The Monstrous Me series is a split perspective book looking at situations from another point of view to help children develop a sense of balance, roundedness and wellbeing. Readers can literally and figuratively, turn the story on its head, and look at the very same situations from different angles. In this first book, ‘My Mummy’s a Monster’ an inquisitive little girl is convinced her mum is a monster. But, is she really? When we look through her mummy’s eyes, we see a very different story.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This book teaches children to see things from someone else’s perspective. The rhyming text is easy to follow with situations familiar to both children and parents. Bright and comical illustrations complement the text perfectly.
The first book shows how the children think Mummy is a monster. The second shows the same story from Mummy’s side. It helps the children appreciate that everyone sees things differently, and every point of view is valid.
Natalie Reeves Billing is a Liverpool lass with a dark sense of humour, which often spills onto the page. She loves to write spooky, fantastical stories for young audiences, and dabbles in poetry, contemporary fiction. Natalie spent most of her early career in the music industry as a performer and professional songwriter. This lead, almost inevitably, to storytelling.
Natalie is an Arvon Foundation friend and is a student of the Golden Egg Academy. She is mentored under the Lloyds Bank SSE program, with her Bubs Literacy project. She is published in several anthologies with her poetry and flash fiction, including the Writing on the Wall, Read Now, Write Now, and is involved in several collaborations with fellow writers across poetry, song, and scriptwriting. Her new book, My Mummy is a Monster (part of the Monstrous Me collection) will be available in March 2020 and Carry Love in June 2020
This colourful novel of adventure, family, and courage shows young Billy McTaggart coming of age as a tapper in a British railyard during the bitter years following World War II. Bullied for his small stature but endowed with a sharp mind, the fierce ambition of his sweetheart Meg, and the love of his Mam, Billy navigates a rapidly changing world where steam engines give way to rock and roll, Elvis, and the Beatles. Everything changes for Billy in one breathtaking moment when he uncovers an amazing secret hidden inside a rail car. Romance, loss, pain, and elation follow his path up and out of England’s rigid class system. Through it all, Billy maintains his generous spirit and sense of what is right. Billy Tapper Zillionaire captures the humanity of simple relationships for an accidental bystander to history growing up in the 1950s and 60s.
Born in Scotland and raised in Zimbabwe and South Africa, Gary Finnan splits his time between Sonoma Wine country in California and his farm in Aiken South Carolina, along with his wife Eva and two daughters. Gary is an award-winning inspirational author.
Nick and Lesley’s desire for a better life in the countryside was a long-held dream. Unforeseen events and a leap of faith forced that dream into reality, but moving to rural Ireland was only the beginning of their story. Foreigners in a foreign land, they set about making new friends, learning the culture and expanding their collection of chickens and unruly dogs. But their dream home was in desperate need of renovation, a mammoth task they attacked with the aid of a DIY manual, dwindling funds and incompetent enthusiasm. With defunct diggers, collapsing ladders, and shocking electrics, what could possibly go wrong? Will their new life live up to expectations, or will the Irish weather, dangerous roads, and a cruel twist of fate turn this dream into a nightmare?
I received an audiobook from the author in return for an honest review.
Living the country dream in Ireland was how we left Nick and Lesley at the end of book 1. Book 2 details what life is like and the ups and downs of renovation. The honesty and humour are the unique selling point of this series. It’s not just the good bits it’s the bad bits too. There are many poignant events in this memoir that make the listener empathise.
For anyone who’s ever renovated their home, you’ll be agreeing with Nick’s observations and chuckling at the mistakes and the near disasters. Add in the peculiarities of an unfamiliar country and its a recipe for misunderstandings and subsequent laughter.
The animals are still front and centre in Nick’s life, and there are many anecdotes some hilarious, some sad in this story. What shines through is the sharing of a dream, the courage and the innate sense of humour of the storyteller and his wife.
I’m looking forward to reading the next instalment. The narration is first-class brings the characters to life.
Nick Albert was born in England and raised in a Royal Air Force family. After leaving College he worked in retail management for several years before moving into financial services where he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a training consultant. As a very passionate and reasonably talented sportsman, Nick had always wanted to use his training skills towards creating a parallel career, so in the mid 1980’s he qualified and began coaching sport professionally. After a health scare in 2003 and in search of a simpler life, he and his wife Lesley, cashed in their investments, sold their home and bought a rundown farmhouse in the rural west of Ireland – a country they had never before even visited. With little money or experience and armed only with a do-it-yourself manual, they set about renovating their new home, where they now live happily alongside a flock of chickens, two ducks and several unruly, but delightful dogs. In 2017 Nick was signed to Ant Press to write a series of humorous memoirs about his life in rural Ireland. Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds (book one) was published in September 2017 and soon became an Amazon bestseller. Book two in the series was published on 1st June 2018 and book 3 in August 2019. Book four is due out in 2020.
Nick is also the author of the twisty thriller, Wrecking Crew, the first in a series of books featuring reluctant hero Eric Stone.
Struggling to come to terms with the loss of her mother, Sophie needs to get away from it all. On a much-needed break to Tenerife, she stumbles across a Help Wanted sign for local pensioner, Hugo, and on a leap of faith she accepts the job.
But life on the island isn’t all sun, sea and siestas…
Hugo’s beautiful villa is under threat and, to complicate matters, his brooding (but handsome) nephew, Alex, has shown up full of suspicion towards Sophie.
Her hands full dealing with difficult men and a clearly unreciprocated attraction towards Alex, Sophie needs to decide if her future lies in Tenerife or if her holiday is officially over.Escape to a Spanish island with this gorgeously uplifting romance,
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Exploring the non-touristy side of Tenerife this is an emotional and enjoyable uplit story. The setting, seen through the eyes of main character Sophie, makes an impact. The story of rebuilding a life after caring for a loved one is poignant and realistic and makes Sophie easy to empathise.
This is an escapist read, so fate takes a hand in the proceedings. Sophie’s multigenerational relationship with Hugo is humorous and rewarding. The chance for romance surprises Sophie but makes her braver as she tries to map out her future. Enigmatic Alex or friendly Dominic, who will she choose?
Gentle romance humour and poignancy fuse together to provide a lovely way to escape for a couple of hours.
At last, a book that is easy to read and tells it how it is! The book was written to assist authors to maximise their success when submitting work to agents or publishers, to help authors consider their priorities and preferences for getting work into print. To advise authors on how to identify the agents and/or publishers they want to approach. It should also assist with editing their manuscript fully prior to submission. The book offers advice about how to prepare a submission package to give an author the best chance of success. The road to becoming a successful author is not easy, but it is rewarding. Let this book take you on the journey.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a clear, concise and motivational book on getting published. It contains relevant information on preparing your manuscript for publication based on the author’s recent experience. It recognises the dynamic nature of publishing and offers easy to follow guidance, on how to present your manuscript most effectively.
It’s quick to read but will provide a new writer with easy to refer to guidance, as their writing journey progresses. The layout is sensible and the advice considered. It’s a book I will read again.
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.
The Chamberlain family – Charlie and Daphne, and their children Laura, Scott and Nick – had fantastic summer holidays when they were young. But then, inevitably, the children grew up, and their own messy lives got in the way.
Since their mum died, it feels to them all as if their family just isn’t that close any more. And Charlie fears his kids have all lost their direction.
For his eightieth birthday, all Charlie wants is to bring his family together again – and by some miracle, they’ve all said yes.
So for the first time in a very long time, the Chamberlains are going on a family holiday.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin – Michael Joseph UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Like all addictive family drama, this is a character-driven emotional story. Charlie is lost without Daphne, his wife and feels his once-close family is drifting. He plans a family holiday as Daphne would have done and hopes to draw his fractured children together.
The opening chapters explore the main characters and significant events. This illustrates their complexities and flaws and engages the reader in their lives. The characters are easy to empathise and relatable. The family drama is realistic and makes this an emotional read.
The holiday draws the family’s troubles into the open with dramatic and poignant results. Ultimately the family unit survives with help from an unexpected source making you believe in serendipity.
One day in summer, three lives are about to change forever.
After two decades of looking after others, this is the day that Agnetha McMaster is reclaiming her life. It’s her turn, her time but will she have the courage to start again?
Ten years ago, Mitchell McMaster divorced Agnetha and married her best friend, Celeste. Now he suspects his second wife is having an affair. This is the day he’ll discover if karma has come back to bite him.
Thanks to a DNA test, this is the day that Hope McTeer will finally meet her biological father. But will the reunion bring Hope the answers that she’s looking for?
Three people. Twenty-four hours. A lifetime of secrets to unravel.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a heartwarming story, focusing on three individuals, one day in Summer. It’s a story of family, loss and love. How life changes you until sometimes, you don’t recognise the person you’ve become.
The story takes place in a day with flashbacks to the past. Family life, marriage breakdown, betrayal and love are explored, through the eyes of Agnetha, Mitchell and Hope. The multi-person point of view, over a set period, is part of the author’s unique style, and it works well.
The characters are believable and relatable. The emotional day takes the reader on a rollercoaster of ups and downs. There’s an uplifting ethos despite the setbacks which gives you hope that there’s always a second chance if you’re brave enough to take it.
Shari Low is the #1 bestselling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In Winter and With Or Without You and a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. She lives near Glasgow and her first title for Boldwood was My One Month Marriage in January 2020.
United by tragedy, can two broken souls make each other whole?
After the tragic loss of his wife, Helen, Luke Hansard is desperate to keep her memory alive. In an effort to stay close to her, he reaches out to an online friend Helen often mentioned: a reclusive photographer with a curious interest in beautiful but broken objects. But first he must find her—and she doesn’t want to be found.
Orla Kendrick lives alone in the ruins of a remote Suffolk castle, hiding from the haunting past that has left her physically and emotionally scarred. In her fortress, she can keep a safe distance from prying eyes, surrounded by her broken treasures and insulated from the world outside.
When Luke tracks Orla down, he is determined to help her in the way Helen wanted to: by encouraging her out of her isolation and back into the world. But Orla has never seen her refuge as a prison and, when painful secrets and dangerous threats begin to resurface, Luke’s good deed is turned on its head.
As they work through their grief for Helen in very different ways, will these two broken souls be able to heal?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest reveiw.
This story immerses the reader in the characters from the first page. Helen is likeable and about to pursue her dreams when fate intervenes. Helen is integral to the story and resonates throughout. Luke is lost and desperate to hold on to his wife’s memory. Taking a present to her online friend is a positive way to do this, but it fraught with difficulties.
Reclusive Orla is hiding from herself and life, but with good reason. Luke visit draws her back into the world, painful though it is forcing her to confront her fears. I like Orla and enjoyed her courageous fight back to life rather than existence.
The community surrounding the cottage are positive and supportive of Orla. The analogy of seeing the beauty in broken things is the major theme of this story and shows the power of acceptance, understanding and life experience.
This is a lovely story of serendipitous friendship and overcoming fear. It shows that through acceptance and understanding, life can be beautiful, despite being less than perfect.
Victoria Connelly studied English Literature at Worcester University, got married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales and now lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a young springer spaniel and a flock of ex-battery hens. She is the million-selling author of two bestselling series, Austen Addicts and The Book Lovers, as well as many other novels and novellas. Her first published novel, Flights of Angels, was made into a film in 2008 by Ziegler Films in Germany. The Runaway Actress was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Romantic Comedy Novel award.
Victoria loves books, films, walking, historic buildings and animals. If she isn’t at her keyboard writing, she can usually be found in her garden either with a trowel in her hand or a hen on her lap.
Sometimes the best holidays are the ones you least expect…
After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them.
But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort.
So now Sarah’s battling mosquitos, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape. Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus – Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Humour, originality and romance are all integral to this motivational story. There are good intentions, misunderstandings and an idyllic if not expected setting. Deeper issues of controlling behaviour and conservation add depth and engagement.
Forced out of her comfort level, Sarah confronts issues caused by her difficult childhood. She is conflicted but easy to empathise. Gentle romance is the catalyst for her emotional journey, which is positive and satisfying.
Extract from Summer Island Swop – Samantha Tonge
‘I’ll still have to clear it at work. I’m not sure how Prue will feel about me taking a month off.’
Just the mention of my boss’s name made my stomach knot.
‘No one’s indispensable. Not even wonderful you,’ she called back.
My chest felt warm. Over recent years, Amy had matured and started to look out for me, cooking dinner and mowing the lawn. However, I’d never lose my maternal feelings towards her. When we were ten and six ours was quite an age gap. As was eighteen and fourteen when I’d had to leave her behind with Dad but promised we’d live together again. I beat the sugar and butter, remembering her tears and his folded arms as I dragged my suitcase past the fountain and out of the huge driveway, into the street. I’d finally realised I had to leave after… I swallowed. No. I wasn’t going to think about that now.
I let Nelly into the back garden, busied myself with ingredients and cleaned up whilst the cookies baked. Their sweet aroma wafted through the air as I carried them into the lounge, on a tray, with two coffees.
‘Good timing,’ said Amy and turned off her screen, looking pleased with herself. I put the tray on the table and joined her.
‘Is it all booked?’
She nodded. ‘A modest deposit paid. The rest is due in the middle of June, two weeks before we leave.’
‘Can’t you at least share which part of the world we’re visiting?’
‘That would be telling,’ she replied airily and took the largest cookie.
I jumped up and held her right arm firm whilst tickling the armpit. ‘I won’t stop until I find out, Amy Sterling.’
However, she was as strong as me these days and, giggling, held the cookie in her mouth and forced both of my hands away. I sat down once more. I recognised that expression. She was determined to keep her secret. Sometimes, with my impulsive sister, that could be a dangerous thing, like when she’d agreed to do a charity skydive with colleagues at work. She didn’t tell me until the morning of the jump.
‘Just a clue. A teeny one,’ I said. ‘Please…’
‘I’ve never seen you this excited before. Well, not since you were made assistant manager. Oh, and the time you found that fancy moisturiser for half price.’
‘It wasn’t just any moisturiser. The Duchess of Cambridge uses it.’ I pressed my palms together. ‘At least let me guess… the Canary Islands? Barbados? Australia’s an island, right? I mean, you and me – we share most things, don’t we?’
‘Best buddies, always,’ she said solemnly.
It was a promise we’d made to each other, the day after Mum’s funeral. And sure enough, we confided in each other about our latest celebrity crushes, about our dreams for the future; we put the world to rights over Chardonnay and Pringles. I knew her favourite colour, favourite food, favourite band. She could always tell when I’d had a stressful day at work and, without prying, would make me a hot chocolate, fetch a blanket and switch on my current Netflix obsession.
Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.
When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.
She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo and in 2020 her novel Knowing You won the RNA’s Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award.
Escape to Everdene, where the sun is shining and the tide is about to turn . . .
Robyn and Jake are planning their dream wedding at the family beach hut. Just their favourite people, a picnic on the sand and dancing barefoot until sunset: simple, stylish, special.
But Robyn can’t stop thinking about her birth mother, or the box she left when she gave Robyn up for adoption. Is now the right time to open it and discover the truth – or will she break the hearts of the people she loves most?
Sheila and Mick, Robyn’s parents, also feel the time is right for change. But it’s going to take courage to start the life they want for themselves.
And far away, Emily is still haunted by the life-changing decision she made one summer, thirty years ago. What could lead a mother to relinquish her child?
As the big day approaches, can everyone let go of the past and step into a bright new future?
One thing is certain: this will be the wedding that changes everything …
I received a copy of this book from Orion in return for an honest review.
This book has all the ingredients for a perfect escapist read. There are complex and engaging characters who are easy to empathise, a delightful coastal setting with a quintessential English beach hut and a family drama that oozes with emotion, love and secrets.
Robyn’s life is about the change in the best of ways she pregnant and getting married. A likeable quirky character she is one half of a successful landscaping team with her partner in life Jake Her only quandary is whether to search for her birth mother.
This story weaves storylines of loss and love with effortless ease. The wedding is the focal point but it’s about so much more.
Veronica Henry is the Sunday Times bestselling author of twenty novels. She was a scriptwriter for some of our best-loved dramas such as The Archers, Heartbeat and Holby City before she turned to fiction. She lives in North Devon with three sons who come and go with the tide, and she flips between walking on the beach, swimming in the sea and mixing killer Negronis.