Saturday, 29 October 2016

The Handsworth Times by Sharon Duggal

 
 
About - The Handsworth Times
 

 
Mukesh Agarwal sits alone in the Black Eagle pub, unaware that a riot is brewing or that Billy, his youngest son, is still out on his bike ...A mile away in the family home in Church Street, Anila, one of the three Agarwal girls, is reading Smash Hits and listening to Radio One as she sprawls across the bottom bunk, oblivious to the monumental tragedy that is about to hit her family ...It is 1981 and Handsworth is teetering on the brink of collapse. Factories are closing, unemployment is high, the National Front are marching and the neglected inner cities are ablaze as riots breakout across Thatcher's fractured Britain. The Agarwals are facing their own nightmares but family, pop music, protest, unexpected friendships and a community that refuses to disappear all contribute to easing their personal pain and that of Handsworth itself.THE HANDSWORTH TIMES is a story of loss and transition, and pulling together because ultimately, there is such a thing as society.
 
My Review of The Handsworth Times
 
The Handsworth Times is a raw and emotional read that draws you in from the very first page. Set in the early 80's, we are taken back in time to when there where no smartphones, internet and when people relied upon their local community and newspapers to find out the local gossip and news stories of the day. I loved this book for its nostalgia, lyrical storytelling but ultimately because at its heart was the story of a family learning to live with loss and prejudice.
 
The story opens with the father and head of the household, Mukesh Agarwal, sitting alone in a pub in the Handsworth area of Birmingham. He appears to be a lonely man, sat alone with just his thoughts and as the story progressed, my sorrow for him grew. It is while he is sat in the Black Eagle pub, that the riot begins and which ultimately leads to a tragedy within the family.
 
Although set in the 80's, this book could very well be set in modern day Britain. The issues that surround migrants, post Brexit and how we are now a nation that both embraces and fights against ethnic diversity, could be transferred so easily into this book. The problems within society have not changed, they have just been given different labels.
 
So the Agarwal family live in the Handsworth area of Birmingham that is home to many different cultures and belief systems, and it is because of the tragedy that the family endures, that these different cultures come together, in a way that would not have been possible before. This is a book about community, about how a community can divide itself because of its different belief systems, race, culture etc., but that at the end of the day, when a tragedy  occurs and that particular community is on the brink of collapse, the only way to fight and to stand up for what you believe in is to stand together.
 
This book is full of wonderfully captured characters. The mother, who keeps the home together is a strong and independent woman who finds her inner strength when those around her lose their focus and love of life. She was by far my favourite character. However, I also thought that all of the children in the book had their own distinct voice and story to tell. Together through all of the various different storylines that run throughout the book, we get a glimpse into a life that was dominated by prejudice, social insecurity and poverty. On paper, you would think that this would mean that the book was somehow despondent and a tale of how life used to be for those who where less well off - living hand to mouth, but this is not the case.
 
Handsworth Times is an uplifting book about the importance of family, friendships and community. Above all else, this book makes you think about what you value most in life - and the answer should always be that of family.
 
The Handsworth Times can be bought from Amazon here
 
About Sharon Duggal
 
Sharon Duggal was born to parents who immigrated from the Punjab, India and she grew up in and around Handsworth, Birmingham. She lived in London for many years and now lives in Brighton & Hove. She is a writer, campaigner, community radio presenter (alongside one of her sons), a daughter, sister, mother and partner, amongst other things. She works in arts and literature development and has an MPhil in Creative Writing from the University of Sussex. The Handsworth Times is her first novel.
 
 
 

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Devil You Know by Terry Tyler



About - The Devil You Know

Every serial killer is someone's friend, spouse, lover or child....

Young women are being murdered in the Lincolnshire town of Lyndford, where five people fear someone close to them might be the monster the police are searching for.
One of them is right.

Juliet sees an expert's profile of the average serial killer and realises that her abusive husband, Paul, ticks all the boxes.

Maisie thinks her mum's new boyfriend seems too good to be true. Is she the only person who can see through Gary's friendly, sensitive façade?

Tamsin is besotted with her office crush, Jake. Then love turns to suspicion...

Steve is used to his childhood friend, Dan, being a loud mouthed Lothario with little respect for the truth. But is a new influence in his life leading him down a more sinister path?

Dorothy's beloved son, Orlando, is keeping a secret from her—a chilling discovery forces her to confront her worst fears.

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is a character-driven psychological drama that will keep you guessing until the very end.


 
My Review of The Devil You  Know
 
The Devil You Know is a character driven psychological drama that will have you on the edge of your seat. I could not put this book down. Once I had read the first page - I was hooked. If you love intelligent and insightful crime novels, then this is the book for you.

The Devil You Know is delivered from five different viewpoints: those of a mother, a friend, a  daughter, a wife and a colleague. When I first saw the 'list of contents' displaying a series of names, I thought that I would become confused,  with regards to the plot and characters within it. But, this was not the case. Each character is clearly defined with their own unique voice, told via the third person - something that is very difficult to achieve with multiple narrators. Each of them have their own suspicions about the identity of the serial killer who is running rampant in Lyndford - But who is right?

This is extremely clever storytelling, with the author showing, and not telling us the individual story lines. As I made my way through the novel, my suspicions kept changing, with no one character standing out as the killer. I honestly thought that it could have been any one of the five. Even to the very end of the book, I still had my doubts as to whom the killer was - it was that good.

What is so very clever about this book is that we are introduced to the five suspects through the eyes of the people who are closest to them. W are presented with a biased viewpoint - it is not subjective. We feel, think and go through all of the emotions that the mother, friend, colleague etc.,  go through. It is what they believe to be true, it is their suspicions, and this is what we build our evidence upon. So is what they are seeing and building their evidence upon actualy true? That is the clever twist - and I loved it!

So who did I most identify with in the book? Usually one or two characters reach out to me, and I immerse myself in their journey. But with this book, I can honesty say that I identified with all five protagonists. The  wife who is living in an abusive relationship - time and time again I found myself screaming at her to get out and yelling, why are you living with a psychopath? Then there was lovable Steve - the best friend. Again, I asked myself why he was a friend to the man who he suspected of being a killer? Then we have the mother, and I suppose it was with her that I had the most empathy with. As a mother, I suppose that you would do anything to protect your child, your son, but what would you do if you suspected them of killing women? Report your suspicions to the police? But the answer is not so very clear cut. Not without any firm evidence and only suspicions to go on. This is the moral question that we are left to ponder. Then we have the teenage daughter - who suspects that her mother's new boyfriend is the killer. I'll be honest and state that I never liked him from he moment I met him on the page. But could he be a killer? Then  finally we have Tamsin, the colleague. I felt so sorry for her. She thinks that she knows Jake - but does she? This then begs the question, do we ever truly know anyone, even those closest to us?

This book, although a crime novel at heart, and a gritty and raw one at that, is so much deeper. It is a psychological drama that plays on the mind. We constantly question all of the suspects that are presented to us, never quire knowing who is responsible for he atrocious crimes that take place.
 
I highly recommend The Devil You Know. It is a gripping and thoroughly enjoyable psychological drama .
 
The Devil You Know can be bought from Amazon here


About Terry Tyler
 
 

Terry Tyler's first Amazon publication, 'You Wish', won 'Best Women's Fiction' in the eFestival of Words 2013, while short story collection 'Nine Lives' and family drama 'Last Child' have won other small online awards.

Terry is fascinated by the psychology behind relationships, and this forms the background of all her books. From the 'is my husband/friend/son a serial killer?' fears of the characters in her new release, 'The Devil You Know', to the dark and complex emotional tangles of 'The House of York', to the aspirations of several writers in 'Best Seller, it's all about the characters. And the plot twists...

Terry has a blog on which she writes around many topics (social networking, writing, nostalgia, TV and film).  She also has a book review blog, on which you can find her own reading choices and those she reads as part of Rosie Amber's Book Review Team. She loves Twitter (TerryTyler4) and can also be found on Goodreads and Facebook.

Terry lives in the north east of England with her husband.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi - Review



About - I Liked My Life


Maddy was a loving, devoted stay-at-home mother...until she committed suicide, which left her husband Brady and her teenage daughter Eve heartbroken and reeling, wondering how they can possibly continue without her. Maddy, however, isn’t quite done with them. In an attempt to fulfill her family’s needs, Maddy watches and meddles from beyond the grave, determined to find the perfect wife and mother to replace herself and heal her family. That’s when she finds Rory: a free-spirited schoolteacher, who Maddy maneuvers into Eve’s confidences, but who turns out to be harboring a tragedy of her own.

In a story both deeply moving and charming, with the domestic insight of Jodi Picoult, I Liked My Life from debut author Abby Fabiaschi is a mother’s final blessing for a family learning to live again.


My Review of I Liked My Life
 
I have no idea where to start in reviewing this book, other than to say that I completely adored this story. I'll try my very best to describe the essence of this book and what it means to me, without giving the plot away.  So let me start by writing about Maddy, one of the three characters who narrates the story. She is the mother of Eve and wife to Brady, and throughout the novel we learn of why she committed suicide. I found her to be very captivating and very easy to read. She reels you in with her scheming and the need to once again create the perfect family. She wants Brady and Eve to be happy without her, and so therefore she feels that she needs to find the perfect wife and mother replacements. Now, this whole being able to manipulate people from the grave is a very interesting concept and, it could have really been executed badly on the page. It could have been completely over sentimentalised, causing a chasm between the reader and character. But, this is not the case. The author has managed to pull off a believable and likeable mother figure who is not perfect and who simply wants the best for her loved ones who are left behind. She is startlingly real.
 
Then we have Brady, the grieving husband, and once again, the author has got this just right. We feel his anger and betrayal, because of the way in which Maddy died. Reading his words on the page, we come to realise that grieving for his wife is a difficult process for him, due to the way in which she died. He too is almost in limbo and needs to work out how to push forward. Of course he also has his teenage daughter to care for and all of the complexities that come with raising a teenager. The dialogue between them was some of the most real and frank discussions that I have ever read in a novel.
 
Eve is the daughter left behind, and she too learns how to grieve in her very own way. As well as having to deal with the loss of her mother, she has all of the normal teenage angst and troubles to deal with which make her life far from perfect. I really liked Eve and found her to be a young woman who simply wanted her mother back, to tell her that she was sorry for taking her for granted - my heart ached at her yearning for her mother and the fact that she would never have the chance to tell her how much she loved her.
 
I feel that the book's blurb does not do this book justice. This is a book about  family learning to live again, but it is so much more. It is a ghost story in a sense, that talks of all consuming love. But it is also a book that discusses the complexities of father and daughter relationships. That is what I truly feel is at the heart of this book, the daughter/father bond. It is a book about new beginnings - but also, it is a book about learning to heal from the past.
 
I Liked My Life is published by St. Martin's Press on 31st January 2017

Friday, 21 October 2016

*BLOG TOUR* Never Again by Nicky Clifford - Book Review

 

 
 
About Never Again
 
Mountains, Mystery, Romance: Can you run from your past?
 
Harriet Anderson’s life is spiralling out of control. Unused to such mayhem, she ditches her high-powered job to take refuge in the Swiss Alps where she meets Philippe Smith, a crime writer with a dark and shadowy past. Thrown together by chance, is their fate intertwined? Will the karma and romance of the mountains and the quaintness of the Alps soothe their troubled souls?
 
Or will their rocky paths create avalanches that cannot be avoided...
 
My Review of Never Again
 
 
Never Again is set within Wengen in the beautiful Swiss Alps.  I have never been to Switzerland, but now that I have read this book, I desperately need to go there and sip a hot chocolate on top of a mountain. This book is picturesque, romantic and a thoroughly enjoyable read.
 
The book begins with Harriet sat on a train as it slowly climbs the mountain to her final destination where she will be spending her summer waitressing at a hotel resort.  During this compelling start to the novel, we learn that Harriet has secrets and that she is fleeing from a past that she would rather forget. I found that I was instantly drawn into Harriet's world and I wondered what life would be like for her working in a new country. I also wondered who she was fleeing from? Harriet is a likeable character and because chunks of the book are told from her point of view, I really found that I could identify with her as a woman who wanted to be independent but whose ties to her past kept pulling her back towards a life that she no longer wanted.
 
Huge chunks of the story are also told from Philippe's point of view and I have to admit that my heart was well and truly stolen by him. I loved Philippe. I loved his slightly gruff nature, his complicated past, a trait that he shared with Harriet, and his ultimate good looks. This attraction to him, I felt was further enhanced because he is not perfect and not your average romantic hero. The reason he has traveled to Wengen is to find solitude in order to write his crime novel, but there are also other reasons that are made apparat as the story progresses.
 
Throughout the novel, Harriet and Philippe have multiple misunderstandings and clash over a number of different issues - their romantic journey is not a smooth one, but that is what makes this book so much fun to read. You have no idea how the book is gong to end nd if there is a future for them. You just hope that there is a Happy Ever After.
 
On a final note I must mention Elspeth, an older lady and guest who befriends Harriet. I don't want to say too much, but you'll love her. I did.
 
This debut novel is well written and lives up to the romantic genre. I found myself completely immersed within the beautiful valleys of Wengen and I too wanted to walk hand in hand with Philippe along the mountain ridge. The book was completely captivating and whilst reading it I completely forgot all about the world around me. It was pure escapism.
 
 
Never Again is available to buy from Amazon here  
 

About Nicky Clifford

Writing has always been a passion for Nicky Clifford and as a student she penned poems, short stories and articles, many of which were successfully published. But a lack of confidence in her novel writing led her to follow a different career path and for many years she worked in the corporate world of HR & Training.

Now with her sons having reached their teens and with her husband’s encouragement, Nicky has decided to focus on her writing once again and, glued to her writer’s chair, has completed three novels. Her debut novel, Never Again, is the first to be published and hits the contemporary romance shelves this autumn. The book is set in her home county of Berkshire and also in the Swiss Alps where Nicky has many happy memories, having worked there in her student days.

As well as dedicating her time to writing, Nicky also works part-time for a local charity. She will make a donation from the book royalties to the charities, Auticulate and Childhood Tumour Trust. Having completed a writing course at Reading University, she is a member of her local writing group which she says, were staunch in their support and have helped enormously in encouraging Nicky to launch her first book.

Nicky was a keen ice-skater, managing to perfect backwards crossovers, mohawks and one foot turns, but has recently hung up her boots to spend more time relaxing with her friends and family at home in Berkshire.

Website: www.nickyclifford.com
Facebook: NickyCliffordWriter
Twitter: @NickyNovelist

 

Find out more about the Never Again blog tour below




Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Christmas Under a Starlit Sky (A Town Called Christmas Book 2) by Holly Martin

Christmas Under a Starlit Sky 


Step inside a beautiful winter wonderland where love, laughter and cosy nights by the fire will make this Christmas one to remember.
 
Neve Whitaker loves managing the Stardust Lake hotel. She gets to work alongside her wonderful family and she’s spending Christmas on the most enchanting, snow-covered island in Scotland. So why is her heart so heavy this festive season?
 
It might have something to do with the gorgeous actor Oakley Rey, the man she finished with before he left for California and the man she loves more than anything. With Oakley’s career in Hollywood soaring, Neve is convinced she’d only hold him back. She had to end it with him – at least that’s what she keeps telling herself.
 
But now she has a secret she’s struggling to keep, and when Oakley arrives on Juniper Island determined to win her back, Neve is thrown off balance. Will Neve’s fear of having her heart broken again push Oakley away for good, or is it time for her to take a leap of faith?
 
Get swept away by this deliciously sweet and heartwarming tale, and spend an unforgettable Christmas on Juniper Island.                        

 
 
My review of Christmas Under a Starlit Sky
 
Oh where do I start with this book, other than to say that I loved it? It is such a cosy, warm and fluffy read that makes you feel all gooey inside and that anything in life is possible. This really is the perfect feel good book. There is nothing about this book that I didn't like.

Firstly we have Neve and Oakley. In the previous book Neve left Oakley as she believed that their two lives were not compatible, mainly due to the fact that he was a rising Hollywood star. However, at the beginning of this book, Oakley returns and he wants Neve back. Now Oakley is a handsome and dashing character who you just can't help but love. I  really enjoyed reading about this couple and how they fizzled off each other. Throughout the book it was plainly obvious to everyone that they were meant for each other, but would fate allow this because of a secret that Neve was keeping from him? That was the real question.
 
For me, the real surprise in the book and whom I loved the most, were the supporting characters of Dan and Ivy, and for me they stole the show. They too have their own secrets to keep.  Dan who has been brought in to help Neve manage the Stardust Lake hotel (I just love the name) over the Christmas break is simply adorable and from the very first moment that I met him, I couldn't help but love him. Ivy, who is a painter and who runs a local shop, meets Dan quite by surprise one day and their quite unexpectedly their journey begins. Now the chemistry between these two characters and how they interacted with each other was lovely to see unfurled on the page.

This book features many colourful and memorable characters whom you meet along the way. They all help to create a sense of community in the small snow covered island. That is what I truly loved about this book, that everyone looked out for each other and cared for each other. This type of close knit community is so very hard to find in the real world.
 
So, yes, I adored this story. Grab a crocheted blanket and a mug of hot chocolate when you curl up with this book. It is the perfect romantic Christmas read.
 
Christmas Under a Starlit Sky is published October 19th by Bookouture and can be bought via Amazon here
 
About Holly Martin
 
Holly lives in sunny Devon in a little white cottage by the sea. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.

Holly has been writing for 7 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014.

Follow her on Twitter @hollymartin00
 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Behind Closed Doors by B A Paris





About Behind Closed Doors - from Amazon

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.

You’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

My review of Behind Closed Doors

After reading all of the hype surrounding Behind Closed Doors, I knew that I had to read it. With so many comparing it to Gone Girl (which I loved) I wondered if the book would live up to my expectations? The good news is that it did. I really enjoyed this book, although in my mind it was very different to Gone Girl, in that I think it was more of a psychological drama than a psychological suspense novel. From the very beginning we know what will happen (and the blurb pretty much gives it away) but the drama and fast pace of the book comes from the need to know of why things happen and what the conclusion will be. I found myself frantically turning the pages with the need to know what would happen next.

I found this book truly frightening because what happens could happen to anyone. It brings up the questions: how well do we know our friends? Do they really have a perfect marriage? It really makes us question what we see with our own eyes and the realty of what could actually be going on behind closed doors. The answer is, we will never know.

This book is incredibly difficult to review without giving the plot away. Told form Grace's point of view, we read present day chapters that are intermingled with chapters from a year ago. Together they help us to form a picture of what has happened, what is happening and how things will end. Much of this book's success is down to Grace and the fact that we empathise with her, we are with her every step of the way throughout her journey. I found that I walked in her shoes, and where I was standing was very uncomfortable indeed.

My favourite character in the book though was Millie. Grace's younger sister who has Down's syndrome. The bond that they share I found particularly heart-warming and the fact that Grace would do anything for her - and vice versa very humbling. I found Millie to be the strongest character in the book and I had a huge respect for her. Sadly, I felt a little let down regarding the social aspects of Millie's care and that certain statements in the book (that are central to the plot) were simply factually incorrect. Although this did not detract from the enjoyment of the book, it did make the central events surrounding Millie unbelievable, and this I felt was a shame. Perhaps with more research on Down's syndrome and how individuals are cared for and supported in the community, then this particular storyline within the novel could have been far tighter.

I really did enjoy Behind Closed Doors. It was a haunting and disturbing read, in that what happened to Grace could happen to any woman.

Behind Closed Doors can be bought from Amazon here







Friday, 14 October 2016

Mesmeris by K. E. Coles







About Mesmeris - Taken from Amazon

‘How about we pretend,’ he said, ‘just for today? I pretend I’m good and you pretend to believe me.’ You're lonely, bored, and you meet Mr Perfect - beautiful, funny, sexy and dangerous. It's a dream come true, isn't it? But what if it isn't a dream? What if it's a nightmare? When a spate of vandalism at a small English church is followed by a brutal ritualistic execution, suspicion falls on malign religious sect, Mesmeris. Pearl is seventeen and naïve, no match for enigmatic, dangerous Jack. Seduced by his charm, she finds herself drawn into the murky world of the twisted, violent cult. Her love for Jack puts her own life in danger, and leads her into conflict with not only Mesmeris and the police, but also her own family.



My Review of Mesmeris

Mesmeris is a YA novel like no other I have read. This book is deeply dark, and I mean dark, so don't be fooled by the YA genre. There are some quite disturbing plot lines in this novel, so if you are easily offended then this book probably isn't for you. Having said that, I am not easily offended and once I got my head round the fact that this was not your average YA read I did enjoy it.

At the heart of the book is Pearl, a 17-year-old girl who lives in a vicarage with her Reverend dad, nurse mother and younger sister who is aged fifteen. Pearl I found utterly believable and the author managed to encapsulate the feelings that every teenage girl has. I liked Pearl and because I liked her I carried on reading, although some of the scenes I did find quite disturbing. If I hadn't believed in her character and wanted the absolute best for her, then I may have given up. She is what makes the book work.

This is not a light and romantic read. Yes it is a book that deals with romantic love and first love, but this is not a heart and flowers book. The emotions that are evoked between Jack and Pearl are real. As the blurb states, Pearl is seduced by him, but the same could also be said of Jack. They are polar opposites, but somehow they belong together.

This book deals with issues of the occult, ritualistic murder and violent assault, as I said, not your average YA read. But the way in which these issues are dealt with, I felt, were not for pure gratification. They were integral to the plot and to the characters. Pearl enters this world of Mesmeris and it is through her eyes that we see the horror that she sees. We feel what she feels. As an older reader of 41, I obviously saw Pearl through different eyes than say that of a 17 year old. I have more in common with her mum after all. So perhaps that was why I felt so protective of her. I did not want her to make the mistakes she was going to make, that I could see a mile off - but there was nothing that I could do.

What did I think about Jack? An anti hero of the day? Perhaps - I am still unsure and I have been mulling it over. I did like him and I understood his actions and felt that he really did care for Pearl. He too though is only young and without giving the plot away, he too wants to be a good person.

I'll be honest and say that I did find this a difficult read as it is a book that is far out of my comfort zone. But I did enjoy it. As it is the first in a trilogy, I will also be reading the second book to find out what happens next in the world of Pearl and Jack.
Mesmeris is available to buy from Amazon here






About K E Coles

Karen Coles was born in Taplow, Berkshire. Before beginning her writing career she was an exhibiting artist and occasional art tutor.

Mesmeris, a darkly compelling tale about a malign religious sect, Infixion, it's sequel, and the third and final book in the trilogy, Wormwood, are all available from Amazon.

Karen now lives in beautiful West Wales, where she's busy writing her fourth novel.

She's on twitter @KEColeswriting and Facebook



Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Magic of Ramblings by Kate Field


 
 
 
 
About The Magic of Ramblings
 
When Cassie accepts a job as companion to an old lady in a remote Lancashire village, she hopes for a quiet life where she can forget herself, her past and most especially men. The last thing she wants is to be drawn into saving a community that seems determined to take her to its heart – and to resuscitate hers…

Frances has lived a reclusive life at Ramblings, a Victorian Gothic mansion, for over thirty years and now Barney is hiding away there, forging a new life after his medical career ended in scandal. He doesn’t trust the mysterious woman who comes to live with his rich aunt, especially when she starts to steal Frances’ affection – and maybe his own too…


My Review of The Magic of Ramblings

Oh my, this book is just so beautiful. Right from the pretty cover through to the very last word. I loved this book. How could I not? This for me was a perfect romantic read that focussed very much upon the emotional aspect of love.

From the very beginning we are drawn into Cassie's world and I found myself asking, why is she running away? What has happened to her? Who is this woman? Throughout the book these questions are answered within the intimate surroundings of Ramblings. We meet Francs, the lady to which Cassie is employed as a companion, and Barney, Frances' nephew, who is also trying to come to terms with his own past.

Although this book tackles a serious issue, of which I can't talk about without spoiling the plot, it is very much a beautiful story about love, trust and friendship.  The need that we all have to be able to wholly trust someone and to be fully accepted for who we are. But the other important love story that runs through the veins of this book, is the need to love ourselves. Before we can truly say that we are happy in our own skin, warts and all, there is no possible way that we can let someone else into our heart.

The three main characters in the story are Cassie, the young woman who has a secret and wishes to start afresh; Frances, the lady who Cassie has been entrusted to work for as a companion, and Barney, the man who has his own secrets. I can honesty say, hand on heart that I loved them all. They all bounced off one another, showing off each other's strengths and weaknesses. But I particularly liked the scenes between Cassie and Frances. The ability that they had to comfort each other and to guide each other, regardless of age and class.

For me though, the character that I loved the most was Barney. He is incredibly handsome in a rugged kind of way and has a heart of gold. I couldn't help but fall in love with him. For me, Barney is the ultimate romantic hero, he has his faults but we love him because of them.

The Magic of Ramblings is a book that I know I will be reading again and again. A feel good book about the goodness of human nature and the importance of community, love and friendship.

 
 
 
 
About Kate Field
 
 

Kate writes contemporary women’s fiction, mainly set in her favourite county of Lancashire,
where she lives with her husband, daughter and hyperactive kitten.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

The Magic of Ramblings is her first published novel.

 You ca follow Kate on Twitter: @katehaswords and on Facebook

The Magic of  Ramblings is published by Accent Press and can be bought via Amazon here


 
 

Monday, 10 October 2016

Ward Zero by Linda Huber




About Ward Zero

Horror swept through her. Had she been buried alive?

On Sarah’s first visit to see her foster mother, Mim, in Brockburn General Hospital, she is sucked into a world that isn’t what it should be.
Someone is lying, someone is stealing. And someone is killing – but who? With a grieving child to take care of, as well as Mim, Sarah has to put family first. She doesn’t see where danger lies – until it’s too late.

If you think you’re safe in a hospital, think again.


 
My Review of Ward Zero

 
Ward Zero is a fast paced, realistic and heart-warming psychological thriller that I found incredibly difficult to put down. From the very beginning we know that something bad is going to happen and we know the date it will happen. This was one of the reasons that I found myself racing through the book at break neck speed in order to find out exactly what would happen... and the truth was shocking.
 
I really enjoyed this book. I was firstly intrigued to see how the hospital scenes would be played out. It was very obvious to me that the author had inside knowledge to the daily working of a ward and, in particular rehabilitation wards within a hospital. As a former nurse, I found the scenes that occurred within the hospital to be incredibly realistic and I could vividly remember the smells of the ward and the activities that took place within them.
 
Although this book is a psychological thriller with some incredibly gritty scenes, the book is also a story of family love and family dynamics. Mim is at the heart of the family and I found her a likeable and warm character. She reminded me of my own grandmother who herself fostered and then adopted many children over the years. I really like how this theme of family life was portrayed, in that family is simply a collection of people who love and care for each other. It is not always about blood.

I really don't want to give too much away and spoil the book, but I also must mention Sarah, who is the ventral female lead in the book. She is a strong and determined young woman who has suffered loss in her life and because of this wants to help others with their loss. She to was incredibly likeable, although I did tell her off a few times for some of the choices that she made.

Throughout the book I found myself closely analysing all of the male characters to see if they could possibly be a killer and, I kept changing my mind as to whom I thought the cuprite was. Even when I found out the terrible truth I was still shocked.
 
The big question that the book asks though is, are you safe in hospital? The vulnerability of elderly and confused patients is eloquently discussed. We've all read news articles were we find out that terrible abuse has happened in care homes and other caring insinuations for the sick and vulnerable. What can happen is frightening, and this book explores what can happen. Although fiction, this story is all too real.

I will now be searching for Linda Huber's other titles.
  


About Linda Huber
 
 

Linda Huber grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. Not to mention several years spent as a full-time mum to two boys and a rescue dog.

Linda’s books are psychological suspense novels, and the ideas for them come from daily life. The Paradise Trees and The Cold Cold Sea were traditionally published in 2013/2014 before she self-published The Attic Room in 2015 and Chosen Child in early 2016.

Ward Zero, her fifth book, was inspired by a consumer programme on Swiss TV.





 
Ward Zero is available to buy from Amazon UK and US.

Follow Linda Huber on Facebook, Twitter,

Linda's website and blog

 

Friday, 7 October 2016

The Killing Game by J.S. Carol

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Madam Tulip by David Ahern


 
 

 
About Madam Tulip

Suspense, mystery, action, a little romance and lots of laughs
Out-of-work actress Derry O’Donnell is young, talented, a teeny bit psychic … and broke. Spurred on by an ultimatum from her awesomely high-achieving mother, and with a little help from her theatrical friends, Derry embarks on a part-time career as Madame Tulip, fortune-teller to the rich and famous. But at her first fortune-telling gig - a celebrity charity weekend in a castle - a famous rap artist will die.

As Derry is drawn deeper into a seedy world of celebrities, supermodels and millionaires, she finds herself playing the most dangerous role of her acting life. Trapped in a maze of intrigue, money and drugs, Derry's attempts at amateur detective could soon destroy her friends, her ex-lover, her father and herself.
Madame Tulip is the first in a series of Tulip adventures in which Derry O’Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and reluctant detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life, drinks borage tea, and fails to understand her parents.

Fans of humorous mystery writers Janet Evanovich and Carl Hiaasen will love Madam Tulip.
 
My review of Madam Tulip
 
Well Madam Tulip is a thoroughly enjoyable read. I sometimes find that Irish fiction portrays stereotypical Irish characters, but this book does not do so. It is a beautiful mix of Irish narrative, folk law, mystery and crime. The gentle way in which this author writes and presents the characters to us on the page, clearly shows him as an individual with great insight into human behaviour and his former life as a research psychologist.
Derry O’Donnell is a sassy out of work actresses who becomes Madam Tulip, a fortune teller. As she is short of cash, she takes on the role as Madam Tulip at a private function in a castle, on a lake, and this is when the story really begins to take shape. I especially liked the way in which she read the cards and saw into the future. To me it appeared that the author really knew what he was writing about when describing these passages in the book.  I have never had my fortune told, I am far too scared, as I believe that they can see into the future and, I would rather not know. But this book has intrigued me and maybe one day I will go and have my cards read.
Derry is obviously the central character of the book and she is most certainly a strong leading lady. However, there were so many other strong and likeable characters in the book, who all played a great supporting role. Bruce, the ex navy SEAL and resting actor, is absolutely hilarious and just happens to be gay. I would love him as a best friend, as I know he would always look out for me. Then we have Bella, a strong, independent woman who speaks her own mind and who always seems to get right into the middle of any trouble that is brewing. We all know someone like that! I couldn't help but like her. But the star of the book for me had to be Jacko, Derry's happy go lucky charming, boozing and gambling dad. On paper he should be annoying and instantly disliked, but I liked him very much. He reminded me of Jack in Father Ted, but he drinks drank less and is highly articulate.
I was a little surprised to see that this book is under the label of crime and thrillers. I think that for many readers this will be slightly misleading, as they may be expecting a fast paced thriller? It did not put me off, as I enjoyed the slow pace of the story. It reminded me of a warm cosy mystery that was gentle and funny at the same time.
I very much enjoyed this first installment in the Madam Tulip series. I look forward to reading more by David Ahern.
I received a review copy of Madam Tulip from the author in exchange for an honest review. 
 
About David Ahern
 
 
 
David Ahern grew up in a theatrical family in Ireland but ran away to Scotland to become a research psychologist and sensible person. He earned his doctorate and taught in major Universities but could never explain to his granny why he didn’t own a stethoscope.
Finding the challenge of pretending to know things exhausting, David Ahern shaved off his beard and absconded once more, this time to work in television. He became a writer, director and producer, creating international documentary series. He won numerous awards, but found nobody was much impressed.
For want of a better plan, David Ahern took to writing fiction. Madame Tulip isn't his first novel, but writing it was the most fun he's ever had with a computer. He is now writing the third in the series and enjoys pretending that this activity is actual work.
David Ahern lives in the beautiful West of Ireland with his wife, two cats and a vegetable garden of which he is inordinately proud.
To find out more about Madam Tulip and David Ahern, visit www.davidahern.info
@DaveAhernWriter on Twitter
Madam Tulip can be bought from Amazon here
 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Breaking East by Bob E Summer





Book Description of Breaking East (taken from Amazon)

My dad used to love telling the story about how I kicked my way into the world ten weeks early. He swore I screamed so loud the midwife almost dropped me on my head. ‘Holy devil on a pushbike,’ she said. ‘Just listen to that attitude already.’

In a divided Britain, seventeen-year-old Atty accepts her first proper job as a freedom fighter—all she has to do is spy on two abandoned kids. It should be a doddle in the park, but things turn messy and she gets tangled in lies, trapped on the wrong side of the border and isolated from everything she knows. And if dealing with corrupt agents, missing children and dead bodies isn’t enough, she has two lads competing for her attention, tweaking at her hormones until she can’t think straight. But if she doesn’t figure out who she can trust soon, the future she's always dreamt of will be lost.

Breaking East is the first book in the Bone trilogy—a coming-of-age, British dystopian, packed with action and fraught with the trouble called boys.


My Review of Breaking East

Breaking East is a YA dystopian novel, but quite frankly I think that to pigeonhole this book into such tight genres does not do it justice. I really dislike the labelling of books for this very reason. Breaking East is a dystopian novel that blends the YA genre to create a totally different type of book. This makes the book very different to your average YA novel. It also has a complex narrative, tackles serious issues such as poverty and depression and features an incredibly strong first person narrator in the voice of Atty.

Let me begin by saying that I loved this book. Much of my love for this book is based upon the strong female lead that is Atty. A 17-year-old who surprisingly is not annoying like a lot of teenage narration can be. I warmed to her instantly. She is feisty, strong, funny and witty; but does not come across as being too harsh as to be unlikeable. She also has her faults, as we all do, and is not ashamed of telling it as it is. Bob E Summer has managed to create a likeable, female narrator who tells beautifully the teenage angst of growing up in a deprived community with no family and the need to survive as best you can. While reading the book I wanted to have a cosy chat with her while drinking a hot cup of Blue juice.

Another interesting character in the book is that of Stuart, who is the polar opposite of Atty and is one of the "two lads competing for her affections". He comes from a privileged background and lives in The Burrows, which is the complete opposite to where Atty lives, and has connections, unlike Atty. I loved his character because he was not your stereotypically rich, spoilt boy. He has an inner depth and a fragality about him that makes me like him even more. He is also a gentleman, so what's not to like? You cannot help but fall in love with him. I really enjoyed reading the banter between Atty and Stuart, and the way in which the two connected over the course of the book. What I would have loved even more though was to hear his thoughts and feelings about Atty. As a character he really intrigued me and I would have loved to have heard those inner thoughts of his. Another character who I would have liked to have known more about was Joe. As Atty's guardian, he came across as a kind man with a rough exterior, but I would have loved the chance to see what was underneath.

Breaking East is an incredibly well written and fast paced novel that kept me guessing right up to the very end. The novel is very much a narrative for today's Broken Britain. This is a superb debut novel and I cannot wait to read Book 2 in the series.

With thanks to the author for a review copy in exchange for an honest review

About Bob E Summer

Bob writes young adult fiction from a secret room in an ordinary house. She eats a lot of crisps and naps a lot.

Breaking East is available to buy from Amazon here