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Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Audiobook Review: This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell

Happy Galentines day! Yup – tis the day to lavish your gal-pals with lots of love. Tell them how much they mean to you. Send them something special – even if it’s just a virtual hug. Love comes in so many different forms, and the deep love that exists between friends is so very important…

And that leads me nicely into today’s audiobook review for Jill Mansell’s stunning This Could Change Everything. This was my most recent choice for my Audible download of the month- and I couldn’t have chosen better.

Before I get into the heart of the review, can I just give the biggest shout-out to its amazing narrator, Imogen Church. She is awesome and frankly, I’d like to hire her to read me a bed-time story every night for the rest of my life. Accents and humour and panache and timing – yep I have a girl crush. I only finished listening last night- but Imogen, I’m missing you!

Sooo- onto the book itself. This could Change Everything is warm, funny and moving and has at its heart one of my favourite characters of all time in the shape of Zillah – a super-stylish and sassy octogenarian with a penchant for fabulous hats and changing people’s lives.

When Essie’s life implodes, things feel like they are about to take a turn for the (even) worse- when by sheer coincidence she meets Zillah. As Essie begins to adjust to the new shape of her life, she finds herself a part of the complex community of characters that revolve around her new place of work, The Red House, and the beautiful Percival Square.

Jill Mansell’s superpower seems to be writing characters that are so real, you feel like you’re inside the story with them. They are 3-dimensional - fallible and warm and loathsome and likeable in turn. And so bloody funny.

It’s rare that I say this about an audiobook- but I know that I’ll be listening to this one again and again. And I’ll also be picking up a hardback copy for when I want to read it too. I adore this book and everything about it. With its themes of kindness and friendship, cause and effect, and the links that exist between one human being and another, this is a unique story that you’ll want to lose yourself in again and again.

Grab Your Copy Here:

Audio book:                      Hardback:                          EBook:
 .          .          

The Blurb:

If only Essie hadn't written that letter - the one that went viral...

On the one hand, if Essie hadn't written that letter - the one that only her best friend was meant to see - then she'd still be living like an actual proper grown-up, tucked up with Paul in his picture-perfect cottage, maybe even planning their wedding...

On the other hand (if her true feelings hadn't accidentally taken the internet by storm, that is) she wouldn't have moved into the attic flat on the square. She would never have met Zillah and Conor - not to mention Lucas. And she'd never have found out just how much life there is to be lived....

And she wouldn't have found herself falling in love with someone she really, really shouldn't fall in love with...

About The Author:

Jill Mansell is the author of over twenty Sunday Times bestsellers including THE ONE YOU REALLY WANT, TO THE MOON AND BACK, YOU AND ME, ALWAYS and MEET ME AT BEACHCOMBER BAY. TAKE A CHANCE ON ME won the RNA's Romantic Comedy Prize, and in 2015 the RNA presented Jill with an outstanding achievement award.

Jill's personal favourite amongst her novels is THREE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT YOU, which is about cystic fibrosis and organ donation; to her great delight, many people have joined the organ donor register as a direct result of reading this novel.

Jill started writing fiction while working in the NHS, after she read a magazine article that inspired her to join a local creative writing class. Her first book was published in 1991 and she is now a full-time novelist. She is one of the few who still write their books by hand, like a leftover from the dark ages. She lives in Bristol with her family.

Jill keeps in touch with her readers on Twitter @JillMansell and Facebook. You can also visit her website www.jillmansell.co.uk

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Blogtour: Audiobook Review: Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

I’m thrilled to be today’s tour stop for Linda MacDonald’s intriguing audiobook, Meeting Lydia.

I really enjoyed listening to Meeting Lydia. It follows the story of Marianne as she faces an incredibly difficult period in her life- the big, bad M (menopause) – something of a taboo subject in fiction, I feel- there’s not much written about it in your average commercial fiction read.

Anyway, Marianne is busy battling demons. Some come from an undercurrent of jealousy and insecurity about her husband and his female colleague, others from the scars she has carried from her childhood bullying at school. As her confidence in herself weakens and her grasp of reality begins to unravel, she seeks answers by tracking down an old classmate… but will he be the person she remembers? Will he live up to the image she has build around him? And what will this do to her ‘real’ life?

The narrative is cleverly dated. Marianne uses Friends Reunited to track down her old classmate. The site was launched in 2000 and shut down in 2016… and there’s no doubting that it was completely out of vogue long before that- especially as, let’s face it- you’d have used Facebook as the free alternative. FB was launched in 2004 and even I had cottoned onto it by 2008. Also, this story was told in a time period where there was still some magic to sending emails to people – there was still something a bit new and glamorous about them.

Meeting Lydia examines a whole host of interesting topics; jealousy, the menopause, early online relationships and dating, online safety and ethics, emotional infidelity and the deep psychological damage that bullying can leave you with. It is an interesting story set at a time of huge digital upheaval and development, and I thoroughly enjoyed the questions it raised.

Grab Yours Here:


The Blurb:

When Marianne comes home from work one day to find her husband talking to a glamorous woman in the kitchen, insecurities resurface from a time when she was bullied at school. Jealousy rears its head and her marriage begins to fall apart. Desperate for a solution, she finds herself trying to track down her first schoolgirl crush: Edward Harvey. Even thinking his name made her tingle with half-remembered childlike giddiness. Edward Harvey, the only one from Brocklebank to whom she might write if she found him.

Meeting Lydia is a book about childhood bullying, midlife crises, obsession, jealousy and the ever-growing trend of Internet relationships. It will appeal to fans of adult fiction and those interested in the dynamics and psychology of relationships. Author Linda is inspired by Margaret Atwood, Fay Weldon and David Lodge. 

About The Narrator:

I've always loved doing voices.  I grew up with Radio 4 being on constantly in the background. Somehow the voices and accents broadcast over the years soaked in. And now I do voices. Or if you ask my agent, I'm a "voice artist". 
For the last seven years I've spent most of my days in front of a microphone: as myself; as seven-year-old boys; talking baboons; angsty teenagers (usually American); androgynous talking cats; Glaswegian Grannies; the cast of The Archers...  

After university I trained at The Oxford School of Drama and then acted mainly with touring theatre companies - some brilliant, some not so... I had a lot of fun, but once I started doing voiceovers in warm studios with good coffee, being on the road lost some of its appeal.

And the voice can do much more than people think. Tone, timing, pitch and accent can all vary depending on the job. From commercials and corporates to cartoons, computer games and audiobooks, it's a brilliant job and, really, I owe it all to Radio 4.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Blogtour: Review: The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd

Hi guys, I’m back! Hello 2018.

So, today I kick off my year of reviews with an absolute corker- and I’m delighted to be one of today’s stops on The Innocent Wife blogtour.

The Innocent Wife may be Amy Lloyd’s debut, but her style is assured, complex and… well, let’s just say it… completely creepy. The book follows the story of Sam – a British woman who becomes intrigued and obsessed with Dennis Danson – convicted for a horrific murder just before he turned 18, and currently sat on death row. Along with countless other fans of a true-crime documentary on Dennis, Sam is convinced that he is innocent. But unlike most of the others on the chat rooms- Sam is determined to do something about it.

Their relationship is fuelled at first by letters, but it’s not long before Sam embarks on a journey that takes her to the man she loves.

I don’t think there was a single character amongst the main players in The Innocent Wife that I fully liked or trusted. Doubt, mistrust and unease are woven throughout the narrative. I know it’s a clichĂ©, but the author truly does keep you guessing as to their true natures right up until the end. And what an end. Say no more- no spoilers here!

This is a creepy read which examines obsession, guilt and misplaced trust. Heads up- it’s very tense, but it does also turn fairly graphic at times. Brilliant book and one I won’t be forgetting about in a hurry!

Grab your copy here:

Kindle:                            Hardback:

The Blurb:

Twenty years ago, Dennis Danson was arrested and imprisoned for the brutal murder of a young girl in Florida's Red River County. Now he's the subject of a true-crime documentary that's whipping up a frenzy online to uncover the truth and free a man who has been wrongly convicted.

A thousand miles away in England, Samantha is obsessed with Dennis's case. She exchanges letters with him, and is quickly won over by his apparent charm and kindness to her. Soon she has left her old life behind to marry him and campaign for his release.

But when the campaign is successful and Dennis is freed, Sam begins to discover new details that suggest he may not be quite so innocent after all...

About the Author:
Amy Lloyd studied English and Creative Writing at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Her writing combines her fascination with true crime and her passion for fiction. The Innocent Wife is her first novel and was borne out of a course module in university. She lives in Cardiff with her partner and two cats.

@AmyLloydWrites #TheInnocentWife

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Blog Tour: Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

I’m thrilled to be one of today’s stops on the blogtour for Gillian McAllister’s incredibly tense thriller, Anything You Do Say.

Imagine having had a couple of drinks, and then an incident with a sleazy guy freaks you out and puts you into a heightened sense of fear and paranoia as you’re walking home. And then there are footsteps following you.  And you think it’s him – and you act- and he falls and isn’t moving. And your whole life hinges around your next decision. Call 999, stay and help, reveal. Or run, don’t tell anyone, conceal.

The book splits into two different series of events- alternating each chapter between Conceal and Reveal – allowing the reader to follow the chain of events and consequences leading from each side of the decision.

The tension that McAllister creates throughout the book is exquisitely uncomfortable- and the two sides of the story means that the sources of this tension and fear are very different and have different nuances and impacts on the character and the reader.

This is a fantastic read that brings up so many moral dilemmas and day-to-day elements of discrimination. It’s two terrifying tales of the same complex character’s life unraveling – and just how easily this can happen.

Brilliantly written, unique and complex.

Grab Your Copy Here:

Kindle:                            Paperback:

The Blurb:

I could run, or I could stay and call him an ambulance. Now it is decision time . . . '

It's the end of the night. You're walking home on your own.

Then you hear the sound every woman dreads. Footsteps. Behind you. Coming fast.

You're sure it's him - the man from the bar who wouldn't leave you alone.

You make a snap decision. You turn. You push. Your pursuer tumbles down the steps. He lies motionless, face-down on the floor.

Now What?

Call 999
Wait for the police to arrive. For judgement, for justice, whatever that may be. You just hope you husband, family and friends, everyone you love, will stand by you.


Stay silent. You didn't mean to do it. You were scared, you panicked. And no one saw. No one will ever know. If you leave now. If you keep quiet. Forever.

Which is it to be?

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Blogtour: Review: No One Ever Has Sex On Christmas Day by Tracy Bloom

My first Christmas book of the year- and it couldn’t have been a better start to the festive reading season. No One Ever Has Sex On Christmas Day tracks the lead up to Christmas for a gloriously nutty array of characters – moving from the everyday at the beginning of the novel to super-festive-feel-good-vibes at the end.

Tracy Bloom effortlessly weaves the characters from her previous two books into this emotionally explosive, chaotic and hilarious Christmas romp. This seems like a good place to say that the book works beautifully as a stand-alone as I haven’t had the pleasure of reading the first two books in the series- and I was able to follow the plot, fall in love (love-hate that is!) with the characters and not feel like I’d missed anything.

Far from being a sugary-sweet offering, No One Ever Has Sex On Christmas Day is very real, with flawed and memorable characters working through some serious issues (and hormones). It’s funny, pithy and the characters are well rounded and certainly show the more challenging sides to their personalities.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and absolutely fell in love with the ending- which is just about perfect. I couldn’t have started my Christmas reading with a better book.

The Blurb:

A dream family Christmas or a total nightmare? Katy and Ben are about to find out...

Katy’s been stuck in the office away from her family so she wants it all: snow (fake or real), the Michael BublĂ© Christmas album, whatever it takes. 

There’s only one thing missing as far as her husband Ben is concerned: another baby to complete their family. But Katy isn’t so sure she's ready yet…

Ben may be playing the role of Master Elf in the pre-school nativity but he is struggling to master his own family life. With romantically-challenged friends, an ex who refuses to go away and Katy's mum's 64-year-old toy boy thrown into the mix, Christmas looks like it could be going off the rails… Never mind family planning, can Katy and Ben even plan to make it to the end of Christmas Day? 

From the no. 1 bestselling author of No-one Ever Has Sex on a Tuesday, this book will make you cry with laughter, and then book your flights abroad for the festive season. Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella and Milly Johnson

Grab Your Copy Here:

Kindle:                             Paperback:

About The Author:

Tracy started writing when her cruel, heartless husband ripped her away from her dream job shopping for rollercoasters for the UK's leading theme parks, to live in America with a brand new baby and no mates. In a cunning plan to avoid domestic duties and people who didn't understand her Derbyshire accent, she wrote her romantic comedy, NO-ONE EVER HAS SEX ON A TUESDAY. This debut novel went on to be successfully published internationally and became a #1 Best Seller.

Back in the UK she has continued her writing career and has just launched her sixth book.

Author Social Media Links:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/tracybloomwrites
Twitter: www.twitter.com/TracyBBloom
Website: www.tracybloom.com

Monday, 2 October 2017

Review: The Fourth Monkey by J. D. Barker

Who’s up for reading something really, truly nasty? With a character who is clever, terrifying and makes your skin crawl… I’ve got the perfect book for you.

The Fourth Monkey will give you nightmares and flashbacks for weeks- I promise – and you’ll never think of a rat in quite the same way again.

The joy of The Fourth Money is that it isn’t just gruesome (and there were moments here when I truly felt that I was reading some of the most yuck-some moments I’ve ever encountered in fiction). Nope, The Fourth Money has a very clever plot that has been tightly woven and will keep tripping you up and turning you around. The story is dense and yet it tears along. Don’t expect much sleep. Don’t expect to want to eat for a week or so either!

Sam Porter is a fantastic character. Damaged. Dogged. Funny. A detective you can really sympathise with as well as want to boot up the behind. And as for 4MK – well blimey. I’ll be having nightmares for years.

If you like a fast paced thriller with a complex plot and plenty of stay-up-late appeal – I can’t
recommend this highly enough.

The Blurb:
Brilliant. Complicated. Psychopath.

That’s the Four Monkey Killer or ‘4MK’. A murderer with a twisted vision and absolutely no mercy.

Detective Sam Porter has hunted him for five long years, the recipient of box after box of grisly trinkets carved from the bodies of 4MK’s victims.

But now Porter has learnt the killer’s twisted history and is racing to do the seemingly impossible – find 4MK’s latest victim before it’s too late…

Grab your copy here:

Kindle:                        Hardcover:

Friday, 29 September 2017

#Friday5: 5 Ways to Seriously Upset a Book Lover ( or How to be Horrible to Books)

Do you bookmark or to dog-ear your page? How about eating and drinking whilst reading? Here are 5 things that drive many book-lovers I know to distraction…

1. You’ve moved house. The walls are wonky and the furniture just doesn’t quite sit against them properly. You’re looking around you for something to pop under the legs of your chest of drawers to even it up slightly… something slim and stable that’ll slot in just so. Ah… how about that stack of paperbacks over there? One of those under each leg will do it! (Guys- even typing this makes me feel queasy! Chocking up furniture with books is a crime. End of.)

2. There’s nothing better than reading in the bath. Relaxing back for a long soak in the bubbles with your favourite romantic heroes. But doing it with borrowed books is such a huge no-no! One little slip of the hand, or droop of the eyelids and SPLOOSH! You are on your way to making papier mache…

3. Hot cups of tea / coffee / hot chocolate popped down on top of a book. People – seriously! Book does not equals coaster. And no, just because it’s a glass of prosecco doesn’t magically make it acceptable.

4. You know the age-old controversy- to bookmark or to dog-ear your page? I’ve got something even worse to throw into the mix, something that will make any true book-lover shudder. Leaving a book open and face down. Stop it. Stop it right now!

5. Number 5 is a really personal one… but something that brings me out in a cold sweat of fear no matter how beautiful the end result. Book art. Yup – I’m talking about art that is made by cutting up or bending the pages of books to create something else- where the book can never be a book again. I don’t care which book they are made out of- it’s barbaric and sends me into a state of existential breakdown, sobbing and mourning for the book’s loss of life.

So there you have it. How to be horrible to books. Don’t. Just don’t! (Now I’m off to give my favourites a quick cuddle.)