Thursday, 20 April 2017

Review of The A-Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson - Five**


Blurb:

P is for Paris where it all began. J is for Jealousy where it all came undone. But the most important letter is F. F is for Forgiveness, the hardest of all.
Sisters Poppy and Rose used to be as close as two sisters could be, but it’s been over a decade since they last spoke. Until they both receive a call that tells them their mother has gone – without ever having the chance to see her daughters reunited.
Andrea, though, wasn’t the kind of woman to let a little thing like death stand in the way of her plans. Knowing her daughters better than they know themselves, she has left behind one very special last gift – the A-Z of Everything.






Review:
This is the most wonderful book. So emotional and affirming. As many of you know, I am a great fan of Rowan Coleman, and Debbie has similarly dug deep into the psyches of her characters, particularly Rose and Poppy, to bring us a glorious book about families and forgiveness. 
The letters/videos/tapes from Andrea are so powerful, I cried buckets. Actually I cried buckets all the way through - but they were good tears. Tissues are definitely needed for this one!
I've always enjoyed Debbie's books, but this one is on a whole new level. It must have been torture to write and I'm definitely giving her a standing ovation! 
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

COVER REVEAL!!!

Here is the wonderful cover for the new book by Margaret James from Choc Lit 

Girl in Red Velvet - Release Date 25th April








Will loving two men tear your heart apart?

It’s the 1960s and Lily Denham is about to begin her studies at Oxford University.

On her first day she meets Harry Gale and Max Farley, two fellow undergraduates who are both full of mischievous charm. The three of them become firm great friends and enjoy exploring everything Oxford has to offer, from riotous parties to punting up the river on sunny afternoons.

However, something threatens to disrupt the fun, because Lily soon realises she’s falling for both of her new-found friends, men who might offer her two very different futures  – but who will she pick? Harry is generous and kind, reliable and trustworthy. Max embodies the spirit of the sixties; adventurous and rebellious, but possibly a little bit dangerous as well.

As university ends and Lily struggles to make her mark on the vibrant fashion scene, she must make a decision. But she soon becomes aware that the wrong decision could have devastating consequences for her own future and for Max’s and Harry’s futures, too … 


Girl in Red Velvet is book 6 in the Charton Minster Series (The Silver Locket, The Golden Chain, The Penny Bangle, The Wedding Diary & Magic Sometimes Happens)

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Out today!!! An amazing story by Lynda Stacey called "Tell Me No Secrets" from Choc Lit
                                        
                                           Five **


Blurb


Can a secret be worse than a lie?
Every time Kate Duggan looks in a mirror she is confronted by her guilt; a long, red scar reminding her that she was ‘the one to walk away’ from the car accident. Not everyone was so lucky …
On the surface her fiancĂ© Rob is supportive – but the reality is different. He’s controlling, manipulative and, if the phone call Kate overhears is anything to go by, he has a secret. But just how dangerous is that secret?
When Kate begins work at a firm of private investigators, she meets Ben Parker. His strong and silent persona is intriguing but it’s also a cover – because something devastating happened to Ben, something he can’t get over.
As Kate and Ben begin their first assignment, they become close. But, what they don’t realise is how close to home the investigation will bring them, or who will be hurt in the process …





Review

Where do I start? It's got everything! Romance, suspense, dealing with the past, humour......you name it, it's in there!
The characters are all well developed, especially Kate & Ben, and I love the hints of mystery that appear every so often. It kept me reading well into the night (you must stop doing this to me Choc Lit!)  Scars take many different forms, physical and mental and this novel examines that really well. 
Rob is horrible - that's all, just horrible!
I love how this novel moves, you are literally swept along with it. 
Thank you to Choc Lit for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. You did it yet again!





Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Review of Little Teashop of Horrors by Jane Lovering - Five **


Blurb:

Secrets, lies, carrot cake – and an owl called Skrillex!
Amy Knowles has always been the plain sidekick to her pretty best friend Jules. And whilst the tearoom they both work in on the Monkpark Hall estate in Yorkshire is not exactly awash with eligible bachelors, it’s obvious where the male attention is concentrated – and it’s not just on the cakes! 
There is one man who notices Amy. Joshua Wilson also works at Monkpark, where he flies his birds of prey for visitor entertainment. He lives a lonely existence but he has reasons for choosing isolation – and, in Amy, he may have found somebody who understands. 
Then a management change brings slick and well-spoken Edmund Evershott to Monkpark. He’s interested in Amy too, but for what reason? Josh suspects the new manager is up to no good – but will Amy? Because Edmund could leave her with much worse than a broken heart … 

Another wonderful quirky, fun novel from this award-winning author. Sit back, grab the chocolate, you're in for a real treat!







Review:

I have always loved Jane's books - she brings so much humour to them. The humour is still there in this one but it goes a little deeper than usual. The hero is dysfunctional, the heroine is not a stunning blonde and is too nice for her own good.

I couldn't put it down. In the usual romcom you don't root for the people in the way that I did for these characters. Josh was such a damaged man and so unlike an alpha male hero! Amy was far too nice - it was always the line of least resistance for her. But things start to happen - Amy has such patience with Josh, he starts to come out of his shell. They work in a Heritage house and Amy discovers that there is skulduggery afoot. She is forced to act out of character and truly finds her voice finally!

And then there's Skrillex. A hero of a very different kind!

Loved it and thank you to Choc Lit for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. How do you do it? I can honestly say, hand on heart, I've never read a Choc Lit book that I haven't loved! And this one is near the top of that list!



Wednesday, 15 March 2017

My turn for the Blog Tour for TA Williams' new book, "To Rome With Love" - Five **


Blurb:

Escape to Italy this summer with this fabulously feel-good beach read!


A summer of second chances…

Just a week before her big day, Sarah returns home to find a note from her husband-to-be – the wedding’s off! So when her boss decides to send her on an epic cycling trip, from Venice to Rome, it seems like the perfect distraction…

Although she never expected the distraction to come in the form of her oh-so-handsome, but slightly serious, cycling companion, Miles. And with still 600 miles of beautiful scenery, mouthwatering food and delicious wine yet to cover, anything could happen!





Review:

What a fun book this is! Set in Italy, it follows the fortunes of the members of a charity bike ride - with particular emphasis on Miles & Sarah. It really does have everything - great characters, glorious scenery, which is well described and yummy food! Oh yes - and a dash of tension for the will they? won't they? romance!

I always enjoy Trevor's books - one of the authors I discovered after I got my kindle, and always look forward to his next one! Since he is a prolific writer, I never have to wait long. If you've never read any of his books, what are you waiting for??

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.







Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Review of The Girl in the Photograph by Kirsty Ferry - Five **



Blurb:

What if the past was trying to teach you a lesson?
Staying alone in the shadow of an abandoned manor house in Yorkshire would be madness to some, but art enthusiast Lissy de Luca can’t wait. Lissy has her reasons for seeking isolation, and she wants to study the Staithes Group – an artists’ commune active at the turn of the twentieth century.


Lissy is fascinated by the imposing Sea Scarr Hall – but the deeper she delves, the stranger things get. A lonely figure patrols the cove at night, whilst a hidden painting leads to a chilling realisation. And then there’s the photograph of the girl; so beautiful she could be a mermaid … and so familiar.


As Lissy further immerses herself, she comes to an eerie conclusion: The occupants of Sea Scarr Hall are long gone, but they have a message for her – and they’re going to make sure she gets it.

Book 3 in The Rossetti Mysteries, Book 1 – Some Veil Did Fall. Book 2 – The Girl in the Painting







Review:

Kirsty Ferry just goes from strength to strength! This book was fascinating from two points of view. The interweaving time slip story was really well crafted and the research Kirsty has done on the early photographers and artists' groups was really interesting. In fact there was a BBC4 programme about early photography and Kirsty and kindled an interest so I watched it and learned even more!

The intertwined love stories are beautifully written, particularly the 1905 one. I'm not going to say too much except to say that Lorelei was a fabulous character and I got really worried about her "happy ever after". The settings in Whitby and Cornwall were brought to life and I could clearly see the beautiful scenery in my mind.

As ever, Choc Lit has another winner - how do they do it?

I was given an ARC by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Review of Sins of the Father by Sheryl Browne - Five **


Blurb:

What if you’d been accused of one of the worst crimes imaginable?

Detective Inspector Matthew Adams is slowly picking up the pieces from a case that nearly cost him the lives of his entire family and his own sanity too. On the surface, he seems to be moving on, but he drinks to forget and when he closes his eyes, the nightmares still come.


But the past is the past or is it? Because the evil Patrick Sullivan might be out of the picture, but there’s somebody who is just as intent on making Matthew’s life hell, and they’re doing it in the cruelest way possible.


When Matthew finds himself accused of a horrific and violent crime, will his family stand by him? And will he even be around to help when his new enemy goes after them as well?








Review:

Just when you think it can't get any better...it does! This was yet another late night read because I simply could not put it down.

We're back with Matthew and Becky and another fraught and tense situation. I really could not see any way out for Matthew this time around and was getting very worried!

If you haven't read After She's Gone, read that first and then this one. This is a stand alone, but you'll miss a lot of details (and an incredibly good book!).

Thank you to Choc Lit and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
 





Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Review of After She's Gone by Sheryl Browne - Five **



Blurb:

He’s killed your child and kidnapped your wife. What would YOU do? 

There’s evil and then there’s Patrick Sullivan. A drug dealer, pimp and murderer, there are no depths to which Patrick would not sink, and Detective Inspector Matthew Adams has found this out in the most devastating way imaginable.


When Patrick’s brother is shot dead in a drug bust gone wrong, the bitter battle between the two men intensifies, and Matthew finds it increasingly difficult to hold the moral high ground. All he wants is to make the pimping scum suffer the way he did … the way Lily did.

But being at war with such a depraved individual means that it’s not just Matthew who’s in danger. Patrick has taken a lot from Matthew, but he hasn’t taken everything – and now he wants everything.








Review:

Oh boy!! I'm exhausted - stayed awake until 2am so I could finish this book - what a ride!

You are thrust into the action from the first paragraph and it just gets faster and faster! Its the story of a cop versus a criminal and the action follows their war or words and actions. 

What makes it different is that you read the story from the aspect of different characters at different times. Which makes for a fascinating insight into the human psyche.

The ending is so tense, I was glad I was in bed - I was exhausted!

Absolutely loved it as I do all books by Sheryl.

I received an ARC from Choc Lit & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



Friday, 10 February 2017

My turn for the blog tour for Clare Chase's new book A Stranger's House today! 

And you, my lovely readers, have an added bonus - a guest post from Clare herself!!


Review and guest post of A Stranger's House by Clare Chase - Five **


Blurb:

What if you were powerless to protect the person you cared about most? 

When Ruby finds out that her partner has done the unforgivable, she has no option but to move out of their home. With nowhere else to go, a job house-sitting in Cambridge seems like the perfect solution. 

But it’s soon clear the absent owner hurts everyone he gets close to, and Ruby’s faced with the fallout. As violent repercussions unfold, her instinct is to investigate: it’s a matter of self-preservation. And besides, she’s curious…

But Ruby’s new boss, Nate Bastable, has his eye on her and seems determined to put a stop to her sleuthing. Is he simply worried for the welfare of a member of staff, or is there something altogether more complicated – and potentially dangerous – at play? 

From Death by Choc Lit - gripping edge of your seat reads.






Review:

Loved this book! It's not my usual genre but I trust Choc Lit implicitly so gave it a go.

I loved the characters - Ruby and Nate - and the chemistry between them. Damien made a wonderful villain....until he was murdered and then, of course Nate, as a PI and Roby as a nosy person have to look into his death.

The setting in Cambridge is lovely - and makes a nice change from a remote coastal town or a US city! It is a complicated plot, with several loose ends by the final chapter. I hope they are tied up in the next book!

Thoroughly enjoyed it - more please Clare!

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.



And now let's meet Clare - welcome!



Cambridge and Crime – the perfect match

Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Ann!

A Stranger’s House is just out in paperback, and as it’s my first mystery set in Cambridge, and the second,One Dark Lie, has just been released as an eBook, I thought I’d write about why I think the city is such a great setting for crime fiction.

Distinct boundaries and plenty of connectivity
I’d categorise my books as classic (albeit contemporary) mysteries,and for this type of crime novel a relatively close-knit, interwoven community works well. Cambridge is perfect in this way: it makes for a lively, colourful backdrop, as you’d expect from a city, but it’s also quite a small place, so establishing unexpected connections between characters is believable. And it has certain structures that reinforce this.
Cambridge’s University is just one example. It employs a large number of residents and so there are all sorts of links between people that you might not anticipate. Jobs range from college gardeners and housekeeping staff to media-friendly professors in charge of multi-million pound research grants. These networks mean secrets and gossip can travel fast and in unexpected directions!
Cambridge’s housing stock contributes to this interconnectedness too. The vast majority of the city’s streets are compact, with lots of Victorian terraces, which means you’re very close to your neighbours.It’s not uncommon for you to know each other’s business, whether you want to or not! The older houses’ walls are only one brick thick, so raised voices travel, and people often have a right of way through neighbouring gardens too, so they can wheel their bins and bikes onto the street. If I want one of my characters to witness something untoward, it’s easy to work that in.

Plenty to write about
It’s hard to overlook the fact that Cambridge is full of contrasts in terms of wealth and circumstance, and that’s just one dynamic that can lead to conflict and drive a plot.
The city is home to what’s become known as Silicon Fen, a hotspot of hugely successful high-tech businesses. And the University is also wealthy. According to Wikipedia it had an endowment of £5.89 billion in 2014, and given that it’s over 800 years old, you can imagine how ingrained its presence is here, and how unbreakable some of its traditions seem to be. It makes a massive and valuable contribution to the economy and people’s wellbeing through its research and spin-out companies, but there’s no doubt it engenders jealousy and resentment in some quarters too.
At the other end of the scale, it’s common to see down and outs and drug dealers on the city’s commons and you become very conscious of the vastly different outcomes people can have in life for all sorts of reasons, frequently beyond their control. Because Cambridge is only the size of a market town, these inequalities can be quite striking, and you get people rubbing shoulders who wouldn’t normally cross paths.
The city is also a place where the stakes are often high. (We’re back to those multi-million pound businesses and high-flying professors again.) And where people have a lot to lose, there’s potential to develop a crime plot. What might someone do to protect their standing or their fortune?

An interesting backdrop
I find Cambridge very beautiful – from the architecture of its colleges to the River Cam with its weeping willows. There’s also something charming about the cattle that graze the city’s commons, right in the centre of town. It’s the sort of environment that provides a stark contrast to an unforgivable act in a crime novel.
I find it a nostalgic place too. Around a fifth of the term-time population is made up of students, which means there’s a higher than average proportion of young people here. I’m constantly reminded of the old days and time passing, since I’m quite a lot more grown-up than they are!
And then there’s the local colour. Cambridge’s streets are packed full of galleries, restaurants and coffee shops, which are fun to depict, and,from a plotting point of view, make chance encounters believable. It’s also very international. You get scholars and tourists travelling to the city from all over the world, with the added interest and variety that brings.
But when I want to introduce a creepy note, there are plenty of isolated spaces! The commons bordering the river can feel very lonely after dark, as do the meadows going out of town – all useful for mystery fiction.
Personal knowledge
I’ve lived in Cambridge for over twenty years and used to work at the University, which has definitely helped me with the content of my books. I’ve also lodged everywhere from a palatial house in upmarket Newnham to impressively grotty student digs, with mildew on the walls. At the time I didn’t manage to feel kindly towards the slugs that shared my living space, but now I can see it was all grist to the mill!
So that’s a flavour of the sort of things I pick up on in my Cambridge mysteries. I really hope readers get as much out of the setting as I do.

A Stranger’s House by Clare Chase is now available to purchase in paperback. Click here for buying options: http://www.choc-lit.com/dd-product/a-strangers-house/


About the author:

Clare Chase writes women sleuth mysteries set in London and Cambridge. She fell in love with the capital as a student, living in the rather cushy surroundings of Hampstead in what was then a campus college of London University.
After graduating in English Literature, she moved to Cambridge and has lived there ever since. She’s fascinated by the city’s contrasts and contradictions, which feed into her writing. She’s worked in diverse settings – from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons – and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies presents a good happy medium.
As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.
She lives with her husband and teenage children, and currently works at the Royal Society of Chemistry.




Thursday, 26 January 2017

Review of New York, Actually by Sarah Morgan - 5**


Blurb:

Meet Molly
New York’s most famous agony aunt, she considers herself an expert at relationships…as long as they’re other people’s. The only love of her life is her Dalmatian, Valentine.
Meet Daniel
A cynical divorce lawyer, he’s hardwired to think relationships are a bad idea. If you don’t get involved, no-one can get hurt. But then he finds himself borrowing a dog to meet the gorgeous woman he sees running in Central Park every morning…
Molly and Daniel think they know everything there is to know about relationships…until they meet each other that is…





Review:

What's not to love? NYC, gorgeous dogs, great characters and truths and deceptions.

I absolutely adored this book and read it in two sittings! I've enjoyed Sarah's New York series and this is the first of a spin-off series focussing on the dog walking business and the people who run it. Nice references to the previous books, but this is easily read as a stand alone.

I really enjoyed the way that Daniel and Molly reacted to bad news/discoveries. They reacted immediately but then went away and thought about it and changed their tunes. All too often in romance books the lead characters fall out and then simmer with anger for weeks/months/years. Human nature usually reconsiders after examining the facts in a sensible way and after talking to others.

What was particularly charming was the way Molly's defences dropped without her realising. When all her friends turned up to support her I was crying!

Can't wait for the next one - and since we've had hints regarding Fliss & Seth, I'm hoping it covers their relationship!!

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.