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Spoon Shortage Book Club

As some of you will know, I am involved with a Facebook book club for people who suffer from chronic illnesses, the Spoon Shortage Book Club. Through the book club and our sister groups and pages on Facebook, we try to bring chronic illness sufferers together to chat, have a laugh, and make friends, and generally feel a little less isolated than they sometimes do. As a chronic illness sufferer myself, I know just how important my online friends have become to me, and I feel proud to be a part of a thriving community filled with people who I would never have “met” otherwise.

Starting tomorrow and for all of December, we are running a festive photo challenge, and would love for as many people as possible to get involved, either in the group itself, or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and any other social media platforms that are out there (I am sure I am well and truly out of touch with more than a few of them!). Please spread the word and get involved if you would like to. Remember to include #spoonshortagebookclub on any posts so that we can see what everyone is getting up to!

Here are the themes for each day!

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Guest Posts

My Favourite Places – Paul Ian Cross

I am thrilled to have a guest post from Paul Ian Cross to share with you today. Thank you so much Paul for taking the time to tell us all about your favourite places.

Paul Ian Cross

Thank you for inviting me onto you blog! After I finished university I went straight into work. I really regretted not taking some time out to travel, so now I’m making up for it! My partner Adrian and I have travelled a lot in the last five years and we have been to some amazing places. We’ve been to Scotland (especially the Isle of Skye), Spain, Canada, Greece, The Philippines, New York, Ireland and Japan. I loved Japan, especially Tokyo. We arrived in the city, then travelled around the country for a few weeks but returned to Tokyo early so we could spend more time there. It’s such an incredible city! We were worried it would be a little overwhelming, but we were surprised to discover lots of relatively quiet and relaxing areas amongst the metropolis. Pretty cool for a city of that size. My favourite place in Tokyo was Asakusa.

Asakusa Japan
Asakusa, Japan

We are currently away on a long-term trip as I write. We took two months off to visit Los Angeles, French Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia and the Cook Islands. I was able to finish my novel while I was away (mainly working on the final edits) and it has been an inspiring time to work. In fact, we travelled around so much during the last few weeks of edits that we moved through space (places) and time (several time zones – including moving across the international date line). I think moving through space and time was the perfect end to completing a book about space-time travel!

During our current trip, I have loved so many places but French Polynesia and New Zealand really stood out to me. New Zealand has so many different landscapes from mountains and rivers to wonderful coasts and volcanic landscapes with geysers and sulphur lakes! We also did a helicopter trip above the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers which was amazing.

Rotorua New Zealand
Rotorua, New Zealand
Fox Glacier New Zealand
Me on a mountain near Fox Glacier, New Zealand

As I write I am sitting on an island called Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. It’s an ‘almost atoll’ and we can see the sea from our veranda, but the area in front of our cottage is a lagoon. We’ve been watching fish jump around during sunset and it has been incredibly relaxing.

Aitutaki Lagoon Cook Islands
Our current view – Aitutaki Lagoon, the Cook Islands

In French Polynesia, we visited an island near Tahiti called Mo’orea which was teeming with wildlife. We swam with stingrays and reef sharks before we received news that a humpback whale was singing in the bay near us. We quickly returned to the boat and moved to the area. The lead biologist running the tour told us to get into the water fast, so we did. I placed my head under the water and my ears popped. I thought how strange and tried again. It then dawned on me… the pressure in my ears was whale song. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Not only could you hear the whale song, but you could feel the sound waves reverberate through your body. At one point, I felt a roar of sound through me and it turned out the whale had passed right underneath us. This experience was definitely my number one. I’ve always had a love for whales and this has only enhanced my love for these incredible animals!

My passion for travel has also influenced my writing and some of the places I’ve visited have made it into my story – as Engella, the main protagonist, travels through time and space during her adventures. You can see the photographs from my previous and current trips (some of which have made it into the novel) on Instagram. My handle is @pauliancross.author.

Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog and I hope you enjoy reading The Lights of Time! It won’t be long before Engella’s journey continues. Perhaps she’ll make it to French Polynesia in the next book! 😊

Paul’s book, The Lights of Time can be purchased through the links below. Head over to the book review section of my blog to read my thoughts on the book.

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

Book Review

The Lights of Time – Paul Ian Cross

Come with me today on a wonderful journey across space and time with The Lights of Time by Paul Ian Cross. Make sure you read right the way to the bottom for an amazing giveaway (UK only I’m afraid folks).

BLURB:

Engella Rhys is alone, adrift and on the run. Pursued by a secret agency, known only as the Hunters, she must stay ahead to stay alive.

As she travels through space-time using dangerously experimental technology, she only has one wish: to be reunited with her lost parents. After a close shave with a Hunter on the streets of New Shanghai, Engella escapes to find herself on a deserted beach. When she meets a kind stranger, who offers her food and shelter, Engella feels safe and protected for the first time in years.

But who is this woman? And why did their paths cross at the most convenient of times?

Engella soon discovers their lives are intertwined in more ways than she could ever imagine.

The Lights of Time - eBook cover - High Res

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

Paul Ian Cross certainly doesn’t mess about with the start of this book, as you are thrown straight into the action as Engella struggles to escape her would be captors. The Lights of Time is an adrenalin-filled race through time and space, with Engella’s travels spanning over 100 years (and beyond), and taking her to places as far apart as Skye and New Zealand.

Time travel books and films frequently baffle me, but in The Lights of Time, Paul Ian Cross explains the quirks (or indeed in this case quarks) simply and effectively, without blinding my extremely non-scientific brain with overly complicated facts and figures.

Throughout the book, I loved the descriptions of all the places that Engella visited. I particularly enjoyed reading about New Shanghai, and found that I could really picture what it looked like. The Yixing Forest sounded so beautiful, and it really felt like I was there with Engella. The little cottage on Skye felt so real and welcoming, that reading about it was like coming home. I have always wanted to visit Skye, and now that urge is stronger than ever.

Each of the characters is endearing in their own way, and the way their lives all intermingled was fascinating – this book must have taken some serious plotting to keep straight who had been where and when! I was intrigued by the Hunters, Tala and Lera, and wonder what made them into the people that they are. I do hope we get to find out more about them next time around.

It feels as though there is a lot still to discover about Engella’s life and the effects that her multiple shifts have on her. I look forward to seeing where her adventures take her next.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Paul Ian Cross

Paul Ian Cross is a multi-award-winning children’s author and scientist from London, UK.

Paul works in clinical research (developing new medicines) and he’s also involved in science communication; presenting science to non-scientists. He enjoys his science career but he also has a real passion for writing stories! He likes introducing children to the wonders of science, especially reluctant readers. By introducing science creatively, he aims to spark their interest; allowing them to gain confidence with their reading. As a previous reluctant reader himself, he understands how hard it can be. But it’s all about making reading fun and interesting!

Paul’s nephew Hayden influenced his decision to become a writer. He loved seeing Hayden’s reaction when his sister Michelle first read one of Paul’s stories to him!

In his spare time, Paul likes to visit new and exciting places. One of his favourite places is Scotland, especially the Isle of Skye.

Paul’s debut picture book, Praxx and the Ringing Robot, won second prize in the ‘Picture Books 5 and Younger’ category at the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards 2017. The book trailer also won first place in the ‘book trailer’ category at the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards later that year.

Paul’s second book, Planet Scrabbage and the Vegerons, won an honourable mention in both the ‘Picture Books 6 and Over’ and ‘Health’ categories at the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards 2018.

And that brings us to now… Paul is currently working on several new books. Paul’s debut upper middle grade novel will be published in 2018. The Lights of Time is the first novel in a brand-new series: The Chronicles of Engella Rhys.

Paul hopes you enjoy reading his stories as much as he enjoyed writing them!

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

YouTube

Twitter

GIVEAWAY:

The Lights of Time - Giveaway

Win  a Kindle HD Fire 7” and a signed copy of The Lights of Time (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link 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/33c69494168/

Many thanks to Paul, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour, and for providing me with my copy of the book. Make sure you stop by the other blogs taking part in the tour.

The Lights of Time Full Tour Banner

Book Review

The Raven Tower – Emma Miles

Boy, do I have a treat for you all today with the latest offering from the wonderful Emma Miles.

BLURB:

What price will Kesta and the fire-walkers have to pay to keep their people from enslavement? The raids were more ferocious, more desperate and much earlier in the year. When Kesta sees in the flame who is really behind the attacks the Independent islands of the Fulmers seem doomed to fall. Their only hope is to cross the sea to seek the help of the King of Elden and his sorcerer, the Dark Man.

The Raven Tower Front Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon.com

Amazon UK

REVIEW:

One of the downsides about being lucky enough to get your hands on books to review before they are released is that occasionally a book comes along that you are desperate to discuss with a friend who has also read it, but of course, you can’t, because none of your friends have read it yet. The Raven Tower is one such book. Once I started reading, I just devoured it! Fortunately, I happened to open it up when I had the house to myself, because to be perfectly frank, I don’t think people would have got a lot of sense out of me while I was reading it – plenty of dirty looks if they dared to interrupt me, but not an awful lot else.

Having previously read another of Emma’s books, Hall of Pillars, I was reasonably confident that I would enjoy The Raven Tower, but it went so much further than that. It just had everything I want from a fantasy novel – foreign lands, ancient magic, and of course a mysterious but irresistible man to swoon over.

As I read, I found that parts of the book put me in mind of C.S. Lewis’s Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (to my mind, the two best books from Narnia), although I must confess, I can’t quite put my finger on what it was. Maybe the oppression of magic in some, and the ability to communicate with animals in others, or maybe just the wonderful descriptions of the different landscapes encountered by the various characters. Whatever it was, this book gave me the warm feeling of returning to my reading roots.

There are so many things from The Raven Tower that I could tell you I loved, but honestly we would be here all day! There are just a couple though that I have to mention. Firstly, I was thrilled to see that for Kesta’s people, at least, women are equally as strong as the men, and in some cases even more powerful and important. As much as they might like to have a man around, they certainly don’t need one to save the day for them. Secondly, although I loved every character that we met and got to know, I wanted to tell you the names of my favourites – Merkis Tantony and Azra. That’s all I am saying on the matter, but pick up a copy of the book and I am sure you will see why.

A part of me feels that I should counter some of this gushing praise with some of the areas of the book that I liked less, but honestly, I can’t think of any. The only negative I can come up with is that there isn’t already a sequel for me to read! Hurry up Emma! Please write me a sequel because I have to know what happens next!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Raven Tower 0332lr (1 of 1)

I presently live in the stunning county of Dorset where I’m a cat slave to Wolfe and Piglitt I spend as much time as I can outside in nature and love exploring and learning about new cultures and languages. I’ve visited Greece, Serbia, Transylvania, Sicily and Norway as well as making several road trips around our beautiful United Kingdom. I paint, sculpt, dabble in photography and do a little archery but most of all – whenever I get a chance – I write.
My writing started from a very young age when I often found myself being the one taking charge of and entertaining all my younger cousins. They loved to hear my stories and although they mostly called for ghost stories it was fantasy I fell in love with when I read The Lord of the Rings when I was ten. I went on to write stories and short ‘books’ for my friends through school and college; then one evening whilst I was waiting for my aunt and uncle to visit an image came to my mind of a boy sitting beneath a bridge. I didn’t know who he was or why he was there, but from exploring those questions ‘The Wind’s Children’ trilogy blossomed and grew with roots going back into his far history as well as stretching out to his future. The boy’s name was Tobias.

I have since left Tobias’s world of ‘Naris’ to explore the Valley with Feather in the ‘Hall of Pillars’ which is now available through Amazon. I am now presently finding my way through Elden, the beautiful Fulmer islands, the ravaged Borrows and haunted Chem with Kesta Silene; a shamaness of sorts with a big journey ahead of her. I hope you come along to share her story and join her adventure; she needs you and you won’t regret it.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook

Twitter

GIVEAWAY:

Win 5 x Paperback copies of The Raven Tower (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link 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/33c69494164/

Many thanks to Emma, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for providing my copy of the book. Why not stop by the other blogs taking part to find out more about this fab book?

The Raven Tower Full Tour Banner

Book Review

The Merest Loss -Steven Neil

Travel back in time with me today, as we take a look at Steven Neil’s The Merest Loss.

BLURB:

A story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English
hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris.

When Harriet Howard becomes Louis Napoleon’s mistress and financial backer and appears at his side in Paris in 1848, it is as if she has emerged from nowhere. How did the English daughter of a Norfolk boot-maker meet the future Emperor? Who is the mysterious Nicholas Sly and what is his hold over Harriet?

Can Harriet meet her obligations and return to her former life and the man she left behind? What is her involvement with British Government secret services? Can Harriet’s friend, jockey Tom Olliver, help her son Martin solve his own mystery: the identity of his father?

The central character is Harriet Howard and the action takes place between 1836 and 1873. The plot centres on Harriet’s relationships with Louis Napoleon and famous Grand National winning jockey, Jem Mason. The backdrop to the action includes significant characters from the age, including Lord Palmerston, Queen Victoria and the Duke of Grafton, as well as Emperor Napoleon III. The worlds of horse racing, hunting and government provide the scope for rural settings to contrast with the city scenes of London and Paris and for racing skulduggery to vie with political chicanery.

The Merest Loss is historical fiction with a twist. It’s pacy and exciting with captivating characters and a distinctive narrative voice.

The MerestEbook-1

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

Independent Author Network

REVIEW:

The Merest Loss is a book to be enjoyed by fans of historic fiction and historians alike, finding, as it does, a delicate balance between the facts of a tempestuous period of European history and a fictionalised account of the life of one of the women caught up in the political negotiations of the time.

Reading at times a little more like a history book than a novel (albeit a far more interesting history book than any I read at school), the facts behind The Merest Loss are interspersed with splashes of colour as we get to know Harriet and the largely male characters with which she was surrounded.

Harriet is a character that I couldn’t help but be drawn to. I loved her wild nature and determination to be heard at a time when this was not encouraged in well brought up young ladies. I also found myself growing rather fond of the steeplechasing double act of Tom Olliver and Jem Mason, and I really enjoyed the chapters told from Tom’s point of view looking back over the years in which he knew Harriet. For me these chapters added a depth of humanity to the whole book.

Whilst everyone is familiar with Napoleon Bonaparte, I must confess that I knew little about his nephew Napoleon III, and so found this a fascinating lesson in European history.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Merest Loss - Author Profile Pic shutterstock_1485118

Steven Neil has a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics, a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the Open University and an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University. In his working life he has been a bookmaker’s clerk, management tutor, management consultant, bloodstock agent and racehorse breeder. He is married and lives in rural Northamptonshire.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook

Twitter

Many thanks to Steven and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this tour and for providing my copy of the book. Make sure you have a look at the other blogs taking part.

The Merest Loss Full Tour Banner

Book Review

A Little Christmas Charm – Kathryn Freeman

With the festive period fast approaching, I have another Christmas book for everyone to enjoy today, A Little Christmas Charm by Kathryn Freeman.

BLURB:

Would you swap sea and sunshine for tinsel and turkey?

Gabby Sanderson is used to being let down – even at Christmas. Which is why she’s happy to skip the festive season completely in favour of a plane ticket and sunnier climes.

But this Christmas could be different, because this time she might not be spending it alone. Can Owen Cooper charm Gabby into loving Christmas in the same way he’s charmed his way into her life, or is he just another person who’ll end up disappointing her?

A LITTLE CHRISTMAS CHARM_FRONT2_RGB150dpi

PURCHASE LINK:

Amazon UK

REVIEW:

Really, the title of this book tells you everything that you need to know about it. It is a charming Christmas tale filled with everything you could want from a festive novel. It is a wonderfully warm book, and is the perfect read to give you that cosy Christmas glow.

I found that every one of the characters touched my heart, each for very different reasons. Owen is truly irresistible, and I found that elements of Gabby’s trust issues really resonated with me. I loved getting to know each of the characters and found that I was really rooting for each of them to get the Christmas that they deserved.

I have read a lot of Christmas novels over the year, but A Little Christmas Charm is without a doubt one of my favourites. It left me with a warm feeling, and a reminder of what Christmas is really all about.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero.

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

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GIVEAWAY:

Win a paperback copy of A Little Christmas Faith by Kathryn Freeman (Open Internationally)

A LITTLE CHRISTMAS FAITH_FRONT_150dpi

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link 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/33c69494161/?

Many thanks to Kathryn, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this tour and for providing me with a copy of the book. Why not stay in the festive spirit and head over to the other blogs taking part in the tour.

A Little Christmas Charm Full Tour Banner

Book Review

Divided We Stand – Rachel McLean

At long last I can tell you all about the final book in the Division Bell Trilogy! If you haven’t read the first two books, can I suggest reading them before you read the rest of this post because otherwise there will be spoilers aplenty. You can read my reviews of A House Divided and Divide and Rule here.

BLURB:

Britain is a country under surveillance. Neighbours spy on neighbours. Schools enforce loyalty to the state. And children are encouraged to inform on their parents.

Disgraced MP Jennifer Sinclair has earned her freedom but returns home to find everything changed.

Rita Gurumurthy has been sent to a high security prison. When a sympathetic guard helps her escape she becomes a fugitive, forced to go into hiding.

To reunite her family and win freedom for her son and her friend, Jennifer must challenge her old colleague and rival, the new Prime Minister Catherine Moore.

Will Catherine listen to reason and remove the country from its yoke of fear and suspicion? Or will Jennifer have to reveal the secret only she knows about Catherine, and risk plunging the country into turmoil?

Divided We Stand Ebook

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

Well, what can I say. I am a little sad that I have now reached the end of the Division Bell Trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed every book, and the finale certainly did not disappoint. Rachel McLean continues to create a grim picture of the state of the UK in the early 2020s, writing in a way that makes you feel that this story could really be the newspaper headlines in the not too distant future.

Although the subject matter of the entire trilogy could, and perhaps should, make for uncomfortable reading, Rachel’s writing style is such that you just cannot stop reading. Divided We Stand is one of those books that you can’t help but read quickly to see what happens (and to find out if there is any hope for redemption for our country), but at the same time you find yourself trying to read more slowly so that it lasts just a little bit longer.

Over the course of the trilogy, I had become attached to a number of characters, and I was pleased to see that Rachel gave each of these characters their own conclusion and I wasn’t left wondering about anyone’s fate, be that good or bad.

Having said earlier this year that political thrillers were not my usual choice of genre, it is safe to say that the Division Bell Trilogy has well and truly converted me, and I look forward to seeing what Rachel comes up with next.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

rachel mclean

I’m Rachel McLean and I write thrillers and speculative fiction.

I’m told that the world wants upbeat, cheerful stories – well, I’m sorry but I can’t help. My stories have an uncanny habit of predicting future events (and not the good ones). They’re inspired by my work at the Environment Agency and the Labour Party and explore issues like climate change, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and sexism in high places. All with a focus on how these impact individual people and families.

You can find out more about my writing, get access to deals and exclusive stories or become part of my advance reader team by joining my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

My thanks go to Rachel for allowing me to part of the blog tours for all three parts of this fantastic trilogy, and for providing me with my copy of the books, and also to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for making it so easy to take part.