Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Humour, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour, Motivational, Romance

To Lahore With Love – Hina Belitz 5*#Review @Hina_Belitz @headlinepg @annecater #RandomThingsTours #LiteraryFiction #humour #SelfRealisation #Lahore #Life #Family #Food #Cooking #Ancestry #Faith #motivational #recipes

A truly feel-good novel to warm the heart, tickle the taste buds and take you on the journey of a lifetime 

Addy Mayford has always struggled with her identity. Brought up in a household of stories, food and faith by her Irish mother and Pakistani Nana, she feels constantly torn between the two sides of her upbringing. Since the death of her father, she’s found contentment cooking delicious recipes from his home city of Lahore, despite the protestations of her mother that being a chef is no career for a young woman. It’s only with the love of her gorgeous husband, Gabe, that she’s truly found happiness. 

When Addy stumbles across a secret that shatters her entire world, she desperately needs to escape and is drawn to the sights of Lahore and the family she’s never known. Waiting for her there is Addy’s final acceptance of who she is, and a long-buried family secret that will change her life for ever. 

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Headline in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I love to learn, and this story presents plenty of opportunities to explore a different culture. I also love to cook, and as each chapter begins with a recipe, this makes delightful reading for anyone who loves cooking. The power of food and its therapeutic qualities are a theme of this story. Each recipe has a section called, the artistry, which describes what the food achieves, and why. The story follows Addy’s young life, before and after, a traumatic event occurs. She has a multicultural upbringing, all-female, the men in her life distant memories until Gabe.

The trip to Lahore is life-affirming in the company of her only friend Jen, and her beloved Nana. There is so much of interest in this story, written with clever visual imagery that invigorates all the reader’s senses. Addy is lovely, down to earth, with a wicked sense of humour, which balances the story’s poignant moments.

The writing style is eloquent, informed and insightful. A thought-provoking way to taste life, through the power of ancestry, culture and food, as Addy takes a life journey she will never forget.

Hina Belitz

HINA BELITZ is an author and renowned equal rights lawyer. Born in Pakistan to an Indian father and a mother of Iranian, Afghan and Indian descent, Belitz was brought up in Hampshire – a place starkly different to her parent’s home city of Lahore, and where she was the only Asian person in her school. Her debut novel, SET ME FREE, was critically acclaimed and led to her being interviewed by Morgan Freeman and starring in a National Geographic documentary about love. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including the Guardian and the BBC. 

A lot of the narrative in TO LAHORE, WITH LOVE has its roots in Hina’s own life experience.

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Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Humour, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour, Parenting and Famlies

So Lucky Dawn O'Porter 5*#Review @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK #dawnoporter #Women #Relationships #Love #Friendship #Life #Parenting #BookReview #BookBloggers

IS ANYONE’S LIFE . . .

Beth shows that women really can have it all.
Ruby lives life by her own rules.
And then there’s Lauren, living the dream.

AS PERFECT AS IT LOOKS? 

Beth hasn’t had sex in a year.
Ruby feels like she’s failing.
Lauren’s happiness is fake news.

And it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Three complex, contemporary female stories are interwoven to produce an insightful,poignant, and often humorous story that delves below the glamorous outer shell shown to the world.

The messy reality of Beth, Lauren and Ruby’s life is sensitively written, the final plot twists make the ending positive and uplifting.

Easy to read but thought-provoking.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Humour, Romance

The School of Starting Over Lisa Swift 5* #Review @LisaSwiftAuthor @HeraBooks @rararesources #BlogTour #BookReview #startingover #School #Teachers #secrets #RuralLife #VillageLife #Family Secrets #Lies #YorkshireMoors #TheSchoolofStartingOver

Nell’s going back to school… but now she’s learning lessons of the heart

Reception class teacher Nell Shackleton has a plan. At least, she had until she arrived at her new home of Humblebee Farm, a dilapidated farmhouse on the Yorkshire moors. But so what if the roof’s full of holes, the back door’s hanging off and there’s a sheep in the front room? Because sometimes a new beginning means starting at the bottom… right?

Xander Scott is one of the youngest headteachers Leyholme Primary School has ever had. But managing over-zealous parents and their semi-feral kids proves a tricky task for shy Xander – as does keeping his mind on the job when his feelings for the new Reception teacher become more than strictly professional…

At 43, Nell’s new friend Stevie Madeleine has given up on love. After losing her wife, Stevie’s decided that her four-year-old daughter Milly and cocker spaniel Red are the only girls she needs in her life. That is, until larger-than-life dog-walker Deb arrives on the scene. But will the secrets of Stevie’s past stop her new romance dead in its tracks?

Meeting Xander and Stevie brings joy back into Nell’s life – but when old secrets start to surface, there may be some hard lessons to learn for them all…

A gorgeously uplifting and hilarious romantic comedy.

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

My Thoughts…

Heartwarming, humorous, immersive and poignant. ‘The School of Starting Over’, evokes so many emotions in the reader, as you discover the secrets hiding within the complex and relatable characters.

A new beginning for Nell in a rundown farmhouse, her heart’s battered and she wants a new start. Reading, the first few chapters I was expecting a lighthearted rom-com, with lots of interactive village gossip. Whilst. this is superficially what this story delivers there is so much more as you read on.

Just, when you are relaxing, and enjoying the happy ever afters you expected, the plot twists into an emotional family drama, which resonates. The story’s main protagonists’ happiness is intricately connected. and like a house of cards. it could disappear without a trace.

Vivid characters, heartrending conflict and an authentic Yorkshire village ethos and setting make this addictive reading.

Lisa Swift

Lisa Swift is a romance author from West Yorkshire in the UK. She is represented by Laura Longrigg at MBA Literary Agents. Her first book is due to be published by Hera Books in August 2019.

As Mary Jayne Baker, Lisa also writes romantic comedies for Aria Fiction.

Lisa is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Humour, Motivational, Parenting and Famlies

When Life Gives You Lemons Fiona Gibson 5*#Review @AvonBooksUK @FionaGibson #BlogTour #BookReview #Relationships #Family #Love #Life #Friendship #Parenting #motivational #Humour #women

Sometimes life can be bittersweet…

Between tending to the whims of her seven-year-old and the demands of her boss, Viv barely gets a moment to herself. It’s not quite the life she wanted, but she hasn’t run screaming for the hills yet.

But then Viv’s husband Andy makes his mid-life crisis her problem. He’s having an affair with his (infuriatingly age-appropriate) colleague, a woman who – unlike Viv – doesn’t put on weight when she so much as glances at a cream cake.

Viv suddenly finds herself single, with zero desire to mingle. Should she be mourning the end of life as she knows it, or could this be the perfect chance to put herself first?

When life gives you lemons, lemonade just won’t cut it. Bring on the gin!

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Viv is a lovely realistic character, so easy to like. When she finds out her husband is having an affair, it forces her to look at her life. Heartbroken, struggling to cope with her understandable anger, her dissatisfaction with life, and the menopause, she turns to her friends. Gradually Viv finds the courage to rediscover, the woman she is, and the life she wants.

Full of authentic family life moments, humour, poignancy and an unexpected dash of romance, this book is an easy, engaging read that makes you alternatively, empathise, and laugh out loud. The characters are vibrant and realistic, and the situations relatable. The well-paced plot keeps you entertained and the ending is hopeful.

Posted in Book Review, Fantasy, Friendship, Gothic Fiction, Humour, Mystery

Tuesday Mooney Wore Black Kate Racculia 4* #Review @kateracculia @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam #TuesdayMooney #Ghosts #BookReview #Fantasy #Mystery

You are cordially invited to play a game…

Tuesday Mooney loves a puzzle. So when an eccentric billionaire drops dead, leaving behind a fiendish treasure hunt – open to anyone – to his fortune, Tuesday can’t resist.

Although she works best alone, she soon finds herself partnering up with best friend Dex (money manager by day, karaoke-zealot by night) and the mysterious Nathaniel Arches, eldest son of a wealthy family who held a long-running feud with the dead man.

As the clues are solved, excitement across the city reaches fever pitch – but nothing is as it seems, and the puzzle-within-a-puzzle holds something much darker than a vast fortune at its heart…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK- Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

You’d be forgiven for thinking you were about to read a Gothic horror story when reading the opening chapter of this story. ‘A dying house’, ‘a strange man’, and a ‘dark, menacing ethos’ that grips you as open the door to the house. This story is more than that. Whilst, it is noir, there are ghosts, both spiritual, and those which inhabit your psyche, there is also a strange puzzle to solve, and a quirky heroine whose keen intelligence is the match for any ghost.

Tuesday Mooney is a loner, yet she resonates with those she comes into contact with, whether they be work colleagues, or her few friends. As a lover of the eccentric, she is a hit with me, and I enjoyed the magical, mystery adventure she undertakes with her self-appointed best friend, Dex and Nathaniel, the heir to a vast fortune.

The plot is full of vivid imagery, that brings the mystery hunt to life. The pacing is perfect and the characters authentic and richly described. Boston, the arts and various literary figures feature spectacularly, as you are treated to a spectacle of mystery, horror and dark humour.

Perfect for those who love quirky, surprising, satirical literature.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Humour, Literary Fiction, New Books, Travel

We Are Animals Tim Ewins 4* #Review @EwinsTim @EyeAndLightning @rararesources #humour #fiction #BlogTour #BookReview LiteraryFiction #LightningBooks #Friendship #Goa #Loss #Love #travel #Serendipity #multigenerational

A cow looks out to sea, dreaming of a life that involves grass.

Jan is also looking out to sea. He’s in Goa, dreaming of the passport-thief who stole his heart (and, indeed, his passport) forty-six years ago. Back then, fate kept bringing them together, but lately it seems to have given up.

Jan has not. In his long search, he has accidentally held a whole town at imaginary gunpoint in Soviet Russia, stalked the proprietors of an international illegal lamp-trafficking scam and done his very best to avoid any kind of work involving the packing of fish. Now he thinks if he just waits, if he just does nothing at all, maybe fate will find it easier to reunite them.

His story spans fifty-four years, ten countries, two imperfect criminals (and one rather perfect one), twenty-two different animals and an annoying teenager who just…

Will…

Not…

Leave.

But maybe an annoying teenager is exactly what Jan needs to help him find the missing thief?

Featuring a menagerie of creatures, each with its own story to tell, We Are Animals is a quirky, heartwarming tale of lost love, unlikely friendships and the certainty of fate (or lack thereof).

For the first time in her life the cow noticed the sun setting, and it was glorious.

Amazon UK (Only 99p for a limited time)

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I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The imagery in this book is clever and enhances the everyday occurrences, making them something special. The description of the beach and its users seen through Manjan’s eyes is the first example of this. The people and the cow, all have an opinion and a purpose, as they share events from their lives. The animals’ actions and thoughts mirror the people throughout the book.

Manjan’s story is poignant and serendipitous. The author makes many of his astute observations through the man who has spent much of his life waiting. There is a balance of humour and sadness, which lets the reader appreciate the emotion and comical aspects of the story. Retrospectively, you learn how Jan ends up the beach in Goa. The people he meets along the way are diverse, and all add to his life journey. The characters are well written, they are authentic and relatable, and make this character-driven tale interesting.

Even if like me, you haven’t visited the places in the book, or didn’t live through the late twentieth century, which I did. the immersive story lets you experience each place and time, through its animal and human characters, and vivid imagery.

The hopeful ending encompasses the quirky nature of the story, whilst achieving a sense of completeness.

Tim Ewins

Tim Ewins has enjoyed an eight-year stand-up career alongside his accidental career in finance.

He has previously written for DNA Mumbai, had two short stories highly commended and published in Michael Terence Short Story Anthologies, and enjoyed a very brief acting stint (he’s in the film Bronson, somewhere in the background). He lives with his wife, son and dog in Bristol. We Are Animals is his first novel.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Humour, Paranormal

Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Vampire Menace 4* #Review @OlgaWojtas @SarabandBooks @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksTours #Humour #HistFic #cozymystery #BlogTour #BookReview

The intrepid librarian Shona McMonagle, erstwhile Marcia Blaine Academy prefect and an accomplished linguist and martial artist, finds herself in an isolated French mountain village, Sans-Soleil, which has no sunlight because of its topography. It’s reeling from a spate of unexplained deaths, and Shona has once again travelled back in time to help out.

Forging an uneasy alliance with newly widowed Madeleine, Shona is soon drawn into a full-blown vampire hunt, involving several notable villagers, the world-renowned soprano Mary Garden – and even Count Dracula himself. Will Shona solve the mystery, secure justice for the murder victims and make it through a deathly denouement in the hall of mirrors to return to present-day Morningside Library?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Shona McMonagle is an enigmatic and decidedly quirky character, which is just as well, because ‘Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Vampire Menace’, is a strange tale. It takes a little getting into, especially if this is your first encounter with the talented librarian, a former prefect of Miss Blaine’s academy, and now intrepid time traveller. The adventure is standalone but would be more immersive if you were familiar with the character, and the reasons for time travel. Read the first book if you can. before embarking on this.

Set in the ominous-sounding French village Sans-Soleil, Shona has to extricate herself from a coffin and a room full of mirrors before finding out, where she is. The first people she meets are frankly strange, and she soon finds typical of the village. The story is a complex blend of history, historical characters and mind-blowing fiction, and it works. To enjoy this you have to accept the intricate world-building and immerse yourself in the adventure, and acerbic very witty humour, both verbal and visual.

The plot is absorbing, full of historical facts and historical characters, who are cleverly blended with the fictional ones. Shona is certain of her capabilities, and she is undoubtedly intelligent and well-educated, the perfect advertisement for Miss Blaine’s academy, However, she is not the most intuitive of amateur sleuth’s and there are many examples of dramatic irony in this story. The reader knows more than the protagonist, or at least understands, what they are reading. This makes for many humorous moments.

Shona’s thought processes and dialogue with her fellow characters are witty and enjoyable. The distinctly Scottish humour can be appreciated wherever you hail from.

The story is well-paced and written with visual imagery, that lets the reader enjoy the period and setting, as well as the relentless adventure.

If you enjoy an original, unique reading experience, this is something you should read.

Olga Woitas

Olga Wojtas is an unconventional – and very witty – writer of postmodern crime fiction whose surrealist humour has been compared to the likes of PG Wodehouse, Jasper Fforde and the Marx Brothers. Her debut novel, Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar, has been published in the UK and US to great critical acclaim – being longlisted for the inaugural Comedy Women in Print Prize 2019, shortlisted for a CrimeFest Award, and named as one of the best mysteries and thrillers of the year by Kirkus. A journalist for more than 30 years, Olga was Scottish editor of the Times Higher Education Supplement before she began adding creative writing to her portfolio. She won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2015 and has had numerous short stories and several novellas published. Olga lives in Edinburgh, where she once attended James Gillespie’s High School – the model for Marcia Blaine School for Girls, which appears in Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, the novel that inspired the Miss Blaine’s Prefect series.