Saturday, 24 June 2017

Book Review - The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances

The Girlfriend
Michelle Frances

Purchase here

A girl. A boy. His mother. And the lie she'll wish she'd never told.

The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances is a gripping and chilling debut psychological thriller, based on the fall-out following an unforgiveable lie. It looks at the potentially charged relationship between girlfriend, boyfriend and his mother, which most women can identify with, and locates it in an extreme but believable setting.

Laura has it all. A successful career, a long marriage to a rich husband, and a twenty-three year-old son, Daniel, who is kind, handsome, and talented. Then Daniel meets Cherry. Cherry is young, beautiful and smart but she hasn't had the same opportunities as Daniel. And she wants Laura's life.
Cherry comes to the family wide-eyed and wants to be welcomed with open arms, but Laura suspects she's not all that she seems.
When tragedy strikes, an unforgiveable lie is told. It is an act of desperation, but the fall-out will change their lives forever.

Wow! Straight away I was hooked. I began reading this book at about 5am after waking up during the hot and sticky weather and by 9am I was almost done. The book popped up as a recommendation for me and I am so pleased I bought it.

Being the Mum of a nearly 23 year old man who is my only child/son I could relate to Laura. Try as I might to get along with any potential future girlfriends, I know deep down I'll be suspicious of any woman my son brings home - sorry Glen!.

Laura's life is her son. Her husband has been having an affair for years and Laura lives for the times Daniel comes home from University. Laura has her own TV production company and a best friend Isabelle and along with Daniel that is it. They live an extremely comfortable life in South Kensington and have a swimming pool built underneath the house.

Cherry comes from a poor area in Croydon. Ashamed of her Mother - Wendy - a Checkout Manager in a supermarket. Cherry wants more, she did well at school and gained excellent grades in her A-Levels, but couldn't afford to go to University. She learnt French and other languages through language courses on the Internet to better herself. The internet became her friend and through that - along with a few embellishments to her CV - she landed a job as a trainee estate agent at a top agency in South Kensington. Now she was mixing with the right sort of people, now she could become something better than a Checkout Manager from Croydon. Then Daniel walked into her office and into her life looking for flats to buy.

Laura tries her hardest with Cherry. Laura had lost a baby girl in the past and hoped that Cherry may be a potential replacement daughter. She welcomes Cherry into the family, but after a disasterous holiday at the family villa in St Tropez Laura finds out that Cherry isn't trustworthy. Her first mistake was letting Cherry know she was on to her.

I really enjoyed this book. Michelle Frances describes the tension and the mood perfectly and her writing pushes you on devouring the book whole.

Highly recommended 5*

Book Review - The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

The Honeymoon
Tina Seskis

Available to purchase here

There's trouble in paradise . . .
For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight's retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy.
It should be paradise. But it's turned into a nightmare.
Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes.
After everything they've been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all - where has her husband gone?

Thank you to Michael Joseph/Penguin and Netgalley for this ARC, which I have reviewed voluntarily and honestly.

The book begins with a woman sitting on a beach hoping to catch a glimpse of her husband in the sea. She sits there until the sun rises and then decides she needs to report him missing to the relevant authorities. The chapters move on and are set in the past and present. Jemma informs the resort's staff and another honeymooning couple Chrissy and Kenny.
The last thing Jemma said to her husband was 'I hate you' and the only thing missing from their villa is his mask and flippers. What has happened to Jemma's husband?
If I carry on, I will give two much away, so I won't!

To be honest I was getting a little bored with the book, but then it really picked up pace. I never in a million years would have guessed the ending and I was really pleased that I didn't. In the end the book entered very dark territory and made me think about these 'Honeymoon Paradise islands'. It must be almost overwhelming to be in the middle of nowhere, having to be romantic every minute. 
What if something did happen? - like in the book? I suspect you would feel very trapped and I wouldn't like that at all.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Book Review - Obsession by Amanda Robson

Amanda Robson

Available to purchase here on Amazon

Two couples. A doctor’s surgery. A deadly obsession. Who’s telling the truth?
‘Who else would you go for, if you could? Give me a name, someone you quite like.’
He shrugs his shoulders. A jawline held tight.
‘I quite like Jenni. What about you?’
I don’t reply.

Carly and Rob, Jenni and Craig. Two couples, four friends. Betraying each other. Wanting each other.
All of them have access to prescription drugs through the medical practice where they work, and all of them are fighting their own demons.
But can any of them be trusted? And when the lies begin, can they ever be silenced?

I kept hearing about this book online and had read a few reviews so I purchased it on Kindle.

Carly and Rob  ------  Jenni and Craig

Carly is a practice nurse at the local surgery where Rob her husband is a GP. They have 3 children, but Carly's Mum - Heather does the bulk of the childcare. Carly's idea of childcare is to take the children to the local indoor play centre, push in earplugs and read the newspaper.

Rob is pretty easy going, he adores his curvaceous, flirty wife and loves his children dearly, Rob also has a close association with the church and finds much comfort in his faith.

Jenni is a member of Rob's church and her and her firefighter husband Craig met Rob and Carly at antenatal classes. The four of them are close friends and their children play together. 

Whilst on a camping holiday Carly asks Rob a question that many wives have asked their husbands, "If you could have any woman, who would it be?"
His answer is the catalyst to what happens next........

This book is surprising as I didn't like or identify with any of the characters. This doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the book, I did immensely. It is just very unusual not to like at least one of the main characters at some point through the book.
There is sex, drugs and murder and the ending was a surprise.

I would recommend this book if you enjoy psychological thrillers.

Book review - Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey

Let the Dead Speak 
Jane Casey

Available to purchase here

When an 18-year-old girl returns home to find her house covered in blood and her mother missing, Detective Maeve Kerrigan and the murder squad must navigate a web of lies to discover the truth… When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds Kate, her mother, missing and the house covered in blood. There may not be a body, but everything else points to murder. Maeve Kerrigan is young, ambitious and determined to prove she’s up to her new role as detective sergeant. In the absence of a body, she and maverick detective Josh Derwent turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter definitely has something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighbourhood’s favourite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat or is there more behind the charismatic façade? As the accusations fly, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of conflicting testimonies, none of which quite add up. Who is lying, who is not? The answer could lead them to the truth about Kate Emery, and save the life of someone else.

Thank you to Harper Collins and Netgalley for this ARC, which I have reviewed voluntarily and honestly.

Chloe Emrey has been staying at her Father's house with him - Bill - his wife and her two sons Nolan and Nathan. However Chloe leaves early to return home to her Mother Kate. She is offered a lift from the station by her friend Bethany's Father - Oliver.
Chloe opens her front door and finds before her a scene of carnage. Blood splatters the walls and carpet. The police are called and DS Maeve Kerrigan arrives at the scene. There is one problem though, there is no body and Kate is now missing presumed dead.
A tale of religious fanactics and secrets emerges. Is Kate dead or alive? Does Chloe or Bethany really know what has happened?
DS Kerrigan and her team have to do a lot of digging to uncover the truth, but have they found the whole truth? Is someone involved not telling the police the whole story? Can the dead really speak and shed a light on what has happened?

I enjoy a really good thriller and this was no exception. The book is quite fast paced and at first glance there appears to be a lot of characters. Despite that all the characters have a definite purpose and the book is easy to follow. I had no idea "who dun it" and I really enjoyed the last chapter.

This is book 7 in the DS Maeve Kerrigan series. I have not read the others and this works well as a stand alone book.

Book Review - Queen of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson

Available in Hardback/Ebook and Paperback 
on Amazon

When Lewis Harley has a health scare in his early forties, he takes it as a wake-up call. So he and his  wife Charlotte leave behind life in the fast lane and Lewis opens the antique shop he has dreamed of. Bonnie Brookland was brought up in the antiques trade and now works for the man who bought out her father’s business, but she isn’t happy there. So when she walks into Lew’s shop, she knows this is the place for her. 

As Bonnie and Lew start to work together, they soon realise that there is more to their relationship than either thought. But Bonnie is trapped in an unhappy marriage, and Lew and Charlotte have more problems than they care to admit. Each has secrets in their past which are about to be uncovered. Can they find the happiness they both deserve?

Thank you to Books and the City for my preview copy, which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

I love Milly Johnson, so when I was given this signed preview copy of her latest novel I was very excited. So excited in fact that I read it twice!

Lewis Harley opens an antique shop called The Pot of Gold and has yet to make a profit. Bonnie Brookland is working for Grimshaws, a once reputable antique dealership that was run by Bonnie's dad and his business partner. The business had been bought out by Ken Grimshaw and is now being run into the ground as a junk shop. Bonnie hates working for Ken, but she cannot see a way out, Her homelife is terrible too. She is married to Stephen who is nothing but a control freak. As the book moves on we learn that Stephen has some kind of hold over Bonnie making her wary of leaving.
In the meantime Bonnie is fired by Ken after advising and elderly lady to take her valubles somewhere else to be valued as Ken is about to rip her off.
Bonnie drives to the Pot of Gold on the off chance that Lewis may have a job going. As luck would have it, he has, but first he has to get rid of his current, incompetent assistant. 

Lewis is constantly trying to please his wife Charlotte who is getting more and more like her friend Regina everyday. Lewis isn't happy about this as Regina is a bitch. Charlotte is very materialistic and Lewis feels he has to give her everything she wants as a few years ago she lost their baby and it has left her very depressed. On top of that their other friend Gemma wants to try for a baby with her husband and this is proving hard for Charlotte to cope with.
Lewis finds himself getting closer to Bonnie and Bonnie finds herself dreaming about her new boss.

Can Lew and Bonnie help each other get through their troubles?

This book is warm and laugh out loud funny. The character names for the dealers such as "Stickalampinit" are genius. Milly writes with such humour and is also fantastic at making you shout "BOO HISS" at the baddies when they show their true colours.
Woven through the book are hilarious apologies from the local newspaper for their printing mistakes, which actually made me laugh so much I spat out my tea!

The Queen of Wishful Thinking is dedicated to Milly's late doggy and best pal Teddy. This struck a note with me as we lost our darling cat Darcy last year after nearly 19 years together. The void left is huge and our hearts remain broken.

I urge you to buy this glorious book, pour yourself a cuppa and delve in. You'll be smiling in minutes.

Book Review - Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine


Gail Honeyman

Click here to purchase from Amazon

A stunning debut. Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live
Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.
Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.
One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.
Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

Thank you to Harper Collins and Netgalley for this ARC, which I have reviewed voluntarily and honestly.

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine thank you very much! She has her routines; work, speak to Mummy on a Wednesday, buy and consume two bottles of vodka and never get involved with other people. Eleanor has her own opinions on how things should be done and doesn't hold back on sharing these opinions, no matter how abrupt or rude she may seem. 
Eleanor is surviving, not living and then Raymond the bumbling, unhygienic IT guy begins to talk to Eleanor. Usually work colleagues ignore her, make fun of her or talk about her behind her back. They begin to have lunch together, a situation that Eleanor finds very strange indeed.

One day an elderly man collapses on the street and Raymond rushes to help him. He enlists a rather reluctant Eleanor to help him and they both visit the gentleman - Sammy - in hospital. Gradually Eleanor gets absorbed into Raymond's life, tea with his Mother and walks and they both end up spending time with Sammy and his family too.

Eventually Eleanor begins to blossom, to live not just survive. Raymond helps her face her demons and Eleanor finally puts Mummy in her place.

If you only read one book this year, then make it this one. A genuine, deep, thought provoking book about a woman fighting her past and muddling through as best she can. I really felt an affinity with Eleanor and her actions although sometimes unforgivable, were always understandable. Everything in her world is black and white until she begins to live and see the colour in the world.

Definitely a 5* read,

Book review - Secrets of the Dead by Carol E Wyer

Secrets of the Dead 
Carol E Wyer

Three murders. Three innocent victims. What secrets did they share with their killer?
A bottle of bubble bath and colourful, plastic boats were scattered in small puddles on the floor. In the bathtub lay Linda Upton, fully-clothed, her lips a shade of blue, and her bloodshot eyes wide open.
When a young mother is found drowned in the bath, clutching a receipt saying ‘all debts paid’, Detective Robyn Carter knows it’s just the beginning of a harrowing case. She recognises the signs of a serial killer, and when a second victim with a receipt is found, her worst fears are confirmed
With the local press whipping the public into a frenzy, Robyn is under pressure to solve the crime yesterday. But her team can’t find a link between the two bodies, and the cracks are starting to show.
Just when her leads have dried up, Robyn discovers an unsettling clue she thinks could unlock the case. But as she chases across the plush carpets and manicured lawns of the wealthy elite, honing in on the killer’s shocking motive, one of her own is put in terrible danger.
The press call him The Leopard for his stealth, speed and brutality. Can Robyn stop the most twisted killer of her career before it’s too late?
Available to purchase here
Thank you to Bookoutre and Netgalley for this ARC, which I have reviewed voluntarily and honestly.
The second book in the DI Robyn Carter series (Little Girl Lost
Robyn and her team are back and a series of murders have taken place. Each victim has been left with a note attached them reading:
Invoice - Name of victim
Payment due: £250,000
Then written across each invoice in red is written "Paid in full"

At nearby Bromley Hall, a well to do hotel and spa the manager Miles Ashbrook has been found dead in the sauna. Robyn has a hunch that somehow all these murders are linked. One of the victims worked there, one used to work there and one was a regular visitor.
Robyn enlists the help of her cousin Ross and his wife Jeanette to go and stay at the hotel for a few days. As Private Investigators they set to work uncovering the history of the place and chatting to employees. They uncover the death of a woman called Harriet, who by all accounts slipped and fell into the pool while drunk.

Robyn and her team face a race against time to catch the killer - who the local press have unhelpfully dubbed "The Leopard" - before he kills again.
What is the link between these murders and why are the invoices relevant?

I found this to be a very good read, which I devoured in three sittings. I found it very similar to the DI Helen Grace series by MJ Arlidge, who is a firm favourite of mine.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Book Review - Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage by Heidi Swain

Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage 
Heidi Swain

Published on July 13th

From the bestelling author of Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market and The Cherry Tree Café comes a glorious summer treat of glamping, vintage tearooms and love ...

When Lottie Foster’s grandmother’s best friend Gwen dies, she leaves Lottie her lovely home, Cuckoo Cottage.

Lottie loves the cottage but Matt, a charming local builder, points out that beneath its charm it is falling apart. Luckily he is always on hand to help with the problems that somehow seem to keep cropping up. But is he just a bit too good to be true? Certainly Will, Lottie’s closest neighbour, seems to think so.

Lottie plans to set up her own business renovating vintage caravans. She hasn’t told anyone about the project she has cooked up with Jemma from The Cherry Tree Café to repurpose Gwen’s old caravan and turn it into a gorgeous tearoom.

But before she can finally enjoy living with her legacy she must uncover who she can trust, and who to 

avoid. And with two men vying for her attention, will she also find love?

Available to purchase here

Thank you to Simon and Schuster/Books and the City and Netgalley for this ARC, which I have reviewed voluntarily and honestly.

Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage is the 4th book by bestselling author Heidi Swain (Find out about her other books over on Heidi's website here).
We return to the beautiful town of Wynbridge and some familiar faces from Heidi's previous books, which of course means you will be reaching for cakes and cider as you read!

Lottie has been left Cuckoo Cottage by Gwen, who was Lottie's Grandmother's best friend. Lottie had no idea of Gwen's plan until David Miller (Gwen's solicitor) tells her after Gwen's funeral. Lottie decides to leave her flat share and move into Cuckoo Cottage. She soon meets her neighbours Maggie and her son Ed with whom she immediately clicks. She meets Will - the local vet - under rather tense circumstances. Lottie had been taking a shower when the hot water had cut out, showering her with arctic water. Will hears her screams and bursts into the bathroom. Will throws her a towel and sorts out the fuse box.
Surprises keep on coming when Will presents Lottie with Gwen's dog Minnie who by all accounts comes with the cottage and Lottie also finds three vintage caravans in one of the barns, which Gwen had purchased with the help of the Cherry Tree Cafe girls as a project for Lottie. It would appear that Gwen was trying to steer Lottie towards a brighter path from beyond the grave.

Lottie begins to worry that she has made a huge mistake after local builder and good looking chap to boot Matt informs her that the cottage is practically falling down and needs a massive amount of work doing to it. He also puts a spanner in the works when Lottie comes up with a brilliant idea for making money with the caravans.

Has Matt really got Lottie's best interests at heart? Is Will all that he seems?
This is another wonderful book from Heidi. The descriptive writing makes you think that if you were dropped into Wynbridge you could definitely find your way round with no problems. A trip to the market, then a cake at the Cherry Tree Cafe would be divine, not to mention some cider and bacon from Skylark Farm.

Heidi's Christmas novel Sleigh Rides and Silverbells at the Christmas Fair is available to pre-order and is due to be published on the 5th October 2017.

The Cherry Tree Cafe is also now available in PAPERBACK at Sainsburys stores. 

Heidi can be found on Twitter and Facebook

Book Review Love Me Not by MJ Arlidge

Love Me Not

She Loves Me 

A woman's body lies in the road. At first it looks like a tragic accident. But when Helen Grace arrives on the scene it's clear she's looking at a coldblooded killing. But why would anyone target a much-loved wife and mother?

She Loves Me Not

Across town, a shopkeeper is killed while his customers are left unharmed. But what lies behind the killer's choices?

She Loves Me

Who lives? Who dies? Who's next? The clock is ticking.

She Loves Me Not

If Helen can't solve this deadly puzzle then more blood will be shed. But any mistake and it might be her own ...

Purchase here

Find out more about author MJ Arlidge and the other Helen Grant books here

Thank you to Michael Joseph Books/Penguin and Netgalley for this advanced copy which I have read and reviewed voluntarily and honestly.

This is the 7th book in the series of DI Helen Grant books. Nine months after her wrongful imprisonment Helen and her team including her close friend DS Charlie Brooks are on the hunt for a killer. The first victim is found on a road by Helen in what at first glance looks like an accident, but she has been shot at point blank range. She dies in Helen's arms.The next murders happen in quick succession and it is a race to try and catch the killer.
Journalist Emilia Garanita is with holding some information that could very well aid Helen and the team and very nearly ends up a victim herself because of her foolish behaviour.

The clock is ticking and the people of Southampton want answers. Can Helen provide them and can she find the connection before it's too late?

As usual MJ Arlidge gets straight on with the plot making this a fast paced novel. A proper crime novel with plenty of twists, turns and surprises.
Another fantastic book in the DI Helen Grant series.