Saturday, 28 May 2016

Review - Always with Love by Giovanna Fletcher

There is just something about Giovanna Fletcher’s books that are truly irresitible and I always find myself looking forward to reading her latest title. I’ve adored absolutely everything that Giovanna has written previously - from novellas to full-length novels - so Always with Love had a lot to live up to. I can honestly say that it did not disappoint me in the slightest, it was a truly stunning read and one of those books that I will keep on my bookshelf and treasure for years to come. It’s certainly confirmed exactly why Giovanna’s novels automatically jump straight to the top of my TBR pile!

In Always with Love we are reunited with Sophie and Billy, two characters who we first met in Billy and Me, at a time when they are on their way to Los Angeles where Sophie will be meeting Billy’s family for the first time. It’s meant to be a holiday, but it doesn’t take long for Billy to be swept back into the movie industry, resulting in Sophie feeling like an outsider once more and travelling back to the UK alone. With an almighty distance between them and both busy with their respective jobs and realising what they truly want in life, can their relationship last despite the distance between them?

I thought Billy and Me was a fantastic read, mainly due to the memorable cast of characters that we were introduced to so it was a pleasure to be immersed in their lives once more - in a way it very much felt like I was meeting up with old friends. This is definitely due to Giovanna’s incredible writing style and the way in which she draws you into the novel and leaves you feeling connected to every single character. Sophie was as likeable in Always with Love as she was in Billy and Me and once again I found that I was feeling her emotions and rooting for her to have the happinesss she so desperately deserved. It was wonderful to witness her blossom as a person as the novel progressed.

Despite being a follow-up to Billy and Me, Always with Love is a book which can very easily be read as a standalone novel as Giovanna has gone to town with her description and really sets the scene, explaining anything that happened in Billy and Me that is impacting the character’s lives now. However, I’d still really recommend reading Billy and Me before Always with Love as it’s a superb book and, I believe, will allow the reader to appreciate the whole story and understand the characters a lot more, particularly Sophie's special friendship with Molly. 

I can’t explain how much I loved this story, that was at times emotional but also truly magical and heartwarming. Always with Love, was perfect from the fabulous beginning to the satisfying end and is, yet another, five star novel from Giovanna Fletcher that left me with a smile on my face. I can’t wait to read what Giovanna writes next and would definitely love to find myself back in the world of Billy and Sophie again - where will their lives take them next? 

I would like to end this review by thanking the publishers, who kindly approved my NetGalley request to read this book in exchange for an honest review. I still can't wait for my pre-ordered paperback copy to arrive where it will sit proudly on my bookshelf amongst Giovanna's other beautiful novels. If you haven’t already, make sure you order yourselves a copy of this absolute gem today!

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Review - 24 Hours by Claire Seeber

Wow - I’m a bit late to this party, but I have got to say what an absolutely incredible book 24 Hours by Claire Seeber is. It's one of the finest psychological thriller books that I’ve ever read that quite literally had me hooked from the very beginning. I really couldn’t turn the pages quickly enough through this wonderfully fast-paced novel that was full of some massively unpredictable twists and turns. 

In 24 Hours we meet Laurie who has just escaped from a hotel fire in which her best friend, Emily, died. Laurie is convinced that this fire was not an accident, that it was planned and that whoever started the fire was out to kill her and not Emily. Waiting to have the injuries she sustained whilst escaping from the fire seen to in A&E, she grows fearful and worried about the safety of her daughter and mother who are returning from a trip to Paris. Acting on her fears, she flees the hospital and hitch-hikes her way to London, making an unlikely friend along the way and also crossing paths with people she’d rather not meet. Can she reach her mother and daughter before any harm comes to them?

24 Hours is a novel which alternates between then and now chapters. The then chapters were absolutely superb at setting the scene and serve the purpose of allowing the reader to understand Laurie’s history up until the moment of the fire and see how she is connected to all of the characters that we meet during the book. The now chapters span the incredibly dramatic 24 hours that immediately follow the fire and were the chapters I loved best as I was absolutely desperate to find out who started the fire. They were action-packed to the point I don't know how Laurie was keeping her eyes open and were full of surprises - my theory that I had throughout the entire novel as to who done it was proved entirely wrong. 

Claire’s writing style throughout 24 Hours never faltered once and there was absolutely nothing that I didn’t like about it. With some relatively short sentences, the tension is steadily built as the novel progresses and it was extremely compelling reading, to the point where you always have to read one more chapter until before you know it you’ve turned that final page. What also makes this novel so successful, is the lead character who Claire has cleverly crafted, a character who’s desperation is tangible and who you can’t help but root for as she sets out on her mission. 

This was the first book of Claire’s that I’ve ever read but before reaching even half way through 24 Hours, I knew that I would most definitely be reading anything and everything that Claire writes in the future and would also be seeking out her previous novels. Everything about 24 Hours was brilliant, even the epilogue which rounded the whole story off superbly and was successful at providing an insight as to where each of the characters we met throughout the novel are now at. If you’ve got this book on your bookshelves or on your kindle and are yet to read it I have one word of advice - do so now as I deeply regret leaving this book neglected for so long! 

This is undoubtedly a very worthy five star thriller! 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Celebrating one year of book blogging!

Exactly one year ago today, I sat down and wrote my first ever book review then nervously clicked the publish button. I can safely say that starting my little book blog has been one of the best things I’ve ever done and it’s been an absolute pleasure to “meet” so many lovely authors and book bloggers in the process. 

To celebrate the fact that I have been book blogging for a year I have decided to host a little competition for one lucky person to win one book of their choice worth a maximum of £15 from the Book Depository. All I ask is that, before you enter the competition, you ensure that the Book Depository ships to your country of residence. 

The competition will be open for entries until the 4th June 2016 and a winner will be picked on the 5th June 2016. The winner will be announced via Twitter and must contact me within seven days of the announcement being made, providing their postal address and the title of their chosen book for me to be able to process their prize for them via the Book Depository website. 

Thank you for entering and good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 23 May 2016

Review - Perfume & Promises by Ellen Faith

I picked up Perfume & Promises by Ellen Faith having not previously read anything by the author and knowing very little about what the book was going to be about. I have to say right from the start of this review that Ellen has written a beautiful novel in Perfume & Promises. She has gone above and beyond to really spoil her readers with an incredible story and it’s an absolute privilege to be taking part in the blog tour for this book. 

In Perfume & Promises, we first meet Chloe at a time when, having had more than enough of the drama that her life has become, has decided to pack up her bags and abandon the house in which she once lived with her parents who are now on the other side of the world. Getting into her car, starting the ignition and speeding out of her driveway she has no idea where she’s going until she meets Billy at a service station in the middle of nowhere. With his charm and good looks that Chloe instantly falls for, it doesn’t take Billy long to persuade Chloe to return with him to the village of Rosehip. Three years on and Chloe is in a relationship with Billy and is the owner of a successful perfume shop, but is everything about to change when her parents unexpectedly show up in the village? 

Ellen has created a character in Chloe who it is impossible not to admire as after a difficult time growing up she is determined to put the past behind her and create a successful future for herself. Not many people would be able to show such strength and bravery if faced with even half of what Chloe had to deal with. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Chloe embrace every opportunity to create a new life for herself and go from strength to strength even when she had plenty of reasons to fall apart. 

Perfume & Promises was a treasure of a novel that is full of beautiful description that was impossible not to love, I could picture absolutely everything that the author was writing about. The village of Rosehip sounded absolutely delightful, being portrayed as a picturesque place with few residents who are all dedicated to supporting eachother. It could definitely be described as a closeknit community and I have to say that the author has done a superb job at creating a place that I wish was real simply so I could pay it a visit. 

At its heart Perfume & Promises is a novel that is about friendship, redemption, trust and never giving up. It was an incredibly emotive story that saw me laughing, crying, screaming at the kindle in frustration and gasping out loud in shock as the truth finally emerged. I don’t want to give too much away but my theory as to how things would turn out between Chloe and Billy couldn’t have been further from the truth. 

You know you’re reading a good book when you pick it up with the intention of just reading a few chapters to then look down and see that somehow you’ve read over 50% of the book in one sitting. That’s exactly what happened here, but I have no regrets and have to say that Ellen is definitely an author whose future books I will be looking out for!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Review - Something Old Something New by Darcie Boleyn

Despite having never read anything by Darcie Boleyn previously, when I was offered the chance to review Something Old, Something New I jumped at the chance because it sounded incredible. It didn’t disappoint me and is one of those heartwarming books that is guaranteed to leave almost any reader with a smile on their face and the occasional happy tear in their eye. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I was lucky enough to be able to spend with this delightful book. 

In Something Old, Something New we meet Annie who has three children and has been married twice and divorced twice all before the age of forty. Working as a teacher in a local secondary school, her working day doesn’t end when the school bell rings as she returns home to deal with her children’s dramas and look after the family’s two dogs. Annie’s remained friends with both of her ex-husbands and it’s not long before an invitation drops through her letterbox to the wedding of her second ex-husband, Dex, who is to marry Trevor. She soon finds out that her second ex-husband, Evan, whose job sees him jetting off to many exotic destinations will also be attending the wedding. From the first time we see Annie and Evan together, it’s evident that their true feelings for eachother never really died but will they act on them or not? 

This is one of those books that I loved from the very first page thanks to the way in which it was written. Even though I could see from pretty early on how it was going to end there were a few surprises thrown in to the novel along the way that I wasn’t expecting to happen. This is one of those books that once started I did not want to put down, I just wanted to read it right through to the end and if I had to put it down I found myself thinking about the characters and where their lives were going to take them next. 

I have to say that this book would not have been what it was without the amazing crowd of characters that the author had clearly spent a long time thinking about in terms of the role each was going to play and how they would all come together. I really loved Darcie’s character who was believable from the start and who I admired as, despite her difficult past, she wanted nothing more than to give her children the very best future possible. Despite not wanting to admit that her oldest daughter, Janis, is rapidly turning into a young woman, Annie is clearly someone who has a very wise head on her shoulders and realises the importance of remaining on amicable terms with her ex-husbands for the sake of their children.  

I think that this book would be an absolutely perfect addition to anyone’s summer reading lists this year, thanks to its fun and generally light-hearted story. It’s the perfect book to read whether you’ll be in thirty degree heat or sheltering from the rain that is typical of a British summer. I’m so happy to have discovered Darcie’s wonderful writing with Something Old, Something New and will certainly be back to read more written by her in the future. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Review - The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Every once in a while I come across a book that completely stands out from the crowd and The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood is most certainly one of those books. Harriet has written a truly clever, although sometimes mindblowing, debut novel about love, friendships and grief and it was one that I really did enjoy. The Square Root of Summer has left me feeling incredibly excited to see what other little gems I’ll have the pleasure of reading by Harriet in the future. 

In The Square Root of Summer we are introduced to Gottie who not only lost her grandfather, Grey, a year ago but also her first love who abandoned her at the same time. Having spent the past year of her life feeling both heartbroken and grief-stricken, Gottie is starting to come to terms with her losses. However, it’s not long before she notices strange things starting to happen, namely that she is travelling back in time to relive important/key moments of her life, events that seem to become more frequent when she learns that her childhood best friend is returning from Canada. Excelling in maths and science at school, Gottie is determined to find a scientific explanation for what is happening to her. 

I have to say that there were times when I felt slightly overwhelmed by the quantity of science that was thrown at me in this book, some of which was quite complex. However, what I will say is that the author has gone to a lot of effort to try and explain every concept in layman’s terms. If science isn’t your thing don’t worry as not fully understanding all of the scientific concepts in this book was not a major problem and didn’t prevent me from appreciating the truly special story, filled with a memorable cast of characters. 

The book gave an insight into grieving families, how each family member was affected by the death in a different way and how the death of such a well-loved family member impacted other elements of the remaining character’s lives such as their friendships and hobbies. Probably due to the very close bond she had with her grandfather I found that I instantly connected with Gottie. Her emotions that shone through in the novel felt very real and I spent the whole novel feeling hopeful that she would get back on the right track and find her way again in life. 

As the title of the book suggests the book takes place during the summer months and is definitely a must-read for the upcoming season, particularly if you’re looking for something that’s a little bit different but something that will leave you with a satisfied smile on your face. I didn’t really know what to expect from The Square Root of Summer but it was superbly written and it's clear that the author had taken a lot of time to really research her subject matter. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Review - The Teacher by Katerina Diamond

When I first heard about The Teacher by Katerina Diamond I was instantly intrigued and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy which I did incredibly quickly. Before picking up the book I’d seen a lot of reviews for it and admit that I was left feeling unsure about reading it. However, I’m not someone who likes to be influenced by the opinions of others and prefer to form my own judgement on things so started it last week. I made it through the whole book and whilst I wouldn’t say it was pleasant or easy reading I thought it was well-written. 

The Teacher starts with the headmaster of a private school receiving a book through the post that he knows the significance of and which subsequently leads him to start panicking, fearing the end is near and that someone from his past has returned to get him. Shortly after this he is found hanging in the school hall, but more deaths are to follow and it’s up to Detectives Adrian Miles and Imogen Grey to get to the bottom of the murders - who is responsible for these horrific and numerous deaths and what is their motive for doing so? 

I knew this book was going to be gory and although I’m an avid reader of psychological fiction, I’m not so keen on horror so the gore was something I was very worried about. The worst part in terms of gore for me was near the start of the book, which I quickly skimmed over and quickly put to the back of my mind. I’d actually encourage any other reader to do the same and stick with this book as the actual investigation and detective side of the story is fantastically executed and there are a number of major twists and turns. 

The book itself is told from the viewpoint of several different characters, the stories of whom all come together in the end in a way I was not expecting. The narratives of each of the characters are  quite short which means that you don’t really get to know any of them but for me this added to the tension that is present throughout the entire novel. The only characters you ever really get to know in the novel and spend any great deal of time with are the two detectives - Adrian Miles and Imogen Grey - who both had bad histories but who both came together to crack the case and who I both warmed to as the novel progressed. We also get to know the character of Abbey who plays a vital and totally unexpected role in the book that I had absolutely no chance of predicting. 

This was a book that was completely unlike anything I’ve ever read before and certainly lives up to the hype that I’ve seen surrounding it on all forms of social media. Katerina Diamond most certainly knows how to write a detective story the plot of which was extremely intricate and well thought-through. I’m not sure what Katerina Diamond has up her sleeve to shock and surprise us with next but I will most certainly give it a chance and hope that we’ll be reunited with the detectives from The Teacher in the future to see where their work takes them to next. 

Review - The Second Love of My Life by Victoria Walters

Earlier this month I read Victoria Walters’ novella, The Summer I Met You, and absolutely loved it so I was eager to read her full-length debut novel which had a lot to live up to. It has to be said that not only did The Second Love of My Life live up to my expectations but it completely exceeded them. It was simply perfect in every way and has seen Victoria Walters go on my very special list of authors whose books I will automatically buy when they are published. 

In The Second Love of My Life we are reunited with the characters who are introduced to us in The Summer I Met You, but this time the story is told from the perspective of Rose. Rose was a character who had everything she could have ever wished for, having married the love of her life at a young age and an incredible talent for painting pictures that everyone wants to buy. However, one day Rose’s world is completely shattered and her ability to paint is snatched away from her when her husband, Lucas, is killed in a terrible car crash. With the support of her best friends, Rose is just starting to rebuild her life when someone who wants to buy her paintings turns up on the scene and eventually causes Rose to question whether she can ever bring herself to truly love someone else again. 

Returning to the Cornish town of Talting in The Second Love of My Life was something that I really enjoyed and as the book progressed I fell more and more in love with the place. Talting was a place that sounded so picturesque and had a great sense of community spirit, with everyone knowing eachother’s business but always being happy to help eachother out. It was also really great to be reunited with Rose and Emma again, two characters who are more like sisters than best friends and who I really enjoyed being introduced to in Victoria’s novella. Rose, in particular, was an incredible character who was so strong and admirable through the most difficult of times. 

I have to say that there really wasn’t any part of this beautiful book that I didn’t adore and I thought that it was an absolute pleasure to immerse myself in Victoria Walters’ wonderful writing style once more. It’s very clear that Victoria Walters writes from the heart and has created a novel that is both emotional and uplifting and one that is filled with some very wise advice that I think everyone can learn something from. It’s one of those books that can very easily be read in a day but that you’ll never want to end. 

Whilst I read the novella before reading the full-length novel, I should say that The Second Love of My Life does work very well as a standalone book as Victoria has really gone to town with the description. However, I really do recommend reading the novella before as not only is it brilliant but I also found that I understood the characters and their backgrounds a lot more. 

I cannot believe that this is a debut novel and can only say that this is most definitely the beginning of an incredible and successful writing career for Victoria. The Second Love of My Life is simply one of the best books I’ve ever read and I can’t wait to read plenty more written by Victoria in the future. 

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Review - The One In A Million Boy by Monica Wood

I have to admit that I enjoyed The One In A Million Boy by Monica Wood a lot more than I thought I was going to. For me, it was one of those books that I think a lot of people are going to be reading and talking about several years down the line, purely because of how beautiful and unique the premise of the book is. It’s one of those books that is incredibly powerful and extremely thought-provoking and I certainly won’t be forgetting it in a hurry. 

This is a novel that is based on the friendship between an 11 year old boy and a 104 year old lady called Ona Vitkus. Obsessed with world records, the young boy who by all accounts does not have many friends is a boy scout who is sent to Ona’s house in order to help out with some odd jobs. As he learns about Ona’s life he determines to help Ona break a world record and it doesn’t take long for Ona to start looking forward to the boy’s visits. However, one day the boy’s father turns up in his place which leaves Ona confused and questioning why. We soon learn that the young boy has tragically died and that his father will be fulfilling the boy’s responsibilities, which he does whilst building a friendship of his own with Ona and discovering so much more about himself and the son he hardly knew. 

I’m going to be completely honest and say that this book took me a few chapters to get into but when I was eventually into it, there was no stopping me and I flew through it at a remarkable pace. Throughout the novel the author has been superb in creating a story that, despite being heart-breaking, is also uplifting and inspirational. Predominantly it’s a tale about grief and how two parents who had separated each came to terms with and handled their loss in different ways. The death of the young boy, although devastating, led to the complete transformation of the father that was a pleasure to witness. 

Furthermore, it’s also a very poignant story about friendship and one which really demonstrates that age is just a number that is completely irrelevant. Through this book I have really come to appreciate what is meant by the saying you are only as old as you feel and that nobody is ever to old to pursue their dreams and achieve something special. It also provided an insight into a medical condition that I had never heard of before called long QT syndrome, but one which I think is extremely important and one which needs to be discussed more widely for people to understand it. 

I very much appreciated this book and the story told within it’s pages and can honestly say that I found it to be a very special story. It moved me in a way that I didn’t think it was going to and it was the perfect book to introduce me to Monica Wood’s writing style and I would definitely read more by her in the future. A reading experience I will never forget, a novel I really recommend and a story that surpassed all of my expectations. 

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Review - The Summer I Met You by Victoria Walters

I have to start by saying that I don’t often review novellas, but The Summer I Met You by Victoria Walters was one that really caught my eye as a lot of people had been talking about it. It just so happens that this particular novella is a prequel to Victoria’s full debut novel - The Second Love of My Life which I spent a long time eagerly anticipating. For such a short story, there was a massive amount to love about it and it has to be said that overall I found it to be truly delightful. 

In this novella we meet Emma who packs her bags, jumps in her car and drives down to Devon for a summer with her cousins, Lucy and Amy, to have fun together and celebrate Amy’s birthday. For Emma who it’s safe to say has previously had her heart broken she’s not expecting to find love, but it’s not long before she finds herself wading into the ocean to save someone’s life with a man called John by her side. From the second they meet it’s clear that love is in the air but with Emma planning to return to Cornwall after her holiday and John planning to move to London, it seems like their relationship will be nothing more than a summer fling. However, does anyone know what the future really holds? 

Where novellas are concerned I’m always worried that there’s not going to be enough in them and that I’m going to be left feeling deflated and empty at the end. I have to be completely honest and say that this was not the case with The Summer I Met You, with the story feeling as complete as a full-length novel. In addition to meeting Emma and John, Victoria also manages to introduce us to several other characters, including Emma’s best friend, Rose, who is the main focus of the full-length book. I also felt like I was getting the full picture throughout, finding out so much about Emma’s past and present and even a tiny glimpse as to what the future might hold for her. 

For such a short story, I was surprised by how much I was able to become involved in the story and I really began to feel connected to not just the characters in the story but the place in which it was set too - it sounded so beautiful. I also felt that it contained the perfect mix of laugh-out-loud funny and those all important aww-inducing moments that every good love story needs.

This novella gave me a perfect introduction to Victoria’s writing style which was an absolute treat to read and I fell head over heels in love with. I’m really glad I took a chance with this novella and didn’t just rush straight into the full-length debut novel as I really would have missed out on something wonderful. I finished The Summer I Met You and was left feeling extremely excited to pick up The Second Love of My Life, my review for which will be published on this blog very soon so watch this space! 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Review - The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

For me, everything about The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick was absolutely delightful and it was a real pleasure to read, a golden novel that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. This book is exquisitely written and entirely captivating, one that I could not put down and one that had me staying up until the early hours of the morning as I simply could not stop turning the pages. I have absolutely no doubt that The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is going to be one of my favourite books of 2016! 

We first meet Arthur Pepper on the morning of the anniversary of the death of his wife, Miriam. Although still very much grieving, he decides that it is time to begin clearing out his wife’s belongings. Whilst doing so he comes across a stunning gold charm bracelet that has been hidden away in one of her boots, something which Arthur has never seen before. The bracelet itself has a total of eight charms - a flower, a heart, a tiger, a paint palette, a ring, a book a thimble and an elephant. Intrigued by the bracelet, an unexpected discovery, he soon finds a telephone number located on the elephant charm and in ringing this number he sets off on a journey to find out the story behind each of the eight charms on his wife’s bracelet. 

Firstly I have to say that I found The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper to be an absolutely stunning debut novel that I completely adored. I found it to be beautifully written with a perfect mix of heart-warming and laugh out loud moments throughout. From first meeting Arthur as a man who was so grief-stricken and set in his ways with a daily routine, it was an absolute pleasure to go on such a special journey with him as he discovered more about his wife and really grew and became stronger as a person. I certainly won’t forget this wonderful character or his story in a very long time. 

In addition to being a tale of discovery and one that really highlights the fact that everyone has a story to tell, the book is also one that is very much about family and friendship. It demonstrates how true family and friends, even if you don’t see them all the time, are always going to be there offering support and encouragement in the end and I loved seeing the way in which Arthur’s relationship with his daughter, Lucy, grew over time. Of course, I couldn’t write this review without also mentioning Bernadette who was such a fantastic character throughout and was persistent in offering her support after his bereavement in a way she needed to be to get Arthur back on his feet and believing in himself. 

I still can’t quite believe that this book that has left me feeling encouraged to go out and embrace every opportunity life throws my way is a debut novel. It’s clear that Phaedra is an incredible author who we can expect many great things from and I hope to read much more written by her in the future, as The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper was so brilliant. I predict this novel is going to be massive and believe that it will appeal to almost anyone, but is certainly a book that should be considered by those who enjoyed The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry or the One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. 

My thanks must go to the publishers, who kindly sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.