Book Review

The Sentinel’s Reign – Suzanne Rogerson

It is time for part two of the blog tour bonanza for Suzanne Rogerson’s Silent Seas Chronicles, and today I can tell you all about book two of the series, The Sentinel’s Reign. Thanks again to Suzanne and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

The Sentinel’s reign is doomed to failure unless Tei can prevent the Kalayan people from plunging into war.

With the new Sentinel initiated and the magic restored on Kalaya, life is flourishing for Tei and the exiles. But Rathnor’s plans for war soon escalate and thwart any chance of peace.

Brogan’s position on the Assembly is uncertain as rumours circulate that he is an exile spy.

After an attempt on his life, Farrell is more determined than ever to build a home for his people on Stone Haven. But the council have their sights set on Kalaya and Farrell struggles to steer them from war.

As trouble brews within and outside forces gather against them, can the exiles keep their hold on the magic, or will this spell the end of Kalaya and its people?

The Sentinel's Reign ebook complete

PURCHASE LINK:

Purchase here

REVIEW:

I want to write this review without repeating too much of what I said about The Lost Sentinel, but I do have to make mention of Suzanne’s beautiful world building and character development again. Her vivid descriptions make me wish I could pay a visit to the Silent Sea and meet the inhabitants of Kalaya and Stone Haven in person.

I enjoyed getting to know the characters better this time around, and really understanding what made some of them tick, finding out why they acted the way they did. For more than one this meant a major change of opinion about them, and my favourite characters were constantly changing. I found my emotions wildly bouncing from joy, to heartbreak, to triumph and everything in between as the story unfolded around them, and lives were changed forever.

Throughout this book, the tension continually builds and builds before reaching a dramatic conclusion, and just when you think a resolution has been reached, Suzanne unleashes a huge cliffhanger that sent me scurrying for book three (more on that in a few days).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

author photo 2018 (2)

Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her hugely encouraging husband and two children.

She wrote her first novel at the age of twelve. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.

Suzanne loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden, and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.

She collects books, loves going for walks and picnics with the children and sharing with them her love of nature and photography.

Suzanne is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles. But most of all she likes to escape with a great film, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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For more information on this, and the first book in the series, make sure you pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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Book Review

The Lost Sentinel – Suzanne Rogerson

Today marks the start of a trilogy of reviews coming up over the next few days for Suzanne Rogerson’s brilliant Silent Seas Chronicles. Many thanks to Suzanne, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of this blogging bonanza, and for providing me with copies of the books.

BLURB:

The magical island of Kalaya is dying, along with its Sentinel.

The Assembly controls Kalaya. Originally set up to govern, they now persecute those with magic and exile them to the Turrak Mountains.

Tei, a tailor’s daughter, has always hidden her magic but when her father’s old friend visits and warns them to flee to the mountains she must leave her old life behind.
On the journey, an attack leaves her father mortally wounded. He entrusts her into the care of the exiles and on his deathbed makes a shocking confession.
Struggling with self doubt, Tei joins the exiles search for the new Sentinel who is the only person capable of restoring the fading magic. But mysterious Masked Riders are hunting the Sentinel too, and time, as well as hope, is running out.

Against mounting odds it will take friendship, heartache and sacrifice for the exiles to succeed in their quest, but is Tei willing to risk everything to save the island magic?

THE LOST SENTINEL COVER

PURCHASE LINKS:

Purchase here

For the duration of the blog tour all books in the Silent Sea Chronicles series are 99p.

REVIEW:

The Lost Sentinel starts with a prologue that gives an instant sense of peril and I knew straightaway that this would be a book that I would not be able to put down. I am a big fan of prologues in books anyway, but this grabbed my attention and sucked me straight in to the magical land of Kalaya.

Suzanne Rogerson is a skilled world builder and I found that I was totally immersed in the story, the real world just falling away from me. This is exactly why fantasy is my favourite genre, but it is rare that a world absorbs me to the extent that the Silent Seas did.

The Lost Sentinel is a rich storyline told from various viewpoints, and as I tried to work out how these would all intertwine over the course of the books, I found I was asking more and more questions, and reading faster and faster. It is the sort of book that you want to read slowly so it doesn’t end, but at the same time you can’t help but race through.

Among the many characters, there were many that I loved, but special mention has to go to honourable Brogan, sweet little Beliss, and dedicated Farrell. There were also characters I loved to hate but I will leave you to discover them for yourselves.

As soon as I read the last page, I had to move straight on to book two. There was no way I could wait to find out what was going to happen next!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

author photo 2018 (2)

Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her hugely encouraging husband and two children.

She wrote her first novel at the age of twelve. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.

Suzanne loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden, and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.

She collects books, loves going for walks and picnics with the children and sharing with them her love of nature and photography.

Suzanne is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles. But most of all she likes to escape with a great film, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.

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Don’t forget to check out the other blogs taking part, and head back over here on 30th June for the next instalment.

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Guest Posts

Hollie Anne Marsh

As part of the blog tour for her latest book, Tabby’s Big Year, I am delighted to be hosting Hollie Anne Marsh today, as she tells us more about her riding adventures. Without further ado, I will hand you over to Hollie.

I grew up in Australia and we lived in a suburb not too far away from the centre of Sydney. It was quite suburban, however, it used to be full of green spaces where many people kept horses. I was introduced to horses when I was around eight years old, and quickly became obsessed! My friend Nicole and I used to spend countless hours at the paddocks, a ten-minute walk from my house, where she kept her naughty bay pony, Billy.

I started riding through meeting Nicole, and afterwards at the local riding school. I’d work half days in the blistering sun in exchange for a half hour lesson! It was kind of slave labour but I was desperate to be in the saddle. As soon as I was old enough, I got a paying job as a checkout chick (the slang name for supermarket cashiers in Australia) so I was able to loan a scruffy grey pony called Apollo. Apollo was fourteen hands and boy could he jump. I trusted him wholeheartedly and he was my best friend. We used to have a great time exploring the Australian bush. I also attended Pony Club and participated in some gymkhanas and One Day Events.

One of my favourite memories was galloping through the bush, with my friend Nicole, being chased by park rangers as we dodged low hanging tree branches. We took a trail that horses weren’t meant to be on… oops! At the end of our dare-devil gallop, we made it safely away, to the other side of the bush (the rangers couldn’t get through the path with their 4WD) and we were in absolute hysterics. We were probably twelve years old. It was a bit rebellious, but this carefree and funny moment stayed with me all these years!

When I grew out of ponies, I had a few ex-racehorses that I retrained. They weren’t always so easy, and I had a few spills including one bad fall – resulting in a broken ankle with metal in it ) :

During University, I used to wake up at 4 am to go and exercise race-horses at the Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney – funnily enough, I never had any falls at the race track. I also used to take the racehorses to the races on the weekends for their owners and trainers… ‘strapping’ and I always enjoyed the excitement of a race day!

After finishing University, I got a ‘proper’ job and I decided to buy more of a purpose bred horse. That is how my first warmblood (a breed specifically bred for equestrian sports), came to my life. I bought Spot at an auction as I got a bit carried away with the atmosphere! He was beautiful, a gentle giant that grew to be over seventeen hands. He was dark grey with a curious white spot on his hindquarters – thus the name. I trained him for show-jumping and later on I preferred the challenge of doing dressage. Out of any horses I owned, I think he had the best temperament. Like a big dog. My friend owns him now since I moved to the UK.

In my late twenties, I wanted to do some travelling and have a fun job for a while (as I started a career in marketing for big brands)! So, I moved to the UK and organised with a well-known stable to work for them, in return for training on their dressage horses. The stable was picture perfect – in Godalming in Surrey… but the cottage I was meant to live in I discovered was filthy. It smelt dank, and what was meant to be my bedroom, was up a ladder into a loft, into a threadbare room with no curtains, and a mattress coated with thick dog hair resting on the ground – with no sheets or blankets. After flying over twenty-three hours I had to lug a sixty-kilo bag up the ladder by myself to get into the sorry room. The riding trainer was a thin stern German lady, who chain-smoked and wasn’t very welcoming. I left after a few days as I just couldn’t live like that and I expected at least one friendly face. The kindly owner I had been talking to over email to organise my job, was nowhere to be seen the whole time I was there. In hindsight, I think I should have been tougher and stayed longer – but I was homesick almost as soon as I arrived and looking for some a little bit of comfort.

After leaving Surrey, I moved into a house share in Hampstead in the north of London with five people! All from different corners of the world. I found a job in marketing again and I spent most weekends traipsing all over Europe like most Aussies, escaping the weather and exploring. However, it wasn’t long before another horse came my way. My marketing director’s son gave up riding and as they were moving to America, so they sold me a big grey horse called Joey for a song. I trained him for dressage and after a year or two, I bought a black Danish bred horse called Odin. I trained him to medium level of dressage, however when I moved to Spain, I sold him. I did bring along my baby horse though – a foal that was bred in Devon.

Living in Barcelona in Spain has been interesting. We live by the beach and not far from the centre, in quite a lively cosmopolitan area – full of international people. My baby horse Frieda has grown up and I have been training her with a Spanish trainer, who has represented Spain in competitions.

Here is a photo of Frieda and I.

Hollie and Frieda

The stable where I keep her is quite modern with mainly performance horses. There is a mix of Andalusian and warmblood horses that people enjoy; riding for pleasure and sport.

During my time in Spain, I also visited Seville a few times where I had lessons on Andalusians. My trainer also allowed me to ride one very special Andalusian before he was sold to a home in Florida. Andalusian horses are so willing, comfortable to ride and sweet.

I also visited a few of the famous equestrian stables including the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in Jerez, and the Royal Stables in Cordoba. It was wonderful to learn more about the Spanish equestrian culture, the traditions and see the stunning horses in action. The only thing I don’t like about the south of Spain is the bull fighting… that makes me sad – I think it’s very outdated and barbaric. Fortunately, in Catalonia (the region where Barcelona is) they stopped bull fighting because the people thought it was cruel.

I must confess that I am quite envious of everything that Hollie has experienced. If this has whetted your appetite for more equestrian adventures, here come all the important details about the latest Sweetbriars book.

BLURB:

Tabbys Big Year_EBOOK

After Tabby’s father vanishes, a deep rift develops in Tabby’s family. Tabby’s mother is focused on being a star performer in her pharmaceutical sales career, while Ava, Tabby’s older sister, is living with grandparents in Cornwall. Tabby feels neglected by her mother and jealous of Ava and although outwardly diligent and responsible, she’s like a kettle about to blow its top… bottling things up until it’s nearly impossible to keep a lid on her frustration and sadness.

Tabby finds solace with her best friends Cate and Violet at Sweetbriars Farm where she is nursing her dream horse Bliss back to peak performance, to be able to participate in the try-outs for the British Young Riders Squad.

Tabby also finds herself facing other challenges – saving her beloved horse Nancy from the knacker’s yard and finding the courage to tell her friends the truth about her family.
Will Tabby be able to save the horses she loves and be brave enough to tell people how she really feels?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hollie Anne Marsh is an Australian author who lives in Barcelona, Spain with her partner, baby boy and horse Frieda.

Hollie has been horse riding since she was a little girl, enjoying activities such as Pony Club, showjumping, eventing, and trail-riding in the great Australian bush. Hollie lived in England for almost ten years where she had two horses and trained them for dressage.

The Sweetbriars series is inspired by all the special moments Hollie spent with horses – good, funny, and challenging moments!

Additionally the ‘coming of age’ and ‘growing up’ experiences that Hollie had.
Hollie hopes that readers will be able to identify with the characters, find the books fun to read, and they will help readers learn more about horses.

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For more information about Hollie and Tabby’s Big Year, why not check out the other blogs taking part on this tour?

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Book Review

Space Dragons – Robin Bennett

We’re headed back to the world of Middle Grade Fantasy today with the action-packed Space Dragons by Robin Bennett. Many thanks to Robin, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

If Stan Pollux had known he would be spending his summer holidays in the outer reaches of our solar system, he would have put on different underpants.

But when he gets kidnapped by the Planet Dragon Mercury, most things suddenly seem small and insignificant. Stan finds himself in a universe of dragons who had once ruled the skies as gods: Mars, Venus, Saturn and even Uranus way out back. This is shaping up to be the best summer holiday in the history of the cosmos until Stan discovers his stupid sister is missing and that Pluto (AKA Hades) is trying to use her to destroy the Solar System. And it will be all Stan’s fault if he doesn’t get Poppy back.

So, all Stan has to do is learn how to fight like a hero in space armour, defeat the dragon god Hades, rescue his sister and save the world. All before his parents realise she is missing.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

Space Dragons instantly struck me as a book that would appeal to so many different children (and adults for that matter), whether they have a fascination with dragons, are a future astronomer, have a passion for mythology, or are just fans of adventure. Add to this the fact that although the main character is a young boy, he has a fiesty little sister who girls will love, and this book really does have something for everyone.

As a Rick Riordan fan and a lover of mythology in general, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this incarnation of the ancient gods. Having the appearance of each dragon reflect that of their namesake planet is just such a clever way of educating children without them even realising, and with each dragon taking to the extreme their individual quirks and foibles, the astronomical information takes on a form that will give kids a point to focus on so it will stick in their memory. Add to this the little facts and snippets of information at the start of each chapter and you have a young scientists dream.

Although this book is clearly aimed at the young market, the language used manages to feel mature enough for adults to also enjoy it, but still perfectly reflects the thought process of an 11 year old boy. Even as an only child I could feel the frustration caused by a careless younger sibling, and by the inability to stand up to the school bully. I think a lot of children will find Stan to be an extremely relatable character.

I loved getting to know each of the dragons, with their complicated family dynamics. Their reunion dinner on Jupiter was a true feast for the imagination, both in terms of the food they eat, and the way they interact with each other. I found I was particularly fond of excitable Mercury and fierce Mars. I even found I developed a soft spot for the hellhound Cerberus.

This book is a thoroughly enjoyable read for all ages, and struck me as the perfect bed time reading, when the young readers could view the night sky as they read, and maybe spot a dragon of their own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robin Bennett is an author and entrepreneur who has written several books for children, adults, and everything in between. Listed in the Who’s Who of British Business Excellence at 29, his 2016 documentary “Fantastic Britain”, about the British obsession with fantasy and folklore, won best foreign feature at the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards, and his first book for young adults, Picus the Thief, won the Writer’s News Indie Published Book of the Year Award in 2012. Robin is also a director at Firefly Press.

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GIVEAWAY:

Win 10 x Hardcover Copies of Space Dragons – 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 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 this competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winner’s information. This will be 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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Book Review

Birdie and Jude – Phyllis H Moore

Today’s review is for the bittersweet Birdie and Jude by Phyllis H Moore. My thanks go to Phyllis, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

A moving novel of loss, regret, denial, and discovery on Galveston Island, from the author of Opal’s Story and The Ember Months.

Birdie has lived to regret many of her decisions, but she doesn’t regret offering a stranger, Jude, shelter from an approaching hurricane. Their serendipitous meeting will form a bond that will change their lives forever.

In a character driven story with memories of the protests and inequalities plaguing the 1960’s, Birdie’s reached middle age and questions her life. Jude is striking out on her own, but has been derailed by a fatal accident claiming her only friend. Although their backgrounds and lived are vastly different, they recognise something in the other that forges a friendship.

As their relationship solidifies, they share glimpses of their pasts. Birdie is a product of the’60’s, an aging hippie, with a series of resentments. She had a sheltered childhood in an upper class family. Her parents longed to see her make the Texas Dip at the Mardi Gras ball. Jude, however, entered foster care as an infant. Her parents, victims of a murder/suicide, left her and her siblings orphaned and separated.

There is something about their connection that strikes Birdie as familiar. Can souls know each other in different lives? Birdie struggles with the awareness that she has had regrets and hasn’t lived an authentic life, while Judd faces an uncomfortable truth about her own.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to take in much of what is written in book dedications, especially the longer ones, because I am usually far too eager to start reading the book. That said, something about the dedication in this book caught my eye, and I am so glad that I read it. I was really touched by the author’s words, and it made me curious about what was to come.

Straight off the bat, it felt like there was more to both Birdie and Jude than met the eye. While Birdie seemed feisty and full of life, despite the struggles of old age, you could feel a darkness, a sadness, to her character. In contrast, Jude is quiet and self-conscious, a troubled soul with more than her fair share of secrets. Alongside Birdie and Jude, comes Ollie, Birdie’s faithful canine companion. I absolutely adored the fact that he comes with a fully developed, almost human character himself.

This book has the feel of a coming of age story, as both women come to terms with their pasts and learn to accept their futures. There is a beauty in the gentle friendship that develops between them as they help each other in more ways than either of them realise when they first meet.

What I expected to be a sweet, simple story of friendship touched my heart in ways that I never imagined it would.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Phyllis H. Moore wants to live life experiences more than once: doing it, writing about it, and reading about it. The atmosphere of the south draws her in and repels her. The characters are rich with dysfunction and redemption, real. She’s had two careers and two retirements. Both careers gave her inspiration for her novels.

The Sabine Series, Sabine, Billy’s Story, Josephine’s Journals, and Secrets of Dunn House, Opal’s Story, Tangled – A Southern Gothic Yarn, and The Bright Shawl, Colours of Tender Whispers, The Ember Months, Birdie & Jude, and an anthology of spooky short stories inspired by real places and events, The Bridge on Jackson Road.

In 2018, she also released a new genre for her, A Dickens of a Crime – A Meg Miller Cosy Mystery. She has authored one non-fiction book, Retirement, Now What? Phyllis has been published by Caffeinated Press in the anthology, Brewed Awakenings 2, Fifteen Tales to Jolt Your Mind Awake. She blogs on her website, http://www.phyllishmoore.com

Phyllis is a retired social worker and former owner/operator of a small bed and breakfast. She’s lived in the rural areas and cities of south Texas. She currently lives on Galveston Island with her husband, Richard.

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Book Review

The Jumble Sale – Lily Rose

I have another fun, fantasy read for the younger readers out there today (and for the young at heart as well). Thank you so much to Lily Rose, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour for The Jumble Sale, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

TheJumbleSale_Ebook_BN

BLURB:

Zadi is part zombie, part fairy with a little bit of robot, which makes her a misfit monster. She lives with other misfit monsters, with their quirky parts in their makeshift town. They survive by hunting at the nearby hunting grounds taking items discarded by humans and making them into something useful. Hunting is risky because they could be captured by humans. Zadi is an excellent hunter and maker, but now she’s finding it difficult.

Something unusual has happened. There have been no new deliveries to the hunting grounds. This means there are no new items which can be used to recycle into something useful, and they are beginning to worry and fight with each other.

Can Zadi come up with a plan which will help the misfit monsters and bring them together as a community?

Enter the world of the misfit monsters, their quirky lives, and be part of their fun and adventures.

TheJumbleSale_Teaser-3.v2

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon.com

Amazon UK

Goodreads

 

TheJumbleSale_Teaser-2.v2

REVIEW:

The Jumble Sale is a charming little book, full of important messages for today’s children, but at the same time so full of fun that kids won’t even realise that they are learning. I think they will love the cast of misfit monsters, and listing the cast of characters at the beginning is a great idea for letting kids choose their favourite monster combination, and maybe even fuel their imagination into creating some misfit monsters of their own. I don’t have children of my own, but if I did I think it would be a fantastic activity to have them drawing their own interpretations of each misfit.

At the risk of giving away my age, there were a lot of things about the misfit monsters that put me in mind of  a number of my own favourite childhood characters – the mismatched parts of the Raggy Dolls, the small stature of the Borrowers, and the recycling habits of the Wombles. This made the book a wonderful journey in reminiscence for me, and I loved it because of this.

The Jumble Sale struck me as an important book for children to read. Without being preachy in any way, it teaches acceptance of people who are different to you, who might not look the same, or be able to do everything that you can. With her wonky walk and decomposing zombie parts, Zadi shows what you can achieve if you put your mind to it, even if the odds seem stacked against you.

I don’t know if this is the authors plan, but I can see a whole series of these books, with each one covering the emerging strengths of a different misfit monster.

TheJumbleSale_Teaser-1.v4

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lily Rose enjoys world building and creating characters for these unusual worlds. She enjoyed creating the misfit monsters world, and is looking forward to writing more of their adventures.

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For more information on the adventures of the Misfit Monsters, why not head on over to the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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Book Review

The Ice Cream Parlour – Isabella May

As you well know by now, I can never resist a book by Isabella May, and so I am over the moon to be taking part in the blog tour for her latest book, The Ice Cream Parlour. Many thanks to Isabella, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour and for providing me with my copy of the book.

BLURB:

Giovanna Tonioli is a successful stockbroker with a famous sports star boyfriend, but things aren’t as sweet as they seem. When life in the city of Bath goes from Vanilla to Rocky Road, she takes herself off to Italy for an ‘Eat Pray Love’ style tour of all things gelateria. What she doesn’t expect to find on her travels is one smooth, hot dollop of temptation that she just can’t shake. 

How will her spiteful twin sister react when Giovanna returns to open a rival ice cream parlour? Will Natalia get her just desserts? Or will things become even stickier? All’s fair in love, war and ice cream. Isn’t it?

*Marian Keyes meets Paulo Coelho meets Nigella*

The Ice Cream Parlour is a mouthwatering tale of fate, family, love and jealousy – with a delectable drizzle of alchemy besides.

The Ice Cream Parlour Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Order here

REVIEW:

Well, what can I say? From the delectable front cover to the mouthwatering gelato and ice cream flavours (yes, there is a difference), Isabella’s latest offering is another triumph.

I have something of a love affair with Italy, and gelato to be honest, and reading this book made me long to return. Capri is one of my bucket list destinations and reading this book just made me move it closer to the top of the list. I lived in Bath too for a short period, and Isabella’s descriptions took me right back to my time there.

They say that hell hath no fury, and this is certainly true of Giovanna. Although some of her decision making was perhaps questionable, you can’t help but fall in love with her spirit and passion. No matter what adversity she faces, she just keeps fighting back. Alongside Giovanna, there is a colourful supporting cast, each individual and beautifully developed. I loved getting to know the regular customers at the ice cream parlour, their little quirks and favourite choices of frozen dessert.

This book isn’t all about the food though. It also comes with a healthy dose of intrigue relating to a certain well known Italian family, a dash of romance, and a rather dramatic conclusion.

Isabella May has created such a strong brand with her instantly identifiable, gorgeously tempting covers, she is one author where you know you can always judge the book by it’s cover. Add to this the sprinkling of magic and spirituality that has become Isabella’s trademark in her writing, and you have another winner.

I could rave about the beauty of this book for hours and still never say enough. You really must read it – just not when you are hungry.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Oh What a Author PicIsabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic.

Cake, cocktail, gelato, and travel obsessed, she also loves nothing more than to (quietly) break life’s ‘rules’.

The Ice Cream Parlour is her fourth novel.

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Book Review

Game of Crones – Jay Raven

I am stepping out of my comfort zone today with a collection of chilling short stories for you all. Many thanks to Jay Raven, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Welcome to a world of cruelty, hexes and treachery, where malicious magic rules and you are but a single necromancer’s spell away from eternal terror.

From malevolent medieval magicians  to Wild West witches, this spellbinding volume by a master of the macabre is packed with frightening fables guaranteed to send a supernatural chill down your spine.

Amongst the haunting historical horror stories, you’ll meet:

  • A half-crazed girl locked up in a high security mental hospital by those accusing her of causing a devastating earthquake.
  • An impoverished French noblewoman who’ll stop at nothing to marry her daughter to a wealthy prince – even if it means dabbling with a dangerous love potion.
  • The hated public executioner Pandora whose fabled box has already killed 55 men – without leaving a trace of violence on their bodies.
  • Wily witch Merta who uses all her wits and trickery to turn the tables on the corrupt Mayor who wants her burnt alive at the stake.
  • A faery mage without conscience or pity with the perfect plan to make Mankind turn on itself – and all it takes is one innocent baby.
  • A drought-stricken frontier town that seeks magical help from the local Indian tribe to make it rain, but learns it comes at a terrible cost.
  • The doubt-ridden King, plagued by nightmares of his death, who consults an enchantress to learn the most of hidden of secrets: just when the Grim Reaper will claim him.
  • A Mid Western widow who is convinced her homesteading husband is still alive, held hostage by a sorceress.

If you’re thrilled by exciting dark fantasy tales, with cunning twists, edge-of -the seat tension and unexpected shivers, you’ll love Game of Crones. Pick it up today. If you dare…

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon.com

Amazon UK

REVIEW:

I was somewhat trepidatious about joining the blog tour for this book. I don’t cope well with scary tales, and having read the blurb I was concerned that this would be a little much for me to deal with – sleep eludes me at the best of times, so reading a nightmare inducing book really wouldn’t help. Upon speaking to my horror loving friend KT Robson, I was persuaded that I would probably be okay. Good news! I was fine, I think partly because as a collection of short stories none were of the length required to really get under my skin and freak me out. Furthermore, I am actually really glad that I tried this book as I found that I quite enjoyed it, although I don’t think I’ll be reaching for the Stephen King books quite yet.

Game of Crones is filled with vivid imagery, with the author painting such a clear image of the landscape surrounding each story that you could actually feel that you were there. Achieving this at the same time as creating characters that you really cared about in each story in so few words is a true talent, and one that I wished I possessed. As the title of the book suggests, the author is a master of taking something instantly recognisable and adding their own twist to it. I particularly liked how this was applied in “Changeling” and “Suggestion of Evil.” Whilst some of the stories, such as “Prince Charming” made me chuckle to myself, others, including “By Royal Command” struck me as quite sad. For me, experiencing such a range of emotions in a collection of short stories is rare as I usually find that I have finished the story and moved on to the next before I have had time to form an opinion.

Game of Crones is a book that I would definitely recommend both to people who wouldn’t normally read short stories, and also to those who normally avoid the creepier books. This book is a great introduction to both, and is a great showcase of the author’s writing skills.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Game of Crones - Jay Raven 5Jay Raven is the author of Gothic chillers and historical horror reminding readers that the past is a dangerous place to venture, full of monsters and murderous men. He blames his fascination with vampires, witches and werewolves on the Hammer Horror films he watched as a teenager, but living in a creepy old house on the edge of a 500-acre wood may have something to do with it.

If you would like to be informed of new releases, enjoy free short stories and access exclusive giveways and competitions, please subscribe to Jay’s monthly newsletter on his website at www.jayraven.co.uk

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Make sure you stop by the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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Book Review

An Incidental Lovestyle – Kiltie Jackson

I am beyond excited to be talking to you all about Kiltie Jackson’s third novel today. Before we go any further though, if you haven’t read her first two, A Rock and Roll Lovestyle and An Artisan Lovestyle yet, you really must (preferably before you read this one).

BLURB:

It only takes one small incident to change your life…

Jenny Marshall is your stereotypical, middle-aged, spinster. She works in a library, has two cats and likes cake. She has her dreams but not the courage to chase them.

Jeff Rowland fell in love at first sight with Jenny four years ago but hasn’t seen her since. When they bump into each other again, he realises his feelings haven’t changed.

When Jenny’s car breaks down on a cold winter’s day, it sets off a chain of events which brings them together in a way neither could ever have imagined. Both, however, have dark secrets in their past which begin to seep into their present.

Will these secrets bring them closer together?

Or will they shatter their relationship beyond repair?

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PURCHASE LINK:

Amazon UK

REVIEW:

Opening the front cover of one of Kiltie’s books feels like coming home after a long trip. Yes, you may have enjoyed the trip, but nothing quite beats being back in the welcoming arms of the familiar and the warm glow that Kiltie’s writing style generates.

As with the previous Lovestyle books, this reads perfectly well as a standalone, but I heartily recommend starting at the beginning, because you will see familiar faces popping up along the way, and I feel it’s nice to get to know them in the right order.

Reading about Jenny, and her secret bookshop dream, I felt instantly drawn to her. The way she describes her ideal bookshop, it felt like Kiltie had looked inside my head and discovered my own long held ambition. As the dream began to look as though it might become a reality, I felt as excited for Jenny as I would have if it was me doing it, and I felt lifted by the enthusiasm of each of the characters involved.

Once again Kiltie has created a cast of characters who feel more like family than fiction – the kind of family that anyone would long to be welcomed into. With the exception of one (who will remain nameless for you to discover) I fell in love with each and every one of them.

An Incidental Lovestyle is a book that made me laugh and cry in equal measure. I must have been driving one poor friend mad as I kept messaging her throughout the book telling her that she just absolutely had to read this book. It is brilliant in its story-telling and slow uncovering of long held secrets, and the ending is just perfect beyond words.

Without saying too much, there is mention of a possible future renovation project involving a windmill – Kiltie, if you should happen to read this review, please, please make this the subject of a future book!!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Kiltie grew up in Glasgow in Scotland. This is a very unique city with a very unique way of looking at life. When she was old enough to do so, she moved to London and then, after several years of obtaining interesting experiences -which are finding their way into her writing – she moved up to the Midlands.

Kiltie currently lives in Staffordshire with five cats and one grumpy husband. Her little home is known as Moggy Towers, even though despite having plenty of moggies, there are no towers! The cats kindly allow her and Mr Mogs to share their house on the condition they keep paying the mortgage!

Kiltie loves reading, watching movies, and visiting old castles. She really dislikes going to the gym! Her biggest desire is that one day she can give up the day job and write her stories for a living.

Kiltie’s debut novel, ‘A Rock ‘n’ Roll Lovestyle’, was released in September 2017 and won a “Chill With A Book – Reader Award” in December 2017. She first began writing her debut novel eleven years before it was released but shelved it as she didn’t think it was very good. In November 2016 when, having read more on a best-selling author who had begun her own career as a self-published author, she was inspired to revisit the unfinished manuscript and finally finish what she had started. Since beginning to write again, the ideas have not stopped flowing.

‘An Incidental Lovestyle’ is the third book in the Lovestyle Series. She currently has a further ten plots and ideas stored in her file (it’s costing a fortune in USB drives as each story has its own memory stick!) and the ideas still keep on coming.

Kiltie now lives her life around the following three quotes:

“I love having weird dreams, they’re great fodder for book plots!”

“Why wait for your ship to come in when you can swim out to meet it?”

“Old enough to know better, young enough not to care!”

Website – www.kiltiejackson.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/kiltiejackson

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KiltieJackson

Book Review

May Book Jar

I just have the one book jar read to tell you about this month, due in part to the fact that I seem to have agreed to a crazy number of blog tours for June and July, and I will be on holiday for half of June, so I am trying to get as many read as I can before I go so I am not trying to write my reviews somewhere with a wonky WiFi connection. The other (main) reason is that this little beauty was released, and quite frankly all other reading went out the window until I had finished it – more to come on this book (which is amazing!), and in fact the whole series, another time, but in the meantime, let us just spend a minute admiring how pretty it is.

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Getting down to business, this month’s book jar read was The Surrogate by Louise Jensen. I am a huge fan of Louise, and each time I read another of her books I discover a new favourite – The Surrogate was no exception to this. With this book, you are instantly thrown into the action, and the tension is pushed through the roof with the opening chapter entitled “Later,” and the chapters that follow falling into “Then” and “Now.” From the outset I was trying to work out where “Later” would fall into the narrative. Aside from being an expert in psychological thrillers, Louise also tugs at the heartstrings with a tale of infertility, lost adoptions and mental health issues that really draws you to the characters. At the start of this book, I felt an air of inevitably and thought I knew exactly what was coming – well, I was totally wrong about that, and there were so many twists and surprises that I was gripped right to the very last page.

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You can find out more about this book, and Louise here.