Challenge Participant


Monday, 14 August 2017

Blog Tour - Escape to Willow Cottage by Bella Osborne

Today I am pleased to welcome Bella Osborne to my blog to celebrate the publication of her latest novel 'Escape to Willow Cottage'. 

Escape to Willow Cottage - Willow Cottage Series (Paperback)The Escape to Willow Cottage was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package. A cosy and heartwarming seasonal romance, perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley. Beth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a warm, caring and safe place for little Leo. When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it's not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage. Over the course of four seasons, Beth realises that broken hearts can be mended, and sometimes love can be right under your nose... Escape to Willow Cottage was originally digitally published as a four-part serial under the title Willow Cottage. This is the complete story.
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers 
ISBN: 9780008181024 

I have really enjoyed 'Escape to Willow Cottage'. It it is great read for enjoying on a sun lounger this summer. I live near the Cotswolds and so it was great to read a book set in an area where I could picture the scene. The story is a really enjoyable to read and although on the surface it may appear to be a nice gentle read, there is a darker story underneath which I am sure some readers will identify with. There is a great cast of characters. Beth is a strong women who has faced a knock to her confidence and arrives at Willow Cottage having bought it unseen and as she renovates the cottage, her life also begins to regrow. Carly is also a great character, along with her partner, Fergus who is deaf. I can imagine him as a really cheeky chap who brings life to any occasion. 

The publishers have provided me with an extract from the novel. Carly is Beth's friend who is still living in London. She lives with Fergus and wants to take their relationship to the next stage and get married by Fergus does not appear to be on the same page ...........

Carly loved Fergus, there was no question about it, but some of the things she loved about him were also the things that drove her slightly crackers. As she opened the front door she could hear him chattering excitedly in his playroom. That was what she called their spare room; he grandly referred to their converted second bedroom as his office but, seeing as all he did was play computer games all day, she thought her label was far more appropriate. She pushed on the door so it opened a fraction. It went quiet inside and he popped his head round the door in greeting.

Hiya, C. Good day?’ he asked, his game controller clutched between his thighs and his uncombed dark hair falling across his face.

Youve not got dressed. Carly puffed out her cheeks.

Fergus looked down at his Minecraft lounge trousers and grinned. ‘I have, I was wearing Batman ones this morning. The door shut behind him. Every day was a pyjama day to Fergus – how he managed to pay his share of the bills into the joint account each month Carly had no idea. He had tried to explain how it worked a couple of times but, whilst she did use the Internet occasionally, she didnt really get it and it still baffled her how he got paid for playing childrens games.

She pouted at the shut door and listened to him gabbling on to himself like a total loon. His own grandmothers phrase popped into her head, recited in her broad Irish accent, Thick as manure but only half as useful.

Carly started chopping vegetables for a stir-fry and found the action quite therapeutic, although the more she chopped and sliced the more disgruntled she became. It was Wednesday night and she always saw Beth on a Wednesday night; it was takeaway and natter night, a chance to have a night off from signing and give her aching wrists a rest. That had all changed now that Beth had gone.

The flats door entry buzzer interrupted her thoughts. She put down the knife and went to see who it was. There was a hunched figure on the screen.
Carly pressed the button to speak. Yeah?’ Carly, its Nick. Can I come up?’

Carly felt her heart start to race. No, you bloody well cant. Sod off. She leaned across the hallway and opened the playroom door. Fergus looked irritated at first until she pointed at the screen to show Nicks face peering at them in black and white.
Come on, Carly. Elizabeth has blown this all out of proportion. I want to fix things but I cant if she wont take my calls.

Carly felt the need to shout, Out of proportion! You shit, you hit her!’
Carly, this is between me and Elizabeth. Tell me where she is. I just want to know shes all right.

I dont know where she is, she lied, but she is fine now shes away from you.

Whats he saying?’ asked Fergus and Carly relayed the conversation. Tell him to feck off, said Fergus.

‘Ive tried that. You go down and see him.

‘Dressed like this?’

Carly shrugged; perhaps he would now see the benefits of getting dressed on a daily basis. She turned her attention back to Nick.

Nick, you can stand there till Christmas for all I care. Youre not coming in and I’ll never tell you where she is even if I knew. She put down the entryphone. Nick stood and stared at the screen for a bit. She watched as he tried the door a couple of times and pressed the button again. Carly ignored it. Nick leaned on the button.

Carly swore and then answered. ‘I’ll call the police.

‘I need to speak to her. Nicks voice had a harsh tone to it now.

Never going to happen.

‘I will find her. I guarantee it,’ warned Nick as he stared into the monitor. Carly watched him, her heart racing. He gave the door one last try and then walked away.

Fergus hugged Carly. You okay?’

No, not really. Beth said hed come looking for her. I think

Im starting to understand why shes run so far away.

Thank you to the publishers, Avon, and Bella Osborne for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for sending me an exclusive extract of this fantastic novel.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Blog Tour - The House by Simon Lelic

The House: The brilliantly tense and terrifying thriller with a shocking twist - whose story do you believe? (Paperback)THE PERFECT COUPLE. THE PERFECT HOUSE. THE PERFECT CRIME.The heart-stopping thriller about a husband and wife who are hiding something from each other, and from you...This book won't let you go until you've found out the truth. Perfect for fans of Erin Kelly, Gillian Flynn and Fiona Barton. Whose story do YOU believe?Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it. So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.Because someone has just been murdered outside their back door. And now the police are watching them.THIS STORY IS THEIR CHANCE... TO PROVE THEY'RE INNOCENT. OR TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER.
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd 
ISBN: 9780241296547 

Once or twice a year a novel is released which stays with the reader for a long time. There is a book which has a great storyline, the characters from within who get under the reader's skin and can not be forgotten and this is one of those books for 2017.
It has a hard hitting storyline, one which includes child abuse but it should not be shied away from because of this. The author, SImon Lelic, is renowned for writing books with controversial and thought provoking story lines and his books are high in charts, with readers enjoying his style of writing and content.
I really liked that there are two narrators of the story and that much of the story is told through memories by Sydney and Jack, who are writing their stories for each other. I really found the beginning of the book addictive and felt the scene was set for the rest of the book. There was an increasing spookiness and this continued throughout the book.  The suspense was a great aspect of the book and although I don't usually like spooky storylines this one captured my attention to the very end.

Thank you to the publishers, Penguin,  for sending me the book to review and inviting me to be a part of this blog tour. 

Friday, 4 August 2017

Blog Tour - Jenny Sparrow Knows the Future by Melissa Pimentel

Jenny Sparrow Knows the Future (Paperback)

Jenny Sparrow can tell you her future:

1. Meet soulmate at 25 
2. Move in with him
3. Marry him this year . . . 

According to the plan Jenny made at thirteen, it's time for her to get married. But when her boyfriend proposes a break instead of a wedding, a girls' weekend in Vegas is the only solution . . . until she wakes up in a stranger's bed, and discovers that this is the year she gets married - to the wrong man.
Jenny wants a quick divorce and her old boyfriend back.
But what if her accidental husband has other ideas?

Many girls dream about their futures, write their life plans in their special notebook, plan to marry a tall, dark, handsome gentleman, married by twenty five and have two children by the age of thirty. Jenny Sparrow wrote her list in her best friend's, Isla's, bedroom. Fast forward to Jenny's thirty first birthday and she is convinced that her boyfriend is about to pop the question and she can tick, marry him when 31 off her list! However that is not the case and, following an argument with her boyfriend where he suggests a break, a quick trip over to Vegas to see Isla leads to her marrying someone else!

The storyline is a little far fetched, however it is one of those story's which would make a great film. 

I found this book a really quick read and reminded me of LIndsey Kelk's popular 'I Heart' series. I really liked Jenny's accidental husband, a sexy urban cowboy, who travelled over to London to meet up with his new wife. I enjoyed Melissa's writing style, funny and full of witty dialogue, and perfect to read on a sun lounger this summer. 

Thank you to the publishers, Penguin Random House for sending me the book to review and inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter BLOG TOUR

The Good Daughter (Hardback)

The stunning new standalone, with a chilling edge of psychological suspense, from the No. 1 bestselling author of the Will Trent and Grant County series.
Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…
Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn's happy smalltown family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – Pikeville's notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.
Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father's footsteps to become a lawyer herself – the archetypal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again – and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatised – Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it's a case which can't help triggering the terrible memories she's spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won't stay buried for ever…

I really enjoy Karin Slaughter’s popular Grant County series which features Will Trent and so when I was offered the opportunity to have a sneak peak of her new, standalone, novel ‘ The Good Daughter’ my fingers were crossed that it would be as good, if not, better and I have not been disappointed.
The book starts with a frightening memory of two young sisters being walked, at gunpoint, into the woods behind their home after seeing their mother shot dead by intruders who were looking for their father.  Fast forward twenty eight years and we, the readers, follow Charlie’s story as she is the witness in another case which leads to painful memories of the tradegy that shaped her life all those years ago.
A well paced book which keeps the reader’s attention right to the very end. Karin Slaughter has written a fantastic stand alone book which will appeal to readers who enjoy a high intensity psychological suspense story. The reader is lead through a number of twists and turns which is set in the present day but also links back to Charlie’s childhood and a time that she has tried hard to leave behind.  Throughout the book I enjoyed the high intensity and building fast pace of the novel and I found myself  being shocked many times during the story as Slaughter slips in an unexpected twist or reveal.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a great read this summer time. It is one of those books that once a reader starts they are enthralled to the very end so make sure you have time to devour this book as it is not easy to put it down once started.

Thank you to the publishers, Harper Collins, for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Blog Tour - Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old by Hendrik Groen

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 831/4 Years Old (Paperback)The hilarious international bestselling novel that has had pensioners ditching their sticks and zimmers to follow the age-defying, youth inducing antics inside The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old . . . 'Terrific. This geriatric Adrian Mole made me laugh' Woman and Home 'Funny and touching' BBC Radio 4 Meet Hendrik Groen. An octogenarian in a care home who has no intention of doing what he's told, or dying quietly. To that end, he creates the Old-But-Not-Dead Club and with his fellow members sets about living his final years with careless abandon. Such anarchism infuriates the care home director but pleases Eefje, the woman who makes Hendrik's frail heart palpitate. If it's never too late to have fun, then can it ever be too late to meet the love of your life? 'So much more than just a comedy' John Boyne 'A story with a great deal of heart' Graeme Simsion, The Rosie Project 'Amusing and wickedly accurate. A handbook of resistance for our time.' Sunday Express 'Very funny' Jeremy Paxman Financial Times
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd 
ISBN: 9781405924009 
As a teenager I really enjoyed The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole 13 3/4 and have read the whole series, so when I was asked to review 'The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 years old' I was intrigued to see how the format worked for an older generation. It worked really well with Hendrik documenting his everyday life, filling his diary full of observations of the life of the members of the 'Old But Not Dead Club'. As it can be assumed there are many happy but also some low and sad moments throughout the book, however they are dealt  with in a sympathetic manner and not dwelt upon for long periods.
I found myself laughing out loud throughout the book as Hendrik described his day to day life in the care home. There is a great supporting cast of residents who also live in the care home. Day to day life is really that, with the ups and downs documented along with the weird and wonderful instances that I can imagine happening as the care homes aging population deal with their various medical conditions while living their lives to the max. Recurring themes are evident throughout the book and the feeding of the fish is one which I enjoyed. Do fish really enjoy Battenburg? 
I really enjoyed this book and strongly recommend it to others who want a great read this summer time. It is predominantly a laugh out loud book, however also be aware that there are some poignant and tear inducing moments sprinkled throughout.
Thank you to the publishers, Penguin Randomhouse, for sending me the book to review and to take part in this blog tour.