#bookreview: Bring Me Back by @BAParisAuthor

Format: Paperback
Publisher: HQ Stories
Published: 1st March 2018
Pages: 384 Pages
Genre: Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery Thriller; Crime.

The Blurb
A young British couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she’s not inside. No one ever sees her again.

Ten years later he’s engaged to be married; he’s happy, and his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She’s turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love.

As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

Purchase the book: Amazon UK | Book Depository

The Review

Bring Me Back will be the third book that I have read by BA Paris and as always, I was not disappointed. However, it was probably my least favourite of her novels. Paris’s other books include The Breakdown and Behind Closed Doors – all with a thriller/crime feel.

Told in three parts, Bring Me Back is the story of Layla and her disappearance. Finn, her (ex?) boyfriend, is the narrator whereby he talks you through his own ramblings, as well as his relationship with Layla’s sister Ellen (oh er). I’ll have to admit that I felt a little awkward knowing that Finn was planning to marry Layla’s sister Ellen, regardless of how long Layla had been missing for (12 years!). Part of me hopes that he was doing it because he actually did love Ellen, rather than to be with her because she reminded him of Layla.

You also get to read the narrative of an unknown character that is playing with Finn’s head. Is it Layla? his friend Harry, or someone else? The ending will reveal all.

A clever story of mind games, sleep deprivation and what, when, how, why’s? – you may also experience a lack of sleep too because you just have to find out if Layala is back! However, let’s be honest here and say that (to me) it wasn’t as action-packed as I thought it was going to be. I’d say it was more of a calculated and well-thought-out story that left you feeling content with reading for a few hours.

Other book reviews commented on how obvious the ending was – totally don’t understand that. They must be great detectives because I had NO idea that was going to be the outcome. Yes, I did try and think about who took Layla because she wouldn’t have just left on her own accord – that’s not a spoiler! However, I never imagined the ending to be how it was.

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#authorinterview: The Summer of Hopes and Dreams by Lynsey James

Happy Friday everyone. How are we all doing? Hopefully, not too cold I hope! The UK is currently experiencing the #BeastFromTheEast, so there’s lots of snow and we’re all freezing cold(!). One positive is that it’s the perfect weather for staying in and reading. 🙂

Today at A Book and Tea, I’m joined by the lovely Lynsey James, author of The Summer of Hopes and Dreams. You may also be familiar with her other books The Broken Hearts Book Club and Just the Way You Are. If you’re not, get downloading now!

So, let’s get to it…

The Summer of Hopes and Dreams is your latest release, although I’m going to post a fabulous book review later, can you give us a brief synopsis?

Lynsey: Sure! The Summer of Hopes and Dreams is all about Cleo, who’s lost her way a little bit in life. She’s been dealt a bad hand and hasn’t had it easy in life. But finding her teenage bucket list changes everything! She starts embracing life again and even meets a hunky personal trainer named after an iconic Neighbours character.

Cleo Jones has parts of her life and personality that we can all relate to. This is something I love in a character – was this your intention or just something that naturally came about?

Lynsey: A bit of both really – I wanted Cleo to be really relatable as a character, and for people to see elements of themselves in her. At the same time though, her personality was just so strong in my head as I was writing. I knew exactly the kind of person I wanted her to be, and so did she!

There’s a serious topic of weight loss and eating disorders, they were written perfectly within the novel, did you find this difficult to write?

Lynsey: I did because elements of it were quite personal. Like Cleo, I’ve experienced body dysmorphia and have had my own journey with it in the last couple of years. I wanted to make sure I portrayed the themes in the book sensitively without seeming like I was skating over them. There were a couple of scenes that took some time to write because I really wanted to nail the emotional impact. That sometimes meant delving quite deeply into my own experiences, which wasn’t always easy. I’m happy with how they came out though.

Cleo’s dream is to become a dance teacher. What are your hopes and dreams for 2018? Unless you’ve completed some already!

Lynsey: Ooh good question! The main one is to keep writing, which I’m working on right now. I’ve always got about a million ideas in my head anyway! Other than that, I’m trying to be a bit more active and healthier, which is going pretty well so far. I can’t say no to cake though.

What exciting books can we expect from you in the future?

Lynsey: I’m working on an idea right now that I absolutely LOVE. I can’t say too much about it because it’s really early days on it, but it may be my favourite book yet. Watch this space for more news…

And lastly, everyone who visits A Book and Tea gets asked this question, how do you take your tea?

Lynsey: Milk and two sugars, please!

About Lynsey James

Lynsey James Author Photo

Lynsey was born in Fife and is an incurable bookworm. A careers adviser at school once told her writing wasn’t a “good option”, so Lynsey has tried a little bit of everything, including makeup artistry, teaching and doing admin for a chocolate fountain company. Now, she finally has fulfilled her dream and is writing full-time. When not writing, eating cake or drinking tea, she’s daydreaming about the day Matthew Gray Gubler finally realises they’re meant to be together. It’ll happen one day. Follow her on Twitter at @Lynsey1991

About the book

The Summer of Hopes and Dreams cover

Format: E-book
Publisher: HQ Digital
Published: 11th September 2017
Pages: 384 Pages
Genres: Chick Lit, Romance, Disorders

The Blurb

It’s been a difficult year for Cleo Jones. The car accident that crushed her leg didn’t just destroy the village baker’s dreams of becoming a dancer but crushed her confidence too. And recovering from that has been harder than healing from any number of broken bones…

But this season is going to be different. Life is turning around for Cleo! Maybe it’s the invitation from her childhood bully to their high-school reunion that’s shocked her out of a ten-year slump. Or joining Carb Counters and finally starting to shed the weight she’d piled on during her recovery – or maybe it’s catching the eye of her gorgeous personal trainer!

Whatever the answer, this is going to be a feeling she never forgets… watch out world, Cleo Jones is finally fighting back!

Purchase the book: Amazon UK

The Review

Cleo is a girl that we can all relate to. She’s changing her ways and everyone can see her smile fill her face. It’s no secret that she’s having to deal with a few personal issues that seem to rear their ugly head. However, the warm arms of a stranger bring her joy. I loved Cleo, well, who wouldn’t? She’s the type of girl you want to be friends with (she bakes!).

The Summer of Hopes and Dreams is a story about new beginnings and learning to love yourself – let’s spread the word.

#bookreview: East of Hounslow by @KhurrumRahman

Today, I’m part of the #EastofHounslow blog tour in association with HQ Stories! Here you’ll find my thoughts and feelings on Khurrum Rahman’s debut novel in my review below.

About the Book

East of Hounslow book coverFormat: Paperback
Published: 30th November 2017
Publisher: HQ Stories
Pages: 384 Pages
Genres: Contemporary

The Blurb
Meet Jay.
Small-time dealer.
Accidental jihadist.
The one man who can save us all?

Javid – call him Jay – is a dope dealer living in West London. He goes to the mosque on Friday, and he’s just bought his pride and joy – a BMW. He lives with his mum, and life seems sweet. But his world is about to turn upside-down. Because MI5 have been watching him, and they think he’s just the man they need for a delicate mission. One thing’s for sure: now he’s a long way East of Hounslow, Jay’s life will never be the same again. With the edgy humour of Four Lions and the pulse-racing tension of Nomad, East of Hounslow is the first in a series of thriller starring Jay Qasim.

Purchase the book: Amazon UK | Book Depository

The Review

What can I say? The East of Hounslow was brilliant. A contemporary piece of fiction that screams dark humour and more.

Javid Qasim, or Jay as he is better known, lives in Hounslow and is a small-time drug dealer. On a Friday he attends prayers and for the rest of the week, it’s all about sex, drugs and alcohol. However, his exploits don’t go unnoticed as MI5 want Jay as their new recruit. This petty criminal is enlisted as an undercover agent asked to spy on a possible Islamist cell operating in Hounslow.

Jay, at first, was a character that I felt like I wasn’t going to connect with. However, his honest humour and energy made me warm to his qualities. Yes, he’s committing an offence, but he’s not a malicious person. It was also interesting to learn about his culture and religion. Khurrum Rahman includes phrases and events that anyone who doesn’t belong to the faith would normally not hear about.

The story is packed full of energy, twists and turns, plus a mind-blowing ending that leaves you wanting more.

I recently found out that the East of Hounslow is book one in the series – I cannot wait to read more!

East of Hounslow blog tour image

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#bookreview: The Invisible Crowd by @ellenwiles

Pick up The Invisible Crowd (if you haven’t done so already!), it’ll open your eyes about immigration and get you thinking about contemporary issues that we all face daily.

About the Book

Format: Hardback
Publisher: HQ Stories
Published: 2nd November 2017
Pages: 432 Pages
Genres: Immigration, Legal, Contemporary.

The Blurb

2nd March 1975

In Asmara, Eritrea, Yonas Kelati is born into a world of turmoil. At the same time, on the same day, Jude Munroe takes her first breath in London, England.

Thirty Years Later

Blacklisted in his war-ravaged country, Yonas has no option but to flee his home. After a terrible journey, he arrives on a bleak English coast.

By a twist of fate, Yonas’ asylum case lands on Jude’s desk. Opening the file, she finds a patchwork of witness statements from those who met Yonas along his journey: a lifetime the same length of hers, reduced to a few scraps of paper.

Soon, Jude will stand up in court and tell Yonas’ story. How she tells it will change his life forever.

Purchase the book: Amazon UK | Book Depoistry

The Review

The Invisible Crowd is the work of Human rights lawyer Ellen Wiles. The idea was based on her own personal experiences with an Eritrean asylum seeker and their case.

“I felt furious about the chasm of language between asylum seekers’ experiences and the ways in which they were being written about. On the one hand, the legal documents I had were dry and factual. On the other hand, all the tabloid headlines painted asylum seekers as swarms of liars and scroungers. Both felt so far from the truth. I looked around for novels about asylum seekers, but at the time there were very few. So I decided I had to try to write one.”

Yonas is an asylum seeker and Jude is his lawyer. They both share the same birthday but come from two different worlds. Each chapter is told through the eyes of someone who has a connection to Yonas and obviously, Yonas’s own feelings too. It’s interesting to read about how many people were touched by Yonas in some way or another. Whether this is through trying to help him, or just a simple conversation on the daily commute. Times like this should encourage other’s to stop and talk to people, rather than ignoring those they think are “different”.

The Invisible Crowd opened my eyes in so many ways. I’m quite an empathetic person, so when I see the headlines in newspapers about people trying to get to the UK for a better life, I do feel incredibly humble for what I have. However, to the extent of which they try and get here, is another story. You just don’t know the struggles they face at home, imagine living in a wartorn place where you and your family don’t feel safe.

Ellen turns her experiences into a harrowing story that puts things in perspective. You’re usually unaware of an asylum seeker’s backstory and their journey and tend to distance yourself, well, The Invisible Crowd won’t let you. Aslym seekers and refugees are human too.

For more backstory on the ideas behind The Invislbe Crowd, visit Indie Thinking’s Q and A with author Ellen here.

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#bookreview: A Puppy Called Hugo by Fiona Harrison (@Fionajourno)

So, I’m back with another #bookreview about cute little puppies and pugs. Join Percy and Hugo on their happy (and sad) adventure.

You may have noticed that it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Well, let’s just say I’ve had trouble with my eyes and they’ve been all crusty and disgusting! I’m still not 100% better. However, I can sit at my laptop and write, so that’s one positive, right?

I’d also like to let everyone know that I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, are you? Let me know in the comments below! Anyway, onto the review:

About the Book

A Puppy Called Hugo Front CoverFormat: E-book (Kindle)
Publisher: HQ Stories
Published: 19th October 2017
Pages: 384 Pages
Genres: Contemporary, Animals

The Blurb
Following hot on the paws from the bestselling A Pug Like Percy, the nation’s favourite pug is back! And this time, Percy has puppies…
Percy the pug has found a loving home with Gail, Simon and their daughter Jenny. But now it’s time for Percy’s new puppies to fly the dog bed, and become a companion to someone in need – which turns out to be closer to home than the family first think…

On a visit to Gail’s parents, Percy begins to suspect that all is not well with Eric, Gail’s father. And when he suffers a nasty fall and is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Percy knows just who to send to the rescue – adorable pup Hugo.

Can Hugo help Eric through the tough times, and grow into the kind of Pug to make Percy proud?

Purchase the book: Amazon UK / Book Depository

The Review

Percy and his four-legged friends are back for the next instalment into their fluffy lives.

Here’s the backstory: Percy is a cute little pug left abandoned at a Dog’s Shelter by his previous owner. In steps Gail, a caring individual that falls for Percy straight away. In a previous instalment, A Pug Like Percy, tells us all about Percy and Gail’s relationship and their bond. However, A Puppy called Hugo is a story about Percy’s new puppy son, Hugo.

The story is narrated by Percy the dog. I will admit that you often found yourself thinking Percy is a human, until he barks or chases after a ball. It’s a refreshing change from the norm, which I believe is a good thing in a saturated market.

Hugo is a cheeky little chap and often causes problems for his parents – they are getting frustrated. However, they love him dearly. Everyone is more concerned about Gail’s family as they’re having to cope with Alzheimer’s Disease. I can’t imagine what it’s like to care for someone you love and they don’t remember who you are. Also, the person suffering, oh, it’s just heartbreaking. Sometimes it’s the little things that help, and Percy and Hugo aid the diagnosis and provide some much-needed care and affection for the family.

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#bookreview: The Treatment by C.L Taylor (@callytaylor)

About the book

Format: Paperback
Publisher: HQ Stories
Published: 19th October 2017
Pages: 384 Pages
Genres: YA, Contemporary; Thriller.

The Blurb

All sixteen-year-old Drew Finch wants is to be left alone. She’s not interested in spending time with her mum and stepdad and when her disruptive fifteen-year-old brother Mason is expelled from school for the third time and sent to a residential reform academy she’s almost relieved.

Everything changes when she’s followed home from school by the mysterious Dr Cobey, who claims to have a message from Mason. There is something sinister about the ‘treatment’ he is undergoing. The school is changing people.

Determined to help her brother, Drew must infiltrate the Academy and unearth its deepest, darkest secrets. Before it’s too late.

Purchase the book: Amazon UK | Book depository


You’re probably familiar with C.L Taylor’s The Missing, The Lie and The Accident. But, Taylor has set upon the Young Adult world with her new novel The Treatment.

Set in a Residential Reform Academy, sixteen-year-old Drew Finch needs to save herself and her brother. Her brother Mason is classed as an unruly teenager, but sending him away from home won’t help, surely? Drew needs to investigate the RRA and get her brother out – she’s not convinced it’s as innocent as people suggest. The academy is shrouded in secrecy and its residents know nothing of its treatments. In fact, neither do we, until Drew is subjected to how they are ‘reformed’. Let’s just say it doesn’t involve talking things through!

Prior to her admission, she researches the academy, but finds no evidence of its wrongdoings, or ‘bad nature’.  She finds a lone SnapChat user (YA reference) that warns her about what can happen; they meet, Drew gets worried and is admitted into the RRA.

Given that Drew was admitted to the academy for being troublesome only once, she put herself through a lot for the sake of her brother. I understand she cared for him deeply, but believing the words of one woman who she barely knows seems strange. She’s a kick-ass character that takes no crap and makes unlikely friends in other residents that help her out.

The Treatment was incredibly fast-paced and action-packed, with points of apprehension that left you asking: why/what/who?! The YA nature pops out in the form of your ‘typical’ teenage lifestyle. Drew has a high school bully, she’s insecure and is a young girl unsure of her feelings. I say typical quite loosely because I’m sure not every teenage experience the above. As much as I am a YA advocate, some adults may think the nature of Drew and her friends is a little childish, but that’s all preference really.

After reading C.L. Taylor’s YA offering, I should probably put some of her other novels in my basket, too! I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.

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