Six In Six – A Look Back At Some Of My Top Books Of 2017 So Far…

6 I saw this over at Cleopatra Loves Books, and thought it was a great idea to look back at books read so far in 2017. Hosted by Jo’s Book Journey, the idea is sharing 6 books, in 6 categories from the first half of the year. So here’s my choices:

6 Books I Have Enjoyed The Most 

 

 

6 Psychological Thrillers I Have Read & Enjoyed 

 

 

6 New To Me Authors 

 

 

6 Covers I’ve Loved

 

 

6 Books Which Took Me To The Past 

 

 

Six Books I Own & Can’t Believe I Haven’t Managed To Read Yet 

 

Book Review: Pretty Thing by Jennifer Nadel

A stunning coming-of-age debut full of love and danger, secrets and lies: this is a dark, tense, hard-hitting novel about two girls forced to grow up fast… 

When fifteen-year-old Becs meets Bracken, she is convinced she’s found her soul mate. So what if he’s much older? He understands her, she feels free with him and when he holds her she feels safe.


But is she?


Some young women in the local area have recently been sexually assaulted. It’s the talk of the school. And when Bec’s best friend Mary-Jane becomes the latest victim, the true dangers hit home: just as Becs is starting to wonder about her future with Bracken – poor M-J rapidly shrinks away from life. . . 


Set during the sweltering hot summer of 1976, Pretty Thing is a powerful coming-of-age novel, a story of first encounters, dark obsession, broken trust and last chances – perfect for readers of Meg Rosoff, Lauren Oliver and Annabel Pitcher. I pits true love against real life and ask: is love all you really need? (From Goodreads.com)


Published by Corsair (UK) February 2015

Pretty Thing by Jennifer Nadel was one of those books I picked up and became immediately involved in, right from the very first page. Set in 1976, Nadel effortlessly captures the atmosphere of the time and despite being born the year after the book is set, I had the odd memory of the late 70’s/early 80’s vividly evoked. I thought the language and tone of the character’s conversation was particularly convincing, helped along with a pretty cool soundtrack of seventies classics.

I also found main character, 15 year old Becs, convincing. She comes across as both naive and mature in comparison to modern teens. I’m not going to lie, I found the affair between Becs and Bracken sinister and unsettling. Nadel certainly takes a no holes barred approach, delivered with brutal honesty. I admired how in such a short book, she created multiple, complex relationships for Becs and allowed her to grow and develope throughout the book. Over one summer and 250 pages we witness her metamorphosis into a stronger, independent young woman in charge of her own destiny.

I think readers will find some of the attitudes and actions uncomfortable in 2015. It reminds me how the world has changed in the last forty years, particularly for young females and also helps with the sometimes rose-tinted spectacles I occassionally look back with. While it’s marketed at Young Adults, I actually think this may appeal to an adult audience just as much, if not more. I’m not sure I liked the very ambiguous ending, leaving Becs future a mystery to the reader. I know how I hope it went, but I think I’d have liked the author to tie things up a little more.

 Overall, I was surprised by this book, I read it in a couple of sittings and it left me with quite a bit to think about.

My copy was provided by the publisher for review purposes



Waiting On Wednesday: We Are All Made Of Stars by Rowan Coleman

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine   
We Are All Made Of Stars by Rowan Coleman


Do not miss me, because I will always be with you…I am the air, the moon, the stars. For we are all made of stars, my beloved… Wherever you look, I will be there.


Stella Carey exists in a world of night. Married to a soldier who has returned from Afghanistan injured in body and mind, she leaves the house every evening as Vincent locks himself away, along with the secrets he brought home from the war.

During her nursing shifts, Stella writes letters for her patients to their loved ones – some full of humour, love and practical advice, others steeped in regret or pain – and promises to post these messages after their deaths.

Until one night Stella writes the letter that could give her patient one last chance at redemption, if she delivers it in time… 

We Are all Made of Stars is an uplifting and heartfelt novel about life, loss and what happens in between from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Memory Book.  

Published May 2015 by Ebury Press, UK 

I loved The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman. It was all at once beautiful, touching, heartbreaking and inspiring. I’m really looking forward to this one. 

Book Review:Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer

Mara is a successful lawyer, and devoted wife and mother. Struggling with a devastating illness, she has set herself five days to make the ultimate decision for her family. Scott lives a thousand miles away, and is a foster parent to a troubled eight-year-old. Scott is facing his own five day countdown until his beloved foster son is returned to his biological mother. The two connect through an online forum, and find a friendship to help guide them through the most difficult, and momentous, week of their lives. (from Amazon.co.uk)

Published August 2014 by Century

I usually love a book told from two view points. I find alternating narratives over chapters really pushes the book on. So I was expecting that to happen with this book, especially after being drawn into Mara’s story so much at the beginning. Unfortunately though it didn’t really work for me this time, and I felt Scott’s story added nothing to the book whatsoever. In fact it could’ve been cut completely.

If I was rating this book on Mara’s sections alone it would be verging on 5 stars. I loved how the author took a difficult and upsetting subject and portrayed Mara as strong and very, very real. She doesn’t sugar coat and play on emotions…it’s told how it is, often brutally so. Huntington’s is a relentlessly cruel disease and for me Mara’s reactions to her illness; her fear, resentment and anger, where convincing and heart breaking.

Scott’s story in itself isn’t all that terrible, and I could also sympathise with his situation. The problem that I had was that the link between these two characters is tenuous at best. The idea is that they are both facing a five day countdown and connect over an internet forum. The truth is, this seems to have been forgotten about in the book and communication between the two involves a couple of PM’s, which are pretty vague and don’t add anything to the story at all. This could’ve worked. Instead we’re left with two underdeveloped stories, Scott’s in particular as the book is heavily weighted in Mara’s favour. I think the author made a mistake sharing Mara’s story with Scott’s. I’d have much rather have seen it split with Harry, a taxi driver Mara makes a connection with. Now he was interesting. The trouble was taken to even give him a back story, and I see this as a wasted opportunity.


I feel I’m being particularly negative, yet I do think for the most part (as I’d say Mara’s story does cover at least two thirds) this was a really good, well written and touching book. I just wish the author had fully committed to Mara and left Scott for her next book. It really let the book down in my opinion. Regardless, I would look out for other work by this author in the future.

My copy was a free advance reader through the Amazon Vine Program

Book Review: The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

One hot summer. One week in a villa on the outskirts of Deia, a village nestling in the rugged, mountainous west coast of the island of Mallorca. One family for whom the carefully laid jigsaw of life is about to be broken.

Jenn and her husband Greg holiday each year in Deia, enjoying languorous afternoons by the pool. But this year the equilibrium is upset by the arrival of Emma, Jenn’s stepdaughter, and her boyfriend Nathan. Beautiful and reckless, Nathan stirs something unexpected in Jenn. As she is increasingly seduced by the notion of Nathan’s youth and the promise of passion, the line between desire and obsession begins to blur. What follows is a highly-charged liaison that put lives and relationships in jeopardy, and a taut narrative which percolates with enough sexual tension to make it impossible to put down. (from Goodreads.com)

The Lemon Grove came onto my radar right at a time when I was craving a holiday, during the coldest, greyest, most miserablest of Cumbrian weather. All of a sudden this book was everywhere, from my Amazon recommendations to completely overtaking my twitter feed. I couldn’t wait to get hold of a copy. 

And The Lemon Grove delivers exactly what it promises. Steamy, sexy, sultry- it’s all those things. Set in the beautiful surroundings of Deia on the island of Majorca, this book is so deeply evocative I could almost feel the heat of the Mediterranean sun and see the glint of its rays shimmering off water. Yet Helen Walsh is spare with her words, not a single one is wasted or given over to flowery description. The sharp, blunt style grabbed my attention and kept me hooked to the very end. 

But the heat doesn’t just come from the sun in this book. It’s super charged with sexual tension and attraction, amplified by the atmospheric setting. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure how I was going to react to Jenn’s relationship with her step-daughter’s seventeen year old boyfriend, but this isn’t a romance at all. It’s an intense,  raw frustration filled passion from a woman who feels taken advantage of, frumpy and past her best. Through her relationship with Nathan, Helen Walsh delivers a story of complex family dynamics, betrayals and jealousies. While I did find some of the sex scenes a bit cringy and awkward to read, it’s very brutally honest and doesn’t attempt to convince you that this is a love story. 

The Lemon Grove won’t be everyone’s taste. If you’re very easily offended you may find the sex scenes a bit graphic. While it’s intense and passionate, it definitely isn’t romantic. Personally I thought it was very good. Full of atmosphere, complex characters and evocative settings. I read it in a day and was hooked from beginning to the very clever end. 

4/5


Published by Tinder Press UK (February 2014) 





Book Review: The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson

When teenagers Poppy and Serena become embroiled in a situation that ends in the death of their teacher, they are the only witnesses. Poppy is convicted of the murder and sent to prison, while Serena moves on with her life and has a family of her own.

But twenty years later, Serena still hasn’t told her husband or family about her murky past. With Poppy due for release from prison and determined to clear her name, it looks like the past is finally about to catch up with her. But just what did happen all those years ago that resulted in the death of a man and the pair being dubbed the infamous ‘Ice Cream girls’?

I was really excited about this book. There was quite a buzz around the net about it and glowing reviews were popping up one after the other. So when my copy arrived I was keen to get started right away.

Perhaps because I had a lot going on when I started or perhaps because I was overly anticipating the book, I didn’t get into it straight away. It wasn’t that it was bad, far from it. I just wasn’t immediately hooked to the point I couldn’t put it down as I’d been hoping and read the first few chapters at a leisurely pace over a couple of nights. However as the story develops it drags you in slowly and subtly, so that by the time I was a third in I was engrossed and raced through the rest of the book.

The book begins with Serena, Doctors wife and mother of two, who at first appearances has a perfect life. However it quickly becomes apparent that she is harbouring a secret. The story then switches to Poppy, who is just being released from prison after 20 years and determined to prove her innocence. The link between the two is pointed out with Newspaper clippings from the time of the murder and sets the scene for an intriguing read, where you just have to discover what happens. I really enjoyed the first person narrative, which switches between Poppy and Serena throughout the book, as this gives a great insight into both the characters. I didn’t warm immediately to Serena, and perhaps that’s why I was slow getting into the book as she dominates to begin with, but the development of her character is fantastic. As layers of her past are stripped down and revealed, I began to understand her. Poppy appealed to me immediately as a character and I enjoyed her sections from the beginning.

What I particularly liked about the book was the way the reader is drip-fed the story of the girls past. Told by both characters in flashbacks, I loved how these little memories from each built into a whole story which becomes increasingly menacing as it goes along. In contrast to the pretty pastel cover, this is actually a very dark story with some disturbing themes at its core. However, Dorothy Koomson skilfully allows the girls situation to dawn on the reader without using a lot of graphic description. It comes more as a realisation, and I really appreciated this. I also found Poppy’s experiences in prison fascinating to read. They are written with great sympathy and understanding of how it is to loose your freedom. It’s often too easy to presume that prisoners ‘have it too easy’ but Koomson sheds a new insight onto the emotional damage caused by being incarcerated, particularly when a person may not deserve it.

By the time I was in the second half of this book, I really couldn’t put it down. I also couldn’t stop thinking about it when I wasn’t reading. Throughout the entire book I didn’t know how it was going to end, or who had committed the murder. It isn’t revealed until the final couple of pages and at that point I had an ah-ha moment, it wasn’t at all as I expected although thinking back the hints were there. This is an absolute credit to Koomson that she can plant the seeds to the reader without giving the conclusion away until right at the end.

I’d absolutely recommend The Ice Cream Girls. It’s suspenseful, intriguing, emotional and above all a fascinating story. Perhaps the biggest accolade to this book is that even after finishing it, I am still thinking about the characters and care enough for them to hope their future is happy. A 5 star read.

Author Interview: Louise Douglas plus WIN a signed copy of Missing You!!

I’ve become a big fan of Louise Douglas after loving both her debut novel, The Love Of My Life, and second novel, Missing you (released earlier this month). So when Louise agreed to be my first author interview, I was more than a little bit excited! So without any further ado, let me introduce her!


Louise Douglas is a writer, based in the West Country just outside Bristol.

The paperback version of her first novel, The Love of My Life, was published by Pan Macmillan in January 2009. A love story with a dark twist, it was long-listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award and the Waverton Good Read award and has been widely translated.

Her second fiction book, Missing You, has just been published. (taken from Louise’s website www.louisedouglas.co.uk)


Missing You has been shortlisted for the People’s Choice Award in the 2010 Romantic Novelists’ Association Pure Passion Award. The winner will be chosen by public vote and announced on the 16th March. If you’ve read Missing You and would like to vote, you can do so here

And now on with the interview!


Can you tell us more about your book, Missing You, and where the inspiration came from to write it?


I wanted to write a love story from the point of view of a man who had been badly hurt because mostly, in books, it is the man who lets the woman down, not the other way round. Also, at weekends I’d see young fathers playing with their children in the park but they don’t appear much in literature either, so I’d had Sean and Amy in my mind for probably a couple of years. Fen’s story actually came to me while I was cooking bacon sandwiches at a stall at Glastonbury Festival 2008! I spent most of the festival in my own dream-world thinking about her and after that it wasn’t too difficult to merge the two stories together.

One thing that really stands out to me in both of your books is how believable and real your characters are. Do you base them on people you know or yourself? Who is your favourite character?

Thank you! I don’t consciously base the characters on people I know, but I do try to make them behave like real people. Sometimes that doesn’t work in the context of the story, and then I know the story is wrong. It’s hard to choose a favourite, but I am very fond of Sean, and also Amy.

I loved the character of Sean in Missing You. If the book was ever to hit the TV or big screen, which actor would you like to see portraying him?

That’s a brilliant question! I think it would have to be James McAvoy if he was available…

I read on your website that as well as being a mum to three sons, you also still have your day job. How do you find time to write? What’s a typical day like for you?

I don’t work full time anymore, only three days a week. Even so, I usually write in the evenings, often late into the night when I can be on my own. I really enjoy the day job as it means I get out of the house and talk to different people because writing can be a bit lonely. I’m so lucky to be able to do both really. Every day features at least one dog walk, quite a lot of cooking, time with friends if possible, some work, some reading, some writing and being with the family. My guilty secret is watching Come Dine With Me, sad to say I am completely addicted.

How did you get published and what’s the best thing about being a writer with a published book? Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?

When the first book, the Love of my Life was finished, I sent off three chapters and a synopsis to agents, picking the most likely ‘matches’ for me from The Writers and Artists Yearbook. I was very, very lucky that my wonderful agent Marianne Gunn O’Connor got back to me and asked to see the whole book and soon after agreed to represent me. She secured the publishing deal with Pan Macmillan. I know it’s a cliche, but it was something I’d wanted all my life, and the single happiest moment of my entire career. The best thing is meeting some wonderful people, and learning all the time, from reviews like yours and from taking advice and help from people much more talented and clever than I am.

I’d advise aspiring writers to make their first book as good as they possibly can before sending it off to agents, and to make sure they follow the submission guidelines to the letter. It’s a very competitive world out there and you need to give yourself the best possible chance. And there are some great alternative routes to publication, Pan Macmillan has a new writers’ scheme and the Romantic Novelists’ Association also helps new writers.

Which authors and books do you enjoy reading?

It’s difficult to answer that because I read everything and anything although I’m not keen on horror or anything that features a lot of violence. My favourite book ever is To Kill a Mockingbird. Last year I particularly enjoyed Jenny Downham’s wonderful Before I Die, Milly Johnson’s A Spring Affair and The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I recently reread Wuthering Heights, My Cousin Rachel, The Midwich Cuckoos and three Donna Leon and they’re all as good as I remembered.

Finally, can you tell us what you’re working on next?

I’ve just finished the final draft of my third book and it’s with Marianne so I’m waiting to hear whether she thinks it’s any good or not. It’s very nerve-wracking as I don’t know if she’ll come back with the thumbs-up or if it’ll be back to the drawing board for me. I’m sorry but daren’t tell you what it’s about yet in case I have to start again from scratch.

Thank you Louise for agreeing to be interviewed and the very best of luck in the Pure Passion Awards!!


Now Your Chance To Win!!!
Would you like a chance to win a copy of Missing You by Louise Douglas? I have not one, but TWO signed copies to giveaway, kindly given to me by Louise herself.

Fen works in a bookshop and is devoted to her young son, Connor, but she keeps herself to herself. Haunted by guilt and a terrible secret, Fen lives a compromised life, isolated from her family, far from home and too afraid of the past to risk becoming close to anyone. She is constantly looking over her shoulder, knowing that one day the truth will catch up with her.

Sean, on the other hand, is enjoying a seemingly perfect life. He has a successful career, lives in his dream home and adores his beautiful wife, Belle, and their six-year-old daughter, Amy. That is until the day Belle announces she has found someone else and wants Sean to move out.

Circumstance throws Fen and Sean together. Slowly their quiet friendship turns into something much deeper and the joy they find in one another eventually gives them the confidence to trust and love again. But will the past tear them apart just as they find happiness?

You can read my review of Missing You here

All you need to do to enter is leave a comment at the end of this post before midnight (Uk) Thursday 25th February. You don’t need to be a follower and this giveaway is open internationally.


The two winners will be chosen at random and announced on Friday 26th February both here and on my twitter page (and by email if you leave one) You will have 48 hrs to contact me with postal details and after that the prize will be offered to someone else.

Want extra entries?

+1 follow my blog
+1 follow me on twitter
+2 Tweet about this give away (provide link)

That’s a possible 5 entries! Good luck!

Book Review: The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell

As After The Party by Lisa Jewell was my Waiting On Wednesday book choice this week, and a few people commented that they had never read anything by her before, I thought I would post a review I wrote last year for her most recent book, The Truth About Melody Browne (which also happens to be one of my favourites too)


When she was nine years old, Melody Browne’s house burned down, taking every toy, every photograph, every item of clothing and old Christmas card with it. But not only did the fire destroy all her possessions, it took with it all her memories – Melody Browne can remember nothing before her ninth birthday. Now in her early thirties, Melody lives in a council flat in the middle of London with her seventeen-year-old son. She hasn’t seen her parents since she left home at fifteen, but Melody doesn’t mind, she’s better off on her own. She’s made a good life for herself and her son and she likes it that way. Until one night something extraordinary happens. Whilst attending a hypnotist show with her first date in years she faints – and when she comes round she starts to remember. At first her memories mean nothing to her but then slowly, day by day, she begins to piece together the real story of her childhood. Her journey takes her to the seaside town of Broadstairs, to oddly familiar houses in London backstreets and to meetings with strangers who love her like their own. But with every mystery she solves another one materialises, with every question she answers another appears. And Melody begins to wonder if she’ll ever know the truth about her past.

I’m a big fan of Lisa Jewell and as a rule, always enjoy her books. What I really like about her books is that while being predominantly chick-lit, they have a uniqueness about them and aren’t afraid to tackle the grimmer aspects of life. From the moment I opened this book I was absolutely hooked. I was already interested by the premise when I first heard about the book, however I wasn’t prepared for the fantastic story I found within it’s pages.

Melody was instantly easy to like and relate to. I find that Lisa Jewell’s female lead characters are real and solid and this was certainly the case with Melody who came across as familiar and as approachable as anyone I have met. In the first few pages we are introduced to a 9 year old Melody, awakening from unconsciousness after a house fire with no memory of her former years at all, and a thirty three year old Melody who has had a child very young, worked hard to live a stable and steady life, but who has concerns about her own identity now her son is almost grown up. I was both intrigued by the mystery of the house fire and Melody’s memory loss and connected with adult Melody immediately.

As Melody starts to have flashbacks and regain her memory, a very complex and touching story unfurls. I wasn’t expecting anything quite so serious and was constantly surprised with the way the book would go. In this book Lisa Jewell tackles some very serious subjects, such as child loss, depression and the effects of a marriage break-up on children. I thought that this was done in a particularly human and realistic way and was at times very sad and touching, while also managing to be warm, humorous and loving.

I think Lisa Jewell has achieved in this book the perfect balance of serious subjects and an entertaining and beautifully real, optimistic story. She has created characters that are easy to care about, an intriguing storyline full of twists and turns, and an ending that will leave you smiling…perfect! I absolutely loved this book, and devoured the 326 pages in less than 24 hours. I already really liked Lisa Jewell as an author, however I think this book has just propelled her to one of my favourites. If you have enjoyed Lisa Jewell books in the past, then I recommend this highly, it’s her best yet. If you’ve never read any of her books before, then you definitely should give them a go!


My Rating: 5/5

Review: The Perfect Mother by Margaret Leroy

‘I’ve striven to be the perfect mother, wanting to create a perfect childhood for my child. Yet something has gone wrong…’ Catriona has the life she’s always dreamed of: a loving husband, a delightful step-daughter and her own precious little girl, Daisy. When Daisy begins to feel poorly, Catriona seeks help and in doing so, is forced to look to the past and her own traumatic and abusive childhood. When Cat is accused of harming eight-year-old Daisy through Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, Cat begins to realise that the life she has now is more fragile than she could ever have imagined. (Amazon description)


I read Margaret Leroy’s The Drowning Girl last year, and really loved it, and so have been watching out for her latest book, The Perfect Mother, released this month. I found this another fantastic and compelling read.

As a Mother, Cat was very easy to relate to. She is anxious and worried about Daisy, but no-one is taking her concerns seriously. I felt indignant and angry for her and it got me thinking about the power authority has over us, and how by misinterpreting or twisting our words, we could all find ourselves in an unjust and vulnerable position.

I was a little concerned at the speed with which Cat became a suspect, I find it hard to imagine this would be the case in real life. However, this did add a different dimension to the book, where I became suspicious of Cat myself. As the book is told in the first person, I started to feel the vagueness and unfairness was deliberate, as we were seeing things as Cat see’s them, not as a logical person. This meant that I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, up until the end.

As well as the story regarding her daughter Daisy, there is a sub-plot involving Cat’s own mother and her relationship with her. This was an interesting and mysterious thread, which tied in nicely with the rest of the story by the end.

I started this book on a 2 hour train journey, and I don’t think I looked up once as I became so engrossed. Margaret Leroy’s writing is so completely compelling, I just want to keep turning the pages. Previously a social worker, it’s clear Margaret knows and understands people, and it’s this that make her stories so vividly realistic. I finished The Perfect Mother in one day, and would recommend it to anyone who likes general Women’s fiction with an air of mystery and pages that turn themselves. While I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as The Drowning Girl, I certainly found it a great read. Fast becoming one of my favourite author’s of this kind of fiction right now, I’ll be eagerly awaiting her new book.

NB: This book is also titled Postcards From Berlin in other countries


My Rating:4/5


Review: Missing You by Louise Douglas

Sean thought he had a perfect life. He is successful and lives in a beautiful house with his wife Belle and young daughter Amy. That is until Belle reveals she has met someone else and wants Sean to leave.

Fen is a single mother to Connor and leads a quiet and isolated life, caring for her son and working in a bookstore. Estranged from her family, Fen is guarding a terrible secret.

When fate throws them together, a gentle and beautiful relationship develops. However with the past always lingering around the edges, will they ever be able to find peace and happiness?

I read and adored Louise Douglas’ debut novel, The Love Of My Life and so when I saw she had a new book coming out this month, it went straight to the top of my wish list. I wasn’t disappointed, as again Douglas delivers a story that will take you on an emotional roller coaster and keep you completely absorbed.

Sean, whose break-up begins the book, immediately captured me. He arrives home to find his wife has packed up his belongings and has decided to end the relationship. The shock and despair he felt was described so perfectly I could feel it myself and straight away he gained my sympathy.

Fen is even more complex. She is quiet, gentle and very intense. At first I wasn’t sure I really got her, as there’s something almost ethereal about her, but as her life and feelings are explored she also really grew on me. What I love about the characters in Louise Douglas’ books is how absolutely real they are. She never tries to dress them up, and writes them with all the complexities and flaws humans have, so they become completely believable and easy to relate too.

The development of the relationship between Fen and Sean is stunning, but what I really loved reading was the relationship between Sean and his daughter Amy. She is only six when her parents separate and struggles to understand it. Sean also struggles to adapt to the new relationship with his daughter, fighting against the resentment and anger he feels for his wife and his determination to protect his child. I’ve read countless books on relationship break ups from a woman’s perspective, but can’t think of many that are from a man’s. I think Louise Douglas handled this beautifully and sensitively; the feelings and emotions Sean goes through are so vivid. I admit to feeling that I wanted to protect him myself, maybe even falling a little bit in love with him.

Throughout the book, Fen’s secret is a shadow, and I had no idea where this was going. It is hinted at from quite early on, but it’s not until the final quarter of the book that it begins to be revealed. By the time it was I was completely engrossed, and there is a scene where Fen confronts the past that had me holding my breath, being unexpected and incredibly sad. If I have one tiny criticism of the book it would be that after Fen’s guilt is exposed, the other characters seem a little blasé about it, as if it really didn’t matter that much. This didn’t really strike me as a true reaction. I didn’t mind too much and I don’t think it spoils the book, but it is in contrast to the realism of the rest of the book

Missing You is written in the third person, and so we are given the story from both Fen and Sean and this works really well. I was willing them together and groaning when things conspired against them, such as a missed opportunity to say something or a misinterpreted action. Louise Douglas describes emotions so beautifully it is impossible not to become entranced with the characters. Both her first novel and this one feature the loss of a loved one and I wonder how much she draws from personal experience, as it is so convincing. I think what makes Missing You so absorbing is the way Sean and Fen are so easy to relate too and recognise, that as a reader I had to know what happens to them.

This isn’t a fluffy read. While it’s not heavy going and is easy to read, it’s more serious than light chick-lit. That’s not to say it doesn’t have some lighter moments. A chapter that saw Sean getting as drunk as he could after a particularly messy meeting with his ex wife made me laugh. It’s a disgustingly accurate portrayal of drunkenness that is both cringe worthy and funny. The book is very emotion driven and I felt all the ups and downs along with the characters. Louise Douglas writes relationships so very well and isn’t afraid to show their bitter, jealous and manipulative sides while still showing the characters to be good people. Another hit for me from this author and I’ll be watching out eagerly for a third book.

My Rating: 5/5