Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton #BookReview #ThreeHoursNovel

Today its my turn on the blog tour with Viking Books to celebrate the paperback release of Three Hours on 29th October. I’m a big fan of Rosamund Lupton and so I jumped at the chance of being involved in this tour. Thank you so much to Ellie Hudson of Viking Books for kindly sending me a gifted copy of the book.

The blurb …

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens; a school is under siege. Pupils and teachers barricade themselves into classrooms, the library, the theatre. The headmaster lies wounded in the library, unable to help his trapped students and staff. Outside, a police psychiatrist must identify the gunmen, while parents gather desperate for news. In three intense hours, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and save the people they love.

My review …

What can I say about this book except … OH MY GOD!!!! It is amazing.

I’ve never read a book where my heart has been pounding and I’ve held my breath from start to finish.

The action begins straightaway as Old School in Somerset is under siege by two masked gunmen. The headmaster has been wounded and children are hiding in the theatre, library, a classroom and in a pottery art class in the woods of the vast school grounds. We are told the story from the perspectives of various different children, teachers, parents etc alternately as the siege continues. And it is terrifying. Who are these gunmen and what are their motives?

The pace of this thriller is astonishing as the story unfolds over three hours. It is obviously well researched and draws inspiration from real life cases and current affairs. The psychological insight from the police investigation is fascinating and I was completely gripped.

The writing is startlingly precise and professional but at the same time beautiful, perceptive and heartwrenching. The characters, especially the teachers, are all so brave and inspirational. From the stoic drama teacher Daphne trying to keep everyone’s spirits up by practising their play in the theatre to the gorgeous and courageous student Rafi, who having already risked his life escaping from hell in Aleppo, will do anything to save his little brother again (Rafi is now one of my favourite fictional characters of all time!).

Alongside all the action there is a wonderful theme of literature where the characters draw upon their favourite books for comfort and inspiration to stay strong and be brave and even for protection. The children practice their Shakespeare play in the theatre so that you have the ominous story of Macbeth playing out in the theatre, which is mirrored by the terrifying siege taking place in the school corridors, which I thought was extremely powerful.

This is absolutely one of the best books I’ve ever read, I loved it and felt every minute of those three hours. The fear of the children, the responsibility upon the police and the anguish of the parents was incredibly moving as was the theme that love is the most powerful thing there is. I think everyone should read this book and not just for entertainment value, but also because there are some very poignant and important themes within these pages.

About the author …

Rosamund Lupton is the author of Sister, a BBC Radio 4 ‘Book at Bedtime’, a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and winner of the Richard and Judy Book Club Best Debut. Her next two books Afterwards and The Quality of Silence, also Richard and Judy Book Club choices, were Sunday Times bestsellers. Her books have been translated into over thirty languages.

Out in paperback on 29th October 2020

Thanks for reading!

❤️

The 12 Christmases of You and Me by Jennifer Joyce #BookReview

It’s a bumper day of reviews to kick off the blog tour for The 12 Christmases of You and Me and you can find details of the other bloggers posting today in the tour banner below. Thank you so much to Jennifer Joyce for my gifted copy of the book and also to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part.

The blurb …

What if you could go back in time and fix the biggest mistake of your life?

Two years ago, Maisie’s best friend walked out of her life and she hasn’t heard from him since. When she wakes up in 1994, she naturally assumes she’s dreaming. But when she finds herself in the past again the next night and her actions in the dream alter her present-day life, she begins to wonder if she’s somehow hopping back in time. And if she is time-travelling, can she save her friendship with Jonas?

When Maisie is forced to relive Christmases of the past, will she face up to her mistakes, or make them all over again? The 12 Christmases of You & Me is a magical tale of friendship, first loves, and learning to live in the present.

My review …

We meet unlucky in love, single mum, Maisie in mid November as she is waiting for her best friend, and bride to be Lily, at her wedding dress fitting. Later that evening after reminiscing over a photo album with Lily, and a few too many wines, Maisie falls asleep and wakes up at Christmas time in 1994. She is 14 years old and after moving with her family is about to start a new school and meet her two new best friends, Lily and Jonas. After a couple of days spent in 1994 it is not until somebody takes a photograph with a flash that Maisie is transported back to the present day and this is when a pattern of travelling back to past Christmases begins.

Maisie soon realises that these episodes are more than just dreams and that this could be her chance to mend the broken relationship with her beloved friend Jonas. But she has to tread very carefully so that she doesn’t change the course of her life and risk not meeting the father of her daughter Annabelle.

During Maisie’s trips back in time it’s was so interesting to see her reliving her past moments but with her forty-year-old head on. As a mother herself now, she appreciates her own mother more and the effort she used to put in at Christmas time when Maisie and her brother and sister were little and I found these realisations really touching. She also remembers what it was like to be fourteen and this helps her in understanding her own teenage daughter and prompts her to be more understanding and patient.

While Maisie is reliving the highs and lows (and cringiness) of her teenage years, there were some really funny moments, especially where Lily was concerned, she was such a fun character and a great friend and I loved the way that she hardly changed throughout the years.

I really enjoyed Maisie’s travels back to the nineties because we are the same age, so the references to things like music, the Whigfield, Friends, hangovers in front of Hollyoaks and the Millennium bug really struck a cord with me and Maisie took me right back with her.

This story is so well written and cleverly plotted and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is engaging, fun, tense and emotional all wrapped up with a festive theme. I only wish that I could go back to the nineties and tell myself not to over pluck my eyebrows!

About the author …

Jennifer Joyce is a writer of romantic comedies who lives in Manchester with her husband and their two daughters. She’s been scribbling down bits of stories for as long as she can remember, graduating from a pen to a typewriter and then an electronic typewriter. And she felt like the bee’s knees typing on THAT. She now writes her books on a laptop (which has a proper delete button and everything).

Social Media Links:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jenniferjoycewrites

Twitter: www.twitter.com/writer_jenn

Instagram: www.instagram.com/writer_jenn

Follow the tour …

Purchase links …

UK -https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B086T3LKB7/

US -https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086T3LKB7/

Thanks for reading!

🎄

Christmas Reunion in Paris by Liz Fielding #BookReview

Today it’s my turn on the blog tour for this lovely festive romance. I would like to say thank you very much to Liz Fielding for my signed gifted copy of the book and the lovely little extras 💗 and also thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour.

The blurb …

Parisian reunion … With the one that got away!

Celebrity chef James Harrington never expected to find himself face-to-face with Chloe, his first love, again… Especially, with her working as a chambermaid at his luxury hotel! Their chemistry’s as strong as ever, but she’s hiding a secret. Can James convince Chloe that their love is worth taking a chance on – again?

Katie Fforde wrote, when honouring her with the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 2019 said -“Liz Fielding’s books, with their warmth, humour and emotion, have charmed millions of readers. She is a true star of the romantic fiction genre.”

My review …

Michelin starred celebrity chef Jay, is trying to revive his family’s business at the Harrington Park Hotel with the help of his brother and sister. While he is in Paris looking for a new head chef, he is astonished to run into his first love Chloe working as a maid at the hotel where is he staying. The pair fell in love ten years ago while they were still at school, but were forced apart by Chloe’s controlling father, who had made arrangements for Chloe to marry into a wealthy and powerful family. Jay can’t understand why Chloe would be working as a maid when surely she must be very wealthy?

As he learns the truth of what has happened to Chloe since they parted he is devastated and vows to look after her from now on. But even though they still love each other and the chemistry is definitely still there, do they want the same things in life and will it work out second time around?

I really enjoyed this festive romance and I especially loved the Parisian setting as it’s somewhere I have always wanted to visit. It was wonderful following the couple sightseeing and dining through Paris at Christmas time as the characters take us on an emotional journey. Jay’s character was kind and caring and it was heartwarming to see how he wanted to take care of Chloe but his tendency to take control was his downfall, as he underestimates her strength of character and determination. One of the best things about this book is seeing Chloe stand up for herself and follow her own dreams after all the heartbreak that she has suffered.

I was left feeling very warm and fuzzy, yet slightly envious at the ending, so if anyone needs me, you’ll find me on Rightmove searching for a reasonably priced Chateaux.

About the author …

Best selling author, Liz Fielding worked as a secretary in Africa, the Middle East and the UK before writing full time. Her award winning books are published worldwide in multiple languages and she has more than 15 million books in print. Katie Fforde wrote, when honouring her with the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 2019 said -“Liz Fielding’s books, with their warmth, humour and emotion, have charmed millions of readers. She is a true star of the romantic fiction genre…”

Follow the tour …

Purchase links …

Purchase Links

Amazon – https://mybook.to/ChristmasReunion

iBooks  – https://books.apple.com/gb/book/christmas-reunion-in-paris/id1508284570

Google   https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Liz_Fielding_Christmas_Reunion_In_Paris_Mills_Boon?id=DgPdDwAAQBAJ

Nook  – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/christmas-reunion-in-paris-liz-fielding/1136637305

Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/christmas-reunion-in-paris-mills-boon-true-love-christmas-at-the-harrington-park-hotel-book-1

Mills and Boon – Harlequin –

https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781335556462_christmas-reunion-in-paris.html

Mills and Boon Australia

https://store.millsandboon.com.au/products/christmas-reunion-in-paris?_ga=2.190695592.2088628603.1594193836-1074301285.1594045585

Thanks for reading!

💗

Love Orange by Natasha Randall #BookReview

I would like to say a huge thank you to Riverrun Books for very kindly sending me a copy of Love Orange and for having me along on the Buddy Read, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was great getting to know the other bloggers on twitter and chatting all about this brilliant book.

The blurb …

Jenny Tinkley lives to mother her two complicated sons and prop up her technology obsessive husband Hank, who has installed gadgets, cameras and voice recognition devices in their smart house. When she hears of an outreach opportunity at her church, she feels that hand-writing letters to John, inmate 6587 at Flainton Correctional Facility, will be an antidote to her high-tech isolation.

Letter by letter John pinches Jenny awake from the marshmallow numbness of her life. In their exchanges she expresses tenderness, unexpected affection. Constantly under surveillance, their letters chart a secret rebellion, a bid for freedom. But Jenny is becoming curiously dependent on the sweet orange glue that seals John’s envelopes and their lives begin to converge with toxic consequences.

Love Orange explores the ascendancy of technology, the predicaments of masculinity and the epidemic of opioid addiction in American society.

My review …

In Love Orange we are introduced to the dysfunctional and fascinating Tinkley family; Jenny, Hank and their sons, Jesse and Luke and I enjoyed getting to know all about them enormously.

Hank is a brilliant character even though most of his actions and opinions infuriated me. He’s a paranoid, anxious technophile who, emboldened by his viking heritage, is obsessed with his masculinity and teaching his boys how to be ‘real men’ whether they like it or not.

Meanwhile, thirteen-year-old Jesse’s use of technology is becoming problematic, whilst the youngest of the family, inquisitive and misunderstood, eight-year-old Luke, is left to his own devices in his basement play room.

Jenny is lonely, frustrated and disconnected from her husband. It speaks volumes about her relationship with him that she gains more comfort and understanding from her correspondence with John, her prisoner penpal, than she does from Hank. She feels trapped and undermined by the ‘smart home’ that Hank has created and she resents the way that technology has taken over their lives – even their church has a smartphone. That is until she becomes curious about the sweet orange substance that John has used to seal his envelopes, whereupon her life takes a drastic change in direction and the story delves deeper into themes of addiction and imprisonment.

It is testament to the author’s incredible talent that she has produced a work of literary fiction covering many complex issues, that is not only highly readable and relatable, but also very amusing. So many of Jenny’s feelings and fears resonated with me as a mother, and the descriptions of the minutiae of family life and the characters’ inner ponderings were brilliant.

Love Orange is a modern, original, powerful and thought provoking story that I didn’t want to end and I already want to read it all over again – I loved every page!

About the author …

Natasha Randall is a literary translator whose translations include Notes from an Underground by Dostoyevsky, A Hero of Our Time by Lermontov, and We by Zamyatin. She has edited a volume of Gogol for Riverrun, Quercus. Her articles and reviews have appeared in the TLS, LA Review and the NYT. She lives in London with her husband and young children.

#LoveOrange

🧡

Diary of a Prison Officer by Josie Channer #BookReview

The Diary of a Prison Officer blog tour starts today and I am pleased to be sharing my review. Thank you so much to the author and Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and for my gifted and signed copy of the book.

The blurb …

It’s 2003, Tony Blair is still Prime Minister and a shy loner from London, Amber Campbell, joins the prison service searching for purpose.

Behind the walls of the women’s prison Amber is determined to prove that she has what it takes. She makes a pact with two close friends to support each other no matter what. However, the three Black women struggle when they experience discrimination and disappointment at every turn. 

There is rising racial tension in her home town when twelve far right local councillors are elected. Amber reflects on the prison system in her blog and takes an emotional journey off the beaten track through Africa to find love.

My review …

Diary of a Prison Officer is a combination of diary entries and blog posts from fictional character Amber Campbell and which draws on the author’s real life experiences as a prison officer.

The story starts in 2018 as Amber is taking a tour of East Africa to explore a deeper understanding of her identity as a black woman of caribbean heritage living in London. As she travels Amber reads some of her diaries from her time as a prison officer starting in 2003. While she is reading she hopes to remind herself of why her job once meant so much to her, and also how she fell in love with her husband. It was interesting to follow Amber’s travels to the different African countries each with their own different cultures, landscapes and way of life.

The diary entries give a fascinating insight into the role of a prison officer at women’s prison, HMP Holloway, but particularly the difficulties of a black female prison officer starting at the bottom and trying to rise through the ranks. She and her fellow black colleagues are constantly overlooked for promotions, treated like ‘gophers’, bullied and rejected and if they complain are told they have an attitude problem. She wonders why 100% of cleaning staff are black but 0% of senior officers? As Amber becomes more confident in her role, she becomes an advocate for her friends and slowly starts to see some change.

She not only advocates on behalf of her BAME colleagues but also on behalf of the prisoners. She sees a vicious circle of drug addiction and reoffending and a frustrating lack of support for mentally ill and disabled prisoners. She really cares and goes above and beyond her duties to try to help these women while she herself struggles with dyslexia and shows the detrimental effect this has on her career. Amber also becomes involved in local politics and encouraging the black community to use their vote as she is alarmed to see the rise of the BNP party in her borough.

With several unnerving stories of life within the prison as well as on Amber’s African travels this was an entertaining yet thought provoking read with some emotional scenes. It’s so sad to read about women who are trapped in the cycle of drug addiction, broken homes, prostitution and crime and a probation and rehabilitation service that just doesn’t work. I thought that Amber was an inspirational character fighting back against institutionalised racism in the prison service and I was rooting for her throughout to receive the recognition she deserved.

I would recommend this interesting and timely story in light of the BLM movement and the current popularity of vocational memoirs, but I do feel that a little bit of editing would improve the flow of the book and really help it to stand out.

About the author …

Josie worked as a prison officer at Holloway Prison for many years and has a unique and specialist knowledge of how a prison is run. 

Josie likes to write about criminal justice system, politics, women’s issues and Black British history. Her work has been published with online political magazines a number of times. She is passionate about addressing the barriers that women of colour face.

Social Media Links – @JosieChanner

Follow the book tour …

Purchase links …

Station Helix by Ash Greenslade #BookReview

Today is my turn on the blog tour with Love Books Tours for the brilliant new book from Ash Greenslade. Thank you so much to Love Books Tours for the invitation to join in and also huge thanks to the author for my gifted and signed copy of the book together with a posh bookmark 😊

The blurb …

“I DON’T WANT YOU TO FEEL PARANOID ABOUT ME LYING TO YOU.”

An inexplicable suicide… A devastating car wreck… A secret Ministry of Defence facility…

Told with pace and tension, STATION HELIX is an exciting and modern novel rooted in the tradition of British thrillers.

Alex Hannay makes a shocking discovery which draws him into a perilous world of conspiracy and murder. As operatives from the CIA pursue their own operation on the streets of London, Alex is torn between protecting those who share his secret and seeking retribution for a terrible crime.

My review …

Conspiracy thrillers are not a genre that I usually read but I thoroughly enjoyed this book which is the first in a trilogy featuring Alex Hannay and centred around a Ministry of Defence secret genetic research lab called Station Helix. I would describe it as a cross between James Bond and The Line of Duty and it was a great change of scene for me.

This is an action packed and fast paced story right from the first chapter with a whole host of intriguing and untrustworthy characters. While the subject matter is complex I found it easy to follow.

The writing is very intelligent, with lots of detail and information as you’d expect from a conspiracy thriller and it’s so convincing because the author obviously knows his stuff.

I would highly recommended this tense, page turner and I’d be interested in reading the next book in the trilogy to see what Alex Hannay gets up to next! 

About the author …

Ash Greenslade is a former police officer and trainer who became hooked on thrillers after reading David Morrell’s THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE ROSE. Despite dabbling with numerous writing projects since his schooldays, it took over two decades from reading Morrell’s landmark book for Ash to finally take writing seriously. Determined to accomplish an original novel, he embarked on STATION HELIX, a conspiracy thriller inspired by a visit to Orford Ness. Originally intended as a standalone novel, STATION HELIX prompted another two books, THE ELZEVIR COLLECTIVE and TORUS, plus the RYAN KERREK spin-off series (SINISTER BETRAYAL, DEADLY ACQUISITION, BLACK SCARAB and HUNTING CARACAL).

Ash credits his love of words to weekly spelling tests from the age of four, an incredibly enthusiastic English teacher who wrote children’s stories in the 1960s, and his collection of Enid Blyton, CS Lewis and Willard Price books. Captivated by the escapism of stories, the young Ash wanted to become a children’s author, and he still has a few early projects hidden away which might resurface one day. But it was the thriller genre which grabbed him as an adult. Although Morrell remains his favourite author, he’s a fan of the old-school British stalwarts such as Buchan, Ambler, MacLean, Bagley and Higgins.

Despite his working background, Ash doesn’t write crime thrillers, preferring the more secretive and enthralling world of espionage for his stories. Betrayal and conspiracy are recurring themes. And while he avoids revealing too much of his own character through his pages, some aspects of Ash’s books are very personal, such as the scuba diving scenes in BLACK SCARAB. (Ash worked as a divemaster in the Red Sea before qualifying as an instructor in Grand Cayman.)

When time permits, Ash researches his family tree and takes photographs. Several family surnames feature in his books, and he took the cover shots for the STATION HELIX series. And while he enjoys the occasional trip to London to meet friends, visit the theatre or conduct some research for his books, he’s more at home exploring the solitude of rural Essex in search of wildlife.

He can be found online at www.ashgreenslade.net

Twitter @ashthrillers

Buy Link 

Thanks for reading!

🖤

Playdate by Alex Dahl #BookReview

Today, I have the pleasure of sharing my review of Playdate by Alex Dahl as part of the Blog Tour with Midas PR – thank you so much for my space on the tour and also for my gifted copy of this brilliant book.

The blurb …

Have you seen Lucia Blix?

Lucia went home from school for a playdate with her new friend Josie. Later that evening, her mother Elisa dropped her overnight things round and shared a glass of wine with Josie’s mother. Then she kissed her little girl goodnight and drove home.

That was the last time she saw her daughter

The next morning, when Lucia’s dad arrived to pick her up, the house was empty. No furniture, no family, no Lucia.

In Playdate, Alex Dahl puts a microscope on a seemingly average, seemingly happy family plunged into a life-altering situation.

Who has taken their daughter, and why?

My review …

This story is every parent’s worst nightmare – and I loved it!

Set in Norway, the story starts straightaway with Elisa Blix rushing to pick up her children from school. When she collects Lucia the little girl repeatedly asks for a playdate with her new friend Josie, putting Elisa on the spot, as kids tend to do. Elisa doesn’t know the mother and is apprehensive, but when she meets Line and sees that she is beautiful, smart and well spoken, with the girls giggling and playing nearby, she makes a superficial judgement and decides that it can’t do any harm. Straight away my maternal alarm bells are ringing. I’ve been in this position myself, even when I know the mum, of not wanting to let my children go in someone else’s car, or to their house and especially to a sleepover, but also knowing that you have to let them nurture friendships and encourage independence and it really is a horrible feeling.

The playdate does later turn into a sleepover and Elisa arranges to drop Lucia’s night-clothes and minky mouse to Line and Josie’s house. Elisa is impressed with Line’s beautiful sleek home and stays to have a glass of champagne and a chat with the charming and glamorous mum. She then gives Lucia a goodnight kiss and arranges with Lina that Lucia’s dad, Fredrik, will collect her the following morning.

The next morning Elisa leaves early for work as a flight attendant and it is not until 6.30pm that evening, when she arrives back at the airport to a flurry of missed calls and texts, that she realises something is dreadfully wrong. Line hasn’t dropped Lucia home and Fredrik is unable to reach her by phone. They race to Line’s home and find it empty, with no trace of the family. Lucia has been abducted.

I felt that I was thrown headfirst into this Scandi-thriller as Lucia is abducted and the police investigation starts within the first twenty-five pages. As the investigation gets underway Elisa and Fredrik face an agonising wait for news and the story unfolds via alternating chapters from the different characters, which is a format I always enjoy. The characterisation here is remarkable, they are all complex and intriguing, and reading from the first person perspectives of Elisa and Lucia gives a chilling and heartbreaking insight into their thoughts and emotions.

The author’s writing style is exceptional with such attention to detail. It is beautifully atmospheric in the descriptions of the settings between Norway and France, giving a real feel for the different landscapes, towns and cultures. Moreover it is so incredibly evocative and emotive that I could physically feel the fear and pain of the characters. I was completely invested in this story from the first chapter, willing Lucia to be found safe and well, and constantly putting myself in Elisa’s place wondering how I would feel in this situation, and what would I have done?

This is a clever, believable and tragic story with so many twists that it kept me guessing right up until the end and it will resonate with everyone, not just parents, as comparisons will be drawn with recent real life abduction cases. It’s one of my favourite reads of 2020 and I’m adding all of Alex Dahl’s books to my ever growing TBR pile!

About the author …

Alex Dahl is a half-American, half-Norwegian. Born in Oslo and raised in both Norway and several other European countries she grew up in a multi-cultured family surrounded by artists and creative influences. She studied Russian and German linguistics with international studies, then went on to complete an MA in creative writing at Bath Spa University and an MSc in business management at Bath University. A committed Francophile, Alex loves to travel, and has so far lived in Moscow, Paris, Stuttgart, Norway, Switzerland, Bath and London. Alex is the author of two other thrillers: The Heartkeeper and The Boy at the Door, which was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger.

Follow Alex on Twitter @alexdahlauthor, Instagram @authoralex and Facebook alexdahlauthor

For all publicity enquiries please contact Sophie Ransom on sophie.ransom@midaspr.co.uk

Playdate was published on 2nd October 2020 by Head of Zeus Ltd

Follow the tour …

Thanks for reading!

💛

Small Sacrifices by L.E. Luttrell #BookReview

I am pleased to be sharing my review of Small Sacrifices with you today as part of the blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. Thank you so much to Rachel and the author for my space on the tour and for my gifted copy of the book.

The blurb …

Be careful what you wish for. 

She wanted to be famous. But not like this. 

Ellen Gibson always dreamed of being a star. At a young age those dreams were shattered. 

Discovering she holds the winning ticket in a 55-million Powerball jackpot, Ellen sees it as her opportunity to be in the limelight. But at what cost? 

Detective India Hargreaves and her small team are called in to investigate the disappearance of five- year-old Joshua Gibson, but the investigation is taken over by the big guns from Police Headquarters when it turns out to be a kidnapping. 

When the media and the lead investigator suspect Ellen of being behind the kidnapping, her fame disintegrates into a nightmare and she seems powerless to stop events spiralling out of control …

Purchase Links 

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/L-E-Luttrell/e/B077ZBCJG7  

US – https://www.amazon.com/L-E-Luttrell/e/B077ZBCJG7

My review …

This is the second Australian crime novel, or outback noir, that I’ve read this month and I must say that I’m really warming to this genre and I thoroughly enjoyed this story. This is the third book in a series featuring Detective India Hargreaves but it is definitely a standalone novel.

Set in Windsor in New South Wales we are introduced to unhappily married Ellie and Max Gibson and their five-year-old son Joshie. Money is tight in the Gibson household and Max keeps a tight reign on the household spending much to Ellie’s dismay. They always buy tickets for the Power Ball Draw and when Ellie hears on the news that the $55,000,000 jackpot has yet to be claimed she wonders whether Max put a ticket on that week. When she eventually finds Max’s mislaid ticket, her and Joshie go to their local store to check their numbers and sure enough, against all odds, they are the lucky winners!

Ellie can’t help causing a joyous scene at the busy store which attracts the press to her sensational story. When Ellie was young she was a very talented dancer and it was expected that this would bring her fame, but an injury snatched away her chance to fulfill her dreams and she has been longing for the limelight ever since. This motivates Ellie to lap up the attention caused by her big win and as such, she agrees to several press interviews at her home and glams herself up for photos of her with Joshie. Unfortunately, she never stops to consider the unwanted attention such publicity could attract.

When Max returns from work to a media frenzy outside his home, he wonders what on earth in happening. He is a completely different character to Ellie so when he realises what is happening he can see straightaway how foolish Ellie is in courting so much attention at their home and especially featuring Joshie in the newspapers. Unfortunately, neither of them could possibly imagine the dire sequence of events that Ellie had unwittingly set into motion.

Ellie dismisses Max’s fears and the next day, when he has gone to work, Ellie accepts another press interview. She sends Joshie out into the yard to play so that she can speak to the journalist in peace and this is when Joshie disappears and Detective India Hargreaves steps in to lead the investigation into what turns out to be Joshie’s kidnapping.

As we follow the investigation we see that Ellie’s actions drive a wedge between her and Max and they become more distant as they blame each other for Joshie’s disappearance. While Ellie’s desire for fame causes her to come under suspicion, the media turn against her and it’s interesting to read how the media behave in such situations and the influence they have on public opinion.

There were lots of different intriguing characters here and I admired The Detective as a strong female lead in this story, she is committed to her career and doesn’t let her emotions or personal life interfere with her job. At times I thought that the writing was so clean and to the point that it was missing some emotion. I thought Ellie’s reaction to the disappearance of her son was underplayed and although she was a strange character, it didn’t seem quite right to me, but it absolutely didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.

This is a cleverly plotted and well written novel and I thoroughly enjoyed following Detective Hargreaves and her team through the Australian outback, as they tried to piece together exactly what happened to Joshie. The story has a great pace to it and it took me no time to finish as I couldn’t put it down and it comes highly recommended from me.

About the author …

L.E. Luttrell was born in Sydney, Australia and spent the first 21 years of her life there before moving to the UK. After working in publishing for a few years she trained as a teacher and from the 90s spent many years working in secondary education, although she’s had numerous other part time jobs.  A frustrated architect, L.E. Luttrell has spent much of her adult life moving house and renovating properties. Although she has written many more ‘books’, Small Sacrifices, is only the third of her books to be published. More will follow. 

She currently lives in Liverpool, Merseyside – although if it hadn’t been for Covid 19 she would have been with family in Brisbane, Queensland. 

Social Media:

https://www.facebook.com/LE-Luttrell-Author-105681414468102

Twitter: @lluttrellauthor

Follow the tour …

Thanks for reading

❤️

Food for Thought by Sara Madderson #BookReview

Today it’s my turn on the Random Things Tours blog tour for Sara Madderson’s brilliant debut novel Food for Thought. I’d like to thank Sara very much for my gifted (and signed!) copy – just look at that gorgeous pink cover! 🍓

The blurb …

“The Daily Post has got hold of some pap shots of me. They’re fairly… damning.”

What do you do when the person you love threatens everything you’ve worked for?

Evelyn Macleod has spent a decade helping her husband, charismatic TV chef Seb Macleod, to become a household name. Now they’re riding high and enjoying the spoils of their success. When a tabloid forces Seb to come out as gay, Evelyn and her young son flee to a friend’s luxury resort in rural Kent. Sorrel Farm is the perfect place to hide out, decompress from her disciplined London lifestyle, and comfort-eat. The enforced break also throws into question everything that Evelyn has worked so hard for. Should she continue to chase the glittering heights of wealth and power in London? Or should she choose balance—and the chance to find love—in the beautiful English countryside?

Purchase link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Food-Thought-Husband-Going-Carbs/dp/1916353037/

My review …

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was a fabulous escape into a world of glamorous lifestyles, gorgeous food and a rural retreat – what’s not to love?

Successful businesswoman Evelyn seems to have the perfect life. She is rich and beautiful. She lives in a stunning house in Holland Park, is married to handsome celebrity chef Seb Mcleod and is the mother to a darling eight-year-old son, Eddie. They are described as The Beckhams of the Food World. That is until a national newspaper threatens to out Seb as gay and throws a spanner in the works of her perfectly controlled life. Evelyn is devastated by these revelations, made worse by the fact that the whole world comes out in sympathy for Seb, while she is left forgotten. So she escapes to her best friend’s luxury resort, Sorrell Farm, to give her some precious time to think away from the paps.

‘Her husband is gay,

she’s going to need carbs’

Evelyn and Eddie adjust to a different pace of life on the farm. She learns to relax and enjoy spending quality time with Eddie and her friends. She falls in love with her surroundings and indulges in lots of previously forbidden wine and cake and she also catches the eye of handsome farmer Angus. However, she misses the bright lights of the big city and so Evelyn has some big decisions to make.

Evelyn’s best friend Jess runs the farm with her wife Zoe. I absolutely loved these characters, Jess is hysterical and a brilliant friend to Evelyn, the dialogue between these two is fantastic. Zoe’s passion for organic farming and cooking is a major theme in this story. The descriptions of the food and wine are exquisite and will have your mouth watering and tummy rumbling all the way through. Equally the descriptions of the farm and lifestyle at the resort are beautiful and envy inducing. I also really enjoyed a glimpse into the world of business, marketing and PR. A lot of the book is based around women in business and I loved these strong and successful female characters.

I was entertained from start to finish by the world of celebrity in this book but what I loved most was the warm, witty and intelligent writing and the ending which left me smiling from ear to ear.

Now I can’t wait to read Sara’s second book – Parents and Teachers 🥂

About the author …

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sara Madderson is an author, entrepreneur, wife and mother. She was born in Ireland and moved to the UK with her family when she was ten years old. She lives in London with her husband Chris, their two children, Paddy and Tilly, and their cocker spaniel Charlie.

Before turning to writing, Sara worked in finance for a decade and then ran her own fashion brand, Madderson London, for eight years. She earned her MPhil in Early Modern History from the University of Birmingham.

Metamorphosis is Sara’s first book. Given that she spent most of her childhood writing and designing clothes, she’s now seen both of her childhood career dreams come true! She’s enjoyed the adventure of publishing independently as much as she’s enjoyed the writing process itself. She’s now completely hooked on writing!

Follow Sara:

Twitter: @saramadderson

Insta: @saramaddersonauthor 

Follow the Blog Tour …

For more reviews of this fantastic book check out the other bloggers on this tour

Thanks for reading!

🍓

The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley #BookReview

Hello and welcome to my blog where today I have the pleasure in sharing my review of The Life We Almost Had as part of the Random Things Tours blog tour. Thank you so much to the author and Random Things Tours for my space on the tour and also for my gifted copy of the book.

The blurb …

This is not a typical love story, but it’s our love story.

Anna wasn’t looking for love when Adam swept her off her feet but there was no denying their connection, and she believed they would be together forever.

Years later, cracks have appeared in their relationship. Anna is questioning whether their love can really be eternal when a cruel twist of fate delivers a crushing blow, and Anna and Adam are completely lost to one another. Now, Anna needs Adam more than ever, but the way back to him has life-changing consequences.

Is a second chance at first love really worth the sacrifice? Anna needs to decide and time is running out …

My review …

It’s been a while since I read a good tear-jerker and I was not prepared for the romantic and emotional journey that this book took me on!

Two weeks before Anna’s wedding, she finds out that her cheating fiancé has been having an affair and she dumps him. Devastated, she instead goes on her honeymoon to Alircia in Spain with her best friend Nell to recover. Here they meet Adam and his friend Josh. Adam, who has also recently had his heart broken, sees Anna and falls in love at first sight and although Anna isn’t looking for a new relationship, she can’t help falling right back. They spend a blissful two weeks in Spain before realising that this is not just a holiday romance.

But further down the line, when the passion has faded and the mundanities and harsh realities of life have kicked in, Anna and Adam’s relationship is suffering through lack of communication and feelings of guilt and resentment. But just as Anna is wondering whether she loves Adam enough to work on their problems, disaster strikes.

‘If you love someone set them free’

I loved Anna and Adam’s characters, they were so well drawn and I felt really connected to them. Adam was thoughtful, brave and romantic and I just felt so sorry for Anna. I could feel the sadness surrounding her for most of the book and I was willing her to be more honest and open with everyone. The two best friends Nell and Josh turn out to be fantastic supporting characters – everyone needs a friend like Nell and Josh delivers the humour in this sad story.

I was hooked from the first chapter, the writing is fantastic because there is a sense of foreboding right from the start as well as teasers of what is to come, with so many surprises in the plot that I was completely gripped. I don’t want to give anything away but suffice to say that grief, guilt and communication are major themes running throughout this book and affect most of the relationships within it, be it parental, friendships or marriages, in one way or another.

This is a heart wrenching but ultimately uplifting story and I spent my time reading in various stages of emotion; gasping in horror, covered in goosebumps or with tears rolling down my cheeks. Be warned – you will need tissues!

About the author …

Amelia Henley is a hopeless romantic who has a penchant for exploring the intricacies of relationships through writing heartbreaking, high-concept love stories.

Amelia also writes psychological thrillers under her real name, Louise Jenson. As Louise Jenson she has sold over a million copies of her global number one bestsellers. Her stories have been translated into twenty-five languages and optioned for TV as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestsellers list. Louise’s books have been nominated for multiple awards.

The Life We Almost Had is the first story she’s written as Amelia Henley and she can’t wait to share it with readers.

Follow the tour …

For more reviews take a look at these fantastic bloggers

Obviously this is an emotional book and if you require the trigger warnings then feel free to contact me.

Thanks for reading!

💗