I spy with my little eye

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Utterly compelling, slightly unnerving and definitely unpleasant, Watching Edie is a psychological thriller that really deserves the genre. Centring round two well-drawn characters, Watching Edie chronicles the stories of Edie and Heather – Now and Then. Something happened in their past that hangs over both of them. Could it be to do with Edie’s rather unsavoury boyfriend Connor? Or is it something to do with Heather’s dead sister Lydia? Whatever it is, the secret has caused a long absence which is interrupted when Heather turns up out of the blue at Edie’s flat….

This book is so good – quite simply because nothing is what it seems. Coupled with quite a few unpleasant characters, the story switches between alternate narrators, both in the present “Now” and when they were teenagers “Then”. A couple of other characters add to the complexity (or create diversions) so you’re not quite sure who is telling the truth…

A compelling read and highly recommended- 4.5* 👁👁👁👁1/2

About This Book

THERE ARE SOME FRIENDS YOU’LL NEVER FORGET…
NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY

BEFORE
Edie is the friend that Heather has always craved. But one night, it goes terrifyingly wrong. And what started as an innocent friendship ends in two lives being destroyed.

AFTER
Sixteen years later, Edie is still rebuilding her life. But Heather isn’t ready to let her forget so easily. It’s no coincidence that she shows up when Edie needs her most.

NOW
Edie or Heather?
Heather or Edie?

Someone has to pay for what happened, but who will it be?

‘Compelling, dark and intense, this story of a friendship gone wrong will keep you guessing until the end’ –B.A. PARIS, No.1 bestselling author of BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

WATCHING EDIE has a clever plot, a fateful friendship, a callous betrayal, and an ending that is as twisty as it is inevitable’ –ALEXANDRA BURT, international bestselling author of LITTLE GIRL GONE

Acknowledgements

I received an advance review copy from the publisher, Harper Collins UK, in exchange for a fair and honest review.  Watching Edie is published on 28th July and is available from Amazon.

 

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Observations on the travelling public


Wowsers!! With I See You, Clare Mackintosh has delivered another amazing take-your-breath-away page turner, which kept me reading until the small hours. This book is creepy and unsettling – particularly when you travel by tube everyday. A series of small newspaper adverts seem to be linked to a series of attacks on women. But no one takes Zoe seriously when she suggests this – not least the police. Only one maverick policewoman is prepared to listen…

Clare Mackintosh’s writing is fantastic- it’s atmospheric and envelops you like a dark cloak. There’s a sense of foreboding yet it’s so compelling you just can’t put it down! I absolutely loved her previous novel, I Let You Go,  which was one of my top reads of 2015 (despite having to give it some distance for a while due to its opening scene with a 5 year old boy).  

It’s an absolute stunner of a book. Cannot recommend it highly enough. I See You will indeed be one of my top books of 2016!

MetLineReader rating 5👁👁👁👁👁

About this book

You do the same thing every day.

You know exactly where you’re going. 

You’re not alone.


When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a grainy image, a website address and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make …

I See You is an edge-of-your-seat, page-turning psychological thriller from the author of I Let You Go – one of the most exciting and successful British debut talents of 2015.


Acknowledgements 

I See You is published on 28th July by Sphere, an imprint of Little Brown Book Group. To my utter delight, I received an ARC of I See You in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Spiralling out of control 

Nina is falling apart. This book shows us how far she is falling — at times it’s hard-hitting and difficult to read.
Both Nina’s behaviour and the way she is treated are abhorrent and a sad reflection of the modern times we live in. 
Well-written, funny and heart-breaking all in one sentence, Nina is Not OK is an insight into how a teenager’s life can spiral out of control.

I was keen to read this book as I find the author rather amusing as a stand-up comic. Often I find that this humour does not translate into the written word. Happily this wasn’t the case with Nina Is Not OK – Shappi Khorsandi can write!!  

MetLineReader rating 4* 🍷🍸🍹🍾

About this book

Nina does not have a drinking problem. She likes a drink, sure. But what 17-year-old doesn’t?

Nina’s mum isn’t so sure. But she’s busy with her new husband and five year old Katie. And Nina’s almost an adult after all.

And if Nina sometimes wakes up with little memory of what happened the night before, then her friends are all too happy to fill in the blanks. Nina’s drunken exploits are the stuff of college legend.

But then one dark Sunday morning, even her friends can’t help piece together Saturday night. All Nina feels is a deep sense of shame, that something very bad has happened to her…

A dark and sometimes shocking – coming of age novel from one of the UK’s leading comedians. NINA IS NOT O.K. will appeal to fans of Caitlin Moran and Louise O’Neill.

Acknowledgements 

Nina is not OK by Shappi Khorsandi is published by Ebury Press on 28th July. I received an advance copy from  in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Oh sugar (Author Q&A)

I’m delighted to publish an interview with Sharon Maas on my blog today. Sharon’s latest (and fabulous) book, The Sugar Planter’s Daughter is published today by Bookouture.



Q. What inspired you to become a writer? 

I guess I was born that way! Seriously: even as a child, I loved writing down the stories that my imagination dictated to me; second to reading, I loved writing. All through my school life, the one subject at which I excelled was writing. Unfortunately, story-writing didn’t seem like an area in which I could make an honest living and so, after leaving school, I did the next best thing: I became a journalist.

But even then, I was almost 50 before I had the confidence to try writing a full-length novel. So my life as a novelist started very late in life. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, however, since by then I had the maturity to know exactly what I needed to write, and to stick to my guns.

Q. What obstacles did you face when trying to achieve your ambition to be a writer?

The first novel I wrote found an agent almost immediately, but not a publisher. I rewrote that novel five or six times – on a manual typewriter, you understand – in order to bring it up to scratch. I revised it, restructured it, polished it for several years, all at the encouragement of my then agent. It still didn’t find an publisher. I broke down in tears, then gave up and started again. The next novel was Of Marriageable Age, and that one found a first-rate publisher at first try.

I had a few “good” years in publishing after that, but then, with my fourth book, I ran into rocky waters again. My publisher, HarperCollins, didn’t want me to write books set in Guyana. Unfortunately, that was the one matter on which I could not compromise. I had grown up reading books that I loved, but did not in any way reflect my own background. I knew that my job as a novelist was to write from the heart, and that meant, about the experiences that shaped me as a human being.

That stubbornness meant that I was rejected not only by HarperCollins but by the British and American publishing world in general. Guyana as a setting was judged to be not commercial enough; the consensus was that the reading public is xenophobic and would not want to read books with a setting they weren’t familiar with.

So for ten years I kept writing novels that kept getting rejected. I was determined to prove the agents and editors who rejected me wrong, and the only way to do that was to write books that the public would love, books that woud sell. That is still my aim: to show that the reading public, that is, that the white reading public, is not as xenophobic as the publishing experts insist. The only way to do that is to produce a bestseller! So it all depends on how well the books are received. The only thing that speaks are sales!

Q. Who is your favourite character from your books?

That’s really hard to say! I guess it’s a draw between Savitri from Of Marriageable Age, and Winnie, from books 1 and 2 of the Quint Chronicles trilogy. But I have a very soft spot for Dorothea, of The Small Fortune of Dorothea Q!

Q. Who or what inspired the character of Winnie? 
She was directly inspired by my paternal grandmother, whose name was also Winnie, and who married a George. It was their wedding photo that lit the spark: they are so elegant, so confident in that photo, yet I could easily imagine the drama it must have caused back then, a white woman marrying a black man. My grandmother went on to have eight sons, and so does Winnie Quint. The rest is purely fictional – my grandmother did not come from a sugar plantation family, so that part is made up, as well as the conflict between the made-up Winnie and her sister, Yoyo.

Q. Can you recommend any books for those of us who want to learn more about Guyana?

There are several good contemporary Guyanese writers. There’s David Dabydeen, for instance, Jan Shinebourne, Oonya Kempadoo, Fred D’Aguiar, Grace Nichols. Then there’s the late Edgar Mittelholzer, whose novels set in the early 20th century were recently reprinted and are enjoying a bit of a comeback.

Q. What’s your favourite book (written by someone else)?

There are so many; I can’t choose! If forced to name a single book, I’d say the Indian epic Mahabharata.

Q. What book do you wish you had written?

The Mahabharata — so much so, that I did write (and self-publish) a shortened version of it! But I greatly admire the works of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and would love to have written Half of a Yellow Sun.

Q. What genre of books do you enjoy reading for pleasure?

Historical family sagas.

Q. Can you tell us anything about the next installment of the Quint Chronicles?

It’s not written yet, so I don’t know the details or the main story “hook” yet myself, but I do know it will be about the boys growing up and going their ways; World War II will play a part, as well as the struggle for Independence in Guyana, what happened to the sugar plantations and in particular, what happened to Promised Land in the end. A surprise character in The Sugar Planter’s Daughter is Mary Grace and I suspect she will take over from Winnie in becoming the main female character. Winnie will become the matriarch at the centre of the family – as already hinted at in The Small Fortune of Dorothea Quint. That sounds like a lot – maybe too much for one book!

Thank you to Sharon Maas for her time and answers which helped provide a little more insight into her world and her characters. I’m eagerly awaiting the not-written-yet third instalment of the Quint Chronicles.

About The Author

Sharon Maas was born in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1951 and educated in Guyana and England. After leaving school she worked as a staff journalist at the Guyana Graphic and the Sunday Chronicla in Georgetown.

Sharon has always had a great sense of adventure and curiosity about the world we live in, and Guyana could not hold her for long. In 1971 she set off on a year-long backpacking trip around South America. In 1973 she travelled overland to India through Europe, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and spent two years in an Ashram in South India.

For more information, visit her website.

My review of The Sugar Planter’s Daughter

This is another beautifully told tale from Sharon Maas. Continuing the tale of Winnie, from The Secret Life of Winnie Cox, this story centres around Winnie and George as they come to terms with their unusual marriage, Winnie’s mum and delightful sister Yoyo. It’s told in alternating chapters, centred around life in Georgetown and on the family plantation Promised Land.

Sharon Maas is a great storyteller and you can imagine yourself transported to British Guiana with the sights, sounds and smells… I absolutely loved this tale and felt quite bereft when it ended. I can’t wait for the next instalment in Winnie’s story.

5* 🍭🍭🍭🍭🍭 

Acknowledgements

My thanks to Sharon Maas and the team at Bookouture for my advance review copy of The Sugar Planter’s Daughter, which is published on 22nd July and is available from Amazon.

Trips and falls 

 

Falling takes three generations of women and intertwined their tales. 

After a fall, Honor reluctantly contacts her daughter-in-law, Jo, to come and see her in hospital. Trouble is, Jo’s husband died several years ago so the relationship is somewhat begrudging given that Honor resents that Jo is still alive whilst her son is dead. At this point we don’t know why or how Stephen died. 

Jo’s daughter Lydia doesn’t seem to have much of a relationship with her grandmother Honor. In fact, she is less than amused to give up her bedroom so that Honor can recuperate at Jo’s home. 

I initially found Jo annoying, much preferring Honor and Lydia. As the tales unfolded I realised that Jo was probably (proverbially) holding her breath for her entire life, following the tragic death of her husband. Lydia the teenager was well drawn and yet most realistic and likeable of them all – despite her tantrums. A good book with insights into family life and how we all carry our perceptions of family history.

Since receiving a review copy this book has been renamed from its original title of ‘The Day of Second Chances’. I think Falling is a much better title — and much more suited to the book – it’s not just about one day, but a series of events!

A worthwhile read – MetLineReader rating 4* 🚸🚸🚸🚸

About this book

Can you imagine keeping a secret so devastating, you couldn’t even tell the people you love?

Honor’s secret threatens to rob her of the independence she’s guarded ferociously for eighty years.

Jo’s secret could smash apart the ‘normal’ family life she’s fought so hard to build.

Lydia’s could bring her love – or the loss of everything that matters to her.

Grandmother, mother and daughter – three women whose lives are falling apart. But one summer’s day, a single dramatic moment will force their secrets into the open.

Can they save each other from falling?

Readers of Jojo Moyes, Liane Moriarty and Lisa Jewell will love this surprising, moving story.

Acknowledgements 

Falling by Julie Cohen is published on 28th July. I received an ARC from the publisher Black Swan in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Reading between the lines…

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This is a charming book that blends a bit of magic and teenage angst with a path of “what-if”s and regrets. And a central character called “Remy” who is more than meets the eye…

I really enjoyed this book- it’s a few days after I finished reading it but it still envelops me like a giant hug.

A fab beach read, full of warmth, friendships and love.

MetLineReader Rating 4 📬📬📬📬

About This Book

The sun is shining in the quiet little seaside town of Sandybridge

Sandybridge is the perfect English seaside town: home to gift shops, tea rooms and a fabulous fish and chip shop. And it’s home to Grace – although right now, she’s not too happy about it. 

Grace grew up in Sandybridge, helping her parents sort junk from vintage treasures, but she always longed to escape to a bigger world. And she made it, travelling the world for her job, falling in love and starting a family. So why is she back in the tiny seaside town she’d long left behind, hanging out with Charlie, the boy who became her best friend when they were teenagers? 

It turns out that travelling the world may not have been exactly what Grace needed to do. Perhaps everything she wanted has always been at home – after all, they do say that’s where the heart is…

Acknowledgments

Letters from Lighthouse Cottage is published on 14th July by Little Brown Book Group UK.  It is available for published from Amazon UK.  I received an advance review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Lost and Found

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I’ve always loved Lisa Jewell’s books (my all-time-favourite is The Truth About Melody Browne), with this book she is on cracking form!! I was planning to save this for my holiday but just couldn’t wait — and I’m so glad I didn’t

I Found You weaves the tale of then and now, with Alice who is running away from unsuitable men, Gray and Kirsty who are on a family holiday, the abandoned Lily and the amnesiac Frank.

The threads come together to weave a dark and intricate tale, which draws you in and turns the book into a CPID (Can’t.Put.It.Down). A truly darker book than I was expecting, this will cause several sharp intakes of breath and even moved me to tears.

Highly recommended – you could read this in one sitting if you were lucky enough to be left in peace!

MetLineReader rating: 5* 🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊  Metropolitan!

About this book

‘How long have you been sitting out here?’

‘I got here yesterday.’

‘Where did you come from?’

‘I have no idea.’

East Yorkshire: Single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement she invites him in to her home.

Surrey: Twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Two women, twenty years of secrets and a man who can’t remember lie at the heart of Lisa Jewell’s brilliant new novel.

Acknowledgements

I received an advance copy from the publisher via THE Book Club #TBConFB, in exchange for a fair and honest review.  I Found You is published by Cornerstone, an imprint of Penguin Random House, on 14th July and can be pre-ordered from Amazon.