Friday, 3 April 2015

Book Review - You Think You Know Me by Clare Chase

You Think You Know Me
You Think You Know Me by Clare Chase
Published: 3rd December 2014
Publisher: Choc Lit
Pages: 263
Available on Kindle
Sometimes, it’s not easy to tell the good guys from the bad …

Freelance journalist, Anna Morris, is struggling to make a name for herself, so she’s delighted to attend a launch event for a hip, young artist at her friend Seb’s gallery.

But an exclusive interview isn’t all Anna comes away with. After an encounter with the enigmatic Darrick Farron, she is flung into the shady underground of the art scene – a world of underhand dealings, missing paintings and mysterious deaths …

Seb is intent on convincing Anna that Darrick is up to no good but, try as she might, she can’t seem to keep away from him. And as she becomes further embroiled, Anna begins to wonder – is Seb’s behaviour the well-intentioned concern of an old friend, or does he have something to hide?
I was expecting You Think You Know Me to be good as the blurb sounded good, but I was not prepared for just how good this book would be and boy is it good! It is full of intense twists and mysterious characters and face paced writing full of suspense which make it a fabulous read.
Anna Morris is a freelance journalist wanting to make it big in the art scene like her fellow university friends. When she is invited to her friends Seb’s art gallery opening Anna is thrilled at the networking potential. Here she meets the dark and mysterious Darrick Fallon who claims he is the brother of a famous art dealer. Her friend Seb warns her Darrick is not who he says is and is no good for Anna. However Anna is unable to keep away from the sexy and mysterious Darrick and soon finds herself mixed up in some shady dealings within the art scene, with no idea who she can trust.
As Anna gets deeper involved with both Darrick and Seb and his gallery she begins to mistrust everyone around her and Claire Chase has written this book in such a way that we suspect almost every character to be hiding something, even her bossy cousin Alicia who she lives with. The way this is written about is truly brilliant, the mistrust she feels oozes off the page and the suspense gathers on every page. It built to a very dramatic ending which was just mind blowing as I totally didn’t expect the events to happen as they did. So who was the good guy and who was the bad guy? Well you will be left guessing until the very last page.
I thought Anna was a brilliant character, her inquiring mind may have led her right into trouble but she never seemed to accept lies when she was told them and used her journalist skills to go digging around for the truth. I also loved her relationship with her cousin Alicia, who was very bossy and condescending towards Anna but she just took it wholeheartedly and joked back at her.
This was a truly wonderful book to read, which I couldn’t stop reading as I had to find out the truth just like Anna. It is jam packed with suspense and intrigue and I was genuinely gutted when I’d finished as I could read Claire Chase’s words forever. I’m really hoping she’s working on another novel as she has a real talent.  I give this book 5/5 it was one of the best suspense novels I’ve ever read and if you haven’t read it then you need to!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Book Review - A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

A Place Called Winter
A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale
Published: 24th March 2015
Publisher: Tinder Press
Page: 352
Available in Hardback and on Kindle
To find yourself, sometimes you must lose everything.

A privileged elder son, and stammeringly shy, Harry Cane has followed convention at every step. Even the beginnings of an illicit, dangerous affair do little to shake the foundations of his muted existence - until the shock of discovery and the threat of arrest cost him everything.

Forced to abandon his wife and child, Harry signs up for emigration to the newly colonised Canadian prairies. Remote and unforgiving, his allotted homestead in a place called Winter is a world away from the golden suburbs of turn-of-the-century Edwardian England. And yet it is here, isolated in a seemingly harsh landscape, under the threat of war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism that the fight for survival will reveal in Harry an inner strength and capacity for love beyond anything he has ever known before.

In this exquisite journey of self-discovery, loosely based on a real life family mystery, Patrick Gale has created an epic, intimate human drama, both brutal and breathtaking. It is a novel of secrets, sexuality and, ultimately, of great love.
A Place Called Winter follows Harry Kane on his journey from high society in Edwardian England to the remote prairie outback of uninhabited Canada in a small settlement called Winter. When we first meet Harry he is in a psychiatric unit in Bethel, as the story develops we learn the events which unfolded for him to end up there.
Harry is the eldest son of a wealthy businessman who spends his days lazing about in gentlemen’s clubs. After his father’s death he is left with a substantial fortune and eventually finds himself a respectable wife Winnifred Wells. All would have been well for Harry except an ill-fated investment sees him living back in his mother in laws house. Feeling trapped Harry gives into a temptation burning inside him. After his illicit affair is unearthed by his brother in law he has no option but to move away and save the family from shame. By chance Harry stumbles on an advertisement for labourers in Canada willing to build new homesteads in the remote prairies. Taking his chances Harry sets off for Canada and the place called Winter.
To be completely honest it wasn’t until I was about half way through this book that I fell for its charms. During the first half of the book very little happens and Harry himself was just not a character I could feel anything for. He came across as socially awkward and seemed to believe he was incapable of doing anything useful with his time other than frequenting clubs and horse-riding. The boat journey sees Harry changing and becoming determined to do something with his life, if only to compensate for the shame he bought his wife. I liked this stronger, more determined Harry and was glad when he was able to finally find some inner peace.
The thing I enjoyed most about this book was the writing, it just flowed beautifully and gave such a vivid description of life in Canada, Patrick Gale has such a talent for creating a sense of place that I was totally mesmerised by the end. I know he has written some previous novels, so hopefully I will get a chance to read these someday.
This is a story of Harry’s journey, not just from England to Canada but from being a seemingly lost and awkward individual to someone who is confident and has finally found his place within society. It’s a book which made me laugh and cry and one which I’ll still be thinking about for a long time.
I’m giving this book 4/5, mainly because it took me a while to get into it and also I don’t think I would read it again myself. I do think it is definitely a book worth picking up and reading as it has a way of capturing your heart.
I would like to thank Georgina at Headline for sending me a copy to review.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Book Review - The Grand Reopening of the Dandelion Cafe

The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Café (Cherry Pie Island, #1)
The Grand Reopening of the Dandelion Café by Jenny Oliver
Published: 27th March 2015
Publisher: Carina UK
Available on Kindle
Welcome to the brand new Cherry Pie Island series from Jenny Oliver!
Home, Sweet Home….?

When Annie White steps back onto Cherry Pie Island, it’s safe to say her newly inherited Dandelion Café has seen better days! And while her childhood home on the Thames-side island idyll is exactly the same retreat from the urban bustle of London she remembers, Annie’s not convinced that Owner of The Dandelion Cafe is a title she’ll be keeping for long. Not that she can bear the idea of letting her dedicated, if endearingly disorganized staff lose their jobs. Plus café life does also have the added bonus of working a stone’s throw away from millionaire Matt and his disarmingly charming smile!

One (shoestring budget) café makeover, a few delightful additions to the somewhat retro menu and a lot of cherry pie tastings later, The Dandelion Café is ready for its grand reopening! But once she’s brought the dilapidated old café back to life, Annie finds herself wishing her stay on the island was just a bit longer. She always intended to go back to the big city…but could island living finally have lured her back home for good?

The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Café is Book 1 in The Cherry Pie Island series. Each part of Cherry Pie Island can be read and enjoyed as a standalone story – or as part of the utterly delightful series
The Grand Reopening of the Dandelion Café is the first book in Jenny Oliver’s new Cherry Pie Island series. It is also the first book I’ve read by this author, which is shocking seen as she’s been popping up on my Amazon recommendations for months.    
Annie White has returned to Cherry Pie Island after inheriting the Dandelion Café from her father. Annie has not been on the island for a while after a miss-spent youth and mistakes she’d rather forget led her to move away. The café has seen better days and initially Annie is convinced the best thing to do is sell up and continue her life back in Hampstead. However the café  slowly charms her,  and along with memories of childhood and the close-knit community giving her a sense of belonging which she hasn’t felt for a long time, Annie decides to give the café a chance.
Annie is an instantly likable character and I liked that we were given hints at trouble in her past, which we are slowly made aware of as the story unfolds. I loved the other characters too, Martha who’s very possessive of the café her mother used to run, young River and his estranged father Matt, and even Annie self-important brother Jonathon. The sense of community oozes of the pages of this book and like Annie found, it was hard to resist the charms this lovely café and its delicious sounding cherry pie, I’ll have mine with ice-cream please!
Although this is a short story I thought it was perfect and really enjoyed the couple of hours it took me to read it. It’s a story out fining out where you belong and believing you can leave the past behind you. The budding sparks of romance between Annie and Matt were lovely and I can’t wait to see what happens next for them. I loved the hints of mystery and secrets some of the characters have and look forward to finding out more about these in the following books of the series.
This was a lovely introduction to Jenny’s Oliver’s writing for me and I’m definitely going to be reading more from this lady very soon. If you love the writing style of Milly Johnson or Rebecca Raisin I’m sure you will love Jenny Oliver as she has the same sense of community and descriptions of delicious sounding food.
Thank you to Carina UK and Netgalley for the advanced copy of this book. I’d rate it 5/5 it was just scrummy!