Book Review ~ ‘Greatest Hits’ by Laura Barnett.

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Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Music
Release Date: June 15th 2017.

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SYNOPSIS

The new novel from the author of the number one bestseller The Versions of Us.

One day. Sixteen songs. The soundtrack of a lifetime…

Alone in her studio, Cass Wheeler is taking a journey back into her past. After a silence of ten years, the singer-songwriter is picking the sixteen tracks that have defined her – sixteen key moments in her life – for a uniquely personal Greatest Hits album.

In the course of this one day, both ordinary and extraordinary, the story of Cass’s life emerges – a story of highs and lows, of music, friendship and ambition, of great love and great loss. But what prompted her to retreat all those years ago, and is there a way for her to make peace with her past?

Daughter. Mother. Singer. Lover. What are the memories that mean the most?

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Book Review ~ ‘Greatest Hits’ by Laura Barnett ~ 5 Stars!

Laura Barnett’s The Versions of Us was one of my favourite books of 2015; so much so I have a copy in both Hardback and Paperback. So it was with much excitement and a little trepidation that I entered into Barnett’s second novel Greatest Hits. How will she create such a heartfelt story, one with as many twists and turns as she did before? But I needn’t have feared. Greatest Hits is a completely different story, but in it’s own way, just as fantastic as The Versions of Us.

Greatest Hits is an immersive reading experience, which takes us through the life of fictional singer Cassie Wheeler. A famed star, whose music and personal life had been at the forefront of the media for years before she disappeared from view, everyone is wanting to know when her next album will be released. As a middle-aged Cassie returns to her studio for the first time in years, she listens to and chooses the songs that best chronicle her life’s road as she takes herself and the reader down memory lane.

Laura Barnett writes with such an understanding of human emotion that in the space of 400+ pages, as a reader you feel as though you too have experienced all that Cassie has. She no longer becomes a character that you are reading about, but another part of you that you never knew you had. Throughout Cassie’s life, through her loves, losses, successes and failures, all are expressed through Barnett’s powerful prose, and the meaningful lyrics of the songs that Cassie chooses as those that have shaped the person she is.

Greatest Hits  is a reading experience that melds music and literature in a way that few people have achieved before. With lyrics by both Barnett and singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams, readers can also hear the sixteen of Cassie’s records in song on Williams’ album Songs from the Novel Greatest Hits.

5 Stars!


 

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Greatest Hits

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Songs from the Novel Greatest Hits

~ Kathryn Williams ~

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Laura Barnett

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Kathryn Williams 

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Book Review ~ ‘Summer in San Remo’ by Evonne Wareham.

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Summer in San Remo by Evonne Wareham
(Riviera #1)
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Mystery
Release Date: 16th July 2017
Publisher: Choc Lit

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SYNOPSIS

Anything could happen when you spend summer in San Remo.
Running her busy concierge service usually keeps Cassie Travers fully occupied. But when a new client offers her the strangest commission she’s ever handled she suddenly finds herself on the cusp of an Italian adventure, with a man she thought she would never see again.
Jake McQuire has returned from the States to his family-run detective agency. When old flame Cassie appears in need of help with her mysterious client, who better than Jake to step in?
Events take the pair across Europe to a luxurious villa on the Italian Riviera. There, Cassie finds that the mystery she pursues pales into insignificance, when compared to another discovery made along the way.

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Book Review ~ ‘Summer in San Remo’ by Evonne Wareham ~ 5 Stars!

Summer in San Remo is the perfect summer read! If you are feeling stuck in a slump in rainy Britain, then this is the perfect book to transport you to sunny Italy! Romantic, fun but with hints of mystery throughout, this is the a book you devour!

We’ve all had strange requests in our jobs, but our heroine Cassie takes the cake. Having to find a husband in a day would be something she’d laugh at before, but as her ex-boyfriend has left her penniless, she’ll take any job she can. Cassie was a real laugh, and I loved following her story. She was a strong character, but felt all the more real to me by her willingness to scrape low. She didn’t just wait for something easy to come along, and she knew that to get her and her business out of the black, she’d need to do some not so great things.

Enter Jake. Oh what a gem. I adored his relationship with Cassie. The sparks flew and they had the best scenes together. Flirty, fun and warm, it was heartwarming to read. Both have problems in their lives, but together they put aside their past differences and get to heart of their mysterious job in San Remo – because there are mysteries to solve, and it’s these two who have to do it.

Escape to San Remo this summer with Evonne Wareham’s fantastic warm novel of love and mystery. You won’t be disappointed.

5 Stars!

*Review copy kindly provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*


 

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Evonne Wareham

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Book Review ~ ‘Where Rainbows End’ by AnneMarie Brear.

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Where Rainbows End by AnneMarie Brear
Genres: Historical, Romance.
Release Date: 23rd May 2017.
Publisher: Choc Lit

35212578

 


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SYNOPSIS

Can she hold on to her dreams?

It’s 1850 and the Noble family have travelled to the other side of the world to start a new life after scandal drove them from their native England. Pippa Noble is determined to reclaim their honour by making her father’s plan for an outback farm reality, although her ambition is frowned upon by a society that has very set ideas about a woman’s place.

Pippa learns the hard way about the unforgiving nature of the bush, sometimes with devastating consequences. And when unfortunate circumstance leads to Pippa tending the farm alone, it is the friendship of neighbouring estate owner Gil Ashford-Smith that helps her through.

Then an unexpected visitor from England arrives, putting Pippa’s dreams in jeopardy. But she refuses to let go. She will hold onto her family’s land, even if it means losing everything else.

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Book Review ~ ‘Where Rainbows End’ by AnneMarie Brear ~ 5 Stars!

AnneMarie Brear’s Where Dragonflies Hover was one of my favourite historical reads of last year, and with Where Rainbows End Brear has made the list for 2017 too!

A beautifully written historical novel Where Rainbows End brilliantly depicts early Australian life in the colonies through the eyes of a foreigner, and having never been to Australia myself I lived and learned through the eye of our heroine Pippa as she takes it upon herself to bear the struggles of building a new life in a beautiful, yet harsh and unknown land.

Pippa was the kind of heroine I love. Her fierce devotion to helping her family have the best new beginning, and her willingness to shoulder the burdens herself in order to achieve her dreams made her strong, likeable, and also inspiring. The relationships she forges with those around her, including the respect she earns from the workers on her land, and the others in the area will make you proud of her, as though she is someone you know yourself.

What I loved most about this novel was the perfect timing of the ultra slow-burning romance between Pippa and Gil. The novel takes place over a number of years, and the characters change so much throughout the time after overcoming some of the hardest battles, and through it, Pippa and Gil grow as friends, part and regret as love and jealousy comes to one before the other feels it, and all the while a hope grows in the reader that they will find a way to be happy together.

My only disappointment was that it ended so soon! The last chapter ends so quickly, that you turn the page hoping for more. But this is a firm 5 star read, and a fantastic book for anyone who loves heartfelt historical fiction.

5 Stars!


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AnneMarie Brear

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Book Review ~ ‘New Boy’ by Tracy Chevalier.

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New Boy: Othello Retold by Tracy Chevalier
(Hogarth Shakespeare)
Genres: Adult, Historical, Retellings
Release Date: 11th May 2017.

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SYNOPSIS

From the New York Times bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring comes the fifth installment in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, a modern retelling of Othello set in a suburban schoolyard

Arriving at his fifth school in as many years, a diplomat’s son, Osei Kokote, knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again.

The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970’s suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practice a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Peeking over the shoulders of four 11 year olds Osei, Dee, Ian, and his reluctant girlfriend Mimi, Tracy Chevalier’s powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling.

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Book Review ~ ‘New Boy’ by Tracy Chevalier ~ 5 Stars!

In ‘New Boy’ Tracy Chevalier has created an incredible retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello that creeps up on you, and lingers in the mind long after you’ve turned the last page.

The never altering routine of a school playground is thrown into disarray when 11 year old Osei arrives at his new school. Why does this young boy cause such an uproar? Because this is 1970s Washington, and Osei is black. The themes of race and segregation of the time are heartbreakingly portrayed in this retelling where not only is Osei victimised for the colour of his skin, but so is the young Dee, a white girl who chooses to befriend him.

Chevalier’s decision to base this story in a school was so clever, as nowhere else in a modern setting would the trail of lies, rumours and jealousy be so rife as in a school playground where, as is truthfully stated by one of their teacher’s “kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime.”

I adored this retelling of Othello, and many parallels can be found between this and the current Black Lives Matter movement in America. I strongly recommend this book, as the issues raised are made even more black and white by their being portrayed and noticed by children who can only have picked up their casual racism from the careless comments of adults.

5 Stars!


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Book Review ~ ‘The Girl on the Beach’ by Morton S. Gray.

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The Girl on the Beach by Morton S. Gray
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Mystery
Release Date: 24th January 2017.
Publisher: Choc Lit

33297899


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SYNOPSIS

Who is Harry Dixon?

When Ellie Golden meets Harry Dixon, she can’t help but feel she recognises him from somewhere. But when she finally realises who he is, she can’t believe it – because the man she met on the beach all those years before wasn’t called Harry Dixon. And, what’s more, that man is dead.

For a woman trying to outrun her troubled past and protect her son, Harry’s presence is deeply unsettling – and even more disconcerting than coming face to face with a dead man, is the fact that Harry seems to have no recollection of ever having met Ellie before. At least that’s what he says.

But perhaps Harry isn’t the person Ellie should be worried about. Because there’s a far more dangerous figure from the past lurking just outside of the new life she has built for herself, biding his time, just waiting to strike.

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Book Review ~ ‘The Girl on the Beach’ by Morton S. Gray ~ 5 Stars!

Morton S. Gray’s debut novel will blow you away! The perfect mix of romance, suspense and drama, I was at the edge of my seat throughout Ellie and Harry’s story, desperate to uncover the truths that were hidden, and see my favourite characters safe in their new life.

‘The Girl on the Beach’ tells the story of Ellie, single mum to teenager Tom, who after an abusive marriage has uprooted her life to a new town in the hope to keep her and her son safe when her ex-husband is released from prison. But her newly created life is threatened with the arrival of the new headmaster at her son’s school, a man who she knew and loved in another life as Ben, but who doesn’t remember her, nor goes by that name.

I loved the will-they/won’t-they storyline of Ellie and Harry, especially as we begin to see cracks in the life that Harry has created for himself, and Ellie starts to worry that she is clinging to the past. They were both strong characters who still had their flaws, which made me really connect to them. Ellie’s determination to keep her son safe above all else made for some brilliant Mother/Son scenes, which were some of my favourites in the book. As well as seeing both Ellie and Harry grow as characters, it was Tom’s development that I adored witnessing the most.

With some fantastic secondary characters, and a thrilling plot which will have you racing to the end, ‘The Girl on the Beach’ is a great mystery that you will still be thinking of long after you’ve turned the last page.

5 stars!


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Morton S. Gray

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Book Review ~ ‘Tell Me No Secrets’ by Lynda Stacey.

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Tell Me No Secrets by Lynda Stacey
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Mystery
Release Date: 9th April 2017.
Publisher: Choc Lit

34837416


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SYNOPSIS

Can a secret be worse than a lie?

Every time Kate Duggan looks in a mirror she is confronted by her guilt; a long, red scar reminding her that she was ‘the one to walk away’ from the car accident. Not everyone was so lucky.

On the surface her fiancé Rob is supportive – but the reality is different. He’s controlling, manipulative and, if the phone call Kate overhears is anything to go by, he has a secret. But just how dangerous is that secret?

When Kate begins work at a firm of private investigators, she meets Ben Parker. His strong and silent persona is intriguing but it’s also a cover – because something devastating happened to Ben, something he can’t get over.

As Kate and Ben begin their first assignment, they become close. But, what they don’t realise is how close to home the investigation will bring them, or who will be hurt in the process.

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Book Review ~ ‘Tell Me No Secrets’ by Lynda Stacey ~ 5 Stars!

What a brilliant second novel from Lynda Stacey. I say this many a time, but Choc Lit has done it again!

Kate’s story is one that will resonate with many; how long can you allow yourself to be in the dark when someone you love has secrets that are damaging your life? I adored Kate, she was hard-working, had sound morals, and above all cared about those in her life. Her history was tragic, and in taking care of her twin sister Eve, paralysed from a car accident that killed their brother James and left only Kate walking away without serious injury, you can feel her survivor’s guilt seep off the page, and makes you root for her.

In walks Ben; (oh Ben, what a guy!) the Son of the ‘Parker & Son’ where Kate begins her new job in the world of Private Investigating, she begins to really accept how out-of-control her relationship with her fiance Rob has turned. Suspicious of his secrecy, and lack of warmth, their current investigation turns personal, and Ben is there to hold her up, and make her understand how badly she is being treated. Ben was a superb hero for our story, and I loved seeing how their individual healing processes developed after they met each other.

With twists and turns, mystery turning into a dangerous game of life and death, Tell Me No Secrets had me racing to the finish line, desperate to see how my new friends would fare in the war against drugs. Lynda Stacey made the situation feel so real by including a number of brilliantly created secondary characters, who you could relate to, or at least recognise from day-to-day life. Eric and Eve’s story was one that had me grinning from ear to ear, and I really enjoyed seeing the inner turmoil of Isobel, who even if you don’t like, you’ll see as a real human being with true emotions and fears.

A brilliant 5 Star read from Lynda Stacey!


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Book Review ~ ‘Wintersong’ by S. Jae-Jones.

 

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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
(Wintersong #1)
Genres: Romance, Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: 7th February 2017.

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SYNOPSIS

Dark, romantic and unforgettable, a fantastical coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and The Darkest Part of the Forest.

Deep in his terrifying realm underground, the cold and forbidding Goblin King casts a dark shadow over nineteen-year-old Liesl. Her grandmother has always warned her to follow the old laws, for every year on the longest night of winter, she claims, the Goblin King will emerge into the waking world in search of his eternal bride. Sensible and plain, Liesl knows it’s her duty to keep her beautiful sister Käthe safe from harm. But Liesl finds refuge only in her wild, captivating music, composed in secret in honor of the mysterious Goblin King.

When Käthe is stolen by the Goblin King, Liesl knows she must set aside her childish fantasies to journey to the Underground and save her. Drawn despite herself to the strange, beautiful world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she finds herself facing an impossible choice. With time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Set at the turn of the 19th century, when young upstart composers like Beethoven were forever altering the sound of music, S. Jae-Jones’ richly imagined debut spins a spellbinding tale of music, love, sisterhood, and a young woman’s search for self-actualization.

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Book Review ~ ‘Wintersong’ by S. Jae-Jones ~ 5+ Stars!

My God, this book. Just wow! I mean, just…umm. *speechless*

I may ramble incoherently, as I often do about the books I love, but this stunning book is so rich, sexy, magical that I feel I need to just scream about it from the roof-tops.

Once there was a little girl who played her music for a little boy in the wood. She was small and dark, he was tall and fair, and the two of them made a fancy pair as they danced together, dancing to the music the little girl heard in her head.

First off – That beginning. Oh my god! Fairy tales are a big favourite of mine, and from that first paragraph, I was enraptured, I could picture it in my head and was excited for the story to come. Music and magic coming together are a match-made in heaven for me, and as the story unfolds the sensual effect of music, magic and love left me breathless.

Secondly, the characters will stay with you for a long time after you finish reading. Liesl,  Käthe, the Goblin King – all were so well-developed and so extraordinary that they leapt off the page and I could see everything about them that I needed to to really believe in them.  I understood the battle of light and dark in the Goblin King, I felt Liesl’s reluctance to find herself, after years of helping her siblings find themselves, and Käthe, the girl who realises after it is too late how much she loves her sister.

Written in mind for the elder YA audience, this book has everything in it I wish I’d had to read as a teenager. Deeply, but not overtly, sensual, I would not recommend it for under sixteen years old, but there is something about this book that will trap you in its spell and let you recognise your own desires through Liesl’s experimentations with her music.

A stunningly written, sensual and fantastical romance, Wintersong is a must-read for fans of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Angela Carter.

5+ Stars!

*Review copy kindly provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*


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