Monday, 30 March 2015

What Katie Ate At The Weekend - Katie Quinn Davies

"What Katie Ate: At the Weekend takes favourite recipes from Katie Quinn Davies' wildly successful blog, along with many never-seen-before recipes, and presents them in this gorgeous book filled with Katie's unique and beautiful photography. She shares her inspiring ideas for informal get-togethers, whether it be for a couple or a crowd. Entice your guests with Katie's refreshing take on flavour-packed pizzas, salads, tapas, cocktails and decadent desserts."

There is nothing a book-reviewing cake baker loves more than to receive a cook book in the post for review. There was plenty of excited squealing going on at Hall Farm when What Katie Ate at the Weekend hit the mat. 
Choc-ful of delicious, tempting recipes from breakfast right through to yummy desserts and even cocktails, I couldn't wait to get started on some of the recipes. Although a few of the receipts do use slightly unusual ingredients that may be difficult to get hold of, I am a "tweaking" cook anyway (and I know, I KNOW, that often sticking to the recipe is best, but sometimes you have NO OPTION!), so anything I couldn't get I kind of tweaked and subbed other bits for it. 
With three children and a husband to feed, none of whom all want to eat the same thing on any one evening, Katie's Truffle Burgers with creamy mushrooms and pancetta went down a storm (and anything that they will ALL clear their plates for is a HUGE hit in my kitchen), my burgers lacked the necessary truffle salt (too many children to spend time tracking down truffle salt) but it really didn't matter. Every child (including the husband) cleared the lot in record time - a success by anyones standards. The Pork Ragu, whilst time consuming is also worth the wait, and my attempt at Katie's Limoncello Victoria Sponge with Balsamic Strawberries didn't last much more than a half hour on the serving plate. A cook book that is a joy to use, and that I will definitely be returning to again and again!

What Katie Ate At The Weekend is out on 9th April and you can get it here:

**Many, many thanks to Salt Yard Books for my review copy**

Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Girl in 6E - A.R. Torre

"Deanna Madden, aka Jessica Reilly, hasn't touched another person in three years. 
She hasn't left her apartment. 
She makes money from performing to webcams on a sex site, where her clients pay $6.99 a minute for her time.
She's doing alright. The dollars are piling up in the bank. She's the number 3 model on
And she hasn't killed anyone for years.
But when Deanna sees on the news that a little girl called Annie has gone missing, the story rattles her carefully ordered world. It's uncomfortably similar to the dark fantasy of one of her most disturbing online clients. She's convinced he's responsible for the girl's abduction - but no one will listen to her.
So, after three years, Deanna finally leaves the apartment.

And this is what happens…"

Oh, this was GOOD. At first I wasn't too sure, Deanna/Jessica works as a "model" on sex webcam shows and there is quite a bit of description into what she actually does in her cam shows. This is not really my kind of thing, and I was close to giving up, but having read the blurb I was hoping for something more - and there was MORE.
Deanna's story is really, really, disturbing and although I felt like I shouldn't like her, I actually did. Despite the back story (which does eventually become clear), I felt sorry for her. Who could stand to stay in their apartment ALL THE TIME?? She is terrified of leaving, and it's hard to say more than that without leaking out huge, great spoilers. 
This was a brilliant novel, that I picked up purely by chance in everyone's favourite major book shop, simply because I had already chosen one novel and it was buy one get one half price, but I'm so glad I persevered with it. An unusual, shocking, disturbing story that will stay with me for a good while, and I'm recommending it to everyone I meet, (and Book Club BFF has already laid claim to my copy!).

The Girl in 6E is out now and you can get it here:

Thursday, 26 March 2015

**GIVEAWAY** - Theft of Life - Imogen Robertson

"London, 1785. When the body of a West Indies planter is found pegged out in the grounds of St Paul's, suspicion falls on one of the victim's former slaves, who was found with his watch on the London streets. As Harriet and Crowther begin investigate, however, they find the answer is not that simple. Together, they negotiate the interests of the British government, the secrets of the plantation owners, and a network of alliances stretching across the Atlantic. And they must confront the uncomfortable truth that some people are willing to do great evil when they believe their cause to be just."

I had never read any Imogen Robertson before this novel, but she's definitely going in my TBR pile. Although a little slow to start, this ended up being a brilliant crime thriller set in the 1700's. I loved Harriet - despite the restrictions placed on women during that time Harriet seemed to reject all of them and carry on doing her own thing, (and I do love a woman who carries on and does her own thing!). There were a lot of characters to get my head around in this book, but I think it would have helped if I had read the four other previous novels in the series. Despite that, once I remembered who everyone was I really enjoyed the plot, it moved at a fast enough pace to entertain while still giving great amounts of detail, that I find always helps when reading historical novels. 

Theft of Life works well as a standalone novel, and yes, I do think it helps to have read the previous books, but its not absolutely necessary to enjoy this one. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am now going to back track on myself to find out what Harriet was up to before this! 

Theft of Life is published in paperback today - 26th March - and you can get it here:

**GIVEAWAY** - Reading Room with a View has one paperback copy up for grabs! To win just follow @ReadingRoom79 and retweet the giveaway! Winner picked Monday 30th March.

*Thanks to Frances Gough at Headline for my review copy*

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Blood of the Rose - Kevin Murray

"London, 1986. A newspaper editor is horrifically murdered, his death quickly followed by a series of more brutal, and often bizarre, slayings. The police are baffled, the only clear link between the murders being a single blood red rose left at the scene of every killing. Why? What does the rose mean? What connects the killer to each bloody corpse? Scotland Yard detective Alan Winters leads a hunt for the elusive prey. As the body count rises, Jennifer Chapman, renowned investigative journalist and daughter of the murdered newspaper editor, sets out on a personal quest for revenge. Drawn together in their pursuit of a deadly quarry, Winters and Jennifer unwittingly face a fatal surprise, for the killer is closer than they think. As they close in on the truth of the blood red rose, their unseen foe plots a shattering end to his reign of terror, and death awaits them all…."

Being an '80's queen, I loved the fact that this novel was set in the '80's - and so well too, even down to little things like the fact that one guy, talking on the phone, went to the telephone table - who even has one of those any more? EVERYONE HAD ONE IN THE '80'S! This was a brilliant, if a little gory, crime thriller - it's not for the faint-hearted, there are some parts that are pretty descriptive, but if you do enjoy a good murder, this one is definitely for you. 
The characters are well-written, however I was expecting the story to focus on one detective, when in actual fact it focussed on another - not a problem, it was actually quite refreshing to have a novel paying attention to a detective who might have had a smaller role in an average crime thriller. I also was a bit stunned by the way the detective and the victims daughter's relationship in the initial stages, but it led to an excellent ending, with a subtle twist that I wasn't expecting.
In all, a brilliant crime novel, with just enough goriness to delight those of us who love a good murder, strong characters and it's set in the 80's!

Blood of the Rose is out now and you can get it here:

**Thanks to Matthew Smith at Urbane Publishing for my review copy**

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Edge of Dark - Pamela Hartshorne

"Jane believes in keeping her promises, but a deathbed vow sets her on a twisting path of deceit and joy that takes her from the dark secrets of Holmwood House in York to the sign of the golden lily in London's Mincing Lane. Getting what you want, Jane discovers, comes at a price. For the child that she longed for, the child she promised to love and to keep safe, turns out to be a darker spirit than she could ever have imagined.

Over four centuries later, Roz Acclam remembers nothing of the fire that killed her family - or of the brother who set it. Trying on a beautiful Elizabethan necklace found in the newly restored Holmwood House triggers disturbing memories of the past at last - but the past Roz remembers is not her own . . ."

What can I say? I LOVED this book. It gave me such a book hangover that I couldn't start another book until it was fully out of my system. I loved the whole time-slip part of the novel, and it was so well-written that it became completely believable. 

I liked Roz, and Jane, both were strong, well-written characters, and Jane's story was absolutely heartbreaking in places. Present day relationships are tied up very cleverly with past relationships, creating two parallel story lines that work amazingly well together. If you enjoy historical fiction, and have enjoyed previous authors such as Barbara Erskine and Deborah Harkness (although less of the supernatural in this novel!) then you will LOVE Pamela Hartshorne - I am definitely going to look for more of her previous works now I've discovered The Edge of Dark.

The Edge of Dark is out now and you can get it here: 

**I received a review copy from the publisher**

Saturday, 21 March 2015

**GIVEAWAY** Long Hill Home - Kathryn Pincus

“She drifted in an endless black slumber marred only by white hot flashes of pain. She tried to rouse herself from her terrible nightmare. When she finally regained consciousness, terror flooded her with the realization that she was still entombed in darkness and pain, and her nightmare was only beginning.” Kelly Malloy is a wife, a mother and a successful lawyer whose world is shattered when she is brutally attacked while running along the banks of the Brandywine River. Chad McCloskey, a lonely teenage boy from a dysfunctional home, stumbles upon Kelly Malloy’s unconscious body immediately after the assault, and he is falsely accused of the crime after he tries to help her. Maria Hernandez, a young woman who emigrated illegally from Mexico, is reluctantly thrust into the role of witness to the crime, putting her in jeopardy of deportation only weeks before she is to give birth to her child. Kelly, Chad and Maria all suffer tremendous adversity in the wake of the crime, and they ultimately discover that their lives and their fate are inextricably and permanently connected. Long Hill Home is a story of crime, mystery and the legal process—but it is also a story about the human condition, and how, regardless of vast differences in background or circumstances, all people strive for the same things—love, security and a fulfilling life."

Kelly's story is actually quite terrifying - attacked whilst running alone, she then has the battle of returning to her former self, battered and bruised both inside and out, and Kathryn Pincus deals with this issue in a very sensitive manner. I did enjoy this novel, and I enjoyed the way the stories of the three main characters were told in alternating chapters, each putting their own perspective on events, however it did feel a little rushed in places - I perhaps would have enjoyed it more if it was a slightly longer novel, but not quite as pacey. I felt for Chad, a guy who tried to do the right thing, even though to most of us, what he did was the opposite of anything we would have done! He came across as very naive, and even a little simple in some places, which meant that he appeared as a very vulnerable character, which did make my heartstrings tug a little for him. Some of the characters could have been a little more fleshed out - I would have liked to have learnt a little bit more about Dan, but overall I really enjoyed the story, (it reminded me in places of early Mark Gimenez) and look forward to reading more by Kathryn Pincus.

Long Hill Home is out now and you can get it here:

*I was kindly sent a copy by the publisher*


Reading Room With a View has ONE Paperback copy of Long Hill Home to give away! To enter simply follow @ReadingRoom79 on Twitter and retweet the giveaway! Winner will be chosen on Tuesday 24th March. 

Friday, 20 March 2015

Secrets of The Tower - Debbie Rix

"Pisa, 1999 
Sam Campbell sits by her husband’s hospital bed. Far from home and her children, she must care for Michael who is recovering from a stroke. A man she loves deeply. A man who has been unfaithful to her. 

Alone and in need of distraction, Sam decides to pick up Michael’s research into the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Immersing herself in the ancient city, she begins to piece together the mystery behind the creation of the tower, and discovers the woman that history forgot… 

Pisa, 1171 
Berta di Bernardo, the wife of a rich merchant, sits in her chamber, dressing for a dinner party. A gathering that will change the course of her life and that of a young master mason, Gerardo, forever. 

A strong, intelligent woman, Berta’s passion for architecture draws her to Gerardo. As she embarks on a love affair, her maid Aurelia also becomes spellbound by the same man. Yet for Berta, her heart’s desire is to see the Tower built, and her determination knows no bounds… "

In all honesty, I wasn't sure if this was going to be my thing, but I am SO GLAD I picked it up. A gorgeous story of the building of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, love affairs, resentment, jealousy, Secrets of the Tower had the whole package for me. The tale hooked me in within a few pages, and Debbie Rix writes her characters so well you can't help but get attached to them. I loved the women in this novel - all of them were strong, feisty characters that despite being treated like crap by their menfolk were determined not to lose out at any cost. The menfolk in question however, I didn't love so much. I thought Michael was a total shit, and completely undeserving of Sam, whereas it took me a long while to warm to Gerardo as I wasn't completely sure of his motives. 

Having visited, and fallen in love with Pisa a few years ago, it was easy for me to understand how Sam could become so involved with the story behind the Tower, and it was fascinating to read Debbie's descriptions of Pisa long ago, she manages to evoke the sights, sounds and smells as though you are standing right there. A truly lovely novel, if you have ever visited the Tower, or if even a teensy part of you thinks you might like to, then I highly recommend you read Secrets of The Tower. 

Secrets of the Tower is out now and you can get it here:

*I was kindly sent a copy by the lovely Kim Nash at Bookouture*

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Adult Onset - Ann-Marie MacDonald

"Mary Rose McKinnon has two children with her partner Hilary and a fractured relationship with her mother Dolly; she also has issues with anger management and lives in fear of hurting the children and these feelings seem somehow rooted in a part of her childhood she has trouble remembering. 
Is Dolly - the kind of big personality who makes all Mary Rose's friends, and even waiters in coffee shops, exclaim 'I love your Mum!' - really harbouring a dark secret about what caused Mary Rose's childhood injuries, and is Mary Rose doomed to follow the same path with her own children?"

This was a very cleverly told story focussing on a woman and her relationship with the women around her. Mary-Rose's relationship with her partner, which is fractious at times following the births and adoptions of their children together, her relationship with her mother, and with her youngest child, her daughter. 

I think every woman who is married, has kids and has a mother can relate to each and every one of these relationships! Many women find that their relationship with their partner (male or female) changes once children arrive on the scene. There are many women out there who do not have the perfect relationship with their own mother, and I, being one of them, could relate completely to this. Whilst my own mother was never violent or abusive, (she was actually a fairly good mother), there are things that my own mother did that I have vowed to NEVER do to my own children, so to see Mary-Rose going through the exact same feelings as I have myself was very uncomfortable at times. Ann-Marie MacDonald however, captures the thoughts and feelings perfectly in her writing, and deals with some very sensitive issues in a very sensitive way. Despite feeling uncomfortable at times, I thoroughly enjoyed Adult Onset and will definitely be searching more of Ann-Marie MacDonald's work to add to my TBR pile!

Adult Onset is out now and you can get it here:

*I very kindly received an ARC from the publisher*

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Hausfrau - Jill Alexander Essbaum

"Anna was a good wife, mostly . . .

Anna Benz lives in comfort and affluence with her husband and three young children in Dietlikon, a picture-perfect suburb of Zurich. Anna, an American expat, has chosen this life far from home; but, despite its tranquility and order, inside she is falling apart.

Feeling adrift and unable to connect with her husband or his family; with the fellow expatriates who try to befriend her; or even, increasingly, her own thoughts and emotions, Anna attempts to assert her agency in the only way that makes sense to her: by engaging in short-lived but intense sexual affairs.

But adultery, too, has its own morality, and when Anna finds herself crossing a line, she will set off a terrible chain of events that ends in unspeakable tragedy. As her life crashes down around her, Anna must then discover where one must go when there is no going back . . ."

Weirdly compelling, and without a doubt unputdownable, but three days after finishing Hausfrau I'm still not sure whether I actually enjoyed it or not. I did, but at the same time I didn't. Anna is not a character that inspires any emotion other than pity and I really, really didn't like her, but at the same time I had to read to the end to find out what happened to her. 

I dont think there is a single character in the novel that I felt any empathy for, except perhaps Mary, but she was too good to be true and not someone that I would want to befriend in real life. Jill Alexander Essbaum has very cleverly created characters that show all their flaws, their selfishness and sometimes blatant disregard for others. The ending is both brutal and subtle, and left me openmouthed, and I am so glad I read to the end.

In short, not for the faint-hearted - there are some parts that are shocking, and you probably won't like a single character in the entire novel, but definitely, DEFINITELY read it. 

Hausfrau is out on 26th March and you can get it here:

*I was very kindly given an ARC by the publisher*

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Three Amazing Things About You - Jill Mansell

"Hallie has a secret. She's in love. He's perfect for her in every way, but he's seriously out of bounds. And her friends aren't going to help her because what they do know is that Hallie doesn't have long to live. Time is running out...
Flo has a dilemma. She really likes Zander. But his scary sister won't be even faintly amused if she thinks Zander and Flo are becoming friends - let alone anything more.
Tasha has a problem. Her new boyfriend is the adventurous type. And she's afraid one of his adventures will go badly wrong."

Jill Mansell is my go-to author when I've read WAY too much dark stuff and I am in need of something a little lighter, and this was just perfect. It's not as light as her earlier books, but Three Things is gloriously uplifting, despite having quite a serious storyline running through it. The characters are just gorgeous and some are down right hilarious - everybody has met a Lena or a Giles at least once in their life (although I am yet to throw soup over one, watch this space) and some of them broke my heart a little bit. A delicate issue is dealt with very well in Hallie's illness, and I think the characters reactions to what was happening to Hallie was perfect. I laughed and I cried all the way through, what a perfect, perfect pick me up. 

Three Amazing Things About You is out now and you can get it here:

*I received a proof copy from the publisher*

Friday, 13 March 2015

The A-Z of You and Me - James Hannah

"Ivo fell for her.
He fell for a girl he can’t get back.
Now he’s hoping for something.
While he waits he plays a game: 
He chooses a body part and tells us its link to the past he threw away.
He tells us the story of how she found him, and how he lost her.
But he doesn't have long.
And he still has one thing left to do …"

I GULPED down this novel in one sitting, ignoring everybody in the house until I was done. It was so, so much more than I was expecting - Ivo's story is both heart breaking and infuriating. There were times when I wanted to reach in and shake him, shouting, "WHY??? WHY DID YOU DO THAT??? You KNEW what would happen if you did that!", which has to be an excellent indication of quite how attached I became to Ivo during our short time together. 

Some characters in this story are downright loathsome, but so very easy to relate to. Everybody knows someone like Mal, (whether or not they are friends with him is another matter), if you have siblings you can understand Ivo's relationship with Laura, and anyone who has ever lost someone they love will relate to Ivo's relationship with Mia.

In short, I loved this novel. I loved Ivo, even though he made me cry, laugh and bloody furious in turn. James Hannah has written a beautiful, sensitive tale of love and loss, of anger and regret that will stay with me for a very long time. 

The A-Z of You and Me is published on 12th March and you can get it here:

*I was very kindly sent an ARC by the publisher*

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Soil - Jamie Kornegay

"It begins as a simple dream.

An idealistic environmental scientist moves his wife and young son off the grid, to a stretch of river bottom farmland in the Mississippi hills, hoping to position himself at the forefront of a revolution in agriculture.

Within a year, he is ruined.

When a corpse appears on his family's property, the farmer is convinced he's being set up. And so begins a journey into a maze of misperceptions and personal obsessions, as the farmer, his now-estranged wife, a predatory deputy, and a backwoods wanderer, all try to uphold a personal sense of honour.

By turns hilarious and darkly disturbing, Soil traces one man's apocalypse to its epic showdown in the Mississippi mudflats."

When the tag line of a book states, "The Coen Brothers meets Crime and Punishment - with a Mississippi twist", you kind of know it's going to be a good one. For me, this one was a slow burner - at first I was picking it up here and there and reading a chapter at a time, when it suddenly hooked me and wouldn't let me go. Jay's spiral further and further into his paranoia makes for uncomfortable reading in some places, where as in others the Fargo-esque twists and turns of the story did make me laugh out loud in places, ("Leavenger shot that dog himself after she come up pregnant with his own man-pups", had me sniggering like a child). 

Some parts may leave the reader feeling a little uncomfortable and in some places downright grossed out (for want of a better word) but Jamie Kornegay is a fantastic writer, and has created a darkly funny tale of murder, accusation and paranoia with some crazy-funny dialogue thrown in for good measure. If you liked Fargo you'll love Soil.

Soil is out now and you can get it here (and I highly recommend you do):

*I received an review copy from the publisher via Bookbridgr*

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Truth Will Out - Jane Isaac

"Everything's going to be okay." 
"What if it's not?"

Suddenly, she turned. For a split second she halted, her head inclined.

"Naomi, what is it?"

She whisked back to face Eva.

"There's somebody in the house..."

Eva is horrified when she witnesses an attack on her best friend. She calls an ambulance and forces herself to flee Hampton, fearing for her own safety. DCI Helen Lavery leads the investigation into the murder. With no leads, no further witnesses and no sign of forced entry, the murder enquiry begins.

Slowly, the pieces of the puzzle start to come together. But as Helen inches towards solving the case, her past becomes caught up in her present.

Someone is after them both. Someone who will stop at nothing to get what they want. And as the net starts to close around them, can Helen escape her own demons as well as helping Eva to escape hers?"

I love a good police procedural and this novel from Jane Isaac didn't disappoint. The best thing about being a book blogger is that you quite often end up discovering authors that might have passed you by otherwise, and I hadn't heard of Jane before until I caught up with her on Twitter.  The story starts with fairly shocking scenes in which Eva witnesses an attack on her best friend, and this marks the start of an exhausting ride for lead detective Helen Lavery (and for us!).

I really enjoyed this, plenty of twists and turns and horrible characters that are dealt with excellently. I like Jane's writing - it is clear and flowing, (nothing worse than 'clunky' writing, especially in a thriller!) and her characters are strong. A solid four star read for me and I am looking forward to reading more from Jane.

The Truth Will Out is out now and you can get it here:

*I was lucky enough to receive a copy from the author*

Saturday, 7 March 2015

New Habits - Eleanor Stewart

"The sequel to the popular Kicking the Habit! When Eleanor Stewart abandoned her vows and her life as a nun, she found herself in the middle of the swinging Sixties – and soon joined in. Boyfriends, parties, and mini-skirts took the place of silence and restraint, as she pursued her career as a midwife and the men she met with equal commitment. Troubled by her relationship with her mother, and what she saw as a growing estrangement from her faith, she finally falls in love and settles down – only to discover her past catching up with her, as she faces infertility. But with her husband at her side, they battle to adopt two children. Will the dream of a happy family, that drove her out of the convent, finally come true?"

I LOVED this book. Eleanor Stewart is totally not what I was expecting as an ex-nun - she is funny, feisty and a little bit wild and if I had been around then I would have wanted to go for a drink with her. Eleanor's story is a no-holds-barred, honest account of her time in Portsmouth and Chichester, following her departure from her convent in Liverpool, (and she spent time in Southsea, where I lived in a student house many moons ago). At times it is a little shocking (and maybe slightly cringe-y for her children, Eleanor is very frank regarding her past!), but there are some real heart-breaking moments, which Eleanor deals with delicately and with real compassion. In all, a really beautiful story - the relationship between Eleanor and her husband is told with real honesty, from the moment they meet until the day they become adoptive parents. Truly inspiring, and with a real happy ending.

New Habits is out now and you can get it here:

*I was lucky enough to receive a copy from the publisher as part of the Blog Tour*

Friday, 6 March 2015

The Girl in the Red Coat - Kate Hamer

"Carmel Wakeford becomes separated from her mother at a local children's festival, and is found by a man who claims to be her estranged grandfather. He tells her that her mother has had an accident and that she is to live with him for now. As days become weeks with her new family, 8-year-old Carmel realises that this man believes she has a special gift...
While her mother desperately tries to find her, Carmel embarks on an extraordinary journey, one that will make her question who she is - and who she might become."

This was completely not what I expected from a story surrounding a kidnapping - in fact, I don't think anything in this story was what I was expecting. This was a haunting, heartbreaking novel of loss and discovery - and is difficult to review without spoilers. What I will say, is that Kate Hamer has created some truly stunning characters, with the power to evoke the strongest emotions. Carmel broke my heart over and over, as did Beth, and "Gramps" made me feel uncomfortable to the point of nausea in some places. 

While I wouldn't say that this is your typical "thriller", it kept me gripped from the first page to the very last, and if you are looking for a story with an unusual plot and strong, well-written characters, that you will be completely unable to put down, then The Girl in the Red Coat comes highly recommended. A perfect book club choice.

The Girl in the Red Coat is out now and you can get it here:

*I received an ARC through the publisher and Netgalley*

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Ivy Lane - Cathy Bramley

"Tilly Parker needs a fresh start, fresh air and a fresh attitude if she is ever to leave the past behind and move on with her life. As she seeks out peace and quiet in a new town, taking on a plot at Ivy Lane allotments seems like the perfect solution.
But the friendly Ivy Lane community has other ideas and gradually draw Tilly in to their cosy, comforting world of planting seedlings, organizing bake sales and planning seasonal parties.
As the seasons pass, will Tilly learn to stop hiding amongst the sweetpeas and let people back into her life – and her heart?"

Ahhhhhh Tilly. I just wanted to scoop her up and give her a big squeeze. Every so often a character appears in your bookish life that just melts your heart, and that is Tilly. She is sweet, kind and  thoughtful, but terrified of life after what can only be described as a really, reallllllly crappy time. 

All of the characters that appear in Ivy Lane are easy to relate to and very easy to become attached too - Cathy's writing is warm and refreshing, and if I was guaranteed to meet people like the folks of Ivy Lane allotments then I'd have my name on the list like a shot. Instead I'll have to make do with my patch at the bottom of the garden, with only my chickens and rowdy children for company. 

Ivy Lane is a gorgeous tale of friendships, love, trust and learning to move on - please, PLEASE read it, if only for the warm, fuzzy feeling I guarantee you'll have by the end. And to make things even better, I've heard that Cathy is writing a follow-on book, telling the story of a minor character from Ivy Lane. (YAY! I want to be on the blogger list for that one!)

Ivy Lane is out now and you can get it here:

*I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from Sarah Harwood at Transworld Books*

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Stranger Child - Rachel Abbott

"One Dark Secret. One act of revenge. 

When Emma Joseph met her husband David, he was a man shattered by grief. His first wife had been killed outright when her car veered off the road. Just as tragically, their six-year-old daughter mysteriously vanished from the scene of the accident. 

Now, six years later, Emma believes the painful years are behind them. She and David have built a new life together and have a beautiful baby son, Ollie. 
Then a stranger walks into their lives, and their world tilts on its axis. 
Emma’s life no longer feels secure. Does she know what really happened all those years ago? And why does she feel so frightened for herself and for her baby? 

When a desperate Emma reaches out to her old friend DCI Tom Douglas for help, she puts all their lives in jeopardy. Before long, a web of deceit is revealed that shocks both Emma and Tom to the core. 

They say you should never trust a stranger. Maybe they’re right."

I heart Rachel Abbott SO MUCH, so I was absolutely chuffed as nuts to receive an ARC of Stranger Child. If you have read Rachel's previous books, then you will already be familiar with the characters in this novel, and if you're anything like me, you'll already be emotionally attached to them. This is probably the hardest review to write EVER, without giving away any spoilers! All I can tell you is what's in the blurb above - and that there are epic plot twists in there. So epic in fact, that once I finished reading I had to message Rachel just to squeal at her regarding the twists (sorry Rachel! x). Even though I guessed the major plot twist at about three-quarters of the way through, this by no means detracted from the rest of the story - I spent the remaining quarter crossing my fingers that things were going to go the way I wanted them to. That's all I can tell you without ruining it for you all. Just go and buy it. Now. And then sit and squeal all the way through to the end. 

Stranger Child is out now and you can get it here:

One Night, One Secret, Two Friends - Sasha Lane

"We all want the fairy tale, don’t we? To fall in love with the perfect guy, be proposed to in the most romantic way while being presented with a gorgeous ring the size of a rock, and then plan the dream wedding before living happily ever after. But in reality do we really want that kind of public display of emotion? In a world where romance has morphed into online dating, Skype, and communicating via social media while multitasking, do we still want the sanctity of a marriage proposal carried out in a traditional and somewhat old-fashioned way? 

Emma Storey is thirty-two trying to balance her love life, friends and work. She has been in a relationship with Chris for two years and is eagerly anticipating his proposal over a romantic meal. But the proposal doesn't go quite to plan and Emma's world is flipped upside down. To make matters worse, Emma’s best friend, Sophie, is full of the joys of a new relationship with her new man, Connor, whom Emma is yet to meet. 

Emma’s mother – homely housewife turned sophisticated divorcĂ©e businesswoman – persuades Emma to take a few days’ respite from the situation and visit her in New York. But two weeks later Emma is still feeling sorry for herself, so her two work friends, Jenny and Lola, take her out. There she meets a cute guy at the bar, who introduces himself as Johnny. He easily charms a drunken Emma back to his apartment for ‘coffee’ but this proves to have devastating consequences. 

Emma is then forced to keep her secret or risk losing everything."

I quite enjoyed this novel, more than I was expecting to. Emma's story is pretty unusual, and quite scary in some places, however I did think that it could have been a little more refined. For me, Connor was just not frightening enough. Although he was definitely not a very pleasant person, I do think the author could have taken his nastiness even further and created even more drama. In some places the writing was little clunky (for want of a better word!), and maybe a little more editing could have been done to make things a little bit sharper. That said, I still didn't stop reading, and although it was fairly slow paced at the beginning, the little asides in italics after every few chapters kept me hooked enough to see what the end result was going to be. 

I'm going to give 3 stars for One Night, it would have been higher but I would have liked to see the characters be a little more fleshed out - I wanted to know a bit more about Connor and Sophie. Also, there were a few typos and a few blank pages, however the book is self published so I was expecting a few little glitches. I will be looking out for more by Sasha Lane.

One Night, One Secret, Two Friends is out now and you can get it here:

*I was kindly given my copy by the author*