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**Announcement**

I've moved ... you can now find this blog at CosyBooks.Blog ...same content, different place!

**Announcement!!** I've Moved!!

Bye Bye Blogger...Hello Wordpress!! 
Yes, after seven years here at blogger I've finally decided to make the move to Wordpress. You can now find me at 



I've been thinking about it a long while, and after lots of searching and hair pulling, decided to just set up again as a new blog (transferring a custom domain proved more tricky and costly than I was capable of!) My main motivation for blogging is to be part of a community, and while blogger originally offered that, over the last few years Wordpress has clearly stormed ahead in those stakes. With the loss of GFC, Google reader and the sheer number of bloggers who have left for the otherside, connecting, following, commenting and sharing has become more and more difficult. Plus, just operating clunky blogger can be time consuming and stressful! I'm really looking forward to getting more involved in the book blogging community and finding new bookish friends! 

I've moved all my content over, and this blog will close in a few days time. Thanks for reading this blog and I really hope to see you over at the new site. 

Just in case you need a reminder - 


Vicki xx

#Blogtour #Review - After I've Gone by Linda Green @QuercusBooks @LindaGreenisms

YOU HAVE 18 MONTHS LEFT TO LIVE . . . 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 (UK) 




Linda Green's previous novel, While My Eyes Were Closed, was the first book I read in 2017 and after a long period of being out of the habit of devouring books in single sittings, had me riveted throughout, reigniting my love for a compulsively addictive read. Several months and sixty books later, and here I was again picking up what promised to be a page turner from Linda, and boy, After I've Gone doesn't disappoint!

Twenty Two year old Jess is blown away when gorgeous and successful Lee picks her out of a crowd. After their first date, Jess is head over heels and it seems Lee is too, much to her disbelief. But at the same time something strange begins to happen. Posts that appear to be from the future begin appearing on her facebook timeline. Convinced it's a virus or a trick at first, Jess tries to ignore it. But when things in real life begin to coincide with what's written in the weird posts, Jess is scared. Because according to facebook, Jess will be dead in eighteen months time.

This isn't the first time I've read a book that uses facebook to tell the future. Jay Asher's YA novel The Future Of Us has its teen protagonist stumble across Facebook of the future before it's even invented. It's a fantastic, creepy and intriguing idea for a story, and when I read the description of After I've Gone I knew I had to read it. Unlike the former book however, this one takes a sinister approach in revealing Jess's very own imminent death, with the added suspense of a murder mystery where the murder hasn't even happened yet.

Linda Green's writing is thoroughly addictive and readable. I started this early one evening and didn't stop reading until I'd read all 430 odd pages. While it becomes clear early on who may have killed Jess, I thought the build up to how it comes to happen was done really well. There's subtle hints at first to raise concern and put the reader on alert, leading to a sense of impending doom while hoping Jess manages to save herself, and the yet to be born son she's already fallen in love with,  before it's too late.

After I've Gone is the perfect binge read book, ideal for holidays or cosy afternoons where you have nothing to do but enjoy. With a fast paced, intriguing plot line and some thought provoking themes, I enjoyed it every bit as much, if not more, as When My Eyes Were Closed and cements Linda Green in my list of must read authors. Recommended!




#Blogtour - Say My Name by Allegra Huston - An Extract

 As part of the UK blog tour, I'm delighted to share an extract of Say My Name by Allegra Huston today...Enjoy! 


 "This is the time to run away", she thinks, "to call it a mistake, to race back to home and safety. If I don’t go home I will never feel safe again."

On meeting Micajah Burnett, the son of an old school friend, Eve Armanton is faced with a choice. Years of a miserable marriage means she’s as broken as the beautiful antique violin she’s just found, and Micajah offers a spark of life, an opportunity to reawaken her sense.

If Eve takes a leap into this new world, she’ll be leaving behind her old self for good. Her happiness depends on forging a new life, but at the end of her journey who will Eve have become? 

Published 27th July 2017 by HQ (UK)



 Extract


There, under a table heaped with china of the sort nobody uses anymore, she spots it, almost hidden behind random objects carrying price stickers faded by time. Daylight filters through grimy windows onto worn green velvet, golden wood. Strangely, the case is open—as if it’s hoping to be found. 

It’s bigger than a violin, much smaller than a cello. It’s fat, squarer than most instruments of its kind, with an elongated neck, and—this is what draws Eve in—encrusted with vines. The fragile carvings seem greener. They were once painted, maybe. 

Eve moves the piles of junk aside so that she can crawl under the table. Usually she wears jeans for these expeditions, but it’s a hot New York summer, so this morning she chose a thin dress, counting on the intricate print to disguise any smudges. It will rip easily, though, so she tucks up the sides into her underwear to keep it off the floor. 

As she crouches down, the bones of her knees crack. Though she’s fit and strong, her forty-eight-year-old body is starting to show age. Her brown hair has almost no gray in it—good genes, her mother would have said—but soon she’ll have to decide whether to color it. She’s never seen the point of lying about her age and, being married, she’s less concerned about looking young than she might be if she were single. Still, the ugly milestone looms. She’s tied her hair in a ponytail and covered her head with a scarf to protect against cobwebs. 

By profession, Eve is a garden designer. Her husband, Larry, makes enough as a product development manager for a pill-coating supplier to pharmaceutical companies to enable him to treat her little business as, basically, a hobby. This annoys her, but the truth is, she treats it that way too. Taking it more seriously would mean confronting Larry and claiming ownership of her time and priorities, which she is not prepared to do. The status quo feels fragile, although it also feels as lasting as mortal life allows. All that’s required is that she keep the delicate political balance, and doesn’t rock the boat or disturb the sleeping dogs. She’s gotten into the habit of not pushing any communication past the minimum required for practical matters and the appearance of enough closeness to assure her that their marriage is sound. 

On weekends, guiltless and free, she searches out treasures for her friend Deborah’s antique shop. Larry doesn’t com- plain; she suspects he’s glad to have the house to himself. For her part, she’s glad to be away from it. The strange objects she finds ignite her imagination, conjuring up lives more exciting, and more terrifying, than the low-intensity safety of her own. Today she’s exploring a northerly part of New York City that, like a tidal pool left by successive immigrant waves, houses people from nations that may or may not still exist: Assyrians, Armenians, Macedonians, Baluchistanis. The alphabets in which the signs are written change block by block. Neighborhoods like this are her favorite hunting grounds. 

On her hands and knees under the table, she tugs at the instrument in its case. It shifts with a jerk, leaving a hard outline of oily dust on the floor. Probably it hasn’t been moved in years. She lifts it up onto a tin chest, keeping her back to the storekeeper to disguise her interest. 

The vines twine over the body of the instrument and up its neck, stretching out into the air. Though the delicacy of the carving is almost elfin, it has the strength of vines: blindly reaching, defying gravity. The tendrils are dotted with small flowers: jasmine, so accurately rendered that Eve identifies them instantly. A flap of velvet in the lid conceals a bow, held in place by ribbons. It, too, is twined with curling vines. 

She wiggles her fingers into the gaps between the instrument and the velvet lining, prying it loose. A moth flies out into her face and disappears in the slanting shafts of light. 

Holding it by the neck, she senses another shape. With spit and the hem of her dress, she cleans away the dust. There’s a pudgy, babyish face, the vines tightening their weave across its eyes. Cupid, blinded by love. 

Eve pinches up dust from the floor to dirty the face again. She has learned not to improve the appearance of things until after the bargaining is done and the money has changed hands. Then she turns the instrument over. 

The back is in splinters. 

Eve touches her finger to the ragged shards of wood, long- ing to make this beautiful thing whole again. The damage must have been deliberate: an accident would have broken off the vines. What drove that person over the brink? Musician’s frustration? Rage at fate? Heartbreak? She can almost feel remnants of the emotion stuck to the gash, like specks of dried blood. 

If she had it repaired, the cost would almost certainly be more than the instrument is worth. And even an expert might not be able to restore it completely. It could serve as a decorative item, but only if the gash stays hidden. Deborah won’t want it—she has a rule against broken things. Also, she feels more comfortable with things that have names, like bowls and vases and candlesticks. Passionless things that sit prettily in nice rooms. The history that this object bears on its back would freak her out. 

Eve moves to return the instrument to its exile, but she can’t bring herself to do it. Now that she has touched it, she cannot push it back into the shadows. 














#BlogTour - Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf - Character Background & #Review

I'm delighted to be taking part in the Not A Sound blog tour today - first with some back ground on main character Amelia, followed by a review of this tense and intriguing book!  

A shocking discovery and chilling secrets converge in this latest novel from bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf.

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters – her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora.

Now, two years later, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?


Published July 13th by HQ (UK)


Amelia’s background 

Emergency room nurse, Amelia Winn, the main character from NOT A SOUND, is difficult to describe in just a few words. She, like most of us, is multi-faceted and complex. After a life-changing hit and run accident leaves her profoundly deaf, Amelia turns to alcohol to help her cope. As a result, she loses her marriage, her step-daughter, her friends and hope. It isn't until two years after the accident that Amelia begins to emerge from her alcohol-induced fog and she vows to regain the life she once had, including her determination to return to nursing one day.

When I started writing the character of Amelia I knew immediately that she would be a nurse. Nurses have had a huge impact on my life beginning with my own mom. Over the years my mother worked as surgical nurse, in clinics, in hospitals, in nursing homes and as a school nurse on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. She helped deliver babies, gathered cancer statistics for university research projects and sat with family members when a loved one took a final breath.

As the mother of six children, my mother's nursing expertise also extended to the home front. We had our share of sore throats, coughs, fevers, broken bones, and at times much more serious ailments. One of my brothers suffered a stroke at the age of six and had to learn how to walk and talk all over again and my mother was right there to nurse him back to health.  When my son was diagnosed with bone cancer, she was with us every step of the way – spending endless hours with us at the hospital, asking the questions we didn't think to ask, providing comfort. Eventually retiring from nursing, my mom still continued to share her gifts. She, along with my dad, worked as Hospice volunteers, an experience that my mom described as one of the most rewarding of her life. She loved talking to the patients about their childhoods and their memories, allowing them to forget where they were and their pain and suffering even for just a few moments. Today mom remains the consummate nurse – caring for my father and fielding phone calls from her children and grandchildren about all sorts of health woes ~ she continues to amaze me.

While Amelia and my mother are different in many ways, they do have a few things in common with nurses all over the world ~ their attention to detail, their efficiency and determination to get things done, their dedication to caring for others and their unyielding love for those they care about.  

About The Author 

Heather was born in Wagner, South Dakota, the youngest of six children. At the age of three, her family moved to Iowa, where she grew up. Having been born with a profound unilateral hearing impairment Heather tended to use books as a retreat. Heather became a voracious reader and the seed of becoming a writer was planted. 

Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages and is currently a Literacy Coach, an educator who provides curricular and professional development support to teachers. 

Heather lives in Dubuque, Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Maxine. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running. She is currently working on her third novel.

Heather’s first novel The Weight of Silence was a TV Book Club pick. 

My Review 

Not A Sound is an incredibly catchy book, hooking the reader in from the first page when Amelia makes her grisly discovery and keeping the atmosphere tense throughout. The plot is original, one I haven't come across before, and raises issues of abuse of power, greed, deception and ethics in the medical world. 

I really liked Amelia. She's strong without being overbearing and forceful, indeed it's her flaws, weaknesses and vulnerabilities which give her a strength of spirit which makes a character relatable and admirable. While there is a mystery to discover, I quite liked the tentative relationship brimming in the background of this book and by the end really hoped that all would be well for Amelia and her future. 

The book is quite short, and a quick read. A couple of times it felt that quite big jumps and assumptions were made by characters to move the plot along and think it could have afforded extra pages to really add depth and complexity, however it is enjoyable, engaging, intriguing and with a heroine you will absolutely be cheering on, well worth a few hours of your time. 
  



 


#BlogTour - An Almond For A Parrot by Wray Delaney - An Extract & Review

 It's my stop on the incredibly racy and fascinating An Almond For A Parrot blog Tour today! First I have an extract, followed by a mini review - enjoy!


London, 1756: In Newgate prison, Tully Truegood awaits trial. Her fate hanging in the balance, she tells her life-story. It's a tale that takes her from skivvy in the back streets of London, to conjuror's assistant, to celebrated courtesan at her stepmother's Fairy House, the notorious house of ill-repute where decadent excess is a must...Tully was once the talk of the town. Now, with the best seats at Newgate already sold in anticipation of her execution, her only chance of survival is to get her story to the one person who can help her avoid the gallows. She is Tully Truegood. Orphan, whore, magician's apprentice. Murderer? 

Published July 27th 2017 by HQ (UK)






Fleet Marriages  

One of the most disgraceful customs observed in the Fleet Prison in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was the performance of the marriage ceremony by disreputable and dissolute clergymen. These functionaries, mostly prisoners for debt, insulted the dignity of their holy profession by marrying in the precincts of the Fleet Prison at a minute’s notice, any persons who might present themselves for that purpose. No questions were asked, no stipulations made, except as to the amount of the fee for the service, or the quantity of liquor to be drunk on the occasion. It not unfrequently happened, indeed, that the clergyman, the clerk, the bridegroom and the bride were drunk at the very time the ceremony was performed. 


Chapter One  

Newgate Prison, London 
I lie on this hard bed counting the bricks in the ceiling of this miserable cell. I have been sick every morning for a week and thought I might have jail fever. If it had killed me it would at 
least have saved me the inconvenience of a trial and a public hanging. Already the best seats at Newgate Prison have been sold in anticipation of my being found guilty – and I have yet to be sent to trial. Murder, attempted murder – either way the great metropolis seems to know the verdict before the judge has placed the black square on his grey wig. This whore is gallows-bound.  

‘Is he dead?’ I asked.  

My jailer wouldn’t say. 

 I pass my days remembering recipes and reciting them to the damp walls. They don’t remind me of food; they are bookmarks from this short life of mine. They remain tasteless. I prefer them that way.  
A doctor was called for. Who sent for or paid for him I don’t know, and uncharacteristically I do not care. He was very matter of fact and said the reason for my malady was simple: I was with child. I haven’t laughed for a long time but forgive me, the thought struck me as ridiculous. In all that has happened I have never once found myself in this predicament. I can hardly believe it is true. The doctor looked relieved – he had at least found a reason for my life to be extended – pregnant women are not hanged. Even if I’m found guilty of murder, the gallows will wait until the child is born. What a comforting thought. 

Hope came shortly afterwards. Dear Hope. She looked worried, thinner. 

‘How is Mercy?’ I asked.  

She avoided answering me and busied herself about my cell.  

‘What does this mean?’ she asked, running her fingers over the words scratched on a small table, the only piece of furniture this stinking cell has to offer. I had spent some time etching them into its worm-eaten surface. An Almond for a Parrot. 

‘It’s a title for a memoir, the unanswered love song of a soon to- be dead bird. Except I have no paper, no pen and without ink the thing won’t write at all.’ 

‘Just as well, Tully.’ 

‘I want to tell the truth of my life.’ 

‘Better to leave it,’ she said. 

‘It’s for Avery – not that he will ever read it.’ I felt myself on the brink of tears but I refused to give in to them. ‘I will write it for myself. Afterwards, it can be your bedtime entertainment, the novelty of my days in recipes and tittle-tattle.’ 

‘Oh, my sweet ninny-not. You must be brave, Tully. This is a dreadful place and…’ 

‘And it is not my first prison. My life has come full circle. You haven’t answered my question.’ 
‘Mercy is still very ill. Mofty is with her.’ 

‘Will she live?’ 

‘I don’t know.’ 

‘And is he alive?’ 

 ‘Tully, he is dead. You are to be tried for murder.’ 

‘My, oh my. At least my aim was true.’ 

I sank back on the bed, too tired to ask more. Even if Hope was in the mood for answering questions, I didn’t think I would want to know the answers. 

‘You are a celebrity in London. Everyone wants to know what you do, what you wear. The papers are full of it.’ 

There seemed nothing to say to that. Hope sat quietly on the edge of the bed, holding my hand. 
Finally, I found the courage to ask the question I’d wanted to ask since Hope arrived. 

‘Is there any news of Avery?’ 

‘No, Tully, there’s not.’ 

I shook my head. Regret. I am full of it. A stone to worry one’s soul with. 

‘You have done nothing wrong, Tully.’ 

‘Forgive me for laughing.’ 

‘You will have the very best solicitor.’ 

‘Who will pay for him?’ 

‘Queenie.’ 

‘No, no. I don’t want her to. I have some jewels…’ 

I felt sick. 

‘Concentrate on staying well,’ said Hope. 

If this life was a dress rehearsal, I would now have a chance to play my part again but with a more favourable outcome. Alas, we players are unaware that the curtain goes up the minute we take our first gulps of air; the screams of rage our only hopeless comments on being born onto such a barren stage.  

So here I am with ink, pen and a box of writing paper, courtesy of a well-wisher. Still I wait to know the date of my trial. What to do until then? Write, Tully, write. 

With a hey ho the wind and the rain. And words are my only escape. For the rain it raineth every day. 



My Review 

An Almond For A Parrot is like no other book I've read before! The closest I can get is to say that if you take The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (One of my most favourite books ever by the way!) and mash it up with Moll Flanders, then you'll be somewhere near this utterly addictive book. 

I'd read it was a bit of a saucy bodice ripper- but woah! I wasn't expecting it it to be quite so racy! Gosh, it had me blushing at times! But it is great fun, and though erotica isn't really my thing, I'm going to let it go this time, because despite it all I did enjoy An Almond For A Parrot. Plus, there's something so funny about Eighteenth Century Sexual Language, it's difficult to take an offence.  

I was sold on this book originally by the simply beautiful cover and the promise of some magic realism. I LOVE a bit of magic realism - there's just not enough about, and it did add a nice touch into this story of Tully and her ups and downs through a neglected and poverty stricken childhood to the riches and decadence of a high class prostitute.  

This is utterly addictive reading, I couldn't tear my eyes away! Wray Delaney has beautifully evocative writing style which catches the atmosphere and attitudes of the time perfectly. Fun, frivolous and exciting, this was a scandalously good read! 


Blog Tour: Last Seen by Lucy Clarke - Extract and Review

I'm thrilled to share with you an extract from Lucy Clarke's latest book, Last Seen, today followed by my review!

In a small seaside community, there’s always somebody watching…

Twisty, pacy, and superbly plotted, Last Seen is the perfect psychological page-turner for fans of Clare Mackintosh and Sabine Durrant.

Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.

Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried. 

Published 29th June 2017 by Harpercollins UK 

Extract

1. SARAH

DAY ONE, 6.15 A.M.

In the distance I can hear the light wash of waves folding on to shore. I lie still, eyes closed, but I can sense the dawn light filtering into the beach hut, slipping beneath the blinds ready to pull me into the new day. But I’m not ready. An uneasy feeling slides through my stomach.

I reach out to find Nick’s side of the bed empty, the sheet cool. He’s in Bristol, I remember. He has his pitch this morning. He left last night with a slice of birthday cake pressed into his hand. At that point Jacob was still smiling about the presents he’d been given for his seventeenth birthday. Nick has no idea what happened later.

A low flutter of panic beats in my chest: Will Jacob tell him?

I push myself upright in bed, my thoughts snapping and firing now. I can still feel the vibrations of Jacob’s footsteps storming across the beach hut, then the gust of air as the door slammed behind him, his birthday cards gliding to the ground like falling birds. I’d picked them up, carefully replacing each of them, until I reached the last – a homemade card with a photo glued to the front. I’d gripped its edges, imagining the satisfying tear of paper beneath my fingertips. I had made myself return it to the shelf, rearranging the cards so it was placed at the back.

I listen for the sound of Jacob’s breathing, waiting to catch the light hum of a snore – but all I can hear are the waves at the door. I straighten, fully alert now. Did I hear him come in last night? It’s impossible to sneak into the beach hut quietly. The door has to be yanked open where the wooden frame has swollen with rain; the sofa bed has to be skirted around in the dark; the wooden ladder to the mezzanine, where Jacob sleeps, creaks as it is climbed; and then there’s the slide and shuffle of his knees when he crawls to the mattress in the eaves.

Pulling back the covers, I clamber from the bed. In the dim haze I scan the tidy square of the beach hut for clues of my son: there are no trainers kicked off by the door; no jumper tossed on the sofa; no empty glasses or plates left on the kitchen counter, nor dusting of crumbs. The hut is immaculate, neat, just as I left it.

I ignore the faint pulse of pain in my head as I cross the beach hut in three steps, climbing the base of the ladder. It’s dark in the mezzanine – I’d pulled the blind over the porthole window and made Jacob’s bed before going to sleep myself. Usually the distinctive fug of a teenage boy lingers
up here, but this morning the heaped body of my son is absent, the duvet smooth.

I squeeze my eyes shut and swear under my breath. What did I expect?

I don’t know why I let it happen, not on his birthday. I shouldn’t have risen to his challenge. I went too far. We both did. Diffuse, not antagonise, Nick is fond of telling me. (Thank you, Nick. I’d never have thought of that myself.)

When Jacob was little, Nick would always ask my opinion on what Jacob needed, how best to dress a cut on his knee, or whether he could do with a nap, or what he might prefer to eat. But, in the last few years, my confidence in knowing what my son needs has slipped away. In his company, I often find myself at an utter loss as to what to say – asking too many questions, or not the right ones. On the odd occasion that Jacob does confide in me, I feel like a desert-walker who has come across a freshwater lake, thirsting for closeness.

Last night, as Jacob swung round to face me, I couldn’t think what to say, what to do. Maybe it was because seventeen is like a line in the sand; he’d just stepped over it into adulthood – but I wasn’t ready. Maybe that’s why I said the things I did, trying to pull him back to me.

I descend the ladder now, feeling the full weight of my headache kicking in. I’m sure Jacob will have stayed out with his friends – he’ll probably roll in at mid-morning, a hangover worsening his mood.

Yet still, I feel the tentacles of panic reaching, feeling their way through my chest.

Coffee. That’s what I need. I pump water into the kettle, then light the hob, listening to the rush of gas. As I wait for the water to boil, I have a strange, uncomfortable sensation.
That this is going to be my life one day: just me, alone, making coffee for one. It makes sweat prickle underarm, dread loosening my insides.

I reach out and snap on the battery-powered radio. A song blares into the hut – Jacob and I are always having radio wars, he switching it from Radio 4 to a station he likes, knowing I’ve still not learnt how to use the Memory button, so I must manually retune it to find my station again. But this morning, I like the noise and the thrash of guitars. I’ll leave it on. That way, when he comes back it’ll be playing.

My Review 

Seriously, do not start this book unless you can spare the next few hours. I started Last Seen one afternoon and didn't stop until I'd turned the last page. I'm not generally the quickest of readers, but at little under four hours later I'd sped my way through the 430 odd pages of this addictive and suspenseful book. Lucy Clarke's writing is so readable, page after page turned effortlessly and I was almost surprised when I realised I'd almost got to the end. 

The book's told in alternating chapters from best friends Sarah and Isla, hinting at secrets, betrayal and fracturing relationships right from the very start. I wasn't sure who I should trust, and this suspense is kept up right to the very end, when several twists and turns are revealed one after the other.  

Sarah is an interesting character. At first appearances she's the frantic parent of a missing teenager. Bewildered and frustrated at the declining relationship before her son's disappearance, she's appears naive and a little bit fragile. But scratch the surfaces and some chilling traits begin to show themselves. Isla on the other hand remains more of an enigma for much of the book, although she obviously holds a grudge against Sarah, the reader has no idea why until later in the book. 

I did guess some of the twists in Last Seen, but that's not to say it was any the less enjoyable. I found it gripping, absorbing and unputdownable, and while I didn't particularly like any of the characters, thought the atmosphere of dysfunctional relationships, manipulation, secrets and resentment was delivered very well and kept my interest piqued until the very last page. This would make the perfect holiday read, and if you enjoy a thriller then make sure Last Seen is in your suitcase this summer! 




Blog Tour: The Little Kiosk by the Seah by Jennifer Bohnet - An Extract

Time’s running out to save the little kiosk by the sea…

Sabine knows that if she doesn’t come up with a plan to save her little kiosk soon, it might be too late. If only her best friend Owen would stop distracting her with marriage proposals!

Harriet is returning to Dartmouth for the first time in thirty years, haunted by the scandal that drove her away and shocked by an inheritance that could change everything.

Rachel never expected to find love again after her world was shattered a year ago. But it seems as if the sleepy seaside town has different ideas…

One thing’s for sure, it’s a summer they will never forget! 



Extract 

For as long as anyone could remember, the kiosk on the quay had been part of the town’s summer street furniture. A focal point for the locals as much as the holidaymakers. Every 1st March, the wooden hexagonal hut reappeared without fuss or fanfare on its designated place on the embankment between the taxi rank and the yacht club, its wooden struts and panels gleaming with freshly applied paint. Red, white, blue and yellow – all bright summer colours which, come October, would have been bleached and faded away by the summer weather. The jet-black orb on the top of the domed roof was a favourite with the gulls, who perched there serenely surveying the scene before swooping down and stealing ice creams and pasties from unwary holidaymakers. 

As well as its annual paint make-over, the kiosk had occasionally been refurbished inside. These days it boasted an electric connection for the necessary computer, a kettle, mugs, a round tin that was never empty of biscuits and a small electric heater to keep the occupant warm in early and late season when the wind off the river blew straight in through the half-open stable door. 

There was a small shelf unit for holding tickets and the cash box, a cupboard for locking things in, space to the left of the door for the outside advertising boards to come in overnight and three foldaway canvas director chairs for sitting outside in the sun with friends when business was slow. 
The whole atmosphere of the town changed as the locals welcomed the reappearance of the hut which signalled the imminent arrival of the holidaymakers, the second home owners and the day-trippers. Maybe this would be the year fortunes would be made. If not fortunes, at least enough money to see the families through winter without getting deep into overdrafts. The last thing anyone wanted – or needed – was another wet season. 

This summer though, 1st March came and went with no sign of the kiosk. All winter, rumours had rumbled around town about its demise and locals feared the worst: the council had never liked it and wanted it gone – not true, the mayor said; Health and Safety had condemned it as an unfit workplace – but nobody would give details of the problem; the rent for the summer season had doubled and Owen Hutchinson, owner of the pleasure boats he operated through the kiosk, had refused to pay. A fact he denied. 

Then, two weeks before Easter, without any warning, the re-painted kiosk appeared in its usual place. Collectively, the town heaved a sigh of relief. Panic over. 
Time to enjoy the summer. 


The Little Kiosk by the Sea by Jennifer Bohnet is out 6th July (HQ, £7.99) Find out more about Jennifer’s writing at www.jenniferbohnet.com 
  

#Blogtour #Bookreview : Molly Fish by Jack McMasters @AuthorightUKPR

When retired architect Arthur Howard receives an unexpected invitation from the elegant businesswoman he has just met, her promise of two weeks of incredible sex is enough to persuade him to forget his stale marriage and follow her to India. Leaving thoughts of his younger wife Ester far behind, Rani leads Arthur into paradise; her home lies in a beautiful valley filled with quiet villages, tranquil lakes, tea plantations and crocus fields, a place where his every need is catered for and his attention sought wherever he goes.

But danger lies hidden here. Arthur discovers that Rani and the other villagers he meets in this rural Indian idyll are the descendents of an ancient civilization, thought to be merely mythical. From his contact with them, he succumbs to a mysterious illness that keeps him bedridden for a long period in a darkened room. Confused and stricken, Arthur's days and nights are haunted by wild dreams; when he is unable to sleep, he reminisces about early love affairs and fears for his failing relationship with Ester until he is unable to distinguish dreams from reality. 

Published June 29th 2017 by Clink Street Publishing  

I like to branch out now and then from my usual type of reads and try something different, and was intrigued by the mythical elements described in this book. While I'm usually very grounded in real life with my reading choices, I do enjoy a twist of magical realism occasionally, and Molly Fish sounded like it may fit the bill.

It begins with recently retired Arthur arriving in India to spend two weeks with the beautiful and mysterious Rani. When he arrives at Rani's home, he is welcomed by a range of other women, who all appear desperately attracted to him and desperate to serve his every whim. I felt a bit awkward with this - Arthur had left his poor wife of twenty five years at home and I couldn't help but feel a bit repulsed. As things get quite steamy, with a lot of bed hopping, I really doubted this book was going to work for me. I'm not going to lie - it was close to stepping out of my own personal comfort zone. Yep, It appears I'm a bit of a prude!

However, I stuck with it and after my initial misgivings I actually became quite engrossed in this book. Jack McMasters has a wonderfully descriptive writing style which brought the beautiful scenery of the remote Indian village to life. Colours, sights and smells explode from the page, and there's an atmospheric feeling swirling around of something mystical, I wanted to know what it was.

I thought the story behind Rani and the other women was fascinating, a mix of myth, magic and ancient history. Arthur is initially swept away by the apparent adoration and attention bestowed upon him, but then begins to notice things - like there are no other men in this particular village.  I enjoyed reading about the origins and history behind the almost cult like group of women. What seemed like a story about a very weak man, actually turned into one of very strong women. It took me by surprise.

Molly Fish is an unusual book, quite different from what I usually read. It took me a while to get into to begin with, however once I'd given it a few chapters I found it a flowing and intriguing read. It is a little explicit at times, and like I said earlier, made me feel a bit uncomfortable - however this is just a personal feeling as I've already admitted I must be a bit prudish! (I didn't make it past the first couple of chapters of that very well known steamy book for example!) Yet I am glad I stuck with it, because I did really enjoy the mystical setting and mythical story behind Rani and her people. It is intriguingly different - with an unexpected twist at the end!


(I read an ebook courtesy of Rachel @ Autheright)


#BookReview: All The Good Things by Clare Fisher @Vikingbooksuk

Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn't deserve to ever feel good again.

But her counsellor, Erika, won't give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby's head.

But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone-even a 100% bad person-deserve a chance to be good? 

Published 1st June 2017 by Viking, Penhuin (UK) 



All The Good Things dropped through my letterbox completely unexpectedly. I had seen it about, but didn't know a lot about it. Sometimes though, those little unexpected surprise books turn out to be absolutely gems, and all the more special because you just didn't know it was coming. That's definitely the case with All The Good Things by Clare Fisher.

I'm not going to lie, this is a pretty gritty and harrowing read. It starts with Beth in prison, although the reader has no idea why, and a suggestion from her Councillor to write down all the good things from her life. It's not as straight forward as it sounds, as Beth has had a traumatic and chaotic upbringing - suffering neglect as a young child and then passed from one foster home to another. But she goes along with the idea. Each chapter then concentrates on the story of a good thing.

I can't express how absolutely touching and sincere this story is. Beth got under my skin, I shed tears for her, I got mad at her, I broke my heart for her lost potential. It's such an important story which examines mental health and children in care and the atrocious lack of support afforded them. Beth's written herself off long before she gets to prison, but then why wouldn't she have when everyone else already has anyway?

All The Good Things also forces the reader to consider some uncomfortable ideas about forgiveness and understanding, about good and bad. Beth's crime when it's revealed is shocking - yet there's so many others who are responsible in some small way for the position she finds herself in, it is impossible not to feel empathy and sadness for what almost seems inevitable. But if just one thing had been different? If one person had reached out at the right moment? There's a lot of what if's for this young, tragic girl, yet there's also some hope. I'm not going to say anymore, because that would give things away but I certainly felt by the end that Beth could see how she might be able to have a future.

Clare Fisher writes beautifully and I was completely immersed in this book. It's important - Mental ill health and the lack of support and resources is a real and relevant concern, as is the increasing significance of childhood poverty and life chances. I challenge anyone not to be left emotionally drained, heart-broken and angry at a system that fails some of its most vulnerable after reading All The Good Things. But it's also engaging, Beth is a character you'll care about, find humour with and hope things can get better for her. One of the best books I've read this year, I'll be eagerly watching out for more by Clare Fisher in the future.

( I read an advanced proof courtesy of the publisher)

#BlogTour Review: The Importance of being Me by Caroline Grace-Cassidy @BWPublishing

When was the last time you put yourself first?

Thirty-eight-year-old divorcee Courtney Downey has no idea who she is any more. She has devoted her life to bringing up her beloved 15-year-old daughter Susan, but Courtney just doesn’t get the celebrity-obsessed, Snapchat-filtered teenage world Susan is part of, and they’re growing apart. When Susan announces she wants to live with her dad and his new, younger girlfriend, Courtney is devastated. But could the end of one life be the beginning of another?

When Courtney is offered a job in beautiful, sun-kissed Cornwall, she and her vivacious best friend Claire follow their hearts and leave their problems behind for a summer of sand, sea and second chances. And when she meets sexy but infuriating builder Tony, Courtney rediscovers her passions for life, for cooking and for love.

But just as Courtney is finally looking to the future, a crisis with Susan pulls her back to Dublin, and back into old habits. Will she ever be able to let go of the past and embrace the importance of being herself?  

Published June 29th 2017 by Black and White Publishing (UK)    

Gosh, if ever a book was the right one at the right time, then The Importance Of Being Me was the one for me. Parts of this book felt like it could've been written straight from my own life, as Courtney navigates the tricky world of teenager daughters seemingly drifting away and finding yourself at a certain age and thinking "and now what?"

Thirty Eight year old Courtney Downey is at a crossroads. She's been offered a job in Cornwall, a place she really loves and something she really wants to do. However, her daughter Susan, is dead set against it. But then, Susan is dead set against everything about Courtney these days, and is spending more and more time with her Dad and his new girlfriend, Mar-Nee. When Susan says she want to go and live with them, heartbroken Courtney is faced with a choice. Is it time she put herself first, and in doing that will she actually get her daughter back?

Ok, so my I'm not planning on moving away from my own, younger teenage daughter, but there was just something so recognisable in this relationship that I connected to Courtney right away. I've been having my own difficulties with my teen, and Caroline Grace-Cassidy captured the distancing, frustration, worrying and complete and utter bewilderment I find myself feeling at times. I also really got Courtney's need to do something for herself and learn who she is again, having recently experienced some similar feelings as my older child left home for uni and my youngest spends less and less time with me.

I loved the relationship between Courtney and best friend Claire. It was just so perfectly written, with the sharing of troubles, laughs, cake and wine. Reading their get togethers and chats felt like I was there with friends myself. I felt pain and frustration for Courtney as Susan shuns her for her Dad's new partner, and also pretty angry when neither of them backed Courtney up, making her situation with Susan even more difficult in my opinion. There's a section towards the end of the book that really struck a chord with me, when Susan tells her mum her feelings of anxiety and lack of self esteem, and they discuss social media. This is such a real issue for teenage girls these days, and like Courtney I've been finding it difficult to always understand. Caroline Grace-Cassidy explains it beautifully from Susan, and I really took something from this myself.

What I really enjoyed about this book though was the journey of self discovery that Courtney embarks on and thought it was inspiring. When Courtney realises that to make other people happy, she needs to be happy herself, she throws herself into something new and challenging. There's a romance to enjoy too in this book, and it's convincing, fresh and one readers can easily get behind. The Importance Of Being Me is an excellent portrayal of modern mother and daughter relationships and a coming of age story for child and parent alike. It's honest, funny, painful and uplifting all at once and I thoroughly enjoyed it.



(I read an advance copy courtesy of the publisher)



#BookReview An Act Of Silence by Colette MacBeth @wildfirebks

A powerful psychological thriller about a mother faced with an impossible choice, and the consequences of her decision for years to come. Perfect for fans of APPLE TREE YARD, DISCLAIMER, and television dramas STATE OF PLAY and NATIONAL TREASURE.

These are the facts I collect. 

My son Gabriel met a woman called Mariela in a bar. She went home with him. They next morning she was found in an allotment. 

Mariela is dead. 

Gabriel has been asked to report to Camden Police station in six hours for questioning

Linda Moscow loves her son; it's her biological instinct to keep him safe. But if she's not sure of his innocence, how can she stand by him? Should she go against everything she believes in to protect him?

She's done it before, and the guilt nearly killed her.

Now, the past is catching up with them. As old secrets resurface, Lind is faced with another impossible choice. Only this time, it's her life on the line... 

Published by 29th June 2017 by Wildfire Books (UK) 

Having read and really enjoyed Precious Thing by Colette MacBeth a few years ago I was keen to read another book by this author, although An Act Of Silence sounded very different. Not a problem though, because I think this one's even better!

Linda Moscow was once a leading member of the government - the Home Secretary none the less. However, we join her as a recluse with her political career shattered long ago and her famous comic son's life spiraling out of control in drug and alcohol fueled self destruction.  When he turns up one morning in desperation, she's shocked to hear that the woman he spent the night with has been found murdered and he is the prime suspect. When he has a violent outburst injuring Linda, it seems that the police may be right. But as Colette Macbeth takes the reader back and forward in time, between the present day and both the distant and recent past, it becomes clear that old political secrets and grudges from Linda's government days are still simmering. Could Linda's past and her son's current situation be linked?

Oh. My. Word! What a complex, fascinating, gripping, page turner of a read this is! Packed with suspense, intrigue, corruption and danger, this book is UNPUTDOWNABLE. There is so much layering of secrets and of people not being who or what they seem, it's impossible at times to know who the good guys are and who're the bad - making for addictive reading as twist after twist is revealed.

An Act Of Silence takes on the relevant and harrowing topic of historical sex abuse by people in power, and the corruption and cover-ups over the decades which both trap and ruin people as they become unwittingly entangled in the perpetrators web of lies and blackmail. It constantly has the reader questioning how this can happen and who exactly can be trusted? Alongside this is the subject of a mother and son's relationship, and the damage caused by secrets and misunderstanding on both parts. There's also the question of how far would a mother be willing to go to protect her son, and I thought this was done particularly well, making for some shocking  revelations.

Colette MacBeth has written several complex, layered characters in this book, all fully developed with backgrounds, personality quirks and circumstances leading to one explosive and catastrophic event. There's shades to all of these characters who have found themselves caught up in a situation not of their making. I never once found them unbelievable, finding them convincingly human and flawed.

An Act Of Silence is a an extremely clever and twisty book, with intricately woven secrets and dark lies making for a tense and compulsive read - I highly recommend it.

(I read an advance proof copy couresy of the Amazon Vine program)


#BlogTour Review: Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy @VikingBooksUk #Donotbecomealarmed

When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship's comforts and possibilities seem infinite. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor mishaps lead the families further from the ship's safety.

One minute the children are there, and the next they're gone.

What follows is a heart-racing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the distraught parents - now turning on one another and blaming themselves - try to recover their children and their shattered lives. 

Published 6th July 2017 by Viking (UK)  

I was intrigued by this book from the moment I heard the title - I mean, just the fact it's called Do Not Become Alarmed tells you that it is indeed going to be alarming right? And it is, but not in the way I was expecting. I wasn't really sure what I thought this book was going to be about, probably more of a thriller on board a cruise ship than it actually is. But Do Not Become Alarmed actually turned out to be a gritty , brutal story of criminals, kidnap, murder and corruption.

It all starts when the two families decide to take a cruise holiday for Christmas. These people are successful, rich and privileged (and yes, a bit spoilt) and the liner reflects that. Surrounded by opulence and wealth, they set out to enjoy a life of luxury offered to guests on board the ship. But when they decide to leave the ship for a zip-line trip in Central America, one disaster after the other leads to the kids becoming separated from their parents and finding themselves in the hands of  a violent criminal, who'll stop at nothing to make sure they won't be able to go back and tell of the awful things they've seen.

First up, this is a fast paced book with a narrative that begs you to read just one more chapter. I read it within a couple of hours on a weekend morning and couldn't put it down. Meloy doesn't mess about with words, and this tone makes for a compulsive and addictive reading experience, and the short chapters switching from the kids to the parents and back again rapidly makes it impossible to put the book down.

There's a lot to think about here, with some social and political themes running alongside this terrifying story. The wealthy American's confidence in their lives and success, influence and justice is thrown into question when they're faced with a different set of rules than the one's they are used to. There's also a stark contrast between the Cruise ship children and another two who are introduced in the story.

My feelings for the parents switched from distaste, to frustration, to absolute empathy. I thought all the character's within this book were excellently and realistically portrayed, with shades and layers which make them flawed, but also makes them human. As it becomes a race against time to find the missing children, my heart was literally in my mouth and some of the more traumatic scenes left me reeling in horror. More so, because there's something convincingly real and believable about this story.

Do Not Become Alarmed surprised me with its intensity and its ability to grab my attention, holding it until the very last page. It's a thriller, yes, but it's also a story of survival and Maile Meloy's brutally raw writing ensures the reader is invested in and gripped by the journey. Fast-paced, gripping and addictive, I thought it was fantastic and I can not recommend it enough.  

(I read a paperback copy courtesy of the publisher)




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