Saturday, 23 September 2017

Maria in the Moon @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks

About Maria in the Moon

A stunning, beautifully written dark drama by the critically acclaimed author of How To Be Brave and The Mountain in My Shoe.

Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can't remember everything. She can't remember her ninth year. She can't remember when her insomnia started. And she can't remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria.With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges... and changes everything. Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide...

My review of Maria in the Moon

Maria in the Moon is a story that took my breath away. This is a simply stunning and beautiful story about a woman's journey to find her true self. It's emotive, dark and challenging and I loved every word.

The story revolves around Catherine Hope, a thirty-two-year old woman who is single and shares a one bedroom flat over a takeaway restaurant.  Today she is simply known as Catherine, no longer Catherine-Maria, and she has no recollection of why she lost the 'Maria' at the age of nine. Set during the Hull floods of 2007, Catherine decides to volunteer at Flood Crisis, a helpline for individuals affected by the floods. It is while working there that her life begins to change, that she slowly begins to remember what happened to her all those years ago.

The author writes so beautifully, providing Catherine with a clear and distinctive voice. I felt like I knew her inside and out. She was so very transparent on the page, her vulnerability, her strength, so clear to see. This is her story and I was hooked on every word. What happened to her? What can't she remember? She is a likeable, quirky and energetic woman but is haunted by past events that she cannot recall. I felt so sorry for her. What I loved most about her was her empathy towards others, her selflessness. As well as volunteering at Flood Crisis, she works night shifts at the local nursing home. Although this side of her life is not shown on the page, I knew that she would be a caring and diligent member of staff, treating everyone she cared for with dignity and respect, just as she does with those who call Flood Line.

This novel is packed with many interesting and vibrant characters, all illuminating and with their own personal story. We have Fern, the girl whose flat she shares and whom writes a weekly column in the local paper, I loved her!, and then we have Christopher, the volunteer and mentor she meets at Flood Crisis, who makes her world shift, who accepts her for who she is.

This is such a stunning, powerful and emotional read. It's a dark and beautiful read about the strength of human spirit, about the strength of Catherine, and of how we use memory to shape our future and define our past. It's a story about childhood and family, and of dark secrets that cannot remain buried for ever.

As I read the final page, I knew that Catherine Maria Hope would stay with me for a long time. She will be forever in the moon. Such a beautiful story.

Maria in the Moon is published by Orenda Books on 30 September. You can find it on Amazon here.

With thanks to the publisher who sent me a paperback copy for review purposes.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Anatomy of a Scandal @SVaughanAuthor

About Anatomy of a Scandal

You want to believe your husband. She wants to destroy him.

 Gripping psychological drama for fans of A
pple Tree Yard, The Good Wife and Notes on a Scandal.

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes.

A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight. A wife, determined to keep her family safe, must face a prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. 

A scandal that will rock Westminster. And the women caught at the heart of it.

My review of Anatomy of a Scandal

I'll start by saying that this book got under my skin and hooked me from the very beginning. It is a slow powerful read, packed with tension, drama and strong female characters surviving and making an impact in a male dominated environment. I loved this book for its honesty, its tenacity and for female characters who would simply not give up.

Kate Woodcroft is the central character. She is a London based barrister who is assigned the difficult case of prosecuting a man accused of a sexual assault. The man is James Whitehouse, a Conservative MP. He is a powerful man, a personal friend to the Prime Minister, and a man who is rich and living the perfect life. He has the beautiful wife and two beautiful children. All of this perfection is shattered when he is accused of raping a woman who he has had a brief affair with.

We read the alternating viewpoints of James, Kate, and Jane's wife, Sophie. All of these personal stories are important to thoroughly understand what has gone on. The story is told in the present day and also from 1992, as we read the viewpoint from Holly, undergraduate at Oxford University, where James and his future wife (then an on/off girlfriend) were both students. This young woman is from a different world, from a working class background, and it is Holly's viewpoint that I found most illuminating, as it highlighted the extravagance, the sheer arrogance and unpleasantness of James and his friends from the higher classes, the elite, who studied there. Life for them appeared to be easy and one long party.

This book tackles the difficult and sensitive subjects of rape and consent, the personification of women, and of the trial process involved with a rape case. This is an intense read, a dark read and the subject matter will not be for everyone because of its sensitive nature. But I do feel that the novel explores with sensitivity and understanding, the issues of consent, and of how women who have been subjected to a sexual assault are perceived by the media and the general public.

I felt like I was in the courtroom with the victim. It's an intense read, an unsettling one, and some parts, especially within the courtroom setting that went into specific details about the alleged rape, were disturbing. This feeling of unease was further heightened, as I felt like a voyeur, hearing and seeing things that should not be seen or heard. 

The issue of rape and consent are tackled with sensitivity and compassion.

Anatomy of a Scandal is a sharp, gripping and emotional court room drama that explores sexual crime from all angles. It's an uncomfortable read, but an important one and, a read that is hugely relevant today. It simply is a stunning book.

Anatomy of a Scandal is published by Simon & Schuster UK on 11 January 2018.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an Advanced Reader Copy

Thursday, 21 September 2017

In a Cottage in a Wood by @CassGreenWriter

About In a Cottage in a Wood

Her dream home will become her worst nightmare…

A dark and twisty psychological thriller from the No.1 ebook bestselling author of The Woman Next Door.

A strange encounter

Neve comes across a troubled woman called Isabelle on Waterloo Bridge late one night. Isabelle forces a parcel into Neve’s hands and jumps to her death in the icy Thames below.

An unexpected gift

Two weeks later, as Neve’s wreck of a life in London collapses, an unexpected lifeline falls into her lap – a charming cottage in Cornwall left to her by Isabelle, the woman on the bridge. The solution to all her problems.

A twisted secret

But when Neve arrives, alone in the dark woods late one night, she finds a sinister-looking bungalow with bars across its windows. And her dream home quickly becomes her worst nightmare – a house hiding a twisted secret that will change her life forever…

My review of In a Cottage in a Wood

I'll start by just saying that I absolutely loved this book. What a fantastic read. This dark thriller hooked me from the very beginning!

In a Cottage in a Wood revolves around Neve, a woman in her thirties who seems to be lost in life. Having recently broken up from her long term boyfriend, Neve is living with her sister, brother-in-law and their two children. She is working in a job that she does not love but which pays the bills. Her life dramatically changes one night when walking home alone after a disastrous Christmas works' party and one night stand. While crossing Waterloo Bridge, she spots a woman alone, who is inappropriately dressed and whom she thinks needs help. She stops to talk, against her better judgement, and offers the woman money for the night bus. But what she gets is a parcel thrust into her hand and a parting cryptic message, before the woman jumps to her death. This is when the real story begins.

The pace is deliciously slow, as we follow Neve to Cornwall. Isabelle, the woman on the bridge, made a death bed wish of bequeathing her home to Neve. The contents and everything within it now belong to her. So with nothing to lose, and with Neve seeing this opportunity as a chance to re-evaluate her life, she makes the instant decision to head to her now new home.

The contrast between bustling inner city London and the quiet of the Cornish countryside are startling on the page. As soon as Neve enters the cottage there is a definite sense of foreboding. The descriptions of the cottage are detailed, so that I felt I was living there with Neve. I also liked the clever way in which the cottage echoed Neve's feelings and where she was at that moment in time. The cottage appeared to be a cold and uninviting space, a place where Neve did not belong. The remoteness of the cottage is also heightened because Neve does not drive. She almost appears to be trapped, the cottage drawing her in, keeping her captive. But she feels she has to stay, to figure out who Isabelle was and why she took her life. It consumes her.

This is such a clever read. When Neve suspects that all is not right with the cottage she begins to question those around her. Isabelle's brother, Richard, who lives nearby and the couple whom she quickly befriends. The real question is who can she trust?

In a Cottage in a Wood is a psychological thriller that has a big twist that I honestly didn't see coming. It held my attention, was entertaining and thoroughly creeped me out. It really is  a fabulous read!

In a Cottage in a Wood is published by Harper Collins on 21 September. It can be found on Amazon here.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Red Ribbon @historywardrobe @HotKeyBooks

About The Rec Ribbon

Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. In another life we might all have been friends together. But this was Birchwood.

For fans of The Diary of Anne Frank and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

As fourteen-year-old Ella begins her first day at work she steps into a world of silks, seams, scissors, pins, hems and trimmings. She is a dressmaker, but this is no ordinary sewing workshop. Hers are no ordinary clients.

Ella has joined the seamstresses of Birkenau-Auschwitz, as readers may recognise it. Every dress she makes could mean the difference between life and death. And this place is all about survival.

Ella seeks refuge from this reality, and from haunting memories, in her work and in the world of fashion and fabrics. She is faced with painful decisions about how far she is prepared to go to survive. Is her love of clothes and creativity nothing more than collaboration with her captors, or is it a means of staying alive? Will she fight for herself alone, or will she trust the importance of an ever-deepening friendship with Rose?

One thing weaves through the colours of couture gowns and camp mud - a red ribbon, given to Ella as a symbol of hope.

My review of The Red Ribbon

The Red Ribbon is a YA novel like no other I have ever read. This book is a poignant and gripping read about the realities of life during the Holocaust. This is an important story and one which is highly emotive. due to the subject matter.

I wasn't too sure about what to expect from this book. Although set during the horrors of the Holocaust, this story predominantly revolves around the four female central characters, Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla, in the telling of Ella's story, and this in turn reinforces the human emotions of that era, of how the Holocaust affected those living and working within Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.

This book was a real eye opener. I never knew that women were held captive, enslaved to make dresses. This is also why the novel works very well as a YA read. The sense of what is happening and the suffering tied to those atrocities is clearly evident between the lines, but the book does not go into the full details of the horrors of war. As I said, this novel is very much about the human emotions of the women and girls who were part of the camp community.

Ella is at the heart of this story. She is only fourteen- years-old and we start the book as she begins her first day at 'Birchwood' the real Auschwitz-Birkenau, within the tailoring studio. I read with fascination as there would have been a girl like Ella working at the camp, and this made the story so visceral for me. It caught my breath as I read the unfolding words. The motions of making a dress from the finest silk was not so much about creating a dress for the enemy, but rather about survival, and this is the absolute crux of this book. Learning to survive, making the most of what you have and being kind in the most difficult of circumstances.

The human aspect of this novel is its driving force. I read to revel in the human reactions, the relationships that were formed because they had to, not out of choice, and of how beauty could be present during times of great evil. This is a morality read, as what would you do under the circumstances to survive? That is the big question that is asked here.

The Red Ribbon is an uplifting story, one of hope and of how women are stronger together than being alone. This is a remarkable book and one that is of huge importance to this moment in our history.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy.

The Red Ribbon is published by Hot Key Books on 21 September. It can be found on Amazon here.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Trysting Tree by Linda Gillard

About The Trysting Tree

A century of secrets...
Four women live in the shadow of the Trysting Tree.
All have something to hide.

A man without a memory walks away from the Somme battlefield, while a young woman grieves beneath the tree that will guard her secret for a hundred years.

Ann de Freitas doesn’t remember what she witnessed when she was five. The truth lies buried in the beech wood, forgotten for forty years. Can love unlock Ann’s heart and mind?

Connor Grenville is restoring the walled garden where his grandmother, Ivy used to play. Before her death, she tried to destroy the family archive. Who was Ivy trying to protect? And why?

When a storm fells the Trysting Tree, revealing a century-old love hidden in its hollow heart, Ann and Connor begin to sift through the past in search of answers. What they discover changes everything.

“The story doesn’t start here. I need to go back. Back to a time when the beech tree still stood, when I didn’t know the truth about my family and Connor didn’t know the truth about his. Right back to a time when the twentieth century was young and the beech still kept its secrets…”

My review of The Trysting Tree

 How do I find the words to describe this beautiful book? I honestly don't think that I can do this book the justice it deserves, but I'll do my very best. The Trysting Tree is a nostalgic, romantic, and emotional read rooted firmly in reality. It is quite simply breathtaking.

The story is told both in the present day, 2015, and during the First World War in the year 1915. The storytelling is lyrical, almost poetic at times, especially in the letters that are revealed and from the beech trees in the wood where all of the characters lived. There is such an honest and raw quality to the writing, which is a constant theme throughout Linda Gillard's novels. I first fell in love with her writing having read Star Gazing, that was then shortly followed by the devouring of Emotional Geology. In each and every book we have female characters that are utterly believable and who I can relate to, and this book is no exception.

The novel really helps to shed light on the emotional impact of war, and how it altered the women who were left behind. We hear Hester's views via her journal entries, and although from over one hundred years ago, the fact that we are reading her views in this format, made them appear very relevant and modern.

Relationships are at the heart of this novel. We have the relationship between mother and daughter, both past and present. The relationship between Ann, and her mother Phoebe, is incredibly poignant. Phoebe is a woman who has struggled with motherhood, who says she is not maternal, but there is a warmth to her, and a likeability, that I couldn't shrug off. Deeply flawed, yes, but realistic, I couldn't help but like her. We also have the romantic relationships, both past and present, and although a hundred years apart, share similarities. Both encounters were a joy to read. 

The house and wood are pivotal to this story, as is the garden, for both stories. The imagery that is conveyed on the page is just magical and whimsical and echoes the romantic and nostalgic mood that has been created. The beech trees even have their own voice, and their message at the end  of the book nearly made me weep.

The Trysting Tee is such a beautiful and moving book about love, family and the devestaing events of war. It really is a must read.

The Trysting Tree was published on 11 Sept. 2016 and can be found on Amazon here.

With thanks to the author who sent me a paperback copy for review purposes.

Monday, 18 September 2017

The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club by Chrissie Manby

About The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club

In the quaint seaside town of Newbay, a beginner's cookery course is starting. And three very different students have signed up...

Liz's husband has left her for a twenty-something clean-eating blogger, and she's determined to show the world - and her daughter - she's just as capable in the kitchen. John, newly widowed after fifty years of marriage, can't live on sympathy lasagnes forever. To thirty-year-old workaholic Bella, the course is a welcome escape from her high-pressure job. Their only common ground: between them, they can barely boil an egg!

Enter talented chef Alex, who is determined to introduce his pupils to the comforts of cuisine. As Liz, John and Bella encounter various disasters in the kitchen, the unlikely trio soon form a fast friendship. Their culinary skills might be catastrophic - but could the cookery club have given them a recipe for happiness?

The wonderful new novel from bestselling author Chrissie Manby is perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Trisha Ashley, Cathy Bramley, and The Great British Bake Off.

My review of The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club

The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club was an absolute joy to read. After devouring several dark and grizzly crime thrillers, I felt that I needed a change of tone and pace, and this book fitted the bill perfectly. It's a gentle romantic comedy that ticks all of the right boxes. I loved it!

The main themes of the novel are food, cooking, friendship and love. This is the backbone to the four main characters that we meet. We have Liz, a dental hygienist whose husband of twenty years has run off with a food blogger and lifestyle guru Brittney. Liz has a teenage daughter, Saskia, and dog called Ted. Liz has taken the breakup particularly badly, and she can't seem to get over it, although it happened a year ago. She also can't cook and lives on a diet of ready meals. We then meet Alex, a loner and cook who is down on his luck and who sets up a cookery class, which Liz joins. Two other locals also join the class, John who is an elderly gentleman and widow, and Bella, a lawyer with a heart of gold who has lost her love of cooking.

What we read is an intricate account from each of these characters. We learn why they lost their love of food, what food means to them, and why they can't cook. The cookery class that Alex runs teaches them so much more than cooking.

This book, although funny, (there are lots of laugh out moments, many of which involve Ted the dog, and the car bonnet scene made me spit my coffee out) also has many poignant and reflective  moments. It's a much deeper book than at first you might think, because you judge it on its genre and lovely cover. The inner feelings of these characters are fully explored, and I felt as if I really knew them, that I understood them. I felt so sad when I finished the book, as I had to say goodbye to them.

The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club really does have everything. It's a quick and enjoyable read, there are a couple of love themed stories, and it made me laugh. I highly recommend this book when you need a little pick me up. It's a lovely read.

The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club is published by Hodder Paperbacks on 21 Sept. 2017. It cn be found on Amazon here.

With thaks to the publusher and Bookbridgr for the Advanced Reader Copy

Friday, 15 September 2017

Cold Blood @RobertBryndza @bookouture

About Cold Blood

She fell in love with a killer, now she’s one too.

The suitcase was badly rusted, and took Erika several attempts, but it yielded and sagged open as she unzipped it. Nothing could prepare her for what she would find inside…

When a battered suitcase containing the dismembered body of a young man washes up on the shore of the river Thames, Detective Erika Foster is shocked. She’s worked on some terrifying cases but never seen anything like this before.

As Erika and her team set to work, she makes the link with another victim – the body of a young woman dumped in an identical suitcase two weeks ago.

Erika quickly realises she’s on the trail of a serial killer who’s already made their next move. Yet just as Erika starts to make headway with the investigation, she is the victim of a brutal attack.

But nothing will stop Erika. As the body count rises, the twin daughters of her colleague Commander Marsh are abducted, and the stakes are higher than ever before. Can Erika save the lives of two innocent children before it’s too late? She’s running out of time and about to make a disturbing discovery…there’s more than one killer.

Brilliantly gripping, Cold Blood will have you hooked from the first page and holding your breath to the heart-stopping and shocking ending.

My review of Cold Blood

Cold Blood is the fifth instalment in the Erika Foster detective series by Robert Bryndza, and I loved it. It is dark, very dark, much darker than the previous books in the series, and for me, this was my favourite book so far. 

As already mentioned, for me, this book had a darker edge, and there was one great whopping surprise that completely shocked me, but made perfect sense. Once again Erika Foster is leading her team in the search for a serial killer. A suitcase is found washed up along the banks of the River Thanes, and inside is the mutilated and dismembered body of a man. What ensues is a grizzly and frankly disturbing read, as the team try to work out who the man is and who killed him.

I can't go into any details regarding plot, as I would give the game away, and I don't want to do that. But I will say that the plot is an intricate one, involving all of the usual characters. The story weaves effortlessly from present day to past events, with the link slowly becoming evident as you progress through the book. These insights into the past both  gripped and unnerved me, and at times were very uncomfortable reading, but necessary to understand the mind of a killer.

This is a dark read, that delves into the life of a serial killer. We are given a glimpse into their life and why they act the way they do. We see the grubbier side of life, drug addiction and poverty, all told with clarity, realism and empathy. 

This really is a gripping read and I honestly couldn't put it down. The story, although harrowing, was highly addictive, and I wondered if Erika would ever get to the truth. She is the backbone of the story. We care for her. She doesn't always get things right, but at the end of the day she cares about people, and about justice, and that's why I love her. She is also an unlikely heroine, in the fact that she is so vulnerable, wearing her heart on her sleeve, and once again, she has to make some difficult decisions about her personal life. 

Cold Blood is a gritty, all consuming and compelling serial killer mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end. I can't wait for the next book. 

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy.

Cold Blood is published by Bookouture on 20 September. It can be found on Amazon here.


Thursday, 14 September 2017

No Way Back @kellyflorentia @urbanebooks

About No Way Back

"A brilliantly-woven tale of love, friendship, heartbreak and hope - I couldn't put it down."
Jill Finlay Fiction Editor of The Weekly News

“a must-read for anyone who loves intelligent, grown-up romance” – Louise Douglas, bestselling author of The Secrets Between Us

When two eligible and attractive men are vying for your heart, it should be the perfect dilemma...

Audrey Fox has been dumped by her unreliable fiancé Nick Byrne just days before the wedding. Heartbroken and confused, the last thing she expects when she jumps on a plane to convalesce in Cyprus is romance. But a chance meeting with handsome entrepreneur and father-of-one Daniel Taylor weaves her into a dating game she's not sure she's ready for. Audrey's life is thrown into further turmoil when she discovers on her return to London that Nick has been involved in a serious motorcycle accident that's left him in intensive care. Distraught yet determined to look to the future, Audrey must make a decision - follow her heart or listen to well-meaning advice from family and friends? Because sometimes, no matter what, it's the people that we love who can hurt us the most...

My review of No Way Back

As soon as I saw this cover and read the blurb, I just knew that this was the book for me, and that I'd love it. Well, I was right. It's a fantastic read that got my attention from the very first page.

No Way Back focuses upon the likeable and energetic character of Audrey Fox. Her life has not turned out as she planned it, and at the beginning of the book we learn that her fiancé, Nick, had ended their engagement only days before the wedding. In an attempt to heal her wounds, Audrey joins her mother and father in Cyprus for a short break. This opening sets the scene beautifully. We learn of Audrey's relationship with her parents, while enjoying the beautiful descriptions of Cypriot life.

The action then switches to London, where Audrey lives in a flat, and we follow her as she begins to get her life back on track. We meet lots of Audrey's friends, and although there are a lot of faces and names to remember, the author writes with such skill, that all are memorable and all are important.

This novel is predominantly about finding happiness, about being happy with life and living life. Audrey's preconceptions of how she had hoped her life to be were abruptly shattered when her relationship ended. But what this novel's core is all about, is that life never quite works out as you planned it. Audrey is most certainly a force to be reckoned with, and the novel works so well because of her. She is a likeable character, and although she makes mistakes, we want her to be happy. I desperately felt her pain at the loss of her relationship, but jumped for joy when she met Daniel, the man who enters her life in the most unexpected of ways. I liked Daniel and everything he stood for, but like Audrey, he too had his faults.

This is a very well written novel, packed with interesting characters, a complex and winding storyline which makes the book a very enjoyable read. There are so many surprises in this novel, and many made me gasp out loud. And as for the ending, well, I now can't wait to read book two in the series and find out what Audrey Fox gets up to next.

No Way Back is published on September 21st by Urbane Publications.

With thanks to the publisher who sent me a paperback copy for review purposes.

You can find No Way Back on Amazon here.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Should You Ask Me by Marianne Kavanagh

About Should You Ask Me

'I've come about the bodies. I know who they are.'

Just before D-Day in 1944, on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, an elderly woman walks into a police station. She has information, she says, about human remains recently discovered nearby.

The bodies could have stayed buried for ever - like the pain and passion that put them there. But Mary Holmes is finally ready to tell the truth.

The young constable sent to take her statement is still suffering from the injuries that ended his army career. As he tries to make sense of her tale, William finds himself increasingly distracted. Mary's confession forces his own violent memories to the surface - betrayals and regrets as badly healed as his war wounds.

Over six days, as pressure builds for the final push in Europe, two lives reveal their secrets. Should You Ask Me is a captivating story about people at their worst and best: raw, rich, and utterly compelling.

My review of Should You Ask Me

Should You Ask Me by Marianne Cavanagh is pure joy from the beginning to the very last word. It's a story that bridges the gap between generations, that tells of secrets, lies and deceit. It is a deliciously slow read that you need to take your time over, and I adored this slow and leisurely pace.

The novel is set in the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset, just before D Day in 1944. An elderly lady, Mary Holmes, walks into a police station and says that she knows about the bodies that have been recently found in the area. She wants to confess and tell her story. William, a young officer, who was wounded in the war, both physically and mentally, is put in charge of taking her statement. But taking the statement is not a simple, nor quick task, as it takes several days, the rest of the book, for Mary to give her statement and to confess to her sins. It is this exchange between the two generations that is simply beautiful to witness.

This is a beautiful and almost poetic tale about a young woman's life. We see the old woman before us, and the rambling old woman whom we first perceived is revealed to be eloquent, caring and a woman who once lived a difficult and very different life. Mary's story captivated me. The gentle shift from present back to the past is beautifully orchestrated, and seamless. We hear Mary's story at the same time as William, and I couldn't wait for her to visit the police station each morning to resume telling  her story.

But this story is not just about Mary's past, it is also about William's former life. He, like me, thought that Mary had nothing of significance to say, but we were both wrong. The telling of Mary's story helps him to unearth his own demons and to face his own past. He enables her to tell her tale, but she helps him in more ways than he could ever have imagined.

Should You Ask Me is a story about two different generations, who ultimately share a common bond, that of loss. Both have their own story to tell. This was such a joy to read and I can't praise it highly enough. If you love a gentle read with lots of heart and wonderful poetic writing, then this is the book for you.

Should You Ask Me was published by Hodder & Stoughton on 18 May. It can be found on Amazon here.

With thanks to Bookbridgr and the publisher who provided a copy for review purposes.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Missing Girls @carolewyer @bookouture

One girl found dead. Another girl gone...

Long shadows danced on the tin walls. Inside the trunk lay Carrie Miller, wrapped in plastic, arms folded across her ribcage, lips sealed tight forever...

When a girl’s body is found at a Midlands storage unit, it is too decomposed for Detective Robyn Carter to read the signs left by the killer.

No one knows the woman in blue who rented the unit; her hire van can’t be traced. But as the leads run dry another body is uncovered. This time the killer’s distinctive mark is plain to see, and matching scratches on the first victim’s skeleton make Robyn suspect she’s searching for a serial-killer.

As Robyn closes in on the killer’s shocking hunting ground, another girl goes missing, and this time it’s someone close to her own heart.

Robyn can’t lose another loved one. Can she find the sickest individual she has ever faced, before it’s too late?

An utterly gripping and darkly compelling detective thriller that will have fans of Robert Dugoni, Angela Marsons and James Patterson hooked from the very start. You will not guess the ending!

My review of The Missing Girls

DI Robyn Carter and her team are back in the third book of this detective series. Having read the previous two books I couldn't wait to read this one, and by 'eck what a fabulous read it was! This series just gets better and better. I must just add that if you haven't read the previous two books, then this novel works very well as a stand alone.

This book opens with a dramatic and disturbing prologue, that pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the novel. We meet a young girl who is being held captive, we have no idea where she is or who her attacker is, but what we do know is that it will end badly for this young woman. This sense of doom is then further heightened when the action switches to that of a body being found in a trunk in a self-storage unit. The victim is a young teenage girl.

Robyn is at the centre of this book, we are with her every step of the way as she tries to find the murderer, and the missing girls. She is a truly inspiring and captivating character, whom I learn more about as time goes by. She is a woman who lost the love of her life, and her unborn child, and who now strives to protect the innocent and to make a difference in the world. She is fiercely loyal to her team and very much comes across as the woman next door. The kind of woman you could sit down with, have a cup of coffee and tell your innermost secrets, knowing that she would never tell a soul. I also loved her encounters with DCI Flint, in their disagreements, and that Robyn stood firmly in what she believed to be true. They make an excellent team.

Once again we meet Robyn's cousin Ross, who should by rights have his own PI series, I love him so much! We follow him in his own investigation, in trying to find an abducted dog, knowing that his investigation at some point will cross paths with Robyn's.

The novel is packed with twists, turns and red herrings, and you simply have to keep up with the relentless pace. And as for the ending, well, what a different kind of cliffhanger. I usually dislike books with a cliffhanger, but this one was so unexpected that I realised it suited the book perfectly. It couldn't have ended any other way.

The Missing Girls is an unsettling read, and a most enjoyable one. I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

The Missing Girls is published by Bookouture on 14 September and can be found on Amazon here.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Her Husband's Lover @thatjuliacrouch @headlinepg

About Her Husband's Lover

She stole her husband. Now she wants to take her life.

After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start.

Her husband Sam is dead. Her children, too, are gone, victims of the car accident in which he died.

Sam said that she would never get away from him. That he would hound her until she died if she tried to leave. Louisa never thought that he would want to harm their children though.

But then she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie.

And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her - the life she would have had if Sam had lived.

Her husband's lover wants to take her life. The only question is will Louisa let her?

My review of Her Husband's Lover

Her Husband's Lover is a domestic noir that I thoroughly enjoyed. This book has two interesting and captivating female voices as narrators, and their intertwined stories hooked me in from the very beginning.The book is told from two alternating point of views, both in the past and present. We have Louisa, the widow, whose husband Sam and two children were killed in a car crash. Sophie is the mistress, pregnant with Sam's child, and who is also grieving. 

This book is a slow burner of a read, in true domestic noir style, as there needs to be a build up of tension, we need to understand the characters. I think it's fair to say that neither of these women were likeable. But, this didn't really matter, they were truly captivating characters and although not likeable, I wanted to understand them and their actions. Ultimately, I cared about them. 

Although this book is told from two different point of views, it isn't confusing, as you know exactly who is talking. What I loved was the fat that there were two unreliable narrators. Who was telling the truth? Both women are pretty manipulative although living entirely different lives and from different classes. But this is what makes the novel so enjoyable, the fact that they are very different, from different walks of life and with their own personal agendas. 

This is a dark and unsettling psychological thriller that gripped me at page one. It is a twisted tale, and what you think that you know and understand is turned completely on its head. This book challenges you and the assumptions that you make. From this point of view it is a very clever read. 

Her Husband's Lover is a dark read, and one that raises many questions. Who is telling the truth? What really happened? The ending truly shocked me, I honestly didn't see it coming. This is the first novel I have read by Julia Crouch, and I look forward to reading many more. It really is an entertaining and disturbing read. 

Her Husband's Lover was published by Headline on 26 Jan. 2017. It can be found on Amazon here.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

The Life Assitance Agency @TomAngel1

About The Life Assistance Agency

Do you want to live forever? is THE question facing anyone pursuing immortality. But what happens when eternal life is disappointing, and everyone around you keeps dying?

Ben Ferguson-Cripps, a struggling writer with a surname that gets more attention than his creative endeavours, sets aside his literary ambitions to join the mysterious Life Assistance Agency. Their first case is to trace a missing person with links to the Elizabethan angel-caller Dr John Dee.

Pursued by a shadowy organisation - and the ghosts of Ben's past - the trail leads through Europe into the historic streets of Prague, where the long-buried secrets of Dr Dee's achievements are finally revealed, and Ben discovers there is far more to life than simply living…

My review of The Life Assistance Agency

The Life Assistance Agency by Tom Hocknell has been on my to be read pile for a very long time. But during the summer holidays I found time to sit and devour this beautiful, quirky, intelligent and highly unique book. I loved it for being different and for having such a unique voice. This book is part thriller, part historical novel, part comedy and with a dash of fantasy thrown in for good mesure. Now, for me, this mish mash of genres worked, all because of the likeable and male protagonist, Ben Ferguson-Cripps. It also reminded me of the great  Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, because of its wit and sarcastic humour.  

The novel begins when new author, Ben, is told by his agent that sales for his debut novel are not good, not good at all. He is struggling to pay the rent, and is in desperate need of some income. As luck would have it he finds a business card for The Life Assistance Agency, who do everything and anything that a customer wishes. It is run by Scott, an old friend of Ben's, who employs him on the spot. His first case is that of the missing Mr. Foxe, an eccentric academic and angel caller, and so the fun begins.

This book is quirky, and you never quite know where it is headed, but that is what I loved about it. The pair travel across Europe, while being chased by two men from The Society of Psychic Research, and these are two men who you do not want to bump into down a dark alley. 

The emphasis of the novel is that of scrying for angels, something which Mr. Foxe does, and which the great spiritualist John Dee, also did. I'll admit to knowing nothing about scrying (I did a quick Google) but all was explained wonderfully well in the novel. It was also clearly evident to me that the author has carried out extensive research on the subject. What I loved was that the historical aspects of the narrative, involving Jon Dee, were brought vividly to life via this extensive knowledge in the depiction of Jane Dee's diary entries. These passages of the book were simply wonderful. 

The writing is sharp, the pace fast and the story a joy to read. It's unlike anything that I've ever read before. From the moment I met Ben, I felt like I knew him, and enjoyed being with him on every step of his journey. The Life Assistance Agency is a quirky, fabulous read. I highly recommend it.  

The Life Assistance Agency was published by Urbane Publications on 22 September 2016. It can be found on Amazon here.

Friday, 8 September 2017

A Single Step @GeorgiaRoseBook

About A Single Step

Meet Emma Grayson, heroine of The Grayson Trilogy, a series of mysterious and romantic adventure stories.

'The gun continued to be levelled at me. “Answer it...but don’t tell him I’m here or he’ll get to listen to you die.” That concentrated my mind considerably, and as I reached for my phone I came up with a plan...’

Emma Grayson was left devastated when her life was torn apart by tragedy and betrayal. Now someone believes it’s time for her to start again and puts an advert for a job through her door which leads her to the Melton Estate. Despite her desire for a solitary existence she finds herself discovering a life she could never have imagined, challenging her independence, her fears and her resistance to love.

My review of A Single Step
 A Single Step is a beautiful gothic, romantic read that is rich with suspense and I absolutely adored it. It was an addictive and joyous read.

At the heart of this novel we have Emma Grayson. She is a strong, independent woman who has carefully tried to bury her wounds and who wants to live a solitary life. She has suffered great pain in her life, and when she is offered the chance to work at the impressive Melton Estate in managing the stables, she jumps at the chance. She envisages a life of solitude, of quietness, but the inhabitants there have other plans.

This novel works so well because of Emma. I felt as if I knew her and understood her, more importantly I empathised with her. There is much attention to detail in this book, both in terms of characterisation and in the descriptions of the environment. I could smell the stables as Emma mucked out, as well as hearing her innermost, secret thoughts. I warned to her the moment I met her, and this was a crucial factor in enjoying the story. I needed to like her, and I'm so glad that I did. 

A Single Step is an addictive read. Once I started I couldn't put it down. I wanted to learn more about Emma's past, but also, I wanted to know more about the enigmatic and gruff Trent, the Estate manager. Now, here is a romantic gothic hero that you just can't help but fall in love with. Dark and ruggedly handsome, it took me a while to get a grip of him. This mysterious self assured man comes across as arrogant and instantly antagonises Emma, and I wondered how these two would get along, and where their relationship would lead, and I wasn't disappointed, although I was surprised. 

The romantic storyline is deliciously different and what starts out as a woman seeking solitude, soon turns into a dark and brooding suspense novel, when she falls from her horse, sustaining minor injuries. For me, this was the turning point in the book, and the moment when we saw Trent's true character. It is also from this moment onwards that he pace picks up. What starts out as a slow burner of a read, soon heats up and I found myself racing through the pages. 

A Single Step is an engaging, enjoyable and clever novel that hooks you in from the very beginning. I can't watt to read book two in the Grayson Trilogy series.  

With thanks to the author who sent me a copy of the book for review purposes.

A Single Step was published by Three Shires Publishing on 22 August 2015. It can be found on Amazon here.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Truth About You, Me and Us @katehaswords

About The Truth About You, Me and Us       

Sometimes the hardest person to be honest with is yourself...

Five years ago Helen Walters walked out on her perfect life with the perfect man. Wealthy, glamorous and bored, she longed for something more.

Now a talented artist with a small business, Helen creates crazy patchwork crafts to support her young daughter, Megan. Penniless, content and single, she is almost unrecognisable.

But when her past unexpectedly collides with her new life, Helen finds herself torn. She knows what the easiest choice is, but is it what she wants?

My review of The Truth About You, Me and Us

The Truth About You, Me and Us is the second novel by Kate Field. Having read The Magic of Ramblings last year, and absolutely loving it, I was very excited about reading this book. Well, all I can say is that I loved this book just as much. It's a romance novel with hidden depth, with a hugely powerful female voice who you just can't help but see as a friend.

Helen is a single mum to Megan and runs her own independent crafts stall within the local Lancashire village where she lives. Her stall is in a community led set up, within a former church. We meet Helen's fellow stall holders and I found myself fully immersed in their world. I wanted to visit all of the stalls and sit and have a slice of cake and a cup of coffee in the café. 

This is a beautifully uplifting romantic novel that you just can't help but fall in love with. It's beautifully written and eloquently tells Helen's story - the single mum whose past finally manages to catch up with her, with both hilarious and dramatic consequences. Helen is hugely likeable and I found myself caught up in her hectic lifestyle. I wanted her craft business to be successful and for her to find happiness.

This romantic novel features two interesting male characters. Firstly we have Dan, the dark and handsome ex who comes back into Helen's life. Then we also have Joel, equally handsome but fair haired. I'll admit that I fell in love with Joel, and his dimples, within a few pages of meeting him, who wouldn't? Although these two men are incredibly handsome, what I loved even more was that Helen was a fiercely independent woman, a career woman, who as a single mother did not need a man in her life. She is outspoken and I loved her for it.

The Truth About You, Me and Us  is a story that leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling, it makes you feel good, it makes you feel happy about life. It's a romantic book at heart, but one with a strong female character who doesn't take fools lightly. If you want a romantic read that is uplifting, that is about community spirit and following your heart, then this is the book for you. I loved it!

With thanks to the author who sent me an Advanced Reader Copy for review purposes. 

The Truth About You, Me and Us was published by Accent Press on 25th August. It can be found on Amazon here.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Death Wish @LindaHuber19 @Bloodhoundbook

Death Wish Blog Tour and Review

About Death Wish

Secrets. Lies. Murder.  

When Leo decides to go into business with his mother-in-law he soon realises his mistake. Eleanor is the mother-in-law from hell and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Her daughter, Ashley, has her own reasons for hating her mother. The atmosphere is toxic and old wounds refuse to heal.  

Next door, eight-year-old Joya has a difficult life. Her parents argue constantly and her grandmother, who lives with them, is approaching death.  

Soon these two families will collide and the consequences might just be fatal…

My review of Death Wish

Death Wish is a story about family, illness, power and control. It's a cracking read that I read quickly, as I found it very difficult to put down. At first sight this book seems to be a domestic drama about a set of neighbours who have a common bond, that of a couple living with their mother/mother in law, but this novel exposes some deep and dark subjects, that make it a dark and thought provoking read. This is a book with depth, and I loved it for the many sub genres that ran throughout it, and of exploring the complexities of the family unit.

So, what's the book about? Well, the story revolves around two sets of neighbours. We have Ashley and Leo, a young couple who move in to the house next door to Martine and Stu, who have a young daughter, Joya. Leo has bought the house by investing with his mother in law, Eleanor, as without her money he could not afford to buy the property. The deal is that she lives in the annexe. This is all organised without his girlfriend's consent, and so this sets the tone for their relationship with each other and with their new home. 

Martine and Stu are married, and also find themselves living with Martine's mother. Vee, but for very different reasons. Vee has Huntingdon's disease, and as her condition progressively worsens, is forced to live with her daughter and son in law as she needs round the clock care.  This aspect of the story I found to be very realistic, well researched and quite refreshing. Vee is not made to play the victim, the one everyone feels pity towards, but rather she is shown as a strong and independent woman, who is still fiercely stubborn but who now realises that she needs help. I warmed to her instantly, and to Martine. This storyline, between mother and daughter was so very touching and dealt with a serious issue. 

This novel is not a light read, as it does tackle serious issues regarding mortality, morality and relationships. It's a clever read and a slow burning one. You really do have to immerse yourself in the first quarter of the book, to begin to understand the characters and their motives,  to truly understand the decisions that they make. It is not a fast paced, edge of-your-seat kind of read, but then, it is not meant to be. Having said all that, the ending did make me gasp out loud, as I found it totally unexpected. 

Death Wish is a gripping story, and one that had ne hooked from the very first page. I love domestic thrillers, and this book has it all. Drama, deceit and characters that truly intrigued and entertained me. Linda Huber really is a gifted storyteller.

Death Wish was published on August 31st by Bloodhound Books and can be found on Amazon here.

With thanks to Bloodhound Books for inviting me on the tour and for providing an Advanced Reader Copy

About the author

Linda grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. Not to mention several years spent as a full-time mum to two boys, a rescue dog, and a large collection of guinea pigs. Her writing career began in the nineties, when she had over fifty short stories published in women’s magazines. Several years later, she discovered the love of her writing life – psychological suspense fiction. Her seventh novel, Death Wish, will be published by Bloodhound Books in August 2017.

Follow Linda on:

Catch up and follow the blog tour