A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon

A Hundred Pieces of Me

“Letters from the only man she’s ever loved.

A keepsake of the father she never knew.

Or just a beautiful glass vase that catches the light, even on a grey day.

If you had the chance to make a fresh start, what would you keep from your old life? What would you give away?

Gina Bellamy is starting again, after a difficult few years she’d rather forget. But the belongings she’s treasured for so long just don’t seem to fit who she is now.

So Gina makes a resolution. She’ll keep just a hundred special items – the rest can go.

But that means coming to terms with her past and learning to embrace the future, whatever it might bring . ..”

MY REVIEW:

This is my first experience of Lucy Dillon and I was therefore delighted to have been accepted for a copy via Netgalley!  Thank you!

A Hundred Pieces of Me gets * * * stars from me.

 

The premise of the book intrigued me and immediately had me thinking about my own possessions and what’s important.

The story tells of Gina, finding herself starting over as a single woman in a new, small & empty white flat – a stark comparison to the beautiful home she shared with her cheating husband. Sadly, her belongings from the house are just too great to squeeze into her flat, so Gina decides to only take 100 items into her new life.

The tale unfolds and captures it’s reader with flashbacks from Gina’s past and how it is shaping her future. Lucy Dillon’s descriptive prose is such that I felt the hurt within the walls of the empty flat that was just waiting to be made a home. We find out that Gina has had a lot to cope with of late and it was wonderful to read on and find her strength and ability to move forward with such focus and positivity.

I loved the addition of Buzz the dog – a fuzzy friend will always warm the soul and fill a room with love!  A well written, lovely read where we learn that if we let go of the past, we can live without regret in the present.

Overall, the concept was fantastic and did make me think about my own luxuries in life and their actual importance. It just sadly wasn’t quite the page turner I’d been anticipating.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lucy Dillon was born in Cumbria, worked for a while in publishing in London, and now lives in Herefordshire with her two basset hounds, near the Welsh border. She has written five novels for Hodder & Stoughton, all set in the fictional Midlands town of Longhampton, which looks a bit like Hereford, although the inhabitants tend to sound rather more Northern than that.

Lucy Dillon grew up in Cumbria, and while at school, wrote a play about Mary, Queen of Scots, which apparently only had two major historical inaccuracies, and edited the school magazine, all of which set her up for her first job after university, in publishing. Working for a fiction editor taught her some invaluable lessons about how books are written, then re-written, and then re-re-written, as well as how satisfying is it to watch a pile of pages magically turn into a novel you can hold in a bookshop and read in the bath.

A HUNDRED PIECES OF ME is Lucy’s fifth novel. None of the characters are based on her family, although the dogs might recognise themselves a bit.

Lucy won the Romantic Novelists’ Association Novel of the Year Award in 2010 for Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts.

You can follow her on Twitter @lucy_dillon or find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/LucyDillonBooks.

You can buy A Hundred Pieces of Me  here

The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

The Lemon Grove

“Set on the rugged, mountainous west coast of Mallorca, this taut, sultry, brilliantly paced novel is an urgent meditation on female desire, the vicissitudes of marriage and the allure of youth. 
 
Taking place over the course of one week, The Lemon Grove lands in the heat of Deia, a village on an island off the southeast coast of Spain. Jenn and Greg are on their annual holiday to enjoy languorous, close afternoons by the pool, and relaxed dinners overlooking the rocks. But the equilibrium is upset by the arrival of their teenage daughter, Emma, and her boyfriend, Nathan. Jenn, in her early forties, loves her (older) husband and her (step)daughter and is content with her life, she thinks. But when this beautiful, reckless young man comes into her world, she is caught by a sexual compulsion that she’s seldom felt before. As the lines hotly blur between attraction, desire and obsession, Jenn’s world is thrown into tumult–by Nathan’s side, she could be young and carefree once again, and at this stage in her life, the promise of youth is every bit as seductive as the promise of passion. Jenn struggles between the conflicting pulls of resistance and release, and the events of the next few days have the potential to put lives in jeopardy as the players carry out their roles in this unstoppably sexy and unputdownable novel from a brilliant observer of the human condition.”

My Review:

Thank you very much to Georgina at Headline Publishing Group for sending me a paperback of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Only * * stars from me for The Lemon Grove, unfortunately. All opinions differ and I’m sure for many this was a “sultry, sexy & intense” read but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

I was so disappointed that I couldn’t connect with this book, I’d got wrapped up in the hype and had read so many great reviews, it was a shocking realisation that I was left feeling mainly uncomfortable reading this.

The Lemon Grove is well written and I have not been put off from trying another Helen Walsh novel. But personally, as a mother to an 18 year old girl, I felt utterly disgusted with Jenn and her actions were completely revolting to me. I think if Jenn’s object of obsession was maybe a few years older, I could have coped better. As it was, that she would even contemplate any wrong doings with a mere 17 year old? Ewwww. Not pleasant reading for me, certainly not sexy. It leaves one wondering, if it were a man in his forties lusting after a 17 year old girl, would we find that sexy, sultry reading? Mmmm.

But hey, that’s my opinion! Many have loved this read! So try it for yourself, right HERE

 

Visit Helen’s website and other books here:   www.helen-walsh.co.uk

The Guestbook by Holly Martin

The Guestbook

Welcome to Willow Cottage – throw open the shutters, let in the sea breeze and make yourself completely at home. Oh, and please do leave a comment in the Guestbook!

As landlady of Willow Cottage, the young widow Annie Butterworth is always on hand with tea, sympathy or strong Norfolk cider – whatever her colourful array of guests require. A flick through the messages in the leather-bound cottage guestbook gives a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of everyone who passes through her doors.

This includes Annie herself – especially now celebrity crime writer Oliver Black, is back in town. He might grace the covers of gossip magazines with a different glamorous supermodel draped on his arm every week, but to Annie, he’s always just been Olly, the man who Annie shared her first kiss with.

Through the pages of the Guestbook Annie and Olly, along with all the guests that arrive at the seaside retreat, struggle with love, loss, mystery, joy, happiness, guilt…and the odd spot of naked rambling! 

Forget sending postcards saying ‘wish you were here’ – one visit to Willow Cottage and you’ll wish you could stay forever.

 

 MY REVIEW:

I give * * * stars to The Guestbook. Sorry to everyone who loved it! But we all – thankfully – have different opinions and the freedom to voice them.

I soooo loved the idea of The Guestbook and having been enthralled by Holly Martin’s The Sentinel I was keen to try this different style of writing. I seem to be in the minority in giving only 3 stars to this book, but I will always give an honest review – no matter how difficult my choice may be!

I love how Holly writes and so easily draws her readers in, she has such a fantastic way with her words. The Guestbook just didn’t work for me in the way I’d expected because I felt that visitors staying briefly in a guest house would never get quite so personal within the pages of a visitors  book.

The idea of the book being entirely written in the form of guestbook entries is genius and Holly’s writing is refreshing and funny and she certainly knows how to capture the reader. I just could not connect with the characters or embrace the idea that strangers would be so forthcoming. If I could have believed that couples would write such personal notes and have conversations via the guestbook, if I could have accepted that arguments would occur in its pages whilst visiting what Holly captured as an idyllic, serene cottage – I’d have been hooked. Unfortunately for me, I just couldn’t come to terms with the idea.

I will of course still read and look forward to Holly’s future musings as she is a very, very talented writer.

Try it for yourself – The Guestbook is currently available on Amazon for just 59p…!!  Get it HERE so you can form your own opinion!

 

Bloggers Get To Know Me Tag!

I’ve been tagged! Sam from Sam’s Book Corner – www.mrsbbooks2011.blogspot.co.uk  kindly tagged me and I loved reading her post as there were some interesting questions & answers! So, go get a cuppa, sit back, relax… and get nosey and find out some more about me!

Tell us 5 random facts about you…

  1.  I have a chronic pain condition called fibromyalgia which in short means I have pain, all over my body, all day, every day. As many have never heard of this condition – it’s an arthritic type pain, a total constant exhaustion and feeling of having flu – every day!
  2. I am a vegetarian and have been for over 20 years. Why? Simple. I adore animals and just can’t eat them…
  3. I gave up smoking a year ago, after a 23 year habit. Best thing I have done in a long time and am very proud of myself for actually doing it!
  4. I got married 11 years ago…  on the beach, in Sri Lanka. Was wonderful.  Just the two of us went and we then had a massive reception/party a week after we got back for family & friends. Perfect.
  5. Random fact number 5 – I asked my husband to help me for one fact, his response was that I think of everyone else before myself – followed by his daily tease to me that I am Monica from Friends because I am so OCD about so many things!

When is your birthday?

I’m a nearly Christmas baby as my birthday is the 21st December!  I hate it though, as my birthday just disappears into the Christmas chaos! I’m not a fan of Christmas either so that probably doesn’t help!

When I turned 16 (too many years ago!) I had a birthday party in August so I could be ‘like everyone else’ and not have so many make excuses that they’re busy ‘cause of christmas, y’know?’

Plus… why should I receive joint presents?!

What is your favourite colour?

I always go for the purple rather than the usual girly pink… and lately, am loving the teal/light blue colour for homewares!

What is your favourite memory?

Oooh, tough one.. but, I think the one that really resonates in my heart as a wonderful moment was in the Dominican Republic in 2007 when I swam with dolphins! It was truly magical to me and if you were to see the video, I am deliriously happy, with a ridiculously wide grin from the moment we get in the water to the moment we get our goodbye kiss from our dolphins! Truly amazing.

Describe a day in your life..

Due to my pain limitations, I have to take each day as a new task and deal with one day at a time. It’s very difficult for me to make plans as my pain levels change massively from day to day. So I usually make my plans upon getting up each day, depending how mobile I may be that day. I am unable to work, so just completing the usual family chores is my work for the day – washing, cleaning, shopping etc.

What are your 5 favourite songs?

This is an almost impossible task. There are far too many to choose from!  I’ll tell you a few that evoke happy memories from my life..

Al Green – Let’s Stay Together – this was our first dance song at our wedding party.

Any of The Carpenters – my friends and & I played constantly in our flat on Sunday mornings when we were hungover!

Lynden David Hall – Medicine for my pain (album) best concert I ever went to and he sadly died the following year so I always remember fondly.

Jahiem & Syleena Johnson – More Than To Me – just because I adore this melody, the words and the amazing voices.

If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Uuuum… tough question! I adore cheese, but to only eat that – a bit sickly after a few weeks!  So, one thing – fruit? That’s one type of food.. wouldn’t get too bored then!

What is something you really dislike?

I get extremely annoyed with bad manners and selfish, thoughtless actions.

Summer or Winter?

Summer all the way! Need the sunshine and warmth to ease my aching body…

Besides that, I think people are generally happier in the summertime and out and about more – it’s just a more friendly time of year!

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why?

I love England and it would be truly perfect if we had a more pleasant, warmer climate. As I lived in Italy for a few years, I know just how homesick I get and how much I miss and need my English home comforts!

Name five of your favourite films.

Grease – just because I grew up with it and watched it endlessly!

The Shawshank Redemption

Men of Honour

Pursuit of Happyness

Haatchi

If you won the lottery, what would you buy?

The first thing I’d do is go on holiday to decide what to do with the money! I would invest in a few properties and a few cars and enjoy a few holidays!!  Basically, I’d enjoy life without the constant financial worry that normal life brings..

Favourite day of the week?

Sunday – a day to chill day with the hubster!

What 3 things would you take to a desert island?

A box of matches. A box of bottled water. A box of books.

…is that cheating?! lol

Sweet or Savoury?

Savoury all the way. Starter over pudding. Believe it or not, I don’t like chocolate very much!

Early Bird or Night Owl?

Night owl as takes most of the day for my body & mind to wake up!

Name 5 of your favourite books.

Gosh. Another impossible task!

Ones that stick in my mind from when my love for reading first surfaced –

 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

Emma by Jane Austen

 More recently –

The Harry Potter books. Too many I know, but they have to be mentioned in my favourite books!

 Favourite drink?

Simple. Tea. Second place, I drink a lot of water.

Favourite animal?

My 12 year old dog, Kira. She’s my best friend and by my side constantly. Besides her, I am just a complete animal lover. I love to help my local shelter – South East Dog Rescue – by visiting with food and walking the dogs, when my legs are up to it.

Who do you tag next?

I apologise now if you’ve already been tagged, ignore me if you have! But I’ll try the following wonderful bloggers…

@beccasboooks

@PajamaBookGirl

@margaretbmadden

@ShazsBookBlog

@TheBook_Lovers

The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman

The Memory Book

“The name of your first-born. The face of your lover. Your age. Your address…
What would happen if your memory of these began to fade?
Is it possible to rebuild your life? Raise a family? Fall in love again?
When Claire starts to write her Memory Book, she already knows that this scrapbook of mementoes will soon be all her daughters and husband have of her. But how can she hold on to the past when her future is slipping through her fingers…?
Original, heartwarming and uplifting, The Memory Book is perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.”

 

MY REVIEW:

I rate * * * * stars to The Memory Book.

I was very fortunate to receive an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

Oh gosh. You HAVE to read this book. It’s a Memory Book in its own right and will stay with you for a long time after the last page.

Before starting, I was a little apprehensive, concerned that it would be a bit depressing and sombre. But it really isn’t like that at all. Rowan has managed to write The Memory Book in such a wonderful way that yes, of course it’s heart-wrenching and filled with sadness, but there is humour and love embedded throughout which ensures that you’re smiling as much as you’re crying.

To be able to write a novel covering early onset Alzheimer’s Disease is a skill in itself, and one which few authors would tackle but Rowan has certainly superbly achieved. Rowan has managed to enter the mindset of an Alzheimer’s sufferer and translate it onto paper in such a touching, tender way that although sad, it’s still a gripping read.

The Memory Book is fabulously written, with love spilling over the pages, enticing the reader to devour every word, feel every emotion.

The cast of characters are small, but perfectly formed. You agonise along with each family member and what they are all having to deal with and they are all loveable and believable.

The idea of them all writing in the beautiful Memory Book that Greg bought for his wife Claire is a fantastic idea, and helps the reader understand more about all the family as they pour their hearts out over the pages.

It left me to imagine how much the family will completely adore & be thankful for the memory book once the inevitable does sadly happen…

Read it. The Memory Book. What an apt name for such a memorable book. You will remember this one forever. Thank you Rowan.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rowan Coleman   Rowan Coleman lives with her husband, and five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire. She juggles writing novels with raising her family which includes a very lively set of toddler twins whose main hobby is going in the opposite directions. When she gets the chance, Rowan enjoys sleeping, sitting and loves watching films; she is also attempting to learn how to bake. Rowan would like to live every day as if she were starring in a musical, although her daughter no longer allows her to sing in public.

Despite being dyslexic, Rowan loves writing, and The Memory Book is her eleventh novel. Others include The Accidental Mother, Lessons in Laughing Out Loud and the award-winning Dearest Rose, a novel which lead Rowan to become an active supporter of domestic abuse charity Refuge, donating 100% of royalties from the ebook publication of her novella, Woman Walks Into a Bar, to the charity. Rowan does not have time for ironing.

Visit Rowan’s website to see all her books – http://www.rowancoleman.co.uk
She’s also a GoodReads author – www.goodreads.com/Rowanlovesbooks
Rowan likes to chat on twitter too – rowancoleman

 

QUICK READS 2014

Quick Reads Packshots Horizontal

What are Quick Reads?

1 in 6 adults of working age in the UK find reading difficult and may never pick up a book.  People’s reasons for not reading are varied but are often based in fear. Some people say they find books scary and intimidating, thinking they are ‘not for them’ or that books are difficult or boring.

Quick Reads sets out to challenge these beliefs and to show that books and reading can be for everyone. Each year we commission big name authors to write short books that are specifically designed to be easy to read.  They are the same as mainstream books in every respect but are simply shorter and easier to tackle for adults who are less confident in their reading skills. The books are then sold through major retailers, online booksellers and are loaned from libraries.

Quick Reads is making real, lasting changes to people’s lives.  Since 2006 we have distributed over 4.5 million books, registered 3 million library loans and through the outreach work hundreds of thousands of new readers each year, often in some of the hardest to reach communities, are introduced to the joys and benefits of reading. Quick Reads is a unique collaboration and we are very grateful for the support of everyone involved.

About the Books

  A Cruel Fate by Lindsey Davis

As long as war exists, this story will matter.

Martin Watts, a bookseller, is captured by the king’s men. Jane Afton’s brother Nat is taken too. They both suffer horrible treatment as prisoners-of-war.

In Oxford Castle jailer William Smith tortures, beats, starves and deprives his helpless victims. Can Jane rescue her sick brother before he dies of neglect? Will Martin dare to escape?

Based on real events in the English Civil War, Lindsey Davis retells the grim tale of Captain Smith’s abuse of power in Oxford prison – where many died in misery though a lucky few survived.

About the Author Lindsey Davis is best known for her twenty volume mystery series about Roman detective Marcus Didius Falco, and her new series about his adopted daughter, Flavia Albia.She has also written Rebels and Traitors, an epic novel set during the same time as A Cruel Fate.

Hidden by Barbara Taylor Bradford

Drama, heartbreak and new beginnings. This is a gripping story from a master storyteller.

On the surface, Claire Saunders has it all. She has a rewarding career in fashion and a talented concert pianist daughter.Her loving husband is one of the country’s most trusted diplomats.

But every now and again, she has to plaster her face in heavy make-up and wears sunglasses. She thinks she’s hidden her secret from her best friends, but they know her too well.

Can her friends get her out of harm’s way and protect her from a man who is as ruthless as he is charming and powerful? And along the way, can Claire learn to stop protecting the wrong people?

About the Author

Barbara Taylor Bradford has written twenty-nine novels. Her debut novel, A Woman of Substance, was an international bestseller. Barbara’s books have sold more than eighty-five million copies in more than ninety countries and forty languages. Ten mini-series and television films have been made of her books. In 2007 Barbara was awarded an OBE by the Queen for her services to literature.

Black Out by Emily Barr

You wake up in a strange room, with no idea how you got there.

You are abroad, in a city you have never visited before.

You have no money, no passport, no phone.

And there is no sign of your baby.

What do you do?

About the Author

Emily Barr is the well-loved and bestselling author of Backpack, the original backpacking novel, and many other highly acclaimed novels. A former journalist, she has travelled around the world and written columns and travel pieces for the Observer and the Guardian. After living in France, Emily and her husband (whom she met backpacking) settled in Cornwall with their three children. To learn more about Emily and her novels, you can visit her website www.emilybarr.com

Four Warned by Jeffrey Archer

A Quick Read from the number one bestselling writer and author of Kane and Abel.

These four short stories from a master storyteller are packed full of twists and turns.

In Stuck on You, Jeremy finds out exactly the best way to steal the perfect ring for his fiancée.

Albert celebrates his 100th birthday, and is pleased to be sent The Queen’s Birthday Telegram. He is, however, confused as to why his wife isn’t sent her telegram.

In Russia, businessman Richard plots the ideal way to murder his wife. He begins to have a clever idea when his hotel warns him: Don’t Drink the Water from the taps.

And as Diana, a busy single mother, drives to have dinner with friends, she realises that a black van is following her. Soon terrified for her life, she does whatever it takes to stick to the warning given to drivers: Never Stop on the Motorway . . .

Every reader will have their favourite story – some will make you laugh, others will bring you to tears. And, as always, every one of them will keep you spellbound.

About the Author

Jeffrey Archer, whose novels and short stories include Kane and Abel, A Prisoner of Birth and Cat O’ Nine Tales, has topped the bestseller lists around the world, with sales of over 270 million copies. He is the only author ever to have been a number one bestseller in fiction (fifteen times), short stories (three times) and non-fiction (The Prison Diaries). The author is married with two sons and lives in London and Cambridge.

www.jeffreyarcher.com
Facebook.com/JeffreyArcherAuthor
@Jeffrey_Archer

The Escape by Lynda La Plante

Is a change of identity all it takes to leave prison?

Colin Burrows is desperate. Recently sent to prison for burglary, he knows that his four year sentence means that he will miss the birth of his first child. With his wife’s due date fast approaching, he had hoped that the prison authorities would allow him to be present for the birth, but they have said no.

Sharing a cell with Colin is Barry Marsden. Unlike most of the inmates, Barry actually likes prison life.  He has come from a very difficult family and been in and out of a series of foster homes. In prison, he has three meals a day and he has discovered a talent for drawing. So he is upset that he will have to leave on parole soon.

Sad to see his cellmate looking depressed, Barry hatches a plan to get Colin out of jail for the birth. It’s a plan so crazy that either it will fail and get both men in deeper trouble, or it might just work.

Bestselling author Lynda La Plante’s exciting tale of one man’s escape from jail is based on a true story.

About the Author

Lynda La Plante is a Number One bestselling author. Born in Liverpool, she went to drama school and worked in theatre before becoming a television actress. She then turned to writing – and made her breakthrough with the hit TV series Widows. Her novels have all been bestsellers worldwide. Her script for Prime Suspect won many awards, and Above Suspicion, The Red Dahlia and Deadly Intent have been hugely successful for ITV in recent years. Lynda La Plante was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2008. She joined the Crime Thriller Writers’ Hall of Fame in 2009.Visit Lynda at her website:www.lyndalaplante.com
Follow her on Twitter: @LaPlanteLynda

Rules for Dating a Romantic Hero by Harriet Evans

Do you believe in happy endings?

Laura Foster used to be a hopeless romantic.  She was obsessed with meeting her own Prince Charming until she grew up and realised real life doesn’t work like that.

Then she met Nick. A romantic hero straight from a fairytale, with a grand country estate and a family tree to match.

They’ve been together four years now and Laura knows that what really matters is the two of them, not everything else around them. She can’t imagine ever loving anyone the way she loves Nick.

Now, though, people are openly asking when they’ll hear wedding bells, and Nick is keeping secrets from Laura. She’s starting to feel she might not be ‘good enough’ for his family.

Can an ordinary girl like Laura make it work with one of the most eligible men in the country?

About the Author

Harriet Evans is the author of seven previous novels: Going Home, A Hopeless Romantic, The Love of Her Life, I Remember You, Love Always, Happily Ever After and Not Without You. She lives in London with her family.

Where to get your Quick Reads

Quick Reads are sold in bookshops throughout the UK and Ireland at only £1.00 each (r.r.p) and there are many ways to buy them.

– Order your books online from a range of suppliers including NIACE bookshop,WaterstonesWHSmithAmazon.co.ukDubrayFoyles and Hive
– Purchase and download Quick Reads as eBooks from iBookstoreWHSmiths Foyles,Amazon, Play.comKobo and Sainsburys
– A selection of Quick Reads titles are available in large print from the largeprintbookshop

You can borrow Quick Reads from libraries. Find your local library in the UK (opens in a new window), or libraries in the Republic of Ireland (opens in a new window).

To find out more, visit www.quickreads.org.uk