Monday, 19 February 2018

Faking Friends by Jane Fallon


Amy thought she knew everything there was to know about her best friend Melissa. Then again, Amy also thought she was on the verge of the wedding of her dreams to her long-distance fiancé.
Until she pays a surprise trip home to London. Jack is out, but it's clear another woman has been making herself at home in their flat.
There's something about her stuff that feels oddly familiar . . . and then it hits Amy. The Other Woman is Melissa.
Amy has lost her home, her fiancé and her best friend in one disastrous weekend - but instead of falling apart, she's determined to get her own back.
Piecing her life back together won't be half as fun as dismantling theirs, after all.

I think the synopsis for this book gives away a good part of the story. This book is about revenge, while maybe well deserved on the cheating boyfriend and best friend it probably goes too far. 
I always enjoy Jane Fallon's books and although I wanted Amy to just get on with her life instead of ripping her ex boyfriend's apart it did make for a good read. I think the story shows that the best revenge on anyone is to show them you have made a good life for yourself and are happy. 
I don't want to give away any more of the story than above as it would spoil your enjoyment. A good read!

Friday, 9 February 2018

Coming Home to Island House by Erica James

It's the summer of 1939, and after touring an unsettled Europe to promote her latest book, Romily Temple returns home to Island House and the love of her life,the charismatic Jack Devereux.

But when Jack falls ill, his estranged family are called home and given seven days to find a way to bury their resentments and come together. 
But when Jack falls ill, his estranged family are called home and given seven days to find a way to bury their resentments and come together. 
With war now declared, each member of the family is reluctantly forced to accept their new stepmother and confront their own shortcomings. But can the habits of a lifetime be changed in one week? And can Romily, a woman who thrives on adventure, cope with the life that has been so unexpectedly thrust upon her?

I loved this book. It's so nice to lose yourself in a good story. Poor Romily is charged with the task of uniting an estranged family of three siblings and a cousin. These adults grew up at Island House but for various reasons their father didn't manage to hold his family together and has left his new wife to deal with them. 
Romily is such a lovely character, a strong independent woman who laughs at the gossips who think she is a trollop. There are a few surprising and sometimes sad parts of this story which kept me up late at night reading it.
I would have liked to have known more about Jack so maybe a prequel would be a good idea. I also would like to know more of what Romily did during the war and what happened next. There is so much more to explore with this family that I'm also hoping for a sequel. 

Out for kindle or hardback. Paperback is out on 31st May and it's cheaper than kindle.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness by Laura Kemp

When Ceri Price arrives in the small seaside village of Dwynwen in West Wales, she only means to stay for a couple of nights - long enough to scatter her mother's ashes, and then go back to her life as a successful make-up entrepreneur. 
But a case of mistaken identities means she lands a job as the barmaid in the local pub, she unexpectedly finds friendship, and wonders if love might follow... But when the plans for a new housing estate put the local woodland under threat, she fears the way of life here could disappear.
 Then mysterious acts of kindness start springing up around the village - a string of bunting adorns the streets, a new village signpost appears out of nowhere and someone provides paint to spruce up the houses on the seafront. Who is behind these acts of kindness and can they help in the race to save the village from the faceless developers...?

Today is publication day For the paperback edition of Surprising acts of Kindness. This is the first book I have read by Laura Kemp. 
Ceri is mourning the death of her mum,she is at odds with her sister and just when she thinks she has no one to turn to she visits Wales and finds .....kindness. 

Ceri is in Wales to scatter her mother's ashes in Dwynwen the place she was born,the place her mum never spoke about and now Ceri is curious, wondering why her mother wanted her ashes scattered here. Little does she know what she finds will change her life completely. 
I loved Ceri, she was so unpretentious for someone who was rich and successful. I loved the people in the village and the lovely Welsh hospitality shown by all. 

The village,once a bustling seaside town is slowly closing down and needs some fresh life and a good lick of paint or there will be no reason for anyone to live there. When acts of kindness start happening in various locations all made to brighten the place up everyone starts to feel a new lease of life and feels that they can make a success of being a holiday destination once more.

 I loved the quirkiness of the villagers,their loyalty to anything and everything Welsh ( a bit like us Scots!) and the welcome they gave to a stranger. 
Rhodri, reminded me of the policeman from the tv series Doc Martin and it took a lot of imagination for me to see him as a romantic hero,I didn't quite get the attraction. 

Can Ceri give up her successful business and start a new life and what will her new friends say when they find out who she is? A lovely feel good book, a story to warm your heart.

Published today in paperback and also for kindle download.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

My Virtual Book Awards 2017

It's that time of the year again when I look back at the reviews I have written over the past twelve months and decide which ones I have enjoyed most.
This year I have reviewed 52 books on my blog. I have read maybe another 10 or more and listened to 5 audio books. My awards are only for the books I have reviewed. 

It was so hard trying to decide on my favourite books. My short list was 20 then 15 and I have narrowed it down to 12. 
I have three categories. The books that made me cry, the books that had me on the edge of my seat and the  books that should be made into films. 

Every one of my 12 favourite books are well worth a second look if these are not on your kindle or bookshelves. Well done to the authors and I hope to read their next books soon.

Thank you to Net Galley, Harper Collins, Penquin, Avon books U.K and Urbane Publications. A special thanks to all the authors who have also sent me books to review. All my reviews are entirely my own thoughts and I hope I give a well rounded opinion.
This years new books have started with two good ones which I will be writing reviews for soon. 
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon and If I Fall By Ella Harper. 
Happy New Year everyone! 

The winners who are top of all three categories and my best reads of 2017 are...
East of Hounslow and Island of Secrets.

These two books made me cry, had me on the edge of my seat and should be made into films. East of Hounslow also has a touch of humour running through it and is the first book of a trilogy. 
Island of Secrets author Patricia Wilson has a new book due out this year and I can't wait to read it. 

East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman 

Meet Jay.
Small-time dealer.
Accidental jihadist.
The one man who can save us all?
Javid – call him Jay – is a dope dealer living in West London. He goes to mosque on Friday, and he’s just bought his pride and joy – a BMW. He lives with his mum, and life seems sweet.
But his world is about to turn upside-down. Because MI5 have been watching him, and they think he’s just the man they need for a delicate mission.
One thing’s for sure: now he’s a long way East of Hounslow, Jay’s life will never be the same again.

Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson
It's the story of the Nazi occupation of Crete during the Second World War, of horror, of courage and of the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her children. And it's the story of bitter secrets that broke a family apart, and of three enchanting women who come together to heal wounds that have damaged two generations.

The books that made me cry.......

Relativity by Antonia Hayes
Ethan's single mother, Claire is fiercely protective of her brilliant, vulnerable son. But she can't shield him for ever from learning the truth about what happened to him when he was a baby; why Mark had to leave all those years ago.

Nineteen Letters by Jodi Perry
What can I say about this book? It grabbed my heart and squeezed every emotion it could find from it.
Jemma and Braxton have been neighbours and friends since childhood. They have been married for nineteen days when tragedy strikes and Jemna is left in a comma. Braxton is devasted and stays by her bedside until she awakes.

One Last Wish by Ella Harper

Rosie and Nate had the perfect relationship. But they struggled to cope with the devastating news their daughter Emmie has incurable cancer. It feels like their world – and their relationship – has come crashing down. 
They must do everything to support their little girl, but can they stop their marriage falling apart?

The Returning Tide by Liz Fenwick
One wrong decision leads to betrayal and a lifetime of heartbreak. A heartbreak kept secret for years until the younger generation demand answers. A suitcase in the attic filled with unopened letters, a blurred wedding photo and a bridal veil. Only one person knows it's story and time is running out for her to tell it.

The books that kept me on the edge of my seat.....

The Escape by C.L. Taylor
The stranger knows Jo's name, she knows her husband Max and she's got a glove belonging to Jo's two year old daughter Elise.
What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo's own husband turn against her.

Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh
The sights,sounds and smells of Africa as described in the book could only come from someone who knows and loves the country. I was transported there by every page. I was worried for Rahel as she wandered around the farm and fished in the river. Were the lions, buffalo or leopards watching her? Was she safe? Actually she had more to worry about from her fellow man and woman than any wild animal as you will find out in the book.

The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown
Based on the true story of the man known as the Witchfinder General, this exquisitely rendered novel transports you to a time and place almost unimaginable, where survival might mean betraying those closest to you, and danger lurks outside every door.

Books that would make great films ! ...... Film producers why have you not bought the film rights? 

Twenty-Four Shadows by Tanya J. Peterson
This is the story of Isaac who has Dissociative Identity Disorder [multiple personality disorder].
It has taken his whole life for this to become noticeable but when he is found half dead in the wilds of Idaho it brings things to a head so Isaac has to be diagnosed. He then attends a daily medical facility to receive treatment.

The Planters Daughter by Jo Carroll

It's 1848. And Sara, aged fourteen, must leave her family in the stinking potato fields of Ireland to seek a better life with her wealthy aunt in Liverpool. But her Uncle has different ideas.
If I said this was heartbreaking I wouldn't be using a strong enough word. I had no idea just what the Irish people went through at that time. Men, woman and children  dying at the side of the road, the Protestant Church refusing to help or feed starving Cathlics unless they became Protestants,oh the list goes on. 
The ending was a complete surprise and I couldn't get it out of my head.

And with Eddie Murphy and Maggie Smith as part of the cast......
Return of the Magi by P.J Tracy 
Emil Rice has a silver tongue and sticky fingers, the only problem is that his charm always gets him into trouble and he's never been very good at not getting arrested. Twenty-two times he's been caught and twenty-two times he's sworn never to steal again, but it's on his twenty-third arrest when Emil realises he may have picked up more than he bargained for. Sentenced to community service at a secure mental health facility, Emil is unwillingly befriended by two elderly female patients who believe he is the final part of a big cosmic plan that will change their lives forever...

Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Truth & Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr

Ella Black seems to live the life most other seventeen-year-olds would kill for . . . 

Until one day, telling her nothing, her parents whisk her off to Rio de Janeiro. Determined to find out why, Ella takes her chance and searches through their things.

And realises her life has been a lie.

Her mother and father aren't hers at all. Unable to comprehend the truth, Ella runs away, to the one place they'll never think to look - the favelas.

But there she learns a terrible secret - the truth about her real parents and their past. And the truth about a mother, desperate for a daughter taken from her seventeen years ago.

This book is classed as YA fiction but I don't care I love the stories Emiy Barr tells. 

I would imagine that the moral of this story (if there is one) is ...If your parents decide there are some things you are best not knowing then please believe them because things could be much worse if you find out. 

When we meet Ella we realize that something is not quite right. Ella is trying to suppress a voice from inside her that wants her to do bad things. She doesn't want this to happen but sometimes she can't help it. One day Ella is taken out of school by her parents and taken straight to the airport. Her phone is taken from her and soon all three of them are on a flight to Rio,no explanation given. Once there Ella needs to take matters into her own hands and find out why her usually dull,quiet and over protective parents have moved her to a foreign country and are acting very strange. 

Wow! What a roller coaster ride this story is. I was so afraid for Ella when she found out what she wasn't supposed to know. I was also surprised at how resourceful she became especially when she had the stress of keeping the other voice inside her satisfied. 

I can't say much more without giving the plot away. This book is not just for the YA market it is for anyone and it kept me turning the pages. Once again Emily Barr has came up with a cracking good story. 

I think I would go for the paperback over kindle this time as there's not much difference in price.

The Woman at 72 Derry Lane by Carmel Harrington

On a leafy suburan street in Dublin, beautiful, poised Stella Greene lives with her successful husband, Matt. The perfect couple in every way, Stella appears to have it all.
However at number 72 however, lives Rea Brady. Gruff, bad-tempered and rarely seen besides the twitching of her net curtains, rumour has it she’s lost it all…including her marbles if you believe the neighbourhood gossip.
But appearances can be deceiving and when Stella and Rea’s worlds collide they realise they have much in common. Both are trapped in a prison of their own making.
Has help been next door without them realising it?

This is my first read with this author and I wasn't disappointed. This book provoked all kinds of emotion in me. I laughed at the Irish humour, I was angry at  how some people have to live and I cried at the very sad parts of the story. The book tackles domestic abuse,agoraphobia and a live changing disaster. 
My favourite character was Sky,I was amazed at the strength and compassion she found when she needed it. Rea's story was sad but fixable and only she knew how to fix it. My heart went out to Stella and I willed her to stand up for herself. Charlie was hilarious, kind,lovable and an asset to anyone's life. Matt? Well the less said about him the better although I would have liked to have known a bit more about his back story.

My only complaint would be that the author seemed to think that sixty was old ! How very dare she! 
I must say she made me feel old when she described Rea at sixty, but I'll give her that that might have just been because of Rea's problems. 
I enjoyed this story, couldn't put it down and shed tears,what more can you ask from a book? 

Out now for kindle or paperback.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman with extract.

Meet Jay.
Small-time dealer.
Accidental jihadist.
The one man who can save us all?
Javid – call him Jay – is a dope dealer living in West London. He goes to mosque on Friday, and he’s just bought his pride and joy – a BMW. He lives with his mum, and life seems sweet.
But his world is about to turn upside-down. Because MI5 have been watching him, and they think he’s just the man they need for a delicate mission.
One thing’s for sure: now he’s a long way East of Hounslow, Jay’s life will never be the same again.

I'm delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for East of Hounslow the debut novel by Khurrum Rahman. I was slightly hesitant when I was asked to review this book. It is nothing like my usual read and way out of my comfort zone but I'm so glad I said yes.
At first I didn't know what to think of Jay. He was a small time drug dealer always ducking and diving. 
He used bad language, he was violent, irreverent, loyal,funny, he was lost in a life that if you scraped the surface you would find he didn't want. The funniest part of the book is when he realizes that he has actually been asked to work for MI5, no joking around, they have really asked him. 
Although the subject matter of this book is serious it is peppered with humour throughout. At times I was on the edge of my seat, reluctant to turn the page in case what I feared would happen did happen.
The book takes the reader on a journey of how some young men are  indoctrinated into terrorist organizations, sometimes being part of something is better than being part of nothing.
There are other characters in the story we get to know well like, Jay's best friend Idris who is a police officer and Parvez, Jay's childhood friend and neighbour who is the cause of Jay getting into a whole lot of trouble.
There are a few surprises and twists in the book especially at the end when the author pulled the rug from under me and upset me greatly.
I said at the beginning that I didn't know what to think of Jay but by half way through the book I had grown to love him and when you read it you will understand why. It is a book relevant to the times we live in. 
Even if this is not the usual genre you read I recommend you give this book a chance as I'm sure like me you will say it's a really good read and a great debut novel.
The paperback is large and I thought it would take me ages to read it but the print is big and it was easy to read.
I have just read that the author is writing a follow up book to this story and hopes to make it a trilogy.
That makes me happy as I'm now thinking there is another twist to the story....fingers crossed.

The publishers have very kindly sent me an extract from chapter one of the book. Enjoy! 
Published tomorrow in paperback or kindle here and I'm sure all bookshops.

Part One
An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
– Mahatma Gandhi 
My name is Javid Qasim. I am a Muslima British born Muslim. Do you know how many times I have been pulled over by the police since 9/11? Once. And that was because I was nonchalantly jumping lanes without indicating my intentions to my fellow drivers. I got a ticking off from the Fuzz who were quite happy to forego the paperwork and give me a friendly warning. They didnt even search my careven though the stench of skunk was unmistakeable. To this day I am proud to say that I've never had my fingerprints taken.

Do you know how many times I have been racially abused
since 7/7? Not even once. I get called Paki every daybut not in the – what the fuck did you call me? – way. In my circle its a term of endearment. You seewe know who we are. And what some may see as an insultwe see as a badge of fuckinhonour. The word Pak means pure and the word Pak means clean. And if you didnt know thatthen consider yourself educated.
Im not stupid or naïve. I am aware of exactly what is happening around me but youve got to play the game otherwise you might as well carry a big fat kick me sign on your back. Dont walk around wearing a sodding shalwar and kameez with a great big dopey beard and drive around in a fuckinHonda. Thats when you get pulled over and thats when you get racially abused. But not me. Why? Cos I play the game.
I know the plight of my Brothers and I know the struggle of my Sisters and I feel for themevery fuckinone of them. But what do you want me to do about it? Noman. Its not my war. Call it religion or call it politics or call it greed. It all amounts to the same thing: bloodsheddevastation and broken homes. Why would I want to get my head into something like that? Especially since my life has basically been one sweet ride – not too different 
from my latest acquisitiona black BMW 5 series. Its only two years oldless than thirty on the clock and its comfortable as fuck which is essential in my line of workas I spend a helluva lot of time in my car. Its my mobile office. I picked it up for a cool twenty G. I paid over the odds but fuck itI could afford it as business was ticking.
I was sitting in my ride at the back of Homebase car park in IsleworthWest Londonwaiting on a customer. He was late which would normally piss me off but I was otherwise distracted by all the shiny buttons and gadgets on my new whip. The speakers sounded sik and my nigga Pac never sounded so good as he rapped about dying young. I clocked my patron approaching and I couldnt help but frown. This was exactly what I was talking about. Hes wearing a plain white suit shirt tucked into his tracksuit bottomsfinished off with a pair of Bata flip flopslooking like he just stepped off the fucking boat. I know for a fact that hes forever being targeted because he looks like a fucking freshy. No-one likes a freshy. He looked around the car park and I realised I hadnt told him that Id replaced my Nova. I flashed my lights at him and his smile widenedat the sight of my Beemer. He approached and walked around it whistling appreciativelytaking special notice of my customised rims. I slid my window down and told him to get the fuck in. He did and he slammed the doorhard. I bit my tongue.
Youre late‚’ I said.
SorryBrotherI just came straight from the Masjid. Didnt
see you there. Then I remembered its only Thursday. You only ever come for Friday PrayersJavid‚’ he saidlaughing at the unfunny observation.
We shook hands and the deal was done. He left with a fistful of Hounslows premium and I with a fistful of dollars. He slammed my door and toddled off in his ridiculous outfit. I hate that fuckinsanctimonious prick. In the space of a minute he vexed . We shook hands and the deal was done. He left with a fistful of Hounslows premium and I with a fistful of dollars. He slammed my door and toddled off in his ridiculous outfit. I hate that fuckinsanctimonious prick. In the space of a minute he vexed me twice. Firstlyhe took a swipe at me because I dont go the Masjid day in day out. It doesnt make me any less of a Muslim than he is. So what if he decides to grow a beard and I decide to grow marijuana? Im still a Muslim. I couldnt care less if you sit in Aladdins eating your Halal Inferno Burger whilst I sit in Burger King eating a Whopper. I am still a Muslim. Ill drink when I wantIll curse and Ill fuck and Ill gamble and Ill get high. So what!? Read my lips. I. Am. Still. A. Muslim. I believe in Allah and only He can judge me. Not you. Or anyone else who walks this land.
Secondlyhe called me Javid. No-onebut no-onecalls me Javidnot even my Mum. No self-respecting drug dealer is called Javid. No playa is called Javid. Girls dont wanna be giving out their phone number to a guy called Javid.
Seriously. Call me Jay.