#MyHusbandsDaughter by Emma Robinson @EmmaRobinsonUK @Bookouture

Many thanks, as always to Bookouture for the tour invite and ARC.

It is just past ten o’clock on a cold Friday evening when Rebecca and her husband Jack’s doorbell rings. Outside is a woman who introduces herself as Jack’s ex-girlfriend Cara. And she’s holding the hand of a shivering, blue-eyed, four-year-old girl. Who she claims is Jack’s daughter.
Rebecca is shocked to discover he has a child from his last relationship – even one he hadn’t known about. Because becoming parents isn’t part of their life plan. They like children, but they also love their freedom and spending time together uninterrupted; the way that, if they wanted to, they could travel the world at a moment’s notice.
But Cara needs them. Because Cara has a devastating secret that she can’t tell anyone yet. Not even her daughter. A secret with the power to change all of their lives.
A secret that will ultimately mean Rebecca has to ask herself – could she find it in herself to welcome her husband’s child into her home, and into her heart?

What does TWG think?

Oh for goodness sake, Emma Robinson, did you have to go and switch on the water works? I mean, really?!

I’ve been crying a lot recently, so when I decided to pick up a book thought it was going to be a light hearted, Peppa Pig type book that I had chosen (no, wait, that mardy pig makes me cry too!). Then I realised I needed to read Emma Robinson’s novel and straight away knew that any hopes of furry beings having picnics were to stay where they belonged; on my daughters bookshelf. Instead of a Teddy bear picnic I had tension. I had suspense. I had emotion so fraught that I was scared it was going to slice my heart in two.

This book is black and white proof as to why Robinson is a published author, and there is no denying that her characterisation and realistic storylines make for excellent and dramatic reading.

The main topic of this read is a tough pill to swallow, however it is beautifully done in every sense of the word. I know I am being exceptionally vague by not delving into specific parts of the book or giving too much away, and thats because I don’t want to ruin the experience of this novel for anyone else. My only advice to you all would be to grab the tissues before you start reading, mute the phones, and buckle up for a ride you’ll never forget.

Buy now

#TheItalianGirls by Debbie Rix (@DebbieRix) @Bookouture

Thank you, as always, to Bookouture for inviting me on Debbie Rix’s blog tour, and for supplying me with an ARC.

The sun hung low in the sky, casting pink light all over the city. A faint breeze blew over the rooftops, as flocks of starlings swirled above her, swooping and diving in unison. It seemed unimaginable that, even now, German soldiers were marching along the streets below. It was time, she decided, for direct action. It was time to fight back.

Each morning Livia Moretti makes her way from an apartment overlooking Florence’s famous Duomo to a nearby café, where she drinks espresso and reads the newspaper. To the crowds of tourists who pass by, snapping selfies, nothing about Livia will be memorable. She is simply an old lady. They walk on without knowing the part she played in ensuring the future of this beautiful city. And to Livia now, those dark days feel very far away too.

But today, when she opens the paper, she sees a name she has not heard for a long time. A name that will bring memories flooding back of Nazi troops marching through the city and the dangers she faced as a young woman, carrying out secret missions for the resistance.

Isabella Bellucci.

A siren of the silver screen, Isabella cultivated all the right connections to ensure her rise to stardom. But when Rome falls to the Nazis, Isabella is suddenly faced with the choice between protecting herself, and all she has worked for, or sacrificing everything to save the man she loves.

As the war rages across Europe, a terrible misunderstanding causes the fates of Isabella and Livia to become forever intertwined. And each woman must decide what they’re willing to risk, to protect the ones they hold dear from a brutal enemy.

What does TWG think?

My first piece of advice to anyone wanting to read this is; make sure your mind is free from distractions beforehand as the storyline requires your attention.

My second piece of advice is not to rush the book. There is a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between times and characters, and time is needed to appreciate those parts for what they are.

‘The Italian Girls’ is a WW2 novel set in Italy. I have read several historical fiction novels that have had Italy as their settings, so i was a little bit concerned about whether they would be similarities between the stories aside from the obvious influences of the war. Thankfully, Debbie Rix has a unique voice within her stories and that is what gave this particular book its own stance.

Livia was such an interesting, multi layered character who constantly surprised me. I loved getting to know her personality and finding out about her life. Its safe to say that she was my most favourite character in the novel.

Debbie Rix has written an atmospheric, heart rendering novel that just kept on giving. I love historical fiction and I am delighted to say that ‘The Italian Girls’ really didn’t disappoint.

Buy now.

#TheStolenLetter by Clara Benson @ClaraBooks @bookouture

Many thanks to Bookouture for the tour invite and ARC.

The longer her imprisonment went on, the more she cast her mind back to the stolen hours they had spent together. His love had blown in like an unexpected breath of warm summer air, giving her the promise of life and joy. But now they had been torn apart and she was tormented by the thought that they might never be reunited.
Italy, 1938: When Stella arrives in Florence, it’s love at first sight. She is wowed by the rolling hills dotted with olive trees, the buttermilk villas with shuttered windows and terracotta roofs that glow gloriously in the sunlight. Even the breeze holds the scent of freedom – freedom from England, where the shadow of her past haunted her.

Then there is Ted, an American journalist who is wild and mischievous, with an arrogance bordering on rude. Stella is infuriated by him – but she cannot deny the lure of the danger and excitement he promises.
But there is something dark under the bright surface of this beautiful country, with unspeakable tragedies just around the corner. When the Nazis take control of Italy, Stella and Ted – and whatever dreams the future held for them – are ripped apart. As bombs descend, destroying everything in their wake, there is nothing to do but sit in darkness, praying to see tomorrow.
And it seems that even in Italy, Stella’s past has found her. Somewhere in the winding streets of Florence there is a letter that could change the course of her fate. Unknown to her, it holds a secret with the power to rewrite her past, and everything she has been running away from. But will she live to find it? And with the odds stacked against her, will she ever see Ted again?

What does TWG think?

Novels set during wartime are my most favourite historical fiction to read, and thankfully Clara Benson kept that momentum going.

Set in Italy in 1938, Stella can’t help but be excited for her promising new life in her beautiful new surroundings. However, unfinished business has a way of catching up with people when they expect it to, and soon enough Stella’s new life takes a turn that looks set to be a lot darker than she anticipated.

Stella is such a memorable character to read about and get to know. I felt a lot of empathy towards her because of how she had to mature a lot faster than nature intended her to. I think she surprised herself, and the readers, by flourishing the way that she did. Whilst I applauded her strength and courage, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of loss for her and the roads she wasnt able to go down because of certain choices that were made.

‘The Stolen Letter’ really is a heartwarming read, one which reminded me so much of author Kathryn Hughes ‘The Letter’! If you’re after a well balanced, detailed and blossoming read, then I highly recommend you get a hold of this.

Buy now.

#ForWhenImGone by Rebecca Ley @RebeccaHelenLey @orionbooks

Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy, and to Tracy for the tour invite.

Because there’s never enough time to say goodbye…

Sylvia knows that she’s running out of time. Very soon, she will exist only in the memories of those who loved her most and the pieces of her life she’s left behind.

So she begins to write her husband a handbook for when she’s gone, somewhere to capture the small moments of ordinary, precious happiness in their married lives. From raising their wild, loving son, to what to give their gentle daughter on her eighteenth birthday – it’s everything she should have told him before it was too late.

But Sylvia also has a secret, one that she’s saved until the very last pages. And it’s a moment in her past that could change everything…

What does TWG think?

So you’ve been told some devastating news. Dealt a hand of heartbreak that’s on countdown. What do you do? Wait, what WOULD you do? Spend as much time as you can with your loved ones before you’re taken? Create everlasting memories for those you have held in your heart for goodness knows how many years? Or do you write a book of what to do when you’re gone?

Sylvia did the latter. She created a book for her husband detailing present ideas, little anecdotes to help support him and their children as they grow up without her. I mean, looking to the future lives of your children, knowing that you’re not going to be around to see it? That’s got to hurt.

If, like me, you’re the sort of person who has ice around their heart, be prepared for that to melt and probably flood for the duration of this book. It well and truly broke me and hung me out to dry……yet it was done in the most sensational, poignant, detailed, beautiful manner that made me catch my breath.

The underlying tone of ‘For When I’m Gone’ is very serious as it discusses topics such as still birth and cancer, two very powerful and triggering topics. However on the other side of the coin, theyre two topics which still need their time in the spotlight so that other people can try to understand the devastating effects they can have on a person and everyone around them.

I feel bad saying that I loved this novel due to the emotional content, however i truly was bowled over by the delivery and the way in which the author took the time to create a story that not only taught people about cancer and grief, it also showcased the beauty of memories not being afraid of your own emotions.

Rebecca Ley has polished this novel so well, it is going to shine bright like a diamond for very long time to come. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this managed to get onto the big screen. Honestly? It would wholeheartedly deserve it.

Buy now.

#ARuinedGirl – Kate Simants @katesboat @viperbooks #bookreview

Many thanks to Viper for the blog tour invite and review copy – here is my review for ‘A Ruined Girl’ by Kate Simants.

TWO BOYS LOVED HER.

BUT WHICH ONE KILLED HER?

On a dark night two years ago, teenagers Rob and Paige broke into a house. They beat and traumatised the occupants, then left, taking only a bracelet. No one knows why, not even Luke, Rob’s younger brother and Paige’s confidant. Paige disappeared after that night. And having spent her life in children’s homes and the foster system, no one cared enough to look for her.

Now Rob is out of prison, and probation officer Wren Reynolds has been tasked with his rehabilitation. But Wren has her own reasons for taking on Rob as a client. Convinced that Rob knows what happened to Paige, and hiding a lifetime of secrets from her heavily pregnant wife, Wren’s obsession with finding a missing girl may tear her family apart…

What does TWG think?

Oooooo this is dark!!! Complex relationships, complex storyline, and conflicting emotions made for one dark and disturbing read. Well, that and the fact that someone died but let’s not split hairs, shall we?

‘A Ruined Girl’ is definitely a case of ‘whodunnit’, as well as being the case of whether anyone is going to own up to their misdemeanours. That would be too easy though, so thankfully Wren Reynolds was on hand to try and slot all of the puzzle pieces together. Naturally a case as complex as Paige’s, ends up having a detrimental effect on Wren’s well being and her mental state becomes compromised as her obsession with finding out the truth explodes.

Like I said; dark! There is a lot of ooomph to ‘A Ruined Girl’ and I really appreciated the fact that Simants makes her readers work hard for the truth. She doesn’t hand it to us on a plate by making things obvious early on. Some things are definitely worth waiting for, and this was one of them!

A carefully constructed, complex, devious novel which made me catch my breath more than once. Uber impressed!

Buy now.

#Review – #Cracked by Louise McCreesh @loumccreesh @JennyPlatt90 @Hodderbooks #psychologicalthriller

My thanks, as always, go to Jenny Platt and Hodder for inviting me to take part in the blog tour, and for supplying me with an ARC.

Seven patients. One dark secret.

PHILLIP WALTON HAS BEEN MURDERED.

AND THIS IS NOT THE FIRST MURDER.

Jenny Nilson hasn’t seen her former psychiatrist Phillip since she left the Hillside Psychiatric Unit eight years ago. She wanted to forget everything about her time there, so she kept her secrets buried deep. Especially from her new husband.
But now the police are knocking at her door with evidence of her involvement in Phillip’s death. It seems as though everything she’s kept hidden is about to spill out.
Jenny desperately needs to speak to old friends, and old enemies, from those dark years. Because they are the only ones who know what really happened at Hillside, and about the dark secret that Phillip kept for them all – that this is not the first death.

THIS IS NOT THE FIRST MURDER.

What does TWG think?

The cover of this book had me by the youknowwhats straight away, and as for the tagline ‘seven patients one dark secret’, i was going to rewind time and throw a wobbly if I couldn’t read it quick enough! Safe to say that first impressions were through the roof.

As for the storyline itself – was it a bit flawed and a bit cracked? (see what I did there?) Yes, it was, however it was also overrun with so much promise and potential, that the cracks didn’t seem as crater like as I had once thought.

‘Cracked’ is psychological based through and through, covering topics such as eating disorders, self harm, murder, psychotic episodes, and other forms of mental health. Its not a light read, that’s for sure! As someone who went through an eating disorder from the age of 5 and 25 years later still suffering with the psychological after effects and momentary relapses, I resonated with the character and their train of thought. Same as depression. Okay, some of the discussions may be triggers for people and that is perfectly understandable. Yet on the other hand, some of those discussions may also end up being a catalyst for others.

I couldnt fault the tension throughout the novel at all. Louise McCreesh had worked wonders on layering the suspense from the very beginning – probably why I ended up reading the book in one sitting! McCreesh did an outstanding job of building the suspense, keeping her readers guessing, and maintaining the shock value without divulging too much too soon.

For me, the downside to this novel was the ending. I felt that the body of the book created the questions, building momentum with the thrill and what not, making me feel as though something major was about to happen……only to then reach its conclusion as though the other person finished first without helping you out…if you catch my drift. A bit of an anti climax. I felt like the ending didn’t live up to the picture the author had portrayed in the previous chapters which, given the intensity of said chapters and how much work had gone into them, it was as though the author had done herself a disservice which was a shame.

I’m only saying the above because I was so hooked, and so caught up in the characters webs, I needed that iron clad ending.

Aside from that, like I’ve said, I was drawn to the storyline from the get go! Louise McCreesh has definitely set the ball rolling with her debut novel, and I have no doubt in my mind that it will also get people talking about the topics mentioned throughout.

A very, very promising start. Suspense, tension, and intrigue – three things that made ‘Cracked’ what it was. Definitely a page turner!

Buy now

#SaveHerSoul @LisaLRegan @Bookouture #review

Thank you, as always, to Bookouture for inviting me to take part in Lisa Regan’s blog tour for ‘Save Her Soul’, and for supplying me with an ARC.

Josie flinches as she takes in the faded blue sports jacket wrapped around the girl they just pulled from the water. Josie knew someone who’d once owned that jacket. He had died in her arms five years ago.

Heavy rain pours on the small town of Denton causing the riverbanks to break and the body of a young girl to float quietly to the surface. With no crime scene to examine, the odds are against Detective Josie Quinn and her team. Mercifully, the victim’s body is perfectly preserved, right down to the baseball patch on the jacket she was wearing. Josie can’t hide her devastation—her dead ex-husband, Ray, owned one just like it.

Following the trail back to her high school, Josie identifies the girl as Beverly Urban, a troubled student rumored to have been dating Ray before she left town for good. It looks like a tragic accident until the autopsy reveals a bullet in her head and the heart-breaking secret she was keeping.

Josie visits the salon where Beverly’s mother used to work, believing she was at the heart of a terrible scandal around the time her daughter’s life was taken. With the Denton wives remaining tight-lipped, Josie’s only hope is a secret meet-up with a terrified woman willing to talk. But she is murdered moments before giving Josie crucial information. It’s clear that someone is prepared to keep on killing to stop the truth from getting out.

Digging deep into memories of her own past with Ray is the only advantage Josie has on this twisted killer… but at what cost?

What does TWG think?

Josie has been dealing with the loss of ex husband, Ray, for the last five years and, just when she thought that she was able to process the grief a lot easier than before, memories of Ray as a living human being come back to slap her in the face with a vengeance. Its crazy how one item of clothing can open the flood gates, isn’t it?

Josie Quinn, when will you finally get some good luck?! I do feel like this character was born with a short straw, as bad luck seems to find its way to her quicker than anyone else. That said, if she did have good luck, then there wouldn’t be much of a story! Not that I’m relishing in her misfortunes of course!

I did enjoy ‘Save Her Soul’ and the way in which the storyline kept me on my toes. I couldnt help but think of many questions relating to Ray and the body that was found. It took a little while things to make sense, naturally, but i was so intrigued I just wanted to find out straight away!

Whilst I understand the need to bring up previous books in the series to ensure that the series remained seamless, i did feel as though the rehashing was a bit too frequent and seemed to take up a large portion of the story which should have been kept for the new storyline.

Just like other Lisa Regan novels, the suspense is second to none and the character development was very well thought out. As a huge Regan fan, ‘Save Her Soul’ definitely ticked my boxes – I really cannot complain.

Buy now

#AWalkAlongTheBeach @debbiemacomber @arrowpublishing #review #bookblogger #DebbieMacomber

Thank you, Rachel and the Arrow Publishing team for inviting me to take part in Debbie Macomber’s blog tour, and for supplying me with an advanced copy. Today I have the honour of closing the tour with my review, enjoy!

Sisters Willa and Harper mean the world to each other.

Inseparable since the loss of their mother as teenagers, the Lakey sisters are perfect opposites. Quiet, demure Willa has always admired Harper’s sense of adventure. She enjoys her peaceful routine as a café owner in their coastal hometown of Oceanside.

When a handsome customer shows interest in Willa, Harper urges her sister to take a chance on love.

Then Harper receives crushing news that threatens to bring everything to a halt. Only by supporting each other will the sisters be able to face the trials to come. And though the time ahead may be tough, Willa and Harper will discover that the darkest times can lead to the most beautiful rewards.

What does TWG think?

I don’t even know how to bring my thoughts of this novel to the surface. To say I was emotionally blindesided by the storyline would be an understatement. To say that i was emotionally bereft by what I read, would also be an understatement. And, you guessed it, to say that i absolutely loved Debbie Macomber’s new novel would be an understatement.

Several chapters from the end of the book, my heart smashed into millions and millions of pieces. Emotion spilled from my eyes like a waterfall – I couldnt control the sobs that took over my body at that very moment. What a moving, poignant, thought provoking piece of writing.

If you’ve ever been affected by cancer, both first hand or via a loved one, then you will no doubt be able to resonate with Willa and the heartbreak that surrounds herself and her family. Debbie Macomber makes it clear at the beginning of the story that she has recently been affected by the tragic loss of a loved one, and i truly felt that loss through the power of her words. Strong words, such as those in this storyline, cannot be forged, nor can they be googled, they need to come from the heart of the author and that is exactly what happens here.

Cancer is a strong subject at the heart of ‘A Walk Along The Beach’, yet so is love and the hope at finding that special someone despite having had your heart broken in the past, whether that is at the hands of a two legged friend, or four.

Debbie Macomber is exceptionally talented, a force to be reckoned with, and one of the very few authors who have touched my soul so deeply that they left an imprint of substantial size.

‘A Walk Along The Beach’ needs to have its moment on the big screen for sure but, until that time, this novel needs to have its moment, multiple times, on people’s bookshelves and in readers hands. I absolutely cannot recommend this book enough – undeniably one of THE best books I have EVER read (and I’ve read a few!).

Buy now.

#BelowTheBigBlueSky by @AnnaMcpartlin #RememberRabbitHayes @ZaffreBooks @tr4cyf3nt0n #blogtour #review

Many thanks to Tracy for inviting me to take part in Anna McPartlin’s blog tour for ‘Below The Big Blue Sky’, and of course thank you to the publisher for the review copy.

How do you pick up the pieces when the person that held them together is gone?
When forty-year-old Rabbit Hayes dies, she leaves behind a family broken by grief. Her mother Molly is distraught and in danger of losing her faith. Her father Jack spends hour upon hour in the family attic, poring over his old diaries, losing himself in the past.
Rabbit’s brother Davey finds himself suddenly guardian to her twelve-year-old daughter Juliet. Juliet might be able to fill a hole in Davey’s heart – but how can he help Juliet through her grief when he can barely cope with his own?
But even though the Hayes family are all fighting their own battles, they are drawn together by their love for Rabbit, and their love for each other. In the years that follow her death they find new ways to celebrate and remember her, to find humour and hope in the face of tragedy, and to live life to its fullest, as Rabbit would have wanted.

What does TWG think?

Before reading Anna McPartlin’s new book, I had already heard so much about Rabbit Hayes, however i hadn’t read the predecessor to this novel, ‘The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes’. The joys of being on a blog tour for a second book in a series meant that I needed to read the first book first, in order to be able to follow the next installment. I wholeheartedly recommend that you do the same!

I’m never usually lost for words, but i am now! Trying to write a review about a book as emotive as this one, without giving anything away, is proving more difficult than i thought.

The topic of cancer is at the heart of this novel in more ways than one. No doubt those reading this would have been affected by cancer in one form or another, and the devastating aftermath such a bastard of an illness leaves behind, even with survivors.

Anna McPartlin has excelled with her characterisation skills, her adept way of bringing a story to life with such grace, dignity and spellbinding beauty. I was gobsmacked by what my brain was digesting, and what my heart was allowed to devour.

The Hayes family are such a one of a kind, memorable bunch of characters that really make this story, and series, the fantastic read it is.

I was moved by the characters grief, the topic of cancer, and the rawness of such complex emotions. For me, McPartlin has delivered a story which will stand the test of time like never before, and being able to read a book like this, was an honour that I will never, ever forget.

Buy now.

#AnotherWomansChild – Kerry Fisher @KerryFSwayne @Bookouture #BlogTour #review

Thank you, Bookouture, for inviting me to take part in Kerry Fisher’s blog tour today for ‘Another Woman’s Child’, and for supplying me with an ARC. Here is my review:

Could you take in your best friend’s child, even if it risked destroying your own family?

Jo had thought that her life – and her heart – was full. With a busy job, a husband and a teenage daughter who is going off the rails, keeping her life running smoothly had already felt hard enough.
But now Jo sits at the funeral of her best friend Ginny, crushed by the loss of a friendship that had endured for thirty years: from college and their first days at work through to settling down and raising their own children.
Against her husband’s wishes, Jo has made a life-changing decision: to take in Ginny’s teenage son Victor and raise him as her own. Despite her misgivings, Jo feels she had no choice: Ginny was a single parent and Victor had no other family who could take care of him.
But Victor’s arrival is about to break open the fragile cracks that were already forming on the surface of Jo’s family life and in her small rural community… and expose a secret that has remained hidden for many years, with devastating consequences.

What does TWG think?

What a good question; ‘Could you take in your best friend’s child, even if it risked destroying your own family?’

Could you? But then again, could you answer that honestly, without even being in the situation? Now, if someone asked me whether I would take in my best friends child, without the addition of the last sentence, I would say yes in a heartbeat. Who knows, it could destroy my own family, then again, it may not. To call this situation complex would be an understatement but, just like everything else in the world, there is a lot more to any situation that meets the eye.

Jo and Ginny were best friends for many years. Their friendship stood the test of the stormy seas….literally, until one day, their friendship was severed due to the unfortunate death of Ginny. But is the tie truly severed? Ginny, before she died, asked Jo to take in her son, 17 year old Victor. Jo was adamant that she was going to do that one thing for Ginny, despite having a tearaway, misunderstood child of her own, young Phoebe. Like I said at the very beginning of this review, there is a lot more to a situation than what anyone realises, and Jo’s situation is no different.

Look, I cant really sit here and judge a teenager on her antics all because I never stooped to that level when I was a teenager, however I was really shocked by how Phoebe acted, as wrll as the ways in which Jo and Patrick responded. Im not a perfect parent, nor have I had the pleasure of parenting a teenager….yet, so i probably don’t have a right to pass comment on the way that Phoebe is being parented. I was just really blindsided by those actions.

Speaking of being blindsided, when Victor came into the family so much schnitzel went down it was madness! Racism was a topic of conversation, as was blended families, loyalties, grief, relationships, drugs, alcohol…..you name it, it was probably discussed in this book. Im not saying that in a negative manner either because all of the topics were given an equal amount of time in the spotlight to manifest throughout the book.

I really do enjoy reading a Kerry Fisher novel because of the way she discusses real life situations in an honest and impressionable manner. I do feel like there was a lot in this storyline to focus on and at times that made me feel a little bit overwhelmed as everything in the storyline deserved my attention equally, and I couldn’t give that.

I enjoyed the complexity of the storyline and the uniqueness of what the book was centered around as it certainly gave me food for thought until the very end. I found the varying family dynamics such an interesting concept and it added brilliant depths to an already multi layered read.

Whilst ‘Another Woman’s Child’ seemed different to the usual Kerry Fisher novels I have grown to know and love, I still really appreciated the thought provoking story telling and the insightful, memorable novel that I really enjoyed.

Buy now.