Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Blog tour: The Silent Girls by Ann Troup - book review

"Returning to Number 17, Coronation Square, Edie is shocked to find the place she remembers from childhood reeks of mould and decay. After her aunt Dolly’s death Edie must clear out the home on a street known for five vicious murders many years ago, but under the dirt and grime of years of neglect lurk dangerous truths.
For in this dark house there is misery, sin and dark secrets that can no longer stay hidden. The truth must come out.
Finding herself dragged back into the horrific murders of the past, Edie must find out what really happened all those years ago. But as Edie uncovers the history of the family she had all but forgotten, she begins to wonder if sometimes it isn’t best to leave them buried."

After reading The Lost Child, Ann Troup is well and truly on my radar. She has a great, descriptive writing style, able to build up tension and intrigue in a fast paced, well-thought through story. The Silent Girls does exactly that, it's a gripping story full of mystery. 

The story begins with a man being hung for the murder of five young girls. Fast-forward to present day and we are introduced to Edie, who is in the same town clearing out her deceased auntie's property. It's clear that the family has been fractured and distant of late and that she hasn't seen her auntie for some time. As she begins to clear the house, she finds things that begin to uncover  deep, dark secrets that cast a rather unforgiving light on Edie's family. 

I'll admit, I thought the story started off fairly slow, but after a few chapters the tension really ramps up, as does the intrigue. I was eager to find out what would happen next and this is a rollercoaster journey, full of twists and turns. There are many questions about the murders all those years ago, and if the right man was executed for the crimes. Just when you think you have an answer something else crops up to cast further questions on the events. Although towards the end I did actually guess the ending of the story, I still wasn't completely comfortable with my guess being correct right up until the very end- there's so many other twists throughout the story that I wasn't convinced I'd know exactly what was going on right until the last sentence. 

What stands out for me about Ann Troup's writing is her ability to create tension you could cut with a knife and mysterious situations that have you gripped from the offset. The description throughout The Silent Girls is meticulous and really builds up a picture in your mind of the characters, setting and events that make this such a thrilling, dark story. 

The Silent Girls is a fantastic, dark thriller jam-packed with tension and mystery. It's a great story to get lost in, and you'll want to race through it to find out what happens. Ann Troup is a master storyteller and someone who's books I enjoy immensely. I can't wait for more! 


*A big thank you to Jenny from Neverland blog tours for organising the blog tour, and Carina UK for providing a copy of The Silent Girls in exchange for an honest review

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Blog Tour: How to Get Hitched in Ten Days by Samantha Tonge - book review

Meet Mikey, every girl’s best friend – he bakes the creamiest cheesecake, loves movie nights and is a great dance partner.
For Jasmine, Mikey is the perfect flatmate – he owns a 50s diner that turns out the best food around, gives the best bear hugs and amazing romance advice – after all they’re scoping out the same hot guys! So when her boyfriend proposes in the worst possible way, Jazz knows her best friend will be there to pick up the pieces with gourmet popcorn, Pinot sleepovers and a shoulder to lean on.
But Mikey isn’t about to let Jasmine give up on love, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to mend her broken heart – even if it means helping the one person who sees him as the enemy…
Because at the end of the day, all’s fair in the pursuit of true love… right?

When I found out Samantha Tonge was releasing a short story, I was thrilled. I fell for her writing style when I read Game of Scones (read my review here) and so was really looking forward to seeing what she'd do next. 

How to Get Hitched in Ten Days follows best friends Jasmine and Mikey. Jasmine is reeling after the terrible proposal from her long-term boyfriend Dave, and so Mikey starts to pick up the pieces. But, when he's asked by Dave for help to propose to her properly, they set aside their differences and embark on making a swoon-worthy proposal happen. 

I have to say this is where my only slight niggle with the story is, as Dave sounds like a brilliant boyfriend and, sure it's not wise or romantic to propose when you're very,very drunk but it's not like he's done anything terrible. Jasmine is offended by the proposal as it reminds her of her alcoholic, waste-of-space father which I kind of get, but I do think she should have cut him a bit of slack and remembered that she loves him. And why wouldn't she? He's fab and the character I warmed to most. 

Jasmine and Mikey's friendship is great - they're so close and comfortable around one another. Mikey is super-sensitive and a great listener, the perfect companion for Jasmine. It becomes clear that this could be Dave's problem - that her and Mikey are so close he feels like a spare part. Aside from the fact that Mikey is gay and so has no interest in Jasmine whatsoever. Their friendship was heart-warming and I really loved seeing the two of them interact and be so happy around each other. 

Seeing Dave and Mikey interact was also interesting and at times really funny. They clearly have their differences - Mikey thinks Dave has a problem with him being gay - so the mission to create a perfect proposal doesn't exactly run smoothly. This was my favourite part of the story, the two men getting to know each other better and understand why they don't get on. 

That leads me nicely on to explain why I really love Samantha Tonge stories. It's never just about romance with her. There's always an underlying, more serious issue going on. In Game of Scones it was about refugees and the crisis happening there, in How to Get Hitched in Ten Days it's about homophobia and Mikey still finding it hard to be himself around people. I found that really interesting as, in this day and age, I certainly forget that there are still people that find homosexuality a difficult thing to understand... it's an issue that's well identified and tackled by Samantha and really shows off her writing talent. 

How to Get Hitched in Ten Days is a brilliant short story that you should definitely read! It's heart-warming, funny and romantic- filled with great friendships, more complex relationships and topped off with Mikey's wonderful diner that I'd quite like to visit please, as it sounds delicious! A perfect story for Valentine's Day.... or any other day in fact! 


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Blog Tour: Review - A Home in Sunset Bay by Rebecca Pugh

Rebecca Pugh

Enough is enough! The always perfect Laurie Chapman had jumped in her car and raced as fast as she could from London heading to Sunset Bay and (she hopes!) the open arms of her estranged sister…
Mia Chapman loves running Dolly’s Diner in the picture-perfect coastal Cornish town of Sunset Bay. Now that her and Grandma Dolly’s dream is finally a reality Mia has never been prouder! Until Laurie suddenly turns up on her doorstep… How can she forgive the sister who walked away?
Once upon a time Mia and Laurie were best friends. Back together after so long, the time has come for the sisters to figure out what went so wrong all those years ago – and whether they can ever put it right!
An uplifting romantic comedy about sisters, friendship and the love of good food.

If you read my review of Rebecca Pugh's debut novel, Return to Bluebell Hill, you'll know I'm a big fan of hers. Rebecca is a fellow blogger over at Becca's books and someone I regard as an internet friend. I was blown away by her debut and so when her second novel, A Home in Sunset Bay landed on my kindle I couldn't wait to read it, knowing I'd be in for a treat.... and boy was I! 

A Home in Sunset Bay has a lovely premise and I really enjoyed the plot of this story. It follows Mia and Laurie Chapmen, sisters who lead very different and far apart lives. Mia is living out her dream running the amazing-sounding Dolly's Diner in an idyllic and small village, Sunset Bay. Meanwhile Laurie is living in London, struggling with a demanding job she doesn't enjoy. When she finds out her boyfriend has been cheating, she leaves behind London to reunite with her sister.

I loved watching their relationship unfold - the story delves into their past, and shows how close they were, but then how they drifted apart. Their relationship is fairly strained and complicated when Laurie first turns up in Sunset Bay and I was rooting for them to make up, as it's clear from the offset how much they both mean to one another. 

As individual characters, they are both great but I definitely had a soft spot for Mia. She truly believes in herself and is doing what makes her happy. It's so inspiring to read and, actually, really resinated with me on a personal level. I know this is a fiction novel, but it really makes you think about your own life - I couldn't help but look at Mia living her life to the full and doing exactly what she wants to do and be inspired by it. 

Which leads me nicely onto the centre of the story - Dolly's Diner. Oh my GOD I loved this as a setting for a story. It is amazing! First of all, there's the delicious, drool-enticing food which sounds amazing... I'll have a cheeseburger, fries and chocolate milkshake please! Then there's the vintage-style layout... red leather booths and a jukebox. It sounds like the kind of place I want to visit and I can see why it captures Mia's - and Lauries' Hearts. 

Rebecca Pugh is a really talented author - her knack of producing fantastic descriptions without going overboard is second to none. She provides immense detail to really build up a picture in your mind, but without boring you to death. I loved her description of Dolly's Diner and Sunset Bay - it was like I'd been transported there. She really is one to watch and if you haven't read anything by her, I'd urge you to do so, quickly. She's absolutely brilliant and I'm so proud of her! 

A Home at Sunset Bay is a heart-warming, lovely story that has you racing through chapters to find out what happens. There's budding romance, a wonderful location as well as more complex and fractured relationships that you're eager to delve into. It's a realistic and engaging -  a story that will stay with me for a long time. 


Monday, 1 February 2016

Monthly Round-Up: January

So the first month of 2016 is behind us and, if I'm honest, I'm pretty glad. You may have noticed I haven't been posting on the blog as regularly as normal, but life has seemed to be getting in the way somewhat more than usual lately, causing a disruption to my blogging schedule. A new year brought a new job for me and it's taking some getting used to. I'm enjoying it, but on an evening I'm wiped out and the longer days mean I'm not reading as quickly as I was. I'm hoping now I'm settled and more into it I'll be back to normal soon - please bear with me! 

So, here's my bookish round-up for January. 

Books I've read:

What I've bought: 
A Kindle paperwhite! I absolutely love it. Up until now I'd been reading e-books on the kindle app on my phone... not ideal due to a small and bright screen. This purchase is a revelation and I am so happy with it. I'm going to be doing a post about it soon, so keep an eye out. 

Books I've bought: 
We are all made of stars, Rowan Coleman
The Secrets of Happiness, Lucy Diamond

Books  I've received:
Summer Nights at the Moonlight Hotel, Jane Costello 
The Perfect Gift, Emma Hannigan 

Netgalley Approvals: 
How To Get Hitched in Ten Days, Samantha Tonge 
My Map of You, Isabelle Broom 
The Silent Girls, Ann Troup

Book of the month: 

I always find this such a tough decision, but I love doing it as at the end of the year it means I can look back on some of my favourite reads. This month was full of amazing books that all helped me get through the January blues with a smile on my face. I absolutely loved You and Me, Always and The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me, but January's book of the month has to go to Wickham Hall by Cathy Bramley. The story has stuck with me since reading and I keep daydreaming about the fabulous stately home setting of the story. An absolute corker of a novel that you MUST read if you haven't already!