Publication #review of Sister Sister by Sue Fortin (@suefortin1) @HarperImpulse @TheRomaniacs

sister-sister
Blurb.

Alice: Beautiful, kind, manipulative, liar.

Clare: Intelligent, loyal, paranoid, jealous.

Clare thinks Alice is a manipulative liar who is trying to steal her life.
Alice thinks Clare is jealous of her long-lost return and place in their family.

One of them is telling the truth. The other is a maniac.
Two sisters. One truth.

What does TWG think?

How on Earth do I review this book?! There have only been a couple of books that have completely taken over my mind whilst reading them (in a headfunk, fabulous kind of way); until now. Sue Fortin’s new release, ‘Sister Sister’ has become the latest book to leave me questioning EVERYTHING, including my name.

What would you do if a family member had just…vanished? ‘We will be back’ they said. Now, unless there was a million car back log on the M25 and all flights were cancelled indefinitely, you would pretty much expect them back, yes? After all, they did say…
Clare and her mother have an unfinished chapter in their life story. A chapter which can only be completed by one person; Alice. If only Alice was able to find her way back to the memories once known…

I finished ‘Sister Sister’ a couple of days ago and yet I STILL continue to mull over the storyline. From the get go, there is bucketful’s of juicy storyline to sink your teeth into, especially where the past is concerned. I had no idea what to expect, nor what route I felt the storyline would take as I kept reading. But, I’ll be honest; all thoughts of my surroundings and trying to do guess work with the storyline, vanished from my mind the more of the book I read. I had to surrender to the storyline very quickly as I began to lose my mind with the intense, white knuckle contents of ‘Sister Sister’.

Every single page felt like Pandora’s box. Every single chapter contained another hurdle for the characters. Every single word Sue wrote was laced with a hidden agenda. I could not stop reading; even though there were moments of ‘can I really continue?’. Not due to the likeability factor of the book, no! But, erm, because I was emotionally and physically exhausted by the rollercoaster I was on, even though I couldn’t get off it!

There is absolutely nothing that I can find fault with when it comes to ‘Sister Sister’. Nothing at all. I really did love how each character stood out and seemed to have their own place within the book; nobody was there to just ‘fill a gap’. I really do think that that helped keep the gritty momentum of the storyline.

‘Sister Sister’ completely messed up my head, had me looking over my shoulder and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. What a SUPERB book! Full of grit, rollercoaster moments and enough psychological imbalance to make a psychologist cry, ‘Sister Sister’ is definitely going to be a tough act to follow for the rest of 2017.

In my opinion, Sue Fortin stands out from a lot of people thanks to her latest release. Her way with words and incredible talent at creating such intense situations, is mind-blowing. Absolutely fantastic.
Unplug the house phone, put your mobile on silent and dedicate a few hours to Sue Fortin’s ‘Sister Sister’, interruption free. This is a book you DO NOT want to miss.

Even though we are only six days into 2017, ‘Sister Sister’ has set the bar high and is definitely one to watch.

Thank you HarperImpulse! Happy publication day Sue!!

Sister Sister by Sue Fortin, published by HarperImpulse is available to buy now in e-book from Amazon UK! Don’t fret though, if you’re more of a paperback reader, keep your eyes peeled for the 20th April! You can pre-order your paperback now from Amazon.

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#Review of ‘Chances are’ by Wendy Lou Jones.

Chances are by Wendy Lou Jones.
Published 25th June 2016.
Available to buy from Amazon UK//Amazon US

‘Luke is the man with the money, the fast car and the hot woman. There’s no way he would even think about getting serious, but a face he can’t remember soon threatens his calm.
Rebecca isn’t interested in a relationship, and definitely not with him. How could she, after all he put her through? She’s spent the last 4 years hiding away from society, a one woman crusade for children’s road safety. Who would have thought one fateful day, it might almost be her … again.
As two worlds collide, will opposites attract?
Not if she can help it’

I would like to start by saying thank you to Wendy for putting this lovely book under my nose, and I want to apologise for keeping you waiting with the review. I would say that I have been chasing my tail, but then I would be insulting myself by saying that I am indeed a dog!

A man who has it all; money, career, lifestyle and the ability to click his fingers and a woman would come running to him.
A woman who is afraid of having it all. Afraid of putting her heart on the line. Afraid of history repeating itself.
After all, it nearly did repeat itself. Rebecca lost the man that she loved, the man that she was supposed to marry and ever since that day she has tried to make the roads a safer place. Then one day, along comes Luke, trying to multi-task whilst driving and nearly sends Rebecca to the same place as her fiancé.
Is Luke really that arrogant where women are concerned? Or is Rebecca too guarded after her past? The ‘chances are…..’
At first, I disliked Luke with a passion. Arrogance in men does not appeal one bit, especially when they think they are the be all and end all. He could have caused a terrible accident, yet ‘that woman’, Rebecca, is on his mind. Seriously? Surely you would avoid contact with a person that you nearly put in an unfortunate situation? I’m not nitpicking at Wendy’s writing, definitely not. Despite my early opinion of Luke, as the story progressed, my opinions changed for the better. Which, if I’m honest, was a surprise to me!
But then there is Rebecca. A lost soul and extremely guarded after everything she has been through, and thanks to an idiot in a car, she gets to re-live the past to a certain extent. No wonder she wants to stay clear…at first. My heart definitely went out to her because she seemed so lonely and without a purpose.
The way that Wendy incorporated chalk and cheese personalities, and completely turned them and the storyline around, takes such talent. She has created very complex characters with highly strung personalities and a lot of baggage. To fit all of that, and the future into just one book, made for an exciting yet emotionally charged read.
Watching the characters grow as they dealt with their own pasts and feelings made me feel like I was walking the journey with them. When the characters were happy, I was happy, when they were sad, I was crying like a baby unable to breathe and looking like I had met Ruldolph for a slush puppy (red nose).
Even though I found ‘Chances Are’ a very moving story, crying with the events within the book felt like the natural step. Every situation flowed and every word had its place. I am in awe of Wendy and how she has written such an emotional, rollercoaster ride of a book, with such a BEAUTIFUL cover! A pleasure to read.

**New Feature** 1st class mail from TWG & friends – A letter to your younger self!

Welcome to yet another brand new feature on The Writing Garnet! A couple of weeks ago I put multiple posts out on social media asking for people to get involved, and by golly they did! What would YOU tell your younger self if you could? Would you give them advice based on what you know now?
Those were the questions I had everyone keep in mind for writing their letters. Hopefully people (you) will continue to be involved as this feature will only run as long as I have your lovely letters to post.
If you fancy getting involved by writing a letter to your younger self, e-mail me at kaishajayneh@gmail.com. Thank you to those who have e-mailed me so far!

Okay, so this is how the feature is going to work. Each Sunday until further notice, I will share each of the letters that I have received so far. Seeing as some of the letters belong to authors and bloggers, their social links will also be included so you can see what they are up to now compared to the contents of their letters! Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an author/blogger to take part. Anyone can!
Now I have told you all of the important information, let’s get this show on the road!

young self

TWG is delighted to welcome fellow blogger and new-found friend, Jo Robertson, to the blog! Get ready for honesty with a few giggles as here is what Jo would write in a letter to her younger self.

Dear Joanne,

I should probably start by reassuring you that the path you have taken, although not the one you planned on, is a good one and you will be in a happy relationship with a wonderful husband and children (plus grandchildren but I don’t want you to freak out about that! Yes, you’ll be a young Nana but it’s amazing!).

You won’t be going to uni to study English like you wanted but not getting those grades means that you will become part of the wonderful NHS caring for people who is what you do best. Just have the confidence to know what is right for YOU! Don’t be pushed down a road you don’t want to travel down.

Those books that you hide away to read, keep reading them! Books will always be part of your life and one day you will find that the knowledge and background that they gave you, will lead to one of the most exciting times of your life! You will become part of a community where you aren’t looked at as some kind of nerd. You will have found your place.

Don’t be ashamed that you didn’t like Catcher in the Rye!!! Have the confidence to tell people why you throw it in the New Year bonfire!! And life is too short to read Ulysses by James Joyce. Just leave it on the bookshelf!

You won’t ever be that writer you wanted to be, life gets in the way, but be amazed at how ahead of your time you were! Those exercise books you steal in school to write those instalments of your “novel” when you’re 16, the ones that you used to pass around all your friends, well they were the way forward! The adventures of Christie, the teenage pop star and her liaisons with her fans and her much older manager were a little bit shocking for some of your friends (and the mother who felt she had to have a word with mine!) But I wish you had kept them!! You could have been the first E.L. James!

And wear a bikini!!!!! Yes you may be pear shaped with a big bum and tiny waist but embrace your curves, there’s not an ounce of fat on you. Someday you will be Apple shaped and wish you had that body now that you have the confidence to wear that bikini! And don’t worry about that gorgeous curly hair you are bullied about, GHDs are on their way and anyway, those curls are your best feature, embrace them too! And keep drinking all that water! Your 51 year old face will thank you for it!

Lots of love

Jo (Book reviewer and blogger at mychestnutreadingtree)

Thank you so much Jo for kicking off TWG’s new feature! You look younger than me so go rock that bikini!!!!

Here are Jo’s social links so you can find out what she is about now!
Jo’s Blog
Jo’s Facebook Page
Follow Jo on Twitter

Book review of ‘Summer at Skylark Farm’ by Heidi Swain.

Summer at Skylark Farm by Heidi Swain.
Published 2nd June 2016 by Simon and Schuster.
Available to buy from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

‘Amber is a city girl at heart. So when her boyfriend Jake Somerville suggests they move to the countryside to help out at his family farm, she doesn’t quite know how to react. But work has been hectic and she needs a break so she decides to grasp the opportunity and make the best of it. 
 
Dreaming of organic orchards, paddling in streams and frolicking in fields, Amber packs up her things and moves to Skylark Farm. But life is not quite how she imagined – it’s cold and dirty and the farm buildings are dilapidated and crumbling. 
 
But Amber is determined to make the best of it and throws herself into farm life. But can she really fit in here? And can she and Jake stay together when they are so different?’

If you had to choose between a life in the city or a life in the country, which one would you choose? Would your answer still same the same if, say, you had only dabbled in one of those lifestyles and not the other?
When I was younger I used to prefer being in the hustle and the bustle of the city and only liked the countryside for the views. However, now that I am much older, I do enjoy going to the city as long as I’m left alone ha! To be honest though, if I had a new adventure to begin at Skylark Farm, I probably would get upon my sheep(!!) and head for a life in the countryside! (Note: I wouldn’t ride a sheep…I’d fall off).

Amber is going from strength to strength in her job in the city, and so is her relationship with her new man, Jake. Amber starts to realise that her workload doesn’t seem to be  showing signs of slowing down anytime soon, this leaves her questioning the amount of quality time that she has with Jake. Jake gets to dabble in life in the countryside with his Aunt whilst Amber dabbles in her life of last-minute work requests, but is it enough? Amber wants to try something new and rid herself of the rut she is stuck in and Jake may just have the solution to her problems. But can Jake persuade Amber to step out of her comfort zone and try for a new life, where her work outfit would consist of wellies? Will Amber put her relationship with Jake before her relationship with work?

Welcome to Skylark Farm! A farm where nothing is ever as straight forward as you would like, but the reward are overflowing. My heart went out to Amber throughout the story because she was thrown into the deep end on more than one occasion and nobody seemed to want to tell her complete stories, just snippets. Luckily for her, Jake’s Aunt Annie was always on hand to give her the confidence boost she needed, or grated potato…whichever came first! Skylark Farm was more of a shrine than a working farm, so when the opportunity arose for Amber to offer some input, she did just that.

‘Watching’ the changes and mini makeover happen on Skylark Farm felt like watching the film Calamity Jane. You know the part where she goes from hard as nails and potty mouth, to house wife donning a floral apron with white kitchen furniture? It was like reading a 21st century twist on a classic film, especially when Amber got her hands on the cottage (eventually).  I felt like I was ‘watching’ something magical happen as I read the story. It was as if the changes created a new life, not only in Skylark Farm, but Aunt Annie too. You really cannot put a price on a feeling as magical as the one you get from well written words.

Nine times out of ten when you meet new characters within a book, there are going to be some you instantly like, and some you instantly dislike. Summer at Skylark Farm was no different! Several characters made their way into my heart quite early on in the story, however, one or two characters couldn’t seem to find the right key. I didn’t seem to warm to them because their actions annoyed me! I get very involved with the characters in every book that I read! Each and every character is very unique, a few of them with more dented personalities than others, but I loved that because it gave the whole story more character.

What I admired most about Summer at Skylark Farm, was how it contained the ‘take a chance’ message. One day you might think that something is impossible to achieve, or that you don’t have the confidence to just go for it. But, if Amber can completely change her life and see more of certain animals than she bargained for, then maybe you could just take the chance?

Heidi has written such a cosy, comforting and warming story. So cosy in fact, that I just wanted Aunt Annie to come and give me a hug whilst I finished reading it. If you’re undecided on whether you should take a chance and head to Skylark Farm for a summer full of adventure, then the answer is YES. Just go for it, but remember to take your wellies!

Book Review of ‘How to find your (first) husband’ by Rosie Blake.

How To Find Your (first) Husband by Rosie Blake.
Published: 2nd June 2016 by Corvus.
Paperback: ISBN-10: 1782398627
ISBN-13: 978-1782398622
Available to buy on Amazon UK/Amazon US.

‘Isobel Graves moved to LA determined to be the Next Big Thing. Instead, she is dressed as a giant prawn handing out fliers promoting a fish market. Rather than attending glamorous parties and dating exciting men, her evenings consist of watching box sets with her sort-of boyfriend, whose idea of romance is a late-night drunken text. Where did it all go wrong? When Isobel catches sight of Andrew Parker, her childhood sweetheart, in the background of a TV news story she feels it’s a sign. If she’d stuck with Andrew everything would have turned out better. Now she just needs to find him…Join Isobel as she travels from LA to Devon and to a remote Malaysian island in search of true love.’

I would like to start off by saying a massive thank you to Corvus and of course Rosie Blake, for giving me the opportunity to review the book before it is released!

As soon as the book came through my letterbox, I squealed and danced, much to the amusement of my two year old. To be fair, look at the cover, how can you not squeal and dance at it? Now add the title to the equation and it’s highly intriguing!
Have you ever had to dress up for work? No, I don’t mean by wearing something a different colour, or tartan or even dress down day. I mean dress up to look completely different. Yes? What did you dress up as? I dressed up as Betty from the Flintstones for work once, in a busy supermarket, on a Saturday….I still cringe now. Although, ha, after reading that Isobel had to dress up a prawn for her job in LA, my embarrassment soon faded!
Isobel moved to LA to land a career in Television, after all it was LA, what could wrong? Instead of living the high life as she had dreamt about, she was handing out fliers dressed as a prawn and a tomato. Not at the same time of course. But in the back of Isobel’s mind, she has always thought about her the guy that just disappeared from her life. The guy she has had a soft spot for, for many years. I mean, he shared his lunch with her at school, how could you not love a guy for that? Isobel is determined to pick up where they left off, if only she knew where he was….
Ah young love with the tales of the playground. Kiss chase, ‘marriages’, arguments because you didn’t wait for someone at lunch time; remember those days? Isobel does! I read the prologue, frowned in confusion, thought ‘what the’ once or twice, and then laughed like a hyena. That was my response after reading two pages. I had high hopes for the rest of the book and I was looking forward to delving into it with that sort of humour. The book didn’t disappoint at all. The flashbacks that happen frequently within the book are a work of art, pure genius on Rosie Blake’s part. Not only do you have the grown up Isobel trying to find her way in life, you read about the younger side to her in the flashbacks and it is brilliant. The lengths that Isobel goes to find the answer to her ‘what if’ is absolutely bonkers, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if many women (or men) had done that! Do you take the chance, or not? Despite it being bonkers (in a good way I must add), the obstacles that Isobel is faced with, alongside the sticky situations that she puts herself in makes hilarious reading. Don’t get me wrong, I did feel a bit sorry for Isobel on multiple occasions, especially when the sticky situations turned into incredibly cringy situations. Rosie Blake has managed to turn embarrassing situations into ‘brush it off’ situations. Imagine that you had a bad first date, and then turned it into a positive thing and ended up laughing and happier than before. Done? That’s how Rosie Blake has written this.
Each situation is completely realistic, every character is unique with realistic tendencies as well. Instead of a book having the ‘typical’ ‘handsome and rugged’ man aka Mr Darcy, it has a man who isn’t out of anyone’s reach because you’ll see someone like that walking down the street.
Isobel’s mum is absolutely crackers and she is one of my favourite characters in the story because she doesn’t give a rat’s tail about anything, and she comes across as ‘being at one’ with herself. But the other side of her shows that she does and says what she wants and couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of it, including her husband! I found that every character in the book had their own story to tell, and Rosie Blake had them tell it in their own special way.
‘How to find you (first) husband’ is such a fun, hilarious and wonderful read. I did not want to put it down at all. I just wanted to stay with Isobel and see what else she could get up to as she is fascinatingly bonkers. This was the very first book of Rosie’s that I have read, and it definitely won’t be the last. Everything is on point with this book, the storyline, characters, humour; just everything. The only downside to this book, in my opinion, was that it had to end. I cannot recommend this book enough and it is definitely one of my favourite books that I have read so far this year (& I have read over 30)!
Rosie Blake, you are a genius.

 

After the lie by Kerry Fisher.

After the lie by Kerry Fisher.
Published: 29th April 2016 by Bookouture.
ISBN: 1910751812
Available to buy on Amazon UK and Amazon US.
Big thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for the ARC.

#TalkoftheTown Talk of the town

‘Your past will devastate your family. But your lies could destroy them. What would YOU do?
Sometimes a lie can split your life in two. There is “before”, and there is “after”. Try as you might – you can never go back.
When Lydia was a teenager, she made a decision that ruined her family’s life. They’ve spent the last thirty years living with the consequences and doing their best to pretend it never happened.

Lydia’s husband, the gorgeous and reliable Mark, and her two teenage children know nothing about that summer back in 1982. And that’s the way Lydia wants it to stay. The opportunity to come clean is long gone and now it’s not the lie that matters, it’s the betrayal of hiding the truth for so long.
When someone from the past turns up as a parent at the school gates, Lydia feels the life she has worked so hard to build slipping through her fingers. The more desperate she becomes to safeguard her family, the more erratic her behaviour becomes. But when the happiness of her own teenage son, Jamie, hangs in the balance, Lydia is forced to make some impossible decisions. Can she protect him and still keep her own secret – and if she doesn’t, will her marriage and family survive?’

Have you ever told a lie? No, I don’t mean a ‘no I didn’t eat the last biscuit’ type of lie or a ‘no I didn’t just trip my little sister up’ lie. I mean a lie that could have the power to change everything. Have you? Interesting. Before I read this book, I asked myself exactly the same question as I have just asked you, to get into the zone of the book purely based on the title.  After the lie is a story about betrayal. A story about family and the strength that is within. Lydia has made mistakes in her life, after all, she is only human. However, does she have to ‘pay’ for the mistakes she made as a teenager, for the rest of her life? Will the betrayal be brushed off as ‘teenage years’?
Lydia has tried to get on with her life with her husband and two children but when opportunities arise for several members of the family, it could threaten the black cloud that has loomed over Lydia’s head for many years. Is there about to be a storm? Or will they be dancing in the rain?
As soon as you begin reading the book, you’re swept into Lydia’s life and her emotions, her world becomes yours for the duration of the story. If you’re anything like me you will start wondering for the word go. Well, if you’re a total book nut then you’ll be pretty nosy and curious when it comes to any book. Correct? Thought so. Every page had me thinking to myself ‘what happened?!’. Then, once that question got answered within the story, my thoughts switched to ‘are you for real?!’ in response to many of the characters! Obviously I’m not going to say which ones, but I did sit with my hand over my mouth in shock. To be fair though, I sat like that throughout the book! The only character I will mention is Mabel. Ahhhh, Mabel, such a minx and as you will find out, could not give a flying furball about anything.
Kerry Fisher has written a book full of emotion which captures the true essence of the topics involved, without glossing over the true message.  She has written an incredibly powerful book with an extremely powerful message, and when you finish reading the book, the power will still be in your mind. The message will still be there, reminding you of the family and what they have had to deal with. Some readers might say that it is a relatable book. Only you will know that for yourselves once you have read it. I cannot recommend this book enough. It was a book that grabbed my attention from beginning to end. High praise for Kerry Fisher and her wonderful writing!!