The Second Chance Shoe Shop by Marcie Steele

About this book..

All Riley Flynn wants is to meet someone who makes her happy. But attracting the right kind of man is not easy, and with her heart still hurting from her last break-up, Riley believes she’ll never find love again. 
A year ago, Sadie Stewart’s whole world was shattered when her husband, Ross, died. She has struggled to keep herself together for the sake of their young daughter, but with the anniversary of his death approaching, Sadie finds herself overwhelmed by grief.

Sadie and Riley work at Chandlers shoe shop, in the charming town of Hedworth. But when Chandlers is threatened with closure, the friends are confronted with the loss of not only their jobs, but also their support network – the glue that holds them together when they are close to breaking.

As they put together a plan to save their beloved shop, Sadie realises that she might just be learning to live again. Could it be that new beginnings are just round the corner? The campaign also finds Riley unexpectedly crossing paths with charming photographer, Ethan. Maybe her second chance at love is right under her feet …

My review..

Well I was a bit worried when I got this book to read and review as I am a huge fan of this author’s work when she writes as Mel Sherratt. Her DS Allie Shenton series is one of my favourites for its dark and gritty scenes of city life. But after reading so many crime books recently I decided I needed a break, something lighter, and I really couldn’t have chosen a better book to do that with! This book is the equivalent of a gossip with your friends whilst having coffee and cupcakes! In fact it’s the champagne afternoon tea of chick-lit and I loved it! It’s full of love, loss and more importantly friendship. Yes Mel may have crossed to the “pink and fluffy” side but I, for one, am very glad she did!

The shoe shop of the title is situated in the fictional town of Hedworth where it is managed by the “unlucky in love” Riley alongside her colleagues and friends Sadie and Dan. They have all had personal problems recently but things are about to get a lot worse when the owner of the shop decides to boost sales with a bit of “friendly” competition between the three of them. Riley sees this as her chance to put in place a few changes that she has been thinking about including the use of social media….but could this prove to be the best move of her career or the biggest mistake of her life?

I really enjoyed this book! It felt like I was snuggled up in a big pink marshmallow at times but the sweetness came with an unexpected edge. It wasn’t your usual “happy ever after” where you could predict what happens and who ends up with who-and that’s why I liked it so much. It still retained that touch of real life where the themes of love, loss and friendship were perfectly handled. The use of social media played a bit part in the plotline, using it to give the book a very modern twist. I am still waiting to catch a flash mob myself unfortunately! My favourite character was Sadie, struggling to make sense of her life without her beloved husband whilst making sure her six year old daughter still had a family around her. The scenes where the friends all had their Sunday lunch together were reminiscent of my own in previous years and I just felt relaxed, as if I were in the company of my own friends and family. So if you enjoy your books sweet and light with a few twists and turn along the way then I guarantee Marcie Steele is the author for you!

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an unbiased review so big thanks to Bookouture for that opportunity.

Out on April 8th 2016

Available to pre-order here

A Tapping at My Door by David Jackson

About this book..

A woman at home in Liverpool is disturbed by a persistent tapping at her back door. She’s disturbed to discover the culprit is a raven, and tries to shoo it away. Which is when the killer strikes.
DS Nathan Cody, still bearing the scars of an undercover mission that went horrifyingly wrong, is put on the case. But the police have no leads, except the body of the bird – and the victim’s missing eyes.

As flashbacks from his past begin to intrude, Cody realises he is battling not just a murderer, but his own inner demons too.

And then the killer strikes again, and Cody realises the threat isn’t to the people of Liverpool after all – it’s to the police.

My review..

It takes quite a lot to render me speechless (unfortunately says my family!) but this book did just that. There was a moment near the end that I switched off to everything around me as I wanted to give everything I had as a reader to the final few pages of the book that is definitely going to be in my Top 10 of 2016. There was a highly emotional ending to this crime thriller that I truly did not see coming and my heart literally missed a beat when I saw exactly where this plot had been heading.

This book starts off like one of those creepy horror films that I pretend I don’t mind watching but end up seeing more of the back of a cushion than my tv screen! Terri Latham is at home when she hears a tapping at her door. She dismisses it as a plant blowing in the wind but it keeps going and starts tapping at a different location. Scared, she opens the door to find a large raven and then things get seriously creepy as she realises the raven is not alone….

This book is the first in a new series for author David Jackson. After the success of his Callum Doyle series (which is amazing if you haven’t read it- especially Cry Baby!) he has moved closer to home with DS Nathan Cody, who lives and works in Liverpool. I love the fact that Liverpool has its own detective series now-its a fascinating city that I love visiting-full of character, with many cultural references used by the author here to great effect. Nathan is a fantastically complex character who has a past that is hinted at but doesn’t become clear until later in the book. I have no doubt his relationship with his dysfunctional family will provide us with plenty of drama in future books! As, I’m sure, will his partnership with DC Megan Webley, a former girlfriend now working alongside Nathan as they try to solve the mystery of who is murdering fellow police officers.

This book has been plotted to perfection! The level of tension created by that first chapter was sky high! It introduces us to a main character who is flawed but incredibly likeable. And that is one of the main reasons that this series will work well-we are made to really care about this fictional policeman! I felt very protective of him right from the start, rather like DCI Stella Blunt, and wanted to shout “NOOOOO!” whenever he seemed set on another path of self destruction! I was so totally engrossed in the plot from page one that I didn’t even see where it was going until it slapped me in the face! I found it difficult reading the last few pages, for reasons I won’t go into, and I know that many people will feel the same but it was handled perfectly.

A Tapping at my Door is a fantastic start to this new series and I hope we don’t have too long to wait before the next instalment (I am so impatient-every authors nightmare!) I loved every minute of it and can’t wait to see what scrapes Nathan Cody gets himself into next.

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

Out on April 7th 2016

Available to pre-order here

Tastes Like Fear by Sarah Hilary

About this book..

You’ll never be out of Harm’s way

The young girl who causes the fatal car crash disappears from the scene.

A runaway who doesn’t want to be found, she only wants to go home.

To the one man who understands her.

Gives her shelter.

Just as he gives shelter to the other lost girls who live in his house.

He’s the head of her new family.

He’s Harm.

D.I. Marnie Rome has faced many dangerous criminals but she has never come up against a man like Harm. She thinks that she knows families, their secrets and their fault lines. But as she begins investigating the girl’s disappearance nothing can prepare her for what she’s about to face.

Because when Harm’s family is threatened, everything tastes like fear…

My review..

I was a bit of a latecomer to this series by Sarah Hilary having started with No Other Darkness last year then having to backtrack to read Someone Else’s Skin, both of which can be read as standalone novels and both of which I loved! So it was with great excitement (and rather a great deal of trepidation-those books had a lot to live up to!) that I got an ARC of Tastes Like Fear.

DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake become involved in a murder investigation when the body of a young girl is found. The girl had been involved in a traffic accident along with another teenager when they caused a fatal collision between two cars as they ran, seemingly terrified, across the road. It leads Marnie and Noah into the world of the teenage runaway, those seeking refuge from the world but what if that safe harbour is more evil than the problems they are running from?

What draws me to these books and this one especially is just how normal they seem. Sarah Hilary really seems to have her finger on the pulse of the social and economic problems in the UK and brings us a main character who feels very real to the reader. Both Marnie and Noah have very interesting back stories which are always there in the background moulding their personalities but never interfering in the main events-just making the way they deal with the job more understandable. The atmospheric backdrop of the towers at Battersea Power Station loomed darkly adding a real touch of menace to the crime scenes and the situation that the girls found themselves in.

This book is intricately plotted, perfectly paced and written with an empathetic understanding of the world in which Marnie finds herself. I think this author has now got into her literary stride and has created a very likeable detective pairing that makes readers look forward expectantly to where they go from here. If this is your first taste of Marnie Rome then you will need to clear some time in your schedule as you will want to read her other cases as soon as you can! A well deserved 5* from me!

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

Out on April 7th 2016

Available to pre-order here

It’s Friday!

I haven’t been able to read as much this week due to it being the school Easter Holidays but I did manage to read a fair few books over the Bank Holiday weekend.

The Missing by C L Taylor

The Good Mother by A L Bird

Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean and Me by Caroline James

Bloq by Alan Jones

Vulnerable (Morgan’s of Nashville #4) by Mary Burton

Denied by Marissa Farrar

I attended a launch party for the 20th book release titled Denied by the LOVELY Marissa Farrar and was very excited to win a prize which is winging its way to me as I write this! Thankfully not full sized 😉

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So I am currently reading two books (real book downstairs and Kindle in bed is usually the way I roll nowadays-more real books since I started blogging!) I am still reading the #MysteryThriller which I LOVE and is going to be huge this summer. Keep an eye out as there could be some very exciting news regarding a cover reveal for this one TODAY!! Follow on my Twitter feed as I will retweet as soon as I can. The book I am reading on my Kindle is Tastes like Fear by Sarah Hilary so expect a review soon.

I had two approvals on netgalley this week..

I also got a free sample of S.K Tremaynes newest book on Amazon this week. I loved The Ice Twins (anyone who knows me knows I am a totally sucker for books about twins!) So was excited to get a free taster of The Fire Child. Anyone interested can download their own sample Here

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Have a lovely weekend full of books and finishing off those Easter eggs!

The Missing by C L Taylor

About this book..

You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them.

But should you…?

When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire, blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinson’s are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.

Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.

A mother’s instinct is never wrong. Or is it?

Sometimes those closest to us are the ones with the most to hide…

My review..

Well I am totally wrung out after just finishing this book, the third by C L Taylor and in my opinion her best so far. It inspired such a mixture of emotions in me and made me realise how truly talented you have to be to even attempt a psychological suspense of this calibre! I seem to have been waiting for such a long time to get my hands on a copy of The Missing but I have to say it was worth every second. It was stunning!

Claire Wilkinson is the narrator of this story-she is a mother on the edge, due to the sudden and unexpected disappearance of her 15 year old son Billy six months ago. Her family is falling apart and events are about to escalate due to information that comes following the Wilkinson family press conference that takes place near the beginning. Claire starts to have fugues (periods of amnesia) whenever something sparks a memory and worries that maybe she knows more about Billy’s disappearance than she can bare to think about!

This book is more than just a mystery. The disappearance of Billy is a catalyst really for a character driven study into the secrets and lies in a modern family. Nowadays families aren’t simple anymore, they are extended due to marriage breakdowns, step families and we now have our children live at home for much longer periods as well. Claire is a typical mum of her generation, juggling work, teenagers, parents and friendships as well as making time for a marriage to work…it’s tough out there!! As a mum who has been through those teenage years, I understood totally where Claire was coming from. Trying to develop that balance of guiding and disciplining your child but starting to let go and just hope you have done your best to raise a good adult.

Throughout the book I mistrusted everyone! They all seemed to have something to hide and the plot twisted more than a tin of spaghetti until the truth was finally exposed in a very emotional scene. It worked perfectly for me. The way it was told through Claire’s eyes, an unreliable narrator due to her memory loses, was interspersed with What’s App messages, a very modern-day way of telling a tale and you get a real sense of menace in such few words! A very topical issue was raised here with the use of social media and how our teens are at risk from that little computer they always carry in their hands-a gateway to pornography, bullying, sexting, grooming…as a parent it is terrifying that our children can have a whole life that we are no longer a part of or have any influence over. And although this is a realistically gritty plot line with some graphic language and scenes it is handled with finesse. I loved it from start to finish, it spoke to me and I know that most of us will realise how this could happen to any family…even ours.

I received a copy of this book via netgalley so many thanks to the publisher Avon Harper Collins for my ARC in return for an unbiased review.

🌳🌳🌳🌳🌳

Out on April 7th 2016

Available to buy now

The Lie by C.L Taylor

The Good Mother by A L Bird

About this book..

The greatest bond. The darkest betrayal.

Susan wakes up alone in a room she doesn’t recognise, with no memory of how she got there. She only knows that she is trapped, and her daughter is missing.

The relief that engulfs her when she hears her daughter’s voice through the wall is quickly replaced by fear.

The person who has imprisoned her has her daughter, too.

Devising a plan to keep her daughter safe, Susan begins to get closer to her unknown captor. And suddenly, she realises that she has met him before.

 

My review..

This is one of those books that you will pick up….and then not put down again until you are finished and it very much needs to be that way because of the way it is written. The reason for that I will come to that later!

Susan comes to in a locked room. She struggles to understand why. Her captor brings her food and takes her to the bathroom. He looks familiar but she can’t seem to remember why. The only thing that keeps her going with thoughts of escape is the fact that the kidnapper has also taken her daughter Cara. A grill between their rooms means they can communicate via knocks and notes to work out their plan of attack. They just need to wait for the right moment….

Well, this was one of the most interestingly original ideas I had seen committed to print in quite a while. To begin with I found it rather confusing but once I realised this was how the author needed to tell her story, I settled down to read it and read it I did in just a day. I’ve seen others say this too about this book and think that because of the way it is told you do need to read in large chunks to keep it fresh in your mind. Sorry if that sounds confusing but you will see what I mean when you read it! Every part of the plot is told from Susan’s viewpoint or by her captor. Once you find out what is going on, the story that has been told makes much more sense-I had a clue where it was going and I was nearly totally right but not quite! This seems to be the norm for books of this genre this year, to be touted with a big twist, and I’d rather they weren’t! It must be very difficult for authors to keep surprising us when we are told we won’t see twists coming! We expect a twisty plot full of red herrings or unreliable narrators in this type of book nowadays-it’s why we read them!!

I have read a couple of this authors books previously when she was writing under the name of Amy Bird. I’m not sure why she has chosen to use A L Bird on this one as for me I would have been very happy to order on the strength of her previous work (I especially enjoyed Hide and Seek which I downloaded in parts whenever I could find WiFi on my hols a couple of years ago!!). I really enjoyed The Good Mother and found it an easy-to-get-caught-up-in, suspenseful storyline once you got into the way it was written.

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

🌳🌳🌳🌳

Available to pre-order on Amazon here

Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean and Me by Caroline James

About this book..

From Cumbria to the Caribbean…

Flying solo again in their middle years, can life really begin again for Jo and Hattie? Is there hope for the newly single baby boomers and can romance happen?

Continuing the Coffee Tea… series, join Jo and Hattie as they romp into their future and prove that anything is possible!

Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me is a stand-alone read but also the sequel to Coffee Tea The Gypsy & Me which shot to #3 on Amazon and was E-Book of the week in The Sun Newspaper.

“A story about friendship and loss…is there hope for those of a certain age?”

‘The time to be happy is now…’ Jo remembers her late husband’s words but is struggling to face the lonely future that lies ahead. A heartbroken widow, Jo finds herself alone with ghostly memories at Kirkton House – a Cumbrian Manor that until recently, she ran as a thriving hotel. Her two sons have moved away, Jimmy to run a bar in Barbados, and Zach to London to pursue a career as a celebrity chef. Middle-age and widowhood loom frighteningly and Jo determines to sell up and start again, despite protestations from colourful friend, Hattie and erstwhile admirer Pete Parks.

Hattie convinces Jo to postpone any life-changing decisions by enjoying a Caribbean holiday but their holiday sets off a course of events that brings mayhem and madness to Jo and her family. Confused and anxious for her future, can life really begin again for Jo?

My review..

I haven’t read the first book about Jo and Hattie- Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy and Me-but when I was offered a review copy by Caroline James and saw that gorgeous cover and read the synopsis I knew it was a book I would enjoy. It can be read as a standalone as we are filled in at the beginning with what has happened in the years following that first book.

Jo is now a widow, her only companion is her friendly Labrador Meg as her son’s have also left the nest. Jimmy now runs a bar in the Caribbean and Zach is a Michelin star chef who is now being touted in London as the next big thing. Hattie is also on her own now that Maurice has been exposed as a serial philanderer and she is worried about Jo, who has decided to put Kirkton Manor, her country house hotel, up for sale. So she comes up with the idea of a holiday in Barbados to visit Jimmy and our fifty plus ladies leave Cumbria for a much hotter climate and much more besides!

This would have been an ideal holiday read for me as I just wanted to be sitting on a sunlounger somewhere with a cocktail in my hand like Jo and Hattie! As a lady of a similar age, I really took to the pair of friends especially Hattie who I loved for her healthy appetite for food and life! She really made me laugh with her confidence and attitude, without a care in the world about what others thought of her. Their adventures in Barbados introduced a whole host of fabulous characters although I wanted to shake Jo at times to make her realise what she had back at home-her business and a man who had loved her for a long time and was just waiting for her to realise what was under her nose the whole time!

This really is a feel good read and you can’t help but smile throughout the various situations Jo and Hattie find themselves in. It also showed an emotional side to a very real lifestyle change that can affect women in their fifties, those who have to rebuild their lives after divorce or death of a life partner. The holiday in the Caribbean is only part of this funny but sympathetic novel that helps Jo especially come to terms with the way her life has changed.

I will certainly be reading the follow up to this book Coffee, Tea, The Boomers and Me which promises more humour as we follow Jo and Hattie into the next exciting stage in their lives.

Available to buy from Amazon here