Friday, 28 April 2017

Book Review: Obsession by Amanda Robson

One evening, a wife asks her husband a question: who else would you go for, if you could?
It is a simple question – a little game – that will destroy her life.
Carly and Rob are a perfect couple. They share happy lives with their children and their close friends Craig and Jenny. They’re lucky. But beneath the surface, no relationship is simple: can another woman’s husband and another man’s wife ever just be good friends?
Little by little, Carly’s question sends her life spiralling out of control, as she begins to doubt everything she thought was true. Who can she trust? The man she has promised to stick by forever, or the best friend she has known for years? And is Carly being entirely honest with either of them?
Obsession is a dark, twisting thriller about how quickly our lives can fall apart when we act on our desires.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Avon, for the ARC.

I read a lot of books - too many perhaps, when I should be writing my own. I've been lucky this year so far; most have been great, the occasional one was not, and then last night, one absolutely blew my socks off.

Obsession is compelling, horrifying, disturbing, gripping...

The story is told in turns by each of the four main characters, husband and wife Rob and Carly, and the other couple Jenni and Craig. Each of them is narrating the tale to one of the others, and it is thoroughly enthralling. 

I don't want to give any more of the plot away; because I think each reader should be as shocked as I was. Never before have I been so betrayed by characters in a book. They play with my emotions - at first I detested the seemingly brash, selfish Carly, but later found myself wavering between sympathy and revulsion, an unsettling mixture felt for each of the characters as they seek to disarm and deceive us. I simply did not know who to trust.

The story gets bigger and more terrifying, the characters becoming more and more awful and their actions even worse. Honestly, this book wrong-footed me so many times, I had to read it in almost one sitting (I had to stop at 2am then carried on again at 8am!).

I've heard it said that for a book to be successful, you have to fall in love with at least one of the characters. Well, Obsession smashes the mould.

Obsession is published on Kindle on 4th May and in paperback on 1st June by Avon and you can pre-order either from Amazon or other retailers.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Book Review: The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter thinks she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.
But becoming parents proves much harder to achieve than Lucy and Jonah imagined, and when Jonah’s teenage daughter Camille comes to stay with them, she becomes a constant reminder of what Lucy doesn’t have. Jonah’s love and support are unquestioning, but Lucy’s struggles with work and her own failing dreams begin to take their toll. With Camille’s presence straining the bonds of Lucy’s marriage even further, Lucy suddenly feels herself close to losing everything…
This heart-wrenchingly poignant family drama from bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: in today’s hectic world, what does it mean to be a mother?

Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher, Lake Union Publishing, and the author, Amanda Prowse for the review copy.

The desperation of one woman to have a baby is the overriding theme of this heartbreaking story. Lucy has the perfect life; a wonderful husband, Jonah, a cosy home, and a great career. The only thing missing is a baby.

Unfortunately Lucy seems to be unable to carry a baby to term; and we feel her sheer heartbreak when she miscarries. Miscarriages are fairly common, we are told, but the grief and despair felt by would-be parents can be all-consuming. The author writes with a great deal of sensitivity, with no mawkishness or huge drama, depicting Lucy as a strong, capable woman who has to suffer what so many women go through.

Her life is further complicated when Jonah's daughter. Camille, comes to stay with them. Lucy struggles to bond with the girl, who is so dismissive of her stepmother, but of course Jonah cannot see how cruel and rude his daughter is, alienating Lucy and making her feel even more useless in her ability to be a mother.

Her relationship with her own mother is a complicated one too, and their story shows how much families need to communicate.

The author has created a great character in Lucy; I just wanted to give her a hug! Jonah and Camille are both great in their supporting roles, the latter being wholly understandable as a stroppy teenager. It is undeniably an emotional read, but heartwarming too.

Motherhood can be so important to a woman, sometimes the very essence of being female, and when that is held back from you, it's hard not to feel inadequate. But there are other ways to realise your potential, even if it's not quite what you had mapped out.

You can buy The Idea of You from Amazon or other retailers.

Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author who has published sixteen novels in dozens of languages. Her recent chart topping No.1 titles ‘What Have I Done?’, ‘Perfect Daughter’ and ‘My Husband’s Wife’ have sold millions of copies around the world.

Other novels by Amanda Prowse include ‘A Mother’s Story’ which won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the year Award and ‘Perfect Daughter’ that was selected as a World Book Night title in 2016. Amanda’s latest book ‘The Food of Love’ went straight to No.1 in Literary Fiction when it was launched in the USA and she has been described by the Daily Mail as ‘The Queen of Drama’ for her ability to make the reader feel as if they were actually in the story. 

Now published by Lake Union, Amanda Prowse is the most prolific writer of contemporary fiction in the UK today; her titles also score the highest online review approval ratings for several genres.

A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda Prowse is a regular panellist on the Channel 5 show ‘The Wright Stuff’ and numerous daytime ITV programmes. She makes countless guest appearances on BBC and independent Radio stations where she is well known for her insightful observations of human nature and her infectious observational humour. 

Become friends with Amanda on Facebook: AmandaProwseAuthor and follow her on Twitter: @MrsAmandaProwse or Instagram: MrsAmandaProwse. For more information on her books, lifestyle and inspirational advice see

Amanda's ambition is to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can't possibly read another book until the memory fades...

Book Review: The Cows by Dawn O'Porter

COW [n.]
A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.
Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype.
Tara, Cam and Stella are strangers living their own lives as best they can – though when society’s screaming you should live life one way, it can be hard to like what you see in the mirror.
When an extraordinary event ties invisible bonds of friendship between them, one woman’s catastrophe becomes another’s inspiration, and a life lesson to all.
Sometimes it’s ok not to follow the herd.
The Cows is a powerful novel about three women – judging each other, but also themselves. In all the noise of modern life, they need to find their own voice.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, HarperCollins, for the ARC. All opinions are my own - I don't follow the herd.

The three women in this novel are very different to each other; Tara is a single mother, determined to balance caring for her child with carving an outstanding role within a male-dominated industry; Cam is a successful blogger, who finds herself vigorously defending a woman's right not to have a child; and Stella, who has always lived in the shadow of her twin and cannot escape it even after her death.

It's a sassy, sharply, written novel with predicaments every woman can probably identify with in some way or another. OK so most women wouldn't dream of doing what poor Tara is caught doing, but the repercussions should fill everyone with fear and dread that social media has such power in our lives.

Stella is grieving for her sister and mother, who died within months of each other from ovarian cancer and breast cancer. Stella needs a hysterectomy and mastectomy after discovering she has the same deviant genes. Her eggs, and therefore her chances of becoming a mother, are on borrowed time.

Cam is the opposite - she rejects the very idea of motherhood and relationships, but her views aren't popular with everyone.

These three women are brought together under the strangest of circumstances in a story which will have you laughing, crying, and raising your fist and yelling 'Hell Yes!' Or maybe that's just me...

The Cows was published on 6th April and can be bought from Amazon or other retailers.

Dawn O'Porter is a broadcaster, novelist and print journalist who lives in London with her husband Chris, cat Lilu and dog Potato. She has made thirteen documentaries about all sorts of things including polygamy, childbirth, geishas, body image, breast cancer and even the movie DIRTY DANCING.

Dawn has written for various UK newspapers and magazines including GRAZIA and STYLIST. Her first novel PAPER AEROPLANES was published by Hot Key Books in 2013. Although Dawn lives in London she spends a lot of time in LA and travels a lot. You may have seen her dragging two huge pink suitcases with broken wheels and a Siamese cat (Lilu) in a box through international airports. At some point she plans to get new suitcases - the cat, however, has a few years left in her yet. Follow Dawn at or on Twitter: @hotpatooties

Friday, 14 April 2017

Book Review: The Woman at Number 24 by Juliet Ashton

The Blurb
When your marriage falls apart, the last place you'd want your husband to move to is downstairs. Unfortunately for Sarah, up in the eaves at number 24, her ex-husband now lives one floor beneath her with his new wife. Their happiness floats up through the floorboards, taunting her.
A child psychologist, Sarah has picked up great sadness from the little girl, Una, who lives with her careworn mother three floors below, but is Sarah emotionally equipped to reach out?
The Spring brings a new couple to the house. Jane and Tom's zest for life revives the flagging spirits, and Sarah can't deny the instant attraction to handsome Tom. Having seen at first hand what infidelity does to people, she'll never act on it ... but the air fizzes with potential.
The sunshine doesn't reach every corner of number 24, however. Elderly Mavis, tucked away in the basement, has kept the world at bay for decades. She's about to find out that she can't hide forever.
Juliet Ashton weaves a story of love, friendship and community that will move you to laughter and to tears. Think Cold Feet meets David Nicholls, with a dash of the joy of Jill Mansell added for good measure.
My Review

Thank you to the publishers, Books and the City at Simon & Schuster for the exciting exclusive extract and then to them and Netgalley for the ARC.

You see so many big properties, once so grand,  divided up into individual flats. I always think it's a shame; ripping the heart and character out of a home. But then it becomes home to more people, allowing room for more characters and their relationships to develop.

Number 24 is home to several inhabitants, including Sarah, and somewhat awkwardly, her ex husband and his new wife. The intricacies of such a relationship are explored, with Sarah desperate to win Leo back, and Leo himself doing nothing to dissuade her...

Then there's Mavis, a cantankerous old woman who lives in self-imposed poverty in the basement. When her sister dies, Sarah feels sorry for Mavis and decides no one can be that bad - apart from perhaps, Peck, the extremely foul-mouthed parrot.

Sarah is mourning the loss of her friend Smith, who Leo had ironically been so jealous of when he and Sarah were still married - until he left her for the glamorous Helena who had moved in. 

Suffering so much loss in her life, and having to prepare to move out of the flat she adores, Sarah's life is crumbling. She is a child psychologist, but has even lost her connection to children and is so full of self-doubt. She is intrigued by new neighbours, Jane and Tom, becoming friends with Jane but disturbingly attracted to Tom...

It's a lovely story of community, which sadly seems to be lacking in much of today's society, friendships, loyalty, love and self-worth. Some have too much, whilst others are severely lacking.

Juliet writes wonderfully comforting stories which wrap themselves around you like a hug. Even the sad or uncomfortable parts where people are suffering are a delight to read, because you know the story will pan out in the end, even if it's not necessarily in the way you expect - and this is Juliet's talent. Beautiful stories which draw you right in, with great characterisation.

Now when can I move in?

You can pre-order The Woman at Number 24 from Amazon or other retailers.

About the Author:

Juliet Ashton was born in Fulham and still lives in London. She writes under a variety of names, including her real name, Bernadette Strachan, and as Claire Sandy. She is married and has one daughter. Find out more at You can follow Juliet on Twitter @julietstories

Book Review: Then. Now. Always. by Isabelle Broom

The Blurb
Are you ready for an adventure?
Hannah Hodges certainly is. And so when she is offered the opportunity to spend a month filming a documentary in Almeria, a magical village hidden away on the south-east coast of Spain, she grabs it. Almeria was where she spent a large part of her youth; where she made so many of her memories, and her mistakes.
But now she is twenty-eight and this time it is going to be perfect. Because she is not only going with her best friend Tom but also with her gorgeous boss, Theo. And this unforgettable place with its snowy white buildings, mesmerizing sunsets and deep blue sea is the perfect location to make Theo finally fall under her spell.
But Hannah's past is everywhere she looks, Tom is acting strangely around her, and her awful (half) sister appears determined to ruin everything, again. Even from a thousand miles away . . .
Hannah has just a month in paradise to secure the happy future she knows is waiting for her. Will Almeria work its magic? And will that future look exactly as she always thought it would?
My Review

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the advanced reading copy. All opinions are my own.

Isabelle Broom's books should come with a warning on the front cover: ADVISORY: READING  THIS BOOK WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO BOOK A HOLIDAY RIGHT AWAY!

Ahh this book is so lovely. As ever, Isabelle immerses the reader in beautiful, warm and sunny surroundings, and reading this is the next best thing to being in the Spanish village of Mojacar. It's descriptive without bogging the story down with too much detail, but enough to evoke the sights, sounds and smells of the setting perfectly.

The characters are written equally well. I felt I was Hannah, and could see why she was so in love with Theo. 

The awkward relationship between Hannah and her half-sister Nancy is very poignant. Despite blaming Nancy for her father's indifference, Hannah still feels the responsibility of an older sister and feels she has to look out for Nancy - even though she annoys the hell out of her.

Then there's another fly in the ointment; the beautiful Claudette, whose flirty French accent and high maintenance winds Hannah up further. But then best friend Tom is always on hand to calm things down, but then he starts acting a bit weird too. 

Of course the main reason for them all being in Mojacar is to film a documentary which could make Hannah's career. She meets the wonderful Elaine, an artist who has adopted the Spanish village as her home. But there's more to her story than the artist's community which existed years ago.

Of course the inevitable happens in the end, but the journey there is not always straightforward, and it is a great fun read that had me pouring wistfully over travel websites.

Isabelle Broom has filled me with wunderlust yet again...

Now. Then. Always. is published on 20th April, and you can pre-order it from Amazon or other retailers. It's the next best thing to an actual holiday!

About the Author

Isabelle Broom was born in Cambridge nine days before the 1980s began and studied Media Arts at the University of West London before starting a career first in local newspapers and then as a sub editor at heat magazine. Nowadays, when she’s not writing novels set in far-flung locations, Isabelle spends her time being the Book Reviews Editor at heat and walking her beloved dog round the parks of north London. 

Her novels My Map Of You and A Year And A Day (published by Penguin Michael Joseph) are out now. The third, Then. Now. Always. will arrive in April 2017.

If you like pictures of dogs, chatter about books and very bad jokes, you can follow her on Twitter @Isabelle_Broom or find her on Facebook under Isabelle Broom Author.

Blog Tour: The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett

Meet the new neighbours. Whose side are you on?
When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara’s street seem dull by comparison.
When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another’s houses.
And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they’ve no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them…
Have you met The People at Number 9? A dark and delicious novel about envy, longing and betrayal in the suburbs…
I'll be reviewing The People at Number 9 soon; in the meantime, I welcome the author, Felicity Everett, to the blog.

Guest Post: Where I find Inspiration - Felicity Everett

Inspiration is a slippery concept. I suppose if you look at my books, the answer to the question where does it come from, would seem to be my life. My first novel The Story of Us, is about five women, who meet at university in the 1980s, and about what becomes of them over the next two decades (I went to university in the 1980s, where I met some awe inspiring women, some of whom went on to great things, but not all…). My new novel, The People at Number 9 is about a couple who live a humdrum life in a London suburb, then meet some exciting new people who inspire them to make changes to their lives which they come to regret. I too lived a humdrum life in a London suburb. I also met some cool new people who made me see things differently. Fortunately I didn’t remake my life in their image, or come a cropper like the characters in my book, but the inspiration for the book was on my doorstep. The novel I am working on at the moment is a gothic psychodrama about a menopausal woman in a bad marriage who moves to the country and loses her mind. And yes, I am a woman of a certain age and I have just moved to the countryside. My marriage, I’ll have you know, is in very good shape! 

That’s what I mean by a slippery concept. I start off with something I know – a situation, a person. I tweak it a little, play a game of ‘what if?’ and it starts to get interesting. Before I know it, I’ve constructed a plot involving suicide and abusive celebrity marriage (The Story of Us); adultery (The People at Number 9) or marital gas-lighting (my new novel, as yet untitled). I’ve tried a few other scenarios – I was keen on the idea of a novel about a twenty-first century commune, but I couldn’t breathe life into it. I kept getting the characters mixed up – a sure sign that my heart wasn’t in it, so eventually I gave up. There’s no objective reason, really why that one should have flopped, and the gothic countryside idea should have grabbed me, as it has. All I know is, when the inspiration comes I don’t look it in the eye, I just crack on and write.

Thank you Felicity!

The People at Number 9 was published by HQ on 6th April, and you can meet them too by buying the book from Amazon and other retailers.  You can follow Felicity on Twitter @Ittymay