Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The Escape by C.L.Taylor

Look after your daughter's things. And your daughter…"
When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn't.
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.
No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there's only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

As always C.L. Taylor has written a book that you can't put down. I was clenching my teeth and gripping the seat as at every turn Jo seemed to be in more and more trouble. Who could she trust? Even I didn't know who to believe. I read this book in two sittings it was so good. I'm not going to say Amy more about the story and plot because that would only spoil it for you. 
If You haven't read any books by this author then you're in for a treat and I think this may be her best one to date.


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Cover Reveal!

Great news! This is a cover reveal for Tracy Buchanan's new book, Her Last Breath. What a great cover ,looks like we have a good read coming to us in June. I hope to be reviewing it soon.

When fifteen-year-old Poppy O’Farrell goes missing a media frenzy ensues. None of this has anything to do with lifestyle blogger Estelle Forster – so why would someone send her a picture of the missing girl and a note, claiming to know Estelle’s secrets? To find out, Estelle must return to her coastal hometown and the shameful past she thought was long behind her. A dangerous game is being played, and the answers lie in the impenetrable community Estelle once called her own. Perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, C.L. Taylor and Clare Mackintosh, this addictive, twisting, emotionally powerful book will have you hooked until the very last page.


Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Midnight Blue by Simone Van Der Vlugt. Blog tour with Afterword.

I'm so pleased to be today's stop on the blog tour for this book. The publishers have sent me the afterward of the book to post. This gives you bit of historical background to the story and the characters and the history of delft pottery. 

Amsterdam 1654: a dangerous secret threatens to destroy a young widow’s new life.
Following the sudden death of her husband, twenty-five year old Catrin leaves her small village and takes a job as housekeeper to the successful Van Nulandt merchant family. Amsterdam is a city at the peak of its powers: science and art are flourishing in the Golden Age and Dutch ships bring back exotic riches from the Far East.
When a figure from her past threatens her new life, Catrin flees to Delft. There, her painting talent earns her a chance as a pottery painter. Slowly, the workshop begins to develop a new type of pottery to rival the coveted Chinese porcelain – and Delft Blue is born. But when tragedy strikes, Catrin has a hard choice to make.

I thought this book might be a bit hard going to read as it is set in Amsterdam in 1654 and translated into English. I needn't have worried as I found it quite an easy read. I was awful at History I school ,I found it very boring but books like this set around historical events always awaken my interest.
Poor Catrin, married to a brute of a man who beats her for no reason,it is no wonder when he dies she can only feel relief. Catrin has a secret and before anyone finds out she has to leave her home and family. Secrets have a way of catching up on you and Catrin flees further than she intends to and ends up in Amsterdam. Everything is settled for a while but once again Catrin has to move and this time to Delft. This is where Catrin finds her niche in life, painting China and we hear the story of how Delft Blue porcelain began. 
I loved the descriptions of old Amsterdam and Delft. The excitement of traveling through the waterways on any kind of craft which was usually carrying goods for trading. The horror of the plague as it spread through the towns and villages and the fear held by everyone.
Catrin experienced hardship along the way but her meeting of each of three brothers and their friends helped her to live,love and find peace with her past.
This was a good read and there was never a dull moment throught the story. I don't think you have to love historical books to enjoy this,it's not too heavy on the history.


Halfway through the seventeenth century, known to the Dutch as the Golden Age, Delft Blue stormed onto the market and became enormously popular within a very short time. Anyone who wanted to show he had both money and good taste bought some. The supply of original Chinese porcelain had been well-established in the period of 1620–47, thanks to the voyages of discovery and the VOC expeditions that followed, until a civil war in China put an end to it. From then on, a number of Dutch cities, including Delft, Haarlem and Amsterdam, tried making the beloved pottery themselves. They called it Dutch Porcelain; the name Delft Blue didn’t come until much later.

Between 1654 and 1690, the number of potteries in Delft exploded; by around 1700 there were almost forty. The craze for decorative ceramics reached its peak between 1680 and 1730. Delft Blue found an important ambassador in Princess Mary II, the English wife of the Dutch Stadtholder Prince Willem II (William III of England). Her fascination with Delftware and enthusiasm for collecting it led to more orders from the nobility and royalty.

At the end of the eighteenth century, the earthenware industry collapsed due to competition from English porcelain. There was a revival in the mid-nineteenth century, but after the Second World War much of the once so beloved tableware was put away in the attic for good. Delft Blue was deemed fussy, old-fashioned tat. The only place its popularity remained undiminished was abroad, primarily in Japan and America.

The last few years have seen the white-and-blue pottery gradually being rediscovered in the Netherlands. KLM flies in Delft Blue aircraft and the loyalty scheme where you could collect little Delft Blue houses if you flew business class sparked a craze. Today there’s no getting away from this centuries-old export. Everywhere, from the lifestyle section of the exclusive department store Bijenkorf to the shelves of bargain homeware chain Xenos, there is Delft Blue in the form of knick-knacks, oven gloves, duvet cushions, bike panniers and anything else you’d care to name.

The real Delft Blue is still an expensive porcelain that is much loved abroad. At The Porcelain Flask (De Porceleyne Fles) in Delft, the ceramics are still fired and painted by hand. It’s worth the trip to take a look around the factory, along with the many foreign tourists, and see the painters at work.
The Porcelain Flask began on the Oosteinde (East End) but is now located on Rotterdamseweg, a little outside the old town in Delft. During the last century, another three companies were set up: The Delft Peacock  (De Delftse Pauw), The Blue Tulip (De Blauwe Tulp) and The Chandelier (De Candelaer). The four of them brought the name of Delft Blue to the attention of tourists and other enthusiasts.

The characters of Quentin (Quentin) and Angelika (Engeltje) van Cleynhoven are historical figures. In 1655, Quentin and Wouter van Eenhoorn took over a pottery they named The Porcelain Flask. In a trench on the grounds of number 171 Oosteinde, where the business began, a hundred and twenty objects from the early period of the ceramics factory were recently found, including a platter with the inscription ‘Engeltie Kleijnoven, 1673’. This is probably a commemorative plate on the occasion of their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. In the archive records, the name Cleynhoven is spelt with both a C and a K.
The Lotus Flower pottery never really existed. Nor did Catrin or Evert; they are figments of my imagination.


Sunday, 30 April 2017

The Woman Who Met Her Match by Fiona Gibson. Blog Tour and guest postby the author.

What if your first love came back on the scene . . . 30 years later?
After yet another disaster, Lorrie is calling time on online dating. She might be single in her forties, but she’s got a good job, wonderful children and she’s happy. This, Lorrie decides, is going to have to be enough.
That is, until she receives a very unexpected request from France. Antoine Rousseau, who had once turned a lonely French exchange trip into a summer of romance, wants to see her – after thirty years.
But Lorrie is a responsible woman. She can’t exactly run off to Nice with the man who broke her teenage heart . . . can she?

I'm delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for Fiona Gibson's latest book and to host a guest post written by the author herself especially for my readers. 

First my review.

Lorrie is such a lovely character pushed into dating by her children who sign her up to an online dating app. As you might expect she meets some crazy people and despairs of ever finding love again until out of the blue her first love Antoine finds her on Facebook. She's not the young girl she was when they had a holiday romance in France she's thirty years older with two children and a lodger.

Stu, the lodger is her best friend. He has started a business called Parsley Force, where he is on call for people who have forgotten an ingredient for cooking. Parsley Force will find the ingredients that are missing and deliver them to the customer's door. How many times have you wished for such a service? If none exists I think the author has hit upon a great business idea.

There's a lot going on in this book,romance, a demanding mother who's getting married, a job that's not going very well and strange men on a dating site, all handled with Fiona Gibson's trademark humour which shines through from cover to cover.

It's great to reader a book about an older woman coping with everything life throws at her as well as trying to find her own personal happiness. 
I did predict what would happen but that made no difference to the story as the fun was finding out what everyone went through to get to their happy ending.
There is something really comforting in Fiona Gibson's  books,you just know they will cheer you up and leave you with a satisfied smile on your face.
Fiona is now going to tell us what to do if like Lorrie from the book a long lost boyfriend gets in touch.
Read on.......


In The Woman Who Met Her Match, Lorries first love, Antoine - whom she met on a trip to France at age 16 - gets in touch out of the blue, and wants to meet. As its 30 years later, her life is very different… but why not have a drink, for old times’ sake? Never mind that she broke her teenage heart and left her devastated. 

Having a former love resurface like this would be hugely unsettling for most people - but sort of thrilling too, especially if it has that unfinished business’ aspect about it (Im talking about the reappearance of an alluring ex here: not the one with the teetering ashtray beside his bed, who happily wore the same pair of mustard Y-fronts flu days in a row). In fact, as social media makes it so easy to track down exes, its entirely possible that it could happen. So heres my guide to what to do. 

Donfreak out. His intention is probably not to storm back into your life in a any major way. People get in touch after a long hiatus for a variety of reasons - with simple curiosity generally topping the list. 

Do conduct a little research yourself before accepting an ex as a friend. Check him out on other social media platforms. Possible warning signs that you might be better leaving well alone: an over emphasis on him being a lonely single dad looking for love; being pictured with his mother - and no partners/friends, ever - in his holiday photos; a picture of him cradling a massive gun. 

Dont feel bad if you decide not to message back. I know it can be difficult; my generation (Im 52) tends to have that inbuilt politeness that belongs to the days of proper old-fashioned letters and RSVPs. My 17 year-old daughter thinks nothing of blocking a person - whereas, I view it as on a par with standing someone up outside the Odeon in the pouring rain. Block him,’ she commanded when a man - not an ex but a stranger - started posting slightly odd messages on my Instagram recently. But wont that upset him?’ I wittered. Hes probably a perfectly nice person…’ ‘BLOCK HIM!’ she insisted. The man was duly blocked (I still hope hes okay about that). 

Do, however, look at it positively. If your memories of being with your ex are mainly happy ones, then why not meet? That first boyfriend particularly is one you never forget. One friend of mine ended up back with her old college love, 15 years on, in her late thirties - another ten years later, they have two children and are blissfully happy. Another friend in her 40s has just hooked up with her first love - they hadnt seen each other since 1997. We were idiots then,’ she told me. Its so much better now were proper grown ups.’ 

Dont worry about looking older. Of course you do - and so does he. 

Do considering meeting up just for the laugh. If nothing else, youll be able to see for yourself what he looks like without that Adam Ant make-up, and with no hair - and have a top-class night reminiscing. 

Fionas new novel, The Woman Who met Her Match, is out now (Avon) 

Thank you Fiona for the advice. I think if that happened to me I'll take your daughters advice a just block,block,block. 


Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Returning Tide by Liz Fenwick

Two sisters and one betrayal that will carry across generations . . .
In wartime Cornwall, 1943, a story between two sisters begins - the story of Adele and Amelia, and the heart-breaking betrayal that will divide them forever.
 Decades later, as the generations gather for a wedding at the rambling family home on the Cornish cliffs, the effects of one reckless act still echo - but how long will it be until their past returns?

Twins, Adele and Amelia,as alike a two peas in a pod and so close one knows the thoughts of the other.
When both join the wrens in 1943 it's no wonder that although they miss each other they also relish being separate people with their own identity instead of just being "the twins." 
Amelia is a driver in the Wrens  and Adele trains to be a telegraphist,their paths very rarely cross during the war years.
The story is told from 1943 /45 and 2015 and from Cornwall,England  to Cape Cod Massachusetts.
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.
I love reading books set during the war and this has been one of the best I have read. I'm almost annoyed at having finished it as I was enjoying it so much. These young men and women were losing so many of their friends on a daily basis it was hard for them to take a chance and fall in love and then worry if their loved one would survive. The jobs they had to do were so vital to us winning the war so they had to put their worry and heartache to one side and just get on with it.
Although a love story Liz Fenwick didn't hide the true horrors of war especially one incident which Adele has to cope with which was heartbreaking and I later learned from Liz's notes that it came from a true story. Such was the secrecy at the time that she couldn't even discuss it with her co workers or her superiors. Men and women went to their graves never discussing events that they were involved in.
The powerful descriptions of war time London and beautiful scenery of  Cornwall made it easy for me to imagine what life was like for Amelia and Adele. 
The author kept me waiting until the last few pages before I knew what really happened during the war to the sisters. I had guessed what it was but not how it came about,needless to say it was cleverly done. Of course I shed tears, for Amelia,for Adele and others concerned who I have not mentioned as I don't want to spoil such a good read for you. 
This is the first novel I've read by Liz Fenwick. I love her writing style. Lots of research has gone into this book as the historical facts prove. I think she has captured the atmosphere of  wartime and weaved a story around it good enough for the reader to never want it to end.
This book is out in paperback or for kindle. The paperback is large and very thick so a good buy.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

An Independent Woman by Anna Jacobs


Can she find freedom against the odds?
As the Great War ends Serena Fleming is due an inheritance that could free her from a bullying father. But little does she know how far he will go to prevent her leaving home. Or how desperate he is to limit her and keep his secrets hidden. When she turns thirty, Serena must risk everything to escape his iron rule. 
Meanwhile, Marcus Graye’s life has also been changed by the War. His injuries may heal, but his elderly aunt and a crumbling old house are now in his sole care. When he saves Serena from a kidnapping, his life will take an unexpected turn, one that may bring him love but will put his life in danger.
Can they survive a wicked man’s attacks? And can Serena at last fulfil her true potential?

Oh what a story! I could have placed my hands around Ernest Fleming's neck and squeezed hard. 
What a vile horrible man. He had other vile men willing to do his dirty work for him while placing himself as a pillar of the community. Thankfully the book is more about his daughter Serena and her bid to escape from her tyrant of a father who was out to keep her money from her.
Serena had to wait until the age of thirty to legally do what she wanted. I was astonished at that and how far we have come from those bad old days when men ruled over woman. Women are also allowed to vote but only if they are over thirty. I wonder who made up that magical age? 

Marcus is the hero,a lovely man who has been damaged by war. I feared for both him and Serena's lives at times throughout the book as Ernest tried to get the better of them.
I couldn't put this book down. It was one of those books that you want to reach the end but you don't want it to end either.
I think this is the first book I've read by Anna Jacobs but I will be reading more of them in the future.


Monday, 3 April 2017

The Bomb Girls'Secrets by Daisy Styles

In the Phoenix Munitions Factory everyone has their secrets . . . 
As WWII rolls across Europe, Kitty boards a ship set for England; leaving her cruel father for war work in a munitions factory. She hadn't wanted to leave Ireland, but the money sounded too good to resist. And money is what she really needs right now, what with tiny baby Billy back in Dublin without a father.
In Lancashire Kitty settles into the hard work and soon makes new friends; the dazzling Gladys who is a talented musician, and the beautiful but nervous Violet who seems to be nursing a secret of her own. And then there is motherly Edna at the local chippy, always there for a cup of tea and a good natter when she yearns for home.
Working hard in the day and playing in the Bomb Girls Swing Band by night, on the surface, life seems to be looking up. But Kitty has kept a secret from her friends. Something she needs to figure out. And when a letter arrives from home, she realises she might need their help before it's too late and she loses her baby forever . . .

When I knew I would be reviewing this book I bought the first one, The Bomb Girls. Although I enjoyed the book I quickly discovered that The Bomb Girls'Secrets is not a sequel but a stand alone story.
I'm sure I'm right in saying that this story takes place in the same factory but is about a different group of women. I only recognised one name from the other book but there may have been a mention of others that I missed.
What I love about books like this is first of all the friendship that is formed between the women. Women from all walks of life whose paths would never have crossed if it wasn't for the war.
The job in munitions is a dangerous one for all involved. These women were so brave and yet they still have time for fun. I loved the swing band they formed and I could hear the music of the time in my head as I read. 
A few of the girls have secrets they are afraid to share in case they will be judged by the others. 
Each of the women are so well described that I felt I knew them. There were a couple of men I loved to hate and hoped they would get their comeuppance.
Edna is a lovely character who works in the village. She is a kind motherly person who looks out for the women and I would have liked to know more about her story.
There are plenty of moments that had been biting my nails wondering what was going to happen next. 
I feel both The Bomb Girls and The Bomb Girls'Secrets deserve a follow up of their own. I'm wondering what the girls from both books did after the war. I would definitely buy those books.
The author has written another book in the Bomb Girls Series called The Code Girls which is another stand alone story.