The Dinner Guest by B P Walter

Thank you to One More Chapter and Harper Collins UK for the opportunity to read and review a digital copy via NetGalley. I’m taking part in the OMC Blogger Readalong this week and here is a mini non spoiler review.

Synopsis:

Four people walked into the dining room that night. One would never leave.

Matthew: the perfect husband.

Titus: the perfect son.

Charlie: the perfect illusion.

Rachel: the perfect stranger.

Charlie didn’t want her at the book club. Matthew wouldn’t listen.

And that’s how Charlie finds himself slumped beside his husband’s body, their son sitting silently at the dinner table, while Rachel calls 999, the bloody knife still gripped in her hand.

Classic crime meets Donna Tartt in this nerve-shredding domestic noir thriller that weaves a sprawling web of secrets around an opulent West London world and the dinner that ends in death.

My thoughts:

This was an interesting read. Rachel is arrested for the murder of Matthew after confessing to the police, but was she the killer? The synopsis mentions the word perfect four times – but were any of the four perfect?

The story moves back and forwards in time, as we discover more about how Matthew and Charlie met, and how they met Rachel. This story features secrets and lies, revenge and betrayal.

Few of the characters in the story were likeable but I was keen to keep reading, to find out who killed Matthew, and why. I enjoyed the story and I’m happy to recommend it. It is currently 99p on the Kindle in the UK.

Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

Today, I’m sharing my updated review for Saving Missy by Beth Morrey, out in paperback in the UK today. I received my copy from Readers First and read it over the weekend.

Synopsis:-

Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Woman meets dog…

The world has changed around Missy Carmichael. At seventy-nine, she’s estranged from her daughter, her son and only grandson live across the world in Australia, and her great love is gone. Missy spends her days with a sip of sherry, scrubbing the kitchen in her big empty house and reliving her past–though it’s her mistakes, and secrets, that she allows to shine brightest. The last thing Missy expects is for two perfect strangers and one spirited dog to break through her prickly exterior and show Missy just how much love she still has to give. Filled with wry laughter and deep insights into the stories we tell ourselves, Saving Missy shows us it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. It’s never too late to love.

My thoughts:-


Thank you to HarperCollins and Beth Morrey for a paperback copy via Readers First – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

This was one of my favourite books of 2020 and I have been busy recommending it. The story starts slowly as we meet Missy and find out how small her world has become. Beth Morrey has created a wonderful ensemble cast (human and canine), who work together to help Missy find friendship, family and hope.

As a dog rescuer (we adopted Jake 2 years ago and Daisy 6 months ago), I loved the relationship developing between Missy and Bobby, and the interaction with the other dog walkers. I remember the early days of wondering whether it was such a good idea to have a dog in the house, but very quickly they become your best friend, especially during lockdown. Missy finds herself being able to tell Bobby things she doesn’t feel able to share with anyone else.

In a world where we spend more time with our online ‘friends’ than our real friends, this is a reminder that humans need social interaction and to belong to a community, and that loneliness is a big issue. My father-in-law always had a dog and they kept him going, giving him a reason to get up and to go out. Bobby encourages Missy to get out of the house and meet people. Angela, Otis and Sylvie help her find her confidence again.

My favourite parts of the book are the wedding and the Christmas Day dinner. In a year where we haven’t be able to see groups of friends and family, these sounded wonderful.

This is a stunning debut novel which should be enjoyed with a dog curled up in your lap. I’m looking forward to reading more from Beth Morrey in the future.



View all my reviews

The Cornish Cream Tea Christmas by Cressida McLaughlin

Thank you to Anne of Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the blog tour for this festive book. Thank you to Harper Collins/Harper Fiction for a copy of the book to prepare for the review. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Hannah Swan is looking forward to Christmas for the first time in years. Her new job as an eco-consultant is taking her – and her geeky colleague, Noah – to the beautiful Cornish village of Porthgolow for the first time.

They’re are helping the Crystal Waters Hotel to ramp up its green credentials, though after a bumpy journey, Hannah can’t shake off the feeling that Porthgolow is strangely familiar. Never able to resist a mystery, her interest is piqued when the hotel’s staff and customers report odd noises and sightings, believing the hotel to be haunted.

When bad weather cuts off Porthgolow, Hannah and Noah are looking at a Cornish Christmas. It gives them plenty of time to work out what is really going on, but will their yuletide escape send shivers up their spines? Or will it be as warm and toasty as a glass of mulled wine?

My thoughts:

Having started to reduce my book blogging commitments as I returned to work, an email about this book from Anne at Random Things Tours popped into my inbox. Despite not having read any books by Cressida McLaughlin before, the gorgeous cover design and mentioning Cornwall, Cream Teas and Christmas in the title, meant that I had to email straight back to Anne to offer to read and review.

I’m so glad that I did reply, because I loved the book. As I said above, I haven’t read any books by Cressida before, so I have missed the first two books in the series, but that didn’t stop me understanding and enjoying this book. I’m also pleased to see that there is a fourth book in the series out in 2021, but I won’t name it here (spoiler alert for this story).

Hannah travels to Cornwall for work, but finds herself falling in love with the area, the food, and the people. Of course, this is set in a non Covid world, and it was lovely to be able to visit the Cream Tea bus with Hannah, to spend time at the Crystal Waters Hotel and the Seven Stars pub.

The story was a welcome escape from 2020, full of travel, food and new friendships. As regular readers of my blog know, I love it when a dog is an integral part of the story, and there are six dogs in this story.

One of my favourite festive reads of 2020. Grab a copy, a cream scone and a hot chocolate (or a gingerbread latte), and curl up with Hannah, Noah, Sprite and all the other fabulous characters. Just watch out for the ghosts…

Author Bio:

Cressy was born in South East London surrounded by books and with a cat named after Lawrence of Arabia. She studied English at the University of East Anglia and now lives in Norwich with her husband David. When she isn’t writing, Cressy spends her spare time reading, returning to London or exploring the beautiful Norfolk coastline.

Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

Today, I’m sharing another of my reviews from February 2020, for another 5 star read. Saving Missy by Beth Morrey is now available to pre-order in paperback, out in March 2021

Publisher comments:-

Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Woman meets dog…

The world has changed around Missy Carmichael. At seventy-nine, she’s estranged from her daughter, her son and only grandson live across the world in Australia, and her great love is gone. Missy spends her days with a sip of sherry, scrubbing the kitchen in her big empty house and reliving her past–though it’s her mistakes, and secrets, that she allows to shine brightest. The last thing Missy expects is for two perfect strangers and one spirited dog to break through her prickly exterior and show Missy just how much love she still has to give. Filled with wry laughter and deep insights into the stories we tell ourselves, The Love Story of Missy Carmichael shows us it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. It’s never too late to love.

My thoughts:-


Thank you to HarperCollins and Beth Morrey for a digital copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

This was one of my favourite books of 2020 and I have been busy recommending it. The story starts slowly as we meet Missy and find out how small her world has become. Beth Morrey has created a wonderful ensemble cast (human and canine), who work together to help Missy find friendship, family and hope.

As a dog rescuer (we adopted Jake 2 years ago), I loved the relationship developing between Missy and Bobby, and the interaction with the other dog walkers.

In a world where we spend more time with our online ‘friends’ than our real friends, this is a reminder that humans need social interaction and to belong to a community, and that loneliness is a big issue. My father-in-law always had a dog and they kept him going, giving him a reason to get up and to go out.

A stunning debut novel which should be enjoyed with a dog curled up in your lap.



View all my reviews

When the Music Stops by Joe Heap

I’m pleased to be sharing my review as part of the blog tour organised by Anne at Random Things Tours. Thank you to Anne and Harper Fiction for a digital review copy, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

This is the story of Ella.
And Robert.
And of all the things they should have said, but never did.

‘What have you been up to?’
I shrug, ‘Just existing, I guess.’
‘Looks like more than just existing.’
Robert gestures at the baby, the lifeboat, the ocean.
‘All right, not existing. Surviving.’
He laughs, not unkindly. ‘Sounds grim.’
‘It wasn’t so bad, really. But I wish you’d been there.’

Ella has known Robert all her life. Through seven key moments and seven key people their journey intertwines.
 
From the streets of Glasgow during WW2 to the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of London in the 60s and beyond, this is a story of love and near misses. Of those who come in to our lives and leave it too soon. And of those who stay with you forever…

My thoughts:

I was hooked by the blurb for this book but still wasn’t prepared for how the story started and how we meet Ella. The story starts with a storm which leaves Ella holding her baby grandson on a damaged boat, trying to keep him alive until rescuers find them.

During the time stranded on the boat, Ella revisits seven key moments in each decade of her life and meets seven people who she had lost during her lifetime. Each meeting is also linked to a piece of music, from the book of music Ella chose with her dad in Glasgow. The audio book version will include the songs played in full.

Ella’s journey takes her from Glasgow to London. Joe’s writing brings each of the seven periods in time to life, from the school days in Glasgow to the first flat in London to being in a maternity ward as a geriatric mother. I’ve read many books this year whilst furloughed, and this is one of the most poignant. This book is full of emotion and I was caught up in each story, shedding a few tears along the way.

This is a no spoiler review, so you will need to read the book to find out if Ella saved her grandson. A five star book in my humble opinion, a lifetime of experiences captured in one stunning story. It will also make you think about who you would like to meet again, to maybe have a different conversation with. I’ve had Joe’s debut novel, The Rules of Seeing, on my Kindle for months and I look forward to reading it soon.

Book launch event:

On Thursday 28th October I attended Joe’s online book launch event organised by his publisher. It was fascinating to hear about Joe’s inspiration for the book, from how his grandparents met to becoming a father himself, to linking The Seven Ages of Man by Shakespeare to the life of a woman linked by music. The Jack Shapiro who wrote the music in the book is a work of fiction based on Jack Sands, his grandfather.

Author bio:

Joe Heap was born in 1986 and grew up in Bradford, the son of two teachers. His debut novel The Rules of Seeing won Best Debut at the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards in 2019 and was shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Reader Awards. Joe lives in London with his girlfriend, their two sons and a cat who wishes they would get out of the house more often.

For more information, please contact felicity.denham@harpercollins.co.uk | 0208 307 4203

Secrets in the Snow by Emma Heatherington

Thank you to Rebecca Bryant from Harper Fiction for inviting me to join the blog tour for the new book by Emma Heatherington. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift of a review copy.

I enjoyed reading and reviewing Emma’s previous book, Rewrite the Stars last year (review can be found at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2019/10/29/rewrite-the-stars-by-emma-heatherington-blog-tour-29-10-19/).

Synopsis:

As the winter snow falls on the small Irish village of Ballybray, Roisin O’Connor and her young son, Ben, are saying goodbye to their beloved neighbour Mabel Murphy.  Mabel lived a bold and colourful life, but the arrival of her brooding nephew, ‘blow-in’ Aidan Murphy, just makes life more complicated for Roisin.

However, in one final act of love, a message arrives from Mabel that changes everything.  And as winter turns to spring and the cold snow melts, the secrets both Roisin and Aidan are hiding must be revealed at last…

buy link:  http://smarturl.it/SecretsInTheSnowPBO…

My thoughts:

Thank you to Emma Heatherington for another lovely book to escape into on an autumnal day. This is one of those books I didn’t want to stop reading once I started it, and I stayed up late to enjoy finding out more about Roisin and Aidan.

Roisin and Aidan have both had to deal with tragedy and being told to what to do by other people. Mabel’s funeral is where they first see each other, unaware that Mabel will be sending them messages to try to encourage them to help each other.

Although the gorgeous cover of the book and title suggest a winter book, we actually spend a year with Roisin and Aidan. This is a year of discovery for both, to deal with issues from their pasts and to plan their futures, without Mabel.

The book has a few twists in the story, as we find out more about their past histories, and as misunderstandings occur. I loved the ending, although I had been imagining a different ending only a few pages earlier. This was a lovely book to curl up and enjoy, and I will be recommending this to fans of romantic fiction.

Author Bio:

Emma Heatherington has penned more than thirty educational short films, plays and musicals as well as eleven novels, two of which were written under the pseudonym Emma Louise Jordan.
She was ghost-writer to Irish country music legend Philomena Begley and Liverpool born Nathan Carter, whose autobiography Born for the Road was nominated for an Irish Book Award.
Emma’s novel, The Legacy of Lucy Harte, was an eBook bestseller in both the UK and US.
She lives in her native Donaghmore, Co Tyrone, with her partner Jim McKee and their children Jordyn, Jade, Dualta, Adam and Sonny James.

Ashes by Christopher De Vinck

Today I’m pleased to be sharing a mini review for Ashes, a book I received via Readers First. I had originally hoped to share this last month when the book was published in mid August 2020, so apologies for the delay to the author and Harper Inspire.

Synopsis:

A deeply touching novel about two young women whose differences, which once united them, will tear them apart forever, during Hitler’s Nazi occupation of Belgium and France. Based on true events.

For fans of All The Light We Cannot See and Tattooist of Auschwitz. 

Belgium, July 1939: Simone Lyon is the daughter of a Belgium national hero, the famous General Joseph Lyon. Her best friend Hava Daniels, is the eldest daughter of a devout Jewish family. Despite growing up in different worlds, they are inseparable.

But when, in the spring of 1940, Nazi planes and tanks begin bombing Brussels, their resilience and strength are tested. Hava and Simone find themselves caught in the advancing onslaught and are forced to flee.

In an emotionally-charged race for survival, even the most harrowing horrors cannot break their bonds of love and friendship. The two teenage girls, will see their innocence fall, against the ugly backdrop of a war dictating that theirs was a friendship that should never have been.

My thoughts:

Personally I think this would be an excellent book for students in secondary schools to read for History and /or PSHE.

The book looks at how two very different girls became friends in Belgium just before the start of World War 2. Simone has grown up without a mother, has a national hero for a father and attends a convent school. Her friend Hava has grown up in a devout Jewish family and is full of creativity.

Alongside the story of what happened as the Nazi’s arrived in Belgium, we find out how the two girls enjoyed becoming friends so close they were like sisters.

I enjoyed this story despite the heartbreak. The message readers should take from the book is that we mustn’t ever let this happen again. As a world we need to show more kindness and compassion to our fellow human beings, irrespective of their race, religion and culture.

Author details (from Amazon):

Christopher de Vinck is a teacher and the author of eleven books and numerous articles and essays for publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Reader’s Digest. He delivers speeches on faith, disabilities, fatherhood, and writing, and has been invited to speak at the Vatican. He is the father of three and lives in New Jersey with his wife. 

His essays on everyday life have been published in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping, The Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, The National Catholic Reporter, and used in high school and college textbooks as samples of good writing. 

He has won two Christopher Awards, which celebrates authors whose work looks at the ‘highest values of the human spirit’. His essays have been selected three times for ‘Best Column’ by the National Catholic Press Association. His essay The Power of the Powerless praised by, among many others President Ronald Reagan, was selected by Christianity Today as one of the ten ‘Best Biographies and/or Autobiographies’ of this past century, which also included the works of C.S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, and Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn. –This text refers to the paperback edition.

The Cutting Place by Jane Casey

Today I’m sharing my review for The Cutting Place by Jane Casey again, having originally shared this back in April 2020, to show the newly published paperback cover.

Synopsis:

Everyone’s heard the rumours about elite gentlemen’s clubs, where the champagne flows freely, the parties are the height of decadence . . . and the secrets are darker than you could possibly imagine.

DS Maeve Kerrigan finds herself in an unfamiliar world of wealth, luxury and ruthless behaviour when she investigates the murder of a young journalist, Paige Hargreaves. Paige was working on a story about the Chiron Club, a private society for the richest and most privileged men in London. Then she disappeared. 

It’s clear to Maeve that the members have many secrets. But Maeve is hiding secrets of her own – even from her partner DI Josh Derwent. Will she uncover the truth about Paige’s death? Or will time run out for Maeve first?

My thoughts:

4.5 stars

Thank you to Harper Collins for a digital review copy via Readers First – my thoughts are my own. This is the first book I’ve read by Jane Casey and I was surprised to discover there are 8 previous Maeve Kerrigan books.

The opening chapters set the scene well – the discovery of Paige, the tension between Maeve and some of her colleagues, the ‘new’ relationship with Seth.

I enjoyed this crime fiction book – there was humour (sometimes dark), intrigue, secrets and twists. Even if you haven’t read any of the previous Maeve Kerrigan books (I’m assuming I’m not the only one), then hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I did.



View all my reviews

The Last Charm by Ella Allbright

I’m pleased to share my review for this beautiful book today on my book blog. Thank you to One More Chapter of Harper Collins for a digital proof copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. The ebook is published today in the UK and the paperback is due to be published in November 2020.

Synopsis:

A moving and heartwarming love story perfect for fans of Me Before You and One Day in December…

Leila’s charm bracelet tells a story of love, a story of loss, a story of hope. This is the story of her … and the story of Jake.

When Leila Jones loses her precious charm bracelet and a stranger finds it, she has to tell the story of how she got the charms to prove she’s the owner. Each and every one is a precious memory of her life with Jake.

So Leila starts at the beginning, recounting the charms and experiences that have led her to the present. A present she never could have expected when she met Jake nearly twenty years ago…

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Ella Allbright/Nikki Moore and it won’t be the last. The story telling was superb, I loved the way that Leila and Jake kept spending small periods of time together, whilst you wondered if this would be the time that they finally realised that they belonged together properly.

The story covers some tough topics including domestic violence and mental health issues, but there are also lots of funny moments too. As the book title suggests, there is a charm bracelet at the centre of the story and the end of the book had me in tears as Leila searched for the last charm. This was a beautiful and emotional read, and I’ve given it a 5 star rating.

Ella Allbright:

A self-confessed reading addict, Ella Allbright writes commercial women’s fiction set in her beautiful home county of Dorset. Her first novel in this genre – The Last Charm – will publish in August 2020 (ebook) and November 2020 (paperback) with One More Chapter, a division of HarperCollins. She’s currently hard at work on her next book, and is represented by agent Hattie Grünewald at The Blair Partnership.

Ella also writes as Nikki Moore, the author of the popular #LoveLondon romance series. A number of the novellas featured in the Top 100 short story charts on Kobo and the Top 20 in the Amazon UK bestsellers Holiday chart, and in 2018 the collection was released in Italy. Her first published work was the short story A Night to Remember in the best selling Mills & Boon / RNA anthology Truly, Madly, Deeply. Her debut romance Crazy, Undercover, Love was shortlisted for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award 2015.

When not writing or reading, she can usually be found working in her HR day job, walking the family’s cute beagle puppy or watching a Netflix series!

She vlogs about how to get published as ‘Author By The Sea’ on her YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQNV3lWENgnIRG4NWejSjmQ

In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk

I’m pleased to share my review for the latest book by bestselling author Lindsey Kelk today. Thank you to Harper Collins for allowing me to read the book early via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the free copy.

My thoughts:

One missed chance in life…one second chance in love

When Ros steps off a plane after three years away, she’s in need of a new job, a new flat and a new start. But her friends have moved on, her parents only have eyes for each other, and her bedroom has been moved into the garden shed. Suddenly, Ros has a bad case of nostalgia for the way things were.

Then her phone begins to ping with messages from her old life. Including one number she thought she’d erased forever: the man who broke her heart.

Sometimes we’d all like the chance to see what we’ve been missing…

My thoughts:

I’ve read and enjoyed many of the books by Lindsey Kelk over the years, and personally I think this is the best.

It is a ‘fun’ book, full of larger than life characters, perfect for enjoying on a summer day. Ros has returned home from the job of a lifetime in the USA (but was it?) and ends up reconnecting with her ex boyfriend by accident when her new phone connects to the cloud after 3 years abroad. Will Patrick make her happy? Will her parents make her live in the shed for the rest of her life? Will her podcast be successful? Will life with the her friends continue just as they did before she left, and who is their new friend?

This book should be enjoyed sat in a sunny garden or park, with a cocktail or a mocktail. Lots of humour, romance, and life changes wrapped up and delivered in this story.

Lindsey Kelk:

Bestselling British author based in Los Angeles. Lover of books, watcher of wrestling, wearer of lipstick. Karaoke enthusiast and cat wrangler. Lindsey is the author of twelve novels, including the bestselling I Heart series, About a Girl, The Single Girl’s To-Do List and Always the Bridesmaid.