Posted in Book Review, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, Literary Humour, Noir, Political Thriller

Joe Country – Mick Herron 4* #Review @johnmurrays #JacksonLamb #JoeCountry #MickHerron #Spy #BritishEspionage #PoliticalThriller #SpyThriller #LiteraryHumour #Noir

We’re spies,’ said Lamb. ‘All kinds of outlandish shit goes on.’

Like the ringing of a dead man’s phone, or an unwelcome guest at a funeral . . .

In Slough House memories are stirring, all of them bad. Catherine Standish is buying booze again, Louisa Guy is raking over the ashes of lost love, and new recruit Lech Wicinski, whose sins make him outcast even among the slow horses, is determined to discover who destroyed his career, even if he tears his life apart in the process.

And with winter taking its grip Jackson Lamb would sooner be left brooding in peace, but even he can’t ignore the dried blood on his carpets. So when the man responsible breaks cover, at last, Lamb sends the slow horses out to even the score.

This time, they’re heading into joe country.

And they’re not all coming home.

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I received a copy of this book from John Murray via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

‘Joe Country’, is book six, of the ‘Jackson Lamb’ series, and the first that I’ve read. The character relationships are complex, and clearly, they have a lot of history. The thriller is standalone, and after a few chapters, it is easy to understand what the occupants of ‘Slough House’, are. Then relax, and enjoy a well written, political thriller, with satirical humour, flawed, quirky characters and an exciting twisty plot.

‘Slough House’, is the stable for the ‘Slow Horses’, disgraced intelligent operatives that have been put out to grass. Whether their misdemeanours are contrived or real, is not always apparent, but they are remarkably active in the field. Often preventing more incidents, and solving more crimes, than their ‘Regent’s Park’ officially sanctioned counterparts (Joes’)

The prologue to this story intrigues and is described in a particularly evocative, graphic way. The incident in Wales is significant as the plot progresses, and the seemingly disparate threads are melded together.

A new promotion at ‘Regent’s Park, the death of an old spy, a new recruit at ‘Slough House’, and the mysterious disappearance of a deceased ‘Slow Horse’s’ son, are all elements of this complex mystery. Each story is interspersed with the others, although it is not until the book has progressed that the dots to join up in Wales, of course, and the excitement begins.

‘Jackson Lamb’, whose name graces the series, is ‘old school’, politically incorrect, offensive to everyone he encounters, but also canny and clever, and an eminently efficient spymaster, despite his appearance and demeanour.

Action-packed adventures, believable, characters, clever plotting, dark, politically astute humour all make this an addictive, enjoyable book to escape with for an hour or two.

If you can read the series from the beginning to fully appreciate the political astuteness, relationships and setting of this quintessentially, British espionage thriller series.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Noir, Suspense, Thriller

The Whisper Man -Alex North- 5* #Review @MichaelJBooks @writer_north #Thriller. #Crime #TheWhisperMan #Supernatural

If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken . . .

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a much-needed fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago, a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys.

Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle into their new home.

Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears a whispering at his window . . .

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I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK Books – Michael Joseph Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A curious medley of a creepy, suspenseful thriller and poignant sadness are my impressions of this complex, multi-layered story.

A little boy is missing, and the disapperance has echoes of serial killings years before, but ‘The Whisper Man was caught, so who has taken the little boy?

There are so many facets to this story, a crime to be investigated, a little boy who hears voices and talks to imaginary people. A troubled father and son relationship, in the wake of a family tragedy, and a policeman haunted by his past both personal and work.

The plot slips effortlessly between points of view and different genres. The police procedural is authentic and helps you keep past events and what is currently known in mind. The sadness experienced by Tom and Jake is profound and you empathise with their grief and loss. The killer is damaged and dangerous and the level of menace pervades the entire story. Finally, there is a supernatural element, hinted at, leaving the reader to decide if it is really there or not.

Everything is fused together cleverly, making this a suspenseful, shocking and often sad story. The ending is fast-paced and breathtaking and written packed with vivid imagery. You can see the events unfolding in your mind as you read.

A page-turning, absorbing read that makes this thriller stand out above the rest.

Posted in Animal Friends, Blog Tour, Book Review, Childrens Books, Friendship, Guest post

Tabby’s Big Year- Hollie Anne Marsh 4* #Review @Hollieannemarsh @rararesources #Sweetbriars2 #MiddleGrade #Horses #ComingofAge #BritishEquestrian #teen #kidslit #Family #Friendship #BlogTour #GuestPost

After Tabby’s father vanishes, a deep rift develops in Tabby’s family. Tabby’s mother is focused on being a star performer in her pharmaceutical sales career, while Ava, Tabby’s older sister, is living with grandparents in Cornwall. Tabby feels neglected by her mother and jealous of Ava and although outwardly diligent and responsible, she’s like a kettle about to blow its top… bottling things up until it’s nearly impossible to keep a lid on her frustration and sadness.

Tabby finds solace with her best friends Cate and Violet at Sweetbriars Farm where she is nursing her dream horse Bliss back to peak performance, to be able to participate in the try-outs for the British Young Riders Squad.

Tabby also finds herself facing other challenges – saving her beloved horse Nancy from the knacker’s yard and finding the courage to tell her friends the truth about her family. 
Will Tabby be able to save the horses she loves and be brave enough to tell people how she really feels?

Amazon UK

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I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This book certainly stirred some memories for me. At Tabby’s age, I was totally obsessed with horses, and the scenes in the stable yard evoked happy times. This story is the second in the ‘Sweetbriars series, but as I haven’t read the previous book, and enjoyed it, it reads well as a standalone.

Tabby lives with her mum, who is trying to forge a new life, as a single mum. She has a career and this is her main focus, Tabby is self-sufficient and not surprisingly, old for her years because her mother leaves her to fend for herself a lot of the time. Haunted by her dad’s leaving, Tabby reveals her vulnerability and you empathise.

Estranged from her sister, who lives with their grandparents in Cornwall, this story is about reconnecting with family and understanding that everyone’s life has ups and downs, no matter how ideal it appears from the outside. It’s also about learning to trust your friends and being honest about your life and the problems you face.

The issues are those facing young pre-teens and younger teenagers in contemporary society and are explored in a clear and non- judgmental way.

The focus is on Tabby and the horses, one Bliss, she is helping rehabilitate from an accident, and another horse who she is particularly fond of, she battles to save.

The setting is vividly described, and the characters are realistic, and avoid being stereotypical.

As an adult, I enjoyed reading this story, and feel that is perfect for the intended age group.

The perfect read for any horse obsessed young person.

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

Hollie Anne Marsh and the Sweetbriars equestrian series 

I wrote the manuscript for the first Sweetbriars book over ten years ago. I had a dream to create a premium equestrian series like the successful Saddle Club series, with an addictive mix of horses and ‘coming of age’ themes.

When I was younger, I loved these kinds of books and read them all. I would trade books with my friends, and we would discuss them for hours.

After having a baby and being made redundant from my corporate job, I finished the first book; Leaving The City and then recently, I finished the second book; Tabby’s Big Year… it’s been great to do something creative again and fulfil a lifelong dream!

There are three main characters; Cate, Tabby and Violet and they spend most of their spare time at the Sweetbriars Farm.

Cate Sullivan is the daughter of the family who owns the farm and is the main character in the first book. She is sweet and endearing, however a bit of a worrier!

In the second book, Tabby’s Big Year, we follow Tabby’s story. Tabby lives with her mother in the quaint village of the Dales. She is diligent and hardworking, however, is grappling with her family situation as her father vanished and her older sister Ava moved to Cornwall to live with their grandparents. Tabby becomes a regular at Sweetbriars, finding solace with the horses and her dear friends.

The last character; Violet, she is the sassier of the three girls and she also keeps a horse at ‘Sweetbriars’. She says what she thinks and keeps you guessing with her peculiar ways and habits!

I ran a ‘Search for a Cover Star’ competition for both books in the series and for Leaving The City (the first book), I found a talented young rider, Faye Heppelthwaite, alongside her show pony Gigman George to grace the cover. The photo was taken in an English meadow by the photographer Paul Ruffle and it’s pretty stunning.

For the second book, Tabby’s Big Year, I took it one step further and ran a competition where a young girl could not only grace the cover, she could also win a photo shoot with her pony or horse with photographer Katie Amos. Twelve-year-old Sia Reiss won the competition and participated in a photo shoot in scenic Yorkshire with her eighteen-year-old horse Frankie.

As part of entering the competition I asked entrants why they thought they should win the competition and here is what Sia said, which I thought was gorgeous: “My pony Frankie is 18 years old and has arthritis. His glory days are over. He is a one in a million pony and I love him so much. To me, the best way I can think of celebrating Frankie is having him on the cover of a wonderful book.” 

Here is one of my favourite photos from the photo shoot. I think it’s easy to see the special that Sia and Frankie have.

Image Credit – Kate Amos

In Tabby’s Big Year, there are important lessons for young readers. The main character, Tabby has been through a lot in her young life and has a habit of bottling things up and pretending she is ok. The book teaches that by bottling things up, problems only seem more significant.

Tabby also thinks she is the only one with problems, and there is a moment in the book where the neighbour of the Sweetbriars farm Sophia, opens up and reveals how her father also abandoned her… this is a lightbulb moment for Tabby, as she thought everyone around her had things perfect.

Tabby also found Sophia strange (she’s eccentric, lives in a rundown house with oddball parents), but realizes they have a lot in common and Tabby and Sophia become quite close. So, I think the book also teaches young readers not to judge people by the way they look. This was also quite prevalent in the first book too.

What’s next? 

Well, the obvious thing seems to write another Sweetbriars book from Violet’s point of view. It could also be fun to write a book about the quirky neighbour of Sweetbriars Sophia and her life… she is a bit of an enigma. Then the books could continue – as the series is in its infancy. At this stage, I am not sure how far I will take it, but I do think it has potential.

Tabby’s Big Year

The second book in the Sweetbriars Equestrian Book Series tells the story of twelve-year-old Tabby and is set in The Dales – a fictional rural Devon village in the Southwest of England.

After the disappearance of her father, several years before, Tabby, her older sister Ava and her mother, are still grappling with the consequences. Things need to be brought out into the open… but go on being unsaid, as a huge rift develops leaving the family at odds with each other.

While Tabby battles her feelings of being neglected by her mother, she unexpectedly has to face another battle – to find the courage to save her last horse, Nancy from being sent to a premature end at the knacker’s yard.

Tabby also has the responsibility of caring for a young horse, Bliss – her dream horse who was entrusted to her and is recovering from a serious accident. The clock is ticking as Tabby nurses him back to health and peak performance to be able to achieve her dream: to participate in the try-outs for the British Young Riders Squad.

By her side are her two best friends, Cate and Violet. Tabby also develops an unlikely friendship – with Sophia. Tabby realises she has much more in common with her than she ever could have imagined. 

It’s a big year for Tabby… will she be able to find the courage not only to save the horses she loves the most but also to speak up and tell the people closest to her how she really feels?

Hollie Anne Marsh is an Australian author who lives in Barcelona, Spain with her partner, baby boy and horse Frieda. 

Hollie has been horse riding since she was a little girl, enjoying activities such as Pony Club, showjumping, eventing, and trail riding in the great Australian bush. Hollie lived in England for almost ten years where she had two horses and trained them for dressage. 

The ‘Sweetbriars’ series is inspired by all the special moments Hollie spent with horses – good, funny, and challenging moments! 

Additionally the ‘coming of age’ and ‘growing up’ experiences that Hollie had. 
Hollie hopes that readers will be able to identify with the characters, find the books’ fun to read, and they will help readers learn more about horses.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post

A Year of Second Chances- Kendra Smith 4*Review #blogtour #GuestPost @KendraAuthor @Aria_Fiction #friendship #familydrama #secondchances @HoZ_books

Three women. Three very different lives. One life-changing adventure.

Charlie is a single mum unlucky in life. Her multiple jobs make barely enough to feed the family cat, never mind being able to give her son the life he deserves. So when an opportunity to make a lot of cash comes along, she simply has to take it.

Suzie has always wanted to be a mother. But fate has been cruel and now time is running out. Soon her final frozen egg will be destroyed and her last chance of having a baby will go with it. With her husband resolved to their childless life, Suzie takes matters into her own hands.

Dawn is about to turn fifty and seems to have misplaced her mojo along with the car keys. But with an interfering mother-in-law and a gaggle of judgemental mums at her children’s school, it’s proving harder to find than a decent fitting bra. Especially after a series of highly embarrassing incidents…

Over the course of a year three lives are about to collide and as they do be prepared to laugh, cry and fall in love with these women as they discover how life can give you a second chance.

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I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review

My Thoughts…

Three women, with little in common, except they are all at a point in their lives where something has to change. Charlie a single mum is in debt, working all hours, and still cannot make ends meet. Suzie is facing infertility issues, and her partner doesn’t share her urgency to take the last chance left to them. Dawn is nearly fifty and is struggling to give her future life meaning.

The start shows the disparity between Charlie and Dawn’s situations, but it also highlights their desperation and willingness to take drastic action. This makes the decisions they take as the story progresses more realistic than they would otherwise have been.

The characters are slightly stereotypical, but this doesn’t detract from the situations they find themselves, and the genuine emotions they feel. It is this emotion that makes the story worthwhile. There are lighter moments, but this is poignant read.

It’s not a story to dip in and out of, you need to stick with it to appreciate its impact. I did, and it is a satisfying, ultimately hopeful book.

Guest Blog – Kendra Smith – A Year of Second Chances

First of all, thank you for letting me guest blog, Jane!

People often say ‘ooh, you write books!’ It’s such a nice feeling, and probably better than if I said I wrote the copy for the back of baby wipe packets – oh, but I’ve done that too! (That didn’t used to get so many ‘oohs’). I have been a journalist for over 20 years, working in both Sydney and London and have written in-house as well as freelance for various women’s magazines, health, food and more – including a famous high street supermarket where I did write the copy for the baby wipe packets!

My heart was always set on writing novels, though, and this is my second book. A Year of Second Chances weaves together the story of three women all with different issues in life. I wanted my book to feature capable but flawed heroines and the 3-way narrative was a new writing challenge for me, but with the help of Post-its, a lot of A3 paper stuck to the walls for timelines, I (hope) I pulled it off!

I had a fairly strong idea of where I wanted the novel to go, but I do remember an early assessment where my writing coach said, ‘try not to throw everything into the plot!’ I had to choose my battles for my heroines – as well as their love stories too…

The early reviews have been really encouraging (“This was a sweet, fast read for me.  I couldn’t put it down!  Five stars for sure!!” NetGalley.) So I hope your readers enjoy it, too!

Kendra Smith has been a journalist, wife, mother, aerobics teacher, qualified diver and very bad cake baker. She started her career in Sydney selling advertising space but quickly made the leap to editorial – and went on to work on several women’s magazines in both Sydney and London. With dual Australian-British nationality, she currently lives in Surrey with her husband and three children.

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Humour, Romance, Romantic Comedy

A Walk in Wildflower Park – Bella Osborne- 5* #Review @AvonBooksUK @osbourne_bella #Romance #RomCom #LiteraryHumour #PublicationDay

A Walk in Wildflower Park was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package. Life’s not always a walk in the park…

Anna thought she’d found The One – until he broke off their engagement exactly a year before their wedding day. Hoping new surroundings will do her the world of good, she moves into a place of her own on the edge of gorgeous Wildflower Park.

With the help and friendship of her neighbour Sophie (a stressed-out mum whose children a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces), Anna quickly settles in and pledges to focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems determined to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives a text from a mystery man, it looks as though an unlikely romance is on the horizon…

Is Anna about to be swept off her feet by someone she really shouldn’t be falling for? Or could this be the new start she needs and deserves?

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I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Anna’s engagement is over, and she decides life without men is the way forward. Moving into a new flat with its own private park is a step in the right direction. There, she plans and schemes with her best friend Sophie, mother of two and pregnant with a third, whose life is not what she imagined.

A difficult male colleague who threatens Anna’s career provides the initial conflict and humour. There’s also a mystery texter who makes her wonder if she’s really sworn off men, and her ex refusing to stay out of her life. The wildflower park is a source of solace as Anna faces her past and tries to forge a future she can live with.

Ambition, angst, conflict, humour and romance are major themes in this story

As the story progresses, Anna’s relationship problems continue. Liam her ex, seems to be regretting his decision, but does she really want to go there again? Hudson is an enigma and proves a supportive friend, and the face behind the text is revealed.

There are some interesting twists in this book, which alter Anna’s perception of certain people in her life. There are many laugh-out-loud moments, especially for those who have looked after young children.

The characters develop in a pleasing way. The plot deepens but still keeps its secrets the end.

Heavily pregnant Sophie’s life implodes. Her story has the perfect mix of emotion and humour, especially when, Sophie and Anna discuss the state of her marriage. 
There are some touching scenes with Bill, humour with Maurice(the cat) and Anna wonders if she really is cut out for the single life.

Anna undergoes significant character development in this story. Illustrated by scenes with her ex Liam, Hudson, her attractive work colleague, and Connor, the man she met by mistake. She’s in a quandary, should she hold out for her soulmate, settle for what’s available, or go it alone?

A new opportunity forces her to face her past fears. Then, the story takes a darker turn. Even though like me, you may have suspected this development, the clues are there, the final events are suspenseful and menacing, and give this story another unexpected dimension. adding depth and interest.

Anna’s character develops further as the actions of others and changes in her career make her face her demons. I love this character and it’s good to see her discovering her true self. Sophie’s story is also resolved in a satisfying way, and she provides her share of angst and laughter as the story draws to a close.

Romance isn’t neglected, Anna finally realises where her heart lies but she faces significant conflict before she finds her true soulmate and her happy-ever-after.

This is a lovely, contemporary story about family, friends and career, with romance, humour and mystery, a very enjoyable read.



Posted in #Sale, Blog Blitz, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Passport to Happiness – Carrie Stone 99p #PromoBlitz @rararesources @CarrieStoneUK #RomCom #Travel #Self-Realisation #Romance #PriceDrop

An inspiring and escapist read – Eat, Pray, Love meets Bridget Jones!

 Will the trip of her dreams…

Everly Carter is bored.

With her job, with her single status and with the never-ending line of rubbish men on Tinder.  Tired of going through the motions of seeming happy, Everly wants to be happy!
 
So, in a spontaneous moment of bravery (perhaps spurred on by a few cocktails) Everly books a holiday.  Time away, alone, to find out what she really wants from life.

Become the journey of her lifetime?

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Everly’s search for happiness takes her to picturesque Swiss villages and the sunsets of glamourous Bermuda.  But with every new stamp in her passport, Everly still feels as though something is missing…

Could it be that true happiness is hard to find until she finds herself?

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PRICE DROP ALERT! Passport to Happiness now just 99p! Grab your copy – http://hyperurl.co/passporttoeb ‘ 

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#PassporttoHappiness
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Carrie was born and raised in London, but her love for travel and adventure has seen her spend the last fourteen years living and working internationally. She is currently based in Spain alongside her husband, young daughter and adopted Indonesian dog, Bali. 

Carrie is a traditionally published author with Harper Impulse, as well as an independently published author. When not writing, she works as a Psychic Medium & Spiritual Coach (www.carriebattley.com). To find out more about her, connect on Facebook (Carrie Stone) or Twitter @CarrieStoneUK

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Saga

The House by the Loch – Kirsty Wark – 5* #Review @TwoRoadsBooks @KirstyWark @JMP_Publicity @johnmurrays #Scottish #LiteraryFiction #HistoricalFiction #FamilyDrama #MultiGenerational

Scotland, 1950s
Walter MacMillan is bewitched by the clever, glamorous Jean Thompson and can’t believe his luck when she agrees to marry him. Neither can she, for Walter represents a steady and loving man who can perhaps quiet the demons inside her. Yet their home on remote Loch Doon soon becomes a prison for Jean and neither a young family nor Walter’s care can seem to save her.

Many years later, Walter is with his adult children and adored grandchildren on the shores of Loch Doon where the family has been holidaying for two generations. But the shadows of the past stretch over them and will turn all their lives upside down on one fateful weekend.

The House by the Loch is the story of a family in all its loving complexity and the way it can, and must, remake itself endlessly in order to make peace with the past.

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I received a copy of this book from John Murray Press – Two Roads via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Walter witnesses a tragedy as a young boy at the side of the loch, close to his home. It haunts him, throughout his life, even though he could do nothing to stop it. Years later, his family gather at the loch, and once again it is the scene of a tragic event, this time personal, and he wonders if it is his fault and if his family will ever recover.

The setting is beautiful, yet unforgiving, an addiction for Walter, that threatens everything he holds dear.

A multi-generational story, Walter recalls his younger days, his marriage to Jean and their lives at the loch. Addiction and mental health issues irrevocably alter the family, and their effects resonate across the generations. The story’s ethos is predominately sad, but at its conclusion, there is a reckoning, a chance for redemption and a way forward for those left.

The characters are flawed, and therefore believable. Some are self-destructive, but whether the root cause is from nature or nurture, or both is part of what this story explores. The plot is complex, hiding its secrets until the end, The story is engaging and draws you into the family, how they interact and what it means to keep a family together.

Forgiveness, justice and understanding are all important themes. The emotional journey, the characters travel is poignant and often filled with a sense of hopelessness. Ultimately, it is the courage, love and tenacity of the family members, that gets them through the darkness, to survive and make the family stronger.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Holiday Romance, Romance

One Last Greek Summer – Mandy Baggot 5*#Review #BlogTour @Aria_Fiction @mandybaggot #Greece #Greek Islands #Corfu #Romance

Beth Martin is 31, newly divorced and wondering just what life holds for her…

Best-friend, Heidi, is adamant that all the answers lie in Corfu – the island where the girls partied away their youth. So cue a trip to a sun-drenched Greek island, ouzo cocktails, a trip down memory lane… and Alex Hallas, the man Beth has never quite forgotten.

As they dance under the stars, the sand beneath their toes, old feelings begin to resurface and Beth might just have a chance to take back her life. If they can learn to love the people they’ve become…

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I received a copy of this book from Aria-Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

There is always a generous comic element in this author’s stories, and this one illustrates it perfectly. Beth’s divorce is absolute, and her co-workers are throwing her a ‘Divorce Party’, to mark the occasion. Immediately, you appreciate how well Beth is liked, especially by her best-friend Heidi.

Rekindling, the freedom, high spirits and the simplicity of being twenty-one, on holiday, is their goal for Corfu, at thirty-one. Their adventure takes in the beauty of the Greek Island, even with accommodation disasters, wicked Mothers and having ten extra years of emotional baggage. The chance of romance and self -realisation beckons, and provides the reader with a humorous, picturesque, poignant and romantic trip to Corfu.

Realistically flawed characters, most of whom you warm to, a vividly described setting, a lovely dynamic between Beth and Heidi, whose friendship has strengthened over the ten years. The romance is expected, but no less sweet and makes this a perfect holiday read.

Mandy Baggot is an internationally bestselling and award-winning romance writer. The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy’s books have so far been translated into German, Italian, Czech and Hungarian. Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK, with her husband and two daughters.

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Posted in Book Review, Domestic Thriller, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

The Starter Wife – Nina Laurin – 4*#Review @MulhollandUK @HodderBooks @HodderFiction @NinaLaurinBooks #PsychologicalThriller #Suspense #DomesticThriller

Claire Westcott tries to be the perfect wife to Byron but fears she will never measure up to his ex, Colleen. After all, it’s hard to compete with the dead.

Colleen went missing eight years ago. Her body was never found but the police ruled it a suicide. So when Claire receives a phone call from a woman she believes is Colleen, it sparks a million terrifying questions.

Claire discovers the couple weren’t as happy as they would have people believe. And now she’s worried Byron has been lying to her.

There are secrets in every marriage, but sometimes those secrets are deadly.

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I received a copy of this book from Hodder and Stoughton UK – Mulholland Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The illusion of a perfect marriage is a popular trope for psychological thrillers. but this one has enough originality to make it addictive. Told from two points of view, Claire, Byron’s second wife, and an unknown younger woman, it uncovers a web of lies. Claire is an unreliable protagonist, she drinks and is obsessive. She is hard to empathise, even though she appears to be the victim. The other point of view is also obsessive and appears to present a threat to Byron and Claire’s marriage.

The pace and length of the story are perfect, no unnecessary detail, to detract from the character insights and the events, past and present that the plot reveals. This is a complex story, with many twists, the reader deviates between Claire, Byron and the mystery point of view, who is the victim and who is the antagonist?

It’s a story that demands concentration, you can’t dip in and out, the clues are there, and are more obvious as the story heads towards its conclusion, but they are easy to miss, or misconstrue.

The ending fits well with what has gone before and is a satisfactory conclusion of this cleverly plotted, page-turning, psychological thriller.

Posted in Biography, Book Review, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Parenting and Famlies

The First Breath- Olivia Gordon – 4 #Review @booksbybluebird @panmacmillan @OliviaGordon #NonFiction #Medical#Pregnancy #FetalMedicine #NeonatalMedicine

What happens when pregnancy and the first few weeks of a baby’s life don’t go as planned? How have advances in modern medicine and perinatal genetics redefined our perceptions of what is possible?

The First Breath by Olivia Gordon is a powerful medical memoir about the extraordinary fetal and neonatal medicine bringing today’s babies into the world. Unveiling the intense patient-doctor relationship at work with every birth, this book reflects on the cutting-edge medicine that has saved a generation of babies, the combination of love and fear a parent feels for a child they haven’t yet met and what can happen before a baby’s first breath.

Olivia Gordon was twenty-nine weeks pregnant when a scan found that her baby was critically ill. Thanks to a risky operation in utero and five months in neonatal care, her son survived.

The First Breath is the first popular science book to tell the story of the fast developing fields of fetal and neonatal medicine. It explores motherhood and the female experience of medicine through Olivia’s personal story and sensitive, intimate case histories of other mothers’ high-risk births.

The First Breath asks what it means to become the mother of a child who would not have survived birth only a generation ago, showing how doctors and nurses save the most vulnerable lives and how medicine has developed to make it possible for these lives to even begin.

Amazon UK

Waterstones

I received a copy of this from Pan Macmillan – Bluebird via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The story, this book tells is amazing, the sheer scope of the medical advancement, over the last twenty years is well documented here. It’s not just about the science, and the pioneering doctors, there is also the unashamedly human side to this story. The personal experiences of the author, and the mothers, fathers, doctors and nurses interviewed by her.

The balance of facts and case studies is good. The science is complex and will not suit everyone, but it is written, in an easy to understand way, and illuminated by personal experience. The ethical side of this medical advancement isn’t ignored, as the reader is presented with both the facts and the human outcomes.

The experiences of the parents, particularly the mothers, is the best part of the book for me. They are courageous, honest and inspiring.