Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 - Top Five Novels

2016 has seen a wealth of amazing novels published by both debut and long established authors and I feel lucky to have started this blog in the midst of such greatness.  As such it has been tricky to narrow down the large number of fantastic books to a top five, but after much internal debate it has been finalised.  So, to see out 2016, The Very Pink Notebook is proud to cite these as its top picks for this year...


The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies

With wonderful writing and the most beautiful and fragrant imagery, although this is a gently told novel the plot is packed with punch and body and has stayed with me.

Full review


Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

Distress Signals: An incredibly gripping psychological thriller with a twist you won't see coming

A gripping psychological thriller set in the muddy realms of maritime law.  Catherine Ryan Howard's fantastic novel will keep you on the edge of your seat... or life ring.

Full review


Another Love by Amanda Prowse

Another Love

Chillingly real and poignant, Another Love is the story telling of Amanda Prowse at her best.  Looking at a women and her battle with alcohol and the consequences it has on everyone in her life, this is a heartfelt, moving and relatable novel.

Full review


A Suitable Lie by Michael Malone

A Suitable Lie

This novel is just, brilliant.  Dark, domestic and brutal it will keep you turning the pages long into the night and make you rethink the way you think.

Full review


I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

Clare Mackintosh's debut novel, psychological thriller I Let You Go, take the number one spot for The Very Pink Notebooks top five novels of 2016.  Fantastically written, with superb dialogue and descriptions and a twist you will never see coming is what makes this book impossible to put down.

Full review

To say, as a reviewer, I am looking forward to 2017 is an understatement.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Blog Tour and Review : The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse

The Very Pink Notebook is overwhelmingly thrilled to be part of Amanda Prowse's, 
The Food of Love, blog tour this week.  With much thanks to Amanda for involving me in the tour and for a copy of the book.

Published by - Lake Union Publishing
1 December 2016
Copy - ARC copy received from author

The Blurb

A loving mother. A perfect family. A shock wave that could shatter everything.

Freya Braithwaite knows she is lucky. Nineteen years of marriage to a man who still warms her soul and two beautiful teenage daughters to show for it: confident Charlotte and thoughtful Lexi. Her home is filled with love and laughter.

But when Lexi’s struggles with weight take control of her life, everything Freya once took for granted falls apart, leaving the whole family with a sense of helplessness that can only be confronted with understanding, unity and, above all, love.
In this compelling and heart-wrenching new work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse, one ordinary family tackles unexpected difficulties and discovers that love can find its way through life’s darkest moments.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

It is a lovely thing, to be asked to review a book, but when the author is one of your long time favourites it becomes quite an event.  For me, being asked to be involved in Amanda Prowse's blog tour for The Food of Love, is one of those times.

Often reviewers will say they felt a little anxious at the start of a favourite authors new book, what if it isn't as good as those that have gone before it?  I had no such concerns with this book, just from the blurb I could tell that Amanda had honed in on yet another harrowing topic, which she would raise awareness of by her tried and tested successful format of writing a novel about a women's fight for her family.

The particular fight for the protagonist in this novel, Freya, is against the illness that blights her youngest daughter, Lexi.  Anorexia.  This is not an easy book to read, there is no light-hearted streak running through it, there is no miraculous or unrealistic resolutions, it is full on with emotion and heart-ache and anguish.  But it is brilliant.  The characters are so fully formed and developed your heart feels heavy for them and you find yourself rooting for them to just stay strong, to stick together. 

For me, this book was a real eye opener.  You know the author has thoroughly researched the subject matter and novel gives a realistic impression of life for those where anorexia permeates every waking (and sleeping) moment.  It shows how long term the illness is, how hard it is to find the crux and core to it, which without knowing makes it almost impossible to start to fight it.  Although written from the view point of Freya, the mother I felt I got a really full insight into how it affected all the main characters, Lexi herself, her father, Lockie, and sister Charlotte.  The scene that made me break the barriers and shed a tear was a very moving, but simple gesture between the two sisters. 

The format Amanda has used keeps the story moving along at a good pace and, as always, the narrative and dialogue is fluent and easy to read, making the book extremely hard to put down.  It didn't quite go where I thought it was going to go when I first started reading which was a lovely surprise.

Amanda Prowse says herself, she has found her talent and that is being able to write books, very quickly.  And knowing how frequently she publishes it always amazes me just how deep and developed the characters are and how detailed and well researched the plot is for the timescale she must give herself to work to.  This book is another example of how well this is done by this author.

The last thing for me to say isn't actually to do with the plot, but I feel it deserves mention so no one misses it :   READ THE AUTHORS NOTE.   

The Food of Love of course gets a Very Pink Notebook rating of :


About the Author

Amanda Prowse is a bestselling novelist with an incredible 136K followers on Twitter. This is her sixteenth novel and her books have been translated into a dozen languages and regularly top bestseller charts all over the world. Amanda has been dubbed ‘The Queen of Domestic Drama’ and writes about ordinary women and their families who find their strength, courage and love tested in ways they never imagined.

Through writing The Food of Love, Amanda has come face to face with her own feelings of shame, secrecy and obsession with food. Overweight as a child and a yo-yo dieter as an adult, Amanda has struggled with body image and overeating all her life.
She now recognizes that the habits of her once anorexic mother had a profound effect on her growing up. By writing about eating disorders in The Food of Love, Amanda has faced her own food demons and has made incredible steps to correcting her unhealthy relationship with food. Since she started writing the book, Amanda has lost one and a half stone and aims to reach her target, healthy weight by 1st December, the publication date of The Food of Love.

Follow the Tour

The tour continues tomorrow so I am passing the baton on to

Friday, 16 December 2016

The Finnish Invasion Blog Tour and Review - The Mine by Antti Tuomainen

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of Antti Tuomainen's, The Mine, Finnish Invasion blog tour this week.  With much thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for involving me in the tour and for a copy of the book.

The Mine copy

Published by : Orenda Books
15 November 2016
Copy : Paperback - received from publisher as part of Blog Tour

The Blurb

A hitman. A journalist. A family torn apart. Can he uncover the truth before it’s too late?

In the dead of winter, investigative reporter Janne Vuori sets out to uncover the truth about a mining company, whose illegal activities have created an environmental disaster in a small town in Northern Finland. When the company’s executives begin to die in a string of mysterious accidents, and Janne’s personal life starts to unravel, past meets present in a catastrophic series of events that could cost him his life.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Dark, emotive, complex and utterly brilliant, Antti Tuomainen's The Mine is crime mystery at it's best.

Set in the harsh winter months of Finland, Tuomainen's flawless and honed descriptions of places and environment literally had me shivering in my seat.  With the main protagonist being a highly driven but flawed young male, I was thrilled when we discover that not only are we going on a journey with Janne on his quest for the truth about what is going on at The Mine, but also and equally as important, his personal one.

Janne wants to be the best journalist he can possibly be, that is the highly driven part of him, the flawed part lies with his other roles in life; husband and father.  Also mixed up within the plot are his emotions about his own parents, particularly his father, who left when Janne was just a year old.  Tuomainen has created very real and believable characters and I particularly devoured the dialogue between Janne and his wife, Pauliina.

The novel is complex and I can only assume that the author must have retired to bed with a confused and aching head on more than one occasion to thrash out just how he was going to carefully and plainly breakdown the threads of the plot to one easily digestible book.  But achieve that he has and hat's off to him.

The pace is fast and not one chapter passes without a significant piece of detail coming to light, which I loved.  Written in both first and third person narratives, I also liked that the perspective and investigation came from somewhere other than the police line.  Janne isn't out to uncover the crime per se, but moreover the truth - but boy, a lot of crimes take place throughout the duration of the story.

This novel reminded me of Erin Brockovich, but with much more testosterone and bloodshed.  A certain page turner until the very end.

The Mine receives a Very Pink Notebook rating of :



Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Finnish Invasion Blog Tour and Review - The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of Kati Hiekkapelto's, The Exiled, Finnish Invasion blog tour this week.  With much thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for involving me in the tour and for a copy of the book.

The Exiled copy

Published by : Orenda Books
15 November 2016
Copy : Paperback - Received from publisher as part of Blog Tour

The Blurb

Murder. Corruption. Dark secrets. A titanic wave of refugees. Can Anna solve a terrifying case that’s become personal?  

Anna Fekete returns to the Balkan village of her birth for a relaxing summer holiday. But when her purse is stolen and the thief is found dead on the banks of the river, Anna is pulled into a murder case. Her investigation leads straight to her own family, to closely guarded secrets concealing a horrendous travesty of justice that threatens them all. As layer after layer of corruption, deceit and guilt are revealed, Anna is caught up in the refugee crisis spreading like wildfire across Europe. How long will it take before everything explodes?

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Kati Hiekkapelto has brought alive a fantastic character in protagonist Anna Fekete.  I love her single-minded, tunnel vision of herself - crime fighting police officer, workaholic, because if she is that person, she doesn't need to worry about a personal life and finding out who she really is.  Only, in the case she finds herself embroiled when she takes a trip back 'home' she is forced to face up to some reality about her past.  Full of twists and turns and a plethora of unreliable and corrupt characters it is impossible to know who is telling the truth, who is noble, who is not.  I couldn't even attempt to second guess what was going to happen thus making this novel a real page turner. 

Hiekkapelto has chosen a subject matter particularly prevalent at the moment to address in this novel, one of immigration.  She uses a cross section of characters to voice the many, many opinions that can be heard far and wide about the issue and I felt she put down a very equal measure of a very real situation within her book.  The use of well thought out imagery of the Balkans by the author helps to darken and lighten the tone of the story and with the writing as sharp as the character the plot moves along at a good steady pace.  The balance of police investigation to Anna's private affairs was well proportioned and the author made me feel as if I got to know the inner workings of Anna's mind quite intimately, which helped me understand, as the reader, why she makes the decisions she does. 

I particularly liked the relationship between Anna and her mother, complex and highly emotional although in an indirect way rather than direct way it helped to explain how Anna can force herself to be seemingly so emotionless towards anything or anyone other than work. 

Although this is a fairly dark crime novel, it is written with a poetic feeling about it, with the descriptions about the Tisza, the mayfly hatching that makes the river blossom, the festival that all the inhabitants of the town are literally waiting for so they can celebrate.  It is a bright light of hope, in a novel who's subject matter is really quite bleak.

If you enjoy a good cat and mouse hunt then you will enjoy the translated version of Kati Hiekkapelto's The Exiled.

Follow the Tour

Find out what others thought of The Exiled by following the tour.  Tomorrow I hand over to Blooming Brilliant Books :

unnamed (44).jpg

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Publication Day - The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to congratulate Amanda Prowse on her publication day.  The new, emotional book, The Food of Love, is out now.

The blog tour kicks off today and will run throughout December :