The House on the Edge of the Cliff by Carol Drinkwater / Blog Tour

The House on the Edge of the Cliff by Carol Drinkwater

 

41trrnx2ctl._sx323_bo1204203200_Publisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 16th May  2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 448

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

From bestselling author Carol Drinkwater, comes an epic story of enduring love and betrayal, from Paris in the 1960s, to the present day.

No one else knows what happened that summer. Or so she believes . . .

Grace first came to France a lifetime ago. Young and full of dreams of adventure, she met two very different men.

She fell under the spell of one. The other fell under hers.

Until one summer night shattered everything . . .

Now, Grace is living an idyllic life with her husband, sheltered from the world in a magnificent Provençal villa, perched atop a windswept cliff.

Every day she looks out over the sea – the only witness to that fateful night years ago.

Until a stranger arrives at the house. A stranger who knows everything, and won’t leave until he gets what he wants.

The past and present spectacularly collide in this gripping story of love and betrayal echoing across the decades.
_________

my-review

 

Grace fell in love with France almost a lifetime ago, when she was 16 year old girl and came there with her boyfriend Peter. Full of life and dreams then, now living a happy life in the idyllic home on the beautiful coast of Provence with – yes, Peter! However, this idyll is to be shattered with the appearance of a strange man. But is he really so strange? Did Grace used to know him and believed him to have drowned? As the past comes back to haunt Grace, she’s forced to re – examine what has happened all those years ago and at the same time to keep her family safe. Will she manage?

The characters are masterfully written and developed, and while I personally didn’t fell for them all, I nevertheless appreciated them. I must admit that I much more liked them as the adult versions from their younger ones. Grace is our main character and narrator of the story and her voice is distinctive, and there is something confessional in it, she’s not holding back, we get to know the whole truth.

The scenes set in the 1960’s in Paris were very detailed and felt as if they might have been autobiographical perhaps? So many details and so many insider knowledge were there. However, to be totally honest, these scenes were for me very slow going, I much preferred the storyline set in the present, the past simply focused too much and heavily on history and politics and it just didn’t grab me. In the end, I found myself skimming through those parts without a feeling that I’m missing on something. As the story progresses though, it gets darker and more serious, and I had a feeling that something really bad is going to happen.

Carol Drinkwater’s writing style is exquisite and her attention to the smallest details is incredible. The descriptions of nature, food, sea, weather but also feelings and emotions that were milling about on the pages of this book were mesmerizing. The setting of the story, especially the part set in France, is beautiful and I can’t imagine a better one for this book. I loved the idea of the lone house on a cliff, it was a brilliant setting for this story. The house was actually a character of its own, with its history and it changing hands in the family, being a place where everybody feels safe and loved.

There are for sure some twists throughout the story that, in the end, finishes with a satisfying conclusion. Sadly, though, this story didn’t appeal to me as much as I hoped it would – there is no particular reason for this, sometimes it works like this. It was full of dark secrets, misunderstandings and tension, riddled with tragedy. It was a multi – layered story, going back and forth in time. I really, really liked to see how the past has made the characters who they are in the present, to be a witness to all the changes, to watch them changing, making mistakes, growing and maturing. The writing style is descriptive and eloquent, and brings everything the author writes about to life. “The House on the Edge of the Cliff” was a very atmospheric novel about obsession, love, hate, betrayal, guilt and forgiveness.

 

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A Perfect Cornish Summer by Phillipa Ashley / Blog Tour

A Perfect Cornish Summer by Phillipa Ashley

 

41716141Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 25th April  2019

Series: Porthmellow Harbour #1

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 16.05.2019)

 

Synopsis:

The first in a gorgeous new series from the author of Summer at the Cornish Cafe.
Summer is on the horizon, and the people of Porthmellow are eagerly awaiting the annual food festival. At least, most of them are…
For Sam Lovell, organising the summer festival in her hometown is one of the highlights of her year. It’s not always smooth sailing, but she loves to see Porthmellow’s harbour packed with happy visitors, and being on the committee has provided a much-needed distraction from the drama in her family life (and the distinct lack of it in her love life).
When their star guest pulls out with only a few weeks to go, everyone’s delighted when a London chef who grew up locally steps in at the last minute. But Gabe Matthias is the last person Sam was expecting to see, and his return to Porthmellow will change her quiet coastal life for ever.
Curl up with this gorgeous novel and savour the world of Porthmellow Harbour.

 

my-review

 

Sam Lovell owns a Catering Company and organises the yearly local food festival. This year, however, there is a major incident, as the guest celebrity chef pulls out at the last minute. Sam’s friend Chloe manages to organize a replacement but when Sam learns who it is, she’s not too happy – Gabe Matthias, TV chef, who’s local and has history with Sam, history that she’d rather forget, and there is a serious reason why she feels like this. But not only Sam, also part of the town as well. Will Gabe be able to get them all on side again? Is it at all possible that the food festival make it to another year, and more?

There were plenty of characters in this novel, and every single one of them with their own story, so in the end there are many threads running through the novel. It wasn’t the easiest to keep them all on track and I often felt confused at who, why and what, and where shall I pay attention? But of course those storylines are much relevant and they tie well with one another, and I’m guessing we needed them in this book as a kind of introduction for the next books in the series that will for sure focus on different characters. Nevertheless, I had a feeling that simply too much is going on in this book.

My biggest problem with this novel was the fact that there was actually nothing that has surprised me. All the time I had a feeling “I’ve been there, I’ve seen this” and this is probably why it couldn’t keep my attention. There was all you could wish for in that kind of a book: friendship, community, romance, good food etc, and it’s great, please don’t get me wrong, but it simply felt too flat and too repetitive. And the names Samphire and Zennor, well, at the beginning I’ve though that must have been a spelling error but it turned out they weren’t. I couldn’t get used to them till the very end of the book, to be honest. And why was their brother called Ryan then? In for a penny, in for a pound, right?

As much as the circumstances of bringing Sam and Gabe back together were really nice, I still had a feeling that there is not enough interaction between them, that there is not enough chemistry, and so this relationship left me feeling a bit lukewarm. Also, huge parts of the book are dedicated to the festival, and of course it was absolutely all right, and I enjoyed them, but somehow, Gabe and Sam simply went astray in all those descriptions of the events, all the organizational issues.

Phillipa Ashley’s writing style is lovely, sunny and bright. She must be one of the best when it comes to the settings of her novels, because they are always picturesque, exceptionally beautiful and effortlessly brought to life. She easily transports you to the place she’s writing about. And altogether, !A Perfect Cornish Summer” was a light – hearted, warm story about second chances, community spirit, friendship and family, and it had this brilliant Food Festival in it as well – though I’d love more of it itself than the build up towards it, more lush descriptions of food. An uplifting tale about working together, sticking together and helping one another to succeed.

 

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The Evidence Against You by Gillian McAllister

The Evidence Against You by Gillian McAllister

 

39940912Publisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 18th April  2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 422

Genre: Mystery, Crime, Thriller

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

DON’T MISS THE BRAND-NEW THRILLER FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF EVERYTHING BUT THE TRUTH AND ANYTHING YOU DO SAY

It’s the day her father will be released from jail. Izzy English has every reason to feel conflicted – he’s the man who gave her a childhood filled with happy memories. But he has also just served seventeen years for the murder of her mother.

Now, Izzy’s father sends her a letter. He wants to talk, to defend himself against each piece of evidence from his trial. But should she give him the benefit of the doubt? Or is her father guilty as charged, and luring her into a trap?

People can’t get enough of Gillian McAllister’s psychological thrillers . . .

 

 

my-review

 

Izzy’s father was found guilty of her mother’s murder and sentenced. Fast forward 18 years and he’s being released now and of course gets in touch with his daughter to profess his innocence. Izzy doesn’t know what to think – he was sentenced, so he was found guilty but he’s also her father that he misses terribly, a father who gave her a childhood filled with plenty of happy, unforgettable moments – but he also murdered her mother! Part of her believes him, so she decides to give him a chance and together they try to uncover the truth – what has really happened and is Gabe as innocent as he says?

I think that after hearing brilliant things about Gillian McAllister, I was simply expecting a book that will blow me away, however “The Evidence Against You” left me with mixed feelings. I, of course, appreciated how deceitful the story was. Throughout the book, along the way, Izzy starts to dig deeper and deeper and finds out that things are much more complicated that they seemed at first, that her mother has kept secrets and lied, but well, the dead can’t defend themselves, right, so it was really confusing for her to decide who to trust, her late mother or her father, and I wouldn’t like to put myself in her shoes to be honest.

I couldn’t engage with the characters in a way that I like to. I was not sure what to think about them, what to make of them. Izzy seemed so emotionless, detached, she lived day after day but she didn’t enjoy her life, she used to keep secrets all the time and from everybody, for no reasons really and she didn’t feel very well rounded. But in the end I was really glad to see that she eventually found the courage to come out of her shell, to do this what makes her happy, to see her relaxed and happy with her life again.

The book grows on you in time though, and even though the characters may not be your favourite ones, I was immersed in the events and the clever plot. I was intrigued to see if Gabe was telling the truth, because of course the author has cared for it not to be too straightforward, she gave us plenty of options and situations to make up our minds, though I found myself changing my own all the time. I simply wasn’t sure who I can trust, and there was a moment or two that I also started to doubt in Izzy herself, gah. As for Gabe again, I had a feeling that he tries to manipulate and really, till the end I found I can’t relax around him.

I really liked how the author gave us the possibility to look at different evidence and see how it works for the different involved sides and people – that was a very clever move from her! It was thrilling to see how one word, one sentence, can change your mind or point you in totally different direction, make you think and sometimes over think. However, there came a moment that it started to feel a little too repetitive, when Izzy was starting to believe in her father innocence and then discovering something that made her – again! – withdrew from contact with him, and then the same pattern repeating itself. Perhaps this is why I found the story progressing very slowly and sometimes I had a feeling that we’re simply not moving ahead.

Nevertheless, the final reveal surprised me, though I am still not my sure what my feelings about it are. On one hand, the author has brilliantly tangled up all the threads, skilfully hidden all the tips that were there for those with eagle eyes (sadly, not me then) but on the other I felt, I don’t know, lukewarm? Disappointed? Also, there was too less tension for me, I just didn’t feel there was any big mystery to be solved, that there was something really bad going to happen. But on the whole I loved how the author has written the story, with the reader (me) being torn between wanting Gabe to be innocent and then believing he most certainly isn’t. It was dark and thought – provoking and I am looking forward to read Gillian McAllister’s previous books.

 

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Him by Clare Empson / Blog Tour

Him by Clare Empson

 

36155709Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 4th April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Big Little Lies meets 13 Reasons Why in this dark and suspenseful debut from a stunning new talent.

It all started with … HIM.

Catherine has become mute. She has witnessed something so disturbing that she simply can’t speak – not to her husband, her children, or her friends. The doctors say the only way forward is to look into her past. Catherine needs to start with Him. Lucian.

Catherine met the love of her life at university and was drawn into his elite circle of privileged, hedonistic friends. But one night it all falls apart and she leaves him, shattering his life forever.

Still, fifteen years later, Lucian haunts every one of Catherine’s quiet moments, and when they are unexpectedly reunited, their love reignites with explosive force.

But they can’t move on from what happened all those years ago. In fact, uncovering the truth will cause their lives to implode once again. This time, with disastrous consequences.

my-review

 

15 years ago, Catherine met Lucian and they fell in love – beautiful, honest, passionate love. But then something happens Catherine breaks up with Lucian – without an explanation – and she disappears from his life. But, even though she marries Sam and they have two children, she can’t forget Lucian. Fast forward to present, four months ago something horrible happened to Catherine, something that caused her to shut down entirely, to stop talking with Sam and the children. What happened when she met Lucian again?

The story jumps between past and present. 15 years ago Catherine and Lucian were at the university, then we have 4 months before (before this something really bad happened?). Catherine is in a hospital now, not being able to speak after “this” happened, and the author has done a great job of getting into Catherine’s head, bringing all her fears, feelings and emotions to life. The switches in time may sound confusing but they’re really not, I was always able to keep track of the plot. However, it is a story that develops in a very slow way, so be prepared for this, and I think it wins from not adding many incredibly twists and turns but focusing on the complex, assured plot.

Catherine, Lucian, Liv and Sam were likeable and relatable characters while Lucian’s group of friends was simply awful and, let’s be honest, a little stereotyped, those posh kids at Bristol University, snobbish and privileged. This mix of different personalities was, though, really great but I’d love more depth to them all. However, with them all so different, it was only a matter of time before this all was going to explode, right? For their secrets to be revealed and I’ve been waiting impatiently for this to happen.

I’ve missed Jack’s point of view, his motivation – why was he like this, what was it that made him want to be like Lucian. There was too little depth to his character and I simply couldn’t get his obsession. Also, the fact that there was a mystery, a secret was absolutely brilliant, however in my opinion it took too long to reveal it. From the very beginning we are made aware that something really bad had happened, it is mentioned in almost every single chapter, especially those told from Catherine’s point of view, and you know how it is, sometimes less is more, sometimes it’s advisable not to hint so much and let the reader wait till the very end because they can start to feel frustrated and the whole good idea simply loses on tension and suspense.

“Him” was a story of unconditional love, guilt and obsession. It was a dark and tragic tale of love that’s gone wrong and toxic friendship. It’s a slow burner and is rather character driven but it’s gripping. It felt very mature in terms of literary and it’s a splendid debut novel written with sensitivity and skill. It’s more social drama than psychological thriller for me, but whatever the label it was a gripping, absorbing and heart – wrenching story, very atmospheric, sad and thick with nostalgia.

 

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Our Life in a Day by Jamie Fewery

Our Life in a Day by Jamie Fewery

 

41878858Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 18th April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 304

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Our Life in a Day is a breathtaking, ten-year love story told in twenty-four individual hours – for fans of One Day by David Nicholls, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and The Note by Zoe Folbigg.

The rules are simple. Choose the most significant moments from your relationship – one for each hour in the day.
You’d probably pick when you first met, right?
And the instant you knew for sure it was love?
Maybe even the time you watched the sunrise after your first night together?

But what about the car journey on the holiday where everything started to go wrong?
Or your first proper fight?

Or that time you lied about where you’d been?

It’s a once in a lifetime chance to learn the truth. But if you had to be completely honest with the one you love, would you still play?

For Esme and Tom, the game is about to begin. And once they start, there’s no going back . . .

Rating: three-stars

 

On their 10th anniversary, Esme has created a game for Tom – for each hour of the day he should choose a significant moment from their relationship, so altogether there should be 24 of them, no matter if they’re happy or sad – but they must be important. So Tom, albeit reluctantly, goes back as far as 2007 where they met at the party and together with him we see the best and worst part of their relationship.
The moments Tom has chosen are not listed in a particular chronological order, and maybe it’s better, because there was this surprise effect. It was truly interesting and intriguing to follow those moments, wondering why Tom chose them and not different ones.

The book started great, it had me hooked and hold my interest, but then it somehow went downhill and I really wasn’t sure where it was heading. In the end I found myself skipping some passages without a feeling that I’m missing on something – maybe it was simply too sad and too depressing for me? I know this is life the author wrote about but on the whole the story felt too disheartening, without hope.

My biggest problem here was Esme, I think. I simply couldn’t warm to her and couldn’t accept her demanding attitude. It looked like she was deciding about everything, as if Tom had nothing to say. Everything was good as long as it was Esme’s decision. Sure, Tom also wasn’t perfect, they were both full of flaws, which is great, because who isn’t, but Esme was one of a kind, came across as spoiled and egoistical. Esme doesn’t suggest, Esme demands, and in comparison Tom seems very weak. And while this book was very character driven, and I couldn’t connect with the characters, I had problems with warming to the whole plot, to engage with the story. However, I appreciate the way the author has described and developed his characters. Esme and Tom had their own distinctive voices, their own strengths and weaknesses. There were many moments that I wanted to shake them badly, at Esme being so stubborn and at Tom for keeping the truth from her. But I didn’t feel invested in their lives.

What I liked in this book was that it felt so very realistic and down to earth in the way Tom and Esme’s relationship was working. Sometimes it was good, sometimes it was tense, just like in real life. The writing style was really good – it was easy to read, flowing seamlessly, with vivid descriptions, bringing feelings and emotions to life. It was a story pulling the good and the bad from real life. It provided us with a realistic, brutally honest, bittersweet view of a relationship. It is not a light read, and I think I expected it to be, but I’d say the opposite, as it deals with heavy subjects. It felt raw, real and genuine, without sugar-coating things, telling how it is.

 

The Time of Our Lives by Portia MacIntosh

The Time of Our Lives by Portia MacIntosh

 

44073128Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 12th April 2019

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

Number of pages: 235

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 11.07.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Love is in the air…?

Luca is used to being the ‘single one’ at weddings – it happens, when all your other friends are engaged, married or taken. But when she bumps into Tom, her friend from university who broke her heart into a million pieces, she finds herself wondering what could have been.

It’s ten years later, surely she should be over that Tom by now? So why is he looking even more gorgeous than ever – and why doesn’t he seem to be able to keep his eyes off her either?

And as the champagne flows and old secrets resurface, Luca realises that perhaps the time to take a chance on love and life is…now?

The laugh-out-loud new novel from bestseller Portia Macintosh!

Rating: three-stars

 

Luca is fine. Or isn’t she? Attending another wedding of her uni’s friend she realises that she’s always the single one, another are engaged/married/otherwise romantically occupied. She starts to feel that time moves on while she stays in place. When she also meets Tom at the wedding, her ex/not ex – boyfriend, she starts to think and evaluate her life.

The story actually unfold on a wedding day, and it was incredibly how much can happen in a day – well, especially when you are as accident – prone as Luca, that is. The present intertwines with flashbacks to the past and we slowly get to know the characters and their lives as a group. Also, it turns out of course that there are, and were, many secrets, misunderstatements and plays. So as much as Luca is our main character, the others play as important role in the book as she is, because they helped to shape her. However, maybe because of the relatively huge number of characters, I had a feeling that they were not good enough developed. They were there, but there was not enough depth to them and to be honest, I haven’t felt connection with them. I think Luca tried to be über – cool and nonchalant in her life. She was your normal, everyday girl, sharp – mouthed and generally happy with herself but I couldn’t warm completely to her, to be honest, not sure why.

The humour this time was also not so Portia MacIntosh – it felt too flat and there were moments that probably were supposed to be funny, like with Luca suddenly being a bridesmaid and the bride’s wishes and requests but it only felt too overdone. I also think she tried to make it a sitcom – like rom – com, with flashbacks and hilarious situations but, unfortunately it didn’t work.

From the author like Portia MacIntosh I was simply expecting something better, ambitious. I was left with a feeling that she herself didn’t connect with the story at all, it scratched below the surface, was without a depth. There were some moments that saved the book for me though on the whole I was really hoping for something deeper, with the MacIntosh’s hallmark humour and sharp observations. Altogether, “The Time of Our Lives” was a light – hearted, easy and fairly straight – forward and predictable read but nevertheless a read that will keep you reading. The pacing was right, the dialogues dynamic and it dealt with the fact that you should fight for things that you feel will make you happy.

 

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Ayesha at Lat by Uzma Jalaluddin

 

40133941Publisher: Corvus

Publishing Date: 4th April 2019

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

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A big-hearted, captivating, modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice, with hijabs instead of top hats and kurtas instead of corsets.

AYESHA SHAMSI has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been overtaken by a demanding teaching job. Her boisterous Muslim family, and numerous (interfering) aunties, are professional naggers. And her flighty young cousin, about to reject her one hundredth marriage proposal, is a constant reminder that Ayesha is still single.

Ayesha might be a little lonely, but the one thing she doesn’t want is an arranged marriage. And then she meets Khalid… How could a man so conservative and judgmental (and, yes, smart and annoyingly handsome) have wormed his way into her thoughts so quickly?

As for Khalid, he’s happy the way he is; his mother will find him a suitable bride. But why can’t he get the captivating, outspoken Ayesha out of his mind? They’re far too different to be a good match, surely…

Rating: three-stars

 

Ayesha is a substitute teacher though what she really wants to do is write poetry. Ayesha is single and happy, she’s not interested in arranged marriages, accompanying her younger cousin on this way will suffice. But then she meets Khalid… But she hasn’t met his mother yet…

The book had a great potential, and I appreciated the humour very much but there were moments (in the end, too many moments) when I had a feeling that the author simply tried too hard and overdone it. The book started very promising, and I found myself smiling at the characters’ antics but then it only went downhill for me, I found my interest slowly fading and I started to skip some parts of it, with the many subplots and the action that was almost like in a gangster movie, and a) it was too much for me, too hard tried on making the story hilarious, b) the subplots were not developed enough for my liking, they were not properly addressed, just like that left hanging.

The romance between Ayesha and Khalid was humorous and also head – banging – on – the – wall desperate. When one of them finally got to their senses, the other was not interested and other way round. It was for sure a rocky way but altogether I liked that it was not so straightforward and obvious, and the problems they had were for sure different to the problems that the characters in other books usually have.

The characters could be better drawn, I think, because they were either brilliantly good or awfully bad, and this made them feel a little too exaggerated and too obvious in their behaviour. Sheila and Khalid’s mother are the best example here, but also Hafsa, the spoiled, judgmental and shallow one who actually wasn’t charming but only annoying. I am also not so sure about Khalid himself – on one hand we can say that his character saw development, on the other hand I’m not so sure because well, he changed, but did he really want to change?

The story touched upon many, many issues and probably this was the problem, maybe the author should focus on less than relationships, family ties, arranged marriages, family disownment, politics, stereotyping, racism at the workplace, theft and many, many more. It was simply too much. I had a feeling that if the story stuck to tell a romance, without all the other mosque and conference issues, it would be enough. I adored getting to know the colourful Muslim traditions, even the arranged marriages and the arguments that people involved in them had, their pros and cons, and I really got it all, it was really great to see the close – knit community and I’d really love it if the book focused more on this part of the characters’ lives.
There were too many moments that felt too drawn out and exaggerated for my liking. But altogether, it was a feel – good, funny and light story that had it moments. The writing style was lovely, so chatty and eloquent and the author is a great story – teller, that’s for sure, and she lets her imagination run wild.