Friday, 29 September 2017

Don't Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon

Don't Close Your EyesDon't Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Robin and Sarah weren't the closest of twins. They weren't even that similar. But they loved each other dearly. Until, in the cruellest of domestic twists, they were taken from one another.

Now, in her early 30s, Robin lives alone. Agoraphobic and suffering from panic attacks, she spends her days pacing the rooms of her house. The rest of the time she watches - watches the street, the houses, the neighbours. Until one day, she sees something she shouldn't...

And Sarah? Sarah got what she wanted - the good-looking man, the beautiful baby, the perfect home. But she's just been accused of the most terrible thing of all. She can't be around her new family until she has come to terms with something that happened a long time ago. And to do that, she needs to track down her twin sister.

But Sarah isn't the only person looking for Robin. As their paths intersect, something dangerous is set in motion, leading Robin and Sarah to fight for much more than their relationship...

This was the second Holly Seddon book I have read and I really enjoyed it.

We follow the story of two families who come together, in perhaps not a way you would expect. Robin and Sarah are twins and as a reader you jump back from the past to the present day to understand their lives and how they have become the people they are today. The format is of short chapters alternating between Sarah and Robin, to begin with I was so pleased there were short chapters, I thought this would allow me to dip in and out of the book easily, however this gave me that 'just one more chapter' feeling and I ended up staying up late at night to finish it.

I felt that I was living in the family with the twins and I felt the heartache they felt. I couldn't believe what I was reading at times and had no idea if that was me, how I would feel about it. I also enjoyed the side plot with Callum, their stepbrother.

I didn't guess most of the story, I had worked out what had happened to Sarah while she was in Atlanta before it happened, but I didn't see anything else coming. I think I was more shocked about Callum than I was by the twist at the end. I did feel a little let down at the end because of this, it had built so much memento and I thought something else was going to happen, which personally I think would have been more shocking. Don't get me wrong, it is a good book and if you like psychological thrillers you will enjoy this like me, but I thought it was a little underwhelming.

This book though is a quick read and one that I really enjoyed, I loved all the drama between the families and reading about their different lives. I felt that it was a book I could really get into, which I haven't been able to in a long while.

This is a good read and one you should give a go if thrillers are your thing, I am glad I had the opportunity to read it and I certainly would pick up more Seddon novels. For me the only thing letting it down was the ending, which is why I have given it 4* and not 5.

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

Thursday, 28 September 2017

The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry Blog tour with extract

The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane: The perfect feel-good read by [Berry, Ellen]

If you want to move forward, sometimes you have to go back …
Growing up in a Yorkshire village, Roxanne Cartwright couldn’t wait to escape and make her place in the world. Now, thirty years later, she’s a fashion editor living a glamorous life of perennial singlehood in London – or so it seems to her sister Della. But when Roxanne finds her career under threat, she feels herself pulled back to the quiet village she’d been so desperate to leave.

As Roxanne reacquaints herself with life on Rosemary Lane, she slowly makes a surprising discovery: the people who live in Burley Bridge are, well, just people – different from the fashion set she’s used to, but kind and even interesting. Michael, a single dad trying to make a go of a small bakery, particularly so. Little by little, cupcake by cupcake, Roxanne and Michael fall into an unexpected friendship.

Could there be a life for Roxanne after all, in the place she’s spent years trying to escape.


Extract Fourteen from Chapter Four, pp 58-60

‘I’m-fine-honestly,’ she barked, causing Tristan to spin his head around from the art department. Roxanne started rummaging in her top desk drawer, not because she needed anything but to give herself something to do. Like the top of her desk, it was a terrible tip. She delved amongst staplers, rolls of Sellotape, parcel labels, bulldog clips, cans of hairspray, notebooks and lip balms in a cacophony of flavours, willing Serena to stop giving her sympathetic glances, and wishing everyone would just leave her be.

Roxanne wasn’t sure she could handle anyone being kind to her right now. She thought again of that time with the fish slice, when her mother had smacked her upper arm: it wasn’t the actual event itself that had triggered her tears. It had been later, when she’d run out of Rosemary Cottage and up into the hills by herself, and had happened to come across Len from the garage with his wife, Pat, and their two young children. They were out with their dogs and had beckoned her over to join them.

Hey, what’s happened, Roxy? You look all upset!

People had called her ‘Roxy’ then. Not anymore; she had cast that off like an unwanted jacket when she’d moved to London. Pat had hugged her, and that’s when the tears had flowed.

Roxanne shut her desk drawer, delved into her bag and pulled out the small notebook in which she wrote copious to-do lists. There was tons to get on with, and keeping busy would at least get her through the rest of the day. She had a shoot coming up and she needed to call in clothes and accessories from fashion PRs, as well as trawling her favourite vintage shops for quirkier pieces. She wanted to book a new model – a fresh face – rather than one of her regular girls, which meant arranging a casting. Plus, there were Kate and Serena’s shoots to oversee, and a whole raft of product launches Roxanne should show her face at over the coming week.

She made a barrage of calls until lunchtime rolled around, at which point she grabbed her bag and darted out of the office before anyone could ask to join her.

On a bench in Golden Square, clutching a chicken sandwich she didn’t want, she called Sean.

‘Oh, darling,’ he said, when she’d splurged what had happened. ‘Tina Court! She’s meant to be a bit of a terrier . . .’

‘You know her?’

‘Just in passing. We haven’t worked together. So, what’re you going to do?’ ‘Nothing. I mean, what can I do? Marsha’s within her rights to bring in whoever she wants . . .’

Sean sighed. ‘Just sit tight, darling, and see how things pan out.’

‘Yes, I will. Sorry to land all of this on you. I know you’re busy shooting today—’

‘Hey, I’m okay for a couple of minutes,’ he said gently.

She cleared her throat. ‘Pringles all ready?’


‘For the party,’ she prompted him.

‘Oh. Haha – well, Louie’s been onto the caterers. Foie gras lollipops! I don’t think so . . .’

About The Author

Ellen Berry is an author and magazine journalist. Originally from rural West Yorkshire, she has three teenage children and lives with her husband and their daughter in Glasgow. When she’s not writing, she loves to cook and browse her vast collection of cookbooks, which is how the idea for this story came about. However, she remains the world’s worst baker but tends to blame her failures on ‘the oven’.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Close To Me by Amanda Reynolds

Close To MeClose To Me by Amanda Reynolds
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia - she's lost a whole year of memories.

A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?

She can't remember what she did - or what happened the night she fell.

But she's beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.

It starts off quite promising, an accident that results in the memory loss of the past year for Jo Harding and the struggle to find the missing pieces. Her husband appears to want to keep her from getting her memory back and this provides the intrigue, what is he hiding, did he push her down the stairs and if so why? The chapters alternate between before and after the fall so we are able to piece together what leads up to the accident.

I wasn't really engaged with any of the characters they all seemed flat and under developed. Jo struggles with her memory and conscience as she wonders if she was having an affair or perhaps he was. She is also confused as to what has happened to both her daughter Sash and her son Fin - Fin appears to have been to university for a year and suddenly he's dropped out without any real explanation. Sash has hooked up with an older, and to Jo's mind, undesirable man and appears to have completely changed, her appearance, who she is etc. As the story unfolds we learn lies, secrets and betrayals within this dysfunctional family.

I didn't warm to the characters or even like them much although they are fairly believable they were not developed enough to connect with. The pace of the story does ebb and flow a bit, I did skim read some of the chapters as they were repetitive. The subject matter was promising and the book could have been so much better in my opinion that it was, it was for me a bit disappointing. I did also guess the ending so it was not unpredictable at all, I kept waiting for a killer twist but there wasn't any. It was a passable novel, nothing special and not really very memorable - can only give this 3 stars.

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

Monday, 25 September 2017

When My Ship Comes In by Sue Wilsher

When My Ship Comes InWhen My Ship Comes In by Sue Wilsher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Keep the family together, that's what her old mum always said. Put up and shut up. And that's what everyone else did around there.

Essex, 1959. Flo earns her money as a scrubber, cleaning the cruise ships and dreaming of a day when she might sail away from her life in the Dwellings, the squalid tenements of Tilbury docks. Then the Blundell family are evicted from their home.

Fred, Flo's husband, finds work at Monday's, a utopian factory town. Suddenly, it seems like everything is on the up for Flo Blundell and her children. Even Jeanie, Flo's sulking teenage daughter, seems to be thawing a little in her shiny new surroundings.

But when Flo's abusive husband Fred starts drinking again, he jeopardises the family's chance to escape poverty for good.

Flo is faced with a terrible decision. Must she fight to keep her family together? Or could she strive for the life of her dreams - the kind of life she could have when her ship comes in?

Set in 1959 in London Tilbury Docks this is a novel about Flo Blundell and her family and her dreams of a better life for them all. Her husband Fred is a drinker and when they are evicted from their home he finds work at Monday's a factory town. They then seem to be on the 'up' and life is getting better for them, trouble is not far away when Fred starts drinking again and becoming abusive and his behaviour threatens all they have gained. Woman in the 50's had a hard life, they married forever and found it difficult to break away from abusive husbands or to be able to make a life without a man. Flo has a choice to stay and try to keep her family together at the expense of her own happiness or to follow her dreams. Flo has the perfect chance to escape, she is a cleaner on cruise ships bound for Australia and it's not long before she dreams of escaping on one of them to start her life overseas. Inevitably she has to make a choice for herself and her children and she does what she has to do.

Good characterisation, very atmospheric and also portrayed well what life was like at the end of the war for women and also for the men who were lucky to come home alive but were scarred by war. A good 4 star read.

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

Friday, 22 September 2017

The Captain's Girl by Nicola Pryce

The Captain's GirlThe Captain's Girl by Nicola Pryce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cornwall 1793 - As the French Revolution threatens the stability of England, so too is discontent brewing in the heart of Celia Cavendish. Promised to the brutal Viscount Vallenforth, she must find a way to break free from the bounds of a life stifled by convention and cruelty.

Inspired by her cousin Arbella, who just a few months earlier followed her heart and eloped with the man she loved, she vows to escape her impending marriage and take her destiny back into her own hands. She enlists her neighbours, Sir James and Lady Polcarrow, who have themselves made a dangerous enemy of Celia's father, in the hope of making a new life for herself.

But can the Polcarrows' mysterious friend Arnaud, captain of the cutter L'Aigrette, protect Celia from a man who will let nothing stand in the way of his greed? And will Arnaud himself prove to be friend... or foe?

Set in Cornwall in 1793 with the backdrop of the French Revolution this has more than an passing resemblance to the Poldark series. Vividly atmospheric describing the harsh often unforgiving Cornish coastline I could picture Demelza staring out to sea waiting for Ross to come back from France.

After reading this book I discovered that this was the second book in a series, this didn't matter, you can read these both stand alone I believe and the fact I hadn't read the first didn't stop me enjoying this one.

The heroine if you will is Celia Cavendish who has been promised in marriage to Viscount Vallenforth a brutal and cruel man who she vows to run from. With the help of her neighbours Sir James and Lady Polcarrow and their friend Captain Arnaud they plot to help her get away. Good believable characters of the time, lovely atmospheric scene setting (I could almost feel the salty sea spray in my face) and nicely constructed story.

Not a fan normally of historical novels but I do have an affinity with Cornwall so this kept me happy. A good read - 4 stars I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

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.