Monday, 29 February 2016

The Girl in the Painting by Kirsty Ferry - Five *


What if you thought you knew a secret that could change history? 
Whilst standing engrossed in her favourite Pre-Raphaelite painting – Millais's Ophelia – Cori catches the eye of Tate gallery worker, Simon, who is immediately struck by her resemblance to the red-haired beauty in the famous artwork. 

The attraction is mutual, but Cori has other things on her mind. She has recently acquired the diary of Daisy, a Victorian woman with a shocking secret. As Cori reads, it soon becomes apparent that Daisy will stop at nothing to be heard, even outside of the pages of her diary … 

Will Simon stick around when life becomes increasingly spooky for Cori, as she moves ever closer to uncovering the truth about Daisy’s connection to the girl in her favourite painting?


Wow! This had everything - love stories, ghosts, obsessions..... It's a time slip/ghost story involving the present day and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Having long been a fan of all things PRB and having been to see their paintings more times than I care to think about, I was really looking forward to this book.

And I certainly wasn't disappointed. Kirsty weaves the story really cleverly and Cori makes for an interesting and different heroine. The gradual disintegration of her mental and physical health as the integration of Daisy into her mind occurs is so well described - and very tense!

Simon is perfect as the hero - romantic and understanding, but a little out of his depth, especially with all the things "going bump in the night"! And Lissy links all the characters perfectly.

Thoroughly enjoyed it and will look forward to Kirsty's next book. 

Received an ARC from Choc Lit and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Review of Kitty's Countryside Dream by Christie Barlow - Four *


When Kitty inherits Bluebell Lodge from her grandmother, a farm in the beautiful Staffordshire countryside, it’s time for fresh air and a fresh start. Up to her elbows in chickens and ponies, Kitty soon realises there’s an awful lot to learn about farming. Still, at least the locals seem friendly, not least her handsome neighbour Tom… 

But just as Kitty is beginning to find her feet, and the possibility of love, the discovery of a long-hidden diary, by a mysterious character called Violet changes everything. Who is Violet and what is her message for Kitty? As Kitty fills in the lost pieces of her family jigsaw and discovers some shocking revelations, will her countryside dream and blossoming relationship fall to pieces? When it comes to life in the country, nothing is ever quite as it seems …


This is a very funny book - with a lot of twists in the tale! Kitty inherits two properties from a grandmother she didn't even know existed!

The descriptions of getting to grips with the farm and its inhabitants had me laughing out loud! And the auction was wonderful - I'd have done exactly the same!

The romance thread through the book is very cleverly done. It is a salutary tale of establishing facts before leaping to the wrong conclusions - several times!

Thoroughly enjoyed it - thank you for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Review of Deadly Obsession by Nigel May - Four *


What would you do if you saw your husband killed right in front of you … identified his body … had him cremated … then six months later received a letter written by him two days ago? 

Amy Barrowman grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. So when she falls in love with millionaire Riley Hart and he asks her to marry him she can’t believe her luck. She has found true love and her happy ever after. 

Riley Hart is a Millionaire Man about Town. Men want to be him and women want to bed him. But to achieve Riley’s status, you have to tread on a lot of toes and make a lot of enemies. 

When Riley is gunned down at the nightclub they own, Amy is determined to avenge his death. She receives a mysterious letter detailing a list of suspects including Riley’s sworn enemy, actor Grant Wilson. But with an obsessive passion brewing between her and Grant and a dangerous assassin trailing her every move it would seem Amy has opened a deadly and tempting Pandora’s Box. In settling the score for her husband has Amy put herself into terrible danger? 


This is the second Nigel May book I've read and it is very different to the first one. In this one the violent death of a man in Manchester drives the story, so less of the usual glitzy glamour. 

I liked the way it moved from past to present and back again - and was easy to follow as the date was at the top of each new chapter. It helped to learn about everyone's past - none of which was as it appeared, apart from Amy.

I loved they way she toughened up in her quest to find out what happened to her husband. And how his life was nothing as she expected!

The ending was brilliant! Caught me out completely!

I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Review of Another Love by Amanda Prowse - Five *


In the early years, she was happy.
Romilly had worked hard for her stunning, modern house in one of Bristol's most fashionable suburbs. She adored her gorgeous, gap-toothed daughter and her kind and handsome husband. Sure, life was sometimes exhausting - but nothing that a large glass of wine at the end of the day couldn't fix.
But then, as deep-buried insecurities surfaced, everything started to unravel. A glass of wine became a bottle; one bottle became two. Once, Romilly's family were everything to her. Now, after years of hiding the drinking, she must finally admit that she has found another love...


Where do I start? With poor Romilly, who goes to hell and back several times during the course of her life? Or with Celeste, who suffers from the fallout of her mother's illness? Or David, bewildered and lost in the face of his wife's addiction?

Having some knowledge of alcoholism in the family, I can say, without any qualification, that Amanda describes it accurately and, thank heavens, without pity.

The hopelessness of Romilly balances perfectly with the helplessness of her family. Romilly sinks to rock bottom in a gradual but inevitable increase of alcohol intake and decrease of feelings for anything but the bottle. At the back of her mind, she knows she doesn't want to do it, but the cravings are too strong.

David attempts to help to start with but, since she doesn't want to stop, he is powerless. The inevitable break up is harrowing and following Romilly after that is dreadful. It shows graphically how low an addiction can take you.

I loved the way the chapters alternated between Romilly's point of view and Celeste's. It really showed very clearly that it is a family illness. The addict affects others in a myriad of ways.

It's not an easy read, but it is a very positive book in many ways. Thank you Amanda - I loved it!

Review of The Little Shop of Happy Ever After by Jenny Colgan - Five *


Given a back-room computer job when the beloved Birmingham library she works in turns into a downsized retail complex, Nina misses her old role terribly - dealing with people, greeting her regulars, making sure everyone gets the right books for their needs. Then a new business nobody else wants catches her eye: owning a tiny little bookshop bus up in the Scottish highlands. No computers. Shortages. Out all hours in the freezing cold; driving with a tiny stock of books... not to mention how the little community is going to take to her, particularly when she stalls the bus on a level crossing...


Oh how I loved this book! Stayed awake until 2am to finish it and even then I couldn't sleep for the characters zooming around in my head.

It has everything I love - beautiful scenery, believable characters, a great plot and books!

Nina was wonderful as the main character - delicate but with a rod of iron going through her. Marek was intriguing, Surinder was so down to earth in contrast to Nina's flights of fancy and then there was Lennox. He is probably one of my favourite characters of all time! A true dour Scotsman. His comments about reading had me crying with laughter, "I never understand," he said, shaking his head, "why anyone would go to the trouble of making up new people in this world when there's already billions of the buggers I don't give a shit about."

Absolute class!

All I want to do now is flee to the Highlands and meet my own Lennox.....sadly unlikely to happen! Thank you, Jenny, from the bottom of my heart, for such a wonderful book!

Review of How to Get Hitched in Ten Days by Samantha Tonge - Four *



Meet Mikey, every girl’s best friend – he bakes the creamiest cheesecake, loves movie nights and is a great dance partner.

For Jasmine, Mikey is the perfect flatmate – he owns a 50s diner that turns out the best food around, gives the best bear hugs and amazing romance advice – after all they’re scoping out the same hot guys! So when her boyfriend proposes in the worst possible way, Jazz knows her best friend will be there to pick up the pieces with gourmet popcorn, Pinot sleepovers and a shoulder to lean on.

But Mikey isn’t about to let Jasmine give up on love, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to mend her broken heart – even if it means helping the one person who sees him as the enemy…

Because at the end of the day, all’s fair in the pursuit of true love… right?


Well this short story was certainly different! And how refreshing to read something from the point of view of a gay man and a straight woman!

Mikey is gorgeous. He is Everyman almost in the literal sense - gay, warm, loving, intelligent, loyal - everything you could want in a man. He tries to sort out a mess between his flatmate and her boyfriend - and he only has 10 days to do it.

The changes in attitude and emotions within this trio are really well described and I couldn't for the life of me see how Sam was going to end it! But she did it very well and I was satisfied!

A sequel where a heavy object lands on Mikey's head and turns him heterosexual would be wonderful....but I can see it would be unlikely! ;)

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Review of We Just Clicked by Sophie Childs - Five *


Erin Cochrane loves the gossip and the countless bizarre stories about her best friend Bex’ adventures with online dating. Not that she’d ever sign up for the site herself. Erin’s far too busy planning her dream wedding to her gorgeous fiancĂ©, Tyson. 
But when Tyson decides that he is not ready for marriage, Erin’s world is turned upside down. Forced to move back in with her eccentric mother, things couldn’t get any worse. Thrust back into the singles’ scene, could online dating be the escape Erin needs from it all? Or will it be just another disaster? 
From stalkers to cheapskates, Erin feels as though she’s become a magnet for every loser around, until she opens one message that changes everything. 
An intriguing novel about modern dating and unexpected encounters that will keep you entertained right up to the very last page.


What a lovely book! And perfect title on every level!

This is the story of Erin and Joe, and Erin's mum, and Bex, Erin's friend. It had me laughing out loud at Delia's antics! The descriptions of the hazards of online dating were so well written. I tried it myself years ago and gave up. So many weirdos!

I loved the idea of Joe using online dating to meet 'real' women. I could see that it would work.

For me, the best bits were the sowing of seeds in Erin's mind and them blossoming - either into gorgeous fruit or poisonous weeds. It was always Erin's choice but she couldn't help herself.

All in all, a lovely, light-hearted read :)

Review of Reader, I Dumped Him by Lorelei Mathias - Four *


This story is a celebration of the people that bring you back to life when your world closes in: your mates.
Relationships come and go, but the Break-up Club membership never truly expires.
Holly Braithwaite and loveable loser Lawrence have been together for five years. But the obvious cracks in their relationship can no longer be ignored and Holly soon finds herself saying ‘it’s not you, it’s me.’
In the shock aftermath of their break up, Holly finds unlikely companions in Olivia, Harry and Bella. Together, they form the Break-up Club, as they support each other through their mutual melancholy and find ways to love, laugh and function as human beings again.
Break-up Club meets every Sunday. Each week, as the comedy and drama unfolds, they discover a new BUC ‘rule’. And, one by one, the rules become vital markers on their journey to recovery . . .
To our members, we’re the first emergency service


This is quite a long book and I struggled to start with. But I'm glad I persevered. There is some very subtle wit, some laugh out loud moments and some "WHAT??" moments as well!

Above all, it is the story of friendship through thick and thin & ups and downs. Four friends form The Break Up Club and the book follows their luck and love over a period of time. But it doesn't stick to one theme - one member travels, another is very ill - and so the interactions are constantly mixed up.

For me personally, it is a little bit long but that is my only criticism - and that's more personal taste than anything. Holly, Bella, Harry & Olivia will live in my memory for some time to come!