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Kirsty at Book - Love - Bug (Hampshire, UK)

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The Lake
The Lake
by Sheena Lambert
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Lake, 30 Dec. 2015
This review is from: The Lake (Paperback)
The Lake is gripping in an understated sort of way; I knew there is a mystery that needed unraveling and I knew what that mystery was but that was where the clues ended. The interactions between the characters kept me interested but it was not until the shocking outcome was revealed that I realised I had travelled from A to B without even knowing how I had gotten there.

This is not the sort of murder mystery where you are constantly watching for clues that the author might choose to drip feed you. Instead, you get totally caught up in the lives and dramas of the Casey family and the mystery body and the murder investigation takes second place to the lives of the people of Crumm.

Lambert portrays rural Ireland well and I felt like I had been in the pub with Peggy and her three older siblings and taken a walk down to the lake with Detective Ryan myself.

The Lake is only a short book but it is special. In the same way that Ireland grasps the hearts of those with Irish blood in their veins - you step off the plane and instantly feel like you're home and feel like you have never been away regardless of how long you are been gone - The Lake has that comforting feeling of familiarity. I didn't feel like I had to get to know the characters but felt immediately at home in their presence.

It takes some special writing to pull off a novel set over the course of a long weekend and set almost entirely in the pub but Sheena Lambert manages it with complete and utter ease. I look forward to reading more of Sheena Lambert in the future!


Love You Better
Love You Better
Price: £3.48

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Love You Better, 30 Dec. 2015
This review is from: Love You Better (Kindle Edition)
Love You Better is a light read, despite its serious undertones, which I read in one sitting. It was an enjoyable book, although I have to admit that I enjoyed the latter part more than the beginning which I found slightly repetitive and laboured in places, as various points are covered and then reinforced for the reader on more than one occasion and to be honest they were drilled home more than I would have liked.

The book tackles domestic violence and I thought it was well covered. It also deals with a difficult mother-daughter relationship, growing up in unconventional places and without a father and the mistakes that people make as they grow up even when they are truly in love. True love is never easy but how well can you ever really know someone?

I particularly loved the relationship between Effie and Smith from the moment Smith stepped onto the page and this really made the book what it was for me. I also really enjoyed the bonding which Effie and her mother finally get to do.

Love You Better might not be the most unpredictable book ever; for me, the ending was inevitable, but it was an ending which I enjoyed revelling in when it arrived. A promising romantic tale from Natalie K Martin.


Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper
Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper
Price: £2.74

5.0 out of 5 stars I loved every moment..., 30 Dec. 2015
Having adored Debbie Johnson's Cold Feet last Christmas (review here), I was delighted to be offered the chance to read Debbie's latest offering.

Debbie Johnson is back with a vengeance so I was far from disappointed. I had not realised that we were going to get to meet some old friends as well as new ones and this made my day! In Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper, we get a visit from Rob and Leah, and Rob's twin brother Marco.

Christmas really did come early, as Marco is just as delightful as Rob was in Cold Feet. Absolutely delighted I was. Having left Cold Feet wondering if any man could ever come close to Rob, I have discovered that his twin brother Marco can.

Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper is a story of fate, love and learning to let your barriers down and let people get close to you. I was instantly addicted and fell back into the utter adoration that Debbie creates so effortlessly. My heart longed for Marco to crash through Maggie's barriers (in a similar way to the way he came crashing into her life) and drag her into his hospital bed.

Debbie has the most incredible way with words; she creates the sort of chemistry on a page that most of us can only dream of. The story itself is genuinely really different - it is simple yet effective; it would make a cracking Christmas movie!

My only complaint is that it was over far too soon and as usual, Debbie leaves me longing for more! Who needs Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy this Christmas when you can have Marco and Maggie.


Little Beach Street Bakery
Little Beach Street Bakery
by Jenny Colgan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A magical book, packed full of sadness and hope and reasons to live your dream, 29 Nov. 2015
I started to read the Little Beach Street Bakery and it instantly became apparent that there was a first book. I wanted desperately to read it first, for fear of missing out on anything really, and I am so glad that I did. The Little Beach Street Bakery allows you to fall in love over and over again and it is one of my favourites of 2015! Although not necessary, I would really recommend reading the books in order rather than delving straight into the most recent.

Jenny Colgan transports you instantly to every location of these books; the imagery is fantastic. I loved the very first puffin scene more than anything and they just get cuter and cuter.

I feel like I have lived a whole lifetime with Polly but it simply isn't enough. I miss her, I miss Neil, I miss Polbearne....Jenny, can we have a return visit anytime soon?

A magical book, packed full of sadness and hope and reasons to live your dream... These books would make lovely relaxing holiday reads!


Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery: W&H Readers Best Feel-Good Read
Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery: W&H Readers Best Feel-Good Read
by Jenny Colgan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A magical book, packed full of sadness and hope and reasons to live your dream, 29 Nov. 2015
I started to read the Little Beach Street Bakery and it instantly became apparent that there was a first book. I wanted desperately to read it first, for fear of missing out on anything really, and I am so glad that I did. The Little Beach Street Bakery allows you to fall in love over and over again and it is one of my favourites of 2015! Although not necessary, I would really recommend reading the books in order rather than delving straight into this one.

Jenny Colgan transports you instantly to every location of these books; the imagery is fantastic. And....there is more of Neil the Puffin!!!

I have to admit, I think I preferred Little Beach Street Bakery as it was so special. However, it was lovely to catch up with Polly and the others in the follow up. The trouble with reading one straight after the other is the second book does have quite a lot of 'repeats' as Jenny makes sure you haven't missed out on anything if you haven't read the first book or gives you a gentle reminder if its been a while since you read the first. I found this slowed the pace down slightly, detracting from the enjoyment to a degree as it interrupts you immersing yourself in the story.

Having read both Little Beach Street Bakery and Summer at the Little Beach Street Bakery, I feel like I have lived a whole lifetime with Polly but it simply isn't enough. I miss her, I miss Neil, I miss Polbearne.

A magical book, packed full of sadness and hope and reasons to live your dream... These books would make lovely relaxing holiday reads!


Letting You Go
Letting You Go
by Anouska Knight
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.42

5.0 out of 5 stars Emotional, 26 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Letting You Go (Paperback)
I absolutely adored this book. It reminded me somewhat of The Little Flower Shop by the Sea by Ali McNamara as both books have a young woman returning to a place from her past which not only is tinged by tragedy but has also haunted them ever since they left.

When Alex hears the news of her mother's ill health, she realises that she has no option but to face her past. Now, whilst Alex's past is not a walk in the park, there is a part of it which is absolutely dreamy...From the moment Finn stepped onto the page, I found myself with a massive grin on my face.

Yet, at the same time, this book is packed full of sadness. I loved the variety of characters which we met along the way (especially the little ones!) and it had me blubbing away like a baby on more than one occasion.

It rapidly became clear that the Foster family have bundles of secrets, straining to get out. Now, whilst they appear obvious to the reader (and so this is not the sort of book that will keep you totally in the dark until the very end) not everything might be as it first seems and even if it is, it is a fabulous journey to be taken on, even if you do end up where you assumed you would.

The epilogue was my absolute favourite epilogue ever; what an absolutely perfect ending to an absolutely fabulous book.


Little Girl Gone: The can't-put-it-down psychological thriller
Little Girl Gone: The can't-put-it-down psychological thriller
by Alexandra Burt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Did She Do It?, 26 Sept. 2015
Publishers are starting to bat around the comparisons to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train like there is no tomorrow, and it is a dangerous game to play. However, on this occasion, it works as this book is absolutely up there with the best.

I devoured Little Girl Gone as quickly as I could. I started to read it on my commute to work, and suddenly going to work became really inconvenient as I couldn't pick the book up again until I commuted home again!

Little Girl Gone is addictive from the very start and that addictiveness is maintained for the most part throughout, in a way that other books of this genre do not necessarily manage. For example, I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (which I loved and highly recommend) was gripping at the start but then lets the reader take a step back for some time before the first twist hits you in the face. However, Little Girl Gone never lets up on the grip that it has on you; I had absolutely no idea who I could trust or where this story was going to end up and must have changed my mind a hundred times as to what I thought was going to happen.

There was a part towards the middle of the book where the addictiveness loosened its grasp on me as frustration started to creep in. Frustration that I was so much further forward in the book but seemed to have made no progress whatsoever as to what happened on the night that Mia went missing. Just when you think you can't take the tension and suspense anymore, things start to unravel but are those things true or are they figments of Estelle's imagination?

Little Girl Gone reminded me in a way of The Spider in the Corner of the Room by Nikki Owen, as it left me without an inkling as to whether what I was hearing from Estelle was the scary truth or pure fiction.

An incredibly well written book from Alexandra Burt and a debut - how does she do it! The characters are perfect; a sleep-deprived mother left to cope by herself whilst a distant father tries to make enough money to keep the family afloat. The judgmental strangers around her as her newborn baby cries in a way that babies do; without reason and without any known cure. Is the mother as sane as any new mother can be or is she as crazy as everyone thinks?

You'll have to read the book to find out for yourself - #didshedoit?


I Let You Go
I Let You Go
by Clare Mackintosh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Grip Lit at its finest...., 2 Sept. 2015
This review is from: I Let You Go (Paperback)
I was expecting big things from I Let You Go and whilst Part 1 was interesting, it meandered along for me but then, boy does it start to deliver.

I cannot tell you what aspects the book covers as I don't want to risk giving anything away which might spoil the fabulous journey that Mackintosh takes you on. However, I will say that those areas that are covered are done so with exceptional style. There are aspects which are brutally told but they ring true as opposed to great big alarm bells ringing to tell you this is entirely made up fiction.

I recently read a book written by a criminal barrister and felt that was a highlight; someone who had written about what they know. The same can be said here as Mackintosh used to be a police officer and moved into CID herself. At the back of the book, there is a piece written about where the ingredients that created the cocktail, I Let You Go, were sourced from, which I really liked. There is only one point of the book, towards the very end, after everything comes to light, that I felt simply wasn't true to life and was there purely to allow there to be one last bit of drama. I can't say which bit as it will destroy the story for you. It didn't put me off, and certainly didn't take any enjoyment of the book away, but I do feel it was there more for gratification purposes more than anything else.

The thing I liked most about the first part of this book was the descriptions of Penfach and the beaches that begin to change Jenna's life. Oh, and perhaps Patrick the vet and Beau!

As Part 1 of the book draws to a close, the first twist hits you in the face. It's definitely a 'Gone Girl' style twist that will probably make you gasp. What follows is a gripping piece of fiction that will keep you guessing. I had all sorts of ridiculous theories flying around my head and I had to keep reminding myself to slow down and concentrate on the words on the page in front of me. My eyes couldn't devour the words quick enough and my brain tried desperately to process the information and deal with the constant shocks thrown at it. Ultimately, everything begins to make sense as all the pieces that had been drip fed to you throughout clamber together as though someone has held a magnet to the page.

The only thing I didn't really like was the epilogue. It kind of worked but didn't quite fit with the brilliance of the rest of the novel.

I have seen reviews complain that the only reason the twists and shocks are possible are because key information, known to the characters in advance (as opposed to something which just happens to them along the way), is held back from the reader and that the reader is therefore 'played'. I didn't feel that at all. Yes, it's true that the reader is not aware of certain information but that is what makes the book (surely?!). There are plenty of books around that work like this; threads run parallel to each other and it's not until they overlap that the reader can necessarily connect the two or more and put together the bigger picture. Without the 'withholding of information' there wouldn't be a book to speak of. And more to the point, the reader is fully aware that there is more to the story than meets the eye so I personally don't see the problem.

I Let You Go is compared to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train on the back cover and I can certainly see why. Fans of these two books would definitely enjoy this and for me it was certainly up there with the best. For me, more gripping than The Girl on the Train.

An absolutely outstanding debut novel. It's not often I struggle to move on and pick up another book to start but I Let You Go leaves me wondering what I could possibly read that could comes close to comparing.


The SW19 Club
The SW19 Club
by Nicola May
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Written from the heart..., 23 Aug. 2015
This review is from: The SW19 Club (Paperback)
I first discovered Nicola May back in the day when she was a self-published author. At the time, I commented that her writing was publishing house quality and that I was amazed she had not been picked up by one of the big publishers. Well, finally, someone has had some sense - well done to both Accent Press and Nicola!

The SW19 Club might look, from its cover, like a walk in the park but it really is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. It is packed full of heartbreak but is also an exceptionally uplifting read. Although the subject matter is heartbreaking, focusing on miscarriage and the struggles to have children, it certainly is not a dark book that will leave you wallowing in misery.

Whilst the prologue leads you into the powerful sadness of the book, it is short and then you instantly jump six months forward. The underlying theme remains and becomes slightly more prominent, in the guise of the SW19 Club later in the book, but Nicola May has a fabulous style of writing and there are plenty of characters and other parts to the story that ultimately makes it quite a light read; as Gracie battles with her reality, she also meets new friends and fancies along the way. I don't think I would mind being swept off my feet by a Hollywood filmstar ;)

The SW19 Club is clearly a book that is written from the heart. The short and punchy chapters will keep you turning the pages and I did not find it predictable at all and was left waiting until the final moments to discover who, if anyone, Gracie would choose for her future and when it comes, it is perfect and left me with tears streaming down my face.


The Little Flower Shop by the Sea
The Little Flower Shop by the Sea
Price: £2.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourites of the summer 2015!, 22 Aug. 2015
This is a book you should judge by its cover; the cover is utterly gorgeous and what follows is the most perfect holiday read for summer 2015. Cornwall is the place to be this year, whether that be for television programmes (dare I mention the Poldark word...), holiday destinations (people are flocking in the hope of seeing Poldark!) or book settings, and Ali McNamara is bang on trend as The Little Flower Shop by the Sea is set in a fictional harbour town in Cornwall, called St Felix.

It has been a while since I was really captivated by a book and felt not only that I didn't want to, but also that I couldn't, put it down. The Little Flower Shop by the Sea has that magical and magnetic draw to it - I really couldn't put it down! It made me smile, laugh and cry on more than one occasion.

There is a real array of wonderful, and not so wonderful, characters. My favourite has to be Miley; the descriptions and sentiments that come with Miley are wonderful - she is one special little lady. I found myself grinning at the page when she was around.

The ease with which I could picture every scene as though I was there is a credit to Ali McNamara's wonderful writing style. I feel like I have just returned from a holiday in a little harbour town in Cornwall, where I met the most wonderful people and saw the most wonderful things.

There is a magical element to the book, but it is carried out in the most perfect way. Every turn that Ali McNamara chooses to take her audience down is perfect and when you turn the last page, you will be left utterly satisfied. The only thing you will most definitely want is more and I feel there is definitely scope for Ali to come back and visit St Felix and Poppy in the future and I, for one, hope she does!

To a degree, this book reminded me of The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh which is also based on the Victorian meaning of flowers. I think there is something really special about books which cover this topic.

I haven't read an Ali McNamara book since Breakfast at Darcy's which I loved and her latest offering lived up to my expectations and then outshone them. The Little Flower Shop by the Sea is a lovely tale of sunshine, old and new friends, love, friendship, magical places and new beginnings.


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