One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus


Publisher: Penguin 34931507._sy475_

Publishing Date: 1st June 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher via Pigeonhole, thank you!

Number of pages: 358

Genre: Young Adult, Thriller

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback






On Thursday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investi­gators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Thursday, he died. But on Friday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they just the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Rating:  two-half-stars


In this novel, five students get detention and during spending their time there one of them dies of an allergic reaction. The remaining four young people are suspected, even though all of them claim they didn’t do it and that someone wants to destroy their lives. However, as it turns out, all of them might have had a reason to kill Simon – so what has really happened?

I didn’t guess who did it. But there is a reason why. I simply stopped to care. The book had an interesting premise, I heard great things about it, the whole hype about it and the next books in the series made me curious and yes, the beginning was really good and had me hooked, but the more I read the more I was losing my interest. The author has build a momentum, things were happening quickly, she’s been adding clues and hints and then… well, then the things went downhill and I found myself skipping through the book, not being able to stand the characters. It’s a YA book and I didn’t know about it – my bad, as I don’t read YA books because I simply need something much more demanding for my brain but of course it’s not the book’s fault and I’m not judging it through it genre. I’m judging it after reading it, taking all my feelings and emotions into consideration.

Now I can see that what was bothering me so much was the fact that the story was truly stereotypical (the good girl, the bad boy, bonding over in the time of crisis, the blossoming romance, the coming – outs and the very talented) and there was really not much moving the plot forward. Instead we were involved in the characters’ lives that were full of problems that really weren’t real problems. Or I’m too old for them to feel like real problems. The characters themselves were… well, young. I’m not sure how I should feel about Simon – sympathise with him because he was the victim or hate him because he was an absolutely awful person. All of the characters had secrets and lied – not only one of them was lying, but actually all of them, on different levels. I appreciate how the author tried to make them different and interesting but for me they were not memorable and too full of clichés.

I liked how the author build suspense, casting suspicion on many characters and giving us many possibilities, making you start questioning everything and everyone, but not to the point of obsession. However, she should not be portraying mental illness and depression as equal with being almost a terrorist – it’s very wrong. Altogether, the book didn’t make me invested in reading.

Finding Dorothy byElizabeth Letts / Social Media Blast

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts


44072454Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 4th April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Historical Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 20.02.2020)



A richly imagined novel that tells the story behind The Wonderful Wizard of Oz , the book that inspired the iconic film, through the eyes of author L. Frank Baum’s intrepid wife, Maud–from the family’s hardscrabble days in South Dakota to the Hollywood film set where she first meets Judy Garland.

Maud Gage Baum, widow of the author of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, met Judy Garland, the young actress playing the role of Dorothy on the set of The Wizard of Oz in 1939. At the time, Maud was seventy-eight and Judy was sixteen. In spite of their age difference, Maud immediately connected to Judy–especially when Maud heard her sing “Over the Rainbow,” a song whose yearning brought to mind the tough years in South Dakota when Maud and her husband struggled to make a living–until Frank Baum’s book became a national sensation.

This wonderfully evocative two-stranded story recreates Maud’s youth as the rebellious daughter of a leading suffragette, and the prairie years of Maud and Frank’s early days when they lived among the people–especially young Dorothy–who would inspire Frank’s masterpiece. Woven into this past story is one set in 1939, describing the high-pressured days on The Wizard of Oz film set where Judy is being badgered by the director, producer, and her ambitious stage mother to lose weight, bind her breasts, and laugh, cry, and act terrified on command. As Maud had promised to protect the original Dorothy back in Aberdeen, she now takes on the job of protecting young Judy.

Rating: four-stars

“Finding Dorothy” is written from Maud Gage Baum’s point of view – she was Frank L. Baum’s, the author of “The Wizard of Oz”, wife. It tells the story in two different time frames and subplots – the first one starting in the 1870’s and telling about Maud’s private life and the second in the 1939 Hollywood, where filming of “The Wizard of Oz” starring Judy Garland took place.
I haven’t seen the film, so there, I’ve just said that. But if I’m to see it anytime then I’ll know that the slippers weren’t ruby and that Oz isn’t emerald green – as the book has just confirmed this.

It was a beautiful, nostalgic story that I thoroughly enjoyed, though I think I’d love to hear about Maud’s childhood much more, she was such a tomboy, just a girl after my own heart. Nevertheless, her story was absolutely captivating, colourful and one of a kind. We cover the years from 1871 to Hollywood in 1939, following a dual time line in Maud’s life.
The story of Maud being a daughter of a leading voice for women’s rights Matilda Gage was already hooking, but it was even better and more interesting to learn Maud getting to know Frank and what has happened after that. Of them, young and poor, and raising a family of four boys. Of Matilda being so upset with her young, independent and well educated daughter to marry so quickly and a “theatre man” that she stopped talking to her daughter after the marriage. I don’t want to recount more – the story is rich in detailed, brilliantly researched information and facts and it’s so hooking that just go and read it for yourself and fell in love with it, just like I did. Maud proves to be her own woman, strong, optimistic and determined.
The second subplot is the making of the movie and Maud tries to keep it true to her husband’s original storyline and where she befriends Judy Garland, and it was fascinating to read those parts. I admired Maud so much, her strength and determination and how unselfish she was, trying to help Judy during filming. She was not afraid to speak her mind when fighting for her husband’s vision, when she’s noticed that something was not right – clearly, the fact of being a daughter of a famous suffragette paid off.

I loved Maud’s passion and determination to ensure that the movie really reflected her late husband’s vision, especially after so many refusals and people and life throwing challenges at her. I adored being able to have a look at the behind the scenes of the movie parts of the story. However, it was also shocking, especially the way the author described how the then 15 years old Judy Garland was treated. I’m guessing that what she’s written has really happened – pills for everything, cigarettes, slap in the face, many “uncles” surrounding her – this manipulation and yes, abuse, was on a daily basis.

It was a very well researched story, with some acts and events of course distorting the truth but still realistic and sounding real. It was an original, captivating, colourful read, full of hidden treasures, behind the scenes facts and things that never saw the light of day. Be aware that the books starts a little slowly and is rather long, as the author goes on to describe the lives of Maud and Frank in a very detailed way, introducing us to all the places where they used to live and all the jobs Frank took up, but when it picks up on pace there was nothing that could me drag away from it. It’s a book with a heart, poignant and touching, a tribute to Frank L. Baum, Maud Baum and “The Wizard of Oz”. It’s about never giving up, about having dreams and letting them come true. The author in a great way blends facts and fiction, so well in fact that you won’t be able to tell which is which. It felt authentic and passionate, engaging and is very well written. Highly recommended!


Finding Dorothy social media blast poster


The Insider by Mari Hannah / Blog Tour + Extract

Hi guys, and first of all, apologies. My stop on Mari Hannah’s blog tour was yesterday and I can’t express how sorry I am for not being able to post on my destined date – having some health problems I just wasn’t able to do this. But I have a brilliant extract from the book for you today – put your feet high and enjoy!




It was the news they had all been dreading, confi rmation of a

fourth victim. For DS Frankie Oliver, the journey to the crime

scene brought back memories of her father driving her around

Northumberland when she was a rookie cop, pointing out the

places where he’d been called to investigate serious incidents

throughout his own police career, giving her the benefi t of

his advice along the way. He’d been doing this since she was

a kid, only with less detail, leaving out the unspeakable horrors

the locations represented. Back then, they were words.

Just words. Narratives that, if she were being honest, excited

her in ways they should not. And then there was the night

he stopped talking: an experience etched on their collective

memory forever more – a night too close to home.

Flashlight beams bobbed up and down, illuminating sheets of

horizontal rain. The detectives stumbled along the Tyne Valley

track, heading east on the Northern Rail line linking Carlisle

to Newcastle. No light pollution here. Under a dark, forbidding

sky, it was diffi cult terrain, rutted and sodden so close

to the water’s edge. The swollen river thundered by, a course

of water liable to fl ash fl ooding. Red alerts for the area were

a regular occurrence. At midday, Northumberland’s monitoring

stations had warned of a serious threat to those living

nearby. If the Tyne rose quickly, Frankie knew they would be

in trouble. Many a walker had slipped into the water here by


Few had survived.

Lightning forked, exposing the beauty of the surrounding

landscape. A high-voltage electric charge, followed by the

rumble of thunder in the distance, an omen of more rain to

come. The lead investigator, Detective Chief Inspector David

Stone, was a blurred smudge a hundred metres in front of

her, head bowed, shoulders hunched against the relentless


Mud sucked at Frankie’s feet as she fought to keep up, two

steps forward, one back, as she tried to get a purchase on the

slippery surface. Her right foot stuck fast, the momentum of

her stride propelling her forward, minus a wellington boot.

She fell, head fi rst, hands and knees skidding as she tried

to stay upright. Dragging herself up, she swore under her

breath as brown sludge stuck to her clothing, weighing her


Unaware of her plight, David was making headway, sweeping

his torch left and right in a wide arc close to Eels Wood. He

had one agenda and Frankie wasn’t it. With a feeling of dread

eating its way into her gut, she peered into the undergrowth

blocking her passage. Where was a stick when you needed

one? As she parted the brambles, there was an ear-splitting

crack, a terrifying sound. Before she had time to react, a tree

fell, crashing to earth with an excruciating thump, unearthed

by a raging torrent of water fi ltering off higher ground, its

roots unable to sustain the weight of a century of growth,

landing metres in front of her.

Frankie blew out a breath.

Only once before had she come closer to violent death.

Hoping her luck would hold, she vaulted the tree and

ploughed on. From an investigative standpoint, the situation

was grim. Had there been any footprints adjacent to the line,

they were long gone. As crime scenes go, they would be fi ghting

a losing battle to preserve evidence, assuming they ever

found the body spotted by an eyewitness, a passenger on an

eastbound train. Where the fuck was it?

Frankie expected to see the dragon ahead, a wide-eye LED

searchlight used by emergency services, an intense beam of

white light guiding her. As far as the eye could see there was

no light visible, other than the beam of David’s fl ashlight.

Worrying. Exasperating. Frankie couldn’t be arsed with this.

Pulling her radio from her pocket, she pressed the transmit

button hoping her link to Control wouldn’t be affected by the

appalling weather. It would be a heavy night in the control

room, for sure.



The Man I Think I Know by Mike Gayle

The Man I Think I Know by Mike Gayle


37823400Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 19th April 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 29.11.2018)




Whatever happens to those kids at school who are always being tipped to be stars in adult life?

It’s a question all of us find ourselves asking at some time and Mike Gayle’s powerful, poignant novel answers it with regard to Danny Morgan and James McManus – rivals for top honours in everything throughout their school years in Birmingham.

Whatever their friends and teachers might have expected, neither Danny nor James is currently running the country.

Depressed and unemployed, Danny is facing an ultimatum from his girlfriend Maya: if he doesn’t get out and get a job, she’s leaving.

It was an accident that changed James’s life and now he is looked after affectionately by his parents. But his sister Martha believes that the role of full-time carers is destroying their lives – and infantilising her brother.

She suggests that James should go into a respite home while her parents take a break.

The respite home, as it turns out, where Danny has just got a job.

What is the path that has brought these two people to this unexpected place, and where will it take them next?

This is the story of Danny and James, but also of the families who love them and of the women they love. It is a story of many surprising twists, by turns funny and sad, painful and uplifting, and marks a brilliant new stage in the writing career of one of Britain’s favourite novelists.

Rating: five-stars

Having been a great fan of Mike Gayle since reading his first novel “My Legendary Girlfriend” I am always impatiently waiting for his new release. This time he let us wait long but it was worth the wait, as I think that “The Man I Think I Know” must be his best novel yet. Mike Gayle has always been a champion of writing about relationships but this time he’s opted for a different one, this of a friendship, and still he pulled it off completely, delivering a fantastic, emotional and realistic story. I had a feeling that few of Mike Gayle’s last books were a little different in tone but this book seems like a new direction – it’s mature, it’s powerful yet it still reads like other books by this author.

Mike Gayle’s writing style stays the same – it’s full of humour but also down to earth, chatty and easy to follow. His characters are always brilliantly developed and it’s the same here with Danny and James, as well as the other background characters. The friendship described in this story sounds realistic and true, both characters are genuine in what they’re doing and how they communicate. They are believable. They made mistakes, they’re not perfect, they have better and worse moments which only made them more true to life.
It is also one of the most unlikely friendships taking into consideration all the circumstances: how Danny and James got to know each other and how they met again after all those years. The story is told in alternative point of views and it was a great way to tell it. With their stories, they just pull you in deeper and deeper and I quickly found myself falling for them both and found both stories incredibly interesting and captivating. I was waiting for the big reveal and when it came I didn’t feel disappointed, like it often happens when you’re waiting for something holding your breath and then it feels so meh. No, it lived up to my expectations and the only thing that bothered me a little and left me a bit disappointed was the ending, guys, I’d love a little bit more, but it was the only thing, other than that I loved this story.

The things the characters are forced to deal with, those many things in their lives are true to life, and the way they’re dealt with is realistic, relatable and believable. The author offers also a very deep and detailed insight into a life with ABI – acquired brain injury and I loved the way it was dealt with, with tons of understanding and subtlety but without pitying. With his words, he touches upon the right heart – strings.

“The Man I Think I Know” is a book about second chances and personal growths. It’s heart – warming and uplifting, as well as poignant and moving. I drank this story in with my whole being, I didn’t want to miss a single word. A bittersweet, realistic tale about family dynamics, love and second chances with enough drama, fun and charming romance that I highly, highly recommend!

The Cafe at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke

The Cafe at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke


37612808Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 15th March 2018

Source:  Received from publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 309

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback





Welcome to the Café at Seashell Cove, where you’ll find irresistible home-baked cakes, smiling friendly faces – and maybe even a second chance at love…

When Cassie Maitland needs a holiday from her glamorous but stressful job in event management, she escapes home to gorgeous Seashell Cove, where her family’s cosy café sits perched on the cliffs above sparkling waves and golden sand.

But a lot has changed while Cassie’s been away: her parents have transformed their tired café into a welcoming haven, her friends Meg and Tilly have whole new lives, and old flame Danny’s twinkling eyes and winning smile make Cassie feel even more flustered than they used to.

Keen to throw herself back into local life, Cassie starts to run themed events – including a not entirely successful cat-café day, complete with dozens of felines. Luckily Danny is always around to lend a helping hand, and Cassie soon begins to wonder if her life in London was really all she made it out to be…

Could a new start in Seashell Cove be exactly what Cassie needs?

Rating: three-stars

In “The Cafe at Seashell Cove”, after losing her job as an event planer after one too many mistakes, Cassie comes back home to her parents in Seashell Cove. Of course, she’s afraid they’re going to be disappointed in her losing her job, especially as they are so, so proud of her, boasting about her and her high – flying job in London, so she simply says she’s on holidays. However, while at home, she wants to try to start her own event – planning business and her parents’ cafe is the perfect trial for her, even though they’re very happy with the way it works. So is Cassie going to cause more trouble than it’s worth or is she going to find her two feet and start a new career?

The character of Cassie was very annoying. She didn’t behave like a woman in her late twenties, she was just too childish. She was the only one who knew what’s wrong and what’s right, she didn’t hear to other people and everything was always about her. If people didn’t agree with her, they were described by the author as “bitchy” and were made look bad. I more than once wanted to tell Cassie to just stop trying to make people happy no matter what, to stop and start listening what others try to tell her. She also gave impression of being really very incompetent in what she was doing and I couldn’t believe nobody commented how crap she was at it – she really just ran into everything without thinking, feet first, and it just somehow didn’t fit the picture of the perfect, professional Cassie she wanted everybody to believe in. I just couldn’t warm to her and connect with her, with the fact that she ignored other people’s need, focusing only on her herself. Also, I do know that families should keep together, support each other and be proud of each other but I just wanted to cry out loud and bang my head on the nearest wall at another mention of Cassie’s parents Being. So. Proud. Of. Her. Yes, I do get where the author was coming from and what she was aiming at here but maybe it could have been better or differently developed.

The “romance” with Adam was so very unrealistic and unbelievable. They were like two strange people and the sudden appearance of Adam was probably one of the most unpredictable things that could ever happen. I know, unpredictable is good but I think not in this case. They didn’t know each other, I really don’t know why they were together and why they’ve broken up, there was no chemistry in this relationship.

“The Cafe at the Seashell Cove” has one of the most gorgeous covers ever and probably it’s the best part of this book. But altogether, it was a light – hearted read that had its moments and I would recommend giving it a try – you may enjoy it much better than I did, maybe I’m just growing out of such stories? It was entertaining, cute and sweet read but – sadly – not for me.

A Year of New Adventures by Maddie Please / #BlogTour + Guest Post

Hi you lovely folks out there. Valentine’s Day, right? Today I have another blog tour for you, to celebrate Maddie Please’s new novel. Last year I read her debut novel “The Summer of Second chances” and I adored it, so I didn’t hesitate long to take part in the blog tour. I have a brilliant guest post from Maddie for you today, so put your feet high, enjoy the chocolates that you got and have fun!

My Writing Soundtrack.


When I am writing I listen to the radio. I’m not organised enough to do a Spotify playlist and anyway I do like to listen to the occasional bit of chitchat as well. Radio 1 is a foreign country to me these days. Best selling, chart topping, rowdy, internationally famous bands I’ve never heard of. Radio 2 is ok, Radio 3 just not my scene, sorry.  Radio 4 beyond dull these days, the only thing I occasionally listen to is the omnibus Archers on Sunday morning. And then I nearly always pause to wonder what the hell is going on? Who are these people with their random relationships, fights, feuds and pregnancies? Blowed if I know. It used to be about farming. The most exciting thing was would it rain before Phil Archer managed to get the harvest in?

No, I have found my listening home and it’s a gem of a radio station; BBC Radio Devon.

In my opinion this radio station cannot be beaten. The day starts with Gordon Sparks, known as Sparksy, cheerful banter and his guess the year Gordon hours. At 10.00am is David Fitzgerald (Fitz) with his Siamese cat obsession and the world’s only radio crossword. I’m not making this up. People – (I think it’s always the same gang, such as Gloria from Feniton who phones in so often she has her own jingle, or Eddie who is blind and only allows herself a biscuit if she’s been for a walk,) ring up to answer clues and win a t-shirt and what Fitz politely describes as a ‘load of tut.’ He often interviews local authors keen to publicise their books. Naturally enough it’s my ambition to be interviewed by him.

In the afternoon there is the Devon Debates programme with Janet Kipling when listeners ring up to debate the issues of the day. It’s incredible stuff when certain participants such as Electric Mike from Braunton have to be faded out because they are so whacky. Then to round off the afternoon three hours of Matt Woodley and the beautifully named Pippa Quelch. This pair are so well matched they routinely reduce each other to uncontrollable giggles and presumably have to be taken out the back to calm down.

And the music? You wouldn’t describe it as edgy or startling. It’s gentle, ideal background music and suits me just fine. And if Fitz wants to interview me, I’m available.



The Last Laugh by Tracy Bloom

The Last Laugh by Tracy Bloom


36986900Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 23rd February 2018

Source:  Received from publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 294

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle





‘I’ve googled it, how to die,’ Jenny says to Maureen. ‘It was full of climbing this mountain, swimming that sea, becoming a marathon runner and raising millions for charity.’

‘Sounds like bloody hard work. You can make it more fun than that surely?’

Jenny discovers her days are numbered at the same time she discovers her husband is having an affair…

Frankly, her life was tough enough already. Two tricky teenagers, her mother’s constant complaints, friends who aren’t up to the job and a career which has been spiralling downwards since she won ‘Sunseeker Tour Rep of the Season’ twenty years ago.

And now this: a cheating husband and a death sentence.

Enough is enough. Jenny vows to keep both catastrophes a secret. She takes her life – and death – into her own hands and decides to live as she did when she was happiest… in 1996. She plans a spectacular 1990’s themed party in place of a wake that she herself will attend. But will she be able to keep her secrets for long enough to have the party of a lifetime?

From No. 1 bestseller Tracy Bloom, The Last Laugh is both hilarious and heartbreaking, a book about how to find happiness and live your life as though every day is your last. Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and The Kicking the Bucket List.

Rating: four-stars

I don’t know if “The Last Laugh” is a new direction for the author, or she has just wanted to try something new for a moment – whatever it is, it has worked and Tracy Bloom has delivered a wonderful, poignant story. It is being advertised as a “romantic comedy”, however I wouldn’t agree with this, for me it was more poignant than laugh – out – loud, although the book had its funny moments as well – of course, it is Tracy Bloom’s book!

On the day Jenny (mum of two) finds out she’s terminally ill, she also finds out her husband is shagging another woman in his office. Not her best day, that’s for sure. But instead of confronting her husband or even telling her family about the cancer, she decides to try and recapture the fun she used to have when she was in her twenties (because those were her best years, when she was the happiest) and with Maureen’s help (an elderly lady from the care home where Jenny works) she organises a 1996 themed party, with Spice Girls, bouncy castles, sumo suits, food and her old friends from back then – what follows are tons of misunderstandings, reunions, makeovers.

Jenny does everything that we forget that she has cancer and my heart really went to her. She was a great character, although to be honest at the beginning I wasn’t sure what to do with her and what to think about her. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t totally get why Jenny doesn’t want to tell her family about her cancer. Yes, the circumstances, finding out her husband is cheating on her, I understand, she was in shock, but I mean, you are terminally ill? You’d want to share this with your family, no? However, it changed very quickly and she had my full attention and sympathy. She was strong, incredibly strong, despite having to cope with unfaithful husband, illness, stubborn, moody, stroppy daughter and shy and anxious son with some problems. She was very independent and didn’t treat herself too seriously, and to be honest, after getting to know her very dismissive mother and always absent brother, I supported her in her decision of not telling anybody about the cancer. Even though the older, always knowing everything better characters are not my favourite ones, this time I loved Maureen, her friend from the care home, who took care of Jenny, even though she was the one to be taken care of.

I really, really liked the end. I was afraid that I’m going to end a snotty mess but Tracy Bloom has brilliantly resolved this situation. I don’t think the end was abrupt or too rushed. I don’t have to know what has happened to Jenny because well, we DO know what has happened to Jenny going forwards. I just didn’t have to read about it – I fell for Jenny and she felt like one of my friends and I think seeing her the way I though the book is going to end would break me apart. So huge brownie points for the author for doing what she did, for letting us to decide about our own goodbye to Jenny.

“The last Laugh” was an emotional read that will make you cry and laugh and maybe start to appreciate your life even more. It was about cherishing your life and those around you as well, but also about the fact that you should be cherished by your family and friends as well. It was bittersweet and very real. It was a touching story about relationships, marriage, being in love, friends and about making new memories. It was full of some incredibly poignant moments that hit me really hard. Let’s make some good memories, guys.