Friday, 24 November 2017

Blog Tour Review: The Haunting of Hattie Hastings: Part One by Audrey Davis


The Haunting of Hattie Hastings: Part One by Audrey Davis
Published: 24th November 2017
Pages: 90
Available on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb

Some people just won't take death lying down … ! (NB: cliffhanger ending).

Part one of a fun-filled trilogy about life, death and letting go.
Hattie Hastings is happily married, even if husband Gary drives her up the wall at times. When tragedy strikes, she is left alone and heartbroken, with only an assortment of family and friends to prop her up.
Struggling to cope, she is left reeling when her deceased other half returns, popping up at the most inappropriate times.
Hattie can't convince anyone that Gary has returned. Not even best friend Cat – now free from the cruel and controlling Stewart – will believe her.
Why has Gary returned? And what will Cat do when her slimy ex-husband tries to worm his way back into her affections?
The Haunting of Hattie Hastings will make you laugh, cry and count down until Part Two …

Review
The Haunting of Hattie Hastings part one is part of a three part novella written by Audrey Davis. Hattie has recently lost husband Gary after a car accidentally ran into him while he was taking out the dustbin. Just as Hattie is beginning to come to terms with Gary’s passing she begins to notice half-drunk glasses of whisky all-round the house, the drink Gary loved every night. Assuming its son Johnny Hattie thinks nothing of it until Gary appears to her and begins talking. Hattie’s totally thrown, especially as he disappears just as quickly and nobody else seems to believe her. 
There’s no doubting this is a funny read, Audrey Davis has excellent comedy timing which translates in to some great scenes. Gary is quite uncouth and doesn’t mince his words but I felt like he was a loveable rouge who just adored Hattie and for that reason I found myself warming to him. I felt we didn’t really get to know Hattie very much but I’m sure that will come in later parts.
I did feel there was a lot to take in such a short read with viewpoints from Hattie, Johnny, her best friend Cat, her mother Rachel and brother Jack and of course Gary. Some interesting plotlines have been laid down so I’m interested to see where this story goes with its next instalment, which I hope is on the way soon.
About Audrey Davis

Scottish-born Audrey studied journalism in Edinburgh more decades ago than she cares to admit. She cut her writing teeth on provincial newspapers (using a typewriter) and a London-based video magazine (another sign of her advanced years).

Engagement to her now-husband Bill took them to Singapore, Australia and Buckinghamshire, England, before they settled in Switzerland in 2002. Along the way they had two boys, both all grown-up and living in the UK.

Her journey to becoming a published author began with an online Writing Fiction course. It took well over a year but, in June 2017, Audrey published her debut romantic comedy novel, A Clean Sweep. It was quickly followed by a shorter and darker prequel, A Clean Break.
The idea for The Haunting of Hattie Hastings came from nowhere, just a random title that popped into her head and from there grew into Part One of a trilogy. It comes under the same genre, but has some poignant scenes and – hopefully – lots of laughs! Audrey admits to being a worrier, and has always used humour as a defence mechanism, as her friends will attest.

When Audrey isn’t writing, she loves shows like The Walking Dead, American Horror Story and Strictly Come Dancing (a strange mix, she knows). Her interests include cooking (and eating pretty much anything apart from oysters), travelling and going to the gym. OK, the last one is mainly to compensate for her passion for food!

Audrey would describe herself as a ‘pantser’ rather than a ‘planner’, preferring to run where a story takes her and scribble copious notes along the way. She’d love to write a page-turning thriller, but fears her natural tendency to see the comic side of life might be an obstacle.

Thank you to the publishers and Rachel Gilby for inviting me to be part of the blog tour and for sending me a copy to review.





Thursday, 23 November 2017

Blog Tour Review: Christmas Angels by Nadine Dorries


Christmas Angels by Nadine Dorries
Published: 16th November 2017
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 336
Available in Paperback and in Kindle
Rating: 5/5 

Blurb
Christmas is the most harrowing time of year for the nurses of St Angelus Hospital.
A brilliant nurse secretly battling a fatal illness over Christmas... A starving baby boy abandoned in the freezing cold... A cruel, controlling mother, determined to block her daughter's nursing career at all costs...
In the run up to Christmas, nurses Pammy and Beth are aiming to win the coveted national decorating competition for the St Angelus children's ward, but drama after drama threatens to upset their plans.
Amid the hardship and poverty of 1950s Liverpool, only the humour and community spirit of nurses and patients will get the Angels through their toughest Christmas yet.

Review

Christmas Angels by Nadine Dorries is the forth book in the Lovely Lane series.  It features characters working in the St. Angelus hospital in Liverpool and living on Lovely Lane.  This could easily be read as a standalone but I think you will find more enjoyment if you have read the previous novels as some characters do carry over. I was a little sad that Dana and Victoria from the previous story do not feature in this novel but there are plenty of characters in this novel to love, Sister Paige being a favourite of mine.

The story starts with Maura and Tom Doherty, residents of Lovely Lane who are caring for their little girl Angela who is suffering from a chest infection. She is admitted to the hospital which leaves Maura sick with worry as this was at the very beginnings at the NHS and hospitals were still seen as scary places for most people. 

On the wards Sister Tapp is battling a hidden illness while determined to still give her patients on the children’s ward their best Christmas ever and newly appointed Sister Paige is trying to balance her working life with the demands of her manipulative mother.

Beth and Pammy are enjoying the Christmas festivities and determined that their ward will win the best decorated ward competition, but things are thrown into turmoil when little baby Louis is found neglected and abandoned in a locked up garage. Little Louis wins the hearts of all those around him and the whole hospital are praying he pulls through and gets better.

This is a beautifully written novel which had me totally absorbed from the start, it’s a novel which I struggled to put down as it pulled on the heartstrings bigtime with how emotional it is. I can pretty much guarantee if you read this you will shed a tear or two, especially with the storyline of baby Louis.

It is a novel which makes you feel as if you are there alongside the nurses and staff of St. Angelus as daily life is described in such a way that makes reading about housework captivating. This attention to detail brings to life the joys and heartache of Lovely Lane, especially in this novel where Christmas features heavily. You can picture how magical the children’s ward must have looked once the nurses had decorated and can imagine how enchanting it would be to hear the nurses singing on Christmas Eve. This is a novel which for me brings alive the true magic of Christmas of sharing, rejoicing and letting those we love know just how special they really are.

Despite featuring many storylines Nadine Dorries has managed to seamlessly work them all together to make a truly stunning read with an ending which works perfectly. I’m hoping there is another novel featuring the characters of Lovely Lane as I don’t think I could tire of reading about them ever, but I have a feeling this book could be the last one.

Thank you so much to Head of Zeus for sending me a copy to review and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour, I adored this book so much.

Monday, 13 November 2017

The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake


The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake
Published: 21st September 2017
Publisher: Little Brown
Pages: 336
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Blurb
It's autumn in Yulethorpe and everyone is gloomy. It's cold, drizzly and the skies are permagrey. The last shop on the high street - an adorable little toy shop - has just shut its doors. Everything is going wrong for Yulethorpe this autumn. Until Clara Kristensen arrives.
Clara is on holiday but she can see the potential in the pretty town, so she rolls up her sleeves and sets to work. Things are looking up until Joe comes to Yulethorpe to find out exactly what is going on with his mother's shop. Joe is Very Busy and Important in the City and very sure that Clara is up to no good. Surely no one would work this hard just for the fun of it?
Can a man who answers emails at 3 a. m. learn to appreciate the slower, happier, hygge things in life - naps, candles, good friends and maybe even falling in love?

Review
Rosie Blake and Christmas has been a winning combination for me in the past so I was really looking forward to reading this, especially as Hygge is something I’ve being wanting to know more about. With The Hygge Holiday Rosie Blake has created the perfect cosy romantic novel and one which I adored from start to finish.
Clara has arrived in Yulethorpe on holiday and immediately sees a chance to help out toyshop owner Louise. As Louise packs her bags and heads to Spain Clara agrees to look after the rundown toyshop and Louise’s pet’s comical parrot Lady CaCa and sleepy cat Roddy.
Implementing her love of the Danish way of life Clara transforms Louise’s chaotic flat making it more Hygge and somewhere I would definitely want to be on a cold winters evening. She then moves onto the toyshop and the descriptions of how Clara transformed the toyshop can only be described as magical and something I would love to have experienced, they must have brought so much joy to the residents of Yulethorpe.
Everything’s going well for Clara and she’s beginning to feel settled and at home in Yulethorpe something she hasn’t felt for so long, until Louise’s uptight workaholic son Joe arrives. Having experienced the hectic city life herself Clara decides to make it her mission to Hygge Joe and bring him a calmer way of life. But Joe has other ideas about what Clara should be doing which aren’t quite as friendly.
Despite Joe’s reluctance to embrace Clara’s ethos he wasn’t all bad as the children had him crafting along with them by the end of the story. Then there is a certain bath scene which had me in absolute stitches, after that you couldn’t really take him too seriously!
There are many wonderful characters in this novel but the one that gave me the most laughs was actually Lady CaCa, Louise’s pet parrot who repeats movie quotes at the most awkward moments which end up being hilarious as they seem to coincide perfectly with events which are happening between Joe and Clara.
The Hygge Holiday is the cosiest most uplifting novel I’ve read in a long time and one which I utterly adored. It’s the perfect read for cosy nights in and a book I think everyone should read.
Thank you so much to the publishers and Netgalley for sending me a copy to review.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Blog Tour Review: Wilde in Love by Eloisa James


Wilde in Love by Eloisa James
Published: 31st October 2017
Publisher: Piatkus
Pages: 416
Available in Paperback and Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
Lord Alaric Wilde, son of the Duke of Lindow, is the most celebrated man in England, revered for his dangerous adventures and rakish good looks.
Arriving home from years abroad, he has no idea of his own celebrity until his boat is met by mobs of screaming ladies. Alaric escapes to his father's castle, but just as he grasps that he's not only famous but notorious, he encounters the very private, very witty, Miss Willa Ffynche.
Willa presents the fa├žade of a serene young lady to the world. Her love of books and bawdy jokes is purely for the delight of her intimate friends. She wants nothing to do with a man whose private life is splashed over every newspaper.
Alaric has never met a woman he wanted for his own . . . until he meets Willa. He's never lost a battle.
But a spirited woman like Willa isn't going to make it easy . . .


Review

Wilde in Love in the first book in Eloisa James’ new series surrounding the Wilde family.  This is the first book by Ms. James that I have read so wasn’t really sure what to expect, what I found was a beautiful enchanting romance between two very headstrong characters.

Lord Alaric Wilde has spent the last few years traveling the world and engaging in daring and dangerous adventures, he has now returned home a celebrity after writing about his adventures in a couple of books. At home he finds himself surrounded by adoring women declaring their undying love for him and falling at his feet. That is all except the beautiful Miss Willa Ffynche, who can scarcely bring herself to even smile at Alaric. Never been one to resist a challenge, Alaric is determined that Willa shall be his, however he underestimates her and soon falls madly in love with her.

Willa Ffynche is a beautiful young orphan with her own fortune, she has been living with her ward Mrs Gray and her best friend Lavinia for the past few years. Willa and Lavinia are not your typical society girls and have brains and beauty, a combination many men have found off-putting as they want a docile wife. Both girls seem to resist the charms of handsome Alaric when they first meet but even Willa struggles to control her feelings around this man, something that has never happened to her before. Despite rebuking him at every opportunity Alaric doesn’t give up on his quest for Willa and eventually she begins to feel that this handsome adventurer might just be the man for after all.

At first I struggled to get into this book, I can’t put my finger on quite why, perhaps the number of characters being introduced or the notion of people wearing wigs, this is still something that I can’t seem to get my head round, which is probably a sign I need to read more of this genre. However after a couple of chapters I was totally drawn into the budding romance of Willa and Alaric. What starts out as two characters who seem to repel each other soon turns into a passionate romance and the journey getting there was full of witty conversations and minor incidents which all add to the magic of this romance.

This was a great read with everything you want in a romance novel and I’m really looking forward to the next book in the Wilde series.

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




Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Blog Tour Review: The Forgotten Children by Anita Davison


The Forgotten Children by Anita Davison
Published: 1st November 2017
Publisher: Aria
Pages: 544
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Blurb

The forgotten children of London are going missing, apparently being sold by their own families. Can she save them before it's too late...

Flora Maguire’s life is perfect – a beautiful home in Belgravia teeming with servants, a loving husband, and new baby Arthur to enjoy.  But when she is invited to tour St Philomena’s Children’s Hospital in deprived Southwark, she gets a harsh insight into the darker side of Edwardian London.

Shocked by the conditions people are living in, she soon uncovers a scandal with a dark heart – children are going missing from the hospital, apparently sold by their own families, and their fate is too awful to imagine. With the police seemingly unable or unwilling to investigate, Flora teams up with the matron of the hospital, Alice Finch, to try to get to the bottom of it.

Soon Flora is immersed in the seedy, dangerous underbelly of criminal London, and time is running out to save the children. Will they get to them in time, or was their fate decided the day they were born poor…

Review

The Forgotten Children is the forth novel by Anita Davison in the Flora Maguire series, something I wish I’d known before I started reading this book as I would have loved to have read this series from the start as I enjoyed The Forgotten Children immensely.

Flora and her husband Bunny are invited to visit the St. Philomena’s Children’s hospital in a less desirable part of London. While on their visit one of the young student nurses Lizzie Prentice is found dead in the hospital courtyard, many are quick to assume she slipped and hit her head but Flora’s investigative nature feels there’s something not right about the young woman’s death. Later Flora meets with hospital Matron Alice Finch who confides in Flora that some recent patients from the hospital have not returned for check-ups and she fears they have gone missing.  Loving a mystery Flora vows to help Alice find out what happened to these missing children and if there is any connection to the young nurse.

I loved Flora as a main character, she tries to appear as a woman of the world with all her investigation skills but her she still showed some naivety, especially when visiting the homes of the poor children who have gone missing. This made her more real for me as showed she has some things to learn and isn’t perfect like many society ladies are portrayed to be.

There is also a real mix of other characters from both ends of society and it was surprising just how many of them had their own secrets to hide. This added more enjoyment to the already twisty mystery which Anita Davison has written.  She has also managed to bring all aspects of the story to a suitable conclusion, which is good but I hope that this is not the end of Flora as I would love to go on another investigation with her.

For me this was a fantastic read and one I can’t fault, it had great characters a good sense of place and a believable plotline that flowed well and was resolved completely. It would be a great read for fans of Frances Brody or Lindsey Hutchinson.

Thank you so much to Aria for sending me a copy to review and inviting me on the blog tour. I look forward to reading more from Anita Davison very soon.



Sunday, 5 November 2017

Blog Tour Review: The Murderess by Jennifer Wells


The Murderess by Jennifer Wells
Published: 1st November 2017
Publisher: Aria
Pages:  432
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5


Blurb
The Murderess is a heart-stopping story of family, love, passion and betrayal set against the backdrop of war-ravaged Britain. Perfect for fans of Lesley Pearce and Dilly Court.

1931: Fifteen year old Kate witnesses her mother Millicent push a stranger from a station platform into the path of an oncoming train. There was no warning, seemingly no reason, and absolutely no remorse.

1940: Exactly nine years later, Kate returns to the station and notices a tramp laying flowers on the exact spot that the murder was committed; the identity of the victim, still remains unknown.

With a country torn apart by war and her family estate and name in tatters, Kate has nothing to lose as she attempts to uncover family secrets that date back to the Great War and solve a mystery that blights her family name.

Review
The Murderess is a story which starts in a gruesome way, its 1931 and fifteen year old Kate is waiting to board the train when she her mother push an innocent woman into an oncoming train. Nine years later and her mother may be granted parole, still unsure how she feels about exactly what happened that day Kate sets out to find out exactly what happened that day at the station.
This novel is written with a duel narrative spanning over twenty-five years, we hear from Kate in the present day 1940 trying to solve the mysterious events of that fateful day and also from Millicent, Kate’s mother in 1916 when she longing is to provide her husband with an heir. I loved how this worked as it gave an insight into both main female characters.
As the story unfolds so many betrayals are uncovered that it’s hard to know which character to sympathize with Millicent, Kate or even poor servant Rosalie as all experience betrayal from the person they love the most. I think its Kate who deserves the most empathy though as she has to live with the consequences of all the other characters and the one who has to deal with all the gossip as people learn she’s the murderess’ daughter.
I really enjoyed reading this book, I did work out what the mystery was before it was all revealed to Kate but I still wasn’t prepared for that ending. I found this a well written book which kept my interest until the end and look forward to reading more from Ms. Wells in the future.
Thank you to Netgalley and Aria for sending me a copy to review and inviting me to be part of this blog tour.




Saturday, 4 November 2017

Blog Tour Review: Stuck with You by Anna Premoli


Stuck with You by Anna Premoli
Published: 1st November 2017
Publisher: Aria 
Pages: 460
Available in paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
Lavinia Ferrari is in her fifth year at Bocconi University where she studies Economics when she is introduced to a new project that will guarantee her extra credits. She's intrigued... but it means the class must team up with students from the Computer Engineering course. Lavinia has absolutely no interest in the project, and to top things off, she's paired with Seb Marconi who is less than enthusiastic.

When the work begins, her friends seem to be making great progress with their partners, but Lavinia isn't having the same luck... Seb is making it quite clear that he's not interested in the project, or Lavinia, fuelling her frustration.

She has no choice – they're stuck in this, and besides, she won't receive her extra credits unless they work together. Lavinia must come up with a way to convince the guy who drives her crazy to put the work in... but how?

Review
Stuck with You is the latest novel by Anna Premoli and features the story of Lavinia and Sebastiano. Lavinia is in her final year of studying a master’s degree in economics, as part her final year credits she has to take part in an inter-university start-up project meaning she will be paired to work with someone in the computer sciences department at another university across town. Lavinia is paired with Sebastiano and it’s safe to say they have a very frosty start. Reclusive genius Sebastiano is reluctant to take part in the project and gives Lavinia a terrible time racing round Milan trying to convince him to work with her. Eventually she manages thaw Sebastiano out enough to complete the project. Then it gets complicated as both Lavinia and Sebastiano realise they might have more than a business relationship developing.
It took me awhile to get my head round the idea that this book is set in Italy, to me it had a very American vibe to it the way the characters acted and the way the university was described. There is nothing really mentioned in the book to tie it to Milan except maybe the use of motorbikes but even then it could be set anywhere.
I also felt that both Lavinia and Sebastiano acted much younger than they are supposed to be. The whole attitudes of both characters and their behaviours seemed like they were teenagers experiencing their first crush then students in their twenties. They bickered with each other all the time, followed each other round, stalking theirs social media accounts it all seemed a bit childish considering these two are supposed to be studying for masters degrees.
Lavinia and Sebastiano couldn’t be two more different people.  Lavinia is an easy going conscious student who is constantly smiling and aims to make everyone like her. Sebastiano is a computer genius whose already been hounded by programmers in the Silicon Valley, he keeps himself to himself and has a critical attitudes to everything. Lavinia is a social media addict posting selfies daily whereas Sebastiano loathes social media and its invasion of privacy.
However one thing is certain these two have bucket loads of chemistry between them and reading this develop into something more was a joy to read. I loved all the arguments they had over seemingly everything, the way the held each other’s hands slightly more than necessary and I was longing for them to admit their feelings for each other.
This is lovely light-hearted romance with some quirky characters and funny moments. It was a joy to read even though it’s perhaps more suitable to a younger reader than myself.
Thank you to Aria for sending me a copy to review and for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.