Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Book review: Give Me The Child - Mel McGrath

An unexpected visitor.

Dr Cat Lupo aches for another child, despite the psychosis which marked her first pregnancy. So when Ruby Winter, a small girl in need of help, arrives in the middle of the night, it seems like fate.

A devastating secret.

But as the events behind Ruby’s arrival emerge – her mother’s death, her connection to Cat – Cat questions whether her decision to help Ruby has put her own daughter at risk.

Do we get the children we deserve?

Cat’s research tells her there’s no such thing as evil. Her history tells her she’s paranoid. But her instincts tell her different. And as the police fight to control a sudden spate of riots raging across the capital, Cat faces a race against time of her own…

My opinion.
Give Me The Child is an incredibly gripping read which will haunt you and won't let you rest before you've finished reading it. 
I just couldn't put this down. It's incredibly intense and at times so very frustrating, but every time I thought I might take a break from this story, I ended up reading another 10 chapters. 
The element of personality disorders, psychoses and mental manipulation make this book gripping and terrifying at the same time. When one of the characters gets pushed into a corner, unable to intervene, discredited and shut out, the book gets frustrating. But all the same, unputdownable. You just have to get to the end to be able to sleep. 
Give Me The Child kept surprising me and got me hooked until the very last page. I most definitely lost sleep over this one.

Give Me The Child is out 27 July.
Pre-order now!


Thank you to @HQStories for this ARC.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Book Blitz: Summer at Buttercup Beach - Holly Martin (Hope Island #2)


Pull up a deck chair and bask in the beautiful sunshine on Buttercup Beach. The sand is warm, the sea is sparkling blue and romance is sizzling in the air… 

For two years Freya Greene has hidden the fact that she’s totally and utterly in love with her best friend Rome Lancaster. It’s not been easy – they work together in his glasswork business, she lives above his workshop and, he’s completely gorgeous. But Rome has never shown any sign of returning those feelings. Until now… 

Lately they’ve shared affectionate touches and words heavy with meaning. Yet Freya knows Rome has a damaged heart. After losing his fiancé in a tragic accident, he’s not allowed himself to fall in love. 

Freya has already had her heart broken by a man who couldn’t let go of a past love. Can she risk it happening again? Rome and Freya have a friendship that could blossom into something more. Are they both brave enough to take that chance? 

My opinion.
Holly, Holly, Holly. You have yet to write a book I don't absolutely love from the moment I start reading it. After reading the first installment in the Hope Island series (Spring At Blueberry Bay) I knew Rome and Freya's story would be just as perfect. And I was right.
Eventhough you had a pretty good idea of how their story would end, as with every Holly Martin book you're never quite sure about the journey that's going to get them there. Surprising twists, unexpected bumps in the road,... Always interesting and never predictable.
Holly's characters always feel real and honest, their passion and love tangible and their conversations genuine and believable.
Love can be the most amazing thing, and yet slowly destroy you. Both Freya and Rome know this, each from their own terrible experiences in the past. They both struggle with their feelings for each other and it's knowing how much they've been hurt before - and thanks to Holly Martin's fabulous writing - actually almost feeling their hurt, that makes Rome and Freya's love story even more intense and romantic. 
I could not put this book down. I cried, laughed and swooned. Absolutely and completely in love with Rome... and Hope Island. I already marked my calendar for the next release.


the gorgeously romantic first installment in the Hope Island series

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Book review: The Killing Grounds - Jack Ford (Thomas Cooper #1)


Ex-US Navy-turned-investigator Thomas J. Cooper is tortured by the past.

A deadly fight with Somali pirates and a tragic accident at sea have left him struggling with PTSD and an addiction to prescription drugs.

When he and his colleague Maddie return to the Democratic Republic of Congo to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a plane, what they find is far more sinister and dangerous…

My opinion.
Where to even begin. The Killing Grounds is a thrilling read with such a complex and multi-layered plot, it's difficult to just sum my reading experience up in a few sentences.
First things first: I love the cover. Great design - stands out without being too loud. The same goes for the blurb. It gives you just enough to draw you in, but not too much as to give away too much of the story-line. Perfect balance.
As I mentioned before, the story is pretty complex. There's lots of different characters, each with their own secrets, but also with their own dynamics between them. I can't say all of them came across right away (the dynamic between Cooper and Maddie is a tough one for me to really understand, and Rosedale took some getting used to as well), but slowly they all find their place in the story. The same goes for the complex puzzle they stumble upon in Congo. What starts out as a pretty straight forward mission soon becomes complicated, dangerous and very unpredictable. The plot grows bigger and more detailed and when it finally clicks.. well, it left me amazed and surprised.
The beginning of the story is a bit confusing with a lot of new characters and a lot of (unfinished) conversations. As a reader you get some hints about what happened in the past between these characters, but the emotions run high from the very beginning. And those more "heated" discussions or dialogues made it a bit difficult to find your bearing.
I was hooked from the moment their mission started and I have a feeling I will think back on this book, long after turning that last page. Because apart from some more "difficult" dynamics and dialogues between the characters, this was a thrilling read. The Killing Grounds has relationships, politics - both US and international - violence, grief, addiction, religion and superstition and so much more at its heart, all with an incredible amount of research and detail. I would definitely love to revisit Thomas Cooper in Jack Ford's upcoming novels.


Thank you HQ Stories for the opportunity 
to read and review an ARC of this thrilling read.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Book review: The Program - Suzanne Young (The Program #1)

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in.

And The Program is coming for them.

My opinion.
I remember a fellow book blogger raving about this book a couple of years ago. Both the title, the cover and blurb stood out to me back then and apparently left an impression, because when I accidentally stumbled upon 'The Program' at the library, I just knew I had to read this.
I'm not sure it completely lived up to my expectations of it. Meaning that reading the book didn't really have the same impact on me as I thought it would - or as hearing about it when it first came out did. 
That being said, the story is pretty brilliant. Not only does it raise the issue of mental health, it also pinpoints one of the main issues surrounding mental health: it's not talked about enough. Whether this has to do with shame, misconceptions, fear or the lack of trust, the topic is still too much of a taboo.
In Sloane's world The Program controls everything and with the threat of taking all their memories away, it suppresses Sloane, or anyone else, showing true emotions and honesty. So with the notion of The Program facilities, the yellow scrubs and horrible pills, this story is set in a different reality... but to me, this reality created by the Program is in a way an enlargement of how people struggling with mental health issues or depression may feel suppressed, stigmatized or scared to show honesty.
It's a powerful message, mixed with a touching story about how some connections run deeper than remembering anecdotes, how remembering a feeling can be just as powerful as remembering certain truths. How people can still find their way back to each other despite obstacles thrown in their way. 
So even though I don't feel the typical post-reading-YA-series-addiction, I'm really happy I read this book and I'll be very tempted to pick up the next books in the series to find out more about what happens to Sloane and James after The Program. 


Thursday, 1 June 2017

Book review: Annie's Lovely Choir by the Sea - Liz Eeles (Salt Bay, #1)

Prepare to be whisked away to the Cornish seaside, where clear blue skies, crashing waves, and a welcoming choir await you. 

Annie Trebarwith has no family to tie her down, and she likes it that way. But when a letter arrives, unexpectedly inviting her to visit her great aunt Alice in her family’s ancestral home, curiosity gets the better of her and she travels to deepest Cornwall to meet the family she’s never known. 

Salt Bay is beautiful and Tregavara House imposing – but there’s no phone signal and some of the locals, like the gorgeous but brooding Josh, are incredibly grumpy. But Alice’s poor health compels Annie to stay, so to keep herself busy she relaunches the Salt Bay Choral Society

Annie is surprised to see how much the choir means to the community, and she even starts to break through Josh’s surly exterior. As she begins to put down roots in Salt Bay, Annie soon realises that there’s a lot to be said for finding the place where you belong after all… 

My opinion.
A commitment phobic heroine who detests the countryside... Not particularly traits I can relate to so I have to say I was a bit hesitant at the start of this. But all of a sudden I found myself, hours later and more than half of the story finished, apparently completely fallen in love with the Salt Bay and it's inhabitants - I hadn't been able to put the book down.
I was drawn to Liz Eeles' Salt Bay from the moment Annie arrived. It sets the scene for a wonderful, tight little community where - in the end - everyone looks out for one another. With a loud, bubbly Aussie best friend and an Aidan Turner look-alike neighbour, the countryside is proving a lot more interesting and surprising than Londoner Annie would have thought. As she gets to know the people in Salt Bay better, the sense of family and community is really strong and is bound to rub off on her... right?! How could you not love a place like Salt Bay...
Love, friendship, family, loss, grief and hope all come together in this lovely read.
Not the most original or memorable of stories, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Annie's Lovely Choir By The Sea. A fun, relaxing read that had me blink away a couple of tears at the end.
There might be a bit much title for me, to be honest, but the cute summery cover makes up for the blurb-like-title.


Monday, 10 April 2017

Book tour: Spring at Blueberry Bay - Holly Martin (Hope Island #1)


Welcome to beautiful Hope Island where the sea sparkles, the daffodils are blooming and a blossoming romance is just around the corner…
Bella has always had a sunny outlook and caring nature, despite recently falling on hard times. When she finds a handsome homeless man on her doorstep, her kind heart tells her she must help him. So, she invites Isaac into her cottage and into her life in ways she could never have imagined…
But Isaac is not what he seems. He’s keeping a huge secret from Bella, yet he never expected to fall for this open, generous and charming woman. 
Bella can’t ignore the chemistry between her and Isaac, but she’s had her trust badly broken in her past. Will she run when she learns the truth about Isaac, or will he be the one man who can help Bella believe in love again?

My opinion.
She has done it, yet again. What an amazing new novel Spring at Blueberry Bay is. I mean, sure, the cover is colourful and inviting, but nothing prepared me for the brilliant novel inside. Ok, maybe having read all her other a-mazing books should have given me a clue ;-)
As always, Holly Martin keeps surprising her readers. She never goes for the expected. Her characters, their jobs, hobby's and interest, the setting of the novel,... Each and every time, Holly goes all out to re-invent love stories. Her novels are truly unique, refreshing and always memorable.
Spring at Blueberry Bay had me laughing out loud more than once, and had me crying - also more than once. Bella hasn't had an easy past, and through the course of this novel, she goes through some ups and downs coming to terms with her family history and its effect on her relationships. Both the heartbreak, the passion, the fear and the blissful happiness are tangible. I almost felt exhausted going through all these different emotions wit her! ... But that could also be because I refused to go to bed before I finished this fabulous read.
Isaac is everything you'd wish in a (book-)boyfriend. He exudes passion, tenderness, trust and loyalty, and he is so, so sexy - I know, all in one guy?!!
I fell in love with Hope Island, with Isaac, Bella and her family. Fingers crossed we get the revisit them, soon.


Holly lives in a little white cottage by the sea. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.
Holly has been writing for 7 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014. 

Follow her on Twitter @hollymauthor

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Book review: Holding - Graham Norton

Graham Norton's masterful debut is an intelligently crafted story of love, secrets and loss.

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn't always been this overweight; mother of­ two Brid Riordan hasn't always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn't always felt that her life was a total waste.

So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke - a former­ love of both Brid and Evelyn - the village's dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community's worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore - with searing honesty - the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

My opinion.
I'm always a bit apprehensive when a tv-personality publishes a book. Did they get published because they're already famous? Or do they actually have a talent?
I needn't have worried with Graham Norton's debut. With Holding, he shows a wonderful insight in his characters. He introduces us to a quiet little Irish village where everyone knows everyone, and all their stories are intertwined somehow. But do they really know each other as well as they do? 
Although there's a lot of different players in this story, I feel like Graham Norton really took the time to let his readers get acquainted with each and every one of them. So much so, that this - to me - read more as a 'dark' drama than a murder mystery. The body and the questions and buried secrets it uncovers almost take a back seat to the emotional drama those villagers endure.
I was intrigued until the very last page and although it's been a while since I've finished the story, I find myself thinking back on Duneen and it's inhabitants quite often.
If Graham Norton was to venture in the world of fiction-writing again, I'd definitely be one of the first in line to read it.
Pleasantly surprised!