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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Blogtour: Review: Blink by KL Slater

Okay- instant disclosure. This book gave me a couple of sleepless nights. I couldn't put the bloomin' thing down before going to bed- then couldn't get to sleep- and then when I did, the writing came back to haunt me.

I'm not a regular thriller reader, but when I do pick one up- a damn good psychological read will keep me hooked like nothing else. Blink is one of those. Damn good.

Our main character, Tori, is trying to rebuild a "normal" life with her daughter following the upheaval of a house move. Five year old Evie starts at a new school, single mother Toni starts a new job- and Grandma helps wherever she can.

Flash forward three years, and Toni is devastated and desperate to get her missing daughter back- if only her memories would straighten out and give her the clue she feels she's missing- when everyone else seems to have given up on her daughter.

The two time-lines eventually converge and collide in a literary firework show- revealing truths, secrets and lies that left me gasping for air.

Told from several viewpoints as well as the split time-line, I enjoyed how the the full plot emerged gradually as I started to untangle the different voices- and figured out which ones could be trusted. Blink is complex enough to keep you guessing throughout, but the split-timelines work perfectly and the writing is brilliantly clever- carrying you along effortlessly (if you can call losing sleep effortless!).

A beautifully written book with a creeping sense of dread that hits you from the first page. I'll definitely be reaching for another KL Slater next time I want a book to scare me witless!

Grab your copy here:

Kindle:                            Paperback:

The Blurb:

What if the person you love most in the world was in terrible danger … because of you?

Three years ago, Toni’s five-year-old daughter Evie disappeared after leaving school. The police have never been able to find her. There were no witnesses, no CCTV, no trace. 

But Toni believes her daughter is alive. And as she begins to silently piece together her memories, the full story of the past begins to reveal itself, and a devastating truth.

Toni’s mind is trapped in a world of silence, her only chance to save herself is to manage the impossible. She must find a way to make herself heard. She must find her daughter. 

A compelling, gripping thriller with a breathtaking twist that will keep you awake until the early hours. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, Behind Closed Doors and The Sister. 

About KL Slater

For many years, psychological thriller author KL Slater sent her work out to literary agents but never made it off the slush pile. At the age of 40 she went back to Nottingham Trent University and now has an MA in Creative Writing.

Before graduating, she received five offers of representation from London literary agents which was, as Kim says, ‘a fairytale … at the end of a very long road!’

Kim is a full-time writer and lives in Nottingham with her husband, Mac.




Monday, 20 February 2017

Book and a Biscuit: The Owl at the Window by Carl Gorham


The Owl at the Window by Carl Gorham, published by Coronet


The classic Earl Grey by Twinings - one of my fave, every-day teas. You can't beat a soothing cup of Earl Grey.


Meringue nests. See... I'm on Slimming World... and so far, these little beauties have proved to be my saviour when I'm desperate for a sweet treat!

Friday, 17 February 2017

Review: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Let’s talk about Sophie Kinsella, shall we? How she is one of my all time “hero authors”. You know, the few on the list whose book releases you count down to on your calendar, scare the postman with you squealing when the book arrives, and prance around cuddling it (your book- not your postman!) before retreating to your favourite reading corner and not resurfacing until you’ve finished. That’s how much I love Sophie Kinsella’s writing- especially her standalone novels.

The build up to My Not So Perfect Life has been pretty epic, it has to be said. I went through the squealing / cuddling / hibernation-reading routine… and… oh it was GOOD. The thing is, when you love a writer’s work as much as this, the expectation is HUGE- and this is why S.K. is my hero- her books never let me down. Brilliant writing and a very safe pair of hands- you just know the book is going to be a winner from the beginning to the perfect ending.

Katie (or Cat) Brenner is working so hard to make her long-desired London life as perfect as she’d
always imagined it would be. The dream job, the perfect home, swanky restaurants, cool friends. Everything should be just perfect. In reality, the house-share sucks, the job is extremely junior, and Katie isn’t getting the recognition she craves from her scatty nightmare of a boss, Demeter. But nothing will get in the way of Katie displaying the perfect version of her life on her Instagram feed… until the whole thing crumbles around her.

Katie retreats to her family farm in Somerset to re-group, while helping her father set up his new glamping business. When Demeter is one of their first visitors she doesn't link Katie with Cat- her recently fired junior member of staff (a fact which Katie embraces). Katie spots an opportunity for revenge… and for getting her life back on track…

In classic Kinsella style, My Not So Perfect Life had me giggling within seconds of picking it up. It’s written with a lightness of touch which makes the humour appear effortless, while the characters spring to life around you.

Katie/Cat was such an easy character to identify with-  anyone who has started on their adult life with a dream of how it’s going to work out, only to have to face the day-to-day realities of the job and housing market, will see parts of themselves reflected back at them with worrying accuracy.

I loved the disparity between Katie’s daily London existence and her sparkling Instagram feed. If there’s one thing I would have changed about My Not So Perfect Life it would be that the author could have played with the Instagram connection a little bit more- making it a more integral part of the plot. That said- the plot is perfectly awesome as it stands and kept me reading long after I should have gone to bed / got out of bed / gone to work / got back to my desk!

My Not So Perfect Life is classic Kinsella; fresh, laugh-out-loud funny and with a heroine you can’t help but cheer on- no matter how much she loses the plot!

Right… I’m off for a spot of Vedari… (seriously – you have to read it!)

Grab your copy here:

Kindle:                                 Hardcover:

The Blurb:

Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.

OK, so the truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers. 

But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?

Until her not-so-perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business. 

Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams - or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman who has everything – actually have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems. 

And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway?

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Book and a Biscuit: The A to Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson


The A to Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson - due out from Harper on the 20th April- but available to pre-order now!! Huge thanks to Charlotte Ledger for this gorgeous, early proof.


Smooth Green Tea Strawberry Cupcake by PG Tips - I'm sorry- who can resist tea and a cupcake all in one cup...? No- me neither- and this is delicious!


I've already got the cake in the cup... so I thought I'd add extra strawberries to the mix with this delicious bowl of goodness!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Weekly Series: Doomed Date Diaries: Part 11

Part 11

Doomed Date Diaries by Bethany Quinn

22. Matt

It felt a bit like a double date. I was sitting in Matt's removal van waiting for a call from Suzie. She was leaving her boyfriend, Geoff, for the ninth time. Their most recent 'mini break' had lasted an impressive 32 minutes. This time she was serious though- so she hired me. Given her track record I'd insisted on a large deposit. I was glad I had. We'd been waiting for three hours.

I had Dennis with me too. Clive and Hannah were both away, secretly pursuing new love interests, so I'd rather foolishly offered to look after him for the weekend. Overnight my flat had been transformed from small and untidy to small, untidy and chewed. There were sticks too. Lots of them. Have you ever tried getting a stick from a Bull Terrier? It's a bit like trying to forcibly remove a stroppy teenager's nose piercing. Impossible. Matt was feeding him bits of chicken sandwich. Dennis was feigning disinterest in that sort of 'No- no- no!- Oh go on then, if you insist!' way that dogs have.

Still no call. I checked to see if my phone was broken. It wasn't. Matt let out one of those long, breathy sighs that signifies 'bored now' in man-speak.

'You know that Peter's back?' I said, trying to get a conversation going.
'I heard,' Matt replied, handing the last crust of his sandwich to Dennis. Matt and his older brother James went to school with Peter. They weren't exactly friends. They used to draw rude pictures on his face with crayons.
'So what's the story?' I asked. Matt knew everything about everyone. He was a listener. A trait in men that is most often characterised by its rarity.
'He says he was hit by a truck and lost his memory.' Matt said.
'Uh-huh,' I said. What I really meant was 'Yeah- right!'

Matt had been equally unconvinced. 'I spoke to his sister. Apparently he left your place and went straight to the pub and got absolutely wasted. It all gets a little complicated after that but he ended up living in a caravan for three and a half years with a half Swedish, half Norwegian girl who was happy to take her clothes off but preferred just holding hands.'

My phone rang. It was Suzie. 'We're going to get married,' she said excitedly.

I guess we all make mistakes.

Blogtour: Review: Revenge by Nigel May

Oh my goodness – I’m hooked. This is the first Nigel May novel I’ve read- and boy, it’s explosive.

Revenge follows five personalities as they make their way to celebrity chef Dexter Franklin’s opening night of his new St Tropez restaurant. Dexter has big plans for his big night… and these five have been hand-picked by him to play a BIG part in that.

There’s Mew and Holly- ex members of girl band Crazy Sour- though they are far from friends. Holly has fallen on hard times, while Mew is flying high with her new cookery career. Then there’s bitchy food critic DC, Brazilian diva Rosita Velázquez and finally, her boyfriend Leland- who also happens to be Dexter’s brother. But just you wait and see what’s in store for them all!

I couldn’t put this chunky book down. It’s one of those that you race through – and can’t wait to get back to if you’re dragged away.

What made this such addictive reading? Scandal, sex and celebrities of course! Oh and a whole ton of plot and cliffhangers. This is a story that doesn’t let up for a second- every single chapter hooks you into the next. The characters are richly drawn and larger than life- so you can love or loathe them with gusto. My favourite was actually one of the bit-part players, journalist Fabienne Delacroix – she is fabulously strong and sassy.

One thing to note at this point…  there is sex. A lot of sex. So if you don’t like reading about the saucier side of life, then this one might not be for you – but you’ll be missing out on a stonker of a story.

Everyone deserves a bit of glamour- and Revenge piles it on. May’s writing scratches the same itch that makes you delight in a celebrity gossip magazine or website – and is my new guilty pleasure.

Grab your copy here:

Kindle:                             Paperback:

The Blurb:

If you keep dangerous secrets you’ll pay the ultimate price… 

In the South of France, playground of the rich and famous, world renowned chef Dexter Franklin is organising a night to remember. As he opens the doors to his exclusive restaurant for the first time, he’s handpicked a list of guests, as hot and dazzling as the St Tropez sun itself: Mew Stanton: Fashionable, beautiful and a notorious TV chef, Dexter’s ex-girlfriend has all the ingredients for success. As her books fly off the shelves, a secret from her past is about to surface with explosive consequences. Holly Lydon: Ex girlband star who has fallen on hard times. Forced to make ends meet she’s having to sleep her way to the top. Now she’s making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Rosita Velázquez: Brazilian actress extraordinaire and girlfriend of Dexter’s brother, Leland. When she’s in town everybody needs to know about it, but this is one show-stopping entrance she’ll live to regret. Three women have a past with Dexter and a grudge to bear against him. As fireworks ignite in the jet set capital of Europe, there’s murder on the menu.

Who will be served their just desserts? The sun is setting in the South of France. Pour yourself a glass of champagne and sit back for a read of revenge, regrets and shocking revelations that will have you hooked to the very last page.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Book and a Biscuit: Books For Living by Will Schwalbe


Books for Living by Will Schwalbe. Out now from Two Roads Books.


White Tea, Blueberry & Elderflower by English Tea Shop. A gorgeous, light cuppa to go with my morning reading!


Really not a biscuit- but a very nice reading time snack- I can't leave them alone! ;)

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Weekly Series: Doomed Date Diaries: Part 10

Part 10

Doomed Date Diaries by Bethany Quinn

20. Peter

'I'm just popping out to the shops,' Peter said, picking up his coat and keys on the way to the door.
'Okay,' I said, not really paying any attention.
'Do you want anything?'
'No thanks,' I called back absently.
'Love you,' he said.
'Love you too,' I said, just as the front door slammed shut. I doubt he heard me. It doesn't really matter. I didn't hear from him again for five years.

I was slumped in the corner of my favourite pub drinking a large glass of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It was eye-wateringly expensive but tonight I wasn't taking any chances. I needed something rich, warming and French. Nothing else would do. The ongoing saga of Jessie and Carl's couch was driving me insane.

It was only a saggy old piece of junk that they'd picked up at auction, but the battle for its possession was entering a third week. 

Initially Carl claimed the couch had great sentimental value. It was, after all, the place the couple had made love for the first time. This very nearly had the desired effect. Jessie came close to giving their relationship another go- mostly because she didn't like the idea of Carl making love to anyone else on their 'special' couch. Unfortunately she was already too late. Twice.

Then Carl said he was willing to swap the couch, until he discovered that Jessie intended to have it reupholstered as it was beginning to show its age. I guess he didn't like the look of the new fabric. There was stalemate for a day or two. Jessie finally gave in, saying she'd just chuck a throw over it instead. At this, Carl flared up, saying the throw was symbolic- that Jessie was trying to hide the fact that they had ever been together and he would rather burn the couch and watch TV on the floor than let her have it. 

And so it went on. Frankly I was sick to death of the whole stupid thing.
My phone was ringing. Strangely it wasn't Jessie or Carl. It was Peter.
'I'd like to pick up my stuff,' he said.
'What stuff?' I said.
'The stuff I left at your flat.'
'That was five years ago!' I said.
'I've been busy.'
'I don't live there anymore,' I said.
'Oh,' he said- and put the phone down.

I was glad we didn't have a couch.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Review: The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick

See... I did say that I was getting a taste for historical fiction and time-slip books... and Nicola Cornick's The Phantom Tree is a fantastic example of the beautifully complex and detailed writing that seems to be at large in this genre.

The Phantom Tree follows two heroines across two main time-periods (though there are hints of many others throughout the novel). Alison avoids everything to do with the distant past – because it tends to dredge up memories- of everything she lost when fell from the second half of the 16th century into the present day. Ten years later, she is still searching for answers that will set her mistakes to rights and help her past rest easily.

Mary Seymour is the daughter of one queen and the niece of another. She is now unwanted- shipped
from one place to another as distant relations are expected to care and provide for her. When she encounters Alison, they are far from friends- but soon forge ties that will bind them across the centuries.

The author’s writing is gritty and disturbing- and as far from sentimental as it is possible to get. She describes two heroines who are thrown together- and their mutual discord forges a link that makes this book impossible to put down. Alison is as abrasive in the 16th century as she is in the present day – but this didn’t stop me from rooting for her and hoping against hope that she finds peace and a way to live her life happily.

Mary was an incredible character to follow- again, incredibly flawed, but I couldn’t help but admire her as she grew from a lost little girl, scared of the visions that plague her, into a woman of wit and cunning. Her story left me completely speechless- I love those moments when an author manages to snatch your breath away!

The time-slip element of this book was beautifully written and completely believable. It isn’t over- explained, just enough for me to accept it as fact. Although this novely reads brilliantly as a stand-alone, I felt that there is certainly scope in the set-up for further books in this series, if the author fancied heading in that direction – and I would definitely be pre-ordering them if that was the case.

The Phantom Tree is a deft, detailed, un-put-down-able book. I didn’t want it to end!

Paperback:                     Kindle:

The Blurb:
“My name is Mary Seymour and I am the daughter of one queen and the niece of another.”

Browsing antiques shops in Wiltshire, Alison Bannister stumbles across a delicate old portrait – supposedly of Anne Boleyn. Except Alison knows better… The woman is Mary Seymour, the daughter of Katherine Parr who was taken to Wolf Hall in 1557 as an unwanted orphan and presumed dead after going missing as a child.

The painting is more than just a beautiful object from Alison’s past – it holds the key to her future, unlocking the mystery surrounding Mary’s disappearance, and the enigma of Alison’s son.

But Alison’s quest soon takes a dark and foreboding turn, as a meeting place called the Phantom Tree harbours secrets in its shadows…

Monday, 6 February 2017

Book and a Biscuit: The Trouble with Henry and Zoe by Andy Jones


The Trouble With Henry and Zoe by Andy Jones, published by Simon & Schuster UK


Digging into my new box of Fruit Fantasy Variety from London Fruit & Herb Company, this is the deliciously fruity and fragrant Peach Paradise. This blend tastes like a peach explosion!


Mmmm Fox's Golden Crunch Creams- one of my favourites... I've been known to kill off an entire pack of these in one sitting. Two delicious crumbly biscuits sandwiched together by creamy filling. Heaven.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Book and a Biscuit: Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes


Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes. Published by Michael Joseph (Penguin) on the 9th February.


London Calling by Jollybrew- a delicate blend of Earl Grey and Jasmine.


Oh, okay, if you're being pedantic, it's a pastry... a delicious Cinammon and Raisin Swirl (aka a Snaily Bun) by Ella Artisan Baker of Ashburton 

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Weekly Series: Doomed Date Diaries: Part 9

Part 9

Doomed Date Diaries by Bethany Quinn

21. Steve

It was Saturday night. It was raining. I was covered in cheap, red wine- and someone had ripped the wing mirror off my car. To tell you the truth, I was having a little cry. It had been quite a day.

When I looked up there was a police officer staring at me. He could see the damage to my car. He didn't seem at all pleased. I wound down my window.

'Hello,' he said.
'Hello,' I said.
'You weren't thinking about driving were you?'
'As a matter of fact I was. Why?'
'Have you been drinking?'
'No, I haven't,' I replied.
'I can smell alcohol on your breath.'
I rolled my eyes. Could my evening get any worse? 'It's not actually on my breath,' I said. 'It's all over me.'
'Really?' He said flatly.
Stupidly I ploughed on. 'I just had a drink thrown in my face. I was telling a client that his girlfriend had left him. He didn't take it very well. That's what I do for a living.'
'What, have drinks thrown at you?'
'No,' I said. 'Split people up.'
And that's how I ended up in the back of a police car with Constables Hogget and Jones.

The roadside breathalyzer test came back with a big fat zero. I hadn't touched a drop. Both police officers looked genuinely disappointed.
'So who threw the wine?' Hogget asked.
'Why? Are you going to arrest him?' I said.
He gave that some thought. 'Depends. What kind of wine was it?'
'A Merlot, I think.'
Jones started taking notes.
'Country of origin?'
'I don't know,' I said testily. 'I was too busy getting soaked to ask.'
Hogget carefully sniffed the air. 'Smells like New World to me.'
'I'm getting dense raspberry notes and smoky tannins.' Jones added.
'Aged in oak you think?'
'Definitely New Zealand.'
'A 2003 perhaps?'
'Have you two quite finished? I said archly.
Hogget and Jones looked sheepish.
'Sorry. It's been a quiet shift and you're the most fun we've had in the back of the car for ages.'

Constable Jones walked me back to my car. He clearly had something on his mind.
'So, do you really split people up for a living?'
'Yes,' I said, unlocking the door and getting in.
'Oh,' he said.
'Why?' I said.
He shifted his weight uneasily. 'You don't happen to have a business card do you?'