Hello July. How are you?
A new month means a new book to discuss.
This month, I have picked a book I have wanted to read for ages – Never Greener by Ruth Jones.
If you like Gavin and Stacey, you will be familiar with Ruth Jones. I am a huge fan of that TV show and so I am intruiged about this book. I hope you will join me in reading and discussing this novel.
Anyone can join in at any time in the month. I have posted a question below to kick off the discussion. Hopefully see you in the comments below.
About Never Greener…
The past has a habit of tracking us down. And tripping us up.
When Kate was twenty-two, she had an intense and passionate affair with a married man, Callum, which ended in heartbreak. Kate thought she’d never get over it.
Seventeen years later, life has moved on – Kate, now a successful actress, is living in London, married to Matt and mother to little Tallulah. Meanwhile Callum and his wife Belinda are happy together, living in Edinburgh and watching their kids grow up. The past, it would seem, is well and truly behind them all.by
I know it’s only July but I feel it’s never too early. The Christmas Killer is the first in a new crime series and if you love writers like Val McDermid and Ross Greenwood, then you’ll love this new thriller.
Here’s a little more about the book…
DI James Walker is ready for a quiet family Christmas in the sleepy village of Kirkby Abbey.
But when he opens an early Christmas present left on his doorstep, he soon realises it is no gift.
Inside is a gruesome surprise, and a promise – twelve days, twelve murders. Not long after, the first body is found, half frozen in the snow.
As the blizzards descend, panic spreads through the remote Cumbrian village – there’s a killer amongst them, and with eleven more victims to go, anyone could be next….
Can James stop the killer before they strike again?
OK, time to reveal the cover. Ready? Drumroll….by
Months later, Robyn is struggling to move on – but then she has a brainwave: The Never Have I Ever Club. Her handsome next-door neighbour Will helps her bring their fellow Yorkshire villagers together for some carpe-diem-inspired fun.
From burlesque dancing to Swedish massages, everyone has plenty of bucket-list activities to try, but it doesn’t take long for Robyn to realise what – or who – her heart truly desires: Will.
There’s just one problem: he’s Ash’s twin brother.
Make that two problems: Ash is moving home… and he wants Robyn back.
Mary Jayne Baker is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors.
Once I started reading, I fell in love with the endearing town of Kettlewick and its wonderful inhabitants. I couldn’t even really dislike Ash. He certainly has the charm everyone alludes to.
Will sounds perfect. Even though I couldn’t figure out which twin brother was going to get the happy ending, I was very much Team Will. I am saying no more about that.
Robyn is a great lead character. She shows a loving, caring side to her that makes her incredibly likeable.by
But Heidi doesn’t remember any of that. She’s lived her life since then with little memory of her friends and family and no recollection of the crime.
Now, it’s all starting to come back.
As Heidi begins retracing the events that lead to the assault, she is forced to confront the pain and guilt she’s long kept buried. But Heidi isn’t the only one digging up the past, and the closer she gets to remembering the truth, the more danger she’s in.
When the truth is worse than fiction, is the past worth reliving?
(Trigger warning – Monstrous Souls dives into the troubling world of child abuse and coverups.)
Monstrous Souls is the debut novel from Rebecca Kelly and is a throughly good read. It follows the aftermath of a traumatic event which left its one known survivor with a fractured life and fractured memory.
Fifteen years after the event, fragments of memory start to align and the lid is slowly lifted on a system of organised abuse of children, covered up and hidden at the highest levels.
At times the book can be hard to read, as the subject matter is disturbing, but the author does a wonderful job of drawing you though the story.by
When a stranger saves Luke’s life, he knows he’s been given a second chance. He’s going to make it count – and, determined to live each day to its fullest, he starts by saying yes to everything life has to offer.
Slowly but surely, Luke learns that a little bit of blue-sky thinking can go a long way, and things start to look up.
But when Luke’s new resolve is tested, will he return to his old ways? Or can one fateful moment truly save a life?
If any of S.D. Robertson’s previous novels are anything to go by, I knew that How To Save a Life was going to be an emotional rollercoaster before I even began. And yes, it was.
Oh Luke. He’s such a complex and compelling character. On the first few pages, he’s not the most likeable of characters. He reminded me a little of Scrooge in that he is cynical, a loner and has no interest in the world around him.
The author throws the reader straight into Luke’s life and the more I got into the story, the more empathy I felt for him. As you start to get to know his history, you begin to understand his choices and his demeanour. Also, as a character, he really does develop and evolve over the course of the novel.
The supporting characters are also strong, Meg and Nora especially. I felt so sorry for Rita. Grief presents itself in so many different ways and I had nothing but sympathy for her. There were moments I could empathise with and parts I could relate to.by
After a simple mistake causes an unintended role swap, she becomes the one seeking advice from an unlikely source!
When reading the blurb, I was immediately drawn to the premise of this novel and indeed, from the first page, I was drawn into the plot.
This book, told as narrative and a series of e-mails, focuses on Fliss and Ellie. I like how it’s told from the point of view of both and it goes between the two effortlessly.
Fliss is an agony aunt. It is not what she dreamed of being. It’s more a profession she fell into but, having been married for eighteen years, she has always believed that the sacrifices she made in her own career was worth it in exchange for her happy marriage.
However, when she gets an e-mail from Ellie, a woman who asks for advice in talking to the man she loves but has never spoken to, it forces Fliss to take a look at her own relationship with her husband, Jasper. She realises things are not so perfect.
I felt an enormous wave of love and empathy for both characters but especially Fliss. I’ve never really considered that this stranger offering advice is also a human being with their own complexities. Their lives can be as messy and beautiful. I had never considered that side of the coin before.
These women are at different stages in life and I liked the juxtaposition of the two. Most of all, I loved the relationship that developed between these two women and that it begins through the written word.by
Jemima Dewberry wears her heart on her sleeve. Her weakness for bad boys, coupled with her track record for making bad decisions has led to endless heartbreak. The only trouble is, she can’t seem to kick the habit.
On top of that, her “dream” job at Yorkshire Portions magazine hasn’t turned out to be what she’d hoped, and she seems to have developed the knack of annoying her boss without even trying. It doesn’t help that the new girl seems to have taken an instant dislike to her. All that’s keeping her there are her best friends Anna-Lisa and Aidey, who have picked up the pieces of her shattered heart more times than they care to remember.
When Jemima’s latest boyfriend turns out to be no better than the rest, the hurt and humiliation is almost unbearable. She declares she’s finally through with love, and swears off men for life. But when charismatic Caspar De Verre walks into the office with his dangerous good looks and mesmerising smile, she’s utterly captivated, and her promises to Anna-Lisa and Aidey not to let her heart rule her head are soon forgotten.
But is Caspar all he seems? Anna-Lisa and Aidey have their doubts. And Herbert, the happy-go-lucky black Labrador Jemima’s looking after, doesn’t seem to like him either.
As Jemima falls for Caspar’s charms she finds herself being forced to confront the struggle between her head and her heart. But which one will prove the most powerful?
And will Jemima get the happy-ever-after she so desperately craves?
Tell That To My Heart is the first novel in the Heartshaped series. I loved Eliza’s previous series, Life on the Moors, so I have been looking forward to getting stuck into a new book from her.
Mim Dewberry should be enjoying the fact that she has the job of her dreams. In reality, she hates where she works. Also, having had her heart broken by her ex, she has sworn off men. Well, that’s until Casper begins work at her office. Even when her friends, Anna and Aidey share their misgivings about him, she doesn’t listen to their advice. Whether it’s advice she should heed, I am hoping you’ll find out for yourself.
Mim felt like a sister and I became very protective of her. I wanted to hug her. Casper gave me a Daniel Cleaver/Jasper from The Holiday vibe and, like Herbert, I couldn’t quite decide if I liked him.
The plot is paced well and I couldn’t figure out how it would end. As normal, I am not going to say much more about the plot and what happens as I don’t want to spoil it but what I will say is that there are some very bad characters in this book. There was one in particular that I didn’t even try to like.by
Sometimes the best holidays are the ones you least expect…
After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them.
But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort.
So now Sarah’s battling mosquitos, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape. Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret.
To celebrate the release of The Summer Island Swap, Samantha and Aria have shared an extract with us today. Enjoy.
***** beginning of extract*****
‘Being a veterinary nurse alone is more challenging than I ever imagined,’ she continued, ignoring my comment. ‘Look, Sarah – two other members of the lottery syndicate are also taking holidays. One of the surgeons is going on a cruise… I wish you would trust me on this.’
I opened my mouth to protest but the stiffness that had taken hold of her shoulders stopped me. We shouldn’t argue. It was rare that we both had a Saturday off. Tonight we were going to the cinema. My chest glowed at the prospect of Amy’s usual excitement over a blue slush drink and ketchup slathered hot dog. Sometimes it was hard to believe she was twenty-three.
But then I was twenty-seven and hadn’t even been kissed. Not properly. One-night stands and short relationships didn’t count. I meant proper kissing like you saw in the romantic movies I loved watching, where it was savoured on a bench or under a lamppost. I should have had that with Callum but looking back, the spark wasn’t there; I never got the sense of wanting a kiss with him to last forever.
‘A trip away is exactly what we both need,’ continued Amy as tentative rays of sunshine that had snuck through the blinds retreated behind assembling April clouds. ‘Especially you.’ Her voice sounded thick. ‘You’ve worked your guts out all these years, giving me a roof over my head and so much more – like funding my training to become a nurse at Paws & Claws. Words can’t explain how much it meant to me, having this flat, your home to move into when I turned eighteen and could finally get away from him.’
‘This has always been our home – even when you weren’t here.’
Her eyes shone. ‘Well, this is my small way of paying you back.’
‘There’s no debt.’ I rubbed her arm and crouched down by her side.by
TWO WRITERS, ONE HOLIDAY. A ROMCOM WAITING TO HAPPEN…
January is a hopeless romantic who narrates her life like she’s the lead in a blockbuster movie.
Gus is a serious literary type who thinks true love is a fairy-tale.
But January and Gus have more in common than you’d think:
They’re both broke.
They’ve got crippling writer’s block.
And they need to write bestsellers before summer ends.
The result? A bet to swap genres and see who gets published first.
The risk? In telling each other’s stories, their worlds might be changed entirely…
January has just lost her father, she’s facing a publishing deadline and then she realises that her nemesis, Gus, is her new neighbour.
I love this novel and found it so addictive. I couldn’t stop reading and when I wasn’t, I couldn’t wait to get back to it.
Gus and January are enthralling characters and an interesting couple. Both felt so real and normal. They were flawed, layered, unique and each carry their own emotional baggage. I loved them as a potential couple. What actually happens, I am not going to tell.
The plot was compelling and unlike books i’ve read before. However, at the same time, it held the same charm that my favourite romantic comedies hold. In fact, I could see this as a movie. The setting was so vivid and I wanted to jump into the novel.by
Ursula, Gareth and Alice have never met before.
Ursula thinks she killed the love of her life.
Gareth’s been receiving strange postcards.
And Alice is being stalked.
None of them are used to relying on others – but when the three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide, there’s only one thing for it: they have to stick together. Otherwise, one of them will die.
Three strangers, two secrets, one terrifying evening.
I have become such a big fan of C.L. Taylor’s books so I was excited to be involved in the blog tour for her latest book, Strangers.
Alice is being stalked and this thought becomes more terrifying by the moment. Even a new man doesn’t make things better.
Ursula used to be a teacher but, after losing her boyfriend, she is carrying around so much guilt. She is now a courier, just trying to get through each day.
Gareth is a security guard in a shopping centre. He cares for his elderly mother who is suffering from dementia. When he begins to find postcards from someone he thought was long gone, it becomes a worry.
C.L. Taylor is one of my favourite authors of psychological thrillers and this book didn’t disappoint. It plays mind games with the reader.
Strangers does take a while to build in terms of pace. It is told from the point of view of Alice, Ursula and Gareth and yes, because of this, it does jump around a little. The stories all seem disconnected but that is the genius of this book. I spent the whole book wanting to turn the page to find out what was going to happen to these three people and how they were going to end up all together by the end – an end I didn’t see coming. It was plotted and developed well.by
Would you take the second chance you’ve always dreamed of?
It’s been ten years since Emma Stevens last laid eyes on Jake Murray. When he left the small seaside village of South Quay to chase the limelight, Emma’s dreams left with him.
Now Emma is content living a quiet and uneventful life in South Quay. It’s far from the life she imagined, but at least her job at the local hotel has helped heal her broken heart.
But when Jake returns home for the summer to escape the spotlight, Emma’s feelings quickly come flooding back. There’s clearly a connection between them, but Jake has damaged her heart once already – will she ever be able to give him a second chance?
To celebrate the release of The Summer of Taking Chances, Lynne has shared an extract with us today.
***** beginning of extract*****
Emma Stevens and Jake Murray grew up in the small seaside village of South Quay, both of them dreaming of glittering careers on the stage. Ten years ago, Jake left the village, and is now a successful actor living in London, while Emma is still living a quiet life in South Quay, renting a room in her best friend Lizzie’s cottage, working in a local hotel, and barely remembering the dreams she and Jake once shared. Then Jake returns to South Quay for the summer…
The day after she learns that Jake is back, Emma goes for a walk along the beach…
Calling out to let Lizzie know where I was going, I left the cottage, turning out of Saltwater Lane onto the appropriately named Shore Road. Heading past the shops selling beach-balls, sunblock, postcards and flip flops, and through the car park – empty now of day-trippers’ cars – at the end of the road, I came to the stones at the top of the beach.
The expanse of sea in front of me was as still as a mill-pond, and the sun was sinking towards the horizon, streaking the sky with red and gold. Two teenage girls were sitting on the stones sharing a portion of chips, while a family, mother, father, and two boys, were playing cricket on the strip of sand between the stones and the incoming tide, which had yet to reach the end of the breakwaters. I went down onto the sand and started walking westwards towards the headland, glancing up occasionally at the large houses, built in a variety of styles that lined this part of the shore. Gradually, the houses became fewer and further apart. I passed a woman walking a dog, and a fisherman in waders casting a line, and then, as I rounded a particularly high breakwater, I saw Jake Murray, standing on the water’s edge, with his back to me, throwing stones into the sea.by
Kelly ran a marathon… and wound up running a house. With a ghost in it.
Kelly Mellios is a stunning, athletic woman, who has learned–the hard way–to value herself. Having just finished her first marathon in the alluring Greek town of Nafplio, she bumps into Alex, a gorgeous widower with three underage children, who is desperately looking for a housekeeper.
The timing seems perfect, seeing that Kelly aches to start a new life, and Nafplio seems like the ideal place to settle down. She accepts the position on the spot, but little does she know that Alex’s house has an extra inhabitant that not even the family knows about…
The house is haunted by Alex’s late wife, who has unfinished business to tend to. By using the family pet, a quirky pug named Charlie, the ghost is able to communicate with Kelly and asks her for help. She claims she wants to ensure her loved ones are happy before she departs, but offers very little information about her plans.
Kelly freaks out at first, but gradually finds herself itching to help. It is evident there’s room for improvement in this family… Plus, her growing attraction towards Alex is overpowering…
Will Kelly do the ghost’s bidding? How will it affect her? And just how strange is this pug?
To celebrate the release of her new book, Effrosyni has shared the first chapter of Running Haunted. Enjoy!
***** beginning of extract******
Kelly gave a luxurious sigh as she took a seat at a seafront café with her best friend, Efi. The girls had a view to the fort of Bourtzi, the magnificent landmark of the historical town of Nafplio. Under the strong sunshine, it looked as if it floated gently in the serene sea like a resting, off-white bird.
Leaning back in her comfortable chair, Kelly felt the pained muscles all over her body sing with relief. Thinking back to her amazing feat, she couldn’t help but give a cheer. ‘I’ve just finished my first marathon! I can’t believe it!’
Efi, who sat beside her, beamed at Kelly for a few moments, then said, ‘You’d better believe it, girl! I’m so proud of you! You’ve come so far to get this medal, and I don’t just mean the forty-two kilometres you just ran.’ She winked and hooked her mouth to the side.
Kelly gave a huge sigh, a shadow crossing her face. Instinctively, to hide it from her friend, she looked the other way and said with regret, ‘I know. Please don’t remind me…’
‘Hey, what’s this? It’s been over a year, Kelly… Let it go. Besides, you just proved you’re not the same girl any more. You’ve left all that misery behind you for good.’
‘You’re so right, Efi. And, from now on, I just want to look ahead, you know?’by
The children’s publisher, Puffin is celebrating its 80th birthday this year and today, along with Waterstones, they launch their online book festival, the Puffin Festival of Big Dreams.
It will be running for seven days (between 8th -14th June) and it will include exclusive activities for families and children.
The sessions will be at 10.30am and 3.30pm on weekdays and will run from 11am on the weekend. It will be streamed on both Puffin’s You Tube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/puffinbooks1 and Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/PuffinBooks/
The festival will be hosted by Blue Peter presenter, Radzi Chinyanganya and he will be joined by guests including Jacqueline Wilson, Jeff Kinney and Carrie Hope Fletcher. There will also be a chance to see the Coquet Island Puffins with the RSPB.
Puffin are also launching an accompanying activity kit which will include word searches, colouring sheets, an inspiration page, a reading list and a ‘draw your dream’ page. This can be downloaded here.by
Hello June. Anyone else pleased to see the back of May?
I have been looking forward to picking The Ballard of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins for our book club ever since I heard that there was going to be a new Hunger Games novel.
The fact that it was going to be told from Snow’s point of view intrigued me further. I can’t wait to start reading this one and I hope you join me.
Anyone can join the discussion below at any point in the month and, as usual, I have posted a question to get things going. See you there.
About The Ballard of Songbird and Snakes:
Ambition will fuel him. Competition will drive him. But power has its price.
It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games.
The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.
The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favour or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death.
Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute… and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.by
Cara has officially run out of men. Her most recent dates have gone from bad to worse, and when her dating app informs her there is no one left in her area to choose from, she is at a dead end.
But with a summer of events ahead of her, she needs to find a solution, fast; someone to keep her company at the never-ending weddings, family gatherings and gender reveal parties that she can’t face going to alone.
So when she meets handsome, confident, Millsy on a night out she may be in luck. They could not be more different in personality, but he too has a summer of events ahead and is desperate to get his family off his back about finding a ‘nice girl’. What if they made a pact to help each other out and be a plus one for the summer? Just as friends of course…?
Cara has officially run out of men. Having rejected every man on her dating app, she’s unsure what her next move should be.
Not to mention that her ex boyfriend has been invited to her cousin’s wedding and she has no-one to go with.
Then she meets Joe. Millsy to his friends. He also has a wedding to attend and just like that, they make the plus one pact. What could go wrong?
Cara for me was instantly likeable and she felt realistic. She’s strong, independent and fights for what she believes in, even if it means her cousin has more incentive to hate her.
I wasn’t so sure about Millsy to begin with. He seemed a little shallow but as the book progressed, you get to know more about him and first impressions are not always correct. Or are they?by