determined to escape his odious, bully of a father and repressed mother, Jim hitchhikes through Europe down to Matala. At first, it’s the paradise he dreamt it would be. But as things start to go wrong and his very notion of self unravels, the last thing Jim expects is for this journey of hundreds of miles to set in motion a passage of healing which will lead him back to the person he hates most in the world: his father.

Taking in the counter-culture of the 1960’s, the clash of relationships between the WW2 generation and their children, the baby boomers, this is a novel about secrets from the past finally surfacing, the healing of trauma and the power of forgiveness.

A captivating story that will mesmerise fans of Lucinda Riley, Dinah Jefferies and Tracy Rees.

caves of Matala

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this novel.  All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

This was such a profoundly moving novel that evoked many emotions in me.  A story cleverly told in two different time frames from two generations of one family going through a pivotal time in their own lives which would leave a lasting impression forever.

The author, Rebecca Stonehill, swept me away to a time in 1967, to a place of free spirit, young love and a time of self-discovery.  This particular part of the story was quite fascinating.  An adventure for the youngsters who quite bravely took this journey.  The caves of Matala with their steeped history intrigued me and with the backdrop of the beach and sea I can understand the draw especially with the Mediterranean temperatures.  For young Jim though, who was hellbent on escaping the stifling relationships at home, it wasn’t the idyllic retreat he expected.  As the days drew on he felt like something was missing, he was hurting inside with unresolved angst from home and the young love he craved wasn’t like he’d dreamed.

I was then transported back to a beautiful coastal area of Crete to 1940 when British forces were posted to defend Suda Bay and the British ships.  This beautiful area was soon to become tarnished and the locals and military personnel were fearing for their lives due to the onset of WWII.  Rebecca Stonehill took me to this terrifying time when the man you eat, sleep, work with becomes your closest friend in the world.  He’s your brother in arms that you will trust with your life and share your innermost thoughts with.  We see a different side to a character that our first impressions of are so far from the truth.

The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale is a historical timeslip novel about friendship, about self-discovery, about grief, about young love and much, much more.  Beautifully poignant, emotive and informative.

To learn more about Rebecca Stonehill and her work please do visit the following pages:

Website:  http://rebeccastonehill.com/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/bexstonehill

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/RebeccaStonehillBooks/

The Poet’s Wife by Rebecca Stonehill book review

imageThe Poet’s Wife by Rebecca Stonehill is available now in ebook format and paperback.

To buy links:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Poets-Wife-unforgettable-historical-family-ebook/dp/B00NFZTSDC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1432749384&sr=1-1&keywords=the+poets+wife

Product Details (as per amazon page)

An unforgettable journey into the heart of one family torn apart by war.
Granada, 1920. Free-spirited Luisa and young poet Eduardo fall in love, cementing a bond that can never be broken.
Behind the jasmine filled courtyard, perched amongst houses like clouds on a hilltop, stands a beautiful villa; Carmen de las Estrellas. Beneath its walls live Eduardo and Luisa with their thriving family, but war is looming, casting its shadow over the household.
When Civil War finally breaks out, Luisa and Eduardo must fiercely protect those dear to them. Yet these are turbulent times, and as each of their children begin to make their way in the world, the solace of home cannot shield them from the horrors of war.
The Poet’s Wife is an extraordinary piece of storytelling spanning over fifty years – a heart-wrenching novel of a family devastated by war but bound together by love, loss and hope, told through the eyes of three remarkable women.

“esperanza”

The Poet’s Wife is the debut novel by Rebecca Stonehill.  Rebecca Stonehill was a London girl but is now residing in Nairobi where she is a creative writing teacher.  Rebecca spent 18 months living in Granada and fell in love with the area and was inspired to write The Poet’s Wife.

I’d like to thank the publishers and netgalley for an arc of this novel in return for an honest review.

This was a very moving portrayal of a family’s struggles and survival during the Spanish revolution.  The story was told from the eyes of the female members of the family panning three generations.  The tragedies they felt and saw.  The hardship of surviving with little or no food.  The fear of leaving their own home.  The casualties of the civil war.  Amongst all these terrible days, months and years love had intertwined into their lives and it was a wonderful blessing.  From the author’s words I felt the heartbreak of these atrocities, the fear surrounding them but I also felt the warmth from the love that had blossomed.  A very well written historical family saga I can highly recommend.

A beautiful but tragic moving story, 4.5*/5 read.

To find out more about Rebecca Stonehill please visit the following links:

http://rebeccastonehill.com/

https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaStonehillBooks

https://twitter.com/bexstonehill