Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Romance

Full of Grace – 5*#Review – Elizabeth Crocket @CrimsonCloakPub

Angela keeps a roof over her head, albeit a leaking one, by writing romance novels. But, Angela’s never really believed in the traditional happily ever after ending. So, she begins writing the story of Grace, who has recently been diagnosed with cancer shortly after finding out her husband Rick is having an affair. Again.

As she writes the story to dispel the myth of happily ever after, Angela begins a relationship with Mark, the contractor who comes to fix her leaking roof, and ironically, it looks like she may be on the way to her own happy ending. But Angela’s had a difficult past and has a cynical outlook, while Mark’s life has just gotten messy. Angela wonders if this is all going to work out.

Grace lies in bed at night, wondering if what Rick wants to give her, and what he is capable of giving her, are two different things. She asks Rick to move out temporarily, while they try to assess their marriage. She wonders how she can get such comfort and security from a man who cheated on her.

  Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

As with her previous novel ‘ A Path to the Lake’, the author delivers an original plot, believable characters and a story with a unique charm. ‘Full of Grace’ is told from two points of view. Angela, a romance writer, never seems to find the ‘happily ever after’ she writes in her romances, and Grace, the character created by Angela as a conduit of her new writing style.

Through writing Grace’s story as she searches for her new purpose in life, Angela finds challenges in her own life, which make her realise that romance is possible in the real world too.

This is an engaging read, the characters are easy to empathise and you become invested in their lives. The pacing is perfect and the story easy to read. This is a story of ordinary people facing life’s mercurial challenges. It is the strength of the characters and the relatability of the plot that makes it such an enjoyable read.

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Literary Fiction

The Frank Business – Olivia Glazebrook – 4* #Review – @JMP_Publicity @johnmurrays

After Frank drops down dead in Heathrow Arrivals on Christmas Eve, his estranged daughter Jem is called in to identify the body. When Jem travels back to Frank’s house in France – a house she hasn’t been in since she was a child – she realises that Frank had a son too.

Frank has died of a congenital heart defect, a defect he may have passed on to his daughter – or on to his son. Jem must warn her brother, but in finding herself a family she risks ripping another apart.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This book has a great opening, it really catches your attention, and makes you feel sympathy for Frank who dies so painfully and abruptly. What follows reveals Frank as a destructive man who cared for no-one, and whose thoughtless actions had far-reaching effects on those he came into contact with.

The plot is not remarkable, although it is good, it’s the characters, the pertinent observations of what motivates people to react in certain ways, and most importantly how families work in a contemporary society that resonates with this story.

All the characters are authentically flawed and most are not particularly likeable, but they are understandable. Even though the family dynamics are magnified, the interactions between mother and son, father and daughter and husband and wife are recognisable.

The pacing suits this type of book and the characters and settings are full of vivid imagery, which makes this an easy but definitely intriguing read.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Romance

With or Without You – #Paperback #Blog Tour – Shari Low – @sharilow @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction

Have you ever made a life-changing decision and then wondered if you made the right one…?

When Liv and Nate walked up the aisle, Liv knew she was marrying the one, her soul mate and her best friend.

Six years later, it feels like routine and friendship is all they have left in common. What happened to the fun, the excitement, the lust, the love?

In the closing moments of 1999, Liv and Nate decide to go their separate ways, but at the last minute, Liv wavers. Should she stay or should she go?

Over the next twenty years we follow the parallel stories to discover if Liv’s life, heart and future have been better with Nate… Or without him?

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I received a paperback copy of this book from Head of Zeus Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

If like me you believe in fate and love the film ‘Serendipity’, you’ll enjoy this well-written ‘what if’ story. Most people in a long-term relationship wonder, whether they are with their soulmate, or if under different circumstances they would be with someone else. This story explores Liv’s decision taken at the cusp of the 21st-century, stay with Nate or split up and live their lives apart.

A story of two halves, the outcome of being ‘without him’ is explored first and then ‘with him’. There’s friendship, conflict, romance and sadness but the ultimate conclusion is satisfying in both stories. The setting and relationships are believable, and though flawed, the characters endear themselves to the reader, and you want them to find happiness and fulfilment.

The pacing of the story makes it easy to read, and even though the storyline focuses on ordinary, everyday life, it is full of suspense, poignancy, laughter and love and makes this a lovely lighthearted read.

Guest Post – Serendipity – Shari Low

Some may have said it was serendipity. Some may call it love at first sight. But when a complete stranger walked towards me one night 25 years ago, I smiled because I knew I was in the right place at the right time. A week later we got engaged, and we’ve stuck together through a lifetime of children, books, ups, downs, dodgy fashion choices (but perms were so in!) and a labradoodle.

However, what would have happened if we hadn’t met? Would someone else have been the love of my life? Would I never have found this kind of happiness? Would I have married a rock star and settled for a life of loud music, wanton behaviour and leather trousers?

Actually, I quite like the sound of that option.

Or perhaps that chance meeting was meant to happen, and we were somehow destined to cross paths, if not that night, then at some other point in the future.

Those thoughts were the starting point for my new novel With Or Without You.

The main characters, Nate and Liv, have been together since they were teenagers. Now in their mid-twenties, their all-consuming love has faded to friendship and they’ve decided that their marriage has run its course. They agree to separate at midnight on the final day of 1999, but at the last minute, Nate wavers. The storyline then splits into two strands, one following the couple over the next eighteen years if they stay together, the other if they part.

Will they find each other again? Or will they discover a greater love elsewhere? Does serendipity really exist, or is everyone’s fate already pre-determined, our lives like tangled paths that will end at the same destination no matter what choices we make? 

As the stories unfold, Nate and Liv, and the people who share their lives discover the answers to those questions.

As for me? Excuse the uncharacteristic sentimentality, but I’ll never regret being in that place at that time and meeting that bloke. 

Leather trousers go out of fashion. Soul mates never do.

With Or Without You was published in paperback by Aria on 7th Feb 2019

Shari Low is the No1 best-selling author of over 20 novels, including With Or Without You, Another Day In Winter, One Day In December, A Life Without You and The Story Of Our Life. And because she likes to over-share toe-curling moments and hapless disasters, she is also the shameless mother behind a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. Once upon a time she met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband, a labradoodle, and two teenagers who think she’s fairly embarrassing except when they need a lift. 

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Literary Fiction

5* #Review – If Only I Could Tell You – Hannah Beckerman @orionbooks @hannahbeckerman

A twist that will break your heart . . . An ending that will put it back together

Audrey’s family has fallen apart. Her two grown-up daughters, Jess and Lily, are estranged, and her two teenage granddaughters have never been allowed to meet. A secret that echoes back thirty years has splintered the family in two but is also the one thing keeping them connected.

As tensions reach breaking point, the irrevocable choice that one of them made all those years ago is about to surface. After years of secrets and silence, how can one broken family find their way back to each other?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Orion Publishing Group via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Audrey’s family appears irrevocably broken, and she doesn’t know why. Her greatest wish is to see her daughters talking again, but is it within her power to achieve this after thirty years?

Family drama is the main theme of this story but the tragic event that catalyses it is not what it seems.  Told from three points of view: Audrey(Mother) Lily(Daughter) and Jess(Daughter). The story slips from the present to the past and back again, highlighting the family’s tragic history that blights their current lives, and hints at the secrets, which are tearing it apart.

The early chapters of the book suggest an obvious secret, but as you read on, something just as devastating but different is suggested, and finally revealed. The characters are flawed, tragic but relatable. Most will empathise with their predicament and their reactions to it.

The story flows well and enthrals. The twist is cleverly concealed and makes the sense of loss and waste even greater. The ending is believable, and hopeful and demonstrates that forgiveness makes anything possible.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Romance

5* #Review – Susan Lewis – One Minute Later @HarperCollinsUK @HarperFiction @susandlewis@fictionpubteam

You think your life is perfect.

You think your secrets are safe.

You think it’ll always be this way.

But your life can change in a heartbeat.

Behind every secret lies a story.

With a high-flying job, a beautiful apartment and friends whose lives are as happy as her own, Vivienne Shager is living the dream. Then, on the afternoon of Vivi’s twenty-seventh birthday, one catastrophic minute changes everything.
 
Forced to move back to the small seaside town where she grew up, Vivi remembers the reasons she left. The secrets, lies and questions that now must be answered before it’s too late. But the answers lie in thirty years in the past…
 
Shelley Raynor’s family home, Deerwood Farm, has always been a special place until darkness strikes at its heart. When Vivi’s and Shelley’s worlds begin to entwine, it only takes a moment for the truth to unravel all of their lives.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Authentic, emotional, mysterious and romantic are the perfect words to describe this enthralling story. Told primarily from Vivi and Shelley’s points of view, you wonder what there can be to connect two women who are so different in all aspects of their lives. Both their stories are absorbing. Vivi’s story is at the present time, Shelley’s mainly retrospective but one unconnected incident puts their lives on a collision course.

This a story of family life, relationships and friendship but there is an underlying mystery, which is gradually solved as the story develops. The story is suspenseful, as in the midst of ordinary events you are metaphorically waiting for ‘the other shoe to drop’.

So many people’s lives turn on a moment in time and the main body of the story focuses on the fall out from this event, and its consequences. The characters are complex, flawed and so believable. Reading this story is like being a voyeur into the character’s lives, the events are realistic as are their emotional responses and motivations.

The romance is sweet yet passionate, and selfless, it is the basis of the two main protagonist’s lives and what binds the families in the face of adversity. There is a multitude of poignant moments in this book, which enrich it. The plot’s twists make solving the underlying mystery complex and satisfying.

The emotional ending is beautiful to read and surprisingly hopeful. The messages peppered throughout this story are important for the reader to take on board.

Posted in Book Review, Friendship, Literary Fiction

Dear Rosie Hughes – Melanie Hudson- 5*#Review @HarperImpulse @Melanie_Hudson_

The best friendships are worth fighting for…

It’s been fifteen years since Aggie’s friendship with Rosie Hughes ended abruptly. But now she’s heard from the village rumour mill that Rosie is off to war, she knows her best friend needs her more than ever – despite what’s happened between them in the past.

As Rosie faces a desert full of danger and Aggie falls further from the path to love she’ so wants, the two friends write each other letters.

The comfort in their shared words is an anchor to the life they knew before…and the only constant in a world as increasingly unpredictable as the wind.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

It’s the authenticity and warmth of this story that kept me reading. Cleverly constructed as electronic letters and emails between Rosie, stationed in the Middle East, on the eve of the Iraq War in 2003 and Aggie, her estranged childhood friend. The two women, now in their mid-thirties rekindle a friendship that they both need at this pivotal time in their lives.

Mixed in with family letters and letters from friends both past and present, they tell the story of the women’s lives, their feelings, and let the reader travel on their journey of self-discovery in two vastly different settings.

This is a poignant story. It’s easy to imagine how Rosie feels so far from home and empathise.

The plot is well-paced, original. Every letter reveals another clue to women’s past lives and their state of mind. The characters are believable and flawed but you want them to be happy.

The ending is beautifully drawn together with a twist that resonates. One of my favourite stories so far this year and I’ve already read forty books.

Posted in Book Review, Literary Fiction

Mr Doubler Begins Again – Seni Glaister – 5*#Review @HQstories @HQDigitalUK @SeniGlaister

Baked, mashed, boiled or fried, Mr Doubler knows his potatoes. But the same can’t be said for people. Since he lost his wife, he’s been on his own at Mirth Farm – and that suits Doubler just fine. Crowds are for other people; the only company he needs are his potato plants and his housekeeper, Mrs Millwood, who visits every day.

So when Mrs Millwood is taken ill, it ruins everything – and Mr Doubler begins to worry that he might have lost his way. But could the kindness of strangers be enough to bring him down from the hill?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

I love the current trend of novels featuring older characters in a protagonist role. Perhaps, its because I am closer to being older than young myself?

‘Mr Doubler Begins Again’, is the story of a man who has lost his wife and retreated into his home and business because it’s what he knows, what he likes, and most importantly it won’t leave him. His children visit, but his main contact with the outside world is Mrs Millwood his housekeeper, who not only keeps his house but also makes sure he receives the emotional support he needs.

His reliance on his trusty housekeeper is shaken when she is hospitalised and he finds his life is lonely, and not as full as he thought.

Told in a charming way, the reclusive Mr Doubler learns to trust others and to give friendship in return.  Just like his potatoes, people are many varieties and some are better suited than others.

The characters are steeped in authenticity, and the rural way of life is celebrated. Not everyone has good intentions, but all have a part to play in Mr Doubler’s reemergence from his grief.

A lovely story full of poignant, relatable moments.