Book Review And Blog Tour: Another Day In Winter.

ARIA_LOW_ANOTHER DAY IN WINTER_EIn her latest book, Another Day In Winter, Shari Low gives a masterclass in how to seamlessly weave multiple plot lines into one exciting, charming and emotional story.

Just as she did in the first book in this series, One Day In December, she takes four characters, in this case Shauna, Tom, Chrissie and George, and tells their stories over a 24 hour period.

Opening the book is like being pulled into a whirlwind; once the words start spinning around you, there’s no way out of the vortex – at least until you reach the end, feeling slightly windblown but very happy.

Here’s the blurb:

One day, four lives, and a wintery web of secrets and lies.

On a chilly morning in December forever friends Shauna and Lulu touch down at Glasgow Airport on a quest to find answers from the past.

George knows his time is nearing the end, but is it too late to come to terms with his two greatest regrets?

His grandson Tom uncovers a betrayal that rocks his world as he finally tracks down the one that got away.

And single mum Chrissie is ready to force her love-life out of hibernation, but can anyone compare to the man who broke her heart?

It again starts with a long cast list but I’ve learnt not to be daunted by this and to put my faith in Shari’s skills as a storyteller. She’s never let me down. I would love to see how she plans her books. I imagine something like the police investigation boards you see on TV sometimes, with little photographs of suspects and lots of red squiggly lines which eventually all point toward the same conclusion. And that’s what ultimately happens, the individual tales nearly touch, converge, pull away again but the reader knows where it is heading – or at least they hope they do. The only trouble is, it creates a battle between wanting to read it as quickly as possible to find out the ending and slowly savouring every page.

Her characters feel real, which means I laughed and cried along with them. While the main four are all new, it was lovely to see some familiar faces from book one return – a bit like meeting old, cherished friends again.

Not to jinx anything but this engrossing tale has all the makings of a best-seller. I really hope there is at least one more in this series (and then spring, autumn and summer follow). That’s not asking too much, is it?

Format: Kindle.

Price: £2.48 (via Amazon).

My rating: Five stars.

To find out more about Shari please visit her Facebook page , website or follow her on Twitter.

With thanks to Aria (via NetGalley) for the ARC and the opportunity to be part of the tour.

Also, don’t just take my word for it, find out what the other fabulous bloggers on the tour thought.

Another Day in Winter blog tour poster (2)

 

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Book Review: The Deserter’s Daughter.

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When the paperback version of Susanna Bavin’s debut, The Deserter’s Daughter, arrived in the post I Tweeted this photo with the caption: “That’s my weekend reading sorted.”

In reality, I turned the first page on Friday night and the next thing I knew it was 24 hours later and I was breathing a happy sigh as I closed the book. It is THAT GOOD.

I’m sure I didn’t sit reading the whole time – there is a four-year-old in the house, after all – but Mark did comment, ‘Is that book attached to your hand?’.

I wanted it to be. I fell asleep (way after my bedtime) worrying about the lead character, Carrie, and I woke up desperate to see where the story would lead her. Where it would lead all of them, really.

Here’s the blurb:

1920, Chorlton, Manchester. As her wedding day draws near, Carrie Jenkins is trying on her dress and eagerly anticipating becoming Mrs Billy Shipton. But all too soon she is reeling from the news that her beloved father was shot for desertion during the Great War. When Carrie is jilted and the close-knit community turns its back on her as well as her mother and her half-sister, Evadne, the plans Carrie nurtured are in disarray

Desperate to overcome private shock and public humiliation, and with her mother also gravely ill, Carrie accepts the unsettling advances of well-to-do furniture dealer Ralph Armstrong. Through Ralph, Evadne meets the aristocratic Alex Larter, who seems to be the answer to her matrimonial ambitions as well. But both sisters put their faith in men who are not to be trusted, and they will face danger and heartache before they can find the happiness they deserve.

I’m going to let you into a secret, I was really worried about reading this book. Usually I am open to new genres but family saga is one that I thought wouldn’t float my boat. Not only that, I have got to know and like Susanna over the last year or so – since she appeared in my second Behind The Book post – and I really wanted to love her book. (Not that I think she would have cast me aside if it wasn’t my cup of tea).

I feel a bit daft now that it took me so long to read it (the hardback came out in June last year).

If Susanna’s book is an accurate representation of the family saga then sign me up. She has created nuanced, believable characters, who I was invested in from the start, along with an absorbing and colourful narrative – all elements I enjoy in contemporary books.

And, far from distracting from the story, the historical aspect only added to it. She writes with honesty and sensitivity about what it must have been like to be a deserter’s daughter. I felt the shame of the family as sure as if they were my relations.

This is an accomplished book and an incredible debut. I can’t wait for her next one, which I will definitely be reading as soon as possible.

Format: Paperback.

Price: £8.99 (via Amazon).

My rating: Five stars.

With thanks to Susanna and her publishers, Allison & Busby, for the paperback in return for an honest review.

Book Review: Sleigh Rides And Silver Bells At The Christmas Fair.

SleighridesIf you haven’t read any of Heidi Swain’s books before, Sleigh Rides And Silver Bells At The Christmas Fair is the perfect place to start but if you’re already a fan, I predict it will quickly become your new favourite.

As I was reading, it reminded me of something but for ages I couldn’t quite put my finger on what that was – and then it came to me, Jane Eyre.

Not so much the plot – although there are some similarities. Thankfully there’s no Bertha Mason in the attic, although there is something surprising up there, but the two main characters do come of age in one way and the heroine, Anna, is all on her own.

However, it was more Anna’s voice. She seems quite uptight and authoritative but underneath there’s a layer of vulnerability that I instantly warmed to.

Here’s the blurb:

When Anna takes on the role of companion to the owner of Wynthorpe Hall, on the outskirts of Wynbridge, she has no idea that her life is set to change beyond all recognition.

A confirmed ‘bah humbug’ when it comes to Christmas, Anna is amazed to find herself quickly immersed in the eccentric household, and when youngest son Jamie unexpectedly arrives home it soon becomes obvious that her personal feelings are going all out to compromise her professional persona.

Jamie, struggling to come to terms with life back in the Fens, makes a pact with Anna – she has to teach him to fall back in love with Wynthorpe Hall, while he helps her fall back in love with Christmas. But will it all prove too much for Anna, or can the family of Wynthorpe Hall warm her heart once and for all…?

It’s lovely to see the relationship between Anna and the hero, Jamie, unfold. Their chemistry is evident from the start but there are all sorts of things that stand in the way, not least that he is her employers’ son and she has a rule about mixing business with pleasure.

The supporting cast are fabulous and only added to my enjoyment. I loved learning the back stories of various family/employees as well as the healing magic that seems to happen at the hall.

The fictional town of Wynbridge is the backbone of Heidi’s books and while Wynthorpe Hall is out in the sticks, Anna makes multiple visits and it seems especially lovely at Christmas time (some of the stars of previous books also make welcome cameos). She even takes a trip into Norwich and, maybe it’s because I’m a local, but it made me smile to read about a place I had visited earlier in the day.

In fact, the only bad thing about this book is that I raced through it and it was over too quickly.

More please!

Format: Kindle.

Price: 99p:

My rating: Five stars.

If you’re interested, you can find out more about Heidi from my Behind The Book interview here.