#Review! Then. Now. Always by Isabelle Broom (@Isabelle_Broom) @MichaelJBooks

Isabelle Broom

Twenty-eight year old Hannah is ready for an adventure. She and her colleagues are in Spain for a month to film a documentary, and it’s a dream come true. Not least because Hannah will get to spend long summer days with Theo, her boss (and gorgeous crush). It couldn’t be a more perfect setting to fall in love…

If only Tom (Hannah’s best friend and cameramen) and Claudette (the presenter) would stop getting in the way…

Then things become even more complicated when Nancy, Hannah’s half-sister arrives. What on earth is she doing here?

For just once in her life, can’t Hannah have one perfect summer, free of any drama?

What does TWG think?

I need to start this review with a little apology! I was lucky enough to receive Isabelle Broom’s new book ahead of publication date, (I did read it then too) so I am ever so sorry that I am just getting round to reviewing the book on my blog now!

Having devoured and absolutely ADORED Isabelle Broom’s previous novel, ‘A Year and a Day’, my excitement for her latest book reached its maximum level ten times over. Yes, I was THAT excited. There is just something so majestic about picking up an Isabelle Broom novel, allowing yourself to surrender to the beautiful words which have the depth, and power to be able to take you on a journey where the only guarantee is its beauty.

In the little Spanish village of Mojocar, Hannah and her colleagues are busy filming a documentary. Well, unless Hannah’s definition of ‘filming’ equals ‘oggling’ the boss, then yes, she is oh so busy filming! It was made clear from the onset that Hannah had a special connection to Mojocar; to be able to re-visit village years later, brought a lot of memories to the surface. Luckily for Hannah, she was able to use her work trip to her advantage and delve deeper into Mojocar’s heritage, finding out exactly why her connection with the village ran as deep as it did.

It took me a little while to be able to really gel with this storyline, as I struggled to find that vital piece of information to sink my teeth into. The ‘connection’ if you will. At times there seemed to be a lot of information gathering, scenery descriptions, character discussions, and a lot of me wondering where all of the above was heading. To be honest, the description of Mojocar was what kept my attention for the first part of the book. I am ashamed to admit that I never even knew that village existed; I thoroughly enjoyed being able to find out more about such a beautiful sounding village.

When Hannah’s half-sister, Nancy, appeared on the scene, that was when the storyline changed direction. I remember rubbing my hands together thinking, ‘drama, drama, drama’!! Up until then, the only side of the story I had heard was Hannah’s. Let’s just say that her opinions of her half-sister were not exactly glowing! Seriously, I thought that I was going to be introduced to a demon (slightly over dramatic, but y’know, my point is there!). As more of the storyline began to unfold, I got to know more about Nancy; I didn’t think that she was as bad as Hannah had made out. However, certain situations began to unravel and Hannah & Nancy’s relationship became more black and white, as opposed to rainbow.

Overall, ‘Then. Now. Always.’ is such a carefree, beautiful, and unique tale which highlights the importance of being true to yourself. I loved ‘watching’ Hannah’s personality evolve throughout the course of the book; it was incredible to see her start off as a duckling and grow into a beautiful swan. Yes, there were times where I couldn’t relate to the book as much as I would have liked to, but it didn’t ruin the storyline for me. Isabelle Broom’s stories and her outstanding descriptions of different countries, has turned her into my unofficial tour guide. I have never been abroad before, yet after reading this novel (as well as her others), I felt as though I had travelled to Spain and seen the sights for myself. Honestly. Every rock face, every lingering smell of the Spanish food and the surroundings, just every little detail of the country and the characters were described absolutely beautifully. I am still in awe at how one author can make her words jump off the page and turn into an image in my mind.

Another beautiful, and mesmerising read from the incredibly talented, Isabelle Broom.

Thank you Michael Joseph Books/Penguin.

Buy now from Amazon UK

#BlogTour! #Review of #TheRestlessDead by Simon Beckett (@BeckettSimon) @TransworldBooks

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‘Composed of over sixty per cent water itself, a human body isn’t naturally buoyant. It will float only for as long as there is air in its lungs, before gradually sinking to the bottom as the air seeps out. If the water is very cold or deep, it will remain there, undergoing a slow, dark dissolution that can take years. But if the water is warm enough for bacteria to feed and multiply, then it will continue to decompose. Gases will build up in the intestines, increasing the body’s buoyancy until it floats again.
And the dead will literally rise . . . ‘

Once one of the country’s most respected forensics experts, Dr David Hunter is facing an uncertain professional – and personal – future. So when he gets a call from Essex police, he’s eager for the chance to assist them.

A badly decomposed body has been found in a desolate area of tidal mudflats and saltmarsh called the Backwaters. Under pressure to close the case, the police want Hunter to help with the recovery and identification.

It’s thought the remains are those of Leo Villiers, the son of a prominent businessman who vanished weeks ago. To complicate matters, it was rumoured that Villiers was having an affair with a local woman. And she too is missing.

But Hunter has his doubts about the identity. He knows the condition of the unrecognizable body could hide a multitude of sins. Then more remains are discovered – and these remote wetlands begin to give up their secrets . . .

With its eerie, claustrophobic sense of place, viscerally authentic detail and explosive heart-in-mouth moments, The Restless Dead offers a masterclass in crime fiction and marks the stunning return of one of the genre’s best.

What does TWG think?

 Several years ago if someone had told me that I would be on the blog tour for a chilling novel in the future, such as this one, I would have laughed in their face and gone back to reading my Nicholas Sparks** novel. However, I am on the blog tour for a chilling novel…today as it is my stop on Simon Beckett’s blog tour for ‘The Restless Dead’! I hope you enjoy reading my review!
(**Note: I still LOVE Nicholas Sparks’ novels but I don’t keep myself chained to the one genre anymore 😉 ).

I am renaming April as ‘TWG’s Out of Comfort Zone Month’ as I seem to be reviewing books I’d never look twice at years ago! I am probably going to sound weird here but seeing as I’m amongst friends I need to say this; the title of Simon Beckett’s book was what made me jump at the chance of reviewing it. How crazy is that? The title may be ‘The Restless Dead’ but I was ‘The Restless TWG’ whilst I was reading it!

Simon Beckett is a brand new author for me, and whilst his new book is part of a series, I was actually okay reading it as a standalone novel. I didn’t get too confused as, funnily enough, my attention was elsewhere!

Dr.David Hunter has been asked to assist with a case in Essex, a chance he literally jumps at seeing as his professional life seems to be hanging by a thread. Although, if he doesn’t respond how a local businessman wishes him to, Dr.Hunter’s personal life could be hanging by a thread too.

Not only is there decomposed body to try to wrap your head around (not literally!), there is also the surroundings of which the body was found. To put it bluntly it scared the hob off my hobnob biscuit. Beckett has created this eerie and chilling backdrop for the dead bodies and putting both of those together in such vivid detail, was enough to make me not read this novel at night! And that wasn’t my lot either! Reading #TheRestlessDead was like being on a constant rollercoaster, there were so many twists to every situation that I had no idea whether I was coming or going (not a bad thing). Alongside that there seemed to be a multitude of red herring moments put in for good measure. Well, I assume they were! Either that or my detective skills are much worse than I originally thought!

Not only does Hunter have a decomposed body to contend with, he also has to get to the bottom of another missing person investigation and try to piece together each individual puzzle. Ahhh it sounds rather simple when you put it like that, doesn’t it? Er no, Hunter quite clearly had his work cut out for him!

Even though my body was covered in goosebumps and I kept jumping off of my sofa in fright, like a trampoline, at the slightest noise my house made whilst reading the book, as weird as this sounds I felt like I actually learnt something too. Before now I hadn’t really paid too much attention to the steps in which a body decomposes, neither did I have any clue about the stages involving the lungs and bacteria, yet the way Beckett had written those developments into the storyline made me come away with some rather valuable knowledge. Don’t get me wrong it’s not the sort of subject I’ll be bringing up at Christmas dinner this year, but it will certainly help me understand more details for Beckett’s upcoming novels.

Yes, you saw that right. Whilst crime scene investigations and dead bodies aren’t my usual go to novels, I found Beckett’s vivid imagery of both setting and investigations to be a work of art. If a storyline can make me become a nervous wreck then I most definitely will not sniff at that at all.

Simon Beckett most certainly knows his stuff and Dr.David Hunter is such an intriguing fellow; I have a feeling I won’t be ‘seeing’ the last of Simon Beckett on my bookshelf.

A suspenseful, spine tingling, roller coaster ride of a novel which will keep you on your toes the whole way through.

Thanks Transworld Books/Bantam Press.

Buy #TheRestlessDead now from Amazon UK

Feeling a bit restless? There are a few upcoming tour stops to have a nose at, so make sure you follow the rest of the tour. Details are below:

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#Review – The Little Teashop of Lost and Found @Trishaashley @poppystimpson @Transworldbooks

trisha
Alice Rose is a foundling, discovered on the Yorkshire moors above Haworth as a baby. Adopted but then later rejected again by a horrid step-mother, Alice struggles to find a place where she belongs. Only baking – the scent of cinnamon and citrus and the feel of butter and flour between her fingers – brings a comforting sense of home.

So it seems natural that when she finally decides to return to Haworth, Alice turns to baking again, taking over a run-down little teashop and working to set up an afternoon tea emporium.

Luckily she soon makes friends, including a Grecian god-like neighbour, who help her both set up home and try to solve the mystery of who she is. There are one or two last twists in the dark fairytale of Alice’s life to come . . . but can she find her happily ever after?

What does TWG think?

Oh my goodness. Have you ever finished reading a book and would do anything to read it time  and time again, as though it would be the first time reading it? Before now, I have seen various people saying that they would love to do that for various other books and I couldn’t quite understand what they meant. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed A LOT of novels over the years but re-reading a book like it’s the first time, every time? What on Earth would be the criteria for a book to fit that accolade?
Luckily, I can now answer that question with seven words. A mere seven words is all it takes, in my eyes, to explain the criteria of first time re-reading, every single time; The Little Teashop of Lost and Found.

Why?

I have been a huge fan of Trisha Ashley’s books for a very long time, so to have the honour of holding the ARC of her new novel in my hands was a HUGE deal to me. It felt like I was holding something special, something priceless (and awfully strokeable. coverlove!!!). I tweeted Trisha periodically as I was reading her book as I wanted her to be with me on the journey that I took whilst reading her novel. That probably sounds daft, but as she couldn’t see my facial expressions etc, I wanted to let her know my thoughts as I read it. Can you tell I’m a HUGE fan of hers? OI most certainly read it alright as it only took me a couple of hours to read cover to cover, much to Trisha Ashley’s (and everyone else’s) surprise.

Alice Rose hasn’t had the most settled of lives. To start with she was left on the Yorkshire moors as a baby, adopted into a new family then rejected by her step-mother and then she had embark on an uncertain journey as an adult, with the fear of never belonging. I cannot begin to imagine how hard that must have been for Alice, she didn’t ask to be born so why did she keep getting rejected? Just when she thought that she had found the right path for her journey, Alice’s life once again takes an almighty turn and she is left with the feeling that regardless of which new route she took, the outcome was likely to be the same either way; a dead-end. She just had to work out which route was worth the extra effort to turn the dead end, into an open road. Doesn’t sound so simple when you think about it, does it?

What made me warm to Alice the most was how real she came across. Yes she came across bulshy, sassy and extremely black and white in terms of getting her thoughts across, but I could tell that she was a bit broken inside yet she didn’t shy away from that. I don’t think that this book could have wanted for a stronger main character than Alice Rose, especially as there will no doubt be a lot of readers who will be able to relate to Alice as a person as well as the hurdles she has had to jump over so far. Plus, she is absolutely hilarious!

When I saw that yet another storyline would contain a teashop/café, I will admit that I was a little bit apprehensive purely to the over popularity of those settings in novels just now. I was hoping that this one would stand out from the crowd and not get lost amongst the other teashops.
But you know what? It worked! The teashop setting in Trisha Ashley’s novel isn’t your ‘typical’ rather popular setting. For starters, the building actually took a long time to get decorated and ready for business and as readers, we get to ‘see’ the interior go from shabby to wow, step by step. Secondly, the teashop was hidden away and it was as though a map would be needed to direct customers down the ever winding roads (love btw). Thirdly, whilst the teashop was a big part of the storyline, the main focus wasn’t on the teashop itself as the focus was on Alice rebuilding her life.

Everything worked extremely well together. I felt as though I had been transported to a land far, far away because I had zoned out from my own life and went and sat in Alice’s life. There is nothing about Trisha Ashley’s book that I disliked, at all. Not only does the storyline have a fabulous main character with Alice, it also contains other fantastic who stand out in their own way. Each character made themselves known, not one of them felt the need to sit in the background and shy away from the unfolding events. They were memorable and utterly fabulous.

I really cannot recommend The Little Teashop of Lost and Found, enough.
Full of laughter, hard times, strength and heart warming events, The Little Teashop of Lost and Found, is a book to devour. A book to hold close to your heart. A book where sadness comes to light but then happiness kicks its toosh quicker than a cupcake can be eaten. A book to cherish. A book to turn off your phone, lay on the sofa with a cuppa and a cake, and get cosy with.

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found contains additional recipes to devour alongside the novel. Now, I like cake as much as the next person but you know what? The only recipe I need contains Trisha Ashley & her latest novel as THAT is my recipe to happiness. Definitely one of my most favourite books ever.

An outstanding, heart-warming novel from the incredibly talented Trisha Ashley. Magnificent.

Thank you SO much Poppy Stimpson!

Buy now from Amazon UK
(click the above link to buy in Hardback at only £4.99 as well – price correct as of 28/03/17)