Sunday 30 August 2020

#BlogTour The Queen's Rival by Anne O'Brien

It's a pleasure to take part on the BlogTour The Queen's Rival by Anne O'Brien.

About the Author
Sunday Times bestselling author Anne O'Brien was born in West Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master's in Education at Hull, she lived in East Yorkshire for many years as a teacher of history. Today she has sold over 250,000 copies of her books in the UK and lives with her husband in an eighteenth-century cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire. The area provides endless inspiration for her novels about the forgotten women of history.

Follow @anne_obrien on Twitter, on Amazonon Goodreadson Facebook,Visit, Buy The Queen's Rival

About the book
England, 1459: Cecily, Duchess of York, is embroiled in a plot to topple the weak-minded King Henry VI from the throne. But when the Yorkists are defeated at the Battle of Ludford Bridge, Cecily’s family flee and abandon her to face a marauding Lancastrian army on her own.

Cecily can only watch as her lands are torn apart and divided up by the ruthless Queen Marguerite. From the towers of her prison in Tonbridge Castle, the Duchess begins to spin a web of deceit – one that will eventually lead to treason, to the fall of King Henry VI, and to her eldest son being crowned King of England.

This is a story of heartbreak, ambition and treachery, of one woman’s quest to claim the throne during the violence and tragedy of the Wars of the Roses.

At the beginning we meet a woman who is forced to ensure the safety of herself and her offspring as her husband and elder sons run from the battle at Ludford Bridge and leave her to deal with the consequences of their actions.

I really enjoyed the way O'Brien wrote the story for the majority in correspondence form. Letters written by Cecily and to Cecily. She captures the complex familial and political machinations, the threats and the constantly changing political landscape of the monarchy.

Using the story of one woman to show the power behind the throne, the complexity of the wars that determined the path of our history, and simultaneously give us the rich and fascinating turmoil that gripped and ripped the country apart.The Yorkists and the Lancastrians, the bloodline of the Plantagenets and the retrospectively named infamous War of the Roses. Proving that actual history is better than any fictional historical novel.

As O'Brien mentions herself she doesn't delve into the disappearance of the two princes in the tower. She stops short of that with Cecily's approval and support for her son Richard III. I actually found the last few chapters quite intriguing. They speak more to her ruthlessness, her need to assert her own birthright and that of her children, and the lengths she is willing to go to in order to maintain her reputation and position. One wonders is a push like that or affirmation all it took for a man driven by ambition to commit a crime as yet unsolved.

I think this was O'Brien at her best, perhaps even her best yet. The way it was constructed really highlighted the weaknesses and strengths of the characters, and the fickle nature of the beast called power, which truly does corrupt. I really enjoyed the style the author chose and the ambiguity of the last few chapters. An excellent read by O'Brien yet again.

Buy The Queen's Rival at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Waterstones.

Read my review A Tapestry of Treason and Queen of the North by Anne O'Brien.

Friday 28 August 2020

#BlogTour The Naseby Horses by Dominic Brownlow

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Naseby Horses by Dominic Brownlow.
About the Author
Dominic Brownlow lives near Peterborough with his two children. He lived in London and worked in the music industry as a manager before setting up his own independent label. He now enjoys life in the Fens and has an office that looks out over water. The Naseby Horses is his first novel. It was long listed for the Bath Novel Award 2016.

Follow @DominicBrownlow on TwitterVisit and buy Louise Walters Books, on Goodreads, on AmazonBuy The Naseby Horses

About the book
Seventeen-year-old Simon’s sister Charlotte is missing. The lonely Fenland village the family recently moved to from London is odd, silent, and mysterious. Simon is epileptic and his seizures are increasing in severity, but when he is told of the local curse of the Naseby Horses, he is convinced it has something to do with Charlotte’s disappearance. Despite resistance from the villagers, the police, and his own family, Simon is determined to uncover the truth, and save his sister.

Under the oppressive Fenland skies and in the heat of a relentless June, Simon’s bond with Charlotte is fierce, all-consuming, and unbreakable; but can he find her? And does she even want to be found?

Drawing on philosophy, science, and the natural world, The Naseby Horses is a moving exploration of the bond between a brother and his sister; of love; and of the meaning of life itself.

Simon's sister Charlotte is missing and Simon also suffers frequent epileptic seizures. Both of these storylines are important because they become interwoven to the point of not being able to separate the two.

The seizures leave him with lost moments and memories. Blank spaces where memories should be. He isn't even sure he doesn't know what happened to his sister and other people are definitely starting to get suspicious. Is it just all too convenient that he can't remember anything? Did he hurt her, kill her and just forget? Does he know where she is?

Now and again it suffered from moments of hyper-intellectual moments, ergo trying to either outsmart the reader or create a scene or atmosphere without sharing enough information for the reader to enjoy it the way it was intended. On the flip side perhaps that was the intention - keep everyone in the dark including Simon. Very much the kind of read that should have a visual representation sometimes.

I liked it though. I was trying to recall what it reminded me of from a stylistic point of view. It has this very specific atmospheric element that Brownlow evokes through surroundings, visceral responses, myths and local folklore.

Literary fiction is sometimes a marmite read, perhaps more so when the author adds a noirish element to the mix. For me it also wandered into the realms of magical realism, mystery and strong emotional connections between siblings. Not necessarily what we all experience with siblings, but apparently it's a real thing and absolutely does happen. (Yes, that is sarcasm)

Buy The Naseby Horses at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published in paperback, hardcover and digital formats by Louise Walters Book on 24th August 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Waterstones. At Book Depository. At Blackwell's. At Foyles.

#BlogTour The Night of Shooting Stars by Ben Pastor

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Night of Shooting Stars by Ben Pastor.
About the Author
Ben Pastor, pseudonym of Maria Verbena Volpi, was born in Italy. She lived for thirty years in the United States, working as a university professor in Vermont, before returning to Italy to write historical thrillers. She is one of the most talented writers in the field of historical fiction. In 2008 she won the prestigious Premio Zaragoza for best historical fiction. She writes in English.

Follow Ben Pastor on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit benpastor.comBuy The Night of the Shooting Stars

About the book
Berlin, July 1944, a few weeks before the attempted assassination of Hitler by Claus von Stauffenberg and other conspirators. Bora has been called back from the Italian Front to investigate the murder of a dazzling clairvoyant with Nazi connections.

Soon Bora realizes that there is much more at stake than murder in a city where everyone is talking about a conspiracy aimed at the Nazi hierarchy. Bora eventually meets with Stauffenberg. Are the plotters a group of heroes devoted to the salvation of Germany at the cost of their own lives, or a bunch of opportunists compromised from the beginning with the Nazi regime and now looking for a new virginity in the eyes of the Western Allies and Stalinist Russia?

After reading this I went back and read The Horseman's Song by Ben Pastor again, because this book really reminded me how much I enjoy her writing. I also have to say that although both are set in the Martin Bora series and are deeply enmeshed in stories of wartime turmoil, warfare, politics and atrocities committed in the name of political, religious and ideological beliefs - they are two completely different reads.

The fact that Bora is a soldier at heart, who believes his place should be under fire with his men at the front, even if it means almost certain death, is a trait that tends to drive a lot of the read. Also something that was very evident in the Spanish Civil war (Horseman's Song) book. This sense of brotherhood, camaraderie and comprehension of the hardship.

In this one the moral dilemma of the regime sets the tone or perhaps the fact that the majority became disassociated from the murder and violence, which is why it becomes almost normal to talk about the horrendous slaughter of innocents.

The failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler by Claus von Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators is usually written from the perspective of the Allies, those who wanted him dead and those brave enough to recognise the destruction he brought upon his country, the world and of course the victims of his eugenics ideology.

Pastor turns that around a little, and to be fair the topic is a source of debate with historians, and presents men with ulterior motives, as opposed to the honourable failed saviours the world perceives them to be.

It's superbly written historical fiction with a crime embedded in fact.

Buy The Night of Shooting Stars at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Bitter Lemon Press; pub date 20 Aug. 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Bitter Lemon Press.

Read my review of The Horseman's Song by Ben Pastor.

#BlogTour Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terrace by Fay Keenan

It's my turn on the BlogTour Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terrace by Fay Keenan.
About the Author
Fay Keenan is the author of the bestselling Little Somerby series of novels. She has led writing workshops with Bristol University and has been a visiting speaker in schools. She is a full-time teacher and lives in Somerset.

Follow @faykeenan on Twitteron Amazon, on Goodreads, on Instagram, on Youtubeon Facebook, on Pinterest, on Bookbub, Visit faykeenan.comBuy Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terrace

About the book
As the snowflakes fall, new love blossoms...
When teacher Florence Ashton receives a surprise inheritance, she decides to make the life-changing decision to up sticks to the charming town of Willowbury in Somerset. With a new house and a new job, she’s too busy putting down roots to think about love.

Air Ambulance pilot Sam Ellis is definitely not looking for romance either, especially not on his doorstep. When Florence, his new neighbour, complains about his noisy housemate, he feels more cross than star-crossed.

But as the nights draw in and both find themselves thrown together in Willowbury’s seasonal drama production, will they overcome their differences and allow a little bit of winter magic to fall along with the snow? And what secrets will be revealed by the box of memories Florence finds in the attic at Bay Tree Terrace?

Inheriting a house from her aunt is the last thing Florence expects, but perhaps exactly the right thing for her. New house, new life and new Florence? Except it all comes with a few bumps in the road, one of which is the noisy next door neighbours who are driving her crazy.Turns out the brothers aren't so bad and one of them is also on the handsome side.

The return to Willowbury is a step into nostalgic memories and also into a chance to make new memories and perhaps free her from past and present, which has become a stagnated reality of repetitious and unfulfilling patterns. It's time for something that makes her really happy.

Keenan gives readers an uplifting escapist read, and yes it is a jingle bell jolly one. Christmas romcoms give readers a very specific type of comfort, and if I'm being completely honest it is probably exactly what the majority of readers need right now. A bit like my mother watching a channel full of Christmas movies all the time to cheer herself up.

The author captures the smalltown feel and the community spirit that exists in places where everyone knows your name, your business and what you ate for breakfast. The kind of feeling and community that embraces Florence and gives her what she desires the most. A home, love, and people who care for her.

Buy Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terrace at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.  Publisher: Boldwood Books; pub date 20 Aug. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Thursday 27 August 2020

#BlogTour My Travels with a Dead Man by Steve Searls

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour My Travels with a Dead Man by Steve Searls.
About the Author
Steve Searls retired from the practice of law in 2002 due to a rare chronic autoimmune disorder (Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Cell Associated Periodic Syndrome). He began writing poetry in 2001 and, using the pseudonym, Tara Birch, was the featured poet of Tryst Poetry Journal’s Premiere Issue.

He’s also published numerous poems as Tara Birch in print and online, including the poetry chapbook, Carrots and Bleu Cheese Dip, in 2004.  Steve was also active as a blogger posting under the name, Steven D, at Daily Kos (2005-2017), Booman Tribune (2005-2017) and caucus99percent (2016–present). Steve’s published essays on Medium include “Clara’s Miracle,” about his wife’s cancer and resulting traumatic brain injury from chemotherapy, and “My Rape Story.” Raised in Colorado, he now lives with his adult son in Western NY.  My Travels With a Dead Man is his first novel.

Follow @SteveDBT on Twitteron Facebook, on Instagram, on Amazon, on Goodreads, Visit, Buy My Travels with a Dead Man

About the book
Jane Takako Wolfsheim learns she can alter time and space after meeting a charismatic stranger named Jorge Luis Borges.

Inextricably she falls for Borges. Soon, however Borges’ lies and emotional abuse, and nightmares about a demonic figure, “the man in black,” nearly drive Jane mad. After her parents are murdered, Jane flees with Borges. Both the ghost of haiku master, Basho, and the Daibutsu of Kamakura, a statue of Buddha that appears in her dreams, offer her cryptic advice. Unable to trust anyone, Jane must find the strength to save herself, her unborn child, and possibly the future of humanity.

It all begins with Jane having some kind of seizure one day and being rescued by a stranger. When said stranger comes back into her life after quite a while she think it's coincidence, but he says it was always going to happen. He knew that their paths would cross again.

They take a trip to Japan together, which allegedly never happened, and her parents are suddenly dead. She has no memory of either of them passing.No matter what Jane believes Jorge always contradicts her memories and emotions. It makes her doubt herself.

It's hard to keep track of whether Jane is sane or insane. Is the reader in the middle of her brain injury induced dream world. Is she losing time and suffering from some form of a mental health issue? To be fair I'm not sure even Jane knows the answer to that question.

Are the figures who approach her with wisdom, advice and a way forward a figment of her imagination or her subconscious reaching out to warn her? They seem to think she experienced what she thinks she experienced, and yet the man she loves seems to have taken up gas-lighting as a hobby.

I think the construct of a great premise is there it just gets bogged down by jumps, inconsistencies and superfluous information. It made the read a little Clockwork Orange meets acid trip and fell into a time space continuum, but without the other planets element. It's what I would call speculative fiction, which can go wherever it chooses to go.

Buy My Travels with a Dead Man at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.  Publisher: Black Rose Writing; 27 Aug. 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at At BlackRoseWriting.

#BlogTour The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai. A sweeping, evocative family saga, set against the backdrop of twentieth century Việt Nam.
About the Author
Born in Vietnam in 1973, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai grew up in the aftermath of the war and witnessed its devastation on her country. She worked as a street seller and rice farmer before winning a scholarship to attend university in Australia. She is the author of eight books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction published in Vietnamese, and her writing has been translated and published in more than 10 countries, most recently in Norton’s Inheriting the War anthology. Her work has received the Hanoi Writers Association 'Poetry of the Year' Award (2010). She lives with her family in Jakarta.

Follow @nguyen_p_quemai on Twitteron Goodreads, Visit nguyenphanquemai.comBuy The Mountains Sing

About the book
Born in 1920, Tran Dieu Lan and her family lost everything when the Communist government came to power in North Việt Nam. Forced to flee with her six children, she knows she must do whatever it takes to keep her family alive.

Fifty years later, her country is again at war, and her young granddaughter Huong grieves the loss of her parents, who have disappeared to the South along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Vivid, compelling and deeply moving, The Mountains Sing introduces a Vietnamese voice to the post-war literary canon. Drawing on her family history, and the stories of other survivors, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s debut novel in English, brings to life the true human cost of a devastating war, and the improbable power of hope to sustain us when all seems lost.

I think it's important to note that the majority of books written about Vietnam tend to be written from the perspective of the outsider, occupier or the invader. Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai tells it from the perspective of the insider, albeit a fictional story mixed with factual memories and eyewitness accounts.

The story is told by the grandmother Trấn Diệu Lan and Hủỏng her granddaughter. Some of the scenes are set before the 1970s  and told in first-person by the grandmother and others post 1970 by the granddaughter. Often the story is narrated by Trấn Diệu Lan as a young woman, whilst in the next chapter she may be recounting a memory or telling a story as an old woman.

Often the two characters become intermingled and sound quite similar, which I personally thought was intent from a storytelling perspective. Making the reader more aware that it is but mere chance which one of them lives through certain trauma, especially if you live in a country that is in constant conflict that pits neighbour, friends and family against each other.

The author creates a scenario of granddaughter and grandmother, which is an homage to the grandmothers she never knew and wished she had, and inserts the story with an atmosphere of nostalgia. Now that might seem like a bizarre thing to say given the brutal details of violence, oppression, grief, betrayal and anger, but it's there you can feel it. The lyrical prose lends itself to exactly that sense of longing, the visceral connection to country of birth and ancestors, and ultimately to one of loss.

It's easy to forget that the country in the midst of war, especially one with a division like that of North and South Vietnam, becomes torn to the point of devastation and destruction. Those who remain have to rebuild and to live with the nightmares, and often make a choice between letting pain and anger eat away at them or trying to regain some semblance of peace.

Buy The Mountains Sing at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Oneworld Publications; pub date 20 August 2020 - Hardback £14.99. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at One World Publications.

Wednesday 26 August 2020

#BlogTour Tipping Point by Emily Benet

Today it's my turn in the BlogTour Tipping Point by Emily Benet.
About the Author
Emily Benet is a journalist, award-winning blogger and author of contemporary fiction. Her books include the blog-to-book Shop Girl Diaries, Wattpad hit Spray Painted Bananas and social media romcom #PleaseRetweet. She lives in Mallorca with her husband and daughter and the sunny island is the setting for her latest novels The Hen Party and Tipping Point. She writes regularly for the luxury lifestyle magazine abcMallorca.

About the book
The sun ... the ocean ... the farmhouse ... the scammer... the police... the 3-legged dog?

George and Ellen have retired to sunny Mallorca. Social butterfly Ellen is itching to make yacht-owning friends while George's heart is set on a secluded farmhouse in the country. In fact, now that they're no longer living busy London lives, they're beginning to realise they have very different ideas of happiness.

Private investigator Salva specialises in cases of adultery. That's why it's particularly embarrassing that he didn't realise his long-term girlfriend has been cheating on him. He has no time to nurse a broken heart, since his family are the victims of a property scam they urgently need him to solve.

Robyn Chase is giving talks on her self-help book, No More Toxic Relationships - 7 Years, 7 Lessons. She's finding it awkward being a relationship guru when her own boyfriend is avoiding her.

The sun is shining in Mallorca and everything looks beautiful. But the residents of one particular apartment block are about to discover it all might be too good to be true.

The four main characters of the story, Salva, Robyn, Ellen and George, all live in the same apartment block. It's a bit like multiple storylines with characters and moments that intersect here and there.

The story of Ellen and George was very relatable. Friends of mine are going through a similar experience of being married for many decades and retirement resulting in being confronted by the stranger you call your spouse.

The odd habits, the lack of physical attraction and sexual frustration in equal measures. Being annoyed by the things you used to find charming and amusing, and feeling the seeds of discontent and perhaps even hatred being sown. Ellen wants to live life to the fullest and experience excitement in every way shape and form, unlike George who wants to live a quiet life in a Majorcan farmhouse. The two couldn't be more different in their approach to what they want for the rest of their lives.

Salva is a private investigator, who is great at his job, but bad at noticing his relationship crumbling. And then there is relationship guru Robyn, who writes a good yarn and yet in reality her own life isn't exactly perfect.

Benet catches the way our lives are interwoven with each other, which is often just based on fleeting connections and other times substantial relationships can grow. I think Ellen and George serve as a reminder that we often have partners for certain periods of our lives and they are exactly right for some periods of our lives, but not right for others.

We go through growth and change, the kind of change that makes us take a closer look at what makes us happy and content. If where you are at right now doesn't - then change it, regardless of whether the change is your partner, home, country or job. Don't stagnate and dwell in a quagmire of dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Want change or a different kind of happy or peace - go find it. Life isn't looking for you it's waiting for you to come looking for it. That's what I took from this read.

Buy Tipping Point at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Little Cactus Publishing; pub date 5 May 2020. Buy at Amazon com

Monday 24 August 2020

#BlogTour Jacob's Advice by Jude Cook

It's a pleasure to kick off and take part in the BlogTour Jacob's Advice by Jude Cook.
Two cousins search for their Jewish identity in the Paris of 2015.
About the Author
Jude Cook is the author of Byron Easy. He also writes for The Guardian,The Spectator, Literary Review, New Statesman, TLS, while his essays and short fiction have appeared in Stockholm Review, The Moth, and The Honest Ulsterman, among others. In 2017, he was longlisted for the Pin
Drop RA short story award, and in 2018 for the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award. He is an editor for The Literary Consultancy and teaches creative writing at the University of Westminster. Jude lives in London.

Follow @judecook_ on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit, Buy Jacob's Advice

About the book
Larry Frost, a British pharmacologist living in Paris, is exuberant, charismatic, wildly opinionated. He’s also convinced he’s Jewish – or at least he’s long had his hopes. But his search for what he believes is his true identity produces more questions than answers.

In early 2015, following the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, Larry is joined by his sceptical older cousin, Nick Newman. Divorced, separated from his son and desperately trying to understand his own place in the world, Nick is drawn inextricably into Larry’s slipstream as they walk the fractured, uneasy, magical streets of Paris.

Then, in November, terrorism strikes the city again. With Paris and the cousins still reeling from the trauma, Larry receives the information he’s urgently been seeking: a long-held family secret that will change both their lives forever.

Set against a backdrop of extremism, nationalism and the resurgence of antisemitism, Jacob’s Advice is a timely exploration of identity, race, family and the inescapable nature of the past.

Larry's search for his identity and roots is an interesting storyline. He feels connected and is convinced that he has Jewish heritage. The result of his search and Jacob's reaction is such an important moment. Cook draws parallels to the past, what Larry wants also comes with a certain burden, a burden that shouldn't be sought out perhaps.

For me the following words encompass the poignancy of the read, at least the importance of living life to its fullest, which includes exploring and enjoying the joy and not just the trauma. 'Adorno said there could be no poetry after Auschwitz, but he was wrong. There has to be! There must be! Or we are all lost.'

Life without pleasure, enjoying the arts, life in general, the beauty, and passing those things on and around to further generations. What better way to set in stone, for all those who wish harm to them that Jews and their faith with persevere, as they have done through the centuries and plenty of attempts to destroy them.

Aside from a need to identify his heritage there is also part of him that thinks it is a bit like having a grandmother who was allegedly a Cherokee princess. Instead of truly comprehending the history that comes with it and the persecution. Walking the streets of Paris after a hate driven attack helps to put life into perspective, even if Nick is always more enamoured with his own emotional needs and invested in himself to take on board how others may be feeling.

It's an intriguing balancing act of reality and expectations. The world and relationships they would like to have and lead, and then the brutal honesty of what that truth means. Belonging to someone, something, especially in times when belonging could mean the difference between life and death.

Buy Jacob's Advice at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound; pub date 20 Aug. 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Unbound.

Sunday 23 August 2020

#BlogTour We Just Clicked by Anna Bell

Today it's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour We Just Clicked by Anna Bell.

About the Author
Anna Bell lives in the South of France with her young family and energetic Labrador. When not chained to her laptop, Anna can be found basking in the sun in the summer, heading to the ski slopes in the winter (to drink hot chocolate and watch - she can't ski) or having a sneaky treat fo the patisserie - all year round! We Just Clicked is Anna's eighth novel.

Follow @AnnaBell_writes on Twitter, on Amazon, on Goodreads, Visit, Buy We Just Clicked

About the book
Izzy Brown has always dreamed of being an Instagram influencer. So when her colleague and fellow Instagrammer Luke suggests they ‘fake date’ to boost their profiles, Izzy says yes – against her better judgement.

Now Izzy’s profile tells the story of a confident, glamorous thirty-something with the perfect boyfriend, and her follower numbers are shooting upwards. So what if Izzy can’t stop bickering with Luke, his habit of checking his quiff in every single mirror is driving her insane, and behind the scenes she’s hiding a secret heartache? Everyone tells a few fibs on social media, right?

But when Izzy runs into Aidan, the mysterious stranger who saved her the day her world fell apart two years ago, major sparks start to fly between them. Izzy’s sure she can have the online success she’s always dreamed of, whilst continuing to fall in love – and heal her heart – in real life. After all, Aidan doesn’t use social media… what could possibly go wrong?

Izzy wants to be an Instagram influencer, the kind of influencer everyone flocks to and follows. At the moment her posts aren't getting enough traction, however she is certainly getting plenty of teasing from her friends and colleagues. She is obsessed, perhaps more because it has become a refuge after a tragedy in her life.

She agrees to be one half of a popular Insta couple to get lots of likes and sponsorship deals. What she doesn't count on is her fake relationship standing in the way of a possible real one.

I know this is a rom-com, but I have to say what really resonated with me was the storyline of loss and grief. The whole fake relationship story, love connection and obsession with social media and acceptance of self is good, but weaving the loss of a loved one into the tale takes the whole thing up a notch.

Bell does that really well without letting one thing overshadow the other. It gives the read a smooth flow and a subtle poignancy to the story. It's not only the moment where a small act of kindness gives comfort at the right time, it's also the way the grief ripples through the years and leaves its mark on every person it touches.

That might sound like this is a sad read, but it isn't. It's funny and relevant for the times we live in. Where worth is judged on likes, follows and popularity, even if it means faking it to make it.

Buy We Just Clicked at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 16 April 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Road Kill: The Duchess of Frisian Tun by Pete Adams

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Road Kill: The Duchess of Frisian Tun by Pete Adams.
About the Author
Pete Adams is an architect with a practice in Portsmouth, UK, and from there he has, over forty years, designed and built buildings across England and Wales. Pete took up writing after listening to a radio interview of the writer Michael Connolly whilst driving home from Leeds. A passionate reader, the notion of writing his own novel was compelling, but he had always been told you must have a mind map for the book; Jeez, he could never get that.

Et Voila, Connolly responding to a question, said he never can plan a book, and starts with an idea for chapter one and looks forward to seeing where it would lead. Job done, and that evening Pete started writing and the series, Kind Hearts and Martinets, was on the starting blocks. That was some eight years ago, and hardly a day has passed where Pete has not worked on his writing, and currently, is halfway through his tenth book, has a growing number of short stories, one, critically acclaimed and published by Bloodhound, and has written and illustrated a series of historical nonsense stories called, Whopping Tales.

Pete describes himself as an inveterate daydreamer, and escapes into those dreams by writing crime thrillers with a thoughtful dash of social commentary. He has a writing style shaped by his formative years on an estate that re-housed London families after WWII, and his books have been likened to the writing of Tom Sharpe; his most cherished review, "made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think".

Pete lives in Southsea with his partner, and Charlie the star-struck Border terrier, the children having flown the coop, and has 3 beautiful granddaughters who will play with him so long as he promises not to be silly.

Follow @Peteadams8 on Twitter, on Facebookon Amazon, on GoodreadsBuy Road Kill: The Duchess of Frisian Tun

About the book
Cataclysmic events have occurred in the decorous upper middle class enclave within Southsea, Portsmouth, on the south coast of England.

But what were the circumstances that contributed to this violent clash involving a Sherman tank and a bazooka? The strange occurrence is Investigated by Lord Everard Pimple, a naive, upper class twit who not only inadvertently opens a can of worms, but has an introduction into the world of womanly wiles.

Everard's life is about to blow up like an atom bomb... he just doesn't know it yet. But after the dust settles, will he still be standing?

This is a kind of a spin-off of the Kind Hearts And Martinets series, a life after scenario for certain characters. Characters who aren't bound by the rule of law as much as in the KHAM series, which takes it from a very much police procedural to a character driven experience of unfortunate mishaps and oddities, as the DaDa Detective Agency attempt to solve their first case.

Adams takes a slightly different approach this time in regards to writing style and voice. It has a more quirky and eccentric tone with intermittent dialogues with the reader or listener. As if someone were pausing a play to gossip alongside about the characters and the events.

In fact the story often reads like a staged play with characters straight out of a combo between a Poirot episode, where the crimes are all set in one grand place and an Agatha Raisin comedy of unfortunate events.

I think it could have done with more clarity, less assumption that the reader will get the gist and comprehend both mood, style and the flow. It's a read that fits into the category of cosy crime with an emphasis on the quirk and eccentricity.

It's filled with dark British humour, which might be a bit of a Marmite read for some, but others will find hilariously entertaining. Sharp wit and typical awkward class system structures.

Buy Road Kill: The Duchess of Frisian Tun at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published in paperback and digital formats by Next Chapter Publishing on 19th August 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review Irony in the Soul by Pete Adams.

Saturday 22 August 2020

#BlogTour The Bitch by Pilar Quintana

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Bitch by Pilar Quintana, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman.

This book has been selected to receive financial assistance from English PEN’s Writers in Translation programme supported by Bloomberg and Arts Council England. English PEN exists to promote literature and its understanding, uphold writers’ freedoms around the world, campaign against the persecution and imprisonment of writers for stating their views, and promote the friendly co-operation of writers and free exchange of ideas.

Each year, a dedicated committee of professionals selects books that are translated into English from a wide variety of foreign languages. We award grants to UK publishers to help translate, promote, market and champion these titles. Our aim is to celebrate books of outstanding literary quality, which have a clear link to the PEN charter and promote free speech and intercultural understanding.

In 2011, Writers in Translation’s outstanding work and contribution to diversity in the UK literary scene was recognised by Arts Council England. English PEN was awarded a threefold increase in funding to develop its support for world writing in translation. Visit

About the Author
Pilar Quintana lives in Colombia.  She debuted with Cosquillas en la lengua in 2003, and published Coleccionistas de polvos raros in 2007, the same year the Hay Festival selected her as one of the most promising young authors of Latin America. Her latest novel, The Bitch, won the prestigious Colombian Biblioteca de Narrativa Prize, and was selected for several Best Books of 2017 lists, as well as being chosen as one of the most valuable objects to preserve for future generations in a marble time capsule in Bogotá. The Bitch is the first of her works to be translated into English.

Follow @pili_quintana on Twitter, on Goodreads, on AmazonBuy The Bitch

About the book
Colombia’s Pacific coast, where everyday life entails warding off the brutal forces of nature. In this constant struggle, nothing is taken for granted. Damaris lives with her fisherman husband in a shack on a bluff overlooking the sea. Childless and at that age “when women dry up,” as her uncle puts it, she is eager to adopt an orphaned puppy. But this act may bring more than just affection into her home.

The Bitch is written in a prose as terse as the villagers, with storms―both meteorological and emotional―lurking around each corner. Beauty and dread live side by side in this poignant exploration of the many meanings of motherhood and love.

Damaris wants someone or something to love - to love unconditionally. A puppy destined to die without care and attention seems the perfect solution to her needs, although she may not realise why she has picked her.

I am renowned for metaphors and analogies, especially ones I make up on the spot and often can't remember afterwards. Quite brilliant ones, if I do say so myself - my adult children don't share my enthusiasm or think they are quite that brilliant. One day I shall remember the one about the elephant and the pizza slices.

Anyway my point is that Quintana writes a book about a woman and a dog, and yet it's not really about a woman and a dog. It's an incredibly clever piece of literary fiction. I do however think it is also like art - open to interpretation. Each reader, and we all know that reading is a subjective experience, will connect certain elements of the read with their own frame of references.

For myself I found the core was Damaris and her infertility. Her inability to produce a child makes her feel inadequate. Shame turns to anger, frustration and eventually despondency. Why does society have such a hold on her womb and her fertility, and why does her marriage begin to crumble at every sign of failure.

Her relationship with the puppy is a direct parallel to the mother she believes others want her to be, the mother she thinks she wants to be, and ultimately the very real fear that she will be a catastrophe as a mother. The thought of failure to give love results in a growing feeling of anger towards the dog.

The abandonment issues born from her own mother abandoning her are triggered by the dog consistently leaving and not returning. The natural behaviour of the dog is exaggerated and experienced as planned. A self-fulfilling prophecy of hatred and violence evolves from a barren woman scorned by her contemporaries and a fertile dog who mirrors both what she wants to be and who Damaris really is.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's the kind of story you can dissect in book clubs and in educational settings. The idea of what it means to be a woman living under the rule of a patriarchal society that decides what her worth is, and the awakening of said woman when they recognise their inability to conform. The problem is what happens to such a woman in the interim and when they feel driven to the extreme.

Buy The Bitch at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: World Editions; pub date 4 Aug. 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Waterstones.

Friday 21 August 2020

#BlogTour The Perfect Couple by Lisa Hall

Today it's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Perfect Couple by Lisa Hall.

About the Author
Lisa loves words, reading and everything there is to love about books. She has dreamed of being a writer since she was a little girl – either that or a librarian - and after years of talking about it, was finally brave enough to put pen to paper (and let people actually read it). Lisa lives in a small village in Kent, surrounded by her towering TBR pile, a rather large brood of children, dogs, chickens and ponies and her long-suffering husband. She is also rather partial to eating cheese and drinking wine.

Follow @LisaHallAuthor on Twitteron Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit The Perfect Couple

About the book
When Anna applies to a job as a housekeeper for wealthy widow Nick, it’s a chance to start over – steady job, regular money means she can work towards her own place, not sharing a grimy flatshare with old mate, Mel.

As Anna gets to know more about Nick’s world – how likes his supper when he comes in from work, who his friends are – she can make sure everything is just as he wants it. And soon there’s a spark of chemistry between them. Nick likes having Anna around, and one evening invites her to stay…

There’s just the small issue of what actually happened to his first wife…
Rupert is distraught by the death of his beloved wife Caro. He lets his life fall into chaos and isn't sure whether he should be happy or annoyed by the good intentions of his wife's best friends. Enter Emily stage left.

More or less hiding from her previous life and an abusive ex, Emily sees an advertisement for a housekeeper and thinks it is the perfect way to rebuild her life. It seems as if the fates have spoken. A lonely widower and a frightened woman looking for safety. The two of them are drawn to each other, although Emily is possibly more attracted to the kind of life Rupert can offer her.

Bob's your uncle and they are man and wife, perhaps with a little too much haste. Emily becomes the target of harassment and that's without the bookend witches that guard Rupert and his virtue - they make mean girls look nice. Rupert is disappointed that his new bride appears a wee bit on the paranoid and oversensitive side. The sweet boat of matrimony sails upon rocky waters.

I like the way Hall thinks. This kind of twisted no man's land of guilt and innocence. Do two wrongs make a right, does the end justify the means?

It's a fast-paced intriguing domestic thriller, and Hall doesn't disappoint when she delivers the kind of ending that tends to make me smile. I do so love a bit of wickedness.

Buy The Perfect Couple at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 22 Jun. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Have You Seen her by Lisa Hall.

#BlogTour The Last Charm by Ella Allbright

Today it's Happy Publication Day for The Last Charm by Ella Allbright and my turn on the BlogTour.

Enter the fantastic Giveaway below to Win Dorset and Reading themed goodies to celebrate The Last Charm by Ella Allbright (UK Only)
About the Author
A self-confessed reading addict, Ella Allbright writes commercial women’s fiction set in her beautiful home county of Dorset. Her first novel in this genre, The Charm Bracelet will be published in August 2020 by One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins, and she’s currently hard at work on her next book. Ella is represented by agent Hattie Grünewald at The Blair Partnership, who represent J.K. Rowling.

Ella also writes as Nikki Moore, the author of the popular #LoveLondon romance series. A number of the novellas featured in the Top 100 short story charts on Kobo and the Top 20 in the Amazon UK bestsellers Holiday chart, and in 2018 the collection was released in Italy. Her first published work was the short story A Night to Remember in the best selling Mills & Boon / RNA anthology Truly, Madly, Deeply. Her debut romance Crazy, Undercover, Love was shortlisted for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award 2015.

When not writing or reading, she can be found working in her HR day job, walking the family’s cute beagle puppy or watching a Netflix series!

Follow @NikkiMoore_Auth on Twitter, on Facebook, on Amazon and on Amazon as Ella, She also vlogs about how to get published as ‘Author By The Sea’ on her YouTube channel - on Youtube, Ella on Goodreads as Nikki on Goodreads, Visit, Buy The Last Charm

About the book
Leila’s charm bracelet tells a story of love, a story of loss, a story of hope. This is the story of her … and the story of Jake.

When Leila Jones loses her precious charm bracelet and a stranger finds it, she has to tell the story of how she got the charms to prove she’s the owner. Each and every one is a precious memory of her life with Jake.

So Leila starts at the beginning, recounting the charms and experiences that have led her to the present. A present she never could have expected when she met Jake nearly twenty years ago…
When Leila and Jake meet one of them is being dragged from the home she adores and the other has moved into it. Jake is fascinated by her creativity and feels sorry for her, despite the fact he lives a troubled and unhappy life himself.

The bracelet and the charms become a source of comfort and validation for Leila. A sign every year that someone hasn't forgotten her and loves her. Each charm has an important significance to Leila, so when she loses the bracelet she makes a public appeal in the hopes someone will return her precious item and memories.

Leila tells the story of how she met Jake. A unlikely friendship is forged and as their lives intersect many times during the years they are often like two ships passing in the night. Never the right time or place and often their interactions are burdened by misconceptions and the emotional baggage.

Jake is a young boy who will become a man influenced by the neglect, abuse and lack of love he experienced for many years. Leila is a young girl who will become a woman scared of abandonment and afraid of commitment.

Given the charming title and cover you wouldn't be remiss in thinking that this is a light-hearted romance or rom-com, but it actually veers into more of a contemporary read with plenty of depth. A story of love, support, loyalty and friendship. A tale of loss, which isn't quite realised or understood until it is too late and so many opportunities have passed them both by.

It's a tender read, which is strangely uplifting at times because Allbright infuses it with a sense of hope. With the thought that happiness is there within our grasp if we just open our eyes, soul and hearts to it.

Buy The Last Charm at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: One More Chapter; pub date 21 Aug. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Giveaway to Win Dorset and Reading themed goodies to celebrate The Last Charm by Ella Allbright (UK Only)

First Prize 
Books Make Me Happy/TLC Branded Mug
Keepsake Bracelet for Readers
Lulworth Chocolate Bar
Mermaid metal bookmark
TLC Postcards
PLUS mystery prize
Second Prize
Lulworth Chocolate Bar
I love Durdle Door chocolate lollipop
Sunshine metal bookmark
TLC Postcards
PLUS mystery prize
Third Prize
Lulworth Chocolate Bar
I love Lulworth chocolate lollipop
Starry Sky metal bookmark
TLC Postcards
PLUS mystery prize

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