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

Life’s What You Make It Sian O’Gorman 5* #Review @msogorman @BoldwoodBooks @bookandtonic @rararesources #boldwoodbloggers #BlogTour #BookReview #LifesWhatYouMakeIt

Dreams can come true, you just have to believe…

All new from Irish bestselling author Sian O’Gorman



After 10 years in London, working in a stressful City firm, Liv O’Neill returns home to Sandycove, a picturesque seaside village, just outside Dublin to care for her mother after a fall.

Whilst Liv reconnects with friends and family, she is amazed by Sandycove’s thriving community spirit with its artisan shops, delis and cafes – it’s not quite the place she left behind.

As village life begins to creep under her skin, Liv is forced to confront the things that drove her away.

Can Liv balance her past, present and future and find her own happy place?

And will a handsome young doctor help her make a decision about the life she really wants?

Suddenly her old life in London begins to seem extremely unappealing and Liv is forced to use her family’s past in order to forge a brand new future.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The reader is instantly drawn to Liv, the main protagonist in this heartwarming story of love, life and second chances. Returning to her hometown, Liv finds the sense of community and completeness she’s missed. Family secrets, friendship rekindled, and romance are woven into the plot making it an engaging read. It’s about finding what makes you happy and being brave enough to follow your dreams.

The setting is intrinsic to the story. It’s described with powerful sensory imagery that draws the reader into the world. If you enjoy heartbreak, happiness and soul searching, this story delivers them all beautifully.

Extract from Life’s What You Make It – Sian O’Gorman

Chapter One

I really should buy my ex-boyfriend and his ex-girlfriend a drink or a posh box of chocolates to say thank you for getting back together, even if it was just for one night. And I should say an even bigger thank you to her for telling me about it. Because if Jeremy and Cassandra hadn’t met up at one of his friend’s weddings, there is the very real possibility that he and I might have carried on and then everything that did happen wouldn’t have happened and my life would have remained exactly as it was.

I was an Irish girl transplanted to London for a decade, swapping the seaside and village of Sandycove – with its little shops and the beach, the people, the way the clouds skidded in for a storm, the rainbows that blossomed afterwards – for the bright lights, the traffic and the incessant noise of London. My visits home had become sporadic to the point of paltry. There was never enough time for a long trip and so my visits were only ever two nights long. Even last Christmas I’d flown in on Christmas Eve and was gone the 27th. I’d barely seen Mum or my best friend Bronagh and when Mum drove me to the airport and hugged me goodbye, I had the feeling that we were losing each other, as though we were becoming strangers.

London had become a slog, working twelve-hour days for my toxic boss, Maribelle, who drank vodka from her water bottle and didn’t believe in bank holidays. Or weekends. Or going home for the evening. Or eating. Or, frankly, anything that made life worth living. If it wasn’t for my flatmate, Roberto, my London life would have been utterly miserable. Looking back now, I think the reason why I kept going out with Jeremy for six months, even though we were entirely unsuited, was because at least it was something. And if I’ve learned anything about life over the last year, it’s that you should do something, but never the least of it.

‘Olivia O’Neill,’ Roberto would say on a loop. ‘Liv, you need to raise your game.’ He wasn’t a fan of Jeremy, whom I’d been seeing for six months. ‘Leave Jeremy and dump Maribelle and make your own life.’

But how do you do that when you have forgotten what your own life is? How on earth do you find it again when you are the grand old age of thirty-two? I couldn’t start again. But then the universe works in mysterious ways. If you don’t get off your arse and make changes, then it gets fed up and starts making them for you. But anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself… let’s zip back to before it all began… before I discovered what really made me happy, took charge of my life and found my crown.

* * *

‘Olivia?’

It was Friday, the last day of May, and I was at Liverpool Street Station. Mum normally called at this time, knowing my route to work and that, by 7.32 a.m., I was always on the escalator, rising up from the underground, before the thirteen-minute trot to my office.

‘Hi, Mum, how are you? Everything okay?’

‘I am…’ She hesitated.

‘Mum…?’

‘I am…’ She stopped again. ‘I am fine… absolutely fine. It’s just we’ve been in A & E all evening… we got home back at midnight…’

‘A & E?’ I was so worried that I didn’t ask who the ‘wewas.

‘It happened the other night in Pilates,’ she said. ‘I reached down to pick up the ball and I felt my knee go.’

My speed walk through the station stopped mid-concourse, making a man in pinstripes swerve and swear at me under his breath. It didn’t make sense. My mother was fitter than me, this walk from tube to desk was the only exercise I did. She was fifty-seven and power walked her way up and down the seafront every evening, as well as the twice-weekly Pilates classes. ‘But you are brilliant at Pilates,’ I said. ‘Didn’t your teacher say you have the body of a twenty-five-year-old?’ I’d moved myself to the side of the newsagents’ kiosk, where I would buy my Irish Times to keep when I was feeling homesick – which was increasingly more frequent these days.

Mum gave a laugh. ‘She said my hips were the hips of a younger woman,’ she explained. ‘I don’t think she said twenty-five-year-old. My hip flexors have stopped flexing and I’m on crutches. It’s not the worst in the world and within a few weeks, with enough rest, I should be back on my feet. The only thing is the shop…’

Mum ran her own boutique in Sandycove, the eponymously named Nell’s. She’d opened it when I was just a toddler and had weathered two recessions and a handful of downturns, but was just as successful as ever. And even when a rival boutique, Nouveau You, opened ten years ago, Nell’s was definitely the more popular.

‘Jessica can’t manage the shop on her own,’ Mum continued. ‘I’ll have to try and find someone for the four weeks. I’ll call the agency later.’

‘Oh, Mum.’ I couldn’t imagine Mum on crutches – this was the woman who had only ever been a blur when I was growing up, coming home from the shop to make dinner for her second shift and all the business admin she had to do. I used to imagine she slept standing up, like a horse. I tried to think how I could help, stuck here hundreds of miles away in London. ‘What about your Saturday girl?’

‘Cara? She’s got her Leaving Cert in a week’s time. I can’t ask her. So… it’s just a bit of a hassle, that’s all.’

I really wished I was there to look after her. Maybe I could fly in this weekend? Just for Saturday night.

‘Please don’t worry,’ said Mum. ‘It’s only four weeks on crutches, and I’ve been ordered to rest, leg up… read a few books. Watch daytime television, said the doctor.’ Mum gave another laugh. ‘He said I could take up crochet or knitting. Told me it was very popular these days. So I told him that I was only fifty-seven and the day I start knitting is the day I stop dyeing my hair.’

‘But you’ll go mad,’ I said. ‘Four weeks of daytime television. Who will look after you?’

‘I can hobble around,’ she said. ‘Enough to make cups of tea, and I can get things delivered and, anyway, I have Henry.’ She paused for emphasis. ‘He was with me in the hospital and has volunteered to help.’

Mum had never had a boyfriend that I’d known of. She’d always said she was too busy with me and the shop. ‘And Henry is…?’

‘Henry is my very good friend,’ she said. ‘We’ve become very close. He’s really looking forward to meeting you.’ She paused again for dramatic effect. ‘We’ve been seeing each other since Christmas and… well, it’s going very well indeed.’

‘That’s lovely,’ I said. ‘Tell him I’m looking forward to meeting him. Very much. Who is he, what does he do?’ I really would have to fly over to vet him… maybe Maribelle might be in a good mood today and I could leave early next Friday?

‘Henry took over the hardware shop from Mr Abrahamson. Henry’s retired from engineering and needed something to do. He’s like that, always busy. He’s been a bit of an inspiration, actually,’ she went on, ‘taking on a business when he’s never run one before. And he’s trying to grow Ireland’s largest onion.’ She laughed. ‘Not that he’s ever even grown a normal-sized one before, but he’s read a book from the library on what you need, gallons of horse manure apparently, and he wants to win a prize at the Dún Laoghaire show in September.’

If anyone deserved a bit of love Mum did and considering I would not win any awards for daughter of the year with my generally neglectful behaviour, I was happy she had someone. And surely anyone who grew outsized vegetables could only be a good person.

But I felt that longing for home, that wish to be there. Even if she had Henry and his onions, I wanted to be there too. I restarted my speed walk to the office. Being late for Maribelle was never a good start to the day.

‘So you’re sure you’re all right?’ I said, knowing that going over probably wouldn’t happen this weekend, not with the presentation I had to help Maribelle prepare for on Monday. I passed the only tree I saw on my morning commute, a large and beautiful cherry tree, it was in the middle of the square outside the station and blossomed luxuriantly in the spring and now, in late May, all the beautiful leaves which I’d seen grow from unfurled bud to acid green were in full, fresh leaf. Apart from my morning coffee, it was the only organic thing I saw all day. If that tree was still going in all that smog and fumes and indifference from the other commuters, I used to tell myself, then so could I.

‘I’m fine,’ Mum said. ‘Don’t worry… Brushing my teeth this morning took a little longer than normal, but it’s only a few weeks… I’m getting the hang of the crutches. I’ve been practising all morning. Anyway, how is Jeremy?’ She and Jeremy were yet to meet.

‘Jeremy is…’ How was Jeremy? Just the night before, Roberto had described him as a ‘wounded boy, shrouded in a Barbour jacket of privilege’. But I felt a little sorry for him, especially after meeting his family last New Year’s Eve and seeing how he was treated. I hadn’t actually seen him for a week as he’d been at a wedding the previous weekend and we’d both been busy with work. ‘Jeremy is fine,’ I said. ‘I think. Sends his love.’

Jeremy wasn’t the type to send his love, but Mum didn’t know that. ‘Well, isn’t that lovely,’ she said. ‘Say we’re all really looking forward to welcoming him to Ireland.’

I really couldn’t imagine Jeremy in his camel chinos striding around Sandycove’s main street and speaking in his rather loud, bossy, posh voice. He’d stand out like a sore thumb.

‘And you’ll have to bring that dote Roberto as well,’ said Mum. ‘He probably needs a bit of time off as well, the little pet.’

‘I don’t think we’ll get him over,’ I replied. ‘You know how he says he can’t breathe in Ireland and starts to feel light-headed as though he’s having a panic attack. He says he’s done with Ireland.’

Mum laughed, as she always did when I told her something Roberto had said. The two of them were as thick as thieves every time she came to London, walking arm in arm around Covent Garden together, Roberto showing her all his favourite shops and deciding what West End show we would go to. ‘He’s a ticket, that one. Anyway, there’s the doorbell. It’ll be Henry with some supplies. I’ll call you later.’

‘Okay…’ I had reached my building. If you dislocated your neck and looked skywards, straight up the gleaming glass, my office was up there somewhere on the seventeenth floor. I had to go in, any later and it would put Maribelle in a bad mood and that wasn’t good for anyone.

In the lift, among the jostle of the other PAs, behind some of the other equity managers who, like Maribelle, were overpaid and overindulged, we ascended to our offices where we would spend the next twelve hours.

I thought of Mum at home in Sandycove. The end of May, the most beautiful month in Ireland, and I remembered the way the sun sprinkled itself on the sea, the harbour full of walkers and swimmers all day long, people in the sea as the sun retreated for the day, or the village itself with its small, bright, colourful shops and the hanging baskets and cherry trees, and Mum’s boutique right in the middle. I wished I was there, even just for a few hours, to hug Mum, and go for a walk with Bronagh. To just be home.

The doors opened on the seventeenth floor. It was 7.45 a.m. exactly and dreams of Sandycove would have to be put on hold as I had to get on with surviving Maribelle. I hung up my coat and sat down at my desk and switched on my computer. My screen saver was a selfie of me and Bronagh, taken last summer sitting on the harbour wall at the little beach in Sandycove. Every time I looked at that picture of the sun shining, the two of us laughing, arms around each other, seagulls flying above us, the pang for home got worse. I should change it, I thought. Replace it with something that doesn’t make me homesick, something that doesn’t make me think of all the things I am missing and missing out on. I clicked on my screen and up came the standard image of a scorched red-earth mountain, as far from Sandycove as you could get.

Sian O’Gorman

Sian O’Gorman was born in Galway on the West Coast of Ireland, grew up in the lovely city of Cardiff, and has found her way back to Ireland and now lives on the east of the country, in the village of Dalkey, just along the coast from Dublin. She works as a radio producer for RTE.

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Posted in Book Review, Friendship, New Books, Parenting and Famlies, Romance

Billionaire’s Road Trip to Forever Michelle Douglas 4*#Review #MichelleDouglas @MillsandBoon @HarlequinBooks #BookReview #MillsandBoonTrueLove #HarlequinRomance #Romance #RoadTrip #Friendship #Parenting #BillionairesRoadTriptoForever

Running from a wedding…
… to a whole new future!
Bree Allenby’s first stop on her road trip across Australia is to attend the society wedding of her brother’s best friend. When Noah Fitzgerald is dramatically jilted, he needs a quick getaway—so Bree suggests he come with her! Spending her days with a billionaire is not what she was expecting… Not only is their spark of attraction completely new, but it has them both rethinking where they’re going in life!

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

A well-written friend to lover romance where Bree and newly jilted Noah go on a life-changing road trip. Bree’s original reason for the road trip leads to some poignant, thought-provoking moments. The road trip setting is a bonus with great descriptions.

Bree and Noah are likeable characters with emotional baggage, which they open and discard as the journey progresses. A sweet romance about friendship, parenting, and taking a chance on love.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Bookstagram, Childrens Books, New Books, Parenting and Famlies

A Tiger Named Lee Sinead Murphy Illustrator Shannon Cresham 4* Review @SineadMurphy7x @shannoncresham @TinyTreeBooks @lovebooksgroup @lovebookstours #BlogTour #BookReview #ChildrensBooks #KidLit #ATigerNamedLee

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

A Tiger named Lee is brightly illustrated and written in a rhyming style. It teaches young children that friends may look different from you. It also shows that everyone is scared sometimes, and that’s okay. Lee’s adventure in the jungle lets children see that being brave and stepping out of your small world can lead to a bigger, exciting world.

An engaging fantasy story about courage, fear and friendship. Child-friendly characters are brought to life with vibrant illustrations and easy to read text.

Sinéad Murphy is an Irish author, television Director, and filmmaker. ‘A Tiger named Lee’ is Sinéad’s debut picture book, published in 2021 by Tiny Tree Children’s Books. Sinéad wrote ‘A Tiger Named Lee,’ for her young daughter to show her that it’s normal to have fears and worries and that help is always there if you ask for it.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Childrens Books, Friendship, Motivational, Parenting and Famlies

The Problem With Poppy Emma Sandford 4*#Review @ESandfordAuthor Illustrator Olena Osadcha @FullMediaLtd #Review #BlogBlitz @rararesources #BookReview #Kidlit #ChildrensBooks #TheProblemWithPoppy

Poppy the porcupine has always wanted to make a friend, but her defensive nature prevents her. When a young tiger cub stumbles upon her one day in the rainforest, she reacts badly and scares him away.

Determined to change her ways, she sets out to find him, but little does she know that the tiger cub is about to have a problem of his own. In the face of danger, will Poppy find a way to save the day?

The Problem With Poppy Website Shop Full-media.co.uk

Amazon UK Amazon

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

My Thoughts…

A vibrantly illustrated children’s picture book about learning to trust, even when others have let you down. Poppy, the Porcupine is as prickly as her appearance, but with good reason. She wants to make friends but is frightened of being hurt. Her first meeting with Rory, the tiger cub, doesn’t go well. She perseveres and eventually makes a friend.

The problem of animal poaching is explored understandably, and the conclusion shows the importance of learning to trust and friendship positively. Parents and carers may need to remind their children of the dangers of traffic.

Overall this a colourfully illustrated story with good messages and likeable characters that should appeal to young children.

Emma Sandford is a Liverpool-born author and businesswoman based in Cheshire. For many years, she has wanted to write a children’s book that draws on her own experiences and helps young children overcome personal issues. One day, inspiration hit her: she realised that a porcupine has a very obvious defence mechanism where it shows its quills, stamps its feet and chatters with its teeth when feeling threatened.

Unfortunately, due to traumatic events in her life, Emma has also been defensive in situations where she didn’t need to be, and was frightened to let people get close to her. The Problem With Poppy is a fun way of teaching kids that while everybody has a natural defence mechanism, there is a time and a place to use it. By the end of the story, Poppy has learnt this valuable lesson and she makes a lifelong friend in the process.

Emma is planning on writing more books in the future that have similar important messages for youngsters. Watch this space!

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Childrens Books, Giveaway, New Books, Parenting and Famlies

Barty Barton The Bear That Was Loved Too Much. Sue Wickstead 5*Review @JayJayBus @rararesources #BlogTour #BookReview #ChildrensBooks #PictureBooks #KidLit #BartyBarton #ChildhoodMemories #Recycling #Giveaway

Sue Wickstead Website Shop Amazon UK Amazon Waterstones BarnesandNoble

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

My Thoughts…

This is a lovely story about a much loved teddy bear. It teaches children that it’s okay to keep old things if they hold special memories. It also shows how with a little care old things can be made as new. These are valuable lessons for young children delivered in an engaging story format with colourful and relatable illustrations. It will make most parents and grandparents a little sentimental about their childhood toys too.

Sue Wickstead

Sue Wickstead is a teacher and an author and writes children’s picture books with a bus theme. She has also written a photographic history book about the real bus, which is where her story writing began.

Sue once worked with a playbus charity based in Crawley. This led her to write the photographic history book about the project. The ‘Bewbush Playbus’ book was published in 2012.

Sue then began to write a fictional tale about the bus. ‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus’, his number plate JJK261 gave him his name and has now been followed by more picture books (ten to date) which all indeed have a bus connection as well as links to her teaching journey.

Gloria is the most recent bus book and is based on the summer play-schemes which operated during the school holidays providing a safe place to play and to meet other children. (published 2020)

Barty Barton; the bear that was loved too much’ was also published in 2020. Barty was written for both her son and grandson.

Some of Sue’s books have been entered and shortlisted in ‘The Wishing Shelf Book Awards’, her book ‘A Spooky Tale’ was a silver medal winner in 2019. It is a story written with her class in school and is aimed at the younger reader.

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Giveaway to Win a  Lego bear and some teddy bear colouring sheets (UK) plus a few more goodies.

Click on link to enter giveaway

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the giveaway link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Holiday Romance, Parenting and Famlies, Romance, Travel

The Summer Seekers Sarah Morgan 5*#Review @SarahMorgan_ @HQStories #BlogTour #BookReview #BeachRead #Summer #Family #Love #MothersandDaughters #RoadTrip #RomCom #HolidayFiction #Multigenerational #TheSummerSeekers #Route66

Get swept into a summer of sunshine, soul-searching, and shameless matchmaking with this delightfully big-hearted road-trip adventure!

Kathleen is eighty years old. After she has a run-in with an intruder, her daughter wants her to move in to a residential home. But she’s not having any of it. What she craves—what she needs—is adventure.

Liza is drowning under the daily stress of family life. The last thing she needs is her mother jetting off on a wild holiday, making Liza long for a solo summer of her own.

Martha is having a quarter-life crisis. Unemployed, unloved and uninspired, she just can’t get her life together. But she knows something has to change.

When Martha sees Kathleen’s advertisement for a driver and companion to share an epic road trip across America with, she decides this job might be the answer to her prayers. She’s not the world’s best driver, but anything has to be better than living with her parents. And traveling with a stranger? No problem. Anyway, how much trouble can one eighty-year-old woman be?

As these women embark on the journey of a lifetime, they all discover it’s never too late to start over.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The Summer Seekers encapsulates a Summer road trip, a marriage in trouble and three women at different life stages, all in need of emotional support. This multi-generational story is humorous, poignant and romantic as it explores friendship, marriage and mothers and daughter relationships.

Kathleen loves her rambling Cornish cottage close to the beach packed with a lifetime of memories. Liza is the lynchpin of her family, weighed down with her catastrophising and keeping her family’s life stress-free. Kathleen and Liza are emotionally estranged but still care deeply for each other. Martha, unconnected with the women, facilitates Kathleen’s latest adventure despite Liza’s misgivings and her own anxiety.

Martha and Kathleen take a road trip on Route 66. Liza reconnects with her true self in her Cornish childhood home. This is not a travelogue, but there are some good descriptions of places visited.

Gentle romance, relatable characters, and an uplifting conclusion. An addictive Summer read.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Extract, Humour, New Books, Parenting and Famlies, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Italy Ever After Leonie Mack 4*#Review @LeonieMAuthor @BoldwoodBooks #Extract #boldwoodbloggers #BlogTour @rararesources #RomCom #Romance #Summer #Family #SecondChance #Italy #holidayromance #MondayBlogs #ItalyEverAfter

Escape to the sun and head off to Italy, with the wonderfully warm and ever-so-page-turning Leonie Mack!

TV journalist Lou feels battered and bruised after her divorce from Phil, the father of her daughter Edie. Her confidence and sense of fun have steadily been drained away, and she isn’t sure who she is any more.

When the opportunity arises to accompany Edie on a music camp in Italy for a month in the summer, Lou jumps at the chance for new adventures, new horizons and new friends. The hazy warmth of the summer sun, shining brightly over the stunning Lake Garda, slowly brings Lou back to life. 

Nick Romano, Edie’s music teacher, loves being home in Italy, but coaching his students for their concert in Milan, is bringing back difficult memories. His blossoming friendship with Lou is the perfect distraction, although a summer fling would be easier to conduct without the scrutiny of his mother Greta, not to mention the interference of his extended Italian family.

As the summer passes, full of sunshine and breath-taking scenery, gelato and delicious feasts, Lou and Nick get ever closer. But as the time for farewell creeps up on them, will they be able to say goodbye and leave their memories behind in the Italian sun, or can a summer romance last a lifetime?

Leonie Mack is back with a sizzling, sun-baked love story.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

I love romance set in Italy, and as this one is set around Lake Garda, somewhere I’ve visited, I couldn’t resist it.

Just about to be divorced Lou, is still reeling from the fallout, we meet her ex in the opening chapters, and he is not likeable. Her confidence is low despite her career in front of the TV cameras, and it’s clear she is a kind and loving woman who doesn’t value herself. Her latest meeting with Mr (Nick) Romano right after her latest confrontation with the ex is unsettling for them both and makes her wonder whether helping out on the school music camp in Italy is sensible.

The chemistry sizzling between Lou and Nick gets hotter in beautiful Lake Garda, and there are lots of nearly moments that are romantic. The conflicts to their possible relationship are both internal and external, but they are good for each other, and you want them to find happiness together.

The musical setting adds authenticity to the story and is integral to Nick’s backstory. The balance of humour, poignancy and romance is good, and the ending is romantic and uplifting.

Leonie Mack

Leonie Mack is a debut novelist whose first book My Christmas Number One was published by Boldwood in September 2020. Having lived in London for many years her home is now in Germany with her husband and three children. Leonie loves train travel, medieval towns, hiking and happy endings!

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Extract from Italy Ever After – Leonie Mack

Damn him. Phil was winning this game. His look was tolerant. His eyes were warm, even vaguely fond. Lou was losing. Her jaw was clenched so hard she felt like a petulant child with braces. She smoothed her hand down her tailored skirt. Confronting him in her work clothes was supposed to remind her she could deal with him like an adult. But really, she wanted to run home and change into her sweats, as she usually did after her shift. 

‘She’s eleven, Lou. This is her last summer before secondary school. Can’t you let up a little?’ 

He was the voice of reason, too? Phil never raised his voice because he never needed to. He was the kind of man who spoke and it was done. He was attractive, too – even now at forty-four – which meant he’d never had to stay single for long. She couldn’t blame the woman who’d become his girlfriend only a few months after their separation – except that she could blame her and she would. It was the right of a nearly officially ex-wife, right? 

‘All Edie wants to do is play music. Elite tuition and orchestra rehearsals is her idea of paradise. I’m not forcing her to do anything.’ 

His lips twitched. ‘And a few weeks in the Italian sunshine is your idea of a nice free holiday?’ 

Strike one. She would have been satisfied to hear him behaving like the juvenile ex-husband, except that he was an expert at pressing her overdeveloped sense of her own inadequacy button. 

‘It’s not a holiday for me. I’m going as a chaperone and I have to pay my own way. The only reason I’ve volunteered is because Edie is one of the youngest kids going. Most of the parents are looking forward to the three weeks of childcare before the competition’ 

‘You can always send her to us. You know that. You don’t have to martyr yourself.’ 

Lou choked on his sympathy, wishing he would do the same. She took a deep breath. She should have accepted by now that Phil’s wiring where she was concerned would never change. 

‘Can we get back to the point? Edie wants to go and it’s a unique opportunity. This youth music festival only happens every four years. She’ll get to play in an orchestra under a professional conductor and participate in a competition.’ 

Phil held up a hand. ‘I did read the information you emailed me. But I fail to see why our eleven-year-old has to participate in a very expensive competition. You’ve already forced my hand with the school choice. I’d say you’re pretty low on credit with me at the moment.’ 

Lou recoiled. She needed ‘credit’ to get Phil to consider her opinion about their daughter? How was an ex-wife supposed to earn credit? Not only was she forced to serenely ignore the practical difficulties of having day-to-day responsibility for their daughter alone, but Phil still required her to manage him to make sure they did their best by Edie. Good God, it was miserable. 

Phil looked at her with his unflappably perfect haircut and warm eyes with their distinguished crinkles that on her would be called crow’s feet. It was clear why she’d thrown herself at him twelve years ago when she’d been a young and stupid graduate with too little understanding of the world’s faults – and far too little contraception. What was less clear was how she was supposed to deal with him now. 

‘You know how much she loves playing the violin.’ 

‘I know, she does little else.’ 

Edie practised especially diligently at Phil’s because it meant less time with the obsequious girlfriend. 

‘I’m still not sure I want to encourage her obsession.’ 

‘Then you’ll be happy to know the camp takes that into account. Although they rehearse every day, there’s also time dedicated to outdoor activities and confidence-building. I think we can both agree that it would be good for Edie to have some confidence outside her musical talent.’ 

The faintest glint in his eye was the only clue that he was feeling the pressure. But Phil never backed off. Instead, he calmly went on the offensive. ‘So, you plan to make Edie do a high ropes course while you sit in the sun at Sirmione sipping an Aperol Spritz?’ 

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, New Books, Noir, Parenting and Famlies, Psychological Suspense, Suspense

The House Guest Charlotte Northedge 4*#Review @charnorth @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK #TheHouseGuest #psychsuspense #relationships #publicationday

The perfect family. The perfect chance. The perfect lie.

A stunning novel about motherhood and betrayal

When Kate moves to London after the disappearance of her sister, she’s in need of a friend. A chance meeting leads Kate to Della, a life coach who runs support groups for young women, dubbed by Kate as ‘the Janes.’

Della takes a special interest in Kate, and Kate soon finds herself entangled in Della’s life – her house, her family, and her husband. It’s only when she realises that she’s in too deep that Della’s veneer begins to crumble, and the warnings from ‘the Janes’ begin to come true.

Why is Della so keen to keep Kate by her side? What does Kate have that Della might want? And what really lies beneath the surface of their friendship?

Kate trusts Della, and Della trusts Kate.
Their downfall is each other.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Relatable characters and a well thought out plot make this psychological suspense an absorbing, chilling and sometimes poignant story.

Kate’s sister left home when she was ten, and she never saw her again. She spent her subsequent years making up for her sister’s disappearance whilst never recovering emotionally from her loss. As an adult, Kate is in London pursuing a lead about her missing sister. She is vulnerable when she meets life coach Della, who draws her into her life like a spider capturing prey into their web.

The story takes many unexpected twists seen from Kate’s viewpoints but remains believable because of unreliable protagonist Kate’s sense of abandonment and susceptibility to manipulation. Themes of societal expectation of women, social class, family relationships, obsession and loss are recurrent. As the story progresses, the noir elements dominate, making it both addictive and disturbing to read.

The ending is impactful and offers hope and a sense of closure for both Kate and Della.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Murder Mystery, New Books, Parenting and Famlies, Romance

Dial A For Aunties Jesse Sutanto 4*#Review @thewritinghippo @HQStories #BlogTour #BookReview #humour #romance #family #drama #PublicationDay #DialAForAunties #Women

When Meddy Chan accidentally kills her blind date, she turns to her aunties for help. Their meddling set her up on the date so they kind of owe her.

Although hiding this goddamn dead body is going to be harder than they thought, especially when her family’s wedding business has THE biggest wedding of the year happening right now.

 It turns out the wedding venue just happens to be managed by Meddy’s ex, aka the one who got away. It’s the worst time to see him again, or…is it? Can Meddy finally find love and make her overbearing family happy?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This story is a multigenerational delight, full of humorous incidents and vibrant characters. It has a little of everything culture, drama, fun, murder mystery and romance. The family curse means Meddy feels she can’t leave her mother and aunties, as their husbands and sons have, but this has consequences for Meddy, which become clear as the story progresses.

This story is a journey of self-realisation for Meddy, who has changed the course of life for her female relatives. It also explores the concept of family and the willingness to do anything for a loved one. The visual writing style makes the comic and dramatic events easy to visualise and therefore more engaging. The dialogue is key to the enjoyment in a novel that is the perfect escape.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, New Adult Romance, Parenting and Famlies, Romance

Homecoming Luan Golding 4*#Review @HQStories @LuanGoldie #FamilyDrama #LiteraryFiction #Friendship #Relationships #Love #BookReview #Homecoming

For years Yvonne has tried to keep her demons buried and focus on moving forward. But her guilt is always with her and weighs heavily on her heart.

Kiama has had to grow up without a mother, and while there is so much he remembers about her, there is still plenty he doesn’t know. And there’s only one person who can fill in the gaps.

Lewis wants nothing more than to keep Kiama, his son, safe, but the thought of Kiama dredging up the past worries Lewis deeply. And Lewis doesn’t know if he’s ready to let the only woman he’s ever loved back into his life.

When Kiama seeks Yvonne out and asks her to come with him to Kenya, the place that holds the answers to his questions, she knows she can’t refuse. And this one act sets in motion an unravelling of the past that no one is ready for.

Moving between London and Kenya, and spanning almost two decades, Homecoming is a profound story of love, family and friendship. It’s about coming to terms with your past, and about what happens when we finally share our truths.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is a poignant story about culture, family, friendships and love. Yvonne and Emma became friends at university, their cultures and family lives differed, but their friendship was strong until Lewis. There is a love triangle at the centre of this story, but only two people are aware they are in it. Yvonne’s life, marred by her guilt over Emma and her loss of the two people she loved most in life, agrees to a journey to Kenya with Kiama Emma’s son.

The story moves between the early days of their friendship to the present day. A tragic event alters everyone’s lives. Believable characters, relatable relationships and well-described setting make this an absorbing read. Parenting, culture, race and social class underpin the narrative in a way that resonates. There are many poignant moments in this story, but ultimately it is positive and uplifting.

Read my review of Nightingale Point