#BlogTour: A WEDDING IN DECEMBER by Sarah Morgan @SarahMorgan_ @hqstories @LilyCapewell

A Wedding In DecemberPublication: 31st October 2019 – HQ

In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie’s whirlwind Christmas wedding.

First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret about their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.

Rosie’s older sister Katie is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself. If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with her plans…

Bride-to-be Rosie loves her fiance but is having serious second thoughts. Except everyone has arrived – how can she tell them she’s not sure? As the big day gets closer, and emotions run even higher, this is one White family Christmas none of them will ever forget.

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I love Sarah Morgan’s novels. I know I write this in every review I wrote of her books, but I do love Sarah Morgan’s stories, her characters, and she chooses some amazing locations, especially when it comes to her Christmas novels. She always finds amazing, Christmassy and evocative settings that make me daydream and wish I was inside the novel. Last year, in The Christmas Sisters, it was beautiful Scotland and now, in A Wedding in December, Sarah Morgan takes us to Aspen, Colorado, where everything is covered in snow and a Christmas wedding is being planned.

Weddings are joyous moments (mostly!), but not for the White women. Rosie is very excited to marry Dan. Even if they’ve known each other for just a few months, she knows he is The One, but her sister Katie manages to put doubts in her minds a few days before the big day. Rosie’s always been impulsive and Katie’s always protected her and now she is on a mission: stop her sister from making what could be the biggest mistake of her life, but she hasn’t counted on the handsome best man trying to stop her. And while the organization of the wedding continues, Katie’s has her own problems to figure out and her own secrets to hide from her family. And then, there is their mother, Maggie, who focused her entire life on the well-being of her two daughters while her husband travelled around the world. Now she and Nick are getting divorced but she can’t certainly announce it right before the wedding… so Maggie and Nick have to pretend to be a happy couple for a while and going along with all the romantic trips and dinners planned for them.

If you’d asked me who is my favourite among these three women, I couldn’t tell you because I liked them all, even if they are completely different. I liked Rosie’s impulsiveness and sweetness. I found Maggie hilarious as she got drunk and pretended to be happily married to Nick. And I liked how Katie admitted her own faults and weaknesses. They are surrounded by three charming and handsome prince charmings who are entertaining sweep their women off their feet (I always love Sarah Morgan’s male characters!!!).

So, if you are looking for an engaging, captivating, and romantic Christmas story with fantastic characters and a magical atmosphere A Wedding in December is the book for you and, if you need more convincing, have you seen the gorgeous cover??? A must-read!!!

A huge thank you to Lily and HQ for providing me with a copy of the book.

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#BookReview: NO WAY OUT by Cara Hunter @CaraHunterBooks @PenguinUKBooks

No Way OutPublication: 18th April 2019 – Penguin Books UK

It’s one of the most disturbing cases DI Fawley has ever worked.

The Christmas holidays, and two children have just been pulled from the wreckage of their burning home in North Oxford. The toddler is dead, and his brother is soon fighting for his life.

Why were they left in the house alone? Where is their mother, and why is their father not answering his phone?

Then new evidence is discovered, and DI Fawley’s worst nightmare comes true.

Because this fire wasn’t an accident. It was murder.

And the killer is still out there…

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For some reason I had the latest novel by Cara Hunter on my TBR for a while before I decided to pick it up and once I did, I couldn’t put it down. I love her writing style, her characters, and her twisty plots and I was really happy to go back to Oxford and Adam Fawley’s amazing team.

It’s a cold night in Oxford right, after the Christmas holidays, and DI Fawley and his team are called to investigate a house fire. Two children are pulled out from the ruins while her parents are nowhere to be found. The firefights quickly rule out the accident, there was too much accelerant on the scene, but who would want to harm two young children? And where are their parents?

Cara Hunter knows how to capture the author’s attention by using different perspectives and a well-crafted narrative structure: we jump from one character to another, we travel back in time to see the events that led to the night of the fire, and we read emails, detailed police reports, newspaper articles, and comments from readers that make the story feel much more authentic and intriguing.

The authenticity is given also by the author’s focus on the detectives’ personal lives. As DI Fawley and his team work hard to find out the truth, they have their own problems to solve. Following the events of the previous books, there are jealousies and resentments that could cause trouble among the members of the team and DI Adam Fawley has his own marital problems to figure out.

The story is suspenseful and the surprises just keep coming, however, as it happens with stories involving children, there are also a few heartbreaking moments that were hard to read. No Way Out is thrilling and compelling with a cast of likable and engaging characters that I am already looking forward to meet again in the next novel coming out in January!

 

#BookReview: THE ISLAND by Ragnar Jónasson @ragnarjo @MichaelJBooks

The IslandPublication: 4th April 2019 (hardcover & eBook); 3rd October 2019 (paperback) – Michael Joseph

Four friends visited the island. But only three returned . . .

Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is sent to the isolated island of Elliðaey to investigate a disappearance.

But she finds haunting similarities to an old case – the murder of a young woman ten years ago.

Has a patient killer struck again?

Hulda is soon caught in a web of deceit, convinced everyone is lying, even those closest to her.

What secrets is the island hiding?

And what price will she pay for uncovering the truth?

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I loved The Darkness, the first novel featuring Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir so I have been looking forward to reading The Island, the second book in the series. While in The Darkness Hulda was preparing to retire and leave the police force, in The Island we go back in time when Hulda was an established detective, but, because of prejudices against working women, she was still finding it hard getting the promotion she deserved and she wished for. In this new novel, we see a more personal side to Hulda’s life, as she seeks the father she never met and she grieves over the loss of the people she loves.

In the 1980s, we meet a young couple going away for the weekend in a cabin in the Icelandic Westfjords. Their love story is new and exciting and no one knows about it, not even their friends and their families. A few days later, a body is found and the police investigates. Ten years later, four friends, who haven’t seen each other for a while, get together and spend the weekend on an isolated island. Once again, the weekend ends in tragedy and Hulda investigates…

First of all, I love Ragnar Jónasson’s descriptions of Iceland. They are so beautiful, detailed, and evocative that make me wish that I could hop on a plane and go there right away. Also, I love how the remoteness and danger of the places described fit perfectly with the suspense in the story.

I really like the character of Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir. She is determined, not afraid to speak up and stand up for herself in a men-only working environment where she is expected simply to make coffee and follow orders. She is smart and good at her job, looking for the truth, no matter what. I found her personal life heartbreaking, but also intriguing. The personal tragedies that hit her family could have broken her, but she still finds a purpose in her job. In The Island, her search for her birth father is central to the plot and it made me like this character more and more.

The murder, the secrets, and the lies kept the suspense high. If you loved Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None you will love the plot created by the author: four friends alone on a remote island, one of them disappears, one (or all) of them is guilty… Brilliant!

Gripping, beautifully-written, and full of twists, I devoured The Island and I am already looking forward to reading the third book of this fantastic trilogy!!!

A huge thank you to Michael Joseph and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this novel.

 

 

#BookReview: MORE THAN JUST MUM by Rebecca Smith @0neMoreChapter_

Not Just A MumPublication: 7th December 2019 (eBook); 20th February 2020 (paperback) – One More Chapter

Hannah Thompson loves her family beyond words… but sometimes she wishes they would recognise her as more than just ‘mum’.

Eldest son Dylan is soon to be flying the nest, sixteen-year-old Scarlet keeps asking about penalties for worryingly specific crimes, they’ve forgotten world book day and Benji absolutely will not be Where’s Wally again, and it’s at least two days before she and hubby Nick can sit down for Wine Wednesdays… and even longer until Fizzy Friday.

Determined to find herself a job that she loves, earn a whole lot of money and to have her teenagers respect her as ‘Hannah’ as well as ‘mum’; it might sound like a tall order, but she’s a mum on a mission.

A laugh-out-loud read of self-discovery, family chaos and love. Perfect for fans of Gill Sims, Fiona Gibson and Nick Spalding.

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If you are looking for a fun and entertaining read that will make you laugh (even on a train full of people that then turn to look at you in a weird way, true story!) then you should pick up Not Just A Mum, the fantastic debut novel by Rebecca Smith.

The protagonist is Hannah Thompson, in her forties, married, three children (two teenagers and one adorable ten-year-old boy), a biology teacher turned into an English teacher to a class of students who are more interested in pulling each other’s chairs than in learning about George Orwell. She is a voracious reader and aspiring author and she decides to start writing erotica, but sex scenes are hard to write when she blushes just thinking about them…

As much as her work life is far from dull, her family life is even more noisy and interesting: her oldest son, Dylan, spends a lot of time alone in his room “revising for the exams” with his new girlfriend; her daughter Scarlet wants to change her name to Scarlett with two tt, she wants the fridge full of cucumbers, and she has her own ideas about feminism; luckily, her ten-year-old son Benji is still innocent and all he wants to do is play. And then, there is her husband, Nick, supportive, always ready to help and experimenting new positions to help Hannah write her erotica book.

As I mentioned, I laughed, a lot! Hannah is hilarious… she is one of these characters that it’s always likable and engaging, even her classes often take a fun turn. The story is told from her point of views so I sympathized with her as she tried to control a class of hormonal teenagers, as she struggled with her children growing up, and as she tried to find a new path in her life that satisfies her.

Not Just A Mum is so well-written that I was surprised to learn that it’s a debut novel. Captivating, refreshing, and riveting, it’s a book I will keep recommending!!!

A huge thank you to One More Chapter and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the novel.

#BookReview: THE DEVIL ASPECT by Craig Russell @TheCraigRussell @TheCrimeVault @LittleBrownUK

91IpLM5uKFLPublication: 7th March 2019 (hardcover, eBook); 31st October 2019 (paperback) – Constable

How do you find a killer when you’re surrounded by madness?

1935. As Europe prepares itself for a calamitous war, six homicidal lunatics – the so-called ‘Devil’s Six’ – are confined in a remote castle asylum in rural Czechoslovakia. Each patient has their own dark story to tell and Dr Viktor Kosárek, a young psychiatrist using revolutionary techniques, is tasked with unlocking their murderous secrets.

At the same time, a terrifying killer known as ‘Leather Apron’ is butchering victims across Prague. Successfully eluding capture, it would seem his depraved crimes are committed by the Devil himself. Maybe they are… and what links him with the insane inmates of the Castle of the Eagles?

Only the Devil knows. And it is up to Viktor to find out.

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I found the new novel by Craig Russell quite fascinating and scary. It’s an historical novel with gothic and horror elements that make each page highly suspenseful. At the center of the story there is a brutal serial killer on the loose in a pre-World War II Czechoslovakia where the first signs of tension between Jewish and German-born people start to show.

One of the protagonists of the story is Doctor Victor Kosárek who, after finishing his studies under Carl Jung, is starting his new job at Hrad Orlu, an asylum housed in a ancient medieval castle famous because its residents are the notorious “Devil Six”, the worst psychopatics in Central Europe. Victor hopes that his new tecnique of interviewing will help him figure out the Devil Aspect and uncover the truth behind their acts.

In the meantime, in Prague, the serial killer known as Leather Apron is terrorizing the city and detective  Lukas Smolak has to stop him, but the bodies keep piling up and clues lead him to questions some of the residents of Hrad Orlu.

The Devil Aspect is dark, claustrophobic, and chilling. The murders described are gruesome and not for the light-hearted (I found some of the descriptions hard to read). The author couldn’t find apter title for this novel. Through Viktor’s interviews with the inmates of Hrad Orlu we hear some of the worst murders I have ever read and the author masterfully sets them at the beginning of one of the darkest era in history. It’s the year 1935 and the Nazi power is spreading through Europe. We see predictions of a black furutre because of the historical and political situation at the time, we see people not trusting each other because of their religion and origin, the madness and evil inside the asylum going hand to hand with the madness and evil happening outside.

A story of murders, folklore, legends, and beliefs, The Devil Aspect kept me literally on the edge of my seat and it’s full of shocking twists that I didn’t see coming. A real page-turner!

A big thank you to Little, Brown and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the novel.

 

#BookReview: MESSY, WONDERFUL US by Catherine Isaac @CatherineIsaac_ @simonschusterUK @TeamBATC @BookMinxSJV

MWU 1

Publication: 28th November 2019 – Simon & Schuster UK

In late 1983, a letter arrives from Italy, containing secrets so unthinkable that it is hidden away, apparently forever. More than three decades later, it is found . . . by the last person who was ever supposed to see it.

When Allie opens an envelope in her grandmother’s house, it changes everything she knows about her family – and herself.

With the truth liable to hurt those she loves most, she hires a private detective to find out what happened to her late mother in the summer before Allie was born. Taking leave from her job as a research scientist, she is led to the sun-drenched shores of Lake Garda, accompanied by her best friend Ed.

But the secrets that emerge go far beyond anything they were expecting. Now, Allie must find the courage to confront her family’s tangled past and reshape her own future.

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What would you do if you find out that everything you believed in about your birth and your family is a lie? Would you look for the truth even if it could hurt everyone you love? That’s a hard decision to make for Allie, the protagonist of Catherine Isaac’s beautiful new novel, Messy, Wonderful Us.

When Allie goes through her grandmother’s drawers what she finds is not at all what she expected. The discovery of a photo and a letter from Italy turns her world upside down. Allie decides to travel to Italy in search of truth without saying anything to her father or her grandparents. Accompanying her is her best friend Ed. Wealthy, handsome, and with a beautiful wife, Ed’s life should be perfect. Yet, he can’t sleep and he is depressed and, in need to take some serious decisions, he decides to take a break from his life and go with Allie to Italy. Travelling from Lake Garda to Portofino, secrets come to light, secrets that could change their lives forever.

The characters are not perfect. They are flawed, but they are also authentic, relatable, and very likable (at least, most of them because there is also a villain). There is also a third character’s point view, with their own secrets and whose identity is revealed towards the end so I am not going to tell much about them. My favourite character was Allie’s father, Joe. So sweet and good and I loved reading about their father-daughter close relationship.

I loved the beautiful descriptions of Italy, so evocative and detailed that it was almost like being there. It’s a fantastic setting for this heart-warming and immersive story. Catherine Isaac masterfully explores themes of grief, second chances, self-discovery, family, and friendship. I was tense as the secrets are slowly revealed and I didn’t relax until the very ending of the story. There are many emotional moments, but I also had a few laugh at Allie and Ed’s witty exchanges and I loved how easy their relationship is.

Messy, Wonderful Us is a brilliant and thought-provoking novel and I can’t wait to read more by Catherine Isaac.

A huge thank you to Sara-Jade and Simon & Schuster for providing me with an early copy of the novel.

 

#BookReview: LOVE SONGS FOR SCEPTICS by Christina Pishiris @ChristinaPi @simonschusterUK @TeamBATC @BookMinxSJV #DigitalOriginals

Love Songs for ScepticsPublication: 28th November 2019 (eBook); 30th April 2020 (paperback) – Simon & Schuster UK

LOVE IS FOR SUCKERS . . . ISN’T IT?

My brother’s getting married in a few weeks and asked for help picking a song for his first dance. I suggested Kiss’s ‘Love’s a Slap in the Face’.

It didn’t go down well.

When she was a teenager, Zoë Frixos fell in love with Simon Baxter, her best friend and the boy next door. But his family moved to America before she could tell him how she felt and, like a scratched record, she’s never quite moved on. Now, almost twenty years later, Simon is heading back to London, newly single and as charming as ever . . .

With Simon back in town, Zoë is determined to finally pluck up the courage to tell him how she feels, but as obstacles continue to get in her way – Jess, Simon’s perfect ex-girlfriend, Nick, an obnoxious publicist determined to ruin Zoe’s career, and family pressure around her brother’s big(ish) fat(ish) Greek wedding – Zoe begins to wonder whether, after all these years, she and Simon just aren’t meant to be.

What if, instead, they’re forever destined to shuffle around their feelings for each other, never quite mastering the steps. Is Zoë right to be sceptical about romance, or is it time she changed her tune?

With a smart, relatable central character and razor-sharp wit, Love Songs for Sceptics is perfect for fans of Mhairi McFarlane, Lucy Vine and Sophie Kinsella.

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Zoe Frixos, music journalist, wants two things: finally getting together with Simon, her first love, and getting to interview elusive singer Marcie Tyler for her magazine. Zoe had been in love with Simon since she was thirteen. Now, he’s single and back for good in London so this may be their chance to be together, at last. If only his ex-girlfriend wasn’t so much present in his life…

Marcie Taylor is Zoe’s idol, but she’s been away from the music scene for the last ten years and she hasn’t given any interview. An article about her may be her chance to save her magazine, Re-sound, from being closed, even if that means having to spend much of her time with her annoying PR, Nick.

To say that I enjoyed this novel it’s saying too little. I loved it and I devoured in one day (luckily it was a Sunday or I would have had to take the day off!). Love Songs for Sceptics is funny, refreshing, and captivating and I really liked the characters. Zoe is a brilliant and well-developed heroine: she is determined, stubborn, witty, and very likable. I admired the strengths she would go to save her magazine and to help the people she loves and she made me laugh a lot. I also liked her colleagues Mike, Lucy, and Gavin, her brother Pete and her future sister-in-law Alice, and the sometime-irritating Nick.

Zoe is not the only protagonist of the story. The author’s deep knowledge of music is impressive and I loved how she weaves it through the story making it at the centre of the plot.

Love Songs for Sceptics is definitely a must-read for 2019 (the eBook is out next week) and 2020 (paperback is published in April) and I highly recommend it to all music and romance readers out there!

A huge thank you to Sara-Jade and Simon & Schuster for providing me with an early copy of the novel.

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Christina Pishiris was born in London to Greek Cypriot parents, who used to bribe her to go to family weddings by promising that George Michael might be there. To deal with the inevitable disappointment, she began scribbling stories on napkins and has been writing ever since. She started her career as a journalist, specialising in the TV industry, before going freelance. Since meeting her film-maker husband she’s also moved into production, working on music documentaries. Her hobbies include compiling cheesy 80s playlists, coveting the neighbour’s cat and writing protest letters to Guerlain after they discontinued her favourite perfume.