Thursday, 20 September 2018

The French Escape by Suzie Tullett - 5* review

Image result for the french escape suzie tullett

It’s fair to say that Flick has had a terrible year. Her beloved father died, she had the wedding of her dreams and only hours after the ceremony her husband ran out on her. 

Brenda, fed up with her daughter living like a hermit, decides to drag Flick off to France to stay in a chateau. What could be better than an idyllic escape?
But when they arrive Flick discovers the chateau is all but abandoned.
The only upside of her French escape is the handsome and mysterious neighbour, Nate.
Nate loves his life living in the cottage on the grounds of the abandoned chateau but that is about to be put in jeopardy…
Can Nate and Flick ever learn to come to terms with the past and find love again?

Poor Flick, she's on a road trip with her snoring mother Brenda, and her late father's ashes in France - destination: unknown.
When the satnav signals their arrival, Flick tries to locate the location of their hotel, only to find they're staying in a neglected chateau in their own sleeping bags. To say the trip is intended for Flick to recover from the traumatic year she's had after being jilted at her wedding, it isn't selling itself straight away.
As they get to know the local villagers and the mysterious neighbour, Nate, the chateau starts to appeal more to Flick, especially as it's renovated and the former glory starts to shine through.
Secrets unfold and lives are changed as Flick and Nate both try to learn to live and love again. 
With warm humour and beautifully enticing description of Breton life and the enchanting woodland setting, The French Escape is just what it says, a perfect dose of escapism that will make you laugh and cry as the pages turn.
Plot, pace and characters are sharp and well written, and I love the developments in the book, both with the chateau and the people themselves. I also adore Brenda, she's such a...mum, and I want to give her a hug.
Also, just to give a quick shout out to this cover as I absolutely adore it!
A hugely well deserved 5* to Tullett.
Thank you to Bombshell Books for providing me with a copy of the book via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Book tour review - The House Across the Street by Lesley Pearse

The House Across The Street by Lesley Pearse is published on 6th September in hardback by Michael Joseph priced £20.00. This year is Lesley’s 25th anniversary year in publishing.

Twenty-three-year-old Katy Speed has always been fascinated by the house across the street . . .
The woman who lives there, Gloria, is the most glamorous neighbour on the avenue, owning a fashionable dress shop in Bexhill-on-Sea. But who is the woman who arrives in the black car most Saturdays while Gloria is at work? Sometimes she brings women to the house, and other times the women come with children.
Hilda, Katy's mother, disapproves of Gloria. She wonders where these mysterious visitors have come from, and what they want. Does Gloria have sinister reasons for secretly bringing strangers into the heart of the community?
Then one night, the house burns down. In the wreckage, the bodies of Gloria and her daughter are found. Katy is sure the unexplained strangers must be responsible, until her father is arrested and charged with murder.
Surely the police have arrested the wrong person?
Is the rest of the street safe?
Can Katy find the truth before it's too late?

Katy Speed is a young woman growing up in what seems like a sleepy town, Bexhill-on-Sea, and like a lot of young women in the 60s wants to explore a new way of life with the new fashions and modern attitudes of London.
The only thing standing in her way is her mother, Hilda, who really seems like a very cold fish of a mother and not at all pleasant, and Katy feels too much loyalty to her kind and downtrodden father to leave.

The woman across the street, Gloria Reynolds, fascinates Katy. She is glamorous and mysterious, and owns her own dress shop. Katy is intrigued by the woman who visits Gloria in the black car, sometimes on her own, or with other women and she wonders what exactly Gloria does.

One night there's a devastating fire in Gloria's house that sees her and her daughter brought out in body bags the next day. Katy is devastated, so is her father which Katy and her mother both find a little odd, until her father is arrested for the murder of Gloria.

Katy is convinced he didn't do it and is determined to find out who did and clear her father's name - especially as her mother is adamant he can rot in jail. 

This all happens at a time when Katy and best friend Jilly are mid-move to London to start their new life, but Katy uses this to her advantage to further her investigations into the stranger that visited Gloria and proving her father's innocence, but she doesn't realise the dangerous territory she's entering into until it's too late.

As always I adored this offering from Lesley Pearse. It was filled with tension, intrigue and definitely kept me turning the pages with it's punchy pace.

The character of Katy is filled with tenacity, as I always find Pearse's protagonists - I love a good, strong female lead, and her determination and quick wit keeps her going through the toughest scenario imaginable.

The family dynamics explored are interesting and I was sad to read the reasoning behind Hilda, Katy's mums, strange and cold behaviour, and was pleased by the ending.

As always the book and plot were wrapped up beautifully, and shows yet again that Pearse really is a master of her craft.

Thank you for another wonderful book, Lesley Pearse, and huge congratulations on this landmark in your career.

Read the tour stop I did on Lesley's #25in25 tour recently, with a fact about one of her this stop it was about the book GeorgiaLesley Pearse 25 in 25 tour 

Many thanks to Ed_pr for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

5* review - Somewhere Beyond the Sea by Miranda Dickinson

Image result for somewhere beyond the sea miranda dickinson

Seren MacArthur is living a life she never intended. Trying to save the Cornish seaside business her late father built – while grieving for his loss – she has put her own dreams on hold and is struggling. Until she discovers a half-finished seaglass star on her favourite beach during an early morning walk. When she completes the star, she sets into motion a chain of events that will steal her heart and challenge everything she believes.
Jack Dixon is trying to secure a better life for daughter Nessie and himself. Left a widower and homeless when his wife died, he’s just about keeping their heads above water. Finding seaglass stars completed on Gwithian beach is a bright spark that slowly rekindles his hope.
Seren and Jack are searching for their missing pieces. But when they meet in real life, it’s on the opposing sides of a battle. Jack is managing the redevelopment of a local landmark, and Seren is leading the community campaign to save it.
Both have reason to fight – Seren for the cause her father believed in, Jack for his livelihood. But only one can win. With so much at stake, will they ever find what they are really looking for?

What a beautiful story! Seren is grieving for her father. She is trying to keep his legacy alive by trying to resurrect his failing business, or at least just keeping it alive would be good, and trying to head the campaign to save the local parsonage that he fought so vehemently for.

As a keen astronomer he wants to save the parsonage where a parsons wife lived over a century ago, a keen amateur astronomer herself, she discovered a star, but of course all those years ago her work wasn't recognised and a man took credit for it. All Seren and her dad want is for Elinor to get the recognition she deserved or at the very least not to be forgotten. But a local property developer wants to do what he does best, develop things into faceless buildings with no soul.

Jack Dixon, a widower with a small daughter is struggling financially after the premature death of his young wife. He's trying to balance her life, give her some stability and keep a small sense of magic alive in a little girl who has lost so much. They find someone is helping them to build beautiful sea glass stars on the beach, and it becomes a lifeline to both parties - will they ever find each other?

This was one of the most beautiful, inspiring reads. I am a huge fan of Miranda's books, they always conjure up the most beautiful images in my mind and leave me with my own little piece of magic, and this was no different.

It left me craving sea glass jewellery and a holiday at the coast...even though I live at the coast.
It might just have helped me appreciate what is on my doorstep a little bit more though.

A glorious tale of love, friendship and strong family ties that I think I will think about for a long time.

With thanks to Ed_Pr for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

5* review - A Match Made in Devon by Cathy Bramley

Image result for a match made in devon cathy bramley

Nina has always dreamed of being a star. Unfortunately her agent thinks she’s more girl-next-door than leading lady and her acting career isn't going quite as planned. Then, after a series of very public blunders and to escape a gathering storm of paparazzi, Nina is forced to flee from London.
Her plan is to lay low with a friend in Devon, in beautiful Brightside Cove. But soon Nina learns that more drama can be found in a small village than on a hectic television set.
And when a gorgeous man (and his adorable dog) catch her eye, it’s not long before London and showbiz start to lose their appeal. Will Nina choose to return to the bright lights or has she met her match in Brightside Cove?

Oh, Nina...she makes a blunder worthy of something I would do. In fact Nina reminded me very, VERY much of myself. She breaks the cardinal law of acting and celeb-dom in general, and feels the need to make a quick getaway from London. Thankfully her brother Archie is on his way to rescue a friend in need in Devon, and she goes with him. Even though she has a slightly cringeworthy history with this friend, Theo, when she tried to snog him and stop his wedding. Things are quite tense initially, understandably. 

She finds that Theo's life has taken a sad turn, and as she gets to know him better she realises they're even sadder than she first thought. His wife has left him, and he needs to win her back. But the only way is to get his cottage rental business off the ground and prove he can do something and get off his backside.

Nina realises there's nothing to go back to London for so chooses to stay and help Theo. Then even when she does have something to go back for things happen around her in Devon that she doesn't want to leave. 

I admit to being unusually late to reading A Match Made in Devon, I'm normally sitting waiting for Cathy's books to land on my Kindle, but life took a turn here and I was finding reading difficult - in fact it was impossible for me to even get into this book. I knew something wasn't right so I left it until I began to feel better in myself and it worked. I started to read this a few days ago and couldn't put it down!

I always say it, but this might be my favourite yet!

I loved all the characters, especially Eliza (the real life mermaid!) and loveable, grumpy Jethro. In fact I think he might be the old, male version of me? 

I love how Cathy ties things up, and the ending was beautiful as always. I was really thankful I waited to read this as I enjoyed it so much!

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

5* Review - The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson

Image result for the perfectly imperfect woman by milly johnson

Marnie Salt has made so many mistakes in her life that she fears she will never get on the right track. But when she ‘meets’ an old lady on a baking chatroom and begins confiding in her, little does she know how her life will change.

Arranging to see each other for lunch, Marnie finds discovers that Lilian is every bit as mad and delightful as she’d hoped – and that she owns a whole village in the Yorkshire Dales, which has been passed down through generations. And when Marnie needs a refuge after a crisis, she ups sticks and heads for Wychwell – a temporary measure, so she thinks.

But soon Marnie finds that Wychwell has claimed her as its own and she is duty bound not to leave. Even if what she has to do makes her as unpopular as a force 12 gale in a confetti factory! But everyone has imperfections, as Marnie comes to realise, and that is not such a bad thing – after all, your flaws are perfect for the heart that is meant to love you.

Marnie Salt, a character I wasn't sure I could take to right at the beginning of the book. She is very flawed, she made a mistake I thought was awful and in my opinion she should have known better, but very soon into the book I ate my words and then some.

Marnie is a wonderful, flawed, utterly perfectly imperfect woman. She travels a beautiful journey in this book. It's tough, filled with the lowest of lows but I hope and sincerely believe in the end she's happy, and each layer of her character is revealed in the most heart wrenching of ways.

In my opinion Milly Johnson has crafted her finest tale yet, and this is undoubtedly the best book I've read this year, maybe last year too?

When Marnie meets Lilian and eventually moves to the delightful village of Wychwell I was absolutely hooked. The characters are all so rich and well woven, and the villages true magic is spellbinding.

And the cheesecake, oh the cheesecake. Did I mention Marnie makes cheesecakes? It actually left me torn between putting the book down for an hour and making one. The book won but I did make a list of all the ones I wanted to make. Then I wanted to open a cheesecake shop.

The story is so beautifully written, the characters take you on a wonderful journey and the villagers have such rich and captivating stories of their own. The ending is just perfect and when I'd finished the book I just wanted to open it and start again, it truly is the most uplifting tale and the perfect feelgood story.

I can not rave on enough about this book and I have not hesitated to recommend it to all my friends, I even bought a copy for one and sent it to her. She loved it just as much as I did!

Friday, 15 June 2018

5* Review - The Woman in the Woods by Lesley Pearse

London, 1960
The lives of teenage twins Maisy and Duncan change forever the night their sick mother is taken to an asylum. Sent to live in the New Forest with their cold-hearted grandmother, Mrs Mitcham, they feel unloved and abandoned.
And when one day Duncan doesn't come home from exploring in the forest, no one - least of all his grandmother - appears to care about his disappearance. The police, who've found the bodies of other missing boys, offer little hope of finding Duncan alive.
Yet Maisy refuses to give up. Though she doesn't know the woods well, she knows someone who does. The strange old woman who lives at their heart.
Dare Maisy enlist the help of the woman in the wood?

Maisy and Duncan were awoken in the night to find their father taking their mother away in the middle of the night to an asylum. She'd been ill since before their birth and was becoming a danger to herself after trying to poison herself, so he takes the decision to send her away. The teenage twins are terribly upset at the seemingly cruel way it's done, and soon after are sent away to live with their cold hearted grandmother in the New Forest.
They don't miss their father terribly as he was as cold as his mother, and gradually they begin to build a life they enjoy with kind housekeeper, Janice, and their tutor, Mr Dove who was injured in the war. They enjoyed the freedom of the forest, and exploring the mysteries of the village. One such being reclusive woman, Grace Deville who lives in a shack deep within the forest, and people say is a killer, among other such rumours.
Soon after Duncan tries to befriend Grace, he goes missing. Are the rumours about her true? Maisy takes it upon herself to find out after it seems the disappearance of Duncan and other boys from around the area aren't being taken that seriously by the police, and she finds herself in the gravest of danger.
I absolutely adored this book and did not want to put it down. I love Lesley Pearse but this is by far my favourite yet.
I loved all the wonderful characters, especially Maisy and Grace Deville, and loved the way the characters developed throughout the story and we found out why certain ones behaved the way they did. Old Mrs Mitcham for one.
The story was gripping and in parts harrowing, but handled as sensitively as possible but even that was a hard read. Incredibly rewarding though and with the most perfect of endings.
As much as I had a clue who was behind the murders and kidnappings, it was very well written and played out beautifully with the perfect pacing to keep you turning the pages.
Highly recommended read!

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The Missing Girl - Jenny Quintana

The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana is a gripping novel full of twists and turns, and a desperate hunt to solve a decades-old mystery. Anna Flores was just a child when her adored teenage sister disappeared. Unable to deal with the pain, Anna took the first opportunity she had to run from her fractured family, eventually building a life for herself abroad. Now, thirty years on, her mother has died, and Anna must return home to sort through her possessions. In doing so, she has to confront the huge hole her sister's disappearance left in their lives, leaving just one question unanswered: what really happened to Gabriella? Because not knowing is worse than the truth. Isn't it?

The story of a family fractured by the disappearance of young daughter, Gabriella. The book examines the grief of now knowing the truth, and how it makes you question everything causing Anna to run as far away as she could, as soon as possible.

It alternates between 1982 and the present day (which partly made the book difficult to read for me, some people enjoy this time slip but just personally I find it detracts from the story) and examines the different ways the family members cope with the disappearance. Blame, guilt, shock, denial all huge parts in how the family deal with their grief.

When Anna's mother dies thirty years later she returns for the funeral and gets drawn once again into the mystery that surrounds this family shattering tragedy. 

The outcome surprised me and over all I found it a satisfying read. I did however find it a slow burner, but was not disappointed that I gave it the time it needed to read.

If you like a book to get your teeth into and make you think, this is a good candidate!

With thanks to Annabelle at ed_pr for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review