Friday, 31 March 2017

Book Review: This Love by Dani Atkins

The Blurb
Sophie stopped believing in happy endings a long time ago, but could this love change all of that?
Sophie Winter lives in a self-imposed cocoon - she's a single, 31-year-old translator who works from home in her one-bedroom flat. This isn’t really the life she dreamed of, but then Sophie stopped believing in dreams when she was a teenager and tragedy struck her family.
So, to be safe, she keeps everyone at arm’s length. Sophie understands she has a problem, but recognising it and knowing how to fix it are two entirely different things.

One night a serious fire breaks out in the flat below hers. Sophie is trapped in the burning building until a passer-by, Ben, sees her and rescues her.
Suddenly her cocoon is shattered - what will be the consequences of this second life-changing event?
My Review
Thank you to the publishers Simon & Schuster for the advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

Oh, but that Dani Atkins knows how to tug at the old heart strings, even of a cynical middle-aged woman like me. She writes about heartbreaking situations with a sensitivity which goes deeper than typical Hollywood saccharine schmaltz. I start reading each of Dani's books with almost a sense of trepidation; I just know she's going to make me cry, and I'm going to enjoy doing so.

The story starts with a dramatic event, introducing the main character, Sophie, right in the midst of the flames. The way Dani describes Sophie's fear is very real, and I found myself holding my breath several times. I was drawn right into Sophie's story, feeling every bit of her grief and reluctance to let anyone get close to her.

Dani's characters are great. Ben, Sophie's random rescuer, is an angel (figuratively - not literally!). He is the perfect leading man; gentle, kind, and perfect for helping Sophie find salvation. The supporting cast is, as usual, excellent. We meet some beautifully written characters, who make us laugh and smile in equal measure, with their own back stories.

There is so much more to this story, but I don't want to spoil it for other readers. Just be prepared to be wrong-footed at every turn and to have your emotions toyed with by this fabulously tormenting author in her latest moving novel.

Never stop making me cry, Dani - you know I love it!

You can buy This Love here *

*Tissues Not Included

About the Author

Dani was born and brought up in Cockfosters - a small London suburb at the end of the Piccadilly Tube Line.

This served her well for commuting into the city, where from the age of 18 she worked in a succession of secretarial positions in companies as diverse as a BMW car dealership to the BBC. Dani spent her two hour commute avidly reading and dreamed that one day she would become an author herself. 

When her two children grew up and left home, Dani set about turning this dream into reality and devoted her time to writing. She now lives in a rural Hertfordshire cottage with her husband, a soppy border collie dog and a haughty Siamese cat.

Her first novels FRACTURED (called THEN AND ALWAYS in the US) and THE STORY OF US published in 2014. In January 2016, her third novel, OUR SONG was published. THIS LOVE was published in March 2017.

You can follow Dani on Twitter: @AtkinsDani and Facebook .

Monday, 27 March 2017

Book Review & Author Guest Post: Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Today I welcome Alice Feeney onto my blog with a brilliant Guest Post about naming a character. But first, here's my review.

The Blurb:
My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.
Unnerving, twisted and utterly compelling, you won’t be able to put this new thriller down. Set to be the most talked about book in 2017, it’s perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors, The Girl on the Train and The Widow.
My Review:

So, I saw this book on Netgalley, thought the premise was interesting; and started reading. Thank you Netgalley and publishers Harper Collins!

Oh. My. God. This book is quite brilliant, it really is. A psychological thriller that twists and turns and keeps you on your toes, and quite simply, I couldn't put it down.

The story is told from three different angles; Amber in a coma, flashbacks to the events leading up to her hospitalisation, and diary entries from her teenage years. I found these diary entries in particular to be very well written in the voice of a young teen, which contrasted nicely with the thoughts of the comatose adult Amber.

I was intrigued by the story behind Amber's accident, and I was kept guessing right up to the end. Her husband and sister are both regular, attentive visitors, but I never quite trusted either of them.

I loved the way the writer had Amber in a sort of locked-in state; she was able to hear and sense things going on around her, but no one knew as she was unable to communicate in any way. 

It's a really fast-paced story, full of intrigue. It's one of the best books I've read this year.

You can buy the book from Amazon, Waterstones and other retailers.

Author Guest Post - What’s in a name?

"I think about a story for a really long time before I’ll commit to writing it – my stories often spend months simmering away in the background before I begin, and that includes spending a lot of time with potential characters. 

I once heard someone say that they liked to audition their characters before they started to write a new novel, and that’s a really good way to describe it. You spend time with them, listen to their voice and have to decide whether it is a voice that is compelling enough for you to want to write it, and hopefully, later on, compelling enough for others to want to read. 

If I give a character a name, it means I’m really serious about writing them. There were several reasons that Amber was named Amber. Reynolds, her surname, came a few weeks later and felt completely right to me and so I started writing Sometimes I Lie.

I knew the beginning (those opening lines never changed from the very first draft), I knew a lot of the twists and I knew how I wanted the story to end. What I didn’t know, was what was going to happen in my personal life a little while later.

I had written about 20,000 words of the novel when we got the call to say that my niece had been born. It’s my first time being an Aunty, so I was thrilled and we rushed to the hospital. As I stood there, holding this perfect, beautiful child in my arms, with the whole family crammed into the hospital room, her parents announced that they were going to call her Amber. 

I hope that I smiled, but on the inside I felt awful. Amber, the main character in my novel is far from perfect and I immediately felt like I would have to change her name. But I couldn’t – she was already real for me. I then tried to change her behaviour in the book, but it didn’t work and, if anything, the things she did got worse. 

Other things changed during the writing process - new twists emerged and I came up with a new ending, but I could not change my protagonist’s name or who she was. It just wasn’t possible.

Writing is honestly the best job in the world and I feel so lucky to be able to do it full time now. Every day is a new journey. Some of the journey is so familiar to you by the time you come to write it, it’s like spending time with an old friend, other parts of the journey are a completely new adventure.

I do hope that if my niece reads Sometimes I Lie one day, she’ll forgive me for using the name Amber. Hopefully she’ll enjoy the book and they won’t have too much in common!"

Thank you Alice!

About the Author

Alice Feeney is a writer and journalist. She spent 16 years at the BBC, where she worked as a Reporter, News Editor, Arts and Entertainment Producer and One O’clock News Producer.

​Alice is a Faber Academy graduate from the class of 2016. She has lived in London and Sydney and has now settled in the Surrey countryside, where she lives with her husband and dog.

Sometimes I Lie is her debut thriller and is being published around the world in 2017.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Book Review: How Not to Fall in Love, Actually by Catherine Bennetto

The Blurb
A hilarious debut for all fans of Mhairi McFarlane and Lisa Owens. The perfect antidote for Valentine's Day! 
Life is 10% planning, 10% design and 80% totally winging it... 
Join Emma as she guides you through How Not to become accidentally knocked up at the age of 27, How Not to unceremoniously dump the father of your child, and then How Not to lose the job that (even though you hate it) is the only thing between you and being homeless...
Hilarious and heart-warming, How Not to Fall in Love, Actually will make you laugh, make you cry, and will reassure you that perhaps your life is not that bad, actually...
My Review

Thank you to the publishers Simon & Schuster for the review copy.

Emma's life isn't great. At the beginning, she has a job she hates but needs in order to support herself and her daydreamer boyfriend, Ned, who is full of wonderful ideas for the next best thing, but is actually pretty useless when it comes to working/housework/being a great boyfriend. Then she discovers she is pregnant, which is the catalyst for changing ...

She dumps Ned, walks out on her job and invites a random guy who turns up drunk on her doorstep to stay the night.

The book has a wonderful supporting cast. A self-obssessed mother, a sister doing charity work in faraway lands, one friend who eats men for breakfast and another who betrays Emma. Not to mention a psycho chaperone working on zombie-bra movies and the stranger who finds himself embroiled in Emma's chaotic world.

It's a genuinely funny book that had me spitting my tea out and laughing out loud. Emma is a hugely likeable character, and I was able to sympathise with her all the way through. None of the characters are annoying; even the 'villains' are so well written I relished their bad behaviour. 

It's a light-hearted read, despite the main character's predicament; any chance for self-pitying wallowing is blown out of the water by the crazy people and events going on around her.

It's a perfect rom-com and a highly enjoyable read. I think I have found a new author to love.

You can buy How Not to Fall in Love, Actually here.

The Author

Catherine Bennetto has worked as an Assistant Director in the film and television industry, working on shows such as The Bill, Coronation Street and Death in Paradise. She can generally be found travelling the world and spends her time reading healthy cookbooks (not necessarily cooking from them) or at the beach. How Not to Fall in Love, Actually is her first novel.

Follow Catherine on Twitter @cathbennetto.

Blog Tour and Review: Dangerous to Know by Anne Buist

Today the Blog Tour for Anne Buist's novel, Dangerous to Know, stops off at mine.

Thanks to Legend Press and Anne Buist for the advanced reading copy. All views are my own.

The Blurb 
Natalie King is back: back from a stay on the psych ward. Her reluctance to live a quiet life has contributed to a severe depressive episode, and now it’s time for a retreat to the country. A borrowed house on the Great Ocean Road; a low-key research job at a provincial university nearby.
But Natalie and trouble have a strange mutual fascination. Her charismatic new boss Frank is friendly, even attractive. But it turns out his pregnant wife is an old enemy of Natalie’s. And when Frank’s tragic personal history is revealed—then reprised in the most shocking way—Natalie finds herself drawn deep into a mystery. And even deeper into danger.
My Review

This is our second encounter with psychologist Natalie King (you can read my review of the first book in the series, Medea's Curse, here). 

Natalie has her bi-polar in hand (for now) after a stay on a psychiatric ward, but she treads a dangerous path when she ends up working for Frank Moreton. Frank is an enigmatic, attractive man, who has the somewhat unfortunate misfortune of losing pregnant wives. He and Natalie are both drawn to each other, but not in the usual way.

Jealousy weaves its way through the story, as wives, ex-lovers and members of an eccentric family all make their presence known. No one appears to be straightforward, everyone has their own hidden agenda, with the exception of the lovely Declan, Natalie's own therapist. I feel sorry for him, and it is obvious that Natalie respects him and wants to please him.

I found this second novel easier to read than the first as there were not as many technical details relating to the mental health profession - as promised by the author!

The plot twists and turns, as family secrets are revealed in this fast-paced thriller. It is a breathless ride along with Natalie as she is at risk of losing control of herself and the complicated situations in which she inevitably ends up embroiled. Natalie is one of the most interesting and complex characters I've ever met in a book, and I hope to be reading about more of her escapades.

About the Author:
Anne Buist is the Chair of Women’s Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and has over 25 years clinical and research experience in perinatal psychiatry working on cases of abuse, kidnapping, infanticide and murder.

She has published ten erotic romance- suspense novels under the pseudonym Simone Sinna. She is married to novelist Graeme Simsion and has two children.

Follow Anne on Twitter: @anneebuist

You can buy Dangerous to Know here (other retailers are available!).

Monday, 6 March 2017

Blog Tour: Dead Hope by Nicky Wells

I'm delighted to be part of the Brook Cottage Books Blog Tour for Nicky Wells's new book, Dead Hope. Thank you to Debbie Johnstone and Nicky Wells for the ARC. This review is my honest opinion.

The Blurb:
**A thrilling fusion of crime, suspense, and a touch of romance**
Cat Hope doesn’t want to go to prison. She needs a job, and she needs it fast: judge’s orders.
Kay Mahon, office worker by day and hacker by night, is on the run from a past life that he’d rather not remember.
When their paths cross, they begin to investigate the truth behind the deaths of Cat’s parents, the successful rock star couple Jackie and Adam Hope. Little do they know that their quest is putting Cat in grave danger.
My Review

I first discovered Nicky's books about 4 years ago when I started writing my own rockstar romance, and I loved them! Full of humour and fun, not to mention hot rockstars, they are some of the most entertaining books I have read. So when Nicky said she was going in a different direction with her new book, I just knew it would work.

Dead Hope is Nicky Wells at her best yet. A dramatic storyline, a feisty heroine and a sexy hero, Dead Hope is full of suspense and kept me biting my nails until the very end.

When we first meet Cat, she has all the makings of a very irritating spoilt brat, living off the riches of her dead parents, who had been successful rockstars (yay! I love rockstars!). She has never had to work, thanks to the estate left to her under the guidance of her parents' manager, Ron. But Cat shows herself to have nerves of steel as her life as she knew it begins to unravel around her. Under a new identity of Annabelle Smith, and with the help of her enigmatically-named co-worker, Kay, she opens a can of worms.

Kay is drawn to new girl Annabelle, despite his own determination to keep himself private. She is a mystery to be solved and he senses an opportunity to put his skills into practice. He's a great character, strong but with a vulnerable side, and definitely swoon-worthy!

Together they are drawn into a murky world full of secrets and danger. Nicky Wells has proved she can write in more than one genre. I'm looking forward to the next rollercoaster ride!

About Nicky Wells: Love & Thrills

Nicky Wells writes captivating romance and breathtaking thrillers featuring famous (or infamous!) feisty heroes and extraordinary villains. DEAD HOPE is her eighth book and the first published novel in her “Wake Up Dead” themed thriller series, with the next two books scheduled for release through the course of 2017 and 2018. Nicky has previously published seven works of romantic fiction both with US publishing house, Sapphire Star Publishing, and independently.

Born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993 and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. She loves listening to rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When she’s not writing, she’s hopelessly addicted to reading crime novels by the truck load.