The Holiday by T.M. Logan / Blog Tour

The Holiday by T.M. Logan

 

Publisher: Zaffre41973359._sy475_

Publishing Date: 25th July 2019

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

Number of pages: 496

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Seven days. Three families. One killer.

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday – a group of families enjoying a week together in the sun. Four women who have been best friends for as long as they can remember making the most of a luxurious villa in the south of France.

But Kate has a secret: her husband is having an affair. And a week away might just be the perfect opportunity to get the proof she needs – to catch him in the act once and for all. Because she suspects the other woman is one of her two best friends.

One of them is working against her, willing to sacrifice years of friendship to destroy her family. But which one? As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined . . .

Because someone in the villa may be prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.

my-review

 

Kate, Jennifer, Rowan and Izzy have been friends for years and they try to meet at least once a year – now, of course, with husbands and children. This summer they decide to have one week together in the sun of the south of France – it’s going to be the perfect holiday. However, things turn wrong right at the beginning, when Kate finds secret messages on her husband’s phone and is convinced that he’s having an affair, and not with everyone but with one of her best friends. But which one?

This book is a slow – burner, but the author really allows us to get to know the characters in the present and the dynamics between them, in both their relationships and friendship. The group of characters was really colourful. They were absolutely not likeable, uninspiring and a bit too wooden but I was intrigued to see who and why, and every chapter, every new information, made me even more confused, casting doubts on all of Kate’s friends and her as well. I liked the way the author has messed with my mind and my opinions. They all couldn’t be more different, and every one of them seemed to have a secret, something to hide.
Kate is the main narrator. She’ a forensic worker though it was really hard to say with the way she way thinking, suspecting her husband of having an affair, and mostly I just wanted to roll my eyes at her. Who wouldn’t confront their partner immediately, instead of jumping to conclusions and changing their minds constantly, not knowing what is true and what is not – but yes, without her acting that way the story wouldn’t develop like this.
We are also introduced to Kate’s husband Sean, their sixteen – year – old daughter Lucy and nine – year old son David. Then there is full – time mum Jennifer and her husband, counsellor, Alistair and their two teenage sons Jake and Ethan; highly successful Rowan, her husband Russ, who is a banker and their five – year – old very spoiled Odette; and finally, a free spirit and traveller Izzy, who comes alone. With so many characters it was really difficult to feel invested in the story and I’d love to have more background information about them, I knew nothing about their previous friendship.

There were plenty of twists and turns happening throughout the seven days but it took a long time until we arrived at the final surprise and, to be totally honest, I was a little tired with waiting for it – as it’s rather a huge book, I found it simply too late and too little. And well, it didn’t blow me as much as I hoped. Yes, I get it, it couldn’t be written differently and the six days were a slow – burning induction to the great reveal, nevertheless I think there were too many things being told and happening that a) made the things not significant or b) made the reveal not significant. The story was told mainly from Kate’s point of view but it was intertwined with different points of view as well and, honestly, I eventually wasn’t sure which and whose story is important for the development of the plot. It was truly frustrating to be given clues, tips and red herrings, yet we had Kate going in circles about something that, in comparison to what was happening, seemed so unimportant.

What I absolutely adored was the feeling of uncertainty – I had a feeling something is hanging over me all the time I was reading. The author has captured the tension and the atmosphere in the best possible way, I think I haven’t read a book like this before when this creepy feeling of something really bad going to happen was so overwhelming and giving me goose bumps. The oh so innocent mentions of the dangerous neighbourhood, the unstable moods of some of the characters, they were so strongly indicating that really something wrong is awaiting us soon, but we don’t know what it is and when it’s going to happen – I loved this aspect of this story. Altogether, “The Holiday” was a story about secrets, lies, broken promises and hopes and dysfunctional families, about how far you’d go and sacrifice yourself for your family – a great holiday read, though I wouldn’t take it with me if I were to spend it with friends, just saying.

 

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Scones Away! by Cressida McLaughlin

Scones Away! by Cressida McLaughlin

 

Publisher: Harper Collins cover156081-medium

Publishing Date: 11th July 2019

Series: The Cornish Cream Tea Bus #3

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

Number of pages: 101

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:

Part Three of the charming new series from the author of The Canal Boat Cafe. Perfect for cake lovers and old-fashioned romantics!

‘Captivating’ Heat Magazine ‘Beautiful… heartwarming’ Zara Stoneley ‘A wonderful ray of reading sunshine’ Heidi Swain

Charlie’s toughest technical challenge yet…
Now that Charlie’s Cornish Cream Tea bus has taken off, everything should be going swimmingly – the locals love her baking, Marmite adores getting his paws wet in the crystal-clear sea at Porthgolow beach, but Charlie has manged to get on the wrong side of the mercurial owner of The Porthgolow Hotel, Daniel Harper. He wants her to pack up her doillies and pastry cutters and take her bus elsewhere, but can Charlie convince him that they have just got off on the wrong foot and that her bus could be the start of something wonderful for the little village?

Rating:  three-stars

 

“Scones Away” is the third part in the uplifting, wonderful series from Cressida McLaughlin, full of delicious descriptions of food and characters that I’ve immediately warmed to. Charlie is still full of ideas for her Cornish Cream Tea Bus Gertie but this time, ladies and gentlemen, our lovely Charlie annoyed me a little, jumping to conclusions instead of letting people speak or simply thinking things over – too much and too often for my liking. Not everyone in the world is against you, Charlie! 

This time Charlie is entangled  in a blossoming love triangle and it was so interesting to see which of her two admirers she’s going to choose, as they were so different! One of them open and honest, which is just what she needs, what with her trust issues, and the other not so easy to read but there is such sparkling chemistry between them! What is it going to be for Charlie, head or heart? Porthgolow finally seems to start accepting Charlie and her bus and it was lovely to have this heart – warming community spirit back and the locals enjoying her baking. The author has – again – created a world that I want to be a part of and try the famous cream tea. And I loved the idea of the tour that Charlie plans to establish with her bus, just imagine all the beautiful sights of the gorgeous Cornwall with the added bonus of Charlies’s brilliant food. But I also had a feeling that this time this part was not as filled with events and surprises as the previous two parts, and it dragged a little, but it’s still a warm, colourful read that I enjoyed, no worries! 

This part ends, of course, on a cliff hanger and I can’t wait to see how everything comes together at the end, and which surprises are awaiting us in the final instalment – with so many plot twists I am sure that Cressida McLaughlin has many revelations for us.

The School Run by Helen Whitaker / Blog Tour

The School Run by Helen Whitaker

 

44024870._sy475_Publisher: Trapeze

Publishing Date: 8th August 2019

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

Number of pages: 336

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Two mothers. Two best friends. One school place.

Old friends, Imogen and Lily realise they are both applying for a school place at St Peter and Paul’s Infant School – one of the prestigious schools in the area. Their daughters, Enid and Winnie, quickly become the best of friends.

The two women have led different lives since their cohabiting days of hangovers, unsuitable boyfriends and wild nights out.

But from faking their beliefs to bogus breakups, as competition heats up, the two women will go to any lengths to get their daughters in to the perfect primary school. And so will all the other mothers.

my-review

 

Lily and Imogen (and many other parents) are desperate to get their daughter to the highly appraised St. Peter and Paul’s school, but it isn’t too easy – you have to live at the right address, show your dedication to the school and its beliefs, be a devoted church goer and those are only few of the things they’re ready to go. But won’t they forget, among all of those little wars and school – gate politics, what’s really important?

 I’m a sucker for any school run and not – so – yummy – mummies stories so I was probably the first in the virtual queue to sign for this blog tour. This book was, just like I hoped it’s going to be, brutally honest, and oh my, I’ll never stop wonder about all those school – gates politics, the tension, bitching and frenemies. It’s really stressful and I’m lucky that my daughter goes to school by bus, so I can avoid all of those above mentioned. However, with this book, I’m not so sure what it wanted to tell us, what was the story – yes, I know, about getting a place at school, but other than that? I missed more depth to it and consistency. But I, of course, appreciate what the author did with her story, touching upon so many burning and actual issues of being a parent, no matter if working/non – working, juggling life and job with trying to give your child the best future possible, and the book was just like real life, full of hopes and disappointments. 

“The School Run” introduces us to a great number of characters but it’s really easy to follow them all and to know who is who and to whom they belong. Lily and Imogen are the main ones, in fact, they used to be friends but they haven’t seen each other for a long time so when they meet again dropping their daughters at school maybe their friendship has a chance of reviving? Their lives are not gardens full of roses and I sympathised with both of them, though I actually never warmed to any of them as much as I thought I’m going to, no particular reason why. There is also, of course, a group of “Organic” mums, led by Yasmine, who doesn’t feed their children any chocolate because of sugar of course. But no matter who you are, who your group is, how old are you and what’s your job, the author shows that parenthood is a hard job for all of them.

It was a genuine, honest and fast – paced novel about friendship and realising what is really important in life. Helen Whitaker’s writing style is refreshing, chatty and engaging and the story she tells make you nod when you realise that you’ve been in some of the situations at least once in your life.

 

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The Other Mrs. Miller by Allison Dickson

The Other Mrs. Miller by Allison Dickson

 

45047287._sy475_Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 16th July 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 336

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 19.03.2020)

 

Synopsis:

In this unputdownable domestic suspense debut, a lonely suburban housewife finds her life entangled with the family that moves in across the street at the same time that she becomes convinced someone is watching her–perfect for fans of The Couple Next Door and The Last Mrs. Parrish.

Once a darling of Chicago’s social scene, Phoebe Miller fears she’s become irrelevant and cliché: just another miserably unfulfilled housewife who drowns her sorrows in Chardonnay and ice cream and barely leaves her house. Maybe it’s her dark thoughts and fertile imagination that lead her to believe the worst about everything she spies going on in the exclusive suburban cul de sac she calls home. But surely that rusty blue sedan that keeps idling by her driveway is a sign that she’s being watched. And that new family that just moved in across the street–Dr. Ron Napier, his vivacious wife, Vicki, and their handsome college-bound son, Jake–can’t be as perfect as they appear. Especially not with the bruises on Vicki’s arms and the fear in Jake’s eyes.

When a chance introduction to the exuberant Vicki–and a forbidden encounter with Jake–draws her out of her shell and deeper into the Napiers’ orbit, Phoebe’s life finally gets the infusion of excitement she’s been missing. But when anonymous threatening notes begin landing on her doorstep, she’ll have to ask herself just how well anyone can truly know their neighbors…and how close to home unforeseen danger sometimes lies.

Rating: three-stars

 

Phoebe Miller is a bored housewife, spending days at home, cleaning and baking. Her marriage to Wyatt is on the brink of collapsing. After a scandal revolving around her father, Phoebe finds herself even more isolated from reality, drinking more and more to pass the time. It’s then that she notices a car, parked in the neighbourhood, and she has a feeling that whoever it is, they’re watching her, so she starts to note down when she’s seen the car. Then a new family moves across the street, and Phoebe is interested in them, especially in the Napiers son, Jack. But things start to seem to go out of hand for Phoebe. Do the Napiers have something to hide? Who is the person in the blue sedan?

The book is divided into two parts and I must say that the first part was better than the second one. Firstly it focused on Phoebe and her life and even though she was not a character that I warmed to, I was fascinated with her life, past and present, and the new neighbours seemed truly intriguing. Whereas the second part felt much slower, much too forced and bit unbelievable, and it felt like reading two different stories. It was hard to believe in the characters’ actions and honestly, I was not so invested in the plot any more.

The whole stalker idea also didn’t seem completely thought over, and as I don’t want to spoil your reading I can’t say anything more! But it was illogical for me, wanting something from Phoebe but instead of approaching her they wanted to blackmail her, threaten her and maybe even kill her instead of telling who they were.

Phoebe is a complex and complicated character, and not easy too like, she has actually awakened ambivalent feelings in me. I’ve never warmed to her but I felt sorry for her, although I also think that she put herself in the situation she was living. Yes, I did understand her but I couldn’t understand why she simply didn’t do anything to have the life she wanted to have – she simply wallowed in her own misery, pitied herself, drinking and eating away at her problems. But altogether I don’t think she was a bad person, probably she simply didn’t know how to deal with all her problems, the traumatic childhood when most of the time her father didn’t acknowledge her existence or labelled her as worthless, and as a result she was living like in a limbo, without hobbies, friends, career, wallowing in her past, convinced that everyone knows who she is and who her father was though the truth may be totally different – people are not aware of who she is, at all.

It was an interesting domestic thriller where events start to roll slowly like a snowball and then take on epidemic proportions of an avalanche. Unexpected and unpredictable and you simply want to know what’s going to happen next, though not one to have blown my mind. The end left me, I don’t know, confused would be probably an understatement – yes, it surprised me but not in a positive way. Don’t get me wrong, please, I did enjoy the book but there were too many things that simply didn’t sit well with me, but that’s me and maybe you’re going to enjoy the book more than I did. And I’m curious what the author will come up with next.

Mom’s Perfect Boyfriend by Crystal Hemmingway

Mom’s Perfect Boyfriend by Crystal Hemmingway

 

44056241Publisher: Galbadia Press

Publishing Date: 16th July 2019

Series: Smart Companions #1

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

Number of pages: 306

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A smart romantic comedy about mothers and daughters, and the hilarious consequences of a white lie.

Crystal has trouble saying no to her lonely, single mother. For 25 years, it wasn’t a problem. But when one small mistake leaves Crystal jilted, homeless and unemployed, she has to move back in with the one person who caused it all: her mother.

Soon Crystal is sucked into her mother’s vortex, partying with boomers and hawking misshapen marshmallows. Desperate for some independence, she hatches a foolproof plan: get an experimental android to play her mom’s “perfect” boyfriend. It’s only a matter of time before her mom finds out, and Crystal will never live down the hilarious and disastrous consequences.

Written in an addicting, fast-paced format, Mom’s Perfect Boyfriend is a humorous yet deeply honest portrayal about the complicated friendship between mothers and daughters. Because sometimes the people we least want to rely on are those who can help us the most.

Rating: three-stars

 

After her mother hijacks Crystal and her partner’s holidays to Hawaii, he decides he needs to take a break. Then Crystal looses her job and, as a result, her home as well, so she decides to move with her mother and focus on finishing her Rapunzel based novel. Is this going to work out? As her mother needs a lot of attention and is very interested in her daughter’s life, Crystal decides Margot simply needs a distraction – she signs her mother up as a test person for a “Smart Companion” robot trial. Can you fall in love with a robot?

This book is told fully through messages, emails, letters and journal entries so don’t expect the characters to be deeply fleshed out, and as much as the idea of telling this story this way was really good and different, and made the book a quick read, I think I missed depth in it. Sure, under the surface of fun and light – heartedness it deals with oh so complicated and complex issue of mother – daughter relationship but it never digs deeply into it. Crystal seems to be trying to set some limits but it doesn’t work, and I think that 4 – hours phone calls daily would also set me on a lonely journey, just like David did.

Actually, after finishing this book, I felt confused, and wasn’t sure what to think. It was a different read, that’s for sure. I think I’d like the android – boyfriend to appear earlier on the pages, as it happen somewhere in the middle of the story, but even when he entered the scenes, well, nothing significant has happened. The book had some funny moments but overall, I found it a little too flat and underdeveloped in all aspects. The main characters, Crystal and Margot, grew and mature in this story, though I’m not sure if they really managed to solve their problematic relationship. But they were trying hard to give each other so much needed space in those difficult times. Altogether, it was a light, quick and entertaining read.

Mummy Needs a Break by Susan Edmunds / Blog Tour

Mummy Needs a Break by Susan Edmunds

 

44298525Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 8th July 2019

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

Number of pages: 336

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A hilarious story of the ups and downs of unexpected single motherhood, the perfect laugh-out-loud romance for fans of Why Mummy Drinks, The Unmumsy Mum and The Not So Perfect Mum.

With a devilish toddler and baby number two on the way, Rachel’s big dream is to one day go to the toilet on her own. So, she’s surprised to discover that her husband has found the time to have an exciting affair while she’s been bringing up their family.

Suddenly, Rachel is left wrangling with a child who will only eat crackers and a 35-week bump. She knows even Mumsnet isn’t going to solve this.

What Rachel needs is a handsome, good-with-children, single man. But she can barely leave the house without a stain on her top and child on her hip. How on earth can she claim her life back, let alone thinking about dating?

my-review

 

Rachel is married to Stephen, they have a 2 – year – old boy already and she’s about to have their second child, when she discovers that her husband’s been having an affair. Confronted, Stephen admits and leaves Rachel, leaving her alone to cope with Thomas, who can be a bit of a handful, and all the things new baby. What is Rachel going to do? Will she manage on her own? 

Despite the inviting, colourful cover, funny title and synopsis I didn’t find this book funny, to be honest. I rather found it sad and not too uplifting and it disappointed me a little because I was expecting another hilarious, light – hearted read in succession about modern family and parenting full of ups and downs. There were moments it felt too chopped, with one things barely happening, then ending and suddenly changing to another thing, lacking in supporting details. 

Stephen was some piece of work, even I must admit it – the author has managed to write one of the most dislikeable characters ever. I mean, leaving your pregnant wife for another woman is one thing, but then kicking her out of their home, with a toddler?          I had problems with the main character, I simply couldn’t warm to her. I couldn’t understand some of her decisions and I think she was too old and too smart for this kind of revenge that she cooked up. Of course, she’s doing her best to raise her children, she struggles but never gives up and it deserves a standing ovation – but still I couldn’t warm to her. I needed more development, more feelings.                                                           Actually, all the characters were too wooden for my liking, and one thing that annoyed me incredibly was Rachel’s two – years – old son who was talking like an adult – there was nothing charming in his character.

This was a book that simply didn’t work for me – I am sorry for this, I really am, but such things happen. It could be w great story about second chances, moving on, getting strength but for me it lacked in execution and fleshed out characters. Don’t get me wrong, it had potential and its moments, and I will be for sure reading more from Ms Edmunds – I liked the writing style, it was chatty and welcoming and easy to follow, and please, do not feel put out by my words, this book already has some brilliant reviews so simply give it a go if you’re looking for a light, entertaining and quick read.

 

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The Garden on Holly Street by Megan Attley / Blog Tour

The Garden on Holly Street by Megan Attley

 

43522280Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 11th July 2019

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

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to get the life you want . . .

Abby Hamilton’s world has turned upside down in a matter of months – it seems that change is definitely in the air. But moving into Willow Court might just be the fresh start and happy distraction she needed.

Meeting her intriguing new neighbours helps push Abby out of her comfort zone. Then she finds an overgrown patch of garden in desperate need of love and time – something Abby has in spades! Throwing herself into bringing the garden back to life, Abby discovers that new beginnings can come from the most surprising places…

An uplifting, feel-good novel, perfect for fans of Holly Hepburn, Heidi Swain and Isabelle Broom.

 

my-review

 

“The Garden on Holly Street” introduces us to newly single and newly jobless Abby, moving to her new place in Willow Court. This is a lovely place, though some of the residents are not as welcoming as Abby would like to. She discovers there is a community garden as well, but no – one appears to using it, and so it’s unloved and neglected. Abby sets her heart on bringing it back to its glory, but are all of her neighbours on board with her decision?

Abby’s story was nice to read, and I liked to see how she was growing not only her plants, but also in confidence, finding what she wanted to do and starting to enjoy her life again. But I think that the blossoming friendship of Arthur and Ernie was one of the strongest points in this book, though there were moments that Arthur really felt too overdone, as if the author has tried too much with painting him like this. The contrast between Arthur with Abby against Arthur with Ernie would be still there without making him such an unpleasant person towards Abby. However, their stories were really sad and lovingly written, with tons of heart and understanding, and the author has really well captured loneliness of them both, and I really liked that they found each other. She has also managed – and not many authors are able to do it! – to capture Ernie’s perspective in such a believable way. All of the characters are somehow heartbroken and as their stories intertwine it becomes clear that they need each other to heal their wounds, to find happiness again. I liked to see how their friendship developed, with many ups and downs on the way, not sure if some of them are going to get rid off aversion to each other at all! The generation gap made it even more interesting because each of the characters could learn something from the other one, and they really embarked on it and used it fully – they were open and ready for changes.

The book started brilliantly to me, it had the lovely Cathy Bramley feeling to it, and I was full of hope and expectation. Sadly, then it went a bit downhill for me and what bothered me mostly was the fact that there wasn’t anything that I haven’t read already. Please, don’t get me wrong, it was a lovely, uplifting story with all the right ingredients and it really makes me sad that it didn’t work for me as well as I hoped it’s going to.

Altogether, “The Garden on Holly Street” was a warm and comforting read about friendship that doesn’t know the age difference, about new beginnings and opportunities. Life – affirming story about opening up to needs of others, about listening to them, about reaching out to people. It was insightful, gentle and you could really feel the author’s passion to her characters and what they did. A nice, summer read.

 

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