Friday, 4 September 2015

Stirred With Love - Marcie Steele

About the book...
Sometimes the best friends can be found where you least expect them … 

Still grieving after the loss of her beloved husband, Lily Mortimer is determined to do something with the time she has left. 

After the end of her fairytale marriage, thirty-something Kate is trying hard to mend her broken heart. 

Chloe, a young woman with the world at her feet, is struggling to know what to do with her life. 

When Lily embarks on a new venture in the picturesque town of Somerley, the three women come together to open The Coffee Stop, the most charming cafĂ© for miles around. 

But opening a coffee shop is never as simple as it seems, especially when you add neighbouring competition, local heart throbs and heartbreak to the mix. 

When tragedy strikes, can the three women pull together to make the new business fly, or will Lily’s last chance disappear down the drain along with yesterday’s coffee grinds? 

As comforting as a cappuccino and a better pick-me-up than a grande Americano, Stirred with Love will captivate readers of Milly Johnson, Carole Matthews and Jenny Colgan. 

About the Author...
Hi, I'm Marcie Steele and I can be found hanging around any good coffee shop, drinking copious amounts of coffee and nibbling on double chocolate muffins. Whilst doing this I'll be discreetly people watching or not so discreetly enjoying good gossip with my friends.

My thoughts...
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review by Marcie Steele's publishers Bookouture which I am more than happy to do.

Stirred with Love was such a beautiful read.  Three, un-related ladies, each at a crossroads in their lives.   Lily wants to re-open her coffee shop which closed after her husband died but  knows to do this she needs help.  An advert placed in a local paper attraction the attention of Kate and Chloe - both wanting to escape their current life.  Kate from a marriage that she feels is dead, clashing painfully with her husband Nick almost daily.  Chloe a teenager at odds with her stepmother and with education, feeling a bit inadequate compared to her brother.  Both felt they were being pulled along through life and both saw the job advert as a way to step away from the day to day, gain some much needed breathing space and to re-assess their future.

This is a story about hope and friendship with a helping of love stirred in for good measure. Who wouldn't love a book set in a coffee shop - I could literally taste the coffee and gained pounds virtually eating all of the cake.  This is a book that will wrap itself around you like a soft blanket - comforting and warm, leaving you with a cosy glow.   It's not all hearts and flowers though, there are some emotional chapters that will touch your heart - Lily's story in particular had me shedding a tear.  It really is a feel good book that will make you smile although there was times when I could cheerfully have rung Chloe's neck - she appeared at first a teenager with thoughts only of herself, quite thoughtless and hurtful at times but Marcie rubbed at her character until her insecurities were revealed giving an understanding to her behaviour and showing a sensitive, thoughtful young lady underneath it all.

As Chloe and Kate work together with Lily to find a vision and a way to re-open the cafe, Marcie slowly peals back the layers to reveal the true characters underneath each of their facades.  Each has their own problems and histories with age differences that wouldn't automatically make for friendships.  But, as the project to open the cafe progresses bonds are formed that were initially built on weak foundations but strengthen day by day as each individual makes peace with themselves and their friendship strengthens.  Helping each other over obstacles as they appear. Chloe pushing and prodding like a thorn in Kate's side at times, her youthful exuberance giving her licence to do so without too much come back.

Lily being the ears, a still tongue in a wise head allowing the girls to make their own way, knowing they had her support, but taking more from them than they ever realised.  This was a real feel good book that delivered exactly what I expected, huge thanks to Marcie for enforcing how important friends are - both to have and to be!

The Girl Who Wouldn't Die - Marnie Riches

About the book...

When a bomb explodes at the University of Amsterdam, aspiring criminologist Georgina McKenzie is asked by the police to help flush out the killer.

But the bomb is part of a much bigger, more sinister plot that will have the entire city quaking in fear.

And the killer has a very special part for George to play…

A thrilling race against time with a heroine you’ll be rooting for, this book will keep you up all night! 

About the author...
Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in Manchester. She learned her way out of the ghetto, all the way to Cambridge University, where she gained a Masters degree in German & Dutch. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist, a property developer and professional fundraiser. Previously a children's author, now, she writes crime and contemporary women's fiction.

Marnie Riches is the author of The Girl Who Wouldn't Die - the first instalment of the George McKenzie crime thriller series, published by Maze and Avon at Harper Collins.

In her spare time, Marnie likes to run (more of a long distance shuffle, really) travel, drink and eat all the things (especially if combined with travel) paint portraits, sniff expensive leather shoes (what woman doesn't?) and renovate old houses. She also adores flowers

My thoughts...

I picked up this book not realising it was the first in a series, I was expecting a good thriller, I had heard so many positive comments, I knew I'd enjoy it.  All that I can say is wow - I can't tell you how glad I am that there is a second and third book to satisfy my addiction. I suffered from mixed emotions when I finished it, both relief it was over - it was such a harrowing read at times, a book I kept thinking I couldn't read another page of it was at times so traumatic, yet I was so hooked I kept turning the pages faster and faster as the plots thickened.  Then wham! Utter devastation, that I had got to the last page, I wanted more, I need more!  So rarely does a book grab me and tear my emotions in two, I'm almost frightened to read book two but at the same time I'm desperate to begin.

To say 'The Girl Who Wouldn't Die' got my blood pumping and adrenalin running would be an understatement - it literally blew me away.  It was a book that once I started reading it I literally couldn't put it down - it was at times horrific, an all consuming read that had an under story that was equally as devastating and heart breaking. A gritty read that touches on parts of life that sadly exist, not just a figment of an overactive imagination.

The story has two strands that eventually join together in a way that I didn't see coming at all.  We follow the lives of Georgina (George) McKenzie a Cambridge student studying for a year at the University of Amsterdam and Ella Williams-May a teenager, living in terror, with a mother who is mother by genes only. She doesn't seem to care for Ella, just looking for the next scam to provide money for booze.  With no father on the scene life is difficult for Ella.  They are terrorised by the local gang, that is until she joins forces with them in order to protect herself and her mother.

The Girl Who Wouldn't Die begins with an explosive start, a human bomb, blown up outside the faculty library in Amsterdam.  George dragged from her flat by fellow student Ad to witness what was happening on the street - her inquisitive nature sees herself pushing herself into the investigation, the detective in charge ending up using her as bait to try to lure out the killer. 

If you want a book that'll scare you just a little - scrap that - a lot, with twists that are gut wrenching, that will have you on the edge of your seat, heart pounding, with a plot that is deeply woven into the story, that'll drag you into a world that you'll be glad you are viewing behind the cover of a book - with characters that are so well written, more often than not having a side to them that is totally unpredictable causing you to question everything with one hand held over your mouth, eyebrows raised then this is for you.  I have to say it's so dark and gritty I was left both physically and emotionally drained, such was Marnie's skill at drawing the reader right into the heart of the action. I have no hesitation in recommending this book at all - I loved it, although it does feel slightly wrong to say that!