Saturday, 31 December 2016

Review - Baby Dolly by Hollie Overton

Baby Doll by Hollie Overton was a book that had been on my radar for a very long time before I finally got round to picking it up. From the start of this review I can safely say that I found this particular book to be a brilliantly addictive and gripping read that I flew through in less than 24 hours. I very much regret leaving it sat on my Kindle neglected for so long!

In this book we meet Lily who we soon learn has been held captive for the past eight years of her life but who, thanks to her captor making a mistake, has the opportunity to break free. Having given birth during her time in captivity, Lily has a six year old daughter called Sky and now that they are free Lily’s priority is to keep her daughter safe as they return home to her family. Being reunited with her family, particularly her twin sister Abby, is far from easy but Lily is determined to ensure that her captor is appropriately punished for what he put her and her family through. This is the story of how a family adjusts to seeing someone who they all thought they would never see again. 

One thing that works really well for this book is the way in which the story is told from the viewpoint of several different characters, including Lily, her mother Eve, her sister Abby and her captor Rick. This really allows the reader to get to know each of the characters, get inside their heads and discover exactly what each of them were thinking. I have to say that Rick’s chapters really made me understand just how twisted he was and they evoked some pretty strong emotions in me - I felt incredibly angry towards him and sickened by the way he seemed to feel no remorse for what he had put Lily through. Meanwhile Lily was a character who surprised me as despite all that she had endured she was by far the strongest person in the book and one who I admired greatly. 

From beginning to end this is a wonderfully fast-paced novel that is packed full of many twists and turns throughout that were completely unpredictable and which I did not see coming. In recent times I’ve seen a lot of books about people being held captive in which you never get to read about what life is really like for them when they are released. In this respect Baby Doll is a book which really stands out from the crowd and I thought that it was really interesting to read about how Lily adjusted to her new-found freedom after such a long time without it. 

Whilst reading this book I discovered that it has been selected as a Richard and Judy Book Club read for Spring 2017 and honestly believe that it fully deserves to be on that list. Hollie Overton has written a mightily impressive debut novel in Baby Doll and I both predict and hope that this is just the first of many great novels that I will read by this author!

Friday, 23 December 2016

Review - Scared to Death by Rachel Amphlett

Prior to reading Scared to Death I’d never read anything be Rachel Amphlett before so had little idea what to expect. However, I can safely say that I think I discovered Rachel’s writing at just the right time as Scared to Death is the first book in a new series that features Detective Kay Hunter. There’s absolutely no doubt that this novel got the series off to an incredible start. 

Within Scared to Death, husband and wife, Tony and Yvonne Richards return home from holiday to what can only be described as a nightmare. During their absence their daughter has been kidnapped and they are told by her kidnappers that their daughter will only be released if they pay a ransom. After paying the ransom they are informed of where their daughter is but nothing could possibly prepare them for what they find when they get there for their daughter is no longer alive. In a state of shock they phone the police and Detective Seargeant Kay Hunter is assigned to work on the case along with her colleague Detective Constable Ian Barnes - they are responsible for figuring out exactly what went on.

One thing that has to be said about this book is that the situation it presents seems scarily realistic and as such I found that it was very easy to become involved in the story and I was desperate to find out what happened. What undoubtedly worked in this book's favour was Detective Seargeant Kay Hunter, a great lead character, who was strong and intelligent in the world of policing. Thanks to the way in which the author had presented information about her life not just at work but also at home, by the end of the novel I felt like I had really got to know her. 

The book wasted absolutely no time in getting started and threw the reader straight into the midst of the drama where the tension was palpable. The tension only continued to grow as the novel progressed and I can safely say that this book more than kept me on my toes, it was impossible to predict and I had absolutely no idea where it was going to take me next. This was far from one of your slow-moving detective novels as it was fast-paced from the beginning and, with relatively short chapters which I thought worked wonderfully for this book, I found myself flying through it incredibly quickly. It's the sort of book that I imagine would work extremely well as a successful television Drama. 

Scared to Death was one of those books that kept me awake way past my bedtime as once I had started it I was very reluctant to put it down. Based on how great I found this first book to be, I can honestly say that I predict great things for this series of books which I will most definitely be following very closely. This most certainly won’t be the first and last book by Rachel Amphlett that I read. 

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Review - The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse

Every time I hear about a new novel from Amanda Prowse I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Over the years I have had the pleasure of reading many of Amanda’s novels and she has most definitely become one of my favourite authors. The Food of Love is, in my opinion, one of her finest and most unforgettable novels that she has written to date and I’m delighted to be able to share my review of this masterpiece with you today. 

Within The Food of Love we are introduced to the Braithwaite family which consists of Freya and her husband Lockie and their two children, Charlotte and Lexi. After many years of marriage, both Freya and Lockie are still very much in love with one another and Freya believes that she has a very close relationship with her two daughters who at first glance both seem to be doing well. However, when Freya receives a telephone call from Lexi’s headmistress her whole world is turned upside down, things are not as perfect as they at first appeared to be. 

Before reading this book I made a point of not looking at any spoilers so can safely say that what was revealed came as a massive shock to me. As with all of her novels, Amanda has dealt with a very real issue, which in this case is anorexia, that I’m sure is one that affects so many people’s lives. The way she approached her subject matter throughout the novel was quite simply superb and I felt that she treated it with the utmost respect and it was clear that she had taken the time to research her subject matter in very great detail. I found it particularly interesting to read about the psychology behind eating disorders and appreciated the fact that we went on a journey with the family from diagnosis through various forms of treatment. 

There were a couple of other things I loved about this book, with the first being the way in which Amanda has created a family who you can’t help but fall in love with and feel connected to. I felt as if I was a part of their story and really felt their emotions whilst reading the book, from sadness to happiness to frustration and everything in between. I also really loved the way in which this book was written and thought that the way in which the chapters were structured was exceptionally clever. Whilst the first parts of each chapter dealt with the main part of the story, the second parts were a countdown to an event that was only revealed right at the end which certainly gripped me and had my thoughts racing in all directions wondering what was going to happen. 


The Food of Love was undoubtedly one of the most emotional and powerful novels that I have read in a very long time. I found it to be an irresistible read that has made me feel grateful to have the life that I do and can safely say that with each book she writes, Amanda’s writing seems to be going from strength to strength. This book was absolutely no exception to that and I didn't hesitate to award it five shimmering stars! All that's left for me to say is that I highly recommend this book and am already really looking forward to reading what Amanda writes next - hopefully I won’t have too long to wait!

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Review - Be My Baby by A. L. Michael

Be My Baby by A. L. Michael is the third and final instalment in The House on Camden Square series of books. As this is the first book by the author that I’ve ever read before, I’m ashamed to say that I missed out on the other books in this series. However, this did not stop me from enjoying By My Baby which turned out to be a wonderful read. 

In Be My Baby we meet Mollie who is a single mum to young Esme. Being passionate about healthy eating, Mollie is also the face behind Mollie Makes…and is surrounded by wonderfully supportive friends who are all keen to see her succeed. Although Mollie seems to have a lot going for her, she can’t help but reflect on her past life and wonder how different things would be if she had made different decisions. She doesn’t have to wonder for long when a familiar face from her past unexpectedly turns up on her front doorstep. 

Each and every single character that we met during Be My Baby were perfectly crafted and seemed incredibly real. What really stuck out for me and what was particularly lovely to read about was the mother and daughter relationship that existed betwen both Esme and Mollie. Whatever happened, you knew that they would always be there for and were extremely protective of each other. For an eleven-year-old girl I found Esme to be an incredibly intelligent character and one who I adored. She knew she didn’t fit in at school and recognised that what made her stand out from her peers was the lack of a father figure in her life. As I read of the powerful emotions she felt, my heart broke for her and I’m sure that there are many people who will be able to relate to Esme’s story. 

What I loved about the way in which this book was written is how it painted the bigger picture, in that not only did it tell the present day story but also gave us an insight into Mollie’s past with flashbacks appearing regularly and at just the right time without interrupting the overall flow of the novel. This is a book that I found so easy to love and although there were a few sad moments there were also many humerous moments which helped to make it a super entertaining and light-hearted read. A. L. Michael has successfully weaved several important topics into this book, dealing with them in a sensitive manner and has created a story which to me really highlights how important it is for a person’s wellbeing and happiness to let go of the past and live in the moment. 


Having enjoyed this book so much, one thing I really regret is not having discovered this series sooner than I did. Whilst I feel that the book undoubtedly works very well as a standalone novel I feel certain that I’ve missed out on what I’m sure were two brilliant stories. I’ll definitely be back to read more by A. L. Michael in the future. 

Monday, 5 December 2016

Review - A Year and a Day by Isabelle Broom

Having heard such wonderful things about Isabelle Broom’s beautiful writing I couldn’t wait to get started with A Year and a Day which more than lived up to my expectations. A Year and a Day turned out to be a truly stunning and captivating wintry read that I fell in love with from the very first page. In addition to transporting the reader to the beautiful city of Prague, it tells a beautiful story which together make it an unforgettable reading experience. 

A Year and a Day introduces us to five characters - Megan and Ollie, Hope and Charlie and Sophie who are all at different stages of their lives and who have all travelled to Prague for very different reasons. With Megan not having time for a relationship and instead wanting to focus on her career as a photographer and Ollie being a teacher who wants to research the city of Prague for his lessons, Megan and Ollie have travelled to Prague as nothing more than good friends. 
Meanwhile, as a new couple Charlie has whisked Hope away for what should be a romantic break, a time which is slightly spoiled by Hope’s recent fallout with her daughter and Charlie’s strange behaviour. Then there is Sophie who has travelled to Prague alone, where she met Robin when they were just teenagers travelling the world together, but it’s clear that something’s bothering her. Just how will Prague change the lives of these characters? 

Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character - either Megan, Hope and Sophie - something which is very easy to follow and something which works really well for the book. I feel like we really got to know each of the characters and their relationships and felt really connected to their stories. I loved the way in which the lives of the characters all crossed and the way in which they all became good friends in such a short space of time, looking out for eachother. 

Isabelle’s way of writing throughout A Year and a Day was truly captivating and once started I was well and truly hooked, I couldn’t get enough of it. Isabelle has created a really magical story that transported me to a place that I’ve heard so much about and would definitely love to visit one day. The city of Prague has been well and truly brought to life, with so much description of the sights and sounds that the city has to offer, and it’s clear that Isabelle has done her research very well. I could visualise everything that was taking place and felt that I learned a lot about Prague. 

Whilst this book isn’t heavily focused on Christmas but instead relationships and the beauty of a city during winter, it was a superb book and a real pleasure to read. Upon reaching the end of this book with a happy tear in my eye I knew that what I had read was special and is truly deserving of every five star review it receives. I’m really looking forward to reading Isabelle’s next book! 



Thursday, 1 December 2016

Review and Excerpt - Brides and Bouquets at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin


Anyone who follows my blog will know that I've already read a number of fabulous Christmas books this year. The latest festive story I had the pleasure of diving into was Brides and Bouquets at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin, which was simply divine. It most certainly kept my spirits raised and left me with a smile on my face. 

Within this book we are transported to Cedarwood Lodge in the run up to Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year for many. At the lodge which Clio hopes will become known as the ultimate and most desirable wedding venue, Clio is working hard to ensure that everything is perfect for the bridal expo that is going to take place there. Whilst things don't always go as planned leaving Clio feeling rather stressed and suffering from sleepless nights, she is supported by her best friend Amory along with many more unforgettable characters. Between them all will Clio's hopes and dreams become a reality or are they destined to fail?


One thing I can say is that Rebecca has amore than achieved her aim of creating characters with big hearts who care about relationships and who you can see yourself being friends with. Clio was undoubtedly one of these characters, who despite having more than her fair share of issues to deal with cared very deeply about and always looked after her friends. I wished she was real as I would definitely appreciate having a friend as wonderful as her in my life! 


Brides and Bouquets at Cedarwood Lodge is the second book in the Cedarwood Lodge series and I thought it was magical. Despite not having read the first book in the series I had absolutely no problem getting stuck into it, something which was undoubtedly thanks to Rebecca and her wonderful way of writing. From very early on I knew that I was reading a very special book, it was captivating and really set the scene for the reader describing everything in perfect detail which allowed me to create a perfect picture in my head of Cedarwood Lodge. 


This was the first of Rebecca's books that I've read and one thing I can guarantee is that it will not be the last. Upon finishing this book I was super excited to see that there is to be a third instalment of this series which I didn't hesitate to pre-order. Either devour Brides and Bouquets at Cedarwood Lodge in one go or savour it by reading it in multiple sittings but don't let it pass you by as the story is every bit as stunning as the gorgeous cover! 


Excerpt

Blustery winds lashed at the windows, rattling the shutters, and a draught raced up the staircase in an eerie woo. December had well and truly arrived, bringing with it icy winds and sheeting rain and the urge to snuggle by the fire. But there was no time for that with only a few days until our bridal expo, and Christmas to plan too.

“Tell me this place isn’t haunted, Clio,” a wide-eyed Amory said, clutching a loop of silver tinsel to her chest like a safety blanket.

“With the ghosts of boyfriends past?” I teased, warming my hands by the fire. It crackled and popped, a comforting soundtrack to frosty nights with us holed up in the lodge, working away in one room or another. While the main renovations had been done, there was always something else that needed some attention. From polishing paint-smudged finger-printed balustrades, to excavating the debris from a musty unused cupboard we’d missed the first time around.

She grinned. “You wish.”

“No I do not wish. Men complicate everything!”

The creaks and moans of the lodge didn’t bother me any more. I was used to the grand old dame making her presence felt in the whispers of wind, and shivers of brocade curtains. And if the ghosts made their presence felt then who was I to judge? I hadn’t mentioned it to anyone, but sometimes I awoke with a start, and had the feeling I wasn’t alone. Which was all sorts of crazy and I put it down to fatigue and erratic dream-filled sleep.

“Speaking of men,” Amory said falling into a plush wingback chair that we’d rescued from the basement and rejuvenated. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I was thinking back to a few weeks ago – the night I arrived actually – and I could be mistaken; did I interrupt you and Kai? I wasn’t paying attention at the time, but I’m sure you were in his arms like… lovers.” Her eyes twinkled mischievously and it was all I could do to keep my expression neutral.

Damn it! I had tried very hard to forget all about Kai and the spontaneous kiss under the moonlight. He had left before I was up the next morning, and I hadn’t heard a peep from him since. He’d probably forgotten all about me and Cedarwood by now, and thus there’d been no point confiding in Amory about my brief clinch with the bronzed, blond, surfer, yogi, Australian project manager – just to describe him briefly – who’d helped shape the lodge back into the beauty of its halcyon days. Without him here, the work days lost some of their shine, for me anyway.

“In his arms?” I said doubtfully, as if she was silly to suggest such a thing. “God, no. We had been discussing the… the cleanup. Probably why he hotfooted out so early the next day.” I lifted a shoulder as if it was nothing, but the mention of Kai and that kiss still had the ability to make me woozy. What could I say, it had been a long time since I’d been plagued with thoughts of a man in the romantic sense – it jolted me, those long dormant feelings.

Not fooled, Amory narrowed her eyes and said breezily, “Oh, my mistake, this postcard must be for someone else then…” With a playful smile she waved the postcard in front of me.

With a shriek I snatched it from her, and held it to my chest. “Did you read it?”

She faux gasped, “I would never do that!”

“You liar!” I laughed, and lobbed a cushion at her.

Even if Amory had read the postcard, which I had no doubt she had, I wanted to read it alone and savor it. I peeked at the festive picture on the front of a snow covered park with a line saying: wish you were here. Of course, I instantly read too much into it…

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Review - Single by Christmas by Rosa Temple

Single by Christmas was a book that proved to be an absolutely fabulous introduction to Rosa Temple’s writing. It really was a book that was everything it said on the cover and so much more - a funny, heartwarming, feel good Christmas romance - that certainly kept me entertained for hours.

Single by Christmas is told entirely from the perspective of Alex, a young lady who we first meet on Christmas Eve as she sits in the graveyard wondering whether her boyfriend Charlie will turn up to share Midnight Mass with her and her family. Left questioning why Alex is sat alone and why she is so uncertain about whether or not Charlie will arrive, we read about the past month of Alex’s life and her relationship with Charlie and soon discover what has led her to be in the position she now is. Has she managed to destroy her relationship beyond all repair in the space of a month? 

Although I enjoyed the book, I have to say that Alex was a character who really did infuriate me and I have to say that I did not understand her in the slightest. Whilst it’s clear from the way in which she was fiercely protective of her friends that she was a very caring person, it seemed to me that Alex spent a lot of her time in a daydream. She didn’t really pay a lot of attention to what was going on around her, hardly listened to anything that Charlie was saying and often had to cancel dates with Charlie because she had managed to double book herself. For his patience and understanding I think that Charlie deserves a medal, but despite Alex’s ways I could tell both how much Charlie meant to Alex and vice versa so desperately hoped that things would work out between the pair. 

I found Rosa’s writing to be a real treat from beginning to end as it was just so easy to become wrapped up in. Told in a chronological style that made it so very easy to follow, there were lots of hilarious moments throughout that I just had to laugh at. Rosa’s writing was infectious and addictive, something unforgettable that I couldn’t get enough of. 

Despite having Christmas in the title I wouldn’t say that it is the most festive book I’ve read so far this year as instead it tended to focus much more on relationships and the art of appreciating what you have in life. However I can safely say that this book is absolutely perfect for this time of year, a little gem to snuggle up with on the sofa that will definitely keep your spirits raised. Rosa’s certainly an author whose future books I’ll be looking out for. 



Saturday, 19 November 2016

Review - A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas by Darcie Boleyn

Earlier on this year I really enjoyed reading Something Old, Something New by Darcie Boleyn so when I was asked to take part in the blog tour for A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas I really couldn’t say no. It was a truly delightful book, a festive treat that was every bit as fabulous as I hoped it would be and that was by far my favourite of Darcie’s books to date. 

For many people Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but not for Lucie Quigley who hates it for all the unpleasant and difficult memories it triggers. Someone who has always been there for her from a very young age through the best and worst times is Dale, Lucie’s best friend in life. When Lucie is invited to a Christmas wedding in Manhattan by an old friend from university she asks Dale to accompany her as her plus one who accepts the invitation and is keen to support Lucie, hopeful that he can help her to enjoy the festive season. As the pair spend more time together in Manhattan it doesn’t take long for them to realise that they both have feelings for eachother, but will either of them be brave enough to act on them?

What made this book stand out so much was the real depth it had to it and the way it managed to make me feel many different emotions, from happiness to sadness as I both laughed and cried my way through it. The book was full of characters who felt very real, who I felt entirely connected to and really did care about a great deal. As the story progressed and more of Lucie’s heartbreaking past was revealed my admiration for her grew and I was entirely glad that she had someone as wonderful as Dale by her side. I desperately hoped that things would work out well for them both. 

Another aspect of this book that I really loved was Darcie’s beautiful writing style that never faltered once and was just as incredible as it was during Something Old, Something New. She wrote in such a way that there were many times when I felt as though I had been transported to Manhattan to be with the characters in the midst of the action with some wonderful and vivid descriptions. It’s made me want to pursue my dream of going to Manhattan even more than I already did previously and most certainly made for an unforgettable reading experience.

A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas was a book that I couldn’t get enough of, one that I could not put down as I desperately turned the pages, eager to find out how things would turn out between both Lucie and Dale. Written by an author whose books seem to get better and better and who has most definitely earned her place in my top ten favouritte authors list, this is a beautiful and magical tale that is complete with snow, carriage rides and much more. I’m really looking forward to reading whatever Darcie writes next! 

Monday, 14 November 2016

Revew - It's Not You, It's Them by Portia MacIntosh


Earlier on this year I had the pleasure of reading Truth or Date by Portia MacIntosh which I simply adored and was so excited to hear that I wouldn’t have to wait long to read It’s Not You, It’s Them. Given how much I enjoyed Truth or Date, it had a lot to live up to, which it more than did and I’d go so far as to say that I enjoyed this book even more than her previous book. If you’re looking for something that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face this winter then this book is definitely for you.

Roxie Pratt is a lifestyle writer who until she met her Prince Charming, Mark Wright, was all too used to kissing frogs. A year into their relationship Roxie is beyond happy when Mark gets down on one knee and asks her to marry him. Having accepted his proposal, Roxie knows that it’s time for her to meet his parents and so a few days before Christmas they make the journey from London to Yorkshire to meet them, something which Roxie’s sure will be absolutely fine. However, upon arriving in Yorkshire it’s clear that news of their son’s engagement was the last thing Mark’s family was expecting and they don’t do much to make Roxie feel very welcome. As Roxie looks forward to returning to London, she’s really not very happy to hear that they’ve been snowed in and won’t be heading home as soon as she’d like to.

I thought that Roxie and Mark were a seriously great couple whose relationship I really hoped would survive the tricky test of Mark’s family who were very quick to judge her. Roxie coped with this in a way which I thought was totally unexpected but at the same time totally brilliant. Portia has created truly wonderful, believable characters in Roxie, Mark and all those who surround them which really helps to make this book as outstanding as it is.
Portia has once again done a truly wonderful job with It’s Not You, It’s Them and has written something that I found to be thoroughly entertaining. The writing style that I grew to love so much whilst reading Truth or Date was most certainly present throughout the whole book and there were so many hilarious and truly unforgettable moments that had me in stitches from laughing so much. It was also a very engaging book, something that can very easily be read in one go or in shorter sittings.

This was the second book of Portia’s that I’ve read and I can guarantee that it will not be the last, as there is just so much to love about what she writes. Portia’s writing seems to get better and better and you can tell that Portia puts so much effort into her stories which results in books that are humorous, uplifting and guaranteed to keep you amused for hours. I’m already looking forward to reading what Portia writes next!­­­

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Review - Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes by Lindsey Paley

I’ve been meaning to make a start on the Camille Carter series of books that are written by Lindsey Paley for a lot longer than I care to remember. With Christmas fast approaching I finally picked up Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes, a book which most certainly got the series off to an amazing start. It’s definitely got me feeling incredibly excited to read the next books in the series, all of which sound and look absolutely fabulous with beautiful covers and divine titles. 

Camille Carter, known as Mille, lives in France and is someone who most definitely prefers sun to snow. After discovering that her French boyfriend has been cheating on her, she decides to return to England for Christmas to stay with her sister. However, things do not turn out as planned and due to a few unforeseen circumstances she ends up at a manor house in Aisford where the plan is for her to run a Christmas cookery course. Arriving in the middle of a massive snow storm, Millie is rather unimpressed and becomes even more so when she learns that the cookery course she was due to host has been cancelled and she has no way of leaving the house because of the bad weather. Just how will things turn out for her? 

The book got off to a wonderful start and wasted no time in throwing the reader straight into the drama-filled life of Millie Carter from the very first page. Millie was one of many characters who was introduced to us throughout this novel, but I thought she was a great character and one who is very memorable for all the right reasons. Throughout the book we saw so many different sides to Millie as we saw her funny side, her brave side and also her vulnerable side, particularly when she spoke of her parents. Undoubtedly she was someone who had a very real talent and passion for cooking, creating some absolutely mouth-watering and delicious food. 

For a relatively short book, Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes is a book that has such a lot going on throughout it. Given the genre of the book I thought it was going to be somewhat predictable but that was most certainly not the case, there were twists and turns galore which most certainly kept me on my toes and helped to keep this book as exciting as it was. I particularly loved the dialogue throughout this book, which kept a smile on my face, and the perfect setting of the Lake District.

Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes is a delightful little book that is just perfect for those cosy nights in, wrapped in a blanket with the fire blazing. Whilst this book kept me entertained for many evenings, thanks to the wonderfully engaging writing style it can definitely be read in one sitting if you prefer. A brilliant start to the Camille Carter series of books, which has most certainly helped to get me even more into the Christmas spirit. 

If you'd like the chance to win an ebook of Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes in addition to an actual Christmas cake, enter the giveaway below. Unfortunately, this is UK only giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Review - The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft

It may only be October but that's not stopped me from getting started with the Christmas books and what better way to start than with The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft. Not only was this my first Christmas book of the year but it was also the first book of Sue's books that I've ever read. Having seen so much praise about Sue's previous books, I had a feeling that The Christmas Promise would be very special and it absolutely was. 

In The Christmas Promise we meet Ava Blissingham who is a milliner, which for those that don't already know is a person who makes or sells hats. Ava's single, has lived with her best friend Izz for several years and has found it very hard to get excited about Christmas ever since her Gran passed away. One day, at a time when she's really not feeling too great she decides to accept Izz's invitation to a party with her colleagues. Here she meets the lovely Sam who she quite quickly develops feelings for, but with Sam's mother and her irritating, horrible ex who seems determined to make her life as miserable as possible will Ava be able to have a happy Christmas?

The characters in this book, particularly Ava who I wanted nothing but the best for were all perfect. Sue's created characters who you can really feel something for, whether a positive or negative emotion and Sue has simply done a brilliant job at portraying incredibly realistic and believable relationships which help to make this book so wonderful.  

Something I love about reading is being able to learn something new and thanks to the amount of detail and research that has gone into this novel I certainly did learn something whilst reading it. I particularly enjoyed learning about the life of a Milliner and finding out so much about the art of making a hat - there's really a lot more to it than you could possibly imagine. 

This is a story that completely astounded me, one that I was absolutely not expecting but that was so totally perfect in every possible way. Unlike many festive reads this book was not just about the sparkly tinsel and the pretty fairy lights but was a book that had many twists and turns a long the way. What's more it was most definitely a book that had a lot of depth and meaning to it and most definitely touched on some pretty heavy issues in an incredible manner. You might think that heavy issues would make for difficult reading but that is definitely not the case thanks to the wonderful way in which it was written, with Sue injecting appropriate humour and hope along the way. It all just seemed very real, inspirational and certainly unforgettable!

Just in case it isn't clear enough I LOVED this book so much and definitely promise that this most certainly won't be the last book of Sue's that I read. This is a book you don't want to miss and I highly recommend it! 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Review - Losing It by Emma Rathbone


After reading quite a few psychological thrillers in a row I thought that it was time for something a little bit different so decided to pick up Losing It by Emma Rathbone. Despite the fact that I'd seen a few mixed reviews about the book I approached it with a completely open mind and am pleased to say that I enjoyed it quite a lot more than I thought I would. I'd recommend it to anyone who may be looking for a relatively quick, light and entertaining read that also isn't too serious or dark in theme. 


In Losing It we meet Julia Greenfield who at the age of 26 is still a virgin despite having been to college and despite having had several boyfriends. With the majority of her friends no longer virgins, Julia seems absolutely obsessed with the idea of losing her virginity and sets out on a mission to do so. One summer Julia decides to leave her hometown behind and sets off to visit her Aunt Vivienne in North Carolina. Not long after she arrives there Julia is shocked to discover that at the age of 58 Vivienne is also still a virgin which only makes Julia even more determined to do something about her situation...

I've got to say that Julia was a character who I really struggled to understand, mainly due to her rather unhealthy obsession with losing her virginity. It almost seemed like it was all she ever thought about and that nothing else in her life was as important and I don't think this is a healthy way for anyone to live their life - something will either happen or it won't, what will be will be. That said I do feel that what Emma portrayed through Losing It was something that sadly most women would be able to relate to. This is the idea of wanting to be in a relationship and also constantly comparing themselves to others and thinking they're not good enough. 

I have to be honest and say that for me the second half of the novel was much stronger than the first. I particularly loved reading about Vivienne's background and seeing the relationship between Vivienne and her niece develop and grow. I really appreciated Emma's writing style throughout the novel and thought that it worked really well for the type of novel it was. It was very easy to get into and was also full of humour and just enough description to set the scene for the reader. 

This is a book which for me was quite different to anything I've ever read before and is one which I feel does stand out from the crowd with a main theme that is normally only ever briefly mentioned in literature today if at all. Although there were a few moments throughout the novel that did make me cringe and I didn't particularly gel with the lead character and her outlook on life, I feel that Emma's done a nice job with the book. I certainly wouldn't hesitate to read more by Emma in the future! 










Sunday, 9 October 2016

Cover reveal - Perfect Remains by Helen Fields

Thanks to the lovely publishers that are Avon, I have great pleasure in being able to share with you not just one but two covers that have been designed for Perfect Remains by Helen Fields. This is reported to be Avon's biggest debut fiction release to date which will be hitting the shelves in January 2017.


I personally think that both of these covers are absolutely wonderful - I genuinely can't decide which cover I prefer most. If you like what you've seen so far about this book, read on to find out more about exactly what it's all about...

Blurb

On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.

In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness.

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.

It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

Fans of
Angela Marson, Mark Billingham and M. J. Aldridge will be gripped by this chilling journey into the mind of a troubled killer.


Are you looking forward to reading this? I know I am!


Monday, 3 October 2016

Review - Strangers by Paul Finch

Throwing the reader straight into the action, Strangers by Paul Finch was a book that most definitely kept me awake until the early hours of the morning. It was a great crime/thriller novel that featured a strong police constable and a storyline that is a little different from the norm. Written in a way that would make it a perfect book to adapt for a TV series, this was the first book of Paul’s that I’ve ever read and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last. 

PC Lucy Clayburn’s career in the police force has been rocky to say the least, particularly when a convicted murderer managed to escape whilst he was handcuffed to her. Not only was she nearly killed in the process but the police operation fell flat on its face, all of which didn’t lead to her getting the promotion of her dreams. Now several years later a man has been killed and before long his death is linked to that of several others making it clear that they are looking for a serial killer. Keen to prove her worthiness and still dreaming of a promotion, Lucy throws herself into the investigation and goes undercover to discover things about a world that she was previously quite unfamiliar with. 

Two things made this book really stand out for me with these being the setting and Paul’s writing style. The book is set in the darker side of Manchester where gangs and crime are an all too familiar sight. Not only did this open my eyes to a way of living which I’m sure that sadly is not just purely fictional but it also added enormously to the overall atmosphere of this novel. It was dark, gritty, tense and dramatic from beginning to end in a way that most certainly got the old adrenaline racing. It’s quite clear that Paul knows exactly what he’s doing and his knowledge of the police force really shone through, with abbreviations thrown in along the way that I previously hadn’t heard of. 

I have to say that at the start of the novel, Lucy was a character who I couldn’t quite get my head around and I wasn’t sure whether I’d end up liking her or not. Whilst it was true that she started off as a bit negative and constantly dwelling on what had previously gone wrong for her by the end of the novel she had completely changed and I could see the person she really was. Yes she sometimes acted recklessly but she always looked after others and always stayed true to herself and stood up for what she believed in which I feel is something to be admired. 

I’m immensely happy to have just discovered Paul Finch’s writing at this time particularly as it seems that this is the first novel he’s written featuring Lucy. I for one would not only like to read more written by Paul but more written about Lucy and am hopeful that I will soon be able to. The only thing left for me to say is that I now totally understand why there has been so much excited chatter and anticipation about this book, his latest release to date. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Review - The Deviants by C J Skuse


It's time for a pretty major confession - despite having heard a lot about C. J. Skuse her latest release, The Deviants, is the first book of hers that I've ever read. From the moment I first received an email about this book I became incredibly excited and I instantly knew it would be one that I had to read. I have to say that I'm so very glad that I did because it was beyond fantastic and completely blew me away. I'd actually go so far as to say that if I could give this book more than five stars on the likes of Goodreads and Amazon that I would do so in an instant. To anyone who hasn't yet read this book I highly recommend you do as I can guarantee that you won't regret it. 

Max, Corey, Fallon, Zane and Ella were once best friends and used to have many adventures together until one day their friend, Jessica, is killed in a horrific accident. Now several years late the group are not only back together again but also completely unable to forget the past. What they want to know is what really happened to Jessica all those years ago and they also want revenge. So determined to discover the truth what at first isn't apparent is that one member of the group knows a lot more about Jessica's death than they at first let on. But as we all know, secrets often do not remain a secret for very long and someone is about to get found out. 

From the very first page, this book is full of tension and suspense and this, in addition to a desperate need to discover what happened meant that I was firmly glued to the screen of my Kindle. In fact so compelling and gripping was this book that I read it in a matter of hours in just one sitting. Not only was the book so good in this respect but I found that the place in which this book was set was simply perfect. It was a place that really came alive in my imagination, somewhere I could easily picture and a place where everyone seems to know eachother's business. 

The characters that C. J. Skuse presents to us throughout are all absolutely wonderful and it's clear to see that she's spent a long time thinking about them. This really does pay off as all of the characters feel incredibly real meaning that I felt very able to relate to them. What is more, the issues that came up throughout the novel seemed very realistic as the sorts of issues that young people face in society today. From bullying to teenage pregnancy to many more the author deals with each one in an incredible manner and there were many occasions when I found myself sitting there with a tear in my eye. It was most certainly powerful and moving stuff! 

I could find absolutely nothing wrong with this book, one that I am sure I will remember for a long time to come and one that I will most certainly read again. At the moment a lot of people are talking about this book on social media and having read it I can completely understand why. It thoroughly deserves all of the attention and glowing praise that it receives. Although this is advertised as being a YA book i think that it would appeal to a much wider audience. I now cannot wait to read more by C. J. Skuse in the future but in the meantime must catch up on her previous books. 

Monday, 26 September 2016

Review - Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra

I can quite honestly say that I did not expect Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra to be as outstanding as it actually was. At a time when there are so many incredible psychological thrillers hitting the shelves it had a lot to live up to and it most certainly did. Although it proved to be slightly disturbing on more than one occasion I was completely hooked on this book from the second I picked it up and oh did I struggle to put it down. It was gripping, compelling and addictive which for me is what makes a book of this genre so good. 

In Only Daughter the book opens with an almighty bang as we meet a hungry and homeless girl who is on the run from a troublesome past and has just been caught shoplifting food. Aware that she’s about to get into a lot of trouble with the police she’s also aware that she looks very much like Rebecca Winter, a girl who mysteriously disappeared several years ago. Deciding to adopt Rebecca’s identity it’s not long before she’s living in the house where Rebecca grew up as a child. Our girl thinks she’s safe, that she’s escaped the law but it doesn’t take long for her to start questioning what really happened to Rebecca. In trying to solve the mystery for herself, will she survive? 

This book is told from the perspective of the fake Rebecca in the present day whose real name we never learn and the real Rebecca in the past. I thoroughly enjoyed this particular element of the book and thought that the transitions between the two narratives were executed perfectly. They always seemed to happen at exactly the right moment with each becoming more dramatic and action-packed as the book progressed. We didn’t get to know each of the girls too much but what we was told was more than enough particularly for me when all I really cared about was discovering what happened. 

Only Daughter has been written in a way that means you genuinely don’t know which way it’s going to go next, there were just so many surprises along the way. It was very fast-paced which I thought really worked in this book’s favour and probably helped to make it so gripping. As I said at the start of this review it was quite disturbing, particularly towards the end when I found one of the scenes quite hard to read with a bit too much vivid description. 

I think the timing of the release of this book so close to Halloween when people may be looking for something a bit darker to read is exceptional. This is Anna Snoekstra’s debut novel and from reading this book I think she’s an author to look out for, one who we can expect to see many more psychological thrillers from in the future. At least that’s what I’m hoping as I would most certainly like to read more written by her. 

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Cover Reveal - If Ever I Fall by S D Robertson

In February this year, S D Robertson published a truly phenomenal book in Time to Say Goodbye that received nothing but praise. Now he's back with a brand new novel called If Ever I Fall that is due to hit the shelves on 9th February 2017 and today I'm absolutely delighted to be able to reveal to you the absolutely stunning cover that I simply adore. The blurb sounds incredible too as I'm sure you'll agree...

Blurb

Is holding on harder than letting go?

Dan’s life has fallen apart at the seams. He’s lost his house, his job, and now he’s going to lose his family too. All he’s ever wanted is to keep them together, but is everything beyond repair?

Maria is drowning in grief. She spends her days writing letters that will never be answered. Nights are spent trying to hold terrible memories at bay, to escape the pain that threatens to engulf her.

Jack wakes up confused and alone. He doesn’t know who he is, how he got there, or why he finds himself on a deserted clifftop, but will piecing together the past leave him a broken man?

In the face of real tragedy, can these three people find a way to reconcile their past with a new future? And is love enough to carry them through?


I think we're going to need the tissues for this one but I personally cannot wait to read it! 





Thursday, 22 September 2016

Cover reveal - April Showers and Wedding Flowers by Lindsey Paley

Today I'm super excited to be able to share with you all the cover for April Showers and Wedding Flowers by Lindsey Paley. Isn't it beautiful? As I hope you'll agree from the description, it sounds like a fabulous book and I for one can't wait to read it!

If this sounds like a book you'd enjoy, it can be purchased via Amazon and don't forget to connect with Lindsey on both Facebook and Twitter.

Blurb

The wedding cake is baked, the champagne is on ice and the bridesmaid dress is a perfect fit. Everything is read for Hannah and Archie's wedding at the picture-perfect church in the sleepy village of Aisford in the Lake District.

But if Camille Carter, 'Queen of Culinary Chaos', thought everything would go according to plan for a change, then she was wrong. When tragedy strikes at the Stag Party weekend there's a risk the wedding will have to be called off.

Will Millie team up once again with irritating-but-hunky Fergus McKenzie to untangle the mystery and ensure the wedding of the year goes ahead without a hitch? Or should she leave well alone and return to her little Parisian patisserie to concentrate on her fledgling Afternoon Tea business?

April Showers and Wedding Flowers is sure to delight fans of the Camille Carter series.







Sunday, 18 September 2016

Review - Time after Time by Hannah McKinnon

Time after Time by Hannah McKinnon is a book that I’ve been desperate to read ever since the wonderful publishers held their big cover reveal. Now I thought the cover was a real beauty but I can honestly say that it is nothing compared to how stunning the story on the pages is. I was lucky enough to be able to spend one whole, uninterrupted Sunday snuggled up with this book and it really was a pleasure. This is a book that I’ll never forget, a book so beautiful I’ll most certainly cherish my copy of it for a long time to come. 

Hayley Cooper has what some people could only dream of, a job as a solicitor at a law firm, a husband called Rick and two adorable children. However, despite all of this she’s not at all happy - her father has had a stroke, she hardly ever sees her family due to the long hours she works and she’s spending large amounts of her time arguing with her husband. After one bad argument too many she storms out of the house one evening to her best friend Ellen’s house where after drinking far too many glasses of wine, Hayley starts to wonder “what if?”. This sets her off on a journey through time where she recalls past boyfriends - Chris, Ian, Matthew and Sean - to catch a glimpse of what her life could’ve been like if she had married one of them instead of Rick. Will she realise that marrying Rick was the best decision she ever made?

Within Time after Time there are three different time periods presented to us. First off there is reality where Hayley is married to Rick, then there is the past where we learn about how Hayley ended up in a relationship with each man and lastly there is then a make-believe reality where Hayley sees how different life would’ve been had she stayed with each individual man. This could quite easily have become quite confusing, and although I have to admit that it did take me a little while to get into the swing of things, I think that the way in which this novel was told worked perfectly and it made for a very entertaining read. I loved the way in which every different scenario led not just to Hayley’s life being very different, but also the lives of those around her. 

There was something incredibly special about Hannah McKinnon’s writing style that made this novel really stand out to me. It flowed so beautifully from beginning to end and I have to say that the pacing of the book was absolutely spot on, it was never too fast or too slow and always provided just the right amount of detail. I also loved the way that the book was so well balanced in that an equal amount of time was spent in describing Hayley’s different relationships. We never got caught up with one relationship for too long meaning that it was always engaging and never got boring. 

Time after Time is a book with a very interesting premise that I think many readers would very easily be able to relate to, the idea of making decisions and wondering how life might have turned out had a different decision have been made. What this novel really demonstrates throughout is the importance of living in the moment, not having regrets and appreciating what you have in life. 

I loved Time after Time so very much, a book that was so incredibly heartwarming and inspirational. I’ve never read a book quite like Time after Time and highly recommend it to anyone looking for something that is guaranteed to leave them with a smile on their face. Hannah McKinnon is definitely an author whose future books I’ll be looking out for!