Strawberry Sky: Reviewed by Bookmuse

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What we thought: I was looking forward to this book having enjoyed the first two in the series, and I’m pleased to say I was not disappointed. The novel emerges you right into the heart of the complex lives of sisters, Laura and Maggie, as we follow the next chapter of their story. And it’s an emotional one! The author embraces the world we find ourselves, amid the wild open hills of North Wales, and that confidence shines through in her writing. Well-paced, this story plays with the reader’s sympathies and loyalties, reeling you in right from the start, into their world so we care about the outcome of the characters. I particularly enjoyed the excellent twist in the tale.

Laura has lots to celebrate in her life. James is on the road to recovery following his near death accident, and the equine business is booming with plans for further expansion. But there are dark shadows also; her desire to get pregnant threatens her marriage, plus her worries about family ‘bad blood’ remain unresolved.

Maggie has her own family crisis to manage. Her daughter, Jess, flees to America leaving her (literally) holding baby, Krystal, and Pete has a health scare that could shatter their world. But with Jess, nothing is ever simple, and trying to keep the family together and find time for herself becomes a challenge.

Bookmuse Award BadgeIt was a real joy to be back in this equine-based world and in the remoteness and beauty of the North Wales setting. The location and local characters as always brought another dimension to the story. And this story is a page turner, full of dramatic highs and lows, it grips the reader to the very end. I read the whole book over one weekend, with the need to read more mixed with the dread of reaching the final page.

Knowing it was the final book of the series, I thought the author did a brilliant job in bringing all of the threads together into a satisfying conclusion – although I secretly hope she decides to write more in the series in the future.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Jojo Moyes, Dick Francis, Clare Chambers.

Avoid if you don’t like: Horses.

Ideal accompaniments: Strawberries with ice cream and a glass of Prosecco.

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Palomino Sky: Reviewed by Lost in a Book.

palomino-sky-cover-medium-webPalomino Sky continues the story of Laura and James who met in Midnight Sky. Now they are looking forward to a happy life together as Laura plans their wedding and tries to set up a new home design company. James wishes to start anew by selling the farm and the equestrian business and looking for another home, but Laura has reservations.

In this book, Laura’s sister, Maggie, gains strength as a character and in practical ways. She is faced with increased problems from her wayward daughter, Jess, but she takes constructive action to help Laura and James as their lives take a tragic turn. Towards the end of the book we lose touch with Laura, but this is because she needs to step back from events, feeling lost herself.

The bleak winter landscape of Snowdonia is beautifully described by the author and the awe inspiring sight of the gathering ponies is starkly contrasted by subsequent events.

“A miraculous sight came out of the mist; a long ribbon of ponies on the skyline cantering, leaping and whinnying to each other across the heather…….They were the colours of bracken and stone, rainclouds and earth.”

This is an emotional story which grips the reader from page one. I really cared about the characters and read late into the night to discover their fate. Lizanne Lloyd.


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How to Write a Book Review


Authors are always clamouring for reviews. Some readers pen them automatically after they’ve read a book and have a ready-formed opinion bursting to get out, but a huge percentage of readers don’t bother. Some are not quite sure what it’s all about. And many readers are less than confident about sharing an opinion of something they’ve read, for fear of looking silly or uninformed. So here’s a quick overview of how to go about it.

Who are book reviews for?

You might be forgiven for thinking that writing a book review is primarily to flatter the author, or thank the author for writing an enjoyable book.

Dog Reading book

Book reviews are for prospective readers; to inform those buyers who are browsing the Amazon bookstore, chatting on Goodreads or following on-line bloggers, to decide if they might enjoy the book as much as the reviewer did. 

What to include:

The best single rule to remember is this: Only write about the actual book!

You can include a very brief outline of the story, but remember the book description is already right there, so consider these points:

Was the story believable, did it keep you engaged right to the last page?

Did the structure of the plot work for you?

If it’s a mystery, was there one?

The characters. Did they seem real, multi-dimensional people?

The author’s writing style. How was it for you?

1c8d1d2938bb5e0a1a335b314e182f0eYour personal enjoyment of the book and whether you would recommend it to other readers is always an overriding strength in a positive book review. Maybe there was an experience which resonated with yourself?

Comparing the book or the author to other books and authors is useful. For example: If you like Jilly Cooper you’ll love this…

It’s not necessary to be literary and serious; a lot of the time a couple of sentences will suffice. On the other hand, if you like writing essay-type reviews these can be brilliant, but  do study book-bloggers and top Amazon reviewers to see how they go about it. (Well-written reviews often attract free ARC’s copies from authors: advance review copies).

What not to include:

Your possible relationship to the author, however vague.

If you need to reference the author, then use the surname only or call them the author or include their full name. Never use Christian names as it may compromise the validity of the review and some sites will remove them permanently.

looking-embarrassedImagine if you saw this review on the latest Dan Brown: Hello Dan love, fabulous book, Five stars!  I expect the vast majority of us would laugh, Dan Brown would most certainly cringe – but most importantly, would this sort of review help you form a decision to buy the book if you’d not read it?

The weather! I’m being tongue-in-cheek here but really, no honestly, there’s no need to mention the weather…

How long the book took to arrive in the post, or that it was damaged. This isn’t the fault of the author – stick to reviewing the book.

Likewise, problems with your Amazon account: It won’t download. This is not the author’s fault and should never form part of a book review.

Spoilers: giving away crucial parts of the plot and therefore spoiling it for other readers, e.g. I’m glad Susan was dead by chapter three.

Copying and pasting the entire book description – please dont.

And the worst of all: I haven’t read it yet… so one star. Why on earth do sites allow these ‘reviews’ to remain?

It’s easier than ever to leave a book review. You can write a single sentence or several hundred sentences. I do hope readers who’ve never left a book review will now consider penning their valuable thoughts… weather permitting.


Palomino Sky: Reviewed by Bookmuse Magazine

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What Bookmuse thought: 
palomino-sky-cover-medium-webI read Midnight Sky recently and was so engrossed in the characters and relationships, that I had to read Palomino Sky almost straightaway. This is a perfect sequel, carrying on the story with the same engrossing pace, but for new readers expertly delivering enough information so it works as well as a stand alone.
James and Laura’s relationship continues to flourish, even though they are dogged by outside forces, much from their own extended families. However, a wonderfully written scene up in the wilds of Snowdonia, during the annual round up of the wild ponies that roam the mountains, changes their lives forever. Wedding plans are put on hold, emotions are tested to the limit, and the reader is left on the edge of their seats wondering how things can possibly be rectified.
There’s more of the Welsh landscape, culture and setting in this book than in the first in the series, and for me it adds another level to the story. On a personal note for many years, on my way up to Anglesey, as soon as we exited the Conwy tunnel I would be straining my eyes to catch a glimpse of the wild ponies up on the hillsides. It meant I had reached Wales for me. There’s more horsey detail too, which I found deeply touching. This author knows a thing or two about horses and it shines through in her writing.

Bookmuse Award BadgeAnd somehow, for me, in this book
Laura has a real, believable, epiphany. She realises through her interaction with the horses, how to conquer fear, and how to mend broken hearts and broken lives, and also comes to understand much of what she really wants is something she has rebelled against for a long time. In fact there’s a lot of human emotion and understanding of human spirit cleverly concealed within this story. That takes not only writing talent but a lot of human empathy. The plot gallops along, adding twists along the way, but always in the security of excellent writing.
Gillian Hamer.

Midnight Sky: Reviewed by Lost in a Book.

Intense Emotions, Romance and Humour…

midnight-sky-cover-medium-webIf any book can convert me into a horse lover it will be this one. I am still frightened of horses but I now have an idea of the empathy experienced by some people with special horses. Midnight Sky has a magical quality but she is a damaged horse, desperately in need of a sensitive horse whisperer. James Morgan-Jones, with his sad green eyes, is the one person who can restore her confidence, even though he is incapable of recovering any sort of personal life since the tragic death of his wife Carys, two years previously.

Laura Brown is an efficient, organised interior designer living in Chester with partner Simon. They run Dragon Designs, improving run-down houses, but their life together is often upset by Simon’s demanding wife Alice and his children. Disturbed by a particularly distressing row, Laura sets out visit her older sister Maggie in North Wales. Maggie, married to Pete for many years, has a busy life looking after 10-year-old, Ellie and her challenging 17-year-old, Jess. Even Pete is beginning to cause her worries.

All these characters, and more, are stirred together at the riding stables where James gives Ellie lessons. Despite their initial antipathy, James and Laura are thrown together in a snowstorm but this does not help them to solve their sadness about Carys and Simon. Alongside the angst of personal drama there is also humour in this mature, contemporary story and it really is a page turner. A conclusion is reached but now I can’t wait to move onto the following book, Palomino Sky. Lizanne Lloyd.



Silver Rain: Reviewed by CNK Book Reviews

silver-rain-cover-medium-webMarshmallow or nougat? A marshmallow that’s soft and sweet, easy to swallow but immediately forgotten? Or nougat that’s something to get your teeth into and you want to enjoy for a bit longer?
Silver Rain is nougat.
What a delightful story. It boasts a cast of solid, credible characters. Few of them win any medals for being perfect, but it’s precisely their lack of stereotype that makes them so believable and thoroughly likeable.

What is also rather charming is the fact that this romance’s boy and girl are not that. Kate and Al are fifty-ish been-theres. So they’ve been through jobs, marriages, children—grand-children, even—divorces, deaths and learnt a thing or two along the way, perhaps with a little cynicism. Neither is looking for love, especially. Al’s in a sort of relationship, mainly physical, while Kate, after two husbands is rather sceptical and well, who’s going to want a middle-aged, twice-married woman, anyway?

Not only charming, this story is a well-woven tapestry of unhappy pasts, secrets, untimely revelations, strength of character, lust, fun, humour and good old-fashioned romance.

1268014It’s is a story you feel you want to jump into to get to know Kate and Al. It’s real, it’s earthy, it’s sensible. You want to help Kate with her problems. You want to shake the lovable, but slightly frustrating Al. You want to knock some sense into his brother. You want to offer help to Al’s kind-hearted, animal-loving sister-in-law. You just want to make them all your family and sort them out. And as far as the reader is concerned, there’s no predictability about Kate and Al nor any guarantees. Their outcome isn’t revealed until the very end…literally…but what an enjoyable ride to find it out. I absolutely loved it.

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Palomino Sky: Reviewed by Between the Lines.

palomino-sky-cover-medium-webPalomino Sky is the sequel to the wonderful Midnight Sky, where we first meet Laura and James and their siblings, and are drawn into their complicated family lives. James and Laura, both recovering from momentous and traumatic life events, are finding solace in each other, although they are not helped by Laura’s wilful and temperamental teenage niece causing no end of trouble.

This story opens with Laura and James engaged and about to be married. James is in the process of the selling the farmhouse, cottages and land as well as dissolving his equestrian business. He is hoping a move to somewhere new, without memories, will finally lay the ghost of his late wife to rest, allowing him to fully move on with his life and finally let go of Carys. For all his issues and his dark moodiness, James is just as appealing and irresistible as in the previous book.

Maggie, Laura’s sister, who now runs a B&B with her husband is trying to get used to having her eldest daughter, Jess, back home under less than encouraging circumstances. After Jess’s unhealthy crush on James had caused numerous difficulties, Laura helped her find a house share in Chester for which she stood guarantor. Not only is Jess close-mouthed about her reasons for returning home, she is affecting her parents’ business with her challenging behaviour and attitude. Jess is in a deeply troubling situation which eventually impacts on everyone, devastatingly so on James and by default, Laura.

This is a brilliant, if heart breaking, sequel. The characterisation, writing and dramatic descriptions of Snowdonia are excellent and evocative. There are several well paced threads running through which present unexpected twists and for some, a terrible tragedy to get to grips with and attempt to overcome.

As with all Jan Ruth’s books, the ones I’ve read anyway, the narrative is full of emotion and very moving. The characters, their relationships, the ups and downs and different aspects are finely drawn and realistic, the dialogue easy and believable. The protagonists, both male and female, are attractive and charismatic with underlying personal difficulties so that nothing is straightforward, which makes for a strong and compelling read.


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