Thursday 30 April 2015

Close of Play - PJ Whiteley

This was a feel good story of old fashioned courting by a seasoned bachelor with a love of cricket.

Brian is a solicitor and bachelor, but also a key player on the local cricket team.  He's got used to being on his own but is sometimes lonely.  Then he meets Elizabeth at his local church.  He doesn't really know how to act with Elizabeth and his fear of rejection can sometimes be seen by her to be indifference.

It's really endearing how we see Brian, or Colin as the local vicar hilariously calls him, break down the walls that surround him and take a chance on Elizabeth.  He's a proper gentleman and a little bit old before his time, but it's lovely to see that love can find all of us even when we're not looking for it.

I found some of the cricket references a little bit too much at times, as it's not a sport I've ever been interested in, but Elizabeth's story was enough of a hook to keep me turning the pages and I did finish the book the same day that I started it.  What Brian did for Eric towards the end of the book shows what a lovely man he is...yes, I know he's not real!

This is a book for a sunny day and a glass of wine.  Read it and rekindle your faith in humankind.

Buy it direct from the publisher here

Check it out on The Book Depository

How I Lost You - Jenny Blackhurst

I was unable to put this book down - I read it in a day, thank goodness I didn't start reading at night or I would have had no sleep.

Susan Webster is starting a new life as Emma Cartwright after serving 4 years in Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for killing her baby son, Dylan.  This is a crime she can't remember committing but her husband and doctors told her she did it.

Emma starts her new life in Ludlow, a quiet market town in Shropshire but one day she receives a letter addressed to Susan Webster with a photo of a little boy inside: 4 year old Dylan.  With the help of Cassie, her friend from Oakdale, and her new acquaintance Nick, a journalist, Susan sets out to discover if her son really is alive.  This takes her on a journey to Durham University as she uncovers the buried secrets of her husband's past.

This story has more twists and turns than a slinky.  It certainly kept me riveted from start to finish and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it - but read it at your peril, you will lose a whole day of your life!

I received this book from the publisher via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

Buy it from The Book Depository

Wednesday 29 April 2015

GIVEAWAY - Win one of 10 copies of Simon Pont's amazing book Remember to Breathe


Cast your mind back to 1999 - how did you mark the end of the millennium?

Sam Grant shows us how to party like it's 1999...because it really was 1999.  Read about Sam's experience of the last few months of 1999 and laugh at his hilarious observations and one liners.

If you loved Bridget Jones, you'll love Sam Grant.  This is a book for everyone who agrees that madness is doing the same thing over and over going to work every day.  Read it and weep with laughter!

Check it out on Urbane Publications

Want to win your very own copy of Remember to Breathe, courtesy of Urbane Publications? Loads of ways to enter:
1) Enter via Rafflecopter below
2) Contact me via the contact form putting "Sam Grant" in your message
3) Follow @Wino4ever74 on Twitter and retweet one of my giveaway tweets

Giveaway closes at 11:59pm on 22nd May 2015.  UK only.  10 winners will be chosen at random and notified via email or Twitter by 24th May 2015.  Good luck!

This giveaway is now closed and the winners have all been notified.  The 10 lucky winners are:
Jen Webb, Laura Pritchard, Eleanor Powell, Gareth Drake, Kiran Parry, John Crone, Mrs. K. Benmailoud, Fiona Tomlinson, Sarah Rees and Lee Dowling.

Plain Truth - Jodi Picoult

I've never read a Jodi Picoult book before, but I will be reading more after this.  Despite Katie's burying her head in the sand, which is sometimes hard to believe, Plain Truth gives a wonderful respectful insight into the Amish way of life.

Katie Fisher is a young Amish girl living the plain life in Paradise, Pennsylvania.  She is courting Samuel, attending church and helping her parents on their farm.  One night she wakes up with stomach cramps and goes into her father's barn where she delivers a baby boy.  Exhausted, she falls asleep holding the baby and praying to God to help her.  She wakes a few hours later and God has answered her prayers - the baby has disappeared. Katie goes back to the house to sleep then when the boys come to do the milking, the dead body of the baby is found.

Katie's "Englischer" cousin, Ellie, is a lawyer and volunteers to defend Katie when he is charged with murder of the baby.  Katie first denies that she was ever pregnant but, as she comes to trust Ellie, the story unfolds whilst Katie awaits trial.

Jodi Picoult effortlessly slips from simple farm life to courtroom drama and I read this book in a few days.  I didn't really know much about the Amish community so I enjoyed learning about their way of life whilst this tragic story unfolded.

Mistake alert: 
page 81 - Furniture had been moved to make room for the the long, backless church benches, which arrived by wagon and could be transported from home to home.

page 393 - As if listening to his own his words, he slowly got to his feet and stared at the jury.

Saturday 25 April 2015

Remember to Breathe - Simon Pont

Meet Samuel Grant, he works in advertising in London in the 90's.  He rubs shoulders with the rich and famous but feels like there's no point to his life after his break up with Sarah, but as the new millennium approaches Sam parties like it's 1999.

Sam is, in my opinion, a male Bridget Jones as we relive the last few months of 1999. Indeed Ms Jones gets a mention in the book. Through Sam, we get to experience the inner workings of a man's mind - is it really all tits and arses?

I didn't think I would enjoy this when I first started reading as Sam seemed very materialistic, mentioning the designers of his furniture as if we should be impressed - I'm afraid I'd never even heard of them!  Then, through the style of Simon Pont's writing, I felt I got to know Sam and even began to like him a little bit.  He's struggling after his break up, drinking vast quantities of alcohol and trying to do as little work as possible.  You just know he's going to snap at some point!

There are some really funny moments in the book - my favourites being tube and suede shoe related.  Please do be mindful of the gap and don't climb up any bridge railings in slippy shoes.

This is a book for both men and women.  Sam Grant - men will want to be him and women will want to meet him.

Wednesday 22 April 2015

In Their Footsteps - Tess Gerritsen

This is a story of espionage that takes us on a journey around Europe - England, France, Greece and Germany. Jordan and Beryl Tavistock are siblings whose MI6 parents' deaths were a mystery to them until a drunken partygoer spills the beans.  Their father was believed to have shot their mother after discovering she was having an affair, and then killed himself before he was uncovered as a traitor.  Jordan and Beryl don't believe this for a minute so they jet off to Paris to uncover the truth, followed by ex-CIA Richard Wolf who is tasked with keeping an eye on them.

As the siblings get closer to the truth, the real traitor becomes desperate to conceal their identity, desperate enough to kill.  Just when we think all has become clear, the murderer of the Tavistocks is revealed.  I was close but I hadn't guessed who it was.

Obviously, and needlessly I may add, a romance blossoms between Beryl and Richard.  How they find time for such shenanigans whilst someone is trying to kill them is beyond me!

Whilst the espionage story was engaging, I'm afraid that this felt a bit like a Mills and Boon in a thriller cover.

Buy it from The Book Depository

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Leaves - John Simmons

This is a beautifully written book.  It is set in 1970 and is split into 5 parts; 4 parts representing each season and 1 final part for New Year.  You can really feel the seasons through the writing; the chill of Winter; the promise of Spring; the madness of Summer; and the crispness of Autumn.

Meet some of the residents of Ophelia Street; Keith and Brenda, who have been unhappily married since their shotgun wedding as teenagers; siblings Gerald and Selene, Gerald owns the local factory and Selene runs around after him like a servant; and Robert Johnson, bullying his mother and driving his flashy sports car up and down the street, thinking he’s landed on his feet when Gerald hands over the reins of the factory.  I felt like a curtain twitcher as I peeped into the lives of the residents of Ophelia Street and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to satisfy my curiosity.

There are some other residents but the main characters were really brought to life and have stuck in my mind long after reading the final page.  I have to give a special mention to Mrs. Johnson’s pets - Timmy the cat and Joey the budgie who don’t escape Robert’s bullying.

I loved the way the book was split into seasons and watching the way the street changed over the year – the introduction of the offenders hostel, the factory closure and the murder of little Elaine Card.  People might feel cheated that the murderer isn’t identified, but I felt all the clues were there as I interpreted the child’s sock as a trophy.  I actually thought there might have been another murder - I thought Selene would end up putting arsenic in Gerald’s whiskey!

I really liked this book – I’ve been talking about it since I finished it.  It’s a year in the life of Ophelia Street as the leaves change from green to gold before finally losing hold and tumbling to the ground.  There’s murder, suicide, death, divorce and new beginnings - what more could we ask for?

Thank you to Urbane Publications for allowing me to read this book before publication.

Preorder now from - released 30 June 2015

Saturday 18 April 2015

A Small Part of Me - Noelle Harrison

This is the story of Christina whose mother left her when she was a small child. It is also the story of Greta whose husband put her in an institution following a miscarriage.  Greta is Christina's mother.

Christina, following the breakdown of her marriage, takes her youngest son to America in search of Greta.  On the way she meets Luke who is also recovering from a marriage breakdown, and Luke agrees to drive Christina to the town where her mother lives.

The individual stories of Greta and Christina unfold as Christina travels to Canada in search of her mother.

I enjoyed this book although I felt there were a few loose ends.  All in all, a good read.

The Great Gatsby - F.Scott Fitzgerald

Despite not managing to make it through the whole film with my eyes open, I decide to read the book.  I admit, I blamed Baz Luhrmann for my dislike of the film but the book is indeed just as bonkers.

The glitz and glamour of the era pour out of the opening pages as we are introduced to Gatsby, this fellow who throws the best parties where no gatecrasher is turned away and the partygoers couldn't pick Gatsby out of a line up.  Alas it turns out to be a sham, Gatsby doesn't have any friends and he’s just throwing parties in the hope that the love of his life, Daisy, might show up.  Unfortunately, Daisy is married but Gatsby eventually finds his way into her social circle and they begin an affair.

Gatsby pushes Daisy to choose between him and her husband and her choice makes his world crash down around him as his real identity is revealed.

I’m glad I read it, unbeknownst to me on the 90th anniversary of its release.  It was a quick read but I wouldn't recommend it.  It was a little boring in places but for a 90 year old book it really wasn't too bad at all.

Buy it from The Book Depository

Friday 17 April 2015

The Queen's Sorrow - Susannah Dunn

I really hate to slate a book but what was Susannah Dunn thinking?  The Queen would be sorrowful indeed to have such a small part in the book!  I feel duped - this wasn’t a story about Mary Tudor as seen through the eyes of a Spanish sundial maker, it was the story of a Spanish sundial maker with a bit part for Mary Tudor.  This really should have been called The Stupid Spanish Sundial Maker (who couldn’t keep his pants on).  Oh, and there were no chapters – just one long monotonous book about the life and conquests of Rafael Prado.

Rafael is brought to England as part of Philip of Spain’s court in order to design a sundial for Mary Tudor.  Rafael is placed in a household and spots a friendly face in Cecily.  Despite the language barrier the two quickly become friends.  During the long winter nights, Rafael dreams of home and we learn about his dalliance with a servant girl, his affair with his sister-in-law, his coveting his best friend’s wife and eventually marrying her and believing his wife had a 12 month pregnancy!  I was shocked, indeed shocked to the core, when he began an affair with Cecily!

I really wouldn’t recommend this book.  It did very little to hold my interest and the emphasis was placed too much on the Spaniard rather than Bloody Mary.  The lack of chapters really did test my patience.

Buy it here from The Book Depository

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Six Seconds - Rick Mofina

This was an absolute page turner.  I had to force myself to put the book down to go to sleep or I would have been up all night!

The book quickly introduces quite a few characters, but it doesn’t get confusing.  You start to think they will never link together, but they do link perfectly with explosive results.  There’s Samara whose husband and son were murdered in front of her in Iraq and she is out for revenge; Maggie whose husband has returned from Iraq a changed man and has abducted their son; and Daniel, a Canadian Mountie who finds a murdered family whilst off-duty mourning the loss of his wife.

I really felt for Samara as her story began to unfold, and the chapter that describes the murder of her husband and son brought tears to my eyes.  Her anguish and sorrow was felt in every word on the page.  This then links into Maggie’s own anguish as she joins forces with Daniel to find her missing son.

This isn’t a book with lots of twists, as it becomes apparent quite quickly how it is going to play out but it didn’t stop me turning each page with lightning speed to absorb more of the story.  As we all know, the Mountie always gets his man (or woman).

Mistake alert: In Chapter 31, Mehmet Ali Agca, the would-be assassin of Pope John-Paul II in 1982, is renamed as the famous cooker, Aga, a few pages after he is mentioned.

Buy it here from