Dot Scribbles


BOOK REVIEW: Million Love Songs by Carole Matthews

After splitting up with her cheating husband, Ruby Brown is ready for a change: she’s single for the first tome in years and is going to dive into this brave new world with a smile on her face and a spring in her step. The last thing she’s looking for is a serious relationship.
Mason represents everything Ruby wants right now: he’s charming, smooth and perfect for some no-strings attached fun. Joe on the other hand is kind and attractive, but comes with the sort of baggage Ruby wants to avoid: an annoyingly attractive ex-wife and two teenage children.
But although Ruby might think she knows what she wants, she might be surprised to learn just what she needs to be truly happy. Let your heart sing this Spring… with Million Love Songs.
Publisher: Sphere
Pages: 400
Paperback March 22nd

Carole Matthews publishes two books a year and I really don’t know how she does it! Million Love Songs is a warm, entertaining feel-good read with a slightly raunchier feel than Carole’s other books (You just wait and see what happens to Ruby when she visits Paris!).
Ruby Brown is recently divorced and definitely not looking for love; instead she is focusing on enjoying life and having some fun. But as is always the way when you’re not looking- Ruby finds herself with not one but two men pursuing her. Joe is her scuba-diving instructor, he’s handsome and kind but weighed down with so much baggage. Ruby loves spending time with him but the ex-wife and two sulky teenage children are ringing alarm bells. Suitor number two is Mason and he has his own complications in that he is Ruby’s boss; his family own the chain of pubs that Ruby works in. He is fit, rich and too smooth for his own good. So Ruby has a decision to make, two men, each with their own positives  but also complications; can either one make her truly happy?
I love Carole’s books, her main characters are always likeable and Ruby is no different. I loved how she was going out there, determined to have some fun after a messy divorce. She doesn’t always get it right but this just made her more believable and endearing.
Ruby’s best friend, Claire brings an extra element to the book; she is a  huge Gary Barlow fan (hence the title) and she follows her idol around the country hoping for a mere glimpse. Ruby tags along on a few of these trips and whilst making her a true Take That fan, they also make her realise that Ruby does want a relationship. Her friend is chasing someone unobtainable but Ruby has two available men in front of her that may offer her future happiness.
As I said before, this is probably Carole’s raunchiest book but I want to clarify that it is not done in a crude manner. I felt that she fitted the love scenes into the book in an appropriate way, they make the book feel a little more grown up and I think readers will welcome this slight change.
Million Love Songs shows Carole’s huge talent, the writing is excellent as usual, it’s a very entertaining read so go and get your copy! The hardback and e-book are already out and the paperback is published today!

Many thanks to Sphere for sending me a copy of the book to review, I will also be on the blog tour for this on March 31st! 


A Country Escape by Katie Fforde

Fran has always wanted to be a farmer. And now it looks as though her childhood dream is about to come true. She has just moved into a beautiful but very run-down farm in the Cotswolds, currently owned by an aunt who has told Fran that if she manages to turn the place around in a year, the farm will be hers.
But Fran knows nothing about farming. She might even be afraid of cows.
She’s going to need a lot of help from her best friend Issi, and also from her wealthy and very eligible neighbour who might just have his own reasons for being so supportive. Is it the farm he is interested in? Or Fran herself?

Publisher: Century

22nd Feb

A Country Escape by Katie Fforde is a lovely read. I’ve read a fair few of Katie’s books but not for a while, reading this one reminded me of just how good she is!
Fran is working as a chef in London when she is given the opportunity to take over her Great Aunty Amy’s farm and if she can turn the farm’s fortunes around in 12 months then Amy will ensure that Fran will inherit it. Fran knows absolutely nothing about farming and she has a small fear of cows but she is determined to make a go of it. After spending just a short time on the farm with her best friend Issie, she completely falls in love with country life and she wants the farm to succeed and continue more than anything. Yet she has so many obstacles to overcome; at the moment the farm is in debt so Fran needs to come up with a plan that will produce a long-term income but that is easier said than done. Plus she has caught the eye of Anthony Arlingham, the highly attractive and eligible next door neighbour. He goes out of his way to help Fran but Aunt Amy has insisted that he should not be trusted as he only wants to get his hands on the farm, who should Amy believe?
A Country Escape is witty, warm and very romantic. I liked Fran as a character and it was highly entertaining watching her get to grips with the farm. Katie Fforde’s writing is quite comforting and I found it such a lovely book to curl up on the sofa with, don’t miss out on this one!

Many thanks to Century for sending me a copy of the book to review. 


BOOK REVIEW: The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

Meet the ‘Keeper of Lost Things’…
Anthony Peardew has spent half his life collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.
Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all it’s lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.
But the final wishes of the ‘Keeper of Lost Things’ have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters…

Publisher: Two Roads
Pages: 302

I asked for this book for Christmas as I kept on coming across glowing reviews on people’s blogs and I now understand why, it is such a lovely book.
Laura inherits a beautiful house and all of it’s contents when her boss and friend dies. Anthony Peardew was an author but in the last part of his life he had been collecting lost objects; a whole room full of them and he knows that he can trust Laura to continue his work. So Laura is faced with the task of somehow returning these items to their original owner. They range from a single blue button to a biscuit tin full of somebody’s ashes. Daunted but determined, Laura sets out to fulfil Anthony’s wishes but she also has trouble at home to contend with. One of the rooms in the house has locked from the inside and a record keeps playing without being anywhere near the record player. Something in the house is not happy so Laura must solve this mystery too.
The Keeper of Lost Things is a wonderful book; it felt timeless and magical and it was one of those books that I didn’t want to end. Even a few days after finishing, I have found myself thinking of the characters and their individual stories. Also I have become very aware of ‘lost objects’ and I’ve caught myself wondering about where they have come from and who they belong to.
Ruth Hogan is an excellent story-teller; I felt as though everything in the book was beautifully vivid, the characters, the house and the objects themselves. Her characters leap off the page at you, even the unlikable ones! I highly recommend this book, it is a life affirming read full of love, hope and a mystery or two.


BOOK REVIEW: Stand By Me by S.D. Robertson

They’ll always  have each other… won’t they?
Lisa and Elliot have been best friends since the day they met as children.
Twenty years later, life has pulled the pair apart and Lisa is struggling. Her marriage is floundering, her teenage kids are being secretive, and she’s so tired she can’t think straight. So when Elliot knocks on the door, she’s delighted to see her old friend again.
With Elliot back in their lives. Lisa’s family problems begin to improve. As their bond deepens, she realises how much she missed him, and prays this  is one friendship that will last a lifetime. But sometimes life has other ideas…

Publisher: Avon
Pages: 422
Stand By Me is a poignant and emotional read. Elliot and Lisa have been best friends since  childhood and even though Elliot now lives in Sydney- he would be there for Lisa in a heart beat and she for him.
Lisa is having a really tough time; her husband has lost his job and her children seem to becoming more and more distant. So it is a welcome surprise when Elliot knocks on her door, she is so pleased to see him. Yet he seems to be hiding something too and Lisa has no idea what it could be.
This book was not what I expected at all and I don’t want to give the plot away as that would spoil it for others. S.D. Robertson explores so many emotions within this book and also looks very closely at growing up. I enjoyed the parts of the book that dealt with Lisa and Elliot growing up and it was interesting to see this mirrored with Lisa’s two children who are experiencing their own issues with becoming young adults.
Stand By Me is an emotional and compelling read which I would highly recommend.

Many thanks to Avon for sending me a copy of the book, it is out now!


BOOK REVIEW: Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland

It’s time to turn the pages of her past…
Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never show you.
Into her refuge- the York book emporium where she works- come a poet, a lover, a friend, and three mysterious deliveries, each of which stirs unsettling memories.
Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past and she can’t hide any longer. She must decide who around her she can trust. Can she find the courage to right a heart-breaking wrong? And will she ever find the words to tell her own story?

Publisher: Zaffre

Pages: 352

Stephanie Butland has written a marvellous book. I’ll be honest, I did not know a huge amount about it when I bought it, I was completely swayed by it being set in a book shop but once I began reading, I discovered that it was about so much more.
Loveday Cardew works for Archie in his second-hand bookshop in York. She has had a tough start in life and she doesn’t have much but she loves her job and the shop has become her place of safety; more of a home than the flat she lives in. Stephanie Butland reveals Loveday’s story gradually throughout the book; the pace was perfect. There are a fair few surprises along the way and I struggled to put it down.
Loveday’s sanctuary is threatened when she becomes aware that somebody has discovered her past. A past she does not speak of. She was just beginning to enjoy some new found confidence and the start of a new relationship when she is forced to retreat and isolate herself; it is the only defence mechanism she knows. However, Loveday has glimpsed a future for herself so maybe it is time to confront the past instead of running from it?
Loveday is one of those literary characters that you don’t forget in a hurry. She is fierce, loveable and frightened; I felt so protective of her by the end of the book. Stephanie Butland spends a large part of the book looking at Loveday’s childhood and although some of this is quite dark; it added a very nostalgic feel to the book which I very much enjoyed.
My favourite character was Archie who owns the bookshop. Slightly eccentric but so loveable ; he is a calming element in Loveday’s life and the book. The bookshop itself almost felt like a character, I loved reading about it’s layout and the customers passing through.
The author delves into several quite difficult subjects within the book and I was impressed with the sensitivity and care in her approach.
In one way, Lost for Words is a book about books and the power and influence they have in many people’s lives but it is also a book about love and hope. Stephanie Butland has written a beautiful book that I urge you to read.


BOOK REVIEW: The Vanishing by Sophia Tobin

A story of intrigue and revenge…
On top of the Yorkshire Moors, in an isolated spot carved out of the barren landscape lies White Windows, a house of shadows and secrets. Here lives Marcus Twentyman, a hard-drinking but sensitive man and his sister Hester.
When Annaleigh, a young girl who has fled her home in London, finds herself at the remote house, engaged as housekeeper to the Twentymans, she discovers all is not as it seems behind closed doors.
Isolated and lonely, Annaleigh is increasingly drawn to her master. And as their relationship intensifies, she soon realises that her movements are being controlled and her life is no longer her own. Slowly she is drawn into a web of intrigue and darkness, and soon she must face  her fears if she is to save herself.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 388

The Vanishing is an intriguing read. It is very much in the gothic style and put me in mind of both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.
Set in 1814, Annaleigh has been sent to White Windows on the Yorkshire Moors to take up the position of housekeeper. The setting is desolate and the house suitably spooky and foreboding. She is to work for brother and sister Marcus and Hester Twentyman. Hester is a little nervous and protective and Marcus mysterious and unpredictable. Yet Annaleigh settles into the house well and they are pleased with her work. Just as Annaleigh begins to settle, questions are raised about Kate, the previous housekeeper who seemingly disappeared into the night. Hester is administering medication to Annaleigh more and more under the guise of helping her headaches and Marcus is growing closer and closer. All of a sudden Annaleigh feels out of her depth and completely at the mercy of the Twentymans and the problem is that she has no idea what they have planned for her.
The Vanishing is so well written and I loved the foreboding, moody atmosphere that Sophia Tobin creates. There is tension from the very first page and it continues to increase as the story develops.
Annaleigh is extremely naïve but feisty, she really has to fight in this book and she is a good example of just how hard it was for women at the time to get just basic rights.
I don’t want to say much more but I would highly recommend this book. It is dark and shocking in places, perfect for fans of gothic fiction. I read this as it was my book club’s choice and I think it will give us plenty to talk about.


BLOG TOUR: A Year of New Adventures by Maddie Please

I'm on the blog tour today for the fab new book from Maddie Please, here's the idea behind it:

It’s time for Billie Summers to have an adventure … but it might not be exactly what she expected. Billie Summers has always been quite content in her little cottage in the Cotswolds, sure half the house hasn’t been renovated, but what’s the point when it’s only her! Working part-time at her uncle’s bookshop and planning 3-4 writer retreats with her best friend allows her to pay the bills. What more could anyone want?
That is until Oliver Forest, the bad boy of the book world, turns up to one of her retreats and points out that Billie hasn’t done anything very adventurous. Couple that with her best friend falling head over heels and beginning to drift away from their Friday night wine and dinner plans, Billie is starting to wonder if it isn’t time she take control of her life.
So she starts a list: get fitted (properly) for a bra, fix up rest of house, find a ‘career’ and well, get a tattoo … Her life might just get the makeover it needs, too bad irritating and far-too-attractive for his own good, Oliver keeps showing up …
Because sometimes you need an adventure!

Sounds good doesn't it! I'm very lucky to have an extract to share with you and check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, interviews and more! 

Helena coloured prettily and sat up a bit straighter in her chair.
‘Helena Fairchild. I write children’s and YA. I’m a librarian. I sold a short story once, about a million years ago. It was about Bonfire Night. I’m not exactly setting the literary world alight just yet but I’m going to keep on trying. Nancy?’
Nancy was cutting a slice of cheddar and she paused, her knife halfway through the block.
‘Nancy Gregory, retired RE teacher. I write murder mysteries. The latest one has taken three years and I haven’t the faintest idea what I’m doing with it. I get so muddled I am quite capable of making the detective in charge of the case commit the murder.’ She looked thoughtful. ‘Perhaps that’s not such a bad idea!’
Vivienne sniffed; her aquiline nose a beak of disapproval.
‘I’m Vivienne Noble. I’m a retired chemistry teacher. I’ve self-published a couple of novels on Amazon to mixed reviews. I write contemporary erotica. Nothing too outré, just a bit of S&M, some bondage, and some role-play.’
‘Really?’ Nick said.
Vivienne loved it when this sort of surprise was voiced and was inclined to play up to the audience and show off.
‘Well I may not have been married but it doesn’t mean I haven’t lived. And I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of what does and doesn’t work.’
The table fell silent at this point until Helena cleared her throat and we all jumped.
‘Nick?’ she said. ‘Your turn I think?’
I kicked Helena under the table. She sent me a cross-eyed look in return.
Nick fidgeted a little and pulled his chunk of bread in half.
‘Blimey, I don’t quite know how to follow that. OK, I’m Nick Fitzgerald. I’m a contractor specializing in IT. I’m trying to write thrillers with a sort of international edge. Dan Brown, Ross Black, John Grisham – that sort of thing. I’ve had some technical papers published on subjects too dreary to go into, but as yet I don’t have an agent or any sign of one.’
He seemed to run out of steam at this point and he looked down and started buttering his bread. We all turned to Elaine.
‘I’m Elaine Weston. I’m a partly retired doctor and I write paranormal romance. Not very successfully I’m afraid. There doesn’t seem to be the market for it these days. Unless there is, and I just don’t write it very well. I had an agent but unfortunately she retired. I’d love another one, but well, we’ll see.’ She hunched her shoulders and gave a little excited smile.

Thank you so much to Sabah Kahn from Avon for asking me to take part in the blog tour, let me know if you read the book! 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...