Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Review: The Wife's Secret by Kerry Wilkinson

A gripping psychological thriller with a heart-stopping twist

Charley Willis was thirteen years old when her parents were killed in their family home and she was found hiding in a cupboard upstairs.

Fifteen years later, Charley is marrying Seth Chambers. It should be the happiest day of their lives, a chance for Charley to put her past behind her, but just hours after the ceremony, she is missing.

No one saw her leave. No one knows where she is.

One thing is for certain…Seth is about to discover he doesn’t really know the woman he just married. And his nightmare is only just beginning. 




Kindle Edition, 338 pages
Expected publication: October 10th 2018 by Bookouture
Genre: Psychological Thriller/Mystery
Kristine's Thoughts:
** I received an advanced readers copy from Bookouture via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

After reading a slew of sub par psychological thrillers recently The Wife's Secret was a pleasant, welcomed and refreshing change. Finally one that I enjoyed. In fact, one that I really enjoyed.

Seth's new wife Charley disappeared after their wedding. Not a few days later but right after the vows at the reception. There were no clues as to what happened to her. Did she get cold feet and leave or did something terrible happen to her? Was it the "Willis Curse" that the public believed her family was plagued with?

The Wife's Secret was told in the present from Seth's point of view and the past from Charley's. As the mystery unfolded and Charley's history was revealed, the pieces started to fall into place. I was hooked and was desperate to know what happened and how it would all play out. Not only was I interested in what happened to Charley but I also wanted to know what happened to her parents all those years ago when she was only thirteen. I figured that they had to be connected somehow but I couldn't quite figure it out. Yes, some of it was pretty easy to guess but I was caught off guard with other parts. I was quite pleased about that.  It is always a good story when it isn't completely predictable.

This book was quite easy to read and even easier to get lost in. I found myself doing the "just one more chapter" thing in my head on numerous occasions. Needless to say because of that I finished it very quickly. This was the second book by Kerry Wilkinson for me and the second one that I've thoroughly enjoyed. There is a simplicity to his writing that makes the story flow and he has a way of weaving a story that leaves you completely captivated. I can't wait to read some of his other titles.


  

About the Author
Kerry Wilkinson has had No.1 bestsellers in the UK, Canada, South Africa and Singapore, as well as top-five books in Australia. He has also written two top-20 thrillers in the United States. His book, Ten Birthdays, won the RNA award for Young Adult Novel of the Year in 2018.

As well as his million-selling Jessica Daniel series, Kerry has written the Silver Blackthorn trilogy - a fantasy-adventure serial for young adults - a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter, plus numerous standalone novels. He has been published around the world in more than a dozen languages.

Originally from the county of Somerset, Kerry has spent far too long living in the north of England, picking up words like 'barm' and 'ginnel'.

When he's short of ideas, he rides his bike or bakes cakes. When he's not, he writes it all down.

Connect with Kerry

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Review: The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him, as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination. It's a place where your life is explained to you by five people, some of whom you knew, others who may have been strangers. One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie's five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his "meaningless" life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: "Why was I here?"

Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published (first published September 23rd 2003
Genre: Fiction


Kristine's Thoughts:

This book is not new and has been reviewed hundreds of times so I'll keep my thoughts short and sweet on it.

When Eddie died in a tragic accident he met five different people that intersected his life in one way or another. They were meant to give him clarity and answer the question "Why was I here?" Some of the people were expected but others were not.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven was a short and easy book to read. I flew through the pages and was anxious to know who Eddie would meet and what they would bring to the table. Many things about his life were explained and he was given clarity on a number of things as well.

I enjoyed every minute of this book. It doesn't get preachy or speak of religion but tells one story of what could possibly happen after the end. I appreciate that about it and therefore think that it would appeal to a large number of people.






About the Author

Mitchell David Albom is an author, journalist, screenwriter, playwright, radio and television broadcaster and musician. His books have collectively sold over 35 million copies worldwide; have been published in forty-one territories and in forty-two languages around the world; and have been made into Emmy Award-winning and critically-acclaimed television movies.

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Thursday, 27 September 2018

Review: Bend the Rules by Susan Amanda Kelly

Everyone deserves a second chance and Mary Holmes, accountant extraordinaire, is determined to make the most of hers. Sure, she’d love to get her old life back - she used to be thin, well-dressed, engaged-to-be-married, on the corporate ladder and regularly bought three kinds of lettuce. Back then, she could afford the hair products needed to keep her hair sleek. But one unused wedding cake, a regrettable public safety incident and a teensy prison record later, her life goals have shrunk to being able to afford to eat regularly. To do that, she needs to make a success of her second chance… an accounting job with Vetruvious Security.

Everything is proceeding according to Mary’s detailed, color-coded, new-life plan until Vetruvious Security hires a specialist, Crash Coolidge, to work undercover to smash a truck cargo heist ring. Crash is sexy, insolent, sexy, disheveled, sexy and scarily relaxed about the prospect of killing people. Even in a tough-guy company like Vetruvious Security, Crash is the equivalent of a Rottweiler surrounded by Chihuahuas. After Mary is assigned to his team, her life-plan rapidly derails. She is targeted by the sinister and mysterious head of the heist gang and only Crash stands between her and an undignified death.

Mary finds herself doing things that most definitely were not in her employment contract like stripping the shoes from a corpse; adopting a deaf, rank-smelling guard dog; clue-hunting with Crash’s crazy, supermodel sister and lurking in a biker bar to locate a specific tattoo artist. All because Mary ends up wanting a second chance for Crash Coolidge as much as she wants one for herself. And she must find the sinister and mysterious head of the heist gang before Crash does. Because she doesn’t want Crash to do something reckless that lands him in prison. Not when he has become a vital part of her detailed, color-coded, new new-life plan.


Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published June 26th 2018 by Gomboc Words 
Genre: RomCom
Kristine's Thoughts:
** I received a copy of this book directly from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

Bend the Rules is a book that you want to read when you don't want to take life too seriously. It is the second book in a series but it can be read as a stand alone. This was the first book for me and \I was able to follow along.

It was at times over the top and there were some definite laugh out loud moments in Bend the Rules. The absolute highlight of this story was Mary. Her character was what made reading this book worthwhile. The plot itself was average at best but Mary was a joy to read. With her second hand suit and her colour coded systems, she was a fish out of water in almost every situation which made her humorous and enjoyable to follow. She really did make it for me. Without her, I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the plot at all. I was indifferent to Crash and all of the other secondary characters, but I thoroughly enjoyed Mary. Perhaps there was a bit of her that we can all relate to that made her so endearing.

This book came to me right when I needed something not so serious to get lost in. I'm now curious if this author always writes about quirky and unusual characters. I guess there is only one way to find out!




About the Author
Susan Amanda Kelly loves making up stuff in her head. She is easily distracted, inclined to stop mid-conversation and stare off into space. She once spent five hours at sea, on a boat, muttering: "Where would he hide the body?" She hopes the video footage of that trip has been wiped. She finally decided to put the characters that inhabit her head, onto paper. It was like opening the door on a lunatic asylum... glorious bedlam. She hopes her readers come to love her characters as much as she does. She writes high-octane novels packed with romance, crime and humor. They're PG13 because of some strong language and steam (the heroes are hard to resist).


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Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Review: The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

A rich, spellbinding new novel from the author of The Lake House—the story of a love affair and a mysterious murder that cast their shadow across generations, set in England from the 1860's until the present day.

My real name, no one remembers.
The truth about that summer, no one else knows.


In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery, and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.


Kindle Edition, 512 pages
Expected publication: October 9th 2018 by Atria Books
Genre: Historical Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

Kate Morton is one of my all time favourite authors. I have devoured all of her books and I was extremely excited to get an advanced copy of The Clockmaker's Daughter. It is because of this that it pains me to write what I am about to write.

I struggled quite a bit with this book. It took me days to get through it which has never happened with any of Morton's prior novels. Normally I would be so engrossed that I would not notice the passage of time. Instead I felt the clock ticking as I turned each page. I wouldn't say that the book was horrible but it was average at best and by far my least favourite of all of her books.

The Clockmaker's Daughter jumped back and forth between different time frames and different characters. It was told from the perspective of these many characters. This is a theme and style that I can normally get behind. In fact, I normally love it. In the case of this book however, I found it confusing at times and hard to keep track. There were many moving parts and a large cast of characters to keep straight. Almost too many.

The plot had some shining moments but I found it to be a little chaotic yet slow moving at the same time. I loved the idea of different people at different times in the same house. There were enough pieces that held my interest to keep me from putting the book down but it ran at a rather dull pace. By the time it started gearing up for the climax and the inevitable ending I had already figured out what was going to happen. There was no overwhelming shocker or surprise twist like I have enjoyed so much in her previous work.

The fact that I am a huge fan made it really hard for me to rate this book and I'm sure it has influenced it in some regard. I'm not sure which way though. Either my expectations were too high so I rated down or I love her books so much that I rated higher than it deserved. Regardless, I am still a big fan and I will still wait patiently for her next novel. I liked it well enough but I didn't love it.





About the Author

KATE MORTON was born in South Australia, grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland and now lives with her family in London and Australia. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature, and harboured dreams of joining the Royal Shakespeare Company until she realised that it was words she loved more than performing. Kate still feels a pang of longing each time she goes to the theatre and the house lights dim.

"I fell deeply in love with books as a child and believe that reading is freedom; that to read is to live a thousand lives in one; that fiction is a magical conversation between two people - you and me - in which our minds meet across time and space. I love books that conjure a world around me, bringing their characters and settings to life, so that the real world disappears and all that matters, from beginning to end, is turning one more page."

Kate Morton's five novels - The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper and The Lake House - have all been New York Times bestsellers, Sunday Times bestsellers and international number 1 bestsellers; they are published in 34 languages, across 42 countries.

Kate's sixth novel, The Clockmaker's Daughter, will be published in September/October 2018.  


Connect with Kate

Monday, 24 September 2018

Review: No One Like You (Chateau Jolie #1) by Heather McGovern


In the quaint mountain town of Windamere, North Carolina, the three Sargent sisters are determined to make their hotel and winery, Chateau Jolie, a success. And one by one, they’re finding that nothing pairs better with new beginnings than unexpected love…The downside of living in a charming small town is that it’s impossible for Brooke Sargent to avoid anyone. Especially someone as big, handsome, and friendly as Trevor Bradley. At his brother’s wedding, they flirted and danced…before Brooke recalled that she’s not ready to trust any man after her divorce, let alone one who’s the competition. Her family’s struggling chateau is planning to host the local senior prom—without the Bradley family’s renowned Honeywilde Inn muscling in and stealing the glory.

Trevor has thought of no one else since the night he and Brooke connected. Even though she shot him down—hard—he’s seen the warmth beneath her guarded facade. Working together, they could give the high school students a spectacular prom. Navigating the rough terrain of Brooke’s business, while proving himself to his own siblings, won’t be easy. But Trevor loves a challenge—especially one that could win him the woman he can’t stop wanting . . .

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 266 pages
Expected publication: October 30th 2018 by Lyrical Shine


Terri's Thoughts

** I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you**

This appears to be a spin off of another series by McGovern.  Although it left me slightly curious about the Bradley family, it didn't impact the ability to enjoy this story.

As always, I fell in love with the male lead.  Trevor was the perfect specimen, kind, understanding and of course hot.  The way he continuously came to Brookes aid made me swoon as there are not a lot of people in life who are so selfless, male or female.

The story was light, romantic and easy to read.  I had thought I was familiar with McGovern's work however when I search make in my archives it appears she is new to me (at least recently).  I enjoyed her writing style and will certainly read more of her work in the future.  I look forward to the stories featuring Brooke's sisters.



About the Author




Sunday, 23 September 2018

Review: The Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos

A sweeping family saga and love story that offers a vivid and unique portrayal of life in war-torn 1941 Bucharest and life behind the Iron Curtain during the Soviet Union occupation—perfect for fans of Lilac Girls and Sarah’s Key.

On a freezing night in January 1941, a little Jewish girl is found on the steps of an apartment building in Bucharest. With Romania recently allied with the Nazis, the Jewish population is in grave danger, undergoing increasingly violent persecution. The girl is placed in an orphanage and eventually adopted by a wealthy childless couple who name her Natalia. As she assimilates into her new life, she all but forgets the parents who were forced to leave her behind. They are even further from her mind when Romania falls under Soviet occupation.

Yet, as Natalia comes of age in a bleak and hopeless world, traces of her identity pierce the surface of her everyday life, leading gradually to a discovery that will change her destiny. She has a secret crush on Victor, an intense young man who as an impoverished student befriended her family long ago. Years later, when Natalia is in her early twenties and working at a warehouse packing fruit, she and Victor, now an important official in the Communist regime, cross paths again. This time they are fatefully drawn into a passionate affair despite the obstacles swirling around them and Victor’s dark secrets.

When Natalia is suddenly offered a one-time chance at freedom, Victor is determined to help her escape, even if it means losing her. Natalia must make an agonizing decision: remain in Bucharest with her beloved adoptive parents and the man she has come to love, or seize the chance to finally live life on her own terms, and to confront the painful enigma of her past.


Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Expected publication: November 13th 2018 by Atria Books 
Genre: Historical Fiction
Kristine's Thoughts:
** I received an advanced readers copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

Anyone who reads my reviews knows that I really enjoy historical fiction, more specifically, ones surrounding WWII. Although fictional they always manage to teach me something about that terrible time in history that I end up researching when I'm finished. I have such a keen interest that my recent travels have taken me to places like Russia that I have read about and researched after. However, I was not very familiar with what happened in Bucharest and Romania in general. That is what drew me to this book and made me want to read it.

This book began in 1941, in the throws of WWII, when Romania was aligned with Nazi Germany and the Jewish citizens were at risk. A young couple left their daughter on the steps of an apartment building in order to give her a chance of surviving. If they all stayed together they all would have died. Natalia was placed in an orphanage where she was quickly adopted by another young and wealthy family that was unable to have children of their own. This was her story.

I could not pry myself away from this book. Not only did it take place in Bucharest during WWII but also after when it was under Soviet occupation and the family was behind the Iron Curtain. It followed this family from when they were an affluent and wealthy family to a family with nothing. Throughout all of their struggles there was one constant, the love the family had for each other and the risks they would take for each other. It was beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.

I don't want to go into too much detail. I actually feel like the synopsis gives away too much of the story. This book gave life to a story from the author's past that had none. It was based on her mother who was left on the steps but never got to know the story behind her birth parents. This novel gave her a fictional story to change that. I highly recommend reading her notes at the end of the book. I found them to be as interesting as the novel itself.

It was a complicated story that took place during a complicated and constantly changing time in history so I admit there were times in the story that I got a little confused. Veletzos managed to put me in the middle of the story. I felt like I was there and enduring all of the struggles with Natalia and her family. I could feel the bombs, the heartache, the worry and the hunger. Her attention to detail is what I think made that possible.

This story is going to stick with me for a very long time. Also, you can bet that I will now be adding it to my list of places to research so that I can learn more. I enjoyed every minute of it.





About the Author
Roxanne Veletzos was born in Bucharest, Romania and moved to California with her family as a young teen. Already fluent in English and French, she began writing short stories about growing up in her native Eastern Europe, at first as a cathartic experience as she transitioned to a new culture. Building on her love of the written language, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has worked as an editor, content writer and marketing manager for a number of Fortune 500 companies. Since 2012, Roxanne has been writing historical and contemporary fiction and is the author of two novels.

Connect with Roxanne
 

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Review: Honor Among SEALs (Hearts of Valor #2) by Dixie Lee Brown


Navy SEALS are trained to take on all enemies in extreme situations—but there’s nothing more dangerous than matters of the heart . . .

This is Matt Iverson’s story.
Working for a security company with his brothers-in-arms has given former SEAL Matt “MacGyver” Iverson a reason to get up every morning. But keeping a runaway bride from harm isn’t in his job description . . .

Former Marine Kellie Greyson is in over her head. A cold-hearted ultimatum leaves her no choice but to wed mob boss Tony Palazzi. But when she overhears his deadly plans for her after she says ‘I do,’ Kellie flees his casino, only to wind up in a seedy Vegas bar. The next thing she knows, she’s waking up beside a protective powerhouse of a man . . .

Though Kellie’s body kickstarts his into high gear, MacGyver is all business trying to convince her that they need each other. Both are looking for missing people—and all roads lead to Palazzi. MacGyver will have to lay all his cards on the table to get Kellie to trust him in a game they might not survive . . 

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: October 9th 2018 by Lyrical Liaison

Terri's Thoughts

** I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!**

I have to admit I really enjoyed this story.  I have not read the first in the series however it appears that it was not necessary to the second one.  Although I think I am convinced to go back and check it out.

What I liked about this story is that it is not the typical contemporary romance that one may expect.  The storyline took off at a lightening speed and didn't slow down until..well the end.  A lot of suspense and action was loaded in to this story in what felt like an incredibly fast read.  Filled with bad guys and good guys. I should clarify hot SEALs!  Also filled with enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat.  I was pleasantly surprised by this.

Then there is the romance aspect filled with the instant attraction, plethora of roadblocks and strong personalities.  Did I mention how hot MacGyver was?  The perfect dreamboat.  Gorgeous and tough on the outside and soft with a heart of gold on the inside, pretty much every girls dream.  Honorable mention goes out to Chip the dog who is every girls other hero.

I don't usually seek out suspense type books, not that I don't enjoy them but simply because there is do much else out there that I don't get around to it.  This story made me wonder why.  This story first and foremost is a romance, but has enough other stuff going on that separates itself from the standard formula.  I will be on the lookout for more from this series and this author.



About the Author