Guest Posts

Space Academy – Hannah Hopkins

I’d like to give a very warm welcome to Hannah Hopkins, who has kindly written a guest post on her mission as a writer, as part of the blog tour for her MG Fantasy novel, Space Academy. Many thanks to Hannah for taking the time to do this, and also to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

It’s the year 2100. Earth is dying. A young woman, Elsie, has risked everything to get her newborn son, Will, aboard ‘The Mayflower’ – a spaceship that will transport a select number of people to a new planet they can call home. Elsie’s luck takes a turn when she discovers the captain of ‘The Mayflower’ is an old friend. He allows her to board with her son, giving them a place on the luxurious Floor One, where they live amongst the most honoured of ‘The Mayflower’s’ passengers.

Thirteen years later, and Will is ready to start school at Space Academy, an institute specialising in subjects such as Alien Studies, Technology, and Rocket Control. While a pupil there, Will starts to uncover secrets about his father’s death, becoming wrapped in a mystery that he and his friends must solve if they are to have any hope of saving humanity from the threat that lies in wait.

Lose yourself in this brilliantly addictive novel as it takes you on a journey through the stars. But be warned – you might be surprised by what you find.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

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Space Academy Cover

I’ll pass you over to Hannah now so she can tell you all what she wants readers to take away from her stories.

As a writer, first and foremost I want to entertain my readers. I fell in love with the magic of the written word at a young age, and have since spent my life either buried in books or my own imagination. Giving somebody the opportunity to escape into a different reality and explore another world brings me such joy, and I love the idea that my readers can connect to characters and settings that I have invented. It’s like sharing a piece of your imagination or a piece of your soul, and it creates a unique and enduring bond. I love it when readers become invested in my stories, and hearing phrases like ‘when is the sequel?’ or ‘I felt really sad when I finished the book,’ is so rewarding! I know how it feels when I fall in love with a novel, and knowing I can give that to someone else is giddying.

 In terms of a message, I think the most valuable thing I can give to readers is the feeling they are not alone. Whether they befriend the characters in their mind or simply relate to what they’re growing to, I truly believe the best power of a story is allowing you to feel as though you are understood. The idea that as human beings, we all experience the same hardships is incredibly unifying, and helps release the burden of thinking we are the only ones who struggle. Stories can help us make sense of our own lives. They use beautiful prose to summarise ideas and feelings we cannot articulate, and make us feel a part of something bigger. They give us hope when we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and help us believe in the magic and mystery of life. Part of my mission as a writer is to reach people who feel alone and give them something that eases their pain. Whether that is a piece of entertainment or a deeper message of support, a story is a tremendously important and valuable tool.

 Recently, I have tried my hand at writing as advocacy. As a young woman, the feminist cause is incredibly important to me, and is something that I have become deeply passionate about. I have always been fascinated and saddened by the stories of well-known women in history, and I started to imagine how things might have been if we had had more power. I started writing about a fictional world, where inherited power is passed from woman to daughter instead of father to son, and began to realise the issues I was exploring in the novel are extremely relevant to real life and modern society. If I can create a gripping and immersive story which also serves to further a cause I care about, then I feel I will have completed my mission as a writer! Writing makes the world a better place, and it is a privilege to be able to tap into that power.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Space Academy - hannah hIn 2017, Hannah Hopkins released a self-published novel entitled ‘The Split’; the story of four teenagers navigating life after Earth as they journey through space to a new planet. Two years later, the book was picked up by ‘The Conrad Press’ and re-vamped as ‘Space Academy,’ with a new cover, new title and new additions to the story. ‘Space Academy’ was released in 2020, kickstarting Hannah’s career as a writer.

Hannah is currently busy writing a historical fiction novel with a feminist twist. She spends the rest of her time working at a University and caring for her two young children in the UK.

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Book Review

Empire’s Reckoning – Marian L Thorpe

When I heard that Marian L Thorpe was writing a follow up trilogy to Empire’s Legacy, I was over the moon, and I am delighted to be able to introduce it to you all today, as I join the blog tour for Empire’s Reckoning, the first book in the new series. Many thanks to Marian, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

How many secrets does your family have?

For 13 years, Sorley has taught music alongside the man he loves, war and betrayal nearly forgotten. But behind their calm and ordered life, there are hidden truths. When a young girl’s question demands an answer, does he break the most important oath he has ever sworn by lying – or tell the truth, risking the destruction of both his family and a fragile political alliance?

Empire’s Reckoning asks if love – of country, of an individual, of family – can be enough to leave behind the expectations of history and culture, and to chart a way to peace.

BOOK ONE OF THE EMPIRE’S REPRISE SERIES

PURCHASE LINKS:

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Empires Reckoning front cover

REVIEW:

Let me start by saying if you haven’t already read the Empire’s Legacy trilogy, go away and do that now, and then come back to read this review. Although I think there is enough backstory in Empire’s Reckoning for it to make sense if you picked it up with reading the first trilogy, you will be missing out on a really wonderful series if you don’t read it, and it adds so much depth to this book too. I also thoroughly recommend reading the novella Oraiáphon in between the two trilogies. It is a wonderful book, and offers a deeply emotional insight into what happens immediately after the Battle of the Taiva at the end of Empire’s Exile. It also works as a really good way of easing you in to the narrator change that occurs for Empire’s Reckoning.

Getting back to Empire’s Reckoning, I am pleased to report that I loved this book just as much, if not more, than the Empire’s Legacy trilogy. It has a gentler, more emotional feel to it than the first trilogy, which I feel is reflective of the differences between Lena and Sorley’s personalities. Sorley has long been a favourite of mine and him picking up the narrative felt like the perfect way to move forward. Empire’s Reckoning is a tale of love and shared history, and could really only be told by a scaeli of Linrathe.

Picking up some years after the end of Empire’s Exile, Empire’s Reckoning offers a fascinating look at what happened next for some of the much loved characters, and gave an insight into how they had changed and grown in the intervening years. That said, as much as liked reading about where everyone was now, it was the slow unpeeling of the years between the two books that I really enjoyed, seeing how each of them got to the point they were now at, and unveiling the intricacies of their relationships and betrayals.

Often with fantasy and alternate world books, it is easy to completely separate them from the reality of the world that we live in, and I think it is testament to Marian L Thorpe’s writing skill that this book really made me stop and think about various prejudices that exist throughout the world, and how these can be set aside to create something better.

I could gush about this book for ages, but that would eat into valuable reading time for you, so instead I will let you head off to your favourite outlet for books so you can buy all five of the books set in this wonderfully rich world and settle down for a few happy days reading.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Empires Hostage AuthorNot content with two careers as a research scientist and an educator, Marian L Thorpe decided to go back to what she’d always wanted to do and be a writer. Author of the medieval trilogy Empire’s Legacy and the companion novella Oraiáphon, described as ‘historical fiction of another world’, Marian also has published short stories and poetry. Her life-long interest in Roman and post-Roman European history informs her novels, while her avocations of landscape archaeology and birding provide background to her settings. Empire’s Reckoning is the first of a planned trilogy, Empire’s Reprise.

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Guest Posts

The English Wife – Adrienne Chinn

In the second of today’s guests posts, I am delighted to welcome Adrienne Chinn to my blog, along with lots of seriously tempting photographs! Many thanks Adrienne for taking the time to write a guest post for me, and also to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part in the blog tour for Adrienne’s book, The English Wife.

BLURB:

Two women, a world apart.

A secret waiting to be discovered…

VE Day 1945: As victory bells ring out across the country, war bride Ellie Burgess’ happiness is overshadowed by grief. Her charismatic Newfoundlander husband Thomas is still missing in action.
 
Until a letter arrives explaining Thomas is back at home on the other side of the Atlantic recovering from his injuries.

Travelling to a distant country to live with a man she barely knows is the bravest thing Ellie has ever had to do. But nothing can prepare her for the harsh realities of her new home…

September 11th 2001: Sophie Parry is on a plane to New York on the most tragic day in the city’s history. While the world watches the news in horror, Sophie’s flight is rerouted to a tiny town in Newfoundland and she is forced to seek refuge with her estranged aunt Ellie.
 
Determined to discover what it was that forced her family apart all those years ago, newfound secrets may change her life forever…
 
This is a timeless story of love, sacrifice and resilience perfect for fans of Lorna Cook and Gill Paul.

PURCHASE LINKS:

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The English Wife Hi Res Cover

Now, without further ado, here is Adrienne to tell us about eating like a Newfoundlander, and those photos I promised you.

Bread is the staff of life, so they say, but Newfoundlanders don’t limit themselves to a single fundamental like bread. Oh, no, m’dear. Newfoundlanders love their food, and I couldn’t write a book where half of it is set in Newfoundland, without talking about food (and drink, of course). If you visit, be sure to try bottled iceberg water!

In The English Wife, Florie is constantly cooking up hardy Newfoundland staples like Jiggs Dinner and stew and dumplings. Ellie, trying to navigate herself around her new life as a fisherman’s wife in a remote outport after the war, is faced with learning how to make salt cod and brewis (pronounced “brews”) with scrunchions.

So, exactly what are some of these local culinary delights? Jiggs Dinner is a favourite weekend dinner meal. You place a whole piece of corned beef in a pot on the hob with enough water to cover the meat. Cook for several hours until tender, then add cabbage, carrots, potatoes, swede, turnip… and boil. Then eat. I like mine with HP Sauce.

I remember growing up on fish and brewis as a kid in Newfoundland – I teethed on Purity hard tack biscuits – biscuits literally as hard as rocks, which, when soaked overnight soften into a dense bread which becomes brewis. Cooking up fish and brewis is easy – soak the hard tack overnight in one pot, and the salt cod in another. Change the cod water again in the morning and simmer until cooked.  Then you heat the hard tack until it comes to a boil and drain it. Cook up some chopped onions and diced salt pork in some butter, add the flaked up cod and fry it all up with the brewis until golden. Believe me, this is very tasty.

Newfoundland is full of delicious berry plants, from red partridgeberries and orange, raspberry-like cloudberries to the best blueberries on the planet – tiny balls of blue deliciousness. You haven’t had a blueberry until you’ve had a Newfoundland blueberry. Here’s an easy recipe for Newfoundland blueberry duff (a steamed pudding):

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups (500 grams) of flour

3 tsp baking powder

½ cup (170 grams) sugar

½ tsp salt

½ cup milk (235 ml) whole or half-fat milk

1 egg

¼ cup (85 grams) unsalted butter

1 cup  (340 grams) fresh blueberries

Preparation:

Cream butter with sugar, salt and egg with a mixer. In a separate bowl combine flower and baking powder. Add milk and the flour alternately to the butter mixture. Fold in blueberries. Note: If you use frozen blueberries, these will stain the whole pudding blue. Grease a pudding bowl with some butter and pour in the batter. Cover with greaseproof paper or aluminium foil tied with a string or held in place with a large elastic band. Put a couple of inches of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Set in the pudding bowl and cover with a lid, letting it boil for about 1 ½ hours. Be sure it doesn’t boil dry – add more water if necessary. Place the bowl upside down on a rack to cool for 15 minutes then slowly lift off the bowl.

Sweet Sauce:

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

¼ tsp salt

1/3 cup (115 grams) brown sugar

1 cup (470 ml) boiling water

¼ tsp vanilla

Preparation:

Melt the butter in a pot. Add flour and salt and stir till smooth. Add brown sugar, stirring constantly. Remove the pot from the heat and add boiling water. Stir till smooth. Place pot back on the heat and continue to stir until it comes to a boil. Add vanilla and serve with pudding and clotted cream. Yum! A million calories but worth every one.

If you don’t have time to cook up a Jiggs Dinner or make a blueberry duff, just do like a Newfoundlander and grab a couple of Jam Jams and a mug of tea with Carnation tinned milk and a few teaspoons of sugar. You’ll be a Newfoundlander in no time.

If you visit Newfoundland, be sure to stop by these terrific restaurants if you want to taste some delicious Newfoundand food: Norton’s Cove Café in Badger’s Quay, The Bonavista Social Club on the Bonavista Peninsula, Fogo Island Inn on Fogo Island, and Mallard Cottage in St John’s.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The English Wife Author PhotoAdrienne Chinn was born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, grew up in Quebec, and eventually made her way to London, England after a career as a journalist. In England she worked as a TV and film researcher before embarking on a career as an interior designer, lecturer, and writer. When not up a ladder or at the computer, she can usually be found rummaging through flea markets or haggling in the Marrakech souk. Her second novel, The English Wife — a timeslip story set in World War II England and contemporary Newfoundland — is published in June 2020. Her debut novel, The Lost Letter from Morocco, was published by Avon Books UK in 2019. She is currently writing her third novel, The Photographer’s Daughters, the first of a 3-book series, to be published in 2021.

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Guest Posts

War Bringer – Aaron Hodges

Happy book birthday to Aaron Hodges and War Bringer, and welcome to Aaron who has written a fascinating guest post for us today. Many thanks to Aaron, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the birthday celebrations.

BLURB:

Centuries ago, the world fell.
From the ashes rose a terrible new species—the Tangata.
Now they wage war against the kingdoms of man.
And humanity is losing.

Recruited straight from his academy, twenty-year-old Lukys hopes the frontier will make a soldier out of him. But Tangata are massing in the south, and the allied armies are desperate. They will do anything to halt the enemy advance—including sending untrained men and women into battle. Determined to survive, Lukys seeks aid from the only man who seems to care: Romaine, the last warrior of an extinct kingdom.

Meanwhile, the Queen’s Archivist leads an expedition deep beneath the earth. She seeks to uncover the secrets of the Gods. Their magic has been lost to the ages, yet artifacts remain, objects of power that could turn the tide of the war. But salvation is not all that waits beneath the surface. Something else slumbers in the darkness. Something old. Something evil.

PURCHASE LINKS:

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Warbringer Cover Final

Now I will hand you over to Aaron to talk about plotting versus pantsing in fantasy writing (which is perhaps the perfect guest post for me at the moment!)

They say there are two types of writers—plotters (those who carefully plot out every detail of their novel before writing a single word) and pantsers (those who make things up as they go along). in my experience in discussions with my author friends, I’ve found this to be more or less true, with the exception that its less of a duel choice and more of a continuum between the two.

Certainly, there are elements of epic fantasy novels spanning multiple characters and grand plot arcs that are likely to require a certain amount of plotting before hand in order to create a coherent story. That’s not to say it can’t be done—if I’m honest, most of my first trilogy was written while I was pantsing in my early days as a writer. However, that series required a lot of rewriting when the time eventually came to publish it, in order to remove dues ex machina scenes and create a more cohesive plot.

For my later series I’ve managed to find what I think is a good balance between plotting and pantsing. I usually by a pantsing mind map session in which I put down every interesting scene I can think of that might fit into the realms of my story. This usually takes place over the course of a week and I’m always having to jot down ideas on the go, as you never know when one will come to you! After that, I then begin to connect the dots, so to speak, and work out what order the scenes come together. Once I have a skeleton of a plot in place, I’ll start to write outlines for each chapter/scene in the story that will help trigger my writing in the coming months.

At the point I have about two thirds of my chapters outlined, I begin to feel confident about starting to write. On the first draft, while I have those outlines to follow, I often find myself veering off-track because of plot points that didn’t work or characters that develop a life of their own (I’m serious, some of my characters over the years have been a real pain!). For this reason, I generally write my first draft as quickly as possible and don’t worry too much about details in this early version—as often chapters will need to be completely rewritten or even deleted in later drafts.

Which brings me to the second draft. By this point I have usually developed a good understanding of my main characters, so I am able to return and rewrite earlier chapters to ensure a clean plot arc throughout the book. I’ll also add in more important details, names (sometimes I just leave them blank in the first draft!), and settings

Once the second draft is complete, I send it off to my editor who finds all my repeated words and incorrect grammar, before I go over it one more time myself. In the third draft I am mostly just polishing sentences and paragraphs to make sure they flow, as well as hopefully catching spelling mistakes—although my proofreader and ARC readers then have one last read over the manuscript to catch the last of these.

And walluh, I have a complete book!

When I’m working full-time, all of that generally only takes me 3 months from start to finish.

Not bad ay?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Warbringer Aaron Hodges Author PictureAaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Geography, and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job and explore the world. During his travels he picked up an old draft of a novel he once wrote in High School (titled The Sword of Light) and began to rewrite the story. Six months later he published his first novel, Stormwielder, and hasn’t looked back since.

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Book Review

Esme’s Gift – Elizabeth Foster

I am returning to Aeolia as I join the blog tour for Esme’s Gift, book two in Elizabeth Foster’s Middle Grade Fantasy series. Many thanks to Elizabeth, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book. If you haven’t read book one, Esme’s Wish, yet, I recommend reading that before you read any further down this post, as there are unavoidable spoilers for it coming up.

BLURB:

Terror was within. Terror was without.
Like her mother, she was at the water’s mercy.

In the enchanted world of Aeolia, fifteen-year-old Esme Silver faces her hardest task yet. She must master her unruly Gift—the power to observe the past—and uncover the secrets she needs to save her mother, Ariane.

In between attending school in the beguiling canal city of Esperance, Esme and her friends—old and new—travel far and wide across Aeolia, gathering the ingredients for a potent magical elixir.

Their journey takes them to volcanic isles, sunken ruins and snowy eyries, spectacular places fraught with danger, where they must face their deepest fears and find hope in the darkest of places.

Esme’s Gift, the second instalment in the Esme trilogy, is a gripping fantasy adventure for readers 12 years and over.

Fans of Harry Potter will love this book for its similar themes. The genuine friendship of the characters make this book a satisfying read, and hints at a healthy romance in the next book. The conclusion of the trilogy will be greatly anticipated! Sorcha, Goodreads

From dragons diving into volcanoes, Esme and her friends portalling out of art class and deep underwater adventures, Esme’s Gift is quite simply a thrilling and exciting read. Jean, Goodreads

9781925652246-Cover.indd

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

Having enjoyed Esme’s Wish earlier this year, I was looking forward to reading the sequel and getting to know the wonderful world of Aeolia better. The city of Esperance always makes makes me think of Venice and the magical feeling I remember from my visit there – just with fewer tourists, and in Esperance the magic is real.

In Esme’s Gift, we see Esme settling into life in Esperance and starting lessons at Pierpont College. As much as I love Daniel and Lillian, it was great to see Esme making more friends, and interesting to read about her less friendly interactions with some of her fellow students. Watching the students come into their sometimes tricky to control Gifts was very entertaining too. Not least of these unpredictable Gifts is Esme’s, as she races against time to get hold of it before it is too late to save Ariane.

Esme’s Gift is full of drama and action as Esme uncovers more secrets and betrayals on both sides of the portal to Aeolia. Elizabeth Foster has expanded her world beautifully and created so much intrigue that I am left impatiently awaiting the next book!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A-Elizabeth Foster Hi Res 06 (1)I read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago when reading to my own kids reminded me how much I missed getting lost in other worlds. It’s never too late to find and follow your passion! I now have two books published and am about to start writing the third and final story in the Esme series.  My home base is Sydney, where I can often be found running (just kidding – walking) by the water, or scribbling in cafés.

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GIVEAWAY:

Win 3 x pairs of e-books Esme’s Wish & Esme’s Gift (Open Internationally)

Esme's Wish cover[2]

*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 dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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Book Review, Uncategorized

The Summer of Taking Chances – Lynne Shelby

 

BLURB:

Would you take the second chance you’ve always dreamed of?

 It’s been ten years since Emma Stevens last laid eyes on Jake Murray. When he left the small seaside village of South Quay to chase the limelight, Emma’s dreams left with him.

Now Emma is content living a quiet and uneventful life in South Quay. It’s far from the life she imagined, but at least her job at the local hotel has helped heal her broken heart.

But when Jake returns home for the summer to escape the spotlight, Emma’s feelings quickly come flooding back. There’s clearly a connection between them, but Jake has damaged her heart once already – will she ever be able to give him a second chance?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

The SUMMER OF TAKING CHANCES_EBOOKB2 (1) (1)

REVIEW:

The Summer of Taking Chances is the kind of book that I would normally say is great for reading poolside, or on a tropical beach, with an ice cold cocktail in your hand. As that looks unlikely this year, you might just have to settle for a chair in your back garden and a glass or two of something fizzy – either way, this is definitely a book to be enjoyed al fresco. It is a lovely light read to relax with and escape the stresses of the real world for a little while.

Whilst Emma is warm and relatable, and Jake is as irresistible as every leading man should be, it was the supporting cast of characters that really grabbed my attention in this book. They took me right back to my own amateur dramatics days in my teens, with all the politics and back-biting going on, not to mention the speed at which any snippet of gossip could travel around the entire company. I think anyone who has ever been involved in a village club or society will spot elements of people they know within the ranks of the South Quay Players. The catalogue of disasters that befalls the Players did leave me wondering whether someone had perhaps invoked the name of the Scottish play!

All in all, The Summer of Taking Chances is an enjoyable, fun summer read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Summer - Lynne Shelby Author PhotoLynne Shelby writes contemporary women’s fiction/romance. Her debut novel, French Kissing, was published when it won a national writing competition. She has worked at a variety of jobs from stable girl to child actors’ chaperone to legal administrator, but now writes full time. When not writing or reading, Lynne can usually be found at the theatre watching a musical, or exploring a foreign city – Paris, New York, Rome, Copenhagen, Seattle, Athens – writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand. She lives in London with her husband, and has three adult children who live nearby.

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Book Review

The Book of Us – Andrea Michael

Today I am joining the blog tour for the women’s fiction novel, The Book of Us by Andrea Michael. Many thanks to Andrea 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 Book of Us is a story of the complexity of forgiveness and the friendships that change our lives forever. Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Jojo Moyes and Diane Chamberlain.

We’ve got some important things to talk about. It’s time.

Cass and Loll used to be inseparable. They met at university and they made sense, like two halves of a whole. They had planned their lives around each other, writing down their dreams in The Big Book of Our Life – the things they wanted to achieve, the places they’d go after they finished university. But then one night changed everything.

Seven years later, Loll receives a letter from her old friend. The coming year will be the year they both turn 30, but Loll might be making it to 30 alone. Cass has cancer. Loll had believed she would have her whole life to come to terms with Cass’ betrayal, but time is running out. Cass’ final wish is to complete The Big Book of Our Life, but has enough time passed to heal old wounds?

PURCHASE LINKS:

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The Book of Us cover

REVIEW:

As soon as I started reading The Book of Us, I was put in mind of the Bette Midler film, Beaches, with Cass so wild, so full of life, and sweet, gentle Lauren, content to remain on the edges of Cass’s spotlight. That comparison really should have prepared me for what was to come, but I carried on reading, never giving a thought to just how bumpy this particular ride was going to be.

After a truly terrible betrayal, and a six year separation, The Book of Us sees Cass and Lauren slowly finding their way back to each other following major upheavals in both their lives. For two very different women, this was never going to be easy, and the book swings from laughter to tears more than once as they rebuild their friendship from the ruins.

Reading about their adventures through Finland, Spain and Australia reignited my own wanderlust which I thought was long gone, and made me yearn for my own favourite spot in Spain, and all the people I will miss seeing this year. There is just so much life and passion in their travels, and the way Andrea Michaels captures everything, you can almost imagine you are right there with them.

The Book of Us is a heart-breaking, emotional rollercoaster of a book (complete with actual rollercoasters), and one that I recommend reading with a ready supply of tissues, wine and chocolate.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andi-1202-2Andrea Michael writes books to explore complicated relationships. Having trained in using writing for therapy, she really believes in the magic of stories to change your life. Failing that, sparkling wine and obnoxious sing-a-longs also do the trick.

Andrea works in content marketing, and runs Writing for Wellbeing workshops. She lives in Hertfordshire with her fiancé and their crazy cat, and can be found reading in a comfy corner or digging something at the allotment.

You may also know her from her romantic comedies written as A L Michael.

Andrea is represented by Hayley Steed at Madeleine Milburn. The Book of Us is her thirteenth book. She’s hoping it’s lucky.

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Book Review

Winter’s Gift – Florence Keeling

I am delighted to be welcoming Florence Keeling back to my blog today, as I join the blog tour with a review of Winter’s Gift. Many thanks to Florence, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for providing me with a copy of the book, and for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

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

Winter's Gift Cover

REVIEW:

I am a fan of Florence Keeling in all her writing guises. There is something that I find deeply soothing about her writing, and her books put me in mind of Cecelia Ahern. Winter’s Gift was no exception to this, and I was quickly caught up in Bea’s life.

As Bea makes her escape from possibly the worst co-worker ever and relocates to idyllic Bloomsdale for the job of her dreams, we are treated not only to beautiful countryside but also a cast of characters that exude such warmth that it is impossible not to be swept away by their lives. Each character is relatable in their own way, although there were a couple of took me by surprise over the course over the book and made me change my opinion of them.

I am not a huge reader of romantic comedy (although strangely it is my “go to” genre in films), but Winter’s Gift is such a feel good book and was exactly the book I needed to read at the moment, and the sprinkling of magic just made it all the more perfect. It even had me wishing for a canal boat of my own.

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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Guest Posts

Celeste Three Is Missing – Chris Calder

Please give a warm welcome to Chris Calder, as he joins me today as part of the blog tour for Celeste Three is Missing. Many thanks to Chris for taking the time to talk to us, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

The world’s first earth-orbit passenger plane, the sensational Celeste Three, takes off from its base in Arizona, also the only place where it is designed land. On a routine flight the craft disappears.

On board is Viktor Karenkov, billionaire oil magnate who has used his wealth to evade prosecution for a murder he committed years earlier. Gregory Topozian, the murdered man’s friend, has been waiting for a chance to bring Karenkov to justice. With dogged determination and considerable ingenuity, he conceives an audacious plan.

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Celeste Three Is Missing Cover

Now, I’ll hand you over to Chris to tell you all about his upcoming novel.

Following the successful re-launch of my novel Celeste Three is Missing, I am delighted to be able to tell you that the manuscript for my latest book, provisionally entitled Growing Apart, has just been completed.

The first part of the story is set in India. Rupert Chilcott is an English civil servant who is sent there in 1936 to work for the government. He has an affair with a vivacious Anglo-Indian girl who subsequently gives birth to twin boys. But she dies in childbirth while he is in England on leave. When he gets the news, Rupert rushes back to India by air, the quickest way to make the journey. At that time it took over a week (six overnight stops!) and by the time he arrives, one of the boys has already been adopted by a childless couple in Bombay. Rupert takes the other to England.

I have a feeling that you have guessed why the book is called Growing Apart. The twins finally meet in England, when they are twenty-five years old. That happens in a tense scene where one, who does not even know of the existence of the other, is in a life-threatening situation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Celeste Author PhotoAfter ten happy years of retirement in rural France, Chris Calder is back in England. He came late to writing novels, penning his first whilst incarcerated in a French hospital following cancer surgery. At the time he spoke little French. Unable to communicate effectively with the staff, he spent his time fleshing out his first novel. Five more have followed; light thrillers leavened with humour. Best of all, the cancer is now history.

Chris knows that readers of fiction expect to be diverted and entertained. He loves feedback and believes passionately that taking on board readers’ views improves what what he does. You can email him at chris@chriscalder.com. Go on, he’d love to hear from you.

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Extracts

An Implacable Woman – K.T. Findlay

K.T. Findlay makes a welcome return today, sharing an extract of his novel, An Implacable Woman. Many thanks to K.T. for allowing me to share this, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour.

BLURB:

If a tooth costs a tooth and an eye costs an eye

When a man hits his wife, then it’s his turn to die

Furious that the courts and police can’t prevent respected surgeon John Kirby from beating his wife, Sally Mellors steps in to save her. Permanently…

But Grace Kirby isn’t the only one who needs saving and Sally quickly discovers she’s taken on a much bigger job than she’d thought.

With her unique ability to blend justice with fun, Sally sets joyfully about the business of removing the monsters from women’s lives, but is she in danger of becoming a monster herself?

As her friends in the police get ever closer, Sally has some serious questions of her own to answer.

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An Implacable Woman 14 April 2020 For Rachel

EXTRACT:

In this extract, Sally is talking to a new friend, little girl Connie, who Sally thinks has fabulous potential as an artist. Unfortunately, Connie has the most ghastly mother who can’t see the good in any of her three children, but especially not in Connie. Sally decides to give the three children a tool they can fight back with…

Roger’s eyebrows shot into his hairline. ‘Mummy tells lies?’

Sally shook her head. ‘Not lies exactly, it’s just that she’s not always right. Watch out now.’

Mrs Taylor pushed aside the last branch, saw her children clustered around Sally, and walked over. She bent over to look at the painting. ‘That’s better than the one you were doing before.’ she said begrudgingly. ‘You might even be able to sell that one.’

‘Then I’ll put it in my next exhibition.’ smiled Sally.

‘Exhibition? Who are you then?’ demanded Mrs Taylor.

‘Sally Mellors, professional artist.’

Mrs Taylor blinked. ‘There’s one of yours in the town library!’

Sally nodded. ‘That would be Harriston then? The autumn leaves on the town street? An oil painting? I bought my new kitchen with that one!’

Mrs Taylor blinked again. ‘You really are her!’ Then she looked back at the painting. ‘I don’t think you’ll get a new kitchen with that one, but you might get a week’s groceries.’

Roger pulled his mum’s blouse. ‘But mum, it isn’t hers!’

 ‘Don’t be silly Roger, of course it’s hers!’ Mrs Taylor snapped, slapping his hand away.

Sally laughed. ‘No, he’s right. Connie painted it. Isn’t it fabulous?’

Mrs Taylor’s face clouded instantly. ‘Connie’s? I don’t believe it!’ She bent down to look at it more closely, then shot back up with a snort. ‘Humph. You painted it, and she signed it. That’s not a nice thing to do to a child, teaching her to lie!’

Sally’s smile vanished. ‘Connie painted the whole thing, in just five minutes too. And it really is as good as you think it is, and it will go in my next exhibition, under her own name.’

Mrs Taylor glared at her. ‘I will not be lied to! We’re leaving. Children, get yourselves cleaned up!’ Then she stalked off to the car where her husband was busy pulling out the lunch things. ‘You can pack that lot back up right now! We’re not staying here tonight!’

Connie looked despairingly at Sally. ‘What’s going to happen?’

Sally rested her hand gently on the girl’s shoulder. ‘I will keep this safe. It will go in the exhibition, under your name, not mine, but it won’t be for sale. I’ll keep it myself, until you’re grown up enough to be able to come to see me. Then you can have it back, and if you want to, I’ll teach you how to be an artist.’

‘Really?’ whispered Connie. ‘Do you really mean that?’

‘Yes, I promise. I really mean it Connie Taylor. Now children, your mother just showed you that while she might think she knows everything, sometimes she’s dead wrong, and it can hurt you. Do you want her to show you again?’

The three children nodded, wide eyed.

‘Okay,’ whispered Sally, ‘your mum told you to get cleaned up, and you already are, right? So you’re waiting for mum and dad to get finish packing before you get in the car? I say again, you’re the ones waiting for her, right?’

Three more nods.

‘Well I bet you each a fish and chip supper, that when she’s finished packing, she’ll call you over and tell you that you’ve made everyone late for lunch.’

The three children looked over at the car where dad was putting the very last bucket into the boot. Mrs Taylor called over to them. ‘Come along children, you’re making us late for lunch!’

Roger’s jaw dropped. ‘How did you know?’

Sally gave him a wink. ‘Remember I asked you to pay attention to everything from now on, and watch what your mother says and does? That’s why. You never made anyone late for lunch, and Connie painted that beautiful painting. Your mum isn’t always right. If you know when she’s wrong, you can take better care of each other. Now, off you go, and God bless. And Connie? I’ll always be here for you when you’re ready! Just remember my name, Sally Mellors.’

Emma rested her chin on Sally’s shoulder as the car drove away up the hill. ‘You’re going to go to hell for that. You do know that don’t you?’

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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