#BookReview GROWING UP FOR BEGINNERS by CLAIRE CALMAN

ABOUT THE BOOK

It’s not easy being a grown-up, but at 47, Eleanor hoped she’d be better at it by now…

But when Eleanor waves her daughter off for a gap-year trip, she finds herself stuck as a satellite wife, spinning in faithful orbit around domineering husband Roger, with only a stash of hidden books and her brilliant but judgmental father Conrad for comfort.Andrew isn’t mastering the art of growing up either. When he finds his belongings dumped on the drive, although he may not understand women very well, even he can see that this looks like some kind of hint… and so moves back in with his parents.Backing onto Andrew’s parents lives artist Cecilia, always ready to recount tales of her innumerable ex-lovers, whilst her daughters feel she’s like a misbehaving teenager.

But now four lives are drawn together by long-buried secrets of the past, and it is time for them all to grow up, before it’s too late.A desperate decision … A lost letter … A powerful secret hidden for thirty years…

Praise for Claire Calman:


‘A poignant and beautifully articulated tale of love and loss, memory and forgetting, grief and guilt, new love and letting go. I was engrossed, often tearful, and finally, uplifted.’ Isobel Wolff
‘Simply wonderful. I was totally enchanted, devoured it in a day, and have been raving about it ever since.’ Fiona Walker 


PUBLISHED BY BOLDWOOD BOOKS


PURCHASE LINK

Amazon


MY REVIEW

I found this book to be a really entertaining read, full of characters that you either find yourselves cheering for on their journey, alongside those who’d you clearly love to throttle!! The patience shown by some towards their ‘loved’ ones is worthy of a gold medal at times! But that’s like life, and I think this book captures the little moments many of us face throughout our lives – searching for meaning, looking to move on and finding the strength to break free from what we have become accustomed to.

And that applies in spades to Eleanor, one of the main characters we follow, as she has been married to Roger for 20 years! I think I’d struggle to stay married to him for 20 minutes! In his world it is his way, or no way! And Eleanor has gone along with his way of thinking to keep his moods quieter for the sake of her children, and her own sanity. But as the children fly the nest, she is facing that time in her life when she has to put herself first, follow her own passions and how difficult she finds it to think of herself for a change. He really is something else when faced with his wife wanting her own little bit of happy!!

The book goes backwards and forwards in time, surrounding Eleanor and a number of other characters – Conrad, her father, Andrew, the man who is restoring a painting for Conrad, and Cecilia and her 2 daughters who are all quite different in personalities and outlooks.

There are many aspects to this story that made it a fascinating read – the things parents do for their children throughout their lives, the sacrifices, the selfish behaviours on both sides, and how people deal with overbearing people in their lives . Maybe they mean well, but the controlling influence they inflict on their nearest and dearest can have serious consequences on the mental wellbeing of those they love.

★★★

THE WINDHAM-CAMPBELL PRIZES 2020 #WindhamCampbellPrizes #LivefromLondon

MALE AND UNDER-REPRESENTED VOICES DOMINATE THE WINDHAM-CAMPBELL PRIZES 2020

Windham-Campbell Prizes 2020 Prize Announcement ‘Live from London’

Thursday 19th March 2020 from 7pm GMT/3pm EDT

Livestream at www.windhamcampbell.org I #LIVEFROMLONDON I @WindhamCampbell

From Top Left:  Bhanu Kapil (poetry), Julia Cho (Drama), Yiyun Li (fiction), Maria Tumarkin (nonfiction)

From Bottom Left: Jonah Mixon-Webster (poetry), Aleshea Harris (drama), Namwali Serpell (fiction), Anne Boyer (nonfiction)

2020’s powerful, female-dominated line-up of Windham-Campbell Prize recipients unites a rich, international collection of writers whose challenging work explores pressing political and social themes across identity, culture and power. Now in their eighth year, the Prizes celebrate writers at every stage of their careers.

In poetry we recognise British-Indian poet Bhanu Kapil, known for exploring crucial questions of trauma, healing and immigration, and the incredible Jonah Mixon-Webster and his unflinching poetry tackling the public health crisis in his hometown of Flint, Michigan.

For drama we celebrate Julia Cho, the incredible talent behind The AubergineAleshea Harris, whose unflinching works confront the wounds of misogyny and racism.

Our prizes for fiction have gone to the prolific Chinese-born author of The VagrantsYiyun Li and Zambian author Namwali Serpell who explores themes of identity and belonging.

And in nonfiction we award Australian writer Maria Tumarkin, whose works explore the lives of ordinary people with extraordinarily painful pasts, and Anne Boyer, author of the searingly honest exploration of cancer The Undying.

Mike Kelleher, Director of the Windham-Campbell Prizes said about this year’s recipients, “This is such an exciting group of prize recipients—so many utterly original voices from so many different places. Their work digs deeply into everything from the poisoned water crisis in present-day Flint, Michigan to the vicissitudes of the surveillance state in an Afro-Futurist Zambia. To read the work of these eight writers—seven of them women—is simply overwhelming.”

In 2020 the Windham-Campbell Prizes celebrate eight winners in four categories, each of whom will receive $165,000 USD and whose names will be officially revealed on 19th March at 7pm GMT/3pm EDT.

The Windham-Campbell Prizes are one of the richest literary prizes in the world, with $1.32 million USD given to eight authors every year writing in English from anywhere in the world. Nominees for the Prizes are considered by judges who remain anonymous before and after the prize announcement.

The Prizes were the brainchild of lifelong partners Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell. The couple were deeply involved in literary circles, collected books avidly and read voraciously. They also penned various works, such as novels, plays and short stories, amongst others. For years they had discussed the idea of creating an award to highlight literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns. When Campbell passed away unexpectedly in 1988, Windham took on the responsibility for making this shared dream a reality. The first prizes were announced in 2013.

In September 2020, Yale University and the Beinecke Library will host a week-long festival of events to honour the winners.

About Windham-Campbell Prizes

Established in 2013 with a significant gift from Donald Windham in memory of his partner of 40 years, Sandy Campbell, the Windham-Campbell Prizes are among the richest and most prestigious literary prizes on earth. The community, camaraderie, diversity, and inclusive nature of the Prizes honours the spirit of their lives.

www.windhamcampbell.org @WindhamCampbell

ABOUT THE WINNERS

Poetry

Bhanu Kapil is a British writer of Indian origin who now lives between the United Kingdom and the United States. She is the author of a poetry blog, The Vortex of Formidable Sparkles, and six full-length poetry collections.Her most recent publication, Ban en Banlieue (2016), takes a mysterious being called Ban as its protagonist. “Ban,” Kapil tells us, is not an immigrant. She is not even a body, but a “bodily outline.” A passive-violent, beautiful-monstrous, familiar-strange, present-absence, “Ban” recalls but refuses to represent those individuals who are despised, displaced, or even “banned” by the neocolonialist nations in which they live. An earlier collection, Schizophrene (2011) likewise disrupts the familiar tropes of the diaspora story, arguing that “it is psychotic not to know when you are in a national space.” Of course, as Kapil shows us, national spaces are themselves a kind of mass psychosis, their border walls built not with bricks but with the bodies and minds of the marginalized. In all her work, Kapil’s primary interest is on these marginalized: those living on the bottom, along the edges, citizens of what she calls “the floor of the world.” Kapil taught for many years at Naropa University and Goddard College. In 2019, she was awarded the Judith E. Wilson Poetry Fellowship at the University of Cambridge. During this time, she completed her first full-length poetry collection to be published in the United Kingdom, How to Wash a Heart (2020).    

Jonah Mixon-Webster (United States) is a poet and conceptual/sound artist from Flint, Michigan. His debut poetry collection, Stereo(TYPE) (2018), was awarded the 2017 Sawtooth Poetry Prize and the prestigious PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry in 2019. In his acceptance speech, Mixon-Webster declared that his first ambition as a poet is “to tell the truth about what is happening in Flint, Michigan.” An artful and powerful work of poetic activism, Stereo(TYPE) uses oral history, government documentation, photography, and found text to tell the story of the ongoing public health crisis in Mixon-Webster’s hometown. With driving lyricism, he invites us into a Flint devastated by economic and racialized violence: its businesses, homes, and streets battered, its population winnowed. Intimate and violent, provocative and tender, mythic and ritualistic, Stereo(TYPE) compels its readers to become witnesses to environmental and social evil, and in so doing, to choose between radical solidarity with Flint—or complicity with those who have enabled the government’s relentless predation and persecution of its people. “Resistance,” Mixon-Webster writes, is to “occupy a wound / with a mouth.” Mixon-Webster is co-leader of the PEN America Detroit Chapter and is a 2019-2020 Writing for Justice Fellow. He has earned degrees from Eastern Michigan University and is currently completing his doctoral degree in Creative Writing at Illinois State University.

Drama

Julia Cho (United States)a native of Los Angeles, is the author of nine plays. Subtle, intimate, and wildly intelligent, Cho’s work explores the power and frailty of human connection—between cultures, between individuals, between generations, between institutions. Her characters are full of feeling but never sentimental; her plots are simple but rich with implication, their submerged meanings arising gradually, line by line, scene by scene. In Aubergine (2016), food becomes an act of translation between a young man and his dying father. In Office Hour (2017), Cho imagines an array of possible resolutions—some moving, some terrifying—to the story of an angry creative writing student unable to communicate with his classmates or instructors. In The Language Archive (2010), a scholar of dead and dying languages must confront his inability to express himself, and his own existential loneliness, to his estranged wife. Alternately lyrical and sharp, rigorous and whimsical, Cho’s plays demand that we listen: to feeling, to language, to one another. An alumna of Amherst College, UC Berkeley, the Julliard School and New York University, Cho also writes for television and film. She has been a recipient of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize (2010), the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwright Award (2005), the Claire Tow Award for Emerging Playwrights, and a Lilly Award among many other honors.

Aleshea Harris (United States) is an American playwright, performer, and screenwriter. Her debut play Is God Is won the American Playwriting Foundation’s Relentless Award in 2016. Critic Jeffrey Fleishman has described Harris as “a playwright in fierce struggle with America.” Is God Is and its follow-up, What to Send Up When It Goes Down (2018), confront the physical and psychological wounds of misogyny and racism, respectively. In the latter play, which Harris calls a “play-pageant-ritual response to anti-blackness,” a character tells the audience: “I looked down and realized the joke was on me, literally, all over me and in me.” Calling upon fairy tales and the novels of Toni Morrison, Greek myth and police reports, Harris’s work centres black bodies, celebrating them in their full spectrum of beauty and complexity: Love, rage, delight, recollection, speculation, and defiance all have a place in her character’s lives. A two-time finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize (2020, 2018), a two-time MacDowell Fellow (2019, 2016), a winner of the Helen Merrill Award for Playwriting (2019) and a winner of the Obie Award for Playwriting (2018), Harris lives in Los Angeles and performs her work around the world.

Fiction

Yiyun Li (United States) was born in Beijing, China and is the author of fournovels—the latest, Must I Go, is to be published in August 2020—two short story collections, and a memoir. Li started writing in English in her twenties, and from the beginning of her career her work has earned praise for its formal beauty, imaginative daring, and intense interest in both the small flames of ordinary lives and the sweeping fires of political and social change. Her first novel, The Vagrants (2007), paints a portrait of a provincial Chinese town at a moment of crisis, with a young woman about to be executed as a counter revolutionary. In recent years, she has continued to write about the complex and often difficult relationship between personal freedom and political agency. Kinder Than Solitude (2014) follows a group of friends after the Tiananmen Square protests; Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life (2017), an essay collection, is both an examination of the exterior forces that power Li’s writing—literary, personal, and political—and an interrogation of selfhood. In all her work, Li displays a piercing clarity of vision, and a committed, sometimes painful empathy for individuals and for the fragile bonds between them. A former fellow of the MacArthur (2010) and Whiting (2006) Foundations, among many other honours, Li is a Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University. Her work has been translated into more than twenty languages.

Namwali Serpell (Zambia/United States) is a Zambian writer who lives and teaches in the United States. Her short story “The Sack” (2015) won the Caine Prize in African Fiction, and her first novel, The Old Drift, was published to global acclaim. Praised as “dazzling” by Salman Rushdie, short-listed for two L.A. Times Book Prizes, and long-listed for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, The Old Drift was also named one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year by the New York Times, one of the 100 Must-Read Books of the Year by Time, and a book of the year by The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, and National Public Radio. The Old Drift tells the story of three families—with people of African, European, and Indian descent—living in Zambia over the course of two hundred years. Part historical adventure, part psychological realism, part futuristic thriller, and part magical realism, the novel is an audacious, lush, sprawling, and altogether brilliant celebration of the artifice of fiction. An associate professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, Serpell is also the author of a book of literary criticism, Seven Modes of Uncertainty (2014), as well as a forthcoming essay collection, Stranger Faces (2020). She currently lives in San Francisco.

Nonfiction

Maria Tumarkin (Australia) is a native of Kharkov, Ukraine and the author of four works of nonfiction: Axiomatic (2018), Otherland: A Journey with My Daughter(2016), Courage (2007), and Traumascapes: The Power and Fate of Places Transformed by Tragedy (2005). Tumarkin’s primary subject is the interrelatedness of past and present. For her, the continual presence of the past is generative as well as traumatic, each incursion a source of aesthetic, emotional, and ethical energy, an opportunity to imagine new ways of understanding collective and personal histories. In Axiomatic, for instance, Tumarkin uses a complex play of meditation, storytelling, and reportage to represent the lives of ordinary people with extraordinarily painful pasts. Her protagonists are asylum seekers, grieving parents, and holocaust survivors, and Tumarkin shows us how their pain both shapes them and is shaped by them; how, in a profound sense, their pain is them, just as it is now us, who have heard their stories. “As to us, me and you,” Tumarkin writes, “we are the broken vessel containing, spilling all over the place, those who came before us.” Tumarkin lives in Melbourne, Australia where she teaches creative writing.

Anne Boyer is an American essayist and poet. Her boundary-blurring body of work includes two books of nonfiction, a poetry collection, and several chapbooks. Most recently, her book The Undying: Pain, vulnerability, mortality, medicine, art, time, dreams, data, exhaustion, cancer, and art (2019) earned accolades for its formal inventiveness and searing prose. The story of Boyer’s experience with a highly aggressive form of triple-negative breast cancer, The Undying is not a traditional memoir but something altogether different and new; a fierce and funny experiment in cultural criticism and personal history, malediction and requiem. Here, as in her essay collection A Handbook of Disappointed Fate (2018), Boyer reveals herself to be a kind of intellectual knight-errant, a wanderer through territories difficult and diverse—cancer hoaxers, John Donne, Roman dream diarists, corporate greed—in search of an always elusive, often painful, but occasionally enchanting truth. Boyer’s honors include a Judith E. Wilson Fellowship from Cambridge University (2019-2018), a Cy Twombly Award for Poetry from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (2018), and a Whiting Award (2018). She lives and works in Kansas City, Missouri.

#BOOKREVIEW THE RECOVERY OF ROSE GOLD by STEPHANIE WROBEL

ABOUT THE BOOK

A chilling exploration into obsession, reconciliation and revenge in 2020’s must-read.
Rose Gold Watts believed she was sick for eighteen years. She thought she needed the feeding tube, the surgeries, the wheelchair . . .


Turns out her mum, Patty, is a really good liar.


After five years in prison Patty Watts is finally free. All she wants is to put old grievances behind her, reconcile with her daughter and care for her new infant grandson. When Rose Gold agrees to have Patty move in, it seems their relationship is truly on the mend.
But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty won’t rest until she has her daughter back under her thumb. Which is a smidge inconvenient because Rose Gold wants to be free of Patty. Forever.
Only one Watts will get what she wants.
Will it be Patty or Rose Gold.
Mother, or daughter?


PUBLISHED BY MICHAEL JOSEPH

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon
Goldsboro Books – signed edition
hive.co.uk


MY REVIEW

One of the most disturbing, twisted, compelling books I’ve ever read – and I loved every single minute of it!! It explores the relationship – if you can call it that! – between mother and daughter and a long history of abuse and control issues, all wrapped up under the cloak of ‘love’ and showing just how that affects those involved. Prepare yourself for very mixed emotions reading this book!

It’s difficult to know how to review this without giving too much away, but we join the story as the mother – Patty – is being released from jail, where’s she’s been serving a sentence for abuse as her daughter – Rose – has lived her life believing she was very sick, but found out not to have anything wrong with her. What did the mother do to her? And why? But it appears Rose has forgiven her mother for all that she did to her and is waiting for her mother as she’s released and wants to help with her rehabilitation.

What follows is a twisty tale of wondering just who is in control in this relationship – has the mother changed her ways and wants to make things right? Has Rose really moved on especially now that she’s a mother herself so can understand just how much that bond between mother and child is so overwhelming, that even when you’re doing wrong you think you’re only doing the best for that person?

I loved the different aspects and the examination of the family relationship over the years. We get to look back over the childhood of Rose, and see how she’s coping in the world now as a mother, and also get to see life from the point of view of Patty and how motherhood brought out her anxieties and how prison life has maybe affected her mind. With young Adam being the centre of both of these womens’ world now, there’s a very disturbing feeling that you get reading about these women and their past experiences are shaping their outlook on care – for themselves and those around them.

This book isn’t for everyone! But if you like your characters a little darker and a storyline that will shock you then I highly recommend it!!


★★★★

#BookReview THE MISSING LETTERS OF MRS BRIGHT by BETH MILLER @bookouture

ABOUT THE BOOK

You’ve met Mrs Bright. She’s that nice woman who lives three doors down and always smiles at you in the mornings. She’s planning her thirtieth wedding anniversary with her husband. She wants to travel, read endless books and take beautiful pictures. She’s been waiting for this forever.

For the past twenty-nine years, Kay Bright’s days have had a familiar rhythm: she works in her husband’s stationery shop, cooks for her family, tries to remember to practice yoga, and every other month she writes to her best friend, Ursula, and Ursula replies. Kay could set her calendar by their letters: her heart lifts when the blue airmail envelope, addressed in Ursula’s slanting handwriting, falls gently onto the mat.

Ursula is the only one who knows Kay’s deepest secret, something that happened decades ago that could tear Kay’s life apart today. Ursula has always been the person Kay relies on. Knowing she will hear from Ursula is like being sure the sun will rise tomorrow.

And now Ursula has stopped writing. Three missing letters doesn’t sound like a lot, but Kay gets out her shoebox of notes from her best friend, in case there’s something she overlooked. Ursula seems fine, but the further back she goes, the more Kay begins to question every choice she has made in her life. Which might be why, at ten o’clock one morning, Kay walks out of her yellow front door with a just a rucksack, leaving her wedding ring on the table…

An emotional and heart-warming novel for anyone who knows it’s never too late to look for happiness. Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineA Man Called Ove and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will fall in love with this feel-good and moving story that shows you that the best friendships truly last forever.

PUBLISHED BY BOOKOUTURE

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

A beautifully written book that had me reading through tears at times! It’s a story of a woman who has decided her life isn’t what she thought it was going to be and makes that brave leap from a safe and routine life, to following her dreams and finding out that there is more to life and how her actions also end up waking up the rest of her family from living life in slumber and learning to take chances.

When Kay decides to leave her husband, Richard, of almost 30 years the shock waves are felt far and wide – even she doesn’t know why she’s picked this moment but it’s something she knows that she needs to do.  She escapes to her bolthole in Wales to figure out things, while her daughter moves back to help her dad adjust to this news.

Throughout the book we get to see letters that Kay has written to Bear over the years, and we discover the identity of Bear when Kay goes to visit her in Australia. The women have been friends since school and it’s clear that they share everything with one another. Friendship is a big thing for Kay – she relies on Rose too to help her through and they’re always seemingly honest with her about whatever she has planned – they’re not afraid to burst her bubble if her plans get too out there!

We also hear from her daughter, Stella, who is dealing with her own issues in her relationship and work life and it was interesting to see how she had inherited that strong bond with her family from her mum, but still couldn’t work out what her mum was playing at and shows how complex that mother/daughter relationship can be at times.  You could feel the frustration from Stella especially as to why was her mum doing these things now – was this a mid life crisis thing?!

This was a book about being brave!  What happens if you step outside your comfort zone and grab hold of new chances in life and it was so inspiring. It also faces those ‘what if’ moments we all have  looking back over our lives and how just being honest can mean new starts for everyone. It was emotional and touching and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with all these characters and I look forward to reading more from this author!

★★★★

#BlogTour THE LAST VILLAGE by AUDLA ENGLISH #BookReview #TheLastVillage @AudlaE #RandomThingsTours

Delighted you have joined me today for the latest stop on the Blog Tour for THE LAST VILLAGE by AUDLA ENGLISH. My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of  Random Things Tours for putting this all together and letting me be part of it all.  It’s a real pleasure!

The Last Village by Audla English

· Paperback: 214 pages

· Publisher: Independently published (12 Oct. 2018)

· Language: English

· ISBN-10: 1723846171

· ISBN-13: 978-1723846175

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Village-Audla-English/dp/1723846171

ABOUT THE BOOK

CHILL WITH A BOOK AWARDS- PREMIER READERS’ AWARD WINNER

2019 AMERICAN FICTION AWARDS FINALIST- ROMANCE: HISTORICAL

The majestic Souter Lighthouse stands proudly at the edge of the cliff top surrounded by open grassy empty fields and overlooking a vast blue wilderness. Anna Charles knows nothing of the life that her grandmother once had here. It wasn’t until an unexpected engagement, that Anna discovered the past of her Gran and the truth behind an enduring love.

Seventy years earlier, Lillian Smith, had been part of the close-knit community that once thrived in the village that existed next to the lighthouse. A chance meeting with a sailor one day, would change the course of her life forever.

A moving novel set in the North East of England. The Last Village is an enduring love story which spans the 1940’s and modern day, binding the generations.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Audla English grew up in the North East of England. Born in Sunderland, a graduate of Newcastle University and living in South Tyneside, she is passionate about this wonderful region which acts as an inspiration to her writing. Her award-winning debut novel ‘The Last Village’ is a dual time-line historical fiction and is written as a dedication to the now sadly demolished Old Marsden Village which was built by the Whitburn Coal Company in the 1870’s. The Marsden Rock coastal setting is also used to weave a family saga style narrative around a beautiful part of north east England. The novel is a moving love story about the life of Lily, a young woman growing up with her friends in 1945 whereas the other side of the story, in 2017, is about Anna and her own discovery of her grandmother’s past life- it is a novel which spans and binds the generations through family and friendship.

Twitter @AudlaE   Website http://www.audlaenglish.co.uk/

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a charming and engaging story which combined the different timelines so well, and really gave you the different perspectives of how life had changed over the years for the characters.  It really captures the essence of a village that was demolished, but how important it was to the people who lived there and as Anna gets to hear the story from her grandmother Lily of her recollections, it opens up so much history and shows just how many stories go forgotten about as time moves on.

In the present, Anna is preparing for her own wedding, and is reminiscing about the lovely times she used to spend with her grandmother as she grew up but how she knows very little of the life her grandmother led whilst growing up, so it is lovely for both Anna and Lily to share time together and share stories that show that although time and expectations may have changed, at the heart is the need to surround yourself with good people and to be supportive of one another.

I loved looking back in time with the stories that Lily shared.  It tells of her experiences during the war and how the community all pulled together, but that childhood innocence they all had was taken by what they witnessed and lived through.  

Anna is dealing with her own issues as her wedding approaches, namely some bitchy comments from a so called friend, and really brings to light how circumstances can change people. Whilst Anna is all about finding ways to include those closest to her on her big day, others are more concerned about showing off and changing in personality.

It was a really lovely read and both timelines had so much to explore and enjoy.  With the historical aspect, alongside the human impact, it really gave you a sense of these characters and the dramas they had to face and there’s such a warmth about both Lily and Anna that you can’t help fall in love with the both!

★★★★

#BookReview Daisy’s Christmas Gift Shop by Hannah Pearl

ABOUT THE BOOK

Struggling to find the perfect Christmas gift? Step into Romantic Daze …


Daisy Kirk is a sucker for a love story, which is why she opened up her gift shop – because there’s nothing that makes Daisy happier than when she’s helped a customer achieve their own ‘happily ever after’ by finding the perfect Christmas gift for their loved one. And she absolutely does not just sell ‘soppy presents and frilly pants’ as her brother’s infuriating best friend, Eli, is so fond of suggesting.


The sad fact is that whilst Daisy is helping others with their love lives, hers is non-existent. But when unusual circumstances take Daisy and Eli on a road trip from London to rural Wales, will she finally get the happily ever after to her own Christmas love story?

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

This was a lovely read full of surprises for me as a reader! I was expecting a light and fun read full of romance – there was plenty of that but also a more darker, thrilling side with the main characters having to track down a missing family member, that took them all out of their comfort zone.

And the comfort zone for Daisy is her lovely gift shop, Romantic Daze! It’s her happy place and she’s all about helping other people finding the right gift for loved ones, whilst never getting the happy ever after for herself! She’s always been a romantic but never seems to be lucky in love.In the background there’s always been her twin brothers’ best friend Eli – they seem to have a flirty but argumentative relationship! There’s always that spark between them which is really exciting to observe – it’s like when you were at school and a boy would say mean things to you, and that would mean he fancied you!

A character I really enjoyed was Lily – she’s the best friend of Daisy and also runs the local sex shop so there’s lots of fun to be had there in this book! She’s a great support to Daisy and is of the opinion ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’!!

With a new bloke on the scene, you get to wonder if that will push Eli and Daisy together on a more permanent basis, but their attention is soon turned by the disappearance of her brother and that brought new twists to the storyline that made it even more compelling to get through each page to see if Daisy would get the happy ending she so richly deserves!!

★★★★

#BlogTour #Giveaway REACH FOR A STAR by KATHRYN FREEMAN #bookreview @rararesources @ChocLituk

Hello! Welcome along to the start of this Blog Tour for the fabulous REACH FOR A STAR by KATHRYN FREEMAN. My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all, alongside a great bunch of other book bloggers!

As well as my review, there’s a fabulous giveaway, so scroll down for further details of that!! 

Reach for a Star

What if your dreams were so close you could reach out and touch them?

How could anyone resist Michael Tennant, with his hypnotic blue eyes and voice like molten chocolate? Jessie Simmons certainly can’t. But Jessie’s a single mum who can’t sing to save her life – there’s no way she’ll ever cross paths with the star tenor.

At least that’s what she thinks until she’s unexpectedly invited to take part in a new reality TV show. The premise? Professional singers teach hopeless amateurs how to sing. The surprise? Jessie’s partner is none other than Michael Tennant!

As she becomes better acquainted with the man behind the voice, will Jessie find out the hard way that you should never meet your idols? Or will she get more than she bargained for?

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero.

With two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes come in many disguises.

Social Media Links –

Website: http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kathrynfreeman

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KathrynFreeman1

Giveaway to Win a PB copy of Oh Crumbs by Kathryn Freeman (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box 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.

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MY REVIEW

Another stunner of a story from Kathryn and this one had me under its’ spell from page one!  Who hasn’t dreamed of meeting their favourite singer and have them fall in love with them?!!  One of my favourite films is ‘Win A Date with Tad Hamilton’ and this book gave me all those feels!  Superstar celeb meets a ‘normal’ person and sparks fly! And that is exactly what happens to Jessie when she gets to meet Michael on a TV show!

Jessie is a normal kind of woman! Mother to 2 boys ,who love to tease her over her crushes on celebs, her escape in life is trashy TV and fantasizing over sexy blokes! One of which is Michael Tennant who is a dreamy star Tenor!  When a new TV show is announced where a singer is paired up with a ‘non singer’ (to put it politely!), her boys apply on her behalf and she gets chosen!!  She’s excited and petrified in equal measures but knows this is a chance to get more from her very beige life! Time to start living!

As often happens, it’s not the greatest of first meetings between them for the show but once they’re at ease with one another and there’s something about her that has Michael smitten! That thing is not her voice though, but seeing them rehearse together is really sweet and as they get to spend more time with one another, the attraction on both sides is clear for all to see.

The TV show becomes a very small part of the book as their story explores the downsides of dating a celebrity who is away touring so much and the different circles that they both live in.    Is she ready for the press attention? Is she just a passing attraction for him? I really enjoyed seeing these different aspects of a relationship explored.  

Their chemistry is amazing and I was just willing for them to find a way to make things work.  For him it seemed nice to spend time with someone dealing with normal life, not the normally shallow  and fame hungry women he meets, and for her she got to see the man behind the image and the glamour.

Full of fun and romance – I loved it!!

★★★★★

#BlogTour THE GLITTERING HOUR by IONA GREY #BookReview #RandomThingsTours #TheGlitteringHour @Iona_Grey @simonschusterUK

A huge delight to be the stop today on the Blog Tour for the beautiful THE GLITTERING HOUR by IONA GREY. My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for the copy of the book and for putting the tour together, and letting me be part of it all!

17th October 2019 | Paperback Original | £8.99

 ‘An epic story of joyous hedonism and desperate heartache. Just beautiful’ CATHERINE ISAAC 

‘Stunning’ VERONICA HENRY 

‘Gorgeously written … I loved it’ JILL MANSELL

 ‘An enchanting, evocative read  ‘THE SUN 

1925. The war is over and a new generation is coming of age, keen to put the trauma of the previous one behind them. Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing whose life is dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure; to parties and drinking and staying just the right side of scandal. Lawrence Weston is a struggling artist, desperate to escape the poverty of his upbringing and make something of himself. 

When their worlds collide one summer night, neither can resist the thrill of the forbidden, the lure of a love affair that they know cannot possibly last. But there is a dark side to pleasure and a price to be paid for breaking the rules. By the end of that summer everything has changed. A decade later, nine year old Alice is staying at Blackwood Hall with her distant grandparents, piecing together clues from her mother’s letters to discover the secrets of the past, the truth about the present, and hope for the future.

PRE-ORDER LINKS

Amazon UK

hive.co.uk

whsmith

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Iona Grey has a degree in English Literature and Language from Manchester University, an obsession with history and an enduring fascination with the lives of women in the twentieth century. She lives in rural Cheshire with her husband and three daughters. She tweets @iona_grey.

MY REVIEW

A book that made time reading it fly by  and totally transported me back in time and into the lives of Selina and Lawrence, who were from totally diffeent backgrounds but for one summer circumstances brought them together.  And that Summer has big consequences for little Alice 10 years later, and it was mesmerizing to see what transpired through her eyes and the letters she uncovered.

In 1925 the war is over and Selina is living a footloose and fancy free life! She is on the ‘bright young things’ and her biggest struggles in life are deciding what to wear to the numerous parties she frequents!  One of the parties she’s at is a treasure hunt party and while she’s out with her friends deciphering the clues, she finds herself taking care of an animal and gets help from Lawrence. He’s a struggling artist who is aware of who she is, but goes out of his way to help her that night and that kindness really strikes a chord with her and she can’t stop thinking about him.  She finds herself spotting him at various exhibitions and parties and the more time they spend together, the more they find they can’t live without one another – despite it not being the done thing considering their backgrounds.  Selina has never been one to follow the rules anyway so any chance she gets to spend time with him, she grabs it!

Fast forward 10 years and we follow the story of Alice, who is 10 and living with her grandparents at Blackwood Hall. Her life is one of being left alone, aloof grandparents and governesses, and she  clings to the letters that her mother sends her while she’s away on business with her father. Her mother sets her a treasure hunt through the letters in the form of riddles to help her understand who she is and where she comes from as she gets to see the events of 1925 played out through memories of her mother.

The switching of timelines is perfectly played out throughout this story.  And it really adds to the emotional aspect that runs from the first page to last.  You can’t help but feel sad for Alice who is seemingly so alone and just wants the comfort of her family.  The riddles she is set are wonderful for her inquisitive mind though and gives her hope that she’ll be back with her family soon.

Events of 1925 aren’t all fun and games though and it was so fascinating to see the light and dark aspects of what appeared to have been so glamorous and carefree.  As more revelations of what happened over that summer and the years after come to light, I was enthralled to see just how the stories would resolve and didn’t realise just how emotionally I had become attached to Alice in her journey of discovery.  Captivating!

★★★★★

#BookReview DON’T THINK A SINGLE THOUGHT by DIANA CAMBRIDGE

ABOUT THE BOOK

1960s New York, and Emma Bowden seems to have it all – a glamorous Manhattan apartment, a loving husband, and a successful writing career. But while Emma and her husband Jonathan are on vacation at the Hamptons, a child drowns in the sea, and suspicion falls on Emma. As her picture-perfect life spirals out of control, and old wounds resurface, a persistent and monotonous voice in Emma’s head threatens to destroy all that she has worked for…

Taut, elegant and mesmerising, Don’t Think a Single Thought lays bare a marriage, and a woman, and examines the decisions – and mistakes – which shape all of our lives.

published by LOUISE WALTERS BOOKS

publication date – 26th September 2019

PURCHASE LINKS

Publisher Website 

Amazon 

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

A really stylish and magnetic story centred around a truly fascinating character, who seemingly had it all along but also had many demons which impacted the way she lived her life from childhood to adulthood, and no matter how many pills she took or therapists she talked to, it was never enough to set her on the path for a quiet life.

Set in the Hamptons it’s a story of Emma who is plagued by ill health which would leave her in bed for days, unable to function normally and despite the best efforts of her husband and a move to the beach, it seemed nothing would ever make her life an easier one.

The story often goes back to Emma and her childhood, where she witnessed a traumatic event and had a poor relationship with her parents and as you watch over this character as time goes on, you get to see the struggles she has with herself, whilst wondering over her reliability as a narrator. There’s always that unease about her as you see her struggle through, acting erratically and even when she gets back to writing she is plagued by events that she cannot shake out of her mind.

Her honesty as a writer earns her huge success and many fans but that success doesn’t last forever, and the voices in her head start to get louder once more – is tragedy always going to follow her around?

I really enjoyed how involved you became as a reader with this book. The anxiety Emma suffers is brilliantly portrayed and by repeating the past is she just hoping that things will change in the end or is there no other way out for her? A sophisticated and engaging read, which I highly recommend.

★★★★

#BookReview After The End by Clare Mackintosh

ABOUT THE BOOK

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son.

What if they could have both?

A gripping and propulsive exploration of love, marriage, parenthood, and the road not taken, After the End brings one unforgettable family from unimaginable loss to a surprising, satisfying, and redemptive ending and the life they are fated to find. With the emotional power of Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, Mackintosh helps us to see that sometimes the end is just another beginning

PUBLISHED BY SPHERE

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK 

hive.co.uk

whsmith

MY REVIEW

This was a very emotive story that cleverly explores the ‘what if’s’ around a married couple dealing with their terminally ill son but disagreeing on the course of treatment for him. The alternate storylines threw me a little bit when I first started reading them, but it soon made perfect sense in allowing the story to be told in this way and really added to your experience of reading as you’d put yourself in that position and wonder what you’d do in a similar position.

Max and Pip are a happily married couple who should be living life to the fullest with their son Dylan, but he’s in hospital with a brain tumour so his life is medication, tube feeding and being made ‘comfortable’. Pip is by his side constantly – her world is the hospital and the other parents and children on the ward – her husband is still working flying back to the US on and off, whilst still consumed by thoughts of his son. When the news about his condition worsens, the split in the outlook of Max and Pip becomes clear – what’s best for Dylan? How do you decide if you can’t agree? So a court case is the way forward…

The story then splits to the alternate timelines – what would happen if Pip got her way to let him die with dignity? and what would happen if Max got his wish to try new treatments in the US? This opens up a great insight into how life could turn out in both scenarios and really showed that there is no real right or wrong in such a tragic situation.

WE also get the viewpoint of Laila, a Dr working at the hospital and dealing with Dylan and how he impact affects her and I really liked seeing this different persepective from someone who has to deal professionally but can’t help but get emotionally attached.

It also brought to light the impact that the role of the media plays – how the public take sides in matters such as these – the abuse that the parents could receive from people who didn’t know all the facts but would make their minds up from what they read in the papers or saw on TV.

I was totally absorbed in this story and found the way the different outcomes were allowed to play out was quite refreshing in the way that it let you see the ‘after’ story evolve, often in ways I didn’t expect. A very moving story.

★★★★