Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Humour, Motivational, Mystery, New Books, Travel

The Girls Bella Osborne 5*#Review @osborne_bella @AriaFiction @HoZ_Books @Amy_C_Watson #BookReview #BlogTour #PublicationDay #TheGirls #friendship #age #mystery #love #life

Four old friends. Thrown back together after forty years apart. What could possibly go wrong?

In the 1970s, The Girls were best friends sharing a house and good times: Zara the famous diva actor, Val the uptight solicitor, Jackie the wild child and Pauline the quirky introvert. Now they’re in their twilight years, and Zara suggests that they live with her to support each other through old age.

Initially, being housemates again is just as much fun as in their heyday. But then Zara reveals the real reason she asked them to move in with her, and suddenly things take a sinister turn.

As the women confront their demons they come under the spotlight of the press, the police and an angry parrot. With their lives spiralling out of control can they save their friendships and each other?

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I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

My Thoughts…

I enjoy the current literary trend in fiction toward older women and their lives. The four characters in this story are so different but whatever drew them to live together when they were young intensifies when circumstances conspire to let them live together in their later years.

The story is told from three friends’ viewpoints, giving the reader an intimate insight into their past and present lives and motivations. The fourth friend Zara is the catalyst for their reconnection after nearly fifty years, and it’s her glamorous lifestyle allows them to be together again.

Friendship is an important theme in this story, exploring other contemporary issues like domestic abuse and mental health through the characters’ lives. I loved the story’s vibrant characters and the glamorous setting. The cosy mystery vibe that develops is facilitated by the setting and shows how deep the friendship between the women is.

The vivid characterisation and a believable blend of humour and poignancy make this an engaging and uplifting read.

Bella Osborne has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full-length novel. In 2016, her debut novel, It Started At Sunset Cottage was shortlisted for the Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year and RNA Joan Hessayon New Writers Award. Bella’s stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She likes to find humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories. Bella believes that writing your own story really is the best fun ever, closely followed by talking, eating chocolate, drinking fizz and planning holidays. She lives in the Midlands, UK with her lovely husband and wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept her as she is (with mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping).

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Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Humour, Motivational, New Books

The Library Bella Osborne 5*#Review @osborne_bella @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books @Amy_C_Watson #BookReview #Paperback #PublicationDay #TheLibrary

Unboxing of #TheLibrary

Tom is invisible. He happily blends into the background of life. But Farah Shah changes everything. Farah makes Tom want to stand up and be seen – at least by her. So Tom quickly decides the best way to learn about women is to delve into romance novels, and he finds himself at the village library where he befriends seventy-two-year-old, Maggie.

Maggie has been happily alone for ten years, at least this is what she tells herself. When Tom comes to her rescue after a library meeting, never did she imagine a friendship that could change her life. As Maggie helps Tom navigate the best way to ask out Farrah, Tom helps Maggie realise the mistakes of her past won’t define her future.

But when the library comes under threat of closure, it’s up to Tom and Maggie to rally the community and save the library!

Will these two unlikely friends be able to bring everyone together and save their library?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is a heartwarming, insightful exploration of friendship and its importance. Tom’s life isn’t easy. He copes by withdrawing into his introverted world. The library’s attraction for Tom is for something more than its books. There he meets Maggie. She’s not the teenage girl he seeks but an older lady who tries to keep busy and loves the community feel of the library. Maggie is an extrovert, hit hard by the inherent loneliness of old age. Both are needy, and both have something to give to each other and the community too.
This contemporary story told from both character viewpoints is humorous and poignant. The characters are believably created and relatable. The community spirit is uplifting, and the character development and self-realisation satisfying.

Posted in Blog Tour, Crime, Murder Mystery, Psychological Suspense, Psychological Thriller

Remember My Name Sam Blake 5*#Review @samblakebooks @CorvusBooks @RandomTTours #BlogTour #RememberMyName #BookReview #BookBlogger

If she’d turned off her phone, instead of listening in, perhaps no one would have died…
When Cressida Howard catches her entrepreneur husband playing away from home, she hires security expert Brioni O’Brien to get the evidence she needs for a speedy and financially rewarding divorce.
But what Brioni uncovers goes beyond simple infidelity. Because Laurence Howard is also in bed with some very dangerous people. Bribery and blackmail are the least of his worries as someone comes after the women in his life – someone who is out to destroy Laurence and his empire, whatever the cost.
And Cressida and her teenage daughter could soon be collateral damage, if she and Brioni don’t act fast.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Immersive from the first chapter this fast-paced mix of murder mystery and psychological suspense is addictive reading. Cressidia hears something she shouldn’t and it leads to series of events that threaten everything she loves.

Set the story has believable, vibrant characters and a twisty plot. Deceit,depravity and dubious business dealings are at the core of this suspenseful story. The multilayered story draws its sub-plots together in a readable way and the impactful ending ensures the story delivers everything it promises.

The perfect read if you like your thrillers packed with adrenaline-fuelled action, edge of your seat suspense and vengeance.

Sam Blake
Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Humour

The Spy Who Inspired Me Stephen Clarke 5*#Review @sclarkewriter #PAF @RichardsonHelen #humour #historical #WW2 #France #Female #Spy #satirical #BlogTour #BookReview #TheSpyWhoInspiredMe

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This story highlights the role of female spies in WW2. Their commitment and courage is something often overlooked, but many died in service of their country. This story parodies a well-known male fictitious spy as he finds himself in an uncomfortable alliance with a female spy who is everything he isn’t, but would like to be.

Lemming’s major contribution to the war effort appears to be working his way through the females who work alongside him until he meets his match in Margaux. She flatters his ego but makes him uneasy. When they meet again, he realises why.

Thrown in an uneasy alliance the unlikely couple travel to occupied France where Margaux shows Lemming what really happens behind enemy lines. Comically, and once you get to know him predictably, Lemming retreats into his vast imagination and rewrites the story covering himself in glory.

The immersive writing style and relatable characters draw the reader into the fictitious world from the start. Good use of sensory imagery brings the history and location vividly to life, so the reader feels they are on the mission too.

Humour and satire underpin this story making it an enjoyable read with characters, events and places that resonate.

Guest author Post – Stephen Clarke – The Spy Who Inspired Me

My new novel The Spy Who Inspired Me is a reaction against the old-fashioned Bond girl. The most Bond-girlish of them all, for me, is the dubiously named Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. In the original novel, she’s the feisty leader of a lesbian criminal gang, one of the key players in a plan to rob West Point. Then she meets 007, decides he’s cute, and suddenly she’s betraying her criminal chums and turning straight. It’s the same with the clairvoyant Solitaire in Live and Let Die – she sleeps with Bond (her first lover), loses her powers and becomes more or less enslaved to him.

The suggestion is that a woman will abandon all her ill-advised feminine foibles as soon as she meets a “real” man. It’s old-school gender nonsense.

This is why for The Spy Who Inspired Me, I decided to reverse the roles. The spy on the cover, Margaux Lynd, is a tough, highly-trained agent with plenty of mission experience. But when she lands in Occupied France in April 1944, she gets saddled with a scared, inexperienced, older male sidekick who just wants to go home to his clean shirts and his limitless supply of handmade cigarettes. The man is modelled on, but – for legal reasons mainly – not named after Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming. My character’s name is Ian Lemming. (You see, nothing at all like “Fleming”.)

The real Fleming was a suave playboy who spent most of the war in a comfortable Admiralty Office, a world away from the harsh everyday realities of spying. Meanwhile, dozens of women were being sent undercover into Occupied Europe. And they were the inspiration for Margaux Lynd. These real-life heroines joined up with the Resistance and acted as radio operators, go-betweens, recruiters and spies. Many were caught by the Gestapo, and then there was no Bond-like banter with their interrogator before a miraculous dash for freedom and a finale in a luxury bed. It was usually a short trip from the torture chamber to the firing squad.

Women agents were valued by the Allies because they exploited Nazi sexism – most Gestapo officers thought that German Frauen existed to breed Aryan babies, and found it hard to believe that a woman would do perilous “male” work like spying. In many ways, that is what Ian Lemming in The Spy Who Inspired Me believes, too. Only gradually does he come to respect, and then fear, the ruthless female secret agent he is forced to work with.

And as the two of them sneak across Occupied France and into Paris, Lemming begins to fantasize about a world in which a suave male spy would lord it over the ladies, while enjoying all the comforts he’s missing from back home – champagne, hot water, a change of underwear. As a reaction to the humiliations and deprivations he’s suffering, we sense that a macho superhero is being created in his head. And while Lemming fantasizes, his female mentor Margaux Lynd has to concentrate on completing her mission – and begging him never to attempt real undercover work ever again.

The Spy Who Inspired Me published on November 12 by pAf Books.

Stephen Clarke – Image Credit Marie Liss

Stephen Clarke is the bestselling author of the Merde series of comedy
novels (A Year in the Merde, Merde Actually, Dial M for Merde et al) which
have been translated into more than 20 languages and sold more than a
million copies worldwide.

Stephen Clarke has also written several serious-yet-humorous books on Anglo-French history, such as 1000 Years of Annoying the French (a UK number-one bestseller in both
hardback and paperback), How the French Won Waterloo (or Think They Did), and The French Revolution & What Went Wrong. He lives in Paris.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Romance, Serial

Meet Me At Pebble Beach – Out of the Blue Bella Osborne 5* #Review @osborne_bella @AvonBooksUK #Romance #Friendships #Life #uplit #humour #BlogTour #BookReview #serial #coastal #seaside

Regan is holding a winning lottery ticket.
Goodbye to the boyfriend who never had her back, and so long to the job she can’t stand!
Except it’s all a bit too good to be true…

When Regan gets pranked, she finds herself jobless, homeless and boyfriendless in one fell swoop.

Luckily her friendly seaside community provides a beacon of hope, proving to Regan that sometimes you really can rely on the kindness of others – and one local in particular, a handsome fireman called Charlie, helps Regan realise that this could be her chance for a fresh start.

Armed with a list of ways to change her life, Regan decides it’s time to step out of her comfort zone. Because – as Charlie knows all too well – life is for living . . .

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

What an exciting to start, to an addictive new series. Regan didn’t immediately appeal to me. I’m a neat freak and sympathised with Jarvis, her ultra tidy boyfriend, but she redeemed herself, within a few pages, with her caring attitude and sense of humour.

This first part, of the series, is full of new characters and events. Regan thinks her life is changing for the better, and then it doesn’t, but maybe, it does? Just when you think, things may be okay, life deals her another bad hand and that’s where you’re left. Desperate to know what happens next.

With relatable characters, humour, poignancy, romance and secrets, this story has so much potential. I can’t wait to read part two.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Regency Romance

The Scandal of the Season Annie Burrows 4*#Review @MillsandBoon @NovelistaAnnie #MillsandBoonInsiders #MillsandBoonHistorical #Regency #Secrets #Lies #RegencyRomance #HistoricalFiction #BookReview

Having saved Cassandra Furnival from scandal once before, it shouldn’t have surprised Colonel Nathaniel Fairfax that she was now attempting to lay siege to the Ton’s eligible bachelors! Determined to thwart her plans, he’s as astounded by her defiance as by her beauty. But nothing shocks the jaded soldier more than discovering her innocence. Restoring her reputation is set to bring about the scandal of the season!

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Cassie’s life has not been easy after a youthful scandal ruined her in Regency society’s eyes. She lives with a distant relation and her partner and works as a seamstress. When a Dowager Duchess, her godmother wants to take her to London for the season. She is unsure, but the Dowager is manipulative, and so with the blessing of her surrogate aunts she agrees. The rumblings of her former scandal haunt her, brought to life with a threat of new scandal when Nathaniel Fairfax, storms into her life.

The story takes a while to set the scene, but the complex characters and relatable themes explored hold your interest until the passionate romance and dangerous misunderstanding explode in the story’s second half.

Full of conflicts both internal and external, Regency society at its most devastatingly cutting and a cast of vibrant Regency characters, this story is a lovely way to escape the present-day problems.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Family Drama, Festive Read, Romantic Comedy

A Typical Family Christmas Liz Davies 4* #Review @LizDaviesAuthor #FestiveRead #Christmas #Family #RomCom #BlogTour #bookbloggers @rararesources #FamilyDrama

#ATypicalFamilyChirsitmas


For once, Kate Peters would like a happy, family Christmas; the kind of Christmas seen in the movies. She wants harmony and happiness, smiling, glowing faces, tables groaning with food, carol singing around the tree. She wants love, kindness, and goodwill to all men, especially in her own house.

What she doesn’t want is drama. Absolutely no drama, whatsoever.

But what she gets is three stroppy children, two equally stroppy grandmothers, a husband who can’t manage to change a lightbulb, and Pepe the poodle.

It’s no wonder she feels unappreciated, overworked, and ignored. At the end of her tinsel-coated tether, and with the only Christmas spirit being in the form of a bottle of raspberry gin, Kate decides to leave them to it, and see how they manage without her.

A quiet little hotel somewhere near the sea, where she can pretend Christmas doesn’t exist, is just the thing she needs. Isn’t it?

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#ATypicalFamilyChristmas #BlogTour

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

My Thoughts…

Christmas is for most, one the year’s most anticipated events, but sometimes the outcome is not as good as the build-up. For Kate, the anticipation is more like dread, and the outcome is likely to be disastrous, if something doesn’t change, but is she brave enough to do something about it?

Reading this well-written story is more like watching a TV reality show than fiction. As Kate’s much longed for perfect family Christmas, is lost amid bickering mothers, argumentative, opinionated, teen and pre-teen children, and a husband who’s the breadwinner, so he doesn’t need to do anything but breathe, does he?

This story imparts the frustration Kate feels so well, you empathise. Whilst at the same time want her to do something, to make her family truly see her as an individual with wants needs and ambitions too. Not, just the person who makes everything run smoothly in their lives.

There are lots of funny incidents in this story , that some will recognise, and the characters are believable. It does encapsulate, things that are negative and positive about a family Christmas, and the visual imagery is succinct, making it easy for the reader to visualise the action.

An amusing, insightful and sometimes poignant snapshot of family life at Christmas time, lovely.

#LizDavies

Liz Davies writes feel-good, light-hearted stories with a hefty dose of romance, a smattering of humour, and a great deal of love.

She’s married to her best friend, has one grown-up daughter, and when she isn’t scribbling away in the notepad she carries with her everywhere (just in case inspiration strikes), you’ll find her searching for that perfect pair of shoes. She loves to cook but isn’t very good at it, and loves to eat – she’s much better at that! Liz also enjoys walking (preferably on the flat), cycling (also on the flat), and lots of sitting around in the garden on warm, sunny days.

She currently lives with her family in Wales, but would ideally love to buy a camper van and travel the world in it.  Twitter Facebook

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