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Three Amazing Things About You
Three Amazing Things About You
Price: £4.74

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully told heart-warming story, 15 Jan. 2015
I really loved this story about three women whose lives collide in the most unimaginable way when their lives become forever linked and lifelong relationships grow out of their experiences.

Hallie has cystic fibrosis. She has wonderful friends and a devoted mother but her illness has been getting far worse more recently and she has been placed on the transplant list. Confined to a wheelchair and needing to use oxygen to help her get air into her tired lungs, she feels that life has passed her by. Receiving a transplant is by no means guaranteed and indeed time is running out for Hallie. Soon she will not be well enough to receive surgery. Romance is totally out of the question for her and even her ex has found a new love in his life.

Tasha meets and falls in love with her new boyfriend. It is an instant attraction, both knowing they have found their soul mates although they are like chalk and cheese. He is an adrenaline junkie; no challenge is daunting to him, whereas Tasha is not at all sporty and rather afraid of challenges. In fact she is a born worrier and every time he goes out on ‘an adventure’ she imagines the most terrifying things happening. But they are so in love and their friends can see that this indeed is a true and everlasting love.

Flo meets her boyfriend Zander when she is left her employer’s home in return for looking after her treasured cat for the rest of his life. Zander’s sister had hoped to be left the flat when her aunt died. It was her chance of living independently from her brother, striking out alone. Zander is horrified when his sister finds out the arrangements set out in the will and is rude to Flo. He is apologetic; they enjoy each others company and so begins an enduring friendship that turns into love.

As Hallie occupies herself with her web page ‘Three amazing Things About You’ sorting out the problems of others, she harbours a carefully hidden secret: a secret she can never admit to. Filled with empathy and advice she fills the time waiting for a call from her transplant liaison officer. But will she receive that all-important call before her time runs out?

This is a wonderful story about love, friendship and support. The storytelling is magnificent, each story developed with seamless expertise. The characters are carefully crafted and moulded so that they seem like close friends, friends you come to care about. There is everything in this novel, humour, sadness, joy, endless caring and a wonderful, cleverly organised ending that fills you with happiness. Jill Mansell has done it again, created another marvellous novel filled with warmth, a fabulous story and heart-warming characters. Congratulations! I’d like to thank her publishers and Netgalley for my copy of ‘Three Amazing Things About You’ in return for an honest review.

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train
Price: £1.79

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That fatal glimpse, a fantasy shattered., 15 Jan. 2015
Rachel is divorced, unhappy and out of control. She has not yet confessed to her friend, with whom she shares a house, that she has been sacked from her job a train journey from where they live. Her heavy drinking has had a huge influence and impact on her life. Daily she takes the train, keeping up the charade that she is still going to work as usual. She knows the route by heart but is especially interested when the train stops at signals overlooking a row of back gardens near where her ex-husband and his new family live, although it is not the home that she used to live in with her ex-husband that most interests her. It is the home of a young couple for which Rachel has built a perfect life in her own imagination. She has even named them Jason and Jess. They are deeply in love and their lives are blessed by sunshine and never-ending happiness. If only it could be like that in her own life, instead of enduring loneliness, sadness and darkness.

One morning, travelling on the commuter train as usual, Rachel sees something truly shocking when the train stops at the red lights as usual. Something that shatters her fantasy and urges her to take action. In that brief glimpse and a gasp of surprise her life is turned up side down. Rachel seizes the chance to become player and not a watcher. She is determined to influence what she saw happen and decides to go to their village that night. This is the direst error of judgement that she could ever make and an error that puts her life in the gravest of danger.

I absolutely loved this tense psychological thriller. It was both gripping and enthralling and kept me turning the pages until way past bedtime. The storytelling was electrifying with twists and turns in every which way. It kept me guessing until the very, very fabulous ending. I cannot commend this novel highly enough and I would like to congratulate Paula Hawkins for her fantastic novel. What a wonderful talent she has. I would also like to thank her publishers and Netgalley for my copy of ‘The Girl on the Train’ in return for an honest review. It’s 5*’s all the way from me.

The Charter
The Charter
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and disturbing story of greed and subterfuge., 9 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Charter (Kindle Edition)
Sarah Morton is devastated when she receives the news of her father’s death on the island of Anglesey. Returning to her childhood cliff top home for her father’s funeral, she soon finds herself in grave danger as she struggles to find out about the mystery surrounding her father’s death. When her husband disappears very soon after the funeral she sets out to search for him fearing he may be lost. When she discovers his body at the foot of dangerous cliffs along the coastal path she recoils in misery and horror, she stumbles and falls as the pathway gives way underneath her and remembers nothing until she wakes up to find herself in hospital.

The more she delves into the past the more she comes to believe her husband and her father have been the victims of a double murder. When she finds out that she is expecting a baby she is even more determined to discover the truth and for justice to be served. But who can she trust? Her father has left a series of ambiguous messages at the offices of his solicitor that may unravel the truth. As she follows the trail he has carefully laid for her to lead her to her inheritance she feels the presence of evil following in her wake. Steeped in the history of the island and a terrible shipwreck over a century and a half ago, it seems as though her father may have discovered a hoard of treasure recovered from the shipwreck. A ghost of the past and greed for this treasure in the present cast dark and menacing shadows over her search and as the story reaches a thrilling climax so the danger for Sarah escalates.

This is a cracker of a story full of menace, plot twists and shadowy overtones of evil. The fast pace of the storytelling is a wonderful and exciting, encouraging you to keep turning the pages so that you can find out how the story ends. Told in voices from the present and the past there are thrills and spills that keep you guessing until the very last page. When her father’s secrets are at last revealed so Sarah can plan for her future, laying to rest ghosts of the past to rest.

The Matchmaker
The Matchmaker
Price: £5.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully told story of family, friendship and enduring love., 9 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Matchmaker (Kindle Edition)
Dabney Kimball is devoted to her home, the island of Nantucket. She has lived there her entire life. She is well loved and respected and knows almost every resident of the island and a good many of the summer visitors. Married to ‘Box’, a Harvard professor who divides his time between the island and his scholarly duties on the mainland, Dabney is content with her life, except that she is worried about her daughter who she is convinced is about the make the biggest mistake of her life and marry a man who is entirely wrong for her.

Locally Dabney is known as ‘The matchmaker’. She has dozens of successful matches under her belt. When she introduces a couple she can tell immediately if they are suited to each other by the aura around them. A pink aura is wonderfully good sign but a green aura spells disaster. It has proved to be a foolproof method of predicting the outcome of the union, and Dabney is proud of her ‘gift’.

As the story is developed it becomes clear that Dabney is unwell, but, not one to fuss, she ignores her tiredness and other symptoms. But when the love of her life Clendenin, the father of her daughter, returns to the island after being away the entire lifetime of Agnes their daughter, whom he has never even met, she soon comes to believe that she has found the reason for her feelings of unease. She is lovelorn and feels guilty for all of her deceptions. She begs Clendenin to keep the secret of their liaisons – she is unable to ignore her feelings for him – and he agrees to a relationship shrouded in secrecy. So begins the double-life of Dabney Kimball. They revel in their mutual love and enjoy a passionate reunion. They are true soul mates; their love is their destiny. However Dabney wants to ensure the romantic futures of all of those friends and family around her are established and make sure they are blessed with loving and fulfilled futures. She sets about matchmaking for one final time and sits back to revel in her good work. With a terminal illness at last diagnosed and with her time running out Dabney seeks her peace and forgiveness from her loved ones.

I have to confess to being a huge fan of the novels of Elin Hilderbrand. I have read them all but this one is my very favourite. The storytelling is sublime, the characterisation beautifully crafted and the ending very satisfying. Elin knows her craft and writes will skill and authority. I shed tears, I smiled and I literally revelled in every word of this warm and compelling story about love, friendship and family. It was an utter master class in writing.

Before I Go
Before I Go
by Colleen Oakley
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A plan with a difference, 6 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Before I Go (Hardcover)
How cruel life can be. On the very eve of the third anniversary of good health and surviving the adversary of odious cancer, Daisy hears from her doctor that her cancer is back and this time there is nothing he can do to stop it. It is absolutely certain to take her life prematurely and there is not a lot of time left to make plans and arrangements for the future. No, not Daisy’s future, that isn’t what she is worried about. It’s the future of Jack, her gorgeous husband, who is expecting to celebrate triumphantly the demise of his wife’s cancer and look ahead to their future together. She cannot bear to think about what will happen to Jack without her.

All Daisy can think of is how Jack is going to get along after she has died. He is the love of her life but he is also infuriatingly disorganised, untidy and totally reliant on her in so many different ways. Daisy thinks about what she can do to help him get through his life after her death and she comes up with a sure-fire plan to assure that Jack will be well looked after. She must find him a wife. So begins an exhaustive search.

When Daisy finds an ideal match for Jack she is elated. But she is shocked to find out that they already know one another. Then the trouble really starts when Daisy realises that her husband may indeed be attracted to his new ‘friend’ and she finds out that this feeling is not at all welcome to her. She broods; she even worries as she suspects their infidelity. But could it really be so? Would Jack really cast her aside so easily and in the time of her greatest need? Daisy comes to the realisation that she is deeply unhappy. She wants her husband for herself, especially as their time to enjoy their life together is going to be so limited. She realises that she may have bitten off more than she can chew.

This is a heart-warming story about the love shared between two people. It clearly shows the different points of view of each party and examines what is important to each partner. I enjoyed this novel and would like to thank Colleen Oakley’s publishers and Netgalley for my copy of ‘Before I Go’ in return for an honest review. I wish Colleen success with her new novel.

A Way from Heart to Heart
A Way from Heart to Heart
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Take a chance on love?, 3 Jan. 2015
Facing widowhood after her husband Stuart’s tragic death in Afghanistan, Kate Hemingway is left to mourn the loss of her husband and bring up their young son George alone. She has good friends but her family life had been somewhat chaotic and her husband’s family were never really approved of her. They see George regularly but were never encouraging or even friendly with Kate. Her best friend is always eager to help out with babysitting and Stuart’s best friend Paul, a journalist, takes George out regularly, but he has always seemed very formal with Kate and has never asked her to join them on their days out.

Gradually Kate rebuilds her life. She throws herself into supporting disadvantaged teenagers through a community project she has founded and she takes a job as an occasional model. When she asks Paul to give her project some publicity he agrees to conduct an interview with her and to publish it to try and raise her profile. But as it turns out this has mixed blessings, stirring up interest from a surprising quarter. As she gets to know Paul better she is surprised to realise that he has always harboured feelings for her. However she is reluctant to build any new relationship because she wants to maintain the stability in her son’s life: he has already had to deal with the loss of his father and she does not want to see him hurt again.

This is a debut novel about friendship, grief, coming to terms with loss and rebuilding a life. But is there room in Kate’s life for love? If so, what if the relationship does not endure? Kate must either risk her son’s happiness and take a chance of finding happiness for herself, or take no risks at all. Which option will she choose?

I enjoyed this novel and would like to thank Helena Fairfax ‘s publishers and Netgalley for my copy of ‘A Way From Heart to Heart’ in return for an honest review. I wish Helena success with her debut novel.

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes
The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes
Price: £3.66

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A story of considerable warmth but both heart-warming and heartbreaking., 1 Jan. 2015
Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes is coming to the premature end of her life, cut short by her four-year battle with cancer. Her family are gradually coming to accept that there is no hope of a recovery and Rabbit is in a hospice with her loving family supporting her on her final journey. She has yet to break the news to her young daughter Juliet, or to decide who will continue to look after Juliet after her death, but there are no worries there. Her family and best friend are queuing up to become Juliet’s guardian; such is the love they share.

This story is not all darkness and gloom despite the very sad subject matter. As Rabbit drifts in and out of consciousness in her final days her story unfolds. It is the story of a remarkable and feisty young lady who adores her spirited and loving daughter: of her first and enduring love, of her triumphs and mistakes and of her incredibly close family who are heartbroken to see her decline, but determined to do their very best by her. It is incredibly moving, written with great sensitivity, humour and empathy. It has family at its very heart in all their wonderful and not so wonderful diversity; it is both triumphant and heartbreaking, light and dark, joyful and sad. Most of all it is a celebration of Rabbit Hayes and her extraordinary life with her family.

The storytelling is seamlessly elegant, the characters are woven into the story with a master-class of skill and the prose and dialogue are both well crafted and sparkling. The story takes us through a roller coaster of emotions and situations and is very enjoyable. I really loved this heart-warming novel and recommend it to you without hesitation. . I would like to congratulate Anna on an engrossing story and also thank Netgalley and Anna’s publishers for providing me with my copy of ‘The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes’ to read in return for an honest and considered review.

The Life Intended
The Life Intended
by Kristin Harmel
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart-warming new novel. I really loved it., 30 Dec. 2014
This review is from: The Life Intended (Paperback)
Kate Westhoven has grieved over the premature death of her much-loved husband for twelve years. Now she is about to start a new phase of her life. She has accepted a proposal of marriage and everything is looking as though she is ready to move on with her life. But she receives bad news: the catalyst for vivid dreams about her first husband in which she revisits the life she was intended to live, and this life includes a daughter called Hannah. In her dreams she instantly knows that she is Hannah’s mother, she remembers incidents of the life she never got to live and becomes very unsettled by the revelations she very often dreams about. Is it fair to go ahead with a new marriage? Her fiancé is the loveliest guy but sadly she comes to the realisation that she feels nothing like the love she had felt for Patrick. Is this just last minute nerves or are her dreams meant to guide her to a different life?

This novel is absolutely captivating, the storytelling is carefully crafted and the characterisation is wonderful. These characters quickly become like beloved friends that you really love and care about. I soon became totally engrossed in the story and couldn’t wait to find out how the story ended. The issues raised were about grief, acceptance, friendship, abandonment, fostering and love. The research undertaken into music therapy with deaf children was both informative and illuminating, adding further depth to this wonderful novel. I absolutely adored it. I would like to thank Netgalley and the publishers, Galley Books, for my advanced reading copy in return for an honest review. I would like to offer my congratulations to Kristin Harmel on her truly remarkable and hugely enjoyable new novel.

Secret Santa
Secret Santa
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magical Christmas Novella, 16 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Secret Santa (Kindle Edition)
Writing under the pseudonym of Scarlet Bailey, Rowan Coleman has written a very enjoyable novella with Christmas at its very heart. Sue Montaigne, who lives with her children in the family castle in the small Cornish town of Poldore, is at the heart of her local community. For years she has worked very hard arranging, casting and organising an annual Christmas pageant, including a nativity play and a Santa’s grotto where the children meet Santa on Christmas Eve and tell him of their Christmas wishes. Without a Santa this year (he has retired after years of service) she is left to find a suitable Santa at very short notice. It’s in a very long list of ’things to do’ for Sue, but perhaps the most pressing are urgent repairs of her damaged and leaking roof, or could it be telling her children that their absent father is not actually ‘away working’ but has actually left them for his latest ‘squeeze’?
Pushing all this out of her mind, Sue chooses her Santa (called Nick), delegates work to her friends and busies herself with sorting out her domestic problems. When she is at her most vulnerable a very handsome man new to the village invites her out for dinner. Could Santa have sent her a Christmas gift of her own or is this charming stranger just too good to be true?
I would like to thank Netgalley and the publishers of ‘Secret Santa’ for sending me a digital copy of this charming story in return for a fair and honest review. I’d also like to pass on my congratulations to ‘Scarlett Bailey’ for yet another lovely story, just perfect for getting you in the mood for Christmas.

The Language of Hoofbeats
The Language of Hoofbeats
Price: £3.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and involving story of family, friendship and forgiveness, 9 Dec. 2014
‘The Language of Hoofbeats’ is a wonderfully involving story about the riches and sorrows of family life. Jackie and her wife Paula move to a quiet location near the small town of Easley with their young adopted son Quinn and two teenage foster children, Armando and Star. Across the yard from them are their nearest and only neighbours, elderly Clementine and her husband Vernon. They have a beautiful horse called Comet, kept in a small enclosure just across the yard from their front door. Star, their troubled and lonely foster daughter immediately identifies with Comet’s isolation and frustration and pays him a visit, but Clementine is furious with her and demands that she does not visit him: he is highly strung and therefore she could get hurt. Clementine loathes the new family and is mean-spirited, grumpy and unhappy.

Jackie has relocated her family to further her career as a Veterinarian, taking over the local practice. She offers to inspect Comet when she hears how worried about him Star is. She wants to find out why he is pacing and is so unhappy. Although Clementine accepts the generous offer of a free consultation, she is still unwelcoming, and, when she is told that Comet needs treatment, she is unable to apply the medication herself. Star takes matters into her own hands and decides to run away with Comet, escaping in the dead of night, unable to stand the thought of Comet’s suffering. Thrown together by the disappearance of both Star and Comet and the worry it entails, the neighbours form an uneasy relationship, forcing themselves to put aside their animosity and practising the art of forgiveness and tolerance.

Catherine Ryan Hyde is a masterful storyteller. Her natural empathy and turn of phrase is second to none: her characterisation full of insight and intricacies that totally draw the reader into the story, thereby reaping the rich rewards of her fabulous new novel. I thought this was one of her very best and I have read them all apart from a very few of her novels written for young adults that I have yet to collect. When I was offered the chance to read and write an honest review of ‘The Language of Hoofbeats’ by Netgalley and on behalf of Lake Union Publishing, I was really excited. Congratulations Catherine on a yet another very fine novel. I absolutely loved it. My own background involves a love of horses and horseback riding, so for me I fully understood Star’s bond with Comet. I can highly recommend this novel – it’s an absolute must-read but have your tissues at hand as there are some very emotional scenes.

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