Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Second Chance Shoe Shop - Marcie Steele

The Second Chance Shoe Shop
by Marcie Steele

About the book...
All Riley Flynn wants is to meet someone who makes her happy. But attracting the right kind of man is not easy, and with her heart still hurting from her last break-up, Riley believes she’ll never find love again.

A year ago, Sadie Stewart’s whole world was shattered when her husband, Ross, died. She has struggled to keep herself together for the sake of their young daughter, but with the anniversary of his death approaching, Sadie finds herself overwhelmed by grief.

Sadie and Riley work at Chandlers shoe shop, in the charming town of Hedworth. But when Chandlers is threatened with closure, the friends are confronted with the loss of not only their jobs, but also their support network - the glue that holds them together when they are close to breaking.

As they put together a plan to save their beloved shop, Sadie realises that she might just be learning to live again. Could it be that new beginnings are just round the corner? The campaign also finds Riley unexpectedly crossing paths with charming photographer, Ethan. Maybe her second chance at love is right under her feet.

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

My thoughts...
#ShoeLove oh wow!  What is not to love about this book?  I was asked by Kim Nash, publicity manager for Bookouture Marcie's publisher if I would like to be part of the blog tour for this book and the answer was a very easy yes for several reasons.  Firstly, that cover it is simply to die for, secondly the subject matter - shoes, I love shoes and lastly but not least the author.  I have read and enjoyed books from both Marcie Steele and her other persona, crime writing as Mel Sherratt and have never failed to be impressed.  Each book just gets better and better.

The Second Chance Shoe Shop is, not unsurprisingly, set around a shoe shop but doesn't solely - no pun intended, revolve around shoes.  Along with the shoe shop, Chandlers it's staff, manager Riley and assistants Sadie and Dan are at a stage in their lives when they also need a little bit of a shake-up and some TLC. They are not just colleagues, but friends feeling each others hurt and pain as keenly as their own.

This is a book that sucked me in from the start.  A story full of highs and lows as the friends pull together to re-invent the shop in order to raise sales before it has to close its doors for the last time.  Pitted against each other they devise a plan to help each other, pulling together instead of apart. At the same time they each venture out of their comfort zones with new friendships and relationships.

I was totally absorbed in the book from the very first chapter and I cannot tell you how exciting it was to suddenly come across a friends name in print, OMG Kim Nash got her own cameo role in this book.  A part that made me smile and hit the text button before once again losing myself between the pages.  This is a truly beautiful story that has many highs and lows and my own spirits dipped and rose in tune with them.  I keenly felt the pain and at times torment of Riley as she battled with Suzanne, the hard nosed owner of The Second Chance Shoe Shop who appeared devoid of a heart or in fact any emotion.  Although, as in any good book of this genre; Marcie gets beneath her skin and later displays a softer side which wiped out all of my negative feelings in a heartbeat.

All in all this was an uplifting book that demonstrates the power of love and good friendships. I'm sure we've all had a time in our lives when everything has appeared hopeless but our friends have rallied and lifted us out of our funk, I know I have.  Riley has an incredible friendship circle that has her back 100%, I found the story to be totally engaging, even joining in with the #twittercampaign that wove its way from the pages into real life - such an original idea I #LovedIt  

Thank you so much Kim, Marcie and Bookouture for the opportunity to read this wonderful book - I'm still watching YouTube clips of Flash-mobs now, over a month after reading this beauty! If you want to know why just head to Amazon and get a copy for yourself only 99p.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

The Missing - C. L. Taylor

The Missing
by C. L. Taylor

About the book...
You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them. Or do you…?

When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire Wilkinson, blames herself. She's not the only one. There isn't a single member of Billy's family that doesn't feel guilty. But the Wilkinson’s are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn't until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.

Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.

A mother's instinct is never wrong. Or is it?

About the author...
C.L. Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son. She started writing fiction in 2005 and her short stories have won several awards and been published by a variety of literary and women’s magazines. Cally has a degree in Psychology, with particular interest in abnormal and criminal Psychology. She also loves knitting, Dr Who, Sherlock, Great British Bake Off and Margaret Atwood and blames Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected for her love of a dark tale.

My thoughts...
You know sometimes that feeling of anticipation that you want something to happen but at the same time you don't want it to be over?  That's how I felt about The Missing, I was counting down the days to publication day when my pre-order from Amazon would land on my mat, so imagine my surprise when I opened my post about a month ago to find a copy of The Missing from Avon, C. L. Taylor's publishers.  I was beyond excited to be getting an early read in exchange for an honest review, something I'm more than happy to do.

The Missing centres around the lives of Billy Wilkinson's family - a fifteen year old boy that has gone missing, focusing on their ability to cope with day to day life in the aftermath of his disappearance.

This was such a compelling read, Cally Taylor has an incredible ability to get inside the minds of people both characters and readers.  Her sharp observations are so accurate you feel you are reading a true story. 

How many times do you hear about families torn apart by events which should bind them together - when Claire, Billy's mum is manically flaying around lurching from one possibility to another, chasing after clues my heart literally bled - she appeared to be slowly going mad with desperation.  Having black out moments that evoke polaroid like images that don't fit in her life, always believing that Billy is out there somewhere, never giving up hope.   Whilst on the other hand Mark her husband is trying to be realistic, six months is a long time he must be dead, mustn't he? And, let's not forget Jake his older brother who turns to drink to help him get through each day that his little brother is missing.

This was such a compelling read, I so wanted to know the answers yet didn't want the book to end.  Relationships and family dynamics are complex at the best of times but intensified, with everybody's flaws and faults highlighted in the face of such a trauma.  I felt for each and everyone of them - a family unable to help each other, each wanting the same outcome, to wake up from this terrible tragedy and find it was all a dream yet each coping or not coping in reality - the pain, hurt and desperation for life to resume normality evident with every page turned.

I highly recommend this book - it's a book that will touch your heart, will make you gasp and cry out, the sheer emotion leaps from the pages with an ending that I didn't see coming a mile off - it's shocking yet true to life, a story that sadly you could see happening for real.  C. L. Taylor is an author to put on your favourites list she has a writing style that is dark and twisted yet demonstrates an insight into the complex psyche of people that we live alongside every day.

Huge, huge thanks to Avon for the opportunity to review this amazingly brilliant book and my initial thoughts were right, I'm gutted it's over!  Follow the rest of the blog tour for more views and reviews from fellow bloggers.