Book Review

Magical Intelligence – M.K. Wiseman

Today I am joining the blog tour for Magical Intelligence by M.K. Wiseman. Many thanks to M.K. for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

When you are a member of Britain’s first team of wizard spies, every mission might be your last. But as the dawning of the 20th century draws ever nearer, magic grows weak. Violectric Dampening, the clash of man-made electricity with the Gifts of magekind, threatens M.I.’s existence. And if that isn’t enough, they’ve now been discharged from their own government. Obsolete. Distrusted.

And now hunted by one of their own.

Myra Wetherby has always feared her so-called fits, strange visions of people and places that she cannot explain. It is the emotional manipulation, however, a strange empathic connection to those around her, which threatens her very sanity. A danger to her family, Myra runs away, falling straight into the hands of the newly ousted Magical Intelligence team. Who just so happen to need an ability like hers.

Which makes Myra one of them . . . whether she likes it or not.

MagicalIntel_FrontCover copy

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Magical Intelligence

REVIEW:

Magical Intelligence is a bit of a tricky book for me to review. When I read the blurb I think I saw the words “wizards” and “magic” and completely bypassed the fact that this was largely a spy novel. Unfortunately, this is a genre that I struggle with, mainly because it completely baffles me and I spend big chunks of the book not having the faintest clue what is going on. That said, this book had the feel of the classic espionage tale, and reminded me of some of the recognised greats in the genre that I have tried to read in the past. If this is a genre that you enjoy I think you will love this book.

Setting my own genre issues aside, I loved the characters in this book, and found each of their personal stories utterly intriguing. I instantly fell for the charming Aidan, but felt equally drawn to mysterious Benjamin too. It was easy to understand Myra’s confusion over the pair.

The magic system that M.K. Wiseman has created is well thought out and original, and I particularly liked the concept that the onset of the modern world would have an adverse effect on the strength of magekind’s powers.

Even though I struggled with the spy side of things, the characters and the magic are more than enough to make me want to read any future books that should come from this universe.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

M K Wiseman - promo photo 300 square copy

M. K. Wiseman has degrees in animation/video and library science – both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, her office is a clutter of storyboards and half-catalogued collections of too, too many books. (But, really, is there such a thing as too many books?) When she’s not mucking about with stories, she’s off playing brač or lying in a hammock in the backyard of her Cedarburg home that she shares with her endlessly patient husband.

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Book Review

Living Among the Dead – Adena Bernstein Astrowsky

Today I am joining the blog tour for Holocaust memoir, Living Among the Dead, by Adena Bernstein Astrowsky. Many thanks to Adena for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours, for inviting me to take part in the tour.

BLURB:

This is the story of one remarkable young woman’s unimaginable journey through the rise of the Nazi regime, the Second World War, and the aftermath. Mania Lichtenstein’s dramatic story of survival is narrated by her granddaughter and her memories are interwoven with beautiful passages of poetry and personal reflection. Holocaust survivor Mania Lichtenstein used writing as a medium to deal with the traumatic effects of the war.

Many Jews did not die in concentration camps, but were murdered in their lifelong communities, slaughtered by mass killing units, and then buried in pits. As a young girl, Mania witnessed the horrors while doing everything within her power to subsist. She lived in Włodzimierz, north of Lvov (Ukraine), was interned for three years in the labor camp nearby, managed to escape and hid in the forests until the end of the war.

Although she was the sole survivor of her family, Mania went on to rebuild a new life in the United States, with a new language and new customs, always carrying with her the losses of her family and her memories.

Seventy-five years after liberation, we are still witnessing acts of cruelty born out of hatred and discrimination. Living among the Dead reminds us of the beautiful communities that existed before WWII, the lives lost and those that lived on, and the importance to never forget these stories so that history does not repeat itself.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Living Among The Dead Cover

REVIEW:

My interest in the Holocaust stems from my school days, and a visit to Yad Vashem when I was 18. Fast forward 20 years, and a recent visit to Krakow, plus the reading of many books on the subject, and I thought I was prepared for this book. I was wrong. When a book has you sobbing before the end of the first chapter, you know you are in for a bumpy ride. Even as I sit here now typing my review, I have tears in my eyes.

The book opens with an introduction to Mania Lichtenstein in her later life as a great-grandmother. Adena talks of her grandmother, her Bubbie, with such warmth and affection, and the strength of her spirit shines through in Adena’s words. The inclusion of some of Mania’s own writing on her experiences during the Holocaust only add to the depth of emotion in this book.

I think when reading fictionalised accounts of life as a Jew in Nazi occupied territories, it is easy to get caught up in the characters and their story, and while this doesn’t remove the horror of what happened, it does blur the edges a little. With this memoir, written in a factual manner, and also maybe because you know from the beginning how Mania’s story ends, there is none of the distraction of fiction, and at times it made me feel physically sick that people could behave in the way they did. Despite what I already knew of the Holocaust, I was shocked by the brutality of the genocide in Wlodzimierz and what Mania had to go through in order to survive. Her story is completely heartbreaking and will stay with me for a long time.

Living Amongst the Dead is not a book that you can sit down and read in one sitting. It is hard to read about the suffering that Mania, and countless other Jews, endured, and I found I could only cope with reading a little at a time. Despite this though, I would urge everyone to read this book. We must never forget this truly terrible period of history.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Adena Bernstein Author PicAdena Bernstein Astrowsky has dedicated her career to helping the most vulnerable of our society. She did this by prosecuting child sexual abuse cases and domestic violence cases within the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. She became the local expert concerning the prosecution of domestic violence related strangulation cases and taught extensively on that subject. Currently, she handles post-conviction cases on appeal and foreign extradition cases. Adena taught Sunday School at her temple for eight years, and in her last two years she co-taught “Character Development Through the Studies of the Holocaust.” Adena contributes articles to MASK (Mothers Awareness on School-age Kids) Magazine, often writing about children’s safety, drugs, law and order, etc. Once a month Adena volunteers at a local Scottsdale library with her therapy dog, Charlie, as part of the Tail Waggin’ Tales Program. Adena has also chaired events to raise money for the Emily Center of Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Recently, Adena was recognized for her professional and philanthropic work with an Amazing Woman Award from the Phoenix Suns and National Bank of Arizona. Adena’s greatest role, however, is as the mother of three very active children. She, and her husband, Brad, are kept very busy with their respective dance, theater, music, and athletic activities.

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Don’t forget to have a look at the other blogs taking part in this tour for more information on this book.

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Book Review

The Path Keeper – N.J. Simmonds

I first read The Path Keeper back in 2017 before I set up this blog, and as such, I have never reviewed it on here. With the publication of Son of Secrets, book two in The Indigo Chronicles, fast approaching, now seemed the perfect time to revisit The Path Keeper and share my thoughts with you all.

BLURB:

What if our lives were mapped out before birth? Does anyone have the power to change their destiny?

Ella hates London. She misses her old life in Spain and is struggling to get over her past—until she meets Zac. He’s always loved her but isn’t meant to be part of her story. Not this time. Not ever. Little does she know that his secret is the one thing that will tear them apart and force her to live in a world that no longer makes sense. A world full of danger, lies and magic.

THE PATH KEEPER is a passionate tale of first loves, second chances and the invisible threads that bind us. Can love ever be stronger than fate?

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REVIEW:

I remember the first time I read The Path Keeper, I knew a couple of pages in that it was going to be something special, and all those feelings came flooding back to me as I settled down to read it again. I was filled with anticipation at the thought of rediscovering the characters that I fell in love with, and I am pleased to say that my second read was every bit as captivating as the first. Even though I knew the story this time round, I was swept away by beautiful, mysterious Zac and feisty, foul-mouthed Ella.

Besides Zac and Ella’s story, I loved dipping in and out of the lives of different generations of women, and found that this time round I noticed more of the connections between these women. When I am enjoying a book, I sometimes have the tendency to race through it, and miss the little touches that give an added depth, and I delighted in spotting them this time round. I have a feeling that I could return to this book time after time and keep noticing things for the first time with every reading.

I read a lot of fantasy, and honestly, I have read many books that are similar to each other – you start to recognise the same character types and dilemmas occurring time and again. With The Path Keeper, there is none of that. It is one of the most original books I have read in a very long time.

When I first read The Path Keeper, it was marketed as a Young Adult read, I think purely based on the age of Ella. Since than it has been reclassified as purely Fantasy, and this makes me very happy. There are elements that are most definitely not YA, and sadly this has led to some negative reviews in the past that really came about as a result of this being read by the wrong audience. Please pay no attention to any of these are they are completely undeserved. Just rush out now to buy this book so you can read it and be ready for the release of Son of Secrets on 28th May – pop back in a few weeks to read my review of that one.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

N J Simmonds is the author of fantasy series The Indigo Chronicles – she also writes Manga comics and is one half of Caedis Knight. Her stories are magical, historical and full of complex women, page-turning twists and plenty of romance. Originally from London, she now lives with her family in the Netherlands.

Guest Posts

Through Dust and Dreams – Roxana Valea

It’s the one day blog blitz today for Through Dust and Dreams by Roxana Valea, and Roxana has very kindly taken the time to write a guest post for me to share with you all. Many thanks Roxanne for this, and thanks also to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the blitz.

BLURB:

At a crossroads in her life, Roxana decides to take a ten-day safari trip to Africa. In Namibia, she meets a local guide who talks about “the courage to become who you are” and tells her that “the world belongs to those who dream”. Her holiday over, Roxana still carries the spell of his words within her soul. Six months later she quits her job and searches for a way to fulfil an old dream: crossing Africa from north to south. Teaming up with Richard and Peter, two total strangers she meets over the Internet, Roxana starts a journey that will take her and her companions from Morocco to Namibia, crossing deserts and war-torn countries and surviving threats from corrupt officials and tensions within their own group.

Through Dust and Dreams is the story of their journey: a story of courage and friendship, of daring to ask questions and search for answers, and of self-discovery on a long, dusty road south.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Through Dust and Dreams Cover

Right, now I am handing you over to the lady herself, to talk about the forgotten art of adventure.

I wished I had been born in the 19th century, the time of the great explorers and adventures. There were unchartered territories to discover, indigenous populations to make contact with, unclimbed mountains to conquer and far away lands to travel to.

But fate decided I would be born in mid 70s and come to age in a world that had not much mystery left. In this world, people buy a travel insurance before they leave home so that  they can claim damages in the event of anything not going to plan. They expect trains and planes to leave on time and arrive on time and get irritated for a ten minute delay. In this world, a smartphone with an automatic translation app lets you communicate in a foreign country, a Lonely Planet guide gets you anywhere and a credit card magically sorts out any issues you may come across.

I though there was no real adventure left. But I was wrong.

Because when you really look for something, the thing you look for, finds you.

Adventure came to fetch me one Monday morning, at my marketing executive desk. It starred me in the face, winked and said:

“Here I am. Do you really want to follow me?”

It was an add I saw on an online travel forum. A guy had a Land Rover, was planning to drive from London to Cape Town and was looking for two others to share the journey.

I stayed there a long time, looking Adventure in the eye and not daring to move.

“What will you do?” Adventure asked me.

“What will I do?” I echoed it.

And that what the first moment I realised the deep beauty of adventure. It’s that of not knowing. You come face to face with situations you have not met before. You don’t know what you will do. You don’t know what will happen. You can’t control the outcome. And no travel guide, credit card or insurance policy can do that for you.

I clicked the reply button of that add and this small gesture started it all: 8 months, 17 countries and 20,000 miles by car. I didn’t know it then, how could I? I didn’t know what an amazing adventure this would turn out to be. How unsafe, unexpected and raw it will be. How it would test me to my limits and beyond and how it would show me beauty that would stay in my heart forever.

As I said yes, Adventure told me that it had been patiently waiting for me. That not all is known even in our super connected world. That there are still places not chartered on any map, jungles to cross and indigenous people to connect to, just like there were in the last century. It thanked me and promised me many beauties along the way. It whispered to me the sound of the dunes of the dessert in night and told me stories of dust and dreams.

I followed its voice. I took my insurance policy, guide book and credit card with me when I left but Adventure taught me that these things mean nothing at times and that’s the whole beauty of it.

I followed it wherever it took me and I loved it for what it showed me. And I promised I would write it down so that others would learn to recognise its call.

And I did. The book is called Through Dust and Dreams. The Story of an African adventure.

Many thanks Roxana for taking the time to share this with me and the lovely people who read my blog.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Through Dust Author PicRoxana Valea was born in Romania and lived in Italy, Switzerland, England and Argentina before settling in Spain. She has a BA in journalism and an MBA degree. She spent more than twenty years in the business world as an entrepreneur, manager and management consultant working for top companies like Apple, eBay, and Sony. She is also a Reiki Master and shamanic energy medicine practitioner.

As an author, Roxana writes books inspired by real events. Her memoir Through Dust and Dreams is a faithful account of a trip she took at the age of twenty-eight across Africa by car in the company of two strangers she met over the internet. Her following book, Personal Power: Mindfulness Techniques for the Corporate World is a nonfiction book filled with personal anecdotes from her consulting years. The Polo Diaries series is inspired by her experiences as a female polo player–traveling to Argentina, falling in love, and surviving the highs and lows of this dangerous sport.

Roxana lives with her husband in Mallorca, Spain, where she writes, coaches, and does energy therapies, but her first passion remains writing.

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Guest Posts

A Thoughtful Woman – K.T. Findlay

As part of the blog tour for his book, A Thoughtful Woman, today I have the pleasure of sharing a guest post from K.T. Findlay with you. Many thanks K.T. for taking the time to do this, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour. Before I hand you over to the man himself, here are all the details about A Thoughtful Woman.

BLURB:

They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but where’s the fun in that?

Artist Sally Mellors has planned the perfect revenge, but with two secret agents on her tail, and her best friends running the police investigation, getting away with murder is going to be tricky…

Everybody loves Sally. She’s a funny, generous, warm hearted friend, without a nasty bone in her body.

Isn’t she?

Unknown to her friends, Sally’s discovered another side to herself, cool headed and relentless, as she hunts down the three men who killed her husband. But Sally’s not the only one with an interest in the trio. Unknown to her, two agents have arrived in town, urgently hunting a missing man and his diary, which could blow their organisation apart. Their best leads are the very men that Sally’s hunting, and she’s getting in the way… 

The inspiration behind A Thoughtful Woman.

The justice system is an intriguing beast. We expect it to be fair, which is why we allow it to resolve our disputes instead of simply taking revenge ourselves, but watch an individual case play out in court and it can seem more like a high stakes game between lawyers than the pursuit of absolute truth. And if you think it’s a game, do you still accept the result if you lose? Is that still justice? At what point will a perfectly normal, perfectly decent person snap, and what happens when they do? Is it possible to plunge into the darkness of revenge and remain the normal, decent happy person you were before you started? Sally Mellors is about to find out.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

A Thoughtful Woman - 4 June 2019

Now, I will hand you over to K.T. Findlay to share his thoughts on what it is to be “normal.”

“Goodness me, that’s just not normal!”

Well, perhaps before we decide if that’s true, we should make sure we know what the word normal actually means.

NORMAL Definition 1 – A normal variety of something; esp. a sound, healthy, or unimpaired person.

NORMAL Definition 2 – Conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural

NORMAL Definition 3 – A person who conforms and blends in with society; one who expresses no elements of individuality; flat and boring; extremely straight and perpendicular person; cannot cope easily with chaos; could also be described as the living dead; does not dare express over the top displays of emotion in case they might be seen to be mad.

The first two definitions are from dictionaries. The third is from “the county of Bonkershire”, a group of people with a variety of mental health issues who are trying to reclaim some of the older, more useful words for madness that have been turned into terms of abuse since they were originally conceived. You can see and hear them talking with comedian Jo Brand in Series 2, episode 1 of Victoria Coren Mitchell’s Balderdash and Piffle TV series.

Human beings are naturally tribal in nature, or at least most of them are. They cluster together into groups, either little or large, and by definition, anyone outside the group is excluded to some degree or another. These groups often come up with various cultural or behavioural elements they require of their members, to consistently prove their loyalty and commitment to the group. These can be as simple as saying hello instead of hi, as arcane as Victorian middle class manners, or enforce critical hygiene practices such as only eating with your right hand, maintain religious orthodoxy as in going to church on Sunday, right the way up to mutilating yourself or your children.

This is normal. Oh dear… There’s that word again!

The word normal can very easily become a weapon when it’s used to place people deliberately outside the group. “You’re not normal!” But all it really means is that “You’re not one of us.”

Perhaps the real definition of normal could be more along the lines of: “That which me and mine sincerely believe, use, eat, drink and do most of the time.” And that makes the word normal very personal indeed, to the person saying it. It makes the third definition in the list at the top of this article perfectly valid, because it’s that group’s definition. Whatever you yourself might think about that!

So it’s very context specific. Normal food for someone living in rural China in the nineteenth century would be quite different to normal food for a German peasant in the same period, which would be different again for a German noble in the eighth century. The word normal only works if you understand the context in which it’s being used.

You might think that this is all a little bit academic, but it can have real world consequences. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also known as the DSM, is the handbook used in the USA and much of the rest of the world as the authoritative guide  to diagnosing mental disorders. It offers descriptions, symptoms and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. Fair enough you might say, but of course it changes quite dramatically over time as society evolves its view as to what it considers to be natural, and what it views as an aberration worthy of treatment.

This is all fertile ground for an author to walk over, because every single character in their books will have their own definition of what normal means to them. Even the best and closest of friends may suddenly discover that their pal has a weird side, and isn’t anywhere near as normal as they thought they were! “I mean, the fellow actually has a monthly bath! Shockingly dangerous… he’ll be dead by Christmas, just you see!”

So while it’s normally not normal to think about normal, it’s good for an author to make sure that their character’s normal. Or not.

Many thanks K.T. for that fascinating insight, and for taking the time to share it with us all.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A Thoughtful - KT FIndlay above swing bridge 1 - CroppedK.T. Findlay lives on a small farm where he dovetails his writing with fighting the blackberry and convincing the quadbike that killing its rider isn’t a vital part of its job description.

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Book Review

The Perfect Couple – Jackie Kabler

Today I am joining the blog tour for psychological thriller, The Perfect Couple by Jackie Kabler. Many thanks to Jackie for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

The perfect couple … or the perfect lie?

A year and a half ago, Gemma met the love of her life, Danny. Since then, their relationship has been like something out of a dream. But one Friday evening, Gemma returns home to find Danny is nowhere to be seen.

After two days with no word from her husband, Gemma turns to the police. She is horrified by what she discovers – a serial killer is on the loose in Bristol. When she sees the photos of the victims she is even more stunned … they all look just like Danny.

But the police aren’t convinced by Gemma’s story. Why has no one apart from Gemma seen or heard from Danny in weeks? Why is there barely a trace of him in their flat? Is she telling them the truth, or are there more secrets and lies in this marriage than meets the eye?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

The Perfect Couple Cover

REVIEW:

Right from the start of this book, I was suspicious – can any relationship be as perfect as Gemma would have us believe? With no signs of Danny ever having even been in Bristol, I must admit the old grey matter was working overtime coming up with questions and possible answers as to what was really going on.

I enjoyed the writing style of alternating between Gemma telling her story in the first person and the police investigation being unveiled in the third person. For me this switching back and forth really helped me to build an image of Gemma and had me wondering how much her account could be trusted, and at times whether she even knew the answer to that herself.

The Perfect Couple is an intricately woven story that keeps building and building as more and more discoveries about a supposedly perfect relationship are made. It is my favourite type of psychological thriller – I thought I had it all worked out and knew exactly where the story was going, but my goodness, I was wide of the mark! I would love to know if other people found themselves in the same boat.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

image1

Jackie Kabler was born in Coventry but spent much of her childhood in Ireland. She worked as a newspaper reporter and then a television news correspondent for twenty years, spending nearly a decade on GMTV followed by stints with ITN and BBC News. During that time, she covered major stories around the world including the Kosovo crisis, the impeachment of President Clinton, the Asian tsunami, famine in Ethiopia, the Soham murders and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Jackie now divides her time between crime writing and her job as a presenter on shopping channel QVC. She has a degree in zoology, runs long distances for fun and lives in Gloucestershire with her husband.

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One Step Behind Cover Reveal

I have the honour of being involved in the cover reveal for what I think is a brilliant sounding thriller, One Step Behind by Lauren North. Keep reading for all the book details followed by the big reveal!

BLURB:

Jenna is a wife, a mother, a doctor. She’s also the victim of a stalker.

Every time she leaves her house, she sees him. Disturbing gifts are left at her door. Cruel emails are sent to her colleagues. She has no idea who this man is but she feels powerless against him.

Until the day he is brought into her hospital after a serious accident, and Jenna is given the chance to find out once and for all why this man is tormenting her. Now, the power is all hers.

But how many lines is she willing to cross to take back control of her life?

PURCHASE LINK:-

Amazon UK

Publication date: 17 July 2020 (ebook); 03 September 2020 (paperback)

Sounds great, doesn’t here? Here comes the cover so you know what to look for.

ONE STEP BEHINDUK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:-

Lauren NorthLauren writes psychological suspense novels that delve into the darker side of relationships and families. She has a lifelong passion for writing, reading, and all things books. Lauren’s love of psychological suspense has grown since childhood and her dark imagination of always wondering what’s the worst thing that could happen in every situation.

Lauren studied psychology before moving to London where she lived and worked for many years. She now lives with her family in the Suffolk countryside. Her debut novel, The Perfect Betrayal, was released last year.

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Extracts

Trust In You – Julia Firlotte

Today I have the honour of sharing an extract from Trust In You by Julia Firlotte. Many thanks to Julia for allowing me to share this piece of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

BLURB:

From the moment she met him, Ella Peterson had questions. As always, though, she’s too shy to ask.

Older and sexy as hell, mysterious Adam Brook soon sweeps sheltered Ella off her feet; but is he as perfect as he appears to be, or is there more to him than he’s telling her?

Ella’s world has already turned upside down after moving from England to rural Kansas. She and her sisters were hoping for a more secure future, but instead find that life can be tough when jobs are scarce and the stakes often higher than anticipated.

When events spiral out of Ella’s control, she learns the person she needs to rely on most is herself and her instincts on who to trust in the future.

It’s just that her instincts are screaming at her to trust Adam; it’s what he tells her that makes that a problem.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Trust In You Cover

EXTRACT:

I expect him to talk but he doesn’t, instead he opens the glove box where the cupboard lighting reveals a handgun inside. I freeze at the sight of it. I know it’s almost standard to carry one here, but it’s not a sight I’m used to. Adam reaches inside and pulls out a leather pouch. I watch in horrified silence as he slides a curved blade out of it. Does he always carry that around in his truck?

He then pins my wrists on his thigh and uses the razor-sharp knife to slice the rope before discarding it. He turns my wrists over in his hands to look at them.

‘Put some ointment on them when you get in, ok?’ he says softly. Our eyes lock on each other’s and I stare back wide-eyed and silent. His expression is so many emotions all at once: regretful, angry, protective. I’m so confused. He runs his hand down the side of my cheek and my skin comes alive under his fingertips. I don’t know what to say or do and there’s a pause as he tries to find the right words.

‘That wasn’t really me; you remember I told you that, right?’ He speaks quietly, but I can tell he means it. What I can’t tell is whether I believe him, there was just so much I overheard which I don’t understand.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Trust In You - Julia Head Shot 2.Julia is an avid reader of all things romance, and she has read hundreds of books across a variety of sub-genres and began writing her own novels in 2018. Four books are currently in various stages of editing and completion, the first of which is finished and will be on sale in spring 2020.

Julia has always been passionate about languages and fiction and has a degree in Languages And Trade and an A-Level in English Literature. When Julia is not writing or editing her own novels, she usually has her nose in books by other authors and is otherwise kept busy caring for her family, going to the gym and carrying out her day job. Julia lives on the South Coast of England with her two children, husband and cats.

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Winter’s Gift Cover Reveal

I am delighted to be a part of today’s cover reveal for Winter’s Gift, the latest book by Florence Keeling. It’s a charming cover and I am excited to show it to you all, but first here comes all the details.

BLURB:

A heart warming, feel good romantic comedy. 

‘I absolutely adored this book. It gave me all the feels! A charming read full of warmth and heart.’ ***** Kim the Bookworm

Bea Winters is in desperate need of a fresh start. Being bullied at work is not her idea of fun and she longs to follow her dream of becoming a published author. When an advert appears in her local paper to work in a publishing house in the sleepy village of Bloomsdale, it sounds too good to be true.  

She strikes up an instant friendship with gorgeous aspiring author, Eddie Richards and her dashing millionaire boss Scott Summers 

But all isn’t as it seems in the sleepy village of Bloomsdale.

How does the local clairvoyant know her name? Who does the little black dog that keeps appearing belong to and why does she keep bumping into the mysterious Charlie?  

As she starts to unravel the truth, it seems that everyone in Bea’s life is keeping secrets.  

An uplifting romantic comedy that will warm your heart – perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Milly Johnson and Carole Matthews.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

I am a big fan of Florence Keeling, and I am very much looking forward to reading this, but in the meantime, who wants to see the cover? Here it comes!

Winter's Gift Cover

Isn’t it lovely? Just looking at it makes me wish that I lived by the water. I will be reviewing the book next month so keep your eyes peeled to see what I thought of it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Florence Keeling adopted for her pen-name her Great Grandmother’s name, chosen because of the shared birthday of April Fool’s Day.  She is married with two teenage chidren.  Born and raised in Coventry, England she now lives just outside in Nuneaton.  Reflected Destinies is her first novel.

Florence Keeling also writes for children under the name of Lily Mae Walters.

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Book Review

Brittle’s Academy for the Magically Unstable – Lily Mae Walters

I am delighted to be joining the blog blitz for Brittle’s Academy for the Magically Unstable: Charlie Makes a Discovery, the first book in a great Middle Grade Fantasy series by Lily Mae Walters today. Many thanks to Lily Mae for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour.

BLURB:

It’s Charlie’s first day at high school, his blazer is too big and his shoes are too small, but that’s the least of his worries. He’s been missed off the class lists and is now enrolled in a new school called Brittle’s Academy with a magical and mysterious head teacher. But to stay at Brittle’s Charlie must pass one of the tests…otherwise he’ll be sent to Oblivion!

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Cover

REVIEW:

The instant I saw the cover for Brittle’s Academy, I was swept back to my first visit to the Harry Potter studios in Watford, standing in front of the magnificent doors to the Great Hall at Hogwarts. I knew that if Brittle’s Academy was even half as magical, then it was a book not to be missed.

In Charlie Makes A Discovery, Lily Mae Walters perfectly captures the nerves that I can still remember of the first day at secondary school, not knowing your way around, or if you will be in the same class as your friends. Add to that the fact that your name doesn’t appear on any of the class lists at all, and it suddenly becomes a very daunting prospect indeed – especially when you then find yourself swept away to an entirely different school to the one you were expecting to attend!

This book presents an excellent introduction to the magic system of Brittle’s Academy, as the newest pupils meet the oddball collection of teachers at the school and begin to learn about their own abilities. The tests that the students have to undertake in order to be assigned their house were intriguing and left me wondering how I would have fared, and which house I would have ended up in. I am thoroughly looking forward to getting to know each of the pupils and teachers in the future books in the series.

Brittle’s Academy for the Magically Unstable is filled with chucklesome moments, and is a quick, fun reads for adults as well as children. It is the perfect escape from the boredom of our current isolation situation (and a break from the stresses of home schooling!).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lily Mae Walters chose her pen name in honour of her beloved grandparents who also star in the Josie James series.

She is married with two teenage children, and two huskies that are the inspiration behind Murphy and Asher in the books.

Lily Mae lives in Nuneaton, England and finds herself using local  places and even her old school in her stories.

Family and friends mean the world to Lily Mae and many will find themselves popping up throughout the series.

Lily Mae also writes for adults under the name of Florence Keeling.

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