Cwtch Up Catch Up 2017

2017 Cwtch Up

Hello Cwtchers!

After taking a bit of a blogging break, I’m back to share an end of year Cwtch Up Catch Up post on the lovely books I’ve cwtched up with in 2017. Despite the hiatus I managed to read quite a few books this year so I’ve gone with one sentence reviews to make it a tiny bit more manageable. (I’ve found this discipline really challenging as we know I do love to go on…and on….and on….)

Huge thanks to all the lovely publishers and authors who have really kindly worked with me this year. Apologies for the blog tours I missed due to being poorly, I’m now back on track and super-excited for all the new releases in 2018.

Big cwtches, Kate xx

Here we go, in no particular order…

Braving the Wilderness – Brené Brown

I’d highly recommend getting the audiobook version so that you can pretend that Brené is your best friend calling you to chat some southern-accented sense into you.

Need to Know – Karen Cleveland

A CIA analyst discovers she is married to a deep-cover agent in the Russian sleeper cell she’s tasked with investigating and you might seriously need a reminder to breathe.

Mad Girl – Bryony Gordon

I cried so much with painful recognition that my paperback copy looks like I dropped it in the bath and that’s the official story I will tell people.

Broken Branches – Lee M Jonathan

A big old tree has never been so creepy.

Every Last Lie – Mary Kubica

Grief and deceit get in the way of the desperate search for the truth about a fatal car crash and someone always knows more than you think.

Her Last Secret – Barbara Copperthwaite

A dark diary cleverly works backwards from a family tragedy to reveal the unexpected story behind a grisly un-festive Christmas Day.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne

Huge thwack on the table, epic Irish storytelling in stunning seven year updates.

The Confession – Jo Spain

You already know he did it, but you won’t stop turning the pages until you find out why.

How To Be A Grown Up – Daisy Buchanan

I made such hefty notes in this book I started to realise that if there was such a thing as a grown-up license I should probably have mine taken away from me.

Friend Request – Laura Marshall

Social media messages from beyond the grave confirm that school reunions are never a good idea.

The Postcard – Fern Britton

This sweet story will make you want to pack up and move to Cornwall & have scones with Fern.

Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig

Essential and lifechanging bitesize reading for anyone with a mind, healthy or otherwise.

Anything You Do Say – Gillian McAllister

Cleverly written thriller about a split-second decision which brilliantly alternates between the sliding doors consequences for both the truth and the lie.

Best Day Ever – Kaira Rouda

Chillingly creepy husband plans a perfect day for his wife which will give you all the holiday cabin envy as well as the shivers.

Ice Cream for Breakfast – Laura Jane Williams

Stunning rainbow sprinkled cover with even more stunning words inside which will make you stop, play and know that you’ve made a good decision to do so.

The Hygge Holiday – Rosie Blake

Grab a blanket, light a candle and prepare to be word-hugged by the cosiest book I read this year.

I Found You – Lisa Jewell

You will smugly think you know the connection between the two narratives and you may be very wrong.

Puzzle Girl – Rachael Featherstone

When you leave little love notes for a mystery man on a crossword book in your GP surgery.

The Little Shop of Hopes & Dreams – Fiona Harper

If your fledgling business is helping to stage grand gesture marriage proposals, falling in love for yourself isn’t always straightforward.

Copycat – Alex Lake

Sinister thriller which will make you consider deleting your facebook account.

You Do You – Sarah Knight

The third straightforward advice book from Sarah who is gorgeous, hilarious and perfectly balances ballsy no-nonsense profanity with delicate sentiment.

It Started With A Tweet – Anna Bell

When social media obsession goes bad, a countryside digital detox is the cure.

Yesterday – Felicia Yap

Fascinating concept where everyone can remember only the past 24 or 48 hours and there is a murder to solve.

Safe With Me – K.L Slater

A compelling tale of revenge, manipulation, loneliness, confusion and mistrust.

Kind Hearts & Coriander – April Hardy

Family saga in a country house hotel with a grumpy but gorgeous restaurant manager.

The Story of Our Life – Shari Low

Heartbreaking, bittersweet, emotional tale of love and loss.

Don’t Close Your Eyes – Holly Seddon

Estranged twin sisters’ paths cross again in an unsettling and powerful story.

The Honeymoon – Tina Seskis

A missing newly married man with a stomach-churning conclusion.

Hot Mess – Lucy Vine

Hilariously relatable and scarily accurate single girl freshness.

Follow You – Richard Parker

Whatever you do, don’t tweet #BeMyKiller.

Her Last Breath – Tracy Buchanan

Finding the twisted connections between a missing teenager and a soon-to-be-published food writer.

36 Questions that changed my mind about you – Vicki Grant

I definitely fell in love with this YA romance and I didn’t even need all 36 questions to confirm it.

Just For The Rush – Jane Lark

Significantly more substance than the usual steamy thrills.

Keep Me Safe – Daniela Sacerdoti

A brilliantly atmospheric novel, with just enough spookiness to keep you intrigued but not so much to scare your pants off.

The Picture House by The Sea – Holly Hepburn

Vintage dress-ups and really smart movie nostalgia make this a beachy dream.

Lies – T.M. Logan

A thrilling, twisty social media tale with a satisfying ending that you’ll race to get to.

The Secret Life of Lucy Lovecake – Pippa James

Sumptuous cakes, vintage lingerie and French passion.

The Summer House – Jenny Hale

Jenny never fails to create the most attractive leading men to swoon over, this summer love is no exception.

True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop – Annie Darling

A romance-only bookshop is the greatest idea in the world.

The Last Piece of My Heart – Paige Toon

If every relationship takes a little piece of your heart, this stunning story of stepping into someone else’s life is what happens when you reach the final piece.

Sweetpea – C.J. Skuse

A psycho serial killer has never made me laugh out loud so much.

The Ludlow Ladies Society – Ann O’Loughlin

Classic out-of-towner becomes charming community champion.

The Big Little Wedding in Carlton Square – Lilly Bartlett

Warm wedding feels with class issues and bunting.

The Break – Marian Keyes

Classic Keyes’ heartfelt lesson in when he asks for a relationship break, let him have it.

Mixing It Up – Tracie Banister

If TV chefs are the food of love, this is a feast.

Nineteen Letters – Jodi Perry

A strong contender for the most romantic book I’ve ever read.

The Dangers of Family Secrets – Debby Holt

Secrets, lies and mistrust.

The Beachside Sweet Shop – Karen Clarke

A lovely, gentle, feelgood read which will make you smile & crave a quarter of rosy apples.

To Have and To Hold – M.L.Roberts

Ended too soon, I really wanted more.

The Light We Lost – Jill Santopolo

The epic power of first love and serendipity.

Roadie: My Life on the Road with Coldplay – Matt McGinn

Interesting behind the scenes insight into stadium tours and being a rockstar sidekick.

The One That Got Away – Annabel Kantaria

A cautionary fidelity tale which reminds us that if someone is in our past, they’re usually behind us for a good reason.

Liar – K.L. Slater

A modern lesson to always listen to your Mum, her instincts are rarely mistaken.

The One – John Marrs

The obsessively intriguing dark side of love, science and DNA matchmaking.

The Cows – Dawn O’Porter

A sassy, smart & witty story which brilliantly captures a moment in our social media obsessed society.

The Choir on Hope Street – Annie Lyons

Uplifting community spirit still exists and it’s mostly found in song.

Rome is Where the Heart Is – Tilly Tennant

A perfect romantic holiday read, whether you’re actually leaving the house or just eating ice cream on your sofa.

The Idea of You – Amanda Prowse

An emotionally difficult but sensitively written story of miscarriage and motherhood.

The Kicking The Bucket List – Cathy Hopkins

Totally relatable bickering sisters are forced to strengthen their relationships through a series of challenges set by their departed mother.

The Escape – C.L. Taylor

The cliff scenes are some of the most exciting, pacey and exhilarating writing I’ve been totally immersed in for quite a while.

The People at Number Nine – Felicity Everett

A modern, dark suburban story about envy, new friendships and keeping up with the Jones’.

Everything But The Truth – Gillian McAllister

One late night email notification starts to unravel everything and you might want to start some low-key background checks on your loved one just as a precaution.

How To Mend a Broken Heart – Anna Mansell

If you’re a fan of a weepy with a soft side of gentle mystery then you’ll love this as much as I did.

Me, You & Tiramisu – Charlotte Butterfield

This will make you hungry for love and/or deli snacks but certainly not Youtube fame.

The Fifth Letter – Nicola Moriarty

A really interesting picture of toxic female friendships and frenemies.

The Breakdown – B.A. Paris

Sharp and smart domestic noir with a really clever title.

If ever I Fall – S.D. Robertson

Smarter than your average sad tale.

The Girl Before – J.P. Delaney

Alternating voices and repetition make a pacey, exciting thriller you’ll want to tell people about.

Paris for One and Other Stories – Jojo Moyes

A tidy little collection of lovely short stories.

How To Win Back Your Husband – Vivien Hampshire

A 30 day divorce deadline and a fight, fight, fight, fight, fight for this love (if it’s worth having it’s worth fighting for)

Good Me, Bad Me – Ali Land

Unnerving, uncomfortable & undeniably beautifully written.

Three Men and a Maybe – Katey Lovell

Include the word “cwtch” in your cute New Year novella and I’m guaranteed to love it.

The One Memory of Flora Banks – Emily Barr

For everyone who loves adventure and who believes that first kisses are unforgettable.

How to Stop Time – Matt Haig

Such a beautiful story, again I’d recommend the audio version so that you can cry without worrying about word blurring.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

A quirky tale of habit, loneliness and human kindness.

Phew….if you made it this far, well done! And thank you, big cwtches for 2018 xxxx

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

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

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! 

Sweetpea – C.J. Skuse

A psycho serial killer has never made me laugh out loud so much. 

Sweetpea is dark, shocking, witty and absolutely bloody hilarious. I loved it and cannot recommend it enough! 

Rhiannon has a boyfriend, a dog and a job she hates. So far so everyone. She also makes a daily list of people she’d like to kill. Slow walkers, the guy in Lidl who bruises her apples, drivers with no manners, you know the types. (To be fair, on my own personal psycho days – we all have them – I can totally relate.) The main difference is that Rhiannon ACTUALLY kills people. And she loves it. 

If you’re easily shocked then perhaps this isn’t for you, but if you like your humour dark with a huge dollop of twisted thoughts and quirky vitriol then you will love this as much as I do. 

It’s so cleverly written, you find yourself questioning how warmly you feel for someone you should probably hate. Extra bonus joy for cwtchers comes from the copious Welsh references, they are the chocolate sprinkles on this already delicious creamy killer latte. (That just got weird…sorry) 

Get your copy here, you definitely won’t regret it. A perfect five cwtches! 

Can’t decide what book to #CwtchUp with this spring weekend?

Let us help you decide!

Thinking of spring cleaning… feel productive from your sofa / garden chair / beneath your duvet. 

Food Cravings… all the deliciousness without a single calorie. 

Wish you were at the beach… you can almost hear the seagulls.

Dreaming of adventure… without even having to look for your passport.

In the mood for romance… swoooooooon.

Feel like a good cry… tea & tissues on standby.

Fancy a mind-blowing twist…. you’ll never guess the ending. 

Whatever book you decide to #cwtchup with, here’s to a wonderful long weekend!

Big cwtches

Kate x

Spring faves

Everything But The Truth – Gillian McAllister

We’re all hiding something

One late night email notification starts to unravel everything. 

You’d look, wouldn’t you? If it just flashed up in front of you? But exactly how far would you go to uncover the truth about the partner you realise you know very little about? 

This book has so many secrets and lies and twists and turns it made me dizzy. First I loved Rebecca, then I thought she was crazy-loco, then I loved her again, then I started to realise she’s harbouring her own secrets and I wasn’t too sure again….I also had the exact same rollercoaster with Jack. Both characters’ behaviour is really odd and unpredictable at times and I found the uncertainty about who I was rooting for really exciting in this story. Just like Rebecca it made me desperate for answers. 

Without giving away too much of the plot, I really enjoyed the reveals, I thought they were well-timed to keep you guessing but also keep you reading. I couldn’t resist just one more chapter and I absolutely love that feeling! 

You’ll learn a bit about Scottish law that perhaps you didn’t know before and you might want to start some low-key background checks just as a precaution. It scared me how much of Jack’s “other life” was able to be buried and adds another level of terror to my already toppling pile of fears around new relationships. Can you ever really know someone? Especially if your new love is saying all the right things? 

A really twisty read that you’ll whizz through to get to the truth, four cwtches! Thanks to Netgalley & the publishers for the chance to read and review honestly. Get your copy here

The Breakdown – B A Paris 

Ho Lee Wow. This book is an absolute belter. I completely love a bedtime book you can’t stop reading until your eyes won’t stay open. Warning: you might not sleep. 

Imagine you’re driving home alone on a stormy night, down an isolated country lane. It’s late, dark & creepy. You pass a fellow female driver who appears to have broken down. Do you stop? Pull over? Keep on driving? 

This story unravels following the decision that Cass takes that night. There has been a brutal murder in the country lane, strange things start to happen and she begins to question her own sanity. Is she going mad? Is she being stalked by the murderer who thinks she might have seen more than she actually did? 

The title is really clever – referring to both the car on the stormy night and Cass’ subsequent emotional distress following the event. I love a clever title! I’ve yet to read Paris’ 2016 release Behind Closed Doors but after finishing this one, it’s definitely getting a spot on my toppling tbr pile. 

I really enjoyed this one – thanks Netgalley & Harlequin – and I read it super-fast. If you like your domestic noir sharp, clever & with some lovely twists & turns then you’ll love this too. 

A top smart five cwtches! Get your copy here

Behind Her Eyes – Sarah Pinborough 

I’ve started to write this post so many times, but each time it has resulted in a word-vomit pile of fangirl blathering. I’m afraid this time is no different. 

Warning – this review will contain A LOT of love for this book, its author and its legendary (I swear I’m not exaggerating) #WTFthatending which I promise not to spoil. 

To restrict my gushy gushball gushing, I have just 5 little things to say…

1. You have to read this book. I have never ever been so taken aback & surprised by a story and EVERYONE ON EARTH should get to experience that feeling. It is rare. It is special. It is CHUFFING BRILLIANT. 

2. Props to whoever came up with the hashtag #WTFthatending. I kept seeing it everywhere which prompted me to do a bit of searching & request the title on Netgalley (thank you lovely publishers) Due to the nature of this type of “Have you read it yet?” campaign, lots of people are talking about this book but thankfully not saying too much. 

3. Anyone who says they guessed the ending is a big old LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE. Only the beautifully brilliant author Sarah Pinborough could conceive of such exquisite intricacies and fascinating characters. 

4. You WILL go back and re-read this book again once you’ve finished. Allow time for this. It’s part of the process. You will stock up on tea & chocolate digestives. They are necessary. You will search for a support group to discuss it with. I am here for you. 

5. In case there was any doubt, BUY THIS BOOK NOW. Five cwtches.