A Dog Like Lloyd by Jacqueline Sheehan

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Length: 304 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Happiness can be found in the most unexpected places…

Roxanne Pellegrino’s world collapses when her husband dies unexpectedly, and overwhelmed by her all-consuming grief, she runs away for a new start on Peaks Island.

But her new life of solitude is interrupted when she meets Lloyd – a stray black Labrador with an equally unhappy past. As both slowly begin to heal, a remarkable friendship blossoms, and Roxanne will soon discover she’s not so alone after all…

The Review: Considering half of the volume of books I used to read were stories about dogs and horses (other half were Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell and John Grisham- bet you’d never have guessed!) I don’t read enough stories with pets and dogs as the subject matter. I figured this out the other week when my son came home with a Michael Morpungo book and it got me thinking back to how I’d fall into stories of loveable, honest pets that would give up their life to get back to their master, would save humans at the drop of a hat no matter how they’d been treated, or who were strugging to find ‘the one’ in terms of an owner.

This is the story of Lloyd. Lloyd had found ‘the one,’ but has somehow been separated from them, and has landed in the hands of the new Animal Control warden of Peaks Island, Roxanne. Roxanne is struggling after the loss of her husband, the lovely vet, Bob, who she feels she could have saved. It is a beautiful, rich story, and I found myself immersed in it, but was sometimes disappointed that it wasn’t told just a little bit more simply, that it had to be on a bit of a grander, more spiritual level, but this is just personal preference (you know at this stage I like them kept simple!).

Although Roxanne is very familiar with the animal world from being with Bob, we get to study and experience the warmth and vividness of the descriptions of the animals as she meets them in text and in real life and we learn so much, both in relation to what they are and their care.

There is also the story of Melissa, a teenager, who is also finding life tough and we wonder where the lives of the three (Lloyd being one), will cross over. Melissa’s story is a tough one, she is hiding an eating disorder, and at times I found it a bit difficult to read.

I adored Lloyd, the big black Labrador, who even told us his story at one point in the book, a piece I had most definitely been looking forward to. The descriptiveness of the rugged, wild surroundings was fantastic, as were the nuggets of information on different, unusual animals that came to them, and I found Roxanne’s actual journey to be well done too, although very sad in places. All in all it was a lovely, thought provoking read that will get me looking out more doggy tales! Thanks so much to Ebury Publishing for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft

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Length: 326 pages

Please note that the image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say:
Tara Logan adores her perfect little family: husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer. 

But her happiness is shattered when she wakes up one morning in her neighbour’s bed, with no memory of how she got there or what happened between them. And worse – he has been stabbed to death.

Convinced she didn’t kill Lee and scared of losing everything she cares about, Tara flees home and stays silent, holding her breath as the investigation grips the neighbourhood.

But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara starts to wonder if someone in her life knows what really happened that night. When the police turn their questions towards her, Tara realises she has to find out.

But what will it take to uncover the real story, and can she survive the truth?

The Review: Okay. So anyone who’s read this blog for a while knows of my love for all books by Kathryn Croft. (The Girl You Lost’s review is here while The Girl With No Past’s review is  here

This was another book designed to keep you guessing as to who (if not Tara herself) was involved in the murder, this read featuring the demise of her neighbour Lee. From the off I was pulled straight in, as always the characters are everyday people next door types, with varying personality traits that have you wondering what they themselves know, and as a result I was basically suspecting everyone. Throw into the mix her issues with her husband Noah, a very difficult daughter, Rosie, who was the one person I hoped hadn’t been involved in the crime, and the addition of characters as you went on and you were pretty sure it could have been anyone! Central to the story was that Tara couldn’t remember what had happened and had no idea how she woke up next to a dead body and so you didn’t know if she was involved or not.

While You Were Sleeping kept me gripped, and waiting for the ending, but I think a problem was that there were a few too many unlikable characters. Saying that, I kept reading on, being thrown from one conclusion to the next with my head all jumbled, waiting to see what happened. A really enjoyable read, although I have to admit it didn’t quite grab me in the same way as the two books I’ve named above.

Rating: 4/5

Blog Tour: Review: The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square by Lilly Bartlett

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Amazon UK

Amazon US

What they say:

Everyone expects great things from Emma Billings, but when her future gets derailed by an unexpected turn of events, she realizes that getting back on track means traveling in a different direction.

She finds it in the closed-down pub on Carlton Square. Summoning every ounce of ingenuity, and with the help of her friends and family, she opens the Second Chance Café. The charity training business is meant to keep vulnerable kids off the streets and (hopefully) away from the Metropolitan Police, and her new employees are full of ideas, enthusiasm … and trouble. They’ll need as much TLC as the customers they’re serving.

This ragtag group of chancers have to make a go of a business they know nothing about, and they do get some expert help from an Italian who’s in love with the espresso machine and a professional sandwich whisperer who reads auras, but not everyone is happy to see the café open. Their milk keeps disappearing and someone is canceling the cake orders, but it’s when someone commits bloomicide on all their window boxes that Emma realizes things are serious. Can the café survive when NIMBY neighbors and the rival café owner join forces to close them down? Or will Emma’s dreams fall as flat as the cakes they’re serving?

The Review: Today is my stop on The Second Chance Café in Carlton Square, the second in the Carlton Square series. Here we meet Emma Billings, who is refurbishing an old pub, with a plan for it to become a café that will help the locality, in part by taking on employees who need a little bit of help. I always love stories where there’s a big job to be undertaken to start a new place, and so I was happy out! This is an interesting book, kind of mom lit where we see Emma with the kids meets cosy read, where we experience all the goings on in setting up and being in the café.

There were a myriad of characters, so so many and this was the reason I wish I’d read the first-so that I could have gotten to know them earlier, and in more detail. The characters range from her family, with a great group of older characters, in particular her lovely Dad, to her friends, a very varied group of mothers who I liked in places and perhaps found a little loud in others, and of course her employees and customers. In fact it is because of all these characters that I wouldn’t recommend this as a standalone.

So. Emma’s feeling overwhelmed with this big task because she also has very young twins and feels everything is left to her (I agreed with this in places but then also found Emma to be a tad ott on that front in others, just because I loved Daniel!) The book on the whole was very enjoyable, I couldn’t believe the sabotage when it came, hitting us hard and fast and I couldn’t wait to see  the end result. The whole book was like this, always something happening, which was great in places, and then in others I kind of wished we could slow down a little, in particular for the parts I really enjoyed.  All in all a very enjoyable read, not always my cup of coffee, but most definitely one that will appeal to so many! Thanks so much to Michele Gorman and Harper Impulse for the ARC in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Now follow the blog tour!

The Second Chance Cafe blog tour graphic (1)

About the author

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Lilly Bartlett’s cosy romcoms are full of warmth, quirky characters and guaranteed happily-ever-afters.

Lilly is the pen-name of Sunday Times and USA Today best-selling author, Michele Gorman, who writes best friend-girl power comedies under her own name.

Website: www.michelegorman.co.uk
Blog: http://michelegormanwriter.blogspot.com
Instagram: @michelegormanuk
Twitter: @MicheleGormanUK
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Freebie and Giveaway! Heath, Cliffs & Wandering Hearts by Laura Barnard

laurabarnardPlease note that the image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

FREEBIE!! GIVEAWAY!! To celebrate Laura Barnard’s birthday week (happy birthday, Laura!) she’s put Heath, Cliffs & Wandering Hearts FREE – myBook.to/Heathcliffs To win a SIGNED PAPERBACK and £5/$5 Amazon Gift Card just head on over to her facebook page (here).

WINNER of Best Young Adult Book 2016 – Jo & Isa Love Books Reader’s Choice Awards

Life for sixteen year old Savannah Franks has just been turned upside down. Her Mum’s business has failed and they’re forced to move into a maisonette in the rough end of town.

She doesn’t want anyone to know her dire situation, not even her besties. So when the rest of the money for the school ski trip is due she can’t be seen not to attend. Everyone is going! She just needs to find a job. Add that to the list of getting a boyfriend and losing her pathetic virginity.

But working every spare hour in a job she hates on top of school work and mounting secrets doesn’t prove easy. Soon she’s keeping so many she’s not even sure herself what’s true and what’s not.

The only person she can lean on to tell the truth is her best friend Heath.

Only…did he get hot recently? That won’t make things awkward between them…right?

 

About the author

laura

 

Laura Barnard lives in Hertfordshire, UK and writes romantic comedy or ‘chick lit’ as its so often described. In her spare time she enjoys drinking her body weight in tea, indulging in cupcakes the size of her face and drooling over hunks like Jamie Dornan, Ryan Gosling and Leo Dicaprio.

She enjoys wearing yoga pants and reading fitness magazines while sitting on the sofa eating chocolate. She’s a real fan of the power nap, loves setting her friends up together and of course READING!

She writes not to get rich or famous, but because she LOVES writing. Even if one person tells her they enjoyed her book it makes the midnight typing worth it!

She’s an Amazon best seller and also the winner of Favourite British Author 2016 – Two Peas in a Pod Reader’s Choice Awards and Favourite Romantic Comedy Author 2016 – Obsessed with Books Indie World Awards.

Goodreads

It’s Always The Husband by Michele Campbell

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Length: 320 pages

Please note the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny. They first met as college roommates and soon became inseparable, even though they are as different as three women can be. Twenty years later, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge, and someone else is urging them to jump. How did things come to this? As the novel cuts back and forth between their college years and their adult years, you see the exact reasons why these women love and hate each other – but can feelings that strong lead to murder? Or will everyone assume, as is often the case, that it’s always the husband?

The review: We start this story with a kicker:

‘She stumbled through the dark woods, the trees dripping raindrops onto her hair and party dress. Her shoes were covered in mud, and she trembled from the cold.’

This is the story of three housemates in a top college, Carlisle, all very different in personality, stature and popularity. Although inseparable, we are shown that at times they are not sure of each other and would otherwise most probably never have even met, let alone ended up being so close. There’s Aubrey, who doesn’t believe someone with her background will ever fit in somewhere as grand as Carlisle, Jenny, a down to earth local who seems to take it all in her stride, and Kate, who has never heard the word ‘no,’ and for whom popularity, wealth and stature are a given. The distinctions between these characters were perfection and I jumped between liking each of them and wondering were their agendas.

There’s a night when something happens and we are shot forward to twenty years later (loved this idea!), where some of the fortunes seem to have switched over somehow. Again I was not sure who I could trust or like. One of our trio suffers a tragic fate, and next thing we know we’re trying to solve a murder that might not be a murder. We’re led up, down and back up the garden path again, until inevitably, all becomes clear. The only thing was, it didn’t really become clear for me, as I found the ending to be like something of an afterthought, tacked on for effect. Saying that, this is subjective and many would have loved it. Aside from this I found this all to be one heck of a journey, although people who don’t like all the college years kind of stuff should be warned it takes up the first half of the book. Personally I loved the lightness of said years, that contrasted nicely with the drama and suspense that followed (also excellently done!). It was just the ending really, which was a pity, but it did disappoint me.

Thanks to St Martin’s Press and Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Review of opening chapters of The Last Piece Of My Heart by Paige Toon and an admission on my part!

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Please note that the cover image leads to an Amazon buy link for the book
My admission: Okay. So. When I saw this on Netgalley my heart just about jumped out of my chest. Paige Toon, queen of romantic comedy up for request! And so I leaped. Possibly, I can say now, without even wondering WHY this book, that I had read many an excited blogger lust after, that so many of the queens of chick lit had reviewed, that magazines had included in their spreads, threw up a ‘read now’ message as opposed to the normal ‘request’ instruction. Within seconds I realised I had actually been approved to read just an opening segment of the book. I sighed and for the first time ever, turned to the review section of Netgalley, purely to see if others had thought the same.

Either they hadn’t or they weren’t going to admit it. Perhaps there had been a huge caveat beside the cover and I’d missed it (it’s very likely, I was very excited!) There was, in general, a flurry of gushing, although most said it was a pity it was so short (perhaps their diplomatic manner of confirming what I was looking for). There were also a number of people saying they’d have loved to have had an actual ARC of the book. It’s a testament to both author and publisher that there’s so much demand and people are fine about only reading such a short extract, but it was just a little disheartening. Whatever way it happened, it happened, but I will say I’ll have to look before I jump in future, if only to save myself the disappointment of a) thinking the publisher had thought me worthy of being pre-approved (okay, yes, I did feel a little inferior as a result of this, it’s silly but there you go) and b) thinking I was about to sit down and enjoy Paige Toon’s new book. So there you go, a caveat. Perhaps people prefer this way to reviewing a whole book as they know whether they want to read on or not? I’d be interested to know! (If you want, you can read further down for my ‘review!’

What they say:When life feels like a puzzle, sometimes it’s the small pieces that make up the bigger picture… Join Bridget on a journey to put her world back together.

A successful travel journalist, Bridget has ambitions to turn her quirky relationship blog about the missing pieces of her heart into a book. But after a spate of rejections from publishers, she accepts an alternative proposition.

Nicole Dupré died leaving behind a bestselling novel and an incomplete sequel. Tasked with finishing the book, Bridget is thankful to have her foot in the publishing door, even if it means relocating to Cornwall for the summer and answering to Nicole’s grieving husband, Charlie…
The ‘review’: So this is the story of Bridget, who has reached an impasse and decided it’s time to figure out what’s the REAL story with her love life. She had always blamed the first love of her life for mucking up potential perfect future relationships, but he sends her head into a spin with the idea that maybe the truth lies in the relationships since. And so she decides to delve further into this idea.

Ms Toon got me early on with some beautiful phrasing and the fact that this book would include bookish information on travelling that was laden with romance. The premise of the story, looking into TWELVE loves of her life, I’ll admit, had me siding with Bridget’s editor and thinking ‘twelve? Really?’, but that was quickly parked with the introduction of the story of Nicole Dupre, who Bridget is to ghostwrite on behalf of. This most definitely saved the book for me and I most definitely will read on in the future, although it might say something that I didn’t go straight to download from Amazon straight away. So there you go, I’m sorry if this was all a bit bitter and ranty, and the more seasoned among you will probably tell me this happens all the time, I just find it a bit of a pity, both for the bloggers who felt they missed  out, and the authors out there who have struggled to get their book noticed on Netgalley. Sorry!

The Singalong Society for Singletons by Katey Lovell

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Length: 235 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say:

A charming, feel good novel about the healing powers of friendship…and Frozen!

Monique and Issy are teachers, housemates and lovers of musicals! Their Friday night routine consists of snacks, wine and the Frozen DVD. So when Monique’s boyfriend moves to America for a year and her sister Hope moves in because of her own relationship woes, Friday nights get a new name… ‘The Singalong Society for Singletons’!

It’s a chance to get together, sing along to their favourite tracks from the best-loved West End shows, and forget the worries of work, relationships and love (or lack of it). But when Issy shares the details of their little group further afield, they get some unexpected new members who might just change their opinions on singledom for good….

The Review: You may remember by review of Three Men and A Maybe (review here) where I said that it was just a bit of a standy outy one for me (no it’s not an actual phrase and yes, I am still going to use it;)) and I’m happy to say that this pretty much matched it in terms of a book with that smile out loud factor. I really, really enjoyed this. As you can see it’s the story of Monique (I’d take her to be the main character in it anyhoo, although the blurb seems to say differently!), who opens the story with the planning of a proposal (beautifully and brilliantly done), that doesn’t quite go to plan.

Trying to figure out what to do, her and her housemate, Issy (who I love!) happen upon an excellent (and it really is!) idea, that instead of doing the whole pub/ night club thing, they’ll start up a Friday night get together where they watch their favourite musicals and sing along to them. I have to jump back a little actually, because the real start of the book is the list of musicals, which excited me so much (I’m not a theatre goer, I enjoy the film version more, I know, this is sacriligous to say, but I do!) as it had Singing In The Rain in there, Frozen (must be watched even if you don’t have kids!), Little shop of horrors and so much more. The cast listing told us the characters of the book and I was interested to see who had a leading role, and who was sidelined.

The characters were perfection (I adored issy AND Connie AND Hope!), each with very different personalities that matched and clashed in just the right places (I have to admit my least favourite was Monique as I found her to be a tad self absorbed, you’ll see that from the fact that she’s the only one I didn’t mention above and I feel guilty for that, I really do!), and all with something going on (I loved that each of the characters had their own issues, which were vivid and funny, dramatic and sad). I have to admit I did wonder how this would work out romance-wise, and I wasn’t disappointed when the male party was introduced (superbly done, in my humble opinion!)

I won’t lie, this is more of a book for later in the year, and I regret I didn’t review this earlier (damn rural internet!), possibly nearer to Christmas, but you can bookmark or buy at any time of the year so, in that respect, I’m setting you up for a good Winter read. This is one for the die hard musical fan, who will appreciate the nod to the musical that is named at the beginning of each chapter, or the person, like me, who isn’t totally, but just appreciates a bright, sparkly story that has just enough grit to hold it’s own joined with an excellent host of characters. Thanks to Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5