Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel By Ruth Hogan

Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel By Ruth Hogan

Tilly was a bright, outgoing little girl who liked playing with ghosts and matches. She loved fizzy drinks, swear words, fish fingers and Catholic churches, but most of all she loved living in Brighton in Queenie Malone’s magnificent Paradise Hotel with its endearing and loving family of misfits. But Tilly’s childhood was shattered when her mother sent her away from the only home she’d ever loved to boarding school with little explanation and no warning.

Now an adult, Tilda has grown into an independent woman still damaged by her mother’s unaccountable cruelty. Wary of people, her only friend is her dog, Eli. But when her mother dies, Tilda returns to Brighton and with the help of her beloved Queenie sets about unravelling the mystery of her exile from The Paradise Hotel, only to discover that her mother was not the woman she thought she knew at all …

My Thoughts:

I picked this book up because it seemed fun and I love the vibrancy of the cover. The plot sounded really good too. It is about Tilda and we see her story flit back from when she was a child to her now as a adult. It was a really interesting story that had me hooked the whole way through. Now as an adult and having lost her mother, she is clearing out her house when she discovers things that she never knew about herself and her childhood. It is a beautiful and tender story about a mother and daughter. I really enjoyed this read and need to read more of Ruth’s books now.

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Peel Me A Lotus By Charmain Clift

Peel Me A Lotus By Charmain Clift

In 1951 the Australian writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston left grey, post-war London for Greece. Settling first on the tiny island of Kalymnos, then Hydra, their plan was to live simply and focus on their writing, away from the noise of the big city. The result is two of Charmian Clift’s best known and most loved books, the memoirs Mermaid Singing and Peel Me a Lotus.

Peel Me a Lotus, the companion volume to Mermaid Singing relays their move to Hydra where they bought a house and grappled with the chaos of domestic life and three children whilst also becoming the centre of an informal community of artists and writers. The group later included Leonard Cohen who became their lodger and his girlfriend Marianne Ihlen. Clift paints an evocative picture of the characters and sun-drenched rhythms of traditional life, long before backpackers and mass tourism descended.

My Thoughts:

What a beautiful and inviting cover for this wonderful little hardback book. It is a memoir of someone living in the Hydra in the sixties, what life was like then and how people coped. I fell for the island life and wished I could be there to experience it for myself, but it is not all as it seems. There are some great adventures to read about and how life was like in the sixties for a husband and wife with three children. It was an insightful and engaging read and one that I will re read again some time. This book will stay with me for a long time.

I received an ARC copy of this book for an honest review.

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Home Coming By Isabel Ashdown

Home Coming By Isabel Ashdown

Welcome to The Starlings… sun, sea and neighbours to die for.

Security, a sparkling sea view and the best kind of neighbours – The Starlings gated community has it all. Here, doors are left open, children run free, and at the heart of it all is the entrepreneurial Gold Family, who first dreamed up this aspirational vision of ‘Dorset’s Safest Community’. To the outside world the popular family appears glitteringly blessed… until an idyllic party takes a dark turn and one of their number is found slumped at the foot of the clocktower. Who knows what really happened? And what answers are harboured within the old building, the former Highcap Mother and Baby Home?’

My Thoughts:

Being a new author to me, I was not sure what to expect with this book. I thought the plot had that level of intrigue and intensity that made me want to drop everything and start reading straight away. Each chapter is a different person so you get many people’s perspective on the current situation which I liked. I felt that the beginning took it’s time to build up but that gave it a really good level of tension. It is a very dark thriller that will wrap around you and won’t let you leave until the very last page. It was a good thriller and I want to read more of this author’s books now.

I received an ARC copy of this book for an honest review.

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Mermaid Singing By Charmain Clift

Mermaid Singing By Charmain Clift

In 1951 the Australian writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston left grey, post-war London for Greece. Settling first on the tiny island of Kalymnos, then Hydra, their plan was to live simply and focus on their writing, away from the noise of the big city. The result is two of Charmian Clift’s best known and most loved books, the memoirs Mermaid Singing and Peel Me a Lotus. Mermaid Singing relays the culture shock and the sheer delight of their first year on the tiny sponge-fishing island of Kalymnos. Clift paints an evocative picture of the characters and sun-drenched rhythms of traditional life, long before backpackers and mass tourism descended.

On Hydra, featured in the companion volume, Peel Me a Lotus, Clift and Johnston became the centre of an informal community of artists and writers including the then unknown Leonard Cohen who lodged with them, and his future girlfriend Marianne Ihlen.

My Thoughts:

I thought this book looked really summery and beautiful and I could not wait to read about Greece. It is all about a couple that left London to start up in Greece in 1951. We see how life is like back then and how they settle on a small island to write. It was an interesting read to see how they would cope with the bare necessities. It made me want to feel the sun on my skin and experience what life is like on the small island. A perfect escapism book.

I received a copy of this book for an honest review.

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Nine Perfect Strangers By Liane Moriarty

Nine Perfect Strangers By Liane Moriarty

Nine perfect strangers, each hiding an imperfect life.

A luxury retreat cut off from the outside world.

Ten days that promise to change your life.

But some promises – like some lives – are perfect lies . . .

My Thoughts:

I like how the plot is short and sweet and gives nothing away. I have not read many of Liane’s books but this one I felt as though I would enjoy. And I did. I did think with there being a lot of characters it would become confusing but it certainly did not. Each chapter is a different person so you get everyone’s perspective. We also hear of everyone’s stories which some people reading this may be able to relate to atleast one of these peoples lives. It is quite fast moving and some of the chapters are short so you feel as though you have to read one more. It was such a good plot line and I didn’t see the ending coming. It was a really good read. I look forward to watching the series on TV now.

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The Man I Never Met By Elle Cook

The Man I Never Met By Elle Cook


Two lives are about to be changed by one phone call…

When Davey misdials Hannah’s number, at first they think nothing of it.

After all, Davey lives in Texas and Hannah lives in London.

But when Davey gets a job in London, their paths are sure to cross. As messaging turns to video calling, this feels like the start of something.

Weeks later, Hannah is waiting for Davey at the airport, but he never walks into Arrivals.

When Hannah finds out why, her world is turned on its head. And with their future so uncertain, each must pick up the pieces of their lives.

Will fate intervene once more to bring them together? Or will Davey always be the man that Hannah never met?

My Thoughts:

I loved the sound of this book, it sounded just what I needed to read. It was a slightly different story line which I liked. When Davey misdials Hannah’s number, neither realises what this will entail. Davey lives in Texas and Hannah lives in London so how is this going to work? After talking lots, they decides to meet each other but when Hannah turns up at the airport, Davey is not there. What has happened to him? I never guessed in a million years what the outcome was going to be. This book is full of emotions, I did shed a tear or two, but it is an lovely story about finding love in an unexpected place. Such a beautiful story.

I received an ARC copy of this book for an honest review.

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Cuba: An American History By Ada Ferrer

Cuba: An American History By Ada Ferrer

In 1961, at the height of the Cold War, the United States severed diplomatic relations with Cuba, where a momentous revolution had taken power three years earlier. For more than half a century, the stand-off continued—through the tenure of ten American presidents and the fifty-year rule of Fidel Castro. His death in 2016, and the retirement of his brother and successor Raúl Castro in 2021, have spurred questions about the country’s future. Meanwhile, politics in Washington—Barack Obama’s opening to the island, Donald Trump’s reversal of that policy, and the election of Joe Biden—have made the relationship between the two nations a subject of debate once more. Now, award-winning historian Ada Ferrer delivers an “important” (The Guardian) and moving chronicle that demands a new reckoning with both the island’s past and its relationship with the United States.

Spanning more than five centuries, Cuba: An American History provides us with a front-row seat as we witness the evolution of the modern nation, with its dramatic record of conquest and colonization, of slavery and freedom, of independence and revolutions made and unmade. Along the way, Ferrer explores the sometimes surprising, often troubled intimacy between the two countries, documenting not only the influence of the United States on Cuba but also the many ways the island has been a recurring presence in US affairs. This is a story that will give Americans unexpected insights into the history of their own nation and, in so doing, help them imagine a new relationship with Cuba; “readers will close [this] fascinating book with a sense of hope” (The Economist). Filled with rousing stories and characters, and drawing on more than thirty years of research in Cuba, Spain, and the United States—as well as the author’s own extensive travel to the island over the same period—this is a stunning and monumental account like no other.,

My Thoughts:

I have always been fascinated with Cuba and when I got the chance to read this one which is a finalist for the Cundill History Prize I was excited. It is a decent size book that you can really get your teeth stuck into. I always enjoy it when books travel back in time and have pictures that help the reader understand more about what they are reading. It provided me with a fascinating insight into what Cuba was like back in the day to what it is like now. All the troubles they have had too. I found I learnt so much more to Cuba after reading this powerful and insightful book. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more or is intrigued about Cuba.

To learn more about the Cundill History Prize, check here for more information:

https://www.cundillprize.com/

I received a copy of this book for an honest review.

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Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop By Helen Rolfe

Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop By Helen Rolfe


Can three sisters stitch their family back together?

Loretta loves running the little village sewing shop in Butterbury. Some of her most precious memories are sitting with her three daughters Daisy, Ginny and Fern, stitching together pieces of material – and their hopes and dreams.

But this Christmas the family is coming apart at the seams: Fern feels like she’s failing at motherhood and marriage, Ginny’s passion for her job as a midwife is fading, Daisy is desperate to prove she ‘ s changed since her wild younger years – and most of all, Loretta seems to be hiding something…

As they come together to create a new festive quilt, the bond between the sisters begins to heal. But when Loretta reveals the real reason she’s brought them all home, can the sisters mend the quilt, and their family, in time for Christmas?

My Thoughts:

If your after a great festive read, this is the perfect book for you, also I love how it was set around the Village sewing shop, it was a little different which I liked. It was the perfect book to snuggle up with on a cold winter’s day. Loretta who runs the sewing shop has three older daughters who have gone off to do their own things. I love finding out more about each one of them, they all have real life issues that they are going through. I felt drawn to this family straight away and I could not wait to read more about them. I felt as though I really got lost in this story and it felt truly magical.

I received an ARC copy of this book for an honest review.

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The Shite before Christmas By Serena Terry

The Shite before Christmas By Serena Terry

One month to go. One stressed mum. Can she pull off the perfect family Christmas?

Twas the sh!te before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except for … mum!

Like every mum, Tara wants a perfect Christmas for her family – but no-one else is lifting a finger and she’s losing her elf-ing mind. From the kids behaving badly (vaping! Potty training! The Nativity!), to a distracted husband acting very out of character, the last straw is Tara’s glamorous, feckless, boundary-less mother moving herself back in for the holidays.

Can Tara pull off the holly jolly Christmas of her dreams? Will she deck the halls and not her family? Or is this a Christmas catastrophe waiting to happen?

My Thoughts:

I saw this book and knew I had to read it. I loved it, it had everything and more that I needed. If you are after a hilarious and laugh out loud story, this is the perfect read. This is an author that is definitely going to be on my radar. Tara has a husband and kids and as it is getting closer to Christmas which is the most wonderful time of the year but is anyone helping her? of course not, and Tara is heavily pregnant. In this side splitting and mum related read, I felt sorry for Tara but my god Serena the author knows how to write a funny book. I would highly recommend.

I received an ARC copy of this book for an honest review.

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Collapse: The Fall of the Soviet Union by Vladislav M. Zubok

Collapse: The Fall of the Soviet Union by Vladislav M. Zubok


In 1945 the Soviet Union controlled half of Europe and was a founding member of the United Nations. By 1991, it had an army four-million strong, five-thousand nuclear-tipped missiles, and was the second biggest producer of oil in the world. But soon afterward the union sank into an economic crisis and was torn apart by nationalist separatism. Its collapse was one of the seismic shifts of the twentieth century.

Thirty years on, Vladislav Zubok offers a major reinterpretation of the final years of the USSR, refuting the notion that the breakup of the Soviet order was inevitable. Instead, Zubok reveals how Gorbachev’s misguided reforms, intended to modernize and democratize the Soviet Union, deprived the government of resources and empowered separatism. Collapse sheds new light on Russian democratic populism, the Baltic struggle for independence, the crisis of Soviet finances―and the fragility of authoritarian state power.

My Thoughts:

This is one of the three finalist for the Cundill History Prize. Even though it is not really something I would read, there are parts that I found fascinating. Reading about the meltdown of the Soviet Union and how slow it was eye opening. If you want to learn more about the Soviet Union this I would say really takes you there and helps for a better understanding of what happened. I did skim parts but the parts I did read were interesting enough.

To find out more about the Cundill History Prize, check here for more information:

https://www.cundillprize.com/

I received an ARC copy of this book for an honest review.

Get your copy here: