Monday, 14 December 2015

A Wedding at Christmas - Chrissie Manby

"What comes to mind when you picture a wedding at Christmas? A gorgeous white dress accessorised with a thick velvet cape... bridesmaids in red velvet too? An arch of Christmas greenery: holly and ivy and boughs of fir. Candles and fairy lights. Snow!
Chelsea Benson has just twelve weeks to organise her perfect winter wedding. Her family and friends pitch in to help, but sisterly squabbling, issues with money and an Ice-Queen mother-in-law soon threaten Chelsea's plans for her big day. And that's without the firework fiasco...
Rescuing Chelsea's dream of a proper family wedding might just take all the magic of Christmas..."

Oh, I love The Bensons SO MUCH *sigh*. I have been hooked on Chrissie Manby's "Proper Family" series from the word go, and this was just as wonderful as the other books in the series. They are a noisy, rowdy, emotional, NORMAL family and I think this is what the appeal is to readers - a reader can relate to each of the characters - we all know a Ronnie, lots of us have a Grandad Bill figure in our lives, and every character, although flawed, is irresistibly down to earth.

This book focuses on a wedding in the family, but being typical Bensons nothing seems to go as planned. It kept me laughing all the way through, with the various escapades that occur throughout, but this time I found the story line a lot more emotional than previous books. Whether it is just the events that take place, or whether I am just ridiculously attached to the entire Benson family, I did find myself bawling in places - there are some heartbreaking scenes, that really touched me.

A wonderful read, perfect to curl up with in front of the fire. Please, Chrissie, don't let this be the last we hear from the Bensons!

A Wedding at Christmas is out now and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the publisher for my ARC**

Thursday, 10 December 2015

**TOP 2015** A Little Recap...

So, I think it's fair to say that 2015 has been an amazing year. For me personally, it has been BEYOND brilliant - I've written a book and managed to secure myself a two book deal with Carina UK (out in March folks, but don't worry, I'm sure I'll remind you), I've met some fantastically talented authors (Lee Child! Peter James! Really!), made some lovely, supportive and brilliant friends (you know who you are) and most importantly I've read some CRACKING books. As everyone else is posting their Top Ten of the year, I've done mine slightly differently and picked a book from each month that I thought was pretty bloody top notch (but please bear in mind this is when I READ them, not when they were published, so some might be a bit older and some might not be out just yet). So here goes;


No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary

A ridiculously good read, the next instalment of the Marnie Rome series was my pick for January. Unbelievably addictive, you can read my full review here:


Disclaimer by Renee Knight

With an unusual premise that I'd never come across before, and despite the mixed reviews that it received, I LOVED Disclaimer. It has an excellent twist, characters that cause the reader to swing wildly between loving and hating them, and I found it utterly brilliant. You can read my full review here:


Soil by Jamie Kornegay

A Fargo-esque tale that had me hooked from the very beginning, Soil is a captivating read that had me spluttering with laughter in places, despite it's dark subject matter. Fine writing that gives a full on taste of the South. My full review is here:


The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson

To say that I gushed about this book when I read it is a *slight* understatement. I loved it. Really, seriously loved it. It's written so cleverly, and there is such an intriguing storyline that this was the first book this year that I loved so much I bought multiple copies and gave them away to people, just so they could have the full experience of the "PUNCH YOU DIRECTLY IN THE MOUTH" plot twist. Every single one of those people got full on punched-in-them-mouth by that twist. Amazing. Review here:


Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson

Beautifully written, with captivating characters and set in an exquisite landscape that was COMPLETELY brought to life, Ragnar Jonasson is a serious talent.  It must be good, if I have bought myself another copy, made EVERYONE in my family buy a copy, downloaded the audio copy and also booked a trip to Iceland off of the back of it - I think that tell you how much I loved it, right? Full (gushy) review here:


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

To say that Ove stole my heart is an understatement. Crotchety and rude, feisty and grumpy Ove is one in a million. I didn't think at first that this would be my mind of read, but it ended up being one of those books that I went on to gush about (again), and I don't think anyone I know who has read it, hasn't fallen in love with Ove. Full review here:


Blood Moon/Huntress Moon/Cold Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

i was lucky enough to be sent the "Moon" series by Alex in exchange for honest reviews. These completely surpassed my expectations and I lost an entire weekend as I devoured them one after the other. If you haven't read them yet, I strongly recommend that you do!


A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

August was a totally emotional month, which saw me complete my first (I say first, more like third) draft of my book and so I celebrated by reading this. WOW. A compelling, addictive, emotional read that ripped the heart out of me, I probably would have been happier (read: not bawling my eyes out) treating myself to a bottle of wine and a tube of Pringles, this was an absolutely stunning read that stayed with me long after I finished. Totes emosh. Full review here:


The Dark Inside by Rod Reynolds

Well, this book caused one of the gushiest reviews I've ever written. A fanastic plot line coupled with characters that are so real YOU CAN ACTUALLY HEAR THEM SPEAKING, Rod Reynolds is the kind of writer that makes me want to bash my head on the desk and wail, "WHYYYYY??? Why can't I do it like that??" A bloody marvellous read and I'm already jonesing for the next one. Full review here (warning: v gushy):


In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward

A lovely twisty, turny psychological thriller with some pretty horrid characters that slowly imprint on to the reader, so that I had no choice but to keep turning the pages, In Bitter Chill is a perfect winter read. With a style similar to Sophie Hannah, Sarah Ward has written a brilliant novel, another one on my growing list of books to push on to other people! Review here:


Girls On Fire by Robin Wasserman

Now, this isn't out till May 2016, so my review hasn't gone live BUT...I am ridiculously excited about this book. It is an EXCELLENT read, shocking, disturbing and downright addictive, I am convinced that everyone is going to be raving about this book in 6 months time. I know, because I am raving about it RIGHT NOW. Keep an eye out for the full review.

There are a few more contenders that I just couldn't squeeze in. 2015 has been an AMAZING year for books, so I have to give an honourable mention to the following:

I Let You Go - Clare Mackintosh
Normal - Graeme Cameron
No Name Lane - Howard Linskey
Tenacity by James Law
Names of The Dead - Mark Leggett

These are also BRILLIANT reads, and ones that I would urge you to add to your TBR.

Heres to the end of a brilliantly bookish year!

L x

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

SUBJECT 375...AKA The Spider in the Corner of the Room - Nikki Owen

The Spider in the Corner of the Room was one of the best books of this year for me, so when I discovered that it had a new title and a new cover I was SO EXCITED to be a part of Team Spider - the new cover is BEAUTIFUL....

Nikki had this to say about the new cover and title change:

“You can’t be precious about these things as an author, precious about your title, your first cover. Because writing is about the readers, and if readers need to clearly know what genre your story is in, then you need to communicate that. That’s why Subject 375 as a new title and cover are so exciting for me – I get to talk directly to the reader through it. Awesome.” 

I think the new cover sums up the story inside BRILLIANTLY, and while I loved the original title, the new one is V snappy and sure to hook new readers.


"What to believe
Who to betray
When to run…
Plastic surgeon Dr Maria Martinez has Asperger’s. Convicted of killing a priest, she is alone, in prison and has no memory of the murder.
DNA evidence places Maria at the scene of the crime, yet she claims she’s innocent. Then she starts to remember…
A strange room. Strange people. Being watched.
As Maria gets closer to the truth she is drawn into a web of international intrigue and must fight not only to clear her name but to remain alive."

And you can get your copy here:

Saturday, 5 December 2015

A Night in with Marilyn Monroe - Lucy Holliday **Includes Extract!**

"After dating the hottest man on the planet, Dillon O’Hara, Libby Lomax has come back down to earth with a bump. Now she’s throwing herself into a new relationship and is determined to be a better friend to best pal, Ollie, as he launches his new restaurant.
Despite good intentions, Libby is hugely distracted when a newly reformed Dillon arrives back on the scene, more irresistible than ever. And when another unwelcome guest turns up on her battered sofa in the form of Marilyn Monroe, Libby would willingly bite her own arm off for a return to normality.
But while she hasn’t been watching, someone else has filled the Libby-shaped hole in Ollie’s life and she realises she could be about to lose something that means everything to her. Libby doubts that Marilyn is the right person to offer her advice, but perhaps she should listen up, before it’s too late…"

Having loved the first book in the series, A Night in with Audrey Hepburn, I was SO looking forward to this one and was super excited to be offered a review copy. It certainly didn't disappoint - Libby's life is just as chaotic was it was when we left her at the end of the previous book, if not more so, and I was only a few chapters in before it had me roaring with laughter. Bogdan the handyman/hairdresser makes a reappearance, alongside many other characters from the first book and it was lovely to catch up with them all again.
Although this is a follow on, it can easily be read as a standalone, but why would you want to do that? Both books in the series are highly enjoyable, and I would recommend that to get the FULL enjoyment of them both, you should read Audrey first. Libby is still a wonderful character, and I loved her justas much this time around as I did before. 
I know what I wanted to happen at the end of the novel - and it didn't - so I am just crossing my fingers that the third in the series, A Night in with Grace Kelly, is just as brilliant as this one!

Read on for an extract from the beginning of the book:


It was a big moment, last night, when my grandmother knocked on the door of my hotel room and handed me this box containing about seventeen layers of tissue and, beneath them all, her wedding veil.
A massive moment, actually.
She’s not the most warm and fuzzy of grandmothers – nobody on Dad’s side is warm and fuzzy; in fact, come to think of it, nobody on Mum’s side is all that warm and fuzzy either – but I’ve always worshipped her a little bit. For her to hand down her wedding veil to me . . . not to any of Dad’s brothers’ daughters, but me . . . well, it makes me feel special. Which is nice, for a change.
And all right, it would have made me feel even more special if she hadn’t added, as she watched me open the box, ‘I’d give you my wedding dress, too, Libby, darling, but I’m afraid you don’t have quite the tiny waist I did when I wore it.’
But still. A big moment. A symbol of my super-glamorous grandmother’s esteem.

And then there’s the fact that it’s absolutely stunning.
Seriously, there’s no way you could find anything like this in any bridal shop across the land: hand-stitched, palest ivory lace, with a gauzy elbow-length piece to cover your face at the front and an almost ten-foot drop at the back. (Grandmother only got married in a small village church in her native Shropshire, but she was modelling her entire wedding ‘look’ on her movie idol, Grace Kelly, hence the dramatically long veil, carried up the aisle by her – eight – bridesmaids.) It makes me look stunning, and not just because the gauzy lace covering my face is the equivalent of smearing a camera lens with Vaseline to blur out imperfections. Something about the way the veil hangs, the way my hair is half pulled back to accom­modate it, the flattering ivory shade, perhaps . . . whatever the reason, I feel a bit ravishing, to be honest with you.
And now, looking soft-focus himself from behind all this lace, here comes Olly, striding towards me. He reaches out with both hands, folds back the veil so that he can see my face, and smiles down at me. His eyes look exceptionally soft, and he doesn’t speak for a moment.
‘What on earth,’ he says, when he finally speaks, ‘are you wearing this for?’
‘It’s Grandmother’s. She came round with it last night.’ I pull the veil back down, keen to retreat behind the Vaseline blur again, just for one blissful moment. ‘Does it suit me?’

‘Wonderfully. But – and don’t bite my head off here, Libby – don’t you think maybe you ought to stick to just a simple hat, or something? It isn’t your wedding, after all.’
‘I know that,’ I sigh. I steal one final glance at myself, a vision of Grace Kelly-esque (well, Grace Kelly-ish) bridal loveliness, in the full-length mirror in the corner of my hotel room. ‘And obviously I’m not going to wear this to Dad and Phoebe’s wedding. Though, to be fair, I don’t know if Phoebe could actually object – I mean, Grandmother did offer it to her for the day, and she turned it down . . .’
This doesn’t at all take the shine off Grandmother offering me the veil afterwards, by the way. I mean, all right, she was in a bit of a grump about her soon-to-be new daughter-in-law refusing to wear the veil because it would swamp her rather fabulous figure, but that wasn’t why she came to my room late last night and handed it over to me instead. She’d only have let Phoebe borrow it – her Something Borrowed for the day – whereas I’ve actually been bequeathed it . . . if that’s the right word to use when Grandmother is still very much alive.
‘Still,’ says Olly, with a grin, ‘I’m not sure if Phoebe would be all that thrilled at a guest turning up in a ten-foot lace veil on her wedding day. Especially not her new stepdaughter.’
I wince.

‘Sorry, sorry.’ He holds up both hands. ‘I know we’re not calling her your stepmum. My bad.’
Because it’s not as if I don’t have enough problems with the one actual mum I’ve already got. Not to mention the fact that Dad has never really been enough of a dad for me to call the woman he’s marrying my ‘stepmother’. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve got no objection to Phoebe whatsoever, who seemed a pleasant enough woman during the ten-minute chat we had when Olly and I arrived at the hotel last night. But I think we’ll all be much more comfortable, once today is over, if we just go back to being polite strangers, exchanging Christmas cards and the occasional text. Which, where Dad is concerned anyway, would be a massive improvement on the last twenty-odd years.
‘Anyway, we should probably be heading down to the orangery now, don’t you think?’ Olly asks as – a little bit reluctantly – I start detaching the veil from my hair and folding it back into its slim cardboard box. ‘I know your dad said it’s all very informal, but I doubt if that extends to us arriving after the bride and groom.’
‘Well, it’d be a bit ironic of Dad to suddenly start deploring lateness right now,’ I say, ‘given that he only remembered my eighteenth birthday two weeks after the event . . . but, you’re right. We should get going.’
I head back over to the mirror and look at our joint reflection. Now that I’ve taken the veil off, all I’m wearing is a cap-sleeved silk dress and matching suede heels that, both in charcoal grey, feel more wedding-appropriate

than my usual head-to-toe black. Olly is looking dapper, and astonishingly different from his normal self, in a dark blue suit, crisp white shirt and striped tie. It’s been ages since I’ve seen him in an outfit that wasn’t either chef’s whites or, ever since he started doing up his own restaurant a couple of months ago, a paint-spattered T-shirt and baggy jeans, so it’s a bit of a surprise to look at him now and remember how well he scrubs up.
‘Do we look all right?’ I ask, meeting his eyes in the mirror.
Olly studies us both for a moment.
‘I think we look pretty bloody good,’ he says, meeting my eyes in the mirror, too. ‘You in particular. I really like that dress.’
‘Thanks, Ol. Oh, and I apologize in advance,’ I say, linking my arm through his and starting to head for the door, grabbing my hat and bag and pashmina as we go, ‘if any of my relatives mistakenly think we’re a couple. I haven’t told them we are – I mean, I never see any of them from one decade to the next, obviously – but you know how people jump to conclusions . . .’
‘There’s no need to apologize.’
‘. . . and some of them might even remember you from when you came with me to my granddad’s funeral eleven years ago, so they’ll probably ask all kinds of questions about why we’re not married yet . . .’
‘Well, it would be a perfectly legitimate question. If we really had been together all those years, I mean.’

‘. . . but you should be able to fob them off easily enough without even having to tell them we’re just best friends. Shove a drink in most of their faces and they’ll forget they were even talking to you, anyway.’
‘Don’t worry, Lib. Fobbing off intrusive lines of ques­tioning from well-meaning relatives is pretty much a speciality of mine.’
And Olly holds open the door, impeccably mannered as always, for me to walk out ahead of him.
A Night in with Marilyn Monroe is out now and you can get it here:

**MY thanks to the publisher for my review copy**

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Lost Girls - Angela Marsons

"Two girls go missing. Only one will return.
The couple that offers the highest amount will see their daughter again. The losing couple will not. Make no mistake. One child will die.
When nine-year-old best friends Charlie and Amy disappear, two families are plunged into a living nightmare. A text message confirms the unthinkable; that the girls are the victims of a terrifying kidnapping.
And when a second text message pits the two families against each other for the life of their children, the clock starts ticking for D.I. Kim Stone and the squad.
Seemingly outwitted at every turn, as they uncover a trail of bodies, Stone realises that these ruthless killers might be the most deadly she has ever faced. And that their chances of bringing the girls home alive, are getting smaller by the hour…
Untangling a dark web of secrets from the families’ past might hold the key to solving this case. But can Kim stay alive long enough to do so? Or will someone’s child pay the ultimate price?"

I don't think any other author has shot to the top of my FAVOURITE AUTHOR list so quickly before. Angie took my breath away with her first novel, refused to give it back with her second and now, once again I have been left gasping by the sheer brilliance of Lost Girls.
A highly charged emotional read, that leaves the reader thinking what if?, this book takes the reader on a huge roller coaster ride - it's fast paced, tense and thrilling and exactly what we've come to expect from Angie, as readers. 
Kim Stone is as fantastic as ever - sharp and edgy, brave and feisty, she's definitely the one you want on your side. As a reader, I LOVE her - she's like the cool kid that everyone wants to be, but I love how Angie give her little quirks that make her human (like her inability to bake...but her determination to keep on trying!).
All I can say is: BRAVO Angie, you've done it again! Now, when can we expect Book 4?
Lost Girls is out now and you can get it here:
**My thanks to the publisher for my ARC**