Monday, 29 February 2016

Fiona Gibson's lemon Madeleines recipe from The Woman Who Upped and Left

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to win a recipe card illustrated by the lovely Fiona Gibson on the run up to the release of her latest book, The Woman Who Upped and Left 

2 eggs
100g caster sugar
100g plain flour
1 lemon, squeezed and zest grated
Three quarters (3/4) of a teaspoon of baking powder
100g butter, melted and cooled
(the above is on sale at M&S right now!)

1 - Brush tray with butter then shake in a little flour through a 

2 - Whisk eggs and sugar until lightly foamed, then whisk in butter, baking powder, lemon juice and zest. Leave for about 20 minutes.

3 - Pour mixture into tray and bake at 200 degrees centigrade for 8-10 minutes until light and springy to touch.


The Woman Who Upped and Left
by Fiona Gibson

Forget about having it all. Sometimes you just want to leave it all behind.
Audrey is often seized by the urge to walk out of her house without looking back – but she can’t possibly do that.
She is a single parent. She is needed. She has a job, a home, responsibilities…and a slothful teenage son’s pants to pick up.
But no one likes being taken for granted – Audrey least of all – so the time has come for drastic action. And no one’s going to stand in her way…

Review and giveaway coming up here later this week...

Sunday, 28 February 2016

5* review - The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza

Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one. 

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation. 

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London. 

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding? 

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika. 

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again? 

After a gripping prologue the book opens with the discovery of a body in a really gruesome manner (I knew it would be perfect from the start!) The young lad that found it was so shaken and traumatised I did want to check as I got further into the book whether he was actually all right! Please let me know that there was no lasting psychological damage, Mr. Bryndza!

DCI Erika Foster was introduced by her old colleague into Lewisham Row station, it was clear there was a tragic past -  it turned out it was an operation that went horrifically wrong in the worst way. She did not endear herself to all her colleagues, nor the victim's family who thought with the father a Labour peer they should be treated differently. Erika seemed not to fear the upper echelon like some of her superiors and seemed to command a mutual respect from many at the station for this.

Erika was determined that as the deaths mounted up the case would not be swept under the carpet and a young man take the blame for a crime he had not committed - especially when it got personal. 

This was a really exceptional book and definitely deserves all the hype surrounding it (imho unlike The Girl on The Train and Gone Girl) it was thrilling, gripping, gory and I found it seemed true to life - however, if you're a member of the justice system there may be flaws. As with all books it's about entertainment and artistic license, but what I read rang true and not ridiculously far fetched.

I loved the characters, I love any book in which the female characters do not need rescuing by a male as they're too busy applying their make-up to see the shadow of the killer approaching...and this book definitely had some kick-ass women in!

I was not expecting the killer to be who they were which always pleases, and I really enjoyed the epilogue which tied Erika's personal side up nicely. I really can not wait for the next in the DCI Foster series!

ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for an impartial review - many thanks.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Review - The Girl Who Came Back by Susan Lewis

When Jules Bright hears a knock on the door, the last person she expects to find is a detective bringing her the news she’s feared for the last three years.

Amelia Quentin is being released from prison.

Jules’s life is very different now to the one she’d known before Amelia shattered it completely. Knowing the girl is coming back she needs to decide what to do. Friends and family gather round, fearing for Jules’s safety. They know that justice was never served; every one of them wants to make the Quentin girl pay. 

The question is, what will Jules do; and which of them – her or Amelia - has the most to fear?

Susan Lewis has a knack of writing the most hard hitting of subjects in a very realistic way, just like you are privy to a behind the scenes look at a news report - ordinary families suffering very extraordinary things. 

In The Girl Who Came Back we see the Bright family; popular, hard working and with a huge family ethos, hit to their very core when the girl that they had befriended, Amelia Quentin does something so shocking that it will destroy them forever, as Jules Bright narrates the story of their life.

The tale of their family, and life as it came to be is woven subtly, drawing you deep into their world, as the reader, I saw roughly what was coming - but not the exact, awful details of how it came to be. For what happened to them Jules Bright wants revenge, justice, but knows she can get neither - until ex detective Andee Lawrence turns up at her door to inform her that Amelia Quentin is due to be released from jail early, and is coming back to re-make her home in Kesterly. 

The characters are extremely well developed, instantly there is something so sinister about the Quentin family, Amelia especially, she really is the stuff of horror movies, in fact I'm sure there could be a spin off book about her alone, and the Bright family are equally as well and realistically constructed. 

To me the plot was seamless and so compelling I found it near impossible to put down until I'd read to the end to discover whether Jules eventually finds peace. I found the ending satisfying and poignant. 

Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

5* Review: You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell

On the morning of Lily's twenty-fifth birthday, it's time to open the very last letter written to her by her beloved mother, who died when she was eight.
Learning more about the first and only real love of her mum's life is a revelation. On the same day, Lily also meets Eddie Tessler, a man fleeing fame who just might have the ability to change her world in unimaginable ways. But her childhood friend Dan has his own reasons for not wanting Lily to get too carried away by Eddie's attentions.
Before long, secrets begin to emerge and Lily's friends and family become involved. In the beautiful Cotswold village of Stanton Langley, nothing will ever be the same again...

I had a feeling before I started to read this latest offering from Jill Mansell that it might be a bit of a tearjerker - a bit depressing, but no! It's absolutely not at all. Although the story is based on the tale of Lily, a young woman on her twenty fifth birthday who has just received the last of her birthday letters that her dying mother penned to her, that is only really a very small part of the book. It is more based on the living and the life that has been constructed for Lily around the lovely Cotswold village of Stanton Langley, and the friends that have been there for her whilst growing up.

Coral was her mother's best friend at uni and has brought Lily up as her own after the untimely death of Jo when Lily was small, and even after she was widowed herself when her husband died. She has provided a loving home and job for Lily in the antiques yard in the village.

Then there's Patsy, Lily's old babysitter who is around ten years older than Lily, the two have grown more like best friends over the years and Patsy runs the village salon. She is divorced and faces several (often really laugh-out-loud) dating disasters.

There's Dan, the boy Lily has loved since childhood but has kept her feelings well hidden as he is somewhat of a Casanova, and Lily does not just want to be another notch...and several other villagers who form the fabric of Lily's life, which is steady and somewhat boring...until the day she finds Eddie Tesslar, famous and gorgeous Hollywood star hiding out in the village.

You and Me, Always really is a lovely light read to lose yourself in. It isn't the usual boy-meets-girl romance, it does have depth, light and a lot of humour, but essentially is it a well written feel good read, perfect to curl up with on the weekend. The characters - though there are a lot - are easy to get to know and follow, the dialogue is good and the situations that crop up along the way really are funny. 

A highly recommended read for fans of this genre!

Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Bookish Bits 1st birthday GIVEAWAY!

I am celebrating a whole year of blogging as Bookish Bits this weekend after suffering a horrible hacking episode while blogging as Room for Reading (the less said about that the better or I shall not be in a party mood!)
So I have a couple of books to give away as a thank you, both by my favourite author, 
Cathy Bramley!


All you need to do is pop over and 'like' my Facebook page (link button at the top right of this page) and leave a comment to let me know! 

Thank you for all your comments and RTs over this past year!

NB: This is not a sponsored post - I have bought and paid for these books to giveaway myself. UK entries only please.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

5* review: The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

When Amber Green, a shop assistant in an exclusive London boutique is plucked from obscurity and mistakenly offered a job working with Mona Armstrong, the infamous, jet-setting 'stylist to the stars', she hits the ground running, helping to style some of Hollywood's hottest (and craziest) starlets.
As awards season spins into action Mona is in hot demand and Amber's life turned upside down. Suddenly she catching the attention of two very different suitors, TV producer Rob and Hollywood bad boy rising star Liam. How will Amber keep her head? And what the hell will everyone wear?

I don't think it is possible for me to put into words how much I ADORED this book! There would be too much gushing...

Amber Green is working in Smith's boutique, a high end shop offering fashion that's not for every pocket. She has a real knack for window dressing which is appreciated by her boss, Jas, ex supermodel, yet not valued by Kiki aka The Stick, wannabe fashionista who demoralises Amber wherever possible. That is until the day Mona Armstrong arrives, the shop is gleaned to perfection except for the mistake a harassed Amber makes with the shoes in the window. Mona thinks she is seeing an inspired moment of fashion genius and asks Amber to accompany her to LA to work the awards season and help to style the industry's finest. Amber, only just knowing her Prada from her Primark grudgingly agrees - much to the annoyance of The Stick who feels her dream job has been snatched from beneath her.

It's probably the riskiest move Amber has ever made, but she manages to blag her way through the craziness of the Golden Globes, making allies along the way, then back to the UK for the BAFTAs where she truly saves Mona's skin (who is quickly unravelling from her public persona to be quite a train wreck of a person) the press are quickly on to her and Amber has to do lots of damage limitation. No more than at the prestigious Oscars when things threaten to go disastrously wrong.

Unfortunately for Mona her demise has been captured by the reality TV crew that have been shadowing her for a pilot episode of her new show which proves to be a step too far for the crumbling star. 
The book culminates with a fantastic ending at the celebrity wedding of the year in Hawaii which goes about as well as you can expect when the ring bearer is a micro-pig in a white tuxedo and leather jacket.

The Stylist really is the most fun I've had from a book in a really long time. I loved the glitz and glamour, it really is like a behind the scenes of Heat magazine. It wont be for all but highly recommended as a really good, escapist light read.

Copy provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Monday, 1 February 2016

Review: The Girls in the Woods by Helen Phifer

Buy links:

(previous books in the series available at) 

Don’t go into the woods. Because you’re in for a big surprise…

In an old album there is a beautiful Victorian photo that captures three young sisters, staring silently at one another. Only the trained eye can see the truth hiding in plain view. One of the sisters is already dead.
Annie Ashworth is currently off duty. With her baby bump growing fast, she is under strict instructions to stay away from police work and look after herself, especially as she has a history of leading danger right to her door. So when her police officer husband, Will, is called to the discovery of a skeleton buried out in the local woods, Annie tries to keep out of the investigation. But as another body is discovered and her own niece suddenly goes missing, staying away just isn’t an option.
As Annie is soon to discover, a picture really does tell a thousand stories. But which one leads to a killer?

I am a huge fan of Phifer's Annie Graham series and eagerly awaited book five. I stormed through it in just a day as it was such an addictive page turner!

Once again, even with the evil Henry Smith dead, Annie finds herself in mortal peril. She shouldn't do as she is currently taking time off from her job in the Lake District's local constabulary as she is heavily pregnant, and detective husband Will doesn't think she could get into any trouble at wrong he is.

Skeletons are found in the woods near to Annie's house which are linked to a cold case of some missing local girls back in the eighties - and it is not long before Annie finds herself embroiled with the killer. Someone with a penchant for photographing dead girls, a 'hobby' he developed after finding an album of 'memento mori' as a child and seeing the macabre fascination. 

Even though this is book five in the Annie Graham series, it would be possible to read as a standalone, but far nicer to know the whole story and read from book one: The Ghost House so the past references will not leave you baffled. 
It is nice to see a return of all the old crew and comforting to know they have Annie's back, despite the danger she seems to put herself, and often them, in!

As much as I have loved Phifer's previous novels this one is definitely my favourite. There are twists and turns in this well formed plot that made me gasp out loud, and I really liked the ending! I do hope to see more from Annie Graham and hope that Phifer hasn't put her to bed just yet...

Find Helen here at: