BOOK REVIEW: Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

Everything changed the night Flora disappeared.
Heather and Jess were best friends until the night Heather's sister vanished.
Jess has never forgiven herself for the lie she told that night. Nor has Heather. But now Heather is accused of a terrible crime.
And Jess is forced to return to the sleepy seaside town where they grew up, to ask the question she's avoided for so long:
What really happened the night Flora disappeared?

Publisher: Michael Joseph

Then She Vanishes is a well paced and beautifully plotted psychological thriller. Jess returns to the seaside town she grew up in but this time in her role as a journalist. She discovered that her childhood friend Heather is accused of shooting dead a mother and son in their own home. Heather has a tragic past, her sister Flora went missing and her father was killed in a tragic accident at their home. Jess cannot believe that her old friend is capable of murder and her investigation leads her to finally ask questions about the summer that Flora disappeared.
Claire Douglas takes you into the thick of it from the very first chapter, I was so impressed with the pace that she set and maintained. The book flits between the present day and the summer that Flora disappeared. I thoroughly enjoyed both parts of the story and Douglas brings them together so well.
Then She Vanishes is full of secrets, every single character is hiding something from other characters. It's such a clever device as the reader is left guessing and you are never 100% sure who you can trust within the story.
Douglas includes many twists and turns along the way. I worked out a couple but then had the rug pulled out from under me when these were followed by more revelations.
Then She Vanishes is an excellent read that I can highly recommend. It is gritty, addictive and entirely believable.

Many thanks to Michael Joseph for allowing me to read a review copy via Netgalley.


BLOG TOUR: Meet Me in Cockleberry Bay by Nicola May

The cast of the runaway bestseller, The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay, are back- including Rosa, Josh, Mary, Jacob, Sheila, new mum Titch, and last but by no means least, Hot the adorable dachshund.
Newlywed, and with her inherited corner shop successfully up and running, Rosa Smith seems to have all that anyone could wish for. But the course of true love never did run smooth and Rosa's suspicions that her husband is having an affair have dire consequences.
Reaching rock bottom befo.re she can climb back to the top, fragile Rosa is forced to face her fears, addiction and jealousy head on. With a selection of meddling locals still at large, a mystery fire and Titch's frantic search for the real father of her sick baby, the second book in this enchanting series will take you on a further unpredictable journey of self-discovery.

I loved The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay by Nicola May so I was very excited to be reunited with these fabulous characters again. Meet Me in Cockleberry Bay continues the story where we left off, Rosa is happily married to Josh and has her beloved shop up and running and her faithful companion Hot at her side. But instead of being happy and content, Rosa is questioning her relationship with Josh and has to support her friends who are also going through troubled times. Will she get her happy ending or do they not really exist?
Nicola May is so clever at creating characters that you really care about; it was so lovely to be in the company of Rosa and the others again, a bit like meeting up with old friends. May does not shy away from the more difficult issues; it would be easy to present an idyllic life for Rosa now but the author shows how life does not work like that. The reality of Josh working away in London and Rosa running the shop proves difficult and Rosa begins to suspect that Josh is having an affair. May keeps you guessing and I was worried that Rosa was sabotaging her own happiness and future.
Don't worry, it's not all doom and gloom, I think Nicola May gets the balance just right and there are many humorous moments within the story.
I particularly enjoyed the story line with Titch and how May developed her and Rosa's friendship within this book. Titch has a really tough time with her new baby and it is touching to see how loyal and supportive Rosa is of her friend.
Meet Me in Cockleberry Bay is a fantastic read and I can highly recommend this series of books from the lovely Nicola May.



The very lovely team at Harvill Secker got in touch to tell me about their new publication, Lost You by Haylen Beck. Here's the synopsis to whet your appetite:

When a little boy goes missing, his mother desperately wants to find him . . . before someone else does. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Shari Lapena and Cara Hunter.

Libby would do anything for her three-year-old son Ethan. And after all they’ve been through, a holiday seems the perfect antidote for them both. Their hotel is peaceful, safe and friendly, yet Libby can’t help feeling that someone is watching her. Watching Ethan. Because, for years, Libby has lived with a secret.
Just days into their holiday, when Libby is starting to relax, Ethan steps into an elevator on his own, and the doors close before Libby can stop them. Moments later, Ethan is gone.
Libby thought she had been through the worst, but her nightmare is only just beginning. And in a desperate hunt for her son, it becomes clear she’s not the only one looking for him.
Who will find him first?

Sounds good doesn't it! Harvill Secker have kindly offered to send a reader of Dot Scribbles a paperback copy of the book so you can enjoy it yourself. This is open to UK residents only, simply leave a comment below and I shall pick a random winner. Entry closes midnight on Thursday 4th July! 


BOOK REVIEW: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Beware the evil in the woods...
In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.
But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories, she alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods...

Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 456

The Bear and the Nightingale was recommended to me and I'll be honest that it was not a book that I would have naturally picked up. I'm so glad of the recommendation though as I loved it. It is the first in the Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden and I will definitely read the next two.
Set in northern Russia, the story is centred around Vasya, a young girl who it would seem has the ability to see spirits. She is fierce and independent and the local villagers fear her and talk of her as a witch.
Father Konstantine arrives in the village, he is determined to turn the villagers away from their folklore and traditions and to make them fearful and obedient servants to God. Vasya does not fit into his plan and she is soon doing all she can to protect her people and appease the spirits, a thankless task that places her in great danger. Vasya attracts the attention of the feared Winter King and she has a huge dilemma. How can she protect those she loves whilst remaining true to herself whilst pursuing the life she would like
There is so much packed into this beautiful  story, power, religion, superstition, folklore, politics, feminism, I really was pleasantly surprised by how much Katherine Arden included.
I loved how she layered all of these aspects of the story, her story telling is captivating and left me with so much to consider.
The Bear and the Nightingale is focused on Russian folklore, I very much enjoyed learning about this culture and how their beliefs could often be challenged by emerging Christian ideology.
Vasya is such a fantastic character, I was totally in awe of her by the end of the book. She is a particularly strong female character; even when it seems that everything and everyone is against her, she does not buckle.
The Bear and the Nightingale was far out of my comfort zone but I can't wait to read the next two in the series plus try others from this fantastic genre.


BOOK REVIEW: Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

In this game, even winning can be deadly...Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it’s naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way—a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.When they’re alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn’t give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she’s going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.To protect herself and her family and save the life she’s built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can’t beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.

Publisher: Raven
Pages: 391
Published: July 2019

This is going to be a tough one to review without giving the plot away but I shall try my best! Never Have I Ever focuses on Amy who is happy and content until Roux turns up in her neighbourhood. A complete stranger, Roux reveals that she knows Amy's awful secret from her past and she reveal it unless she gets exactly what she wants. Amy's whole world is turned upside down, she has made a lovely life for herself in her small town community but nobody knows about her past, not even her husband. So begins a cat and mouse game as Amy tries to stay ahead of Roux who is holding everything Amy holds dear in her manipulative and calculating hands. 
Never Have I Ever is a great read, the plot flows perfectly and keeps you guessing. I enjoyed the many twists along the way but the final one totally threw me. I hadn't had the slightest suspicion, it was brilliant. 
The small town setting lends itself to the plot, it reminded me of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. It adds a very intense atmosphere to the book as there is nowhere for Amy to hide. Roux has come into the heart of Amy's world and is threatening to destroy it. 
Roux is a very interesting character, she is pretty terrifying in just how ruthless she is. As a reader you know that she has set her sights on Amy and is determined to see her plan through, no matter the cost. 
Joshilyn Jackson has written an excellent thriller which I can highly recommend.

Many thanks to Raven for allowing me to review this book via Netgalley. 


BLOG TOUR: Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams

All anyone wants is to make a connection. Nadia gets the 07.30 train every morning without fail. Well, except if she oversleeps or wakes up at her friend Emma's after too much wine.
Daniel really does get the 07.30 train every morning, which is easy because he hasn't been able to sleep properly since his dad died.
One morning, Nadia's eye catches sight of a post in the daily paper:
'To the cute girl with the coffee stains on her dress. I'm the guy who's always standing near the doors... Drink sometime?'
So begins a not-quite romance of near-misses, true love and the power of the written word. 

Publisher: Avon
Pages: 361

I was so excited to be invited to be part of the blog tour for Laura Jane Williams' fictional debut, Our Stop. I'm a big fan of Laura on Instagram and used to love her column in Red magazine. Our Stop is exactly what I expected from her, it is fresh, honest, witty and easy to relate to.
Nadia and Daniel regularly catch the 07.30 train on their way to work. Daniel has noticed Nadia and places an advert in a newspaper asking her to go for a drink sometime. Once Nadia has accepted that she is the girl in the advert she replies and so it begins. Nadia and Daniel have many near misses and we follow their story to see if they will ever make a connection.
In the main, the book is written from either Nadia or Daniel's perspective. This gave it a quirky Sliding Doors feel as  they often  miss each other by mere minutes or have actually been in the same place at the same time without realising.
I was quite surprised by the fact that I liked Daniel more than I liked Nadia but he just seemed much more genuine and interesting. Nadia seemed more closed off but that may just have been me.
I enjoyed the way in which the author gradually introduced the characters. We get to know them pretty well before she puts them in situations together.
One of my favourite parts of the book was Laura Jane Williams' depiction of London within the book. I finished the story with a large list of places that I want to visit next time that I am in the capital. Her descriptions were vivid and the vibrant and lively atmosphere she created was a perfect addition to the plot.
Our Stop would be a fantastic book to take on holiday, it would be great for lounging in the sun with. I think that Laura has written a book that many will relate to, especially those in new relationships. I hope she goes on to write more fiction as I believe this will be a hit.

Many thanks to Avon for inviting me to be part of the tour and for sending me a copy of the book to review, make sure you check out the other blogs taking part!


BOOK REVIEW: Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

Grace thought she had it all. Living in the beautiful village of Little Ollington, along with headteacher husband Mark and gorgeous son, Archie, she devoted herself to being the perfect mum and the perfect wife, her little family giving her everything she ever wanted.
Until that fateful day when she walked in on Mark kissing his secretary- and her perfect life fell apart.
Now she's a single Mum to Archie, trying to find her way in life and keep things together for his sake. Saturday nights consist of a Chinese takeaway eaten in front of the TV, clad in greying pyjamas, and she can't remember the last time she had a kiss form anyone aside from her dog, Becks.
Grace's life needs a shake-up fast. So when gorgeous gardener Vinnie turns up, his twinkling eyes suggesting that he might be interested in more than just her conifers, she might just have found the answers to her prayers. But as Grace falls deeper for Vinnie, ten-year-old Archie fears that his mum finding love means she'll never reconcile with the dad he loves.
So when ex-husband Mark begs her for another chance, telling her he's changed from the man that broke her heart, Grace finds herself with an impossible dilemma. Should she take back Mark and reunite the family that Archie loves? Or risk it all for a new chance of happiness?

Publisher: Hera Books
Pages: 257.

Kim Nash is a big presence in the book blogging world and always goes above an beyond to champion other author's books. I was so excited when she revealed that she had written her debut novel and did not hesitate to pre-order it. Amazing Grace is a fantastic debut and Kim's experience in the world of publishing shines through.
Grace is a single mum to Archie after her husband, Mark cheated on her. She works at and estate agents but dreams of owning a book shop. Archie and her dog, Becks are her whole world. Whilst she doesn't mind staying in on a Saturday night, maybe it is time for a little more excitement. Her best friend, Monica sets her up on some blind dates but Grace already has her sights set on her handsome new gardener, Vinnie. Just when she thinks life is coming together, her ex, Mark pleads to reconcile. Grace knows how happy this would make Archie but what about her own happiness?
Amazing Grace is full of warmth and humour. I think the author has the right balance between wit and poignancy. I loved the parts concerning Grace's mum who has sadly passed away, their closeness is clear to see from the beginning.
Monica is Grace's best friend and the source of much of the humour in the story. She sets Grace up on some disastrous blind dates but they are every entertaining.
I think Kim was very honest in her portrayal of being a single mum. Archie is everything to her and you can understand why she considers Mark's proposal in order to make her son happier.
I very much enjoyed the blossoming relationship between Grace and Vinnie, there is a spark from the very first encounter and I loved how the author built upon this.
Amazing Grace is a delightful and assured debut, I can't wait to see what Kim Nash does next!

BOOK REVIEW: Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

Everything changed the night Flora disappeared. Heather and Jess were best friends until the night Heather's sister vanished. Jess has ...