#BookReview: The Girls Next Door by Mel Sherratt@writermels @bookouture

the-girls-next-door

About the Book

One warm spring evening, five teenagers meet in a local park. Only four will come out alive.

Six months after the stabbing of sixteen-year-old Deanna Barker, someone is coming after the teenagers of Stockleigh, as a spate of vicious assaults rocks this small community. Revenge for Deanna? Or something more?

Detective Eden Berrisford is locked into a race against time to catch the twisted individual behind the attacks – but when her own niece, Jess Mountford, goes missing, the case gets personal.

With the kidnapper threatening Jess’s life, can Eden bring back her niece to safety? Or will the people of Stockleigh be forced to mourn another daughter…?

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of Mel Sherratt and have read and very much enjoyed all of her novels to date and this one is no exception!

I have to start by saying that I loved Eden Berrisford and I think she may have the potential to overtake Allie Shenton (from Mel’s other series) in my affections! I really enjoyed reading about Eden and I can’t wait to read more in the future. It’s brilliant to find such strong, interesting women in crime fiction novels.

I was expecting this novel to focus more on what happened in the woods but that is just the catalyst for what happens to the characters next – one in particular is Jess, who is Eden’s niece, gets caught up in something way bigger than she’s expected when she started dating a new boyfriend. This novel has some twists and turns – some I saw coming but others had me quite shocked.

There is always a real sense of community in Mel’s novels, and this novel is no different. There are the bad guys, as there are anywhere, but there is also a sense of a tight-knit community who look out for their own and that always adds a warmth to a story that is about teenage gangs and the terrible crimes that some people commit.

I also have to mention that I really enjoyed how this had little references to the Estate series and so some of the setting for this book already felt familiar to me and it was lovely seeing Josie the housing officer from that series pop up in this book too. You don’t need to have read the Estate series to read this one but it’s a lovely bonus if you have.

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

mel-sherratt

Mel Sherratt write police procedurals, psychological suspense and women’s fiction with a punch – or grit-lit, as Mel calls it. Shortlisted for the prestigious CWA (Crime Writer’s Association) Dagger in Library Award 2014, my inspiration comes from authors such as Martina Cole, Lynda la Plante, Mandasue Heller and Elizabeth Haynes.

Mel live in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with her husband and terrier, Dexter (named after the TV serial killer) and makes liberal use of her hometown as a backdrop for some of her books. You can find out more at Mel’s website www.melsherratt.co.uk

 

WWW Wednesday (4th November)

WWW pic

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’m reading now:

Lost Girls by Angela Marsons

Lost Girls by Angela Marsons (Due to be published 6th November 2015) I started reading this book yesterday and it’s so good. It’s one of those books that’s really hard to put down once you’ve started reading!

Blurb:

Two girls go missing. Only one will return.

The couple that offers the highest amount will see their daughter again. The losing couple will not. Make no mistake. One child will die.

When nine-year-old best friends Charlie and Amy disappear, two families are plunged into a living nightmare. A text message confirms the unthinkable; that the girls are the victims of a terrifying kidnapping.

And when a second text message pits the two families against each other for the life of their children, the clock starts ticking for D.I. Kim Stone and the squad.

Seemingly outwitted at every turn, as they uncover a trail of bodies, Stone realises that these ruthless killers might be the most deadly she has ever faced. And that their chances of bringing the girls home alive, are getting smaller by the hour…

Untangling a dark web of secrets from the families’ past might hold the key to solving this case. But can Kim stay alive long enough to do so? Or will someone’s child pay the ultimate price?

What Rosie Found Next

What Rosie Found Next by Helen Rolfe (Out now) I started reading this book yesterday too and am really enjoying it. I’m on the blog tour for this book so my review will be posted as part of that on 9th November.

Blurb:

A shaky upbringing has left Rosie Stevens craving safety and security. She thinks she knows exactly what she needs to make her life complete – the stable job and perfect house-sit she’s just found in Magnolia Creek. The only thing she wants now is for her long-term boyfriend, Adam, to leave his overseas job and come home for good.
Owen Harrison is notoriously nomadic, and he roars into town on his Ducati for one reason and one reason only – to search his parents’ house while they’re away to find out what they’ve been hiding from him his entire life. When he meets Rosie, who refuses to quit the house-sit in his parents’ home, sparks fly.
Secrets are unearthed, promises are broken, friendships are put to the test and the real risk of bushfires under the hot Australian sun threatens to undo Rosie once and for all.
Will Rosie and Owen be able to find what they want or what they really need?

the single feather ruth hunt

The Single Feather by Ruth F. Hunt (Out now) I just picked this book up a little while ago and am really intrigued by it, I’m looking forward to reading more!

Blurb:

Rachel had to escape from where she was living, and that was hard enough, but now the 31 year old, paraplegic has to regain her independence and feel accepted in her new town. The problem is to do that, she feels she has to hide how and why she got injured and her recent experiences with the ‘guards’.
She joins an art group, unaware her fellow members also have secrets. As tension rises and the group splits into factions, with the ever-present possibility of being returned to her former life, Rachel realises to move on means confronting her past.

how to stuff up christmas

How to Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake (Due to be published 5th November 2015) I started reading this at the weekend and am very much enjoying it. I’m a little slower reading it purely because it’s a paperback rather than a kindle copy so it’s a bit harder for me to hold and read due to my disability. It’s a fab book though, I definitely recommend buying it tomorrow!

Blurb:

‘Tis the season to be jolly. Unless you’ve found an intimate picture of another woman on your fiance’s phone… 
Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve’s boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen.
But where does Greg keep disappearing to? What does Eve’s best friend Daisy know that she isn’t telling? And why is there an angry goose stalking Eve’s boat?
A hilarious and heart-warming novel about Christmas, catastrophes and cooking, containing exclusive Christmas recipes, from the talented Rosie Blake.

A Notable Woman

A Notable Woman ed. by Simon Garfield (Due to be published on 5th November 2015) I started reading this book last week and am thoroughly enjoying it. It’s such a beautiful and fascinating read, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a long book and I want to take my time to read it and savour it all.

Blurb:

In April 1925, Jean Lucey Pratt started a journal that she would keep for the rest of her life, producing over a million words in 45 exercise books. For sixty years, no one had an inkling of her diaries’ existence, and they have remained unpublished until now.
Jean wrote about anything that amused, inspired or troubled her, laying bare her life with aching honesty, infectious humour, indelicate gossip and heartrending hopefulness. She recorded her yearnings and disappointments in love. She documented the loss of a tennis match, her unpredictable driving, catty friends, devoted cats and difficult guests. With Jean we live through the tumult of the Second World War and the fears of a nation. We see Britain hurtling through a period of unbridled transformation and the shifting landscape for women in society. A unique slice of living, breathing British history, Jean’s diaries are a revealing chronicle of life in the twentieth century.


What I recently finished reading:

(Click the titles in the list below the pics to read my reviews and more about the books)

out of the darkness   time to die   12080721_10208053670124026_1305089176_n   written in the scars   merry mistletoe

Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan I am currently running a giveaway where you can win one paperback copy of this book plus a gorgeous Yankee candle and a box of chocolates from Hotel Chocolat. Please click on my review to find out how to enter!

Time to Die by Caroline Mitchell

The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

Written in the Scars by Mel Sherratt

Merry Mistletoe by Emma Davies


What I plan on reading next:

winter's fairytale

Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey (Due to be published on 10th November 2015)

Blurb:

A few weeks before Christmas and a sudden blanketing of snow has closed the roads and brought public transport grinding to a halt, stranding Izzy miles from home and in desperate need of rescuing.

That doesn’t mean she’s looking to bump into Rob and spend a cosy weekend holed up in his swanky flat watching London become a winter wonderland! Because Izzy and Rob have history…

Six months ago, they were standing in the vestry of a beautiful country church, while best man Rob delivered the news that every bride dreads on their big day.

But at the time of year when anything is possible, can Rob and Izzy let go of the past and let Christmas work its magic? Or will this be one holiday wish that Izzy lets walk right out of her life…

for the record

For the Record by Charlotte Huang (Due to be published 10th November 2015)

Blurb:

Chelsea thought she knew what being a rock star was like . . . until she became one. After losing a TV talent show, she slid back into small-town anonymity. But one phone call changed everything

Now she’s the lead singer of the band Melbourne, performing in sold-out clubs every night and living on a bus with three gorgeous and talented guys. The bummer is that the band barely tolerates her. And when teen hearthrob Lucas Rivers take an interest in her, Chelsea is suddenly famous, bringing Melbourne to the next level—not that they’re happy about that. Her feelings for Beckett, Melbourne’s bassist, are making life even more complicated.

Chelsea only has the summer tour to make the band—and their fans—love her. If she doesn’t, she’ll be back in Michigan for senior year, dying a slow death. The paparazzi, the haters, the grueling schedule . . . Chelsea believed she could handle it. But what if she can’t?

what happens at christmas

What Happens at Christmas by T. A. Williams (Out Now) I’m part of the blog tour for this book so my review will be posted as part of that in a couple of weeks time.

Blurb:

For the perfect Christmas…

When career-girl Holly Brice learns that her estranged father has died, she decides to take a trip down memory lane and find out about the man she never knew.

Arriving in the sleepy little Dartmoor village, she’s shocked to discover that she’s inherited the cosy little cottage she remembers so fondly, a whole load of money – and her father’s adorable dog, too!

Head to snow-covered Devon! And as the first snowflakes begin to fall and Holly bumps into her gorgeous neighbour, Jack Nelson, life gets even more complicated! Men have always been off the cards for high-flying Holly, but there’s something about mysterious writer Jack that has her re-thinking her three-date rule…


What are you reading this Wednesday? What are you planning on reading next? Please share your links below if you’ve joined in with this meme on your blog. If you’re not a blogger then please share your answers in the comments below. 

Happy Reading! 

My October Wrap-Up Post!

Thank You FreePiK

For my monthly wrap up this month I want start by taking the time to say a huge thank you to all of you who have ever read a post on my blog, or liked, or commented; to all of you who have share a post that I’ve written on social media; to all of you who have clicked to follow my blog. I have been blogging now since the end of August this year and never expected that anyone would read it. I started my blog because I needed a project, something fun to focus on, and a book blog seemed the perfect thing for a bookaholic like me.

I made it my aim to post something book-related every day and I think I’ve just about managed to keep to that. Mostly I write reviews but I also have my own bookish memories series, I join in with a couple of weekly memes, and I always do a weekly and monthly wrap up post as well. Since the end of August my blog has had almost 1200 visitors, over 2800 views and it has over 600 followers from various places. Last week I earned my Net Galley badge for Top Reviewer, which was a lovely surprise and a real confidence boost.

Through book blogging I have achieved something for me again, I have found something that I can do for myself and I don’t have the words to explain how big a deal that is for me right now (but trust me, it’s a huge deal!). To find that people are reading and sharing my blog posts has given me such a much-needed lift and I am so incredibly grateful.

Thank you so much!


Anyway, on with the books!

I read eighteen books in October and have reviewed seventeen of them (Please click the titles to read the reviews). The list is in the order I read them.

OCTOBER BOOKS 1 OF 3

Dying to be Slim by Abby Beverley

Six Poets: From Hardy to Larkin by Alan Bennett

The Lies We Tell by Meg Carter

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain

24 Hours by Claire Seeber

The Broken Hearts Book Club by Lynsey James

OCTOBER BOOKS 2 OF 3

The Good Neighbor by Amy Sue Nathan

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

The Girl with no Past by Kathryn Croft

One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale

Get Yourself Organized for Christmas by Kathi Lipp

OCTOBER BOOKS 3 of 3

Snowflakes on Silver Cove by Holly Martin

The Record Store of the Mind by Josh Rosenthal

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

Merry Mistletoe by Emma Davies

Written in the Scars by Mel Sherratt

The Little Bookshop on on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin (my review will be on my blog tomorrow as it’s my stop on the blog tour!)


This month’s reading has reminded my of two of the best things about being a reader and a book blogger:

(1) Discovering authors you’ve not read before and enjoying their book so much you feel compelled to buy all of their previous work right away! This month this happened to me FIVE times!! I read Mandy Baggot, Claire Seeber, Lynsey James and Emma Davies for the first time and have now bought just about all of their previous books. I also read my second Holly Martin book, which just confirmed what a fabulous writer she is and now all of her books are on my Kindle waiting to be read soon too!

(2) When an author you are a massive fan of releases a new book! Mel Sherratt’s new book, which was just released on Friday, is the fourth in her Estate series and I loved it (review here). I have read all of her previous books and they’re all completely brilliant! I bought and read Taunting the Dead back when it was self-published, and have been a huge a fan from that point on!


Which books did you read in October? Have you found any new-to-you authors? Please share with me in the comments below (and feel free to leave a link back to your own blog).

My Weekly Wrap-Up and Stacking the Shelves (31 October)

I can’t believe it’s Saturday again already, it’s been yet another busy bookish week here!

Bookouture Christmas week came to an end on 27th October. As you may remember, I ran a giveaway to win some fab ebooks. Thank you again to everyone who entered, the winners are all listed in this post in case you missed the announcement. By the way, Bookouture are now running a #BookoutureThriller week, read my post to the end to read details of how you can take part. There are great prizes on offer!

I was very excited this week to discover that I’d earned a new badge on Net Galley. I now have the Top Reviewer badge, which is the one you get when so many of your Net Galley reviews have been chosen to feature on publisher’s title pages.


This week I have read four books (Click the links in the list below the book pics to read my reviews)

robin talley what we left behind  record store of the mind  merry mistletoe  written in the scars

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

The Record Store of the Mind by Josh Rosenthal

Merry Mistletoe by Emma Davies

Written in the Scars by Mel Sherratt


I’m currently reading:

12080721_10208053670124026_1305089176_n

The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

I’m a part of the blog tour for this book so my review will be up on Monday (2nd November). I can tell you that it’s a wonderful novel and if you love reading books about books this one will be for you!

Blurb:

Le Vie En Rose

Bookshop owner Sarah Smith has been offered the opportunity to exchange bookshops with her new Parisian friend for 6 months! And saying yes is a no-brainer – after all, what kind of a romantic would turn down a trip to Paris…for Christmas?

Even if it does mean leaving the irresistible Ridge Warner behind, Sarah’s sure she’s in for the holiday of a lifetime – complete with all the books she can read!

Imagining days wandering around Shakespeare & Co, munching on croissants, sipping café au laits and watching the snow fall on the Champs-Élysées Sarah boards the plane.

But will her dream of a Parisian Happily-Ever-After come true? Or will Sarah realise that the dream of a Christmas fairytale in the city of love isn’t quite as rosy in reality…

time to die

Time to Die by Caroline Mitchell

I’m a real scaredy-cat but I couldn’t resist this one because it’s published by Bookouture and all of their books are amazing. I’m finding this book near impossible to put down, the supernatural elements in it make the book that bit different to other books in the genre. If you’re planning on reading this (or any other of their thrillers) please check out my BookoutureThriller info at the end of this post!)

Blurb:

He Will Predict you life… and your death.

Don’t ever cross his palm with silver.
He will reveal your most shameful secrets.
He will predict your death.
He is hiding a secret.
He is hiding a monster.
And all his predictions come true.
Investigating a series of chilling murders, Detective Jennifer Knight finds herself tracking a mysterious tarot card reader known only as The Raven.
As the death toll rises, Jennifer and her team build a picture of a serial killer on the edge of sanity, driven by dark forces. But these are not random killings. And the method behind the madness could be the most terrifying thing of all …
Especially when it seems the death of one of their own is on the cards.
Time to Die is an absolutely gripping serial killer thriller with a breath-taking supernatural twist.

A Notable Woman

A Notable Woman by Simon Garfield (Due to be published 5th Nov)

This book is a long one so I’m going to be reading it for a while but it’s completely and utterly wonderful. I adore it and highly recommend it to everyone.

Blurb:

In April 1925, Jean Lucey Pratt began writing a journal. She continued to write until just a few days before her death in 1986, producing well over a million words in 45 exercise books over the course of her lifetime. For sixty years, no one had an inkling of her diaries’ existence, and they have remained unpublished until now.
Jean wrote about anything that amused, inspired or troubled her, laying bare every aspect of her life with aching honesty, infectious humour, indelicate gossip and heartrending hopefulness. She recorded her yearnings and her disappointments in love, from schoolgirl crushes to disastrous adult affairs. She documented the loss of a tennis match, her unpredictable driving, catty friends, devoted cats and difficult guests. With Jean we live through the tumult of the Second World War and the fears of a nation. We see Britain hurtling through a period of unbridled transformation, and we witness the shifting landscape for women in society.
As Jean’s words propel us back in time, A Notable Woman becomes a unique slice of living, breathing British history and a revealing private chronicle of life in the twentieth century.

out of the darkness

Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan

This book is brilliant! It’s one of those books that I want to keep reading but I also want to really take my time with it. I’ve decided to read it slowly so I can really take in the story. It’s an incredibly moving book, and I’d definitely recommend it. I’m hoping to review it next week and may have a giveaway too so keep an eye out for that!

Blurb:

DOES EVERYTHING IN LIFE HAPPEN PURELY BY CHANCE? OR ARE WE GUIDED TOWARDS PEOPLE WHO CAN HELP US IN OUR HOUR OF NEED?
Following the sudden death of her beloved mother, Jessica Gibson’s world falls apart. But after meeting a man who seems heaven-sent, she starts to feel she has something to live for again, and soon discovers that their connection holds far more significance than she could ever have imagined. And when Jessica strikes an unlikely bond with Alexandra Green, the two new friends are taken on an emotional journey into the world of the supernatural, where psychic mediums pass on messages from beyond the grave. What — or who — is causing the strange goings-on in Alex’s home? What secret is she keeping from Jessica? And who is the young woman who so badly needs their help? In a series of surprising twists and turns, the pieces of the puzzle finally fall into place and a mystery is unwittingly solved — with life-changing consequences for all involved.

how to stuff up christmas

How to Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake (Due to be published 5th Nov)

Blurb:

‘Tis the season to be jolly. Unless you’ve found an intimate picture of another woman on your fiance’s phone… 
Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve’s boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen.
But where does Greg keep disappearing to? What does Eve’s best friend Daisy know that she isn’t telling? And why is there an angry goose stalking Eve’s boat?
A hilarious and heart-warming novel about Christmas, catastrophes and cooking, containing exclusive Christmas recipes, from the talented Rosie Blake.


stacking-the-shelves

I’m also joining in with Stacking the Shelves (hosted by Tynga’s Reviews), which is all about sharing all the books you’ve acquired in the past week – ebooks or physical books, and books you’ve bought or borrowed or received an ARC of.

Books I’ve bought this week:

home is burning  the witches salem  bones in the nest muse  sunday dinners

Home is Burning: A Memoir by Dan Marshall

The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff

Bones in the Nest by Helen Cadbury

Muse by Jonathan Galassi

Sunday Dinners by Jon Rance

I was most excited to buy The Witches: Salem 1692 as I’ve heard so much about it but all of these books caught my eye over the course of the week and I couldn’t resist buying any of them. I hope to have time to read them soon.

Arcs I’ve received:

the widow  a game for all the family  the heart of winter  The Day of Second Chances  In Real Life by Jessica Love  Lost Girls by Angela Marsons  This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

The Widow by Fiona Barton (paperback)

A Game for all the Family by Sophie Hannah (hardback)

The Heart of Winter by Emma Hannifin (paperback)

The Day of Second Chances by Julie Cohen (ebook)

In Real Life by Jessica Love (ebook)

Lost Girls by Angela Marsons (ebook)

This Raging Light by Estelle Laure (ebook)

I’m so excited about all of these ARCs. I think I was most excited when I was offered a copy of The Widow because I’ve heard so much about it and have been so badly wanting to get my hands on a copy. All of the other books have been books I’d added to my wishlist so I was super excited to get approved for them.


From 31st October – 6th November Bookouture are running a Bookouture Thriller week on twitter. To join in all you need to do is read one (or more!) of their thrillers and tweet about it using the hashtag #BookoutureThriller.

More info in this pic:

BookoutureThriller

This pic shows the books you could pick from to read:

BookoutureThriller books

Review & Extract: Written in the Scars by Mel Sherratt

It’s publication day for Written in the Scars by Mel Sherratt! I was very lucky to be sent an advance copy of this book so I’ve already read it and I absolutely loved it. I have my review to share with you today, and also an extract from the book.

written in the scars

My review

Written in the Scars is the fourth book in The Estate series, and although it can absolutely be read as a standalone I highly recommend reading the whole series purely because it’s brilliant and you don’t want to be missing out!

Donna Harvey is a hard-working mum to two grown up children, Sam and Keera, and still spends most of her time running around after them. She also frequently checks in on her elderly mother, Mary who has dementia and is living in a care home. Her life is hard and she feels very down-trodden so when she meets Owen and he lets her know he’s interested in her she is flattered and can’t wait for life to be more exciting and fun.

Lewis Prophett has been out of the army for two years but is still suffering with anger issues and flashbacks due to undiagnosed PTSD. As a result of his unpredictable behaviour he’s had to move out of the home he shared with his wife, Amy and their son, Daniel and is now back living with his mother. I commend Mel for how she portrayed this character, she absolutely got the presentation of PTSD right and really gives readers an insight into this terrible condition. I have personal experience of PTSD and it’s not often that it gets portrayed as well as it has been in this book.

Megan is a hard-working young woman who juggles her caring and her cleaning jobs along with caring for her mum, who is suffering from Osteoarthritis. She’s a lovely girl, and very pretty; she’s always pleasant and chatty with the people she looks after. Megan is hiding her own scars though. She has hidden herself away from the life she could be living as her scar has led to a real loss of confidence and she finds it hard to make friends.

Thank goodness that Josie Mellor still works on the Mitchell Estate, I was so pleased to see her in this novel. Josie has featured in all of the Estate books so far, and I love how her recurring appearances help tie the books together. It’s like catching up with an old friend, I actually do now feel like i know her! I love how she really cares about the people on the estate, she’s always fair and gives people a chance where she can but she doesn’t suffer fools and can be tough when it’s absolutely necessary.

I think this is my favourite of the Estate books, even though I’ve loved them all. The title is brilliant and absolutely sums up the theme of the book; the scars that all of these characters have tell the story of what they have been through, or are going through still. It’s great that scars were represented in so many different ways throughout this novel and after finishing reading it I was pondering on how actually every single character in this book, even the more minor ones have been damaged in their lives yet not all these characters openly seemed damaged. It shocked me to realise this and it really does give you something to think about.

The Estate series as a whole is so good, it’s gritty but with real heart and compassion. I hope there will be many more books to come!

I’m rating Written in the Scars 10 out of 10, it’s brilliant!

Written in the Scars is published today and available from Amazon.


First scene of Written in the Scars

With a minute to spare before her shift was due to start, Donna Adams rushed into Shop&Save. She ran into the staff room at the back of the building and slipped her green overall over the top of her summer dress. Already she could feel sweat forming, although the glorious hot spell they were enjoying was supposed to break later.

‘Made it by the skin of my teeth,’ she sighed, joining her work colleague and supervisor, Sarah Hartnoll, behind the counter. ‘Bloody hell, it’s as hot in here as it is outside.’ She glanced at the clock. ‘Sorry, I would have been here earlier but I’ve had trouble with Mum not wanting me to leave. She was holding onto my arm for dear life, convinced that someone is trying to kill her again.’

Donna’s mum, Mary, had been living in a self-contained flat for a few years since Donna’s dad had died. More recently, she’d been diagnosed with dementia. After wandering off in the night, setting off the alarm to the front door, and being brought home by the police on three separate occasions, Donna had made the heart-breaking decision to move her into sheltered accommodation, where there would be someone to keep an eye on her all the time.

Sarah shook her head in sympathy. ‘Never a dull moment in your life, is there?’

‘Never.’ Donna logged into the till and then looked up at the television monitor that was split into quarter views of the area in front of them. There were a few customers but thankfully no one was after their attention, and if she wasn’t mistaken, Darren, their youngest member of staff, was stacking shelves in the far right corner.

The shop had four aisles, all covered by cameras, but it was well known amongst a certain group of people for being easy to steal from. Many a time she and Sarah had left someone to it rather than risk either a tongue-lashing or a hand raised to them. They had both learned the hard way over the years not to interfere with some customers.

‘I still feel guilty every time I go and see Mum,’ Donna added. ‘But even if I had the time, I just don’t have the energy to give her what she needs.’

‘You should get Keera to do more.’

Donna stared at Sarah, before smiling at the elderly man who was walking towards them. ‘Chance would be a fine thing with my lot,’ she replied, helping him to fill his shopping bag before handing it back.

Donna had two children. A son, Sam, who was twenty-two and nineteen-year-old Keera, who had recently returned from a short time working in Ibiza.

Sarah held up a hand. ‘I’d much prefer to hear all about the hen party on Saturday. Did you enjoy yourself or did you feel like the oldest swinger in town?’

Donna rang the money through the till. ‘You might be laughing on the other side of your face when I tell you what happened.’ She paused for dramatic effect once the customer had gone on his way. ‘I met someone.’

‘No!’

‘Yes! His name is Owen, his eyes are so sexy – and his body is mmm-mmm.’

Donna smiled even more as she thought back to Saturday night. The hen party Sarah was referring to had been for a woman that Donna used to go to school with. About a month ago, Susan Parker had popped into Shop&Save by chance as she’d been driving through the estate. They’d been really good friends at school but had lost touch when Susan had moved out of the area. Once they’d recognised each other, they had got chatting and Donna had found herself invited to the night out. She’d declined at first as she wasn’t sure she would know anyone else who was going, but Susan had mentioned a few names of women she knew, and said it would be great to catch up again.

In the week before the hen do, Donna had still had doubts about whether to go or not, but Keera persuaded her that she might have a bit of fun. And how glad she was of that now.

‘How I got his attention is beyond me,’ she continued. ‘There must have been lots of women his age that he could—’

‘Wait!’ Sarah held up a hand. ‘How old is he?’

‘Thirty-five.’ Donna dropped her eyes momentarily. ‘He’s too young.’

‘No, he isn’t.’

‘I’m forty-two.’

‘Don’t say it like it’s a disease!’ Sarah scoffed. ‘Besides, aren’t we supposed to be as young as we feel? And at least you look after yourself. Half the women on this estate walk around in their pyjamas and slippers.’

‘I suppose.’ Donna sighed loudly. ‘I’m not seeing him again, though.’

‘Oh! He didn’t want a second date?’

‘Technically that wasn’t a first, but yes, he did ask if he could take me out tomorrow night.’

‘And you said no?’ Sarah’s tone was one of incredulity.

Donna shook her head. ‘You know I don’t have time – what with looking in on Mum and getting to work and then there’s Sam, who couldn’t look after a flea without—’

‘The world won’t fall apart if Donna Adams doesn’t come to its rescue.’ Sarah folded her arms. ‘You should let that family of yours fend for themselves once in a while.’

‘Leave everyone to their own devices?’ Donna shuddered at the thought. ‘It would be carnage!’

A young woman with the brightest of red hair came towards the till, and while Sarah served her, Donna stood staring into space. If truth be told, she hadn’t thought of much else apart from Owen since Saturday evening. She could still recall the taste of him on her lips as he’d dipped his head to give her a long, lingering, goodnight kiss. A delicious shiver pulsed through her body.

‘Earth to Donna, hello!’ Sarah waved a hand in front of her face.

Donna giggled. ‘Honestly, though. It’s been such a long time since anyone’s been interested in me, I just keep thinking that maybe it was too good to be true.’

‘Will you listen to yourself? You haven’t had a good seeing to in months – just get in there and bang him one if you get the chance.’ Sarah picked up two mugs from beneath the counter. ‘I’ll make us a brew. And then I want to hear everything.’ She glared at Donna. ‘And I mean everything.’

Donna kept one eye on two teenage boys who had just walked in whilst Sarah went off to the staff room to make the tea. Sarah was just a few months older than her. Her hair fell to her shoulders, and she showed off pretty blue eyes below a blonde fringe. She wasn’t particularly overweight for her height of five foot four but she did have a tendency to wear tight clothes that emphasised, rather than complimented, her shape.

Donna wished she had curves like Sarah’s, but she was thin to the point of being scrawny. Most of the time she put it down to all the stress that came with her life, but a lot of it was to do with her erratic eating patterns and the fact that she was always on the go. Add that to the long-limbed build of a marathon runner and sadly she was never going to be as voluptuous as Sarah, no matter how much she would like to be. And, being a woman in her early forties, things had begun to sag that were beyond Donna’s control.

Still, she could dream. Owen had made her night a lot more fun than she had thought possible.

Moments later, Sarah passed a mug of tea to her.

‘I wish I’d been invited too,’ she said, wistfully. ‘You seem like you had a great time.’

Donna glanced up at the CCTV monitor again. The teens had been and gone with a couple of chocolate bars and a can of pop. There were only two customers in the shop at the moment, and they were in the middle of an argument. She turned to Sarah.

‘It was one of those perfect nights where you don’t expect anything to happen and then—’ She was interrupted by the ring of her phone, rolling her eyes when she saw who it was. ‘What’s up, Sam? Oh – but you have his phone?’ Donna looked confused as she spoke to the person on the other end. ‘Yes, I’m his mother, his next-of-kin.’ She gasped. ‘What do you mean— is he okay? He what? Oh, no. I’m on my way.’

‘What’s wrong?’ Sarah was already at Donna’s side. She touched her lightly on the arm.

Donna took a few deep breaths, trying to keep her panic at bay. ‘Sam’s had an accident involving a chainsaw.’ Her eyes glistened with tears. ‘He’s been rushed to A&E.’


The Estate by Mel Sherratt

If you want to catch up on the previous three books in The Estate series, they’re currently on offer in an Amazon Kindle boxset for £4.99. 

WWW Wednesdays (28 October)

WWW pic

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’m reading now:

written in the scars

Written in the Scars by Mel Sherratt

I started reading this yesterday and am very much enjoying it. Mel Sherratt’s books never disappoint! Written in the Scars is out on Friday.

Blurb:

Scars. Sometimes they’re visible. Sometimes they’re hidden deep within.
After years of living as a single parent, all Donna Adams longs for is someone to make her smile, to share hopes and dreams with, to keep her warm at night. But when that certain someone gives her the attention she craves, true love doesn’t always follow the right path.
Home from the army, Lewis is a changed man. Angry and consumed by grief, troubled by nightmares and flashbacks, his mind is worse now than ever. Shutting out what he’s seen isn’t easy, but he risks losing everything he’s come back to if he doesn’t, including his sanity.
Megan Cooper hides her scars for fear of being rejected. Mary Marshall can’t always remember how she got hers.
If the past could be erased to make a better future, we’d all want that, wouldn’t we? But life is never that easy for the residents of The Mitchell Estate…
WRITTEN IN THE SCARS is the fourth book in The Estate Series but each one can be read as a standalone novel.

out of the darkness

Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan

I started reading this a couple of days ago and just want to savour it so I’m deliberately trying to read it slowly. I’m hoping to review this next week at some point so look out for my review.

Blurb:

DOES EVERYTHING IN LIFE HAPPEN PURELY BY CHANCE? OR ARE WE GUIDED TOWARDS PEOPLE WHO CAN HELP US IN OUR HOUR OF NEED?
Following the sudden death of her beloved mother, Jessica Gibson’s world falls apart. But after meeting a man who seems heaven-sent, she starts to feel she has something to live for again, and soon discovers that their connection holds far more significance than she could ever have imagined. And when Jessica strikes an unlikely bond with Alexandra Green, the two new friends are taken on an emotional journey into the world of the supernatural, where psychic mediums pass on messages from beyond the grave. What — or who — is causing the strange goings-on in Alex’s home? What secret is she keeping from Jessica? And who is the young woman who so badly needs their help? In a series of surprising twists and turns, the pieces of the puzzle finally fall into place and a mystery is unwittingly solved — with life-changing consequences for all involved.
‘Out of the Darkness’ is an uplifting tale of friendship and redemption; of love and loss. And life…after death.

merry mistletoe

Merry Mistletoe by Emma Davies

I started reading this book late last night and plan on finishing it this morning, it’s such a lovely Christmas read.

Blurb:

Sherbourne Mistletoe has been prized and sold at the annual Mistletoe Fair for over a hundred years; but could this year possibly be the last? With her father’s sudden death and debts mounting up it looks as though Freya’s only hope for the future is to sell her beloved family home. And to make matters worse, the only contenders to buy Appleyard Farm, are the people she’d least like to sell it to – her rival growers, the Henderson brothers, who seem always to make life so difficult for her.
It’s magical stuff though, mistletoe, and the arrival of the mysterious Amos Fry, brings a glimmer of hope that might just mean Freya can fall in love with Christmas all over again.
As the snow begins to fall, cosy up and find your sparkle this Christmas with another big-hearted, and wonderfully warm read from the author of Letting in Light.

A Notable Woman

A Notable Woman by Jean Lucey Pratt

I’ve only read the very beginning of this book but I can tell it’s going to be a brilliant read. I can’t wait to read more!

Blurb:

In April 1925, Jean Lucey Pratt started a journal that she would keep for the rest of her life, producing over a million words in 45 exercise books. For sixty years, no one had an inkling of her diaries’ existence, and they have remained unpublished until now.
Jean wrote about anything that amused, inspired or troubled her, laying bare her life with aching honesty, infectious humour, indelicate gossip and heartrending hopefulness. She recorded her yearnings and disappointments in love. She documented the loss of a tennis match, her unpredictable driving, catty friends, devoted cats and difficult guests. With Jean we live through the tumult of the Second World War and the fears of a nation. We see Britain hurtling through a period of unbridled transformation and the shifting landscape for women in society. A unique slice of living, breathing British history, Jean’s diaries are a revealing chronicle of life in the twentieth century.


I recently finished reading…

record store of the mind

The Record Store of the Mind by Josh Rosenthal

This is a great celebration of music and was a chance for me to learn about some artists I’d not heard of before. I highly recommend it! Click the link above to read my review.

Blurb:

Grammy-nominated producer and Tompkins Square label founder Josh Rosenthal presents his first book, The Record Store of the Mind. Part memoir, part “music criticism”, the author ruminates over unsung musical heroes, reflects on thirty years of toil and fandom in the music business, and shamelessly lists some of the LPs in his record collection. Crackling with insightful untold stories, The Record Store of the Mind will surely delight and inspire passionate music lovers … especially those who have spent way too many hours in record stores.

Celebrating ten years in 2015, Rosenthal’s San Francisco-based independent record label Tompkins Square has received seven Grammy nominations and wide acclaim for its diverse catalog of new and archival recordings.

snowflakes at silver cove

Snowflakes on Silver Cove by Holly Martin

I adored this book, it was wonderful to be back in White Cliff Bay. It’s a great story with a mix of Christmas romance and brilliant humour.

Blurb:
Libby Joseph is famous for her romantic Christmas stories. Every December, readers devour her books of falling in love against the magical backdrop of the Christmas season. If only Libby believed in the magic herself…
Struggling to finish her current novel, Libby turns to her best friend and neighbour George Donaldson to cheer her up. But George also needs a bit of support himself. Nervous about getting back into the dating saddle after splitting from his wife, he and Libby strike a deal. She will teach George how to win over the ladies, and Libby will in turn be inspired to inject her novel with a good dose of romance.
As Libby and George explore the beautiful White Cliff Bay on a series of romantic Christmas-themed dates, Libby finds herself having more fun than she’s had in ages and…discovers feelings that she never knew she had for George.
But is it too late? Will George win someone else’s heart or can Libby act like the heroine in one of her stories and reach for her own love under the mistletoe this Christmas?
Snuggle up with a piece of Christmas cake and mulled wine, and spend the festive season at White Cliff Bay. You won’t want to leave! Christmas at Lilac Cottage also out now.


What I’ll be reading next:

12080721_10208053670124026_1305089176_n

The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

I’m lucky enough to be on the blog tour for this book so my review will be posted on the 2nd November so please keep an eye out for it.

Le Vie En Rose

Bookshop owner Sarah Smith has been offered the opportunity to exchange bookshops with her new Parisian friend for 6 months! And saying yes is a no-brainer – after all, what kind of a romantic would turn down a trip to Paris…for Christmas?

Even if it does mean leaving the irresistible Ridge Warner behind, Sarah’s sure she’s in for the holiday of a lifetime – complete with all the books she can read!

Imagining days wandering around Shakespeare & Co, munching on croissants, sipping café au laits and watching the snow fall on the Champs-Élysées Sarah boards the plane.

But will her dream of a Parisian Happily-Ever-After come true? Or will Sarah realise that the dream of a Christmas fairytale in the city of love isn’t quite as rosy in reality…

A deliciously feel-good Christmas romance perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Julia Williams

how to be brave katherine

How to be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras

Reeling from her mother’s death, Georgia has a choice: become lost in her own pain, or enjoy life right now, while she still can. She decides to start really living for the first time and makes a list of fifteen ways to be brave – all the things she’s wanted to do but never had the courage to try. As she begins doing the things she’s always been afraid to do – including pursuing her secret crush, she discovers that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But once in a while, the right person shows up just when you need them most – and you learn that you’re stronger and braver than you ever imagined.

meet me in manhattan

Meet Me in Manhattan by Claudia Carroll

I’ve been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it earlier this year. I actually pre-ordered it as soon as that was an option but when I was offered a review copy I couldn’t resist so I’ll be reading this very soon!

Blurb:

In a New York minute, everything can change …

You don’t mess with aspiring journalist Holly Johnson! The man she fell for is not all that he seems – because sometimes dating online doesn’t quite go to plan. She’s decided to fly to the Big Apple to surprise him and to get some answers. And if her plan works she’ll also get the scoop of her career …

But as she steps out of her yellow taxi and the first snowflakes start to fall, it’s Holly who has the surprise of her life.

What should be a dream come true is looking a little like a nightmare. But Holly is determined to get her New York happy ending!

My Weekly Wrap Up and Stacking the Shelves

This week has flown by, I can’t believe it’s Saturday already and time for my weekly wrap up!

#BC banner

Lots has been happening this week and my blog is probably the busiest it’s ever been to date! I’m part of the fabulous publisher Bookouture’s Christmas week over on twitter. Every day between the 22nd and 27th October fifteen bloggers, including me, are posting reviews, guest posts, Q&As and giveaways all to do with Bookouture’s Christmas books.

Here are the links to my posts so far. Please check them out and enter the great giveaways for a chance to win some ebooks.

Bookouture Christmas Week

Bella’s Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson

One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot

And here’s a page where you can go straight to the giveaways (I have more giveaways in the coming days so will keep updating this link so please check it out:

Giveaway Page (BookoutureXmas)

BC BOOKS BANNER (MINE) copy


This week I read four books (click the links to read my reviews):

One Wish in Manhattan  get yourself organized for christmas  Christmas wishes and mistletoe kisses  snowflakes at silver cove

One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot

Get Yourself Organized for Christmas by Kathi Lipp

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale

Snowflakes in Silver Cove by Holly Martin (review will be on my blog on Monday 26th October)


I’m currently reading:

robin talley what we left behind

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

I’m still reading this one and very much enjoying it. I had to focus on other books for review this week to meet a deadline but now I’m planning on spending the weekend reading this.

Blurb:

From the critically acclaimed author of Lies We Tell Ourselves comes an emotional, empowering story of what happens when love isn’t enough to conquer all.
Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They’ve been together forever. They never fight. They’re deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they’re sure they’ll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, their relationship will surely thrive.
The reality of being apart, however, is a lot different than they expected. As Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, falls in with a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.
While Toni worries that Gretchen, who is not trans, just won’t understand what is going on, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni’s life. As distance and Toni’s shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?

record store of the mind

The Record Store of the Mind by Josh Rosenthal

I started reading this yesterday and it’s very good. Anyone who loves, or has ever loved, listening to music on vinyl should go buy this book when it’s released soon.

Blurb:

“Josh Rosenthal is a record man’s record man. He is also a musician’s record man. He is in the line of Samuel Charters and Harry Smith. In this age where we have access to everything and know the value of nothing, musicians need people like Josh to hear them when no one else can.”
– T Bone Burnett
Grammy-nominated producer and Tompkins Square label founder Josh Rosenthal presents his first book, The Record Store of the Mind. Part memoir, part “music criticism,” the author ruminates over unsung musical heroes, reflects on thirty years of toil and fandom in the music business, and shamelessly lists some of the LPs in his record collection. Crackling with insightful untold stories, The Record Store of the Mind will surely delight and inspire passionate music lovers … especially those who have spent way too many hours in record stores.
Celebrating ten years in 2015, Rosenthal’s San Francisco-based independent record label Tompkins Square has received seven Grammy nominations and wide acclaim for its diverse catalog of new and archival recordings.

Books I plan on reading this week:

out of the darkness

Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan

I was offered the chance to review this book and I couldn’t resist, it sounds like an excellent read. I’ve been so looking forward to reading it and am really hoping I can start it early next week.

Blurb:

DOES EVERYTHING IN LIFE HAPPEN PURELY BY CHANCE? OR ARE WE GUIDED TOWARDS PEOPLE WHO CAN HELP US IN OUR HOUR OF NEED?
Following the sudden death of her beloved mother, Jessica Gibson’s world falls apart. But after meeting a man who seems heaven-sent, she starts to feel she has something to live for again, and soon discovers that their connection holds far more significance than she could ever have imagined. And when Jessica strikes an unlikely bond with Alexandra Green, the two new friends are taken on an emotional journey into the world of the supernatural, where psychic mediums pass on messages from beyond the grave. What — or who — is causing the strange goings-on in Alex’s home? What secret is she keeping from Jessica? And who is the young woman who so badly needs their help? In a series of surprising twists and turns, the pieces of the puzzle finally fall into place and a mystery is unwittingly solved — with life-changing consequences for all involved.
‘Out of the Darkness’ is an uplifting tale of friendship and redemption; of love and loss. And life…after death.

A Notable Woman

A Notable Woman: The Romantic Journals of Jean Lucey Pratt edited by Simon Garfield

This is a review copy that I was lucky enough to receive recently, it’s a long book so I expect to be reading it over the next few weeks but it sounds wonderful.

Blurb:

In April 1925, Jean Lucey Pratt began writing a journal. She continued to write until just a few days before her death in 1986, producing well over a million words in 45 exercise books over the course of her lifetime. For sixty years, no one had an inkling of her diaries’ existence, and they have remained unpublished until now.
Jean wrote about anything that amused, inspired or troubled her, laying bare every aspect of her life with aching honesty, infectious humour, indelicate gossip and heartrending hopefulness. She recorded her yearnings and her disappointments in love, from schoolgirl crushes to disastrous adult affairs. She documented the loss of a tennis match, her unpredictable driving, catty friends, devoted cats and difficult guests. With Jean we live through the tumult of the Second World War and the fears of a nation. We see Britain hurtling through a period of unbridled transformation, and we witness the shifting landscape for women in society.
As Jean’s words propel us back in time, A Notable Woman becomes a unique slice of living, breathing British history and a revealing private chronicle of life in the twentieth century.


stacking-the-shelves

I’m also joining in with Stacking the Shelves (hosted by Tynga’s Reviews), which is all about sharing all the books you’ve acquired in the past week – ebooks or physical books, and books you’ve bought or borrowed or received an ARC of.

Books I’ve bought this week:

aristotle and dante  city on fire  one sarah crossan  a miracle at macys

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg

One by Sarah Crossan

A Miracle at Macy’s by Lynn Marie Hulsman

ARCS I’ve received this week:

how to stuff up christmas  rest of your life   written in the scars   winters fairytale

How To Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake

The Rest of My Life by Sheryl Browne

Written in the Scars by Mel Sherratt

Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

Competition Prize:

Christmas Jumper

I was very excited to win a Harper Impulse ebook in a competition last week and even more excited when the book arrived on my Kindle and it was a book I’ve been dying to read. The book is Never Kiss A Man in a Christmas Jumper by Debbie Johnson. Isn’t that just the BEST title for a book? I’m sure it’s going it be a fab read!


So, that’s my week in books! What have you read this week? Have you bought any books that you can’t wait to read? Have you any other book-related news to share? Please tell me in the comments below! 🙂