Tag Archives: 3/5

Book review: Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

4 Jul

do not becomeWhen Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship’s comforts and possibilities seem infinite. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor mishaps lead the families further from the ship’s safety.

One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.

What follows is a heart-racing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the distraught parents – now turning on one another and blaming themselves – try to recover their children and their shattered lives.

Do Not Become Alarmed is a little different from the other books that I’ve read lately. Every so often I like to step out of my comfort zone and although I don’t read many thrillers, I was intrigued by this story of a family cruise that goes wrong when the children go missing – surely every parent’s worst nightmare?!

The story was much more dramatic than I’d anticipated and I’d describe this book as a blockbuster missing child drama. It has everything from drug cartels, crocodiles and police corruption to car chases and murder and within exotic yet threatening Central American locations, I could see it being made into a film.

I found the storyline a little far-fetched in places, but I did enjoy this book as an escapist read. Do Not Become Alarmed is perfect reading for those who like their summer holiday reads with plenty of drama and I enjoyed the build-up of tension and the twists and turns that the story took.

I also enjoyed the psychological aspect of the story as the events that unfold bring out the best and worst of the parents of the missing children. Liv and Nora are cousins and for a number of reasons have decided to escape the confines of an American family Christmas for an all-expenses paid cruise. Together with their husbands Liv and Nora each have two children – a boy and a girl each and each child has their own strengths and weaknesses. I liked how the first section of the book lulled me into a sense of luxurious security and allowed me to get to know the children and their parents, laying the foundations for the events to come.

The children go missing when an excursion from the trip doesn’t go to plan. From this point the story splits into two separate narratives; that of Nora and the other parents desperately searching for their children and a narrative that follows the children as they try to get back to their parents. There were plenty of questions as I read and the story keeps a good pace with developments moving back and forth. I could not have predicted what would happen to the children which made this a gripping read.

My reaction to the parents’ parts of the book was interesting too; I found that I didn’t have a whole lot of sympathy for any of them but like a good soap opera, I wanted to know what the outcome would be! As the local police try to reunite the families the spotlight is turned on the parents and with stress levels at a peak the relationships are really tested. This was great for showing the true characters of each parent and secrets and underlying stories made for compelling reading.


Do Not Become Alarmed is out now in paperback, ebook and audio formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Find out more about Maile and her writing at: https://www.mailemeloy.com/

Book review: The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse

2 Oct

TheNeverlandWarsCoverMagic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That’s what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.

However, Gwen doesn’t know this. She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn’t know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she’ll discover she’s in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.

She’ll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won’t be the only one. Peter Pan’s constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she’s going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she’s going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.

As regular readers will know, I love a good cover and the beautiful cover for The Neverland Wars leaped out at me straight away. I also love to read re-tellings or re-workings of classic stories so the premise for this novel immediately appealed!

The Neverland Wars is the story of sixteen year old Gwen who loves to tell fantastical stories to her little sister. After an evening of story telling, Gwen finds herself thrown into her very own magical story as her little sister is taken in the night by Peter Pan! The premise for this book is very interesting; that adults have been using magic for their own benefit and a war is brewing between the two worlds over the use of magic! As Gwen follows her sister to Neverland she’s drawn into the fray and has to decide where her loyalties lie.

Gwen is a very sensible girl and the opening chapters of the book give a good insight into her life at home and at school. I liked that Audrey Greathouse drew out the frustrations often felt by teenagers as they teeter on the cusp between childhood and adulthood. This is a key theme in the book and I liked the way the story invited debate although at times I felt that Gwen’s character seemed quite ‘young’ for a sixteen year old. I also liked the author’s exploration of an ageing Peter Pan; his visits to our world have caused him to get older and this opens up an interesting side to the story.

The magical elements of the story are beautifully written and I enjoyed discovering Neverland with Gwen including mermaids, pirates, crocodiles and fairies but I was a little disappointed that Tinkerbell didn’t make an appearance. As Gwen has to decide where her future lies, the story really picks up pace and leaves the reader wanting more with a dramatic ending! This is the first novel in a trilogy and Audrey has just announced that book two, The Piper’s Price will be available in February 2017. Do check out Audrey’s website for more details and another fab cover!


I’d like to thank Audrey for sending me a review copy of this book.

You can find out more about Audrey and her writing at: https://audreygreathouse.com/

Book review: Danger Sweetheart by Maryjanice Davidson

12 May

danger sweetheartThis city boy’s about to get a taste of country life . . .

Blake Tarbell has a town to save. Rich, carefree, and used to the Vegas party lifestyle, Blake is thrown for a curve when his former cocktail-waitress mother pleads he go back to her roots to save the town she grew up in. Blake’s used to using money to solve his problems, but when he arrives in Sweetheart, North Dakota, this city boy has to trade in his high-priced shoes for a pair of cowboy boots – and he’s about to get a little help from the loveliest lady in town . . .

Natalie Lane’s got no time for newbies. The prettiest gal to ever put on a pair of work gloves, there’s nothing she can’t do to keep a farm up and running. But when a handsome city-slicker rolls into town with nothing but bad farmer’s instincts and good intentions, Natalie’s heartstrings are pulled. She’s about to teach him a thing or two about how to survive in Sweetheart. And he’s about to teach her a thing or two about love.

Doesn’t the cover of this book just shout ‘summer’. This is a book that is really going to stand out on the shelves! Having had my eye caught by the cover I looked at the author and at first I couldn’t remember why her name was so familiar and then I realised that Maryjanice Davidson is the author of the fabulous and funny ‘Undead’ series – a paranormal/chicklit crossover series I discovered many years ago and absolutely loved – do check it out.

So, back to the book in question; there’s a fab author note at the front of the book from Maryjanice explaining why she’s written this story and how the idea came to her.  Danger, Sweetheart is a story based around romance tropes or stereotypes and pays homage to the genre whilst not being afraid to laugh at it too. I think it’s important to understand the trope theme to enjoy the book properly and Maryjanice has certainly had fun with the tropes in this book.

For me a big part of the enjoyment of reading this book was spotting the tropes and wondering which one will come next. There are twins who of course are opposites,  a rake actually called ‘Rake’, a city boy going to work on a farm (he has no idea!) and much, much more. This is a romance novel that isn’t afraid to laugh at itself or the genre it belong is and the story moves along at a great pace.

Starting with a prologue that sets the tone for the book with lots of quick, witty banter and ‘tell it like it is’ lines, the story swiftly moves to the present where we meet Blake Tarbell and his twin brother Rake. Blake and Rake are absolute opposites intellectually and their banter made me smile but deep down they can’t help love each other. Blake, being the more sensible of the two is the first son his mother calls on in a crisis. This crisis call leads him to Sweetheart, North Dakota. Sweetheart is a town on the out and Blake’s mum want’s him to try to save it but he can’t use his fortune and there lies the test!

Blake’s antics in Sweetheart kept me amused as I read; from falling out of his truck to going to extreme lengths to tame a horse, Maryjanice has much fun with Blake in this book. And then there’s the girl (of course there’s a gir!l). Natalie Lane is the leading lady of this story and I had fun reading as she ad Blake faced off. Maryjanice often includes a character’s inner dialogue alongside their outward one and these little asides made me smile.

Danger Sweetheart is a fun light-hearted summer romance and is the first in a new series.


I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Danger, Sweetheart is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Maryjanice and her writing at: http://www.maryjanicedavidson.net/


Short story Spotlight: Tapestry by Elle Turner

6 Mar

tapestry_front150dpiIn hope, in pain,
we lose, we gain,
but always and forever
the human heart braves life
in light and in shade

A collection of twelve short stories exploring the complexities of life and love.

Tapestry is Elle Turner’s debut collection of twelve short stories that focus on different aspects of love and relationships. I’m a big fan of short stories and there’s something to appeal to everyone in this collection. I was impressed by the breadth of relationships that Elle covers in her collection and collectively, Tapestry is an emotional read examining everything from first love, unrequited love and lost love to parenthood and friendship.

There were three stories that particularly caught my attention and stayed with me; the first was The Letter where Elle puts us in the shoes of parents whose daughter has been sent to prison. I thought Elle perfectly captured the love of a parent and the complexity of that love against the child’s wrongdoing. I would have liked a little more detail from the story and to know what happened next but it was certainly thought provoking.

My favourite story in the collection is Meeting Eric – a lovely story with a touching twist to it. I won’t give any spoilers here but I loved the positivity of this story. Similarly, The Beginning, set during the first few weeks of the lead character starting university was an uplifting story made all the more poignant because of the link between it and another story in the book set later in the characters lives.

There are a number of stories that link together in Tapestry and I liked the twists that this gave and how my perspective changed as I knew more about particular characters. Elle isn’t afraid to look at the darker and less positive side to relationships too and I found I Hope You Get Your Rabbit and Again particularly emotional.

Tapestry captures lives ups and downs in a series of believable and poignant snapshots and if you’re looking for a collection of short stories that will make you think, this could be the collection for you.


Tapestry is out now in ebook formats.

I’d like to thank the author for providing a review copy of this book.

Find out more about Elle Turner and her writing at: http://elleturnerwriter.com/

Book review: The Faithful Couple by A.D. Miller

13 Feb

faithfulTurn a betrayal inside out and you found its opposite, a secret and a bond. Perhaps that was what friendship came down to: a lifelong, affectionate mutual blackmail.

Neil and Adam, two young men on the cusp of adulthood, meet one golden summer in California and, despite their different backgrounds, soon become best friends. Buton a camping trip in Yosemite they lead each other into wrongdoing that, years later, both will desperately regret.

Their connection holds through love affairs, fatherhood, the wild successes and unforeseen failures of booming London, as power and guilt ebb between them.

Then the truth of that long-ago night emerges.

What happens when you discover that the friendship you can’t live without was always built on a lie?

The description of The Faithful Couple as the “One Day of male friendship” (Jonathan Freedland) had me intrigued – I’m a big fan of stories that follow the development of romance and friendship over time so I was very interested to see how this kind of narrative would work when looking at male friendship. I was also intrigued by a book that focused soley on male friendship as the majority of books that I read focus on female friendships.

The novel follows Neil and Adam from 1993 to 2011, from their chance meeting in California where they are both young and free, taking some time out for adventure, then through their lives as jobs and relationships come and go and family ties and ‘growing up’ change them both. I liked the way the story was set out, with chapters set chronologically, giving a view of both men’s lives as they got older. Many of the issues that Neil and Adam face; finding a job, being successful in that job, getting married, having children, falling in love, the loss of a parent, are universal and there was much that I could empathise with.

Underlying all of these events and Adam and Neil’s friendship through the years is an event that occurs when Neil and Adam visit Yosemite for a camping adventure in 1993. To provide details here would spoil the story but this single event has repercussions through the decades and I found The Faithful Couple to be a fascinating look at how a single moment in time can echo through the years and have an impact long after the incident has passed. I enjoyed the way that both Neil and Adam’s reactions and reflections on the events in Yosemite changed as they got older and gained more life experience and I thought Miller captured the subtleties of the emotions of both men really well.

Neil and Adam are both interesting characters and although I didn’t particularly like either of them and I certainly didn’t agree with a lot of their actions during the book, my interest was held by the dynamic between them. Initially, their assessment of each other is class based and notions of privilege and wealth fester under the surface but as they grow older and know each other more, jobs, money and relationship are all sticking points for their friendship and I had to keep reading to see where the relationship would end up.

Miller’s writing is very readable and I enjoyed his descriptions and insight into the everyday. I’d like to read his Man-Booker nominated Snowdrops next.


The Faithful Friend is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


Book review: Bride Without A Groom by Amy Lynch

26 May

bride without a groomRebecca has chosen the most luscious, five tiered, wedding cake. The engagement ring that she has selected is celebrity inspired. The wedding singer is on speed dial. He doesn’t usually do Michael Bolton, but as it’s for a first dance he’ll make an exception. Father Maguire is checking dates for the parish church as we speak. The deposit on the white sand honeymoon is paid for in full on Barry’s card. She has fallen for an ivory lace couture gown that is to die for. The down payment may require her to sell a left kidney, but it will be worth it. Isn’t that why you have two?

There’s one teeny tiny problem. It’s nothing, really. No need to panic! It’s just that Barry has yet to propose. Says he’s not ready! He can be a bit of a kill joy that way. It’s time to face the harsh reality – Rebecca is a bride without a groom!

Bride without a groom is Amy Lynch’s prettily pink debut novel and is a fun frolic through the perils of planning your wedding! The twist? Leading lady, Rebecca is a bride without a groom as her boyfriend of four years has yet to propose to her!

Rebecca has planned everything from the rings to the honeymoon and of course The Dress. But it’s not just planning; so sure is Rebecca that boyfriend Barry will propose that she has actually taken steps to make her dreams reality! This novel takes the Brudezilla character to the extreme and is very funny but also a little scary and definitely a good reminder that keeping it real is always good (or at least waiting for the proposal before putting the deposit on the honeymoon!)

As Rebecca bemoans her decidedly not engaged status with her best friends there is much drowning of sorrows and some fun escapades involving too much wine, drunken Karaoeke and a comic brush with speed dating! The girls banter made me smile and whether taking a tongue in cheek look at wedding planning or motherhood, Amy Lynch has a ready dark wit throughout the book.

I started off feeling a little sorry for Rebecca’s boyfriend Barry (she does come across as a little crazy after all) but then his behaviour at points in the novel had me wondering why they were ever together too. I didn’t completely warm to either character although they did make me laugh and both managed to shock me a few times too!

Rebecca’s penchant for lists was a fun addition to the book as she often uses them to weigh up her options as her relationship goes from bad to worse. Her approach and advice reminded me a little of Bridget Jones and I enjoyed the tongue in cheek ‘advice’ in the book.

Bride Without A Groom is a fun, lighthearted look at marriage and wedding planning and will put the majority of brides’ wishes and demands firmly into the shade. A fun book for wedding season and summer holiday reading.


Bride Without a Groom is out now in ebook formats and will be released as a paperback on 16th July.

Book review: The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank

26 Apr

hurricane sistersHurricane season begins early and rumbles all summer long – for three generations of one family, drama is headed in their direction too.

At eighty, determined matriarch Maisie Pringle is a force to be reckoned with. She will have the final word on everything, especially when she’s dead wrong. Her daughter, Liz, is caught up in the classic maelstrom of being middle-age and in an emotionally demanding career that will eventually open all their eyes to a terrible truth. And Liz’s beautiful twenty-something daughter, Ashley, dreams of a future that keeps them all at odds.

This storm season, Maisie, Liz, and Ashley will deal with challenges that demand they face the truth about themselves. Can they establish a new order for the future of the family?

This is the often hilarious, sometimes sobering but always entertaining story of how these unforgettable women became The Hurricane Sisters.

If you like strong (but flawed) female characters and family drama, The Hurricane Sisters is the novel for you. Telling the story of three generations of women from the same family, we meet grandmother Maisie, her daughter Liz and the youngest member of the dynasty, granddaughter Ashley who is in her twenties.

I was immediately drawn to the setting for this book. Dorothea Benton Frank’s descriptions of Charleston and the fading beach house that the family owns overlooking the harbour are wonderful. I have a huge love for books set in the American South and its clear that the author loves this part of the world too and the locations and characters have plenty of quirky Southern charm.

Family head Masie can only be described as a firecracker with her much younger boyfriend and her taste for adventure. The novel opens with her daughter collecting get from jail for a minor misdemeanour! She’s also wise and I liked her voice in the story a lot.

Liz took me longer to warm to; the book is narrated from multiple perspectives and my initial view of Liz was quite negative but as the story progressed that changed and the author cleverly shows another side to Liz with her charity work for women who have suffered domestic violence.

Domestic abuse is a strong theme in the novel and the statistics presented are eye opening. At times this makes for difficult reading but makes an important point and will raise awareness, particularly of how easy it is for women from any walk of life to find themselves in a relationship that isn’t good for them on many levels.

Aside from the key theme, there’s plenty of family drama to keep the story moving and hold interest and the mix of perspectives and personalities certainly kept me thinking about the nature of love and family relationships as I read. There were times when I wished there had been a deeper exploration of a character and their actions but overall I enjoyed discovering this book and a new author and will look forward to reading more from Dorothea Benton Frank in future. Fans of Debbie Macomber and Nora Roberts should certainly give her a try.


The Hurricane Sisters is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Dorothea and her novels at: http://www.dotfrank.com/

Book review: The Temptation of Lila and Ethan by Jessica Sorensen

15 May

Ella’s best friend Lila has always been a good girl who likes pretty clothes and preppy boys. But ever since the first day she met Micha’s best friend Ethan, she hasn’t been able to stop thinking about him.

Girls have always flocked to Ethan — but never princesses like Lila. And until Lila came into his life he never wanted them to. From the outside the two couldn’t seem more different, but somehow they have a connection deeper and more intense than anyone could have imagined.

Can two people from such dramatically different worlds really have a love that lasts?

I’m a big fan of Jessica Sorensen’s Ella and Micha stories so I was very much looking forward to reading her latest novel, The Temptation of Lila and Ethan which focuses in on Ella and Micha’s best friends who were thrown together when Ella and Micha got together.

Although this book is part of the Ella and Micha series I do think you could read it as a stand alone as it focuses on Lila and Ethan and their pasts and lives in the present and neatly recaps how they met and the progression of their friendship to this point. That said, for fans of the series, there are updates and even appearances from Ella and Micha in this book which will make it essential reading!

The story begins with a prologue that focuses on a much younger Lila and Ethan and fills in some of each character’s back story. The history of the pair, their families and relationships does not make for happy reading and I thought this novel had a much darker tone than previous books of Jessica’s that I’ve read with themes including drugs and sexual abuse. This novel is firmly in the New Adult category with its descriptions and language.

I thought the prologue set the scene well and as we move to the present day for the main part of the book it is clear to see that the experiences of both characters have had a dramatic impact on their lives. Sorensen tantalisingly leaves many of the details of the intervening years unexplained and had me turning the pages as fast as I could to find out exactly what had happened to Lila and Ethan and what the consequences would be.

Although I thought both characters were well written, it took me a little while to warm to them both and as they struggled to come to terms with their pasts I didn’t like many of Lila’s actions. The romance element of the novel develops slowly but is certainly passionate when it flares and I loved the underlying tension between Lila and Ethan.

The Temptation of Lila and Ethan is narrated from the dual perspectives of its lead characters and I liked being able to see both sides of the story and get two (often very different) perspectives on events. There’s a lot of sadness in this story and I found it hard reading emotionally at times and I finished the book not feeling as uplifted as I’d expected.

As always, I found myself wondering what happened to the characters next and was pleased to see that Jessica Sorensen has released a follow up short story ebook (currently free on Amazon) to answer that question. I read Lila and Ethan: Forever and Always as soon as I’d finished this book and it was an excellent extension to the story.

I’m now looking forward to reading The Forever After of Ella and Micha which is out as an ebook now and released in paperback later in the year.


The Temptation of Lila and Ethan is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Find out more about Jessica Sorensen and her writing at: http://jessicasorensensblog.blogspot.co.uk/

Book review: Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

15 May

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted. Ambushed by an ancient evil, Moria and Ashyn must race to warn the empire of a terrifying threat. Accompanied by a dashing thief and a warrior with a dark history, the sisters battle their way across a wasteland filled with reawakened monsters of legend.

But there are more sinister enemies waiting for them at court – and a secret that will alter the balance of their world forever. The first volume in the Age of Legends trilogy, Sea of Shadows is a thrilling dark fantasy where evil hides in every shadow and the deadliest monsters of all come in human form . . .

Kelly Armstrong is an author with a huge list of books to her name and writes both adult and young adult fiction but is a new author to me. This book was a surprise in the post from the publisher and I couldn’t resist taking a look when it arrived one Saturday. I read the first chapter and found myself sneaking in a chapter here and there whenever I could from that point.

Set in a dark and dangerous fantasy world, Sea of Shadows is the first book in the Age of Legends series and follows the fortunes of twin sisters Ashyn and Moria, in their roles as Keeper and Seeker charged with entering the Forest of the Dead to find the souls of the damned and help them find peace.

We meet the sisters as they prepare to carry out the rituals for the first time alone and I liked both of them as characters from the start. Ashyn is the quieter, more reflective sister while Moria exudes confidence and is apt to act on impulse. The relationship between the two girls is a strong one as they try to fulfil their destinies and look out for each other.

As Ashyn enters the forest for the first time the action soon picks up pace and there are a series of ‘heart in mouth’ moments as it soon becomes clear that all is not as it should be. There’s a fair amount of horror and gore in this novel with some truly awful creatures! I liked the rich background of legends, omens and stories that Armstrong created to support the story and I hope future books delve into the mythology even more.

I thought the pace of the first third of the book was excellent but I did feel  that the story slowed after that as the girls try to discover what or who has ravaged their village. I liked the fact that the girls were very much in the lead and ultimately in control throughout the book and it was interesting to watch their relationships with their supporting leading men develop as the book progressed.

There are some excellent twists throughout the novel and I look forward to seeing how the story develops through the next books in the series.


Sea of Shadows is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Id like to thank the publisher for sending me a review copy.

Find out more about Kelley Armstrong and her writing at: http://www.kelleyarmstrong.com/

Book review: The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry

13 Feb

One morning a librarian finds a reader who has been locked in overnight.

She begins to talk to him, a one-way conversation full of sharp insight and quiet outrage. As she rails against snobbish senior colleagues, an ungrateful and ignorant public, the strictures of the Dewey Decimal System and the sinister expansionist conspiracies of the books themselves, two things shine through: her unrequited passion for a researcher named Martin, and an ardent and absolute love for the arts.

As a librarian I’m always intrigued by books that feature libraries and librarians so I couldn’t resist picking this little book up when I was out shopping last week – it has such an intriguing title and I love the cover.

The story starts as a librarian prepares to open her section of the library for the day. Finding a man that has been locked in the library overnight she wakes him up and begins to talk to (at) him. Sophie Divry uses her frustrated lead character to give commentary on history, love, libraries, politics, books and much more.

I found The Library of Unrequited Love an engaging read and the comments of the leading lady often made me smile but there were also sections that lost me a little and this was a story that I couldn’t quite make up my mind about as I read.

The librarian is what many would stereotype as a ‘typical’ librarian;  a middle aged woman who lives alone and hides away in a basement library obsessing over the books in her care and I think in some ways the book reinforces an image of librarians that many of us work hard to change.  That said, there’s a fab thread of dark humour running through her rant and I enjoyed the fact that there was a hint of romance in the story too (albeit unrequited) as our librarian lusts after Martin the researcher.

The Library of Unrequited Love is a clever read and told entirely from the point of view of the librarian. The form was so different from anything I’ve read that it really intrigued me and at only 92 pages, I loved that I could read this in a day. The book is full of beautiful quotes about libraries, books and reading and I loved the librarian’s relationship with her books both in and out of the library and I’m sure all book lovers and readers will identify with her in some way. I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from the book which I think is particularly apt as it’s Valentine’s day tomorrow!

“Love, for me, is something I find in books. I read a lot, it’s comforting. You’re never alone if you live surrounded by books. They lift my spirit.”


The Library of Unrequited Love is out now in paperback and ebook formats.