The Woman Who Met Her Match by Fiona Gibson #BookReview

About this book…

What if your first love came back on the scene . . . 30 years later?

After yet another disaster, Lorrie is calling time on online dating. She might be single in her forties, but she’s got a good job, wonderful children and she’s happy. This, Lorrie decides, is going to have to be enough.

That is, until she receives a very unexpected request from France. Antoine Rousseau, who had once turned a lonely French exchange trip into a summer of romance, wants to see her – after thirty years.

But Lorrie is a responsible woman. She can’t exactly run off to Nice with the man who broke her teenage heart . . . can she?

My review…

I have read some rather hard hitting crime and psychological thrillers recently so I needed a little “palate cleanser” and this was just the perfect book to slip into and let its humour wash all the crime horror away. I do love Fiona Gibson and her laugh out loud observations about love, life and family.

The opening chapters of this book brought back so many memories for me!! I also went on a French exchange visit back in the Eighties to visit my French penpal Anne-Yvonne although thankfully I went via train/boat/coach with a large party of sixth formers and not off on my own! My jaw dropped when I saw how Lorries mum just packed her off to make her own way to France with a few instructions on how to manage each part of her journey! Oh how times have changed!

Fast forward 30 years and the advance of social media now means that it doesn’t matter where in the world you live, you are only one click away from reconnecting with your past. And when Lorrie gets a message from the French boy who broke her heart  on that fateful trip, it sets off a chain reaction. But can love work second time around even if you don’t live in the same country? It takes a lot of courage but Lorrie to about to find out!

I bonded with the lovely Lorrie immediately! Her work ethic made me want to cheer out loud for her honesty and helpfulness, she was a true inspiration for her fellow colleagues and I just loved how people gravitated towards her. Her relationship with her children and her lodger backed up these qualities and I wanted more than anything for Lorrie to find true love. But love moves in mysterious ways and a sexy Frenchman coming back into her life was the least I could have hoped for the woman who deserved every happiness going!

I love Fiona Gibson’s writing style. She really gets into the heads of her characters, making you care about them all even Lorries mother!!! And as I romped through this feel good comedy I was hoping and praying for the happy ever after that Lorrie deserved. I find it heartwarming how many books there are now showing that older women are still kicking ass in the workplace and in their love lives. In this age of “swiping left or right” and horror stories of online dating this book was pitched just right, showing the funny side of it but also having a cautious sting in the tale. But I’m a big believer in fate and that sometimes love is found in the most unexpected places and those are the relationships that we need to cherish. It’s never too late for new beginnings!! 

Many thanks to Avon for my advanced review copy of The Woman Who Met Her Match: A funny romantic comedy that will make you laugh out loud! which is available to purchase now.

About the author…

Fiona Gibson

Fiona Gibson is the author of ten novels, including the best-selling The Woman Who Upped and Left (Avon). She also writes under the name Ellen Berry – The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane is the first in a series of three new heartwarming novels sparked by her obsession with cookbooks, and inability to stop buying them. The Ellen Berry series will follow the adventures of Della, who opens her very own bookshop, plus her fashion journalist sister and the customers who grow to love the shop.

Fiona grew up in a Yorkshire village called Goose Eye, before working on Jackie and Just Seventeen magazines – in those heady pre-internet days when it was pretty exciting to get a free plastic mirror taped to the front of your magazine. She went on to edit More! magazine where she introduced the infamous Position of the Fortnight. After having twin sons and a daughter, she started to write novels, usually at night with the house full of toddlers and builders. She was sleep deprived anyway so it really didn’t make any difference!

When she’s not writing, she’s usually drawing, painting or reading, or out walking or running in her home town of Glasgow with her collie cross, Jack. She’s a pretty poor speller but loves nothing better than starting a brand new book. The end bit is fun to write too. It’s the middle part that’s the tricky bit.

Obsession by Amanda Robson #BlogTour #GuestPost @LadySion @HelenaSheffield

I am delighted to be on the blog tour today for the debut novel by Amanda Robson with a review of Obsession and a guest post from Amanda with 5 facts you didn’t know about Carly!

About this book…

One evening, a wife asks her husband a question: who else would you go for, if you could?

It is a simple question – a little game – that will destroy her life.

Carly and Rob are a perfect couple. They share happy lives with their children and their close friends Craig and Jenny. They’re lucky. But beneath the surface, no relationship is simple: can another woman’s husband and another man’s wife ever just be good friends?

Little by little, Carly’s question sends her life spiralling out of control, as she begins to doubt everything she thought was true. Who can she trust? The man she has promised to stick by forever, or the best friend she has known for years? And is Carly being entirely honest with either of them?

Obsession is a dark, twisting thriller about how quickly our lives can fall apart when we act on our desires.

Guest post…

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Carly

 

 

1. When she was a teenager she developed a crush on Robbie Williams, her favourite member of Take That. She was devastated when he left the band. She managed to get tickets to see one of their reunion performances at Wembley in July 2011. Carly made Rob come home early from their summer holiday that year to attend the concert. Rob didn’t enjoy it. Boy bands are not his thing. He prefers classical music. Or heavy rock. There isn’t very much that Carly doesn’t know about Robbie Williams. She has doted on him since she was twelve years old. High on her evening alcohol buzz she frequently dances around the kitchen to his latest album – ‘The Heavy Entertainment Show.’’ “Motherfucker,” is her favourite track.

2. Carly never leaves the house without wearing makeup. She never even leaves her bedroom without slapping some on. Her motto is – always make an effort to look good. A lipstick, blusher and green eye-shadow sort of girl, the makeup she wears is long lasting and expensive: Christian Dior, Shiseido, Yves Saint Laurent. She has lipsticks scattered around the house for instant access. When the electricity failed one evening, she even put her make-up on in the dark.

3. Carly has had over a hundred boyfriends. She started dating when she was thirteen, but she already looked about sixteen by then. Her first date was with a young man named Edwin Prosser who was several years older than her. ‘Date,’ was a bit of an exaggeration. They went for an evening walk in the park. When they kissed he put his tongue in her mouth. Their relationship didn’t progress. When she was young, if somebody asked Carly out, more often than not, her sense of adventure enticed her to say yes.  

4. Carly hates opera music. She finds its melody too complex. To her it sounds clunky, contorted, and strangulated. And she doesn’t like the fact that she can’t understand the words. She has visited Glynbourne, Garcington, and the Grange, to please Rob, but apart from enjoying dressing up and drinking champagne, the rest of the occasion washes over her. Carly thinks “The Cunning Little Vixen” is the worst opera ever written. So kooky and ridiculous. Janacek must have been on high on something when he wrote it.

5. Even though Carly doesn’t like to admit it, her favourite radio station is Radio 2. (If you ask her she’ll say its Radio 1.) The Jeremy Vine show is her favourite. She listens to it at lunchtime in the café across the road from the surgery, earphones plugged into her iPhone. She is never very pleased when Jenni follows her across the road into the café, shares a table with her and interrupts her. Jenni can be such an insensitive bitch.

 

My review…

Oh my days! This book! I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t this dark, tormenting domestic drama. Little did I realise what treats lay in store for me when I started this beauty because once I went in, that was me for the rest of the evening! I was hooked!

There are four narrators here, two married couples who offer us different viewpoints of the relationships between them all. Be warned though that none of them are particularly likeable characters and they may have you growling at your book in frustration at times! And also make sure you’re not easily offended as the sexual element is quite detailed, though surprisingly unerotic. But the twists and turns of the plot here mean you are never entirely sure where your sympathies lie and my opinions chopped and changed throughout depending on who was talking. The first few chapters were a bit of an eye opener for me especially when it came to Carly, a wife and mother who seemed to have it all but who remained strangely detached from her own life. One drunken night whilst on holiday she seems to take great pleasure in stirring things up with her husband and asking him who else would he go for it if he could? And the answer to that question sends them spiralling onto a morally self indulgent collision course. And to be honest I was just sitting back watching them all, trying to work out who had their finger closest to the self destruct button and who they were going to take down with them when they pushed it! I mean, these people were parents!! Whatever happened to family first? And as I got to the final few chapters my reading speed slowed right down as I didn’t want to read the ending even though I still had no idea what that ending was going to be! How can an author make me care so much about what happens to people I don’t even like?!

I found this to be a skin crawling, tense and disturbingly voyeuristic look at the shockwaves emanating from these toxic relationships.  It became MY obsession whilst reading it and I have come away feeling decidedly grubby but knowing that this is one book that I will remember for quite some time.
Many thanks to the publisher for my advanced review copy of Obsession: A shocking psychological thriller where love affairs turn deadly is available to purchase at Amazon UK from 4th May 2017.

Watch Me by @TheAngelaClarke @AvonBooksUK #BlogTour #Giveaway

Todays blog post is a little bit special as I have an AMAZING giveaway to celebrate being on the blog tour for Watch Me by Angela Clarke! But first let me tell you a little bit about this fabulous book…..

About this book…

YOU HAVE SIX SECONDS TO READ THIS MESSAGE…

The body of a 15-year-old is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like suicide, until a second girl disappears.

This time, the message is sent directly to the Metropolitan Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing.

DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton will stop at nothing to find her. But whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking.

YOU HAVE 24 HOURS TO SAVE THE GIRL’S LIFE.
MAKE THEM COUNT.

My review…

I love this series by Angela Clarke, its probably one of the most relevant to today’s world of technology where people live out their lives online, often without a thought that once it’s out there that’s it, forever sitting in a dark corner of if the internet! There have been many cases of “revenge porn” reported in the media recently, a crime that most people had never even heard of until a few years ago, but is now scarily very commonplace.

We are back in the company of Freddie and Nasreen, last seen hunting the hashtag killer back in Follow Me. Don’t worry if you havent read that book though as Watch Me works perfectly well as a standalone. This time Snapchat plays a huge role in bringing the crimes to the attention of the police. Nasreen is fighting a few personal battles but these need to be put on the back burner when a countdown timer begins-and its counting down the hours and minutes left to save the life of a young girl. And that certainly wracked up the tension as we watch Nas and Freddie dig deep to solve all the clues before its too late. All I can say is don’t start this book if you want a decent nights sleep! You will either be up most of the night just reading “one more chapter” or even if you do put it down, this plot will be swirling around your head making it impossible to relax. I think its the realism that makes it so scary, that crimes can become so accessible though social media. And Angela Clarke knows her stuff here, keeping her storyline fresh and current with her intense writing style and chapter cliffhangers. I had no idea where the plot was heading so just sat back and let it build up to that brilliantly gripping conclusion.

I really enjoyed this and can’t wait for another foray into the darkside of internet technology. These books are very of their time and I think readers of all ages will find them absolutely fascinating, I know I did! Definitely recommended by me!

Watch Me was published on 12th January by Avon Books and is available to purchase from Amazon UK here.

About the author and exclusive video…

Angela Clarke is an author, columnist and playwright. Her debut crime novel Follow Me (Avon) is out now. Watch Me is the second in the Social Media Murders Series.

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Is Technology the Creepiest Thing in the World is an exclusive video from Angela Clarke over on YouTube so just click on the link and it will take you straight there.

Giveaway…

Today’s giveaway is a signed copy of Julia Crouch’s Her Husband’s Lover – out in Trade Paperback, 26 Jan 2017.

She stole her husband – now she wants to steal her life. Can Louisa stop Sophie from ruining her life?

‘Psychological thrillers don’t come much better than this’
Clare Mackintosh

You can check out my review of Her Husband’s Lover by Julia Crouch  here.

So to win a signed copy of Her Husband’s Lover PLUS a copy of Watch Me by Angela Clarke this is all you need to do!

Enter by retweeting my pinned tweet about this giveaway over on Twitter. If you don’t follow me already on Twitter I am @jocatrobertson.

I will pick a winner at random and will pass the winners name and address to Avon Books who will send the prize books out directly to the winner.

Please note that this giveaway is UK ONLY sorry.

Ends Sunday 29th January at midnight

Good luck everyone and if you’re not lucky this time make sure you follow the tour for a different book giveaway every day!

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Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington #BlogTour @sam_carrington1 @kaishajayneh

Today I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for Saving Sophie to celebrate the release on 15th December of the paperback. Thank you to Kaisha Holloway of The Writing Garnet for organising and inviting me to be involved.

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About this book…

A teenage girl is missing. Is your daughter involved, or is she next?

Your daughter is in danger. But can you trust her?

When Karen Finch’s seventeen-year-old daughter Sophie arrives home after a night out, drunk and accompanied by police officers, no one is smiling the morning after. But Sophie remembers nothing about how she got into such a state.

Twelve hours later, Sophie’s friend Amy has still not returned home. Then the body of a young woman is found.

Karen is sure that Sophie knows more than she is letting on. But Karen has her own demons to fight. She struggles to go beyond her own door without a panic attack.

As she becomes convinced that Sophie is not only involved but also in danger, Karen must confront her own anxieties to stop whoever killed one young girl moving on to another – Sophie.

Extract…

Karen sat with her knees up and her back against the soft velvet-covered headboard, tapping the screen of her phone.
‘What are you doing?’ Mike asked, walking around to his side of the bed.
‘Texting Liz.’
‘For God’s sake, Karen, it’s midnight. Leave it.’ He sat on the edge of the bed, peeling off his trousers. Small change from his pockets scattered on the wooden floor, clinking and rolling everywhere. ‘Darn it!’
‘I need to know if Amy’s home safe.’ Karen spoke the words quietly, thinking if she said them softly, he’d understand her need for reassurance.
‘Sophie’s so pissed up she wouldn’t have a clue who she’d been out with. Anyway, she obviously got separated from them and now they’ll be in the club until three. Do not worry Liz about it. Just go to sleep.’ He was tired. Irritable. Karen knew he hated it when she couldn’t let things go.
‘Yeah, right, like sleep is possible now. I think it’s more than just alcohol.’
‘Relax.’ He bounced up and down, settling himself and yanked the duvet up over his shoulder. He turned away from her.
‘Mike,’ she pleaded, adamant that the conversation should continue despite his warning tone. She had things playing on her mind: disturbing things. ‘Don’t you think she looked like she’d taken drugs? Or that someone had drugged her? The way she was talking . . .’
‘Are you for real?’ Mike flung the duvet back off, exposing his muscled torso, and sat up, eyes glaring. ‘Don’t you think the police would’ve been a bit more concerned if they suspected something untoward had happened? Just because you used to work with a bunch of screwed-up criminals, it doesn’t mean every time Sophie goes out she’s going to be targeted by would-be rapists.’
Karen smarted. ‘You were the one who shouted at Sophie, said anything could’ve happened – weren’t they your words?’
He rubbed his palms aggressively up and down his face, groaning.
‘I meant she could have been knocked over, ended up in a ditch somewhere, and yes, it did cross my mind someone could have taken advantage of her. But that clearly didn’t happen. What you’re saying is that someone purposely drugged her. I’ve no idea what goes through your head. Now please let me sleep, we’ll talk to her in the morning. It’ll all be some pathetic teenage drama, some stupid fall-out with Amy, that’s all.’ He returned to his position, facing the window with his back towards her.
A tear rolled down Karen’s cheek and hit the duvet cover. She stared at the mascara-stained drop for a moment, then ran her fingertip over it, smudging it. How could he be so insensitive? His irritation had pushed aside all he knew about her, her own traumatic experience: the attack, two years ago almost to the day. Had he forgotten why she was this way? She looked down absently. The cover would need washing now. She lifted her head, staring for a while at the back of her husband of twenty-three years. Then she continued the text.

Hi Liz, sorry to text this late, was wondering if you’ve heard from Amy? Sophie has been brought back by the police in a right state – I don’t know why she wasn’t with the others! I hope the rest of the girls have fared better. Text me when you get this please.
She put the phone on vibrate and placed it under her pillow. Snatching her sertraline tablets from the bedside table, she popped two in her mouth and swallowed without water, then went to check on Sophie.

My review…

I love discovering new authors especially when I get that lovely tingly feeling reading the first few pages of a book and I think to myself “this one is going to be a good one!” There has been a bit of a buzz about Saving Sophie on the social media platforms recently and sometimes that can be a bit of a let down when you actually come to read the book itself but in this case, not only did I really enjoy it, I am now desperate to read her next book based on the blurb at the back of Saving Sophie!

I could tell from the start that Sam Carrington MUST have some experience of teenage girls as this first chapter is every mother’s worst nightmare. When Sophie is brought home by the police after having been found wandering the town the worse for wear, it’s obvious that something is very wrong. She seems more than drunk, she isn’t making sense and where is her friend? The complex mother/teenage daughter relationship is brilliantly brought to life here (I should know! Enough said!) and it raises the tension levels right from the start especially as there is also a discrepancy in the parenting styles between Karen and her husband Mike.

Told from three viewpoints (Karen, Sophie and DI Lindsay Wade) this psychological suspense really does contain some unexpected surprises. The second half of the book racked up the tension for me personally and I found it impossible to put down until I had finished. It’s creepy feel really did make my skin crawl at times especially reading the emails that were occasionally interspersed that also seemed to also have something to do with Sophie and the night her friend disappears. This book is very much of our time especially with its use of social media and technology and how it seems to affect the lives of teenagers nowadays.

There is so much that could be discussed about this book making it ideal for a book club debate. Karen’s agoraphobia for instance and how it’s affecting her relationships not only with her own family but with her friends too. It certainly made for uncomfortable reading when she was forced to put Sophies safety above her own debilitating condition.

Although we are given an in-depth look into the thoughts and consequent actions of Karen and Sophie through their alternating chapters, I didn’t feel I got to know DI Wade as well and would loved to have had more of an insight into what made her tick and act the way she did. Maybe I am just too used to the Detective being the one with “the story” though as she did make an interesting contrast to the complexity of Karen and Sophie. Hopefully though, when we meet her again this will be resolved as I think there is a fascinating character there waiting to be revealed.

Saving Sophie did what many books struggle to do nowadays…it surprised me! I really liked Sam Carringtons writing style and I will definitely be looking out for her next book.

Meet the author…

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Sam Carrington lives in Devon with her husband and three children. She worked for the NHS for fifteen years, during which time she qualified as a nurse. Following the completion of a Psychology degree she went to work for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Programme Facilitator. Her experiences within this field inspired her writing. She left the service to spend time with her family and to follow her dream of being a novelist. SAVING SOPHIE is her debut psychological thriller novel.
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And make sure you follow the rest of the tour!

The Secret by Katerina Diamond #BookReview @AvonBooksUK @TheVenomousPen

About this book…

Can you keep a secret? Your life depends on it…

Bridget Reid has a secret, one that could get her killed… If she can escape the man who is keeping her locked in a basement bedroom.

DS Imogen Grey is good at keeping secrets – truths she’d never reveal to her colleagues at Exeter Police. She worked hard to get where she is – she nearly died for it. Now her past is catching up with her…

As DS Grey and her partner DS Adrian Miles search for Bridget, they uncover a terrifying web of abuse, betrayal and murder. And they realise that some secrets are better left buried…

My review…

I recently shared my review of  The Teacher by Katerina Diamond again in preparation for the publication of The Secret as I wanted to remind myself and other of how gloriously gruesome and compelling it was! I said in that review that I was keen to see DS Imogen Grey team up again with DI Adrian Miles as it was their chemistry and intriguing backstories that really made The Teacher for me. I also followed the blog tour tour for that book where Katerina Diamond shared a little snippet of a short story featuring this pair on a different blog everyday and I just loved that! So there’s been a little bit of hype (finger in a cupcake anyone?!) doing the rounds on social media about The Secret and I was keen to see what all the fuss was about. And these covers are amazing! They are some of the best around at the moment as they are totally eye-catching but does the inside match up to the stunning outside?

The answer is a big fat yes! For me, The Secret is even better than The Teacher! I feel that the author has settled down into her style and delved more deeply into her characters psyche so they are well developed, more rounded and totally believable. There’s still that little frisson of chemistry between the DSs but there is so much going on in Imogens life that she is going to need that friendly shoulder to cry on when things start to become much more personal that she could ever have expected. I absolutely adore this pairing of police officers and again felt as though they have been around for years.

The story here is just as gritty and topical as before. Be prepared for bad language, drug abuse and graphic content but the whole plot determines these necessary and give the book it’s feeling of realism. I loved the fact that the plot wasn’t predictable, there were plenty of twists and turns so that the reader is pretty much discovering reveals the same time as the police do. We find out so much more about why Imogen transferred to Exeter from her previous force and there’s also a few shocks in store for Adrian, one of which I’m sure needs a book all of its own! The pair are looking into the disappearance of an undercover police officer who is being kept “safe” by one of the creepiest characters I’ve read about in a while. The flashback technique is used to great effect here as we observe the journey from young boy to psychopath within the family from hell!

This is another cracker of a read from Katerina Diamond. I enjoyed it from start to finish. It’s uncomfortable reading at times but totally gripping throughout and on the strength of The Secret, I will be preordering her next book as soon as its available.

I received a copy of this book via netgalley and have chosen to write this review after reading.

The Secret: The petrifying new crime book from bestseller Katerina Diamond unpublished by Avon Books on 20th October and is available to buy her from Amazon UK

About the author…

Katerina Diamond was born in Weston in the seventies. She moved to Thessaloniki in Greece and attended Greek school where she learnt Greek in just 6 months. After her parents’ divorce, they relocated to Devon. After school, and working in her uncle’s fish and chip shop, she went (briefly) to university at Derby, where she met her husband and had two children. Katerina now lives in the East Kent Coast with her husband and children.

Her debut novel, The Teacher, was a No.1 bestseller in ebook, and a Sunday Times bestseller in paperback.