Monday, 24 April 2017

Blog Tour: The Dog Walker by Lesley Thomson


The Dog Walker by Lesley Thomson
Published: 6th April 2017
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages:434
Available in Hardcover and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
January, 1987. In the depths of winter, only joggers and dog walkers brave the Thames towpath after dark. Helen Honeysett, a young newlywed, sets off for an evening run from her riverside cottage. Only her dog returns. 
Twenty-nine years later, her husband has asked Stella Darnell, a private detective, and her side-kick Jack Harmon, to find out what happened all those years ago.
But when the five households on that desolate stretch of towpath refuse to give up their secrets, Stella and Jack find themselves hunting a killer whose trail has long gone cold...

Review

The Dog Walker by Lesley Thomson is the latest book in the Detectives Daughter series featuring Stella and Jack. This time Stella and Jack have been called to a row of terrace houses set along the Thames. Firstly they are called by Natasha Latimer the recent owner of number 1 who has renovated her basement and is now hearing strange noises she believes belong to the ghost of the long missing Helen Honeysett. Jack agrees to housesit and rid the house of its ghosts. Meanwhile Stella meets Adam Honeysett who is still searching for answers surrounding the disappearance of his wife over twenty years ago. Stella agrees to look into the case and soon it’s clear that everyone living in this small terrace along the river has something to hide. Will Stella and Jack manage to find out what happened to young Helen all those years ago or will they reach a dead end.

This is the first novel by Lesley Thomson that I’ve read and it was a book which was fairly easy to get lost in. There were a couple of times when I felt I missed something by not reading the previous books but overall this book works well as a standalone novel.

I liked the initial few chapters where we get flashbacks to 1987 before and after Helen Honeysett went missing as this gave a great insight into all the residents’ characters and how they reacted to the news Helen was missing. This was great to contrast with their characters later on in the novel when Stella and Jack meet them.

The things which struck me the most about Lesley Thomson was how good she is at creating an atmosphere. Almost instantly the little cottages by the Thames had a creepy almost sinister feel about them and I can imagine just how scary the towpath along the river could feel. This creepy atmosphere was definitely heightened when there were scenes at night, which there seemed to be a lot of.

I wasn’t overly keen on the ghost hunting aspect of this novel which Jack seems a big believer in but I guess it did add to the sinister feeling of the book and gives it a unique angle.

Stella herself is almost fifty, this was something I really struggled with. With so many mentions of her father and being around her mother so much I felt she was younger and every time her age was mentioned it threw me a little. 

Overall I found this book and enjoyable read with an engaging storyline which had a few little twists to keep me guessing. I loved the detail of all the characters and the setting which eerily brought this book to life. I’m now intrigued by the relationship of Stella and Jack I hope there is another book in the series to follow.




About the Author
Lesley Thomson grew up in west London. Her first novel, A Kind of Vanishing, won the People's Book Prize in 2010. Her second novel, The Detective's Daughter, was a #1 bestseller and sold over 500,000 copies.     


Thank you to Head of Zeus for sending me a copy to review and for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Blog Tour : Invisible Women by Sarah Long


Invisible Women by Sarah Long
Published: 20th April 2017
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Available on Kindle

Blurb
Isn't it about time we talked about YOU?

Tessa, Sandra and Harriet have been best friends through first crushes, careers, marriage and the trials of motherhood. After twenty years of taking care of everyone else's every need, they've found themselves hitting the big 5-0 and suddenly asking themselves: 'what about me?!'

Sandra has a sordid secret, and Harriet is landed with her ailing mother-in-law. Tessa is looking for something to fill the gaping hole left by her youngest daughter's departure for uni, where it seems she's now engaged in all sorts of unsavoury activities, if Tessa's obsessive late-night Facebook stalking is anything to go by.

When Tessa impulsively responds to an online message from an old flame, she soon finds herself waiting at Heathrow Airport for The One That Got Away.

But what will the plane from New York bring her? The man of her dreams, or a whole heap of trouble?

And could this be the long-awaited moment for Tessa to seize her life, for herself, with both hands?


Today I'd like to give a warm welcome to Sarah Long who is going to talk about the invisibility of middle-aged women, whom characters in her new book Invisible Women are based. So over to Sarah:




The Invisibility of Middle-Aged Women

That moment when you walk past a building site and nobody wolf-whistles at you. Young women will say, I should hope not, Neanderthal sexual harassment. Older women may say, with a twinge of regret, oh yes, I remember that. When the polite nod replaced the hungry stare. You’d reached a certain age and turned into their mother, you were no longer an object of lust.

Nobody laments the demise of the caveman, but most women will say they miss the attention when they morph into middle age. The loudest complaints come from TV presenters and actors. Their success depends on their looks - unlike their male counterparts who are not obliged to look cute or hot -  and so they are quietly sidelined in favour of younger models. 

The heroines of my novel INVISIBLE WOMEN  are not actors or TV presenters. They are examples of a rather outdated breed, the well-to-do housewife. In fact they refer to themselves as members of the dinosaur club, well aware that it is no longer quite the thing for an educated woman to live off her husband. The lack of a role outside the home reinforces their sense of not being noticed as they grow older, of not counting in a world that increasingly applauds the shouty ones, the sexy ones, the ones with beach-ready bodies.

You’ve only got to read the style advice meted out to middle aged women to get the underlying message. There’s a lot of talk about ‘appropriate’ styles: you can wear mini skirts but only with thick tights; cream is kinder than white against older skin, don’t be a ‘cougar’, don’t wear ‘mum jeans’, whatever the hell they are.   In other words, you’ve had it, you’re ridiculous unless you melt quietly into the background and let the young ones take centre stage.

Bollocks to that. I think we should take our lead from earlier role models. Great old operatic divas with heaving bosoms spilling out of their bodices. Terrifying matriarchs striking fear into whoever crossed their path. Margaret Thatcher would have hand-bagged anyone who told her not to wear those pussycat bows, Bette Davis ruling the roost in All About Eve. The more inappropriate, the better, in my opinion.  

The women in my novel are all emerging from their domestic cocoon to realise it is time to be noticed. Two of them are being particularly noticed by men who are not their husbands. It’s not quite the wolf whistles from the building site – we have moved on, after all – but it’s the kind of attention that forces them out of the shadows and on to the centre stage of their own lives.

INVISIBLE WOMEN by Sarah Long is published by Bonnier Zaffre



Sunday, 16 April 2017

Blog Tour Review : The Married Girls by Diney Costello


The Married Girls by Diney Costello
Published: 4th May 2017 (Hardback)
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 380
Available in Hardback and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
The war is over, but trouble is brewing...
Wynsdown, 1949. In the small Somerset village of Wynsdown, Charlotte Shepherd is happily married to farmer Billy. She arrived from Germany on the Kindertransport as a child during the war and now feels settled in her adopted home.
Meanwhile, the squire's fighter pilot son, Felix, has returned to the village with a fiancée in tow. Daphne is beautiful, charming... and harbouring secrets. After meeting during the war, Felix knows some of Daphne's past, but she has worked hard to conceal that which could unravel her carefully built life.
For Charlotte, too, a dangerous past is coming back in the shape of fellow refugee, bad boy Harry Black. Forever bound by their childhoods, Charlotte will always care for him, but Harry's return disrupts the village quiet and it's not long before gossip spreads.
The war may have ended, but for these girls, trouble is only just beginning.

Review

One of my favourite things about book blogging is the discovery of a new author who I know I’m going to love, Diney Costello for me is a real gem of a find.  The Married Girls is a sequel to one of her early books The Girl with No Name, having not read this book I can say The Married Girls can be read completely as a standalone novel without losing any enjoyment, I thought it was a wonderful book.

The book centres on the lives of Charlotte Shepheard and Daphne Higgins. Charlotte Shepheard was a German refugee from the war who came to London and later was living in the village of Wynsdown where she met and married Billy. Charlotte I believe is the main character in a The Girl with No Name so if you want to read about her early life before Billy you can. She’s happily married now with two children Johnny and Edie. Everything is perfect for Charlotte until her old friend Harry Black appears and the gossip mill starts running and Billy starts to question her love.

Daphne Higgins is the other main character. Born in the east-end of London she’s looking for a way to better herself and when she accidentally meets Felix Bellinger in an air-raid her plans are made.  Becoming an aircraft mechanic put Daphne in the right place to bump into Felix again and her stunning good looks ensured it wasn’t long before she was Mrs Felix Bellinger, but Daphne’s past hides some secrets which need to stay hidden no matter the cost.

Charlotte was lovely character who was kind, caring and resilient to all the setbacks she faced in life. She had fully embraced village life and made herself loved by many. Daphne on the other hand I didn’t really like. She was sneaky, selfish and spoilt and portrayed herself as better than everyone else in the village.

I couldn’t really work out the significance of the Harry Black storyline as it didn’t really add anything to Charlotte or Daphne’s lives in Wynsdown, perhaps this storyline links back to the first book.

I enjoyed this book a great deal as it was full of surprising twists which kept my interest and the storytelling style was descriptive but not drowning in details.  I was a little disappointed with the drama at the end, I felt it could have blown up a bit more. I just felt the book came to an end a bit too quickly.

Thank you to Head of Zeus for sending me a copy to review and inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Blog Tour Review: A Wedding in Italy by Tilly Tennant


A Wedding in Italy by Tilly Tennant
Published: 14th April 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 330
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Order now from Amazon UK / Amazon US
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
Sun, spaghetti and sparkling prosecco. When it comes to finding love, there’s no place like Rome… 

Kate is living the dream with her gorgeous boyfriend Alessandro in his native city, but the reality is sometimes a little less romantic than she’d hoped. Every day in her new home is a fight against leaking pipes, her cantankerous landlord and her less-than-perfect grasp of the Italian lingo.
All around her there is talk of weddings, but when a secret from her past is thrust out into the open, Kate must fight to prove to Alessandro’s Mamma – and the rest of his formidable family – that she truly is Italian marriage material. 

With the women in Alessandro’s life on a mission to break them apart, the cracks begin to show and Kate starts to question if Alessandro really is the man of her dreams. Can love and the city of romance conquer all, or is that just a fairy-tale?

Review
A Wedding in Italy is the second book in Tilly Tennant’s From Italy with Love series and follows on from Rome is Where the Heart is. I would definitely recommend reading Rome is Where the Heart is before starting A Wedding in Italy as the first book introduces all the characters and sets the scene for the start of the second book, which follows on really well from where the first book ended.
Kate has left her home and family in England and has moved to Rome and is starting to build a new live for herself with boyfriend Alessandro. The reality of living in Rome is starting to hit Kate as she struggles to find a job and with the language proving more of a barrier than she initially thought she’s sometimes a little lonely.
A lot of the drama in this book takes place centred on the Conti family, initially through Lucetta’s wedding. Where poor Kate is thrown in at the deep and gets to meet most of Alessandro’s extended family in one go, good luck girl. Later there are many family gatherings all of which seem to involve copious amounts of food, which made me very envious because it all sounded so delicious.
Jamie, Kate’s friend from New York and her sisters Anna and Lily also make an appearance in this second book. Which was good as we got to see how they were getting on after events in the last book. Much like the first book Jamie added a little bit of fun and chaos to Kate’s life and scenes with him did make the book more light-hearted and appeared at exactly the right time.
Although I enjoyed this book I did prefer Rome is Where the Heart is. For me this second book just lacked a little of the romance and sparkle of the first book. This is probably because Kate’s viewpoint is different, in the first book she’s doing all the touristy things for the first time which is magical and she’s still got that initial excitement when seeing Alessandro. In the second book she’s learning about living as an Italian which is more of a struggle. Kate is a resilient character though and I loved reading how she adapts to her new life.
Tilly Tennent’s writing is descriptive, warm-hearted and addictive and it wasn’t long before I’d finished the lovely A Wedding in Italy. A great sequel and a must read if you want to find out if Kate gets to live her Italian dream.
Thank you to Bookouture for the review copy and inviting me to be part of the blog tour.


Monday, 10 April 2017

Blog Tour Review: The Cornish Escape by Lily Graham


The Cornish Escape by Lily Graham
Published: 6th April 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 319
Available in paperback and on kindle
Order now from Amazon UK / Amazon US
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
Get swept away along the beautiful Cornish coast, where a love story in a long forgotten diary has the power to change one woman’s life forever.

Victoria Langley’s world crumbles when her husband leaves, but she knows exactly where to go to mend her broken heart. The rugged shores of Cornwall will be her perfect sanctuary.
In the quaint, little village of Tregollan, nestled in the sea cliffs, Victoria is drawn to Seafall Cottage, covered in vines and gracefully falling apart. Inside she finds a diary full of secrets, from 1905.

Victoria is determined to unravel the diary’s mystery, but the residents of Tregollan are tight-lipped about Tilly Asprey, the cottage’s last owner. Just as she reaches a dead end, Victoria meets Adam Waters, the lawyer handling the cottage’s sale. He’s handsome, charming, and has a missing piece of the puzzle.

Tilly’s diary tells a devastating love story that mirrors Victoria’s own. Can Victoria learn from Tilly’s mistakes, and give herself a second chance at love? Or is history doomed to repeat itself?

An unputdownable and gorgeously romantic read about lost love and new beginnings set in the green hills and rocky cliffs of the breath-taking Cornish coast. 

Review
The Cornish Escape was the first book by Lily Graham that I have read. Having begun reading without knowing too much about the story or the author’s writing style I was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting a light hearted beach romance but instead found an intriguing mystery surrounding a forgotten cottage intertwined with two budding romances a century apart.
Victoria Langley’s marriage has crumbled and needing someplace to go Victoria heads to the rugged coast of Cornwall. While walking along the beach at Tregollan Victoria stumbles across a cottage hidden among the cliffs, as she gets closer she takes a look around she find an old diary written in a secret code.  Being a historical biographer Victoria is intrigued by the diary and the strange connection she has to the derelict cottage.
The story of Tilly, the writer of the diary from 1905 is also told to us and we learn of her growing love for Fen Waters and her intrigue with the mystery surrounding the cottage her father is building at the edge of his estate.
Despite being marketed as romance novel it was the mysteries and the historical aspects of the novel which made it a winner for me. I loved reading about Tilly and her forbidden love with Fen but it was the mystery of the secret cottage and what it all meant which kept me reading. I loved Tilly as a character, she’s determined to do what she wants with who she wants with no regard to her social standing and takes people just as she finds them.
The chapters with Victoria were funnier and had more characters I would like to meet. I would love to go aboard Angie’s Bookshop on a Boat, that place sounded like heaven to me, especially as there always seemed to be cake available when Victoria visited.
Cornwall is one of my favourite places to visit and Lily Graham has really done is justice bringing to life the rugged coastline and the tiny fishing port and it had made me long to go back there. I felt many different emotions when reading about the different places in the book, the cottage by the sea felt eerie and cold with its hidden secrets but the houseboat on the river felt warm, cosy and welcoming, much like the people of Tregollan.
I thought this was a great read with lovely characters, great setting and a mystery which unravelled slowly keeping me guessing until the end. The only thing which I felt let this book down was that the end felt a little rushed and I think the ending could have been a little clearer.
Thank you to Bookouture for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and sending me a copy to review.


Friday, 31 March 2017

When We Danced at end of the Pier by Sandy Taylor

When We Danced at the End of the Pier (Brighton Girls Trilogy #3)

When we Danced at the end of the Pier by Sandy Taylor
Published: 31st March 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 352
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Blurb
Jack and Nelson have always been dear friends to Maureen. Despite their different backgrounds, they’ve seen each other through thick and thin.

As Maureen blossoms from a little girl into a young woman, the candle she’s always held for Jack burns bright. But just as she’s found love, war wrenches them apart. The man she cherishes with all her heart is leaving.

When the bombs start to fall, Maureen and her family find themselves living in the most dangerous of times. With Jack no longer by her side and Nelson at war, Maureen has never felt more alone. Can she look to a brighter future? And will she find the true happiness she’s dreamt of?

Review
If you’ve been following my blog for a while it will be no surprise to you that I loved When we Danced at the end of Pier just as much as I did Sandy Taylor’s previous two novels in the Brighton Girls trilogy. I just adore Sandy’s writing as it’s so emotional and realistic, I felt like living Maureen’s life alongside her and what an emotional rollercoaster of a life she had.
In When we Danced at the end of the Pier we go back to the beginning of the story with Maureen O’Connell as the main character. If you read the previous two novels by Sandy Taylor you will know that Maureen is the mother of Dotty. To begin with I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this book as much as the previous two as I had an idea of how the story was going to end. But oh the journey to get there was so worth it, Maureen’s life is told in great detail and shows various emotional upheavals young Maureen goes through to become the strong and caring woman she is in the other two novels.
The story starts back when Maureen is eight years old and first moves onto See-Saw lane, which is where she first lays eyes on Jack, who she instantly declares to Sister Brenda is the man she is going to marry. As they grow older Maureen and Jack along with his best friend Nelson become inseparable so when war finally breaks out Maureen is left on her own as the two men in her life go off to fight she has to be strong and wait and hope they both return safely.
This is a book which is full of the highs and lows of growing up and at times is heart-breaking for poor Maureen. It’s written so well that as a reader I felt each and every emotion that Maureen felt, Sandy Taylor really does have a gift at knowing how to pull the heart strings as there are parts of this book that had me in tears. It’s not all sad though, overall I found it a very uplifting novel and with the introduction of little Gertie sometimes even funny.
I urge anyone who hasn’t read the Brighton Girls trilogy to pick them up, they are all wonderful and I hope not the last books we see from Sandy Taylor.
Thank you to Bookouture and Netgalley for this copy which I reviewed voluntarily.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Rome is Where the Heart is by Tilly Tennant

Rome Is Where The Heart Is

Rome is Where the Heart is by Tilly Tennant
Published: 9th March 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 336
Available in paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Blurb
When Kate’s husband Matt dumps her on Friday 13th she decides enough is enough – it’s time for her to have some fun and so she hops on a plane to Rome. A week of grappa and gelato in pavement cafes under azure blue skies will be just what the doctor ordered.

What she doesn’t count on is meeting and falling for sexy policeman Alessandro. But the course of true love doesn’t run smoothly – Alessandro has five meddling sisters, a fearsome mama and a beautiful ex Orazia. They’re all certain that Kate is not the girl for him.

Can Kate and Alessandro’s love last the distance? Or will she return home with the one souvenir she doesn’t want – a broken heart …

Review
Rome Is Where the Heart Is by Tilly Tennant is my first read from this author but it definitely won’t be my last. Her writing style flows well and I was addicted to Kate and her story very quickly.
Kate’s fifteen year marriage to Matt is over and she’s decided to wallowing in what might have been and start living her life they she wants to. First on the list a trip to Rome, a place Kate has longed to visit but has never gone as Matt didn’t want to. On her own Kate fully embraces the city of Rome including some of its gorgeous men in the form of Alessandro.  When it’s time for Kate to leave she realises its more than sexy Alessandro who has captured her heart, Rome has too.
Rome has always been somewhere I have longed to go so when I saw this book was set there I just had to read it. The essence of Rome has been captured beautifully, I really felt like I was experiencing some of the more famous sights such the Colosseum, the Vatican, and the Trevi fountain alongside Kate as well as the food, music and transportation which really brought the city to life. It has made me long to visit there myself even more.
I really liked Kate as a character, she’s had her heart broken and her world shattered but she picks herself back up and decides to fully live her life. I admire her totally for getting on a plane and jetting off to another country on her own, I’m sure I wouldn’t have the courage to do the same thing. She throws herself into Italian life almost straight away, perhaps a little too quickly. Getting into a taxi with a complete stranger is risky business and not something I recommend anyone does, even if it was with cheeky American Jamie.
Kate’s slightly clumsy side made for some very comical moments when she gets herself in various scrapes, including getting drunk the Spanish steps where hunky Alessandro comes to her rescue her so guess it’s worth it.
I loved the family dynamics which Tilly Tennant has created with both families featured in this book. With Kate’s sisters we see how loving and supportive they can be for each other when one of them is hurting. Alessandro’s family are very similar in their support of each other too, there is just a lot more food involved like any big Italian family.
Rome is Where the Heart is, is a book which would make the perfect holiday read. It’s mostly light-hearted and fun, with just a couple of more serious storylines running through it. It’s a book about new adventures, families and embracing life and taking a chance. It was a book that has brought some sunshine into my life and made me long to visit Rome. I’m really excited to know that book two in the series is out very soon as I’m eager to catch up with Kate and find out if she made the right decision.
Thank you so much to Bookouture and Netgalley for this review copy which I volunteered to read.