Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain - 5* Review




When the pretending ends, the lying begins . . . Molly Arnette is good at keeping secrets. As she and her husband try to adopt a baby, she worries that the truth she's kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at adoption, but her marriage as well. Molly ran away from her family twenty years ago after a shocking event left her devastated and distrustful of those she loved. Now, as she tries to find a way to make peace with her past and embrace a healthy future, she discovers that even she doesn't know the truth of what happened in her family of pretenders.


Molly's story is told alternately though her modern day life in San Diego and her life as a fourteen year old in North Carolina, it tells the tale of an unsure - slightly geeky kid from a really good, close family - albeit a slightly unconventional one. She's extremely happy and has a really wonderful father, until something unthinkable happens.

She hides what happened in her childhood well until she and her husband decide to adopt a child, and the subject of open adoption (where the birth mother is involved in the child's life) comes up, then memories and hidden fears from her past come flooding back, with that and bad news it brings her memories very much to the fore of her mind.

This was a truly wonderful book, one that will stick with me for a very long time. I instinctively felt a huge pull towards Molly's wonderful father, he is a therapist and just handles every situation in the most amazing way - I wish I had his 'answer for everything' way with my teenagers! I also felt a connection with Graham as like him, I too suffer from Multiple Sclerosis, and that's where it got sticky for me. If you read the book you will see that extremely hard hitting issues are tackled that kind of scared me - a lot! However Chamberlain makes it quite clear that Graham has a rare and extremely aggressive form, still made me think and I would probably exercise caution if you are a sufferer, maybe I'm too sensitive - I don't know?

I do still feel the HUGE need to give this book five stars as it was a truly wonderful book and a really wonderful story! It will be a read you won't forget...

Review copy kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.






Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Review: A Parcel for Anna Browne by Miranda Dickinson



Anna Browne is an ordinary woman living an ordinary life. Her day job as a receptionist in bustling London isn't exactly her dream, yet she has everything she wants. But someone thinks Anna Browne deserves more . . .
When a parcel addressed to Anna Browne arrives, she has no idea who has sent it. Inside she finds a beautiful gift - one that is designed to be seen. And so begins a series of incredible deliveries, each one bringing Anna further out of the shadows and encouraging her to become the woman she was destined to be. As Anna grows in confidence, others begin to notice her - and her life starts to change.
But who is sending the mysterious gifts, and why?


Anna Browne is a quietly unassuming character working on reception at a Fleet Street newspaper, everyone's friend and to be perfectly honest, quite dull - but she likes it that way. She's gone from living in Cornwall with her frankly AWFUL drunken mother who did nothing but make a spectacle of Anna throughout her childhood, and she just wants some normality.

Then the mysterious parcels start arriving and Anna becomes the centre of attention; just what she didn't need.

The parcels really are something special however, each one perfectly wrapped with the most heartfelt and beautiful gift inside, the only thing that frustrated Anna was not knowing who her kind benefactor was. I did have my suspicions early on who was bestowing these beautiful items on Anna, and I was right as revealed at the ending. It was all very poignant and sweet and left me feeling very satisfied with the story.

The thing with Miranda Dickinson, is she has a natural talent of telling a beautifully engaging and rich story, the likes of which can be compared to classics in terms of their captivating nature. I am a huge fan of her books!

I adored watching Anna's character grow in strength and find the courage to come out of her timid shell, and the supporting characters were all fabulous too.

Well worth a read or to buy as a gift for a loved one, just make sure to wrap it well! 

(Miranda has also included tips from a master on how to wrap the perfect gift at the back of the book...)


Review copy provided via Netgalley in exchanged for an honest review.



Sunday, 11 October 2015

5* review - The Blissfully Dead by Louise Voss and Mark Edwards


Available from:

She couldn’t believe that he wanted to meet her. He was famous. She was a nobody. Finally, someone could see how special she was…

When the body of a teenage girl is found in a London hotel, DI Patrick Lennon is mystified. Nobody saw her or her killer enter the hotel, and there is no apparent motive—until a second teenager is found and Lennon realises somebody is targeting fans of the world’s biggest boy band.
As Lennon struggles with both his home life and his rivals on the force, the pressure to catch the killer before he strikes again reaches fever pitch. And when Lennon makes a terrible mistake that ends in disaster, he finds himself in a race to save not only the lives of more teenage girls but also his own career.


I was first introduced to the sublime writing of Voss and Edwards when I bought From The Cradle in the Amazon daily deals last winter some time and was hooked straight away, I've since downloaded all their work independently and together and loved every one (if you haven't before, check out their back catalogues, fans of this genre will not be disappointed). I was thrilled when I saw on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/vossandedwards)  that DI Lennon would be returning with a new story! 

On Target is a boy band taking the world by storm, and one of their female fans is murdered, followed by another...the world surrounding the band is under scrutiny, the fans seem to be being targeted through their forum but the clues are scarce, then the murders continue - closer to home now, and suspicion grows - along with tension at the station (I really do despise DI Winkler). Two more fans go missing and the race is on to try and find them while they're still alive.

The suspense in this book is huge, following the form of their past work the story is told by multiple narrators and there was a huge plot twist that was extremely pleasing, I really didn't see it coming. All I can say is this comes highly recommended, although is is book two in the DI Lennon series, you could read it as a stand alone, but it would make more sense to read book one first, especially where DI Lennon's marriage is concerned. 




The first child was taken from her house.
The second from his mother's car.
The third from her own bedroom...
When Helen and Sean Philips go out for the evening, leaving their teenage daughter babysitting little Frankie, they have no idea that they are about to face every parent's greatest fear.
Detective Inspector Patrick Lennon is hopeful that the three children who have been abducted in this patch of south-west London will be returned safe and well. But when a body is found in a local park, Lennon realizes that time is running out—and that nothing in this case is as it seems...
Blending police procedural with psychological thriller, From the Cradle will have every parent checking that their children are safe in their beds...then checking again.
From the Cradle is the first book in the Detective Lennon Thriller Series.

A huge 5* 

Review copy provided courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Friday, 9 October 2015

Wickham Hall - Part Three: Sparks Fly by Cathy Bramley - 5* review


Buy the Wickham Hall series here:


Autumn is unfurling at Wickham Hall and everyone is excited about the upcoming bonfire night event – set to be the biggest and brightest ever in the hall’s history. Romance is definitely flickering between Holly and Ben too, as Holly’s life at home finally settles down. 
But as one fire is put out another bursts into life, and the whole team at Wickham Hall find themselves under pressure. Will the majestic firework display end in tragedy? 
Wickham Hall is an utterly feel-good story told in four parts – following Holly Swift’s attempt at organising her own happy-ever-after, one catastrophe at a time. Sparks Fly is part three.


Part three of Wickham Hall sees Holly Swift organising the bonfire spectacular, along with waiting for boss/love interest Benedict Fortescue (reluctant heir to the Wickham Hall estate) to return from his trip. They left their will they - won't they? relationship at a sticky point at the end of part two and I couldn't wait to see what would happen between them, especially after the last instalment ending with Holly fearful that they could even be half brother and sister! But now in part three Holly is armed with a little more information to find her biological father which leaves her nervous yet excited - along with helping her mum put away troubles from the past, helping her one step further to conquering her hoarding obsession which has blighted the family throughout Holly's childhood.

Wickham Hall is turning out to be my favourite Cathy Bramley series yet! Warmly written with Bramley's excellent humour and really interesting and believable characters. The descriptions of the surroundings are so beautiful and vivid you could be right there.

Looking forward (with hesitance as I really don't want this to end!) to the conclusion!





Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Review: The Trouble With Words - Suzie Tullett


The Trouble with Words by Suzie Tullett is available on Amazon:

Having long made a promise to her husband, young widow Annabel has no intentions of breaking it. What she does plan to do, though, is have a baby. Not the easiest of tasks for a woman with a deceased other half, and having explored all her options, her only choice is to take the unconventional route. Setting out to find her own donor, Annabel meets Dan. Single, fun-loving and definitely not looking for commitment, this unruly blonde, blue-eyed man seems perfect for the job.
Dan wants nothing more than to find his dream woman. But with a mother intent on sabotaging his every relationship, he can't help but think he's destined to remain single. Of course, he knows his mother doesn't really want him all for herself, why else would she keep insisting he meet Maeve? Why else would she insist Dan promise to find himself a wife before she meets her maker?
Forced to negotiate matters of love, life and death, Annabel and Dan seem the answer to each other's prayers. But will they really be able to keep the promises they made? And is having a baby really the solution?




I was delighted when Suzie Tullett asked me if I would like to review her latest book, The Trouble with Words, as I have been a fan of hers since her first novel, Going Underground and I knew I was not to be disappointed.

The story opens with Annabel breaking the news to her husband that she would like a baby, in not the most conventional way. I really felt for her as I was reading and was straight away drawn to her character, and as the story progresses we meet Dan and his mum Gerry. She is desperate for Dan to find himself a wife but she needed to be sure it was the right woman for him, and she was determined to be instrumental in him doing so!

Dan and Annabel seem perfect for each other - if only they would realise it! With both of them having their own trials that seem more important than the dating game, things seem that they will pass them by, but fate steps in to ensure this does not happen. 

There are some really sad, properly tear jerking moments throughout the book, all beautifully written and sincere enough to make you think you are in the room with the characters, and there are plenty of laugh out loud moments to lighten the mood along the way (my favourite being the skateboard lesson - read the book and you'll see!). The ending was poignant, satisfying and well written, as was the whole book. I find Tullett a master of writing believable dialogue that is read in your mind just as you would hear someone speaking it. The characters are well developed and seem to really grown in strength throughout the story, Gerry being my favourite - she definitely deserves Fictional Mother of the Year!

Congratulations to Tullett on providing another well written, perfectly researched and entertaining tale.

Many thanks to Hanna Oliwa at http://safkhetpublishing.com/ for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review. 


More about the author:




Thursday, 1 October 2015

The Trouble with Words by Suzie Tullett - Relase Day Blitz


Safkhet Publishing proudly presents


THE TROUBLE WITH WORDS


by Suzie Tullett


a romantic comedy which releases today!





Promises – easy to make, hard to keep.


Having long made a promise to her husband, young widow Annabel has no intentions of breaking it. What she does plan to do, though, is have a baby. Not the easiest of tasks for a woman with a deceased other half, and having explored all her options, her only choice is to take the unconventional route. Setting out to find her own donor, Annabel meets Dan. Single, fun-loving and definitely not looking for commitment, this unruly blonde, blue-eyed man seems perfect for the job.


Dan wants nothing more than to find his dream woman. But with a mother intent on sabotaging his every relationship, he can't help but think he's destined to remain single. Of course, he knows his mother doesn't really want him all for herself, why else would she keep insisting he meet Maeve? Why else would she insist Dan promise to find himself a wife before she meets her maker?


Forced to negotiate matters of love, life and death, Annabel and Dan seem the answer to each other's prayers. But will they really be able to keep the promises they made? And is having a baby really the solution?


Read below for an excerpt...









Suzie Tullett is an author of contemporary humorous fiction and romantic comedy. As well as The Trouble with Words, her novels include Going Underground and Little White Lies and Butterflies, which was short-listed for The Guardian's 2013 Not the Booker Prize. She has a Masters Degree in Television & Radio Scriptwriting and worked as a scriptwriter before becoming a full-time novelist. And when she's not tapping away on the computer creating her own literary masterpiece, she usually has her head in someone else's.


More about the author:









Safkhet Publishing: http://safkhetpublishing.com/



Excerpt

Opening out the deckchair, she plonked herself down in it. “So how’s your week been?” she asked. She paused, not that she really expected a reply, but it was nice to know he was listening if nothing else. “Mine’s not been too bad,” she continued. “The shop’s still doing okay. Oh, and your mum called round the other day.” Remembering the visit all too well, Annabel tried not to scowl. “She said to say hello.”      
She reached down and dipped her hand into her bag again, this time pulling out a flask of coffee. “Caffeine, just what I need after the hassle of getting here,” she said. “As usual the traffic was horrendous.”
Pouring herself a drink, she knew her ramblings were an attempt at stalling the inevitable; that she was worried about Tom’s reaction once she’d told him what she was up to. While her plans for the future might be a positive move on her part, she certainly wasn't daft enough to think everyone would understand. If anything most people wouldn't, especially if his mother’s reaction had been anything to go by.
She thought it strange how everyone and their dog insisted she move on, yet the second she did they created such a song and dance over it. Although if Tom did choose to join in with the dissenters, then just like them he’d only have to get used to the idea; particularly when this was entirely his fault to begin with. Annabel didn’t want to play the blame game, but just like she’d said to his mother, she wouldn’t be in this position if he hadn’t upped and died in the first place. In her mind’s eye, she could see Tom sitting opposite, his hands clasped as he patiently waited for her to tell him what was really on her mind. The man always could read her like a book.
“Okay, okay,” she said. “Just give me a second.”          
She took a couple of sips of coffee, determined to reveal all. But, in spite of practicing her speech all week, now that it came to it, those well-chosen words seemed to fail her. Resting her cup on her knee and refusing to let her conviction wane, she realised she was just going to have to come out and say it.
After three, she told herself. One, two, three…
She squeezed her eyes shut, in anticipation of the lightning bolt no doubt about to strike her down.

“I’m going to have a baby,” she said.

The Trouble with Words by Suzie Tullett is available on Amazon:






Friday, 28 August 2015

5* review - No Place to Hide - Susan Lewis





Why has Justine Cantrell suddenly changed her name, abandoned the husband and family she loves and a successful business to start a new life in a place many thousands of miles away? 

There isn't a man involved, but there is a terrible secret that she must hide from her new friends and neighbours as securely as she needs to hide herself from those she's left behind. 

What is Justine's secret?




I am a huge fan of Susan Lewis but No Place to Hide blew me away, it has to, for me, go down as her best yet!

Justine is on the run from something, that much is clear. Settling in a quiet US town which she has distant links to from her past, with her small daughter she is extremely keen that no-one must know her secrets.

The book flicks back and forth to Justine's past, living in the UK with loving husband Matt and their two, then, small children, Ben and Abby. They seem to have it all; successful careers, a beautiful house and an enviable lifestyle.

About halfway into the book Justine's secret is revealed, and boy - is it huge! I was so shocked I had to re-read the chapter twice. It intensifies the story as Justine becomes forced to let her two worlds collide, and face the consequences.

I loved every part of this book and in so many ways likened it to a good Diane Chamberlain novel (another one of my favourites). The plot was tight, compelling and had real flow. The characters likeable and believable, I really felt for Justine's character and wanted her to find her happily-ever-after!

I couldn't recommend this more! A huge 5*!


Review copy kindly provided by the publisher via Netgalley

Thursday, 27 August 2015

5* Review: The Bones of You by Debbie Howells



I have a gardener's inherent belief in the natural order of things. Soft-petalled flowers that go to seed. The resolute passage of the seasons. Swallows that fly thousands of miles to follow the eternal summer.

Children who don't die before their parents.

A community in shock

When eighteen-year-old Rosie Anderson disappears, the idyllic village where she lived will never be the same again. Local gardener Kate is struck with guilt. She'd come to know Rosie well, and thought she understood her - perhaps better even than Rosie's own mother.

A family torn apart

Rosie was beautiful, kind and gentle. She came from a loving family and she had her whole life ahead of her. Who could possibly want to harm her? And why?

A keeper of secrets

Kate is convinced the police are missing something. She's certain that someone in the village knows more than they're letting on. As the investigation deepens, so does Kate's obsession with solving the mystery of what happened to Rosie.


In a small Sussex town eighteen year old Rosie Anderson goes missing. Her mother contacts her friend Kate inquiring of her whereabouts but initially is not all that concerned. Kate is; she knows this is so out of character for quiet Rosie, even if her mother doesn't think so.

It does not take long for a body to be found, shattering the town apart. Parents fearing for their children, townsfolk looking on one another with suspicion. Until arrests are made, and secrets come to light.

The Bones of You is an exceptional debut novel from Debbie Howells. The plot is engaging, characters easy to delve in to - I especially liked Kate and the different dynamics of her relationships. The psychological element is strong but I did not find it unsettling, it was compelling in a subtle way, rather like real life as opposed to far-fetched-fiction.

The conclusion played out well, and rather like Broadchurch, I did suspect the killer, but the book reads in a way that really I suspected everyone at one point. The Bones of You has been likened to Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, however the only connection I made was the alternate narration by the deceased girls, and the fact that young girls were murdered, I found both books utterly compelling in different ways - and The Lovely Bones - to me - had a far more graphic and shocking element, and a very peculiar ending, in my opinion!

I really did enjoy this book and eagerly await more from Howells.

NB. Review copy kindly provided by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.




Wednesday, 19 August 2015

5* review - Appleby Farm by Cathy Bramley



Freya Moorcroft has wild red hair, mischievous green eyes, a warm smile and a heart of gold. She’s been happy working at the cafĂ© round the corner from Ivy Lane allotments and her romance with her new boyfriend is going well, she thinks, but a part of her still misses the beautiful rolling hills of her Cumbrian childhood home: Appleby Farm.


Then a phone call out of the blue and a desperate plea for help change everything…


The farm is in financial trouble, and it’s taking its toll on the aunt and uncle who raised Freya. Heading home to lend a hand, Freya quickly learns that things are worse than she first thought. As she summons up all her creativity and determination to turn things around, Freya is surprised as her own dreams for the future begin to take shape.


Love makes the world go round, according to Freya. Not money. But will saving Appleby Farm and following her heart come at a price?





How I love Cathy Bramley, and how pleased I was to realise that some of my favourite Ivy Lane characters would be popping up in Appleby Farm, and that it was centered around Freya Moorcroft who we had met in the latter half of Ivy Lane.

Freya works in the cafe around the corner from the Ivy Lane allotments, it's just a cover job, as much of Freya's employment seems to be. She feels that she has never really settled anywhere, even though she is now in a relationship with Charlie which she thought was going swimmingly until he breaks it to her that it's just 'a bit of fun' and seems quite unwilling to introduce her to his young son.

When she receives a phone call from her Auntie Sue saying that her Uncle Arthur has had an accident while driving his tractor she is devastated. She jumps on the next train to be with them and help out while her uncle is laid up. When she arrives there she feels guilty that her aunt and uncle have aged considerably, she realises this is due to the fact that she has not visited anywhere near as much as she should have in the past few years.
While she is there she feels the comfort of home, as she has always looked upon the farm as, and wonders whether there is anything really to return back to Kingsfield for.
As she contemplates her decision she uncovers a troubling secret and a catastrophe that puts the future of Appleby Farm in jeopardy.
Freya puts her thinking cap on to try and save her childhood home and the family who virtually raised her, she draws on every resource she can, until she can go no further and has to take the leap of contacting her parents who she has always vowed never to go cap in hand to, but when needs must...

Family tensions run high, especially when Freya's (vile) brother appears on the scene and threatens all the hard work that Freya has achieved, but the rekindled friendship with her childhood bestie Harry proves just the tonic that Freya needs.

I adored watching bubbly Freya return to her childhood home and her lovely Aunty Sue and Uncle Arthur, and watching her character develop from the lost soul she seemed to be in the very beginning - or even further back for those who have read Ivy Lane where she first featured working in the cafe. 

Appleby Farm is beautifully touching and vibrant, all told with Cathy's wonderful, warm sense of humour. I loved the family ethos at Appleby Farm, how fences are mended (physically and metaphorically) and how Tilly Parker (Ivy Lane) celebrated her beautiful wedding at Freya's beautiful vintage tearooms which was described so perfectly I felt I was a guest looking on, with obligatory tears in my eyes.

A perfect feel-good read!


Follow the rest of the tour here:













Thursday, 6 August 2015

Wickham Hall: Part Two - Summer Secrets by Cathy Bramley - 5* review!



Summertime at Wickham Hall is hard to beat. The sun is out, the gardens are in full bloom, and the Summer Festival is just around the corner.

With a clipboard in one hand and her diary in the other, Holly Swift is in her element. She’s even warming to Ben, her disorganised, spontaneous (if very attractive) boss who occasionally drives her mad.

But as the festival rolls near, a family secret from the past threatens to rain down on Holly’s parade. Can she weather the storm, or is this a problem not even Holly can plan her way out of?

Wickham Hall is an utterly feel-good story told in four parts – following Holly Swift’s attempt at organising her own happy-ever-after, one catastrophe at a time. Summer Secrets is part two.



We return to Wickham Hall with a summer bang! Preparations for the summer festival are in full swing, and with a lovely touch of it being Lord and Lady Fortescue's 30th anniversary at Wickham Hall which is to be celebrated in style.

The pearl anniversary theme is celebrated well, and Holly Swift's new, yet slightly laid back and reluctant boss (and heir to the Wickham Hall estate), Benedict actually seems to be pulling his weight. Holly and co. are still run ragged but the festival seems to be a huge success.


We delve deeper in to Holly's family life and the secrets surrounding her birth - and are left with a blinding realisation settling in the pit of Holly's stomach that could change everything.


I love everything about the Wickham Hall series, the description of the house and grounds is particularly beautiful and the characters have a special way of drawing you into their story. All this along with Cathy's dry, observant wit and the general loveliness of the plot make the second installment of Wickham Hall a winner. Can't wait for part three!



The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop - Abby Clements



Anna and her husband Matteo are ready to embark a delicious Italian adventure. After a year and a half running their ice cream shop on Brighton beach and raising their baby Isabella, Matteo is starting to miss Italy. A shared passion for ices means it's easy to settle on a new business idea - they'll open a shop in Sorrento's cobbled square, a short walk from the sparkling blue sea. For a while, life is sweet; but then Matteo's overbearing family get involved …

Anna's younger sister Imogen feels like things are finally coming together - she's living with boyfriend Finn in a beach house in Brighton, and her photography is taking off. Then her career stalls, and the lure of Capri - and a man from her past - prove difficult to resist. 


I am a huge fan of Abby Clements' books so I knew I was in for a summery treat when reading this latest offering. It did not disappoint.

We pick up on Imogen and Anna's life from her book Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop but worry not, if you haven't read it then it is very easy to pick up on who's who and it's a perfectly good standalone read. It will make you want to go back and find out where the family's story began though. They are running their late grandmother's ice cream shop on Brighton sea front and making a huge success of it. Imogen is trying to pursue her photography career though so it is Anna and husband Matteo that run the day-to-day side of the business...and very well too. 

Their baby, Bella comes along and her arrival makes Matteo yearn for his life and family back in Italy, and after some soul searching and research they find the perfect gelateria in Sorrento. The small family relocate leaving Anna's family behind in the UK where secrets from the past are revealed changing someone's life. 

Imogen and Finn are also having problems as Imo feels that things are becoming too serious and she feels unable to settle down while her thirst to travel is still unquenched. This threatens to blow their relationship and stability apart.

I loved to be back with the McAvoys again and this book's setting in the gorgeous Sorrento was a beautiful, summery escape. It is well written with a gentle plot that will leave you fulfilled and entertained with a really lovely ending. A perfect holiday read.



Thursday, 2 July 2015

5* review: Wickham Hall: Part One - Hidden Treasures by Cathy Bramley




Holly Swift has just landed the job of her dreams: events co-ordinator at Wickham Hall, the beautiful manor home that sits proudly at the heart of the village where she grew up.

Her first major event is a spring wedding of royal proportions. Holly has every detail covered, so all she has to do is keep calm and carry on… Easier said than done!

As the church bells ring, little does Holly know that come Monday, she’ll have a new boss. And it might not exactly be a match made in heaven…

Wickham Hall is an utterly feel-good story told in four parts – following Holly Swift’s attempt at organising her own happy-ever-after, one catastrophe at a time – beginning with Hidden Treasures.




I thoroughly enjoyed the first installment of Wickham Hall with its wonderful array of characters (love Holly!), the stately home and gardens are described intricately and with such beauty I could even smell the flowers. 

There are family secrets beginning to unfold, a potential love interest in the form of the handsome and intriguing Benedict (I hope) and a full events calendar to look forward to, especially if they are anything like the magical society wedding in Hidden Treasures.

Cannot wait for part two, I know it's going to be fabulous! A perfect start to another wonderful series from Cathy Bramley.





See my reviews from Cathy's other work here:

 


Complete paperback: Ivy Lane
Appleby Farm: Part One - A Blessing in Disguise
Appleby Farm: Part Two - A Family Affair
Appleby Fam: Part Three - Where The Heart Is
Appleby Farm: Part Four - Love is in The Air




Follow You Home - Mark Edwards - 5* Review



It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, a final adventure before settling down.

After a perfect start, Daniel and Laura’s travels end abruptly when they are thrown off a night train in the middle of nowhere. To find their way back to civilisation, they must hike along the tracks through a forest…a haunting journey that ends in unimaginable terror.

Back in London, Daniel and Laura vow never to talk about what they saw that night. But as they try to fit back into their old lives, it becomes clear that their nightmare is just beginning…


I have spent this last week engrossed in Mark Edwards novels. I have read and really enjoyed his past work with Louise Voss and decided to read The Magpies which had remained unread on my Kindle, I just could not move on after this and was jubilant to find I had Because She Loves Me (not a sequel, but good to read after The Magpies) nestled in a to-be-read folder too. I shared my love for these most excellent reads on Twitter and Edwards very kindly offered to send an ARC of his latest work, Follow You Home. Overjoyed to say the least!

I read this one even faster the the previous and was quite gutted when my husband suggested we go out Saturday night (didn't he know that Daniel's fate was in hanging in the balance?). But this has to be my favourite and in my opinion, Edwards' darkest book yet.

It begins with Daniel and Laura halfway through their Grand Tour, an extended holiday before they settle down, marry and have children. Daniel buys the cheapskate tickets to travel through Romania, Laura is bone weary so the friendly couple they meet suggest a quite nap in the empty sleeper carriage. A move they will regret for the rest of their lives.

After being thrown off the train they become lost in a Romanian forest. What they witness will shatter their world and as they return home it is evident things can never return to normal.

Instead of putting the past behind them and moving on, however, it seems that someone is targeting them. They realise they are not safe, and as the death toll mounts around them it would appear that whoever has followed them is intent on not letting them tell their stories...




Sunday, 14 June 2015

The Island Escape - Kerry Fisher 5* Review


(currently in the Amazon 3 paperbacks for £10 promotion as of 14/06/15)


Octavia Shelton thought she’d have a different life. One where she travelled the world with an exotic husband and free-spirited children in tow.
Instead she’s married to safe, reliable Jonathan, and her life now consists of packed lunches, school runs and mountains of dirty washing. She’s not unhappy. It’s just that she can barely recognise herself.
So as Octavia watches her best friend’s marriage break up, it gets her thinking. What if life could be different? What if she could escape and rediscover the person she used to be? Escape back to the island she visited years ago? And what if the man she used to love was there waiting for her?


Octavia and Roberta are best friends, they have the kind of friendship that when the affluent Roberta rings from a police station in the middle of a winter's night and says 'bring me a tshirt - mine has blood on', Octavia does not question it - just hopes she has not finally killed off Scott, her loathsome and unsuitable husband - gets in her car and goes to her rescue.

It is clearly apparent that as perfect as Roberta's life seems from the outside, behind closed doors things are far from it. She is dissatisfied, unappreciated and emotionally bullied. She decides that enough is enough and leaves, taking teenage daughter Alicia with her. Her first port of call is Octavia who seems to have a strong and happy marriage, but Roberta's situation leaves her wondering if she is really as contented as she thought. Especially as people point out that she is just not the outgoing, unburdened free spirit she used to be, and it doesn't take long for thoughts of her first love to bubble up from the depths where she has buried them.

I absolutely loved my few days where I luxuriated in the pages of The Island Escape. It is beautifully written in alternating chapters from Octavia and Roberta, with empathy, humour and the most vivid description of the beautiful islands of Sardinia and Corsica.

Fisher delved into the early middle aged women's relationships and stripped them to their bare bones, letting the reader right into their souls. They are very different characters but the very closest of friends and would do anything for one another, and do. We also see how 'what if' moments can change our lives.

The ending of the book is perfect and things are resolved exactly as I would have liked, both characters going through huge developments and really finding who they are and what they are capable of.

I loved the book so much I went straight to Amazon and bough Fisher's debut The School Gate Survival Guide 

A definite 5* from me 
Review copy kindly provided by the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.