Saturday, 31 May 2014

June Giveaway - Beyond Grace's Rainbow by Carmel Harrington

Hi All

Happy June. Lets hope the good weather arrives soon (and lasts).

June signals the halfway point of the year, and I thought it the perfect time to do a giveaway of my favourite book of 2014. I have read many fantastic books this year, but none that have touched me in the way that Beyond Grace's Rainbow by the uber talented Carmel Harrington has. I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved this book and I doubt I could do it any justice.

If you want a book that will make you laugh, make you sob like a baby, and make you appreciate life then this is the one for you. The story is set in Ireland and centres around Grace. Grace is a single Mum to the most gorgeous son Jack. We learn at the very start that Grace has been diagnosed with cancer. The book not only follows her battle with cancer, but also the return of Jack's father Liam. Yes, it all sounds depressing so far, but believe me when I say that it isn't. The book is a story of living life to the full and Grace is never defeated. We also meet her merry gang of friends who are just hilarious.  This truly was a story of life, love, hope and inspiration.

If you would like to read a more professional synopsis and look at some reviews do visit the books page on Amazon

I was recently invited along with other readers and bloggers to take part in a video trailer for Beyond Graces Rainbow. Check it out here

By the way, Carmel Harrington has a new book out on 19 June entitled The Life You Love. This is sure to be another smash hit. Copies can be preordered on Amazon

The competition runs until 5pm on Monday 9th June (UK only)

You can follow Carmel on twitter @happymrsh and my twitter account if you want to follow me is @jillstratton.

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Dead Man's Gift - Part 2 by Simon Kernick

Out now
Published by Cornerstone
Purchase from Amazon

The Blurb:


The SECOND direct to digital short-story in a race-against-time three-part adventure from the bestselling author of Relentless, Siege and Ultimatum, Simon Kernick.

MP Tim Horton is waiting to hear from his son's kidnappers. Knowing he's being watched, and too scared to go to the police, he contacts the only man who may be able to help him, his brother-in-law: an ex-soldier called Scope who has a reputation for sorting things out and getting things done.

My Review:

This is the second of a three part short story by Simon Kernick. I was really excited to read what happens next after becoming gripped by the first part. I was not let down!!

It's hard to review this without giving it all away, especially as the installment it is only forty odd pages long. But needless to say, the action continued and the tension is building in me nicely in anticipation of the third and final instalment.  We continue where we left off. MP Tim Horton's son has been kidnapped and the kidnappers don't want money in return for the son, they want Tim to give his life in return for his son's.

In the first part we saw Tim secretly call his ex brother in law Scope, who is ex-army and ask for help. Scope is racing against time to uncover who has Tim's son before Tim has to commit suicide at the Commons the following morning. He has discovered that a member of the police force are involved.

The third and final part is released on 5th June and I will pre-ordering it to find out what the conclusion is. At 49p per part it seems to me a bargain and a must buy.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Thirteen Weddings by Paige Toon

The Blurb:

Discover the scintillating new novel from the bestselling author of Pictures of Lily and The Longest Holiday!
Sometimes you have to step out of the light to see clearly again…
Bronte never expected to see Alex after their one night together, but she never stopped thinking of him. So when she arrives at work one day to find that Alex is a new colleague, she is secretly thrilled. The only problem is that Alex is now engaged to Zara, the girl he was on a break from the night they met.
Determined to move on with life, Bronte becomes a part-time wedding photographer, alongside her day job. Surrounded by loving couples, warring couples, tearful bridesmaids, mischievous pageboys and interfering mothers-in-law, she tries to navigate her way through wedding after wedding while her heart is being torn apart.
As Alex's own wedding day draws ever nearer, Bronte and Alex's chemistry becomes harder to ignore, and Bronte must decide whether to fight for the man she loves, or to let him go forever.

My Review:

Thirteen Weddings by Paige Toon is certainly a page turner! I devoured the book within 2 days and at many times, particularly towards the end it had me on the edge of my seat. It's going to be hard to write my review without giving it all away.....but I shall try!

Thirteen Weddings appears, early on, to be great chick lit and a big love story where the leading lady is torn between two men, but this book has a deeper, grittier side to it as well as it deals with homosexuality and betrayal.

Bronte is our leading lady and we first meet her on her friend Polly's hen night. We also meet Alex on the same night. Alex goes on to be not only a major love interest but also a work colleague. Bronte met and had a one night fling with Alex on the night of the hen do, not expecting to see him again, but obviously falls for him. A twist of fate brings them back into contact, but Alex now has a fiancee to complicate matters. Early on we also meet a number of Bronte's friends and work colleagues, all of whom help develop the storyline.

Bronte has an aversion to weddings, yet starts to work with Rachel assisting her in taking wedding photos at weekends. This gives us some light comedic moments, but also helps draw out some of the grittier reasons that she hates marriage. It's at one of the weddings she, and the reader are introduced to Lachie, a fellow Australian who is there providing entertainment. Lachie is portrayed as quite the hottie who attracts a lot of female attention, including Bronte's although for much of the book I found it hard to tell if she was genuinely attracted to him or not.

It was interesting for me to see which of the love interests I was backing. Initially I was team Alex, thinking that it was just misfortune and that they should work it out. I felt like Lachie was just a player who would break her heart. However, towards the end I totally switched teams.

We know something isn't quite right from Bronte's childhood as snippets of information emerge at various times, but we don't get to find out exactly what happened until towards the end of the book. When we do it is handled really sensitively and well by the author.

I do seem to really like books where, whilst there are one or two main roles, there are a group of others. There was no one I disliked so enjoyed reading about their trials and tribulations. I liked the way the characters blended in and all bought their own issues to ponder.

I really loved this book and almost didn't want it to end. I liked the pace of the book. It was always moving and changing. I was surprised at just how serious the last third of the book is. It really transformed for me from light hearted and fun into a story that explores the past, love and touches on some serious topics. I had read some reviews saying that they found the middle slow going but I didn't find this. Paige Toon has a style of writing that I really click with and I find it easy to engage in her stories. The book had lots of moments that made me smile and laugh but also some touching emotional moments, so it has a lot of everything. The ending really touched me and hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster UK Ltd for providing a copy of this book via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Travelling Tea Shop by Belinda Jones

The blurb:

A delectable tale of friendship, love and cake for fans of Jenny Colgan and Sophie Kinsella...

Laurie loves a challenge. Especially if it involves anything beautiful, baked and frosted. The brief is simple: With three other women, Laurie will board a London bus - kitted out as an English tea shop - on a deliciously different road trip of the USA.

Their mission: To bring home-grown classics like Battenberg, Victoria sponge and scones to the land of cupcakes, whoopie pies and gold-leafed chocolate sundaes.

And to show them how a real cup of tea is made. All of the women have their own secrets and heartaches to heal. As well as a grand appreciation of cupcakes, there's also the chance for romance...

But will making whoopee lead to love?

All aboard for: New York - Connecticut - Rhode Island - Massachusetts - Maine - New Hampshire - Vermont(less)

My Review:

The Travelling Tea Shop by Belinda Jones is an amazing read....I loved it! If you love cake, life and love then this is a must read for you.

The book introduces us to Laurie who is interviewed by Pamela, who is a famous baker from London. Pamela is writing a new book about cake, and hires Laurie to organise a tour  which takes in different states and allows her to exchange traditional local cakes in return for an English recipe. We also get to meet her Mum and daughter, and some other key characters in Charles and his son along the way.

I adored this book. It is a story about life and happiness. I felt light reading it, even when the plot deepened. I loved the characters, particularly Laurie and Pamela's daughter Ravenna. Ravenna is coming out the other side of the teenage years and when we first meet her she is surly, rebellious, insecure, and a nightmare to her Mum and Grandmother.   As the book develops so does Ravenna's character and I felt quite protective and motherly towards her.

They hire a London red double decker bus to travel round from state to state and I could imagine being part of the gang and travelling around with them. The feeling of a jolly boys outing hit me more than once and the road trip was great fun.

The book is cleverly written and I learnt many facts about each state as we travelled around. Not only was the book fun and full of life but I felt like I learnt great facts along the way.

I felt a really warm glow throughout the book, some of it down to my love of America and Belinda has renewed thirst to travel there. I would love to follow the same route and wow people with my snippets of knowledge gained from reading this book.

I feel like I have a new vitality for life after finishing this book. The message I took from it was that no one is perfect and we can't control what happens in life, but we can make the most of what we have, appreciate those we love and who love us, and enjoy life.

Oh and it also left me with a massive craving for all things cake!!

I love this book. It made me smile and put a spring it my step. I hope you will love it too.

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton who kindly provided me with a copy of the book via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Where There's Smoke by Jodi Picoult

The blurb:

Even as a child, Serenity Jones knew she possessed unusual psychic gifts. Now, decades later, she's an acclaimed medium and host of her own widely viewed TV show, where she delivers messages to the living from loved ones who have died. Lately, though, her efforts to boost ratings and garner fame have compromised her clairvoyant instincts.

When Serenity books a young war widow to appear as a guest, the episode quickly unravels, stirring up a troubling controversy. And as she tries to undo the damage - to both her reputation and her show - Serenity finds that pride comes at a high price.

My Review:

Where There's Smoke is a short story by Jodi Picoult. It is an opportunity to meet Serenity, a psychic who has had the ability to communicate with the dead since childhood. Now, grown up, Serenity has her own tv show where she helps people gets messages from loved ones they have lost.

The main storyline is that of a widow who contacts Serenity wanting to communicate with her husband who was killed at war before their son was born. The outcome shapes the remainder of the story, with some shock results. Serenity also tries to help a Senator and his wife find their son who has been kidnapped.

The story goes into some detail around the afterlife, spirits, and what some believe happens to a person when they die. This felt a bit odd as I have recently lost my father in law and the afterlife s something I have been pondering, unsure what I believe. I didn't however feel unnerved by the story, though it has left me thinking.

The story flows at an easy to read pace. Having not read Jodi's work before I wasn't sure what to expect. I liked the style of writing, viewing events from Serenity's aspect. The story finishes on a bit of a cliff hanger. It seems that this story s an introduction to Serenity, whose story will continue in a book called Leaving Time which is due for release in November. I will certainly be looking out for it to find out what happened next.......

Dead Man's Gift: Yesterday (Part 1) by Simon Kernick

The Blurb:


The FIRST direct to digital short-story in a race-against-time three-part adventure from the bestselling author of Relentless, Siege and Ultimatum, Simon Kernick.

MP Tim Horton arrives home to find his seven year old son has been abducted by a ruthless gang of kidnappers. All they have left behind is the brutally murdered body of the Horton's nanny.

The gang's demands are simple: Tim must sacrifice his own life in order to save his son's.

The Review:

Dead Man's Gift is a short story by Simon Kernick, which is being published in three parts. So far I have only read the first part but wow. It is certainly gripping. It has left me on the edge of the seat, really wanting to find out what's going to happen next.

The story gets straight into the action with MP Tim Horton's son being kidnapped and the nanny murdered. There is a twist in the kidnappers demands in that rather than cash, they want Tim to take his life in exchange for his sons.

I love the way the story is written. Fast paced, exciting and full of action. The characters emerge quickly and really help the story come to life. For me there have already been a couple of moments I didn't see coming. I really can't wait for part two to see what happens next.

Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone who provided a copy via Netgalley in return  for an honest review.

Friday, 16 May 2014

The Voices by F.R. Tallis

The blurb:

In the scorching summer of 1976 – the hottest since records began – Christopher Norton, his wife Laura and their young daughter Faye settle into their new home in north London. The faded glory of the Victorian house is the perfect place for Norton, a composer of film soundtracks, to build a recording studio of his own. But soon in the long, oppressively hot nights, Laura begins to hear something through the crackle of the baby monitor. First, a knocking sound. Then come the voices. F. R. Tallis' background as a clinical psychologist sets his writing apart. He knows exactly how to scare you . . .

My Review:

I love reading horror so was really looking forward to reading The Voices by FR Tallis. The story is set back in 1976 and is about a pregnant couple, Christopher and Laura, who buy a new house in preparation for the birth of their child. However, the house has been empty for some time and needs some renovation work done before they can move in. This is when you get the sense that all may not be as it seems. When clearing out the attic Christopher uncovers some items......Once the couple move in with their baby daughter ghostly going on's begin.

Christopher composes soundtracks for films and tv and in his studio he begins to hear voices which a recorded on his equipment. Laura also begins to hear voices and noises coming from the baby monitor.

As the book progresses we see their relationship become more strained and we also meet their friends Simon and Amanda who also have an effect on the characters and their relationships.

I don't want to give away too much about the story line as it is the unknown and unpredicted twists and turns that make it the excellent book that it is. I didn't always predict what was going to happen which was brilliant.

The book is well written and I enjoyed the style of writing used by FR Tallis. I felt it flowed easily and he appears to have mastered the talent of telling a story where you warm to the characters but equally able to tell a story that creeps me out. I do a lot of my reading before sleep and a couple of nights I definitely felt unnerved when switching off the light.

As I mentioned earlier in the review, the story is unpredictable and I enjoyed that. I thought I had it sussed and it was quite exciting when I didn't. I raced through the book wanting to know what happens next and I liked the ending as I could imagine a sequel.

The book reminded me of why I enjoy horror stories and I will certainly be moving another up my reading list. I usually read horror that is more gory and a blood fest rather than a ghost story so this was refreshing. It reminded me of The Woman in Black and I could certainly see this made into a film. I would certainly recommend this book and read more by this author.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan who provided a copy of this book via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

My first giveaway: The Dead Wife's Handbook

Hey all

My blog has been up and running for a couple of months now so I thought it was time to do a giveaway to thank you all for reading it.

One of my favourite books so far this year has been The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman. It was also the first book I reviewed for my blog.

My review of The Dead Wife's Handbook

Information about the book from Amazon

If you would like to win a copy please leave a comment below. The deadline is 5pm on 21st May.

 Good luck all!


Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

The blurb:

From the bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook. Bartholomew Neil is thirty-nine and lost. He's lived his whole life, up till a few weeks ago, with his devoted mum, but now she has died Bartholomew has no idea how to be on his own. His grief counsellor, Wendy, says he needs to find his flock and leave the nest. But how does a man whose whole life has been grounded learn how to fly? So Bartholomew turns to Richard Gere, the man his mum adored from afar, in the hope he can offer some answers. In Bartholomew's letters to Richard Gere he explores philosophy and friendship, alien abduction and the mystery of women. The letters also reveal his heart-breaking need of a family, but when Bartholomew does manage to assemble a motley family of sorts, he seems to have taken on more than he bargained for . . .

My Review:

I was very excited to see that Matthew Quick has a new book coming out. I loved The Silver Linings Playbook and so was looking forward to seeing how he would follow it.

The book is written from the viewpoint of Bartholomew Neil. Bartholomew is 39 and his life has revolved around living with his Mum who has recently died. The book is written in the form of letters to Richard Gere. That might sound random, but Bartholomew's Mum adored Richard Gere so he feels that he can speak to him via letter.

The book is quite intense in places and deals with heavy issues. I like the way that Matthew Quick in both his books hasn't been afraid to write about mental health issues. In this book it explores how the death of his Mum has affected Bartholomew, both through the letters he writes to Richard Gere, but also through his use of therapy. We meet his friend Max and his sister Elizabeth who are also complex characters. We also meet his priest who plays a pivotal role in the book also.

Writing the book in the form of letters is really good, and breaks up some of the deeper moments. I found the book flowed well and liked learning snippets of information about Richard Gere along the way!

I really felt for Bartholomew and it is clear that he has not had an easy life and craves some of the things that we take for granted, such as going on a date, or going to a bar with a friend, I did want to reach into the book and befriend him.

With some books you can guess the storyline early on. Whilst I did see a few things coming I was never sure, and I didn't predict how it would draw together. This kept me interested and made for a roller coaster ride.

This is a quirky book which seems to have divided readers when looking at reviews, but I enjoyed it. The characters are engaging and the depth of storyline kept me going.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan who provided a copy of the book via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Forty things to do before you're Forty by Alice Ross

The blurb:

The truth is that Annie Richards is just too busy to fall in love!

Running a successful cake-making business, acting as caretaker to grand country house, Buttersley, and not to mention single-handedly raising her five-year-old daughter is more than enough to keep Annie’s (flour-dusted) hands full! So can someone please remind her why she agreed to train for a marathon as a ‘40 things to do before you’re 40’ pact with her same so-called best friend?!

With every hour of day already taken up, the arrival of crime writer Jake O’Donnell at Buttersley shouldn’t really have any impact on Annie’s day-to-day life at all. There’s definitely no time in her carefully scheduled day for daydreaming about drop-dead gorgeous authors. Is there?

But between whipping up batches of her signature limoncello cupcakes, Annie realises that Jake, and his twinkling dark eyes, can’t just be ticked off her mental to-do list as easily as she though. Especially when it seems that no. 40 on her list could be creating a truly decadent wedding cake – for her very own wedding…

My review:

Thank you to Carina UK for providing me with a copy of the book via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Forty things to do before you're Forty is a feel good easy read. I found it very easy to get in to with a storyline that flows well.

The book centres around Annie, a single mother heading towards 40 and evidently thinking about what she has achieved, and what she would like to achieve before she reaches the big 4-0. Annie lives and runs a bakery in Buttersley. The scenes set in the bakery reading about her cookies made my mouth water!!! We also meet her daughter Sophie who is just so cute!

Annie has been given a list of things to achieve by the time she reaches 40 from her friend, her friend has circled some ideas already, some of which appeal to Annie and some less so. This is list is stuck on Annie's fridge and whilst reference is made to it a couple of times in the book, it is not as pivotal to the story as I expected it to be. The main 'thing' is to train to run a marathon. I got the feeling that Annie hadn't done much running in her life before, so entering a run as part of the storyline is a big deal for her.

Infact it is whilst out running she first sees Jake. Jake Is the handsome new guy in town, but there is mystery around him and his life. Jake predictably becomes the love interest of the book, but there are twists and turns.

I enjoyed the book even if it was very predictable from the start. I liked Annie and I wanted her and her daughter to be happy. She came across as a strong, gutsy woman who knew what she wanted in life, but deserved a few happy breaks. There was also a more vulnerable side that emerged as her friendship with Jake developed. I also liked Jake and wanted to see him get his life back on track.

I liked the setting of Buttersley. It felt like a real community. We meet her friends and neighbours and they seemed like the sort of people I would like to live around. You can see that she really cares about her friends and vice versa.

Being the wrong side of forty myself (or the right side, dependant on your outlook) it got me to thinking about what things I would like to achieve. I don't think I will ever be a runner but I have looked into doing the race for life off the back of this book.

All in all I would sum this up as a really sweet, enjoyable read that would be ideal for a relaxing weekend, evening or holiday.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Blogger Get To Know Me Tag

Thank you so much to Shaun ( for tagging me, I love these! The tag was created by She Loves to Read.

Tell us five random facts about yourself:

1. I'm an AFC Wimbledon fan
2. I love Jack Bauer and 24. In fact I am pretty much a box set addict.
3. I'm in love with the blue M&M man
4. I'm spend most of my life in bed battling chronic fatigue syndrome (and determined to win)
5. I’m a bit of a plane geek and love airshows (even before I met my boyfriend who is a pilot)

When is your birthday?

5th February

What is your favourite colour?


What is your favourite memory?

Ooh this is a tough one. I guess the one that always pops into my mind is Saturday 14 May 1988, when I was 16. If anyone were to ask me what year I would go back and re-live, 1988 would be the year for me. A number of things happened that year including discovering clubbing, leaving school, a summer of total fun and having my first true love.

However, the highlight was that Wimbledon did the impossible and beat Liverpool in the FA Cup final. It really was giant killing at its best. The day is pretty much a blur, but without doubt one of the best of my life. The bit I remember vividly was getting back to Plough Lane on the 156 bus and seeing hundreds of fans outside the ground. My best friend, her brother, my brother and I hung out the window of the bus and started singing a Wimbledon song, at which point the fans turned around and started singing along with us. It was a goosebump moment and capped off a day I will never ever forget.

Describe a day in your life……

I’m currently off work sick as I have had a few months of poor health. Turns out I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome so life is pretty boring a monotonous!

My day is pretty much spent in bed, watching tv and reading.

I am getting better though and now try to get out of bed and do simple things. I even managed a couple of walks last week.

Once I am better I will back at work during the day, then sitting in the park with my book in the evening, and perhaps some water aerobics and pilates too.

Name five of your favourite songs…
Another really tough one (and will show my poor and old musical taste)..

The Eagles – Hotel California
Thin Lizzy – The Boys are Back in Town
Adele – Make You Feel My Love

Les Miserable – One Day More

Faith Hill – There You’ll Be

If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Crispy chilli beef

Summer or winter?

Hmm my actual favourite is spring, when the world and everything in it starts to come back to life and brighten up.

I would choose summer I guess. I complain when it gets too hot but I love being able to sit with the windows open, go to the park or the beach and just meander around in the sunshine.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why?

Ballydesmond, a village right on the border of Cork and Kerry in Ireland. My Mum and her family are from there and we spent every summer there as kids. I just love it. It is small and sleepy, with 3 pubs and 1 shop. It is usually wet, but it has character and I feel totally relaxed and myself there. The people are so friendly and everyone knows eachother, a real sense of community and belonging. There are long walks to lose yourself from the world but only a car journey from a town if you want more hustle and bustle. I would move there in a heartbeat.

Name five of your favourite films?

Pretty Woman
Back to the Future
The Champ

If you won the lottery what would you buy?

A gorgeous house with a pool, cinema and library. A luxury car (even though I cant drive). If I won enough how about a private island just like the Maldives. I have never been but it looks amazing.

Oh and a new stadium in Wimbledon for the mighty AFC Wimbledon.

Favourite day of the week…

Saturday. Its football day, and when I am working it is the start of the weekend. A lie in, some brekkie and then off to the game, or tuning into Soccer Saturday with the legendary Jeff Stelling.  

What three things would you take to a desert island?

My Kindle


My mobile phone

Sweet or savoury?

Oh sweet every day of the week!

Early bird or a night owl?

A night owl. My natural body clock is to sleep from about 3am – 11 so I could pretty much live without mornings. Late at night is when I can study best and concentrate on reading more.

Name five of your favourite books:

Carmel Harrington – Beyond Grace’s Rainbow
Jojo Moyes – Me Before You
Kathryn Stockett - The Help
Khaled Hosseini – A Thousand Splendid Suns
Lindsey Kelk – I Heart New York

Favourite Drink?

Strawberry milkshake

Favourite animal?

In turn I would like to tag the following:

Monday, 5 May 2014

Farewell Trip by Karin Dixon & Gary Twynam

The blurb:

“That was the first time in my life I was happy…the happiest I ever would be. And I never told you.” 

There’s always one moment in life that passes without you saying what you really wanted – needed – to. For Ruth that day came after the death of her beloved husband Trip. 

She and Trip had fitted together perfectly, right from the very start, and their marriage was filled with love, happiness and travel. Determined to leave nothing unspoken, Trip has left ten letters, taking Ruth on one last adventure - scattering his ashes in ten locations that have meaning for them both. 

The letters take her on a journey across the world, but also back through her marriage, and the life she thought they had shared. 

They had been so happy. Hadn’t they? 

At once heart-breaking and uplifting …prepare to smile through your tears. Farewell Trip is a must read.

My review:

Anyone who is, ever has been, or ever imagines being in love will probably share a common thought of being totally petrified of losing the one they love, particularly too young, and to a disease such as cancer. This is exactly what has happened to Ruth in this book. Her husband Trip has been taken from her too soon after losing his fight with cancer.

What Ruth didn't know was, that whilst ill, Trip had written letters to Ruth, each containing details of a journey he wanted Ruth to go on, and scatter his ashes at each of the places.

The book has a number of viewpoints which allow the reader to get to know and understand both Ruth and Trip and their relationship. We see Ruth in the here and now, living day to day as well as going on the trips. We see her reminiscing over the past where we get to know more about her earlier life, and her relationship with Trip, and others. The letters from Trip allow us to see how the relationship was from his aspect. We also meet a number of secondary characters who really help in showing the reader a third dimension, their relationship through the eyes of others.

The book takes us on a journey through grief, mainly from Ruth's perspective, but also I felt, to a certain degree, from Trip's, anticipating his death and what he was losing.

This book has a really sad feel to it when you start out. I felt a real sense of unjustness that  someone could lose the person who was their world. I myself love the idea of leaving letters to someone for after you are gone. I am a real letter writer so this resonated strongly with me. However, because it resonated so strongly I almost resisted reading the book. I am so glad now that I persevered. If anything, it has reinforced my view.

Each chapter focuses on a particular letter and involves Ruth visiting a place that meant something to both Trip and Ruth when he was alive. Yes, there is a lot of sadness in each chapter, but there are also many times to smile, and some really gritty content that made me question was their seemingly perfect relationship quite as perfect as I first thought it was.

The further I got into the book the more compelling I found it. I felt a full range of emotions on behalf of Ruth including anger, rage, jealousy, sadness and happiness. I really liked the fact that the book was so gritty and didn't sugar coat their relationship and marriage as being perfect. This for me made it feel more real. It felt like a typical relationship with the ups and downs and hard times, but through it all the strength of their love for one another.

I felt in a way like I was accompanying Ruth on her journey of grief and wanted to see if she came through it ok. The book takes the reader through the first year, when is much changes. I did feel at ease by the end and felt strangely at peace by the end.

The book is written by 2 authors but I wouldn't have guessed. It is very well written, heartfelt and a beautiful book.

Thank you to Harlequin (UK) Ltd who supplied me with a copy via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smith

The Blurb:

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Imagine if she hadn’t forgotten the book. Or if there hadn’t been traffic on the expressway. Or if she hadn’t fumbled the coins for the toll. What if she’d run just that little bit faster and caught the flight she was supposed to be on. Would it have been something else – the weather over the atlantic or a fault with the plane?

Hadley isn’t sure if she believes in destiny or fate but, on what is potentially the worst day of each of their lives, it’s the quirks of timing and chance events that mean Hadley meets Oliver…

Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

My review:

What a beautifully written love story this book is. It had me riveted from the start and I read it in just two sittings. The story flows beautifully, and even though its classed as YA it didn't feel like it. Very skilfully written with very likeable characters and a strong story line.

The book centres around two main characters, Hadley and Oliver. They are two strangers bought together at an airport after Hadley misses her flight to London and has to move to a later one. Hadley is portrayed as a shy scared teenager who is begrudgingly flying off to London to attend the wedding of her Dad who has left her to start a new life in England.

I found it easy to tap into the emotion of Hadley throughout the book and I felt strangely thankful that Oliver was there with her to keep her company. I suppose being a Mum to a girl she bought out the protective Mum in me.

The first half of the book really explores Hadley and her life, to the point where I had almost forgotten that Oliver has a story too. This was very cleverly done. Throughout the second half of the book we get to know far more about him, and what brings him to London.

My heart melted at the scenes with Hadley and her Dad. I could feel the teenage angst and feelings of wanting to be loved and be the most important person in his life. Her fears that by getting married she would be cast aside and forgotten about.

This book really tugged on my heart strings. It is a book that will have you believing in love at first sight, romance and that anything is possible if you want it enough. You just always have to keep faith and never stop trying. It also reminds you that you can't make assumptions about others. Take time to listen to their story and what is going on for them.

Thanks to Bookbridgr and Headline for providing me with a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Friday, 2 May 2014

The Innocent by Sean Black

The blurb:

The brand new novel from Sean Black.
When college basketball coach Malik Shaw goes missing after a family tragedy, it looks like just another retired athlete gone off the rails. But Malik's childhood friend, private security specialist Ty Johnson, quickly begins to suspect that there is more to it.
Chasing the truth, Ty, along with his business partner, Ryan Lock, begin to uncover a sinister conspiracy of silence in a sleepy Minnesota college town.

My review:

I get very excited when I see a new Sean Black publication as all his books to date have been fast paced, action packed, and addictive! The Ryan Lock series compare, for me, to the Alex Cross books written by James Patterson. Characters who are interesting and you feel you get to know, plots that twist and turn, and keep you reading well into the early hours. I had no idea there was a new book due out, so when I saw it I knew I had to get my hands on it. A massive thanks to Netgalley and All Night Reads who kindly provided me with a review copy.

The Innocent kicks off with us following Malik Shaw. Malik is the local basketball coach who goes missing after witnessing something he shouldn't have. Malik is a childhood friend of Ty who he calls on for help. The Innocent feels slightly different as Ryan Lock plays a smaller, more supporting role, and doesn't appear until well into the book. This time we see much more of Ty, who in previous books plays his sidekick, being the more prominent investigator.

The first few chapters all centre around Malik, what he witnesses, and the repercussions in the local community and college as well as within his family. His character is cleverly written and I had a real sense of him being a good guy who is very much a family man and someone who cares about the well being of others. This felt important as when the story develops we start to see that a cover up with a small town community is taking place. It helped me develop an empathy for Malik and had me racing through the book to ensure that justice prevails.

I loved seeing Ty ride in to try and help. A bit like feeling the knight in shining armour is on his way to save the day. After reading other books in the Ryan Lock series there is a sense of relief when they get on the case, as you know they are true good days who won't rest until the truth is outed. I also loved seeing the warmth of friendship between Ty and Malik.

The subject matter, who includes child abuse is a sensitive one, but it wasn't exploited in any way. I felt it was handled sensitively with enough detail to assist in telling the story, but not used in a sensationalist manner.

The book is brought together well to include all the key characters without becoming confused about who's who, and what their involvement is. I really did dislike the 'baddies' and wanted them taken down and poor Malik, who goes through so much tragedy to be recognised as the good guy.

The last few chapters almost take your great away with the intensity of what takes place. I just couldn't read them quickly enough but at the same time didn't want it to finish. It definitely packs a blockbuster punch and when reading could easily imagine the book being made into a successful film for the big screen.

Roll on the next instalment......