Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Summer Flings and Dancing Dreams by Sue Watson

The review for Summer Flings and Dancing Dreams is by guest reviewer, Katrina 

Dance like nobody’s watching. Love like you’ll never get hurt…

Laura Watkin’s heart isn’t broken, she’s just forgotten how to use it.

After years on her own, the highlight of single mum Laura’s week is watching Strictly Come Dancing with a glass of Pinot Grigio and a large helping of imagination.

With her daughter Sophie going travelling, Laura knows the time is right to do something for herself for a change. One disastrous Zumba class later and Laura ends up at the feet (literally) of gorgeous dance instructor Tony Hernandez.

A natural dancer and inspiring teacher, Tony rekindles in Laura a passion she inherited from her ballroom dancer father – and with it comes a dream… to make him proud.

But when Tony enters them to perform at the National Championship, can Laura’s new-found confidence survive the test? And with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn Flamenco in Spain, could Laura truly learn to dance like nobody’s watching… and love like she’ll never get hurt?

A laugh-out-loud, uplifting comedy about finding the courage to be yourself, the importance of dreams, and learning to grab life by the glitter balls.

When Laura asked if I would like to review a book for her from her NetGalley page, this is the one that immediately caught my eye. From the blurb it appeared to be an easy reading chick-lit and that is exactly what the book delivered.

The story starts with the protagonist Laura trying to comfort her daughter, who's just been jilted at the altar. Laura's left feeling more than a little sorry for herself when her daughter Sophie gives her a few 'home truths', her marriage was supposed to save her from becoming like Laura. She didn't want to end up as a single supermarket cashier who relishes in watching Strictly once she reaches her age. This obviously hurt Laura, even if she does see a little truth in it, and six months later when her daughter goes travelling, she decides to kick start her new life with a Zumba class, a decision which eventually does change her life.

The Zumba class was a complete disaster (I could emphasise with Laura's self consciousness in the class) however she is rescued by the gorgeous Tony Hernandez who is a dance teacher and is keen for Laura to join his class. Her parents were brilliant dancers so she joins in and ends up being just as amazing as they were, which sparks the start of a new life for Laura.

We see a big change in Laura, as the pounds drop off her, her confidence grows and she develops into Lola the dancing queen. I won't spoil the end of the book for you, but one of the key messages for me is that it is never too late to make a change in your life and to try and live your dreams.

The crazy chapter titles made me laugh, as well as other moments in the book however the story is also tinged with sadness as you learn about Laura's parents and why she is so determined to succeed with her dancing.

There were no big shockers in this book, it was just a nice easy read, perfect holiday reading material. Laura is a character that everyone can relate to in one way or another and was a very likeable protagonist. Her friendship with Tony is also one of the great things in this book. The moral of the story is that sometimes you just need that push of motivation, and with that it is possible to achieve your dreams if you get out there and try. It's never too late to do so.

I did enjoy this book and I look forward to giving some of Sue Watson's other books a read in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley, Sue Watson and the team at Bookouture 
for the copy of this book and to Laura for letting me review it on her behalf
I would like to thank Kat for reviewing this for the blog ~ Lx 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

My Sisters Secret by Tracy Buchanan

Everything you’ve built your life on is a lie.

Willow’s memories of her parents are sun-drenched and full of smiles, love and laughter. But a mysterious invitation to a photographic exhibition exposes a secret that’s been buried since a tragic accident years ago.

Willow is forced to question everything she knew about Charity, her late mother, and Hope, the aunt she’s lived with since she was a child.

How was the enigmatic photographer connected to Willow’s parents? Why will Hope not break her silence?

Willow cannot move forward in her life without answers. But who can she really trust? Because no one has been telling the truth for a very long time.

My Sisters Secret was no doubt an absolute joy of a read! 

Right from the prologue I was gripped and fascinated with the story, and although the book only took my two days of reading it felt much longer due to finding myself googling images of Submerged Forests every time a new one was referred to within the story.... 

Just look at this one of Green Lake in Austria, captivating right?

                                                                         Photograph curtesy of Google Images.

Submerged Forests play a huge part in the storyline of My Sister Secret and I adored the amount of detail Tracy Buchanan went in to to describe each of the ones mentioned on Faith's Map, it made me feel as though I was there, putting on my own wetsuit, snorkel and flippers and diving right between the trees. That in its own right is the sign of a great author.

So the book then. 
Well, I can't say a great deal, not because I don't want to - trust me I could go on for a while about the different elements, but because I want to "Keep The Secret" and I think if I give too much away then the secret will slip out. 
That said, it's obvious we know there is a secret from the clear title, but there were lots of twists and turns within the book that kept my mind guessing, and I'm pleased to say I didn't think *THAT* would be revealed!!

The story is based around three sisters, Faith, Hope and Charity, and Charity's daughter Willow and is told from the view of both Charity and Willow.

The chapters told from Willow are in the present day, we know her mother passed away in a cruise ship accident and she was brought up by her aunt, but when clearing out her parents' old house, Willow discovers an invite from Niall Lane, a well known photographer specialising in submerged forests. Willows Aunt gives her a frosty reception about this, forcing Willow to ask more and more questions adding doubt to the life she thought she knew.
Whilst the chapters told from Charity's POV are from the past giving us insight to what happened and when, who Niall Lane is and of course revealing the a secret or two!

My Sisters Secret was a very well plotted story, it allowed us to follow Willow's journey on finding out about her mothers past life, throwing questions and giving answers along the way.
I particularly liked how the past and present was linked by the common submerged forest interest and how it tied most of the characters together. 

Without question I would recomend this book to anyone that enjoys women's fiction that has an element of mystery to it.

I would like to thank Tracy and the teams at HarperCollins / Avon for the copy of My Sister Secret via NetGalley. This is my honest opinion. 

Saturday, 8 August 2015

The Shock Of The Fall by Nathan Filer

The review for The Shock Of The Fall is brought to you by guest reviewer Samantha.

I'll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. 

His name’s Simon. 

I think you’re going to like him. I really do. 

But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.

This book by Nathan Filer is a clever read. 

You are placed in the mind of Matthew who has mental health issues and you learn about how his life has changed since the tragic accident of his brother’s death. You immediately become gripped in this easy but clever read. 

Throughout the book you are left guessing what will happen next and as more and more is revealed about his brother’s death, Matt presents the troubles that he faces with his mental illness. 

This book shows really what it is like to live with this condition but at the same time how it can be dealt with and how people are still able to live an ordinary life.

I would really recommend this book if you are into stories which are similar to things that people face daily. It is a real eye opener to what life can be like for a lot of people. 

A great read and a quick but gripping book. 

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

The review for Ugly Love is brought to you by Guest Reviewer Aggie 

It's not exactly love at first sight for Tate Collins when she meets the tormented and secretive Miles Archer. 
They wouldnt even go so far as to consider themselves friends. 
The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is a mutual physical attraction that can't be denied. 
Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they might have stumbled on the perfect no-strings arrangement. 
He isnt looking for love, and she doesn't have time for it - so that leaves just the sex. What they got could be surprisingly satisfying, as long as Tate can stick to the two rules Miles has for her: never ask about the past; don't expect a future.
They think they can handle it, but everything is different when real emotions start to change the equation.

This will be my first ever book review, so please dont expect perfection. And I will have to try my best to not add any spoilers. 

When Laura asked me to do a review on this book I knew I  had to say yes and give it a try, because if you havent read the book yet then you really really should. 
I read a lot and this has been by far the best book I have read in a long long time, making me wish I had discovered Colleens books much sooner. 

It was recommended to me by a friend who explained that this book will soon be a movie, a movie that will bridge the gab between the first two fifty shades movies. It already has a teaser trailer that suggests just that too. 

But boy was my friend wrong. 

This is nothing like fifty shades. Yet I find myself comparing it to it, sorry about that. So I fully expected a book full of sex scenes that somehow make me cringe here and there and a guy that I can't  decide whether I love or hate or both. 
But instead of off all that I have gotten a book so well written that I have found myself completley falling in love with Miles. And yes Miles himself is incredible, you will love him too. But more then that its the way Colleen makes you feel everything Tate does too. 
was laughing with her, loving with her, hoping with her and crying with her. 

And let me tell you I am not easily broken by a book!

What an amazing talent it is to make a readers heart race just as much as the one of her main characters. 

From the moment they meet, which is in a rather unusual way, I couldnt put it down. And I cant recommend it enough. 
Yes there is some sex but let me be brutally honest here... its the kind that every women dreams off!!! 

While Colleen takes you on a roller coaster ride with Miles and Tate you will also get a glimpse of Miles' past and story. Which in itself is a story that can not be missed. Through the whole book I was wondering why Miles wasnt looking for love or was fighting it. And I imagined many different things. None even came close. And its always amazing when you cant predict a book at all... Absolutely amazing.

I am now ready to read more of Colleens books in the hope that they are magic like this one. 

Friday, 7 August 2015

Pleasure Island by Anna-Lou Weatherley

Secrets. Scandal. Betrayal. In Paradise, pleasure comes at a dangerously high price.

Three couples each receive an exclusive invitation to the fantasy holiday destination of a lifetime.

The Host: Martin McKenzie, a global billionaire and media mogul. Charismatic, powerful and always gets what he wants.

The Location: A breathtakingly beautiful undiscovered island, nestled in the Aegean Sea. Private, secluded and not quite as it seems.

The Details: seven days of pure hedonism, five star luxury tailored to every desire, also included secrets, lies and infidelity.

As the guest begin to enjoy everything the luxury island has to offer, cracks begin to surface between the three couples. But that is not all. Someone is watching them.

When they discover the truth - it will be explosive in more way than they can ever imagine.

*May Contain Spoilers*

Pleasure Island is no doubt the perfect beach read!
I was drawn to this book firstly by its gorgeously inviting cover, but the blurb had me intrigued.

Pleasure Island is based on three couples; Journalist Angelika and her lawyer husband Rupert, Singing Sensation Mia and her toy boy and rock star fling Joshua, and retired footballer Nate and his attention seeking, money grabbing wife Billie-Jo.

Each of the three couples are invited to Pleasure Island by billionaire tycoon Martin, a man known widely in the public eye.

I don't want to give too much away about the book, but each of the six guests are in for a rocky ride, having been invited they are wondering why and want answers when their luxurious holiday doesn't get off to the best start.
With communications down, the couples have no choice but to get on with it, and fairly early on we see cracks and faults in them all.... 
Pleasure Island doesn't seem quite as idyllic as it's made out to be and suspicions...

Anna-Lou Weatherly has written the book brilliantly. There are chapters from the island based on the couples and then there are chapters from Martin and the super eight.... I think the best way to describe   this book is to think Big Brother. Martin and the eight members of his elite club are watching the couples every moves and it was fascinating to read on and find out why they are doing this... Some are for psychology reason, some are purely their to get a kick out of watching people unaware.

Martin however, has his own reasons and as the story unfolds we discover why he picked the couples chosen for Pleasure Island and the consequences it has.

Pleasure Island had everything from lies, drama queen tantrums, scandal, secrets, drug use, to the odd racy scene.
A thoroughly gripping page turner of a read! 

I would like to thank Anna-Lou and the team at Bookouture for the NetGalley copy of Pleasure Island. This is my honest review. 

Monday, 3 August 2015

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

It was always going to end in tears, but how did it end in murder?

Single mum Jane has just moved to town. She's got her little boy in tow - plus the secret she's been carrying for five years.

On the first day of the school run she meets Madeline - a force to be reckoned with, who remembers everything and forgives no one - and Celeste, the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare, but is inexplicably I'll at ease. They both take Jane under their wing - while careful to keep their own secrets under wraps.

But a minor incident involving the children of all three women rapidly escalates; playground whispers become spiteful rumours until no one can tell the truth from the lies.

Which is when the secrets come out - and now someone is going to pay with their life...

"A brilliantly plotted story with characters to care for who kept me reading, utterly gripped" ~ Women & Home.
"Brilliant, stand - out, superbly clever" ~ Sunday Express.

I'm not really sure what drew me to purchasing this book as it's not from my usual genre... That said I don't think I would categorise this into crime and thriller either as its in no way bloody or had me hiding behind a pillow!

Ultimately for me, Big Little Lies is a story of secrets and friendships which focuses on three main characters, Madeline, Jane and Celeste.
Each of the three ladies become friends yet each is hiding a secret and the story starts with the schools trivia night. The details for this are quite vague but from the outset of the book we know there is a murder. We don't know who, why or how exactly.

Once this has been outlined, the books takes us back to 5 months before trivia night and we get to see how the characters met and what the initial incident was, which has caused nothing but grief between the 3 girls, their children and their friends In the playground!

As the book takes us closer to trivia night we can see friendships blooming and others falling out, there are playground arguments between parents and at the end of each chapter there are short bullet point statements from other Parents and teachers which leads us to believe they are statements given to the police after the murder.

Liane Moriarty has written Big Little Lies simply brilliantly. I don't want to give too much away as they book is written with a mystery of element due to us not knowing anything about the murder right up until the end, and I think that is partly what makes the book.
With storylines of bullying and abuse, ex husbands walking out, teenage daughters auctioning their virginity and parents thinking their children are better than the next, the murder suspect and victim could be literally any one of the characters the book mentions.... Who they were though, even caught be my surprise!

This book was such a gripping read, it covered sensitive subjects with care and consideration yet at times had elements of humour, and the descriptions were spot on... I felt like I was part of the book and the journey Jane, Celeste and Madeline shared.

If you've not read Big Little Lies I suggest you go grab a copy now!