Top Ten Tuesday - Most Anticipated Book For The Second Part of 2017

It's been a while since I've participated in top ten Tuesdays, hosted by The Broke and Bookish so today I'm joining in with my top ten most anticipated reads for the rest of 2017, although I actually found it too difficult so it's more like most anticipated reads for the next couple of months.  

The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman 

If you could change the past, would you?

Thirty years ago, something terrible happened to Luna’s mother. Something she’s only prepared to reveal after her death. 

Now Luna and her sister have a chance to go back to their mother’s birthplace and settle her affairs. But in Brooklyn they find more questions than answers, until something impossible – magical – happens to Luna, and she meets her mother as a young woman back in the summer of 1977. 

At first Luna’s thinks she’s going crazy, but if she can truly travel back in time, she can change things. But in doing anything – everything – to save her mother’s life, will she have to sacrifice her own? (Published 29th June by Ebury )

Together by Julie Cohen 

This is not a great love story. 
This is a story about great love.

On a morning that seems just like any other, Robbie wakes in his bed, his wife Emily asleep beside him, as always. He rises and dresses, makes his coffee, feeds his dogs, just as he usually does. But then he leaves Emily a letter and does something that will break her heart. As the years go back all the way to 1962, Robbie's actions become clearer as we discover the story of a couple with a terrible secret - one they will do absolutely anything to protect.

Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes's Me Before You, David Nicholls's One Day and M L Stedman's The Light Between Oceans. (Published 13th July by Orion)

After I've Gone by Linda Green  


On a wet Monday in January, Jess Mount checks Facebook and discovers her timeline appears to have skipped forward 18 months, to a day when shocked family and friends are posting heartbreaking tributes to her following her death in an accident. Jess is left scared and confused: is she the target of a cruel online prank or is this a terrifying glimpse of her true fate? 

Amongst the posts are photos of a gorgeous son she has not yet conceived. But when new posts suggest her death was deliberate, Jess realises that if she changes the future to save her own life, the baby boy she has fallen in love with may never exist. 
(Published July 27th by Quercus)

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell 

She was fifteen, her mother's 
golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. 
And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone. 

It’s been ten years since Ellie 
disappeared, but Laurel has never given up 
hope of finding her daughter.
And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet. 
Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter. 
Poppy is precocious and pretty - and meeting her completely takes Laurel's breath away. 

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age.
And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back. 

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go? 
Who still has secrets to hide? (Published 27th July by Century)

Friend Request by Laura Marshall 

When Louise Williams receives a message from someone left long in the past she feels sick.

Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.

Because Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers' party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life knowing herself responsible for Maria's disappearance. But now Maria is back. Or is she? 

(published July 27th by Sphere) 

This Beautiful Life by Katie Marsh 

The addictive and emotive new novel from Katie Marsh, perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Jodi Picoult.

'I lived over half my life before I met you both, and I hope with all my heart to live many years more. You two are the reason why. Always, always the reason why.'

Abi Cooper is living her happy ending. She's in remission and is ready to make the most of her second chance. But during Abi's illness her family has fallen apart. Her husband John has made decisions that are about to come back to haunt him, while her teenage son Seb is battling with a secret of his own.

Set to the songs on Abi's survival playlist, This Beautiful Life is the moving and uplifting story of what happens as Abi tries to put her family back together - and of why life, and love, are worth fighting for.  (published 10th August by Hodder)

Gather The Daughters  by Jennie Melamed

For fans of Emma Cline's THE GIRLS and Emily St John Mandel's STATION 11, this dark, unsettling and hugely compelling story of an isolated island cult will get under your skin.

GATHER THE DAUGHTERS tells the story of an end-of-the-world cult founded years ago when ten men colonised an island. It's a society in which men reign supreme, breeding is controlled, and knowledge of the outside world is kept to a minimum. Girls are wives-in-training: at the first sign of puberty, they must marry and have children. But until that point, every summer, island tradition dictates that the children live wildly: running free, making camps, sleeping on the beach. And it is at the end of one such summer that one of the youngest girls sees something so horrifying that life on the island can never be the same again. (published 25th July by Tinder Press)

The Break by Marian Keyes 

Amy's husband Hugh isn't really leaving her.

At least, that's what he promises. He is just taking a break - from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. For six-months Hugh will lose himself in south-east Asia, and there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.

Yes, it's a mid-life crisis, but let's be clear: a break isn't a break up - yet . . .

It's been a long time since Amy held a briefcase in one hand and a baby in the other. She never believed she'd have to go it alone again. She just has to hold the family together until Hugh comes back.

But a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman?

Because falling in love is easy. The hard part - the painful, joyous, maddening, beautiful part - is staying in love. (Published 7th September by Penguin)

The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray Browne

Eleanor, Richard and their two young daughters recently stretched themselves to the limit to buy their dream home, a four-bedroom Victorian townhouse in East London. But the cracks are already starting to show. 

Eleanor is unnerved by the eerie atmosphere in the house and becomes convinced it is making her ill. Whilst Richard remains preoccupied with Zoe, their mercurial twenty-seven-year-old lodger, Eleanor becomes determined to unravel the mystery of the house’s previous owners—including Emily, whose name is written hundreds of times on the walls of the upstairs room. 

(Published July 27th by Picador)

The Pool House by Tasmina Perry  

Someone lied. Someone died...

This dark, twisting novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author Tasmina Perry will keep you on the edge of your seat. Perfect for everyone who's been gripped by Showtime TV's THE AFFAIR, Adele Parks' THE STRANGER IN MY HOME and J. P. Delaney's THE GIRL BEFORE. 'Gripping... Great pace and brilliantly written. I loved it' Daily Mail on The House on Sunset Lake

When you're invited to spend summer in the Hamptons with a group of new friends, you agree - who wouldn't? But then you realise you're taking the place of another woman, a woman who died in mysterious circumstances, just the summer before. Your housemates tell you her death was an accident. But which of them has something to hide? (Published 7th September by Headline)

Wow, even that was difficult! There's so many books I'm looking forward to in the next few months it's hard to narrow to just ten - I've had books on and off this list I don't know how many times and there's still a few I'm regretting not being able to add. I'm lucky enough to have copies of some of these already and can't wait to get my hands on the rest. Are any of these on your must read list for the next couple of months? 

Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

A stunning debut about a girl who has learned how to survive – but not how to live.

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is fine. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except sometimes, everything.

No-one’s ever told Eleanor life should be better than fine. But with a simple act of kindness she’s about to realise exactly how much better than fine life can be. 

Published 18th May 2017 by Harper Fiction (UK) 

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine was one of those books which, pre-publication, gained a lot of attention and praise. I'd actually picked this up from Amazon Vine before I'd heard anyone else talking about it, then became very excited as I read all the hype. I'm going to come right out and say it - It didn't quite live up to it for me. That's not to say I hated it, there were parts I thought were absolutely fantastic. But I do have mixed feelings about it. It took me a while to get into. In fairness, I was pretty exhausted and wasn't having the best of weeks - feeling pretty restless and prickly myself. I put it down to that, because then I did really begin to enjoy it.

I found it difficult to connect with Eleanor to begin with, despite my love of a quirky character I just didn't warm to her. In fact, at one point I felt a bit annoyed, in a scene involving a bikini wax, as I felt the character was actually being ridiculed. It was, I guess, supposed to be a humorous scene, but it didn't make me laugh. It just didn't ring true to me. Eleanor clearly has severe social difficulties,  yet I felt her traits were so stereotypical and contrived, she became almost a caricature in the first few chapters of this book.

As I read on though I became absorbed in Eleanor's metamorphosis, and did find myself charmed by her. I particularly enjoyed her unfurling friendship with Raymond, who takes Eleanor under his wing after a shared experience brings them together. This is such a genuinely, innocent and touching friendship and I loved the subtle little moments scattered throughout which depict Eleanor's emerging feelings of friendship and connection to him beautifully. I also really loved seeing her growing confidence, and when it all came crashing down around her, I felt heart broken and devastated for her. There's some shocking and difficult scenes later on in the book which I thought were written superbly, with brutal honesty and raw emotion.

Eleanor is a character who grew on me slowly, and I felt it was in the second part of this book I really became to understand her. It's made clear from the start that she's suffered a traumatic and abusive past, although a mystery surrounds just what exactly did happen to her for much of the book. However, Gail Honeyman doesn't go for the bombshell approach to revealing Eleanor's secrets, and I really liked that as it suited the story and the character well. Rather, through little snippets, we learn what happened as Eleanor is ready to slowly share and there's an authenticity here which I did really appreciate. By the end of the book, I'd become totally invested in this character's life and hoped that she would be completely fine after all. I'd actually love to read a follow on and see what life does in fact have in store for Eleanor.

So, there, for me this was a book of two parts. the first I found difficult to connect with and felt unease at how this character was being depicted. I was pleased to find that as the book evolved, Eleanor became more rounded and complex and believable, and less of a caricature. Ignoring the awkward bikini wax scene, Gail Honeyman does manage to inject some dark humour along with more lighthearted moments successfully. However, it's Honeyman's engaging writing and the increasing understanding, connection and development of Eleanor which made the second half of this book truly stand out and redeem itself for me. While I wasn't as blown away as other readers. I did feel by the end it was a book worth reading and would recommend to others, with a warning to stick with it if you feel as I did.

(I read an advance proof copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program)

Cover Reveal: Sunshine After The Rain by Daisy James

I'm thrilled to be able to share with you the cover of Daisy James' new book, Sunshine After The Rain today. Personally, I think it's gorgeous ....what do you think?  

Sunshine After The Rain by Daisy James

A summer that changes everything…
Frazzled workaholic Evie Johnson has finally had enough! When she’s blamed for a publicity disaster at the art gallery she loves, she decides to flee the bright lights of London for the sun-drenched shores of Corfu and turn her life upside-down.

Under the shade of the olive trees, she picks up her dusty paintbrushes and begins to chase the dreams she had put aside for so long. But she never expected to bump into drop-dead-gorgeous Sam Bradbury – and certainly not whilst wrapped only in a towel!
A summer fling is the last thing Evie wanted but a few stolen kisses under the stars might just begin to change her mind… 

Published 5th July 2017 by HQ Digital (UK) 

Doesn't it sound like just the most perfect holiday read? I'm looking forward to getting my hands, or eyes! on this. 

Book Review: The Last Piece Of My Heart by Paige Toon

Meet Bridget, a successful travel journalist with ambitions to turn her quirky relationship blog into a novel. But, after numerous rejections from publishers, she accepts an alternative proposition: Nicole Dupre died leaving behind a bestselling novel and an incomplete sequel, and the family need someone to finish it. Bridget is just thankful to have her foot in the publishing door. But as she gets to know Nicole’s grieving family, and the woman behind the writing, Bridget’s priorities begin to change …  

Published 18th May by Simon & Schuster (UK)  

This book was absolutely perfect for me as I read it. I've had a rubbish week and I just wanted something warm, something to get involved in and make me smile. With a cast of characters to fall in love with, stunning settings and a romance to melt your heart, I got everything I wished for. Definitely a seven second hug - this book hit every spot.

Thirty something travel writer Bridget has had an eventful love life up to now as she easily falls in love time and time again. When she comes up with the idea of catching up with her ex-boyfriends and asking for the pieces of her heart she gave them, while blogging about her journey, she hopes to convince her agent that this will make a great novel. What she's not expecting is to be offered a job as a ghostwriter, to finish the sequel of popular novelist Nicole Dupre. But the job comes with decisions - Nicole's grieving husband insists she must move to Cornwall to fully immerse herself in Nicole's ideas and inspiration. As Bridget finds herself living in her Dad's camper van and tiptoeing about Nicole's home and bereaved family, she's not convinced she made the right decision at first. But she's about to discover she still has a piece of her heart left to give away - and she couldn't be more surprised by the person who eventually takes it.

I LOVED Bridget. She's fun, witty, and slightly bonkers with a huge heart filled with compassion. I'd love to have a friend like Bridget - I don't think you'd ever be bored in her company and she's completely endearing without being overbearingly sweet. She doesn't take herself too seriously, and can laugh at herself and her mistakes which gives her an added charm. I was rooting for this character all the way.

I guessed where The Last Piece Of My Heart was going pretty early on, but this didn't make the journey there any less enjoyable. The developing romance and relationship in this book is beautifully observed, so that the reader feels the increasing tension as it happens. It's a building romance, which develops slowly and is entirely believable given the difficult circumstances surrounding it. Awkward and messy combined with touching and tender ensures that you can't help but get behind it. There's some difficult themes of grief, loss and moving on covered, and I felt Paige Toon did so sensitively and thoughtfully.  I also lost a little piece of my heart reading this book, courtesy of a very special little character!

 I was bowled over by the heartfelt and honest writing which drew me in and connected me to these characters, becoming as invested in their lives as if I knew them myself ... that's how real and credible they were. As for the setting, well it couldn't have been anymore perfect, and had me yearning to visit Cornwall. With Bridget's intriguingly quirky blog writing research lending lighter, laugh out loud moments, The Last Piece Of My Heart lead me on a roller-coaster of emotions, ending with one huge, soppy smile. I absolutely loved this warm, gorgeous, feel-good book and can't fault a thing.

(I read an advanced proof courtesy of the publisher)

Book Review: The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

Two people. One choice. What if?

Every love story has a beginning…

11th September 2001. Lucy and Gabe meet in New York on a day that will change their lives – and the world – forever. As the city burns behind them, they kiss for the very first time.

Over the next thirteen years they are torn apart, then brought back together, time and time again. It’s a journey of dreams, of desires, of jealousy, of forgiveness – and above all, love.

As Lucy is faced with a devastating choice, she wonders whether their love is a matter of destiny or chance.

…what if this is how their story ends? 

Published 18th May by HQ (UK) 

I'd read so many amazing things about this book, with praise for its beauty and intense emotional impact. It sounded very much like my perfect type of read, but there's always that concern when you've built up your expectations that reality won't quite live up to it. So, to make it clear right away. This book completely lived up to my expectations and I absolutely adored every single word.

The beauty is in its simplicity really, the story of falling in love and developing a connection to last a life time. It happens all the time, every day the world over, unremarkable to others while being sweepingly huge and all consuming to individuals. What's special about this book is how Jill Santopolo sweeps the reader along with Lucy and Gabe's romance, intimately inviting them to share the intensity of it all. The book is narrated by Lucy, speaking in an almost confessional style to Gabe, so that all the emotion, excitement, disappointments and dreams are first hand as she spills her heart, leaving nothing unsaid.

The book spans over a decade, as the couple's lives take them in different directions yet remain connected. Lucy and Gabe meet on September 11th 2001, as terror and tragedy unfold around them, and while the book isn't really about the attacks themselves, I thought the author conveyed the rawness of emotions and intensity of connections made in the face of such tragedy, and how the experience influences their future choices and direction, convincingly and honestly.

Jill Santopolo's writing is beautiful. It just flows. Reading The Light We Lost is effortless, despite the emotional journey of highs and lows. Her portrayal of relationships is exquisite, depicting strengths and flaws, generosity and selfishness, happiness and heartache. As Lucy tells her side of this story of enduring love, there's a feeling we're heading to an inevitable, without knowing what it is. When it came though, it rocked me - leaving me to pick up my broken heart and put it back together again. The Light We Lost is simply stunning, every word of that early praise I'd read is true, Romantic and emotionally intense and written with the most beautifully effortless prose, I know I'll be thinking about this book for a long time to come.

(I read am advance proof copy courtesy of the publisher and netgalley)

Book Review: The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite

A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret. 
Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village. 

Nothing can shake her happiness - until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home. 

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk? 

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger… 

Published 12th May 2017 by Bookoutre (UK)  

I really had no idea what to expect when I started this book, the author being completely new to me. However, a lot of bloggers whose opinions and tastes I've grown to respect were very excited about it, and so caught up in that excitement I thought I'd give it a go. How pleased I am that I did, because not only does The Darkest Lies sit up there with some of the best psychological thrillers I've read this year, but something about this book got right under my skin.

The Darkest Lies is told in a second person narrative - I can't remember the last time I read a book in this style and it works so very, very well here. Melanie's thirteen year old daughter goes missing, and is then found battered and on the brink of death. The book is narrated by Melanie, to her daughter, and details the days following the attack and the ensuing investigation. I found this an incredibly honest, raw and emotional way to tell the story and became instantly connected to Melanie.

I hadn't been prepared to relate so strongly to Melanie, but it was like she was living my very worst fears. I'm the parent of an almost thirteen year old daughter myself, and everything about this story rang true. The relationship between Melanie and Beth was authentic and the events leading to the horrendous attack are realistic and believable - it's likely there are similar stories playing out between teenagers around the country as we speak. Melanie's reactions following her daughter's attack were also brutally honest, with Barbara Copperthwaite not shying away from depicting the real, raw and desperate side of her grief.

The Darkest Lies is set in a small community, where everyone knows one and another and each others business. Or so they believe. But this twisty, gripping tale weaves a sordid tale of a community full of secrets, small and large, and reveals just what people are willing to sacrifice to protect themselves. The finger of blame points in many directions, but I truly could not have guessed the truth. Then just when I thought the case was resolved, the author pops another twist in there which, to be quite honest, left me speechless.

This wasn't altogether an easy read for me - a lot of the themes are quite close to home, tapping into some of my biggest fears as the mother of a teenager in the twenty first century. I found it emotional, horrifying and scarily believable and it sent me running up to my daughter's room just to give her a hug at one point (yep, I got the eye-roll from her). Barbara Copperthwaite's writing is gripping and she knows exactly how to deliver a twist to make your jaw drop. Her character's are extremely well observed and believable, as is the tension and feelings of unrest and suspicion in the small community. The descriptions of the stark and wild marshes were atmospheric and eerie, providing the perfect backdrop to this fast-paced, heart-thumper of a thriller. The Darkest Lies is a book I'll be able to remember vividly for a long time to come and I really can't wait to read more from Barbara in the future.

(I read an ebook courtesy of the publisher and netgalley)

Blog Tour Book Review: The Other Us by Fiona Harper

If you could turn back time, would you choose a different life?

Forty-something Maggie is facing some hard truths. Her only child has flown the nest for university and, without her daughter in the house, she’s realising her life, and her marriage to Dan, is more than a little stale.

When she spots an announcement on Facebook about a uni reunion, she can’t help wondering what happened to Jude Hanson. The same night Dan proposed, Jude asked Maggie to run away with him, and she starts to wonder how different her life might have been if she’d broken Dan’s heart and taken Jude up on his offer.

Wondering turns into fantasising, and then one morning fantasising turns into reality. Maggie wakes up and discovers she’s back in 1992 and twenty-one again. Is she brave enough to choose the future she really wants, and if she is, will the grass be any greener on the other side of the fence?

Two men. Two very different possible futures. But is there only once chance at happiness?

Perfect for fans of One Day, The Versions of Us and Miss You. 

Published by HQ 4th May 2017 (UK) 

I'm sure we all do it, think about the "what ifs" in life. What if I'd done this instead of that? What if I'd went here instead of there? In The Other Us, Maggie gets to explore those questions and finds the what ifs may not exactly turn out to be what she wanted them to be after all.

The book starts with Forty something Maggie receiving an invitation for a school reunion. Maggie is at a point in her life where she's reevaluating her life and I suppose, purpose. Her daughter is spreading her wings and leaving her parents behind, her marriage to Dan straight from Uni has grown stale and resentful and the part-time job she has is unfulfilling. She feels frumpy, undervalued and regretful at the lost opportunities to forge a career while devoting herself to motherhood. I related with Maggie here quite a lot. I'm turning 40 soon, my kids are older and need me less and less and I've had a feeling of not knowing what to do with myself, of having to put aside one part of my life and throw myself into something else, like redefining myself almost. I understood how she felt.

When Maggie hears that her ex Jude is going to be there, she can't help wondering what if? Because the night Dan proposed to her, Jude had asked Maggie not to go through with it. To go away with him. When Maggie wakes up then and realises she's somehow slipped back in time to that pivotal moment, she realises this time she can make a different choice.  But before Maggie can get settled into her new life, she finds herself on a constant journey where she wakes to find herself in different versions of her life - with Dan and with Jude. What Maggie needs to work out is which life does she really actually want.

I loved the questions thrown up by this book. Is the grass always greener for example, and does taking a different path always lead to same point - after all you can't run from yourself and who you are. I thought it was interesting how Maggie's journey lead her to realise the influence she'd had over her own life and relationships without realising, and allowed her to start making small changes that would affect everyone.

With short chapters and Maggie flitting through time and different lives, this is a really fast read and one I felt engaged with throughout. At times it moves almost too fast, and I felt I too was hurtling along and wanted things to slow down. I really liked how the book made Maggie look at how she acted and behaved had influenced the relationship she had with Dan, small things which with subtle changes can have overwhelming consequences and results. I could also see why she'd be attracted to the life she has with Jude, successful and wealthy which allows her to forge the creative career she longed for. I did find it difficult to believe Maggie would be prepared to accept her strange, time traveling situation as easily as she did, and especially thought her daughter played a very insignificant role that didn't quite ring true and meant I lacked an emotional connection with Maggie.

I enjoyed reading The Other Us. It's quite light-hearted and would be ideal holiday reading. It poses some interesting questions without getting too deep and is something a little bit different. Fiona Harper's writing is very readable, and her character's are mostly relatable. By the end I was willing Maggie to make the right choice, whether she does or not I'll leave for you to discover. If you want something light, a little bit different and easy to get engrossed in, and if you're prepared to suspend belief a little, then I'd recommend The Other Us to you.

(I read an advanced copy courtesy of the publisher)

Book Review: The Last Night by Cesca Major

In a quiet coastal village, Irina spends her days restoring furniture, passing the time in peace and hiding away from the world. A family secret, long held and never discussed, casts a dark shadow and Irina chooses to withdraw into her work. When an antique bureau is sent to her workshop, the owner anonymous, Irina senses a history to the object that makes her uneasy. As Irina begins to investigate the origins of the piece, she unearths the secrets it holds within.

Decades earlier, another young woman kept secrets. Her name was Abigail. over the course of one summer, she fell in love, and dreamed of the future. But Abigail could not know that a catastrophe loomed, and this event would change the course of many lives for ever... 

Published May 4th 2017 (PB) by Corvus 

I loved Cesca Major's debut novel, The Silent Hours and was very much looking forward to reading The Last Night. I wasn't disappointed and found myself swept away in this beautifully written story from the first page.

The Last Night tells the story of two women in two different time periods. In the present, reclusive Irina has thrown herself into her work as a furniture restorer, but when a mysterious commission leads to unsettling events and increasing feelings of unease, Irina decides to explore further into the secrets of the unusual writing bureau and finds herself caught up in a tale of romance, secrets and tragedy. Meanwhile, she's hiding from her own past and hidden secrets, cutting herself off from those who care for her in the process.

Half a Century earlier. Abigail has big dreams to leave behind her home town of Bristol and make something of her life. But when her Mother suddenly dies, she has no choice but go and live with her sister and her husband in Cornwall. It's here she falls in love, but the romance is tinged by an ever increasing threat to Abigail from someone she should be able to trust, bringing her need to escape rising to the surface again until one night a tragedy strikes and changes everything.

This book oozes with secrets and atmosphere. The writing is so evocative, that in one chapter I was in 1950's Cornwall, while the next I'd be in the present day, feeling the same sense of unease as Irina as she uncovers the secrets of the bureau. I was intrigued by Irina, who has hidden herself away in her workshop, and wondered what had happened to make her withdraw from the world. There's obviously something she's hiding, and the anguish and guilt she feels is almost palpable. The relationship with her Mother was also intriguing, a woman who seems as lost as she is yet the two are unable to connect.

As much as I liked Irina's chapter's and the intrigue surrounding the writing bureau, I think Abigail's story was my favourite and really caught my imagination. I loved her spirit, loyalty and ambition, and hoped she could overcome the obstacles she finds in front of her. I also adored the tender, innocent romance which blossoms in the beautifully described coastal village in Cornwall. As the story moves along, there's a growing sense of foreboding overshadowing Abigail as the secret she is hiding takes its toll, leading right up to the unexpected and  tragic evening that will change everything. I was taken aback by how raw and wild and surprising this is, made all the more shocking by being based on real events.

The Last Night is my favourite type of book. A stunning setting, the secrets of past and present colliding and characters I really care about. Mix this with Cesca Major's beautifully evocative writing and you've got a book to truly get lost in. With a romantically ethereal quality, I thought it was absolutely stunning.

(I read a paperback copy supplied by the publisher)

Blog Tour Book Review: Not The Only Sky by Alyssa Warren

Big Bend, population 500. South Dakota, 1988. Eight-year-old Tiny Mite lives in a ramshackle farmhouse next to her grandfather’s crashed airplane and the pine tree where she trains as a spy. Goddamn is her favourite word. Taking pictures with a homemade camera is her new big thing. She lives with Bee, her apocalypse-obsessed grandmother and Luvie, her hard-drinking great-aunt. And then there’s her mother, Velvet – beautiful, heartbroken, desperate, impulsive. One night, Tiny Mite goes to the basement and hears a cry, but it’s not what she imagines and nothing will ever be the same. 

Six years later, Clea won’t let anyone call her Tiny Mite anymore. Luvie is sober and Bee’s health is failing. Velvet has been gone for years, and nobody except Bee will even mention her name. Alone, angry and dressed in her grandfather’s old hunting clothes, Clea mopes through ditches and fields taking photographs until she hatches a plan with another loner, a boy with an unspeakable past. 

This is a story of mothers and daughters. Of people tied by blood and home. Of moments captured and lifetimes lost. And of things never quite turning out as expected. 

Published by Black and White Publishing 27th April 2017 

I love something a bit different now then, with quirky characters and original writing styles. Not The Only Sky by Alyssa Warren definitely fits the bill here. Every single character in this book is unique, eccentric, vivid and oh so endearing too.

The book is set during two time frames. The first half of the book is set in 1988 and centres around a family made up of women - Grandmother, Daughter, Aunt and child. What's interesting about this family is is the dynamics, created through a lifetime of disappointments, with men, with the small town they live in and with each other. The three older women though are united by Tiny Mite, who is seriously the most endearingly quirky and heart capturing character you can meet.  The second part is set six years later, Tiny Mite is now known by her real name of Clea and her mother Velvet disappeared years ago. Broken bonds need to be fixed, but this means finding the missing parts and an awful lot of forgiveness.

I absolutely loved the first part of this book and felt Alyssa Warren really allows the reader to understand each of the four members of this strange family and understand what drives them, what has made them the way they are. I especially felt that Tiny Mite's mother, Velvet, was well written and her despair, loneliness, restlessness and desire for more seeped from the pages. Not The Only Sky is set in a small town and the claustrophobic, weary and neglected atmosphere of the place was vivid. If I'm honest, I didn't enjoy the second part quite as much, I'm not sure exactly why, perhaps because it was the dynamics of the character's together I'd loved so much in the first part.

Alyssa Warren's writing is, like her characters, unique and quirky, with the most wonderful descriptions that bring her words bouncing to life. This isn't a quick read, often I had to go back and read something several times to fully appreciate what was being said. This is writing to savour, linger over and allow to soak itself into you. There's a bit of a mystery, which adds a sense of intrigue, but mainly this is a character driven story about the relationships between mothers and daughters, the pull of loyalty to those who share blood and bonds that bind us to a place and make it a home. It's unusual, it's raw and it won't be everybody's cup of tea, but I liked it and if you feel like something new, fresh and completely unlike what you've read recently, then this book is a good option for you.

Book Review: The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins

How far would you go to save your reputation? The stunning new noir thriller from the author of the bestselling The Missing One and The Other Child. Perfect for fans of I Let You Go and The Ice Twins.

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia's book is based. She has now become Olivia's unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.

The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation? 

Published May 4th 2017 by Quercus (UK)  

Believe me, I'm the biggest wimp going where anything insect like is concerned. I'm the person running around screaming at a picnic when anything with wings comes near me. I have shut the door on the living room and not gone in for two days when I've had an eight legged guest, until my Dad could come round and check for me. So it surprised me how attracted I was to this book when I first caught sight of it floating about social media. It has massive, BIG bugs on it! But, they are gorgeous  and mysterious looking bugs. I thought this book looked stunning, and I wanted to find out more. 

Luckily then for me, that bugs isn't really what this book is about. At all. I mean they do feature, but not in a creepy crawly way. The bug, or actually Dung Beetle (which I now have quite a fondness a distance) is more the vehicle to connect the two main character's in this book and provides a fascinating metaphor for this story of ambition, betrayal and revenge.  

The book is told from both Olivia and Vivian's perspectives in alternating chapters, a style which works so well in this book as you could feel the distinct tone between the two character's voices. While the reader hears both women's insecurities, desperation and deceptions, Vivian was without doubt the most intense and creepy protagonist, with her sections being told in an almost blunt, detached first person narrative. Olivia's chapters come in a third person narrative and the feeling is more panicked, frenzied and fearful. Yet for most of this book I didn't know who to trust at all. 

The Night Visitor is a complex story of long held resentments and a tense and elaborate revenge. There are so many fascinating threads running throughout - of professional misogyny - both historical and current, ambition and betrayal. Both Olivia and Vivian are experts in their fields of academia, both have struggled with their identity and credibility in a male dominated environment. However, when you are top of your field, reputation is everything, and one of theirs is at risk of crashing down around them. And one of them needs to learn not to underestimate those they think below them, like our friend the Dung Beetle. 

I raced through this book. When I say I couldn't put it down, I fell asleep holding it in bed (despite desperate attempts to stay awake and read just a little bit more) and immediately turned back to it when I woke up. The Night Visitor isn't gory or action packed. It's pure psychological suspense, with an unsettling, eerie atmosphere of mistrust and intrigue which completely held me captive. I'm amazed by just how much I really liked this book, and how engrossing, original and interesting I found it. The Night Visitor is up there with the very best of psychological thrillers and I strongly recommend it.

Looking Back At April and Forward to May

I can't believe it's May already? Where is this year going? I'm seriously wanted to put some brakes on it, this is the last month for me in my 30's as in June I turn 40! It seems surreal, I don't even feel like a grown up yet! 

April was a month of rest really for me. I was off work for most of it after suffering some anxiety and panic attacks. I'm generally an anxious person, but now and then it gets a bit out of control. I went back to work last week, and to be honest I was dreading it, and yes - it was tough, but got a bit easier every day and I made it through the week, albeit fairly exhausted! 

Book Of The Month

Anyway, it did mean I had plenty of time for reading and in April I read 15 books. I'm very happy with that! It was an excellent month for books, and it was a hard choice between two for book of the month, but April has to go to Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton  

Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor. 

She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime. 

Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all . . . 

Published April 20th by Transworld (UK) 

I also interviewed Sharon Bolton as part of her blog tour (Squeee!!) See HERE 

However, my other book of the month isn't out until June, but definitely needs a mention. Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig is absolutely STUNNING and I urge everyone to get it on their wishlist. I'll be reviewing it nearer publication. 

Meet Ginny. She’s fourteen, autistic, and has a heart-breaking secret…

‘Brilliant’ – Graeme Simison, author of The Rosie Project

Ginny Moon is trying to make sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up….

After years in foster care, Ginny is in her fourth forever family, finally with parents who will love her.

Everyone tells her that she should feel happy, but she has never stopped crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.

Because something happened, a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right…

A fiercely poignant and inspirational story a lost girl searching for a place to call home. Ginny Moon will change everyone who spends time with her. Published by HQ 1st June 2017 

Coming Up In May

Tomorrow I'm off to Manchester for a four day work training course, so I'm planning lots of reading time in my hotel on an evening! Here's some of the books I'm most excited about coming out this month: 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman 

A stunning debut about a girl who has learned how to survive – but not how to live.

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is fine. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except sometimes, everything.

No-one’s ever told Eleanor life should be better than fine. But with a simple act of kindness she’s about to realise exactly how much better than fine life can be. 

Published May 18th by Harper (UK) 

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

He was the first person to inspire her, to move her, to truly understand her. Was he meant to be the last?

Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.  Published May 18th by HQ 

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins  

The author of the #1 New York Times bestseller and global phenomenon The Girl on the Train returns with Into the Water, her addictive new novel of psychological suspense. 

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return. 

The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins 

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia's book is based. She has now become Olivia's unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.

The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation?  Published May 4th by Quercus (I've read this already - It's BRILLIANT - Review tomorrow)

The Last Piece Of My Heart by Paige Toon 

When life feels like a puzzle, sometimes it’s the small pieces that make up the bigger picture ... Join Bridget on a journey to put her world back together.

Meet Bridget, a successful travel journalist with ambitions to turn her quirky relationship blog into a novel. But, after numerous rejections from publishers, she accepts an alternative proposition: Nicole Dupre died leaving behind a bestselling novel and an incomplete sequel, and the family need someone to finish it. Bridget is just thankful to have her foot in the publishing door. But as she gets to know Nicole’s grieving family, and the woman behind the writing, Bridget’s priorities begin to change. 

Published May 18th by Simon & Schuster UK 

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Hope everyone has a lovely May with lots of sunshine and amazing books!!!

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