Dot Scribbles

1.2.16

Hannah Fielding Blog Tour and Fantastic Giveaway!

I am very pleased to be part of Hannah Fielding's February Fiesta Blog Tour! If you don't know about Hannah or haven't read any of her books then just keep reading to find out more.


Hannah Fielding is an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: writing full time at her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breath-taking views of the Mediterranean.

To date, Hannah has published four passionate, evocative novels: Burning Embers, a ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’, set in Kenya; the award-winning Echoes of Love, ‘an epic love story that is beautifully told’, set in Italy; and books 1 and 2 of the Andalusian Nights trilogy, set in sultry Spain, entitled Indiscretion and Masquerade. She is currently working on her fifth book, Legacy, which will publish this spring.

Hannah has very kindly sent me an excerpt of her novel Burning Embers to share with you:

They stood close to each other, almost touching. His hand reached out and, with infinite tenderness, covered the slender fingers clenching the rail. A pleasant warmth flooded her. She was afraid to move in case she disturbed that initial, yet powerful, contact. For a fleeting moment, in this wan light and because he spoke gently, her wounded heart yielded to this stranger’s soothing voice.
The sky was slowly clearing on the horizon. The black cloak of night began to lift, lazily giving way to a monochromatic dawn of decreasing hues, from indigo to steel blue. The first rays of the African sun broke through in the distance, a sallow slip of color outlining the eastern horizon. Coral felt the stranger looking at her, and heat suddenly rose in her cheeks.
Their eyes locked. She shuddered and pulled his jacket closer around her shoulders. As his gaze dropped to her soft, full lips, he flushed under his deep tan, then suddenly seemed to check himself and turned away. Coral, whose head and heart were throbbing, stood there silently, staring up at him with a mixture of curiosity and wonderment. The sensation she was experiencing was totally new to her. It was as if an unspoken affinity had been discovered and a connection established all in a single moment.

As if that wasn't enough, Hannah is also giving you the chance to win an Amazon gift card and copies of her books, simply click on the link below to take part:



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you so much to Hannah for inviting me to be part of her fabulous blog tour, I hope that you have learnt a little more about this lovely author and her books and I wish you all the best with the competition!

27.1.16

BOOK REVIEW: Us By David Nicholls

Douglas Peterson understands his wife's need to 'rediscover herself' now that their son is leaving home.
He just thought that they'd be doing their rediscovering together.
So when Connie announces that she will be leaving too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.
The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed.
What could possibly go wrong?

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Pages: 399

I finished this book a couple of days ago and I'm still not 100% sure as to what I think. Predictably, I loved One Day which is the only other book I've read by David Nicholls so I was very excited when Us was published. However, it has sat on my shelf for over a year as I was worried that it wouldn't live up to my expectations. Realistically I'm not sure if it did but I think this is mainly because I really disliked two of the main characters. Douglas Peterson is far from perfect as a character but I couldn't bear his wife Connie or son Albie. To the point that there were times when I had to stop reading this book as I was so wound up by them.
The idea behind the story was good; Douglas Peterson's son is about to leave home for university and it is at this point that his wife Connie decides to tell him that she may be leaving home once Albie has gone. Douglas is devastated; he could not love his wife more, she is his whole life and he can't imagine a future without her. He decides to take them both on a family holiday across Europe. He wants it to be perfect, he wants to win his son's affections back and to convince Connie to stay. But what if it is all too late?
I really enjoyed the travel aspect of the book and as with One Day, I loved how observational David Nicholls is and the simply way in which he presents very big emotions and ideas. But Albie and Connie consistently annoyed me; I know that you don't have to like every character but I just wanted Douglas to give up trying to win them over and go and find someone else.
The ending of the story just about salvaged the book for me but I was left feeling like I had been made to sit in a room with people I didn't like for too long.
So there you go, I'm not sure if I enjoyed this book, maybe that was the author's intention all along? If you've read it then let me know what you think!

23.1.16

BOOK REVIEW: You and Me Always by Jill Mansell

On the morning of Lily's twenty-fifth birthday, it's time to open the very last letter written to her by her beloved mother, who died when she was eight.
Learning more about the first and only real love of her mum's life is a revelation. On the same day, Lily also meets Eddie Tessler, a man fleeing fame who might just have the ability to change her world in unimaginable ways. But her childhood friend Dan has his own reasons for not wanting Lily to get too carried away by Eddie's attentions.
Before long, secrets begin to emerge and Lily's friends and family become involved. In the beautiful Cotswold village of Stanton Langley, nothing will ever be the same again. 

Publisher: Headline Review
Pages: 368
Publication Date: January 28th

Jill Mansell has now written over twenty best selling books but she just gets better and better. You and Me Always is warm, witty and poignant; I felt like I had always known the characters and I didn't want the story to end.
Lily's Mum died when she was just eight years old but she left behind letters for her daughter to open each birthday. But Lily is turning twenty-five and she knows that this will be the last letter. Her Mum uses it to tell Lily all about her one true love, not Lily's poor excuse for a father but a man that she spent one glorious summer with. On the same day that she reads the letter, she meets Eddie Tessler, a young movie star who is hiding out in Lily's village due to a media scandal. They instantly hit it off and Lily thinks he might just be what he needs. Her childhood friend Dan is not impressed but he has his own reasons to warn Lily off.
This book worked so well, the setting was just lovely and the characters bounced off each other perfectly. I loved the different storylines and the way in which Jill Mansell offered small glimpses into the past.
Eddie and Dan were excellent male leads and I could also see why they both cared deeply for Lily. The romantic element to this book was spot on and the banter between the three main characters was very funny.
You and Me Always is such a good read and I think Jill Mansell fans are going to be very impressed again.

Many thanks to Headline Review for allowing me to review this book via Netgalley. 

16.1.16

BOOK REVIEW: Follow Me by Angela Clarke

LIKE. SHARE. FOLLOW... DIE.
The 'Hashtag Murderer' posts chilling cryptic clues on-line, pointing to their next target. Taunting the police, enthralling the press. Capturing the public's imagination.
But this is no virtual threat.
As the number of his followers rise, so does the body count.
Eight years ago two young girls did something unforgivable. Now ambitious police officer Nasreen and investigative journalist Freddie are thrown together again in a desperate struggle to catch this cunning, fame-crazed killer. But can they stay one step ahead of him? And can they escape their own past?
Time's running out. Everyone is following the #murderer. But what if he is following you?
Online, no one can hear you scream?

Publisher: Avon

Follow Me by Angela Clarke is a riveting read and an excellent idea for a book. There is a serial killer on Twitter, they post cryptic clues on the social media site and the body count is going up. Unbelievably his followers increase and everybody is talking about the Hashtag Murderer.
Nasreen Cudmore is an up and coming police officer who is working on the case. Investigative journalist Freddie ends up on the case too; the two women were friends over eight years ago but a terrible secret has kept them apart. Are they going to be able to work together and what if anyone finds out what they did.
Follow Me is very much a cat and mouse story, the murderer always appears to be one step ahead and he is utilising Twitter to taunt the police in front of a huge audience.
I thought that Angela Clarke delivered an excellent plot with a really good, consistent pace. The story is so relevant to the world we live in and it really made me think about the on-line world and what people choose to show to others and what they hide.
Nasreen and Freddie were both good, solid characters. I enjoyed the story of the past and how they were linked but I was more focused on the murderer and how they were going to stop them.
I'm not 100% sure if the book would have such a big impact on someone who was not familiar with Twitter as it is quite a big concept to get your head round if you don't know how it works.
Angela Clarke is a new author for me and I really enjoyed this book. It felt very modern and relevant and the author held my attention whilst also giving me a lot to think about.

4.1.16

BOOK REVIEW: The Drowning Lesson by Jane Shemilt

Emma and Adam Goodhew are doctors at the top of their fields and so when they are offered the chance to take their three children to Africa for a year for a research placement, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. It's going to be an experience they'll never forget.
But for all the wrong reasons.
When Emma arrives home one night to the sickening sight of an empty cot, their family's dream turns into their worst nightmare.
Thousands of miles from home and from anyone who can help, they must discover the truth. Is this a random abduction, a tragic accident or something far more sinister?

Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 400

I was a big fan of Daughter by Jane Shemilt so I was very interested to see what she would do next. The Drowning Lesson was just as good and I would say slightly more gripping. The tension is there from the very first page and I felt as though I was holding my breath each time I picked the book up to read more.
Emma and Adam take their three young children  all the way to Botswana so that Adam can take up a research opportunity. Emma was reluctant to go but came round to the idea that it would be good for their whole family to experience together. Her idyllic world is shattered though when she returns home to find that Sam, her youngest has been taken from his cot. They are in a different country with different rules and procedures so they feel utterly terrified and completely useless. They know that they are going to have to do some of the detective work themselves but are they already too late?
My favourite part of this book was the African setting. Shemilt's descriptions were so vivid and I could easily imagine the Goodhew's surroundings. I really loved the witchcraft and ritual element to this book too and I thought it was dealt with very well.
I felt that Shemilt used Emma and Adam to really explore the family dynamic and the way the balance of power can shift between a couple, especially when children are involved. I can't say that I particularly liked Emma or Adam; I thought that they were both extremely selfish in their own ways. You don't need to like them in order to empathise with them when their son is taken. The author captured the terror, bewilderment and frustration of the situation plus the huge feelings of loss, grief and guilt.
The Drowning Lesson Lesson is an excellent read and Jane Shemilt clearly a talented storyteller.

Many thanks to Penguin for allowing me to review this book via NetGalley.

28.12.15

BOOK REVIEW: The Chocolate Lovers' Christmas by Carole Matthews

Christmas is just around the corner but the women of The Chocolate Lovers' Club have more to worry about than present shopping.
Lucy loves running Chocolate Heaven but she hasn't spent time with her boyfriend, Aiden in weeks. And then her ex-fiance turns up and things become even more complicated.
Nadia hasn't let herself get close to a man for a long time, yet she can't help feeling drawn to Jacob. Will he be her last chance for a happy ending?
Chantal and her husband, Ted, are besotted with their baby daughter Lana- but Chantal isn't sure that's enough to base a marriage on.
Autumn is dealing with a tragedy that has hit too close to home. But when she doesn't get the support she needs from her fiance, will she look elsewhere for comfort?

Publisher: Sphere
Pages: 470

I know it's nearly New Year but I think you still have a bit of time to fit one last festive read in and if I were you I would make it The Chocolate Lovers' Christmas by Carole Matthews. Chocolate and Christmas in one book- perfect!
It is the third book in this series but Carole introduces it very well so you could happily read it as a stand alone book.
Lucy is now running Chocolate Heaven (a speciality chocolate cafe) she is in her element but it is also a little harder than she has expected. Chantal is getting her head around being a new mum which is tough enough without your husband having recently welcomed another child with a different woman. Autumn is really struggling with her brother's death but is trying to put a brave face on it even though she is getting very little support from her fiance and Nadia is trying to do her best for her young son but it is tough being a single mum, especially when you can't find a job. The women rely on each other and Chocolate Heaven is a place of solace for all of them. Carole Matthews shows the strength of friendship and how these women go out of their way to support each other.
As always, Carole's writing is superb and it is clear to see how comfortable she is with these long standing characters, their friendship and interactions feel very natural and you are almost made to feel like part of their group as you are reading it. Their individual storylines are entertaining on their own merit but Carole brings them together and ties up all the lose ends all whilst keeping a brilliant pace.
The Chocolate Lovers' Christmas is great for this time of year; fun, festive and entertaining. Carole Matthews triumphs again!

17.12.15

BOOK REVIEW: This Secret We're Keeping by Rebecca Done

One student. One teacher. A controversial story that breaks all the rules.
Jess Hart has never forgotten Matthew Langley.
He was her first love when she was fifteen; but he was ten years older and her maths teacher at school. It ended in scandal, with his arrest and imprisonment.
Now 17 years later, a 42 year old Matthew arrives back in Norfolk with a new identity, a long-term girlfriend and a young daughter who know nothing of his past. Yet when he runs into Jess, long-suppressed memories of their love affair begin to be rekindled. But with so many secrets between them, will they ever be able to escape the damage they caused before?

Publisher: Michael Joseph
Pages: 480
Publication Date: April 7th 2016

This book was fantastic and I can't quite believe that this is Rebecca Done's debut novel.
Jess Hart and Matthew Langley fell in love with each other. The ten year age gap was not actually the problem; the problem was that he was her maths teacher and she was only fifteen. The inevitable happened and they were torn apart by the scandal. Seventeen years have passed and Matthew is back in Norfolk where he is bound to see Jess again. Life for him is very different; he has a whole new identity, a girlfriend and a young daughter who he dotes upon. But he can't ignore Jess or the past they share. Will Matthew still have feelings for the person he was punished for loving?
Rebecca Done's writing is superb, I loved the many questions that this book raised and I have found myself thinking about it long after I read the last page. I enjoyed the love story between Jess and Matt but just as I was becoming immersed in it, I would then remember their circumstances which would then lead me to look at it differently. Which is right and which is wrong? Did they truly love each other or did Matt take advantage of Jess when she was legally still classed as a child?
It was interesting to observe the balance of power in the relationship, at times I felt like Matthew had all the cards but as the story continued I could see just how powerful Jess was and the influence she had over Matthew.
I found the last few chapters of this book quite shocking which was just brilliant as they took me completely by surprise. Rebecca Done is an exciting new talent, this story was intriguing and powerful, I didn't want to put it down.

Many thanks to Michael Joseph for allowing me to review this book via Netgalley. 

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