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Book Review: Deeper by Robin York

When Caroline Piasecki's ex-boyfriend posts their sex pictures on the Internet, it destroys her reputation as a nice college girl. Suddenly her once-promising future doesn't look so bright. Caroline tries to make the pictures disappear; hoping time will bury her shame. Then a guy she barely knows rises to her defence and punches her ex to the ground. 

West Leavitt is the last person Caroline needs in her life. Everyone knows he's shady. Still, Caroline is drawn to his confidence and swagger - even after promising her dad she'll keep her distance. On late, sleepless nights, Caroline starts wandering into the bakery where West works. 

They hang out, they talk, they listen. Though Caroline and West tell each other they're 'just friends,' their feelings intensify until it becomes impossible to pretend. The more complicated her relationship with West gets, the harder Caroline has to struggle to discover what she wants for herself - and the easier it becomes to find the courage she needs to fight back against the people who would judge her. 

When all seems lost, sometimes the only place to go is deeper. (from 

The whole New Adult craze pretty much past me by, happening when I was forced to take a break from reading and blogging for a while. To be honest, I wasn't all that desperate to get on the bandwagon. I'm not sure why, but it didn't appeal to me all that much. but then I got a chance to read Deeper as part of a UK blog tour and decided to give it a go. Damn, am I glad I did. I really, really loved this book. 

I grew up pre-internet and was well into my twenties before it became a common thing. Sometimes this saddens me, often I'm grateful for it. Deeper only reaffirms my latter feelings. Caroline is eighteen years old, has been in a relationship with Nate for three years and when he snaps some impromptu pictures during sex, she isn't altogether comfortable about it but she trusts him. But when she breaks up with him and the pictures surface online, the possible repercussions are staggering.  We've all done things we'd rather not have out there in the world. Caroline hasn't even done anything wrong, or what millions of others have done. But once those pictures are out there in the public, she knows she'll be judged upon them in all aspects of her life and future career. 

Deeper made me so angry at times, by how vile and disgusting people can be. In particular to women, because of course Nate isn't treated the same even though he's in the picture too. It also drives home how much the world has changed, how something like this can have a ripple effect through your life, even though you've done nothing wrong. Scary. 

However, I love how Robin York doesn't create a victim of Caroline. She grows throughout the book and I was cheering her every single step of the way. Yes some of it is down to her new, blossoming relationship with West (which I'll get to in a second!) but it isn't because of him. At the end, it's Caroline who has empowered Caroline. Bravo! 

Now to West., hot, hot! Another complex character, with so many layers...part bad boy, part lost soul. I loved him. The chemistry between Caroline and West is electric, steamy and intense...and I loved it.  He's a heady mix of strong, sexy and vulnerable. I'm not going to lie...I fell for him in a big way. 

Deeper surprised me by just how much I loved it, I wasn't expecting to become so hooked I couldn't stop reading. Rarely do I bother reading those extracts from the next book you find at the end...but I wasn't ready to give up Caroline and West, so I did. And now I can't wait for Harder, released in July. I can't compare Deeper to other books in the New Adult genre, but I know I'd recommend it.

Published by Piatikus March 2014 (uk)  

I reviewed this book as part of Robin York's UK blog tour. You can check out the other stops by visiting the blogs below. 

Book Review: The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

One hot summer. One week in a villa on the outskirts of Deia, a village nestling in the rugged, mountainous west coast of the island of Mallorca. One family for whom the carefully laid jigsaw of life is about to be broken.

Jenn and her husband Greg holiday each year in Deia, enjoying languorous afternoons by the pool. But this year the equilibrium is upset by the arrival of Emma, Jenn's stepdaughter, and her boyfriend Nathan. Beautiful and reckless, Nathan stirs something unexpected in Jenn. As she is increasingly seduced by the notion of Nathan's youth and the promise of passion, the line between desire and obsession begins to blur. What follows is a highly-charged liaison that put lives and relationships in jeopardy, and a taut narrative which percolates with enough sexual tension to make it impossible to put down. (from

The Lemon Grove came onto my radar right at a time when I was craving a holiday, during the coldest, greyest, most miserablest of Cumbrian weather. All of a sudden this book was everywhere, from my Amazon recommendations to completely overtaking my twitter feed. I couldn't wait to get hold of a copy. 

And The Lemon Grove delivers exactly what it promises. Steamy, sexy, sultry- it's all those things. Set in the beautiful surroundings of Deia on the island of Majorca, this book is so deeply evocative I could almost feel the heat of the Mediterranean sun and see the glint of its rays shimmering off water. Yet Helen Walsh is spare with her words, not a single one is wasted or given over to flowery description. The sharp, blunt style grabbed my attention and kept me hooked to the very end. 

But the heat doesn't just come from the sun in this book. It's super charged with sexual tension and attraction, amplified by the atmospheric setting. I'll be honest, I wasn't sure how I was going to react to Jenn's relationship with her step-daughter's seventeen year old boyfriend, but this isn't a romance at all. It's an intense,  raw frustration filled passion from a woman who feels taken advantage of, frumpy and past her best. Through her relationship with Nathan, Helen Walsh delivers a story of complex family dynamics, betrayals and jealousies. While I did find some of the sex scenes a bit cringy and awkward to read, it's very brutally honest and doesn't attempt to convince you that this is a love story. 

The Lemon Grove won't be everyone's taste. If you're very easily offended you may find the sex scenes a bit graphic. While it's intense and passionate, it definitely isn't romantic. Personally I thought it was very good. Full of atmosphere, complex characters and evocative settings. I read it in a day and was hooked from beginning to the very clever end. 


Published by Tinder Press UK (February 2014) 

Blog Tour: An Exclusive Extract From The Perfect Match by Katie Fforde + Give away!

Today I'm really excited to be welcoming Katie Fforde to Cosy Books as part of her blog tour to celebrate her 20th book, The Perfect Match, released on 13th March 2014

The wonderfully romantic new novel from the No. 1 Sunday Times bestselling author of Recipe for Love.

Three years ago Bella Castle left her home town nursing a broken heart over Dominic Thane, the man she fell in love with but couldn't have .

Now she's made a new life for herself in the country, working as an estate agent.

Bella loves her job and she loves her boyfriend Nevil. But recently he's been preoccupied, and she's starting to question if his future hopes and dreams are a perfect match for hers.

And when Dominic turns up unexpectedly in search of his dream house, she begins to wonder if home is really where the heart is. But she's over him, isn't she? 

Below I have an exclusive extract introducing main character, Alice and the chance for two lucky winners to get themselves a copy of their own. Enjoy!

Chapter Two
Alice settled back into her seat on the train with a happy sigh. She had her Kindle, her things about her, and shortly someone would bring her a cup of tea. Or even a glass of wine. First-class travel – at least on the train – was within her budget at last and she loved it. When she turned sixty, Alice had resolved that she would stop suppressing her itchy feet and travel more. She just needed to work out how. Going up to London more often was a start.
As the train had obligingly been ready for boarding early, she was well into this month’s book-group choice before people who didn’t share her idea of punctuality began to board the train.
Alice had arranged her bags so she wasn’t taking up much space and carried on reading. She didn’t look up until she became aware of someone plumping down in the seat opposite and a briefcase landing on the table. Then she glanced up and smiled to indicate she didn’t feel she owned the entire four seats before returning to her book.
The man took a bit of time to settle and Alice stopped reading in order to look at him properly. She was an inveterate people-watcher and, she soon discovered, he was well worth a glance. He was, she reckoned, younger than her – fifties probably – but had an energy about him that was more youthful. He wore a very nice suit and a tie that challenged the suit with its flamboyant colours and slightly skewed angle.
Alice wondered if, at sixty, one was expected to stop looking at the opposite sex with interest. Probably, she concluded, which was rather a shame. Not that she was constantly on the lookout for attractive men or anything, but felt that if she did notice one, she should probably leave the looking to younger women.
Yet the man opposite kept drawing her attention away from her Kindle. He was restless, opening his briefcase, taking things out, shutting it again, looking at his watch. He caught her glancing at him and smiled apologetically.
‘I wonder when the trolley will come round,’ he said.
‘We probably have to set off for that to happen,’ said Alice, ‘but that’s due any minute now. Ah, here we go.’ She looked out of the window, enjoying the moment when you couldn’t quite tell if it was the train moving or the platform.
It was a while before the trolley did come, and when it rattled to a halt beside them, Alice’s travelling companion seemed excited. The attendant looked at Alice expectantly but as she wanted time to consider her options, this seat-side service being new to her, she suggested the man went first.
‘What can I have for nothing?’ he asked.
Impressive, thought Alice. She’d have been much more circumspect.
‘Tea or coffee, hot chocolate, cake, biscuits, crisps,’ said the man in charge.
‘Not a sandwich and a bottle of wine?’
‘No, sir,’ the attendant said firmly. ‘You have to pay for those.’
‘But I left my wallet in the office and I haven’t much money.’
Alice retired behind her Kindle. In spite of his insouciance it must have been embarrassing for this man wanting to stock up on free food and drink like this.
‘I’m sorry about that, sir, but I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do.’
‘And you’re sure I can’t have a sandwich if I don’t have any of this other stuff?’ he asked, gesturing towards the biscuits, cake, fruit and crisps with a disparaging hand. ‘The value of them put together must come to the same as the cost of a sandwich.’
‘I’m sorry, sir. Only the free things are free. The rest has to be paid for.’
‘But the sandwiches have a very short shelf life – you probably have to chuck them at the end of the trip. The other stuff lasts ages.’
‘I said I’m sorry—’
Alice could bear it no longer. ‘Can I buy you a sandwich and a bottle of wine? I’ve got my wallet.’
The man looked at her with eyes she now saw were blue. ‘I couldn’t possibly let you do that.’
‘Why not? It’s not exactly a four-course meal at the Ritz. The bottles of wine are tiny. Let me pay.’ Alice tried to sound authoritative. She felt her age should give her a bit of gravitas. Although maybe her newly highlighted hair would detract from that.
The man looked longingly at the sandwiches and then back at Alice. ‘No. It would be wrong.’
Alice decided not to argue any more. ‘OK.’
Relieved to be no longer dealing with the man who wanted everything for nothing, the trolley attendant turned to Alice.
‘Right, I’ll have two sandwiches, two bottles of wine’ – she glanced up at her companion – ‘red, I think. Oh and some crisps and a bottle of water.’
Once she had paid and the trolley had rattled off, she handed a sandwich and bottle of wine to her companion. He sighed.
‘I give in,’ he said, ‘because I’m starving. But I insist on introducing myself. I’m Michael McKay.’
‘Alice Aster,’ she said and took his hand. He looked at her intensely for a moment and she realised it had been a while since a man had really looked at her. She found she liked it.
‘Do you mind if I start?’ he said.
‘Not at all.’ She responded to the warmth of his smile and decided this sort of thing was not forbidden for women over sixty. Seventy might be another matter.
Michael McKay ripped open the package and consumed the sandwich in three bites. Alice, who had had lunch, didn’t open hers. She suspected Michael would want that too. She did open her wine though and a packet of crisps.
‘I can’t tell you how grateful I am,’ he said, accepting the second sandwich when she handed it to him. ‘I was so hungry. I realised as soon as I got to the front door of the office I’d left my wallet in my desk drawer, but I’d have missed the train if I’d gone back for it.’ Then he made a face. ‘Actually, I probably wouldn’t have missed it but I’d have worried that I would.’
Alice nodded. ‘I like to be early for trains too. We have that in common.’
‘So, where are you headed? Reading? Or the Far West?’
Alice chuckled. ‘Well, not the really far west but beyond Swindon. Stroud, actually.’
‘I get off at Kemble.’
‘Oh, posh Kemble,’ said Alice laughing. ‘Such a pretty station.’
‘The scenery around Stroud is lovely too,’ he said politely.
‘It is indeed. I’ve lived there on and off for over thirty years.’ She realised this made her sound terribly old but that didn’t matter. Did it? Briefly she wondered if buying French beauty products off the internet in order to look younger – as she did – was a bit pointless if you more or less told everyone you’d reached bus-pass age.
‘So, can I have your address?’ he asked.
Alice was not a fearful woman. She believed in people and felt that most of them were well meaning. But she knew that if she let slip to anyone she knew – particularly her god-daughter Bella, who had a slightly maternal attitude towards her godmother – that she’d given her address to a man on a train she would be in big trouble.
‘Why are you asking?’
He looked at her as if she was mad. ‘So I can send you a cheque.’
‘You’re surely not suggesting you write a cheque and post it to me for the price of a sandwich and travel-sized bottle of wine?’
‘But of course I am.’ He paused significantly. ‘It was two sandwiches.’
Alice couldn’t help laughing. ‘That’s ridiculous. Tell me how you’re going to get back to London tomorrow if you haven’t got your wallet.’
‘You’re changing the subject.’
‘Yup.’ She laughed gently. ‘You must see it’s ridiculous to worry about such a small amount.’
His blue eyes pierced hers. ‘I can’t owe money to people. I’m constitutionally incapable.’
‘Well, that’s just silly!’
She could tell instantly that he was not in the habit of being laughed at much, but felt it was good for him to experience it, all the same.
‘Is it? Most women I know are only too delighted to be paid for.’ He had stopped looking affronted and a small smile was gathering at the corner of his eyes.
‘And some are perfectly happy to pay for themselves and for other people – men even.’
‘So you’re one of these modern women?’
It was rather lovely to be described as being modern. She smiled warmly at him.
Just then the ticket inspector arrived at her side and – being law-abiding and unsure of the rules – she felt obliged to produce her Senior Citizen railcard, which Bella had insisted on referring to as her Old Person’s railcard in a very disrespectful way. This would teach her to flirt with younger men, she told herself.
‘Well, at least you’ll feel better about me buying you a snack,’ she said, ‘now you know I’m old enough to be – well, your aunt, at least.’
The intense blue gaze was back. ‘Oh I could never think of you as an aunt.’
Alice found herself blushing. It had been a while since anyone had chatted her up, and she wasn’t even sure he was. As she didn’t know how to respond she picked up her Kindle. ‘I think I ought to carry on reading now. It’s my book group soon.’
‘Are you enjoying the book?’
Alice thought for a moment. ‘Not awfully.’
‘Then don’t read it!’
‘That would be taking anarchy too far,’ she said sternly and turned her attention to the least accessible of last year’s Booker Prize long list. Inside, she was smiling.
Bella was there waiting for Alice when the train pulled into Stroud a little later than scheduled.
Bella waved as she caught sight of her godmother amongst the small crowd coming out of the station. Alice was easy to spot in her drapey turquoise silk outfit that managed to be elegant and casual at the same time. With good bone structure and well-cared-for skin, she was someone Bella felt proud to be associated with.
She kissed her godmother on the cheek. ‘Good day? Oh, no need to ask. I can see you had a lovely time! I’m afraid I haven’t cooked. Fancy fish and chips?’
‘Sounds lovely.’
‘So how was travelling first class?’
‘Brilliant!’ Alice said.
Bella frowned slightly. Had Alice done something different with her make-up, or was she actually blushing? 
You can follow the rest of Katie's blog tour at these brilliant blogs over the next few days (click on the image to enlarge)


Courtesy of Katie's Publishers at Random House, I can offer two copies of The Perfect Match to two lucky winners. 

To enter, simply fill in the form below. 

Winners will be notified by email within two days of competition ending. 

Copies will be sent direct from publishers.  

Entries close midnight 19th March 2014 (UK) 

Sorry UK only 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Coming Up Next Week: Katie Fforde and Robin York Blog Tours

Two blog tours will be stopping by Cosy Books next week.

On Tuesday 11th March, to celebrate her Twentieth book, THE PERFECT MATCH, I'm hosting Katie Fforde's blog tour. 

The, On Sunday 16th March I'll be sampling New Adult fiction for the first time when I review DEEPER by Robin York as part of her UK blog tour. 

Book Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

I've loved everything Lauren Oliver has written so far, I'd list her as one of my favourite YA authors and anything she publishes is a must read. But I suppose there's a likelihood that eventually there's going to be one book from an author you expect so much from which doesn't quite live up to your expectations and sadly, Panic was that book.

Don't get me wrong. This is far from a terrible book. The premise is fascinating and took me by surprise a little as I was fully expecting a dystopian/Hunger Games type of story. In fact, Panic is very contemporary in setting. Based in Carp-a run down town in modern day America-where life is tough and prospects low for the young residents. Panic is the name of a game devised as both an alleviation to boredom and the chance of escape to better things. The idea is that all high school students donate to a prize pot throughout the year, then in summer the game opens to those who've just completed their final year. Through a series of increasingly dangerous and terrifying challenges, competitors must avoid elimination with the last person taking the entire prize of around $60,000.

It could have been so good. Sadly though, it lacked a lot of atmosphere, which in turn made the whole concept unbelievable. I'm more than willing to believe that everyday teens could be so disillusioned they'd risk their lives for a chance to win, but Lauren Oliver didn't manage to convince me in this book and I ended up thinking these were just reckless idiots rather than the seriously desperate.

The story is told in alternating chapters by Heather and Dodge and I failed to connect with either of them. I couldn't really of cared less who won by the end. Of the two, I could understand Dodge's reasons for playing the game more than Heather's. I really struggled with why she'd do this, being the only one to watch out for her supposedly beloved younger sister. Very surprisingly, the romance isn't between the two main characters, so thumbs up to the unpredictability of that! Sadly though, the two romances involved were pretty unromantic and lacked any real chemistry. I think I'd have preferred predictable after all.

I did find it very readable and was invested enough to want to keep going. Lauren Oliver's writing is as good as ever in that regard. I was just really disappointed by the lack of tension...for this book to really work it should have been crackling off the pages. I'm afraid I was unconvinced and disappointed this time.


Published by Hodder (UK) March 2014

February Recap...It's Been Emotional.

I'm an emotional reader. Actually, I'm just plain emotional as a person. I even cry at some adverts (The John Lewis Christmas one kills me everytime) or when people win on game shows. My 9 year old thinks it's hilarious.

And February certainly was an emotional reading month! I think I admitted to crying in every review I wrote. I've gone through a whole tree in tissues and ate my weight in chocolate. 

Top picks of February were:   

(click titles to see my reviews) 

I didn't realise until this week, but the end of January/beginning of February marked FOUR years as a book blogger! I can't believe my little blog has been going that long. 2013 was a very busy year with lots of stuff happening at home/work/Uni and I had to take an extended break, but this February I've loved getting back to the book blogging community, twitter and catching up with old blogger pals (and hopefully making new ones) My TBR pile has exploded again in the last few weeks. It's great being back! 

Book Review: The Invention Of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I haven't read Sue Monk Kidd's best selling novel, The Secret Life of Bees, but I always meant to. When I came across this, her latest book, I jumped at the chance to give it a go. I was especially interested after recently studying the period including in part the slave trade. Set in early 19th century Charleston, The Invention of Wings is based on the real life abolitionist and feminist, Sarah Grimke and Handful (Hetty), a slave owned by Sarah's family. Told in alternating chapters from each woman, it's a powerful story evoking sadness, anger and yet also a lot of hope.

When 11 year old Sarah is given Handful as a present from her plantation owning parents, she knows even then that the idea of owning another human is abhorrent to her. Sarah is determined to set Handful free...but she's female and lives in a time and place that expects nothing of women other than to marry well.

I was drawn in to both character's lives immediately. I loved Handful's determination and spirit and found her story, although often harrowing, awe inspiring and admired her greatly. While Sarah's position appears to be the exact opposite, I also loved her quiet bravery and determination and the way in which she gained strength throughout the novel. It's a novel to provoke strong emotions, and my only critique is that it felt very rushed toward the second half of the book where a lot happens very quickly, loosing some impact as a result. In an authors note at the end, Sue Monk Kidd tells us what happened to Sarah during the rest of her fascinating life, but as Handful is an imagined character, I couldn't help but wish she'd wrote an epilogue for her and her story felt just a little unfinished. Of course this is entirely down to Sarah Grimke being a real person with a researchable history, so completely understandable.

The Invention of Wings is one of those books that provokes a huge range of emotions; Anger, sadness, pride and a real connection to and care for the two main characters. It's a story that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

Published by Headline (UK) January 2014

Book Review: The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman

Watching someone you love disappear through Alzheimer's disease is utterly heartbreaking. Seeing my Nan's deterioration over the last few years has been the hardest thing I've been through. It's a cruel, slow, torturous illness. Although less common, it isn't just an illness that affects the elderly, and Rowan Coleman bravely tackles the subject of early onset alzheimer's in this moving and beautifully written book, from both the suffers point of view as well as her family and carers.

Claire is in her early forties when she discover's she has early onset alzheimer's. She's all too aware of how it all ends, having witnessed her father go through the same thing at a very young age. When her councillor suggests she makes a memory book, it becomes something the whole family get involved in.

Claire's story is heartbreakingly sad. It seems crueller still that she'll be be deprived of those years where she'll see her children grow, have grandchildren and enjoy more comfortable times with her husband. Through the stories told in The Memory Book we discover what a strong, intelligent woman she was. I loved the way this was done; giving us glimpses of her life through both her own and her families point of view really lets you see the person aside from the alzheimer's.

Having seen the deterioration of a loved one first hand, I though Rowan Coleman got those early symptoms just right. I was particularly struck by Claire's loss of words for everyday objects, such as the remote for the TV and phone. I remember first becoming concerned about my Gran when she described a tea bag as the square thing to make a drink. I also found Claire's sometimes wandering commentary, how the conversation she was having to herself would change track in a heartbeat, poignant and very realistically done.

But what I really liked was how this book was told from all sides, Claire, her Mother, her Husband and her 20 year old daughter. I loved and recognised all the emotions involved, from anger to frustration, concern and at times humour. I sympathised and understood all of them. There's a strong theme of motherhood in this book, which coming from a family with four generations of very close (and at times fraught) maternal relationships, really struck a chord for me.

The Memory Book is an emotional read. For me it reminded me that while my Gran can't remember any more, the memories I have of our relationship are what helped to shape me and are still real. And I think that this is what the books about, both in the relationship she now has with her husband and the strength we see inherited by her daughter Caitlin. Rowan Coleman took a difficult subject and with sensitivity and care has made it work beautifully.

Published February 2014 by Ebury (UK)


Book Review: The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman

Sometimes, the minute you lay eyes on a book you just know it's going to be a good one. That's exactly what happened when The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman dropped through my letterbox completely out of the blue. The synopsis, the title, the colours of the all appealed to me and I knew it would be exactly my kind of book.

Rachel is at a point where she's really happy with her life. She has a fantastic marriage, job, friends and family as well as the sweetest daughter, six year old Ellie. But then, with no warning, Rachel dies. Just like that. One minute she's enjoying a romantic meal out with her husband, Max-the next she has heart attack. We join Rachel in her afterlife, one year on from that fateful night as she narrates us through the grieving process she sporadically witnesses her family going through, as well as her own.

We all say that should we die, we'd want our loved ones to move on. We mean it too. I don't think many people would wish for our loved ones to constantly grieve, lock themselves away and fail to live their lives the best they can. But what if we witnessed this moving on? How would it feel to see your husband fall in love with someone else? The memory of you begin to fade from your children's lives? Seeing the life you should have had being played out before you, minus you?  Jealous, angry, hurt? Even if rationally you know it's right. And this is how Rachel feels as she drifts between a white nothingness interspersed with brief 'access' to moments of Ellie and Max's lives as they begin to move on.

I think it's a credit to how sensitively Hannah Beckerman writes Rachel that I was pretty much immediately on side and sympathetic to her. Rachel is already dead when the novel starts, so we never get a chance to connect with her alive. It could have gone wrong, and she could have come across as bitter and awful. Instead, I empathised with her and it made me think about how I would feel. Honestly? Probably the same.

But at the same time I felt sorry for the ones left behind and thought Max's portrayal was especially thoughtful and endearing as he struggles between people telling him it's time to move on and the feeling that it's too soon. His first, tentative steps into the dating scene are filled with guilt, awkwardness and uncertainty. It's also injected with very subtle hints of humour which bring with it a realistic and human element. This is as much Max's story as Rachel's, if not more. As a mother to a daughter of very similar age to Ellie, I found Rachel's observations of her life particularly heart breaking and fully understood them. Ellie herself was sweet, if a little underestimated in her maturity. I think, perhaps, I feel this through comparing her to my own daughter rather than it being a criticism. It does go to show how well I did connect with Rachel, that I could fully put myself in her place.

The Dead Wife's Handbook is an incredibly original and touching book. At it's heart is a fear we all have- "Will I be remembered?" Rachel's journey through her family's lives in the two years following her death is both sad, yet heart warming and reassuring. It's definitely a book I'll remember and one I'd happily recommend.

Published by Penguin UK February 2013


Book Review: Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters

There are three things which attracted me to this book. Firstly, it's a book with a picture of beautiful old books on the front. Guaranteed to make a true book lover swoon. It's main character also works in a book shop and part of the story is set there. Finally, it's a story that intermingles past and present. My very favourite kind.

And oh how I did love it every bit as much as I hoped. Weaving the stories of two woman and spanning eighty years, this is beautifully written and at times achingly sad. Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase begins with Roberta in the present. Roberta works in The Old and New Bookshop and is fascinated by the old notes and letters she finds hidden amongst the pages of the second hand books brought into the store. But when she finds one belonging to her grandmother, Dorothea, it hints at a dark secret. One which changes the family history of which she was so sure.

I adored the war time love story between Dorothea and Polish Squadron leader Jan. It was so pure and elegantly written, I couldn't help but fall in love myself. The alternating chapters into Dorothea's past were probably my favourite and Louise Walters evoked the time and atmosphere so perfectly, drawing me in completely.

I also loved how Roberta's story developed alongside Dorothea's and was as much a journey of discovery for herself as it was to find out the secrets her Grandmother had kept hidden for so many decades. Aside from being Granddaughter and Grandmother, Roberta and Dorothea are linked by the things in their lives which remain unsaid and a fear of letting others in. This is all tied together beautiful in the closing chapters, which really are beautifully and tenderly written.

Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase is exactly the kind of novel I love. It's deeply romantic without being over bearing, it brings the two women to life so perfectly, faults and all. It's also subtly emotional, and I found myself with tears running down my face by the end. Despite being a début novel, Louise Walters easily blends lyrical and stark honest prose and keeps a perfect pace throughout. I absolutely loved this book and will be watching out for more from this author in the future.


Published Feb 27th 2014 by Hodder and Stoughton (UK)

Six Months Of Reading In Bite Size Reviews...(Part One)

I suppose by now, anyone who follows this blog is quite used to the long breaks and I didn't want to bore you with yet another 'where I've been post'. Life has been crazy the last few months with work, taking on two Uni modules at once, exams, and organizing Lu's extremely active social life. I managed to read a few books. Actually, that's a lie. I read a lot of books for Uni, but I doubt you really want to hear about those. Anyway, here are some bite size (mouse sized bite size at that) reviews of  the BOOKS FOR FUN I read  in the last few months.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom 

'You must not become too friendly with them,' she said. "They are not the same as us.'

'How?' I asked. 'How are they not the same?'

1791: When seven-year-old Irish orphan Lavinia is transported to Virginia to work in the kitchen of a wealthy plantation owner, she is absorbed into the life of the kitchen house and becomes part of the family of black slaves whose fates are tied to the plantation.

But Lavinia's skin will always set her apart, whether she wishes it or not. And as she grows older, she will be torn between the life that awaits her as a white woman and the people she knows as kin. 

I loved this book. Powerful, heart wrenchingly sad and sensitively written. A 5 star read.

The Second Life Of Amy Archer by R.S Pateman 

On 31st December 1999, ten-year-old Amy Archer went missing from her local playground. Her body was never found and the lives of her parents, Beth and Brian, were torn apart.

On the tenth anniversary of the disappearance, Beth is alone, still struggling with the enormity of her grief and the horror of not knowing the fate of her only child. But the fear and confusion have only just begun, and Beth's world is turned upside down when a stranger knocks on her door, claiming to know what happened to Amy.

Beth is introduced to a little girl who is the uncanny double of her missing daughter, who knows things that only Amy would remember; the name of her favourite toy, the place where she scratched her initials, what Beth likes for breakfast. But this can't be Amy, she hasn't aged a day...

Now Beth is forced to question everything she has ever believed in, and push her faith and her sanity to the limits, if she is to find out the truth about what happened to Amy. 

I was expecting a deeply suspenseful, slightly supernatural unputdowner of a book with this one. In truth, I was a little underwhelmed. Hated the main character and in this story, that was NOT a good thing. Good enough to finish, but not particularly memorable. 

Shades Of Earth by Beth Revis 

Shades of Earth is the final novel in the teenage romantic science fiction trilogy, from New York Times bestseller Beth Revis, author of Across the Universe and A Million Suns. Perfect for all fans of The Hunger Games. Across the Universe was longlisted for the prestigous Carnegie Medal.

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience. But this new Earth isn't the paradise that Amy had been hoping for.

Amy and Elder must race to uncover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. But each new discovery brings more danger. And if their colony collapses then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been meaningless . . . 

No secret I'm a massive fan of this series and the final book in the trilogy was no let down, keeping me on the edge of my seat throughout. Highly recommended (Reviews of Across The Universe and A Million Suns)

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone 

Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet. Why would they? Anna is sixteen in 1995, fiercely determined to leave her quiet town and finally travel the world. Bennett's seventeen in 2012, living in San Francisco and trying to control his ability to travel through time - an incredible gift, but also an unpredictable curse, which constantly threatens to separate him from the people he loves.

When Bennett suddenly finds himself in Anna's world, they are inescapably drawn to one another - it's almost as if they have met before. But they both know, deep down, that it can never last. For no matter how desperate Bennett is to stay with Anna, his condition will inevitably knock him right back to where he belongs - and Anna will be left to pick up the pieces 

Billed as reminiscent of The Time Travellers Wife, this was a no brainer for me. I loved the romance and the nineties flashbacks. Beautifully and subtly done.

The Hit by Melvin Burgess  

Take it. Live it. F*** it.

A new drug is out. Everyone is talking about it. The Hit. Take it, and you have one amazing week to live. It's the ultimate high. At the ultimate price.

Adam is tempted. Life is rubbish, his girlfriend's over him, his brother's gone. So what's he got to lose? Everything, as it turns out. It's up to his girlfriend, Lizzie, to show him... 

Woah, this was not for the faint hearted at all. Violent, Gritty, disturbing... but strangely compelling. I'm not sure if it was brilliant or awful. Thought provoking nonetheless.

More next week.....

Book Review: Fractured by Dani Atkins

Rachel's life is going great. She's about to start university, has a gorgeous boyfriend and a fantastic group of friends. The future looks good. But in one moment, it all explodes when a terrible accident changes their lives forever.

Five years later, and struggling to deal with the effects of that awful day, Rachel is on her way home to attend a wedding. But after a fall, Rachel wakes to find herself living an alternative life. One that might have been if it wasn't for that fateful night all those years ago. But which is the real life? Even Rachel doesn't know any more.

Phew, that was the singularly most difficult synopsis to write without giving the plot away completely and yet still attempting to make some kind of sense. I'm not sure I managed. I hope so!

I came across this book when looking for reasonably priced (cheap!) E-books to add to my newly acquired mini Kobo (after loosing my Kindle...sob) and at 99p, it fit the bill. Luckily it ended up being 99p well spent, and while not being the most life changing read in the world it was a good, engaging read with some nice twists and turns, romance and a bit of an emotional end (I teared up a bit. I am soft.)

Fractured starts with Rachel and her friends meeting for a sort of goodbye meal before they all head off to Uni. It's a good introduction to the group, where tensions are subtly pointed at before the awful accident that changes everything. It gets a bit confusing after that, as it takes up the story five years later in a kind of Sliding Doors style. Within a couple of chapters though I had the gist, and from then on I was intrigued at how it would all pan out.

I liked main character Rachel and felt sorry for her situation. I thought she was written well with vulnerability and naivety which made her endearing. I also liked the two love interests, and thought they were characterised well without being overly stereotypical. What I did find a little strange though however, was the age of the characters. They're supposed to be in their early twenties yet I could only see them as older, mid thirty year olds. The way they talked, acted, their lives and didn't quite fit and annoyed me every time their age was mentioned. Perhaps the mistake was to set this five years after the life changing event. Ten would have been far more believable.

Other than that, this is a perfectly good read. It's on the fluffy side and doesn't require deep thinking or vast concentration, but it's certainly kept me hooked enough to care how it all ended. This is perfect holiday reading, and well worth the price I paid (I think it's similar on other e-reader formats and also available in paperback)


Book Review: The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

Cecelia is the perfect wife, mother and neighbour. She prides herself on her perfection and her home and family are organised to within an inch of their perfect lives. Chaos and drama belong in other peoples lives. Or so she thinks.

Rachel hasn't stopped grieving for the daughter who was murdered twenty five years ago. It's still all consuming and defines her as a person. The only thing to bring any joy or purpose back into her life is her two year grandson Jacob. But when her Daughter in Law's high powered job means that Jacob will be moving to another country for at least a couple of years, it's just too much for Rachel to bear.

Tess has just found out her husband is in love with another woman. The betrayal strikes hard, especially as that other woman is her cousin and best friend. Taking their son back to her home town, Tess is about to take a trip down memory lane, leaving her with a difficult decision ahead. 

Three seemingly unconnected women, The Husband's Secret starts by giving you a glimpse into each of their very different lives leaving you wondering how exactly they all fit together. I admit, I found the first three chapters a bit random as they switched to the different scenarios without anything to link them initially. However, the characterisation of each woman is so well written, I immediately felt drawn into their lives and wanted to know more. Liane Moriarty has created three very real characters with such depth and honesty I could feel every emotion leaping off the page. 

The 'secret' is revealed quite early on, and isn't much of a shocker (I worked it out before it was revealed). This isn't a tense, psychological thriller to keep you guessing. Instead, we go on a journey with these three woman over just a few days as repercussions ripple amongst the community and lives change forever. I found the contrast between two of the women particularly well written, as one falls apart and the other blossoms. The fact that the story is entirely plausible gives it even more credence and I found myself asking 'what would I do' quite a lot. While some of the women's decisions may not be ones we'd agree with, it's easy to see and understand why they act the way they do. Giving each woman a first person narrative allows for brutal honesty, sometimes uncomfortably so, but always believable so.  

I found this book an emotional and gripping read. The epilogue was particularly poignant and left me with quite a big lump in my throat. While there's no racing plot and shocking twists and turns, I felt fully immersed in the three woman's lives and couldn't put it down. Heartfelt, emotional and honest throughout. Recommended.

Similar to:  Louise Douglas, Lisa Jewel, Dorothy Koomson, JoJo Moyes

Published in the UK by Penguin 2013


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