Friday, 24 November 2017

BLOG TOUR: A Little Christmas Faith - Kathryn Freeman


So I'm reading an email: there's a new Kathryn Freeman...YES! Count me in!  Book, blog tour, bank holiday...whatever it is, I'm on board.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE Kathryn's books and I wouldn't even say that I'm a huge chick lit fan, but they are so down to earth and filled with insecurities and misunderstandings that they always manage to leave a smile on my face.  So the email wasn't for a new Kathryn Freeman bank holiday (bah humbug), it was an invitation to join the blog tour and I am unbelievably thrilled to be kicking off the tour along with 27 Book Street.


Is it time to love Christmas again?

Faith Watkins loves Christmas, which is why she’s thrilled that her new hotel in the Lake District will be open in time for the festive season. And Faith has gone all out; huge Christmas tree, fairy lights, an entire family of decorative reindeer. Now all she needs are the guests … 

But what she didn’t bank on was her first paying customer being someone like Adam Hunter. Rugged, powerfully built and with a deep sadness in his eyes, Adam is a man that Faith is immediately drawn to – but unfortunately he also has an intense hatred of all things Christmassy.

As the countdown to the big day begins, Faith can’t seem to keep away from her mysterious guest, but still finds herself with more questions than answers: just what happened to Adam Hunter? And why does he hate Christmas?


What did I think?

Well I certainly don't have to think twice about snapping up a copy of a Kathryn Freeman book.  There may be snow on the gorgeous cover, but I just knew I was going to end up with a warm glow inside...and I was not disappointed.  Kathryn has a knack of creating down to earth characters that you can easily identify with.  Her characters aren't perfect but more true to life and it's not all moonlight and roses, it's more drizzle and dandelions but that's why her books are so special.  This is real life, warts and all with a dollop of romance and a huge helping of humour.

Faith Watkins' dream has come true: ever since she was a little girl, she dreamed of owning her own hotel.  Now after all her hard work, the doors are open and Faith is welcoming the first guests.  Ok, it's her Mum and Dad but how lovely is that?  They are so supportive and family is clearly very important to Faith - she has even employed her troubled niece to work on reception.  Faith's first real guest is Adam Hunter and there is just something so mouthwateringly delicious about him.  Faith has been working so hard that there's been no time for men but Adam is just so alluring - she can't fraternise with a guest, can she?  It's her hotel, she can make up her own rules but surely a guy looking like Adam isn't single?  

Adam is tall, dark and very troubled.  He is SO damaged and so very deep that I didn't think Faith would ever crack his shell and release all his demons.  His story is so heartbreaking, not only the things he has gone through but how guilt has eaten him up.  Thank goodness that fate saw fit to steer him in Faith's direction but when Christmas is over he'll be checking out and going back home.  After tasting the sweet fruit of love, can Faith swallow the bitter pill of loneliness when Adam leaves?

A Little Christmas Faith is a festive delight from Kathryn Freeman.  Make sure you put it on your Christmas list.  It's so much fun with characters that you instantly warm to, I laughed and cried with them but felt that familiar uncontrollable smile creeping on to my face as the final chapter drew to a close.  I'm going to call it my Kathryn Freeman smile as she NEVER fails to put a smile on my face, sometimes after putting me through the emotional wringer of course!  So wrap up warm, snuggle under your blanket beside the fire and pick up a copy of A Little Christmas Faith.  It's guaranteed to leave you with such a warm glow and a huge smile on your face.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




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Thursday, 23 November 2017

A Pearl for My Mistress - Annabel Fielding


A story of class, scandal and forbidden passions in the shadow of war. Perfect for fans of Iona Grey, Gill Paul and Downton Abbey.

England, 1934. Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady's maid in a small aristocratic household.

Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy.

Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital... and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society's most dangerous secrets...


What did I think?

I do love historical fiction and found it rather unusual that this book was set in 1934; it's neither the roaring twenties nor wartime England, so I wondered what Annabel Fielding had found to write about.  Set 5 years before war breaks out in Europe, we are plunged into an England filled with secrets, lies and espionage.

This really is a tale of two characters; hardworking and honest, Hester who wears her heart on her sleeve and cold Lady Lucy whose heart is as cold as her hands.  Oh, behind closed doors she can show affection when she feels like it, but underneath I found her cold, manipulative and sneaky.  

Annabel Fielding totally and effortlessly immersed the reader in the 1930's era.  Hebden Hall  in Northumberland is struggling to keep its majestic head above water and the servants find themselves one of the luxuries the family can't afford.  I felt sometimes that Lucy probably used this to her advantage: Hester needed to keep her job so she would do anything to keep Lucy happy.  Not that Hester was forced into doing anything she didn't want to do, I just felt that she was played.  Sorry, Lucy!  Whether I was right or wrong in my early opinion of Lady Lucy, you'll just have to read the book to find out!

I find it so interesting to read historical fiction and experience the thoughts and feelings of another era.  In this day and age, we can't imagine that a mixed race or same sex couple, for example, would ever have to hide their relationship.  It's so good to see how far we have come over the years, albeit at a snail's pace, at improving understanding and acceptance.  

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

BIRTHDAY BLITZ: Jungle Rock - Caroline James


With I'm a Celebrity Get me Out of Here starting in the past few days, this is a very fitting book to tell you about.  I read and loved Jungle Rock by Caroline James last year as I'm a Celebrity ended so I am delighted to share my review again today as part in the birthday blitz.  Don't miss the fab giveaway to win a £20 Amazon voucher, simply by signing up to Caroline James' mailing list.


Romantic comedy author, Caroline James has written an entertaining novella with a Christmas feel Set in the Australian jungle, the book has been described as ‘entertaining and funny, a real feel-good read’ and fans of, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me out of Here are sure to enjoy it.

Handsome young chef Zach Docherty is feeling the heat. Following an exposé in a national newspaper, his fiancée Poppy Dunlop has broken their engagement. Heartbroken at the thought of life without Poppy, Zach drowns his sorrows and, when his agent suggests that Zach becomes a contestant in a reality TV show, Jungle Survival, he reluctantly agrees. Plunged deep in the jungle, into a bizarre mix of talent and trials, Zach meets glamour model Cleo Petra, and the cameras go crazy. 

Will Zach survive and be crowned Jungle King? Or will his latest exploits push Poppy further away...


What did I think?

I jumped at the chance of reading Jungle Rock as the latest series of I'm a Celebrity was ending and it was just the thing to feed my jungle addiction.  The only problem is that it's only a novella and I could have quite easily read a full novel about Zach's exploits in Jungle Survival.

Zach is a celebrity chef but after being caught in a compromising position with a woman who wasn't his fiancée, his engagement is called off and he heads for the Australian jungle to star in Jungle Rock.  Poppy, his ex-fiancée also jets off to America as part of the publicity team for another celebrity chef, but even in America you can catch episodes of Jungle Survival.  Zach seems like a lovely normal guy and as the real events surrounding the exposé are revealed I had my fingers crossed that it wasn't too late to win back Poppy.

For a short book there are quite a few colourful characters in it and each of them are so much larger than life that they virtually jump out of the pages.  It is testament as to how warmly it is written, that I didn't realise that the characters have appeared in previous books. So Jungle Rock can certainly be read as a standalone as I did just that and enjoyed it immensely.

You don't have to be a fan of I'm a Celebrity to enjoy Jungle Rock but for those of us who love our annual 3 week trip to the Australian outback it's a perfect feel-good read.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




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ABOUT CAROLINE JAMES

Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry – a subject that features in her novels. She is based in the UK and spends her time writing, climbing mountains and running a consultancy business. Caroline has a great fondness for the Caribbean and escapes to the islands whenever she can. She is a public speaker, reviewer and food writer and loves cooking and baking, especially cake. Her next novel, The Best Boomerville Hotel is coming soon…


Twitter: @CarolineJames12









GIVEAWAY

Win a £20 Amazon Voucher

Sign up to Caroline James’ mailing list to be entered into a draw to win a £20 Amazon voucher. Giveaway open internationally and closes 30th November 2017. Winner will be announced by Caroline via email.





Saturday, 18 November 2017

The Beast is an Animal - Peternelle van Arsdale


The Beast is an animal
You'd better lock the Gate
Or when it's dark, It comes for you
Then it will be too late

Alys was the only one to see the soul eaters when they came to her village. The others were sleeping. They never woke up...

Now, an orphan, Alys knows the full danger of the soul eaters. She's heard the nursery rhymes the chidren sing about the twin sisters who feed on souls. She's seen people disappear into the fforest and never come back. So why, then, does she find herself mysteriously drawn to the fforest? Is she what everyone around her says she is? A witch? 

Alys soon finds herself on a journey that will take her to the very heart of the fforest. There she must decide where true evil lies. And face the thing they call ...

The Beast.


What did I think?

I do believe that you are NEVER too old for fairytales, and as with all fairytales there is good and a LOT of evil in The Beast is an Animal.  Marketed as a YA book, this is definitely one that many adults will enjoy as much as I did.

I adored the setting of the scene with a farmer and his wife being blessed with twin girls, Angelica and Benedicta.  Now these twins are the mirror image of each other but they both carry the mark of the beast (a simple birthmark) so it isn't long before the farmer succumbs to the pressure of the village and casts his wife and daughters out into the fforest.  For a while he visits them but as time goes on, they are forgotten.  Left to fend for themselves, the girls return and take their vengeance on the village - eating souls of the kind of people who have harmed them.  Only little Alys, who struggles to sleep, saw the girls and she is so unafraid of them that Angelica and Benedicta leave her unharmed.  The Beast is an Animal is Alys' tale of how she survived and her fight against the thing they call....The Beast.

I have Welsh ancestors so I loved the Welsh setting of The Beast is an Animal, and the story flowed as effortlessly as a babbling brook through the Welsh valleys.  I was completely sucked into the story and felt both sorry for Angelica and Benedicta as well as mightily scared of them.  They have such power - they can eat your very soul and I, for one, didn't want to come across them on a darkened night.

I completely underrated Alys' strength at first.  She is a young child left orphaned but, against the odds, she survives.  She goes from strength to strength and like any heroine, I really rooted for her as The Beast continued to cast its shadow over her life.

Don't be fooled by the YA label, this is a dark and scary tale for all ages.  It's so imaginative,  dark and dreamlike that you will find it hard to put down.  You WILL enjoy this or The Beast will come for you!

My rating:




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Friday, 17 November 2017

BLOG TOUR: Lay Me To Rest - E.A. Clark


I am delighted to be taking part in the Lay Me to Rest blog tour, many thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me to release my review for the tour.


Some secrets never stay buried for long…

Devastated by the death of her husband, Annie Philips is shocked to discover she is pregnant with his unborn child. Hoping for a fresh start, she travels to a remote stone cottage in Anglesey, amidst the white-capped mountains of North Wales.

She settles in quickly, helped by her mysterious new neighbour, Peter. But everything changes when Annie discovers a small wooden box, inlaid with brass and mother-of-pearl. A box she was never supposed to find…

Annie soon realises that she isn’t alone in the cottage. And now she’s trapped. Can she escape the nightmare that she has awoken, or will the dark forces surrounding the house claim her life – and that of her baby?

A gripping thriller from E. A. Clark, perfect for fans of Kerri Wilkinson, Sarah Wray and Stella Duffy. You won’t be able to put it down!


What did I think?
Annie deserves a break after the devastating death of her husband, Graham.  His death has hit Annie particularly hard when she is faced with the sobering reality that she put her work before her marriage.  Nothing will ever bring Graham back, but Annie has a chance at redemption when she finds out that she is pregnant.  Her sister's friend offers her his cottage in Wales and Annie jumps at the chance but her relaxing break turns into anything but relaxing.

Annie finds that she's not alone in the cottage when she is woken from her slumber by the ghostly whisperings of a spirit called Ani.  Ani doesn't want to share her house with anybody and, naturally spooked, Annie calls for help.  The local vicar and his wife help Annie to understand why this spirit is reaching out to her.  Only by uncovering a terrible crime and long buried secrets, can Ani finally be laid to rest.

This was quite a creepy book and I was scared at times with Annie being pregnant and vulnerable; I didn't know how far these malevolent spirits would go.  Annie hadn't encountered anything like this before but it would appear that she has opened the floodgates and soon encounters more spirits when she goes back home.  There are a few tantalising loose ends scattered around at the end of the book that left me eager to read more of Annie's story so I am desperately hoping that there's a sequel to Lay Me To Rest.

A thriller with a paranormal edge, Lay Me To Rest is fast-paced, gripping and utterly compelling.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




Buy it from Amazon




About E. A. Clark

E. A. Clark lives in the Midlands with her husband and son, plus a rather temperamental cat, a rabbit and a chinchilla. She has three (now grown-up) children and five grandchildren. She is particularly partial to Italian food, decent red wine (or any coloured wine come to that …) and cake – and has been known to over-indulge in each on occasions.

She has a penchant for visiting old graveyards and speculating on the demise of those entombed beneath. Whilst she has written short stories and poetry for many years, a lifelong fascination with all things paranormal has culminated in her first novel for adults, Lay Me to Rest. The setting is inspired by her love of Wales, owing to her father’s Celtic roots.



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Thursday, 16 November 2017

House of Sand - Michael J Sanford


I want to watch you burn.

Consumed by hate, I've done the unthinkable. And it's turned me into a hero. Now, I must decide how far I'll go to keep my secret safe.

I won't let you know the truth.

But the sounds that echo in my head...

...are only growing louder.

Attempted murder gives a man his family back. It's everything he's ever wanted, but he can't forget what he did. And the longer he holds the secret, the more control he loses to the darkness whispering in his ear. It craves violence and can't be silenced forever. The line between truth and lies is disappearing. And with it, the difference between right and wrong.


What did I think?

I had to get my head together before writing a review on this book.  I felt as if my brain was being shaken up in a snowglobe; a couple of things disturbed me but I couldn't see clearly for all the snow until it all settled.  Confused?  Pretty much how I felt for most of the book but yet I still couldn't put it down. 

We are introduced to a clearly unhinged man in House of Sand, he's currently unemployed and it's putting quite a strain on his marriage.  He is totally besotted with his 8 year old daughter, Aza, who is VERY advanced for her years.  If we weren't told that she was 8 years old, you could be mistaken for putting her in her mid to late teens with all her mood swings and swearing.  So that his wife, Joy, won't leave him taking his beloved Aza with her, he agrees to attend an interview that Joy has arranged but he has a total meltdown in the waiting room and runs out of the building.

As if things couldn't get any crazier, our main character goes and sets fire to his house then runs into the burning building like a hero.  The family see it as a new beginning but the strain of hiding the truth about the origins of the fire cause him to unravel like a roll of toilet paper pursued by an Andrex puppy.  When all that is left is the empty cardboard core, we finally see him for who he really is.

Now I really thought I'd missed something when I didn't know the name of the main character; I found myself flicking back over a few pages now and again to see if I had somehow missed it.  So along with an 8 year old acting like a teenager, this lack of name disturbed me but if you remember the snowglobe analogy I mentioned earlier, it does all become clear at the end and looking back now, I think it was actually pretty genius.  

House of Sand feels like madness personified; nothing is what it seems and I think I read most of the book with permanently surprised raised eyebrows!  It didn't turn out at all as I imagined, which can only ever be a good thing - it really is very dark, shocking and surprising.  I think it's one of those books I need to read again to pick up on the clever little nuances that I completely missed the first time round.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

BLOG TOUR: Dark Chaper - Winnie M Li


An astonishing and unique novel inspired by the author’s own story.

Vivian is a cosmopolitan Taiwanese-American tourist who often escapes her busy life in London through adventure and travel.

Johnny is a 15-year-old Irish teenager, living a neglected life on the margins of society.

On a bright spring afternoon in West Belfast, their paths collide during a horrifying act of violence.

In the aftermath, each is forced to confront the chain of events that led to the attack.

Inspired by true events, this is a story of the dark chapters and chance encounters that can irrevocably determine the shape of our lives.

What did I think?

If I could only write one sentence about this book it would be: Dark Chapter is a disturbing and compelling book but quite simply STUNNING!  I could no more tear my eyes from the page than I could forget to breathe.  As difficult as it was to read at times, it was quite impossible to stop reading.

Vivian has come to Belfast to see the sights, but gets more than she bargained for when she is raped; shocked and stunned, she reports the crime but as much courage as that took, she needs to call on greater strength to see it through.  Seeing the crime from both sides is shocking and surprising and I can't even begin to imagine what Winnie M Li has been through in order to call upon such emotions.

The Prologue of Dark Chapter sets the pace, where I felt sick with fear and my heart raced with the increasing tension as we hurtled towards the inevitable conclusion.  Although there are no chapters, which usually would annoy me, but in this case I barely blinked, I raced through the 5 parts of the book: part 1 the time leading up to the event, part 2 the aftermath, part 3 the arrest of Johnny, part 4 the trial and part 5 new beginnings.  What I found amazing, was that I didn't feel sorry for Vivian, I felt every emotion with her.  I felt as if the crime had been committed against my very own person and I was as MAD as hell.

Dark Chapter deserves every accolade that is coming its way, and I'm sure there will be many.  To write a book filled with such emotion showing both sides of a story is nothing short of exceptional.  As such abuse seems to be in the news recently, this is a book that is both very current and also very timeless.  Seeing the story from both sides is both mesmerising and jawdropping, making Dark Chapter an absolutely stunning work of fiction, with a disturbing ring of truth.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:




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