Publisher: Hachette UK

Book Review: Madame Burova by Ruth Hogan

Posted August 24, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 1 Comment

Book Review: Madame Burova by Ruth HoganMadame Burova by Ruth Hogan
Published by Hachette UK on April 1, 2021
Length: 7 hr 55 min
Genres: Women's
Pages: 352
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
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Tarot Reader, Palmist and Clairvoyant is retiring and leaving her booth on the Brighton seafront after fifty years.

Imelda Burova has spent a lifetime keeping other people's secrets and her silence has come at a price. She has seen the lovers and the liars, the angels and the devils, the dreamers and the fools. Her cards had unmasked them all and her cards never lied. But Madame Burova is weary of other people's lives, their ghosts from the past and other people's secrets, she needs rest and a little piece of life for herself. Before that, however, she has to fulfill a promise made a long time ago. She holds two brown envelopes in her hand, and she has to deliver them.

In London, it is time for another woman to make a fresh start. Billie has lost her university job, her marriage, and her place in the world when she discovers something that leaves her very identity in question. Determined to find answers, she must follow a trail which might just lead right to Madame Burova's door.

I’m finding this a really difficult book to review. It’s not a book that I knew anything about or had even heard of, prior to it being chosen as the August read for the book club that I’m in so I went into it with absolutely no expectations.

Although I enjoyed this book, there wasn’t actually a lot that happened. If I had to sum it up it would be that Madame Burova tells Billie that she is adopted but she refuses to tell her who her parents are. Billie then works to figure this out for herself, knowing that her father is one of the Larkin’s holiday camp staff in a photo where Madame Burova used to work. The story takes place “then” the summer that someone became pregnant with Billie, it lets us get to know the characters so that we can begin to guess at who the parents might be. And “now” where Billie is getting to know Madame Burova and an assortment of characters who she is friendly with, while trying to investigate who her parents might be.

There is a large cast of characters, only a few of which are given centre stage and who’s storyline we follow. There is a secondary storyline of Treasure, a mixed race child who is bullied at school during the 1970’s, although beautifully written and an interesting storyline, it doesn’t really go anywhere and I’m not entirely sure why it was there.

Due to such a huge number of characters I struggled to remember who all of them were, except for those that were talked to by Clive. Clive believes he is working undercover for MI5, communicating with them through elastic bands. He is tolerated by everyone who accept him for who he is, he’s on the periphery throughout the novel. I actually loved how he remembered people – he is MI5 Clive, Billie is Billie in the bowler hat. Others are identified by the exact wording that was used when they were introduced to him.

The beauty of this book is in the writing, there’s not a huge amount of character development, there’s a large cast of characters who you don’t really get to know in any great detail and there’s not a great storyline. And I know that all sounds really negative, but I still enjoyed it. It could have been boring and a dnf, but it wasn’t, it was a “nice” book to read.


Book Tour: Quarter to Midnight

Posted August 11, 2022 by louisesr in Review, Tour / 5 Comments

Book Tour: Quarter to MidnightQuarter to Midnight by Karen Rose
Series: New Orleans #1
Published by Hachette UK on August 4, 2022
Narrator: Lee Osorio
Length: 21 hours
Genres: suspense, Romance
Pages: 560
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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Rocky Hebert walks into his death at quarter to midnight one New Orleans night.

His son Gabe cannot accept the official verdict of suicide and enlists the help of the Burke Broussard Private Investigation Agency to discover the real cause of death.

PI Molly Sutton knows what it's like to lose a father in tragic circumstances and will go to any lengths to crack the investigation, as she tries to fight off her growing feelings for Gabe.

They soon realise Rocky was working on an investigation of his own; one that threatened to expose the deep corruption going all the way to the top of the police department. And that the key to the puzzle lies with a young witness to a murder that happened years earlier: Xavier Morrow.

Just what did Rocky know? And who might have shut him up?

As they get closer and closer to the truth, they realise that the killer is not going to stop at Rocky. And that Xavier is in very real danger. Someone will go to any lengths to protect what he witnessed that night coming out...

'High-wire suspense that keeps you riveted' Lisa Gardner

'Intense, complex and unforgettable' James Patterson

'Fast and furious' Sun

I am so happy to share that I am on the book tour for the new book from Karen Rose – Quarter to Midnight. This is the first book in a new series form her set it New Orleans. Thank you so much to Random Things Tours and the publisher for inviting me on to this tour.

*although I was gifted an advance copy of this book the version I had was unreadable. HOWEVER, I love Karen Rose books and would have bought this any way so although this is a tour, the book was purchased by myself.

I only discovered Karen Rose earlier this year and I am slowly working my way through her backlist. I was going to pass on this as it would have meant reading out of order (I know I do that a lot but I’m trying to stop) but then I discovered that this was the first in a new series so it would be rude not to right?

This is a huge book coming in somewhere around 600 pages, I got the audio and it was over 21 hours!!! Luckily for me, I don’t listen to it on 1x speed (seriously, does anyone really speak that slowly?) I found that 1.75x was the perfect speed for me with this and I read it over 3 days.

This was a bit of a weird book for me as it was all about the investigation, we know who was killed and we know who by. As the story unfolds we find out the why. The beauty of the story is in the process of what Gabe and Molly go through to avoid being killed themselves and to identify and catch the killer. I got so invested in this story and where it was going to go. There was non stop action and a bit of romance thrown in. It really didn’t feel like it was overly long, something which had worried me a little when I first looked at it.

I particularly like Xavier and his motley crew of family and friends. I thought they made a great addition to the storyline. They were so down to earth and likeable.

This is classified as romantic suspense, rather than the thriller that I know from her earlier books. While I enjoyed it, I definitely prefer a book with more thriller/suspense and less romance. But that is a personal preference of mine and as romantic suspense goes this was really good


The Stories of my Life Book Review

Posted June 6, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

The Stories of my Life Book ReviewThe Stories of my Life by James Patterson
Published by Hachette UK on June 6, 2022
Genres: Autobiography
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
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How did a kid whose dad lived in the poorhouse become the most successful storyteller in the world?

  • On the morning he was born, he nearly died.
  • His dad grew up in the Pogey– the Newburgh, New York, poorhouse.
  • He worked at a mental hospital in Massachusetts, where he met the singer James Taylor and the poet Robert Lowell.  
  • While he toiled in advertising hell, James wrote the ad jingle line “I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us Kid.”
  • He once watched James Baldwin and Norman Mailer square off to trade punches at a party.
  • He’s only been in love twice.  Both times are amazing.
  • Dolly Parton once sang “Happy Birthday” to James over the phone.  She calls him J.J., for Jimmy James. 

How did a boy from small-town New York become the world’s most successful writer? How does he do it? He has always wanted to write the kind of novel that would be read and reread so many times that the binding breaks and the book literally falls apart. As he says, “I’m still working on that one.” 

This is a strange one for me to review. I had mixed feelings about it and I’m not entirely sure they’re the fault of James Patterson. I had expected this to be an autobiography, and in a way it is – just not in the traditional sense. This is a group of stories of various events that have happened in James Pattersons life but there is no logical groupings and they’re non linear, which is confusing. For example, we have a couple of chapters about working with Bill Clinton and the books they wrote together and then shortly after that we have them meeting for the first time on a golf course.

For the first quarter of the book I was getting very annoyed at the constant name dropping, I had it in my head that this was showing an arrogance on Pattersons part. However, as I read more of the book and got to understand Patterson more I came to realise that it wasn’t arrogance or showing off but that he is genuinely excited and surprised that he has the level of fame that he does and that he has met the people that he has.

I read an arc of this so it was unfinished and the formatting was terrible, this is something that i know will be fixed before it goes on general sale, Im also hoping that it will be more readable. it did feel like an editor still needed to do their job on it.

There is very little about writing in this, I had really hoped for more. Patterson does tell us about books and authors that he loves, and touches on his writing process but its nothing deeper than what he’s revealed in other interviews. One thing that Patterson does do very well in this book is too give credit to other people, be they people he’s worked with in advertising or people involved in the publishing process.

Ultimately, I was disappointed in this book, I much prefer Patterson’s fiction work.


Reasons To Go Outside Extract

Posted May 26, 2022 by louisesr in Excerpt / 0 Comments

Reasons To Go Outside ExtractReasons To Go Outside by Esme King
Published by Hachette UK on May 26, 2022
Genres: Women's
Pages: 368
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Pearl Winter hasn't been outside in forty-three years.

Since she arrived on Dartmoor as a girl, an isolated family cottage has been her whole world. A place of safety. But now fifty-nine-year-old Pearl is utterly alone - except for the postman, the local crows, and memories of the summer of 1976.

Teenager Connor Matthews feels like a stranger in his own home.

Since his mother's death he's been adrift from his remaining family, troubled by the reality of moving on, and unable to see a future ahead. But when Connor begins a summer job as Pearl's gardener, an unexpected friendship opens the door to a fresh start for them both. If only Pearl and Connor can take the first steps . . .

Reasons To Go Outside publishes today but it’s not one that I’ve seen a lot about in my feeds, either on here or on Twitter/Bookstagram.

On Monday I received a message from Esme asking if I’d like to read it and as soon as I looked at the synopsis i knew I wanted a copy. It arrived on Tuesday and although I was already half way through a book I sat down and read the first couple of chapters, I haven’t had a chance to read it all yet as I already had some commitments but this is up at the top of my TBR.

Even from those first few chapters I knew this was a book I wanted to share with you guys so I went back to Esme to ask if I could possibly share the opening chapters, happily, Hachette have agreed and have reproduced them for us here

I’d love to hear what you think of it


While Paris Slept Book Review

Posted May 24, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

While Paris Slept Book ReviewWhile Paris Slept by Ruth Druart
Published by Hachette UK on February 23, 2021
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
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Paris 1944
A young woman's future is torn away in a heartbeat. Herded on to a train bound for Auschwitz, in an act of desperation she entrusts her most precious possession to a stranger. All she has left now is hope.

Santa Cruz 1953
Jean-Luc thought he had left it all behind. The scar on his face a small price to pay for surviving the horrors of Nazi Occupation. Now, he has a new life in California, a family. He never expected the past to come knocking on his door.

On a darkened platform, two destinies become entangled. Their choice will change the future in ways neither could have imagined...

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

Wow. This book was so much more than I expected it to be.

Set during WWII and looking back at it from 1953 later While Paris Slept is told from multiple view points. That of Jean Luc a railroad worker, Charlotte a nurse and Sarah who is Jewish. Towards the end of the story we have a few chapters narrated by Sam, Sarah’s son.

This is a book about just what you will endure for love, how it can see you through the very worst of times.

What struck me throughout this book is the heartache that everyone endures while all trying to do the right thing. There is no “bad guy” in this book, just a group of people who are trying to get through life in the very worst of times and who suffer, no matter what choices they make. Everyone admits to making mistakes but these were done with the best of intentions and it’s only with hindsight that it’s possible to see that an alternative course of action may have worked out better. Your heart goes out to every single one of the main characters as they pay for these mistakes, knowing that their actions have brought them on but knowing that the alternative would have been just as heartbreaking.

Ruth Druart tackles some seriously tough subjects throughout this book, from living in occupied France and being a ‘survival collaborator’, to surviving in Auschwitz, to doing what is best for your child – no matter how much it hurts you. She handles all of these with such sensitivity and has obviously researched extremely thoroughly.

This is a book that will break you heart repeatedly and will stay with you long after you read the last page


About Ruth Druart

Living in Paris for the last thirty years inspired me to write, and my debut novel, While Paris Slept, came out in 2021, followed by The Last Hours in Paris, to be released in July 2022. Both books are set during the occupation of World War II, a time which intrigued me as I imagined the French having to live and work alongside the occupiers.

I love the power of story, and believe that sharing stories from different perspectives and different backgrounds can help us understand the world better. Having studied psychology at Leicester University, I have always been interested in the workings of the mind, and especially in what motivates people. I find people fascinating and love creating my own characters, each one flawed and touching in their own way.

I don’t believe in the single story, and in my books I like to present different perspectives, leaving the reader to make up their own mind as the characters face moral dilemmas and difficult choices. I hope you enjoy reading them.


Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez

Posted May 23, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

Life’s Too Short by Abby JimenezLife's Too Short by Abby Jimenez
Series: The Friend Zone #3
Published by Hachette UK on April 20, 2021
Narrator: Christine Lakin, Zachary Webber
Length: 9hrs 6mins
Genres: Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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When Vanessa Price quit her job to pursue her dream of traveling the globe, she wasn't expecting to gain millions of YouTube followers who shared her joy of seizing every moment. For her, living each day to its fullest isn't just a motto. Her mother and sister never saw the age of 30, and Vanessa doesn't want to take anything for granted.

But after her half-sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in custody of her baby daughter, life goes from 'daily adventure' to 'hourly nappy change'. The last person Vanessa expects to show up offering help is the hot lawyer next door, Adrian Copeland. After all, she barely knows him. No one warned her that he was the Secret Baby Tamer or that she'd be spending a whole lot of time with him and his geriatric Chihuahua.

Now she's feeling things she's vowed not to feel. Because the only thing worse than falling for Adrian is finding a little hope for a future she may never see.

“One Day Syndrome. You live your life like there’ll always be one day to do all the things you put off. One day you’ll take the trip. One day you’ll have the family. One day you’ll try the thing. You’re all work and not enough play. Money can’t make you happy unless you know what you want,”

Oh how I loved this book. I don’t think I have ever binge read a book so fast as I did with this, I couldn’t put it down! I haven’t read a huge number of romance in recent years, I downloaded this on a whim one night when I was maxing ot my library cards. There were other books I’d intended to read first but then someone else was waiting for this so I bumped it up to the front of the queue. Vanessa and Adrian are just so adorable. She is busy living her best life and he’s busy working. This is a couple who shouldn’t work together but throw in a baby and a dog and it just works!

“Don’t get a cat,” she went on. “It’ll walk around pushing your drinks off the coffee table. You’re not emotionally strong enough for that.”

What really makes my heart sing about reading a romantic comedy like this is that it’s not all sunshine and flowers, it discusses some really serious issues. Do you remember the ice bucket challenge from 2014? Do you remember why everyone was pouring buckets of freezing cold water over their heads? Amyotrophic Latral Sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS or Motor Neurone Disease (Lou Gehrig disease in the United States). ALS is a major theme running through the book. It also touches on bereavement, substance abuse and unwanted pregnancy.

Vanessa has lost a number of family members to ALS, due to this she has decided that she’s not going to let the possibility of her life being shortened stop her from living the life she wants. She’s quit her job and started a YouTube channel as a travel blogger, not expecting to get so much support and become a celebrity in her own right. She spends her life travelling the world and raising money for ALS research. When her younger sister gives birth but cannot look after the baby due to her addiction, Vanessa steps in to care for her and moves in next door to Adrian

“You know how when you ask someone what they’d do if the sun was headed for Earth and they had twenty-four hours left to live? And everyone always says they’d be with family, eat their favorite food, go someplace they’ve always wanted to go? Nobody ever says they’d spend the last day curled up in bed crying- because they wouldn’t. That’s not what anyone wants to do with their final hours. I mean, yeah, you’d cry. And you’d be scared because you’re gonna die. And you’d find yourself looking at the sky throughout the day, knowing what’s coming because that’s just human nature. But for the most part, you’d just enjoy the time you had left. Especially because there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s no escape, nowhere to hide. So why bother? Obsessing over the end is pointless. If you spend your life dwelling on the worst possible thing, when it finally happens, you’ve lived it twice. I don’t want to live the worst things twice. I try really hard not to think about the bad stuff. But every once in a while I’m human and I look up. Yesterday was just one of those days that I looked at the sun.”

There are so many quotes in this book that I want to share. It’s a novel about positivity, tackling life head-on and not letting the bad things get you down. I have laughed, I have cried. I’ve downloaded the first book in this series and the newest release from Abby Jaminez. I can’t wait to read them!


About Abby Jimenez

Abby Jimenez is a Food Network winner, New York Times best selling author, and recipient of the 2022 Minnesota Book Award for her novel Life’s Too Short. Abby founded Nadia Cakes out of her home kitchen back in 2007. The bakery has since gone on to win numerous Food Network competitions and has amassed an international cult following.

Abby loves a good romance, coffee, doglets, and not leaving the house.