Category: Review

Blog Tour – The Choice by Penny Hancock

Posted July 29, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 1 Comment

Blog Tour - The Choice by Penny Hancock

Blog Tour – The Choice by Penny HancockThe Choice by Penny Hancock
Published by Pan Macmillan on July 21, 2022
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Random Things Tours
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

An estranged daughter. A missing grandson. A mother faced with an impossible choice.

Renee Gulliver appears to have it all: a beautiful house overlooking a scenic estuary on England’s East Coast, a successful career as a relationship therapist, three grown-up children, and a beloved grandson, Xavier. But then Xavier vanishes after Renee fails to pick him up from school, and the repercussions are manifold.

Renee is wracked with remorse; the local community question her priorities, clients abandon her; and, as long-held grievances surface, her daughter Mia offers her a heartbreaking ultimatum. Amid recriminations, misunderstandings and lies, can Renee find a way to reunite her family?

Wow, there’s no hanging around with this one. That opening chapter. Wow.

Renee seems to have it all, a fantastic career as a therapist, a loving family and a beautiful house. But she’s part of that generation that are trying to do it all, balancing a successful career, caring for her mother and her husband, looking after her grandson. It’s a balancing act and when Renee forgets to pick up Xavier from school one day, everything comes tumbling down.

‘Xavier isn’t here.’

‘What do you mean he isn’t there? Where is he? You were picking him up from school today.’

‘But it’s Monday.’

It is Monday, not one of my usual Xavier days. But Mia’s away, Mia’s in Amsterdam, on a course. I took Xav to school this morning and was supposed to pick him up this afternoon. The kitchen turns vivid, as if until this moment, I’ve been viewing it through soft focus.

Things aren’t always what they seem.

The truth will always come out.

I know it sounds cliched but these two sentences really are at the heart of this book. This is a beautifully written, character driven story of how secrets and misunderstandings can tear a family apart.

Alongside the story of what has happened to Xavier we also look back at what has happened in the past which has led the family to be where they are now.

Brilliantly constructed, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

four-stars

About Penny Hancock

Penny Hancock is the author of internationally bestselling novels including Tideline a Richard & Judy book club pick, The Darkening Hour and A Trick of the Mind and I Thought I Knew You. She writes articles and short stories on family psychology for the national press. Penny divides her time between a village outside Cambridge and her children and grandchildren in London. The Choice is her fifth novel.

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Book Tour: All I Said Was True

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

Book Tour: All I Said Was TrueAll I Said Was True by Imran Mahmood
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing on July 1, 2022
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Random Things Tours
Buy on Amazon
four-half-stars

I didn't kill her. Trust me...
When Amy Blahn died on a London rooftop, Layla Mahoney was there. Layla was holding her. But all she can say when she's arrested is that 'It was Michael. Find Michael and you'll find out everything you need to know.'

The problem is, the police can't find him – they aren't even sure he exists.

Layla knows she only has forty-eight hours to convince the police that bringing in the man she knows only as 'Michael' will clear her name and reveal a dangerous game affecting not just Amy and Layla, but her husband Russell and countless others.

But as the detectives begin to uncover the whole truth about what happened to Amy, Layla will soon have to decide: how much of that truth can she really risk being exposed?

Why did no-one tell me about Imran Mahmood before? Seriously, how have I never heard of him! Not only does he write outstanding books (I’m assuming from how great this book is that his others are belters) but one of his books is a tv show that I have also somehow missed (I’ve just added it – You Don’t Know Me – to my Netflix list).

OK, if you like thrillers, unreliable narrators and dual timelines then YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!!!!!

I didn’t know which way to turn, what to believe from Layla and I had no clue what actually happened.

Amy has died, Layla is found with the body. Layla is holding something back. She’s telling the truth – or at least some of it. Why is she holding things back? Why doesn’t she just tell them what happened? Who is Michael? Does Michael actually exist or is Layla making him up?

SO MANY QUESTIONS!!

This is an ideal book to read with a friend then you can throw about theories and ask each others opinion. Be prepared for your head to be spinning, maybe grab a notepad and pen 😂

You do have to suspend belief at some points, but it’s a work of fiction – you have to suspend belief on a regular basis watching the soaps!

four-half-stars
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Tour: Listen to Me by Tess Gerritsen

Posted July 22, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 2 Comments

Tour: Listen to Me by Tess GerritsenListen To Me by Tess Gerritsen
Series: Rizzoli and Isles #13
Published by Random House on July 7, 2022
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop
Goodreads
four-stars

This time she should have trusted her mother's intuition...

The murder of Sofia Suarez is both gruesome and seemingly senseless. Why would anyone target a respected nurse who was well-liked by her friends and her neighbours? As Detective Jane Rizzoli and Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles investigate the baffling case, they discover that Sofia was guarding a dangerous secret -- a secret that may have led the killer straight to her door.

Meanwhile, Jane's watchful mother Angela Rizzoli is conducting an investigation of her own. She may be a grandmother, not a police detective, but she's savvy enough to know there's something very strange, perhaps even dangerous, about the new neighbours across the street. The problem is, no one believes her, not even her own daughter.

Immersed in the hunt for Sofia's killer, Jane and Maura are too busy to pay attention to Angela's fears. With no one listening to her, and danger mounting in her neighbourhood, Angela just may be forced to take action on her own...

I have a confession to make…

I’ve not read anything by Tess Gerritsen before and I got confused when I chose this as I thought I’d seen the tv series – but I hadn’t (I was thinking of Scott and Bailey 🤣). I was very confused – it happens far more than it should. Anyway, now we’ve established that I’m an idiot who doesn’t know one detective series from another let’s get to the review!

As you’ve probably seen from my previous reviews I’m a big fan of gritty police fiction. I love Karin Slaughter, Chris Carter and Karen Rose. Therefore this seemed like a logical series for me to try.

Obviously having not read the others I can’t compare this to them but to me it didn’t seem like it was Rizolli and Isles, there wasn’t an awful lot of medical examiner Maura Isles in this, the plot focused more on Rizolli and her mum, Angela. Angela was such a mum; comedy gold and interfering, blowing up Jane’s phone with her thoughts, you could imagine her as head of the Neighborhood Watch! I did really enjoy having her in the novel – even if it was at Maura’s expense.

You all should know by now that I love multi-POV and dual timelines, this has them both with chapters being told from the POV of Jane, Maura, Angela or Amy (a girl who was involved in a hit and run a few months previous). I loved getting to see how all of the various threads came together.

This book was enjoyable enough that I’ll be working through the backlist – and hoping for a bit more from Maura in them as I do like a medical examiner’s prespective.

I’ll hopefully get my buddy reader to start this series from the beginning with me (with my memory once we’ve made it to this one I’ll have zero recollections of what happened).

four-stars
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Tour – The Eye of The Beholder

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

Tour - The Eye of The Beholder

Tour – The Eye of The BeholderThe Eye of the Beholder by Margie Orford
Published by Canongate Books Limited on July 7, 2022
Pages: 304
Source: Random Things Tours
Goodreads
four-stars

When danger lies in the eye of the beholder, what happens when you reject its pull?

Cora carries secrets her daughter can't know. Freya is frightened by what her mother leaves unsaid. Angel will only bury the past if it means putting her abusers into the ground. One act of violence sets three women on a collision course, each desperate to find the truth, when the people they love are not what they seem.

Today is my stop on the tour for The Eye of The Beholder by Margie Orford. Many thanks to Anne and Random Things Tours for including me on this tour and for introducing me to this fantastic author.

Wow. This book was so different to what I expected. The synopsis gives away very little and it’s quite hard for me to review while also not sharing any spoilers but I’ll do my best.

Set between Scotland, Canada and South Africa this is a dark and atmospheric thriller detailing the lives of 3 women Cora, her daughter Freya and Angel. Going from the present time to flashbacks of the past detailing how they’ve ended up in their current situations and Freya’s discovery of photographs and cine-film giving her insight into her mothers past.

Angel and Cora are both trying to escape their pasts and the relationships that they’re refusing to let define them. These are strong women, they are survivors. I know that they’ve endured a lot but I wasn’t drawn to these characters, they weren’t people I’d like to get to know better. However, that is my only real criticism of the novel.

When Yves, an art dealer disappears, you’re questioning what has happened and who was responsible. There was no one I didn’t point the finger at while reading.

This is an emotional, dark novel, with a lot of trigger warnings that I hadn’t expected. It is beautifully written, especially when you consider the subject matter at the heart of it and it will stay with you a long time after finishing it.

four-stars

About Margie Orford

Margie Orford is an award-winning journalist who has been dubbed the Queen of South African Crime Fiction. Her Clare Hart crime novels have been translated into ten languages and are being developed into a television series. She was born in London and spent her formative years in Namibia and South Africa. A Fulbright Scholar, she was educated in South Africa and the United States, has a doctorate in creative writing from the University of East Anglia and is an honorary fellow of St Hugh’s College, Oxford. She is President Emerita of PEN South Africa and was the patron of Rape Crisis Cape Town. She now lives in London.

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The Daughter Book Review

Posted July 12, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 2 Comments

The Daughter Book ReviewDaughter by Jane Shemilt
Published by HarperCollins UK on 3 March 2015
Genres: Thriller
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop

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
three-half-stars

A mother driven to the brink by uncertainty . . .
A family that was never quite as perfect as it seemed.

Jenny is a successful family doctor, the mother of three great teenagers, married to her loving husband, Ted, a celebrated neurosurgeon.

But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn’t come home after her school play, the seemingly ideal life Jenny has built begins to crumble. The authorities launch a nationwide investigation with no success. Naomi has vanished, and her family is broken.

As the months pass, the worst-case scenarios—kidnapping, murder—seem less plausible. The trail has gone cold and the police have more pressing cases to investigate. Yet for a desperate Jenny, the search has barely begun. More than a year after her daughter’s disappearance, she’s still digging for answers—and what she finds disturbs her. Everyone she’s trusted, everyone she thought she knew, has been keeping secrets, especially Naomi. Piecing together the traces her daughter left behind, Jenny discovers a very different Naomi from girl she thought she’d raised.

Jenny knows she’ll never be able to find Naomi unless she uncovers the whole truth about her daughter—a twisting, painful journey into the past that will lead to an almost unthinkable revelation .

I’ve got to say I rather liked this book but it didn’t thrill me the way that I expected it to. It’s one of those books that keeps going at a steady pace giving you plenty of detail about the everyday comings and goings in life without there being anything that was terrifically shocking.

“When you are young you have no idea what you will need as time passes or how strong you might have to be.”

There are two main themes in The Daughter; the deceptiveness of teenagers and the blame game on working mothers. Both are things which people bury their heads in the sand about and pretend don’t exist. Both are things that are happening every day in a variety of families throughout the UK (and the rest of the world). I’ve seen a lot of reviewers mark this book down because they don’t believe that teenagers would lie to their parents like that. They’re wrong. I see a lot of parents who think that their children aren’t keeping things from them when the children are having intimate relations and taking drugs. I’ve also seen a lot of people complain about the way that Jenny is treated in this book because she feels guilty for the hours she works as a GP and is also made to feel guilty by her husband and son while they accept the fact that her husband had to work long hours as a surgeon. I wish we lived in a world where this didn’t happen. I wish we lived in a world where women weren’t made to feel guilty for going to work when they have young children. I wish we lived in a world where a man would be asked how he juggles a demanding career and family life. But we don’t.

“The trick was simply to balance it all. Family. Marriage. Career. Painting. If the balance tipped in one direction and work took up more time, no one complained. It sometimes felt as if I was rehearsing for real life, so if it went wrong it didn’t matter. One day I would have it all organized. I would be the perfect mother, wife, doctor, artist. It was just a question of practice. If I made mistakes, I could simply try again.”

Shemilt has done a very good job or portraying family life, the backdrop to this is the disappearance of a family member. She’s done a no hold barred accurate reflection of what happens in a hell of a lot of homes. I’m not saying it should. But it does. For me though, the book falls short in not being pacey enough. It focuses too much on how a mothers grief can weigh her down and because of that a lot of the story feels like swimming through treacle. I still very much enjoyed it but it could have had a far bigger impact.

three-half-stars

About Jane Shemilt

While working as a GP, Jane Shemilt completed a postgraduate diploma in Creative Writing at Bristol University and went on to study for the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa, gaining both with distinction. Her first novel, Daughter, was selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club, shortlisted for the Edgar Award and the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, and went on to become the bestselling debut novel of 2014. Since then Jane has published three more bestselling thrillers: Little Friends, The Drowning Lesson, and How Far We Fall. The Patient is her first novel with HarperCollins, and will be out in April 2022.

She and her husband, a professor of neurosurgery, have five children and live in Bristol.

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Tour – The Way Back To You

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

Tour – The Way Back To YouThe Way Back To You by James Bailey
Published by Penguin UK on May 23, 2022
Genres: Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-half-stars

When Simon reconnects with his first love Sylvie - the French pen pal he never met - he is determined to not let her go again.

Life may not be as straight-forward at sixty as it was at sixteen, but that won't stop him.

Together with old school friend Ian, he sets off on the same bike ride - from Bristol to Bordeaux - that they attempted all those years ago.

But while they now have better bikes, more acceptable haircuts, and Google Maps, some things never change.

And it soon becomes clear that this trip will have even more bumps in the road than the first . . .

Ah, the nostalgia is strong with this one!

A love story with 2 big differences, the main characters are in their 60’s AND it’s told from the male POV.

This book has made my holiday, I’ve been led on a sun lounger in Majorca absolutely loving this. I’ve recommended it to the other mums around the pool and it’s currently being passed around. This paperback is being shared until it falls apart (which given it’s currently 32 degrees, won’t be long)

I live a second chance romance and I loved the humour in this book. Life in middle age isn’t all parties and how you look, it’s a he’s and pains and having a connection. This is the perfect romance book for me.

This book gave me all the feels, not just the romance but the friendship and the humour. I have laughed, I’ve cried. I can’t recommend it enough!!

If you don’t know what OHP stands for or who Kevin Keenan is … ask your mum (and buy her this book)

four-half-stars
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Tour: The Dark Remains by Ian Rankin, William McIlvanney

Posted July 7, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 1 Comment

Tour: The Dark Remains by Ian Rankin, William McIlvanneyThe Dark Remains by Ian Rankin, William McIlvanney
Published by Canongate Books on September 2, 2021
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

In this scorching crime hook-up, number one bestseller Ian Rankin and Scottish crime-writing legend William McIlvanney join forces for the first ever case of DI Laidlaw, Glasgow’s original gritty detective 'Fantastic' Lee Child 'Absolutely brilliant' Mick Herron If the truth's in the shadows, get out of the light . . . Lawyer Bobby Carter did a lot of work for the wrong type of people. Now he’s dead and it was no accident. He’s left behind his share of enemies, but who dealt the fatal blow? DC Jack Laidlaw’s reputation precedes him. He’s not a team player, but he’s got a sixth sense for what’s happening on the streets. As two Glasgow gangs go to war, Laidlaw needs to find out who got Carter before the whole city explodes.

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.

Sometimes you read a book by an author and it makes you feel like a bad book blogger that you’ve never read anything of theirs before. This was me with this book. Unbelievably, I’ve never before read either of these authors. William Mcelveney is the Godfather of Scottish Noir, his Laidlaw trilogy paved the way for the police procedural that we read today. When he dies in 2015 an unfinished manuscript was discovered which was a prequel to the trilogy. Ian Rankin, the author of the Rebus novels, was the obvious choice to pick this up and finish it off.

Rankin has not attempted to modernise this novel but has kept it set in 1972, complete with misogyny, sectarianism, gangs and violence.

Laidlaw is an unconventional police detective who also has the stereotypical traits we’ve come to expect. He drinks too much, smokes too much, neglects his family and travels by bus! I never warned to Laidlaw the way I have to Rebus which makes me wonder whether this is due to the character or whether it’s because I’m a huge fan of Ken Stott who plays him in the tv series.

four-stars
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Tour: Chasing Dreams At Hedgehog Hollow

Posted July 7, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 1 Comment

Tour: Chasing Dreams At Hedgehog HollowChasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland
Published by Boldwood Books Ltd on June 28, 2022
Genres: Romance, Women's
Pages: 395
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Samantha has a secret. Returning home from her dream honeymoon to the normality of running her beloved Hedgehog Hollow rescue centre, she's ready for the next chapter of her life with Josh. Or is she? Samantha is hiding something which could forever change the dreams they shared and bring their happy ever after crashing to the ground.

Lauren has given up on love. Twenty-six years ago the love of her life, Shaun, left her a note and was never seen again. Two painful divorces later she still can't face opening up to anyone. But little does Lauren know that the closure she's dreamt of for all these years may be closer than she thinks, and perhaps the only way to let new love in is to forgive and forget.

Samantha and Lauren will need the love and support from the Hedgehog Hollow family more than ever. After all, some dreams are worth chasing...

Top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland welcomes you back to glorious Hedgehog Hollow where love, family and friendship conquer all.

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.

We’re back at Hedgehog Hollow for the penultimate book in the series. I honestly think I may shed a tear when I finish the last one later this year. Poor Jessica Redland couldn’t even go on holiday without me stalking her around the Lake District earlier this year!

I know people who read this blog regularly are used to me sharing the dark worlds of Karin Slaughter and Chris Carter type authors but at the other end of the scale, I absolutely LOVE these books, it’s one of my most favourite series, hence my stalking of Jessica Redland.

The main character in this novel is Lauren (Josh’s Aunt), I won’t lie – when I started this book I really didn’t remember who Lauren was but Redland eases you into the story by repeating the last scene from the previous book but from an alternative POV. It quickly settled back in to life at Hedgehog Hollow.

Lauren is Josh’s aunt, she is currently letting Sam’s father, Jonathan, stay with her. At the end of the previous novel she was having thoughts that their relationship may develop further but she had been seriously hurt in the past and so she was fighting her feelings, and then Jonathan’s actions prevented her from taking anything further. The rest of the novel focuses primarily on Lauren’s story, we flit between Lauren’s life now, her past and life at Hedgehog Hollow with it’s full cast of characters.

In the lead up to the Hedgehog Hollow family fun day we get to see Lauren develop a great friendship with Chloe, they haven’t been present together in previous books and Lauren really wasn’t keen on Chloe due to how she had previously treated Sam. I loved watching this friendship build and the difference that it made to both of the characters.

What has been evident throughout this series and something that I’ve loved from the start is the great sense of community. Having friends and family gather round and lend their support when one of the characters is having a rough time.

As ever this book does include some difficult subjects and some characters developed in ways that were unexpected (these could be TW for some) but they’re sensitively handled.

All of the books in this series are available on Kindle Unlimited.

four-half-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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Bright Burning Things Book Review

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

Bright Burning Things Book ReviewBright Burning Things by Lisa Harding
Published by Bloomsbury on 7 December 2021
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop

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
three-half-stars

Being Tommy's mother is too much for Sonya.

Too much love, too much fear, too much longing for the cool wine she gulps from the bottle each night. Because Sonya is burning the fish fingers, and driving too fast, and swimming too far from the shore, and Tommy's life is in her hands.

Once there was the thrill of a London stage, a glowing acting career, fast cars, handsome men. But now there are blackouts and bare cupboards, and her estranged father showing up uninvited. There is Mrs O'Malley spying from across the road. There is the risk of losing Tommy - forever.

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.

Being the mother of a 3 year old and a 5 year old the premise for this book really interested me.

“Too much love, too much fear, too much longing for the cool wine she gulps from the bottle each night. Because Sonya is burning the fish fingers, and driving too fast, and swimming too far from the shore, and Tommy’s life is in her hands.”

Loving your child too much, living in fear are totally normal feelings for most mothers, as is needing a glass of wine at the end of the day to cope with the stresses that you’ve faced. But with Sonya, everything is done to the extreme. Loving your child to the point you almost suffocate him. needing that glass of wine so much that it’s gone in one mouthful (followed by 2 further bottles). Sonya’s life is spiralling out of control and she’s taking Tommy down with her causing her neighbour and her father to intervene.

The entire book is told through Sonya’s eyes, we get to experience just what she is seeing and feeling and it is terrifying. For me the thought of potentially losing my child or doing something that would put them in danger would be enough to stop me from progressing down a dangerous path, but when we meet Sonya she is too far gone and the consequences are inevitable.

There are parallels in here with Hansel and Gretel with Sonya likening their neighbour to the witch, but really it was her father and step-mother who reminded me most of their fairy tale counterparts; although Tommy is let down by Sonya I think she is let down the most by her father who seems to have (perhaps not always intentionally) caused her heartbreak throughout her life.

This is a book that plays on your emotions, to see the heartbreak caused by the separation of Sonya and Tommy is very impactful and the journey back to the family dynamic is a tough read

three-half-stars
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Tour – Retreat To The Spanish Sun

Posted June 23, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 1 Comment

Tour – Retreat To The Spanish SunRetreat to the Spanish Sun by Jo Thomas
Published by Random House on June 1, 2022
Genres: Romance
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Random Things Tours

'Warm and life-enhancing, I wanted to move to Spain with these wonderful characters' Katie Fforde

'A fabulous read celebrating the good things in life - fun, friends, family and food' Jill Mansell

From the bestselling author of Escape to the French Farmhouse comes a deliciously feel-good new story...

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.

Readers have fallen in love with Retreat to the Spanish Sun
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 'Perfect for a summer holiday read'
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐'You'll be craving tapas, Flamenco and the southern Spanish sun after reading this 5-star book'
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 'A lovely read from Jo Thomas, her books never fail to make me happy'
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐'A lovely, warm and sunny read'
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 'Fabulous location, delicious descriptions of food & drink & wonderful characters, an all round feel-good book'

If you love Jo's books, her next Christmas novel, Keeping a Christmas Promise, is available to pre-order now

Today is my turn on the Tour for the fabulous Retreat to the Spanish Sun by Jo Thomas.

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 🤣 – it’ll mean more once you’ve read the book).

Anyway, as a bit of a foodie I loved learning about Iberico ham and pig farming. I loved the escape to the sun, the friendships, the romance. It really wasn’t the quiet break that Elixa had been hoping for – but then that wouldn’t have made such a good novel.

This was my first Jo Thomas book and I’m not sure why as I love this genre of “feel good fiction” the sort that has so much going on, not always positive, but that written in such a way as to have a constant smile on your face while reading.

I highly recommend reading this, especially if we get a little bit of sun, while armed with an antipasti platter and a nice glass of something alcoholic!

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Blog Tour: The House Sitter Book Review

Posted June 15, 2022 by louisesr in Review, Tour / 2 Comments

Blog Tour: The House Sitter Book ReviewThe House Sitter Published by Bookouture on 14 June 2022
Narrator: Kristin James
Length: 9hrs 9 mins
Genres: Thriller
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-stars

‘You’re just the girl I’ve been looking for,’ Iris told me, her blue eyes sparkling, when she offered me the job as her live-in helper. Little did she know, I thought the exact same about her. And she was wrong to trust me...

As I clean Iris’s large, old house in Pacific Heights, my boyfriend Seth works outside, tending to the lawn and fixing the broken gate. I can’t help but notice Iris’s steely eyes watching our every move. Does she know why we’re really here?

Most days we live in perfect harmony, but today Iris is confused. She thinks we moved in uninvited. I pass her a tablet from the medicine cabinet, knowing she’ll soon calm down and remember how lucky she is to have found us.

Later that night, the police arrive to find Iris’s perfect house turned upside down, the telephone lying on the floor, its cord severed. They walk through each room, calling out, but the house remains totally silent.

You will think you know what happened that night, but when the police discover something unexpected hidden amongst the wreckage in Iris’s bedroom, you’ll find you don’t know a thing.

Today I’m on the blog tour for The House Sitter by Ellery Kane, thank you so much to Bookouture for inviting me to take part in this.

This is actually quite difficult to review without giving anything away. There’s a lot going on, with twists upon twists but so much of it would have the potential to spoil the story for you. I was actually writing notes as I was reading with my thoughts and suspicions, and I can’t share them with you, which is really frustrating!

The book opens with a 911 call, the caller is reporting an intruder, there’s screaming, a gun shot, silence. The rest of the book is told in dual timeline, before and after. Before starts with Iris meeting Seth and Lydia, inviting them to come and work for her. After, Iris is missing, assumed dead and Seth and Lydia are living in her house. In the before we follow Iris’s developing relationship with both Seth and Lydia before her disappearance. In the after we learn more about what has happened to Iris, Lydia and Seth before they met each other. We also get to follow the police investigation as Maureen takes on her first case under the watchful (and disapproving) eye of Walt.

There’s a definite male/female split in this book, I loved all of the female characters and all of the male characters were *choose your preferred derogatory term*.

I really wished that I was reading this with a buddy. I had so many thoughts and suspicions as I was reading. I would highly recommend reading this with someone else, take nothing at face value and pay close attention to the language used, it’s very clever.

I listened to the audio of this, at the start I got very frustrated by some of the voices used by the actress but by the end I had completely changed my mind on it. They were perfect.

four-stars
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Tour: The Friendship Pact Book Review

Posted June 14, 2022 by louisesr in Review, Tour / 0 Comments

Tour: The Friendship Pact Book ReviewThe Friendship Pact by Jill Shalvis
Published by HarperCollins on June 14, 2022
Genres: Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop
Goodreads
four-stars

Alone in the world, Tae Holmes and her mother April pretty much raised each other, but as Tae starts asking questions about the father she’s never met, April, for the first time in her life, goes silent. To make matters worse, Tae is dangerously close to broke and just manages to avoid financial meltdown when she lands a shiny new contract with an adventure company for athletes with disabilities and wounded warriors.

Her first big fundraiser event falls flat, but what starts out as a terrible, horrible, no-good night turns into something else entirely when Tae finds herself face-to-face with Riggs Copeland. She hasn’t seen the former Marine since their brief fling in high school, and while still intensely drawn to him, she likes her past burned and buried, thank you very much. Hence their friendship pact.

But when April oddly refuses to help Tae track down her father, it’s Riggs who unexpectedly comes to her aid. On a hunt to unlock the past, the two of them find themselves on a wild ride and learn a shocking truth, while also reluctantly bonding in a way neither had seen coming. Now Tae must decide whether she’s going to choose love … or walk away from her own happiness.

Happy Publication Day!!

Today I’m on the blog tour for The Friendship Pact by Jill Shalvis, thank you so much to HarperCollins for inviting me to take part!

For the better part of her childhood, all Tae Holmes had wanted was to be an adult, only as it turned out, adulting was overrated.

I do like it when as soon as you open a book you start highlighting passages that you appreciate!

This was my first Jill Shalvis book having only recently started to read romance again after a long break. One of my friends recommended Shalvis to me and she’s definitely an author I’ll be reading more of. I was a little concerned that I hadn’t read the first book in this series but from what I understand, the location is the only link and not the actual characters so I’ve not missed out by starting on Book 2.

Tae has been raised by her mother, April, who is only 15 years her senior. She’s been told that her father died overseas before she was born but within the first few pages we’re given a hint that things might not quite be as Tae has been led to believe. I do like the relationship between Tae and April, often seeming more like best friends rather than mother and daughter. I don’t completely agree with all the decisions that April has made but she’s made them with the best of intentions.

Tae has recently set up her own events company and has acquired a new client, an adventure company for athletes with disabilities. This gave me major Invictus Games vibes. Having only dealt with Jake so far, Tae has the rug pulled from under her when his silent partner turns up at their first event. His brother Riggs (what tv show do I know that name from, every time I read it I can hear it being said on the tv and can’t for the life of me remember what show it was on), anyway, his brother Riggs has invested 50/50 in the business. The same Riggs who was friends with Tae at school but then ruined it with taking their friendship to the next level.

I’ve decided I really like second chance romance. Finding out what went wrong the first time round and whether they’ll get together again. I mean, it’s a romance, we know it’s going to happen but the push and pull, will they – won’t they that takes us on the journey is great fun. I loved the relationship and banter between Tae and Riggs, even though there were times when they really frustrated me (just how stubborn can one man be!)

four-stars
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Tour: The Lost Ones

Posted June 12, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

Tour: The Lost OnesThe Lost Ones by Marnie Riches
Series: Detective Jackie Cooke #1
Published by Bookouture on 7th June 2022
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 338
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-stars

The girl is sitting upright, her dark brown hair arranged over her shoulders and her blue, blue eyes staring into the distance. She looks almost peaceful. But her gaze is vacant, and her skin is cold…

When Detective Jackie Cooke is called to the murder scene, she is shocked by what she sees. Missing teenager Chloe Smedley has finally been found – her body left in a cold back yard, carefully posed with her bright blue eyes still open. Jackie lays a protective hand on the baby in her belly, and vows to find the brutal monster who stole Chloe’s future.

When Jackie breaks the news to Chloe’s heartbroken mother, she understands the woman’s cries only too well. Her own brother went missing as a child, the case never solved. Determined to get justice for Chloe and her family, Jackie sets to work, finding footage of the girl waving at someone the day she disappeared. Did Chloe know her killer?

But then a second body is found on the side of a busy motorway, lit up by passing cars. The only link with Chloe is the disturbing way the victim has been posed, and Jackie is convinced she is searching for a dangerous predator. Someone has been hunting missing and vulnerable people for decades, and only Jackie seems to see that they were never lost. They were taken.

Jackie’s boss refuses to believe a serial killer is on the loose and threatens to take her off the case. But then Jackie returns home to find a brightly coloured bracelet on her kitchen counter and her blood turns cold. It’s the same one her brother was wearing when he vanished. Could his disappearance be connected to the murders? Jackie will stop at nothing to catch her killer… unless he finds her first…

Today is my turn on the tour for The Lost Ones by Marnie Riches, thank you so much to the team at Bookouture for inviting me on to this.

This is the first in a new series by Marnie Riches and I am already looking forward to the next one.

Detective Jackie Cooke is an excellent character, she is what I expect from a Detective in North West England, over worked, under paid and under appreciated by her family. She has a lot going on both in her work life, trying to catch a serial killer while being held back by her boss and in her personal life, trying to cope with her mother and her errant husband as well as twin boys and a pregnancy. How she’s holding it all together is beyond me!

When Jackie is called to investigate the brutal murder of a teenager with Downs Syndrome, it brings back memories of her brothers disappearance when they were children. She’s barely got started on that murder when more body parts start to appear, not belonging to Chloe.

I loved that this included humour and that Jackie wasn’t a stick thin, can do it all detective. She was more real (more my size) and a lot more “normal” than some characters tend to be.

four-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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The Shadow Man Book Review

Posted June 11, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 1 Comment

The Shadow Man Book ReviewThe Shadow Man by Helen Fields
Published by Avon on 4th February 2021
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop
Goodreads
four-half-stars

He collects his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe.

Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.

Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.

Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.

And he’s watching.

This is possibly one of the darkest thrillers that I’ve read for some time. Helen Fields wastes no time with setting the scene and getting to know characters, instead she is straight into the action establishing the tone for the entire novel from the start.

Being inside the twisted head of The Shadow Man, knowing what is going through his mind when he is carrying out his actions gives you a great insight to how delusional this character is and means that you know there is nothing that he won’t do to get what he needs. Coupled with this we have chapters told from the POV of Elsbeth, Meggy and Xavier. You know that there are interactions that have happened between them and The Shadow Man that you haven’t seen, but seeing their reaction to him and their desperation leaves your imagination to what else has happened working overtime. There’s not actually a lot of scene’s where they’re all together, what scenes there are will chill you. But the scene’s where Elsbeth, Meggy and Xavier are on their own are haunting

Interspersed with these scenes are the chapters featuring forensic psychologist Connie Woodwine and Detecive Brodie Baarda who are leading the hunt for The Shadow Man. I enjoyed watching the relationship develop between these two total opposites, even though it was on occasion a little bit clunky. Connie’s tell it like it is attitude is fantastic, and Baarda’s Etonian English approach to people are completely at odds with each other but they work.

The synopsis of this novel calls it heart pounding. There’s plenty of novels out there that have descriptions similar to this, very few of them live up to it. The Shadow Man does. When I get nervous or worked up my foot starts to tap, it doesn’t happen often, I’m pretty level headed. On a couple of occasions reading this I found my foot slamming itself repeatedly into the floor, or me reading sentences peering through my fingers. You honestly have absolutely no idea where this book is going to go next, who is going to survive and what they’re going to have to go through in order to survive. There was more than one occasion where I felt my stomach churning as I was reading. This is more than a thriller

four-half-stars
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The Castaways Book Review

Posted June 10, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 1 Comment

The Castaways Book ReviewThe Castaways by Lucy Clarke
Published by HarperCollins on March 1, 2021
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop
Goodreads
five-stars

You wake on a beautiful, remote island.

Sparkling blue seas, golden sunsets, barely a footprint in the sand.

Yet this is no ordinary escape.

Next to the wreck of a plane, a stranger paces. Another sharpens a knife, scoring a list of the dead onto a palm tree. Others watch from the shadows of a campfire – all with untold stories, and closely-guarded secrets...

This is no ordinary holiday.
This is no ordinary island.
This is no ordinary beach read.

Wow! What a book! This was my first book by Lucy Clarke and what an amazing book it was!

Erin and Lori are meant to be having the holiday of a lifetime together, instead the night before they have a row and Erin misses her flight. The plane never makes it to it’s destination.

“For so long I believed that I should only feel pleasure when I no longer feel all the other things: the sadness, the loss, the fear. But emotions don’t come parcelled neatly. They’re shaken together and messy. Happiness laced with sadness. Hope tangled with fear. Love shadowed by loss. It isn’t about waiting until I’m in a better place. Striving for a happy life. It’s about feeling life.”

This is a dual timeline, dual perspective novel. Told from the POV of Erin, 2 years after the plane which was carrying her sister disappered and from the POV of Lori, in the time on the island after the plane has crashed (there is a small amount of the novel covering before the disappearance but all the action takes place afterwards).

Two years after the plane disappears Erin is still looking for her sister, she is sure that she’s still alive, surely she’d feel it if she were dead? She’s also sure that someone is hiding something. Now, I’m not saying that Erin is obsessive but she’s dedicated her spare room walls to the discovery of her sister. I think as well as having been close to her sister and missing her, wanting to know what happened, there is also some survivors guilt in there. Erin should have been on that plane. If Lori is dead, they should have died together, if she’s still alive then maybe whatever predicament she’s in could have been lessened if Erin were with her.

I love how the reader always knows slightly more than the characters, but at the same time, we don’t know everything. I found that I was completely immersed into their world and desperate to know what had happened. Had Lori survived, if so, why hadn’t she made contact with her sister?

“You know that feeling when you read a good book, and you’re totally transported to the world within those pages? Your imagination has travelled there – and yet your body is not fooled: it knows you haven’t left the sofa.”

As a reader we know that Lori survived, the plane crashed and she was on an uninhabited island with the other survivors from the plane. She narrates the first month after the crash. But we’re at 2 years later. What has happened in the mean time? Has her name been carved into the tree showing those on the plane who didn’t survive?

five-stars
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