How To Instant Pot [review]

https://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R3IPREMEOJ1MOY/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

Title: How To Instant Pot
Author: Daniel Shumski
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company

[Synopsis]

Legions of home cooks are falling in love with the Instant Pot multipurpose pressure cooker, which does the work of a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, sauté pan, steamer, and chafing dish all in one. This collection of 100 easy, creative, boundary-pushing recipes makes ultimate use of this amazing and increasingly popular contraption. The only Instant Pot cookbook organized by function, with detailed instructions for mastering each, How to Instant Pot features dishes from satisfying breakfasts through tempting desserts, plus skill-building recipes that offer simple methods for basic dishes (Chicken Soup 3 Ways, No-Stir Polenta 3 Ways, Sweet Yogurt 3 Ways) and surprising hacks that make this already remarkable gadget even more indispensable. Hard-boil an egg in 5 minutes? Yup. Bake a potato in half the time? You bet. Quick pickle some veggies? Why not. Want to know how to Instant Pot? This book is all you need.

[My Review]

How To Instant Pot is such a great resource for anyone who has one of these magical devices – whether you’re completely new to them (and how I wish I had this book when I first got mine, many months ago) or have had yours for a while but would like some inspiration, or tips and tricks!

After a general overview/ introduction the book is then split up into sections relating to different functions of the Instant Pot; each section has some general operating instructions and tips, and then a load of great recipes to try out. There’s a section for pressure cooking – which is what I mainly use mine for, and what I bought the Instant Pot for, so that’s come in very handy – as well as a slow cooker section which is also great, plus other sections such as the rice maker, yoghurt maker, etc.

What I really love about this book is that, on the whole, the recipes aren’t horrendously complicated but they are different and inspiring. You won’t get the same selection of tired old recipes that I see in every other Instant Pot ‘recipe book’; there are exciting new combinations and tips for things to make which you might not have thought could be done with this apparatus. I don’t think I’d personally bother with the yoghurt reicipes or the different rice recipes, but the other sections have some really interesting ideas.

I liked that there were pictures included but, as always, wished that there was an image for each recipe.  Still, this has reignited my love for the Instant Pot and encouraged me to try new recipes. Really impressed – if you only buy one Instant Pot recipe book, buy this one!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Workman Publishing Company for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

How To Instant Pot is out on 31 October.

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Goodreads Monday [Left To Chance]

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To take part, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners, and add your own links!

Today I’ve picked Left To Chance, a novel I’m hoping to be approved for on Netgalley (fingers crossed!) because it sounds really good! Otherwise I’ll likely buy this at some point anyway…

Watch this space!

Title: Left To Chance
Author: Amy Sue Nathan
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publish date: 21 November 2017

Left To Chance - Amy Sue Nathan

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[Synopsis]

No one knows why Teddi Lerner left her hometown, but everyone knows why she’s back.

Twelve-year-old Shayna— talented, persistent, and adorable—persuaded “Aunt Tee” to return to Chance, Ohio, to photograph her father’s wedding. Even though it’s been six years since Shay’s mother, Celia, died, Teddi can hardly bear the thought of her best friend’s husband marrying someone else. But Teddi’s bond with Shay is stronger than the hurt.

Teddi knows it’s time to face the consequences of her hasty retreat from family, friends, and, her old flame, but when she looks through her viewfinder, nothing in her small town looks the same. That’s when she truly sees the hurt she’s caused and—maybe—how to fix it.

After the man she once loved accuses Teddi of forgetting Celia, Teddi finally admits why she ran away, and the guilt she’s carried with her. As Teddi relinquishes the distance that kept her safe, she’ll discover surprising truths about the people she left behind, and herself. And she’ll finally see what she overlooked all along.

Have you heard anything about this book, or have you got it on your TBR list? 

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My Top Picks for the rest of 2017 [top 10]

Here’s what I’m most looking forward to reading before Christmas and the New Year rolls around… it may seem ages away but it’s really not! There are loads of titles on my TBR list and plenty of others I don’t own/ have for review but which I’d like to, so to keep things (sort of) succinct, I’m sticking to those I own for now, and have picked my top 10 (in no particular order)…


31450644Shattered – Allison Brennan 

[Synopsis]

Over a span of twenty years, four boys have been kidnapped from their bedrooms, suffocated, and buried nearby in a shallow grave. Serial killer or coincidence?

That’s the question investigative reporter Maxine Revere sets out to answer when an old friend begs her to help exonerate his wife, who has been charged with their son’s recent murder. But Max can do little to help because the police and D.A. won’t talk to her—they think they have the right woman. Instead, Max turns her attention to three similar cold cases. If she can solve them, she might be able to help her friend.

Justin Stanton was killed twenty years ago, and his father wants closure—so he is willing to help Max with her investigation on one condition: that she work with his former sister-in-law— Justin’s aunt, FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid. Trouble is, Max works alone, and she’s livid that her only access to the case files, lead detective and witnesses depends on her partnering with a federal agent on vacation. She wants the career-making story almost as much as the truth—but if she gets this wrong, she could lose everything.

Haunted by Justin’s death for years, Lucy yearns to give her family—and herself—the closure they need. More important, she wants to catch a killer. Lucy finds Max’s theory on all three cases compelling—with Max’s research added to Lucy’s training and experience, Lucy believes they can find the killer so justice can finally be served. But the very private Lucy doesn’t trust the reporter any more than Max trusts her.

Max and Lucy must find a way to work together to untangle lies, misinformation, and evidence to develop a profile of the killer. But the biggest question is: why were these boys targeted? As they team up to find out what really happened the night Justin was killed, they make a shocking discovery: Justin’s killer is still out there … stalking another victim … and they already may be too late.

Don't Wake Up

Don’t Wake Up – Liz Lawler

[Synopsis]

Alex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table.
The man who stands over her isn’t a doctor.
The offer he makes her is utterly unspeakable.
But when Alex re-awakens, she’s unharmed – and no one believes her horrifying story. Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, she begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind.
And then she meets the next victim.
So compulsive you can’t stop reading.
So chilling you won’t stop talking about it.
A pitch-black and devastatingly original psychological thriller.

The Spark Girl - Fiona FordThe Spark Girl – Fiona Ford

[Synopsis]

Spring 1940. Kitty Williams has suffered more than her fair share of tragedy but rather than wallowing, she’s more determined than ever to do her part in the battle against Hitler. Stepping up her own war effort, Kitty leaves her home town of Coventry and joins the Auxiliary Territorial Service (Women’s Army – ATS) where she finds new friends in Di, Peggy and Mary but also new obstacles to overcome in both her professional and personal lives.

Can You Keep A SecretCan You Keep A Secret? – Karen Perry

[Synopsis]

It’s been twenty years since Lindsey has seen her best friend Rachel

Twenty years since she has set foot in Thornbury Hall – the now crumbling home of the Bagenal family – where they spent so much time as teenagers. Since Patrick Bagenal’s 18th birthday party, the night everything changed . . . for good.

It’s time for a reunion.

Patrick has decided on one last hurrah before closing the doors of his family home for good. All of the old crowd, back together for a weekend.

For the secrets to come out

It’s not long before secrets begin to float to the surface. Everything that Lindsey shared with her best friend at sixteen . . . and everything that she didn’t . . .

Some secrets should never be told.

They need to be taken to the grave.

While others require revenge at any cost.

Before This Is OverBefore This Is Over – Amanda Hickie

[Synopsis]

How far will a mother go to save her children? A twisting, edge-of-your seat drama that you’ll never forget.

BEFORE THIS IS OVER by Amanda Hickie is a powerful, thought-provoking drama that looks at one family in the heart of a devastated community and compels us to ask: how far would I go to save my children? ‘Shatteringly suspenseful…it’s impossible not to be super-glued to the page’ Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of PICTURES OF YOU

A normal family. A quiet, leafy street. A terrifying epidemic.

It’s been coming for a while: a lethal illness. With sons of five and fourteen to look out for, Hannah has been stockpiling supplies, despite everyone telling her that it’s unnecessary.

Then it arrives.

At first there are a few unconfirmed cases. Then a death. Now the whole city is quarantined. But Hannah’s family is not yet safe behind their locked front door…

Basics soon become luxuries, and neighbours become hazards. There are power cuts, food shortages and an ever-growing sense of claustrophobia. How will the family cope?

How would you cope?

How far would you go to protect your children? 

Shadow Man - Margaret KirkShadow Man – Margaret Kirk

[Synopsis]

Two brutal killings rock Inverness, and bring ex-Met Detective Inspector Lukas Mahler the biggest challenge of his career…

The body of the queen of daytime TV, Morven Murray is discovered by her sister, Anna, on the morning of her wedding day. But does Anna know more about the murder than she’s letting on?

Police informant Kevin Ramsay’s murder looks like a gangland-style execution. But what could he have stumbled into that was dangerous enough to get him violently killed?

Mahler has only a couple of weeks to solve both cases while dealing with his mother’s fragile mental health. But caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse, is ex-Met DI Lukas Mahler hunting one killer, or two?

The Frozen Woman - Jon MitcheletThe Frozen Woman –  Jon Michelet

[Synopsis]

A frozen body, a murdered biker, and a lawyer with nothing left to lose. In the depths of the Norwegian winter, a woman’s frozen corpse is discovered in the garden of a notorious ex-lawyer, Vilhelm Thygesen. She has been stabbed to death. A young biker, a member of a gang once represented by the lawyer, is found dead in suspicious circumstances. Thygesen starts receiving anonymous threats, and becomes ensnared in a web of violence, crime and blackmail that spreads across Northern Europe. Does the frozen woman hold the key?

Chase the RainbowChase the Rainbow – Poorna Bell

[Synopsis]

An honest yet uplifting account of a woman’s life affected (but not defined) by the suicide of her husband and the deadly paradox of modern-day masculinity.

Punk rocker, bird nerd and book lover Rob Bell had a full, happy life. He had a loving wife, a big-bottomed dog named Daisy and a career as a respected science journalist. But beneath the carefully cultivated air of machoism and the need to help other people, he struggled with mental health and a drug addiction that began as a means to self-medicate his illness. In 2015, he ended his life in New Zealand on a winter’s night.

But what happened? How did a middle-class Catholic boy from the suburbs, who had an ocean of people who loved him, and a brain the size of a planet, end up dying alone by his own hand? How did it get to this point?

In the search to find out about the man she loved, and how he arrived at that desperate, dark moment, Poorna Bell, Executive Editor of The Huffington Post UK, went on a journey spanning New Zealand, India and England to discover more about him.

A month after his death, she shared her personal tragedy in an open letter to Rob on the site, which went on to be read by hundreds of thousands of people across the world. This is Poorna’s story, not only of how she met the man of her dreams and fell in love, but also Rob’s story and how he suffered with depression since childhood and had secretly been battling addiction as a means to cope with the illness.
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 and a staggering 1 in 4 of us will experience mental illness disease at some point in our lives, but the stigma surrounding mental health means that millions still suffer in silence.

Chase the Rainbow is an affecting, poetic, and deeply personal journey which teaches to seek hope and happiness, even in the most tragic of circumstances. Shattering the stigma surrounding depression and suicide, Poorna Bell challenges us talk about what we most fear, and to better understand the personal struggles of those closest to us.

First Comes Love - Emily GiffinFirst Comes Love – Emily Giffin

[Synopsis]

What happens when love, marriage and children don’t come in the expected order?

Fifteen years after the tragic death of their older brother splintered Josie and Meredith’s already fragile relationship, the two sisters are following very different paths.

Hardworking, reserved Meredith thought she’d done it all the right way round – married the perfect man, had the perfect daughter – but now she’s wondering if she got the love part wrong.

Impulsive and spirited Josie has been single for years. She wants a child so much that she’s preparing to head straight for the baby carriage all on her own.

As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and secrets from the past surface, Josie and Meredith must come to terms with their own choices. Perhaps they’ll find that they need each other more than they know…

Gifts For Our TimeGifts for our Time – Anna Jacobs

[Synopsis]

Germany 1939, and Christa Sommer boards the Kindertransport, unsure that she’ll ever see her beloved mother and father again.

Once in England she is taken in by elderly Mrs Pelling, who grows to love Christa as the daughter she never had.

But in 1945 Mrs Pelling dies. While her will cannot be found, her money-grabbing niece appears out of the blue to claim her inheritance and turfs Christa out, with only a suitcase to her name. The prejudice against Germans still runs high in England, and Christa is unable to secure a job or a place to stay…

Luck comes her way when a lady she saves from being mugged turns out to be Mayne Esher’s friend Daniel’s mother. Taking pity on Christa, they take her to Rivenshaw where they plan to start a new life as part of the Esher building firm.

There Christa is welcomed with open arms and she soon develops a love for the place, the people and, Daniel…

But Esherwood is not the trouble-free sanctuary she first thinks.

Determined to do their bit for soldiers returning from the war they have agreed to allow the council to build prefabs on some of Esherwood’s garden. But an empire-building town planner seems set on taking all of Mayne’s land for the war effort…

Mayne has also discovered a secret door at the back of the old Nissen hut, with a complicated locking mechanism that has local locksmiths dumbfounded.

Just what is hidden behind the door to warrant such high security?

Lots to look forward to reading!

Have you read any of these? If so what did you think?

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Friday Finds

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your ‘To Be Read’ (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

It is hosted by Miz B over at A Daily Rhythm.

As it’s my first, this post will be covering the last few weeks – but my track record with these kind of posts is that I forget to do them for a while!

I’ve included dates they were/ will be released, as some are already published and some are upcoming, and the format too.

My finds:

Death’s Privilege – Daryl Donaghue [6 Jan 2016] – ebook

[Synopsis]

Two suicides. One deadly connection.
New police procedural from former British Detective Darryl Donaghue.
Following disciplinary action, PC Sarah Gladstone, a happily married mother of two, is reluctantly enrolled onto Mavenwood’s fast-track Detective training programme.

As she begins her investigative training, her tutor, DS Dales, a long-serving British detective with the emotional scars to prove it, warns her about the insidious nature of detective work. He’s concerned that Sarah’s career will leave her as it’s left him—bitter and with a string of broken marriages.

When a woman is found dead in a luxurious hotel room, Sarah attends what at first appears to be a routine suicide. As the case turns into a murder investigation, she begins to uncover a disturbing pattern of sinister connections and unlikely suspects that leads her a little too close to home…

Like police procedural series? Like strong female detective novels? Get this crime fiction new release today.

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Need To Know – Karen Cleveland [25 Jan 2018] paperback

[Synopsis]

In pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, a CIA analyst uncovers a dangerous secret that will test her loyalty to the agency—and to her family.

What do you do when everything you trust might be a lie?

Vivian Miller is a dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst assigned to uncover the leaders of Russian sleeper cells in the United States. On track for a much-needed promotion, she’s developed a system for identifying Russian agents, seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her—her job, her husband, even her four children—are threatened.

Vivian has vowed to defend her country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But now she’s facing impossible choices. Torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion, who can she trust?

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Crooked Man – Tony Dunbar [7 May 2012] ebook

[Synopsis]

A simple man with a refined palate, maverick New Orleans lawyer Tubby Dubonnet has a penchant for fishing, Old Fashioneds, off-track betting, and fighting evil while passing a good time.

His clients are all renegades from the asylum, including a transvestite entertainer with curious medical issues, a buxom deadbeat blonde, a doctor who refers his own patients to a malpractice lawyer, and the driver of a Mardi Gras float shaped like a giant crawfish pot. He also has his hands full with an ex-wife and three teenage daughters, who are experts in the art of wrapping Tubby around their little fingers. And somehow, between work and family, Tubby finds time to sample the highs and lows of idiosyncratic Crescent City cuisine, from trout meuniere amandine and French roast coffee with chicory to shrimp po-boys and homemade pecan pralines.

Tubby is asked to take on a new client: Darryl Alvarez, the manager of a local nightclub, who has been caught unloading fifteen bales of marijuana from a shrimp boat. At their first meeting, Darryl entrusts Tubby with an ordinary-looking blue gym bag. But when Darryl is later found shot at the nightclub, Tubby realizes he must tighten his grasp on the gym bag – and its million-dollar contents.

Tubby can’t just give up the cash. But if he gets caught, he’ll be in jail. And if the wrong people catch him, he’ll wish he was.

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Red Sister – Mark Lawrence [4 April 2017] ebook

[Synopsis]

I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

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Jenny Sparrow Knows the Future – Melissa Pimentel [27 July 2017] ebook

[Synopsis]

Everything is going to plan – until she marries the wrong man . . .

‘Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella . . . the feel-good book of the summer’ Cathy Kelly, Number One bestselling author

Jenny Sparrow can tell you her future:

1. Meet soulmate at 25
2. Move in with him
3. Marry him this year . . .

According to the plan Jenny made at thirteen, it’s time for her to get married. But when her boyfriend proposes a break instead of a wedding, a girls’ weekend in Vegas is the only solution . . . until she wakes up in a stranger’s bed, and discovers that this is the year she gets married – to the wrong man.

Jenny wants a quick divorce and her old boyfriend back.

But what if her accidental husband has other ideas?

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What books have you recently added to your Goodreads list, or bought/ been given? 

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The Angel [blog tour]

The Angel - Katerina Diamond

Today I’m excited to be part of the blog tour for The Angel by Katerina Diamond! It looks like a fantastic read so enjoy the following extract and make sure to add it to your Goodreads ‘TBR list’ – I know I have!

Title: The Angel
Author: Katerina Diamond
Publisher: Avon Books

[Synopsis]

THE TRUTH WON’T STAY LOCKED UP FOREVER.

When a burned body is found in a disused signal box, suspicion falls on lonely teenager Gabriel Webb. There’s no doubt he was at the scene of the crime, but does he really deserve what awaits him in prison?

DS Imogen Grey is certain there’s more to the case than meets the eye. But while she struggles to convince those around her of the truth, her partner DS Adrian Miles is distracted by his own demons.

When a brutal double murder is reported, their investigation is stopped in its tracks. Is the body in the box even who they thought it was? The duo realise Gabriel might have been locked up for a crime he didn’t commit. But with enemies watching Gabriel’s every move, they may be too late.

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Extract Ten from Chapter Three, pp 33-34

‘Why did you start the fire?’ Imogen asked.

‘It was cold. The rain was pelting down; I didn’t know it was going to rain so I wasn’t wearing a coat.’ He paused, obviously trying to think of how to word his answers. ‘One of the girls was cold. It was a metal bin and the fire didn’t even last very long.’

‘Go on.’

‘That was it. We left and went to the club to see the band.’

Adrian looked briefly at Imogen, who looked every bit as sombre as he felt.

‘Unfortunately, arson is a pretty big deal, Gabriel,’ Adrian said.

‘Arson? No, it wasn’t that. I wouldn’t do that.’

‘That’s for the judge to decide.’

‘Judge? What do you mean? Are you charging me with arson? It was an accident.’

Imogen sighed audibly, exhaling and then holding her breath again.

‘There’s something else, I’m afraid,’ she said.

‘If you call my parents they can pay for the damage.’

‘I’m afraid it’s more complicated than that.’ Adrian paused and looked at Imogen. ‘There was a body found in the signal box,’ he said.

The force of Adrian’s words knocked the colour out of Gabriel’s face. ‘What?’

‘There was someone in the room below when the building caught fire. There’s every likelihood it was a homeless man, but we don’t know for sure at this point until there’s been a thorough examination of both the site and the body.’

‘No . . . it was just us,’ he said faintly, his chest heaving.

‘Are you all right?’ Imogen asked. Gabriel was shaking; he looked as though he was going to throw up.

The Angel is out now in paperback, EBook and audio formats – buy on Amazon here


Katerina Diamond

About the Author

Katerina Diamond lives on the east Kent Coast with her son and daughter.

Born in Weston-super-Mare, she has lived in various places since including Greece, Cyprus, Derby, East London and Exeter.

Her first novel reached number six in the Sunday Times Bestseller chart.


Check out the other stops on the blog tour below:

Angel Blog tour

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

WWW Wednesday [4 October 2017]

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words.

Visit her blog to take a look, and get involved too if you can, even if you don’t have a blog yourself – as she says, you can leave your answers in the post comments. I’d love to see your answers too!

As usual, I realised last time’s post had the incorrect date on so I’ve made extra sure that this DOES say 4 October… but the URL is wrong…. Sorry…!

The three W’s are:

    1. What have you finished reading?
    2. What are you currently reading?
    3. What will you read next?

What have you finished reading? 

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz [review to follow]
Yellow Room by Shelan Rodger [part of the blog tour, my review coming on the 18th October!]

 

What are you currently reading? 

Penhaligon’s Attic by Terri Nixon
I’m also listening to the audiobook of The A-Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson.

What will you read next?

Pretty sure I said very similar – if not the same – titles as this on my last WWW post, but I think I got a bit distracted and read some books out of publication order…

As I’m trying to get through some of my paperbacks (trying to make room on my overflowing bookshelf!) I think I’ll read The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan next (been looking forward to reading this for a while now!) or I might go for one of my many Netgalley arcs – perhaps The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase or Yesterday  by Felicia Yap (yep, definitely said THESE EXACT THREE in my last WWW post!)

 

What have you been reading recently? Any exciting books you’re looking forward to reading next?

If you do your own version of this tag please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to read your answers too!


DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

Did You See Melody? [review]

Did You See Melody.JPG

Title: Did You See Melody?
Author: Sophie Hannah
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

[Synopsis]

Pushed to the breaking point, Cara Burrows abandons her home and family and escapes to a five-star spa resort she can’t afford. Late at night, exhausted and desperate, she lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied – by a man and a teenage girl.

A simple mistake on the part of the hotel receptionist – but Cara’s fear intensifies when she works out that the girl she saw alive and well in the hotel room is someone she can’t possibly have seen: the most famous murder victim in the country, Melody Chapa, whose parents are serving life sentences for her murder.

Cara doesn’t know what to trust: everything she’s read and heard about the case, or the evidence of her own eyes. Did she really see Melody? And is she prepared to ask herself that question and answer it honestly if it means risking her own life?

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[My Review]

Ahh, another release from one of my favourite authors – Sophie Hannah! I kept this until I knew I had some time to really get into it, and I wasn’t disappointed…

This is definitely an odd book in some ways. It starts out as something that seems very different – I felt almost as if I were reading a book you’d class as (and sorry for the annoying classification here) ‘chick-lit’, but then it suddenly becomes more of a mystery/ thriller.

Now, the main character Cara… I had mixed feelings about her. At first, I felt that she was just a bit of a demanding, selfish mother who’d ran off for a holiday away from her kids and husband (a holiday which, incidentally, cost a third of their life savings), and I can’t say I warmed to her, but as you learn more about the events that led her to run off to America to this five-star resort, you’re bound to feel more sympathy and understanding. She’s determined, inquisitive and, at times, quite amusing in her observations of other people around the resort. I enjoyed reading about her, and she lived up to the convincing, interesting characters which Sophie Hannah is so great at creating, as did Bonnie Juno – definitely a hard character to like, but an interesting one nevertheless!

The mystery around missing girl, Melody Chapa, is also rather strange and mysterious. I enjoyed the newspaper clippings and interviews which are interspersed with the plot, and ‘missing person’ cases always intrigue me. The plot didn’t feel too dark or gritty like some of her other novels (particularly the Simon Serrailer series which I love but which is definitely far more police procedural-based); instead it felt like a bit of a roller-coaster of adventure featuring an entertaining main character (Cara) as she tries to find out who she glimpsed that very first night, with the help of some entertaining ‘friends’ (I loved brash American Tarin and her daughter – they are so much fun, if a little off the wall!).

Did You See Melody is a fun, slightly wacky read which is very entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it, from first page to last (great ending, too!).

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Goodreads Monday [The Tea Rose]

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To take part, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners, and add your own links!

Today I’ve picked The Tea Rose, the first in The Tea Rose series by Jennifer Donnelly. It focuses on East London in the late 19th century. I added it to my Goodreads list ages ago but haven’t quite got around to it – however it sounds a great read!

the-tea-rose

Title: The Tea Rose
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Series: The Tea Rose series
Publisher: Orenda Books

Publish date: 2 May 2006

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[Synopsis]

Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match, and she loves his son like he is her own. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. Desperate for that happy-ever-after, he ignores it—a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything.

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Another Woman’s Husband [review]

Another Woman's Husband - Gill Paul

Title: Another Woman’s Husband
Author: Gill Paul
Publisher: Headline Review

[Synopsis]

Two women who challenged the Crown. Divided by time. Bound by a secret…

1911

At the age of fifteen, carefree Mary Kirk and indomitable Wallis Warfield meet at summer camp. Their friendship will survive heartbreaks, separation and the demands of the British Crown until it is shattered by one unforgivable betrayal.

1997

Rachel’s romantic break in Paris with her fiance ends in tragedy when the car ahead crashes. Inside was Princess Diana. Back in Brighton, Rachel is haunted by the accident, and intrigued to learn the princess had visited the last home of Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, only hours before the crash. Soon, the discovery of a long-forgotten link to Wallis Simpson leads Rachel to the truth behind a scandal that shook the world…

Richly imagined and beautifully written, Another Woman’s Husband is a gripping, moving novel about two women thrust into the spotlight, followed by scandal, touched by loss.

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[My Review]

I didn’t read up much about this novel before I started it, and I’m so glad I didn’t. It really surprised me – both in the plot (I’d forgotten that one of the narratives is set just after Diana’s death in 1997, but find the entire subject so interesting) and the way certain parts seemed unconnected but then came together in unexpected ways.

I loved reading both timeframes; the 1997 narrative is something I can very vaguely remember happening – I was only 7 at the time, but remember where I was at the time as I remember my grandparents and parents being so shocked. It was so interesting to read about – both the parts that were fact, and those that the author fabricated to great effect (And still, despite some exaggeration in some aspects – which the author explains at the end – it’s still completely believable!). I also really enjoyed reading the 1911 timeframe, as that’s a fascinating era to me and always so shocking as it reinforces how different life was back then, especially for women.

The main female characters in Another Woman’s Husband are interesting and likeable, though some of the people around them are definitely not nice people! I felt that Gill Paul did a great job of evoking a real sense of time and place in both storylines. Although it’s not a jam-packed, action-adventure storyline, I still found it gripping; it’s a very well-written, intriguing novel which I’d definitely recommend!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Headline Review and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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The House of Secrets [review]

The House of Secrets - Sarra Manning

Title: The House of Secrets
Author: Sarra Manning
Publisher:  Sphere

[Synopsis]

An ordinary house on an ordinary street, built in 1936 and never lived in. Its rooms might be empty, but this house is full of secrets.

When Zoe and Win, raw and reeling from a recent tragedy, move into their new home it’s meant to be a fresh start and a way to mend the holes in their relationship.

But pushed to the back of a cupboard is a suitcase that’s been gathering dust for eighty years. Inside is a wedding dress, letters and a diary all belonging to a woman called Libby. And there’s something else in the suitcase, something that echoes Zoe’s own pain.

Zoe follows Libby’s trail from Paris to Spain on the brink of Civil War to secret trysts in London, and as Libby finds the courage to live and love again, Zoe begins to let go of her own grief.

But when Libby’s story takes a darker turn, Zoe becomes increasingly obsessed with discovering what really happened all those years ago. Because if Libby managed to get her happy ever after then maybe Zoe and Win can too…

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[My Review]

I loved this novel! It had everything I wanted in it – great characters, a plot featuring dual narratives, and a sense of mystery in working out how certain characters may or may not be connected…

I don’t read that much historical romance but I would definitely read more if they were all as engaging as this! I felt that Sarra Manning is particularly great at creating a real sense of atmosphere around the times the two main characters – Zoe and Libby – are living in. I loved the present day narrative which felt refreshing familiar every time I came back from the narrative set in the 1930’s. It’s amazing how different their lives are, but in many ways are very similar, and that’s partly what this novel seems to focus on.

There were times I really disliked the male ‘love interests’ but on the whole I really warmed to both Zoe and Libby, increasingly liking them as I read more about them. Sarra Manning has effectively created a a real sense of atmosphere but including hidden or less obvious objects and elements in and around the ‘house of secrets’. I personally really enjoyed the switch between eras too, though I know some people don’t get along with this type of narrative structure.

I also liked that the plot surprised me at various points; sometimes I thought I knew exactly what would happen, but often it wasn’t as black and white as that. I feel that this reflects real life more, and I really preferred that not everything was tied up with a nice bow…

I’d highly recommend The House of Secrets  for anyone looking to read a well structured and beautifully written historical novel, and I will certainly be reading more by this author in the future.

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Sphere and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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