Fake Date : Review

The Fake Date by Lynda Stacey

Fake Date CoverNine hours and eleven minutes …
That’s how long it’s been since Ella Hope was beaten to within an inch of life and left for dead. 
She lies, unable to move and praying for somebody to find her, as she counts down the minutes and wonders who could have hated her so much to have hurt her so badly. 
Was it the man she went on a date with the previous evening, the man linked to the deaths of two other women? Or somebody else, somebody who wants her out of the picture so much they’re willing to kill? 
Whoever it is, they will pay. All Ella has to do first is survive …

While strap lines and publicity blurb are fun to read, the books they promote rarely live up to the hype. So, what about Fake Date?

  • Gripping
    • YES
  • Edge of the seat
    • YES
  • Thrilling
    • YES
  • Twists and turns to keep you guessing
    • YES
  • Romantic
    • YES

It ticks all the boxes, but in all honesty I would have never put these words together to make up a new genre – Romantic Psychological Thriller. Sounds utterly implausible and complete nonsense, and yet this is what Lynda Stacey gives us with Fake Date, and its brilliant.

Within a few pages of opening, the reader is reeling with shock, and you are straining to send life to Ella through the pages. It is one of the most powerful and dramatic opening chapters I have ever read, and combined with the killer’s dark and threatening thoughts peppered throughout the book, both ploys are clever, seductive, and compelling.

It is Ella who sets the tone and pace of the book. This is her story as much as it is any of the pawns in the killer’s game. She refuses to play the victim, and as a journalist she is determined to follow it to the bitter end, to find the person who tried to kill her and murdered others. The inevitable twists, turns, red-herrings, and blind alleys are equally effective in ramping up the tension. Believe me, if you get as involved in this book as I did, there are some sections that will exhaust you mentally and emotionally. Thank goodness for the romance. Lynda Stacey cleverly breaks up those intense passages with not only a delightful romance, but also the ‘hot’ romantic action of her policewoman friend. Both provide much-needed light relief, and moments of great hilarity.

Ella is a feisty, strong-minded, independent woman who has the character and determination not to let what happened to her take over her life or crush her spirit. Her first meeting with Will, her new neighbour is fraught with fear, but this is one of the moments where the tension is broken with humour. Will is a kind and gentle man yet strong-minded. Driven in both career and his personal life, he suffered a personal trauma in his past that has left deep scars both emotionally and psychologically. Whilst he has dealt with them well over the years, and is an out-going and confident man, it is the vulnerability these scars have left him that makes Will as a convincing, interesting, and complex personality as Ella. They are both impressive characters and a delight to read.

Whilst this is a relatively fast-paced story, it has layers, and even the layers have layers. The author takes several elements of the plot and slowly reveals them to the reader bit by bit, creating edgy, suspense-filled chapters. The romance between Ellie and Will is sweet and gentle, heated and passionate and sits in perfect contrast to the twisted, obsessive love that is central to the murders. The race to the end was just that, I couldn’t read and turn pages fast enough. It was on several levels devastating and shocking.

Do yourself a favour and read this book. It is one of the best I have read this year and may well make it on to my Books of the Year list.


Just £1.99 in Amazon UK Kindle Store HERE

Audio Book HERE (FREE with Audible free trial)


Lynda StaceyLynda grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire and went to both Bentley New Village School, and Don Valley High School.
She is currently the Sales Director of a stationery, office supplies and office furniture company in Doncaster, where she has worked for the past 25 years. Prior to this she’d also been a nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor … and yes, she was crazy enough to dive in the sea with sharks, without a cage.
Following a car accident in 2008, Lynda was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to dive or teach anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.
Her own life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.


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A Laughing Matter of Pain : Blog Blitz

A Laughing Matter of Pain by Cynthia Hilston

harrycoverHarry Rechthart always knew how to laugh, but laughter can hide a lot of pain that’s drowned by the bottle and good times. He grew up the joker in the early 1900s in Cleveland, Ohio, but as he enters adulthood, conflict splits him. His once close relationship with his brother, Erik, breaks as they come into their own and Erik goes off to college. No longer under Erik’s shadow, Harry feels he might finally shine and make others see him as someone to be proud of. Harry finds an unlikely comrade who understands how he feels–his younger sister, Hannah. Once free of high school, Harry and Hannah double date sister and brother, Kat and Will Jones, attending wild, extravagant parties during the years of Prohibition. Harry thinks he’s won at life–he’s found love in Kat, in a good time, and in the bottle. But all the light goes out fast when Harry’s alcoholism leads to disastrous consequences for him and Kat.

Harry thinks the joke’s on him now that he’s sunk lower than ever. He’s in jail. He’s pushed away his family. He’s a broken man, but in the darkest depths of a prison cell, there is hope. Can Harry rebuild his life and learn that true laughter comes from knowing true joy, or will he bury himself once and for all in this laughing matter of pain?

Superficially, this is a cautionary tale of a boy coming into manhood in the shadow of a clever and much-loved older brother. It maps his journey through the excitement of 1930s American prohibition, with illicit booze and bootleggers, parties and speak-easies, glamour and sleaze. Harry is out of control. He can’t see or accept how bad he has become, nor the seedy depths he is spiralling down. He hits rock bottom. It is from his cheerless and miserable jail cell, with the lies and pretence stripped away, he tells his story.

Deeper into the tale, we find this powerful and moving study is not of one man alone, but the story of many. It is the study of family; the dynamics of sibling relationships, the conflicts and tensions between parents and children, and the damage we inflict on ourselves and those we love.


this is not a bleak story. It is liberally laced with light and love, and with hope and redemption. The author has cleverly and successfully adopted the speech and style of the period which conjures all those images we have of that period in US history. She writes in a way that pulls you until you become so invested in the characters you have no choice but to keep reading. We have been given a gem of a novel that is perceptive and thought-provoking, and readers should add it to their TBR stacks.

A Laughing Matter of Pain

Purchase Links

Amazon UK: HERE

Amazon US: HERE



authorimageCynthia Hilston is a thirty-something-year-old stay at home mom of three young kids, happily married. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she finally stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction. Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful is her first original novel. She’s currently working on more books. Visit her website for more information.

In her spare time – what spare time? – she devours books, watches Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.

Social Media:

Website: http://www.cynthiahilston.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cynthiahilstonauthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/cynthiahilstonauthor

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Cynthia-Hilston/e/B01KSD8RPS/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1532102291&sr=1-1

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cynthiahilston

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/authorcynthiahilston

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Mrs Bates of Highbury : Blog Tour

Mrs Bates of Highbury by Allie Cresswell 

The new novel from the Readers’ Favourite silver medalist. 

MrsBatesThirty years before the beginning of ‘Emma’ Mrs Bates is entirely different from the elderly, silent figure familiar to fans of Jane Austen’s fourth novel. She is comparatively young and beautiful, widowed – but ready to love again. She is the lynch-pin of Highbury society until the appalling Mrs Winwood arrives, very determined to hold sway over that ordered little town.

Miss Bates is as talkative aged twenty nine as she is in her later iteration, with a ghoulish fancy, seeing disaster in every cloud. When young Mr Woodhouse arrives looking for a plot for his new house, the two strike up a relationship characterised by their shared hypochondria, personal chariness and horror of draughts.

Jane, the other Miss Bates, is just seventeen and eager to leave the parochialism of Highbury behind her until handsome Lieutenant Weston comes home on furlough from the militia and sweeps her – quite literally – off her feet.

Mrs Bates of Highbury is the first of three novels by the Amazon #1 best-selling Allie Cresswell, which trace the pre-history of Emma and then run in parallel to it.

I’m a huge Jane Austen fan, having read all her novels several times, and some more times than I can remember.  When it comes to an author’s canon of work, much beloved by millions, ‘fiddling’ about with the books and characters can be a very tricky undertaking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a pedant; I do not baulk at the mere hint of playing with a classic author’s books. I have thoroughly enjoyed several modern authors’ re-writing of Austen’s novels, but there are certainly some where the ink should never have hit the page, never mind the book hit the shelf.

I liked Allie Cresswell’s ‘Game Show’, but this is a very different animal. A prequel to Emma, (not one of my favourites) and set quite some decades in the past, the author has had to reverse engineer the story and at the same time keep the setting and language accurate and firmly under control. Cresswell has achieved what few do, she has taken the Austen style and made it her own, and in doing so has produced a novel where style, behaviour, conversation, and moral code are as comfortable as an old sweater.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the Bates women, the Knightly men, the Westons, and all their friends and neighbours. There are some great moments of hilarity, and equally some sorrowful and forlorn moments. Around the main protagonists, the village and its characters help bring the Austen world to life.

We have three women, mother and daughters, each with very different personalities and temperaments, and yet each with a possible romance. In an age when women were restricted by society as to what they could and could not do, many times they were left to fend helplessly for themselves. It was particularly difficult for single women, where marriage was the best and often the only option. Even then, social class dictated a woman’s marriage prospects.  Finding a suitable husband was very difficult, propriety demanded that thoughts and feelings were kept strictly guarded and unspoken, and crossing the social divide was tantamount to social suicide.

Cresswell pitches the tenor of the book perfectly, neither slipping into sentimentality, nor straying into bleakness. As with Austen, she highlights the absurdity in manners, pokes fun at the sycophant, and spotlights the impossible situation women of women in society. Reading this was as natural as reading Austen herself, and as with Austen, you cannot help but enjoy the story. This is a delightful, engaging, and thoroughly entertaining book.

For myself, the only cloud was that I know what happens to all three women – as I said, I have read, re-read, and re-re-read Austen’s novels many times. So, if you have too, then stick that knowledge in a deep dark corner of your brain, lock the door, and temporarily mislay the key.

Congratulations, Allie Cresswell on a brilliant novel. You’ve wowed me again. Thank you.

For the duration of the blog tour, Allie Cresswell has five hard copies of Game Show and five hard copies of Tiger in a Cage, all signed, available for £5 plus p & p to UK addresses. If you are interested then please get in touch.


Here : Amazon

Mrs Bates of Highbury Ful Tour Banner


Mrs Bates Author PictAllie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil. She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London. She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.

She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria, NW England.

You can contact her via her website at www.allie-cresswell.com

or find her on Facebook



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Haircuts, Hens, and Homicide : Blog Tour

Haircuts, Hens, and Homicide by Stephanie Dagg

HaircutsHensHomicideBig2Megan finds mayhem when she arrives in France to bury her Gran and sort out her affairs. She expected difficult encounters with civil servants and red tape but not with wandering chickens, an imperious policeman and a dead body. Together with her unlikely new friend, the elderly and grumpy Alphonse and his canine equivalent, Monsieur Moustache, Megan becomes involved in investigating the fowl-related foul play that’s at work in this sleepy part of rural France.
She’s helped but mainly hindered by the people she comes across. These include the local mayor, who wants Megan to stay and set up a hair salon in his village to help keep it alive. There are the cousins Romain, the gendarme, and Nico, the clumsy but hunky farmer. They have always clashed, but do so constantly now that Megan is on the scene. Michelle, Romain’s terrifying ex who wants him back, appears along the way, as does Claudette, a wheelchair-bound old lady, and Kayla, Megan’s best friend, who is hugely pregnant but not above taking on the forces of French law and order when Megan finds herself the prime suspect after Alphonse is stabbed. 

There’s excitement, humour and lots of ruffled feathers in this rom-com slash cosy mystery, the first in a projected series.

This is not an ordinary straight-forward romance; it is a mix of genres (and we all know I like that), filled with a brilliant cast of characters, human and otherwise. I believed in these people, they were as real to me as my friends, and I’m convinced that if I rolled up in a village these people would be in residence and recognisable. The author has created a wholly realistic and believable world inhabited by characters that have all the strengths, weaknesses, and failings of human beings everywhere.

Megan’s life is vastly different from the one her grandmother has been living in France in recent years; she’s a hairdresser in Maidenhead, living an average life, but with aspirations for her career. Although Megan has visited France many times, and feels relatively ‘at home’ there, she encounters much that she doesn’t quite understand. The constant invasion of her kitchen for a start. In an area populated mostly by old and older people, cousins Romain, an unsmiling, serious gendarme, and Nico, a seriously hot looking farmer with a severe ‘bull in a china shop’ problem, are constantly locking horns around Megan. Some of their encounters are comical as are some of her reactions.

Stephanie Dagg’s depiction of the main characters is absolute delight, and she reveals them to us in different ways. Cleverly writing in the first person, we see everything from Megan’s point of view, so immediately we know her thoughts and feelings, her opinions and reactions. With Romain, she peels back the layers slowly and steadily, so like Megan, we are kept wondering just what is going on inside his head. Megan and Romain are constantly thrown in each other’s company, partly by accident and partly by design on Romain’s side. While their backgrounds and experiences are very different, through the narrative the author subtly highlights the underlying similarities. These two devices are a masterclass for anyone with writing ambitions.

Megan was abandoned by her mother, has no clue as to who her father is, and was raised by her prickly, no-nonsense, but loving grandmother. Not only dumped by her fiancée but now newly redundant, apart from her best friend Kayla, Megan is alone in the world. Romain has recently returned home but we don’t know why, he has family, friends, and a community that he belongs to, and though his parents are wealthy and he had a somewhat privileged background, it wasn’t a fun childhood.

Frivolity was frowned on

So whilst one set of parents were there, and the other parent disappeared and declared dead, they have each marked their children. Megan and perhaps Romain too, learn that family is more than blood relatives. Megan’s friend Kayla, and the little community they belong to show more real and genuine care and concern.

Both characters have escaped potentially disastrous relationships. Megan started the new year being dumped by her fiancée in January, two months before their wedding. Romain has escaped from a relationship with Michelle, a rather domineering woman with a demanding career. She is high maintenance, very much a city-dweller, and a force to be reckoned with. Her return causes a frisson of dread to both Romain and Nico, and the reaction of the men to her entrance in the café was hilarious. Megan is not in the least put out or perturbed by Michelle, she deals with snooty domineering women often in her business, and while she has some similar traits to Michelle, they are more subtle and less selfish.

Megan is a feisty, warm-hearted and loving young woman yet simmering quietly beneath the surface is a discontent. She is bright and intelligent, and the walking talking epitome of the phrase, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Torn between returning to England and remaining in France, she weighs up what each has to offer. As the trail of criminal activity expands, shocking secrets revealed, and homicide is on the doorstep, Megan is undaunted. Her open and unsophisticated nature is in sharp relief to Romain who seems to be somewhat aloof. He keeps his behaviour, thinking and emotions, under strict control, and Megan enjoys confronting and provoking him, as much as Romain enjoys doing the same to her. Gradually however he is revealed to be a caring and compassionate man, with a warm and passionate nature.

With a cast of ‘villagers’ that includes Erik the vet and his mother, Alphonse and Monsieur Moustache,  Megan’s girls, the Mayor, and many more, we are presented with a plethora of characters who entertain and endear themselves to the reader. Who hasn’t experienced the rural French lunch hour, where almost everyone and everything stops work, as Megan says:

No-one messes with lunchtime in France

Stephanie has given us a novel that is humorous and romantic, lively and cheerful. The tone and language are light and amusing, and it’s an all-round bloody good read. The burgeoning romance and the murder detection are woven together with subtly and ease. We are flipped from yes they will to no they won’t with no regard for the readers sensibilities – and its brilliant! To find out who killed who and who ends up with who, you’ll have to read the book. Be prepared for face-achingly hilarious situations, cringe-worthy moments, and plenty of wonderful animals, but for me Monsieur Moustache ultimately steals the show.

ShockerAnd the extra bit at the end?


Give me Perms, Pigeons, and Poisons NOW!!


What to more can I say?

Buy it. Read it.

Enjoy it. Love it.

I did.

Haircuts, Hens, and Homocides has been added to my books of the year list. Yes. Its THAT fantastic.


HERE : Amazon

Haircuts, Hens and Homicide


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m an English expat living in France, having moved here with my family in 2006 after fourteen years as an expat in Ireland. I now consider myself a European rather than ‘belonging’ to any particular country. The last ten years have been interesting, to put it mildly. Taking on seventy-five acres with three lakes, two hovels and one cathedral-sized barn, not to mention an ever increasing menagerie, makes for exciting times. The current array of animals includes alpacas, llamas, huarizos (alpaca-llama crossbreds, unintended in our case and all of them thanks to one very determined alpaca male), sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys, not forgetting our pets of dogs, cats, zebra finches, budgies , canaries, lovebirds and Chinese quail. Before we came to France all we had was a dog and two chickens, so it’s been a steep learning curve. I recount these experiences in my book Heads Above Water: Staying Afloat in France and the sequel to that, Total Immersion: Ten Years in France. I also blog regularly at http://www.bloginfrance.com.

I’m married to Chris and we have three bilingual TCKs (third culture kids) who are resilient and resourceful and generally wonderful.

I’m a traditionally-published author of many children’s books, and am now self-publishing too. I have worked part-time as a freelance editor for thirty years after starting out as a desk editor for Hodder & Stoughton. Find me at http://www.editing.zone. The rest of the time I’m running carp fishing lakes with Chris and inevitably cleaning up some or other animal’s poop.

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Take My Camel, Dear : Favourite 1st Lines

Over the years I’ve fallen about laughing, been heart-broken, smiled, been intrigued, and rolled my eyes at the opening lines of books I’ve read.   Some are memorable like Jane Austen and a man ‘must be in want of a wife’, others are breath-taking like Dickens’ ‘it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’  And some who shall remain nameless were just plain bloody awful!

The following are just four of my many favourites; two quite recent and two from my past. The books are each very different from the other, cover very different genres, and I have loved each and every one of them.

Spread your reading wings and give them a try, and remember:

Kingsolver quote small


I knew it was time to move on when a tramp peed on my Uggs

Tamsyn Afterlife

Hilarious opener, and I can’t imagine many would want to miss this Teen novel by a great author.

My So-Called Afterlife by Tamsyn Murray

Lucy Shaw is 15 years old and trapped in the men’s toilets in Carnaby Street in London – for eternity – no-one can see or hear her. Trying to come to terms with her own death, she also suffers from dreadful loneliness – until Jeremy enters the loo.

I laughed, my heart ached, but this book was unputdownable. I’ve read it twice and each time it was in one sitting.

Fabulous – read it now.

Best offers :  Here   99p Kindle edition


“Take my camel, dear,” said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.


Go on admit it – you’re intrigued. A camel?

Yes, a camel.

The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay

This high comedy and partly autobiographical novel, is about the experiences of an amusing group of people travelling from Istanbul to Trebizond. Dorothea ffoulkes-Corbett (Aunt Dot), a high church Anglican, is determined to emancipate the women of Turkey via conversion to Anglicanism and popularising the bathing hat. Her niece Laurie, our narrator, is far more interested in pursuing pleasure.

Read this many moons ago but the line just stuck with me and of course the book. I will admit it’s not everyone cup of tea, but I highly recommend it, so why not give it a go? Some cheap offers on Amazon, so it won’t break the bank.

And you can always donate the book to charity…..

Just read it, why don’t you..

Best offers: Here   paperback from £3.05 with free delivery

I celebrated my fifteenth birthday by burying my headmaster and emptying my bladder on the freshly turned earth. Best birthday present a boy could have.


I never knew how much I loved post-apocalyptic books until I met the author Scott Andrew at an event I organised. As he talked, I flipped this one open, and was instantly hooked. I have now read all the St Mark’s books in the Afterblight series.

School’s Out  (The Afterblight Chronicles) by Scott K. Andrews 

Some sort of virus or disease has wiped out most of the world’s population, or at least all those who are not Blood Type O Neg.  As you can imagine, mobs run rampant, and those left collect into a variety groups, imposing their own law and order. Lee Keegan has no choice but to stay at St Mark’s, his boarding school, where he and Jane Crowther one of the school’s Matrons, do what they can to protect the children inside with them. Others in the school start to behave like the bullies they are.  It’s a post-apocalyptic nightmare, where the worst excesses of mankind run riot.

I have also read quite a few of the other book. The series , which is written by several different authors, and I can see at least two sitting waiting for my return. If you liked the Hunger Games, Maze-Runner, Divergent series’, then its worth giving the Scott K Andrew Afterblight books a read.

Read read read

Best offers : Here £2.39 Kindle edition

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.

Dawn Treader

Do I really need to say anything about CS Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia? Though I will make the point that the first book in the series ISN’T The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. That’s a very common misconception.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

A king and some unexpected companions embark on a voyage that will take them beyond all known lands. As they sail farther and farther from charted waters, they discover that their quest is more than they imagined and that the world’s end is only the beginning.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the fifth book in the series, and is as magical, fantastical, wonderous, and unforgettable as all the others. What I can tell you is that it can be read as a stand-alone, so there is no reason for you not to read it, is there? And if you like it then you should carry on the magical journey in the sixth book!

Go On. Read it.

Best offers : Here  £2.99 Kindle edition

A Wedding in Cornwall : Blog Tour

A Wedding in Cornwall (Books 7—12) by Laura Briggs

A Wedding in Cornwall - Anthology A Wedding in Cornwall 7-12 CoverThe last six novellas in the UK bestselling series A WEDDING IN CORNWALL are now available in one collection! Join American event planner Julianne in her final set of adventures ‘across the pond’ in beautiful Cornwall. From celebrity sightings to a local talent show, from a charming village fete to a secret Cornish garden, there’s never a dull moment for Julianne and her Poldark-esque true love Matthew in the quaint village of Ceffylgwyn.

This collection contains:

  • A Romance in Cornwall
  • A Star in Cornwall
  • A Sewing Circle in Cornwall
  • A Talent Show in Cornwall
  • An American in Cornwall
  • A Garden in Cornwall.

PLUS: Exclusive bonus materials include a sneak peek of the author’s all-new 2019 Cornish romance series!


HERE – Amazon


A Wedding in Cornwall Briggs Author PicLaura Briggs is the author of several lighthearted romance novels and novellas, including the bestselling Amazon UK series A Wedding in Cornwall. She has a fondness for vintage-style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family, caring for her pets, going to movies and plays, and trying new restaurants.

Social Media Links 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PaperDollWrites

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlaurabriggs/

Website:  https://paperdollwrites.blogspot.com/

A Wedding in Cornwall

This is the second half of a series and consists of books 7 to 12. I haven’t read any of the first six, but I found it didn’t matter.

These stories are lovely, sweet and endearing, but sadly I couldn’t totally engage with them. There were parts of some of the books that I found a little routine, and to be honest, I skimmed some bits.

That said….

The characters were quirky, amusing, and scary – who’d like to be under Mrs Norbert’s reign of terror? The villains were equally well drawn and many of the scenes were sheer delight. The author writes with an easy, relaxed style, and her some of her descriptions are brilliant – who wouldn’t want a man ‘as sweet as chocolate and as brainy as Sherlock’? There were amusing moments of great observation and wit, and others that were perceptive and shrewd.

If you want some thoroughly enjoyable and charming books to relax with, then these are definitely for you.

Read and enjoy.

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Oddest Little Shop Series : Blog Tour

Having already read and reviewed three books in author Beth Good series, namely the Oddest Little Romance shop, Chocolate Shop, and Book Shop, and loved all three, I approached the final two books with excitement and trepidation in equal measure. What if they were not as good? What if I didn’t ike them?

My fears were unfounded. Beth Good delivers again and again. Completing the series are two novellas that only add to the love and romance of Cornwall, its villages, and traditions They are funny, heartwarming, quirky, with characters you’ll love, and delicious romances that get you just that little bit hot and bothered.


Jane Holland Beth Good credit Anna Rybacka-1Born and raised in Essex, England, Beth Good was whisked away to an island tax haven at the age of eleven to attend an exclusive public school and rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Sadly, she never became rich or famous herself, so had to settle for infamy as a writer of dubious novels. She writes under several different names, mainly to avoid confusing her readers – and herself! As Beth Good she writes romantic comedy and feel-good fiction. She also writes thrillers as Jane Holland, historicals as Victoria Lamb and Elizabeth Moss, and feel-good fiction as Hannah Coates.
Beth currently lives in the West Country where she spends a great deal of time thinking romantic thoughts while staring out of her window at sheep. (These two actions are unrelated.)
You can find her most days on Twitter as @BethGoodWriter where she occasionally indulges in pointless banter about chocolate making and the Great British Bake Off. Due to a basic inability to say no, she has too many children and not enough money, which means she needs as many readers as she can get.

Social Media Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BethGoodAuthor

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/BethGoodWriter

The Oddest Little Cornish Tea Shop

Oddest Little_TEA SHOPIt’s a big day for Charlie Bell – the grand reopening of her Aunt Pansy’s long-closed tea rooms in Tremevissey, a quaint Cornish seaside resort. But not everyone is happy for Charlie. The locals say the tea rooms are cursed. For Pansy was cruelly jilted by her lover, and walked out into the ocean, never to return.

Charlie dismisses the ‘curse’ as superstitious nonsense, but by the end of the first day, her world is in tatters, and she’s not even sure the tea rooms can open again.

Then in walks a rugged, taciturn man with a sexy smile and everything he owns on his back, looking for a summer job . . .

Is Gideon Petherick an angel in disguise? Or is history about to repeat itself?

After all the time effort and money she ploughed into refurbishing the tea shop in the village of Tremevissey, Charlie (Charlotte) has a disastrous re-opening. Her cook turns out to be clumsy and incompetent, after ruining the food, she almost burns the place down, and Charlie has to close again.

Awaiting the insurance assessor, the handsome and enigmatic Gideon turns up and offers his help in return for food and lodging. Even with his help things go from bad to worse as electrics need to be fixed and more. Is there really a curse on the shop? And just what is Gideon’s secret?

What is he hiding from Charlie?

Seriously, with its mix of romance and mystery, characters that will have you laughing, tearing your hair out,  and loving every minute of it, you need to read this book.


HERE – Amazon

The Oddest Little Beach Shop

Oddest Little_BEACH SHOPFrom the first day of Annie’s arrival in the sleepy Cornish resort of Polzel, next-door neighbour Gabriel seems determined to make her life difficult.

Despite his sexy looks and angelic name, Gabriel behaves like an ogre to everyone, and has apparently been that way since losing his wife in a surfing accident. Annie would do far better, her friend Claudia urges her, to focus her attentions on Jamie instead. Jamie’s the hottest lifeguard in the village – and her co-worker in the Polzel beach shop.

But when Polzel’s famous annual pie-rolling contest sees Annie and Gabriel forced together, it turns out Annie might have a thing for big Cornish ogres after all . . .

Very different in so many ways to the last novella. This is a wonderful story of family, bereavement, and starting over. Annie and her teenage nephew are learning how to make life together work. They move to the small town of Polzel in Cornwall where her friend Claudia lives, looking for a fresh start.

But does the fresh start mean new love for Annie? And if it does, then who with? Jamie the hot lifeguard, or Gabriel the grumpy neighbour? What about Leo? Maybe she should put her life on hold until he’s older? She needs to focus on Leo, a damned annoying and utterly lovable thirteen-year-old boy. A typical young teenager, finding his way out of death and loss.

Again, the author gives us clearly defined characters that the reader will love; we get them warts and all.


HERE – Amazon

These two are arguably the best, or maybe just my favourites, or maybe not….

I loved them all.

What I said in my last set of reviews applies equally to these final two novellas, adding just a soupcon of mystery into the mix:

Beth Good writes beautifully and can draw a character for the reader with just a few words…each book is whole and complete in and of itself; readers were not left wanting.  Like their titles, they are the oddest collection of romances, a little off-beat, idiosyncratic, and an utter delight to read.  They’re sweet and lovely, laced with humour, alive with romance, and with the merest hint of darkness and wickedness. All of which combines to lure the reader deeper into the story until, like me, you cannot put the book down.

Buy them. Put them on your phone, your kindle, slip a paper back into you bag or pocket, and when you are waiting somewhere, having a coffee, or on your lunch-break, whip one out to read. You’ll not regret it.

Enjoy my pretties…enjoy them all.

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Rachels Random Resources

Sleeping Through War : Blog Tour

Sleeping Through War by Jackie Carreira

Sleeping Throught War - Whole cover copy


It is May 1968. Students are rioting, civil rights are being fought and died for, nuclear bombs are being tested, and war is raging in Vietnam. For three ordinary women in Lisbon, London and Washington life must go on as usual. For them, just to survive is an act of courage. How much has really changed in 50 years?


Sleeping Through War is one of the most moving and poignantly powerful books that I have read in a while.  Its full of pain and compassion, tenderness and strength. It is an all-round breath-taking and provocative novel that speaks directly to women everywhere. Readers of any sex who approach it openly and receptively, will find a nuanced novel that explores the dichotomy between domestic lives and the political unrest and war around them. And more. So much more.

The book hit me on so many levels, invoked so many memories and emotions, and reminded me of the importance of history and writing. (The pen is mightier than the sword?)  I was so immersed in the lives of these women against the political backdrop of world affairs, that I have gone back to my history books to re-examine the period both globally and personally.

Set in May 1968,  which gives the story an interesting and electric historical background. It was a year of revolution, demonstration, and civil disobedience. Across the world, but especially in the UK, Europe, and the USA, the old guard were challenged, people rose up to demand equal rights, military veterans protested against war, immigration was as big a topic then as it is now. I was still in primary school, but in our house we all watched the 6 o’clock news. 1968 was a pivotal year that I remember well. I already had the history bug, so television, newspaper, and magazine reports were engrossing. I had great conversations with my father who explained much of it all to me. !968 was also the year that photography became a passion, primarily thanks to the Vietnam war, but also those great photo-journalists who reported on the Biafran famine, the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, the riots in Paris, and the civil rights demonstrations in the USA.

And yet amid the chaos and carnage, ordinary citizens carried on their ordinary lives, each day much like the last, and watching these global upheavals from the safety and comfort of armchairs in their front rooms. And here we have three strong, very distinct, and very separate women who never meet, and yet each of their lives are as altered and changed as much as the world is around them.

In Lisbon lives Amala, a widow and single mother doing what she needs to provide a good life for her son, Ricardo. Courageous, strong, compassionate, the struggle to survive takes its toll, but she holds on to her dignity regardless of the circumstances of her existence.

In London is Rose, a nurse in a care-home who took the enormous step of leaving her home and family and moving to England from the West Indies at a time when blatant racism was rife. She meets that racism at both work and in the street, but her life carries on around it regardless. She takes a young neighbour under her wing, mothering her with love and compassion.

In the Unites States is Mrs Johnson, a wife and mother with a son fighting in Vietnam. Uniquely her story is told through letters to her son, tender, sweet, and gives the reader great insight to the thoughts of ‘middle America’ at the time.

Interspersed between the chapters are news reports about events at the time. These are a stroke of genius on the part of the author. Not only do they act as a counterpoint to the lives of the women, but also drive home the comparison between the lives of men and women at the time. In the period, as with most other industries, reporting the news, journalism, and photojournalism was male dominated, so the reports are from a male perspective. If you put those reports against the narratives of the women, it will give you much to think about, and to compare and contrast.

The book is also very a pro pos, given what is happening in the world today, and again, plenty to compare and contrast, and to think about.

I could go on about the vivid imagery, the strong characterisation, about the excellent writing, and the great way the pace is varied, but I won’t. I’ve avoided going into detail because its important you meet these incredible women for yourself, on your own terms.

Do yourself a massive favour – read it. Read it now.

GD4970327@1st-May-1968-A-black--2262          img_797x448$2018_04_30_15_10_46_297824







HERE Wordery

HERE Waterstones


HERE Amazon



Sleeping Through War - HeadM5Jackie Carreira is a writer, musician, designer, co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company, and award-winning playwright. She mostly grew up and went to school in Hackney, East London, but spent part of her early childhood with grandparents in Lisbon’s Old Quarter. Her colourful early life has greatly influenced this novel. Jackie now lives in leafy Suffolk with her actor husband, AJ Deane, two cats and too many books.

FACEBOOK: @SleepingThroughWar

WEBSITE: jackiecarreira.co.uk


Rachels Random Resources

Barnabas Tew & the Case of the Nine Worlds : Blog Tour

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds

Noonan-Nine Worlds CoverHold your flying horses!

Barnabas and Wilfred, two earnest but bumbling Victorian detectives, travel through the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology, trying to stave off the impending end of the world, an event which the locals call “Ragnarok”. This time around, however, the intrepid twosome has some help: a brave Viking seer named Brynhild and her flying horse.

Can the two plucky detectives and the fearsome Brynhild outwit those who would bring about Ragnarok? Will they survive the harsh conditions and terrifying creatures of the Norse afterlife? Will they save the world…again? 

A little bit of cheating as the paragraph below is from my review of Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab

The author has attempted to write in a way that befits the Sherlockian period and style, and most of the time she succeeds. While some odd phraseology jarred a little, and led me to read it in stages, the fabulous cast of characters and their interactions with each other, makes this book a real delight.  It has levels of absurdity which draw you in, and a degree of farcicality that leaves you shaking your head and laughing. Yet the whole preposterous nature of the story is so well drawn that, whatever madness the writer throws at you, the reader blithely accepts it and carries on with their enjoyment.

This is as true of this book as it is of the first.

I also said in my previous review that I was firmly in the Roman and Norse camp historically speaking, so I was looking forward to reading about Barnabas and Wilfred navigating their way around the Norse Gods and world(s). I wasn’t disappointed.

The introduction of Brynhild and her horse Hynder was brilliant. (The horse’s name made me laugh – is it pronounced HINDER?) Barnabas is still the inept, bumptious detective, and Wilfred is his usual lovely self; his crush on Brynhild is deliciously sweet. These two men are each great foils for the other, and are at the centre of the novel’s humour. For her part, Brynhild displays the utmost restraint with Barnabas; she’s formidable and brings an added frisson of peril and interest to their journey and investigation.

You don’t need to have read the first book to read this one, though of course, I would always recommend reading the first book in any series. Not knowing anything about the Nine Worlds isn’t a stumbling block either, but just in case I have included some information here. The author’s vivid imagery brings everything to life for the reader; her pace, her quirky imaginative style, and her sense of the absurd, hooks readers and hangs on to them to the bitter end.

Another reading delight from Columbkill Noonan, with guaranteed entertainment from Barnabas and Wilfred, Brynhild, and the host of gods, goddesses, dwarves. dragons, giants, elves, and more. You’ll be laughing, face-palming, giggling, and eye-rolling at their escapades. One thing you won’t be is bored.

Read and enjoy.

Interested in knowing more about Norse Mythology, click here.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Barnabas-Tew-Case-Nine-Worlds-ebook/dp/B07DKH8CZC

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Barnabas-Tew-Case-Nine-Worlds-ebook/dp/B07DKH8CZC


Barnabas Tew - ColumbkillNoonanPhotoColumbkill Noonan lives in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, where she teaches yoga and Anatomy and Physiology.  Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her first novel, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab” by Crooked Cat Books, was released in 2017, and her latest work, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds”, is set to be released in September 2018.

In her spare time, Columbkill enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, aerial yoga, and riding her rescue horse, Mittens. To learn more about Columbkill please feel free to visit her online:  www.columbkill.weebly.com

Social Media Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ColumbkillNoonan/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/columbkillnoon1?lang=en


 To win a signed copy of Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds (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.



Oddest Little Shop series: Blog Tour

The Oddest Little Series

Today Heartshaped is reviewing three of author Beth Good’s novellas from her Oddest Little Shop series. Two more will be coming later.

Reading a novella is a lovely change for a blogger used to reading full novels. Rather like a sorbet after a fish dish, they clear and refresh the reading palate., and they slot neatly into the space between short-stories and novels. It’s the Goldilocks Syndrome; there are times when one is too short and the other is too long, but novellas are just right. Beth Good’s books are certainly all that; refreshing, pleasant, and the perfect length for an afternoon’s reading.

So – to the books, and first out of the starting gate is:

The Oddest Little Romance Shop

Oddest Little_ROMANCE SHOPIzzie has the perfect plan for a perfect life. Work hard, get married, settle down, start a family. But when a mysterious Valentine’s day card arrives, asking in a bold scrawl, ‘Will you marry me?’, it upends everything.
Because Izzie thought she’d found Mr Right – and the card isn’t from him.

Puzzled, she sets out to discover the identity of her secret admirer . . . and is shocked by the truth. Torn in two directions, Izzie doesn’t know what to do.

Should she stick to the plan, or is it time to take life in a bold new direction?

I loved the prologue of this book. It was everything that is sweet and innocent about childhood, friendships, and that blossoming awareness that there is an ‘opposite sex’. My heart melted at the tenderness expressed by Lewis, and then laughed at his horrified surprise in finding his hand being held. It’s a story that is repeated the world over, again and again, and never gets tired.

We jump into the present with Izzie preparing for her wedding to Norman. She has accepted his proposal after knowing him but a short time, and while this may seem implausible to some, things like this happen all the time. In her mid-twenties, Izzy wants a family of her own, children, stability, and she sees no other prospect on the horizon. Sadly, this is not a great whirlwind-swept-off-her-feet-romance; Izzie is ‘settling’. She says herself:

It felt like my life was going nowhere. Or maybe round and round in circles. There was something missing.

Her friend Annie is the perfect foil. Sharp, funny, and out-going, Annie asks the reader’s questions for them. She is the one who shines a light on the odd suddenness of Izzy’s relationship. Norman on the other hand is revealed to us slowly, carefully, and is everything we expect him to be. Controlling, possessive, unpleasant, and deadly, deadly dull.

The arrival of a mysterious Valentine’s card, not from Norman, is the catalyst that shifts the story on to the next level. The realisation that its old, and then who it may be from, rocks Izzy to the core, and forces her to confront what has been ‘wrong’ for many years. What ensues, is a fabulous genre mix of thriller, crime, and romance. But mostly romance.

The next book will require a stash of your favourite chocolate, if you’re a chocolate lover:

The Oddest Little Chocolate Shop

Oddest Little_CHOCOLATE SHOPWhen Clementine discovers that Monsieur Ravel’s beloved chocolaterie is about to close, she rushes to rescue it – without thinking through the consequences.

A lost Persian cat, a depressed but utterly gorgeous French chocolatier, an allergic shop assistant in search of true love, the oddest little chocolate shop Clementine has ever seen.

Can Clementine save them all, or has she bitten off more than she can chew?


After many chocolate-free months, Clementine discovers her favourite chocolate shop is closing. As she peers at the empty window, she finds a cat out in the bitter cold and takes it into the shop, thinking it must belong there. She comes to a staring halt when she meets Dominic Ravel, the gorgeous Frenchman who is the Chocolatier and owns the business. He in turn stares at her while they have a slightly stilted and amusing conversation.

Clementine’s thoughts are like a run-away juggernaut. I love how her thoughts race one after the other, tripping and stumbling their way through her head, as well as the way the author weaves them seamlessly into the narrative. It made me laugh, and there isn’t a woman alive who hasn’t had her brain jumbled thoughts when confronted by an unexpectedly lusty male. Dominic is somewhat more inscrutable at first, anxious and under family pressure, but with Clementine he relaxes and we find a charming man.

At one level, I was incensed at the idea that Clementine was rather useless. She has clearly been told repeatedly that she’s not very good at things, and clumsy. Yet she held a good job, gave Dominic some good advice, and is clearly very practically minded and loaded with common sense…. most of the time. She does get very flustered when she’s anxious or embarrassed, which is quite a different thing altogether. She’s feisty and funny, and a marvellous character.

A wonderful story with about going for what you want, believing in yourself, and falling in love in unexpected places!

The final book today is my favourite.

The Oddest Little Book Shop

Oddest Little_BOOK SHOPAfter ten long years away, television star Daisy Diamond is finally going home.

She’s not back at the gorgeous seaside resort of Port Pol in sunny Cornwall five minutes before she realises the mistake she’s made. Her childhood sweetheart Nick Old – affectionately known as ‘Devil’ – is still living there, running the local bookshop, and he is determined to rekindle their flame.

Daisy is no longer the dewy-eyed romantic of her school days. Her life may not have gone according to plan, but she’s not afraid to show Nick how much she’s grown since he famously dumped her at the school leavers’ disco.

Even if it means bending her heart out of shape a little . . .

Television star Daisy Diamond is back at home in Cornwall house-sitting for her parents before filming starts the next series of her show. She has just split from her erstwhile boyfriend and co-star who cheated on her. The paparazzi haven’t a clue she is there – so far – and she is hoping for a relaxed and enjoyable time.

And yet.

There is something lurking in Daisy’s past, an unresolved issue that hurt her terribly. Through the course of the story we meet Nick Old, her boyfriend from ten years past. As they verbally spar and knock chips of each other, the under current of passion and tension is almost palpable. Throw in a mad wife, an 9-year-old daughter, an uncharacteristic make-out session with a married man when she is snapped by one of paparazzi, and the gates of hell open.

What ensues is hilarious, scary, and heart-breaking. You’ll end up pulled in different directions over Daisy’s decisions, and will have moments of hate and sympathy in equal measure. Daisy is a tremendously funny, delightful and amiable young woman, whose moral compass is true and sure on the whole. Equally, Nick is an honourable man, whose decency has led him to ten years of unhappiness, alleviated only by the love of his daughter, and thoughts of what might have been.

Amid the humour and romance the author takes the time to include certain issues such as the autistic spectrum, anger management, and bereavement. She writes with such a light-hand and so sensitively, you may hardly notice that those weighty matters are there. This was my favourite of the three novellas. It had depth and complexity mingled with wit and humour.


Beth Good writes beautifully and can draw a character for the reader with just a few words. Often novellas can feel like a Chinese take-away, you feel full after eating the last fork (chopstick)-full but an hour later you want more. Not so with this author. each book is whole and complete in and of itself; readers were not left wanting.  Like their titles, they are the oddest collection of romances, a little off-beat, idiosyncratic, and an utter delight to read.  They’re sweet and lovely, laced with humour, alive with romance, and with the merest hint of darkness and wickedness. All of which combines to lure the reader deeper into the story until, like me, you cannot put the book down.

Devours BooksDo yourself a favour. Read these books. Read them on the train, in your lunch hour, sitting in the car waiting for whatever….

I’m looking forward to the next two I’ll be reviewing soon. In the Meantime, I’ll be looking at her other titles to check which I want to add to my ever-growing TBR Mountain!


Purchase  Here


Jane Holland Beth Good credit Anna Rybacka-1Born and raised in Essex, England, Beth Good was whisked away to an island tax haven at the age of eleven to attend an exclusive public school and rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Sadly, she never became rich or famous herself, so had to settle for infamy as a writer of dubious novels. She writes under several different names, mainly to avoid confusing her readers – and herself! As Beth Good she writes romantic comedy and feel-good fiction. She also writes thrillers as Jane Holland, historicals as Victoria Lamb and Elizabeth Moss, and feel-good fiction as Hannah Coates.

Beth currently lives in the West Country where she spends a great deal of time thinking romantic thoughts while staring out of her window at sheep. (These two actions are unrelated.)

You can find her most days on Twitter as @BethGoodWriter where she occasionally indulges in pointless banter about chocolate making and the Great British Bake Off. Due to a basic inability to say no, she has too many children and not enough money, which means she needs as many readers as she can get.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BethGoodAuthor

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/BethGoodWriter






Heartshaped’s Neck-Nibblers! 

Recommended Reading

Heartshaped’s Recommended Neck-Nibbler Books! 


There’s nothing quite like a good vampire novel to get the blood surging and the nerves tingling. None of the hairy Werewolf nonsense! Over recent years we’ve had a plethora of books, TV series, and films dedicated to vampires, all of which were set to chill and most definitely thrill.

Here are some of my favourite books, and some of my favourite on-screen vampires.Angel

If you buy any of these books, please post a short review in the comments after you have read it.   If I like your review, I’ll feature it in a full post. 

Prices are for E-Books

The Coldest Girl In Town  Holly Black**  £4.99

Glass Houses  Rachel Caine**  £4.74Erik

Vampire Kisses  Ellen Schreiber**  £2.49

Already Dead  Charlie Huston  £3.99

Dead Until Dark  Charlaine Harris  £3.99Spike

Sunshine  Robin McKinley (VERY cheap 2nd-hand paperbacks)

Let The Right One In  John Ajvide Lindqvist  £4.99

The Passage   Justin Cronin  £3.99Aidan

** fantastic Teen/Young Adult books I recommended to vampire loving adults