Posted in Book Review, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Passport to Happiness – Carrie Stone 4*#Review @CarrieStoneUK @0neMoreChapter_ #RomCom #Travel #Self-Realisation #Romance #Bermuda #Bali #NewBeginnings #BookReview #SummerRead #PassporttoHappiness

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An inspiring and escapist read – Eat, Pray, Love meets Bridget Jones!

 Will the trip of her dreams…

Everly Carter is bored.

With her job, with her single status and with the never-ending line of rubbish men on Tinder.  Tired of going through the motions of seeming happy, Everly wants to be happy!
 
So, in a spontaneous moment of bravery (perhaps spurred on by a few cocktails) Everly books a holiday.  Time away, alone, to find out what she really wants from life.

Become the journey of her lifetime?

Everly’s search for happiness takes her to picturesque Swiss villages and the sunsets of glamourous Bermuda.  But with every new stamp in her passport, Everly still feels as though something is missing…

Could it be that true happiness is hard to find until she finds herself?

Amazon UK 

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

My Thoughts…

Everly isn’t happy, she’s a teacher, and she’s good at it, but after her boyfriend’s betrayal, there has to be more to life right? A spur of the moment holiday shows how unfulfilled she is, and then a friend from her past suggests an experience of the lifetime in Bermuda.

Despite the beauty of her destination, and the island’s intrinsic interest, she finds out that her friend only wants to party, which is not what she seeks. Volunteering gets Everly closer to the real Bermuda, and she likes it, but her journey isn’t done.

Heading home, a series of incidents change her mind, and she instead takes a flight to Bali, where her journey of self-realisation takes off.

This is an enjoyable book, with lovely locations, full of vivid imagery, complex characters, who mirror Everly’s progress on her journey of personal discovery, and lots of romance. Easy to read, with a lovely main protagonist, this the perfect holiday escape novel.

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Carrie was born and raised in London, but her love for travel and adventure has seen her spend the last fourteen years living and working internationally. She is currently based in Spain alongside her husband, young daughter and adopted Indonesian dog, Bali. 

Carrie is a traditionally published author with Harper Impulse, as well as an independently published author. When not writing, she works as a Psychic Medium & Spiritual Coach (www.carriebattley.com). To find out more about her, connect on Facebook (Carrie Stone) or Twitter @CarrieStoneUK

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Posted in Book Review, Historical Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery, Mystery

Death Comes to Dartmoor – Vivian Conroy 4* #Review @crookedlanebks @VivWrites #VictorianMystery #MurderMystery #HistoricalCrimeFiction #AMerriweatherandRoystonMystery #Dartmoor

The mist-shrouded moors of Devon proffer a trove of delights for two vacationing zoologists—but also conceal a hoard of dark secrets reaching down to the fathomless depths of the ocean.

Miss Merula Merriweather barely saved her uncle from the gallows after he was wrongly accused of murder—and now, she’s left the bustle of Victorian London to recuperate in the fresh air of Dartmoor with her fellow zoologist, Lord Raven Royston. The trip offers a unique treat, as they’ll be staying with a friend of Raven’s, who owns a collection of rare zoological specimens—including a Kraken, a sea monster of myth and legend.

But all is not right in the land of tors, heaths, and mist. Their host’s maid has vanished without a trace, and the townspeople hold him responsible, claiming that his specimens are alive and roam the moors at night, bringing death to anyone who crosses their path. Merula and Raven are sceptical—but the accusations become more ominous when they find several specimen jars empty.

As the two, hunt for clues across a desolate and beautiful landscape, a stranger appears bearing a shadowy secret from Merula’s past. Could there be a connection between her family history, the missing girl, and a fearsome monster that could be on the loose? The race is on to find the truth.

Amazon UK

Waterstones

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

My Thoughts...

This is my first’ Merriweather and Royston mystery’. This is a standalone mystery, and there is sufficient backstory to place the characters, and their relationship in this story, but if you can, read book one first.

The Dartmoor setting of this novel plays on the Victorian belief that strange, dangerous creatures roam the moor in the darkness. This is not the Dartmoor I know, but it is well documented in Victorian literature like ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’.

This story contains all the essential elements of a Victorian murder mystery. Enigmatic, intelligent, but flawed detectives, with a degree of emotional damage. A community steeped in folklore and tradition, and a dislike of outsiders or anyone who is different from them. An undercurrent of criminal activity, and gruesome murder, possibly due to supernatural causes.

The mystery that unfolds in this story has all of the above. There is much we do not know about our detectives, but they are complex individuals. Victorian pioneers, a little before their time, especially Merriweather. The mystery is well constructed and embellished with Victorian beliefs and themes, that make solving it difficult.

The writing style and time period, will not suit everyone, but it is faithfully represented, and worth reading, to see if it is for you.

Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Travel

Villa of Sun and Secrets Jennifer Bohnet 5* #Review @jenniewriter @BoldwoodBooks #boldwoodblogtour #multigenerational #familydrama #AuthorInterview #SouthofFrance #VillaofSunandSecrets

It’s never too late to live the dream…

Carla Sullivan’s 50th birthday is fast approaching when her whole world is turned upside down. Discovering her feckless husband is having yet another affair and following her mother’s death, she is in need of an escape. Finding an envelope addressed to her mother’s estranged sister Josette in the South of France gives Carla the perfect plan.

Seizing the moment, she packs her bags and heads to Antibes to seek out the enigma known as Tante Josette. But as the two women begin to forge a tentative relationship, family secrets start to unravel, forcing Carla to question her life as she has always known it.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The author’s knowledge and love of France come through clearly in this story. The setting is vivid, beautiful, and sometimes in sharp contrast to the revelations at the villa.

This is a multi-generational story, a family drama, which unfolds in Tante Josette’s villa in Antibes. Carla’s life has not been easy, an unfaithful husband, looking after her sick mother, and now an empty nest, something needs to change. Finding something in her mother’s possessions gives her the opportunity of a break from her life and uncharacteristically she takes it.

This is a story of love, lies and secrets, new relationships and forgiveness. The chance to see an ending as a new beginning. The issues explored are emotionally draining, but the outcome is hopeful and makes the angst worthwhile.

The characters are flawed, sometimes they lack the courage to take the first step to something better, but they are easy to empathise and believable. The setting is a lovely contrast to the drama and emotions and the story’s ending is heartwarming.

I

Author Interview – Jennifer Bohnet – Villa of Sun and Secrets

What are the inspirations behind your story?

Villa of Sun and Secrets was inspired by the french word for memories – souvenir. Everyone has memories, some good, some bad, some unforgettable and some pushed into the deepest recess of the mind until something, somehow, draws them to the front. Some souvenirs are shared with other people, others are private to the individual and yet sometimes when other people’s private memories begin to be shared it can affect everything you’ve ever known.

What made you choose France for your setting?

I’ve lived in France for twenty years now – for a lot of the time down on the Cote d’Azur, which is a place I realised people love reading about. I’m probably more familiar with the way things are over here than I am with life in the UK these days.

Your story focuses on older women, do you find older or younger women easier to write? Why is this?

A character is a character and you have to get to know them whatever age they are and sometimes they are easier to understand and write than others. But basically, I have to admit I prefer writing about characters who have had some life experience.

When you write what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why is this?

It’s usually the setting for me – swiftly followed by the characters I place there, then they help me to work out the storyline and the plot.

Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?

It’s a mixture of both but probably 85% imagination. And I really don’t know the answer to the last part of the question although I do try and ensure that they have flaws which hopefully makes them realistic in the reader’s eyes.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

There are so many authors out there I enjoy reading, but there are a few whose new books I look forward to and buy without hesitation. Veronica Henry, Erica James, Marcia Willett, Jill Mansell are four writers I admire hugely. They draw you in from the first page, their characters are superbly drawn and their stories just flow.

When did you start writing? What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?

It feels as though I’ve never, not written to be honest, but it was coming to France that really gave me the time and the space to start writing short stories, serials and finally novels. Before that, I wrote features and lifestyle pieces for various papers. I love finally being able to write full-time. The worst?  Social media to be honest – so much promo has to be done and it takes away from writing time.

 
What are you currently writing?

My next book which is again set in France, tells the story of 4 women, strangers to each other, on holiday on the Riviera, is currently with my editor and I’m awaiting edits. In the meantime, I’m starting to re-edit my backlist which Boldwood Books will be re-issuing soon.

Jennifer’s bio – Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 10 women’s fiction titles, including Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera and The Little Kiosk By The Sea. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

The Perfect Wife J P Delaney 4* #Review @QuercusBooks @QuercusFiction #JPDelaney #ThePerfectWife #PsychologicalThriller #FamilyDrama #ScFi #Mystery #Suspense #MondayBlogs

“There’s something I have to explain, my love,” he says, taking your hand in his. “That wasn’t a dream. It was an upload.”

Abbie wakes in a hospital bed with no memory of how she got there. The man by her side explains that he’s her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative startups. He tells Abbie she’s a gifted artist, a doting mother to their young son, and the perfect wife.

Five years ago, she suffered a terrible accident. Her return from the abyss is a miracle of science, a breakthrough in artificial intelligence that has taken him half a decade to achieve.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives – and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to her, half a decade ago?

Amazon UK

Waterstones

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

My Thoughts…

Even if you don’t look at the book cover, you can always tell when you’re reading this author’s novels, by the original ideas it contains, the creepy, menacing undertone, and the importance of technology to the story. The only negative is that the ending doesn’t necessarily reflect, the careful suspense building of the previous chapters.

‘The Perfect Wife’, is a true mix of genres. A psychological thriller, set in a science-fiction world, with mystery, suspense and family drama. The story is told from different points of view and draws you in from its traumatic beginning. 

The protagonists are unreliable, and many of the characters are hard to empathise, but this doesn’t matter. As the story unravels and the disclosures from the past, illuminate the present, you keep reading because you have to know what happens next.

Even though most of the characters lack redeeming features, they are realistic, despite, the setting and ethos of the story being hard to believe. Whilst, I don’t like everything about this story, it is compelling reading.

Breathtaking, disturbing and original, this is a reading experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Romance

An Elegant Solution Anne Atkins 4* #Review @anne_atkins @malcolmdown #Mystery #crime #friendship #romance #autism #BlogTour #BookReview #LoveBooksTours #LiteraryFiction @LoveBooksGroup #MondayBlogs #Cambridge

#LoveBooksTours – An Elegant Solution – Anne Atkins

When someone mentions the City of Cambridge you probably think of an iconic building, its four corners stretching out of the once medieval mud and into the arms of everlasting heaven, its white limestone yearning into eternity… and without even knowing exactly what ephemeral joys or permanent wonders the vision brings to mind, it’s a safe bet that the one thought which does not occur to you is that the Chapel might not be there by Christmas.

Theo (Theophilus Ambrose Fitzwilliam Wedderburn to his friends) is a Junior Research Fellow in Number Theory. Prompted by a supervisee to demonstrate how to trace the provenance of bitcoins, Theo happens across a shocking revelation, with embarrassing ramifications for the whole University. Meanwhile, he is being stalked unseen by someone from his childhood. To his annoyance, Theo falls for a cheap con… and discovers a horror set not only to rock the very seat of power itself but to change the face of Cambridge and its beautifully iconic image forever.

Amazon UK

Waterstones

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

My Thoughts…

This book is on one level, like its title, elegant, the setting in Cambridge draws you into the iconic place, where, in some ways, nothing has changed. The criminal threat and technological mystery, impose the contemporary world on the academic establishment, causing ripples and threatening the people and ancient buildings.

The characters are what makes this story stand out. I did find it difficult to get into initially, but Theo and Charlotte have an intriguing relationship, that faces both internal and external conflict. Theo’s character is significant and gives an honest portrayal of autism and how it affects the individual’s perception of the world, and those around him.

The detailed theory will not be for everyone, but even if that is not for you, there is still a lovely character-driven drama to enjoy.

Anne Atkins

Anne Atkins is a well-known English broadcaster and journalist, and a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day. She took an involuntary, and long, break from writing fiction when her son was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, their daughter repeatedly hospitalized with a severe illness, and finally, the family was made homeless. Thankfully those dark days are now behind her and she and her husband Shaun along with some of her children now live happily in Bedford, England.

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Posted in Book Review, Domestic Thriller, Family Drama, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

The Family Upstairs Lisa Jewell 4* #Review @arrowpublishing @lisajewelluk @PenguinUKBooks #CornerstoneDigital #Century #FamilyDrama #DomesticThriller #Noir #Psychological #Suspense

In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.

In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.

They’ve been dead for several days.

Who has been looking after the baby?

And where did they go?

Two entangled families.
A house with the darkest of secrets.

Amazon UK

Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House- Cornerstone- Century via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Complex, damaged characters, a terrible tragedy, an innocent survivor, and a house full of secrets. Told from three points of view, the dark and suspenseful family drama is painstakingly revealed, through the eyes of the people who were there.

The relentless plot conceals as much as it reveals, evil is an undercurrent of this story, but it’s also about weakness, survival and emotional damage.

The contemporary, urban setting gives the plot its authenticity. In the current culture of child abuse scandals, the terrible events explored, and their outcome, seem credible and are all the more chilling because of this.

The story has a transparency that I didn’t expect. You can unpick what happened through the three narratives, and I did manage to unravel most of it, but you are never sure if the protagonists are reliable. They are emotionally damaged children, victims of abusive treatment.

The characters are well written, you do empathise with them, and dislike those who should have been taking care of them.

‘The Family Upstairs’ is a noir family drama, with a realistic contemporary setting and layers of suspense and emotional angst, that make you believe that it could really happen, in a world where no one looks too deeply into the inhabitants and events of the house next door.

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

The Time of Our Lives Abby Williams 4* #Review @fionajourno @Aria_Fiction @HoZ-Books #MultiGenerational #Friendship#SecondChances #NewBeginnings #BlogTour #GuestPost

Two women from two very different generations are brought together through dramatic circumstances and help each other to forge new paths.

Twenty-six-year-old Erin has everything she’s ever wanted – a good job, a gorgeous fiancé and a best friend who’s always there for her. But suddenly her life comes crashing down around her. Unable to return home to her parents, she takes a room in a house nearby and her life starts over in the most unexpected of ways…

Seventy-six-year old Lydia, who, shocked by the sudden death of her husband, is devastated to discover that he has left her in crippling debt. With no choice but to take in a lodger, Erin comes into her life. When they find a letter hidden in the attic old secrets come to light and, with Erin by her side, Lydia finds herself going on a trip of a lifetime.

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

My Thoughts…

A delightful multi-generational story of love, loss, friendship and new beginnings.

Erin’s life implodes, when she is betrayed by those she loves, she needs to escape, to rebuild her life. Lydia still in shock from her sudden bereavement, finds that loss isn’t the only emotion she has to contend with. Her financial security is compromised, and taking in lodger seems the only way to make ends meet. The unlikely pair, find that material security isn’t the only benefit of living together, and they forge a friendship that opens up a new lease of life for both.

A chance discovery, reveals more family secrets, and a chance to experience something special for both women.

This is a story full of emotion and poignancy, but there are plenty of humorous moments too. Lydia is a witty woman, and Erin soon realises that age is no barrier to a true friend.

A lighthearted, emotional read, with characters who you can empathise and a heartwarming ethos.

#TheTimeofOurLives
Naked Saunas – The Inspiration behind The Time Of Our Lives– Abby Williams

I’ve always enjoyed running. Not only is it a great stress reliever, it’s great for allowing you to eat lots of cake, and also great for me, as I usually find all my best novel ideas come to me when I’m pounding the pavement.

The idea for The Time Of Our Lives was no different. One summer’s evening, I was out with my running club, when Nella, my lovely Finnish friend started telling us all about the naked saunas she and her fellow Finns all enjoyed back home! Cue much hilarity amongst us British girls who were positively squeamish at the thought of showing off our bits and pieces to all and sundry. Not so for Nella. She said she thought it was a good thing – young and old came together to enjoy simple pleasures. Inhibitions and modesty were left at the door she said, and real, lasting connections were formed, regardless of age.

She was right. It was us Brits that were repressed. After that conversation, I couldn’t get the idea of these generations coming together and although I didn’t really want to write about naked saunas, (Sorry Nella, it was a step too far), what did strike a chord was the idea of age being no barrier to friendship. It was then I knew that what I wanted to write about next was the power of friendship.

And so I found millennial Erin and almost-octogenarian, Lydia. Two women who come to need each other more than they can ever realise after their lives implode in very unexpected ways.

The moment I hit upon the idea I found I couldn’t wait to spend time with my characters. Lydia and Erin became as real to me as any of my friends and family, and I found their friendship as charming and inviting as any relationship I’ve experienced in real life. It was funny because even though I never wrote about naked saunas the image Nella created for me that day was so strong, I only had to shut my eyes and I could see young and old coming together, laughing, sharing, joking and confiding about all manner of things to bond Lydia and Erin.

And so no, there are no naked saunas in this book, but there’s still lots of running for me. The last time I ran with the girls we started talking about the best places to go to the loo on a long run…someone mentioned the bushes and Paula Radcliffe. Safe to say, that hasn’t inspired anything in me quite yet.

Fiona Ford – Abby Williams

Abby Williams is the pseudonym for Fiona Ford, writer of romantic up-lit and historical fiction. Fiona started out as a freelance journalist for titles such as Grazia, Sunday Mirror and Stylist before realising her passion lay in novels. Now she spends her days immersed in made-up worlds and reckons she has the very best job in the world. When she’s not writing, Fiona is a gym nut, but only so it means she can eat lots of cake and drink lots of wine – not necessarily in that order. She lives in Berkshire with her husband and two cats who she sometimes thinks she might love just a little bit more than all the humans she knows. The Time of Our Lives is her first romantic novel and she is now busy scribbling away her second.

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