Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2016

Return To Bluebell Hill

Author: Rebecca Pugh
Published: 18 June 2015
Reviewed: 29 June 2015

4 out of 5 Stars

Description:

Home is where the heart is…

Jessica McAdams has never belonged anywhere; never truly felt at home. Of course, what did she expect from parents who never made her feel welcome in her own house? Leaving her life in London to return home to the charming country village of Bluebell Hill is harder than she thought. Especially as she never considered she’d be returning under such heart wrenching circumstances…

Clearing out the stunning and imposing Bluebell House after her parents’ death is difficult for Jessica—they never had the best relationship and now it’s too late. Yet spending time in the house that was never a home, having afternoon tea with dear old friend Esme—and sharing hot, sizzling kisses with delectable gardener Rueben!—opens Jessica’s eyes to the potential of Bluebell House… Could this big old, beautiful manor really be her forever home? Is Bluebell Hill where her heart is, has always been?

Jessica soon dares to dream of her very own home with delicious Rueben by her side. But when a deep, dark secret of Bluebell House is unearthed, Jessica’s world is turned upside down…

Will Jessica ever find where her heart truly lies? 

My Thoughts & Review: 


Return to Bluebell Hill is Rebecca Pugh’s debut novel and having read her second novel I was keen to read this one.  This book has a lovely cosy warmth to it, the sort of book you can curl up on the sofa with or sit in the sun and lose track of time.  
Jessica McAdams returns to her childhood home of Bluebell Hill to attend the funeral of her estranged parents, and is reunited with her old nanny Esme, but whilst the reunion is overshadowed by the tragic death of her parents, Jessica is nonetheless pleased to be back in the embrace of Esme and soon meets Reuben the handsome gardener.  
As Jessica narrates her tale, we discover that her relationship with her parents was a troubled one, feeling they had no time for her or interest in her, Jessica spent most of her young life with nanny Esme, so it was no surprise that once she turned 18 Jessica left Bluebell Hill for London to start a new life.

Despite little blips and breaks in continuity, this was an enjoyable read, a nice break away from the madness of recent days.  Something about this book grabbed my attention when I started reading and held it through to the end.  Covering aspects such as love, betrayal, regret, friendship and forgiveness this book really ticks many boxes for fans of female literary fiction.  Rebecca Pugh writes with striking detail, her vivid descriptions of Bluebell Hill are a thing of beauty.  The setting of the house was so picturesque I could happily sit back and daydream about it and the wonderful gardens.  Even the descriptions of characters were treated to this flowing grandness, you really do feel like you are there in the book seeing the people and the settings.   

Jessica was a likeable character, well fleshed out and interesting.  Some of her motives did seem a little naive at times, but Pugh takes great care to weave in the troubles of Jessica’s past to illustrate that this may be why the character does not form relationships easily etc.  Reuben, well he’s a book all on his own.  Swoon worthy and utterly delectable, he’s the right mix of strong masculine and caring, considerate that we have come to expect from the genre.  He compliments Jessica’s character well, there is a good dynamic between them and it made for enjoyable and interesting reading.  Another character I did especially like what Esme, a sprightly 63 year old who seemed to have endless energy first thing in the morning and was a delightful contract to Jessica.  Her pearls of wisdom more than once gave Jessica pause for thought, but she never interfered.  
I would have liked to have seen the story of Jessica’s parents explored more, their untimely deaths seemed to hang in mid air for me.  I had wondered that if more would be revealed in the story, as was the case with Jessica’s estrangement from her parents and her leaving Bluebell Hill, but I cannot honestly say that I saw any further mention of this.  The strained relationship she also had with her parents would have been something else I would have loved to have seen expanded upon, but again that’s just my personal preference.   
This was an enjoyable read, heart warming with the right mix of sadness and happiness.  A love story with ups, downs and laughter, beautiful descriptiveness, practically idyllic at times.  A quick read, but for me this was an added bonus, I needed something quick to get my mind off the madness of late and this hit the spot perfectly.  
This was Rebecca Pugh’s début novel, and having read A Home In Sunset Bay, I can honestly say that I am a big fan of her books.  I can’t wait for Down On Daffodil Lane to arrive on my Kindle in August.  These books are all standalone books, you do not need to read them in any order, but I would say that after reading Bluebell Hill, Pugh’s writing has evolved and she seems to have found her flair in writing (that’s not to say she didn’t show great talent in the first place, I just believe that she has now found what works well in her novels).  

This is the sort of book you could load on to your Kindle for your summer reading or equally pick up on a rainy afternoon and be lost in the beautiful sunshine and wonderful countryside.  

You can purchase a copy Return to Bluebell Hill here.   

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Watching Edie

Author: Camilla Way
Published: 28 July 2016
Reviewed: 24 June 2016
Copy supplied by Killer Reads at HarperCollins in return for an honest review

4.5 out of 5 stars

Description:

BEFORE
Edie is the friend that Heather has always craved. But one night, it goes terrifyingly wrong. And what started as an innocent friendship ends in two lives being destroyed.

AFTER
Sixteen years later, Edie is still rebuilding her life. But Heather isn’t ready to let her forget so easily. It’s no coincidence that she shows up when Edie needs her most.

NOW
Edie or Heather?
Heather or Edie?

Someone has to pay for what happened, but who will it be?

My Thoughts & Review:

When you read a book in one sitting and cannot bear to put it down you know it’s a good one.  This was a surprise book for me, I had no idea it would come tumbling through the letterbox but I definitely cannot thank the guys at Killer Reads enough for sending a copy through to me.
“The most unsettling psychological thriller you’ll read this year” is quite a high  standard to set but I feel that they are just in doing so.  Not only does this book have a gripping plot, the characters are twisted and flawed, nothing pans out as you’d think it might and there are parts of the book you are literally staring at what you’ve just read in utter disbelief/shock/confusion.  For a book to inspire so many feelings in a reader is brilliance on the part of the author, Camilla Way really has written a blinder of a book here!
   
The alternating narration by 30 something Edie and a teenage Heather adds depth to this story like nothing else.  Seeing the past events that lead to the parting of the ways of the teenage girls through Heather’s eyes adds a youthful naivety to it all, and this I believe is so vital to understanding her much later on.
Edie’s continual allusion to a tragic event gives a little more detail with each mention.  This “something” that occurred changed her life forever, she left her home, her family and tried to make a new life for herself in London and put the past behind her.  When Heather finds her in London, Edie is shocked, she’s anxious but never envisions they will reform a friendship and just how much she will come to rely on Heather.  

Without giving anything away about the past, or the future, I will say that Camilla Way has written a very clever and twisted story.  She evokes emotion from the reader by catapulting them into a maelstrom.  Even the sub plot is fraught with intensity, but I have to add that I really enjoyed reading Edie’s interactions with Monica and her family, it added a little light relief at times.  Monica’s character gave a lovely reminder that not all characters in this book were obsessed, liars or out to betray one another.  

Complex and multi layered, this is a gripping, and all consuming read.  Almost like falling down the rabbit hole with Alice into the dark depths.     
I cannot wait to see what Camilla Way writes next, I really loved her style of writing in this book.  The way she revealed more about the two protagonists had me reeling at times, I found my judgements were rocked by what I learned each time and at one point I was speechless.   

I cannot recommend this book enough, it was brilliant.  Everything a psychological thriller should be and then some!   

You can pre order a copy of Watching Edie here.   

Read Full Post »

All Is Not Forgotten

Author: Wendy Walker
Published: 14 July 2016
Reviewed: 16 June 2016

Many thanks to Harlequin (UK) Limited / Mira Books UK for a copy of this in return for an honest review

5 out of 5 Stars


Description:

In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.

As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town – or perhaps lives among them – drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.
My Thoughts & Review:

Initially when I saw this book discussed on social medial with very little details, but billed as a #mysterythriller and quite possibly the thriller of 2016 I knew I had to find out more.  All Is Not Forgotten is definitely a book worth the interest, hype and reviews – it’s a fantastic read!

The story is narrated primarily by Jenny’s psychologist, but also features narrative from other main characters to give a great grounding of what is happening for each character and how they are coping with the recent events.  The actual concept of the book is both intriguing and worrying – erasing memories from a traumatic event to better cope and move on with life.  How would one cope in that situation?  How would you deal with the emotional aftermath when you cannot associate it with the actual physical assault?  

From the very outset Walker hooks the reader in, you want to find out who the attacker was, you want to find out why they engaged in such an atrocity, but most of all you want to find out if Jenny and her family finally find closure.  

All Is Not Forgotten takes you on an emotional roller coaster, fraught with tension, emotionally taught and with painstaking detail of sensitive events such as the attack this can be at times an uncomfortable read.  I was aware at times that I was reading it feeling shock and horror but at the same time determination to get to the end to find out if Jenny managed to get through this. 

This was definitely a book that had my full attention, reading it in one sitting.  It surpassed my expectations and so far has lived up to being one of the best thrillers I’ve read of 2016 (so far….I am fully aware this is only June!).  It’s complex, cleverly written and thoroughly absorbing.  Characters are well developed and interesting,  the plot is rich in detail and it makes a great read!

You can buy a copy of All Is Not Forgotten here.


Read Full Post »

Last Dance in Havana

Author: Rosanna Ley
Published: 19 May 2016
Reviewed: 15 June 2016
Copy supplied by Quercus Books in return for an honest review as part of Quercus Summer Reading Book Club
4.5 out of 5 Stars
Description:

Cuba, 1958. Elisa is only sixteen years old when she meets Duardo and she knows he’s the love of her life from the moment they first dance the rumba together in downtown Havana. But Duardo is a rebel, determined to fight in Castro’s army, and Elisa is forced to leave behind her homeland and rebuild her life in distant England. But how can she stop longing for the warmth of Havana, when the music of the rumba still calls to her?

England, 2012. Grace has a troubled relationship with her father, whom she blames for her beloved mother’s untimely death. And this year more than ever she could do with a shoulder to cry on – Grace’s career is in flux, she isn’t sure she wants the baby her husband is so desperate to have and, worst of all, she’s begun to develop feelings for their best friend Theo. Theo is a Cuban born magician but even he can’t make Grace’s problems disappear. Is the passion Grace feels for Theo enough to risk her family’s happiness?

 My Thoughts & Review:
The moment the Rumba is introduced in this book I knew I’d be held captive by the little details.  The meaning of the dance and the symbolism it holds are beautifully detailed by Ley, you can almost feel the beat of the music, the swell of the bodies rhythmically following the beat of the band, it’s intoxicating, addictive and hard to believe its a novel and not a holiday guide!   
Following the stories of Elisa and her stepdaughter Grace, Rosanna Ley weaves us expertly back and forth between Cuba in 1958 and Bristol in 2012.  
Elisa emerging into womanhood finds love at a dance, she meets Duardo, an aspiring rebel, and within moments of them dancing the rumba she knows she is is love with him.  But as the troubles intensify, the fighting takes it toll on families in Cuba and Elisa’s family make the decision to move to England to start a new life.  We follow Elisa’s life in England in 2012 but dip back into her past as she recounts those days in Cuba before leaving, the beginnings of her life in England and how she came to be part of Grace’s family. 
Fast forward to 2012 and Grace is struggling with relationships of her own.  The relationship with her father is rapidly deteriorating, having never forgiven him for the death of her mother, his alcohol abuse has become another barrier between them.  As she grapples with her husband’s desperate desire to start a family, she becomes increasingly aware of the chemistry between her and Theo, their best friend and the more she fights it, the more intense the feelings become.  
Through the tales of the two women we are to discover love, sadness and longing.  Both want something they cannot have, have lost people they have deeply loved and cared for, but most of all, they long to find what makes them happyfor one it’s being home, it‘s a person that is home and for the other, it’s a special someoneAll of the characters are incredibly realistic, very well written and some of them really make you stop and think, Elisa putting everyone’s needs and happiness before her own is just one example.  The only character I didn’t really take much of a liking to was Robbie, Grace’s husband, but for obvious reason He has to be sacrificed to allow Grace’s story to evolve, and as we only see him through the eyes of Grace it is no wonder that he can be a bit wearing at times.  
The sensitivity shown by Ley towards Philip was very well written.  He lost his beloved wife in a car accident and at the same time his young daughter began to hate him and blame him for the loss of her mother.  He turns to alcohol, feeling it is the only option open to him and struggles on through life, wishing he could reconnect with his daughter but also not push away his new wife Elisa.  The sadness of his tale knits almost poetically with the tales of Elisa and Grace, all are struggling with secrets, all are held back by something and desperately need to move on.    
Ley‘s writing is truly beautiful, she brings Cuba alive with dynamic tenacity, giving the reader a glimpse of the charm of Cuba – the colours, the sights, the atmosphere.  But also, taking the time to include the details of the darker times, the marred history, the struggles faced, this really gives a complete picture of the country – warts and all if you will.  
Another area I found the attention to detail impressive was when describing Grace’s massage therapy work – the techniques used, the use of sound and aromatherapy oils etc show that Ley has gone the extra mile to give her readers as much detail as possible and this added to my enjoyment of the book.  
This is a fantastic summer read, you can almost feel the heat of the Cuban sun through the writing, you can imagine the winding streets and views of Bristol that Elisa and Grace wander whilst thinking But best of all, you can pick up this book and becomes lost in it, it’s vibrant, realistic, entertaining and utterly wonderful!
You can buy a copy of Last Dance in Havana here.
 

Read Full Post »

 

Valentina

Author: S E Lynes
Published: 1 July 2016
Reviewed: 14 June 2016
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24


Copy supplied by Blackbird Digital Books in return for an honest review

4 out of 5 Stars

 

Description:   

My Thoughts & Review

When I first heard about this book I was intrigued, it sounded fascinating so I jumped at the chance of a review copy from Blackbird Digital Books.

Set in Aberdeenshire, Shona is a new mum settling into a rural setting with her little girl, and trying to adjust to a new way of life while her partner works offshore.  She finds she is missing her old life and friends, she craves human interaction beyond the niceties of the woman on the till in the supermarket so when she meets Valentina on the steps of the nursery a much needed friendship soon blossoms.  
Initially narrated through Shona, we learn about her life up to meeting her perfect match Mikey, how they first met, the way their relationship developed and how she came to live in her idyllic cottage in Aberdeenshire.  It is also through Shona that we “see” Valentina, how charismatic, carefree and confident she is, her style is hippy yet chic, she’s daring, she’s funny and most of all she’s just what Shona needed.  
As Shona reflects back on life before her child we see that she was a strong character, standing up to bullies and taking no nonsense.  So the dramatic change to her character is startling but understandable.  As a new mother she is exhausted, but with this comes the ability for her to be easily manipulated.  At times this character does come across as naive, too trusting and you really want to nudge her, shake her, anything to make her stop, notice and see sense. 
The overall style of writing is good, impressively descriptive, well paced and the plot was well thought out.  The narration by two of the main characters lends itself well to this story, it allows the reader to not only see Shona’s point of view, but also to some extent, experience it too.  
Character development in this book is very well done, interesting and well formed characters become even more intriguing, they mould into new shapes and the transformation of Shona in particular was fascinating to read.  
This is the sort of story that stays with you after you’ve finished the last page.  Even after a few days I found myself wondering what I would have done in that situation?  Would I have done the same thing?  Why would someone do that?  How could someone really do that and think they would never be found out?  Once you’ve read it you will understand…..
For a début, this is an impressive novel, well written and full of suspense, it’s gripping at the right time, the pace stays well matched to the action throughout, and it’s a good read.  Perhaps I’ve read too many of this genre, but I did find it was a little predictable, but this didn’t detract from my enjoyment.  

I would have no hesitation in recommending this book it’s a good read.   

You can buy a copy of Valentina here. 
 

Read Full Post »

 

Streets of Darkness

Author: A.A Dhand
Published: 16 June 2016
Reviewed: 6 June 2016
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24


Copy supplied by Transworld Books/ Penguin Random House in return for an honest review

5 out of 5 Stars

 

Description:   

My Thoughts & Review


A chance conversation with Ben Willis at Transworld Books brought about a copy of this beauty arriving on my doorstep, and all I can say is a massive thank you to Ben, he was right, this is an absolute gem of a book!
From the very outset I was gripped, Harry Virdee is a man with a secret, a troubled past and a very troubled present.  Stepping away from the “textbook” police procedural Dhand gives us a protagonist that breaks all the previously set stereotypes.  He’s a Sikh policeman, he’s happily married and not living on an unhealthy diet of takeaways whilst bemoaning his fate.  Instead Harry Virdee is a highly functioning, intelligent and active man, he runs when he can’t sleep and has connections that get results to solve cases.  
But when Harry finds a body when out running he knows he has to call it in, although facing his colleagues and friends on the force whilst suspended isn’t something he’s comfortable with.  When he’s asked to operate under the radar to track down the murder suspect he never envisions the secrets he will unearth along the way. That’s about all I want to say about the plot, there are too many things I could say that might give away little details and this is not a book you want spoilers for!! 
 
This is a gritty novel, with a heart racing pace, indeed I read it in one sitting, desperately reading on to find out what would happen next.  Lies, deception and danger are the key aspects, so when you add in a policeman operating on the edges of what is acceptable this really moves to the next level.  But there are other themes that play an important role in this book, race, religion, family and loyalty are also of equal importance here, reminding us that we are a multicultural society and that actions can affect our future more than we think.  
 
The characters in this are fantastic, very multidimensional and incredibly detailed.  The writing is brilliant, and for a début I am truly impressed.  Dhand has created and woven a complex plot with a clever sub plot running alongside.  He then draws it all together to wrap up the details and shocks the reader with the ending.  
 
I am very grateful to the author for the cultural details Things like the various Sikh and Muslim festivals that take place during the novel are not areas I have much knowledge of, so adding explanations through the narration was definitely a bonus for me.  I felt that I learned something new reading this and really appreciated the authenticity it added to the story.    
I cannot wait to see what Dhand has lined up next for Harry Virdee!  
A.A. Dhand is a name you will want to look out for in the future. 

You can buy a copy of Streets of Darkness here. 
 

Read Full Post »

 

Solomon Creed

Author: Simon Toyne
Published: 24 March 2016
Reviewed: 3 June 2016
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24


Copy supplied by Killer Reads at HarperCollins in return for an honest review

4.5 out of 5 Stars

 

Description:   

My Thoughts & Review


Solomon Creed is an interesting character, for a start he emerges unscathed from a plan crash in the middle of rural America, but even more intriguing is that he has no idea who he is or why he is there.
As the narration develops and other characters are introduced, we discover that Creed is also fascinating in his physical appearance, he is an albino, something that is never seen in the town of Redemption.  
With the ability to speak numerous different languages, a wealth of knowledge and skills that surprise even himself, Creed is definitely an enigma.  But little by little, snippets of his memory clear so that by the end he has a good idea of why he ended up in Redemption, what his purpose here was and who he isThe most mind blowing answer definitely has to be the latter – once that’s revealed….wow! 

Redemption is a small town in Arizona, built around the church, and instead of the inhabitants being friendly and helpful as you might expect, they are suspicious of newcomers and locals alike.  Worse still, Creed can feel there’s something going on in the town, secrets are being buried and he is sure this is linked to why he is there.  
The links to a Mexican Crime Boss, despicable Sheriffs and desperate town mayor add a sinister edge to the goings on in this town.

With narration in the form of historical journal entries by the town founder as well as present day narration by several characters, this really does add something “extra” to the plot.  
The religious angles meld well with the almost supernatural elements of the book – indeed it helps it to stand out from other books in this genre.  The super natural aspect of the story does feel like something out of an episode of the X Files, not entirely plausible but at the same time not entirely indisputable.      
  
Action packed chapters ensure that the reader is kept entertained and intrigued, who is fighting for whom?  Who are the good guys?  What are they all after?  The pace of this book is also kept brisk with this style of writing, the murder mystery element makes for a thrilling read and with characters that are multi dimensional, well fleshed out and in some cases downright villainous, you’ve got a great read on your hands.  

Despite some more complicated ideas in this book, it is still an enjoyable read.  Some of the religious passages may not be to everyone’s tastes, but it’s definitely worth sticking with it and seeing it through to the end, in this book I would definitely say they work and go as far as to add depth to the tale. 

After finding out Solomon Creed’s identity, I cannot wait to see where the author takes this character next, a brilliant stepping stone for the next book!   


You can buy a copy of Solomon Creed here. 
 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

LIVE AND DEADLY

(Mostly) Fiction reviews with a crime slant

Clues and Reviews

A Blog For Book Lovers by A Book Lover!

the orang-utan librarian

welcome to the virtual library

TheCraftyLass

TheCraftyLass Goes Postal : sharing my love of all things bookish, crafty, geeky, cooking & snail mail

Cheryl M-M's Book Blog

What can I say? I just love books. Indie/self/trad published...I don't give two monkeys. My reviews are always my subjective and honest opinion. Nothing more and nothing less.

IFINDOUBTREAD

Don't Get Left On The Shelf

mybookishblogspot

Just books, more books and some other stuff too

booksaremycwtches

Reading takes me to other worlds. Other times and other places.

Sarah's Vignettes

Ramblings about books and life

bookboodle

Books & Bakes

Bits about Books - Caroline Vincent

| BOOK REVIEWS | BLOGGING | BLOG TOURS | SOCIAL MEDIA ADVICE & SERVICES |

Chat About Books

Book reviews, author interviews, blog tours..... since October 2015

What Cathy Read Next...

For book lovers everywhere

The Bibliophile Chronicles

Book reviews and more!

Mostly In Pyjamas

Life, mostly