Thursday, 21 February 2019

A Rose Petal Summer by Katie Fforde

Caro Swanson has taken a job in a remote part of Scotland.
She’s answered an ad in The Lady: being a companion to an elderly gentleman who lives in a country estate could be perfect! Surely it's time to make a change and do something different for a while?
The fact that she may also see Alec, the young man who she met some years previously and who she has always thought of as her ‘one who got away’, is of course purely incidental.
Soon Caro is falling in love - not only with Alec but with the stunning country house she's now living in. But the estate is in financial difficulties, and Caro soon realises there's only one way to rescue it.
So begins a magical romantic summer, one that will take Caro from Scotland to London and the south of France, in search of a classic lost perfume that might just restore all their fortunes.

Katie Fforde is one of the authors who got me reading again as an adult and so her books are dear to me and I look forward to her new releases every year. Her new release A Rose Petal Summer introduces us to a delightful host of characters as well as some charming settings from a Chateau in France, a barge in London and a country estate in Scotland.

Caro is our main character but she doesn’t dominate the storyline, each of the surrounding characters all have a thread of the storyline that weaves around Caro but she is the go to person for help whether that be saving a family’s heritage, helping people to achieve their ambitions or having a part in true love.  I was just as invested in Caro as I was with Rowan, Alec and Scarlet too

I loved the mix of characters in this book from the grumpy Murdo to the adorable sheltered Rowan who is eager to spread her wings and a celebrity couple who bring a modern touch to the storyline too. Alec and Caro have a dreamy fairy tale storyline that I loved and it warmed my heart.

What I have always loved with Katie Fforde’s novels is the cosy feel good and uplifting style she always has in her storylines and this still flows through the storyline in this book. Although the storyline was predictable, I still found myself wrapped up in the romance and friendship that is at the heart of this book.

Katie Fforde has delivered another beautiful heart-warming storyline that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Kindle                       Paperback

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J Tudor

One night, Annie went missing.
Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst.
And then, after 48 hours, she came back.
But she couldn't, or wouldn't, say what had happened to her.
Something happened to my sister. I can't explain what.
I just know that when she came back, she wasn't the same.
She wasn't my Annie.
I didn't want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.

After the major success of The Chalk Men by …………. I was eager to see what the author had up her sleeve for her second book which is entitled The Taking of Annie Thorne. I love what seems to have become the authors signature look to the cover design and I had expectations of this book being just as chilling as her debut.

The storyline has a dramatic opening that had me hooked immediately when a gruesome scene is set in front of my eyes and I was desperate to find out what on earth happened to the two bodies that were found. Joe Thorne receives a message that will mean him returning to his bleak childhood town of Arnhill after the tragic and suspicious event occurred but he has no idea who wants him back. This brings the memories of his loving sister Annie who disappeared from her room one night when they were younger only to return two days later but no one knows where she went or what happened to her. Is history repeating itself?

This was a haunting and chilling plot that was completely unpredictable and has a sense of horror and supernatural to the storyline which is not typically my go to choice in a book but the authors storytelling managed to keep me turning the pages.

We are kept in the dark the whole way through, it is quite clear that our main character Joe Thorne has many skeletons in his closet and is a flawed character with his drinking and gambling issues so I never quite trusted him.

The storyline jumps back and forth between the present time and then back to the events that happened in Joe’s youth surrounding the disappearance of his sister and I must admit it was the past that I was more interested in

There are certainly parts of the book that will have your skin crawling and these have been written so vividly personally I have always had a phobia since I was young about things coming up the toilet so this book particularly creeped me out at a certain point in the storyline!

The only thing I would say is because there are no characters that you warm to or are routing for or even slightly like, it meant that although the storyline was gripping and unpredictable, I didn’t actually care ( although I was intrigued)  and so when things were revealed it didn’t have the shocking impact it may have had if there was a connection made between the reader and the characters.

Fans of The Chalk Man I am sure will not be disappointed with The Taking of Annie Thorne and will be eager to see what chilling storyline we will eagerly be awaiting for the author to release next.

Kindle                      Hardback

Friday, 8 February 2019

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

Fixie Farr can’t help herself. Straightening a crooked object, removing a barely-there stain, helping out a friend . . . she just has to put things right. It’s how she got her nickname, after all.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees, she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank her, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, scribbles her an IOU – but of course Fixie never intends to call in the favour.

That is, until her teenage crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and needs her help – and Fixie turns to Seb. But things don’t go according to plan, and now Fixie owes Seb: big time.

Soon the pair are caught up in a series of IOUs – from small favours to life-changing debts – and Fixie is torn between the past she’s used to and the future she deserves.

Does she have the courage to fix things for herself and fight for the life, and love, she really wants? 

It has been a while since I have read a Sophie Kinsella book, I absolutely adored the Shopaholic series and Can You Keep a Secret has to be my favourite by this author. I did read Wedding Night when it was released but it didn’t quite have the charm and wit that I loved about the authors previous books so I was keen to read her new release I Owe You One to see if it would entertain me like her earlier novels.

The main character in I Owe You is Fixie who true to her name can not leave anything undone and she goes out of her way to fix and help everything and everyone around her. It was whilst carrying out one of her good deeds, looking after a random man’s laptop in a coffee shop that she finds her self in a terrible mess but she fulfils her duty much to the utter relief and gratitude to the gentleman Seb he insists on paying her back.

This had the light hearted feel and fast pace that I love about Sophie Kinsella’s novels. Fixie was a character who has been belittled for so long and feels intimidated by her family, she has such great ideas but she needs to find a boost of confidence to get her voice heard. She has allowed those around her to use her for their own gain and treat her unfairly and it was time for her to stand up for herself and be treated with respect and care. Fixie’s siblings were vile characters as was the romantic interest Ryan

I enjoyed the back and forth payback that rolled between Seb and Fixie. Although there is romance flowing through the storyline I found I was more interested in watching Fixie grow in confidence! I did enjoy this book as a light easy read although I still feel like it lacked the wit and craziness that I loved with the authors earlier novels. I would still recommend this book but would just say it is more of a cosy romance than a modern, witty storyline that I would usually expect.

Hardback                  Kindle

Thursday, 7 February 2019

The Book of Love by Fionnuala Kearney

One love. Two people. Twenty Years.
From the moment their eyes met across the room at a house party, Erin and Dom were meant to be.
If only it could be so simple. Over the years, the highs and lows of life conspire to keep them apart.
But a notebook can bring them together. On the blank pages of their love story, they write down everything they can’t always say – the secrets, the hopes and the love.
Falling in love is easy but staying in love is where the story begins…

The Book of Love is such a beautiful love story following Erin and Dom’s romance which is told through alternating chapters which jump back and forth in time, we take a journey with them from when they first met right through their joyous highs and tragic lows. The chapters are told from both of their points of view so we get to build a perfect picture of both characters and their love for each other shines through as well as their insecurities.

I loved reading the notes that both Dom and Erin wrote to each other in their notebook, I did find it a little sad at first thinking that they couldn’t have the bond to be able to say what they needed to say to each other but if I really think about it there are things I hold back from saying for not wanting to upset my partners feelings or not quite knowing how to say it out loud and this is exactly how Erin seemed to feel.

I found this storyline quite emotional at times and the issues that Erin and Dom face over the course of their relationship are all things that unfortunately many couples face day to day in the real world. One particular part of the book concerning their daughter Maisie did bring a lump to my throat.

I was quite content reading this book thinking this is a beautiful storyline well worthy of a 4 star review but then I reached a part in this book that I wasn’t expecting and straight away that 5th star was awarded! I don’t want to say anything else on this part of the book and I really hope other reviewers respect this too and do not give anything away as having the author completely pull the wool over my eyes with not even a small inkling is not something that happens often so I want everyone that reads this book to experience that same shock when they read this part ( YES YOU WILL KNOW WHAT PART!)

This was a touching romance that will take you on a roller-coaster of emotions as you see the struggles that Dom and Erin face and yet their total love and devotion for each other will warm the heart.

Kindle                       Paperback

Thursday, 24 January 2019

When All is Said by Anne Griffin

At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He's alone, as usual -though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.
Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories - of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice - the life of one man will be powerfully and poignantly laid bare.
Heart-breaking and heart-warming all at once, the voice of Maurice Hannigan will stay with you long after all is said.

When All is Said by Anne Griffin is my first book of 2019 and what a great book to kick of the year. In this book we meet dear Maurice Hannigan who is an 84 year old gentleman who is set to spend the evening at the bar in the local hotel, but this isn’t an ordinary evening, it is the 2 year anniversary of his wife’s passing and Maurice is desperately missing her. Maurice is set to make 5 toasts to significant people in his life and through his toasts we journey with him through his life from a young lad right up until the present day.

The story is told by Maurice himself and yet the author shapes the loved ones he talks about so well they soon become a vivid part of the story and it is clear to see what loving and caring people he has blessed with to have around him throughout his life.

It did take me a couple of chapters to get into the swing of this book because the way in which the story is told is through Maurice’s thoughts and yet he seems to direct the conversation towards his son Kevin, but after a couple of chapters I was soon won over by his Irish charm even though it didn’t take long to see that Maurice could be a grumpy, difficult and stubborn fool at times. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Maurice and his brother Tony and I found this part very touching.

This isn’t a book that is full of dramatic twists and turns, we are pre-pared for what lies ahead and yet I still found myself captivated by Maurice’s life story. It is the simplicity of the storyline along with a much loved main character with his Irish charm and his honest storytelling that made this such a beautiful and tender read. This book looks at Maurice’s regrets and achievements as well as his relationships with those around him. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading future releases by Anne Griffin as she is a wonderful storyteller whose Irish charm is felt through the pages. This is a praiseworthy debut and definitely an author to watch out for.

Hardback                 Kindle

Monday, 21 January 2019

Our Child of the Stars by Stephan Cox

Molly and Gene Myers were happy, until tragedy blighted their hopes of children. During the years of darkness and despair, they each put their marriage in jeopardy, but now they are starting to rebuild their fragile bond.
This is the year of Woodstock and the moon landings; war is raging in Vietnam and the superpowers are threatening each other with annihilation.
Then the Meteor crashes into Amber Grove, devastating the small New England town - and changing their lives for ever. Molly, a nurse, caught up in the thick of the disaster, is given care of a desperately ill patient rescued from the wreckage: a sick boy with a remarkable appearance, an orphan who needs a mother.
And soon the whole world will be looking for him.
Cory's arrival has changed everything. And the Myers will do anything to keep him safe.

I don’t remember a cover of a book that has stood out to me quite like the cover of Our Child of the Stars. Call me shallow but I was so drawn to the cover that I didn’t even read the synopsis I was eager to dive straight in but by the end of the first chapter it soon became clear that this was going to be a different type of read for me than what I was used to.
Molly and Gene devastatingly lost their unborn child but Molly is still desperate to become a mother. When a Meteor falls she is brought in to hospital to treat the young alien life form and it isn’t long before he captures her heart and she begins to form a protective bond with him and names him Cory. Molly will do all she can to keep him safe but can her hopes of a life with Cory be a stretch to far?
This was such an exciting storyline that gripped me right from the start and any hesitations I had about reading about an extra-terrestrial life form were soon swept away as Cory touched my heart. Cory was such a wonderful character and at times I forgot he was from another planet, like any young boy you could see him longing to forge friendships with those his age and wanting to soak up and learn about everything around him.
I was surprised how invested in the characters and the storyline I found myself, having Molly’s heartbreaking back story too gives a grounded feel to the storyline so everything somehow felt more real and believable. I loved how unpredictable the storyline was never quite knowing if they would be caught or if Cory would ever be reunited with his own kind which all helped to keep me eagerly turning those pages to see what lay ahead.
I can easily see this book being made into a film, the authors writing was so descriptive the whole story was so vivid in my mind not leaving me to have to use much of my imagination. The energy and pace of the book flowed perfectly throughout the whole novel and I ended up reading it in two days. Cory brings such a fun element to the storyline with his cheeky ways. I can not compare this book to anything else that I have read, I am sure anyone reading this book will try and draw a slight comparison to our much loved ET but Cory has so much more personality and likeability to him and the storyline has a lot more involved too. I read a lot of books that I love and enjoy but this book I found really exciting and I have struggled to find a book to settle in since as I am still hyped up from this book.
This was such an amazing debut and I am excited to see the response this book gets from readers.

Kindle                     Paperback

Monday, 14 January 2019

Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey Blog Tour

Today I am thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey. 
Fans of the Elizabeth is Missing have been longing for a new book by this author and now we have a new book and I am going to be sharing an extract with you to get a look at what the author has in store for us this time around.


‘This has been the worst week of my life,’ Jen said. Not what she had planned to say to her fifteen-year-old daughter after an ordeal that had actually covered four days.
‘Hi, Mum.’  Lana’s voice emerged from blue-tinged lips.
Jen could only snatch a hug, a press of her cheek against Lana’s soft and pale as a mushroom while the paramedics slammed the ambulance doors and wheeled Lana into the hospital. There was a gash on the ashen head, a scrape on the tender jaw, she was thin and cold and wrapped in tin foil, she smelled soggy and earthy and unclean, but it was okay: she was here, she was safe, she was alive. Nothing else mattered.
Cigarette smoke drifted over from the collection of dressing-gowned, IVattached witnesses huddled under the covered entrance, and a man’s voice came with it.
‘What’s going off? Is that the lass from London?
‘Turned up, then,’ another voice answered. ‘Heard it said on the news.’
So the press had been told already. Jen supposed that was a good thing: they could cancel the search, stop asking the public to keep their eyes open, to report possible sightings, to contact the police if they had information. It was a happy ending to the story. Not the ending anyone had been expecting.
The call had come less than an hour ago, Hugh, wrapped in a hotel towel, just out of the shower (because it was important to keep going), Jen not dressed and unshowered (because she wasn’t convinced by Hugh’s argument). They had never given up hope, that’s what she would say in the weeks to come, talking to friends and relatives, but really her hope, that flimsy Meccano construction, had shaken its bolts loose and collapsed within minutes of finding Lana missing.
Even driving to the hospital, Jen had been full of doubt, assuming there’d been a mistake, imagining a different girl would meet them there, or a lifeless body. The liaison officer had tried to calm her with details: a farmer had spotted a teenager on sheep-grazing land, he’d identified her from the news and called the police, she was wearing the clothes Jen had guessed she’d be wearing, she’d been well enough to drink a cup of hot, sweet tea, well enough to speak, and had definitely answered to the name Lana.
And then there she was, recognizable and yet unfamiliar, a sketch of herself, being coloured in by the hospital: the black wheelchair rolling to the reception desk, the edges of Lana’s red blanket billowing, a nurse in blue sweeping by with a white-coated doctor and the green-uniformed paramedics turning to go out again with a wave. Jen felt too round, the lines of her body too thick and slow for the pace, and she hung back a moment, feeling Hugh’s hands on her shoulders.
He nudged her forward. Lana’s wheelchair was on the move and Jen felt woozy, the scent of disinfectant whistling through her as they got deeper into the hospital. She hadn’t anticipated this, hadn’t been rehearsing for doctors and a recovery, had pictured only police press conferences and a funeral, or an endless, agonizing wait. The relief was wonderful, the relief was ecstasy, the relief made her ticklish, it throbbed in her veins. The relief was exhausting.
‘How are you feeling?’ she asked Hugh, hoping his answer would show her how to react, how to behave.
‘I don’t know,’ Hugh said. ‘I don’t know yet.’
They spent several hours in A&E while Lana had skeletal surveys and urine tests and her head was cleaned and stitched and some of her hair was cut. Her clothes were exchanged for a gown, and her feet, pale and chalky, stuck out naked from the hem. Jen wanted to hold those feet to her chest, to kiss them, as she had when Lana was a baby, but just above each ankle was a purplish line, like the indentations left by socks, only thinner, darker. The kind of mark a fine rope might leave. They made Jen pause, they were a hint, a threat, and they signalled a beginning the beginning of a new doubt, a new fear, a new gap opening up between her and her daughter.
The police noticed the marks, too, and photographed them when they came to take Lana’s white fleece jacket, now brown and stiff with blood. There was so much blood on it that Jen found herself wondering again if her daughter was really still alive.

Whistle in the Dark is out now!

Paperback                Kindle 

My Review

Whistle in the Dark is the first book I have read by Emma Healey despite hearing such rave reviews about her previous book Elizabeth is Missing. When I read the synopsis for Whistle in the Dark I was instantly intrigued and it sounded like just the kind of storyline to keep me gripped.

Fifteen year old Lana goes missing for four days and her mother Jen, is in turmoil not knowing where her daughter is and whether she will be found dead or alive. Lana is found four days later but she refuses to speak about her whereabouts in the time she was gone and no one knows what has happened to her. Jen can not move forward without knowing what happened to her daughter in her time away.

The first chapter of this book pulled me in instantly and my mind was already racing concocting all the different scenarios as to what could have happened to Lana.

After the eventful start to the book I then found my interest began to waver for the middle of the book as nothing much seemed to happen, the storyline flowed at a slow pace as we see Lana getting on with her day to day life whilst Jen began to notice small changes in her daughter.

The last part of the book picked back up again and I found myself desperate for answers more for the need to solve the mystery than for any care for the characters. I didn’t connect with either Jen or Lana, they had a difficult relationship but even though I was aware of issues they were both dealing with they were not likeable characters to me. The author certainly gets across the difficulties and strains of parenting and the emotional effect this has on Jen. I expected to be more sympathetic towards Lana but her actions made me feel differently.

Mental Health is a big issue that is unfortunately touching many peoples lives in some way and this is covered in this book which brings awareness which is a great thing.

I am pleased I read this book and it had me intrigued I just feel the middle part of this book nearly made me DNF this book.