Sunday, 9 August 2020

#BlogTour The Secret Letters by Taryn Leigh


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Secret Letters by Taryn Leigh.

About the Author
Taryn Leigh is a South African Author, who spent her childhood with her nose buried in books. Her love for reading transpired into her ambition to become an Author.

Taryn Leigh’s first book, Perfect Imperfections, is available in Paperback, eBook and AudioBook. She lives in Pretoria with her husband and son.

Follow @tarynleighbook on Twitter, on Facebook@tarynleighbooks on Instagram, on Goodreadson Amazon,Visit tarynleighauthor.com, Buy The Secret Letters


About the book
Rachel, saved from an attack twelve years before by a faceless stranger, never got to thank him, never knew his name.Despite the devastation she chose to rise above it to help others from their pain by becoming a psychologist.... Her only issue now is that she's an expert at fixing everyone else's problems, and blind to her own.

After a long relationship with her boyfriend Will starts to go south, she turns to her best friend Amelia for guidance.Suddenly her world is turned upside down when tragedy strikes and she's left with no one to comfort her but Will's rude older brother Ruari.

Paralyzed by fear, she struggles to take grip of her life, until the day when anonymous letters begin to appear from the stranger who saved her twelve years before.

Review
Rachel is a difficult one to pin down. Giving her past experiences it's sort of a given that the reader feels empathy for her - is it though? I found her very up and down. At times she was very needy and unable to put herself in the place of other people, and at other times she closes herself off completely. Both of these types of reactions can be drawn directly from her past trauma.

She has trust issues, feels fearful and paranoid then suddenly overly elated and in control. This zig-zag of emotions might be the reason she doesn't really take note of the slow demise of her relationship.

Leigh has a great structure and premise in place, but it does need tightening up from a dialogue, language and editing perspective. Less time on detailed superfluous moments and when the various threads intersect perhaps a better build-up rather than scenes inserted to keep certain storylines on track.

Let's also just take a moment to ponder about the man who follows her and sends her letters. It's a very fine line between creepy and keeping someone safe. Carrying a torch or stalking - it really depends on how the person receiving the attention feels about their behaviour. One person's romantic is another person's predator.

I am glad the author takes a moment to not only thank the person who inspired the story or the idea of survival and overcoming horrendous trauma, but also the fact she did so with her blessing. Stories like Alshandra's belong to the victim. In the same breath Leigh gives readers a stark reminder how many of us have similar stories to tell or not.

Leigh has taken that trauma and created a domestic thriller with the vibe of a discovery of self story. A story of surviving and overcoming trauma that resonates throughout the rest of a victim and their life.

Buy The Secret Letters at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Kingsley Publishers; pub date 9 Aug. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

#BlogTour Homecoming by Luan Goldie


It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Homecoming by Luan Goldie. Her first novel Nightingale Point was a success and I am convinced her second novel Homecoming will be too.

About the Author
Luan Goldie is a primary school teacher , and formerly a business journalist. She has written several short stories and is the winner of the Costa Short Story Award 2017 for her short story ‘Two Steak Bakes and Two Chelsea Buns’. She was also shortlisted for the London Short Story Prize in 2018 and the Grazia/Orange First Chapter competition in 2012, and was chosen to take part in the Almasi League, an Arts Council-funded mentorship programme for emerging writers of colour.

In 2019 she was shortlisted for the h100 awards in the Publishing and Writing category. Her debut novel, Nightingale Point, is longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020 and it was also a Radio 2 Book Club pick. Homecoming is her second novel.

Follow @luangoldie on Twitter, on Goodreadson Instagramon AmazonBuy Homecoming


About the book
For Years Yvonne has tried to keep her demons buried and focus on moving forward. But her guilt is always with her and weighs heavily on her heart.

Kiama has had to grow up without a mother, and while there is so much he remembers about her, there is still plenty he doesn't know. And there's only one person who can fill in the gaps.

When Kiama seeks Yvonne out and asks her to come with him to Kenya, the place that holds the answers to his questions, she knows she can't refuse. And this one act sets in motion an unravelling of the past that no one is ready for.

Review
Kiama wants to connect with the mother he barely remembers. He thinks his mother's best friend Yvonne will be able to answer some questions but more importantly he needs someone who knows what he is going through to go back to Kenya with him to get some closure. To revisit her life, the things that made her happy and the memories of the two of them that he treasures. It also means going back to the story of her death.

Yvonne has her own secrets and guilt to both hide and deal with. She is torn between giving Kiama an attempt at some level of peace and not wanting to destroy the image he has of her and his loved ones. Their trip could change everything.

It's a story of love, betrayal and ultimately one of closure. An emotive piece of work that always manages to steer away from excessive dramatic scenes and yet simultaneously walks a very tight rope of emotions. Feelings that have been stored away and ignored for years until a young man who needs to understand his inner conflict and unresolved trauma reopens old wounds.

Whether intentionally or not Goldie gives an excellent image of what happens when people go back and revisit the past in person. The expectations are always built on memories and never take into consideration that the world and the people in it move on, which means there will always be a level of disappointment.

If you haven't read anything by Luan Goldie yet, I highly suggest you give her books a try. She has a fresh and creative voice and is absolutely a rising star and an author to watch. 

Buy Homecoming at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 6 Aug. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie.


#BlogTour The Silence by Susan Allott


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Silence by Susan Allott.
About the Author
Susan Allott is from the UK but spent part of her twenties in Australia, desperately homesick but trying to make Sydney her home. In 2016 she completed the Faber Academy course, during which she started writing this novel. She now lives in south London with her two children and her very Australian husband.


About the book
It is 1997, and in a basement flat in Hackney Isla Green is awakened by a call in the middle of the night: her father, phoning from Sydney.

30 years ago, in the suffocating heat of summer 1967, the Greens’ next-door neighbour Mandy disappeared. At the time, it was thought she had gone to start a new life; but now Mandy’s family is trying to reconnect, and there is no trace of her. Isla’s father Joe was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and now he’s under suspicion of murder.

Reluctantly, Isla goes back to Australia for the first time in a decade. The return to Sydney will plunge her deep into the past, to a quiet street by the sea where two couples live side by side. Isla’s parents, Louisa and Joe, have recently emigrated from England — a move that has left Louisa miserably homesick while Joe embraces this new life. Next door, Steve and Mandy are equally troubled. Mandy doesn’t want a baby, even though Steve — a cop trying to hold it together under the pressures of the job — is desperate to become a father.

The more Isla asks about the past, the more she learns: about both young couples and the secrets each marriage bore. Could her father be capable of doing something terrible? How much does her mother know? And is there another secret in this community, one which goes deeper into Australia’s colonial past, which has held them in a conspiracy of silence?

Review
The story moves between two timelines - 1990s and 1960s. Isla, who has her own burdens to carry including self emotional isolation, loneliness and alcoholism, is asked to come back home. Her father is under suspicion for the disappearance of one of their neighbours, a woman who vanished three decades ago. The case has been reopened and now the finger of guilt is pointing right in his direction.

There are hard lessons to be learnt, the most poignant one is that families always have their secrets. Nobody is perfect, and just because you know someone as your father it doesn't mean he didn't have a life before you and one just as a man. It's a slow burner of a mystery that combines the complexity of family dynamics and neighbourhood ones for that matter, whilst delving into the guilty burden of a past the Australians may have apologised for, but can never make right.

Kudos to the author for including an often forgotten part of Australia's history. The damage inflicted by white colonialism on the indigenous people of Australia. The hoards of children displaced, kidnapped (there is no other word for it) in the name of government agencies, church missions - all by rule of parliament. The Stolen Children, also known as the Stolen Generations, were children of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent. The policies on removal of children of indigenous Australian and mixed descent were still being carried out well into the 1970s. They were just as appalling as any eugenics theory, which were also being implemented in Australia in the 20th century.

Allott and her talent for atmospheric writing remind me of Jane Harper, and not just because of the Australian connection. It's this uncanny ability to recreate an emotional reaction to sound, sight and smell. Combined with a knack for storytelling it gives the read the kind of edge that makes you take note as a reader.

Buy The Silence at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: The Borough Press; pub date 6th August 2020|Hardback |£14.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

#BloggerDay The Wish List by Sophia Money-Coutts


Today it's a pleasure to take part in the Blogger Day and social media blast for The Wish List by Sophia Money-Coutts.

About the Author
Sophia Money-Coutts is a journalist and author who spent five years studying the British aristocracy while working as Features Director at Tatler. Prior to that she worked as a writer and an editor for the Evening Standard and the Daily Mail in London, and The National in Abu Dhabi.

She writes a column for the Sunday telegraph called Modern Manners and often appears on radio and television channels talking about important topics such as Prince Harry's wedding and the etiquette of the threesome.

The Wish List is her third novel following on from the success of her second novel What happens Now? is her second novel and her debut, The Plus One.

Follow @sophiamcoutts on Twitter, on Instagramon Goodreadson Amazon, Visit sophiamoneycoutts.com, Buy The Wish List


About the book
Be careful what you wish for……because you just might get it!

Florence Fairfax isn’t lonely. She loves her job at the little bookshop in Chelsea and her cat, Marmalade, keeps her company at night. But everything changes when her stepsister, Mia, announces that she’s engaged to her boring golf-playing boyfriend. That’s when Florence meets Irish love coach, Gwendolyn.

When Gwendolyn makes Florence write a wish list describing her perfect man, Florence refuses to take it seriously. Finding someone who likes cats, doesn’t wear pointy shoes and can overlook her ‘counting habit’? Impossible! Until, later that week, a handsome blond man asks for help in the bookshop…

But is Rory the one, or is he simply too good to be true? Florence is about to find out that her criteria for finding Mr Right aren’t as important as she thought – and that perhaps her perfect man has been right there all along…
Review
A wish list is one thing, but a wish list for the perfect man is quite another thing. It kind of sets the list creator up for failure when all of the boxes can't be ticked, and they usually can't.

Florence is kind of a modern day patchwork family Cinderella, but without the skivvy aspect and more banter than malice. Her step-mother and sisters are all really helpful when it comes to forcing their opinions, suggestions and lifestyle choices on her. Now they have decided it's time for her to find a man and to do so she needs to see an expensive life coach.

Can a wish list give the introverted bookworm with a life of decisions based on how many there are of certain things have a real chance at finding love?

I think the OCD aspect and counting rituals was an interesting idea for a character. The way Florence links everything to odd and even numbers. Life outcomes, situations and becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy predictor of sorts made her character fascinating. I did feel as if it was used for certain scenes and then disappeared completely in others, which could be perceived as an inconsistency, but equally also as a way of measuring her level of anxiety in certain scenarios.

The author gives readers an escapism read. Nothing too saturated with darkness, pain and dysfunction, but rather the lighter side of life even when it gets difficult. The perfect read for those who like to be entertained and experience something lighthearted.

Buy The Wish List at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 6 Aug. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of What Happens Now and The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts.


#BlogTour The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone


It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone. It's the second book in The Skelfs series.
About the Author
Doug Johnstone is the author of more ten novels, most recently Breakers (2019), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and A Dark Matter (2020), which launched the Skelfs series. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin.

He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home, which he drew on to write A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.

Follow @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks on Twitter, Follow Doug on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit dougjohnstone.com,  Buy The Big Chill


About the book
Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver ’s shadowy life.

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.

But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears, and
suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves immersed in an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

Review
Seems like an odd career combination, private investigators and funeral directors at the same time. The Skelfs however do it with a certain eccentricity, wit and pinch of darkness at times.

This is the second book in The Skelfs series, the first is A Dark Matter. Both can be read as standalone novels, although there is one storyline from the first that flows into this one. I would recommend reading it to get the gist of the series. Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah are three generations of women worth getting to know.

The book starts out with a car chase that ends where the Skelfs do the majority of their business. The incident sets Dorothy on the path to find the truth. Jenny finds that the tables can be turned quite quickly when you aren't paying attention and Hannah is dealing with the aftermath of a dark revelation in the first book.

It's a mystery and crime read that mixes aspects of contemporary women's fiction into it, because the women at the helm of this story aren't willing to be squeezed into one genre or category. They are strong and determined to overcome whatever comes their way or is an obstacle in their path.

Johnstone has a knack for infusing his work with a tinge of noir, the absurd and often teeters on the boundaries of uncomfortable topics. It's what I would call a melded reading experience. He draws from every avenue to create a mosaic like story, with all threads eventually leading back to the origin of the piece - the strength of women.

Buy The Big Chill at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orenda Books: pub date 20 AUGUST 2020 | Paperback Original | £8.99. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Orenda Books.

Read my reviews of A Dark Matter, Breakers and Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

#BlogTour Note to Boy by Sue Clark


It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Note to Boy by Sue Clark.
About the Author
Sue Clark has grilled John Humphreys, quipped with Ronnie Corbett, danced with one James Bond and had a one-sided conversation with another, and penned funny lines for the likes of Lenny Henry, June Whitfield, Roy Hudd and David Jason.

She’s been a BBC radio and TV comedy scriptwriter on such shows such as Alas Smith and Jones, Weekending, The News Huddlines and The Jason Explanation, a copywriter, a PR, a journalist, a magazine editor, a writer of guidebooks, a secretary and was, briefly, paid to read books all day long for a film producer. And now she’s written a novel.

Follow @SueClarkAuthor on Twitteron Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit sueclarkauthor.com, Buy Note to Boy

About the book
Eloise is an erratic, faded fashionista. Bradley is a glum but wily teenager.

In need of help to write her racy 1960s memoirs, the former ‘shock frock’ fashion guru tolerates his common ways. Unable to remember his name, she calls him Boy. Desperate to escape a brutal home life, he puts up with her bossiness and confusing notes.

Both guard secrets. How did she lose her fame and fortune? What’s he scheming – beyond getting his hands on her bank card? And just what’s hidden in that mysterious locked room?

Review
What could a teenager with an attitude and an elderly woman who is incapable of looking after herself have in common? It doesn't seem like a lot. Bradley wants the job because he is on a long road to nowhere and helping Eloise could lead to an opportunity. Helping her to write an autobiography of sorts gives him a chance to get to know the woman behind the mood swings, the erratic behaviour and he then sees the eccentric fashion icon with entirely different eyes.

I have to say that I didn't experience this as a read full of comedic moments, but rather one full of poignant realistic moments. However I can absolutely picture this on the screen, and I hope someone sees the potential in this - The Lady in the Van kind of eccentricity coupled with a young man trying to grip the one possible straw that might take him out of his set-in-stone future of violence and deprivation.

Also the subtle note of white privilege and covert racism that is woven into the tale. It solidifies the the differences between the odd couple. The almost colonialist comments from Eloise and the teenager with a lack of education and nearly no chance of achieving anything other than a life in crime. Moments that can be overcome.

I really enjoyed this story, perhaps because it was easy to picture both main characters so well. Eloise is an excellent example of the loophole of invisibility the elderly vanish into, even when they have made their mark on the world. Even after spending their youth and primary years being successful or in the case of Eloise becoming a part of fashion history.

Clark hits exactly the right notes when it comes to the complex relationship between Bradley and Eloise. The trust issues, the need to protect and simultaneously the more selfish motivation Bradley is driven by. This is an excellent social commentary.

Buy Note to Boy at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound Digital pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Unbound.

Saturday, 1 August 2020

#Blogtour The Borrowed Boy by Deborah Klée


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Borrowed Boy by Deborah Klée.
About the Author
Deborah has worked as an occupational therapist, a health service manager, a freelance journalist, and management consultant in health and social care.

Her protagonists are often people who exist on the edges of society. Despite the very real, but dark, subject matter her stories are uplifting, combining pathos with humour. They are about self-discovery and the power of friendships and community.

The Borrowed Boy, her debut, was shortlisted for the Deviant Minds Award 2019. Just Bea, her second novel will be published in 2021.

Deborah lives on the Essex coast. When she is not writing she combines her love of baking with trying to burn off the extra calories.



About the book
A borrowed boy, a borrowed name and living on borrowed time.

What do you put on a bucket list when you haven’t done anything with your life? No interesting job, no lovers, no family, no friends. Believing she has only weeks left to live, Angie Winkle vows to make the most of every minute.

Going back to Jaywick Sands, is top of her bucket list. Experiencing life as a grandmother is not, but the universe has other plans and when four-year-old Danny is separated from his mum on the tube, Angie goes to his rescue. She tries to return him to his mum but things do not go exactly as planned and the two of them embark on a life-changing journey.

Set in Jaywick Sands, once an idyllic Essex holiday village in the 70s, but now a shantytown of displaced Londoners, this is a story about hidden communities and our need to belong.

Review
It's a nightmare scenario - a small child being accidentally separated from a parent in the underground or tube. Child on the train, parent on the platform watching helplessly as said child disappears. If you're lucky your child will also stumble upon someone like Angie, who only has good intentions. At least she starts off with good ones. Bringing Danny back to his mother soon morphs into let's keep him for a while and replicate my great childhood memories with him.

Certain things made me wonder about Nikoleta's actions at the very beginning. No matter what she says or how the storyteller interprets her actions, there seems to be an element of subconscious warning going on under the surface. Does her physical reaction betray her subconscious thoughts? Does she know there is more to the story?

Angie takes the borrowed boy on a trip that changes both of their lives. She finds herself caring for the poor boy, whilst Danny is glad to be with someone who really cares about him.

Although it starts out with the vibe of a psychological thriller set in a modern urban crime scenario, it eventually takes on more of a Women's Fiction feel. Being faced with death makes Angie reflect on the past and how her past has determined much of her future. A life she feels hasn't been lived to the fullest. Missed experiences and deep regrets. Her time with Danny has opened her eyes to the most painful memories and why she feels so lonely.

I enjoyed the read, however at times I did feel as if it were two reads in one. The more brutal storyline that could have wandered into a vicious despicable crime scenario, and the story of Angie discovering a life worth living for. Klée is clearly capable of delivering both.

Buy The Borrowed Boy at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Sherman House; pub date 1 Aug. 2020. Buy the eBook from Apple, Barnes & Noble, Angus & Robertson, 24 Symbols. Buy at Amazon com.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

#BlogTour Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce


It's an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce.
About the Author
Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, The Music Shop and a collection of interlinked short stories, A Snow Garden & Other Stories. Her books have been translated into thirty -six languages and two are in development for film.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book prize and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Rachel was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards ‘New Writer of the Year’ in December 201 2 and shortlisted for the ‘UK Author of the Year’201 4. Rachel was a Costa prize judge and University Big Read author in 2019.

She has also written over twenty original afternoon plays and adaptations of the classics for BBC Radio 4, including all the Bronte novels. She moved to writing after a long career as an actor, performing leading roles for the RSC, the National Theatre and Cheek by Jowl. She lives with her family in Gloucestershire.

Follow on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit rachel-joyce.co.ukBuy Miss Benson's Beetle


About the book
It is 1950, two unlikely women set off on a hare-brained adventure to the other side of the world to try and find a beetle, and in doing so discover friendship and how to be their best of themselves. This is quintessential Joyce: at once poignant and playful, with huge heart and the same resonance, truth and lightness of touch as her phenomenally successful debut, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Britain, post Second World War. I n a moment of madness Margery Benson abandons her sensible job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition. She is going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist.

Enid Pretty, in pink hat and pompom sandals, is not the companion she had in mind. But together they will find themselves drawn into an adventure that exceeds all expectations. They must risk everything, break all the rules, but at the top of a red mountain they will discover who they truly are, and how to be the best of themselves.This is a novel that is less about what can be found than the belief it might be found; it is an intoxicating adventure story but it is also about what it means to be a woman and a tender exploration of a friendship that defies all boundaries.

Review
Miss Benson finally reaches her limit and decides to put all her resources and hopes into finding a golden beetle in the middle of nowhere. It's the last fond memory she has of herself and her father - learning about the beetle. She recruits an assistant, which leads to an unusual pairing and a relationship that teaches her more about herself and life than she ever expected.

I loved this book. It has echoes of Eleanor Oliphant and The Other Half of Augusta Hope, both of which feature women who learn to love themselves as they are instead of being burdened by the way society expects them to look, behave and live. Miss Benson embarking upon her journey and seeking that particularly elusive beetle, thereby discovering herself, her worth, friendship and true sisterhood - it's also a story of a woman accepting herself. 

There is this interesting part of the story where Joyce actually confronts the reader, albeit subtly, with the foursome of roles in regards to being a woman. You have Miss Benson, the worn down spinster. Enid, the loose woman and rule-breaker. Dolly, the subservient woman itching to break free, and Mrs Pope the diplomat's wife - the woman who becomes the foe of other women in an attempt to appease the patriarchal society. Judging other women instead of aiding and understanding, fitting in instead of standing up and being counted.

The quest to find the beetle becomes synonymous with acceptance of self, with a final confrontation with loss and with an acknowledgement of peace. The highest bar set by others takes on a note of irrelevance when the realisation dawns that you, or in this case Miss Benson, should be more interested in what makes you happy.

Joyce is a wonderful storyteller, who has a knack of capturing the absurd, the pain, the honesty and the core of humanity. Life isn't clean - it's dirty and it hurts, but now again we see the joy and feel the peace through the mists of life.

Buy Miss Benson's Beetle at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Doubleday pub date 23 July 2020 | £16.99 | Hardback. Ebook - Transworld Digital; pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Waterstones.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

#BlogTour You May Kiss the Bridesmaid by Camilla Isley


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour You May Kiss the Bridesmaid by Camilla Isley.

About the Author
Camilla is an engineer turned writer after she quit her job to follow her husband on an adventure abroad.

She’s a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading—duh!—cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies—popcorn, please. She’s a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveler, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.

Follow @camillaisley on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazonon Facebookon BookBubon Instagramon Pinterest, Visit camillaisley.org Buy You May Kiss the Bridesmaid


About the book
Archibald Hill is handsome, single, and he’s going to his best friend’s wedding ready to make a conquest or two. After all, everyone knows weddings are the perfect setting to get lucky.

Summer Knowles used to have a life—friends, family, a sister who’d do anything for her—until she blew it all away with a terrible mistake. Now, attending her twin’s wedding as the party’s undesirable number one seems like more than she can handle. So, when a tall stranger with smoldering ice-blue eyes offers her a therapy of seven nights of no-strings-attached fun, she might even ignore that he has a beard and accept.

Problem is, Summer has never been good at keeping sex and feelings separated…

Review
Summer isn't exactly looking forward to her sister's wedding. Her past has made her a social pariah and to be fair she has a lot going on in her private life anyway. She has sworn off men for good, maybe for a while at least. Until she meets the best man that is, then all bets are off when it comes to having a good time.

Archie thinks the groom is the luckiest guy in the world to be marrying the girl of his dreams. He is even a tad jealous, so a little distraction during the wedding week is exactly the right thing to keep him occupied.

The casual hook-up between Archie and Summer turns into something a little more when their secret trysts are discovered. Then fun becomes more serious and the thought of an adult relationship with the responsibilities that come with it drives a wedge between the two of them.

I kind of felt sorry for Summer. Everyone makes mistakes - should they be able to redeem themselves or get a second chance. Does it depend on the crime or the mistake? Does Summer deserve to be treated like a pariah, despite the fact the person she hurt the most has moved on and also forgiven her.

It's a delightful romcom, an amusing and yet sweet story at times. This series reminds me of work by Sarah Morgan. Fun-filled romance with moments of breathless passion, complicated emotions and people who are made for each other.

Buy You May Kiss the Bridesmaid at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Pink Bloom Press; pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Amazon com. At Apple books. Barnes&Noble. At Kobo. Google Play.

Sunday, 26 July 2020

#Blogtour Eleven Lines to Somewhere by Alyson Rudd


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Eleven Lines to Somewhere by Alyson Rudd.

About the Author
Alyson Rudd started out as a financial journalist but has been an award-winning sportswriter for 23 years, all of them with The Times, bar a two year stint at The Sunday Telegraph. She has written two non-fiction titles; Astroturf Blonde, about playing football with men and women’s teams and a biography of Matthew Harding, the Chelsea director who was killed in a helicopter crash.

She is a something of a judging panel addict and decided to write fiction after assessing the entries for the Costa First Novel Award. Her first novel, The First Time Lauren Pailing Died, was published by HQ in 2019. Her second, Eleven Lines to Somewhere, will be published in HQ in 2020.

Alyson, born in Liverpool, is a qualified football coach and referee, married with two sons and lives in Southwest London.

Follow @AllyRudd_Times on Twitter, on Amazon, on GoodreadsBuy Eleven Lines to Somewhere


About the book
Everyone is searching for love. Sometimes we just take our own route to find it.

When Ryan spots a young woman on the tube on his commute, he can’t take his eyes off her. Instantly attracted and intrigued, he’s keen to find out more about his mysterious fellow passenger.

Sylvie spends all day travelling the underground, unable to leave for reasons unbeknownst to Ryan. But Ryan hasn’t dated for nearly ten years, when he was at university and the love of his life tragically died.

For some inexplicable reason, he just can’t shake the feeling he wants to help Sylvie. In a world of missed opportunities and what-ifs, a connection has been made.


Review
I wondered at times whether Rudd had specifically given this read a slightly disjointed feel. Sometimes the reader feels a little lost, other times the destination is known, and now and again the feeling of going steadfastly in the wrong direction grips you. That's what it's like on the tube sometimes. You can see it in commuters faces.

Sometimes there's a face or two that stand out. You wonder and then you go on with your own life. That's what the majority of this story feels like. Again, was it intentional, parallels drawn between the underground warrens in London and the threads in our lives. The entanglements, the choices, the crossroads we come to in life.

Ryan and what eventually becomes his quest or obsession, depending how you perceive his fascination with a stranger on the tube, is filled with emotions he doesn't want to face. Becoming distracted is an avoidance technique. Not having to face what he really feels.

It's a contemporary read with a literary fiction vibe. One that could do with being a little more concise at times, but the confusion adds to the storyline, especially when it comes to Sylvie and her story. It's very much a story of lives intersecting, connections being made, albeit often fleeting ones. It's also a story of loss, grief and ultimately one of love.

Buy Eleven Lines to Somewhere at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Love Virus by Eleni Cay


It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for The Love Virus by Eleni Cay. For bonus features go to Eleni-cay.com it contains links to poems, videos and music that accompany her debut novel “The Love Virus”.

The e-book can be downloaded for free from all major retailers.  If you can afford to donate, please consider donating to Overcoming MS , or a charity of your choice. 

About the Author
Eleni Cay is a Slovakian-born poet living in Norway. Her award-winning first collection was published by Parthian Books and her second poetry collection ‘Love Algorithm’ is forthcoming by Eyewear Press. Eleni’s debut novel ‘The Love Virus’ was published in spring 2020.
When Katie finds out that her increasingly unresponsive legs and extreme fatigue is due to Multiple Sclerosis, she rides an emotional rollercoaster – anger, denial and fear – when faced with a wheelchair-bound existence. She puts her studies at Oxford on hold, and she splits up from her fiancé, Mark, even though she still loves him.

While undergoing treatment, Katie is diagnosed with MS2 – a virus that paralyses the mind. In hospital, Katie has to cope with her irritating bedfellows who argue constantly, and where she is treated by Dr Andrews, a handsome psychologist. The closer she gets to him however, the worse her pain becomes. Compounding Katie’s struggle is Mark, who returns to her bedside day after day. Once Katie begins Dr Andrews’ new experimental MS2 treatment, Mark can’t recognise her anymore. He begins to wonder if Katie will ever be cured.

Review
Although this kind of sails under the YA genre category I think this is a read that readers both young and old will be able to relate to. The subject matter doesn't change much in relation to age.

It's a powerful piece of writing. Provocative, excruciatingly detailed when it comes to moments full of embarrassment. Moments everyone else takes for granted. How Katie is betrayed by her body, which culminates in fear, rejection, and a feeling of having no control. Feeling full of doubt, because loved ones act out of pity. 'I felt more loved by her when I was miserable and in pain' - little shots like that between the mundane moments are what make this an emotionally charged response. Sway, sway - wham upside the head. Softly, softly - screams of pain.

I don't think the blurb does the content enough justice. It's far from just a story about a young woman who becomes a prisoner to a disease. It's far more than that. I wonder what a theatrical stage interpretation of this piece would look like.

This is an interesting one. It's a story written entirely in lyrical prose. It might not be everyone's cup of tea when it comes to style. You tend to get readers who want a story or want to read poetry.
I have to say I liked it, perhaps because it has a Shakespearean sonnet vibe, but more because Cay brings a compelling narrative to the table.

It's honest and doesn't pull any punches, especially when it comes to pain, pain management and having a sexual relationship with the physical and psychological limitations of an autoimmune disease. It's a speculative exploration of voice and words.

Saturday, 25 July 2020

#BlogBlitz #Audiobook Wombat and Jones - The Great Banana Mystery by Arran Francis


Today it's my turn on the BlogBlitz for the Audiobook Wombat and Jones - The Great Banana Mystery by Arran Francis.
About the Author 
Arran Francis is the creator of multiple series for BBC's CBeebies Radio and has worked as an audiobook producer on behalf of MacMillan Audio, Audible and Harper Collins. He launched Wombat and Jones Audio in 2019 with the aim of writing children’s novels to be released exclusively in audiobook format.

The audiobooks for the Daisy May’s Daydream Parade and Wombat & Jones series were released last summer with further books in the series and standalone titles being scheduled for publication in 2020.

Follow @wombatandjones on Twitteron Goodreads, on Facebook, on Instagram, Buy Wombat and Jones - The Great Banana Mystery

About the book
Wombat and Jones are excited to attend the famous Boris Beaker's banana bread baking class and like many other friends in town they can't wait to get to work on making scrumptious banana bread. However, there’s just one problem — before class gets underway, Boris discovers that all of the bananas have gone missing!

Boris Beaker and his disappointed students know there is no chance they can make banana bread without this key ingredient, but Wombat isn’t willing to give up that easily. Putting her investigative skills to the test, she gets help from her trusty sidekick — Furlock Jones — and together they attempt to solve The Great Banana Mystery.

Written by author Arran Francis, creator of multiple series for BBC's CBeebies Radio, Wombat & Jones: The Great Banana Mystery is a funny tale about friendship, problem-solving, and teamwork. Simple mistakes and jumping to conclusions can happen after all, but Wombat & Jones try their best to put it right and learn from them. 


Review
The famous sleuth Wombat and his sidekick Furlock are on the case when all the bananas go missing. bananas that are desperately needed for the baking class run by Boris Beaker. No bananas means no banana bread! It's a difficult job looking for elusive yellow fruit, but someone has to do it.

I have said this before and I can't say it enough - audiobooks really are a forgotten art of storytelling. They make me think of the way tales, folklore and legends were passed on throughout history. Audiobooks give listeners the opportunity to experience stories without having to read and it also conjures up a whole new world of imagination.

Experiencing sounds, noises, different voices without the all encompassing visual aids stories usually come with, is something I highly recommend for children. Learning to take a moment and enjoy is something I think society has lost in general.

It's a shame that the children who listen to this audiobook won't really be able to appreciate the tongue-in-cheek humour when it comes to the character names. Wombat and Furlock Jones, Boris Beaker - I love it. Although I have to say Wombat is clearly the one in charge when it comes to the investigations or mystery, despite him being the Watson to the Sherlock - Furlock. And Boris Beaker just happens to be a duck with a German accent. Luckily the narration absolutely matches the humour the author has infused this story with.

#BlogTour Blackwatertown by Paul Waters


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Blackwatertown by Paul Waters.
About the Author
Paul Waters is an award-winning BBC producer and co-presenter of the We’d Like A Word books and authors podcast, shortlisted for 2020 Books Podcast of the Year. Paul grew up in Belfast during ‘the Troubles’ and went on to report and produce for BBC TV and radio.

His claim to fame is making Pelé his dinner. Paul has covered US politics, created a G8 Summit in a South African township, gone undercover in Zimbabwe, conducted football crowds, reported from Swiss drug shooting-up rooms, smuggled a satellite dish into Cuba and produced the World Service’s
first live coverage of the 9/11 attacks on America.

He also taught in Poland, drove a cab in England, busked in Wales, was a night club cook in New York, designed computer systems in Dublin, presented podcasts for Germans and organised music festivals for beer drinkers. He lives in Buckinghamshire and has two children.

Follow @PaulWaters99 on Twitteron Goodreadson Amazon, Visit paulwatersauthor.comBuy Blackwatertown


About the book
When maverick police sergeant Jolly Macken is banished to a sleepy 1950s Irish border village, he vows to find the killer of his brother – even if the murderer is in the police. But a lot can happen in a week. Over seven days Macken falls in love, uncovers dark family secrets, accidentally starts a war, and is hailed a hero and branded a traitor. When Blackwatertown explodes into violence, who can he trust? And is betrayal the only way to survive?

Review
The story begins with the way life is in general for Macken. Never quite on the right side of any situation and always just slightly short of a complete disaster. Banished to a backwater town he struggles to set a single foot right.

Macken tries to overcome the attitude of the majority, the mob-like nature of a code of silence. Familiarity breeds contempt, especially when everyone thinks you're the enemy. Not exactly an easy place to be in when you are trying to solve a case, and even more so when everyone thinks you're a traitor. Poor Macken just can't seem to catch a break.

What is Blackwatertown - a scathing commentary, a comedy of circumstance, a mystery or political minefield in the midst of a rural quagmire of religious undertones. As a reader it was sometimes a toss-up between smirking, feeling sorry for the character or anger at the entire situation.

I think prior knowledge, political and historical context are absolutely everything when it comes to this read. Without that the story can be perceived as a satirical commentary with plenty of comedic moments. It's easy to overlook the more serious undertone that flows throughout the piece, but to be honest it's what the world tends to do when it comes to Northern Ireland and the volatile, and divisive, history that comes with it.

Waters plays upon the above a wee bit, so depending on where you stand and interpret the story this will be a different reading experience. Blissfully unaware or acutely aware. Aware of the toxicity and hatred that flows like a mighty river underneath the people. Either way it's a good yarn.

Buy Blackwatertown at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound Digital; pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Friday, 24 July 2020

#BlogTour A Good Match for the Major by Josie Bonham


Today it's my turn on the BlogTour A Good Match for the Major by Josie Bonham.
About the Author
Josie lives in the English midlands, surrounded by towns full of history such as Evesham, Stratford-Upon- Avon, Warwick and Worcester. Which is perhaps why her favourite reads are historical. Out of all the periods to choose from the Regency Era stirs her imagination the most. The true Regency lasted from 1811 until 1820 but dates as wide as 1789 to 1837 have been included in the extended Regency period. For Josie the true flavour of this period emerges after the iniquitous hair powder tax of 1795, unsurprisingly, scuppered the fashion for hair powder almost overnight.

Josie has always dabbled in stories but it took the combined efforts of her sister and eldest niece to set her on the path to writing novels. Her Regency romances, with a dash of adventure and intrigue, are the result.

About the book
Pride meets prejudice – can love blossom?
Beautiful young widow, Lady Eliza Wyndham, is determined never to remarry after a disastrous first marriage. The undeniable attraction that fizzes between her and Major Nathaniel Overton terrifies her. She rejects his advances.

With his pride badly dented, Nat vows to forget Eliza until he finds her in danger from an old adversary of his army days. His protective instincts are stirred and he steps back into her life, but will Eliza be prepared to accept his help.

Review
When Nat and Eliza crash into each other neither of them expects to find someone who can help to heal wounds and give each other what they want the most. Instead it's a case of Eliza being irritated and strangely aroused in equal measures and for Nat it's being attracted to the most annoying young woman.

But there is no such thing as plain sailing in the world of love, especially not when that world is structured by strict societal rules that prohibit a blossoming relationship. A relationship Eliza is reluctant to entertain. Personally I wouldn't spend that much time trying to convince someone who is so opposed to being loved by me. Nat gets a rough deal.

It's a sweet and tender story of love and helping Eliza to trust in her own emotions and in a man again. Nat gives her time, space and understanding. There is plenty of tension and build-up, a sensual game of lovers to be.

Bonham gives her readers a regency read that reminded me of the bodice rippers of the 80s, but with more of a gentle touch when it comes to the culmination of desires. It's an age old tale of love, apparent opposites who find each other irresistible and have no intention of admitting it to each other.

I think it's a perfect read for readers who love romance and even more when it falls under the category of Regency Romance.