3 September 2015

Book Review: My Mother's Secret by Sheila O'Flanagan

"When Steffie helps her two siblings organize a surprise wedding anniversary party for their parents her only worry is whether they'll be pleased. What she doesn't know is this is the day that her whole world will be turned upside down.

Jenny wants to be able to celebrate her ruby anniversary with the man she loves, but for forty years she has kept a secret. A secret that she can't bear to hide any longer. But is it ever the right time to hurt the people closest to you?

As the entire family gather to toast the happy couple, they're expecting a day to remember. The trouble is, it's not going to be for the reasons they imagined..."

Rating: 4/5

Available to buy now.

Amazingly, this is Sheila O'Flanagan's 20th novel - what a triumph! Her stories are superb, her appeal reaches across the generations and I always look forward to her latest releases. It was no different for this new book, My Mother's Secret. I was heavily anticipating reading it, and luckily, Sheila didn't let me down with this one! While I did guess the secrets as the book progressed, it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the story at all, and I really enjoyed reading about this family of characters.

Steffie is unsure when her older sister Roisin decides to throw a surprise anniversary for their parents, knowing that the pair would far rather have a quiet dinner for two than the huge bash being planned for them. However, she goes along with it and the event certainly goes off with a bang. Just as the celebrations are beginning, Steffie's mother Jenny drops a big bombshell that shocks everyone at the party - least of all Steffie.

Family dramas are some of my favourite reads, so I was most definitely looking forward to finding out what Jenny's secrets were. As I said, I worked out the secrets from the hints dropped up to the big reveal, but I somehow didn't mind - I simply cared more about reading the reactions of the family to the reveal, and the fallout that was inevitably going to come from it. Sheila's writing was, as usual, brilliant and drew me in to the story, the family dramas and made me want to keep turning the pages until I reached the end. I liked how she blended the secrets with the other elements of the story - the new romance of Steffie's brother Davey, Steffie's budding romance with a local chef, as well as the past history of Jenny and Pascal.

All of the characters in this book were great to read about, and I thought they were well-fleshed out, realistic and I cared about reading more of their story. The dynamic between Roisin and Steffie was fun to read, with Roisin taking on the archetypal big sister role, stressing herself out at the pressure of party organising, and also when the rest of the family starts to fall apart. Steffie was much less responsible, struggling to make ends meet in her job as graphic designer, but still helps out her sister with the party. Their brother Davey, who lives abroad, was less present in the book but I still enjoyed reading about him and his girlfriend Camilla, it certainly added something a bit different to the book.

One of the best things about this book for me was Sheila O'Flanagan's descriptive writing. When a big storm hits the town of Wexford, she describes it so well, it feels really dramatic as you are reading. Everything from the flooding roads, to the soaked party guests were written brilliantly, and you can really feel the tension when things start to dramatically fall apart as the storm hits. The reactions and fall-out from the revelations in this book are what make it so readable, and I was left wondering if the family would ever get over what was going on! This story was brilliantly written, enjoyable to read from the start, and while it was a bit predictable at parts and I had easily guessed the secrets within, I still very much enjoyed the read. It's amazing that it is Sheila's twentieth novel, and I look forward to many more.

31 August 2015

eBook Review: The SW19 Club by Nicola May

"What would you do if you were told you could never have children?

Faced with this news, Gracie Davies is at an all-time low. But with the support of some new Wimbledon friends, an unorthodox therapist, her hippy-chick sister Naomi and Czech call-girl Maya, she sets up The SW19 Club and begins her rocky journey to inner peace and happiness. Add in a passionate fling with handsome landscaper Ed, a fairytale encounter with a Hollywood filmstar and the persistence of her adulterous ex, life is anything but predictable…"

Rating: 4/5

Nicola May is back this summer with her brand new book, The SW19 Club, and I was really excited when she asked me to review it for my blog. The idea of the book is tinged with a bit of sadness - Nicola herself recently went through something which has meant she is unable to have her own children, and it inspired her to write the story of Gracie, the character going through the exact same thing as Nicola is. You really feel the rawness and the fact Nicola has experienced this in  her writing, it is incredibly emotional and hard to read at times, but an ultimately uplifting story.

Gracie is devastated when she finally becomes pregnant with twins, and tragically loses them, and ultimately her ability to have any future children either. She is completely broken, and doesn't know where to turn, to the point where it is starting to affect her relationship and job. Eventually, Gracie realises she has to get on her with her life, and ends up making some new friends in Wimbledon when she's at the park. Her sister is a big help in getting her life back on track too, and soon Gracie is feeling like life could perhaps be on the up. As Gracie gets her own new club, The SW19 Club, up and running, she starts to realise she can have fun in the life she has been given after all...

The initial part of this book is very sad, and at times heart-breaking to read. Gracie's emotion comes through the page so easily, and I found myself getting tearful at several points. You can tell Nicola May has drawn on her own experiences with this book, and this comes across so well in the book. There will be people who have gone through what Nicola and Gracie have gone through, and will be able to relate to their story, but for those who haven't, it is a very tough insight into their world. Being able to have children is something you take for granted, so I can't imagine how hard it would to have that opportunity taken away from you for good, it is a truly awful thing for someone to have to experience.

That said, while the tone of the book starts off sad, it does pick up as it progresses, and I loved seeing Gracie break out of her misery and try to move on with her life. Her sister Naomi is brilliant at helping her get her life back together, and her nephew is so sweet too, you can see why Gracie loves spending time with him. The relationship between the two women is extremely close, and I felt glad that Gracie had someone so close to her when she really needed them. Gracie's partner Lewis, well, I struggled to fathom him out really. Yes, he lost babies too but he seems to think Gracie should be over it a lot quicker than she is, and struggles to understand why she wants to cling on to her baby weight, and the cots set up in the nursery. He felt a little cold to me, and I wanted to give him a good shake. Soon, things deteriorate for the pair and I was hopeful that would be the end of him! There's also another of Gracie's new friends, Czech call girl Maya whose story is shocking, gripping and twinged with a bit of sadness, and provided a little relief from Gracie's tale, but I loved it just the same!

The SW19 club, which is of course the title of the book, but doesn't actually appear a huge amount in the book. Gracie sets it up in Wimbledon park with her new found friend, and runs it as a support group for women who have gone through miscarriage. It's a great idea - the topic of miscarriage doesn't seem to be spoken about enough, and I can imagine it would be nice having people to talk to who have been through the same as you if you ever needed somewhere to turn. Again, Nicola really gets the tone of this part of the book right, some of the stories are really sad, but are necessary to understand where Gracie is coming from, and what she's had to get through to be where she is today.

This is definitely one of my favourite books by Nicola May - not the funny, laugh-out-loud books of the past I have read from her, but instead something touching, powerful and emotional - a story that so many women (and men) will be able to relate to, but with a glimmer of hope too. Gracie's hitting rock bottom was hard to read, I just wanted to scoop her up and hug her and cry with her, but it was inspiring the way she was able to be strong and get herself back on track in the end, both personally and professionally. The cast of the book are brilliant, all likeable people that you care about as you're reading. This story will make you cry, smile and laugh along with it, and I know it's a story that will stay with me. A beautiful read, just be aware some readers may find this perhaps a bit too close for home. Wonderful.

29 August 2015

eBook Review: Summer Flings and Dancing Dreams by Sue Watson

"Dance like nobody’s watching. Love like you’ll never get hurt…
Laura Watkin’s heart isn’t broken, she’s just forgotten how to use it.

After years on her own, the highlight of single mum Laura’s week is watching Strictly Come Dancing with a glass of Pinot Grigio and a large helping of imagination.

With her daughter Sophie going travelling, Laura knows the time is right to do something for herself for a change. One disastrous Zumba class later and Laura ends up at the feet (literally) of gorgeous dance instructor Tony Hernandez.

A natural dancer and inspiring teacher, Tony rekindles in Laura a passion she inherited from her ballroom dancer father – and with it comes a dream… to make him proud.

But when Tony enters them to perform at the National Dance Festival, can Laura’s new-found confidence survive the test? And with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn Flamenco in Spain, could Laura truly learn to dance like nobody’s watching… and love like she’ll never get hurt?

A laugh-out-loud, uplifting comedy about finding the courage to be yourself, the importance of dreams, and learning to grab life by the glitter balls."

Rating: 5/5

Available to buy now.

One of my new favourite authors is definitely Sue Watson! I have read her last 3 books, and completely devoured each of them, they have just been brilliant. Her writing is warm, funny, and her stories are about normal people you can imagine yourself knowing, and always leave me with a big smile on my face when I've finished them! Her brand new book Summer Flings and Dancing Dreams was no different, I absolutely loved it, and here's why I think it's a must-read!

This story is based around one woman, Laura, who works in a supermarket. Her parents were dancers, but after a tragedy in her childhood, Laura hasn't followed in their footsteps. Instead, she has ended up a single mum to a grown up daughter, works hard with her friends but certainly doesn't have job satisfaction. When she joins a dance class and reignites her passion for dancing, her new friend Tony is determined to get the Lola out of Laura, and get her performing again.

Now that we are entering that countdown to Christmas, and the X Factor/Strictly Come Dancing is upon us already, this is the perfect book to pick up! The main character Laura loves watching Strictly, her narrative about the music and dresses is a joy to read, you can tell her love of dancing and passion about it just from the way she talks about. I warmed to Laura straight away, she was a very normal woman, someone who has no confidence, is lonely and just wants to try and step out of her day to day life and try something new, and thank goodness she did! The story really is about Laura's journey to becoming a dancer, but it was so much more than that too. It was Laura's first person narrative that worked so well for me though - her thoughts, feelings and fears were written so perfectly, you end up feeling them along with her and I was just completely absorbed by her story!

Some of my favourite bits were with Laura's 'deaf' mother in her nursing home - I use the term deaf loosely of course! The pair are clearly not as close as they could be, owing to whatever happened to Laura and her mother years before, but it takes a long time for that to be revealed. When it is, however, I loved the honesty of both women and these were some of my favourite parts of the book. Laura's new best friend Tony, the dance instructor, is just absolutely brilliant - he's funny, unafraid to take the mick out of himself, and is the perfect person to bring Laura out of herself!  He's certainly larger than life, and I loved how he encouraged Laura every step of the way to dance again, and become what she truly can be. Her little holiday to Spain to learn authentic Flamenco was brilliant, one of my favourite parts of the book and I admired Laura for taking the plunge and going away!

Sue Watson's writing is just superb, and allows you to totally immerse yourself in the world of her characters, from the first page to the last. The story of Laura was very inspirational, made me smile and left me wanting to do something new with my life like Laura was. Dreams aren't just for young people, and Laura proves that when she takes a chance, and tries something new - as well as helping her confront the past that still haunts her. Everything about this book made me smile, from the dancing to the characters to the music - I could picture it all vividly in my mind as I was reading along. As you can tell, I loved this book, and now can't wait for the next one from Sue Watson, hope we aren't left waiting too long!!

28 August 2015

Blog Tour eBook Review: P.S. Olive You by Lizzie Allen

"Sun, sea . . . and a summer of endless possibilities .

From the glossy streets of Chelsea to a tiny Greek hideaway, Faith Cotton is about to have a summer that she will never forget!

Young bored housewife, Faith Cotton, escapes her stifling Chelsea life when her husband suggests they decamp to a tiny island in the Greek Cyclades for the summer. He works for the foreign office and has the inside scoop on ‘the Greek situation’. Europe is pouring money into Greece and, far from going down the plughole, Andrew believes that the island of Iraklia will soon see a tourist boom.

As Andrew flies back and forth between Greece and Brussels, he leaves Faith in charge of finding them a permanent holiday home on the island. But things don’t go to plan – over the course of a summer, Faith’s doomed marriage begins to unravel, and far from finding a house she set out for, she finally discovers the person she really is. . ."

Rating: 2.5/5

Available to buy now.

Another blog tour I am part of this week is that of debut author Lizzie Allen, whose first book with publishers Avon is out now, and is called P.S. Olive You. I really liked the cover, being set on a beautiful Greek island sounded fabulous, so I eagerly began reading it on my Kindle. Although I enjoyed the beginning of the story, I soon found myself getting bogged down in the politics within the story, especially focussed on the Greek economy. By the end, I had pretty much tuned all of that out, and struggled to fathom how or why Faith had gotten so wrapped up in it. What had started so well tailed off for me, which was such a shame.

The main character is Faith, married to husband Andrew, although their marriage is far from happy at the moment. The pair have struggled to have children together, Faith isn't exactly keen on buying a holiday home on the island of Iraklia, and she isn't sure she actually wants to be married to Andrew at all. When she starts befriending a few of the locals, it opens Faith's eyes to a world she hasn't seen before, and that she doesn't have to be the Stepford wife she has to be at home in London. But is Faith's Greek love affair all set to end in tears?

If this book had stuck to the story of Faith and her relationship with Andrew, and her subsequent friendships with the Iraklia residents, I feel I would have enjoyed it more. However, it kept getting entangled with the other part of this story, which was the survival of the Greek island Iraklia despite the terrible economic times in Greece. I know this is something that is really happening at the moment, I watch the news and understand how awful it is for the people of Greece at the moment. However, when I read a book, I like to escape the real world and read something a bit light-hearted, and this is what this book cover had lead me to believe I would be getting.

Although, as I said, I watch the news, I found this was hard going to read. Allen tries to get too heavy in parts with the political message of this story, especially in the last part of the book where there are protests and all sorts going on - I honestly lost the plot and totally lost what it was all in aid of, and found myself skipping through these parts. It definitely took a big turn for the remainder of the book and it just wasn't as enjoyable for me which was a shame. Faith as a character was fun to read about, I liked her trying to break out of her Stepford wife mould and find out who she really was. Her relationship with her husband was definitely strange, and I was surprised she put up with his domineering ways as long as she did!

Allen's descriptions of the Greek island of Iraklia were nice to read, I could really picture it in my mind - especially when Faith and her new friends were all together, having fun. The political side of the book of course was sad because it is so deeply rooted in reality, and I felt sorry for the Greek people who were suffering as a result of the poor economy, but the book is keen to show that the corruption runs deep, and how the Greek people are sometimes complicit in the downturn. My problem with this book was that it didn't seem to know what it was - from the cover, it was a fun holiday romance read, but inside this was confused and muddled with the political agenda, not something I had expected at all. A good read, but perhaps not for me.

27 August 2015

Book Review: A Good Catch by Fern Britton

"Even happy families have their secrets…

Greer Clovelly seems to have it all, beautiful, chic and slender, she’s used to getting her own way. Greer has been in love with Jesse Behenna since her first day at school and she’s determined that one day, they’ll be married. After all, a marriage between them would join together two dynasties of Cornish fishing families to make one prosperous one.

For her friend, Loveday Carter – plump, freckled and unpretentious – living in the shadow of her friend has become a way of life. She loves Jesse too, but knows that what Greer wants, she usually gets.

Jesse, caught in the middle, faces an agonising choice. Should he follow his heart or bow to his father’s wishes? And what about his best friend Mickey, who worships the ground that Loveday walks on?

Jesse’s decision will touch them all in ways that they could never foresee, and as the dark clouds start to gather the four friends find themselves weathering a storm – one that has the power to sink them all…"

Rating: 5/5

Available to buy now.

I'm not a big fan of celebrities turning to writing books, making out it is easy and using a ghostwriter. However, I do have time for those who buck the trend and write their own material, and the fact this is Fern Britton's sixth fictional novel (not including her eBook short stories!), shows she certainly has a loyal readership out there, and I can see why. I have read some of Fern's previous books but for me, this has to be her best yet. I completely lost myself in the story, of Greer and Jesse's marriage, and I know it is going to be a book I am going to want to re-read. It was brilliant, and here's why you should read it.

What I liked about this book was the simplicity of the story. It really just follows four characters all the way through the book, their family members making sporadic appearances, but this all comes down to four people - Greer, her husband Jesse, her best friend Loveday and their best friend Mickey. What I liked about Britton's writing of this book was how the story tells the tale of the romances, from the beginning right up until the present day, where the book begins with a prologue that leaves you wondering what has happened.

We see how Greer's future is mapped out for her by her well-to-do parents, determined to marry her off to Jesse Behenna, son of the local Cornish fishing family in order to keep both of the businesses afloat. Green has burnt a candle for Jesse for years, but he isn't sure those feelings can be reciprocated - he is rather sweet for the louder, brasher, curvier Loveday, but can't bring himself to admit it, and go against the family wishes. This sets the book up for the story of the marriage of Greer and Jesse, and whether or not they can make it work between them.

The characters of this book were wonderfully written, believable as people, and I truly lost myself in the story of their lives, from when they are young teenagers leaving school, to when they are fully grown adults making much tougher decisions about their lives. Greer was probably the least likeable of the bunch, a bit stuck-up, sure of herself and quite mean to her best friend if I'm honest. Loveday, on the other hand, was the life and soul of their friendship, happy to squeeze her rather ample curves into the tightest of tops and skirts, brimming with confidence - you can see why both Mickey and Jesse were taken with her! But she was written as such a genuine, kind-hearted person, the complete antithesis of Greer - I often wondered why Loveday wanted to be friends with such a person.

The men, too, were just as important to this book. I felt quite sorry for Jesse, being pushed into a marriage he didn't really want for the sake of the business. He was a hard worker, keen to provide for his family, and his friendship with Mickey was lovely to read, a proper best friendship, there for each other through everything. As well as these great characters, it was the setting of the book that made it so readable for me. It's set in the fishing village of Trevay in Cornwall, and Britton makes it sound so utterly picturesque, it makes me want to jump in the car and go down there now! Britton perfectly describes everything about the village, from the run-down pub to the fish market, to the boats bobbing up and down on the shore. You can see why it was so easy for me to lose myself in this book, picturing myself strolling along with Greer, when I was lying in the darkness in my bedroom!

As I have already said, but want to say again, this is definitely Fern's best book to date. I fell in love with everything about it, and certainly didn't want their tale to end. There are some heart-breaking moments in the book, handled delicately by Fern, and they certainly gave new dimensions to the characters, facing adult situations they've never had to before. It was the passage of time in this book that I loved, seeing four characters I loved truly grow up in front of my eyes, Britton capturing every important moment of their lives with her words. It's a story of love, regrets, loss and hope, all wrapped up in the beautiful package that is Trevay, leaving you bereft once their tale had finished. A superb summer read, I can't recommend it enough!

26 August 2015

Book Review: The Sun in Her Eyes by Paige Toon

"'Before your mother died, she asked me to tell you something …'

When Amber Church was three, her mother was killed in a car accident. A stranger was at the scene and now, nearly thirty years later, she's desperate to talk to Amber.

Living in London and not-so-happily married to Ned, Amber is greeted one morning by two pieces of news: she's to be made redundant from her City job and her beloved father, across the world in Australia where she grew up, has been felled by a stroke. She takes the first plane out to be by his side, leaving Ned uncertain as to when she will return. Reunited with her old friends, Amber is forced to confront her feelings for Ethan Lockwood, the gorgeous, green-eyed man she fell for as a young girl.

And then Amber receives a letter that changes everything …"

Rating: 4/5

Available to buy now.

Paige Toon's books are always something to get excited about for me - she's on of the few authors I love to read a book by and will read it whatever it is about really! I was excited to receive a review copy of her latest book The Sun in Her Eyes, and of course couldn't wait to get stuck in. I loved the cover, and was hoping it would be as good as Paige's previous novels that I have devoured in just a few short evenings, While this wasn't perhaps my favourite of Paige's books, it was still a very good read, and is now sat looking beautiful with the rest of my Paige Toon collection on my bookshelf, ready to be re-read when I find some time!

The story was an interesting one for me, mainly because I was at odds with what the main character was doing throughout. Amber has to return to her native Australia because her father has a stroke and it has left him quite poorly. It comes at a time when things aren't exactly harmonious in her marriage to Ned, and she thinks some time apart might heal the wounds in their relationship. However, she doesn't bank on bumping into her first childhood love, Ethan, and having some feelings ignited once more. As well as caring for her father and his wife, Amber has to make decisions about her future, but is also being haunted by her past...

The blurb of the book focuses heavily on Amber receiving a letter that is sure to change her life forever, but for me, this felt like a very small sub-plot of the book, and not at all the main story. It's a shame because I felt a lot more could have been made out of this rather than Amber's convoluted love life, and I certainly would have liked to see more of Amber's reaction to what transpires from the letter. We are, however, instead treated to a story about Amber's indecision over which man she truly wants to be with, and it left a bit of a sour taste at times - she was playing about, being unfaithful and she knew it, yet carried on. Affairs seems to be a recurring them in Paige Toon's books as of late, it would be nice perhaps to have something a bit different between her characters.

That being said, I did enjoy reading the story because Paige's writing, as always, is top notch. I really enjoyed the descriptions of Australia, from the vineyards that Amber visits with Ethan, to her fathers home and the pubs and bars she frequents. I felt the story around Amber's fathers stroke was extremely well written. It was emotional, and the way Toon writes about the struggle he has to literally get back on his feet, and the emotional trauma the family go through at this awful time was very raw but handled delicately and with sensitivity - it certainly gave me some insight into the devastating effects of a stroke, and it certainly showed Amber in her best light - a caring, loving daughter wanting to look after her ailing father.

Overall, this was a well written and enjoyable story from Paige Toon, but for me it wasn't her best. I like reading Amber's story, even if I didn't necessarily agree with her actions. I felt incredibly sorry for her husband Ned who was stranded back in England, wondering about the fate of his marriage. Amber wasn't exactly likeable, and I wish more had been said about her past and that the letter had been written about earlier in the book but it didn't stop my overall enjoyment of the book. Toon's writing is fabulous, the pace is good and the story doesn't wane at all, I certainly enjoyed picking it up every evening to read a few more chapters. Fans of Paige Toon won't want to miss this, but if you haven't yet read Paige Toon, I would start with her earlier books. A good summer read.

25 August 2015

Blog Tour Book Review: The Waiting Game by Jessica Thompson

"'The moon was speckled like a bird's egg. It hung reliably in the blackness above Will Turnbull and Nessa Grier who sat side by side on a bench as the leaves fell around them, landing softly on the thick, wet grass. Their knees were just touching, hearts pounding hard.'

Nessa Bruce waits for her husband to come through the double doors. She'd waited for him to return home from Afghanistan for what felt like forever, and now the moment was finally here. But Jake isn't... Jake Bruce hasn't come home, and it looks like he never will.

Nessa's life - and that of her daughter Poppy - is turned upside down in an instant. What has happened to the elusive man at the centre of their world? They hold onto the hope that he is still out there somewhere, alive... but as time passes by, Nessa is forced to look at her life, at the decisions she has made and the secrets she has kept. For maybe somewhere within it all lies the answer to the question she's desperate to answer - where is the man she loves?"

Rating: 5/5

Available to buy now.

Jessica Thompson's new book The Waiting Game is one that I have been really excited to read for quite a while now. I have read and loved each of her books to date, so I was thrilled to be sent a copy of her latest book for review. I firstly want to comment on the cover - what a stunning cover it is! The title is in foil as well, so stands out even more - the whole thing is just stunning and that alone would make me want to dive in and start reading!

The book mainly follows one character, Nessa, as she comes to terms with her husband Jake disappearing after returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Nessa grieves for her husband, struggling to cope with life after he has gone, especially with her teenage daughter Poppy being hard to handle. However, the story in this is delicately handled by Thompson, and it is a joy to read, keeping you totally absorbed in Nessa and Jake's tale, and wondering how it is all going to come to an end.

The narrative for this story jumps around in time, and you have to pay attention to the dates at the start of each chapter to work out where we are now. I really enjoyed this - it gives us an insight into the early relationship of Nessa and Jake, as well as the blossoming friendship between Nessa and her best friend Will. I liked getting to know a different time in Nessa's life, before the tragedy hits her and she's altered by her grief. The pace was good as well, and it kept me wanting to read more and find out what was going to happen next. The book does progress well, giving you everything you would want from this book and more, and I just couldn't help being drawn into Nessa's world, and feeling her anger, grief and confusion along with her.

One character that I struggled to warm to was teenager Poppy. The language coming out of the mouth of a young girl, especially directed at her mother, was appalling and I felt a bit uncomfortable reading it. I know teenagers swear, but I was brought up never to use bad language at your elders, and this just didn't sit well with me at all, and I wanted to give her a stern talking to! The relationship between Nessa and Poppy was very fraught, neither really knowing how to deal with their feelings or to treat each other, and Thompson makes this believable as you read it, certainly not an easy mother/daughter relationship but one that is damaged by their joint loss. I did, however, like the flawed characters, each coping with an awful situation, making questionable decisions and acting in ways we perhaps wouldn't, struggling just to keep afloat in a new world for them - one without Jake.

I really don't want to comment too much on Jake's story, because the beauty of it is reading it unfold slowly in the context of the story. I really felt sorry for Jake, a soldier struggling to come to terms with a tragic event, and we certainly see Jake as a hero - a good father, husband, son and someone who gives his all for his country. This is a beautiful story to read, with lots of complex relationships going on, and dealing with a sensitive and topical issue so wonderfully too. Thompson's writing brings to life the story, the characters and in particular, the emotion of the book - I felt like I was feeling all of Nessa's emotions along with her, particularly towards the end of the book. I can't say I was entirely happy at the end of the book, it felt a bit sudden to me but overall, I enjoyed every page and am already eagerly anticipating Jessica's next book! Brilliant - a must read.