#GuestPost STRICTLY ON ICE by HELEN BUCKLEY #PublicationDay @ChocLituk @HelenCBuckley

An honour, as always, to share my Blog with an author on publication day and today it’s the turn of HELEN BUCKLEY who releases STRICTLY ON ICE into the world today!! Congratulations Helen!! So excited to read this release!

So now here’s a little piece from Helen who shares some thoughts on her book and what inspired her to write it.. over to you Helen!!

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When Dancing on Ice airs each January, speculation abounds about which skating pairs are hooking up, or falling out, behind the scenes. I love all the gossip and the drama, not to mention the amazing skating, so it seemed like the perfect setting for a fun, romantic story. I love writing about fame and slow-burn romances, and Strictly on Ice is my second novel, the first in a new series to be published by Choc Lit.

In the book, Katie is a former Olympic skating champion with a busted ankle and a bad attitude. She takes part in a new TV show to earn some cash, but she gets more than she bargained for when she’s partnered with a love-rat rugby player, and finds that her ex-boyfriend is on the judging panel!

The joy of writing Strictly on Ice was the excuse to really delve into the world of figure skating, to watch beautiful and breath-taking routines by the likes of Yuna Kim, Nathan Chen, Mao Asada, Evgenia Medvedeva, and of course, our very own Torvill and Dean.

It’s a beautiful and awe-inspiring sport, and I hope I capture some of the magic of it in Strictly on Ice.

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About the Book:

When falling in love comes with the risk of falling flat on your face …

Former Olympic skating champion Katie Saunders is well known for her ‘ice queen’ persona in the press. On the face of it, perhaps Katie should have forgiven her former skating partner and ex-boyfriend, Alex Michaelson, for the accident that shattered both her ankle and their Olympic dreams – but she just can’t seem to let it go.

When Katie reluctantly agrees to take part in a new TV skating show, it’s only because she’s desperate for cash. What she didn’t count on is the drama – not only is she partnered up with infamous love rat rugby player Jamie Welsh, but one of the judges is none other than Alex Michaelson himself.

As the show progresses, will Katie be shown the hard way, once again, that romance on the ice should remain strictly off-limits?

PURCHASE LINKS

Kindle UK . 

Apple Books . 

Kobo . 

Nook

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Helen Buckley lives in Bedfordshire with her husband and two sons. After working in the charity sector in the UK and abroad, she turned her hand to writing and her first novel, Star in the Shadows, was published in 2019.

She writes any moment that she can, enthralled by stories of fame, romance and happy ever afters. Apart from being addicted to writing and enjoying soft play with her sons, she’s an avid reader, action-movie fan and chocolate addict. 

Follow Helen on Twitter: @HelenCBuckley Like her page on Facebook: Helen Buckley author

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#BookReview BIRDSONG IN A TIME OF SILENCE by STEVEN LOVATT #nonfiction #nature

ABOUT THE BOOK


A lyrical celebration of birdsong, and the rekindling of a deep passion for nature.

“At this time of year, blackbirds never simply fly: instead, like reluctantly retired officers, they’re always ‘on manoeuvres’, and it’s easy to see from their constant agitation that for them every flower bed is a bunker, every shed a redoubt and every hedge-bottom a potential place of ambush”

As the world went silent in lockdown, something else happened; for the first time, many of us started becoming more aware of the spring sounds of the birds around us. Birdsong in a Time of Silence is a lyrical, uplifting reflection on these sounds and what they mean to us.

From a portrait of the blackbird – most prominent and articulate of the early spring singers – to explorations of how birds sing, the science behind their choice of song and nest-sites, and the varied meanings that people have brought to and taken from birdsong, this book ultimately shows that natural history and human history cannot be separated. It is the story of a collective reawakening brought on by the strangest of springs.


PUBLISHED BY PARTICULAR BOOKS

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

This was a wonderfully relaxing and insightful book, as the author looks back at a strange old year – 2020! – and how it affected the way we interacted with birds and wildlife given that so many of us had more time at home, and more hours to notice the sounds coming from our gardens, parks and woodland areas.

For the author, the sound of birdsong evoked many happy childhood memories and I could totally relate to that. Even as I read the book, I sat out in my garden listening to the many varieties of birds that visit the very well stocked bird tables I provide! And it’s that connection with birds that I enjoyed so much about this book. It explores different types, their characteristics and the amazing stories about migration and their battles for survival.

In lockdown the world was a much quieter place – oh to have that back! – with less traffic on the roads, no planes in the sky and the author picks up on each season through the last year and how that affected the wildlife around us and how we interacted with it, given that we were exploring local areas more and spending more time noticing the little things in life we took for granted and often ignored!

It also touches on climate change and how that is affecting the various species, along with the destruction of local habitats – as I read the book, I could hear a neighbour hacking back a shrub much loved by a large group of sparrows – and it really shows how important our actions impact on that of the bird populations.

I have learned so much from this book and it has also helped me appreciate visits from our feathered friends and to do more to make sure they continue coming! It also brilliantly sums up the experiences of the past year and how that has made more of us connect with nature and our surroundings. I just hope that many don’t forget about the joys that our gardens and wildlife have bought us over the past year and that they will start changing their ways to help wildlife a little more – I have my doubts but there is hope!

The author has a beautiful way with words and it was just a pleasure to read from start to finish!

★★★★★

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview THE KINDNESS PROJECT by SAM BINNIE @HeadlineFiction

ABOUT THE BOOK


Help the baker’s ex-wife widow
Find the true calling for the village shop owner
Call a truce on a decades-old feud
Forgive me…?

The locals of the Cornish village of Polperran are grieving the sudden loss of Bea Kimbrel, a cornerstone of their small community.

Now her reclusive, estranged daughter Alice has turned up, keen to tie up Bea’s affairs and move on.

But Alice receives a strange bequest from Bea – a collection of unfinished tasks to help out those in Polperran most in need.

As each little act brings her closer to understanding her mother, it also begins to offer Alice the courage to open her clamped-shut heart. Perhaps Bea’s project will finally unlock the powerful secrets both women have been keeping…

THE KINDNESS PROJECT will draw you deep into the lives of two compelling women who should never have missed their chance to say goodbye. It will break your heart – and piece it back together again… 


ebook – out now

paperback – out 8th July 2021


PURCHASE LINK


Amazon

MY REVIEW

You can’t escape the message of ‘Be Kind’ all around right now, so it’s only right that you do yourselves a favour and treat yourself to this book as it will give you all the warm and huggy feels and being kind to yourself is a great place to start with your own kindness project!!

It’s an emotional story from the start as Alice is travelling home after hearing that she has lost her mum. They were never close and she never even got invited to the funeral, so it feels odd to her to be travelling back ‘home’ and starts her thinking about the relationship troubles that she had with her mother.

Alice and Bea are very chalk and cheese personalities. Bea was a free spirit, very outgoing and always willing to help others around her. Whereas Alice is very closed off, loves her routine, her little bubble and goes out of her way to avoid people. She was very much a Daddy’s girl and it seems that the troubles between mum and daughter started years ago, and we see why they made such an impact on Alice.

Bea’s final wishes were for Alice to continue with the Kindness Project she had set up – an alien concept to Alice! Bea had made a real impact on the community she lived in, and I think it overwhelms Alice a little to see what her mother was doing for others.

As Alice spends more time going through her mothers’ things, the memories start to flood back and the regrets begin to build. Just where had it all gone wrong for them both, and why had they not just faced up to the problems and talked it through. That’s a big thing you take away from this book – time gives you a different perspective on things that happened and you shouldn’t wait until it is too late to make things right, or clear the air. Through the letters that Bea leaves her daughter, and talking to the locals who knew and loved her mum so much, she begins to learn more of the past than she was aware of before.

I loved how Alice took so well to the tasks she was set and I think helping others ends up helping her more as she gets out of her own head, and out of the rut that she found herself in. She realises that she needs to take control of her life, and sometimes all it needs is just a little bit of kindness that can go a long way in brightening someones day!

A really touching and heartwarming story!

★★★★

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 6th March 2021

Hello! Happy Saturday! I hope your week has been a good one and March seems to be behaving itself… so far! Long may that continue!
Another good bookish week for me, although I haven’t felt like I’ve read as much as I could have!  I still managed to get 4 books finished and there’s been one visit to Netgalley! That’s always a positive in my eyes!
Here’s my look back….


BOOKS FINISHED


THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT by WALTER TEVIS (audiobook) – 3 stars

BIRDSONG IN A TIME OF SILENCE by STEVEN LOVATT – 5 STARS

THE VIEW WAS EXHAUSTING by MIKAELLA CLEMENTS – 4 STARS

ROSIE SHADOW by LOUISE WORTHINGTON – 4 STARS

BOOKHAUL


What tempted me at Netgalley I hear you cry?!


A SECRET SCOTTISH ESCAPE by JULIE SHACKMAN

publication date – May 2021

When Scotland’s sleepiest hamlet becomes the centre of hot gossip, Layla Devlin finds herself caught in a mystery…

When Layla’s fiancée has an unexpected heart attack and dies – in another woman’s arms, no less – Layla is determined to pack up and leave Loch Harris, the village she’s always called home. But an unexpected inheritance and love for her quiet corner of Scotland send her down a new path.

Now Layla finds herself facing a whole new kind of drama. Rumours swirl that a celebrity has moved into Coorie Cottage and Layla is determined to have him headline her opening night at local music venue The Conch Club. But the reclusive star is equally determined to thwart Layla’s efforts. Rafe Buchanan is in hiding for a reason, and soon his past comes to Loch Harris to haunt him…

And I treated myself to this one for 99p…

RABBIT HOLE by JOHN RICHTER

How far would you go to solve a murder?

Elaine Napier, an investigative journalist who is made redundant from her job, decides to record a true-crime podcast. All she needs is a story.

When Elaine stumbles upon the five-year-old cold case of Katrin, she begins an investigation that will quickly become a fixation.

After an early breakthrough, Elaine’s investigation leads her to Hannibal Heights, an apartment building that Katrin helped to design. The building is home to a sinister taxidermy museum, a host of intriguing residents, and more than its share of secrets.

But despite the obvious danger, Elaine’s obsession continues to grow.

As her investigation threatens to spiral out of control, Napier receives threats and police pressure to shut the broadcast down.

Can Elaine solve the mystery and keep her own sense of right and wrong intact?

Or will the shocking truth distort everything Elaine holds dear?


And from Unbound, I received my copy of this one…


NOTEBOOK by TOM COX

out March 2021

Sure, sex is great, but have you ever cracked open a new notebook and written something on the first page with a really nice pen?

The story behind Notebook starts with a minor crime: the theft of Tom Cox’s rucksack from a Bristol pub in 2018. In that rucksack was a journal containing ten months worth of notes, one of the many Tom has used to record his thoughts and observations over the past twelve years. It wasn’t the best he had ever kept – his handwriting was messier than in his previous notebook, his entries more sporadic – but he still grieved for every one of the hundred or so lost pages.

This incident made Tom appreciate how much notebook-keeping means to him: the act of putting pen to paper has always led him to write with an unvarnished, spur-of-the-moment honesty that he wouldn’t achieve on-screen.

Here, Tom has assembled his favourite stories, fragments, moments and ideas from those notebooks, ranging from memories of his childhood to the revelation that ‘There are two types of people in the world. People who fucking love maps, and people who don’t.’

The result is a book redolent of the real stuff of life, shot through with Cox’s trademark warmth and wit.

CURRENTLY READING

THE CAT AND THE CITY by NICK BRADLEY

THE WONDER by EMMA DONOGHUE – Audiobook

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#BlogTour A SONG FOR A NEW DAY by SARAH PINSKER #BookReview @HoZ_Books

Delighted to be with you today to share my thoughts as part of the blog tour for A SONG FOR A NEW DAY by SARAH PINSKER. My thanks to the author and publisher for letting me be part of it all!


ABOUT THE BOOK

An unnervingly prescient, Nebula-award-winning novel explores life in a world permanently locked down in the aftermath of a pandemic.

BEFORE

.Luce Cannon is on the road. Success is finally within her grasp: her songs are getting airtime; the venues she’s playing are getting larger. But mass shootings, bombings and now a strange contagion are closing America down around her. The gig Luce plays tonight will turn out to be the last-ever rock show as the world’s stadiums, arenas and concert halls go dark for good.

AFTER.

Rosemary is too young to remember the Before. She grew up, went to school and worksin the virtual world of Hoodspace. Working for StageHoloLive, which controls what is left of the music industry, her job is to find new talent, search out the illegal backroom jams and bring musicians into the Hoodspace holographic limelight they deserve. But when Rosemary sees how the world could actually be, that won’t be enough.


PRAISE FOR A SONG FOR A NEW DAY….

‘Sarah Pinsker has written a wonderful epic about music, community, and rediscovering the things that make us human’ Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky.

‘The combination of technothriller, rock-and-roll novel, and rebellion in a dystopian world make for a riveting, sweet, funny, angry, gorgeous read’ Cory Doctorow, author of Walkaway.

‘A compelling book about the importance of music – and any sort of art – in a world where it seems like the least essential thing. This is an expertly drawn post-catastrophe world peopled by compassionately written characters’ Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Mercy.

‘An all-too plausible version of the apocalypse, rendered in such compelling prose that you won’t be able to put it down … A lively and hopeful look at how community and music and life goes on even in the middle of dark days and malevolent corporate shenanigans’ Kelly Link, author of Get it Trouble.

‘Woven through Pinsker’s meticulously crafted future of technology-enabled isolation and corporate-consumerist powerlessness is a stirring anthem against the politics of fear. A dazzling tale told in multiple voices, with not a single note out of place. This is the lyrical protest song that we have always needed, perhaps more so now than ever’ Ken Liu, author of Grace of Kings.

‘Cements Pinsker’s status as a rising star in the world of speculative fiction … A gorgeous novel that celebrates what can happen when one person raises her voice’ Kirkus.

‘This excellent debut novel by Nebula winner Pinsker establishes her as an astonishingly impressive writer of day-after-tomorrow SF … This tale of hope and passion is a remarkable achievement’ Publishers Weekly *STARRED REVIEW*.

‘In A Song for a New Day, liberty and creative endeavour are compromised by political and socioeconomic reality. Pinsker presents a frighteningly real near-future US … Pinsker movingly charts Rosemary’s coming-of-age story as her world and Luce’s collide’ Guardian.

PUBLISHED BY HEAD OF ZEUS

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Pinskeris a singer, songwriter and author. Her short storieshave won the Nebula, Sturgeon and Philip K. Dick Awards.Currentlyfinishing her second novel and fourth album, she lives with her wife in Baltimore, Maryland and can be found online at Twitter and Author Website

MY REVIEW

Imagine a world in Lockdown! A world without live music!  After our experiences in 2020, this concept is our reality – hopefully for not much longer though! – and in this book it explores that life where people have to access a virtual world to ‘experience’ music.  For those brought up in the ‘lockdown’ world, they see this as a great invention, but for others who lived and worked in music beforehand, you just cannot beat the real thing of seeing concerts in the flesh and they try to bring back that world.

In the before world, Luce is just hitting the big time in music! Sell out concerts, music played on the radio – all her dreams are coming true! And then the world shuts down and her life is changed again. She struggles to find meaning in the world without music, so she’s driven underground.

For Rosemary, her only experience of ‘live music’ is online via the virtual world and she finds herself working for the company that has to search out new talent, so their ‘gigs’ can be put online for people to watch and pay for.  As she crossed the country she begins to get the buzz about ‘real music’ and she finds herself in the company of Luce and her new band and begins to understand why so many are unwilling to ‘sellout’.

I loved the passion and energy in this book.   It really captures that love people have for hearing live music and being part of a crowd in a room where the energy is electric. That cannot be replicated in the virtual world and Rosemary gets to see this for herself and changes her viewpoint of the company she is working for.  

This is a book that will resonate with so many of us after our experience of the past year – all that you worked for taken away from you just like that, and there’s nothing you can do about it! Be grateful for the humans who continue to create and won’t be silenced!!

★★★★ 

#BlogTour Old Bones by Helen Kitson #BookReview #OldBones @Jemima_Mae_7 @LouiseWalters12 @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours

Delighted to be part of the Blog Tour today for OLD BONES by HELEN KITSON. My thanks to the author, publisher and Emma of Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for putting this all together and letting me be part of it all!

Book Blurb:

Diana and her sister Antonia are house-sharing spinsters who have never got over their respective first loves. Diana owns a gift shop, but rarely works there. Antonia is unemployed, having lost her teaching job at an all girls’ school following a shocking outburst in the classroom after enduring years of torment. Diana is a regular at the local library, Antonia enjoys her “nice” magazines, and they treat themselves to coffee and cake once a week in the village café. Naomi lives alone, haunted by the failure of her two marriages. She works in the library, doesn’t get on with her younger colleagues, and rarely cooks herself a proper meal. Secretly she longs for a Boden frock.

 When a body is discovered in the local quarry, all three women’s lives are turned upside down. And when Diana’s old flame Gill turns up unexpectedly, tensions finally spill over and threaten to destroy the outwardly peaceful lives all three women have carefully constructed around themselves. 

Helen takes us back to the fictional Shropshire village of Morevale in this, her brilliant second novel which exposes the fragilities and strengths of three remarkably unremarkable elderly women.

Publishing Information:

Published by Louise Walters Books in paperback and digital formats on 18th January 2021

PURCHASE LINKS

 Louise Walters Books: http://bit.ly/37dpwKM 

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2LPuDKI

 Foyles: https://bit.ly/3pdjamn 

Waterstones: http://bit.ly/3660WMc 

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/365gdwN

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Helen lives in Worcester with her husband, two teenaged children and two rescue cats. Her first poetry collection was nominated for the Forward Best First Collection Prize. She has published three other poetry collections and her short fiction has appeared in magazines including Ambit, Feminist Review and Stand. She holds a BA (Hons) in Humanities.

Helen’s debut novel The Last Words of Madeleine Anderson was published in March 2019. Her second “Morevale” novel, Old Bones, will be published on 16 January 2021.

Social Media: Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jemima_Mae_7

MY REVIEW

What is it about the ‘quiet’ characters that just make them so fascinating and appealing to read about?! We have 3 female characters in this book who grab your attention in the way they look at the world, the way they interact with each other and those around them, and prove the adage that you should never judge a book by its’ cover – on the outside these women  are seemingly living a very peaceful, monotonous life, but scratch the surface and there’s so much to be found out!

A body discovered in the local quarry brings them all together.  Diana and Antonia are spinster sisters – they have their own beefs with the world, and both seem never to have recovered from their first loves.  Naomi lives alone and works in the local library, so she gets to know people through contact there.  

They all seem to live with the mantra of ‘suffer in silence’!  They live in their heads too much, playing back past regrets, and you’ll have moments when you want to shake them into action! But there’s something settled about the way they deal with life. But sometimes ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away.

I was enthralled with the story as it played out. The mystery of the identity man in the quarry, the secrets from the past that begin to reveal themselves, and the impact it has on the relationships of these women. One of those books that quietly lures you in and doesn’t let go of you easily!

★★★★★