Thursday, 26 February 2015

Secrets in the Sky - out 26 February


How far should you go to keep a secret?

No-one ever accused Sophie Campbell of being a coward. From caving trips to rooftop pranks, it appeared nothing could hold her back, especially once she landed a dream job promising travel all over the world.

But Sophies jet-setting lifestyle is not what it seems and shes been spending more time in the quiet English village of Saffron Sweeting than she cares to admit. When her beloved Great Aunt Wol dies suddenly, Sophie loses one of the few people who truly know her. As friends, family and an old flame gather for the funeral, questions soon follow. Worse, Sophie finds herself increasingly attracted to the man most likely to expose her secrets. Can she manage to guard her past, yet finally follow her long-held dream?

Featuring both new and familiar characters, this stand-alone romantic comedy is set two years before Saving Saffron Sweeting. With side helpings of British tea, cake and wit, Secrets in the Sky explores how finding the courage to be yourself can be the toughest challenge of all.


Bella looks incredulous, but before she can respond, theres a brisk knock at the front door.

Bugger, I think, who the hells that? Surely not someone trying to sell us solar panels in this weather? Bellas busy concocting our dinner, so I gather myself and head for the door.

When I open it, I find a tall woman with wavy auburn hair standing with her back to me. Shes wearing a chic navy suit with a peplum jacket, which shows off curves like Jessica Rabbit.

Then she whirls around on one heel and proclaims, At last! Youre the one sleeping in my husbands bed!

With that, she steps forward, and thrusts out a hand. Instinctively, I take a step back, but then notice her wide, mischievous smile.

Im so pleased to meet you, she says. Im Amelia.

I shake her hand cautiously. Her grip is enthusiastic and shes wearing a huge cocktail ring which winks at me, despite the gloom outside.

Im sorry, I say, apologising immediately for something I havent done. But Im not sleeping with your husband.

But Im really thinking: Joey the scumbag is he married and hasnt told me?
No, darling, not with my husband. Just in his bed, right? And I should have said ex-husband.

Umm…’ Im still not getting it.

Youre house sitting, correct? For Michael Hargraves? Youre wearing his dressing gown, you know.

Now I get it. Bellas Uncle Mike. And this is his dressing gown? Ugh. I hope its been washed.

Well, Im Amelia Hargraves. I own the estate agency in the village.

Oh, I say. The penny drops. Ive seen her occasionally in the post office and the bakers, always dressed beautifully and talking in that deep, posh way. Sorry. Yes. Would you like to come in?

Amelia strides past me happily, not needing, of course, to be shown the way to the living room. I shuffle after her, making sure the belt of Mikes dressing gown is tied securely.

Amelias standing in the middle of the room, head swivelling as she assesses her former home. Even though I am entirely blameless in the sleeping-with-the-husband department, I still feel awkward.

Where the bloody hell did that come from?

Shes looking, of course, at Stanley, who opens both eyes, lifts one clawed foot off his perch and echoes Bloody hell! at the top of his voice, adding Feed me! for good measure.

Hes temporary, I say. Great. Now shes taught Wols parrot how to swear. Some guardian I make.

Goodreads Link

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Author Biography

British by birth, Pauline Wiles moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2003. Apart from a yearning for afternoon tea and historic homes, she's never looked back.

Paulines writing has been published by House of Fifty, Open Exchange and Alfie Dog Fiction. Her debut novel, Saving Saffron Sweeting, reached the quarter final of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and was a number one Kindle Best Seller.

When not writing, she can be found getting the steps wrong in a Zumba class or calculating how many miles she has to run to justify an extra piece of cake. Her ambition is to sell enough books to cover the cost of flying herself and a reader to London for tea.

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I'm currently reading this book - check back for my review later this week.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

A Murder of Magpies - Judith Flanders

It’s just another day at the office for book editor Samantha Clair. Checking jacket copy for howlers, wondering how to break it to her star novelist that her latest effort is utterly unpublishable, lunch scheduled with gossipy author Kit Lowell, whose new book will deliciously dish the dirt on the fashion industry. But little does she know how much trouble Kit’s book is about to cause. Before it even goes to print. When police inspector Field turns up at the venerable offices of Timmins & Ross, asking questions about an undelivered package that was addressed to Sam, she knows something is wrong. The messenger sent to deliver the package was murdered, and then Kit goes missing. Suddenly, Sam's nine-to-five life is turned upside down and she is propelled into a criminal investigation. Someone doesn't want Kit's scandalous manuscript published and unless Sam can put the pieces together in time, they'll do anything to stop it.

This is the first novel from Judith Flanders. I loved the great insight she provides into an otherwise largely unknown (for me) world of publishing. It’s so detailed because as I later found out she has a background in publishing, and so I now do feel that I gained some insight and not just what someone thinks happens.  I really enjoyed this aspect of the book along with the main character she has created, who I really grew to like, so much so that I would love her as a friend if she existed in real life.

Although the book is in essence a whodunit/murder mystery it is in my opinion a great story told very well. There’s also a little romance thrown in and a Mother who always knows best -  and can prove it being a lawyer.

There are a few side stories running also around the publishing theme and authors and I found this aspect particularly interesting.

A great read if you like a mystery with a twist and can identify with a 40 something would be lady sleuth. I'll certainly be looking out for more fiction by this author.

My thanks to NetGalley and St Martins Press for supplying me with an advance e-copy of this book to review.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Here's looking at you - Mhairi Mcfarlane

Here's Looking at You
Anna Alessi – history expert, possessor of a lot of hair and an occasionally filthy mouth – seeks nice man for intelligent conversation and Mills & Boon moments.
Despite the oddballs that keep turning up on her dates, Anna couldn’t be happier. As a 30-something with a job she loves, life has turned out better than she dared dream. However, things weren't always this way, and her years spent as the ‘Italian Galleon’ of an East London comprehensive are ones she’d rather forget.
So when James Fraser – the architect of Anna’s final humiliation at school – walks back into her life, her world is turned upside down. But James seems a changed man. Polite. Mature. Funny, even. People can change, right? So why does Anna feel like she’s a fool to trust him?

This is my third Mhairi McFarlane book and it's from my personal shelf. I have to confess that after I read her first book "You had me at Hello" I was keeping this one - you know just in case there weren't any more! While I was saving it along came "It's not me It's you" for me to review so I saved it a little longer.

Most of what I said in my other review applies here - Mhairi is definitely a consistent writer so far. I won't be saying "oh, I liked the first book but then she went off a bit" - no definitely consistently good writing and consistently funny. 
Her social observations are just so amusing - one in particular stands out for me in this book- when they talk about the shame of someone using Google+ and who would be in your circles - very clever and true.

Yet again Mhairi triumphs in her use of language, thank goodness I read it on the Kindle as a few words I had to look up to find their meaning - so educational also.

The book cover blurb reads like a chick lit - but trust me it is so much more than that. The story line is wonderful and just when you think it's predictable - well it just isn't any more. There are some totally cringe worthy moments for Anna  - so well described that I felt her pain.

Now hurry up with that fourth book as I've read everything by this author now.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Shock of the fall - Nathan Filer

‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’

Although I finished this book from my personal shelf a week or so ago I waited until today to publish my review to coincide with Time to Talk Day on 5 February. Just take 5 minutes out of your day tomorrow to talk about Mental Health, click through the link to find out more about the day.

It's not often I enjoy books that win awards, because they are usually trying to be too clever and they lose their message. This book is so different, it really has a message which is told by Matthew who is a young schizophrenic. 

The book is so insightful and I guess that comes from the author's time spent as a mental health nurse. You see the world through Matthew's eyes and it all makes sense - how he interprets the world and why to the rest of us it seems strange. 

Matthew has a real wit and his character is so likeable you really root for him and feel his setbacks as if they are your own. I recommend you read this book - it is sad in places but it is also so funny.