Thursday, 6 July 2017

Review of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

The bit on the back...

Perfect family, perfect house, perfect life; Jane, Madeline and Celeste have it all . . . or do they? They are about to find out just how easy it is for one little lie to spiral out of control.

Jane hasn't lived anywhere for longer than six months since her son was born five years ago. She keeps moving in an attempt to escape her past. Now the idyllic coastal town of Pirriwee has pulled her to its shores and Jane feels as if she finally belongs. She finds friends in the feisty Madeline and the incredibly beautiful Celeste, two women with seemingly perfect lives - and their own secrets.

But at the start of a new term, an incident involving the children of all three women occurs in the playground, causing a rift between them and other parents. Minor at first but escalating fast, until the whispers and rumours become vicious and spiteful, and the truths blur into lies.
It was always going to end in tears, but no one thought it would end in murder . . .

I've had a copy of this book for quite a while - over two years at least - because I remember when I opened the book post as it came with a daisy chain head band too. The copy I have even has the original title - Little lies. So quite a while. I've only recently gotten around to reading it to coincide with the TV series starting, as I prefer to read a story before watching an adaption. I am particularly glad I read the story first in this case because, once again as with The Girl On The Train, the setting is completely different! Usually that would really bug me, but since I was fortunate enough to holiday in Monterey last Summer I have seen fit to forgive as it meant I could reminisce and point at the screen and exclaim wildly that "I'd been there!".

The story follows the families of Pirriwee. There are three main families focused on throughout the novel primarily featuring the mothers in each family - Jane, Madeline and Celeste. Jane is a single mother to her son Ziggy, making the move to Pirriwee to give him a better life. Celeste is mum to twin boys and wife to the gorgeous, and on the outside seemingly perfect, Perry. Madeline is mother to three children and wife to Ed. Each of the women have completely different family circumstances yet their friendship bond is incredibly strong.

Madeline was the most prominent of the three main characters for me. She is the centre of most dramas, either accidentally or on purpose and she enjoys meddling in her friends life - although there is a fine line between meddling and helping which Madeleine rarely recognises and always crosses. Celeste is an ethereal beauty who never seems tethered to the story throughout. Her storyline is perhaps the most disturbing and turbulent. Her strength of character really develops as the story goes on and I found myself coming to admire her. Jane's backstory unfolds throughout and features heavily in the twists throughout the novel.

The novel is told in chronological order leading up to the incident which isn't fully disclosed until near the end of the story. Interspersed between chapters are extracts from witness statements giving glimpses into incidents leading up to the main event, opinions of characters and a slight, only very slight, insight into what might have actually happened. Your interested will be piqued from the very beginning of this story and the way that Moriarty has spun the story it will keep you guessing right until the very end.

I'm definitely glad I read the book before watching the series as there were many things that were changed or completely unique from the book that it would have annoyed me if I'd gone back and read the book at a later date. I'm definitely looking forward to reading Truly, Madly, Guilty and again will do so before the adaption.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Review of The Vintage Girl by Hester Browne

The bit on the back...

When Evie Nicholson is asked to visit Kettlesheer Castle in Scotland to archive the family heirlooms, she jumps at the chance. Evie's passion for antiques means that, for her, the castle is a treasure trove of mysteries just waiting to be uncovered.

But in each heirloom lies a story, and in the course of her investigations Evie stumbles upon some long-buried family secrets. Add handsome, gloomy heir Robert McAndrew and a traditional candlelit gala to the mix and Evie's

Thank you to Quercus for the review copy of this title. This is one of the first books I was gifted a review copy of and I am shamefully only getting around to reviewing it now - 3 years later! However, with any good novel it doesn't matter when you read it, it can still be enjoyed and that is definitely the case with The Vintage Girl.

The story is all about main character Evie Nicholson, an antiques valuer, who is given the opportunity to visit her sister's boyfriend's (cat's dog's uncle's!!) castle in Scotland to value some of their family heirlooms. Evie is nervous at first but soon jumps at the chance to get stuck in. The daunting Kettlesheer Castle seems to Evie like she's perhaps bitten off more than she can chew however she soon gets into the swing of things - quite literally - and the story unfolds from there.

Evie has a passion, verging on obsession, for vintage items and is quite often being brought up to date by her stylish sister. Alice manages to wangle Evie the stint at Kettlesheer that takes place on the run up to the annual gala that the family holds in the castle.

You are taken on a journey with Evie as she travels up to the draughty castle, wrestles with the valuation on the antiques and as she learns to reel. In between all of this she is at the mercy of her boss Max, who is giving her one last chance to find a worthy antique, and at the mercy of the handsome Robert McAndrew. Robert reminded me of all things Monarch of the Glen, infact the whole book did. Robert however, reminded me of Archie. I loved the subtle tension between the two characters and while it felt like Robert always knew more than he let on it was obvious that he had genuine affection for Evie.

Hester's novels remind me of Harriett Evans so if you enjoys Harriett's books I'm sure you'll enjoy Hester's. I've also reviewed Hester's novel The Honeymoon Hotel so make sure you check that out too.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Blog Tour: Review of The A - Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson

The bit on the back...

Twenty-six chances to find their way back to each other…

P is for Paris where it all began. J is for Jealousy where it all came undone. But the most important letter is F. F is for Forgiveness, the hardest of all.

Sisters Poppy and Rose used to be as close as two sisters could be, but it’s been over a decade since they last spoke. Until they both receive a call that tells them their mother has gone – without ever having the chance to see her daughters reunited.

Andrea, though, wasn’t the kind of woman to let a little thing like death stand in the way of her plans. Knowing her daughters better than they know themselves, she has left behind one very special last gift – the A-Z of Everything.

Firstly thank you to Harper Collins for the review copy of this title and for the opportunity to feature on the blog tour today! This is the third piece of work from Debbie that I've read and I can safely say that it is up to the usual standard - if not slightly over taking that high par!

The story is all about two sisters Poppy and Rose. The pair are estranged and in her death, their mother hopes that they will be able to overcome their differences and reunite. The story starts off with Andrea explaining what the A-Z of Everything is and the rest of the story unfolds from there. Without giving too much away, something has happened to cause this gigantic rift between the sisters. It's a rift that has affected them much more than either possibly dares to let on and it's not only affected them emotionally it's affected their lives, their mother and in Rose's case her son. The passing of their mother is only the beginning in the reunion of Poppy and Rose.

Poppy is a super organised marketing guru with a life in the city, chasing younger men and living life to the full. On the outside anyway. On the inside she's as empty as her coffee tin. Rose, on the other hand, has filled her life with her son and while the family she has forged for herself is somewhat different than she planned, and while her career aspirations have dwindled, she at least has the pretense of a fulfilled life. What neither sister recognises, or will willingly admit to themselves at least, is the gaping hole their rift has left in their life.

The A-Z of Everything is basically an adventure that Andrea has left for both sisters in an attempt to reunite them, to have them forgive each other and to forge a path for the future where they're both in each other's lives. The story starts out as sad, as you would expect from the storyline itself, however it takes you on an emotional journey of discovery, reflection and forgiveness.

I think, as always with Debbie's novels, there are many depths to this novel. Depending on your own state of mind you will take away something different from it. I was on an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish and I'd reckon you will definitely need tissues however at times you will definitely be laughing.

While the story is largely focused on the relationship between Poppy and Rose there are some glimpses of romance in there too. If you enjoy Carmel Harrington & Paige Toon you will enjoy Debbie's novels.

Make sure to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour too! 

Monday, 3 July 2017

Review of Every Little Thing by Samantha Young

The bit on the back

The quiet town of Hartwell is the perfect place to get away from it all - and find what you never knew you needed . . .

Bailey Hartwell has many reasons to feel content - her successful business, a close circle of friends and her steady boyfriend . . . even if their romance feels staid after ten years without a serious commitment. The only challenge in her life comes in the form of sexy businessman Vaughn Tremaine. She thinks the ex-New Yorker acts superior and that he considers her a small-town nobody. But when Bailey's blindsided by a betrayal, she's shocked to discover Vaughn is actually a decent guy.

Vaughn admires Bailey's free spirit, independence and loyalty. As his passion for her has grown, his antagonism toward her has only worsened. Every little thing Bailey does seduces him. But when Vaughn's painful emotional past makes him walk away in fear he will hurt her, it opens an old wound in Bailey, and she uncharacteristically retreats.

Once Vaughn begins to realise he's made the biggest mistake of his life, he has no choice but to fight like he's never fought before to convince Bailey that the love they've found together only comes around once in a lifetime . . .

Samantha Young quickly became one of my favourite authors after I read her debut adult contemporary novel On Dublin Street. That book definitely sealed the deal for me and since then every time Sam announces a new novel I'm desperate to read it. Every Little Thing is the second novel in Sam's Hart's Boardwalk series set in the town of Hartwell. Throughout the first book - The One Real Thing - readers were treated to the delicious building tension between the two main characters due to feature in the second novel - Vaughn and Bailey.

Vaughn and Bailey are rival hotel owners in the quiet town. Bailey runs her family business and Vaughn, with his big flashy New Yorker suaveness is the owner of the brand new resort in the town. While each offers it's own unique flavour of staying in Hartwell, Bailey can't help but clash with Vaughn at every turn. Following on from the first novel the undercurrents of trouble with the infamous town rogues are apparent in this novel too and it takes everything in Vaughn and Bailey to unite against that force.

Bailey is as firey as her red hair and she love to meddle too, especially in her friends love lives which we already know. When she faces off against Vaughn the unresolved sexual tension is almost too much. The two characters are so alike and it's as if neither of them can see it. Bailey and Vaughn also have other similarities which are unveiled throughout the novel and you can see clearly from the beginning that they are, in fact, made for each other.

The story follows the pair as they grow closer and again as something comes between them. Something that will either unite them or break them. It's fast paced, exciting and full of tension that naturally brews between the characters. If you've read any of Sam's books before and are yet to pick this up yet then do!

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Review of New York Actually by Sarah Morgan

The bit on the back...

Meet Molly
New York’s most famous agony aunt, she considers herself an expert at relationships…as long as they’re other people’s. The only love of her life is her Dalmatian, Valentine.
Meet Daniel
A cynical divorce lawyer, he’s hardwired to think relationships are a bad idea. If you don’t get involved, no-one can get hurt. But then he finds himself borrowing a dog to meet the gorgeous woman he sees running in Central Park every morning…
Molly and Daniel think they know everything there is to know about relationships…until they meet each other that is…

I am terribly late in getting around to reviewing this book but as you know life just sometimes gets in the way. Sarah Morgan quickly became one of my go to authors after another blogger - now author Rebecca Pugh - introduced me to her. To say that Sarah's guys are the epitome of book boyfriends is just about hitting the nail on the head. Make sure to check out the rest of Sarah's novels starting with the Snow Crystal series - honestly, ugh, Tyler *makes moony eyes* you won't be disappointed.

This offering of Sarah's is all about Molly and Daniel. Molly is quite closed off and definitely has her guard up when it comes to men. Her past relationships have scarred her and while she can quite happily dole out advice to other relationship weary people she struggles to take her own advice. Molly and her beautiful Dalmatian Valentine are the best of friends and Molly definitely relies on Valentine to be the only steady male in her life.

Daniel has a big hit out for himself. Granted, he's a top lawyer, he's magnificent looking and most things just come to him without too much effort. That is with the exception of Molly. The high walls that protect Molly's heart prove to be a big challenge for Daniel and the extremes that he goes to, to win her over are quite funny, especially when you can see just how they will backfire on him.

As always the story will hook you from start to finish. The relationship between the two characters simmers and builds to a full on roiling boil. The chemistry between Sarah's characters is something that never ceases to amaze me and I really enjoy the dual POV so you get to see just what each character is thinking. I am also slightly obsessed with NYC at the minute because I'm planning my first trip there in November so I'm garnering any tips I can find!!

This is the 4th book in Sarah's popular New York series and I personally could not wait for the continuation of the series. If you're looking for a new book this summer then check out Holiday in the Hamptons which is the 5th book in the series and Sarah's latest release.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Review of The Regulars by Georgia Clarke

The bit on the back...

Best friends Evie, Krista and Willow are just trying to make it through their mid-twenties in New York. They're regular girls with typical quarter life crises: making it up the corporate ladder, making sense of online dating, and making rent.

Until they come across Pretty, a magic tincture that makes them, well ...gorgeous. With a single drop, each young woman gets the gift of jaw-dropping beauty for one week, presenting them with unimaginable opportunities to make their biggest fantasies come true.

But there's a dark side to Pretty, too, and as the gloss fades for these modern-day Cinderellas, there's just one question left: what are they prepared to sacrifice?

I won a beautiful hardback copy of this book in a Twitter giveaway run by the publisher. I was immediately intrigued by the plot which is effectively that of an adult fairytale, albeit quite sinister, where three women are given the chance to change themselves so that new opportunities to  progress their careers and love lives come easily to them. Part of what intrigued me most about this book is how relevant it is to women today facing some of the same issues as the characters and how far they are driven to succeed.

There are three main characters - Evie, Krista and Willow, three friends who are all facing similar challenges in their relatively young lives. Each of the girls try "Pretty" and while the transformations are violent the ultimate result is that of incredible beauty which opens many of the previously closed doors for each character.

Willow has low self esteem and Pretty gives her the boost of confidence she needs but soon discovers darker traits within herself when it comes to her relationship. Krista's experience seems to give her everything she's ever dreamed of however she's outrageous in her alter-ego and everything swiftly backfires. Evie, held back at work - I kind of thought of her character in the same vein as the character Kate Hudson played in How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days - finds her new beautiful self out-going and her ideas are willingly accepted, however on the flip side the fact that she's lying eventually becomes something she struggles with.

Pretty made each of the girls beautiful, no doubt about that, however it also seemed to heighten some of their personality traits - the good and the bad - and while it seemed like the perfect solution to their unhappiness the alternative life that Pretty shows them is tainted from the beginning.

The underlying, and important, message is obviously that of embracing who you are and learning to find happiness within yourself and that life isn't easy but it can be worth the effort.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway - The Summer House by Jenny Hale

Today I'm delighted to be taking part on the blog tour for Jenny Hale's Summer release! Not only am I here with a review but you also have the chance to win a copy of Jenny's latest page turner thanks to her publishers Bookouture! 

The bit on the back...
Some summers will stay with you forever...

Callie Weaver and best friend Olivia Dixon have finally done it: put their life savings into the beach house they admired through childhood summers, on the dazzling white sand of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. They’re going to buff the salt from its windows, paint its sun-bleached sidings, and open it as a bed and breakfast.

Callie’s too busy to think about her love life, but when she catches the attention of local heartthrob Luke Sullivan, his blue eyes and easy smile make it hard to say no. He’s heir to his father’s property empire, and the papers say he’s just another playboy, but as they laugh in the ocean waves, Callie realizes there’s more to this man than money and good looks.

Just when true happiness seems within reach, Callie and Olivia find a diary full of secrets... secrets that stretch across the island, and have the power to turn lives upside down. As Callie reads, she unravels a mystery that makes her heart drop through the floor.

Will Callie and Luke be pulled apart by the storm it unleashes, or can true love save them?

There are some book releases from several authors that I look forward to every year. Jenny Hale is one of them. It's one of those scenarios where I hope I'm lucky enough to receive an advanced copy so I don't need to wait just quite as long, but know I'm going to pre-order my own copy anyway! Jenny's latest Summer novel is here and takes us straight back to the Outer Banks.

The Summer House is all about Callie and Luke. Callie is finally beginning to realise her dream of owning a B&B with her best friend Olivia. The story starts with the early stages of renovation and follows Callie through her summer with a few more bumps in the road than she predicted. Luke is the local celebrity and heartthrob. At first Callie tries to keep him at arms length all while Luke continues to woo her proving there is more to him than the gossip columns say. He proves himself throughout the story and is up there with the best of Jenny's book boyfriends.

While the main story throughout is the love story between Callie and Luke there is a little something else bubbling away in the background built into the history of Callie and Olivia's house. I enjoyed the parallel storylines and how parts of each complimented the other. I always find Jenny's books to be unputdownable but for the first time here I was gripped with tense excitement and suspense to see how the story was going to unfold. The storyline simmers along gently before coming to a full blown boil in the last half of the story! Jenny has more than demonstrated the strength of her writing and story development here and each of her characters come into their own light, rounding them out before the end of the story.

As usual Jenny has hit it out of the park in terms of describing the setting for her book. After I read this novel I headed straight to Google to search for images of the Outer Banks so I could carry on imagining myself there. I would LOVE to visit and that inspiration has come from reading Jenny's books. I feel like you can completely immerse yourself in the story, imagine yourself walking along the same streets, same shop fronts, same beaches with the characters and it's one of my favourite things about Jenny's books.

If you enjoy Nicholas Sparks novels I'm quite sure you will enjoy Jenny's.

So what are you waiting for?! Have a bash in the giveaway!

Head over to Jenny's website to find out more about her and her novels!

Thank you again to Bookouture for having me on this blog tour - make sure to check out the other stops!