Blog Tour Review: Peanuts and Eggcups by Sara Mendes da Costa

Peanuts & Egg Cups FRONT.JPG

Blurb:   For Maggie Parsons there’s only ever been one man: the stunningly delicious Luke Henderson. Unfortunately, he left her, without explanation, after their ‘first night’ together …breaking her heart in the process.

Now ten years on, without any contact, he’s back and going to her school reunion. Great! And, to confuse matters…so is his suave, sexy, brother Tony who makes a major play for Maggie, then turns up with his insufferable – supposedly ex – fiancée!

Via the reunion, a black eye, getting the sack (as a result) a madcap girlie holiday and juggling her confused emotions around the two alluring brothers…Maggie starts to build a picture of what she really wants in life.

Trouble is, Maggie’s a pawn in a game she doesn’t even know she’s playing …and things are about to get a whole lot more complicated.

Available from Amazon UK

 

My Rating: 3.5/5

Review:  When I read the blurb for this book I thought it sounded light and funny would be a good read to counteract books like Valentina that get you gripped and so involved that you almost forget to breathe while reading.  However, in order for the book to be what I expected I would have to like or have some sympathy for the main character and in this case I didn’t.  While she did grow on me through the story and it was good to see her character develop I didn’t take to her at all, I found her childish, immature and unable to think for herself for a good part of the book.

Maggie has a job she doesn’t seem to enjoy but then loses it for arriving one day with a black eye, which leads to her temping (after a bit) and starting to realise, with the help of her friends, that she needs to find something that she wants to do, not get a job just to pay the bills.  I liked that she realised this and decided to do something about it.  This realisation as well as a few guiding nudges from friends seems to have been the starting point in her beginning to think more for herself and become a bit more mature.  There were quite a lot of stories in this book that involved Maggie in some way and that was my other problem with the book.  For me it was simply far too long, most of the books I have that are similar to this are around the 500 page mark whereas this came in at a little over 700 and I think those extra 200 pages simply complicated things.  There was a lot of description in the book, which I found unecessary so if that was reduced and the page count lowered I think the book would work much better, at times I felt like I was reading and reading but not actually making any progress.

Don’t get me wrong, this is  not a bad book at all, if it were I would have given it a far lower rating, it just didn’t work for me.  The pace did improve later on and things fairly whizzed along then with secrets being revealed and confusions being sorted out but that wasn’t enough to save it for me.  I think this book might be better for the New Adult market where people are just starting to discover what the world of work is like and that making your own decisions is important for your own happiness.  This is definitely a book that will appeal to many, sadly though I wasn’t one of them.

 

Many thanks to Authoright for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Peanuts and Eggcups Banner

About Sara Mendes da Costa

Sara Mendes da Costa is the voice of the BT Speaking Clock; the fourth person to hold this prestigious title since 1936.

A successful, world-renowned voiceover artist, her dulcet tones are easily recognisable on television, radio, film and across countless media.

Never far from the press, she’s known for her appearances on BBC Breakfast, ITV This Morning, Children in Need, Wake up to Wogan and The Today Programme, and balances her prolific voiceover career with her passion and commitment as a novelist.

Peanuts & Eggcups, her debut novel – hotly anticipated by the industry – is “The perfect & highly addictive reading companion for women’s fiction fans”. `

A lover of laughter, creativity, great storytelling and a wee dram, Sara adores writing novels and seeks to entertain, uplift and inspire.

Her upcoming novels: Time & Time Again & Maggie Ever After, are expected in 2017.

Visit: www.saramendesdacosta.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/speakingclock.saramendesdacosta

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BTSpeakingClock

Blog Tour Review: Valentina by S.E. Lynes

Valentina by S. E. Lynes – Blog Tour

Blurb: When  Glasgow journalist  Shona McGilvery moves with her partner  Mikey  and their baby to an idyllic cottage in rural Scotland, they believe that all that lies ahead of them is happiness.

But with Mikey working offshore, the  frightening  isolation of the Aberdeenshire  countryside begins to drive her insane…

That is, until she is rescued by a new friendship with the enchanting Valentina.

She has the perfect home, the perfect man, and a charismatic new best friend – or does she?

As her fairytale life begins to unravel, the deep dark wood becomes the least of her fears…

My Rating: 5/5

Review: When I heard about this book I was intrigued not least because I live in a cottage in rural Scotland and know Aberdeen reasonably well, but I also liked the sound of the story so when I got the option to review it and take part in the blog tour I couldn’t possibly turn it down.

Moving from somewhere built up and busy, especially a city like Glasgow, to the countryside is a big shock to the system, even more so when you move to a new area like Aberdeenshire where you are away from friends and family.  Aberdeen to Glasgow is about a 3-4 hour drive if there are no major delays or roadworks so it’s not easy for Shona to simply pop home to her family and friends after moving so far away.  That distance and the isolation  of the cottage does nothing to help her settle in.  Neither does the quiet that you get in the countryside, at night there is simply no sound except for owls and other animals and that can come as a massive shock if you aren’t used to it.  For me this isolation, sudden change of environment and feeling of being stranded miles from anywhere came across quite clearly in the book.  I love where I live but it isn’t for everyone and Shona clearly struggles being on her own in the cottage with a 4 month old and being overtired.  Deciding to put Isla into childcare for a few hours so she can get out of the house, Shona meets Valentina who becomes her new best friend.  The two bond over their children who are a similar age, and the fact that neither of them grew up in the area and from that their friendship grows.  However there is more to this story than a friendship and for that you will need to read the book  because if I say more I risk spoiling it and I definitely don’t want to do that.

From my rating you’ll already have guessed that I loved this book and you’d be correct.  I would have finished it in a day had I not ended up being distracted by a sick pet and then been too tired to continue reading.  The story grabs you from the first page and then continues to drag you in further as it goes on.  There were times I guessed at what was happening and in some cases I was right or not far off but still I kept reading because there were still so many twists, surprises and lies to come.  When I was anything up to 50% through I though I had an idea of where the story was going but while I was partially correct I was still way off in some respects, there were so many things that I hadn’t even considered.  Most of the story is Shona’s which had me wondering why the book was called Valentina because she didn’t seem to have much of a role in all of this but that’s where I was wrong. While she may not be in the story as much as Shona is her part in it is pivotal, she is involved far more than is immediately obvious and there is so much more depth to her that becomes apparent later, without her the story would be quite flat and boring, her involvement is what makes it what it is.

I loved the writing style.  I also liked the way we got little sections of a page or two of an event that clearly came later and that the story was leading up to, there was enough of that to pique my interest but not so much that it was entirely obvious what was going on or who was doing it.  The characters were well rounded though Mikey was a bit irritating and I shouted at Shona a few times for apologising for things that were not her fault but those things just made them more realistic for me.  I liked that some parts of Aberdeen were used and, for anyone who has visited or lives there, would be easily recognisable.  While  I have nothing against fictional towns and cities in books I felt that the use of a real one here gave it more depth and anchored the story more than a fictional city might.  I also liked the ending, for me it fitted with everything else and was, I feel, the best solution to the problem.

This book is getting a lot of praise and quite rightly so, for a debut book it is quite simply astonishingly brilliant. This is one of the best books I have read this year so far and given I’m currently on book 62 that is not a comment to be taken lightly.  If you want a psychological thriller that will draw you in, keep you guessing all the way through and have you lose track of time then this is probably the book for you.  I’m thrilled I agreed to be part of this blog tour and I will definitely be looking out for future books by this author, definitely one to watch.

Many thanks to Blackbird Digital books for letting me have a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

BLOG TOUR: A Summer of Secrets by Alice Ross

summer of secrets for JENNY

Blurb: A perfect, feel-good summer read about love, life and family.
One long hot summer. Secrets never stay buried for long…

Portia is determined to restore Buttersley Manor, her family’s crumbling ancestral home, to its former glory. Yet she has a feeling that there are a few forgotten skeletons in the dust-covered cupboards.

Jenny has put her life on hold for far too long. It’s time to finally start living and to dig up those hopes and dreams she’s kept hidden all these years – but is she brave enough?

Rich is happily married with a beautiful wife and lovely daughter. In fact, his world is perfect until a very unexpected consequence of his past walks through the door…

Joe would like nothing more than to travel back in time to when he and Gina were happy. But is it too late to rescue what they once had?

One thing’s for sure, nothing’s ever quite what it seems when it comes to life in the country!

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29754421-a-summer-of-secrets?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Secrets-Countryside-Dreams-Book-2-ebook/dp/B01D4WLZ9A?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&linkCode=as2&redirect=true&ref_=x_gr_w_bb&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21

A Summer of Secrets

My Rating: 4/5

Review:  I really enjoyed this book, the setting and the characters were quite realistic although I have to admit Jenny and Joe were my favourites.  Their stories were so believable that you wanted the best for them.  The intertwining of some of the stories brought it all together and set it really well in the location and gave context and depth to the book overall.  There were quite a lot of  characters in the book but because of the context they were placed in and because their stories were so different it never got confusing as to who was doing what.

I liked the conclusions that each persons story came to, each one fitted well with what the character was trying to achieve and with the confines of the story.  The one thing that I found disappointing and prevents me from rating this any higher was that I felt it was too short and a bit rushed.  There was a lovely build up and explanation of how each person got to where they were and where they wanted to go next, they started making progress towards their goals and then suddenly the stories wound up and the book ended.  I think if this book were to have an extra 50-100 pages then there could be more depth to the “trying to achieve their goals” part of the book and it would end less abruptly.

Having said that the abrupt ending didn’t detract from the fact that this is a lovely summer read.  It’s perfect for a hazy, lazy day outside with a cool drink.  There are parts that will make you laugh out loud and others that will have you cheering people on.  This is a easy, light read that is ideal for a bit of realistic escapism (sounds contradictory I know, but it’s true) and despite my feelings about the length of this book I will definitely be reading other books by this author.

 

71Su7BjlCaL._UX250_About Alice Ross

Alice Ross used to work in the financial services industry where she wrote riveting, enthralling brochures about pensions and ISAs that everyone read avidly and no one ever put straight into the bin.

One day, when nobody was looking, she managed to escape. Dragging her personal chef (aka her husband) along with her, she headed to Spain, where she began writing witty, sexy, romps designed to amuse slightly more than pension brochures.

Missing Blighty (including the weather – but don’t tell anyone), she returned five years later and now works part-time in the tourism industry.

When not writing, she can be found scratching out a tune on her violin, walking her dog in wellies two sizes too big (don’t ask!), or standing on her head in a yoga pose.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AliceRoss22

Website: www.alicerossauthor.co.uk

 

 

Stacking the Shelves

stacking the shelves

Stacking the Shelves (hosted by Tynga’s reviews) is about sharing all of the books you have received in the past week whether they are physical books or ebooks.

As I’ve recently decided not to accept any review requests or buy any more books until I’ve caught up with my tbr pile I haven’t received many books recently.  This post is therefore not a weekly one this time it’s covering books I have received this month which includes blog tour books and books that I agreed to receive in advance of my reviewing decision.

Books I have bought

A Fine House in Trinity

 

Only one book bought this month because of my decision to focus on my tbr pile.  This however, is exempt because this is my book group choice for July.  Really looking forward to reading this.

 

 

 

 

ARCs I have received

RebeccaRaisin-LittleAntiqueShop

Peanuts & Eggcups by [da Costa, Sara Mendes]

The Sender

Buy Buy Baby   The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club (Luna Bay, Book 2)

 

The Irish Inheritance: A Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Review: It Started at Sunset Cottage by Bella Osborne

It Started at Sunset Cottage

Blurb: Kate Marshall is slowly getting her life back on track after losing her fiancé. As an author she has been able to hide herself away from the world and its expectations – but now one of her books has been optioned for a film and Hollywood suddenly comes knocking on her door!

When Kate is given the opportunity to stay at a beautiful country retreat and concentrate on the screenplay, it’s an offer she can’t refuse. Encouraged by her best friend, sharp-tongued single mum Sarah, Kate sees it’s finally time to stop letting life pass her by.

Looking for confidence and inspiration in the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, the last thing Kate expects is for Timothy Calder, A-list actor and leading man in the movie adaptation of her book, to turn up on her doorstep, hoping to lie low after his latest tabloid scandal! But after a rocky start, with Tim narrowly avoiding death by watering can, they find they have a few things in common: a liking for Lady Grey tea, walnut whips and bad ‘knock knock’ jokes. Actually, the bad jokes are just Tim.

As an unlikely friendship begins to blossom, and with circumstances repeatedly throwing them together, is Sunset Cottage where both Kate and Tim’s lives will really start?

 

My Rating: 3/5

Review: Having read a few review/blog tour books in a row I decided to pick my next read from my own shelves and chose this.  I wanted something light and easy to read and I definitely got it with this book.  This is a lovely story of someone who has had a major loss and is starting to live their life again.  I liked the premise of the story and most of the characters but I found there were too many of them and the story jumped from one character to another and from one day/time to the next with no warning at all which made it confusing at times as to what was going on.  There are definitely some funny events in the book, the opening pages being one of them and it a nice, easy read but for me it was lacking a few things.  It was almost as if there were two stories being told, Kate’s and Sarah’s. While the book blurb focuses on Kate the book itself seems to be split equally between her story and Sarah’s.  Sarah has a lovely daughter Amy (one of the best characters in the book) and a not so lovely ex, Shaun.  Despite trying to move on with her life Shaun insists on causing trouble and making things difficult.  Sarah has lots of support from Andy, who is the brother of Kate’s fiance, but whether he is just there for support or whether there is more to it remains to be seen.  This side of the book is well-written and funny and could possibly have been a separate story altogether.

The main reason, for there are a few, for my rating of this book was the relationship between Kate and Tim.  I could understand, to a point, that they were friends but I couldn’t see anything that hinted at anything more, there was no spark, nothing.   I have no idea what Kate or anyone else would see in Tim, he was shallow, self-centered and almost obnoxious at times.  He didn’t grow as a character at all, he said a few things that would suggest he had changed but then he would act like he believed that money solves everything (it doesn’t) which contrasted hugely with this supposed change in him.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of positives in this book.  The story between Sarah, Shaun and Andy was good and overall the book was well written but there were too many characters, too many points of view and it between that and Tim’s character the book just didn’t stick with me after I’d finished it.

 

Review: Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson

Snowblind (Dark Iceland)

Blurb: Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik – with a past that he’s unable to leave behind. When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theatre, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life. An avalanche and unremitting snowstorms close the mountain pass, and the 24-hour darkness threatens to push Ari over the edge, as curtains begin to twitch, and his investigation becomes increasingly complex, chilling and personal. Past plays tag with the present and the claustrophobic tension mounts, while Ari is thrust ever deeper into his own darkness – blinded by snow, and with a killer on the loose.

My Rating: 5/5

Review: Ok, so I realise I’m a little late in discovering this book and I admit I read it a few weeks ago and due to personal stuff haven’t been able to write a review till now, however I think both of those things have worked in my favour. I saw the clamour and rave reviews about Nightblind (book 2) months ago but wasn’t in a position to read it then and, in any case, I wanted to read Snowblind first so it took a while for me to get round to discovering Icelandic crime.

As you can tell from my rating I loved this book. I was a bit dubious to start with because it is different from the usual police procedurals that I read but the writing hooked me and slowly drew me into this unfamiliar snowy land where things are similar but different from what I know.  I know, for instance, what it’s like to have 15/16 hours of darkness every day during winter so I had some idea of how Ari Thor felt in that respect but I don’t live somewhere with mountains dominating the view, almost constant snow, or the only road to anywhere else being closed. However, due to the excellent writing I felt Ari Thor’s claustrophobia and anxiety as he experienced these.  I think I would have felt them even more had I not read this book in the spring so I’m considering keeping Nightblind for a few more months to experience the full power of the environment.

On the whole I liked the characters in the book even though I disagreed with a few of their decisions, especially some of  Ari Thor’s but I think that is more down to his lack of life experience than anything else and that can change in time.  I liked the way his character developed and grew over the course of the book and I’m looking forward to watching that progress further in Nightblind.  What struck me most about him was that he asked questions and took on board the answers, despite everything he learned he never assumed anything, and the quiet cleverness that he has definitely makes him stand out from other fictional police detectives.

There are lots of little stories intertwined in this book.  It never rushes you but takes you through everything at a pace that is easy to follow but also draws you in until you have no choice but to continue reading because it feels as if the rest of the world has ceased to exist.  I found when I was reading that I lost track of things, I was reading when it was daylight yet upon looking up from the book I was always momentarily confused at seeing bright skies and no snow.  The mysteries themselves are laid out in such a way that you guess, you wonder if perhaps it was him, maybe when they did that he….but maybe not….perhaps it was her instead…..what does that mean…..wait a minute!…..no, that’s not right either…..I like her, I hope it wasn’t her……oh, this interesting!…..and on it goes, page after page of thoughts like those, constantly questioning and wondering and waiting for Ari Thor to figure out because somehow you know he will.

It’s fair to say that this won’t be to everyone’s taste, some people won’t like the pace or the writing style or various other things but if you like crime fiction this is definitely worth a try and who knows, you might love it!

 

Both Snowblind and Nightblind are out now in paperback and kindle and a third book, Blackout is out soon.

BLOGIVAL REVIEW: Dance with the Enemy by Rob Sinclair

Dance with the Enemy (The Enemy #1)

Blurb:  Carl Logan was the perfect agent. A loner, with no real friends or family, he was trained to deal with any situation with cold efficiency, devoid of emotion. But Logan isn’t the man he used to be, or the asset he once was. Five months ago his life changed forever when he was captured, tortured and left for dead by Youssef Selim, one of the world’s most violent terrorists. When Selim mysteriously reappears in Paris, linked to the kidnapping of America’s Attorney General, Logan smells his chance for revenge. Pursuing his man relentlessly, oblivious to the growing trail of destruction that he leaves in his wake, Logan delves increasingly deep into the web of lies and deceit surrounding the kidnapping. Finally, he comes to learn just what it means to Dance with the Enemy.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Review:  It’s been a while since I’ve read a fast-paced action thriller like this so when I saw the most recent book in this series on offer as part of Blogival I was very interested but, not keen on starting a series midway I was generously offered this book instead, the first in the series and I have to say reading this has added a few more books to my already enormous tbr pile.  Previous to reading this I’ve watched the Jason Bourne films and read a lot of Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone series (I really need to get back to them!).  This book reminded me a lot of the Bourne films and Cotton Malone, it’s a good mix of their best features; the fast pace and skills of Bourne combined with more fast paced but detailed storytelling from Steve Berry.

The action starts almost straight away, a few pages in there is the kidnapping of the US Attorney General in Paris, which is done in a way that would grab the attention of the world, were it real, and grabs the readers attention at the same time because there is so much going on you can’t help but read, or inhale, every word.  Despite the mass of action the human element is still retained and we see and feel the fear of the Attorney General and others with him as the kidnappers carry out their plan.  I liked that this human element is retained all through the book, the main character Carl Logan is clearly not perfect. Something that happened a few months ago has damaged him and makes him a risk for his organisation despite him possibly being the best person for the job of tracking down and recovering the Attorney General.  We get glimpses of what happened to Logan through the book and a picture builds up and you realise why he is the way he is now.

I have to admit it took me a while to get into this book because I was reading it while I was ill and it’s not the easiest book to read when your concentration is compromised.  However, it is doable and once I got a bit further into it my fuzzy head didn’t get in the way of me being caught up in the action again.  There are a few scenes in the book which are very relevant to today’s world, the belief is that terrorists are involved in the kidnapping. There is a lot of speculation over that, some discussions of what were, at the time of writing/publication current issues but these for me did not detract from the story or the pace of it, they added to the general background and depth and gave me space to breathe before Logan was back in pursuit of the kidnappers, the man who left him for dead months ago and the other people who are trying to kill him.

This is one of those books that you read barely noticing the pages turning, almost not breathing because you want to know what happens next, what’s round that corner, will the ‘bad guy’ catch them, who fired that gun. I think you get the idea!  If you want something fast-paced and well-written this is definitely worth a try, just make sure you have a few hours free because once you get into it you won’t want to put it down.

Many thanks to Rachel at Authoright for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Author Bio: Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller.

Rob’s first novel, Dance with the Enemy, was published in June 2014 and is the first in the Enemy Series following embattled intelligence agent Carl Logan. Rise of the Enemy, the second book in the series, was released in April 2015, with the third book, Hunt for the Enemy, being released in February 2016. The Enemy series has received widespread critical acclaim with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob’s work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn.

Rob worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. He now writes full time.

Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RSinclairAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rob-Sinclair-746087495413628/

Website www.robsinclairauthor.com

 

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