Thursday 23 November 2023

 

Book review: Bookshops & Bonedust (Legends & Lattes #0.5) by Travis Baldree [blog tour]


I have to start by admitting that high fantasy isn't for me. I usually don't pick up a book if it's set on other planets, has big battle sequences, and centres on creatures with names I've never heard of before. But I met author Travis Baldree at MCM Comic Con last year – and not only was he the absolute loveliest human being, he also completely sold his first novel, Legends & Lattes, to me as it sounded so incredibly cosy. Needless to say, I picked up a copy of the book almost immediately after and I'd been anticipating the prequel, Bookshops & Bonedust, ever since I turned the final page on the first one. 

Wednesday 15 November 2023

 

Book review: Murder at Holly House by Denzil Meyrick [blog tour]


It's the season for murder mysteries! OK, I admit, I do love a good whodunnit any time of year, but nothing beats cosying up on a cold and dark evening with a gripping tale of killings, secrets, and red herrings. And Murder at Holly House by Denzil Meyrick hit the murderous spot just right. 

Friday 3 November 2023

 

Theatre review: The Time Traveller's Wife at the Apollo Theatre

Based on the book of the same name by Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveller's Wife at its core is the love story between Henry and Clare. The twist? Henry is a time traveller and Clare first meets him when she's still a child. In his own chronological timeline, however, Henry doesn't meet Clare until they're both in their 20s. Are you confused yet? Not only that, but Henry cannot control when he travels – making it very hard for him to live his life as he doesn't know when – and for how long – he is gone.  

Thursday 2 November 2023

 

Book review: The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett [blog tour]


October was a truly festive reading month for me. But rather than devouring another romance book, this time around I returned to the fictional town of Lockwood, and particularly the Fairway Players from Janice Hallett's novel The Appeal as they gear up for their seasonal production. After all, no Christmas is complete without a dash of murder...

Monday 30 October 2023

 

Book review: The Cat Who Solved Three Murders (Conrad the Cat Detective #2) by L T Shearer


The Cat Who Solved Three Murders had me sold with its premise (and lovely cover) as our family cat is a calico so I have a particular soft spot for these mischievous creatures. Not only that, but I also know an adorable cat who lives on a London canal boat, just like Conrad – it was clearly meant to be! And I'm so glad to say that this book lived up to its furry expectations, and then some. 

Friday 20 October 2023

 

Book review: Countdown to Christmas by Jo Thomas [blog tour]


Around Christmas I'm usually busy spending time with family, playing games, and cooking and baking – not so much reading. So I'm delighted to get my festive fix early on with the plethora of seasonal novels that have just been released. I'm one of those people who gets in the autumn mode in late August and a festive one just a few months later, so I never find it too early to crack open snow-covered books and Cadbury Roses. And Countdown to Christmas by Jo Thomas has been a very fitting addition to my Christmas reading list this year. 

Thursday 12 October 2023

 

Book review: That Festive Feeling by Heidi Swain [blog tour]


I'm a latecomer to the Heidi Swain fan club, but after reading both the fantastic The Book-Lovers' Retreat and the delightful Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage this year, I was really excited for her new festive novel. I cannot resist a Christmas romance at the best of times and especially not from one of my newest favourite authors! 

 

Book review: It Always Snows on Mistletoe Square by Ali McNamara


I can't believe it's been 10 years since I devoured my first Ali McNamara book with Step Back in Time – and what a delightful journey it's been. From Letters From Lighthouse Cottage and From Nothing Hill With Four Weddings... Actually through to her novels set in the fictional Cornish town of St Felix, such as The Little Flower Shop By the Sea (still my absolute fav!) and Cornish Clouds and Silver Linking Skies. Her books have whisked me away all over the UK, with different characters all with their own unique stories to tell. But one thing has always been consistent in her books: a touch of magic. Combine that with the festive season for her first Christmas novel, and you've got something truly magical. 

Wednesday 13 September 2023

 

Book review: The Turnglass by Gareth Rubin [blog tour]


When I saw that The Turnglass by Gareth Rubin isn't only a murder mystery but a tête-bêche as well, I was instantly sold. This is a type of novel made up of two separate books that are linked in unexpected ways, one story providing clues to the mystery within the other. It may sound a little confusing at first, but it is a very clever and fun way to read a novel. Some of my all-time favourite books, Magpie Murders and Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz, are great examples of this innovative storytelling format – so I had high hopes for this one too!

Thursday 24 August 2023

 

Book review: Always By Your Side by Julie Haworth [blog tour]


I tend to read a lot of murder mysteries and historical fiction novels, but after a while I just need some cosy comfort in my life. And when I saw the cover for Julie Haworth's debut novel, Always By Your Side, it immediately hit the spot for me. Wholesome English countryside goodness? Yes, please. 

Wednesday 23 August 2023

 

Theatre review: Death Note: The Musical in Concert at the London Palladium


Death Note is a popular manga series by writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata, which has garnered a steady fan base throughout its 20-year history and countless adaptations, from anime to a live action Netflix movie. A musical version was inevitable to bring this epic story to the stage – and it's finally made it to the London stage! 

Wednesday 5 July 2023

 

Book review: The Shell House Detectives by Emylia Hall [blog tour]


I've hugely enjoyed Emylia Hall's writing ever since I had the opportunity to review her debut novel The Book of Summers back in 2012 (I cannot believe this is over 10 years ago now, where does time go?!). And I love that as my reading preferences have moved away from contemporary women's fiction, so have her stories. The Shell House Detectives is the first book in a new cosy crime series – and immediately after turning the final page, I was already gasping for more. 

Monday 26 June 2023

 

Book review: The First Bright Thing by J.R. Dawson [blog tour]


The Caraval series by Stephanie Garber is one of my all-time favourite reads; I love how it mixes the fantastical and theatrical with a gripping tale of good vs evil (with a nice dash of romance thrown in too). For that reason I thought I'd also adore the much hyped The Night Circus by Erin Morgensten, but that one wasn't for me at all. Thankfully this didn't turn me off reading circus-themed books completely, as I hate to have missed out on The First Bright Thing by J.R. Dawson. It is a more adult and complex story than Caraval, but it also has the same feeling of whimsy and endless possibilities that makes these books so absolutely magical. 

Thursday 22 June 2023

 

Book review: The Other Side of Mrs Wood by Lucy Barker


Mrs Wood is one of the most famous and respected medium in Victorian London. She's been around for decades and her devoted patrons ensure that her seances continue to be popular. But her loyal followers are getting older and they won't be around forever to keep Mrs Wood in a job. Not only that, but many of her peers are unmasked as frauds so she has an added job of disassociating herself from anyone caught up in the scandals. And, as younger, more exciting mediums enter the stage, she knows she has to up her game considerably to stay relevant and celebrated. 

Wednesday 21 June 2023

 

Book review: From Cornwall With Love (The Cornish Cream Tea #8) by Cressida McLaughlin [blog tour]


Ever since I had the pleasure of spending a summer holiday in Cornwall a few years ago, I've become obsessed with this beautiful part of England. And I cannot thank Cressida McLaughlin enough for continuing to give me my Cornwall fix. Every time I'm craving a Cornish read, a new one by her hand is just around the corner. In the last year alone she has published The Cornish Cream Tea Holiday and The Cornish Cream Tea Bookshop, and while her latest release – From Cornwall With Love – has a different title and cover design, I was delighted when I found out that it's another charming addition to her Cornish Cream Tea series. May it continue!

Thursday 15 June 2023

 

Book review: Morgan Is My Name by Sophie Keetch


Arthurian legends seem to be the latest slice of fictional history that's getting reinvented (after fairy tale retellings and Greek myth reimaginings) and I love it. I've always been fascinated by this lore thanks to Disney's The Sword in the Stone and the very cheesy but hugely entertaining BBC series Merlin back in the late 2000s. Morgan Is My Name by Sophie Keetch is, you may be able to guess, the story of sorceress Morgan le Fay. But rather than portraying her as the anti-hero, which she so often is, in this novel we hear her side of the story. And it's not as black-and-white as we've always been led to believe.

Sunday 4 June 2023

 

Theatre review: Gypsy at The Mill at Sonning


I've only been to dinner theatre The Mill at Sonning twice so far (my first visit was for the toe-tappingly tremendous Top Hat), but it's already established itself as a firm-favourite venue in my book. Aside from the stunning countryside setting (making this feel like a proper day out) and delicious two-course buffet that accompanies every performance, the quality of the productions they put on is really impressive. The talent on stage, sets, and costume designs give the West End a run for its money (and the ticket price is much better value for theatre-goers too!). 

Tuesday 30 May 2023

 

Book review: Psyche and Eros by Luna McNamara [blog tour]


I've been a big fan of retellings for many years now, and Greek ones are definitely the flavour of the 2020s (see Circe, Atalanta, AriadneIthaca, and many more). I was getting a little bit tired of seeing the same-old, same-old characters and myths being reimagined, as there are only so many different angles a story can take, so I was thrilled when I discovered that Luna McNamara's book delves into the slightly more obscure love story of Psyche and Eros, aka a mortal and the god of love (the Greek equivalent of Cupid). 

Friday 26 May 2023

 

Theatre review: Aspects of Love at the Lyric Theatre


Aspects of Love is a sung-through Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that is not quite as well-known as his classics Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Phantom of the Opera. But he wrote it immediately after the latter and there are recurring themes of unrequited love, the dramatics of the theatre, and obsession running throughout both. The show was first staged in the West End in the late 1980s with Michael Ball taking on the role of the young Alex. Nearly 35 years later, the actor returns to the show as George, Alex's uncle who gets entangled in an affair with his nephew's lover.  

Thursday 11 May 2023

 

Book review: Serpent of the Sands (The Brightstorm Chronicles #4) by Vashti Hardy


I'm such a big fan of Vashti Hardy! She's had me hooked on her adventurous middle grade reads ever since I had the joy to review her debut Brightstorm back in 2018 – and I'm thrilled she's continuing the series beyond the original trilogy. While initially I felt a slight disappointment that her latest novel would not focus on the Brightstorm twins any more, I needn't have worried, as the character of Gan has now stolen my heart too. 

Monday 24 April 2023

 

Book review: Carrie's War by Nina Bawden (50th Anniversary Edition)


I read a lot of classics growing up and I particularly loved the children's ones. Think Treasure Island, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Heidi. But there are some iconic books that didn't make it to the Netherlands, or at least not to my local library. Charlotte's Web is one I keep meaning to pick up and Carrie's War is another. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of Carrie's War, Virago Books has released a stunning new hardback edition of the book, and I was lucky enough to be send a copy for review. 

Monday 17 April 2023

 

Book review: Atalanta by Jennifer Saint [blog tour]


I've been on a Greek retelling reading spree the last few years and I'm not alone! Because of the popularity of these kinds of books, more and more are published each year – and I particularly love those that delve into parts of Greek mythology that aren't as well-know as, say, the Trojan War. Madeline Miller's Circe comes to mind, as does Jennifer Saint's Ariadne. And Atalanta fits right into this list of incredible Greek heroines who finally get the chance to shine in their deserving spotlight. 

Thursday 23 March 2023

 

Book review: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin [blog tour]


Today, I'm thrilled to take part in a blog tour that's a bit different. Rather than celebrating the launch of one book, this tour is for the The Wingate Literary Prize and its shortlist of nominees. Now in its 46th year, this annual prize is awarded to the best fiction or non-fiction book that translates Jewishness to the general reader. One of the titles on this year's shortlist is Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. I've heard nothing but raving reviews about this book in recent months, so I was eager to find out if they were justified! 

Thursday 16 March 2023

 

Book review: The Company by J.M. Varese


They say not to judge a book by its cover but in the case of The Company by J.M. Varese I am so glad I did. I'm not normally one for novels described as a "gothic thriller" as my mind instantly goes to scary horror scenarios and that's not my cup of tea. But the stunningly intricate design on this cover gave me the vibes of a historical fiction with a magical realism twist, such as The Binding by Bridget Collins and The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale, which is way more up my street. And I do think that's a more accurate categorisation of this haunting story.  

Monday 13 March 2023

 

Book review: The Green Gardening Handbook by Nancy Birtwhistle


Watching the Instagram stories from Great British Bake Off champion Nancy Birtwhistle for practical cleaning tips and easy recipes is one of the favourite parts of my day. Who knew you could clean oven racks with tough food stains by leaving them overnight in damp grass? Or that you can create your own laundry detergent with ivy cuttings from the garden? Her knowledge is incredible and we are so lucky that she is sharing all her wisdoms with us. Nancy's advice is simple to follow, cheap and, most of all, green. Meaning that it's much better for our planet. And after focusing her first few books on tips for a greener house – in her latest one she turns her hand to gardening.

Thursday 9 March 2023

 

Book review: The Last Tree: A Seed of Hope by Luke Adam Hawker [blog tour]


Last year I was so thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for Together by Luke Adam Hawker. A book about our times for our times. It was an highly emotional yet incredibly hopeful story about loneliness; showing that there is light in the darkness. The author's poignant images hit me with all the feels. And with his latest book, The Last Tree: A Seed of Hope, he has done it again. 

Tuesday 7 March 2023

 

Theatre review: Under the Black Rock at the Arcola Theatre



“We all live under the black rock, and we will all be buried under it.”

A brand new play opened at the Arcola Theatre in London's Hackney this week: Under the Black Rock by debut playwright Tim Edge.

Thursday 9 February 2023

 

Book review: Clara & Olivia by Lucy Ashe [blog tour]


I love historical fiction and I love theatre in all its forms, so I was very excited to read Clara & Olivia by Lucy Ashe, which is set in the world of ballet in 1930s London. The majority of the story takes place in and around Sadler's Wells in Islington, which is an area I know very well as I used to work nearby (and pass the theatre every single day), so I was really able to immerse myself into this world while reading!

Thursday 2 February 2023

 

Book review: The Murder Game by Tom Hindle


I do love a good murder mystery. Whether is a classic Agatha Christie or a contemporary tale, such as The Thursday Murder Club or The Marlow Murder Club, as long a clever whodunnit. Tom Hindle's A Fatal Crossing was one of my favourite new discoveries within the genre last year, and the author's second novel is even better. In The Murder Game he takes readers to a classic setting: a group of people are "stuck" in a remote country house when one of them is killed. With motives and opportunities galore, who was the one to do the awful deed? 

Friday 27 January 2023

 

Book review: Death Comes to Marlow (The Marlow Murder Club #2) by Robert Thorogood


Seniors solving murders seem to be all the rage again these days. While, of course, it's always delightful to return to the classics, such as Miss Marple, I do have a particular weak spot for more contemporary characters. I'm a BIG fan of Richard Osman's Thursday Murder Club series (see my reviews for books 1 and 2) – and I also thoroughly enjoyed Robert Thorogood's The Marlow Murder Club, which introduced Judith Potts sleuthing away. In the sequel, Death Comes to Marlow, the 77-year-old puzzle-whizz has returned, alongside her friends Suzie and Becks, and a whole new cast of eclectic Marlow residents.  

Friday 20 January 2023

 

Book review: Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett [blog tour]


Give that I've been a book fairy for the past 5+ years, of course I couldn't resist this novel, which combines my love for fairy tales with, well, books. The title may sound non-fiction, but this is very much a fictional tale, filled with imaginative world-building and a romance to boot. 

Thursday 19 January 2023

 

Theatre review: George Takei's Allegiance at Charing Cross Theatre


American actor George Takei is best-known for originating the role of Sulu in the television series Star Trek in the 1960. But not many know the story of the man behind the iconic sci-fi character. As a Japanese American, George and his family were sent to an internment camp during the second World War alongside over 125,000 other Japanese people living in the U.S. 

Tuesday 17 January 2023

 

Book review: The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett [blog tour]


I am a HUGE fan of Janice Hallett's clever murder mystery novels. They're imaginatively formatted, filled with great characters and even greater puzzels, and – most importantly – have a stonkin' good story at the heart of them. To celebrate her latest book in style, I'm thrilled to be part of the official blog tour, where I was challenged to turn my hand to writing my review in a different format, so here goes...