The Songs of Us by Emma Cooper #bookreview (@ItsEmmacooper) @headlinepg #NetGalley #TheSongsofUs

It’s publication day for ‘The Songs of Us’ so I thought I would re-share my review of this fantastic book. Best news of all, it is available for only 99p today to celebrate the launch so grab your copy now. Happy Publication Day, Emma Cooper. Xxx

A Little Book Problem

9686551E-21DD-47AB-B47B-833582F895F0“If Melody hadn’t run out of de-icer that day, she would never have slipped and banged her head. She wouldn’t be left with a condition that makes her sing when she’s nervous. And she definitely wouldn’t have belted out the Arctic Monkeys’ ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ in assembly at her son’s school.

If Dev hadn’t taken the kids to the zoo that day, then the accident wouldn’t have happened. He wouldn’t have left Flynn and Rose without a dad. Or shattered the love of his life’s heart.

But if they hadn’t seen the missing person report that day, they might never have taken the trip to Cornwall. And, in the last place they expected, discovered what it really means to be ‘Us’.”

So, I have just got off a seven-and-a-half hour trans-Atlantic flight where I had planned on watching ‘Darkest Hour’ and grabbing a few hours…

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Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square by Heidi Swain #bookreview (@Heidi_Swain) @simonschusterUK #PublicationDay #SunshineAndSweetPeasInNightingaleSquare #NetGalley

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“Kate is on the run from her almost-divorced husband who is determined to have her back, and she has found the perfect place to hide… a little cottage on Nightingale Square in Norwich, far away from her old life in London. But the residents of Nightingale Square don’t take no for an answer, and Kate soon finds herself pulled into a friendship with Lisa, her bossy but lovely new neighbour.

Within a matter of days Kate is landed with the job of campaigning the council to turn the green into a community garden, meanwhile all the residents of Nightingale Square are horrified to discover that the Victorian mansion house on the other side of the square has been bought by developers. But when all hope is lost, the arrival of a handsome stranger is sure to turn things around!”

It’s publication day for Heidi Swain’s sixth book so Happy Publication Day, Heidi!

I am a huge fan of Heidi’s books and I am totally in love with the little town of Wynbridge where all of her previous novels have been set so I was a little disconcerted to find that her latest novel is not set there! However, Heidi has carved out another charming location for her latest book in Nightingale Square, a village-within-the-city setting where the reclusive Kate has retreated to hide from her soon-to-be-ex-husband and lick the wounds left by the breakdown of her marriage. She is hoping to live the quiet life for a time while she decides what direction her life should take but her neighbours in the Square have other ideas.

Soon Kate is drawn right into the heart of the little community, with two fabulous new girl friends in Lisa and Heather and a surrogate family in the other residents, who love their home and are all pulling together as a community to find a space where they can set up a neighbourhood garden. They also are united in their desire to thwart the modernisation of the neighbouring big house, Prosperous Place, which has an important history at the heart of the area. Kate finds a certain equilibrium in her life until the arrival of a handsome neighbour and the appearance of her ex-husband, via for her attention, throw her off-kilter again.

This book felt a little different to Heidi’s previous books, and I don’t think that was just down to the change in location. I did miss the Wynbridge cast, although a few of them put in an appearance, as Kate is the sister of Jemma’s husband. Regular readers of Heidi’s books will know Jemma as the owner of The Cherry Tree Cafe in Wynbridge.

I think the crux is that Kate is a complicated character and some of the issues tackled in this book seemed a little heavier than the themes in Heidi’s previous books. I am not highlighting this as a negative, just that it feels like a slight divergence for me from what her readers may have come to expect from her books. I enjoyed the meaty storyline and could sympathise with a lot of the dilemmas that Kate is wrestling with in this book – it goes some way beyond a light summer read on this occasion. The desire to hide away to lick one’s wounds will be familiar to all of us from some time or other in our lives.

The history angle was interesting and a great hook for the plot, and I enjoyed the familiar themes of supportive friends and the importance of community that we have come to appreciate in Heidi’s books and her regular readers will not be disappointed in this regard. There were also the usual great cast of characters – Lisa and Harold were the stand-outs for me – and the elements of humour that she is so good at.

There were a couple of elements that niggled a tiny bit. Kate’s obstinate clinging to the idea that there is only one perfect One for all of us and that if the one you thought was The One turns out to have feet of clay that this is it for you on the romance front, I found hard to buy in to. I think this was particularly difficult for me to accept as I found her ex to be so odious that I struggled to see how she could have thought he was The One, but that may just be my perception. In addition, there were parts of the story that were glossed over too quickly and I would her liked them to have been explored more fully and deeply, but I think maybe I was just being greedy for the story to go on longer!

Overall, this was another great read from Heidi but I was left feeling like this book is on the cusp of taking things in a slightly different direction for her but maybe she is holding back a little bit. Whether she chooses to push this further, or keep giving us the great, light-hearted romances we know and love, I will be interested to see. Either way, I will be happy and look forward to seeing what comes next from one of my favourite authors.

Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square is out now and you can purchase a copy here.

My thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

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Heidi Swain is the Sunday Times bestselling author of five novels: The Cherry Tree Cafe, Summer at Skylark Farm, Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market, Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage  and most recently, Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair. She lives in Norfolk with her husband and two teenage children.

Connect with Heidi:

Website: http://heidiswain.co.uk

Facebook: Heidi Swain Author

Twitter: @Heidi_Swain

Instagram: @heidi_swain

The Break by Marian Keyes #bookreview (@MarianKeyes) @PenguinUKBooks #PublicationDay #TheBreak

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“Amy’s husband Hugh has run away to ‘find himself’. But will he ever come back?

‘Myself and Hugh . . . We’re taking a break.’
‘A city-with-fancy-food sort of break?’

If only.

Amy’s husband Hugh says he isn’t leaving her.

He still loves her, he’s just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in South East Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.

Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet . . .

However, for Amy it’s enough to send her – along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers – teetering over the edge.

For a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? Will Amy be the same woman?

Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then so is she . . .”

Today is paperback publication day for The Break so, Happy Paperback Publication Day, Marian! To celebrate the occasion, here is my review of Marian’s latest novel.

It’s fabaliss. The End.

What? You need more? What more is there to say? Ok, I will elaborate.

Firstly, the premise of this book is totally original. Man in mid-life crisis wants to take a break from his marriage and head-off to South-East Asia to live the bachelor life for six months, leaving his stunned wife with their three daughters, the house and all the bills to look after on her own and she lets him. So far, so unbelievable you might say, why would she do that but I promise you, thanks to various complications in his life and the dynamics of their relationship it makes perfect sense in the book. The rest of the story then centres on how Amy copes with his absence, how her feelings about him change over the course of the separation and whether they will be able to pick up the pieces of their marriage if and when he comes back.

The development of realistic and sympathetic characters is where Marian has always excelled and why we, her devoted readers, adore her books and this is no exception. Amy is a warm and likeable but flawed individual that you will take to immediately and you are drawn straight into her plight and are firmly on her side from the beginning. Her life is far from straightforward with a complicated past and three hormonal teenage girls to look after. Her daughters are very accurately drawn (with five of my own, I speak with some authority in this area) and they are her main concern. Marian explores the fears, concerns and angst of teenagers with candour and they face some current and heavy issues (I don’t want to give away any spoilers but Marian is not afraid to address very emotive topics head on, to her very great credit). I liked the way social media plays a huge part in the storyline of this book to reflect its importance in the current world, not just for the younger generation but in Amy and Hugh’s relationship too.

There are some wonderful peripheral characters in the novel. Amy’s mother steals the show and she was my favourite character in the book (am I the only one of Marian’s Twitter followers who feels like she might recognise elements of this person? Art imitating life?) Her depictions of a slightly chaotic, extended family with its own internal tensions and quirks but who all pull together in times of crisis will warm your cockles and make you vow to appreciate your own motley collection of kin a bit more.

The main question that the book asks is whether it is ever the fault of one person when a marriage is in crisis or whether we all need to look to our own behaviour and see if we had a part to play before we condemn the other person for their actions and consign our relationship to the bonfire as a result. None of us are perfect. Relationships, however outwardly steadfast they may seem, need constant work and attention and we are all subject to stresses and strains from external sources. Ultimately, we need to decide what is worth clinging too and what we are willing to risk or to lose. In the end, a big part of love is forgiveness and understanding.

The book made me think and it made me feel all the feels and it made me happy and sad and then happy again. I devoured it in two days over the Bank Holiday weekend and it was no chore. For me, this is Marian on top form and that it something it is difficult to beat.

The Break is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Amazon/Goodreads

About the Author

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Marian Keyes’ international bestselling novels include Rachel’s Holiday, Last Chance Saloon, Sushi for Beginners, Angels, The Other Side of the Story, Anybody Out There?, This Charming Man,The Brightest Star in the Sky, The Mystery of Mercy Close and The Woman Who Stole My Life. Two collections of her journalism, Under the Duvet and Further Under the Duvet, are also available from Penguin. Marian lives in Dublin with her husband.

Connect with Marian:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarianKeyes

Twitter: @MarianKeyes 

Instagram: @marian_keyes

Website: www.mariankeyes.com

#CoverReveal Summer at the Little Duck Pond Cafe by Rosie Green (@Rosie_Green1988) @RaRaResources

It’s cover reveal day for Summer at the Little Duck Pond Cafe by Rosie Green. Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for allowing me to take part in the reveal for this beautiful, summery cover on this beautiful summery day.

This book is the second part in a trilogy. Part One, Spring at the Little Duck Pond Cafe is already available and you can buy a copy Here. Let’s look at what is going to happen in Book Two:

Jaz Winters stuck a pin in a map and fled to the village of Sunnybrook, looking for a brand new life – and after a rocky start, it’s beginning to look as if she made the right decision. Her blossoming friendship with Ellie and Fen has seen her through some dark times, and she’s managed to land two jobs – waitress at The Little Duck Pond Café and working as a weekend tour guide at Brambleberry Manor, the country house that’s been in Fen’s family for generations.

Sure, life isn’t totally perfect. There’s the irritating know-it-all guy who keeps popping up on her manor tours, for a start. He seems determined to get under Jaz’s skin whether she likes it or not. But she supposes it’s a small price to pay for the relative peace she’s found, living in Sunnybrook.

But just as Jaz is beginning to think rosier times are on the horizon, a shock encounter looks set to shatter her fragile happiness.

Will she be forced to flee from Sunnybrook and everyone she’s grown so fond of? Or will she find the strength to stand her ground and finally face up to the nightmares of the past?

And here is that all important cover!

Isn’t it delightful? The colours are so fresh and bright, they make you want to dive right in to the book.

Spring at the Little Duck Pond Cafe will be available on 18 June and you can download a copy Here. The great news is Spring at the Little Duck Pond Cafe will be free to download on Amazon as part of the promotion for the second book, so why not grab both?

I will be reviewing Summer at the Little Duck Pond Cafe as part of Rosie’s blog tour on 7 July, so pop back to the blog then to get my take on the book.

About the Author

Rosie Green has been scribbling stories ever since she was little. Back then they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’. Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all, unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

Rosie’s brand new series of novellas is centred on life in a village café. Summer at The Little Duck Pond Café, published on 18th June 2018, follows the first in the series, Spring at The Little Duck Pond Café.

#BlogTour Freefall by Adam Hamdy #bookreview (@adamhamdy) @headlinepg @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Freefall #bookbloggers

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“JOHN WALLACE IS A TARGET
Hiding off-grid after exposing the shadowy Pendulum conspiracy, Wallace is horrified to discover he is still marked for death.

THERE ARE ONLY TWO PEOPLE HE CAN TRUST
DI Patrick Bailey is still reeling from the murder investigation that nearly cost him his life.
FBI Agent Christine Ash is hunting a serial killer with a link to an unfinished case

HE MUST FIND THE TRUTH
The death of a London journalist triggers an investigation that brings them back together, hurling them into the path of an unknown enemy.

BEFORE THE KILLER FINDS HIM
Hunted across the world, they are plunged into a nightmare deadlier than they could have ever imagined.”

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Freefall, a new thriller by Adam Hamdy. My thanks  to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Before I start on my review I have to hold my hands up and state that, when I volunteered to read and review this book, I had not realised it was the second in a projected trilogy and I have not read the first book, Pendulum. I know that often books can be read as standalone but, having read Freefall, I believe it is essential to read the first book to get the most out of this one.

The book opens eight months after the conclusion of the first book with the graphically-described suicide of a journalist. This aftermath of this incident, which appears not to be a straightforward suicide after all, is attended by Bailey, a police officer who was involved in the action in book one. The action then jumps around from chapter to chapter between this investigation, scenes taking place in the USA involving an FBI agent who is investigating a series of gruesome decapitations using a vicious tool and events in Afghanistan where the hero from book one has gone to hide out and try and come to terms with the events of the first book, which involve the mysterious Pendulum.

I have to say I was confused, which is entirely my own fault for not having read book one first. There are lots of references back to the events of the first book and the thoughts and actions of the three main characters here are obviously deeply influenced by what happened to them previously. They have developed relationships with each other, and all have stories that I can tell have been well-established in the previous volume and not having this information I am sure took a lot away from the reading experience of this one.

That having been said, there is a lot to enjoy and commend in this book. Hamdy also writes screenplays and his eye for the visual is very apparent from the beginning. Each scene reads like a movie in your head, his descriptions are so vivid they jump off the page and I enjoyed his writing style very much. The dialogue flows naturally and the characters seem complex and very well developed – hence my frustration in not having all the back story from the previous book – as it is obvious that they have all been deeply affected by what happened previously and are struggling with it in their own ways. A lot of thrillers eschew emotional depth in favour of all action but this is not the case here, Hamdy manages to provide both in equal measure.

The action takes place across the globe. I was particularly enamoured of the descriptions of the Hindu Kush and the conflict taking place in the remote areas of Afghanistan. I love any book that really takes me to a place and a situation I have never been using the full five senses and Hamdy certainly manages to do this effectively.

The action in the book is unrelenting from page one and keeps up the pace to the end. It is definitely a page turner. I would say it is not for the sensitive or squeamish. Hamdy does not hold back on the imagery and, as previously pointed out, his descriptions make these images jump off the page and slap you in the face. In the first few chapters we have suicide, attempted beheadings and IED explosions, all described in unrelenting prose so potential readers should bear this in mind. If you are a fan of this kind of ballsy thriller, you will love it.

In conclusion, this is a gripping and thought-provoking thriller that is a gut above some that I have read with its focus on emotional as well as physical action but make sure you read Pendulum first if you want to avoid floundering like I did.

Freefall is out now and you can buy a copy here.. The first book in the Pendulum trilogy, Pendulum is available here.

About the Author

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Identified as an Amazon Rising Star, British author and screenwriter Adam Hamdy works with studios and production companies on both sides of the Atlantic.

He is the author of the Pendulum trilogy, an epic series of conspiracy thriller novels. James Patterson described Pendulum as ‘one of the best thrillers of the year’, and the novel was a finalist for the Glass Bell Award for contemporary fiction. Pendulum was chosen as book of the month by Goldsboro Books and was selected for BBC Radio 2 Book Club.

Prior to embarking on his writing career, Adam was a strategy consultant and advised global businesses in the medical systems, robotics, technology and financial services sectors.

Connect with Adam:

Website: http://www.adamhamdy.com

Twitter: @adamhamdy

A book shop with a difference 📖📖📖📖📖

A great friend’s thoughts on a great day.

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Yesterday I met with a new friend; a fellow aspiring author and a successful book reviewer and blogger – ALittleBookProblem

It was a true honour to meet someone I’ve been chatting to for a few months now – an avid reader with a book obsession and a to-be-read pile even larger than my own! She will, and already has been, a huge resource of great advice on my writing journey, because she is on one of her own 👯‍♀️

We spent an hour in and around this beautifully welcoming barge called Word-on-the-Water and TimeOut have written this article about them.

We enjoyed a coffee in the sun and listened to some lovely lazy tunes while we chatted about books and writing… and life.

We both love a good story and thankfully so does the publishing world and the agents who work within it. We meandered our way down to The…

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#BlogTour Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind by Elizabeth McGivern #bookreview (@MayhemBeyond) @RaRaResources #AmyColeHasLostHerMind #bookbloggers

Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind Blog Tour Banner

Today is publication day for Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind by Elizabeth McGivern and I am delighted to be taking part in her blog tour on publication day. Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part.

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“Amy Cole is a stay-at-home mum and a woman on the edge.
After a very public breakdown and failed suicide attempt, Amy finds herself trying to make it through her everyday life as a high-functioning zombie.
Elle De Bruyn is a force of nature ready to shake Amy back to life whether she likes it or not.
After a fortuitous meeting, the two embark on a journey together which will change them both and help them find out exactly what they’re capable of when rock bottom is just the beginning.”

Amy Cole is a woman suffering from depression following a traumatic event in her life. We meet her at a point where she has got so low she has attempted suicide and is now trying to climb back up and find some equilibrium. After all, she had a loving husband and two small boys depending on her. But as anyone who has struggled with depression knows, this is a difficult thing to wrestle with. Enter Elle De Bruyn, a brash, bossy, bullshit-free new best friend who is going to help Amy out of her hole, come hell or high water. However, Elle is struggling with issues or her own, can Amy find the strength to help her friend out in return?

This book is a fascinating mix of really serious issues and absolutely outrageous and hilarious incidents that combine to create a book that approaches its tough subject matter in an original and approachable way. Parts of this book had me howling with laughter – the trampolining exercise class, the speed dating, the life drawing to name but a few. My absolute favourite laugh out loud moment though was the sexting section, I had tears rolling down my face.

There were also lots of relatable moments, especially as a mum. The horror of the mother and baby group filled with competitive, smug mums. The ex-colleague who is constantly shoving her success in your face and making you feel inadequate. The inability to tell the makeover lady at the cosmetics counter that you hare the clown face she has pasted on you and you don’t want to buy any of her products. Elizabeth McGivern has drawn on experiences that women everywhere will be able to connect with.

I adored all the characters in this book, they were all really well rounded and authentic. Amy is a woman that you will recognise as yourself or someone you know. She was very down to earth and honest and I liked her from the start, she feels very real to me. Elle is the best friend we wish we all had, or could be. Amy’s children were a delight and brought back so many memories of my own kids at that age. She has a real knack for observing people.

Underlying all this, as previously mentioned, are some serious issues and I think the author handles these very sensitively and well. Experience of depression is different for everybody, and everybody who suffers will have a different reaction but I think the way the author deals with it feels true to someone’s experience, if not the reader’s. It is good to see a book dealing with this subject, as it is something often swept under the carpet or including in an insensitive way and this book tackles in head on.

I really liked this book, I think it is balanced very well between humour and candour and I would definitely recommend it as a worthwhile read.

Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind is out today and you can buy a copy here.

To see what other readers think of the book, follow the tour:

Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind Full Banner

About the Author

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Elizabeth McGivern is a former journalist turned hostage-in-her-own-home surrounded by three men and a horrible dog named Dougal.

In an effort to keep her sanity she decided to write a parenting blog after the birth of her first son so she can pinpoint the exact moment she failed as a mother.

In an unexpected turn of events, the blog helped her to find a voice and connect with parents in similar situations; namely those who were struggling with mental health issues and parenting. It was because of this encouragement – and wanting to avoid her children as much as possible – her debut novel, Amy Cole has lost her mind, was born.

Elizabeth lives in Northern Ireland although wishes she could relocate to Iceland on a daily basis. To witness her regular failings as a parent you can find her on: www.mayhemandbeyond.com 

Connect with Elizabeth:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mayhemandbeyond

Twitter: @MayhemBeyond

Instagram: @mayhemandbeyond