Wednesday 17 July 2024

Review - A Girl's Guide to Winning the War by Annie Lyons

A Girl's Guide to Winning the War 
Publisher: Bookouture
Release date: 25 July 2024
Back cover blurb: Can two young women and one book change the course of war? 1940. Whip-smart librarian Peggy Sparks is determined to make sure that her brother Joe returns from the frontline to their London home, which they share with their beloved mother and grandmother. So when she is offered a once-in-a-lifetime job at the heart of the war effort, Peggy jumps at the prospect of making a real contribution to her country. But when she finds herself working under the fanciful socialite Lady Marigold Cecily, Peggy discovers that those around her are more keen on dancing at the CafĂ© de Paris than on ending the war. Writing accounts of her daily life is the only thing keeping Peggy's hopes alive. But when she finds her inner-most thoughts accidentally published by the Ministry of Information, Peggy realises she needs Marigold's help to save her job, and to bring her brother home . . .

Peggy Sparks and Marigold Cecily could not be more different. Thrown together by the war to work at the Ministry of Information, in the publishing department, their backgrounds and personalities are worlds apart. 

Peggy is smart, down to earth and determined to do her bit to bring the war to an end and ensure her Brother Joe returns home in one piece.

Marigold is a Lady, persistently late to work, always has somewhere more important to be, and seems more interested in dancing at Cafe de Paris than doing her bit for the War. 

But she has a keen eye for photography, and after a bit of a shaky start Peggy realises that there is much more to Marigold than meets the eye.

Peggy is kind hearted, but has a determined streak, no doubt inherited from her Grandmother whose sharp tongue and quick wit provides some genuine laugh out loud moments in this novel.

At first, we feel a little detached from the War as reader, which I assume is deliberate as this is how the characters themselves must have felt at times.  

Then the Blitz bombings start, and the novel takes a different direction, as do some of its characters, and we are right there in the heart of it all...

This is a wonderful historical fiction novel, and I look forward to this author's next.

A Girl's Guide to Winning the War is available from 25 July. You can pre-order it now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday 15 July 2024

Review - The Villa by Jess Ryder

The Villa by Jess Ryder
Publisher: Penguin [Random House UK]
Release date: 18 July 2024
Back cover blurb: Three years ago, bride-to-be Aoife died at her own hen party. Now the hens have returned to the villa where that terrible weekend unfolded. They long for closure. But the moment they step back inside, old wounds open and tensions begin to rise. Everyone has a different version of what happened that night. Someone is keeping secrets. How far will they go to keep them hidden?

Dani's best friend Aoife is getting married, and they are off for an unforgettable weekend in Marbella. 

It isn't cheap, but the girls are determined to give her the best send off.

Aoife, the hen has been friends with Tiff and Beth since School, Dani since University and Celine more recently via work.

She will shortly be marrying the man of her dreams, Nathan. The hen is her last chance to let her hair down before she settles into married life and she is determined to make the most of it.

But untold tragedy unfolds when Aoife is tragically killed. 

Her killer isn't caught, and the hens return home devastated, without the bride.

Three years on and Dani is determined to mark the anniversary of Aoife's passing with a small memorial ceremony, and by finding out the truth about what happened.

She leads the others back to Marbs by persuading them that it will be good to celebrate and remember Aoife's life together, misleading them about her true reason for returning.

Seeking the truth...

Because Dani is sure that there is more to that night than she can remember, but she just doesn't realise just how much danger she has put herself and the others in by trying to discover the truth.

The Villa is available from 18 July. You can pre-order it now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday 10 July 2024

Review - Message Deleted by K.L. Slater

Message Deleted by K.L. Slater
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Release date: 18 July 2024
Back cover blurb: Saffy is waiting to go into a job interview when she receives a text message from her best friend, Leona: Can’t speak . . . don’t text or call . . . please just come. As Saffy struggles to understand what is happening the phone screen changes: This message was deleted. Saffy races to Leona’s house, but when her friend answers the door, she insists everything's fine. She doesn't know anything about the message. Saffy can tell something’s not right, but after looking around the house, she can’t think of anything else she can do. Six hours later, Saffy gets a knock on the door. It's the police. Leona is missing, with her young child. There's blood everywhere. And Saffy was the last one to see them alive . . .

Saffron Morris (Saffy to her friends) is about to go into an important interview when she gets three WhatsApp messages in quick succession from her best friend Leona.

Can’t speak…

Don’t text or call…

Please just come …

But just as quickly as they arrived, the messages are deleted.

Saffy is torn, does she go into the interview? Or should she go straight to Leona and check on her welfare?

Despite her need for the job, she does what any friend would do, calls a cab and goes straight to Leona’s. When she gets there, her friend insists everything is fine. Saffy can’t help but feel something is a little off, though she can’t put her finger on exactly what. 

Hours later she’s at home with her young son Fox and her sister Poppy when there’s a knock at the door. 

It’s the Police..

And they want to speak with Saffy as she was the last person to see Leona. Who is now apparently missing with her husband Ash and young daughter Rosie. 

Saffy is now a 'person of interest' in their investigation. She knows she has done nothing wrong, so why does she feel like they don't believe a single word she says? And where on earth are Leona and her family?

I've not read a K.L. Slater novel in a little while, and I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed this author. This is very clever, with lots of twists to keep you guessing.

Message Deleted is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday 7 July 2024

Review - First Wife's Shadow by Adele Parks

First Wife's Shadow by Adele Parks
Publisher: HQ
Release date: 4 July 2024
Back cover blurb: When Emma meets Matthew, a kind, handsome widower, he seems to be just what she needs. Yet as their relationship moves fast, Emma’s friends worry Emma might be exploited. She’s a rich woman after all. Emma doesn’t care Matthew has no money. But as the memory of his perfect first wife hangs over them, Emma does have one tiny doubt. If Matthew’s wife hadn’t died, he wouldn’t be with her. And Emma wonders if she’s second best. Can she ever fill the dead woman’s shoes? As jealousy and suspicion blossom between Emma and Matthew, events take a darker, dangerous turn. Suddenly Emma doesn’t know who she can trust. Her friends? Her husband? Or even herself…?

Emma Westly is the very definition of a career woman. Her life revolves around her job as the CEO of a company and brand that she is passionate about. She works hard, and is handsomely rewarded for it.

Matthew Charlton, a handsome widower, whose first wife Becky died just months ago in a tragic accident, meets Emma at a conference. He is everything that she didn’t know she was looking for. She had all but given up on relationships, and made her peace with that. 

But now her world has been turned upside down. Is the best way…

Neither of them were looking for love, both just sort of stumble in to it blindly.

Heidi and Gina are Emma’s best friends. They of course, want her to be happy. But Matthew is a lot younger than Emma, and clearly not of the same social status. Neither of them are snobs, but they do worry that he could be after her money. 

Particularly as everything between them seems to be moving so quickly.

Emma who has been oblivious to the joys of love, only of rewarding hard work, understands her friends are looking out for her, but also thinks they are being maybe just a tiny bit mean spirited. Can’t they just be happy for her?

Or are they right to be cautious?

When some strange and disturbing things begin happening around the house, Emma is convinced she is being haunted by Becky’s ghost. Heidi and Gina think Matthew is behind it. But the truth is something that none of them are prepared for.

I can’t say too much more, as I don’t want to spoil this for anyone. I read a lot of novels in this genre, but there a few genuine ‘what the *insert appropriate word*’ just happened?’ moments for me that sets this novel apart.

I’ve been a fan of Adele’s since her very first novel, but I truly think she has surpassed herself this time. 

This is my book of the year so far, and it might just be my new favourite by this author.

First Wife's Shadow is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Saturday 6 July 2024

Review - Sharp Glass by Sarah Hilary

Sharp Glass by Sarah Hilary
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Release date: 11 July 2024
Back cover blurb: The last thing she remembers is standing outside the empty house. One she was employed to pack, ready for removal. Her job is her life. It is her compulsion to take care of an owner’s precious possessions, to do whatever it takes to help them move on. Now she is cold, dirty, damp, trapped in its cellar with no chance of escape, miles from anywhere. His prisoner. And then he returns. Her captor believes she holds the answers to why a young girl was murdered a year ago. He refuses to let her go until she reveals her secrets. But he doesn’t know she has hidden depths, and an anger she works hard to control. The battle lines are drawn. They are the only two people who can solve the mystery of the dead girl, but when the truth is revealed whose life will shatter…?

Sarah Hilary just gets better and better. She has always written in a thrilling style designed to lead you up a twisty garden path. Sharp Glass is no exception.

Professional packer Grace Maddox accepts a job that she knows very little about, primarily because she needs the money. 

As she approaches the large in the middle of nowhere, in the dead of night, she wonders if she has made a mistake.

When she wakes in the cellar after suffering a head injury at the hands of a complete stranger, she knows that she has. 

What does he want? 

Is he going to kill her? 

Apparently not. He says he wants answers, but Grace doesn't know what he wants from her.

Or does she?

Daniel Roake, respectable Ophthalmologist is the midst of a nervous breakdown. 

He can't even remember why he is holding Grace hostage, but he knows he must let her go. Days after he first captured her, he tries to do just that. But the tables are turned when Grace retaliates and wants to know everything he knows.

She is sure that he knows something about the murder of a young girl whose bedroom she had to pack for a grieving family. But she doesn't know exactly what. And she is determined to find out. 

No matter what the cost...

Sharp Glass is available to pre-order now via Amazon and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday 5 July 2024

The Night She Dies by Sarah Clarke

The Night She Dies by Sarah Clarke
Publisher: HQ Digital
Release date: 4 July 2024
Back cover blurb: A cruel bully. A troubled daughter. A desperate mother. A body in the woods. But who is the hunter and who is the prey? When a shocking crime takes place in a close-knit community, it exposes secrets and conflicts and threatens to tear families apart. How far will one parent go to protect the child they love?

Lucy Rose, is a quiet teenager who's life is being ruined by two bullies, Amber and her older sister Jess.

They are a troubled pair, living with a new foster family after a tragic early start in life.

When Rachel, Lucy's Mother comes across the body of a teenager whilst out running, her first instinctive reaction is relief, when she realises it is Amber.

She can no longer bully her sweet daughter who has never done anything to hurt anyone.

This relief quickly turns to panic as she realises her daughter was missing for a large portion of the previous night. 

How will this look to the Police?

Rachel decides that she must protect her daughter at all costs, and begins to use her own role as a social worker to do some digging in to the girls background and try and make something or someone else accountable.

What she discovers is beyond what she ever could have imagined, but it also brings in to question some things she thought she knew about those around her.

Could there be more to this murder than meets the eye? 

And just who can Rachel trust?

The Night She Dies is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.