Wednesday 27 December 2017

The Way Back To Us by Kay Langdale

The Way Back To UsThe Way Back To Us by Kay Langdale
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days on and off

Pages - 274

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

I am a mess of tears on the train. Can't remember the last time a book broke my heart so much... (Lucy Dillon on Away from You) Perfect for fans of Adele Parks and Maggie O'Farrell.

Since their youngest son, Teddy, was diagnosed with a life-defining illness, Anna has been fighting: against the friends who don't know how to help; against the team assigned to Teddy's care who constantly watch over Anna's parenting; and against the impulse to put Teddy above all else - including his older brother, the watchful, sensitive Isaac.

And now Anna can't seem to stop fighting against her husband, the one person who should be able to understand, but who somehow manages to carry on when Anna feels like she is suffocating under the weight of all the things that Teddy will never be able to do.

As Anna helplessly pushes Tom away, he can't help but feel the absence of the simple familiarity that should come so easily, and must face the question: is it worse to stay in an unhappy marriage, or leave?

My Review

This story centres around Anna's family, her husband Tom and her two sons Isaac and Teddy. Teddy has SMA type 2 and the book gives some education on it without being too heavy in medical jargon or clinical. The bulk of the story is the effect Teddy's condition has on them all, how they interact, cope and go about their days. How the attitude and choices of one impacts on the others and the actions that follow as a result.

I don't know if the author has any experience either with a condition like this or a loved one who has some similar condition. Despite it being a fictional story it has a very real voice on the difficulties of every day life, things we take for granted that someone with a chronic condition could have great difficulty with. Add into that the emotions, strain and focus each family member has, the mother who has to be superwoman, ensuring the rights and safety of her child. The husband who is the bread winner but feels like a spare part at times when it comes to the inner workings of his family and his relationship with his wife. And the brother Isaac, older but still a child himself living with everything revolving around and putting Teddy first at all times.

It is heavily focused on the relationships between the four main characters, marital difficulties, relationships and friendships with those outwith the inner family. Social interactions, those with medical professionals and the outer branch of professionals involved in Teddy's care. The story is multi narrative, all chapters are headed with the person whose view point we will be seeing it from so it is really easy to follow. There is a lot of emotion within the book, it tackles many issues and made for interesting reading, I do enjoy a book where medical conditions pop up. It took me a wee bit to settle into the different view points, easy enough to follow who it is but they have different voices and issues so a wee bit jumpy in some aspects. I did however enjoy the book, Langdale has a nice tone when writing and you can slip into the plot with ease. 3.5 stars for me this time, I have read her before and would read her again, as always my thanks to the publisher.

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Wednesday 20 December 2017

Christmas at Mistletoe Cottage by Lucy Daniels

Christmas at Mistletoe Cottage (Hope Meadows, #2)Christmas at Mistletoe Cottage by Lucy Daniels
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 384

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Source - Amazon

Blurb from Goodreads

Christmas has arrived in the little village of Welford. The scent of hot roasted chestnuts is in the air, and a layer of frost sparkles on the ground.

This year, vet Mandy Hope is looking forward to the holidays. Her animal rescue centre, Hope Meadows, is up and running - and she's finally going on a date with Jimmy Marsh, owner of the local outward bound centre.

The advent of winter sees all sorts of animals cross Mandy's path, from goats named Rudolph to baby donkeys - and even a pair of reindeer! But when a mysterious local starts causing trouble, Mandy's plans for the centre come under threat. She must call on Jimmy and her fellow villagers to put a stop to the stranger's antics and ensure that Hope Meadows' first Christmas is one to remember.

One thing's for certain: this Christmas, there'll be animal escapades, kisses under the mistletoe...and plenty of festive cheer for all.

My Review

Firstly let me say this is book two in the series and whilst you can read this as a standalone I would suggest getting the first as I don't think I would enjoy it as much not knowing the back story. Mandy now has her rescue centre up and running, helping animals in need whilst doing her job as a vet. It seems someone is not happy and has a vendetta against the unit, but who wouldn't to help animals or is there a deeper reason behind the sabotage.

I read and loved the first book, it is so nice to have a character who loves animals and cares more about their welfare than money. Mandy is the same in this book, animals come first but the bills are pouring in and now someone appears to have an issue with the centre. Sabotage is confirmed, Mandy is trying to juggle many balls and has some personal issues to contend with too.

A wee mixed bag and definitely has a Christmas feel to it. Again, wee bits of learning in relation to animal care and conditions but not the full focus or detracting from the heart of the story. I did enjoy this but loved the first one more, not too sure why. This was 3.5 for me, I do enjoy this series and already have the third on my wishlist.

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Saturday 16 December 2017

Save Me by Mandasue Heller

Save MeSave Me by Mandasue Heller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 400

Publisher - Pan MacMillan

Source - Netgalley

Blurb from Goodreads

A gripping thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of Run, Mandasue Heller. When Ellie Fisher misses her train home one night, she has no idea that being in the right place at the wrong time will change her life forever. That night she comes across Gareth, a young man about to take his own life, because as far as he’s concerned there is nothing left to live for. Putting her own life in danger Ellie convinces Gareth that there is always something left. Her own life is no bed of roses, she explains, but she always pushes on. However, good deeds aren’t always repaid the way we want. Has Ellie unwittingly put her life in danger, or is the real danger a lot closer to home?

My Review

Ellie Fisher misses her train home, bringing her into the path of a stranger Gareth who is going to take his own life. Ellie puts herself at risk, saving Gareth and in turn causing more ripples in her own life. Her controlling husband is suspicious, her colleagues take advantage of her good nature as does her sister who is utterly vile. All actions have consequences and Ellie is about to discover just how big an impact one kind deed can have on her life and those around her.

It has been a while since I read a book that grabbed me pretty much from the get go and it wasn't due to the knowing something bad was coming. The relationship dynamics infuriated me, I wanted Ellie to deal with the selfish horrible people in her life and put them in her place. I think depending on your family life and personal experiences will depend on how much that part of the story will impact on you. I was so infuriated I could have flung the book because I was so angry at how much Ellie allowed people to walk over her. The more I read and the more things happened I got so exasperated, then you have the violent side. Things start happening, you don't know who to trust or really what is coming next.

I have always enjoyed Heller's books, I didn't even look at the blurb when going for this book so it was a bit different from what I expected. It isn't her normal estate gritty type book, this is relationships, families, stalker type vibe with violence, suspense and building up page by page. 4/5 for me this time, available to buy from 28th December this year, my thanks to Netgalley.

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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Damaged by Martina Cole

DamagedDamaged by Martina Cole
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 357

Publisher - Headline

Source - Borrowed from a friend

Blurb from Goodreads

A serial killer is in town and the race is on for DCI Kate Burrows. Stop the killer before more innocent girls die...

Damaged is the explosive new novel from Sunday Times No.1 bestseller, Martina Cole, and sees the return of her iconic heroine DCI Kate Burrows. The 'undisputed queen of crime writing' (Guardian) and the biggest selling female crime writer in the UK, Martina's unique, powerful storytelling includes Dangerous Lady, The Ladykiller, Betrayal and many more.

When the bodies of missing schoolgirls start turning up, former DCI Kate Burrows is dragged out of retirement.

A new Grantley serial killer is in town and DCI Annie Carr turns to Kate for help. She welcomes the distraction from her home life with former gangster, Patrick Kelly, whose long lost son has turned up out of the blue, bringing trouble with him.

It soon becomes clear the killer is on their doorstep and as the body count grows, Kate and Annie face a race against the clock.

But they have no real leads ... and there's more to these murders than meets the eye. Can Kate take the killer down before another schoolgirl dies?

My Review

DCI Kate Burrows is back! Well she is retired but agrees to come in and help with a serial killer who is targeting school girls, torturing them horrifically before murdering them. Kate is happy to have a distraction as things at home have been royally shaken up when Patrick gets a blast from the past that shakes up his and Kate's happy wee home.

I loved Cole's earlier books, particularly Burrows and the whole taboo of a copper hooking up with a criminal. Now Burrows is out of the police business and Pat is mostly retired things are going well when Pat has a chap claiming to be his son. Pat is shrewd and suspicious of course but the idea of a family brings it's own happiness and problems.

The book is really split into three, the investigation such as it is, the dilemma of the new family showing up and the nightmare wife who comes with it and of course wee bits from the killer. I did enjoy catching up with Kate and Patrick and seeing how they are now after so many years. The whole dynamics of their lives changing and how they cope with it, particularly Kate. There are a few surprises along the way and I have always found Cole's writing easy to slide into. I did notice Kate used darling a lot, I think four times in the space of a handful of sentences but that is just a wee gripe. I would have liked two aspects of the story to have a lot more exploration but I cannot go into them without potential spoilers and I never do spoiler reviews.

Overall I did enjoy it, I have read plenty of her books before and will read her again. I still find her older books to be much stronger that the newer ones seem to have a little something missing from. However I do enjoy her writing, 3.5 for me this time. If you enjoy Cole's writing I think you will enjoy this and for hardcore fans you will enjoy catching up with Kate and Patrick!

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Monday 11 December 2017

The Other Child by Lucy Atkins

The Other ChildThe Other Child by Lucy Atkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off over 3 days

Pages - 390

Publisher - Quercus

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Sometimes a lie seems kinder than the truth . . . but what happens when that lie destroys everything you love?

When Tess is sent to photograph Greg, a high profile paediatric heart surgeon, she sees something troubled in his face, and feels instantly drawn to him. Their relationship quickly deepens, but then Tess, single mother to nine-year-old Joe, falls pregnant, and Greg is offered the job of a lifetime back in his hometown of Boston. Before she knows it, Tess is married, and relocating to the States. But life in an affluent American suburb proves anything but straightforward.

Unsettling things keep happening in the large rented house, Joe is distressed, the next-door neighbours are in crisis, and Tess is sure that someone is watching her. Greg's work is all-consuming and, as the baby's birth looms, he grows more and more unreachable. Something is very wrong, Tess knows it, and then she makes a jaw-dropping discovery . . .

My review

Tess has upped sticks and moved with her son to Boston to be with her husband Greg and his job of a lifetime, paediatric heart surgeon. Feeling isolated things between Tess and Greg become tense, weird things keep happening in the house, someone is sending threats to Greg and Tess can't work out her neighbours intentions. Is it paranoia or is someone terrorising Tess and what is Greg hiding from her?

Whilst there are aspects of this book I did enjoy and like then there were things that really grated me. I did enjoy the tension, the way Atkins build up an atmosphere that had me turning page after page to find out what was going on. Slowly leading you on, crumb by crumb and giving you questionable actions and characters you weren't sure where you stood. At times Tess really irritated me, I wanted to scream at her for some of her very suspect actions, lack of or just her chain of thought. I suspected everyone and trusted nothing which is always a great thing for an author to achieve with a reader.

I really disliked many of the characters which isn't a bad thing as many hated characters have made books the success they are. I don't like when characters do a complete change in their character and I felt that happened a wee bit in this. There are a fair few twists and it was an interesting read but I just felt the things that annoyed me really annoyed me. 3/5 for me this time, this was my first dance with this author, I would read her again.

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Sunday 10 December 2017

Nightingales under the Mistletoe by Donna Douglas

Nightingales Under the MistletoeNightingales Under the Mistletoe by Donna Douglas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - dipped in and out over 3 days

Pages - 432

Publisher - Random House UK

Source - The Works

Blurb from Goodreads

Christmas 1941 and the nurses at the Nightingale are facing their toughest winter yet.

With shortages everywhere, and every news bulletin announcing more defeats and losses, the British people are weary and demoralised and The Nightingale Hospital is suffering too.

Millie is recently widowed and dealing with the demands of her family’s estate. It’s not long before her old world of The Nightingale begins to beckon, along with a long-lost love…

Jess is struggling with her move from East London to the quiet of the countryside.

Effie finds herself exiled to a quiet village, but the quiet doesn’t last for long as she soon finds excitement in the shape of a smooth-talking GI.

As Christmas approaches, even the shelter of the countryside can’t protect the girls from heartache.

My Review

I do love a book about nursing, set during the war or when it first started out. Nightingales is set in 1941 and we follow three main characters, Millie, Jess and Effie. Millie is a war widow with a little boy, lady of the manor and an overbearing grandmother who is set in her thoughts of how Mille should behave. Jess is in the country to help out, sent from London and finding her feet whilst dealing with her superiors dislike for Londoners and their "know everything" attitude. Effie has come from Ireland, she is on the run from something and just wants a bit of fun inbetween her nuring. There are other characters too and between them all we see the issues faced in the 40's during war, being a nurse, being an aid, soldier, a woman in that time period and all the trials and tribulations that follow.

I am partial to this kind of read, I just love it. You learn a wee something, you have some kind of scandal, questioning morals, friendship, bonding, a bad guy or two to dislike or hate and some acts of kindness to warm the cockles. I could read this time of book in one sitting if time and life permitted to be honest. The writing flows, the characters you invest in relatively quickly regardless of if you like or hate them, you engage.

Despite this being book seven I think it is my first read with these characters and I didn't feel at a loss coming in so late. I will absolutely be buying up more by this author. 4/5 for me this time, you will laugh, rage, be moved and annoyed at parts and who doesn't love when a book puts you through your paces.

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Monday 4 December 2017

Cut by Marc Raabe

CutCut by Marc Raabe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 484

Publisher - Bonnier Zaffre

Source - The works

Blurb from Goodreads

Fast and furious - a stunning thriller debut for fans of Stieg Larsson

A boy is witness to a horrible crime. Decades later, his girlfriend is kidnapped by an insane serial killer. To save her, he must return to the events of the past. But how can he remember when forgetting was the only way to survive?

Gabriel's job as security guard takes him to a derelict mansion in Berlin late at night. The obscure scene there reminds him of the most terrible night of his life - the night his parents died. Soon after, he receives a desperate call. His pregnant girlfriend Liz is being attacked and cries for help. Gabriel alerts the police but they arrive too late. Liz has disappeared without a trace. The hunt for her turns into a frantic chase against time. The terrifying man from the past has returned and will not stop until Gabriel is completely destroyed.

My Review

Gabriel has a thing about basements, witnessing something as a child he now has a deep fear and would rather not go in. When he does a favour for a work colleague he finds himself facing his fears, getting caught up in a cat and mouse game and if that isn't enough his girlfriend has been kidnapped. Gabriel finds himself the focus of the police in a murder investigation as well as a psychopath, in order to find his lady he needs to address memories he has long kept suppressed.

The story splits between Gabriel and what is going on with him and Liz, before she is kidnapped, during and what comes next. Quite a lot of the book is suspense and you are engaged enough to keep turning the pages, I wanted to know what was coming next. However I did find some aspects of the book frustrating, some of the characters actions and behaviours. However, many have absolutely loved this book, I enjoyed it but didn't love it. It does keep the readers on their toes as I couldn't work out the why or what they were going to do next. 3/5 for me this time, I would read this author again but I won't be rushing out to find their other work.

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Saturday 2 December 2017

Chasing The Traveller by Alex Kane Blog Tour

Welcoming author Alex Kane to So Many Books, So Little Time.

To chat about her brand new book, Chasing the Traveller. You can read my review for this book by clicking here.

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Chasing The Traveller by Alex Kane. Thanks so much Alex for writing a great book, asking me on the tour and taking time out to answer some questions.

You wrote under a different name previously, incase anyone doesn’t know, what was it and why the change?

I write supernatural crime thrillers under Emma Clapperton. I changed my name for the genre switch because I didn’t want people to buy the book and expect supernatural crime and get something different.

What made you choose the travelling community as the set up for this story?

I have a genuine interest in the travelling community and there didn’t seem to be any books out there that tackled such domestic abuse within that setting.

Domestic violence and emotional abuse are horrific topics, some of the scenes will be very disturbing for some readers due to their realistic creation. How did you manage to create/tap into this?

Honestly, I have been fortunate enough not to experience this kind of thing in my life. I can only imagine what it must be like for someone to go through this kind of thing. I tried to imagine how awful it would be and how I would feel if my partner was controlling everything I did, who I saw, what I wore, even what I said. It must be the loneliest place a person can be.

When I picked this book up I thought it was going to be more of a murder thriller type read. Whilst there are themes of this, for me the heart is Kat’s personal journey, was this your vision for the book?

I wanted to write about Kat and her escape. However, I can’t imagine the torment automatically stops when you leave that kind of relationship. I wanted to write about her journey, her road to recovery and finding herself again. Of course, with it being a psychological thriller, I wanted to include some drama in there too.

What research did you do for Chasing the Traveller and did you enjoy it?

I used to work with someone who is a traveller. She was great at helping me out with the language and certain words or phrases that are typically used. I really enjoyed learning about the community and how they live.

What is next for Alex Kane?

I am working on my next psychological thriller. Working title; HER

Do you prefer folk calling you Alex or Emma? Say online or at book events?

Depending on how they know me, I will respond to either.

Do you have book events lined up for this book? Signings? Author chats?

Yes, there is a blog tour lined up to run until Sunday 3rd December and I ran a competition on publication day for people to win signed copies.

Where is best for fans to contact you? Find you?

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Alex Kane Writer.

Anything else you would like to add I haven’t asked?

Thank you for being part of the blog tour and I hope everyone who reads the book will enjoy it.

Check out the other stops on the blog tour for different content and reviews.

Friday 1 December 2017

Summer at Hope Meadows by Lucy Daniels

Summer at Hope MeadowsSummer at Hope Meadows by Lucy Daniels
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 400

Publisher - Hodder

Source - Publisher

Blurb from Goodreads

Based on the globally bestselling Animal Ark series.

Newly-qualified vet Mandy Hope is leaving Leeds - and her fiancé Simon - to return to the Yorkshire village she grew up in. There, she will help out in her parents' surgery whilst they're short-staffed. Mandy's life has always revolved around her work with rescued animals, and Welford offers an opportunity to work with creatures of all sizes, from hedgehogs and puppies to farm stock and even wild deer.

But rural Yorkshire is very different to the hustle and bustle of a big city. Mandy must work hard to be accepted by the close-knit village community, and convince them of her abilities as a vet - especially Jimmy Marsh, the gruff owner of the local Outward Bound business, with whom she just can't seem to get along.
When some long-neglected animals are discovered in a critical state on a nearby farm, Mandy is determined to prove herself as a confident and fearless vet. When it comes to protecting animals in need, she's prepared to do whatever it takes...

My Review

So my last few books have been quite heavy and or dark. I really needed something lighter and this has been on my review mountain for a good while now. Mandy is our main character, a newly qualified vet who is heading back to her wee Yorkshire village to help out with her family vet surgery. Her boyfriend Simon is an animal surgeon, the more complex the better, he has high aspirations for their future business. When Mandy goes back to her roots she realizes how much she has missed the quiet life and how much is needed in the village compared to city life. Her and Simon's views could not be more different, someone has to give, but who?

Oh I just needed a book like this, animal focused, Mandy is so passionate about caring for animals and there is so much need in her wee village. Her parents clinic is short staffed and Mandy is just finding her feet. I learned about animals care and some conditions that I hadn't heard of, I actually put the book down a few times to look them up. Thrown into that we have the struggles in her relationship with Simon, both have different views for their future and to be honest I am not a fan of Simon at all. You have the aspect of her reintegrating into the small village which in itself brings issues as well as trying to work out the complex grumpy business man and form relationships with the townsfolk.

The book covers so much, relationships, a small village and all the trimmings that come with it, I do enjoy a book where you learn things and animals always get a thumbs up from me. This was my first time reading this author and I enjoyed the book so much I checked it out on Fantastic Fiction and bought the next in the series. Lucy Daniels is the collective name for the writing team that created the kids series Animal Ark, the author of this book is Sarah McGurk. I enjoyed the writing style so much and the fact she draws from her job as a qualified vet that I am going to see if she has written anything other than these two books. 4/5 for me this time, thanks so much to Hodder for sending me a new author to try who I am sure I would have otherwise missed. As I said I bought the next in the series which is actually "Christmas at Mistletoe Cottage" perfect for my December reads. If you like animals and chick lit I think you will enjoy this book, I was frustrated at times with some of her choices and reactions or lack of with another character but on the whole I really enjoyed it.

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