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Ismay1012
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The Old Man and the Cat: A Love Story
The Old Man and the Cat: A Love Story
Price: £15.47

3.0 out of 5 stars In search of understanding cat behaviour, 13 Oct. 2015
This is the short but true story of how Nils Uddenberg, a retired Swedish Professor of Psychology, became beguiled by a stray cat that literally turned up in his garden one cold winter morning and was determined to adopt Nils and his wife. He was no cat-lover but there was something about this homeless little queen that he found most appealing, irresistible even. With a vote of confidence from his children and grandchildren, the little speckled grey and brown cat soon found herself the centre of an adoring family, spoiled with the best cat food the store had to offer and the comfort of sleeping on the bed alongside her mistress or curled up neatly alongside her master when he toiled away in his study.

More than anything else though, Nils wanted to truly understand his little cat. He wanted to know why she could be so loving, even adoring and so full of purrs one minute and then aloof the next. He wanted to know if she understood humour and many other traits similar to human animals. He tried to apply his knowledge of psychology to her behaviour. He read widely about what other authors and experts had written, examining their conclusions with care and an eye for detail. I found this part of the book less involving and interesting than the story of an elderly couple adopting a homeless cat. I could well understand their worry when the cat spent nights away from home. I empathised with their joy on her safe return. They were kind pet owners even though they had never entertained the thought of taking on the care of a pet before.

I would like to thank Netgalley and Thomas Dunne Books for my copy of ‘The Old Man and the Cat: A Love Story’ sent to me in return for an honest review. I did enjoy some parts of the memoir but others were quite tedious and I did not enjoy those parts at all. It seemed way over the top to try to psychoanalyse a cat. Cats just are what they are, some friendly and loving and others mischievous and bad tempered!


24 Hours: An intense, suspenseful psychological thriller
24 Hours: An intense, suspenseful psychological thriller
by Claire Seeber
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A chicane of twists and turns in this ‘race against time’ psychological thriller, 12 Oct. 2015
The action in this fabulous psychological thriller takes place within 24 hours, starting from the first memory Laurie Smith has of the events after a fire took hold of the Cornish spa hotel where she was enjoying an overnight stay with her dearest and most precious ‘bestie’ Emily.

The narrator of the story is Laurie who we find in casualty with the other survivors of the fire. She overhears a policeman stating that she is one of the people who died in the fire. Straightaway she knows that it is Emily that has died. Convinced that she was the intended victim of the murderous arson attack she decides to go on the run, reasoning that she will be safe if everybody thinks she has died a tragic death. She feels compelled to find her daughter Polly, who has been on a short holiday of her own in the Disneyland theme park in France with her maternal grandmother. They are due to return that day and Laurie is convinced that she and Polly are in mortal danger. She fears that her estranged husband, renowned but unstable artist Sid, has decided to take revenge following a disagreement about Poll’s access visits.

Thereafter a frantic search for Polly begins. Laurie must get to Polly before Sid, or whomever it was that tried to kill her finds out that the wrong friend was murdered. A roller coaster of daring and thrilling action ensues, complete with flashbacks that explain the sad back-story of a whirlwind love that ended in infidelity and arguments. Polly’s desperation and fear is palpable, the chapters short and snappy as the tension builds up and the story escalates in pace until the thrilling and terrifying conclusion.

This was an absolute cracker of a story with many flawed characters each with interesting stories of their own skilfully interwoven into the main story. The race against time was a compelling theme, with Laurie’s lack of resources to make it to the station in time to ensure her daughter’s safety, meeting other characters on the run, ducking and diving to avoiding her identity being revealed. All this contributed to the tension of this intense, fast-paced, twisty and turny thriller that will keep you guessing right up to the very last page.

I would like to thank Netgalley and Bookouture for my copy of ‘24 Hours’, sent to me in return for an honest review. This is a very good read within the genre that will keep you engrossed and on the edge of your seat. I would not hesitate recommending it to my friends and family.


Pretending to Dance
Pretending to Dance
Price: £2.85

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming and involving family saga, 12 Oct. 2015
Molly spent her childhood on the family estate in the remote hills of Morrison Ridge in North Carolina. She was well loved and had an idyllic childhood, but a shocking event in her teens led to her leaving her home and moving away, never to see any members of her wider family in the ensuing years. Twenty years later she and her husband decide to adopt a child, but Molly has kept a family secret from her husband and is scared that the background checks needed to secure a successful adoption will reveal the sordid truth of what happened the night she made the greatest mistake of her life. She fears that her deception will jeopardise her hopes of an open adoption and may well end her happy marriage.
When she hears about the death of her birth mother she revisits her past and resolves at last to reveal the truth of her family to her husband. He encourages her to return to her roots. But when visiting Morrison Ridge and the home she had loved so much, Molly discovers that the life she had always loved so much was built upon a flimsy web of secrets and half-truths. Rocked to the core Molly makes her peace with her family, a peace that will enable her to face the future with confidence, creating a happy and stable life for her own family.
I have always enjoyed Diane Chamberlain’s books and this one is no exception. Her storytelling is well crafted and involving and her characters vivid and beautifully created. They become like dear friends whom the reader really cares about and can understand. I loved the way this novel ended, a full and satisfying circle of events that enabled the ending to be so genuinely happy. Molly deserved such an ending. I thought the title was inspired for these are the lessons taught to Molly in her childhood, that she should grasp her future and go for it wholeheartedly.
I would like to thank Netgalley and Pan for my copy of ‘Pretending to Dance’, sent to me in return for an honest review. I really enjoyed reading this novel and would not hesitate to recommend it to fans of Diane Chamberlain and this genre


Meet Me on the Beach
Meet Me on the Beach
Price: £4.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A story with silver linings ahead, 11 Oct. 2015
Karen Stewart is widowed when her self important, bully of a husband dies from a sudden heart attack. She is not surprised at all, as Harry always drank way too much, but increasingly so more recently. He’d been a secret alcoholic, putting on a game face for his friends, but sometimes requiring help to get home safely.

After the funeral and the reading of the will, her thoroughly spoiled stepdaughter Sophie announces that she will be living with Karen for the foreseeable future, until she gets herself sorted out. Karen acquiesces with her wishes, worn down by what she thinks of as a guilty secret about the night Harry died. Unable to tell anyone what actually happened, she eventually unburdens herself to William who is the local vicar and a very sympathetic and good listener. He assures her she has done nothing wrong, but weighed down by her responsibilities and an overwhelming feeling of guilt, Karen decides to take a short break from her beautifully presented home in the village and seek solace in a beachside location.

She finds the natural rhythm of the tides soothing and soon arranges to rent a self-contained room from local café owner Mike Best. She enjoys their chats and soon begins to relax away from the hustle and bustle of her family home. They get on well as Mike has also been recently widowed and can understand her grief and need for a complete change. But while Karen is away from home she receives a surprise visitor and yet another tragedy is unfolding in the village. She has important decisions to make that will change her life forever.

I enjoyed reading 'Meet Me on the Beach' and was soon steeped in Karen’s life, her grief and her ensuing problems. This story was filled with trials for Karen but she bore them patiently and followed what her heart told her to do. Within the main thread of the story there were many issues that added interest to this novel. There was a fledgling but forbidden romance, serious issues of depression and grief after the shock of bereavement, family loyalty and enduring friendship. But it all turned out well in the end with the characters helping one another through their troubles. I have read all of Hilary Boyd’s novels with great enjoyment and this one is no exception. I would like to thank Netgalley and Quercus for sending me a copy of 'Meet Me on the Beach' in return for an honest review. Despite the subject matter of this novel it was a light and breezy read told with skill and optimism.


Behind Closed Doors (Detective Inspector Louisa Smith Book 2)
Behind Closed Doors (Detective Inspector Louisa Smith Book 2)
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A catalogue of missed opportunities showers this compelling story, 11 Oct. 2015
DCI Louisa Smith is assigned to assist with the investigation when Scarlett Rainsford is found living very close to her family in her hometown. She had disappeared ten years previously when she was holidaying with her family in Greece aged just fourteen years old. Since then there had been no sightings or word from Scarlett and despite investigations centred in both Greece and England, she had not been discovered until this current new investigation had stumbled upon her living locally as a housekeeper. Louisa had been part of the initial investigation and was determined to find out what had happened that fateful night that Scarlett had disappeared. She wanted particularly to know whether she had run away from her family or if she had been abducted and also to seek justice in the new police enquiry
As the investigation proceeds more questions are raised than answered. Lou begins to gently question Scarlett, hoping to reveal helpful intelligence. She and Scarlett develop a mutual respect for each other and more than anything Lou wants to help Scarlett get through her ordeal and reunite her with her family. Puzzling observations and developments within the current investigation lead to a frightening and compelling climax to this sad story of untold cruelty and depravity.
I loved this dark and disturbing crime mystery. Each new development added to my empathy and sorrow for what Scarlett had been forced to endure. She was the unluckiest of characters with so many missed opportunities for her to be brought to a place of safety. I admired her courage and fortitude throughout her various encounters with the most evil of criminals and was not at all surprised that she felt wholly let down by humankind and as if life offered nothing for her. Her depression was palpable and kept me engrossed, turning the pages eagerly in order to find out if she had a different, uplifting or appealing future.
I would like to thank Netgalley and Sphere for my copy of 'Behind Closed Doors' sent to me in return for an honest review. This is a very good read within the Thriller/Crime genre but it will also shock you and leave you reeling as it is so graphic and deals with such odious and self-seeking criminals preying upon the weakest and most vulnerable of characters.


The Secrets We Share
The Secrets We Share
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful family story where love conquers all, 11 Oct. 2015
This is a real corker of a story and it is also the first time I have read a novel written by Emma Hannigan, but it certainly won’t be the last, and with a nice back catalogue to investigate I’m assured of more reading bliss.

This story starts when Nathalie Conway suffers a devastating bereavement – her best friend is tragically killed in a car accident when they are returning with their dates from their prom night. Nathalie takes the loss very badly, going way off the rails. Her mother Amber decides to take a daring gamble and send her to visit her maternal grandmother in Ireland. Nathalie had always been told that her grandmother was dead, so she is piqued with curiosity.

Clara is delighted with the notion of meeting her granddaughter for the first time. Her son Max had left home, never to return, after he had learned of a terrible family secret that broke his heart. He arranged to swap courses and complete his training as a doctor in America and since he had left home his family had been dead to him. Clara reasoned that this could well be the icebreaker and that if she and Nathalie got on well together it may well lead to a reunion of her family and her dearest dream could be realised.

This story flows on with many truly magical moments. The characterisation is wonderful and soon each person within this story seems like a dear friend, one that you really care about. The theme of family, love, forgiveness and relationships is carried through with another storyline that involves a romance between Clara’s daughter and her ex fiancée. I loved the way a strong relationship with the females in the family was stitched together with their love of design and sewing. The idea of a memory quilt was so touching and appealing. I also greatly enjoyed the personal historical links that inspired this story. The author has used her family history to weave her story together with some fictional characters and events. It makes engrossing reading and I was desperate for a happy ending for Clara’s family.

I would like to thank Netgalley and Headline Review for my copy of ‘The Secrets We Share’, sent in return for an honest review. I would recommend this novel as an excellent read for fans of Literary Fiction. If you like dual time frame novels with a strong historical thread this is one that must not be missed. I also loved the ‘bonus material’ and will be sure to make the lemon cake, as it sounds absolutely yummy!


Make A Christmas Wish: A heartwarming, witty and magical festive treat
Make A Christmas Wish: A heartwarming, witty and magical festive treat
Price: £2.11

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A story with a magical sparkle, 1 Oct. 2015
Livvy dies in a tragic accident when she was distracted by the fact that she has discovered that her husband Adam is having an affair with Emily. She leaves behind her husband Adam and Joe, her beloved son, who is on the autistic spectrum. Joe depends so much on Livvy, they are incredibly close and nobody else can calm him down and settle him like his mother. She really understands him. As she is pronounced dead on the hospital gurney, she knows that she will never be at rest: she has unfinished business in her life and she is determined to fight for the vaguest possibility of returning to Adam and Joe and working through their problems: after all Joe needs her so desperately and she and Adam had been so in love, such a great team, before problems beset them.
In the after world her spirit guide Malachi, a sleek black cat, is on hand to prepare her for her afterlife. But Livvy refuses to cooperate. She will not leave Adam and Joe behind and is more determined than ever to get Adam back, winning him over from Emily. She is jealous and angry, malicious and out for revenge. But she is in a state of limbo, she can’t get her old life back and she cannot go forward either. Can Malachi steer Livvy in the right direction so that this story has a ‘happily ever after’ for everyone, and most of all so that Livvy can feel contented and ready to move on?
Written in three parts, this is a story with magical forces working to resolve the many problems caused by Livvy and her untimely death. It tells the story of the past, the present and the future, with all of the stories pointing the finger at the fairest and best possible solution. However Livvy is a very strong character and she can only see the resolution from her own point of view. I did not warm to this character at all. She was self-obsessed and selfish. She was inconsiderate and full of rage. My favourite character was Joe. I particularly liked the way he worked through his problems by making lists that made a précis of the story so far, drawing particular attention to the pros and cons of what had happened. It was a personal heartfelt list. He thought things through but considered the problem from everyone else’s point of view as well as his own.
Although this story had elements of magic and supernatural happenings, I did enjoy reading it. It was strangely compelling even for a sceptic like myself. It was well written and dealt well with the issues of guilt, remorse and grief. The characters were well crafted, engaging and interesting, with an eclectic mixture of personalities and opinions, just like in real life itself. In the end I found myself really enjoying the finale of the story and feeling quite emotional. I would like to thank Netgalley and Avon for my copy of ‘Make A Christmas Wish’, sent to me in return for an honest review. I was glad I had persevered with the novel despite it being so very different from my usual choice of reading matter.


The Wild Child: Secrets always find a way of revealing themselves. Sometimes you just need to know where to look: A True Short Story
The Wild Child: Secrets always find a way of revealing themselves. Sometimes you just need to know where to look: A True Short Story
Price: £0.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The other side of life: a foster carer’s story, 29 Sept. 2015
‘The Wild Child’ in this case is Casey and Mike’s emergency foster placement Connor, with them for a solitary weekend, while other secure accommodation can be arranged for him, He’s an eight-year-old boy, abandoned by his birth mother and the son of a criminal currently serving time in prison. He wreaks havoc within the family even within hours of being delivered to them in a prison van, escorted by three burly escorts; fighting with Casey and Mike’s long-term foster son Tyler and running away from their home when he is punished for his bad behaviour. He may be very small and have the looks of an angel but he is attention seeking, rude and very street-wise. He plays off the adults in the household against their foster-son, threatening Tyler and causing him to feel unloved and insecure. He is a manipulative boy, worldly wise and yet he is still a ‘little boy lost’ with no sense of security and lots of problems that require expert help. What can Casey and Mike do to help Connor? They are dedicated to fostering and helping children who are in need of carers. These are the questions for discussion during this emergency weekend placement. Should they offer to keep him for longer and lay the foundations of trust and security?
This true story makes very painful reading. Connor is more than a lovable rogue and has experienced life at the very edge of acceptable behaviour. He has physically attacked a carer, told untruths that could have serious consequences should his claims be believed, his language is foul and he is not a lovable cuddly child. He is hard to find appealing but at the same time he has not had an easy life in a loving home with good role models. Children with this sort of background are challenging and need expert care if their lives are to be turned around. Whilst I felt very sorry for Connor I could not find it in myself to actually like him, I’m ashamed to say. But society had all sorts of children within it and some are just not lovable.
I would like to thank Netgalley and Harper Element for sending me a copy of ‘The Wild Child’ in return for an honest review. I found the story compelling in that I wanted to know how it ended but I just could not like Connor.


Unexpected: A True Short Story
Unexpected: A True Short Story
Price: £0.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully told true story full of insight and empathy, 28 Sept. 2015
Rosie Lewis, a foster carer for Bright Heights Fostering Agency, accepts a newborn baby into her family. Hope, abandoned by her single mother after her birth, was lying in her hospital cot attached to tubes when Rosie first saw her, a delicate ‘early birth’. After visiting her in hospital regularly, finally Hope was allowed to go home with Rosie, who learns that the shock of her birth has had a profound effect on her mother who, it appears, did not know she was pregnant.

Allowed access to her daughter Ellen, Hope’s birth mother, makes no effort to touch her baby during her frequent two-hour contact sessions, but she is always punctual and never misses the opportunity to visit Hope. Rosie is surprised by this, but she is determined to try to facilitate a relationship between mother and daughter, as it seems ever more likely that Hope will be placed for adoption if her mother continues to physically reject her. But how can Rosie get Ellen to open up and accept her beautiful daughter?

Beautifully written and full of insight and empathy, this is a very short true story written by Hope’s first ‘mother’ Rosie Lewis. It made compulsive reading because, as a mother myself, I just could not understand why Ellen could not reach out and nurture her tiny, helpless daughter. But as the story develops and Ellen unbridles herself to Rosie I felt full of compassion and understanding for the concerns and fears Ellen was feeling about her new motherhood. I really enjoyed this heartwarming story and would like to thank Netgalley and Harper Element for sending my copy of ‘Unexpected: A True Story’ in return for a thoughtful and considered review. It took me only a few hours to read and I was absolutely glued to my Kindle to find out what happened to little Hope in the end. I can wholeheartedly recommend this as a really lovely story for fans of this genre.


Star Teacher (Teacher Series Book 9)
Star Teacher (Teacher Series Book 9)
Price: £7.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More exciting and heart warming tales from the Head teacher’s Log Book, 27 Sept. 2015
‘Star Teacher’ documents Jack Sheffield’s ninth year as head teacher of Ragley-on-the-Forest primary school. It’s 1985 in this novel and the year ahead promises to be full of changes for Jack, as he strives to maintain his school’s fine record. I have followed the ‘Ragley-on-the-forest’ school series from the very beginning and enjoyed every one of them. Jack ‘s inimitable style is easy to read and very entertaining. I lived through these times myself in my position as a teacher in a small village school and the bells of truth pealed loudly for me. I particularly like the way Jack calls to mind the era with his mention of the current pop music blaring away in his car on the journey to school and also by his collection of his daily newspaper ‘The Telegraph’ (the same one we have delivered daily), referring to the headlines of the day. At school the children continue to have a rich and interesting curriculum but, as always, pearls of wisdom or misconception tumble from their innocent mouths.

Another thing I love about this heartwarming series of novels is the familiarity and empathy I feel for the characters, returning to my reading year after year. School secretary Vera is pondering about taking retirement, a new teacher is welcomed into the staff room and Ruby finds love and companionship in an old admirer who wants to look after her and spoil her rotten. Jack himself develops his teaching with some lecturing at his old college and Beth and his young son John continue to enrich Jack’s busy life. As John reaches his third birthday Jack has a very important appointment to keep, and as the current story draws to the end the familiar cliffhanger kept me guessing about how Jack’s story would be further developed.

I would like to thank Netgalley and Transworld Digital for my advance reading copy of ‘Star Teacher’ sent to me in return for an honest review. I absolutely loved this gem of a story and cannot wait to read Jack’s tenth book in the series. I will continue to think about this wonderful story long into the future.


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