Thursday, 12 January 2017

Book Review - Secrets and Fries at the Starlight Diner by Helen Cox - Blog Tour

Amazon UK
Title: Secrets and Fries at the Starlight Diner
Author: Helen Cox
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Avon 
Publication Date: 16th December 2016 
Rating: 5 Stars

What brings Bonnie Brooks to The Starlight Diner? And why is she on the run?

As the front-woman in a band, Bonnie is used to being in the spotlight, but now she must hide in the shadows.

Bonnie only has one person who she can turn to: her friend Esther Knight, who waitresses at the Fifties-themed diner. There, retro songs play on the jukebox as fries and sundaes are served to satisfied customers. But where has Esther gone?

Alone in New York City, Bonnie breaks down in front of arrogant news reporter, and diner regular, Jimmy Boyle. Jimmy offers to help her. Can she trust him?

When the kindly owner of the Starlight Diner offers Bonnie work, and she meets charming security officer Nick Moloney, she dares to hope that her luck has changed. Is there a blossoming romance on the cards? And can Bonnie rebuild her life with the help of her Starlight Diner friends?

Simply flabbergasted at just how impressive Secret Fries at the Starlight Diner was, it kept me hooked and guessing from start to finish. In fairness, given how impressed I know I was at the end of the first book, I probably shouldn't have been so surprised, but I think the series may have just got better, and it has definitely proved that the first Starlight Diner book wasn't a fluke. 

I literally had no idea what to expect from this book, and what I read was a simply wonderful story, which has more twists than a bobsleigh track! Just when you think you know what will happen next, the story takes an even better turn. It certainly keeps a reader on their toes. 

Don't be fooled by the rather sweet innocent 50's diner-esque cover, this is so much more than a a basic bit of women's fiction. It is thrilling, without being a gruesome thriller, it has elements of a crime novel, it has some action, and also some romance. And it all mixes together in a story that really attracted my attention. 

Secrets and Fries can be read as a standalone novel quite easily, as it follows a brand new main character and her story, but equally fans of the first will be delighted to see recurring characters, and being able to keep up with their stories. 

The prologue is written in such a way that it sets the scene of the Starlight Diner, and gives a tiny bit of background to it. Then from the first chapter, I was intrigued by Bonnie's story, and was eager to discover just why she was running away from Atlantic City, just why she was wondering if her friend Esther Knight would take her in or not, and equally was very curious to see a new side of Jimmy Boyle in this book. 

The writing is very easy to read, descriptive and takes you to the heart of the action. I loved being returned to my favourite fictional 50s diner, and its 1990s setting to a story. The diner gives me such a great feeling, although it was slightly odd sitting and reading in an Italian restaurant but being made hungry by mentions of burgers, fries and milkshakes! 

Secrets and Fries at the Starlight Diner, has made me a firm fan of Helen Cox's writing, and incredibly eager for her next release. I am so impressed with her story telling, and ability to draw me into a story that I really want to read. 

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Avon for this copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Please do follow along with the rest of the blog tour for Secret Fries at the Starlight Diner:

And as part of the blog tour, as an added extra for you, I have a short extract from Secret Fries at the Starlight Diner

New Year’s Eve at the Starlight Diner was one of those surreal spectacles in life that makes you wonder whether you’re awake or dreaming. Esther and Mona had taken the time to hang glittering silver baubles and streamers all about the place – that much you might expect from any New Year party. But the sight of people dancing around to the beats of ‘Ice Ice Baby’ and ‘U Can’t Touch This’ in a vintage diner was curious to say the least. The staff had begged Bernie to switch off the fifties jukebox for the night. Apparently Lucia, who’d yet to arrive, had been particularly vocal about the fact that at New Year she’d like to hear a record released sometime in the last decade. To keep the peace, which was all he ever seemed interested in, Bernie had hooked up some speakers to a music centre he’d brought from home so the staff could DJ their own party before I started playing

‘Where is Alan?’ said Mona for about the twelfth time in the last eight minutes. It was nearly nine and she’d had one eye on the clock that hung above the counter for the last half hour. Meanwhile, I’d answered questions she wasn’t really that interested in knowing the answers to about growing up in Detroit. In her defence, she probably couldn’t hear me that well over the music and, I admit, my mind wasn’t fully on the conversation at hand either. As well as playing out various moves in my head that might help me cosy up to Jimmy around midnight, I was also doing a bit of figuring about the best way to get between New York and California once the party was over.

‘Is he usually late?’ I asked Mona, trying to concentrate on sympathising with her annoyance rather than how I’d react to her husband when he at last made an appearance. He’d been looking at me weird last time we crossed paths, and no mistake.

‘Oh, he gets held up at the office pretty regular. A more suspicious woman would think he was cheatin’. Course, he knows there’d be nothing left of him if he did that to me. His only mistress is his paperwork.’ Though she was trying to make a joke out of Alan’s obsession with his job, she wasn’t smiling. He was a dedicated fella alright, which got me thinking: maybe I was being too dramatic about how far Frankie’s influence stretched. Maybe Alan could be trusted and that strange expression on his face last time we met was just his personal reaction to my blue hair. I’d been getting peculiar looks from people on the street since I dyed it.

And if all that was true, if Alan was a straight cop, maybe I didn’t have to head all the way out to California to escape what’d happened. Perhaps there were people right here I could trust. Still, even if that was the case, New Year’s Eve wasn’t exactly the right time to bring up a subject like that. I was pretty sure that if Alan was as dedicated as everyone made out, he wouldn’t mind hearing what I had to say, but Mona might box my ears for bringing up police work on what should be Alan’s night off. Even if it was life or death.

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