#BookReview WOMEN’S WEIRD: STRANGE STORIES BY WOMEN 1890 – 1940 #20BooksOfSummer20

ABOUT THE BOOK
Early Weird fiction embraces the supernatural, horror, science fiction, fantasy and the Gothic, and was explored with enthusiasm by many women writers in the United Kingdom and in the USA. Melissa Edmundson has brought together a compelling collection of the best Weird short stories by women from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, to thrill new readers and delight these authors’ fans.
PUBLISHED BY HANDHELD PRESS
PURCHASE LINKS
Publisher Website
Amazon

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEWThis was book 17 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

A superbly put together collection of the weird and wonderful from long ago! Some of the stories made you completely forget how old they actually were and had such a charming way of chilling and freaking you out as you read through the 13 short stories.

As with many short story collections, some had more impact on me as a reader than others, but I really loved the mix of styles and different approaches to ‘weird’! There’s the unexplained, the ghost stories, gothic, science fiction, the after life – stories that raise the goosebumps on your arms rather than scare you silly! Although I now find myself never looking at a saucepan or gloves in the same way as before….. watch them!!! You never know!!

I loved hearing from these women and their take on the supernatural/horror genre and am glad to see there is another collection of more weirdness as I’ll be looking forward to immersing myself in those very soon!

★★★★

#BookReview DIARY OF A MODERN COUNTRY GARDENER by TAMSIN WESTHORPE #20BooksOfSummer

ABOUT THE BOOK


Written by a hard-working horticulturalist for fellow gardeners, the aim of this diary is to jog people’s memories, share plant stories, demystify gardening and most importantly make the reader smile. You’ll find a personal year-long diary of gardening along with favourite seasonal plants, timely reminders and entertaining tales of moving sheep, visiting RHS Chelsea Flower Show and speaking at garden clubs. Tamsin’s open garden is at the heart of a working farm, so her book reflects the twists and turns of the countryside. For anyone just about to embark on a life in the country, or whose town garden is never tidy and who wonders how the professionals do it, it’s a must read. Pick up tips on how to keep warm whilst gardening, get rid of chilblains and grow seasonal food from someone who lives, breathes and eats country gardening. 


PUBLISHED BY ORPHANS PUBLISHING


PURCHASE LINKS


Publisher Website – signed with free postage

Amazon

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

This was book 16 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

The gardener in me loved this! From the helpful pointers, the humour that had me chuckling out loud and just the general amiable writing style of the author made this such a pleasure to read! I think it’s a book that will appeal to a wide spectrum of garden lovers – from the novices to those who’ve gardened for a long time.

It also shows the amount of work required to open gardens to the public and her energy never seems to flag in wanting her garden at Stockton Bury to look at its’ best for every visitor! The book is written in a month by month style which I loved as it gives you an insight into what needs doing in your garden too throughout the year, as well as a very handy plant list for must haves each month which is really invaluable as I often find myself having a little lull in the garden at various times so I now know what to look out for!

With her experiences in the garden comes a wealth of knowledge that she passes on and I’ve taken note of a number of hints that I plan on using here! She is also not afraid to mention the failures she has along with the successes – it’s always good to know that every gardener has their problems no matter what size of garden they have.

I loved the gardening quirks that she comments on and found myself heartily agreeing with many of them, along with how a garden evokes childhood memories – plants that remind you of loved ones, things you learn from them and how you can feel connected to people just through a plant or using a garden tool that has been handed down.

And to top it all off there are many beautiful photos throughout that are just a delight to look at! This is going to be one of those books I keep going back to when I need a smile or a gardening hint each month! Highly recommended!


★★★★★

#BookReview 10-Minute Crystal Healing by Ann Crane

ABOUT THE BOOK

10-Minute Crystal Healing highlights quick, easy, practical ways to incorporate natural, empowering crystals into your life to promote spiritual balance and protect from physical and psychic negativity.


In this portable guide, you’ll find profiles of each crystal’s natural attributes, legendary power, and holistic benefits as well as its specific energy so it may enhance, heal, or protect you. You’ll learn:

What crystals are, from both a scientific and magical perspectiveHow to choose and care for your crystalsThe importance of chakras and color in spiritual healingHow to work with stones for protection and spiritual healingThe alphabetical sourcebook section with information about the uses and benefits of each crystal listed makes it easy to find the exact crystal you need.


Quickly incorporate natural crystal healing and empowerment into your life with this accessible guide. 


PUBLISHED BY FAIR WINDS PRESS

PUBLICATION DATE – SEPTEMBER 2020

PRE-ORDER LINKS

Amazon

Blackwell’s

Hive.co.uk


MY REVIEW

I have only recently started to learn about crystals and I found this book to be an invaluable treasure trove of information and help as I start my crystal journey!
It’s perfectly laid out taking you through various stages of learning about crystals, their uses, how to clean them etc, and also has practical messages of little things you can do to help yourself with various crystals.

I found the history of crystal healing to be so enlightening, along with learning about the chakras and the advice to use a journal to see how you react with different crystals was something I’d not thought about but will be using!

Towards the back of the book there are some really excellent chapters of which crystal to use for various situations you may find yourself in – emotional healing, help making decisions, help with anxiety, dealing with negativity, protecting yourself – and I think this is a book that I will keep referring back to when needed to find the perfect crystal to help me along the way.

Brilliant for newbies to crystals like me and also full of information that delve a little deeper into the whole healing world of crystals. Highly recommended! I’m off to buy more crystals!!


★★★★★

My thanks to Fair Winds Press and Netgalley for the advanced copy of the e-book in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview SUNNY DAYS AT THE BEACH by MORTON S.GRAY

ABOUT THE BOOK


From party nights at the pub to sunny days at the beach …

Craft shop owner Mandy Vanes has always enjoyed a commitment-free singleton lifestyle — in fact, she’s well-known for her wild ways in her small seaside town on the coast.

But when local teenager, Nick Crossten, turns to her for help, Mandy has the opportunity to prove she can be a responsible adult. Although things get tricky when gin distillery owner Graham Frankley comes to town with some unexpected news.

Could this mean that Mandy the party girl is finally ready to grow up?


PUBLISHED BY CHOC LIT


PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sunny-Days-Beach-heart-warming-feel-good-ebook/dp/B08CDZ6XXX/

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/sunny-days-at-the-beach

Apple: https://books.apple.com/gb/book/sunny-days-at-the-beach/id1522287190?itsct=books_toolbox&itscg=30200&at=11lNBs 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Morton_S_Gray_Sunny_Days_at_the_Beach?id=3dnyDwAAQBAJ

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sunny-days-at-the-beach-morton-s-gray/1137304330?ean=2940162638292

Website: https://www.choc-lit.com/dd-product/sunny-days-at-the-beach/

MY REVIEW

Mandy is living the dream – or is she?! Single, partying and running her own craft business is what she always dreamed of! But the mornings after are beginning to take their toll and in this story her life is about to change dramatically and I loved every minute of her journey of discovering what is really important to her and how life can turn upside down overnight!

She has always had a soft spot for Nick, a young local artist who has sold his artwork in her shop, but when he is left alone by his mum who disappears one night, the person he turns to is Mandy who immediately steps into the foster mum role wonderfully.  She just wants the best for this young man, and he seems so pleased to have someone finally taking care of him! Add into the mix a stranger who shows up claiming to be his Dad and the story follows them all adapting to these new roles and a new life that could be starting for them.  

Seeing Mandy have this change of outlook on life was really fascinating, especially with her past coming back to play a part in her life.  It really lets you see her in a different light from her party girl image and gives you a good insight why she did go off the rails over recent years.  

I also found it interesting to see things from the viewpoint of Graham, who is faced with becoming a father to a teenager he knew nothing about.  Mixed in with new problems with his business, it was fascinating to see him approach life with a new outlook – nothing seems to phase him!

I think this story showed just how quickly your life can change and how you react impacts on those around you.  The characters of Mandy and Graham were a delight especially in their mature outlook on the situation – good to have some decent role models around and not ones who want to shirk responsibility! 

A really enjoyable read!! Highly recommended!

★★★★★

#GuestPost #PublicationDay SUNNY DAYS AT THE BEACH by MORTON S GRAY @ChocLituk @MortonSGray

Delighted to be able to share a guest post today from the lovely Morton S Gray, who is celebrating Publication Day for SUNNY DAYS AT THE BEACH!! |Hope you’ll all be grabbing  a copy to escape in to very soon!!! 


Over to you Morton…….


🌞🌞🌞

My fourth novel for Choc Lit Sunny Days at the Beach is a contemporary romance with more than its fair share of intrigue and mystery. The book features Mandy Vanes, who runs Owl Corner Crafts in my fictional seaside town of Borteen. Mandy arrives at work one morning to find teenager, Nick Crossten sitting on the craft centre steps. He is distraught as he tells Mandy that his mother has left him home alone and gone off with her boyfriend to start a new life. As if that wasn’t enough, gin distiller, Graham Frankley arrives on the scene and tells the pair that Nick’s mum has written to him to say that he’s Nick’s dad!

The back of the book says:-

From party nights at the pub to sunny days at the beach …

Craft shop owner Mandy Vanes has always enjoyed a commitment-free singleton lifestyle — in fact, she’s well-known for her wild ways in her small seaside town on the coast.

But when local teenager, Nick Crossten, turns to her for help, Mandy has the opportunity to prove she can be a responsible adult. Although things get tricky when gin distillery owner Graham Frankley comes to town with some unexpected news.

Could this mean that Mandy the party girl is finally ready to grow up?

This can be read as a stand-alone novel, but both Mandy Vanes and Nick Crossten have appeared as secondary characters in my previous novels for Choc Lit, The Girl on the Beach my debut novel which won Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition in 2016, The Truth Lies Buried and Christmas at Borteen Bay.

For those of you who wonder about the inspiration for my books, the hero of this novel actually sprang to life from a spark of interest when I was reading a magazine article about a small craft gin distillery. My unsuspecting husband was then treated to my research trip when I took him on a tour of a gin distillery for his birthday!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Morton lives with her husband, two sons and Lily, the tiny white dog, in Worcestershire, U.K. She has been reading and writing fiction for as long as she can remember, penning her first attempt at a novel aged fourteen. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors.

Her debut novel The Girl on the Beach was published after she won the Choc Lit Publishing Search for a Star competition in 2016. This story follows a woman with a troubled past as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding her son’s new headteacher, Harry Dixon.

Morton’s second book for Choc Lit The Truth Lies Buried is another romantic suspense novel, The story of Jenny Simpson and Carver Rodgers as they uncover secrets from their past.

Christmas at Borteen Bay is Morton’s first Christmas novella. It is set in her fictional seaside town of Borteen and follows the story of Pippa Freeman, who runs the Rose Court Guest House with her mother, and local policeman Ethan Gibson, as they unravel a family secret as Christmas approaches.

Morton previously worked in the electricity industry in committee services, staff development and training. She has a Business Studies degree and is a fully qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Reiki Master. She also has diplomas in Tuina acupressure massage and energy field therapy. She enjoys crafts, history and loves tracing family trees. Having a hunger for learning new things is a bonus for the research behind her books.

You can catch up with Morton with the following links:-

 Website and blog at www.mortonsgray.com 

Twitter @MortonSGray

 Facebook page – Morton S. Gray 

Author – https://www.facebook.com/mortonsgray/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/morton_s_gray/

Buying Links for Sunny Days at the Beach – 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sunny-Days-Beach-heart-warming-feel-good-ebook/dp/B08CDZ6XXX/

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/sunny-days-at-the-beach

Apple: https://books.apple.com/gb/book/sunny-days-at-the-beach/id1522287190?itsct=books_toolbox&itscg=30200&at=11lNBs 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Morton_S_Gray_Sunny_Days_at_the_Beach?id=3dnyDwAAQBAJ

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sunny-days-at-the-beach-morton-s-gray/1137304330?ean=2940162638292

#MusicMonday STRONGER by LONDON GRAMMAR

Happy Monday to you all! And another fab way to start the week with some choons!! Thanks to this weekly tag by Drew over at THE TATTOOED BOOK GEEK it’s  weekly chance to share a favourite song or video!


I’ve gone for London Grammar this week and Stronger as it keeps coming up on my playlist!

Excuse me for a while
While I’m wide-eyed and I’m so down caught in the middle
I’ve excused you for a while
While I’m wide-eyed and I’m so down caught in the middle

And a lion, a lion
Roars would you not listen?
If a child, a child
Cries would you not give them?Yeah, I might seem so strong
Yeah, I might speak so long
I’ve never been so wrong
Yeah, I might seem so strong
Yeah, I might speak so long
I’ve never been so wrong

Excuse me for a while
Turn a blind eye with a stare caught right in the middle
Have you wondered for a while
I have a feeling deep down, you’re caught in the middle?If a lion, a lion
Roars would you not listen?
If a child, a child
Cries would you not give them?

Yeah, I might seem so strong
Yeah, I might speak so long
I’ve never been so wrong
Yeah, I might seem so strong
Yeah, I might speak so long
I’ve never been so wrong

Excuse me for a while
While I’m wide-eyed and I’m so down caught in the middle
Have you wondered for a while
I have a feeling deep down you’re caught in the middle

Yeah, I might seem so strong
Yeah, I might speak so long
I’ve never been so wrong
Yeah, I might seem so strong
Yeah, I might speak so long
I’ve never been so wrong

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Daniel Harry Joseph Rothman / Dominic Ashley Ronald Major / Hannah Felicity May Reid

Strong lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

#BlogTour ANYONE FOR EDMUND? by SIMON EDGE #BookReview @EyeAndLightning @DamppebblesBT

Delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for the fabulous ANYONE FOR EDMUND? by SIMON EDGE today. My thanks to the author, publisher and Emma at Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for putting it all together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

They dug up his bones. They didn’t know he had a mind of his own.

Under tennis courts in the ruins of a great abbey, archaeologists find the remains of St Edmund, once venerated as England’s patron saint, but lost for half a millennium.

Culture Secretary Marina Spencer, adored by those who have never met her, scents an opportunity. She promotes Edmund as a new patron saint for the United Kingdom, playing up his Scottish, Welsh and Irish credentials. Unfortunately these are pure fiction, invented by Mark Price, her downtrodden aide, in a moment of panic.

The only person who can see through the deception is Mark’s cousin Hannah, a member of the dig team. Will she blow the whistle or help him out? And what of St Edmund himself, watching through the prism of a very different age?

Splicing ancient and modern as he did in The Hopkins Conundrum and A Right Royal Face-Off, Simon Edge pokes fun at Westminster culture and celebrates the cult of a medieval saint in another beguiling and utterly original comedy.

PUBLISHED BY  Lightning Books on 10th August 2020 in paperback and digital formats

Purchase Links:

 Eye & Lightning Books (Free UK P&P)https://bit.ly/30XKfz9 

Amazon UKhttps://amzn.to/3feyTfc

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Simon Edge was born in Chester and read philosophy at Cambridge University.

He was editor of the pioneering London paper Capital Gay before becoming a gossip columnist on the Evening Standard and then a feature writer on the Daily Express, where he was also a theatre critic for many years. He has an MA in Creative Writing from City University, London, where he also taught literary criticism.

He is the author of three previous novels: The Hopkins Conundrum, which was longlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award, The Hurtle of Hell and A Right Royal Face-Off.

He lives in Suffolk.

Social Media: Twitter: https://twitter.com/simonjedge 

Website: https://www.simon-edge.com/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/simonjedge/

MY REVIEW

What a blast of a read!! A wonderful mix of historical and political farce!! Who knew that mix would work so well!! But it does and I found myself laughing away on many occasions as the worlds of history and politics clash in spectacular fashion!

Hannah is part of an archeological dig and they hit the jackpot with their recent find!!  The remains of St Edmund are discovered and politicians start sniffing around to use this in only ways that politicians know how!!

Mark Price is a special advisor to a rising star in politics and is also cousin to Hannah! When he finds out about the link, he wants in on a way to boost his own standing in his line of work – there’s lots of egos about in the offices of Whitehall – and who cares if the truth needs to be bent a little…. ok, a lot!! The art of spin is showcased in amazing fashion in this book and you just know there are people like this walking around Westminster right now!! 

Using St Edmund to try and unite the United Kingdom is a bold gesture, even more bolder when the past reveals he wasn’t the great uniter than many thought but all is not fair in love and politics so the wheels are set in motion to alter history!  Hannah sees through it all and wonders what her cousin is playing at. As does the leading expert on St Edmund who seems to be a little baffled by all this ‘new’ information about an historical figure he thought he knew everything about.  

Add to the mix, the voice of the dug up Saint – he doesn’t seem to be a fan of the modern world! – and you’re left with a hilariously absurd story that left me laughing out loud, along with being horrified of the levels that some will go to boost their own careers!  

Highly recommended if you’re looking for something just that little bit different to raise a smile in these strange times we find ourselves living in!!

★★★★★

#BlogTour OTTO ECKHART’S ORDEAL by NIALL EDWORTHY #BookReview @Bookollective @UnicornPubGroup

Delighted to be the lastest stop on the Blog Tour for the WW2 book OTTO ECKHART’S ORDEAL by NIALL EDWORTHY. My thanks to the publisher, author and the team at Bookollective for the copy of the book and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Otto Eckhart’s Ordeal is a work of historical fiction, inspired by the true story of Otto Rahn, occultist member of Nazi Germany’s Schutzstaffel (SS) Ahnenerbe think tank, and his search for the Holy Grail. He believes that in finding such a trophy, he will succeed in proving Ayran supremacy for Nazi Germany.


In Niall Edworthy’s riveting retelling, a naïve young historian, Otto Eckhart, is personally dispatched by SS leader Heinrich Himmler to seek a holy chalice, only to discover the real-life Chalice of Tomar. Set over the course of a six-month span in 1937, the action unfolds across Berlin, the Odenwald mountain range, Wewelsburg Castle, and the Languedoc region of France. Sure to delight history buffs and World War II scholars, Otto Eckhart’s Ordeal is an absorbing coming-of-age story about love, life, and the search for meaning.


PUBLISHED BY UNICORN PUBLISHING GROUP


PURCHASE LINKS


PUBLISHER WEBSITE
HIVE.CO.UK

MY REVIEW


This is an historical fiction book based on historical truth so I was a little anxious before picking this up to read as I wondered how it would all work out! But I had nothing to worry about as it immediately grabbed my attention and had a really good flow to it as it touches on some rather darker elements of life during the War, alongside a young man trying to find his way in the world.  It was also much lighter in mood than I expected! It often read like an historical farce with some of the goings on and the touches of humour were much welcomed!


Otto is a man fascinated by history, especially that of the Holy Grail, and his research grabs the eye of those at the top of the Nazi’s.  So he’s told – you don’t really get a choice of who to work for! – that they will publish his book and support him if they seek out the Grail for them to use for their purposes.  So he sets out to do what he can without endangering his family and we’re left to witness his adventure and his escapades along the way!


I loved all the historical aspects of this story.  It has pushed me to research more of the real life work of Otto Rahn and it’s such a fascinating subject to look at.  The character of Otto was instantly likeable and seeing him struggle with the moral issue of working with the Nazi’s was totally understandable.


This was a fascinating, touching and fun read and one of those books that you can see making it onto the big screen! I hope it does!!


★★★★

#BookReview THE SLEEPING CAR MURDERS by SEBASTIEN JAPRISOT


ABOUT THE BOOK

When the night train pulled into Paris, she was dead. And the riddle began . . .

A beautiful young woman lies sprawled on her berth in the sleeping car of the night train from Marseille to Paris. She is not in the embrace of sleep, or even in the arms of one of her many lovers. She is dead. And the unpleasant task of finding her killer is handed to overworked, crime-weary police detective Pierre ‘Grazzi’ Grazziano, who would rather play hide-and-seek with his little son than cat and mouse with a diabolically cunning, savage murderer.Sébastien Japrisot takes the reader on an express ride of riveting suspense that races through a Parisian landscape of lust, deception and death. With corpses turning up everywhere, the question becomes not only who is the killer, but who will be the next victim .

. .PUBLISHED BY GALLIC BOOKS


PURCHASE LINK

PUBLISHER WEBSITE

MY REVIEW

What you think might be a straight forward ‘whodunnit’ soon becomes an absorbing and twisty tale as you try and second guess just exactly what did happen on that train when a young woman is found murdered. She’d been strangled and there are very few clues around so the case facing Det Pierre Grazziano is anything but straightforward!

I loved the setting and the process that the Detective goes through to try and work out the happenings on that overnight train. He has to interview passengers who were on the train and work through their recollections of the murder victim – any tiny piece of information can help him try and make sense of it all and you’re taken along for the ride as he tries to put all the pieces together.

His investigation is hindered by more murders and I love how the story takes you down one path before throwing another curveball your way to muddy the waters! It’s only a short book as well and I’m amazed at the depth of plot that was allowed to be explored!

A twisty, dark thriller and I loved it!

★★★★


My thanks to the team at Gallic Books for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview MADELEINE IS SLEEPING by SARAH SHUN-LIEN BYNUM #20BooksOfSummer20

ABOUT THE BOOK

When a girl falls into a deep and impenetrable sleep, the borders between her provincial French village and the peculiar, beguiling realm of her dreams begin to disappear: A fat woman sprouts delicate wings and takes flight; a failed photographer stumbles into the role of pornographer; a beautiful young wife grows to resemble her husband’s viol. And in their midst travels Madeleine, the dreamer, who is trying to make sense of her own metamorphosis as she leaves home, joins a gypsy circus, and falls into an unexpected triangle of desire and love.


MY REVIEW

This is book 15 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

I normally devour a book that is full of the weird and wonderful! BUT for some reason I really struggled to connect with this book as it was just a little too ‘off the wall’ for me! I loved the set up with Madeleine asleep and the short and snappy flashes into her ‘dreams’ and the world she had created or found herself in but I often found myself completely unsure of whether it was dream world, real world or just somewhere in between! I found myself more interested in the little glimpses of her mum and family and their perspectives of watching Madeleine sleep while their lives carried on around them.

It was often quite dark and explicit, which didn’t really seem to add much to the mix except more confusion as to wondering what was going on!! Maybe I need to try the book again to see if it makes more sense 2nd time round!

★★