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» Listings for February 2013

  1. Patricia Scanlan With All My LoveMy Rating: 5/5

    Briony McAllistair spends the day with her four year old daughter Katie in Southern Spain. She is on a visit to her mother Valerie, who has recently brought herself a place there. As Katie plays, Briony pulls out an old photo album that contains a letter that will change everything for her. The letter begins My Darling Briony. After many years, Briony discovers that her beloved Grandmother Tessa is alive and well, and has spent many years harbouring after contact with her first born Granddaughter. The first couple of chapters were interesting enough to pull me into the book without a hesitation. What at first seemed like an ordinary story very quickly turns into a complicated plot.

    Patricia Scanlan's latest book grabbed me from the early stages and quite frankly didn't let go until the very end. This is one of Patricia's best books I have read. When Briony makes her discovery her instinct is to up and leave, but after a conversation with her Godmother, and Valerie's best friend as well as her husband she decides to wait and see what her mother has to say. This is the very beginning of the story and we are taken back to the past by Valerie herself. I thought this book would be sectioned out between past and present, and although it is to a degree, the majority of the story takes us through Valerie's life and how she has got to where she is today.

    I very quickly got drawn back to when Valerie met Briony's father Jeff and her relationship with his parents Tessa and Lorcan. Times were very different when Valerie was young and Patricia Scanlan does a sterling job in transporting you back to a time when unmarried mothers and abortion were deeply frowned upon. I fell in love with the fiery and young Valerie and as the story progressed lots of things are revealed about the sorry state of affairs the present day has ended in. Before long I was shocked to discover I was three quarters of the way through the book in one sitting! What I really loved about this latest book is the layers within it that are ordinary (if that makes sense). Just the lives of ordinary people, who make mistakes, say things they don't mean and the consequences because of it.

    I initially found myself disliking Tessa, however as the story went on it was easy to turn that around and sympathise. I think that by the time I got to the end of the book I was truly sad to have finished it, but found myself thinking this was by far and a mile one of the best Patricia Scanlan books I have read in a while. It was utterly absorbing and one that I couldn't put down. Highly recommended.

  2. Matt Dunn Ex Girlfriends ReunitedMy Rating: 3/5

    Having read the first book by Matt Dunn featuring Ed Middleton and his friend Dan Davies, I was keen to read the second book. Once again we meet with Ed and Dan, only this time around Ed is settled down with his girlfriend and Dan seems to be going through a dry spell. Dan Davies has a job as a TV presenter, and has landed a role in a new daytime soap. He just can't figure out why the women aren't falling at his feet like they usually do. In the first book we see more of Edward and his dilemma of trying to change his ways, and I actually preferred that as Dan grated on me a little bit. With Dan being a little bit more prominent in this book I wondered if I would like it as much.

    When Dan and Ed realise that a website `Slate Your Date' features Dan heavily they realise Dan's situation is a little trickier than they first thought. Ex Girlfriends seem to have overloaded the site with details of Dan's disgraceful behaviour. Between them, they decide the only way to get things sorted is to track down Dan's exes and try to make things right. As usual humour is the main key to Matt's books slightly having the edge and there is no shortage of that in this book. The one thing that did make me feel it wasn't as good as the last is the fact that I just couldn't imagine Dan and Ed actually being friends in real life?! Having said that, towards the end of the book my attitude towards Dan changed somewhat and I found myself thinking that he wasn't that bad after all!

    I think Matt Dunn has produced another good book and although Dan grates on me a bit, I really like the two of them and more to the point want to know how things go from here. Luckily, the next book The Accidental Proposal should answer my questions. I think his two books I've read

  3.  Carole Matthews A Cottage By The SeaMy Rating: 5/5

    Kat's Review: Grace, Ella and Flick have been friends since College. When Ella invites them all to her cottage in South Wales for a week Grace jumps at the chance to spend some quality time with her friends. Sadly her husband Harry is less enthused and as they set off in his Bentley for their journey, Ella is pretty sure the week will be far from easy. As with every Carole Matthew's book I read, she has a knack for ensuring the reader likes the characters. Thankfully this latest book is a perfect example of how good she really is. Grace is easy to warm to and you can't help but feel sympathetic when Harry starts whingeing very early on because there is no phone signal.

    In addition to Grace, we see her friend Ella who is the laid back one and their unpredictable and fickle friend Flick who seems to be the wild element of the friendship to their calm. Ella's husband Art along with Flick's handsome friend Noah, complete the six and from the early part of the book you just know the week is going to be unpredictable. I just fell in love with the descriptive Cwtch Cottage that Carole described and it made me want to immediately book up a beautiful cottage in the country for the summer!

    This book is a rollercoaster of laughter, tears and friendship. The real storyline is one that is basic, but sometimes works the best. It tells the story of the three women and we get to see each of them deal with their relationships with the men in their lives and their closest girlfriends. I was absolutely enthralled by this book and truly thought it was one of her best. I literally didn't put it down and found myself just having to finish it because I needed to know what was going to happen to everybody.

    It sounds ridiculous, but when you have an author you have read for so many years, I almost get frightened that one day I will pick up one of their new books and they will have just lost that spark that makes you love their books. In the case of Carole Matthews, her books are like wine, they most definitely improve with age and I for one will be pre-ordering the next one. It's a sheer joy to read a book so wonderful from an author that has been writing for so long. This one is highly recommended!

  4. My Rating: 4/5 

    Well it's been a while since I have read about Lorraine Hunt in Sheila Quigley's series. I decided it was high time I re-acquainted myself with them. I am very glad I did and as ever can't wait to read the next one in the series. In the 3rd book in the series we meet up with the Detective Lorraine a few weeks before Christmas. 

    It begins with the tragic apparent suicide of a young lad named Richie Stansfield who is found hanging from a tree at the Seven Sisters. The beginning of the book was a brilliant re-introduction to everybody for those that haven't read any other books in the series. We once again meet Lorraine's collagues Luke as well as Carter and Jacobs (who I despise by the way!).

    Before long the apparent suicide seems to be too sut and dried when Richie's friends appear to be holding something back. This particular story takes on a very sinister feel when there are rumours of cults but the story is fed in pieces really building up a picture of horrifying possibilities. I really like Lorraine as a charchter and the relationship she has with her Mum and her Mum's best friend brings a  lighter hearted side to the story, which I enjoyed.

    Having read the first two I certainly wouldn't put this down as my favourite so far, but there are certain developments with Lorraine that made it a lot more interesting. There were plenty of twists and turns to keep me occupied, especially when it came to Luke and his past!!!  I also loved seeing the return (albeit brief) of Jacko who featured in a previous book. Overall this book seemed to have a much darker theme that previous ones but it made it no less enjoyable. I would highly reccomend these books as they are brilliant. Really looking forward to the next one:-)

  5. Jenny Colgan Christmas at The Cupcake CafeMy Rating: 4/5

    I hate to admit this but only picked up my very first Jenny Colgan book towards the end of last year (yes I know it's ridiculous) but that book was The Cupcake Café. I devoured it and was thrilled when I realised there was a follow up book that had just been released. I eagerly picked up this one, Christmas at The Cupcake Café, and couldn't wait to see where Issy was in her world.

    For those that maybe haven't read the first one, fear not this can still be read as a stand-alone. However, it was so much more enjoyable being able to go back and see how all the characters were getting on. Issy took the plunge in book one and started up her very own Cupcake Café. We now go back to the café to find Issy, along with her two workers Pearl and Caroline running the café in their usual no-nonsense way. Issy is in love with her boyfriend Austin who works at a local bank, and things seem to be going smoothly for her. That is until Austin is called away on business to New York.

    The distance between them is the start of things going very wrong for Issy and pretty soon it seems that nothing is the same as before and she has no control over things. The one major difference between this book and the last although I still wanted to know about Issy, I was also really keen to see more of Pearl and Caroline. Although Issy is the main character, Jenny Colgan has done a stellar job of making the reader really engage with all the characters. Austin's younger brother Darney, Issy's mother, Doti the Postman, they all caught on with me and I just wanted to keep reading about all of them.

    This book didn't have nearly as much impact with me as the first (not sure why), but this certainly isn't to say I didn't enjoy it. I really enjoyed it and as usual it took me only two days to read it. The one thing I love is that these characters are memorable; I would really love to see the return of not just Issy but the other characters too. The story itself was good, but like I said just didn't have as much impact as the first. There is the addition of recipes all the way through the book which is a really nice touch, although it did make me quite hungry more often than not. Having finished it I am eagerly planning on getting stuck to other Jenny Colgan books. Another really good book!

  6. My Rating: 4/5

    I only read Anna’s first book in October but as I knew her new one was due out at the end of January I figured I’d better catch up with Rosie and how she was doing. In Anna’s second book To Tell the Truth we start off by seeing Rosie on holiday. She’s taking a well earned break, but as usual nothing stays quiet when Rosie is about. In a scene that is hauntingly similar to a news story a few years back, a young girl is snatched from a beach in the Costa del Sol. 

    When Rosie realises the huge news impact she speaks to her boss and she decides to cover it herself. Rosie’s boss McGuire sends out Matt to help her cover and between them they start the task of trying to get to the bottom of what’s happened.

    The same as her last book, Anna doesn’t mess about, and throws the reader straight in at the deep end. I really love Rosie and after reading this current one I love her even more. As usual, she likes to get involved irrelevant of the danger and this case is no different. Rosie knows from the off that the mother of the missing girl is covering up for what really happened that day, and in addition she is approached by an illegal sex worker with information about the abduction.

    The pace is full speed pretty much from start to finish and with this book and the last there is a certain frenetic energy about the books which I love. The only other author who I can think of that has that same kind of pace is Simon Kernick. What I also loved about this book is that although we see Rosie completely absorbed in the case we still see glimpses of her personal life and her real vulnerability. A friend of Rosie’s named Adrian made a brilliant addition to this story and I would love to see him appear again at some point. Towards the ending I dismissed dinner, TV and phone calls just to make sure I finished it. I cannot believe I didn't read her books sooner, but having said that I am pleased that I can get straight onto book three entitled Screams in The Dark.

    Anna also added a wee bit of a question mark right at the end of this book with regards to Rosie’s personal life. All this made me do was groan “For GODS SAKE!” but in a good way. I would say in all honesty that her first book held a slight edge for me, probably just in terms of story. Other than that I loved this book. Absolutely itching to get started on book three and cannot recommend her highly enough. If you haven’t read an Anna Smith before, you may want to start now!

  7. Rowan Coleman Lessons IN Laughing Out LoudMy Rating: 4/5

    Don't ask me how but I had not got round to reading a book by Rowan Coleman. Yeah, yeah, I can hear people out there exclaiming "WHAT?". I know, sometimes I ask my self that very same question. I decided enough was enough, and scrolled through the ridiculous amount of books I have on my Kindle to start reading Rowan Coleman's book Lessons in Laughing Out Loud. It didn't take me long to like the main character Willow. Her and her twin Holly are polar opposites and Willow works for a demon of a woman, has a failed marriage behind her and finds it hard to say no to people. From very early on it's clear that Willow has something from her past that is holding her back and in the early part of the book she came across as a little weak, although also pretty endearing!

    When Willow's step-daughter turns up at her doorstep with a problem, Willow does no more than take her in along with a celebrity she happens to be babysitting on her bosses orders. Pretty soon Willow's life gets very complicated. I was quite taken by the story and the relationships that we see crossing over. I was beginning to get itchy feet just over the halfway mark wanting to know more about Willow's secret. However, as I read on I realised that Rowan Coleman had done a magic job of writing about a sensitive subject and revealing it at the perfect time in the book.

    Although this was my first Rowan Coleman book, I don't think it will be my last. There was only one element I thought spoiled it and that was the `magic' shoes. Yes I know the theory behind it was all about how Willow felt herself, but it just grated on me a little bit. That aside I thought the writing, characters and story were really enjoyable and certainly hooked me in to wanting to read more of her stuff. It was a slightly different kind of writing to other favourite authors of mine, but by no means just as good. I'm looking forward to reading more of her stuff in the future.

  8. Polly Williams HUsband MissingMy Rating: 3/5

    In this book by Polly Williams we meet Gina who has met and married Rex within a matter of months. When her husband goes missing on a holiday with friends her dream marriage starts to turn on its head. Rex's brother Jake is instrumental in helping Gina to try and find Rex or some clue as to why he has gone missing. The initial part of the book really grabbed me and you are left with so many questions at the beginning of the story. As time progresses and we see Gina return to the UK, her life has to move on but she struggles with day to day things. As more about Rex's past is revealed I began to find myself getting a little irritated with Gina as a character. Maybe this was just me but I felt that she was so weak and vulnerable I wanted to slap her!

    Rex's brother Jake on the other hand was a great character and I really liked him from early on. The story was certainly different and the writing was as in her other book brilliant. I just couldn't help but feel like I was missing something. When I finished the book I certainly enjoyed it, but the character Gina just irritated me so much that I began to dislike her and it just ruined it a little for me. This certainly isn't my favourite Polly Williams book but I think it will be a favourite with many others. I will carry on reading Polly Williams as I have really enjoyed her other books, and maybe next time I will like the character more. There was slightly hurried feel to the end of this book too, which maybe lessened my enjoyment of it, but I still felt like it was a good read, just not a favourite of mine.