The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard by Robert Bryndza

thenotsosecret

Length: 310 pages

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

What they say: Coco Pinchard always dreamed of being a successful writer, but then life got in the way. She married young, had a son, and put her dreams on hold… But now she’s forty, and her first novel is about to be published! Her husband Daniel has greyed nicely into a silver fox, and her son Rosencrantz is all grown up. Shouldn’t it be time to enjoy life?

That is, until the annual family Christmas when her hideous in-laws come to stay, and Coco opens her gift from Daniel. It’s not the jewellery she chose, but an iPhone. This marks the start of Daniel’s mid-life crisis and Coco catches him in bed with a younger woman.

The iPhone becomes a confessional, and as Coco’s life unravels, she documents her seemingly endless (and often entertaining) run of bad luck through emails to loyal friends Christopher, an ageing trustafarian, and Marika, a slightly alcoholic schoolteacher.

Then Coco meets the hunky Adam and she’s back in the world of dating as a single forty-something. Read the emails that tell the heart warming and often hilarious tale of Coco picking up the pieces, in this fun, feel-good Romantic Comedy.

The Review: I had heard so much about this series of books from Robert Bryndza, in the first instance from  Facebook posts Bookaholic Holly from Bookaholic Confessions (excellent blog-check it out) and, always being in search for chick lit I was very tempted but then I Read The Girl in the Ice and The Night Stalker and Mr Bryndza was somehow cemented in my brain as a thriller writer and so that was it. Then one day I began to see different parts of the series on special offer and started to buy them up. One of the first books that jumped out at me when I signed up to Kindle Unlimited was this book and  I saw it as a sign that I had to cop on and get moving (yes I do put this much thought into books!).

So, I’ve always loved reading books where you find out what’s happening through emails or a diary and this was no exception. We begin with a description of Coco’s  christmas that had me ready for a great book from the get go-“Rosencrantz” ( that’s Coco’s son) “picked up his nan, Ethel, from her nursing home, and she began with the usual, ‘This might be my last Christmas’ before inviting herself for Christmas next year, and Easter, and Mother’s Day … ”

The book sees Coco, author (yay!) of Chasing Diana Spencer, an, um, alternative look at the royals, who is doing some book promo and hoping her book will hit it big. After a perceived too frank interview, Coco is shunned from the book world and has to try to figure things out. Throw into the mix some issues with her husband Daniel and her son, a struggling actor and you get pacing and a story that keeps your eyes glued to the screen. The characters were exellent, I’m not going to mention  too many but Ethel was epic (and I don’t use that word lightly), in particular there was a gorgeous  letter that she wrote to Rosencrantz (who I also really enjoyed) that I re-read after,  and Chris was so lovely, and of course Coco was such a legend, strong and inspiring. The most excellent thing about this book was how brave it was, it didn’t just make you smile, it made you giggle, titter, and snigger too! It was very much in the ‘Carry On’ style in places, and yet the perfect balance of seriously over the top inappropriateness was equaled with good old fashioned ‘it’s the way you tell em’ humour. I loved it all and can’t wait to get to number 2.
Rating:5/5

Rise by Cara Brookins

 

riseLength: 320 pages

Buy Links (Powell’s, Kobo, iBooks, Bam, Indie Bound, Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com)

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

What they say: If you were inspired by Wild and Eat, Pray, Love, you’ll love this extraordinary true story of a woman taking the greatest risk of her life in order to heal from the unthinkable.

After escaping an abusive marriage, Cara Brookins had four children to provide for and no one to turn to but herself. In desperate need of a home but without the means to buy one, she did something incredible.

Equipped only with YouTube instructional videos, a small bank loan and a mile-wide stubborn streak, Cara built her own house from the foundation up with a work crew made up of her four children.

It would be the hardest thing she had ever done. With no experience nailing together anything bigger than a bookshelf, she and her kids poured concrete, framed the walls and laid bricks for their two story, five bedroom house. She had convinced herself that if they could build a house, they could rebuild their broken family.

This must-read memoir traces one family’s rise from battered victims to stronger, better versions of themselves, all through one extraordinary do-it-yourself project.

The Review: This was, as you have probably guessed, a story about the building of a house. The house, of course, symbolises the rebuilding of a life, the making of a home, a sanctuary, somewhere the family in question can breathe and feel safe.

It is the tale of a family who was constantly running, constantly looking over their shoulders in fear of their past, part of that being a man, Adam, who descended into insanity via schizophrenia. The book was divided into two parts:the rise and fall, the dreamy hopeful journey of a family intent on not being victims vs the darkness of past and present. We saw the lead’s dealings with domestic violence, then having to contend with life with or without a man who was neither in control of himself or his actions. We got enough backstory to see how chilling life had been, while acknowledging of course how life was for both him and his family. I found the toughest of this story come towards the end of the book and wished I could have got it that little bit sooner so that I really knew why the family were so on the edge. Saying that even before I knew the true depths of the horror they had to endure there were a few moments that sent actual chills.

I felt nervous as to whether Adam was looking for them, as you could never tell whether she was (justifiably) being paranoid or whether it was Adam straightening things around the house or looking in the window. The building of the house had a lot of detail to it, which I think many people will enjoy. I will admit it wasn’t always my cup of tea (I’m the sort of person who watches Grand Designs for the people story, finished product and the issues that arise, the nuts and bolts of the building process go over my head!) I suppose that the analogy to Eat, Pray, Love is acceptable, although like said book, I found some of it to be just the slightest bit repetitive in terms of the reminders of what they had to lose, what they had achieved and what the house symbolised but mix that with more darkness and a scene that I think some people will find a little tough in terms of the picture it paints. This was a book that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go, especially when I read the final chapter, which brought home the fact that this was a true story and really made me appreciate the journey. By the way I also have to direct you to her blog and website, which I really enjoyed. Thanks so much to the author and St Martin’s Press for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the author: For this I’ll send you to the author’s homepage which tells you herself! (here)

carabrookins

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Out Now: See You Later Broadway by Melissa Baldwin @mpbaldwinauthor @HelloChickLit

seeyoulaterbroadwayLength: 337 pages

Please note as always that the cover image leads to an Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: It’s finally here . . . the much-anticipated sequel to See You Soon Broadway! Maris is back!


Decisions, decisions, decisions . . .

Maris Forrester’s exciting new life is not everything she was hoping it would be. Although she’s happy in her new career, she’s plagued with the feeling that something is still missing. Imagine her surprise when an old friend presents her with an unbelievable opportunity that could change everything. This new career sounds almost too good to be true, including the upcoming trip to London. She quickly learns that even the most perfect scenarios have their drawbacks, and when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is . . .

In addition to making a life-changing career choice, Maris realizes she has other decisions to make—whom to love and where to find happiness. What if neither is what she thought they should be?

About the author

melissabaldwin

Melissa Baldwin is an avid runner, planner obsessed, and has always had a love for writing. She is a wife, mother, and avid journal keeper who took her creativity to the next level by fulfilling her dream with her debut novel, An Event to Remember…or Forget. Melissa writes about charming, ambitious, and real women and is now a published author of seven Romantic Comedy novels and novellas.

When she isn’t deep in the writing zone, this multi-tasking master organizer is busy spending time with her family, chauffeuring her daughter, traveling, running, indulging in fitness, and taking a Disney Cruise every now and then.

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Blog Tour: The Choir On Hope Street by Annie Lyons

TheChoirOnHopeStreet

Note: As always the cover image leads to a universal buy link for the book

What they say:

The best things in life happen when you least expect them

Nat’s husband has just said the six words no one wants to hear – ‘I don’t love you any more’.

Picture-perfect Caroline has to welcome her estranged mother into her house after she was forced out of an exclusive nursing home.

Living on the same street these two women couldn’t be more different. Until the local community centre is threatened, galvanising Caroline and the people of Hope Street into action. But when the only way to save the centre is to form a community choir – no one, least of all Nat, expects the results…

This spring, hope is coming!

This is ‘Calendar Girls’ meets ‘Pitch Perfect’! A moving and funny story that delves into the truth of moving on, marriage and finding friendship in the most unlikely of places. Perfect for fans of Lucy Diamond, Carole Matthews and Jill Mansell, this story will make you laugh and cry.

‘It is just the most adorable, consuming read you’ll read all year!’

Guilt Free Twenty-Something

The Review: I think one of the best parts of being a book blogger is when you review a book from an author that you know you enjoy (as you can see from my review of the brilliant Life or Something Like it which you can find here ), so to be part of the blog tour for said author is something very special indeed.

The book began simply but with a bang.

“‘I don’t love you any more.’ That was it. Six words delivered so simply, as if he were reading the news.”

From these few lines on I felt for Natalie Garfield, who had just been delivered the life shattering lines. Natalie isn’t quite sure where it all went wrong, they were the solid couple, the couple that would never be in trouble and yet here she is. Natalie was one heck of a character. A children’s book writer (yay!), she was understandably a bit of a mess, trying to muddle through for the sake of her child Woody (who was just so so gorgeous). What was so excellant was that even as she muddled through, even as she was down and falling apart, we could still see her character shine through, you could still see how much fun she was, how thoughtful and how out there she was and this made me want to read her story. There was another story going on at the same time, and what a tribute to Ms Lyons that I wanted to hear this one as much as that of the amazing Natalie.

Caroline, said other voice in the book, was right before my eyes from the second I began to read her- an always smiling, always in control, never a hair out of place, need to look good for the husband to keep the marriage alive type of mother who was just perfection.

“I don’t mean to sound judgemental but I despair of playground mothers sometimes. Where is their self respect? We’re all pushed for time in the mornings – the least we can do is apply a little eyeliner and make ourselves presentable. We’re supposed to be role models for the next generation, after all.”

I adored her too and couldn’t wait to see how the two characters would work/ clash with each other when they both decided to work towards keeping open the community centre on Hope Street by setting up a choir and competing to gain some coverage of the centre’s plight, aided by Natalie’s noteriety as a writer and Caroline’s can-do, must-do attitude.

When I tell you that the two characters were both amazing in their own way, the journey they go through together is something special as they try to understand each other (including parenting styles), getting Caroline to face up to some very harsh realities, including her relationship with her mother which was both shocking and so so moving (yes, I did cry). Natalie and Caroline were a very special coupling, and it’s difficult to stop talking about them, but I have to, to remind you that this is a book about the setting up of a choir, with, again, brilliantly written, genius personalities, and magnificent descriptions of locations, buildings, songs and harmonies. I’ll be honest, I could gush about this book all day,  a fun, funny, beautiful, gripping, fantastic story that just cements Annie Lyons in my authors to remember list (yes, I do have one of these!) and tells me I have to get back to her excellent backlog (see them here). A must read. Thanks so much to Harpercollins and Ms. Lyons for this lovely book in return for an honest review.

The Choir on Hope Street by Annie Lyons, published by HQ (HarperCollins), will be published on the 6th April 2017 in e-book and paperback.

 

ChoirOnHopeStreet_Booktour

About The Author:

annielyons

Do you know sometimes you can’t beat the words from the author themself? Read a detailed, absolutely lovely description of Ms Lyons’ Works and brilliant achievements here

Her books (again lifted from her lovely website!)

Amazon Author Page

The Cinderella Reflex by Joan Brady

thecinderellareflex

Length: 338 pages

Note: The cover image leads to a universal Amazon Book link 

What they say:It’s time to stop waiting for prince charming and rescue yourself

No matter how strong and independent Tess Morgan appeared on the outside, she was always let down by her inner five-year-old – who persistently believed that one day her Prince would come.

Real life is tough. For Tess, her job with struggling local radio station Atlantic 1FM is very tough. Between dealing with the demands of her megalomaniac presenter Ollie Andrews, her neurotic boss Helene Harper and the crazy workload associated with her role as producer on the This Morning programme, sometimes she just wants someone who will make all the problems go away.

Helene, meanwhile, is having difficulties of her own. Coming up to her fortieth milestone birthday, her career has taken a wrong turning down an unpleasant cul-de-sac and she’s becoming impatient for the day when her married lover will make an honest woman of her.

Things go from bad to worse when Atlantic 1FM is suddenly bought over by mogul Jack McCabe, who immediately launches a competition for a new star at the station. Soon nerves are frayed and friendships strained as everyone battles to keep their jobs.

Tess gets back in touch with the ex she still thinks of as The One Who Got Away. Helene tries to pull strings with her influential lover.

But what will it take for both women to stop playing Cinderella and find a way to launch their own rescue?

The Review: I had seen both this book and the author, Joan Brady at the Wexford Literary festival and it had gone on my tbr straight away and so I was beyond thrilled to be offered it for review. But instead of starting with the beginning of the book, I’ll move to a little bit before that and turn to the dedication:

‘For Vera, who inspired me to write in the first place with these words of wisdom: “All you have to do to get good marks in English is to make things up.”‘

which, straight off the bat, I found to be so charming, and so, smiling, I settled down to read, happy to get going.

Tess Morgan is struggling at her job at a radio station. This setting was excellent, as we got a real feel for day to day events and issues and the problems that will kill a good, or indeeed sometimes average shows. These shows are more the problem for Tess, along with a highly strung presenter, Ollie Andrews, who she is charged with managing. This was coupled with the daily chore of dealing with her boss, Helene, who is constantly on her back, a falling listenership and talk of a takeover. The book is very much character driven and there were some characters I loved and others I didn’t warm to as much, but I loved that we got to know Helene too, that it wasn’t just Tess’ opinion of her.

The whole book had a lovely homely feel to it, very Irish, and I read it in two nights, very much engrossed and unable to put it down, in fact I was loathe to put it down and would easily have read in one night had I been able to. I predicted some of the occurrences and was thrilled when they happened exactly as I hoped they would. This was especially true for some of the comedy moments, which I really enjoyed.

At times there were a few niggles, some repetition in terms of wording, but that could have been me being a little pernickety. My other  issue turned out to be quite a big one for me, that perhaps it felt a little like I’d read it in the wrong time, I felt that I’d have connected with all of that better a few years ago during the recession as opposed to ‘post recession’ (I know we’re not fully post recession but for some reason I just couldn’t reconcile this with the present day).

Even though the subject matter is one that could potentially and rightly cause debate, how talented, intelligent women don’t fulfill their destiny because they’re waiting for their prince to rescue them, I found this to be a very enjoyable, light, easy-going read, one for people who like some homely, charming comedy.

Thanks so much to the author Joan Brady, Poolbeg and to Tracy Brennan from Trace Literary Agency  for the book in return for an honest review.

About the author

joanbrady

 

Joan Brady is is an award-winning Irish journalist and broadcast producer. She started her career as a features writer and newspaper columnist for Independent Newspapers and later worked as a researcher, producer and scriptwriter for RTE, Ireland’s national television and radio station.

The Cinderella Reflex is her first novel and is published by Poolbeg press

Her second novel, Reinventing Susannah, also published by Poolbeg, is coming soon!

Joan is represented by US-based Tracy Brennan from Trace Literary Agency

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Witness by Caroline Mitchell

witness

Length: 338 pages

Note: As always the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: To Rebecca it was a brave decision that led to her freedom from domestic abuse. To Solomon it was the ultimate betrayal.

It’s been ten years since Rebecca’s testimony saw Solomon locked away. Enough time for the nightmares to recede, the nerves to relax; enough time to rebuild her life and put the past behind her.

Then one day a phone rings in her bedroom—but it’s not her phone. Solomon has been in her home, and has a very simple message for her: for each of the ten years he has spent in jail, Rebecca must witness a crime. And, to make matters worse, she has to choose the victims.

Fail to respond and you get hurt. Talk to police and you die. Ready to play? You have sixty seconds to decide…

As the crimes grow more severe, the victims closer to home, Rebecca is forced to confront a past she had hoped was gone forever.

The Review:  You’ll remember I read The Silent Twin by Caroline Mitchell (read review here) and loved it, saying I had to get onto her other books. I’m afraid that didn’t go to plan, but this book has only cemented that I’m going to be reading her amazing thrillers for some time to come!

Now before I start I need to make sure you’ve read the blurb above. Impressed? Excited? Ready? Okay-let’s go!!!

We begin this tale in 2005 where a girl, Rebecca, is cradling a severely injured man on her lap. When the police say they’re there to help, she says they can’t, because the attacker’s father is one of them (jumps around the place excitedly!)  …

The book moves between diary extracts from ten years ago to a non diary narrative of modern day in a small Welsh town of Ponty Ferry where Rebecca is now married with a young child. The diary extracts contained some beautiful details about Rebecca and her mother and we were introduced to Solomon, her ex boyfriend. Back to modern day and Rebecca receives a message saying she has to nominate a person for a crime, and then witness it. This will happen a further nine times …
The story revolves around the ex, Solomon, and what a character he is! If I’m honest the only other character of this nature that remains as memorable to me is ‘Oliver’ from ‘Unraveling Oliver’ by Liz Nugent. Solomon has a back story that stays in your mind and makes you realise the impact a lack of parental love can have on someone. His thought processes are horrendous but pure genius, as is his revenge.

I highlight as I read, and make notes too, and as I went through this book I highlighted line after line, passage after passage, totally engrossed in every single detail but then, as soon after the crimes that Rebecca is forced to witness began,  I stopped as I was too engrossed.

The storyline was a great experiment on what someone will do to keep themselves and their family alive, although I have to admit there were so many things I’d have done differently(!) The drama builds and builds, the pages turn, and the numbers on the chapters, which I found to be deliciously short, climbed. There was also the nice touch that at times the diary extracts interrupted you, you had been notified as to who the person and the crime was, and just as you were ready to ‘see’ the crime, you got the diary extract with an equally important and riveting backstory. Saying all of this I have to warn you that although it’s not the toughest out there there is violence and a theme of domestic abuse. And, well that’s all I’m going to tell you except Id be shocked if this wasn’t in my top ten books at the end 2017.

Excellent plot, pacing and characters, a mesmerising book that has got me ready to work my way through all of Caroline Mitchell’s books.
Rating:5/5

All Fall Down by Tom Bale

 

allfalldown

Length: 359 pages

Note: The cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link

What they say:

It’s the perfect Sunday. Summer sunshine, a barbecue with the kids.
But a knock on the garden gate and two words, ‘HELP ME’, changes everything.

When loving parents Rob and Wendy Turner let a dying man into their home, and do their best to help him, they think pure chance led him to their house. But soon their lives are threatened in ways they could never have imagined … and then the first anonymous letter arrives, forcing them to question all they know.

Someone is watching.
Someone is waiting.
They will stop at nothing.

Rob and Wendy will do anything to keep their family safe, but their children Georgia, Josh and Evan are teenagers now, with their own hidden lives.

Everyone has secrets, but how can you save your family, if you don’t really know them?

The Review: I had seen this book on so many blogs and was chomping at the bit to get to it. From the start I was excited. There’s so many thrillers out there where whatever happens takes place when the lead is alone, and it was nice for it to take place at a family barbecue, when everyone was together and so there were witnesses. The ‘it’ is the stumbling of a homeless man who has been tortured into the garden. This more than set the scene and I was ready for a rough ride. I enjoyed Mr Bale’s storytelling, after worrying at the start that the writing wasn’t my cup of tea, as Rob, the lead, was too paranoid and wondered a bit too much about the homeless man, leading me to think that the ‘was there a message to all of this’ line of thinking was trying too hard to lead us. This flew in the face of times where we weren’t told things about the past that could have been alluded to earlier.  My other issue was that I found the story to be a bit disjointed at times, and I had to make notes on the many minor characters, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Saying that, this all quickly faded to grey as we followed Rob and his family away and came face to face with a group of nut jobs (well, they were!), who felt they had the right to do as they pleased to get all the power they felt they deserved. I had that muzzy feeling and tension headache that comes from being so deep into a book that you are walking alongside the characters absolutely terrified of what is going to happen next. This group of people wanted to push boundaries by seeing how they can physically hurt people and I knew the author was over a line that most of the thriller and crime writers that I read would toe, and it had me nervous of what I could actually read. I had some relief when some things DIDN’T happen but it was still a tough one. Saying that it was excellent, the story, the characters, the tension, and I read it in just two sittings (would have read in one but, you know, kid stuff;)) and couldn’t stop thinking about it. Highly recommend if you like the grit of a tough hostage situation where anything can go. Special mention for Tom Bale’s letter to the reader at the end-it will most definitely drive me on to his next book. Thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for this book in return for an honest review.
Rating:5/5