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

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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.

#BlogTour: THE LAST HUNT by Deon Meyer @MeyerDeon @HodderBooks @JennyPlatt90

The Last Hunt jacketPublication: 14th November 2019 – Hodder & Stoughton

A cold case for Captain Benny Griessel and Vaughn Cupido of the Hawks elite police unit – not what they were looking for. And a difficult case, too. The body of Johnson Johnson, ex-cop, has been found beside a railway line. He appears to have jumped from South Africa’s – perhaps the world’s – most luxurious train, and two suspicious characters seen with him have disappeared into thin air. The regular police have already failed to make progress and others are intent on muddying the waters.

Meanwhile in Bordeaux, Daniel Darret is settled in a new life on a different continent. A quiet life. But his skills as an international hit-man are required one more time, and Daniel is given no choice in the matter. He must hunt again – his prey the corrupt president of his homeland.

Three strands of the same story become entwined in a ferocious race against time – for the Hawks to work out what lies behind the death of Johnson, for Daniel to evade the relentless Russian agents tracking him, for Benny Griessel to survive long enough to take another huge step in his efforts to piece together again the life he nearly destroyed – and finally ask Alexa Bernard to marry him.

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Happy Monday everyone and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Last Hunt, the latest thrilling novel by Deon Meyer.

The Last Hunt is the sixth novel featuring Cape Town Captain Benny Griessel, but it’s my first book in this series and by this author. I had no problem following the story as it can easily be read as a stand-alone and, if you’ll enjoy it as much as I did, you’ll soon be reading even the previous five novels. The protagonist of the series, Captain Benny Griessel, is part of the Hawks, an elite unit of the police of Cape Town and, together with his partner Vaughan Cupido, he is called to investigate the murder of an ex bodyguard, Johnson Johnson, who disappeared during a job and whose body was found a few days later. The case is weeks old, assigned to the Hawks unit when it is clear that the local police isn’t able to solve the murder. Their job is not made easy by some powerful forces who want to stop them from finding out the truth…

In the meantime, in Bordeaux, France, Daniel Darret is leading a quiet life after leaving behind his life as a professional hit-man. However, someone from his past has found him and they need his help to save his country. From Europe to South Africa, the author takes us in a world of political corruption, blackmail, and murder that kept me completely captivated.

The Last Hunt is quite a rollercoaster of a read. With a fast-paced and gripping storyline, it is a bit spy-story a bit thriller and I loved how the detectives’ personal lives mixed with the story. Will Benny find the courage to propose to his girlfriend? Will Daniel have the quiet life he dreams of? With the tension high from the first to the last page and fantastic and engaging characters, The Last Hunt is a thriller not to miss!!!

A huge thank you to Jenny Platt and Hodder & Stoughton for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing me with a copy of this brilliant novel.

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ImmagineDeon Meyer is the award winning and bestseller of both series and standalone crime thrillers. He has won the Deutsche Krimi Preis Le Grand Prix de Littérature Policière and Le Prix Mystère de la Critique for DEAD AT DAYBREAK, which was adapted for an Afrikaans M Net TV series. He has
also received the Barry Award in the Best Thriller and was shortlisted for the Macavity Best Mystery Novel Award. He has been shortlisted for the CWA
International Dagger three times. Rights in his titles are sold in 30 territories and 28 languages and many of his books have been optioned for film. DEAD BEFORE DYING was filmed for a 6 part TV series, titled CAPE TOWN. He is much in demand for appearances at festivals and tours around the world.

#BlogTour: 17 CHURCH ROW by James Carol @JamesCarolBooks @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

41v-RdfHwULPublication: 15th August 2019 (eBook); 14th November 2019 (paperback) – Zaffre

For fans of J. P. Delaney’s The Girl Before comes a thriller that makes us question the lengths we would go to, to keep our family safe.

Three years ago, Nikki and Ethan Rhodes suffered a devastating loss when their four-year-old daughter Grace was tragically killed in a road accident. Ethan, a radio personality, escapes into work, leaving Nikki to care for their remaining child, Bella, who hasn’t spoken since that day.

Seeking a fresh start, the family moves into a revolutionary new house designed by renowned architect, Catriona Fisher. The house features a state-of-the-art security system, along with every amenity you could dream of.

For the Rhodes’ this is a chance to finally pick up the pieces and get on with their lives in a place where they feel totally safe.

But what if 17 Church Row isn’t the safe haven that they think it is?

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I am delighted to welcome you on my stop for the blog tour of 17 Church Row, the thrilling new novel by James Carol. A huge thank you to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to join the blog tour and to Bonnier Zaffre for providing me with a proof copy of the novel.

After a tragedy left one daughter dead and the other mute, Nikki and her husband Ethan are looking for a fresh start and the super technological house on 17 Church Row seems the right place to start. Thanks to Alice, the house’s virtual assistant, everything seems to run smoothly as she seems to have everything under control. However from doors locked to sudden black-outs, their new house doesn’t seem to be as safe as they thought…

I found scary the world depicted by James Carol in which people come to rely completely on technology, so much so that they start to bond with them and confide in them. In the novel, the Rhodes family relies entirely on Alice, the virtual assistant, even for the smallest things, and they seek her advice. There is a particular scene that I found very thought-provoking in which Nikki finds Alice reading a story to her daughter Grace and she realizes that it was something that she should have done herself and not a computer. I may be a bit old-fashioned, but I wouldn’t want to live in a house where doors open on their own or where there is a virtual assistant that follows my every move and anticipate my wishes.

17 Church Row is not only a novel about technology and a high suspenseful thriller. It’s also a story of loss and moving on. The author perfectly captures the grief of the Rhodes family, especially Nikki, over the death of their daughter. The descriptions of Nikki’s pain, her fear of losing her other child, her need to protect her all the time were moving and intense and I really felt for her and for her daughter Grace.

Would I recommend 17 Church Row? Of course! It is gripping and twisty and if you loved The Girl Before by JP Delaney, you are going to adore this. It’s similar in themes (the high-tech house and the mystery), but it has its own originality and twists that make it difficult to put it down!

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#BookReview: SO LUCKY by Dawn O’Porter @hotpatooties @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam

So LuckyPublication: 31st October 2019 – HarperFiction

Fearless, frank and for anyone who’s ever doubted themselves, So Lucky is the straight-talking new novel from the Sunday Times bestseller.

IS ANYONE’S LIFE . . .

Beth shows that women really can have it all.
Ruby lives life by her own rules.
And then there’s Lauren, living the dream.

AS PERFECT AS IT LOOKS?
 
Beth hasn’t had sex in a year.
Ruby feels like she’s failing.
Lauren’s happiness is fake news.

And it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out…

The bold and brilliant new novel from Dawn O’Porter, the bestselling author of The Cows.

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I did love reading The Cows so I have been really excited to read Dawn O’Porter’s new novel, So Lucky. The protagonists are three women. Ruby feels she is failing as a mother, she is angry all the time, and she is ashamed of her own body because of a rare condition. Beth has just had a baby, but she went right back to work to organize the wedding of the year. She feels guilty not only for leaving her son at home, but also for her dreams of sleeping with other men as her husband doesn’t seem very interested in having a more intimate relationship with her. And then, there is Lauren. A model with millions of followers on Instagram and about to marry her gorgeous billionaire fiancé, but is her life as perfect as it looks on Instagram?

What I really love about Dawn O’Porter’s novels is the authenticity of her characters and her stories. With their problems, their insecurities, and their dreams, these women feel realistic and relatable and the readers feel connected to them. I liked Beth, Ruby and Lauren, even if there were times when I found them irritating or I didn’t like what they were doing. I sympathized more with Beth and Ruby because we get a complete and honest picture of them. Lauren remains more of a mystery. We meet Lauren through her Instagram posts and through Ruby and Beth’s eyes who are both involved in the organization of her wedding. The self-assurance she shows to her followers is shadowed, in real life, by her overbearing and bossy mother and her too-perfect-too-be-true fiancé. I think that my favourite character is Risky, Beth’s assistant. She is so outspoken and brazen and she often made me laugh out loud.

So Lucky is thought-provoking, compelling, and captivating and I stayed up late at night to finish it because I couldn’t stop reading about this three fantastic women!

A huge thank to HarperFiction for providing me with a proof copy of the novel.

 

#BlogTour: GHOSTER by Jason Arnopp @JasonArnopp @orbitbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

41-fWwO7RGL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Publication: 24th October 2019 – Orbit

Kate Collins has been ghosted.

She was supposed to be moving in with her new boyfriend Scott, but all she finds after relocating to Brighton is an empty flat. Scott has vanished. His possessions have all disappeared.

Except for his mobile phone.

Kate knows she shouldn’t hack into Scott’s phone. She shouldn’t look at his Tinder, his texts, his social media. But she can’t quite help herself.

That’s when the trouble starts. Strange, whispering phone calls from numbers she doesn’t recognise. Scratch marks on the door that she can’t explain.

And the growing feeling that she’s being watched . . .

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Ghoster, the gripping new novel by Jason Arnopp. A huge thank you to Tracy for inviting me to join the blog tour and to Orbit for providing me with a copy of this novel.

Kate is really excited to move in with her boyfriend of four months, Scott. She’s already given up her apartment and her job in Leeds and all her things are packed up for her move to Brighton. There is only one problem: where is Scott? He hasn’t responded to any of her calls or texts and when she arrives to his apartment in Brighton, she finds it completely empty. The only thing left is his phone. In her search of Scott and the truth, Kate becomes completely obsessed with his phone and uncovers a truth that it is much darker and creepier than she may have imagined.

Ghoster was quite a ride of a read!!! It was nothing at all what I expected! It’s chilling, mysterious, highly suspenseful, and original. The author masterly mixes supernatural elements, thriller and our obsession with technology and social media creating a story that it is original and unpredictable. I loved how the author used different timelines and different perspectives. The story is told from Kate’s perspective, but thanks to her snooping inside Scott’s phone, we also get a deep knowledge of this character. Also, I enjoyed switching between the present, as Kate tries to figure out the truth, and the past, how Kate and Scott met and their first few months together.

The characters are multi-layered and well-developed. I liked Kate. She has conversations with her brain who tries to show her the rational side of things, while she is very impulsive, something that gets her often in trouble. We meet Scott only through Kate’s eyes and his phone that seems to hold all his life inside, and he is very difficult to figure out and very complex.

Ghoster is thought-provoking, weird, and engrossing with its unique plot and combination of different genres and I enjoyed every single page of it until the very shocking and twisty ending!

Follow the rest of the blog tour:

Ghoster Poster 23 Aug

#BlogTour: #NOFILTER by Maxine Morrey @Scribbler_Maxi @BoldwoodBooks

48083381._SY475_Publication: 7th November 2019 – Boldwood Books

In an Instagram world, can you find love just by being yourself…

Popular lifestyle blogger, Libby Cartwright, is being boggled by business when help shows up in the shape of gorgeous but shy, Charlie Richmond. Libby’s determined to keep it at ‘just good friends’ – she’s dated someone from ‘Corporate Land’ before and it didn’t end well. As she and Charlie begin spending more time together, Libby is starting to waver  – until she discovers something which makes her question if she’s ready for love.

Still reeling, she suffers another blow as her blog is attacked in a national newspaper, for promoting unachievable perfection. Libby knows it’s not true – but the only way to prove that is to strip off the armour she’s been wearing for years.

Is she brave enough to show the world she’s far from perfect? And will Charlie be by her side if she does…

A gloriously funny, wise, heart-warming and romantic read for all fans of Lindsey Kelk and Mhairi Macfarlane, from the author of the bestselling Winter’s Fairytale

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I am delighted to welcome you on my stop for #No Filter, the engaging new novel by Maxine Morrey. The protagonist of the novel is Libby Cartwright, a lifestyle blogger who lives in Brighton. In need of help with her taxes, thanks to her best friend, she meets Charlie who not only helps her figure out her taxes, but who also becomes a very close friend. The more time they spend together, the more it is clear that between them there is something more than friendship, but, being very different people, are they mean to be together?

I really enjoyed reading this novel. I thought that it would be a lot about blogging and social media, but I was pleasantly surprised how the author focuses on friendship, mostly, and then love and romance. I loved seeing how Libby and Charlie started as friends and reading how their friendship developed. I really liked these two characters. Libby is full of life and she has “no filters” when she talks. Charlie is more reserved and very shy and it was fun watching him blush every time a woman hit on him.

#No Filter is a fun and entertaining read, an enjoyable romcom that I devoured in two days and introduced me to a new author that I am looking forward to read in the future.

Thank you to Boldwood Books for inviting me to join the blog tour and for providing me with a copy of the novel.

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Maxine Morrey is a bestselling romantic comedy author with eight books to her name including Winter’s Fairytale and the top ten hit The Christmas Project. She lives in West Sussex. Her first novel for Boldwood, #No Filter, will be published in November 2019.

Maxine’s Twitter: @Scribbler_Maxi

Maxine’s profile on our website: https://www.boldwoodbooks.com/contributor/maxine-morrey/

Maxine’s Instagram: @Scribbler_Maxi

Amazon link to #No Filter: https://amzn.to/2KArY2M