Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland

Wilde Like Me

Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland
Published: 1st July 2017
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Pages: 400
Available in Hardcover and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
You'll never forget the day you meet Robin Wilde!

Robin Wilde is an awesome single mum. She's great at her job. Her best friend Lacey and bonkers Auntie Kath love her and little Lyla Blue to the moon and back. From the outside, everything looks just fine.

But behind the mask she carefully applies every day, things sometimes feel . . . grey. And lonely.

After 4 years (and 2 months and 24 days!) of single-mum-dom, it's time for Robin Wilde to Change. Her. Life!

A little courage, creativity and help from the wonderful women around her go a long way. And Robin is about to embark on quite an adventure . . .

Review
I was sent a sampler of Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland from the publishers and after reading it I was desperate to read the rest of Robin’s story, luckily for me I was then sent the full copy to review but this is one of those books I think every woman should read.
Robin has been a single mum to Lyla for just over four years and on the outside she appears to have everything sorted. She’s an amazing mum to Lyla, great at her job as a make-up artist and loved by those closest to her, best friend Lacey and Auntie Kath. But on the inside Robin is struggling with life and on many days she feels grey and alone. She struggles to connect with fellow school mums, goes from one dating disaster to the next and fights to find anything in her cluttered up house.  One day Robin decides enough is enough and it’s time to get her life back on track. As Robin starts to grab life with both hands things start to happen and maybe….just maybe Robin can have the life she longs for.
I loved Robin from page one of this book she’s full of sass and attitude and such overwhelming love for daughter Lyla that you just can’t help but cheer for her. I could totally identify with her moments of uncertainty about her life, we’ve all been through rough times and what I loved about Robin was she never gave up.
I wasn’t totally convinced by her whole concept of needing a man to feel complete, especially some of the men which meets for dates, but towards the end of the novel she loses this notion and realises she’s great on her own.
I found this book extremely light-hearted and full of fun even though there are some more serious themes making appearances.  One of my favourite scenes involved Robin’s daughter Lyla playing on her phone and having a go on Tinder, so funny to read how mortified Robin is. Another of my favourite scenes involved the Easter Bonnet completion at school. I just loved the reactions of most of the characters in this scene, just brilliant.
I have not encountered Louise Pentland in the world of YouTube so have no pre-conceptions of her as an author. I really enjoyed reading Wilde Like Me for the light-hearted and inspiring book its meant to be. For me it would make the ideal relaxation read, perfect for a beach holiday. I’d love to read more of Robin’s story whether it mirrors Louise’s own life or not.
Thank you to Emily at Bonnier Zaffre for sending me a copy to review.


Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Blog Tour Review: The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34818163-the-room-by-the-lake?ac=1&from_search=true

The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin
Published: 10th August 2017
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 310
Available in Hardcover and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
When Caitlin left London for New York, she thought she'd left her problems behind: her alcoholic father, her dead mother, the unrelenting pressure to succeed. But now, down to her last dollar in a strange city, she is desperately lonely.
Then she finds Jake. Handsome, smart, slightly damaged Jake. And he wants her to meet his family.
He takes her to a lake house in the middle of the woods – in the middle of nowhere. The community there live off-grid. They believe in regular exercise and group therapy. And they're friendly. Really friendly.
Turns out they're not Jake's real family – but isn't family exactly what she's running from?
But as the days drift by, Caitlin starts to feel uneasy. Now that she's no longer running, does she risk getting lost forever?

Review
Emma Dibdin’s debut novel The Room by the Lake is a cleverly written and chilling insight into cult life experienced through our main character Caitlin’s eyes.

Caitlin has arrived in New York after fleeing London and her troubles. Her mother has recently died and she can’t bear to fight with her father over his alcoholism anymore. So she leaves her house, throws her phone in the river and gets on a plane to New York. But now she’s here she desperately lonely, bored and starting to run out of money. Then one night she meets Jake, handsome rugged and slightly damaged she’s instantly drawn to him. After spending a week together Jake asks her to come and visit his family’s lake house a few hours away. Reluctantly Caitlin agrees but she’s not sure more family is what she needs. When she arrives she realises they are not his actual family but a group of people living off-grid and following a regime of exercise, mind therapy and special diets. They seem friendly enough so Caitlin agrees to stay for a while but it’s not long before she starts to get an uneasy feeling about exactly what is going on in this lakeside community.

Right from the start this book made me feel a little unnerved and I felt worried for Caitlin, who seems very lost. She tries to strike up random conversations with strangers in order to become part of their world but this doesn’t work and leaves her more desperate. When she meets Jake she feels like she’s struck gold he seems perfect as he gives her the affection she’s been longing for. I found it very scary just how easily Caitlin was convinced to stay at the lakeside community. She doesn’t seem to question any part of the authority which leader figure Don has instilled in her almost instantly, but then this is what Caitlin has been craving from her father, someone to set boundaries and give punishments.

The majority of the other characters in this book remain a little vague but this works well in the setting they are in, all their personalities seem to mould together and form a united view of the world. The only character other than Jake and Caitlin that I liked was Tyra. There are moments when we see the fun loving cheeky girl she used to be, I wish there had been more of these moments.

There is an eeriness to this book which slowly builds throughout the book making it a very gripping story as you want to read more to find out what this bad thing you’re dreading is. Emma Dibdin has created the perfect atmosphere for this genre and created a very intense read which you won’t be able to put down. As a debut novel I think The Room by the Lake is brilliant and I’m looking forward to what Emma Dibdin has to offer next.

Thank you to Head of Zeus for sending me this copy to review and for inviting me on this blog tour.


Monday, 24 July 2017

Blog Tour Review: It Was Only Ever You by Kate Kerrigan

It Was Only Ever You

It Was Only Ever You by Kate Kerrigan
Published: 13th July 2017 (PB)
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 448
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
Set in late 1950s Ireland and New York, the story of three women and the charismatic man with whom their lives are interwoven.

Set, like Maeve Binchy's early bestsellers, in late 1950s Ireland and New York, this is the story of three women and the charismatic man with whom their lives are interwoven.

Patrick Murphy has charm to burn and a singing voice to die for. Many people will recognise his talent. Many women will love him. Rose, the sweetheart he leaves behind in Ireland, can never forget him and will move heaven and earth to find him again, long after he has married another woman. Ava, the heiress with no self-confidence except on the dance floor, falls under his spell. And tough Sheila Klein, orphaned by the Holocaust and hungry for success as a music manager, she will be ruthless in her determination to unlock his extraordinary star quality.

But in the end, Patrick Murphy's heart belongs to only one of them. Which one will it be?

Review
It Was Only Ever You is the latest novel by Kate Kerrigan. Set in the 1950s in both County Mayo, Ireland and New York City it tells the tale of Patrick Murphy, a young charismatic man with a fantastic singing voice whose life becomes entwined with three different women.
In County Mayo young Rose Hopkins the doctor’s daughter and Patrick Murphy a farmer’s son have to keep their love affair a secret for fear their parents will keep them apart. Sadly this is what happens and Patrick is offered the chance to start a new life in America where his dreams of a singing career could become a reality.
After he meets Ava Brogan and Shelia Klein, Patrick’s life changes and all thoughts of Rose and Ireland are left behind, until one day Rose decides she wants her man back and heads to New York to get him. This turns Patrick’s world upside down as he tries to decide which women really has his heart.
I loved the setting for this novel, Kate Kerrigan has perfectly captured the excitement and glitz of the emerging music scene in the 1950s particularly the start of the Rock and Roll era. A lot of the drama is centred on The Emerald Rooms which holds a special place in the hearts of three of our main characters and is the place where many life-changing moments happen.
Patrick is the main male voice in this book and I really wanted to love him. He’s charismatic, he’s handsome and he has an amazing voice and I was longing for him to be a hero for one of these women. Sadly he let me down, not once but twice does he have the chance to fight for the women he loves but instead he just walks away leaving her heartbroken and for me that made him weak and spineless. If he really loved any of them then nothing at all should stand in the way of that love, instead he’s just worried about furthering his career.
I found Rose incredibly spoilt, immature and selfish. She follows Patrick to America on a complete whim not caring about anyone but herself. She doesn’t even stop to question if he even wants her there or not or the consequences of her actions and I just wish she’d stayed in Ireland.
Ava was by far my favourite character in this book. She’s rather plain to look at, a little too tall, intelligent and loves dancing and is finding that all the men around her find her just a little bit too intimidating to date. Which is hard for Ava as all she really wants is too fall in love and live happily ever after. Sadly life doesn’t work like that and Ava has her share of disappointment before she finds her prince.
There are a large number of other characters in this book all slightly linked together, some which add to the story and some which don’t. I think a few less characters and more romance would for me have made this an even more enjoyable read.
It Was Only Ever You is a compelling story of one man and three women, it’s a story of first loves, true loves and passions. It’s a book which I really enjoyed and one which I can recommend for people who want their romances to have a few ups and downs. It’s beautifully written and perfectly captures the essence of the era.
Thank you to Head of Zeus for sending me a copy to review and for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Blog Tour Review: Tremarnock Summer by Emma Burstall

Tremarnock Summer: Love is in the air in a Cornish village (Tremarnock Series Book 3)

Tremarnock Summer by Emma Burstall
Published: 30th May 2017
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 384
Available on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
Bramble Challoner has had a very normal upbringing. She lives in a semi in the suburbs of London with her parents and works at the call centre down the road. She still goes out with the boy she met at school. At weekends they stay in and watch films on the telly and sometimes hold hands. Bramble is dying for an adventure.
So when her very grand grandfather, Lord Penrose, dies, leaving his huge, rambling house in Cornwall to her, Bramble packs her bags immediately, dragging along her best friend Katie. The sleepy village of Tremarnock had better be ready for its newest residents...

Review

Tremarnock Summer is the third Tremarnock book by Emma Burstall, it’s a book which could be read as a standalone but feel it would be best read as part of the series like I have done. I started to read it before reading the other two books but felt a bit overwhelmed by what seemed to be three stories in one, so went back and read the other two books first.

The main storyline surrounds Bramble Challoner who lives in Chessington and has lead a very normal life right up until the day she receives a letter from some solicitors telling her she is the sole beneficiary of her grandfather Lord Penrose’s estate, a vast manor house in rural Cornwall. Fed up with her old life Bramble and best friend Katie head to Cornwall to start a new life where rural life and romance come as a bit of a shock for both girls.

The second storyline involves Liz who we know from the previous two books and her struggles with daughter Rosie as she begins to grow up and also Liz has a couple of shocks in this book which leave her very depressed.

Alongside Liz’s storyline is the story of Shannon and her brothers, I felt adding this subplot was a little too much as there were so many characters to keep track of it was hard to know was associated with who. Plus I don’t think these characters really added much to the overall flow of the story.

Bramble was a lovely who character who seemed to long for adventure and this led her into a couple of romantic disasters as she settles into her new life in Cornwall. If I’m honest I wished she ended up with someone else as I enjoyed the chemistry between them. I also loved the way she became a detective working her way around the house trying to work out what kind of man her grandfather was.

As with previous books in this series the thing that I really enjoyed about this book is the way the village all came together after a tragedy to help and look after one another, this community spirit was really heart-warming to read about.

Although this book has a couple of emotional moments it’s a very light read and the perfect holiday read. My favourite moments in this book mostly surrounded Katie who maybe a little immature for her age I still found her endearing as she was always looking for fun.

I enjoyed this book just as much as the previous two Tremarnock books which I have read and am looking forward to what happens next in Tremarnock.

Thank you to the publishers Head of Zeus for sending me a copy to review and for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Tremarnock Guest House by Emma Burstall

The Cornish Guest House (Tremarnock, #2)

The Cornish Guest House by Emma Burstall
Published: October 2016
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 384
Available in Paperback, Hardback and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
A new couple have arrived in Tremarnock, but will these glamorous strangers fit into village life?
Tremarnock is a small fishing village, crowded with holidaymakers in the summer, but a sleepy Cornish backwater at other times of the year.
Here Liz has found refuge with her young daughter, Rosie, after her relationship with Rosie's father came unstuck. Now happily married, all seems set for a quiet autumn and merry Christmas. But strangers have bought the local guest house and seem to have big plans. Why is he so charming and confident, but she so frightened? Are they who they say they are? And what are they really doing with the guest house?

Review
The Cornish Guesthouse by Emma Burstall is the second book in the Tremarnock series, in this book we meet new village residents Tabitha and Luke and learn more about one of Tremarnock’s more individual inhabitants Loveday.
Tabitha and Luke have moved from Manchester into The Stables which the plan to turn into a boutique guesthouse. Luke instantly wins the village over with his charisma and willingness to join in village life. Tabitha seems more reserved and reluctant to let her guard down. What could this mysterious beauty be hiding?
Charismatic Luke has soon won over Loveday who is swooning all over his despite just moving in with boyfriend Jesse. Luke offers Loveday a job, first as nanny to his young son Oscar but soon he’s whisking her away to help in his mysterious office in Plymouth. Has Loveday really found her dream job and is Luke as perfect as everyone thinks?
This is the second book from the Tremarnock series but I feel it could easily be read as a standalone as the main character from the previous book Liz is only a minor character in this book. If you’ve read the previous book then you will enjoy your return to Tremarnock and catching up with the lives of the villagers.
Tabitha initially comes across as a very reserved character who is definitely hiding something, which for me made her a much more interesting character than her husband Luke. I so wanted to know why Tabitha seemed so anxious all the time. As the story develops we learn of Tabitha’s background and how she came to be with Luke. Luke was not a character I warmed to and the more we learnt about Tabitha the less I felt I liked Luke. He seemed a man of two halves, with everyone else he is easy-going, captivating and has everyone completely charmed, even reserved Robert. But when he’s alone he seems controlling and even abusive towards Tabitha and I really didn’t like that.
I loved that in this book we learn more about Loveday as for me she was one of the more intriguing characters from the first book. Despite appearing all hard and standoffish she really is quite a vulnerable girl who just wants attention and when Luke gives her some it goes to her head and turns her world upside down.
In theory I liked the plotline of this book but I felt it was a little unrealistic in its delivery. Are the older generation so easily fooled out of all their money? Maybe some, but I disliked the way all old people seemed to be portrayed as weak and na├»ve. I also found the treatment of Jesse in the book very unjustified and unbelievable, how can a village of people who’ve known him forever suddenly make him out to be the biggest villain on practically just the assumptions of an outsider, it just didn’t seem to fit with what I knew of the community spirit among the village. I also felt Tabitha fears of her past catching up with her were a little unfounded, is she really that special that a gangster from Manchester would travel to Cornwall just to find her, I’m not so sure.
The Cornish Guest House is an enjoyable read and I enjoyed visiting Tremarnock once more, despite being a little frustrated at times with the plot. I’m looking forward to seeing where the next Tremarnock book takes us.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Tremarnock by Emma Burstall

Tremarnock (Tremarnock, #1)

Tremarnock by Emma Burstall
Published: 7th April 2016 (PB)
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 407
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
A beautiful Cornish village, a shocking turn of events...
Tremarnock is a classic Cornish seaside village. Houses painted in yellow, pink and white, cluster around the harbour, where fishermen still unload their daily catch. It has a pub and a sought-after little restaurant, whitewashed, with bright blue shutters.
Here, Liz has found sanctuary for herself and young daughter, Rosie – far away from Rosie's cheating father. From early in the morning with her job as a cleaner, till late at night waitressing in the restaurant, Liz works hard to provide for them both.
But trouble is waiting just around the corner. As with all villages, there are tensions, secrets – and ambitions.

Review

Tremarnock by Emma Burstall is one of those books which has been on my to read list forever, so when I was asked to review the latest book in the series I knew it was time to take a trip to Cornwall and start at the very beginning.

Tremarnock is the classic Cornish village with quaint white washed cottages and a strong sense of community spirit among the locals. Here Liz has finally found a home for herself and daughter Rosie after leaving London and Rosie’s cheating father behind them. Life is a struggle for Liz having to work two jobs at opposite ends of the day just to a make ends meet. Despite their hard lives Liz and Rosie manage to put a positive spin on things and enjoy everyday life. That is until something shocking happens and Liz is left wondering if there really is a light at the end of the tunnel.

This first thing I loved about this book is its glorious cover to me to just screams Cornwall and is so inviting, I couldn’t wait to read it. The second thing to love is Emma Burstall’s writing style, it flows so well and instantly had me feeling I was in the little village of Tremarnock.  Although there are some sad moments in this book it’s not a heavy read at all, in fact I found it thoroughly relaxing to immerse myself into Liz’s troubles.

Liz herself is a great character she so determined to give Rosie the best life possible and make sure her Cerebral Palsy doesn’t inhibit her life too much. She’s a character who always thinks the best of people and is perhaps a little too trusting, which sadly doesn’t always end well. I loved the very slow simmering chemistry between herself and Robert and was longing for them let their guard down and get together.

This is a very gently paced book which may not appeal to everyone but I found it a comforting read regardless of struggles Liz went through. The real main part of the story doesn’t really happen until the last third of the book, so some may struggle with that. But if like me you are planning to read the following Tremarnock books then this is a good scene setting and getting to know the characters book.

I enjoyed reading Tremarnock and am looking forward to reading what happens next in The Cornish Guesthouse.



Saturday, 15 July 2017

Blog Tour Review: Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy


Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy,
Published: 6th July 2017
Publisher: Penguin Viking
Pages: 352
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 3/5

Blurb
When 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.

Review

From the title Do Not Become Alarmed I was expecting this book to be full of suspense and very gripping, sadly I found it unconvincing and in places boring.

After Nora loses her mother best friend Liv decides the best thing for both families is to take a vacation for Christmas and so a cruise around South America is booked. One aboard the two families begin to relax and enjoy their holiday. Everything is perfect until Nora and Liv decide to take the children on an expedition with tour guide Pedro and leave the husbands to play golf. The trip does not go well, after their jeep breaks down they are left stranded. Pedro guides them to a secluded beach where the children play and the women relax and take their focus off the children. Nora goes off with Pedro to look at the birds while Liv falls asleep after too much cocktail. When Nora and Pedro return all they find is Liv asleep and no children.  What follows is a frantic search to find the children before something bad happen to them.

What I was expecting from this novel was an emotional read where the parents become distraught because the children have vanished from the ship, but the whole beach scene left me unconvinced, how exactly can six children disappear from the view of four adults? To me the parents just didn’t seem as alarmed as I would have been in a similar situation. I was expecting guilt, especially from Nora and Liv, anger from the husbands and tears from everyone, but everything they did felt a little flat.

What made this book better for me was the children, their story was far more interesting, gripping and even had a sinister note to it.  I also found their personalities much more engaging especially Penny and Isabel. I loved the way Penny took “charge” and looked after everyone especially her brother Sebastian who has diabetes and became ill.

There were one or two threads in the book which left me confused, like the story of little Noemi, I’m not sure how this really fitted into the story and if it really added anything.

I found Do Not Become Alarmed a completely different story to what I was expecting, it was darker featuring much more of the underground criminal scene of South America including drug trafficking and murder. This gave the book a sinister tone in places but for me something was missing and it wasn’t as gripping as a thriller should be.

Thank you to Penguin Viking for sending me a copy to review and for inviting me on this blog tour.