Book review and cover for The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl

March has arrived with the daffodils, some gorgeous days interspersed with storms. With the rain and wind outside, I have been enjoying snuggling in the warm reading. I am pleased to share my review for The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl. When I am out I love seeing old doors, the quirkier or unusual the better and always wonder about the secrets that lie behind them. The image on this cover with the protagonist standing in the entrance of green weather beaten door caught my imagination making me want to follow her so I was thrilled to be offered a place on this tour with Rachel Random Resources.

Book Review: The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl

cover from fb

Title: The Forgotten Secret

Author: Kathleen McGurl

Genre: Women’s Fiction, historical

Publisher: HQ Digital

Release date: 1st March 2019

Purchase Links

UK  – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Forgotten-Secret-heartbreaking-gripping-historical-ebook/dp/B07H2PMPR3

US  – https://www.amazon.com/Forgotten-Secret-heartbreaking-gripping-historical-ebook/dp/B07H2PMPR3  

Blurb

A country at war

It’s the summer of 1919 and Ellen O’Brien has her whole life ahead of her. Young, in love and leaving home for her first job, the future seems full of shining possibility. But war is brewing and before long Ellen and everyone around her are swept up by it. As Ireland is torn apart by the turmoil, Ellen finds herself facing the ultimate test of love and loyalty.

And a long-buried secret

A hundred years later and Clare Farrell has inherited a dilapidated old farmhouse in County Meath. Seizing the chance to escape her unhappy marriage she strikes out on her own for the first time, hoping the old building might also provide clues to her family’s shadowy history. As she sets out to put the place – and herself – back to rights, she stumbles across a long-forgotten hiding place, with a clue to a secret that has lain buried for decades.

For fans of Kate Morton and Gill Paul comes an unforgettable novel about two women fighting for independence.

My Thoughts

I do not know much about Irish history, the formation of Northern Ireland and its complex relationship with Britain except from the odd bits I have picked up from the news and books. In the present day political climate it has never been more important to learn and I’m grateful for the insight this book gave me into the War of Independence and beyond. I appreciated the summary of events at the beginning which helped in the understanding Ellen’s story.

The Forgotten Secret has a dual timeline. One story is set in 1996 with Clare finding her feet as she claims her independence from her overbearing husband after she inherits a tumbling down cottage in Ireland. The other follows Ellen as she gets a job as a maid in 1919.  Clashes between the Irish volunteers and the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) turn her life turned upside down. Loyalties between family and friends are stretched to the limits. Reading about the past events and people’s lives in Ireland was shocking and left me reeling.  It started many conversations which is always a good by-product of a well researched novel.

Both characters intrigued me; they were both stronger than they thought they could be and working towards independence but it was Ellen and the increased tension building in her life which drove the novel forward. From the beginning, I needed to know what happened to her and her childhood sweetheart. Kathleen McGurl captured the fear of the time with her words. It was only as Clare’s story unfolded and the farmhouse revealed the keys to the mystery in her family I formed a solid connection to her. By the end, I was hooked on both timelines.

Would I recommend?

Yes, it is an emotional, thought-provoking read with strong women finding their own way. The blend of history, love and mystery makes it a good book for reading under the duvet or in the garden enjoying the sun. I have never read any of the author’s book before so I am delighted to add some more books to my TBR.

Author Biography

 

Kathleen McGurl author of The Forgotten Secret

Kathleen McGurl

Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, UK, with her husband and elderly tabby cat. She has two sons who are now grown-up and have left home. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present, and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.

Social Media Links –

Website:  https://kathleenmcgurl.com/

Twitter: @KathMcGurl  https://twitter.com/KathMcGurl

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KathleenMcGurl/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kathleenmcgurl/

Thank you Rachel Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and Kathleen McGurl and HQ Digital for giving me to read an advanced copy so I could give an unbiased, honest review.

Have you read any books based in Ireland about the Troubles? Let me know in the comments below as I would love to know more about this subject.

Happy reading!

Love

Katie signature pink

 

P.S If you would like to know more about the book and author, why not pop over to the other blogs on the tour. Info given below.

The Forgotten Secret Full Tour Banner

Blog Tour and Book Review: The Secret to Falling in Love by Victoria Cooke

Welcome to a birthday post for The Secret to Falling in Love by Victoria Cooke. Thank you @raresources for inviting me to this celebratory blog tour and the free book to read so I could review. Scroll down for my thoughts on this romance novel and the giveaway.

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Book Review for The Secret to Falling in Love by Victoria Cooke.

TheSecretToFallingInLove_V2 copy

The Secret to Falling in Love by Victoria Cooke

Title: The Secret to Falling in Love

Author: Victoria Cooke

Publisher: HQ Digital

Genre: Romance

Release Date: 9th February 2017

Blurb

Lifestyle journalist and thirty-something singleton Melissa hashtags, insta’s and snapchats her supposedly fabulous life on every social media platform there is.

That is until she wakes up on her birthday, another year older and still alone, wondering if for all her internet dates, love really can be found online? The challenge: go technology free for a whole month!

Forced to confront the reality of her life without its perfect filters, Melissa knows she needs to make some changes. But when she bumps into not one, but two gorgeous men, without the use of an app, she believes there could be hope for love offline.

If only there was a way to choose the right guy for her…

Purchase Link – getBook.at/TheSecrettoFallinginLove

My Thoughts

I have a confession I am addicted to my phone. It is my constant companion and I find it difficult not to scroll through the social media apps. The premise of this novel struck a cord and I was intrigued how the story would evolve.

Melissa was instantly likeable as she struggles to find the man of her dreams when everyone around her is settling down and I could relate to her. She doesn’t plan for her sabbatical from technology so with no preparation it instantly shows how reliant we are on it for our social interaction even on the simplest level. The world opened up to her as she saw the activity around her, new relationships formed and she began to live. This thought-provoking novel is humorous and uplifting. It made me remember the time before I had access to the internet. I would be unable to last month without my phone but it made me consider whether I need to use it as much as I do.

Would I recommend?

Yes it is an enjoyable, entertaining read which makes you leave the phone alone and appreciate the world around you. This was her debut; I am pleased there is a back catalogue of her books to catch up on.

 Author Biography

Victoria Cooke Image

Victoria Cooke

 

Victoria Cooke grew up in the city of Manchester before crossing the Pennines in pursuit of a career in education. She now lives in Huddersfield with her husband and two young daughters and when she’s not at home writing by the fire with a cup of coffee in hand, she loves working out in the gym and travelling. Victoria was first published at the tender age of eight by her classroom teacher who saw potential in a six-page story about an invisible man. Since then she’s always had a passion for reading and writing, undertaking several writers’ courses before completing her first novel, ‘The Secret to Falling in Love,’ in 2016.

 

 

 

 

Social Media Links 

https://www.facebook.com/VictoriaCookeAuthor

https://twitter.com/victoriacooke10

https://www.instagram.com/victoriacookewriter

Giveaway – Win an ARC of The Secret to Falling in Love and a box of Belgian Truffles (UK Only)

I am pleased to share a chance to win your own advanced copy of The Secret to Falling in Love and chocolate. Good luck!

Click here to enter

I hope you have a good weekend with time to read. What is your current book? Feel free to share below.

Happy reading!

Love

 

 

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Stalker by Lars Keplar

Those who were following me last year may remember how I loved Lars Keplar’s The Sandman so I was eager to read the next in the series Stalker. When I was offered the chance to be involved in this blog tour I knew I had to squeal “yes please”. Thanks @AAknopf for a free advanced copy of the book to review.

Book Review for Stalker by Lars Keplar

Stalker by Lars Kepler

Stalker by Lars Keplar

Title: Stalker

Author: Lars Keplar

Publisher: Alfred A Knopf

Genre: Crime, psychological thriller

Release Date: 5th February 2019

Blurb

The internationally bestselling authors of The Sandman and The Hypnotist return with a
terrifying new thriller:

Detective Joona Linna–recently returned from compassionate
leave–reunites with hypnotist Erik Maria Bark in a search for a seemingly unassailable
sadistic killer.The Swedish National Crime Unit receives a video of a young woman in her home, clearly unaware that she’s being watched. Soon after the tape is received, the woman’s body is found horrifically mutilated. With the arrival of the next, similar video, the police understand that the killer is toying with them, warning of a new victim, knowing there’s nothing they can do. Detective Margot Silverman is put in charge of the investigation, and soon asks Detective Joona Linna for help. Linna, in turn, recruits Erik Maria Bark, the hypnotist and expert in trauma, with whom Linna’s worked before. Bark is leery of forcing people to give up their secrets. But this time, Bark is the one hiding things. Years before, he had put a man away for an eerily similar crime, and now he’s beginning to think that an innocent man may be behind bars–and a serial killer still on the loose. . .

My Thoughts

Lars Keplar have a unique style which I love and their books are always dark common in the Scandinavian noir genre. This is no exception. The murders are graphic and tap into the fear of being watched while living your life or getting dressed. I was always paranoid about the curtains being open at night but now I am even more cautious.

It follows on from The Sandman and though this book could be read as a standalone the complex lives and relationships between the characters may mean you may miss some of the depth of the story and the motivation of their actions.  Joona Linna is assumed dead allowing another detective Margot Silverman to take on his role to investigate. I liked her as a protagonist and think she could have carried the story alone. Heavily pregnant she is determined to solve the case before maternity leave so reluctantly accepts help when Joona reappears along with Erik Bark from the book The Hypnotist.

I was drawn in with the intensity of the first murder and the urgency to catch the killer before he strikes again. The fast pace at the beginning made me eager to know who the murderer was and why but there was a lull in the middle and I began to lose interest. If I was not reviewing I may have put it to one side but I am glad I didn’t as the pace quickened towards a satisfying conclusion. With the unexpected twists and turns as it delves into the world of drugs and human psyche, Stalker is a good read but it lacked the connection for the characters I have felt with the previous books.

Would I recommend?

Yes despite my misgivings Lars Keplar are strong talented authors and Stalker is still a high quality, enjoyable Nordic thriller.

About Lars Kepler:

Lars Kepler_photo credit_Ewa-Marie Rundquist

LARS KEPLER is the pseudonym of the critically acclaimed husband and wife team Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril and Alexander Ahndoril. Their number one internationally bestselling Joona Linna series has sold more than twelve million copies in forty languages. The Ahndorils were both established writers before they adopted the pen name Lars Kepler and have each published several acclaimed novels. They live in Stockholm, Sweden. Translated by Neil Smith.

 

 

 

 

Social media

Author Website: http://larskepler.com/

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/larskepler/

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/larskepler/

Have a good weekend and happy reading!

Love

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Blog Tour & Book Review: Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman (@LucyColemanAuth) @Aria_Fiction @RaRaResources

It is a miserable grey day outside and I am reluctant to move from under my duvet. I am pleased to share my review of Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman which brightened up these recent wintery days. Thank you to Rachel Random Resources for my free book and inviting me to this tour.

Book Review for Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman

Lakes yellow

Title: Summer on the Italian Lakes

Author: Lucy Coleman

Publisher: Aria

Genre: Romance, General fiction

Release date: 5th February 2019

Blurb

Bestselling Brianna Middleton has won the hearts of millions of readers with her sweeping – and steamy – love stories. But the girl behind the typewriter is struggling… Not only does she have writer’s block, but she’s a world-famous romance author with zero romance in her own life.

So the opportunity to spend the summer teaching at a writer’s retreat in an idyllic villa on the shores of Lake Garda – owned by superstar author Arran Jamieson – could this be just the thing to fire up Brie’s writing – and romantic – mojo?

Brie’s sun-drenched Italian summer could be the beginning of this writer’s very own happy-ever-after…

Escape the January blues with this sun-drenched, heart-warming story from the bestselling author of Snowflakes Over Holly Cove.

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Italian-Lakes-bestselling-feel-good-ebook/dp/B07HPD2KNV

US – https://www.amazon.com/Summer-Italian-Lakes-bestselling-feel-good-ebook/dp/B07HPD2KNV

My Thoughts

As soon as I met the main character of this book, Brie surrounded by snotty tissues while she dealt with her heartbreak I knew I was in for a treat. I love this book for three reasons.

1.The characters – Brie is an open-hearted, old-fashioned romantic and is usually a strong woman who is a defender of romance novels against those who look down at them. She comes across as balanced and despite her confidence plummeting at the beginning, current doubts and loneliness, she has a certainty about herself which makes this a refreshing read. Handsome Arran is aloof, and comes with a back story that drew me in, making me care for him. Along with Brie’s editor and best friend the characters leapt from the page making it easy to see the story like a good rom-com in my imagination.

2.The scenery – oh my! Lucy Coleman paints a picture with her words and I was there in the sunshine enjoying Lake Garda with Brie and strolling through the streets of the Italian towns. The landscapes are stunning making them the perfect location for some literary escapism.

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Lake Garda, Italy

3.The writing tips – as an aspiring writer the tips and insights Brie offers her students at the writing retreat and the reader are invaluable. They are cleverly blended into the story but cover topics such as characterisation, writer’s block, doubts and joy of romance novels. It is a romance writing companion in disguise. I only wish I could be at the retreat in reality to soak up the tranquillity and expertise while learning how to write 3000 words before breakfast.

Would I recommend?

Summer on the Italian Lakes is uplifting and entertaining making it a perfect summer read or a pick me up on a grey, miserable day. With the characters, landscape, sun and chemistry I was reluctant to come out of the book into reality. It will be a story I will return to again and again.

Author Biography

LBH

Lucy Coleman

From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus) and Harper Impulse (Harper Collins); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Social Media Links –

Website: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LinnBHaltonAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucyColemanAuth

Giveaway – Win a Chocolate dipping set (UK only)*

Writing Retreat Prize

Chocolate Dipping Set

Enter here

If you want to know more about the book and author why not pop along to the other blogs on the tour, details below.

Thank you again to Rachel at raresourses for inviting me to this tour and NetGalley for the chance to read it for free.

Happy reading and good luck.

Love

Summer on the Italian Lakes Full Tour Banner

Other bloggers on this tour.

 

 

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

 

Blog Tour: Book review for The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker by Jenni Keer

It is the start of a new week and there are rumours the weather is turning bitterly cold so I am pleased to bring you a review for Jenni Keer’s debut The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker. You may be tempted to stay under the duvet, in the warm with a cup of tea and read.

Book Review: The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker

the hopes and dreams final cover

The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker Book Cover

Title: The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker

Author: Jenni Keer

Publisher: Avon Books UK

Genre: Romance

Release Date: 10th January 2019

Blurb

Meet Lucy, aged 25, and Brenda, aged 79. Neighbours and unlikely friends.

Lucy Baker is not your usual 25-year-old. She is more at home reading and knitting in her cluttered little flat than going out partying and socialising.

79-year-old Brenda is full of wise and wonderful advice, but when she’s diagnosed with dementia her life begins to change. Before her memories slip away for ever, Brenda is desperate to fulfil one last wish – to see Lucy happy.

Gifting Lucy the locket that helped Brenda find her own true love, she hopes to push her reticent neighbour in the right direction. But is Lucy Baker ready for the opportunities and heartbreaks of the real world? It’s about time she put her knitting needles aside and found out…

The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker will be the most charming, heart-warming and feel-good novel you will read this year, perfect for fans of Ruth Hogan and Gail Honeyman.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hopes-Dreams-Lucy-Baker-heart-warming-ebook/dp/B07DQ7HKPX/

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Hopes-Dreams-Lucy-Baker-heart-warming-ebook/dp/B07DQ7HKPX/

My Thoughts

When Brenda with her purple hair, mystical air and cheeky side arrived in the first few pages I knew I would love this book. The warm, honest writing style drew me into Lucy’s life and kept me there until the last page.

This charming, quirky story is driven by the characters Jenni Keer has created; I loved them all from the main ones Lucy, Brenda and George to the men in the warehouse where Lucy works and Scratcat the stray. They all have distinct personalities and feel real. Where I could relate to Lucy with her tendency to prefer romantic books and knitting to experiencing life or rock the boat by saying “no”, it was Brenda who captured my heart. She is who I would like to be when I am older; full of life, humour and kindness with a penchant for magic. I did not want the book to end because I did not want to leave her behind. Maybe a prequel of her youth is needed, I am sure she will have an interesting tale to tell. Her battle with dementia is heartbreaking but the topic is dealt with sympathetically and gives an insight into the pressures of caring and the challenges it creates. The love and deep friendship between Lucy and Brenda shines and proves age does not matter when you are friends.

The introduction of Scratcat, George and the locket created many memorable moments and I will never forget the knitted Poldarks which also feature in this tale of friendship, love and personal growth. I enjoyed Lucy’s journey as she tackles the insecurities at work, her colleagues and potential relationships. This debut has got under my skin and I am still thinking about the characters a couple of weeks since I read The End.

I am looking forward to reading more from this author.

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Knitted Poldark one of the stars of the book

Would I recommend?

This beautiful story is perfect for snuggling down under the duvet with a cup of tea or on the beach in the summer. The humour and strong characterisation means I will revisiting this book in the future and needs to be on my forever shelf.

Author Biography

the hopes and dreams jk mono 2

Author Jenni Keer

Jenni Keer is a history graduate who embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her antique furniture restorer husband. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing women’s fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere with her number one fan #Blindcat by her side. Much younger in her head than she is on paper, she adores any excuse for fancy-dress and is part of a disco formation dance team.
Social Media Links

FaceBook Jenni Keer Writer

Twitter @JenniKeer

Instagram jennikeer

Website – https://jennikeer.co.uk/

Competition

I am pleased to share with you the chance to win a bundle of The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker goodies (UK only – sorry)*. The prize contains – Thornton’s fudge, a Nu notebook, a Hopes and Dreams bookmark and a set of five “Scratbag” blank greetings cards designed by Jenni Keer.

the hopes and dreams giveaway prize

The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker prizes

Enter here

Thank you Rachel Random Resources for inviting me on this blog tour and the opportunity to read this book early. This my honest, unbiased review.

Happy reading!

Love

the hopes and dreams of lucy baker full tour banner

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Book review for Crooked Daylight by Helen Slavin

Book review for Crooked Daylight by Helen Slavin

My final book review of the year is Crooked Daylight by Helen Slavin and takes the number of books I have read for my reading challenge to 84 . When I set my target of 52 I was unsure if it would be reached but despite focusing on other things, such as writing, I did it. There were so many wonderful books released this year I had to keep reading and being a member of online book groups always increases the TBR list.

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Book review for Crooked Daylight by Helen Slavin

Crooked Daylight

Crooked Daylight by Helen Slavin

Title: Crooked Daylight

Author: Helen Slavin

Genre: Paranormal, suspense

Publisher: Agora Books

Release Date: 8th Oct 2017

Blurb

The Way sisters, Anna, Charlie and Emz, were raised in two worlds. Their mother’s realm of reason, measurement and logic, and the world inhabited by their spectacularly unconventional grandmother, Hettie.

While their mother worked, the sisters ran wild at Hettie’s Cob Cottage, discovering forbidden Pike Lake, unknowable Havoc Wood, and what their grandmother referred to only as ‘The Strengths’.

But time passed, the sisters grew up, work and relationships and their mother’s world won them over, and The Strengths lay forgotten…

That is until Hettie passes away suddenly, leaving behind Cob Cottage and a whole lot of questions.

Anna is busy trying very hard not to cry as she caters yet another wedding, Charlie is spending more time at the job she loves than with the boyfriend she’s not quite sure about and Emz is dreaming up new ways to avoid school and the drama that comes with it, but can they deal with strange guests, unexpected danger and some long-forgotten memories?

My Thoughts

I was recommended this series by Mai Taylor of Mai’s Musings. If she says I will like it I know I am in for a treat. Through her, I discovered the delightful The Toymaker and colourful Caravel.

From the start with the description of their grandmother’s funeral it was clear the Way sisters do not follow the rules. They are great characters with different problems to overcome while they adapt to life without their beloved Grandmother Hettie and I loved the close bond between them. It was a joy to read the emergence of their talents with imaginative descriptions of their magic.

The setting of Cob House and the lake which is central to the story is beautiful with an eerie dangerous edge. It was easy to visualise the woods and the blackness of the lake. I could feel the pull it had on the sisters and their guest Serin Lake; I wanted to swim in it and feel the coolness despite the dangers.

This story is about relationships between sisters, grief and the supernatural with a malevolent theme throughout. There are deliciously dark moments with the action and suspense led me further into the story and kept me up past bedtime.

Helen Slavin has created a world I need to revisit to discover where the loose threads lead and where side characters fit in with the bigger picture. I can’t wait to read more.

Would I recommend?

This book lured me in within pages and kept captivated throughout. The pace quickens in the second part making it impossible to put down and left me wanting more. Luckily, the second in the series is on my Kindle waiting to be one of the first books to read in 2019. If you love tales of the paranormal and suspense give this ago.

 

Thank you for following my blog this year and I hope you all have a good 2019 with plenty of good books.

Thank you

Thank you *

Happy reading!

Love

Book Review for The List That Changed My Life by Olivia Beirne

I stumbled upon this book on Twitter. People were raving about the laughs it induced and with recommendations from my favourite authors I needed to give it ago. I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was available on NetGalley and thrilled to receive it. Scroll down to read my unbiased, honest opinion.

Book Review: The List That Changed My Life by Olivia Beirne

The List that Changed My Life cover

The List that changed my life by Olivia Beirne

Title: The List That Changed My Life

Author: Olivia Beirne

Publisher: Headline

Genre: Romance

Release date: 22nd November 2018

Blurb

Sometimes all you need is a little push…

‘One of the most hilarious books I have read for a very long time. Olivia writes with great warmth and wit – a fantastically funny debut.’ Emma Cooper, author of The Songs of Us

Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Katie Marsh and Marian Keyes, Olivia Beirne’s The List That Changed My Life takes its readers on an hilarious and heart-warming journey of a lifetime, showing us what it means to really be alive.

Georgia loves wine, reality TV and sitting on the sofa after work. She does not love heights, looking at her bank account, going on dates, or activities that involve a sports bra. And she will never, ever take a risk.

That is, until her braver, bolder, big sister finds out that she won’t be able to tick off the things she wanted to do before turning thirty, and turns to Georgia to help her finish her list.

With the birthday just months away, Georgia suddenly has a deadline to learn to grab life with both hands. Could she be brave enough to take the leap, for her sister?

And how might her own life change if she did?

My thoughts

I started to read this late Christmas Eve and was hooked. Luckily, I had a quiet Christmas and  could read between the pressie openings, munching of mince pies and dinner when everyone was distracted. This is a heart-warming, uplifting book which I needed to read and was the perfect antidote for the overindulgence of festive reading. Believe me, like mince pies with Baileys cream there comes a point when your mind says no more Christmas storylines.

Georgia is an every day 26 year old facing the daily battles with her job, rent and dating until she steps out of her comfort zone to complete her sister’s list. I could relate to her in every way so when faced with the challenges I cringed, laughed and cheered with her. Her observations and inner dialogue are accurate and funny. Though she sees Amy as the more confident, pretty and mature sister their closeness shines through. This is a story about the bond between sisters which gets stretched in difficult times.

I was intrigued to see how M.S would be conveyed but Olivia Beirne tackled Amy’s diagnosis sensitively and it was nice to see how illness affects not only the person with it but those around them. The only other book I have read with M.S central to the plot was The Breakdown Lane by Jacqueline Mitchard which traumatised me when I was facing similar neurological tests. The List That Changed My Life shows the devastation of the disease and how everyone has to adapt but it is full of fun, laughs and warmth so I came away from the book feeling positive and upbeat. It also inspired me to be more involved with charities who work tirelessly to support those in need.

Would I recommend?

Olivia Beirne has written a wonderful strong debut full of emotion and humour.  Now is the perfect time to read it as we hurtle to the end of this year and make our own lists for the upcoming one. I can’t wait to read more of her work.

Thank you NetGalley and Headline for the opportunity to read this book.

Happy reading and wish you a brilliant New Year!

P.S What are you looking forward to reading next year? Let me know in the comments below.

Book Review: Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye

Christmas is not Christmas without reading or watching A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The Muppets version starring Michael Caine is traditionally watched on Christmas Eve by the whole family but other versions are watched too throughout the month. On 1st December, I take my illustrated version of the tale off my forever shelf for its annual read. This well-known story is perfect for Christmas with its cruel villain, lessons on love and redemption as well as its powerful festive imagery. So I jumped with glee when I was offered the chance to read the prequel Miss Marley: A Christmas Ghost Story – a prequel to A Christmas Carol.

Miss Marley

Miss Marley: A Christmas Ghost Story – a prequel to A Christmas Carol

Title: Miss Marley: A Christmas Ghost Story – a prequel to A Christmas Carol

Author: Vanessa Lafaye

Genre: Festive, general fiction

Publisher: HQ

Release date: 1st Nov 2018

Blurb

Before A Christmas Carol there was… Miss Marley

A seasonal tale of kindness and goodwill

Orphans Clara and Jacob Marley live by their wits, scavenging for scraps in the poorest alleyways of London, in the shadow of the workhouse. Every night, Jake promises his little sister ‘tomorrow will be better’ and when the chance to escape poverty comes their way, he seizes it despite the terrible price.

And so Jacob Marley is set on a path that leads to his infamous partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge. As Jacob builds a fortress of wealth to keep the world out, only Clara can warn him of the hideous fate that awaits him if he refuses to let love and kindness into his heart…

In Miss Marley, Vanessa Lafaye weaves a spellbinding Dickensian tale of ghosts, goodwill and hope – a perfect prequel to A Christmas Carol.

My Thoughts

The beautiful red cover with gold lettering is attractive and oozes Christmas spirit. It was a joy to hold it in my hands adding to my excitement to reading it. I was concerned it would not live up to my expectations after all it is aspiring to be like to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol but I did not need to have worried this book is a wonderful delight. It captures the soul of the original, the language and grittiness of Dickensian life. Her words provoke powerful, colourful imagery as the original did; I was immersed in the stench of poverty at times and in heaven with the aroma of fresh loose leaf tea in their chests. I could hear the swish of the women’s long skirts and would be happy to gaze in the toy shop window for hours. The characters are vivid and I could not help connect with the strong, smart and caring Miss Clara Belle Marley as she tells the story of her life with her protective brother, Jacob and her meeting with Ebeneezer Scrooge.

It is emotional, and I never expected I would hate another fictional villain as much as Scrooge but I do now.

Talented Rebecca Mascull completed the manuscript after Vanessa Lafaye’s death and it is a seamless blend of writing. Unless I had read the postscript, I would never have known. It was written after a conversation about the setting up of A Christmas Carol Appreciation Society. If it ever exists, I like many would love to join -please.

This small novella is on my forever shelf and will become part of my Christmas tradition to read every Advent along with the A Christmas Carol. It gives a warm feeling in my heart with its timeless magic. The only way it could be improved is a glorious illustrated version to be enjoyed and sit with my illustrated A Christmas Carol.

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Thank you Harper Collins Publishers for my copy so I could give my honest, unbiased opinion. I will treasure it.

If you are only reading one Christmas book read this. If I could, I would become a book fairy and bundle it in a festive bow and leave in unexpected places to spread the Christmas cheer.

Do you have a book you turn to every year? Let me know in the comments below.

Merry Christmas! Happy reading

Love

Book review: Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin by Helen J Rolfe

I love this time of year. There is nothing quite like reading a festive book surrounded by Christmas decorations so I was excited to be invited to take part in this tour for Helen J Rolfe’s novel Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin. Grab a hot chocolate, tea or coffee and scroll down for my review.

Book Review: Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin by Helen J Rolfe

Christmas miracles for amazon and websites etc

Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin

Title: Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin

Author: Helen J Rolfe

Genre: Romance

Blurb

Do you believe in Christmas Miracles?

Holly is looking for a change and even though not everyone agrees with her career choices, she’s determined there’s more to this life than the long hours she works as an editor in New York City. What she doesn’t expect is to meet Mitch, a recluse who’s hiding more than she realises.

Mitch does all he can to avoid human contact, spending his days in the little log cabin out in the woods behind Inglenook Falls where he owns a Christmas tree farm, so when Holly falls into his life, he’s not sure how to react. All he knows is that something needs to change if he ever wants to get his life back on track.

Along with friends Cleo and Darcy, Holly is determined to bring joy back to Mitch’s life, but will he appreciate their interference? And when a business proposition throws everything up in the air, will it do more harm than good and ruin lives forever?

Both Holly and Mitch must learn that on the surface people aren’t always what they seem…but if you dig a little deeper, they can take you by surprise.

Curl up this Christmas for plenty of snowflakes, roaring log fires, a marriage proposal, unlikely friendships and second chances as we return to the much-loved characters in the New York Ever After series.

Purchase Link

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Christmas-Miracles-Little-Cabin-After-ebook/dp/B07HJ78RWY

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Miracles-Little-Cabin-After-ebook/dp/B07HJ78RWY

My Thoughts

This is the first book I have read by Helen J, Rolfe but her others are now firmly on my TBR list. Reading this novel it was obvious it is part of a series but this does not detract from the enjoyment and it can be happily read as a standalone. As with all series, if you have read the others you would probably have an added element to it.

I was instantly transported into Holly’s life as she leaves the comfort of a secure well paid job to become freelance photographer. I loved her natural flair, determination to succeed the balance work and passion for something she loves, and morals. Her time is split between the bright lights and festivities of Manhattan and the calmer, idyllic town of Inglenook Falls and of course, the little log cabin. It has a festive setting for everyone and are all special in their own way.

The hunky man in the woods, Mitch, has a story I was eager to discover and had to keep reading to find out more. With his log cabin and a sprinkle of snow this book has a festive feel throughout that increases as it continues. My enjoyment rose when as the story developed and by the end, I was ready to celebrate the big day with a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart.

Would I recommend?

This is a delightful feel good book – perfect to read in the twinkle of Christmas lights, drinking hot chocolate when you need to escape from the hectic activity this season can bring.

Author Biography

Author Photograph Helen Rolfe (4)

Helen J Rolfe

Helen J Rolfe writes contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys weaving stories about family, friendship, secrets, and community. Characters often face challenges and must fight to overcome them, but above all, Helen’s stories always have a happy ending.

Location is a big part of the adventure in Helen’s books and she enjoys setting stories in different cities and countries around the world. So far, locations have included Melbourne, Sydney, New York, Connecticut, Bath and the Cotswolds.

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/helenjrolfewriter

https://twitter.com/HJRolfe

www.helenjrolfe.com

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/helen-j-rolfe

Thanks again Rachel Random Resources for sharing this book with me in exchange for an honest review.

What are you reading over the Christmas period? Have you read this series? Let me know your thoughts below.

Happy reading!

Book Review: The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan

I love this time of year for reading; the chilly days, long evenings in front of the fire make it ideal for curling up under a duvet to read. With the Christmas tree sparkling and festive music playing it is time to read some Christmas themed books. The first one I would like to share is The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan.

Book review for The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan

The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan

 

Title: The Christmas Lights

Author: Karen Swan

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Publisher: Pan MacMillan

Release date: 1st Nov 2018

Blurb

Set on the scenic fjords of Norway, The Christmas Lights by bestselling author Karen Swan is a moving Christmas tale of love and heartbreak.

December 2018, and free-spirited influencers Bo Loxley and her partner Zac are living a life of wanderlust, travelling the globe and sharing their adventures with their millions of fans.

Booked to spend Christmas in the Norwegian fjords, they set up home in a remote farm owned by enigmatic mountain guide Anders and his fierce grandmother Signy. Surrounded by snowy peaks and frozen falls, everything should be perfect. But the camera can lie and with every new post, the ‘perfect’ life Zac and Bo are portraying is diverging from the truth.

Something Bo can’t explain is wrong at the very heart of their lives and Anders is the only person who’ll listen.

June 1936, and fourteen-year old Signy is sent with her sister and village friends to the summer pastures to work as milkmaids, protecting the herd that will sustain the farm through the long, winter months. But miles from home and away from the safety of their families, threat begins to lurk in friendly faces . . .

The mountains keep secrets – Signy knows this better than anyone – and as Bo’s life begins to spiral she is forced, like the old woman before her, to question who is friend and who is foe.

My Thoughts

Norway is one of the places I would love to visit so the blurb instantly attracted me to the book with the added lure of the possibility of reading about the Northern Lights which have been on my wish list of things to see forever.

I was not disappointed; Karen Swan has a talent of taking you into the stunning landscapes she describes with her characters. I could visualise the scenery and experience the smells, weather and drama along with Bo, the main character and this book does not skint on taking the reader on an adventure without leaving the sofa.  I have added many places on my virtual bucket list to visit because Bo is an Instagram influencer who visits extreme places to delight her followers.

For me, this book was a perfect Christmas read for many reasons beyond the scenery; the characters have depth beyond many in this genre,  the sense history as the tale of Signy is revealed,  and Karen Swan’s storytelling drew me in until the end. It has everything suspense, drama, history and romance entwined with snow, log cabins, trees and Christmas as Bo discovers more than waterfalls in Norway.

It is one of my favourite Christmas books this year and I would love to share it with you. Pop over to my Facebook page or Instagram for a chance to enter a giveaway to win a copy along with other goodies – hurry the deadline is midnight on 14th December.

Thank you NetGalley for the chance to read an ARC in exchange for a honest review.

What are you reading in the run up to Christmas?

Happy reading and good luck!

Katie signature pink