The Intruder by P.S. Hogan

The Intruder by P.S. Hogan

 

37671542Publisher: Transworld Digital

Publishing Date: 1st February 2018

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

Number of pages: 281

Genre: Psychological Suspense

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 31.05.2018)

 

 

Synopsis:

He has the key to hundreds of houses.
Maybe even to yours.

William Heming is an estate agent. He’s kept a copy of every key to every house he’s ever sold. Sometimes he visits them. He lets himself in – quietly, carefully – to see who lives there now, what they’re like, what they’ve been doing.

But what will happen when he gets caught?

 
Rating: four-stars

The main character in “The Intruder”, William Heming, is an estate agent – so far so good, right? However, he secretly copies keys of each of the houses he has sold. Why, I hear you ask. Well, I was asking this question as well. It seems that he just likes visiting those houses, to see how their owners live, to make himself a coffee or sleep on their sofa. He also sometimes serves justice when he sees that it is necessary – in his opinion. Creepy, don’t you think? However, he generally wasn’t dangerous or frightening, he was your normal citizen, a businessman, with an unusual hobby that – of course – nobody knows about. Through the pages, his obsession seems to grow bigger and bigger, and thanks to some retrospections we get to know about his childhood, what has happened and what has driven him – though, I must be totally honest with you, I personally haven’t seen the connection between this creepiness and his childhood. But that’s me.

What’s funny, at the beginning you find yourself liking William, you’re being lulled in the false sense of fondness, but when the story continues the more I got to know him, the more I disliked him. He was, however, brilliantly pictured by the author and believe me, you wouldn’t like to have William as your enemy. On the surface he was a normal guy, kind, polite and hard – working but it was actually this what was inside him that made him tick. The whole story is being told from his perspective. I was starting to think that he’s psychopathic, and what consolidated me in my opinion was the fact that he wasn’t able to feel remorse, his head was always full of explanations and justifications.
It was a very annoying book – annoying, because I felt such dislike to the main character and still I wanted to read further and further, it somehow drew me in, it grew on me the more I read. There is something compelling in his character, and as the story is told only from his point of view you feel as if you sit in his head and knows his deepest thoughts and secrets – and it’s not a great place to be, guys. You really are not sure what he’d be able to do next and probably this is why his story is so hooking. There is something fascinating in his character.

It was a very slow read, and the storyline takes its time to develop, and actually the biggest twists and turns take place in the last quarter of it. But nevertheless, there is something in the writing, in the plot that draws you in and you just want to see where the story is going.
Altogether, “The Intruder” was a claustrophobic, addictive read, thought – provoking and incendiary, and am I happy that I didn’t have to buy my house. It was captivating and full of food for thought, with unique storyline and unforgettable main character. The story was not over – done, the writing was really great and I can whole – heartedly recommend this book to you.

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Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

 

33148474Publisher: Doubleday

Publishing Date: 2nd May  2017

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

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Mystery, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The author of the #1 New York Times bestseller and global phenomenon The Girl on the Train returns with Into the Water, her addictive new novel of psychological suspense.

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

Rating: four-stars

So guys. Confession time. I haven’t read “The Girl on the Train”. So there. Must be probably the last person in the world, right? However, I of course have heard tones about this book. I even have it on my never ending TBR pile and one day I am absolutely certain that I’m going to get to read it. Nevertheless, as soon as I spotted that Paula Hawkin’s dreaded second novel is to be released soon, I just knew that I have to read it. I didn’t need to read the synopsis, I just knew I. Want. To. Read. It. And maybe it’s better that it is my first book by this author as I’m not going to make any comparisons to the hugely talked about debut novel.

There are relatively many characters in this book. Each chapter is devoted to a different character. Some of them are more significant, some not so much and actually it always took me some time to think twice who the person is and what’s their story, especially when it was one of the more background characters. It was a little difficult, especially at the beginning, to focus with so many distinct points of view. But then I also started to enjoy this way of telling the story, as it really gave us a chance to get to know each of the characters, to see what makes them tick. The characters were not easy to like, but I’m starting to learn that with this kind of a book you don’t have to like them – all they need to be is to be believable, and it was absolutely the case here. With the great number of them it quickly turned out that there are many suspects and they all are going to bring many twists and turns, which only kept me glued to the pages. Each of them may play a part in the mysterious deaths of the women of the town.

The author has very vividly described the little town Beckford, I personally had a feeling that it is a gloom, grim place where the river played first fiddle. It was such a claustrophobic place, to be honest, and I was in awe how well the author has captured this atmosphere. This dark, forbidding water, named “The Drowning Pool”, was a place full of history, secrets, mysteries and a place where the witches were supposed to be sent swimming in the seventeenth century. It was not my most favourite place, however I could see its spell and could understand why Nel was so obsessed with it and the stories surrounding it, and why she wanted to unravel the mysteries.

The pace of the story was rather on the slow side but I think we can’t expect from this kind of a book to be quick. It often hinted at witchcraft and witches but it really did work here and it had me hooked, and it was also heart – breaking, guys. The author has built a tense atmosphere in this story, with characters hearing voices and creaking floorboards in the night. There are many threads in this novel, it is truly multi – layered, and the author does a great job mind – boggling and messing with you. Thousand times I was sure that I know who was the assassin and thousand times I was wrong. At the end, all of the layers are unpeeled to present us with a very satisfying, no – questions – opened finale. Well, almost no questions, because I’d have one or two about one or two of the characters. The sleepy town witnesses many scandalous turns of events and the author in a very skilled way builds the tensions and through the multiply points of view makes the things even more complicated and complex. The characters are connected, their paths cross and their relationships are strained, strong and weird. In my opinion it requires a lot of skill to achieve a satisfying conclusion with such complicated narrative with so many perspectives, and even though knowing who is who took me some time, I didn’t feel confused and with every new revelation you could see the proverbial light – bulb going on over my head, and all the elements of the puzzle were slowly falling into the right places.

I can only guess how hard it was for the author to sit and write the next book, keeping in mind the success of her debut novel. as I have already mentioned, I haven’t read this book, but “Into the Water” has put Ms Hawkins on my list of the authors not to be missed. In my opinion, this novel was a very clever, complex read. I wouldn’t say it’s a thriller, it is more a psychological mystery. The way the story was built, with the author throwing so many things at the reader, more and more and more of them, and complicate them to the point where you don’t know what to expect next, really did work here. I desperately wanted to know what’s going to happen, and which secrets are still to be revealed. There are some things that you can see coming but there are also many other that just hit you on the head and knocking your socks off. I really liked it, I was hooked and I will be recommending “Into the Water” to all of my friends.

 

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The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley / Blog Tour

Today I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of Trisha Ashley’s blog tour. Her brand new shiny novel was published on 9th March by Bantam Press and guys, whatever you say, I think this is my favourite book by this author! It’s for sure Trisha Ashley at her best and I would love to be able to read this book for the first time over and over again!

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley

 

Publisher: Bantam Press51tkwh9zp1l-_sx324_bo1204203200_

Publishing Date: 9th March 2017

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

Number of pages: 432

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback | Paperback (out on 29.06.2017)

 

Synopsis:

Alice Rose is a foundling, discovered on the Yorkshire moors above Haworth as a baby. Adopted but then later rejected again by a horrid step-mother, Alice struggles to find a place where she belongs. Only baking – the scent of cinnamon and citrus and the feel of butter and flour between her fingers – brings a comforting sense of home.

So it seems natural that when she finally decides to return to Haworth, Alice turns to baking again, taking over a run-down little teashop and working to set up an afternoon tea emporium.

Luckily she soon makes friends – including a Grecian god-like neighbour – who help her both set up home and try to solve the mystery of who she is. There are one or two last twists in the dark fairytale of Alice’s life to come . . . but can she find her happily ever after?

Wonderfully wry, heart-warming and life-affirming, Trisha Ashley’s hilarious novel is perfect for fans of romantic comedies by Milly Johnson and Jill Mansell. And it contains recipes!

Rating: 4/5

My relationship with Trisha Ashley’s books is very rocky – I seem to either love her books to bits or I can’t get into them. However, there is something so very special and unique in her writing that makes me always impatiently waiting for her every new release and I – really – count down the days to the publication days, wanting to see what she has in store for us this time and what an exceptional story is it going to be. I think that not only is the new “The Little Teashop of Lost and Found” one of Trisha’s best books but I also immediately fell in love with this cover – it. Is. Simply. Gorgeous. So warm and inviting.

The writing style was so typical Trisha Ashley – lyrical, poetical yet down to earth. I loved that this time the writing and the plot were not too exaggerated, too far – fetched, too eccentric as it sometimes happens with Ms Ashley’s novels. There was a bunch of great characters – there were many of them but they were introduced to us slowly, we had time to get to know them and I didn’t have problems to recognise who is who any why. I immediately fell for the main character, Alice – already the first pages made me warm to her and to sympathise with her so much and I felt so, so sorry for her and all the things that happened to her and I so admired her strength after so many rejections and bad luck. I hoped that eventually she will also find her place. She was a hard – working person who achieved everything she had in her life by herself. It was not a wonder that after dealing with one blow after another she’s had a moment of a mental breakdown – who wouldn’t have? However, she quickly recovered and, following the advice of her old friend Edie, decides to come back to her hometown, start a tea shop and – maybe – find her birth parents? She was also so good natured and full of trust – well, who would buy a cafe only after seeing it on the photos and because the owner has made such a good impression via Facebook messages? But Alice is a woman determined, she’s on a mission and she’ll open her tea shop no matter what. And – she’s going to publish her own novel, you just wait and see! I really liked her, and kept everything crossed for her, and it was so inspiring to see her get up after every new hurdle.
The Greek God Nile could have come at the first sight as rude, but guys, he turned out to be brilliant! And moreover, he brought a big, warm, welcoming family with him, and this was just what Alice needed! He also proved to be a great and patient friend to her and also supported her in her search for her biological parents. He was sarcastic, and the interactions between Alice and Nile were bloody brilliant! Well, Nile was bloody brilliant, with just my kind of humour – dry, sharp, intelligent. The banter between them was quick and sharp and funny and Nile’s one – liners summing up some of the situations were just best ever!

One of the main subplots in the story is Alice being abandoned as a baby and her looking for her biological parents. She was adopted and had a very loving father and not so loving mother but her father died when she was only 18 years old and well, there was not a place for her at home anymore with the devil step – mother. The story accompanies us through the whole book, and every chapter is preceded with short bits of information from the person’s who abandoned Alice point of view, which gives an insight into the motives, however I haven’t expected the outcome and it totally – TOTALLY – took me by surprise.

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I loved to read about the preparations for opening the tea shop. Alice’s head was full of great ideas, she has made the place so cosy and she also gave two “rudest waitresses” in Yorkshire, Tilda and Ness, that she “inherited” with the shop, a chance, and they were both brilliant. The descriptions of the food were mouth – watering, they really were, and I’ve read many books with delicious food in them but those ones were exceptional – my only regret is that there are no recipes in my review copy! What was also great was the fact that the book was not too predictable, and the different subplots could end in any possible way. There is no guarantee of a happy end, even though you so hope for one, and I loved this twisty and bumpy road to the last page. My only problem with this book was that the middle part dragged too much for my liking. There were many repetitions, the same situations and events were all the time spoken about and I had a feeling that more than often we’re just going round in circles.

“The Little Teashop of Lost and Found” is a lovely, uplifting story about finding love and friendship, about finding courage and following your dreams. It was a story with a feel – good factor. The plot and the characters are original yet not too exaggerated. Even though the title of the book is “The Little Teashop of Lost and Found”, and there is some delicious food mentioned, there are many other issues that the author touches upon, interweaving them seamlessly into the plot and you really don’t have to worry that it’s going to be another of the cupcakes books that are popping out around all the time. This book is just different, with characters that grow on you and get under your skin, and really, it is not the teashop that is the heart of the book, but it’s Alice, and her overcoming all the problems and letting the past go. Highly recommended!

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My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

 

30821597Publisher: Bantam Press

Publishing Date: 9th February 2016

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 13.07.2017)

 

Synopsis:

Cat Brenner is living the dream – she has a flat in London, a job in creative branding, and her Instagram feed is full of all the amazing things London has to offer: delicious food and beautiful sights and lots of fun. Ok, so the crappy truth is that she rents a tiny room in Catford with no space for a wardrobe, spends most of her days engaged in tedious admin on the other side of the city, and posts photos of food she could never ever afford to eat. But it’s all just about worth it.

Until her bright and shiny life comes crashing down: her demanding boss Demeter gives her sack, and with no means to live in London any more, Cat has to move home to Somerset. Now she’s plain old Katie Brenner again, helping out her dad and her stepmum as they attempt to launch a glamping business on their farm. (They think she’s on sabbatical from her job, and she can’t quite bear to tell them the truth…)

With Katie’s creative branding experience, the glamping is soon a big success. So much so that Demeter and her family book in on holiday – and Katie sees her chance to get revenge on the woman who ruined her dream. So long as Demeter doesn’t see beyond her disguise and give the game away to her parents, of course.

It’s time to see who’s the boss…

Rating: 4/5

Ah, the new Sophie Kinsella’s stand – alone novel! With absolutely brilliant title and incredibly promising synopsis – yes, I fell in love with the main character already after reading the blurb. I truly adored this book, guys, and with it Sophie Kinsella has proved that her place as the Queen of chick – lit is really not in danger – but she’s also shown that she can write characters that feel more mature and developed without losing their trademarked sense of humour. So really, this book was the best example of Sophie Kinsella’s brilliant writing, effortless story – telling and wittiness. It was funny, in this typical Kinsella’s style that is inimitable, the humour comes so natural to this author. A great romantic comedy, just what I expected from this author, and it is just great to know that when you reach for Sophie Kinsella’s book you know what you can expect and you get this delivered.

“My Not So Perfect Life” was really funny, fresh and uplifting and so up – to – date with all its references and also with it showing two versions of everything. While we think that our friends or other people may live the perfect life, much better than ours, those people can think exactly the same about us – and it is the same with Katie. She thought her boss’ Demeter’s life is perfect – even though Demeter herself seemed to be forgetful, flaky and running the office with an iron fist – but still, she was in awe of her. Things turn out to be a little bit different when Demeter comes glamping with her family – is her life truly as wonderful as Katie thinks?

The main character was brilliant, period. Katie is such a typical Kinsella’s character – young, with overactive imagination, with big ideas that not always are possible to be realised, not always telling the truth and yet she was likeable and realistic. A lovely girl and I much preferred the Katie version to the Cat one – Katie was much funnier and not so uptight and looked much better with her wild, curly hair, even with the blue version of them, and she has a Somerset accent, while Cat is the London – “better” – version of Katie, with straight hair and glasses that she doesn’t need. I really loved Katie and her spirit when after losing her job and initial grieving period she found a courage to do something totally different. She was creative and had a great sense of humour and really I wanted to applaud her when reading about her crazy ideas of revenge – they were brilliant, like a breath of fresh air! What I also so adored in this character was the fact that she was so very honest with the readers about her life – she might have kept some secrets from her friends and family but we were able to get to know every aspect of her (not so) perfect life. It was in fact a great author’s move as we really got to know Katie, got to understand why she was feeling like this and what was it that made her tick like this.
And of course all the other characters – brilliantly written, well drawn, thoroughly developed with all their ups and downs, all the flaws and problems but also sounding incredibly realistic – I mean, who of us has never lied about their lives, hm?

The setting of this story couldn’t be better and more different, as we are taken from London to a Somerset farm. Sophie Kinsella has brilliantly captured the difference between those places and when she was writing about commuting in London I had a feeling that I am on this train, squeezed between thousands of people, and when she was writing about the farm I had no problems to visualize this gorgeous place and right now there is nothing more that I want than spent my holidays glamping with Farmer Mick. And those two different places also perfectly symbolized Katie’s life.

As usual, there was a romance aspect in this story and it was great. It was just the right amount of romance, and it felt so genuine, guys – not too forced, not too pushed, a little awkward, with characters’ jumping to conclusions, but also not at all predictable and it could go many ways. It wasn’t overdone, it didn’t monopolise the story – simply, there was just the right amount of love in the air.

I really appreciated the little “mystery” that the author embroiled into the plot, even though I really quickly guessed who and why was it. But it made the story even more hooking, to be honest. I also adored Kate’s relationship with her father and her step – mother Biddy! Those two were so great and oh my word, they tried so much when it came to London and Katie, and it just showed how much they loved this girl. Katie’s father Mick was hilarious with his business’ ideas. And the writing was warm, inviting and incredibly vivid.

But the story was of course not as straight – forward as we at first can think! It changes tracks and offers us many twists and turns and Katie often discovers that things are not as simple as they at first appear. And I loved those changes! They took the book to a totally different level, made the story unpredictable and – to my delight – hilarious, and reading about the chaos Katie left behind, about the revenge made me laugh so much. The way the author started to show us the other side to the story was done perfectly and it was a real, great surprise to see all those twists.

“My Not So perfect Life” was a great story about finding what you really want to do with your life, about finding yourself, finding your identity, becoming an adult, taking responsibility, about communication and appearances, teaching us a lesson that it doesn’t always look like it really is and that not always other people have better lives. It was finally a book with difference, which made reading this little bit more delightful – while I do love some good recipes and descriptions of the food there was nothing of this sort in this story and guys, believe me, it made such a big difference, and I enjoyed this fact so, so much! It was relaxing, easy read – maybe a little more serious in tone in comparison to the other Kinsella’s books but still full of her trademark humour and lovely characters that we root for. Highly recommended!

White Lies and Wishes by Cathy Bramley

HI guys, and happy Tuesday –  very unexpectedly FREE Tuesday for me. We have a black ice, it’s impossible to move without ice skates, and let’s forget about driving a car. I love my car, and I love driving but today it’s no fun at all, the schools are closed and my boss called me to tell me to stay at home. I like such surprises 🙂 And to make the day even more better, I am absolutely, super dooper excited to welcome you to Cathy Bramley’s blog tour today! I love Cathy incredibly and I couldn’t wait for my stop to share my review of “White Lies and Wishes” with you!

White Lies and Wishes by Cathy Bramley

 

51lyldrcjrl-_sx319_bo1204203200_Publisher: Corgi

Publishing Date: 26th January 2017

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

What happens when what you wish for is only half the story…?

Flirtatious, straight-talking Jo Gold says she’s got no time for love; she’s determined to save her family’s failing footwear business.

New mother Sarah Hudson has cut short her maternity leave to return to work. She says she’ll do whatever it takes to make partner at the accountancy firm.

Bored, over-eating housewife Carrie Radley says she just wants to shift the pounds – she’d love to finally wear a bikini in public.

The unlikely trio meet by chance one winter’s day, and in a moment of ‘Carpe Diem’ madness, embark on a mission to make their wishes come true by September.

Easy. At least it would be, if they hadn’t been just the teensiest bit stingy with the truth…

With hidden issues, hidden talents, and hidden demons to overcome, new friends Jo, Carrie and Sarah must admit to what they really, really want, if they are ever to get their happy endings.

Rating: 4/5

Reading a Cathy Bramley book is like settling down after a stressful, demanding day, like doing something you love to do – her stories are like an unicorn mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows and glitter on top – warm, inviting, making you feel welcome. So it is probably not a surprise for you to hear that I was waiting impatiently for the author’s new release – “White Lies and Wishes”, no? I thought so. I’ve read all Cathy’s books, fell in love with her writing and she’s at the top of my favourite authors list, and I am sure she’s going to stay there for ever and ever. I can’t get enough of her stories and I always repeat: Cathy, please do keep them coming!

This story was a bit different to all the other storylines in Cathy Bramley’s books because it follows not one main female character, but three – three women who unexpectedly meet and become friends. There were moments that I had a feeling I’m reading a book by Lucy Diamond, as she is the champion of writing stories about surprising friendships, and Cathy Bramley has also managed it brilliantly. The women meet at the funeral of their mutual friend’s husband and funeral here or there, but there was one scene that had me in stitches – actually the one when all three met for the first time. There is Jo Gold, who’s running a failing family shoe business but she’s determined to save it. Then there is Sarah Hudson – a new mother who’s juggling coming back to work, baby and staying at home husband. Sarah is a woman with ambitions and the thing she wants most right now is to become a partner in the firm she’s working for. And there is Carrie Radley, married, not working and over – eating her problems. All three of them quickly bond and decide to put together a wish list of things they want to achieve till September – Jo wants to overcome her fear of heights, Sarah wants to be a partner in her firm and Carrie wants to wear a bikini in public. But – are they really truthful? Will they manage? Are those really they real wishes? Will they stay friends?

Now. The characters. I’ve never before had problems to love Cathy Bramley’s immediately and stay like this for the whole duration of reading the book. However, this time, I had some problems to warm to them, to fell for them and to get them. If they bonded so well that they decided to be BFFs, then why hide their real wishes? Also at the beginning they were mostly a bunch of unhappy, moaning women and only after getting to know them better, seeing how they tick and what inspires and drives them, I started to feel more comfortable in their company – however, I still had a niggling and troubling feeling that they are really not honest, with themselves, with each other and with us. Carrie was like enigma, and the dynamics between her and her husband were really weird, and I couldn’t see where they were coming from. Sarah seemed to know what she wants but I all the time had the feeling that she really doesn’t. I think that Jo was the most believable one of them, with her ideas and determination and eventually showing her weakness. And the relationship between them was not as open and friendly as you would expect. I guess it just takes time to trust each other and maybe they just expected too much from their friendship at the beginning?
But my issues apart, the characters were – as always – brilliantly written. Cathy Bramley has made it her hallmark to write the most believable, relatable characters. She can easily get into their heads and tell three different stories in an engaging, light – hearted way. Jo, Sarah and Carrie could be – in fact – any of us, and when reading you can easily nod your head, sigh and tell them you know what they’re feeling because you’ve been there as well. In the end the girls overcame their reservations and it was great to see how much support there is in the air, how they support each other.

The book was very uplifting in tone. I found it great that the girls decided to go for they dreams and weren’t afraid to dream big, even though they hide their true dreams at the beginning. The story also wonderfully describes family and friend’s relationships, shows how hard it is sometimes to cope and basically, tells us how it really is – that life is not only a bed of roses, that you must be prepared to fight for yourself, even if it’s not so easy.

It wasn’t my favourite Cathy Bramley’s book of all time, sadly, but nevertheless it was a gorgeous story about new beginnings and friendship and it for sure will give you a fix of the author’s warm and inviting writing and her gift to write feel – good stories. Altogether, “White Lies and Wishes” was an easy to read book, uplifting story about trials, tribulations and finding courage. It is full of mishaps and misunderstandings, with a romance element to it (of course! And I found it great and captivating, as well as despairing because you’ve seen those two belong together, only they haven’t seen it! Aaaargh! I’m telling you…! But you can trust Cathy Bramley to create a great atmosphere and sparkles). Even though I find Cathy’s previous books better, I still enjoyed this one and I am sure that the readers won’t be disappointed with this lovely story about gaining confidence. Highly recommended!

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Candlelight at Christmas by Katie Fforde

Candlelight at Christmas by Katie Fforde

 

30759092Publisher: Cornerstone Digital

Publishing Date: 24th November 2016

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

Number of pages: 65

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

Welcome back some familiar characters and treat yourself to some extra romance with this exclusive, straight-to-digital short story from the Sunday Times No. 1 Bestseller.

Fenella and Rupert are organising the perfect Christmas, surrounded by their friends in their beautiful Somerby house.

Until Fenella gets a phone call from her ghastly parents-in-law asking if they can join them for the holiday. Fenella couldn’t possibly refuse and besides, it could be worse.

But when they arrive and the house is suddenly plunged in darkness thanks to a power cut, Fenella knows she has her work cut out to keep everyone happy and pull off the perfect Christmas feast.

Rating: 3/5

Ah, there’s no Christmas without Katie Fforde’s short story! And this time it is a very exceptional one as it introduces us to characters that we already know from “Recipe for Love”, which was a great joy for me.

There are – for so a short story – many characters in this novella. Many. And the amount of people seems to grow all the time. We are at Fenella and Rupert’s who are having friends and family with the assorted children over Christmas, then we have a nanny for the children, then we have friends from work and we also have a very unexpected and not so heartily welcomed visit from the in – laws. And there is also a power cut on the day itself.

However, for me, the problem with short stories is that they’re… yes, short, and as soon as one thing begins it already finishes, and it leaves me wanting more and feeling that it’s just under – developed, and it was like this this time as well. Also, I had a feeling that it is one long dialogue, and when usually I don’t have a problem when a book is so dynamic this time I’ve missed some more descriptions. The plot is full to the brims, there is all the time something happening but because of the length of the story we can’t focus on anything in particular. I also had a problem with the “relationship” between Meggie and Etienne, which just seemed too forced and unbelievable.

Even though the novella is about characters from previous books it can of course be read as a stand – alone. It is written in this unmistakeable Katie Fforde’s writing style, warm and full of respect to her characters. It is full of festive spirit and truly it is about simmering down, clearing your mind for a moment or two, to focus on this what’s really important in our lives: family and friends and about forgetting the stress and enjoying this important time at Christmas. It’s light, easy and uplifting, perfect to read under the Christmas tree.

What Alice Knew by T.A. Cotterell – Blog Tour

Hi guys! Today I am incredibly excited to welcome you to an epic blog tour for T.A. Cotterell’s debut novel, “What Alice Knew”.  This complex and full of questions thriller is published on 1st December as an e-book and in spring next year as a paperback. I was incredibly intrigued by this book, the story had me hooked and it was so controversial and I truly wanted to know why the author has chosen such topic – this is why I asked him to tell us about the inspiration for “What Alice Knew”.

33014541What Alice Knew by T.A. Cotterell

 

Publisher: Black Swan

Publishing Date: 1st December 2016 (e-book) / 20th April 2017 (Paperback)

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Crime, Thrillers & Mystery

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Alice has a perfect life – a great job, happy kids, a wonderful husband. Until he goes missing one night; she receives a suspicious phone call; things don’t quite add up.

Alice needs to know what’s going on. But when she uncovers the truth she faces a brutal choice. And how can she be sure it is the truth?

Sometimes it’s better not to know.

Rating: 4/5

“What Alice Knew” is for sure a book with the wow – effect. It is controversial and it truly touches upon difficult issues and decisions to be made and really I didn’t know in what direction the author is going to continue with the story, what is he going to choose, true or lies. I personally was all the time wondering what I’d do in such situation. Nevertheless, I think that no matter what the decision, there wasn’t one that would be good for the characters.

Alice and Ed Sheahan have the perfect life – she is a popular painter, he is a very respected obstetrician. They have two great kids and a beautiful house. But then, one night, Ed goes missing and after that their lives take a very different turn. Alice and Ed must ask themselves, how far would they go to protect their family?
Please, don’t be fooled that it’s a book about a wife trying to save her marriage and her husband’s reputation, because there is much, much more to this story!

This is a very complex story following many themes, however it is very easy to keep on track. It is full of tension, questions, secrets and lies and it made me think, not only about THE question, but also about its controversy, morals, ethics and my own safety. It actually made me question everything I read about. I personally was absolutely taken by surprise with the way the plot took on, especially after reading in the synopsis that Ed went missing, and I was expecting a totally different tale about searching for him. But this what I got has absolutely lived up to my expectations and the novel had me glued to the pages, as I couldn’t wait to see how it’s going to end. In fact I was incredibly tempted to just look at the last page and see the end and it cost me a lot of willpower not to do it. So maybe it is the fact that I was waiting for a very spectacular finish, with fireworks or unbelievable turn, made me feel so little confused when I finished reading, not knowing what to think. Because – and here is my personal “but” – the ending. It disappointed me to be honest and I’m not sure if it’s because it was such a big surprise that I didn’t see coming or because it is the one that I was not happy with. I also know that making Alice a painter was author’s cognizant decision but for me the passages about art, as much as they were probably significant to the plot, were not working for me – they were dragging me away from the story and they were just too much for me. I know. I should be more sophisticated. But even though the passages about art were not so much my cup of tea, I still appreciated them and I think there was something lyrical, nostalgic in them, and there were moments that the sudden change from art to real life was like a jump into cold water, so cooling and shocking it was, first the softness, beauty and in the next second the brutal reality. The writing style was one of the strongest points of this book and I had a feeling that the author really knows what he’s writing about – it was rich, very intelligent, eloquent, taking many points of view into consideration. I also had a feeling that the story is much too chopped, as if the author just lost his thought or didn’t know how to connect the events – all extremely well written but there was something missing. There was a lot of inner monologues and will he/will she, though I still must admit that the story never felt flat.

Personally I couldn’t stand Ed. He was too smug, to self – confident for my liking, but to be honest, Alice also annoyed me incredibly, and I had a feeling that she’s very uncertain and that even though she’s a very talented painter she doesn’t believe in her own talent, and it truly, madly made me angry.

The author has really done a great job with pulling wool over our eyes and presenting some possibilities and I think that we, as readers, could never be sure how the story is going to end. I think it is such compelling and gripping read because it makes you wonder what you’d do in such situation and how hard it’s to deal with truth sometimes. I think that nowadays, when so many psychological thrillers are written, it is a hard job for a book to stand out of the crowd but I also think that “What Alice Knew” doesn’t need to be afraid. It is a thriller with a difference, with a unique look and there is suspense and it’s a pretty good read. Yes, the book had me hooked and I was incredibly intrigued and I am already waiting for T.A. Cotterell’s next book – “What Alice Knew” was truly great debut. Recommended for all who are in a need of a very tense, not obvious read.

GUEST POST

My original plan was to write a thriller in which the reader’s sympathy, by virtue of point of view, was with the ‘criminal’. Clearly it was therefore impossible to write a ‘whodunnit?’ This led naturally to a ‘whydunnit?’ and ‘will they get away with it?’. As a father of smallish children – small when I started writing anyway! – I was also conscious of the place of truth in family life. What is the parent-child contract? How much does a parent owe it to a child to tell him/her the truth? When should they tell them, if at all?

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Being a parent, one is conscious the worst possible thing would be to be separated from your children while they are at an age where they still need you. It struck me therefore that if a father committed an act which, if found out, would separate him from his family, he would have every incentive to cover it up. If he told his wife, or his wife found out, they would have a secret that bound them together, for good and bad. As the bindings of the secret became tighter it seemed to me, there was a danger they could strangle or suffocate one partner. If that was the case then issues of intra-family honesty and truth would be forced into the open. It was these inter-related issues that led me to the plot of ‘What Alice Knew’.

As you rightly note, it was not an easy theme to pull together. I originally wrote and finished the novel in the third person but then I realised it was Alice’s story and needed to be narrated by her. In the first version she was a GP, but as I knew nothing about GPs this added little to the story. Making her a portrait painter opened up the whole book. Suddenly I was able to play with ideas of truth in art and life, light and darkness, the idea of being in the spotlight with nowhere to hide. This lent itself to the weather patterns, with the pre-confession gloomy skies giving way to the burning heat of summer, the sun reaching into every corner wherever Alice is seeking to hide in the darkness or behind the easel – most notably in Marianne’s glass-walled house when she, the hunter, becomes the ‘prey’. Her job/vocation also allowed some tangential symbolism into the book – much as a still life painter picks symbolic objects such as a lemon to symbolise bitter-sweetness, so her still life, ‘Peach, Knife, Dead Rose’ represented Alice, Ed & Araminta.

 What I particularly liked about the story as it came together was the possibility it gave me to write a page-turner (I hope!) which, unlike most thrillers, not only turns on a character and her ideas rather than a smoking gun, but one which, at the end becomes almost more of a character study than a straight thriller. It was as if I, and hopefully the reader, had had their cake and eaten it!

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR!

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