Sunday, 11 December 2016

All She Ever Wished a For by Claudia Carroll

A gorgeous story of chance meetings and unexpected friendships. Because sometimes what you’ve always wished for isn’t necessarily what life has in store . . .
Marriage. It’s a dream come true. Isn’t it?
One wet winter night, two women meet on a bridge. One is Tess Taylor, a personal trainer on the way to meet her boyfriend for date night. The other is Kate King, a celebrity married to a handsome billionaire who just happens to make her cry. In the cold dark evening, there is nothing to link them together but the bridge they shiver on. Little do they know they’ll both hold the key to each other’s future marriage…
All She Ever Wished For tells the story of what happens when your dream is about to come true. And what happens when that dream turns into a bit of a nightmare…

I loved this book. Tess is crossing a bridge,one of those bridges where lovers place a lock as a symbol of their love. She notices a young woman standing by herself as if visiting a padlock belonging to a lost love. She seems too well dressed to be in the area and as Tess wonders about her she notices how upset she is. As she approaches her she recognises her as a well know celebrity but still stops to ask if she is okay. 
Tess, who is getting married to the much older Bernard is in the middle of her wedding preparations when she is called to serve on a jury. This part of the book gives us some really funny moments as Tess feels she's far to busy to do her jury duty and tries to get out of it. The other members of the jury are all described so well and give us some more laughs.
Unfortunately the court case is against Kate,the woman on the bridge. It has to do with her settlement on her divorce from her ex.Damien. We then hear the story of their relationship and I began to love Kate and was rooting for her all through the book.
Why Tess is marrying Bernard is a mystery as he is the very opposite of her and his family are so pompous compared to Tess's family who are down to earth and lovely. Bernard is not very dynamic but what you might call a harmless character.
Tess and Kate come from different worlds and only meet fleetingly but each have helped each other even if they don't know it. I love a good ending and an epilogue and this book had both. I forgot to mention Will who serves on the jury...keep an eye on him.
Another winner from Claudia Carroll.

All She Ever Wished For

Friday, 9 December 2016

The Holiday Swap by Zara Stoneley

Two women, two very different lives – one perfect solution to escape festive heartbreak!
Tucked away in the idyllic English countryside, Daisy Fischer’s cosy little cottage has always been her safe haven. But when her completely dependable boyfriend issues her an ultimatum, Daisy realises there’s a whole world out there she’s missing out on.
Florence Cortes’s life couldn’t be better – gorgeous apartment right on the beach, fabulous job and dreamy boyfriend, or so she thought. Suddenly, Flo’s life isn’t so perfect after all.
When the girls house swap for the holidays, it’s not long before Daisy is being distracted by sun, sea and sexy Javier while Flo finds herself snowbound for Christmas with only handsome neighbour Hugo and a house full of animals to keep her company.
Love actually does seem to be all around this Christmas, but in the places Flo and Daisy least expect to find it…

Two woman with not so perfect love lives, handsome strangers and Christmas, what could be more perfect? Well, throw in wonderful Barcelona and a country cottage in Chesire and you have a great recipe for a good  seasonal read. 
The grass always looks greener on the other side so when Daisy and Flo swap houses will they love what they had or want what the other has? 
Put on a pair of furry slippers and curl up at the fireside with some wine and chocolate and indulge yourself in other people's lives. You'll love it.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

A Year and a Day by Isabelle Broom.

Welcome to a city where wishes are everywhere

For Megan, a winter escape to Prague with her friend Ollie is a chance to find some inspiration for her upcoming photography exhibition. But she's determined to keep their friendship from becoming anything more. Because if Megan lets Ollie find out about her past, she risks losing everything - and she won't let that happen again . . .
For Hope a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she's struggling to enjoy the beauty of the city when she knows how angry her daughter is back home. And that it's all her fault . . . 
For Sophie, the city has always been a magical place. This time she can't stop counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her. But in historic Prague you can never escape the past . . .
Three different women. Three intertwining love stories. One unforgettable timeless city.

One look at the gorgeous cover of this book and you just know you're in for a good read.
Megan visits Prague with Ollie and although she knows they can only ever just be friends she is fighting an attraction to him that she is helpless to stop. Ollie is a lovely guy, totally in love with Megan but afraid to tell her. 
Sophie,who is waiting for her fiancé to arrive in Prague is experiencing the city for the first time without him as they have travelled most of the world together.
Hope, upset that her daughter refuses to speak to her since she left her dad to be with Charlie begins to analyse what exactly she wants out of life and whether she can ever be happy without her daughter's love.
I loved all the characters in this book but I have to say that Megan did get on my nerves and brought out the mother in me in that I wanted to shake her and give her a good talking to for allowing Ollie to slip through her fingers.
The star of the book has to be the city of Prague. I don't remember reading a more descriptive book, it's obvious that the author loves the city.
The three women are staying at the same hotel and their paths cross. As they begin to learn a little of each other's lives they form a tentative attachment as people on holiday often do.
I do not want to give any more of this story away as doing so will spoil the ending. After reading this Prague is now top of my places to visit. I want to experience the magic, see the towers and spires, eat in the little cafes and restaurants and stand on the Charles Bridge and make my wish.
A Year and a Day.

I haven't read the author's first book My Map of You, but I intend to.

An Off - Piste Christmas by Julie Houston

The last thing Harriet Westmoreland wants is Christmas away from home, particularly when skiing, snow, heights and freezing her backside off are on the menu. While her own family, together with her best friend Grace's, are soon whizzing down ridiculously high and scary mountains in the fashionable Italian resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo, Harriet is stuck in the remedial class on the nursery slopes unable, it seems, to remain vertical.
Tired of trying to stay upright in the dunces' class, Harriet decides to overcome her fear of heights and take her bruised body off to explore the refugios in the magnificent Dolomites above Cortina. And maybe catch a glance of George Clooney, rumoured to be in town... But what happens next triggers a totally unexpected avalanche of events which proves that, for friends Harriet and Grace and all their families, Christmas really is a time for little miracles...

This Christmas novella by Julie Houston finds us back again with the families from her novels starring Grace,Harriet,  but don't worry if you haven't read them yet, you can read this story on its own but I bet you will then look for the other two books.
It does take a few chapters before you work out who belongs to who within their complicated families but it's fun working it all out.

With three families and children off to the Italian Dolimites for a skiing holiday what is the worst that can happen? The author's usual humour shines through this book and gives us some real laugh out loud moments. There are some very tender moments too especially on the ski slopes with Harriet and little Charlie. I've began to really love Harriet and Grace and I am so glad to be reading more about them. 

The story was so rounded that it didn't feel like a novella but it was just the right length for reading during the busy Christmas period. I've read so many sad stories lately and this book was just what the doctor ordered, a good laugh and a happy ending, with a glass of mulled wine and a chocolate Santa,of course.

An Off- Piste Christmas

Goodness,Grace and Me

The One Saving Grace.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Missing, Presumed by Susan Steiner

Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date – the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.

Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.

Is Edith alive or dead? Was her ‘complex love life’ at the heart of her disappearance, as a senior officer tells the increasingly hungry press? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?

This book looks like the beginning of a series of books with dectective Manon Bradshaw as the main character.  I found at least half of this book quite hard going. Manon wasn't a likeable character, she moaned constantly about everything. She was so dedicated to her job there was hardly any room in her life to eat or drink and yet she played about with online dating taking men home to sleep with so she could smell them and see if they were compatible, made my skin crawl. 
I felt as though the missing girl, Edith was an afterthought of the story and remembered about only now and then. 
Half way through the book it began to pick up pace and I was making up theories myself as to what happened to Edith and who was involved in her disappearance.  The ending was satisfactory and I can say I enjoyed it and I would read the next book when it is published. I just think a bit less of Manon's boring life would make the book more readable.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

The Moment She Left by Susan Lewis


Kesterly-on-Sea is full of secrets. 
Some are darker than others; many are shameful. One is even deadly.

Andee is an ex-detective whose marriage is breaking up. So when a young female student disappears without trace, she throws herself into the search.
Meanwhile, the town’s beloved Rowzee Cayne has just discovered that she is terminally ill, and doesn’t want to burden her family and friends with the news.
Andee and Rowzee don't know it yet, but their journeys are going to help them uncover a secret. One that is going to affect them more than they could ever imagine.

I found this book to be a bit slow. New characters were being introduced and I was having trouble remembering who was who. Andee the female ex dectective comes across as being really strong and assertive but when she finally decides to leave her husband she seems to find it difficult to stand up to him and put him in his place...he is a real pain.
Rowzee is a lovely retired schoolteacher who when given a terminal diagnosis from her GP just wants to fix everyone's life for them. She is quick to forgive and forget and probably a saint in disguise. 
The big question in the story is what happened to Jessica,a student at University College London who sings in clubs and pubs to pay her way through college. Was Jessica leading the life her parents thought she was or did she have a secret? Two years have gone by and no one knows if she is dead or alive. 
Everyone's life will be changed in some way by the end of the book.
Once I got to know everyone I began to enjoy it more and I was anxious for Andee to find out what happened to Jessica.
I have read a few books by Suan Lewis and I would never have guessed that she had written this one if her name hadn't been on the cover. It was more like a story of a small village where everyone knows each other and most are related 
I did think the big discovery regarding Jessica would have been more dramatic than it was but maybe I've been reading too many thrillers lately.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Finding Libby by Deanna Lynn Sletten

Poring over a dusty hatbox of photographs in her grandmother's closet, Emily Prentice is shocked to discover her father was married to his high school sweetheart before meeting her mother.
In the summer of 1968, Jack and Libbie fall in love under the spell of their small town, untouched by the chaos of the late sixties. Though Libbie's well-to-do parents disapprove of Jack's humble family and his aspiration to become a mechanic, she marries Jack a year after they graduate high school. But soon their happiness crumbles as Libbie's mental state unravels and she is drawn to alcohol and drugs. Despite his efforts to help her, Jack loses the woman he loves and is forced to move on with his life.
Now that Emily's mother has passed away, Jack is alone again, and Emily grows obsessed with the beautiful woman who had given her father such joy. Determined to find Libbie, Emily pieces together the couple's fragmented past. But is it too late for happy endings?

While helping her grandmother pack up her house Emily discovers secrets from her father's past. She finds out that he had once been married to Libbie his childhood sweetheart. Emily's mother has not long passed away and Jack and her had a long and happy marriage but Libbie  is curious about what happened to his first love, is she still alive?
What follows is a happy and heartbreaking love story,one you would have thought would never end.

Libbie was the girl from the rich, posh family and Jack was the boy who wanted to be a car mechanic from a poorer family. They fell in love in opposition from Libbie's patents. Jack did his best but Libbie had a fragile mental state and things went from bad to worse,her family intervened and Jack was left alone unable to make things better.

I shouted at this book a few times. I shouted at Libbie to pull herself together and I shouted at her parents and at Jack but to no avail. They went on and did their own thing and made me shed tears...again...and again.
My only hope was that many years later Jack's daughter would make everything better. Did she? You'll have to read the book for yourself to find out but I promise you won't be disappointed.

Forgotten Women by Freda Lightfoot.

It is 1936 and Spain is on the brink of civil war. Across Europe, young men are enlisting in the International Brigade to free their Spanish brethren from the grip of fascism, leaving sisters and lovers at home.
But not all women are content to be left behind. In Britain, Charlotte McBain and Libby Forbes, friends from opposite sides of the class divide, are determined to do what they can; in Spain, Rosita García Díaz, fiercely loyal to her family and country, cannot stand by and watch. Three brave women, inspired by patriotism, idealism, love and even revenge, dare to go into battle against tradition and oppression.
Tying them all together is Jo, Libby’s granddaughter. Five decades later she travels to Spain hoping to make sense of a troubling letter hidden among her grandmother’s possessions. What she learns will change all of their lives forever.
Deceit, heartbreak and a longstanding fear of reprisals must all be overcome if the deeds of the forgotten women are to be properly honoured.

The book begins with a heartbreaking letter from a woman sent from Ventas prison in Spain and dated 1936 and it sounds very much like the writer did not survive.
Forward to 1986 in an art gallery in Scotland where Jo is exhibiting a painting which came from her grandmother's attic as part of an exhibition commemorating the year when Scots joined the International Brigade at the start of the Spanish civil war.
She is interrupted by a very curt Spanish man who tells her that the painting is not genuine. Jo is shocked and so is her grandmother who is standing nearby. The man, Anton invites them both to meet his grandmother in Spain who he says has the original painting.
Jo goes to Spain and we hear the story of three woman who in 1936 joined in the civil war in Spain,one Spanish woman and two Scottish.

I adored this book. I wanted it to go on and on. It brought home to me how the civil war affected families and friends and how horrific it was for ordinary people. I didn't know before I read this just how many young people went from Scotland to help the cause whether it be to fight or nurse or hand out food and supplies. There is a lot more I'd like to share with you about this story, I could tell you about Charlotte from Scotland who went to Spain to escape her domineering step father, or Libby who joined the international brigade to find her young brother Nick or Rosita who was fighting for her family's survival. You will enjoy the book better if you find out all those things for yourself.
The parts of the book which were set during the war had me on the edge of my seat and scared to turn to a new page, I was so afraid of what might befall the women.
I only have one negative thing to say about this book and it's very small. I didn't like the two women speaking in Scottish tongue. I'm Scottish myself but I found those parts a bit off putting and think the story would have flowed better without it, but this is just my opinion I still loved the book and I'm sure you will too.

For kindle or paperback.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Who We Were Before by Leah Mercer

It really wasn't her fault. Of course it wasn’t. But if she’d just grasped harder, run faster, lunged quicker, she might have saved him. And Edward doesn’t really blame her, though his bitter words at the time still haunt her, and he can no more take them back than she can halt the car that killed their son.

Two years on, every day is a tragedy. Edward knows they should take healing steps together, but he’s tired of being shut out. For Zoe, it just seems easier to let grief lead the way.

A weekend in Paris might be their last hope for reconciliation, but mischance sees them separated before they’ve even left Gare du Nord. Lost and alone, Edward and Zoe must try to find their way back to each other—and find their way back to the people they were before. But is that even possible?

 It's been nearly two years since Zoe and Edward's son Milo died in a tragic accident. Zoe blames herself and Edward blames her too. They don't know how to grieve together so they lose each other and a trip to Paris gifted by Zoe's parents seems like their last chance.

Nothing goes smoothly in Paris and Zoe finds herself lost with no money and no phone and no idea what hotel they are staying at. Edward thinks Zoe has abandoned him and returned home to London so he decides to move his life forward without her.

At first I wasn't sure about reading this book as it's about the death of a child. Although the book is sad we are taken on a journey back to when Zoe and Edward first meet and learn the story of their love. This gives us hope that things will be okay for them,surely if they were so in love they can be again?

I think this book would make a lovely film. I can visualise Zoe and Edward on the streets of Paris trying to find each other.

This is a debut novel published today by Leah Mercer who also writes as Talli Roland. I usually don't understand why authors have different pen names but this time I can see the difference between this book and the Talli Roland ones. 

Leah has taken a seriously subject and handled it well. I could definitely understand why Zoe acted as she did and why Edward did the same in his own way. 

It's a love story, it's sad, it's happy and you won't want to put it down.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Falling by Julie Cohen

Can you imagine keeping a secret so devastating, you couldn’t even tell the people you love?

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

Jo’s secret could smash apart the ‘normal’ family life she’s fought so hard to build.

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

Grandmother, mother and daughter – three women whose lives are falling apart. But one summer’s day, a single dramatic moment will force their secrets into the open.

Can they save each other from falling?

We first meet Jo as she's struggling with two toddlers and a buggy and a bus. She is coming to terms to being a single mum of three the eldest being a teenager. Jo's first husband Stephen died ten years ago and Jo has since married and had another two children. Unfortunately her husband ran off with their au pair and has set up house with her.
In the middle of the chaos that two young children bring,Jo receives a phone call from the hospital informing her that Honour her first husband Stephen's mother has injured herself in a fall and she is her next of kin.
Jo is such a lovely woman that she persuades Honor to come and stay with her until she recovers. Honor has never liked Jo and has made that perfectly clear. She is grumpy and ungrateful and determined not to like anyone.
Avil,the teenage daughter has fallen in love but it's a love she feels she can tell no one about especially the person she is in love with. Nothing can remain a secret for long and when Avril's school friends gang up against her she can't cope anymore.

This was an enjoyable read. Following those three women through an important time of each of their lives and seeing how those events changed them kept me glued to the pages.
Jo is a saint to put up with Honor and even finding the time to be nice to her ex au pair who stole her husband. I found Honor very interesting. She is dealing with a big change too, something that threatens her independence. I liked the interaction between Honor and Avril, they seemed to just get each other.
There are some very funny parts in the book but I'll leave you to find them on your own. There is also a heart stopping moment before we find a happy ending.
Worth a read!
On Amazon in paperback or kindle. Here

Monday, 26 September 2016

The Jeweller's Wife by Judith Lennox

1938. As England awaits the outbreak of war, Juliet Winterton journeys from the Mediterranean to the Essex countryside to begin her life as the beautiful young wife of a London jeweller.
But beneath her husband's intelligence and ambition, lies a cruel and ruthless man. And when dashing politician Gillis Sinclair comes to stay at Marsh Court, Juliet is drawn to his irresistible charm.
So begins a passionate affair that will have consequences far beyond anything Juliet imagines. For Gillis Sinclair is hiding a dark secret and, as the next generation of Wintertons grows up, Juliet fears that they, too, will be tainted by the past...

The book spans the years from 1938 to the sixties. Juliet, left penniless when her father dies in Egypt attempts to sell her pearls and instead marries Jeweller Henry Winterton. Juliet loves their home at Marsh Court and settles for a loveless marriage. The couple have two children,Piers and Charlotte and we are taken through their lives and those of their cousins and friends.
It took me a while to get into this book. There are a lot of characters and families far too many to mention them all but there's a page at the front of the book you can refer to if you get confused.
Horrid Henry, as I came to call him was so rude and opinionated that even his own young son couldn't please him. Divorce just wasn't something that was done in those days or I expect Juliet would have been the first in the queue so instead of divorce she has an affair with Henry's best friend Gillis.
I found I grew tired of what was going on between them all and I became interested again when the children were grown up and started having their own problems.
Henry eventually causes the biggest problem which affects his son badly. I really wanted to shout at him at that point. 
I found Juliet to be too passive and really wanted her to grow a backbone but maybe that was just a sign of those times when the husband was ruler in his home.
Worth a read if you're a Judith Lennox fan and halfway through I started to enjoy it more.

The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney

When Jess’s daughter, Anna, is reported lost in an avalanche, everything changes.
Jess’s first instinct is to protect Rose, Anna’s five-year-old daughter. But then she starts to uncover Anna’s other life - unearthing a secret that alters their whole world irrevocably . . .

I'm delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for The Day I lost you. The author Fionnula Kearney has very kindly written a piece about being a writer for me to share with you all, but first I'll tell you what I thought of the book.

My emotions have been put through the wringer reading this book. It is a very moving story of  family,of secrets and unconditional love. Jess's daughter Anna is reported missing after being caught in an avalanche while skiing . Several members of her party have already been found dead.
Jess is divorced from her husband Doug who is now re-married with a new family. He is very supportive of Jess as they wait for news of their missing daughter.
 Anna and her five year old daughter Rose lived with Jess and Rose is the only thing that is keeping Jess from crumbling. As time passes Jess discovers that Anna was not the person she thought she was. Anna had secrets and when her online blog is found those secrets begin to unravel.

Theo is Jess's best friend and work collegue. He has to adjust to life as a single father when his wife Harriot leaves him for another man.
The trust between Jess and Theo is blown apart by revelations and Jess is finding it difficult to know who to trust.
I found this to be a real page turner. It was heartbreaking following Jess through her stages of grief. As each secret was revealed Jess wondered if she really knew her daughter and with each secret her grief intensified. This is a story of betrayal and asks the question, "Is unconditional love really unconditional?"
  What would it take for you to say, "I don't forgive you"
The story had a good ending and said a lot about the strength of a loving family and what they can achieve together.
I haven't read the author's first book You,Me & Other People but after reading this one I think I have to.
Out now in paperback or kindle download here

And here it is. Written by Fionnuala Kearney. A glimpse into the life of a writer.

                                                       The Why and How.
I’m often asked what my working day actually looks like; how full time a writer’s lot is and how do I actually write a novel? I think most people realise why I do it – it is apparently one of the most popular ‘jobs’ out there; the role of an author being the one that came highest in a recent poll taken of ‘dream jobs.’
It is. It’s a dream job and one I tried to succeed in for many years before securing an agent and a three book deal with HarperCollins. The ‘how’ I got here was a seven year ‘apprenticeship’ writing and learning - before the fourth novel I wrote during that time was the one which seemed to hit the spot and ended out being my published debut ‘You, Me & Other People’.
And the how I write a novel? Well, although I’m lucky enough to have the shortest commute possible (across the landing) and my uniform varies between pyjamas and loose sweat-clothes – I still try to treat my writing day as a full day’s work. Mornings are spent on the work-in-progress novel, which can mean the early writing of the first draft or subsequent edits and revisions. I spend a couple of hours a day on emails and social media stuff and then again a few hours later in the day on the WIP again. It took just over a year to write my second novel ‘The Day I Lost You’ and by the end of that time, I could almost recite pages of the narrative!
When starting to write a new book, I usually begin with several characters I know will appear in the story and they just start gassing away in my ear! When I’ve figured out who they are, I have to try and establish why they’re there and what story they’re trying to tell. I work out a plot (the skeletal bones) and first draft is always about putting meat on them. I use a visual planner in the form of an enormous white board that hangs on my office wall to help me picture the journey. Within a few months I have the first draft of the story and to be honest – that’s only the beginning!
With my own personal creative process, I really need to write another draft before the story I want to tell; the story these characters want to lead me to, becomes as clear as it needs to be. Alas, despite my use of the word ‘plot’ here, this process actually makes me a classic ‘pantser’! I probably make my life really difficult by not having the whole thing mapped out totally in advance first – chapter by chapter - but for me, I love the freedom of writing a looser first draft. The final book is usually about revision six so it’s a constantly evolving thing.
Having had a previous career in property, I sometimes pinch myself, wonder if I really am a novelist/author/writer (title depends on the day I’m asked) now. It still seems a little surreal that I am actually doing that job that I dreamt of doing when I talked to my boyfriend back in 1980. ‘I want to write books,’ I told him. I subsequently married the man and had two children and life was such that the dream had to wait a bit but the thing is – it did come true. I think if you want something bad enough, with hard work, perseverance, the hide of a rhino and a little lucky fairy dust, you can dream it into being.
And I’m with that poll result: Easy, it’s not, but it truly is the best job in the world…

Thank you Fionnuala it really does sound like the perfect job.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The Girl From The Savoy by Hazel Gaynor

Dolly Lane is a dreamer; a downtrodden maid who longs to dance on the London stage, but the outbreak of war takes everything from her: Teddy, the man she loves – and her hopes of a better life.
When she secures employment as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, Dolly’s proximity to the dazzling guests makes her yearn for a life beyond the grey drudgery she was born into. Her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to an unusual newspaper advert and finds herself thrust into the heady atmosphere of London’s glittering theatre scene and into the sphere of the celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry.
All three are searching for something, yet the aftermath of war has cast a dark shadow over them all. A brighter future is tantalisingly close – but can a girl like Dolly ever truly leave her past behind?

I'm delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for The Girl From The Savoy.
I immersed myself in this story and loved every page of it.
Dolly is seeing her sweetheart Teddy off to war the same way hundreds of other girls did in the first world war. While Teddy is feeling upbeat about getting the job done and returning Dolly feels that everything will change once he's gone.

Seven years later and Dolly's life is about to change as she leaves her job as Maid of all work in a big house to working as a maid at the Savoy hotel. Dolly really longs to be a dancer on the stage and she feels that the Savoy can at least bring her in touch with the people who already have what she wants.
On a wet day Dolly bumps into Perry and he drops manuscripts that she takes back to the hotel to dry out. Here begins their friendship.

Dolly doesn't know that Perry's sister is the famous theatre star Loretta May and at the moment she bumps into him his sister is waiting for him in Claridges for their Wednesday ritual of afternoon tea. Loretta has a secret, in fact a few and one of them is she wants to make someone else a star to take her place. Could Dolly fit the bill?
 Dolly is told at the Savoy that she has to be invisible She is never to be seen at the front lobby of the hotel by any residents. This doesn't sit well with her as she wants to be noticed by everyone.

I loved the writing in this book. The descriptions of the Savoy and of the theatre, on stage and behind. I could hear the gallery girls (of which Dolly was one) shouting and clapping and rushing to get a space to watch the show.
 There is another storyline concerning Teddy and what happened in the war but I'm telling you no more than that as it would spoil your read.
Loretta May is a lovely character and I warmed to her from the start. Perry is like a lost boy who needs some guidance. Dolly is a girl with a goal and that is to be on the stage and I wanted her to get there.
This book is a real treat for anyone who misses the TV series of Mr Selfridge. Its not set in a department store but the different classes of people are the same and when I read about Loretta May I immediately thought of Lady May from the show. I cried buckets at the end.

Paperback or kindle download here

  Hazel Gaynor is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME and A MEMORY OF VIOLETS. Her latest novel THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY hit the Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestsellers. Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and received the 2015 RNA Historical Romantic Novel of the Year award for THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME. As features writer for national Irish writing website she has interviewed Philippa Gregory, Sebastian Faulks, Kate Mosse and Cheryl Strayed, among others. Hazel lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

The Secret by Kathryn Hughes

Mary has been nursing a secret.
Forty years ago, she made a choice that would change her world for ever, and alter the path of someone she holds dear.
Beth is searching for answers. She has never known the truth about her parentage, but finding out could be the lifeline her sick child so desperately needs. When Beth finds a faded newspaper cutting amongst her mother's things, she realises the key to her son's future lies in her own past. She must go back to where it all began to unlock...The Secret.

This story is about ordinary people who find themselves in an extraordinary set of circumstances and do what they think is best at the time. Later one of them discovers that she may have made the wrong choice and deeply regrets what she did.

 Beth's mother Mary has died and Beth is clearing out her house. She is hoping to find answers about who her father is as her mother was always vague about him. Beth's son is ill and she needs to find family connections to him to save his life. When she finds a letter and a cutting from a newspaper she has no idea what this could mean for her.
The other storyline is about Mary, newly married and looked forward to a life with her new husband but when he is lost in a pit disaster her life falls apart. A year later and trip to Blackpool with a mixed bunch of friends from a local pub. We hear of their lives and how they all came to be together on that day.
What happens on the trip will have a direct effect on the future and Beth and her son.

There are so many spoilers on Amazon that I beg you not to read any if you want to enjoy this book. It has a few twists and turns which some people like to spoil by complaining about them on Amazon, so keep away have been warned.
I enjoyed this book and found it hard to put down. It had a lovely ending and sometimes you just need that in a book it sends you to a happy place. I loved Kathryn's last book The Letter and I loved this one equally.
Out in paperback or only 99p for kindle download. here

A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart.

Meet thirtysomething dad, Alex
He loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son Sam, but doesn't understand him. Something has to change. And he needs to start with himself.
Meet eight-year-old Sam
Beautiful, surprising, autistic. To him the world is a puzzle he can't solve on his own.
But when Sam starts to play Minecraft, it opens up a place where Alex and Sam begin to rediscover both themselves and each other . . .
Can one fragmented family put themselves back together, one piece at a time?

There is no justice in the world if this book is not made into a film.
Alex is not coping with family life. His wife Jody is so much better at handling their autistic son Sam than he is. She knows the right things to say and do to get through to Sam and Alex feels useless.
Jody decides on a trial separation as she feels Alex and her have drifted apart and hopefully some time apart will make him realize what he's missing.
Alex moves in with his friend Dan and it feels like he's reliving his youth,sleeping on a dodgy blow up bed and late night drinking sessions. Reality hits when Alex realizes that he will have to spend time with his son without Jody there to help. He has to take him to the park, cafe and on day trips and Alex just doesn't know how he'll cope.
Sam has became obsessed with a new video game Minecraft. As Alex watches him play he realises it calms him down as it sends him into a world where he is in control. Determined to be a good father Alex buys the game and countless books on Minecraft as well as autism. Is it even feasible to imagine that this game is a way to connect with his son?

As well as the relationship between Alex, Jody and Sam I liked the blokey relationship that Alex had with his friend Dan. Just when you think Dan doesn't get what's going on you find out he does. 
Alex and Sam's journey through Minecraft really brings out the best in Sam and we can see him change throughout the story. It brings across to you how much hard work it is for parents of children with Autism. The daily routine has to be strictly adhered to to make their child feel safe. Even a small timetable error can have monumental effects.

This book made me laugh and cry and I definitely can see it as a film. The ending is so joyous I wanted to shout out loud. I have never seen Minecraft played but this in no way lessened it's impact in the story. I suspect that mums or dads whose children  play the game will understand the attraction completely.
Although this is a fiction book it came about through the real life experiences of the author and his own son who has autism and how much he felt the minecraft game helped him.
A real feel good read with a child fighting to be understood right at the heart of it.

Out in hardback or kindle download. here

Thursday, 8 September 2016

No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan

When radio presenter Anna Graves and her baby are attacked on the beach by a crazed teenager, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her daughter.
But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister.
A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the ‘Ophelia Killer’, responsible for a series of murders twenty years ago.
Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life…?

The prologue of this book will send chills through you. I actually read it and then had to put it down for a while until I felt brave enough to continue. There is a duel storyline here. In one we hear about Anna returning back to her job as a popular radio presenter just as her daughter is turning one year old. Anna is estranged from her husband but they are coping with the situation. The unforseen happens and a boy dies accidentally as a result of Anna trying to protect her baby from his knife.
The other storyline is more sinister. We hear the voices of two people talking about poisoning and killing young boys. We assume this to be the voice of the 'Ophelia Killer' and an accomplice.

My nerves were in shreds by the time I reached the end of this book. At first everyone sympathises with Anna but the tide soon turns and even her life and that of her child could be in danger.
She has the support of her grandmother who she is closest too as her mother is hard to cope with and has been very distant having never recovered from the tradedy which befell her husband.
  I thought I had guessed who the killer was twice but I was wrong. Everyone is a suspect except perhaps the one who did it.
I enjoyed this book but I have to say I found the ending slightly unrealistic but it's a fiction story so I let my imagination take over.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Summer in Tintagel by Amanda James

We all have secrets……

Ambitious journalist Rosa Fernley has been asked to fulfil her grandmother Jocelyn's dying wish. Jocelyn has also passed on a secret - in the summer of 1968, fleeing from the terror of a bullying husband, she visited the mysterious Tintagel Castle. Jocelyn wasn't seeking love, but she found it on the rugged clifftops in the shape of Jory, a local man as enigmatic and alluring as the region itself. But she was already married, and knew her husband would never let her find happiness and peace in Jory's arms.

Now as her days are nearing their end, she begs Rosa to go back to Tintagel, but is unwilling, or unable, to tell her why. Rosa is reluctant - she has a job in London, a deadline that won't wait and flights of fancy are just not in her nature. Nevertheless, she realises it might be the last thing she will do for her beloved grandmother and agrees to go.

Once in Tintagel, Rosa is challenged to confront secrets of her own, as shocking events threaten to change everything she has ever believed about herself and her family. She also meets a guide to the castle, Talan, a man who bears a striking resemblance to Jory.

Will the past remain cloaked in tragedy, sadness and the pain of unrequited love? Or can Rosa find the courage and strength to embrace the secrets of the past, and give hope to the future?

Every Amanda James book is touched by a little bit of magic and this one is no different. When Rosa's grandmother Jocelyn receives messages from a long deceased secret love she has to ask for her granddaughter's help. Rosa is very skeptical but as it is Jocelyn's dying wish Rosa leaves her London job and travels to Cornwell and Tintagel Castle where her grandmother first met Rory.
Long hidden secrets and misunderstandings, regrets and recriminations, this book has them all. There could also be a love interest for Rosa in the shape of Talon the handsome castle guide.

Do you believe in messages from beyond the grave? Is there life after death? Can our deceased loved ones ask for our help to right a wrong? I asked myself all those questions while reading this book and  I have long believed the answer is yes to those questions. Rosa has to ask them of herself too but with the help of Morganna a white witch long suppressed memories come flooding back to her.

I enjoyed this book. The characters are believable from Jocelyn on her death bed wondering if she made the right decisions in her life to Rosa who unknowingly is having her life steered in a different direction. My heart went out to the spirit or ghost of Rory and I wanted the hands of time to move
backwards and change his story.
The atmospheric descriptions of Cornwall made me determined to visit one day. It seems to be such a magical and inspirational part of the country. Amanda James brings it to life through her writing. I'm now patiently waiting for her next offering...waiting for some more magic.
Amazon for paperback or kindle 

Monday, 29 August 2016

The Secret Wife by Gill Paul

Russia is on the brink of collapse, and the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future. Grand Duchess Tatiana has fallen in love with cavalry officer Dmitri, but events take a catastrophic turn, placing their romance – and their lives – in danger . . .
Kitty Fisher escapes to her great-grandfather’s remote cabin in America, after a devastating revelation makes her flee London. There, on the shores of Lake Akanabee, she discovers the spectacular jewelled pendant that will lead her to a long-buried family secret . . .
Haunting, moving and beautifully written, The Secret Wife effortlessly crosses centuries, as past merges with present in an unforgettable story of love, loss and resilience.

 I enjoyed Gill Paul's last book,No Place For a Lady and was looking forward to this one. I have to say she didn't disappoint me.
Kitty who lives in London has been left her great grandfather's cabin in Lake Akanabee,America after a lot of searching by lawyers to find his heir. Kitty has never heard her mother speak of her great grandfather so he is a mystery to her. As she finds her husband has been cheating on her Kitty decides to book a flight and see the cabin for herself.
We then read about her great grandfather Dimitri,a Russian calvary officer in the royal army. He is injured and nursed by one of Tsar Nicholas and Alexandra's daughters Tatiana. They fall in love but the revolution takes over and shapes the rest of both of their lives.
Kitty,being a journalist tries to put together all the clues she finds of Dimitri's life story but she is not prepared for what she will discover.
I have no proper words to tell you how much I loved this book, it was so hard to put down. I have always been interested in Nicholas and Alexandra and what happened to their family ever since I saw the film of their lives when I was a young girl.
When I started reading I thought I knew what the ending would be but Gill Paul takes things to another dimension when as every good writer does she asks herself the question,"What if?" and what followed is this brilliant story and not the ending I thought it would be.
Many people do not like reading historical books but Gill Paul has the ability to mix the old with the new and make a great story.
Although this is a work of fiction all the historical facts are true and there are many I didn't know.
I was taken on such a journey with this read and I cried, of course I cried. I asked myself at the end, "Is this really fiction, maybe it could be true?"
Amazon for kindle or paperback.    If you love a good story this is the best 99p for a kindle book you will ever spend.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Cartes Postales From Greece by Victoria Hislop

Week after week, the postcards arrive, addressed to a name Ellie does not know, with no return address, each signed with an initial: A.
With their bright skies, blue seas and alluring images of Greece, these cartes postales brighten her life. After six months, to her disappointment, they cease. But the montage she has created on the wall of her flat has cast a spell. She must see this country for herself.
On the morning Ellie leaves for Athens, a notebook arrives. Its pages tell the story of a man's odyssey through Greece. Moving, surprising and sometimes dark, A's tale unfolds with the discovery not only of a culture but also of a desire to live life to the full once more.

Victoria Hislop is one of my favourite writers. I devour her books. I was really looking forward to this book I requested from Net Galley for review. When I finished it I thought it was very short and I had missed half the story. Well that's what I get for not reading that I was downloading part of the book only. I'm not the only one who made that mistake, another reviewer was sent a book in the post and it was only part of the book too. (A bit mean)
So I'll review the small part I read.
We are following a few stories in this book. Ellie is receiving postcards from Greece,not addressed to her but to the previous occupant of her apartment. She decides to go to Greece and find these places for herself. Before she leaves she receives a notebook which she takes with her. The notebook is full of stories told o its author by the people he met in Greece.
We also are told the story of the author of the postcards and notebook as he journeys through Greece.
I did enjoy the part of the book I read and it left me wanting more. (I suppose that was the idea).
I feel this book is different from the other books written by Victoria in that it contains lots of short stories. I was more interested in Ellie and A (the author of the postcards) than the short stories but I'm sure it will all come together in the rest of the book.

Cartes Postales From Greece will be released on 21st September.
Amazon for kindle or paperback 

The Stolen Child by Jennie Felton

Will anyone believe her baby is gone? When Stella Swift is discovered holding a shard of broken glass near her newborn baby boy, fears...