Take It Back by Kia Abdullah #BookReview (@KiaAbdullah) @HarperCollinsUK @NetGalley #PublicationDay #TakeItBack #NetGalley

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The Victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses the boys of something unthinkable.

The Defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.

Whose side would you take?

Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds, shattered the expectations placed on her by her family and forged a glittering career at the Bar. All before hanging up her barrister’s wig to help the victims who needed her most. Victims like Jodie Wolfe.

Jodie’s own best friend doesn’t even believe her claims that their classmates carried out such a crime. But Zara does. And Zara is determined to fight for her.

Jodie and Zara become the centre of the most explosive criminal trial of the year, in which ugly divisions within British society are exposed. As everything around Zara begins to unravel she becomes even more determined to get Jodie the justice she’s looking for. But at what price?

Another publication day review to share with you, this time for Take It Back by Kia Abdullah. Happy publication day, Kia, and my thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This was a fascinating legal thriller that deals with a multitude of complex and contentious issues that are very relevant in current society and, at the same time, providing a page-turning ‘who did what’ story. There are so many layers to this book that it is one I will definitely go back to and read again with a fresh set of eyes to make sure I have rung every nuance from it, but I will do the best I can to write my review based on my first read of it.

The story involves an allegation of rape by a girl with facial deformities against a group of boys from an ethnic minority background and, from the off, it causes discomfort in the reader as our sympathies are pitted against one another as we try and work out which characters are the real victims in the story. This is the main theme of the book, how do you deal with individuals from two separate, disadvantaged groups pointing the finger at one another without allowing personal or societal prejudices affect your judgement? The narrative casts a sharp and unflattering light on the way our society currently operates and how we view and react to people very different to ourselves. The book made me ask some very uncomfortable questions about my own privilege and possible prejudices and preconceptions and, by the end, I was left with more questions than answers and a good many issues to probe further.

The main character in the book is Zara, a modern woman with a high-flying career who has taken the drastic step of leaving behind a lucrative career at the Bar to help victims of sexual violence. Zara comes from a Muslim family and has a good many demons of her own to address, a number of which she is forced to confront as her current case spirals out of control and spills over into her personal life. The use of Zara as the main focus of the book is a clever vehicle for forcing the reader to see the kinds of problems minorities have to face in our society and what conflicts they are presented with. Those of us who do not fall into these categories can find it almost impossible to imagine what challenges are presented daily to minorities and books like this one which don’t shy away from presenting these challenges to us in a digestible format can offer the opportunity to think about these things from a  different angle. The author does a really great job of portraying Zara as someone real and flawed and sympathetic so we can try, for a brief time, to slip into her shoes.

The protagonists on both sides of the criminal investigation are portrayed as complicated  characters with motivations, personalities, desires and faults that are revealed gradually throughout the novel. so that the readers perception of who might be telling the truth and who might be lying can change from page to page as we learn more about them, just as Zara’s does. I had no clear idea of the truth until the very last page and, as a result, the book held my attention easily from beginning to end. It wasn’t an easy read, though. These are some deeply troubling issues that are being addressed in the story and parts of it made me extremely uncomfortable in a way that had me asking questions of myself throughout. For a thriller of this type, this is an unusual and accomplished achievement and puts this book a cut above some of the run of the mill titles that have appeared in this genre. To dismiss it as just another of its type would be to do the book a grave disservice.

The settings and descriptions of the book present a grim background that perfectly suits the plot and the writing really brought everything to life – location, characters, mood and story. This is a skilfully written book that offers a big punch and a lot of food for thought, as well as a gripping read. It is a book that will stay with me for a while and I highly recommend it.

Take It Back is out today and you can get a copy here.

About the Author

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Kia Abdullah is an author and travel writer from London. She has contributed to The New York Times, The Guardian, BBC and Lonely Planet, and is the founding editor of outdoor travel blog Atlas & Boots, read by 250,000 people a month.

Connect with Kia:

Website: https://kiaabdullah.com

Facebook: Kia Abdullah

Twitter: @KiaAbdullah

Instagram: @kiaabdullah

The Secret Cove in Croatia by Julie Caplin #BookReview (@JulieCaplin) @OneMoreChapter @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam @NetGalley #TheSecretCoveInCroatia #NetGalley

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Sail away to beautiful Croatia for summer sun, sparkling turquoise seas and a holiday romance that’s forever…

When no-nonsense, down-to-earth Maddie Wilcox is offered the chance to work on a luxury yacht for the summer, she can’t say no. Yes she’ll be waiting on the posh guests… But island-hopping around the Adriatic sea will more than make up for it – especially when Nick, her best friend Nina’s brother, is one of them.

Sparks fly when they meet on board and Maddie can’t believe self-entitled jerk Nick is really related to Nina.

But in a secret, picture-perfect cove, away from the real world, Maddie and Nick discover they might have more in common than they realise…

My thanks to HarperImpulse for my copy of this book received via NetGalley, which I reviewed honestly and impartially.

How could you not want to pick up this book when you see the beautiful cover? It looks like the perfect summer read, doesn’t it? Well, if you are not managing to escape the UK for your holidays this year but want to travel vicariously through your summer reading, you won’t do better than picking up a copy of The Secret Cove in Croatia by Julie Caplin.

Up until recently, I worked in travel and Croatia has become one of the hottest destinations in Europe over the past few years, although I haven’t managed to get there in person yet. Having read this book, I feel like I have actually been because, like all of her titles in the Romantic Escapes series, Julie has managed to capture the feeling and all the tiny details that transport the reader to the location of the story. Having spent a lot of time selling this destination to my travel clients, I could tell that the author had actually visited the location she was writing about and had fallen in love with the place, this really shone through in the writing and made me fall in love with it too.

The books follows the story of Maddie. Struggling to find a way to follow her passion in life, she takes a job as crew on a yacht for the summer, only to find that the brother of her best friend is one of the passengers, which causes endless difficulties. I adored both Maddie and Nick from the beginning. Maddie is just the kind of heroine a modern woman can relate to, not perfect but kind, determined and sassy, she knows her own mind and isn’t going to take any nonsense from a man. She does have her vulnerabilities though, which make her very sympathetic and I can guarantee you will be on her side and praying for her to get a happy ending from the start. Nick is a suitable foil for her, and I really enjoyed the glimpses we got inside his head too. I think it can be tricky to switch between male and female perspectives sometimes and make it equally convincing, but it really works in this book.

There are lots of other characters to round out the plot, lovely and loathsome to give a fun balance, and there is a refreshing mix of funny moments with some serious topics, a huge dash of romance and a sexy frisson as well. It really makes a tasty summer cocktail of a read which will tickle your reading tastebuds and give you a happy rush by the end. I absolutely loved it all, but the real pleasure was feeling that I had truly taken a trip to Croatia without having to leave the house. As a writer, I can see the skill that has gone in to this book and I am in awe.

I defy anyone to pick up this book and not finish it without a big smile on their face and a happy heart. The perfect romantic, summer read, I was very sad when it was over. Big high five from me, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The Secret Cove in Croatia is out today as an ebook and in paperback on 22 August and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

The Secret Cove Author

Jules Wake announced at the age of ten that she planned to be a writer. Along the way she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury brands, taking journalists on press trips to awful places like Turin, Milan, Geneva, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam and occasionally losing the odd member of the press in an airport. This proved fabulous training for writing novels as it provided her with the opportunity to eat amazing food, drink free alcohol, hone her writing skills on press releases and to research European cities for her books. 

She writes best-selling warm-hearted contemporary fiction for HarperImpulse.

Under her pen name, Julie Caplin, her twelfth novel, The Secret Cove in Croatia published in ebook format this July.

Connect with Jules:

Website: http://www.juleswake.co.uk

Facebook: Julie Caplin Author

Twitter: @JulieCaplin

The Things I Know by Amanda Prowse #BookReview (@MrsAmandaProwse) @AmazonPub @NetGalley #NetGalley #TheThingsIKnow

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Thomasina ‘Hitch’ Waycott loves living and working on the remote family farm and B&B. But she also wants more. To see the world. To own her own home. To fall madly in love.

But those are fairy tales, and if her life is a fairy tale, then she’s the ugly duckling. Her deformed lip, her crooked limbs and her weak heart have kept her from taking chances. But that’s about to change.

When Grayson Potts comes to stay, he’s unlike anyone Thomasina has ever met. He’s aloof, eccentric and exceptionally kind. He’s also totally unconcerned with the physical flaws that have always defined Thomasina.

The two form a bond that neither has had before. It’s possible that it could become something more, but Thomasina also wonders if it’s too good to be true. By putting her heart on the line, Thomasina may open herself to heartbreak. But she may also open herself to so much more.

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital review copy of the latest book by one of my favourite authors, Amanda Prowse, The Things I Know. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

Amanda Prowse is the queen of emotionally intricate women’s fiction and this book is another fine example of the genre. I loved it from start to finish. I was drawn in to the small, confined, but deeply complex life of ‘Hitch’ Waycott, a person who is full of potential but hemmed in by family circumstances and the under-estimation of the people who surround her. She wants more from life, and we follow her as she starts to believe she might get it, as do we. The author is so good at building deeply rich and believable characters that the reader cannot help but fall in love with from the start.

This book is set within a small world, with small lives and small concerns, or so it might seem from the outside. But, of course, nothing is small to those people involved and what may seem unimportant, insignificant, to outsiders, means everything to the people involved and Amanda is a genius at making us just as involved in these seemingly minor troubles as those people to whom they mean the world, literally. Hitch’s entire world has been built on one tiny patch of land and, when that is under threat, so is her stability, her security, everything she has ever known, unless she is brave enough to recognise that it could be the opportunity she has been waiting for.

This book had, for me, a very curious and unusual ‘other-worldly’ feel to it. Despite being set in contemporary times, it had the feeling of a piece of period writing, as if it could be set at any time, as if it were happening out of the normal ambit of current experience. I fear I am not explaining myself very well here, possibly because I have never experienced anything quite like it before and I cannot quite put my finger on what it is that felt so different about it. It was a little dream-like maybe, disconnected…I am not sure. Maybe this was a reflection of the disconnection that Hitch feels to the world around her, sheltered as she has been from it. Whatever it was, it really added to the suspension from reality I always feel when I lose myself in a really good book and I welcomed it as part of the reading experience.

This book really moved me. The characters captured my heart and made me care for them. They were beautifully written, sympathetic and realistic. The story, for all its gentleness, packed an emotional punch and I was compelled through the story by the connection I had with the characters and the ease and beauty of the writing. This is as pretty much perfect as you can get for a book in this genre.

Amanda Prowse has produced another magnificent read and remains the author to whose heights I aspire with my own writing. If only.

The Things I Know is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author who has had twenty one novels published in dozens of languages. Her chart topping No.1 titles ‘What Have I Done?’, ‘Perfect Daughter’, ‘My Husband’s Wife’ and ‘The Girl in the Corner’ have sold millions of copies around the world.

Other novels by Amanda Prowse include ‘A Mother’s Story’ which won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the year Award and ‘Perfect Daughter’ that was selected as a World Book Night title in 2016. Amanda’s latest book ‘The Coordinates of Loss’ went straight to No.1 in Literary Fiction when it was launched. She has been described by the Daily Mail as ‘The Queen of Family Drama.’

Published by Lake Union, Amanda is the most prolific writer of bestselling contemporary fiction in the UK today; her titles also consistently score the highest online review approval ratings across several genres.

A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda is a regular panellist on Channel 5’s ‘The Jeremy Vine Show’ and numerous daytime ITV programmes. She makes countless guest appearances on BBC national independent Radio stations including LBC and Talk FM, where she is well known for her insightful observations and her infectious humour.

Amanda’s ambition is to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can’t possibly read another book until the memory fades…

Connect with Amanda:

Website: https://www.amandaprowse.com

Facebook: Amanda Prowse Author

Twitter: @MrsAmandaProwse

Instagram: @mrsamandaprowse

The Gift of Friends by Emma Hannigan #BookReview #BlogTour @headlinepg @annecater @NetGalley #RandomThingsTours #NetGalley #TheGiftOfFriends

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Kingfisher Road – a leafy, peaceful street in the town of Vayhill. But there are whispers behind closed doors. Who is moving into Number 10?

Engaged to handsome, wealthy Justin Johnston, Danielle appears to her new neighbours to have the perfect, glossy life. But not everything is as it seems…

In fact, each of the other four women who live close by has a secret, and each is nursing their own private heartache.

But could a gift be waiting on their doorsteps? And, by opening their front doors, and their hearts, to each other, could the women of Kingfisher Road discover all the help they need?

This thirteenth and final novel from the beloved and inspiring Emma Hannigan is a life-affirming, uplifting story that celebrates the strength and joys of female friendship.

I’m thrilled to be winding up the blog tour for The Gift of Friends by Emma Hannigan today and I send my huge thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours who squeezed me in to the tour because she knew I was desperate to be included, and to Headline for my copy of the book via NetGalley, a book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is a beautiful book. Truly. I enjoyed every single second I spent between its pages and I was incredibly sad when it was over. I wanted to linger in the story, and in the lives  of the five women who were the main characters of the book, what better endorsement could you possibly give a book?

The book follows the lives of five women who live on the same beautiful street in Ireland. The women are friends, but they all have problems and secrets that they aren’t sharing with one another, until circumstances force hidden issues out in to the open. This is a book about how the support and understanding of people who care about you can help you through and make problems easier to bear.

The writing in this novel is very warm and engaging, it draws you in and holds you in its grasp throughout the book. As soon as I started reading, I was completely lost in the story, the world outside the book ceased to exist and I was totally engrossed in the world that the author created. Being pulled from the pages felt like a loss each time, and I couldn’t wait to get back into the story every time I had to put it down; I raced through the pages, whilst not wanting the story to end.

The characters are very well written and believable. I believed these women could exist and have the relationships and the problems that were featured in the book. Their lives perhaps are not extraordinary, or particularly exciting, but they were real and relatable and exactly the kind of thing that you or I might experience in our lives. I felt like they could be me and my friends and I loved reading about them as if they were my own friends.

Although the issues dealt with in the book may not seem earth-shattering to the outside world, the book deals with the type of things that can really rock the world of the woman involved, even if it is invisible to the outside world and makes little ripple in the fabric of  the universe outside of that life. It shows how people can be struggling in secret without anyone noticing the seismic things that are happening within them, and what a difference it can make when someone does notice and reaches out. The storylines were written so tenderly and with such empathy that there were many parts that truly moved me and had me welling up, a lump at the back of my throat. It is a really wonderful and well-written book that rewarded me in spades for picking it up.

I think this book has made it on to my list of my favourite reads of the year so far. It is charming, engaging, thought-provoking, uplifting and moving. The fact this is Emma’s final book lends it an additional poignancy and I really hope it is widely read. it deserves to be, and any reader will not regret picking it up.

The Gift of Friends is out now. I have bought a paperback copy and you should get one too. You can purchase the book here.

To read the reviews of the book by the other bloggers on the tour, please find their blog details below:

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About the Author

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Emma Hannigan was the No. 1 bestselling author of eleven novels including Letters to My Daughters, The Wedding Promise, The Perfect Gift, and The Summer Guest, as well as a memoir, All to Live For, which was about surviving an eleven year battle with cancer – facing cancer 10 separate times over the course of those years – and remaining strong, positive and warm. Very sadly, we have now lost Emma in the fight against cancer – she passed away at the end of February 2018.

The Gift of Friends went straight to number one on the bestseller lists in Ireland and has remained there ever since.

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One Last Greek Summer by Mandy Baggot #BookReview #BlogTour (@mandybaggot) @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #PublicationDay #NetGalley #OneLastGreekSummer

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Beth Martin is 31, newly divorced and wondering just what life holds for her…

Best-friend, Heidi, is adamant that all the answers lie in Corfu – the island where the girls’ partied away their youth.

So cue a trip to a sun-drenched Greek island, ouzo cocktails, a trip down memory lane…and Alex Hallas, the man Beth has never quite forgotten.

As they dance under the stars, the sand beneath their toes, old feelings begin to resurface and Beth might just have a chance to take back her life. If they can learn to love the people they’ve become…

Today is publication day for Mandy Baggot’s new book, One Last Greek Summer, and I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour to celebrate. Happy Publication Day, Mandy. My thanks to Victoria Joss at Head of Zeus for inviting me to take part and for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

You may or may not be aware, but I haven’t been able to read a book for five weeks. (If you are remotely interested in why, you can find out here) and this was the first book I picked up after my hiatus. What a delightful novel this was to ease myself back into the reading habit.

This is a sweet, gentle story of lost love, re-evaluating life and new beginnings and it was charming from start to finish. I loved the fact that this was not a book about twenty-somethings, but people slightly later on in life who have made mistakes, lived life a little and are making decisions based on experience and thought rather than impulse and dreams, although there is still some room for romance and dreams in the novel!

Set on the sun-drenched island of Corfu, the author does a wonderful job of transporting the reader into the heart of that beautiful place and surrounding them with all the sights, sounds and smells of Greece. I could almost smell the lemon groves and feel the sand between my toes. It really lifted my spirits after a trying period for me and I savoured every minute of it. This is the perfect book with which to kick off the summer holiday season.

There is nothing to dislike about the characters in this book. The heroine, Beth, is someone I connected with from the start of the book and I was fully invested throughout. Alex was attractive without being two-dimensional and I really believed in their romance and was willing them on. Heidi, Margalo and the goats provided a lot of fun throughout the book and the ‘villain’ was not really villainous to the point of caricature, which is sometimes the downfall of a romance novel, so all in all, this book was pretty perfect.

I thoroughly enjoyed One Last Greek Summer. It was easy reading from start to finish, well-paced throughout and the prose carried my through effortlessly. If someone is looking for a great, escapist read with a warming dose of romance and a really charming story, you won’t do better. I highly recommend it.

One Last Greek Summer is out now and you can buy a copy here.

This book is taking an extended tour, so make sure you check out the rest of the blogs taking part over the next few weeks:

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About the Author

Mandy Baggot

Mandy Baggot is an international bestselling and award-winning romance writer. The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy’s books have so far been translated into German, Italian, Czech and Hungarian. Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.

Connect with Mandy:

Website: http://mandybaggot.com

Facebook: Mandy Baggot Author

Twitter: @mandybaggot

Instagram: @mandybaggot

 

Amazing Grace by Kim Nash #BookReview #BlogTour (@KimTheBookworm) @HeraBooks @RaRaResources @RNATweets #RachelsRandomResources #NetGalley #AmazingGrace

Amazing Grace

I don’t think I have ever been as excited for a blog tour as I am to be taking part in this one. It is always so fantastic to see a fellow blogger succeed in their ambition to get published, but Kim is also a fellow RNA member and someone I have worked with in her role as publicity manager for Bookouture, so I am thrilled to be able to shout out in support of her debut novel. So delighted for you, Kim! My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for granting me one of the coveted places on the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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She’s taking her life back, one step at a time…

Grace thought she had it all. Living in the beautiful village of Little Ollington, along with head teacher husband Mark and gorgeous son, Archie, she devoted herself to being the perfect mum and the perfect wife, her little family giving her everything she ever wanted. 

Until that fateful day when she walked in on Mark kissing his secretary – and her perfect life fell apart.

Now she’s a single mum to Archie, trying to find her way in life and keep things together for his sake. Saturday nights consist of a Chinese takeaway eaten in front of the TV clad in greying pyjamas, and she can’t remember the last time she had a kiss from anyone aside from her dog, Becks… 

Grace’s life needs a shake up – fast. So when gorgeous gardener Vinnie turns up on her doorstep, his twinkling eyes suggesting that he might be interested in more than just her conifers, she might just have found the answer to her prayers. But as Grace falls deeper for Vinnie, ten-year-old Archie fears that his mum finding love means she’ll never reconcile with the dad he loves. 

So when ex-husband Mark begs her for another chance, telling her he’s changed from the man that broke her heart, Grace finds herself with an impossible dilemma. Should she take back Mark and reunite the family that Archie loves? Or risk it all for a new chance of happiness? 

A funny, feel good romance about finding your own path and changing your life for the better.

Of course, one of the risks of agreeing to a review a book for a friend and colleague is the danger that you won’t enjoy it and will have to work out how to review it honestly and tactfully at the same time. Thankfully, this was not an issue here because I absolutely loved Amazing Grace.

The main character in this book, Grace, was someone I related to immediately on a personal level, she was so convincingly drawn. A single parent following divorce, she is now trying to juggle job, life, friends and solo parenting her son, Archie. She has let herself go a bit and the last thing on her mind is finding a new man, especially when the old one is still trying to convince her to have him back. The dilemmas that Grace faces are ones that I, as a divorcee single mother myself, recognise only too well. Trying to balance parenthood with maintaining a sense of self, alongside the constant worry about whether you are doing the best thing for your children and that insidious, ever-present sense of guilt. Kim has captured all of this perfectly in the book, it speaks loudly to any woman who has found themselves in this situation.

There are so many characters to love in this book, each of them drawn clearly and convincingly. I am sure you will recognise someone you know amongst the meddling friend, the helpful neighbours, the unsuitable men, and the many others who people the pages. Kim obviously has a real eye for drawing out character traits and balancing realism with a healthy dash of humour which made reading about them a delight.

The story is a fairly simple one, but that is not a negative. It is what makes the story so believable, what will make you see some reflection of your own life somewhere between the pages. Most of us are not spies, or policemen, or criminals, of glamorous jet setters, but our lives, our problems, are no less interesting or taxing because they are played out on a small scale. For every individual, the stakes are the same. In the end, we all just want to be happy and this goal is what will link every reader to Grace and make them invested in her story.

What I was most surprised about was how incredibly moving I found the book, and Kim’s writing. I found myself very close to tears in parts, which just indicates how deeply the story touched me. There were other parts where I was screaming at Grace when I feared she was going to make the wrong decision or when she did something silly that looked like it was going to cause a problem for her. Luckily I managed to keep all of this drama internal so people around me didn’t think I was going mad, but these characters were totally alive to me whilst I was in the world of the story, which is quite an achievement.

This is a beautiful, warm, funny, charming and intensely touching book that I would not hesitate to recommend, whoever had written it. I could not be more pleased that it happened to be Kim.

Amazing Grace is out now and you cam buy a copy here.

To check out the rest of the reviews on the tour, please do visit the blogs listed below:

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About the Author

Amazin Grace - Kim Nash author photo

Kim Nash lives in Staffordshire with son Ollie and English Setter Roni, is PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture and is a book blogger at www.kimthebookworm.co.uk.

Kim won the Romantic Novelists Association’s Media Star of the Year in 2016, which she still can’t quite believe. She is now quite delighted to be a member of the RNA.

When she’s not working or writing, Kim can be found walking her dog, reading, standing on the sidelines of a football pitch cheering on Ollie and binge watching box sets on the TV. She’s also quite partial to a spa day and a gin and tonic (not at the same time!) Kim also runs a book club in Cannock, Staffs.

Amazing Grace is her debut novel with Hera Books

Connect with Kim:

Website: https://www.kimthebookworm.co.uk

Facebook: Kim The Bookworm

Twitter: @KimTheBookworm

Instagram: @Kim_the_bookworm

 

The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves #BookReview #BlogTour (@tgarvisgraves) @orionbooks @AlainnaGeorgiou @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders #NetGalley #TheGirlHeUsedToKnow

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What if you had a second chance at first love?

Annika Rose likes being alone.

She feels lost in social situations, saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way. She just can’t read people. She prefers the quiet solitude of books or playing chess to being around others. Apart from Jonathan. She liked being around him, but she hasn’t seen him for ten years. Until now that is. And she’s not sure he’ll want to see her again after what happened all those years ago.

Annika Rose likes being alone.

Except that, actually, she doesn’t like being alone at all.

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves. My thanks Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me on to the tour and to Orion for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This book totally took me by surprise to be honest. I thought it was just going to be a straight forward romance, and it certainly started out that way, and then it became one of those books that just grabs your heart and compels you to keep reading. I ended up staying up until three a.m. to finish it and I don’t regret it for a second.

The main character is Annika, a girl who isn’t quite like everyone else. She has always been branded weird and has severe social anxiety, so has led a sheltered life without friends until she goes to college, where she finally finds a couple of people who understand her and help her come out of her shell.

One of these is Jonathan, a boy she meets at chess club, who finally seems to be someone who can accept her and love her for who she really is. But then, something happens that sends their relationship off the rails and they part and don’t see each other for ten years until fate brings them together again and they try and find out if they can work through what went wrong all those years ago.

This is a split timeline book, as we follow events while Annika and Jonathan are at college, and then when they meet again ten years later, so we can see how they have both changed over that time. The structure works really well and was very clear and easy to follow. I connected with Annika’s character immediately, even though she is someone who walks her own path. She is someone you can’t help wanting to protect, and for things to go right for her because she is such a sweet and gentle person, who is just out of step with the rest of the world. Jonathan was a bit more of a problematic character as, although he was good to Annika and she loved him, I had glimpses of times when he needed things from her that weren’t quite true to herself. However, it was obvious that the relationship has certain unique difficulties for him, so I guess that was only to be expected and was kind of the point, showing the challenges of being in love with someone that doesn’t quite fit in to the definition of the norm.

The plot of this book is very gentle most of the way through, which was not a problem, I loved it for what it was and would have been happy if it had carried on that way to the end. The writer is very accomplished and her portrayal of two people and their relationship was enough for me to enjoy the book just for that. However, something then happens that jolted me out of my complacency and took the book to a totally new place and a different level that I was not expecting. The last 20% of the book had an extremely dramatic effect on me, hence the late night reading binge, and elevated the reading experience to something quite out of the ordinary. It is difficult for me to say more without giving away any spoilers, you will have to read it for yourself. I read another review of this book that said this book contained no surprises. I can honestly say this absolutely was not true for me (maybe other readers are more astute), the ending was like a punch to the gut.

This book deals with some sensitive issues and some things which some people may find problematic or upsetting. I applaud the writer’s bravery in tackling them, I think these are things that need to be written about and we, as readers, should not shy away from reading books with tough themes. These things are the truth of human experience and by engaging with them, we can only gain insight into and empathy for our fellow man. I have to say that some of the issues discussed are not ones with which I have had personal experience so, although they felt authentic and sensitively handled to me, I am not really in a position to attest to whether this is actually the case.

I thought this book was quite stunning. It stood out as something very different and brilliantly written. I was left feeling like the time I invested in this book had been repaid tenfold by the reading experience and I am excited to find a new writer that I can’t wait to read more of. Please read it.

The Girls He Used To Know is out now in ebook and in August in paperback and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, please check out the other blogs taking part as detailed below:

The Girl He Used to Know blog tour v2

About the Author

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Tracey Garvis Graves is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into thirty-one languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author of Uncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, Cherish, Heart-Shaped Hack, White-Hot Hack, and The Girl He Used to Know. She is hard at work on her next book.

Connect with Tracey:

Website: https://traceygarvisgraves.com

Facebook: T Garvis Graves

Twitter: @tgarvisgraves

Instagram: @traceygarvisgraves