Memoir of an Overweight Schoolgirl by Bev Spicer – 4*s @BevSpicer1

Memoirs of an Overweight Schoolgirl

A prequel to the Bev and Carol adventures, this is a fun and funny memoir set in the sixties and seventies, in the market town of Bridgnorth. As a young girl, Bev is not as slender as she wants to be – she likes eating Curly Wurly bars, jam doughnuts and batter bits.
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‘Overweight Schoolgirl Poisoned by Lard Overload Slips into Coma’

Against the odds, she gains a place at Bridgnorth Grammar School, where she becomes interested in boys, French and netball (not necessarily in that order). Bev remembers her hometown, her teachers and her first kiss. She takes us to her first Motown disco – a mind-blowing experience of epic proportions. All of this is set against the background of her parents’ divorce, her unconventional family life and her penchant for unhealthy snacks. If you were born in the fifties or sixties, remember pineapple chunks, The Man from U.N.C.L.E and going to the cinema with sixpence in your pocket, you might enjoy Bev’s brand of unsentimental nostalgia and her whimsical style of writing.

My Review

I’m partial to the occasional memoir, because, I’ll admit it, I’m nosy and like to peek into someone else’s private life. However I tend to avoid the musings of the rich and famous not least because in this multi media age there’s often not much we don’t already know, and the bits we might want to read are the very things they don’t want to tell us. Consequently I quite like to read about the experiences of people who might otherwise go under the radar. Some ‘ordinary’ people have extra-ordinary lives or they might simply have lives that resonate with our own experiences, but either way they can transport us to somewhere new, or back into our own past.

When I had the chance to read this memoir, I anticipated the latter and I wasn’t disappointed. The author’s youth was in many ways very different to mine. Our family circumstances and experiences were totally different, I lived in a city and went to a comprehensive school, while Bev lived in a small town and went to grammar school. But it was the life experiences and shared cultural memories that struck a chord. From the first day at school, through to the first disco,  first boyfriend and first kiss – we’ve all been there. Bev captures those universal memories, a heady mix of fear/dread and excitement that comes with each long anticipated event. Of course the result is often an unexpected  disappointment – but that’s life.

Being of  the same era as the author,  I enjoyed a stroll down memory lane with reminiscences that echoed my own. I’d forgotten the simple excitement of those early school days; the distinct smell of the thick wax crayons that seemed to be unique to the classroom; the first day back with a new pen and notebook; and the days when we did indeed, “make an occassional yet embarrassing trip to the front of the class, where there was a table-mounted, state-of-the-art appliance that performed magic”. Oh yes, the youth of today will never know that joy of merely sharpening a pencil!

The cultural references will also resonate with many, the upside of being ill as it meant Lucozade, the anticipation of Man from U.N.C.L.E. – which girl wasn’t in love with Illya Kuryakin, and discovering the Monkees, or more specifically Davy Jones. Of course they were only the fore-runners, the real damage was done by David Cassidy. No wonder  boys proved a bit of a disappointment – they were doomed to failure having to step into those hallowed shoes. When we were not  watching telly, we were reading, Enid Blyton and Bunty being our favourites, no doubt accompanied by a Curly Wurly (when did they shrink to the size they are today?)

In short, this memoir is a nostalgic, funny and sensitive look back over the author’s early years which makes an interesting read, that is further heightened by the universality of her experiences. I can happily recommend it, and for anyone with an interest in the 60’s and 70’s, just make sure you’ve got a bar of Caramac nearby for an authentic experience. As I write this, you can buy it on Kindle at the offer price of 99p.

I received an ecopy from the author to enable this review.

The Killer on the Wall by Emma Kavanagh – 4*s @EmmaLK

Killer on the Wall

Purchase from Amazon UK

 

The first body comes as a shock – The second brings horror – The third signals the beginning of a nightmare

When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.

Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.

Then another body appears against the Wall. And another.

As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.

Who is the Killer on the Wall?

 

My Review

Well first of all, the blurb tells you everything you need to know about the basic plot, so no more from me on that score. However what the blurb can’t tell you is how well written and engaging this book is. From a dramatic start with the discovery of 3 bodies and a badly injured 4th victim, to the jaw-dropping end via fear, doubt and mistrust in the middle.

The book is set in Northumberland, in the fictional village of Briganton, somewhere close to Hadrian’s wall. Using the setting of a small close-knit community, serves to heighten the horror of what happens as everyone is under suspicion, and it’s evident that the killer is one of their own. While Isla Bell may have discovered the bodies, it was her father now Detective Sergeant Eric Bell who was responsible for tracking down and arresting Heath McGowan for the murders.

Twenty years later, and Isla is now married to Ramsey, the badly injured 4th victim, who also lost his brother to the killer. Now working as a forensic psychologist Isla’s is researching  what makes a person do what they do, and her study  has now brought her face to face with Heath McGowan.

This meeting proves fatal for some, as it’s the catalyst for the killings to start again. The village is once more engulfed by dread and panic as the unthinkable happens. Still on the case is DS Eric Bell but he’s now been joined by DC Mina Arian, an incomer from London. Mina has her own baggage, which makes her an interesting character, but she also has her own mind, and her theories about the killings are not well received by DS Bell.

The fact that Heath McGowan, was safely locked up inside when the new killings occur, throws up lots of questions about the initial investigation, questions that certain people are not willing to answer. So the quest is on, to discover the truth about the past, before more lives are lost in the present.

I enjoyed this book on several levels. Firstly, as a police procedural (my favourite), I enjoyed following the investigation and piecing the clues and mis-directions. I always enjoy the team relationships and dynamics, and when they are amiss, as in this case it adds to the complications.  Secondly, the characters, they were all well drawn, even the minor characters, and this latter really added to the pathos, when that character was the partner of a murder victim – you’ll know when you there.  Thirdly, the setting – almost a character in itself. The brooding, almost claustrophobic pall that envelops the town when the killings start again is indicative of a close-knit community already bearing the scars from the past. Finally, there is an interesting sub thread running through that looks at the nature of families, via sibling and parent/child relationships.

The big question with any thriller is did I guess the who was the culprit? Well despite having someone firmly in mind, I’ll have to admit no I didn’t, which really added to the shock, when they were finally revealed. So overall a thoroughly engaging read, with a satisfactory outcome.

I received an ecopy via NetGalley to enable this review.

#Throwback Thursday : Sorrow Bound by David Mark @davidmarkwriter

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Renee at It’s Book Talk. Throwback Thursday was designed as an opportunity to share old favorites as well as older books in our TBR. As I started reviewing on Goodreads long before I started my blog, it seemed a great way of sharing my earlier reviews (which I hope have improved since the early days).

So this week I’m revisiting Sorrow Bound by David Mark reviewed in Mar 2014

Sorrow Bound

 

Philippa Longman will do anything for her family.

Roisin McAvoy will do anything for her friends.

DS Aector McAvoy will do anything for his wife.

Yet each has an unknown enemy – one that will do anything to destroy them.

My Review

When David Mark’s debut thriller The Dark Winter was published I was keen to read it, mainly I will admit because it was set in Hull. As an exiled Hullensian I was curious to see how he’d portrayed the place. However the location became an incidental as I was taken in by the plot and the character of DS McAvoy. I enjoyed this book and was looking forward to reading future releases.

When I got the opportunity to review his third novel Sorrow Bound, I was delighted to be reacquainted with Aector McAvoy, (not to mention somewhat taken aback to discover I’d somehow managed to miss Original Sin – No 2 in the series).

As with the first book I was not disappointed, in fact I think in the intervening period David Mark has been honing his writing skills as this I felt was even better. What I enjoyed about this book was the clever way he switches the action between the police procedural aspects of searching for a serial killer, to the menacing grooming and blackmailing of one of the female officers. The two strands have a major impact on Aector and his family as the tension is gradually ratcheted up. The plot had twists and turns that really did keep me turning the pages, as unlike some novels the who and why is not apparent until the reveal. It is gritty and dark and the murders are not for the faint-hearted, but thankfully they are not too gratuitously described.

In addition to the clever plotting I really like the characterisation. It is not just Aector that is well drawn but also his wife and his police colleagues. His boss Trish Pharoah in particular, brings some light relief into darkness and reminds me of Stuart McBride’s DI Steele (in the Logan McRae series) albeit with a few more manners and a better awareness of political correctness.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait for the next instalment. At least in the meantime I can catch up with Original Sin without having to worry about what happens.

April’s Urbane Book Club unwrapped (@urbanepub)

In this month’s parcel, Matthew exalts us to, “forget the grey skies as we head into May and enjoy these great titles”. I have to agree, all the fiction books this month tick the right reading boxes for me, so I’m even more delighted than usual. The only slight cloud was the non inclusion of the much-anticipated Spanish Crossings by John Simmons, so hoping to see that in next month’s delivery. As a reminder the book club cost £99.99 for a year, beginning the day you join – full details here.

Here’s what this month had to offer:-

Poisoned RockThe Poisoned Rock by Robert Daws

In London, the British Government has declassified a large number of top secret files regarding British Military Intelligence operations during World War Two. One file, concerning espionage operations on Gibraltar, has been smuggled out of the U.K. to Spain. It contains information that will draw Sullivan and Broderick into the dark and treacherous world of wartime Gibraltar. A place where saboteurs and espionage plots abounded. Where double and triple agents from Britain, Germany and Spain were at war in a treacherous and deadly game of undercover operations. It is only a matter of time before past and present collide and a dangerous battle begins to conceal the truth about the Rock’s poisonous wartime history. Detectives Sullivan and Broderick become caught in a tangled web of intrigue and murder that will once again test their skills and working relationship to the very limit.

Purchase from Urbane or Amazon

Rock

The Rock by Robert Daws

The Rock. Gibraltar. 1966. In a fading colonial house the dead body of a beautiful woman lays dripping in blood. The Rock. Present day. Detective Sergeant Tamara Sullivan arrives on The Rock on a three-month secondment from the London Metropolitan Police Service. Her reasons for being here are not happy ones, and she braces herself for a tedious twelve weeks in the sun. After all, murders are rare on the small, prosperous and sun-kissed Rock of Gibraltar and catching murderers is what Sullivan does best. It is a talent Sullivan shares with her new boss, Chief Inspector Gus Broderick of the Royal

Purchase from Urbane or Amazon

scarlet-covenThe Scarlet Coven by Stuart Davies

New York 1936. Leading New York detective Simon Finch has received an unexpected inheritance and left the force to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. But a true detective is never far from finding trouble…or trouble finding him… A stranger approaches Finch in the Algonquin Hotel, asking him to help find his sister who has disappeared. When he later visits the man’s hotel room he discovers that he has been murdered – stabbed with a dagger decorated with strange markings. As Finch investigates further he discovers recently acquitted crime boss Fats Molloy is mixed up with the man’s murder and the missing sister. The trail leads him to an occult bookshop …has the missing woman been kidnapped by a group of Satanists, The Scarlet Coven? Joining forces with a black private eye, Patrick Murphy, who is also investigating the cult, they endure a series of wild adventures and close calls with demonic forces as they seek the truth about the mysterious leader of the Coven…and the nefarious plans for death and mayhem…

Buy from Urbane or Amazon

Prague UltimatumThe Prague Ultimatum by James Silvester

Fear stalks the newly reunified Czechoslovakia, the terror wrought by international terrorism and violent extremists overshadowing the forthcoming fiftieth anniversary of the Prague Spring, and threatening to burn the country in its wake. Into this arena steps Captain Lincoln Stone, a disgraced British officer, humiliatingly scapegoated by his government for his role in the disastrous on-going Syrian Conflict. Plucked from his purgatory, Stone is teased with exoneration by British Foreign Secretary Jonathan Greyson, in return for his ‘off the books’ aid of Czechoslovak Prime Minister, Miroslava Svobodova. Stone, resentful of his treatment and determined to prove himself, is driven by deeper motives than the casual platitudes of his superiors, and finds himself at the epicentre as the country descends into chaos. Cut off from the international community and isolated in the face of an expansionist Russia, and with the sinister Institute for European Harmony ever present behind the scenes, Czechoslovakia’s fate, and that of the world, hangs on the outcome to the Prague Ultimatum.

Buy from Urbane or Amazon

Burning SecretsBurning Secrets by Clio Gray

Burning Secrets is book 2 in the Scottish Mysteries series Strontian, a village on Ardnamurchan Peninsula, is inhabited by mining folk and crofters, eking out a living from the unforgiving land and turning a blind eye to the smugglers who plague the coast. A bag of bones is pulled out of the water; the assistant to Gustav Wengler, eccentric owner of the lead mines, is brutally murdered; what is the connection? And what do either have to do with the sundial in Ockle churchyard and the collection of monuments on Wengler’s island known locally as the White Cathedral? Sholto McKay and Brogar Finn of the Pan-European Mining Company – in pursuit of a potentially valuable mineral from the Strontian mines – begin their own investigations, unaware their discoveries will tear more than one life apart.

Buy from Amazon

Melting PointThe Melting Point by Dr. Christian Marcolli

The Melting Point of the title refers to a critical psychological threshold that all of us face when under massive stress and pressure the point at which we cannot control our thinking, emotions, and behaviors in an impactful way anymore. We start to internally derail, show dysfunctional behaviors, and perhaps even walk away. Dr. Marcolli discusses how leaders can achieve sustainable top performance by raising their Melting Point so they can successfully handle the enormous pressures of todays demanding commercial environment. This, in turn, enables them to maintain a winning edge in their career, lead their team effectively, and deliver tangible long-term benefits to their organization, especially in highly competitive times. Dr. Marcolli was himself an elite athlete (a professional soccer player) before studying

Buy from Urbane or Amazon

Anticipated May releases hopefully coming in next month’s delivery

Lighterman I’m particularly looking forward to the third installment in the Charles Holborne  series, The Lighterman by Simon Michael. As I’ve still to read book 2 there will be no fighting between me and the OH who is eager to get his hands on this one.

Gangland leader Ronnie Kray is not a man to forgive or forget. Holborne has ‘taken liberties’ and revenge will follow. But how to get at a tough and resourceful Brief with his own history of criminality and a penchant for violence? The answer: find a man who can’t be hanged twice.

Now Holborne must dig up the secrets of the past to save two lives…one of them his own.

HandcuffsI’m also keen to read the humorous debut offering from Gina Kirkham based on her experiences as a police officer, Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong.  For anyone in striking distance of Liverpool, this is being launched at Waterstones on 18th May at 18:30pm and I’ve already got my ticket!

Meet Mavis Upton. As mummy to 7-year old Ella, surrogate to far too many pets and with a failed marriage under her belt, Mavis knows she needs to make some life-changing decisions. It’s time to strike out into the world, to stand on her own two feet … to pursue a lifelong ambition to become a Police Officer. I mean, what could go wrong? Supported by her quirky, malapropism-suffering mum, Mavis throws herself headlong into a world of uncertainty, self-discovery, fearless escapades, laughter and extra-large knickers. And using her newly discovered investigative skills, she reluctantly embarks on a search to find her errant dad who was last seen years before, making off with her mum’s much needed coupon for a fabulous foam cup bra all the way from America. Follow Mavis as she tackles everything life can throw at her, and revel in Gina Kirkham’s humorous, poignant and moving story of an everyday girl who one day followed a dream.

Of course being Urbane there are lots of other good-looking titles forthcoming including:-

Deaths Silent JudgementDeath’s Silent Judgement by Anne Coates

Death’s Silent Judgement is the thrilling sequel to Dancers in the Wind, and continues the gripping series starring London-based investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge. The series is very much in the best traditions of British women crime writers such as Lynda La Plante and Martina Cole. Following the deadly events of Dancers in the Wind, freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is thrown into the heart of a horrific murder investigation when a friend, Liz Rayman, is found with her throat slashed at her dental practice. With few clues to the apparently motiveless crime Hannah throws herself into discovering the reason for her friend s brutal murder, and is determined to unmask the killer. But before long Hannah’s investigations place her in mortal danger, her hunt for the truth placing her in the path of a remorseless killer…

Blue GoldBlue Gold by David Barker

The near future. Climate change and geopolitical tension have given rise to a new international threat – a world war for water. This most vital of resources has become a precious commodity and some will stop at nothing to control its flow. When a satellite disappears over Iceland, Sim Atkins thinks he knows why. He is given the chance to join the hallowed Overseas Division and hunt for the terrorists responsible. But his new partner Freda Brightwell is aggrieved to be stuck with a rookie on such a deadly mission. Freda’s misgivings are well founded when their first assignment ends in disaster – a bomb destroys a valuable airship and those responsible evade capture. Seeking redemption, the British agents follow the trail to a billionaires’ tax haven in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and uncover a web of deceit that threatens global war. Whom can they trust? As the world edges ever closer to destruction Sim and Freda must put their lives on the line to prevent Armageddon – and protect the future of ‘blue gold’.

Beware the CuckooBeware the Cuckoo by Julie Newman

Two women. One man. A buried secret. They were reunited at his funeral, school friends with a shared past. A past that is anything but straightforward. A past that harbours secrets and untruths. Karen has a seemingly perfect life. An adoring husband, two wonderful children and a beautiful home. She has all she has ever wanted, living the dream. She also has a secret. Sandra’s once perfect life is rapidly unravelling. The man who meant everything to her had a dark side and her business is failing. To get her life back on track she needs to reclaim what is rightfully hers. She knows the secret. As the past meets the present, truths are revealed – and both women understand the true cost of betrayal.

Man Who Played TrainsThe Man Who Played Trains by Richard Whittle

Mining engineer John Spargo is distraught when his mother is attacked in her home and later dies from her injuries. Her home has been ransacked. Determined to track down her killer and discover the truth behind her death, John finds a connection between his late father’s wartime mine and the wreck of a U-Boat. The connection deepens when he discovers the diaries of the U-Boat captain and a wartime mission to spirit Göring to safety along with a fortune in stolen art. When John’s daughter Jez is kidnapped, he is contacted by a mysterious consortium her life hangs in the balance unless he can find the stolen art. What is the link with his father’s abandoned mine? Who was the U-Boat captain? Did he survive and hide Göring’s treasures? John races against time to discover the truth…and in doing so may unearth secrets that were better left buried…

 So until next month, whatever you’re reading Happy Reading!!

 

 

The Two O’Clock Boy by Mark Hill – 3/3.5*s

Two O'Clock Boy

TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS… ONE BECAME A DETECTIVE… ONE BECAME A KILLER…

Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.

Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth.

My Review

I’ve had this sitting on my pile for quite a while before I finally got around to reading it and I’m aware that my views and rating will be at odds with the majority of other reviews. I can almost certainly say that it is largely down to aspects of it that I found uncomfortable and coloured my overall view as they stuck firmly in my mind. If these elements were missing it would probably have been a 4* rating from me. For others these elements no doubt added to the realism and  character of the book, so you pays your money and you takes your choice. That’s the fun of books, we all read them differently.

I will say that as an opening line to draw you in, this has one of the best – “The boy loved his parents more than anything on this Earth. And so he had to kill them.”  –  if that doesn’t have you wanting to read more, I’m not sure what will.

The question is, what does this have to do with a series of grisly and (nasty) murders that follow involving families? That task is allocated to newly promoted DS Flick Crowley and her DI Ray Drake. Theirs was an interesting relationship which I did enjoy reading about. Crowley is keen to do well on her first investigation as DS but is worried that DI Drake is rueing his choice to promote her. What appears to have been a mutually supportive relationship appears to be unravelling and as a reader we are also left wondering exactly what is going on with DI Drake, because something is seriously amiss. As characters they both have their back stories which makes them rounded, realistic and in DI Drake’s case  a bit of an enigma. He certainly doesn’t fit the traditional mould.

As the book unfolds we have a dual timeline as the ongoing investigation links the murders to the inhabitants of a now defunct children’s home. The story of the Longacre Children’s home, which presents itself as more 1880’s in care, administration and outlook than it’s 1980’s reality, was a grim place. It was this aspect of the book I disliked, the Dickensian like home manager was despicable and I found his actions totally abhorrent and cruel. In some ways I guess it is testament to the author’s writing that it had the effect it did, but it left me feeling queasy and uncomfortable. I should stress there is no hint of sexual abuse for anyone worried about that. I’m just not good with child cruelty and mental abuse.

Initially I did get a bit bogged down with what seemed to be an ever-growing cast of characters that needed to be remembered until their place in the book became apparent. What cannot be denied though, is that once the book took off, the plot was gripping. As well as solving the link with the past, there is a growing realisation that in the present, no-one appears to be quite what they seem and everyone has secrets and surprises they would prefer to keep hidden. As a debut novel, it was certainly well written and plotted,  if just a bit too dark for me.

Aside from my personal reservations I’d certainly not be put off reading more as I loved the police procedural aspects and the characters of DS Crowley and DI Drake have certainly got great potential.

I received an  ecopy via NetGalley for the purposes of this review.

Book Haul – week ended 8 May 2017

Late to the party again with this one, life seems to be getting in the way recently. Anyway, better late than never as I should hate to miss out on tempting anyone!

Kindle Purchases

Dungeon HouseThe Dungeon House by Martin Edwards (99p)

Hannah Scarlett’s cold case team are looking into the three-year-old mystery of the disappearance of Lily Elstone. Their investigation coincides with the disappearance of another teenage girl, Shona Whiteley, whose father Nigel lives in the Dungeon House, despite its tragic history – twenty years earlier, his uncle Malcolm Whiteley shot his wife and apparently killed his daughter before shooting himself. But as Hannah’s team dig down into the past, doubts arise about what exactly happened at the Dungeon House twenty years ago…

Future Homemakers of AmericaThe Future Homemakers of America by Laurie Graham (99p)

Norfolk,1953. The Fens have never seen anything quite like the girls from USAF Drampton. Overpaid, overfed and over here.

While their men patrol the skies keeping the Soviets at bay, some are content to live the life of the Future Homemakers of America – clipping coupons, cooking chicken pot pie – but other start to stray, looking for a little native excitement beyond the perimeter fence. Out there in the freezing fens they meet Kath Pharaoh, a tough but warm Englishwoman. Bonds are forged, uniting the women in friendship that will survive distant postings, and the passage of forty years.

Bird in the HouseA Bird in the House by Bronwen Griffiths (99p)

After the death of his beloved wife, Mohamed flees war-torn Libya with his young son, Ahmed. Arriving in the heart of the English countryside, father and son stumble into the seemingly tranquil world of widow, Betty, who has been left to cope with her seven-year-old great-niece for the summer.

Just as life begins to settle, Mohamed must make the dangerous journey back to Tripoli, where he is faced with the devastation the war has wreaked on those around him. And for Betty, the conflict threatens to unearth skeletons from a past she would rather forget…
A Bird in the House is a story about loss, secrets, and the redeeming power of friendship.

Other Mrs WalkerThe Other Mrs Walker by Mary Paulson-Ellis (99p)

Somehow she’d always known that she would end like this. In a small square room, in a small square flat. In a small square box, perhaps. Cardboard, with a sticker on the outside. And a name . . .

An old lady dies alone and unheeded in a cold Edinburgh flat on a snowy Christmas night. A faded emerald dress hangs in her wardrobe; a spilt glass of whisky pools on the floor.

A few days later a middle-aged woman arrives back in the city she thought she’d left behind, her future uncertain, her past in tatters.

She soon finds herself a job at the Office for Lost People, tracking down the families of those who have died neglected and alone.

But what Margaret Penny cannot yet know, is just how entangled her own life will become in the death of one lonely stranger . . .

Sixth WindowThe Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott (99p)

After eighteen months of grieving for her husband Bernie, killed in a horrific hit and run accident, Natalie Grey has found love with her husband’s best friend – Ed Cooper – and has moved herself and fifteen year old daughter, Scarlett, into his home. But Natalie begins to suspect Ed has a dark side – and even darker intentions.

Desperate to get her daughter to a place of safety, she and Scarlett move to a new home that holds secrets of its own. But has removing Scarlett from one potential threat placed her in far greater danger?

DCI Tom Douglas is also chasing the truth, as his investigation into the suicide of a teenage girl draws him ever closer to Natalie and Scarlett. But will he be too late to protect them from the peril they face, or from the truths that will tear their lives apart?

This LoveThis Love by Dani Atkins (99p)

Sophie stopped believing in happy endings a long time ago, but could this love change all of that?
 
Sophie Winter lives in a self-imposed cocoon – she’s a single, 31-year-old translator who works from home in her one-bedroom flat. This isn’t really the life she dreamed of, but then Sophie stopped believing in dreams when she was a teenager and tragedy struck her family.
 
So, to be safe, she keeps everyone at arm’s length. Sophie understands she has a problem, but recognising it and knowing how to fix it are two entirely different things.

One night a serious fire breaks out in the flat below hers. Sophie is trapped in the burning building until a passer-by, Ben, sees her and rescues her.
 
Suddenly her cocoon is shattered – what will be the consequences of this second life-changing event?

Darkest LiesThe Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite (99p) 

A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.

Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.

Nothing can shake her happiness – until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk?

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…

Way from Heart to HeartA Way From Heart to Heart by Helena Fairfax (FREE)

A love lost and a love found…

A knock at the door shatters Kate Hemingway’s life when she’s told of her husband Stuart’s death in Afghanistan.

She struggles to care for their young son George with only Stuart’s aloof best friend Paul as emotional support.Piece by fragile piece, she tries to rebuild her life, realising Paul and her son have formed an unlikely bond. When Paul agrees to accompany Kate and a group of disadvantaged teenagers on a trip to the Yorkshire moors, he finally reveals something he’s kept secret for years. Kate’s own scarred heart begins to open up … but can she risk her son’s happiness as well as her own?

Big Little WeddingThe Big Little Wedding in Carlton Square by Lilly Bartlett (FREE)

When Emma’s boyfriend Daniel pops the question with a ring the size of a small country, she suddenly realises just how different they are. She’s the Eastenders to his Made in Chelsea. She wants a low-key wedding with close friends and family in Uncle Colin’s pub, while Daniel’s mother is expecting a society do that their high-brow guests won’t forget!

How on earth can Emma put together a celebration fit for Lords and Ladies on a shoestring budget? Not to mention the fact her cross-dressing Uncle Barbara wants to be a bridesmaid, her best mate Kelly can’t stand Daniel’s best friend Cressida, and her dad is too proud to accept any help from Daniel’s family towards the costs.

There’s three months to go until the big day. Will Emma’s happy-ever-after end in disaster?

Perfect RemainsPerfect Remains by Helen Fields (FREE)

On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.

In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.

It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

Secret of Orchard CottageThe Secret of Orchard Cottage by Alex Brown (FREE)

April Wilson is wondering what to do next – her life has been turned upside down after the loss of her husband so she’s hoping to piece herself together again with a visit to her elderly great aunt, Edith. Arriving in the rural idyll of Tindledale, she’s dismayed to find Edith’s cottage and the orchards surrounding it in a sorry state of disrepair. Edith seems to have lost interest completely, instead she’s become desperate to find out what happened to her sister, Winnie, who disappeared during WWII.
April gets to work immediately, discovering that the orchard still delivers a bumper crop each year, and with the help of some of the villagers – including Matt, the enigmatic Farrier – begins to unravel the mystery of the missing Winnie. Slowly,
April can feel things coming to life again – but can Orchard Cottage work its magic on her too?

LingerLinger by Heather A Buchman (love the cover!) FREE 

Even at thirty, Kate Baum is a pillar of the small town where her family has lived for generations. As a gallery owner, Kate has success and happiness, and no desire to leave her snug home in East Aurora, New York, even though it means she can’t be with the only man she’s ever loved.

Artist Michael Clark fell in love with Kate when she was still a teenager. He left her behind to pursue his career in New York City, vowing never to return to the confines of a small town. Years later he has wealth and notoriety, but not the love of the one woman he cannot forget.

But when her mother dies suddenly, Kate’s world is nearly destroyed. Not only has she lost her mother, but she discovers her father, whose identity she has never known, has been within arms reach her entire life. As she learns more about her father, Kate finds herself in unexpected danger. Once again, she turns to Michael—the one man who has always been there when she needed him, but has never stayed. Maybe this time will be different.

#Throwback Thursday : The Perfect Match by Katie Fforde – 5*s @KatieFforde ‏

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Renee at It’s Book Talk. Throwback Thursday was designed as an opportunity to share old favorites as well as older books in our TBR. As I started reviewing on Goodreads long before I started my blog, it seemed a great way of sharing my earlier reviews (which I hope have improved since the early days).

So this week I’m revisiting The Perfect Match by Katie Fforde reviewed in Feb 2014

 

Perfect Match

 

Three years ago Bella Castle left her home town nursing a broken heart over Dominic Thane, the man she fell in love with but couldn’t have …

Now she’s made a new life for herself in the country, working as an estate agent.

Bella loves her job and she loves her boyfriend Nevil. But recently he’s been preoccupied, and she’s starting to question if his future hopes and dreams are a perfect match for hers.

And when Dominic turns up unexpectedly in search of his dream house, she begins to wonder if home is really where the heart is. But she’s over him, isn’t she?

My Review

I received this title free as a review copy, and was delighted to do so, having read most of Katie Fforde’s previous novels.

The central heroine is Bella, she loves her job, her boss Nevil and living with her godmother Alice. However, all that is about to change as a result of an unexpected proposal and the re-appearance of Dominic. Dominic is not only the nephew of Jane, one of her favourite clients, but also the married man she fell in love with, which led her to run away to find the life she has now. In true Katie Fforde fashion, the course of true love never runs smooth, and we have to wait and see whether we’ll get the outcome both we and Bella wants.

What I particularly liked with this novel were the different relationships we encounter that give rise to the Perfect Match title. Not only could it apply to Bella and her relationship with Dominic, but also of that between Bella and her clients; her godmother Alice and her fledgling romance; and also the relationship between Jane and the solution to her house problem. Very often in books the sub themes and plots are merely fillers to the main story but for me with this book they were equally as important in that I wanted to have them all satisfactorily resolved, because the characters were real. I was particularly taken with the relationship between Alice and Michael, because as an older woman, her hopes and fears were something I could empathise with. Because of the genre we know that the heroine will usually get what she wants, and that isn’t necessarily going to happen for other characters, so I really wanted to find out what happened.

I’d recommend this book for all women who want the ideal book for curling up on the settee with, for relaxing with on holiday or just for taking to bed on an early night. If you want a comfortable, warm read this book is a “Perfect Match”.