Sweatpants at Tiffanies by Pernille Hughes

sweatpants

Length: 262 pages

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

What they say:

Tiffanie Trent is not having a great week. Gavin, her boyfriend, has dumped her unceremoniously on their tenth anniversary, leaving her heartbroken and homeless.

Frank Black, the owner of Blackie’s boxing gym and where Tiff has been book-keeper for the last decade, has dropped dead. He’s not having a great week either.

And if that wasn’t enough, Mike ‘The Assassin’ Fellner, boxer of international fame and Tiff’s first love, is back in town and more gorgeous than ever. Tiff can’t seem to go anywhere without bumping into his biceps.

When she discovers Blackie has left her the gym, Tiff, with her saggy trackies and supermarket trainers, is certain she’ll fail. Can Tiff step up and roll with the punches, or will she be down and out at the first round?

The Review: There’s times when you read a blurb and it catches you by surprise and you go ‘geney mac I have to read that!’ And so it was with this, a book about Tiffanie, who is living with a guy who is probably one of the best literary examples of an a**hole that there is (!), dumping her. Tiffanie is shocked but doesn’t quite see what we’re seeing and is set on winning him back. Struggling on, we are hit with another shock, Blackie, the owner of the gym Tiffanie works at as a bookkeeper, dies. It is very wrong to think ‘oh well done’ to the way he dies, but as a writer, I’m afraid I did nod and think that (what is wrong with me?!)

I really enjoyed this book. ‘Laugh out loud’ was exactly how to describe it as there was indeed a number of moments where I actually spluttered! It deals with, as you would guess, a male dominated area where a number of men, in particular one who thinks he has designs on the gym, try to force Tiffanie out. I loved her ideas for the gym and the way not everyone was against her, there were a number of lovely characters that were brilliant in their support. The romance and heat was very well done and I read this in one sitting at the fire with a box of Pringles (just setting the scene!) and really enjoyed (both book and Pringles). Thanks so much to Bookouture and Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

One Little Lie by Sam Carrington

onelittlelie

Length: 385 pages

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

What they say:

‘My name is Alice. And my son is a murderer.’

Deborah’s son was killed four years ago. Alice’s son is in prison for committing that crime.

Deborah would give anything to have her boy back, and Alice would do anything to right her son’s wrongs.

Driven by guilt and the need for redemption, Alice has started a support group for parents with troubled children. But as the network begins to grow, she soon finds out just how easy it is for one little lie to spiral out of control…

They call it mother’s intuition, but can you ever really know your own child?

Deeply psychological and suspenseful, One Little Lie is a twisty and unnerving story about the price of motherhood and the unthinkable things we do to protect our children.Perfect for fans of Cara Hunter and Laura Marshall.

The Review: I had heard so much about Sam Carrington, and kept saying that I needed to get to her books, and, now that I’ve read this I will most definitely be returning for more. This is the story of (as you see in the blurb) a number of women, linked by their children’s crimes. It’s an ingenious premise, when a person commits a crime they have little thought of the impact it will have on their parents or how their parents will cope with the knowledge that they have given to the world a person that others see as evil, whereas they need to find a way to put together the idea of their child committing a crime with the memories of their child as a child or in their good times.

There are numerous povs in this book and I was thrilled to see some of them as each added a new dimension, however some people might find there too be too many (I like a lot of characters in a book). I will say that there is little mention of Connie in the blurb, the psychiatrist turned detective in the novel, where I felt she was one of the lead people to follow. Connie has her own issues which arise from an event that happened before the book.  I felt this was a pity-I had read that this could be read as a standalone- I feel like I could have done with knowing Connie’s backstory in more detail and would have enjoyed it, but will head back to read it anyway!

All in all a book I really enjoyed with twists, turns and surprises that I appreciated. Thanks so much to Avon  for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Whistle In The Dark by Emma Healey

whisteleLength: 336 pages

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

What they say: Jen’s fifteen-year-old daughter goes missing for four agonizing days. When Lana is found, unharmed, in the middle of the desolate countryside, everyone thinks the worst is over. But Lana refuses to tell anyone what happened, and the police think the case is closed. The once-happy, loving family returns to London, where things start to fall apart. Lana begins acting strangely: refusing to go to school, and sleeping with the light on.
With her daughter increasingly becoming a stranger, Jen is sure the answer lies in those four missing days. But will Lana ever reveal what happened?

The Review: I have to admit that ‘Elizabeth Is Missing’ was one of the first books I bought as a blogger and I never got to it. A crime in itself and something I need to fix asap. Also, if we’re talking about firsts, the first thing I had to do when looking up THIS book on Amazon was to check what it was listed under as I was intrigued to see how they could categorise a book that seemed to have a little bit of everything. As expected (in hindsight of course!) it was under Mystery, thriller and suspense, detective and animal. We’ll put the ‘animal’ listing to one side, I would think that it is more nature than animal, with a book that is absolutely stunning in how it tells us about our surroundings, from birds to trees to caves to where we came from, with beauty underlining every single word, but the mystery and suspense are a good start for telling you about this book.

We get a third person point of view from Jen, a mother who’s trying get on with everyday life while wondering where her daughter disappeared to for four days when they went on their art retreat together. Jen and her husband, Hugh are possibly the nicest people I’ve come across in a book and their relationship was comforting among the everyday struggle that Jen has to contend with Lana, who is barely existing and taking it all out on her mother.

In any other scenario, Lana was the nightmare teen, but here it was justified-you couldn’t even begin to comprehend what she was going through and this was something that Jen had to try to unravel. They had no idea where she was for four whole days, having been found in a state on sheep grazing land, dehydrated and a shadow of her former self. Jen feels that by figuring out the content of these four days, perhaps they can get some semblance of her daughter back before they lose her for good and tries to trace the details of the days. We sleepwalk with her as her infatuation begins to turn to madness and she no longer knows what is real. The book is told almost like a series of stories pieced together, with headings to guide you along Jen’s journey. There is a nice mix of the everyday and the strange, some comedy thrown in (dark and light, have to say I loved their other daughter, Meg, a sardonic breath of fresh air), with dark moments mixed with beautiful spell binding ones, always leading back to a book I had to keep putting down so I could savour and relish it properly. Thanks so much to Netgalley and Viking for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Cornish Village School-Breaking the rules (Cornish Village School book 1) by Kitty Wilson

thecornishvillageschool

Length: 265 pages

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

What they say: Rosy Winter is definitely not looking for love

Following heartbreak, Rosy has rebuilt her life in the beautiful Cornish village of Penmenna. Now, headmistress of the local school, she is living by The Rule: no dating anyone in the village. Easy right? But Rosy Winter has a new neighbour, handsome gardener Matt.

In Penmenna for his new gardening TV show, this guy next door will do everything he can to persuade her to break her rule and win her heart. Meanwhile, Penmenna Village School is threatened with closure and it’s up to Rosy to rally the local community and #SaveOurSchool. Can she bring her worlds together and accept help from the most unlikely of sources? One thing’s for sure… she won’t be giving up without a fight.

This heartwarming romance is perfect for fans of Tilly Tennant, Holly Martin and A. L. Michael.

The Review: And now to another standout book! The blurb tells you everything here-Rosy Winter is a headmistress living in the lovely village of Penmenna. I was taken with Rosy at the start as she sped, without speeding ie trying not to knock anyone down, to get to a meeting. When I say I was taken, the book had me straight away, with a character that seemed to be so in control but so likeable too. And then she went and met another character that screamed ‘I want to get to know him,’ that of Matt, who was introduced to us in a case of mistaken identity.

When a number of schools in the area are tagged to be merged, the people of Penmenna must act to save the school. Cue some excellent characters that at times were completely inappropriate and a group of kids that made me think ‘awwww!’ The settings were gorgeous, the comedy sometimes very understated but extremely well done, the mix-ups smile and nodworthy and romance that I really enjoyed. Highly recommended and I can’t wait to read the next in this series. Thanks sooooooooo (you get it by now I say;)) much to Canelo and Netgalley for this excellent book in return for an honest (and gushy) review.

Rating: 5/5

 

 

My Sisters and Me by Lisa Dickenson

mysistersandme

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

Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

notherdaughter

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

Hide and Seek by Richard Parker @Bookwalter @Bookouture

hide

Length:  324 pages

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

What they say:The sun is out. Your little boy is smiling. The next time you look… he’s gone.

Lana Cross would do anything to protect her perfect family but on a trip to an adventure park, they slip out of her sight. When she finds her husband, he’s out cold on the forest floor. Then the truth sinks in: Cooper, her four-year-old son, is missing.

No one stopped the man carrying the sleeping boy. The park cameras don’t show where he went. Then Lana receives an anonymous message, telling her to visit a local school with a horrifying history…

This is no random attack. Whoever took Cooper is playing a twisted game, and if Lana wants to find him, she must participate.

How could there be a link between the school and her missing son? And can Lana find her little boy before it’s too late?

The Review: First off I have to tell you that due to some issues with my Kindle I have no notes for this book and so this will not be the Pulitzer winning blog post I had hoped for, in fact, it may not even come close (I know, what?!) but, yes, you can already guess from the glib way I’m speaking that this will be another rave review that I’m quite hyper and excited about, and that if oyu don’t want this type of review you may need to just shut your eyes tight and avoid. (If not let’s go!)

So, at this stage you’re thinking ‘yeah, yeah’ another excellent book from Bookouture, right?’ YES! And wow, what a book! From the start this book was different in that it had a kick ass mother who SAVED her child from being abducted. They never do that in books, do they? The first few pages are that the mother looks out to the eerie sight of a swing moving in the wind, or a toy left on it’s own in the garden. Not here! Here, Lana (who I loved the whole way through-yay!) runs out when she sees a man land over her garden fence.  Lana does her epic ass kicking stuff, but in a way you yourself could, making your heart pound as you egg her on, and rescues her son. But the kidnapper leaves her with a message that he will be back. Yeeks!

Of course Lana and her husband are not going to let their little boy get taken and so they both try to keep him safe. Lana decides the best way is to find the kidnapper and this leads her into a dark and twisted online world where she doesn’t know who to trust, and also to various crime scenes, as she retraces and revisits old crimes, some in quite vivid, gory detail (I found it to be, anyhoo, people who like their tougher crimes probably wouldn’t flinch!) I thought it was excellent the way this was done, what better way to get characters into morbid, dark settings, than to have them want to venture there of their own free will? This added to your slowly bubbling sense of nervousness, you never knew if someone was waiting for Lana.

The suspense, the settings, both dark and light, were excellent, the characterisation perfection. In particular I adored her little man, Cooper, and her husband (whose name escapes me which is driving me nuts and apologies on this one, his story is as good as Lana’s) and a special mention has to go to a taxi driver who we meet later in the book (I won’t attempt to name him, as I don’t  don’t want to spell his name wrong, he deserves more than that!) I loved, as I always do, that actually, when it came down to it, Lana was rarely alone, she generally had a helping hand of some sort, which was excellent, as I’ve said before I don’t think a lead needs to be isolated to keep us worrying. The pacing was amazing, the settings so vividly drawn for us and so full of character that I was right there every step of the way, up until the outstanding climax that had every synapse firing. I adored this book so much and will be recommending it to anyone I know that even remotely likes thrillers. I’d love to say it should be made into a film but I don’t know that my nerves would take it. Excellent stuff and so, so, so (so!) recommended (go get!) Thanks so much to Bookouture and Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5 (and very likely my thriller of the year!)

Me vs. Netgalley: The week ahead in REVIEWS

books

I have read a number of rants recently on people who are taking advantage of the system, accepting review requests or requesting books from Netgalley and not fulfilling their duties. All aforementioned authors and bloggers were just plain mad over the nerve of the average blogger when they took on a book and then a post appeared sometime later saying that life had popped up and stopped them from reading or reviewing. I have to admit they most definitely had a point.

In recent weeks our iPad, my laptop and phone all ceased to exist in quick succession. Our internet, as we live in the country (oh there’s a post coming on this one, believe me;)) started to only appear for minutes at a time, generally choosing a vital part of the day to cut me off from the world. My husband, who had been off work for some time with health issues, returned, taking HIS laptop with him then running programs by night so I couldn’t get near it. I lost a bit of my zest reading, blogging and writing-wise, have had kids wake up nightly, and also returned to writing (a good thing!). There is a chance that this period of time has had enough physical interruptions to justify my absence from my blog and indeed from the Netgalley books I took on, but actually I don’t really think so.

If I had a book on Netgalley I’m pretty sure seeing the requests appear for my book would get me very excited as to the buzz that was going to be created for my work, thus telling me that my (or my publisher’s) substantial fee was justified. I am telling you this as an author myself, one who got two thousand free downloads of her book which resulted in just two reviews on Amazon. So in the same breath that I’m telling you that not only am I back writing and motivated again on the creative front (the Wexford Literary festival led by the great Carmel Harrington and including authors such as Hazel Gaynor, Siobhan Davis and Catherine Ryan Howard and a refreshing Frankie Gaffney and Jax Miller and industry experts such as Margaret Madden and Mary McCauley was my tonic -yay!!), the breath that should be telling you I’m slowing down on the blogging front, I’m actually going to tell you instead that I am going to get going on clearing my Netgalley backlog and will review every book I ever requested. Because they’re worth it.

Do you ever struggle with commitments to reviewing?Does the word ‘tbr’ make you shudder? Let me know in the comments!