A Midwinter Promise by Lulu Taylor (Review)

A Midwinter Promise by Lulu Taylor

Blurb

The past

A lonely and imaginative child, Julia loves her family’s beautiful and wild Cornish home with all her heart. But, marked by dark troubles, she enters her adult years determined to leave and seek a new beginning in London. It’s there she meets the handsome David. They fall in love, but when Julia becomes pregnant, even he can’t stop the terrible echoes of the past from ringing in her ears. The only sound to be heard above the noise is the old Cornish house, calling her home . . .

The present

For Julia’s adult children, Alex and Johnnie, the house hides the history of their family within its walls. For Alex, it is full of memories of her late mother. For Johnnie, it is the house that should have been rightfully theirs after Julia died but has been stolen from them instead. With their father now lying in a hospital bed, time is running out for Alex and Johnnie to uncover the secrets of what happened to their mother all those years ago. Can they discover the truth before the house closes its doors to them forever?

Review

I have read some of Taylor’s books before and I have really enjoyed them so I was excited to get reading this. 

There are two storylines within this book, the past and present, and I will admit I struggled at times when reading the past. The past follows the life of Julia and rather cleverly her life  is running parallel with Princess Diana’s who also features in the book because Julia’s husband David works in the palace for Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

I will be honest this book made me angry because Julia really needed help. She was let down by doctors and those closest to her and that made me really angry and upset but I realise that is what Taylor was aiming for and Taylor had obviously done a significant amount of research into Julia’s condition which the reader only really finds out about at the end of the book.

Alex and Johnnie, Julia’s children are now grown and have children of their own and problems of their own. Johnnie got on my nerves slightly because I found him rather selfish and unfair to his wife. Alex was my favourite character, she was full of feeling and worked hard with her business and was just a lovely character to follow.

Mundo was my least favourite, he was definitely wrong and rather unbelievable to be honest. Sally was a character who my opinion changed on, on more than one occasion but I won’t say more. 

I was a little disappointed about the detail in the book as I would have liked a bit more description regarding Tawray the house as usually Taylor is bang on with her descriptions. Overall, I enjoyed the book but I did struggle with it at times and it left me feeling rather sad. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

🐲🐲🐲

Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Lulu was brought up in the Oxfordshire countryside, attended a girls’ school and then went to Oxford University, where she read English Literature. After university, she worked in publishing for several years, before becoming a novelist.

Fireside Gothic by Andrew Taylor (Review)

Fireside Gothic by Andrew Taylor

36448701._SY475_

About the author

77486

Andrew Taylor was born in 1951 and is a British author best known for his crime novels. He has won the Diamond Dagger which is Britain’s top crime-writing award.

Blurb

BROKEN VOICES

It’s Christmas before the Great War and two lonely schoolboys have been forced into companionship. Left in the care of an elderly teacher, there is little to do but listen to his eerie tales about the nearby Cathedral. The boys concoct a plan to discover if the stories are true. But the Cathedral is filled with hidden dangers, and curiosity can prove fatal.

THE LEPER HOUSE

One stormy night in Suffolk, a man’s car breaks down following his sister’s funeral. The only source of light comes from a remote cottage by the sea. The mysterious woman who lives there begs him to leave, yet he can’t shake the sense that she somehow needs him. He attempts to return the next day but she is nowhere to be seen. And neither is the cottage.

THE SCRATCH

Clare and Gerald live a perfect life in the Forest of Dean with their cat, Cannop. Then Gerald’s young nephew comes to stay. Jack is from another world – active service in Afghanistan. The experience has left him outwardly untouched, but for a scratch that won’t heal. Jack and Cannop don’t like each other. Clare and Jack like each other too much. The scratch begins to fester.

Review

This book is not on my summer reading challenge and to be honest I read it by accident. I did not want to take my Kindle to the beach so I borrowed one of the books my husband had brought on holiday with him. My husband has read a lot of Andrew Taylor’s books but this one is a first for me and will not be the last.

This book has three stories is in it, so I will review them separately.

Broken Voices

Out of the three, this is my favourite story and feels the most Gothic to me. The story is based around two schoolboys who cannot go home for Christmas so must spend the season with an elderly teacher. They hear an old legend about the Cathedral and so decide to see for themselves whether it is true and they attempt this in the middle of night, adding to the mystery and drama. I must admit the two boys are braver than I, as I could never go in to a Cathedral in the middle of the night, too many ghosts for my liking.

Taylor sets the scene perfectly, it is just like a gothic novel from the Victorian period. He describes how the building looks different in the night, how the shadows flicker in the candlelight and how they might not be alone. At the end of the tale I was not entirely sure if it was all real it felt like a dream that one of the boys had when they were young. The story left me pondering somewhat.

The Leper House

This story was my least favourite and to be honest rather forgettable, I had to remind myself what happened in it before writing the review. I enjoyed the story but wouldn’t read it again as it did not really have anything special about it.

The story is about a man who meets a mysterious woman in a cottage which has no power and no comforts. This woman is a complete mystery to the man and he has to see her again, even when she tries to push him away. However, the next day he goes to find the cottage again and nothing is there, just some ruins.

This story was rather a confusing read and just felt more complicated than it needed to be. The characters were also rather unremarkable and nothing really stood out for me. The one thing I was really happy with at the end was that in my opinion he made the right choice.

The Scratch

This was a creepy read, especially for a cat owner and one of those cats is black. I was not entirely sure what to make of this story but really enjoyed reading it. There were a lot of What Ifs in the story and it left me pondering again.

I also enjoyed how Taylor included one of the main characters as a PTSD sufferer who has come back from being in the army and is struggling with getting back into the world again. I must admit I have not read many books tackling this issue and it was good to see Taylor including it in this story.

I did not really like Clare, I’m not sure why but she just got on my nerves. Gerald is obviously a hard working man who has always worked hard for his family and is a caring man who is happy to try and help his nephew where he can.

The story was really good and kept me hooked and I liked the ending and especially Cannop the cat, although I felt sorry for him for his name. I would have liked a bit more Gothic though.

Overall, I enjoyed the three stories and it has lit the spark for me wanting to read more of Taylor’s books. The only reason the book did not get the full 5 Dragons and only got 4 was because I wanted more Gothic from the last two stories. A very good beach read.

Purchase Links

Waterstones

Book Depository

lady book dragon signature 250w

Friday Poetry

Another poem I chose because it made me think of Christmas. This one the star that the three wise men followed to see Jesus. The pictures are from my Christmas decorations.

The Star

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

How I wonder what you are!

Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky.

 

When the blazing sun is gone,

When he nothing shines upon,

Then you show your little light,

Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

 

Then the traveller in the dark,

Thanks you for your tiny spark,

He could not see which way to go,

If you did not twinkle so.

 

In the dark blue sky you keep,

And often through my curtains peep,

For you never shut your eye,

Till the sun is in the sky.

 

As your bright and tiny spark,

Lights the travellers in the dark-

Though I know not what you are,

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

 

Jane Taylor

t6EVHElzTKuVLyCFmfqZ2Q

Lady Book Dragon