Friday, 27 November 2015

What Doesn't Kill You by Laura E James - Four *


What doesn't kill you makes you stronger – but how strong can one person be? 
Griff Hendry knows what it is to be strong. After a turbulent past, he’s dedicated himself to saving lives, working as a coastguard along the breath-taking shores of Dorset. It's Griff's belief that everyone is worth saving – which is why he can't forgive his father, Logan, for what he did. 

Griff's future is plunged into uncertainty when his wife, Evie, tells him she wants a separation. The revelation is a shock and leads Griff to question what Evie could possibly be hiding – and she isn't the only one holding back. Griff's troubled stepdaughter, Tess, also harbours a dark secret. 

As the truth is uncovered, Griff is forced to accept that perhaps he's never understood what real strength is. 

From Dark Choc Lit - compelling, emotional, hard-hitting novels. Not your typical romance story.


It's always a red letter day when a new Choc Lit novel appears and this is no exception.

It took me a little while to get into it - I wasn't sure what the main theme was going to be, but after a while, I was hooked! Laura's characters are very real - a long way from perfect and I identified in some way with all of them!

Evie and her daughter have come out of an abusive relationship and Evie has found happiness with Griff. But when the book starts, they are living apart and Griff has no idea why. 

The book is really like an inter-locking jigsaw puzzle - as you uncover each piece, the whole picture becomes clearer. But it's not until it is finished that you can actually see it clearly.

There are several thought-provoking themes within the book and Laura handles these well. I'll not mention them all here, it would be too much of a giveaway. But suffice to say any one theme could be the basis for a book!

Really enjoyed it - thank you Netgalley and Choc Lit for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Any budding writers out there? Fantastic workshop at Purbeck Literary Festival next year with Sue Moorcroft and Nikki Moore :)

Purbeck Workshop
Review of The Long Dance Home by Julie Mayerson Brown - Five *


As Cece approaches her 29th birthday, life takes an unexpected turn that throws the level-headed, disciplined, former ballerina into turmoil. After a chance encounter with an old rival who makes an unexpected request, Cece is forced to make a life-changing decision. 

With a broken heart and an unknown future, she returns to her hometown where she is lured back into the life she had escaped long ago, vowing never to return. 

Now, immersing herself in a production of The Nutcracker, she struggles to let go of the life she had dreamed of and the love she left behind.


I really enjoyed this book, it is warm, funny and very touching. Cece has a loving boyfriend and, at 29, sees them getting married and starting a family. Unfortunately Doug isn't on the same page and this causes a rift. Cece flees home and helps out with the production of The Nutcracker Suite that her old ballet school is putting on.

There isn't a bad character in the book - even the ones you think might a bit dodgy turn out to be real gems. Cece was a brilliant dancer herself until she stopped at 16. Seeing her blossom as she teaches Dawn is quite wonderful!

Brad enters as the temptation- a really good looking divorced man - and the father of Dawn. And Patti turns up for Christmas, Cece's best friend and one of the funniest characters I've come across in a long time. The scene at Cece's home at Christmas is hysterical!

But does Cece choose Doug and her old life or Brad and a new one in her hometown? You'll have to read it to find out!

Thank you for giving me a copy, Julie, I thoroughly enjoyed it

***** Throughout December 2015 100 % of author royalties 

will be donated to the "Steppers Dance Program" 

run by the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica, Ca.****

Monday, 23 November 2015

I've just won a copy of Kate Morton's The Lake House! Can't wait to get stuck this space ;)

Sorry I haven't blogged for a while - too busy reading!!

Friday, 13 November 2015

Review of The Art of Christmas by Jane Lovering - Five *


What if the memories of Christmas past were getting in the way of Christmas future? 
It’s been nearly two years since Harriet lost Jonno, but she’s finally decided that it’s time to celebrate Christmas again. 

Then she finds a stash of graphic novels belonging to her comic book-loving husband in the attic, and suddenly her world is turned upside down once more. 

With the help of eccentric comic book dealer Kell Foxton, she discovers that the comics collected by Jonno are not only extremely valuable, but also hold the key to his secret life – a life that throws Harriet’s entire marriage and every memory she has of her husband into question. 

As Harriet grows closer to Kell, she begins to feel like she could learn to love Christmas again – but first, she needs to know the truth. 


I was accepted to review an ARC by Choc Lit via NetGalley and I confess that I didn't even read the blurb before starting this Christmas novella from Jane. I've read all Jane's books and had been looking forward to this one!

This is an absolutely charming story of Harriet still trying to get over her husband's death and Kell, a graphic bookseller. Oh - and Frodo the dog! It has all the usual Jane Lovering ingredients - great humour, a lovely romance, some sadness and an unexpected twist to two. 

There is always at least one line that makes me howl with laughter and this novella was no exception: "a bus load of trainee removal men had come round to gain their BTEC in ‘shoving stuff up against the walls’."

Frodo was the funniest dog I've come across in a long time - wait til you read the bit about the phone call; I was crying with laughter!

A real Christmas treat! Thank you Jane!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

In July I reviewed the wonderful book While I Was Waiting by Georgia Hill

(Original Review)

Yesterday I discovered something very exciting! There is a quote from the review on the back of the paperback edition!!

I feel like a proper book blogger now ;)

Thank you Georgia - and Harper Impulse!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Learning to Speak American by Colette Dartford - Four *


Having suffered in silence since the tragic death of their young daughter, Lola and Duncan Drummond's last chance to rediscover their love for one another lies in an anniversary holiday to the gorgeous Napa Valley.

Unable to talk about what happened, Duncan reaches out to his wife the only way he knows how - he buys her a derelict house, the restoration of which might just restore their relationship. 

As Lola works on the house she begins to realise the liberating power of letting go. But just as she begins to open up, Duncan's life begins to fall apart.

Colette Dartford's debut novel, Learning to Speak American, explores whether a parent can ever truly move on from the death of a child. And, after all the heartbreak, whether Lola and Duncan can learn to love again.


This is not my normal genre and I had some reservations when I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review. However, I need not have been worried.

It is an incredibly emotional book, dealing with the aftermath of the death of a child. It follows the parents as they try to make sense of the world, their relationship and themselves.

Duncan is the fixer - trying to make his wife's life better as he tries to deal with his guilt. Lola is badly damaged by the death but starts to come alive and recover in California's Napa Valley as she fixes an old house they buy.

There are many twists and turns before the end, none of which I will give away! But I enjoyed it and it certainly made me think - a lot!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Review of House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick - Five *


London, 1662:
There was something the Winter Queen needed to tell him. She fought for the strength to speak.
‘The crystal mirror is a danger. It must be destroyed – ‘
He replied instantly. ‘It will’.

Ashdown, Oxfordshire, present day: Ben Ansell is researching his family tree when he disappears. As his sister Holly begins a desperate search, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to an ornate antique mirror and to the diary of Lavinia, a 19th century courtesan who was living at Ashdown House when it burned to the ground over 200 years ago.

Intrigued, and determined to find out more about the tragedy at Ashdown, Holly’s only hope is that uncovering the truth about the past will lead her to Ben.

For fans of Barbara Erskine and Kate Morton comes an unforgettable novel about three women and the power one lie can have over history.


This was one of the most fascinating books I have read in a long time! Nicola gets the balance between history and modern times just right! It's my first book of hers as I don't normally read historical romance, but I may well have to change that now!

It is the story of a mirror and a pearl and the people who are affected by them through history. So we meet Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen and William Craven from the 17th Century, Lavinia Flyte and Robert Verity in the early 19th Century and Holly and Mark today.

I learned a lot about mid-17th century history in Europe - and it was all really interesting and well written. Nicola shows the beginnings of the civil war in England from the point of the European royalty, which was very different!

The love stories were wonderful! Elizabeth and William as lovers from different social backgrounds, Lavinia and Robert - again from different social backgrounds and finally Holly and Mark, who are from similar backgrounds!

The weaving of the mirror and pearl throughout the book was amazing! the people in the book were attracted to them for very different reasons and this made it all the more interesting!

I so enjoyed this book and am still thinking about it, long after I finished it!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Review of Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn - Four *


A perfect winter warmer novella for all fans of Cathy Bramley and Scarlett Bailey.

When sisters Nessie and Sam inherit a little pub in a beautiful country village they jump at the chance to escape their messy lives and start afresh. But when they arrive at the Star and Sixpence, it's not quite what they imagined - it's pretty much derelict, ruined by debts, and it's going to be a huge job to get it up and running again.

It's just before Christmas but they are determined to relaunch on New Year's Eve, to bring the new year in with a bang. But with nosy neighbours, miserable locals and no money to contend with, it's not going to be easy.

And when the sisters' past comes back to haunt them, they start to think that the fresh start they needed is very far away indeed…

Curl up with Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence - the perfect novella for those winter nights. 


This is the second book I've read recently along the lines of father dies and leaves property to daughter(s) who never really knew him. But they were very different!

Nessie and Sam inherit their father's pub and set about opening it up once more. They are helped and hindered by locals and introduced to the beginnings of new romances. 

I liked the two different characters of Nessie and Sam - Sam is much bolder that Nessie and gets herself and the pub in trouble before they've even started! But she worked in PR and finds way to resolve all the problems.

interesting to watch them learn that their Dad wasn't just a heavy drinker, but a nice man as well.

Nice, comfortable, Christmas read :)

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Review of Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper by Debbie Johnson - Four *


You’ve seen Mark Darcy in the reindeer jumper his mother gave him, now meet Marco Cavelli in this season’s hottest Christmas knit!

For single mum Maggie, Christmas has always been a family occasion – her daughter Ellen filling the house with her bubbly warmth and mistletoe, her dad Paddy having one too many festive tipples, and the traditional family Christmas tree looking like a drunken elf vomited a rainbow all over it.

But this year, with both Ellen and Paddy away for the holidays, Maggie’s facing a truly blue Christmas – alone with nothing but a bottle of Baileys and an M&S turkey dinner.

Until walking the snowy streets of Oxford, Marco Cavelli quite literally crashes into her life – and, complete with broken leg, becomes her unexpected houseguest. All dreamy brown eyes and 6’5” of gorgeousness, the man is hotter and more delicious than a freshly baked mince pie.
Though Maggie always thought it’s a truth universally acknowledged that you never kiss a man in a Christmas jumper?

The next FABULOUS book from Debbie Johnson, author of best-selling Christmas number one, ‘Cold Feet at Christmas’ and the summer hit ‘Pippa’s Cornish Dream’.


I have been waiting for another book from Debbie after I enjoyed Pippa's Cornish Dream so much. And this didn't disappoint in any way.

On the surface it was a light, witty read with some real laugh out loud moments. But there was a darker undercurrent involving Maggie's past. Marco was a great guy and as she fell in love, it became clear that she had been shutting herself off from life for 19 years. Seeing her come to life and try to take risks was a real joy.

Leah was the funniest character ever - but even her past revealed a lot of sadness in her search for her Happy Ever After. 

The sad wedding in the hospital was a real tear jerker, especially as Maggie was starting to flower by then.

Loved it and look forward to Debbie's next one!