13.7.18

BOOK REVIEW: Our Kind of Cruelty by Amarinta Hall


Mike understands that most of us travel through the world as one half of a whole, desperately searching for that missing person to make us complete.
But he and Verity are very different. They have found each other and nothing and no one will tear them apart. It doesn’t matter that Verity is marrying another man.
It’s all just part of a plan: you see, Verity and Mike play a game together, a secret game they call ‘the crave’, the aim being to demonstrate what they both know: that Verity needs Mike, and only Mike. Verity’s upcoming marriage is the biggest game she and Mike have ever played. And it’s for the highest stakes.
Except this time, in order for Mike and Verity to be together someone has to die…
Publisher: Century
Pages: 351
The only other book I have read by Amarinta Hall is her novel Dot which was published in 2013. Our Kind of Cruelty has a very different feel and I thought it was fantastic. It is a dark, twisted, psychological thriller which raises many relevant questions about women and sexuality.
Mike and Verity play a game called ‘The Crave’ where Verity will wait to be approached by another man while Mike watches, he will them come over and break it up, claiming Verity as his own. It gives them both a sexual thrill and it’s a game they have been playing for years. But now, Verity is getting married and Mike is n
ot the potential groom. Surely this is the biggest version of the crave they have ever played? The stakes are high but who is really in control of the game?
I devoured this book in a single day, I just couldn’t stop reading. I love the way Araminta Hall set the story up, the reader is aware of the game from the very beginning and then she gradually reveals more about Mike and Verity. The plot and writing are tantalising and dangerous. I was very impressed with how the author keeps you guessing to the very last page.
Our Kind of Cruelty looks at women and their sexuality which feels very relevant considering the Times Up campaign etc. Araminta Hall highlights how it is often seen as acceptable for men to explore their sexual needs and likes but it is still frowned upon for a woman to do the same. Verity is ashamed of the games her and Mike have played and people’s reaction to her involvement is very different to how they treat Mike’s role in it all.
I am so impressed by this book, Araminta Hall has written an obsessive, dark and addictive psychological thriller. I can highly recommend Our Kind of Cruelty.
Many thanks to Century Books for sending me a copy to review.



12.7.18

BOOK REVIEW: A Family Recipe by Veronica Henry


Laura Griffin is preparing for an empty nest. The thought of Number 11 Lark Hill falling silent- a home usually bustling with noise, people, and the fragrant smells of something cooking on the Aga- seems impossible.
Feeling lost, Laura turns to her greatest comfort: her grandmother’s recipe box, a treasured collection dating back to the Second World War. Everyone has always adored Laura’s jams and chutneys, piled their sandwiches high with her pickles. Inspired by a bit of the old Blitz spirit, Laura has an idea that gives her a fresh sense of purpose and her own exciting path to follow.
But even the bravest woman needs the people who love her. And now they need her in return…
Publisher: Orion
Pages: 382
It’s been a while since I read anything by Veronica Henry but I have loved her latest book, A Family Recipe. The story follows Laura as she waves her youngest daughter away to university. As if that’s not hard enough, Laura then receives some shocking news that rocks her whole world. Suddenly she has a very empty nest and too much time on her hands. Laura turns to her grandmother’s recipe box which she has added to over the years. She loves cooking and entertaining people, maybe this is where her future lies?
Veronica Henry flits between Laura and her husband Dom in the present and then Laura’s grandmother Jilly and her friend Ivy during the Blitz. Number 11 Lark Hill connects both of these periods, a beautiful regency house in Bath that has provided a home and sanctuary to both lead female characters.

A Family Recipe is a really lovely read, I sat and read it in the garden in the sunshine, it would be a great book to take on holiday. Veronica Henry starts with quite a shock for Laura and Jilly so you are straight into the action. I loved how the book went back and forth and it was a clever way to show how many things don’t change. Relationships can always be tricky, families can be a huge source of support but also worry and underlying everything is the sheer importance of friendship.
The setting of Bath was perfect, I have visited many times but Henry provides gorgeous descriptions of the buildings and atmosphere. The house is a huge part of the book and it was interesting to see that even though it had changed, it was still at the heart of the family.
I can highly recommend A Family Recipe, the story is excellent and the characters are delightful.



11.7.18

BLOG TOUR: Sticks and Stones By Jo Jakeman


I'm so pleased to be on the blog tour today for Sticks and Stones by Jo Jakeman- my review is only short as I don't want to give the plot away but I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I hope the author has plenty more up her sleeve! 
Imogen’s husband is a bad man.
His ex-wife and his new mistress might have different perspectives but Imogen thinks she knows the truth. And now he’s given her an ultimatum: get out of the family home in the next fortnight or I’ll fight you for custody of our son.
In a moment of madness, Imogen does something unthinkable: she locks her husband in the cellar. Now she’s in control. But how far will she go to protect her son and punish her husband? And what will happen when his ex and his girlfriend get tangled up in her plans?
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Pages: 353
Publication Date: 12th July
Sticks and Stones is being touted as the buzz book of The Frankfurt Book Fair 2017 and I can see why. It feels very professional and slick and it is hard to believe that this is Jo Jakeman’s debut thriller.
Imogen is a very interesting character, she is the product of an abusive marriage. At time she is compliant and doubting and at others she shows great strength and determination. She becomes entangled with the other women in her ex-husband’s life and they become a powerful force.
When Imogen first locked Philip in the cellar, I wasn’t entirely sure if I found it believable but as events developed I was completely invested in the story. Jo Jakeman successfully shows some of the fear and desperation experienced by victims of domestic abuse. She explored how people can be manipulated and have their perceptions of themselves so that they can be controlled.
I think Sticks and Stones will be a hugely popular book this year; it is difficult to put down and I think we can expect more in the  future from Jo Jakeman.


10.7.18

BOOK REVIEW: Mine by Susi Fox


The baby in the cot is not your baby
You wake up alone after an emergency caesarean, desperate to see your child. But when you are shown the small infant, a terrible thought seizes you: this baby is not mine.
They say you are delusional
No one believes you. Not the nurses, your father or even your own husband. They say you’re confused. Dangerous. But you’re a doctor- you know how easily mistakes can be made. Or even deliberate ones.
Everyone is against you; do you trust your instincts? Or is your traumatic past clouding your judgement? You know only one thing. You must find your baby.
Publisher: Penguin
Pages:340
Mine is the debut book by Susi Fox who is also a GP, it’s a gripping thriller, designed to keep you turning the pages.
Sasha wakes up in hospital after an emergency C-Section and is presented with a baby she is sure isn’t hers. As a doctor, she knows mistakes can happen and she is certain they have given her the wrong baby. We follow as Sasha tries to convince those around her that a terrible mistake has taken place, she is desperate to get to the truth and her real baby.
I enjoyed Mine, the plot was well paced and the use of an unreliable narrator was very clever. You are never too sure if Sasha is revealing everything, has she really been given the wrong baby or is something else going on?
I appreciated some of the medical infMine was unexpected but it did make me think that I would be very interested to read another book by this author in the future.
ormation which the author is obviously well placed to use but I felt it was a little heavy in places and detracted from the plot slightly. The ending of
Many thanks to Penguin for sending me a copy of this book to review.



9.7.18

BOOK REVIEW: The Rest of Me by Katie Marsh


They say ‘write what you know’ and that is exactly what Katie Marsh has done with her new novel. The Rest of Me.
It’s the story of Alex, a woman who organises the lives of her ailing husband Sam and their two daughters, lurching from to-do lists to wall planners without ever finding time to be kind to herself. She works full-time and is always under pressure, dashing from work to pick-ups to home without ever having time to breathe.
Alex is also a “self-bully”. She constantly sets herself new targets and berates herself when she doesn’t meet them. She focuses on what’s going wrong, never giving herself credit for anything that has gone well. Her inner voice is permanently set to critical.
When Alex gives her husband Sam a kidney to save his life she opens herself up to complications she didn’t foresee, which strains her marriage and her relationship with her daughters- eventually forcing her to stop running and to face up to a past she has buried for years.
The Rest of Me is about what happens when Alex confronts the mistakes and secrets that shaped her, and learns to be kinder to herself.
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 392
The Rest of Me is Katie Marsh’s fourth novel but the first of hers that I have read. I found it to be a very up-lifting read, Katie Marsh is warm and witty and not afraid to explore emotive subjects.
Alex is a driven and focused career woman; she’s had to be recently as her husband Sam has been very ill so she has had to support the whole family physically and financially. The book begins with Alex making a huge sacrifice, in order to save Sam, she donates her own kidney. In her head, getting Sam better will solve everything. But after the operation, Alex suffers some complications and everything is under strain again, her marriage, family and career. Alex’s troubles lead her to confront her past and most importantly to realise just how critical she is of herself. She is her own worst enemy, setting herself unrealistic targets and then ultimately punishing herself when she fails to meet them. If Alex wants a better future for her and Sam and their daughters Jenna and Izzy then she must learn to be kinder to herself.
I found the relationship between Alex and her daughters particularly interesting. I could identify with the complex relationship between a mother and daughter and how sometimes when you are trying to help your child, you inadvertently push them away.
The front of this proof copy suggested that fans of Jojo Moyes and Amanda Prowse would enjoy this and I agree. The story is emotive and touching without being overly sentimental. I think this will be a very popular summer read.
Many thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for sending me a copy of the book to review.




26.6.18

BLOG TOUR: The Mum Who'd Had Enough by Fiona Gibson

I'm so pleased to be on the blog tour today for Fiona Gibson's fab new book, The Mum Who'd Had Enough, here's the synopsis:

After sixteen years of marriage, Nate and Sinead Turner have a nice life. They like their jobs, they like their house and they love their son Flynn. Yes, it’s a very nice life.
Or, at least Nate thinks so. Until, one morning, he wakes to find Sinead gone and a note lying on the kitchen table listing all the things he does wrong or doesn’t do at all.
Nate needs to show Sinead he can be a better husband – fast. But as he works through Sinead’s list, his life changes in unexpected ways. And he starts to wonder whether he wants them to go back to normal after all. Could there be more to life than nice?

If this has whet your appetite then check out the extract below and then go and get a copy!!

Outside school, a couple of other latecomers are shambling up the wide stone steps behind Flynn. It’s a proud and well-kept Victorian building, a state school with a broad cultural mix. Flynn has always gone to mainstream school, with extra support when needed, all closely monitored by Sinead; she’s fought his corner all the way. ‘She’s a powerhouse,’ her old college friend Michelle reminded me once, and of course I agreed. There was a pause, and Michelle added, rather belated, ‘And you are too, of course!’
I watch as the other boys scamper up the last few steps to catch up with my son. How carefree they look, how breezy and laid-back, unencumbered as they are by tax returns and remembering to put the bins out. Sure, they might have flunked the odd maths test – but they haven’t yet failed at anything terribly important, anything that might mark them out as poor excuses for human beings. The boys stop and laugh loudly at something (thank God Flynn can still laugh – for now) and disappear into the building together.
I should have been a better, more proactive and useful man, I realise now. Sinead has deserved more from me. No matter how challenging it’s been bringing up Flynn, she has never once moaned or expressed a jot of self-pity. She adores being his mother – considers it an absolute privilege – and has often said that, where our boy is concerned, she would not change a single thing—
Bang-bang!
My heart lurches.
‘Nate?’ A thin blonde woman, whom I vaguely recognise, is rapping sharply on the driver’s side window. ‘Nate,’ she repeats, leaning closer, ‘are you okay?’
I fumble to lower the window. ‘Erm, yes – I’m fine, thank you.’ I assume she is something to do with school, but I can’t remember her name. Sinead is so much better at that stuff than I am, efficiently filing the names of every teacher and medical practitioner, every cub leader and all the parents and their children and their pets that we have ever encountered in her colossal brain. A powerhouse.

The book is out now! Many thanks to Harper Collins for inviting me on the blog tour, don't forget to check out the other stops! 

22.6.18

BLOG TOUR: Mad by Chloe Esposito

Thanks for joining me on the blog tour today for Chloe Esposito's exciting new book, Mad! It is hotly tipped to be THE book of the Summer so here's the synopsis:

Beth has always been the golden girl, leaving her identical twin, Alvie, in her shadow. She has everything Alvie ever wanted- the money, the hot husband, the cute baby, the fast car. So when she invites Alvie for seven sin-drenched days at her luxury villa in Sicily, Alvie accepts. Just because Alvie can't stand Beth doesn't mean she can't enjoy a slice of her decadent lifestyle.
But her usually goody-two-shoes twin has a hidden agenda. And when the sisters swap identities for the day, it ends badly for Beth. Very badly.
It's Alvie's chance to steal the life that she deserves. If she can get away with it.

Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 387

Mad by Chloe Esposito is being billed as the must-have beach read of the Summer and it is easy to see why. Espositio crams so much into this book- lies, murder, sex, glamour and deceit- it is the perfect book to take on holiday.
Alvie and Beth are twins, they are identical in appearance but could not be more different in their life choices and personalities. Beth invites Alvie on holiday to stay with her and her husband in their beautiful villa in Sicily. Alvie hasn't seen her sister for a few years and hasn't even met her nephew yet plus she's not got anything better to do in the UK so she agrees to go. She steps into Beth's glamorous world, the beautiful home, the handsome husband and extreme wealth. Yet something is off, Beth is not her usual perfect self and then she asks Alvie to swap places with her for a few hours but refuses to tell her why. Alvie agrees to the plan but she has no idea what she is letting herself in for, being Beth may not be as perfect as it seems.
Mad is a fantastic debut from Chloe Esposito. I was so impressed with the pace that she kept up throughout the book. The story and it's characters are very exciting, you can easily picture the glamorous world that Beth inhabits and how alluring it all is to Alvie.
Mad is full of mystery from the moment Beth asks Alvie to swap with her. The reader is constantly chasing the next thread as we discover the truth behind Beth's life in Sicily . This is fantastic as it makes you want to keep turning the pages to discover more.
The book does have several sex scenes, very much in keeping with this genre. Mad reminded me a little of some of Jackie Collins' books, it is fast, sexy and a little dangerous.
Chloe Esposito has written a trilogy and Bad, the next in the series is out in July, I will definitely be taking that one on holiday!

Many thanks to Penguin for sending me a copy of the book and inviting me to take part in the tour! 

BOOK REVIEW: Our Kind of Cruelty by Amarinta Hall

Mike understands that most of us travel through the world as one half of a whole, desperately searching for that missing person to make us...