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!


The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey

1925. The war is over and a new generation is coming of age, keen to put the trauma of the previous one behind them.
Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing whose life is dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure; to parties and drinking and staying just the right side of scandal. Lawrence Weston is a struggling artist, desperate to escape the poverty of his upbringing and make something of himself.
When their worlds collide one summer night,  neither can resist the thrill of the forbidden, the lure of a love affair that they know cannot possibly last.
But there is a dark side to pleasure and a price to be paid for breaking the rules. By the end of that summer everything has changed,
A decade later, nine year old Alice is staying at Beechcroft with her distant grandparents, piecing together clues from her mother's letters to discover the secrets of the past, the truth about the present and hope for the future.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 480

Iona Grey wowed readers with her first book Letters to the Lost. I know that I am not the only one who has been eagerly awaiting for her to write a new book. Here it is, The Glittering Hour, I can say without hesitation that it is a complete triumph.
Everything is so beautifully done, the story, the characters, the cover, the title. I could not find fault with any of it.
The story takes place between the first and second world wars. England was facing great changes and in some ways, the higher classes of society were hit harder than others. Their way of life was scrutinised and picked apart in a way it had not been before. Socialite Selina Lennox is part of a group known as The Bright Young Things. Along with best friends, Theo and Flick, Selina is often photographed clutching a bottle of vintage champagne whilst falling out of well-known London establishments. We begin to learn the reasons for Selina's behaviour and it becomes clear that she is desperate to break free from the gilded cage that she was born into.
Selina meets Lawrence Weston one fateful night and the course of their lives is altered forever. Lawrence is from a totally different world, a poor artist and aspiring photographer, he struggles to pay his rent and Selina's glamorous world is alien to him. The connection between Selina and Lawrence is instant. He adores her and very quickly uncovers the person behind the tabloids and public perception. In Lawrence, Selina finds someone who loves her as she is without question. He wants the best for her without any pretence or ulterior motive. They embark on a dangerous relationship they they know cannot last and by the end of that glorious summer they are both undone.
Selina goes on to marry Rupert Carew, a friend of her brothers. He is straight up and down, exactly the respectable type of man that Selina's mother expected her to marry. Swapping one gilded cage for another, Selina welcomes a daughter, Alice who she is completely besotted with. The story continues nine years later, Selina is travelling abroad with Rupert and Alice has been sent to Selina's childhood home, Beechcroft to stay with her grandparents. Alice, as Selina did, finds Beechcroft cold and oppressing and she misses her mother terribly. With the help of Polly who has been a faithful maid and companion to Selina; Alice begins sending and receiving letters from her mother in the Far East. Selina wants Alice to know how she came to be and sends her on a treasure hunt. Each clue provides a piece of the story and reveals Selina's past whilst securing Alice's future.
I loved the treasure hunt idea and it tied the two parts of the story together beautifully. The relationship between Alice and Selina is so well portrayed, the little girl provided love in Selina's life when everything else was lost.
I felt that Iona Grey perfectly summed up the time period within the book.

It was a time of such change with shifting attitudes and approaches to life. Country Estates such as Beechcroft begin to fall into disrepair as so many workers did not return from the war or simply chose not to once they had experienced a different way of life. Selina is desperate for change too but as a woman she is constrained by position and value. Her heart wants Lawrence and she pays the price for not being able to follow her true desires.
I can't write anymore without giving away spoilers so I shall stop. The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey had me sobbing by the last few pages. I was so invested in the characters and their lives that I felt a little lost when I reached the final page. The Glittering Hour has been more than worth the wait, I know that it is a book I will visit again and again.

Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for allowing me to read an advanced copy via Netgalley. 


BOOK REVIEW: The Effortless Mind by Will Williams

Forget everything you thought you knew about meditation...
The Effortless Mind is renowned meditation teacher Will Williams' must-have guide for modern-day meditators. In his quest to overcome chronic stress and insomnia, Will undertook years of research and training  with the world's leading experts, which led him to find the cure he was looking for in Beeja meditation.
Will explains how this ancient technique has transformed the lives of his students- busy people of all ages and backgrounds. This isn't a restrictive, esoteric technique reserved only for those renouncing society and running away to the Himalayas; this is about enabling people to live their full potential- right here, right now- so they can feel happier, calmer and more engaged with life.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Pages: 336

The Effortless Mind by Will Williams presents Vedic meditation which can be practiced by anyone, anywhere for twenty minutes, twice a day. I have tried some forms of meditation during my yoga practice but this is the first book that I have read about the subject. Will Williams turned to meditation to cure his chronic insomnia so part of this book is very much a personal story. Will now teaches his technique to people all over the world with startling and highly successful results. I enjoyed reading about Will's own journey but one of my favourite parts of the book was the many real-life stories that it detailed. I often shy away from any kind of self-help book as I find that they very much apply to the author's situation and point-of-view only. The Effortless Mind is different in that is shows a myriad of different people using Will's methods successfully. They all had different reasons and I was quite surprised by some of the people who so
ught out this alternative method. The end result is the same though, they all find a way to cope with their problems and this is a very hopeful message. We live in an increasingly stressful world and there are so many options out there for combating stress but Will's way is so simple and that is the beauty of it; you don't need any fancy equipment or to attend any classes or courses. It is something you can do in the course of your day wherever you feel comfortable.
I know that The Effortless Mind is a book that I will be recommending to many people. Williams has made meditation both accessible and appealing. If it is a subject that you would like to know more about but didn't know where to start then I urge you to start right here!

Many thanks to Midas PR and Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy of the book to review. 


BLOG TOUR: Sleep by C.L. Taylor

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn't feel so guilty...
To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.
Each of the guests have a secret but one of them is lying- about who they are and why they're on the island. There's a murderer staying in the Bay View Hotel. And they've set their sights on Anna. Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.
Someone's going to sleep and never wake up...

Publisher: Avon
Pages: 400

C.L. Taylor is a fantastic thriller writer and I flew through Sleep. It has a cracking opening:

If you're reading this then I am no longer alive. Someone has been stalking me for the last three months and if I am dead, it wasn't an accident.

See what I mean? Taylor draws you straight into the thick of it and doesn't let go.
Anna was involved in a horrific car accident which left two of her colleagues dead and one paralysed. She is consumed with guilt and struggling to move forward. She takes a housekeeping position at The Bay View Hotel  on the remote Scottish island of Rum. She is convinced that somebody is stalking her to get revenge for the accident and she believes running away to Scotland will make her safe. Anna settles into the hotel and seven guests arrive for the weekend, a terrible storm hits and they are cut off from the main land. Anna is trapped and begins receiving messages again like the ones at home. It can only be one of the guests which means she is trapped with somebody who wants to kill her. She must work out which of the seven strangers wish Anna to sleep forever.
Sleep is a truly excellent thriller. The setting is perfect and adds so much to the story. It is like a traditional country house murder mystery but with the added element of not being able to get any kind of help.
The plot twists and turns in a brilliant manner, every time I reaches the end of a chapter, I couldn't stop myself from starting the next one. There are many red herrings and there were several occasions where I thought I had worked it out. However, I did not see the final twist coming at the end, it is so good.
Taylor creates such a good atmosphere in this book. Anna's fear is tangible and the hotel setting is claustrophobic and desperate. You want Anna to escape but there is no where for her to go.
I can highly recommend Sleep by C.L. Taylor, it is tense, thrilling and will keep you up all night.

Many thanks to Avon for inviting me to be part of this blog tour, make sure you check out the other stops. 


BOOK REVIEW: No Way Out by Cara Hunter

It's one of the most disturbing cases D.I Fawley has ever worked.
It's the Christmas holidays, and two children have just been pulled from the wreckage of their burning home in North Oxford. Why were they left in the house alone? Where is their mother and why is their father not answering his phone?
Then new evidence is discovered, and D.I Fawley's worst nightmare comes true. Because this fire wasn't an accident. It was murder.

Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 361

No Way Out is the third instalment in the D.I. Fawley series by Cara Hunter. I knew I would be in for a treat as the previous two have been fantastic.
The author goes straight into the action with a house fire in an affluent area of North Oxford. Two young children are pulled from the burning house. Fawley must investigate why the children were left alone, where are their parents and was this a tragic accident or was it murder?
No Way Out is an excellent thriller which had me riveted from the very first page. Children being caught up in a house fire is the stuff of nightmares, I was desperate to find out how it happened and why there were alone.
We slowly get to know the children's family, the Esmonds, throughout the book and we gradually build a picture of how they lived their lives. Hunter is so good at literally showing that you never knows what goes on behind closed doors. To the outside, the Esmond family would appear to be a happy, successful middle-class family. But there are so many intricacies within that family unit, many secrets and lies that Fawley and his team must pick apart.
I love the way that Cara Hunter presents the procedures involved with such a case. She shows how the investigative team work together and the many different tasks they must complete to move the case forward. The surprising finds and the frustrating dead ends. The narrative is interspersed with newspaper reports, interview transcripts and fire and postmortem reports. These extra details add to the reality and bring the case to life for the reader.
D.I Fawley is leading the investigation again but trouble at home means he is distracted. It's interesting to see how Fawley tries desperately hard for his personal life not to interfere with his professional role but it's not always that easy.
As I said, the action in the book begins immediately and Cara Hunter maintains a breathtaking pace. I worked one aspect out and I was pretty pleased with myself until the final twist at the end which I had not seen coming at all. I had to re-read pages as I wanted to enjoy it more than once, it is a very clever twist.
No Way Out by Cara Hunter is a fabulous book that I can highly recommend. It is unpredictable and beautifully clever.

Many thanks to Penguin for inviting me to be part of the blog tour, don't forget to check out the other blogs!

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 divi...