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While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft

whileyou

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

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.

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After The Fall by Julie Cohen

afterthefall

Length: 390 pages

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

What they say: From the author who brought you Dear Thing, Julie Cohen, comes After the Fall–a poignant, beautifully heartbreaking novel about what it means to be family, the ties that bind us, and the secrets that threaten to tear us apart.

When an unfortunate accident forces Honor back into the lives of her widowed daughter-in-law, Jo, and her only granddaughter, Lydia, she cannot wait to be well enough to get back to her own home. However, the longer she stays with Jo and Lydia, the more they start to feel like a real family. But each of the three women is keeping secrets from the others that threaten to destroy the lives they’ve come to know.

Honor’s secret threatens to rob her of the independence she’s guarded ferociously for eighty years.

Jo’s secret could destroy the “normal” family life she’s fought so hard to build and maintain.

Lydia’s secret could bring her love–or the loss of everything that matters most to her.

One summer’s day, grandmother, mother and daughter’s secrets will be forced out in the open in a single dramatic moment that leaves them all asking: is there such a thing as second chances?

The Review: Funnily enough I had actually seen the opening line for this book on a weekly meme where the blogger in question (I’m so sure I know who posted, but I’ve been searching and searching and I honestly cannot find the post. It’s driving me loco so if anyone can help I’d beyond appreciate it and will update this post) puts the opening line of a book out there to see if people would find it enough of a hook to reel them in and make them read. My answer was a resounding ‘yes!’ (exclamation mark very much necessary)

‘The last stage of Honor Levinson’s life began at the top of the stairs in her home in North London.’

Honor, or ‘Doctor Levinson,’ as she prefers to be known, is a strong, feisty, independent eighty year old, who detests shows of emotion or weakness of any kind and so does not take kindly to playing the part of elderly patient after a fall from the top of the stairs (brilliantly done) in her home. Honor was an excellent character, who had me from the start, pointing out the realities of getting old, where you feel exactly how you did when you were younger, but those around you treat you as they would a child, or worse than. This was skillfully backed up by a trip back in time, and some old letters, where we found out Honor’s tragic backstory.

We were treated to numerous point of views, all in third person, always a plus for me; that of Honor of course, then Jo, her daughter in law, who’s putting a brave face on the absence of two father’s for her children, one passed (we are put on tenter hooks to find out how), one who has run off with the twenty one year old au pair. Jo learned from her mother, who had MS, that one should always grasp onto the silver linings for dear life, and the result is a positivity of magnanimous proportions, and some ‘mom-lit’ type incidences which provided respite in a book that erred on the slightly greyer side at times. Jo has two young children from her second marriage, and also the lovely Lydia, who tells her story with the accompaniment of a diary that shares how difficult a time she is having as a teenager having not yet come out. Her thoughts, insights and actions really made me feel for her, they were beautiful and heartbreaking and I worried.

After The Fall is the story of a family that was collapsing in on itself, where each woman (or girl), was an island, struggling to find their place, not realizing who they need to help them. I enjoyed it and looked forward to seeing what would happen when secrets were revealed and everyone had to face up to their issues. I especially enjoyed the second half of the book, where things evened out for me, not even in terms of becoming more positive, but just where there seemed to be a little more action, although I have no doubt some people will disagree. I know this is probably an odd review, but it’s a difficult book in that respect, as I enjoyed it as I read, and looked forward to what was going to happen, but found it difficult to place, possibly as I read so many out and out romantic comedies. As well as this it didn’t leave a lasting impression after I finished, which surprised me. It will, however, be a real treat for some out there, with excellent characters, tangible descriptiveness and a storyline that carries you with it. Thanks to St Martin’s press and Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

 Rating: 4/5

 

Beneath these Stars by Hannah Ellis

beneaththesestarsLength: 385 pages

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

What they say: Perfect couple Lucy and Adam have it all: a home in the picturesque village of Havendon, budding careers and a sparkling future. Life is exactly as it should be.
But when tragedy strikes and Adam becomes the guardian to his two young nieces, their idyllic life is turned upside down. Suddenly, they face an entirely different future.
Grief-stricken and disoriented, the four of them battle to build a new life together.
Can Adam and Lucy’s relationship survive being pushed to the limit? And can a devastated family find a way to get through such testing times?

Although this is the second book in the Lucy Mitchell series, it can also be read as a standalone.

The Review: You’ll know by now that I’m a big fan of Hannah Ellis’, that her books generally make me smile, swoon and nod along, and within a few pages I’m hooked, and loathe to put the book down until its gorgeous conclusion. I could leave it at that, but, well that’d definitely be short changing you, because this book has aspects that are a little bit different.
The book starts out by telling us that Lucy who we met in Beyond The Lens, book 1 of The Lucy Mitchell Series, review here), has only recently moved in with her boyfriend Adam in the little village of Havendon. The prologue sets up the current day with a nice reminder of the backstory, which I would have read in but is by no means required and then leaving us with a sense of intrigue
“We had no idea that our relaxed day in the sun would be the last time we were all together as a family.”

We’re thrown straight in at the deep end in chapter 1 on finding out that Lucy has taken on the role of substitute mother to Emily, Adam’s niece, whose parents have died. There’s a lovely mom lit feel to this as we see the role of a mother where irrational irritations get in on you and begin to drive you nuts and boy could I relate. It was a tribute to the author that although she had these issues to deal with, I still didn’t find her to be a negative character. Actually as always I jumped at so many characters in the book, there were a number I remembered and others I warmed to straight away. I got chills at part of the book when I began to realise why our lead was disappearing at night and my eyes misted up at other parts. It was quite the book for stirring emotions actually, as at times both Adam and his mum made me angry on her behalf as they reminded her that although she was charged with looking after Emily and Hayley, she had no rights in terms of decision making for them. All in all a light and innocent yet tough read (emotionally) with the trademark Ms. Ellis warmth, fun and romance, peppered with suspense and sadness. Thanks so much to the author for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

Previously on this blog:

Friends Like These (Friends Like These Series book 1 review here)

My Kind of Perfect (Friends Like These Series book 3 review here and extract here)

About the author

Hannahellis

Hannah Ellis is originally from Sheffield, England, and spent time living in America, Australia and Ireland before finally settling in Munich, Germany, where she now lives with her husband and two little boys. She self published her first novel ‘Friends Like These’ in 2015 and then went on to write two more books in the series: ‘Christmas with Friends’ and ‘My Kind of Perfect’. Hannah can often be found tapping away on her laptop, trying to ignore the two small children swinging on her hair as she attempts to write more books!

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Author page on Amazon

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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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

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