Archive | March 2019

The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew – Milly Johnson ~ Blog Tour

Back of the Book :

Behind every successful man is a woman.
Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

Sophie Mayhew looks like she has the perfect life. Wife of rising political star John F Mayhew, a man who is one step away from the top job in the government, her glamour matches his looks, power, breeding and money. But John has made some stupid mistakes along the way, some of which are threatening to emerge. Still, all this can still be swept under the carpet as long as Sophie ‘the trophy’ plays her part in front of the cameras.

But the words that come out of Sophie’s mouth one morning on the doorstep of their country house are not the words the spin doctors put in there.  Bursting out of the restrictive mould she has been in since birth, Sophie flees to a place that was special to her as a child, a small village on the coast where she intends to be alone.

But once there, she finds she becomes part of a community that warms her soul and makes her feel as if she is breathing properly for the first time. Sophie knows she won’t be left in peace for long. Now she must decide: where does her real future lie? 

What I Think :

Sophie is the wife of an up-coming politician, John.F.Mayhew.

John only thinks of himself and how the things that he and Sophie do will affect him and his career. He has to be squeaky clean if he’s going to be prime minister one day. He never thinks of Sophie. She’s just there, doing all of the behind the scene stuff so John doesn’t have to. He’s not always the nicest to Sophie, making her do things that she’d really rather not do. Sophie never complains, she just does what he wants her to. She ‘stands by her man’

Sophie has had a good up-bringing, she comes from quite a posh family and had a private education. Quite simply she is known by the press as ‘Sophie the Trophy’

John hasn’t always abided by his marriage vows, in fact, whilst he and Sophie were dating he dumped her for someone else. He’s had a few indiscretions, however he’s always managed to make them ‘go away’ he has a very good press team.

However, this time when a girl that John employed at his office, tells the world that she has been having an affair with him, something inside Sophie snaps. She decides that enough is enough and she’s not going to put up with him and his affairs anymore.

So when John, Sophie and their parents are all standing on the doorstep of the ‘Park court’ their family home, with the world and the press expecting Sophie to tell the world that she’s Standing by her man, she doesn’t, Sophie calls her husband a rude name and walks away !

Later on, she escapes the house over the back wall, away from John, her family and all her wifely commitments. She runs to a place that is very dear to her heart when she was a child. It’s in a tiny village, somewhere in Yorkshire, that she finally finds herself and decides who she wants to be …

But she knows sooner or later, she’s going to have to go back, what will she choose to do ?

I have only read a couple of Milly’s other books but really enjoyed them, so when I was asked to be on the blog tour for this book I jumped at the chance !

This lovely book is packed with down to earth, brilliant characters (and a few that I must admit I wasn’t quite struck on !) that you can really relate to.

I really liked the main character Sophie and was really rooting for her. I also think that every town or village should have an Elliott Bellringer as their vicar ! If only to look at every Sunday !!

This is a big hug of a book, it really makes you feel good.

To borrow from the title of the book, it is truly Magnificent !

I really loved it and I can highly recommend it, so just go out and buy it now !

I give it 10/10

Published by Simon & Schuster on 07/03/19

A huge thank you to Annabelle Wright at Simon & Schuster for the very special review copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Keep Her Close – M.J.Ford ~ Blog Tour.

Back of the book :

Someone is playing a deadly game…

When a young woman goes missing from Jesus College, Oxford, DS Josie Masters is plunged into a world of panic as fear grips the city. Along with Thames Valley Police’s newest recruit, the handsome DS Pryce, Josie must act fast – and when two more students disappear from Oriel and Somerville colleges, she realises the killer is sending her a deadly message in a cruel game of cat and mouse. This time, the case is personal – but who is the perpetrator?

In a desperate race against the clock, Josie hunts for the kidnapper, and soon discovers he could be a lot closer to home than she’d ever thought…

What I think :

DS Josie Masters is still trying to adjust after what happened last year. Her ex-boyfriend DI Ben Coombes was murdered in a horrific way. Her nephew William was kidnapped by the same person that killed Ben, Dylan Jones – who had been kidnapped himself some 15 years ago and turned into a monster by neglect, thankfully William was found unharmed. Josie has been seeing a psychologist, by order of her commanding officer, to try and get over what happened to Ben and William. She’s slowly but surely getting herself back together.

She’s back at work on light duty’s only, but is hoping for a big case so she can prove that she’s better now. Then a young girl goes missing from a Jesus college, she’s hoping that this is the case. But her superiors have other ideas and put someone else on it, which has got to be said, did upset Josie a bit. However, when two more girls go missing from other nearby colleges Josie realises that it has suddenly become personal, the killer is spelling out her name … Jesus, Oriel and Somerville. (All colleges)

Who could be doing this ?

why are doing this ?

It’s a race against time before another girl goes missing ….

This is the second book in the DI Josie Masters books and a follow on from ‘Hold My Hand’ the book in which we were first introduced to Josie. It was a nice surprise to be reconnecting with Josie and all the other characters from the first novel, such as DI Andy Carrick, Heidi Tan and not forgetting DC Jack Pryce. We are also introduced to a new character DI Dimitriou.

It has all the expected twists and turns and it keeps you guessing right up until the end and again as in the first novel we get to know a bit more about the characters and what makes them tick.

I really liked this second book and couldn’t put it down as I really needed to find out the outcome and just who was targeting poor Josie ! Again I thought that Josie seemed quite troubled and I did feel quite sorry for her.

I give this brilliant follow-on book 10/10

Published by Avon Books on 07/03/19

A big thank you as always, to the lovely Sabah Khan at Avon for the review copy of the book in return for a honest review.

Here for your reading pleasure is a extract from the book 🙂

Extract :

Jo took the bypass out towards Wheatley. The issue with the money was a minor awkwardness, because otherwise, reconnection with her mum had been an unexpected joy. In her lucid moments, they talked about Dad and happier times. Madeleine Masters had no idea of the ordeal her family had undergone that year. It wasn’t even a conscious decision not to tell her, more a tacit understanding that the news would unlikely penetrate the thick fog of dementia anyway. There’d been some worry that Will himself might bring it up – after all, he was only six, and could hardly be expected to maintain the family subterfuge – but so far he hadn’t. Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t keen to relive any of that night. Even with his trauma therapist, he was apparently silent on the subject, preferring to focus discussions on his latest passion: astronauts.

Jo reached the home – Evergreen Lodge – and pulled in along the tree-lined drive. She normally brought flowers or chocolates, but she didn’t think her mum would care. Most the sweets went in a cupboard, to be dished out to staff anyway, and the flowers always wilted in the overheated atmosphere of the residents’ rooms. At the door, she was about to press the buzzer when her phone rang. It was St Aldates station.

‘What’s up?’ she answered.

‘You busy?’ said DI Andy Carrick. 

Jo looked through the reinforced glass panel. Mrs Deekinswas sitting in her normal spot in the corridor, staring at the opposite wall. She could almost smell the place already. Overcooked food, disinfectant, sadness. Radiators cranked to max.

‘Not especially.’

‘Head over to Oriel College,’ said Carrick.

‘What is it?’ asked Jo.

‘Missing person,’ said Carrick. ‘Signs of a struggle. A student called . . .’ he paused, and Jo guessed he was checking his notes, ‘Malin Sigurdsson.’

The Newcomer – Fern Britton ~ Blog Tour

Back of the book :

She arrived in the village on the spring tide and hoped to be at the heart of it, knowing its secrets and weathering its storms.

It was to be a new beginning

It’s springtime in the Cornish village of Pendruggan and as the community comes together to say a fond farewell to parish vicar, Simon, and his wife, Penny, a newcomer causes quite a stir

Reverand Angela Whitehorn came to Cornwall to make a difference. With her husband, Robert, by her side, she sets about making changes but it seems not everyone is happy for her to shake things up in the small parish, and soon Angela starts to receive anonymous poison pen letters.

Angela has always been one to fight back, and she has already brought a fresh wind into the village, supporting her female parishioners through good times and bad. But as the letters get increasingly more personal, Angela learns that the secrets are closer to home.

With faith and friends by your side, even the most unlikely of new beginnings is possible.

What I think :

When Vicar Simon and his lovely wife Penny and daughter Jenna, move to Brazil for a year for Simon’s work, a new vicar is needed to fill in. Enter Angela and her husband Robert, who is a political correspondent for a newspaper (with the occasional tv appearance mixed in) in London and their daughter Faith. Along with them comes Mr Worthington the dog and Angela’s Aunt Mamie, Who in a class all of her own ! (in a nice way of course !)

Things seem to be going ok, and they’re settling in. Robert is loving being a house-husband, Faith is making friends, with boys at school and Mamie has struck up a friendship with the owner of the post office cum corner shop and they’ve even been known to sneak off to smoke a secret spliff. (to cure their aching joints of course !) Angela has been to a couple of meetings with the parish council and there’s even talk of a village project. Everything is going great, just the new start they needed after the untimely death of Angela’s mum.

But then the letters start coming and something awful happens ….

All of the wonderful characters are back for a third outing in the brilliant Pendruggan saga. There’s Queenie from the post office, lovely Helen and the mean and moody Piran. Not forgetting village busybody Audrey and her poor long suffering husband Geoffrey. It’s like meeting up with old friends after a while away.

This lovely book is just what you need after a bad day or a long day at work. It’s like a big warm hug on a rainy day.

I always love fern’s books and really look forward to them. This one is fabulous and highly recommend it.

I give it a well-earned 10/10.

Published by Harper Collins on 07/03/19

A huge thank you to Rebecca Bryant from Harper Collins for the review copy of the book in return for a honest review.

The Guilty Party – Mel McGrath

Back of the book :

On a night out, four friends lose each other in a crowd – and separately, they witness a stranger in trouble.

One by one, they each decide to do nothing to help.

Later, a body washes up on the banks of the Thames – and the group knows that ignoring the woman has left blood on their hands.

But why did each of them refuse to step in ?

Why did none of them want to be noticed that night ?

Who is really responsible ?

And is it possible that the victim was not really a stranger at all … ?

What I think :

Cassie, Anna, Bo and Dex have all been close friends for years. They had all been on a night out together at a music festival in wapping, London. It’s the early hours of the morning. It is Cassie’s birthday and she doesn’t want the night to end yet.

They stop to buy one last drink at the off-licence and plan to take it down the river. It’s been decided that the girls will meet the boys outside the shop but when they get there the boys are no where to be seen. The girls wander off down to the river anyway in the hope they’ll spot the boys on the way. They have one last drink together. As they head off home they hear something odd, it’s sounds like someone or something has fallen into the water. I mean, it’s the early hours of the morning, who on earth would be by the river at this time of night ? Suddenly out of nowhere a gang of angry sounding and angry looking people are all around them. The girls are very scared and leave straight away without doing anything. The four friends soon discover that a woman was brutally attacked that night and a body has washed up.

What happened that night and why … ?

What do the friends have to hide …?

This is a story about secrets, and a few lies and a whole lot more.

It’s very dark and psychologically twisted. It centres on four friends, who in earlier years went out as two couples. They have been friends for years and are very close. They keep a lot of secrets for each other and justify the secret keeping because of that close friendship.

I’m not really sure if I really liked any of the characters as they all seemed over entitled and very selfish.

The writing style was quite hard to get used to but I managed to in the end.

I quite liked this dark thriller and give it 8/10

Published by HQ on 07/03/19.

A huge thank you to Joe Thomas at HQ for the review copy of the book in return for an honest review.

The Girl Next Door – Phoebe Morgan ~ Blog Tour.

Back of the book :

Perfect mother. Perfect wife. Jane Goodwin has spent years building her picture-perfect life in the quiet town of Ashdon.

So when the girl next door, sixteen-year-old Clare Edwards, is found murdered, Jane knows she must first protect her family.

Every marriage has a few white lies and hers is no exception. Jane’s worked hard to cover up her dark secret from all those years ago and she’ll do anything to keep it hidden

What I think :

Jane lives in one of he most expensive houses in town. It’s quite a sleepy little town, nothing bad ever happens there. She’s married to Jack, the local doctor. They have three children together, Harry who’s a teenager and Finn and Sophie who are younger. Her marriage isn’t at all what it seems to the outside world, there is much turbulence, but, Jane must NEVER let anyone know that, it’s all about appearances.

Jane isn’t particularly close to her next door neighbours, Rachel and Ian and their daughter Clare. She’s tried to be by taking round bottles of wine etc but Rachel and Ian just want to keep to themselves.

Then one night Rachel knocks on Jane’s door visibly upset. Her daughter Clare has gone missing, she’s not come home from school, she asks if her son Harry, knows where she is ? But he doesn’t because he’s out with friends having pizza.

Some hours later, Clare is found on the meadow, she’s been murdered. Hit over the head. Her phone is missing …

The local weirdo, Nathan Warren called it in to the police, is he to blame or has someone else in the town murdered Clare …

This is quite a slow-burner, the author sets the scene for quite a few chapters before getting to the story proper.

The characters are real and relatable and behave in a way that you would expect them to in that sort of situation. Some I really liked and felt sorry for and there were others that I wasn’t quite struck on, just like in real life !

It has plenty of twists and turns to get your teeth into and a few red herrings that set you down the wrong path.

Each chapter is told from a different characters perspective mainly Jane, Maddie (the police officer investigating) and Clare on the day that she’s murdered.

This one is completely different from the authors first book, which is no bad thing and I do have to admit that this one did keep me puzzling right up until the end. ( which is quite unusual for me !) talking of the end it’s pretty explosive in a twisty sort of way !!

Anyway, I thought that it was quite brilliant and I give it a well deserved 10/10.

Published on 21/02/19 by HQ

A big thanks to Lucy Richardson at HQ (Harper Collins) for the review copy of the book .

Here for your reading pleasure is an extract from the book 🙂

Extract :

Monday 4th February, 7.45 p.m.

I’m sitting in the window with a glass of cool white wine, watching as one by one, the lights in the house next door to ours flicker on. It’s dark outside, the February night giving nothing away, and the Edwards’ house glows against the gloom. Their walls are cream – not a colour I’d choose – and their front garden runs down to the road, parallel to ours. Inside, I imagine their house to be a mirror image of my own: four spacious bedrooms, a wide, gleaming kitchen, beams that date from the fifteenth century framing the stairway. I’ve never been inside, not properly, but everybody knows our properties are the most sought-after in the town – the biggest, the most expensive, the ones they all want.

There’s a creaking sound from upstairs – my husband Jack, moving around in our room, loosening his tie, the clunk of his shoes dropping onto the floor of the wardrobe. He’s been drinking tonight – the open bottle of whiskey sits on the counter, sticky drops spilling onto the surface.

Quietly, so as not to wake the children, I stand, move away from the window and begin clearing it up, putting the bottle back in the cupboard, wiping the little circle of stain off the marble countertop. Wiping away the evidence of the night, of the things he said to me that I want to forget. I’m good at forgetting. Blanking the slate. Practice makes perfect, after all.

The house is tidy and still. The bunch of lilies Jack bought me last week stand stiff on the windowsill, their large pink petals overseeing the room. Apology flowers. I could open up a florist, if it wasn’t such a tacky idea.

There’s a sound outside and, curious, I move to the front window, lift the thick, dove-grey curtain to one side so that I can see the Edwards’ front garden. Their porch light has come on, lighting up the gravel driveway, the edge of their garage on the far side, and the stone bird bath at the front, frozen over in the February chill. I’ve always thought a birdbath was a little too much, but each to their own. Rachel Edwards’ tastes have never quite aligned with mine.

We’ve never been close, Rachel and I. Not particularly. I tried, of course. When she and her first husband Mark moved in a few years ago, I went round with a bottle of wine – white, expensive. It was hot, July, and I imagined us sitting out in the back garden together, me filling her in about who’s who in the town, her nodding along admiringly when I showed her the wisteria that climbs up our back wall, the pretty garden furniture that sits around the chimera on the large flagged patio. I thought we’d be friends as well as neighbours. I pictured her looking at me and Jack wistfully, envying us even – popping round for dinner, exclaiming at the shine of the kitchen, running a hand over the beautiful silver candlesticks when she thought I wasn’t looking. We’d laugh together about the goings-on at the school, the lascivious husbands in the town, the children. She’d join our book club, maybe even the PTA. We’d swap recipes, babysitter numbers; shoes, at a push. But we didn’t do any of those things. She took the wine from me, naturally, but her expression was closed, cold even. My first thought was that she was very beautiful; the ice queen next door.

‘My husband’s inside,’ she’d said, ‘we’re just about to have dinner, so… Perhaps I can pop round another time?’

Behind her, I caught a glimpse of her daughter, Clare – she looked about the same age as my eldest son, Harry. I saw the flash of blonde hair, the long legs as she stood still on the stairs, watching her mother. She never did pop round, of course. For weeks afterwards I felt hurt by it, and then I felt irritated. Did she think she was too good for us? The other women told me not to worry, that we didn’t need her in our little mothers’ group anyway. ‘You can’t force it,’ my friend Sandra said. Over time, I let it go. Well, sort of. When Mark died, I went round to see Rachel, tried again. I thought she must be terribly lonely, rattling around in that big house, just her and Clare. But even then, there remained a distance between us, a bridge I couldn’t quite cross. Something odd in her smile. And then, of course, she met Ian. Husband number two. After that, I stopped trying altogether.

I see Clare every now and then, grown even prettier in the last few years. Jack thinks I don’t notice the way his eyes follow her as she walks by, but I do. I notice everything.

I hear footsteps on the gravel, and recoil from the window as a figure appears, striding purposely towards our front door. I open it before they can knock, thinking of my younger children, Finn and Sophie, tucked away upstairs, dreaming, oblivious.

Rachel is standing on our doorstep, but she doesn’t look like Rachel. Her eyes are wide, her hair all over her face, whipped by the wind.

‘Jane,’ she says, ‘I’m sorry to bother you, I just—’ She’s peering around me, her eyes darting into our porch, where our coats are hanging neatly on the ornate black pegs. My Barbour, Jack’s winter coat, Harry’s scruffy hoodie that I wish he’d get rid of. Finn and Sophie’s little duffels, red and blue with wooden toggles up the front. Our perfect little family. The thought makes me smile. It’s so far from the truth.

‘Have you seen Clare? Is she here?’

I stare at her, taken aback. Clare is sixteen, a pupil at Ashdon Secondary. The year below Harry, Year Eleven. I see her in the mornings, leaving for school, wearing one of those silky black rucksacks with impractically thin straps. She can’t possibly get all her books in there. Like I said, we don’t mix with the Edwards much. I don’t know Clare well at all.

‘Jane?’ Rachel’s voice is desperate, panicked.

‘No!’ I say, ‘no, Rachel, I’m sorry, I haven’t. Why would she be here?’

She lets out a moan, almost animalistic. There are tears forming in her eyes, threatening to spill down her cheeks. For a moment, I almost feel a flicker of satisfaction at seeing the icy mask melt, then squash the thought down immediately. Just because she’s never been neighbourly doesn’t mean I have to be the same.

‘She’s not with Harry or something?’

I stare at her. My son is out, a post-match pizza night with the boys from his football team. He took Sophie and Finn to school today for me; the night out is his reward. If I’m honest, I’ve always thought he might have a bit of a crush on Clare, like father like son, but as far as I know she’s never given him the time of day. Not that he’d tell me if she had, I suppose. His main communication these days is through grunts.

‘No,’ I say, ‘no, she isn’t with Harry.’

Her breath comes fast, panting, panicked. ‘Do you want to come inside?’ I ask quickly. ‘I can get you a drink, you can tell me what’s happened.’

She shakes her head, and I feel momentarily put out. Most people in Ashdon would kill to see inside our house: the expensive furnishings, the artwork, the effortless sense of style that money makes so easy. Well, it’s not totally effortless, of course. Not without its sacrifices.

‘We can’t find her,’ she says, ‘she didn’t come home from school. Oh God, Jane, she’s disappeared. She’s gone.’

I stare at her, trying to comprehend what she’s saying. ‘What? I’m sure she’s just with a friend,’ I say, putting a hand on her arm as she stands at the door, feeling her shake beneath my fingers.

‘No,’ she says, ‘no. I’ve called them all. Ian’s been up and down the high street, looking for her. She’s normally home by four thirty, school gets out just after four. We can’t get hold of her on the mobile, we’ve tried and tried and it goes to voicemail. It’s almost eight o’clock.’ She’s clenching and unclenching her fists, blinking too much, trying to control the panic. I don’t know what to do.

‘Shall I come round?’ I ask. ‘The kids are asleep anyway, Harry’s not here, and Jack’s upstairs.’ If she thinks it odd that my husband hasn’t come down, she doesn’t say anything.

‘Rachel!’ There’s a shout – Ian, the aforementioned hubby number two. He appears in my doorway, a large, oversized iPhone in his hand. His face is red, he looks a bit out of breath. He’s a big man, ex-army, or so people say. Works in the City, takes the train to Liverpool Street most mornings. I know because I see him through the window. He runs his own business, engineering, something like that. Always a jovial tie. I’ve heard him shouting at Clare in the evenings; I can never make out what he’s saying. I suppose it must be hard, being second best. I know I wouldn’t like it.

‘The police are on their way,’ he says, and at this Rachel breaks down, her body curling into his, his arms reaching out to stroke her back.

‘If there’s anything I can do,’ I say, and he nods at me gratefully over his wife’s head. I can see the fear in his own eyes, and feel momentarily surprised. It takes a lot to unsettle a military man. Unless he knows more than he’s letting on. He never did get on well with Clare.