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Archive for August, 2016

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Author: A.L. Michael

Published: 22 August 2016
Reviewed: 30 August 2016

4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Carina UK in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Sometimes, Happy Ever After is where the real trouble begins…

Chelsea Donnolly wasn’t supposed to amount to anything. But if there’s one thing the bad girl from the estate liked better than trouble, it was a challenge. So, to the amusement of her best friends Evie, Mollie and Ruby – and the disbelief of her teachers – this bad girl turned good.

These days, Chelsea is the kind of girl people are proud to know – and, after a surprise trip to Venice, she has a ring on her finger to prove it. But to get there, she’s had to learn to keep her deepest secrets from everyone – even her fiancé. And when wedding preparations threaten to blow her cover, Chelsea can’t help but wonder: in her battle to the top, might she have left the best parts of herself behind?

My Thoughts & Review:

Nice Day For A White Wedding is the second book in the House on Camden Square series, but thankfully it can be read as a standalone book, ideal for anyone looking for an exciting read with humour, sadness and a fantastic backdrop.  The first book in the series Goodbye Ruby Tuesday is worth a read as it’s both a good story but also gives a great introduction to the characters but not absolutely necessary if you just want to read this one.

Following the story of Chelsea Donnolly, the reader is taken back to her teen years when she grew up on a rundown housing estate and the events that lead to her becoming the person she is now.
Chelsea intends to keep her past hidden from everyone, including boyfriend Kit.  So when Kit whisks her off to Venice as a surprise and proposes to her, the resulting trip to Lake Garda to meet his parents shows her just how different they are and how she needs to keep the “real” her hidden.

Chelsea is a great character, strong willed and determined, a character that most readers will connect with and feel empathy for.  Kit, well I went from liking him to disliking him quite quickly once he was back in the embrace of his family – funny how being around certain people can change a person so much.  Kit’s family were absolutely horrid, very snobby and rude to Chelsea from the very beginning.  For a writer to evoke that much feeling towards characters is a sign of good writing, and it’s in abundance here.

An entertaining and enjoyable read, engaging storyline and the pace is just right for a comfortable evening read.  The setting of the Italian back drop is wonderful, I almost felt like I was there.
I can’t wait for the next instalment in the series.

You can buy a copy of Nice Day For A White Wedding here.


About the Author

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Author image and information courtesy of Amazon

A.L. Michael is hurtling towards the end of her twenties a little too quickly. She is the author of ‘Wine Dark, Sea Blue’, ‘The Last Word’, ‘My So Called (Love) Life’, ‘Driving Home for Christmas’, and ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’, based upon her experiences as a London barista.

She is a Creative Therapeutic Facilitator, currently researching the power of creative writing to be helpful in recovering from eating disorders.

Her new three book series, The House on Camden Square, is being released in 2016, starting with ‘Goodbye Ruby Tuesday’ is available now.

When she’s not writing, she likes yoga, trying to bake healthy treats and was a hipster before hipsters were hipster. Well, she likes chai lattes and owns a Mac.

To find out more about A.L. Michael and her books you can go to her website https://almichael.com or follow her on Twitter @ALMichael_

 

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Author: Claire Seeber

Published: 15 July 2016
Reviewed: 28 August 2016

4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Bookouture in return for an honest review

 

Description:

The perfect wife. A fairytale family. Don’t believe your eyes…

Jeanie and Matthew are a happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships.

No one said it would be easy to raise a blended family under one roof but Jeanie and Matthew are strong. They will make it work.

And whilst Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over.

But Jeanie has a past. A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago. And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage.

Someone is playing a terrifying game on Jeanie and she must put a stop to it once and for all.
After all, a fairytale needs a happy ending…doesn’t it?

My Thoughts & Review:

This is the first book by Claire Seeber that I have read and I am honestly shocked that I’ve not picked up any of her previous books, something I will have to remedy!

The Stepmother tells the tale of Jeanie and Matthew who marry and attempt to live happily ever after as a blended family.  Jeanie finds it hard to connect with her stepdaughter, but is determined nonetheless to be a good stepmother to both of Matthew’s children whilst ensuring her own son is not neglected.  Living in the shadow of Matthew’s ex-wife Kaye adds pressure to the fragile relationships in the house, and Jeanie soon realises she perhaps doesn’t know her new husband as well as she thought.
With secrets running rampant in the family, lies and control are a factor in everyday life for this fragmented family.

By narrating each chapter  from the perspective of Jeanie or her sister Marlena, the reader is witness to both the present day action as well as being able to get some insight into the the shared childhood of the sisters and how events impacted on their lives and relationships.

 
The way in which that the “strange goings on” are written in the narrative are great because it allows the reader to share Jeanie’s unease and bewilderment.
In addition the clever twists in the story mean the reader is captivated and kept guessing as to who could be responsible, and more importantly who is guilty.

Jeanie and Marlena are well created characters, the almost conversational tone whilst narrating makes the reader feel a connection to the characters.  The physical descriptions of them conjured an clear image in my mind, especially when it came to mannerisms each possessed.  The descriptions of the settings are also worthy of note, giving the reader an clear idea of the house and grounds really helps set the scene.

The references to Snow White were both intriguing and slick, they worked very well with Jeanie’s story, making the reader question just what they know about the so-called fairy tale.

Marlena’s journalistic investigation felt a little superfluous, it didn’t detract from the story but I don’t feel like it added anything to it either.

Short chapters make this a quick read, but also a very addictive one.

This is a psychological thriller with a sinister edge!

About the Author

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Claire Seeber is a Londoner who started professional life as a (bad) actress and became a documentary maker, a journalist and a writer of, so far, psychological thrillers. The Observer said of her first novel: ‘a disturbing debut’ whilst The Guardian called it ‘powerful’…she keeps writing whilst also studying psychology and (trying to) to manage a home of slightly feral kids and animals. Luckily she’s got a very nice partner to help too.

To find out more about Claire’s books go to her website or follow her on Twitter @claireseeber

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The Perfect Girl – Book Review

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Author: Gilly Macmillan

Published: 25 August 2016
Reviewed: 28 August 2016

3.5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Piatkus in return for an honest review

Description:

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

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

By midnight, her mother is dead.

My Thoughts & Review:

The Perfect Girl opens with a concert about to start, the concert will see the comeback for Zoe Maisey who is a child prodigy with a natural gift for playing piano, and unbelievably high IQ.  The most intriguing aspect of that is “comeback” because some years previously after suffering bullying and harassment at school, Zoe made a bad decision.  A decision so bad that it lead to the death of three of her school friends and changed her life forever.

From thereon, the events that follow are scattered throughout the timeline, nothing seems to fall into chronological order which can be a little taxing at times but overall does add to the twisted edge of the novel.  One of the best “dip backs” is to the night that changed Zoe’s life,  purely because it gives the reader another viewpoint of what happened.  There are some sensitive subjects touched upon by the author in this novel, and the writing does show caution in not over playing them.

The characters are well created and fleshed out, most of them are flawed and quite hard to feel empathy or liking towards.  Chris was a hard character to like, Macmillan wrote this character very well, making him very dark and and controlling,  his actions were clear to the reader but not always to those around him.  Zoe on the other hand is a character that evokes much sadness from the reader, her fragility was well written, I did wonder at times whether it was genuine or a clever act.
I hate to admit that I felt there were too many narrators, that coupled with the timeline bouncing back and forth between events made for a few head scratching moments, trying to work out which voice I was hearing etc.

The writing and pace are good, so long as you can keep up with what’s happening in the narrative.  An enjoyable read, just not as thrilling as I had hoped, but did give me pause for thought.

At the heart of it, this is a story about lies and secrets and “what if”.

You can buy a copy of The Perfect Girl here.

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Author: Jane Corry

Published: 25 August 2016
Reviewed: 27 August 2016

4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Penguin in return for an honest review

 

Description:

What if your life was built on a lie?

When lawyer Lily marries Ed, she’s determined to make a fresh start. To leave the secrets of the past behind.

But when she takes on her first criminal case, she starts to find herself strangely drawn to her client. A man who’s accused of murder. A man she will soon be willing to risk everything for.

But is he really innocent?

And who is she to judge?

My Thoughts & Review:

When a book opens with the report of a stabbing you know it’s going to be one that doesn’t hold back.  That coupled with those three sentences on the front cover instantly grab the attention of the reader.

The clever use to the radio broadcast at the beginning of the novel sets the bar high for plotting.  Corry really shows her flair for this style of writing by hitting the reader with a shot of information that shrewdly gives nothing unintended away but all the while allows the imagination to start racing ahead and so makes this a gripping and thrilling read.

Taking the reader back fifteen years, Corry then sets about laying the foundations that will lead to demise of Ed.  We are introduced to some fascinating and secretive characters, who are superbly created and intriguingly flawed.  As well as recounting the tale up to the radio broadcast, Corry competently brings her readers back to current time, never once losing her audience while increasing the intensity and twisting the plot.

Jane Corry’s writing is fantastic, she knows just how much of a hint to add in to the narrative to keep a reader hooked but give nothing away.  Once I’d finished this book I sat there thinking “how did I not guess that?!” and I will admit to being surprised by the twists – a sign of good writing and expert plotting.  With so many topics touched upon in one book you might think that there would come a moment where it drags or feels like there’s too much going on but instead it’s fascinating and draws it all together to make a well rounded and thrilling read.

Definitely a book worthy of the domestic noir tagging, and it holds its own against the rst of the books on the shelf.

You can buy a copy of My Husband’s Wife here.

About the Author

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Author image and information courtesy of Amazon

Jane Corry is a writer and journalist who has written regularly for numerous newspapers and magazines including The Daily Telegraph Weekend section, the Mail on Sunday and Woman. She has spent time working as the writer-in-residence of a high security prison for men – an experience that helped inspire My Husband’s Wife, her début thriller. ‘I love twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the very end! My husband says I’m a nightmare to watch dramas with as I love to work out who did it before the final revelation!’

Jane runs regular writing workshops and speaks at literary festivals all over the world, including The Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy. Until her recent move to Devon, she was a tutor in creative writing at Oxford University. She is also an associate member of the Royal Literary Fund.

Many of Jane’s ideas come during her morning dog-jog along the beach followed by a dip in her wetsuit. (She’s an all-year-round swimmer provided the sea isn’t dangerous.) Jane also loves tennis, walking, reading, yoga, the ‘Quiet’ train carriage (a great ‘office’ for writing) and her family. She’s still coming to terms with being an empty-nester but makes up for it with lots of long-distance nagging! Jane’s second husband was a bachelor family friend who is also Godfather to her children. He makes her laugh every day although they can’t agree on how to load the dishwasher!

You can find Jane on Twitter at @JaneCorryAuthor and on Facebook at JaneCorryAuthor.

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Q&A with Rebecca Pugh

Today I am thrilled to be joined by Rebecca Pugh, author, avid reader and lover of tea.  With those qualifications you can’t fail to love this lass!

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The woman behind the books:

Rebecca Pugh grew up in the green county of Shropshire. Not an immediate reader, it took her a while to find her way towards the wonderful fictional words hidden between the pages of books. Ever since, she’s fallen under the spell of countless authors and the tales they’ve weaved. Her favourite authors include Jill Mansell, Cathy Bramley, Sarah Morgan and Holly Martin, to name but a few. She loves nothing more than tapping away at the keyboard, taking her characters from imagination to page and, when that isn’t the case, she adores curling up with a good book.

Rebecca is a fan of fairy tale romances that sweep you off your feet, dashing heroes and strong, lovable heroines. She can’t make up her mind whether she prefers a countryside escape, or a love story set in bustling New York. Either way, she’s more than happy to disappear into both.

When it comes to her own writing, Rebecca aims to whisk readers away to desirable locations, where they can meet characters who, she hopes, will begin to feel like friends. With a dash of romance here, and a shake-up of things there, she loves dreaming up stories and watching them come to life.

To date, Rebecca has penned 3 novels Return to Bluebell Hill, A Home in Sunset Bay and Down on Daffodil Lane.  Read on for news about Book 4!!


Now on to the questions, hope you’re sitting comfortably.

Bookish ones first:
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I think it was probably around the same time that I truly realised the magic of reading for myself. I’d finish reading a book, sit back and think to myself, “I would love to be able to do this. To be able to make a reader feel something, to be able to create a world for them to step into and enjoy.” I’ve always been a scribbler, and a bit of a daydreamer. I think those two things went hand in hand in the end.

Do you base your settings & characters on places & people you know?

I’m sure I gather up bits of inspiration from plenty of things! Places I visit, pictures I see and things I hear. Most of what I come up with is purely created from my imagination though. I love dreaming up settings and characters, but I’m sure there are scraps of real life in there too somewhere.

How strict are you when it’s time to write – do you set a word count for the day?  Or schedule a time slot to write in?

I love setting a word-count goal for the day. I love it even more when I reach a thoroughly enjoyable part in the story and end up smashing that goal, and then some. There are, of course, the days when it seems my brain just doesn’t want to work, but you have to keep on keeping on! Your story won’t write itself, after all.

What is your favourite thing about being a writer?

Being the creator of fictional worlds and lives. It’s brilliant. I love seeing my imagination coming to life on the page. I love watching my characters waltz into the story and take centre-stage. I always feel a strange sort of relief once they’re set free from my mind.

What is your least favourite thing about being a writer?

The self-doubt can be a killer at times, but I’m slowly learning to wriggle past it and keep on doing what I’m doing. I’ve been told it hits every single writer.

What’s next for Becca Pugh? 

Next up for me is novel number four! I don’t have a date for publication date just yet, or a title, but I do know that the wait is going to be a tad longer than my previous books. This means I’ll have more time to spend on it, making sure it’s spot-on before it reaches readers! (Fingers crossed!) I’m very excited and can’t wait to share more news about it.

Just for fun questions:
Do you have a favourite book?  If not a favourite, do you have a top 5?

Oh, this is a tough one!
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
I Let You Go by Clare by Mackintosh
The Apothecary’s Daughter by Charlotte Betts
Before The Fall by Juliet West

How do you balance being a writer and a book reviewer/blogger?  And do you find that being a blogger has helped you in your writing?

I try to balance it as best I can, although writing takes the priority spot. I think blogging has definitely helped me in terms of studying style and technique. I’ve always loved reading other authors’ work and watching how they pull their plots and characters together. It’s amazing.

What books are by your bed?

At the moment, sitting beside my bed are:
My Husband’s Wife by Amanda Prowse
The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney
Find Me by J. S. Monroe
Sunshine on a Rainy Day by Bryony Fraser
The Secret Wife by Gill Paul
Apprentice in Death by J. D. Robb

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

I’m a lover of the simple things in life. I love a good cup of tea. A rainy afternoon spent reading. Visiting my family. Days out with my partner. Bonnie walks. Countryside strolls. The littlest things in life are actually the big things, I’ve always thought. If I’m not writing, then I’m usually thinking about writing, planning my next ideas or whipping up a book review for the blog.

Who inspired you most?

If we’re talking about authors who inspired me then Jill Mansell is at the top of that list. Her books are simply wonderful and I’ve always enjoyed stepping between the pages of the worlds Jill gives to her readers.
If we’re talking about people in my life, then it’s definitely my mum. She’s a massive supporter of all that I do, and we’ve always been close which I love. She’s an amazing woman, so selfless and kind, and I aspire to be like her in every single way.

Finally, what would you say to aspiring writers?  Any words of advice?

Just go for it. Put pen to paper. Fingers to keys. And follow your heart. You’ve no idea of what could come from it!

 

A huge thank you to Rebecca for joining me today, it’s been loving chatting with you!

If you’ve not already read Rebecca’s books, check them out or give her a follow on Twitter.

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Author: Julia Stuart

Published: 25 August 2016
Reviewed: 25 August 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Vintage in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Brodie McBride is having a tough time.

The last expert in the ancient art of pearl fishing, he’s on a quest to track down the pearl that will complete a necklace for his wife, Elspeth, convinced that the love token will save their marriage.

But Scotland’s rivers are running out of mussels, Elspeth is running out of patience, and their daughter, Maggie, is running wild with her moustachioed pet rabbit.

And when Maggie takes matters into her own hands, determined to keep the family together, the McBrides are soon at the centre of international commotion that will change everyone’s lives forever.

My Thoughts & Review:

Initially when I read the description on this book I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect, and so took a chance on what has proved to be a wonderful book.
Described in such a way that it comes across as “quirky” this is definitely a book worth reading, there are some absolutely lovely characters, some funny moments and the story is touching and poignant.

Brodie McBride (a fantastic Scottish name there!) is a pearl fisher, and has been collecting pearls for nineteen years to make a necklace for his wife Elspeth.  As fate would have it, all he needs is one final pearl to complete the necklace before he can present it to his wife and in doing so he believes he will save their marriage.  What Brodie fails to see is that being the licensed last pearl fisher in Scotland means that the others have moved on to other occupations because the pearls have become so elusive.  However hard he tries to work, his wife and young daughter Maggie still live a life of hardship and Elspeth is tiring of this and working so many little jobs to try and keep the family afloat.

The characters in this are superb, Stuart writes them as so warm and natural, Elspeth the long suffering wife, Maggie the cheeky yet loveable rascal and Brodie the stereotypical man with repressed emotions.  Maggie is a special character, the bubbliness of her pops off the pages, her plan to save her parents marriage is well crafted by Stuart, and darkly humorous at times.

A wonderful change of pace, beautifully written and very enjoyable to read.

You can buy a copy of The Last Pearl Fisher of Scotland here.

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Author: Rebecca Pugh

Published: 8 August 2016
Reviewed: 24 August 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars
Copy purchased via Amazon.co.uk

 

Description:

Maria Charm’s world might have recently crumbled, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to let it get her down.

Sure, her ex-husband broke her heart and decimated her trust, and while it would be so tempting to spend forever in her dressing gown, a tub of ice-cream in one hand and a glass of Chardonnay in the other, Maria wants more from her new—single—life!

A make over of her lovely little cottage on Daffodil Lane and a new job at Harriet’s café are just the distractions Maria needs to carve a new life in the country. One distraction she doesn’t need is Mr Tall, Brooding and Handsome from down the lane!  Maria may only be in town temporarily, but there’s nothing temporary about the tingles she feels at gorgeous Brad’s touch…

After everything she’s been through, can Maria ever trust a man again? Could risking her heart with Brad lead to a charmed life on Daffodil Lane?

My Thoughts & Review:

Down on Daffodil Lane is the third novel by Rebecca Pugh, and wisely she continues with a formula that has won the hearts of her many readers and brought great success – strong characters, wonderfully descriptive settings and a plot that allows the reader to sit back and be carried away.

Maria Charm is a character that many readers can relate to, feeling the need to make drastic changes in life following massive upheaval.  Her strength to continue, and strong will make her both loveable and will have readers rooting for her.  The entire cast of characters are well created, certain ones seemed to really pop out from the pages, I  felt that Millie was absolutely fantastic, and reminded me of one of my own friends.

The romance element to the novel can be described as cheesy, but it can also be described as a great read.  Sometimes it’s nice to imagine how a fairy tale might pan out without Disney’s rose tinted goggles and this is definitely the feeling I get reading Pugh’s novels.  Real life love stories are never linear, there is baggage, emotional fragility, laughter, mishaps and cheesy moments and so Pugh reflects this in her writing.

The writing style is natural, free flowing and enjoyable.  The beautifully descriptive settings give the reader fantastic imagery of Daffodil Lane, the cottage etc.  The pace is good, as with all of her novels you start off reading and promise “just a few chapters” and before you know it you’ve read more than half of the novel.

The only downside to this novel was that it wasn’t long enough, I didn’t want it to end!

 

You can buy a copy of Down on Daffodil Lane here.

 

Becca's Books teacup

About the Author

Rebecca Pugh grew up in the green county of Shropshire. Not an immediate reader, it took her a while to find her way towards the wonderful fictional words hidden between the pages of books. Ever since, she’s fallen under the spell of countless authors and the tales they’ve weaved. Her favourite authors include Jill Mansell, Cathy Bramley, Sarah Morgan and Holly Martin, to name but a few. She loves nothing more than tapping away at the keyboard, taking her characters from imagination to page and, when that isn’t the case, she adores curling up with a good book.

Rebecca is a fan of fairy tale romances that sweep you off your feet, dashing heroes and strong, lovable heroines. She can’t make up her mind whether she prefers a countryside escape, or a love story set in bustling New York. Either way, she’s more than happy to disappear into both.

When it comes to her own writing, Rebecca aims to whisk readers away to desirable locations, where they can meet characters who, she hopes, will begin to feel like friends. With a dash of romance here, and a shake-up of things there, she loves dreaming up stories and watching them come to life.

 

For more information about Rebecca’s books go to her Facebook page  or follow her on Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author: Luke Delaney

Published: 30 June 2016
Reviewed: 21 August 2016

4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by HarperCollins in return for an honest review

 

Description:

The new novel by Luke Delaney, ex-Met detective and author of the terrifyingly authentic DI Sean Corrigan series. Perfect for fans of Mark Billingham, Peter James and Stuart MacBride.

Sergeant Jack King is back on active duty after months off following a violent encounter. On the Met’s promotional fast-track scheme, King is headed straight for the top, but policing the streets is where his heart truly lies.

Tasked with cleaning up the notorious Grove Wood estate, King is determined to rise to the challenge. But it’s not just drug dealers and petty thugs his team have to worry about. Someone on the estate is preying on children, and they need to find the culprit, fast.

Soon King finds himself over his head: the local residents won’t play ball, his superiors want results yesterday, and he’s refusing to admit that he’s suffering from PTSD. As the pressures combine, the line between right and wrong starts to blur and King finds himself in a downward spiral. Only he can save himself – but is it already too late?

My Thoughts & Review:

The Rule of Fear is a standalone novel about Jack King, a complete departure from the much loved Corrigan novels penned by the same author.  Being a fan of Stuart MacBride’s writing I was intrigued by the claim that this book would be perfect for his fans.

Jack King is an interesting character, returning to work perhaps earlier than he should leads him to make choices that are arguably controversial at times.  This theme is explored by the author by showing the protagonist navigating between what is right and wrong and how it’s not as black and white as many people see it.

The plot itself is superb, the pace begins slowly, pulling the reader in gently before it takes hold and drags you under the surface.  The subject matter may not be easy reading for some and I would urge caution if you are uncomfortable with the idea of children being targets for abusers.  The hard hitting style of writing works well for this novel, the subject matter never strays towards anything remotely comfortable and so to write accordingly takes skill which I believe the author has done here.

This was not an easy book to read, there are definitely aspects of it that cause deep disturbance and discomfort.  The detail and care that went in to writing about the PTSD suffered in this book shows, meaning the impression it left me with was how utterly uncompromising and so powerful it is.  I would definitely say this is a book that makes the reader stop and sit back to think about what goes on in the world, how unpredictable things can be, but most of all how it can all be taken apart in an instant.

Powerful, emotive, dark and dangerous – but not for everyone.

You can buy a copy of The Rule of Fear here.

 

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The Lavender House

Author: Hilary Boyd
Published: 4 August 2016
Reviewed: 19 August 2016

3.5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Quercus Books in return for an honest review as part of Quercus Summer Reading Book Club

 

Description:

Nancy de Freitas is the glue that holds her family together. Caught between her ageing, ailing mother Frances, and her struggling daughter Louise, frequent user of Nancy’s babysitting services, it seems Nancy’s fate is to quietly go on shouldering the burden of responsibility for all four generations. Her divorce four years ago put paid to any thoughts of a partner to share her later years with. Now it looks like her family is all she has.

Then she meets Jim. Smoker, drinker, unsuccessful country singer and wearer of cowboy boots, he should be completely unsuited to the very together Nancy. And yet, there is a real spark.
But Nancy’s family don’t trust Jim one bit. They’re convinced he’ll break her heart, maybe run off with her money – he certainly distracts her from her family responsibilities.

Can she be brave enough to follow her heart? Or will she remain glued to her family’s side and walk away from one last chance for love?

My Thoughts & Review:

Lavender House is the final instalment of the Quercus Summer Reads and what a great way to round off a summer of reading.

Having not read any of Boyd’s previous books I had no idea what to expect with this one, for some reason I never seemed to pick up her books when looking for something new to read.

I did struggle slightly with this book, perhaps it was because the protagonist was many years ahead of me in age so I found it difficult to relate to her, or perhaps because I’ve not been in the same situation.

Nancy is left heartbroken and devastated when her husband leaves her for a younger woman.  Thinking she will never find love again she becomes caretaker of her family, looking after her mother, helping her daughter and babysitting her granddaughters become her main focusses in life.  When she meets Jim at a friend’s party, she feels a spark of something she’d long forgotten.

Nancy was a hard character for me to connect with, I desperately wanted her to build her confidence, tell her family to let her make her own decisions and decide where things were going with Jim, but I guess when a person has been so used to putting others before herself it will be hard, near impossible to change overnight.  Jim was an interesting character, coming across as warm and charming but despite that Nancy’s family viewed him as the representation of everything wrong for her.

I read somewhere that Boyd has carved out a niche for ‘love between the older generations’ and I would definitely agree with this, however there are themes in this book that are universal to all age groups – family, love, loyalty, financial constraints and dealing with older parents (perhaps I will take note for future use with my mother!).

The plot moved along well, more of a cosy read than a page turner for me, but it was still an alright read.  Maybe not a book I would pick up myself, but one I might buy for my mother or grandmother.

 

About the Author

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Author information courtesy of wikipedia, image courtesy of Twitter

Hilary Boyd trained as a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, and subsequently as a marriage guidance counsellor with Relate before reading English Literature at London University.  After college, Boyd became a health journalist, writing about depression, step-parenting and pregnancy. She began writing fiction as a hobby whilst raising three children and working at various day jobs including running a cancer charity, Survive Cancer, working for an engineering company, and an online vitamin site.  She published six non-fiction books on health-related subjects before turning to fiction and writing a string of bestsellers, starting with Thursdays in the Park.  Hilary is married to film director/producer Don Boyd.

To find out more about Hilary’s books follow her on Twitter @HilaryBoyd

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Author: Samantha Tonge

Published: 28 July 2016
Reviewed: 22 August 2016

4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Carina UK in return for an honest review

Description:

Dreaming of the perfect man?

Kate Golightly needs to move forward and what better way to do that then with a trip to the Cornish coast with best friend and boss, Izzy.

The sea wind is just what Kate needs to finally relax and begin to let go of her past. Except she’s suddenly got one big reason to panic! She RSVP’d ‘yes’ to the Queen Bee of her high school’s wedding saying she’s bringing her boyfriend (she doesn’t have one) who looks just like Ross Poldark!

With only two weeks to find the Poldark look-alike of her dreams Kate is under a lot of pressure for the Cornish coast to deliver…

My Thoughts & Review:

This is a lovely light hearted summer read, perfect for reading whilst enjoying the sun, Kindle on one hand, ice cool drink in the other.

Following the tale of Kate Golightly who having split from her boyfriend, finds she needs to track down a perfect lookalike of Ross Poldark to pretend to be her other half for a wedding in Cornwall.  This is not just any wedding, it’s the wedding of the most popular girl from school aka her nemesis.  No one knows Kate is single, she lied on the RSVP saying she was bringing her boyfriend, so with only 2 weeks to find this handsome fill in, she has her work cut out for her!

With giggles and mishaps aplenty, this is a quick but enjoyable read.  The food descriptions alone make this a book to read – just be warned you may end up drooling into your Kindle and wishing for a donut or two!

Fascinating characters add to the fun of this book, each has their own back story which the author has taken care and time to develop well, including  grief which she writes with empathy.  There is a good mix of humour woven together with emotion, the descriptions of Cornwall are utterly beguiling, at one point I did Google images of Cornwall to compare with the ones conjured in my head.

Great writing, well paced, wonderfully descriptive and a good story, what more could you want really?

You can buy a copy of Breakfast Under a Cornish Sun here.

 

About the Author

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Author image and information courtesy of Amazon

Samantha lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and a cat that thinks it’s a dog. Along with writing, her days are spent cycling, willing cakes to rise and avoiding housework. A love of fiction developed as a child, when she was known for reading Enid Blyton books in the bath. A desire to write bubbled away in the background whilst she pursued other careers, including a fun stint working at Disneyland Paris. Formally trained as a linguist, Samantha now likes nothing more than holing herself up in the spare room, in front of the keyboard. Writing romantic comedy novels is her passion.

Samantha has sold over 80 short stories to mainstream women’s magazines. Her debut romantic comedy novel from HarperCollins (CarinaUK), bestselling “Doubting Abbey”, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction Best Romantic Ebook award, 2014. The bestselling summer novel, Game of Scones, won the Love Stories Awards 2015 Best Romantic Ebook category. Her new novel, Breakfast under a Cornish Sun, is out now!

To find out more about Samantha’s books go to her website, her Facebook page or follow her on Twitter.

 

 

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