Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Top Ten Books of 2015

Hi there

I can't believe we are saying goodbye (and good riddance) to 2015 already. Time flies eh......Hope it has been a good year to you, and that 2016 is a great year for you.

I have been lucky enough to read some fantastic books this year. It has been hard to narrow it down to just ten books. But here are my favourite reads of the year.

I would love to hear what you have enjoyed, and what books you would recommend I add to my list.

We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman

My review of We Are All Made of Stars

Every Time A Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington

My review of Every Time A Bell Rings

The Lie by C.L.Taylor

My Review of The Lie

The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson

My review of The Day We Disappeared

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin

My review of Christmas at Lilac Cottage

Silent Scream by Angela Marsons

My review of Silent Scream

Recipes for Melissa by Teresa Driscoll

My review of Recipes for Melissa

Hidden by Emma Kavanagh

My review of Hidden

The Gingerbread Cafe Trilogy by Rebecca Raisin

My review of The Gingerbread Cafe Trilogy

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

My review of The Girl on the Train

Monday, 28 December 2015

Jessica's Christmas Kiss by Alison May

Out Now
Published by Choc Lit
Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

Real Christmas miracles only ever happen in the movies – don’t they?

When Jessica was fifteen, she shared the perfect kiss with a mystery boy at a Christmas party. It might have only lasted a moment, and the boy might have disappeared shortly afterwards but, to Jessica, it was just a little bit magic.

Fourteen years later, and Jessica is faced with a less than magical Christmas after uncovering her husband’s secret affair. And, whilst she wouldn’t admit it, she sometimes finds herself thinking about that perfect Christmas kiss, back when her life still seemed full of hope and possibility.

But she never would have guessed that the boy she kissed in the kitchen all those years ago might still think about her too

My review:

Jessica's Christmas Kiss is a fabulous festive read. It is a good old love story, with the classic will they, won't they scenario. At just under 150 pages it is perfect for snuggling down and escaping from the real world for a little while.

Jessica was a teenage girl when she shared her first kiss with a boy at a Christmas party, he then disappears and is never heard of again. Fast forward through the years and Jessica is a married woman who occasionally reminisces about the kiss but is in love with her husband.

Jessica has suspected an affair for a while but her fears are finally confirmed when she hears him on the phone on Christmas Day. This starts a chain of events which sees the marriage break down and Jessica having to cope with adjusting to her husband leaving her for another woman. But what she wasn't expecting was to be reunited with the boy she kissed all those years ago.

Will things turn out differently now? Ahh I can't possibly say and give away the rest of the story. You will just have to read and find out for yourself!

Ok, so the storyline might sound a bit far fetched, but indulge in allowing your mind to wander into fantasy and I really enjoyed it. Let's be honest, how many of us occasionally cast our minds back and wonder 'what if?'

Jessica is a lovely character and my heart went out to her when she found out about the affair. However Jessica isn't one to roll over and hide, she is feisty and I really enjoyed reading her story. She doesn't know for quite some time that she has stumbled across the boy from her teenage years and I really wanted to jump in and intervene.

If you like to indulge in lighthearted, enjoyable reads with some romance and suspense this could well be one to add to your reading list.

Thank you to Choc Lit who kindly provided a copy in return for an honest review.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Silent Scream by Angela Marsons

Out now
Published by Bookouture
Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

Even the darkest secrets can’t stay buried forever…

Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult-sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood …

Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country.

But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she’s on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades.

As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it’s too late?

Fans of Rachel Abbott, Val McDermid and Mark Billingham will be gripped by this exceptional new voice in British crime fiction.

Watch out for more from D.I. Kim Stone

My Review:

I can't believe I have left it so long to read this book! I love a good crime thriller to get lost in, and this fits the bill perfectly. Tense, compelling and with loads of drama it had me engrossed from start to finish.

Silent Scream introduces us to DI Kim Stone and her team who are called to the murder scene of a local woman. But before long the murder investigation grows as human remains are found buried at a former children's home, and other bodies begin to appear. It is down to Kim and her team to try and prove the link between the deaths, and unearth who the killer is.

This is an excellent start to a new series of books featuring Kim Stone. Angela Marsons has created a character that is a caring and dedicated detective, but also tough, and definitely multi dimensional. She is passionate about the job she does, and her passion can at times push her to the boundaries of what she meant to be doing. I loved her defiant streak which could easily have gotten her into trouble, but she has a strong instinct and will follow it at all costs.

But as well as following the investigation from Kim and her teams perspective we also get glimpses into what is happening for the murderer in the chapters written through their eyes. I like to play detective and try to be one step ahead and solve it before the perpetrator is revealed. I thought I had it sussed but I was wrong...totally wrong! But I liked seeing the case from a different perspective, as it gave more depth and insight into their motivation.

I was reading this week that Angela had been submitting manuscripts and getting rejections from publishers for many years. I cannot understand why as her writing is fantastic. She has a real talent for developing strong, interesting characters, and writing a novel that drew me in from the start and kept me on the edge of my seat until the end. I am so pleased that Bookouture have signed her and bought her work for us to read.

Silent Scream is perfect for fans of crime fiction. I would highly recommend it as a gritty, engrossing read.

Thank you to Bookouture who kindly provided a copy in return for an honest review.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin

Out now
Published by Bookouture
Purchase from Amazon here

The blurb:

Welcome to the charming seaside town of White Cliff Bay, where Christmas is magical and love is in the air…

Penny Meadows loves her home – a cosy cottage decorated with pretty twinkling fairy lights and stunning views over the town of White Cliff Bay. She also loves her job as an ice-carver, creating breathtaking sculptures. Yet her personal life seems frozen.

When Henry and daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage to rent the annex, Penny is determined to make them feel welcome. But while Daisy is friendly, Henry seems guarded.

As Penny gets to know Henry, she realises there is more to him than meets the eye. And the connection between them is too strong to ignore…

While the spirit of the season sprinkles its magic over the seaside town and preparations for the ice sculpting competition and Christmas eve ball are in full swing, can Penny melt the ice and allow love in her heart? And will this finally be the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of?

Like a creamy hot chocolate with marshmallows, you won’t want to put this deliciously heartwarming novel down.

My review:

Hooray! Holly Martin has a new book out....perfect! I always love Holly's books and get very excited when I hear of a new book being published. Christmas at Lilac Cottage was just as good as I was hoping it would be, and I was lost in the world of White Cliff Bay until the very end when I reluctantly had to leave.

The wonderful Penny owns a cottage and lives alone. She has decided to rent out part of the cottage and the new tenants are due to move in. Up rocks Henry who piques Penny's attention very quickly, but who is this Daisy who is also moving in? Penny initially assumes that Daisy must be Henry's other half and that he is therefore off limits. But she is soon pleasantly surprised to discover that Daisy is infact his teenage daughter.

Penny and Daisy strike up a good friendship and it isn't long before Penny gets Daisy involved in her job as an ice sculptor. Daisy loves this and they spend more time together getting to know one another and helping Daisy settle in. However Daisy makes it very clear that she wouldn't accept Penny and Henry dating. Drat!

Henry is more of a closed book and whilst he is obviously also attracted to Penny he is less likely to act on this. Whilst I loved Penny and Daisy I didn't take as easily to Henry. He was certainly more guarded and emotionally closed off, and I loved Penny so didn't want her to pursue him or fall for him and get her heart broken. His behaviour at times wound me up. That said, I love Henry as a father. Ok, he is a little overbearing and protective, so as a teenager I would be a bit frustrated. But it is clear that he adores his daughter and will do anything to ensure her happiness. Who doesn't love a man who is a great father?

Penny was my favourite character. She is a strong woman, independent, a great friend, a hard worker and a caring person who seems to be at the centre of her local community. However there is a vulnerability and loneliness about her. She has a bit of a sad back story which impacts on her during this novel. It really did fill me with sympathy for her and a strong desire for her to be happy and content. I was willing her to come to a happy ending throughout.

I love the way Holly puts her books together. She is very clever at scene setting and character development. She seems to make them very believable and by using great descriptions I find it easy to bring her characters off the page and to life. I can imagine living in a cottage at White Cliff Bay and being very settled and happy there, which means I was totally engrossed and transported into their world very quickly.

I believe there is also a second book called Snowflakes at Silver Cove which also features White Cliff Bay. I will be downloading and reading this over the Christmas period.

I am so pleased to have been able to read such an engrossing, enjoyable, touching story and I am very much looking forward to reading more of Holly's work.

Thank you to Bookouture who kindly provided a copy of this book in return for a honest review,

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Christmas Cravings by Emma Hamilton

Out Now
Published by Bastei Entertainment
Purchase from Amazon here

The blurb:

How could everything that seemed so right suddenly have gone so wrong for Mia? Snow is on the ground and Christmas lights twinkle in the German Christmas market. The warm, spiced wine is just right, but there's still one key ingredient missing from her romantic dream. Will Mia's Christmas turn out to be sugar and spice and all things nice - or a deflated soufflé of loneliness and regret?

Christmas Cravings is a festive romance standalone episode from the Greedily Yours series.

My review:

Christmas Cravings is a novella in the Greedily Yours series. I haven't read any of the other stories in the series so I wasn't sure if I would be able to follow what was happening. But this works well as a standalone short story.

Mia and her best friend we in Germany visiting the Christmas markets, but Mia is miserable as she has had problems with her long distance boyfriend Tom. They fly home and it is down to her best friend and her best friends boyfriend to work together to sort things out between them.

I liked Mia as a character and would be interested I reading more of the stories in the series. Mia is a food blogger and there are some lovely recipes at the end of the novella. I am a food lover and can imagine i would enjoy the other stories and their food talk!

The novella is just 98 pages long and is a very quick read. I found it easy to get into the story and lapped it all up in one sitting. It is a nice bit of escapism during the festive season.

Thanks to Bastei Entertainment who kindly provided a copy in return for an honest review.

Monday, 21 December 2015

The Lie by C.L.Taylor

Out Now
Published by Avon
Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes . . .

Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She’s happier than she’s ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.

Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women.

Jane has tried to put the past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed Jane and everything she loves . . .

Haunting, compelling, this psychological thriller will have you hooked. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl and Daughter.

My Review:

Wow! I thought I loved Cally Taylor's first book, The Accident. But this was even better! I was hooked from the start and found it very hard to put the book down.

As the book starts we meet Jane who works at the local animal sanctuary, has a boyfriend, and what appears to be an unspectacular, normal run of the mill life. But it's not long before we discover Jane isn't quite what she seems to be....infact she isn't called Jane at all!

Five years ago, Jane (or should I call her by her real name, Emma), travelled to Nepal on holiday with three of her best friends. All we know is that something happened during that holiday that resulted in her returning to the UK and having to start a new life with a new identity. I really don't want to tell you much more than that about the storyline as I fear it may unwittingly spoil it for other readers.

So what can I say about what happens? That's the beauty of the book. It takes is on a journey with chapters alternate between the present day and five years ago. With each of the chapters the story gets darker, and we discover more about the trip and the traumatic events that took place and prompted the life changes.

The author has, in my opinion, created a work of genius. Right from the outset the mystery starts to build and intrigue definitely got the better of me. I was totally captivated. As the storyline develops I started trying to second guess what had happened, but I was wrong! Not only was I trying to guess what had happened five years ago, but the storyline crosses over into the present day, which adds another layer of complexity and guessing.

I love the way the characters were written and developed. I found Jane very likeable and easy to warm to. There is also a lot of tension and sadness around her which moulds her personality. The author has also created some vile, truly horrible characters whom I found it easy to despise. The depth of the characters really made the book for me. Because I found it so easy to like some, and hate others I felt myself pulled even deeper into finding out what happened. And I never managed to guess all the outcomes which is always great and leaves me feeling satisfied that I have read a really good, unpredictable book.

The story has twists and turns as it hurtles towards the end, and the big revelations. The story becomes darker and in parts are quite disturbing, which if I am honest is right up my street!

I absolutely loved this book and would highly recommend it as a must read.

Thank you to Avon who kindly provided a copy in return for an honest review.