Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Book Spotlight, Crime, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

The Lonely Hearts Crime Club – Tanya Bullock – 5* #Review – #BlogTour TanyaBullock15 @Blackbird_Bks

An elderly resident of an inner-city tower block is brutally attacked and left for dead. Her neighbours, a pregnant alcoholic, a vulnerable youth, a failed actress and a cameraman with a dark secret, are thrown together in their search for answers. Misfits and loners, they are forced to confront uncomfortable realities about themselves and each other, as their investigation leads them towards the shocking finale.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

A chilling act of violence on a defenceless person is the starting point for ‘The Lonely Hearts Crime Club. The setting is a sixties style tower block, mainly used for social housing, The residents all have a story, revealed as the book progresses.

All the characters except one know the victim, they all feel threatened in some respect by what happened. Out of adversity comes a camaraderie that is realistic and poignant. Complex, recognisable, but not stereotypical characters are the driving force of this story. We learn their stories in a format reminiscent of ‘talking heads’ and the angst, heartbreak and ultimately self-realisation is enthralling.

The mystery of what happened at Shenstone tower is well-written, all the characters in the story could be guilty. There is a clever twist almost halfway through, which makes you believe that someone else may have the answers to the mystery.

Ella, Ethan, Birdie and Willian are the unlikely sleuths, but they want to find the attacker and driven by Ella, they try to piece together who the attacker is and the motives behind the crime.

The main characters’ vulnerability draws them to each other, they find strength in shared mutual experience, and although heartbreakingly vulnerable alone, together they are strong and effective.

The clues are subtle but meaningful and gradually the mystery resolves in a believable, satisfying way.

A powerful, poignant story. The ending is so sad, but something hopeful emerges for the majority of ‘The Lonely Hearts Crime Club’ members.

Tanya Bullock is a college lecturer, writer and award-winning filmmaker. She lives in the UK with her husband and two young children. She has a passion for foreign culture and languages (inherited from her French mother) and, in her youth, travelled extensively throughout Australia, America, Asia and Europe. As a filmmaker, she has gained local recognition, including funding and regional television broadcast, through ITV’s First Cut scheme, two nominations for a Royal Television Society Midlands Award, and, in 2010, a Royal Television Society Award in the category of best promotional film. On maternity leave in 2011 and in need of a creative outlet, Tanya began to write That Special Someone, the story of a mother’s quest to help her learning-disabled daughter find love. It was a finalist for The People’s Book Prize and The Beryl Bainbridge First Time Author Award 2016. Her second novel, Homecoming, a love story with an unexpected twist, was published in 2016. The Lonely Hearts Crime Club is Tanya’s third novel. A psychological thriller with a shocking finale, it will be published in the spring of 2019. All of Tanya’s novels are published by Blackbird Digital Books. 

Advertisements
Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour

The Rosie Result – 4* #Review – Graeme Simsion @MichaelJBooks @GraemeSimsion #Autism #PublicationDay #Literary #Fiction #Humour#Family #Friends #Society #DonTillman

Big-hearted, hilarious and exuberantly life-affirming, The Rosie Result is a story of overcoming life’s obstacles with a little love and a lot of overthinking.

Meet Don Tillman, the genetics professor with a scientific approach to everything. But he’s facing a set of human dilemmas tougher than the trickiest of equations.

Right now he is in professional hot water after a lecture goes viral for all the wrong reasons; his wife of 4,380 days, Rosie, is about to lose the research job she loves; and – the most serious problem of all – their eleven-year-old son, Hudson, is struggling at school. He’s a smart kid, but socially awkward and not fitting in.

Fortunately, Don’s had a lifetime’s experience of not fitting in. And he’s going to share the solutions with Hudson.

He’ll need the help of old friends and new, lock horns with the education system, and face some big questions about himself. As well as opening the world’s best cocktail bar.

Amazon UK

I missed out on the first two books in this trilogy, and although I enjoyed the reading ‘The Rosie Result’, I felt I missed out on some of the character development of Don and Rosie, that reading the previous books would give me. In terms of the story, it does read well as a standalone, as this focuses on the problems Hudson, Don’s son is having with his school life.

The book explores being on the autism spectrum, and what this means to the individual, their family, friends and the society they are part of. The tone of the book is lighthearted and many of the family’s experiences are recounted in a humorous way.

The author explores some important topical issues relating to Autism, such as the benefit of an autism diagnosis and the pros and cons of being labelled, and crucially whether autistic children’s behaviour needs to be modified, or should society accommodate them, without the need to conform?

The characters are believable and the issues discussed are handled sensitively and in a readable way. You quickly become invested in the family and want them to have a hopeful, satisfying future.

In summary, even if you haven’t read the other books in the series this is a worthwhile read, I enjoyed it, but if you can read the whole series do. The ending is well-written and realistic, whilst giving an optimistic outlook on the family’s future.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Holiday Romance, Romance

One Summer in Paris- Sarah Morgan -5* #Review @HQStories @SarahMorgan_ #PublicationDay #Romance #Family #Friendship

One charming bookshop, two unlikely friends, and a summer in Paris that will change their lives forever…

Grace can’t believe it when her husband of twenty-five years announces he doesn’t want to join her on their anniversary trip to Paris – instead, he wants a divorce. Reeling from the shock, Grace makes the bold decision to go on this holiday of a lifetime alone.

Audrey leaves behind heartache of her own when she arrives in Paris. A job in a bookshop is her ticket to freedom, but with no knowledge of the French language, her summer adventure seems doomed to fail. Until she meets Grace and everything changes…

Living in neighbouring apartments above the bookshop, Grace and Audrey form an unlikely friendship. They came to Paris to find themselves, but finding each other might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them.

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

My Thoughts…

I love this book and I couldn’t put it down. The two main characters Grace and Audrey are so likeable, despite the emotional wasteland they find themselves in. They are realistic and easy to empathise and you want them to appreciate their true worth and find happiness.

David, Grace’s husband and Linda, Audrey’s mum, lead a varied collection of subsidiary characters that make the story realistic and resonate, but not always in a good way, but that’s a true reflection of life, isn’t it?

The women meet by chance and form an unlikely friendship but both fulfil a need in the other. Grace sees her young self in Audrey and wants to help her discover her true importance. Audrey makes Grace realise she has so much to live for and can be the strong, independent woman she dreams of being.

This is a story of family, friendship and forgiveness. Despite their age difference, Audrey and Grace share similar character traits, most notably a self-deprecating sense of humour, which lightens the dark moments in this story. A hopeful ethos pervades this story, even though at times you feel Audrey and Grace may drown in their sadness. The friendship between them is authentic and the serendipity of their meeting gives the story its magic.

The final chapters bring the story to a satisfying conclusion, the believable outcomes make this poignant tale a lovely, heartwarming book.

A great holiday read, for lovers of family drama and friendship stories that take you on a poignant, angst-ridden journey, lightened with humour and romance. Read this book and escape to Paris for the Summer.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Romance

My Husband’sWives- Faith Hogan – 5* #Review #GuestPost @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction @GerHogan #Paperback #BlogTour #Family #Drama #Friendship #Romance

Is it better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved?

Paul Starr, Ireland’s leading cardiologist, has died in a car crash with a pregnant young woman by his side. A woman who is not his wife.

Evie, Grace and Annalise never thought they’d meet, but now they have to uncover the truth of their pasts. And suddenly they find themselves united by a man they never really knew at all.

As these women begin to form unlikely friendships they discover that Paul’s death could prove to be the catalyst they needed to become the people they always wanted to be…

Amazon

Kobo

Google Play

iBooks

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus in return for an honest review

My Thoughts…

Three women, one man, it seems that Paul Starr collects wives like other men collect paintings, although he collects those too. In fact, that’s how he met Grace, the starting point for this story. Their attraction is instant and unsettling, she knows he’s married but is drawn like a moth to the flame, and he seems prepared to give up his former life to share hers. It is not until his untimely demise that Grace realises Paul kept secrets from everyone. Grace is running from commitment, from the drudgery of her early life and mostly from herself.

Evie always felt he loved her best despite Grace, but when he dies unexpectedly, she finds out Grace is not the only one. Evie’s story is sad, always living in someone’s shadow, never realising her full potential and now she feels she never will.

Annalise met Paul when she was at an all-time low, he offered her a way of saving face, but somewhere along the way she lost herself. When he died she clings on to her widowhood like a safety net, but maybe falling is better than remaining on the precipice?

Paul is like a child, he wants new toys but doesn’t want to give up his old ones. Unfortunately, his toys are women and their lives are blighted by his treatment. Paul’s lack of awareness is an overriding theme in this story, his character is badly flawed, but despite his controlling and faithless characteristics, as the story progresses, in death he does offer each of his women a precious lifeline.

This story is an excellent family drama and each of the main female characters becomes stronger, it is an empowering book to read. The plot is interesting and whilst the theme is not unusual, it is handled in a unique way and the characters are beautifully written, realistic, flawed, but strong enough to realise they have to accept help from unlikely sources, evolve and most of all forgive – Paul, the other women in his life and most of all themselves.

Lies and secrets are at the heart of this story, but it is courage and transparency that makes it an enjoyable read. Many contemporary issues and attitudes are explored sensitively, and there is a mystery to solve that keeps you guessing. Its resolution ties up the story perfectly.

The relationship that develops between the women is what resonates most in this story, the imagery is vivid, the dialogue realistic, and the plot perfectly paced. This would make a great film.

Guest Post- Faith Hogan

The Ultimate Guide to Being an Irish Reader

It seems, when St. Patrick’s day rolls around each year, more and more people find a little drop of Irish somewhere along the roots of their family tree. It’s a truly wonderful thing, to think that somehow, most of us are connected in some way that’s becoming more traceable as science and research move forward.

Of course, the thing about being Irish is that it’s like being French, it’s as much an attitude to life as it is anything else. Often, it seems that as a nation we’ve been maligned, in terms of being all that goes along with pints of the black stuff and a propensity to curse midstream on the most poetic verses.

I think the things that make us Irish – whether it is esoterically or physically are a little more prosaic…

The most important thing that has set us apart over the centuries is our love for Literature. We’ve been blessed by more than just shamrock, historically with books that stretch all the way back to the Ninth century.

The Book of Kells…. can be visited in Trinity College Library where it’s on permanent display.

Of course, our literary tradition did not begin and end with the monks and academics.

Some of our most famous writers have written across the genres over the last two hundred years. Everyone associates James Joyce and W.B Yeats with the emerald isle, their writing is so richly invested in our green landscape. We are equally proud however of Brahm Stoker who wrote the internationally famous Dracula and Oscar Wilde whose acerbic wit and tragedy lean towards a much more anglicised tradition.

In recent years, I’m not sure you can close or open an Irish cannon without including some of our most treasured and popular writers. Maeve Binchy is a genre to herself at this point and her stories carry within them a heart and warmth that many pretenders may aspire to, but none has so far reached. There is no nicer compliment than being compared to Maeve, but really, I’ve always felt there is only one Queen of the heart stories and her crown remains untouched.

Roddy Doyle writes a very different kind of book to anyone else in the world. It is Irish, it is Dublin and all of his stories are bitingly sharp, poignantly funny and for my money, if we’re comparing, he’s got his finger on the pulse as a modern day Dickens’. Doyle manages to highlight the areas of society we’d rather gloss over and he does it in a way that makes us want to go back for more.

These days, books are a funny thing in Ireland. There are so many fantastic writers out there, a sea of them all bobbing along, but its the ones that make it up onto the big screen that really tend to capture the attention, sometimes to the detriment of equally good books alongside them. One of those books, that made it to the big screen was Brooklyn – based on the wonderful novel by Colm Toibin – if there is a book you think you might read this St. Patrick’s day, this one is light but well written and it is guaranteed to leave you with the whisper of an Irish voice in your ear and a contented smile at the end.

If you’re planning to celebrate St. Patrick’s day with a book, of course, I have to mention, a brand new paperback has just arrived in the shops and it’s called My Husbands Wives and it’s published by Aria Fiction. It’s been compared to all sorts of wonderful writers, but mainly, it’s an unashamedly feel-good story – a blissful escape from these grey days. It’s the story of four women and how they manage to survive and thrive after the unthinkable happens. It is steeped in the warmth, welcome and windy weather of this little emerald isle and it’s guaranteed to leave you feeling as if all is right with the world at the end!

If you do pick it up, I hope you enjoy it!

Faith xxx

Faith lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and two very fussy cats. She has a Hons Degree in English Literature and Psychology, has worked as a fashion model and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.

Posted in #BookBlogger , #amreading, Book Spotlight, Family Drama, Friendship, Holiday Romance, New Books, Romance, This Week's Books

One Summer in Paris #amreading #SaturdayMorning #books #bookblogger #spotlight #NetGalley @HQStories @SarahMorgan_

One charming bookshop, two unlikely friends, and a summer in Paris that will change their lives forever…

Grace can’t believe it when her husband of twenty-five years announces he doesn’t want to join her on their anniversary trip to Paris – instead, he wants a divorce. Reeling from the shock, Grace makes the bold decision to go on this holiday of a lifetime alone.

Audrey leaves behind heartache of her own when she arrives in Paris. A job in a bookshop is her ticket to freedom, but with no knowledge of the French language, her summer adventure seems doomed to fail. Until she meets Grace and everything changes…

Living in neighbouring apartments above the bookshop, Grace and Audrey form an unlikely friendship. They came to Paris to find themselves, but finding each other might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them.

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

My Thoughts So Far…

So, I thought I’d share what I’m currently reading this weekend. Sarah Morgan has always been a favourite author, and her new book released by HQ on April 4th 2019, is full of good things.

I have only read about 16 %, so far, we haven’t even reached Paris yet, and I can’t put it down. The two main characters Grace and Audrey are so likeable, despite the emotional wasteland they find themselves in. They are realistic and easy to empathise and I can’t wait to find out what happens in Paris.

There is also a collection of subsidiary characters that resonate, but not always in a good way, but that’s a true reflection of life, isn’t it?

I will post my review of this story in early April, but in the meantime, if you are looking for a great holiday read, with angst, romance, family drama and friendship, this is a contender.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Romance

Full of Grace – 5*#Review – Elizabeth Crocket @CrimsonCloakPub

Angela keeps a roof over her head, albeit a leaking one, by writing romance novels. But, Angela’s never really believed in the traditional happily ever after ending. So, she begins writing the story of Grace, who has recently been diagnosed with cancer shortly after finding out her husband Rick is having an affair. Again.

As she writes the story to dispel the myth of happily ever after, Angela begins a relationship with Mark, the contractor who comes to fix her leaking roof, and ironically, it looks like she may be on the way to her own happy ending. But Angela’s had a difficult past and has a cynical outlook, while Mark’s life has just gotten messy. Angela wonders if this is all going to work out.

Grace lies in bed at night, wondering if what Rick wants to give her, and what he is capable of giving her, are two different things. She asks Rick to move out temporarily, while they try to assess their marriage. She wonders how she can get such comfort and security from a man who cheated on her.

  Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

As with her previous novel ‘ A Path to the Lake’, the author delivers an original plot, believable characters and a story with a unique charm. ‘Full of Grace’ is told from two points of view. Angela, a romance writer, never seems to find the ‘happily ever after’ she writes in her romances, and Grace, the character created by Angela as a conduit of her new writing style.

Through writing Grace’s story as she searches for her new purpose in life, Angela finds challenges in her own life, which make her realise that romance is possible in the real world too.

This is an engaging read, the characters are easy to empathise and you become invested in their lives. The pacing is perfect and the story easy to read. This is a story of ordinary people facing life’s mercurial challenges. It is the strength of the characters and the relatability of the plot that makes it such an enjoyable read.

Posted in Book Review, Friendship, Holiday Romance, Romance, Romantic Comedy

A Wedding at the Comfort Food Cafe – 5* #Review – Debbie Johnson @Harper Impulse @debbiemjohnson

Wedding bells ring out in Budbury as the Comfort Food Café and its cosy community of regulars are gearing up for a big celebration…

But Auburn Longville doesn’t have time for that! Between caring for her poorly mum, moving in with her sister and running the local pharmacy, life is busy enough – and it’s about to get busier. Chaos arrives in the form of a figure from her past putting her quaint village life and new relationship with gorgeous Finn Jensen in jeopardy. It’s time for Auburn to face up to some life-changing decisions.

Settle in for a slice of wedding cake at the Comfort Food Café – a place where friendships are made for life and nobody ever wants to leave.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The Comfort Food Cafe has been a favourite read, since its inception. There is so much to love, with its quirky characters looking for someone to love them and give them a second chance. Cake to die for, and a wonderful sense of community and friendship that symbolises the ethos of these heartwarming, humorous and ultimately happy stories.

The final book in the series has a very special wedding. Laura was our first introduction to the cafe and her story is still one of my favourites. It made me cry, laugh out loud and empathise will her trials and tribulations. Auburn is our narrator for this final book in the series, and even though she fits right into the Budbury and the cafe community, she is keeping secrets and somehow feels she doesn’t deserve the friends, lover and life she currently enjoys.

The wedding is a delight and colourful, typically amongst the fun, love and romance there is conflict, thankfully not for the bride, but Auburn has to face her past. Even in this last book, there’s more to learn about the characters, and they continue to baffle and delight in equal measure. The ending is romantic and rightfully quirky. Even though we have read the last line, you can imagine the antics, hear the laughter and tears and almost taste the cake as the cafe’s comfort lives on.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship

5* #Review – The Newcomer – Fern Britton- @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @Fern_Britton

Cornwall is only a page away…


She arrived in the village on the spring tide and hoped to be at the heart of it, knowing its secrets and weathering its storms.

It was to be a new beginning…

It’s springtime in the Cornish village of Pendruggan and as the community comes together to say a fond farewell to parish vicar, Simon, and his wife, Penny, a newcomer causes quite a stir…

Reverand Angela Whitehorn came to Cornwall to make a difference. With her husband, Robert, by her side, she sets about making changes – but it seems not everyone is happy for her to shake things up in the small parish, and soon Angela starts to receive anonymous poison pen letters.

Angela has always been one to fight back, and she has already brought a fresh wind into the village, supporting her female parishioners through good times and bad. But as the letters get increasingly more personal, Angela learns that the secrets are closer to home.

With faith and friends by your side, even the most unlikely of new beginnings is possible.

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

My Thoughts…

There’s a certain addictive charm about all of Fern Britton’s stories. The description of Cornwall and village life are part of this, but the uniqueness stems from her characters. She explores everyday situations and leaves behind the mundane, teasing out the courage, fear, passion and secrets, which hide behind their public face,

This story draws you in with a tragic event, before taking you back six months to the arrival of a newcomer to Pendruggan. Angela is a newly ordained vicar, Pendruggan is her first, albeit temporary parish, and she wants to succeed. You meet the village characters, some of which are familiar, and Angela’s family. Her husband is a television political correspondent, on a temporary sabbatical from a career he loves, her daughter Faith, is much loved, but unhappy to be uprooted from her friends and the life she loves, Then there’s Aunt Mamie. A wildcard, she is an important influence in Angela’s life, and her maverick nature brings laughter and excitement to the village and its inhabitants.

The plot is fast-paced and easy reading, it has the ethos of a cozy mystery, with its cast of character and a mystery to solve, but it’s more than this. The complex characters are flawed and realistic and give the story emotional depth and interest. The plot is simple but believable, and its resolution authentic. There is a lovely medley of angst, faith, humour and poignancy. It’s an emotional journey for Angela and those who care about her and she leaves the village with memories that resonate.

A lovely book that is both entertaining and sincere.

Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Excerpt, Friendship, Romance, Romantic Comedy

A Summer of New Beginnings – Lisa Hobman #BlogTour – 5* #Review – #Author #Interview #Extract @Aria_Fiction @LisaJHobmanAuth

Meet Zara Bailey, a travel writer paid to cover some of the globe’s most luxurious locations. Jetting from wooden huts on stilts in turquoise seas to boutique hotels with roaring fires to 7* penthouse suites with panoramic views of the world’s most glamorous cities…

Zara knows hers is the definition of a dream job! So she is seriously shocked to receive her next assignment; Scotland’s Northcoast 500 route. By bicycle. Sleeping in a tent so basic it can’t remotely be dressed up glamping! But this could be just the distraction the recently heartbroken, Zara needs. No men, no romance, just the breathtakingly rugged Highland scenery.

Until she meets croft owner Lachlan Grant, and his black and white Border Collie Bess, that is….

Kobo

Amazon

Google Play

iBooks

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

My Thoughts…

Set mainly in the Scottish Highlands, travel journalist Zara takes on an assignment that puts her firmly out of her comfort zone. Her cycle ride in the Highlands makes her realise that living life for the moment, and being brave enough to follow her dreams may be worth the risk.

The beautifully described setting makes it easy to imagine Zara’s journey. Her love-hate relationship with her mountain bike provides many humorous moments. Zara’s complex personality makes her both likeable and often frustrating. I found myself shouting at her to see the truth of the situations she’s in. So, she is realistic and easy to empathise. Lachlan is more of a mystery. He hides his kind nature under a brusque outward manner.

The plot is full of conflict and dilemma for Zara, it’s exhausting to read at times but worth the emotional angst. The well-written ending concludes all plot twists and gives Zara the life she deserves and needs.

Interview Questions: Lisa Hobman – A Summer of New Beginnings Blog Tour

What inspired you to write this story? The descriptions are realistic, have you cycled all or part of this journey?

I have actually driven the majority of the route. We visit the Highlands annually and last summer we had the pleasure of stopping off at some of the points I visit in the story. I’m not sure I’m fit enough to cycle it but I would love to camp it for sure!

The Scottish Highlands is a popular setting for novelists, what makes your stories different? Why do you think this is?

The Scottish Highlands evoke so many emotions and the dramatic scenery really does lend itself to romance, in my opinion. Many authors have this same attraction to the perfect setting. I tend to write stories about places I’ve visited and which have affected me in some way emotionally. I find this way I can give real credence to the descriptions of the breath-taking locations.

Do you draw your characters from real life or are they purely a product of your imagination?

My characters are fictional; however, there are certain traits observed in real people that find their way into the ones I invent. It may be a story that someone tells me that resonates or perhaps a general personality that sparks an idea. But overall I keep real people out of my stories. My dogs, on the other hand, do feature! Ruby from A Seaside Escape is based on my own little characterful Patterdale Terrier.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I tend to enjoy crime novels. Partly because I’m fascinated by how they’re constructed so cleverly—clues and situations all weaved together until a bewildering climax eventually occurs. I especially love Ann Cleeves Shetland books. The scenery she creates with her words really transports me and I can almost be present in the story myself. It’s a bit of a dream of mine to write something in this genre but I have yet to attempt it.

What made you decide to become a writer and why does this genre appeal to you?

Writing is something I’ve always loved since childhood. I used to love writing stories and even wrote a book when I was a teenager! Until recent years it’s always been a bit of a pipe dream but I’m so happy to be fulfilling it now. Romance is a genre that I absolutely love to write. I love to get lost in the passion of a relationship whether it’s friends to lovers or second chances. Romance is something I find flows from my fingertips and makes me happy.

What are you currently writing?

My current work in progress is a novel set at Christmas but that’s all I’m prepared to say just now! You’ll need to watch this space as they say!

Extract

Zara stared, open-mouthed, at Noah as if he had completely lost the plot. As if his marbles were literally falling out of his ears as he spoke. She tried to wrap her head around the words he had uttered but her mind was in some kind of baffled stupor. Did he really just say camping to the girl who was accustomed to reviewing five-star luxury resorts for a living?

She shook her head. ‘I’m sorry, Noah, but… is this a joke?’ she asked hesitantly, dreading his answer. ‘You seem to be getting me confused with someone who likes the outdoors. I mean… I like being outdoors on the beach or checking out historical places for my reports, obviously, but camping? And Scotland?’ Noah was known for being a prankster; she waited for him to burst into hysterical laughter and do the whole, ‘Ha ha! Your face when I said camping! Of course, it’s a joke!’ But she waited in vain.

He leaned forward and fixed her with a pitiful gaze. ‘Zara, I know this isn’t your usual bag. I get that. But the fact is that the whole thing is booked. Dillon knew this and he’s still betrayed me; well, all of us really.’ There was a sad yet bitter edge to his usually jovial voice. He huffed and ran his hands through his greying, floppy hair. ‘And I need you to help me out on this. Dillon’s intern simply isn’t ready – in fact I wouldn’t have employed him at all, truth be told, but that’s a story for another day. It’s not something I would normally ask of you, but I can’t let this slip just because Dillon thinks he has bigger fish to fry. We may be a relatively small publication in comparison to others, but we still need to be at the top of our game. I’m counting on you, Zara. You’re my best travel writer as it is. But now Dillon is going you’re my only travel writer.’

She sighed deeply and an image of her petite body being crushed by a giant rucksack manifested in her mind. ‘But, Noah…’

He held up his hands. ‘I know. I know. But here’s the thing. Travelarium have got wind of the fact that Dillon is leaving. I got a call from Joel at their head office today. He couldn’t wait to stick his knife in. Sarcastic bastard. Anyway, they’re going to try and get there first. You know they’re already trying to make a name for themselves, and taking a portion of our readership would be a big bloody boost for them. This article would be a perfect inroad, believe me. They’re doing the real nitty-gritty stuff; the Australian outback and the bloody camel rides in Egypt. They’re making us look like we only care about the fluffy, frilly shit. But that was never my intention with The Bohemian. Dillon’s trip was supposed to be a real nuts and bolts piece; a chance to show our readership that we take travel seriously. And that the UK is just as important to us as a publication as the luxury destinations are. We can’t let it go. I won’t, Zara.’ She had never seen him like this. Obviously, Dillon’s shock announcement had floored him. But she wondered if there was something behind it all. Was the magazine struggling? Why was he not telling her if that was the case?

And anyway, what was wrong with fluff and frills? Life was too short to be so bothered about real life and all the crap that came with it. What was wrong with a bit of escapism?

She realised Noah was still on his rant about Travelarium and snapped her attention back to him. ‘… and the North Coast 500 route is so hot right now, Zara. It’s big news and we need to get in there first. Think of the team, eh?’

Good grief, next he’ll be telling me to think of the children. Talk about playing for my sympathy. She wasn’t quite ready to acquiesce. Not yet. ‘But surely there must be someone else better equipped and suited to doing the report. Surely there’s someone in the team, maybe a different department, for example, who loves camping and… and all that stuff.’

Noah closed his eyes briefly and when he opened them, he shook his head. ‘Zara, I’ve been let down by my best friend of God knows how many years. You currently have nothing assigned that can’t be put off for a while. I’m sorry but I can’t send anyone else. I need this to be done just right. I need your help on this. Please, Zara? You’re my only hope here.’

Suddenly the image of Noah dressed all in white with donuts for hair sprang to mind and she had to bite her lip so she didn’t laugh inappropriately at Noah’s Princess Leia-esque plea for help. She twisted her hands in her lap. She loved her job. And if the mag was in trouble she wanted to do all she could to help, obviously. Noah was an awesome boss and she wanted to be the reporter he needed her to be. But this was something above and beyond. She wouldn’t just be stepping out of her comfort zone. She’d be climbing in a spaceship and travelling until her comfort zone was a tiny speck on a distant planet. But she knew how much Noah had done for her. He’d taken a chance on her as a newly qualified journalist and she owed him so much.

She lifted her chin. ‘I need more information.’

Noah sat up straight once more, his wide-eyed expression filled with hope. ‘Anything. What do you need to know? Fire away.’

She cleared her throat, forcing the real question – i.e. Are you insane? – back from her tongue. ‘H-how will I be getting there?’

He nodded and took a slow, deep breath, which didn’t bode well. ‘Okay, so you’d be going north by train to Inverness. Then you’d pick up your bicycle and—’

‘Whoa! Hang on a darn-tooting-minute, here. Bicycle? You never mentioned anything about a bloody bicycle!’

Zara stared, open-mouthed, at Noah as if he had completely lost the plot. As if his marbles were literally falling out of his ears as he spoke. She tried to wrap her head around the words he had uttered but her mind was in some kind of baffled stupor. Did he really just say camping to the girl who was accustomed to reviewing five-star luxury resorts for a living?

She shook her head. ‘I’m sorry, Noah, but… is this a joke?’ she asked hesitantly, dreading his answer. ‘You seem to be getting me confused with someone who likes the outdoors. I mean… I like being outdoors on the beach or checking out historical places for my reports, obviously, but camping? And Scotland?’ Noah was known for being a prankster; she waited for him to burst into hysterical laughter and do the whole, ‘Ha ha! Your face when I said camping! Of course, it’s a joke!’ But she waited in vain.

He leaned forward and fixed her with a pitiful gaze. ‘Zara, I know this isn’t your usual bag. I get that. But the fact is that the whole thing is booked. Dillon knew this and he’s still betrayed me; well, all of us really.’ There was a sad yet bitter edge to his usually jovial voice. He huffed and ran his hands through his greying, floppy hair. ‘And I need you to help me out on this. Dillon’s intern simply isn’t ready – in fact, I wouldn’t have employed him at all, truth be told, but that’s a story for another day. It’s not something I would normally ask of you, but I can’t let this slip just because Dillon thinks he has bigger fish to fry. We may be a relatively small publication in comparison to others, but we still need to be at the top of our game. I’m counting on you, Zara. You’re my best travel writer as it is. But now Dillon is going you’re my only travel writer.’

She sighed deeply and an image of her petite body being crushed by a giant rucksack manifested in her mind. ‘But, Noah…’

He held up his hands. ‘I know. I know. But here’s the thing. Travelarium have got wind of the fact that Dillon is leaving. I got a call from Joel at their head office today. He couldn’t wait to stick his knife in. Sarcastic bastard. Anyway, they’re going to try and get there first. You know they’re already trying to make a name for themselves, and taking a portion of our readership would be a big bloody boost for them. This article would be a perfect inroad, believe me. They’re doing the real nitty-gritty stuff; the Australian outback and the bloody camel rides in Egypt. They’re making us look like we only care about the fluffy, frilly shit. But that was never my intention with The Bohemian. Dillon’s trip was supposed to be a real nuts and bolts piece; a chance to show our readership that we take travel seriously. And that the UK is just as important to us as a publication as the luxury destinations are. We can’t let it go. I won’t, Zara.’ She had never seen him like this. Obviously, Dillon’s shock announcement had floored him. But she wondered if there was something behind it all. Was the magazine struggling? Why was he not telling her if that was the case?

And anyway, what was wrong with fluff and frills? Life was too short to be so bothered about real life and all the crap that came with it. What was wrong with a bit of escapism?

She realised Noah was still on his rant about Travelarium and snapped her attention back to him. ‘… and the North Coast 500 route is so hot right now, Zara. It’s big news and we need to get in there first. Think of the team, eh?’

Good grief, next he’ll be telling me to think of the children. Talk about playing for my sympathy. She wasn’t quite ready to acquiesce. Not yet. ‘But surely there must be someone else better equipped and suited to doing the report. Surely there’s someone in the team, maybe a different department, for example, who loves camping and… and all that stuff.’

Noah closed his eyes briefly and when he opened them, he shook his head. ‘Zara, I’ve been let down by my best friend of God knows how many years. You currently have nothing assigned that can’t be put off for a while. I’m sorry but I can’t send anyone else. I need this to be done just right. I need your help on this. Please, Zara? You’re my only hope here.’

Suddenly the image of Noah dressed all in white with donuts for hair sprang to mind and she had to bite her lip so she didn’t laugh inappropriately at Noah’s Princess Leia-esque plea for help. She twisted her hands in her lap. She loved her job. And if the mag was in trouble she wanted to do all she could to help, obviously. Noah was an awesome boss and she wanted to be the reporter he needed her to be. But this was something above and beyond. She wouldn’t just be stepping out of her comfort zone. She’d be climbing in a spaceship and travelling until her comfort zone was a tiny speck on a distant planet. But she knew how much Noah had done for her. He’d taken a chance on her as a newly qualified journalist and she owed him so much.

She lifted her chin. ‘I need more information.’

Noah sat up straight once more, his wide-eyed expression filled with hope. ‘Anything. What do you need to know? Fire away.’

She cleared her throat, forcing the real question – i.e. Are you insane? – back from her tongue. ‘H-how will I be getting there?’

He nodded and took a slow, deep breath, which didn’t bode well. ‘Okay, so you’d be going north by train to Inverness. Then you’d pick up your bicycle and—’

‘Whoa! Hang on a darn-tooting-minute, here. Bicycle? You never mentioned anything about a bloody bicycle!’

Lisa’s debut novel was shortlisted in the 2014 RNA. Her stories centre around believable, yet down to earth characters and the places in Scotland she has visited and fallen in love with. She is a happily married mum of one with two energetic dogs.

Twitter

Facebook

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Romance

With or Without You – #Paperback #Blog Tour – Shari Low – @sharilow @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction

Have you ever made a life-changing decision and then wondered if you made the right one…?

When Liv and Nate walked up the aisle, Liv knew she was marrying the one, her soul mate and her best friend.

Six years later, it feels like routine and friendship is all they have left in common. What happened to the fun, the excitement, the lust, the love?

In the closing moments of 1999, Liv and Nate decide to go their separate ways, but at the last minute, Liv wavers. Should she stay or should she go?

Over the next twenty years we follow the parallel stories to discover if Liv’s life, heart and future have been better with Nate… Or without him?

Buy links

Amazon UK

Amazon

Kobo

iBooks

Google Play

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

My Thoughts…

If like me you believe in fate and love the film ‘Serendipity’, you’ll enjoy this well-written ‘what if’ story. Most people in a long-term relationship wonder, whether they are with their soulmate, or if under different circumstances they would be with someone else. This story explores Liv’s decision taken at the cusp of the 21st-century, stay with Nate or split up and live their lives apart.

A story of two halves, the outcome of being ‘without him’ is explored first and then ‘with him’. There’s friendship, conflict, romance and sadness but the ultimate conclusion is satisfying in both stories. The setting and relationships are believable, and though flawed, the characters endear themselves to the reader, and you want them to find happiness and fulfilment.

The pacing of the story makes it easy to read, and even though the storyline focuses on ordinary, everyday life, it is full of suspense, poignancy, laughter and love and makes this a lovely lighthearted read.

Guest Post – Serendipity – Shari Low

Some may have said it was serendipity. Some may call it love at first sight. But when a complete stranger walked towards me one night 25 years ago, I smiled because I knew I was in the right place at the right time. A week later we got engaged, and we’ve stuck together through a lifetime of children, books, ups, downs, dodgy fashion choices (but perms were so in!) and a labradoodle.

However, what would have happened if we hadn’t met? Would someone else have been the love of my life? Would I never have found this kind of happiness? Would I have married a rock star and settled for a life of loud music, wanton behaviour and leather trousers?

Actually, I quite like the sound of that option.

Or perhaps that chance meeting was meant to happen, and we were somehow destined to cross paths, if not that night, then at some other point in the future.

Those thoughts were the starting point for my new novel With Or Without You.

The main characters, Nate and Liv, have been together since they were teenagers. Now in their mid-twenties, their all-consuming love has faded to friendship and they’ve decided that their marriage has run its course. They agree to separate at midnight on the final day of 1999, but at the last minute, Nate wavers. The storyline then splits into two strands, one following the couple over the next eighteen years if they stay together, the other if they part.

Will they find each other again? Or will they discover a greater love elsewhere? Does serendipity really exist, or is everyone’s fate already pre-determined, our lives like tangled paths that will end at the same destination no matter what choices we make? 

As the stories unfold, Nate and Liv, and the people who share their lives discover the answers to those questions.

As for me? Excuse the uncharacteristic sentimentality, but I’ll never regret being in that place at that time and meeting that bloke. 

Leather trousers go out of fashion. Soul mates never do.

With Or Without You was published in paperback by Aria on 7th Feb 2019

Shari Low is the No1 best-selling author of over 20 novels, including With Or Without You, Another Day In Winter, One Day In December, A Life Without You and The Story Of Our Life. And because she likes to over-share toe-curling moments and hapless disasters, she is also the shameless mother behind a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. Once upon a time she met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband, a labradoodle, and two teenagers who think she’s fairly embarrassing except when they need a lift. 

Twitter

Facebook