Blog Tour Extract: Smile of The Wolf by Tim Leach

Congratulations.png


Leach_SMILE OF THE WOLF_preview.jpeg Smile of the Wolf by Tim Leach

Publisher: Head of Zeus
Published: 12th July 2018
ISBN13: 9781788544108

Goodreads

Description

Eleventh-century Iceland. One night in the darkness of winter, two friends set out on an adventure but end up killing a man. Kjaran, a traveling poet who trades songs for food and shelter, and Gunnar, a feared warrior, must make a choice: conceal the deed or confess to the crime and pay the blood price to the family. But their decision leads to a brutal feud: one man is outlawed, free to be killed by anyone without consequence; the other remorselessly hunted by the dead man’s kin. Set in a world of ice and snow, this is an epic story of exile and revenge, of duels and betrayals, and two friends struggling to survive in a desolate landscape, where honor is the only code that men abide by.


Tim Leach is a graduate of the Warwick Writing Programme, where he now teaches as an Assistant Professor. His first novel, The Last King of Lydia, was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize.


This book really intrigues me, I very rarely read historical fiction but when I do I usually end up loving them. This book though is a whole new thing for me. This sort of book seem to be extremely popular at the moment, so this book is perfect for fans. This extract has me extremely interested and it’s been put on the TBR. The writing style is brilliant, it flows like a song and is wonderful. I’m intrigued by the characters, the setting and how the story actually started. I hope you like it, be prepared though, it is a long one!!


Extract

3

In the long winter, even the wealthiest of Icelanders curses the day that their ancestors came to this land. They forget the dream of the people, that dream of a world without kings, and know only that they live in a dark, lonesome place. But when the sun begins to ride higher in the sky and the snow begins to quicken and thaw, it is an easy land to love. The dream grows strong once more, for we are a stubborn people.
Men and women emerge from their homes like bears from their winter caves, the sunlight feeling as sharp on the eye as a blade against the skin. They break the ice from the rivers, begin the first sowing of the crops, free their herds to wander to the high mountain pastures, go to trade for supplies and visit distant friends. And as they travel the stories travel with them.
There had been no more sightings of the ghost of Hrapp. Rumour spread that it was Olaf who had killed the ghost, since he was the last to have seen and fought with it. He denied it, honourable man that he was, but they mistook his honesty for modesty, and so the story spread.
As for Erik, there were stories of him, too. Some thought he had fallen through the ice in a river, others claimed he had gone in search of lost sheep and wandered, lost himself, until the cold murdered him. There were many who said that the winter madness had taken him as it takes so many, that he had cast himself from a cliff or gone to lie down in the snow and waited to die. They had seen him lonely, as I had, and knew it was a hard thing for a man to make it through the winter alone. I waited to see if any would make the connection between the two stories, between Erik and the ghost. But no man did. It takes a woman to think in that way.

*

A pile of blunt weapons beside me and the whetstone at my feet – that is what the first day of spring means to me. For soon we would be hunting again, and so whilst Gunnar tended the herd I took the weapons of the house to the sharpening stone.
I was working on my weapon of choice, my spear, and enjoying the feel of the sun on my face, when I heard the door of the longhouse swing open. I listened; would it be the whispering footfalls of Freydis, Gunnar’s daughter? The stamping tread of Kari, the boy who wished to be thought of as a man, and who mimicked the heavy steps of his elders, though he did not have their weight? The children liked to play with me, fascinated by my red hair, convinced it was some trick or illusion. When the day’s chores were done I would lumber around on all fours chasing them through the house, or tell them the stories my father told me – the old Irish stories of the Red Branch and the Fianna – whilst Gunnar watched and grinned and shook his head, and told me I had missed my vocation as a nursemaid. Perhaps they had come to bother me early.
It was not the children who stepped out. It was the strong tread of Dalla, Gunnar’s wife, and I saw her lean around the edge of the turf wall and look upon me.
She could have been a rare beauty, black haired and pale skinned, were it not for her warrior’s nose, broken and reset long ago, so that it was almost flat against her face – a parting gift from her father, or so Gunnar told me. In truth her shattered nose suited her, for she was a hard woman, well suited to these lands. Without a word she dipped a horn cup into the pail of milk she carried and offered it to me.
‘My thanks,’ I said as I drank it down, still warm and thick.
‘Hard work,’ she said.
‘It is. Harder to sharpen a spear than to use it, easier to kill a beast than to skin it…’ I trailed off. There was an ending to that proverb that I did not wish to speak.
‘Easier to kill a man than to bury him,’ she said, finishing the saying.
The night we came back from hunting the ghost we had found her awake, for it was in the early hours of the dawn when we returned, stumbling with exhaustion and covered in the filth of battle and burial. Her hard eyes asked the question and perhaps words would have followed. But Gunnar had reached out and taken her by the hands. He closed his eyes, and I thought for a moment that he would shame himself with weeping. But when he opened his eyes again, they were clear. He kissed her on the forehead and said: ‘Please, do not ask me. All is well. But do not ask.’
She had looked at the bite on his hand, the blunted edge of his sword, the marks on his shield. She read a story in our eyes, the eyes of men exhausted with killing, and it seemed as though she did not wish the story to be spoken. She let us go to sleep, rolled up in furs upon the floor, and when we woke she asked no questions. From the way she acted, we could pretend we had dreamed it all: a nightmare of blood and snow and an ill­struck pact.
I looked down and tested the edge of the spear against my thumb. Sharp enough. I took the next blade from the pile and said: ‘I am glad to see the end of winter.’
‘As am I. But I suppose you will be leaving us soon.’
‘I shall,’ I said. For soon it would be the Day of Movement, when a wanderer such as I would have to find a new place to call my home. She put down the pail and sat upon the ground, her back against the house.
‘I wish that you would not go,’ she said.
I smiled at her and sang her an old quatrain:

One must go on,
and not stay a guest
Forever in one place:
A loved one is loathed if he lingers too long
In another man’s hall.

Then I said: ‘It is ill luck to winter twice in one place. One winter makes a man a guest, two makes him a thief. I have never seen it go well.’
She did not answer. Instead she looked down on the weapons at my feet, at one in particular at the top of the pile. Gunnar’s sword, a blade of Ulfberht steel worth more than his farm, its edge still hacked and blunted from winter. I lifted it, and I began to sharpen it against the stone, as carefully as I would have tuned a rare harp.
‘Why would you want me to stay?’ I said.
Her eyes were on the edge of the sword. ‘I am afraid.’
‘There is nothing to be afraid of.’
‘Truly?’
‘Truly.’
She nodded slowly. ‘I shall hold you to those words,’ she said, and there was a hardness to her voice – the kind you hear in the words of a chieftain or the captain of a warband. For that longhouse was her domain: the key to the stores hung around her waist, not Gunnar’s. She would not have me in her home if she did not will it, no matter what Gunnar might say.
‘Your husband has done nothing to bring shame to you,’ I said.
‘He is an honourable man.’
‘As are you.’
I shook my head. ‘No. Honour is a luxury for the wealthy, the brave. I am neither of those things. I cannot afford it. I settle for cunning and loyalty. But Gunnar is an honourable man.’
And as if my words had summoned him, I saw him crest the rise of the hill, bearing a trussed sheep beneath his arm, the stray he had gone in search of. Even at a distance I could see the smile on his face as he waved to us, and I waved back to him and took up a brace of spears from the ground. Once again, it was time for us to hunt.

*

‘Why were you speaking with my wife?’
A dangerous question that Gunnar asked me, as we walked towards the sea. Many have answered it poorly and paid for it with their lives. But Gunnar asked it with a smile on his lips, and so I answered him in kind.
‘The business of love, of course. It is a difficult thing to conduct a love affair in winter. This spring season suits me better.’ I levelled a finger at him, and sang:

For when a husband shepherds sheep
Even a wolf may woo his wife.

He roared then, but there was laughter in it, and in a moment we were wrestling on the ground, laughing and cursing each other in turn, fighting for the lock of the head or trap of an arm that would end the contest. I could not have stood against him with a blade for more than a moment, but there in the grapple his tall and rangy swordsman’s build worked against him and we were evenly matched. Perhaps I could even have beaten him if I had truly been trying, but after a time I was careful to offer him a left arm that he could easily put into a lock. We might have been friends, but it would not do to show up one’s host.
When we rose from the ground, brushing the dirt from our clothes, he handed me the spear I had cast down when we fell and clapped me on the back.
‘We should find you a wife,’ he said. ‘That might stop you from chasing after mine.’
‘A man of no property does not hope for such a thing. Nor does a wanderer want it.’ ‘There is a time when you will grow tired of moving on, Kjaran.’
‘I doubt it.’
‘Where will you go to this time? To Olaf’s house?’
‘The Peacock? Perhaps. I have never much liked a chieftain’s home. Too many people.’
He chewed on the corner of his moustache, his habit when thinking of what to say. I saw it often, for he was not much a man with words. ‘I would like you to stay.’
‘One must go on and not stay a guest—’
‘Yes,’ he said, ‘I know that song. You have sung it often enough. But I wish that it was not so.’ As he said those words we reached the top of a hillock and what I heard struck me into silence. For the first time in many months, I could hear the sound of the sea.
We are a people that came from the sea. We have given it up now, broken our ships for timber, set aside the life of the Viking for that of the farmer, chosen peace. And yet it still calls to us, fills us with that longing to wander upon it, to listen to it speak. It is a great prophet, is the sea: one need only sit upon the shore for a time to know that the answers to all mysteries are contained within the chanting of the waves. But we have lived apart from the sea for so long that we no longer speak its language. And so we look upon it like deafened men towards a singer, trying to understand what has been lost to us.
We come to hunt upon its shore, for any man may claim what falls upon the common ground of the coast. Driftwood from distant lands, whole trees washed white from their long journey, invaluable in a land where the tall trees grow no more. Seals, lost and sick, who come to the shore to die. Wood and meat; with a little luck, a man may earn a
fortune in both from the leavings of the waves.
The drift ice had barely cleared and there would be little offered up by the god of the sea. We were out more to enjoy our freedom than in any hope of finding such a bounty. To walk on grass and not snow, to feel a fragile heat from the sun on our backs and to listen to the sea once more – this was all that we had expected.
Then, a turning of the coast, a cove unseen. There before us, a great black shape so large and so strange that at first I could not name it, sprawled upon the sand and unmoving in the tide so great was its weight. Only the stink of rot – dis tant, but still sharp in the air – gave me understanding. A whale, washed ashore. Long dead and partly rotted, but still a farmer’s fortune in oil and meat and skin.
Yet no sooner had I seen it than I saw something else beyond: three black dots in the distance, hurrying forward. Some rival party of hunters on the common land, and they too had seen the whale. And then the wind was battering against my ears and the shingle crackling beneath my boots as Gunnar and I began to run.
It was a race, for the coast was land that no man laid claim to except by the oldest right of all: by being there first. Gunnar outpaced me and ran ahead, casting aside his sack as he ran but keeping hold of his hunting spear, for to get to the whale empty­handed would mean nothing: dead as it was, we could only claim it by placing the first mark upon it.
Our chase was a lost cause. The other party was closer than we to begin with, and they had a fast runner with them, a shorter man who ran ahead of his companions. We would not come second by much, but I saw no way that we would make up the ground. Still, we ran as hard as we could, for what else was there? To do anything less would be shameful. Something changed in the way Gunnar ran. I thought at first he had stumbled or hurt his foot, for he ran side­face, leading with his left foot for a couple of steps. Then I saw his body arc and twist and heard a great shout as he let the spear fly.
I stopped still and watched it go, the point twisting lazily through the air. I heard a cry from the other party, saw their leading man throw his spear in imitation, but though he was a strong runner his arm was weak and his weapon fell well short. A smack of iron into flesh echoed out across the beach; Gunnar’s spear found its mark.
A cry of victory, and Gunnar and I were walking then, grinning like children who have won a race in the fields. We would offer that other party some portion of the whale as tribute to their efforts, for I had seen feuds start over such things before. Honour would be served and each of us would go home with a prize.
But when we reached the whale and looked upon the other men, I saw the smile fall away from Gunnar’s face. The three who came towards us – I could not name them, yet it seemed that I knew some aspects of them all too well. The hooked shape of the nose of one man, the hard edge of the jaw of another, the coarse black hair that crept over the knuckles of the third – all were familiar to me, as though one man that I knew had been split amongst these three that I did not.
The knowledge came to me then and I knew why Gunnar did not smile.
‘A fine throw,’ said Snorri, the small quick man who had almost beaten us to the carcass. Gunnar licked his dry lips.‘Thank you.’
‘Your skald should compose a song for it.’ This from Hakon, the eldest.
‘The Saga of the Rotting Whale.’ They laughed. We did not. The largest man – I remembered his name as Björn – noted our silence, and his great black brows came together in a frown.
Snorri, Björn and Hakon. The sons of Harold the Serpenttongue. Brothers of the man we had killed.
I had heard that they had spent the winter travelling from one man’s house to another, searching for news of their brother. They had never come to Gunnar’s farmstead, for we were too far from Erik’s farm to fall under suspicion. But they had questioned many others in the first month that their brother went missing, leaving only an empty house behind. There had been no feud, no man who stood to gain from his death, no one who could give them any clue as to what had befallen Erik. They were left only with that unknowing, that hollow in the mind when a loss cannot be answered for.
‘I am sorry to hear of your brother,’ Gunnar said.
‘What do you know of it?’ asked Hakon.
‘Only what all men know.’ Björn spoke.
‘They seem to know nothing at all,’ he said.
‘Perhaps it was an outlaw that killed him.’
‘Why would you say that?’
‘It seems the most likely thing.’
‘It is not our place to guess, Gunnar,’ I said. I looked to Hakon. ‘If I hear anything more than rumour, I will tell it to you.’
‘I thank you, Kjaran.’ He clapped me on the shoulder. ‘It is good to talk with you once more. It would be even better to hear you sing again. My wife still speaks of your last visit; you must come to us soon. Gunnar cannot keep you to himself for two winters now, can he? Perhaps you will winter with my family this year?’
‘Perhaps I will. I would like that.’
‘You are always welcome in my home.’ He slapped the flank of the whale and its flesh rippled at his touch. ‘A rich prize. What will you do with it?’
Gunnar said nothing. The brothers looked to one another. Then Björn spoke, a blunt demand: ‘What portion of the whale will you give us?’
‘Björn,’ Snorri said, a warning in his voice. He turned back to us and smiled. ‘But I am sure that so honourable a man as Gunnar will not begrudge us some share of the prize. We did sight it first, after all.’
Still Gunnar did not speak – his face blank, his eyes unseeing, like a seer in a trance. I saw the brothers grow restless, shifting halfway into fighters’ stances, their hands twitching towards their weapons.
‘Gunnar,’ I said, hoping that my voice might shake him from his silence. And at last he did speak – the worst words he could have said.
‘Take it all.’
Björn recoiled as if struck.
‘You insult us,’ said Björn.
‘I will not be in your debt. You think us beggars?’
‘You won it fairly,’ Hakon said. ‘I will not take your prize from you. Come, gift us a tenth, a third if you feel so generous. There is no need for this.’
But Gunnar stood there, staring at the ground and shaking his head, mouthing no over and over again, and he would say no more.
‘Give our share to the gods,’ I said. ‘That is what Gunnar means.’
‘I did not think you both such pious men,’ Hakon said. ‘This bounty is a gift from Ægir,’ I replied. ‘We need his favour more than we need the meat. Take what you will from it and burn the rest for the god.’ And with that I put my hand on Gunnar’s back and led him away as if he were an exhausted child. As we walked down the beach I heard Björn muttering something, and I quickened my step to outpace the words. If we heard the insult, we would have to fight them.

*

‘I did not think the shame would be so much. How do you lie so easily?’
We were far from the beach when he spoke to me. Far from the beach and far from home, sitting beside the shore of the river, trying to find the words that would make sense of it all.
I washed my face in the water, feeling the sharpness of the cold against my eyes. ‘Because I have to,’ I said. ‘There is no breaking from it now. We must fight for this lie as if it were our king. It keeps us safe.’
‘I will not fight for a king. Or for a lie. I fight for my family. I fight for you.’
‘Then lie for us.’
‘I cannot.’
I said nothing more and I let the silence come.
It should not be so difficult a thing, to keep a secret in a country like ours. It is a lonely life where one’s family is one’s world, where months can pass before a man spoke to one who was not his wife or child. The farmsteads as scattered as the stars in the sky, distinct and separate. An Icelander with a secret has no priest pleading for his soul or king threatening his body, and yet still he feels the longing to confess. As we walked back towards the farm, Gunnar moved slowly, weighted with his secret. I thought on the coming summer, when I would leave him and his family behind, to move on and find a new home for the winter. Once I had told myself that I lived as a wanderer because I had to, that a slave’s son had no hope of becoming a landed man. Then for many years I had thought of it as a blessing, to wander the land free and unshackled. And now I wondered if it was the coward’s longing: to stay moving, one step ahead of the feuds that come as inevitably as the winter ice. ‘Home,’ Gunnar said, as we came in sight of the farm once again, a quiet relief in his voice. To return to the dark, like a beast returning to its caves and tunnels. I suppose it is an easier thing to be a murderer in the darkness than to try and stand as one in the light of day.
Gunnar patted the figurehead that hung above his door, the carved dragon’s head that had once been part of his ship, and I touched it too, for I was in need of a little luck. We must both have felt some premonition to have acted so, for when we went inside, we could see an unfamiliar shadow in the darkness. I saw the two small shapes of Gunnar’s children, the flat­nosed profile of Dalla, and one other whom I did not recognise at first. Yet it took only a moment to know who it was, for as the months had passed I had seen that silhouette many times in my memories, and in my dreams.
It was Vigdis, the wife of the ghost.

thumbnail_Smile of the Wolf.jpg

Advertisements

Blog Tour: An Artisan Lovestyle by Kiltie Jackson

40040959.jpg

An Artisan Lovestyle by Kiltie Jackson

Published: 28th June 2018
Publisher: Wicked Kilt Publishing
Format: Ebook
ASIN: B07D23TM38
Source: Rachel over at Rachel’s Random Resources and the author Kiltie Jackson, thank you for my copy in exchange for my honest review! Thank you for letting me take part on the blog tour as well!!!

Goodreads | Amazon UK

Description

Are you ‘living’ your life or just living your life?
Elsa Clairmont was widowed barely five years after marrying her childhood sweetheart. She has struggled to come to terms with the loss and, six years later, has almost ceased to live herself. She does just enough to get by.
Danny Delaney is the ultimate ‘Mr Nice Guy’. He’s kind, caring and sweet. A talented artist in his teens, his abusive mother ruined his career in art and he turned his back on his exceptional gift. Now, he does just enough to get by.
On New Year’s Eve, both Danny and Elsa die in unrelated accidents.
Thanks to some poker playing shenanigans, Elsa’s husband Harry, and Danny’s old Art teacher, William, manage to orchestrate a deal with Death that allows Danny and Elsa to live for one more year on the condition they both agree to complete three tasks.
They have until the last chime of Big Ben on the 31st December to fulfil their quests.
If they succeed, they stay in the world of the living.
If they should fail however…
‘An Artisan Lovestyle’ is a story of personal growth and self-discovery as two people find themselves forced to make overdue changes in their lives, changes in other people’s lives, and all with the added challenge of finding true love before their time runs out.

Will they do it?

Can they do it?

After all, it’s a matter of Life or Death…


My Review

I really didn’t know where this book was going to go. Honestly, I didn’t think it could match up to the first in the series but… It worked. A lot. It matched up to Rock-‘n’-roll Lovestyle and then some.

The writing style was a bit odd though, it felt like it would go off on a tandem and then eventually get back to where it was going. It worked for the story though, and it worked for the characters. I loved the little side scenes with Death, Harry and William. Death was hilariou, he would have been the life of the party!! I loved the whole near misses, the little moments that we were so close to having. I also loved that we got to catch up with Sukie, Pete, Beth and Jordie along the way as well.

I liked Elsa, and I’m glad she wasn’t living in pain throughout the whole book. I liked to see how to grew into herself again and found who she was again.

Danny was a likeable character as well. It was a nice change from some of the men you can get in books like this. He was caring, and quite humble. I did not like his girlfriend, Sandra. She made me so angry, and I would have happily given her a slap. Sukie’s descriptions of her in certain scenes are definitely an excellent description of her.

I’m very glad we got the ending that we got, it was pure excellence. I really, really want there to be a follow up for Sukie and Pete, and other characters that we get to meet in this book. I need to know what happens to them all.


thumbnail_An Artisan Lovestyle Head Shot Piccie.jpgAuthor Bio

Kiltie grew up in Glasgow in Scotland, This is a very unique city with a very unique way of looking at life.

When she was old enough to do so, she moved to London and then, after several years of obtaining interesting experiences -which are finding their way into her writing – she moved up to the Midlands. Kiltie currently lives in Staffordshire with five cats and one grumpy husband. Her little home is known as Moggy Towers, even though despite having plenty of moggies, there are no towers!

The cats kindly allow her and Mr Mogs to share their house on the condition they keep paying the mortgage! She loves reading, watching movies, and visiting old castles. She really dislikes going to the gym! Her biggest desire is that one day she can give up the day job and write her stories for a living.

Kiltie’s debut novel, ‘A Rock ‘n’ Roll Lovestyle’, was released in September 2017 and won

a “Chill With A Book – Reader Award” in December 2017.

She first began writing her debut novel eleven years before it was released but shelved it as she didn’t think it was very good. In November 2016 when, having read more on a best-selling author who had begun her own career as a self-published author, she was inspired to revisit the unfinished

manuscript and finally finish what she had started. Since beginning to write again, the ideas have not stopped flowing. ‘An Artisan Lovestyle’ is the second book in the Lovestyle Series.

Work is due to begin on book three (not yet titled but also part of the Lovestyle Series) in the Summer of 2018. She currently has a further ten plots and ideas stored in her file (it’s costing a fortune in USB drives as each story has its own memory stick!) and the ideas still keep on coming. Kiltie now lives her life around the following three quotes: “I love having weird dreams, they’re great fodder for book plots!” “Why wait for your ship to come in when you can swim out to meet it?” “Old enough to know better, young enough not to care!”

Website http://www.kiltiejackson.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/kiltiejackson
Twitter – https://twitter.com/KiltieJackson


Giveaway – Win a £40 / $40 Amazon Voucher (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Rafflecopter Entry


thumbnail_An Artisan Loveystyle Full Banner.jpg

The Book Addiction Book Tag

 hello gorgeous!

I found this tag over at Thrice Read, you can read their post HERE.


What is the longest amount of time you can comfortably go without picking up a book?

Depending on if I’m stuck in a slump or not, it’s normally about a day.

How many books do you carry on your person (or kindle) at any one time?

Just the one… Although I have been known to have a nearly finished book on me and my kindle..

Do you keep every book you buy/receive or are you happy to pass them on to make space for more?

90% of the time I’m keeping them. If I know that my mum or my sister would really like them, then they get passed on to them.

How long would you spend in a bookshop on a standard visit?

Too long… When I went to get some books with vouchers after Christmas I think I was in there for over an hour.

How much time per day do you actually spend reading?

This all depends on work, child, man-child, if I have things to be doing etc. But, saying that I normally get at least an hour in before bed.

Where does the task ‘picking up a book’ appear on your daily to-do list?

First thing in the morning, with my first cup of tea of the day.

How many books do you reckon you own in total (including e-books)?

No Comment… If I have in writing how many I have and the man-child sees it I may have, no I WILL HAVE, a mini war on my hands. I always downplay it…

Approximately how often do you bring up books in conversation?

Pretty much at least once or twice a day.

What is the biggest book (page count) you have finished reading?

Erm, probably Dragonfly In Amber by Diana Gabaldon.

Is there a book you had to get your hands on against all odds i.e searching bookshops, online digging etc?

Nothing I can think of really… Although there are probably books that I really want to read but haven’t gone all out for them.

A book you struggled to finish but refused to DNF?

The only one I can think of is The Rosie Project. This is the book that taught me life is too short. I hated it.

What are 3 of your main book goals for 2018?

  1. Decrease the TBR a few less than it was… (This will not succeed)
  2. Read some new authors and genres
  3. Review 90% of what I read. So far this is going really well!

Have you ever had the privilege of converting someone into a reader (maybe via inspiration or incessant nagging)?

Not that I actually know of.

Describe what books mean to you in five words.

Escape, relief, love, home, comfort.

Un-Stacking The Shelves

Allie's Little Avenue


So June is over and done with and it’s been a little bit more successful than May!! This list does include some of May thinking about it as I scheduled my last Un-Stacking before the month was over.

Books Read In June:
(last week of MAY):

  1. Starstruck by Sariah Wilson Review Here
  2. The First Taste by Jessica Hawkins
  3. Set the Pace by Kim Karr
  4. Real Deal by Piper Rayne

(after May):

  1. The Picture House by the Sea by Holly Hepburn
  2. Hangman by Daniel Cole Review Here
  3. True Love at The Lonely Hearts Bookshop by Annie Darling Review Here
  4. Renegades by Marissa Meyer Review Here
  5. The Cactus by Sarah Haywood
  6. The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance by Kirsty Greenwood
  7. An Artisan Lovestyle by Kiltie Jackson Blog Tour coming soon
  8. A Year at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn
  9. Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart Review coming soon
  10. A Long Goodbye by Anthony Le Moignan
  11. The Secrets of Villa Rosso by Linn B. Halton Blog Tour coming soon
  12. Bahama Mama by Tricia Leedom Review Coming Soon
  13. House of Royals by Keary Taylor
  14. Hitched (Vol. 1) by Kendall Ryan

Everyday in July is already scheduled with some sort of content, so everything I read this month will be for August and beyond. I’ve got a few blog tours scheduled but I’ve got still got plenty of time to read what I want to read. There are a few books I’m eager to get to this month:

  • Vox by Christina Dalcher
  • Perfect Silence by Helen Fields
  • The Lucky Dress by Aimee Brown
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – probably the following 2 books as well
  • Instructions for a Second-Hand Heart by Tamsyn Murray
  • In Love and War by Liz Trenow

Book Review: A Long Goodbye by Anthony Le Moignan

Beryl.png


39688695.jpg A Long Goodbye by Anthony Le Moignan

Published: 29th March 2018
Publisher: Self-published according to Amazon
Format: Paperback
ISBN13: 978-1999590208
ASIN: B07BTFW7SZ
Source: Anthony Le Moignan in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!!

Goodreads | Amazon UK

Description

Simon, a successful accountant, has a big problem. The biggest of them all. He checks himself into Orchard Care Home whilst still relatively healthy, the youngest resident by decades. He’s confident he cut all ties with the outside world and is untraceable.

Emma, married with no kids, lives, breathes and manages Orchard Care Home; a position her husband, Michael, used to hold in the good old days. But now he’s soared up the company hierarchy she sees so much less of him.

The attraction between carer and resident is instant, but ultimately destined for catastrophe. Alzheimer’s takes no prisoners and Early Onset, it’s most tragic form, is the cruellest of all.

How can Michael feel threatened by Simon? And what future could Emma have with him?

Simon understands less and less, but knows he has to try and run away from time – to somehow beat the ceaseless clock.

My Review

This book is heartbreaking, funny, loving, sensational. It’s clearly a book of love, and one that maybe has come from experience?

The writing style was fantastic and so easy to follow. The jumps in time made the story more believable with Simon’s decreasing health. It made it clear that it wasn’t an overnight thing that was happening to him. It made it more real. This story has definitely reached my top 10 of the year so far. it will probably even stay there.

Emma was a likeable character. She clearly loved her job, and Simon, and the people around her. I felt for her, I really did. She knew what was going to happen, she knew the logical and that it wasn’t her fault that things were going to get bad, but because she loved him it was that much worse for her.

I liked Simon. It was sad to see his decline in so much clearness and as for the ending… Well, there was a tear or two involved. It was such a heartbreaking moment once you realise what his plans are. The way Simon is towards the end of the book is so difficult to read compared to the beginning. We still see glimpses of his humour and his wit but it’s hard to compare the same man.

I feel like I have to mention Michael. I didn’t like him to begin with. He was judgemental, rude, and not a nice person. However, his development in the book is outstanding. He became this caring, considerate, kind man. He develops this amazing bond with Simon. I liked Michael a lot at the end of the book.

Anthony Le Moignan has written a brilliant book and truly deserves the 5/5 that I’m giving it. Thank you for letting me read this glorious book, and I really hope there are more to come!!

ARC Review: Late Summer in the Vineyard by Jo Thomas

imageLate Summer in the Vineyard
by Jo Thomas
Published: 11th August 2016
Publisher: Headline Review
ISBN: 9781472223722
Goodreads

Available to purchase from
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Synopsis:

Emmy Bridges has always looked out for others. Now it’s time to put down roots of her own.
Working for a wine-maker in France is the opportunity of a lifetime for Emmy. Even if she doesn’t know a thing about wine – beyond what’s on offer at the local supermarket.
There’s plenty to get to grips with in the rustic town of Petit Frère. Emmy’s new work friends need more than a little winning over. Then there’s her infuriatingly brash tutor, Isaac, and the enigmatic Madame Beaumont, tucked away in her vineyard of secrets.
But Emmy will soon realise that in life – just as in wine-making – the best things happen when you let go and trust your instincts. Particularly when there’s romance in the air…

My Thoughts:

Firstly, thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for the opportunity to read and review this great book! Again, as with my last 2 reviews, look at the cover!! This is bright, cheerful, and instantly you know it’s going to be an amazing book. The digital image does nothing for the actual physical book.

My goodness. What a beautiful, heart-warming, gorgeous *insert whatever warm fuzzy word you’re thinking here* book. It’s certainly left me with that warm, romantic, loving feeling.
This is the first book I’ve read by Jo Thomas, I regret not reading The Oyster Catcher, which I’ve had for months, sooner to find out that she is an outstanding author.

Emmy is an excellent character. She’s down on her luck, looking for a means to help out her Dad. So what does she do? Throws herself so far outside her comfort zone, and succeeds in every way you want her to. She grows, becomes more confident and falls in love along the way. Isaac is the lone, travelling wine-maker, looking for somewhere – and someone – to settle down. He’s handsome, charming, and just utterly perfect for Emmy.

The chemistry between them sizzles off the page and I just love it. Every character adds something special to this book. Madame Beaumont is just the perfect character for, she is by far the best old lady I’ve come across recently in books.

Jo Thomas’s writing style has left me with a warm feeling, and has definitely left me wanting more. I would love it if there was a second book following Emmy and Isaac. I will be hurrying to pick up everything else by Jo Thomas now.

France is a perfect backdrop, set in a quaint little village that I really want to visit now. Or just visit France in general, anywhere in such a stunning country would be fine!!! I seem to be having a European reading spree at the moment!

My Rating: With excellent characters, a wonderful French setting, and romance pouring from pretty much every page, I give this book a huge sloppy kiss and an even bigger 5/5. This book is perfect for settling down with on a late summer’s evening, with a glass (or 2) of wine.

ARC Review: Escape to the Riviera by Jules Wake


Escape To The Riviera by Jules Wake
Published: 30 June 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins UK, Avon
Format: EBook:
Pages: 400
ISBN: 9780008185305
Goodreads

Available to Purchase:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Synopsis:

Carrie Hayes has a job she enjoys and a perfectly nice boyfriend. She’s sorted. Isn’t she?

But Carrie’s life wasn’t always like this. As a young, wild drama student, she married fellow actor, Richard Maddox, after a whirlwind romance. Life back then was full of possibilities, but when Hollywood beckoned Richard, Carrie was left behind.
Now an A-list superstar, Richard’s life couldn’t be more different to Carrie’s, so when their paths cross in glamorous St Tropez, she can’t help but wonder what might have been.
But with lovely, sensible Alan in tow, Carrie knows she needs to do the right thing. The only problem is, Carrie and Richard never quite got round to getting a divorce…
Lose yourself this summer on the French Riviera, the perfect read for fans of Lucy Diamond and Jane Costello.

My Thoughts:
Firstly, Thank You to Netgalley and the publisher for my copy in exchange for my review!!
How stunning are the colours on that cover?? That’s the main reason why I requested this book! I’m not afraid to admit it, it was all about the cover!! I barely paid attention to the description, and too be honest I’m sort of glad I didn’t.

I will be honest, it took me quite a few attempts to get into this book, but I did eventually! Once I got going, it was impossible to detract the kindle from my hands! I’m only a little bit ashamed to say that I nearly, very nearly, forgot to feed my child…. Is that bad??? It’s rare that I really struggle to get into a book and continue to read it, but I’m absolutely delighted, no ecstatic, that I stuck with this and finished it.

This book is one of the books that I will recommend to everyone and anyone – who will listen to me rattle on about it anyway!!  The whole storyline was fantastic, I loved the fact it wasn’t following normal rules of the first falling in love storyline, it was about falling in love all over again.  It was about finding who you are, and taking life by the horns and going for what you actually want.  I’m glad the whole storyline didn’t revolve around the movie star status, that would have been a bit tedious.  Instead it was more about who he was before, the man he was before.  The memories of Carrie and Richard made me smile, laugh (discreetly), and make me root for them even more!!

The 3 leading ladies were brilliant, they worked well off each other and I could have read about them for a very long time! Carrie is a superb leading lady, she’s funny, witty, determined.  Jade is a typical teenager – celebrity obsessed, technology addict – and Angela is the voice of reason behind everything. Richard…. Richard…. What can I say about I can say about Richard? He comes across as smooth, romantic, charming, gorgeous, and just…. Swoon-Worthy? The chemistry between Carrie and Richard is electric, and you can feel the love between them.

The setting of the Riviera was fantastic, and is perfect for a summer read. I love books set on mainland Europe, and this didn’t budge that feeing at all.  I rarely read books set in France but this has changed that.  I shall be on the lookout for more similar books!  It was written brilliantly, with witty moments, intense moments, and near happy tear moments.

My Rating: I loved this book. I loved the characters, the setting, storyline, everything.  it will stay with me for a lone time, and as I said, I will recommend it to be many people! On that note, I give it a huge 5/5.

ARC Review: The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club by Lynsey James


The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club (Luna Bay Book2)
by Lynsey James
Published: 1st August
Publisher: Carina UK
Format: Ebook
Pages:
ISBN: 9780008189952
Goodreads

Available to purchase:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Synopsis:
Emily Reed is having a bad day. Her mother has just dropped a devastating bombshell—the dad she’s known and loved for twenty-five years isn’t her biological father!
Desperately in need of answers, Emily heads to Luna Bay covering her personal quest up as a work trip to Sunflower Cottage B&B.
Setting up the ‘Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club’ should be a great way to meet the locals and maybe even find out who her father is. The only problem is brooding and insanely gorgeous, Noah, who is determined to make Emily’s stay perfectly uncomfortable.
Discovering the truth after all these years was never going to be simple, but Emily will stop at nothing to uncover her past… even if her heart is getting in the way!

My Thoughts:
Firstly, Thank you to Netgalley and Carina UK for the opportunity to read and review this book. This book is the second one in the Luna Bay series, the first is The Broken Hearts Book Club, which I have read and enjoyed.

Lynsey James is slowly becoming a firm favourite with me, she writes brilliantly funny and touching books. All the covers to her books are pretty, especially this one!! It’s gorgeous! I know we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover but we all do it, don’t we?!

It was great to have characters from The Broken Hearts Book Club as involved with this story, it was unexpected in a way but made everything feel familiar and like you were coming home.  Luna Bay is a perfect little setting for this book, it works so well.

The additions to Lucy and Jake’s story (from Broken Hearts) is fantastic and glad that we get a little glimpse into their lives.  All new characters – Noah, Rose and Emily’s family – all add something, and grow along with Emily in her journey.  Noah starts off moody, distant, and becomes loving, affectionate, and warm.  Rose is the sensible, grand-motherly voice throughout the whole book and wish I could sit down and have a cup of tea and a big bit of cake with her!! Emily’s family – especially her mum- adds that element which every family has – unconditional love, a home, and arms that are always open for a hug.  It may be a bit of a strange way of putting it, but that’s how I saw them..

I didn’t particularly like Emily much to begin with, she came across as selfish, demanding, and maybe a little bit too naïve.  BUT!! By the end of the book, she is as far from that as she could possible be.  She becomes more of an adult, more grown up, less like the teenager she originally come across as.  She’s stronger, happier, she’s in love – I know it doesn’t make much difference in our world, but in her world, it’s everything.

I’m secretly hoping that Book 3 (Yep, there is one!! YAY!!) will have more about Alice.  She was an intriguing character and I wanted to know that little bit more about her.  She seems to have so much potential, a clean slate in a sense.  But then, the theme of the books seem to be a young woman coming in and finding her true self.  Maybe it’ll be Diane’s daughter?? She comes home to find out she’s got a sister… I’m all for it, whatever happens in it!!

Lynsey James has a writing style that makes you feel warm, cosy, happy and content.  She manages to capture everything that the characters are feeling in perfectly formed words and makes you feel everything along with them.

My Rating: With brilliantly written characters, a cosy little village and that loving feeling, I give this book a huge 4/5.

Book Review: An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1)
An Ember In The Ashes
by Sabaa Tahir
Published: June 2015
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Format: Ebook
Pages: 451
ASIN: B00QPT7KPS
Goodreads Link

Able to purchase from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Synopsis:

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death.

When Laia’s grandparents are brutally murdered and her brother arrested for treason by the empire, the only people she has left to turn are the rebels.

But in exchange for their help in saving her brother, they demand that Laia spy on the ruthless Commandant of Blackcliff, the Empire’s greatest military academy. Should she fail it’s more than her brother’s freedom at risk…Laia’s very life is at stake.

There, she meets Elias, the academy’s finest soldier. But Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined – and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

My Thoughts:

This book…. Although a simple read, it was highly enjoyable! My first thought when I finished it was like “OH COME ON!!!?!?!”
I can safely say I did not want it to end.  This book is full of promises, and the way it ends is a brilliant way to set up the second.

I wouldn’t be able to say which character I liked the most, they all have good and bad points. Laia was a little annoying and yet she was a good, independent leading lady, Elias was something kind of special but then on the otherhand he was just… ARGH!!!!!! Helene was a good, down to earth addition, although she was a bit stupid not actually knowing what her ‘best friend’ believed in or felt about things. Izzi was the only one that I would have liked to know more about.  Was she related to Cook? Are they Mother/Daughter? Also, on the subject of Cook… Was she the traitor? Was she responsible for Laia’s pain?

Laia’s attraction to Keenan is a bit… Unexpected if anything.  She has hardly seen him, hardly interacted with him and he just feels a little wrong.  The chemistry between them is nothing compared to the chemistry between Laia and Elias.  I’m intrigued as to who will be cast for the movie when they start – I’ve read somewhere recently that it’s being adapted.

Sabaa Tahir’s writing style is simple, yet effective.  It’s straight to the point, yet has an enchanted feel to it. I loved the way it would switch between Laia and Elias. How’s that going to work in the 2nd book as they will be together? I feel like it may be a little repetitive… maybe…I’m very very excited for it though. The world the book is set in seems pretty special, and I hope we get to experience more of it during the second book.

My Rating: With the enchanting writing, the very promising world building, and the characters, I rate this book an extremely high 4/5.

Book Review: Cloudy with a Chance of Love by Fiona Collins


Cloudy with a Chance of Love
by Fiona Collins
Published: 21st July 2016
Publisher: Carina UK
Format: Ebook
Pages:
ISBN/ASIN: 9780008189907

Synopsis:
Every cloud has a silver lining when it comes to love…

Daryl Williams never minded the fact that she had a big bottom. It’s always been behind her. In fact, it was one of the things that her husband loved about her. Until he ran off with her best friend, Gabby.

Daryl knows that she needs to get back in the dating game, she just doesn’t know how. So when her friend suggests taking a fortune forecast, she reluctantly agrees. And it looks like Daryl’s luck is in, by Friday she has a 99% chance of falling in love!

Only, even when it’s written in the stars, finding the one after the one is never easy…

My Thoughts:

Firstly, thank you to Netgalley and Carina UK for the opportunity to read and review this great book! I loved the cover to this book, it’s bright, playful, and just lovely.

Daryl is a fantastic character! It’s been wonderful to read about a woman who does not care if she has curves, or a big bottom, or anything like that! It’s been absolutely wonderful!!! I immediately liked Daryl, she’s definitely a one-of-a-kind!  As I said, she truly does not care about any of it! And she’s not ashamed.  We need more characters like this.  Sam was another great character, even if she is the complete opposite to Daryl.  Calorie counting, fitness crazy, but does still love a good time.  It would have been nice to have found out more about Peony but we didn’t. I don’t think she even really needed to be involved full stop.  I really enjoyed the thought of Daryl’s Mum and Aunt, they seemed like the elderly relatives any family would be proud off!

I found myself giggling to this book on more than one occasion.  I’d imagine myself being like that in my 40’s, passed out in my driveway, face planted in the gravel!! Or being found stuffing my face with cake at 2am! I’d also be as embarrassed as Daryl if found by a hunky neighbor!! I love books that make me giggle, so this was definitely a hit for me!!

This book was written well, it was brilliant to read about a “real” woman.  I will happily read anything else written by Fiona Collins.  It was funny, heart-warming and delightful.

My Rating: A wonderfully deserved 4/5. Can we please have another book involving Daryl and co?