Thursday 31 August 2017

Mixing It Up - Tracie Banister

Born with a silver spoon in her mouth, Manhattan upper-cruster Cecily Sinclair now uses that pricey utensil to dish up fancy French fare on her cooking show, Serving Romance. When there’s an executive shake-up at the network, she’s not worried. Not much anyway. Her show’s a hit after all. Why would the new CEO want to mess with success? 

The driving force behind several buzzed-about networks, Devlin Hayes is considered to be a wunderkind in the television industry. Although his plans to rebrand CuisineTV and make Serving Romance more Millennial-friendly don’t thrill Cecily, her charming, blue-eyed boss is a hard man to say “no” to and she really wants to keep her job—even if that means sharing screen time with a loathsome blast from her past. Mercurial Italian chef Dante Marchetti a.k.a. “Il Duce” was once Cecily’s boss, and she has the PTSD to prove it. 

Now the owner of one of the hottest restaurants in town, Dante’s egomania knows no bounds and his constant attempts to provoke and upstage Cecily make her want to conk him on the head with a sauté pan. She thinks they’re toxic together, but viewers love their chemistry and clamor for more. 

As Cecily battles to maintain the integrity of her show, she finds herself scheming and manipulating right along with Dante and Devlin. Is she fighting a lost cause? Does she really belong on TV, or would her culinary talent be better served elsewhere? And could one of the men who makes Cecily’s blood boil ignite a passion in her for something other than food?

What did I think?

It took me a little while to get into Mixing It Up as I didn't instantly warm to the main character of Cecily Sinclair, but there are so many other colourful characters that it wasn't long before I found that I was really enjoying it.

Cecily doesn't really need to work as her family are super-rich, but Cecily has a passion and flair for cooking; something her Grandmother looks down her nose at.  Cecily is the star of a TV cooking show, Serving Romance, but when a new CEO joins the station he brings new ideas with him.  It isn't long before Cecily is forced to share the stage with guest chefs and that's not a problem at all until one of the guests is her ex-boss, Dante Marchetti.  Dante was Cecily's boss when she was training and he'd leave her quivering in fear like a jelly if her dishes didn't come up to his satisfaction.  Now Cecily is the star, will Dante cope with taking orders from her?

There is so much friction between Cecily and Dante that they become an overnight sensation and the station decides to make Dante a more permanent feature so a new show is born: Mixing It Up.  With such a fine line between love and hate, tempers flare and passions soar between Cecily and Dante.  There are some great scenes between the pair of them, and Dante often had me in kinks of laughter with his naughty Italian humour.

Putting the cooking show to one side for a moment, I have to say that I loved Cecily's crazy family particularly her quirky cousin, Dina. Dina is certainly a free spirit and isn't afraid to raise her grandmother's eyebrows - in fact with both Dina and Cecily refusing to conform to their privileged upbringing, granny Bernadine's eyebrows must be permanently raised.

Mixing It Up is difficult to read without your tummy rumbling and your mouth watering as each dish is described in delicious detail.  I really wish it had been a scratch and sniff book to see if the delectable cooking aromas I was imagining matched up to real life.  Anyone who loves The Great British Bake Off and other popular TV cookery shows, will love this book - it almost made me want to reach for my apron and whip something up in the kitchen...almost! 

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Wednesday 30 August 2017

The Things We Learn When We're Dead - Charlie Laidlaw

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy meets The Lovely Bones in this surrealist, sci-fi comedy. When Lorna is run over, she wakes in a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions. It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident ...Or does God have a higher purpose after all?

What did I think?

As someone who never reads sci-fi, I thought that The Things We Learn When We're Dead would push me out of my comfort zone, so I was surprised that I found it so easy to read and relate to.  I was told before I started it, that it was a modern reworking of The Wizard of Oz.  This wasn't really one of my favourite books or films as a child, but I knew it well enough to be intrigued to see what Charlie Laidlaw had done with this classic.

Set in Scotland, Lorna Love (what a great name) wakes up in hospital after stepping out in front of a car, but this is no ordinary hospital. There are hamsters in the ceiling (just look at that cute little ginger face peering out of the spaceship on the cover) and everybody looks like a famous celebrity.  Lorna then finds out that she is in HVN, a spaceship where only a selected few are chosen to come along for the ride.  So why has Lorna been chosen?  Does she want to go on a celestial journey or is there really no place like home?

This is definitely a book to read with an open mind but it's such an enjoyable book that I devoured every page.  It was helped enormously by the numerous references to Star Wars which, in my opinion, is the greatest film of all time.  Lorna was a huge Star Wars fan as a child, so I loved her stories of watching it with her brother, Tom.  As Lorna's life flashes before her eyes, we read about her life with her brother, Tom, and her friendship with the hilarious character of Suzie.

I'm really glad I read this book; I found it fun yet thought-provoking.  Who really knows what happens when we die?  I don't imagine the afterlife would result in me flying through hyperspace in a spaceship, but perhaps my idea of heaven would be spending eternity aboard the Millennium Falcon with Han Solo... Michelle says, 'Han, I'd really love that!',  to which Han replies, 'I know!'

As I had my Star Wars visor on, I didn't always see the links to The Wizard of Oz but, if you're looking to try something new, you'll not go far wrong with The Things We Learn When We're Dead.  It's different, refreshing, poignant, funny and as thought-provoking as you'd like it to be.  My advice would be: don't take it too seriously, just enjoy your ride aboard HVN.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Tuesday 29 August 2017

BLOG TOUR: About Us - Jon Rance

I am delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for About Us by Jon Rance.  If you haven't heard of the book, here is a litte snippet of what it's all about.  It definitely made me head straight over to Amazon to snap up a copy!

This is the story of Rosie and Pete. From the beginning until the end.

Hello! I’m very excited to be here on day six of my blog tour for my new book, About Us. Thanks so much for having me. About Us, has been out now for seven days and the response I’ve had has been brilliant. So many kind, wonderful comments, so thanks to everyone who has bought a copy. If you haven’t bought it yet, or indeed if you haven’t heard anything about it, here’s what you’re missing.

About Us, is the story of Rosie Willis and her relationship with husband, Pete. The book is set over twenty years from when they first meet at university in the 90’s right up until present day when they’re both early fortysomething’s living in south London with their three children. It’s a comedy drama about the choices we’re forced to make when life doesn’t go to plan.

I think one of the things that sets my books apart is the characters. I love creating characters and not just the main characters, but also the secondary ones. If you’ve read any of my previous books, you’ll know what I’m talking about. In, About Us, we have Rosie and Pete, but the other characters I really enjoyed writing were the children. Rosie and Pete have three children, Alice, 14, Josh, 10, and Daisy, 7. All three are interesting, funny, quirky, and have their own lives and problems. Being a parent of two children, I feel as though I can offer something insightful when it comes to writing children. They’re always so interesting and as I said, quirky.

One of my favourite television shows of all times was, Outnumbered, because it was funny, real, and it felt like a real family. Quite often when I watch tv shows or read books about family life, it can feel contrived or unreal. It’s like viewing someone’s life on Instagram - it’s nice and has some semblance of reality, but it’s filtered. This summer my family and I went on a six-week tour of the UK. Six weeks together. If you saw the majority of the photos it looks incredible and as though we’re the perfect family. We’re not. If you saw the video of my six-year-old son having a complete meltdown at Edinburgh airport or heard the complaints about seeing “another boring castle” you’d see the real holiday. The fifth consecutive Tesco meal deal for lunch at another playground. I wanted to capture of all these moments in, About Us. It really is a warts and all look at family life, marriage, and about what happens when it all goes wrong.

About Us, is a dramatic comedy about life, about love, about us, and it’s out now exclusively on Amazon. Grab your copy now for just 99p for a limited time!  Click here to buy from Amazon!

About the author:

Jon Rance is the author of five novels: the Kindle top ten bestseller, This Thirtysomething Life, Happy Endings (both published by Hodder and Stoughton), This Family Life, Sunday Dinners and his latest, the romantic comedy, Dan And Nat Got Married. He's also the author of the Christmas novella, A Notting Hill Christmas.

Jon studied English Literature at Middlesex University, London, before going travelling and meeting his American wife in Australia. Jon loves comedy (especially sitcoms), the films of Richard Curtis, travelling and tea. He just turned forty, which is a terrifying time, so his books might get a bit edgier and possibly angrier as a result.

Jon writes dramatic, romantic, comedy fiction similar to the work of Mike Gayle, Matt Dunn, Nick Spalding and David Nicholls.

You can email him at:

Please visit his website:

Follow the tour:

Friday 25 August 2017

PROMO EVENT: Secrets We Keep - Faith Hogan

I absolutely adore Faith Hogan's books so it is my pleasure to share an extract from her latest novel, Secrets We Keep.  You also have the chance to win a signed copy yourself so you really don't want to miss the giveaway at the end of the post!

Genre: Women’s Fiction
Release Date: February 2017
Publisher: Aria Fiction – Head of Zeus
Two distant relatives, drawn together in companionship are forced to confront their pasts and learn that some people are good at keeping secrets and some secrets are never meant to be kept..
A bittersweet story of love, loss and life. Perfect for fans of Patricia Scanlan, Adele Parks and Rosamunde Pilcher.
The beautiful old Bath House in Ballytokeep has lain empty and abandoned for decades. For devoted pensioners Archie and Iris, it holds too many conflicting memories of their adolescent dalliances and tragic consequences – sometimes it’s better to leave the past where it belongs.
For highflying, top London divorce lawyer Kate Hunt, it’s a fresh start – maybe even her future. On a winter visit to see her estranged Aunt Iris she falls in love with the Bath House. Inspired, she moves to Ballytokeep leaving her past heartache 600 miles away – but can you ever escape your past or your destiny?

Extract from Secrets We Keep by Faith Hogan
I’ve never seen anything like it,’ Kate said. It was her first thought as they turned down the cove and saw the bathhouse snuggled into the cliff face. It was a turreted, stocky grown-ups sandcastle. ‘It could have been emptied from a child’s bucket,’ was her first reaction. It had been painted, white with a light blue trim once, then the waves and the spray had all but washed that away. It still sat proudly, if shabbily, on a huge flat rock, that upturned in a lip over the sea. It was a plate, large enough for any giant.
Genesis Rock – it’s a metamorphic rock, probably over a thousand million years old,’ Rita said. ‘Sorry, did I mention I taught geography and home economics, once upon a time.’
No, but I probably should have guessed.’
I don’t remember the bathhouse even being open. I could imagine that I’d have spent all my days here if I had.’ Rita looked at the washed white walls that reached high into the cliff face.
Well, Archie said they ran it for a few years, but he didn’t say when it shut.’ This place probably held sadness for Archie, if his brother died here. Kate couldn’t feel it. Instead, it made her feel energized, as though the sea was spraying something like an invitation deep into her lungs. It made her heart pound with an expectation she hadn’t felt in years. Even the deserted castle keep that loomed up in grey stone at the tip of the headland seemed to carry a hopeful secret in its towers.
It must have been lovely once. Even now, you can see.’ Rita rested her hands on the thick window ledge, her nose pressed firmly to the cold glass of the windows. ‘It looks like they just closed up one evening and never came back.’
Kate walked to the back of the bathhouse; it dug into the cliff face, as though the construction of one depended on the other. Alongside the building, a small narrow road clung to the cliff for a couple of hundred yards before it feathered off onto what counted as a main road in these parts. Far below, the waves lapped serenely against the stone. It was low tide now; Kate wondered how close the water actually came to the rock. ‘I’d love to get a look inside.’ Rita followed her round to the front of the bathhouse. They peered through a sea sprayed window for a few minutes. Inside, Kate could see there were tables and chairs, a small stove and an old-fashioned counter where once someone had taken orders for afternoon tea. ‘It’s a little café, wouldn’t it be lovely if it was open for coffee?’ Kate mused, it was so much more than just a bathhouse.

How exciting!  To discover an old bathhouse down by the coast, it gives me goosebumps just reading that extract again and I'm sure I can smell seaweed...

If you can't wait and want to buy a copy right now, here are all the buy links:

Secrets We Keep - Googleplay

Secrets We Keep - iBooks

Already an international best seller, Faith Hogan is an original voice in women’s fiction, she has been hailed as a Maeve Binchey for a new generation. Her stories are warm and rooted in a contemporary Irish landscape which has lost none of its wit or emotion thanks to its modern vibe.
Faith Hogan was born in Ireland. She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway. She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.
She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers.
‘Secrets We Keep,’ is her second novel published with Aria Fiction. Her first, My Husbands Wives has been a top ten best seller and is currently available in paperback.
Twitter: @gerhogan

Win a signed copy of Faith’s book Secrets We Keep!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday 24 August 2017

The Blackstone Key (Mary Finch #1) - Rose Melikan

1795, and a young woman called Mary Finch travels in haste from Cambridge to the Suffolk coast. She has been invited to meet her wealthy uncle - and so end a twenty-year estrangement. But before she reaches her destination she discovers a dying man on the road. He is a stranger, and yet he is carrying an oddly familiar watch bearing her uncle's initials. He also seems to know who Mary is, and hints that she is in terrible danger. 

His whispered warning soon exposes Mary to a ruthless conspiracy that threatens not only her family's reputation, but her very life. Far from home, Mary must learn quickly how to distinguish friend from foe. Can she trust the two men who want to help her? What is their interest in the mysterious Blackstone Key? Does it guard a secret treasure, or might it have a more sinister purpose...?

The first in an exciting new mystery series, The Blackstone Key is a gripping and vivid historical adventure that will appeal to fans of such classic tales as Jamaica Inn.

What did I think?

I bought this in a pack of 3 from The Book People quite a while ago and it got lost in my overflowing bookcase.  When I noticed it, whilst rearranging (stroking) my books one day, my interest was piqued so I thought it was time for a spot of historical fiction.

The book started well as we join Mary Finch whilst she makes her way via coach to visit an uncle she has never met.  I got the impression straight away that she is a confident, brave, intelligent young woman and couldn't imagine many women travelling alone at the end of the 18th Century.  On the way, her coach is stopped by a blockage in the road: an injured man.  Mary volunteers to stay with this man whilst the coach goes on to raise the alarm and bring help.  Mary is shocked to find that the man is carrying a watch identical to hers which belonged to her father, identical but for the initials engraved upon it: those of the uncle she is travelling to meet.

As Mary continues her journey, she is joined by Captain Holland who seems to latch on to her.  I was naturally suspicious of him and my suspicions increased when he accompanied Mary to her uncle's house, but thankfully he was there when they encountered a band of smugglers taking up residence.  It left me wondering whether he saved Mary or whether it was all a big set up so she would take him into her confidence.  Then it all got a bit confusing with a bucketload of characters thrown in and a narrative that confused my brain as to which time period I was supposed to be in.

I really enjoyed the code-breaking storyline but I did lose track of all the characters and wished I'd written them down.  Mary has two men vying for her attention: Captain Holland and the exotic foreigner, Mr Paul Déprez.  Do both of them have honourable intentions?  I then got a bit waylaid with Captain Holland's visit to Sir William.  It was here that I felt the time period slipped as Sir William's daughter, Charlotte, could have just stepped out of the 1920's with her mannerisms and expressions.  I'm not quite sure what value this family added to the story as it only resulted in confusing me.

With a strong beginning and end, it was quite a good little story; I just felt like it lost its way in the middle and had a tendency to be a little boring.  On its own, it's not one I'd recommend but I'll see how I feel when I read the next two books in the series, although I do think it will be a while before I pick the next one up.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Wednesday 23 August 2017

All The Wicked Girls - Chris Whitaker

'Raine sometimes complains that nothing exciting is ever gonna happen in Grace again. Daddy told her careful what you wish for.'

Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she's a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama - especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine. Then Summer goes missing.

Grace is already simmering, and with this new tragedy the police have their hands full keeping the peace. Only Raine throws herself into the search, supported by a most unlikely ally.

But perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .

What did I think?

I am a huge fan of Chris Whitaker's debut novel, Tall Oaks, so you can imagine my excitement when I heard that he was bringing a new book out.  Where Tall Oaks was filled with humour and Twin Peaks style weirdness, All The Wicked Girls is so completely different and so very very dark.  With two very different style novels, Chris Whitaker has certainly shown that he is a natural writer and can turn his hand to absolutely anything, or anythin' as they'd say in Grace.

The god-fearing townspeople of Grace, Alabama are shocked when one of their girls go missing...and she's not the first missing girl in the area.  Summer Ryan is a talented young musician, the light to her twin sister's dark.  Her twin, Raine, doesn't believe that Summer has run away so she gathers together her friends to look for Summer.  They are a bit like the scooby gang with Noah, who wants to follow in his Dad's footsteps and join the police, and Noah's friend, hilariously named Purv.

Every other chapter is told from Summer's perspective and we find out that she is not as pure and unblemished as we thought.  It's odd when you read a chapter from a character's perspective as you think of them as alive when you know the chances of a happy ending are slim.  The whole book is so vivid, but I felt as if Summer's chapters were almost talking to me.  She really got under my skin as I got into her head and I could hear her thoughts and words along with the smooth, mournful tone of her cello.  Summer also has a fabulous first chapter that really could only have been created by the ingenious and wacky mind of Chris Whitaker...let's just say that they don't just catch fish in the river in Grace.

With a cast of such eclectic characters, absolutely anything could happen so prepare for a mystery with shocks and surprises.  I found my mind racing over the words as I discovered deeply buried secrets and I thought nothing was quite what it seemed.  It took me a little while to get into the southern dialect, which was great as it added so much authenticity to the book, but once the book started to speak to me it became second nature.

All The Wicked Girls didn't quite topple Tall Oaks off the pedestal I'd put it on, but that's not to say it isn't a fantastic book in its own right. It's certainly a book to immerse yourself in and I was surprised how moved I was by the whole dang thing.  With his unique writing style and quirky stories, Chris Whitaker is definitely an author to watch out for.  

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Monday 21 August 2017

Kill Me Twice (Morgan Vine #2) - Simon Booker

Karl Savage is dead.

He must be. His ex, Anjelica, is in prison for murdering him in an arson attack. Multiple forensic experts testified to finding his charred remains.

So when Anjelica begs investigative journalist Morgan Vine to prove her innocence, it seems an impossible task. It doesn't matter that Karl was abusive. That Anjelica has a baby to care for. That she's petrified of fire. The whole world knows Karl is dead.

Then he turns up outside Morgan's window . . .

What did I think?

Despite my dislike of joining a series anywhere but at the start, I seem to be picking up a lot of books at this second book stage.  What I will say about Kill Me Twice, is that if you hadn't told me it was book 2 in the series, I really wouldn't have known...until I looked up what else the author had written to add it to my wish list.  So in my humble opinion, Kill Me Twice can definitely be read as a standalone novel and a VERY enjoyable one at that. 

It gives me chills just writing about the start of the book, as it has every ingredient you need for a gripping thriller.  Morgan feels somebody watching her and her daughter, Lissa, as they take a walk along the coast.  As Morgan lies reeling from a blow to the back of her head, she hears the 'clink-rasp' of a lighter and smells the burning of human hair.  Morgan found herself completely powerless to defend her daughter from this vicious attack. 

Morgan wrote a book about miscarriages of justice, so she manages to find something to take her mind off this mindless attack: the case of Anjelica Fry.  Anjelica was convicted of killing her boyfriend, Karl Savage, in an arson attack.  So why does Morgan think she is innocent?  Some things don't add up and then when Morgan sees Karl watching her house, she knows for sure that Anjelica has been wrongly imprisoned.  What she doesn't know is how Karl managed to fake his own death and why he wanted Anjelica to be sent down for it.

What follows is a story so fast-paced and gripping, that makes Kill Me Twice a thriller of the highest calibre.  There are so many little twists and surprises as we delve into Karl's life and the lives of the women he has loved and destroyed - he's Savage by name and savage by nature.  Morgan is a superb character - she is like a dog with a bone once she gets something into her head.  Her relationship with her daughter, Lissa, was interesting too as they don't seem that close at the start but Morgan is clearly there for Lissa when the chips are down.

One slight criticism I have, and it doesn't take anything at all away from the 5 stars I have awarded this book, is the overuse of the phrase 'blowing out his/her cheeks'.  It just seemed to appear a lot and once I noticed it, it seemed to pop up a lot more!

Kill Me Twice really is a spectacular book, one that has me immediately adding the first book, Without Trace, to my cart as opposed to just my wishlist, and keeping a VERY keen eye out for book number 3.  There are some vivid and slightly uncomfortable scenes as Karl shows his true colours, but I couldn't have torn my eyes away from the page if my life depended on it.  A superb book, one that is very hard to put down and had me gripped from start to finish.  I wholeheartedly recommend this one!

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Sunday 20 August 2017

Unforgivable (DC Will MacReady #2) - Mike Thomas

Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation. 

An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside. 

But this isn't the Middle East - this is Cardiff . . . 

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the 'why', then surely they can find the 'who'? But that isn't so easy, and time is fast running out . . . 

MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he's asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman. 

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.

What did I think?

With such an explosive start, the reader is launched straight into the action in Unforgivable, the second book in the DC Will MacReady series.  I do usually like to read books in order; sometimes you can get away with not reading the previous books and other times it really is a necessity.  For me, Unforgivable just scrapes through into the former; I would have liked to have read the first book but I didn't need to have read it in order to enjoy this one.

The first chapter is quite chilling as a bomb goes off in a busy market in Cardiff.  A short while later another bomb is detonated in a mosque and across town a young woman is stabbed.  As chaos descends on Cardiff, Will MacReady already has a lot going on in his personal life.  Will's brother, Stuart, is in court and Stuart's baby is at home with Will's wife, who is also the baby's mother.  What a complicated life Will has!  It is because of this complex personal story that I would have liked to have read the first book prior to reading this one, but it's certainly intriguing enough to make me want to look out for book one: Ash and Bones.

With the city on high alert, Will struggles to keep the press interested in the death of the young woman who got stabbed, Heidi Paxton. Heidi's death is no less senseless than the innocent people murdered at the market and mosque...but is Heidi one of the innocents?  As Will investigates, he finds that there is more to Heidi than he bargained for.  As he races to uncover the truth about Heidi, time is ticking and the next Cardiff attack is imminent.  Can Will stop it in time?

Unforgivable is perhaps not quite as fast paced as I expected, but it certainly kept me engrossed and eager to turn the pages.  I loved how the book was sectioned into days as it brought added realism to the story.  It is a highly detailed police procedural thriller and I loved the banter between the police officers; I sometimes felt like I was a fly on the wall inside a police station.  Some chapters are told from the point of view of the bombers and these chapters really are quite chilling as they go about their lives with their true feelings hidden from friends and family.

I'm sure Mike Thomas has a lot more up his sleeve for DC Will MacReady so I definitely want to pick up the first book in the series before book 3 comes out.  I have a feeling that this series is going to be a firm favourite among crime fiction fans, so keep your eye on this one!

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Saturday 19 August 2017

Sweet Treats Volume 1: Jane's Patisserie - Jane Dunn

Available as a download from the Jane's Patisserie website, her new eBook ‘Sweet Treats Volume 1’ is now available to purchase!
Featuring 14 exclusive recipes, it's definitely one you are all going to enjoy. Cakes, Cupcakes, Cheesecakes, Cookies, Desserts, Sweets and Traybakes are all featured, with two new exclusive recipes in each, along with two of Jane's favourites from her blog!
What did I think?

If you haven't visited the blog of Jane's Patisserie before, you are really missing out on a SWEET TREAT or two!  I can't claim to have tried all her recipes, as I would need a whole new (bigger size) wardrobe, but the ones I've tried have been simply amazing!  What I love about Jane's recipes is that she uses well-known chocolate bars and biscuits to make stunning creations that you can easily replicate at home.

Like me, Jane is quite a fan of the cheesecake BUT Jane's cheesecakes are like nothing you have ever tasted before.  For a start there is no gelatine in them; that's right, no jelly animal bits at all.  So it was to my absolute amazement that with a few taps, tugs and nudges (and a panicked tweet to Jane when it wouldn't budge), that I turned out a fabulously set Caramel Rolo Cheesecake.  With the strange spider web decoration, I know mine didn't look as stunning as Jane's but it tasted SO good!

I've also tried Jane's Honeycomb Crunchie Cheesecake and her melt in the mouth White Chocolate and Cranberry Scones, which both turned out exactly as pictured, making me feel like the winner of the Great British Bake Off.  So when I saw that Jane had brought out a recipe e-book, I just had to have it!  What a little gem of a book this is, not only do you have Jane's favourite recipes from her blog, but also some exclusive recipes only available in this e-book.

So what do you get in the e-book?  There are 28 mouth-watering recipes, 4 in each section: cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes, cookies, desserts, sweets and traybakes.  Within each section, 2 are exclusive to the e-book and 2 are readily available on Jane's blog.  So whether you prefer a traditional sponge cake with a difference or you're more of a cookie fan, then there really is something for everyone. I am desperate to try the Apple Crumble Cake (which is on Jane's blog) and the Peanut Butter Brownies which are exclusive to the e-book.

Proof of the pudding really is in the tasting, so get baking today with Jane's Patisserie.  Whether you're a novice baker or an experienced cook, you will awaken your tastebuds and amaze your guests with Jane's fabulous creations.  Whatever your favourite chocolate bar or biscuit, Jane is sure to have a recipe to delight you and fit every occasion.

I couldn't count on my fingers and toes the amount of times I have recommended Jane's blog to my friends and family.  I will always turn to Jane first whenever I want to make something special or different, with minimal fuss, clear instructions and perfect results.  So please do make sure you visit Jane's blog to purchase her Sweet Treats Volume 1 e-book today!

My rating:

Sold as a digital copy only, buy it now from Jane's website by clicking HERE! 

Do make sure that you follow Jane on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, then go out and buy some stretchy pants because you're gonna need them!

Friday 18 August 2017

13 Minutes - Sarah Pinborough

I was dead for 13 minutes.

I don't remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this - it wasn't an accident and I wasn't suicidal.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you're a teenage girl, it's hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I'm sure of it. But that doesn't mean they didn't try to kill me. Does it?

13 MINUTES by Sarah Pinborough is a gripping psychological thriller about people, fears, manuiplation and the power of the truth. A stunning read, it questions our relationships - and what we really know about the people closest to us . . .

What did I think?

I've read a few Sarah Pinborough books so when I saw 13 Minutes on one of my bookshop browsing sessions, without even reading the synopsis on the back, I just had to buy it.  I find with Sarah Pinborough that you're always guaranteed something that little bit (or a lot in some cases) out of the ordinary.  13 Minutes is no exception as I tried to work out what had happened to Queen of the Barbies, Natasha Howland.

An early morning dog walker finds a body in the river and immediately calls the paramedics; after 13 minutes without oxygen the body is revived and Natasha Howland is brought back to life.  She doesn't know how she ended up the river so several chapters contain transcripts of her visit to a psychologist along with text transcripts from her 'friends'.  I love chapters like this as they bring an added sense of real life to the story.  It's also good to look back on when 'all is revealed' to see what clues you missed along the way.

Natasha is THE most popular girl in school.  In primary school she was best friends with Becca and the two girls were partial to a game of chess.  When senior school came around, chess became uncool so Natasha dumped Becca for look-a-likes Hayley and Jenny.  They collectively became known (thanks to Becca) as The Barbies.  Becca becomes her own person without them and is happy with her boyfriend, Aiden, but when another body turns up in the river they have one thing in common - Aiden!  Is Aiden being set up or is he the killer?

This is another cracking book by Sarah Pinborough.  I think it might be sitting in the YA genre but it ventures enough into the dark side to appeal to adult readers.  It is so very well played that it is very apt that chess is the game of choice within the book.  One wrong move and the game is over.  With psychologist statements and text messages throughout the book, the reader must gather the clues and make up their own mind...but will they get the right answer and find out what really happened to Natasha?

If Alfred Hitchcock had directed Mean Girls, you might get close to 13 Minutes.  There is a tangible overhanging cloud of suspense and always the chance that somebody will get pushed in the river.  The bitchiness of the school setting is fabulous as we follow the popular girls and we finally notice the invisible kids.  It took me back (in the distant past) to my school days and I'm sure we were never as bad as this but then I look at my school photos and can't remember the names of everybody on there.  Perhaps others can't remember my name so, for me, 13 Minutes gives a shout out for invisible girls everywhere - we can see you!

Definitely a recommended read for those readers who like something a bit on the dark side with lots of twists and surprises.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Tuesday 15 August 2017

The Escape - C.L. Taylor

"Look after your daughter's things. And your daughter…"

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn't.

The stranger knows Jo's name, she knows her husband Max and she's got a glove belonging to Jo's two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo's own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there's only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

What did I think?

The Escape gripped me from the start and I read the whole book in one sitting, I don't think I even stopped for a quick comfort break.  I have read a few C.L. Taylor books and this is definitely my favourite one so far - it is so enthralling, gripping and nerve-racking that my eyes felt as if they were superglued to my kindle.

My heart was pounding from the first few pages as the footsteps following Jo were described and I almost jumped out of my skin when they caught up.  Ah, it's only a harmless female stranger wanting to ask for a lift.  It's definitely unusual and not terribly British but she asks so forcefully and Jo is running late, so she has no alternative but to agree to give her a lift.  The stranger identifies herself as Paula and once she is in Jo's car, her behaviour changes and it becomes clear that this isn't a chance encounter.  Paula knows who Jo is, she knows her husband and she warns her to look after her daughter.

Jo already has a history of panic and fear of leaving the house, so this sends her head into a spin.  Naturally, she wants to call the police but her husband, Max, isn't very supportive and he claims that he doesn't know Paula.  Max works as an investigative journalist and Jo is convinced that, through one of his investigations, he has put her and their daughter, Elise, in danger.  When things start happening that Jo can't explain, Paula's threat may be about to come true as Jo's fitness as a mother is called into question.  With Max spending all his time at work, Jo does the only thing she can do to keep Elise safe - she goes into hiding.

As the search for Jo goes on, she goes to the one place that she thinks nobody will look for her.  A place that has been erased from her family history but where the family secrets remain, and we all know that secrets don't stay buried for long.  I found myself holding my breath as this fast-paced book drew to a close; the writing is so vivid and I was so immersed in the book that I'm sure I could hear the roar of the sea in my ears.

The Escape is superbly written, no wonder C.L. Taylor has such a huge following that keeps her firmly and well-deservedly on the top of the bestseller listings.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon