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.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Blog Tour Review: The Girls of Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke

The Girls of Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke
Published: 1st August 2017
Publisher: Aria
Pages: 340
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Love, marriage, birth, death and betrayal make up life in Mulberry Lane, perfect for fans of Nadine Dorries and Cathy Sharp.
Maureen Jackson is a prisoner of her father's blackmail. Three years ago, she'd been hoping to marry Rory, the man of her dreams. However after her mother's death Maureen was left to care and work for the overbearing father who claimed he couldn't manage without her. Now Rory is back in London with a pregnant wife in tow and reminds Maureen of the life that should have been hers.
Janet Ashley is the daughter of Peggy and Laurence, landlords of the local pub The Dog and Pheasant on Mulberry Lane. With the war looming, Janet hopes to marry her sweetheart Mike, but her father refuses to grant them his blessing. Going against his wishes Janet finds herself pregnant and Peggy is determined to hold her family together at all costs.
The Girls of Mulberry Lane is the first in a series set in London's East End during WW2.


The Girls of Mulberry Lane is the first novel I’ve read by Rosie Clarke and it tells the tale of three women who live on the lane Maureen, Peggy and her daughter Janet and their changing lives as war breaks out.

Maureen lives with her father and runs the local grocery store. Maureen gave up her dreams of marrying Rory the love of her life when her mother died and her father begged her to stay with him. Years later Maureen is regretting the decision as she’s beginning to feel trapped and when she meets Rory again and finds out he’s married someone else her heart breaks a little more. Maureen tries to open her heart to other men but despite his unavailability its Rory she still yearns for.

Peggy runs the local pub the Pig & Whistle with her husband Laurence. She’s an optimistic and hard-working women who just wants the best for her family, keeping them happy and safe when the war breaks out. Peggy seems the typical lovable landlady and is a favourite among the residents of Mulberry Lane as she is always seeming to be helping someone.

Peggy’s daughter Janet is eighteen and desperately in love with Mike, she’s looking forward to being married to Mike and living round the corner from her mum and being settled and happy. When Mike’s brother returns from the Navy and convinces Mike it’s something he should do to Janet’s future plans look set to be destroyed.

As war breaks out things change on Mulberry Lane and all three of these women have life changing journeys to work through. Janet is the one who has to face the biggest changes in her life as her love for Mike means she must make some difficult decisions which lead her through some traumatic times. I loved that despite the difficulties she faces Janet remains optimistic for her happy ever after and shows she may be young but she has an incredible amount of inner strength.

Maureen also faces big changes in her life as she tries to move on from loving Rory. I loved how much more confident she grew with wise words from her gran and friend Anne. Maureen’s gran was one of my favourite additional characters and regardless of her age she seems to go on and on. I loved how she wasn’t won over by her son’s devious ways and looking out for Maureen was her number one priority.

Peggy’s changes are not as dramatic as the other two girls as she realises her happy marriage is not as it seems but perhaps Peggy has further to go on her journey in the next Mulberry Lane book (fingers crossed).

I loved the way Rosie Clarke has totally captured the spirit of East End life in this book, warts and all. Even though the majority of the plot is just ordinary life as the residents adapt to the new wartime ways I found it fascinating. Among the more loveable characters such as Peggy, Maureen and Janet there are also some devious and truly awful people brought to life just as well, Rory’s wife Velma being at the top, she was such a heartless character with no shame.

As the book drew to a close each characters story is tied up loosely enough to end the book well but there is also things left which can be developed into another book which I loved. I enjoyed everything about this book and it was full of drama, romance and secrets and I found it a perfect example of its genre.

Thank you so much to Aria for the copy to review and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland

Wilde Like Me

Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland
Published: 1st July 2017
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Pages: 400
Available in Hardcover and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

You'll never forget the day you meet Robin Wilde!

Robin Wilde is an awesome single mum. She's great at her job. Her best friend Lacey and bonkers Auntie Kath love her and little Lyla Blue to the moon and back. From the outside, everything looks just fine.

But behind the mask she carefully applies every day, things sometimes feel . . . grey. And lonely.

After 4 years (and 2 months and 24 days!) of single-mum-dom, it's time for Robin Wilde to Change. Her. Life!

A little courage, creativity and help from the wonderful women around her go a long way. And Robin is about to embark on quite an adventure . . .

I was sent a sampler of Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland from the publishers and after reading it I was desperate to read the rest of Robin’s story, luckily for me I was then sent the full copy to review but this is one of those books I think every woman should read.
Robin has been a single mum to Lyla for just over four years and on the outside she appears to have everything sorted. She’s an amazing mum to Lyla, great at her job as a make-up artist and loved by those closest to her, best friend Lacey and Auntie Kath. But on the inside Robin is struggling with life and on many days she feels grey and alone. She struggles to connect with fellow school mums, goes from one dating disaster to the next and fights to find anything in her cluttered up house.  One day Robin decides enough is enough and it’s time to get her life back on track. As Robin starts to grab life with both hands things start to happen and maybe….just maybe Robin can have the life she longs for.
I loved Robin from page one of this book she’s full of sass and attitude and such overwhelming love for daughter Lyla that you just can’t help but cheer for her. I could totally identify with her moments of uncertainty about her life, we’ve all been through rough times and what I loved about Robin was she never gave up.
I wasn’t totally convinced by her whole concept of needing a man to feel complete, especially some of the men which meets for dates, but towards the end of the novel she loses this notion and realises she’s great on her own.
I found this book extremely light-hearted and full of fun even though there are some more serious themes making appearances.  One of my favourite scenes involved Robin’s daughter Lyla playing on her phone and having a go on Tinder, so funny to read how mortified Robin is. Another of my favourite scenes involved the Easter Bonnet completion at school. I just loved the reactions of most of the characters in this scene, just brilliant.
I have not encountered Louise Pentland in the world of YouTube so have no pre-conceptions of her as an author. I really enjoyed reading Wilde Like Me for the light-hearted and inspiring book its meant to be. For me it would make the ideal relaxation read, perfect for a beach holiday. I’d love to read more of Robin’s story whether it mirrors Louise’s own life or not.
Thank you to Emily at Bonnier Zaffre for sending me a copy to review.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Blog Tour Review: The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin

The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin
Published: 10th August 2017
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 310
Available in Hardcover and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

When Caitlin left London for New York, she thought she'd left her problems behind: her alcoholic father, her dead mother, the unrelenting pressure to succeed. But now, down to her last dollar in a strange city, she is desperately lonely.
Then she finds Jake. Handsome, smart, slightly damaged Jake. And he wants her to meet his family.
He takes her to a lake house in the middle of the woods – in the middle of nowhere. The community there live off-grid. They believe in regular exercise and group therapy. And they're friendly. Really friendly.
Turns out they're not Jake's real family – but isn't family exactly what she's running from?
But as the days drift by, Caitlin starts to feel uneasy. Now that she's no longer running, does she risk getting lost forever?

Emma Dibdin’s debut novel The Room by the Lake is a cleverly written and chilling insight into cult life experienced through our main character Caitlin’s eyes.

Caitlin has arrived in New York after fleeing London and her troubles. Her mother has recently died and she can’t bear to fight with her father over his alcoholism anymore. So she leaves her house, throws her phone in the river and gets on a plane to New York. But now she’s here she desperately lonely, bored and starting to run out of money. Then one night she meets Jake, handsome rugged and slightly damaged she’s instantly drawn to him. After spending a week together Jake asks her to come and visit his family’s lake house a few hours away. Reluctantly Caitlin agrees but she’s not sure more family is what she needs. When she arrives she realises they are not his actual family but a group of people living off-grid and following a regime of exercise, mind therapy and special diets. They seem friendly enough so Caitlin agrees to stay for a while but it’s not long before she starts to get an uneasy feeling about exactly what is going on in this lakeside community.

Right from the start this book made me feel a little unnerved and I felt worried for Caitlin, who seems very lost. She tries to strike up random conversations with strangers in order to become part of their world but this doesn’t work and leaves her more desperate. When she meets Jake she feels like she’s struck gold he seems perfect as he gives her the affection she’s been longing for. I found it very scary just how easily Caitlin was convinced to stay at the lakeside community. She doesn’t seem to question any part of the authority which leader figure Don has instilled in her almost instantly, but then this is what Caitlin has been craving from her father, someone to set boundaries and give punishments.

The majority of the other characters in this book remain a little vague but this works well in the setting they are in, all their personalities seem to mould together and form a united view of the world. The only character other than Jake and Caitlin that I liked was Tyra. There are moments when we see the fun loving cheeky girl she used to be, I wish there had been more of these moments.

There is an eeriness to this book which slowly builds throughout the book making it a very gripping story as you want to read more to find out what this bad thing you’re dreading is. Emma Dibdin has created the perfect atmosphere for this genre and created a very intense read which you won’t be able to put down. As a debut novel I think The Room by the Lake is brilliant and I’m looking forward to what Emma Dibdin has to offer next.

Thank you to Head of Zeus for sending me this copy to review and for inviting me on this blog tour.