Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The One That Got Away by Annabel Kantaria

The One That Got AwayThe One That Got Away by Annabel Kantaria
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everyone has one. An ex you still think about. The one who makes you ask ‘what if’?

Fifteen years have passed since Stella and George last saw each other. But something makes Stella click ‘yes’ to the invite to her school reunion.

There’s still a spark between them, and although their relationship ended badly, they begin an affair.

But once someone gets you back, sometimes they’re never going to let you go again…

A very easy read, perfect for beside the pool on holiday.

Character driven psychological novel this was well delivered and kept the reader interested and ready to read on all the way through. I did guess the outcome so it was pretty predictable but nevertheless it was still enjoyable. The three main characters were well developed with each having their own secrets and as the book progressed their true traits were revealed.

Stella and George were childhood sweethearts and to all intents and purposes it was assumed that they would end up together but something happens and they drift apart only to meet 15 years later at a school reunion party. By now their lives have moved on, Stella has her own very successful catering business while George has married Ness and is CEO of his own marketing company - successful, admired and full of himself.

The reunion starts off an affair between Stella and George and it spirals out of control as it almost becomes a game of cat and mouse but who is the cat and who is the mouse? Old grudges and resentments come to the fore as this novel develops and although I did guess what was going on it was still fun to see how the author gets us there. I particularly liked the last couple of chapters where it builds and builds as it finally plays out.

Liked the ending, it was not as predictable as it could have been which gave it an edge and prompted my 4 star rating for that little bit extra it gives to the reader.

Well worth a read.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Pocketful of Dreams by Jean Fullerton

Pocketful of DreamsPocketful of Dreams by Jean Fullerton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's 1939, and the Brogan family of London's East End are ready to show Hitler what for. But things don't seem so rosy when rationing, evacuation and air-raids start to put this larger-than-life family to the test.

When a mysterious young man arrives at the Brogans' local parish church, he provides just the dazzling distraction they need - and for eldest daughter Mattie, the promise of more than she'd ever wished for. But as the pair fall deeper in love, they are drawn into secret dangers, rife on the very London streets they call home.

As the young couple race to protect the East End as they know it, can their dreams survive the darkening backdrop of war-time...?

Set in 1939 in the East End of London we mean the Brogan family who are fighting Hitler and poverty while trying to come to terms with the horrors and deprivations of a world at war. When a mysterious man arrives at the local church he provides the distraction that they need especially for Mattie the eldest daughter. Predictably they fall in love but Mattie's war duties throw up political MI5 secrets, real problems with Mosley and the Fascists and some very difficult anti-Jewish actions in London. Very likeable characters in the Brogan family with a real feel for the cockney East End and what war time in London must have felt like.

Although this was not my normal type of read it was an enjoyable historical novel - easily worth 4 stars.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 15 September 2017

The Way Back To Us by Kay Langdale

The Way Back To UsThe Way Back To Us by Kay Langdale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Since their youngest son, Teddy, was diagnosed with a life-defining illness, Anna has been fighting: against the friends who don't know how to help; against the team assigned to Teddy's care who constantly watch over Anna's parenting; and against the impulse to put Teddy above all else - including his older brother, the watchful, sensitive Isaac.

And now Anna can't seem to stop fighting against her husband, the one person who should be able to understand, but who somehow manages to carry on when Anna feels like she is suffocating under the weight of all the things that Teddy will never be able to do.

As Anna helplessly pushes Tom away, he can't help but feel the absence of the simple familiarity that should come so easily, and must face the question: is it worse to stay in an unhappy marriage, or leave?

A moving and emotional novel not really an uplifting read, I do like a little escapism when I read and this really was to 'real' for me to call it entertaining.

Good characterisation of vivid and flawed people but such an emotionally driven book it was quite an exhausting read. The journey all the characters take leaves the reader feeling such a sense of hopelessness really that I was finding it hard to continue. Well written and tackling a difficult subject but really not an entertaining read. The family start to fall apart with the illness of Teddy and it seems there is no way out of this for any of them, they all find themselves trying and feeling inadequate, slowly but surely Tom (husband) seeks solace in another woman and desperately wants to find 'the way back to us'.

A bit too sad for me, well written, poignant and exhausting - I believe it deserves a 3.5 (rounded up to 4* for Goodreads and Amazon) from me but really not my kind of read.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final GirlsFinal Girls by Riley Sager
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The media calls them the Final Girls – Quincy, Sam, Lisa – the infamous group that no one wants to be part of. The sole survivors of three separate killing sprees, they are linked by their shared trauma.


But when Lisa dies in mysterious circumstances and Sam shows up unannounced on her doorstep, Quincy must admit that she doesn’t really know anything about the other Final Girls. Can she trust them? Or...


All Quincy knows is one thing: she is next.

Quincy Carpenter is the only survivor of a massacre at Pine Cottage and she immediately enters notoriety when she is labelled a Final Girl taking her place alongside two other survivors of horrific killings; Lisa Milner and Samantha Boyd. Ten years on and Quincy has managed to put her past behind her, she still has no memory of the events of that horrific night but she is determined not to be defined by what happened and with the help of her soon to be fiance Jeff, her baking blog success and the comfort of knowing the police officer who saved her is only a phone call away and will drop everything if she needs him, Quincy has been able to focus on her future not her past. She also has her Xanax pills and wine when she feels the need to forget and so her life has moved on. It's not until Lisa dies in an apparent suicide and Sam turns up on her doorstep that things begin to unravel at an alarming pace. Suddenly Quincy is not sure of anything or anyone including herself and the settled 'normal' life she had managed to create for herself is slowly falling to pieces as she discovers more about herself and those she can trust around her. Having told Quincy that she just wants to make sure she's OK after the news about Lisa, Sam is secretive about her own past. Quincy is suspicious of her, just who is Sam and what does she really want from her? In a way she is almost afraid that Sam's presence might force her to remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, perhaps the realisation might not be what she wants to face.

Lots of back and forth in the past and present for this novel but it was necessary to fill in blanks and was done quite well so as not to fragment the story or the pace. It did build quite nicely albeit a bit slowly but by the last third of the book the pace ramped up to take us to the conclusion. I didn't really take to Quincy but maybe that was intentional, she was so confused about her past that her real personality didn't really have chance to surface and with the influence of Sam she 'became' totally different to the person we were first introduced to. This then prompted red herring questions such as 'do we like her', 'is she a nice person, could she be capable of those murders herself'? so keeping the reader unsure almost to the end.

I did guess the identity of the killer and I did this fairly early on but only because I read a lot of this genre although Riley Sager was skillful in not making it so obvious or confirming anything until the end which did leave a further twist to be put in the mix if she changed her mind and wanted to take this ending completely off kilter.

Well written but it could have been a bit shorter, interesting inner turmoil of someone who has come through a horrific experience and how guilt at not having been killed as well shaped the way she dealt with the trauma and her desire to be 'normal' kept her from remembering the truth.

Good holiday read but not necessarily the best I've read but worthy of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for Goodreads and Amazon.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

Friend RequestFriend Request by Laura Marshall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Maria wants to be friends.
But Maria is dead . . . isn't she?

When Louise Williams receives a message from someone left long in the past, her heart nearly stops.

Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.

Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty-five years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers' party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life with a terrible secret.

As Maria's messages start to escalate, Louise forces herself to reconnect with the old friends she once tried so hard to impress. Trying to piece together exactly what happened that night, she soon discovers there's much she didn't know. The only certainty is that Maria Weston disappeared that night, never to be heard from again - until now. . .

When I saw this book I knew it would be something I would want to read. A thriller based round social media I thought was very current and a great concept.

I feel this is something most people would be able to relate to, facebook, accepting friend requests from people you used to go to school with and thinking you know them. This questions everything, do you really know who is behind the computer contacting you? Do you really know who's profile you are looking at?

This follows Louise, a single mother to Henry. Louise used to be married to Sam, a guy she knew from school but never really got with him until many years later. Sam and Louise hold a secret though, one that she is now deeply ashamed of and one that will never go away. Louise suddenly receives a facebook request from a girl she knew at school, the problem is that this girl is dead, or is she?

The book jumps back into the past, where the reader learns of Louise as a teenager and Maria Western, who the facebook request was from. We discover how Maria arrived at the school and how Louise and her current friendship group bullied her. Jumping to the past and back into the present the reader gets a good understanding of the characters. After the facebook request Louise also gets an invite to her old school reunion, which is back in the school hall. This is traumatic for Louise especially as this is a time in her life that she has been trying to forget.

Although this is fast paced, you are right slap bang in the middle of things from the first page. I did feel it plateaued out in the middle and was a little slow, it did pick up again though towards the ending and wow, I did not see that ending coming. This is a good debut novel and I hope that Marshall will be writing something else in the future. If you like books set in today and include current technology/culture you will enjoy this.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 8 September 2017

I Heart Forever by Lindsey Kelk

I Heart Forever (I Heart Series, Book 7)I Heart Forever by Lindsey Kelk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

inter in Manhattan…and someone’s keeping a secret.
The day her husband Alex picks up a backpack and goes travelling, Angela Clark promises to stay out of trouble and keep both Louboutins on the ground.
So when her best friend’s boyfriend confides in her, it can’t hurt to help him pick out a ring at Tiffany’s surely?
And when her fashion magazine announces major changes, being terminally late and arguing with your boss isn’t that bad, is it?
Then suddenly there’s another big secret Angela’s got to keep – and the man she loves is still thousands of miles away. As the wedding of the year looms, and Manhattan switches on its Christmas lights, Angela is going to need her friends by her side as her old life looks set to change forever.

Lindsey Kelk is one of my favourite authors, I absolutely love her writing style, she always has me grinning from ear to ear and racing through her books. This, I heart Forever is no exception!

Now, if you don't know Lindsey Kelk and haven't read any of her novels before, all I can say is where have you been? This is obviously not the best book to start with, being 7th in the series but this is a must read, so you have to start from the beginning!

Although this was predictable it made no difference to my enjoyment of the book, being back in Angela's world is like going home. Angela and Alex are still happily married and Angela is now an editor Gloss, a woman's magazine. Everything is going well for Angela until Alex tells her he wants to go travelling around South Asia, this is something he has always wanted to do, but has limited time working in a band. After a gap in their schedule, he decides this is the perfect time to jet off, but that is without Angela. Not to worry, Angela now has a wedding to look forward to!

This is a perfect installment to the I heart series, this is a comfort read, which will make you want more. I am assuming this is the last in the series, which is a shame but I guess all good things have to come to an end at some time. If this really is the end of the series I do hope Lindsey has something up her sleeve as I have been left wanting more from her.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland

Wilde Like MeWilde Like Me by Louise Pentland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You'll never forget the day you meet Robin Wilde!

Robin Wilde is an awesome single mum. She's great at her job. Her best friend Lacey and bonkers Auntie Kath love her and little Lyla Blue to the moon and back. From the outside, everything looks just fine.

But behind the mask she carefully applies every day, things sometimes feel . . . grey. And lonely.

After 4 years (and 2 months and 24 days!) of single-mum-dom, it's time for Robin Wilde to Change. Her. Life!

A little courage, creativity and help from the wonderful women around her go a long way. And Robin is about to embark on quite an adventure . . .

Really enjoyed this lighthearted funny chic lit - such a change to be able to laugh out loud at the antics and situational comedy that is so well crafted in this girly book. Lovely likeable central character Robin Wilde and her adorable six year old daughter Lyla Blue find themselves abandoned when Lyla's father Simon leaves them to 'find himself' and finds a much younger woman into the bargain. Robin and Lyla have to build their lives alone and although she absolutely adores her daughter Robin is desperately lonley and needs a life where she's not constantly watching childrens' TV and eating fish fingers for tea. She doesn't feel she belongs in any social group not even the snooty mums clique at the school and doesn't have anything to occupy her time. She's trying to juggle being a single mum and living up to what she thinks if the perfect examples of the other mums at Lyla's school.

It does get a bit 'poor me' in places but luckily the humour does keep it going nicely. Enjoyable read, I read this in a day so that must say something - along the lines of Sophie Kinsella, Lindsey Kelk et al and if you enjoy these authors then this will not disappoint. Nice to read something light hearted and did have the feel good factor at the end. I can see this character appearing again, there seems to be a bit of mileage in Robin Wilde and if there is a sequel then I will definitely read it. Good holiday reading. Well deserved 4 stars for this one.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 4 September 2017

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

The Perfect GirlThe Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To everyone who knows her now, Zoe Maisey - child genius, musical sensation - is perfect. Yet several years ago Zoe caused the death of three teenagers. She served her time, and now she's free.

Her story begins with her giving the performance of her life.

By midnight, her mother is dead.

The Perfect Girl is an intricate exploration into the mind of a teenager burdened by brilliance, and a past that she cannot leave behind.

A 14 year old Zoe who is bullied at school makes a mistake that has tragic consequences when 3 of her classmates die in the car she is driving illegally. She is sent to prison and her parents split up and her father moves out of the area - Zoe and her mum have to start all over on their own. In time her mother Maria remarries a guy called Chris and they have a daughter Grace together. Chris has a son Lucas by his first marriage and both Zoe and Lucas are piano prodigies.

Now the perfect family Lucas and Zoe are stars of a piano recital and unfortunately the parent of one of the teenagers that was killed shows up and causes a scene. Maria however hadn't told Chris anything about Zoe's 'crime' and her period in prison, he's furious she kept this from him.

I didn't really connect with the characters in this novel, they were not really likeable or (from my point of view) worth investing any time in. The pace was good and the author maintained suspense building throughout but this really was the only thing that kept me interested. I felt it could have been a lot shorter and it needed a bit of lifting as it was quite predictable and although it had a few twists and turns it just didn't have the wow factor at the end. I have given this a 3 star rating as although it wasn't really the great read I was expecting it was still enjoyable.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter with extract

From Elisabeth Carpenter comes a debut psychological thriller guaranteed to take your breath away. Perfect for fans of Broadchurch and The Missing.

‘An intelligent, taut and compelling thriller that throws you right at the end’

- SAM CARRINGTON, bestselling author of Saving Sophie.

Two girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?

When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweetshop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge.

What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems?

Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared…

This is a gripping psychological thriller with a killer twist that will take your breath away.

I have managed to get an extract for you to enjoy. 

Chapter 10 p.40-42

I’ve laid out all the cuttings from Zoe’s disappearance on the coffee table. There are only a few – there weren’t as many newspapers in 1986. Most papers used the photo of Zoe in her uniform – her first and last school photograph.

I try not to think about what she might have looked like if her picture had been taken every year after that. About how proud Sarah would have been of her. I try not to feel bitter every time I see her old school friends standing at the gates of the school down the road, adults now, waiting for children of their own. I simply let it stab me once, in the heart, before I bury it again. We used to talk about Zoe every day. I don’t get to talk about her any more. No one else knows her now.

I look at the clock. Jim’s late, but for once I don’t mind. It gives me time to look at all the different versions of her little face in the cuttings: small and grainy; black and white and brightly coloured, of which there’s only one. In the centre of them all I’ve placed the last photo of Sarah and Zoe together: my daughter and granddaughter.

I bury my face in my hands. It never gets any easier. It’s not the natural order. I’ve said that to myself a thousand times. I wish God would just take me to be with them. It’s too hard to be the only one left. Well, almost the only one.

Jim’s taps on the kitchen window halt the flow of my tears. I grab one of the cushions off the settee and soak up the wet from my face. This is why I hardly ever look at these pictures.

‘Where are you, Maggie?’

‘Where do you think I am? I’ve only two rooms.’

I place the cushion back next to me, but reversed.

Jim appears at the threshold and shakes off his coat.

‘You could’ve been in the lav,’ he says.

‘Well, you can’t ask where a lady is if you think she’s in the lav.’

‘It was just something to say,’ he says, ‘so you’d know I was here.’

He sighs and the settee sinks a little as he sits next to me. We don’t often sit like this together. I rub my right arm with my left hand to get rid of the tingling.

‘So this is what you’ve kept all these years,’ he says, looking at the pictures on the table.

He takes a folded newspaper from the inside pocket of his coat. The things he can carry in there. Last week he took out a tin of pease pudding because I’d never eaten it before. He should’ve kept it in there.

‘It’s today’s,’ he says. ‘She made the nationals.’

My intake of breath gives away my surprise.

‘Don’t look so shocked,’ he says. ‘I knew you’d want to read it.’

I take it from him.

‘I know. But don’t you think you’re indulging me? An old fool getting caught up in a story that’s nothing to do with her?’

He shakes his head. ‘You’re not the only one. They were all talking about it at the shop. And anyway, it’s not a story – it’s real life. You more than most know all about that. Stop being so ashamed about it.’

I feel myself flush. Am I ashamed? Ashamed we couldn’t find her? Guilty that she was taken in the first place? Or ashamed that I still think about her, that she might come back to me after everyone else has gone?

Jim picks up one of Zoe’s articles. ‘A sweet shop? Is that right?’

‘Yes,’ I say. ‘Like where this girl, Grace Harper, was last seen.’

Zoe should’ve been in the paper straight away. Perhaps she’d have been on the news all day too – they have news channels playing twenty-four hours a day now.

‘Have you been watching Sky News?’ asks Jim.

He read my mind.

‘I don’t have Sky News. Why would I want Sky? All I watch is Countdown.’

That’s a lie. I watch so much rubbish I couldn’t say. Channel Five do a true-life film every day that I usually end up crying to. I’d never tell Jim about that.

He winces as he stands up. ‘You’re the only person I know who keeps their remote control next to the television. What’s the bloody point of that?’

‘Mind your language,’ I say.

I wonder if Grace’s mother is waiting at the window, like Sarah used to.

‘You’ll have Freeview,’ he says. ‘Everyone does now. News 24 – it’ll be on there.’

I leave him to play with the remote control. I place all of Zoe’s articles back in the folder, except for one. It was the one that broke us: Search called off for missing Zoe Pearson.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

If you knew her - Emily Elgar

If You Knew HerIf You Knew Her by Emily Elgar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The perfect life?
Or the perfect lie . . .

Cassie had it all - the fairytale wedding, the stunning home, the perfect husband. But when she arrives on the intensive care ward at St Catherine's hospital in a coma, it soon becomes clear that she has a secret; a secret that changes everything.

Alice, the chief nurse on the ward begins to feel a connection with Cassie and can't help but wonder if things are not quite as they seem.

Frank, another patient, can hear and see everything around him but cannot communicate. He understands that Cassie's life is in danger and only he holds the truth, which no one can know and he cannot tell . . .

If You Knew Her is a gripping, heart-stopping psychological thriller, perfect for fans of The Couple Next Door, I See You and Behind Closed Doors.

I have never read a story like this before, I thought the premise with very different. Reading from 3 different perspectives, Frank, who is in hospital paralysed but has a fully working mind and can hear exactly what is going on. Cassie who is in a coma and in the same ward, finally Alice, who is the nurse that cares for them both. Eventually the reader discovers how all characters are linked, dodging red herrings along the way. I thought that the novel was a little slow in places and I was a little disappointed with the ending.

Although this is marketed as a thriller book, I would say it is more of a mystery and 'who dun it' than thriller. As I have previously said this is like no other book I have read, mixing medical with crime is a really great idea, it is not one that I would have chosen to read about I don't think had I of seen it out in a book shop but I did enjoy it, perhaps not as much as I thought I would or hoped.

If you are looking for something a little different to your average psychological thriller give this a go, if you like crime and mystery I also think you will enjoy this one. Elgar is a debut novel and I think this was well written and the premise with good for the book. I look forward to seeing what she brings out next. Overall this was a decent read and I would give it 3.5 * rounded up to 4* for Goodreads and Amazon.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Editing Emma: The Secret Blog of a Nearly Proper Person by Chloe Seager

Editing Emma: The Secret Blog of a Nearly Proper PersonEditing Emma: The Secret Blog of a Nearly Proper Person by Chloe Seager
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Emma Nash is ghosted by love of her life Leon Naylor, she does what any girl would do - spends the summer avoiding all human contact, surrounded by the Chewit wrappers he left behind.

Seeing Leon suddenly ‘in a relationship’ on Facebook, however, spurs Emma into action. She vows to use the internet for good (instead of stalking Leon’s social media),chronicling her adventures on her new Editing Emma blog.

But life online doesn’t always run smoothly.

From finding her mum’s Tinder profile, to getting catfished and accidentally telling the entire world why Leon Naylor is worth no girl’s virginity… Surely nothing else could go wrong?!

This was a very quick read, I read it in a couple of days. This is aimed at young adults and although I am not in that category anymore I do still enjoy reading these type of books.

Editing Emma is a story that follows Emma, a 16 year old who is struggling to deal with her teenage years and the ins and outs of boyfriends, through social media into the mix and there is a lot of drama. I did feel that the book lost pace in the middle.

The book is entirely told through blog format, which I did enjoy reading, however I found that it was hard to connect with some characters and understand the feelings. I felt that not a lot happened in the book, it was focused on Emma's break up with Leon and then her going out with Greg. As I mentioned Emma is 16, a lot of what I read I would have thought it was a 14 year old narrating, she came across immature at times, which was a bit of a disappointment.

This was an O.K read for the summer holidays. If you like YA linked with social media you will probably like this, for me it wasn't my favourite, however it wasn't terrible either.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Game of Scones by Samantha Tonge

Game of SconesGame of Scones by Samantha Tonge
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A story of icing and flour… and how love doesn’t always go to plan!

Growing up, Pippa Pattinson’s summers were spent in the idyllic Greek island fishing village of Taxos. There she spent many long hazy days determinedly ignoring thoughts of the life her parents had mapped out for her (a dreary-but-secure accounting job and obligatory sensible husband!) Instead she daydreamed of running her own tea shop – serving the perfect scones – with mocha-eyed childhood friend Niklaus by her side…

Arriving back in Taxos for the first time in years, with suave boyfriend Henrik, Pippa barely recognises the tired little town – but is relieved to catch glimpses of the quaint, charming village she’s always loved. Together Niklaus and Pippa put together a proposal to save Taxos from tourist-tastic ruin, and at the heart of their plan is Pippa’s dream project: The Tastiest Little Tea Shop in Taxos. It’s time for Pippa to leave her London life behind and dust off her scone recipe that’s guaranteed to win over both locals and visitors. And amidst the rolling pins and raisins, it seems romance is blossoming where she’s least expecting it…

I picked this up quite cheaply and thought it looked like a short summery read. I found this very easy to get into, and it seemed to flow well.

Pippa has returned to her childhood home of Taxos in Greece, on her arrival she discovers lots of things have changed. She is with her handsome boyfriend Henrick, who she is not as fond of as once she thought, she begins to change her mind about him, especially when she meets up with her best friend Niko after all these years. Niko has also moved on over the years and is set to marry.

I loved the setting for this book, it is perfect for the summer. The book is also relatively short, which allowed me to really get into it and read it quick.

Although Pippa loves making scones, I am not sure why the title is 'game of scones' there doesn't seem to be any 'game' with them. I also thought that really was a sideline to the story.

Overall I thought the book was O.K, it is nice for a summer beach read where it doesn't require you to think too much.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Truth or Dare by Non Pratt

Truth or DareTruth or Dare by Non Pratt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A powerful and moving novel about bravery from the Guardian's "writer to watch" Non Pratt, perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, John Green and Holly Bourne. How far is too far when it comes to the people you love? Claire Casey hates being the centre of attention. But if it means getting Sef Malik to notice her, it’s a risk she’s happy to take. Sef is prepared to do anything to help his recently disabled brother. But this means putting Claire’s love – and life – on the line. Because when you're willing to risk everything, what is there left to lose?

I have read a few of Non Pratt's novels before and enjoyed them, when I found out she was releasing a new one which flips I couldn't wait to get started.

In part 1 we meet Claire, she hears about a dreadful accident over the summer, where Kamran fell into a river and have been in a coma, he has woken up, however is suspected to be brain damaged and will need thousands of pounds for treatment and care. Sef is Kam's brother and although he is grateful for the help the school is offering, he knows he needs to make money and quick, when he asks Claire to help him form a YouTube channel, she agrees. Together they form Truth Girl and Dare Boy, they create videos on different truths and dares, encouraging people to donate when they watch.

Through Claire's part we learn of the truths and dares the duos do, attempting to fundraise as much as they can. Sef realises it's not enough and that they need to do the biggest dare yet to secure funding for Kam.

On flipping the book over, we read the story through Sef's eyes and begin to understand him better. Personally I didn't particularly like Sef, the way he behaves towards others is not brilliant, but then you are constantly reminded that he is doing all of this for his brother Kam still in hospital.

This was an interesting story, which is up to date in terms of technology and social media. I think if you love Non Pratt's previous books you will love this too. If you are also looking for something a little different, this could also be for you.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Thornhill by Pam Smy

ThornhillThornhill by Pam Smy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As she unpacks in her new bedroom, Ella is irresistibly drawn to the big old house that she can see out of her window. Surrounded by overgrown gardens, barbed wire fences and 'keep out' signs, it looks derelict. But that night, a light goes on in one of the windows. And the next day she sees a girl in the grounds. Ella is hooked. The house has a story to tell. She is sure of it. Enter Thornhill, Institute for Children, and discover the dark secrets that lie within.But once inside, will you ever leave?

When this arrived in the week I was intrigued, to begin with it was a mamouth read, something that can be intimidating, however it looked like a completely different type of read and I was looking forward to read something a little different.

I began this today and finished it in an hour and 20 minutes, so don't be put off of the size of it. I thought this was very cleverly put together, we follow two girls in this story split 30 years apart but linked by one location. You get more into Mary's head, who lived at Thornhill (an orphanage) in 1982, we also meet Ella, who loves opposite 30 years later. We read the thoughts of Mary through a sequence of her diary and follow Ella's story through the illustrations.

Although this is not my normal genre I really, really enjoyed it, it was different and I would love to read more by Smy. I really got into the story and I never saw the ending coming, which I was shocked about and felt a little sad at the same time, I thought I knew Mary quite well through her journal but I began to question my opinion on her at the end. It reminds you the power of illustration and how you can read so much through it. I would recommend this book to middle graders or young adult, however being an adult I enjoyed this and feel the book will stay with me for some time.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Escape to Willow cottage by Bella Osborne with extract

Escape to Willow Cottage (Willow Cottage Series) by [Osborne, Bella]

A cosy and heartwarming seasonal romance, perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley.

Beth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a warm, caring and safe place for little Leo.

When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage.

Over the course of four seasons, Beth realises that broken hearts can be mended, and sometimes love can be right under your nose…

Escape to Willow Cottage was originally digitally published as a four-part serial under the title Willow Cottage. This is the complete story.

I have got an extract to share with you.

Chapter 3 p.27-28

Beth’s phone rang. ‘The voice of sanity! Hello, Carls.’

‘At last it’s not your wretched voicemail. How are you and where the hell are you?’ ‘I’m feeling surprisingly normal in the village of the totally insane. How about you and Fergus?’

‘Nick came round here last night. We didn’t tell him anything but he says he’s going to find you.’ Beth couldn’t help the feeling of ice fear that trickled through her body. Her mind flashed back to the night she left. Beth looked around her: another troop of Morris dancers was in the middle of the green hopping up and down as another group practised nearby. People were chatting and laughing and the sound filled the air. This was a world away from her London life; there was absolutely nothing here that could connect her to what she’d left behind. Despite the state of Willow Cottage it made sense to stay here for the time being.

‘He’ll never find me here.’

‘Where is here exactly?’

‘Dumbleford. It’s west of Stow-on-the-Wold.’

‘Sounds like place names from Narnia to me. What’s it like?’

‘The cottage I bought is practically a ruin, there’s a man living in my willow tree, the only person under fifty thinks I’m an idiot, everyone else is barking mad and today they are having a Morris dancing competition on the village green.’

‘Actually, I like the sound of that. The Morris dancing, not the rest of it.’

Beth lowered her voice and took a step back from Leo so he wouldn’t hear what she said. ‘Between you and me I think I may have made a huge mistake with the cottage. I’m speaking to the solicitor tomorrow to see what options I have. I’ll keep you posted.’

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe

The Silence Between BreathsThe Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Passengers boarding the 10.35 train from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston are bound for work, assignations, reunions, holidays or new starts, with no idea that their journey is about to be brutally curtailed. Holly has just landed her dream job, which should make life a lot easier than it has been, and Jeff is heading for his first ever work interview after months of unemployment. They end up sitting next to each other. Onboard customer service assistant Naz dreams of better things as he collects rubbish from the passengers. And among the others travelling are Nick with his young family who are driving him crazy; pensioner Meg and her partner setting off on a walking holiday and facing an uncertain future; Caroline, run ragged by the competing demands of her stroppy teenage children and her demented mother; and Rhona, unhappy at work and desperate to get home to her small daughter. And in the middle of the carriage sits Saheel, carrying a deadly rucksack ...

I had to leave writing this review for several days as I wanted to digest the impact that this made on me so that I could give a heartfelt review. I'm glad that I did this as the book was still as emotionally strong as it was when I finished it. Terrifyingly realistic and unfortunately breathtakingly plausible.

Essentially it's about 8 people who catch the 10.35 Manchester Piccadilly train bound for London Euston except that for me it was 9 people who boarded that train and I was the ninth passenger. You don't read this novel as a bystander you feel you are there taking that fateful journey with them and live to tell the tale that leaves the kind of stain that you will never get rid of. I know if I now make a train journey I will think of Naz, Holly, Jeff, Nick and Lisa with their two children, Meg, Caroline and Rhona along the way. There is also an interesting secondary character who is Saheel's (the terrorist) younger sister Kulsoom whose account that day and her actions back in Manchester does in some way humanise the terrorist for the reader and the impact it has on his own family.

It is a skillfully written stark tense novel that is topical of the day and a timely reminder of the world in which we live. As the 8 passengers are introduced to the reader they take on very real personas some I liked and some I wasn't too fond of. All the people travelling that day are taking that train for different reasons and we learn through the introductions just why they boarded that particular train again highlighting that sometimes things that happen are just fate and it reinforced that you can never know what's around the corner in life.

We are propelled through this novel at the speed of the train, moving ever closer to the inevitable as the train eats up the miles and our terrorist is becoming ever more jittery. Saheel is on the train with one intention and that is to blow it up along with himself for the sake of Allah and as the train enters a tunnel and slows down to stop he does just that. We know that some of the 8 people will not get out alive and the terrible injuries that the others suffer as a result of surviving are just horrific and once the bomb goes off that should be the end of this gripping novel but in a way it's just the beginning for those survivors who are facing a future that will be so different from their past.

It was a gripping read that sadly highlights our modern world and its' troubles in that terrorism is a daily reality and like it or not we are all part of that reality being caught up in a misguided ideology that has no winners in the end. Powerfully written but hard to read in parts as so poignant in places that the reality of the characters having to become collateral damage is hard to accept and too high a price to pay for these sense less acts of terrorism. I have to give this 5 stars for the beautifully crafted characterizations and of both points of view of the victims and the family of the terrorist - this novel will stay with me for a long time.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Love at the Italian lake with extract

Sophia Bertoni discovers her boyfriend in bed with another woman, and realizes her life is going nowhere. Leaving her high-pressure job, she travels to Italy to stay with her grandmother while she figures out her next move. When Sophia –​ quite literally –​ bumps into devastatingly handsome Joe Lancaster her plans are turned upside down.

 As the two realize they’re both spending the summer in the same town, a love affair seems on the cards. But Sophia and Joe are both burdened by family secrets. Despite their attraction, will the sun set on Sophia and Joe’s romance – or will they find love at the Italian lake?


Sophia checked her handbag again for the fiftieth time. Passport, purse and tickets were there just as they had been five minutes ago. Her stomach churned with nerves and she took a few deep breaths to try to release some of the tension. It wasn’t that she was nervous about flying, though. More that she was going away in the hope that being in different surroundings would help her to find a new direction in life. The lack of a more solid plan than this was actually terrifying, because Sophia had always had focus, always known her goals. So the fear in her belly was fear of the unknown.

Her mother and Kaisha had insisted on taking her shopping the previous weekend and it had been a learning curve for the usually clothes-cautious Sophia. Kaisha had asked her how much she had to spend on her getaway wardrobe and when Sophia had told her, Kaisha’s face had lit up. The first purchase Kaisha had encouraged her to make, a pair of oversized Chanel sunglasses with gold rims, had made Sophia giggle. Her usual sunglasses were smaller and selected not to attract any attention. But the size of the Chanel ones alone drew attention to her head. However, when she put them on, she was pleased to find that they suited her face shape and her mother told her they made her look like Sophia Loren.

Something about that compliment sparked something in Sophia and, with her mother and sister-in-law as cheerleaders, she spent a very happy day trawling the shops and splurging on a whole new wardrobe. After being accustomed to wearing her low-key work uniform of suits and blouses, and weekend casuals in beige and cream, trying on clothes that were colourful, daring and with significant price tags, was extremely liberating.

She peered out of the airplane window at the clouds and her eyes watered. It was so bright out there. Hopefully, it was a sign… that her future would also be bright, or at least that the weather was nice in Italy. She pressed her nails into her palms; she was being silly, looking for signs. She just needed to relax and enjoy whatever lay ahead. Be… what was it they
called it… more accepting? More… positive? Even if her new wardrobe did make her feel like she was a bit out of her comfort zone.

Also at Kaisha’s insistence, there had been the almost total body waxing, including her eyebrows. Sophia usually gave her legs and underarms a quick swipe over with a razor but when Kaisha had seen Sophia’s legs in the changing room, she’d immediately dragged Sophia off for emergency waxing. It had hurt like hell and Sophia swore she’d never put her flesh through such agony again. But afterwards, she did have to admit that her skin was extraordinarily smooth. And she liked the way that her new eyebrows framed her eyes so neatly. She’d been worried she’d end up looking completely surprised but the beautician had reassured her that she knew what she was doing. When it had come to permanent makeup though Sophia had refused, horrified at the idea – no matter how good Kaisha claimed permanent eyeliner was. They had reached a compromise by Sophia allowing herself to be talked into buying buy an extra three bikinis and her mother had been delighted.

Saying goodbye to her parents at the airport had been difficult, especially seeing the conflicting emotions war in her mother’s eyes because Sophia was going to visit her own mother. Sophia hadn’t seen her Italian nonna in about ten years. Her parents didn’t visit as often as they’d have liked because of the restaurant, but Sophia’s mother assured her that Nonna Spinoli was as fit and sprightly as ever. She refused to get involved in social media, but telephoned Sophia’s mother every week without fail to fill her in on the ins and outs of her life and those of her friends in the pretty town of Malcesine. What Sophia could recall of her grandmother was a strong dark-haired woman with a personality that filled every room she entered. Even as a child, Sophia had sensed that Nonna Spinoli’s presence had a significant impact upon her mother, and that her mother changed when Nonna was around. 

It was as if she shrunk like a flower in the too-hot sun, as if Nonna shone brightly enough for
the two of them. Perhaps that was another reason why her mother didn’t try to get over to Italy more often; she didn’t like to lose her identity as she seemed to around Nonna Spinoli.
Sophia’s ears popped and she realized that the plane had begun its descent. She held tightly onto her handbag and swallowed hard.

‘First time in Italy?’ the woman sat next to her asked, eyeing Sophia’s white knuckles.

‘No but I haven’t been out here for a while.’

The woman, who appeared to be about the same age as Sophia, nodded. ‘It’s beautiful. You’ll love it.’

‘I hope so.’

‘It’s the land of love and dreams.’ The woman smiled broadly. ‘You’ll find whatever it is you’re searching for here.’

About the Author :
Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

Friday, 11 August 2017

The Second Love of My Life by Victoria Walters

The Second Love of My LifeThe Second Love of My Life by Victoria Walters
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

In the Cornish town of Talting, everyone is famous for something.

Until recently Rose was known for many things: her infectious positivity; her unique artistic talent; and her devotion to childhood sweetheart Lucas.

But two years ago that changed in one unthinkable moment. Now, Rose is known for being the young woman who became a widow aged just twenty-four.

Though Rose knows that life must go on, the thought of carving out a new future for herself is one she can barely entertain. Until a newcomer, Robert, arrives in Talting for the summer...

Can Rose allow herself the chance to love again?

Get lost in Victoria Walters' immensely touching debut novel, and discover a world that will capture your imagination and heart.

Not a great novel from my point of view. Its about a woman called Rose who loses the love of her life Lucas in an accident. She know that she must go on but she's not sure she knows how. It is a typical fairy story with fairly tangible characters and a somewhat emotionally charged story line but it didn't really gel with me.

It was very predictable and lacked substance with no curve balls to keep the interest going. I did get a bit bored and confess to having skim read a lot of the book looking for something exciting to happen but it didn't.

I suppose it is an adequate holiday read but nothing exceptional and instantly forgettable. Sorry I can only give this 2 star rating.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The Silent Hours by Cesca Major

The Silent HoursThe Silent Hours by Cesca Major
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An epic, sweeping tale set in wartime France, The Silent Hours follows three people whose lives are bound together, before war tears them apart:

Adeline, a mute who takes refuge in a convent, haunted by memories of her past;

Sebastian, a young Jewish banker whose love for the beautiful Isabelle will change the course of his life dramatically;

Tristin, a nine-year-old boy, whose family moves from Paris to settle in a village that is seemingly untouched by war.

Beautifully wrought, utterly compelling and with a shocking true story at its core, The Silent Hours is an unforgettable portrayal of love and loss.

Based on a true story and set in war torn France this story is told through multiple viewpoints. Beginning in the 1950's it follows three people whose lives are bound together ; Adeline a mute who has taken refuge in a convent; Sebastian a Jewish banker who is desperately in love with Isabelle, and Tristan a nine year old boy who moves to the country from Paris and who can't understand why some of his classmates disappear. All these characters have through one reason or another found themselves in the small village of Oradour-sur-Glane in south west France.

Isabelle is waiting for her brother Paul to come home from the war and they write letters to each other while he is held prisoner when he is captured. She meets the young Sebastian and they fall in love. Tristan and his family also flee Paris to the relative safety of this small village and this is where he learns the horrors of war and finally grows up. The skillful writing uncovers the dreadful tragedies and hardships that this small village suffered during the war years and the knowledge that 642 men, women and children were massacred by Nazi soldiers really did happen leaves a lasting impact on the reader.

A powerful and moving account of a historical event bought back to life with vivid descriptions and often hard to read accounts of brutality at the hands of the Nazis. Has to have 5 stars

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 7 August 2017

The Dead Ground by Claire McGowan

The Dead Ground (Paula McGuire, #2)The Dead Ground by Claire McGowan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stolen. Missing. Dead...

Forensic psychologist Paula Maguire, already wrestling with the hardest decision of her life, is forced to put her own problems on hold when she's asked to help find a baby taken from a local hospital.

Then the brutal, ritualistic murder of a woman found lying on a remote stone circle indicates a connection to the kidnapping and Paula knows that they will have to move fast if they are to find the person responsible.

When another child is taken and a pregnant woman goes missing, Paula finds herself caught up in a deadly hunt for a killer determined to leave no trace, and discovers every decision she makes really is a matter of life and death...

No one is safe from the killer that waits at the dead ground.

Clever and compelling story line with enough twists and turns to keep you going to the end. This had a reasonably good pace and believable characters, peppered with Irish charm it made this crime thriller an absorbing read. The novel was billed as the last in the series and I had not read the previous two but felt that this was easily able to be a stand alone book as the characters were easy to identify with. Set in Ballyterrin on the Irish border Paula McGuire is a forensic psychologist the daughter of an ex policeman father who is living back home and working on a stolen baby case. Paula is still very much haunted by the disappearance of her own mother when she was 13 and at 30 she is still unable to form lasting relationships because of it.

Paula is a likeable character with a strength and vulnerability that make her instantly real. A modern novel, it makes full use of technology and social media platforms which will connect with a young readership. It was a good plot with enough twists to keep the interest alive until the reveal. A well deserved 4 stars for this entertaining novel and I have made a mental note to look out for Claire McGowan's next novel.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

#BigLittleLiesParty 31st July 2017

On Monday 31st of July I was lucky enough to be invited to the #BigLittleLiesParty by @HBO_UK. 

When I received the invitation I was really excited as this was going to be an event I could actually attend! Working as a teacher in a school it is very difficult for me to actually do anything during the week, unless the events are held at the weekend or during the school holidays I have to turn them down. 

Curious House garden, ready for yoga. 
Getting up relatively early for a Monday morning during the holiday, I made my way to the train station and headed up to London for the #BigLittleLiesParty launch, After wandering around a little lost once I got off the train I met Eliza from @relentromance we went into the event together and pretty much became firm friends 😊

Eliza and me just before Yoga
On arrival at Curious House, we were greeted by Juliana, who had organised the event and headed off to get changed ready for a morning filled of yoga with @kmyogakundalini. Looking out to the garden we were amazed at how beautiful the house and garden was. We were so lucky as the previous days were awful with torrential rain, this was the first nicest day we had, had in a while. 

I was a little apprehensive about the yoga, I had only done it once before and I wasn't very good at it, however Kathryn made it easy, there was lots of time to really think while stretching and it really helped to relax me. We had about an hour and a half of yoga, and while this sounds like a long time it flew by. I must admit though for a few days afterwards I really ached in places, I could feel where I had been stretching. 
Photo taken by Juliana
After yoga we had a quick bread, I headed off to get changed and grabbed a bottle of water before heading into the private screening of the first episode of Big Little Lies. I had already seen this episode, I watched it on sky when it very first came out, I never actually got round to watching the rest of them. (They were all stored up on my sky box to watch!) 

The screening of Big Little Lies was amazing, I really enjoyed watching the episode and to be honest I couldn't remember what happened in the episode anyway so it was like watching it for the first time. As soon as it finished I couldn't wait to get home and continue the series to binge watch it! 

When the episode finished we also watched behind the scenes footage about the characters, that was also interesting to watch. 

When we returned back to the kitchen there was an amazing spread of food ready for us, Kathryn gave us a quick healthy eating tips and reasons for eating certain foods, which was really interesting and made me look at certain foods differently now. The food was by Ottolenghi and we also had some organic wine courtesy of The Organic Wine Club.

I learnt alot about Organic wine and after tasting it would recommend it, after the event I actually popped out and grabbed a bottle of organic wine from the supermarket. Obviously this was not as good as the wine I tried at the event, however I would go to say I would only drink organic wine now. That morning after heady feel? Not present when drinking organic! 

After lunch we had some time to sit in the garden and enjoy each others company before we had a treatment of our choice.  I decided to choose a manicure, I am going on holiday next week and wanted to get my nails done for then. I could have chosen from a pedicure, manicure or massage. 

Milkbeautymaid were the people who arrived to give us our treatments. After chatting to my beautician and hearing about the company she works for I think it is amazing and if I lived in London I would certainly use them. They would be great for hen parties/baby showers or even for a girly night out! They arrive at your house/venue with all the equipment they need and provide treatments for you there. 

I decided to go for a pink colour, which is nice and summery and should go with everything!

Curious House Basement Bar
After that the event was drawing to a close and I wanted to get back before rush hour on the train, I thanked Summer (owner of Curious House) and Juliana for inviting me and headed back to the station with Eliza. As we were leaving Juliana gave us a goody bag each to take away with us. 

I had an absolute amazing day, it was all really well organised, in a stunning location and full of great company. 

After reflecting on the day I realise how it all linked and the fact it was so well thought out. In Big Little Lies the women go to yoga classes, they do seem to drink wine (a lot) and they eat healthily. I really enjoyed my time and feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to attend. 

Once again I would like to thank Juliana and everyone else involved to provide an amazing launch party for Big Little Lies. If you haven't read the book or seen the series, what are you waiting for? 

Goody Bag