Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: More Than Us- Dawn Barker – Guest Post – 4* Review

When parents disagree on how to care for their child, is it justifiable to take extreme measures?

Emily and Paul have a glorious home, money in the bank and two beautiful children. Since leaving Scotland for Paul to play football for an Australian team they have been blessed. But sadness lies behind the picture-perfect family – sixteen-year-old Cameron has battled with health troubles his entire life. There’s no name for what he has, but his disruptive behaviour, OCD, and difficulty in social situations is a constant source of worry. 

When Paul’s career comes to a shuddering halt, he descends into a spiral of addiction, gambling away the family’s future. By the time he seeks help, it’s his new boss Damien who recommends and pays for a rehab facility.

While Paul is away, Emily has to make a tough decision about their son. She keeps it from Paul knowing he’ll disapprove. And when a terrible accident reveals the truth, Paul takes his son and goes on the run, leaving Emily to care for fourteen-year-old Tilly, who unbeknown to her parents is fighting battles of her own.

Can the family join together for the sake of their loved ones, or will their troubles tear them apart?

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Guest Post – Dawn Barker

The writing process for More Than Us 

First of all, thank you for having me on your blog today. I’m very excited that More Than Us is out now!

More Than Us is my third novel, so I’d hoped I’d be a more efficient writer this time around, but it took me longer to write than either my first book, Fractured or my second, Let Her Go!

Generally, when I write, I start with a vague idea of a particular character or issue that I find intriguing and complicated. For More Than Us, this was the idea of a family disagreeing about the mental health treatment of their child. This is not unusual, and as a child psychiatrist, it’s something that I see quite often in my practice. I also see strong views in the wider society about both the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues on children, both from the point of view of overdiagnosis and treatment (that I believe does sometimes happen), and the other extreme, people who do not believe that there is any place for psychiatrists in the treatment of children. I believe that the reality is somewhere between these opposing views, and wanted to explore that in fiction.

I began writing the first draft of More Than Us many years ago; I remember talking about it while I was living in Cape Town, over four years ago. At the time, I had just finished editing my second novel, and my mind was starting to look for new ideas.

Generally, when I write the first draft, I set myself a daily target of 500 words per day. I don’t plan what I’m going to write, or outline chapters or the plot, I just write scenes and characters and let them develop along the way. I’m not sure this is the most efficient way of writing, but it’s the way I’ve always done it! With More Than Us, knowing that I now had three young children, and was going back to work, I aimed for 1000 words a day just to get to the end of the first draft. I believe that getting all the ideas on to the page without worrying about how good or bad they are, is essential.

I then put the draft away. I had released my second book, Let Her Go, in Australia, and so was touring around promoting that, and I had gone back to work as all three of my daughters had started school. After spending a couple of years working hard on writing and promoting my first two books, I needed a break from it for a while.

In 2017, Canelo published Let Her Go, and I was thrilled when they said they would also like to publish my third novel…a year later! I panicked a little, as by now I was working essentially full-time, and busy with my family, but I know I work better with a deadline and agreed. I then opened up the draft of More Than Us on my computer…and panicked some more!

For the next six months, I wrote a second draft. I found it frustrating not to be able to work on it every day, as I had with my first two books, but also had to accept that I needed to work, and ultimately, family time was more important than writing when my children weren’t at school. I then wrote a third draft, this time having turned down some work and taken some time off my day job to fit it in, and then a fourth and a fifth… Finally, after many 4 am starts, I submitted More Than Us to my agent, and then to Canelo, at the end of 2017. The early part of this year was taken up by edits, and I’m so pleased that it has finally been published!

It’s been a lesson for me to accept that it’s not always easy to find the balance between writing and real life, but the satisfaction and excitement of finishing a 100000-word project is worth it!

Thanks again for having me on your blog and I hope you enjoy reading More Than Us.

My Thoughts…

Mental health issues are discussed more openly in the 21st-century, and this story examines the two extremes of ignoring mental health problems or labelling every behavioural difference as a mental health issue for a fictional family in Austrailia.

The scenarios portrayed are believable, and the differing parental reactions to their children’s behaviour are well-researched both regarding mental health facts and differing viewpoints on mental health. The family experiences addiction, depression, obsessive behaviour and low self-esteem issues and the circumstances surrounding them are authentic, and the strain on family relations is convincing.

Written from the two parents points of view, they view the same issues differently, which makes for discord, fear and finally understanding. There is no jargon overload, despite the book’s detailed content. What comes across is the human reactions to the problems they face and their differing ways of solving them.

A sensitively written story that examines mental health issues in children and parents and how they are perceived and resolved.

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

Dawn Barker is a psychiatrist and author. She grew up in Scotland, then in 2001 she moved to Australia, completed her psychiatric training and began writing. Her first novel, Fractured, was selected for the 2010 Hachette/Queensland Writers Centre manuscript development programme, was one of Australia’s bestselling debut fiction titles for 2013, and was shortlisted for the 2014 WA Premier’s Book Awards. Her second novel is Let Her Go. Dawn lives in Perth with her husband and three young children.

Twitter: @drdawnbarker

 

 

 

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Posted in Book Review

The Disappeared – Ali Harper – 3*Review

A distraught mother…
When Susan Wilkins walks into No Stone Unturned, Leeds’s newest private detective agency, owners Lee and Jo are thrilled. Their first client is the kind of person they always hoped to help—a kind woman desperately worried about her son, Jack.

A missing son…
The case seems simple—kid starts college, takes up with the wrong crowd, forgets to ring his mother. But very quickly, Lee and Jo suspect they’re not being told the whole truth.

A case which could prove deadly…
Their office is ransacked, everyone who knows Jack refuses to talk to them and they feel like they’re being followed…it’s clear Lee and Jo have stumbled into something bigger, and far more dangerous than they ever expected. Will they find Jack, or will their first case silence them both for good?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

The cover and title suggest a psychological thriller, but this is not that. The title refers to a missing person, Jack, who a newly formed detective agency is engaged to find. The private detectives are female and distinctive in personality, Lee and Jo are firm friends and always have each other’s back. The two women have an easy going, intuitive relationship, which recommends them, they are better together than alone. The setting in Leeds is refreshingly original and authentic; it’s a shame the characters aren’t equally so.

Told in the first person from Lee’s point of view, the plot has many twists, not all of which are credible. Details of the two main characters backgrounds are sketchy, so much so that I wondered if I joined the series in the middle, rather than at the beginning. It’s clear both women have secrets, but few are revealed in this story, making them less believable and realistic than they should be.

A common theme is drug taking, and other types of addiction and the plot concentrates heavily on this. The plot is dark, but there are humorous moments, which help. Action packed with a fast-paced plot this will probably work better in a visual media, where character depth is less important than actions and reactions.

Overall, if this the start of a series, it has promise, but if there is a second book, please give the reader more life story for the main characters to make them real.

I received a copy of this book from Killer Reads, Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

4* Review: More – Keren Hughes

More  eBook

Poppy - Blurb

Drake Anderson is all the man Annalise Duncan ever wanted…

Annalise has it all. The perfect husband. The perfect son. The perfect life. After the father of her son Ayden abandoned her to be a single parent, she finally felt like she hit the romance jackpot. Her boss, Drake Anderson, turned out to be more than just a friend. He’s the love of her life, and an amazing stepfather to her son.

But the picture perfect marriage is merely an illusion…

After seven wonderful years, Drake leaves. He doesn’t give her a reason, or even the courtesy of a return phone call. Six months go by without even a single acknowledgement. Annalise is devastated. Her heart and soul belonged to Drake, and he was the only father Ayden ever knew. She’d dedicated her life to him and the family they built together, and she isn’t willing to let that dream go easily.

When Annalise spots Drake out at a café with a woman, her heart shatters all over again. But it’s not what Annalise thinks. He isn’t cheating on her. There are things about leaving that Drake just can’t or won’t explain. Some things should remain a secret.

He wants his old life back, but Annalise won’t accept anything but the truth…

Drake has to find a way to convince his wife, his Cariad, to take him back, but it may mean facing a truth he wanted to keep hidden. He must prove to Annalise that despite his past, he wants her…

More.

More

Flowers - Buy Links

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Flowers - My Review

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This is a passionate love story, told from both points of view, so there is plenty of dramatic irony, where we know what is happening but the other person doesn’t. This is an intensely personal story. You share every moment of passion, cry every tear and join in with the laughter. If you enjoy a poignant romantic read, then this is definitely worth reading,
Annalise and Drake are both good people, they don’t always make the right decisions but their intent is always honest. This isn’t a glamorous story, their lives are normal and when tragedy strikes its impact is greater because of this.
I liked the honesty of this story and the unexpected twists but its intenseness makes it difficult to read at times but definitely worthwhile.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

More by Keren Hughes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


More by Keren Hughes

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5* Review : Carissa Ann Lynch – have you seen This Girl? – The Flocksdale Files #1

Adult Theme

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Mystery Thriller Blurb

Wendi Wise is a troubled young woman who snorts her breakfast through a straw and spends more time in rehab than in the real world…

Her life is seemingly out of control.

But now she has a plan.

That plan involves a sharp set of butcher knives.

She’s going back to where all of her troubles began…

Flocksdale.

Wendi was lured away from a local skating rink, at the age of thirteen, and held captive in a place she calls ‘The House of Horrors.’ Dumped off blindfolded on the side of a dirt road, Wendi soon discovered that she was addicted to the drugs they fed her while she was captive.

Too scared to go home, and having a new habit to deal with, she hopped on a bus, vanishing from the family she loved.

Vanishing from Flocksdale…

The town of Flocksdale is littered with fliers with a grainy image of young Wendi, and the words ‘Have You Seen This Girl?’ written below.

Now, eight years later, she’s on a mission—a mission to find the mysterious house from her youth and the monsters who dwell inside it.

Mystery Thriller Buy Links

Currently Free to download on Amazon

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Mystery Thriller My Review

 

Have You Seen This Girl (Flocksdale Files Book 1)This is a gripping, often shocking, suspenseful, mystery thriller, exploring the adult themes of abduction, child abuse and murder. Written from the first person point of view of a teenage girl and then a young woman, Wendi Wise’s story doesn’t graphically describe the abuse she suffers. Yet it manages to convey its horror vividly, through Wendi’s feelings at the time and subsequent addiction, as a result of the abuse she has suffered.
This story is dark but as it progresses it lightens, as Wendi’s emotional strength allows her to rebuild her shattered life. Some of the characters restore your faith in human nature but most are truly demonic. This is an edge of your seat read, who can she trust? Will getting revenge destroy her fragile mind? The ending is realistic and provides hope in a dark world. The quality of the writing, and the complex characters, definitely makes this book worth reading.
I downloaded a free copy of this book from Amazon UK.

Have You Seen This Girl by Carissa Ann Lynch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Have You Seen This Girl (Flocksdale Files Book 1) by Carissa Ann Lynch

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Posted in Book Review, Book Spotlight, Giveaway, New Books

Lost in Mr. Parks – Lilly James – 5*Review and Spotlight

Adult Read
lost cover

Title: Lost In Mr. Parks (The Parks, #3)

Author: Lilly James

Genre: Erotic Romance

Release Date: March 1, 2016

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Poppy - Blurb

Wade Parks spent his entire childhood trying to escape the control of his abusive, alcoholic father…

As an adult, he’s eager to control every aspect of his own life. Women and building his business empire were only the beginning of Wade’s obsessions…until he fell in love.

Evelyn Banks’ life has been turned around, and she has Wade to thank…

Wade is walking a tightrope to hell, and Evelyn is determined to pull him out, just like he has done for her. With Evelyn’s help, Wade starts to forget his past, but luck doesn’t seem to be on their side. Just when their relationship is stronger than ever, one deeply buried secret is exposed and may be more than their bond can bear.

A twisted obsession is not the only hidden part of Mr. Park’s life…

When dark family skeletons come out of the shadows, it’s sink or swim. There’s a part of his past that Wade isn’t telling, and when it comes to a head, his future with Evelyn is uncertain, and her life is on the line.

With ominous threats closer than they realize, Evelyn might find herself lost in something deeper and far more dangerous than Mr. Parks…

Lost full cover

Flowers - Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

Lost 1

Flowers - My Review

The last story in the series picks up from the traumatic ending in book 2. Evey and Wade have come so far in their relationship but have the secrets they’ve uncovered about each other damaged their future?
There are many humorous moments in the opening chapters, as Evey tries to make Wade understand she wants him under any circumstances. Evey is a strong, vibrant character and in many ways, the dominant force their relationship, as she help’s Wade overcome his past.
Glamour, heat and romance characterise Evey and Wade’s relationship but it’s the passion between them that remains the driving force of their relationship, illustrated with graphic, sensual love scenes.
The plot has some unexpected twists, which threaten any chance of a happy ever after for Evey and Wade and a sinister presence follows the couple’s every move. There is good use of dramatic irony in this story; the reader knows who wants to ruin their lives but Evey and Wade remain ignorant. This builds the story‘s suspense and tension, to a shocking climax.
Despite their emotional baggage and menacing outside interference, the ending is romantic and anything but dark.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

Lost 2

Author Bio - Flower

Author-Pic-Lilly-James-

British Author Lilly James is a woman with a wild imagination that has to be set free into the arms of a keyboard.

Writing gives Lilly that chance to escape the real world and live in a world of fantasy with her characters.

When she’s not writing you’ll find her singing terribly to music, curled up with her kindle, or doing something boring like everyday chores that unfortunately need attention.

Lilly lives in Wales, is a mother of one beautiful little girl, and loves reading, chocolate and wine. All in that order.

Poppy - Links

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

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My Review

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My Review

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Posted in Book Review, Book Spotlight, Feature Friday

The Parks Series – Lilly James – Feature Friday- 5* Reviews

Adult Read
The Parks Series Books 1&2 by Lilly James

 DENYING MR. PARKS 

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Poppy - Blurb

Evelyn Banks is her own worst enemy…

A recovering alcoholic, the key to Evelyn’s continuing sobriety is to remain focused and controlled. She finally has her life on track with a new job at a law firm, but her world is shaken when she meets the firm’s gorgeous, charming, dominant CEO.

 Wade Parks asks for only one thing—to be obeyed…

Wade’s perfect world is one of discipline and obedience. When he encounters his firm’s new employee, he begins a cat-and-mouse game in his pursuit of the feisty and independent Evelyn, determined to break through her cold demeanor and give her the discipline he’s sure she craves.

Evelyn is willing to submit to his dominance, but her emotions are another matter…

 Both of Evelyn’s parents were addicts, incapable of giving her the slightest bit of affection, and she’s not equipped to deal with the rush of powerful emotions her relationship with Mr. Parks unleashes. So she turns to the only solace she knows—numbing her feelings with alcohol.

He sees past Evelyn’s flaws, but some secrets hit too close to home…

 Just as Evelyn’s heart begins to thaw, Mr. Parks is reminded of his own troubled upbringing and he pulls away, leaving her feeling abandoned.

 But another very real danger is lurking, and Evelyn might be very wrong about the source of the threat…

Can she be saved by denying Mr. Parks?

Or is submitting to him the only way to save them both?

Flowers - My Review

This is a well written erotic romance with complex characters and vivid imagery. The dominant- subservient relationship that builds between Wade and Evey is a common theme in erotic romance but theirs has many subtle twists that keep the reader guessing.
Brilliantly created sexual tension created between the two main characters leads to heated erotic encounters, which are graphic but underscored with emotion.
Evey hides her damage and vulnerability behind a tough facade. She’s foul-mouthed, totally without a filter and avoids human interaction whenever possible. Yet I liked her. Her motto is attack first and when you discover some her past secrets it’s easy to understand why.
Wade is undeniably attractive physically, but his treatment of Evey made me cringe at times. He takes advantage of her introverted nature and low self-esteem.
The ending is sad and makes you glad there’s another book in the series because Evey deserves so much more.
I received a copy of this book from Limitless Publishing in return for an honest review.

ADDICTED TO MR. PARKS

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Amazon UK

Poppy - Blurb
Evelyn Banks is alone, and she has only herself to blame. 

Overwhelmed by her feelings for the enigmatic, dominant Wade Parks, she pushed him—and everybody else—away and drowned her torment in alcohol. Now at rock bottom, she needs help…and the only help she’ll accept is from Mr. Parks.

Mr. Parks has done the unthinkable…he’s fallen in love. 

Beneath his completely controlled surface, his heart is in turmoil. Despite his inner conflict, he’s committed to helping Evelyn regain her emotional equilibrium and giving her the life she deserves.

Evelyn has more secrets, and one could be a deal-breaker. 

One dark chapter from Evelyn’s past is uncomfortably similar to Mr. Parks’ own, leaving him at a loss as to how to connect with her in the only way he knows. He structures his life around dominance and submission, but how can he use discipline on someone who has been so broken?

 If Mr. Parks can eliminate a looming danger, maybe he can save them both. 

 He’s determined to find the culprit threatening Evelyn, but when his own dark past is revealed, his illusion of a perfect life is shattered.

Their love has become an addiction, but when the fantasy is stripped away to reveal their hidden truths, will love be enough to hold them together?

Flowers - My Review

The second book in the series starts at an all time low in Evey’s life, as she constantly battles with her addictive personality and lack of self worth. Wade redeems himself as this story progresses. Seen through Evey’s eyes he is her salvation but his many hidden secrets make you doubt whether this true. More secrets from Evey’s past are menacing and make this story suspenseful.
Erotic love scenes define this story and they become increasingly darker as Evey’s dependency on Wades grows.
Particularly noteworthy is Evey meeting Wade’s family and associates. Deep secrets revealed, illuminate Wade’s actions but do they excuse his behaviour? He shares more with Evey than expected but as his walls tumble down his emotional instability threatens their future. Another poignant ending makes reading the final book in this series a must.
I received a copy of this book from Limitless Publishing in return for an honest review.

 

Author Bio - Flower

 

Author-Pic-Lilly-James-

British Author Lilly James is a woman with a wild imagination that has to be set free into the arms of a keyboard.

 Writing gives Lilly that chance to escape the real world and live in a world of fantasy with her characters.

 When she’s not writing you’ll find her singing terribly to music, curled up with her kindle, or doing something boring like everyday chores that unfortunately need attention.

 Lilly lives in Wales, is a mother of one beautiful little girl, and loves reading, chocolate and wine. All in that order.

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