Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop

I must start by saying a huge thank you to fellow blogger Tracy Shepard. After reading her review I just knew this was a book I had to read and she very kindly put me in touch with Caitlin Raynor at Headline who sent me a copy for review. So thank you both!

About this book…

Week after week, the postcards arrive, addressed to a name Ellie does not know, with no return address, each signed with an initial: A.

With their bright skies, blue seas and alluring images of Greece, these cartes postales brighten her life. After six months, to her disappointment, they cease. But the montage she has created on the wall of her flat has cast a spell. She must see this country for herself.

On the morning Ellie leaves for Athens, a notebook arrives. Its pages tell the story of a man’s odyssey through Greece. Moving, surprising and sometimes dark, A‘s tale unfolds with the discovery not only of a culture but also of a desire to live life to the full once more.

Beloved, bestselling author Victoria Hislop’s Cartes Postales from Greece is fiction illustrated with photographs that make this journey around Greece, already alive in the imagination, linger forever in the mind.

My review…

I don’t know why we chose Corfu as our honeymoon destination in 1988 but that first trip to Greece for both of us has led to a yearly holiday to a country that has adopted us as the years have gone by and welcomed our family as it has expanded. We just seem to fit there and now our grandchildren are also experiencing the culture and way of life-capturing the hearts of the Greek people with their willingness to try their food and their language. So I was overjoyed to see that a favourite author had written this absolutely stunning book that is written in one of the most unusual formats I have ever seen. Does it work? Totally!

This is really a series of short stories set within a story…that is set within a story! And it is accompanied by the most stunning photographs throughout that lift this book to another level! When Ellie starts to receive a series of postcards from Greece she becomes obsessed by them. Although obviously for a previous tenant of her flat, she keeps them on her pin-board to gaze upon as they lift her spirit daily and she makes a life changing decision to go to Greece. On the day she leaves for the airport she finds a notebook in her post box which she hurriedly picks up to take with her. Once in Tolon, on her self contained holiday, she starts to read. It’s the story of A and his love for S and how, after she stands him up, he travels the country meeting interesting locals who tell him stories.

I just loved these little snatches showing the real Greek people. In such a beautiful country they really do seem to have struck on some terrible hardships both economically and socially. But this strips back the recent revelations to the core with its mix of darkly atmospheric conversations and historical observations, like a set of Greek fables. My personal favourite was In Love With Love which I found rather mournful and brought in an archaeological twist. And I loved the mention of the funeral notices as well as I have only just learned of them after spending half an hour this year trying to translate them for my family when we visited one of the oldest villages in Crete. I found them fascinating!

This would make a beautiful present for any lover of Greece. The whole concept of the photographs within a fictional novel is just genius especially when combined with the natural storytelling of Victoria Hislop. This is a country that always seems to have its people at its heart as much as its stunning countryside and scenery so both are photographed to great effect here. It has also encouraged me to maybe move off the beaten track a little more next time (although possible not to the village mentioned in one of the tales!) and just take it all in. There’s nothing more relaxing than an ice cold Mythos and a plate of fresh olives as you watch the world go by.

Thank you to Headline for providing my review copy of this glorious book.

Cartes Postales from Greece will be published on 22nd September and is available to buy from Amazon UK

About the author…

Inspired by a visit to Spinalonga, the abandoned Greek leprosy colony, Victoria Hislop wrote The Islandin 2005. It became an international bestseller and a 26-part Greek TV series. She was named Newcomer of the Year at the British Book Awards and is now an ambassador for Lepra.

Her affection for the Mediterranean then took her to Spain, and in The Return (also a number one bestseller) she wrote about the painful secrets of its civil war.

In her third novel, The Thread, Victoria returned to Greece to tell the turbulent tale of Thessaloniki and its people across the 20th century. It was shortlisted for a British Book Award, and confirmed her reputation as an inspirational storyteller. It was followed by her much-admired Greece-set short story collection, The Last Dance and Other Stories.

Her next novel, The Sunrise, was published to widespread acclaim. It was a Sunday Times hardback bestseller and debuted at number one in the Sunday Times paperback chart.

Victoria divides her time between England and Greece.

The Holiday Swap by Zara Stoneley

About this book…

Two women, two very different lives – one perfect solution to escape festive heartbreak!

Tucked away in the idyllic English countryside, Daisy Fischer’s cosy little cottage has always been her safe haven. But when her completely dependable boyfriend issues her an ultimatum, Daisy realises there’s a whole world out there she’s missing out on.

Florence Cortes’s life couldn’t be better – gorgeous apartment right on the beach, fabulous job and dreamy boyfriend, or so she thought. Suddenly, Flo’s life isn’t so perfect after all.

When the girls house swap for the holidays, it’s not long before Daisy is being distracted by sun, sea and sexy Javier while Flo finds herself snowbound for Christmas with only handsome neighbour Hugo and a house full of animals to keep her company.

Love actually does seem to be all around this Christmas, but in the places Flo and Daisy least expect to find it…

My review…

Get ready to raise a glass of Cava as Tippermere is back but with a little Spanish twist! I love the Tippermere series (I have to admit that my own Cheshire village comes very close to all the fun and drama but maybe doesn’t have quite as many gorgeous single men!) but here we get twice the fabulous settings as the cosy Cheshire village is romantically twinned with bustling Barcelona for a Christmas treat! And although Tippermere is the location for one of the swaps this is a standalone book so you don’t need to have read any others (but you should anyway!!)

What I adore about Zara Stoneleys books is that you get a real sense of her locations as she writes about what she knows. All the way through I could practically taste all the wonderful tapas dishes and feel the warmth of the Spanish sunshine then, when I turned the page, I was immediately back in the Cheshire countryside, in the snow, hacking down country lanes. And then she fills her authentic settings with the most wonderful characters who are gorgeous and funny and feel like they are your friends. I adored both Daisy and Flo, who decide to swap their lives for a few weeks. Daisy isn’t sure that she wants to accept her boyfriend Jimmy’s proposal and Flo is expecting a proposal but she gets rather a different kind of shock instead! So it just makes sense to try living in one another’s shoes, it always brings things into perspective…doesn’t it?! One of the things that made this book work for me was that I loved both girls stories equally. Often when there is a dual point of view I can find myself racing through one person’s chapter just to get to the other storyline but here I felt at home with Flo and with Daisy and enjoyed both of their journeys of self discovery. If you don’t feel happy and relaxed and full of Christmas cheer by the end then your name must be Scrooge!
This book has been promoted as addictive reading for fans of the film The Holiday and I have to back that up 100%! I don’t feel it’s really Christmas until I’ve snuggled down under a cosy blanket with a fully loaded hot chocolate and a plate of homemade mince pies to watch The Holiday. It’s a Christmas tradition that I undertake with one of my daughters every year as its her favourite film! This year I have to say that I have already preordered the paperback of The Holiday Swap to pop in her Christmas stocking as I know she will love it as much as I do! The cover alone makes me smile so I can’t wait to see her face on Christmas morning (although it may backfire on me when she’s too busy reading to help peel all the veg!)

I always recommend this author to fans of Jilly Cooper especially ones who love Jilly’s quick witted humour and puns but struggle with the huge cast of characters and animals. This book had me smiling from cover to cover and I loved the pages of little tips at the end too. Christmas in Cheshire is going to be fabulous this year!

The Holiday Swap: The perfect laugh-out-loud romance for fans of the Christmas movie The Holiday is published by Carina and available to buy here at Amazon UK

About the author…

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Bestselling author Zara Stoneley lives in Cheshire surrounded by horses, dogs, cats and amazing countryside. When she’s not visiting wine bars, artisan markets or admiring the scenery in her sexy high heels or green wellies, she can be found in flip flops on the beach in Barcelona, or more likely sampling the tapas!

Zara writes hot romance and bonkbusters. Her latest novels, ‘Stable Mates’, ‘Country Affairs’ and ‘Country Rivals’, are fun romps through the Cheshire countryside and combine some of her greatest loves – horses, dogs, hot men and strong women (and not forgetting champagne and fast cars)!

She writes for Harper Collins and Accent Press.

Where you can find her-

Website: http://www.zarastoneley.com
Twitter: @ZaraStoneley
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ZaraStoneley

Return to the Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard

About this book…

Blue skies, new love, and a glass of Bordeaux . . . what could possibly go wrong?

When Emmy Jamieson leaves her life behind and moves toLa Cour des Roses, a gorgeous guesthouse amidst vineyards in France, everything is resting on her success as the new guesthouse manager.

Looming in the calendar is the biggest booking ever, when the entire eccentric, demanding Thomson family will descend for a golden wedding anniversary. With airbeds on the floor and caravans in the garden, La Cour des Roses will be bursting at the seams.

Emmy knows she’s up to the challenge, especially with the support of the gorgeous Alain, the half-French, half-English, caramel-eyed accountant. But she hadn’t counted on a naked, sleepwalking travel blogger, or the return of owner Rupert’s venomous ex-wife Gloria.

Gloria has a few things to say about Emmy’s new role, Rupert’s finances, and the unsuspecting Alain, which send everybody reeling. Just when Emmy can see a future for herself of endless sunshine, true love and laughter, are her dreams about to be ripped at the seams?

My review…

Having read The Little French Guesthouse earlier in the year I definitely had to make sometime in my busy reading schedule to catch up on this sequel. If you haven’t read the first book then you really should before picking up this one to get the most out of it!

I just loved immersing myself back into the lives of Emmy and Rupert and all the rich and colourful characters who make up this seriously warm and sunny feel good romance. Although it’s more a book about friendships I think and how true friends always come back together to help each other through life’s adversities. There’s a huge bombshell dropped into the cosy and settled lives at Last Cours Des Roses when Gloria comes back, not with her tail between her legs but with her head held high and an eye for causing trouble. Emmy has her work cut out when a large party come to stay and it needs to go well after The Silver Fox has had his say on his blog about his holiday there.

I absolutely love the way the author makes you feel as if you are there in the warm sunshine with Emmy and co, this really does feel like a real place to me! I can imagine the house and the gardens and the kitchen with all the delicious food prepared there. Even the local town and chateaux feels familiar as if I’ve visited there before and this book is a real memory of that time! I’m actually missing the place and people already now that I’ve finished.

This is a book that lives up to its “feelgood” tagline and anyone taking a holiday to France would be well advised to pack a copy to take with them. Even the cover makes me smile!

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

Return to the Little French Guesthouse: A feel good read to make you smile (La Cour des Roses Book 2) is available to buy now from Amazon UK

And  I’ve made you curious about book 1 The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard then you can read my review here!

About the author…

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As a child, Helen had a vivid imagination fuelled by her love of reading, so she started to create her own stories in a notebook.

She still prefers fictional worlds to real life, believes characterisation is the key to a successful book, and enjoys infusing her writing with humour and heart.

Helen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors.

You can find her online at:

http://helenpollardwrites.wordpress.com
http://facebook.com/HelenPollardWrites

http://goodreads.com/author/show/8647878.Helen_Pollard

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

About This Book…

Did she leave, or was she taken?

The day Adam Dunne’s girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads ‘I’m sorry – S’ sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.

 

Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate – and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before. To get the answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground…

My Review…

I was so glad that I didn’t go on a cruise for my summer holidays this year after reading Distress Signals! Lounging by a hotel pool seemed a much better idea especially after watching a few programmes recently about cruise liners-i really had absolutely no idea how big they really were! It was also a shock to find out just how much goes on behind the scenes of a big and successful cruise ship. And here Catherine Ryan Howard has created a complex mystery based around what has become a very popular holiday for all ages in recent years.

Adam Dunne has been with his girlfriend for nearly 10 years. He has been trying to make it as a scriptwriter and is actually on the brink of his big breakthrough. All it needs is a rewrite, his agent is on his case, and a large cheque will be deposited in his bank account. His dreams will have come true! But what about his dependable girlfriend Sarah? Her job means that she is off to Barcelona for a few days. Adam isn’t worried when she isn’t in contact much, it’s work and she will be busy. But when he goes to collect her from the airport, she isn’t there and seems to have disappeared into thin air. Adam won’t leave any stone unturned until he finds out what has happened to her and the trail leads him to a large cruise liner…the Celebrate.

I really loved Adam!!! He was just your typical Mr Dependable, stuck in his social routine, not reading any of the signs that were pretty obvious when he looked back on them. He thinks the money he makes will solve all his problems and he and Sarah will live happily ever after. But a different Adam emerges when Sarah goes missing and he physically can’t rest until he finds out what happens to her.

The author has really done a brilliant job of creating a storyline here that is based on factual accounts of things that have happened on cruise liners. I found it absolutely fascinating especially how maritime law works which seems a rather bizarre way of solving crimes that happen at sea. It really was an ingenious way to involve her characters into the plot, which was a twisty journey to find out what had happened not just to Sarah but also others who had disappeared under mysterious circumstances. I was totally behind Adam all the way even though the prologue shows us a side of him that doesn’t seem to tie with the person we meet at the beginning. The three viewpoints keep us guessing how all the threads of the story will come together and I have to admit that I thought I knew where this was going BUT I wasn’t as clever as I thought I was!

This is a great debut from an author who really seems to have an in-depth understanding of today’s traveller and I thought it was thoroughly well researched so that the plot flowed with ease. The pace never flagged and I was totally caught up in the plight of Adam as he searched to find out the truth.

Highly recommended!

Distress Signals: An Incredibly Gripping Psychological Thriller with a Twist You Won’t See Coming is available here to buy at Amazon UK

About The Author…

CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982.

Her debut thriller, DISTRESS SIGNALS, is published in the UK and Ireland by Corvus/Atlantic and in Australia and New Zealand by Allen & Unwin, and will be published in North America by Blackstone in November 2016. DISTRESS SIGNALS was a bestseller in Ireland upon its debut and was optioned for TV prior to publication by Jet Stone Media.

Before writing full-time, she was a campsite courier in France, a travel administrator in the Netherlands and a front desk agent at a hotel in Walt Disney World, Florida. She is currently studying English at Trinity College Dublin and wants to be a NASA astronaut when she grows up.

Find out more about Catherine on catherineryanhoward.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @cathryanhoward.

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Valentina by S E Lynes

About this book…

When Glasgow journalist Shona McGilvery moves with her partner Mikey and their baby to an idyllic cottage in rural Scotland, they believe that all that lies ahead of them is happiness.

But with Mikey working offshore, the frightening isolation of the Aberdeenshire countryside begins to drive her insane…

That is, until she is rescued by a new friendship with the enchanting Valentina.

She has the perfect home, the perfect man, and a charismatic new best friend – or does she? As her fairytale life begins to unravel, the deep dark wood becomes the least of her fears…

My review…

I started this book when I was on a train journey earlier in the summer months but I quickly realised that I didn’t want to dip into it over a few days, catching reading time whenever I could. I had only got to 6% but I had got….. “the feeling”! Yes THAT feeling-the tingly excitement of discovering a book that you want to hide away with and read in one or two long sittings. So, it came on my summer holiday with me and what a fabulous choice I made as it turned out to be one of my top holiday reads-a 5* book that kept me glued to my sunlounger.

I was drawn to the book initially due to rave reviews from fellow bloggers and after investigating further I realised that lots of the locations were very familiar to me. I love books that are set in places that mean something to me so the setting of Aberdeenshire and the connection to the oil industry engaged me from the start. Although from Norfolk, I moved to just outside Aberdeen due to my mum’s job so the mention of places such as Banchory, the Ardoe House Hotel and Kippie Lodge really brought back some very emotional memories of my time there (we were members of Kippie Lodge and always felt like we were in an episode of Dallas whenever we went!!). There were lots of incomers to the area at the height of the oil industry and as one of them I did struggle to settle and fit in. So that was the reason I felt so fiercely protective of Shona as I really felt her every emotion when she had to up sticks and leave behind a home and family she loved.

Susie Lynes weaves such a twisty plot into her storytelling that once I started this (the second time!) I couldn’t put it down and at one point even gasped out loud! But she also takes us beyond what happens here and I’m sure I’m not the only one who came away unable to move on from it as the issues raised stayed on my mind for quite some time afterwards. There is certainly plenty of ponder upon and I think book clubs up and down the country would have a field day with this one!

The isolation of new mothers means that sometimes friendships are formed by women where the only thing they have in common is the fact that they gave birth at the same time! There is so much to discuss here after dissecting the meeting between Shona and Valentina that very quickly becomes an intensely close relationship. I felt such an empathy for Shona the whole way through (apart from one little thing and I’m sure you’ll know what that is after you have read it!) as she felt like a kindred spirit and I connected with her right from the start. I even envied her her fabulous new friendship with Valentina-to have someone so unconventional and free spirited come into her life just when she needed her the most seemed almost too good to be true!

This was a tightly knitted, gripping storyline where I was aware from very early on that something wasn’t quite right. But what? Was I correct in my assumptions? Well, in some cases I was but not all as there are a few shockers along the way here. This is such a self assured debut written with a such a perfect understanding of what makes women connect with others and how parenthood makes us perceive the world around us and the people in it very differently. Honestly, when I finished it I just wanted to go back and read the whole thing again! Such wonderfully atmospheric storytelling has given me a real hunger for another book from Susie and she has joined the list of writers who truly can’t write quickly enough for me! Just BRILLIANT!

Valentina: A Hauntingly Intelligent Psychological Thriller is available to purchase here from Amazon UK

About the author…

B1u88GuzWjS._SX150_After graduating from Leeds University, S E Lynes lived in London for a couple of years before moving to Aberdeen to be with her husband. In Aberdeen, she worked as a producer at the BBC Radio Scotland before moving with her husband and two young children to Rome. There, she began to write while her children attended nursery. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. She now combines writing with lecturing at Richmond Adult Community College and bringing up her three children. She lives in Teddington.

Never Alone by Elizabeth Haynes **Book Review**

About this book…

Elizabeth Haynes’ new psychological thriller is a brilliantly suspenseful and shocking story in which nothing is at it seems, but everything is at stake.

Sarah Carpenter lives in an isolated farmhouse in North Yorkshire and for the first time, after the death of her husband some years ago and her children, Louis and Kitty, leaving for university, she’s living alone. But she doesn’t consider herself lonely. She has two dogs, a wide network of friends and the support of her best friend, Sophie.

When an old acquaintance, Aiden Beck, needs somewhere to stay for a while, Sarah’s cottage seems ideal; and renewing her relationship with Aiden gives her a reason to smile again. It’s supposed to be temporary, but not everyone is comfortable with the arrangement: her children are wary of his motives, and Will Brewer, an old friend of her son’s, seems to have taken it upon himself to check up on Sarah at every opportunity. Even Sophie has grown remote and distant.

After Sophie disappears, it’s clear she hasn’t been entirely honest with anyone, including Will, who seems more concerned for Sarah’s safety than anyone else. As the weather closes in, events take a dramatic turn and Kitty too goes missing. Suddenly Sarah finds herself in terrible danger, unsure of who she can still trust.

But she isn’t facing this alone; she has Aiden, and Aiden offers the protection that Sarah needs. Doesn’t he?

My review…

Having been a huge fan of Elizabeth Haynes since her first book Into the Darkest Corner, I was hugely excited to discover that Never Alone was going to be a new standalone novel. Although I have enjoyed her DI Louisa Smith novels, I much prefer the darker depths that she plunges whilst exploring those human desires and the deviance that cut across the normality of relationships. So even though I have a TBR list as long as the journey to the sun (and back again!!) I bought myself a copy to take on my summer holidays. Praise indeed so far as I only tend to take authors I really trust on holiday with me (please all form an orderly queue for the Canaries early next year!) So I am pleased to be able to tell you that this is pretty much one of my top 10 books for 2016! Not only that, it has overtaken Into The Darkest Corner as my newest favourite Elizabeth Haynes novel!

Told in alternate points of view by Sarah, a widow living in an isolated farmhouse in North Yorkshire and Aiden, her old university friend who is renting the adjacent cottage and who has only recently returned from working abroad. It isn’t long before their previous history spills over into their current situation and concerns Sarah’s friend, Sophie, and family friend, Will. Sarah also has adult children Louis and Kitty but there is a breakdown in communication between mother and son. The tension is built up slowly and surely and the isolation of Sarah’s home combined with the onset of wintery weather conditions really has a stomach clenching effect as it builds up to a stormy crescendo. And there are dogs!!!!! Putting them into the mix meant I was a nervous wreck from the very first page! Further more, adding an anonymous narrator at break points throughout also added a malevolent tension to the plot development so that I was pretty much on the edge of my seat (sunlounger!) for the majority of this book.

Elizabeth Haynes just has a natural knack of writing realistic characters in settings that the majority of us can relate to. I had such a clear visual image of Four Winds Farm in my head and that local village could be any that we pass through day after day. Sarah and Sophie felt as real to me as my own friends are and I lived through every emotion with them.

I feel it’s fair to warn that there are some quite erotic and sexually charged scenes here which are pretty relevant to the story and really rather intriguing as well considering the nature of them. I actually felt quite voyeuristic during some of them but felt that they also gave me a further insight into characteristics that were evolving and a surprising affinity for them too.

I just loved this-it was psychological suspense perfection and a 5* page turner from beginning to end. Buy it now!!!!

Never Alone is available here to buy at Amazon UK

The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells

About this book…

I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess . . .

A love he’d never forget

Ex-lawyer Noah has never forgotten his first love. When, years later, he hears that she’s suspected of murder, he knows with certainty that she’s innocent. With April on life-support and the evidence pointing towards her guilt, he’s compelled to help her. But he’s also unprepared as he’s forced to confront what happened between them all those years ago.

A secret she would never reveal

April Moon had loved Noah. She never wanted to hurt him. But there was something – and someone – dark in her life which made happiness together impossible.

A family she could never forgive

Ella is a troubled teenager with her own secrets to tell. But no one will listen. What Ella knows holds the key to finding the killer. But as Noah, April and Ella’s stories converge, shocking revelations come to the surface. The truth is obvious. Or so everyone believes . . .

My review…

I read The Bones of You on my summer hols last year and just loved it. Even though I howled my eyes out at the end, it was a book to give you an uplifting feeling, full of beautifully written prose and emotion. So what better book to start this year’s summer reading bonanza than The Beauty of You. But would it live up to my high expectations…I am happy to admit that it exceeded them big style!

Debbie Howells just writes the most gorgeously descriptive scenes for her characters. They, in themselves, rise off the page as they become so deeply entwined around their stories that they come alive for the reader. I could just visualise them so clearly! Which is amazing really as when we meet April, she is in hospital having taken an overdose and is in a coma, not expected to survive. Her school friend Noah gets a call from his old friend Will to say that April is suspected of a murder committed before she attempted suicide. Noah has always worshipped April, mostly from afar, and calls her a goddess. Now a lawyer, he goes home to Devon to help work out what happened that night.

This is actually a very good example of why you should always give a book a chance before giving up. When I first started the story, it didn’t captivate from the very start like I had expected it to. But the more I read and the deeper I delved into the lives of this group of friends, the more it became a huge obsession to read every single word and solve the mystery of what had happened to April. But the mystery wasn’t the be all and end all of this book as it developed into a beautiful study into obsession, love and loss. It just got better and better with every turn of the page. Every relationship was eventually laid bare and it became the heartbreaking journey that I had been expecting even if the plot hadn’t been! But I absolutely loved the way it unfolded and I read slower and slower as I just didn’t want it to end.

If you love books by authors like Rosamund Lupton then this will be the perfect read for you. Debbie Howells writes so poetically and with so much emotion and she just gets better with every book so I can’t wait to see how she tops this one!

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

The Beauty of the End was published on 14th July in the UK by MacMillan and on 26th July in the U.S. by Kensington Books.

Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst

About this book…

BEFORE I LET YOU IN is the brand new novel from Jenny Blackhurst, the #1 Kindle bestselling author of HOW I LOST YOU, which Clare Mackintosh called ‘utterly gripping’. If you don’t know who is walking through the door, how do you know if you should let them in?

Karen is meant to be the one who fixes problems.

It’s her job, as a psychiatrist – and it’s always been her role as a friend.

But Jessica is different. She should be the patient, the one that Karen helps.

But she knows things about Karen. Her friends, her personal life. Things no patient should know.

And Karen is starting to wonder if she should have let her in

My review…

This book was on my wishlist from the minute it appeared on Amazon as I loved How I Lost You. But I have to say, after just this minute finishing Before I Let You In…..this is EVEN BETTER! What a twisted and devious mind Jenny Blackhurst must have! I just loved it!

The three women at the heart of this book have been best friends since school. Now in their thirties, their lives have taken quite different paths but they have remained very close. But when psychiatric Karen takes on a new patient, Jessica, she starts to realise that her new patient knows more about Karen and her friends than she is comfortable with. Has letting this woman into her life put the people Karen loves in danger? And how can Karen, who has always been the one to look after them all, hope to keep her friends safe if she can’t work out why they are all in danger?

The thing about this book that I loved the most was just how well I connected with all of the friends and their lives. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time desperate to stop whatever was happening to them all and to find out why? It’s obvious from the first few pages that something awful has occurred and the build up to it is just so incredibly gripping that you won’t be able to put it down! It’s like a nightmare where you are running and running away from an unseen predator and just getting nowhere! And it was driving me mad that I couldn’t work out exactly what was going on and why. I thought I had it all figured out but my jaw dropped when I realised that I was way off the mark!

Fans of psychological suspense will absolutely devour this! Jenny Blackhurst has certainly raised the bar with this one and has now cemented her place as one of my favourite authors. In fact, I half wish I hadn’t read it so I could have the anticipation all over again of reading this for the first time. And I might just have to go back and read again anyway! A brilliantly conceived book that I can highly recommend.

I received a copy of this book via the publisher Headline so many thanks to them and this is my unbiased review.

Before I Let You In is published by Headline in e-book on 28th August 2016 and is available to buy from Amazon UK here.

About the author…

Jenny Blackhurst grew up in Shropshire where she still lives with her husband and children. Growing up she spent hours reading and talking about crime novels – writing her own seemed like natural progression. Inspired by the emotions she felt around her own son’s birth, How I Lost You is Jenny’s thrilling debut crime novel. Before I Let You In is Jenny’s second book and is out on 28th August 2016.

 

The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club by Lynsey James **Blog Tour**

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Today I am delighted to be the next stop on the blog tour for The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club by Lynsey James and hosted by Jenny In Neverland!

About this book…

The perfect summer romance for a sunny afternoon and a picnic in the park

Emily Reed is having a bad day. Her mother has just dropped a devastating bombshell—the dad she’s known and loved for twenty-five years isn’t her biological father!

Desperately in need of answers, Emily heads to Luna Bay covering her personal quest up as a work trip to Sunflower Cottage B&B.

Setting up the ‘Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club’ should be a great way to meet the locals and maybe even find out who her father is. The only problem is brooding and insanely gorgeous, Noah, who is determined to make Emily’s stay perfectly uncomfortable.

Discovering the truth after all these years was never going to be simple, but Emily will stop at nothing to uncover her past… even if her heart is getting in the way!

Don’t miss a single book in the Luna Bay series:
Book 1 – The Broken Hearts Book Club
Book 2 – The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club
Book 3 – Coming soon

My review…

If you haven’t read The Broken Hearts Book Club which is the first in the Luna Bay books then don’t worry as this can totally be read as a standalone. It is nice to see however the characters from that book making cameo appearances here so it might tempt you to find out a little more about them!

Lynsey James has written a lovely romantic comedy around my most favourite meal….breakfast! When Emily descends upon the gorgeous seaside town of Luna Bay, she isn’t looking for love, well not in that way! But she is looking for the love of a father that she has never known and for a promotion in the job she loves. So when she meets Noah at The Sunflower Cottage and they end up cooking breakfasts together, it’s all a bit unexpected! The scenes where they come together in the kitchen the first time are hilarious (for their cooking skills not their romantic liaisons!) But by the time they were planning their new Breakfast Club adventure, it was all I could do not to make myself a huge pile of pancakes and join in!

There is a great cast of interesting and wacky characters here but my favourite has to be Pamela, Emily’s mother. She really was the mother you love to pieces but would drive you mad at the same time! Unfortunately, I saw a lot of myself in her so it’s a good job I have a sense of humour too! I loved catching up with Lucy from the book club and I have a funny feeling about a certain breakfast regular, that her story may well be on its way soon!

This is an easy to get into, sweet but sometimes bittersweet, book that is an ideal holiday read.

The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club (Luna Bay, Book 2) is available to buy now from Amazon UK here.

About the author…

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Lynsey James was born in Fife in 1991 and has been telling people how to spell her name ever since. She’s an incurable bookworm who loves nothing more than getting lost in a good story with memorable characters. She started writing when she was really young and credits her lovely Grandad- and possibly a bump on the head from a Mr Frosty machine- with her love of telling stories. She used to write her own episodes of Friends and act them out in front of her family (in fact she’s sure she put Ross and Rachel together first!)

A careers adviser at school once told Lynsey writing wasn’t a “good option” and for a few years, she believed her. She tried a little bit of everything, including make-up artistry, teaching and doing admin for a chocolate fountain company. The free chocolate was brilliant. When Lynsey left her job a couple of years ago, she started writing full-time while she looked for another one. As soon as she started working on her story, Lynsey fell in love and decided to finally pursue her dream. She haven’t looked back since.

When Lynsey’s not writing, eating cake or drinking tea, she’s daydreaming about the day Dylan O’Brien FINALLY realises they’re meant to be together. It’ll happen one day…

Links

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Lynsey1991

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/lynseyjamesauthor/?fref=ts

Blog: www.lynseyjames.wordpress.com

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What Happens at the Beach by T.A Williams **Blog Tour** with guest post!

Today I am absolutely delighted to welcome T.A Williams to my blog with a guest post about the appearance of a certain breed of dog that always makes a very special appearance in his books. 

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So is this the last appearance of a Labrador?

TA (Trevor) Williams reflects on his canine obsession

What Happens at the Beach… is to be the last (or maybe the penultimate) in the What Happens… series. This book has a great canine character in it, in the form of Barney the black Labrador. Those of you familiar with my work will know that a black Lab is pretty much my trademark. But is that about to come to an end? My editor at Harper Collins believes it might be time to ditch the dog when I branch out into another series. I’m prepared to give it a go, but I’m not convinced.
As an author, I find that the dogs in my books actually serve a practical purpose. A page full of text can look intimidating, maybe potentially boring. Insert some dialogue and it breaks the whole thing up. When you’ve got a character all alone, it’s hard to insert dialogue unless you go for a phone call or have the poor soul talking to him or herself. That’s where the dog comes in. Tell me honestly, all you dog owners out there that you never speak to your dog. I don’t believe you. I’m not just talking about “sit, stay, good dog”, but actual chat. I used to do it all the time with dear old Merlin. Men are often described as poor listeners. You could never say that about a Lab. They listen, maintain eye contact and, apart from an unfortunate habit of interrupting the conversation to lick his genitals, Merlin proved to be an outstanding sounding block.
All right, they aren’t too hot at the responding part of a conversation, but my dogs could always be counted on to stretch out a friendly paw or offer a lick of the hand (depending where the dog’s tongue had just been, this often resulted in a trip to a wash basin, but I digress). So, as a writer, I find the dog a valuable tool.
My next book is set in Venice and, as such, offers less scope for a canine companion than in some of my other books. Dante the Tuscan dog and Barney in What Happens at the Beach… both have whole hillsides to roam around in. Venice has very little in the way of green space and, although a dog is the ultimate status symbol there, indicating to all and sundry that the owner is a local, not one of the millions of tourists who descend upon the city each year, there aren’t many about. Venice doesn’t really lend itself to dogs.
So, brace yourselves, the next book is going to be dog-free although I might just slip in a cameo appearance by a woofer or two for old time’s sake. I will be interested to get the feedback of the readers but, for now, I do hope you enjoy Barney the dog, the latest reincarnation of good old Merlin.

A huge thank you to T.A Williams for this post and I’m sure this will spark a little friendly debate amongst his fans…..are we ready for a dog-free book???

About this book….

A deliciously sunny, uplifting romance to curl up with on your holiday – or any day!

For the perfect summer romance…

It’s finally time for Natalie Dryden to decide what she reallywants! After ditching her sparkling engagement ring, and her ghastly fiancé, she jets off for the sun-kissed shores of Southern France – the only place that has ever truly felt like home. For the first time ever, Natalie is determined to forget all about men and follow her dreams!

…head to the French coast!

Only, avoiding the male population isn’t quite so easy, especially when she meets smooth-talking Philippe and gorgeous fisherman, Remy! But then Natalie, quite literally, bumps into brooding millionaire Mark whilst swimming in the glittering azure-blue bay – and her life is turned upside-down.

Love might be off the cards for Natalie, yet suddenly she finds herself in her dream job and working with her dream man! But is it all too good to be true…?

My review…

Oh to have been on a sunlounger whilst reading this as it is a summer holiday in book form! As soon as I started I felt myself relax and very quickly became involved with the lovely Natalie as she leaves behind her boyfriend in the UK to go and live with her beloved French grandmother, whilst evaluating her life and deciding what to do next. As soon as she arrived in France, I could feel all her tensions start to melt away (as did my own!!) as she met up with the gorgeous millionaire Mark and his adorable Labrador, Barney. For me, Barney was the star of the show and stole every scene he was in! There certainly is nothing like a dog for bringing people together!

This was a lovely, gentle romantic comedy that was so beautifully written with characters that I really engaged with. Although there were many paths for Natalie to travel down, you are never quite 100% sure exactly what she will do especially when some rather exciting job opportunities appear on the horizon! I especially liked the way it was interspersed with historical facts as Natalie shows Mark around various places of interest in her role as his research assistant, my favourite being Carcassonne which is a place that I’ve always wanted to go, even more so after reading this! And as I absolutely love France, having holidayed there many times, the whole setting of this book along with all the descriptions of the delicious French delicacies really appealed to me and I wasn’t disappointed.

So for an easy to read beach read this year, you’d be well advised to take a copy of What Happens at the Beach with you and feel your tensions melt away….until you realise there are going to be NO MORE LABRADORS!

What Happens at the Beach… is available to buy now from Amazon UK.

 

About the author…

Firstly, my name isn’t T A. It’s Trevor. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, “Dirty Minds” one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn’t possibly comment. Ask my wife…
I’ve written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I’m enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. Romantic comedies are what we all need from time to time. Life isn’t always very fair. It isn’t always a lot of fun, but when it is, we need to embrace it. If my books can put a smile on your face and maybe give your heartstrings a tug, then I know I’ve done my job.
I‘ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away in south west England. I love the place. That’s why you’ll find leafy lanes and thatched cottages in most of my books. Oh, yes, and a black Labrador.
I’ve been writing since I was 14 and that is half a century ago. However, underneath this bald, wrinkly exterior, there beats the heart of a youngster. My wife is convinced I will never grow up. I hope she’s right.

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You can find out more about T.A. Williams on his social networking sites below
Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon author page

Many thanks to Karen Elani at #KEPRTours for organising this blog tour!

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