Blog – First Steps

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4* Review- Marion Lennox – English Lord on Her Doorstep

A storm. A stranger. A secret.

After a storm leaves handsome stranger Bryn Morgan stranded at Charlie’s farmhouse she plans to keep her distance! But the night forges a bond between —until Bryn reveals is, in fact, Lord Carlisle! Can he show Charlie that their differences can bring them closer?

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My Thoughts…

A romantic tale of two people from differing backgrounds who find a connection in adversity.

Charlie is grief-stricken after the sudden loss of her much-loved grandmother, Bryn is reeling from trying to unravel his criminal uncle’s latest scam. A storm and an injured dog brings them together, but when Charlie finds out why Bryn is in Australia, she wants nothing to do with him. Circumstances and Bryn’s caring attitude change her mind, but trust doesn’t come easy. Bryn’s generous gesture gives Charlie a way out but he is keeping secrets from her, and romantic deeds may not be the way to win this woman’s heart.

An easy to read romance, the plot is rooted in fairytale rather than reality, but if you accept this, the sentiments are genuine, the dogs lovable and Bryn, a gentleman. The characters are realistic even if their situation is unlikely and there is the desired happy ever after a fable like this demands.

Enjoyable summer-reading for the romantics.

I received a copy of this book from Mills & Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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#BlogTour: The Pupil- Dawn Goodwin – 4* Review

 

Literary agent Viola Matthews is sure she’s met Katherine Baxter before. So when her husband and bestselling novelist Samuel Morton introduces Viola to the quiet, unassuming woman he has offered to mentor, she knows their paths have crossed before. The question is where?

As their worlds collide and the bond between Samuel and Katherine deepens, Viola realises she must take control. If Viola is right, then Katherine needs to pay for something that happened twelve years ago.

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My Thoughts…

Katherine is a realistic character, yet fulfils the role of unreliable protagonist associated with psychological thrillers. ‘The Pupil’ focuses on Katherine’s ambition to be a successful writer, she is in a controlling marriage and becoming a writer is her way of achieving independence and rising from the problems of the past.

There is suspense, but this is more of a family drama than a psychological thriller. The threat Katherine percieves appears to be visible only to her, which makes you question her mental state but it’s her husband’s treatment of her that is sinister and the real threat to her mental stability.

There are elements of dramatic irony in this, as the thinly disguised significant plot twist means the reader knows who Katherine’s enemy is, but she is oblivious until the final chapters.

A suspenseful read and an excellent family drama but not the twisty, psychological thriller I expected.

I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Dawn’s career has spanned PR, advertising and publishing. Now, she loves to write about the personalities hiding behind the masks, whether beautiful or ugly. Married, she lives in London with her two daughters and a British bulldog called Geoffrey. 

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Secrets in Sicily- Penny Feeny-Blog Tour 4* Review

Sicily, 1977 Ten-year-old Lily and family arrive for their annual summer holiday in Sicily. Adopted as a toddler, Lily’s childhood has been idyllic.

But a chance encounter with a local woman on the beach changes everything…. 10 years later… Ever since that fateful summer Lily’s picture-perfect life, and that of her family has been in turmoil.

The secrets of the baking hot shores of Sicily are calling her back, and Lily knows that the answers she has been so desperately seeking can only be found if she returns to her beloved island once more…

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My Thoughts…

A family drama set in iconic Sicily initially in 1977. Lily’ lives a privileged life, including an annual holiday to the same villa in Sicily. She knows she was a survivor of an earthquake in Sicily in 1968, but nothing of her birth family and that isn’t problematic until she meets a stranger on the beach, who upsets the family dynamics and changes Lily’s life forever. Lily returns to island ten years later, to find out who she is.

Family secrets are at the centre of this story, brought to life with the vivid description of its setting in Sicily. Character driven, it examines how one chance encounter can change relationships and threaten the core values of a previously happy family.  Lily’s character development is the greatest as she moves from childhood to adulthood and finally discovers her roots. It highlights that well-meant actions and decisions sometimes have unforeseen consequences.

 If you are looking for a poignant, deep holiday, read then try this perfect escape to Sicily and all its secrets.

I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Penny Feeny has lived and worked in Cambridge, London and Rome. Since settling in Liverpool many years ago, she has been an arts administrator, editor, radio presenter and advice worker. Her short fiction has been widely published and broadcast and won several awards. Her first novel, That Summer in Ischia, was one of the summer of 2011’s best selling titles.     

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Hot Pursuit – 3* Review – Rebecca Freeborn

Sarah is a former beauty therapist who doesn’t wear make-up. She’s a wannabe journo for gossip magazine Women’s Choice, but she knows nothing about celebrities. And now the love of her life has run out on her leaving her with a mortgage to handle on her own.

 Her life hasn’t gone the way she expected, and Sarah feels her future slipping from her control, as life decisions come at her from all corners.

Heartbroken and fed up, she decides to take her career by the reins after standing still for far too long.

Sarah lands herself the assignment of a lifetime in Europe, with the gorgeous but egocentric photographer, Nick, who just happens to be her ex’s best friend.

But when Sarah’s assignment takes a darker turn, she discovers there’s more to this story than meets the eye. Is she ready to risk everything to get the scoop?

With a missing rock star, a suspected murderer on the run, and a race against the clock, Hot Pursuit will whisk you away to some of the world’s most romantic destinations.

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My Thoughts…

A fun, escapist read, perfect for the beach.

Sarah is a frustrated journalist who is looking for her big break. Her love life is in tatters when she meets a man who may change the course of her life. A lighthearted read, but the subjects it touches are not. Sarah embarks on a trek across Europe following her story; she is naive as an investigative journalist, which produces some hilarious moments and quickly puts her in dangerous situations. Her partner in crime is Nick, the photographer, they have history, and she still has feelings for him, but they are confused, and this leads to snarky banter and sexual tension.

Sarah is a strong protagonist, and her tenacity makes sure she gets her story in the end, despite her inexperience and the numerous false leads she uncovers. Her relationship with Nick provides the story with its romance.

I received a copy of this story from Pantera Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Real Food Kids Will Love – Annabel Karmel – 4* Review

Annabel Karmel brings you a mouth-watering batch of never before seen recipes featuring delicious ingredients with serious nutritional credentials. With beautiful photographs and fresh design, this is an essential book for every modern parent. Chapters range from Fifteen Minute Meals to Healthy ‘Fast Food’, via Holiday Cooking with Kids and Lunchbox Snacks, and fresh, easy and modern dishes include Quinoa Chicken Fingers, Crispy Baked Cod, The Best Buttermilk Pancakes and Carrot Cake Balls. The chapters are designed to make choosing a fuss-free dish simple. Many recipes include swap-outs to cater for those with food allergies, intolerances or particularly fussy eaters! There is a huge range of meat-free and vegan meal options as well as recipes including meat and fish. Real Food Kids Will Love offers everything today’s parents are looking for once their babies are ready to start joining in with family mealtimes. Each dish is designed to be enjoyed by the whole family, while remaining simple, healthy, and not too salty or sugary for young children.

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My Thoughts…

Full of interesting modern recipes that are designed to appeal to children, but will be enjoyed by the entire family. The recipes use everyday, reasonably priced ingredients and the preparation method are easy to follow.

 There’s nothing inherently new in this cookery book, but the information on portions sizes, ways of getting children to eat the food that’s good for them is useful.

Aimed at children of toddler age and above, older children can help make some of the recipes, so they understand what goes into a healthy meal.

Always on the lookout for new recipes and things that my grandson will eat, I’m going to enjoy recreating the recipes in this book.

I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan- Bluebird via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

4* Review- Sarah Flint – Broken Dolls- Blog Tour- Guest Post

A baby lies abandoned amongst the rubbish; her tiny face as white as alabaster, her body as stiff as a miniature doll.

A young prostitute lies beaten, her figure lying like a mannequin on the frozen concrete, her blood spilt, her life ebbing away.

As DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford and her boss DI Hunter struggle to identify the victim from the violator their hunt brings them to the crack houses of Lambeth, littered with damaged people, their lives scarred by tragedy and violence, most broken beyond repair.

As further lives hang in the balance, Charlie must empower the weak to speak out against those who seek to cause harm. But can a broken doll ever truly be mended; or will the wounds of the past, fashion the events of the future?

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Guest  Post – Sarah Flint

This is me!

When I was asked to write a guest post about Broken Dolls I wasn’t sure what I could add to previous articles; so I have decided to tell you a little more about what makes me tick.

So please bear with me. It will be my most personal post, and I hope it will give readers a sense of what I have achieved – and what they too could achieve.

I have always loved a challenge; in fact, I thrive on them. Each morning when I wake up, I set myself a few daily goals. The tasks are attainable. I do not set myself goals that would lead to failure – at least not too often!

I may have a book to plan or write or edit. I might have a guest post, questions to answer, social media considerations. So every day, I sit down and get going. I am not constrained by timings – apart from official deadlines. I write when I can, as much or as little as I can – but I write. Some days will only be a page, other days will be a whole chapter, yet others will see me sitting in front of my computer struggling to find the right words. On these occasions I do not beat myself up – I go for a walk. Most of my ideas stem from times when I have walked, quiet and alone, my mind buzzing with ideas – which are then transferred to paper on my return.

My books take shape as I write them. I know the beginning and the end, but what happens in the middle is usually a matter of luck and touching a lot of wood. It is a challenge! But like I said I thrive on a challenge!

In 2005, having lost a much-loved brother to cancer, I ran the London marathon with all of my seven surviving siblings. It wasn’t easy but with each day came a new goal; a hundred metres to start, then a block, then 1 mile, 2 miles, 5 miles, a half-marathon, until reaching the finishing post at The Mall, in 5 hours, 35 minutes (the toilet stop at the beginning cost me 20 minutes – never queue behind a man!!)

It was an amazing achievement and to have completed it with my large, close-knit family made it very special, as was the £43k  passed on to our family charities.

In March 2018, I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with my partner, my niece and an incredible group of like-minded people of both sexes, and all ages. Prior to this, I had gained weight – a constant battle, so training started small – walking 1-2 miles a day, then 4-5, then a week with my sister hiking the Camino de Santiago, and finally training in the Italian Dolomites.

From little steps….to the highest peak in Africa, with stunning views of glaciers and craters, and a sunrise above the clouds on our summit morning that was truly spectacular.

And so to now – my latest challenge!

In the last month, I have received a proposal of marriage from my beautiful partner, watched my eldest daughter get married to a lovely Greek Cypriot man – and been diagnosed with breast cancer! With the smooth, comes the rough – and the rough this time will be hard.

How could I have known, when I shed a tear watching the six brave women celebrities bearing all for the female Full Monty, that I too would be fighting the same battle?

How could I have known, when my family clubbed together to provide the means for one of our siblings to attend my daughter’s wedding ‘because none of us are getting any younger’, that it would be me, as the youngest, providing the angst.

I didn’t know, but I do now – and I have accepted the challenge.

Two days after ‘Broken Dolls’ is published I will be on the operating table facing the first major step. So far I have taken only small ones, the preparatory scans, the mammograms, biopsies, diagnosis. I have listened to my options. I have heard the risks. I have felt fear. I still do. I am grieving for the forthcoming loss of part of my body, that I have held dear, but I also know that I have to take one step at a time, a goal a day, nothing too much, achievable, small victories.

Charlie and Hunter have cases to solve and battles to face. They might stumble along the way, but they are true to their beliefs and will conquer in the end. As will I!

So please, share this post to as many women (and men) as you can, while I am recovering from this first hurdle, and excuse my absence on social media. You, along with my family and friends are part of my team, and if I can help any other person going through the same sort of challenge, then please feel free to contact me, and I will get back to you as soon as I am able.

Thank you

Sarah xx

My Thoughts…

A gritty, authentic crime thriller, which left me feeling sad at the loss of life and opportunity for the young girls. Everything in this novel is believable, and that makes it compelling and disturbing.

I haven’t read the previous books in the series, and although this is a standalone story regarding the crime’s committed, there are events in the detectives’ pasts that affect their present lives I’m not aware of, which affected my enjoyment of the overall story.

A well-written, contemporary crime thriller which highlights the abuse of young girls and the problems of drug abuse. There are significant twists, especially at the end, enough to make me want to know what the next case will be for these detectives.

 

With a Metropolitan Police career spanning 35 years, Sarah has spent her adulthood surrounded by victims, criminals and police officers. She continues to work and lives in London with her partnerhttps://www.facebook.com/SarahFlintBooks and has three older daughters. 

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Derek Lambert – 4* Review – Angels in the Snow

 

Derek Lambert’s classic spy novel exposes the truth about the life of the Western community in post-Stalin Moscow and their existence in which tensions and hostility of the Soviet Union sometimes prove intolerable.

An American working for the US embassy and the CIA, a young Englishman at the British Embassy gradually cracking under the strain of Moscow life, and a member of the Twilight Brigade. In an alien land, their lives become inextricably joined in a vivid and tense story of diplomats, traitors, Soviet secret police and espionage.

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My Thoughts…

Not a thriller in the traditional sense, more Literary Fiction, but it is atmospheric and intense. Western diplomats, press corp and the intelligence services in Moscow live a pressurised life. They are insular and cut off from the indigenous population. Living in a bubble, that leads to extreme behaviour often illicit sexual liaison and heavy alcohol consumption. The isolation and loneliness come across in this story.

As in his subsequent novels, this a mix of fact and fiction with dramatic interpretation, giving it an intrinsic authenticity.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse/ Killer Reads – Collins Crime Club via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Derek Lambert – 4* Review – The Red Dove

 

 

As the Soviet space-shuttle Dove orbits 150 miles above the earth on its maiden flight, Warsaw Pact troops crash into Poland.

The seventy-two-year-old President of America wants to be re-elected, and for that, he needs to win the first stage of the war in space: he needs to capture the Soviet space shuttle. But as the President plans his coup the nuclear-armed shuttle speeds towards target America – and only defection in space can stop it.

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My Thoughts…

A well-conceived Cold War thriller, vocalising the inherent threat of war in space. There are apparent resemblances to actual historical figures alongside purely fictional characters. The danger of destruction is implicit in this thriller, and it replicates the feelings of many who lived under the constant threat of nuclear war.

If you are interested in the Cold War as it existed in the twentieth century, this will be of interest. It’s a ‘what if’ book that could have easily happened.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse/ Killer Reads – Collins Crime Club via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Derek Lambert – 3* Review- The Judas Code

 

In neutral Lisbon, British Intelligence has concocted a ruthless doublecross to lure Russia and Germany into a hellish war of attrition on the Eastern Front and so buy Britain the most precious commodity of all: time.

That plot now hinges on one man: Josef Hoffman, a humble Red Cross worker. But who is Hoffman? And where do his loyalties really lie?

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 My Thoughts…

A WW2 thriller that mixes iconic historical figures with fiction, mainly, for those like myself interested in this historical period.  A little dated for the present day and slow-paced rather like watching an old war film, good for the nostalgic value.

I received a copy of this book from  Harper Impulse / Killer Reads – Collins Crime Club via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Believe Me – J.P. Delaney – 4* Review

Claire Wright likes to play other people. 

A British drama student, in New York without a green card, Claire takes the only job she can get: working for a firm of divorce lawyers, posing as an easy pick-up in hotel bars to entrap straying husbands.

When one of her targets becomes the subject of a murder investigation, the police ask Claire to use her acting skills to help lure their suspect into a confession. But right from the start, she has doubts about the part she’s being asked to play. Is Patrick Fogler really a killer . . . Or the only decent husband she’s ever met? And is there more to this set-up than she’s being told?

And that’s when Claire realises she’s playing the deadliest role of her life . . .

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My Thoughts…

An original perspective on the concept of ‘the honey trap’ and entrapment that raises numerous ethical issues but produces a quirky, dark thriller with addictive qualities. There is a mix of writing styles, including poetry, scripts and interviews.

Claire is a British drama student living in New York, her opportunities for making ends meet are scarce, so she uses her acting talents and earns ‘cash in hand’ money from a firm of divorce lawyers, acting as a ‘pick up’ in hotel bars to trap straying husbands.

Claire is the unreliable protagonist, at her happiest playing other people and so it’s difficult to establish who she truly is. When someone dies her role escalates, she is co-opted to trap the suspected killer. The thriller’s intensity increases and fantasy and reality merge with dangerous results.

The only thing predictable about this thriller is its unpredictability. If you accept, nothing is as it seems or what you expect and enjoy the show its an absorbing thriller.

I received a copy of this book from Quercus Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.