Book review: Who’s That Girl by Mhairi McFarlane

Who’s That Girl?Who’s That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Edie has been in love with Jack for a long time. When things go wrong on Jack’s wedding night, Edie ends up being persona non grata at her office and her only choice is to move back in with her dad and sister and to take an assignment writing the official biography of spoilt celebrity Elliot Owen.

I liked the fact that Elliot and Edie are both back at home, ironing out the tangles in their lives. All the characters are well rounded (I wouldn’t expect anything less – I’ve been a fan of Mhairi McFarlane for a while now), even Edie’s grumpy sister and somewhat crazy neighbour.

There’s a cyber bullying sub plot, which was really interesting too. When Edie sorted that one out at the end, I nearly cheered out loud.

This is a good fun read. Elliot really is a sweetie.

(….and now I have the song ‘Who’s That Girl’ stuck in my head!)

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Book Review: The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

The HoneymoonThe Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jemma has always dreamed of the perfect honeymoon with her husband, but things don’t go according to plan… and then one day he disappears. There’s nowhere to hide on the island (well, there must be, but let’s go with it) and no one knows what happened to him. Theories abound and everyone on the island is a suspect. The most likely suspect appears to be Jemma herself.

Part of the story is written in the present tense and Jemma realises her husband is missing and the search for him progresses. The other part is a series of flashbacks which tell us how she met her husband and how they ended up being on honeymoon on this most luxurious of islands.

Jemma is almost an unreliable narrator (almost, in that she’d got a bit high and forgotten what happened on the night of her husband’s disappearance). There are so many clues and red herrings that my theories as to what happened changed from chapter to chapter. There are a couple of twists on the way, but the final twist is pretty spectacular.

The writing is tight and feeling on claustrophobia that pervades the island is palpable. Jemma is an intriguing character. Jamie, Dan and their relationship is puzzling (partly because we mainly see them through Jemma’s eyes and everything is coloured by her opinions of them). We do eventually get a view into their thoughts and mostly, it was a surprise to see what they thought.

The story was so gripping that I was trying to work out the puzzle in between reading sessions (real life is so annoying when it’s getting in the way of a good book!). If you like tense psychological thrillers, you’ll love this book. I did.

I received a free copy via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

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Book review: A Cornish Affair by Liz Fenwick

A Cornish AffairA Cornish Affair by Liz Fenwick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Jude leaves her best friend John stranded at the altar on her wedding day, she is not popular at home. She runs away to England and ends up taking a job sorting out a lifetime’s worth of paperwork for elderly academic Petroc Trevellion. While she’s there, she falls in love with the estate of Pengarrock… and meets Petroc’s son Tristan. As Jude discovers more about Pengarrock and its history, Jude also discovers more about herself.

There’s a mystery involving hidden treasure, a lovely romance and incredibly evocative descriptions of Cornwall. A lovely way to visit Cornwall with minimal risk of bad weather.

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The Improbability of Love by Hannah Mary Rothschild

The Improbability of LoveThe Improbability of Love by Hannah Mary Rothschild

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know how to describe this book. It’s the story of a single painting ‘The Improbability of Love’ which is a lost masterpiece. The story of the painting touches many characters and their stories weave through each other’s. There’s head hopping (nicely done, and probably called moving psychic distance, but it still bothers me) reams of information in chunks and various digressions, but it’s so beautifully done and the characters are so compelling that it doesn’t matter.

Annie is a wannabe chef who buys a picture from a junk shop on a whim. Jesse is a museum guide and artist who falls in love with Annie. Rebecca is the second in command at one of the biggest art dealers in the country. There are are scores of characters and I felt for every one of them. Every time we moved from one character to the other, I missed the character I’d just left… until I got sucked back into the life of the character I was reading about now. They’re not all nice people, but they are, all of them, interesting and compelling.

The story itself is a mystery, with commentary on the world of art and the worlds of the super rich. I must admit, it’s not a world I know anything about, so it was fun to read about it. If you know about art, there are probably extra layers of interest in this book.

It’s the sort of book that I read and wish I could write like that.

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Book Review: Girl In Red Velvet by Margaret James

Girl in Red VelvetGirl in Red Velvet by Margaret James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lily goes to Oxford and meets two boys – Max and Harry. She ends up falling in love with them both. She slightly prefers Max, but Harry is the sensible choice. So she ends up married to Harry while Max travels around the world trying to get into as many dangerous situations as he can.

I had trouble warming to Lily. Max and Harry were both likeable and, when things go horribly wrong towards, they act in ways that are entirely understandable given the circumstances. This is an epic story that spans several decades. It’s about love and trust and forgiveness. The ending is beautiful.

Oxford plays a large part in the book, which made me all nostalgic for Norham Gardens.

The usual disclaimer – the author and I know each other (we write for the same publisher). I enjoy reading her books, which is why I request ARCs of her books from Netgalley. Which is just a longwinded way of saying ‘thank you to Netgalley for a free book in exchange for a review’.

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Goodreads Book Review: Discord by Katy Haye

Discord (Echoes of Earth, #1)Discord by Katy Haye
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this book because I’ve read Katy Haye’s other books and enjoyed them.

Beth is in a hospital that helps kids with brain damage recover from their trauma, with a particular emphasis on using music therapy. Right from the off, you realise that there’s something not quite right. The feeling of something being wrong grows through the book. Eventually, Beth and her boyfriend Toby find out what’s going on. I can’t tell you any more without giving it all away, sorry!

This is a very imaginative book, slightly creepy and quite dark in places. I enjoyed it.
So much so that I finished it and went straight on to read Dissent – the next book in the series.

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Inheritance Books: Kate Hewitt

Today’s Inheritance Books are from Kate Hewitt. I’ll go get the biscuits. While you’re waiting Kate, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?

bio_pic3I am an American ex-pat living in Wales, with my husband, five children, Golden Retriever, and two newly acquired rabbits.

Which book have you inherited from the generation above? Why is it special?

IMG_6246My mother gave me the book A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett when I was about eight years old and bored one summer day. I was enthralled, and it set me on a lifetime of reading. I’m so grateful to her for instilling that gift in me.

I love The Little Princess too. The bit when she comes to her room and finds a new things in it always makes me smile.

Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?

There are so many great books, and I try to instil a IMG_6247similar love of reading in my children, no matter what the book. But I have a particular soft spot for the fictional diary Stepping Heavenward by the hymn writer Elizabeth Prentiss, because that book has inspired me so much.

Thank you for sharing you Inheritance Books with us Kate. I love the covers of your Willoughby Close series. All the best with the latest instalment.

FineMeAtWilloughbyCloseKate’s entire Willoughby Close series, including Find Me At Willoughby Close is available to buy now. You can find out more about Kate herself on her website or get in touch via Twitter (@katehewitt1) or Facebook.

Dear Microsoft: absolutely not.

As those of you who’ve read Doctor January will know, I agree with most of this. Science is often a confrontational sexist place.
I now work in academic support, which gives me the double whammy of being female and not being an academic. I once had a physicist try to mansplain genetics to me. I had to correct his knowledge at one point. Bless (rolls eyes).

monica byrne

And it has nothing to do with your software. It has to do with your new ad campaign, which I happened to see while I was at the gym last week. Here’s the gist: brilliant young girls express their ambitions to cure cancer and explore outer space and play with the latest in virtual reality tech. Then—gotcha!—they’re shown a statistic that only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees. They look crushed. The tagline? “Change the world. Stay in STEM.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

Microsoft, where’s your ad campaign telling adult male scientists not to rape their colleagues in the field? Where’s the campaign telling them not to steal or take credit for women’s work? Or not to seriallysexuallyharasstheirstudents? Not to discriminate against them? Not to ignoredismiss, or fail to promote them at the same rate as men? Not to publish their work at a statistically…

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In conversation with Rhoda Baxter, romantic comedy writer

Today I’ve visiting Annmarie McQueen’s blog. Pop over and read the interview.

Annmarie McQueen

Today I’ll be shining the author spotlight on romantic comedy writer, Rhoda Baxter! 

Hi, please can you give a brief introduction of yourself?
Hi. I’m Rhoda. I write romantic comedies which are published by Choc Lit Publishing. I also write short fiction. In real life, I trained as a microbiologist but now work in university technology transfer (which is the most fun way to keep in touch with the science without having to do lab work). I drink far too much tea and am partial to a bit of cake.

When did you first start writing?
I’m not sure. Apparently I wrote a story about parrot when I was about seven. When I was in my early teens, the Sweet Dreams romance novels were incredibly popular. I wasn’t allowed to read them, in case they gave me ‘ideas’ and distracted me from my studies. So I started to write my…

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