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Friday, 30 April 2021

Reading Round-Up: March/April 2021

The Writing Greyhound book stack

It's been over a year since the UK first went into lockdown, and although we are certainly not out of the woods yet, it seems as though there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. As ever though, spending more time at home has meant more time for reading - which is definitely one of the very few perks to have come out of the pandemic.

Keep on reading to catch up with all my bookish exploits over the last two months!

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Book Review: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint book cover


AD* | As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur - Minos's greatest shame and Ariadne's brother - demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods - drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne's decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover's ambition?


Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Book Review: And Then She Ran by Karen Clarke

And Then She Ran by Karen Clarke book cover

AD* | How far would you go to keep your baby safe?

The fist flew past Grace’s face and smashed into the wall behind her, flicking a switch in her head. Grace bundled her eight-week-old daughter into her carrycot, opened the door and ran.

Her life in New York faded into the background – she needed to keep her baby safe. She needed to get as far away from Patrick as possible.

Now, staying in a remote cottage in Wales, Grace is trying to start again. But she can’t shake the uneasy feeling that she’s been followed.

And then she finds a note. Left on her bed. A tiny scrap of paper with scrawl in bright red pen.

Keep her close. Anything could happen.

She’s been found. Patrick wants his baby back.

But Grace will do everything to stop him.

Monday, 26 April 2021

Book Review: The Map of Us by Jules Preston

The Map of Us by Jules Preston book cover

AD* | A story of love and lost directions.

Violet North is wonderfully inconvenient. Abandoned by her family and lost in an imagined world of moors and adventure, her life changes in the space of just 37 words exchanged with a stranger at her front door.

Decades later, Daniel Bearing has inherited his father's multi-million-pound business and is utterly lost. He has no idea who he is or where his life is headed.

When Violet’s granddaughter’s marriage falls apart, Tilly, always adept with numbers, compiles a detailed statistical report to pinpoint why. But the Compatibility Index Tilly creates has unforeseen consequences for everyone in her world.

Tilly and Daniel share a secret too. 10.37am, April 22nd.

Soon, a complex web of secrets and lies is exposed and an adventure begins with a blue typewriter...


Sunday, 25 April 2021

The Writing Greyhound's All Time Favourite Books

Last Updated: 25 June 2021

Bookshelves The Writing Greyhound

As I'm sure everyone knows by now, I read a lot and I love to share my thoughts and opinions on the books I read. I aim to read a minimum of 50 books a year and while they're not always five-star favourites, I read widely across most genres. My favourites can be quite diverse.

Some might say that I'm a little stingy with my reviews because I only ever give five stars to the best of the best. However, as a result, all my five-star rated books come highly recommended! I've compiled a list of all my five-star favourites, segmented by genre, so you can easily find your next read.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Book Review: The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo book cover

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price - and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction - if they don’t kill each other first.


Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Book Review: The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse

 

The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse book cover

Sussex, 1912. In a churchyard, villagers gather on the night when the ghosts of those who will die in the coming year are thought to be seen. Here, where the estuary leads out to the sea, superstitions still hold sway.

Standing alone is the taxidermist's daughter. At 17, Constantia Gifford lives with her father in a decaying house: it is all that is left of Gifford's once world-famous museum of taxidermy. The stuffed animals that used to grace every parlour are out of fashion, leaving Gifford a disgraced and bitter man.

The bell begins to toll and all eyes are fixed on the church. No one sees the gloved hand pick up a flint. As the last notes fade into the dark, a woman lies dead.

While the village braces itself against rising waters and the highest tide of the season, Connie struggles to discover who is responsible but finds herself under suspicion. Is Constantia who she seems - is she the victim of circumstances or are more sinister forces at work? And what is the secret that lies at the heart of Gifford House, hidden among the bell jars of her father's workshop?


Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Book Review: The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk book cover


AD* | Beatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar that will cut off her powers to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus and pursuing magic as her calling as men do, but her family has staked everything to equip her for Bargaining Season when young men and women of means descend upon the city to negotiate the best marriages. The Clayborns are in severe debt, and only she can save them, by securing an advantageous match before their creditors come calling.

In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus, but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help her get it back, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss... with her adversary’s brother, the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.

The more Beatrice is entangled with the Lavan siblings, the harder her decision becomes: If she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and lose the only man to ever see her for who she is; but if she marries - even for love - she will sacrifice her magic, her identity, and her dreams. But how can she choose just one, knowing she will forever regret the path not taken? 

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Book Review: The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth book cover

AD* | From the outside, everyone might think Fern and Rose are as close as twin sisters can be: Rose is the responsible one and Fern is the quirky one. But the sisters are devoted to one another and Rose has always been Fern's protector from the time they were small.

Fern needed protecting because their mother was a true sociopath who hid her true nature from the world, and only Rose could see it. Fern always saw the good in everyone. Years ago, Fern did something very, very bad. And Rose has never told a soul. When Fern decides to help her sister achieve her heart's desire of having a baby, Rose realizes with growing horror that Fern might make choices that can only have a terrible outcome. What Rose doesn't realize is that Fern is growing more and more aware of the secrets Rose, herself, is keeping. And that their mother might have the last word after all. 


Friday, 16 April 2021

Book Review: The Sister-in-Law by Pamela Crane

The Sister-in-Law by Pamela Crane book cover

AD* | Everyone in this family is hiding something...

THE WIFE: It was a whirlwind romance and a shotgun wedding, but weeks into their marriage, Candace realizes that moving in with Lane also means moving in with his possessive, uptight sister. And there’s no room for three in this marriage...

THE SISTER-IN-LAW: Harper is the kind of woman who cooks homemade meals and dusts under the furniture – it’s the least she can do for her brother as he’s been sharing his home with her and the kids since her husband’s mysterious death. But then Candace showed up and started asking questions...

THE HUSBAND: All Lane has ever wanted is a white-picket-fence life. The wife. The two-point-five kids. The happy little family. And everything seemed to be falling into place with Candace until Harper’s jealous streak got in the way, again. But choosing between his sister and wife will be costly – and knowing Harper, the price could be blood...


Thursday, 15 April 2021

Book Review: The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent

The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent book cover

AD* | Have you ever imagined running away from your life?

Well, Birdy Finch didn't just imagine it. She did it. Which might've been an error. And the life she's run into? Her best friend, Heather's.

The only problem is, she hasn't told Heather. Actually, there are a few other problems...

Can Birdy carry off a summer at a luxury Scottish hotel pretending to be her best friend (who incidentally is a world-class wine expert)?

And can she stop herself from falling for the first man she's ever actually liked (but who thinks she's someone else)?

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Book Review: The Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

The Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo book covers

Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Orphaned and expendable, Alina Starkov is a soldier who knows she may not survive her first trek across the Shadow Fold - a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. But when her regiment is attacked, Alina unleashes dormant magic not even she knew she possessed. Now Alina will enter a lavish world of royalty and intrigue as she trains with the Grisha, her country's magical military elite - and falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling.


Friday, 9 April 2021

Book Review: The Heiress by Molly Greeley

The Heiress by Molly Greeley book cover


AD* | As a fussy baby, Anne de Bourgh’s doctor prescribed laudanum to quiet her, and now the young woman must take the opium-heavy tincture every day. Growing up sheltered and confined, removed from sunshine and fresh air, the pale and overly slender Anne grew up with few companions except her cousins, including Fitzwilliam Darcy. Throughout their childhoods, it was understood that Darcy and Anne would marry and combine their vast estates of Pemberley and Rosings. But Darcy does not love Anne or want her.

After her father dies unexpectedly, leaving her his vast fortune, Anne has a moment of clarity: what if her life of fragility and illness isn’t truly real? What if she could free herself from the medicine that clouds her sharp mind and leaves her body weak and lethargic? Might there be a better life without the medicine she has been told she cannot live without?

In a frenzy of desperation, Anne discards her laudanum and flees to the London home of her cousin, Colonel John Fitzwilliam, who helps her through her painful recovery. Yet once she returns to health, new challenges await. Shy and utterly inexperienced, the wealthy heiress must forge a new identity for herself, learning to navigate a “season” in society and the complexities of love and passion. The once wan, passive Anne gives way to a braver woman with a keen edge - leading to a powerful reckoning with the domineering mother determined to control Anne’s fortune... and her life.


Thursday, 8 April 2021

Book Review: London's No 1 Dog-Walking Agency by Kate MacDougall

London's No 1 Dog Walking Agency by Kate MacDougall book cover

AD* | The irresistibly charming memoir of a young woman who started her own business as a dog walker for London’s busy, well-heeled dog lovers. A true love letter to London, dogs, and growing up. 

In 2006, Kate MacDougall was working a safe but dull job at the venerable auction house Sotheby’s in London. After a clumsy accident nearly destroyed a precious piece of art, she quit Sotheby’s and set up her own dog-walking company. Kate knew little about dogs and nothing about business, and no one thought being a professional dog walker was a good use of her university degree. Nevertheless, Kate embarked upon an entirely new and very much improvised career walking some of the city’s many pampered pooches, branding her company “London's Number One Dog Walking Agency.” 

With sharp wit, delightful observations, and plenty of canine affection, Kate reveals her unique and unconventional coming-of-age story, as told through the dogs, and the London homes and neighbourhoods they inhabit. One walk at a time, she journeys from a haphazard twentysomething to a happily - and surprisingly - settled adult, with love, relationships, drama, and homeownership along the way. But, as Kate says, “It’s all down to the dogs” and what they taught her about London - and life. 


Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Why We Need to Stop Asking Personal Questions

Why We Need to Stop Asking Personal Questions

We are bombarded with personal questions throughout our lives. When was the last time someone asked you when you're getting married, having a baby, or getting a new job? Of course, personal questions like these are necessary for some situations, but in most cases, they definitely are not. 

Being asked personal questions can be unwanted, unnecessary, and uncalled for - even if it's someone close to you who is asking. You should always remember that no one ever truly knows what someone else is feeling, thinking, or going through, and your seemingly harmless question could cause them a lot of pain, stress, or negative emotions. 

Above all else, though, why is it any of their business? Everyone lives their lives in a different way, and the path they follow or the choices they make might differ from your own. And that's okay - we are all individuals capable of making our own way through life. 

Therefore, applying your own beliefs, experiences, expectations, or even prejudices to someone else's life is just wrong. Let them lead their lives as they see fit; they have no need to answer to you. 

Here's why my personal life is none of your business!


Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Book Review: Desecration by J.F. Penn

Desecration by J.F. Penn book cover

Death isn't always the end.

When the body of a murdered young heiress is found within the Royal College of Surgeons, Detective Sergeant Jamie Brooke is assigned to the case. An antique ivory figurine found beside the body her only lead, she enlists Blake Daniel, a reluctant psychic, to help her discover the message it holds.

The investigation leads them to a sinister secret society known as the Lyceum, who revel in human vivisection and murder.

When personal tragedy strikes, Jamie has nothing left to lose and she must race against time to stop the mysterious Lyceum before it claims yet another victim.

As Jamie and Blake delve into a macabre world of grave robbery, body modification, and genetically engineered monsters, they must fight to maintain their sanity... and their lives.


Friday, 2 April 2021

Book Review: At First Sight by Hannah Sunderland

At First Sight by Hannah Sunderland book cover

AD* | Two strangers. Two chance meetings. One extraordinary love story...

Nell and Charlie feel a spark when they meet by chance in a cafe. But they don’t trade numbers or surnames, so there’s no way they’ll meet again.

But the next day, Nell’s phone rings at work. Somehow, impossibly, Charlie is on the other end. And he needs her help.

Nell is about to save a life, fall in love... and risk everything for a perfect stranger.


Thursday, 1 April 2021

Book Review: The Girl from the Island by Lorna Cook

The Girl from the Island by Lorna Cook book cover

AD* | A world at war.

One woman will risk everything.

Another will uncover her story.

1940: When the island of Guernsey is invaded by the Nazis, two sisters are determined to rebel in any way they can. But when forced to take in a German soldier, they are shocked to find a familiar face on their doorstep – a childhood friend who has now become their enemy.

2016: Two generations later, Lucy returns to Guernsey after the death of a distant cousin. As she prepares the old family house for sale, Lucy discovers a box of handwritten notes, one word standing out: resistance. Lucy’s search for the author will uncover the story of a forgotten sister who vanished from the island one night, never to be seen again.