Strictly Come Dating by Kathryn Freeman @KathrynFreeman1 @rararesources #romcom #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Strictly Come Dating by Kathryn Freeman. I have read quite a few of this authors books and I have always enjoyed them. Kathryn is an author who I will automatically read without even looking at the synopsis.

My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of this fabulous book.

Synopsis

Saturday nights are strictly for dancing… 

As the glitter ball shimmers and sequins flash, forty-year-old Maggie remembers the pull of the dancefloor.  But now, as a newly divorced mum of two, Maggie’s certain her dancing days are over.  Or are they…?

Encouraged by her friends, Maggie dusts off her silver stilettoes and enrols for dancing classes, all she needs now is the perfect partner.

Enter Seb.  Young, carefree and hot as hell, Seb is definitely a perfect 10!  Even though everything about him is outrageously inappropriate! But as Seb sweeps her across the dancefloor every week, Maggie begins to see a new side to him; kind, caring, funny, strong. 

And Maggie realises that he’s the only one she’d like to foxtrot with…perhaps even forever

Purchase Links from Amazon UKUS (the UK link is an affiliate link)

My Review…

This really did tick all the boxes for me. A gorgeous story of a single mum who has lost some of her confidence who has closed herself off to impulsive decisions and runs her life like she does her household, like a well planned military campaign.

Maggie and her daughters are a close family. Maggie is a busy working mum but Saturday night is when they meet up with friends and watch Strictly Come dancing. A routine that Maggie, the girls and the other friends take very seriously indeed. So when Seb arrives back home the ritual of the Saturday night takes on a slightly different dynamic.

Seb, by the way, has returned home because his dad isn’t well, he is the brother to Maggie’s friends. He is the opposite of the super organised Maggie. He is impulsive in the way he lives his life, a carefree man who is the stereotype of a surfer. But there is more to him than meets the eye.

I loved the way the author tackled the age difference in this story. Maggie is nearing 40 and Seb 11 years her junior. Maggie’s insecurities and reduced confidence made this an appropriate storyline. I mean why on earth would a gorgeous younger man be interested in a woman nearly 40, and that has children and who has no social life apart from meeting up with her friends for watching a dance show! Seb is such a carefree character who doesn’t have the ties of children, the responsibility of a demanding job and can come and go as he pleases. He has never had a relationship that has made him stop and think about his future.

The theme of the dancing show worked really well as the story gradually brings these two opposites together. There is more to both of them than first meets the eye. I did initially think Maggie was a little reserved but as I learnt more about her I could understand her reticence. As for Seb, while he appears to be a wandering free-spirit, again there is a lot more to him and given him a set of doubts.

Overall this is a wonderful read that is heartwarming and hopeful. It is a story that brings the troubles of being a single working mum taking a chance. It is about a man who is trying to work out what he wants in life. Characters brought together by a dancing show but not for the same reasons. A story of family, friendship, taking a chance on romance and one I would definitely recommend.

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.

I’ve two sons and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), so 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 – WebsiteTwitterFacebook

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The Hitman and The Thief by Richard Dee @RichardDockett1 @rararesources #bookreview

I am delighted to be one of the Book Bloggers openeing the Blog Tour and to share my review today for The Hitman and The Thief by Richard Dee. It has been quite a while since I read one of Richard’s books so I was looking forward to this one. My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour and for my e-copy of this book.

Synopsis…

Assassination can be a messy business, especially if you’re having a bad day.

Dan Jones is the ultimate problem solver, the hitman for crime boss Fliss Bauer.

Fliss has a rival, Kalindra Dallin. She runs a particularly unpleasant planet. Dan is told to arrange her demise. It’s just another job; until a random event means that it all goes horribly wrong.

To save his skin, Dan is forced to try again, only this time he has to work with a partner. He doesn’t want to but it’s the only chance he’s going to get; if he wants to put things right.

Can the hitman and the thief get the job done, more importantly, can they keep each other alive?

Beta Readers comments,

“Richard’s latest book, The Hitman and the Thief, takes the reader on a twisting journey through different worlds. The action moves swiftly, with unexpected twists and turns. As usual, Richard’s excellent technical knowledge conveys a gritty reality with ease. This is a fun read, hard to put down and I sure hope there is a sequel in the making.”

Purchase Link – HERE

My Review…

I really enjoyed this book, it is a mystery and crime read but with a sci-fi setting. The author wove a very addictive tale between Dan Jones a hitman and the thief… you will soon meet.

I really liked the feel of the storey with brief mentions of planets and their uses, it did give space and sci-fi feel but not full of convoluted jargon or tech-speak. This makes it a very accessible book for crime and mystery readers and especially those who prefer a cosy-mystery style read.

So, Dan, I do like this character who seems to have principles, well if an assassin can have principles. His latest job is to infiltrate another gang and kill their boss. It seems to be a simple plan, but, well, let’s just say that plans do not go according to plan!

There is a good amount of intrigue and it didn’t take me long to get into this book. It moves along at a reasonable pace and with a good amount of characters that are easy to remember I soon found myself turning the pages.

I really enjoyed this book, it was easy to follow and made for a relaxing read. A book that would fall in the genre of cosy mystery sci-fi – is there such a genre? AS I said earlier this is a book that is very accessible, yes it is sci-fi as such and this may put some readers off but it is also a very good mystery read that has an intriguing storyline and some interesting characters. I would definitely recommend it.

About the Author…

Richard Dee is from Brixham in Devon. Leaving school at 16 he briefly worked in a supermarket, then he went to sea and travelled the world in the Merchant Navy, qualifying as a Master Mariner in 1986. 

He has also worked as an Insurance Surveyor, Lockmaster, Harbourmaster and Ships Pilot, taking over 3,500 vessels up and down the Thames, passing through the estuary, the Thames Barrier and Tower Bridge.

Since the publication of his first Science Fiction novel, Freefall, in 2013, Richard has written another twelve novels, a textbook and a selection of short stories. He has been featured in several anthologies, including 1066 Turned Upside Down and Tales from Deepest Darkest Devon.

He writes Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures and also chronicles the exploits of reluctant amateur detective Andorra Pett.

Richard is married with three adult children and three grandchildren.

Social Media Links –

If you’d like to know more about my writing, my website is richarddeescifi.co.uk. Head over there to see what I get up to, click the FREE STUFF tab or the My Novels and Short Stories tab to get all the details about my work and pick up a free short story. Why not join my newsletter and get a free short story, unavailable anywhere else.

I’m on Facebook at RichardDeeAuthor and Twitter at Richard Dee Sci-Fi

My Amazon author page is here.

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Choices Shape, Losses Break by Nia Lucas @BooksNia @rararesources #bookreview

I am absolutely delighted to share my review today for Choices Shape, Losses Break by Nia Lucas. I am so pleased that Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources sent me a message about this book as I had missed seeing the post for the Blog Tour about it. Having read Nia’s previous book Loved Punked I knew I would be in for a good read, I wasn’t disappointed.

Synopsis

Shunned and struggling at home and school, teenager Lorna Davies clatters into chaotic and charismatic Shay O’Driscoll and Leon Barrett at an illegal rave in 1995. As Lorna’s talent for dancing sees her unexpectedly employed in the strobe-lit heart of 90’s club culture, her world is turned on its head by her budding friendship with Shay and Leon. For the boys, their high-risk lives endanger all three of them in an association that blurs the lines between friendship and dependency.

As the risks escalate, Lorna’s best friend Hannah, her brother Dan, her bully-turned-protector Nico and her unexpected friend Rosa watch with concern as she is thrust ever closer to harm in an intoxicating new landscape. When life-threatening events risk separating them permanently, Lorna, Leon and Shay juggle love, loyalty, sacrifice and exploitation as their lives change beyond recognition. Will the losses they face break them all?

Purchase from –Amazon UK (this is an affiliate link) or Amazon US

My Review

Once again this author has written an absolutely amazing novel. I am still at a bit of a loss as I sit and try and put my thoughts into some sort of order. So before I really get into it I am going to try and categorise this book into what genre I would put it in and actually it falls into several. I was wondering if there was such a thing as urban contemporary fiction and when I had a sneaky peek over on Amazon I discovered there was! It is also a coming of age, older teen romance and also a damned fine read.

The story is that of Lorna Davies, she is bullied, she has chores at home that are never done right or to a good enough standard in her mother’s opinion, she doesn’t have the best reputation and even the teachers expect her to achieve nothing. She is one of those girls who wants to live in the shadows as much as she can trying not to be noticed. Some of the accusations are down to her actions but are not worthy of the taunting and bullying.

Things change when she goes along to a club and loses herself to the music and she is spotted and asked to join two other dancers to dance on the podium spots, this then leads to being paid to dance. Friends are made and things start to change in Lorna’s life.

The author has the ability to completely captivate me with this story. A girl who is bullied who then starts to find a freedom from the taunts, and jibes. There is a problem however, one is her age, she is not yet 16, and also her out dancing at raves and in nightclubs actually leads an even bigger rift between Lorna and her mum.

The author has woven a storey of family friends, expectations, sacrifice and love. There is quite a strong sexual thread through this story and there are times it does border on the explicit. Now, I am not one for this type of thing in my reading but the author has tackled this in such a varied way. I am not going to elaborate any more but just be aware.

The characters of Leon and Shay are brilliant, and there are times I really wanted to knock their heads together and as I understood their backstories more I realised that understood how they acted and reacted as they did. Lorna, well, initially it took me a while to warm to her but as the story progressed I found a character that had a hell of a lot more gumption to her than I originally thought. The three characters support each other in different ways. It has a whole range of emotions and the ending is just unbelievable.

This is a fabulously addictive read that I absolutely adored. It is a book that I would Absolutely Recommend.

About the Author

I am a UK-based author of Contemporary women’s fiction who is passionate about writing amazing, strong and relatable female characters who readers really invest in- I love to write stories about the best mate you wish you’d had! My Welsh heritage and my life as a practising Social Worker with teenagers and their families heavily influences my work as does my love of all things 90’s, especially Rave and Clubbing culture. My first novel, ‘Love Punked’ is rated 5* on Amazon and my second 5* rated Novel ‘Choices Shape, Losses Break’ is now available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited!

Social Media Links – My Facebook Page is Nia Lucas Books where my latest news and updates are posted and readers can also follow me at @BooksNia on Twitter or @nialucasbooks on Instagram.

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Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers by Robin A Crawford @RobinACrawford2 #cauldblasts @eandtbooks #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review of Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers by Robin A Crawford. You would not believe how many time I have checked the spelling of those words!!! Spell checker is having an absolute field day with its wiggly red lines as well 😁

So this is a book about Scottish words and I have a few words here that you can have a guess at for a bit of fun. They definitions can be found below in the synopsis.

Do you know what these mean…

Clishmaclavers

Inkie-Pinkie

Sodie-heid

Smowt

Simmer dim

Dreich

I would like to thank Alison Menzies at Elliot & Thompson for my gorgeous copy of Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers. My thoughts are my own.

Publication: 20 August 2020

£9.99 B-format hardback

ISBN 13: 978-1-78396-478-9

The evocative vocabulary, wit and wisdom of the Scots language from Robert Burns to Twitter.

Scottish writer and bookseller, Robin Crawford, has gathered 1,000 Scots words – old and new, classical and colloquial, rural and urban – in a joyful celebration of their continuing usage. His amusing, erudite definitions put each of these words in context, revealing their evocative origins and essential character. Delightful line drawings by Scottish printmaker Liz Myhill contribute to this treasury of linguistic gems for language lovers everywhere.

The Scots language is intricately bound up in the nation’s history, identity, land and culture. It is also a living and vital vernacular, used daily. With references to Robert Burns mingling with contemporary examples from Billy Connolly and even Monty Python, Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers revels in the richness of one of our oldest languages, and acts as a precious reminder of words that are also beginning to fade away, their meaning and value disappearing.

 Clishmaclaver: the passing on of idle gossip, sometimes in a book.

Inkie-pinkie: weak beer.

Sodie-heid: literally, ‘head full of soda bubbles’, airhead.

Smowt: youngster, technically a young trout or salmon but also affectionately applied to a child. 

Simmer dim: Shetland term for long summer evenings where due to the northern latitude it never really gets dark.

Dreich: grey, miserable, tedious; usually applied to weather but indicative of the Scots temperament, hence it being voted Scotland’s favourite word in a recent poll (or perhaps indicative of the temperaments of Scots who feel the need to participate in online polls): ‘It’s gey dreich the day.’

Purchase from Amazon UK – KindleHardback (these are affiliate links)

So, were you right with what you thought the words meant? xx

My Review

I love learning new words and different dialects and local variants are always fascinating to me. I have lived in several counties so I have picked up local sayings. It amazes me how you can have different meanings for a word on adjoining counties. Having read fictional books written by many Scottish Authors I do find it really interesting to come across local words while reading.

So, the author has gathered 1,000 words from all walks of Scottish life, from farmers, fishermen, comedians and from years gone by. The words are a mix of old almost forgotten words as well as more mainstream ones that were more recognisable to me. I love how the author has brought so many words together as a way of bringing the past back to the forefront.

This book is ideal for dipping in and out of and I loved looking at the words and trying to guess those that I hadn’t come across before. Mostly I was wrong but that adds to the fun of this book. I have the hardback version and I have to say the cover is gorgeous and it also makes it the perfect book for leaving on the coffee table for others to enjoy.

A wonderful little book that is full of Scottish words that will amuse as well as test your pronunciation. I adored this book and I would recommend it to those who like to expand their vocabulary. I would also suggest that readers of Non-fiction and history would really enjoy this book as there are so many little anecdotes and historical snippets that have been included.

A brilliant book that I would absolutely recommend.

About the Author

Born in Glasgow, writer and Scottish bookseller Robin A. Crawford has a particular interest in the culture and natural heritage of his native land. He is the critically acclaimed author of Into The Peatlands: A Journey Through the Moorland Year, longlisted for the Highland Book Prize 2019. He lives in Fife, Scotland, with his wife. He is available for interview.

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Starcross Manor by Christie Barlow @ChristieJBarlow @rararesources #LoveHeartLane #bookreview

I am absolutely delighted to share my review for the latest book in the Love Heart Lane series called Starcross Manor written by Christie Barlow. I adore this series and I loved this latest addition. My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of this book.

So, shall we see what it’s all about…

Starcross Manor

Dying to know more about the brooding and mysterious Flynn Carter and the secrets behind his plans for Starcross Manor?

You won’t want to miss the next spellbinding chapter in the Love Heart Lane series – where friends are there for you no matter what.

When Julia Coleman meets Flynn Carter again in the cosy village of Heartcross it can only mean trouble. Flynn might be rich, brooding and sexy, but Julia knows first-hand he’s ruthless and she plans to watch his every move.

When Julia discovers Flynn’s plans for beautiful Starcross Manor her greatest fears come true.  Because Flynn’s dreams of turning Starcross into a luxury hotel could ruin Julia’s dreams…and finish off the community of Heartcross for good.

Flynn makes it clear he doesn’t want trouble, and he’s not the man Julia thinks he is.  As he sets about convincing the community he’s changed, he hopes he can convince Julia to give him another chance too…

Grab your own copy at Amazon UKUS ( UK link is an affiliate one)

My Review

What another absolutely fabulous read in the Love Heart Lane series, I was so glad to be back in the village of Heartcross and catch up with its residents once again. The focus of this story is that of local B&B owner Julia Coleman.

Julia is taken aback when she sees the rather handsome Flynn Carter back in Heartcross. She is not a fan of his after he stood her best friend up on her wedding day, and also that he paid far less for her Grandfathers cottage than it was actually worth. So what on earth is he doing back in the village?

Julia isn’t a mean person, but she really does manage to alienate him after calling a village meeting. When the locals realise that Flynn’s conversion of Starcross Manor into a luxury 5* hotel then what will happen to their businesses? How will they stay in business when those guests drive through the village to get to the hotel that literally has everything.

This was such an easy story to get into a short prologue led into such a wonderful story. The author really does bring the sense of community through in her stories, they feel right and give a great sense of belonging. Running alongside that are the gorgeous descriptions of the surrounding area and also of Starcross Manor, it sounds absolutely amazing.

I liked how the author wove Starcross Manor and the character of Flynn into this story. He is a main character right enough but also he seems to hover on the side stage as such. I think him living just outside the village and being busy with managing the conversion gives him more of a mysterious air.

We all know that being part of a community is all about doing the right thing when it really matters. It is also about admitting when you are wrong and trying to make amends. This story is about misunderstandings and there are some secrets and revelations that add to the drama that is unfolded.

A gorgeous one sitting read and one that readers of contemporary fiction, family and with a dash of romance will adore and if you are already up to date with this series then you are in for another wonderful treat. I am absolutely recommending this book.

About the Author

Christie Barlow is the number 1 International bestselling author of ten bestsellers including A Home at Honeysuckle Farm, Love Heart Lane and Clover Cottage. Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. The book she wrote to prove a point is now a #1 bestseller in the UK, USA, Canada & Australia.

Follow Christie on – TwitterInstagramFacebook

Head over to Christie’s Amazon Author Page for all her books

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Till next time, Yvonne 🙂 xx

Hunters Secret by Val Penny @valeriepenny @rararesources #crime #giveaway (open Int) #bookreview

I a delighted to share my review today for Hunters Secret by Val Penny. This is the first time I have read a book by this author and I am looking forward to reading the earlier books in the series.

My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of Val’s latest book.

I am still quite busy at the moment and I am not on Social Media very much at the moment, so any shares would be massively appreciated ❤

Hunter’s Secret

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. DCs Tim Myerscough and Bear Zewedu found a corpse, but when Hunter arrives it has disappeared, and all is not as it seems.

Hunter recalls the disappearance of a dead body thirty years earlier. The Major Incident Team is called in but sees no connection – it is too long ago. Hunter is determined to investigate the past and the present with the benefit of modern DNA testing.

Tim has other problems in his life. His father, Sir Peter Myerscough, is released from jail. He, too, remembers the earlier murder. There is no love lost between Hunter and Sir Peter. Will Hunter accept help from his nemesis to catch a killer?
Hunter’s own secret is exciting and crucial to his future. Will it change his life? And can he keep Edinburgh safe?

Purchase Link – HERE

This is the first time I have read a book by this author and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I do think I would have enjoyed it even more if I had read the previous novels in this series, although saying that it does work very well as a stand-alone.

So where to begin… this is a story with a past and a present and more than a few coincidences that make this is a very compelling read. The past is when two young friends discover a body, they then report it but the body then vanishes.

The present is 30 years later, very much a similar setting of a body that disappears after it being reported. The reason it is connected to an old case is down to DI Hunter, he was one of the young boys responsible for the discovery years earlier.

As the title suggests, this book has a secret, it is one of many and as the story progressed the full complexity is fully explored. I really liked the way the author created double and mistrust from the outset and it added a certain amount of excitement to the investigation. Working out the goodies from the baddies was interesting, to say the least, I do love it when you get the odd rogue thrown in for good measure. Secrets within the criminal world is an obvious thing, but sometimes this can cross over and that’s when things get really interesting.

I found there were quite a few characters to get my head around, and this is why I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I had started the series from the beginning. There is an obvious team camaraderie at work in the story as there is some very good banter between characters. They have friendships that are built up in a workplace and then also on a social level, I think this is something that is built up over several books. So as well as getting to know the coppers, I also obviously had to get to know various other characters. This did mean I slowed my reading, it is something I do enjoy every now and again.

I thought the story was great, it was intriguing and I really enjoyed the twisty journey I was taken on. I also really liked the more personal side to some of the characters, its not all about work!

I do wish I had read this series from the beginning before I jumped straight into book 5, and I would advise other readers not to do what I did! This is a cracking read that falls into police procedural, crime and is intriguing and has a dark plot to it. I really enjoyed it and I would definitely recommend reading it.

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However, she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels.

Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force and Hunter’s Blood form the bestselling series The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The fifth novel in the series, Hunter’s Secret, is published by darkstroke. Her first non-fiction book, Let’s Get Published is available now.

Social Media Link – TwitterFacebookWebsite

Giveaway to Win a .mobi of Hunter’s Secret by Val Penny (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.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Enter HERE – Good Luck xx

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The Bird in the Bamboo Cage by Hazel Gaynor #TheBirdintheBambooCage @HazelGaynor @HarperFiction @RandomTTours #RandomTTours #histfic #bookreview

I am absolutely delighted to be one of the Book Bloggers opening the Blog Tour and to share my review for The Bird in the Bamboo Cage by Hazel Gaynor. It is due to be published on 20th August in the UK and there are links further down so you can pre-order a copy. If you are lucky enough to live in Ireland it was published on 6th 🙂

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my stunning copy of this amazing book. Let me show you what it is all about…

War imprisoned them,
friendship set them free.

China, 1941. With Japan’s declaration of war on the Allies, Elspeth Kent’s future changes forever. When soldiers take control of the missionary school where she teaches, comfortable security is replaced by rationing, uncertainty and fear.


Ten-year-old Nancy Plummer has always felt safe at Chefoo School. Now the enemy, separated indefinitely from anxious parents, the children must turn to their teachers – to Miss Kent and her new Girl Guide patrol especially – for help. But worse is to come when the pupils and teachers are sent to a distant internment camp. Unimaginable hardship, impossible choices and danger lie ahead.


Inspired by true events, this is the unforgettable story of the life-changing bonds formed between a young girl and her teacher, in a remote corner of a terrible war.

**The following purchase links are Amazon affiliate links**

Pre-order you copy today –KINDLEHARDBACKAudiobook

This is an amazing book to read and one that opened my eyes to another aspect of WWII. The story of a group of Missionary School children living in China who were caught up in the war when Japan attacked Pearl Harbour. 

The story is told predominantly in two voices, a schoolgirl calledNancy Plummer (Plum) and her teacher Elspeth Kent. Between them, they tell their story of their time in Chefoo Missionary School, a boarding school where children live while their parents are off doing missionary work, are diplomats or doing work in areas where it is not suitable for children to live. 

Through Plum and Elspeth, I quickly learnt the routine of the school, children, teachers and local people who worked as servants. It sounded like a very idyllic life and in some ways quite privileged but with a sad side to it. Children had to come to terms with their parents work being more important. 

Things soon change as Japan enters the war. Disruption soon follows for the school as soldiers take over. The resolve of the teaching staff to carry on as best as possible really stands out. Elspeth uses the motto of the Girl Guides/ Brownies to help the girls through this transition. The emphasis of taking daily tasks and challenges and turning them towards earning badges gives the girls something to work towards especially when the school is moved.

The school is then moved again, this time to an internment camp. Illness, appalling conditions, lack of food and medical supplies make this is very glum and dissolute place. Again the resolve of the teachers is admirable and again making the best of a bad situation comes in to play. 

The story is one I read over a couple of days. It is a story that has a huge sadness around it but actually what comes through more than anything else is the feeling of hope, of friendship and of one day hopefully returning home to family. 

The author has created amazing characters, I immediately adored the main characters of Plum, Mouse, Sprout, Elspeth, and Mrs T. There are several other characters that have very important roles in the story as they provide support to their friends. There are obviously going to be characters that I am not going to like and I have to say I liked how the author dealt with a truly horrid and awful one. 

The author does characters and descriptions of setting so well. Research is obvious throughout the book and the whole story felt right. She does an amazing job of describing the awful conditions but in a way that mirrors the resolve of the staff to see the best in the conditions.

I adored this book and the way the author has woven a story around real-life events and true accounts. There is a wonderful list of books at the back of the book for further reading and also about how she was introduced to this story. It is interesting and well worth reading. 

This is a fabulous read, it took me through a range of emotions and also left me with a feeling that was heartwarming. It is a story of how a group of people are thrust into unthought-of conditions and situations. How that group then supported each other where possible. A story based on true events that readers are historical fiction needs to add to the reading list. It is an amazing book and one I would absolutely recommend.

Hazel Gaynor is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today,
and Irish Times, bestselling author of historical fiction, including
her debut THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, for which she received
the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. THE
LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER was shortlisted for the 2019
HWA Gold Crown award. She is published in thirteen languages
and nineteen countries. Hazel is co-founder of creative writing
events, The Inspiration Project, and currently lives in Ireland with
her family, though originally from Yorkshire.

Follow Hazel on – TwitterWebsiteFacebook

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Midtown Huckster (Alex Cohen #3) by Leopold Borstinski @borstinski @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours #histfic #bookreview

I am absolutely delighted to share my review for Midtown Huckster by Leopold Borstinski. This series is just getting better and better with each book. My huge thanks to Emma at damppebbles Blog Tours for my spot on the Tour and for my e-copy of the book. Let me show you more about the book…

Can you keep your gelt and freedom when the cops have enough evidence to take you down?

1930s Jewish gangster, Alex Cohen runs Murder Inc for Lucky Luciano. After the death of Prohibition he must find a new way to make money, just as the cops are baying at his heels. When Luciano goes down for racketeering, Alex loses his protection and is arrested for tax evasion–he must decide between saving his skin and ratting out his friends.

If he chooses prison time then his gang will fall apart and he will end up with nothing. If he squeals then he will have to flee the city he loves and the family he once adored. What would you do in a world where nobody can be trusted and you have everything to lose?

The third book in the Alex Cohen series is an historical noir novel, which plunges you deep into the early days of narcotics trafficking and the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s piercing crime fiction delivers a fix to every reader like heroin from a needle.

Purchase from Amazon UK (this is an affiliate link)

This is the third book in the Alex Cohen series and I having been enjoying it so much. This book follows on from the previous books and while you could read them as a stand-alone I would advise reading in order.

Set in 1930’s New York as prohibition is coming to an end and as President Hoover forms the Federal Bureau to investigate tax evasion and bringing the profiteers to justice.

As I mentioned, this story follows on from the previous books, these include Alex’s arrival in New York and his Jewish background. This book feels more involved as there is more secrecy as the investigators are getting closer to convicting the main bosses. Another thing that I noticed was slightly less Jewish terms, this kind of makes sense as Alex would have become more Americanised but, I also do miss them.

The book once again uses various points of history to keep the story in the right period, with mentions of Thomas Dewey who was a New York City prosecutor in the 1930’s and whose aim was to beat organised crime. I like these historical mentions as it makes for great additional reading outside of the story.

The journey Alex has made up to this point has been gradual, he is trusted and has respect but there are things afoot that are making him suspicious. Times are changing and not necessarily in Alex’s favour. As he has had his fingers in many pies and looks for more ways to earn a living, the more the investigators have to go on, and what they can’t find well…

Another excellent read in the series and I am so glad there are more planned book to follow, I am certainly interested in what happens next for Alex. This is an excellent series for Historical fiction readers and I would definitely recommend reading Midtown Huckster.

Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

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The Village Shop for Lonely Hearts by Alison Sherlock @AlisonSherlock @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #romance #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review for The Village Shop for Lonely Hearts by Alison Sherlock. This was such a wonderful book to read and my huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour and for my e-copy of the book. Let me show you more about the book…

A feel-good story of new beginnings set in a gorgeous country village, perfect for fans of Katie Fforde and Milly Johnson.


After losing her job in New York, Amber Green isn’t looking forward to visiting her godmother in the sleepy village of Cranbridge. With its empty lanes and rundown shops, it’s hardly a place to mend her lonely heart.

But when Amber discovers that Cranbridge Stores, owned by her godmother Cathy and son Josh, is under threat of financial ruin, she realises that her skills as a window dresser might just be able to help save the struggling shop.

When disaster strikes, Amber and Josh must unite to save both the shop and the village from flooding.

Can Cranbridge Stores become the heart of the village once more?

Purchase Link – Amazon UK (this is an affiliate link)

This is one of those heartwarming books that leaves you with a nice cosy feeling, it is also the first book in the Riverside Lane series and has left me wanting to read more.

Amber Green is visiting her godmother who also happens to be her mums best friend. Amber has vague recollections about the village of Cranbrook, but on her arrival, she finds a village that is past its sell-by date, it looks run down, neglected and not welcoming. The local shop looks no better and is a shop with everything but nothing that anyone wants.

Be3ing given an unexpected chance to get stuck into helping bring some order to the overstocked shop means she will be working with Josh. He had put his life on hold to help look after his mum and Gran and is stuck in a rut. Working together the two find a happy working relationship.

I liked the way the author showed how it is not only in larger towns and cities that loneliness occurs, it also happens in smaller communities. What was once a thriving community has long since gone, but there is a need for somewhere central, could the shop be just the place.

This was such a heartwarming story and one that had me willing the locals on, and especially willing Amber and Josh to make the shop a hub. There are some wonderful characters and I am hoping that I will see some of them in future books.

This was a wonderful way to pass a Sunday afternoon as I found myself captured by the village and residents of Cranbrook. A lovely read and one that readers of contemporary fiction and romance will really enjoy and it is one I would definitely recommend.

Alison Sherlock is the author of the bestselling Willow Tree Hall books. Alison enjoyed reading and writing stories from an early age and gave up office life to follow her dream. Her new series for Boldwood is set in a fictional Cotswold Village and the first title will be published in July 2020.

Social Media Links – TwitterFacebookBookbub

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Tales of the Countess by Cali Bird @calibird @BOTBSPUblicity #chicklit #QandA

Today I have something a little different for you. I have a wonderful Q&A with Cali Bird, the author of Tales of the Countess. This is one for chicklit fans and here is what it is all about…

How can a woman so capable at work be so useless at getting a man?

Kennington, London, 1998

The Countess of Kennington awakes one morning after a heavy night and realises it all has to stop.

She has to stop drinking her problems away. She has to stop acting irresponsibly. And she has to stop obsessing over the MSL: the Man She Loves.

But things are often easier said than done, and when she discovers the MSL is attending a conference where she is presenting, she cannot hold back her burgeoning hopes.

In a Sex In the City meets Toy Story scenario, the Countess lives in an unusual household where her chief confidantes, known as the accessories, are a collection of beloved handbags, a beautiful sheepskin coat and her teddy bear who provide her with support and advice.

As the conference gets underway, the Countess tries hard to focus on work, but encouraged by the accessories, she cannot resist the draw of the MSL.

The bags might talk but this is no kids book…

Tales of the Countess is a highly original chicklit novel by British author Cali Bird, about the need to find happiness in yourself before you get your man.

Buy it now for the perfect piece of romantic escapism.

Now for the Questions & Answers…

Hi Cali. Tell us about Tales of the Countess. What’s the book about?

The book is about the need to be happy in yourself and then you get your man. The main character, known only as the Countess is a modern woman, living in London, who is very capable in her work but useless on the relationship front. She drinks and parties too much and is faced with a situation where she really needs to sort herself out.

Is there any man in particular that the Countess has fallen for?

Yes. It is someone that she used to work with in New York. There had been a few sparks between them but he always insisted on remaining friends because of their work relationship. The book opens with her having left that job and returning home to London. She tries to get over him but then runs into him again through her work. She discovers they will both be going to the same conference which makes it much harder to put him out of her mind.

I’ve heard that some of the characters are handbags that talk. Is this true?

Yes. They are inspired by a collection of handbags that I already owned. I loved the film, Toy Story¸ where the toys are their own community and do their own thing while their owner, Andy, isn’t around.

I imagined the same thing happening with my handbags when I was out at work. When I bought a new one, and it became my new favourite, I always wondered what the others made of this and whether they were jealous.

Unlike Toy Story, the bags interact with the Countess. They try and advise her on her love life. When she gets upset because something has gone wrong, which seems to happen a lot, they support her through her emotions.

How did you decide what characters to give them?

That happened quite naturally as I started writing. One of them is very bitchy, while another is a girly-girl true romantic. The Countess’s teddy bear also features. I’ve always thought that teddy bears are very wise and her bear is no different. He works with the bags to try and support her. Later in the story she buys a beautiful sheepskin coat which has more of a tough-love personality and tells her a few home truths which initially, she doesn’t like.

Was it easier to write for them than the people in the book?

Yes. I always found that the conversations between the bags, including their squabbles, flowed easily.  

With the people characters it was important to make sure that they were realistic and carried the story forward in a way which works for the reader.

Do you have a favourite bag?

Tough question! The bags in the book vary between something you’d take clubbing, a formal handbag and some beautiful fake fur casual bags. The formal bag is called the Queen Mum bag. I bought it in the late 90s at the end of the January sales. It has a cream tortoiseshell patent print and I used it for work. Wherever I went with it, it was men, not women, who commented on how much they liked it. It must have reminded them of their grannies or something! I used it for years and eventually the clasp broke. I sought out a specialist handbag repair shop but they couldn’t fix it without changing the look of the bag, which was a heart-breaking moment.

Recently I bought a bag by Aspinall which is very similar to it. I call it the Queen Mum Redux and I am often found stroking it and referring to it as “my precious”.

The book is set in the late 1990s. Is that when you started writing it?

I started writing it in 2000. I’d had the idea for a few months. For a laugh, I used to call myself Countess Cali of Kennington. In 1999 I started writing and as I worked through some creativity exercises, I realised that there would mileage in a fictional version of the countess and her handbags.

It originally began as a short story but kept growing. I worked on it for a few years but then run out of steam as my own life had moved on and I was no longer single. I parked it for nine years and it sat in the proverbial drawer. During those years I learned a lot about story structure and other novel writing techniques, and worked on other projects. Three years ago, I decided to return to Tales of the Countess and this time was determined to get the story fit for publication. Twenty years after I began writing about her, the Countess is finally out in the world.

How does the book mirror your life?

I was single when I started writing it, and suffering one of many heartbreaks. Another liaison with someone I liked didn’t go the way I would have wished. Initially I was attracted to writing the story because, unlike real life, I could choose the ending!

Once I got into writing it though, the story took on a life of its own. As I revised it, the elements in the initial draft which had been based on real events dropped away. Over time it developed its own truth.

I guess I’m similar to the Countess in that at the time I was doing the same kind of work. She’s much more capable than me though. I’ve been too busy playing around with creative stuff!

Thanks very much Cali. It sounds like a fun read.

Thank you. That’s the feedback I’m getting from people who have read it. It seems to be the perfect piece of escapism for the current times.

Cali is in her mid-fifties and lives in Bedfordshire. She was single until she was nearly forty and used to be the archetypal career girl, living in Central London and working in investment banking. One day, she had an epiphany, realised that she needed to honour her creative side and started writing. Since then, she had various side projects including running a life-coaching business, giving self-development talks and blogging about creativity at www.gentlecreative.com. She has practised Buddhism for over thirty years and is a self-confessed tree-hugger.

Cali has known her husband, Graham, since they were at school together. Although they once had a smooch when they were nineteen, they didn’t get back in contact for many years. Within a month of their first date, they realised they had found someone special in each other, but it was another few years before they were married at the tender age of forty-six. It’s never too late to find love!

Twitter: www.twitter.com/calibird

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

Buy Links: 

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088WBTRKK

Amazon US –  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088WBTRKK

Amazon Spain: https://www.amazon.es/dp/B088WBTRKK

Amazon India: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B088WBTRKK

Apple UK – https://books.apple.com/gb/book/id1516176786

Apple US – https://books.apple.com/book/id1516176786

Barnes & Noble/Nook -mhttps://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tales-of-the-countess-cali-bird/1137082685?ean=2940164319793

Waterstones – https://www.waterstones.com/book/tales-of-the-countess/cali-bird/9781916360808

Scribd – https://www.scribd.com/book/463657008/Tales-of-the-Countess

Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/tales-of-the-countess-a-chick-lit

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