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...


Sunday, 23 August 2015

The SW19 Club by Nicola May

"What would you do if you were told you could never have children

Faced with this news, Gracie Davies is at an all-time low. But with the support of some new Wimbledon friends, an unorthodox therapist, her hippy-chick sister Naomi and Czech call-girl Maya, she sets up The SW19 Club and begins her rocky journey to inner peace and happiness. 

Add in a passionate fling with handsome landscaper Ed, a fairytale encounter with a Hollywood filmstar and the persistence of her adulterous ex, life is anything but predictable…"

I first discovered Nicola May back in the day when she was a self-published author.  At the time, I commented that her writing was publishing house quality and that I was amazed she had not been picked up by one of the big publishers.  Well, finally, someone has had some sense - well done to both Accent Press and Nicola!

The SW19 Club might look, from its cover, like a walk in the park but it really is a rollercoaster ride of emotions.  It is packed full of heartbreak but is also an exceptionally uplifting read.  Although the subject matter is heartbreaking, focusing on miscarriage and the struggles to have children, it certainly is not a dark book that will leave you wallowing in misery.  

Whilst the prologue leads you into the powerful sadness of the book, it is short and then you instantly jump six months forward.  The underlying theme remains and becomes slightly more prominent, in the guise of the SW19 Club later in the book, but Nicola May has a fabulous style of writing and there are plenty of characters and other parts to the story that ultimately makes it quite a light read; as Gracie battles with her reality, she also meets new friends and fancies along the way.  I don't think I would mind being swept off my feet by a Hollywood filmstar ;)

The SW19 Club is clearly a book that is written from the heart.  The short and punchy chapters will keep you turning the pages and I did not find it predictable at all and was left waiting until the final moments to discover who, if anyone, Gracie would choose for her future and when it comes, it is perfect and left me with tears streaming down my face.

Thank you to Nicola for sending me a copy of The SW19 Club.  Congratulations again for your Accent Press contract.  

The SW19 Club is out NOW and it is a bargain on Kindle, at the date of this blog post, for only £2.99.


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

"Seth and his little brother Henry haven’t had the most stable of upbringings. Their father has been in and out of jail; their mother took off years ago and hasn't been seen since. Life is constantly uncertain - but a twist of fate could be just what they need.

August stopped drinking the day his son died. While on a journey that’s very close to his heart, a breakdown leaves him stranded in a small town and at the mercy of the local mechanic - Seth and Henry’s father.

But then August is presented with an offer he doesn't expect: take the two boys with him for the summer, and pay no charge for the repairs. 

As the unlikely trio set out on their road trip, the most unlikely, unforgettable friendship begins to take shape.

Take Me With You is a moving, thought-provoking story that fans of Jodi Picoult, Susan Lewis or Diane Chamberlain will love, or the perfect read for those looking for something special to curl up with."

Catherine Ryan Hyde is not an author I had come across before until this book dropped through my letterbox recently; thank you to Transworld/Black Swan for sending me the copy because without you I may never have stumbled across what turned out to be such a beautiful book.

In fact, the book was so beautiful that at the outset I found myself constantly wanting to cry and I knew early on that I would regret reading it in public on the train to work. Take Me With You is the sort of book that you need to set hours at a time aside to read because you will not want to put it down.

Quite simply, it is tender, endearing and the most touching, heartfelt book I have read in some time.

I liked the first part of the book the best when Seth and Henry are young and I wished we never had to leave this part of their lives. Then, just as you think it cannot get any more does. The final parts of the book bring everything together in a rewarding way and although I never wanted it to end, the ending is ultimately uplifting.

The places they visit and the sights they see are breathtaking but actually what outshines all of that is the relationships between August, Seth and Henry. Those relationships are just beautiful and my absolute favourite relationships were August and Henry (as a young boy) and the relationships with Woody!

Take Me With You is not just a story of August, Seth and Henry's literal journey across America but it is an emotional journey that will change each of their lives forever and it is a book that will stay with me long after I turned the last page.

Thank you to Transworld/Black Swan for sending me a copy of Take Me With You which is out NOW.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Death by Dangerous by Olly Jarvis

"Death by Dangerous is a compelling legal thriller set in Manchester and Bradford. 

John Anderson is one of the North West's most dedicated and successful prosecution barristers. His career is going from strength to strength and he is on the verge of becoming Queen's Counsel. But the life he once knew suddenly comes crashing down following a fatal road traffic accident...Recovering from his injuries, he has no memory of the collision. Was he responsible for the death of a child? Who was his female passenger? 

Facing charges of causing death by dangerous driving, the professional and personal life he once knew now lies in tatters. Depressed and taking refuge in alcohol, Anderson refuses, in the face of so many unanswered questions, to accept his guilt. He becomes convinced that the gangster he was prosecuting at the time of the crash is in some way involved. The mystery deepens as his search for the truth draws him into Manchester's sordid criminal underworld. 

Shunned by his former colleagues, Anderson finds help from an unlikely source, enabling him to confront his prejudices and re-evaluate his past life. He embarks on a journey of self-discovery and, ultimately, the path for his own redemption. Anderson knows that defeat means deliverance to a prison full of violent criminals he has prosecuted over the years. He now has to find the strength to fight the most important trial of his life."

Death by Dangerous is an incredible fictional debut from Olly Jarvis and moments after turning the last page I am already desperate for him to release his next book. 

This book is a fast-paced legal thriller. Olly Jarvis is a criminal barrister - he has written about what he knows and his experiences have culminated in an intoxicating adrenalin-fuelled rollercoaster ride.

There are "mystery chapters" interspersed with the main thread and I was completely in the dark until the final pages when all becomes clear and every piece of the jigsaw fits perfectly in to place.  The ultimate answer is drip-fed to you in an exciting series of twists and the odd rogue clue dropped in to lead you up the wrong path but eventually the full story unravels. When it does, there isn't a sense that anything has been missed or forgotten and the ending could easily lead into a second book or a series following John Anderson. 

Ultimately the story should make you stop and think; how appearances and relationships can be deceptive, how your life can change in the blink of an eye and how terrifyingly difficult it could be to come back from that change. 

Death by Dangerous is an addictive read - every time I was forced to stop, I found myself desperate to read just one more chapter (although it never was just one more).  The writing is superb (as you would expect from a barrister) and you won't be able to turn the pages fast enough.  I cannot wait to see what Olly Jarvis releases next!

Death by Dangerous is OUT NOW!

Thank you to Sarah Taylor at Troubador Publishing for a review copy of Death by Dangerous in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Summer at Tiffany's by Karen Swan

"A wedding to plan. A wedding to stop. What could go wrong?

Cassie loves Henry. Henry loves Cassie. With a Tiffany ring on her finger, all that Cassie has left to do is plan the wedding. It should be so simple but when Henry pushes for a date, Cassie pulls back.

Henry's wild, young cousin, Gem, has no such hesitations and is racing to the aisle at a sprint, determined to marry in the Cornish church where her parents were wed. But the family is set against it, and Cassie resolves to stop the wedding from going ahead.

When Henry lands an expedition sailing the Pacific for the summer, Cassie decamps to Cornwall, hoping to find the peace of mind she needs to move forwards. But in the dunes and coves of the northern Cornish coast, she soon discovers the past isn't finished with her yet . . ."

It was delightful to revisit Cassie and Henry and the old gang. Whilst I would love to have re-read Christmas at Tiffany's before embarking on this new journey (to refresh my memory and re-immerse myself in their world), I couldn't bear to wait and found myself driving in as soon as the book dropped through my letterbox. 

There came a point where I thought I knew the ending but the journey that takes you there is as winding as the roads down to Cornwall and I found myself doubting myself constantly as there are so many forks in the road making you feel like you could end up literally anywhere. However, the story is delightful and engrossed me fully; I absorbed the book in one weekend and it left me with a massive smile on my face. 

Christmas at Tiffany's is a hard act to follow and I'm not guaranteeing this sequel will live up to its predecessor but it's a lovely opportunity to revisit those much loved characters and see what they are doing now! 

I don't think there is a particular need to have read the first book, however it might help you understand the turmoil Cassie experiences - I don't deny it can be frustrating and it might be even more so if you don't fully appreciate her history. 

Karen's writing, as always, conjures up vivid images in your mind so that you get to really live the book rather than just sit and read some words on a page.  As always, I eagerly await Karen Swan's next masterpiece.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan for the ARC of Summer at Tiffany's in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Too Charming by Kathryn Freeman

"Does a girl ever really learn from her mistakes?

Detective Sergeant Megan Taylor thinks so. She once lost her heart to a man who was too charming and she isn’t about to make the same mistake again – especially not with sexy defence lawyer, Scott Armstrong. Aside from being far too sure of himself for his own good, Scott’s major flaw is he defends the very people she works so hard to imprison.

But when Scott wants something he goes for it. And he wants Megan. One day she’ll see him not as a lawyer, but as a man ... and that’s when she’ll fall for him.

Yet just as Scott seems to be making inroads, a case presents itself that’s far too close to home, throwing his life into chaos.

As Megan helps him pick up the pieces, can he persuade her he isn’t the careless charmer she thinks he is? Isn’t a man innocent until proven guilty?"

I am a bit behind the times, as this was released in 2013, but what an incredible debut from Kathryn Freeman!

The characters are likeable (and in Scott's case, absolutely to die for loveable) and the chemistry is the most explosive I've seen in a while. I loved that Scott wasn't a "what you see is what you get" man and I also loved discovering the other side to him, even if it was a frustrating journey that made me want to smack Megan several times over.

I adored his relationship with Megan's little girl and the moments with Megan's parents also brought a smile to my face. All in all, I adored it - it (well let's not kid ourselves, Scott) had my heart and soul hooked and I never wanted to put it down.

The only slight disappointment was the end - when it came, it was too quick and is the sort of ending that screams out for an epilogue and in the absence of that, I would love to revisit these characters in the future to see where they ended up.

The writing is outstanding; I feel like I lived every emotion with Megan and Scott and often found myself holding my breath as the chemistry and tension was so strong. I cannot wait to discover more of Kathryn Freeman.

I understand that Kathryn is just about to release her third book with Choc Lit (out August 13th) and it is bound to be another scorcher.

Thank you to NetGalley and ChocLit for the e-copy of Too Charming in exchange for my honest review.