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

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Elaine Everest - Wartime at Woolworths blog tour!

A huge welcome to Elaine Everest who is joining me today to celebrate this weeks release of

Wartime at Woolworths!

‘I’m sorry, Maisie, but I’m putting my foot down over this. You’re not taking our daughter up to the East End of London and putting her in danger,’ David said, slamming his newspaper down by the side of his armchair. ‘I thought we’d already discussed this?’
Maisie sighed. She’d cooked her husband a decent meal, although the small piece of steak was as tough as old boots and could possibly have been horsemeat. She’d hoped that after a long day at his desk in London doing God knows what for the RAF she could put him in a good frame of mind before breaking her news.
‘I mean it, Maisie, so don’t look at me like that. I will not be changing my mind over this,’ David fumed.
David raised his hand. ‘I’ll not be swayed on this. What if there’s an air raid? Where will you go with a pram and a young baby? It’s sheer lunacy. I’m amazed you’re even considering taking our child into danger.’
‘I want her to meet my parents and for them ter know I’m happily married and settled,’ she said quietly, feeling the sting of tears threatening to fall. She wasn’t one for crying but David’s words had really hurt. She held her head high but her chin started to quiver uncontrollably. ‘I’m sorry you think so badly of me,’ she gulped before turning to walk away.
David leapt from his chair as he saw how distressed his wife was. ‘Oh my darling, please don’t cry,’ he said, pulling her into his arms. ‘I don’t wish to see either of you in danger. How do you think I’d feel if I waved you off only to hear that the Luftwaffe had taken you from me?’
He caressed her hair as she clung to him and sobbed. ‘I’m sorry, David. I’m a bloody fool,’ she said when at last she could speak. ‘I just had this longing to see my mum and show her our baby. I wanted to tell her how I’d made good . . . and I wanted her to say she’s proud of me.’

Wartime at Woolworths by Elaine Everest is published on 3rd May by Pan Mac (available in paperback and ebook, price £6.99)


Twitter: @ElaineEverest

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Publication Day Blast! 5* review - Helen Phifer Dying Breath

Take a breath. Pray it’s not your last.

Just a few months after a terrifying case that nearly took her life, Detective Lucy Harwin is back with her squad in the coastal town of Brooklyn Bay – and this time, she’s faced with a case more horrifying than anything she’s encountered.

Along with her partner, Detective Mattie Jackson, Lucy is investigating what appears to be a vicious but isolated murder; a woman found bludgeoned to death on a lonely patch of wasteland. 

But when a second victim is discovered strangled in an alleyway, then a young family shot in their own home, Lucy and the team must face the unthinkable reality - a killer is walking the streets of their quiet coastal town. 

While Lucy and the team try to find the link between these seemingly unconnected murders, they uncover a disturbing truth – these murders are replicating those carried out by infamous serial killers. 

Lucy must get to the killer before he strikes again. But he’s got his sights on her, and is getting ever closer… Can she save herself, before she becomes the final piece in his twisted game?


I loved Dark House (previously The Lost Children) by Helen Phifer, a change from her supernatural thrillers to gritty serial killing murder, and was thrilled to find that Detective Lucy Harwin would be back for more.

The action begins thick and fast with the brutal murder of a woman, told from the killer's point of view (the dual narrative is something I love about these books, an insight into the killer's mind) and Lucy and her team know quickly that this is no ordinary murder as the bodies begin to mount up - even a historical case is thrown into the mix as a skeleton is also discovered. Poor Lucy, these things always happen to her!

The murders are all very different, not showing the clear MO of a 'normal' serial killer, it seems this one is taking a very different, calculated and gruesome path, and later in the book it becomes clear why - which in my mind was one of the best and cleverest parts of the plot. But as normal it takes the team down a very winding path - and an extremely dangerous one for Lucy as things get personal. 

The twists and turns are awesome and unexpected, I thought I'd nailed the killer quite early in the book (I was so proud of myself, however,  I couldn't have been more wrong). I love the dynamics and interaction of the team and how they all gel, the mark of a very good writer. I love all the characters, and truly respect Helen's skill of writing kick ass female protagonists. 

The books moves quickly and really keeps you turning the pages, especially once you're in the killer's mind, and all culminates in an explosive ending that made my heart beat especially fast!

Another series from Helen that leaves you wanting more. Another fantastic 5* read.

About Helen:

Helen Phifer lives in a small town called Barrow-in-Furness with her husband and five children.

Helen has always loved writing and reading. Her love of horror films and novels is legendary. Helen adores reading books which make the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Unable to find enough scary stories to read she decided to write her own. 

Helen’s debut novel 'The Ghost House' was published by Carina UK in October 2013 and went on to become a best seller along with the rest of the Annie Graham series. The Secrets of the Shadows, The Forgotten Cottage, The Lake House, The Girls in the Woods and The Face Behind the Mask.

The Good Sisters is a standalone horror story which will scare the pants off you or so her lovely readers have told her. It scared Helen when she was writing it so she pretty much agrees with them.

March 2017 saw the release of psychological thriller Dark House (previously called The Lost Children), book 1 in the Detective Inspector Lucy Harwin series. 
Author Social Media Links:

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Blog tour: Q&A with author Rita Bradshaw

Today I'm excited to welcome Rita Bradshaw to help celebrate the launch of her latest historical tale, A Winter Love Song.

Here's what Rita had to say about her writing experiences...

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What is your favourite period of history to write about? 

A.    My favourite period of history is the first half of the 20th century. There was so much social change which created a wealth of characters who were larger than life. Women were demanding to be heard in the corridors of power; WW1 and the Depression brought strong men and women to the fore, and then WW2 changed Britain for ever. Those fifty years were hard and tough and a fight for the working class in particular, but my word did people have guts!

If you could travel back in time, which of your books would you like to visit?

A.    All of them for a number of different reasons but probably A WINTER LOVE SONG encapsulates three distinct areas of fascination for me – the English countryside before motorways and modern living ruined much of it; the beginnings of radio and television and rapidly evolving city life, and WW2.

Where did you find the inspiration for A Winter Love Song?

A.    I have so many stories in my head I couldn’t pin down where they begin, but the travelling fair community that my heroine springs from was so different to the modern-day ones that I wanted to explore that.

Which places do you like to visit when researching a new novel?

A.       Britain has changed so radically over in the last 120 years that much of my research comes from books, museum archives, libraries, old ordinance survey maps etc, with visits to specific locations to get a lie of the land now and again.

What advice would you give your younger writing self?

A.       My advice to my younger writing self would be the same I’d give to any young writers – write about what you love, not what you think might sell because your passion and interest in your chosen genre will come through on the written page.

What is the best money you've ever spent as a writer?

A.       The best use of any money I receive is always that spent on my beautiful children and grandchildren and my furry babies, along with the animal wildlife hospital I support.

Do you carefully plan your novels or prefer to see where the characters take you?

A.       I always begin a story with a brief synopsis but that invariably takes twists and turns as the characters evolve and demand their own say in the novel.

 Huge thanks to Rita for this Q&A, it's been wonderful to learn more about her books and writing. 

A Winter Love Song by Rita Bradshaw is out now, published by Pan Macmillan.

Rita Bradshaw was born in Northamptonshire, where she lives today. At the age of sixteen she met her husband - whom she considers her soul mate - and they have two daughters and a son, and several grandchildren. To her delight, Rita's first novel was accepted for publication and she has gone on to write many more successful novels since, including the number one bestseller Dancing in the Moonlight. " " " "As a committed Christian and passionate animal lover her life is full, but she loves walking her dogs, reading, eating out and visiting the cinema and theatre, as well as being involved in her church and animal welfare.

Follow the tour!

Monday, 6 November 2017

Blog tour: Review - Christmas at Wooloworths by Elaine Everest

Even though there was a war on, the Woolworths girls brought Christmas cheer to their customers

Best friends Sarah, Maisie and Freda are brought together by their jobs at Woolworths. With their loved ones away on the front line, their bonds of friendship strengthen each day. Betty Billington is the manager at Woolworths, and a rock for the girls, having given up on love . . . Until a mysterious stranger turns up one day – could he reignite a spark in Betty?

As the year draws to a close, and Christmas approaches, the girls must rely on each other to navigate the dark days that lie ahead . . .

With so much change, can their friendship survive the war?

How exciting to be back at Woolworths at Christmas! I loved Elaine Everest's The Woolworths Girls, it conjured up such happy memories of the store and this was such a special book to join this wonderful series.

The prologue was troubling as we see Freda working as an auxiliary in the fire service and racing to Canterbury, where she finds out her friends from the Erith Woolworths have been injured. That leaves us on tenterhooks as we delve back into the story of the friends and their community.

Mystery is afoot as there is a stranger watching Betty Billington, and love, friendships and emotion runs high as the war takes Kent deeper within its grips.

It was lovely to catch back up with their lives and stories, and it did not take long to take me back to where we were in the last book. This really is a beautiful festive read which will conjure up vivid images, and leave you uplifted and filled with fighting spirit, camaraderie and Christmas cheer.

Another wonderful read from Ms. Everest.

Title: Christmas at Woolworths
Author: Elaine Everest
Genre: Chick-Lit
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Format: Paperback
Release Date: 2nd November 2017