The One That Got Away – Annabel Kantaria

We’ve all got that one Ex we still think about. C’mon. We all do it. Wondering “what if..?” and curious about where they are now and if they still think of you too…maybe minor-stalking their Instagram and dissecting their taste in interiors and holiday destinations…..(just me?)

Stella and George haven’t seen each other in fifteen years, when a school reunion invitation pops up and brings them back together. Both have successful careers and George has since married. The spark between them however hasn’t dimmed over the years; they just can’t resist each other and embark on an illicit affair. 

Secrets, lies, deceit and manipulation are all explored within this book and although it’s pretty clear what is actually going on, knowing doesn’t detract from the intrigue and in fact only makes you want to see how it all plays out. Very much in the vein of Gone Girl, you’ll love this if you enjoy a modern domestic drama with some good old fashioned power play and revenge. 

A cautionary tale which reminds us that if someone is in our past, they’re usually behind us for a good reason. Four cwtches. Get your copy here


Liar – K L Slater

Perfect wife. Perfect stepmother. Perfect stranger

Judi is a lovely Mum who looks out for her son Ben. He is a bereaved single Dad with two adorable boys. Judi does their washing, pops around to clean his house and takes care of her grandsons after school. She is hugely involved in their lives with the very best of intentions as any Mum would be in the same circumstances. 

Then Ben meets Amber, seemingly a perfect match for him. Something about her just doesn’t quite add up. Call it mother’s instinct…but Judi sees through Amber’s sweetness to a much darker core. How can she protect Ben & her grandsons when everyone else thinks she’s overreacting and simply feeling “pushed out” and jealous of the new woman in their lives? 

As a reader it’s really frustrating that no-one seems to take Judi’s fears seriously – you want to shake them and make them listen, especially after one of the boys is left alone. Surely that’s enough to raise suspicions of anyone? C’mon! What’s a Judi got to do to be HEARD by the men in her life?! It is fascinating to see the interaction between the two women, the point scoring and power play. Also really interesting to explore the seldom-heard older woman versus the know-it-all younger female who bedazzles the male characters. 

This book is fast-paced and exciting with an unexpected conclusion. With hindsight, the clues were very much there but I missed them! A modern lesson to always listen to your Mum, her instincts are rarely mistaken…four cwtches. It’s out later this week, you can pre-order your copy here

Lies – T M Logan

It’s the classic, one seemingly innocuous decision which starts a chain of unstoppable events likely to unravel your entire life. Joe spots his wife’s car pulling into a hotel car park when she should be at work and in the moment he decides to pop & say hello, everything is changed forever. 

A man goes missing. Joe’s life starts to fall apart as he struggles to keep his marriage, career and reputation in tact, when everything is stacked against him. 

When your whole life is based on lies…

Technology and social media play a huge part in the plot which adds an extra element of fear as we see how easily lies can be manipulated to appear as truth. Is anything real? Who can he trust? 

You really feel for Average Joe and although he’s not the most dynamic leading man, I enjoyed his perspective. I totally thought I had it all figured out around halfway into the book and I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

I won’t lie, this is a thrilling, twisty read with a satisfying ending that you’ll race to get to. Four cwtches. Get your copy here

The Honeymoon – Tina Seskis

I think it’s safe to say that this book wasn’t at all what I expected. 

On the honeymoon of a lifetime in the Maldives, Jemma’s new husband goes missing. Is he dead or alive? Has he been kidnapped or had second thoughts & run away? Here begins our mystery in paradise. 

Through flashback chapters we start to uncover the complications in Jamie & Jemma’s relationship (I mean, if you’re going to sleep with brothers…) and her preoccupation with getting a ring on it. 

Jemma is a self-obsessed nightmare and I honestly couldn’t stand her character. If I was stuck at a holiday resort with her I’d probably go missing too, if only to briefly get away from her for a bit. But is that what happened to Jamie? Has she driven him away? 

This book made me feel unwell. (Hey Publishers, you can use that quote in the marketing campaign if you like? You’re welcome) 

Here is my Goodreads update, just after I’d finished the book…

….and my stomach churns again when I think about the conclusion to this story. I doubt you’ll expect it, but I’m pretty sure you’ll love it. 

A great holiday #CwtchUp read with an ending you won’t see coming (Is it REALLY a twist if you KNOW it’s a twist?…..) Four cwtches. 

The Honeymoon is out later this week, so you can pre-order your copy here

Rome is where the heart is – Tilly Tennant 

Some things I love: 

1. Italy

2. Romance

3. A swoony handsome love interest

4. A sassy leading lady called Kate

5. Travelling without leaving the sofa

This book has all of that PLUS gelato. Soooooo…’s pretty much a given that I’m going to LOVE it. 

Ditched by her rubbish husband on Friday 13th, Kate packs her suitcase full of her quirky homemade couture and jumps on a plane to Rome. Obvs. 

There we meet a colourful cast of characters including the brooding romantic Alessandro, a policeman who steps in to help our heroine when she’s had one too many glasses of vino (we’ve all been there…but perhaps just not on The Spanish Steps). With his protective Mama and five sisters, will their love ever get off the ground? 

Set in a such beautiful city, this book makes you feel like you’re actually walking the cobbled streets of Rome, tasting the delicious food & sipping on the finest Italian wine. When really I was wrapped in a blanket, munching on a hobnob and nursing a mug of sweet tea (it’s been a tough week) I love to travel!

A perfect holiday read, whether you’re actually leaving the house or staycation-ing like me. (Even better when you know the follow-up book is out now too…I won’t tell you the title because it kinda gives it away….) Get your Italian Escape here….a bene five cwtches! 

The Cows – Dawn O’Porter

There’s a side to social media and mobile phone culture that I really don’t like. It’s the shaming photo/video of someone who doesn’t realise their image is being captured, then being uploaded online for the world to judge and share. There are pages dedicated to it, women applying make-up on public transport, people eating lunch, tube snoozers; Eurgh. 

I dislike this trend for two main reasons 1. It could easily be me one day. I sometimes touch up my make-up on a journey, I eat lunch daily and I’ve been known to have a snooze once in a while. To think that at any time I could become “internet famous” and shamed for minding my business and doing any of those things is ludicrous. And 2. Behind each “hilarious” photo or video, there is a human being with feelings who didn’t consent to being photographed or filmed. 

(Having said all of that, I’ve realised that I’m a big old giant hypocrite….have you SEEN Hot Dudes Reading? OMIGOSH. Sorry. We are all flawed.)

In The Cows, single Mum Tara finds herself going viral after one particular train journey which is captured and shared online. Cam is a successful lifestyle blogger, sharing her honest views and opinions with the world. Stella is dealing with the loss of her twin sister and mother to cancer and coming to terms with her genetic destiny. 

Between the three women, there’s a lot going on and the story cleverly weaves everything together through the consequences of their decisions. Unafraid to approach difficult and controversial themes, Dawn O’Porter has created a really sassy, smart & witty story which captures a moment in our social media obsessed society in a very entertaining way. 

I absolutely loved this book. It is topical, bold, empowering, courageous and funny. Thanks to Netgalley & the lovely publishers for the opportunity to review honestly (always). 

Also….side note….the cover is gorgeous and I love the “Don’t Follow The Herd” message. Dawn’s hair is also swoonworthy. So bouncy. So shiny. So beautiful. That’s of zero relevance to the book or this review but I felt I’d be doing an injustice to beautiful hair if it was left unsaid. 

Get your copy here. From me it’s a definitely-not-following-the-herd-but-I-loved-it five cwtches. 

#CwtchUp for 5 with Kate Glanville #WelshWritersWed

This week we’ve got a bonus midweek post to celebrate #WelshWritersWed and we’re hosting an author Q & A with megababe Kate Glanville! 
(Pop over to @CwtchUpBooks on Twitter to see how you can win a signed copy of one of Kate’s books on #WelshWritersWed) 

Grab a cuppa & let’s Cwtch Up for five…

1. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

The best thing about being a writer is being able to escape from reality into a fantasy land.When I was a child I loved playing with my dolls house, creating exciting scenarios, dramatic situations and tumultuous relationships for the tiny dolls who lived in it. My novels are just a continuation of playing with my dolls house except instead of doing it alone, within the confines of my bedroom, now I can share the stories in the pages of my books. The stories seem to bubble up from my subconscious and the characters develop personalities and take shape until they are almost real people to me. It’s like having an extra life running parallel with my own! 

2. Writing or reading? 

Writing. I like reading. I’d hate to not have a good book ‘on the go’ but I love writing my own stories. Creating a work of fiction is very hard work (not dissimilar to giving birth) but the sense of achievement is immense. To express the stories in my head on paper is great therapy and I become totally immersed in a way I find it hard to do when I’m reading. 

3. What kind of books do you like to Cwtch Up with? 

I’m very fond of Irish women – from Edna O’Brian to Marian Keyes via Maeve Binchey and Anne Enright – whether light and funny or dark and tragic I can always depend on an Irish woman for a good story. 

4. What are the biggest pitfalls for aspiring writers (and how do you avoid them)? 

Expecting too much too fast! When I finished my manuscript for my first novel ‘A Perfect Home’ I thought the process would be very quick – I’d find an agent, find a publisher and have a book in my hands within a few months – each step took at least eighteen months – the world of publishing moves very slowly! I also thought that after I was published I might be expected to go on a book tour – signings in Waterstones, readings at arts centres, maybe some talks at literature festivals -possibly Hay? – I asked my agent – she said ‘who do you think you are? Joanna Trollope!’  

5. What’s your favourite part of Wales and why? 

My favourite part of Wales is where I live. Llandeilo has it all; gorgeous architecture – with its multicoloured Georgian houses and pretty shopfronts lining the main street and lovely shops, bars, restaurants and cafes. Beautiful Dinefwr Park is on its doorstep and the foothills of The Brecon Beacons create a scenic backdrop, hinting at wilderness and solitude not far away – for those days when I feel the need to escape!

Absolute heaven for writers and readers alike! Huge thanks to Kate for joining us on #WelshWritersWed. Fancy a giveaway? 

You can get a copy of Perfect Home here, or pop over to Twitter to see how you can win your very own signed copy, woot! 

(International giveaway, closes at midnight (UK time) on Tues 16th May 2017, see Twitter for details) Good luck Cwtchers! 

The One – John Marrs 

Being single I get my fair share of platitudes on holding out for The One – “there’s someone out there for everyone”, “what’s meant for you won’t pass you by” and my personal favourite “There’s a lid for every pot”. But what if I am LIDLESS and simply UNCONTAINABLE? What if I’m a wok? These are the kind of crisis questions I deal with, then get tearful over gin with my reassuring mates stroking my hair. (“Ssshh, it’s ok, you’re not a wok.”) 

But what if scientists had discovered the “match” gene and could link you with your one true love via a simple DNA test? The clever people could find this pot’s lid! And what’s more, it’s pretty much guaranteed to fit because Science says so. Hurrah! 

This is such a brilliant premise for a book and immediately poses the question – would you take the test? It seems like a no-brainer until you get into the various individual lines of this genius story by John Marrs and discover the beautiful complications of love – even by design – can never be eradicated by science. 

I absolutely loved this! For me, one of my true measures of book-joy is how often I talk to people about what I’m currently reading. I honestly didn’t shut up about this and every person commented on what a brilliant idea it is. (And secretly how we’d like the scientific discovery to be true….until I hint at the potential pitfalls of matching) 

Although the book is about love, if you’re looking for soppy romance then you’re in the wrong place. This is the dark side of love. When you read it for yourself you’ll appreciate the individual threads that come together to weave a picture of a society where compatibility is made more certain. And you’d probably assume that would be a good thing (until the serial killer and stuff…) 

What if your match was on the other side of the world? Or dead? Or a psychopath? 

I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s a smart, twisted, beautifully written story that you’ll certainly fall in love with, right from the very first page. It’s definitely one of those books where your heart starts to race, you suddenly feel breathless, light-headed, flushed and like it’s meant to be. Almost like you’re MATCHED with it or something? C’mon bookworms, we all know that book-love feeling, right? 

And if what’s meant for you shouldn’t pass you by, then you really should pick up your copy here

A perfect five cwtches. More please! 

Keep Me Safe – Daniela Sacerdoti

“Your child asks for her mother. But she doesn’t mean you.”

This is a brilliantly atmospheric novel, with just enough spookiness to keep you intrigued but not so much to scare your pants off. Throw in some romance in a unique location and you’ve got yourself a really lovely book to Cwtch Up with. 

When her husband walks out, Anna is left to raise their daughter Ava by herself. Recognising that this life-changing moment would have an emotional impact, when Ava starts behaving strangely Anna initially puts it down to the stressful time they’re having. But when Ava starts taking about her “other Mummy” and longing for the place she calls home, Anna starts to seriously question what’s going on inside her little girl’s mind. 

You might have to suspend disbelief to really enjoy the paranormal element of the story, but trust me, go with it, you won’t be disappointed. (That’s not usually my cup of tea, but surprisingly I did really enjoy it) 

The setting of Seal Island is described so vividly, you could almost be there and the romance is just lovely. A really cosy read, four cwtches. Get your copy here

The Idea of You – Amanda Prowse

This book is beautifully written, touching and packed full of emotion. The heartbreak of miscarriage and its impact on lives and relationships is tenderly depicted through Lucy & Jonah’s marriage. When Jonah’s teenage daughter from a previous relationship comes to stay with them, the pressure becomes all too much to bear and Lucy has to confront the true meaning of motherhood. 

I love to Cwtch Up with a family drama, it’s the literary equivalent of a hot drink and a blanket. Amanda writes in this genre so brilliantly, I’m a huge fan. Knowing that she herself has personal experience of this particular form of heartbreak makes it an even more poignant and meaningful read. Amanda is writing from her truth and that raw emotion adds such a powerful level of feeling to the story. I can only imagine the pain and heartache women like Lucy go through. Imagining becomes much easier when amazing writers like Amanda describe it so sensitively. 

An emotionally difficult but important read, five cwtches. Get your copy here