Dot Scribbles


BLOG TOUR: A Parcel for Anna Browne by Miranda Dickinson

I am delighted to be part of the Blog Tour for Miranda Dickinson's latest book, A Parcel for Anna Browne, another fantastic book from this very talented author!

Anna Browne is an ordinary woman living an ordinary life. Her day job as a receptionist in bustling London isn't exactly her dream, yet she has everything she wants. But someone thinks Anna Browne deserves more.
When a parcel addressed to Anna arrives, she has no idea who sent it. Inside she finds a beautiful gift- one that is designed to be seen. And so begins a series of incredible deliveries; each one bringing Anna further out of the shadows and encouraging her to become the woman she was destined to be.
As Anna grows in confidence others begin to notice her and her life starts to change. But who is sending the mysterious gifts and why?

Publisher: Pan 
Pages: 516

I have always enjoyed Miranda Dickinson's books and A Parcel for Anna Browne is one of her best. Anna moved from Cornwall to start a new life in London. She has a very normal life in the city, working as a receptionist at a big newspaper. Things get more exciting though when a parcel arrives for Anna at work. It contains a beautiful gift that has been especially chosen for Anna. There is no card with the gift though, Anna is overjoyed by the beautiful and thoughtful gift but she doesn't have anybody to thank. As more beautiful gifts arrive, Anna becomes more and more interested in who might be sending them. Each gift leads Anna to being more confident and they make her question whether she wants more from life.
I really liked Anna Browne as a character; she is clearly one of life's good people. I felt that at times she had very high expectations of those around her which on one hand was endearing but on the other was also slightly naive. Those around her seem to recognise that about Anna and are therefore quite protective of her.
A Parcel for Anna Browne made me th
ink a little of the early books of Cecilia Aherne. The gifts bring a magical element to the book. They bring a lovely sense of anticipation to the story as you wonder what each one will contain; how it will effect Anna and most importantly who is sending them?
I think that Miranda is always very good at describing the locations within her story, she manages to really bring them alive. I loved the description of the newspaper office and the types of people coming in and out. Having worked in a very similar building, I felt that Miranda got it spot on.
The supporting characters are all very good, each brings something to the story and some brought a great deal of humour which really lifted the story.
A Parcel for Anna Browne is a lovely book and it would make an excellent gift if you are already thinking about your Christmas shopping. Miranda Dickinson writes with warmth, humour and a little sparkle of magic in this book and I highly recommend it.

Many thanks to the lovely people at Pan for inviting me to take part in the blog tour! 


BOOK REVIEW: Jambusters by Julie Summers

The Second World War was the Women's Institutes finest hour.
Making jam, gathering rosehips, housing evacuees, setting up canteens for the troops, knitting and singing were not only part of the everyday life of the WI but at the heart of their efforts during the war. Two decades of educating, entertaining and supporting women and campaigning on women's issues culminated in a collective desire to 'do their bit' for Britain.
Through archive material and interviews with many members, Julie Summers gives us the compelling true story of how the WI pulled rural Britain through the war with pots of jam and an indomitable spirit of make-do-and-mend.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 333

Jambusters by Julie Summers is the book which inspired the ITV drama Home Fires; I've not watched the series yet but I joined the WI just four months ago so I was interested to read more about them.
Summers very much focuses on the WI's role during the Second World War, obviously there is much more to them than that but it is probably this period of time that showed them to be a real force to reckoned with.
They have had to live with the cosy couplet of 'Jam and Jerusalem' for over half a century and it was ridiculing the enormous amount of work done by the women of rural Britain.
Yes, they did indeed make jam which was hugely important as at the time of rationing it was vital that no food went to waste. However, they did so, so much more during the war. Many WI's were heavily involved with the evacuee process, helping to re-home and care for the many children who had to leave towns and cities due to the threat of bombing. WIs knitted and hand-made many garments sent abroad for the forces; tasks like this were vital and who else would have taken them on? WI's across the country were also involved in the Digging for Victory movement, they provided information through their publication Home and County as to what should be planted and when and how to care for the food once picked. This movement and hard work created extra food supplies that were desperately needed.
Whilst these extra activities were going on, the WI continued to focus on building a better future and campaigning for changes to be made. Part of the book that really hit home for me was about one WI member whose husband left for war; she did not see him again for almost four years and during that time she had to raise three children on her own, run the household and maintain a farm yet she still found time to be involved in her local WI so that she could help others.
At the end of the day this book is about women and the way in which the WI brings them together. I joined my WI because I moved to a relatively small village where I didn't know anybody plus I always find spending time with other women pretty inspiring. There's a lot of recognition and understanding between women; everyone who joins the WI does so for their own reasons but the aim is often the same
The great thing about the WI is that you are one of a few who are all trying things out. You get drawn into it and that makes you want to encourage others to join. She has to appreciate what it can be, what it can mean to her, what it can do for her.
Julie Summers has written an excellent account of the WI during the Second World War. I really enjoyed the anecdotes that she included and it was obvious that she had done a great deal of research. It was particularly interesting to find out in greater detail the role that women played during the war. They were not on the front line but they had to keep everything going plus get involved in activities to support those who had gone away to fight. In many ways the Women's Institute should be very proud of the 'Jam and Jerusalem' tag but it is also refreshing to read about their many other contributions to one of the most difficult periods of time our country has ever faced.


BOOK REVIEW: The Beachside Guest House by Vanessa Greene

When Rosa and Bee get together in the run up to Bee's wedding, they reminisce about the holiday they took together as teenagers to the beautiful Greek island of Paros. They remember the sandy coves, the guest house in the converted windmill where they stayed with their friend Iona, and the gorgeous local men. As memories of that long-forgotten holiday resurface, they are forced to confront the turns their lives have taken and the guilt they both feel about letting Iona slip away from them.
When they learn that the windmill guesthouse is going bust, they form a plan: why not go back to the island and take it over themselves. And so begins a life-changing journey because it turns out that opening a guest house and reliving their teenage dreams isn't that easy. 

Publisher: Sphere
Pages: 371

Somehow I missed Vanessa Greene's last book, The Seafront Tearooms but I loved her first book The Vintage Teacup Club. The Beachside Guesthouse is full of the same warmth and friendship, with a beautiful Greek island location thrown in.
Vanessa Greene gives us three fantastic female leads, Rosa, Bee and Iona, The three girls visited the small of island of Paros when they were teenagers and they fell in love with the place. Years later they hear that the converted windmill they stayed in is up for sale so Bee and Rosa decide to return there to set up a guesthouse and build a new future. They let Iona know of their plans via letter but they don't expect a response seen as she bizarrely cut them out of her life several years ago,
All three women have different lives and struggles since being on Paros last time. How different will the island be now they are seeing it through adult eyes and how welcoming will the locals be of their new business venture?
I enjoyed Vanessa Greene's writing style, it is very warm and welcoming but also extremely witty in places. There is so much to interest the reader within the story; a new business venture; exploring the island; old relationships; new relationships, winning round the locals but most of all the book is about friendship and the important impact it can have.
The Greek island setting for this book was perfect and Vanessa Greene's descriptions were beautiful.  I could imagine the crystal clear waters, the sun setting and the sounds and smells coming from the local markets and tavernas.
The Beachside Guesthouse is a really lovely read that I would highly recommend. This summer has been a bit of a disappointment weather-wise so why not allow Vanessa Greene to transport you to a beautiful island in the glittering Mediterranean sun?

Many thanks to the lovely people at Sphere for sending me a copy of this book to review. 


BOOK REVIEW AND GIVE-AWAY: The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne

One of Sarah's daughter's died. But does she know which one?
A year after one of their identical daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcroft move to a tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.
But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie claims they have mistaken her identity- that she in fact, is Lydia- their world comes crashing down once again.
As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, Sarah finds herself tortured by the past- what really happened on that fateful day one of their daughters died?

Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 373

Ooh this was good! The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne is brilliantly creepy and intriguing.
Sarah and Angus lost Lydia, one of their twin daughters a year ago in a tragic accident. They have moved to a tiny Scottish island with their remaining daughter Kirstie to rebuild their lives. Sarah is taken aback though when Kirstie says that she is actually Lydia and it was Kirstie who died. Sarah cannot process this information; the twins are identical, did they make a mistake? Is Lydia still alive? As Kirstie's behaviour becomes more and more disturbing and erratic, Sarah must face up to the past and what really happened on the day of her daughter's death.
I thought that S.K. Tremayne built up such a creepy, spine-tingling atmosphere in this book. Sarah becomes almost frightened of her own child which is terrifying in itself. There is so much isolation in the book; Kirstie is isolated from her dead sister; Sarah and Angus are isolated from each other due to their grief ans the whole family is physically isolated from the world on their tiny little island.
This atmospheric thriller is perfect for this time of year, the plot and the characters are well crafted and S.K. Tremayne's writing gave me goosebumps on several occasions, highly recommended.

Many thanks to the lovely people at Harper Collins for sending me a review copy, I also have a paperback copy of this book to give away! Simply leave a comment below and I will pick a winner out of the hat after one week! Only open to UK residents. 


BOOK REVIEW: The Crucifix Killer by Chris Carter

Cross your heart and hope to die. Quickly.
In a derelict house in LA , a young woman is found savagely murdered. Naked, strung from two wooden posts, the skin has been ripped from her face- while she was still alive. On the nape of her neck is carved a strange double-cross: the signature of a psychopath known as the Crucifix Killer.
But that's  not possible. Because two years ago, the Crucifix Killer was caught and executed. Could this be the work of a copycat? Or is Homicide Detective Robert Hunter forced to face the unthinkable? Is the real Crucifix Killer still out there, taunting Hunter with his inability to catch him?
Robert Hunter and his rookie partner are about to enter a nightmare beyond imagining...

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 423

This book was so, so good! It only took me just over a day to read and now I just want to read all of Chris Carter's other books. I have seen the fabulous Victoria Loves Books talking about this author so I decided to give him a go and I'm so glad I did.
The Crucifix Killer is one of the best thrillers I have read. Chris Carter does not mess about, he takes you right into the thick of it on the very first page. I would say that this book would not be good for any squeamish readers as the author goes into quite graphic detail about the awful acts that the victim's experience.
Detective Robert Hunter was my favourite part of the book. I think we only scratch the surface in the first book but I already want to know more. He has some of the classic detective cliché's; insomnia, drink problems, bad shoes but he is very likeable and interesting. His battle with the Crucifix Killer is intense, he wants nothing more than to stop this monster but at what cost to himself?
The other character's in this book were well crafted and I enjoyed the way Carter depicted the L.A. underworld where the law certainly isn't upheld as they have their own rules and forms of punishment.
I really enjoy thrillers but I have always struggled to to find writers that I particularly enjoy within this genre. Tess Gerritsen is my go-to author for this type of book but I think if I enjoy Chris Carter's other books as much as this one then Gerritsen may be knocked off the top spot.


BOOK REVIEW: Pleasure Island by Anna Lou Weatherley

Secrets. Scandal. Betrayal. In Paradise, pleasure comes at a dangerously high price...
The host: Martin McKenzie, global billionaire and media mogul. Charismatic, powerful and always gets what he wants.
The location: A breathtakingly beautiful undiscovered island, nestled in the Aegean Sea. Private, secluded and not quite as it seems.
The details: Seven  days of pure hedonism, five-star luxury tailored to every desire, also includes... secrets, lies and infidelity.
As the guests begin to enjoy everything the luxury island has to offer, cracks begin to surface between the three couples. But that is not all. Someone is watching them. When they discover the truth- it will be explosive in more ways than they can ever imagine. 

Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 340

Pleasure Island by Anna Lou Weatherley is such a fun read. It really reminded me of books I have read by Victoria Fox; it is a perfect holiday read as it will keep you entertained from start to finish.
Martin McKenzie is a billionaire and media mogul. Hugely successful but also hugely disliked; he rarely does something unless it will benefit himself. So it comes as a surprise when he invites three couples to Pleasure Island for an all expenses paid trip of utter luxury and hedonism. All three couples are obviously wary but how will they react when they discover that they are being watched and what will the consequences of that be?
Pleasure Island has a very good pace, I was so shocked by the events of the first few chapters that I just had to keep on reading. I think the shock at the start of the book makes it stand out from others in this genre. I was not expecting it at all and it added another element to the book.
Pleasure Island is heavily concerned with secrets, scandals and betrayal so many of the characters are not very nice. Often though, I find that villains are usually the more interesting characters and Pleasure Island definitely has it's fair share.
Anna Lou Weatherley has written a brilliantly engaging and entertaining book which looks at the lengths people will go to in order to achieve fame and success. Pleasure Island will shock and surprise you and I recommend you read it, another great book from Bookouture.


BOOK REVIEW: The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby

On a sunny morning in November 1963, President and Mrs Kennedy are greeted by ecstatic crowds in Dallas.
Across the country at an exclusive Manhattan atelier, is Kate, the Irish seamstress responsible for much of Mrs Kennedy's wardrobe. She has never met the first lady, but she savours her connection. After all, she knows every tuck and pleat the beautiful clothes need to create the illusion of physical perfection.
Then comes the dreadful day when pictures of Kate's handiwork, splattered with the President's blood, are beamed across the world... 

Publisher: Virago
Pages: 310

The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby is a beautifully written, enthralling book. It mixes historical fact with fiction, producing a fascinating story that I was completely taken by.
Kate is the seamstress at Chez Ninon and they make beautiful clothes for the First Lady at their atelier in New York. The First Lady has been criticised for wearing French clothes so Chez Ninon make reproductions of French pieces; the famous pink suit was by Chanel and Kate spends so many hours reproducing it so that it fits the First Lady perfectly. She becomes obsessed by it and has no idea just how iconic that suit will become one fateful day.
Kelby explores the role of women; the First Lady is almost mirrored by Kate. Jackie Kennedy appears to have it all; the fame, the fortune, the beautiful clothes but how much of that is because of the man she married? Kate is extremely talented and driven; she is passionate about fashion yet she knows she needs to take a husband but that may mean giving up on her dreams.
The Pink Suit offers a detailed and fascinating insight into the world of designers and couture clothing. Obviously times have changed but in this niche fashion world, traditions and standards are revered so I imagine many practices are the same. The author's research was obvious throughout and she really brought the Manhattan atelier to life.
I highly recommend this book, the mixture of fact and fiction is brilliantly done, you will be not be disappointed.

Many thanks to Emily for sending me a copy of this book to review. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...