Book Review: BLOQ by Alan Jones

Available on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
Title - BLOQ
Author - Alan Jones
Publication Date - April 1st 2016
Publisher - Alisa Publishing
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided via author)
Pages - 300

Blurb
Glasgow man Bill Ingram waits in the city's Central Station to meet his daughter, returning home from London for Christmas. When the last train pulls in, and she doesn't get off it, he makes a desperate overnight dash to find out why. His search takes for her takes over his life, costing him his job and, as he withdraws from home, family and friends, he finds himself alone, despairing of ever seeing her again.

Review
Seeing as I'm now venturing further and further when it comes to stepping out of my usual genre-related comfort zone, I was thoroughly excited to find a review request from Alan Jones in my inbox. Right now, I am loving gritty, hard-hitting crime novels, and so BLOQ fell right into that category. After a swift skim of the blurb, I couldn't wait to begin this book. A missing daughter. A father setting out on his own to find her. It was pulse-raising, painful and powerful. A novel of determination, love and how far a person will go to help those they love dearest.

Once Bloq was sitting comfortably on my Kindle, I decided that I'd read the first chapter, just to give myself a little taste of what lay ahead. What actually happened was me, reading way past midnight, and picking up again immediately when I woke up the next day. It wasn't long after that I finished the book completely and finally felt able to draw breath. Rather than sticking to just that "one chapter", once I'd got started, I didn't want to put this book down.

The author, Alan Jones, reels his reader in straight away. It becomes painfully obvious, while Bill stands on the platform on Christmas Eve waiting for his daughter, Carol, to arrive, that she's not going to get off the intended train, nor the next one, nor the next one. She's missing, and hasn't arrived when she said she would. If anyone knows Carol, then that person is her father, Bill. He knows, for instance, that if anything had cropped up to perhaps keep Carol back for an extra couple of hours/days, then she'd let her father know. She's always been the same. And it is this knowledge of his daughter's character that sets Bill's gradually mounting panic into overdrive, so much so that he can't stop himself from packing his bags, jumping in the car and racing to London to see where she is. And this, my lovely bookish friends, is where the story really begins to pack a punch.

One thing I couldn't get enough of throughout this novel were the alternating chapters, switching between Bill in the present day, and Carol in the past, leading up to the moment of when she is supposed to arrive home to spend Christmas with her father. I have to say, my intrigue swept me right the way through this book. I was desperate to find out what had happened to Carol within those months previous to her not turning up at the station. Bit by bit, her life, which Bill really don't know all too much about, began to slot into place and the dangers I sensed closed in. Carol's life took a turn for the worst that she hadn't seen coming. Alan Jones achieved a spectacular job of the London nightclub scene, writing so brilliantly I felt claustrophobic almost. There was a certain sense of foreboding whenever I found myself back in a chapter focusing on Carol. It was clear that something was going to happen. After all, this would explain perfectly why she hadn't turned up. It was a waiting game, dark and dangerous, yet Carol had no idea of what she'd got herself involved in. I really couldn't wait for Bill to arrive, and I hoped that it wasn't too late.

Tense and fast-paced, I continued to turn those pages. Clues were left behind in Carol's wake as to where she was, and with the help of a surprising friend in his time of need, Bill was fuelled with the fire of a desperate father and stormed onwards. My heart thumped, and with my breath held, I reached each chapter hoping that it would be 'the one.' The one where he'd find Carol, the one where he'd whisk her home to safety. I refuse to give any spoilers so I won't say anymore, but boy was it hard not to skip the pages and rush forward to finally get my answers. Excruciatingly hard, in fact.

I will finish this review by saying I was a bit dubious about whether I'd enjoy this book, but I am so glad Alan Jones took the time to contact me about reading and reviewing BLOQ. It was thrilling, sharp, and full of danger. And as for the ending? Wow. Absolutely spot-on. I really don't think the author could have ended this novel in a more powerful way.

Becca's Books is awarding BLOQ by Alan Jones with five of my bookish stars. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for more from Alan Jones in the future. I couldn't take my eyes off this one.


  



Exclusive from Sarah Morgan: Paige's Guide to Brooklyn

Happy weekend, everyone! I hope you've all got something utterly lovely lined up for yourselves?

Today on Becca's Books, I'm super-excited to be sharing with you an exclusive blog piece from the one and only Sarah Morgan. If you're a fan of Sarah's books and have been keeping up with her brand new series From Manhattan With Love, then you'll have already met the fabulous Paige, whose life really comes into the spotlight in Sleepless in Manhattan. I adored Paige from the get-go. She was a determined, hard-working young woman who inspired me repeatedly. I'm now eagerly anticipating the release of Sarah's next books in the series Sunsets in Central Park (July 2016) and Miracle on 5th Avenue (October 2016)

 Before I ramble on for a moment longer, what I've been meaning to say is that earlier this month, I received a beautiful proof copy of Sleepless in Manhattan, alongside a golden ticket! Opening up my emails, I found, with tons of excitement, that I'd won the chance to host an exclusive blog piece from Sarah Morgan right here on Becca's Books. So, that is what I have to offer you today, lovely book folk. This piece is Paige's Guide to Brooklyn and after a read through myself, I think you're going to love it. Without further ado, here you are and enjoy!

*Special thanks to Sarah Morgan and Cara Thompson*

Paige's Guide to Brooklyn
Thanks to my brother, Matt, I am lucky enough to call a fabulous Brownstone in Brooklyn home. And when times got tough, Brooklyn became the first home of Urban Genie as well. I’d love to welcome you to our neck of the woods – there are lots of great things to do in Brooklyn! So grab the subway, cross the bridge and come join in on the fun in this side of the city.

New York is known for its secret rooftop life. With not a whole lot of green space down below, we thrive on our roof top oasis culture – and Matt’s Brownstone is no different. If you’re looking for a night out in the sky, look no farther than Berry Park in Brooklyn. An expansive beer listing and a roof top to die for. It’s one of our favourite places to take in the skyline.

You can’t make a trip over to Brooklyn and miss out on the Brooklyn Bridge. This iconic structure has been taking breaths away since 1883. One of the best places to take in the sights of Manhattan and The Statue of Liberty – just watch out for the cyclists zooming across! Our insider tip? For the most scenic route walk from the Brooklyn side over to Manhattan. That views of the skyline are spectacular. If you're feeling romantic, do it at sunset.

Walking through the Brooklyn Botanical Garden is one of my favourite ways to unwind. I still can’t believe that I, Paige, live in New York. Growing up on Puffin Island was the epitome of small town life. And now I wander out of the Brownstone, past the magnolia trees and into the gardens and I’m a world away from that small town. Every spring you can line up to see the cherry trees come into bloom, or spend your days strolling through Shakespeare’s garden. It is truly heaven in the centre of the city.

When I’m looking for something a little quirky for an event, I head over to Fort Greene and the Brooklyn Flea. Not only can I always find some kind of vintage gem, the Blue Marble organic ice cream is unmissable. At least for Eva, Frankie and me…! Try anything chocolate, of course.

If you’re looking for a fantastic meal, do not miss Blue Ribbon’s Brooklyn location. Why trek into Soho to eat at this gem? This is a casual, family place with a mix of comfort food and haute cuisine. Of course if it’s something a little different you’re after, you must try Little Muenster. An entire restaurant featuring the classic grilled cheese, like you’ve never had it before. A must for your lunch break on a stressful day.

Although I always dreamed of being a New Yorker, I’ve discovered so much more about the city and the hidden places it can offer. Brooklyn is full of these – so come visit! We know a great little place to take you to!



Available on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US

Blurb
What if the person who broke your heart, is the only one who can help you find your future?

Great friends. Amazing apartment. An incredible job. Paige has ticked off every box on perfect New York life checklist. Until disaster strikes and instead of shimming further up the career ladder, Paige is packing up her desk.

Her brother's best friend Jake might be the only person who can help her put her life back together. He also happens to be the boy she spent her teen years pining after, and Paige is determined to not repeat her past mistakes. But the more time she spends with Jake, the more Paige realises the one thing that was missing from her world.

The perfect New York love story...


About the author
USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes hot, happy contemporary romance and her trademark humour and sensuality have gained her fans across the globe. 

Described as 'a magician with words' by RT Book Reviews, she has been nominated four years in succession for the prestigious RITA© Award from the Romance Writers of America and won the award twice; in 2012 for her book 'Doukakis's Apprentice' and 2013 for 'A Night of No Return'. She also won the RT Reviewers' Choice Award in 2012 and has made numerous appearances in their 'Top Pick' slot.

Sarah lives near London with her husband and children, and when she isn't reading or writing she loves being outdoors, preferably on vacation so she can forget the house needs tidying. 

You can find Sarah Morgan on Facebook | Twitter | sarahmorgan.com








Book Review: White Lies by Zoe Markham

Available on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
Title - White Lies
Author - Zoe Markham
Publication Date - January 18th 2016
Publisher - Carina UK
Format - Kindle Edition (Via Amazon)
Pages - 235

Blurb
Everybody hurts

For Abigail, a new school could be the fresh start she so desperately needs. With her parents in the army and her sister Beth too far away to run to, she knows this year needs to be different. She's never been part of the cool crowd and for the first time Abby wants to fit in. And all it takes is just one little white lie... because some truths are too painful to share.

Everybody lies

But at Cotswold Community College, Abby isn't the only one with a past she'd rather forget. And when she stumbles across a closely-guarded secret, Abigail realises that her one little white lie could reveal everything she's worked so hard to hide...

Review
If what you're after is a Gothic, darkly thrilling and twisted novel, then White Lies by Zoe Markham could be exactly what you're looking for. I'd been meaning to pick up one of Markham's novels for such a long time and finally got round to doing so. I couldn't wait to begin. I'd seen tons of excellent comments on Twitter and the reviews were fantastic too. As soon as I was able to, I tucked right into it and raced through the pages, barely pausing to take a breath.

White Lies by Zoe Markham follows the story of Abigail (Abby) as she slips into her new boarding school and tries to find her feet in the strange new surroundings. With both parents working away in the army, and big sister Beth away at university, Abby is pretty much alone in her new adventures. And adventures they certainly are, although not of the happy, care-free kind. It is clear, from the get-go, that Abby struggles to fit in, and I could sympathise with this character on so many levels. I've never been one of the "cool kids" myself either, and so I felt that extra bit closer to Abby, which I adore when reading any book. Zoe had skilfully crafted Abigail. Despite trying to remain calm on the surface, the reader was able to see right through her demeanour. Beneath, she was a storm of emotions and uncertainty, and who could blame her, really? Abby was fending for herself from the second she arrived at Cotswold Community College, and for one who doesn't feel they belong, it's a bloody struggle. Zoe put this across fantastically well throughout the novel, so much so that I wanted to step right inside and take sides with Abby, so that she didn't feel so alone.

Sharing a room with three other girls, Abby is pleasantly surprised when they quickly fall into friendly conversation with each other, rather than spiteful glares or glances. That is until Scarlett arrives. Everyone loves Scarlett. She's practically perfect in every way. The boys fall at her feet and all the girls want to be her. And Abby's fine with that. Really, she is. That is until she uncovers a deep, dark secret about Scarlett, and this in turn sets the wheels in motion for ultimate destruction. Markham got the whole "clique" feel of the story absolutely spot-on. When things take a turn for the worst, just when I thought everything was going great for Abby, it's not hard to notice how quickly her new friends take sides. Harsh, snide and cruel, Abby realises that the only person who's got her back is herself, and perhaps a few others, but she's not quite sure just yet... There are secrets everywhere she turns, and who, exactly, is she able to trust?

The atmosphere within White Lies by Zoe Markham was suffocating, overwhelming, claustrophobic even. And the simple fact that the novel is set in a boarding school notched up the creepiness by a million. Alongside spine-tingling ghost stories about the place itself, intriguing strangers and secrets being withheld on all counts, this truly got beneath my skin. And then when the shocking truth was finally revealed, I couldn't quite believe what I was hearing. It turned everything I thought I knew about the characters upside down and left me questioning it all. Truly brilliant.

Becca's Books is awarding White Lies by Zoe Markham with four of my bookish stars! Brilliantly developed, with a fantastically curious heroine and a chilling setting, I cannot wait to read more from this author. Markham has a fantastic style, one that I found rather addictive, and one that creeps right into your mind and lingers like fog.

  









Cover Reveal: Like A Virgin by Paige Nick

This evening on Becca's Books, I am delighted to be bringing you a fabulous cover reveal from the wonderful folk over at Avon. Tonight, the cover of Paige Nick's Like A Virgin is revealed, and I hope you love it as much as I do! It's pink, it's fabulous and it's definitely right up my bookish street! Feast your eyes on the cover, have a read of the blurb and feel free to share your thoughts in the comment box below!

Without further ado, here is the cover of Paige Nick's Like A Virgin.

Available on Amazon UK | Amazon US
Arrives April 7th 2016

Blurb
Grace Hendricks has led a pretty sheltered life. So when her sister Natalie begs Grace to take her place as a Rihanna impersonator at a seedy club in Amsterdam, she has no idea what she's letting herself in for... until she ends up onstage with only a pole for support and her lacy knickers in a knot!

Thrown into strip-club life, and forced to share an apartment with an exotic troupe of impersonating divas with Lady Gaga-sized egos, Grace has to learn some hard lessons fast. One: living with Marilyn Monroe and Madonna isn't easy. And two: transformations don't happen overnight - especially when your bra is determined to sabotage your dance routine.


So, what do you think? Sounds fantastic, hey? The preorder links are above the gorgeous cover, ready for your clicking pleasure! I, for one, can't wait to read this one.












Book Review: Beneath The Surface by Heidi Perks

Available on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US


Title - Beneath The Surface
Author - Heidi Perks
Publisher - Red Door
Publication Date - March 24th 2016
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided via author)
Pages - 352

Blurb
I don't know where you are...

I don't know what I've done...

Teenager Abigail Ryder is devastated when she gets home from school to find her family gone. Nothing makes sense. Things are missing from the house and her stepsisters' room is completely empty. But the police think she's in trouble, and when grandmother Eleanor tells her to forget them all and move on, there's no choice other than face the future - alone.

Fourteen years on, Abi and Adam are a happy couple on the verge of parenthood. But when the past comes back to haunt Abi, the only way forward is to go back and uncover the truth - and reveal the dreadful secrets a mother has been hiding all these years.

Review
Wow. What a ride. Sumptuously told, delivered in the most enthralling of ways, Beneath The Surface by Heidi Perks absolutely blew me away. Hooked from page one, it was impossible for me to put this novel down, and in all honesty I didn't want to, and couldn't have even if I had wanted to. The mystery and secrets teased and taunted me towards the moment of reveal and, throughout the pages I became entranced by the story being told to me. Focusing on drama, relationships driven by power and the bonds running deeply within a family, Beneath The Surface by Heidi Perks was a perfect read for me, and I'd highly recommend this to readers who enjoy a twisting novel packed with the ability to keep you guessing.

Heidi Perks opens Beneath The Surface in the most brilliant of ways and throughout, takes readers back and forth to different sections of times, slipping between characters and providing the reader with a view from all angles. Abigail is introduced to us first and, during the opening scene, it's revealed that her mother has upped and left without a last word, taking Abigail's two young sisters with her. With no explanation as to their whereabouts and why they've left her behind, Abigail is left questioning everything and everyone. I couldn't believe that her mother had left Abigail in such a tragic way, but as Heidi began to reveal the oddities of Kathryn to me, I began to realise that perhaps it hadn't been so odd for her to have left like that after all. For the first couple of chapters, the author ensured I was kept deliciously dangling as I waited for more details of this rather bizarre family to become clear. I wanted to know everything and thankfully, Heidi delivered. Through the form of letters and flashbacks, each character's past was built up brick by teasing brick and I couldn't wait for the picture to appear to me, fully-formed. I adored the way Heidi told this story, it really couldn't have been done in a more effective way. It had such a hold over me I couldn't bear to look away for even a single second, terrified of missing a pinnacle moment for all of the characters involved.

The characters within Beneath The Surface by Heidi Perks were a puzzle all of their own. Eleanor, Kathryn, Peter, Abigail, Hannah and Lauren were so complex and intricately put together, I was incredibly interested by each of them in their own right and for different reasons. It became clear part-way into the novel that Heidi Perks had a brilliant knack at having her characters make me feel a certain way. For instance, Eleanor came across as very cold and conniving to me. Kathryn incredibly meek, nervous and unsure of everything and everyone. The twins, Hannah and Lauren, seemed like your typical teenage girls but the differences between them were clear in how they acted. Hannah was certainly the more adventurous of the two, whereas Lauren didn't like to push the boundaries too far. And Abigail, having lived a past like she had, had been through such a lot and I only hoped that she'd find her way. There was so much emotion within this novel. So much hope, but at the same time hopelessness. It took me on such a whirlwind of a journey, I almost couldn't believe how easily I allowed myself to be led by the author. There were moments of shock and disbelief, moments of my mind trying to jump ahead excitedly to try and figure out how everything would end. It was such a thrilling read, I'm jealous of anyone who gets to read this for the first time. I really am.

The plot itself was punchy and sharp, one where I found something new to anticipate with every new chapter. How the past and the present came to meet was incredible and I felt truly in awe of what Heidi Perks had achieved with her characters and their stories. The whole truth and nothing but the truth was delivered to me, it only made me read the remainder of the book quicker and with even more vigour. I could not get enough and really didn't want the story to end. Despite the amount of information packed into this book, Heidi Perks didn't miss a single trick. She ensured her characters were solid people, people who felt so real to me I could hardly believe they were fictional. The consequences of the past came to light in the present day and it was done so spectacularly, I was left reeling and breathless.

All in all, this was a tremendous novel for me to get lost in. It consumed and toyed with me, in the way only a brilliant story can do. My mind was constantly full of these characters and their lives, and the need to continue repeatedly tugged at me. It was mysterious, overwhelming and utterly addictive. I, for one, cannot wait for whatever Heidi Perks brings to the table next. I sincerely hope I don't have to wait too long. She is definitely an author to keep an eye on.

Becca's Books is awarding Beneath the Surface by Heidi Perks with five bookish stars. All-consuming, I was lost to the world while reading and devoured each chapter with relish. Special thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy of Beneath the Surface in exchange for a fair and honest review.


    
  



Book Review: The Silent Twin by Caroline Mitchell

Available on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US


Title - The Silent Twin
Author - Caroline Mitchell
Publication Date - April 14th 2016
Publisher - Bookouture
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided by publisher via NetGalley)
Pages - 322

Blurb
I’m alone in the dark, please can you find me …

Nine-year-old twins Abigail and Olivia vow never to be parted. But when Abigail goes missing from Blackwater Farm, DC Jennifer Knight must find her before it’s too late. 

Twin sister Olivia has been mute since Abigail’s disappearance. But when she whispers in Jennifer’s ear, Jennifer realises it is Abigail’s voice pleading to be found. 

A damp and decaying house set in acres of desolate scrubland, the farm is a place of secrets, old and new – and Jennifer must unravel them all in order to find the lost girl. But could Olivia’s bond with her twin hold the key to finding Abigail? And can Jennifer break through her silence in time to save her sister’s life?

Review
First of all, I'd like to thank Caroline Mitchell and her wonderful publisher Bookouture for providing me with a copy of The Silent Twin in exchange for a fair and honest review. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Being granted access to titles before they're even published never, ever loses its sparkle, and I am so incredibly grateful to Bookouture.

I actually feel quite sentimental as I sit here and think about what I want to type. I suppose I should explain my soppy emotions by telling you that I've been a supporter of Caroline Mitchell right from the very beginning. From the moment she was announced as Bookouture's newest author, I was utterly thrilled, and I couldn't wait to get my paws on each and every one of her novels. Well, Caroline has crossed some pretty epic milestones since then and it's bizarre to think that I'm about to review the third and final novel in her DC Jennifer Knight series. It only seems like yesterday when the first book in the series was announced, and now I'm saying farewell to Jennifer Knight... *sob sob sob* Fingers crossed she makes a reappearance in the future, because I really don't feel quite ready to let go of her bad-ass self just yet.

Despite having read, reviewed and loved the first two books in the DC Jennifer Knight series, Don't Turn Around and Time To Die, I have to say that The Silent Twin topped those in my eyes. That's not to say that they weren't brilliant because they were, but The Silent Twin was absolutely phenomenal and I truly couldn't bear to put this one down. Intertwining the supernatural with crime thriller is utter, utter genius, and I do believe that no one does it better than Caroline Mitchell. Despite having been a firm lover of books for as long as I have, Caroline was the first author I'd came across who combined these two genres so seamlessly and attractively. Having always had a strange fascination with the supernatural, plus not actually reading crime thriller until only recently, Caroline Mitchell opened my eyes to a stunning new mix of genre with a heroine I couldn't have loved more. Suffice to say, I am a major, major fan, and I've a feeling I will continue to be exactly that for as long as this author is writing.

When The Silent Twin was announced by Bookouture and the eerie cover alongside it, my interest was immediately piqued. Quite simply, it looked right up my street. With the ghostly figures, chilling title and foggy, smoky backdrop, it called to me and I couldn't wait to begin. The Silent Twin follows the story of DC Jennifer Knight and the case of missing twin, Abigail. No one knows where she's gone, whether she's alive or dead, and this pretty much sets up the plot for the remainder of the book. It's a race against time, intense and goosebump-inducing, with the time since Abigail went missing titling every chapter or so, only heightening the panic and sense of dread. Last seen on the farm where she and her family live, Blackwater Farm, DC Jennifer Knight has a feeling that the answers she is searching for could be closer to home than she imagined.

Blackwater Farm was such a fitting setting for The Silent Twin to unravel in. Aged, old and creaking, it instilled a fear in me of things hiding in dark places, creeping about in the shadows, and Caroline's descriptions were spot-on. I could see it clear as day in mind. Working under Operation Moonlight (and if you've read any of the other books in this series then you'll know of Jennifer Knight's abilities), she really is the best person to be on the scene. There's talk of strange goings-on within the home. Things moving by themselves, doors slamming etc. and this, coupled alongside a missing child, was almost too much for me to handle. I really don't think Caroline could have created a more chilling place for this story to take place in, and with the spirits that roamed the halls and rooms, it seriously packed a supernatural punch.

With Abigail missing, she leaves behind her twin Olivia. She hasn't spoken a single word since her twin disappeared, and this poses as a problem for Jennifer Knight, although she knows that if she's to crack the case, she has to get Olivia to talk. Not an easy feat. I absolutely loved Caroline's characters within The Silent Twin. From the moment she appeared on the scene, I waited and watched with eagerness and baited breath as the members of Abigail's family stepped forward one by one. They were all so convincing yet suspicious in unique ways. From Nick, their angry father, to Joanna, their strangely upbeat mother... I couldn't wait for Jennifer Knight to get closer to the case, to study each of them that bit more closely to see who was hiding what. It was an intense guessing game, boosted by the anonymous diary entries that cropped up here and there, and my heart was racing ten to the dozen and I progressed further and further into the cold, hard-hitting mystery.

As the novel progressed, I couldn't get through the remainder of the book quick enough. I raced through the pages, heart in my throat, desperate to reach the end to see whether Abigail would be found alive, safe and well. As the back stories to each of the characters involved were revealed to me, everything began to make sense and fell into place. I couldn't believe it, and found myself reeling from the things Jennifer Knight discovered. It was absolutely brilliant, captivating in the most dark and terrifying way, and the author had me wrapped right around her little finger. Mitchell has swiftly become one of my favourite storytellers. I haven't felt let down once by this author. Every plot she produces for her readers is thicker, twistier and darker than the previous, and it's the truth when I say that she continues to get better and better.

All in all, The Silent Twin by Caroline Mitchell is getting nothing but the highest rating from me. More than that, even. This was everything I hoped it would be and then some. Dark, dangerous, intense, and with a killer plot that held me completely captive, it is my favourite yet from Mitchell. It had everything a thriller needs in order to have that impact on the reader, and boy did it have an impact on me. I can tell you one thing. I'm going to be eagerly anticipating every novel to come from Caroline Mitchell. She took me on a twisting, turning, tick-tocking journey, fast-paced and destructive for all of those involved. I loved it. Five stars from me!





  















Blog Tour: Review - Waiting For You by Catherine Miller


Title - Waiting For You
Author - Catherine Miller
Publication Date - March 10th 2016
Publisher - Carina UK
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided via author)


You'd never guess that Fliss Chapron doesn't have it all...

All Fliss wants is to see two blue lines telling her she is pregnant with her much longed for second baby. But as the negative tests stack up, dreams of completing her perfect family feel more hopeless every day.

After years of disappointment, Fliss's husband Ben is spending more time at the office than in their marital bed, and Fliss finds herself wondering who could be responsible for their inability to conceive another child. Yet, where do you lay the blame when it comes to having a child - and can anyone really be at fault...

As Ben becomes increasingly distant, Fliss begins to question whether her desire for a baby is just sticking a plaster to save her marriage. Because in the end, how well can you ever know another person... even the man you're married to?

Waiting For You by Catherine Miller was a highly-emotional, moving novel, full of longing, hope and surprises waiting just around the corner. The topics raised within this book are ones that I have no personal experience of, yet Catherine Miller's emotive language allowed me to feel everything right beside Fliss. The yearning for another child, to provide her daughter Hollie with a sibling to share her childhood with, was weaved right the way through this novel, pulling the characters forward and onwards. From just the first few couple of pages, I was hooked and emotionally involved within the plot unfolding and I knew that I wanted to join Fliss during this part of her life.

What I really loved about Waiting For You was how many themes the author brings up within Fliss's story. There's the dissection of she and Ben's marriage, the focus on her daughter Hollie, the suspicions she begins to harbour, and secrets. This isn't just a straight road from beginning to end. It's intricate, displaying how one thing toppling over can eventually lead to the toppling over of other things in life, and Fliss has to deal with all of these and more throughout the novel. I really admired this woman, for how much she handled despite the internal war she was battling. Fliss was a strong, loving woman, despite the moments of sadness and weakness that the reader is witness to, and I wanted nothing more than for the author to hand Fliss what she wanted more than anything else in the world on a plate and be done with it. There's so much suffering to contend with, but I do know that, if the author had done this, I wouldn't have been able to dig deeper into Fliss's character and discover what she really was all about. She had hopes and dreams of her own, fears too, and when things began to take a surprising turn later on in the novel, I seriously hoped that Fliss would pull through.

The use of online forums and chat rooms to help Fliss through her trying times led her to make friends who were in the same or a similar position to her, which I felt this character definitely needed. It was sad because, despite Ben needing to have been there for her, he began to become more and more distant and so she turned to others for support. Thank God for friends, right? Here, Fliss found comfort that Ben (the idiot) couldn't provide. In fact, there were times throughout this book I could have happily wiped him from the novel completely because he wound me up so much, although again, his character needed to be included to add the conflict and confusion. These friends that Fliss made through the web were wonderfully special, the type of friends everyone needs around them when times are particularly hard and I was happy that Fliss had them there to boost her spirits and keep her going, because clearly Ben couldn't have cared less.

The pacing of this novel was spot-on for me, and when the television crew arrive after Fliss decides to document her emotional and physical journey, it speeds up even more. When faced with this proposition, Fliss really isn't sure that it's for her, but with Ben away so much and working late etc. she decides to go for it anyway, which nicely brings new character and friend Leon into the plot. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the relationships and friendships within this book change and take shape. They provided new outlets for Fliss and I think Leon came along at just the right time.

Ultimately, this was moving and tender novel about one woman's wish to complete her family. The characters were fantastic and led me down plenty of different roads, the themes explored opened my mind to numerous ideas and possibilities, and I think the author handled each topic with delicacy and the up-most care and respect. Her heroine Fliss was wonderfully created and I really wanted nothing but the best for her. Kind-hearted and warm-spirited, her journey was one full of ups and downs, and I finished this novel with a glorious happy sigh because it's just one of those books that, while digging deep into emotions, it still leaves you full of hope, love and with an eagerness for life.

Becca's Books is awarding Waiting For You by Catherine Miller with four of my bookish stars. The author knows exactly how to tug at your heartstrings at all of the right moments, and I can't wait to read more from Catherine Miller. I hope Fliss is incredibly happy, and that sounds so odd, seeing as she's a fictional character, but oh well. Just one of those bookworm habits, I guess.

Special thanks to Carina UK and Catherine Miller for providing me with a review copy of Waiting For You in exchange for a fair and honest review.



When Catherine Miller became a mum to twins, she decided her hands weren't full enough so wrote a novel with every spare moment she managed to find. By the time the twins were two, Catherine had a two-book deal with Carina UK. There is a possibility she has aged remarkably in that time. Her debut novel, Waiting For You, is due out in March 2016.

Catherine was a NHS physiotherapist, but for health reasons (Uveitis and Sarcoidosis) she retired early from this career. As she loved her physiotherapy job, she decided if she couldn't do that she would pursue her writing dream. It took a few years and a couple of babies, but in 2015 she won the Katie Fforde bursary, was a finalist in the London Book Fair Write Stuff Competition and highly commended in Woman magazine's writing competition. Soon afterwards she signed with Carina. Soon after that, she collapsed in a heap and was eventually revived by chocolate.

You can find Catherine Miller on Facebook | Twitter | katylittlelady.com






  





  





  






Sleepless In Manhattan by Sarah Morgan


Title - Sleepless in Manhattan
Author - Sarah Morgan
Publication Date - March 10th 2016
Publisher - MIRA
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided via publisher via NetGalley)
Pages - 384

What if the person who broke your heart, is the only one who can help you find your future?

Great friends. Amazing apartment. An incredible job. Paige has ticked off every box on perfect New York life checklist. Until disaster strikes and instead of shimming further up the career ladder, Paige is packing up her desk.

Her brother's best friend Jake might be the only person who can help her put her life back together. He also happens to be the boy she spent her teen years pining after, and Paige is determined to not repeat her past mistakes. But the more time she spends with Jake, the more Paige realises the one thing that was missing from her world all along...

The perfect New York love story...

Oh my. It's been a while since I swooned as much as I did while I was reading Sleepless In Manhattan by Sarah Morgan. I honestly cannot fault Sarah at all, not even with the teeniest, tiniest thing. Everything from her characters and settings, to the relationships and the plots was utterly spot-on and satisfied me, as the reader, completely, and nothing compares to that glorious feeling of when you finish a story and sigh with happiness at how beautifully the author achieved it. I've come to realise, with the more novels by Morgan that I've read, that she has got this down to a fine art, and the very moment that I turned the final page of this book, I was hungry for more.

Sleepless In Manhattan by Sarah Morgan is the first full novel in Sarah's gorgeous new series From Manhattan With Love. The next novels, Sunset In Central Park and Miracle On 5th Avenue are to follow in July and October of 2016, both of which I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on. I've adored the previous books I've read of Sarah's, The Snow Crystal series and the Puffin Island series being particular favourites of mine. I mean, let's be real, who in their right mind can resist the charms and rugged good looks of the O'Neil brothers?! (Definitely not me.) As much as I loved these though, I have been stupidly giddy with excitement of Sarah's brand new series, and once the cover of Sleepless In Manhattan was revealed, my excitement only grew in intensity.

In Sleepless In Manhattan, Sarah Morgan introduces her readers to a fabulous new cast of characters. We meet Paige, Frankie, and Eva, and oh my word, were they wonderful! From the very moment I began to form an image of each of these women in my mind, I just adored them. Sleepless In Manhattan focuses mainly on Paige's own story though, but Frankie and Eva still remain very much within it as Paige's best friends and go-to women. With such a truly special, unbreakable bond between the three women, it was difficult for me not to want to slip within their friendship circle and call these women friends of my own. So beautifully unique in their personalities and characteristics, yet so closely formed as their group of three, I loved every second spent alongside them. The contrasts between Paige, Frankie and Eva were clear to see, especially between Frankie and Eva. While Frankie kept her heart safe and refused to believe in the glittery, sparkly side of love and romance, Eva reminded me very much of myself. Hopeful, positive, and full of belief in that sought-after happy ending, she was a pure joy to be around. The friendly banter between Frankie and Eva made me smile and amused me to no end because, despite the shaking of Frankie's head whenever Evan turned dreamy and wistful, you just knew that she adored her best friend, no matter what. And that was very much the case between the three of them. Tightly-knitted, the women knew everything there was to know about each other, their pasts and things about each others' families. It was a friendship every woman should find themselves within, and Sarah achieved a magnificent job of highlighting the bond between the three of them. Alongside Paige, Frankie and Eve, Sarah also introduced Paige's brother Matt, and his best friend Jake who, as Sarah reveals later on, shares quite a history with Paige that seems to bind them together all these years later and right the way through the story. It was deliciously thrilling and exciting, in that much-loved Morgan style, and I could not get enough of it. ALL OF IT.

The plot itself was second to none. Not once did it lag for me. In fact, I raced through this story so fast and so fervently, I felt a bit breathless by the time I turned the final page. Sarah Morgan planted a seed of hunger within me for Paige's and Jake's story, meaning I read late into the night, early the next morning and in the bath too. The characters, particularly Paige and Jake, had so much to offer the reader. Morgan delved deep into the layers of their character and gradually brought their inner qualities and pains from the past to the surface. What I adored about Paige was her determination and feisty side (which is something I'm certain Jake loved about her too). When she'd been younger, due to medical complications, she'd been smothered by care, worry and hesitations about how she'd progress through her life. Growing from that, she'd been desperate to live a life of her own and make her decisions for herself. It was understandable to me why Paige would feel that way. Despite knowing that her family and friends had only done so because of how much they cared about her, Sarah told the reader perfectly how Paige had felt smothered and unable to take control of her life. As for Jake, his own history broke my heart, but again, it made sense that he'd used his past to create the man that he was now. Strong, unshakeable and completely focused and driven, he was a real force of man and muscle to contend with. Sarah's men are never anything but one hundred percent pure fictional dreamboats, and Jake only proved this further. After a situation that had arose between the two of them years before, there was a simmering chemistry between them that I couldn't ignore and, it seemed, neither could the characters themselves. Sarah threw them together into situations that had them questioning everything, from the barriers that they'd both built around themselves to whether they could ignore the chemistry for a single second longer.

The setting was stunning, the characters were fantastic, and the romance was tumbling into this story left, right and centre. I adored watching Paige become a stronger, even more determined young woman alongside her friends who were the very definition of trusting and supportive, as their gorgeous new business venture was brought to life, Urban Genie. Between the three women, there were a handful of unique talents which were put to work and I craved for them to succeed! It was a story of friendship, success, love and taking control of life, alongside the realisation that you really can go the distance if you so desire.

As soon as I turned the final page of Sleepless In Manhattan, I wanted more. I really cannot wait for the next book in the series, which is where we'll see more of Frankie and learn about her own disastrous relationship with her mother, which I'm incredibly intrigued by. Sleepless In Manhattan has got me seriously excited, so roll on July! Thank you for another beautiful story, Sarah. I think this could be my favourite yet... Becca's Books is awarding Sleepless In Manhattan by Sarah Morgan with FIVE STARS!





Book Review: Shtum by Jem Lester

Available on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US

Title - Shtum
Author - Jem Lester
Publication Date - April 7th 2016
Publisher - Orion
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided by publisher)
Pages - 368

Blurb
Ben Jewell has hit breaking point.

His ten-year-old son, Jonah, has never spoken. So when Ben and Jonah are forced to move in with Ben's elderly father, three generations of men - one who can't talk; two who won't - are thrown together.

As Ben battles single fatherhood, a string of well-meaning social workers and his own demons, he learns some difficult lessons.

Jonah, blissful in his ignorance, becomes the prism through which all the complicated strands of personal identity, family history and misunderstanding are finally untangled.

Funny and heart-breaking in equal measure, Shtum is a story about families, forgiveness and finding a light in the darkest days.

Review
Where on earth do I begin with this one? I'm not even sure if there's an ending and a beginning. I was crying into my pillow at stupid o'clock last night when I turned the final page of Shtum by Jem Lester, because it's been such a long time since I came across a novel that managed to move me in the way that this one did. I'd seen plenty of bloggers within the book community talking about it, and it was certainly on my radar, but when offered the chance to read a review copy, I couldn't say yes quick enough. One of the things I'm so very grateful for is the opportunity to read books before they hit the shelves. This one? Incredibly so.

Shtum by Jem Lester follows the Jewell family. Newly-separated from his wife, Emma, for reasons revealed within the novel, Ben and Jonah share Mr Jewell Senior's home for the foreseeable future. The novel packs an almighty, emotional punch from just the first pages and my heart remained in a tight knot for the rest of the duration. Autism is something which lies incredibly close to my heart, so perhaps that's why I took to it so keenly? But then again, saying that, whether it was something you were close to or not, I believe this story could tangle you up within it's clasp regardless. Lester doesn't hold back with the details, but as rings true with real life, it is the details that enable your mind to remember certain things. We meet Jonah in the first chapter. We meet Ben and Emma's struggle in the first chapter, too. It becomes evident immediately that there is a routine in place, there's a certain way to how they do things. It needs to be that way in order to help their son, they believe. But the strings that would otherwise bind this family together are beginning to tug loose. They are not okay.

That's one of the spectacular things we witness within this novel. I don't think I've ever been granted such a view into a family before now. It was hard-hitting, raw and incredibly powerful. Jem Lester takes us as close as he can possibly, possibly get to Ben, Emma and Jonah. We're given an insight that I really didn't prepare myself for, an insight I'm still spinning from now. It was intense, yet tender at the same time. How can that be? Well, Jem Lester is clearly a bloody brilliant author.

As Ben, Jonah and Georg's story progresses, the reader is witness to a number of things going on in the Jewell's lives. Not only is Ben battling to have Jonah moved to a better, safer, and happier place to learn and play, but there are medical heartaches, the breakdown of a marriage, friendship, career and so much more. Lester packs a serious punch with this novel. It puts into perspective what is truly important in the most beautiful and tragic of ways. There's an untold story within a story, which is amazing in itself. There are long-hidden secrets, secrets that make your gut clench with sadness and regret once revealed. This is a novel that pinpoints and picks apart those aspects of life that act as the foundations holding up who we really are as individuals.

And at the heart of this whirlwind of a novel stands Jonah Jewell. Doesn't speak a word, yet seems to say an epic proportion. Through Jonah, Georg and Ben begin to communicate. Through Jonah, a battle begins. Through Jonah, Ben is pushed to his very limits, but at the end of it all, finally realises who he really is deep down and what he is capable of. Although Jonah doesn't speak, his heart speaks volumes and he absolutely bowled me over. This entire novel did. I'm even going to have to come back to this review to add more as it comes to me. It was beautiful, stunning, heartbreaking. It moved me to tears. It was a demonstration of a father's love for his son. It was real and vivid and oh-so-striking, and will remain within me for years and years to come. Jem Lester, I applaud you. This is the type of novel that I want to tell people about but can't find the words to describe it. I hope I've managed to somehow convey my love through this review. THANK YOU!

Becca's Books is awarding Shtum by Jem Lester with five stars. And that is all. Because I really, really don't know what else to say, other than that it was incredible. Huge thanks to Sam Eades for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.