Thursday 29 October 2015

Author Interview: Q&A with Bekki Pate

I found a female horror author to be so unusual that I just had to do a special Q&A feature with Bekki Pate.  Many thanks to Bekki for putting aside some time to answer my questions and if you haven't read The Willow Tree yet, make sure you pop over to Amazon to pick up this spine tingling book for Halloween.

Q: What inspired you to write The Willow Tree?

A: I have always written stories – my first attempt at a proper novel ended up in the bin – it was awful – this was my second attempt. I wanted to write a story that I would want to read, with strong characters, pushing the boundaries of what I found scary and horrific.

Q: How long did it take you to write The Willow Tree?

A: Altogether, probably around seven years – there were gaps though as I attended university and had my first full time job. Because of these gaps, it went through many different transformations, finally ending up the way it is now. This was good in a way as I developed a completely different writing style over the years, and the gaps where I left it made me realise, when I came back to it, which parts were atrocious and needed fixing.

Q: Do you find that the next book in the trilogy is easier to write now that you have the foundation for the story or is The Willow Tree the yardstick by which all future books shall be measured?

A: I made a silly mistake when writing book number two – I wrote it in a non-linear way and so half-way through I got completely confused and had to go back over and over to correct mistakes. The lesson I learned was to write things linearly – some writers can write different parts of the story in whatever order they want, but unfortunately I'm not one of them.

Q: When did you decide to write a trilogy? Did the idea come all at once or did it grow as the story progressed?

A: I think I always wanted to write a trilogy – it gave me chance to spread the whole story out and not rush through it in one book. Plus it leaves the readers wanting more, and my books can become something of a collection rather than a one time story.

Q: It's so unusual to see a female author in the horror genre. Who were your main author influences and do you have a favourite book of theirs?

A: When I was growing up I absolutely adored Goosebumps and Point Horror – these books were my initial influences, and later on it became Stephen King and Richard Laymon. I find writing horror so much more exciting than any other genre, and I find I'm better at it.
I would have to say that Stephen King is my favourite author – an obvious choice I know, but he writes in such a gripping way, as though he's talking to you, and telling the story that way, rather than on a page. 'Lisey's story' is one of my favourites – it did start slow and I thought I wouldn't like it, but it soon grew creepier and creepier until I ended up checking my bedroom for monsters before going to sleep.

Q: Who is your favourite character, good or evil, in The Willow Tree and why?

A: I really like Nick – he's so flawed and such a pleasure to write. He appears in all my books in some way and the transition from what he is now, to what he becomes by the end of the third book (and he actually appears in a fourth book I'm writing currently!) is something I am very proud of.

Q: I enjoy watching the tv show Supernatural, and mentioned it in my review of The Willow Tree. Was The Willow Tree influenced by Supernatural, or any other tv show or film?

A: It wasn't actually influenced by Supernatural, but the similarities are interesting! I only realised this when I started watching Supernatural and thinking 'wow, I have that in my story! Oh, and that too!” My TV influence is definitely Buffy The Vampire Slayer – I was (and still am) obsessed by this TV series; I don't think a series has gripped me in such a way since.

Q: What are your writing routines?

A: My writing routines used to be after work and at the weekends, I would plan out a few chapters in advance and then write those chapters, giving myself deadlines. Now, I write whenever I have a spare half hour or so, as my 12 week old daughter takes up most of my time!

Q: When you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

A: Spending time with my daughter and my partner – my family are the most important thing in my life. Apart from that I am a huge book nerd – I would love to lock myself away for a while sometimes with a pile of books, and just read.

Q: Finally, the question that everyone will ask after reading The Willow Tree: when can we expect the next book in the trilogy?

A: It's out on 20th November, both in ebook and print! For updates, you can follow my facebook page:

About the Author

Bekki Pate was born and raised in Nottingham, but currently lives in Wolverhampton with her partner. She works in clinical trials within the NHS, and in her spare time she is an avid reader. She has recently given birth to her first daughter and is enjoying the precious time spent with her during maternity leave. She tries to read a wide variety of books, from horror to romance, but her favourite author is Stephen King; whom she considers to be an absolute genius. She enjoys being close to the famous Cannock Chase; as it's where she goes for a bit of peace and quiet, as well as inspiration for new stories.

Read my review of The Willow Tree here
Buy The Willow Tree from Amazon here

Saturday 24 October 2015

Ivy's Envy (Want & Decay book 1) - Latashia Figueroa

Latashia Figueroa’s riveting Want & Decay Trilogy follows the entangled lives of three people tormented by lust, jealousy, madness and murder. In this first book, Ivy’s Envy, Ivy James has had a history of violence with the men she falls for. Her grandmother and parents know what Ivy is capable of when things don’t go her way. 

Now Ivy has become obsessed with Thomas Miles, a man who works at her office. She is certain that Thomas loves her too. But there are people who stand in the way of Ivy and Thomas finally being together, like his wife, Deana. Determined to have the love that is their destiny, Ivy will go down a very dark and twisted road to make Thomas hers, and hers alone. But Ivy is not the only one who has dark secrets, and everyone involved will soon learn that pursuing love and passion to the extreme can lead to terrifying consequences.

What did I think?

I was impressed with some of the reviews of Ivy's Envy so I couldn't wait to read it myself.  I agree, I didn't see the ending coming because it was a bit like a Stephen King book and completely out of sync with the whole story.  Looking back, I should have paid more attention in chapter 1 as the story brings the reader back to this point at the end.

I thought the writing was excellent and I loved the continual link with Ivy's grandmother but I was a little disappointed in the ending.  I think it does have a lesson to be learned in the book, not only that you can't have your own way all the time but be careful what you wish for as it may just turn out to bite you in the ass.

It's a short story and a very quick read.  Now that I have read it, I will be looking out for book two in the trilogy as there's just something so very addictive about it.

I received this ebook from Booklover Catlady Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

183 Times a Year - Eva Jordan

Mothers and daughters alike will never look at each other in quite the same way after reading this book—a brilliantly funny observation of contemporary family life.

Lizzie—exasperated Mother of Cassie, Connor and Stepdaughter Maisy—is the frustrated voice of reason to her daughters’ teenage angst. She gets by with good friends, cheap wine and talking to herself—out loud.

16-year-old Cassie—the Facebook-Tweeting, Selfie-Taking, Music and Mobile Phone obsessed teen—hates everything about her life. She longs for the perfect world of Chelsea Divine and her 'undivorced' parents—and Joe, of course.

However, the discovery of a terrible betrayal and a brutal attack throws the whole household into disarray. Lizzie and Cassie are forced to reassess the important things in life as they embark upon separate journeys of self-discovery—accepting some less than flattering home truths along the way. 

Although tragic at times this is a delightfully funny exploration of domestic love, hate, strength and ultimately friendship. A poignant, heartfelt look at that complex and diverse relationship between a Mother and daughter set amongst the thorny realities of today’s divided and extended families.

What did I think?

From the opening pages of this wonderful book I knew I was about to read something special, so I gleefully hopped aboard the emotional rollercoaster that is 183 Times a Year.  The story is told mainly from the perspectives of Lizzie (mum) and Cassie (daughter) and Eva Jordan effortlessly changed writing style to step into these very different shoes.  We are privy to so many of their innermost thoughts, or outermost in Lizzie's case as she often talks out loud, that I felt like I was seeing the world through their eyes.

At times, I laughed so much that I cried, but as with all ups and down of family life my tears of laughter turned into tears of despair as events unfolded.  I completely bought into the characters and felt like I knew them inside out and I was just settling in to the family life and putting my slippered feet under Lizzie's table, when tragedy struck.  Reading the thoughts of other family members had me reaching for my tissues; in particular, Maisy (aka Mania) - I have never known one simple line bring me to tears.  Eva Jordan is an absolute genius - she knows how people tick, both young and old.

This book really had me considering my own actions and reactions.  How we often hit out at those closest to us and how our actions don't always reconcile with our feelings.  It's only in the face of tragedy that our real feelings reveal themselves, but for many people this can be too late.

To be able to write from such different perspectives is an amazing feat and I urge you to head over to Amazon to read 183 Times a Year for yourself, then tell your Mam/Mum/Mom/Mother that you love and appreciate her.  Thank you Eva, this wonderful debut novel is such a candid account of family life that we can all relate to.  Be prepared to laugh and to cry, this book is so full of surprises that it's worth reading all over again.  An absolutely astonishing, thought provoking, hilarious and life affirming debut novel.

So what does 183 Times a Year mean?  You'll just have to read the book to find out!

I received this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Sunday 18 October 2015

Bladesong (The Troubadours Quartet Book 2) - Jean Gill

1151: the Holy Land

From the Winner of the Global Ebook Award for Best Historical Fiction 

Estela, the troubadour, is following the destiny of her beautiful voice. Dragonetz, her passionate knight has a dangerous mission to fulfill; divided by the times they love in, they fight to be together. 

Imprisoned in Damascus, Dragonetz suffers the mind games inflicted by his anonymous enemies, as he is forced to remember the traumatic events of the crusade, two years earlier. His military prowess is as valuable and dangerous to the balance of power as the priceless Torah he has to deliver to Jerusalem, and the key players want Dragonetz riding with them - or dead. 

Instead of remaining safely at home, Estela is desperate to rescue Dragonetz at all costs. She sets out for the Holy Land, never realising that the person she thinks will be her knight's saviour might actually be his doom. Can Estela get him out alive, despite Nur-ad-Din, the Muslim Atabeg; Mélisende, the Queen of Jerusalem; and an avenger from the past? Will she still want to, when she knows what they've done to him? 

Once more 'the master of historical intrigue' whirls the reader off into medieval mayhem. Jean Gill's details of crusading strategy and riding a camel are as convincing as the pangs of medieval childbirth. She brought medieval France to life in 'Song at Dawn'; now she adds 12th century Damascus and Jerusalem with equal aplomb. 

What did I think?

The story of Estela and Dragonetz continues where Song at Dawn ended with Dragonetz undertaking a perilous mission to transport a holy Jewish Torah to Jerusalem.  As we would expect, the mission is very dangerous and Dragonetz finds himself imprisoned in Damascus with several players vying for the sacred Torah.

I often see a lot of reviews complaining about historical accuracy in fiction books.  I have absolutely no idea how accurate Jean Gill's books are but I do know they are outstanding works of fiction which contain many significant historical facts.  They have the feel of looking through a window to the past and I find it so unusual that they are set in the medieval period, pre-dating many of our favourite historical fiction novels.  Often thought of as modern inventions or afflictions, we read about the idea of antiseptic being introduced, grafting of plants and drug addiction.  As a previous cadet of St. John's Ambulance, I gasped in recognition at the eight-pointed cross on the tabards of the Knights of St John in Jerusalem.  It was so enlightening reading that passage as I had no idea of the origins of this famous voluntary organisation.

There are an awful lot of characters in the book and I have to admit it does sometimes get confusing so I would recommend reading Song at Dawn first so that you get to know the characters that reappear in this book.  I loved being introduced to new characters too, some innocent and sweet like Muganni and Musca and others dastardly and calculating like Bar Philipos and Mélisende.  I omitted Nici from my review of Song at Dawn so I must give him a special mention here.  Nici is Estela's huge fluffy white bear of a dog.  He is so protective of her and would lay down his life to keep his mistress safe.  In such treacherous times, he is called into action more frequently than you would imagine.

There is so much back-stabbing and dastardly dealings going on that it feels like an episode of Game of Thrones and nobody can be trusted.  I really enjoyed this book, although Song at Dawn is my favourite of the series so far, and I'm rushing straight on to the third book Plaint for Provence to continue reading this wonderful medieval tale.  

I received this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Saturday 17 October 2015

Beauty - Louise Mensch

Blend it. Sculpt it. Shape it. Use it...
There isn't a woman on earth who doesn't have her beauty secrets. But for Dina Kane, beauty is more than just business. It's power. And it is the secret. She's dragged herself up from poverty to Park Avenue. She's rolled with the punches. And she's learned how to win.
Now someone is out to destroy her, and all she's built. They've underestimated Dina Kane. She's staying at the top - and she's happy to wait for the perfect moment to exact her revenge..

What did I think?

My god-sister posted a photo of this on Twitter and I was like one of the ladies in the store where Dina worked, rushing to get my hands on a jar of Meadow cream - I just had to read it, so I raced to the library to pick up a copy.

I absolutely raced through this book, it was so fast paced and full of life that I didn't want to put it down.  From the beginning when Dina is born and is unwanted and unloved by her parents I was hooked.  She has a very good relationship with her brother, Johnny, despite him getting all the love and opportunities from her parents.  So Dina grows up, leaves home and makes her own opportunities!

Dina has a difficult time in Manhattan as she has no college education and because of her natural beauty, people try to take advantage of her.  She works her way up from being a waitress to a coffee shop manager and it is here that she meets Edward.  Edward is with a group of friends who are taunting Dina and Edward apologises for their actions, so Dina agrees to go out on a date with him. Unfortunately for Dina, Edward is not all that he seems but even more unfortunate for Edward, Dina is not afraid to take her revenge.

This incident only makes Dina grow stronger, as she makes money by flipping property and using her knowledge of beauty products to expand quiet dingy stores into heaving places to be.  Simmering away in the background is Edward, in the style of Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl, seething at Dina's success and plotting his own revenge, with devastatingly tragic consequences.

What a brilliant book, I can't believe I haven't read any Louise Bagshawe/Louise Mensch books before but if they are all of this standard then Beauty won't be my last!  If you loved Gossip Girl, you'll love this book, although be warned that Edward is way nastier than Chuck! I was transported to Manhattan, browsed in the Green Apothecary, and queued in Times Square enjoying every moment with the fabulous Dina Kane!

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Herring Girl - Debbie Taylor

Set in a Tyneside fishing village, Herring Girl moves effortlessly between 1898 and 2007 as twelve-year-old Ben finds himself the unlikely conduit for Annie, a herring girl who lived – and died – a century earlier. As Ben tries to unravel the puzzle of Annie’s death, he is drawn irresistibly into her long-vanished world.
Bringing the startling story of Annie’s life and curious death vividly to life, this brilliantly realised historical mystery introduces a cast of unforgettable characters, and reveals how the secrets of our past are never too far away.

What did I think?

I saw a write up about this book in one of those free supermarket magazines a while ago and thought the reincarnation story sounded really interesting.  I added it to my wishlist then spotted it in the library so snatched it off the shelf and rushed to the desk, naturally picking up another book along the way!

Unfortunately it was the hardback edition of the book so I found it a bit cumbersome to read for long periods but I did thoroughly enjoy the story.  There are a lot of issues covered in the book including homophobia, trans-gender operations, broken families and past lives. Ben is a lovely young boy but he believes he should be a girl and feels trapped in his body, but perhaps it is his previous incarnation, Annie, who is trapped inside his body and trying to get her story heard.  Ben's mother has moved to New Zealand to start a new life and a new family, so Ben lives with his Dad who is most definitely a man's man and can't understand what Ben is going through.

Ben looks for support elsewhere and finds Laura, who runs the local cafe and Dr Mary Charlton who hypnotises him to extract Annie's story.  I absolutely loved Annie's story, although sometimes I found the language hard to understand and I am from this area!  I have no doubt it was authentic local dialect but I think perhaps a glossary in the back might have assisted some readers.

The whole subject matter was fascinating to me - not just reincarnation but the possibility that groups of souls reincarnate and find each other in their next life.  I loved the way the book was written from both Ben's and Annie's perspectives with both stories bringing tears to my eyes.

Wonderfully researched, with a host of fascinating characters spread across the decades, this is a book that is well worth reading.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Thursday 15 October 2015

The Little Bookshop on the Seine - Happy Release Day!

We have a special treat on my blog today as we wish Happy Release Day to Rebecca Raisin for her gorgeous new book The Little Bookshop on the Seine.  I have an excerpt from the book to whet your appetite, then you can head off to Amazon, iBooks, Nook, Kobo or Sainsbury's and buy the whole fabulous book for yourself.

Happy reading y'all and Happy Release Day, Rebecca!

La Vie En Rose
Bookshop owner Sarah Smith has been offered the opportunity to exchange bookshops with her new Parisian friend for 6 months! And saying yes is a no-brainer – after all, what kind of a romantic would turn down a trip to Paris…for Christmas?
Even if it does mean leaving the irresistible Ridge Warner behind, Sarah’s sure she’s in for the holiday of a lifetime – complete with all the books she can read!
Imagining days wandering around Shakespeare & Co, munching on croissants, sipping café au laits and watching the snow fall on the Champs-Élysées Sarah boards the plane.
But will her dream of a Parisian Happily-Ever-After come true? Or will Sarah realise that the dream of a Christmas fairytale in the city of love isn’t quite as rosy in reality…

A deliciously feel-good Christmas romance perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Julia Williams

Now here's your special treat: an excerpt from The Little Bookshop on the Seine.  Make sure you follow the whole blog tour and come back to visit on my stop on 1st November.
My email pinged and I dashed over to see who it was from. That’s how exciting my life was sans Ridge, an email was enough to make me almost run, and that was saying a lot. I only ran if chocolate was involved, and even then it was more a fast walk.
Sophie, a dear Parisian friend. She owned Once Upon a Time, a famous bookshop by the bank of the Seine. We’d become confidantes since connecting on my book blog a while back, and shared our joys and sorrows about bookshop life. She was charming and sweet, and adored books as much as me, believing them to be portable magic, and a balm for souls.
I clicked open the email and read.
Ma Chérie,
I cannot stay one more day in Paris. You see, Manu has not so much broken my heart, rather pulled it out of my chest and stomped on it. The days are interminable and I can’t catch my breath. He walks past the bookshop, as though nothing is amiss. I have a proposal for you. Please call me as soon as you can.
Poor Sophie. I’d heard all about her grand love affair with a dashing twenty-something man, who frequented her bookshop, and quoted famous poets. It’d been a whirlwind romance, but she often worried he cast an appraising eye over other women. Even when she clutched his hand, and walked along the cobbled streets of Paris, he’d dart an admiring glance at any woman swishing past.
I shot off a quick reply, telling her to Skype me now, if she was able. Within seconds my computer flashed with an incoming call.
Her face appeared on the screen, her chestnut-colored hair in an elegant chignon, her lips dusted rosy pink. If she was in the throes of heartache, you’d never know it by looking at her. The French had a way of always looking poised and together, no matter what was happening in their complex lives.
“Darling,” she said, giving me a nod. “He’s a lothario, a Casanova, a…” She grappled for another moniker as her voice broke. “He’s dating the girl who owns the shop next door!” Her eyes smoldered, but her face remained stoic.
I gasped, “Which girl? The one from the florist?”
Sophie shook her head. “The other side, the girl from the fromagerie.” She grimaced. I’d heard so much about the people in or around Sophie’s life that it was easy to call her neighbors to mind. “Giselle?” I said, incredulous. “Wasn’t she engaged – I thought the wedding was any day now?”
Sophie’s eyes widened. “She’s broken off her engagement, and has announced it to the world that my Manu has proposed and now they are about to set up house and to try immediately for children –”
My hand flew to my mouth. “Children! He wouldn’t do that, surely!” Sophie was late-forties, and had gently broached the subject of having a baby with Manu, but he’d said simply: absolutely not, he didn’t want children.
The doorbell of her shop pinged, Sophie’s face pinched and she leaned closer to the screen, lowering her voice. “A customer…” She forced a bright smile, turned her head and spoke in rapid-fire French to whoever stood just off-screen. “So,” she continued quietly. “The entire neighborhood are whispering behind their hands about the love triangle, and unfortunately for me, I’m the laughing stock. The older woman, who was deceived by a younger man.”
I wished I could lean through the monitor and hug her. While she was an expert at keeping her features neutral, she couldn’t stop the glassiness of her eyes when tears threatened. My heart broke that Manu would treat her so callously. She’d trusted him, and loved him unreservedly. “No one is laughing at you, I promise,” I said. “They’ll be talking about Manu, if anyone, and saying how he’s made a huge mistake.”
“No, no.” A bitter laugh escaped her. “I look like a fool. I simply cannot handle when he cavorts through the streets with her, darting glances in my bookshop, like they hope I’ll see them. It’s too cruel.” Sophie held up a hand, and turned to a voice. She said au revoir to the customer and spun to face me, but within a second or two, the bell sounded again. “I have a proposal for you, and I want you to really consider it.” She raised her eyebrows. “Or at least hear me out before you say no.” Her gaze burned into mine as I racked my brain with what it could be, and came up short. Sophie waved to customers, and pivoted her screen further away.
“Well?” I said with a nervous giggle. “What exactly are you proposing?”
She blew out a breath, and then smiled. “A bookshop exchange. You come and run Once Upon a Time, and I’ll take over the Bookshop on the Corner.”
I gasped, my jaw dropping.
Sophie continued, her calm belied by the slight quake in her hand as she gesticulated. “You’ve always said how much you yearned to visit the city of love – here’s your chance, my dear friend. After our language lessons, you’re more than capable of speaking enough French to get by.” Sophie’s words spilled out in a desperate rush, her earlier calm vanishing. “You’d save me so much heartache. I want to be in a place where no one knows me, and there’s no chance for love, ever again.”
I tried to hide my smile at that remark. I’d told Sophie in the past how bereft of single men Ashford was, and how my love life had been almost non-existent until Ridge strolled into town.
“Sophie, I want to help you, but I’m barely hanging on to the bookshop as is…” I stalled for time, running a hand through my hair, my bangs too long, shielding the tops of my eyebrows. How could it work? How would we run each other’s businesses, the financial side, the logistics? I also had an online shop, and I sourced hard-to-find books – how would Sophie continue that?
My mind boggled with the details, not to mention the fact that leaving my books would be akin to leaving a child behind. I loved my bookshop as if it were a living thing, an unconditional best friend, who was always there for me. Besides, I’d never ventured too far from Ashford let alone boarded a plane – it just couldn’t happen.
Please,” Sophie said, a real heartache in her tone. “Think about it. We can work out the finer details and I’ll make it worth your while. Besides, you know I’m good with numbers, I can whip your sales into shape.” Her eyes clouded with tears. “I have to leave, Sarah. You’re my only chance. Christmas in Paris is on your bucket list…”
My bucket list. A hastily compiled scrappy piece of paper filled with things I thought I’d never do. Christmas in Paris – snow dusting the bare trees on the Left Bank, the sparkling fairy lights along the Boulevard Saint-Germain. Santa’s village in the Latin Quarter. The many Christmas markets to stroll through, rugged up with thick scarves and gloves, Ridge by my side, as I hunted out treasures. I’d spent many a day curled up in my own shop, flicking through memoirs, or travel guides about Paris, dreaming about the impossible…one day.
Sophie continued: “If you knew how I suffered here, my darling. It’s not only Manu, it’s everything. All of a sudden, I can’t do it all any more. It’s like someone has pulled the plug, and I’m empty.” Her eyes scrunched closed as she fought tears.
While Sophie’s predicament was different to mine, she was in a funk, just like me. Perhaps a new outlook, a new place would mend both our lives. Her idea of whipping my sales into shape was laughable though, she had no real clue how tiny Ashford was.
“Exchange bookshops…” I said, the idea taking shape. Could I just up and leave? What about my friends, my life, my book babies? My fear of change? And Ridge, what would he have to say about it? But my life…it was missing something. Could this be the answer?
Paris. The city of love. Full of rich literary history.
A little bookshop on the bank of the Seine. Could there be anything sweeter?
With a thud, a book fell to the floor beside me, dust motes dancing above it like glitter. I craned my neck to see what it was.
Paris: A Literary Guide.
Was that a sign? Did my books want me to go?
“Yes,” I said, without any more thought. “I’ll do it.”

The Little Paris Collection:

The Little Bookshop on the Seine

The Little Antique Shop under the Eiffel Tower

The Little Perfume Shop off the Champs-Élysées

Also by Rebecca Raisin

The Gingerbread Café trilogy:Christmas at the Gingerbread Café

Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread Café

Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Café

The Bookshop on the Corner

Secrets at the Maple Syrup Farm

Amazon UK click here
Amazon US click here
iBooks click here
Nook click here
Kobo click here
Sainsbury’s click here

Rebecca Raisin
is a bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been widely published in various short-story anthologies, and in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance. The only downfall about writing about gorgeous men who have brains as well as brawn is falling in love with them – just as well they’re fictional. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and, most importantly, believe in true, once-in-a-lifetime love.
Follow her on twitter @jaxandwillsmum

Monday 12 October 2015

Christmas at Lilac Cottage (White Cliff Bay Book 1) - Holly Martin

Welcome to the charming seaside town of White Cliff Bay, where Christmas is magical and love is in the air…

Penny Meadows loves her home – a cosy cottage decorated with pretty twinkling fairy lights and stunning views over the town of White Cliff Bay. She also loves her job as an ice-carver, creating breathtaking sculptures. Yet her personal life seems frozen. 

When Henry and daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage to rent the annex, Penny is determined to make them feel welcome. But while Daisy is friendly, Henry seems guarded.

As Penny gets to know Henry, she realises there is more to him than meets the eye. And the connection between them is too strong to ignore …

While the spirit of the season sprinkles its magic over the seaside town and preparations for the ice sculpting competition and Christmas eve ball are in full swing, can Penny melt the ice and allow love in her heart? And will this finally be the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of? 

Like a creamy hot chocolate with marshmallows, you won’t want to put this deliciously heartwarming novel down. 

Spend the perfect Christmas in White Cliff Bay this year. Snowflakes on Silver Cove coming very soon.

What did I think?

With characters so full of life they almost burst off the page, Holly Martin has written another winner.  I have previously read and adored Fairytale Beginnings so when I saw another Holly Martin book, I couldn't wait to get stuck in.

Holly has created a perfect manly man in Henry; he's strong, loyal and has a cute bum!  I loved that there was a bit of a mix-up when Henry first arrived in town and Penny thought that Daisy was his wife, so she tried to dampen her attraction to him.  Penny (not short for Penelope, producing a huge guffaw from me!) is so lovely - she's been so unlucky in her life and pretty much gave up looking for love...until she met Henry.

I found that I read this book with a smile on my face and with the odd giggle thrown in, as I've come to expect from Holly Martin. Seriously, Holly's books should come on prescription - they are a literary anti-depressant.  I can't wait for another visit to White Cliff Bay with Snowflakes on Silver Cove.

I have noticed that Holly Martin is building quite a fan base and it's no surprise with books of this quality.  I'm definitely a Holly Martin fan - she reaches out through each fabulous page to give the reader a massive hug and will warm even the coldest of hearts.  When the snow starts to fall in Gateshead this Christmas, I'll be picking this book back up to escape to White Cliff Bay once again.

I received this e-book from the publisher, Bookouture, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy from Amazon

Thursday 8 October 2015

The Bad Things - Mary-Jane Riley

A darkly compelling psychological thriller, full of twists and turns, perfect for fans of THE WICKED GIRLS by Alex Marwood and THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT by Kate Hamer.

Alex Devlin’s life changed forever fifteen years ago when her sister Sasha's two small children were snatched in broad daylight. Little Harry’s body was found a few days later, but Millie’s remains were never discovered.

Now Jackie Wood, jailed as an accessory to the twins’ murder, has been released, her conviction quashed by the Appeal Court. Convinced Jackie can reveal where Millie is buried, Alex goes to meet her.

But the unexpected information Wood reveals shocks Alex to the core and threatens to uncover the dark secret she has managed to keep under wraps for the past fifteen years. Because in the end, can we ever really know what is in the hearts of those closest to us?

What did I think?

This was a fantastic book - it was absolutely compelling reading and I got totally carried away, reading late into the night.  The chapters are quite short so just one more chapter very easily became just ten more chapters!  There is so much I could say about this book but to do so I'd have to reveal some spoilers so I'm not going to reference the story in my review.  This really is an astounding debut that manages to simultaneously create feelings of shock and empathy.

I loved the way it was written, it was so multidimensional showing all aspects of the case and leaving no stone unturned.  I enjoyed every single page, from the story of the twins' family to the policewoman who found little Harry's body and the effect it had on her own life.  There are so many unexpected moments in this book that it kept me hooked throughout and ensured that the pages kept on turning until everything had been revealed.

I wasn't surprised to learn that Mary-Jane Riley has a journalism background.  This book is written in true investigative style and both female leads had amazing depth of character.  Alex is a journalist writing for magazines, in a similar vein to Mary-Jane Riley, and Kate is a detective inspector but I felt that both characters were well developed, instantly likeable and, most of all, believable.

There are shocks, twists and disturbing scenes - a brilliant psychological read that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

I received this e-book from the publisher, Killer Reads, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Sunday 4 October 2015

Little Girl Gone - Alexandra Burt

A baby goes missing. But does her mother want her back?

When Estelle’s baby daughter is taken from her cot, she doesn’t report her missing. Days later, Estelle is found in a wrecked car, with a wound to her head and no memory.

Estelle knows she holds the key to what happened that night – but what she doesn’t know is whether she was responsible…

What did I think?

I quite enjoyed this, it was a relatively quick read but I didn't really warm to Estelle or Jack.  Estelle has a bit of a chip on her shoulder and expects to fail at everything so she doesn't realise that she is suffering from post-partum depression until it is too late.  Jack was a bit of a cold fish and doesn't really appear much in the book, I questioned whether he was even bothered that his daughter had gone missing.

I found it well written although sometimes I felt like it was a bit padded with more words than were necessary, for example: "something had gone amiss, had gone awry" - which is basically the same thing.  I think Alexandra Burt has chosen a difficult subject to write about, not only a child going missing but a mother suffering from post-partum depression.  The description of the effect of post-partum depression was written brilliantly and I think it was important to emphasise the help that psychiatric professionals can give in such cases, as people shouldn't suffer alone.

The story of the baby going missing is the main point of the book and I thought the addition of a few news articles within the book was a great idea.  I read the book quickly as I wanted to find out what had happened to Mia so the hook was there and I continued to be intrigued during Estelle's search for the truth.  The ending wasn't a disappointment, in fact I think it showed how far Estelle had come in her therapy - she never gave up looking for her daughter.

I did enjoy the book and I think it was a fascinating psychological analysis of a damaged young woman as she attempted to adapt to married life and motherhood.

I received this e-book from the publisher, Avon, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: