Victoria to Vikings : Blog Tour

BookcoverVictoria to Vikings – The Circle of Blood by Trisha Hughes

At the heart of our present are the stories of our past. In ages gone by, many monarchs died while they were still young. There were battles and diseases and many were simply overthrown. But the days of regal engagement in hand-to-hand combat are over and the line of succession has a good ageing prospect these days.

One of the most famous monarchs in history is Queen Victoria and her passing brought an end to an amazing era. She could be demanding, rude and she frequently fled public duties for the solitude of Scotland. But she loved fiercely, and her people loved her fiercely in return. Under her reign, England achieved greatness it had never known before.

‘VICTORIA TO VIKINGS – The Circle of Blood’ spans from this great queen to another one: Queen Elizabeth II. Ours is the era of the longest living monarch in history and her ancestry is incredible. But walking two steps behind her, stalwart and loyal, stands Prince Philip, the strawberry to her champagne, and with him comes his own amazing Viking heritage.


Review

Victoria to Vikings is a generally entertaining romp through the reigns of six British monarchs, from Victoria to Elizabeth II. Littered with detail both personal and political, it is one of those excellent volumes that educates and imparts knowledge without the dry prose of academia, or the dreary prose of a text-book. British history is rich, diverse, and complex. It is a rich tapestry woven from diverse aspects of social, cultural, and political endeavour. It is embroidered with varying strands of power, politics, personalities, and progress. At the heart of it, struggling to create a stable nation, are the people, the politicians, and the monarchy.

Trisha Hughes attacks her topics with gusto. While I feel the general overview of the nineteenth century could have been better ordered, it gives the reader a good background platform from which to progress. Whilst providing facts and figures, statistics and social data, the author’s relaxed and uncomplicated writing style makes it all digestible. She covers areas as diverse as prostitution, sport, entertainment, as well as advances in medicine, industry, and sanitation, to name but a few. Her chapters on each monarch give a fascinating insight into their character, personality, attitudes, and behaviour. She produces real people; the good, the bad, and the ugly, but also their struggles, their loves, and their heartaches.

This is a book with a remarkable amount of research, presented in an easy-read style, filled with all kinds of stories. A delight to read, even for a dusty research historian like me; I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Quibbles:

I have a few but limit myself to these.

Saying that ‘people had criticised the unfair electoral system and for many years George [IV] had disregarded their protests’  suggests that he could have enacted change. He could not; electoral reform came under the purview of the House of Commons and House of Lords. Certainly George IV had tremendous influence, and certainly he used that influence, but those landowners and aristocrats with and in power did not want the working class to have the vote, or indeed to read or write in many cases. The political classes grip on power remained for many decades. In fact, prior to 1918 some 40% of men did not have the vote; most who fought and died in the First World War never had it.

The statement that ‘syphilis had become curable by penicillin in Victorian times’ is inaccurate. Treatment at the time was primarily mercury, used and applied in a variety of ways, though there were other ‘cures’ used as well. Mercury stayed in favour until the early twentieth century.

Referring to the First World War as ‘the worst family squabble in history’ several times in similar ways, is neither funny nor accurate, but certainly insensitive. It was more complex than royal relatives having a falling out, and the politicians decided on war, not the king.

These are just quibbles, so please read the book and enjoy.


Purchase Links:

UK  –  HERE

US  –  HERE

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Author  

Trisha HughesI am an Australian author born in Brisbane, Queensland now living in Hong Kong.  My writing career began 18 years ago with my best-selling autobiography ‘Daughters of Nazareth’ published by Pan MacMillan Australia.  Over the past 8 years, I have been researching and writing a historical fiction trilogy based on British Monarchy throughout the ages beginning with the Vikings. Originally meant to be a single book, as facts accumulated the material gradually filled three books. I call this series my V2V trilogy.


Social Media Links

Facebook:  Trisha Hughes Author

Twitter:      @TrishaHughes_

Pinterest:   Trisha Hughes

Linkedin:    Trisha Hughes


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Blog Tour : A Promise Of Tomorrow

The Promise of Tomorrow by AnneMarie Brear

The Promise of Tomorrow AnneMarieBrear_ThePromiseOfTomorrowCharlotte Brookes flees her lecherous guardian, McBride, taking her younger sister with her. After a year on the road, they stumble into a Yorkshire village. There, they are taken in by the Wheelers, owners of the village shop. This new life is strange for Charlotte, but preferable to living with McBride or surviving on the roads. 
Harry Belmont is an important man in the village, but he’s missing something in his life. His budding friendship with Charlotte gives him hope she will feel more for him one day, and he will have the woman he needs. 
However, when McBride finds out where Charlotte lives, his threats begin, and Harry takes it upon himself to keep Charlotte safe. Only, World War I erupts and Harry enlists. 
Left to face a world of new responsibilities, and Harry’s difficult sister, Charlotte must run the gauntlet of family disputes, McBride’s constant harassment and the possibility of the man she loves being killed.


Do you ever start to read a book, become embroiled in the story, and everything just fades into the background? Well, be prepared for that experience when you read A Promise of Tomorrow!

Charlotte and Hannah had a great start in life with a comfortable life and a family that loved them both. Tragedy steals it all away, and inexplicably they end up with McBride. Yet so quickly, their lives are shattered and become unrecognisable. Between lecherous and greedy men, and those who take care of two girls alone, we travel through the trials and tribulations of their life. Charlotte the older, the worker, taking care and protecting her little sister Hannah, through the safety of their new family, the Wheelers, to finding a man she loves, we are given a great story, with a cast of superbly portrayed characters.

The pace fluctuates between slow, steady and swift. While that sounds like a ‘well, duh’ comment, the author uses the pace to match the action, scenes, and emotions in the story. It is pacy at the start, then slows once the girls are in the safe hands of the Wheelers. It speeds up when McBride re-appears. The author clearly knows that this technique effects the emotional response of the reader – and she gets that response too. Once we reach the heart-ache of the First World War, with its attendant disruption and loss, the tension rises, and the danger heightens, not only because Harry is at the Front, but also because of the danger McBride poses to Charlotte and Hannah. With Harry’s sister thrown into the mix, the situation is worsened.

The author does not baulk from putting our leading ladies are put in uncomfortable and menacing situations. Yet it is through Charlotte’s strength and determination, no matter how nervous or terrified she is, that they come safely through. The war is reflected through both Harry’s and Charlotte’s perspectives. This juxtaposition of the war front and the home front is convincingly written, and the action and drama grab your attention and won’t let go.

AnneMarie Brear writes skilfully and with talent. Her characters are recognisable and familiar, and their experiences shape and mould them throughout the book; they grow as people. No situation feels forces or far-fetched, and when emotions run high it does not feel hysterical. In the end the big question is:

Will Harry make it home to Charlotte?

Nothing is certain in this turbulent but touching and emotional journey, so you will have to read it to find out. I have no hesitation therefore, in recommending The Promise of Tomorrow. It is engaging and sweet, tense and impassioned, and a wonderful sweeping tale set under the cloud of war. So good its on my Books of the Year short-list.

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Purchase 

Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07GHCXQ8Y/

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GHCXQ8Y/

 


Author

The Promise of Tomorrow AnneMarie Brear small

Australian born AnneMarie Brear writes historical novels and modern romances and sometimes the odd short story, too. Her passions, apart from writing, are travelling, reading, researching historical eras and looking for inspiration for her next book.

Social Media Links –

http://www.annemariebrear.com
http://annemariebrear.blogspot.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/annemariebrear
Twitter @annemariebrear


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Redneck’s Revenge : Blog Tour

Redneck’s Revenge by Joan Livingston

Rednecks Revenge hi resHer next case. She’s in it for good.

Isabel Long is in a funk months after solving her first case. Her relationship with the Rooster Bar’s owner is over. Then the cops say she must work for a licensed P.I. before working solo. Encouraged by her ‘Watson’ — her 92-year-old mother  — Isabel snaps out of it by hooking up with a P.I. and finding a new case.

The official ruling is Chet Waters, an ‘ornery so-and-so, was passed out when his house caught fire. His daughter, who inherited the junkyard, believes he was murdered. Topping the list of suspects are dangerous drug-dealing brothers, a rival junkyard owner, and an ex-husband. Could the man’s death simply be a case of redneck’s revenge? Isabel is about to find out.


It’s not you, its me

A clichéd phrase and yet it couldn’t be more true than between me and Redneck’s Revenge.

This is book a good read, I happily recognize and acknowledge that, it just wasn’t for me. It took quite some time to get my head round the writing and speech style, and I had to keep stopping as it wore me out.

BUT that is just my taste.

Don’t be put off reading it, because what I can tell you is that you will be immersed in this odd town and engaged with the characters who inhabit it, right from the very beginning. Between Dancing Dave and Jack Smith, ‘the moles’ in the general store and Isabel’s spirited 92-year-old mother, irrespective of what side of the law any of the characters fall on, you will find them all very much three-dimensional, realistic and recognizable. Love them or hate them, you can’t deny how well-drawn and true to life they are.

Isabel is a feisty, up front and in our face type of woman, and at the same time appealing and loveable. As the story weaves its way in and out of the lives of the town’s people, their joys and sadness, troubles and heartaches, we enjoy plenty of  twists, juicy sub-plots, and a great ending.

It’s a good mystery and a clever plot, where solving the crime is a slow peeling away of falsehood and misdirection. Joan Livingston is a great story-teller, I just wish I had been able to engage with her writing style better than I did.

Read and enjoy.


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Giveaway – Win a paperback copy of Redneck’s Revenge (Open Internationally)

Click HERE

*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.


Author 

Rednecks Revenge - Joan Livingston bwJoan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Redneck’s Revenge, published by Crooked Cat Books, is the second in the mystery series featuring Isabel Long, a long-time journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. The first is Chasing the Case.

An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hill towns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and most recently the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure.

After eleven years in Northern New Mexico, Joan returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including the Isabel Long series.

Social Media Links

Website: www.joanlivingston.net

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JoanLivingstonAuthor/

Twitter: @joanlivingston 

Instagram: www.Instagram.com/JoanLivingston_Author

Goodreads: www.Goodreads.com/Joan_Livingston

Litsy: JoanLivingston


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Cupid F*cks Up : Blog Tour

Cupid F*cks Up by Paula Houseman

Cupid Fcks up ebook cover

Ruth Roth is a straight shooter. Pity Cupid’s not.

Smart-mouth Ruth is an inspirational humour columnist for a popular women’s magazine. Recently divorced, she has found the love of her life. Without any help, mind you, from the little fat love god. Ruth has decided she herself is her one and only. And she’s in a comfy place. Why wouldn’t she be? No need to yell ‘Put the bloody toilet seat down!’ No need to hoover toe-nail clippings off the carpet.

But then a silver-tongued Prince Charming fronts up in his shiny Merc and tickles her discarded, little-girl fantasies. He tells her their love is written in the stars.

It must be a misprint.

A romance with this particular PC is not so PC! Still …

Ruth’s life plays out more like ancient myth than fairytale. And what hot-blooded woman can resist forbidden fruit? There’s a problem, though. Ruth does not have a hot-blooded mum. Ruth has a pain-in-the-arse mum whose squawking disapproval cranks the taboo up a notch. All the more reason to take up with the stud! But it means taking on the harpy.

Tensions mount, and even Ruth’s man can’t protect her from the trash-talking voices in her head. It looks like he can’t muzzle his own either. When an earth-shattering revelation causes him to give her grief, it makes her feel like she’s dating her mother.

Taking the kind of advice she doles out to her readers is not so easy, and Ruth wonders if this love can survive. More to the point, is it worth the trouble?Ruth has survived plenty with the help of her friends. And as a writer, her wry wit, dirty muse, and a bent for ancient mythology have sustained her. This, though, might be her undoing.


In my review of the first book in this series, Odyssey in a Teacup, I wrote:

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. 

Paula Houseman did it then and does it now. Sometimes in a series, the author’s writing dips and we are not as wowed by the second book as we are the first, not so here. The author has presented us with another laugh-out-loud, face-achingly funny, exploration of family and relationships. It’s the same Ruth; lewd and immature, crass and self-conscious, strong and insecure, she stumbles through life, dealing with whatever drama comes her way, with her usual style and bravura.

In this novel, we have moved forward, and as in real life, the old makes way for the new, and so we have fresh characters to get our reading-teeth into. Various twists and turns present us with a dramatic production whose characters include Ralph as her new-love-man-of-her-dreams, teenagers filled with angst and issues, the neighbour from hell, as well as their respective idiosyncratic families and friends. As we are moved, from scene to scene, through the tragedies and comedies of their lives, and the revelation of secrets, Ruth discovers they have more skeletons than the local cemetery.

With a littering of births, marriages, and deaths, self-discovery and re-incarnation, with a wry look at the realities and craziness of  life, Paula Houseman entertains, amuses, and enlightens us. What I said of Odyssey in a Teacup is just as true here:

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.

Want more? Read the book! You’ll love it!

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Purchase 

Amazon UK – HERE

Amazon US – HERE

 

Author

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.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/paulahouseman

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/PaulaHouseman

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

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulahouseman


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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.


Purchase

Just £1.99 in Amazon UK Kindle Store HERE

Audio Book HERE (FREE with Audible free trial)


Author

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.

@LyndaStacey 


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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.

BUT…

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

 


Author

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.


Purchase

Here : Amazon

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Author

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

https://www.facebook.com/alliescribbler/

@alliescribbler


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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


Author

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


Giveaway

 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.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494130/


 

Blog Tour – Elle Spellman Interview

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The joy of asking an author questions is that you can be as imaginative as you want to be with the questions. Of course they don’t have to answer, but when they do, what an interesting insight you get into the author.

Today we have Elle Spellman, author of the great fun read She’s Bad News, who hasShe's Bad News - Author Photo ES HSBS agreed to join the fun Here are the questions with her repleis.answer my questions.

Here are her replies:

If you had to spend a day with Bella, what would the two of you do?

Fight crime! Well, maybe. Bella is definitely someone I’d like to hang out with. I’d love to be part of her slightly crazy life if just for one day, as she tries to find some interesting stories for the Hartleybourne Gazette. I’d love to meet Chloe too. And yes, I would love to head out in the night and catch some criminals with her. Sure, I don’t have powers, but I could be the lookout!

If you could have any, what super-power would you choose and why?

Oh, that’s such a tricky question (but definitely one of my favourites)! There are so many possibilities that it’d be hard to choose. I mean, I’d love to have superhuman strength, for a variety of reasons. But I’d also like to have sentient hair like Marvel’s Medusa. I guess it would have to come down to what would be the most useful. So for me, my super-power would probably be something like the ability to control or freeze time, so that I’d have more hours in the day!

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

I think the main problem I have is being overly-cautious when it comes to writing male characters. I tend to worry that I might be writing a stereotype, or adhering to certain traits often found in women’s fiction. That’s normally just me overthinking things! Luckily I have a lot of male friends, so it helps me to draw from experience, or that of my friends.

When writing, do you have a favourite snack and/or drink?

Definitely tea! I’m not so particular when it comes to snacks, but I have to have a mug of tea as I’m writing.

 How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I’ve just put aside my third book (which I’ve only just started) in order to rewrite my second. Both books are standalone novels and not related to She’s Bad News, although I do have ideas for a sequel. Currently I’m enjoying working on other projects so if I do decide to write a second Bella book, it won’t be for a little while yet. After that, I have a fourth book planned, which is currently just a fun personal project. There’s also a YA novel that’s been in my head for over a decade so hopefully at some point in the near future I can sit down to work on it. (And this is why I need that time-stopping power!)

If you could invite any fictional character to dinner, who would it be and why?

Can I stick with the superhero theme here and say Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman? Catwoman has always intrigued me, and she’s one of my all-time favourite Batman characters. Most people would recognise her as a villain (especially when working with fellow Sirens: Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn) but personally I’ve always found her to be neutral. An anti-hero. Sure, she’s an expert thief, but she only hurts those who truly deserve it. She does her bit to help Gotham, and often Batman, in her own special way. Her attitude and willingness to fight often masks the fact she has a big heart. Plus, she’s sassy, strong and kick-ass. What’s not to love about Catwoman?

What was your favourite childhood book?

I had many! I learned to read with Ladybird Books, so had a big collection of those, which included the Garden Gang series and a lot of fairytales. I still love reading fairytales, but nowadays I like to read the original, much older versions that are were a lot more sinister! But I think my all-time favourite childhood book is Roald Dahl’s Matilda. Everything about it is wonderful. I read it again and again, and still love it to this day.

What is the naughtiest thing you did as a child?

I don’t think I was a particularly naughty child but I did play the game ‘knock down ginger’ (when you knock on someone’s door and run away) a couple of times with friends in my street even though I would have been in a LOT of trouble if my mum knew!

What books are currently on your bedside table?

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, because I’ve wanted to read the James Bond novels for so long and it’s about damn time! I’m also about to start The Babysitter by Sheryl Browne, followed by The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. As for comics, I’m currently reading Gotham Central #2, by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka.

If Heaven is a library, in which section will you spend eternity?

It would have to be fiction! I would spend every blissful day in a different fictional world. I would never feel alone. The very idea of Heaven being a library is an amazing one indeed.

She's Bad News Cover HSBS

EBook available from:

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

 

She’s Bad News – Blog Tour

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She’s Bad News – Elle Spellman

What would you do if you woke up with super powers?
For Bella Brown, life hasn’t gone according to plan. She’s almost thirty, still living in her uneventful hometown, and her dreams of becoming an investigative reporter have fallen by the wayside.
That is, until she wakes up one morning to find she’s been gifted with some amazing new abilities. What’s a girl to do with heightened senses, super speed and the ability to lift a truck one-handed? Bella quickly discovers that her new powers can easily help her land front-page leads at local newspaper, The Hartleybourne Gazette. 
Soon Bella’s out every night chasing down local criminals for stories, while keeping her powers a secret from everyone besides flatmate Chloe. But when a burglary-gone-wrong accidentally turns her into the mysterious Hartleybourne Heroine, Bella finds herself on the front page for the wrong reasons. Her secret becomes harder to keep as she tries to track down the source of her powers, and especially when crime reporter Matt Gilmore is intent on unmasking the town’s new vigilante…
Suddenly, having an extraordinary life is far more dangerous than she ever imagined.

She's Bad News - Author Photo ES HSBSIt would be very easy for any reviewer to classify this story as a nice easy read with nothing much to think about, or that it is a silly book, and over the top. Yes, it is all those things, but it is also much more. It very subtly addresses weight issues, the diet industry, workplace bullying, amongst other things.

Elle Spellman has written a fun superhero novel, where an ordinary girl accidently acquires some super-powers. It is funny, cringeworthy, sad, and scary. Yes, there are sections that could have been edited more tightly, others that should have been cut or condensed, but all in all this author has given us a book that covers some interesting issues and does it within the confines of a delightfully eccentric, entertaining, and thoroughly enjoyable story.

Bella, our heroine, can be irritating, but is adorable. She is the girl who left her mundane life, went to university and graduated with a journalism degree, and hoped for a bright future in London with a national newspaper. Sadly, she finds herself locked into a job with the local newspaper where she writes the Better Self column, covering slimming aids, the health benefits of asparagus, and such trivia, but not anything she regards as journalism. Layla, her boss, is a bitch, and belittles Bella at every opportunity. No matter how many article idea Bella tries to get approval for, Layla cruelly shuts her down, telling her that she is overstepping, and to leave the journalism to the reporters.

‘You’re responsible for Better Self, not Bella Brown Investigates…read the PR, write the reviews and the copy. It’s all I want you to do.’

Alice, Bella’s sister, doesn’t treat her much better. Everything is about Alice. She contacts Bella at anytime she deems fit, ignoring the fact that Bella is at work, for example, or anything else Bella may be doing. Bella may as well answer her mobile at work, she not a reporter, after all she failed at journalism.  As Bella tells us:

‘She would either call my desk phone all day, hire a sniper to take me out, or worse, take a three-hour drive…and turn up at my office just to make a point.’

Chloe is a health and fitness trainer and Bella’s best friend. She’s as mad as Bella, and though a bit annoying and ‘preachy’ at times, she has Bella’s best interests at heart, and helps and supports her. Add to the character mix the attractive crime reporter and the mysterious CEO of the company that produces NARCIS Ultra-Boost, the slimming pill that Bella must review, and the stage is set for madness, mayhem, and mishaps.

She's Bad News Cover HSBSShe’s Bad News is pure escapist fun, with a subtle lifting of a mirror to reflect the insanity of our world. A world that bullies, denigrates, and belittles those who don’t meet the standards of others. One of the things I liked about Bella and her acquisition of superpowers, is that she remained the same – a curvy overweight, awkward, sweet, down to earth girl. The superpowers gave her back the confidence and self-worth that was being slowly chipped away by her boss, her family, and others.

There is plenty of laughter, plenty of action, and some scary moments, as Bella uses her powers for crime-fighting investigative good. I just couldn’t read the last few chapters fast enough. Whatever the need for editing, She’s Bad News is a one of the most fun and enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time. I’m keen to read whatever Elle Spellman writes next and I hope she’ll bring us a Bella sequel.

Highly recommended.

April Release Box Sets

Sometimes I enjoy just binge reading a series. If you want to catch up on some very read-worthy box-sets, here are April’s releases:

Lords of the Underworld Vol 2Lords of the Underworld Collection Volume 2 by Gena Showalter

New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter’s sizzling Lords of the Underworld series continues with three stories featuring dangerously seductive immortal warriors and the women who change them forever. Journey through this dark and sensual world, where the line between good and evil blurs and true love is put to the ultimate test. Bundle includes: The Darkest Prison, The Darkest Whisper, The Darkest Passion and The Darkest Lie. BONUS: The Darkest Facts and an excerpt from The Darkest Warrior!

 

Navy Series

Navy Brides by Debbie Macomber

Fall in love with the Navy! These popular stories salute the men and women in the U.S. Navy, and the families and friends who support them. Each is an emotional story, a dramatic romance featuring Debbie Macomber’s always-believable characters, as well as her trademark touches of humor. Each is highly enjoyable on its own, but together they create a memorable reading experience. Life and Love in the Navy. There’s nothing like it!

The six books, in chronological order, are:
NAVY WIFE;  NAVY BLUES;  NAVY BRAT;  NAVY WOMAN;  NAVY BABY; NAVY HUSBAND

Highland Grooms Vol 1The Highland Grooms Collection Volume 1 by Julia London

These Highlanders stay strong and true to their hearts… don’t miss a single classic story in this unforgettable collection from New York Times bestselling author Julia London!
Wild Wicked Scot
Born into riches and groomed in English luxury, Margot Armstrong didn’t belong in a Scottish chieftain’s devil-may-care world. Three years ago she fled their marriage of convenience and hasn’t looked back—except to relive the moments spent in wild, rugged Arran McKenzie’s passionate embrace. But as political tensions rise, Margot must return to her husband to uncover his role in the treachery before her family can be accused of it.

Lord for Every LadyA Lord for Every Lady – several authors

Every lady dreams about a dashing lord sweeping her off her feet and into her happily ever after. Immerse yourself in these six tales of romance and discover how each lady lands her lord.

TO LOVE A THIEF by Darcy Burke

Former constable Lord Daniel Carlyle thinks he’s met the girl of his dreams, until he catches her stealing from his mentor. Jocelyn Renwick vows to stop at nothing to recover her stolen treasures, but does that include risking a chance at love?

TO LURE A LOST DUKE by Christy Carlyle

Killian Graves, Duke of Strathmoor, doesn’t wish to be found. An unforgivable act in London and haunting memories of war have turned him into a recluse. Not even Octavia Fowler, the fetching lady detective Queen Victoria has set on his trail, can lure him back from seclusion. Though she may prove extremely dangerous to his heart.

SCANDALOUS INTENTIONS by Amanda Mariel

Lady Sarah Roseington is determined to marry for love or not at all, and she will do anything to obtain the freedom granted to a man. A blackguard like Lord Luvington could destroy her hard-won reputation, but marriage to him also offers her the opportunities she cannot achieve on her own. What’s a lady to do?

THE MAD COUNTESS by Erica Monroe

Bashful Teddy Lockwood, the Earl of Ashbrooke, has always loved his best friend. When they’re drawn together at a mysterious Gothic castle, he’ll have to break a wicked curse to win her heart.

THEODORA by Christina McKnight

When Lady Theodora Montgomery is unmasked while competing in an archery tournament, she fears her reputation is ruined. To save face, she accepts a marriage of convenience with her friend’s older brother, Alistair Price—who soon shoots arrows to her heart with perfect aim.

THE ART OF SEDUCTION by Eileen Richards

Reduced circumstances have taught spinster Elizabeth Bishop to be an independent woman. But when a chance meeting brings Michael Camden, Marquess of Langston, back into her life, will she give up her independence for love?

 

Last Letter Home

Last Letter HomeLast Letter Home – Rachel Hore

On holiday with friends, young historian Briony Wood becomes fascinated with a wartime story of a ruined villa in the hills behind Naples. There is a family connection: her grandfather had been a British soldier during the Italian campaign of 1943 in that very area. Handed a bundle of letters that were found after the war, Briony sets off to trace the fate of their sender, Sarah Bailey
In 1939, Sarah returns with her mother and sister from India, in mourning, to take up residence in the Norfolk village of Westbury. There she forms a firm friendship with Paul Hartmann, a young German who has found sanctuary in the local manor house, Westbury Hall. With the outbreak of war, conflicts of loyalty in Westbury deepen. 
When, 70 years later, Briony begins to uncover Sarah and Paul’s story, she encounters resentments and secrets still tightly guarded. What happened long ago in the villa in the shadow of Vesuvius, she suspects, still has the power to give terrible pain.

This book is like glue, it doesn’t matter what you want to do, you can’t put it down. I read it in two sittings BUT only because I had to sleep in between. Some bits I read twice, which I’ll explain later.

Compelling, romantic, and mysterious, it’s a thoroughly fascinating tale that moves between two time-periods, present day and World War 2, revealing some interesting relationships in both. This appealed to the historian in me, and it highlights a much-ignored subject, those Germans who lived here, served, and fought for this country.  Few people know that some 10,000 German and Austrian nationals volunteered to fight for Britain.

These won’t spoil the story, but I had some ‘niggles’. Let me get those out of the way first. Research historians enjoy the chase. In fact we LOVE the chase; hunting down information, solving the riddles, answering the questions, there is nothing quite like the thrill of it. So that being the case I had some issues with Briony as a research historian with a PhD, and why I had to read certain parts twice, in case I had missed something. Given that her specialism is supposed to be World War 2, I found it difficult to believe that she struggled at certain points about what to do, and at another had a museum assistant to direct her to what amounts to the county record office. No doubt some of her research was done ‘off stage’ as it were, but when she’s questioning herself, I was mentally shouting things like ‘look on bloody Ancestry’ or ‘go to the National Archives for heaven’s sake’. This is stuff she should and would know. A missing part for me is how she researched Sarah and Paul’s story, and I was disappointed that the author didn’t give us more of that.

None of this will spoil the enjoyment of an otherwise great story, or more properly, two great stories.

Rachel Hore writes the historic sections exceptionally well. Her subtle composition reflects the social divisions of the 1930s and how they work under the surface, while clearly highlighting the awful calculating snobbery and conceit of some of the characters. She recreates the period splendidly and doesn’t shy away from the unpleasant and ugly aspects of war and society.

I liked Briony, though occasionally her lack of confidence became very annoying, but I couldn’t like her friend Aruna no matter how I tried. There were moments when I wondered how and why they were friends though towards the end there is some resolution on that front. Lavender, her step-mother develops beautifully, as does Briony’s relationship with her. The men in her life are not perfect, indeed far from it, but they are real in as much as they are fleshed out, flawed, and recognisable.

Sarah and Paul are fantastic characters. The chapters dealing with their story had me glued to every word on every page, and they raise the book from an average to an outstanding. The beautifully paced journey of their relationship makes for great reading, and the whole mystery element makes this a page-turner. At certain parts you will find yourself anxious to find out what’s going on and so rush to read, yet at others you’ll enjoy and relish the slower pace that lets the story unfold gently. The ‘will they, won’t they’ conundrum will have you rapidly reading and page turning through secrets, heartbreak, and tightly bound emotions, all of which builds to an end that is both bitter and sweet at the same time.

Enjoy!

Spring and thoughts of love…

In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love (Tennyson)

I’ve often thought it would make more sense to start the New Year in Spring. It’s the most wonderful time of year when, as we creep slowly from the cold and dark of winter, we change the clocks a second time, and greet nature’s new and renewed life in both the plant and animal worlds.

So as the poem says, turning to thoughts of love, here are some great new titles being released in April, and one or two older titles being re-released for a new audience. I hope you’ll find at least one book amongst them that you’ll want to read.

Mornings on MainMornings On Main – Jodi Thomas

When Jillian James lands in the small-town Texas community of Laurel Springs, she’s definitely not planning to stay, just long enough to find a few clues about the father who abandoned her and destroyed her faith in family.

Connor Larady is a single dad, and the only one caring for his grandmother, Eugenia, who has Alzheimer’s. Now he has to close Eugenia’s quilt shop, and when Connor meets down-on-her-luck Jillian, he’s out of options. Can he trust the newcomer to do right by his grandmother’s legacy?

Jillian is done with relationships, but as she grows closer to Connor and Eugenia, she must consider giving up her nomadic life for a future with those who need her.

Scandalous HeiressA Wedding for the Scandalous Heiress – Elizabeth Beacon

A stolen kiss from a dashing stranger at her own betrothal ball!

When Isabella Alstone receives a shockingly passionate kiss from a handsome stranger at her betrothal ball, she scandalously ends her engagement. She is even more surprised when she discovers exactly who the stranger is! Ruggedly striking Wulf FitzDevelin is illegitimate, penniless, and her ex-fiancé’s half-brother—their match is wholly unsuitable. Yet Isabella cannot escape the burning longing to feel his touch again!

Second Chance FamilySecond Chance Family by Margaret Daley

Savor once again this story in the Fostered by Love series, from top-selling author Margaret Daley.
Dedicated teacher Whitney Maxwell gave up her dream of a family years ago. But she’s about to get a lesson in faith and family from an unexpected source—a brave little boy named Jason. Jason and his dad are dealing with his autism the best they can, but Dr. Shane McCoy can’t put his tragic past behind him. As Whitney and Shane work together to help his son, could these two lost souls open their hearts to love again and become a lasting family?

Mail Order Bride SwitchMail Order Bride Switch – Dorothy Clarke

Garret Stevenson must find a bride or forfeit his newly built hotel. With his deadline approaching, he plans an in-name-only marriage with a maid who’ll cook and clean for his guests. When a pampered, pretty heiress arrives instead, the deception confirms Garret’s distrust of women, but Virginia Winterman has more substance than her elegant clothes suggest.

Fleeing West to escape a cruel suitor, Virginia finds a business arrangement with Whisper Creek’s brusque hotel owner is mutually beneficial, and she relishes being useful. Yet what was once a practical solution soon blossoms into a deeper union. Can Garret get past old betrayals before his future with Virginia slips away?

Love and Other WordsLove and Other Words – Christina Lauren

The heart may hide, but it never forgets.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away. When she runs into Elliot Petropoulos – the first and only love of her life – the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world – growing from her gangly teen friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother . . . only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends into much more – spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco reading books, sharing favourite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

Family GatheringThe Family Gathering – Robyn Carr

Can he forget the wounds of his past? 

Dakota Jones had a difficult upbringing but he escaped to the military as soon as he could. Now, after several tours of duty he has finally been discharged. Refusing to return home he arrives in Sullivan’s Crossing where his brother Cal and sister Sierra have found a home. Nestled at the crossroads of the Colorado and Continental Divide Trails, the area attracts those looking for answers or direction or a new lease on life. Dakota will come to terms with his less-than-perfect family and will plant the roots he’s never had.

Annas Forgotten FianceeAnna’s Forgotten Fiancee – Carrie Lighte

An accident leaves Anna Weaver with no memory of her Amish hometown’s newest arrival—her fiancé! After a whirlwind courtship, their wedding’s in six weeks…but how can she marry a man she can’t remember? Carpenter Fletcher Chupp takes her on a walk down memory lane, but there’s one thing he wants to keep hidden: a secret that might just lose him the woman he loves.

Family Other CastastrophesFamily and Other Catastrophes by Alexandra Borowitz

Emily Glass knows she’s neurotic, but she’s got it under control. Sort of. She dons compression socks when she flies (because, you know, deep vein thrombosis) and responds to people routinely over-estimating her age with more Life-spin classes and less gluten. Thankfully, she also has David, the wonderful man she’ll soon call husband—assuming they can survive wedding week with her wildly dysfunctional family.
Emily’s therapist mother, Marla, who’s been diagnosing her children since they were in diapers, sees their homecoming as the perfect opportunity for long-overdue family therapy sessions. Less enthused are Emily and her two siblings: ardently feminist older sister Lauren, who doesn’t think the wedding party should have defined gender roles, and recently divorced brother Jason, whose overzealous return to single-hood is only tempered by his puzzling friendship with David’s Renaissance Faire—enthusiast brother.
As the week comes to a tumultuous head, Emily wants nothing more than to get married and get as far away from her crazy relatives as possible. But that’s easier said than done when Marla’s meddling breathes new life into old secrets. After all, the ties that bind family together may bend, but they aren’t so easily broken.

Bachelor's Perfect MatchThe Bachelor’s Perfect Match – Kathryn Springer

He loves adventures…
She only reads them…until now!

Maddie Montgomery, Castle Falls’ shy librarian, has always played it safe. Enter Aiden Kane, the town’s resident adventurer, on the mend from an accident and in need of Maddie’s help. As Maddie assists Aiden with his search for a long-lost relative, the handsome outdoorsman coaxes Maddie out of her safety zone. Can Maddie take the biggest risk of all—giving in to love?

 

Heros returnHero’s Return – B J Daniels

Tucker Cahill disappeared from Gilt Edge, Montana, hoping to escape a secret that has haunted him for nineteen years. Then, when a young woman’s remains are found in the creek near his family’s ranch, he has no choice but to face his demons. The truth that sent him running years ago could take away his freedom now.
Kate Rothschild came to town looking for vengeance—and Tucker Cahill. What she finds is a tortured and irresistible man who’s more than meets the eye. Caught up in the past, they are drawn deeper into a twisted game that’s not over yet. And the consequences could prove fatal for them both…

Flirting with DisasterFlirting with Disaster by Sherryl Woods

There’s a fine line between desire and disaster.

At least, that’s what improper Southern belle Maggie Forsythe thinks when she’ unceremoniously dumped by a fiancé even her mother approved of. Maggie has never cared what anyone thinks, so why is she hiding away from her South Carolina Low Country home?
Then an intervention by friends shows her she has options. Lots of them! And one includes a man who can make her forget all about being jilted.
But one look at Maggie convinces project foreman Josh Parker that he’s corn bread to her caviar. Sure, they have enough sparks to ignite a bonfire, but growing up broke has made him wary of sweet-tea-swilling debutantes. So why is he suddenly singing “Tea for Two”?
Originally published in 2011.

Ready for RomanceReady for Romance by Debbie Macomber

At fourteen, Jessica Kellerman was madly in love with Evan Dryden, one of the boys next door, much to the amusement of both their families. Now, ten years later, she’s about to start working for the Dryden brothers, Evan and Damian. But no one will let her forget her girlish infatuation, and Jessica finds it frustrating in the extreme. Because she’s in love with a Dryden, all right—but it’s Damian, not Evan. And this time she knows it’s not puppy love; it’s the real thing.
How can she convince Damian of her true feelings when he’s still trying to push her toward his brother?

Originally published in 1993

 

Tracy Beaker : The Adult Years…

JWilsonJacqueline Wilson’s most famous character is making a comeback. Tracy Beaker returns as an adult, a single mum with a daughter called Jess. It is from Jess’s perspective that the book is written.

To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about this; I am in equal measures Tracy Beakerexcited, appalled, and curious. Tracy Beaker and Jacqueline Wilson’s books were a huge part of my daughter’s reading life. Even in throughout her teens, publication of a new Jacqueline Wilson book meant  had to bring one home for her. I think she read the last one just before she went of to university. When I told her of the project, her response was that she is unsure, it’s weird, but she’d probably read it if only to see what its like.

Read the article here.

Claire Armitstead doesn’t like the idea, nor the fact that Raymond Briggs’ Snowman is being turned into a chapter book , albeit written by the great Michael Morpurgo. (Click on her name to read the article)

 

The Exact Opposite of Okay

The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven

Exact OppositeIzzy O’Neill here! Impoverished orphan, aspiring comedian and Slut Extraordinaire, if the gossip sites are anything to go by. Izzy never expected to be 18 and internationally reviled. But when explicit photos involving her, a politician’s son and a garden bench are published online, the trolls set out to take her apart. Armed with best friend Ajita and a metric ton of nachos, she tries to laugh it off – but as the daily slut-shaming intensifies, she soon learns that the way the world treats teenage girls is not okay.

It’s The Exact Opposite of Okay.

Well, there is nothing like tackling an issue head on, and Laura Steven does just that. It’s a very powerful book, and given the media spotlight on how young women and girls are abused and bullied on the internet, it is extremely apropos. What Laura does, is take the reader on a rollercoaster of emotions; laughing and crying, happy and despairing. How do you deal with the fact that one day you are with your friends, happy and loving life, the next the internet is awash with very explicit photographs of you?

The social judgement, revenge porn, slut-shaming, victim blaming, male entitlement and more is  terrifying. Yet no matter how low and despairing it gets, you come away feeling emboldened and encouraged.  If  you do not know much about feminism or maybe are unsure what it means, this book will give some the reader some illumination.

On a less serious note, I spent a lot of time laughing; this book is riddled with humour!  The characters are well drawn, their voices are fresh and immediate, and you cannot help but become invested in them. Izzy comes across as a tough, strong girl, but in fact she is as vulnerable as everyone else, which we discover as the story progresses. As this book is aimed at an audience of teenage girls and young women, pulling away the layers of Izzy ‘front’ is a really great device to show that underneath, there is another Izzy who is just like the rest of us. Her friend Ajita provides the best friend support, and their relationship feels real and relatable. Anita’s development as a character is also excellent, but most of all I liked how her background, ethnicity, culture (call it what you will) impacts on her decision-making. Equally, well drawn are two good women;  Betty, Izzy’s Grandmother, and Mrs Crannon, Izzy’s teacher, who provided her with essential love and support.

It is astounding to think that this is a debut novel. If Laura Steven keeps this standard in her next novels, she is going to be a writing force to be reckoned with.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

 

2018 Women’s Prize Long List

According to their website, the Wellcome Book Prize

is an annual award, open to new works of fiction or non-fiction. To be eligible for entry, a book should have a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness. This can cover many genres of writing – including crime, romance, popular science, sci-fi and history.

At some point, medicine touches all our lives. Books that find stories in those brushes with medicine are ones that add new meaning to what it means to be human. The subjects these books grapple with might include birth and beginnings, illness and loss, pain, memory, and identity. In keeping with its vision and goals, the Wellcome Book Prize aims to excite public interest and encourage debate around these topics.

The short list will be announced on March 20th, with the winner announced on April 20th. This is their longlist, which was announced in February:

Wellcome Prize Longlist

 

10 Delicious March Releases

Wartime Brides and Wedding Cakes – Amy Miller

Paperback – 7th Mar 2018

MillerJanuary, 1941: As Charlie Barton tiptoes silently out of the house one cold winter morning to go off and fight for his country, his wife Audrey is left to run the family bakery on her own. Times are tougher than ever, but at the Barton Bakery in Bournemouth, Audrey is determined as always to serve the town with love, loaves and cakes, even as the town is reeling from the struggles of the Blitz. 

Audrey’s brother William has returned from battle with serious wounds. His fiancé Elsie is waiting for wedding bells, but William is a changed man, and will her hopes be in vain? Bakery helper Maggie has her heart set on dashing officer George. But will George still want to marry her when he discovers the truth about her family? And Lily, Audrey’s stepsister, is struggling to raise her illegitimate baby and facing judgement from many in the town. The man who broke her heart returns with an offer, and Lily faces a hard decision about where her future lies.

When disaster strikes the bakery, Audrey fears that everything she has worked for may be ruined. With her shop threatened and her family in turmoil, can she fight to save everything she holds dear? 


The House of Hopes and Dreams  – Trisha Ashley

Kindle Edition – 8th March 2018

AshleyWhen Carey Revell unexpectedly becomes the heir to Mossby, his family’s ancestral home, it’s rather a mixed blessing. The house is large but rundown and comes with a pair of resentful relatives who can’t be asked to leave. 
Still, newly dumped by his girlfriend and also from his job as a TV interior designer, Carey needs somewhere to lick his wounds. And Mossby would be perfect for a renovation show. He already knows someone who could restore the stained glass windows in the older part of the house…
Angel Arrowsmith has spent the last ten years happily working and living with her artist mentor and partner. But suddenly bereaved, she finds herself heartbroken, without a home or a livelihood. Life will never be the same again – until old friend Carey Revell comes to the rescue.
They move in to Mossby with high hopes. But the house has a secret at its heart: an old legend concerning one of the famous windows. Will all their dreams for happiness be shattered? Or can Carey and Angel find a way to make this house a home?


What Fresh Hell – Lucy Vine

Paperback – 8th March 2018

VineWhat do you get if you cross a dozen drunk hens with one shiny Butler in the Buff?

Meet Lilah Fox. She’s on the hen do from hell. Then she gets a message (44 of them, actually) from her best friend with big news: she’s getting married in six months. Oh, and Lilah’s her maid of honour.

Which means she just got signed up for:

  • A military schedule of wedding fairs and weekly planning meetings
  • Excel spreadsheets and endless hen emails
  • All the enforced, expensive fun you can imagine…

What fresh hell is this?


Sunshine at the Comfort Food Cafe – Debbie Johnson

Paperback – 8th March 2018

JohnsonMy name is Willow Longville. I live in a village called Budbury on the stunning Dorset coast with my mum Lynnie, who sometimes forgets who I am. I’m a waitress at the Comfort Food Café, which is really so much more than a café … it’s my home.

For Willow, the ramshackle café overlooking the beach, together with its warm-hearted community, offers friendship as a daily special and always has a hearty welcome on the menu. But when a handsome stranger blows in on a warm spring breeze, Willow soon realises that her quiet country life will be changed forever.


One Cornish Summer – Liz Fenwick

Paperback – 8th March 2018

FenwickAgainst the beauty of Cornwall, a story of two women struggling with their past: one cannot remember hers, the other cannot forget…

When Hebe receives a life-changing diagnosis at only 53, she struggles to make sense of what it will mean for her, her job and the man she loves. With memories slipping away by the day, she flees to the one place she has always felt safe and peaceful – Cornwall, and the house her family spent so many summers in.

Lucy is having her own crisis, and seizes the chance to follow her aunt to Cornwall. Curious about what has driven Hebe there after so many years, she also has to battle with the secret she has kept since her family’s last summer there more than ten years ago.

Both women will learn that memories live in our hearts and that sharing secrets can set you free… But can they find their way back to the things that are truly important to them?


The Summer of Secrets – Tilly Tennant

Kindle Edition – 14th March 2018

JamesCan new love grow when you dig up old secrets?
Harper Woods wakes up every morning on Silver Hill Farm feeling like the luckiest woman in the world. She’s engaged to the tall, dark dreamy Shay and just downstairs are the gorgeous tea rooms she’s always dreamed of owning. 
But Harper is about to discover something that will change her luck forever. For better or worse? She has no idea. Not until an expert can identify whether the stunning collection of jewellery she found hidden in the farm’s foundations is priceless, or more trouble than it’s worth… 
As news of the discovery spreads through the Silver Hill, it seems everyone has a secret history making them the rightful owner. In particular, Will Frampton, stubborn and irritatingly handsome Lord of Silver Hill House, the crumbling stately home the other side of the hill. Too busy trying to untangle the truth, Harper doesn’t notice Shay getting rather close to his ex from the village. 
Harper thought she had everything she ever wanted. If she solves the mystery of her sparkling prize, can she hold onto her dream, or will she lose it all, and be left broken-hearted?


The Cafe at Seashell Cove – Karen Clarke

Kindle Edition – 15th March 2018

ClarkeWelcome to the Café at Seashell Cove, where you’ll find irresistible home-baked cakes, smiling friendly faces – and maybe even a second chance at love…
When Cassie Maitland needs a holiday from her glamorous but stressful job in event management, she escapes home to gorgeous Seashell Cove, where her family’s cosy café sits perched on the cliffs above sparkling waves and golden sand.
But a lot has changed while Cassie’s been away: her parents have transformed their tired café into a welcoming haven, her friends Meg and Tilly have whole new lives, and old flame Danny’s twinkling eyes and winning smile make Cassie feel even more flustered than they used to.
Keen to throw herself back into local life, Cassie starts to run themed events – including a not entirely successful cat-café day, complete with dozens of felines. Luckily Danny is always around to lend a helping hand, and Cassie soon begins to wonder if her life in London was really all she made it out to be…
Could a new start in Seashell Cove be exactly what Cassie needs?


The Allotment Girls – Kate Thompson

Paperback – 22nd March 2018

ThompsonDuring the Second World War, life in the iconic Bryant & May match factory is grimy and tough. Annie, Rose, Pearl and Millie carry on making matches for the British Army, with bombs raining down around them.  Inspired by the Dig for Victory campaign, Annie persuades the owners to start Bryant & May allotment in the factory grounds. With plenty of sweat and toil, the girls eventually carve out a corner of the yard into a green plot full of life and colour.

In the darkest of times, the girls find their allotment a tranquil, happy escape. Using pierced dustbin lids to sieve through the shrapnel and debris, they bring about a powerful change, not just in the factory, but their own lives.  As the war rages on, the garden becomes a place of community, friendship – and deceit. As the garden thrives and grows, so do the girls’ secrets . . .


Hetty’s Farmhouse Bakery – Cathy Bramley

Paperback – 22nd  March 2018

BramleyThirty-two-year-old Hetty Greengrass is the star around which the rest of her family orbits. Marriage, motherhood and helping Dan run Sunnybank Farm have certainly kept her hands full for the last twelve years. When her daughter Poppy has to choose her inspiration for a school project and picks her aunt, not her mum, Hetty is left full of self-doubt. 
Hetty’s always been generous with her time and until now, her biggest talent – baking deliciously moreish short crust pastry pies – has been limited to charity work and the village fete. Taking part in a competition run by Cumbria’s Finest to find the very best produce from the region might be just the thing to make her daughter proud . . . and reclaim something for herself.
Except that life isn’t as simple as producing the perfect pie. Changing the status quo isn’t easy, and with cracks appearing in her marriage and shocking secrets coming to light, Hetty must decide where her priorities really lie . . .


Spring at the Café at the End of the Pier – Helen Rolfe

Kindle Edition – 22nd March 2018

RolfeA feel-good novella and the start of a brilliant new series…
Jo has settled into running her grandparents’ little café at the end of the pier in Salthaven. She’s given it a spring-clean and a spruce-up and she’s getting to know the locals and starting to enjoy life by the sea.

But when Harry, her ex-boyfriend, turns out to be her new accountant, feelings from the past start to flood back. He’s here to help sort out the café’s finances, which Jo’s grandparents left in a mess, but Harry seems to have a hidden agenda and Jo isn’t entirely sure spending time with him is a good idea.

Jo throws herself into her new plans for the café – turning it into a real café of love by arranging blind dates for some of the regulars. Her own love life might be non-existent, but it doesn’t mean she can’t bring a little bit of magic to the locals who have made her so welcome. This time she chooses single-dad Ben and doctor Jess. Will they find love at The Café at the End of the Pier? And will Jo manage to put aside her feelings for Harry in order to give the café the future she dreams of for it…?


 

 

Little Pink Taxi

Little Pink Taxi – Marie Laval

Take a ride with Love Taxis, the cab company with a Heart … 
Rosalie Heart is a well-known face in Irlwick – well, if you drive a bright pink taxi and your signature style is a pink anorak, you’re going to draw a bit of attention! But Rosalie’s company Love Taxis is more than just a gimmick – for many people in the remote Scottish village, it’s a lifeline. 
Which is something that Marc Petersen will never understand. Marc’s ruthless approach to business doesn’t extend to pink taxi companies running at a loss. When he arrives in Irlwick to see to a new acquisition – Raventhorn, a rundown castle – it’s apparent he poses a threat to Rosalie’s entire existence; not just her business, but her childhood home too. 
On the face of it Marc and Rosalie should loathe each other, but what they didn’t count on was somebody playing cupid …

Maybe its the historian in me, but Laval’s Little Pink Taxi turned out to be NOT what I was expecting! In fact, it was so much more, and the synopsis does not do it justice at all.

Starting with all the elements that make this book so good and kept me reading.

Firstly, genres. Little Pink Taxi is a crossover/genre mix in my opinion.  It is in essence one romance between 2 people, however it encompasses several other romances,  between people, with home, with landscape, and with heritage. It is a mystery, a thriller, a fantasy, and a historical romance novel. The menace of strange phone calls, a very unpleasant bully, and ‘road rage’ incidents add to the atmosphere and appeal. Who can be trusted? Who can’t? The characters have to deal with their pasts and the people in them; they have to learn and to accept that their perceptions may not be the full picture, that perhaps they’ve got it wrong. Not everything is black and white, and they must accept that they didn’t really know those people fully. The mythology that pervades this book, that surrounds and motivates the characters, is fascinating, and rooted in history. It informs the present, giving us historical characters and another love story. Of course, this historical aspect pulled me deeper into a story  that already had its hooks in me. Deep hooks.

Secondly, the growth and development of the characters. They suffer loss, betrayal, cruelty, and deception. They have to recognise elements within themselves that need to change, no matter how subtly, especially Marc, and to a lesser degree Rosalie. The staggering, stumbling  journey of their romance is excellently written. I found Marc a difficult character to like, so rude, distant, and unfeeling, however the author gradually peels away the layers and you find a man with feelings and issues that he represses.  He initially fights the change that he actually wants, eventually he becomes the man he hoped he would.

Rosalie appears to be very much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get character; sweet, kind, loving, and caring. She still hurts over the loss of her mother. There are elements to her that are not so nice. She easily takes advantage of one relationship which is unkind of her. It’s easy to say she’s not aware she’s doing it, but I’m not convinced. This doesn’t make her a terrible person, it makes her real. She works hard to keep everything going for everyone’s sake, and I did wonder if and when she would finally face the facts about her business.

I can’t say more without revealing really interesting plots and sub-plots. The great mix of genres and various plot-lines suggest it is a mish-mash of a story, but Marie Laval handles it all with great aplomb, and I loved every page of it. I don’t often use the phrase ‘page-turner,’ but this book was for me. I loved the Danish/Viking connections. I wanted to know how and where everyone’s story would end. I had to know about the secrets and mysteries, the crimes and the threats. By the end I couldn’t read fast enough, to the last we are kept guessing even though we are sure this will be a happy ending.

Read this book. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s a scary, thrilling, romantic ride, and I loved it!

BIG THUMBS UP! 


Maybe Never

Maybe Never – Sadie Allen

Maybe NeverJudd Jackson had it all—star football player with a college scholarship, perfect family, tons of friends, and a beautiful girlfriend. He was the most popular guy in town … until a family secret burned it all to the ground. Now, he’s the object of scorn and ridicule, and the only thing he has left is his scholarship and counting down the days until he can leave town. 
One goal-oriented girl… 
Sunny Blackfox was alone in the world, but she had big plans and big dreams to keep her occupied. She didn’t have time for anyone in her life. That was, until she came to the rescue of the boy she always had a thing for. 
They have everything going against them, but maybe, if they are lucky, they will make it out-of-town after graduation together … or maybe never.

A great read, with great characters. Sadie Allen’s writing pulled me in with the drama at the start of the book, and kept me reading with great characters, both nice and nasty. I love how Sunny stood up for Judd, and it just goes on up from that point, experiencing everything from both Sunny and Judd’s points of view.

While I like both the main characters very much, I especially like Sunny. She’s strong, smart, and brave. Her life is tough and she wants to leave the heartache behind and make something of her life. Judd was a ‘golden boy’, and when that is taken away he is lost, insecure, and unable to deal with the injustice of it all. Sunny is his saviour; she brings out his true character.

 

Their romance is adorable, and it was a lovely and natural evolution from study partners, to allies, to friends, to a couple. Although these are teenagers with rampaging hormones, the sex is kept in the background, rather than explicitly on the page. It makes such a change, and made the story so much more realistic to be honest.

Allen sets a good pace as the pair battle neglect, bullying, violence, and brutality, while fighting to remain strong and true to themselves and each other. The author also gets the balance between dark and light, drama and peace nigh on perfect, and while there is tragedy at the heart of this tale, for some reason Hamlet’s words jumped into my mind:

to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them

I believe that is the essence of what Sunny and Judd do. Intense, dark, heartwarming and sweet, I highly recommend Maybe Never.

 

Sam and Ilsa’s Last Hurrah

Sam and Ilsa’s Last Hurrah – Rachel Cohn; David Levithan

Sam and IlsaSam and Ilsa Kehlmann have spent most of their high school years throwing dinner parties, and now they’ve prepared their final blowout, just before graduation. The rules for the twins are simple: they each get to invite three guests, and the other twin doesn’t know who’s coming until the guests show up at the door. With Sam and Ilsa, the sibling revelry is always tempered with a large dose of sibling rivalry, and tonight is no exception.

One night. One apartment. Eight people. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, we all know the answer is plenty. But plenty also goes right – in rather surprising ways. 

I have loved Cohn and Levithan’s books, and fully expected to give this a whopping 5 star review. Disappointment – I can’t. That’s not to say it was bad,  but it was less than I expected. Twins Sam and Ilsa are about to leave school and move on with the next phase of their lives, college, but neither are keen to move away from the comfortable lives they know to something  unknown and risky.

With a cast of past, present, and hopefully future friends and loves, the night revolves around the twins and their guests, of which Caspian is the best, in my opinion. There are grudges, there are secrets, there is talking and screaming, and the guests have ideas and advice to offer the twins on how to move forward. And as the night flows then so too does the booze – lots and lots of it. The clever sarcasm, banter, and  quips, along with the worldly views from guests who have had much less sheltered lives than Sam and Ilsa, make this book worth reading. The high drama could be wearing were it not for the humour which at times borders on the farcicial.

Its well-paced, quirky, and entertaining. Not a favourite, but very definitely worth reading.

The Wedding That Changed Everything

The Wedding That Changed Everything – Jennifer Joyce

Wedding Changed EverythingLove happens when you least expect it…

Emily Atkinson stopped believing in fairy tales a long time ago! She’s fed up of dating frogs in order to find her very own Prince Charming and is giving up on men entirely, but then she’s invited to the wedding of the year at the enchanting Durban Castle and realises that perhaps bumping into a real-life knight in shining armour isn’t quite as far away as she thought!

Will Emily survive the wedding and walk away an unscathed singleton – or finally find her own happily-ever-after?

I was so engaged by this lovely book that I read it in one sitting. The opening sentence had me hooked, and the author kept me hooked to the very last page.  The only tiny irritation is something that happens in a great many books, when a character needs to say something, fix something, or put someone straight, they either are incapable of speech, or the other person walks away and they don’t stop them, or something completely ignorable happens to prevent the explanation. Still, its only a small irritation, so lets move on.

My younger self (and friend) identify with Emily and Alice, and Francelia sounds just like another friend’s mother-in-law. Emily and Alice rely on and support each other in many ways, as real friends do, and Alice’s insistence on trying to find a boyfriend for Emily is in equal measure annoying and adorable, as are Emily’s reasons for dumping men before or after just three dates. Yet among all the fun, charm and romance, lie some serious issues and a dark secret.  Both girls’ families make a great case for the statement that ‘the best place for the family is framed on the shelf’.

One of the more interesting couples are the bride and groom, Carolyn and Piers, and thankfully the author does give us a reasonable view of that relationship, though it would have been nice to see a little bit more. I liked the dynamic of opposites attracting.  Jennifer Joyce certainly has fun with her people, and I loved the depiction of one passing character and his teeth. The banter between Tom and Emily is entertaining, as are the misconceptions between them.

This is such an enjoyable story, filled with instantly recognisable characters, hilarious situations, and a ‘villain’ or two just to keep the fairy tale theme going. And what’s a wedding without people getting drunk, a punch being thrown, secrets getting revealed, and a potential happy ending or two? Arm yourself with drinks and nibbles, snuggle into your favourite armchair, and treat yourself to a few hours of feel-good fun, laughter, and romance with The Wedding That Changed Everything.