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.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Cover Reveal! Wickham Hall Part One - Hidden Treasures by Cathy Bramley

Wickham Hall Cover reveal June 9 2015

I’m so excited about the launch of my new series Wickham Hall this month; it introduces a brand new set of characters and a beautiful new setting in a stately home just outside Stratford-upon–Avon. It’s a story of love and friendship, family secrets and heartache and ultimately learning to love life and live for the moment! I’ve packed the story full of my favourite things such as the English countryside, exquisite gardens (including topiary – I adore topiary!), weddings, summer festivals, lots of tea and cake, bonfires and Christmas parties!
The series will be published digitally in four parts this year and then in a complete novel both digitally and in paperback in 2016:

Wickham Hall Part One – Hidden Treasures 25 June
Wickham Hall Part Two – Summer Secrets 23 July
Wickham Hall Part Three – Sparks Fly 24 September
Wickham hall Part Four – White Christmas 26 November

Here’s the blurb!

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. Not only does she get to organise for a living and work in stunning surroundings, but it will also put a bit of distance between Holly and her problems at home.

Holly loves the busy world of Wickham Hall - from family weddings to summer festivals, firework displays and Christmas grottos. But life isn't as easily organised as an event at Wickham Hall (and even those have their complications...). Can Holly learn to let go and live in the moment?

After all, that's when the magic happens...

Cathy Bramley Bio

Cathy is the author of the best-selling romantic comedies Ivy Lane, Appleby farm and Conditional Love. She lives in a small Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two teenage daughters and Pearl, the Cockerpoo.

Her recent career as a full-time writer of light-hearted romantic fiction has come as somewhat of a lovely surprise after spending eighteen years running her own marketing agency. However, she has always been an avid reader, hiding her book under the duvet and reading by torchlight. Luckily her husband has now bought her a Kindle with a light, so that’s the end of all that palaver.

Cathy loves to hear from her readers. You can get in touch via her Facebook page or on Twitter.

Amazon Link (either one - they are the same):

Monday, 8 June 2015

5* review: The Lake House by Helen Phifer (Annie Graham Book 4)

The Lake House is the fourth chilling thriller in the best selling 'Annie Graham' series by Helen Phifer, author of The Ghost HouseThe Secrets of the Shadows and The Forgotten Cottage.

Elderly Martha Beckett is a prisoner in her own home, and has been ever since her older brother disappeared at just nine years old. He went to hide in the cellar and never came back. And now Martha has sworn to protect anyone else from the evils lurking just below her floorboards. But whatever it is, has woken up – and is hungry again…

When she calls the police for help, Annie Graham is the first to respond. Now Annie Ashworth, she is happily married to fellow police officer Will, with a gorgeous home and a job she loves. But then she hears the news – serial killer Henry Smith has escaped from his mental hospital and is on the run. So when a severed head lands at her colleague Jake’s feet – they can only assume that Henry is back to his old tricks. Last time he nearly killed Annie, and this time she’ll bet he wants to finish the job.

So Annie now has two monsters to track down, before they kill again. And time is running out…

Let me just begin by saying although this is book four in a series, in my opinion it's a perfect standalone read, though you may want to go back to the beginning to see where Annie's story began...

The Lake House begins with a chilling prologue, backtracking one hundred years to a creepy carnival where there is a devastating fire. Martha and her sister survive, so does an evil being with murderous intent...

Back to the modern day and Annie Graham (Ashworth) is in danger again, the conclusion of book 3 - The Forgotten Cottage saw obsessive serial killer, Henry Smith on the loose and after Annie yet again, this time with the help of psycho in training, his nurse Megan. Annie and new husband Will quickly realise after the discovery of a severed head, that there is a very good chance it is Henry and he has found which police force Annie has relocated to.

Annie responds to a call out at elderly Martha Beckett's house, a man has gone missing after searching for a stench (and planning on robbing the old lady) in the cellar. It is clear that all is not well down there and with a flash back chapter on the disappearance of Martha's brother in their childhood it is soon evident what is occurring. 

So begins Annie's nightmare, the race is on for Annie's nearest and dearest to find Henry before he finds Annie, to stop the death toll mounting both from the crazy serial killers and the demon in the cellar and to try and rid poor Martha Beckett from the beast within her house.

As always I adored this part of the Annie Graham series, I love the plot, the characters and Phifer's knack of telling a scary story. They really are my most anticipated books and I get hugely excited when a new one is due. With The Lake House I was not as terrified as with the other three, but I think that comes down to my absolute fear of ghosts and not the lack of fear that is built within the story. The flashbacks to Martha Beckett's young life were really excellent and provided a brilliant element within the plot.

As always a FABULOUS read from Phifer and highly recommended!

Read my interview with Helen and my 5* review of her debut novel, The Ghost House

Sunday, 7 June 2015

The Other Child - Lucy Atkins

Sometimes a lie seems kinder than the truth ... but what happens when that lie destroys everything you love?.
When Tess is sent to photograph Greg, a high profile paediatric heart surgeon, she sees something troubled in his face, and feels instantly drawn to him. Their relationship quickly deepens, but then Tess, single mother to nine-year-old Joe, falls pregnant, and Greg is offered the job of a lifetime back in his hometown of Boston. Before she knows it, Tess is married, and relocating to the States. But life in an affluent American suburb proves anything but straightforward.
Unsettling things keep happening in the large rented house. Joe is distressed, the next-door neighbours are in crisis, and Tess is sure that someone is watching her. Greg's work is all-consuming and, as the baby's birth looms, he grows more and more unreachable. Something is very wrong, Tess knows it, and then she makes a jaw-dropping discovery...

Relocating while pregnant from the UK to the US, with her new husband and her small son from her first marriage, Tess finds the move to Boston stressful, especially as her husband is so work driven - but with his super high powered job as a paediatric surgeon he has no choice but to drop everything and do mercy missions to the hospital.

Tess is finding it difficult to settle in though as strange things begin to happen in her new home (which she never did truly warm to), the neighbours are stand offish and peculiar and she is unsure of the different social codes she's meant to adhere to in the affluent suburb - but the very worst is the female that she finds standing outside her house staring in, posting chilling notes. The safety of her family is threatened and Tess needs to find out why.

I was hooked from the beginning with The Other Child, I found it very easy to get in to and it is not long before things start to unravel for Tess which ensures that you keep turning the pages. It was a very gripping and well written plot, lots of secrets and lies that don't add up - which Nell, Tess' best friend back home in England begins to press her to investigate as it all becomes very clear all is not well.

I liked Tess' character and found myself rooting for her from the start, I also loved her son, Joe, and the relationship between he and his father. The ending did not play out quite how I was expecting, but it was still a satisfying and enjoyable read.

Review copy kindly provided by Quercus books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.