Sunday, 25 January 2015

Alice Brown's Lessons in the Curious Art of Dating and Could it be I'm falling in Love? - Both by Eleanor Prescott

"Alice Brown is a professional matchmaker, and as far as she’s concerned, she’s got the best job in the world. What could be better than helping others find love (even if she’s single herself)…?
Alice’s latest client at the Table For Two dating agency is Kate. Kate’s already five years behind in her life plan and knows exactly what she wants in a man. But might that be the problem? Will anyone measure up to Kate’s standards?
And then there’s Audrey, Alice’s misguided boss from hell, who has somehow managed to bag herself the perfect husband. But all is not what it seems, and when work and love lives collide, will anyone be able to take Alice’s advice?"

"This Valentine’s Day, Roxy Squires is waiting for the phone to ring…
Roxy is famous. At least, she used to be. She’s a good-time TV presenter, and OK, so things haven’t been going so well recently, but her big break is just around the corner. What she’s really looking for is someone to propel her back to the big time.
Enter Woody, one-time pop star and Roxy’s ultimate dream date, now working as her window cleaner. He’s the answer to her prayers – but for some reason, he doesn’t want to be famous. 
And it turns out they’re not the only celebs in the village. Roxy’s living amongst a motley crew of former stars and fame survivors, who meet weekly to discuss their new lives. Is this the reality check Roxy needs? Or maybe it’s a chance to do the unthinkable and fall in love…?"

Eleanor very kindly sent me both of her books as a prize a couple of weeks ago, and seeing as I have mired myself in psychological thrillers for weeks and weeks, this weekend turned into a chick-lit fest. I am a fan of chick-lit, but I am a bit fussy about it. I like my chick-lit heroines to be tough. We all know in this genre the girl always gets the guy - but I kind of like to think that they don't really NEED the guy. Neither of these novels disappointed! 
I read 'Alice' first - an absolute delight to read! Every character was so well written, and chances are you will have come across people like these guys in your everyday life, which always makes things easier to relate to.  It was a beautiful novel with lots of little love stories running alongside each other - now I just need Eleanor to write a sequel so I can catch up with some of the characters (no pressure!).
The rest of my weekend has been taken up with Eleanor's second novel. A very different read to her first, much more funny and our heroine is far more feisty than Alice. It was another very enjoyable, easy read, and although I didn't really care for Roxy in the beginning by the end I LOVED her. There was a cheeky little twist in there at the end that I didn't see coming, and I loved that the end of book included a little paragraph on what everybody was up to, after the finale of the book. 
Two perfect novels for a bit of light relief, after lots of gruesome crime novels, perfect for the beach or when you just need something light and refreshing to read. Eleanor Prescott, I think you might be my new favourite chick-lit lady. 

Both books are out now and you can get them here:

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

No Other Darkness - Sarah Hilary

"Two young boys.

Trapped underground in a bunker.

Unable to understand why they are there.

Desperate for someone to find them.

Slowly realising that no-one will...

Five years later, the boys' bodies are found and the most difficult case of DI Marnie Rome's career begins. 

Her only focus is the boys. She has to find out who they are and what happened to them.

For Marnie, there is no other darkness than this…"

Oooh new Marnie Rome novel! I loved Sarah Hilary's debut novel Someone Else's Skin, in which we are first introduced to Marnie Rome, a DI who's had a bit of a messed up personal life (to say the least). This new novel featuring Marnie, Noah and the rest of Marnie's team was fabulous - chillingly creepy, but with a huge emotional undertow that hooked you from the word go. The characters are so well written, and the back story of Esther and Matt was actually heartbreaking. No Other Darkness is published in April 2015 - I suggest you go and pre-order it here:

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Clovenhoof - Heide Goody & Iain Grant

"Charged with gross incompetence, Satan is fired from his job as Prince of Hell and exiled to that most terrible of places: English suburbia. Forced to live as a human under the name of Jeremy Clovenhoof, the dark lord not only has to contend with the fact that no one recognises him or gives him the credit he deserves but also has to put up with the bookish wargamer next door and the voracious man-eater upstairs. 

Heaven, Hell and the city of Birmingham collide in a story that features murder, heavy metal, cannibalism, armed robbers, devious old ladies, Satanists who live with their mums, gentlemen of limited stature, dead vicars, petty archangels, flamethrowers, sex dolls, a blood-soaked school assembly and way too much alcohol. 

Clovenhoof is outrageous and irreverent (and laugh out loud funny!) but it is also filled with huge warmth and humanity. Written by first-time collaborators Heide Goody and Iain Grant, Clovenhoof will have you rooting for the bad guy like never before."

This is not my usual kind of thing, I must confess, but having seen rave reviews on THE Book Club I took a chance on it and I wasn't sorry I did. Jeremy Clovenhoof is the fallen Satan, sent to Earth for generally doing a crap job in Hell. The antics that followed had me roaring with laughter and to be honest, I'm not sure I can ever eat blood pudding again. I absolutely loved this, and if going to hell means hanging out with the likes of Jeremy Clovenhoof, I'm not sure it can be all that bad. The sequel, Pigeonwings, is already loaded on to my Kindle and you can get it, and Clovenhoof here:

Monday, 12 January 2015

Trust in Me - Sophie McKenzie

"Julia has always been the friend that Livy turns to when life is difficult. United fifteen years ago by grief at the brutal murder of Livy's sister, Kara, they've always told each other everything.

Or so Livy thought.

So when Julia is found dead in her home, Livy cannot come to terms with the news that she chose to end her own life. The Julia that Livy knew was vibrant and vivacious, a far cry from the selfish neurotic that her family seem determined to paint her as.

Troubled by doubt but alone in her suspicions, Livy sets out to prove that Julia was in fact murdered. But little does she realise that digging into her best friend's private life will cause her to question everything she thought she knew about Julia. And the truth that Livy discovers will tear the very fabric of her own life apart."

Trust In Me is the first Sophie McKenzie I have read and I did enjoy it….BUT - I did find it a little predictable. I probably suspected every character as I read the novel, but I was a little disappointed to find that my main suspect WAS the actual suspect. I kind of like it when I think I know who is it, but it turns out to be someone totally different. That said, it was still an enjoyable psychological thriller, with good characters (having an 11 year old daughter I could completely relate to Livy's issues with Hannah!) and I would give it 3.5 out of 5. I'll be keeping an eye for more Sophie McKenzie. You can get it here:

(Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my ARC).

Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Venus Trap - Louise Voss

"Jo Atkins’ sixteenth year was disastrous: she lost her dad, was assaulted by a stranger, and then had her heart broken. For the last twenty-five years, she’s believed that nothing could ever be as bad again.
She was wrong.
Now, still smarting from her recent divorce, pretty, self-effacing Jo finally gathers the courage to enter the dating scene. She meets Claudio, whom she vaguely remembers from her youth, but after a few dates decides he’s creepy and politely tells him ‘thanks but no thanks’.
But Claudio has no intention of letting her go.
Instead of never seeing him again, Jo wakes up sick and terrified, handcuffed to her own bed. She is given a week to prove her love for Claudio—or he will kill her.
Claudio, it turns out, is a man with nothing left to lose.
The Venus Trap tackles the emotional impact of divorce, the perils of modern dating and the age-old powers of lust and obsession".

First review of 2015! I was very kindly given an advance review copy of The Venus Trap by Louise Voss. I am a huge fan of Louise and Mark Edwards already and have read pretty much everything they've written together, but never read anything of Louise's that she's written solo before. I was hooked from the very first page, in which we meet Jo - hungover, nauseous and handcuffed to her bed. Her characters are so well-written and come over so strongly on the page, that even the less central figures to the story evoked huge emotions, and even if you've never experienced the pain of divorce, tried internet dating or lost someone you love, the characters are easy to relate to. A brilliant read, and one that I definitely would recommend. You can get it here: