Friday, 20 October 2017

How Not to be a Bride by Portia MacIntosh
Published: 17th October 2017
Publisher: HQ Digital
Available on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Definitely, maybe…yes?
Mia Valentina gave up her high-flying life in LA to move back to Kent over four years ago. But it turns out that life in the slow lane isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!
So when her boyfriend Leo proposes, she says yes, hoping it will bring some much needed sparkle back into her life. The trouble is, Mia never wanted a big white wedding, just the happy ever after…

Chapter One
I don’t know what hits me first: the smell of meatballs or the fist of an impatient child who, having clearly spent too much time in Ikea, is flailing around like a maniac in the hope his embarrassed parents will get a move on and take him to Toys R Us. I wonder, only for a second, whether adopting a similar tactic might work on my boyfriend, except I’ve probably done much worse to embarrass him in the past.
Trips to Ikea are a regular event for us since we bought our house – partly because we just spent most of our money buying a house and this is now our number-one social activity, but mostly because said house is what you’d euphemistically call a ‘fixer upper’. What I call it is a building site, but it was cheap, and my boyfriend, Leo, loves doing DIY, so it’s perfect for him. To be perfectly honest, I’d go as far as to say he loves Ikea too. Why else would we be here, dashing in through the exit door (something that is highly frowned upon, but is undoubtedly the most efficient way to work the place), the day before we’re set to go on holiday? Like, I don’t know what it is, but something about flat pack furniture just makes him come alive – get yourself a man who looks at you the way my boyfriend looks at the instructions for an Ikea coffee table.
‘OK, let’s split up to save some time,’ Leo suggests. I pull a face, because even I know you never leave a man behind in Ikea, especially when you’re going against the tide. Ikea is a signal dead zone so, if we separate, it will be hard to find each other. ‘I’ll get most of the things we need, all you need to do is grab a trolley and get a white SÄVEDAL door, 60x40.’
I feel my face contort with pure confusion.
‘SÄVEDAL,’ he repeats himself. ‘Make a note in your phone.’
‘Leo, I’m not an idiot. That… word you just said… 40x60.’
60x40, Mia,’ he corrects me. ‘Just grab one of the little pencils and write it down.’
‘Yeah, fine, go, go,’ I babble.
I watch Leo disappear into the crowd before turning my attention to the task at hand. I need a seve… seve… dal? I’ll just use one of the little computers dotted around to tell me where they are.
As I walk past the showrooms, I feel like I’m walking down the street, peeping in people’s living-room windows. Couples are sitting on the sofas, chatting like they would in the comfort of their own homes, as they deliberate which lamp to buy. There’s even a couple arguing in one of the dummy rooms, who both shoot me a filthy look for looking inside – the very thing the fake room is here for. In one of the dummy kitchens there’s a kid sitting under a worktop, visibly contemplating whether or not to take a bite out of a plastic apple, like a less bright Sir Isaac Newton. He decides it’s a good idea and raises it to his mouth, but his dad stops him just in time, scooping him up and planting him on his shoulders, six feet in the air where he can’t get in too much trouble.
I patiently wait my turn to use the computer, because Ikea is expert-level busy today. I mean, it’s always busy, but today it is bank holiday busy, and everyone and their spouse and 2.5 kids are here to get their hands on furniture and pieces of Daim cake. The only problem is, by the time my turn comes around, I’ve completely forgotten what I’m looking for. I type S E V, hoping it will suggest something. He said it was a door, right? And we’re shopping for things to build the kitchen. There’s no way he’d send me for an actual door, so it must be for a cupboard or something.
I glance behind me, only to see the queue growing longer, and increasingly more impatient. I try again, typing S A V, but I’m still not getting any hits. Defeated, I give up and try to find a yellow-and-blue-striped employee to help me out.
‘Excuse me,’ I say to a man sitting at a computer. ‘I wonder if you can help me? I’m after a door, for a kitchen, I think.’
‘Sure, what’s the product name?’ he replies helpfully.
‘Sev… sav… something, I don’t know, sorry,’ I reply apologetically.
A few punches of the keyboard and a quick look through their products and the employee knows exactly what I’m after.
‘Yes,’ I reply, a little too excitedly. ‘I need a white one, please.’
‘What size?’ he asks.
Shit. Leo was right, I should have written this down.
‘Erm… So, I think it’s 60x40 or 40x60. So, whichever one of those is a real size.’
‘We actually do both of those sizes, miss,’ the employee points out.
Double shit.
Come on, Mia. You’ve got this. Just think about what numbers he said – he even said them twice.
‘40x60?’ I tell him, although it sounds more like a question than an answer.
‘Are you sure?’ he laughs.
‘Positive,’ I reply.
With an unconvinced laugh, he tells me where to find what I need and, as I walk there, I can’t help but think about how much my life has changed since I moved back to the UK. If you’d told me four years ago, when I was living in the Hollywood Hills, hanging out with movie stars, and playing the dating game to the best of my ability, that I’d be living in Canterbury, in a house that needs a lot of work, spending my days procrastinating and my nights watching Netflix, I would have laughed in your face – and probably threatened to do something drastic to save myself from such a life. Don’t get me wrong. I love Leo so much, and I’m so lucky to have him, but my life has changed so much and I’m really starting to feel it. My day-to-day life has changed, my hobbies have changed – even my looks have changed, which I can’t help but notice, standing here in front of this full-length ISFJORDEN mirror. Gone are the days I’d spend hours at the gym, eating clean and tanning regularly to maintain my toned, LA body, and since I stopped dropping triple digits on my long, blonde locks at a swanky salon, instead going to a cheaper, local place, I’ve had what’s known in the trade as a chemical cut, which basically means they’ve been using such strong peroxide on my hair that it has broken off, leaving me with much shorter locks. As superficial as it sounds, I took such confidence from these things, and now I feel kind of unremarkable by comparison. I don’t look bad, I just don’t look like me.
Finally through the checkout, I spy Leo standing over by the door, finishing up a hotdog. It took me all this time to find one item and here he is, his trolley piled high with things, finishing up his dinner. This is further proof that he’s some kind of Ikea wizard. He just seems to know how to manipulate the place, to bend it to his will, whether he’s modifying furniture or taking the little shortcuts he knows to get from sofas to plates in a matter of minutes.
‘There you are,’ he says as I approach him. ‘I was just about to come looking for you – I half expected to find you curled up in a bed somewhere.’
‘What would you have done then?’ I ask, adopting a more flirtatious tone.
‘Probably napped with you,’ he replies. ‘Maybe.’
I see that little glimmer in his eye that I love so much.
I laugh to myself. Sex in an Ikea bed, in Ikea, is probably Leo’s number-one fantasy. It would probably make his day to find me in one of the fake bedrooms, whispering sweet Swedish nothings into his ear before some post-coital meatballs.
‘OK, we need to go if you’re going to get to Boots before they close,’ Leo says with a clap of his hands.
I absolutely need to get to Boots before they close. It might feel like it’s been a really long time since we had sex, but there’s no time for flirting if I’m going to get the things I need for my trip tomorrow. Plus, we’re not going to have sex in Ikea, are we? Our naughty days are a thing of the past. Well, when you’ve been together for four years you don’t really do wild any more, do you?
‘Here, I got you one,’ Leo says, handing me a hotdog.
‘I’m OK, thanks,’ I reply. ‘I need to watch what I eat.’
‘No, you don’t. You’re as sexy as the day I met you,’ he insists sincerely.
I smile.
‘I’m not really hungry,’ I reply, giving his arm a squeeze.
Leo shrugs his shoulders before eating it himself.
I know it’s easy to put on a little weight when you’re comfortable in a relationship, but my super-sexy boyfriend is just as hot as the day we first met. I suppose being a fireman helps with that. He has to keep fit, and the uniform still lights a fire in my downstairs. I, on the other hand, work from home, so I’m not as active as I used to be. I’m a healthy-ish weight; I’m just nowhere near as toned as I used to be.
Finally at our car, Leo begins loading things into the boot as I plonk myself down in the passenger seat, exhaling deeply, relieved to have survived another trip to Ikea.
‘Erm, Mia,’ Leo calls from behind me.
‘You’ve got the wrong size,’ he tells me.
I massage my temples.
‘Can’t you make it work?’
‘I mean, it would be better to just have the right one. Shall I run back in?’
‘Leo, I need to get to Boots,’ I tell him.
‘I know, I know,’ he calls back. ‘I just really wanted to do some work on the kitchen today. Aren’t you sick of eating microwave food and takeaways?’
‘Well, yeah, but we’re going away tomorrow,’ I reply.
‘To Cornwall,’ he reminds me. ‘Where they have plenty of Boots… I’ll make sure we stop at one on the way to the beach house and you can even give me a list of what you want and I’ll get it… and I’ll buy you some Daim chocolate.’
‘OK, fine, go,’ I tell him. ‘I’ll stay here.’
Leo gives me a kiss on the cheek before dashing off back inside, leaving me sitting in the car. I know he just wants to get the house finished so that we can get on with living a happy life in it. I guess I’m just impatient and growing tired of the constant DIY.
Perhaps the kid with the helicopter arms was on to something. That’s why he’s probably in Toys R Us right now getting whatever toy he wants, and I’m still stuck here, in Ikea purgatory, waiting for a kitchen door.

How Not to be a Bride is the latest novel by Portia MacIntosh and is the third which I have read and loved. The main character is Mia Valentina who first appeared in one of Portia’s previous books Bad Bridesmaid. I’ve haven’t read Bad Bridesmaid so don’t feel it’s necessary to read to fully enjoy How Not to be a Bride, which I did immensely. 
Portia has a real talent for creating relatable female characters who are struggling with everyday issues and Mia has quite a lot going on in her life juggling her career, decorating her new house and trying to build on the relationships within her family. So when on a family holiday Leo proposes Mia is totally thrown. She loves Leo with all her heart and knows he’s the one for her, but after her experiences at her sister’s wedding Mia’s not sure she wants the big white wedding, but she still stays yes.
As doubts kick in Mia tries anything to avoid planning her wedding which including drunken nights out with students, hanging out with rock stars and having cake fights with the wedding planner. How can Mia find a way to tell Leo that she loves him and wants to be with him she’s just not sure she wants to marry him.
Mia might not be the conscious person regarding other people’s feelings and may spend too much time worrying about what clothes to wear but it’s obvious that Leo is the love of her life and she would do anything to make him happy.  I loved her for this as some of their moments together were just down right adorable.
This is a hilarious novel full of Portia’s brilliant one-liners which will have you laughing from the first to the last page as you join Mia in her often mis-judged situations.  It’s a novel full of fun, flirting and family relationships and just a few awkward moments as Mia struggles with her feelings. It’s the perfect book to snuggle up with when you need a pick me up as it’s guaranteed to make you smile.
Thank you so much to Portia MacIntosh, the publishers and Netgalley for this copy to review and thank you to LLR Promotions for inviting me to be part of the blog-tour.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Blog Tour Review: Three Weddings and a Scandel by Wendy Holden

Three Weddings and a Scandal by Wendy Holden
Published: 7th September 2017
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 382
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

She'll need a triple-barrelled name for the castle one.
She'll need a gallon of glitter for the woodland one.
She'll need a lobster-shaped hat for the Shoreditch one.

Laura Lake longs to be a journalist. Instead she's an unpaid intern at a glossy magazine – sleeping in the fashion cupboard and living on canapés. But she's just got her first big break: infiltrate three society weddings and write a juicy exposé.
Security will be tighter than a bodycon dress, but how hard can it be? Cue disappearing brides, demanding socialites – and a jealous office enemy who will do anything to bring her down...


I’ve been a huge fan of Wendy Holden’s writing for many years I love her comical writing style and her books have never failed to cheer me up, I’m yet to pick one up that I haven’t laughed all the way though. In her latest novel Three Weddings and a Scandal we are introduced to Laura Lake the unlikely heroine of Ms. Holden’s new series.

Laura Lake longs to be a journalist just like her dead father, instead she spends her days and nights running around after clients for the Passion for Paris letting agency. For extra money Laura is currently spending her days sat in a pile of rubbish as part of an art installation for up and coming artist Amy Bender. One night Laura meets glossy magazine editor Carinthia Gold, who just happens to offer Laura an internship at her magazine Society. The internship is in London and Laura is reluctant to leave her aging grandmother Mimi alone in Paris but persuaded by wannabe actor and fellow rubbish sitter Casper, Laura heads to London.

London is where Laura’s life is turned upside down, after a string of misfortunate events Laura is left with no money, no phone and nowhere to stay. To make things even worse Laura’s old school enemy Clemency Makepeace just happens to be the Features Editor of Society magazine, leaving Laura in a very awkward position, even more so because she’s started using the fashion cupboard as a place to sleep.

In order to secure a job Laura has to go undercover and write an exposé on the state of society weddings. Laura enters the world of celebrity weddings and endures a missing bride, a celebrity brawl, a royal kiss and a ceremony held in the most bizarre location you could imagine. Can she avoid the disasters all around her and write the story to bag herself a proper job.

This is a fast-paced read with a plotline which at times borders on the surreal. I’d advise don’t take it too seriously and just enjoy the journey like Laura seems to do. Among the madcap celebrities, flaky fashion designers and sneaky work colleagues, Laura is a character who seems to remain relatively sane. She is resilient, resourceful and never seems to be phased by the people around her, determined only to write her story.  I loved how she would call on grandmother Mimi’s pearls of Parisienne  wisdom when in need of inspiration, my particular favourite being “be wary of labels……You are not a billboard. Letters are for the optician’s chart”.

Alongside the characters with quirky names, Irina Pushamoff, Spartacus Tripp and Hudson Grater to name a few, there is a more serious element in the mystery of what happened to Laura’s reporter father Paul Lake. This mystery is not resolved in this book, hopefully we’ll learn more in the next book which I’m really looking forward to reading.

Three Weddings and a Scandal is a book I have thoroughly enjoyed and it has reminded me how I enjoy escaping into her novels. If you are a fan of her unique writing voice then this latest book will not disappoint.

Thank you so much to Head of Zeus for the copy to review and for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I look forward to reading more about Laura lake in the future.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Blog Tour Review: Death in the Stars by Frances Brody

Death in the Stars by Frances Brody
Published: 5th October 2017
Publisher: Piatkus
Pages: 385
Available in Hardback, Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Yorkshire, 1927. Eclipse fever grips the nation, and when beloved theatre star Selina Fellini approaches trusted sleuth Kate Shackleton to accompany her to a viewing party at Giggleswick School Chapel, Kate suspects an ulterior motive.
During the eclipse, Selina's friend and co-star Billy Moffatt disappears and is later found dead in the chapel grounds. Kate can't help but dig deeper and soon learns that two other members of the theatre troupe died in similarly mysterious circumstances in the past year. With the help of Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden, Kate sets about investigating the deaths - and whether there is a murderer in the company.
When Selina's elusive husband Jarrod, injured in the war and subject to violent mood swings, comes back on the scene, Kate begins to imagine something far deadlier at play, and wonders just who will be next to pay the ultimate price for fame . . .


Fans of the Kate Shackleton mysteries by Frances Brody will be pleased she is back for her ninth investigation in Death in the Stars. In this novel Kate has been enlisted to accompany theatre star Selina Fellini to view the upcoming eclipse at Giggleswick School Chapel. Selina is worried as two members of her theatre group have met unfortunate endings in the last eighteen months and she fears she might be next, but sadly it is her long-term friend and co-star Billy Moffatt who is found dead in the Chapel grounds. Kate calls on the help of good friends Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden to help her uncover the truths behind Billy’s death and the so called accidents at the theatre.

In Death in the Stars the event of the eclipse and the following day take up the first half of the book where we learn more about Selina Fellini and the company she keeps. Selina seems to lead a very glamourous life and always seems to have someone to accompany her to various events, which sadly for Billy Moffatt doesn’t end well. She also has her life kept in order by manger Trotter Brockett and personal assistant Beryl Cooper and estranged husband Jarrod never seems to be far away.

I loved the glimpses we are given to theatre life in the 1920s and all the different variety acts which were so popular at the time. I would love to have seen Jake and his miniature pony perform. I also loved the edition of Harriet, Kate’s niece who brings youthful excitement to the team as she is willing to help investigate too.

I love that these novel are very gentle and more mysteries than crime novels, no gory scenes here. I love the though precise way in which Kate carries out her investigations and find many similarities to the famous “Miss Marple ” by Agatha Christie. With many characters falling under the suspicions of Kate and her team there are many twists and turns before the murder is finally revealed, this made for a very enjoyable read.

Kate and her team are characters which are growing on me and I’m looking forward to see where their next investigation takes them. Thank you so much to Piatkus for this review copy and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour

Monday, 18 September 2017

Blog Tour: The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club by Chrissie Manby, Q & A and Review

The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club by Chrissie Manby
Published: 21st September 2017
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Pages: 384
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating 5/5

Today I am super excited to be welcoming one of my favourite authors to the blog Chrissie Manby. Thank you so much Chrissie for taking the time to answer some of my questions about her writing and in particular her latest novel The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club.  So please enjoy this first stop on the blog tour for The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club and make sure you follow along with the other stops all week. 

Q & A with Chrissie Manby

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to become a writer?

What inspired me to become a writer?  Failing at becoming anything else!  Growing up in Gloucester, what I wanted to be was a fashion designer.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get much support for that career plan so I went off to Oxford to study Experimental Psychology instead, with a view to becoming a clinical psychologist.  I dropped off that career pathway when I got a 2:2, which meant I couldn’t get onto a graduate training course.  In a moment of desperation, I moved to London and became a temp.  I got a temp job at an audio book company, which is where I met science fiction writer David Garnett.  He dared me to write a novel (I’d already written and published several short stories). I took the dare up.  He passed my manuscript to his editor. She liked it.  And the rest is history!
The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club is your seventeenth ( I think) book, is it difficult to keep coming up with new ideas for books after so many?
It’s actually my twenty-second book as Chris / Chrissie Manby and my thirty-sixth book overall (I think!).  I also write as Stephanie Ash, Stella Knightley and Olivia Darling.  Coming up with ideas isn’t a problem for me (obviously).  Seeing them through to the end sometimes is. I am always suspicious of people who can’t come up with at least ten book ideas in a day.  It suggests to me that they’re really not engaged with the world around them.  Ideas are everywhere and if you’re going to be a novelist, you better learn how to spot them.
Can you sum up The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club in one sentence?

Three strangers, hopeless both in and out of the kitchen, find friendship and happiness through a beginners’ cookery class.
What was your inspiration for writing The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club?

Well, not cooking.  I’m a totally terrible cook and have very little interest in becoming a better one.  I was inspired more by all those smug healthy eating blogs in which twenty-two year olds bang on about their ‘journeys’ and call a slice of apple with a blob of peanut butter on it a ‘recipe’. They make me howl.  At twenty-two, you could live off chips and Tizer and still look like a goddess.  They should all sod off and come back when they’ve hit the perimenopause, then tell us about the healing powers of kale.
Liz, John and Bella are very different characters, which was your favourite and why?

Liz is my favourite because she gets all the laughs.  I love writing mad-cap funny characters.
How did you want readers to feel after reading The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club?

Inspired to post a five star review on Amazon? J

What can we expect to see from you next?

More Newbay (my made-up Devon town), more laughter, more cooking (totally made up. Do not try any of my recipes at home).
Who are some of your favourite authors?

I will read anything by Lucy Dillon, Juliet Ashton, Michele Gorman, Fiona Walker, Rebecca Chance and Alexandra Potter.  Also Anne Tyler, Carl Hiaasen and Michelle Lovric. Oh, and Alex Marwood writes amazing thrillers.
Which three books have you enjoyed reading the most so far this year?

Juliet Ashton’s The Woman at Number 24 was smashing.  We read it at my book club.  Everybody adored it! I’ve also enjoyed rereading Michelle Lovric’s Carnevale, which is set in the Venice of Casanova and Byron. It’s a huge book but every page just sings.  And last week I devoured The Other Woman by Laura Wilson, which is the cleverest, funniest thriller I’ve read in years.
How do you intend to celebrate publication day?

By working. Unless someone buys me a bottle of champagne. Hint hint!
Describe your writing process?
What a terrible question. Worse than ‘how long is a piece of string’.  It’s impossible to describe my writing process except to say that I plot really carefully, I work out how long I’ve got until my deadline, then I set myself a word count and stick to it.
What advice would you give to anyone wishing to pursue a writing career?

Write. Too many would-be writers spend more time worrying about how to get an agent than actually finishing their first book.  Having a whole manuscript ready to go puts you at a huge head start when it comes to getting an agent anyway.
Quick fire questions:

Tea of Coffee? Tea.
Sweet or Savoury? Both.
Cosy fires or summer sun? Both.
High heel or flats? Flat. Though I wish I could wear heels.
Drive or be driven? Drive. Definitely. Hate being a passenger.

In the quaint seaside town of Newbay, a beginner's cookery course is starting. And three very different students have signed up...
Liz's husband has left her for a twenty-something clean-eating blogger, and she's determined to show the world - and her daughter - she's just as capable in the kitchen. John, newly widowed after fifty years of marriage, can't live on sympathy lasagnes forever. To thirty-year-old workaholic Bella, the course is a welcome escape from her high-pressure job. Their only common ground: between them, they can barely boil an egg!
Enter talented chef Alex, who is determined to introduce his pupils to the comforts of cuisine. As Liz, John and Bella encounter various disasters in the kitchen, the unlikely trio soon form a fast friendship. Their culinary skills might be catastrophic - but could the cookery club have given them a recipe for happiness?

The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club is the latest novel by Chrissie Manby and features four people brought together at a cookery course run by chef Alex. Liz has joined the course after daughter Saskia has started has started taking more interest in the food cooked by Brittany, her husband’s new girlfriend who is a health food blogger rather than the luxury ready meals Liz dishes up. Bella has joined up to reignite her passion for cooking which has been lost since her father died and John has joined as he’s getting sick of not being able to fend for himself after his beloved wife Sonia has died. Throughout the six week course the three become friends along with Alex and all begin to deal with problems they’ve been hiding from.

The characters in this book are a little stereotypical but I think the way Chrissie Manby has added comedy to this novel makes the characters work perfectly together. Liz is your typical working mum in her late forties who’s having trouble with her philandering husband Ian and difficult teenager Saskia. Saskia seems to have started idolising Ian’s new girlfriend Brittany, deciding to be a vegetarian and turning her nose up at everything processed that Liz tries to feed her. Poor Liz, despite trying her best for her family she never seems to get it right and more than one cooking experience ends in disaster. My favourite moment involving Liz was the processed meat incident which had me in hysterics and still makes me smile when I think of it, I would so love to have been a guest in the hotel watching the whole scene. I also loved the inclusion of the Waggy Weight Loss club for Liz’s poor dog Ted, the rivalry at the meetings reminded me so much of weight loss groups I’ve attended for myself, brilliant fun to read about.

Liz was by far my favourite character in the book, both Bella and John seem to have more serious less chaotic lives. Bella has joined the cookery club to regain the passion she once had for food and despite numerous interruptions from her work as a duty solicitor, her love for food isn’t the only thing that gets reignited. It’s not long before Bella has decided to make some big changes in her life.  Even John has a little secret which he’s been keeping which added a little mystery to the book.

I loved everything about this book, it has a little romance, a little mystery, and great insights into family dynamics but most of all its hilarious. It’s Chrissie Manby at her absolute best and is the funniest book I’ve read all year. Thank you so much to Hodder and Netgalley for sending me a copy to review and inviting me to be part of the blog tour for The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club. Thank you also to Chrissie Manby for taking time to answer my questions, I can’t wait to read your next book.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Blog Tour Review : The Lost Sisters by Lindsey Hutchinson

The Lost Girls by Lindsey Hutchinson
Published: 1st September 2017
Publisher: Aria
Pages: 442
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Orpha Buchanan and Peg Meriweather had a very different start in life. Orpha surrounded by wealth and riches, Peg dumped on a doorstep as a baby with nothing to her name but a scruffy blanket and tatty clothes. But one thing they had in common from their very first day, was a mother who despised them and wished them gone.
Hortense Buchanan wasn't made to be a mother. Bullied herself when she was a child, she continues the tradition with her own children, loving money and finery more than her own flesh and blood. When her daughter Orpha runs away from home, Hortense celebrates, never once worrying for her safety.
Circumstances bring Orpha and Peg together, and before long they're as close as family, making their way in the hustle and bustle of a booming Birmingham and the smoke-filled Black Country. But before long, Hortense realises that her daughter stands in the way of the one thing she really cares about, and the bitter legacy of the Buchanans looks set to destroy them all...

The Lost Girls by Lindsey Hutchinson is just the type of family saga that I love to read, it was one where after just a few pages I was completely immersed in the story of the Buchanan’s.

Hortense Buchanan was not a woman cut out to be a mother, bullied by her own mother she has no love for her first born daughter. She takes the poor baby and leaves her on a doorstep in a neighbouring town, then claimed that gypsies took the little girl. When she is blessed with a second child Hortense is no different and makes poor Orpha’s life a misery. Until one day when Hortense so jealous of her own daughter throws her out and says she’ll kill her if she returns.

For many girls of fourteen this would have been a disaster and they probably would of ended up in the workhouse or worse but for Orpha it’s a relief to be away from her dreadful mother. Luck shines on the young girl and she finds herself taken in by some kind people who give her a roof over her head, money in her pocket and a taste for the delights of chocolate making.

Eventually Orpha decides that she must try to be reunited with her father who she misses very much, but this time fate decides to throw Peg Merriweather in her path. Peg is a little older than Orpha but the resemblance between them is unmistakable, both sharing sparkling emerald eyes. Having found her long lost sister, Orpha finds a home at last but it’s not long before thoughts turn to her father once more. Again Orpha sets off to reunite her family but this time she unravels more drama and secrets surrounding the Buchanan family.

I loved this book, I’ve read quite a few family saga books this year and this one is my favourite so far. I just loved the way that just when you think everything has all settled down for the characters another twist occurs and there’s more drama. I loved all the drama, even the bits which are a little far-fetched were thoroughly enjoyable. Despite being a long book I never felt the story dragged as so much was going on with the many characters.

This book has to have one of the worst mothers ever written about, Hortense Buchanan is a disgrace! Never have I known someone stoop so low just to get some money, she was a truly horrible character with little or no remorse for her actions. Saying that I thought she was very well written and a great character to have in the book. I like Orpha and Peg but Hortense was the one I enjoyed reading about the most.

The Lost Sisters is a book about revenge, families, murder, redemption, secrets and lies and even a little romance. It has a darker tone than many family saga books and there is a lot of violence so it may not appeal to all readers. For me it was a winner and not just because of the chocolate.

Thank you so much to Aria and Netgalley for the review copy and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour. I’m looking forward to reading more books from Lindsey in the future.

About the Author

Lindsey lives in Shropshire with her husband. She has a son and a daughter and three beautiful grandchildren. She is the daughter of million-copy bestselling author Meg Hutchinson.
Follow Lindsey
Twitter: @LHutchAuthor
Facebook: Lindsey Hutchinson

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Blog Tour Review: One Day in December by Shari Low

One Day in December by Shari Low
Published: 1st September 2017
Publisher: Aria
Pages: 296
Available on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

One morning in December...

Caro set off on a quest to find out if her relationship with her father had been based on a lifetime of lies.

Lila decided today would be the day that she told her lover's wife of their secret affair.

Cammy was on the way to pick up the ring for the surprise proposal to the woman he loved.

And Bernadette vowed that this was the day she would walk away from her controlling husband of 30 years and never look back.

One day, four lives on a collision course with destiny...


One Day in December is the latest book by Shari Low who is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. In this book we follow the lives of four very different people as they set out to make today the day that changed their lives.

Caro is on her way to Glasgow to find out if she has a half-sister. After looking through Facebook she found a picture of her dad with another girl who looked like his daughter. Her father walked out on her and her mother a few years early and hasn’t been heard of since, with her mother dying it’s time for Caro to get some answers.

Lyla’s has enough of being a mistress and after seven years she doesn’t want to share no more. She wants the glory of being the trophy wife so sets out to tell her lovers wife about his cheating ways so she can keep him for herself.

Bernadette has decided today is the day she leaves husband Ken and their loveless and controlling marriage and starts a life of her own. With best-friend Sarah she sets out to put her carefully laid out plans into action.

Cam is nervous. After many hints from his girlfriend about marriage he’s finally decided that today is the day he will propose. Dragging friends Josie and Val along to help finalise all his plans can Cam make this a proposal to remember.

By midnight all of these four lives will have changed as they become tangled together. Will any of them get their happy ever after?

I loved this book so much, Shari Low is an excellent storyteller and this just unravelled at such a pace make very addictive reading. One thing that makes this book work so well is the day is split into two hour sections for each of our four main characters. This built up the suspense as we find out what their plans are and how they all become connected at the end. The drama builds right from early morning and for some their day goes according to plan. For others problems arise giving them obstacles to overcome, which lead to some comical moments as frustrations rise.

Shari Low has created some great characters in this book but my favourite had to be Lyla. She’s the sort of girl you just love to hate because she behaves like the rules don’t apply to her just because she is rich and beautiful. I loved her interactions with other characters and her endless need to take selfies for her Instagram account.  

I also loved the reappearance of Val and Josie from Shari’s previous book A Life Without You, it was lovely to see these two characters in a happier setting showing just how fun loving and sneaky they really can be.

I loved everything about this book it has great characters with each main character having their own great plotline which all come together to form an explosive and hilarious finale. Shari has brought drama to small everyday situations making this book a joy to read from start to finish. It’s been one of my favourite reads of the year so far and cemented Shari’s place in my list of must read authors. I’m lucky that Shari has quite a back catalogue to enjoy while I wait for her to write her next stunning success.

Thank you so much to Aria and Netgalley for sending me a copy to review and to the publishers for inviting me on the blog tour.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

A Life Without You by Shari Low

A Life Without You: An emotional page-turner to make you laugh and cry

A Life Without You by Shari Low
Published: 1st April 2017
Publisher: Aria
Pages: 378
Available on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

30-year-old Dee Harper and her husband, Joe, are blissfully happy. Everyday she makes her loyal parents Val & Don incredibly proud.
has been her best friend and 'adopted sister' since their days of teenage crushes, bad 90's make-up and huge hair.

They are just like any other group of family and friends, living life, getting by with equal measures of love and laughter.

Until one day everything changes.
is gone, killed by a reckless driver, leaving the people she loved to deal with their grief in different ways.
A marriage is rocked as a parent becomes consumed with seeking justice. A husband struggles to accept the loss of his wife and their future. And a friend discovers that there were shocking secrets that went unshared.
But all of them have to learn that the only way forward is to let go of the past.

A Life Without You is the first book I’ve read by Shari Low and despite its sad start it was a book I adored. Jen and Dee have known each other for ever and are more like sisters than best friends, especially after Jen moved in with Dee and her family in her teenage years. So imagine her devastation when Jen suddenly finds herself without Dee by her side. One minute Dee was alive and bouncing around the street, the next she’s gone a joy-rider hits her head on and kills her instantly. After Dee’s funeral is over, Jen’s boyfriend of fifteen years Pete decides it’s time to tell her their relationship is over and he’s moving out and for the first time in years Jen finds herself completely  alone.

Jen’s not the only one devastated by Dee’s death, husband Luke is lost without his perfect wife and turns to her for comfort. Dee’s parents are also struggling and begin to drift apart, Dee dad goes into his own little world trying to get through the day the best he can. Val, Dee’s mum is the one who seems the hardest hit by the loss of her daughter. On the outside she puts on a brave face but when alone she struggles to hold it together. It was so sad to read from Val’s perspective but Shari Low has done an excellent job in conveying the overwhelming heartbreak felt by Val. How do you really get over the loss of a child, well for Val it’s to start a one woman crusade to gain justice for her daughter? The stakeout scenes with her and best friend Josie were very funny and brought a lightness to these emotional parts.

I loved reading about Jen’s journey as she tries to follow Dee’s dream and keep their travel business alive. As Jen delves into Dee’s world of travel blogging she begins to realise that her best friend had secrets and wasn’t quite as perfect as everyone else believes.  

With the story being told from Jen, Luke and Val’s perspectives we learn a lot about Dee and how much she loved life and much of a whole she has left in the three people closest to her. I loved how the story developed and was glad there were moments which made me laugh as well as cry throughout this brilliantly told tale.

Shari Low is an excellent storyteller and has taken a very tragic storyline and handled it realistically and sensitively. She has created some great characters who I loved reading about and I’m glad they were able to realise they were all capable of a life without Dee.

Thank you to Netgalley and Aria for this review copy, I loved this book and can’t wait to read more by Shari Low.