Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Family Drama, Guest post, Murder Mystery, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

The Scorched Earth Rachael Blok 4* #Review #GuestPost @MsRachaelBlok @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction #CrimeFiction #Suspense #PsychologicalThriller #PoliceProcedural #DCIJansen #BlogTour

#TheScorchedEarth

Who really killed Leo Fenton?

Two years ago, Ben Fenton went camping with his brother Leo. It was the last time they ever saw each other. By the end of that fateful trip, Leo had disappeared, and Ben had been arrested for his murder.

Ben’s wife Ana has always protested his innocence. Now, on the hottest day of 2018’s sweltering heatwave, she receives a phone call from the police. Leo’s body has been found, in a freshly dug grave in her own local churchyard. How did it get there? Who really killed him?

St Albans police, led by DCI Jansen, are soon unpicking a web of lies that shimmers beneath the surface of Ana’s well-kept village. But as tensions mount, and the tight-knit community begins to unravel, Ana realises that if she wants to absolve her husband, she must unearth the truth alone.

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

My Thoughts…

The second book featuring Dutch detective DCI Jansen, who finds himself mystified by the close-knit English village community. It seems no one believes in plain-speaking, preferring closing ranks, and relying on innuendos.

The story is a sad one. Two brothers take a camping trip two years earlier. One is presumed dead, the other convicted of murder, but is it that simple. Ana, the accused brother’s partner. believes not. She has no chance of proving this until the missing brother’s body is found buried in the village. Now, his brother can’t be the murderer. DCI Jansen has to find the real killer, but although gossip is rife in the village, there is nothing of substance, and everyone is keeping secrets.

DCI Jansen suffers a personal tragedy, which he has to conquer, to stop his emotional state having a detrimental effect on the case. Ana wants to help her partner but doesn’t want to reveal what she knows. She feels threatened, and the suspense and menacing ethos surrounding her are well-written.

There is a strong psychological element to this story, particularly from Ana’s perspective, as events from her past invade her present situation. Events are revealed, from Leo’s point of view, in the past, and Ana, Ben and DCI Jansen’s points of view, in the present. The two timelines create dramatic irony, the reader knowing things the characters don’t at that time.

Scene setting and character dynamics form the first part of the book, this slows the pace, but the short chapters and active voice, keep the story moving satisfactorily, ensuring reader engagement. There are several viable suspects, and even though you may guess who did it, early on in the story, there are plenty of smoke and mirrors. to make you doubt it.

Clever twists and a final reveal, make this a good story, with its solid police procedural theme tempered with psychological suspense.

#RachelBlok

Rachael Blok grew up in Durham and studied Literature at Warwick University. She taught English at a London Comprehensive and is now a full-time writer living in Hertfordshire with her husband and children.

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Guest Post- Rachael Blok – ‘The Scorched Earth’, and Ana: where she came from.

The Scorched Earth has a number of different voices, but my protagonist is Ana, a woman struggling with grief as her partner is in jail, and then ghosts from her past emerge: she begins to hear footsteps behind her in a car park late and night; she begins to look over her shoulder…  Ana’s experiences are both ideas I’ve wanted to write about for a while. It was a pleasure to see her come to life on paper.

Women are told to shout ‘fire’ instead of ‘rape’ if they’re being attacked…

As a woman, I’ve felt on more than one occasion a burst of fear walking home in the dark, or walking into a car park late a night. My mum, my sister and I all took a self-defence course years ago, and we were told to shout ‘fire’ instead of ‘rape’ if we’re attacked – people respond more if their property is threatened! I have no answer for this, but I find it terrifying. This fear resonates in the novel and I think, it’s fear men and women should both be aware of. I always tell my husband that if he’s walking behind a woman on her own, late at night, he should drop back – make sure she doesn’t have to look over her shoulder or be concerned about a threat. And the very real issue of stalking is taken more seriously now than it has been in the past, but there is still some way to go. When relationships break down and men find it hard to let women go, it can be a very scary time, and women find it difficult to get concerns taken seriously, often until after an attack.

They locked him up, but they locked her up, too…

Whilst researching the novel, I spent some time in prison, which is not at all like I imagined! My main experience had been from movies and the TV. I found the reality much scarier. I saw homemade weapons; I heard stories of attacks on officers and other prisoners; I spoke to many different people from all aspects of prison life, and it was such an eye-opener. I think as a society we lock people away in all respects – there’s a sense of being forgotten, completely. Women whose partners are in jail spoke of the shame, and also the halted grief – they miss their partners, but can’t grieve for them, they can’t move on. This grief is something Ana wrestles with, and I hope I’ve done it justice.

The prison scenes almost wrote themselves after I’d visited. Even the smell is distinct. My prison officer guides me into the contraband room, where they keep the confiscated drugs. Spice is the drug they have the most problems with at the moment, which is synthetic cannabis. It’s smuggled into the prisons in all sorts of ways. One of the ways is through books and magazines. The pages are soaked in the spice, and so prisons have to scan all books now. So many ideas for plots!

It’s been a pleasure to write the guest blog and thanks to Jane Hunt for giving me the opportunity to mull over the ideas for the novel. I hope you enjoy The Scorched Earth!

Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Festive Read, Friendship, Parenting and Famlies

One Day In Winter Shari Low 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books @sharilow #festive #relationships #serendipity #marriage #parents #children #secrets #lies #Paperback

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

My Thoughts…

I love stories that have an element of serendipity, and this story of four people, seemingly unconnected, is an engaging read. It follows Caro, Cammy, Lila and Bernadette through 24 hours just before Christmas. Some of the characters feature in other books, so if you are a fan of this author, like me, you may recognise them.

The day is divided into time slots, and each of the four main protagonists has a chapter within. As the story progresses, the reader realises they are connected, and eventually so do they. All of the main characters are complex and realistic. Some have more flaws than others, but they are all relatable, and most are easy to empathise.

The plot is cleverly written, it all fits together and the coincidences are realistic. Coupled with the beautifully written characters, the emotion and poignancy of the story make this is a page-turner that you won’t easily, put down.

The ending is satisfying, it fits, and everyone gets the outcome they deserve.

Guest Post – Christmas Blog Shari Low – One Day In Winter

Confession time! I’m one of those people who has a Countdown To Christmas clock and I check it regularly. Please don’t judge me. I know that I’m supposed to harrumph in disapproval at the frivolity and commercialisation of the festive season, but the truth is I love every flashing-elf-hat, neon-reindeer-on-my-roof, pass-me-a-red-hankie-because-I’m-going-to-watch-It’s-A-Wonderful-Life moment of it.

I embrace the tat and naffness of the season because I absolutely believe that there is no day that isn’t made better by a Santa snow globe.

On the first of December, I break out my favourite Christmas sweatshirt – the one that announces in large letters that I’m a Gangsta Wrapper.

I know the names of all the reindeers: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph, Argos, Visa and Mastercard.

And now that my two little yuletide thespians have flown the nest (one who delivered a memorable performance as the third sheep from the left, and the other who had a starring role as that well known Biblical character, Humph the Camel), the younger members of my extended family know that I’m a shoo-in for a ticket and some enthusiastic audience participation if they invite me to their nativity play.

But my very favourite pastime during the season of goodwill? Deck the halls with big blooming piles of Christmas novels.

When I decided to write my first December-time book, One Day In Winter, I knew that I wanted to write stories that came together like a big pile of surprises under a tree. 

The novel follows four characters over the course of a 24 hour period on the Friday before Christmas. Caro sets off on a quest to find out if her relationship with her father has been based on a lifetime of lies. Lila decides to tell her lover’s wife of their secret affair. Cammy is on the way to pick up the ring for a proposal to the woman he loves. And Bernadette vows to walk away from her controlling husband of 30 years. As the hours’ pass, their lives intertwine and connections are revealed, with lots of shocks, twists and dramas along the way.

When it first came out in ebook, One Day In Winter was a number one bestseller, so I’m thrilled that it’s now being released in a glossy, shiny, gorgeous paperback.

I hope readers will love it because it makes them laugh, cry and captivates them from beginning to end.

And the extra little gift that the book delivers?

After the last page is turned, it makes the perfect stand for that Santa snow globe.

One Day In Winter is published by Aria in ebook and paperback.

Extract From One Day In Winter – Shari Low

When Gran and Granda passed away, their house had been left jointly to Mum and her sister, Auntie Pearl. When Auntie Pearl married and moved out, they’d worked out a rental agreement and Mum had stayed behind, living on her own until she’d met Jack Anderson at college, got pregnant, married him and he’d carried her over the threshold into the home she’d already lived in for twenty-two years.

Not that Caro could ever remember him being there full-time. He probably was for the first few years, but then he’d capitalised on the oil boom, and ever since then he’d been gone more than he’d been home. Some months he’d be home for a few days, sometimes two weeks, rarely more. She’d never felt neglected or that she was losing out in any way. It was what she’d always been used to and, as Mum always said, just one of the sacrifices they had to make because Dad had a Very Important Job.

The payback for the sacrifice? A couple of years ago, just as her parents should have been starting to contemplate cruises and bucket lists for their early retirement, Jack Anderson had walked out of the door to go to his Very Important Job and he’d never come back.

Caro felt the familiar inner rage start to build now and she squashed it back down. He’d left them a week before her thirtieth birthday, so she was old enough to process her parents splitting up by some mutual consent. Yet she couldn’t. Because it wasn’t mutual and he’d bolted when her mother had needed him most, walked out to a new life and he hadn’t looked back.

For a long time, Caro didn’t understand why.

Only now, did she realise that on the Importance scale, the job was up there with his Very Important Secret.

Maybe.

She still didn’t believe it to be true.

She must be wrong.

Mistaken identity.

Surely?

Yet, here she was, sitting on a train, on a cold December morning, on her way to Glasgow.

She pulled her iPad out of her satchel, logged on to the train’s Wi-Fi, then flicked on to the Facebook page she’d looked at a thousand times in the last few weeks.

It was one of those coincidental flukes that had taken her to it in the first place.

It had been late at night, and she’d been sitting beside her mum’s bed in the hospital, feeling like she’d been battered by the storm that was raging outside. She shouldn’t even have been there because it was outside of visiting time, but the nurses overlooked her presence because her mum was in a private room at the end of a corridor, and they made exceptions when it came to patients at this stage in their lives. Yvonne’s eyes were closed, her body still, but Caro wanted to stay, whether Yvonne knew she was there or not. It was the first night of the October school holiday, so she didn’t have to get up early to be the responsible Miss Anderson for a class of eleven-year-olds the next morning.

Instead, she could just be Caro, sitting there passing the time catching up with Facebook. She only dipped in and out of it every few weeks, caught up with a Carpool Karaoke, the launch of a new book, or maybe a movie trailer.

A promotional link appeared for the new Simple Minds tour, twenty dates around the country, yet another band riding the nostalgic affection for the eighties and nineties.

Before she could stop it, the opening bars of Jim Kerr’s voice belting out ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ flooded her head and she felt the bite of a sharp-toothed memory. Her dad had been a big fan, their music playing alongside Oasis and Blur on his CD player when he was home or in the car on the few mornings he was around to take her to school, and that had been his favourite song.

The irony in the title didn’t escape her. Don’t You Forget About Me. If only she could forget he ever existed, then she wouldn’t have to deal with the soul-sucking fury that he wasn’t here.

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Shari Low is the No1 best-selling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In Winter, A Life Without You, The Story Of Our Life, With Or Without You, Another Day In Winter and her latest release, This Is Me

And because she likes to over-share toe-curling moments and hapless disasters, she is also the shameless mother behind a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. 
Once upon a time she met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband, a labradoodle, and two teenagers who think she’s fairly embarrassing except when they need a lift.

Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Romance, Suspense, Travel

Cold Horizon Kristy McCaffrey 5* #Review #ThePathwaySeries @McCaffreyKristy #BookReview #Climbers #Adventure #mountaineering #Romance #Suspense #K2 #Blog Tour #ColdHorizon @LoveBooksGroup #Environment #GuestPost #Travel #LoveBooksTours #DeepBlue

Ambition and courage at the top of the world …

Lindsey Coulson likes to scale mountains. With her sister, Alison, she has made a name for herself climbing the tallest and most treacherous peaks in the world. But when Alison dies on a K2 expedition—the second-highest mountain on earth—Lindsey stops climbing. Unable to shed her grief, it becomes clear she must return to the wilderness and only one place will do—K2, the Savage Mountain.

Tyler Galloway has finally secured a permit from the Pakistani government to bring an American team to K2. When Lindsey Coulson inquires about joining the expedition, he gladly brings the famed mountaineer on board. Her strong climbing resume precedes her, and she’ll be a welcome addition to the small crew he has assembled. But K2 is a force unto itself, as is Lindsey. Both will test his limits. And both will test his heart.

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

My Thoughts…

After reading ‘Deep Blue’ the first book in the Pathway series, I looked forward to reading book two, ‘Cold Horizon’, and it is just as adrenaline-fuelled, believable and emotional as the first book. The second book is a standalone read, although characters from the first book are mentioned, this is Lindsey and Tyler’s adventure.

Tyler is an adventure writer, surfer and mountain climber, and Lindsey, a dedicated climber too, has to be on his next expedition, to climb the savage mountain K2. Not because she wants to conquer it, but to try and assuage the crippling grief of her sister’s death. They always climbed together, this time they didn’t and Alison didn’t come back.

Beginning with a climbing incident, the book backtracks to the beginning of the climb. The details are well-researched, and make the story interesting. Add in the believable personalities of the various climbers, and it is impossible not to be drawn into their adventure. I’ve never understood why people endanger themselves to climb mountains, but now I do.

The dynamic between the climbers making up Lindsey and Tyler’s team is authentic, and the characters realistic. The camaraderie between the different climbing teams, wars with their rivalry, making this story, an insightful study of human nature, as they take on the elemental forces around them.

The developing romance between Lindsey and Tyler gives the story a romantic edge. The setting is dynamic and forbidding and full of vivid imagery. The writing style engages you from the first page, and takes you on a wild, emotional adventure, to the edge of the abyss and back. Lindsey’s emotional and physical journey is difficult, as she faces her guilt and finds inner peace with her sister’s fate.

Guest Post – Kristy McCaffreyThe Belay

K2, located in the Karakoram Mountain Range, is the second-highest mountain in the world at 28,251 feet, straddling the Pakistan/China border. Its icy sides are steep and exposed, and it’s prone to heavy storms and avalanches. K2 wasn’t surveyed until 1852, and the first known climbing attempt was in 1902, with one of the climbers’ none other than Aleister Crowley. They never made it higher than 20,000 feet.

In 1953, with the summit yet to be reached, an American expedition was launched, marking the fifth quest to conquer the mountain. The team was led by Charles Houston, who had attempted to climb K2 in 1938 but had retreated just shy of the summit due to diminishing supplies and imminent bad weather.

High-altitude mountaineering had, up to this point, been an enormous undertaking with the establishment of many camps along the route to the top, taking several weeks of ascents and descents to stock gear, food, and heavy oxygen canisters. Instead, Houston proposed a lightweight expedition, and this would later become known as the Alpine style of climbing.

There were eight men on the team: Charles Houston, a physician; Robert Bates, a climbing friend of Houston’s from their Harvard days, who had also gone to K2 in 1938; Robert Craig, a ski instructor from Seattle; Art Gilkey, a geologist from Iowa; Dee Molenaar, a geologist and artist from Seattle; Pete Schoening, also from Seattle and the youngest member at 25; George Bell, a nuclear scientist from Los Alamos; and Tony Streather, an English army officer.

As they approached the summit, Art Gilkey became ill, most likely with thrombophlebitis (a blood clot). The team decided to descend in order to save Gilkey’s life, despite that his condition was likely fatal. Since he was unable to walk, they carried him in a makeshift stretcher made from canvas, ropes and a sleeping bag.

Somewhere around 24,600 feet, Bell slipped and fell on a patch of ice, pulling off his rope-mate, Streather. As they fell, their rope became entangled with those connecting Houston, Bates, Gilkey and Molenaar, pulling them along as well. Pete Schoening, who had been belaying Gilkey and Molenaar, was now the only climber still standing and was connected to the force of six falling men. He quickly wrapped the rope around his shoulders and ice axe, and he miraculously held all six climbers from plummeting to their deaths. This act became known as “The Belay,” considered one of the most famous events in mountaineering history.

After the climbers had recovered and made their way to a tent at the next lower camp, they, unfortunately, lost Gilkey. He had been anchored to the ice slope as the exhausted climbers had prepared the tent. They could hear his muffled shouts, but when they returned to retrieve him, he was gone. The most likely culprit was an avalanche. Later, members of the team concluded that Gilkey had released the anchors to unburden himself from the team, but the true cause of his death remains unknown.

In more than 150 years of mountaineering, only about 300 climbers have reached the summit of K2, known as the Savage Mountain, while nearly 80 people have died trying.

#KristyMcCaffrey

Kristy McCaffrey has been writing since she was very young, but it wasn’t until she was a stay-at-home mom that she considered becoming published. A fascination with science led her to earn two mechanical engineering degrees—she did her undergraduate work at Arizona State University and her graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh—but storytelling has always been her passion. She writes both contemporary tales and award-winning historical western romances.

With the release of Deep Blue, Kristy is launching The Pathway Series, a project she’s been developing for years. Each book will combine her love of animal conservation and environmental awareness, while also shining a light on unique and diverse locations around the world. Come along for high adventure with honourable heroes, determined heroines, and Kristy’s trademark mysticism.

An Arizona native, Kristy and her husband reside in the desert where they frequently remove (rescue) rattlesnakes from their property, go for runs among the cactus, and plan trips to far-off places like the Orkney Islands or Machu Picchu. But mostly, she works 12-hour days and enjoys at-home date nights with her sweetheart, which usually include Will Ferrell movies and sci-fi flicks. Her four children have nearly all flown the nest, and the family recently lost their cherished chocolate Labrador, Ranger, so these days a great deal of attention is lavished on Ranger’s sister, Lily, and the newest addition to the household—Marley, an older yellow Labrador they rescued in early 2018. Both dogs are frequently featured on Kristy’sInstagram account, so pop over to meet her canine family.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

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Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Blitz, Friendship, Romance, Suspense, Travel

Deep Blue Kristy McCaffrey #ThePathwaySeries @McCaffreyKristy #GuestPost #Sharks #Adventure #Romance #Suspense #Marine #DeepBlueBlitz #DeepBlue @LoveBooksGroup #Environment #Conservation #Travel #LoveBooksTours

In the deep blue ocean lives an ancient predator…

Dr Grace Mann knows great white sharks. As the daughter of an obsessed shark researcher based at the Farallon Islands, Grace spent her childhood in the company of these elegant and massive creatures. When a photo of her freediving with a great white goes viral, the institute where she works seeks to capitalize on her new-found fame by producing a documentary about her work.

Underwater filmmaker Alec Galloway admires Dr Mann and jumps at the opportunity to create a film showcasing the pretty biologist. As he heads to Guadalupe Island in Baja California Sur for a three-week expedition, it’s clear that his fan-boy crush on Grace is turning into something more serious. But even more pressing—Grace’s passionate focus on the sharks just might get her killed.

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Kristy McCaffrey – Guest Post – Deep Blue

Thanks so much for letting me stop by today. My background is in engineering, but I’ve been writing since I was very young. When I was raising my kids, I wanted more flexibility with my schedule so I decided to hone my writing skills and pursue publication. Today, I write contemporary adventure romances and award-winning historical western romances.

Here’s the blurb for DEEP BLUE:

When a photo of Dr. Grace Mann freediving with a great white shark goes viral, the institute where she works seeks to capitalize on her new-found fame by producing a documentary about her work. Underwater filmmaker Alec Galloway admires Dr. Mann and jumps at the opportunity to create a film showcasing the pretty biologist. But can he keep her safe when her passionate focus on the sharks repeatedly leads her into danger? 

Ideas come from everywhere, and I usually only have a general inkling about plot and characters in the beginning. I’m not a big outliner (although I’m trying to do more these days), so I start researching my subject and writing at the same time. There’s a lot of back and forth as I build plot and characters to complement each other. Because of this, my first drafts usually require a lot of revisions on the second pass (for instance, in DEEP BLUE I came to realize that several scenes were out of order—my brain knew I needed them, it just didn’t know where). After that, a third pass is for general clean-up. At that point, I’ll send it to beta readers, incorporate their comments, and then ship the manuscript to my editor. After I revise based on her comments, it goes to my proofreader. Most of my projects are self-published, so I do the formatting for ebook and print myself, and during this process, I’ll clean-up any last-minute grammar and logic issues that might pop up. Finally, the book is ready to be published.

One of my keeper books is THE EIGHT by Katherine Neville, a complex story of a magical chess set woven around historical events. I’m never without the non-fiction WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES by Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes, an excellent resource on the female psyche. I refer to it again and again. For pure escapism, you can’t go wrong with Ann Charles’ DEADWOOD series, filled with paranormal shenanigans, humour, and romance. I’m in love with all her characters.

I grew up reading a lot of science fiction and fantasy because that was on my mom’s nightstand, so I devoured Marion Zimmer Bradley and her epic Darkover books, as well as Anne McCaffrey’s (no relation) Dragonriders of Pern series. I was also obsessed with all things King Arthur. But when I was in high school, I read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and that book really showed me the dynamic that can occur in a great romance. So, while I certainly love to write love stories, I also need a big story behind it, and by that, I mean a highly thematic element. I’m also fond of including a bit of the ‘other’—a blend of paranormal and mysticism—so that often slips into my books.

I just finished THE UNHONEYMOONERS by Christina Lauren, a fun, sexy rom-com. Check it out if you haven’t. It’s a great read. And I just started RECURSION by Blake Crouch, and I’m hooked. It’s a sci-fi flavoured novel about scientists trying to download our memories so they can be saved for patients who later suffer from dementia. And, of course, it goes horribly wrong lol.

My favourite author moment is always finishing a project. The entire process of creating a book from start to finish is incredibly hard, so when I have my novel in hand, at last, I can finally relax and feel proud that I didn’t quit.

For my entire career, it’s been, my husband who has encouraged and supported me. He’s not a writer, but he has always been a big cheerleader for me. He also financially supported me for ten years before I was able to get my career out of the red. I can’t thank him enough.

Kristy McCaffrey has been writing since she was very young, but it wasn’t until she was a stay-at-home mom that she considered becoming published. A fascination with science led her to earn two mechanical engineering degrees—she did her undergraduate work at Arizona State University and her graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh—but storytelling has always been her passion. She writes both contemporary tales and award-winning historical western romances.

With the release of Deep Blue, Kristy is launching The Pathway Series, a project she’s been developing for years. Each book will combine her love of animal conservation and environmental awareness, while also shining a light on unique and diverse locations around the world. Come along for high adventure with honourable heroes, determined heroines, and Kristy’s trademark mysticism.

An Arizona native, Kristy and her husband reside in the desert where they frequently remove (rescue) rattlesnakes from their property, go for runs among the cactus, and plan trips to far-off places like the Orkney Islands or Machu Picchu. But mostly, she works 12-hour days and enjoys at-home date nights with her sweetheart, which usually include Will Ferrell movies and sci-fi flicks. Her four children have nearly all flown the nest, and the family recently lost their cherished chocolate Labrador, Ranger, so these days a great deal of attention is lavished on Ranger’s sister, Lily, and the newest addition to the household—Marley, an older yellow Labrador they rescued in early 2018. Both dogs are frequently featured on Kristy’sInstagram account, so pop over to meet her canine family.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

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Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Romance

The Single Mums Move On – Janet Hoggarth – 5* #Review @Aria_Fiction @Janethauthor #Romance #Friendship #SingleMum #SelfDiscovery #BlogTour #GuestPost

Can neighbours become more than good friends…

After her husband left her, Ali and her daughter Grace enjoyed living in what became known as ‘the Single Mums’ Mansion’. However, with her best friends Amanda and Jacqui moving on, it’s time for Ali and Grace to make their own way. Thankfully, a chance conversation leads to them moving into the infamous South London gated community known only as ‘The Mews’.

In ‘The Mews’ everyone lives in each other’s pockets and curtain-twitching is an Olympic sport. The neighbours are an eclectic bunch – from Nick the alleged spy, Carl the gorgeous but clearly troubled Idris Elba lookalike, to Debbie who is about to face the hardest fight of her life, and TV agent Samantha who is not as in control as she likes to pretend.

Each day brings another drama, but along with the tears, real friendships grow. And her neighbours’ problems might unlock the key to something Ali has yearned for all along…

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

My Thoughts…

I enjoyed the first book in the single mums series, but for me, this one is even better. This is Ali’s story, although Amanda and Jacqui are featured. Ali is stumbling out of, yet another terrible relationship, Amanda suggests, there is a pattern to this self-destruction, and maybe she needs to be single for a while, to find out who she is, and what she wants out of life.

When it looks like Ali and Grace may have to take refuge with Amanda, a lifeline from an unexpected source, brings them to ‘The Mews’, an enigmatic gated community in South London. The characters that live there are beautifully flawed and realistic and their lives make Ali realise that she’s not the only one with problems.

The friendships that follow, are full of love, laughter and sadness. Ali finds a way forward and romance in an unexpected place, The story flows well, and the ethos of the community, is addictive, making me read this story in one sitting.

Guest Post – Janet Hoggarth – The Single Mums Move on

The Single Mums Move On is my difficult second album after the popular Single Mums’ Mansion. Because the first book was based on my life, taking the reader on a bumpy ride traversing heartache and divorce through to a satisfyingly redemptive ending, I was nervous about trying to repeat that. Especially when what happened to me afterwards (a genuine happy ever after) wasn’t as page-turning as living in a mommune (sorry husband)! So I decided to write the next branch of the story from Ali’s point of view. It has its roots planted in the truth, but there are a handful of fictional characters with some of the situations sprouting from my imagination.

            The book opens a few years after Ali has left the mommune and is in a supposed stable relationship. However, on closer inspection there are so many cracks, it’s a surprise it’s not yet imploded. When the inevitable does happen, Ali finds herself alone again with Grace, her daughter, in her scabby flat with mould on the walls, wishing she was back in the mommune. After a chance encounter with a shaman in the local health food shop, Ali is given the opportunity to move into the notorious south London gated community named the Mews (this is a real place!). Ali decides to finally swear off men, and with the guidance of her mommune pals, Amanda and Jacqui, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery.

Behind the Mews gates, Ali encounters the eclectic bunch of residents who mostly make her feel welcome, but it soon becomes obvious that things aren’t as perfect as they first seem. There’s the photographer with an out of control addiction; the nosy neighbour with a tragic past; the college professor navigating a nasty divorce about to face an even bigger struggle; the mysterious man nick-named the Spy who might be involved in illegal activities; the wise shaman who heals everyone else but can’t heed her own advice; the talent agent who needs a best-selling act to save her from going under; the posh older divorcee who is sick of institutionalised men and desperate for some excitement; and the undisputed boss of the mews who tries to save the world, but continually cocks up her own love life. The Mews is like the Single Mums’ Mansion but with more players and as Ali gets sucked into the tangled lives of everyone there, she realises that other people’s drama could lead her down the path to happiness.

Janet Hoggarth has worked on a chicken farm, as a bookseller, children’s book editor and DJ with her best friend (under the name of Whitney and Britney). She has published several children’s books, the most recent ones written under the pseudonym of Jess Bright. Her first adult novel The Single Mums’ Mansion, a huge bestseller, was based on her experiences of living communally as a single parent.

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Christy Newton – Guest Post and My 5*Review: A Guide to Love

7124038Today I have the lovely Christy Newton on my blog talking about the inspiration behind her latest books. I got to know Christy during my first ‘So You Think You Can Write’ contest in 2012 and I’ve read and enjoyed all her books.

Check out my reviews of Christy’s books here

Over to you Christy…

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Hi! I’m Christy Newton, author of over ten novels. I’m a wife, mother and book lover. Thank you, Jane, for having me on your blog. I have to say I’m a little jealous of where you live. Visiting the UK is a dream of mine. Maybe someday if I can sell enough books. Anyway, I’d like to tell you a little about the inspiration I had for writing my two newest books.
T25366832he first, Naturally Enchanted, is a paranormal about witches of Mango Cove Island. This book was always inside me—probably from the time I was a little girl and adored the TV show Bewitched. I would even play witches with my Barbies. And if only I could cast a spell on my pesky little brother hehe, sorry Johnny.

When I started writing four years ago, I knew someday I’d write a witch story. When I finished Naturally Enchanted I knew I had not only wrote this for my fans and family, I wrote it for myself.
27830980My newest book, Breaking Free, is a young adult romance. Here again, is something from my childhood. I don’t talk a lot about my past, but like Elin, I had an evil stepfather. Having two teens myself now, I wanted to write a book that dealt with the serious issue of abuse that a lot of children have experienced. I also wanted to write about how strong a person is who can overcome that abuse.
The one thing every one of my books will have in common is a feel good theme with a happy ending.

 

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A Guide to Love:
Genre: Contemporary Romance

The love ship sailed long ago for Daphne Pepper…

Feisty native of Sand Crest Island, Daphne has everything she needs… or so she thought. Until she meets handsome Remy Rosetto who is on a mission to complete his grandfather’s request in order to earn his inheritance.

Remy hires Daphne to be his tour guide for an unheard of amount of money and she is more than happy to take his cash then send him away. Which is fine with Remy, who wants to get back to his penthouse in New York.

Daphne loves her island and will not even think of leaving her family and friends, but as Remy falls for this island beauty he has other plans.

Can they both find more than they ever wanted or are they too stubborn to compromise?

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Winter My Review

This is fun-filled sweet romance set on an island, in the Bahamas. Daphne loves her family and her home and even gave up her chance for love to stay there. She lives an ordinary life filled with work, friends and family and a lovely cat. The humour in this story is there from the first page and you can’t help but like Daphne’s outlook on life. Island life is a lot like village life in the UK, everyone knows everyone’s business and they look out for each other.
When Remy arrives on the island to fulfil his Grandfather’s wishes and claim his inheritance,
Remy and Daphne’s attraction is instant and grows, when she becomes his island guide. The mystery of the letter keeps the two in close proximity and inevitably passion overtakes them. They say opposites attract and these two are opposite in many ways. A Guide to Love offers the chance of a happy ending and a mystery to solve, perfect escapism; an easy to read, light-hearted story perfect for couple of hours on the beach.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

Other Books by Christy Newton

More Than Treasure Trilogy
(Stolen Hearts#1, Something to Treasure #2, Treasured Hearts #3)
Genre: Romantic Suspense

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Jewels, deception and adventure…

Twenty-two year old, Cammie Adams knows one thing for sure… life isn’t fair. She’s still a wreck from the tragic loss of her parents seven years ago. Right after she gets her PI license she is not only robbed, but abducted, only to find her life was all a lie. When she finds her mother’s diary she discovers she was only a pawn in her mother’s dangerous game. Now she must get back what is rightfully hers from the man who murdered her mother.

Hot and mysterious Simon Fisher has really only loved one thing… jewels. This ex-jewel thief, now bodyguard, doesn’t even know what hits him when he rescues Cammie as a favor to her father. Simon must protect her, but soon finds where there is trouble, Cammie isn’t far behind.

She will not only steal his prized jewel, but his heart.

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Something to Treasure Cover New-002

Murder, jealousy and treasure…

When Cammie Adams, determined novice PI, gets an urgent call from her ex, she is compelled to take his case. Miles, a luxury hotel owner and an upstanding citizen of Upton Hills, finds one of the maids dead. He turns to Cammie for help to keep his beloved hotel from being tarnished. With her partner and boyfriend, Simon, she takes on a case that might just be their last. Her ex’s hotel is an eighty-year-old building that has secrets of its own.

Can they catch the murderer to save the hotel and her ex’s reputation or will the case take a turn that will leave them lost forever?

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Spies, weddings and new beginnings…

Ready to get back to work after a long leave from their PI business, Simon Fisher and Cammie Adams take the first case that comes their way. Someone is selling company secrets and it’s up to them to find the spy. But when they get their answer, they uncover much more than espionage.

After attending recent family weddings, Simon has become an expert at dodging Cammie’s hints about giving her a certain piece of jewelry he has always secretly feared. Simon doesn’t know how long he’ll be able to keep his girlfriend satisfied without giving her the one thing she still desires.

As they work their case, will Simon and Cammie discover another fortune or will they see that the greatest treasure of all is the one they already have… love?

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Begin Again Cover

Genre: Contemporary Romance

What if one night changed your life forever?

Maisie Scott lost not only her husband and unborn child in a tornado two years ago she lost her will to live. Keeping busy is the only way she can get by. This small town waitress won’t let herself get attached to anyone… until Ryan, the new veterinarian for exotic animals, starts making regular trips to her diner. As hard as she tries not to feel anything, Ryan ignites a spark in her broken heart.

Ryan Tucker craves a happy family of his own more than his Momma’s apple pie. Getting over his fiancée leaving him six months ago, he moves to Pleasant Valley for a fresh start. When he meets Maisie and notices the sadness in her eyes he is determined to put a smile on her pretty face.

What starts out as innocent flirting turns into two people finding something they no longer want to live without. The problem is Maisie has deep scars inside and out. Showing Ryan that part of her may just be too painful.

When another dangerous storm hits, Ryan stays by Maisie’s side. She fills the missing piece in his heart, but will Ryan share his secret? Can Maisie move on from the past and learn to begin again?

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Genre: Contemporary Romance

Once broken, can the heart really trust again?

Dreams of escaping her small town brought Ellie Oliver to New York only to find that life there wasn’t all she’d hoped. Seven years later, she is returning to Pleasant Valley, Indiana with new hopes and secrets. She wants nothing more than to fade into the slow pace of small town life and forget about the demons of her past.

Jacob Jones is at loose ends. At twenty-six, a man shouldn’t be starting his life over from scratch. Finding himself out of work, Jacob looks for a new home in Pleasant Valley. He is ready for the single life just enjoying the company of close friends. All that changes when he takes a job remodeling the town’s toy shop and comes head to head with its new owner. Ellie turns out to be sweeter than the candy she sells in her store.

Ellie and Jacob bring out feelings in each other neither were looking for, but both can’t deny. Can they truly trust again or will their shattered hearts refuse to mend

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Protecting the Enemy Cover

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Julianna Fox was made for her job. Or so she is told. The only memory Julianna has of her past is after the explosion. She was a nameless victim until a man pulled her out of the darkness and gave her new life. A new purpose, because anything is better than being no one. When she is about to eliminate her next mark something stops her. The moment Julianna makes eye contact with Reid Castleton, she has a flashback of her forgotten past. How does she know the man? And why can’t she follow through with her assignment?

Expert assassin, Reid Castleton, has been told to kill the only woman he ever loved if he wants to live. When he finds his fiancée, he can’t go through with the hit, even if it means losing his own life. Either she can’t remember who she is or is damn good at acting.

Neither one knows who to trust. Both make a truce until they can find out why the leader of ETE 7 wants them both dead. What they uncover is a long line of lies and deception that started the moment Julianna was conceived. Will love conquer all or will fear make them do the unthinkable?

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Genre: Contemporary Romance

After a tragic accident that brought the small town of Wynter Haven to their knees, Claire Belmont and Nick Lewis went in opposite directions coping in very different ways. Three years later, Claire gets a call urging her to come back to help her friend move past his grief.

It will take more than a little hot cider, gingerbread and mistletoe to bring back Nick’s holiday spirit. He hasn’t celebrated Christmas since his twin sister died. In fact, he’s mastered locking up his feelings so he will never be hurt again.

Claire has a secret and hopes that somehow she and Nick can both get a Christmas miracle this year. After all, Nichole would want them to be happy and cherish the holiday that had been their favorite. Maybe a little bit of Christmas is just what they both need.

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Genre: Paranormal

Ezra Ravenhart has lived with the rumors of her family’s witchcraft her whole life. Too bad she doesn’t believe them – she’d conjure up a boyfriend. But the thing called love remains as mysterious as her Grana’s herb shop on their tropical island.
As a struggling journalist, Owen Cooper has to make a name for himself, and a tip that a real-life witch is living on Mango Cove may just lead to the big story he needs. Undercover as a shipwrecked tourist, he worms his way into Ezra’s family – and their secrets.
But how will he handle the fact that Ezra has found the magic answer to his heart when his body belongs in Chicago? And is their love strong enough to survive the evil stalking their every move?

Paranormal Buy Links

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Genre: Young Adult

Being sixteen is hard enough without Elin Skye pretending to be a new person over and over again. On the run with her mom from a psycho stepdad, who happens to be a deputy sheriff, her life sucks. She’s determined to sever Wyatt’s hold on them even if it means breaking all the rules.

Sawyer Knight’s summer is doomed when he’s unjustly grounded and must stay with his pain in the ass older brother to earn back his parents’ trust. Things start turning around when he meets a pretty but odd girl trying to kill a vending machine. After Sawyer learns the truth about Elin he has to help her no matter the consequences.

Two teens on their own with little money could be dangerous, not to mention life changing. In order to be free Elin must do something her mom never could—stand up to the monster who made them his prisoners.

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Author Bio

Christy Newton is a hopeless romantic and writes many genres of romance. She just might be the only author out there who doesn’t drink caffeine, but dark chocolate is her must have. She falls in love with each of her heroes and hopes you will too! Christy is the author of over ten novels.

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Posted in Author Guest Post, Author Interview, Book Review, Book Spotlight, New Books

Nobody Knows – Rebecca Barber – Blog Tour – Inspiration

NobodyKnows_ecoverMystery Thriller Blurb

Gillian Dempsey must find a reason to go on…

Easier said than done after a rare virus robs her of both parents. Left alone and confused, the mourning nineteen-year-old flees to her three best friends, who receive her with open arms.

Her parents give her more than an inheritance—they give her a second chance at life…

When Gillian is left with some properties in her parents’ will, she assigns them to a real estate agent to manage. Joel Matthews takes the job, but he quickly becomes more than a business associate. After a string of fortunate coincidences, Gillian and Joel spend a passionate night together—after which Joel all but vanishes from her life.

But they still have unfinished business, and Gillian won’t allow him to slip away—especially with her heart.

Life is a roller coaster of tragedy and joy…

Gillian reels him in, and soon the two are married. Gillian’s heart expands even more when they receive the news of their first pregnancy. But after the baby is born, things aren’t the same. Joel becomes distant…resentful. And then the abuse begins. Darkness consumes their marriage—only to get worse.

While Gillian tries to hold her family together, it seems Joel is doing everything to tear them apart. But just one slip of his temper makes all the difference, because this time, there’s no turning back.

Maybe being abused can be endured, as long as Nobody Knows…until someone ends up dead.

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Rebecca  shared  some of the  secrets behind her new story with me.

 What was the inspiration for Nobody Knows?

A friend was going through a hard time and it hurt to watch (it was nothing like this) so I created a monster we could despise. At the time it seemed everyone around me was celebrating how men who were rich and handsome and charismatic could do no wrong, so I wanted to create one who had flaws – after all everyone does.

Loss, especially when it’s both parents, is hard. How does Gillian deal with that?

Gillian doesn’t really know how to deal with it which is why she throws herself so recklessly into a life with Joel. I think deep down she always knew he wasn’t the knight in shining armour she’d prayed for, but he filled the loneliness and made her feel special, if even for a moment. She clung to the nearest warm body to ease the ache. As it turns out, she chose the wrong body.

Click on the My Review image to read my review of Nobody Knows.

Mystery Thriller My Review

EXCERPT

Adult Read

Gillian

‘The scowl on his leathery face should have been enough warning to shut me up, but tonight I wasn’t in the mood to back down. I was ready for a fight. Whatever he dished out would come back at him twofold. He came through the door, ripping it almost off its hinges and letting it slam behind him. He took one look at me, sitting on the lounge quietly watching television and sipping my coffee, and rolled his eyes in disgust. I didn’t say a word. This was the game we played these days. After more than a decade of marriage, this is all we had left.
“What’s for dinner?” he snarled, his eyes filled with hatred and disgust. I just shrugged apathetically. What was I supposed to say? ‘Hi honey, how was your day? You look tired. Why don’t I just whip you up a nice, juicy T-bone steak and fresh steamed veggies?’ The truth was, I would probably be having home-brand crackers with what was left of the vegemite.
“Not sure. We don’t have much,” I admitted, instantly feeling ashamed.
I hated the fact that he could make me cower like that. Once upon a time, in another lifetime far away from this one, I felt different. I felt worthwhile and even happy. We were happy at one point, weren’t we? Somewhere along the line, I must have loved him. Otherwise I wouldn’t have married him. I can’t be that stupid, can I?
“For God’s sake, didn’t you even bother to do the shopping?” he snarled from the kitchen.
I heard him muttering to himself as he shuffled the near-empty boxes about in the pantry. Much as I hate to admit it, the profanity spraying from his lips was mighty impressive.
Stomping back into the lounge, he planted himself deliberately in front of the television, hands on his hips and a scowl on his face. Knowing what was coming, I was glad the kids were out with their godmother Heidi tonight. That was the only positive in this nightmare.
“For fuck’s sake, Gillian. I give you money. What the fucking hell do you spend it on?” he demanded, tiny bits of spittle flying from his mouth.
We had danced around this confrontation for weeks now. The tension was escalating, as was the hatred buried inside me. I don’t remember the last time that I had actually had a full night’s sleep. These days, I was too angry to sleep. As soon as my head hit the pillow, all I could do was imagine all the things that I wanted to do and say to him, but was too afraid to.
My life had somehow crumpled into a pathetic mess, and most of the time I hated myself for it. I was furious, and the more I saw of him, the more he continued to be the heartless barbaric bastard he had become, the worse things got, and the more I despised myself.
“Do you really want to know how fucking far your measly twenty bucks stretches these days?” I asked, keeping my face as blank as possible. He raised a quizzical eyebrow and folded his arms aggressively across his puffed out chest.
I took a deep breath, grabbed hold of the arms of my chair with both hands, and squeezed as hard as I could. When I looked down, my knuckles were white with the strain and I could hear myself grinding my teeth desperately, trying to control the rage inside me.
“Well?” he snapped, shifting his weight impatiently from one foot to another.
I exhaled heavily. “If you really want to know what happened to that twenty you gave me a week ago for food and to keep the house running, well, it bought a six-pack of home brand toilet paper, a loaf of bread, a carton of milk, vegemite, eggs, and a packet of tampons for your daughter!” I told him, ticking the items off my fingers as I announced them.’

Click the Author Interview image to read my interview with Rebecca

Author Interview

Author Bio 2016 -1.

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Rebecca, one of four kids to her parents who are both primary school teachers, was born in Wollongong on the south coast of Australia before moving to the country with her family. After a few years of embracing all that country life had to offer, the family relocated to Port Macquarie with its white sand beaches. After a brief period enjoying the sun and the surf they finally settled in Canberra where Rebecca still lives today. But all through her childhood a notepad and a book where never far away. These days Rebecca is an avid reader, and when she isn’t buried in a book or cheering on her beloved football team she’s spending time with her husband Robert and their overly spoilt dog Levi.

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