#BookReview Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay

There was a lot of hype when I tweeted I was starting this book, many positive comments and lots of great reviews about Linwood Barclay’s work, so I was intrigued to get started on this one.

The Blurb

One weekend, while Andrew Mason was on a fishing trip, his wife, Brie, vanished without a trace. Most people assumed Andy had got away with murder, but the police couldn’t build a strong case against him. For a while, Andy hit rock bottom – he drank too much, was abandoned by his friends, nearly lost his business and became a pariah in the place he had once called home.

Now, six years later, Andy has put his life back together. He’s sold the house he shared with Brie and moved away for a fresh start. When he hears his old house has been bulldozed and a new house built in its place, he’s not bothered. He’s settled with a new partner, Jayne, and life is good.

But Andy’s peaceful world is about to shatter. One day, a woman shows up at his old address, screaming, ‘Where’s my house? What’s happened to my house?’ And then, just as suddenly as she appeared, the woman – who bears a striking resemblance to Brie – is gone. The police are notified and old questions – and dark suspicions – resurface.

Could Brie really be alive after all these years? If so, where has she been? It soon becomes clear that Andy’s future, and the lives of those closest to him, depends on discovering what the hell is going on. The trick will be whether he can stay alive long enough to unearth the answers…

My Thoughts

Such an original story! My first Linwood Barclay book requested from Netgalley because I was intrigued by the description and it didn’t disappoint. Barclay is a brilliant writer who has created a story full of twists and turns that keep you on your toes throughout. It is a rollercoaster of a read!

From the beginning I had a slight inkling as to who was responsible for Brie’s disappearance and was surprised that I was correct. However, I wasn’t sure of the reasons behind it and, despite anticipating the outcome, I was still engaged in the story as there were still more surprises along the way.

‘Take Your Breath Away’ is a great read and is certainly a book that you won’t be able to put down.

Pre-order your copy now…

My 2021 Round Up

I read some excellent books in 2021, here are just a few.

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is an incredible debut novel from Marianne Cronin, an author who is going to go far and I look forward to joining her on her journey.

The Maid by Nita Prose

Misunderstood and underestimated, Molly is such a well created and highly developed character that I will not be forgetting in a hurry.

A phenomenal read and a remarkable debut, an absolute must have book!

The Nurse by J.A. Corrigan

I found the story very original and was gripped from the very first page, it really was difficult to put it down.

‘The Nurse’ is one of those books that you can’t stop thinking about long after you have closed the last page. It is compelling, full of twists and an absolute must read.

Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker

Call Me Mummy was gripping from the very first page! Extremely well-paced and an absolute page-turner. A fantastic debut!

The Wife Who Got a Life by Tracy Bloom

This book made me laugh out loud at several points. The ending was certainly emotional and, not usually one to cry at books, I am not ashamed to admit that I did in fact shed a tear.

‘The Wife Who Got a Life’ is uplifting and emotional and such a poignant reminder of how simple life can be and yet how happy it can make you.

The Winter of Second Chances by Jenny Bayliss

Loved it! Such a lovely, feel good story. ‘The Winter of Second Chances’ is a book that made me feel all warm and fuzzy, perfect for those cold winter nights. Highly recommended!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

I Loved it! Throughout the book the main character Kya experiences racism, violence, discrimination and prejudice all of which make this book a great book club choice as there are so many talking points.

The Dare by Lesley Kara

This story has lots of twists and turns and throws in quite a few curveballs I wasn’t expecting. It’s full of drama, dark secrets and surprises. A very well written book! 

Why Mummy’ Sloshed by Gill Sims

Why Mummy’s Sloshed’ is just as funny as its predecessors and if you have not yet read any of the books in the series then I would highly recommend that you do. 

#BookReview The Winter of Second Chances by Jenny Bayliss

The Blurb

Annie Sharpe has it all – an acclaimed restaurant she owns with her handsome husband Max, and two gorgeous grown-up sons. But after one indiscretion too many, she leaves behind the only life she’s ever known.

In search of a fresh start, Annie takes up a position as a caretaker of Saltwater Nook, a creaky but charming beach house on Kent’s beautiful, wild coastline. The village community is an eccentric but tightknit bunch, and Annie is swept up in a whirlwind of their traditional festive celebrations, from pumpkin carving to bonfires on the beach. It soon feels like home – she even reopens the long-dormant seafront café.

The only thorns in her side are John, the owner’s rugged but totally unreasonable nephew who has his own agenda for the house, and a persistent Max, intent on winning her back.

Salwater Nook has been the perfect escape, but Annie can’t run from her problems forever. Will she give her first love a second chance? Or step into the promise of a new life?

My Thoughts

Loved it! Such a lovely, feel good story. Annie finally grows a backbone and leaves her long time cheating husband and it turns out to be the best thing she ever did. Finding herself in a secluded seaside town she quickly becomes a big part of the community and embraces everything that brings.

When the owner of Saltwater Nook’s nephew John walks through the door the atmosphere most definitely changes, but I did have a small inkling as to what was going to happen. John and Annie’s first encounter is during a Book Club meeting which Annie hosts, a very interesting encounter that made me laugh out loud.

Maeve, one of the Book Club members, was one of my favourite characters in the book – witty, laugh out loud funny and extremely straight talking.

The ex-husband Max was frustrating and irritating in equal measures. Thinking he could have his cake and eat it, I am glad Annie finally had some self respect to show him she couldn’t be treated in this way.

‘The Winter of Second Chances’ is a book that made me feel all warm and fuzzy, perfect for those cold winter nights. Highly recommended!

Buy your copy now…

#BlogTour Bob the Bear’s Adventures by Alice Chambers

About the Book

This beautiful and engaging story, the first in the Bob the Bear series, is written by a former Kindergarten manager and teacher specifically to appeal to pre-schoolers. Bob the Bear’s Adventures is a fabulous way to engage with young children, inspire them to play, and offers so many opportunities to entertain, educate and explore! With photos bringing the story to life, children will enjoy being read this story by teachers, carers, parents and loved ones. 

Bob the Bear tries to hide in Alice’s garden but is always discovered… and seems to love climbing more than hiding! Please join Bob the Bear on his hiding expeditions and see if you can find him! He is sure to bring a smile and a giggle for both little ones and big ones when playing hide and seek. 

My Thoughts

‘Bob the Bear’s Adventures’ is a lovely little book that was very much enjoyed by my toddler. As ‘Hide and Seek’ is one of my little ones favourite games, she really enjoyed finding Bob the Bear in the photographs, many of which made her laugh as his hiding places are not always the best. The story itself is told through the dialogue between Alice and Bob, although I felt that once you had read it through the pictures themselves provided lots of talking points. So when we read it for the second time we just spoke about the images. We read this story just before bed but I will most certainly read it again during the day as I feel it is a story my daughter would like to recreate in the garden with her own teddy bear.

The book reminded me of the diary I used to have for our class teddy when I taught in the early years therefore I could see many children relating to it, especially preschool children.

A lovely story which will effectively engage young children and promote discussion. I look forward to seeing where Bob goes next on his adventures.

About the Author

Alice Chambers has always loved little ones and went to Teacher’s Training college, after which she ran a kindergarten and taught six year olds in West London. Alice started writing children’s stories over 43 years ago, including a book called Scratch McPatch and Sniff McWhiff.

Bob the Bear’s Adventures is dedicated to Alice’s husband, Bob, who wore glasses and loved wearing his waistcoats. Now Alice is a Nonna and loves being with her grandchildren Elliot and Zara. Bob the Bear was created after Alice knitted a large bear with a waistcoat and glasses for the children to play with. Bob the Bear tries to hide in Alice’s garden but is always discovered and seems to love climbing more than hiding.

Please join Bob the Bear on his hiding expeditions and see if you can find him! Maybe you can think of some fun places for Bob to hide so he doesn’t get found when playing hide and seek? He is sure to bring a smile and a giggle for both little ones and big ones when playing hide and seek.

#BookReview – The Cornish Village School: Breaking the Rules by Kitty Wilson

The Blurb

Rosy Winter is definitely not looking for love.

Following heartbreak, Rosy has rebuilt her life in the beautiful Cornish village of Penmenna. Now headmistress of the local school, she is living by The Rule: no dating anyone in the village. Easy, right? But Rosy Winter has a new neighbour, handsome gardener Matt.

In Penmenna for his new gardening TV show, this guy next door will do everything he can to persuade her to break her rule and win her heart. Meanwhile, Penmenna Village School is threatened with closure and it’s up to Rosy to rally the local community and #SaveOurSchool.

Can she bring her worlds together and accept help from the most unlikely of sources?

My Thoughts

I appreciate that I am a little late to the party, but I loved this book and can’t believe I haven’t had the pleasure of reading Kitty Wilson’s books before now! I had barely closed the book before I was downloading Book 2 to my kindle to get started right away.

As a teacher in a small village school I could completely relate to so many aspects of the story. Kitty is either a teacher or has most certainly done her homework as there were so many small intricacies that rung true.

The story itself is rather predictable but that is what is so lovely about it, there are no big surprises it is just a lovely story with a happy ending. A very easy and enjoyable read that I will be highly recommending.

Buy your copy now…

#BookReview – We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza

The Blurb

Not every story is black and white.

Riley and Jen have been best friends since they were children, and they thought their bond was unbreakable. It never mattered to them that Riley is black and Jen is white. And then Jen’s husband, a Philadelphia police officer, is involved in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager and everything changes in an instant.

This one act could destroy more than just Riley and Jen’s friendship. As their community takes sides, so must Jen and Riley, and for the first time in their lives the lifelong friends find themselves on opposing sides.

But can anyone win a fight like this?

We Are Not Like Them is about friendship and love. It’s about prejudice and betrayal. It’s about standing up for what you believe in, no matter the cost.

My Thoughts

This is most certainly a very current book that highlights all that the Black Lives Matter movement stands for. It is insightful and packed with so many themes that will promote some very intense discussions, making it an excellent Book Club choice.

Being co-authored is what makes ‘We Are Not Like Them’ so successful. Hearing the story from two different perspectives gave it so much more depth and meaning. I wasn’t quite sure how well the story would flow being written by two people, but it worked really well and both authors should be extremely proud of what they have achieved. Their different styles work well together and the book flows naturally.

There were a couple of aspects of the story that I found it difficult to relate to, one of which is that Jen seems very naive to the whole race issue and appears to be oblivious to the struggles of her so -called best friend, something that struck me as odd and not very plausible. In addition, Riley’s relationship was hindered because of an incident with her younger brother that is revealed near the end of the book. In my opinion, the incident was made into a very big event and I was surprised at how small and insignificant it was, it was a bit of an anti-climax.

Overall, this is an excellent read and I very much enjoyed it!

Buy your copy now…

#BookReview Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker

‘Call Me Mummy’ is a book I have been hearing about a lot and I was so excited to get started on it. I can safely say that it did not disappoint!

The Blurb

CALL ME MUMMY. IT’LL BE BETTER IF YOU DO.

Glamorous, beautiful Mummy has everything a woman could want. Except for a daughter of her very own. So when she sees Kim – heavily pregnant, glued to her phone and ignoring her eldest child in a busy shop – she does what anyone would do. She takes her. But foul-mouthed little Tonya is not the daughter that Mummy was hoping for.

As Tonya fiercely resists Mummy’s attempts to make her into the perfect child, Kim is demonised by the media as a ‘scummy mummy’, who deserves to have her other children taken too. Haunted by memories of her own childhood and refusing to play by the media’s rules, Kim begins to spiral, turning on those who love her.

Though they are worlds apart, Mummy and Kim have more in common than they could possibly imagine. But it is five-year-old Tonya who is caught in the middle…

My Thoughts

What makes a good Mum? Having a nice house with a well manicured lawn? Wearing beautiful and expensive clothes? Money? At first glance ‘Mummy’, the woman who kidnaps Tonya, appears to be the woman who can give her a good life with her nice house, nice clothes and plenty of money. This is in comparison to her stay-at-home, violent and aggressive Mum Kim, who is an ex-addict. From the outset it was really difficult not to judge Kim, but as the book slowly scrapes away all of the superficial aspects of life we use to judge others, and delves deeper into her thoughts and feelings, we learn what Kim is really like as a Mum.

Call Me Mummy was gripping from the very first page! As a Mum of a toddler and a newborn my emotions ran high throughout. Never before have I willed my baby to wake up in the night so I could continue reading, eager to get to the end and praying it will end as I hope. I really liked the style of writing in that it is told through both ‘Mummy’ and Kim’s perspectives with a few snippets of what Tonya is thinking and feeling.

Call Me Mummy is extremely well-paced, gripping and an absolute page-turner. A fantastic debut! I cannot wait to see what Tina Baker comes up with next.

Buy your copy now…

#BookReview – The Maid by Nita Prose

The Blurb

I am your maid. I know so much about you. But what do you know about me?

Molly the Maid is all alone in the world. A nobody. She’s used to being invisible in her job at the Regency Grand Hotel, plumping pillows and wiping away the grime, dust and secrets of tae guests who pass through. She’s just a maid – why should anyone take notice?

But Molly is thrown into the spotlight when she discovers an infamous guest, Mr Black, very dead in his bad. This isn’t a mess that can be easily cleaned up. And so Molly becomes embroiled in a hunt for the truth, learning who to trust as she navigates the secret underbelly of the Regency Grand Hotel.

Escapist, charming, and introducing a truly original heroine, The Maid is a story about how everyone deserves to be seen, and how the truth isn’t always black and white – it’s often found in the dirtier, grey areas in between

My Thoughts

My favourite read of the year so far. Absolutely fantastic!

Molly the Maid reminded me so much of Eleanor Oliphant. Others see her as ‘odd’, ‘weird’ and ‘strange’ but she is simply an innocent and naive young woman who was heavily reliant on her late Gran to help her understand the world. With her Gran gone, she finds it difficult to read social situations and, as a result, gets caught up in an unfortunate set of circumstances leading to her unfair arrest.

Nita Prose teaches us through this book that happiness isn’t about how much money you earn or what clothes you wear, it is the simple things in life that bring us joy and Molly is a testament to that as she finds love and happiness in her simple ways of life.

Misunderstood and underestimated, Molly is such a well created and highly developed character that I will not be forgetting in a hurry. Nita Prose is certainly an author I will be watching closely and I can’t wait to see what she produces next.

A phenomenal read and a remarkable debut, an absolute must have book!

The Maid is out in Jan 2022.

Pre-order your copy now…

#BookReview A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

The Blurb

THE SCORCHING NEW THRILLER FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN and INTO THE WATER

‘What is wrong with you?’

Laura has spent most of her life being judged. She’s seen as hot-tempered, troubled, a loner. Some even call her dangerous. 

Miriam knows that just because Laura is witnessed leaving the scene of a horrific murder with blood on her clothes, that doesn’t mean she’s a killer. Bitter experience has taught her how easy it is to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Carla is reeling from the brutal murder of her nephew. She trusts no one: good people are capable of terrible deeds. But how far will she go to find peace? 

Innocent or guilty, everyone is damaged. Some are damaged enough to kill.

Look what you started.

My Thoughts

Another great read by ‘Paula Hawkins’, I was thrilled that my wish was granted on Netgalley. The characters are generally not very likeable and all have their own issues which make them prime suspects in the murder of Daniel, whose body is found on the house boat he is living in. That being said, I had so much sympathy for Laura, she clearly has her own physical, mental and emotional issues to deal with and it is clear that she puts so much effort into trying to behave in a way that is considered ‘normal’. Although this is a real challenge for her and she makes some very wrong decisions along the way, finding it impossible not to share exactly what she is thinking.

‘A Slow Burning Fire,’ is well written and very well developed. So many stories weaved together and although it is a slow burner as the title would suggest, it is dark and full of suspense making it well worth sticking with.

A Slow Burning Fire will be released on 31st August 2021. Pre-order your copy now!

#BookReview You Again? by Nick Spalding

The Blurb

From the bestselling author of Dumped, Actually comes a hilarious, heartfelt story about marriage, divorce and what the hell happens next.

Amy and Joel’s honeymoon in the Maldives was the perfect week of love, sun, sex and a free minibar…but unfortunately, it was also the high point of a marriage that quickly descended into an absolute disaster zone.

Eight years on, they’re back in paradise, trying to recreate the magic with new partners. What a crying shame they’ve picked the same week to do it…

Trapped together on an island small enough to spit across with the wind behind you, Amy and Joel pick up right where they left off: at total loggerheads. And so begins a hideous week of rivalry, one-upmanship and score-settling—as each tries to prove they’ve now comprehensively won at life.

The thing is, hurt and pain are strongest where there was once love. And what if being back in this island paradise, with all its wonderful memories, sets sparks flying in more ways than one?

My Thoughts

I really like Spalding’s style of writing and sense of humour having read quite a few of his books and so I was excited when my Netgalley request for ‘You Again?’ was accepted. The story switches between Amy and Joel’s point of view, which I enjoyed as it allows the reader to find out more about the characters and get into their head a little. I definitely did not like Amy at the beginning but as the story progressed I warmed to her. But I really need to mention Ray, Amy’s fiancé, as he was by far the most likeable, insightful and mature character. I just loved him!

I can’t deny that ‘You Again?’ is extremely predictable but I don’t think it is meant to anything else. It is full of humour and is an easy and highly enjoyable read. Another triumph for Nick Spalding!

Buy your copy now…