Posted in Biography, Book Review, Memoir, Non-Fiction

If Clouds Were Sheep Sue Andrews 5*#Review @ShepherdessSue @CrumpsBarnStudio #AutoBiography #memoir #sheep #farming #motivational #BookReview #Paperback #IfCloudsWereSheep #Cotswolds #Dreams @MsLornaGray

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If Clouds Were Sheep…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This honest and humorous memoir gives a unique insight into sheep farming in the Cotswolds.

When their friendship leads to love, Sue is happy to share Aubrey’s boyhood dream of farming sheep. Sue shares life experiences, people who influenced their lives and the characterful animals integral to their farming dream.

It’s an engaging and immersive read, sharing life’s ups and downs, of farming sheep. Their dedication and respect for the animals are evident, and the reader soon realises that farming is a way of life rather than a job. Humorous and poignant anecdotes, fill the pages of this memoir. There are lots of interesting facts about sheep farming.

An inspiring and motivational memoir that proves dreams can be chased and won.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Excerpt, Extract, Family Drama, Friendship, Motivational, Parenting and Famlies, Romance, Travel

Take a Look at Me Now Kendra Smith 4*#Review @KendraAuthor @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #BlogTour #BookReview #Life #Love #Friendship #Motivational #multigenerational

Out with the old…

Maddie Brown has spent most of her life putting everyone else’s needs above her own. But with her marriage crumbling and her nest scarily empty, she realises it may be time to spread her own wings and fly.

In with the… ex?

At a university reunion, Maddie meets Greg. He was the love of her life – and the one that got away. Some things never change, and neither of them can deny the feelings that linger between them. But there are so many reasons they can’t be together… not least the massive secret she has been keeping from him all these years. 

Maddie is SO ready for a brand new start. But what do you do when the past just won’t stay in the past?

Amazon iBooks Kobo Google Play

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

My Thoughts…

A multi-generational story about life, love, romance and friendship. Maddie regrets her choices made twenty years ago. Can she be the person she is inside? Maddie is a relatable character, easy to empathise and like. Essentially this is a journey of belated self-discovery, it retains its grip on reality because Maddie doesn’t shy away from her responsibilities, but realises she deserves to do things for her too.

Extract from Take a Look at Me Now – Kendra Smith

They sat at separate tables. Maddie picked at her food and allowed her glass to be refilled several times, and eventually emerged from the fuggy hall, where the fog of drinks, steam and aromas of the four-course dinner came up against the sharp evening wind outside.

It was dusky, the horizon swallowing up the smear of crimson streaked across it, like a watercolour painting turning dark at the edges. Maddie looked around as she inhaled the air heavy with the scent of honeysuckle. She could see him standing at the bottom of the steps, his face glowing in the eerie white light of his mobile phone. Then he was taking a call, his shoulders hunched over. She pulled back and waited by the doorway, unsure of her place.

She swayed slightly on her heels, knowing she’d had too many drinks. Whatever the conversation was, it was heated. He was gesturing with his free hand towards the grass, as if conducting his own private, invisible orchestra. After a minute, he spun around and jammed his phone in his pocket. Then he saw her, walking slowly down the steps. She pulled her wrap around her shoulders tightly as she got to him.

‘I have to go,’ he muttered, and jerked his head to the left.

Like the last time, Greg? she wanted to ask. But instead she calmed the butterflies in her stomach, as the wave of emotion overwhelmed her and forced a smile. Theirs was a story from the past.

They used to miss lectures on a Friday as they both only had one – they’d stay in bed most of the day. He’d wander around her tiny bedsit in not much more than a towel tied around his waist after a scalding-hot shower. In fact, she realised with a shudder, that’s what she missed the most: the easy intimacy. He used to wash her hair sometimes, with gentle hands on her scalp, circling the back of her neck with his strong thumbs. He’d sit her down in front of the basin and gently wet it all, pour over shampoo then put on honey-scented conditioner and comb it through.

It was wonderful and so relaxing. Sometimes it had led to something more… but normally he’d wrap her hair in a towel and they’d sit, watching her tiny TV, and she’d feel like the luckiest girl in the world. And now, here he was, in a dinner jacket and black tie, standing right next to her. Stony-faced. She bit her lip, tasted the blood, so she could focus on the present.

And with that he walked briskly away.

She watched him. Watched as he strode across the concrete courtyard, heels clicking, like he did all those years ago. Perhaps she’d been stupid to come, to open up all those old wounds again. She folded her arms across her chest and shivered.

‘Maddie!’ It was Ellie, weaving her way towards her in purple slingbacks, clipping on the hard surface. ‘There you are! C’mon, we’re all going to the Student Union bar for Snakebites! Maddie, c’mon!’ Ellie had stopped by one of the pillars and was fiddling with her shoes.

‘Looks like you need some help with your footwear!’ She took Ellie by the arm as they made their – slightly wobbly – way to the bar.

As she licked the traces of blood from her lips, she was thankful that at least it would take her mind off the nagging question that was building up in her mind.

Kendra Smith has been a journalist, wife, mother, aerobics teacher, qualified diver and very bad cake baker. She started her career in Sydney selling advertising space but quickly made the leap to editorial – and went on to work on several women’s magazines in both Sydney and London. With dual Australian-British nationality, she currently lives in Surrey with her husband and three children.

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Posted in Book Spotlight, Childrens Books, Motivational, Parenting and Famlies

A Lesson for Every Child: Learning About Food Allergies by Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino & Illustrated by Sally Huss @SallyHuss #Bookbuzz #KidsBooks #BookTweet

A Lesson for Every Child: Learning About Food Allergies

Learning was everything to Mrs Emerson. So when a new student was brought into her classroom, Mrs Emerson was delighted because she discovered that this young man knew something that everyone needed to know. She told her class that Jack was just like everyone else, except for one thing – he had food allergies. “Would you like to explain that to us, Jack?” Jack proceeds to educate us all. This book is endorsed by Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT), MedicAlert® Foundation, Elijah Alavi Foundation, The Love for Giovanni Foundation, No Nut Traveler, and Food Allergy Zone.

Amazon UK

Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino is one of America’s foremost personal and corporate development consultants. She is the creator of The Best Ever You Network (or Best Ever You), a leading multimedia provider of lifestyle and self-help content. While participating in the Harvard Business School for Leadership program, Elizabeth serves as a Leadership Advisor for the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute.

In 2020 Elizabeth joined Sally Huss to create the best-selling children’s book A Lesson for Every Child: Learning About Food Allergies. Living with life-threatening food allergies for many years, Elizabeth added her personal experience and her expertise to the project. She also sits on several boards of organizations and foundations that bring awareness to this life-threatening condition.

Elizabeth is also the best-selling author of Percolate – Let Your Best Self Filter Through (Hay House Publishing). elizabethguarino.com.

Author/Illustrator Sally Huss creates children’s books to uplift the lives of children. She does this by giving them tools to overcome obstacles; by helping them value themselves and others; and by inspiring them to be the best that they can be. Her catalogue of books now exceeds 100.

“Bright and happy,” “light and whimsical” have been the catchphrases attached to the writings and art of Sally Huss for over 30 years. Sweet images dance across all of Sally’s creations, whether in the form of children’s books, paintings, wallpaper, ceramics, baby bibs, purses, clothing, or her King Features syndicated newspaper panel “Happy Musings.”

Sally is a graduate of USC with a degree in Fine Art and through the years has had 26 of her own licensed art galleries throughout the world. sallyhuss.com.

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

The Fallout Rebecca Thornton 4* #Review @RThorntonwriter @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam #RandomThingsTours @annecater #BlogTour #BookReview #family #drama #friendship #psychological #suspense #parenting #children #thefallout

When Liza’s little boy has an accident at the local health club, it’s all anyone can talk about.

Was nobody watching him?
Where was his mother?
Who’s to blame?

The rumours, the finger-pointing, the whispers – they’re everywhere. And Liza’s best friend, Sarah, desperately needs it to stop.

Because Sarah was there when it happened. It was all her fault. And if she’s caught out on the lie, everything will fall apart.

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…

This story has a claustrophobic, immersive quality that draws you into the world of parenting in West London. Once there, it’s not a pleasant place to be, with its backstabbing, vicious gossip and judgy attitudes. It’s against this privileged setting that a psychological suspense drama unfolds, featuring Sarah and Liza, who are best friends, and what happens between them and their families after a tragic accident.

Liza and Sarah have dark secrets. Sarah and Liza are unreliable protagonists. Other points of view are revealed via social media group conversations, making the novel contemporary and vibrant. There is a sinister undercurrent in this story. Is it a product of a disturbed psyche or reality?

Character-driven and reflecting twenty-first-century issues, this is an addictive story created out of ordinary and often poignant events and secrets. It’s essential reading for lovers of domestic, psychological suspense and family drama.

Rebecca Thornton

Rebecca Thornton is an alumna of the Faber Academy Writing A Novel course, where she was tutored by Esther Freud and Tim Lott. Her writing has been published in The Guardian, You Magazine, Daily Mail, Prospect Magazine and The Sunday People amongst others. She has reported from the Middle East, Kosovo and the UK. She now lives in
West London with her husband and two children. The Fallout is her third novel.

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

Grown Ups Marian Keyes 4*#Review @MichaelJBooks #MarianKeyes #BookReview #GrownUps #Family #Drama #humour #Secrets #lies #love #friendship

They’re a glamorous family, the Caseys.

Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together – birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie – who has the most money – insists on it.

Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .

Everything stays under control until Ed’s wife Cara gets concussion and can’t keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets.

In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s time – finally – to grow up?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Penguin Books UK – Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This book has many positive qualities. It’s cleverly plotted, with complex and relatable characters, and a good balance of humour and poignancy. It explores family and personal issues, with honesty and sensitivity.

The dramatic beginning draws the reader into the family drama. Delving into past family interactions and individual stories, an astute and insightful look at the family reveals deceit, infidelity and mental health issues. There are many characters, some hard to empathise, but they all play an integral part in the unfolding story.

Its slow pace and length, make it an ideal holiday read?

Posted in Biography, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Non-Fiction

18 Tiny Deaths: The Untold Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics Bruce Goldfarb 3*#Review @bruce_goldfarb @Octopus_Books #18TinyDeaths #ForensicScience #Biography #nonfiction #RandomThingsTours @annecater

For most of human history, sudden and unexpected deaths of a suspicious nature, when they were investigated at all, were examined by lay persons without any formal training. People often got away with murder. Modern forensic investigation originates with Frances Glessner Lee – a pivotal figure in police science.

Frances Glessner Lee (1878-1962), born a socialite to a wealthy and influential Chicago family, was never meant to have a career, let alone one steeped in death and depravity. Yet she became the mother of modern forensics and was instrumental in elevating homicide investigation to a scientific discipline.

Frances Glessner Lee learned forensic science under the tutelage of pioneering medical examiner Magrath – he told her about his cases, gave her access to the autopsy room to observe post-mortems and taught her about poisons and patterns of injury. A voracious reader too, Lee acquired and read books on criminology and forensic science – eventually establishing the largest library of legal medicine.

Lee went on to create The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death – a series of dollhouse-sized crime scene dioramas depicting the facts of actual cases in exquisitely detailed miniature – and perhaps the thing she is most famous for. Celebrated by artists, miniaturists and scientists, the Nutshell Studies are a singularly unusual collection. They were first used as a teaching tool in homicide seminars at Harvard Medical School in the 1930s, and then in 1945 the homicide seminar for police detectives that is the longest-running and still the highest-regarded training of its kind in America. Both of which were established by the pioneering Lee.

In 18 Tiny Deaths, Bruce Goldfarb weaves Lee’s remarkable story with the advances in forensics made in her lifetime to tell the tale of the birth of modern forensics.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This biography explores significant forensic science developments and Frances Glessner Lee’s role in them. Focusing predominately on North American forensic science, the book sets the scene by highlighting defects of the legal-medico and Coroner’s system, before the development of modern forensic science.

Details of Frances Glessner Lee’s ancestry, upbringing and life, show how remarkable her legacy is, at a time when women were sidelined by society. This is a biography of a notable woman, interwoven with developments in forensic science. For those who enjoy historical biographies, her life is intrinsically interesting. Frances’ interest in making miniature figures and pieces is documented, something which she later used for teaching purposes in forensic science.

Early developments in forensic science and crimes and the development of the medical examiner role and autopsy are explored through case studies and historical characters. Lee’s role in developing a department of legal medicine is documented in detail. As are the model scenes she creates, these are illustrated.

This is a factual, interesting biography, which will appeal to those, interested in the origins of, and players in, forensic science in North America.

Bruce Goldfarb

Bruce Goldfarb is the executive assistant to the Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Maryland, US, where the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death are housed. He gives conducted tours of the facility and is also a trained forensic investigator. He began his career as a paramedic before working as a journalist, reporting on medicine, science and health.

He collaborated with Susan Marks – the documentary filmmaker who produced the 2012 film about Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshells titled Of Dolls and Murder.

Posted in Blog Blitz, Childrens Books, Motivational

Self-Confident Sandy by Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino & Illustrated by Sally Huss @SallyHuss #Bookbuzz #KidsBooks #BookTweet

Sandy was full of self-confidence. Where did it come from? She could do anything, but why? Ah, she had a special mantra that she used to explain herself. “” You may ask me why I can do anything I try… and the only answer can be: all these things are inside me!’ Yes, I can do most anything. Once I set my mind and heart to it, I find that there is nothing to it. Still, I keep my mantra handy,” explained Self-Confident Sandy!

Amazon UK

Sally Huss

Author/Illustrator Sally Huss creates children’s books to uplift the lives of children. She does this by giving them tools to overcome obstacles; by helping them value themselves and others; and by inspiring them to be the best that they can be. Her catalogue of books now exceeds 100.

“Bright and happy,” “light and whimsical” have been the catch phrases attached to the writings and art of Sally Huss for over 30 years. Sweet images dance across all of Sally’s creations, whether in the form of children’s books, paintings, wallpaper, ceramics, baby bibs, purses, clothing, or her King Features syndicated newspaper panel “Happy Musings.”

Sally is a graduate of USC with a degree in Fine Art and through the years has had 26 of her own licensed art galleries throughout the world. sallyhuss.com.

Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino is one of America’s foremost personal and corporate development consultants. She is the creator of The Best Ever You Network (or Best Ever You), a leading multimedia provider of lifestyle and self-help content. While participating in the Harvard Business School for Leadership program, Elizabeth serves as a Leadership Advisor for the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute.

In 2020 Elizabeth joined Sally Huss to create the best-selling children’s book A Lesson for Every Child: Learning About Food Allergies. Living with life-threatening food allergies for many years, Elizabeth added her personal experience and her expertise to the project. She also sits on several boards of organizations and foundations that bring awareness to this life-threatening condition.

Elizabeth is also the best-selling author of Percolate – Let Your Best Self Filter Through (Hay House Publishing). elizabethguarino.com.