Thursday, 27 August 2015

Blog Tour - The Waiting Game by Jessica Thompson

The Waiting Game by Jessica Thompson
Published: 13th August 2015
Publisher: Coronet
Pages: 326
Available now from Amazon
Today I'm excited to be part of The Waiting Game blog tour and firstly I have an exclusive extract from the book, followed my review of this wonderful book.
The ground seemed to speed up beneath Nessa’s feet. Grass, straw and soil rushed beneath her, faster and faster . . .
She looked up occasionally, terrified she might turn her ankle on a molehill, or a clod of mud. She wasn’t sure if she’d feel it even if she did hurt herself. Adrenaline’s natural painkilling qualities coursed through her limbs.
Nessa had never run this fast in her life. She hadn’t even known she was capable of it. Her breathing had regulated, so she was able to propel her legs forwards, launching herself over obstacles. She bounded forwards, her calves and thighs working like pistons. Faster, faster. She wasn’t sure she’d be able to stop now, even if she tried.
Is this madness? Is this how it feels?
The field looked as if it might go on forever. The forest was seemingly moving backwards in the distance rather than getting closer, as if it were a cut-out paper prop controlled by a child, gleefully moving the goalposts. Nessa came to a low gate. She didn’t have time to fiddle with it to get it open and then close it behind her again, so she put one hand down on the rough warm wood and launched her legs over it. She landed, surprisingly hard, on some damp soil on the other side. The shock from the landing reverberated up her body so that her teeth smacked against each other, catching the tip of her tongue. It hurt so much it brought tears to her eyes. She could taste the metallic, iron flavour of blood in her mouth, but she didn’t care. She had to keep going. A small group of cows in a nearby field watched on casually, chewing slowly and moving their mass from hoof to hoof, the occasional shake of a tail to bat the flies away.
Eventually, Nessa reached the opening of the forest. She kept running; her feet landed on dried-out twigs and branches that crackled and crunched beneath her feet. The sunshine pierced through the canopy of trees that provided a roof of broken shelter over the forest. The light glittered, shimmering on the ground. She didn’t really know where she was going anymore. She just had to keep going. Where had the tiny figure disappeared to?
‘Jake!’ she yelled, the word booming from her chest. She imagined each letter of his precious name growing wings, rising up and getting tangled in the trees, each singing their own desperate song of a woman who had, quite literally, lost a man.
‘Jake!’ she cried again, louder this time, her eyes still watering with the pain in her mouth. More blood.
‘Jake!’ she cried, as if her life depended on it.
‘JAKE!!’ she yelled again, furiously this time. She hoped that if he might somehow be able to hear her, he would know how livid she was with him.
The forest seemed to reduce itself towards a small, dark archway created by a particularly thick group of trees that bent towards each other at an angle. There were two other pathways, to the right and left of this rabbit hole, but she decided to take the central route. She slowed down, but kept running, stooping as low as she could to get into the tunnel. The sunshine barely penetrated this place, and she was plunged into near darkness.
Nessa slowed down, suddenly feeling exhausted, slinking into a fast walk, her breath rattling in her chest. The running and adrenaline had caught up with her. She felt more tired than she ever had.
And then suddenly, as if from nowhere, someone grabbed her from behind, their arms clamped so tightly around her waist, it felt as if they might break her lower ribs. Her feet were swept off the ground, effortlessly.
Ness Bruce had waited for her husband to return home from Afghanistan for what felt like forever. Now the moment was finally here.
But Jake Bruce didn't come home.
Nessa's life - and that of her rebellious daughter Poppy  - is turned upside downin an instant. What has happened to the elusive man at the centre of their world? They hold onto the hope that he is still out there somewhere, alive...but as time passes by, Nessa is forced to look at her life, at the decisions she has mad and the secrets se has kept. For maybe somewhere within it all lies the answer to the question -  where is the man she loves?
The first thing that drew me to The Waiting Game was its cover. That green metallic is even more gorgeous in real life making this cover one of my favourites from the year so far. I’ve not read anything by Jessica Thompson but have heard great things about her writing I was very excited to review this book for the tour. This book more than lived up to my expectations, it was heart aching beautiful in the way it captures emotion is such a raw way. I simply loved it.
Nessa Bruce has been waiting for her husband Jake to return from armed forces for months and she’s beginning to really struggle with holding it all together. Fourteen year daughter Poppy is pushing her mother to the limits with teenage rebellion, sister Kat is wanting answers from their childhood that Nessa has kept hidden and her mother in law Betsy is needing more emotional support as her husband Mike stoops deeper into the depths of dementia. Nessa is counting down the days until Jake’s return, but then then the unthinkable happens and Jake doesn’t come home. Nessa’s world is rocked to the core as she has to learn to cope on her own.
Initially I wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy this book as the plotline seemed very straight forward, however I was unprepared for the wonderful way in  which Jessica’s writing drew me in, so I felt like I was on Nessa’s emotional rollercoaster alongside her. Nessa’s pain got into my heart and I was just longing for Jake to come back and put his arms round her and make it better in the way we know only the one you love can do.
There were some parts of the story which I found to be predictable but then there were also twists which I was unprepared for, one of which felt like my heart had landed in my stomach and had me crying out. Jessica’s writing is very powerful and I can guarantee it will move you emotionally. It is a book which deals with love, loss and finding your inner strength when you’re totally at rock bottom.
I adored this book and cannot wait to read more of Jessica’s books. If you only read one book this summer, make sure it this one as it’s very special.
Thank you to Coronet for inviting me on this tour and sending me a review copy, I rate this book 5/5.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Book Review - Crash and Burn by Lisa Gardner

Crash & Burn (Tessa Leoni, #3)
Crash and Burn by Lisa Gardner
Published: 16th July 2015
Publisher: Headline
Pages: 343
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
My name is Nicky Frank.
I'm in hospital, afraid. All I can think about is Vero. I have to save her but I can't find her. She's just a little girl.
The man by my bed tells me we're married and there is no Vero. He says that six months ago I suffered a brain injury, that I have dramatic mood swings and large gaps in my memory. I get angry and I drink. All of which explains the car crash that put me here.
Now a Sergeant Wyatt Foster has questions about the accident. He has concerns about my husband. And he's worried about a missing girl.
He would like to know what happened to me. So would I.
This is my life. Watch me crash and burn.

Now I have to start this review by saying until I requested Crash and Burn off bookbridgr I had not heard of Lisa Gardner, shame on me as this woman can write a great crime thriller. What started out as a very simple car accident involving Nicky Franks becomes deeper and more complex and utterly gripping, I couldn’t put this down until I’d finished the very last page.

Sergeant Wyatt Foster is given the case of what initially appears to be a drunk driving charge, however its uncovered that driver Nicole Franks was under the legal limit and also be assumes there was a child (Vero) in the car with her, who now appears to be missing. As Wyatt delves deeper into the case he learns that Nicole is suffering from concussion and has suffered two further “accidents” in the past six months and everything in her home life it not quite as it seems. What starts off as a simple open and shut case soon becomes a very complex and goes deeper than the Sergeant ever expected.

Crash and Burn is a very complex crime thriller with so many twists I wasn’t sure what else could actually happen. The plot flows really well despite the many twists and had me totally hooked all the way through. There are some chapters which are flashbacks in Nicole’s memory which won’t be to every reader’s liking but personally I love this style of narrative and felt this was how the story began to make sense and I was able to work out what had happened, or so I thought!

I really liked all the characters I really felt for Nicole and the vulnerability she showed when she couldn’t remember events happening. He husband Thomas left me feeling a little on edge as I was sure he was hiding something from Nicole and the police and I didn’t want her to trust him completely. My favourite character was Sergeant Wyatt, he seemed a genuinely nice guy as seemed to want to protect Nicole from anymore “accidents”. I also liked the way he was trying really hard to build a relationship with private investigator Tessa and her daughter Sophie. Hopefully some of her other novels will feature him as he’s a character I’d like to read more about.

Crash and Burn is a novel which will keep you gripped from the very first line “I died once” to the very last page. All the way through you will be questioning how is Nicole Franks? Who is Vero? Where is Vero? Were those “accidents” really accidents? It is a novel which focuses of hidden identities, brain injuries, child abduction, drug abuse and many, many secrets. I absolutely loved the way I was totally absorbed by this gripping thriller. I cannot wait to read more by this author it was just brilliant.

Thank you so much to bookbridgr and Headline for sending me a review copy. I give this book a well-deserved five out of five.




Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Book Review - The Betrayal by Laura Elliot

The Betrayal: A gripping novel of psychological suspense
The Betrayal by Laura Elliot
Published:  14th August 2015
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 376
Available on Kindle and in Paperback
A perfect divorce. A new flame. And a deadly obsession.

Nadine and Jake Saunders were married as teens. Tied to one another by a night of passion that resulted in a pregnancy neither could turn away from.

Now, years later, their children have all flown the nest and the pact they made as teenagers – to give one another the freedom to pursue their own dreams – has resurfaced.

But freedom comes at a price …

While Nadine and Jake begin to untangle their lives from one another, Jake embarks on a passionate affair with a beautiful woman, Karin Moylan. What he doesn’t know is the dark history Karin shares with Nadine.

As lust spirals into dangerous obsession, Jake must break free from Karin. But he must also ask himself how well he ever really knew Nadine. What secret is she hiding? The truth, when it is revealed, could destroy them all.
The Betrayal is the second book by Laura Elliot that I have read, Fragile Lies was brilliant so I was really looking forward to reading her next book. The Betrayal is a book which fills you with intrigue from the very first paragraph when Nadine catches a glimpse of Karin Moylan and this sets off a chain of events which are just scary.
Jake and Nadine have been married since they were seventeen, a marriage based more on the circumstance of an unplanned pregnancy rather than love, four children and twenty years later they are still together but both feel slightly tied down and long for the missed freedom of their youth. At Nadine’s request they agree to a “perfect divorce” where they will remain friends and united for their children. However a chance meeting brings Karin Moylan back into their lives, Nadine’s childhood best friend who she would rather never set eyes on again. As Jake begins a passionate affair with the tempting seductress he doesn’t realise just how much he is putting his family at risk as this woman will do anything to keep her man.
I loved that this was written from the dual aspects of Jake and Nadine in alternating chapters as I felt it really added to build up the tension and suspense in this book as each begins to realise just how dangerous Karin can be and how scared they are for each other.
The whole basis of this novel was why did Nadine and Karin fall out all those years ago? Eventually we learn the truth through Nadine’s memories but it was totally not what I expected at all! I think I changed my mind a few times as to what the reason was but was wrong…so wrong which is exactly what I want to be when reading a psychological thriller.
The character of Karin was really quite scary in the way she was able to manipulate events and family members to get exactly what she wanted, I would not like to be in her firing line! I think it will take me quite a while to look at kingfisher blue, Karin’s signature colour and not feel a little uneasy.
Jake and Nadine were both very likable characters and all the way through I was so hoping that they would forget this silly “perfect divorce” thing and stay married as they seemed so right for each other. I was so angry with Jake that he could hurt Nadine the way he did, although I don’t really think he stood a chance against Karin. I loved that they both had a really strong sense of family and would go rushing to various members whenever they needed help.
The Betrayal is a novel based full on intrigue, suspense, lust and tragedy and most of all obsession. It was a little bit of a roller-coaster for me as at some points I was a little bored, mostly with the Alaska trip and Eleanor’s party politics but then at other points like the historical memories and the crash I was hooked. I did enjoy this book  and will definitely reading this author’s other works, but please think of some better names next time, Sam and Samantha for twins and Daryl and Carol Farrell, sorry but I didn’t like them!
Thank you to Bookouture and Netgalley for my review copy, overall I really enjoyed this book and look forward to her next one, I’d give this book a rating of 4 out of 5.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Book Review - The Daughter's Secret by Eva Holland

The Daughter's Secret
The Daughter's Secret by Eva Holland
Published: 13th August 2015
Publisher: Orion
Pages: 320
Available on Kindle and in Paperback
My daughter is a liar. A liar, liar, liar. And I'm starting to see where she gets it from.

When Rosalind's fifteen-year-old daughter, Stephanie, ran away with her teacher, this ordinary family became something it had never asked to be. Their lives held up to scrutiny in the centre of a major police investigation, the Simms were headline news while Stephanie was missing with a man who was risking everything.

Now, six years on, Ros takes a call that will change their lives all over again. He's going to be released from prison. Years too early. In eleven days' time.

As Temperley's release creeps ever closer, Ros is forced to confront the events that led them here, back to a place she thought she'd left behind, to questions she didn't want to answer. Why did she do it? Where does the blame lie? What happens next?
The Daughter’s Secret tells the story of Stephanie Simm, of her abduction when she was fifteen by her geography teacher Nathan Temperley and how her and her family coped in the aftermath on her return to her family. Now six years later all their emotions and secrets are brought back as Nathan Temperley is set to be released, in just eleven days’ time. I found Eva Holland’s debut novel to be well written, gripping and very thought provoking
The story is told through the eyes of Rosalind, Stephanie’s somewhat neurotic mother, a woman who has led a very comfortable life and up until Stephanie’s disappearance had no reason to be so paranoid about life, except that she was about everything. Ros was not a character I could totally warm too, I really wanted to as I myself have bouts of anxiety but she just seemed fixated on bad things happening all around her, like suitcases falling from the sky and buses not being safe enough to travel on, so much so it’s kind of no wonder Stephanie ran away. When she learns of Nathan Temperley’s release she goes into overdrive wanting to protect Stephane but I felt it was also an excuse to let her paranoia run wild causing even more friction within her family.
Dan, the husband, I found more interesting as he seems to be disconnected to his family with his own secrets. He’s happy just placing them in the perfect house and then going off to work without considering if they are actually happy. I felt he had some kind perfectly planned out life and he can never quite forgive Stephanie for ruining it and showing the world their imperfections. Dan wants his problems to go away and that means Stephanie and her problems must be sent away either to boarding school or to rehab, so she can’t ruin the perfect picture of the stable happy family which he wants the outside world to see.
Stephanie herself seemed a girl who is longing for approval and acceptance and goes along with Temperley because he is giving her what she is craving from her home life but isn’t getting from her distant parents.  I felt sad for her that she is still heavy with guilt and isn’t able to completely let Temperley out of her life once her ordeal I is over and so longed for her to find peace.
I enjoyed reading this debut novel very much and I loved the structure with the chapters being split into the days leading up to Temperley’s release. Each day getting slightly longer in length as the tension this news is causing builds up between the members of the Simm family until finally it explodes. I thought this was brilliant and really added to the way the story gripped me, with a slow start and then getting more intense until I couldn’t put this book down.
Although I really enjoyed this novel and found the ending to be satisfactory I still felt there were a lot of unanswered questions as to what happened next for the family and I think personally I would have liked an epilogue to answer some of the questions. This has meant though that I have kept thinking about this book after I had finished reading it, which makes it an ideal book club choice as there is plenty to discuss. I would give this book 4 out of 5 and would like to thank Orion the publishers for sending me a copy to review.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Book Review - Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

Wedding Night
Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
Published: 27th February 2014
Publisher: Black Swan
Pages: 460
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
What do you do when you think your sister's about to marry the wrong man?
It's all gone wrong with the man Lottie thought was Mr Right. Then out of the blue she gets a call from her first love. She decides it must be Fate, and rushes off to marry him and rekindle their sizzling Greek island romance.

Lottie's older sister can't believe she's doing something so crazy. No more Ms Nice Sister, she's stopping this marriage. Right away! And she'll go to any lengths to do so...
Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella is a book which has sat on my shelf for just over a year, I find her books hugely enjoyable and so was saving this one for something special, I chose to read this post honeymoon to extend that loved up glow I’ve got inside but sadly this book let me down a little. It is a good story with some very funny moments but I didn’t feel to truly engage with either of the two main characters Fliss and Lottie which left me struggling with this book at times.
Fliss and Lottie Graveney are sisters who couldn’t be in more different places on the romantic front. Lottie is loved up with Richard and is convinced he’s on the verge of proposing. While sister Fliss is very bitter from her impending divorce with husband Daniel. When Lottie’s dream proposal goes horribly wrong, she ends up splitting from Richard as he embarks on a three month job in San Francisco, leaving Lottie on the edge of a meltdown. Having being here before Fliss readies herself for her sisters next big “Unfortunate Choice”, however this time even she is unprepared for Lottie’s actions…she’s only got an married her teenage sweetheart Ben and is planning sizzling honeymoon back where they met on the Greek isle of Ikonos. Can Fliss save Lottie from herself and how far will she actually go to do so?
Wedding Night is told from a dual perspective of both sisters, this I did enjoy as it gave more insight into the events which were happening and we also saw both sisters’ weaknesses through the eyes of the other. However I just couldn’t seem to connect with either sister. I found Lottie to be impulsive and living in some kind of dream world where being married  and having amazing sex is the only thing that counts and to be honest a just wanted to slap her. Fliss I liked slightly better as its obvious Daniel has wrecked her heart and she doesn’t want her younger sister to feel the same pain. However I felt the measures she went to keep Ben and Lottie apart were extreme and bordering on lunacy. I wanted her to get a grip and just let Lottie get on with making her own mess.
This book does have some funny moments which I enjoyed, mostly centred on Fliss’s son Noah and his misunderstanding of the adult conversations. My favourite part is when Fliss has to produce a model balloon for Noah’s school out of the contents of her handbag and end up using condoms as the balloon! Loved it!
Despite finding the plotline of this novel a bit ridiculous and far-fetched I did enjoy it, however I wasn’t as hooked as I normally am with a Sophie Kinsella novel as usually I’m hooked from the first page, with this one it was about half way through when I began to enjoy it.  If you looking for a light-hearted fun read then this could be for you, if you’re a Kinsella fan you may feel a little disappointed as I feels it lacks the Kinsella magic in many of her other books.
I’d give this book a rating of 3/5.