Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Review - The Deviants by C J Skuse

It's time for a pretty major confession - despite having heard a lot about C. J. Skuse her latest release, The Deviants, is the first book of hers that I've ever read. From the moment I first received an email about this book I became incredibly excited and I instantly knew it would be one that I had to read. I have to say that I'm so very glad that I did because it was beyond fantastic and completely blew me away. I'd actually go so far as to say that if I could give this book more than five stars on the likes of Goodreads and Amazon that I would do so in an instant. To anyone who hasn't yet read this book I highly recommend you do as I can guarantee that you won't regret it. 

Max, Corey, Fallon, Zane and Ella were once best friends and used to have many adventures together until one day their friend, Jessica, is killed in a horrific accident. Now several years late the group are not only back together again but also completely unable to forget the past. What they want to know is what really happened to Jessica all those years ago and they also want revenge. So determined to discover the truth what at first isn't apparent is that one member of the group knows a lot more about Jessica's death than they at first let on. But as we all know, secrets often do not remain a secret for very long and someone is about to get found out. 

From the very first page, this book is full of tension and suspense and this, in addition to a desperate need to discover what happened meant that I was firmly glued to the screen of my Kindle. In fact so compelling and gripping was this book that I read it in a matter of hours in just one sitting. Not only was the book so good in this respect but I found that the place in which this book was set was simply perfect. It was a place that really came alive in my imagination, somewhere I could easily picture and a place where everyone seems to know eachother's business. 

The characters that C. J. Skuse presents to us throughout are all absolutely wonderful and it's clear to see that she's spent a long time thinking about them. This really does pay off as all of the characters feel incredibly real meaning that I felt very able to relate to them. What is more, the issues that came up throughout the novel seemed very realistic as the sorts of issues that young people face in society today. From bullying to teenage pregnancy to many more the author deals with each one in an incredible manner and there were many occasions when I found myself sitting there with a tear in my eye. It was most certainly powerful and moving stuff! 

I could find absolutely nothing wrong with this book, one that I am sure I will remember for a long time to come and one that I will most certainly read again. At the moment a lot of people are talking about this book on social media and having read it I can completely understand why. It thoroughly deserves all of the attention and glowing praise that it receives. Although this is advertised as being a YA book i think that it would appeal to a much wider audience. I now cannot wait to read more by C. J. Skuse in the future but in the meantime must catch up on her previous books. 

Monday, 26 September 2016

Review - Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra

I can quite honestly say that I did not expect Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra to be as outstanding as it actually was. At a time when there are so many incredible psychological thrillers hitting the shelves it had a lot to live up to and it most certainly did. Although it proved to be slightly disturbing on more than one occasion I was completely hooked on this book from the second I picked it up and oh did I struggle to put it down. It was gripping, compelling and addictive which for me is what makes a book of this genre so good. 

In Only Daughter the book opens with an almighty bang as we meet a hungry and homeless girl who is on the run from a troublesome past and has just been caught shoplifting food. Aware that she’s about to get into a lot of trouble with the police she’s also aware that she looks very much like Rebecca Winter, a girl who mysteriously disappeared several years ago. Deciding to adopt Rebecca’s identity it’s not long before she’s living in the house where Rebecca grew up as a child. Our girl thinks she’s safe, that she’s escaped the law but it doesn’t take long for her to start questioning what really happened to Rebecca. In trying to solve the mystery for herself, will she survive? 

This book is told from the perspective of the fake Rebecca in the present day whose real name we never learn and the real Rebecca in the past. I thoroughly enjoyed this particular element of the book and thought that the transitions between the two narratives were executed perfectly. They always seemed to happen at exactly the right moment with each becoming more dramatic and action-packed as the book progressed. We didn’t get to know each of the girls too much but what we was told was more than enough particularly for me when all I really cared about was discovering what happened. 

Only Daughter has been written in a way that means you genuinely don’t know which way it’s going to go next, there were just so many surprises along the way. It was very fast-paced which I thought really worked in this book’s favour and probably helped to make it so gripping. As I said at the start of this review it was quite disturbing, particularly towards the end when I found one of the scenes quite hard to read with a bit too much vivid description. 

I think the timing of the release of this book so close to Halloween when people may be looking for something a bit darker to read is exceptional. This is Anna Snoekstra’s debut novel and from reading this book I think she’s an author to look out for, one who we can expect to see many more psychological thrillers from in the future. At least that’s what I’m hoping as I would most certainly like to read more written by her. 

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Cover Reveal - If Ever I Fall by S D Robertson

In February this year, S D Robertson published a truly phenomenal book in Time to Say Goodbye that received nothing but praise. Now he's back with a brand new novel called If Ever I Fall that is due to hit the shelves on 9th February 2017 and today I'm absolutely delighted to be able to reveal to you the absolutely stunning cover that I simply adore. The blurb sounds incredible too as I'm sure you'll agree...


Is holding on harder than letting go?

Dan’s life has fallen apart at the seams. He’s lost his house, his job, and now he’s going to lose his family too. All he’s ever wanted is to keep them together, but is everything beyond repair?

Maria is drowning in grief. She spends her days writing letters that will never be answered. Nights are spent trying to hold terrible memories at bay, to escape the pain that threatens to engulf her.

Jack wakes up confused and alone. He doesn’t know who he is, how he got there, or why he finds himself on a deserted clifftop, but will piecing together the past leave him a broken man?

In the face of real tragedy, can these three people find a way to reconcile their past with a new future? And is love enough to carry them through?

I think we're going to need the tissues for this one but I personally cannot wait to read it! 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Cover reveal - April Showers and Wedding Flowers by Lindsey Paley

Today I'm super excited to be able to share with you all the cover for April Showers and Wedding Flowers by Lindsey Paley. Isn't it beautiful? As I hope you'll agree from the description, it sounds like a fabulous book and I for one can't wait to read it!

If this sounds like a book you'd enjoy, it can be purchased via Amazon and don't forget to connect with Lindsey on both Facebook and Twitter.


The wedding cake is baked, the champagne is on ice and the bridesmaid dress is a perfect fit. Everything is read for Hannah and Archie's wedding at the picture-perfect church in the sleepy village of Aisford in the Lake District.

But if Camille Carter, 'Queen of Culinary Chaos', thought everything would go according to plan for a change, then she was wrong. When tragedy strikes at the Stag Party weekend there's a risk the wedding will have to be called off.

Will Millie team up once again with irritating-but-hunky Fergus McKenzie to untangle the mystery and ensure the wedding of the year goes ahead without a hitch? Or should she leave well alone and return to her little Parisian patisserie to concentrate on her fledgling Afternoon Tea business?

April Showers and Wedding Flowers is sure to delight fans of the Camille Carter series.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Review - Time after Time by Hannah McKinnon

Time after Time by Hannah McKinnon is a book that I’ve been desperate to read ever since the wonderful publishers held their big cover reveal. Now I thought the cover was a real beauty but I can honestly say that it is nothing compared to how stunning the story on the pages is. I was lucky enough to be able to spend one whole, uninterrupted Sunday snuggled up with this book and it really was a pleasure. This is a book that I’ll never forget, a book so beautiful I’ll most certainly cherish my copy of it for a long time to come. 

Hayley Cooper has what some people could only dream of, a job as a solicitor at a law firm, a husband called Rick and two adorable children. However, despite all of this she’s not at all happy - her father has had a stroke, she hardly ever sees her family due to the long hours she works and she’s spending large amounts of her time arguing with her husband. After one bad argument too many she storms out of the house one evening to her best friend Ellen’s house where after drinking far too many glasses of wine, Hayley starts to wonder “what if?”. This sets her off on a journey through time where she recalls past boyfriends - Chris, Ian, Matthew and Sean - to catch a glimpse of what her life could’ve been like if she had married one of them instead of Rick. Will she realise that marrying Rick was the best decision she ever made?

Within Time after Time there are three different time periods presented to us. First off there is reality where Hayley is married to Rick, then there is the past where we learn about how Hayley ended up in a relationship with each man and lastly there is then a make-believe reality where Hayley sees how different life would’ve been had she stayed with each individual man. This could quite easily have become quite confusing, and although I have to admit that it did take me a little while to get into the swing of things, I think that the way in which this novel was told worked perfectly and it made for a very entertaining read. I loved the way in which every different scenario led not just to Hayley’s life being very different, but also the lives of those around her. 

There was something incredibly special about Hannah McKinnon’s writing style that made this novel really stand out to me. It flowed so beautifully from beginning to end and I have to say that the pacing of the book was absolutely spot on, it was never too fast or too slow and always provided just the right amount of detail. I also loved the way that the book was so well balanced in that an equal amount of time was spent in describing Hayley’s different relationships. We never got caught up with one relationship for too long meaning that it was always engaging and never got boring. 

Time after Time is a book with a very interesting premise that I think many readers would very easily be able to relate to, the idea of making decisions and wondering how life might have turned out had a different decision have been made. What this novel really demonstrates throughout is the importance of living in the moment, not having regrets and appreciating what you have in life. 

I loved Time after Time so very much, a book that was so incredibly heartwarming and inspirational. I’ve never read a book quite like Time after Time and highly recommend it to anyone looking for something that is guaranteed to leave them with a smile on their face. Hannah McKinnon is definitely an author whose future books I’ll be looking out for! 

Review - The Girls in the Woods by Helen Phifer

I started reading this book one Saturday evening and before I knew it I was shocked to look down and realise that not only was I over halfway through it but it was also very, very late. This book, The Girls in the Woods by Helen Phifer was a compelling, addictive and haunting tale that completely astounded me. Having never read anything written by Helen before I went into this novel not knowing what to expect but was left feeling so incredibly impressed by this extraordinary novel. 

When the book opens it’s 1895 and we read of someone’s creepy and unhealthy fascination with photos to do with death. However, soon jumping to the present day although sometimes giving us a glimpse into the year of 1995 when two girls disappeared without a trace, we meet Annie. A member of the police force, Annie is pregnant and has been ordered to stay away from work and focus on looking after herself. Restless and bored with having to stay at home, she struggles with not being allowed to get involved with police work particularly when her husband Will - also a member of the police force - is asked to investigate the discovery of a skeleton in the local woods. When a second skeleton is discovered and Annie’s niece then goes missing, Annie cannot stop herself from getting involved even if that does mean putting her life in danger more than once. 

For me, this is the sort of book that could very easily be made into a television programme with great success. Although I understand that this is part of a series and I’ve not read any of the previous books, for me this really wasn’t an issue. I very quickly became involved with the characters and the problems they were facing and I thought the book worked really well being told from the perspective of several different characters. Thanks to this I was able to build a picture for myself and try and figure out what was going to happen before the big reveal took place. All of the different narratives that were taking place throughout seemed to flow effortlessly into one another and I really felt a range of different emotions for each of the characters involved. 

One thing that this book does is deal with the paranormal which I’m going to be completely honest and say did take me by surprise at first and freaked me out a little bit. However, having now finished the novel and thought about it I can see how important these paranormal scenes were and how expertly they had been blended into the story by Helen. I found this novel to be fast-paced throughout, one where I always found myself having to read just one more chapter to find out what would happen next until before I knew it I’d reached the end. It constantly kept me on my toes and I have to say that I could not predict the massive twist that came right at the end. 

The ending of this book left me feeling entirely satisfied, although also regretful of the fact that I’ve missed out on the previous books in this series by Helen. Her style of writing was so incredible throughout this novel and I just know I would have enjoyed getting to know the characters previously. On this note, I’m not sure what Helen has for us all next but I’ll definitely be on the lookout for it. If you’re looking for a spooky read this October, The Girls in the Woods is the book for you. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Review - Sunshine on a Rainy Day by Bryony Fraser

As soon as I heard about Sunshine on a Rainy Day by Bryony Fraser I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of it. When it finally arrived I dived straight into it with very high expectations and I was not disappointed. From the super cute cover to the words contained on its pages I adored everything about this delightful, drama-filled and laugh-inducing novel. It’s a real little diamond that I’d highly recommend to anyone looking for a book that will not only get them thinking but will also brighten up their day. 

Approximately one month ago, Zoe and Jack tied the knot surrounded by all of their family and friends. You’d think that they’d be nothing but happy, enjoying their life together as a newly married couple but unfortunately that is not the case. If anything the exact opposite is true, their marriage is not harmonious - they’re clashing more than ever before, sleeping in separate rooms and desperate to get away from eachother. Totally fed up and questioning where it all went wrong and why their relationship turned so sour, Zoe suggests that they get a divorce, which they announce to their friends and family at their first wedding anniversary. The question is, just how final is this divorce for the pair? 

Bryony Fraser has presented this book to us in a way that works really well. We get to read about their relationship in the present and also in the past where we get to find out how they came to be together in the first place. The parts about the past also worked wonders for allowing the reader to get to know Zoe and Jack, discover what influenced them and led them to be the people they are today. Both the past and present sections flowed beautifully, were equally entertaining and both very well paced. 

This novel wouldn’t be as successful as it is without the cast of characters who it’s clear that Bryony has spent a lot of time thinking about. Although to some people their antics could be seen as childish I thought that Zoe and Jack were fabulous lead characters, particularly Zoe who stood up for what she believed in and was also quite a caring individual and paticularly protective of her sisters. The characters that surround Zoe and Jack all have a part to play and all fit into the story fabulously. 

Sunshine on a Rainy Day is not your standard boy meets girl, falls in love and lives happily ever after novel. Instead, in a humerous way, it demonstrates how things can go wrong in a relationship and really throws the whole concept of marriage into question. It certainly got me thinking about how important it is - if a couple love eachother and are faithful does it matter if they are married or not?

It’s safe to say that I thought Sunshine on a Rainy Day was a beautiful book that provided the perfect introduction to Bryony’s writing. So much effort has gone into this book and it’s certainly paid off as I for one am now left feeling very excited about what Bryony will write next. Don’t let this book pass you by, take a chance on it and let it be your sunshine on a rainy, autumnal day. 


It was half ten before Benni and I had finished at the bar – departmental stuff had come up that required intense discus­sions over many glasses of melon daiquiri – and my entry into the flat was noisier than I’d intended. Smash! The front door. Crash! A low bookcase falling over. Crunch!The pile of recycling I was going to lie on for juuust a second.
‘Shhh,’ I recommended.
‘Zo, is that you?’ Jack called from the sofa.
If I stay quiet, he wont know its me, I thought.
‘Zo, if that’s not you, it’s a woefully clumsy burglar and I’ll need to actually get up and do something about it.’
Shhh, I thought again.
Suddenly, Jack was standing over me.
‘Come on, you, let’s get you to bed.’
‘Bossy,’ I muttered, as he pulled me up and half walked, half carried me to bed. He removed my clothes, but as he tried to tuck me in I wrapped my arms around him, suddenly amorous.
‘Stay with me,’ I groaned.
‘I’ll get you a pint of water, then I’m coming to bed, ok?’
‘I don’t want a pint of water, I want you.’
‘You’ll want a pint of water when you wake up in three hours’ time, Zo.’
‘Yes, but I want you now,’ I said, closing my eyes to give them a rest.
When I woke up again at 2 a.m., my mouth tasted like the sole of my shoe, and Jack was snoring next to me. There was a time, even a month ago, when he would have been with me tonight. He’d have been out, I’d have been out, we’d have eventually met up on our routes and we’d only just be getting in now. There might even have been dancing, Monday night be damned.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Review - Truth or Date by Portia MacIntosh

Truth or Date by Portia MacIntosh was the first book of hers that I’ve ever read and it was an absolute pleasure. I fell in love with it from the very first page and this was simply down to Portia’s delightful writing style. I read this book in just 24 hours and can honestly say that I regret leaving this book unread for so long. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, particularly if you’re looking for something to cheer you up and put a smile on your face. 

Recently, Ruby’s been having a few inappropriate and very vivid dreams about her flatmate Nick. The problem is that whilst she gets on very well with Nick in her dreams, in real life they don’t have a great friendship, which isn’t helped by his relationship with Heather who is the complete opposite of him and also makes no effort to get on with Ruby. With Nick in a relationship, Ruby’s been using a dating site called Matcher and has experienced a number of very unsuccessful dates. However, it doesn’t take long for her to start listening to her dreams and realise that Nick really is the man for her. So with the help of her best friend Millsy she sets out on operation Truth or Date where Ruby has a choice to make. She either needs to find a way to tell Nick how she really feels about him or attract his attention by dating like crazy. Just how successful will she be? 

Despite the fact that Ruby had a very different lifestyle to me, I found that I instantly liked her. She likes to have fun and doesn’t really care what anyone thinks of her but is at the same time totally loyal to and caring about those around her. I was fully invested in her story and so interested to see how things would turn out for her. The friendship that she had with Millsy was brilliant and seemed very real and strong. Whatever happened you knew that nothing would ever stop them from being friends and that they would always be there for eachother. I simply loved reading of their antics and  was forever wondering what they would get up to next. 

This book is written in a way that makes it impossible not to love. It’s light-hearted and I honestly don’t think that I’ve ever laughed so much whilst reading a book in a long time. It was also full of a few twists and turns which I didn’t expect and couldn’t predict the outcome of. I don’t want to give too much away but one situation turned out to be a lot less sinister than I at first imagined. Overall I found it to be a very refreshing love story, told in a way that really makes it stand out from the crowd. 

With a gorgeous cover and a brilliant story throughout, this book is irresistible. I urge you to pick it up if you haven’t already as it’s a little gem you don’t want to miss. It was a thoroughly entertaining, quick read that would make the perfect companion on these dark, autumn nights. Portia MacIntosh is now an author whose books I will always look out for and I’m already really looking forward to reading her next novel - It’s Not You, It’s Them - when it’s released later this month. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Review - The Ex Factor by Eva Woods

I’ve never read anything written by Eva Woods before but when I heard about the Ex Factor at a time when I was looking for a fun, light-hearted read I decided to jump right in. After finishing the book I was left feeling quite pleasantly surprised as it was an enjoyable novel that stood out from the crowd and was quite different from other books of its genre. What it does is explore the idea of dating a friend’s ex, something which I could never imagine doing, but which has some interesting results for a group of four friends. 

Best friends Marnie, Ani, Rosa and Helen have not had the most successful track record when it comes to relationships. Whilst Rosa has recently split from her husband due to him having an affair with a younger woman, Ani has had more first dates than she cares to think about but working as a lawyer where she deals with messy divorces on a daily basis is scared to commit to anyone long-term. Then there’s Helen who hasn’t dated in a long time and Marnie whose had a number of questionable relationships and has recently returned to London after living abroad. All fed up with their current relationship statuses they each agree to Marnie’s plan of dating a friend’s ex. Just how does this turn out…? 

This book is told from the perspective of each of the four women which I feel works really well given what the book is about. Telling the story in this way allows the reader to get to know each of the women in more detail which was great although I have to say that I particularly enjoyed Rosa and Helen’s parts the most. However, whilst reading the book I found myself quite keenly following the progress that all four of the girls were making, not just with their respective dates but in themselves too and desperately hoped that they would all figure out what they wanted and what would make them truly happy in life. 

Eva Woods has written a highly amusing story in the Ex Factor with many hilarious moments and although it acknowledges a couple of more serious topics not too much time is spent dwelling on them. What was also nice about this book was the way it wasn’t like normal books of this genre with a predictable ending but it instead kept you guessing about what was going to happen for each of the girls until the very end. The only comment I would make is that because the conclusion to the stories came right at the end, it did feel a little bit rushed. Also, unlike other books I’ve read of the genre, it offers a somewhat different perspective on dating that wasn’t fixated on sex scenes which was quite refreshing. 

The Ex Factor was undoubtedly a quick, easy and entertaining read written by an author who I’d definitely like to read more from in the future. I think this is one of those books that would be a perfect pick-me-up now the nights are getting darker - it certainly put a smile on my face. 

Monday, 5 September 2016

Review - The Secret Wife by Gill Paul

In all honesty I don’t tend to read historical fiction but really couldn’t resist the sound of The Secret Wife by Gill Paul. This is an absolutely breathtaking novel that was beautifully written from beginning to end. I’d go so far as to say that this is the best book I’ve read all year and all I can hope is that this review will do this incredible book the justice it fully deserves. 

The Secret Wife is a novel that is told to us via a dual narrative, the first taking place in the modern day and the second told between 1914 and 1986. In September 1914 we meet Dmitri Malama in Russia who has been badly injured during the war. One day, Grand Duchess Tatiana arrives at his bedside who is not only a nurse at the hospital but also a member of the Romanov family. It doesn’t take long for the pair to realise that they have feelings for eachother and through their love story which spans decades we follow the lives of the Romanovs in Russia and beyond. 

Meanwhile, almost 100 years after Dmitri’s story starts, we meet Kitty in 2016. Experiencing difficulties in her own relationship she learns that she’s inherited a cabin near Lake Akanabee. Deciding to leave London far behind and travel over to America to locate the cabin it’s not long before she starts to uncover the secrets that lie behind it. How is both it and she herself connected to Dmitri and Tatiana? 

Normally what I find with novels that are told via dual narratives is that I prefer one more than I do the other. However that was absolutely not the case with this tale as both narratives were so strong and both equally gripping. This was probably why I managed to fly through this novel in under 24 hours - I was eager to find out what would happen next for Dmitri and Tatiana and wanted to see what Kitty would discover next about the cabin and her own history. It really was compelling. 

I went into The Secret Wife with very little idea of what to expect and very little knowledge/understanding of the era in which this novel was set and particularly the Romanov family. However, I found the whole thing to be truly fascinating and feel that it was an incredible learning experience. When I think of historical fiction I tend to think of something that is complex, in-depth and difficult to understand which is probably why I don’t read very much of the genre. Gill Paul proved that this is most definitely not the case, having created something that was so easy to both read and become immersed in to the point I lost all track of time and thought of little else whilst I was reading it. 

The Secret Wife was a sensational masterpiece that I could not get enough of. I highly recommend this book to absolutely anyone and everyone and just know that I will be catching up on Gill’s previous books very soon. This is a book that you do not want to miss under any circumstance and if you want to see what all the fuss is about why not read a brief extract from chapter 1 below?


‘I keep a journal. I try to describe events of the day truthfully. I like the challenge of finding exactly the right words and often they come to me when I am doing something completely different: working here in the hospital, or doing my embroidery, or . . .’ Tatiana stopped, colouring slightly.
He liked the way she spoke, slowly, considering her words, and the intelligence he could see in her eyes. ‘In that case you have the instincts of a writer.’

She laughed. ‘Oh, I could hardly pretend . . . no one reads my journal but me.’
‘Without an audience, you can express your truest feelings. I used to find writing very useful for understanding myself. You know how sometimes you react instinctively in ways that puzzle you? You think: why am I angry? Why does that make me sad? It’s fascinating to unravel the tiny spark that provoked the reaction, perhaps just an unintended nuance, something that struck a chord and triggered the emotion of a much earlier experience . . . human nature is the most compelling study of all.’ He stopped, feeling he was talking too much and perhaps boring her, but she seemed to be listening intently.
‘I know exactly what you mean,’ she said, biting her lip as if some example were flitting unseen through her mind. 
Dmitri watched, thinking what an open, natural girl she appeared to be. He had expected the tsar’s daughters to be haughty and sophisticated, like the grandest ladies of the St Petersburg aristocracy, but Tatiana did not seem to have any airs. She spoke to him as if to an equal.
‘Nurse Romanova Three,’ a woman called from the doorway. 
‘I’m coming, Sister Chebotareva.’ She gave Dmitri a quick, warm smile, said, ‘Till tomorrow,’ then hurried from the ward.

Dmitri watched her go with a smile on his lips, having completely forgotten his pain. He wondered what age Tatiana must be, then worked out that she was seventeen, six years younger than him. In her manner she seemed younger still. And she was much more beautiful than he had ever imagined when he’d seen her from a distance. Her skin was creamy perfection, her eyes like deep pools, her lips stained as if by wild berries . . . If she had not been a Romanov, Dmitri would have flirted with her. Over his years in the imperial guard he had made a number of conquests amongst the young titled ladies of St Petersburg, although none had captured his interest for long. But here, he thought, here was a girl he could easily fall in love with.