Category: Review

Review: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Posted December 8, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 1 Comment

Review: The Four Winds by Kristin HannahThe Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
Published by St. Martin's Publishing Group on March 14, 2023
Genres: Historical, Women's
Pages: 480
Format: eBook
Buy on Amazon

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Goodreads
five-stars

My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.”

Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.

By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.

In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.

The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it—the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity,

Wow, just wow. This is a book that really gets you in the feels.

I have to admit, I don’t know a lot about American History, there’s a few major political events that I’ve looked up but other than that I’m pretty oblivious. I had no clue about the events leading up to the depression in the 1930’s and so I had no pre-conceived ideas as to what this would actually be about.
Holy shit, bleak doesn’t cover it. Kristin Hannah does such an amazing job of painting a picture of what it was like to live through the drought and the dust storms you can actually feel yourself struggling to breathe.

Elsa is such a wonderful, complex character, she’s not your usual leading lady. Her life is a struggle from the very beginning of the book and life doesn’t really let up on her. But she’s so easy to love, you really root for her, you want her to have the love that she deserves and the life that she deserves.

I really don’t think that anything I write in a review will do this book justice. Kristin Hannah is truly one of the best writers on the market at the moment. In The Four Winds she has taken a bleak period of time and made it accessible to the masses, something that you are desperate to read more about, with a character that you are deeply invested in. This book is historical fiction writing at it’s best.

Kristin Hannah pulls all the punches, her descriptions are so vivid you can really imagine what it was like to live with nothing. Reading this book will make you thankful for what you have, no matter how little you currently perceive that to be.

I read this shortly after reading Firefly Lane and the difference between Elsa and Cloud couldn’t be more stark. Elsa shows us just what a mum is willing to do to ensure the safety of her children and to try and get the best life for them. This is a woman who, when pushed, will give up everything that she loves, if it means a better future for her children. I’m not usually one for posting quotes from books but there is the most wonderful quote about motherhood in here

“A warrior believes in an end she can’t see and fights for it. A warrior never gives up. A warrior fights for those weaker than herself. It sounds like motherhood to me.”

5 stars just doesn’t seem to be enough

five-stars
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Book Tour: Dawnlands by Philippa Gregory

Posted November 8, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 1 Comment

Book Tour: Dawnlands by Philippa GregoryDawnlands by Philippa Gregory
Series: Fairmile #3
Published by Simon and Schuster on November 15, 2022
Genres: Historical
Pages: 512
Format: ARC
Source: Random Things Tours
Buy on Amazon

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Goodreads
four-stars

It is 1685, England is on the brink of a renewed civil war against the Stuart kings and many families are bitterly divided.  Ned Ferryman cannot persuade his sister Alinor that he is right to return from America with his Pokanoket servant Rowan to join the rebel army. Instead, Alinor has been coaxed by the manipulative Livia to save the queen from the coming siege. The rewards are life-changing: the family could return to their beloved Tidelands, and Alinor could rule where she was once lower than a servant.

Alinor’s son, Rob, is determined to stay clear of the war, but when he and his nephew set out to free Ned from execution for treason and Rowan from a convict deportation to Barbados, they find themselves enmeshed in the creation of an imposter Prince of Wales – a surrogate baby to the queen.

From the last battle in the desolate Somerset Levels to the hidden caves on the slave island of Barbados, this third volume of an epic story follows a family from one end of the empire to another, to find a new dawn in a world which is opening up before them with greater rewards and dangers than ever before.
 

I received this book for free from Random Things Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

So, I’m a little bit disorganised from the fact that I’mm reviewing this book before I’ve posted my review of the previous 2 books in this series. Mainly because I’ve had this series on my TBR for a while and then I got offered this 3rd book to review I had to get a wiggle on and get the first 2 read beforehand. This is not a series where you can delve in part way through and each book is quite a long read. So, over the half term break I have powered through this full series and have to tell you that I love it!

I was slightly wary when I realised that this series is based primarily on fictitious characters, there are many historical characters playing secondary parts but the main characters are “everyday” people.

What I hadn’t expected Gregory to do so well was the parts of the story set in Barbados but these were some of my favourite aspects of the novel.

This book sees the return of a number of the central characters who have been present in the 2 previous books; those who we love – Alinor, Ned, Alys, Rob and those who we love to hate – the treacherous Livia.

As with the previous 2 books, this one ended on a cliffhanger. This leads me to believe (ok, hope) that there will be further books in this series.

four-stars
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Bookouture Tour: The Silent Dead

Posted November 7, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

Bookouture Tour: The Silent DeadThe Silent Dead by Marnie Riches
Series: Detective Jackie Cooke #2
Published by Bookouture on 1 Nov 22
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 325
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Goodreads
four-half-stars

She was lying as if asleep on the wooden kitchen floor, beneath the fridge covered with a child’s colourful crayon drawings. But her frozen expression showed she would never wake again…

When Detective Jackie Cooke is called out to the scene, she’s expecting a routine check. The bottle of pills on the kitchen table, next to the note with the single word SORRY written in a shaky hand, make it seem obvious what’s happened. But Jackie is shocked when she recognises her old schoolfriend Claire – and she is convinced Claire would never take her own life.

Determined to dig deeper, Jackie soon discovers evidence that proves her right: a roll of notes has been thrust down the victim’s throat. And when she finds another woman killed in the same way, she realises someone may be targeting lonely single mothers. As Jackie talks to Claire’s distraught children, one of them too young to understand his mummy is never coming home, she vows to find answers.

Both victims were in touch with someone calling himself Nice Guy – could he be the killer? Pursuing every clue, Jackie is sure she’s found a match in dead-eyed Tyler, part of a dark world of men intent on silencing women for daring to reject them. But just as she makes the arrest, another single mother is found dead – a woman who never dated at all.

Forced to re-evaluate every lead she has, with her boss pressuring her to make a case against the obvious suspect, Jackie knows she is running out of time before another innocent woman is murdered. And, as a single mother herself, she cannot help but wonder if she is in the killer’s sights. Can she uncover his true motivation and put an end to his deadly game… or will he find her first?

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I read the first book in this series last year and loved it so I was thrilled when the publishers asked me if I would be interested in reading the second book in the series.

This is a great police procedural which hurtles along at a great pace. Without wanting to give any spoilers, this book looks into the murky world of incels, something which seems to have featured in a number of books I’ve read recently and which I find fascinating yet frustrating.

I love the character of Jackie Cooke; she’s determined and commited to her role but as well you see the side of her who doesn’t want to let down her family and who has put them first on plenty of occassions. Although I’m not in the police force I can really understand those competing priorities and it’s very rare that you get an author who really shows it.

I really like the way that just as things are getting very deep and disturbing you get a peek of humour to lighten the load.

These books are available on Kindle Unlimited and most definitely worth taking your time to read. I’m really looking forward to their being more in the series

four-half-stars

About Marnie Riches

Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in north Manchester. Exchanging the spires of nearby Strangeways prison for those of Cambridge University, she gained a Masters in German & Dutch. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist and professional fundraiser.

Her best-selling, award-winning George McKenzie crime thrillers were inspired by her own time spent in The Netherlands. Dubbed the Martina Cole of the North, she has also authored a series about Manchester’s notorious gangland as well as two books in a mini-series featuring quirky northern PI Bev Saunders.

Detective Jackson Cooke is Marnie’s latest heroine to root for, as she hunts down one of the most brutal killers the north west has ever seen at devastating personal cost.

When she isn’t writing gritty, twisty crime thrillers, Marnie also regularly appears on BBC Radio Manchester, commenting on social media trends and discussing the world of crime fiction. She is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Salford University’s Doctoral School and a tutor for the Faber Novel Writing Course.

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Book Tour: How To Destroy Your Husband by Jess Kitching

Posted October 28, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 1 Comment

Book Tour: How To Destroy Your Husband by Jess KitchingHow To Destroy Your Husband by Jess Kitching
Published by Kingsley on 23 October 2022
Pages: 359
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Goodreads
four-half-stars

Cassie Edwards swore she’d never fall in love… then she met Jamie. He changed everything, and Cassie’s never been happier.

But with less than one month to go to her wedding, Cassie discovers Jamie is cheating on her with his colleague. Blinded by rage, Cassie makes it her mission to seek revenge on the pair.

When Cassie looks deeper into her fiancé’s life, she soon realises being faithful isn’t the only thing he’s lying about.

As her hunt for the truth takes her to some of the darkest corners of the internet, Cassie learns just how little she knows about the man she shares her life with. It leaves her wondering one thing – is Jamie someone she should destroy, or someone she should fear instead?

How far would you go to destroy your husband?

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Have you ever been cheated on?

Did you fantasise about how you would show him for a liar and a cheat in front of all his friends and family?

Did you want to plot his downfall?

Could you have seen it through?

When Cassie finds out that her fiance is cheating on her she does what everyone who’s been in her situation dreams of. She doesn’t cancel her wedding. She doesn’t sit sobbing into a vat of icecream washed down with a bucket of wine. No. She plots revenge. And its amazing and scary and wonderful and awful.

When she goes to investigate more about Jamie’s affair with a plan to call him out on their wedding day, Cassie learns that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

This has some amazing twists, some I saw coming, others left me open mouthed.

This will make you question just how well you know the people in your life, how far you’d go to get revenge and ultimately, whether it’s worth it or you’d have just been better cutting all ties and making a run for it.

four-half-stars
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Childrens Book Tour: Benji and the Gunpowder Plot by Kate Cunningham

Posted October 28, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 2 Comments

Childrens Book Tour: Benji and the Gunpowder Plot by Kate CunninghamBenji and The Gunpowder Plot Series: Time Tumblers #1
on 21 Sept 2022
Genres: Childrens
Pages: 186
Format: ARC, Paperback
Source: Random Things Tours
Buy on Amazon
five-stars

Benji hopes that a trip out on Bonfire Night will add excitement to his normally ordinary life.

However, when he accidentally falls down a time hole he has a lot more adventure than he expected. Who are the strange men in the Duck Inn? Who can he trust What is so important about the letter he has been asked to deliver?

Events will take him to the Globe Theatre, down the Thames rapids and into the heart of Parliament.
London in 1605 is darker, dirtier and more dangerous than home, and Benji has no idea how to get back.

Meet Benji Vent in the first adventure of the Time Tumblers series.

Benji is on the biggest adventure of his life, where his decisions will affect the course of history, and he will find out a lot more about the people in his life, including his mysterious father.

I received this book for free from Random Things Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

What a fabulous book!

I have read this with my 7yo and she’s loved getting to learn more about “olden days” especially as we live in Northern Ireland where they don’t celebrate Bonfire Night and don’t learn about Guy Fawkes and the gunpowder plot. I’m English so I knew all about it from school so I was especially pleased that my daughter was getting to learn about this period.

At the beginning of the book there is a list of characters, it shows you which are real and which are fictitious. As well as Guy Fawkes, and King James I as you would expect in here, the book also features William Shakespeare and his brother Edmund, the Globe Theatre and the plague. Because the story was told from the pov of a child (Benji) it likens things to places that my kids were aware of ie the school dinner hall.

I also loved the fact that the author had chosen a specific font for the book because it was easier for dyslexic’s to read. I hadn’t been aware that such a thing existed. When I first opened the book I was thinking “that’s a bit funky, I hope it doesn’t put my daughter off reading” so to learn that there was a reason behind it that I could explain to her was really good. I will also note that she hadn’t even thought it worth mentioning that the font was different, she’d just accepted it.

We can’t wait to see what’s coming next!

five-stars
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Review: Retreat to the Spanish Sun by Jo Thomas

Posted September 19, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

Review: Retreat to the Spanish Sun by Jo ThomasRetreat to the Spanish Sun by Jo Thomas
Published by Random House on June 1, 2022
Genres: Women's
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Goodreads
four-stars

Eliza has a full house! When her three children grew up and moved out, she downsized to a smaller property... but now they're all back. Every room in the house is taken and Eliza finds herself sharing her bed with her eldest daughter and her daughter's pug. Combined with the online course she's trying to finish, plus her job to fit in, there just isn't the peace and quiet that Eliza needs.

So when an ad pops up on her laptop saying 'house-sitters wanted', Eliza can't resist the chance to escape. She ends up moving to a rural finca in southern Spain, looking after the owner's Iberico pigs, learning about secret gastronomic societies... and finding a new zest for life and love along the way.

As a “woman of a certain age” this book appealed to me. The idea that you hit your mid forties and realise that you no longer have an identity outside of mum is all too real. As my children are 4 and 6 (hello geriatric motherhood!) I have a long wait until my kids leave home but I can imagine that it’s tiring going from them leaving and being an empty nester to them all returning and upturning your life (again). I don’t know whether my time of life affected my reading, I so understand where she’s coming from in having put everyone else first for so long that it’s hard to remember who you actually were before the kids come along.

Oh to get the chance to house sit in the sun!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Having been in the rain of the UK for the past 2 years, this is the closest to a sunny holiday I’ve had in some time. I can’t wait until I’m on Spanish shores again. This has really whet my appetite for it!

The opening to the book was a little rushed; we pretty much had “oh the kids are back, they’re driving me crazy, I need some space, hello house sitting in Spain” which is fair enough as the “meat” of the story happens once Eliza is rediscovering herself (see what I did there, meat – pig farming 🤣)

four-stars
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BOOK TOUR: Double or Nothing

Posted September 16, 2022 by louisesr in Review, Tour / 1 Comment

BOOK TOUR: Double or Nothing

BOOK TOUR: Double or NothingDouble or Nothing by Kim Sherwood
Published by HarperCollins on September 1, 2022
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

James Bond is missing. 007 has been captured, perhaps even killed, by a sinister private military company. His whereabouts are unknown. Meet the new generation of spies...

Johanna Harwood, 003. Joseph Dryden, 004. Sid Bashir, 009. Together, they represent the very best and brightest of MI6. Skilled, determined and with a licence to kill, they will do anything to protect their country.

The fate of the world rests in their hands...

Tech billionaire Sir Bertram Paradise claims he can reverse the climate crisis and save the planet. But can he really? The new spies must uncover the truth, because the future of humanity hangs in the balance.

Time is running out. The start of a brand new trilogy following MI6’s agents with a licence to kill, that blows the world of James Bond wide open!

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This is the start of a new trilogy based on the James Bond novels. Unlike the Anthony Horowitz novel which I read earlier this year, this is more of a spin off series, rather than a continuation of the Bond novels. , Bond isn’t actually present in this novel but, he is constantly referenced. He has gone missing and the focus is now on 3 newer MI6 agents Johanna Harwood 003, Joseph Dryden 004 and Sid Bashir 009. I can’t help thinking about the film franchise and how there’s constant speculation about who should play Bond next – should they be a POC, should they be female etc. They’d do well to learn from this and have Bond being Bond and introducing new characters which break from the white male stereotype.

Some of the characters – M, Q, Moneypenny and Felix, who we’ve come to know and love over the years are still around, although, not in exactly the same format as in previous years/books.

The opening of this book got straight into the action, introducing new characters and setting us up for the rest of the novel. There are times when it isn’t as fast paced as I’d have liked but we have twists and turns throughout and the focus on climate change makes this a very modern version of a classic series.

four-stars
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Review: A Faint Cold Fear by Karin Slaughter

Posted September 15, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

A Faint Cold Fear by Karin Slaughter
Published by Random House on September 13, 2022
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 464
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Goodreads
four-stars

Unnerving, unrelenting, unputdownable.

Sara Linton, medical examiner in the small town of Heartsdale, is called out to an apparent suicide on the local college campus. The mutilated body provides little in the way of clues - and the college authorities are keen to avoid a scandal - but for Sara and police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, things don't add up.

Two more suspicious suicides follow, and a young woman is brutally attacked. For Sara, the violence strikes far too close to home. And as Jeffrey pursues the sadistic killer, he discovers that ex-police detective Lena Adams, now a security guard on campus, may be in possession of crucial information. But, bruised and angered by her expulsion from the force, Lena seems to be barely capable of protecting herself, let alone saving the next victim...

You can’t go wrong with a Karin Slaughter book!

As ever, you’re not eased into the storyline slowly, it comes flying at you at 100mph right from page 1. I was sat opened mouthed, texting my reading buddies “why didn’t you warn me!!!”

Lena played a huge role in this book and I loved getting to see how she was (or wasn’t) dealing with the aftermath of her earlier attack.

I felt Sara was relegated to more of a side character in this novel than in previous books, I’d have liked to have seen more of her.

There was a lot of misdirection as to who the perpetrator was, this was a bit heavy handed for my liking. When all signs point to a certain person, you know it can’t be them!

four-stars

About Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 40 million copies sold across the globe, her 22 novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated COP TOWN and the instant NYT bestselling stand-alone novels PRETTY GIRLS, THE GOOD DAUGHTER, PIECES OF HER, and FALSE WITNESS. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project—a nonprofit organization established to support libraries and library programming. A native of Georgia, she lives in Atlanta. Her stand-alone novel PIECES OF HER is now streaming on Netflix, starring Toni Collette, and the Will Trent series are in development for television.

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BOOK TOUR: The Blame Game by Sandie Jones

Posted September 13, 2022 by louisesr in Review, Tour / 1 Comment

BOOK TOUR: The Blame Game by Sandie Jones

BOOK TOUR: The Blame Game by Sandie JonesThe Blame Game by Sandie Jones
Published by macmillan, Macmillan Audio on August 22, 2022
Genres: suspense
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Random Things Tours
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

As a psychologist specializing in domestic abuse, Naomi has found it hard to avoid becoming overly invested in her clients' lives. But after helping Jacob make the decision to leave his wife, Naomi worries that she's taken things too far. Then Jacob goes missing, and her files on him vanish... But as the police start asking questions about Jacob, Naomi's own dark past emerges. And as the truth comes to light, it seems that it's not just her clients who are in danger.

Naomi is a psychiatrist who specialises in working with victims of domestic abuse. Throughout this story we only hear from 2 of her clients. Jacob who is suffering from domestic violence and Anna who is having marriage difficulties following the loss of her son a year earlier. We also have a side story from Naomi’s past which gives us some insight as to why she has chosen this career path.

I wanted to like Naomi but I just couldn’t warm to her, she’s a mess. Her past is interfering with her head and she’s incapable of setting boundaries. I appreciate that dealing with victims of domestic abuse must be really hard, it’s not something I could do. BUT, on the same note, this is a job where you cannot take the work home with you – or the clients for that matter. And the lack of boundaries is what is getting Naomi into trouble.

There are a number of happenings around Naomi’s house (which is also where her office is) that sets her on edge. Did she hear footsteps on the stairs? Did she leave her office door unlocked? Where did she put Jacob’s file?

When Jacob decides he can take no more and leaves his wife it’s not long before the police are involved.

This is one where you want to shout at Naomi to just tell the truth, don’t ommit things, don’t spin them. Things would be a lot easier if she told the truth and got on with things. Yes, things would look bad, she’d look like an idiot (she is an idiot, and an annoying one at that) but it would benefit everyone in the long run.

The phrase “there’s two sides to every story and then there’s the truth” is so apt for this book. It perfectly sums it up.

four-stars

About Sandie Jones

Sandie Jones has worked as a freelance journalist for over twenty years, and has written for publications including the Sunday Times, Woman’s Weekly and the Daily Mail. She lives in London with her husband and three children. The Other Woman is her debut novel.

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Review: Spring Tides at the Starfish Cafe by Jessica Redlands

Posted September 12, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 1 Comment

Review: Spring Tides at the Starfish Cafe by Jessica RedlandsSpring Tides at The Starfish Café by Jessica Redland
Published by Boldwood Books Ltd on April 5, 2022
Genres: Romance, Women's
Pages: 425
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Goodreads
five-stars

Welcome back to the Starfish Café - where you will find stunning views, delicious food and lifelong friendships.

A new season...

As winter turns to spring, Hollie - owner of The Starfish Café - is feeling content as she settles into her new life with her loving boyfriend, Jake, and their adorable dog Pickle.

But when an unwelcome visitor threatens the future of her café, Hollie must stay strong to protect her family's legacy...

A leap of faith...

Emerging from an unhappy relationship, Tori finds herself with nowhere to stay and nobody to talk to. The long-hidden secrets of her past weigh heavily on her until a chance encounter with Finley, struggling to come to terms with his own secrets, provides an opportunity to open up.

Can she find the strength to stop hiding from her past and face up to her family? Especially when that would mean letting her guard down and learning to trust again...

A fresh start...?

Little do Hollie and Tori know that their lives are about to collide at The Starfish Café and they may be able to help each other with a fresh start. After all, with good friends in your life, nothing is impossible...

Jessica Redland does it again! I don’t know how such a prolific writer manages to turn out such quality books, is she the UK’s version of Nora Roberts?

Anyway, as ever I loved this book! I feel that the Starfish Cafe series is that little bit extra special for me as it really resonates with my childhood home town, especially with the inclusion of the RNLI.

Hollie and Jake are such a fantastic couple, I loved getting to know them. Then we have Tori and Finley, from the start you are routing for them. At 20% in I knew what I wanted to happen with them through their relationship and their housing, I wasn’t disappointed!

I love how both Hollie and Tori offer such practical advice and literally spell out what a loving, committed relationship should be like. And that you shouldn’t settle for anything less.

five-stars

About Jessica Redland

I live in Scarborough on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast in the UK. My home inspired the creation of the fictional seaside town of Whitsborough Bay where I set some of my books. The Hedgehog Hollow series takes readers to a gorgeous countryside setting on the Yorkshire Wolds.

I live with my husband, our teenage daughter and sprocker spaniel, Ella. I’m a stationery addict with a notepad obsession who loves chocolate (although it doesn’t love me), hedgehogs, 80s music, collectible teddy bears and lighthouses.

My career has mainly been in HR as a trainer and recruiter. I had a brief detour into retail to set up and manage my own specialist teddy bear shop and started writing my debut novel on quiet days in the shop.

In June 2020, I became a full-time author. I’m so very grateful to anyone who has bought or borrowed my books in whatever format, helping me fulfil a long-held dream of writing full-time. I still can’t believe I get to spend every day chatting to my fictional friends and making stuff up.

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BOOK TOUR: Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow

Posted September 11, 2022 by louisesr in Review, Tour / 1 Comment

BOOK TOUR: Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow

BOOK TOUR: Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog HollowChristmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland
Published by Boldwood Books Ltd on September 6, 2022
Genres: Christmas, Women's
Pages: 409
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
five-stars

It's the countdown to Christmas at Hedgehog Hollow Wildlife Rescue Centre, and everyone is gearing up for a festive season to remember...

It should be the most wonderful time of the year for Samantha and Josh as they prepare for the arrival of their first baby. But life at Hedgehog Hollow rarely goes to plan and the pair are faced with adversaries, old and new, and unexpected challenges to overcome.

Fizz's job at the heart of the rescue centre is a dream come true but her personal life is more like a nightmare. With her love life a disaster and her past about to dramatically catch up with her, she needs the love and support of her Hedgehog Hollow family more than ever.

As the snow falls over Hedgehog Hollow, will Samantha and Fizz find the Christmas miracle they need to overcome their heartache and find happiness?

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

WARNING: As this is the final book in the series, I may make mention to things that have happened in the previous books.

If it’s a while since you read the previous book in the series then Jessica Redland rather helpfully gives a full rundown of all the main characters in the front of the book as well as a “previously in Hedgehog Hollow….” summary. While it may be tempting to think that this will tell you all you need to know to jump into this series at book 6 – don’t.

It’s here, and it’s everything that I expected it to be!

This is it, the final book in the series, I’ve been looking forward to this coming out but I’m also ready to cry because it’s the last one in my favourite series. I know it won’t be saying goodbye to the characters for ever as I’m sure that Jessica Redland will feature them in some of her other novels around Whitsborough Bay, but I’m really going to miss our spikey little friends.

Given the characters who have featured in the previous books I had a few things in mind that I knew I needed to happen in this final book –

  • I expected Fizz to be the main focus point
  • I needed for her to have a relationship with Phoebe
  • I hoped for more action around Hedgehog Hollow than in the previous book
  • I wanted to see the further development of the relationship between Sam and her mum
  • Maybe relationships developing for Sam’s parents (but not with each other)
  • A baby for Sam and Josh given the ending to book 5

Did I get everything I wanted? I’m not telling you but what I will say is that it was a very satisfactory ending to the series.

I started crying following a hedgehog incident at around the 50% mark and I was still crying at the 75% mark. Holy Moly, this book was a roller coaster. Fizz’s storyline went in a direction that I never expected and my heart broke for her. She is such a gorgeous, loving character and I really wanted her to have her happily ever after and not be so hurt and broken.

I loved the Christmas setting for the book. We start off around October time with the preparations taking place (wreath decorating anyone) and end in the middle of the following year but the majority of the action takes place in the run up to Christmas. We have a Christmas Fair at the Hollow with more amazing decorations and then we have Christmas Day, told from a number of perspectives.

As ever there are a number of trigger warnings in here but the warmth and love and community definitely outshine them.

My best advice for anyone considering this book is to go to Book 1 and start the series from the beginning. They’re all quick, easy reads and they’re free on Kindle Unlimited. Click on the book title below to be taken to the Amazon UK page

Book 1 – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow

Book 2 – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow

Book 3 – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow

Book 4 – A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow

Book 5 – Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow

Book 6 – Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow

I’ve also added a list of all Jessica Redlands books here – her series are one of the few where I would say, READ THEM IN ORDER. With recurring characters who have major life changes in each book, there will be spoilers if you don’t and you won’t get the same level of enjoyment.

five-stars

About Jessica Redland

I live in Scarborough on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast in the UK. My home inspired the creation of the fictional seaside town of Whitsborough Bay where I set some of my books. The Hedgehog Hollow series takes readers to a gorgeous countryside setting on the Yorkshire Wolds.

I live with my husband, our teenage daughter and sprocker spaniel, Ella. I’m a stationery addict with a notepad obsession who loves chocolate (although it doesn’t love me), hedgehogs, 80s music, collectible teddy bears and lighthouses.

My career has mainly been in HR as a trainer and recruiter. I had a brief detour into retail to set up and manage my own specialist teddy bear shop and started writing my debut novel on quiet days in the shop.

In June 2020, I became a full-time author. I’m so very grateful to anyone who has bought or borrowed my books in whatever format, helping me fulfil a long-held dream of writing full-time. I still can’t believe I get to spend every day chatting to my fictional friends and making stuff up.

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Review: A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland

Posted September 9, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 2 Comments

Review: A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica RedlandA Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland
Series: Hedgehog Hollow #4
Published by Boldwood Books Ltd on January 6, 2022
Genres: Romance, Women's
Pages: 440
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

It's time for the wedding we've all been waiting for...

Life at Hedgehog Hollow is never dull, although Samantha hopes that the new year ahead will be a little less chaotic as she prepares to marry the love of her life, Josh. But disaster strikes when she checks the rescue centre's bank account after the festive season and discovers it has been emptied. Who would do such a thing, and why? With the future of Hedgehog Hollow now in jeopardy, planning a wedding has lost its shine.

Phoebe is desperate to escape the shadow of her family, infamously known for their attacks on Samantha's beloved rescue centre. Could the kindness of the Hedgehog Hollow team be the chance she needs for a fresh start, or will her family's secrets continue to drag her back?

I received this book for free from Purchased in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Love, love, love, love, love. Oh how I love this series. Every time I read it I want to give up my life, move to the country and start an animal sanctuary.

This story is told alternately between Samantha – our hedgehog rescuer – and Phoebe, a member of the Grimes family who’ve been making Samantha’s life a misery.

This book tackles some really heavy subjects; child neglect, abuse, drug use/dealing, theft. And yet, I would still class it as feel good fiction. This is every credit to Jessica Redlands writing talents. She has created a cast of characters that I love, and a few others that I love to hate.

I love how we have seen the characters develop over the course of this series and while this can be read as a standalone (the first couple of chapters recaps on what has happened previously) I would recommend going back to the start and reading the first 3 books in the series before settling into this one.

I was so sad to hear that there’s only going to be another 2 books in this series, I understand why this has got to happen, but it doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it!

five-stars

About Jessica Redland

I live in Scarborough on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast in the UK. My home inspired the creation of the fictional seaside town of Whitsborough Bay where I set some of my books. The Hedgehog Hollow series takes readers to a gorgeous countryside setting on the Yorkshire Wolds.

I live with my husband, our teenage daughter and sprocker spaniel, Ella. I’m a stationery addict with a notepad obsession who loves chocolate (although it doesn’t love me), hedgehogs, 80s music, collectible teddy bears and lighthouses.

My career has mainly been in HR as a trainer and recruiter. I had a brief detour into retail to set up and manage my own specialist teddy bear shop and started writing my debut novel on quiet days in the shop.

In June 2020, I became a full-time author. I’m so very grateful to anyone who has bought or borrowed my books in whatever format, helping me fulfil a long-held dream of writing full-time. I still can’t believe I get to spend every day chatting to my fictional friends and making stuff up.

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Book Tour: The Beach Party by Amy Sheppard

Posted September 1, 2022 by louisesr in Review, Tour / 0 Comments

Book Tour: The Beach Party by Amy Sheppard

Book Tour: The Beach Party by Amy SheppardThe Beach Party by Amy Sheppard
Published by Bookouture on 30/08/22
Narrator: Amalia Vitale
Length: 9 hrs 12 mins
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 301
Buy on Amazon

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

We were all at the party. Which of us wanted her dead?

As the smoke from the bonfire spirals into the night sky and the cool drinks slip down our throats, none of us can take our eyes off Lacey. She dances in the dunes, her long golden hair damp from her late-night swim, her smile dazzling, her blue eyes closed.

Everyone who is close to Lacey sits by the smoky fire. Her adoring boyfriend, who holds onto her, perhaps a little too tightly. Her little sister, always in Lacey's shadow, sifting fine soft sand through her fingers, never taking her eyes off Lacey. And me. Sad and full of rage, after an argument forced the man I love to leave the party early.

When the fire burns out, we stumble away from the beach, along the cliff path - faces burned by the wind, hearts full of secrets. But Lacey never makes it home. The next morning, her body is found in the sand dunes, a heart-shaped locket missing from around her neck.

Who would have thought our beach party could end the way it did? Close friends gathered on the last night of a long hot summer - which one of us could have killed the girl everybody loved?

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Having grown up in a small seaside town in NW England I can see the parallels between my home town and Pengully. Small towns can feel claustrophobic when you’re a teenager and as Sheppard described the different residents I could easily match them to people that I knew.

I really liked the idea of using a podcast as the reason for looking into the case again. I’ve seen this done a few times now but I like the idea that people will talk more to others who they know than to the police.

Usually with these types of books I find it quite easy to figure out who was responsible, that didn’t happen here, I was led on a few wild goose chases and only actually figured it out a couple of pages before it was announced. I’m not sure I could have taken the same actions as Katie did at the end though – could you? I’m really interested for people’s feedback on this after reading it!!

My only niggle about this book was there was a lot of obsessing over relationships and sex and a lot of drinking. It was like they couldn’t go a day without opening a bottle of wine. Now, in fairness, at their age I was exactly the same so I think this will appeal more to people in their late teens and early twenties, which in itself is a bonus as I don’t seem to have seen a lot of NA thrillers out there.

If you’ve read A Good Girls Guide to Murder then this is very similar. We have the podcast, the murder of a teenager, the suicide of her boyfriend causing the case to be closed.

About Amy Sheppard

Amy Sheppard is a busy mum of two boys, living in Cornwall. Her obsession with making budget friendly family dinners, led her to writing two cookbooks. Amy creates recipes for her followers and for brands @amysheppardfood
Her debut novel is out in August 2022. A psychological thriller set in Cornwall called ‘The Beach Party’

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Book Review: Triptych by Karin Slaughter

Posted August 29, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 2 Comments

Book Review: Triptych by Karin SlaughterTriptych by Karin Slaughter
Series: Will Trent #1
Published by Random House on August 15th 2006
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 514
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Goodreads
four-half-stars

When Atlanta police detective Michael Ormewood is called out to a murder scene at the notorious Grady Homes, he finds himself faced with one of the most brutal killings of his career: Aleesha Monroe is found in the stairwell in a pool of her own blood, her body horribly mutilated.

As a one-off killing it's shocking, but when it becomes clear that it's just the latest in a series of similar attacks, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is called in, and Michael is forced into working with Special Agent Will Trent of the Criminal Apprehension Team - a man he instinctively dislikes.

Twenty-four hours later, the violence Michael sees around him every day explodes in his own back yard. And it seems the mystery behind Monroe's death is inextricably entangled with a past that refuses to stay buried ...

This is the first book in the Will Trent series, I’ve just finished Slaughter’s Grant County series (I recommend you read those books first as this follows on from them) so I was excited to meet a new cast of characters. I went in to this with a vague idea of what I expected, obviously I knew we had a male lead, the entire series is named after him so I went in expecting a bit of a Jack Reacher type character – the all action hero. That is most definitely not what I got!

Will Trent is damaged, not through being ex military or anything like that but from his childhood neglect and being severely dyslexic. I found it really interesting to see the number of little things he does to help him through the day and to be able to do his job. What I also liked was that he’s not like Robert Hunter in the Chris Carter books where he’s just got a brilliant mind. Trent is someone who knows he has limitations and works bloody hard to ensure that they’re not actually limiting. He gets his answers through sheer determination.

While reading this there were a number of assumptions that I made, now granted, Slaughter deliberately led me towards these assumptions and then BAM she ripped them to shreds and I had a Holy Moly moment when I realised what had actually happened – and my stomach churned. I started this book almost feeling sorry for certain characters, believing that they had been badly treated and misunderstood. Then as the book progressed and you learnt more about them, those feelings disappeared. They weren’t misunderstood, they were trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes and they deserved all they got.

I’m intrigued to see where this series goes. Here we were introduced to Will and also to Angie, who works in Vice and grew up with Will. They’ve been supportive to each other throughout their lives and have previously had a relationship. I get a feeling we’ll have a will-they-won’t-they, they-do-then-regret-it type of relationship throughout the series.

Although dark and twisted, I didn’t think this was as dark as some other of Slaughter’s books and most definitely wasn’t on the scale of the Chris Carter that I reviewed last week! However, it’s not for the faint of heart.

four-half-stars

About Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 40 million copies sold across the globe, her 22 novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated COP TOWN and the instant NYT bestselling stand-alone novels PRETTY GIRLS, THE GOOD DAUGHTER, PIECES OF HER, and FALSE WITNESS. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project—a nonprofit organization established to support libraries and library programming. A native of Georgia, she lives in Atlanta. Her stand-alone novel PIECES OF HER is now streaming on Netflix, starring Toni Collette, and the Will Trent series are in development for television.

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Book Review: The Night Stalker by Chris Carter

Posted August 26, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 3 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Book Review: The Night Stalker by Chris CarterThe Night Stalker by Chris Carter
Series: Robert Hunter #3
Published by Simon and Schuster on August 18, 2011
Narrator: Thomas Judd
Length: 10 hours and 37 minutes
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 464
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Buy on Amazon

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

four-half-stars

When an unidentified female body is discovered laid out on a slab in an abandoned butcher's shop, the cause of death is unclear. Her body bares no marks; except for the fact that her lips have been carefully stitched shut.

It is only when the full autopsy gets underway at the Los Angeles County morgue that the pathologist will reveal the true horror of the situation - a discovery so devastating that Detective Robert Hunter of the Los Angeles Homicide Special Section has to be pulled off a different case to take over the investigation

But when his inquiry collides with a missing persons' case being investigated by the razor-sharp Whitney Meyers, Hunter suspects the killer might be keeping several women hostage. Soon Robert finds himself on the hunt for a murderer with a warped obsession, a stalker for whom love has become hate.

Ah Chris Carter, the only author where I feel the need to put a content warning on when I do a review. This book is seriously violent, right from the beginning. If you are the least bit queasy and offended by violence then you do not want to read this. Now I’ve got this over with, lets review – this book is really good! I did a buddy read with a couple of people from my book group and for much of the book our comments consisted of WTF and 🤢🤮 emoji’s.

Detective Robert Hunter & his partner Detective Carlos Garcia are called in to investigate the murder of a woman who has been found in a butchers shop. Her mouth has been stitched shut, as has her genitals. Surprisingly, this isn’t actually the worst of it. The repercussions from the mutilated body lead to further deaths.

Soon, the body count escalates. More women are taken and found mutilated, all of them bear a striking resemblance to each other. Why these particular women and why the extreme violence?

I love the two main characters. They have a great relationship although they are both completely different, Hunter tackling the case from a psychological POV and Garcia putting in the grunt work of searching through databases. Hunter’s brain is very organised and clever, he knows so many things from reading books. He has a past that he keeps to himself but which has implications on his current abilities. He has a keen eye for detail and can reach conclusions long before anyone else. At the same time there is no arrogance to him. Garcia is much more human, he is affected by the murders much more than Hunter, having to walk away from some of the murder scenes in order to empty the contents of his stomach.

This book seriously gave me the chills. There were times when it really scared me, in a similar way to the tv series The Fall. We have a murderer who can break into people’s houses and be feet from them, while they have absolutely zero clue he is there. Even writing about it now sends a shiver down my spine.

four-half-stars

About Chris Carter

Biographies can be an absolute drag, so I won’t bore anyone with a long life story.

I was born in Brasilia, Brazil where I spent my childhood and teenage years. After graduating from high school, I moved to the USA where I studied psychology with specialization in criminal behaviour. During my University years I held a variety of odd jobs, ranging from flipping burgers to being part of an all male exotic dancing group.

I worked as a criminal psychologist for several years before moving to Los Angeles, where I swapped the suits and briefcases for ripped jeans, bandanas and an electric guitar. After a spell playing for several well known glam rock bands, I decided to try my luck in London, where I was fortunate enough to have played for a number of famous artists. I toured the world several times as a professional musician.

A few years ago I gave it all up to become a full time writer.

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