Bank Holiday Book Haul : Part 1

Although I review romance novels via Rachel’s Random Resources,  I do read other genres as the fancy takes me. So for those who read my blog and reviews, it makes sense to show the books I buy for myself. I love a good charity shop rummage and have to limit myself otherwise I walk out with two large bags full.

I read mainly on my Kindle these days, and my e-library is growing rapidly, but I still like to have real thing. I picked up three quite different books, each dark in their own way and in varying degrees, from just a little bit dark through to OMG, Lock the Door! All from Oxfam. It’s just as well that I went into the charity shop after I’d been to the bookshop, but more of that in a later post.

I’ve given links so you can buy your own digital copies; they are all very cheap, falling between £1.59 and £3.32.

There is no way to calculate when I’ll read these, but I had to have them. One is certainly being saved for those dark winter evenings when no-one know what lurks in the bushes…

What I need is a very long holiday, somewhere off the beaten track, , so I can just relax and read, read, read.

Charity Shop


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So, first out of the charity book haul gate is Skarlet by Thomas Emson.

Book Haul MiniFear grips London as dozens of clubbers die after taking a sinister new drug. But that’s only the beginning. 48 hours later, the dead clubbers wake up – and it’s open season on the living, who are butchered for their blood. Soon, London gives a name to its terror:VAMPIRES
Jake Lawton, bitter and betrayed after the Iraq War, find himself fighting another battle – against the growing army of immortal hunters and their human cohorts. Lawton joins forces with the journalist who brought about his downfall and the dealer tricked into distributing the drug. And together they take on the spineless authorities, the ruthless cohorts, and the hungry dead. But the vampire plague unleashed in London is nothing to what lurks beneath the streets –

Waiting to be fed . . . 
Waiting to be resurrected . . . 
Waiting to reign again over a city of human slaves . . .

Just the tale to read on a dark winter’s night, curled up in your armchair, this one I’m saving for later in the year.

When it comes to the werewolf – vampire debate, I’m firmly in the vampire camp. I love a good neck-nibbler yarn! Years ago I enjoyed the original Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith, then came the Twilight novels, and more. See my recommended book post coming tomorrow.

Buy your own copy HERE


Next is The Witchfinder’s Well by Jonathan Posner

Book Haul MiniTudor England – a dangerous world where a few wrong words can get you accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake. So when a freak electrical storm sends modern-day girl Justine Parker time-travelling back to 1565, she quickly becomes the target of sinister witchfinder Matthew Hopkirk. Justine must use all her cunning and ingenuity to keep one step ahead of Hopkirk. But not only must she save herself, she also has to save her new love, Sir William de Beauvais, from the early death she knows history has decreed for him. Can Justine save herself from Hopkirk? And what if she saves Sir William from one fate, only to pitch him into another, even more deadly? 

Not really too dark a book, but it’s set in the Tudor period, and revolves around a Witchfnder. Given that being found guilty of witchcraft at this time could land you on top of a burning pyre, with the local peasantry screaming burn the witch, it’s fairly scary.

Buy a copy HERE

The final book is The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets from acclaimed, award-winning crime writer, Sophie Hannah.

Book Haul MiniThe Secret’s finally out…but beware, once you’ve read Sophie Hannah’s fantastic stories, everyday life will never seem the same again… Everybody has their secrets, and in Sophie Hannah’s fantastic stories the curtains positively twitch with them. Who, for instance, is the hooded figure hiding in the bushes outside a young man’s house? Why does the same stranger keep appearing in the background of a family’s holiday photographs? Why does a woman stand mesmerised by two children in a school playground, children she’s never met but whose names she knows well? What is the former deputy director of a literature festival doing sorting soiled laundry in a shabby hotel? All will be revealed…but at a cost. As Sophie Hannah uncovers the dark obsessions and strange longings behind the most ordinary relationships, everyday life will never seem quite the same again.

Sends a thrilling chill down my spine. I’ve read a couple of Sophie Hannah’s books and thoroughly enjoyed them. As I’m partial to the odd short story, this falls into the realms of  perfect reading for research trips.

Buy a copy HERE

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A Match Made in Heaven : Blog Tour

A Match Made in Heaven by Sun Chara

A Match Made Lrgr HR

Who’s meddling with happily ever after?

The Wedding: it’s a set up.
The Break-up: it’s a con.
The Reconciliation: it’s a trap.

When high society bride, Samantha Carroll, devises an ingenious plan to ditch her meddling matchmaking mamma’s groom of choice, the banker’s son, instead of the ordinary Irish guy Johnny Belen she’s pining for, all pandemonium breaks loose.

In the meantime, Johnny has devised his own plan to thwart monster-mamma-in-law’s matchmaking for the wedding of the season, but it is soon clear that Sam is not the type of girl who can be scooped up by just any man…

Do you ever get that ‘thing’ when you’re reading a book and you

  • have no idea what’s going on,
  • then you do
  • then you get frustrated because ‘what the hell… how did that happen?’
  • It’s all wrong, but oh lord, you are compelled to keep reading
  • Your reading hours are littered with ‘WTF’ and ‘that wouldn’t happen’
  • but you keep reading because there’s a devil on your shoulder whispering that you really like this story

Yes? You do? *massive sigh of relief*

Well, me and this book is all that…..

I read and re-read the first chapter, the wedding scene, because I was confused. Third time I pretty much had It sussed. But how come no-one noticed the groom’s looks?

Then we jump two years. Shocker – it’s all illegal. I womanfully made it through another chapter and then gave up. However, I am convinced the author has some sort of charm woven into the words and fabric of this novel (or the code as my copy is an e-book) because I came back to it. Repeatedly. Like a siren’s song it shipwrecked my reading on its rocks!

A Match Made in Heaven is funny, sweet, and sexy. The will-they-won’t-they rollercoaster keeps things moving, and I enjoyed the antics people got up to. I really liked Sam and Johnny, and was desperate for them to get to what I considered to be the correct and proper ending. The Meddling-Mother I wanted to slap raw for the most part, but then, you know, she is The Meddling-Mother!

Clearly this book and I were never meant to have a Happy Ever After. We were merely a quick fling, and we part company with happy memories, but I will be checking out Sun Chara’s other books.  The fact that these characters aroused the level of emotion that they did, and the fact that the author was able to entice me back again and again to finish the story, says a lot. To be engaged with Sam and Johnny, to care about their happiness, to will them to the right conclusion, makes Sun Chara a damned good writer irrespective of my frustrations.

It’s certainly worth your time reading this novel, because after all, my review is only my opinion; so go on, give this funny, surprising, quirky book a read.




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Win Lindt LINDOR Milk Chocolate Truffles and ebook, A Match Made in Heaven?

(Open Internationally)

A Match Giveaway - Chocolates 71iPfkZDtCL._SX522_*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Enter HERE


Sun photo-1Sun Chara, an Amazon top 100 bestseller, writes sexy, hip ‘n fun contemporary romance, and romantic comedies w/a divine twist for HarperImpulse. She makes her home in southern California, and has appeared on stage/film to rave reviews in How the Other Half Loves, General Hospital, and McGee and Me. She has a Masters Degree in Education and membership in SAG/AFTRA and Romance Writers of America. Sipping Frappuccinos topped with whipped cream/sprinkles, and dancing on the beach make everyday a celebration!

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Odyssey in a Teacup : Blog Tour

Odyssey in a Teacup by Paula Houseman

Odyssey - Paula_Houseman_Odyssey in a Teacup_AMAZON_LRGE_NOV15Encounters with a pair of supersized Y-fronts; a humourless schoolmarm with an unfortunate name and monstrous yellow incisors; and a tut-tutting, big-breasted, modern-day gorgon are the norm for Ruth Roth. She’s used to crazy. Her mum squawks like a harpy and her dad has a dodgy moral compass. Add in daily face-offs with a relentlessly bitchy mirror, and Ruth’s home life feels like a Greek tragicomedy.

She hankers for the ordinary. But blah is not a good fit for someone who doesn’t fit in. And isn’t meant to.

Ruth’s vanilla existence is an issue for her besties—her hot-looking, obsessive-compulsive cousin and soul mate (who needs to do everything twice-twice), and her two closest girlfriends. With their encouragement and a good homoeopathic dose of ancient mythology, Ruth embarks on an odyssey to retrieve her spirit. She’s confronted with her biggest challenge ever, though, when one of these friends sends her spiralling back into a dark place.

The decision she must make can either bring her out or launch the mother of all wars in her world.

Paula Houseman has given us a veritable cornucopia of characters who are fascinating, utterly adorable, terrible and yet compelling, but like Greek mythology and the people who inhabit those tales, we are driven ever onward through Ruth’s take on her family, friends, and life. And just like the tales of ancient Greece with which Houseman has underpinned her novel, we meet the heroes, the harpies, those who think they’re gods, and those who have to blunder through the havoc these creatures wreak in the lives of those around them. Its great!

She writes with vigour and humour, giving the reader no time to excuse themselves from the reading room. Her highly comic and satirical look at Ruth’s (and Ralph’s) navigation through the minefield of their respective families and assorted relatives, is nothing short of brilliant.

Starting with her single-syllable name, Ruth Roth is terrific. The cruel and demoralising treatment she suffers at the hands of her family is appalling, and yet this cheeky, sassy teenager manages to emerge in adulthood relatively intact. The middle name saga is hilarious, but it is also highly revealing on several levels. Ruth’s father shines a spotlight on the culture in which she’s growing up, specifically when she asks why her brother has middle names but she doesn’t. He tells her:

“The extra initials will look good printed in his cheque book.”

But what about her cheque book?

Girls don’t need one.”      And there it was. Four bloody words that set the precedent for my standing in the family, and beyond.

I seethed with indignation! Her mother wasn’t any better. Her refrain of why can’t you be like everyone else? just irritated the hell out of me; I travelled that road. The hallmark of a great writer is their ability to make their characters, the situations they find themselves in, and the feelings they experience, entirely relatable for the reader. For me Ruth’s life experience aroused so many memories and so many conflicting emotions, but the author writes with such wit and empathy that you cannot help laughing and crying at the same time. You never wallow.

Ralph is utterly adorable and vexing at the same time. His clothes, his treatment at the hands of his father and brothers, his gawky looks do not make for an attractive child, and yet his mind is fabulous. Clever, inquiring, and unashamedly adroit at using his intelligence against his tormentors, he’s that awkward kid you just want to hug and take home. Duck – that’s all I’m saying. He and Ruth, along with friends Maxi and Vette, talk about at length about subjects like school, religion, and family, but of course their minds are dominated by thoughts of boys, girls, kissing, and sex. Ralph joins these discussions, he’s very much one of the pack.

Odyssey in a Teacup is a love song to those who can’t be like everyone else. It sings of their difference – to their parents, to their siblings, and to their wider family, and positively resonates with their inability to conform to the lives and behaviours their parents want to thrust upon them. You will laugh until you cry; you will cry woefully and with sympathy, but in the end you will love the voyage wherever it takes you, and the company you keep on it.

This is another title that is firmly on my Books of the Year list, and is the first of three books. (The remaining two will be reviewed in the fullness of time.)

While you wait…do yourself a favour. Read it!


from   Amazon UK 

Odyssey in aTeacup


photo copy – Version 3Paula Houseman was once a graphic designer. But when the temptation to include ‘the finger’ as part of a logo for a forward-moving women’s company proved too much, she knew it was time to give away design. Instead, she took up writing.

She found she was a natural with the double entendres (God knows she’d been in enough trouble as a child for dirty wordplay).

As a published writer of earthy chick lit and romantic comedy, Paula gets to bend, twist, stretch and juice up universal experiences to shape reality the way she wants it, even if it is only in books. But at the same time, she can make it more real, so that her readers feel part of the sisterhood. Or brotherhood (realness has nothing to do with gender).

Through her books, Paula also wants to help the reader escape into life and love’s comic relief. And who doesn’t need to sometimes?

Her style is a tad Monty Pythonesque because she adores satire. It helps defuse all those gaffes and thoughts that no one is too proud of.

Paula lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband. No other creatures. The kids have flown the nest and the dogs are long gone.

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The Mysterious Lord Millcroft : Blog Tour

The Mysterious Lord Millcroft by Virginia Heath

The Mysterious Lord Millcroft Cover 2Life as a duchess…
Or something much more dangerous…?

Part of The King’s Elite. Constantly told her beauty and charm is all she has to offer, Lady Clarissa is intent on marrying a duke. And intriguing spy Sebastian Leatham will help her! Only first she’ll assist him with his new assignment—playing the part of confident aristocrat Lord Millcroft. Sebastian awakens a burning desire within Clarissa which leaves her questioning whether becoming a duchess is what she truly longs for…


It takes a skilled and highly adept writer to make a romance work between two so completely dissimilar characters, each with very different aims and objectives. Yet Virginia Heath does, and expertly so. Not once during the reading of this book did I doubt the personality, attributes, or traits of Gem or Seb, or indeed any of the other characters. The author has made clever use of juxtaposing them all; the high-ranking, yet criminal aristocrats with the low-born or disgraced, yet all loyal government agents. This is also reflected the characters of our hero and heroine; the Incomparable Gem, society’s sweetheart and of the ‘first water’ with the illegitimate son of a Duke and a farmer’s daughter, considered repellent and beneath contempt. It makes for compelling reading.

Sebastian Leatham is a great romantic hero. None of that Alpha male nonsense; in society he is shy, tongue-tied around women, blushes, and hides behind a gruff exterior. He is also a highly accomplished government spy, strong and confident, and above all, an honourable man. He gives Clarissa the nickname ‘Gem’.

Clarissa Beaumont is an Incomparable. A stunning beauty with consummate social skills, especially when conversing with men, and yet she harbours secrets. She has none of the accepted accomplishments for young ladies of the day, such as drawing and music, and by her own admission she is practically illiterate. None of this can be found out as it would be the ruination of her plans to wed a Duke. She calls Sebastian, ‘Seb’.

Whilst their backgrounds and positions in society are poles apart, they each battle their vulnerabilities and shortcomings. They present the world a façade behind which they hide those parts of themselves that could be used to hurt, or even destroy them. These are two wonderful people, who are funny and endearing, annoying and aggravating, yet absolutely real and believable.  The author has written their romance subtly, displaying the attraction they feel yet all the while embroiling them in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

Virginia Heath writes with energy and style, and with a precision that slices through the extraneous  to expose the crucial heart of the matter. When she describes Penhurst on his wedding day, we learn more about his character in those few words, than we should from an entire chapter dedicated to that purpose. She writes:

The switch had been abrupt and cold. Instantaneous. To such an extent, a very different groom walked out of the church from the amiable groom who had arrived.

I wasn’t going to read this at first, but I’m glad I did – this story is irresistible. Full of wit and charm, and people you will love, the hunt for the criminals is as exciting and thrilling as the developing romance between Gem and Seb.

This is the first in a new series called The King’s Elite, and I will definitely be reading the next book, just a soon as I can get my hands on it!

Do yourself a favour and read this fabulous Regency romance.


Win 3 x E-copies of The Mysterious Lord Millcroft (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.



The Mysterious Lord Millcroft


The Mysterious Lord Millcroft - Virginia Heath 2Virginia Heath lives on the outskirts of London with her understanding husband and two, less understanding, teenagers. After spending years teaching history,she decided to follow her dream of writing for Harlequin. Now she spends her days happily writing regency romances, creating heroes that she falls in love with and heroines who inspire her. When she isn’t doing that, Virginia likes to travel to far off places, shop for things that she doesn’t need or read romances written by other people.

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Summer at Carrick Park :Review

Summer at Carrick Park by Kirsty Ferry

Carrick Park coverA summer wedding, fifty cupcakes and a man she thought she would never see again … 

When Joel Leicester walks into the hotel where Rosa Tempest works, she can’t believe her bad luck. Out of all the hotels in all of North Yorkshire, the man who broke her heart would have to walk into Carrick Park!

The last time Rosa saw Joel it was after a whirlwind holiday when they’d been greeted at his flat by a woman claiming to be his fiancée. Rosa never stuck around to hear Joel’s side of the story but now, six years later on, Fate has another trick up its sleeve as a potentially disastrous summer wedding at Carrick Park can only be saved by Joel and Rosa working together …

You may recognise Carrick Park from A Little Bit of Christmas Magic and Some Veil Did Fall!

Summer at Carrick Park is a real delight. I was engaged from page one and read it in a single sitting. There is an amazing cast of people with distinct personalities, which isn’t always the case with secondary characters who often seem to blend into one another. The groom is so laid-back he’s almost horizontal, and he’s as hilarious as his Bridezilla is frightening –  and I want those God-fathers in my life!

Cupcake 2And the cake!

While the novella is charming and funny, it’s not a saccharin sweet fluffy romance. This about two people who clearly belong together, but who have been torn apart by suffering and heart-break inflicted by others, and their own blinkered responses to it.

Rose and Joel have been apart for several years, without any contact. They parted abruptly when Rose thought Joel was engaged to another woman, and she ran before history could repeat itself.  Joel did everything he could to find Rose, but to no avail; she had her family block his every move. Now she works at Carrick Park Hotel, a wedding is booked for the weekend, and Joel walks in as Best Man.

A potential wedding disaster throws the pair together, and things move forward from there.

Cupcake 1With cake.

Rosa is a great character, and instantly relatable. Nursing a badly broken heart, she throws herself in to working at her god-fathers’ bakery, which is when she meets Joel. She has a talent for baking, and its hoped that she will take over the business one day. Kind and loving, she is determined to never to be part of any complicated romantic entanglements. Joel is kind, resourceful, and funny. Reeling from a disastrous relationship, he meets Rosa. He has moved on only in the same way that Rosa has – he works, occasionally hangs out with friends, but there is no-one special in his life.

The author has presented us with a romance that speaks to the knee-jerk reactions we have to hurtful situations, and the subsequent fall-out. It’s a great, realistic love story about how we let our emotional past determine our future, about making rash and impetuous decisions and suffering the consequences. Its also about second chances, letting go of the hurt, and not being an idiot.

Cupcake 3Did I mention cake?

One of the aspects that I loved, was the lack of explicit sex. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good steamy romance as much as the next reader, but as a constant diet it becomes boring. Variety is the spice of life after all, and this story didn’t need it.

Hilariously for me, this combined two parts of the country I seem to be spending almost all my reading time inhabiting – Yorkshire and Cornwall. Beautiful counties with glorious scenery, both brimming with charm and mystery. This warm, appealing romance will leave you happy and smiling. I highly recommend you read it, but Be Prepared. You’ll get hunger pangs, so a supply of tea and cake will be necessary whilst reading.

Altogether a recipe for a perfect afternoon.


Available to buy here:


Kirsty FerryKirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and lives there with her husband and son. She won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition and has had articles and short stories published in various magazines. Her work also appears in several anthologies, incorporating such diverse themes as vampires, crime, angels and more.

Kirsty loves writing ghostly mysteries and interweaving fact and fiction. The research is almost as much fun as writing the book itself, and if she can add a wonderful setting and a dollop of history, that’s even better.

Her day job involves sharing a building with an eclectic collection of ghosts, which can often prove rather interesting.

You can find Kirsty on Facebook as “Kirsty Ferry Author”
Or on Twitter @kirsty_ferry

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 Creating a delicious selection of fiction!


The Gathering : Blog Tour

The Gathering by Bernadette Giacomazzo

The Gathering EbookThe Uprising Series tells the story of three freedom fighters and their friends in high –  and low – places that come together to overthrow a vainglorious Emperor and his militaristic Cabal to restore the city, and the way of life, they once knew and loved.

In The Gathering, Jamie Ryan has defected from the Cabal and has joined his former brothers-in-arms — Basile Perrinault and Kanoa Shinomura — to form a collective known as The Uprising. When an explosion leads to him crossing paths with Evanora Cunningham — a product of Jamie’s past — he discovers that The Uprising is bigger, and more important, than he thought.

I have to admire this author’s determination to write a hard-hitting, hard-nosed dystopian novel where New York is under the control of a self-styled Emperor, rather than a ruling elite, and for the most part she succeeds. The style and language give the book something of a fresh feel, but is occasionally awkward and off-putting, and for those who watch these things, I had images of Walking Dead violence, and Star Wars evil ruler running through my head at various points

This Emperor reigns supreme. He has manipulated and connived his way into absolute power, and now controls the citizens by way of his merciless Cabal. The clever naming of this group sets it apart from our notion of what constitutes police or armed forces; it is more like a private army. The Cabal is a vicious and savage military-style group who punish any Infractions of the law, no matter how minor, with impunity. Cabal members can and do mete out death or worse; the worse being psychically tortured into a catatonic, docile state, not unlike zombies. This is ‘psi’, and members of the Cabal are recruited for and trained in this ability. Society does not have any resort to law, justice, or the courts. This is not a democracy; there are no elections. The only course of action to gain freedom is revolution.

The book opens with Jamie (alias Ivan Sapphire) talking to us about himself, his life, his friends, and New York as the city was. His language and style of speech takes some getting used to. He’s a musician in a rock band, that shoots to meteoric success. He is brash, arrogant, crude; stereotypical of that ilk, yet at the same time funny, witty, and off-beat. Then he meets a girl.

Moving forward to the harsh present of the book, we meet Evanora; secretly rebellious, grateful and resentful all at once. With a mother who has sacrificed so much for Evanora’s safety, the young woman is treading a cautious but precarious path.

As friends decide enough is enough, and people start to recognise others willing to fight back, so the faction grows and takes shape. The freedom movement works to depose the Emperor, regain control of New York, and take the city and her people back to its colourful life of liberty and independence.

The book is well-paced, punchy, and uncompromising. It holds a mirror up, albeit a dim one, to society today. The elimination of free speech, the destruction of the Arts, the harsh and pitiless punishment of wrong-doers, with the powerful throwing their weight against the weak, and playing on people’s fears. It is in these circumstances that the unscrupulous and corrupt seize power and in twisting it to their own ends, subjugate a society to a single, tyrannical ideologue.

Sound familiar?

The author has created a dark and unnerving world that has very recognisable characters and characteristics. There is an immense audience out there for this book, though it won’t appeal to everyone, and whilst I enjoyed it, I won’t carry on with the series.

Purchase Links

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Author Bio

The Gathering AuthorWith an impressive list of credentials earned over the course of two decades, Bernadette R. Giacomazzo is a multi-hyphenate in the truest sense of the word: an editor, writer, photographer, publicist, and digital marketing specialist who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to thrive in each industry with equal aplomb. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, People, Us Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and many, many more. She served as the news editor of Go! NYC Magazine for nearly a decade, the executive editor of LatinTRENDS Magazine for five years, the eye candy editor of XXL Magazine for two years, and the editor-at-large at iOne/Zona de Sabor for two years. As a publicist, she has worked with the likes of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and his G-Unit record label, rapper Kool G. Rap, and various photographers, artists, and models. As a digital marketing specialist, Bernadette is Google Adwords certified, has an advanced knowledge of SEO, PPC, link-building, and other digital marketing techniques, and has worked for a variety of clients in the legal, medical, and real estate industries.

Based in New York City, Bernadette is the co-author of Swimming with Sharks: A Real World, How-To Guide to Success (and Failure) in the Business of Music (for the 21st Century), and the author of the forthcoming dystopian fiction series, The Uprising. She also contributed a story to the upcoming Beyonce Knowles tribute anthology, The King Bey Bible, which will be available in bookstores nationwide in the summer of 2018.

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The Promise : Blog Tour

The Promise by Michelle Vernal 

The Promise CoverTwo women from different generations brought together by another’s wrongdoing.

When British backpacker, Isabel Stark happens across a car accident on a lonely stretch of road in the South Island of New Zealand her life changes forever. The sole passenger, Ginny Havelock asks her to make a promise before she passes away—to find Constance and to say she’s sorry.

Isabel’s a lost soul who’s been drifting through life unsure of where she fits, and the promise she made in New Zealand haunts her upon her return to the United Kingdom. Her only clue as to finding Constance lies within a conversation held at Ginny’s funeral. It takes her to the Isle of Wight.

In the 1940’s sixteen-year-old Constance’s life on her island is sheltered until the death of her brother; Ted brings the reality of war crashing down around her. He leaves behind his pregnant young widow Ginny. When Constance meets a handsome Canadian Airforce man, she’s eager to escape her grief and be swept up by first love. It’s a love which has ramifications she could never envisage.  

When Isabel and Constance’s paths finally cross will Ginny’s last words be enough for Constance to make peace with her past? And in fulfilling her promise will Isabel find a place she can call home?

What you will find in reading this novel is a tragic and emotional, tender and compassionate tale of two women, separated by some fifty years, and yet connected by bonds that surpass age and time.

Get the tissues; you’re going to need them.

The things people do to each other, and the pain we cause others through our egotism and selfishness, is appalling, and author Michelle Vernal paints a very recognisable picture of unforgivable behaviour. It also highlights how far we have come with regards to social stigma and shame. I don’t do crying, but several times I had wet eyes and heartache.

Isabel and Constance are fellow journeymen on the painful road of broken-hearts. Two women who are at different points in life but have much in common. They have suffered at the hands of those whom they trusted implicitly, and their pain is real and familiar. In the case of Constance, it has barely diminished in the seventy years since it happened. Yet they are strong; even if they don’t realise it themselves, others see it.

Having spent a considerable time travelling overseas, Isabel returns home after promising a dying woman (Ginny) that she would pass on a message. It is her return home that tells us the awful circumstances that caused her to escape abroad in the first place.  Isabel initially appears to be lost, not knowing what she wants to do, or where she is going in life, but she feels compelled to at least try to fulfil the promise she made to Ginny. This positive act leads her to her destiny.  A variety of events and incidents on the Isle of Wight result in her staying, at least for a while.

Isabel is a lovely character who doesn’t think she is brave, outgoing, or flamboyant and yet she has dyed her hair green and backpacked through Australia, New Zealand, and south-east Asia. She is clearly compassionate, and throughout the book demonstrates her deeply rooted kind and loving nature. She is the sort of person it would be easy to treat patronisingly, and certainly her ‘friends’ did and do. On her return home she recognises their superficiality, and realising that they have never been real friends, she moves on.

Early in her life Constance suffered devastating loss, yet instead of caving in under that grief, she becomes a colourful and vibrant young woman. The years have taken their toll however, and it appears to readers that Constance has turned into an acerbic old woman. Quite how anyone would come back from the extreme heartbreak she experienced, I cannot understand, but it goes some way to illuminate the amazing woman Constance is at heart. She has a penchant for Maltesers, and in my book that can only mean good things! Constance keeps herself to herself at the home, and the arrival of Isabel disrupts that mediocre existence. She warms to the young woman, and gradually they both emerge from their cocoons.

As we move from one time-line to another, and their stories unfold, we can probably guess the secret at the heart of Constance’s past. The sweet beauty of her romance, and subsequent events have a parallel of sorts in Isabel’s life that we discover later. Michelle Vernal has researched the war-time period well. It highlights common and heart-breaking events of the war years, the cruel way in which one aspect was dealt with and whose consequences have been far-reaching, even through to today.

The other characters are hilarious, annoying, lovely, and totally familiar. Rhodri is a delight, and I wish there had been a little more about him and his life. I felt terribly sorry for Prince Charles, poor thing. There were a couple of things that made me falter in my reading, particularly two words which I had to look up; ‘EFTPOS’ which we’d recognise as a Debit Card, and while ‘skivvy’ in this country means a servant, in AUS/NZ it’s an item of clothing. I felt the end was a little rushed, and could have done with one more chapter to fill in some details, but none of this spoils the story in any way.

Michelle Vernal has written a compelling tale of love and friendship; of confronting the past yet facing the future, and of always being true and loyal to yourself and to those who are loyal and true to you. I apologise for the seeming vagueness of this review, but I’m avoiding plot spoilers, readers need to let the story unfold in its own beautiful way. What I can tell you is that I adore this book and was moved by it, so much so that it is on my Books of the Year list and gets the full five stars.  I suggest you get a copy and some tissues and read it. You won’t be disappointed.


Purchase Links

Amazon UK 

The Promise







btyMichelle Vernal is a Harper Collins author who loves a happy ending. She lives with her husband, their two boys and a needy three-legged black cat in Christchurch, New Zealand. She’s partial to a glass of wine, loves a cheese scone and has recently taken up yoga—a sight to behold indeed. She is a freelance writer for a Canterbury lifestyle magazine who is currently working on her seventh novel. Michelle’s a firm believer in happy endings, and all of her stories are written with humour and warmth.

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Little Cornish Kitchen : Blog Tour

The Little Cornish Kitchen by Jane Linfoot

cornish kitchen new (1)It’s time to come home to Cornwall

With an exciting new life in Paris, Clemmie Hamilton isn’t looking forward to heading home to the picturesque but sleepy village of St Aidan, Cornwall. However, when she discovers that the cosy apartment by the sea, which her grandmother left to her, is under threat from neighbour and property developer, Charlie Hobson, Clemmie realises she can’t abandon her home in its time of need.

With her childhood friends encouraging her, Clemmie decides to turn the apartment into ‘The Little Cornish Kitchen’ – a boutique pop up pudding club raising money for the repairs to the building in an effort to stop Charlie once and for all. But when Charlie and his easy charm won’t seem to go away, everything soon becomes even messier than the state of Clemmie’s Cornish kitchen…

I seem to be spending my reading time whizzing between Cornwall and Yorkshire – not that I’m complaining – this time we’re back in Cornwall, in a town called St Aidan, with life-long friends and mermaids Sophie, Plum, Nell, and Clemmie. We open with a launch of Sophie’s latest beauty products where her three friends are working as their favourite personas – mermaids.

WARNING: this book is not for anyone with a cake habit! Your mouth will be watering before the end of the first chapter, it won’t stop until long after you’ve finished the book, and you’ll be craving cakes all the way through. I have no idea how I managed on merely half a packet of gingernuts, a cinnamon Danish, some Jaffa cakes, and two large helpings of carrot cake!

Chapter One is a virtuoso lesson in giving the reader necessary information and background about characters in an amusing and totally entertaining way, and without the reader feeling that they are being spoon-fed facts. It’s an absolutely fantastic opening chapter.

(Aside: Iron Maiden Cleaners? Somebody really ought to start that business!)

Our narrator is Clemmie, who has reluctantly returned home after many years working her way around various countries and is currently in Paris. She is back to deal as fast as possible with matters regarding the flat left to her by her grandmother of whom she has very little memory. Clemmie struck me as sulky and petulant. She’s so tied up in her world of travel and adventure, refusing to be tied down to a small, local life, in a town where your private life isn’t private, and the horizons are restricted and narrow, that she can’t see there is no adventure. She believes her friends are

…all as settled as I am rootless. They can’t imagine living without the echo of the waves rushing up the beach, and the familiar clink of the rigging on the boats bobbing in the harbour. If I explained non-stop for a month, they’d never get that for me St Aidan isn’t enough. That after half a day away from Paris, I’m aching for the broad boulevards and big elegant buildings and the round-the-clock roar of the traffic. They don’t get that the world beyond here is huge. And they totally miss that when Paris dulls I’ll move on and feel the thrill all over again somewhere new. Even though my jobs are what they call ‘shit’ ones, and my career trajectory is non-existent, at least they allow me to move. To be free.

What we gradually discover is a woman who, no matter how she protests otherwise, isn’t free at all. Clemmie has a deep-seated hurt – her father left before she was born and has never been a part of her life. Growing up it was not a topic for discussion. Clemmie learned at a young age that any talk of him caused her mother pain and so she blocked him from her thoughts.  Her refusal to even acknowledge this hurt exists, never mind address it, has had implications that affected her life in so many ways. She has taken no interest in the property she owns, has little recollection of Laura, her Grandmother, and just wishes to be rid of this one thing that connects her to her unknown father. A visit to the flat changes everything. There is no escaping your past and its unanswered questions.

While Clemmie has been drifting from job to job and country to country, her three friends have evolved and grown. Each of the three women showed various aptitudes when they were younger that have led them too successful careers and comfortable lives, but Clemmie displayed none.

Sophie is a high-powered, highly organised, super-efficient business woman, married to Nate and with four children, and wealthy. It is her natural beauty products being launched in Plum’s gallery. Sophie’s life looks ‘like she plucked it from the Boden catalogue

Plum is an artist. After she finished university, she took on a disused chandlers as her studio, opened it as a gallery, selling her paintings, and the work of other artists as well. It’s a thriving business, and while she is currently single and happy, unlike Clemmie and Nell, she is not opposed to finding that special someone.

Nell is a ‘hot-shot accountant’ in it for the money. She is also St Aidan’s Singles Club event organiser extra-ordinaire. Her amicable divorce turned out to be painful for Nell. Within a short space of time her ex-husband had a new wife, children, and the domestic life that she wanted but he didn’t.

Thrown into this mix is Charlie Hobson and his dog Diesel. Charlie is hot, dark, but moody and scowling. Worse still, he’s a property developer and therefore the ‘bad guy’. Gradually we learn more about Charlie and have a constant battle as to whether we like him or not. What property is he after and can he be trusted? People who go through life long-faced and miserable, usually have a reason to do so. What has happened to Charlie to make him scowl?

The author takes us through the story regarding Clemmie’s flat whilst at the same time, she peels the layers back on each of the characters, but most specifically Clemmie and Charlie, as well as Nell. It is a beautifully nuanced tale. As Clemmie finds herself thrown into Charlie’s company regularly, never knowing quite what his property developer intentions are, and with her friends rocking from one events to another, she discovers a world of memories. The sulky, petulant woman in Chapter One, shows us that she is funny and feisty, but scared of the unknown in terms of relationships. Whatever misgivings I had about Clemmie’s character at the beginning of the novel, long before the end I really liked her, and felt her struggle. ‘No commitment’ has been her default setting for all aspects of her life, and we see her friends and others gradually build her confidence, show Clemmie her worth, her aptitude, and her capacity for love and forgiveness.

It would be easy to say this is a heart-warming tale, but that is too simplistic. The Little Cornish Kitchen is filled with humour and kindness, tenderness and love; the love of friends as much as romantic love. It’s about second chances, at life, at love, and at family; its about dropping your guard and letting people in no matter how scary, and grasping the future with both hands. I loved the kitchen scenes with Clem and Charlie, they were so revealing for both of them, and I love that she finally discovers that she does have a great talent and skill after all. She had just forgotten.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough – I loved every page, and every character, especially Diesel. Read and enjoy!


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The Little Cornish Kitchen



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DSCN3473_2Jane Linfoot is a best-selling author, who lives in a muddy cottage, up a steep hill in Derbyshire, with her family, their pets, and an astonishing number of spiders. Although she loves seeing cow noses over the garden wall, she’s happy she can walk to a supermarket.

Jane grew up in North Yorkshire where she spent a lot of her childhood avoiding horizontal gales blowing off the sea, and wrote her first book by accident, while working as an architect, and renovating country houses. While she loves to write feel-good books that let readers escape, she’s always surprised to hear her stories make people laugh, admits to (occasionally) crying as she writes, and credits her characters for creating their own story lines.

Jane’s garden would be less brambley if she wasn’t on Facebook and Twitter so often. On days when she wants to be really scared, she rides a tandem.

Her latest books include a series of stand alone novels, based around a seaside wedding shop in Cornwall. Cupcakes and Confetti – The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea, Sequins and Snowflakes – Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop, and Bunting and Bouquets – Summer at the Little Wedding Shop, and most recently, The Little Cornish Kitchen. These are all published by Harper Impulse,  an imprint of Harper Collins.

Follow Jane on Twitter @janelinfoot, or find her on her Author Page Facebook or her Personal Page Facebook. She’s also on Instagram, and has lots of Pinterest boards relating to her novels.

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