Monday, 24 July 2017

Blog Tour Review: It Was Only Ever You by Kate Kerrigan

It Was Only Ever You

It Was Only Ever You by Kate Kerrigan
Published: 13th July 2017 (PB)
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 448
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
Set in late 1950s Ireland and New York, the story of three women and the charismatic man with whom their lives are interwoven.

Set, like Maeve Binchy's early bestsellers, in late 1950s Ireland and New York, this is the story of three women and the charismatic man with whom their lives are interwoven.

Patrick Murphy has charm to burn and a singing voice to die for. Many people will recognise his talent. Many women will love him. Rose, the sweetheart he leaves behind in Ireland, can never forget him and will move heaven and earth to find him again, long after he has married another woman. Ava, the heiress with no self-confidence except on the dance floor, falls under his spell. And tough Sheila Klein, orphaned by the Holocaust and hungry for success as a music manager, she will be ruthless in her determination to unlock his extraordinary star quality.

But in the end, Patrick Murphy's heart belongs to only one of them. Which one will it be?

Review
It Was Only Ever You is the latest novel by Kate Kerrigan. Set in the 1950s in both County Mayo, Ireland and New York City it tells the tale of Patrick Murphy, a young charismatic man with a fantastic singing voice whose life becomes entwined with three different women.
In County Mayo young Rose Hopkins the doctor’s daughter and Patrick Murphy a farmer’s son have to keep their love affair a secret for fear their parents will keep them apart. Sadly this is what happens and Patrick is offered the chance to start a new life in America where his dreams of a singing career could become a reality.
After he meets Ava Brogan and Shelia Klein, Patrick’s life changes and all thoughts of Rose and Ireland are left behind, until one day Rose decides she wants her man back and heads to New York to get him. This turns Patrick’s world upside down as he tries to decide which women really has his heart.
I loved the setting for this novel, Kate Kerrigan has perfectly captured the excitement and glitz of the emerging music scene in the 1950s particularly the start of the Rock and Roll era. A lot of the drama is centred on The Emerald Rooms which holds a special place in the hearts of three of our main characters and is the place where many life-changing moments happen.
Patrick is the main male voice in this book and I really wanted to love him. He’s charismatic, he’s handsome and he has an amazing voice and I was longing for him to be a hero for one of these women. Sadly he let me down, not once but twice does he have the chance to fight for the women he loves but instead he just walks away leaving her heartbroken and for me that made him weak and spineless. If he really loved any of them then nothing at all should stand in the way of that love, instead he’s just worried about furthering his career.
I found Rose incredibly spoilt, immature and selfish. She follows Patrick to America on a complete whim not caring about anyone but herself. She doesn’t even stop to question if he even wants her there or not or the consequences of her actions and I just wish she’d stayed in Ireland.
Ava was by far my favourite character in this book. She’s rather plain to look at, a little too tall, intelligent and loves dancing and is finding that all the men around her find her just a little bit too intimidating to date. Which is hard for Ava as all she really wants is too fall in love and live happily ever after. Sadly life doesn’t work like that and Ava has her share of disappointment before she finds her prince.
There are a large number of other characters in this book all slightly linked together, some which add to the story and some which don’t. I think a few less characters and more romance would for me have made this an even more enjoyable read.
It Was Only Ever You is a compelling story of one man and three women, it’s a story of first loves, true loves and passions. It’s a book which I really enjoyed and one which I can recommend for people who want their romances to have a few ups and downs. It’s beautifully written and perfectly captures the essence of the era.
Thank you to Head of Zeus for sending me a copy to review and for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Blog Tour Review: Tremarnock Summer by Emma Burstall

Tremarnock Summer: Love is in the air in a Cornish village (Tremarnock Series Book 3)

Tremarnock Summer by Emma Burstall
Published: 30th May 2017
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 384
Available on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
Bramble Challoner has had a very normal upbringing. She lives in a semi in the suburbs of London with her parents and works at the call centre down the road. She still goes out with the boy she met at school. At weekends they stay in and watch films on the telly and sometimes hold hands. Bramble is dying for an adventure.
So when her very grand grandfather, Lord Penrose, dies, leaving his huge, rambling house in Cornwall to her, Bramble packs her bags immediately, dragging along her best friend Katie. The sleepy village of Tremarnock had better be ready for its newest residents...

Review

Tremarnock Summer is the third Tremarnock book by Emma Burstall, it’s a book which could be read as a standalone but feel it would be best read as part of the series like I have done. I started to read it before reading the other two books but felt a bit overwhelmed by what seemed to be three stories in one, so went back and read the other two books first.

The main storyline surrounds Bramble Challoner who lives in Chessington and has lead a very normal life right up until the day she receives a letter from some solicitors telling her she is the sole beneficiary of her grandfather Lord Penrose’s estate, a vast manor house in rural Cornwall. Fed up with her old life Bramble and best friend Katie head to Cornwall to start a new life where rural life and romance come as a bit of a shock for both girls.

The second storyline involves Liz who we know from the previous two books and her struggles with daughter Rosie as she begins to grow up and also Liz has a couple of shocks in this book which leave her very depressed.

Alongside Liz’s storyline is the story of Shannon and her brothers, I felt adding this subplot was a little too much as there were so many characters to keep track of it was hard to know was associated with who. Plus I don’t think these characters really added much to the overall flow of the story.

Bramble was a lovely who character who seemed to long for adventure and this led her into a couple of romantic disasters as she settles into her new life in Cornwall. If I’m honest I wished she ended up with someone else as I enjoyed the chemistry between them. I also loved the way she became a detective working her way around the house trying to work out what kind of man her grandfather was.

As with previous books in this series the thing that I really enjoyed about this book is the way the village all came together after a tragedy to help and look after one another, this community spirit was really heart-warming to read about.

Although this book has a couple of emotional moments it’s a very light read and the perfect holiday read. My favourite moments in this book mostly surrounded Katie who maybe a little immature for her age I still found her endearing as she was always looking for fun.

I enjoyed this book just as much as the previous two Tremarnock books which I have read and am looking forward to what happens next in Tremarnock.

Thank you to the publishers Head of Zeus for sending me a copy to review and for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Tremarnock Guest House by Emma Burstall

The Cornish Guest House (Tremarnock, #2)

The Cornish Guest House by Emma Burstall
Published: October 2016
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 384
Available in Paperback, Hardback and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
A new couple have arrived in Tremarnock, but will these glamorous strangers fit into village life?
Tremarnock is a small fishing village, crowded with holidaymakers in the summer, but a sleepy Cornish backwater at other times of the year.
Here Liz has found refuge with her young daughter, Rosie, after her relationship with Rosie's father came unstuck. Now happily married, all seems set for a quiet autumn and merry Christmas. But strangers have bought the local guest house and seem to have big plans. Why is he so charming and confident, but she so frightened? Are they who they say they are? And what are they really doing with the guest house?

Review
The Cornish Guesthouse by Emma Burstall is the second book in the Tremarnock series, in this book we meet new village residents Tabitha and Luke and learn more about one of Tremarnock’s more individual inhabitants Loveday.
Tabitha and Luke have moved from Manchester into The Stables which the plan to turn into a boutique guesthouse. Luke instantly wins the village over with his charisma and willingness to join in village life. Tabitha seems more reserved and reluctant to let her guard down. What could this mysterious beauty be hiding?
Charismatic Luke has soon won over Loveday who is swooning all over his despite just moving in with boyfriend Jesse. Luke offers Loveday a job, first as nanny to his young son Oscar but soon he’s whisking her away to help in his mysterious office in Plymouth. Has Loveday really found her dream job and is Luke as perfect as everyone thinks?
This is the second book from the Tremarnock series but I feel it could easily be read as a standalone as the main character from the previous book Liz is only a minor character in this book. If you’ve read the previous book then you will enjoy your return to Tremarnock and catching up with the lives of the villagers.
Tabitha initially comes across as a very reserved character who is definitely hiding something, which for me made her a much more interesting character than her husband Luke. I so wanted to know why Tabitha seemed so anxious all the time. As the story develops we learn of Tabitha’s background and how she came to be with Luke. Luke was not a character I warmed to and the more we learnt about Tabitha the less I felt I liked Luke. He seemed a man of two halves, with everyone else he is easy-going, captivating and has everyone completely charmed, even reserved Robert. But when he’s alone he seems controlling and even abusive towards Tabitha and I really didn’t like that.
I loved that in this book we learn more about Loveday as for me she was one of the more intriguing characters from the first book. Despite appearing all hard and standoffish she really is quite a vulnerable girl who just wants attention and when Luke gives her some it goes to her head and turns her world upside down.
In theory I liked the plotline of this book but I felt it was a little unrealistic in its delivery. Are the older generation so easily fooled out of all their money? Maybe some, but I disliked the way all old people seemed to be portrayed as weak and na├»ve. I also found the treatment of Jesse in the book very unjustified and unbelievable, how can a village of people who’ve known him forever suddenly make him out to be the biggest villain on practically just the assumptions of an outsider, it just didn’t seem to fit with what I knew of the community spirit among the village. I also felt Tabitha fears of her past catching up with her were a little unfounded, is she really that special that a gangster from Manchester would travel to Cornwall just to find her, I’m not so sure.
The Cornish Guest House is an enjoyable read and I enjoyed visiting Tremarnock once more, despite being a little frustrated at times with the plot. I’m looking forward to seeing where the next Tremarnock book takes us.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Tremarnock by Emma Burstall

Tremarnock (Tremarnock, #1)

Tremarnock by Emma Burstall
Published: 7th April 2016 (PB)
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 407
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
A beautiful Cornish village, a shocking turn of events...
Tremarnock is a classic Cornish seaside village. Houses painted in yellow, pink and white, cluster around the harbour, where fishermen still unload their daily catch. It has a pub and a sought-after little restaurant, whitewashed, with bright blue shutters.
Here, Liz has found sanctuary for herself and young daughter, Rosie – far away from Rosie's cheating father. From early in the morning with her job as a cleaner, till late at night waitressing in the restaurant, Liz works hard to provide for them both.
But trouble is waiting just around the corner. As with all villages, there are tensions, secrets – and ambitions.

Review

Tremarnock by Emma Burstall is one of those books which has been on my to read list forever, so when I was asked to review the latest book in the series I knew it was time to take a trip to Cornwall and start at the very beginning.

Tremarnock is the classic Cornish village with quaint white washed cottages and a strong sense of community spirit among the locals. Here Liz has finally found a home for herself and daughter Rosie after leaving London and Rosie’s cheating father behind them. Life is a struggle for Liz having to work two jobs at opposite ends of the day just to a make ends meet. Despite their hard lives Liz and Rosie manage to put a positive spin on things and enjoy everyday life. That is until something shocking happens and Liz is left wondering if there really is a light at the end of the tunnel.

This first thing I loved about this book is its glorious cover to me to just screams Cornwall and is so inviting, I couldn’t wait to read it. The second thing to love is Emma Burstall’s writing style, it flows so well and instantly had me feeling I was in the little village of Tremarnock.  Although there are some sad moments in this book it’s not a heavy read at all, in fact I found it thoroughly relaxing to immerse myself into Liz’s troubles.

Liz herself is a great character she so determined to give Rosie the best life possible and make sure her Cerebral Palsy doesn’t inhibit her life too much. She’s a character who always thinks the best of people and is perhaps a little too trusting, which sadly doesn’t always end well. I loved the very slow simmering chemistry between herself and Robert and was longing for them let their guard down and get together.

This is a very gently paced book which may not appeal to everyone but I found it a comforting read regardless of struggles Liz went through. The real main part of the story doesn’t really happen until the last third of the book, so some may struggle with that. But if like me you are planning to read the following Tremarnock books then this is a good scene setting and getting to know the characters book.

I enjoyed reading Tremarnock and am looking forward to reading what happens next in The Cornish Guesthouse.



Saturday, 15 July 2017

Blog Tour Review: Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy


Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy,
Published: 6th July 2017
Publisher: Penguin Viking
Pages: 352
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 3/5

Blurb
When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship's comforts and possibilities seem infinite. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor mishaps lead the families further from the ship's safety.
One minute the children are there, and the next they're gone.
What follows is a heart-racing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the distraught parents - now turning on one another and blaming themselves - try to recover their children and their shattered lives.

Review

From the title Do Not Become Alarmed I was expecting this book to be full of suspense and very gripping, sadly I found it unconvincing and in places boring.

After Nora loses her mother best friend Liv decides the best thing for both families is to take a vacation for Christmas and so a cruise around South America is booked. One aboard the two families begin to relax and enjoy their holiday. Everything is perfect until Nora and Liv decide to take the children on an expedition with tour guide Pedro and leave the husbands to play golf. The trip does not go well, after their jeep breaks down they are left stranded. Pedro guides them to a secluded beach where the children play and the women relax and take their focus off the children. Nora goes off with Pedro to look at the birds while Liv falls asleep after too much cocktail. When Nora and Pedro return all they find is Liv asleep and no children.  What follows is a frantic search to find the children before something bad happen to them.

What I was expecting from this novel was an emotional read where the parents become distraught because the children have vanished from the ship, but the whole beach scene left me unconvinced, how exactly can six children disappear from the view of four adults? To me the parents just didn’t seem as alarmed as I would have been in a similar situation. I was expecting guilt, especially from Nora and Liv, anger from the husbands and tears from everyone, but everything they did felt a little flat.

What made this book better for me was the children, their story was far more interesting, gripping and even had a sinister note to it.  I also found their personalities much more engaging especially Penny and Isabel. I loved the way Penny took “charge” and looked after everyone especially her brother Sebastian who has diabetes and became ill.

There were one or two threads in the book which left me confused, like the story of little Noemi, I’m not sure how this really fitted into the story and if it really added anything.

I found Do Not Become Alarmed a completely different story to what I was expecting, it was darker featuring much more of the underground criminal scene of South America including drug trafficking and murder. This gave the book a sinister tone in places but for me something was missing and it wasn’t as gripping as a thriller should be.

Thank you to Penguin Viking for sending me a copy to review and for inviting me on this blog tour.


Thursday, 13 July 2017

Blog Tour Review: Blood Sisters by Jane Corry


Blood Sisters by Jane Corry
Published: 29th June 2017
Publisher: Penguin Viking
Pages: 464
Available on Kindle and in Paperback
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
Two women. Two versions of the truth.
Kitty lives in a care home. She can't speak properly, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here. At least that's the story she's sticking to.
Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it - this is her chance to finally make things right.
But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that sunny morning in May.
And only another life will do...


Review

Jane Corry’s debut thriller My Husband’s Wife was one of my favourite books of last year, it was a book full of twists, turns and intense relationships. I found Blood Sisters a good follow up but I did enjoy My Husband’s Wife more.

Blood Sisters is a book which is sure to catch your attention with the tagline: Three little girls. One good. One bad. One Dead. It is a book which had me curious from the start and as I read it was a book that filled me with a sense of uneasy dread that made it hard to put down.

The story starts with Alison an art teacher working in an adult community college teaching stained glass window making. She lives alone and it’s soon very obvious she’s not a happy individual, mainly because she has been using pieces of broken glass to cut herself. Alison seems to have no close bonds with anyone and appears to be living a life of depravity almost. When she takes the job in the prison it’s almost as if she believes she should be locked up herself. I found her a very hard character to like but was intrigued as to what had happened to her to make her so shut away from life.

We then meet Kitty who is mentally and physically disabled, has suffered memory loss and is living in a care-home, she is unable to talk clearly and all her carers can hear is incoherent babbling. Kitty communicates to her carers with head movements which often get misinterpreted but what I found the most interesting was that Corry has given the readers a chance to hear the voice of Kitty and this is something which works very well. Kitty’s voice comes from her internal thoughts and from these we learn that Kitty is quite a character with a very sarcastic temperament. What Kitty wants to know most of all is how she became like she is and as the story develops it clear that she too is hiding things.

I think Jane Corry has been very clever with the way she has written Kitty’s character, never before have I read a book where a mentally ill person has been given their own voice. I found Kitty a fascinating character and was surprised how much I like her. I do think certain events that happened to her were a little unrealistic though.

Blood Sisters is a book about the relationship between sisters and I think Corry has done a good job of exploring this dynamic and what it really means. It was a novel which I found quite intense at times and had a chilling feeling about the whole book, I wouldn’t recommend reading on your own as certain parts made me jumpy. One thing which lessened the intensity for me was everything seemed a little too coincidental and this took away from the shock factor for me. I also found the very end was a little predictable but was perhaps the best way to end Alison and Kitty’s story.

I enjoyed reading Jane Corry’s second novel, her ability to right about complex relationships comes through in Blood Sisters and she has not lost that ability to feel uneasy while reading something. I’m looking forward to seeing what she writes next.

Thank you to Penguin Viking for sending me a copy to review and for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.


Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Blog Tour Review: One Summer in Tuscany by Domenica De Rosa


One Summer in Tuscany by Domenica De Rosa
Published: 29th June 2017
Publisher: Quercus
Pages: 362
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
Patricia Wilson's carefully composed ads for the writers' retreat she runs at her thirteenth-century Italian castle promise so much. But while the splendour of their surroundings and chef Aldo's melanzane never fail to wow the guests, huge maintenance bills and bad news from the bank threaten to close Patricia down. It's make or break time for the Castello.
Each of her seven aspiring authors arrives with the inevitable baggage alongside their unpublished manuscripts. But this August something is different, and soon lifelong spinster Mary is riding on the back of Aldo's vespa, and smouldering odd-job man Fabio has set more than one heart racing.
As temperatures rise, the writers gossip, flirt and gently polish their prose by the pool. But with ghosts, scorpions, and some unexpected visitors to contend with, one thing's for sure: neither the Castello, nor Patricia, has ever seen a summer like this.

Review

One Summer in Tuscany by Domenica De Rosa tells the tale of Patricia who is struggling to keep hold of her beloved Castello de Luna by running various retreats for artists. This summer seven aspiring writers have gathered at the Castello to learn from published author Jeremy Bullen. As the guests take up residency at the Castello some of their secrets become exposed and romance begins to blossom in the most unlikely of places, but will any of them achieve their dream of publishing the next best seller.

I loved the idea of this book, for me a writer writing about writing is a comforting thing, I’m not really sure why. Domenica De Rosa has brought together a varied mix of ten main characters in this book and given them all a unique voice.  I did find the first couple of chapters a little tricky to work out who was who but it wasn’t long before each character and their stories were easily recognisable.

Of all the characters my two favourites had to be Anna and Mary. Anna because she seems so unsure of herself and willing to accept how talented she is as a writer. She seemed to spend most of her time in Cat’s shadow, propping up her ego. I was longing for Anna to become more confident and see herself as the others did. Mary was a joy to read about, despite being in her seventies she has such joy and enthusiasm for new experiences and I was glad when she was able to grab hold of some happiness. Some other characters such as Sally and Dorothy seemed to add very little to the story.

There are some lovely descriptions of the Castello itself and the surrounding Tuscan scenery which along with Aldo’s delicious meals make the essence of Italy come through the book. I feel this book would make an ideal holiday read as despite being on a writing retreat the characters seem more like they are on holiday themselves with the tourist trips, huge meals and lazing by the pool.

I felt this was quite a light-hearted easy going read mainly because there were so many little dramas with various characters it became funny rather than more emotional as it was perhaps intended. I enjoyed Domenica De Rosa’a writing and can see myself picking up one of her books again as a holiday read as Italy is somewhere I long to go. If you’re a fan of Nicky Pellegrino or Santa Montefiore than I’m sure you will enjoy this book too.

Thank you to the publishers for inviting me to be part of this book tour and sending me a copy of the book to review.