Sunday, 17 June 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ Mad by Chloé Esposito ~ REVIEW

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Mad by Chloé Esposito where I have a review of Mad, her latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Katie Ashworth from Michael Joseph/Penguin Random House Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of this extract so without further ado, here it is:


With HUGE thanks to Katie Ashworth and Penguin Random House, I received a copy of this in exchange of an honest review......

"There's something you should know before we go any further: my heart is in the wrong place. Now don't say I didn't warn you....."

Meet Alvie, a complete trainwreck. She works in a job that she absolutely hates but lives on social media and mainly on Tinder and Twitter, is constantly tweeting Taylor Swift hoping one day she'll get a reply and is obsessed with Channing Tatum (who isn't?) She eats kebabs for breakfast she's aimless, haphazard, and pretty much constantly drunk and lives in a flat where her flatmates hate her.  She has an identical twin sister named Beth who lives in Italy and is happily married to a hot, rich Italian and dotes on their little baby boy and has always been their mothers favourite twin.

But when Beth sends Alvie a first-class plane ticket to visit her in Italy, Alvie is reluctant to go. But when she gets fired from her job and her flatmates kick her out on the streets, a luxury villa in glitzy Taormina suddenly sounds more appealing. Beth asks Alvie to swap places with her for just a few hours so she can go out unnoticed by her husband. Alvie jumps at the chance to take over her sister's life even if it's only temporarily. But when the night ends with Beth dead at the bottom of the pool, Alvie realises that this is her chance to change her life.

Alvie quickly discovers that living Beth's life is harder than she thought. What was her sister hiding from her husband? And why did Beth invite her to Italy at all? As Alvie digs deeper, she uncovers Mafia connections, secret lovers, attractive hitmen, and one extremely corrupt priest, all of whom are starting to catch on to her charade. Now Alvie has to rely on all the skills that made her unemployable, a turned-to-11 sex drive, a love of guns and having to lie to her mother if she wants to keep her million-dollar prize.

Well, what can I say about this books, I didn't like it, I absolutely LOVED it.  I went in blind reading this and I wasn't even really sure what it was about as I didn't read the blurb but sometimes I feel doing that is much better so you don't know what to expect.  I LOVED Alvie, she was a brilliant character, a real badass who doesn't care who she hurts.  Mad is the first in a trilogy series where it is set between London and Sicily with the next two been called Bad and Dangerous To Know and I can't wait to read the next installment to see what's in store for our heroine after that ending.

Alvina Knightly is Uncensored, Unhinged and utterly Unforgettable.

Going on holidays!?? Make sure you pack a copy of this in your bag as your beach read where it's a compulsive read packed with sex, violence, guns, lots of laugh out loud moments with twists, turns, thrills and spills thrown into the mix where each chapter represents one of the seven deadly sins; Sloth, Envy, Wrath, Lust, Gluttony, Greed and Pride so strap yourself in for one hell of an addictive ride.

I really can't wait to read the next installment in the form of Bad which is released on July 26th 2018 to catch up with what's in store for Alvie.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Mad is available in all good bookshops, libraries, on audio and on Kindle where it is currently £0.99 at the time of publication of this review.


Saturday, 16 June 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ The Single Mum's Mansion by Janet Hoggarth

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Single Mum's Mansion by Janet Hoggarth where I have an extract from Shari's latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Melanie Price from Head of Zeus Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of this extract so without further ado, here it is:


1
The Heartbreak Diet

My face was reflected forlornly in the drip-splattered kettle, huddled in the corner by the compost bin overflowing with the detritus of this morning’s breakfast. A half-sucked toast crust hung like a mini prosthetic leg over the edge where I hadn’t quite managed to ram the bugger in. I pressed the button to start the ritual of tea making within my five-minute window of opportunity. The Chugganug was squatting like a rotund Buddha in his inflatable ring, lovingly chewing a board book on diggers, and the girls were upstairs playing shoe shops in my half-empty wardrobe. I had yet to browse their offerings – slim pickings, if I remember rightly – all lined up at the foot of my bed in pairs. The kettle was about to click off when the hammering on the front door began. Chugga watched me run from the kitchen to the door, swiftly dodging the wooden brick truck with the reflexes of a ninja. Oh, how I had laughed when Sam had broken his toe on it two years previously. Maybe that’s why he left? The hammering stopped and I could make out the shape of a person hovering behind the frosted-glass panels.

The wide entrance hall was home to the red double Phil and Teds buggy, two pink scooters and a faded yellow trike, lined up against the left-hand wall. The pockmarked bare boards were in need of some kind of cheap carpet runner to mask the splattering of silver star stickers from Barbie magazine, but as soon as I pondered this the shiny idea customarily burst into a trillion shards of what’s the fucking point. Baffled by his urgency, I opened the door, expecting it to be the postman.
Alison barged past me, her formidable bump brushing me as she hurricaned it into the house. The chandeliers above squeaked menacingly on their pendulous light fittings and I glanced upwards, wishing (not for the first time) that Sam had never bought them. I was convinced that, any day, one of those bastard chandeliers was going to plummet to the ground and impale someone. They were a testing reminder of jobs abandoned in this half-finished ‘For Ever’ house. Sam had given me the chandeliers as a birthday present a year before he left, with a promise to finally decorate the hallway and return it to its former glory as the centrepiece of the Victorian villa. Instead, it was still smothered in the original seventies mustard-yellow and poo-brown flowery wallpaper all the way from the ground floor up through the heart of the house.

Chugga had crawled over to investigate, and I scooped him up into my arms and sniffed the top of his head before I kissed him. I wondered if I had kissed him over a million times in the last sixteen months. I loved his sweet baby scent, and his hair was like a silky scarf upon my lips, apart from when it became matted with pureéd spinach, potato and cheese bake.

‘Jim’s singing from the same song book as Sam now!’ Alison’s eyes were hidden behind aviators, unnecessary on this dull grey autumn day. I ushered her into the chaos of the kitchen where she skilfully swerved the brick truck, the washing maiden draped with babygrows and small clothes in varying shades of pink, and levered herself down into one of the awkward, yet trendy, bamboo armchairs I had insisted we buy from Habitat. Maybe that’s why he left? He never liked them.

‘What?’ Ali removed her shades and her usual aquiline features and annoyingly perfect skin was puffy and blotchy. I grabbed a tissue from the box by the cooker and thrust it at her, curbing the urge to wipe her dripping nose like I did for everyone else in this house.

‘Jim said he’s going to leave.’
‘But he can’t! You’re just about to give birth!’
‘When has that ever stopped anyone?’ she snapped, smearing tears across her cheeks. ‘Sam left you on Sonny’s first birthday!’

‘He didn’t,’ I barked defensively, squeezing Sonny (Chugga) tightly, making him wriggle down onto the floor where he resumed his love affair with the digger book. I have no idea why I was alleviating Sam’s guilt. A wife’s misplaced sense of duty, perhaps.

‘All right, a couple of weeks later.’
‘How long have you known? When did he say all this? Tea?’
‘Have you got any wine?’

I warily eyed the clock near the back door. It was eleven thirty a.m. but there was a cheap bottle of red already open on the Moomins melamine tray next to the cooker.

‘I suppose it’s wine o’ clock somewhere in the world,’ I sighed, and grabbed a glass.

‘You’re not having one, too?’ Alison’s voice wobbled dangerously. I had found it hard to enjoy wine since Sam had left. In fact, most things were joyless. In the catatonic weeks that followed his swift exit from our home, I had dropped body weight like sandbags from a rising hot-air balloon. My stomach was perpetually clamped shut and anything I did manage to force down came swiftly out of one end or the other. While out shopping a few weeks after Sam left I bumped into my hairdresser when I was mindlessly skimming through one of those achingly trendy gift shops for a friend’s birthday present.

‘Amanda! Is that you?’ Sally had gasped, pushing her shades up onto her head to scrutinise me in detail as I leaned on the double buggy to prevent the spins taking hold. I couldn’t remember when or what I had last eaten.

‘Yes.’ That was all I could manage to say. I knew if I uttered anything else the water works would start gushing. Most days I was perilously close to the edge of Niagara Falls.

‘Are you OK? You don’t look very well. Are you… ill?’ she probed uncertainly, most likely wanting to ask if I had cancer, but not quite daring to. I certainly looked like it, with my twig-like arms and legs and scrawny turkey neck, heartbreak’s version of concentration-camp chic.

‘No. My husband… he left a few weeks ago.’ Predictably the tears started. I flapped my hands by my eyes as if that would somehow quell the tide of grief.

‘Put your Pradas back on,’ Sally ordered, indicating to my sunglasses on top of my head, a Valentine’s gift from Sam a few months earlier. I should have trod on them, ground them under my heel, but I loved them. I still wore my wedding and engagement rings, too. I had tentatively taken them off after a few weeks, but the gap on my finger pulsed like phantom limb syndrome and I had to ram them back on, but they were so loose now that they were in danger of falling off.


Thursday, 14 June 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ Summer of Love by Caro Fraser

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Summer of Love by Caro Fraser where I have an extract from Caro's latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Melanie Price from Head of Zeus Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of this extract so without further ado, here it is:

1
1949

The air was full of the fresh, damp scents of early spring as Meg and Dan Ranscombe turned off the road and walked up the narrow path that led to the back of Woodbourne House. They made a handsome couple – Meg, in her early thirties, was vividly pretty, with dark eyes and chestnut hair curling to her shoulders; Dan, a few years older, was by contrast fair-haired and blue-eyed, his clean-cut features marked by a faint arrogance, a remnant of youthful vanity. They walked in thoughtful silence. It was four years since they had last been to Woodbourne House, the home of Sonia Haddon, Meg’s aunt and Dan’s godmother.

‘I’m glad we took the train instead of driving,’ said Dan, breaking the quiet. ‘I have fond memories of this walk.’

They paused by a big, whitewashed stone barn standing at the foot of a sloping apple orchard.
‘Uncle Henry’s studio,’ murmured Meg. ‘I remember that summer, having to traipse down every morning with barley water and biscuits for him while he was painting.’

Sonia’s husband, Henry Haddon, had been an acclaimed artist in his day, and in pre-war times to have one’s portrait painted by him had had considerable cachet. In Britain’s post-war modernist world, his name had fallen out of fashion.

Dan stood gazing at the barn, lost in his own memories: that final day of the house party twelve years ago, when he had come down to the studio to say farewell to his host. Finding Henry Haddon, his trousers round his ankles, locked in an embrace with Madeleine, the nanny, against the wall of the studio had been absurd and shocking enough, but what had then transpired had been even worse. He could remember still the sound of the ladder crashing to the floor, and the sight of five-year-old Avril peeping over the edge of the hayloft. Presumably the shock of seeing his daughter had brought on Haddon’s heart attack. That, and unwonted sexual exertions. The moments afterwards were confused in his memory, although he recalled setting the ladder aright so that Avril could get down, then sending her running up to the house to get someone to fetch a doctor, while he uselessly attempted to revive Haddon. Madeleine, unsurprisingly, had made herself scarce. And the painting – he remembered that. A portrait of Madeleine in her yellow sundress, seated on a wicker chair, head half-turned as though listening to notes of unheard music, or the footfall of some awaited lover. Haddon had been working on it in the days running up to his death, and no doubt the intimacy forged between painter and sitter had led to that brief and ludicrously tragic affair. The falling ladder had knocked it from the easel, and he had picked it up and placed it with its face to the wall next to the other canvases. He didn’t to this day know why he had done that. Perhaps as a way of closing off and keeping secret what he had witnessed. To this day nobody but he knew about Haddon’s affair with Madeleine. Had the painting ever been discovered? No one had ever mentioned it. Perhaps it was there still, just as he had left it.

Meg glanced at his face. ‘Penny for them.’

‘Oh, nothing,’ said Dan. ‘Just thinking about that house party, when you and I first met.’

What a fateful chain of events had been set in motion in the summer of 1936. He had been a twenty-four-year-old penniless journalist, invited to spend several days at Woodbourne House with a handful of other guests. Meeting and falling in love with Meg had led to the clandestine affair they had conducted throughout the war years behind the back of her husband Paul. Its discovery had led to estrangement with much of the family. Paul, a bomber pilot, had been killed on the way back from a raid over Germany, and the possibility that his discovery of the affair might have contributed in some way, on some level, to his death, still haunted them both. They never spoke of it. Meg and Dan were married now, but the guilt of what they had done remained. Meg’s mother Helen had been trying for some time to persuade her sister, Sonia, to forgive Meg and Dan, and today’s invitation to Woodbourne House was a signal that she had at last relented.

They walked up through the orchard, and when they reached the flagged courtyard at the back of the house Meg said, ‘I’m going to the kitchen to say hello to Effie. I don’t think I can face Aunt Sonia quite yet. I’ll let you go first. Cowardly of me, I know, but I can’t help it.’ She gave him a quick smile and a kiss, and turned in the direction of the kitchen.


Friday, 8 June 2018

REVIEW ~ Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris


With HUGE thanks to the crew at HQ, I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review......

Finn and his girlfriend Layla are a young couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay and to use the bathroom, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she's not inside. No one ever sees her again.

Fast forward ten years he's engaged to be married, he's happy and in love, his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She's turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love........

As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

Well, I didn't like this, I absolutely LOVED it. Gripping and addictive, just when I thought that I'd everything worked out, red herrings were thrown in my path to throw the reader off the scent which is a very clever thing to do in a psychological thriller, rather than it been predictive or having it worked out from the first few pages.  It kept me on my toes and on the edge of my seat. Just go and read it, you definitely won't be disappointed.

Ashamedly, this is the first book by B.A. Paris that I've read even though I have her previous two books here which I'll definitely be reading once I get my ever growing TBR pile down.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Bring Me Back is available in all good bookshops, libraries, on audio and on Kindle where it is currently £1.99 at the time of publication of this review.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

REVIEW ~ The Year That Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly


With HUGE thanks to Elaine Egan, Hachette Ireland and Orion Publishing, I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review..............

Three women are celebrating their milestone birthdays.......30. 40. 50. But as they're going to discover their birthdays marks the start of a year that will change everything.

Ginger isn't spending her 30th the way she would have planned. Tonight might be the first night of the rest of her life - or a total disaster.

Sam is finally pregnant after years of trying. When her waters break on the morning of her 40th birthday, she panics: forget labour, how is she going to be a mother?

Callie is celebrating her 50th at a big party in her Dublin home. Then a knock at the door from the police mid-party turns her perfect life upside down......

I absolutely adored this book, ashamedly I've to admit that it's the first time that I've read a book by Cathy Kelly but It definitely won't be my last.  It was warm and emotive and I warmed to every one of the three women who were celebrating their birthdays.  I really loved Ginger as she reminded me a little of me and her storyline at the start of the book but I'm not going to spoil it.  The only thing I would've liked is if Callie's husband, Jason's story had have been expanded a little on perhaps why he did what he did but that's only a little minor thing.

The Year That Changed Everything is a feelgood, uplifting and emotional novel about family, friends and how far we must go at times before admitting defeat and need them to step in and help out.  What I really enjoyed is that all three women's stories come together by the end of the book and proves that we all do need our girlfriends in our lives.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

The Year That Changed Everything is available from all good bookshops, libraries and on Kindle where it is currently £5.99 at the time of publication of this review.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

REVIEW ~ Don't Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon


With HUGE thanks to Kirsty Doole and Corvus, I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review......

Two sisters. A lifetime of secrets. One terrible reckoning. 

Robin and Sarah weren't the closest of twins. They weren't even that similar. But they loved each other dearly. Until, in the cruelest of domestic twists, they were taken from one another to different sides of the world. 

Now, in her early 30s, Robin lives alone. Formerly a famous rock star, now agoraphobic and suffering from panic attacks, she spends her days pacing the rooms of her house. The rest of the time she watches - watches the street, the houses, the neighbours. Until one day, she sees something that she shouldn't.....

Her twin Sarah got what she wanted - the good-looking man, a beautiful little baby and the perfect home. But she's just been accused of the most terrible thing of all. She can't be around her new family until she has come to terms with something horrific that happened a long time ago. But to do that, she needs to track down her twin sister.

But Sarah isn't the only person looking for Robin. As their paths intersect, something dangerous is set in motion, leading Robin and Sarah to fight for much more than their relationship....

Well, I thought that this wouldn't beat me raving about Try Not To Breathe, Don't Close Your Eyes knocks it out of the park, I absolutely LOVED it. It is a stunning novel with twists, turns, shock with a gripping psychological suspense where two sisters find themselves on the razor's edge of sanity. It is full of untold secrets, an awful lie, and a stifling guilt hold them back. Only one astounding act can set them free. Those last two chapters blew me away with that one last revelation and left me open mouthed too. Well done Holly, another triumph and can't wait to read Love Will Tear Us Apart.

HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Don't Close Your Eyes is available from all good bookshops, libraries, on audio and on Kindle and it is currently £0.99 at the time of publication of this review.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

REVIEW ~ The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor


With huge thanks to Penguin Random House and C.J. Tudor, I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.......

It's 1986 and Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code, these little chalk stick figures they leave for each other as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing will ever be the same.

Thirty years later, Eddie is a fully grown man and  thinks he's put his past behind him. But then one day he gets a letter in the mail which contains a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out his other friends got the same messages, they think it could be a prank until one of them turns up dead. That's when Eddie realises that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

I didn't like this, I LOVED The Chalk Man.  It was cleverly constructed, I was completely gripped from the start especially that prologue, I was left open mouthed to be honest (haha)! It was sharp, witty and it was expertly alternated between flashbacks and the present day and that ending......wow talk about pulse pounding.  As I was reading it, it brought me back to the late 80's like in the book and reminded me of hanging around with my friends and what we used to get up to as kids, going off on the bikes for what we hoped was going to be an adventure.  They were the best days of my life as a kid.  It also reminded me of a bit of The Goonies and Stand By Me thrown into the mix with how those kids used to go off for what they hoped was going to be an adventure, yet they'd get into trouble instead.  I don't want to say anything else apart from that as I don't want to ruin anything for anyone but go and pick up a copy, you won't regret it.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

The Chalk Man is available in all good bookshops, libraries and on Kindle where it is currently £4.99 at the time of publication if this review.