Friday, 6 October 2017

Review - The Snow Globe by Judith Kinghorn

As someone who doesn’t normally read much historical fiction, The Snow Globe by Judith Kinghorn was definitely a little bit out of my comfort zone. However I can honestly say that I am so incredibly glad that I picked this book up, because it was truly wonderful. With what is a very stunning cover, The Snow Globe was the first of Judith’s books that I have ever read before and I thought that it provided a fabulous introduction to her writing. 

Within the book we meet Daisy whose most treasured possession is a snow globe which she was given by her beloved father when she was just five years old. Featuring a perfect replica of their family home within it, Daisy proudly displays it every Christmas. As we join Daisy and her family in the run up to Christmas 1926, she soon discovers that her dear father is not as perfect as he’s always seemed. As huge secrets are revealed, Daisy’s life is thrown into turmoil and the question is just how will it all turn out for her?

One thing that became apparent whilst reading The Snow Globe is how talented Judith is at creating characters. Each character that we met throughout the book, really came alive in my imagination and seemed incredibly realistic. Whilst I didn’t relate to all of them, I was still interested in their stories and I thought that Daisy was a wonderful lead character. Despite the difficulties she was experiencing, Daisy was a character who was very easy to like thanks to her strength and determination. 

With writing that flows so nicely, Judith Kinghorn has created a book that is an absolute dream to read despite a few occasions when I found myself a bit lost as to who all the characters were and where they all fitted in. One thing I particularly loved about this novel was the way in which the title of the book was so very appropriate and really summed up the story as a whole - Daisy’s life and everything she thought she knew had been shaken up like a snow globe leaving her to watch it all land and see what the repurcussions would be. Judith’s writing was incredibly engaging and kept me interested from beginning to end. 


The Snow Globe is a book which I feel would definitely appeal to fans of shows such as Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs. It was such a pleasure to read this novel, to try and love something that was so very different to what I would normally read. Having finished The Snow Globe feeling nothing but entirely satisfied, I’m really looking forward to discovering more of Judith’s novels. 

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Review - The Blind by A F Brady

The Blind is the first book written by A F Brady that I immediately wanted to read as soon as I first heard about it. With the author’s background being in counselling/psychotherapy The Blind was a novel that was truly psychological in every sense of the word. This was a book that had me gripped from beginning to end as I was so desperate to find out just what would happen next. 

Sam James is a psychologist at the Typhlos Psychiatric Centre in Manhattan who, despite appearing calm and professional to her clients, has a personal life that is in turmoil. As a barely functioning alcoholic in an unhealthy relationship who appears unable to save herself, she is passionate and dedicated to helping others. Soon after the novel begins Sam begins working with Richard who comes to Typhlos and appears to be a very challenging patient who says very little. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Sam is determined to discover just what is going on with him, but to do so she’ll have to face her own demons…

Although I couldn’t relate to much of what Sam had experienced in her life, I liked her as a character and admired her for her dedication to her job and supporting patients. Given their role, some might think that the life of a counsellor away from work is nothing but perfect, but Sam demonstrated how this may not always be the case - counsellor’s are human and as such face difficulties of their own too. I loved getting to know Sam and thought that A F Brady had done fantastic job with her character. 

As a book that provides a very real insight into mental illness and the therapies that patients may have in order to treat these, A F Brady’s own experience of working in this field really shines through and as such I thought that The Blind was a fascinating novel. Given the many additional themes that this book deals with alongside mental health, including domestic abuse and alcoholism, one thing that must be said is that this book does not always make for easy reading but I thought that A F Brady handled the subject matter perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s writing style and thought that it was engaging and compelling throughout. 

Whilst there was no big or surprising reveal within The Blind, this was a book that carried an important message about learning to cope, heal and move forwards in life. I enjoyed it and hope to read many more great things by A F Brady in the future. 

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Review - The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

Everyone has an author whose books they always look forward to and for me Amanda Prowse is one of them. Having been reading Amanda’s novels for several years, I’ve never read a book of hers that I haven’t enjoyed and so I was very excited to receive a copy of her latest release, The Art of Hiding. As I hoped would be the case, I knew from the very first pages that I wasn’t going to be disappointed - it was a fabulous book and there was just so much to love about it. 

Within this particular book we meet Nina McCarrick who seems to have both a perfect life and perfect family with her successful husband, Finn, and their sons Connor and Declan who are both enrolled at a posh school. She couldn’t imagine life being any different until she receives a call that changes everything - there has been a terrible car accident and Finn has died. As Nina starts to come to terms with life without Finn, it quickly becomes apparent that things were not as perfect as they appeared. Finn has left behind a mountain of debt leaving Nina with no choice but to take her boys and return to her hometown where she turns to her estranged sister Tiggy for help. 

One thing that Amanda seems to excel at is taking a seemingly normal family before turning their world upside down by revealing hidden truths and then fixing things again. In the process characters are created who you can’t help but feel connected to and whose stories you can’t help but feel invested in. This was certainly the case with Nina who seemed incredibly believable and real, someone who demonstrated a huge amount of strength and determination. Nina’s story is one that really highlights what’s important in life, what matters and what really doesn’t. 

Throughout the entirety of The Art of Hiding, Amanda’s signature writing style that I have grown to love so much over the years really shone through. She has once again taken several challenging themes within this book and dealt with them in an expert manner - so beautifully and sensitively. Through her writing, Amanda really shows how it is absolutely possible to overcome any situation that life throws at you in order to find happiness and peace once again. 

An emotional but ultimately uplifting and inspiring story, The Art of Hiding is yet another of Amanda’s books that will stay with me for a long time yet to come. Every time I think Amanda’s writing can’t get any better, she publishes something that proves it absolutely can. I adored the Art of Hiding and am thoroughly looking forward to seeing what Amanda writes next. 

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Review - The Watcher by Ross Armstrong

After a slightly unplanned but I think much needed hiatus in blogging over the last few weeks, I couldn’t think of a better way to get back into it again than with a review for The Watcher by Ross Armstrong. Anyone who has been following my blog for a while will know that I love getting stuck into a good psychological thriller and The Watcher was most certainly one of those books. With a clever and unique plot this was a book that really stood out from other books of its genre and I thought it was a fantastic debut. 

Within The Watcher we are introduced to Lily Gullick who lives with her husband Aiden in a new build flat directly opposite an estate that is due to be demolished. Lily is an avid birdwatcher who was taught by her dad from a young age to record and identify the different species of birds that she spots. One day, whilst birdwatching and gazing through her binoculars, she sees something suspicious and not long after hears that her neighbour Jean has been found dead. Determined to discover the truth about her neighbour’s death, Lily involves herself in the investigation often putting herself in serious danger.

The Watcher is a book that is told entirely from the perspective of Lily and this is something that I think works very well. Although an unreliable narrator, the reasons for which become clearer as the novel progresses I have to say that I found Lily to be a fascinating character. She was someone who I felt we really got to know thanks to the fabulous introduction Ross gave us to both Lily and her neighbourhood towards the start of the novel. Despite sometimes making some questionable decisions, Lily was a character who I really did find myself rooting for and loving by the end. 

Although it took me a little while to get into the book and adapt to the way in which the book was written, I have to say that I think that Ross has done a fantastic job of writing a fast-paced, intriguing and highly memorable thriller. The Watcher is a book that contains twist after twist that leaves the reader never knowing which direction it was next going to go. In fact one thing I particularly enjoyed about this novel was the satisfying ending, the way in which it all came together and ended up making sense.

Overall I have to say that everything combined made The Watcher a hugely compelling read and one that had me well and truly hooked. As I was reading the book there were many times that I found myself forgetting that this was just a debut novel, a sign of how accomplished it was. I’d definitely be interested in reading more by Ross in the future. 

Friday, 25 August 2017

Extract - Escape to Willow Cottage by Bella Osborne

Today I have an extract for you from a truly delightful book as part of the blog tour for Escape to Willow Cottage by Bella Osborne. My full review of this book will be coming very soon, but be assured that I absolutely loved it and hope that you will enjoy this extract as much as I enjoyed the entire book!

Extract


‘So why didn’t you say something right then, at that moment?’ asked Beth, the irritation obvious in her tone as she tried to balance the phone between her ear and shoulder. ‘That was the perfect opportunity to raise the whole marriage question.’

Carly was pulling faces on the other end of the line. ‘I know, but then the bill arrived and the moment was gone and you can’t go back to a conversation later on, it doesn’t work.’ She’d been worrying about it all night and, thanks to fitful sleep, she felt wretched.

‘Yes, you can. How about saying, “I’ve been thinking about what you said in the restaurant and … ” then you start talking about it again.’

‘Oh, that is rather clever,’ said Carly, ‘but still it was yesterday, he might not remember what he said.’

‘Then remind him. Jeez, you do make things hard sometimes, Carls.’ Beth was simultaneously unpacking what she’d bought from the DIY store.

Carly pondered her mixed emotions. ‘The thing is, I’m kippered either way because if I say I want to get married and he says he doesn’t, then …’

‘Then at least you’ll know … drop it, drop it now!’

‘What?’ Carly was shocked by Beth’s scolding.

‘Not you, sorry, Doris. Drop the mop, Doris. Good dog. Sorry, I’m dog-sitting.’

‘Dog-sitting? I didn’t know you even liked dogs,’ said Carly.

‘I’m not sure I do. It’s a long story. Anyway, carry on.’

‘Well, it’s even worse if Fergus says he does want to get married because he might just be saying it because I’ve said it and then he’ll only be asking me because I prompted him to and, worse still, he might opt for the “shall we get married then?” type of proposal which isn’t a proposal at all.’ Carly puffed out her cheeks. It was a conundrum and it weighed heavy on her.

‘Then I think you have to explain to him about your dream proposal.’

‘How do I do that without looking slightly mad and obsessive?’ She knew she wouldn’t be able to discuss it with Fergus without gushing or getting overexcited; in fact, it was very likely she might even cry. And she couldn’t show him her scrapbook of all the articles she’d collected over the years, he’d think she was proper crackers then. She was even starting to wonder it herself.

‘I’m afraid I don’t know,’ admitted Beth after a short pause. ‘Sorry, got to go. Doris has found the laundry bin. Bye, Carls … Drop my pants! Doris, pants! Drop them now!’

The phone went click before Carly could say bye. She cradled the phone in her hands. She was back in that uncertain space where she wasn’t sure where their relationship was going next and she had no idea what to do. So she’d just take a deep breath, carry on and keep hoping that everyone would be okay.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Review - Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove by Sarah Bennett

Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove is the second book in a series written by Sarah Bennett. Having not read anything by the author previously, I had very little idea what to expect but have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised. It really was such a beautiful little gem of a novel that really cheered me up and put a smile on my face on a dull and overcast summer’s day in England!

In Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove, Kiki Jackson’s marriage is falling to pieces and being so desperate to escape there’s only one place for her to go - her sister’s guesthouse in Butterfly Cove.  With her sister busy planning her wedding, Kiki knows that turning up on her doorstep along with her two children isn’t ideal. But Kiki needn’t have worried as soon after arriving at Butterfly Cove she meets the gorgeous Aaron who offers her a place to stay. As Kiki gets to know Aaron and he discovers more about her, is there a chance that they might become more than just friends?

I absolutely loved reading about the lives of and getting to know all of the characters that were present throughout Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove. Kiki in particular, who this story focused on the most, was such a wonderful character who I felt so much for after all she had experienced during what was clearly an awful marriage. Despite it all she was an amazing mother to her children and I loved the fact that she was surrounded and supported by so many other incredible characters. I particularly enjoyed reading of her relationship with Aaron, one which didn’t feel at all false but real and believable. 

With Sarah’s brilliant way of telling a story and providing the reader with ample information, Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove is definitely a book that can be read as a standalone novel. However, I really wish I’d had the opportunity to read the first book in the series before as I feel certain that I must have missed out on a wonderful story that would have allowed me to appreciate Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove even more than I already did. 

As a book that packs so much into its pages, the one thing that really struck me was the important message that Sarah was conveying to her reader - the idea of never giving up, of making the most of each opporunity that life throws your way. Having enjoyed this book so much there’s no doubt in my mind that I will be picking up the third book in this series - Christmas in Butterfly Cove - when it is released later this year. I’m sure we’ll be in for another treat! 

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Review - Cocktails and Dreams by A. L. Michael

Having loved Be My Baby, which was the third and final book in The House on Camden Square series, I couldn’t wait to start reading A. L. Michael’s latest release called Cocktails and Dreams. One thing I can definitely say from the start of this review is that this book was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. It more than lived up to my expectations and is my favourite book of the author’s so far to date. 

Savvy is the daughter of a rockstar who spent the first seven years of her life on the road with her mother, Persephone, before she was abandoned and sent to live with her aunt. Ever since then Savvy has craved a normal life but fast forward several years and life still isn’t exactly going to plan  as her longterm boyfriend sadly dumps her. Slowly but surely, with the encouragement of some very supportive friends we see Savvy start to make some much needed changes in her life, catching the eye of Milo the bartender in the process. Will this be a fresh start for Savvy and will things finally start to go right for her? 

From the very start of the book, Savvy seemed like an incredibly down to earth character and one who I really did find myself rooting for. With Savvy being such a likeable character who it was so easy to relate to, it was an absolute pleasure to be with her as she went on her journey of self discovery and learned to believe more in both herself and her dreams. In addition to creating a wonderful lead character in Savvy, A. L. Michael has managed to surround her with a whole cast of other fabulous characters and I loved reading about the individual relationships that Savvy had with each and every one of them. 

Just as I thought and hoped it would be, A. L. Michael’s fabulous writing style that I adored during Be My Baby was present throughout the entirety of Cocktails and Dreams. As a book that contained many hilarious and heartwarming moments, there was very little not to like about it, and I loved the perfect level of detail and description that had gone into making this book as wonderful as it was.

Cocktails and Dreams is the first book in a new series and all I can say is that I’m so glad that I discovered it when I did. Although the next books in the series won’t be with us until next year, I’m already really looking forward to them and being reunited with A. L. Michael’s beautiful writing once again. If you haven’t yet read anything by A. L. Michael why not make Cocktails and Dreams the book you start with? You certainly won’t regret it! 

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Review and Extract - Give Me the Child by Mel McGrath

Just when you think psychological thriller fiction can’t get any better, one comes along that proves it definitely can. That was most certainly the case with Give Me the Child by Mel McGrath which surpassed all my expectations. Once I had started this book, I found that I was completely unable to put it down and raced through it in just a few hours. I absolutely loved it! 

Despite being happily married to Tom and with one beautiful daughter named Freya, the one thing Cat Lupo desperately wants in life is another child. However, after her first pregnancy left her suffering from severe psychosis she is wary about falling pregnant again. One night, the peace of an otherwise quiet house is disturbed by the doorbell ringing and they are shocked to find the police on their doorstep with a young child, Ruby. Although Tom doesn’t at first know it, Ruby is his daughter and following the death of her mother she is now his responsibility. As both Cat and Tom come to terms with this news and decide to take Ruby into their house her behaviour concerns Cat who is determined to discover the truth about the girl. 

Cat was a wonderful character who thanks to Mel taking the time to introduce and explain her thoughts and feelings to us became very real. As Cat found herself under a huge amount of pressure within Give Me the Child and we learnt of her previous mental health issues, we saw how everyone was very quick to judge her and presume that she would relapse again. As other characters in the book questioned her reliability which in turn leads us to question whether we could really trust what she says, Cat’s story is one that is utterly compelling. 

Mel has told an incredible story within Give Me the Child that includes a huge number of unexpected twists and turns to keep readers on their toes. Whilst reading the book I had absolutely no idea which direction the book was going to take and, with each chapter ending in a cliffhanger, I found myself desperately turning out the pages to find out just what would happen next. As a book that deals with a number of challenging themes, with mental health being just one of them, I feel that Mel should be commended for how she dealt with them in a very sensitive manner. 

As a book that has a unique premise and one in which the author has clearly done her research, I predict great things for this spectacular book. A powerful story that will keep you guessing for hours, this book is everything that a good psychological thriller should be. I’d certainly be interested in reading more by this author in the future. 



Monday, 31 July 2017

Review - The Darkness Within by Lisa Stone

Prior to reading this book the only thing I knew was that it was written by Cathy Glass under the name of Lisa Stone. This book, The Darkness Within, is the author’s first psychological thriller and having enjoyed her previous books i just knew it was something I had to read. Exploring a premise that I found to be quite fascinating, this book had me well and truly hooked from the very first page and really got me thinking. I’m so glad I picked it up! 

The book begins by briefly introducing us to Rosie’s relationship with Shane, an abusive and horrible man. It then switches focus and we meet Reverend Wilson, his wife Elizabeth and their son Jacob. Despite his young age, Jacob is critically ill and in desperate need of a livesaving heart transplant so they are all overjoyed to hear that a donor has been found. However their happiness doesn’t last long as after the transplant Jacob’s behaviour and personality both take a nasty turn. He becomes unrecognisable, so different from the kind, caring boy he once was. What they don’t realise at first is that the heart came from Shane, who was killed in a horrific car accident whilst drunk. Why has Jacob’s personality changed? Did he inherit the personality as well as the heart of his donor? 

As the perpetrators of domestic violence, Shane and Jacob were two characters who I despised and I couldn’t wait for them to get their comeuppance. As such whilst I know that a parent’s job is to protect their children I really couldn’t understand the behaviour of Jacob’s parents. Despite all the evidence they had before them by acting in the way that they did, they effectively condoned Jacob’s behaviour when instead it should have been punished from the start. For all she was going through, Rosie was one of the only character who I really cared for and I hugely admired her for the bravery and strength that she showed. 

From having read a few of the author’s previous books as Cathy Glass, one thing I knew was that she was somewhat of an expert when it comes to dealing with difficult themes. The Darkness Within was no exception to this, it certainly didn’t make for easy reading and did contain many a scene that some readers may find distressing. Despite a few moments that I struggled with myself, I found that I was unable to put this book down - it was fast-paced and full of tension from the very fisrt page although I have to say I’m still very dubious about the idea that a donor’s personality can be passed on to the recipient through a transplant. 

With some very real but not necessarily likeable characters and a storyline that I became incredible wrapped up in, I really feel that Lisa has done an incredible job with The Darkness Within. A powerful and emotive read, for her first psychological thriller it was certainly impressive and I hope that there will be plenty more by her in the future. 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Review - Before You Were Mine by Em Muslin

Before You Were Mine by Em Muslin was one of those books that turned out to be every bit as beautiful on the inside as the gorgeous cover was on the outside. What can only be described as a truly sensational debut novel, it’s been a while since I’ve read a book that was quite as powerful and emotional as this one. There’s no doubt in my mind that the story told within Before You Were Mine is one that will stay with me for a long time yet to come. 

At the young age of fourteen Eli gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who upon being born was quickly taken from Eli’s arms and put up for adoption with Eli getting little say in the matter. With a family that’s ashamed of her and a community that doesn’t try to hide its disappointment, Eli lives a lonely existence until she marries Tommy at the age of seventeen. As thirty years go by in which Eli tries desperately hard to rebuild her life and enjoy her marriage to Tommy, she is never quite able to forget about her daughter. So when, one day, she bumps into a woman who she’s certain is her daughter in a grocery store, Eli can’t wait to tell Tommy all about it but he’s not convinced. As things then start to spiral out of control, just what will the outcome be? 

Having got through so much on her own at such a young age, one thing that can most definitely be said about Eli is that she was an incredibly strong character who I had a great deal of respect for from the start. As the novel progressed and I became heavily involved with Eli’s story I found my heart breaking for her on more than one occasion and couldn’t quite believe the horrific way in which she was treated by her own family, including her parents. I desperately wanted Eli to find both the peace and happiness that she so desperately deserved and took comfort in the fact that she had someone as kind and supportive as Tommy by her side. Tommy and Eli were certainly two wonderfully created characters who both worked perfectly together and helped to make this novel as fabulous as it was.  

Whilst it took me a little while to get to grips with the way in which the characters spoke throughout Before You Were Mine, I have to say that I thought Before You Were Mine was superbly written. As a book that dealt with so many themes in an incredibly sensitive manner, Em Muslin really manages to draw the reader into the heart of the story and created something that was truly unforgettable.  

With a fabulous lead character who you can’t help but care about, Before You Were Mine was a novel that not only pulled at my heartstrings but was also captivating and breathtaking. Told from a new voice in women’s fiction, I found this to be a highly accomplished debut novel that has left me feeling very certain that this is just the start of a fabulous writing career for Em. I’ll certainly be looking forward to her next book! 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Review - What Alice Knew by T A Cotterell

Every now and again you will come across an utterly phenomenal book that will prove to be so difficult to review. What Alice Knew by T. A. Cotterell is just one of those books that I’ve had the pleasure of reading recently and one thing I desperately hope is to do this incredible debut novel the justice it deserves whilst not giving too much away. Having seen so many people talking about this book on social media, prior to reading it I had very high hopes and this thoroughly addictive and engaging read certainly didn’t disappoint me in the slightest. 

With a happy marriage, wonderful children and a job she clearly enjoys, it’s fair to say that Alice is very satisfied with her life. That is until one night when everything changes and her husband Ed, a successful and well-respected obstetrician fails to return home on time. As she soon receives a suspicious phonecall and sees her husband become increasingly unreliable, Alice is determined that she must find out exactly what is going on. However, when the truth is finally revealed, Alice is faced with a brutal choice, that has the potential to completely tear her family apart. 

What Alice Knew is undoubtedly a psychological thriller and one which really stands out from the crowd, sending the reader on what can only be described as an incredible journey that’s full of ups and downs and twists and turns. As a book that deals quite heavily with moral dilemmas, I found that I became extremely connected with the characters I met throughout and found myself constantly questioning whether or not I agreed with the decisions they were making. Whilst I found myself siding with Alice in terms of what she did in her predicament, I never felt that Cotterell was influencing my decision and was instead giving me the choice about who and what to believe. 

What Alice Knew drew me in and had me gripped from the very first page, something which is largely due to the author’s wonderful way of telling a story. As well as being a highly intense and very fast-paced novel, T. A. Cotterell provides a fabulously detailed insight into every situation that presents itself throughout the book. Whilst it is only told from the point of view of Alice, Cotterell offers different perspectives to every situation, really demonstrating how different actions have different consequences and how difficult it can be to make a decision when faced with a challenging situation. 

What Alice Knew was a truly fantastic and impressive novel that is told by an exciting new voice in psychological thriller fiction. I predict great things for T. A. Cotterell’s future writing career and hope that there will soon be another of his books to discover. What Alice Knew is a book that has been and will be enjoyed by many readers so if you haven’t read it yet then my only question is what are you waiting for? 

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Review and Giveaway - The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters by Jaimie Admans

As a book which wasted absolutely no time in throwing the reader straight into the drama, The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters was a truly beautiful and magical read. From the moment I picked it up I had a feeling that it would be the book for me and I was proved to be correct. Having never previously read anything by Jaimie Admans, I’m so glad I gave this book a chance - it exceeded my expectations and didn’t leave me disappointed. 

We first meet Wendy as she awkwardly sits in a sweltering office with a solicitor and a man she’s never met before to hear the news that she has been left a French chateau in the will of her old neighbour and friend, Eulalie. Whilst this should be exciting news, Wendy doesn’t feel entirely happy by it particularly as she learns that she will be expected to share it with Eulalie’s great nephew, Julian, despite the fact that he has never met his great aunt. Keen to see the chateau, Wendy quickly decides to head over to France and see it for herself but is devastated to see that Julian has also had the same idea. With emotions running high, just what will the outcome be when they are forced to endure eachother’s company and who is the chateau destined to belong to?

I have to be honest and say that at first I struggled to warm towards Wendy and found that she was quite immature and hurtful towards Julian with some of her comments when he’d done nothing to deserve them. However, my opinion of her soon changed as I learned more about her and the things she had experienced in her life. In fact, by the end of the novel, I really quite liked her and loved reading of the character’s antics and the dynamic that Jaimie had created between the two of them. 

As I read this book, I found that there was something enchanting and captivating about Jaimie’s style of writing - it really was impossible not to love and I adored everything about the reading experience. There was a real fairy-tale like quality to the book that I found was so easy to become immersed in. I loved the sense of mystery and magic that surrounded the chateau that really captured my imagination and left me desperately turning the pages. 

With characters that you will be sad to say goodbye to and so much beauty packed within its pages, I certainly fell head over heels in love with this book. With the summer months still to come, The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters would make for perfect holiday reading. For me, it was a fabulous introduction to Jaimie’s writing and I’m thoroughly looking forward to reading more of her books in the future. 

Giveaway


Enter the giveaway below, for your chance to win an amazing prize, a French themed goodie bag as pictured, which includes the following:

- 1x Paperchase Paris notebook and pen
- 1x The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters notebook
-1x Little Eiffel Tower model
-1x Eiffel Tower bookmark
-1x The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters magnet
-1x Signed bookmark

Good luck!



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Monday, 26 June 2017

Review - Secrets and Fries at the Starlight Diner by Helen Cox

Despite not having read the first book in the Starlight Diner series by Helen Cox, Secrets and Fries at the Starlight Diner was a book that I couldn’t wait to get started with. Going into the book with absolutely no idea what to expect, I was left feeling mightily impressed by just how engaging and absorbing it turned out to be. With twists and turns galore from beginning to end this was a truly surprising novel and my biggest regret is not having read the first instalment prior to it - I feel certain that I must have missed something very special. 

Within Secrets and Fries at the Starlight Diner we meet Bonnie Brooks who is on the run from Atlantic City where she witnessed a murder take place, knowing that she is the murderer’s next target. With very few people to turn to as a person who is estranged from her family, Bonnie soon finds herself at the Starlight Diner in New York where her dear friend Esther Knight works. However, upon arriving at the diner, Bonnie discovers that Esther is out of town for the night and finds herself faced with the prospect of spending the night on the streets in the middle of winter. That is until diner regular Jimmy Boyle makes her an offer she can’t refuse, a man whose help Bonnie finds herself in desperate need of as the story progresses. 

Having done so myself, one thing that can definitely be said is that it is possible to read Secrets and Fries at the Starlight Diner as a standalone novel. I did so with much ease, never feeling like I had missed out on any vital information about anything that had happened historically in the lives of the characters. All of these characters were absolutely wonderful and I really enjoyed getting to know each and every one of them, particularly those who worked in the Starlight Diner who all seemed like one big, happy and very supportive family. 

Throughout the entirety of the book, I was thoroughly impressed by Helen’s way of writing and the talent she has for telling an incredible story. As she wastes no time in throwing the reader straight into the midst of the action, I found that there was always plenty to think about and lots to keep me on my toes. As we saw Bonnie try to escape her past, I loved the sense of tension that was present throughout the book and the way that you could never quite predict what would happen next. 

Whilst this may have been the first of Helen’s books that I’ve ever read, I can certainly say that it won’t be the last. With so much to love about it, there really is something for everyone within Secrets and Fries at the Starlight Diner. I’m really looking forward to being reunited with Helen’s writing in the near future and reading what she writes next. 

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Extract - Confetti at the Cornish Cafe

Today I'm absolutely delighted to be on the blog tour for Confetti at the Cornish Cafe by Phillipa Ashley. I found this to be a truly wonderful, heartwarming read and one that I really would highly recommend. My full review of this book will be up in the very near future but for now I shall leave you in peace to read and enjoy the extract that I'm lucky enough to be able to share with you all today!

Extract


Lily takes a deep breath, just like she did when she stepped into Demelza’s. 
‘It’s an amazing view. I love the view from Ben’s parents’ house over Mounts Bay but the north west is so wild.’
‘It’s hard to decide which is better,’ I say, aware of Ben standing next to us, not that he seems too bothered as he’s still scrolling through his phone. 
‘Is there a signal up here?’ he says, holding the handset up.
‘It’s patchy,’ I admit. ‘But there’s Wi-Fi in the cafe and cottages. We plan to offer Wi-Fi all over the glamping field and events area before your wedding.’
He doesn’t answer me but hmmphs and shoves his phone in his jacket. He joins Lily who has walked the few yards from our land to the coastal path. It’s still windy but I think she’ll be OK.
‘This looks like a scene from The French Lieutenant’s Woman, doesn’t it, Ben?’
‘Yeah,’ he says, standing behind her with his arms around her waist.
‘I haven’t heard of that,’ I say.
‘It’s a book and it was a film before I was born. Isla wants to do a remake but it’s set in Lyme Regis not Cornwall. There’s a scene where the heroine stands in a howling gale almost being blown off the Cobb. I’m hoping Ben will play the hero in it.’
Wow. I think Ben may have actually smiled. Maybe his grouchiness is from pre-wedding nerves or the pressure of his job. I wouldn’t want to live my life under the microscope like they do, even though they’re meant to live for the publicity. I bet they have to do a lot of things they don’t want to as well.
The publisher of our canine cookbook wants my co-author, Eva Spero, and me to do some radio and TV appearances when it comes out later this year. To be honest, the idea makes me go weak at the knees but I guess I’ll get used to it. Cal and I still haven’t quite got over being featured in a Sunday lifestyle magazine last autumn, thanks to Eva who was impressed by our set-up when she turned up to Kilhallon’s launch party last year.
‘Shall we move on to the wedding glade? It’s more sheltered down there,’ I ask, seeing Ben shivering in the wind blowing off the sea.
Lily slots her arm through his. ‘Are you cold?’ 
‘Freezing my rocks off,’ Ben mutters. 
‘Let’s get out of the wind,’ I say, wishing Ben had come equipped for the weather.
On our way to the glade, Harry walks to the left and a little behind, checking around him at intervals. Maybe he thinks an assassin might be hiding behind the cafe bins or the high-banked hedges that protect the camping field from the worst of the Atlantic wind.
Clumps of snowdrops nod their delicate heads in the breeze and early primroses dot the banks that line the lane to the cottages and the edge of the copse. I love the first signs of spring. When I spent a stint sleeping rough, all I cared about was a warm place to stay, but now I’m lucky enough to appreciate the seasons changing from a warm bed and home.
A boy waving a plastic cutlass shoots out of the copse next to us onto the path.
‘Wooo hoooo! Watch out! I’m a pirate!’
‘Jesus! What the—’ Ben steadies Lily as the boy clips her arm.
‘Sorry!’ the boy shouts but races off down the slope towards the yurt field, waving his sword cutlass. He’s wearing a pirate hat and an eye patch but I’m sure I know him.
‘Are you OK, baby?’ Ben asks Lily.-
Lily smiles. ‘I’m fine. I’m fine.’
‘Quick! Blackbeard’s after us!’ A little girl in pirate gear shoots out of the copse and clips Ben. He tries to stay upright but slips on the damp turf and lands smack on his bum in a puddle. 

Monday, 29 May 2017

Review - Kiss Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt

Whilst I’ve read a number of Kate Hewitt’s previous books, Kiss Me at Willoughby Close was the first book I’ve read in the Willoughby Close series. Given that this was the fourth book in the series, I went into this book both knowing that I’d missed out on a lot from the previous three and worried that this would prevent me from enjoying it. However, I can safely say that this worry turned out to be for nothing as I absolutely adored this book and found it a real pleasure to be reunited with Kate’s wonderful writing style once again. 

Kate wastes no time in throwing the reader straight into the midst of the drama as we meet Ava who after the sudden and unexpected death of her husband finds herself left homeless with just £10,000 to her name, her clothing, dog Zuzu and red mini. Left with very little choice and unable to afford much more, Ava quickly moves into a cottage at Willoughby Close where she soon becomes friends with not just her neighbours but Jace the caretaker too. As surprise after surprise is thrown in Ava’s direction, will Willoughby Close provide that all important fresh start for Ava and will her future be brighter than her past?

Not having read the previous books in the series, one thing that really struck me when I picked up Kiss Me at Willoughby Close was the strong sense of community spirit that was present throughout the entirety of it. Undoubtedly this was all thanks to the wonderful characters that Kate had expertly created, who all seemed to be exceptionally well developed. I particularly loved Ava’s character and thought that she was a fabulous lead character, someone who clearly hadn’t had the best of luck in life but who was strong and so determined to overcome this. Subsequently I found myself glued to the pages of this book, following Ava’s story with much interest. 

Where most series of books require the reader to have read them all in order to understand and appreciate what’s going on, it must be said that Kiss Me at Willoughby Close is quite refreshing in this respect. Working wonderfully as a standalone novel, with the reader not needing to have any knowledge of what has taken place previously, I quickly became immersed in the story that was being told and never felt like I was missing vital information. From reading a few of her previous books I can honestly say that Kate’s writing in Kiss Me at Willoughby Close was everything I hoped it would be from beginning to end with divine descriptions, lots of humour and plenty of heartwarming moments. 

Whilst I deeply regret having missed out on the previous books in the Willoughby Close series of books, it was wonderful to get to know the delightful community that I could picture so perfectly that it almost felt real. Those who haven’t yet discovered the glorious world of Willoughby Close are in for a real treat with this book and I’ll definitely be back to read the book number five when it’s released. 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Review - Last Witness by Carys Jones

Despite not having read Wrong Number, the first book in the series, when I got an email about Last 
Witness by Carys Jones I really couldn’t say no. As a fast-paced, action-packed book from beginning to end that fits so much into a relatively short number of pages, this was a book that held my attention from the very first page. My only wish is that I’d had the opportunity to read Wrong Number before!

Amanda’s husband, whose real name she never knew, has died but there’s no time for her to mourn his death and get her head around what’s happened. The person responsible for his death is still very much a free man, walking around without a care in the world and Amanda’s terrified that he’ll return for her husband’s son. Despite not having known the little boy for very long, she’s now all he has left and she’s determined to do whatever it takes to protect him even if that involves putting herself in danger…

The book was full of some incredibly strong and powerful characters, some of whom I loved and some of whom I hated. Despite making some questionable decisions that I did not agree with, I have to say that I did find myself warming to Amanda for the way she stepped up and was so willing to look after the little boy that found himself left without a father. As she went through all that she did I was glad that she had someone like Shane by her side, who was loyal, supportive and in short exactly the sort of person Amanda needed in her life. I loved seeing the way their characters developed and grew as the story progressed. 

Last Witness was a well written book in terms of the fact that there was plenty going on to hold the attention of readers throughout the duration of it although I have to say that I’d highly recommend reading the first book in the series. I didn’t do this and have to say that I spent a lot of my time feeling like I’d missed out on a whole heap of information about the characters and their past relationships that I’m sure would have been revealed in the first book and would have helped me to understand and appreciate what was going on a lot more. Although this is certainly a dark and gritty story, something that potential readers should prepare themselves for, I really appreciated the inclusion of a few lighter moments throughout this particular book, especially the blossoming relationship that we witnessed between two central characters. 

Being the first book of Carys’ that I’ve ever read before I have to say that I was left feeling very glad to have had the opportunity to discover her writing having heard so much about it previously. Who knows whether there’ll be another book in this series but if there is I’d definitely read it as I’d like to see where life takes the characters to next. If you’re tempted to read Last Witness then I say go for it but make sure you’ve read Wrong Number first. 

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Review - The Woman Who Met Her Match by Fiona Gibson

Over recent years I’ve had the pleasure of reading a number of wonderful books written by the author that is Fiona Gibson. As an author who has a very real talent for writing novels that are guaranteed to pick you up and leave you with a smile on your face, I was really looking forward to reading The Woman Who Met Her Match, which is Fiona’s latest release to date. This was a book that more than lived up to my expectations and one that I thought there was so much to love about. 

Having lost her partner and the father of her children in a tragic accident, Lorries lives with her daugher Amy, her son Cam and her lodger Stu who she has known for many years. With her two children being keen to see Lorrie in a happy relationship they write Lorrie’s profile and encourage her to sign up to an online dating site, but after a few disastrous dates as a result of this she soon suspends her account. One day, she receives a friend request on Facebook from her first love, Antoine, who she met some thirty years when she was on an exchange trip to France in 1986 when she was just 16 years old. Will things work out with Antoine and be as good as Lorries always hoped they would be or will she realise that the person who is right for her has been right in front of her all along?

Throughout the entirety of this book, I found Lorrie to be a wonderful lead character who I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know. Apart from working hard as a manager at a cosmetic counter in a major department store, Lorrie is a person who is passionate about everything she does and is clearly determined to be the best mother she possibly can be to her two children. As a very down-to-earth character, Lorrie was someone who never seemed to take herself too seriously, tried to adopt a positive attitude and never wanted to let her problems defeat her and as such I admired her greatly. The people that surrounded her who we met along the way from her children, to her lodger Stu to her mother and many more as well all added something special to the story and helped to make it as successful as it was.

As many who have read Fiona’s previous novels will know, Fiona has a truly fabulous writing style that I personally adore and I’ve found that her books just keep getting better and better. The Woman Who Met Her Match was certainly one of these books, my favourite of Fiona’s to date and I particularly loved the way in which there were a number of different subplots running throughout the book, all of which helped to keep me entertained and interested. I loved the way in which Fiona has thrown a number of surprises into the novel to keep us on our toes, turning The Woman Who Met Her Match into an unpredictable read and one that I found to be very hard to put down. 

The Woman Who Met Her Match was an uplifting and often hilarious read that I couldn’t get enough of. It was so lovely to be reunited with Fiona’s writing after what feels like a very long time and I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an enjoyable, easy read, full of characters who you can really relate to and care for. I’m already looking forward to reading what Fiona writes next! 

Friday, 28 April 2017

Guest Post - How to Make a Cruddy Day Feel a Whole Lot Better by Fiona Gibson

Fiona Gibson is back with yet another fabulous book, The Woman Who Met Her Match. My full review of the book will be published in the very near future but do be assured that I really did adore this book and highly recommend it. 

In the meantime, as part of the incredible blog tour, I'm lucky enough to have a gorgeous piece today from Fiona all about how to make a bad day seem that little bit brighter. So without further ado, sit back, relax and enjoy this fabulous piece, one which certainly got me thinking about the things I do to look after myself when things in life aren't going too well... 


How to Make a Cruddy Day Feel a Whole Lot Better

I have a good life, and I’m generally a pretty happy person - but you know how it is. Some days you just feel a bit stale, as if your brain is filled with the murky water that lies in the dishwasher when it won’t drain properly. Here are 7 simple things that perk me up and make me feel properly human again. So, what are yours? 


1. The beauty of make-up… God, but I love the stuff. From piling it on in my teens to a more natural (but still very much there) approach in my fifties, I’ve never been too far away from a pouch of beloved cosmetics. If I’m feeling a bit bleary, even if I’m only heading to the park with the dog, I’ll get my kit out and apply the whole works: base, liner, lips, the lot. Suddenly, that murky dishwater sensation flushes away. 


2. The joy of running (yes, really)… On a holiday at a friends’ place in Devon, I noticed my mate Fliss looking ultra trim. Her secret? Just plain old-fashioned running. I gave it a go, and have sort of stuck with it. While setting out is torture sometimes, I always feel a whole lot better when I stagger back in through the front door. 


3. Inelegant dancing… Chic, Donna Summer, Sister Sledge, Candi Staton. A blast from the queens of 70s disco and all that dolefulness seems to magically disappear. (Warning: don’t try this at home if there are teenagers present - unless you are prepared to be mocked or, worse, filmed). 

4. The delights of kitchen faffing… I have no idea what I ate throughout the 80s or into the mid-90s. Chips, probably, and things on toast. Maybe the odd lump of cheese and a massive, hangover-quelling jacket potato with a fried egg on top. Then I had children, and suddenly I had to learn how to feel them. Weirdly - as I never thought this would happen to me - I now regard cooking as one of my favourite things to do. I don’t find it especially creative, and I’m not terribly good at it - there are plenty of disasters (I am often reminded of The Great Cheesecake Debacle of 1995). But I do appreciate the whole calm, methodical, step-by-step-ness of it, especially after a full day of hammering away on my laptop which usually leaves my brain feeling pretty fried. Perhaps it helps that I have a keen interest in eating too. 

5. For the love of cheese… Is there really any situation in life that can’t be improved with a lovely melty slab of Brie? I know it’s not the healthiest thing, but I am a firm believer in having a little of what you love, every day. 

6. The sheer joy-making nature of dogs… What is it about hanging out with an animal that makes a day feel a whole lot better? We adopted Jack, our collie cross, seven years ago and I can’t imagine sitting down to write a chapter without him curled up at my feet. How I love the scruffy, stinky boy. He runs to me whoever I come home and coaxes me out on walks. Which brings me to… 

7. The pleasure of walking with a friend… Yes, I love my my canine mate - but I need human company too. Writing novels generally means spending a ridiculous amount of time alone, which can send one a bit ‘funny.’ After striding around one of our local Glasgow parks - with our dogs, lots of chat and my lipstick on - normality is swiftly restored.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Review - The Married Girls by Diney Costeloe

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book quite like The Married Girls by Diney Costeloe and as such I found this to be a beautiful book, a real breath of fresh air. It was the first novel of Diney’s that I have ever had the pleasure of reading before and all I can say is that I really regret not having discovered her wonderful stories before now. 

Within this glorious book, Diney transports us to the village of Wynsdown just after the war where for two women, Charlotte and Daphne, there’s a lot going on. Now happily married with two children, the last person Charlotte was expecting to return to town was Harry a man who she was once very close to and who it seems she is still deeply concerned about. Meanwhile Daphne has a terrible secret and one that, if discovered, could ruin everything she has worked so hard to achieve with Felix. As women who are both different from eachother in many ways, these two women both have something in common in that they both have a past they would much rather forget. This is a story about just what happens when the past catches up with them as all too often happens in life. 

The Married Girls is the second in a series of books and before reading it I highly recommend reading the first book, The Girl With No Name, before. This was something I really wish I’d done as whilst I thought all the characters I met throughout The Married Girls were wonderful, I couldn’t help but feel that I was missing out on some valuable background information. There wasn’t one character that I liked more or less than the others as they all had a vital and important role to play in the story. I certainly found it fascinating to read of the lives of the characters and follow them as they experienced all that they did after the war. 

Despite having not read the first book in the series, I couldn’t help but love every minute that I got to spend reading The Married Girls. Undoubtedly this is all thanks to Diney’s wonderful way of writing a story in a way that really did seem so effortless. I’m the sort of the person that loves a book with plenty of description and this was a book that certainly delivered plenty of that, with it being entirely possible to form a mental picture in my head of everything that was happening. With so much going on throughout, there was so much to hold my attention and keep me interested from beginning to end. 

As a book that had a lot of depth and emotion to it, one that you could tell Diney had poured her heart and soul into to make it as successful as it was, I ended The Married Girls feeling so glad that I had the opportunity to read this book. It will be very interesting to see whether or not there will be a third book in the series and if so the direction in which the author takes things next. Either way, one thing that’s for certain is that I’ll definitely be back to read more written by Diney in the future. 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Review - The Escape by C L Taylor

One thing that can most definitely be said about C L Taylor is that she knows how to write a breathtaking psychological thriller that is guaranteed to have readers on the edge of their seats. The Escape is C L Taylor’s fourth book and having had the pleasure of reading all of them I can honestly say that she is an author who just keeps on delivering great things. The Escape was a book that I really couldn’t escape, one that demanded my full attention and that I couldn’t bear to be parted with. 

The Escape tells the story of Max and Jo a married couple who are all too familiar with heartbreak having tragically lost their first child but were then later blessed with a daughter, Elise. Despite suffering from terrible agoraphobia and the stress that comes with knowing her father is imminently dying, Jo wants nothing more than to provide for, protect and be a good mother to young Elise. One day Jo’s world is turned upside down when she is approached by a strange woman who asks her for a lift, a request she feels unable to refuse despite her reservations about doing so. Jo soon learns that this woman isn’t that much of a stranger after all - she knows Jo, she knows her daughter and her husband too - and she’s making threats towards Elise that Jo cannot ignore. Just what does this woman want and will Jo be able to protect her beloved daughter from danger? 

This is a book that is presented to us in an immensely clever and effective way, with chapters not only being told from the perspective of both Jo and Max but with little snippets of dialogue that are directed towards Jo from an anonymous source that I simply couldn’t figure out the identity of. Every single one of the characters that C L Taylor has introduced to us were expertly crafted being characters who really got under my skin, I just didn’t know who to trust. Each and every one of them really helped to make this book as wonderful as it was, and it was very clear to see how much time the author must have spent thinking about their development. 

This proved to be an incredibly addictive read that I was well and truly hooked on from the very first page. With twists and turns galore, every time I thought that I’d worked out what was going on something would come along to make me change my mind. Throughout the entirety of the novel the tension did nothing but grow at an alarming pace with surprise after surprise being thrown our way. Before I knew it, I had reached the end of this book and all I can say is that by ending like it did The Escape is a book that leaves other psychological thrillers with a lot to live up to. 


The Escape is an almighty novel that exceeded all of my expectations and one that quickly became the best book I’ve read so far this year. Sometimes you come across a book that you wish technology would allow to be rated more than five stars, and that is most certainly the case with The Escape. Over the years C L Taylor seems to have gone from strength to strength and I already can’t wait to read what she will write next!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Review - The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr, was an incredibly special book. In fact it was so special that after finishing it I had to take some time out to gather my thoughts before sitting down to write my review of it, hence why the review is coming some three weeks after finishing it. As a book that will stay with me for a long time, this was a truly memorable story and one that was quite unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I can only hope that within this review I do the book the justice that it so very much deserves. 

As the title correctly suggests this book tells the story of Flora Banks, a 17 year old girl who has had anterograde amnesia since the age of 10 when she had an operation which removed a tumour from her brain. With her amnesia meaning that she is unable to keep memories in her head for longer than a mere couple of hours, one evening after going to a party Flora kisses a boy on a beach, something which she is so desperate not to forget and something that she writes down. Whilst perhaps not the most sensible thing to have done given the repurcussions it has on her friendship with her best friend, we see how that one kiss completely changes Flora’s life as she breaks free from the control of her parents and sets out on the biggest adventure of her life. 

Whilst I struggled to understand exactly what young Flora was going through, I have to say that I thought Flora was an extraordinary lead character. I loved seeing Flora develop and grow as the story progressed and thought that the transformation she went on from being completely dependent on her parents for everything to being so much more independent entirely fascinating, she certainly proved herself to be a brave and fearless character. For me, even though Flora was considerably younger than me, I found Flora’s whole story to be extremely powerful and one which made me feel that little bit more grateful than I already was before starting the book for my health. 

The way that Emily has written this novel is something that I found to be extremely clever although very different to books I’ve read previously. There was a lot of repetition in this book, which I have to say at first somewhat annoyed me until I grew to appreciate why it was there, the fact that it was really giving us a glimpse into Flora’s mind and accurately portraying exactly what she was both thinking and feeling. I loved the effort that Emily had put into her story, creating one that really set the scene for the reader and transported them to a whole new world particularly when the location of Svalbard was introduced to us. 

Whilst this is a book that seems to be being marketed as a YA book, I’d say that it’s actually a book that can be read and appreciated by anyone of any age. With a number of themes being touched on throughout this is a very important book that raises awareness about a condition that perhaps is poorly understood and which people may not have very much understanding of. Having now taken the time to really think about this book and all that it represents, this is a book that more than deserves to be read and given a chance. I’m looking forward to seeing what Emily writes next.