Last Seen by Lucy Clarke @lucyclarkebooks #amreading #BookReview

About this book…

Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.

Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.

Twisty, pacy, and superbly plotted, Last Seen is the perfect psychological page-turner for fans of Clare Mackintosh and Sabine Durrant.

My review…

I adore Lucy Clarke’s books and, due to their recurring themes of water and the sea, I usually try to save her latest and take it on my Summer holiday with me! Every book so far has been the ultimate beach read but Last Seen has a definite edge for me due to the wonderfully described beach hut setting that conjured up picture perfect, warm and sunny days by the sea. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the main characters lived in a beach hut before so I loved the whole “living the simple life” ethos. Having been born and raised in Norfolk, I have always had a fascination for those brightly coloured little huts that can only be compared to The Tardis…. “it’s bigger on the inside!” Where I lived there were very strict rules about not sleeping in them but everywhere is different and if I had one of the gorgeous but expensive huts in somewhere like Southwold then I would definitely want to spend every second of every single day and night there!

The plot here is a heart wrenching one for any parent to face, let alone one living right on the waters edge. When Sarah’s son goes missing, she firstly thinks that it is due to a row between them on his birthday. But as the days pass by, things come to light that may mean all is not as it first seemed. There are secrets galore to uncover but will any of them lead to the answer of what has happened to Jacob?

What an atmospheric slow burner this book was! I couldn’t put it down until I had discovered what had happened to Jacob! There’s a lot tightly packed into the plot and lots of teasers so that you think you know what’s going on but ultimately, if you’re like me, then Lucy Clarke will keep you in suspense right up until the very end. There are many themes twisting themselves throughout the narrative, friendship and loyalty, jealousy and suspicion and what it really means to be a mother. I felt for Sarah as she fought her feelings that something was seriously wrong when she realised Jacob was first missing. She did what many parents of teenagers do, tried to give her child the freedom to spread their wings but it’s difficult when that goes against every protective bone in a mother’s body! Both Sarah and Isla were clearly drawn characters and their relationships with their sons, and especially with each other, were cleverly constructed throughout. There were many eye opening surprises along the way to maintain the level of tension and the readers interest.

This is a brilliantly written book that will tug at your heartstrings. I almost felt like I was there on the beach with Sarah, looking out to sea, tasting the salty breeze as it swirled around my body and feeling the warm sunshine spreading itself over my skin. In fact, when I took my sandals off whilst reading it I half expected a little gritty pile of shimmering sand to fall out of them. So if you want to feel like you’re on holiday but you’re only in your back garden then this evocative book is the one for you.

I feel like I have been waiting forever for Last Seen to be published and I’m now incredibly sad that it’s all over. The final few pages had the hairs on the back of my neck standing to attention as I felt the summer slowly fade away. It was an emotional farewell, both to the characters that I’d come to love and the questions in my head that had finally been answered. Highly recommended by me!

Last Seen: A summer thriller full of secrets and twists, a gripping read for 2017! Is available to purchase now at Amazon UK

Meet the author…

Lucy Clarke

Novelist, traveller and fresh air enthusiast, Lucy Clarke is the author of four novels, including the Richard & Judy Book Club pick, THE SEA SISTERS.

Lucy is married to a professional windsurfer and, together with their two young children, they spend their winters travelling and their summers at home on the south coast of England. Lucy writes from a beach hut.

http://www.lucy-clarke.com

Blood Sisters by Jane Corry #BookReview 

About this book…

THREE LITTLE GIRLS SET OFF TO SCHOOL ONE SUNNY MORNING.

WITHIN AN HOUR, ONE OF THEM IS DEAD.

Two women. Two versions of the truth.

Kitty lives in a care home. She can’t speak properly, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here. At least that’s the story she’s sticking to.

Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it – this is her chance to finally make things right.

But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that sunny morning in May.

And only another life will do…

My review…

Having read and enjoyed My Husbands Wife by Jane Corry I was really looking forward to Blood Sisters and I have to start by saying that I think this is the better novel of the two. Her latest book is packed full of twists, turns and red herrings galore and I became a dizzy mess whilst reading it, trusting everyone and no one! Jane Corry seems to have a talent for creating unreliable narrators who aren’t always very likeable and she puts that expertise to good use here in Blood Sisters.

It did take me a while to get into the rhythm of the narrative to begin with as it is pretty much a slow burner for the first half while we get to meet Alison and Kitty in their respective lives. Alison is an artist and teacher who goes to work in an open prison supervising art classes for the inmates, an unusual decision for someone who is obviously so traumatised by a past event that she doesn’t like to think, let alone talk, about it. Because of her introverted personality I found her very hard to relate to in the first half of the book. Once we found out more about her past and what happened leading up to “that day” I felt I understood her better although I still struggled slightly as she always seemed to be holding something of herself back. Kitty, on the other hand is an open book to us from the minute we meet her as we can hear every explosive thought in her head. Unfortunately though, no one else is able to hear her musings as she has lost the power to communicate verbally since the incident that caused her disability. The scenes in the care home were, at times, harrowing to read about but also incredibly heartbreaking as we could feel those powerful frustrations stemming from Kitty as she tries to grab hold of her flyaway memories and express herself to all those around her. I loved her internal voice and found myself wanting her to remain completely unaware of past events as those memories were obviously going to be very distressing for her if her reactions to certain people and situations were anything to go by!

There was a gasp out loud moment for me part the way through when I finally figured out where the plot was heading after much theorising. And after the slowly built up storyline at the start, the second half was much more of an unputdownable quest for answers until all the threads started to come together. I love it when a book surprises me and this one, with its tightly woven plot and unreliable narrators, maintained a high level of interest throughout as I waited for the next shocking plot twist. Towards the end some of those twists felt a little contrived and rather convenient but on the whole I found the ending totally gripping as it wasn’t entirely what I had been expecting! 

This one is going to be on everyone’s holiday reading list and it thoroughly deserves its spot on all those sunloungers this summer. Enjoy!

Many thanks to Annie Hollands for my review copy of Blood Sisters: The next addictive thriller from the bestselling author of My Husband’s Wife which is published by Penguin on 29th June 2017

Meet the author…

Jane Corry

Jane Corry is a writer and journalist who has written regularly for numerous newspapers and magazines including The Daily Telegraph Weekend section, the Mail on Sunday and Woman. She has spent time working as the writer-in-residence of a high security prison for men – an experience that helped inspire My Husband’s Wife, her début thriller. ‘I love twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the very end! My husband says I’m a nightmare to watch dramas with as I love to work out who did it before the final revelation!’

You can find Jane on Twitter at @JaneCorryAuthor and on Facebook at JaneCorryAuthor.

Jane runs regular writing workshops and speaks at literary festivals all over the world, including The Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy. Until her recent move to Devon, she was a tutor in creative writing at Oxford University. She is also an associate member of the Royal Literary Fund.

Many of Jane’s ideas come during her morning dog-jog along the beach followed by a dip in her wetsuit. (She’s an all-year-round swimmer provided the sea isn’t dangerous.) Jane also loves tennis, walking, reading, yoga, the ‘Quiet’ train carriage (a great ‘office’ for writing) and her family. She’s still coming to terms with being an empty-nester but makes up for it with lots of long-distance nagging! Jane’s second husband was a bachelor family friend who is also Godfather to her children. He makes her laugh every day although they can’t agree on how to load the dishwasher!

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips #BookReview @GinPhillips17 @TransworldBooks

About this book…

Lincoln is a good boy. At the age of four, he is curious, clever and well behaved. He does as his mum says and knows what the rules are.

‘The rules are different today. The rules are that we hide and do not let the man with the gun find us.’

When an ordinary day at the zoo turns into a nightmare, Joan finds herself trapped with her beloved son. She must summon all her strength, find unexpected courage and protect Lincoln at all costs – even if it means crossing the line between right and wrong; between humanity and animal instinct.

It’s a line none of us would ever normally dream of crossing.

But sometimes the rules are different.

My review…

I probably couldn’t have chosen a better week to read Fierce Kingdom. After the recent events in Manchester, I had the difficult task of trying to explain to my granddaughter that sometimes the world can be an evil place. I told her that as adults we will always be there to protect her but that she also needed to be aware that to do this we may have to ask her to follow our instructions without hesitation, or asking why, if we ever need to keep her safe. I hated the fact that by saying this I have somehow taken away some of her childhood innocence but after reading this, I’m so glad that I did.

This has to be one of the most breathtaking and terrifying books I have ever read. It’s hits the ground running from the first few pages and doesn’t let up until the very end. Talk about a parents worse nightmare! And coming on the heels of recent atrocities, there are plenty of thought provoking happenings here that will have you questioning exactly how you would react if ever placed in a similar situation.

If Fierce Kingdom had been a film (and I would be VERY surprised if it isn’t snapped up by a production company very quickly!) then I would have been watching it from behind a cushion! My heart was in my mouth for pretty much the whole way through. The tension built to such an extent that at one point I realised I had been holding my breath and acting out in alongside Joan as she’s desperately trying to keep her child safe. And although mainly told from Joan’s POV at times we do also gets to see inside the head of the gunman stalking them which made for uncomfortable reading with its very relevant insights into what makes someone turn against their fellow citizens.

This book demands to be read in one intense sitting, it makes more sense to read it in the “real time” that it’s told in. So do make sure you have nothing else planned to do with your three hours as once you’re  immersed in this tense and emotional adrenaline fuelled rush, you’re not going to able to tear yourself away! That is unless you have a small child and then you are probably going to want to hug them so tight they are going to do that “I love you but this is going on for far too long and I need to wriggle out of this embarrassing mum hug and go and play” thing they do.

Gin Phillips writes like a dream, able to conjure up images in your head quickly both of scenarios and her characters. And using her narrative like a protective weapon against the evil her characters are facing, she explores both the best and the worst of human nature and our “fight or flight” survival instincts. I’m still thinking about this novel days after finishing it -I want to go back to it and not have to leave Flora and Lincoln but to stay with their characters and follow them after that final page. That’s the sign of a BRILLIANT book for me and Fierce Kingdom has shot it’s way into my top books of 2017 so far and I’ve read A LOT of good books this year! I am highly recommending it to everyone I know!

I won a copy of Fierce Kingdom in a Goodreads giveaway. It will be published by Transworld on 15th June 2017.

Meet the author…

Gin Phillips grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, and has been writing for as long as she can remember. After earning a degree in Political Journalism, Gin worked as a freelance magazine writer for nearly a decade. She’s lived in Ireland, Thailand, New York, and Washington, D.C. Gin now lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, her kids, and her schnoodle.

Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown #BookReview


About this book…

After sixteen years apart sisters Jessica and Emily are reunited. With the past now behind them, the warmth they once shared quickly returns and before long Jess has moved into Emily’s comfortable island home. Life couldn’t be better. But when baby Daisy disappears while in Jess’s care, the perfect life Emily has so carefully built starts to fall apart.

Was Emily right to trust her sister after everything that happened before?

My Review…

I have to admit that this is the first book that I’ve read by Isabel Ashdown as she isn’t an author I’ve come across before. But now that I’ve read Little Sister I think I need to rectify that. I fell head over heels in love with her writing style and just didn’t want this book to end!

I actually read a sample of this book on netgalley and was so desperate to read the rest that I pre-ordered it straight away. I entered competitions to try to win a copy so I could read it sooner but had no luck. So a huge thank you must go to Tracy Fenton at TBConFB who provided me with a review copy of Little Sister and made me a very happy book blogger!

Little Sister is a perfect example of my favourite genre. It has at its heart the relationship between sisters Emily and Jess who have been estranged for the past sixteen years. When Emily’s baby daughter goes missing whilst Jess is babysitting, it brings back memories for both sisters and past grievances come flooding back. But will visiting the past solve Daisys disappearance?

I love a dysfunctional family drama and here we meet one gradually submerging in the secrets and lies that threaten to overwhelm them. The slow burning build up of tension was beautifully crafted from the start and I was completely gripped, desperate to turn the pages to solve the mystery hidden within them but not wanting it to finish. As the threads within the story unravelled I was kept constantly on my toes, trying to guess where it was heading with its shocking twists and constant surprises, until I couldn’t bare to put it down for one second. And that ending!!! I actually sat holding the book after I had finished it just to let those last few pages resonate fully.

This has has been one of my most lusted after books of 2017 so far and I’m so pleased to report back that it didn’t disappoint one little bit! Highly recommended by me.

Little Sister which is published by Trapeze on 27th April 2017 and is available to purchase here from Amazon UK.

Meet the author…

Isabel Ashdown

Dark, compelling and beautifully twisty … have you read Isabel yet?

Isabel Ashdown was born in London and grew up on the south coast of England. The opening of her debut won the Mail on Sunday Novel Competition, going on to be published as GLASSHOPPER (Myriad, 2009) and being named as one of the best books of the year. Today, she writes full-time, walks daily, and volunteers in a local school for the charity Pets as Therapy. Isabel lives in Sussex with her carpenter husband, their two children and dogs Charlie and Leonard.

Remember Me by Lynda Renham #BookReview @Lyndarenham

About this book…

A new neighbour becomes a new friend. She looks up to you. She admires you, but is it you she wants? You begin to wonder if she wants your husband, or even your child. But then you realise, she wants your life.

When Sharni and Tom move into 24 The Pines, it seems like Clare and Chris have the perfect neighbours. Sharni is always there to help, especially with childcare for Clare’s two-year-old, Ben. But Clare can’t shake off the feelings of anxiety that assail her whenever Sharni is near. Is Clare just being overprotective, or are her feelings justified? As Sharni‘s influence touches everyone around her, Clare finds herself fighting for her sanity as well her family.

My review…

I have loved Lynda Renham’s previous books which have been humorous women’s fiction so I will rather surprised, and incredibly intrigued, to find out that she had written Remember Me which is a psychological thriller! I loved the cover when I first saw it so I was very keen, but ever so slightly cautious, to start reading. Would Lynda be able to make a successful move over to the dark side? Well, I’m pleased to tell you that not only does she manage it very well indeed, this is also the book to pull me kicking and screaming from the reading slump I’ve been suffering from recently! It is BRILLIANT and I think Lynda has now found her niche in the very busy psychological suspense market, and I hope she stays there for the foreseeable future!

I think we have all met women like Sharni before, someone who seems to admire other women but shows it in a rather unorthodox way. Having moved in next door to Clare and Chris, with her husband Tom, Sharni starts showing an unhealthy interest in Clare’s life and starts copying her clothes, her home furnishings but worst of all trying to steal the affections of Clare’s son, Ben. Clare does have some sympathy for her new friend but when Sharni seems to be making moves on Chris, she decides its time to back off. But is it already too late?

This book really did have it all for me. It had the shocks and surprises, the twists, the unreliable narrator, the woman in peril, the unknown narrator and I loved every single page of it! I especially loved the “Single, White, Female” feel to it that built up to a powerful and dramatic finale.  The way the plot gradually unfolded was so believable as Sharni gradually infiltrated Clare’s family, friends and workplace. Honestly, I just couldn’t put this book down! I have always loved Lynda’s writing style so it was wonderful to see that it translated well to a different genre for her. More please!

Thank you to the author and Raucous publishing for my review copy of Remember Me: The gripping psychological thriller with a jaw-dropping twist. which is available to purchase now from Amazon UK.

Meet the author…

Lynda Renham

Lynda Renham is famous for her romantic comedy novels. She has been called A Comedian in a Book, Chicklit Royalty and A Comic Genius. Her writing style has been likened to Sophie Kinsella but is refreshingly down to earth with characters that become your friends. Lynda is a prolific writer, blogger and when not writing can usually be found wasting her time on Facebook.

Lynda lives in Oxfordshire with her second husband and cat. Her web page: http://www.renham.co.uk and Twitter: @lyndarenham

Undercurrent by J A Baker #BookReview @Bloodhoundbook

About this book…

Phoebe and her disabled husband, Martyn, move into a new house in a village on the edge of County Durham. They plan to lead a quiet existence, a set up that suits them both.

Then Anna, who lives over the road and is bored of spending her days alone, seeks friendship with Phoebe and events take a dark turn.

Phoebe has secrets and is haunted by her past and Anna’s arrival in her life may prove to be the catalyst for her undoing.

What is Phoebe hiding and why are she and her husband so reclusive?

When Anna gets caught in a storm and is rescued by Phoebe the truth becomes apparent and Anna is thrown into danger.

Is there a difference between madness and evil?

Some friendships can be murder.

My review…

I had heard an awful lot about this book from the blog tour that has taken place recently so that tagline is true, this IS the thriller everyone is talking about! Although saying that, this isn’t a “thriller” as such, but more of a slow burning , character driven suspense that keeps you on your toes with a select cast of interesting personalities-none of whom were particularly likeable!

I just loved the setting here and the use of the river that flowed through the narrative as pretty much the star of the show! It played its part well involving itself in the lives of all the characters past and present. And I actually found it comforting as I could practically hear it bubbling away as the book progressed, especially when Anna goes walking alongside it and ends up in trouble.

From the start I didn’t trust Phoebe or her husband and as their story opened up, I also started to get quite strong negative feelings about their son Tom. How could he just up and leave to get on with his life when it’s blatantly obvious that his parents aren’t coping? I really felt for Anna though as her life revolved around the family who were taking her for granted and she was living a life that wasn’t fulfilling her at all. The excitement of a new neighbour must have been difficult for her to resist without realising the dangers she is about to unleash. It’s certainly put me off taking a freshly baked cake around to anyone new to my neighbourhood (now that would lead to acts of violence as my baking is terrible!)

This is an enjoyable debut with a fabulous prologue that really creates a desire to invest yourself fully in the plot as it unfolds. I think many people will be shocked by the dark and rather disturbing undercurrent running throughout and, whilst it didn’t shock me quite as much as it has done others, I still found myself totally gripped enough to read it in one session.

Thank you to Bloodhound Books for my review copy of  Undercurrent which is available to purchase from the 28th March 2017 as an ebook from Amazon UK

Meet the author…

J.A. Baker
J.A.BAKER was born and brought up in the north east of England and has had a love of language for as long as she can remember.
After gaining an MA in Education & Applied Linguistics with the Open University, she found herself with spare time and embarked on doing something she always wanted to do – write a novel.
She has a love of local history and genealogy and enjoys reading many genres of books but is an addict of psychological thrillers.
In December 2016 she was signed by Bloodhound Books who published Undercurrent. J.A. Baker is currently working on her second novel.
She has four adult children and a grandchild, and lives in a village near Darlington with her husband and dog.
You find out more about J.A.Baker by visiting her website at jabakerauthor.com

Close To Me by Amanda Reynolds #BookReview

About this book…

She can’t remember the last year. Her husband wants to keep it that way.

Dramatic psychological suspense for fans of Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret, Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go, and Linda Green’s While My Eyes Were Closed.

When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia – she’s lost a whole year of memories.

A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?

She can’t remember what she did – or what happened the night she fell.

But she’s beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.

My review…

Now everyone knows I LOVE a dysfunctional family (rumours that this is because it shows my own family in a slightly better light are of course unfounded!!) so I was totally tempted by the blurb of Close To Me which seemed right up my street, with family secrets lying at the heart of this memory loss suspense.

I wasn’t sure if I would take to Jo but as we shared a name and are of a similar age I wanted to give her a chance. Jo is struggling after a fall has left her with amnesia, not a total memory loss though, just of the last year. And it’s pretty obvious that her family are all keeping secrets about things that have happened in that year. Jo is having a few flashbacks though and although they seem to be rather erotic in nature, she has always been a faithful and loving wife……hasn’t she? Could her lost year really be hiding THAT much? As the plot unfold in the days following her “accident” we also get glimpses of the life Jo was living leading up to it. And as the plot progressed I actually came to like Jo and felt an empathy with her that came easier than I had thought it would.

One of the things I liked about Close To Me was the family dynamics and the rather realistic dramatic reactions to things that were happening. It came across like a reality show at times, with “looks” between different family members, non communicative children and lots of emotional responses once hidden secrets had been revealed. With Jo being of the age she was, she had to deal with “empty nest syndrome” as well which cruelly often coincides with the menopause which can make women more emotional and sensitive as well as having a dramatic effect on their sex life. Jo thinks she may have had an affair but if so who with? And is that the reason that she feels her fall wasn’t an accident? Due to the way the story was set out, sometimes we could see what had lead to events before Jo did but the twists and turns towards the end weren’t the ones that I had been expecting! I trusted nobody in this book and that’s just the way I like it!

I  read a lot of books now that have similar themes so it does take a lot to stand out for me but I did rather enjoy Close To Me and even read it in one session which says it all.

Close To Me was published on 31st March 2017 by Wildfire and is available to purchase from Amazon UK

Meet the author…

Amanda Reynolds
Amanda Reynolds is an author and creative writing tutor. Her debut novel, Close To Me, will be published in 2017 by Wildfire (a new imprint of Headline) as their first fiction title. She lives in the Cotswolds with her family and two very furry dogs.
Amanda has worked as a goat milker, a teaching assistant and a sales trainer. More recently she was the book reviewer for The Cheltonian and taught regular creative writing classes and workshops.
She now writes full-time, taking a sabbatical from teaching to write her second book, another psychological suspense (due out in 2018).

The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse #BookReview @MrsAmandaProwse

About this book…

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter thinks she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But becoming parents proves much harder to achieve than Lucy and Jonah imagined, and when Jonah’s teenage daughter Camille comes to stay with them, she becomes a constant reminder of what Lucy doesn’t have. Jonah’s love and support are unquestioning, but Lucy’s struggles with work and her own failing dreams begin to take their toll. With Camille’s presence straining the bonds of Lucy’s marriage even further, Lucy suddenly feels herself close to losing everything…

This heart-wrenchingly poignant family drama from bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: in today’s hectic world, what does it mean to be a mother?

My review…

When I saw that the new book by one of my favourite authors Amanda Prowse was about motherhood, specifically struggling to become a mother due to miscarriage, I knew this was going to be a very emotional read for me. And then I realised that Amanda’s “book birthday” would be the same day as my daughter’s birthday, my “miracle baby” even though she is now 25, so I knew it was a sign! I HAD to read this book! I had to see how Amanda dealt with the issues raised as, at one point in my life, I WAS Lucy having had several early and one very late miscarriage. Motherhood was a dream for me to chase and I was determined never to give up until I succeeded.

Nearly every woman I know has had a very different and unique journey to motherhood, if at all. And this is why I’m such a huge fan of Amanda Prowse and her books because she writes for women like me, about women like me-women who don’t know their own strengths until they are face to face with the difficulties that life unexpectedly throws at them, women who’s paths in life aren’t the ones they necessarily thought that they would be on.

Following Lucy on her struggle to have a baby was very difficult to read at times. Showing how the baby develops during certain stages of pregnancy also seemed to make it harder and I watched with a feeling of helplessness as I willed Lucy’s baby’s to hang on in there! But the most poignant part of the novel for me were the letters that were interspersed throughout providing a window into what might have been for the future and that was the saddest part of the book for me. Realising that it’s not just a baby that you lose but a whole lifetime of “firsts” . No first steps, no first day of school, the list is endless and if you are desperate for a child all you can see is that vision of a perfect family life slipping away from you, even though you know deep down that it’s an unrealistic expectation.

The slowly developed relationship between Lucy and Camille was a real contrast to the way Lucy and Jonah got together after their whirlwind romance. Bringing Camille into the family dynamics brought an edge that cut through the sentiment, providing a stepmother/stepdaughter relationship with all the difficulties that possibly brings. I loved all the extended family and their dramas, again I found them very true to life, all of them adding to the bigger picture showing that the life Lucy was chasing was far from idealistic. Lucy wasn’t always the most likeable of characters but her emotions and reactions were always absolutely spot on and I empathised with her totally.

I found it impossible to put this book down once I had picked it up and I couldn’t go to sleep until I had read the last page. And then when I finished it, I re-read the last chapter again in awe of how my emotions had been stretched to nearly breaking point by a master of her craft. Amanda Prowse, you nearly broke me-tears were definitely shed! As I’ve said before, no one does domestic drama like this author -she has a gift for bringing emotive issues to life and weaving the most memorable stories around them. Highly recommended by me!

Many thanks to Lake Union Publishing and Mr Simeon Prowse for my review copy of The Idea of You which will be published on 21st March 2017 and will be available to purchase on Amazon UK.

Meet the author…

Amanda Prowse

Amanda Prowse likens her own life story to those she writes about in her books. After self-publishing her debut novel, Poppy Day, in 2011, she has gone on to author sixteen novels and six novellas. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages and she regularly tops bestseller charts all over the world.

Remaining true to her ethos, Amanda writes stories of ordinary women and their families who find their strength, courage and love tested in ways they never imagined. The most prolific female contemporary fiction writer in the UK, with a legion of loyal readers, she goes from strength to strength. Being crowned ‘queen of domestic drama’ by the Daily Mail was one of her finest moments.

Amanda is a regular contributor on TV and radio, but her first love is and will always be writing.

You can find her online at http://www.amandaprowse.com, on Twitter at @MrsAmandaProwse and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/amandaprowsenogreaterlove.

Evie’s Year of Taking Chances by Christie Barlow #BlogTour #BookReview @Bookouture

I am over the moon to be on the blog tour for Evie’s Year of Taking Chances today with a review of this wonderful book.

About this book…

It’s Evie’s birthday and the start of a year she’ll never forget. An emotional story of love, friendship and grabbing life by the horns.

Evie’s job has always been her safe haven. As a librarian in the little town of Becton she loses herself in books – after all it’s far easier to read about other people’s problems than set about solving her own.

Then, one birthday, everything is turned upside down. A mysterious parcel containing a beautiful book with a poignant inscription arrives for Evie. It’s the beginning of a new chapter for Evie and she’s inspired to try and find her real mother.

Evie’s search leads her to meet handsome author Noah Jones. Charming and intelligent, Noah seems the perfect catch but what Evie doesn’t realise is that he is hiding something – a key to Evie’s past.

As Evie gets closer to Noah and discovering her mother, she must take a giant leap of faith. Can she embrace the new and make this her year of taking chances? And if she does, will she get her heart broken?

My review…

O…M…G! Christie Barlow has made me sob like a baby with her latest book! I was an emotional wreck by the end of it and I just wanted to stay with all the wonderful characters in Evie’s world-saying goodbye to them was a real wrench for me which doesn’t happen very often. But everything about Evie and her family and friends felt incredibly real to me and even now, a full 24 hours later, I feel so invested in them, I am unable to start a new book.

Evie has my dream job of working in a library. She gets to meet authors who visit and that’s how she first meets Noah Jones, whom she’s still thinking about months later. On her birthday she is surprised to receive a personally signed copy of a book by her favourite author, Sam Stone, which “magically” appears for her at work. This is the catalyst for Evie to make some major decisions about her life and so starts a year that Evie will never forget.

I loved everything about this book. All the characters were relatable and likeable. The plot was both humorous and heart wrenching in equal measures and the strands were so cleverly woven together. I became totally engrossed right from the beginning, Evie had a natural charisma that made me feel very maternal towards her especially as she was the same age as my daughters. And I desperately wanted that Happy Ever After for her, both romantically and for herself personally. At one point in particular, I cried my eyes out which put me in a highly emotional state for the rest of the book. You would think at my age I would be much more cynical about romance and life, wouldn’t you?! But Evie’s Year of Taking Chances just seemed to bury itself deep into my heart and I adored every minute of it. I also want to mention the book club attended by the characters here which is based on the real-life Mims cafe and book club in Staffordshire. It’s a place I have heard so much about on Social media and am desperate to visit, even more so now!

I have enjoyed all of Christie’s previous books but for me this is her best so far and my absolute favourite. I thoroughly recommend it for fans of romantic comedy. Just make sure you have a HUGE box of tissues and (unlike me!!) waterproof mascara just to be on the safe side! An irresistible book about finding love but more importantly, finding yourself.

Thank you to Bookouture for my review copy of Evie’s Year of Taking Chances which I have chosen to read and review.

Evie’s Year of Taking Chances: A heart warming romantic comedy you won’t be able to put down was published by Bookouture on 10th March 2017 and is available to purchase here at Amazon UK.

Meet the author…


Christie Barlow is the author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty’s Countryside Dream, Lizzie’s Christmas Escape and Evie’s Year of Taking Chances. She lives in Staffordshire with her husband, four kids, horses, chickens and a mad cocker spaniel. Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. The book she wrote to prove a point is now a #1 bestseller in the UK and USA. Christie also writes her own book column in Mama Life Magazine too! http://www.mamalifemagazine.co.uk

Christie loves to hear from her readers and you can get in touch via her website http://www.christiebarlow.com Twitter @ChristieJBarlow and Facebook page Christie Barlow author

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel #BookReview @EmilyKitchin

About this book…

Beautiful.
Rich.
Mysterious.

The Roanoke girls seem to have it all. But there’s a dark truth about them which is never spoken. Every girl either runs away, or dies.

Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents’ estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing – and Lane has no choice but to go back.

She is a Roanoke girl.

Is she strong enough to escape a second time?

My review…

I have to thank Emily Kitchin for my review copy of The Roanoke Girls which she warned me was a “VERY dark and disturbing, twisted and provocative thriller” but that she thought it was “right up my street”. I wasn’t sure whether to be flattered or not by that expectation but after reading The Roanoke Girls, I have to say that Emily obviously knows me better than I know myself! This book is MAGNIFICENT! I loved every exquisite, sordid and heart breaking sentence so much that this is now my absolute favourite read of the year so far! The Roanoke Girls have cast their spell over me and I have no desire ever to escape it. Amy Engels first adult novel is simply breathtaking.

The secret at the heart of this mystery may not appeal to all readers of this genre and I will reiterate that it is very dark and positively stomach churning at times. But even with that enigma, which from the start I felt was only partially concealed from the reader, you will be unable to tear your eyes away from its “car crash” of a storyline. It’s definitely more of a character driven suspense than I was expecting and I found all the Roanoke girls totally fascinating, rather like the townsfolk themselves did. I became especially protective of Lane, she unexpectedly brought out my maternal emotions when she first appeared in the book, after her mother’s suicide when she goes to her mother’s family home to live with her grandparents and her cousin, the prickly but stunning, Allegra. There then follows a summer of getting to know her previously estranged family and creating a rather complex relationship with her cousin. The adult Lane is probably best summed up by the line “sometimes it’s a revelation, even to me, how much more comfortable I am with cruelty than with kindness”. What could possibly have brought about such despondency in spirit?  Told in the Then and Now, we discover that something happened that summer to make Lane run away from this new family and when she returns 11 years later it is only because Allegra has been reported missing. Her homecoming opens up some old wounds but Lane is determined to find Allegra even if it means exposing the dark family secrets of all the Roanoke girls, past and present. 

This book is just so beautifully written and expertly crafted like a piece of divine artwork. Even the outside wins my award for the most exquisitely beguiling cover illustration that I have seen in a very long time. The plot felt like an adult fairy tale, bewitching both the reader and those beautiful princesses living in the fairy tale that became a nightmare.

The Roanoke Girls is a gothic masterpiece that vividly brought back the claustrophobic atmosphere I experienced whilst reading Flowers In The Attic as a teenager. Fans of Gillian Flynn will devour it, much as I did, and then sit back lamenting the loss of its spell once it’s over. I seriously can not recommend this book  highly enough and it will take something exceptional to knock it off its spot of my top read of 2017. Perfection exists and it’s name is The Roanoke Girls.

The Roanoke Girls is being published by Hodder and Stoughton in ebook on 7th March 2017 and is available here at Amazon UK.

About the author…

Amy Engel is the author of THE BOOK OF IVY young adult series. A former criminal defense attorney, she lives in Missouri with her family. THE ROANOKE GIRLS is her first novel for adults.