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.

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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.

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon.com

Amazon UK

Goodreads

 

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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.

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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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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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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:

An Artisan Lovestyle Head Shot Piccie

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

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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.

Book Review

The Raven Coven – Emma Miles

I have the perfect book to end the month on a high note today, as I am reviewing the latest offering from the fantastic Emma Miles, The Raven Coven. This is the sequel to the brilliant The Raven Tower, which you can read my review of here. Many thanks to Emma 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:

Kesta had left her heart across the sea. They were at peace, her people saved from slavery, and yet… her soul was uneasy.

Chem lies in chaos, its people suffering as a result of the death of the ruling sorcerers. Refugees flee the cursed Borrows, begging for help from those they had made their enemy. A Queen unknowingly makes a dark, deadly pact, and new powers rise to fill the seats left empty by the Dunham necromancers.

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

Well, where do I start? Whenever you pick up a sequel to a book that you have loved, there is always the fear that it won’t live up to expectations, or the author will take the characters in a direction which wasn’t how you viewed them at the end of the first book, but I am happy to say that from the first page I knew I had nothing to worry about with The Raven Coven. Everything that I had previously said about The Raven Tower applies to this book as well by the bucket load.

The character development that began in The Raven Tower continues beautifully, as we discover more about their backstories and see new sides to them as they react to the events unfolding around them. Characters that I had overlooked a little initially really grabbed my attention this time round and I found myself developing new favourites as I went along (although it has to be said that Azra remains my number one favourite).

The imagery created around the locations is wonderful, and I found myself totally immersed in the landscape of each of them, to the point where the real world simply melted away around me.

Throughout the book there is a mystery surrounding one of the characters that almost drove me insane. I found I was reading faster and faster just to find out the truth behind what was happening, all the time coming up with my own crazy theories.

The Raven Coven is full of excitement and intrigue, but at the same time it is a book that will, at times, rip your heart right out of your chest and then stomp on it.

I know at the end of The Raven Tower I was begging Emma Miles to hurry up and write book two, but now I have book two I just really, really want a book three. I know, there’s no pleasing some people is there!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Raven Coven AuthorI 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.

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GIVEAWAY:

Win 3 x Paperback copies of The Raven Coven (Open INT)

*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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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