Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Second Love of My Life by Victoria Walters

Published in paperback original by Headline Review on 7th April 2016. My thanks to the publisher for sending me my copy.

In the Cornish town of Talting, everyone is famous for something.
Until recently Rose was known for many things: her infectious positivity; her unique artistic talent; and her devotion to childhood sweetheart Lucas.
But two years ago that changed in one unthinkable moment. Now, Rose is known for being the young woman who became a widow aged just twenty-four.
Though Rose knows that life must go on, the thought of carving out a new future for herself is one she can barely entertain. Until a newcomer, Robert, arrives in Talting for the summer...

Can Rose allow herself the chance to love again?

My Thoughts:

This book is set in the fictional town of Talting in Cornwall. It was a great setting, Cornwall is a place I love and allows for some lovely scenery and settings for the story to unfold.

This books is primarily a love story, but also that of grief and finally being able to move beyond grief to the future and the realisation and acceptance that it is possible and OK to fall in love again. 

I found this story to be quite sad and poignant in places, Rose has become a widow at the age of 24, she wanted to grow old with Lucas and she never imagined a future without him in it. Their relationship was one of the forever kind. Rose is a talented Artist but after the death of Lucas she loses her passion for everything, her life, her future, and ultimately painting - her muse no longer around to inspire and encourage her. She is incredibly despondent.

Things begin to change one summer when there is a new face in town, a man called Robert. Robert notices Rose and eventually gets her to open up about herself and gives her a glimpse of a future that could be possible. However with all things in life, things don't always run 100% smoothly.

This book was a good debut, which I enjoyed reading. I found the characters to be well written and the story held my attention. I particularly liked the characters of Emma and John who were friends of Rose, they are grieving too. They were also close friends of Lucas and they sense his loss deeply.

I found this an interesting way to examine grief and it was made all the more sad by involving relatively young characters. I think the emotional elements of the story could have been explored even deeper than they were to pull on the readers heartstrings more strongly. 

All in all and interesting concept for a book and I would like to read more from this author in the future to see how her writing style develops. 

About the Author:

Victoria Walters has always loved creating stories. Her first book was handwritten when she was sixteen years old, and was closely modelled on the Sweet Valley High Series. Victoria studied Sociology at Warwick University and has since worked for a business publisher and as a Waterstones bookseller. She lives in Surrey with her cat (named after Harry Potter, not Harry Styles). This is her first novel. 

You can discover more about Victoria - and find pictures of Harry the cat - by following her on Twitter at @Vicky_Walters or by visiting her blog at:

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

** BLOG TOUR ** Sunset City by Melissa Ginsburg

This book was published on 21st  April 2016 and is available in paperback and e book. My thanks to the publisher Faber & Faber who sent me a review copy.

Twenty-two-year-old Charlotte Ford reconnects with Danielle, her best friend from high school, a few days before Danielle is found bludgeoned to death in a motel room. In the wake of the murder, Charlotte's life unravels and she descends into the city's underbelly, where she meets the strippers, pornographers and drug dealers who surrounded Danielle in the years they were estranged.
Ginsburg's Houston is part of a lesser known south, where the urban and rural collide gracelessly. In this shadowy world, culpability and sympathy blur in a debut novel which thrillingly brings its three female protagonists to the fore. Scary, funny and almost unbearably sad, Sunset City is written with rare grace and empathy holding you transfixed, praying for some kind of escape for Charlotte.

My Thoughts:

This book is very unusual, it is like nothing I have read before. It is pitted as a crime novel and that it is but I would suggest it also fits very nicely into the noir genre. It is dark, gritty and seedy, although not fast paced I still found it a high octane thriller.

This novel is set around a murder, but also is a story of friendship. It puts under the microscope the fact that if certain people are friends it is bad for them and actions and consequences can occur, like a chain or falling dominoes. 

This book is packed full of flawed characters who have all been damaged by life's experiences and who currently don't seem to be making the right decisions. These decisions have an impact on everybody, themselves and those around them.

This is about one friend trying to subtly find the killer of her best friend, like it is an absolute obsession. I am almost sure that Charlotte adored Danielle in a way that is not emotionally healthy. 

The author writes well. I found the writing to be quite beautiful and sparse in places and this made the story take on a very sad and melancholy tone, even with the gritty undertones running through. She writes with great complexity and emotional depth. I thought it was a very clever style of writing, that worked in order to get the story across. 

I found this book to be intelligently written and highly original. I would recommend this book if you like crime novels and fancy trying something a bit different.

About the Author:

Melissa Ginsburg was born and raised in Houston and attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is the author of the poetry collection Dear Weather Ghost and two poetry chapbooks, Arbor and Double Blind. She teaches creative writing and literature at the university of Mississippi. Sunset City is her first novel.

Please check out the other stops on the tour:

Monday, 25 April 2016

** BLOG TOUR ** The People We Were Before by Annabelle Thorpe

I am delighted to be kicking of the blog tour today for this book. I have my review and I asked Annabelle some questions. The book was published by Quercus on 21st April 2016 and is available in paperback and e book. My thanks to the publisher for the review copy and inviting me onto the blog tour.

If war is madness, how can love survive?
Yugoslavia, summer 1979. A new village. A new life. But eight-year-old Miro knows the real reason why his family moved from the inland city of Knin to the sunkissed village of Ljeta on the Dalmatian Coast, a tragedy he tries desperately to forget.
The Ljeta years are happy ones, though, and when he marries his childhood sweetheart, and they have a baby daughter, it seems as though life is perfect. However, storm clouds are gathering above Yugoslavia.
War breaks out, and one split-second decision destroys the life Miro has managed to build. Driven by anger and grief, he flees to Dubrovnik, plunging himself into the hard-bitten world of international war reporters.
There begins a journey that will take him ever deeper into danger: from Dubrovnik, to Sarajevo, to the worst atrocities of war-torn Bosnia, Miro realises that even if he survives, there can be no way back to his earlier life. The war will change him, and everyone he loves, forever.

This is a superb book, it is stunning in the way that it is described, envisaged and written. It contains some beautiful storytelling. I can't really fault it!

This book covers a span of more than 20 years and covers the period of the wars that were happening in the 1990's. It follows the main character Miro through his story, growing up, and getting married and described when war begins how conflict changes people and those around them. 

This book is a brutal and realistic portrayal of the savages of war on lives and also those that are left to continue afterwards. War changes everybody. I felt incredibly emotional reading this book, the author did such a fantastic job of describing Croatia, and then also did am accurate job of describing how whole villages were destroyed when the fighting starting.

The author has managed to create a host of flawed but likeable characters, characters for whom I felt a warmth and an empathy. Characters that I was rooting for at all costs. The author writes with beauty and style and clearly shows a passion for the region. There is emotional depth within the characters and their individual stories, whilst still keeping a reality over the things that happen to people. 

Overall I would say that this is a story about the brutalities of war, of friendships and families, of overcoming obstacles. Right within the heart of it though is a story of love in all its many guises. 

I wholeheartedly recommend this book and eagerly await what this author comes up with next. She is one to watch!

Annabelle Thorpe has been a travel and features journalist for fifteen years, writing for national print and online media. She currently works as a freelance for the Times, Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Express, and works as a consultant for the National Trust. Annabelle completed an MA in Contemporary History in September 2012 and is an alumni of Curtis Brown Creative. She lives in London and Sussex.


I am absolutely delighted that Annabelle was able to join me today and answer a few questions. Thank you very much, I wish you every success with the book.

1)      Where is your favourite place to write and is there any particular time that works better for you?

Under the duvet!  My best/most creative time is first thing in the morning, so I often tend to get up, make a cup of tea and just start writing.  There's something about feeling slightly cocooned that suits me as a writing space.

2)      Where did the idea for your book come from?

I've been going to Croatia, or Yugoslavia, as it was then, since the early 1980's.  Seeing places where I'd holidayed suddenly become embroiled in a vicious, horrible war seemed really shocking.  People I'd met - everyone from the waiters to the men who run the boat trips - would have been involved.  That seemed a fascinating story to me.

3)      Are there any Characters that you would like to develop further in future, or a particular theme you would like to write about?

I don't want to give away any spoilers, but there is a relationship that is integral to the book that I'd like to possibly revisit.  Life's a long road and once you really love someone, you tend to stay entwined with them on some level.  I'd like to see where they both were twenty years down the road; if they were still in touch, or something more...

4)      Are you currently writing anything else?

I'm working on my second novel, Night Falls on the Kasbah, which is set in Marrakech.  It's quite different, more of a thriller and great fun to write.

5)      Which Writers inspire you?

They're a diverse bunch; from Jane Austen, who achieved such incredible things at a time when it was so hard for women to get published, to Khaled Hosseini.  His writing is so beautiful and he writes about the most harrowing circumstances with such lyricism and empathy...I dream of being able to write like him.

6)      Which book would you most likely give as a gift or recommend to other people?

I've recently recommended The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker to almost everyone I know.  It's a story about the world gradually spinning slower on its axis.  It's a complex idea, simply told, and it's a fantastic read.

7)      Could you share with us something that other people don’t necessarily know about you?

I'm pretty good at pool.  Rather too much of my university career was spent playing pool, and my sister has a table for her sons, so I've kept up my skills on that. 

8)      If you could have written any book from the past, which would it be?

I know its a cliche, but it would have to be The Great Gatsby.  It's spare, clever, and oh-so-glamorous.  And somehow it just stays relevant as a story, however much time passes since it was written.

9)      What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love being outdoors, so whenever I get away from my laptop, I'm either in my garden or on the beach.  And I'm a big theatre-goer; I'm in awe of people who write plays.  It's such high-stakes writing; unlike films, there's nothing to detract from the script. 

10)   Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

Just thanks for having me on your blog!  It's been a pleasure.

       Thank you!

Please do keep up with the other stops on the tour, tomorrow is the turn of Sophie over at

Monday, 18 April 2016

** BLOG TOUR ** My Grandmother Sends Her Regards & Apologises by Fredrik Backman

This book is published by Sceptre and is available in paperback and ebook now. My thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy and inviting me onto the blog tour.

Everyone remembers the smell of their grandmother's house.

Everyone remembers the stories their grandmother told them.
But does everyone remember their grandmother flirting with policemen? Driving illegally?
Breaking into a zoo in the middle of the night? Firing a paintball gun from a balcony in her dressing gown?

Seven-year-old Elsa does.
Some might call Elsa's granny 'eccentric', or even 'crazy'. Elsa calls her a superhero. And granny's stories, of knights and princesses and dragons and castles, are her superpower. Because, as Elsa is starting to learn, heroes and villains don't always exist in imaginary kingdoms; they could live just down the hallway.
As Christmas draws near, even the best superhero grandmothers may have one or two things they'd like to apologise for. And, in the process, Elsa can have some breath-taking adventures of her own . . .

My Thoughts:

I read and reviewed the authors first book A Man Called Ove here last year, it made my list of favourites of the year. This book is also an original and heartwarming tale.

Elsa is seven years old and a sure match for her grandmother who at 77 is crazy, I think this has always been the case. They are best friends, inseparable in fact, they even have their own secret language and the Land of Almost-Awake that they go to at night, in the Kingdom of Miamas. In this Kingdom it is fine to be different, because there is no need for being normal.

Elsa's grandmother passes away, and although devastated as a young girl would be, she has been given one final adventure. She has been left some letters and it is here that the big adventure starts.

This author writes with a warmth and a wit that I find very endearing and engaging. I think this book is challenging, original and tackles important issues about death and life, human rights and the being allowed to be different. 

I wouldn't want to put anyone off really as this is a book that deserves to be read, but I just didn't love this one as much as A Man Called Ove. I struggled with the fantasy and fairytale elements of the story. I just couldn't keep up and found a lot of the names and things very confusing. I was finding it hard to keep flicking back between what is real and what is not. 

I do understand what the author was trying to do and I commend him for that, I would recommend it as it would make a good book for discussion. The author has a wonderful and endearing way of observing people. 

About the Author:

Fredrik Backman is a Swedish blogger, columnist and author. His debut novel A Man Called Ove has been a number 1 bestseller across Scandinavia. It has now sold over 1 million copies. This current novel went straight to number 1 in Sweden on publication in 2014.

Please have a look at the other stops on the blog tour.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

** BLOG TOUR ** In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

In Her Wake is available now in Paperback and E Book. Thanks to Karen at Orenda and of course to Amanda for the review copy and inviting me onto the blog tour.

A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own 

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life. Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.

My Thoughts:

I first came across this author when I reviewed her previous novel, The Judas Scar. You can read my review for that here. I have been thinking for two days of how to write my review without gushing effusively and showing myself up. So I will do my best, but honestly just buy this book, read it and sit in awe as I did.

The story begins with Bella and her husband going back to her childhood home of The Old Vicarage, already there is a sense of foreboding even amongst the first few lines. Bella's mother has died and she has returned for the funeral. Her father is a broken man, there he something he wants to say but can't. He wanders around in a daze, unable to do even the simplest of tasks. A further tragedy and a subsequent letter leave Bella shocked to her core. This is when the foundations of her very existence come crumbling down around her. Ensues is a search for herself, a search for her past and a search for her future. 

So we know that a shocking crime has been committed, this much I can tell you. Amongst this though the author manages to create multi faceted characters, and stories that are told from various viewpoints. So that you cleverly begin to feel even a smidgen of empathy with the worst of the characters. Bella is the central character and she seems meek and mild and easily controlled to begin with, psychologically I would imagine this is understandable.

There is an instance near the beginning of the book where Bella smashes a photograph, I found a great symbolism there with the shattered photograph representing shattered lives and people. The author has an exquisite way with words. The descriptive passages of Cornwall are incredible and she must know the area well. She uses such eloquent prose and I found it a joy to read, every sentence lingering in my head. It was a difficult subject matter but written so beautifully. 

The author manages to put on the characters emotions layer by layer. Sometimes almost like a disguise, you peel a layer back and there is a new emotion and more of the real them is revealed. What there is in this story is a real skill for showing the reader the story. So instead of just mundanely writing it all down. I feel as if I have been submersed amongst it and given the space to form my own opinions.

I would say that ultimately this book is an exploration of families, identity, betrayal, and what happens to us when the root of everything we know gets turned upside down.

If you like thrilling, shocking and exciting books written with a great skill and beautiful prose then this author and this book are for you. You can tell with every word, sentence and page that writing is her craft.

About the Author:

Amanda Jennings made her literary d├ębut with the internationally bestselling novel Sworn Secret. Her second book, The Judas Scar, was optioned by a film and television production company shortly after release. She is fascinated by the ways people react to trauma and deal with its long-lasting effects, and also the complex relationships within a family unit. She used to work at the BBC, but now writes full-time and looks after her three daughters and a menagerie of animals. She writes a popular blog and is a regular guest on BBC Berkshire’s Book Club. She enjoys running writing workshops, is a judge for the Henley Youth Festival creative writing competition, and is involved with the Womentoring Project, which offers free mentoring by professional literary women to talented up-and-coming female writers who might otherwise not have access to such an opportunity. She is a regular speaker at festivals and book events, combining her childhood love of the stage with her love of writing. She likes to be active, preferably beside the sea or at the top of a snow-covered mountain, and when she isn’t writing she can usually be found walking her dog and enjoying the peace and solitude of the great outdoors.

You can follow Amanda on twitter @mandajjennings

Please visit the other stops on the blog tour, tomorrow sees the turn of Vicky who you can find at: