Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

Dec 3, 2015

Australia Days Book Review: Heir to Greyladies

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Review by Suze

Harriet's father dies at the worst possible moment. Unfortunately that leaves her in the care of her greedy stepmother. Her stepbrother is evil and he has awful plans for and with Harriet. Instead of continuing her education Harriet has to go into service which means she can escape him as long as she's employed. She finds a job at the big Danton House. The owners have a crippled son, Joseph. Soon Joseph and Harriet are becoming friends. When Harriet's situation is about to change again Joseph is there to accompany her. but will she ever be able to feel safe from her evil stepmother and stepbrother?

Heir to Greyladies is a wonderful story about a very sweet girl who hasn't had much luck in life. That might change because of Greyladies. Harriet is such an amazing main character, she's kind, loving and helpful and she doesn't deserve to be treated appallingly. Joseph is equally lovable, but his family doesn't see it. I constantly felt for him as he has so much to offer. It was such a joy to read about their friendship. They've been brought to life so well that I had the idea I could see and hear them which made me love this novel even more.

Anna Jacobs knows how to write a story. I enjoyed reading this book very, very much. I'm glad there are more Geyladies books. I highly recommend this heartwarming and romantic novel. It ends with a great cliffhanger which, given how good the rest of the story already is, is the cherry on the cake. I can't praise this book enough, I liked it a lot. 

Dec 2, 2015

Happy Harper Christmas Book Review: A Stocking Full of Romance by Brigid Coady

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Review by Suze

A Stocking Full of Romance is a wonderful collection of festive short stories. They're all sweet and romantic. For example, there's a story about reconnecting with lost love, one about a special Secret Santa and one about a singer who meets three interesting old men. There are seven stories in total and they aren't very long. They're perfect to read when you're in a waiting room or if you want to read something quick and sweet.

Brigid Coady managed to draw me into each story straight away. I love Christmas stories and this is such a joyous collection. I enjoyed reading all of them very much. My favorite was the Secret Santa story, which is both sexy and original. All of the stories have their own character and the topics are different each time, which gives the reader a versatile collection. These stories are a wonderful Christmas treat and they have the exact right Christmas spirit.  


Nov 30, 2015

Australia Days Book Review & Giveaway: Outback Promise by Maggie Bolitho

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Review by Suze

Ros and Grady lost their young son Cadel. They've been mourning for six years and life is tough without him. A hit-and-run driver took Cadel's life and Ros and Grady have been heartbroken ever since. Now their marriage is under pressure. Grady has done something that hurt Ros very much and she doesn't know if she can forgive him. When he suggests a three-month camping trip she agrees. Ros wants to see if wounds can be healed. 

Ros and Grady are traveling through the Outback together while they're used to life in the city. On their journey they meet new people, they make friends and enemies and they find themselves in fantastic and horrible situations. Will this bring them closer together or drive them further apart and are Ros and Grady ready to face their problems?

Outback Promise is a beautiful and moving story about two people who have lost the most precious person in their lives. They're lost after the accident. Maggie Bolitho describes their situation with such sensitivity that I had to cry while reading some of the scenes. My hearth ached for Ros and Grady. She deals with this topic in such a gentle and understanding way while the story is raw and honest at the same time. I liked the contrast and think it worked very well. Even though the main characters have been through a lot the story is never too heavy. There's also hope and plenty of beauty.

The camping trip through mostly wilderness and remote areas was very thoroughly described. I could picture the stunning surroundings and the people Ros and Grady meet on their journey so well. I could almost taste the food and feel the joy, anger and fear. For me that was the best part of the book. Maggie Bolitho knows how to make her stories come to life. I think Outback Promise is amazing. It's a unique story with a difficult topic which is captivating, gripping, emotional, honest and absolutely brilliant.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of my blog will receive a kindle copy of Outback Promise. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Nov 28, 2015

Australia Days Book Review: Beyond Innocence by Joanna Lloyd

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Review by Suze

It's 1819 and Electra, an English lady, used to live her life in luxury, but something unfortunate happens to her and her life changes drastically. All of a sudden she's a prisoner and is being shipped away. She's on her way to New South Wales where she's supposed to remain for the duration of her seven-year sentence. Things are looking bad, but then she meets William. He's escaped his father and ex-fiancee and has come to Australia to make a new life for himself. The beautiful fierce and fiery redhead Electra intrigues him and he decides to offer her a marriage of convenience. 

Electra finds herself back in society, but she isn't the same person she used to be. She has to find her way in a new country and is now a convict. She does like William, but can they ever love one another? She's determined to make something of her life and she's a strong woman, but she also has her limits. She will be tested again and again. Will she be able to survive?

Beyond Innocence is a beautiful story about a woman who hasn't had much luck in life. Electra might have lived in luxury for a while, but her life has never been very happy. I immediately liked her, because she's so courageous, full of energy and honest. William is a kind man, but he's extra careful as he's been hurt very much in the past. They're both stubborn which sometimes made me want to scream at them. I love it when I feel like that when I'm reading something as that means I care a lot about what happens in the story.

I didn't want Beyond Innocence to end. I could have happily kept reading. I really liked this book. It was great to read about what life was like on a big farm in Australia almost 200 years ago, to learn more about what people had to go through back then and to find out how society worked in that era. Joanna Lloyd writes vividly. I could easily picture William's beautiful farm and his wonderful friends. I love Joanna Lloyd's writing, she has a good pace that made me want to keep reading. If you like a good historical countryside romance you will definitely love this book.

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Nov 27, 2015

Australia Days Book Review: McKellan's Run by Nicole Hurley-Moore

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Review by Suze

Violet Beckett and the McKellan brothers have a history. Violet used to be the girlfriend of one of the McKellan brothers and their relationship didn't end well. She and her sister left Violet Falls in a hurry back then, but now Violet is back in town again together with her daughter Holly. She's inherited a house and she plans on making it a great home for Holly. She's a successful event organizer from the city and fortunately there's plenty of work for her in the town as well.

 Mac McKellan used to be Violet's best friend. He wanted them to be more, but his older brother was the lucky one who was Violet's boyfriend. He's happy she's back and glad he has the chance to get to know her again. He liked her back then and he likes her now, but he isn't sure he has a chance with Violet. Especially not after what his brother did to her...

Mac owns McKellan's Run and he's good at what he does, he's dedicated to the farm that has been in his family for generations and wants to make it the best it can be. He knows his heart and lives with passion. I liked that a lot, it makes him a great main character. I also loved reading about Violet. She never gives up, she's unbelievably strong and she takes good care of the people she loves. They are the ideal main characters and they made me enjoy this story very much. 

McKellan's run is an ideal setting for a romantic story. I loved the small town and the family histories. Violet Falls is a wonderful place to read about. I loved the atmosphere and read most of this story with a smile on my face. I read it in one sitting, because I didn't want to put it down before I knew if Violet and Mac would get there happy ending. If you're looking for a great romantic story that will lift your spirits McKellan's Run is definitely the right book for you.

Nov 25, 2015

Book Review: Butterfly Dreams by A. Meredith Walters

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Review by Suze

Corin has lost both of her parents while she was still a teenager. Now that she's an adult she's still struggling with the consequences of that terrible loss. She's afraid of death and thinks something bad will happen to her. When she meets Beckett, a man who has a heart disease, who is trying to be positive and keep on living his life to the fullest, something changes. Both Beckett and Corin have to deal with their mortality in a completely different way and they find comfort with each other. They don't know what the future will have in store for them, but they're trying to make the most of the present...

Butterfly Dreams is a beautiful story about a difficult topic, mortality. A. Meredith Walters has described this in such a tender and compassionate way, I loved that. Corin and Beckett's direct communication and jokes are the perfect counterpart which makes the story balanced and complete. Corin's issues are mainly psychological and Beckett's are physical. They support one another and complement each other. They are both admirable people. I liked them immediately and was touched by their story.

I read this book with a smile on my face, but also with tears in my eyes. Butterfly Dreams is a story that makes the reader feel and think a lot. I like how important questions about life and living are being raised and how both of the main characters are trying to find their own answers to them. Corin and Beckett are beautiful people. This book can certainly be judged by its cover, it's as amazing on the inside as it is on the outside. Butterfly Dreams is moving, hopeful, realistic and very, very special. 

Nov 24, 2015

Book Review: Hold Me Close by Megan Hart

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Review by Suze

Effie and Heath were locked inside the same room for years. Both of them were abducted by the same man. They've been through many horrible moments together and formed a strong bond. Years later they are still seeing each other, but their relationship is difficult. They are causing each other pain. There's also a lot of passion and love, but destruction is a big part of their connection as well. Effie wants something different for herself though. She's determined to find someone normal and she tries to find this man via a dating site.

Effie has a daughter, Polly, who's everything to her. She a single mother who's doing pretty well as she seems to have everything under control. She has a nice house and makes a decent living as an artist. Beneath the surface things are different though. Heath is a big part of that. He loves Effie unconditionally and forever, but he can't seem to make it work. Effie has to come to terms with what happened to them and she's the only one who can do this. Does that mean she has to sacrifice what she holds so dear?

Hold Me Close is an intense novel about two people who have been through something terrible. Effie and Heath aren't gentle and kind when they are with each other. Their present will always be linked with their past. A lot has happened since then, but many years later Essie still hasn't been able to make the decision to keep him close. There's an element of danger and roughness and Essie craves it, but she can't give into her feelings for Heath entirely. This pushing and pulling keeps changing the balance of the story. I found it both interesting and fascinating to read about. 

Hold Me Close has some really hot scenes. It isn't a story that stays on the surface, it's deep with a lot of conflicting emotions and plenty of feelings. Megan Hart has managed to maintain order in the chaos this can bring. She's totally in control and therefore the story is really, really strong. It's gripping from the first page and I couldn't put it down. This is a book that will keep the reader in its power from beginning to end. If you're looking for a meaningful, profound, moving and sexy story I highly recommend this book, it's absolutely incredible.

Book Review: The Winter Wedding by Abby Clements

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Review by Suze

Hazel has a creative job at a TV production company and is being promised a promotion. She needs the money, because her sister Lila has just moved out of their apartment and she can't afford to stay there on her own. Hazel and Lila are twins, they have always been close, but their personalities are very different. Lila is a ballet dancer who's still waiting for her big break. She has found the love of her life and she and Ollie want to get married as soon as possible. When their wedding planner cancels Lila asks Hazel if she wants to plan her wedding. Hazel loves doing something this meaningful for her sister and she does it well, so well that she's being asked to plan another wedding. And another one... She's great at looking after other couples, but what about Hazel's own love life?

The Winter Wedding is such a wonderful story. It's perfect to read on a cold winter evening. This book has everything I love; sisters, cake, creative main characters, romance, weddings and friendship. I started reading as soon as it landed in my mailbox and I read it in one sitting. The story enchanted me and I couldn't put it away. I love the way Abby Clements writes her novels, they're sweet and vivid with main characters the readers will love immediately.There's always a lot going on and the stories are fast-paced, but they also have a dreamy quality which makes them soft and smooth at the same time. 

Abby Clements writes books I really love. I've read all of her books and highly recommend each of them. The Winter Wedding is another great one. I enjoyed reading this story very much. I especially loved how Abby Clements manages to make Hazel's creations come to life and how Lila is almost dancing off the pages. It was like I could see them and it's clear there's a lot of vision behind those scenes, that's why I enjoyed that aspect of the story the most. I'm definitely going to read this book again, it's already one of my all-time winter favorites. 

Nov 23, 2015

Book Review: French Kissing by Lynne Shelby

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Review by Suze

Anna and Alexandre have been penfriends ever since they were teenagers. They met once when they were thirteen and kept in touch ever since. Fifteen years later Alex is coming to London to work there for a couple of months. He's from France, but he has an English mother. He's a photographer and needs a change of scenery because of a bad breakup. When Anna sees him again she's amazed as the geeky teenager Alex has grown into a very handsome man.

Anna and Alex are very close, but they're just friends as Anna has a boyfriend. She an Nick have been together for a while now and while everyone else around her is idolizing Alex Anna sees him as just a friend. A good looking one, but still the friendly guy she exchanged letters with for years...

French Kissing is a sweet and fun story about two people who mainly know each other through numerous letters. I love books about letters and really liked the idea behind this one. I enjoyed the story which is lovely and flirty. Lynne Shelby knows how to build tension and how to keep it. French Kissing is a light and entertaining read, the perfect cheer-up-reading-material. 

Alex is a lovely guy both on the outside and the inside. I liked how women were all battling for his attention. The type of man he is suits the story very well. His English is perfect, but he's still noticeably French, which is a clever achievement of Lynn Shelby. Anna is kind, loyal and generous. Having Alex in her life makes her think about what she wants and where she's going. That was something I really enjoyed reading about. There was one minor detail that could have been better and that was that the editing should have been a bit tighter here and there. The book is absolutely wonderful, so it didn't really bother me, but I did notice. I had a smile on my face after reading this book and loved the ending. I highly recommend this story. Especially if you're a fan of penpalling or used to have a high school pen friend, like me. 

Nov 22, 2015

Book Review: Crow Mountain by Lucy Inglis

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Review by Suze

The English Hope and her mother are staying on a ranch in Montana. They're guests of the family who's running it and Hope's mother has work to do in the area. The ranch has been in the Crow family for several generations. Cal is the youngest family member and he's showing Hope around. In the 19th century an English girl named Emily also traveled to Montana. She's there to marry an American man, but meets someone special to her on the way. His name is Nate. Hope finds Emily's diary and reads it together with Cal. There are plenty of similarities between the lives of the two girls even though they lived in completely different times...

Crow Mountain consists of two stories, one set in the past and the other in the present. I found them both equally fantastic. I loved reading about Emily's life and her adventure. It was great to learn some more about Montana's history. I also really liked reading about Hope and Cal. They have quite a lot of issues to deal with and they're both strong people. I would really like to visit the ranch. Lucy Inglis describes it so vividly that I wanted to go there immediately and the idea of traveling to Montana at some point is still in my head. I fell in love with the landscape just by reading about it in this book. Lucy Inglis chosen such an impressive area for her story, I really enjoyed finding out more about it.

 Life isn't without sorrows and Lucy Inglis describes them in a beautiful way. I loved how she takes the time to get into the heads of her main characters. It makes the story both extra believable and very good. What surprised me the most was the ending of both stories. I found them equally strong and I shed a few tears. I love it when I'm feeling so much while reading a story. Everything is exactly right and as it should be, I especially enjoyed the amazing setting, the excellent writing, the thorough research and the romance of both stories. I highly recommend Crow Mountain, it's a brilliant read.

Nov 20, 2015

Book Review: Another Man's Child by Anne Bennett

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Review by Suze

Celia is used to a secluded life on an Irish farm. Her parents are strict and she doesn't go out much. When she meets farmhand Andy who's working on the farm next door she instantly likes him. Only Celia's father doesn't approve of him, because he is the second son of a farmer and therefore not the one who will inherit his father's farm. Celia's father goes quite far in preventing his daughter from seeing Andy. She's unhappy at home and because they don't see any other way to be together Celia and Andy elope. 

On the boat to England Celia meets lady Annabel, who's younger than she is and who has a problem. She's on her way to see her brother and asks Celia to be her ladies maid. That means Celia already has a job before she even sets foot in England, but it doesn't mean the months that will follow are going to be easy and carefree. There's trouble ahead for Celia and Andy and there are several tough choices they need to make...

Another Man's Child is a great story about a strong girl with a good heart. I love the way Anne Bennett tells her stories. They're always so complete and I admire her skill. I really like the twists and turns she comes up with. This story managed to surprise me plenty of times. I enjoyed reading about Celia's life, both on the farm in Ireland and in England. Celia and Andy are young when they're leaving Ireland and they have to grow up quickly. I loved the way Anne Bennett describes both of their paths and the obstacles they come across. I was completely engrossed in their story and couldn't put it down.

The main characters all have distinctive personalities. Because of how well Anne Bennett makes them come to life, I felt like I really got to know them. That also made me feel for them. The story is set in the twenties and it's just after the war which was a chaotic and difficult time for many people. I think the historical background was well researched and used in a really good way. It was like I was seeing a movie because of all the vivid descriptions. Anne Bennett is a writer who has a lot of experience and it shows. She also keeps finding new and original angles. I like that combination a lot. I think Another Man's Child is a fantastic book and I had such a wonderful time reading it. 

Book Review: Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam

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Review by Suze

Homer is a miner who’s married to Elsie. She doesn’t like his profession and wants a more exciting life. She used to have all that with a man called Buddy. He’s the one who sent them an alligator as a wedding present. The alligator’s name is Albert and Elsie’s very fond of him, but Albert can’t stay with them. He needs to be taken back to Orlando as that will be a more suitable place for him to live. Carrying Albert home means going on a road trip. Homer and Elsie are travelling through America by car and they meet all sorts of interesting and unique people.

Homer, Elsie, Albert and the rooster often find themselves in dire situations and they don't always come out unscathed either. The dynamics between Homer and Elsie are constantly shifting as well. It was interesting to watch them interact together. Albert is an alligator who's also attached to people, the right kind mainly. I could totally picture him in his bathtub. I enjoyed reading this book so much because of the originality of the story, it's certainly special and everything about the idea works.

Homer and Elsie make an unusual couple. Homer is happy with his existence, but Elsie is not. They’re both resourceful which is something they need as they find themselves in all kinds of situations on the road. It was so much fun to read about their meetings with famous and not so famous people, the jobs they kept finding by accident and the chaotic messes they had to find a way out of. Of course they always had to take care of Albert and his companion, a rooster. I loved the irony of it all and read this whole book with a smile on my face. For me this is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I enjoyed this adventurous story so much that I didn’t want it to end at all. I could have kept on reading and will definitely read it again.

Nov 19, 2015

Book Review & Giveaway: The Christmas We Met by Kate Lord Brown

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Review by Suze

Grace has lost everything. Her husband disappeared one day and he left her with a trail of debt. She and her daughter still have each other though and Grace is determined to make sure they will have a happier future. When she goes to the Wittering Manor to talk to Fraser, the owner, she meets his godson Jack on the way there. She feels straight at home with them and takes the assistant job that's being offered to her. Fraser is writing his memoir and he need someone to help him. There's a cottage for Grace to live in, so the situation seems ideal. 

Grace has a past though and she keeps receiving reminders. She used to make beautiful jewelry and she has to find a way to get back into business again. She never feels completely at ease, because someone's scaring her. There's also a family secret she struggles with. Will Grace really be able to find happiness again or will her past keep interfering with her life?

The Christmas We Met is a beautiful story about a strong woman who's lost so much, but will never give up. Grace has such a great personality. I loved the way Kate Lord Brown describes her main character. The story is set in the seventies and it was fun reading about the clothes and the jewelry. I liked that Grace is creative. Fraser is an eccentric man and his warm personality stands out. Jack is a good guy, he's handsome and friendly. Because of these great personalities the story is friendly and reading about them was heartwarming for me.

There's a mystery aspect as Grace's husband is missing and she can't get any closure because of the fact that she doesn't know what happened to him. Grace keeps receiving creepy reminders of her past. I couldn't wait to find out more about this situation. I kept hoping she'd have a chance at a better and brighter future. Working for Fraser is never dull and I loved reading about Grace's job and their conversations. I also enjoyed reading about the estate and daily life there. The Christmas We Met is a wonderful and romantic story about friendship and unconditional love that definitely warmed my heart.

Giveaway

Three lucky readers of my blog will receive a paperback copy of The Christmas We Met. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Nov 18, 2015

Book Review: A Miracle at Macy's by Lynn Marie Hulsman

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Review by Suze

Charlotte doesn't like leaving her home and she prefers being on her own, together with her dog Hudson. She has a food blog and tests recipes. She mainly works from home and she doesn't go out much. Christmas is going to be a quiet affair. Hudson doesn't agree with that though. When he's at a photo shoot by chance and someone has taken off his collar he runs away. Charlotte is heartbroken as Hudson is her best friend. 

Charlotte's aunt Miranda is a famous event planner and she can spare one of her staff to help Charlotte look for Hudson. Together with Henry she starts a search. She finds a lot more than she's counted on, but Hudson keeps being one step ahead of them. Will she and her dog be reunited before Christmas?

A Miracle at Macy's is a fantastic book. I couldn't put it down and had so much fun reading it. Hudson is such a cute dog and I loved reading about his adventures. The story is fast-paced and it's a spectacle. I had such a big smile on my face when I was reading this book. Lynn Marie Hulsman has written a brilliant Christmas story. I loved everything about it, both the romance and the fact that some of the fabulously chaotic scenes made me laugh out loud several times. I liked the story so much that I didn't want it to end. 

Charlotte's transformation is another really good part about this book. It was wonderful to see her grow. She's capable of so many great things and I enjoyed seeing her realize it more and more. This book definitely has the right Christmas spirit. New York's Christmas atmosphere is perfect for a book like this. I loved reading about all the festive locations. The food talk is delicious, I could picture the meals really well. I wanted to try all the fantastic dishes Lynn Marie Hulsman describes. If you're looking for an entertaining Christmas book with a sweet ending that will get you in the right Christmas mood, get his one. It's a winner!

Nov 17, 2015

Book Review: How I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst

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Review by Suze

Emma Cartwright used to be Susan Webster. She's been released from a psychiatric institute where she spent time because she murdered her twelve-week-old son three years before. Now she has to start over. She lost everything because of what happened and she can't even remember what made her do it. 

When Susan receives a photo of a three-year-old boy with the message that her son is still alive she doesn't know what's real and what isn't any longer. Fortunately she has her best friend Cassie and journalist Nick to stand by her. They start researching her case together to find out if there's a chance that her son isn't dead or if someone is pulling a sick prank...

How I Lost You is a fantastic gripping story about a woman who's lost everything and everyone that ever mattered to her. She's trying to find out why these things happened and it isn't easy to find answers. Bit by bit the truth reveals itself and it's shocking, more shocking than she could have ever imagined. I was hooked from the first sentence and couldn't put this book down until I finished it. I loved the suspense and the puzzle pieces and had to find out what actually happened to Susan and her baby boy.

Jenny Blackhurst knows how to tell a story. She managed to get my attention and didn't let it go anymore. I hardly took any breaks while I was reading, because I wanted to keep going. That's how a good thriller should be in my opinion. I loved that the ending surprised me and it was fitting as well. There were answers and they were unexpected which is always a big plus. If you're looking for a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat I highly recommend How I Lost You.

Interview, Book Review & Giveaway: With A Friend Like You by Fanny Blake



Interview

1. Could you introduce yourself to my readers?

I’m Fanny Blake, novelist and books editor of Woman & Home magazine. I worked in publishing, acquiring and editing fiction and general non-fiction, for many years before becoming a journalist. To begin with I wrote book-related pieces and reviews then added interiors and travel. As a result, I was asked to write various books that tied in with TV shows such as Grand Designs, A Place in the Sun, House Doctor and more. From those I moved on to ghost a number of celebrity memoirs. Eventually I felt it was time to try and write something for myself. I was dying to write a novel, so wrote What Woman Want. Here I am, five books later …

2. With a Friend Like You is a book about two women who are falling out because of a pregnancy. Why have you chosen this topic?

I wanted to write about friendship between women of a certain age. I wanted to see what would happen if two women who had been the closest of friends for years, whose families were closely intertwined as a result, fell out. If the falling out was serious enough, would they be able to find a way back and repair the friendship? Could things between them and their families ever be the same again? It’s not really the pregnancy that’s important, it’s the fact that Beth feels her friend Megan has betrayed her by not telling her what she knows. Things then begin to escalate …

3. Beth versus Megan, what are the two biggest differences and similarities in their personalities? 

Beth is both ordered and organised. She hates mess and clutter. Her daughters can be as untidy as they like in their rooms, but otherwise she likes a neat and tidy home. That’s what calms her when she comes home from a hard day’s work at her lawyer’s practice. She’s ambitious for herself and her two daughters and is finding hard to let go. Megan has a much more laidback attitude to life. What comes around goes around. She believes that you have to stop trying to control your children once they reach a certain age. Her house is untidy, full of stuff she and her husband Pete have collected over the years. She became a primary school teacher so she could be at home with her children. What the two women have in common is that they both love their husbands and their children and would go to the ends of the earth for them. They’ve married Jon and Pete, whose friendship goes back a long way, and their children have virtually grown up together. These are two women who want the best for their families but set about achieving that in rather different ways.

4. Do you like Beth and if so what do you like about her? And what about Megan?

Perhaps Beth’s quite a difficult person to like but yes, I do like her. She loves her family and has spent her life trying to give them everything she never had. I’m a bit of a workaholic myself so I also like her work ethic and I like the fact that, as a family lawyer, she has chosen a job that benefits other people. It’s ironic that although she so often sees how other people’s marriages and families break up, she can’t distance herself enough to be able to stop the same thing happening to her. Megan is a much easier character to like. She’s relaxed, less complicated, loves her family to bits, loves children and is a fine deputy head of a primary school. She’s would help anyone if she could.

5. Ella is the person who’s unintentionally causing the rift between the two families. Do you think she’s handled things the right way?

I think she’s handled it the right way for her. Most teenagers don’t think far beyond themselves, and she’s not an exception. But she knows Beth, her mother, expects a lot of her and does think through how she can make her life work in a way that should please both of them. All she has to do is convince Beth that she’s right! 

6. What was the most fun part of writing this novel?

I enjoyed writing the whole thing, but perhaps I had most fun with the scenes in Beth and Megan’s book group and at the spa when Megan takes Ella away for the weekend. And most of all I enjoyed when Beth lets rip about halfway through the book and reveals a family secret that she has vowed never to mention, and the scenes immediately after that.

7. A big theme in your story is being unreasonable, how was it to write a story like that?

Not difficult inasmuch that each of the characters believes they’re being nothing but reasonable - whatever anyone else thinks. Beth can’t understand why the others don’t share her point of view. Once I’d put myself into all their heads, I could see exactly why they behave the way they do and why, to them at least, their behaviour is completely reasonable. Most of us are like that really, aren’t we?!

8. Two families who used to be amazing friends are fighting, how would you handle a situation like this? Would you be like Beth or Megan or would you behave differently?

That’s such a difficult question to answer because it depends so much on the personalities involved and the situation. Of course, I like to imagine that I’d remain calm and be the voice of reason and sort it all out quickly. In fact, I’d probably say or do all the wrong things and make things worse before they got better. If I have to choose I hope I’d be like Megan, but I do have a lot of sympathy with Beth.

9. There’s a lot of anger and resentment, how was it to play with these emotions in your story?

Huge fun, and probably a bit cathartic (though I probably shouldn’t admit that). I don’t get many opportunities to let rip in real life, so doing it through my characters is pretty exciting.


10. There are so many secrets in this book, do you like reading about them as well? And if so, what are your 3 favourite books about family secrets?

Yes, I love reading about secrets. My three favourite books about family secrets? Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre – there can’t be a much bigger secret than a mad ex-wife in the attic! Though Emily Bronte’s Rebecca comes close. What did really happen to Rebecca, Maxim de Winter’s first wife? And lastly, on a more recent note, I loved Liane Morarty’s The Husband’s Secret. And can I have Penny Vincenzi’s erfect Heritage as well?

11. What can we expect from you in the future? 

My new novel, House of Dreams, is being published on November 5th. A brother and two sisters journey to their family home in southern Spain to celebrate their late mother’s life. Over one long, hot week weekend, past secrets spill out, telling them the truth about their mother’s early life and making them question themselves, the choices they’ve made and where their future lies. 

Book review

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Review by Suze

Beth's career has always been important to her. She aims for perfection in both her professional and her personal life. Her family seems ideal. She has a devoted husband and two beautiful and smart daughters. She also has a wonderful friendship, Megan is Beth's best friend and their families often spend time together. Unfortunately Beth's life is starting to fall apart when her teenage daughter Ella is pregnant. All of a sudden anger, chaos and resentment are starting to dominate Beth's life and her friendship with Megan is under a lot of pressure. What will happen to the two friends who were once so close?
The blurb of With A Friend Like You intrigued me. Even before I started reading this book it managed to captivate me. Friendship is an interesting theme for a novel and Fanny Blake has used it to write a brilliant story. Beth and Megan are very different. Where Megan is laid back and easygoing Beth is strict and stern. The goals she's set for herself and her daughter are important to her. I kept wishing she'd loosen up a little, but I also understood where she was coming from. I felt ambivalent towards the whole situation which was fantastic to experience. 

There's no right or wrong side in this book. It's easy for the reader to choose either Beth or Megan, but things are happening, so opinions can change. I liked this manipulation of the perspective of the reader very much. Fanny Blake has told this story in such a clever way. Things are spinning out of control, but there's nothing that can be done to stop it once the whole thing has been set into motion. It's like a train that keeps going faster and faster. I loved that feeling and enjoyed the ride very much.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of my blog will receive a paperback copy of With A Friend Like You. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Nov 16, 2015

Book Review: The Snow Sister by Emma Carroll

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Review by Suze

Pearl's parents don't have much money. The holidays aren't very joyous in her family ever since Agnes, Pearl's sister, died. It's nearly Christmas and Pearl has a tradition, making a snow sister. She misses her sister dearly and still thinks about her all the time. Making a snow sister is a way to feel a bit closer to Agnes again. When Pearl's father receives a letter about an inheritance Pearl's mother sends her to the shop to buy ingredients for a real Christmas dinner. Only there things don't go exactly according to plan for Pearl...

The Snow Sister is such a beautiful story about love, kindness and family. I read it with tears in my eyes. Pearl is a sweet girl who deserves a happy Christmas. The setting is perfect and there's snow, which gives the story the right atmosphere. I love that it's old fashioned, which suits the story really well. Pearl is a wonderful main character, she certainly has the right Christmas spirit. 

The cover of this book is stunning. The Snow Sister is a festive fairy tale with beautiful drawings. Both children and adults will love this story. Everything's exactly right and that makes this amazing story absolutely perfect. The ending is wonderful and it contains a great message that nobody should ever forget.

Nov 15, 2015

Book Review: Dear Cathy ... Love, Mary by Catherine Conlon & Mary Phelan

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Review by Suze

Cathy and Mary both start a new chapter in their lives. They're eighteen years old and just out of school. Cathy moves to France to work as an au pair and Mary stays at home to study accountancy. They're good friends and they're writing each other regularly. It's the beginning of the eighties and writing letters is the way to stay in touch. Both Cathy and Mary don't always have it easy, but their friendship remains as close as ever.

Dear Cathy ... Love, Mary gives a wonderful view of what life was like in Ireland three decades ago. Both Cathy and Mary are good writers and I loved their letters. Cathy doesn't have an easy time in France, but she's making the best of it. I admired her decision to go abroad and live with strangers while she doesn't speak the language very well, such a courageous thing to do. She puts a lot of emotion into her letters which makes it easy for the reader to feel what she feels. Mary tells her about life at home in such a vivid and humorous way that I could picture everything that happens and everyone she describes very well. I really enjoyed reading everything they had to tell each other.

Some pieces of the letters have been printed in the book. That was such a nice thing to see. I recognized some of the pretty stationery from my own childhood. I love writing letters, so couldn't wait to read this book. It's fun to read someone else's and I really enjoyed it. I highly recommend this unusual and fantastic book. It's a great trip down memory lane, one you should definitely experience.

Nov 13, 2015

Book Review: The Art of Christmas by Jane Lovering

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Review by Suze

Harriet used to love Christmas, but that was before she became a widow. Jonno died suddenly and was way too young. She feels very much alone and isn't looking forward to Christmas which she's planning to spend on her own. Still she decides to make an effort and decorate her house again. The Christmas tree and decorations are in the attic and while she's there she finds a lot of Jonno's old comic books. She isn't interested in comics and wants to sell them as soon as possible. She rings Kel, the owner of a comic book shop, who bought more of Jonno's comics in the past. Kel pays her a visit which is full of surprises...

 The Art of Christmas is a beautiful romantic story about two people who could both use some company. It's such a perfect Christmas read. Even though there's some sadness there's also a festive atmosphere and hope and laughter. Kel has the most brilliant dog whose actions are giving the story a bit of lightness. Because of this it's very well balanced. There's a lot of warmth and kindness which lifted my spirits.

I read this story with a smile on my face. I wanted Harriet and Kel to find something or someone to battle the loneliness with. I also really hoped they would find some happiness again. They're both very sweet and likable. I also loved the comic book aspect and could totally picture the amazing drawings. I think everything together makes this story truly magical. The Art of Christmas is a fantastic Christmas read, I liked it very, very much. 

Nov 12, 2015

Book Review: Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

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Review by Suze

Stella is new in Thunder Basin. She's there to live with Carmina, a retired cop. Stella's name isn't really Stella, she's in a witness protection program. She's a city girl who was forced to move to the country and now she's stuck there. The only good thing about her move is Chet, the boy next door who's welcoming and friendly. Stella needs to adjust and she has to do it quickly. She has to work while she never had a job, she has to follow the rules while at home she could do what she wanted and there's hardly any luxury. Those are things she can get used to, but will she ever stop looking over her shoulder and should she or is the danger still nearby?

Dangerous Lies is a gripping read about a girl who's had a hard life. Stella didn't have a safe and loving home and she's used to doing everything on her own. Thunder Basin is a big adjustment, but she's tough and she tries. I liked that about her. She has some big secrets and she isn't supposed to tell anyone about them. I kept wanting to know more and couldn't stop reading until I found out what they were. I love a good book about secrets and this is definitely a great one.

There's a lot of chemistry between Stella and Chet, but she isn't looking for someone new. She doesn't want to give up her past entirely, it's really hard for her to do that. I felt bad for her, but also wanted her to see sense. It's always a good sign when I feel something like that while reading a book. Everything was exactly as it should be and I enjoyed reading Dangerous Lies very much. I think Becca Fitzpatrick has written another fascinating, fast paced and thrilling story.
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