Sunday, 28 February 2016

Review + Giveaway | The Choice ~ Nicholas Sparks

       

 I'll hold my hands up and admit I'm a bit late to the Nicholas Sparks fandom - I've only read The Notebook and his latest novel, See Me (read my review here) before and I've barely seen any of the films *shock face entered*
I know its criminal not to have at least seen the movies but, lets be frank here, reading is about a zillion times better than watching, don't you think? I've read books before and absolutely adored them, then watched the film and the love I felt for that book went completely out of the window.

When you read a novel, the characters, the landscape are all written for you, often in great depth and detail but somehow our brains and imagination take right over. For example, within The Choice, Gabby and Travis are referred at one point to leaning on a railing on the deck looking out at their back garden. To me, I imagined Gabby leaning on her elbows with her hands together and fingers entwined, whilst Travis is leaning using his hands for support.
Now if I go and see the movie and this one little bit from the book is different to my mind, then it completely changes my outlook of the book and honestly ruins it for me.

Films are brilliant, don't get me wrong, but everything is decided for you by the producers, directors and actors - I've seen the trailer for The Choice too and both characters are not how I picture them in my head, and this again would just ruin what is a good book.

With this view in mind, when I had the email asking if I would like to participate in a new 'Read It Before You See It' campaign for Nicholas Sparks' newest film, The Choice,  I jumped at the chance.

BUY

How far would you go to keep the hope of love alive?

Travis Parker has it all; a good job, loyal friends, and his dream home in North Carolina. The last thing he is looking for is a serious relationship. That is, until Gabby Holland moves next door.

Despite Travis' attempts to be friendly, his alluring neighbour simply will not warm to him. But Travis feels compelled to get closer to her, leading them both down a road where they will face tough decisions, shocking revelations and devastating consequences.

Now a major motion picture, The Choice starring Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer, is an unforgettable - and heart-wrenching - love story from Nicholas Sparks, the multi-million-copy best selling author of The Notebook and Dear John.


The Choice was a fairly short book in comparison to Nicholas' latest release and clearly was one of his earlier masterpieces, as although I found this easy to read and get into, it didn't leave me as emotionally touched as I was with See Me.

There are four main parts to this novel -

The prologue set in February 2007 introduces us to Travis Parker visiting his wife in hospital. We don't know much about what happened but we do know that Travis is living with memories, love and regret as the last he and his wife spoke, they had argued.

Part one of the book takes us back to May 1996, and over the next few chapters we get to know Travis and his neighbour, Gabby Holland, and how they met and fell in love. Their early encounters were at times comical - the first words Gabby spoke to Travis were accusations of his dog getting her's pregnant, and we were instantly led to believe that she was a strong, independent and feisty woman. Travis suggests taking the dog to the vet but fails to mention he is the vet - slightly awkward but its the start of a loving relationship.
As puppies are born, Travis and Gabby get closer. Over a weekend of fun and flirting they fall in love with each other in the clever, romantic, whirlwind way that Nicholas Sparks is a master at writing and the first choice comes from Gabby as she already has a boyfriend.

Part two of the book takes us back to February 2007 and to the hospital with Travis visiting his wife. I found this part of the book slightly slower to read, particularly the first few chapters as we didn't really know what had happened to his wife or what the situation was, but once we learnt that Gabby was in a coma after a horrific car crash all became clear and reading speed again picked up.
This is also where Travis has to make the choice of his life. I wont go into it too much and spoil the complete plot, but my gosh it certainly makes you think about life and what you would do in this situation.
The last few chapters were tense and I was completely torn with the way the story would take us but certainly showed the power of true love.

The last part of the book is of course the epilogue set in June 2007. It started with a fast forward of where Travis was from the choice he had made but threw back to a memorable day since. I love a good epilogue, especially one that wraps the story up well and this didn't disappoint.

What I loved about The Choice was that although it was written in the third person, we were predominately told Travis' story. It was very descriptive and due to the way it was laid out, it kept my guessing at times on what was going to happen.

One of the lovely things about this book is the lack of characters. In the very early chapters we meet some of Travis' friends and sister but they are there more as reference than characters, as are Gabby's parents, which kept this very much as Travis and Gabby and their love story as the focus.

Although this book didn't quite move me in the way the last book from this author did, it was still an incredibly powerful, insightful and enjoyable book to read.

I urge you to read this before heading to watch the film, and to help out, with thanks to the lovely people at Little, Brown UK, I have been given a copy, SIGNED BY NICHOLAS HIMSELF, to give away to one of my lucky readers - just enter the give-away below!

I would also like to thank Stephanie at The Little Book Cafe for providing me with a review copy of the novel and for the giveaway.



Giveaway 

One signed copy of The Choice by Nicholas Sparks.
Ends 3rd March 2016
Winner picked at random via Rafflecopter and notified via email on Friday 4th March 2016
Open to UK and Ireland Only


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Review | Wickham Hall ~ Cathy Bramley

BUY

Holly Swift has just landed the job of her dreams: events co-ordinator at Wickham Hall, a beautiful manor house sitting proudly in the heart in the village where she grew up.

The new job puts some much needed space between Holly and her problems at home, and she loves the busy world of Wickham Hall, from family weddings to summer festivals, firework displays to Christmas grottos.

But life isn't as easily organised as an event at Wickham Hall (and even those have a few complications...).
Can Holly learn to just let go and live in the moment?

After all, that's when the magic happens...

Wickham Hall is the first novel I have read by Cathy Bramley and it certainly wont be my last!
Originally published as a four - part serial ebook, Wickham Hall is a novel about hopes and dreams and finding love.. of course with a few bumps along the way, and is set over four seasons.

The first part is titled Hidden Treasures and introduces us to Holly Swift. Holly has just got a job at Wickham Hall in the events department and is over the moon. Immediately she is thrown in to the deep end when her boss is off sick on Holly's first day, but she gets stuck straight into her role and we learn what type of character she is - organised, prompt, hard working and dedicated.
Over the course of this first section, Holly over comes various obstacles whilst planning the Wickham Hall calendar, finalising details for the summer festival and ensuring a smooth running of the wedding belonging to Zara, Daughter of Lord and Lady Fortescue who own Wickham Hall.

Holly quickly becomes an asset to the company and when her boss leaves for good she is faced with a temporary one in the form of Benedict Fortescue. Ben is a bit of a free spirit much to his parents dismay as he loves his art and the last thing he wants to do is settle down and learn the ropes of Wickham Hall ready to take over the reign.

Over the next two parts of the book, Summer Secrets and Sparks Fly, Holly and Ben grow close and as their feelings grow for each other, Holly worries that they are culturally worlds apart. When Ben disappears twice, Holly throws herself into the upcoming events, and it isn't until the last section of the novel, White Christmas, that the pair finally admit their feelings for each other.

Although Wickham Hall is a classic RomCom book with a beautiful love story as the main theme, there are a lot of sub story lines too - Holly's mum being a hoarder and secretive about the Father Holly knows nothing about, Esme (Holly's best friend) and her money troubles with her own Mothers clothes shop, and Ben and his parents pushing him for take over to name a few. Often you find that books can get confusing with many sub storylines, however, Cathy Bramely's writing style meant that the book flowed wonderfully and it was effortless to read - I was brought straight into Holly's world within the first few pages and I didn't leave until the very end.

Every event, location and time of year in Wickham Hall was described in great detail with some humorous scenes all linked up with a happy ending - my kind of book!


I would like to thank Sarah Harwood from Transworld Books / Penguin Random House for supplying a review copy of Wickham Hall in return for my honest opinion. 



Monday, 22 February 2016

Review | Dirty Dix (A Hard Love Romance Book 1) ~ Monica James

BUY

Tell me your deepest, darkest secrets. I dare you.
Addiction comes down to one simple, primitive concept. Desire. 

My name is Dr. Dixon Matthews, and I'm New York’s finest shrink. For $500 an hour, people tell me their darkest, most sinful secrets. 
My own addiction? Sex. 
I might be certified in solving other people’s problems, but not mine – I know I'm a lost cause. I don’t do relationships. I don’t even do the same woman twice. 
But that’s all about to change, thanks to two entirely different women who awaken my deepest desires. 

Who will I choose? 

I know who I should choose, but I never said I was the hero of this story, or even the good guy. And besides, who wants to be good, when it feels so good being bad
My tale isn't for the faint-hearted. If you’re game, strap yourself in and expect the unexpected. But don’t say I didn't warn you… 



Achingly sexy and highly addictive, the first in the Sinful Pleasures Series will have you hooked. Driven to Sin coming very soon…

Addicted To Sin has me thinking so many things, I really don't know where to start with this review!

I'm not even sure why I had this on my kindle as it isn't my usual genre of book, but having read a few samey samey chick-lits, I needed something different (and I don't do horror well!), so this caught my eye and oh my... this book...

Right from the first page I was utterly gripped. I loved that this book was primarily from Dixon's point of view with just one or two chapters from Madeline.

Dixon is a psychiatrist, specialising in helping people with addictions, he also has his own addiction in sex. He was once in love with Lily but she's now with one of his best friends and since then, Dixon has no interest in relationships.

Juliet arrives at Dixon's office for help with her own sex addiction but it quickly becomes obvious there is some attraction between the pair, but, during a night out Dixon meets Madison when he comes to her rescue and there is something between them too but its much deeper than with Juliet.

Both girls have dark backgrounds and whilst Juliet is happy to sleep her way through her troubles, Madison is a closed book, which intrigues Dixon even more.

Soon enough, Dixon can't get Madison out of his head but events put obstacles in their way and he ends up in a sex driven relationship with Juliet.

I feel like I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Dixon. He was an utter git at times, referred to as a man whore in the book but after eventually deciding that he wanted to be with Madison, he thinks with his brain and not his man-hood and ditches Juliet, and comes up trumps when Madison needs him the most.

However... not is all as it seems. Madison has a dislike to her step-sister, whom we know as Beth and when Dixon meets her his life becomes complicated once again as her real name isnt Beth and its a face he is familiar with, then as she starts to blackmails him, he is again left with having to choose between the two girls...

Addicted To Sin was a fast paced book - yes there was a lot of sex and graphic details but the base line story was gripping and I found myself not being able to put the book down wanting to know what Dixon does next. There were humorous conversations between Dixon and his mates and the chapters from
Madison's point of view broke the drama up a little.

If you can get past sexual paragraphs and some crude language then I urge to to read Addicted To Sin.. the ending though. Oh Gosh... leaving it open like that has completely got my brain working on how the story will pan out... Book 2, Driven To Sin cannot come quick enough!!






Friday, 19 February 2016

Review | The Years Of Loving You ~ Ella Harper

BUY

What if your first love was your only love?

When Molly is diagnosed with a life changing illness, it feels like her whole world has come crashing down. She hopes the news will make her marriage to Sam stronger. But why does Molly always call Ed in a crisis?

Ed. The very same Ed that Molly fell in love with at a party when they were teenagers, underneath a star filled sky. Then life took them in different directions.

Molly starts to question every decision she's ever made.
What if they could turn back the clock?
When the only certainty they shared was each other....

I've been so eager to read The Years Of Loving You ever since I first clapped my eyes on it - I mean, just look at how beautiful the cover is!

I'm a huge fan of Ella Harper's work, some of you may know her under the name of Sasha Wagstaff and whilst I've not read any of those novels, Ella's début book under this name completely drew me in back last year - you can read my review of Pieces of You here.

The Years of Loving You tells the story of Molly and Ed, whom one night, years ago, met and fell in love after spending a night under the stars, talking, sharing poetry and their dreams of Molly becoming a painter - Ed a novelist, locking lips and finishing each other's sentences - pure romance at its best. There was an instant attraction between the pair but for one reason or another they just couldn't admit their feelings to each other.

Life just got in the way as it does. Ed has a secret and although he trust Molly with his life, its just too painful to share and when that secret comes to a painful end, Ed is at a loss and decides to take the advice of his friend, Boyd, and do some travelling - that's not before writing all his locked in feelings for Molly down into a heartfelt letter and arranging for Molly to join him a few weeks later. She never did and it was never discussed.

During Ed's months away, Molly never heard from him and pushed herself to move her life forward by marrying Sam, and Ed presumed that Molly didn't feel the same way as he did for her and flitted from one fling to another looking for that missing thing he had with Molly.

Over time and as the years passed by, the pair kept their love for each other hidden - yet something pulled them together every time something major in their loves happened, so when Molly gets her diagnosis it's Ed, not Sam she really turns to.

The Years of Loving You was a truly beautiful story about two friends, near lovers and miss-timings, showing just what can happen when you let the one you love get away.
 Ella Harper told their story wonderfully with chapters of 'Now' where Molly and Ed deal with her illness, and chapters of 'Molly and Ed' 'Molly' and 'Ed' which reflect back to when they met and poignant times in their individual paths but when they needed each other.

I loved Molly and Ed's characters - they were very real and their lives seemed very normal as if it was a couple that lived in your area and ones that faced real problems.

The Years of Loving You was a heart warming book of life long friendship yet had a sadness to it as both characters clearly wanted to be with each other - the way the book has been left has got me wondering what has happened to them now - I'd love to see a small novella of Molly and Ed - a few years later.


I would like to thank Avon for an ARC of this books. 
This is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Promo Post | Between Friends ~ Jenny Harper


The Between Friends blog tour is under way with Brook Cottage Books and today on my stop I've a post telling you all about the book!


Lets start with the cover -


And now the blurb -

They thought he belonged safely in the past. His return threatens everything. 
Marta, Carrie and Jane have been friends since they were at school in Edinburgh. Now one is bringing up her family, another is desperately trying for children of her own, and the third is focused on her career – and each takes the support of the others as a given.
But when generous Marta offers out-of-luck actor Tom temporary shelter, her act of kindness sets in motion a tsunami of destruction. Marta’s marriage comes under threat. Timid Jane is haunted by the secret she has been hiding since she last saw Tom. And ambitious Carrie finds herself at the mercy of a man who can ruin her career.
Only by pulling together can the friends rid themselves of this menace. 
                                         But is Tom too clever at sowing mistrust?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Here's the publishing and buy info -

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Release Date: 11 February 2016
Publisher:  Accent Press



About the Author -


Jenny Harper lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, though she was born in India and grew up in England. She has been a non-fiction editor, a journalist and a businesswoman and has written a children’s novel and several books about Scotland, as well as four full length novels and a novella in The Heartlands series (set in Hailesbank), and two short stories that have appeared in anthologies. Between Friends is her fifth full length novel.
Jenny writes contemporary women’s fiction with bite – complex characters facing serious issues.
What they say:
‘An engaging and delightful read. Jenny Harper is a most gifted storyteller.’  Alexander McCall Smith
‘Page turning and thoroughly entertaining. I loved it!’ Katie Fforde
‘The most beautiful love story that I have read in a long while. Amazon review of People We Love
‘This was a fun, heart-warming but also emotional story that had me thinking about the characters long after I’d finished it.’ Amazon review of Maximum Exposure
‘Ms. Harper has created a fully populated, very human and recognizable world.’ Amazon review of Face the Wind and Fly
‘There is everything I like about a novel in her writing: family, relationships, current affairs ... things the author seems well versed in. I loved the Scottish settings, and could visualise many of the locations in the book ...’ Amazon review of Loving Susie

Webpage            http://jennyharperauthor.co.uk/
Twitter                https://twitter.com/harper_jenny
Facebook            https://www.facebook.com/authorjennyharper
Google +              https://plus.google.com/+JennyHarperauthor/posts
Riffle                     https://read.rifflebooks.com/profiles/151045


Monday, 15 February 2016

Cover Reveal | Mean Sisters by Lindsay Emory

Another cover reveal you say? 

That's right, tonight I have the second reveal to help with the Avon team and I just adore the sound of this book!!


MEAN SISTERS
Lindsey Emory
17th March 2016

A sassy, hilariously funny murder mystery where the closest bonds of friendship might just kill you…!

Margot Blythe is a twenty-something year old who can’t seem to let her college glory days go. After all, everyone deserves a family of ‘sisters’ like she had. When she’s invited to speak at her alma mater, her homecoming reception isn’t exactly what she expected. Tragedy strikes and Margot has to step up, especially when foul play is suspected.

She’s going to save her fifty frazzled ‘sisters’, keep the suspicious (but dangerously cute) police officer at bay and find out the truth – could a sister have committed such an unimaginable sin as murder?

Margot is going to learn the real bond of sisterhood and maybe, just maybe, discover where she truly belongs.


Review | Another Love ~ Amanda Prowse

Buy now - Kindle
Pre -Order Paperback / Hardcopy


In the early days she was happy.

Romilly had worked hard for her stunning, modern house in one of Bristol's most fashionable suburbs. She adored her gorgeous, gap-toothed daughter and her kind, handsome husband. Sure, life was sometimes exhausting- but nothing that a large glass of wine at the end of the day couldn't fix.

But then, as deep-buried insecurities surfaced, everything started to unravel. A glass of wine became a bottle, one bottle became two. Once, Romilly's family were everything to her. Now, after years of hiding the drinking, she must finally admit that she has found another love...

Amanda Prowse is an author whom has been on my radar for a while now, she comes highly recommended by my Mum and if your on Twitter then the love for her and her books is second to none - yet with all of this praise and owing a couple of her books, she is an author I've just not got around to reading.

And, now that I have just finished her latest novel, Another Love, I'm kicking myself and asking the question, why? I certainly don't plan on leaving it long before I read another of hers, that's for sure!

I wasn't sure what to expect as I started the opening pages of Another Love, there's always that little bit of apprehension starting a new author when everyone raves about them... What if I can't take to the story? They writing style? Will it move me like it seems to move everyone else?

Well in short I think we can safely say that I did take to both the story and writing style  - by the end of page three I was hooked... Completely sucked in the way a child slurps through a straw and placed within the world of the characters.
I was beginning to wonder if I would be moved like others have as the book moved on, the pages turned effortlessly and the story flowed brilliantly, and then... Right when I thought "such a beautiful story" the last chapter and epilogue came, and with it the emotion and tears I think I'd held in whilst so deep in reading this utterly moving novel.

The prologue started with a letter from Romilly whom is the main character, to her daughter Celeste, and really sets you up with a little knowledge about the book and Romilly as a person. Celeste then starts the story off, after panicking a little about getting married and her future, she explains that her therapist has suggested she writes things down, and so, in between each chapter of the book there is a diary/memory like entry from Celeste, giving us her views, thoughts and feelings on her life, and Romilly, before chapter one takes us back to Romilly and David's days of preparing for their wedding. Over the course of the next few chapters, we are told a gorgeous story about a shy, clever girl who worked really hard for her degree falling in love with a man she thought was way out of her league. We are also introduced to early experiences with alcohol - a glass to help her relax before meeting his friends or his mother for example.
Then, as the book goes on, various things happen and Romilly becomes more and more dependent on the drink, until the final straw comes when her marriage to David finally breaks and Romilly is left with nothing.

I orignailly thought that as we started the boom right at the beginning of Romilly's adulthood the story would be drawn out, but Amanda has such an amazing way of writing and linking the memories up that the pace moved quite quickly and before we knew it, Romilly was trying to turn her life around because SHE wanted too. However I was left wondering if her character had left it too late to re- connect with her husband and daughter, but the out come for me was heartwarming and quite simply lovely.

Amanda has given me great insight to Alcoholism with Another Love, I really felt for Romilly at times and it was a great reminder that it is an illness. I loved how we saw some of the memories from Celeste's point of view as well as Romilly's where she explained why she was in that situation too.

I love a book that has elements where I'm smiling and laughing which this did with some of the memories of Romilly's good days, equally I love books where I gasp and my heart wants to reach out to characters like I know them from down the road, and this book had that too with some really deep and almost disturbing images from her days when she was quite literally in the gutter.

Another Love is a story of two halves in all manner of ways - the good versus the bad, the fun before the falls, the hope prior to the failure, the mothers story and the daughters. 
From the opening line to the final, emotional, moving words, Another Love had everything you would want from an extremely great book which is why 5 flowers isn't near enough!! 



I would like to thank Amanda, Simeon and the Team at Head of Zeus Publishing for providing  an advanced proof copy of Another Love.
This is my honest opinion.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Cover Reveal | The Girl Who Walked In Shadows ~ Marnie Riches

It's a packed weekend on Lozza's Book Corner with blog tours the past two days however today I'm delighted to bring you the first of TWO cover reveals for the lovely Avon team! The first is below and the second will be tomorrow, so without further ado...


THE GIRL WHO WALKED IN SHADOWS
Marnie Riches
31st March 2016

Europe is in the grip of an extreme Arctic blast and at the mercy of a killer, who leaves no trace. His weapons of choice are razor-sharp icicles. This is Jack Frost.

Now a fully qualified criminologist, Georgina McKenzie is called upon by the Dutch police to profile this cunning and brutal murderer. Are they looking for a hit man or a frenzied serial-killer? Could there be a link to a cold missing persons’ case that George had worked with Chief Inspector Paul van den Bergen – two abducted toddlers he could never quite give up on?

The hunt for Jack Frost sparks a dangerous, heart-rending journey through the toughest neighbourhoods in Europe, where refugees and Romani gypsies scratch a living on the edge of society. Walking into the dark, violent world of a trans-national trafficking ring, can George outrun death to shed light on two terrible mysteries?

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Review | Time To Say Goodbye ~ S.D. Robertson

Today the #TimeToSayGoodbye blog tour stops at my Book Corner and I'm delighted to share with you my review of this emotional yet amazing book!

BUY

A heart-rending story about the unique bond between a father and his daughter, for fans of JOJO MOYES and JOHN GREEN.

HOW DO YOU LEAVE THE PERSON YOU LOVE THE MOST?

Will Curtis's six-year-old daughter, Ella, knows her father will never leave her. After all, he promised her so when her mother died. And 
he's going to do everything he can to keep his word.

What Will doesn't know is that the promise he made to his little girl might be harder to keep than he imagined. When he's faced with an impossible decision, Will finds that 
the most obvious choice might not be the right one.

But the future is full of unexpected surprises. And father and daughter are about to embark on an unforgettable journey together . . .



Time To Say Goodbye comes with an emotional warning and has been dubbed as one to read for fans of Jojo Moyes and John Green. And, yes, whilst I admit to shedding more than a few tears during this book (I'm an emotional and sensitive soul at the best of times) I don't think it will have such a long lasting effect on me as Me Before You did.

The reason for that is primarily due to the nature of the book. Now, don't get me wrong, Time To Say Goodbye was a bloody good, imaginative début novel but for me, the story just lacked a little something that I'm unable to put my finger on - although it's most likely the Romanic love story element I have a guilty pleasure for that's missing! -to give it that major book hangover I had with MYB.

I was first drawn to the book by its gorgeous cover when Avon posted a photo on their Twitter feed, and from their tweets I knew that it was a story about knowing when the right time to say goodbye was... I wasn't expecting this though!

The story starts with Will watching paramedics trying to save his life at the roadside where he has just been subject to a fatal accident. Realising the time he, the spirit he, rushes to his six year old daughter, Ella, school, to find her standing alone waiting for him. The one thing he promised Ella was that he'd never leave her...
Over the next few chapters we witness life through Will's eyes as his mum and dad inform his child she's been orphaned and as funeral arrangements are made and carried out - the first few chapters literally had me sobbing and for a while I wondered if I would actually finish the book.

Bear with it, the middle isn't quite as teary as a lot of things happen. Will is introduced to his "guide" and informed of two choices... To pass over to 'the other side' or remain close to Ella. It is the latter he is swaying with despite his guides warnings that it really isn't for her best interests. Determined to make contact with Ella he manages to tap into her dream and then eventually she can see and hear him but it's quite clear that she becomes dependant on her time with her dad, making Will's decision harder and harder.

Sub story lines were a plenty within this book too which kept it interesting and me wanting to read on, a secret mobile phone belonging to Will's father, only found when he was admitted to hospital, a mysterious black car stalking out Will's parents home, not forgetting his feisty sister with a very colourful past.

Throughout the book there were real moving, heart wrenching paragraphs but there were also parts which were light hearted giving a great balance. As the story went on, I was left in the dark on Will's final choice right up to the end of the book and even then I didn't see that one coming!

Books based on spirits and 'the other side' aren't usually my thing but Time To Say Goodbye was written in a way that I think even most sceptics with enjoy. It wasn't too focused on ghosts and hauntings... It was purely a heartbreaking story of a father not wishing to leave his daughters side and it was refreshing to read a book with a male lead.

Well worth a read! 



An English graduate from the University of Manchester, he’s also worked as a holiday rep, door-to-door salesman, train cleaner, kitchen porter and mobile phone network engineer.

Over the years Stuart has spent time in France, Holland and Australia, but home these days is back in the UK. He lives in a village near Manchester with his wife and daughter. There’s also his cat, Bernard, who likes to distract him from writing – usually by breaking things.



Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Review | Deadly Obsession ~ Nigel May

Published 19th Feb 2016

Sex, money and obsessive love – welcome to the marriage of millionaires Amy and Riley

Amy Barrowman grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. So when she marries millionaire Riley Hart, she can’t believe her luck. Not only does she have wealth and security for life, she has found true love. Or so she thinks… 

Riley Hart is a Millionaire Man about Town. Men want to be him and women want to bed him. But to achieve Riley’s status, you have to tread on a lot of toes and make a lot of enemies. 

When Riley is gunned down at the nightclub they own, Amy is determined to avenge his death. She receives a mysterious letter detailing a list of suspects including Riley’s sworn enemy, actor Grant Wilson. But with an obsessive passion brewing between her and Grant and a dangerous assassin trailing her every move it would seem Amy has opened a deadly and tempting Pandora’s Box. As Amy gives into temptation, the scene is set for a stunning climax. 

Lose yourself where you don’t belong in the world of DEADLY OBSESSION.


Nigel May is one of the authors I discovered when I first started blogging last year, when I had the chance to read his glamorous and seductive novel, Scandelous Lies, which you can read my review of here - dubbed as a bonkbuster writer that lives up to the likes of the late, great Jackie Collins, I was eagerly awaiting his latest work of art - an boy, let me tell you, Deadly Obsession did not disappoint!

Deadly Obsession wasn't as sexed up as Nigel's previous book, it was darker, meaner, grittier and an utter page turner!

It started with the main female character Amy, opening a letter from her husband Riley - slight catch, Riley was dead! Immediately as a reader your mind started whirling and if this was real life could you just imagine what Amy was feeling? Husband - dead. Burried six months ago. Letter dated two days ago? How?

How indeed? Nigel May took me on a complete page turning journey with this one. The book was a mixture of chapters from now and chapters from then - then being at The Kitty Kat Club which is where the fateful night took place and then to memories of prior to the event too.

Amy, now living in London, embarks on a journey back to her Mancunian routes to find out how and why Riley survived. As she does this, she discovers that her beloved Husband was not all he seemed and she has to question if she really knew him at all. Visiting old faces, Amy is told of many secrets, lies and murders which Nigel is perfect at writing - as well as the odd sex scene.

As Amy ticks off all the suspects one by one trying to find out who not only killed Riley but also her best friend Laura, I felt many of the emotions as a reader that she had as a character - shock, anger, sadness.... Deadly Obsessions literally had it all!

One of the things I loved last year with Scandalous Lies was the twists and turns of the plot. Deadly Obsession had more of these than I could expect - as I was thinking one thing, the complete opposite happened - particularly the ending... poor Amy - how many bombshells can one girl take?!

I loved several of the characters within this book and there was a real mixture too - Lily was feisty and had a matter of fact attitude, Grant thought he was gods gift with his good looks and acting skills whilst Dolly was fun and flirty!
An of course there was Amy - little innocent Amy. I felt for her at times but then as the shocks came with every secret and lie discovered, I wanted to scream at my kindle that she was being naive and needed to grow up, but ultimately I just wanted her to find some closer after all she had been through, and the epilogue that Nigel wrote, was one that I found myself smiling at.

If your looking for a book that will keep you on your toes but has all the added bonus of being a glitz and glam bonkbuster, then I can't recommend Deadly Obsessions enough. Nigel May is definitely one I'm keeping my eye on for future releases!



Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Review | A Home In Sunset Bay ~ Rebecca Pugh

BUY

There’s no place like home… Enough is enough! The always perfect Laurie Chapman had jumped in her car and raced as fast as she could from London heading to Sunset Bay and (she hopes!) the open arms of her estranged sister…

Mia Chapman loves running Dolly’s Diner in the picture-perfect coastal Cornish town of Sunset Bay. Now that her and Grandma Dolly’s dream is finally a reality Mia has never been prouder! Until Laurie suddenly turns up on her doorstep… How can she forgive the sister who walked away?
Once upon a time Mia and Laurie were best friends. Back together after so long, the time has come for the sisters to figure out what went so wrong all those years ago – and whether they can ever put it right!

I first discovered Rebecca Pugh when I started blogging back last year, at that time she had just released her first novel, Return To Bluebell Hill, and although I have yet to get around to reading that (sorry Becca!) I was eager to read her second book, A Home In Sunset Bay. 
Since 'meeting' Rebecca on twitter I have been following her blog, Becca's Books, and absolutely love her writing style - she's incredibly descriptive and has a wonderful and glorious way of making what you read feel magical - I'm sure if she could virtually sprinkle her words with Disney fairy dust, she would!
A Home In Sunset Bay was everything I expected from a book from Rebecca, her attention to detail in locations and character traits are second to none, making me feel like I was on the beach, friends with Mia and Laurie or sat in one of the booth's in Dolly's Diner - one of the main attractions of the story.
A Home In Sunset Bay is written in the third person and has a very easy flow to it - in fact, bar the last 15 minutes of the book, I devoured the story in one sitting and I'm positive I would have completely if it wasn't for going away for a couple of days. Mia and Laurie are sisters and were the absolute best of friends, within each chapter both were featured but I felt Rebecca concentrated on one sister more which really gave us an understanding of them.
Mia runs Dolly's Diner and has done since their grandmother, Dolly, passed away. She loves doing what she does and tells herself she's happy, but a certain chap named Cal would make her happier. Unfortunately he is with someone and Mia just accepts that. Meanwhile, Laurie is miserable and unhappy since the death of her friend and this is double when she catches her so called boyfriend with another woman - the git! Deciding she needs to get away, Laurie heads to Sunset Bay but doesn't receive the most of friendliest welcomes from her sister.
It's clear that something has happened between the two girls and when it was revealed, I felt a little flat. I could understand why they wouldn't be talking to each other and think Rebecca came up with a great scenario that I'm sure happens with families every day, but for me personally I wanted a few more fireworks or something a little more juicer!
But.. that is just my opinion and I don't think it took anything away from the book. It was nice to see them over come the issue they had and start to built bridges with the help of some special people!
Over all, A Home In Sunset Bay was a fabulous story about love, friendship, understanding and forgiveness. The settings were beautiful and the characters likeable and realistic.
For someone in their early 20's to be writing great books now, I can only foresee Rebecca growing and growing as an established author and I can't wait to see her develop and progress further on her journey.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Review | The Things We Keep ~ Sally Hepworth


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Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there's just one another resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.
When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna's and Luke's families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.


I spotted The Things We Keep on NetGalley a fair while ago, the cover caught my eye but the blurb intrigued when I read the word Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's is still very much a taboo subject, it's a little like cancer was 15/20 years ago when it was just referred as the "big C", and being Dementia and Alzheimer's trained, working with sufferers of this cruel disease day in and day out, I'm thrilled that there are now novels available, spreading the message and making more and more people aware and have a better understanding.

Starting The Things We Keep, I was a little apprehensive on how it was going to pan out but it's clear to me that Sally Hepworth had done her research. 

The story is told from the perspectives of the three main characters, and has a slight sliding door aspect to it....
Anna is only thirty eight and has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and starts the book off fifteen months ago when she and her twin brother, Jack, are settling Anna into Rosalind House - a residential assisted living home which they carefully selected due to there being another resident with Dementia, Luke, already living there. Before Anna's illness she was a real fiesty and quick tongued character and at times her witty one liners shone through which kept the book light hearted on what is a deep subject.

Eve comes to Rosalind House after the death of her husband and her part of the story is told in the present day, as are the odd few chapters told from her seven year old daughter, Clementine.
Eve's and Clem clearly bring sunshine to the residents - Eve with her fabulous cooking and kind caring nature, one that she shares equally with her bright and bubbly daughter who is happy to dance and cartwheel around entertaining everyone.
Eve and Clem have their own story within this book, I won't give all the details now and spoil for you, but they have had a hard few months prior to now but Rosalind House gives them a chance to move on and look forward to a different future to the one planned.

What is clear from Eve's perspective though, is her soft spot for Anna. On their first meeting Anna asked for help and Eve vowed to do just that, although at the time it was dismissed and unclear why help was needed. 
Eve is a really observant character, which from my own job role I know is important with Dementia patients, and one thing she's noticed is the bond between Anna and Luke. She is unable to understand why they have to be kept separated and have their rooms locked each night, yet after finding a letter Anna wrote to herself, Eve breaks all the rules and unlocks their rooms so that the pair can spend time together once everyone else has retired for the night.

The chapters with Anna really keep the book going, and for me were written just brilliantly. Each one took us back, 14 months ago 12,10,9... etc and gave us the clues as to why her and Luke had been separated. Not only that, they were written giving a real insight to the mind of someone suffering memory issues - using words such as "the laying down thing" for bed, or the "tight things on legs" for trousers, really gave the reader a sense of how simple words can be forgotten.

Anna's chapters of the past months also told us how her and Luke's relationship formed and how someone could feel having decisions made for them when inside they really wanted to just scream that they understood that bit but just couldn't find the words - I guess one way to describe Anna's parts were that it was being told from the working part of her brain and not her, and there was one part in the book - quite a big part of the story so I won't give any details - but Anna's "brain" told us one thing but to her brother, other residents and the staff it looked completely different.

What I thought was really lovely of the story was the ending. Whilst reading I had no idea how the end was going to be - I know that complications from Dementia and Alzheimer's will eventually lead to loss of life and I honestly thought that's how the book was going, but I was pleasantly surprised that it stopped with a memory from Anna of her first meeting with Eve - it sort of brought the book around full circle and ended on a more happier note.

Although, as I've mentioned, this book pulled me in due to my interest in the condition, Sally Hepworth didn't over complicate things and used what I thought was a really good and understanding analogy to explain how Alzheimer's worked with would give the reader a clear insight - I was utterly gripped from the first paragraph!! 

The Things We Keep was a story of love, loss, friendship, understanding and moving forward. Apart from the evil manager of the home who was written to be like that, I loved all the characters and their relationships - especially the ones between Anna, Luke, Eve and Clem.

I challenge anyone to not read this book without gasping at times, not only was there a few unexpected turns in the story, there was eye watering moments (Clem talking to her deceased Father is all I'll say!) and some humbling moments that proves love lasts whatever age or condition your faced with - when you meet the right person it just works as with Anna and Luke.

Upon finishing what ultimately is a really lovely and unique of love and friendship, it will certainly make you take a breath and look at life in a different perspective and how one persons brain tells a different story to other people's words.


I would like to thank the publishers, St Martins Press, for a review copy of
The Things We Keep
supplied via Net Galley. This is my honest opinion.