Bitter by Francesca Jakobi




Title:                                            Bitter

Author:                                        Francesca Jakobi

Genre:                                          Women’s’ Fiction

Publisher:                                   Weidenfeld & Nicolson

ISBN-10:                                       147460756X

ISBN-13:                                        978-1474607568

Date of Publication:                 4th October 2018 (paperback)

Date of Review:                         24th September 2018



It’s 1969, and while the summer of love lingers in London, Gilda is consumed by the mistakes of her past. She walked out on her beloved son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he will never forgive her. When Reuben marries Alice, he seems transformed by love – a love Gilda has craved his entire adult life. What does his new wife have that she doesn’t? And how far will she go to find out? It’s an obsession that will bring shocking truths about the past to light . . .

My Review

Structured around short, fast-paced chapters, this first-person narrative is told from the perspective of Gilda: a twice-divorced, middle-aged woman whose only child has just married. Whilst the protagonist has been characterised as a stereotypical, over-bearing, Jewish mother, this characterisation is uniquely three-dimensional, where past and present timelines are brought together allowing the reader to empathise with Gilda’s heart-breaking story.

Affected by events of the past, Gilda’s relationship with her son, Rueben, is a distant one and her jealousy towards Rueben’s adoration of his new wife soon becomes an obsession for Gilda. But whilst the plot has an abundance of melancholic scenes, these are lifted by the narrator’s wonderfully dry sense of humour, which is prevalent right from the very start. The author’s strong metaphorical imagery is closely linked to this humour: ‘I planned this outfit months ago but this tight, white suit is too tight and too white. And this hat, all the netting …’.

The novel’s title is also metaphorical, with bitter being German for please. As a German girl living in an English boarding school in the early 1930s, when Gilda accidentally reverts to her native language with the use of the word bitter instead of please, she is ridiculed; highlighting Gilda’s both physical and metaphorical displacement in life.

Whilst I wouldn’t call this novel a psychological thriller as such, Gilda’s obsession towards her daughter-in-law comes very close to the line. There are moments of high suspense which will have you holding your breath, which together with its tight chapter structure, makes for an incredible edge-of-the-seat ride: just one little push and things could have turned very nasty indeed on more than one occasion!

But whilst this story has hints of a creepy psychological thriller, it is more a story of love, kindness, and true enduring friendship. This was a thoroughly enjoyable debut and I look forward to reading more from this author. I recommend this book to anybody who likes Carol Mason, Kit de Waal, or  Mary Paulson-Ellis

Under Literature Love’s rating scheme this book has been awarded 5 out of 5 stars.


I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down. I recommend you stop what you’re doing and go and buy this book now!

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley

for an Advance Review Copy of this book

in return for an honest and unbiased review.


About the Author

Francesca studied psychology at the University of Sussex, followed by a stint teaching English in Turkey and the Czech Republic. On returning to her native London she got a job as a reporter on a local paper and has worked in journalism ever since. She’s currently a layout editor at the Financial Times.

Bitter is her first novel, inspired by her grandmother who was sued for divorce in the 1940s.




I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

I Invited Her In



Title:                                           I Invited Her In

Author:                                      Adele Parks

Publisher:                                 HQ – HarperCollins

ISBN-10:                                     000828461X

ISBN-13:                                     978-0008284619

Date of Publication:              18th September 2018

Date of Review:                      29th August 2018



‘I invited her in… and she took everything.’

When Mel hears from a long-lost friend in need of help, she doesn’t hesitate to invite her to stay. Mel and Abi were best friends back in the day, sharing the highs and lows of student life, until Mel’s unplanned pregnancy made her drop out of her studies.

Now, seventeen years later, Mel and Abi’s lives couldn’t be more different. Mel is happily married, having raised her son on her own before meeting her husband, Ben. Now they share gorgeous girls and have a chaotic but happy family home, with three children.

Abi, meanwhile, followed her lover to LA for a glamorous life of parties, celebrity and indulgence. Everything was perfect, until she discovered her partner had been cheating on her. Seventeen years wasted, and nothing to show for it. So what Abi needs now is a true friend to lean on, to share her grief over a glass of wine, and to have some time to heal. And what better place than Mel’s house, with her lovely kids, and supportive husband…

This dark, unsettling tale of the reunion of long-lost friends is thoroughly gripping exploration of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge from Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks.

My Review

I Invited her In is exactly the kind of book I love to curl up with: where one small act from the past has come back to haunt the protagonist with devastating consequences. Domestic noir type thrillers suck me right into the plot: not too blood thirsty but spine-tingling creepy, and all too real like it could happen to anybody.

Starting with a prologue, the narrative has a mixed point-of-view: first-person for Mel (and a couple of chapters near the end for her son, Liam, and his girlfriend, Tanya) and third-person for Abi and Ben. This works really well, leaving the reader in no doubt who they should be routing for.

Whilst Mel made a stupid and selfish mistake in the past, she is just far too considerate for her own good. Who takes in somebody they haven’t seen for the best part of twenty years and lets them stay for as long as they like? You just know there’s going to be trouble and although Mel is likeable there were times when I just wanted to scream at her to throw Abi out. Mel feels guilty for what she did to Abi when they were at uni together and is so intent on trying to make it up to her she puts her before those who matter the most. She is also blinded to her flaws and selfishness. A recipe for disaster!

With both Ben and Abi having substantial third-person narrative parts in the story, this adds a further layer of dramatic irony, giving a nail-biting and page-turning read. Luckily Mel has the most amazing husband and Abi’s scheming plans to destroy Mel aren’t as easy as she thought they’d be. But Abi isn’t about to give up on her revenge and what she does next will leave you reeling. Whilst I did guess what happened in the past fairly early on in the plot, how Abi exacts her revenge is a unique twist on what could have been a cliched story.

This was a brilliant read with a great twist at the end. I recommend this book for anybody who likes Lisa Jewell or Louise Jensen.

Under Literature Love’s rating scheme this book has been awarded 5 out of 5 stars.


I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down. I recommend you stop what you’re doing and go and buy this book now!

Thank you to HQ for an Advance Review Copy of this book in return for an honest and unbiased review.



While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins

while i was sleeping


Title:                                           While I Was Sleeping

Author:                                      Dani Atkins

Publisher:                                 Simon & Schuster UK

ISBN-10:                                    1471165930

ISBN-13:                                    978-1471165931

Date of Publication:              23rd August 2018

Date of Review:                      20th August 2018



What if someone else was living your happy ever after?
When Maddie wakes up in a hospital bed, she can’t remember anything about what happened to her or what has changed.
She just remembers she was about to be married and had everything to look forward to.
But it seems life has become a lot more complicated while she has been asleep …


My Review

Maddie has everything to live for: loving parents, a gorgeous fiancé who adores her, and a baby on the way. The icing on the cake is her fairy tale wedding which is just a few days away. But when she believes she is being followed she makes a decision that has devastating consequences and when she wakes from a coma nothing is as she remembers.

In contrast, with no family of her own, Chloe leads a solitary life. The only thing she has to look forward to is her job at the library and the volunteer work she does at the local hospital.

This is the first novel I’ve read by this author and had an open mind as to its genre. I knew love was a theme running through the story but with its initial fast paced narrative which sees Maddie trying to escape from somebody she believes to be stalking her, I visualised the narrative going down the domestic noir route. But I was wrong.

The novel is structured around a dual first-person narrative from both Maddie and Chloe’s perspectives. When Maddie wakes from a coma the plot twists come thick and fast and foreshadows the grief and anguish to follow.  However, as the story progresses, the pacing slows down and moves to a more literary style. Although not a lot happens during this part, I was still hooked by the author’s all-consuming style of writing. The story picks up when Chloe takes over as the narrator. Prior to this, Chloe had been cast as the antagonist; but with her own sad story to tell it’s easier to empathise with her. Although to be honest, my loyalty as a reader was with Maddie throughout.

As the lives of these two women intertwine their lives become more and more complicated.  But whilst Maddie and Chloe should be enemies, this is an uplifting story of compassion and friendship where jealousy and insecurities are forced to one side as they work together to overcome adversity for the sake of the person who they both love more than anything in the world.

Under Literature Love’s rating scheme, this book has been awarded 5 out of 5 stars for its genre. This means:


         I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down.

I recommend you stop what you’re doing and go and buy this book now!


Thank you to Simon & Schuster UK for an Advance Review Copy of this book.


An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena


 An Unwanted Guest


Title:                                An Unwanted Guest

Author:                           Shari Lapena

Publisher:                      Bantam Press

ISBN-10:                          0593079647

ISBN-13:                         978-0593079645

Date of Publication:   26th July 2018

Date of Review:           8th August 2018



We can’t choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.


My Review

After reading The Couple Next Door and A Stanger in the House, I was super excited to learn Shari Lapena’s third book An Unwanted Guest was due for publication. Shari Lapena is one of those authors I just know is going to give me a great read, but after reading the synopsis I was in two minds. If I’m honest it did sound a bit cliché Agatha Christie: a group of strangers stranded in an old building with no power who get popped off one by one. But did I enjoy this book as much as the other books by this author? Read on to find out!

Most contemporary thrillers are written in first-person, drawing the reader into the protagonist’s frame of mind. This novel, however, has an omniscient third-person perspective which works really well for this whodunit mystery type thriller. With a large and varied cast of characters and no main protagonist, the all-knowing third-person narration gives a more traditional feel as if being told the story from the outside looking in; the reader being privy to the thoughts and feelings of the whole cast, allowing them to draw their own conclusions as to what is going on and adding a further layer of suspense through dramatic irony.

By the end of the first hook where we find out one of the characters recognises one of the other characters, I was completely captivated.  Although, on the surface, the plot doesn’t sound that original, the narrative is so well written, and the characters are so compelling, I could have quite happily devoured the whole book in one sitting. There are lots of twists and turns and red herrings along the way, and when the murderer was revealed it wasn’t the person I thought it would be.

Under Literature Love’s rating scheme this book has been awarded 5 out of 5 stars.


I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down.

I recommend you stop what you’re doing and

go and buy this book now!


Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book in return for an honest and unbiased review.


About the Author

SHARI LAPENA  is the internationally bestselling author of The Couple Next Door and A Stranger in the House. She was a lawyer and an English teacher before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in Toronto.



The Pupil by Dawn Goodwin



The Pupil


Title:                                           The Pupil

Author:                                      Dawn Goodwin

Publisher:                                 Aria                                                                   

ISBN:                                          1786699648

ASIN:                                          B079GY741W

Date of Publication:              7th August 2018

Date of Review:                      6th August 2018


One moment of carelessness. Four shattered lives.

Literary agent Viola Matthews is sure she’s met Katherine Baxter before. So when her husband and bestselling novelist Samuel Morton introduces Viola to the quiet, unassuming woman he has offered to mentor, she knows their paths have crossed before. The question is where?

As their worlds collide and the bond between Samuel and Katherine deepens, Viola realises she must take control.  If Viola is right, then Katherine needs to pay for something that happened twelve years ago.

My Review

As soon as I saw this book I was drawn to its gorgeous cover. Simple yet classy with a hint of danger. This reminded me of the book cover designs for Louise Jensen. After reading the synopsis (as above) I was hooked and knew this was my kind of read.

The Pupil starts with a present-day first-person narrative from Katherine’s perspective, where she is coming to the end of a week-long creative course in London. The group are all going for a drink to celebrate the end of the course but being a mother of two primary-school age children, Katherine needs to get home. Luckily she has her friend, Helen, to help her out and Katherine is able to socialise with her new writing buddies, where after a few drinks her tutor offers to mentor her for free.

Writing has been a life-long passion for Katherine but she has always been surrounded by negative people with no faith in her ability. Her mother thinks it’s a pipedream, her best friend thinks she has enough on her plate being a mother, and her husband thinks she should be content washing his socks and cooking his dinner. But her tutor, Sam, is a prolific writer and for him to have faith in her has re-lit the passion she has for writing. When her husband shows little interest in her news, she knows he will just belittle her, so instead of telling him about her mentoring sessions with Sam, she persuades Helen to cover for her.  Uh-oh!

When Sam’s wife and agent, Viola, meets Katherine, she is sure she knows her from somewhere but isn’t sure where.  Viola offers to represent Katherine but without giving away any spoilers, we soon learn that Viola is the antagonist.

The novel has a varied narrative structure. As well as the present-day first-person narrative from Katherine, we also see some third-person narration from Viola’s perspective. There is also an epistolary style narrative from Katherine’s past, where we see glimpses of her diary as a teenager. But we also know there is something sinister that has happened in Katherine’s life since she has been married. Katherine writes under the pseudonym of her maiden name, Katherine Baxter, but her married name is Katie Haynes.

As well having all the elements of a good domestic noir, this novel is also an inspirational tale of how a down-trodden woman overcomes her past to fulfil her lifelong ambition. I love reading books about writing, and The Pupil is no exception.

I recommend this book for anybody who likes Louise Jensen or Shalini Boland.

Under Literature love’s rating scheme this book has been awarded 4 out of 5 stars.


I really enjoyed this book.

This book is highly recommended.

 Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book in return for an honest and unbiased review.

Pretty Little Things by T M E Walsh


 pretty little things

Title:                                           Pretty Little Things

Author:                                      T M E Walsh

Publisher:                                 H Q Digital

ASIN:                                          B073WNF17X       

Date of Publication:              4th June 2018

Date of Review:                      4th August 2018



It’s bad when the girls go missing.  It’s worse when the girls are found.

Six months ago, Charlotte almost lost everything. Now, she’s determined to keep her daughter, Elle, safe. So when local girls close to Elle in age and appearance begin to go missing, it’s her worst nightmare.

Charlotte’s fears are confirmed when a frantic search becomes a shocking murder investigation. The girls’ bodies have been found – half-buried, and with traces of mud and wildflowers under their fingernails.

As Charlotte’s obsession with keeping her daughter close pushes her marriage to the brink, local DI Madeleine Wood embarks on a gruelling search for the killer. And, as they dig deeper into the lives of the people they call friends and neighbours, they uncover secrets more terrible than they ever imagined…

Pretty Little Things is the nail-bitingly terrifying new serial killer thriller from TME Walsh – the perfect read for fans of Close to Home, Behind Her Eyes and The Child

My Review

When I first started reading this e-book I wondered whether it would be a bit too dark for me. Narrated in first-person from the perspective of the antagonist, the prologue is full of blood and gore and in all honesty I was in two minds whether to continue. However, I always read a book to the 30% mark, to make sure I’m not missing out on a potentially good read. So how did this turn out? Read on to find out.

In a word, well a few actually. OMG yes.  As a new writer myself I have learnt so much from the way this story has been delivered through a well-structured plot. I’m mega disappointed that it’s only available as an e-book.  If I had a hard-copy of this I would be making highlighted notes all over the shop.  There are lots of seemingly coincidental happenings with lies and red herrings scattered throughout.

The main story is narrated in first-person from the perspective of Charlotte, the protagonist. There is also some first-person narration from the antagonist’s point of view, which as you can imagine is a dark one. But as the plot thickens, and even more-so as the story reaches its climax, this voice is essential to the final twist.

With a cast full of weird and creepy characters, and with Charlotte not knowing whether she can trust her best friend or her husband, there is plenty of guessing as to who is the serial killer. When it seemed to be one of the people I thought it was – yes there are plenty to choose from – there were almost sparks flying from the pages in my attempt to find out whether I was right. But then it looked as if somebody else might be the killer. I have to say I would have been disappointed if it was this person. But it wasn’t – phew.

But OMG the final twist will shock you to the core. I can honestly say with all the potential creepy characters I never guessed this.  For me, this was a bit much. But this is on the darker side of a psychological thriller so for anybody who likes a darker thriller this is a particularly clever twist.

Under Literature Love’s rating scheme, this book has been awarded 5 out of 5 stars.

5 stars.jpeg

I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down.

I recommend you stop what you’re doing and go and buy this book now!


Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book.



A Young Man’s Game by Paul Blake


 A Young Man's Game

Title:                                           A Young Man’s Game

Author:                                      Paul Blake

Publisher:                                 New Generation Publishing

ISBN-10:                                    1789551609

ISBN-13:                                    978-1789551600

Date of Publication:              18th June 2018

Date of Review:                      1st August 2018



Alec Foster is no Jason Bourne.

He is Head of Section in Berlin for M16. He is fifty-one, and a borderline alcoholic counting down the days to retirement. Alec is told of a plot to assassinate a British Minister and that there is a traitor in M16.

As he tries to uncover the traitor, he is chased across Berlin by the assassins, Russian SVR and the Berlin Police. He must use his long-forgotten skills and push his body to the very limits to survive.

He comes face to face with actions from his past, as everything and everyone he cares about is threatened.


My Review

From the outset this fast-paced spy-thriller draws the reader into Alec Foster’s world by juxtaposing the setting of his work place alongside him receiving a text from his niece, Sarah. This gives an insight into how Alec’s all-consuming career working for MI6 has impacted on his personal life over the years, scuppering any chance of an ordinary family life, or indeed romance. We quickly learn that Sara is just about the only family he has; apart from Sarah, the only people in his life are his work colleagues.

When Alec receives inside information of a plot to assassinate the prime minister, his informant is shot and Alec soon becomes the number one suspect.  An intense game of cat and mouse then ensues as Alec is forced to use his skills to outwit those hot on his heels. He knows somebody at the embassy is behind the plot but doesn’t know who. When Alec worked as an agent out in the field he was used to working alone and thinking on his feet but now he’s not as young or as fit as he once was and he’s going to needs help this time. But just who can he trust?

The author has given this middle-aged protagonist some fab flaws. As well as shutting himself off emotionally from those around him and reluctant to ask for help, he is also a technophobe.  He might have got away with it twenty-five years ago but with technology now the forefront of intelligence this is a huge disadvantage. He packs a great punch though, and there are some awesome punch-ups.  The dramatic visuals are convincingly good, especially when Alec confronts the antagonist in the climatic scene; I can see this novel making a good film.

This third-person narrative has it all: action, suspense, even romance. And just when you think it’s all over… WHAM! .. another twist in the tale where events of the past put him in danger yet again. Alec Foster is a fantastic character and I hope this isn’t the last we hear of him.


Under Literature Love’s rating scheme, this book has been awarded 5 out of 5 stars for its genre. This means:  I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down.

Thank you to the author for an Advance Review Copy of this book.