Book Review

Fantasy Short Stories – Suzanne Rogerson

I am delighted to be welcoming Suzanne Rogerson back to my blog today with a collection of short stories. If you aren’t familiar with Suzanne’s previous books, you can read all about them here and here.

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A collection of short stories featuring favourite characters from Visions of Zarua and the Silent Sea Chronicles, plus a glimpse into the new series, Starlight Prophecy.

The Guardian

With an assassin picking off wizards one-by-one, Kalesh visits Cassima, a former student, hoping to persuade her to re-join the Royal Wizards and use their protection to keep her family safe.

Kalesh’s newest charge, Paddren, has strange visions which link to a past event known only to a select few. The knowledge hidden in Paddren’s visions is invaluable so Kalesh must guard the boy at any cost.

Can Kalesh keep his students off the assassin’s radar long enough for his order to stop the killer?

Garrick the Protector

Fifteen-year-old Garrick is helping at his uncle’s farm when his cousin’s illegal use of magic threatens the family’s safety.

Mara is in immediate danger from the Assembly who deem all magic as a threat. The only safe place for her is the Turrak Mountains where exiled mystics have found sanctuary alongside the island’s Sentinel.

Can Garrick get Mara to safety before the Assembly catch up with them?

War Wounds

Conscripted to fight off raiders, Calder finds the months of bloody battle unleash a sixth sense buried inside him.

Finally released from duty, he travels home and encounters a mysterious woman who insists his life is destined to serve a higher purpose. Calder rejects her claims, wanting only yo return to a simple existence with his wife.

But can Calder pick up his old life when the powers within him have been stirred? And why does he feel such misgivings about his return?

All three stories give readers a tantalising glimpse into the fantasy worlds created by Suzanne Rogerson.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Purchase Link

REVIEW:

It has been a while since I first discovered Suzanne’s books, and honestly, I had forgotten just how great they are. Suzanne is a master world builder, and this collection of short stories featuring fascinating insights into much loved characters made me want to go back and read her entire back catalogue again.

Each story in this collection is just enough to whet your appetite for Suzanne’s full length novels. They are perfectly crafted stories in their own right, but I am sure you won’t be able to resist looking for more.

Consisting of short stories and excerpts from Visions of Zarua and the Lost Sentinel (plus an exciting sneaky peak at her new series), this book is the perfect introduction to Suzanne’s writing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her husband, two children and a crazy cocker spaniel.

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

Now an author of four novels including the Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy and her debut, Visions of Zarua, Suzanne hopes the dreaded ‘W’ word will never rear its ugly head again!

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

Suzanne collects books, is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles and old ruins whilst being immersed in the past. She likes to combine her love of nature and photography on family walks, but most of all she loves to escape with a great film, binge watch TV shows, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.

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Book Review

The Write Balance – Bonni Goldberg

Happy Blog Blitz Day to Bonni Goldberg and The Write Balance. Many thanks to Bonni for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the blitz.

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Bonni Goldberg’s The Write Balance introduces you to alternative perspectives and motivation for lasting creative fulfillment. This companion book to the beloved bestseller, Room toWrite is filled with encouragement, tools, examples and exercises.

Through years of teaching writing in workshops and in classrooms, Bonni has seen that the writers who are most passionate and grounded in their Writing Self embrace three aspects of the writing process: nurturing ideas, revising to best communicate those ideas, and completing the writing cycle by going public.

In this powerful guide, Bonni invites you to explore these creative stages which are essential to satisfying your Writing Self.

Use The Write Balance to:

  • Find Fulfillment as a Writer
  • Explore Creative Writing
  • Add to Your Writer’s Toolbox for Perspective
  • Overcome Writer’s Block
  • Teach Creative Writing
  • Inspire Your Writing Group
  • Give as Gifts to the Writers in Your Life

PURCHASE LINKS:

Purchase Link

REVIEW:

This book came into my life at a time when I had lost my way with writing. In fact it had been months since I had written a single word. The Write Balance helped me to reframe how I view my writing and reignited my passion for it. It almost felt as though the book gave me permission to enjoy writing and take the pressure off of myself.

While reading, I was struck with an idea for a new novel, in a different genre to my existing drafts, and I found that I was excited to get pen to paper (or rather fingers to keyboard) for the first time in a long time. As I work through this new project, I know I will be putting Bonni’s ideas and exercises into practice. I am very much at the percolating stage at the moment, but I can already see that the chapters on revisions and going public will be a great help to me.

The Write Balance is jam-packed with exercises and ideas. Not all of them will be for you, I am sure, but I am confident that there is something for every writer within the pages of this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bonni Goldberg is the author of The Write Balance: How to Embrace Percolation, Revision & Going Public, the companion book to the best-seller Room to Write: Daily Invitations to a Writer’s Life. Bonni is an award-winning poet and writer. She is the creator of the 2 Minute Journals™ series. Both traditionally and indie published, her books include non-fiction for adults and fiction and non-fiction for young readers. Her essays and blog posts can be found in numerous print and online publications.

Bonni teaches creative writing at colleges and leads writing workshops internationally for all ages. She knows everyone is creative, and she supports people to discover and share their authentic, meaningful and imaginative experiences through words. Whether through her writings or through teaching, her methods and perspectives continue to empower thousands of adults, families, and children.

Bonni is also a Jewish educator. She speaks, writes, and leads workshops on Jewish topics such as Jewish identity, rituals and antisemitism at Jewish women’s events, JCCs, and conferences. 

Bonni Goldberg lives in Portland, Oregon with her partner in life, and some creative projects, artist Geo Kendall.

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Book Review

Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl – Joya Goffney

Today I am joining the blog tour for Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl by Joya Goffney. Many thanks to Joya for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

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Monique lives a perfect life as a preacher’s daughter, and girlfriend of the town’s golden boy. But its not that simple. She’s torn between her parents, who want her to remain their pure, virginal daughter, and her boyfriend, Dom, who wants to explore the more intimate side of their relationship.

Tired of waiting, Dom breaks up with Monique, spurring her to discover she has a medical condition that make her far from perfect. With the help of Sasha, an overly zealous church girl, and Reggie, the town’s bad boy, she concocts a plan to win Dom back. But along the way, she must face some home truths: maybe she shouldn’t be fixing her body to please a boy, maybe Sasha is the friend she needed all along and maybe Reggie isn’t so bad after all…

PURCHASE LINKS:

Purchase Link

REVIEW:

Everyone says that you should never judge a book by its cover, but when this pink and yellow wonder leapt off the web page at me, I just knew I needed to be a part of the tour. I mean, look at it – it is just too eye-catching to resist. Even better, the story nestled within the pages more than lived up to expectations. I would even go as far as to say that Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl has been one of my favourite reads so far in 2022.

Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl is a fantastic tale of unconditional love, empowerment, and learning to be comfortable in your own skin. It is the book I wish I could have read when I was Monique’s age and discovering who I was. The characters are vibrant, if flawed, and we see more than one of them grow as a person over the course of the book – and I don’t just mean the teenagers. Of all the characters, I defy anyone to resist the utterly charming Reggie. For me, it was love at first sight, and that love only grew as the story progressed.

Aside from all this brilliance, Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl also serves to raise awareness of a medical condition that could certainly do with more light being shone on it. I love that this is being highlighted to teenage girls in a way that gets the information to them at the same time as making it incredibly relatable. The sparkling dynamic between Reggie and Sasha prevents the subject from becoming too heavy or clinical, and adds some much needed humour to the situation.

By pure coincidence, the day that Rachel sent out the invites for this blog tour, I had also purchased Joya’s other book, Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry. After reading Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl I can’t wait to read it, and I just know I will love it!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Joya Goffney grew up in New Waverly, a small town in East Texas. In high school, she challenged herself with to-do lists full of risk-taking items like ‘hug a random boy’ and ‘eat a cricket,’ which inspired her debut novel, Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry. With a passion for Black social psychology, she moved out of the countryside to attend the University of Texas in Austin, where she still resides.

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Book Review

The Fatal Oath – Michael L Lewis

Today I am kicking off the blog tour for the latest instalment in the Oath series by Michael L Lewis, The Fatal Oath. Many thanks to Michael 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.

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1957. Blackleigh is an elite public school for boys in Yorkshire where prejudice and seething hatreds are never far below the surface. Violence erupts against any Junior who the Seniors deem unfit.

Jonathan Simon is 16, in his third year, and is self-conscious about being Jewish and having a birthmark on his cheek. He knows that: 1) The school code of conduct mandates no snitching, 2) The student Prefects, not the faculty, have absolute power to discipline and 3) Mr. Paul Wood, the temporary Headmaster, is weak and ineffectual.

Jonathan meets Bobby Stuart, an American transfer student, who is also worried about being accepted. Their friendship binds them together as they soon run afoul three ruthless and ambitious Seniors in the House; Gabriel, Murray and Hausman – also known by their fanatic followers as ‘The Black Armbands’.

As the pressure mounts, ambitions grow, friendships become closer and scheming increases. As for Jonathan, the year is only beginning…

PURCHASE LINKS:

Bookshop.org

Amazon UK

Waterstones

REVIEW:

Having read and enjoyed both The Oath and The Wicked Oath, I was keen to find out what Jonathan Simon’s third year at Blackleigh had in store for him. With the departure of many of his tormentors from previous years, surely this year would be a better one – or would it?

The arrival of new students at the school means new friendships for Jonathan, and with a potential new love interest, everything seems to be looking good for a positive year. However, ambitious students with their own agendas soon lead to a vicious power struggle. With the headmaster more than happy to leave discipline to the prefects and turning a blind eye to exactly what punishments are being dished out, Blackleigh quickly becomes a dangerous place to be for any student who doesn’t fit the ideal, with groups of vigilantes hunting down any “undesirable” student unlucky enough to be caught on their own.

Whilst the occurrences in the previous books were shocking enough, The Fatal Oath has an almost Lord of the Flies feel to it, with mob rule taking over, and an adult presence being almost entirely absent. As with the previous books, the actions of certain factions within the school make for uncomfortable but compelling reading.

New students, new prefects and a new headmaster combine with old grudges to make this year at Blackleigh the most dangerous yet.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michael L. Lewis was born and raised in England. After preparatory school in London, he was educated at Stowe School, Buckingham. This is the third novel in the Oath series, taking readers on a journey through the lives of three dynamic schoolboys between the ages of 13 and 15, and the extraordinary triumphs and tragedies that they experience. Michael now lives in Los Angeles, California, has a law degree, and writes full-time. He was on the Board of Trustees for several schools and has been a member of the same book club for twenty-five years.

Michael says, “The books in the ‘Oath’ series are all inspired by my incredible experiences at a Boarding School in the North of England and on School Boards in Los Angeles. Each book in the series stands alone with totally separate main themes united by the exploration of prejudice, the unequal playing field in education, and the abuse of human rights. They will appeal to adults as well as young adults and are entirely set in an elite public school in Yorkshire.”

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Book Review

The Custard Tart Cafe By The Sea – Isabella May

I am delighted to once again be kicking off the blog tour for a delicious Foodie Romance from Isabella May, as The Custard Tart Cafe By The Sea goes on tour today with Rachel’s Random Resources. Many thanks to Isabella for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

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Willow has opened a custard tart cafe at the end of a popular English seaside pier. Her unique and magical spin on the Portuguese pastel de nata has customers queuing outside the door to taste them.

Tiago’s grandparents are purveyors of The Real Deal: authentic custard tarts made in the Algarve region of Portugal, where his family have been lovingly baking them for centuries. When he moves to England for a new job and chances upon Willow’s wondrous wares, he is out for war. At least that’s his intention. But when serendipity brings Willow and Tiago back together at the departures desk in Bristol airport – destination Faro – outrage isn’t the only spark that flies…

Weston-super-Mare and Portugal are about to collide!

PURCHASE LINK:

Order here!

REVIEW:

It’s no secret that Isabella May is one of my favourite authors, and she triumphs once more in the latest instalment of her Foodie Romance books. The conversational style of writing means that you are drawn straight in to Willow’s quirky personality making her as hard to resist as the custard confections she sells. Just the thought of the delicious pastéis de nata took me back to a fantastic girls weekend in Lisbon – the discovery of these little pastries being one of the highlights. Settling down to read this book on the first day of a diet was a seriously bad idea – I should know better by now with Isabella’s books!

Willow is supported by a cast of colourful characters, with Frank and Reggie being particular favourites of mine. I can just picture Frank sat at his regular table with a pile of custard tarts, and I loved his decision to pay it forward in tarts to the most deserving customers. As for Tiago, well, he is just as delicious as Willow’s custardy creations!

As well as tempting the taste-buds, Isabella May also likes to ignite the travel bug, this time whisking us away to sunny Portugal. Whilst my travels in this country have so far been limited to beautiful Lisbon, I found it so easy to picture the remote quinta Willow and her friends holidayed in, and the gorgeous sounding town of Tavira.

Although Isabella May’s Foodie Romances are not a series as such, regular readers of her books will notice that some characters have a tendency of popping up in other people’s stories. I love this little touch, and so was very happy to see a certain Bath-based gelateria getting a mention!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. She grew up in Somerset on Glastonbury’s ley lines and loves to feature her quirky English hometown in her stories.

After a degree in Modern Languages and European Studies at UWE, Bristol (and a year working abroad in Bordeaux and Stuttgart), Isabella bagged an extremely jammy and fascinating job in children’s publishing… selling foreign rights for novelty, board, pop-up and non-fiction books all over the world; in every language from Icelandic to Korean, Bahasa Indonesian to Papiamento!

All of which has fuelled her curiosity and love of international food and travel – both feature extensively in her romcoms.

Isabella is also a Pranic Healer and a stillbirth mum.

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Blog

SuSTYLEability Cover Reveal

The wonderful Lexi Rees is back with another activity book, and I am delighted to be taking part in the cover reveal for it, not least because this one is a subject close to my own heart. Here comes all the info, before I share the cover with you all.

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suSTYLEability (noun)
The art of making small changes to the way we dress in order to make big changes in the world.

If you love fashion and want to live more sustainably, this activity book will help you create a wardrobe which reflects your personal style AND is mindful of the impact the fashion industry has on the environment and human welfare.

  • Learn the shocking facts about fashion
  • Make better choices when shopping
  • Develop your own unique style
  • Have fun with friends and family
  • Discover unique ways to upstyle and upcycle your wardrobe

Give old clothes a second life with creative crafts

PRE-ORDER LINK:

Order here

And now, drum roll please, because here comes the cover!!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lexi Rees was born in Scotland but now lives down south where she’s slave to carrot obsessed gelding, a frisky mare, a dog who’s convinced he’s not been fed in a month, and a house of hungry boys.

She writes action-packed adventures and fun activity books for children. She’s passionate about reducing her footprint on the planet and becoming more self-sufficient.

She has an active programme of school visits and other events, is a Book PenPal for three primary schools, and runs a free online #kidsclub and newsletter which includes book recommendations and creative writing activities.

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Meet the Author

Hunter’s Rules – Val Penny

I am joining the blog tour for Hunter’s Rules, the latest instalment in the Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series by Val Penny, and I have a treat for you all as I am being joined for a chat by Val herself.

Hi Val. Let’s start with an easy one. Why don’t you us a bit about yourself?

I am an American author living in SW Scotland. I have two adult daughters of whom I am justly proud and live with my husband and cat. I have a Law degree from Edinburgh University and my MSc from Napier University.

I have had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However, I have not yet achieved either of my childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, I have turned my hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels.

What inspired you to start writing?

I took early retirement when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and there were times when I suffered severe side effects from my treatment. I could not go out, spend time with friends or indulge in many of my favourite hobbies, but watching daytime television gets very old very fast, so I turned to reading. It was the only thing I had the energy to do and could do safely.

I read voraciously, as I always have and after a while, I began to feel a little better and decided to start reviewing the books I read in a blog www.bookreviewstoday.info I enjoyed doing that. Then, as I began to feel better still, I got restless, but was still did not well enough to do very much and I complained to my long-suffering husband about getting bored. It was then he challenged me: ‘If you know so much about what makes a good book, why don’t you write one?’ I did laugh.

How many books have you written and published?

So far, there are six books in my Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series and I am presently writing the second novel in my series of Jane Renwick Thrillers. I have also written and published a nonfiction book, Let’s Get Published.

Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?

I think Hunter’s Rules is my favourite because it is actually the continuation of a short story that I contributed to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland. Of course, both stories can be read independently, but I hope that those who read both will enjoy the conceit.

How do you choose the names of your characters?

I have always enjoyed unusual and interesting names. From those I have heard over the years, I often choose the first name from one place and the surname from another.

Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?

Definitely Tim! He is resourceful and strong enough to build a shelter, good company and easy on the eye.

Who is your favourite author and which of their books is your favourite, and why?

I enjoy most crime fiction that I read and especially enjoy Erin Kelly’s books. She wrote the novel of the TV series Broadchurch. I also enjoyed her novel He Said/She Said.

What is the first thing you can remember writing?

The first book I remember writing was a handwritten story called ‘The Douglas Family’ when I was eight or nine. I still have the jotter.

If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go (backwards or forwards!)?

Gosh, I am not sure I am brave enough to go forwards, but if I went backwards, I would like to find out who killed JFK!

If you could have one conversation with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I would have loved to meet Mother Theresa. I think she would be fascinating to talk to and learn from.

What are your favourite things to do?

I enjoy travelling – it is said by my family that I would go to the opening of a paper bag! I also like to swim, knit and spend time with friends and family. However, most of my time is spent reading or writing.

What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?

I was walking along the Mall in Washington D.C. with a friend from Virginia, only to notice another friend from Edinburgh sitting on the bench we were approaching. It was exciting and great fun.

If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?

Persevere. Keep writing and enjoy meeting other like minded people.

Name one book you think everyone should read?

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. He is mixed race and was born in apartheid South Africa when that was illegal. He tells his story with humour and intelligence. It is a book well worth reading.

And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?

Hunter’s Rules is the sixth novel in bestselling The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series. In it a bloody scene brings Hunter and Meera’s romantic plans to an abrupt end.

A young woman was attacked in a hotel lift. She has life changing injuries, but she is alive. Hunter notes that her wounds are like those inflicted on two women who previously died. 

Can Meera keep the injured woman alive long enough for her to identify her assailant? Is the same person responsible for all three crimes? When Hunter is identified as a suspect in the crime, can he establish his innocence and lead his team to solve the crime and keep Edinburgh safe?

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me Val. 

If you would like to purchase a copy of Hunter’s Rules, here are the all important purchase links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

You can find Val all over social media with the following links:

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Giveaway to Win a PDF of Hunter’s Rules by Val Penny (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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Book Review

Horsing Around – Lexi Rees

I am delighted to be welcoming Lexi Rees back to my blog today with another fab activity book. Many thanks to Lexi 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 blog blitz.

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Calling all pony fans!

This journal and activity book is bursting with pony-fuelled fun. Whether you’re preparing for your first lesson or out collecting rosettes every weekend, this book has everything you need. 

✓ set your riding goals and track your progress

✓ record your best riding moments

✓ tackle the horsey games and puzzles

✓ test your equestrian knowledge

✓ giggle at the funniest horse jokes

✓ try the fun pony-themed arts and crafts

✓ save your precious pony memories

Can you complete all the challenges and become a riding superstar?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Win a signed copy of Horsing Around (UK Only)

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REVIEW:

There’s no denying that when I was a horse mad tween, I would have killed to have had a book like this to log my riding adventures in each week. In fact, it makes me want to dust off my riding boots and get back in the saddle, just so I can fill in all the fun activities and journal pages.

I absolutely love the weekly and monthly pages with lots of space to record your progress, illustrated with cute pictures, jokes and fun horsey facts. I was itching to dive in to the beautiful colouring pages and to try my hand at the fun activities that are featured throughout the book.

What is particularly great about this book is that it is completely gender neutral, a big step away from the abundance of pink pony books aimed solely at girls that you usually see. I wasn’t a particularly girly girl growing up, so the colour scheme of this book would have been right up my street, and I know it would have appealed to the boys that I rode with too.

If you have a pony crazy young person in your life, this book would make the perfect Christmas present, ready for them to log an entire year of riding fun in 2022.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lexi Rees was born in Scotland but now lives down south where she’s slave to a carrot obsessed gelding, a frisky mare, a dog who’s convinced he’s not been fed in a month, and a house of hungry boys.

She writes action-packed adventures and fun activity books for children.

She wrote Horsing Around in response to a predominance of pink in the existing pony book market which her own son found off-putting.

She’s passionate about developing a love of reading and writing in children and, as well as her creative writing workbook, she has an active programme of school visits and other events, is a Book PenPal for three primary schools, and runs a free online #kidsclub and newsletter which includes book recommendations and creative writing activities.

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Book Review

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar – Isabella May

I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for the latest book by one of my favourite authors, the lovely Isabella May. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar sees us heading back to Glastonbury with old friends, and is a book I was desperate to get my hands on from the very second it was announced! Many thanks to Isabella 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:

River and Alice miss Somerset. Christmas isn’t Christmas without family and friends, even when you live in quaint Cornwall.

When River’s Aunt Sheba dies unexpectedly, leaving him her ancient VW campervan, nostalgia nudges him and Alice back to Glastonbury – and the surrounding villages – to rediscover their roots whilst serving the most decadent hot chocolate and delectable gingerbread from their renovated ‘bar on wheels’.

A bar on wheels complete with a fold-up stage to host local talent competitions rivaling anything Simon Cowell could dream up, even if he’d gorged on a truckle of Cheddar cheese!

As the villagers sip their cocoa and ice their gingerbread houses amidst the festive backdrop of song, dance, and slightly more unconventional talents, River and Alice find themselves in an unexpected race against time:

Zara, their chocolate supplier is leaving Glastonbury on the twelfth day of Christmas, keen to put a string of disastrous relationships behind her to make a fresh start.

Bruno, their gregarious and gorgeous baking supplier is secretly smitten with Zara – ticking every box on her New Year’s wish list.

If only they can get them together for one experimental kiss under the mistletoe…

They’ve even enlisted their customers’ help in their mission to wrap this budding romance up in all the jingle bells and whistles. How hard can it be?

So, ho, ho VERY tricky, as it turns out…

PURCHASE LINKS:

Order here

REVIEW:

When I was choosing my next read recently, I was feeling decidedly not okay and in need of something to lift my spirits. Remembering I had the new Isabella May cheered me up almost instantly – her books always feel like a big hug anyway, and one about hot chocolate and Christmas, featuring one of my favourite former rock stars was just what the doctor ordered. River’s thoughts on the correct way to apply cream and jam to a scone had me chuckling to myself just a few sentences in to the book (he’s doing it wrong, by the way), and I knew this book would have me feeling better in no time. It was wonderful being back with River and Alice, meeting up with friends old and new, friends who I laughed with and even shed a tear or two with.

In Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar, Isabella May has captured my ideal Christmas, full of warmth, love, and the magic that can be created when communities come together. I could practically smell the hot chocolate and gingerbread as I was reading. I adore the attention to the smaller details that Isabella adds to her books – a prime example here, and I am potentially showing my age here, is the fact that Alice’s ponies all had My Little Pony names. I absolutely loved this, largely because the name’s Alice had chosen almost perfectly matched my own My Little Pony collection as a child.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar is a read in one sitting kind of book, as long as that sitting involves a cosy blanket, an enormous mug of hot chocolate and a pile of sweet treats. Move over The Cake Fairies, I do believe I have a new favourite Isabella May book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. She grew up on Glastonbury’s ley lines and loves to feature her quirky English hometown in her stories.

After a degree in Modern Languages and European Studies at UWE, Bristol (and a year working abroad in Bordeaux and Stuttgart), Isabella bagged an extremely jammy and fascinating job in children’s publishing… selling foreign rights for novelty, board, pop-up and non-fiction books all over the world; in every language from Icelandic to Korean, Bahasa Indonesian to Papiamento!

All of which has fuelled her curiosity and love of international food and travel – both feature extensively in her cross-genre novels, fused with a dollop of romcom, and a sprinkle of magical realism.

Isabella is also a Level 4 Pranic Healer and a stillbirth mum.

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Make sure you visit the other blogs taking part in the tour for more about River and Alice’s adventures.

Guest Posts

Book Review Log Book – Jennifer Gilmour

I am delighted to be welcoming the lovely Jennifer Gilmour back to my blog today with something a little different to her previous books. I will be telling you all about her Book Review Log Book in just a moment, but first let me hand you over to Jennifer who has kindly written a guest post on using creativity to raise awareness of domestic abuse.

GUEST POST:

I have always been a creative person but never had the opportunity to use it for something important. It meant that after school and college I didn’t really tap into my creative side that often, it was no longer needed to create art, write stories or even act.

When I was at University I ended up entering an abusive relationship and I was in that relationship for several years. Abuse is progressive but looking back I can see the subtle signs that lead to the control he had over me. He controlled my work life and sadly I gave up my studies at University, there were many factors to this but the fact I worked at the same place didn’t help. Things changed when I had children and we had to work different shifts, I was relieved as it offered space however after every shift I would arrive home to an interrogation. Things got worse when he found out I had given work colleagues a life after their shift as it was on my way home, he would refuse to sit in the car for 24 hours because they had sat in his seat. Eventually I reduced my working hours to just 4 hours a week and had hardly any money.

At the time a friend of mine was expecting and as a gift I decided to make a nappy cake, I was always creative so I thought I would give it a go. It followed with a friend of hers asking if I could make one for her for a fee, that’s when I opened up my first business and this was the key to my freedom. Despite why I set up the business it offered me the opportunity to be creative and I had so much enjoyment from this. At the beginning stages of a business you do everything and I enjoyed putting together graphics of my work.

The business gave me a focus and an excuse to be in the dining room away from him on an evening. I started networking with people online and grew my Facebook page to 4,000 likes in just over a year. I went to craft fairs and didn’t care that he wasn’t going to support me by looking after the children, I took them with me and juggled it all.

When I finally fled the relationship and moved back to my home town I spent time figuring out how I was going to go forward with my life. I was lucky enough to access support and I went onto a recovery programme called The Recovery Toolkit. This was a big turning point for me because I not only had all the tools to live my new life but I also discovered how common domestic abuse is (1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men). That was the moment I knew I needed to help raise awareness of domestic abuse and that was the start of my writing journey.

My first book was all about educating through a form of entertainment, Isolation Junction, because I knew I had to reach into people’s lives without the jargon. My creativity streak came back and I started to build my own website and raise awareness in different ways.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and each year I try to do something different, I’ve done an Instagram challenge, last year I lit Hull City Centre purple and this year I am tweeting each day what I have learnt since leaving. You can find me on Twitter and most social platforms as: @JenLGilmour.

At this point you are probably wondering how my latest publication ‘Book Review Log Book’ fits in with raising awareness. The book itself is a journal style and right at the back there is a nod to my domestic abuse publications and advocacy. It’s small but it’s still there, sometimes we don’t need to be blunt about it but subtle. In terms of awareness, it could reach more readers so you never know how one book can roll onto reading another.

I don’t think I will ever stop being creative in raising awareness of domestic abuse, TikTok has been my latest go to platform to express my lived experiences. I feel that it not only helps others but it helps me personally because even several years later I am still working my way through the triggers, flashbacks and loss. I am building my life up and I share my journey openly online.

BLURB:

Keep a track of your reading progress and your book reviews in one place:

  • Reading Goals
  • To Be Read List
  • Book Release Dates
  • Word Cloud
  • Your Reviews
  • Your Notes

PURCHASE LINKS:

Purchase Link

REVIEW:

Now, I snapped up a copy of this book the second I heard about it, and I am so glad I did. Of course, like any good notebook and journal hoarder, I am now too scared to write in it in case I spoil it. But, with enough space for a year’s worth of reviews, and a handy release date calendar, I have decided that this is going to be my “go to” book log for 2022. I even have new pens specifically for the purpose. It is a fab book with a wonderfully clear layout, and would make the perfect Christmas present for that special bookworm in your life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jennifer Gilmour is an author and advocate for women in abusive relationships, using her own experiences of domestic abuse as a catalyst to bring awareness and to help others. Jennifer has published two publications, Isolation Junction and Clipped Wings which have both been Amazon Best Sellers and received awards. Jennifer speaks at events across the UK and continues to raise awareness through her blog posts, public speaking, radio interviews and social media.

Most Informative Blogger Award 2018 (Bloggers Bash Annual Awards)
UK & European Award for using Social Media for Good 2019 (Social Day: Social Media Marketing Awards)

Jennifer says: “Together we are Louder”.

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