My Sisters and Me by Lisa Dickenson

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Length: 400 pages

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

What they say: They’re fixing up their childhood home. It’s going to get messy.

When Willow Lake asks her daughters for help renovating the family home, each has a reason to hesitate about returning to Maplewood . . .

For quiet and bookish Emmy going back to the town that ridiculed her fills her with dread.

The youngest Noelle is perfectly comfortable in herself now, but once wanted to fit in so badly that she walked away from her first love. A first love who still lives in Maplewood.

And outspoken Rae is painfully aware of how much the townspeople hurt her little sisters growing up. She didn’t protect them then, but there’s no way she’ll let history repeat itself.

The sisters agree to go home and make the best of it. After all if they’ve changed over the years, it’s possible the townspeople have too . . . isn’t it?

The BRAND NEW feel-good, kick-ass novel about sisterhood and second chances. Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Lindsey Kelk, Mhairi McFarlane and Anna Bell.

The Review: I have to admit something. (Whispers)I’ve never read a Lisa Dickenson novel. I seem to have them all on my Kindle, it’s just, well, you know how it is, the books you buy out of interest seem to get bumped all the time. But no longer. I loved this book! It is the story of three sisters who are deciding to help renovate their childhood home, a kookly Halloween-esque abode just outside the town of Maplewood, where they didn’t have the easiest of upbringings. Turns out the townspeople thought their parents were witches, and spent their time shunning the three very different sisters and trying to get them to leave. Each sister was picked apart and there was bullying and meanness.

So. Some fared better than others and some, including the lovely, timid, bookish Emmy, didn’t fare at all and just about made it out, now relieved to be living far away from it all, working as a robotics engineer for NASA and binge watching Stranger Things on Netflix. I suppose this is where I stop you. Stranger things and a nerdy job? I was so excited! I love modern day comedies and rom coms and chick lit, but the quirks of this book surpassed so much out there, Emmy with her kick ass job, Rae, an out there opera singer with her big bear of a hubby and Noelle an environmental lawyer? What was there not to love? And now, (as I skip off happily onto another tangent), the references? It was like Ms. Dickenson put my whole life into that book! The babysitters club, Point Horror, Aerosmith (I like to think early stuff!), Haribo, Three Men and a Little Lady (and Magnum P.I. and Tom Sellek), Grand Designs, Location Location Location, Sugababes, Buffy, The Hills, Steve Irwin, the magic 8-Ball- I could go on and on. These, added to her charming small town descriptions and atmospheric house – well they had me!

We meet all of the girls, with the book leaning towards Emmy as the lead, and find out the various reasons they didn’t follow the town’s small minded mould, with some excellently done consequences. There are a multitude of characters, some lovely (special mention for the local policeman), some not so much. The romance was perfection, the Halloween party, set to prove something to the town, epic, and I loved the ending.

The book made me smile and laugh the whole way through and I adored that any reminiscing wasn’t out to make you cry. I actually did cry near the end for a reason most people won’t, but it was one of those smiling-laughing hysterically-through-the tears-transported-to-another-time-and-place sort of cry. So not so bad. All in all a book that feels like it was made for me, a magical autumnal feel good book with the right ratio of dramatic baddies to wonderful goodies (they’ve definitely got the right townspeople on their side!), that left me with a warm hug that stayed long after I’d finished reading. Thanks (so so so so) much to Spehere and Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

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Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

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Length:

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

What they say:

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now Emma is gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But what about Emma’s real mother, back at home?

The Review: What a cracker of a book! This is the story of Emma, who is being dragged through life by a mother who’s tired of existing and very bitter with her lot. She has a beautiful daughter who she feels jealous of, she never had the looks or the confidence she sees she has. Enter Sarah. Sarah sees Emma being pulled along and snapped at by her mother. She sees a girl in a dirty dress with a dirty ribbon in her hair and then one day she sees her again and she sees the worst possible thing she can see (oh my word to when you see this day through the mother’s eyes later, it nearly killed me). Sarah is an everyday successful businessperson and is reminded of her own mother and childhood, which was one of sadness and a plan begins to come about.

To start on this book I’m going to take you to the end, where there is an excellent list of questions for book clubs and I found myself going through my own ideas in my head. Because it’s easy to pick a side and then shift, and then shift again. Some people will be more definite-Sarah was saving Emma, and Emma’s mother, Amy, didn’t deserve to have a child, but of course the beauty of this book is that there is no clear cut answer. Sarah has it black and white in her head, she’s the knight saving the princess, but it’s easy for her to think like this when she doesn’t know the daily ins and outs of having children.

I found Sarah to be very tunnel visioned  and focused and in some case deluded and I at times I wondered what other people thought reading this book, people without kids might have a different opinion to those with kids. I’ll keep my opinion to myself but I will say the ending was disappointing to me. I flew through the book with my heart thumping as we chased Sarah and Emma as they evaded the law, her family and work. We also looked into Sarah’s childhood giving us a glimpse of a woman that definitely had issues. What I loved more was the complexities of Amy (special mention for her initial reaction to Emma going which I thought was tragic and showed me who she really is) who I could easily relate to in parts yet feel horrendous regarding her thoughts in others, as she truly didn’t seem to know what being happy was and couldn’t realise what she had. The dynamics of their home life after Emma was gone was spellbinding, both in and outside the house. A special mention to the lovely Emma too, I really felt for her and all her reactions were so well done. I never knew before I had kids how much they react to the moment, how things are clear cut at that precise time-you either love them or are against them and that’s something Sarah would not have been au fait with. Actually I’m going to go, you don’t want my psychoanalysis-just my recommendation. Excellent book and very highly recommended and I look forward to reading the author’s work again . Thanks so much to St Martin’s Press for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

My Husband’s Lies by Caroline England

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Length: 384 pages

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

What they say:

On the afternoon of Nick and Lisa’s wedding, their close friend is found poised on a hotel window ledge, ready to jump.

As the shock hits their friendship group, they soon realise that none of them are being as honest with themselves – or with each other – as they think.

And there are secrets lurking that could destroy everything.
Tense, disturbing and clever, My Husband’s Lies is a breath-taking read, perfect for fans of Lucy Clarke and Erin Kelly.

The Review: There are times I loathe being a book blogger. It means you have to piece together your feelings for a book and how you like it and what you think other people will think of it and sometimes these things aren’t the same. I’m a cover girl. Covers play a HUGE part for me in picking a book, even though I read on a Kindle so the colour and sometimes the graphics are null and void. And so I leapt for this, what looked like a psychological thriller with some form of a murder/ suicide involved. It turned out to be more drama than thriller and left me a little disappointed. I have to admit the telling in present tense third person (as in ‘holding her breath, she crouches down’) put me off a little. It suited the start but then when I read on, I found it off putting, distancing me from what was going on, a group of people enjoying themselves at a wedding until it becomes clear that one of them is about to jump out of a hotel window.

The story itself is seemingly about Penny, who is having doubts about her husband. Given how I thought it would go from the blurb, I would have been happy had it continued with Penny’s story but from here on we are bombarded with characters. I’m a huge fan of character heavy books, but here there were so many and both in terms of voices (as in POV) and the actual dialogue there was just too much and I was confused pretty quickly. I had no descriptions to grab on to and so chose to go with ‘the pregnant one, the one having an affair’ etc. The characters were nearly all unlikable, and again I found myself very distanced from them. Reading may be about moving into another world but having so many people who showed no remorse for the pretentious way they acted just made me sigh. Every character had issues/a backstory which were sometimes sprang on you  and I have to admit at times I rolled my eyes with the introduction both of bad language (use of the ‘c’ word and people using the word piss and sh*t), abuse and drama that hadn’t been alluded to, though in hindsight for example with the mention of the church I should have known. The biggest issue was how well the author wrote, which I know sounds so weird after such an awful review (I honestly do feel bad), but the settings and the vocabulary used were fantastic and made me regret that it was a book I just didn’t warm to and I have to reiterate that others will love it.

Thanks so much to Netgalley and Avon for this book in return for an honest review

Rating: Unfortunately 2.5/5

Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly

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Length: 356 pages

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

What they say:

Haven’t we all wanted to pretend everything is fine?

Jane doesn’t like confrontation. Given the choice, she’d prefer to focus on what’s going well, the good things in life.

But when her husband, Leon, is brutally attacked in the driveway of their home, in front of their two young children, Jane has to face reality. As he lies in a coma, Jane must open her eyes to the problems in her life, and the secrets that have been kept from her, if she’s to find out who hurt her husband – and why.

Maybe it’s time to face up to it all. Who knows what you might find . . .

The Review: I opened this book, on the day of receiving a rejection letter to see, guess what? A rejection letter! This was the start of our insight into the world of Jane Campbell, who is an author looking for representation for her latest book. She has received none for any of her books to date and it smarts. She’s wondering if this is it for her as she considers a talk she once heard by the great Nick Hornby, who told a lady struggling with rejection (and obviously looking for a ‘keep trying’ comment) that maybe she should just find something different to occupy her time.

Actually if I had one thing that stood out for me with this book, it was that, as a writer, it is not very inspirational. It looks at the struggles of getting published, then the struggles of being published, as her husband Leon is, and all in all paints a very dismal picture, at no time providing the positivity we generally need to keep writing.

Now, as a reader, gosh what a book!(;)) So we are given a shocking start where Jane nips into the house, leaving her husband arguing with a neighbour and returns to find he’s been attacked, with the two children sitting in the back of the car unaware. The book is about Leon’s fight for survival, Jane’s dealing with knowing there’s someone out there who wants to hurt her husband and why, and also coming to turns with a new Leon, who isn’t the loveable bear he was before, while finding out some home truths about their life. I flew through this book, gobbling up every word, being thrown a number of times as I tried to figure out what had happened and jumping when Leon’s demeanor changed. Jane wasn’t the strongest or most likeable character I’ve ever met, and I found the ending wasn’t quite my cup of tea but all in all I really enjoyed and look forward to reading more from the author. Thanks so much to Transworld Digital and Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

 

 

Escape to Oakbrook Farm: A wonderfully uplifting romantic comedy (Hope Cove Book 2) by Hannah Ellis

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Length: 322 pages

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

What they say: Village life is supposed to be quiet…

Josie Beaumont is a free spirit. She changes jobs about as often as she changes her relationship status. Frequently! The only constants in her life are the comfy old shoes that she refuses to part with.

When unemployment looms again, she’s intrigued by a job opportunity at a dog kennels in rural Devon. As someone who thrives on change, a move to the sticks doesn’t faze her at all. She’s expecting life in the country to be quiet and uneventful.

What she’s not expecting is Sam.

The charming, sensitive neighbour makes life much more interesting. In fact, when she gets involved in the local community, things really aren’t as dull as she anticipated. But just when she finally feels settled, she’s offered the job of her dreams back in London. It’s time to move on.

Or is it?

Being part of a small community has stirred something in Josie and she begins to question what she really wants. Can she turn her back on her new life and say goodbye to Sam? Or is she ready to hang up her running shoes and stay put? Maybe she’s finally found something worth sticking around for…

The Review: There are a multitude of ways you can see an author’s writing spring to life that isn’t just from the book itself, in fact, this is the reason that I buy more books on the basis of guest posts or interviews or a writer’s review of a book. Here, the dedication itself was enough to make me swoon and settle down, glad I was reading another one of Hannah Ellis’ gorgeous books (Note: the dedication was “To Dua, You deserve the world … here’s a book instead.” Isn’t that so lovely!)

And indeed we are back to another gorgeous book, amazing given that Hannah ( I know her well from being an all round helpful and motivational writerly person on social media and in a writer group we both inhabit) has been probably one of my most reviewed authors on this blog. (You would assume at some stage I wouldn’t connect with a book, as what are the chances I feel so smiley and excited after all her books, but there you go!!)

Here is the story of Josie who we meet at a wedding at the start of her book, dressed in her bridesmaid’s dress and a pair of Converse, speaking to the best man, Sam. Josie has just broken up with her boyfriend and is shocked that she feels a sort of pull towards Sam, given that she’s assuming the break up is just another glitch and they’ll be back together very soon. I have to admit the banter, and Sam in particular, drew me in and I was keen to see where this would go.

Josie was a lovely character too, only changing when we see her with her on/off boyfriend, which reminded me a little of the film ‘The Break Up’ (it always gets me thinking about balancing being naggy and not having to do everything yourself), but soon her and her boyfriend are back together even though she’s agreeing to move to Devon during the week to work in Annette’s dog kennels.

This was another lovely touch. Happy as I was to move to the countryside and enjoy the quirks of country life (in particular the creepy laneways when walking home from the pub and indeed the pub itself with a whole new range of friends for Josie), I was THRILLED that she was going to be working with dogs. The book moved nicely for me and I enjoyed the new friends, the banter, the settings,the drama and the many, many smile along moments. I will admit that just after middle I felt a lull and was afraid nothing would happen but then we went to the one place I’d forgotten we could go and one of the character’s reactions smarted and shocked me! In terms of comedy there were a few very well done, nicely timed moments that had me nodding along. All in all a great book but I’d advise you to move back to the start of the series, to book 1  just to savour it all and meet some other characters that pop up here (here’s my gush about  The Cottage At Hope Cove which seems to be FREE at the moment-get it here on Amazon!). Thanks so much to the author for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the author

Hannahellis

Hannah Ellis lives in Munich with her husband and two little boys. She’s originally from England and has also lived in America, Australia and Ireland. As well as writing, she also teaches English to kindergarten kids. In her spare time she likes to read books, drink tea and eat chocolate. She goes jogging regularly but hasn’t decided if she really enjoys it or not. She’s a huge fan of sunshine and the many Munich beer gardens.

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#BlogTour Oh Crumbs by Kathryn Freeman #BookReview

I am so thrilled to be part of the blog tour for this today, ‘Oh Crumbs’ a romance designed to never allow your eyes to leave the page!

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What they say: Sometimes life just takes the biscuit … Abby Spencer knows she can come across as an airhead – she talks too much and is a bit of a klutz – but there’s more to her than that. Though she sacrificed her career to help raise her sisters, a job interview at biscuit company Crumbs could finally be her chance to shine. That’s until she hurries in late wearing a shirt covered in rusk crumbs, courtesy of her baby nephew, and trips over her handbag. Managing director Douglas Faulkner isn’t sure what to make of Abby Spencer with her Bambi eyes, tousled hair and ability to say more in the half-hour interview than he manages in a day. All he knows is she’s a breath of fresh air and could bring a new lease of life to the stale corporate world of Crumbs. To his life too, if he’d let her. But Doug’s harbouring a secret. He’s not the man she thinks he is. 

The Review: Onto a book that I’m sure I’ll remember for some time to come because of characters that leapt off the page, and romance and heat that took my breath away!!! So this is the story of Abigail Spencer, who stole my heart from page one, where she showed how willingly she took up the role of surrogate mother to a huge household and I knew she was something very special. Abby is one of those characters that only comes along in books every so often, a girl with a big heart that evolves into a woman that’s not only enthusiastic about everything in life, but wants everyone else to be happy too. I read so many books that try to be Abby, but then you meet the happy, over the top, accident prone ‘real life’ version and you sigh in happiness, because she is ‘The One!’ Abby has a fire in her to better herself and be the best she can be and we see her graduate form night school and end up at an interview for Crumbs, the biscuit manufacturer.

Enter Doug, the millionaire Managing Director, who against everything his gut tells him, hires Abby, although he worries afterwards that he has just hired a disorganised, chatty, tell-it-too much like it is scatterbrain. A word of warning, if you’re not a fan of not only the ‘will they, won’t they’ scenarios, but also the ‘when will they?’ notion, then this book is most definitely not for you! Blowing hot and cold is as rampant as moments when you have to fan yourself for the expectation of them not only getting but deciding to be together. The chemistry from the off with the two of them was mesmerising and blew me away! This book was like a lesson in how to do romance and heat and I willed them together from the off, unable to take my eyes away.

I loved not only the banter between two of the most likeable characters I’ve read in some time, and their alternating povs, but the everyday in the ‘Crumbs’ biscuit factory and how the power structure was playing out with Doug’s dad, the owner of the business. There is tension and drama aplenty, in fact it is thrown at us from all angles, work, home and Doug’s family too, and I was never bored or even contemplating having to push my eyes back to the book. I will tell you that there’s cliches aplenty, but if you’re willing to accept them they’re impeccably done, the millionaire in his flashy car saving the day, some over the top baddies, Abby stepping in to help the company, that sort of thing, and I devoured it all!

Actually there was a hint of ‘Me Before You’ by JoJo Moyes about this book, in relations to characters, circumstance and Abby’s huge and larger than life (I adored them all!) family, and that being one of my favourite books, I took it excitedly. My only issue at all was that there’s some books out there that I find myself editing (just a little) as I read, substituting one word for another along the way, and unfortunately I was doing that sometimes here, finding eh odd word repeated, or a word I would have rathered but when I thought back over it it didn’t in any way take away from the enjoyment of a book that kept my heart and senses racing on a cliff edge throughout. A book that has you smiling from the start, I have to say this is a book that is going to stay with me for some time to come and I can’t wait to read more from Ms. Freeman. Thanks so much to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Win a paperback copy of Too Damn Nice by Kathryn Freeman (Open Internationally)

And, now, before we meet the author, how about a Giveaway?! (Click here!)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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About the author

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A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero.

With two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes come in many disguises.

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#BlogBlitz #BookReview The Haunting of Hattie Hastings Part Three

 

The Haunting of Hattie Hastings Part 3

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Purchase from Amazon UK

What they say: Nothing lasts forever … Gary’s time on earth seems to be coming to an end. His visits are less frequent and his visibility is fading fast. But he still has a mission to accomplish, which involves Hattie and her ability to pass on a heart-rending message.

Best friend Cat’s ex-husband is determined to prove that he deserves another chance, but do leopards really change their spots?

Times are tough for Hattie’s mother Rachel, but where there’s life, there’s hope …

Meanwhile, is there someone already in Hattie’s life who can help her move on when it’s finally time to say goodbye?

Get your tissues at the ready – both for laughter and tears – with the final instalment of a trilogy that has been hailed ‘brilliant’, ‘hilarious’, and ‘a great feel-good read’.

The Review: I was dreading this. The end of The Hattie Hastings series. And look at the first line of that blurb: ‘Gary’s time on earth seems to be coming to an end.’ And yet while I did sob proper tears in the book, there was so much hope and warmth and still the fun and the puns and the romance that I probably did spend more time smiling and laughing. One of the iterations of the ‘moving on’ that goes on in this part of the trilogy (as there’s much moving on when you think of it!) is possibly one of the most memorable mixes of comedy and grief I’ve come across, and it floored me as a reader and a writer. There’s a lot about passing on and death and it really really got to me, especially when you thought about who was going (oops, am crying!)

I adored this book. I loved Hattie’s son and her mother, Hattie’s brother and his partner, in fact every character was perfection, the good, the bad and the cringey! The romance as ever, was gorgeous and it led us to a very satisfying conclusion. I will admit Cat’s story wasn’t so important for me, as I really wanted to get back to Gary and also to Hattie, but it was dealt with satisfactorily too! All in all such a memorable series, and one which I’ll probably re-read in the future. Excellent part, excellent series. Thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for the book in return for an honest review. (Previous posts part 1 and part 2 )

Rating: 5/5

About Audrey Davis (it’s long but worth a read!)

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Audrey Davis survived secondary school on the West coast of Scotland. Rubbish at science but not too bad at English, she originally wanted to be an actress but was persuaded that journalism was a safer option. Probably wise. She studied at Napier College in Edinburgh, the only place in Scotland at that time to offer a journalism course.

Her first foray into the hard-nosed newspaper world was as a junior reporter in Dumfriesshire. Duties included interviewing farmers about the prize-winning heifers to reporting on family tragedies. She persuaded her editor to let her launch an entertainment column which meant meeting the odd celebrity – or just the downright odd. From there, she moved to the loftier rank of senior reporter back in her home patch. Slightly more money, fewer farm animals but a higher crime rate. As Taggart would say: ‘There’s been a murrrrder!’

After a stint in London on a video magazine – yes, she is that old – Audrey moved to Singapore with her fiancé. She tried valiantly to embrace the stinking heat, humidity and lack of jobs, although she did work briefly on a magazine which was banned by the government for ‘artistic’ use of naked men’s bottoms.

Next on her adventures was a land Down Under where her main focus was raising Cost Centre One (aka firstborn) and coming to terms with the imminent arrival of Number Two. Still, she loved the Aussie way of life – BBQs, beaches and bring your own booze to restaurants – so it came as a blow when OH announced a move back to the UK. Not a job between them, the climate a possible deal breaker and an Exorcist-style vomiting infant on the flight home didn’t bode well …

Always a survivor, Audrey sought out similar-minded friends (i.e. slightly bonkers), got the children into a good school and thought about taking up writing again. Sadly, thinking about it was as far as she got, unless you count shopping lists. Then, hubby drops another bombshell. Switzerland. As in – it’s packing time again. Off to the land of cheese, chocolate, scarily efficient trains and a couple of teeny, tiny issues. Like driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road and speaking a foreign language (French). The former was conquered fairly quickly (we’ll skip over the wall demolition in week two), the latter remains an ongoing battle of the hopeful against the hopeless. At least she provides amusement for the local workforce. It wasn’t until 2016 that Audrey rediscovered her writing mojo with an online Writing Fiction course. From there, her first novel – A Clean Sweep – was born, although it took a bit longer than nine months from conception. A short, darker prequel – A Clean Break – followed, and in November 2017 she published the first in a novella trilogy, The Haunting of Hattie Hastings Part One. Part Two is published on 21 March 2018, with the conclusion following in July. After which she might have a wee lie down …

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