Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Bind (Donovan Dynasty) by Sierra Cartwright

"Only one man can help her. Is she willing to pay his price?

Faced with the potentially overwhelming loss of her familyís fortune, Lara Bertrand turns to the one man who can help her, the gorgeous and powerful Connor Donovan.

She knows heís dangerous to her on every level. Only desperation would drive her to make such a risky proposition. After all, she knows all about his ruthless nature and relentless determination to succeed.

When the classy, elegant Lara walks into his office with an outrageous proposal, Connor is stunned and more than a little intrigued. Ever since he first met her, heís been attracted to the cool beauty, but sheís more than kept her distance.

Connor is absolutely willing to help her out. For a price. He not only wants her hand in marriage, but also her total submissive surrender."



I cannot compare this to Fifty Shades as I must be one of the only women in the country not to have read it, but the cover states that it is even racier than Fifty Shades.  I cannot argue that it is racy; it will certainly get your pulse racing.

The story itself is actually a great story.  Set in the business world, the plot is intruiging and I was genuinely interested in the characters and where they ended up.  Those characters and the relationship they have, the chemistry between them, is absolutely captivating.  The actual relationship and feelings that are on show in this book are the sort of thing that many people will think only exists in dreams or fairytales, but find the right man and you realise that this kind of thing actually exists in real life.  Whether you're in that place or single and think you might be looking for that place, it will be equally enjoyable to delve into the lives of Lara and Connor and watch as their relationship becomes something which neither of them expected.  A classic "when you least expect it" story.

I also liked the family dynamics that you see throughout this book.  The whole premise is based on relationships and it works incredibly well. 

A captivating read, believable characters that you instantly warm to and some seriously sexy bedroom (or other room) scenes.  A winning combination.

I had not read anything by Sierra Cartwright before but I definitely would again.  This book is the first in a series following the Donovan brothers, however, I'm certain they will work as standalone books.

As a little treat, Sierra has written about 'The Books That Inspire Me' just for you.  I hope you enjoy:

There’s never been a time I didn’t read, but the very first book I remember reading by myself is What Katy Did Next by Susan Coolidge. I can’t honestly remember many of the details, but the feelings the book inspired still linger. I was a young girl in England when I read the novel, and so Katy as an American visiting England was fun for me. I remember raptly following her journey to the Continent. And I certainly hoped she’d end up with Ned. I think the groundwork for being in love with romances goes that far back!

When I moved to the States, I signed up for a library card, and every summer I entered the reading challenge program. As I recall, we received awards for each ten books read. I made it a point to earn more certificates than anyone else. I went through the entire Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mystery series one year before being turned on to science fiction. I became a fan of Ben Bova. And of course, because I was competitive, I took home anything I could get my hands on. A book that lingers forever, though, was a non-fiction title that has remained with me forever, The Diary of Anne Frank. I think that’s the book that also made me realize that biographies could be every

One Christmas as a pre-teen, my parents bought me an entire collection of Star Trek books. Over the holiday break, I read them. Which meant I devoured more than one novel per day. Those paperback wonders provided the inspiration for the very first big book I penned—a 123-page handwritten tome. Back then, I had no idea it was considered fanfiction. I just knew I was inspired to stay up late at night, drinking coffee, even though my father insisted it would stunt my growth! Since I’m not quite five-feet tall, his dire warnings were quite possibly correct.

From there I moved on to Harlequin novels, little dreaming that I would go on to sell nine books to them. I’ll never forget a Greek pagan Harlequin Presents hero who was described as having a patrician nose. Harlequin and their heroes, one in particular who drove a Mercedes Benz sports car, ruined me for regular men!

One book I fell in love with as a young adult was Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught. It turns out I was captivated enough that I named my daughter after the heroine. In one memorable scene, I recall Whitney, the heroine, riding standing up on the back of a horse. My Miss Whit, aged two, was caught riding her rocking horse, standing on the top instead of sitting in the saddle. As William Shakespeare famously asked, “What’s in a name?”

I continue to have my breath taken away by some fabulous books. I often read thrillers when I travel. Two auto-buys are Lee Child and Harlan Coben. I’ll read anything they write. I love the way my pulse races as the protagonists race against the clock and unravel a complex mystery. I’ll admit, I do root for Reacher to fall in love, though.

No matter what I reach for in my free time, I know I’m going to be transported to a new world where I’ll fall in love. In some way, I’ll be transformed. And I’ll be a better person for it.

BIND is out NOW and can be purchased here.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Resurgence by Kerry Wilkinson (Silver Blackthorn Trilogy, Book #3)

"Following Reckoning and Renegade, Resurgence is the thrilling conclusion to Kerry Wilkinson's heartstopping Silver Blackthorn Trilogy.
'Can I ask you one thing...why does it have to be you?'
My throat is dry but I manage to say the words clearly enough: 'If I don't do it, who else will?'
An entire country has been lied to. Silver Blackthorn was supposed to be one of the privileged few, chosen to serve and help rebuild a shattered nation. Instead she has been forced to become a rebel.
Tales of her defiance have spread throughout the land. King Victor and the Minister Prime want her dead; the resistance groups are desperate for her help.
Silver's friends and family are in dire jeopardy - hiding is no longer an option. As her travels take her into the furthest reaches of an unknown land, she is forced to make new friends and hunt for new allegiances.
Final battle lines are being drawn. The time has come.
And then there's the hardest choice of all: Opie or Imrin?"


Another whole year I had to wait to find out what happens to Silver Blackthorn and her friends and it was totally worth it.  As always with trilogy books, it takes me a little while to settle back in and get my bearings having had to wait for a whole year.  As before, I always think it would be a good idea to read the previous book in the trilogy only to leave it too late and have the newest book arrive and then I can't bring myself to wait any longer.

Once I had settled back into the book, I raced through it, desperate to know what happens.  It really felt like I'd never been away, the storyline and pace picks up just as though it was yesterday that I last read Renegade.  

As expected, fans of Silver Blackthorn will find this book emotional as Silver's path runs far from smoothly.  It is lovely to see all Silver's comrades back, although be prepared to lose some along the way.  

As with the first two books, fans of The Hunger Games will love this.  There are plenty of twists and turns to keep fans guessing what will happen to Silver.

I loved reading the afterword from Kerry Wilkinson and finding out that the ending was the only one ever planned right from the very start.  I love that!

An excellent YA trilogy which was well worth the wait! If you haven't started it yet, I envy you as you'll be able to read all three in one go and I bet you will, as you won't be able to put them down!

Resurgence is out NOW and available to buy here.

And as part of the blog tour, a nice little treat for fans of Kerry Wilkinson who tells us about his five favourite fictional heroines:

DOROTHY GALE
My favourite thing about Dorothy’s escapades in The Wizard of Oz is that she’s clearly the baddie. She starts her killing spree the moment she gets to Oz, her house crushing an innocent ‘witch’ who was going about her business. Probably on the way to Tesco, or something. When interrogated as to whether she’s a witch, Dorothy says she can’t be – because she’s too young and good-looking.
She’s an ageist and massive narcissist who believes attractive people are naturally good, and she celebrates this by having a group of little people – munchkins – put on some sort of weird dance for her. If that’s not enough, she then taunts the (so-called) ‘Wicked’ Witch of the West about killing her sister and steals the dead woman’s shoes.
Instead of returning the shoes, Dorothy later murders the ‘Wicked’ Witch by throwing water on her, which is an over-reaction to say the least. This is family genocide! She then steals the witch’s broomstick just because she can.
She has no control over her dog, endangering the wizard’s return to Kansas because Toto leaps out of the balloon. Dorothy also gets a scarecrow, tin man and lion to do her dirty work. PETA should have a word. After all the chaos she’s created in Oz, she then clicks her heels and sods off home.
There’s something about being an evil psychopath masquerading as a do-gooder that I find intrinsically pleasing.

CJ CREGG
The West Wing is one of my favourite shows of all time – and at its absolute core is perhaps the strongest female lead TV has seen. CJ is consistently the smartest person in a room of very smart people. She doesn’t enrapture the others around her with bimbo-esque giggles and skimpy clothes; she does it through intelligence and wit.
She’s once asked, ‘What are you wearing?’, by a reporter and replies, ‘A dress’. She doesn’t need saving by any of the characters and, instead, is frequently their saviour. The best thing about the character is that she doesn’t need other characters to point at her and say, ‘she’s smart’. This is a conclusion that viewers can figure out for themselves simply by watching. The fact Allison Janney won four Emmys for her portrayal of CJ should give you a clue as to how great both she and the character is. 

JESSICA JONES
Before the success of the Netflix TV show, Jessica was the star of her own very adult-themed comic, named ‘Alias’. She was the hard-drinking, arse-kicking female superhero before it was cool to be any of those things. Beyond that, however, I always enjoyed the smaller stories, specifically the Come Home arc.
It’s set in a small American town, think high-school-where-everyone-knows-everyone-else; a church where they are all judged on a Sunday. There’s a sheriff and a reporter and they’re all looking for a missing teen, suspected of being a mutant. There are other things going on in the town, too – but I love the idea of someone with superpowers being involved in something that’s seemingly so tiny.
For me, the television show never quite got there – but this is my favourite iteration of Jessica. I can go back to that story again and again.

REY
Every list like this needs an up-to-date entry – and I love Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Critics can say it’s a remake of the first movie or whine about other plot points but I DON’T CARE. I saw it on the day it came out in a packed cinema and then again a couple of days later. I’ll keep watching it for many reasons, one of which is that Rey is such a terrific heroine.
I love that she doesn’t need, or want, Finn to save her (‘I know how to run without you holding my hand’; that she can fly the ‘trash’ Millennium Falcon as well as anyone; can wield a lightsaber; scavenge; look after herself – and everything else.
I get that critics say she’s a ‘Mary Sue’ character – an idealised female – but we’ve only seen part of her story so far, so let’s wait and see how it all pans out, yeah? Plus, no one bats an eyelid when male leads are seemingly great at everything . . .

MICHONNE
One of the biggest disappointments of The Walking Dead TV show is that Michonne has been sort of forgotten by the writers. While Carol and Maggie have been given plenty to do, Michonne is on the sidelines, looking badass but rarely getting in on the action.
In the comics, Michonne is the character on whom everyone can rely. I don’t want to spoil much – but she has a better revenge on The Governor than ever happens on-screen, plus she has her own storylines. After 130-odd issues featuring her, she is still a key part of the plot – and long may that continue.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Don't Be Afraid by Daniela Sacerdoti

"When you've forgotten how to live, help can arrive in mysterious ways...

Successful artist Isabel Ramsay has never come to terms with the tragic death of her mother. Haunted by what happened, Isabel finds her own life spiralling out of control until, one winter's day, she gives up, unable to bear the pain of living any longer. Yet somehow she wakes up, remembering a vision of a mysterious woman who has saved her. But alone in a locked house, surely that's impossible?

With her family and friends worried out of their minds, her husband Angus finds a companion to watch over Isabel while he's away from home. Warm, wise Clara can connect with Isabel in a way no one else can, helping her face up to her painful past, rediscover her passion for art and become brave enough to live her life again. But there s a mystery surrounding Clara: who is she, and why does Isabel feel she's known her all her life?

Don't Be Afraid is a beautiful, life-affirming story of how even the most difficult struggles can be overcome and how help can arrive in mysterious ways."


As I write this, it has been four years since I first discovered Daniela Sacerdoti, all because I won a competition hosted by Shaz at Jera's Jamboree.  Looking back at my initial review, posted here, it has been almost four years to the day since I first reviewed Watch Over Me, my first Daniela Sacerdoti book.  That book, its characters and the setting still stay with me to this day as being one of the most beautiful books written and one of my absolute favourites of all time.  

Since then, readers have had the delight of revisiting Glen Avich twice more - in Take Me Home and Set Me Free.  Now, once again, we get to go back and revisit the people and place so many of us have come to love in Don't Be Afraid.

The Glen Avich books are like building blocks. Although each of them could definitely be read as standalone books, as a set each new one that comes along adds another layer to the story.  There will always be references to characters you have seen before.  No matter how small those references, they brighten the book as you get to glimpse what has become of those characters you loved so intensely once upon a time.

Don't Be Afraid is the story of Isabel, who is a character which we have met before.  Time has moved on and Isabel is suffering in a way she feels nobody around her can understand and in a way that makes her do things which will hurt those she loves so immensely.  Don't Be Afraid intensely focuses on Isabel and how her mental illness impacts the lives of those around her; her husband, her brother-in-law (Torcuil, who we also know from previous books) and Margherita (the focus of Set Me Free).

Dani continues to write in her unique style which, in my opinion, sets her books out from any other of the same genre.  As always, there is a paranormal element which adds to the magic of the story and is carried off so well in a way only Dani seems to be able to manage.  I have to admit that, on this occasion, I guessed Clara's 'secret' long before it was revealed but this absolutely didn't take anything away from it for me and made no absolutely no difference to how I felt about the story.

Don't be fooled, Don't Be Afraid, is not a book that will leave you feeling depressed.  The subject of depression and mental illness is handled exceptionally well, although I don't feel that Dani held back. Ultimately it is a story of a man fighting to save the woman he loves and a woman fighting to stay afloat.  It is uplifting and it is full of hope and magic.  

Don't Be Afraid is out now and at the time of writing, only 59p on kindle as an introductory price (what an absolute bargain!!!).  You can grab yourself a copy here:


            

Alternatively, you could have a go at winning yourself a copy.  As a celebration of the last stop of the Don't Be Afraid blog tour, Black and White Publishing have one copy of Don't Be Afraid up for grabs.  Just click here to enter the competition.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper by Debbie Johnson

"You’ve seen Mark Darcy in the reindeer jumper his mother gave him, now meet Marco Cavelli in this season’s Christmas knit!
For single mum Maggie, Christmas has always been a family occasion – her daughter Ellen filling the house with her bubbly warmth and mistletoe, her dad Paddy having one too many festive tipples, and the traditional family Christmas tree looking like a drunken elf vomited a rainbow all over it.
But this year, with both Ellen and Paddy away for the holidays, Maggie’s facing a truly blue Christmas – alone with nothing but a bottle of Baileys and an M&S turkey dinner.
Until walking the snowy streets of Oxford, Marco Cavelli quite literally crashes into her life – and, complete with broken leg, becomes her unexpected houseguest. All dreamy brown eyes and 6’5” of gorgeousness, the man is hotter and more delicious than a freshly baked mince pie.
Though Maggie always thought it’s a truth universally acknowledged that you never kiss a man in a Christmas jumper?"

Having adored Debbie Johnson's Cold Feet last Christmas (review here), I was delighted to be offered the chance to read Debbie's latest offering.  Debbie Johnson is back with a vengeance so I was far from disappointed.  I had not realised that we were going to get to meet some old friends as well as new ones and this made my day!  In Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper, we get a visit from Rob and Leah, and Rob's twin brother Marco.  
Christmas really did come early, as Marco is just as delightful as Rob was in Cold Feet.  Absolutely delighted I was.  Having left Cold Feet wondering if any man could ever come close to Rob, I have discovered that his twin brother Marco can.  Debbie, please tell me that Rob and Marco have a mysterious and long lost triplet who is desperate to meet a girl called Kirsty....
Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper is a story of fate, love and learning to let your barriers down and let people get close to you.  I was instantly addicted and fell back into the utter adoration that Debbie creates so effortlessly.  My heart longed for Marco to crash through Maggie's barriers (in a similar way to the way he came crashing into her life) and drag her into his hospital bed.
Debbie has the most incredible way with words; she creates the sort of chemistry on a page that most of us can only dream of.  The story itself is genuinely really different - it is simple yet effective; it would make a cracking Christmas movie!
My only complaint is that it was over far too soon and as usual, Debbie leaves me longing for more!  Who needs Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy this Christmas when you can have Marco and Maggie.  

Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper is out NOW and I highly recommend you get yourself a copy in time for Christmas and a copy for every book lover you know:
        

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Little Beach Street Bakery and Summer at the Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Little Beach Street Bakery

"Polly Waterford is recovering from a toxic relationship. Unable to afford their flat, she has to move miles away from everyone, to a sleepy little seaside resort in Cornwall, where she lives alone above an abandoned shop.
And so Polly takes out her frustrations on her favourite hobby: making bread. But what was previously a weekend diversion suddenly becomes far more important as she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, and each loaf becomes better and better. With nuts and seeds, olives and chorizo, with local honey (courtesy of local bee keeper, Huckle), and with reserves of determination and creativity Polly never knew she had, she bakes and bakes and bakes . . . And people start to hear about it. 
Sometimes, bread really is life . . . And Polly is about to reclaim hers."



Summer at the Little Beach Street Bakery

"Summer has arrived in the Cornish town of Mount Polbearne and Polly Waterford couldn't be happier. Because Polly is in love: she's in love with the beautiful seaside town she calls home, she's in love with running the bakery on Beach Street, and she's in love with her boyfriend, Huckle. 
And yet there's something unsettling about the gentle summer breeze that's floating through town. Selina, recently widowed, hopes that moving to Mount Polbearne will ease her grief, but Polly has a secret that could destroy her friend's fragile recovery. Responsibilities that Huckle thought he'd left behind are back and Polly finds it hard to cope with his increasingly long periods of absence. 
Polly sifts flour, kneads dough and bakes bread, but nothing can calm the storm she knows is coming: is Polly about to lose everything she loves?"



I started to read the Little Beach Street Bakery and it instantly became apparent that there was a first book.  I wanted desperately to read it first, for fear of missing out on anything really, and I am so glad that I did.  The Little Beach Street Bakery allows you to fall in love over and over again and it is one of my favourites of 2015!  Although not necessary, I would really recommend reading the books in order rather than delving straight into the most recent.

Jenny Colgan transports you instantly to every location of these books; the imagery is fantastic.  I loved the very first puffin scene more than anything and they just get cuter and cuter.  

I have to admit, I think I preferred Little Beach Street Bakery as it was so special.  However, it was lovely to catch up with Polly and the others in the follow up.  The trouble with reading one straight after the other is the second book does have quite a lot of 'repeats' as Jenny makes sure you haven't missed out on anything if you haven't read the first book or gives you a gentle reminder if its been a while since you read the first.  I found this slowed the pace down slightly, detracting from the enjoyment to a degree as it interrupts you immersing yourself in the story.

Having read both Little Beach Street Bakery and Summer at the Little Beach Street Bakery, I feel like I have lived a whole lifetime with Polly but it simply isn't enough.  I miss her, I miss Neil, I miss Polbearne....Jenny, can we have a return visit anytime soon?

A magical book, packed full of sadness and hope and reasons to live your dream... These books would make lovely relaxing holiday reads!

Both Little Beach Street Bakery and Summer at the Little Beach Street Bakery are out now.  You can grab yourself copies here:

         


      

Friday, 2 October 2015

Love You Better by Natalie K Martin

"After a soul-destroying breakup with her ex, Smith, Effie Abbott has met the man of her dreams. She’s had the whirlwind romance and the fairy-tale wedding to the charming and suave Oliver Barton-Cole, and life seems firmly back on track.

Things were never simple between Smith and Effie, so when he forces his way back into her life, Effie knows he’s a complication she doesn’t want or need. After all, she has Oliver, a man who loves her better than Smith ever did.

But when cracks in her marriage begin to emerge and Oliver shows flashes of a darker side, Effie has to question just how well she really knows her husband, and whether Smith is back to derail her seemingly perfect marriage or save her from it."




Love You Better is a light read, despite its serious undertones, which I read in one sitting.  It was an enjoyable book, although I have to admit that I enjoyed the latter part more than the beginning which I found slightly repetitive and laboured in places, as various points are covered and then reinforced for the reader on more than one occasion and to be honest they were drilled home more than I would have liked.

The book tackles domestic violence and I thought it was well covered.  It also deals with a difficult mother-daughter relationship, growing up in unconventional places and without a father and the mistakes that people make as they grow up even when they are truly in love.  True love is never easy but how well can you ever really know someone?

I particularly loved the relationship between Effie and Smith from the moment Smith stepped onto the page and this really made the book what it was for me.    I also really enjoyed the bonding which Effie and her mother finally get to do.

Love You Better might not be the most unpredictable book ever; for me, the ending was inevitable, but it was an ending which I enjoyed revelling in when it arrived.  A promising romantic tale from Natalie K Martin.

Thank you to Leanne at Midas PR and Lake Union Publishing for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Love You Better was released on 1 October and is available to buy now:



         

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Lake by Sheena Lambert

"A gripping murder mystery, with a compelling family drama at its heart.


September 1975.


A body is discovered in the receding waters of a manmade lake, and for Peggy Casey, 23-year-old landlady of The Angler’s Rest, nothing will ever be the same.

Detective Sergeant Frank Ryan is dispatched from Dublin, and his arrival casts an uneasy spotlight on the damaged history of the valley, and on the difficult relationships that bind Peggy and her three older siblings.

Over the course of the weekend, Detective Ryan’s investigation will not only uncover the terrible truth behind the dead woman’s fate, but will also expose the Casey family’s deepest secrets.

Secrets never meant to be revealed."


The Lake is gripping in an understated sort of way; I knew there is a mystery that needed unraveling and I knew what that mystery was but that was where the clues ended.  The interactions between the characters kept me interested but it was not until the shocking outcome was revealed that I realised I had travelled from A to B without even knowing how I had gotten there.  

This is not the sort of murder mystery where you are constantly watching for clues that the author might choose to drip feed you.  Instead, you get totally caught up in the lives and dramas of the Casey family and the mystery body and the murder investigation takes second place to the lives of the people of Crumm.  

Lambert portrays rural Ireland well and I felt like I had been in the pub with Peggy and her three older siblings and taken a walk down to the lake with Detective Ryan myself.

The Lake is only a short book but it is special.  In the same way that Ireland grasps the hearts of those with Irish blood in their veins - you step off the plane and instantly feel like you're home and feel like you have never been away regardless of how long you are been gone - The Lake has that comforting feeling of familiarity.  I didn't feel like I had to get to know the characters but felt immediately at home in their presence.  

It takes some special writing to pull off a novel set over the course of a long weekend and set almost entirely in the pub but Sheena Lambert manages it with complete and utter ease.  I look forward to reading more of Sheena Lambert in the future!

Thank you again to Margaret Madden of Bleach House Library for the chance to discover Sheena Lambert and a special thank you to Sheena Lambert for doubling the prize by sending me a copy of two of your books and then adding an extra sparkle of magic by signing them both!

The Lake is out now and you can purchase it here (prices correct at time of writing:


          

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Letting You Go by Anouska Knight

"What if a tragedy occurred and you only had yourself to blame? How do you move on from the past?

Alex Foster lives a quiet life, avoiding the home she hasn’t visited in eight years. Then her sister Jaime calls. Their mother is sick, and Alex must return. Suddenly she’s plunged back into the past she’s been trying to escape.

Returning to her hometown, memories of the tragic accident that has haunted her and her family are impossible to ignore. Alex still blames herself for what happened to her brother and it’s soon clear that her father holds her responsible too. As Alex struggles to cope, can she ever escape the ghosts of the past?"


I absolutely adored this book.  It reminded me somewhat of The Little Flower Shop by the Sea by Ali McNamara as both books have a young woman returning  to a place from her past which not only is tinged by tragedy but has also haunted them ever since they left.

When Alex hears the news of her mother's ill health, she realises that she has no option but to face her past.  Now, whilst Alex's past is not a walk in the park, there is a part of it which is absolutely dreamy...From the moment Finn stepped onto the page, I found myself with a massive grin on my face.

Yet, at the same time, this book is packed full of sadness.  I loved the variety of characters which we met along the way (especially the little ones!) and it had me blubbing away like a baby on more than one occasion.  

It rapidly became clear that the Foster family have bundles of secrets, straining to get out.  Now, whilst they appear obvious to the reader (and so this is not the sort of book that will keep you totally in the dark until the very end) not everything might be as it first seems and even if it is, it is a fabulous journey to be taken on, even if you do end up where you assumed you would.

The epilogue was my absolute favourite epilogue ever; what an absolutely perfect ending to an absolutely fabulous book.

Thank you to Eve Wersocki at Midas PR for the review copy of Letting You Go; an absolute stunner.  Letting You Go is out now and, along with Lorraine Kelly, I highly recommend you get yourself a copy, which you can buy from Amazon here:


       

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Little Girl Gone by Alexandra Burt

"**Get ready for the next ‘must-have’ on your reading list. GONE GIRL meets THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN in this stunning, unsettling psychological thriller.**

A baby goes missing. But does her mother want her back?


When Estelle’s baby daughter is taken from her cot, she doesn’t report her missing. Days later, Estelle is found in a wrecked car, with a wound to her head and no memory.

Estelle knows she holds the key to what happened that night – but what she doesn’t know is whether she was responsible…"


Publishers are starting to bat around the comparisons to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train like there is no tomorrow, and it is a dangerous game to play.  However, on this occasion, it works as this book is absolutely up there with the best.  

I devoured Little Girl Gone as quickly as I could.  I started to read it on my commute to work, and suddenly going to work became really inconvenient as I couldn't pick the book up again until I commuted home again! 

Little Girl Gone is addictive from the very start and that addictiveness is maintained for the most part throughout, in a way that other books of this genre do not necessarily manage.  For example, I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (which I loved and highly recommend) was gripping at the start but then lets the reader take a step back for some time before the first twist hits you in the face.  However, Little Girl Gone never lets up on the grip that it has on you; I had absolutely no idea who I could trust or where this story was going to end up and must have changed my mind a hundred times as to what I thought was going to happen.  

There was a part towards the middle of the book where the addictiveness loosened its grasp on me as frustration started to creep in.  Frustration that I was so much further forward in the book but seemed to have made no progress whatsoever as to what happened on the night that Mia went missing.  Just when you think you can't take the tension and suspense anymore, things start to unravel but are those things true or are they figments of Estelle's imagination?

Little Girl Gone reminded me in a way of The Spider in the Corner of the Room by Nikki Owen, as it left me without an inkling as to whether what I was hearing from Estelle was the scary truth or pure fiction.

An incredibly well written book from Alexandra Burt and a debut - how does she do it!  The characters are perfect; a sleep-deprived mother left to cope by herself whilst a distant father tries to make enough money to keep the family afloat.  The judgmental strangers around her as her newborn baby cries in a way that babies do; without reason and without any known cure.  Is the mother as sane as any new mother can be or is she as crazy as everyone thinks?

You'll have to read the book to find out for yourself - #didshedoit?

Thank you to Avon Books for the copy of Little Girl Gone in exchange for an honest review.  Also, thank you Alexandra Burt for the response and clarifying your thinking on the last two pages of the book. 

Little Girl Gone is out on 24 September and you can pre-order your copy here now:


           

Friday, 28 August 2015

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

"A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn't have prevented it. Could she?

In a split second, Jenna Gray's world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh.

Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.

Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating..."


I was expecting big things from I Let You Go and whilst Part 1 was interesting, it meandered along for me but then, boy does it start to deliver.


I cannot tell you what aspects the book covers as I don't want to risk giving anything away which might spoil the fabulous journey that Mackintosh takes you on. However, I will say that those areas that are covered are done so with exceptional style. There are aspects which are brutally told but they ring true as opposed to great big alarm bells ringing to tell you this is entirely made up fiction. 

I recently read a book written by a criminal barrister and felt that was a highlight; someone who had written about what they know. The same can be said here as Mackintosh used to be a police officer and moved into CID herself. At the back of the book, there is a piece written about where the ingredients that created the cocktail, I Let You Go, were sourced from, which I really liked. There is only one point of the book, towards the very end, after everything comes to light, that I felt simply wasn't true to life and was there purely to allow there to be one last bit of drama. I can't say which bit as it will destroy the story for you. It didn't put me off, and certainly didn't take any enjoyment of the book away, but I do feel it was there more for gratification purposes more than anything else. 

The thing I liked most about the first part of this book was the descriptions of Penfach and the beaches that begin to change Jenna's life. Oh, and perhaps Patrick the vet and Beau!

As Part 1 of the book draws to a close, the first twist hits you in the face. It's definitely a 'Gone Girl' style twist that will probably make you gasp. What follows is a gripping piece of fiction that will keep you guessing. I had all sorts of ridiculous theories flying around my head and I had to keep reminding myself to slow down and concentrate on the words on the page in front of me. My eyes couldn't devour the words quick enough and my brain tried desperately to process the information and deal with the constant shocks thrown at it. Ultimately, everything begins to make sense as all the pieces that had been drip fed to you throughout clamber together as though someone has held a magnet to the page. 

The only thing I didn't really like was the epilogue. It kind of worked but didn't quite fit with the brilliance of the rest of the novel. 

I have seen reviews complain that the only reason the twists and shocks are possible are because key information, known to the characters in advance (as opposed to something which just happens to them along the way), is held back from the reader and that the reader is therefore 'played'. I didn't feel that at all. Yes, it's true that the reader is not aware of certain information but that is what makes the book (surely?!). There are plenty of books around that work like this; threads run parallel to each other and it's not until they overlap that the reader can necessarily connect the two or more and put together the bigger picture. Without the 'withholding of information' there wouldn't be a book to speak of. And more to the point, the reader is fully aware that there is more to the story than meets the eye so I personally don't see the problem. 

I Let You Go is compared to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train on the back cover and I can certainly see why. Fans of these two books would definitely enjoy this and for me it was certainly up there with the best. For me, more gripping than The Girl on the Train.

An absolutely outstanding debut novel. It's not often I struggle to move on and pick up another book to start but I Let You Go leaves me wondering what I could possibly read that could comes close to comparing.


Thank you to the publisher for a copy of I Let You Go in exchange for an honest review.

I Let You Go is available now and I highly recommend you grab yourself a copy as soon as possible. The paperback is currently cheaper than the Kindle version on Amazon...