#BlogTour #Bookreview – Five Steps To Happy by Ella Dove (@Tr4cyF3nt0n @Trapezebooks)

Life can change in a heartbeat…

When struggling actress Heidi has a life-changing accident aged 32, her world falls apart. Stuck in hospital and unable to walk, her only companion is Maud, the elderly lady in the bed next to hers. Heidi misses her flatmate, her life, her freedom – surely 32 is too young to be an amputee?

But when Maud’s aloof but attractive grandson Jack pays a visit to the ward, Heidi realises that her life isn’t over just because it’s different. It might not look like the life she dreamed of, but it’s the one she’s got – and there’s a lot she still wants to tick off her bucket list. With Jack at her side, will Heidi take the first step back to happiness? Or is there one more surprise still in store…?

A feel-good read based on the inspiring true story of journalist Ella Dove. Sometimes all it takes is one small step… 

Published July 2019 by Trapeze (UK) 

~ Review ~  

Firstly, I have to apologise. I’m a couple of days late with my stop on the blog tour for this book due to a technical hitch. The book was worth the trouble though, as it’s a truly inspiring and heartwarming story which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Heidi is out jogging, when she trips and falls. Hours later she wakes in hospital to find she has had a leg amputated due to the severity of her injury. An out going and active woman, Heidi must relearn how to walk and build her confidence ready to face the real world again. But she is haunted by the man who saw her fall that day and didn’t stay to help her. If he had, could Heidi have avoided the situation she now finds herself in?

The most touching thing about this book is that it is based on the authors real life experiences. Who would ever have thought a fall while out jogging could have such life changing consequences? Five Steps to Happy explores the emotions and feelings experienced first hand by the author, making it extremely honest and raw at times. Heidi’s feelings of resentment  towards other patients in the rehab center who were there through lifestyle choices, her guilt at the pressure and effect on her family and friends and her anger towards the man who left her come straight from the heart and voice of experience.

Yet despite the awfulness of Heidi’s situation, this is an incredibly positive and uplifting book. Yes Heidi experiences grief at the loss of the person and future she expects, but she faces the path she now finds herself on with determination and strength. Life not be as she thought it was, but she is going to enjoy it with goals, achievements and challenges tackled head on.

Ella Dove writes with warmth and humour as well as honesty, and I’m really glad I got to read this book. Five Steps To Happy really is an inspiring book, and just shows that we should never take anything for granted because in an just an instant everything can change.  This is definitely a book I’d recommend and I guarantee you too will fall in love with Heidi.

(I read a finished copy which I bought after some technical hitches with my free netgally copy)

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#BlogTour #Bookreview – Expectation by Anna Hope (@annecater @DoubleDayUK) #ExpectationBook

Hannah, Cate and Lissa are young, vibrant and inseparable. Living on the edge of a common in East London, their shared world is ablaze with art and activism, romance and revelry – and the promise of everything to come. They are electric. They are the best of friends.

Ten years on, they are not where they hoped to be. Amidst flailing careers and faltering marriages, each hungers for what the others have. And each wrestles with the same question: what does it take to lead a meaningful life?

EXPECTATION is a novel of the highs and lows of friendship – how it can dip, dive and rise again. It is also about finding your way: as a mother, a daughter, a wife, a rebel. Most of all, it explores that liminal space between expectation and reality, the place – full of dreams, desires and pain – in which we all live our lives. 

Published July 11th 2019 by DoubleDay (UK)

~ Review ~  

As soon as I read the synopsis to this book, I wanted to read it. It felt familiar, like something I would very much relate to. Within a couple of pages I knew I was right.

Expectation tells the story of three friends, Hannah, Cate and Lissa and switches from their youth – when life is full of opportunity and promise, to their late thirties and early forties, where reality has turned out different to their dreams and expectations. We hear from each of three main characters in turn, as they face the disappointments of a struggling career, failed IVF and a marriage and family life that feels suffocating. And among all that, the changing dynamics of their friendship over the decades.

While I may not have had as an exciting and promising youth and twenties as these characters, I could definitely relate to some of their insecurities and disillusionment in the present. It’s strange how in youth, you are sure your wisdom and confidence will grow with age, yet at times I feel more uncertain and filled with self doubt now. I recognised this in the characters and was able to empathise strongly with them.

I really enjoyed reading the dynamics of the friendship. We all like the idea of friends for life, but I guess it’s true that we are different people at different times in our lives, and as the three women find, we might not end up being the person or living the life we thought we would be and relationships drift or grow apart. I loved reading about the time when the women lived together, at their peak and just enjoying life, it made me quite nostalgic.

The writing in this book is beautiful, and is definitely to be savoured. It evokes intense feelings of emotion at times, as we experience the heartaches and ups and downs alongside Hannah, Cate and Lissa. Expectation is a stunning portrayal of modern life and friendship – balancing reality with the high expectation we put on ourselves as we cross that point from youth to our middle age. It’s both nostalgic of the past and hopeful for the future. I really enjoyed this book and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

I read an advance proof copy courtesy of the publisher

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#BlogTour #BookReview – Train Man by Andrew Mulligan (@Annecater @ChattoBooks)

Michael is a broken man. He’s waiting for the 09.46 to Gloucester, so as to reach Crewe for 11.22: the platforms are long at Crewe, and he can walk easily into the path of a high-speed train to London. He’s planned it all: a net of tangerines (for when the refreshments trolley is cancelled), and a juice carton, full of neat whisky. To make identification swift, he has taped his last credit card to the inside of his shoe.

What Michael hasn’t factored in is a twelve-minute delay, which risks him missing his connection, and making new ones. He longs to silence the voices in his own head: ex-girlfriends, colleagues, and the memories from his schooldays, decades old. They all torment him. What Michael needs is somebody to listen.

A last, lonely journey becomes a lesson in the power of human connection, proving that no matter how bad things seem, it’s never too late to get back on track.

Journeys intersect. People find hope when and where they least expect it. A missed connection needn’t be a disaster: it could just save your life. 

Published July 4th 2019 by Chatto & Windus (UK)

~ Review ~   

When I was offered to read and review this book, it was theme of connections that appealed to me. I love the idea of twists of fate, chance encounters – however small- and the knock on effect they have. The optimist in me loves the idea of a small act of kindness changing someone’s day, week or life.

Train Man tells the story of Michael as he embarks on what he plans as his final journey. Michael feels he can’t go on, and the only solution is to take his own life. But as he travels towards his chosen destination, he is forced to reconsider thanks to small interactions he has on his way.

Michael’s story is pretty bleak as the reader is invited into his dark personal thoughts and memories. It took me a little while to get into, as the plot seems jumpy and fragmented to begin with as he skips between the now and his past. It’s a little tricky to keep track of until the style settles into itself and I became accustomed to it. But actually, it’s a pretty appropriate style for the character and conveys his jumbled and disturbed thought process perfectly. This isn’t a man who is thinking completely rationally and coherently after all.

After a couple of chapters I found myself really immersed in the story, and the host of characters introduced along the way. Don’t get me wrong – this is a pretty dark book at times with themes of sexual abuse, and isn’t always comfortable to read. But there’s humour and warmth in there too, with Andy Mulligan picking out characteristics and mannerisms representing every aspect of human nature from the cruel and selfish to the kind and compassionate, the ridiculously funny and silly to the down right heartbreak and sadness.

Train Man is a story of an innate need for human connection, and the surprising places it may come from if we open up. It doesn’t try and sugarcoat and romaticise – it’s brutal in its honesty and leaves the reader to ponder the resolution rather than spell it out for them at the end. A thought provoking book and one which I’ll remember and think about for quite a while.

(I read a copy courtesy of the publisher)

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#BlogTour ~BookReview – The Missing Wife by Sam Carrington

You think you know those closest to you. You are wrong…

A sleep-deprived new mother approaching her fortieth birthday, the very last thing Louisa wants to do is celebrate.

But when her friend Tiff organises a surprise party, inviting the entire list of Louisa’s Facebook friends, Louisa is faced with a room full of people she hasn’t spoken to in years – including someone she never expected to see again: her ex-boyfriend, Oliver Dunmore.
 
When Oliver’s wife Melissa goes missing after the party, everyone remembers the night differently. Someone knows what happened to Melissa, and Louisa is determined to find them. But the truth could be closer, and the deception more devastating, than she’d ever imagined…

A gripping psychological suspense novel, perfect for fans of Samantha Downing’s My Lovely Wife, Lucy Clarke’s You Let Me Inand Linda Green’s The Last Thing She Told Me.

Published June 2019 by Avon

~ Review ~ 

I’ve read most of Sam Carrington’s previous books, and found them to be pacy, twisty and thoroughly enjoyable reads. The Missing Wife is no exception, and one thing’s for sure – when you pick up a book for from this author, you know you’re in for a great, page turning read.

The Missing Wife starts with frazzled new mum, Louisa, struggling through sleep deprivation as an older mum. With her fortieth birthday looming, the last thing she feels like is celebrating. But when a promised night away for a rest and good sleep without the baby turns into a surprise party, Louise is faced with a past she’d rather leave behind and forgotten memories she’d rather not remember. When she finds out the next morning that someone went missing from her party, it looks like the nightmare is only just beginning.

Louise had ALL my sympathies when she realises her husband has sprung a surprise party on her rather than the relaxing break she desperately needed. I mean who wants a room full of your past facing you when you’re exhausted in the first few weeks following childbirth? To be honest, a surprise party with people from my past would be my worst nightmare at anytime! Poor woman.

One of the guests is even less welcome, Ex college sweetheart, Oliver, who puts Louise even more on edge with his presence after twenty years. Oliver is immediately creepy – he had my shackles up from the start and I was desperate to find out what it was he was hiding, and what had happened during their relationship to traumatise Louise so much she’d extinguished it from her memory.

The Missing Wife is one of those books that casts suspicion on every character, and I must’ve come up ten different theories while reading this. It’s a twisty, tangled story of bad judgement, past mistakes and obsession. With a compelling plot and short, punchy chapters, this is a quick read which held my attention from beginning to end. Absolutely perfect one sitting reading, this is definitely one for your holiday list this year.

(I read an advance copy courtesy of the publisher)

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#Blogtour #Bookreview – Something To live For by Richard Roper (@orionbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n)

Sometimes you have to risk everything to find your something…

Andrew works with death for a living. Searching for people’s next of kin and attending the funerals if they don’t have anyone, he’s desperate to avoid the same fate for himself. Which is fine, because he has the perfect wife and 2.4 children waiting at home for him after a long day. At least, that’s what he’s told people.

The truth is, his life isn’t exactly as people think and the little white lie he once told is about to catch up with him.

Because in all Andrew’s efforts to fit in, he’s forgotten one important thing: how to really live. And maybe, it’s about time for him to start. 

Published 27th June 2019 by Orion 

~ Review ~ 

There’s been a bit of a focus recently on lonliness in our increasingly isolated worlds and the impact this has on our mental health. And it’s also featuring strongly in fiction – or maybe that’s the type of book I’m drawn to?. This is the second book in a row I’ve read with similar themes, only this time it’s from a male perspective.

When Andrew went for an interview at a local council, a misunderstanding starts off a lie that escalates and overwhelms him. To his colleague, he is husband to a highly successful lawyer, Diane and father to two lovely kids. He talks about their achievements, illnesses and family ups and downs. But when he leaves the office, Andrew returns to his lonely bedsit, where he’s lived for the last twenty years and prepares his meal for one. But when his boss decides the perfect team bonding exercise is to get to know one another out of work and take turns to host dinner parties along with their partners, Andrew is thrown into panic. And then there’s the new colleague, Peggy, who has brought Andrew out of his shell over the last couple of months. Is his life about to fall apart Just when Andrew is about to start living?

Oh how this book broke my heart and pieced it back together again! I absolutely adored it. It’s has that perfect blend of humour and vulnerability that brings a character truely to life and ensures they stay with you for a long time.

Andrew is such a likable character, that it was almost painful to see the car crash heading his way as his lie is bound to be exposed. I felt that Richard Roper wrote him brilliantly – capturing a sense of abandonment, loneliness, isolation and lack of self esteem that is tangible. Yet at the same time I always felt there was hope for him, championed him and really wanted things to work out. I’ve read quite a lot of similar books from a female perspective, so it was really interesting and thought provoking to read Andrew’s story.

The friendship between Andrew and Peggy is wonderful to watch unfold, as she lights a spark in him and kind of brings him back to life. The setting of their work place was also fascinating – a council department which clears the homes and arranges funerals for the deceased with no other family or friends. There were some lighter, funny moments tinged with sadness. It’s a sombre thought, to die completely alone in the world without friend or family.

Something To Live For has dark and heartbreaking themes, yet is a book that shines with joy and hope. It’s one of those books that restore your faith in humanity and inspires you to be kinder. Thought-provoking, relevant, sad and funny – I devoured this book in a matter of hours and am still thinking about it long after turning the last page.

(I read an advance proof copy courtesy of the publisher)

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#Blogtour #Bookreview – Needlemouse by Jane O’Connor (@Orionbooks @Tr4cyf3nt0n)

Time to come out of hibernation…

Sylvia Penton has been hibernating for years, it’s no wonder she’s a little prickly…

Sylvia lives alone, dedicating herself to her job at the local university. On weekends, she helps out at a local hedgehog sanctuary because it gives her something to talk about on Mondays – and it makes people think she’s nicer than she is.

Only Sylvia has a secret: she’s been in love with her boss, Professor Lomax, for over a decade now, and she’s sure he’s just waiting for the right time to leave his wife. Meanwhile she stores every crumb of his affection and covertly makes trouble for anyone she feels gets in his way.

But when a bright new PhD candidate catches the Professor’s eye, Sylvia’s dreams of the fairy tale ending she has craved for so long, are soon in tatters, driving her to increasingly desperate measures and an uncertain future.

Sylvia might have been sleep walking through her life but things are about to change now she’s woken up… 

Published by Orion June 27th 2019

~ Review ~

Needlemouse: 

Japanese term for hedgehog, a small nocturnal mammal with a spiny coat and short legs, able to roll itself into a ball for defence.  

There were two things about this book that caught my eye. First all … NEEDLEMOUSE!!! Isn’t that just the best name ever! Hedgehogs will now be forever known as Needlemouses in my house. I love it!

Secondly, I kind of relate to the description of the Needlemouse. I’m a bit prickly and solitary but it’s a defence mechanism. And while I’m nowhere near as spiky as main character, Sylvia, I did relate to some aspects of her. Though NOT the stalkery aspect I hasten to add!!

Sylvia is a woman in her fifties, bitter with disappointments at her life, jealous of those who have what she doesn’t and critical and negative as a defence mechanism. But there’s one light in her life, her boss – Professor Carl Lomax, or Prof as she affectionately calls him. She’s sure, after fifteen years of loyalty, their relationship is about to take a step from working to romantic. If only she could get rid of the bubbly and attractive student who’s demanding lots of his time right now.

I absolutely adored Sylvia. What a fantastic character she is, with a mix of completely awful and spitefulness and raw, painful vulnerability. Although utterly disposable and disagreeable at times, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her and like her too  This woman is layered and complex, an absolute credit to the author for creating her so wholly.

There’s plenty of toe-curling and funny moments, as Sylvia obsessess over Prof, but there’s a serious side too and this book tackles the issues of women in middle age such as dissatisfaction, divorce,  loneliness, identity issues, menopause, aging parents and many other subtle things. It’s an age group that’s under or poorly represented in fiction, and as someone who is heading there myself and doesn’t always want to read about twenty somethings, I really appreciated this.

Needlemouse has been recommended for those who’ve enjoyed books such as Eleanor Oliphant, and I think that’s fair. Sylvia is an oddball, but understanding her was both emotional and fascinating… at times hilarious! I hoped for a happier ending for her, but of course you’re going to have to read it yourself to find out if she gets it. I really loved this book and recommend it heartily!

(I read an advance proof courtesy of the publisher)

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#Blogtour #BookReview – The Dream House by Jess Ryder (@Bookouture)

It’s everything she’s ever wanted …

When I first set eyes on Westhill House with its breath-taking views of the sea I knew Jack and I could make this our forever home.

It may be falling apart with an overgrown garden, but with some tender loving care, we can repair this beautiful building and perhaps our relationship too …

But the more time I spend renovating our new house, the more time Jack is spending at work.

At least Lori is here to keep me company.

She has her own troubles yet she always listens to mine.

She’s helping to restore the house, uncovering its secrets one by one.

Like the children’s drawings under the wallpaper in the back bedroom.

The hidden papers underneath the floorboards in the turret room.

And the fact that Westhill House is a place women used to go to feel safe …

Lori seems to know a lot about Westhill House.

The question is, why?

A gripping, spine-chilling read brimming with secrets and lies. If you loved The Girl on the Train, The Wife Between Us or The Woman in the Window then this dark, twisting psychological thriller from Amazon chart bestseller Jess Ryder is guaranteed to have you gripped.   

Published June 21st 2019 by Bookouture

~ Review ~   

You’ve just moved into your dream home, with the man you hope to spend the rest of your life with, Jack. It’s run down and neglected but you have huge plans to transform into a beautiful forever home. It’s your first night – stormy and wild, and you’re celebrating the rosy looking future with a romantic night camped out in one of the less delapitated rooms, when there’s a knock at the door. A battered and bruised woman falls into your life seeking refuge. What would you do?

That’s the situation facing Stella, and the decision she takes to help Lori will change her life and set in motion a sequence of events that not only puts her in danger but forces her to confront a past she’s been hiding from. Stella is shocked by Lori’s disturbing story of domestic violence and escape, and see’s helping her as a way to put right the mistakes she made and haunt her with guilt. But is lori really what she seems? And what secrets are lurking in the ghosts of Stella’s dream house?

The Dream House is an absolute page turner – a read in one sitting without looking up kind of book. Right from the beginning, Jess Ryder sucks her reader in with a compelling writing style and secrets burning to be unfolded.

The story is set over two timelines, and I was intrigued to know how they would come together. What does connect the stories is the theme of domestic violence, a tough subject tackled with honesty and grit. This is a dark story of manipulation, control and the lasting affects of a violent home on a young person. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but I thought the author tackled it extremely well.

I love an old, creepy house with secrets buried in every nook and cranny and Westhill House certainly had those. The British seaside setting in the winter lends a fantastically eerie atmosphere and I could picture this huge old house vividly. Some of the plot seemed a little far fetched – I know I’d never have answered the door in the first place let alone allow a stranger to move into my home – but when I discovered Stella’s past and motivations it kind of made sense why she would do this. However, I was quite able to overlook this and was glued to this book for an entire afternoon. A fast paced, gripping read with a thought provoking theme, this is a perfect cosy afternoon read and I’ll definitely look out for more by the author in the future.

(I read an advance ecopy courtesy of the publisher and netgally)

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Looking Back at May and Forward to June 2019

How is it June already? This year is flying by quicker than ever. Tomorrow it’s my birthday and it’s come round so soon I don’t actually quite believe it. Unfortunatly this year it’s fell on my really busy work week – I’m working tonight and tomorrow night and will probably be sleeping all day tomorrow! but I do have a nice afternoon tea planned for Thursday with my Mam.

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May’s been a funny month for me – I’ve had personal and family difficulties to deal with but one positive is that I really think I’ve gotten back in my reading and blogging stride and have posted regularly. In June I’m going to work on being more active on interaction on twitter, instagram and blog commenting/sharing.  I read Nine books in May, my absolute favourites being My lovely Wife by Samantha Downing  and Those Who Are loved by Victoria Hislop 

I’ve also taken the plunge and joined the Twenty Books Of Summer challenge.  As well as upcoming releases and blog tours, I wanted to read more of my own books and so between 3rd June and 3rd September I’ll be challenging myself to read as many of these as I can – hopefully all twenty!

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Coming up in June I’m scheduled to participate in some great blog tours and have a few pre-orders I’m really looking forward to dropping through the letterbox. My most anticipated new releases this month are :

 I’m seriously hoping the weather cheers up here, it’s been grey and miserable for the last couple of weeks and I’m desperate for some summer – I’m hoping to get more reading in the sunshine time over the next month.

So that’s my look back at May and what’s coming up over the next few weeks. What are you most looking forward to in June?

#BookReview – Sleep by C.L Taylor (@AvonBooksUK @CallyTaylor)

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up… 

Published April 2019 by Avon (UK)  

~ Review ~ 

I’ve read every single book by C.L Taylor – going right back to her first published novel, Heaven Can Wait, which was a romantic comedy with a supernatural twist (and bloody brilliant) rather than a thriller. So I know when I settle down with her latest book I’m in for a good read. But Man, Sleep is without doubt her best yet! 

When Anna is involved in a car accident which kills two colleagues and leaves another severely disabled, she shoulders the blame. She was driving after all. Unable to work, unable to forgive herself, unable to sleep – her world is falling apart. Then there’s the notes being left for her – is someone also blaming Anna for the tragic accident? Desperate to escape, she takes a job in a hotel on the remote island of Rum. With only a handful of guests and the local wildlife she should be safe here. Right?

Oh. My. God. This is a seriously gripping book and I’m giving you fair warning – only start this if you have a few hours to spare. You will not be able to put it down. I didn’t even mean to start it – I was doing a bit of kindle tidying and looked at the first page. 4 hours later, and in desperate need for the toilet, I’d read the entire thing without looking up. And that’s what makes C.L Taylor such a fantastic author. She knows exactly how to grip her readers right from the beginning.

The setting is fantastic. A wild and remote island. A hotel hosting a cast of eccentric characters. A murderer on the loose. Reading this is like a game of Cluedo crossed with Agatha Christie and I absolutely loved it. The guests all seem to have their demons and reasons for choosing this remote location to holiday and one of them is clearly holding a grudge. But it’s impossible to guess which one. I had every single one of them as the villian at some point.

There’s so many twists and turns to navigate until the truth is revealed, and when it comes it was like a bolt out of the blue. I seriously could not have predicted it. Taylor is also blessed with art of lending some compassion to her characters – no matter how villainous and explores themes of mental ill health, delusion, paranoia, depression and suicide. If you’re a fan of thrillers, then this is a book not to be missed. Just make sure you have a few hours spare before you start.

(I read an advance ecopy courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley)

#TwentyBooksOfSummer – The List

First of all…apologies for the lateness of this post. Technical difficulties earlier and literally not a chance this evening to sit down until now.

But anyway, here it is – right at the last minute! My Twenty Books Of Summer post. This great challenge is hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books. I’m aiming to read the following twenty books between 3 June and 3 September – although you can change books from your original list. Really. It’s in the rules! Go and find out more at Cathy’s blog.

~ The List ~ 

I’ve picked a selection of older and newer books and from a variety of genre’s to keep things fun. Mostly these are books I’ve bought myself and was very excited to read but just never got around to. A couple are outstanding Amazon Vine books and are proof copies. All of them are ones that I really, really want to read and this summer I will. Or give it my very best shot at least.

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The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

The FlatShare by Beth O’leary 

Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly 

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase

Anatomy Of A Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey

The Last Letter From Your Lover by JoJo Moyes

The Familiars by Stacey Halls 

Together by Julie Cohen

The Conviction Of Cora Burns

Island Of secrets by Patricia Wilson

The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances 

The Return by Victoria Hislop

If You Could Go Anywhere by Paige Toon

Maybe This Time by Jill Mansell

One Summer In Paris by Sarah Morgan

I’m also doing some travelling through this selection, seeing as I’m not going on holiday this year – Paris, Spain, Rome, Crete, L.A and a little closer to home – The Cotswolds. I’ll be spanning FIVE centuries and have books to match whatever the unpredictable Cumbrian summer weather throws at me – from bright and breezy to dark and moody.

So what do you make of my choices? Which have you read and enjoyed from my list and what did you think? Are you planning on joining in with #Twentybooksofsummer this year?

20 books of summer