Tuesday, 15 June 2021

The Child in the Photo - Kerry Wilkinson


I stare at the newspaper article about a baby snatched from the back of a car thirty years ago, and wonder why someone would post it through my door. Looking closer, my blood freezes. The little girl in the photo has an unusual scar – just like mine. I’ve never met anyone with one like it. Is this
stolen child… me?

Trembling with shock, I know I have to confront my mother. My parents got me through a horrific accident, helped me find a job I love teaching art, and even with buying my own house. But was it all built on lies?

She tells me the day I was born was the best day of her life, and I’m flooded with guilt for questioning her – but why do I catch her burning papers in the garden the next day?

Then I come home to find a woman sitting on my doorstep, covered in bruises and claiming she knows who abducted me. I don’t know if I can trust her – or if I’ll be the next to get hurt.

Because all the while, I’ve been hiding my own secret. Does whoever sent the article know what really happened the day of my accident? Desperate for the truth, I break into the house of my supposed kidnapper. Inside, I find a handwritten list of names. A shiver goes down my spine as I realise wasn’t the only child to be stolen.

Then I hear a key in the lock, and I know my life is in terrible danger…

An absolutely addictive read that will have you racing through the pages and questioning everything you thought you knew about your family. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, Lisa Jewell and Shari Lapena.

Author Bio:

Kerry Wilkinson is from the English county of Somerset but has spent far too long living in the north. It’s there that he’s picked up possibly made-up regional words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’. He pretends to know what they mean.

He’s also been busy since turning thirty: his Jessica Daniel crime series has sold more than a million copies in the UK; he has written a fantasy-adventure trilogy for young adults; a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter and the standalone thriller, Down Among The Dead Men.




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My Review

From the moment I picked this book up, I was drawn into the story and didn't want to put it down. It tells the story of Hope. She's faced some difficulties in her life, but seems to have come out the other side and is doing well. When an old newspaper article is posted through her door suddenly she finds herself questioning everything that she ever believed about her life.
We follow Hope who tries to get to the bottom of the truth and find out who she really is. Are her parents really her parents or did something else happen when she was small? The story is exciting and there are lots of twists and turns that keep you guessing. I did see some of the twists coming, but there was plenty there that I didn't. I have read similar storylines before, but this was a fresh take on the idea and it worked well. I couldn't help but feel for Hope and the position that she finds herself in.
This was a great read and one that I really enjoyed, polishing it off in just over a day.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Adrift - Isabel Jolie

Isabel Jolie
(Haven Island)
Publication date: June 8th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

I can be your dream girl…for a price…

Ever heard of Only Fans? It’s not my ideal job, but it pays the bills.
It’s even made me somewhat of a celebrity. My subscribers love my provocative shots, and I’m oh-so-good at teasing them.
Then he shows up in my small town and complicates everything.
See, Mr. Green-Eyed Gazillionaire is so far out of my league it’s ridiculous. We’re polar opposites.
That doesn’t change the fact that even though I’m a fantasy to most men, I only want to be his reality.
But nothing real can ever happen between us. Logically, I know that.
Too bad logic and I have never had anything but a passing acquaintance.
Because now, if I’m not careful, I’m afraid this sexy billionaire will smash my poor, pathetic heart into oblivion…

A delicious hot billionaire romance featuring two polar opposites adrift on a resort island with a small-town atmosphere, right of the coast of North Carolina.

This is a steamy contemporary romance with a happily ever after, no cliffhanger, and no cheating.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

Author Bio:

Isabel Jolie, or Izzy to her friends, is an Amazon bestselling indie author with an unquenchable thirst for a good, sexy love story. Izzy’s heart pumps faster for stories with strong heroines, down-to-earth realism, and an unexpected twist.

When she’s not writing or reading, she can often be found with a glass of wine in hand relaxing with her husband, daughters, and good friends lakeside.

Izzy fills her Instagram feed with funnies, inspirational “brain candy”, and anything that meshes with her mood of the day. #mood.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

My Review

We met our hero and heroine in this book in Rogue Wave which I reviewed a little while ago. While it was clear in that book that there was something going on between Poppy and Gabe in that book, we don't really see much of their relationship and there is plenty to discover here.
Gabe seems to have it all, he's rich, successful and doing well in life. Poppy is in a very different situation, she dreams of running her own restaurant but having lost her job after Covid, she is now making money using Only Fans. While it might be a good way to keep money coming in, when combined with her very low self-esteem, it's clear that it's not something that she can keep up for long.
I have to admit that I struggled with Gabe somewhat in this book. Poppy has a lot of issues and I'm not sure that he is the best to deal with them. She has been treated very poorly in the past by men and she sees him doing the same. In some ways, he is no better and doesn't see her as much more than a project and something that he can fix. Even with his plans to help her feel better about herself, he doesn't really understand her and I'm not sure that he makes a great effort to do so.
Having said that, this isn't just a story about Poppy realising her true worth. Gabe has a lot of growing to do and while it might not be as obvious to begin with as for Poppy, he does change over the course of the book. Ultimately, becoming someone worthy of Poppy's love.
I enjoyed this read, Isabel Jolie's books aren't light and fluffy romances, there's far more depth here with bigger issues dealt with. 

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Sunday, 6 June 2021

Addicted - Anna Ray

 It only makes matters worse that our fathers despise each other.

Addicted by Anna Ray, a dark mafia romance

Reunited after all this time.

I never could have imagined that she was the ballerina on stage.

The one I swore I would have.

Emilia Fierro was just someone I used to know, but now... she’s so much more.

Like light and dark, she seems to contrast me in every way.

I, Nero Nicastro, am meant to inherit my father’s crown as Don Nicastro.

And she’s a Manhattan darling, born and raised in the Upper East Side.

There isn’t space in my future for this girl from my past, yet her pale blue eyes are haunting me.

It only makes matters worse that our fathers despise each other.

My destiny seemed inescapable, but now I wonder if this angelic creature might be my chance for salvation.

My Review

Nero and Emilia knew each other as children. She had a crush on him when they were younger, but he always teased her and didn't really notice her as anything more than a slightly irritating daughter of his mother's friend. Now, years later, he sees her on stage performing Romeo and Juliette and knows that he needs to get to know her. 
The book starts with a ballet performance of Romeo and Juliette and while this isn't a straight modern interpretation of the story, it's clear that it's a big influence. Nero and Emilia's father were once friends but after a business fall out they now hate one another. The chemistry between Nero and Emilia is so strong that it doesn't matter to them how their parents feel.
I do enjoy books where the characters have darker sides to them. Nero is certainly not all hero with his Mafia connections and the things that he is forced to do for his father. He isn't all bad either though and the romance with Emilia certainly brings more of this side to light.
I enjoyed this dark mafia romance and liked reading about Nero and Emilia's world. 

Sunday, 16 May 2021

The Inn at Tansy Falls - Cate Woods

Dearest Nell, if you’re reading this letter, I’m already gone. You’re my best friend in the world, and as
my last request I’m asking you to lay me to rest hundreds of miles away, in my crazy gorgeous, totally one-of-a-kind hometown of Tansy Falls. I know you’re a born-and-bred city girl, but hear me out. After first losing Adrian, and then me… I know your heart is hurting, Nell. I think you’ll find that you need Tansy Falls as much as I do.

So, I’ve got it all planned out. For two weeks, you’ll be staying at the sweet, local inn and every day you’ll be trying something new. And if you follow my instructions to the letter, you may discover there’s more to my story than you think. A surprise something… or someone at the end of it? Only you can find out!

Some last advice before you set off, Nell. Don’t forget your sturdy boots and make sure to give Boomer, the inn’s resident dog, a belly rub from me. Stay well away from former quarterback Brody Knott (boy, do I have some stories about him!). And finally, let the future bring what it brings. While Tansy Falls may look small, I know better than anyone that new beginnings can be found in all kinds of places. That little Vermont town you’d never heard of? Well, it might suddenly begin to feel just like coming home…

If you love feel-good love stories by ReaAnne Thayne, Debbie Macomber and Robyn Carr, you’ll adore this gorgeous, heart-warming novel about starting over.

My Review

I have to admit that this book wouldn't have been my first choice to pick up. Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed this story of rediscovery, coming to terms with loss and the search for a new life.
Our heroine, Nell, has lost her best friend to cancer, her boyfriend to another woman and the baby she was carrying to miscarriage. All in all, her life has been less than perfect recently. Her best friend's dying request is that she takes her ashes back to the town she stayed in and loved as a child, Tansy Falls. She has given Nell a whole itinerary of things that she needs to do during her two-week stay. While there, Nell finds that she not only starts to fall in love with the town and the people in it, but that she also begins to rediscover herself.
I enjoyed the characters and the setting of this book. While it was quite clear where things were heading, that really didn't matter and I enjoyed seeing the story unfold. There is a romance angle here, but it really takes a back seat to Nell's journey to remember her friend and discover what she really wants out of life. Despite the quite melancholy start and the subject of the story, this is really a feel-good life-affirming tale and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. A really good read.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Author Bio:

Cate Woods made the most of her university degree in Anglo-Saxon Literature by embarking on a career making tea on programmes including The Big Breakfast, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and French & Saunders. After narrowly missing out on the chance to become a Channel 5 weather girl, she moved into the world of magazine journalism, then ghostwriting and now writes novels under her own name. She has written two best-selling romantic comedies – Just Haven't Met You Yet and More Than a Feeling – and a festive novel, The Christmas Guest, under the name Daisy Bell. Cate lives in London with her husband and two children.

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Monday, 10 May 2021

A body at the tea rooms - Dee MacDonald

 Meet Kate Palmer! A semi-retired nurse with a sweet tooth for cake and a talent for solving crimes.

Kate Palmer is most disappointed when renovations at her sister Angie’s new tea rooms are derailed after a body is discovered in the cellar. She was looking forward to clotted cream teas with a seaside view. Instead, she has another murder mystery to solve…

If the village gossip is to be believed, the unfortunate man was connected to the wealthy Hedgefield family. Kate is reluctant to get caught up in the investigation but a curious card in the victim’s jacket pocket sparks her interest. Not to mention the ridiculous rumour Angie is somehow involved! Keen to clear her sister’s name so she can finally eat cake in the charming tea rooms, Kate teams up with handsome retired Detective ‘Woody’ Forrest to untangle the baffling case.

After quizzing the locals over copious cups of tea, Kate begins to realise the Hedgefields, who live in a grand mansion and own half the village, are not as perfect as they make out. They’re hiding a long-buried family secret and plenty of people have a grudge against them, including a number of their ex-employees.

But who could have murdered a member of Lower Tinworthy’s most enviable family? Was it the old gardener? The seemingly sweet cook? Or the bitter maid?

Just as she inches closer to the truth, Angie goes missing. Does amateur sleuth Kate have what it takes to get to the bottom of this extraordinary puzzle and save her sister at the same time?

If you love murder mysteries with a brilliant cast of characters, twisty plots and plenty of cake, A Body at the Tea Rooms will have you hooked until the very last page! Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, Faith Martin and Joy Ellis.

My Review

A Body at the Tea Rooms (A Kate Palmer Novel Book 3)A Body at the Tea Rooms by Dee MacDonald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The third book in the Kate Palmer series finds Kate with a skeleton on her hands. Her sister Angela has been busy renovating her coffee shop and in the process manages to unearth a skeleton. It isn't long before Kate is deep into the mystery, trying to find out what had happened. Now that her boyfriend Woody is retired from the police force, he seems a little more willing to help her out. It's still Kate that leads this investigation.
I do enjoy these gentle mysteries. Kate is a likeable character who just seems to have a knack for getting people to open up to her. That said, I had this one figured out long before Kate did and neither she or her ex-policeman boyfriend seem to be that quick on the uptake when it comes to some of the clues.
That doesn't really matter though. The mystery worked and I enjoyed Kates attempts to get to the bottom of everything. I'm not sure what murder she'll manage to stumble across next, but I've no doubt that this will be the last one that she finds herself in the middle of.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

The Berlin Zookeeper - Anna Stuart

 Two women. One shocking wartime secret. And a family mystery just waiting to be discovered...

Berlin Zoo, 1943: Ten-year-old Adelaide and her newborn sister are orphaned after a devastating night of bombing. Heartbroken and frightened, Adelaide runs to her mother’s closest friend, Katharina Heinroth, and the kind zookeeper takes the two little girls under her protection. As the bombing intensifies, Adelaide tries to shut out the horrors of war by caring for her tiny sister and playing with the adorable baby monkeys. But when Katharina organises a dangerous operation to enable children and animals to escape the battle-scarred city, something goes wrong. And Adelaide has to promise her adopted mother to keep a shocking secret. A secret that will change Adelaide’s life forever.

Berlin Zoo, 2019: Bethan Taylor notices the elderly lady sitting on the bench next to her seems confused, her thoughts flitting between past and present. Ada talks of her childhood, played out in an underground bunker beneath the animal enclosures during the war. As Ada’s story unfolds, Bethan is surprised to hear a name she recognises…

Katharina Heinroth is at the top of a list of German names Bethan found in a hidden compartment of her late mother’s jewellery box. Bethan’s father couldn’t tell her anything about the crumpled piece of paper and she’s been searching for the meaning ever since.

As the two women are brought together by the pain of the past can they help each other to heal? And after decades of silence, can Ada help Bethan to uncover a long-buried family mystery?

An unforgettable and heart-wrenching novel of a brave orphan girl and a shocking wartime secret. Inspired by a true WW2 story and perfect for fans of Orphan Train, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Alice Network.

My Review

The Berlin ZookeeperThe Berlin Zookeeper by Anna Stuart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to admit that my knowledge of what happened to the ordinary citizens of Berlin during the war. At school, we covered plenty about what happened in Britain, but very little outside of that and certainly not what happened in Germany. It's still in many ways a contentious subject. Even so, it's hard not to feel for the people left behind to try and keep the zoo together that we learn about in this book.
The whole story is told both during the second world war and in modern-day Berlin. Although the realities are very different for the characters of the two stories, it is clear that there are links between the two. I enjoyed the way that the story switched back and forth. The modern-day storyline helped to soften some of the horrors of what they faced back at the tail end of the war. I think that had it just focused on this period, it would have been a harder read. Instead, the human interest element of Bethan attempting to find out her mother's history helped bring the rest of the story to life.
I really enjoyed this book, particularly the sections that dealt with Katharina Heinroth. I'd never heard of her, but she sounds like a fascinating character. I have to admit that the book left me wanting to know more about her and wanting to be able to visit the Berlin Zoo when such things are possible once again.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

View all my reviews

Anna Stuart lives in Derbyshire with her campervan-mad husband, two hungry teenagers and a slightly loopy dog. She was hooked on books from the moment she first opened one in her cot so is thrilled to now have several of her own to her name. Having studied English literature at Cambridge university, she took an enjoyable temporary trip into the ‘real world’ as a factory planner, before returning to her first love and becoming an author. History has also always fascinated her. Living in an old house with a stone fireplace, she often wonders who sat around it before her and is intrigued by how actively the past is woven into the present, something she likes to explore in her novels. Anna loves the way that writing lets her ‘try on’ so many different lives, but her favourite part of the job is undoubtedly hearing from readers. You can reach her on Facebook @annastuartauthor or Twitter @annastuartbooks.

Eight Minutes to Sunrise - Tamsen Schultz

 When a conspiracy leads to a second chance, anything can happen.

At the age of twenty-two, Benita Ricci walked away from the man she loved and never looked back. He was destined for great things and having her in his life would only get in his way. Sixteen years later, time has proved her right. She may have gone on to a successful career first as an Army medic then as a member of the elite Tildas Island FBI Task Force, but he’d gone on to be the Vice President of the United States. She’d resigned herself long ago to only being a part of his life from afar. Too bad fate, and the man himself, had other plans.

Calvin Matthews never knew why Nita had left him—one day she was there and the next she was gone. First to the Army and then to the FBI. But now, as a conspiracy unfolds on Tildas Island that has him at the centre, he finally has the opportunity to get some answers from the one and only woman he has ever loved. But answers aren’t the only thing he wants, especially once he has them. He wants her, all of her, back in his life for good.

But navigating old hurts, new chances, and a tentative new future aren’t the only hazards they face. There’s a conspiracy threatening Cal. A conspiracy that’s been quietly brewing for three years. A conspiracy that could destroy not just their chance at happiness, but American Democracy itself.

Grab this thrilling conclusion to the Tildas Island Series and discover just how powerful friendship, love, and second chances can be. 

My Review

Eight Minutes to Sunrise is the fifth and final book in the Tildas Island series. Like the others, it is a careful balance of thriller and romance. It brings together the storylines from the previous books, although I think that it would probably still work if you hadn't read the other books.
Benni and Cal were once a couple but when in their early twenties. Benni decided that although they were in love, they would never reach their potential or do what they needed to do if they stayed together. Now, years later, they meet again and it's clear that the spark between them has never gone out.
Cal is the vice president of the US and as such has been the ultimate target of much that the team has been dealing with. They need to bring down those working against him and clear his name. Much of this opposition is because he and the president are from different parties. I have to admit, I thought that was a bit odd, but then I am from a country where parliamentary opposition is a big part of government and we elect the party rather than the leader. I've tried to understand the US system before, but I still don't really have my head around it.
Much of the book is about bringing these people to account and explaining how the stories that we read in the previous books all weave together into one conspiracy theory. We do have Cal and Benni's second chance romance too, which is nice, but it really is the overall story that makes this book.
This is a great conclusion to an exciting and interesting series. As is often the case, I was sad to see it come to an end. I do hear that we will see some of these characters making cameo appearances in future books by Tamsen Schultz. I for one, am looking forward to meeting them again.