Monday 15 July 2024

BLOG TOUR: The Virtue Season - L.M. Nathan

The world didn't end all at once but drip by drip...

Manon Pawlak has just turned eighteen, a debutant at the start of the Virtue Season: a process that will result in a match with a suitable genetic mate. Her best friend, Agatha, has been decommissioned, forbidden to partake in the season and unite with the boy who has had her heart since they were children.

When Manon's mother wades out into the waters of Penn Vale with stones sewn into the lining of her coat, Manon's genetic purity is called into question and she's forced to rely on the fisherman's son, Wick, to keep her secret. But as they dance, the truth about their world starts to unravel, and Manon finds herself at the centre of it all. And the council is watching.

What did I think?

The Virtue Season is an incredibly thought-provoking and highly entertaining YA novel that challenges the concept of perfection.  Only those without flaws will be matched with a mate to ensure the purest bloodlines will prosper.  

Manon and her friend Agatha are coming of age and will partake in the Virtue Season unless any flaws are found.  Agatha takes a fit that sees her decommissioned and Manon has to bury a family secret to ensure she is matched.  I can feel my blood boiling just thinking about these so called flaws and I think that's exactly the point that L.M. Nathan is trying to make.  We are all flawed!

There's a lot going on in the book to keep the reader entertained with plot lines of family secrets, forbidden love and rebellion.  It has hints of The Handmaid's Tale and The Hunger Games to provoke debate and it would be a great book club book.  I'd like to see it made into a film as there are some incredible scenes painted by L.M. Nathan's vivid writing.

Powerful, thought-provoking and entertaining, The Virtue Season is a dystopian YA novel than both teens and adults will enjoy.  It's well worth a read.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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About the author:
L.M. Nathan grew up in the East Midlands, flitting from there to Bristol where she studied English and Drama and then to Malta where she completed an MA in Literature. She also has an MA in Journalism which she studied for in Manchester. She now lives in rural Lancashire in the shadow of Pendle Hill. The Virtue Season is her debut YA.

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Sunday 14 July 2024

The Croaking Raven: 1 (The Shakespeare Murders) - Guy Hale

Stratford-upon-Avon, May 1972

DC Toby Marlowe has just landed his dream posting but the quiet streets of Shakespeare's Stratford are about to suffer a reign of terror. A name from the past has returned, intent on revenge.

A series of murders go unsolved but Toby realises that the killer seems to be following the plot of Hamlet.

Can Toby and his boss, DS Fred Williams, find the killer before all the actors at the RSC are dead? The Croaking Raven doth bellow for revenge.


What did I think?

Guy Hale may well have come up with the most ingenious plot for a book!  The Croaking Raven is absolutely brilliant and although I'm not overly familiar with Shakespeare's plays, I loved spotting the clues that our clever killer has left behind.

If DC Toby Marlowe hadn't transferred to Stratford, I think the police (DS Fred Williams in particular) would have been beating up a lot of suspects and getting lots of fake confessions while the body count continued to rise.  Toby very astutely notices that the clues relate to Hamlet so the police just need to read the play to predict where the killer will next strike.  This killer is very clever though and is intent on revenge.

I loved everything about this book: the ingenious plot, the 1970s setting, the engaging and compelling writing and the wonderfully well-developed characters.  I think anyone who has read Shakespeare will pick up lots of references to the Bard's plays but even if you're only vaguely familiar with Shakespeare (like me), it's still a hugely enjoyable novel.

It's also interesting to take a step back into the past and see how different is it to today.  It doesn't seem that long ago (for me, anyway) but it's quite shocking to think how discriminatory people were.  Whilst we may have made leaps and bounds in tolerance, I think we've taken a step back in humanitarianism with our ability to wound others through thoughtless comments on social media.
Incredibly clever and surprisingly witty, The Croaking Raven is an exciting start to a new and highly unusual series.  Very highly recommended.

I received an ARC to read and review for the Love Books Tours readalong and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Thursday 11 July 2024

BLOG TOUR: One Summer - Taylor Cole

Two people. Two pasts. One summer to fall in love.

Caleb is a former professional surfer trying to build his life after a career-ending accident.

Lindy has moved to Loor island to start a new life, combing the shores for sea glass to weave into jewellery.

When the two meet, sparks fly – but not the good kind. Then they discover they’re neighbours, and they’re stuck with each other for one, long summer.

As they slowly learn to trust each other, and find themselves sharing their stories that brought them to Loor, their dislike begins to unravel into friendship, then maybe something more.

But will the weight of their pasts ruin their chance of a future?

What did I think?

One Summer is a Cornish novel with a difference: it's set on the fictional island of Loor.  I actually thought this was a real place but I was getting mixed up with Looe.  The characters feel very real too and I loved all of them, both human and animal.

Lindy is really bad at her publishing job in London, she's just so easily distracted and it's made worse when she breaks up with her boyfriend Max.  As if her heart wasn't broken enough, she torments herself by watching Max's mudlarking videos that now feature his new girlfriend.  I mean, we've all done it...a bit of online stalking is harmless but Lindy is OBSESSED!!

So, when a pet sitting job comes up in Cornwall she decides a fresh start is a good idea...but she still watches those blooming videos!  Although Loor island is predominantly made up of old and very old islanders, there are a couple of hot guys to show Lindy that there are plenty more fish in the sea.

I really enjoyed watching Lindy and Caleb's relationship grow but I have to say that it was little dog Ted who captured my heart.  Taylor Cole paints Ted so vividly that it makes me smile just thinking of him now.  I would have liked Nemo, Max's Maine Coon cat, to feature a bit more but I loved how Lindy rescued him when Max cruelly abandoned him.  I did worry that she was doing it to keep a link to Max though as Nemo doesn't seem that fond of her...but that's cats!

Rather like the waves lapping the shore, One Summer has a relaxed, gentle pacing that ebbs and flows like the tide but like any island, the wind can blow in a storm at any moment.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

About the author:
Taylor Cole grew up on a council estate in Devon and is of Armenian heritage, via her maternal grandmother who survived the Armenian genocide as a child refugee. When she was twenty-one, Taylor left university to run away to Cyprus and live in a men's barrack block with her military boyfriend, but returned the next year to finish her BA in English, which she followed with a master's degree in Creative Writing. She lives in Newquay with the military boyfriend-turned-husband, two daughters and an eighty-year-old tortoise called Shelley who was found wandering the streets of Plymouth in 1958.

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Saturday 6 July 2024

BLOG TOUR: Thank You, Next - Kathryn Freeman

I'm delighted to be taking part in the Rachel's Random Resources blog tour for Thank You, Next by Kathryn Freeman.  Scroll down to find out more about the book, read my review and win a paperback copy in the fabulous giveaway.

In this game of hearts, the stakes have never been higher…

Molly Harris is used to being left. Parents, boyfriends – she’s the queen of rejection. Her latest boyfriend, gym-fanatic Duncan, dumps her to go on reality dating show The One which sets up hot singletons to date for four weeks before meeting at the altar to say, ‘I do’.

But Duncan was the one who picked Molly up and put her back together the last time her heart got broken, so, determined not to let ‘The One’ get away, she follows Duncan onto the show. If she can prove that they’re meant to be, she might just get the happily ever after of her dreams…

But on the first day of filming, another reminder of her painful history walks into Happily Ever After Towers: Ben Knight, her it’s-not-you-it’s-me heartbreaker. The one she loved before Duncan.

In four weeks’ time, who will she meet at the altar? Duncan, the first person who ever made her feel loved, or Ben, the first person who made her feel?

What did I think?

If you follow my blog, you will know that I love Kathryn Freeman books and her latest novel, Thank You, Next is fun, flirty and a little bit racy.  It certainly had me blushing at times!

Molly loves watching reality dating show The One with her boyfriend Duncan and the romance on TV has Duncan hinting at marriage and children.  So, Molly is shocked when Duncan decides to join the show 'to gain more followers' or so he says.  Well, two can play at that game and Molly joins the show too.  Molly is sure that she will be matched with Duncan anyway and she starts dreaming of her wedding...until she is matched with her ex Ben.

Oooh I loved Ben even though he tries to keep Molly at arms length the attraction virtually sizzles off the page.  Ben doesn't have any desire to get married though and that's something that Molly really wants, due to being abandoned in her past by her parents and Ben himself.  Is Duncan 'the one' for Molly or should she give Ben another shot?

This is a really fun read and I really enjoyed following the couples on the dating show.  I was worried that Molly would get her heart broken again, either by Ben or Duncan, as Ben has a past he has yet to reveal and Duncan loves himself so much that he has no love left to give anybody else.  Who will be standing at the altar and what will happen next?  I couldn't read fast enough to find out!

Hugely entertaining, pulse-racing and very enjoyable, Thank You, Next is classic Kathryn Freeman and I absolutely loved it.

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Amazon US

About the author:

A former pharmacist, Kathryn now writes romantic comedies. Feel good books that are sexy and sweet, funny yet heart-warming. Mr Right Across the Street won the RNA Award for Romantic Comedy in 2022. 

With a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), the romance in her own life is all in her head. Then again, his unstinting support of her career change proves love isn't always about hearts and flowers - and heroes come in many disguises.

Social Media Links – 

Win a Paperback copy of Thank You, Next (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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Friday 5 July 2024

BLOG TOUR: New Beginnings at the Cosy Cat Cafe - Julie Haworth

New Beginnings at The Cosy Cat Café tells the story of Tori who, after being dumped and left stranded by her long-term boyfriend Ryan on a trip of a lifetime to Asia, returns home to the sleepy Sussex village of Blossom Heath with her tail between her legs and her dreams shattered. Donning her frilly apron to help her Mum, Joyce, behind the counter at The Cosy Cup Café, Tori starts to believe – with the help of a hunky fireman and a clowder of rescue cats - that perhaps the secret to her future happiness might lie closer to home than she ever thought possible.
If you love your romance with a side order of cake, cats and cosy community dynamics, this is the purrfect uplifting, feel-good read from the winner of the RNA Katie Fforde Debut Novel of the Year 2023.

What did I think?

This gorgeous novel is the purrfect pick-me-up that warmed my heart and uplifted my spirits.  It's a fabulous book in its own right and can be read and enjoyed as a standalone but it's even better if you've visited Blossom Heath before in Julie Haworth's delightful debut novel, Always By Your Side.  It was so lovely to see some of the characters I'd met before and it felt like catching up with old friends.

New Beginnings at The Cosy Cat Café is Tori's story and it's not going quite how she planned.  I was so upset (and mad) for her when her boyfriend Ryan decided he 'wasn't a relationship guy'...perhaps he should have mentioned that a tiny bit earlier during the four years of their relationship.  What a snake!

Tori returns home to Blossom Heath to help her mum in her cafe and her visit to Asia inspires her to change the cafe into a cat cafe.  With the help of the wonderful community, Tori's dreams are sure to become a reality and maybe the man she's really supposed to spend her life with is just around the corner.

There's a lot going on in the book to keep the reader interested and entertained from start to finish.  I think I read it far too fast, devouring every word as if it was the last book I'd ever read, so I do plan to read it again when I next fancy a trip to Blossom Heath.

Uplifting, heartwarming and simply delightful, New Beginnings at The Cosy Cat Café is a real gem of a book and it is one I will treasure.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Monday 1 July 2024

Cat Society - Ray Sadri

Cat Society is a witty and bonkers story of life and politics in Westminster – reimagining the debates, events and headlines of recent years had the world been run by cats. A lot changes. A lot doesn’t.

The country is on the brink of bankruptcy, and backbencher Douglas Schnitty is disappointed with the thousands of homeless cats sleeping by the bins. He gets frustrated with higher powers who only seem to care about their own interests and preserving the country’s finances.

He schmoozes and sabotages his way through the political elite, from assisting the bombastic Hector Perp Pahpousson to disrupting the plans of the Prime Minister. Can his conscience save him, and the slum cats, as events spiral out of control?


The Westminster Cats are here! And if you like cats and politics with a dose of humour, this comic novel is for you. Check out the reviews:

“I’m sure most cat owners have looked over at their sometimes mysterious, scheming-looking furry friend and at some point quietly wondered whether they’re planning on taking over the world. This “claws out” paw-litical drama takes that idea and runs with it. From how the Government spends its British Mews and interacts with journalists at The Meowington Times, to its rocky relationship with the Global Cats Alliance, it’s a hilarious and somewhat realistic insight into what life could look like if our beloved felines did take the reins.”

What did I think?

With the way that people pander to their dogs, I've always said that dogs will be our overlords one day, but maybe it's the cats that are biding their time.  In this hugely entertaining and ingenious novel, Ray Sadri imagines what would happen if the cats were in charge.

You would think it was all highly imaginative fiction but, rather embarrassingly for us Brits, the plot is inspired by some true stories.  Who could ever forget Labour's plans to pledge £300,000 to pay 10,000 new police officers a salary of £30 per annum?  I'm not a great fan of politics but I love the way that Ray Sadri has taken some real events and made them more entertaining by amplifying, or perhaps just highlighting, the absolutely craziness of our politicians.

While the country is overrun with homeless cats, politicians feast on fountains of cream, sleep for 18 hours a day and love their gold décor as much as Donald Trump.  The backbenchers are crying out for the Prime Minister to take action but she has a lot on her plate with backstabbing and treachery afoot, as well as an underhand plan to topple the PM and take Britain out of the Global Cats Alliance.

Amusing, entertaining and very insightful, Cat Society is a tongue-in-cheek look at politics over the last few years and I'm not sure whether the book or the true story is more bonkers.

Many thanks to the author for sending me a copy to read and review; and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Friday 28 June 2024

BLOG TOUR: The Stand-Up Mam - Kay Wilson

Georgie Chancellor has worked hard to have a perfect life, and it is, on the outside. She has a beautiful home, successful husband and two wonderful children. Everything she dreamed about as a girl is hers. Not that she ever thinks about her past, anymore.

But when her family enters her into a stand-up comedy competition. Georgie finds on stage, only the truth will do.

Encouraged by Jaz, her handsome mentor, she riffs about her family and what life is really like behind the facade. Audiences love it, and Georgie's star begins to rise.

Will stand-up success destroy everything she has created?

What did I think?

As soon as I saw 'Mam' in the title, I knew I had to read The Stand-Up Mam to support a local author.  Kay Wilson's debut novel is fabulous and a lot darker than you'd expect from the title, but it's filled with heart and north-east wit.

Georgie Chancellor feels invisible; she's like a house-slave for her family, preparing meals and doing laundry without a word of thanks or appreciation.  It's quite a surprise when her family enter her into a stand-up comedy competition and I don't think they expected her to do so well and the joke is on them when it takes her out of the home and into the comedy clubs.

It's cathartic for Georgie to vent her frustration on stage, with her family life providing most of her material.  Finally, somebody is listening to her and she can reveal her dark heart in all its nasty glory.  As the competition progresses, so does the drama in Georgie's life and she has even more to talk about on stage.  Her family are so self-centred and disinterested in what's going on with Georgie, other than how it affects them, so they have no idea what Georgie talks about on stage.

I loved seeing Georgie's confidence grow throughout the book and I was torn between thinking she should be honest with her family and thinking that it serves them right for taking her for granted.  Set in comedy clubs, there is obviously a sprinkling of humour but there's a whole lot of drama when Georgie rencounters a face from her past.

Powerful, inspirational and very entertaining, The Stand-Up Mam not only encourages you to follow your dreams but also to tell someone you appreciate them.  I loved it and would definitely recommend giving it a read.

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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About the author:
Kay Wilson lives in South Tyneside. Her novel features many of her own experiences of stand-up comedy - a bucket list ambition she achieved after surviving a near-fatal brain haemorrhage.

She has worked in PR for 30 years and won the New Writing North/Journal Flash Fiction competition. She has had short stories published in various anthologies.

"I would love my book to empower women to make each day the best it can be for them and, it might sound trite, to challenge themselves and follow their dreams."

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