Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, New Adult Romance, Romance, Suspense

Trust In You Julia Firlotte 4* #Review #Author #Interview @juliafirlotte @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources #Romance #Suspense #Intrigue #Summer #Love #comingofage #FallingForYou #Secrets #NewAdultRomance #Kansas

From the moment she met him, Ella Peterson had questions. As always, though, she’s too shy to ask.

Older and sexy as hell, mysterious Adam Brook soon sweeps sheltered Ella off her feet; but is he as perfect as he appears to be, or is there more to him than he’s telling her?

When events spiral out of Ella’s control, she learns the person she needs to rely on most is herself and her instincts on who to trust in the future.

It’s just that her instincts are screaming at her to trust Adam; it’s what he tells her that makes that a problem.

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

My Thoughts…

Ella is eighteen and naive. Life’s not been easy for her, bullied at school, losing her father and uncle, and then emigrating with her sisters to Kansas to live on her deceased uncles farm, has left her hurting and vulnerable.

Being teased by some local young men reminds her of past bullying and makes her shy and withdrawn. An instant connection with one of group unsettles her. Told entirely from Ella point of view in the first person, the reader feels everything she does, and it makes the story immersive and intense. From a slow start, the story soon becomes addictive reading. Ella is an engaging character, easy to empathise and like.

Her emotions and motivations are well described and portray a young woman on the brink of falling in love perfectly. The precarious financial situation Ella and her sisters are in, draws them into a world they are both unfamiliar with and unprepared for.

The explosive chemistry between Adam and Ella make the love scenes, hot and passionate. Adam’s secrets lead to conflict and danger for Ella. Ella’s vulnerability is an underlying theme, and some of the situations she faces, are disturbing. Her character development is notable and makes her character believable and relatable.

The plot is intriguing and makes reading the next book in the series a must.

Author interview: Julia Firlotte – Trust In You Blog Tour

What inspired you to write ‘Trust in You’?

My husband had a business trip to Kansas and commented that many American’s had found his accent attractive, this lead me to imagining the opening scene of my novel of an innocent British girl who had moved there and was teased by a group of locals, the novel grew from there.

How do you create your characters?

I usually visualise the scenes in the book first, and then as my characters develop personalities, the scenes usually get re-written several times to fit. I also use the Myers Briggs Personality Types to aid my character development in a realistic way.

How do write authentic dialogue?

As my characters develop, the dialogue usually flows very easily from what ever scene it is in my mind at the time. Of course, Beta readers and my editor also have input in this process.

What comes first when you write a story, characters, plot or setting? Is this the same for every story?

I come up with the opening scenes of novels and scenarios of how my characters meet extremely easily, it’s the main plot of the stories I often need to spend more time developing.

What made you want to write romantic suspense? Is this a genre you enjoy reading?

I enjoy reading all types of romance novel, usually verging on the darker side of life rather than romantic comedies and chick lit. The first draft of Trust In You was therefore much darker and more of a bully-romance, but after feedback from Beta readers, the story kept changing as I listened to the characters. Parts of this changing the story process is what made the novel a romantic suspense, at various stages I also didn’t know what was going to happen next, I let the characters guide me. I also had so much content, this is why the novel turned into a trilogy.

Would like to write in any other genres? If so, which ones appeal to you?

Aside from romance, I also love historical fiction authors such as Phillipa Gregory, Alison Wier and Colleen McCullough and have read a lot of young adult vampire sci fi – quite a mix! If I were to write a novel in a different genre, it would be a Tudor and Stuarts drama, but even then, I’d have to squeeze in a love story somewhere, that’s just who I am.

‘Trust in You’, is the first book in the ‘Falling For You’, series, can you tell us a little about the other books in the series?

Trust In You is written from Ella’s perspective based on her experience of moving to America and getting sucked into a criminal underworld which she suspects her wealthy boyfriend Adam is involved in. Many aspects of Adam’s life are intriguing and he gives very little away, leaving both my heroine and readers with many questions.

The next novel is Faith In Him number 1.5 , because it is all about Adam and not told from Ella’s perspective. The timeline of the novel starts just before Trust In You is set and then continues on moving the story forward. It is not simply the same story told from the Hero’s perspective, there is far more to the novel than that, but I can’t say more to avoid spoilers.

The final novel in the series is called Believe In Me, it is referred to as novel two because it continues from Ella’s perspective and the first chapter is included at the end of Trust In You. Ella and Adam’s friend Dan become closer as Adam tries to keep his distance from Ella to keep her safe, but this throws a spanner in the works as is usual in Ella’s world and the tables turn. Ella develops into a confident young woman and the series concludes in a confrontation with the criminal underworld that will have readers gripped.

I’m also playing with the idea of a further novel in a new series all about Dan.

You can see all of the book covers on my website.

Julia Firlotte

Julia is an avid reader of all things romance, and she has read hundreds of books across a variety of sub-genres and began writing her own novels in 2018. Four books are currently in various stages of editing and completion, the first of which is finished and will be on sale in spring 2020.

Julia has always been passionate about languages and fiction and has a degree in Languages And Trade and an A-Level in English Literature. When Julia is not writing or editing her own novels, she usually has her nose in books by other authors and is otherwise kept busy caring for her family, going to the gym and carrying out her day job. Julia lives on the South Coast of England with her two children, husband and cats.

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Posted in Book Spotlight, Holiday Romance, New Adult Romance, Romance

Trust In You Julia Firlotte #Preorder #promo @juliafirlotte @rararesources #Romance #Summer #Love #comingofage #FallingForYou

From the moment she met him, Ella Peterson had questions. As always, though, she’s too shy to ask.

Older and sexy as hell, mysterious Adam Brook soon sweeps sheltered Ella off her feet; but is he as perfect as he appears to be, or is there more to him than he’s telling her?

Ella’s world has already turned upside down after moving from England to rural Kansas. She and her sisters were hoping for a more secure future, but instead find that life can be tough when jobs are scarce and the stakes often higher than anticipated.

When events spiral out of Ella’s control, she learns the person she needs to rely on most is herself and her instincts on who to trust in the future.

It’s just that her instincts are screaming at her to trust Adam; it’s what he tells her that makes that a problem.

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Publication Date: 6th April

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Julia Firlotte

Julia is an avid reader of all things romance, and she has read hundreds of books across a variety of sub-genres and began writing her own novels in 2018. Four books are currently in various stages of editing and completion, the first of which is finished and will be on sale in spring 2020.

Julia has always been passionate about languages and fiction and has a degree in Languages And Trade and an A-Level in English Literature. When Julia is not writing or editing her own novels, she usually has her nose in books by other authors and is otherwise kept busy caring for her family, going to the gym and carrying out her day job. Julia lives on the South Coast of England with her two children, husband and cats.

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Memoir, Non-Fiction

High Heels and Beetle Crushers Jackie Skingley 5* #Review @skingleyj #memoir #nonfiction #PostWarBritain #ComingofAge #PublicationDay @rararesources #BookReview

A compelling memoir of post-war Britain. Jackie Skingley grew up with limited career choices but joining the Women’s Royal Army Corps offered her a different life, living and working in a military world, against the backdrop of the Cold War. Packed full of stories reflecting the changing sexual attitudes prior to the arrival of the pill and the sexual revolution of the mid-60s, Skingley’s memoir denotes a shift in the political and social fabric of the era. Follow her relationships with the men in her life from finding her first true love, which through a cruel act of fate was denied her, to embarking on a path of recovery.

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

My Thoughts…

I love reading memoirs, they inevitably contain so much drama and emotion and resonate because they are real-life not fiction. This memoir is a perfect example, detailing the life of a woman growing up in the post-war period in Britain, and finding a way of life that allowed her to experience a multitude of experiences, people and places.

Honest, interesting and original. There are many sad and shocking moments in this story, but also humour, happiness and romance. The writing style is easy to read, it’s like reading a novel. An absorbing and entertaining insight, into a remarkable women’s life.

JackieSkingley

For Jackie Skingley, adventure has been her quest since childhood. Life with the British army allowed Jackie to live all over the world and gain a huge appreciation for different cultures and customs. Since 1999, Jackie and her husband have lived in the Charente region of South West France where Reiki, jewellery making, painting and mosaics, as well as writing keep her fully occupied. Member of the Charente Creative Writing Group, mother and grandmother.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, New Adult Romance, Romance, Travel, Young Adult

The Good in Goodbye Lasairiona E. McMaster 4*#Review @QueenofFireLas #LisaMillar #BlogTour #Romance #Friendship #NewAdult #Relationships @rararesources #RachelsRandomTours #BookReview

#TheGoodinGoodbye

Relationships are complicated. Long-distance ones, even more so.

When Lisa Millar met AJ Williams online through mutual friends, she wasn’t prepared to fall in love with the man of her dreams. She was even less prepared to discover that he already had a wife. In a heart-wrenching story of love attempting to transcend miles, Lisa finds herself pregnant and on the wrong side of the Atlantic from the man she loves.

Will their love conquer all? Or will the intricacies of a relationship woven across the Atlantic be too much to take and tear them apart once and for all?

(Warning: This book ends on a cliff hanger)

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#TheGoodInGoodbye

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

My Thoughts…

Another passionate chapter of the internet romance between Lisa and AJ. This new adult romance is emotional with touches of humour and sadness that draw you into their lives and make you care what happens to them. Lisa’s pregnant, and this leads to a new vulnerability, whilst highlighting the drawbacks of her relationship with A.J.

The story is sensitively written, and the characters, as in the first book, continue to be believable. The story charts the rough with the smooth, before tumbling to the inevitable cliff hanger, which is a signature of this series.

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

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Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Family Drama, Mystery, Romance

My Mother’s Silence Lauren Westwood 5* #Review @bookouture @lwestwoodwriter #ContemporaryFiction #FamilyDrama #Secrets #Lies #Mothers #Daughters #Sisters #Twins #Scotland #BookReview #Mystery

#MyMothersSilence

Some things you can never escape. I should know. I’ve been running away for fifteen years, and now I’m right back where I started…

Skye Turner’s family fell apart the day her twin sister Ginny died. Everyone in their tiny community in the Scottish Highlands accepted it was an accident, but more than one person in town is haunted by a secret from that night…

Skye left after the funeral, believing her mother blamed her for Ginny’s death. Skye should have taken care of Ginny, should have been there to stop her falling from the cliffs that night. Over the years, she’s barely spoken to her mother, until the day she receives a phone call asking her to return home.

As soon as Skye arrives in her childhood home, she knows something isn’t right. Her mother has kept the bedroom she shared with her sister like a shrine, Ginny’s clothes and diaries gathering dust, as though her mother thinks Ginny might come back. And there are whispers in town that Ginny wasn’t alone when she died…

Skye is desperate to find out the truth, but her mother just wants her family back together. As Skye begins to unravel everyone’s lies, she realises the truth might tear her family apart for good…

My Mother’s Silence is a twisty and emotional novel about the bonds between mothers and daughters, and what happens when we hide things from those we love the most.

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

My Thoughts…

A family tragedy resonates on a small Scottish community, It tears a local family apart, but now it’s time for Skye to come home. She’s unsure of her reception, but her younger brother insists her mother needs her. Her new life is in tatters, she has nowhere else, but can she face going back? This is a story about sisters, mothers and daughters and the secrets families keep to protect those they love most.

Told in the first person from Skye’s point of view, this is a compelling, emotional tale of a woman’s search for answers so that she can finally lose the guilt and move on with her life. Skye has done most of her growing up with strangers, always moving, never finding the peace, she unconsciously seeks. Circumstances, force her back home for Christmas, but what she finds is not what she expects.

The characters in the family and the wider village are well written and realistic. They are all hiding something, but Skye’s return opens Pandora’s box and finally, with the help of Nick, an ex-detective the truth is uncovered. The family relationships and tensions are believable and poignant, The mystery part of the plot is cleverly constructed and its resolution satisfying.

The romance is secondary to the family drama and mystery, but adds light to the darkness and makes the ending romantic and hopeful.

Ordinary families and tragic events make absorbing reading when instilled with a perfect balance of angst, hope, love, mystery, romance and sadness.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Friendship, Guest post, Romantic Comedy

#No Filter Maxine Morrey 4*#Review @BoldwoodBooks @Scribbler_Maxi #romcom #Instagram #NoFilter #Relationships #Friendships #LifestyleBlogger #Vlogger #JustBeingYou #SelfDiscovery #ComingofAge #BlogTour #BoldwoodBloggers #GuestPost #Extract #BookReview

#NoFilter

Popular lifestyle blogger, Libby Cartwright, is being boggled by business when help shows up in the shape of gorgeous but shy, Charlie Richmond. Libby’s determined to keep it at ‘just good friends’ – she’s dated someone from ‘Corporate Land’ before and it didn’t end well. As she and Charlie begin spending more time together, Libby is starting to waver  – until she discovers something which makes her question if she’s ready for love.

Still reeling, she suffers another blow as her blog is attacked in a national newspaper, for promoting unachievable perfection. Libby knows it’s not true – but the only way to prove that is to strip off the armour she’s been wearing for years.

Is she brave enough to show the world she’s far from perfect? And will Charlie be by her side if she does…

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Extract from #No FilterMaxine morrey

Chapter 1

‘That’s it! I am totally going to jail. I’m going to get it wrong, owe thousands, not be able to pay, and go to jail!’ I flung myself backwards with an overly dramatic sigh and lay sprawled on the paperwork I had been looking at. ‘And seriously? Me in an orange jumpsuit? I don’t care how on trend they are; I could never pull that off! Orange is so not my colour.’

Amy topped up her wine glass before reaching a hand down to grab my arm, tugging me in the direction of the sofa. I slid along the floor for a few moments in my prone position, like some sort of beached, four-legged starfish, until I eventually bumped into the furniture.

‘I think that’s more America, hon,’ she said, yanking me upwards. ‘I’m not sure what ours are like. Something much more subtle, I expect. And don’t worry. I’ll hide a file inside the first cake I bring you. You’ll be out in no time.’

I paused in my clambering from the floor onto the sofa, and gave her a look. She made a sawing motion with one hand, accompanied by an over-exaggerated wink as she held out my wine glass. Flopping onto the couch, I took the glass and swigged a large mouthful, before laying my head back onto the soft cushions.

‘Seriously though. I really don’t know what I’m doing with this. I thought I was handling all this business stuff OK until now.’

‘And you are!’ Amy interjected. ‘Your blog is doing amazingly well! I can’t believe the difference in a year – it’s incredible! Seriously, Libs, you should really be proud of yourself.’

I sighed. ‘Thanks, Ames. And I am, and of Tilly. I couldn’t have done it without her. But I’m so frustrated! I’ve taken on this insane learning curve and, for the most part, got the hang of things. I think. But this?’ I kicked a piece of paper with my bare toes. ‘This, I just cannot get my head round! Why does tax have to be so bloody complicated? They send you this stuff so that you are supposedly able to do it yourself, but write it in the most confusing language possible! How is that even remotely helpful?’

Amy just shook her head and took another sip of wine.

‘So, what are you going to do?’

‘I don’t know. I guess I need to start looking for an accountant.’ I twiddled the wine glass stem in my hand.

Amy leant over and bumped her head gently on my shoulder. ‘You know; it is OK to ask people for help sometimes. We can’t all be amazing at everything. Creating all this in such a short space of time is brilliant, Libby. Finding that you need some extra expertise in one area is perfectly acceptable, and perfectly normal.’

‘I guess.’ I put the glass down. ‘Before I forget, I have something for you.’

Immediately, Amy sat up straighter in anticipation and her eyes watched me as I crossed to the other side of the room and picked up a small, but fancy, cardboard bag with intricately twisted rope handles and a swirly script logo on the side. Walking back over to the sofa, I plopped the bag down on Amy’s lap.

‘Did I ever tell you that going for it with this lifestyle blog business is the best thing that you’ve ever done?’

I laughed. ‘You just like the freebies.’

‘True,’ Amy agreed, before letting out an ‘ooh’ of pleasure at the eyeshadow palette and perfume she’d just pulled out of the bag.

‘But thanks anyway.’

‘Any time. Oh!’ Amy’s eyes shone like those of a child who’d just won pass the parcel. ‘Really? I can have this?’ Without waiting for confirmation, Amy began excitedly spritzing the exclusive new perfume copiously on pretty much every pulse point she could reach, including mine.

Laughing, I lifted my wrist up to take another waft of the fragrance. It really was gorgeous. I smiled as my friend rummaged in the bag, unwrapping the various goodies from their pretty tissue-paper packaging. The cosmetic companies often sent more samples than I could possibly use so I always made sure my assistant got some to review and regularly ran giveaways on the blog, as a thank you to my readers. But occasionally I still had extra goodies left over. Amy always loved a good freebie so when I had something spare, it meant I got to make my best friend happy.

As the fumes of Amy’s fragrance enthusiasm began getting a little pungent, I pushed myself up and padded over to the doors that led out onto the balcony. Grabbing the handle, I slid the door to the side. Immediately, a warm breeze rushed in from the sea, dissipating the perfume, and bringing with it the screech of seagulls intertwined with chatter and laughter from the nearby bars and restaurants in the marina. I stepped out, grabbing a wide-brimmed, slightly battered straw hat off the nearby console table, and took a seat on one of the two wooden steamer chairs that resided on my balcony. Amy followed me out, wine glass in hand, the gift bag now swinging off her wrist.

If I was honest, the furniture was a squeeze and a trendy little bistro set would have been a better, more sensible option. I’d made the classic mistake of ‘guesstimating’ that they would fit perfectly on the balcony. They didn’t and I’d ended up building them in situ like some sort of furniture Jenga, which had proved to be the only way of getting them both to fit on there. But I loved them. I didn’t want a trendy little bistro set. The loungers were super comfy with full-length padded cushions, and reclined just enough without touching the glass. I could sit out here and read in comfort, watching the boats sway and bob gently in the marina, listening as the sound of waves bumping against the harbour wall carried across the water. Even in winter, when the wind howled and the sea reared up before crashing down forcefully onto the nearby beach, I would happily sit out here, wrapped up against the cold, just absorbing it all.

There was definitely no need for coats and scarves this evening. It seemed that spring had decisively handed off the baton early to summer and the new season was away and running. The evening was warm and the breeze soft as Amy and I, now having inelegantly climbed onto our respective loungers, sat back and sighed happily.

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

My Thoughts…

A lovely, slow to ignite friends to lovers and opposites attract romance, in a contemporary setting. Libby is a lifestyle blogger, whose popularity is now making her serious money. Worried about tax issues she eagerly accepts Charle, a friend of a friend’s offer to look over her accounts, She is accident-prone, bubbly and creative, the antithesis of Charlie who is climbing up the corporate ladder and is introverted,

Mutual attraction, proximity. and an unanswered need for someone special in their lives draws the couple together. Firstly into friendship and after much ado, romance. Both are reticent about commitment and their self-worth making them more alike than they first appear.

Libby experiences some of the negative aspects of celebrity status and social media and wants to prove that her blog is a true reflection of her and not a facsimile. Doing this is risky both from a business point of view and personally, and she wonders if people will like the true Libby, with #NoFilter.

This story has a likeable rom-com element and complex realistic protagonists. The romance is very slow-paced. which some will find frustrating.

There is also a message about the power of social media, and how it affects those who live their lives on it. There is a significant move away now, from unrealistic and negative media portrayals of self-image, especially for the young. Maybe its time for us to be more circumspect about what we share of our lives, and not try and constantly strive for an unrealistic ideal, that is probably not even real anyway?

A gently romantic, thought-provoking read.

Guest Post – Inspiration for #No Filter – Maxine Morrey

I wasn’t an early embracer of the whole social media scene. I joined Twitter to see what it was about but didn’t really use it, barely going on it. Facebook had never had any appeal for me, but writing full time meant having a ‘business’ presence on there was kind of required.

Instagram, however, was a different matter for me. As a photography fan, this platform appealed as a place to share and view interesting pictures, and perhaps connect with others who shared similar interests. It still took me a while, joining four years after its launch. But it was really about the opportunity to practice photography skills and share them. I wasn’t bothered about the Like count. It was just fun. And I think this was true of a lot of users at this time. That was the point – just having fun.

But somewhere along the line, things seem to have become a bit skewed. And there are times when it’s not fun at all– in fact, it’s the very opposite. Some users are experiencing a lack of self-worth, jealousy, violence, self-harm and heartbreakingly, even suicide. It was actually this side of things that gave me the inspiration for the book that would become #NoFilter.

Bearing in mind I write romcoms, I can see that this isn’t exactly what people would call a perfect match. But this is what many people miss about the romance genre – especially the critics, the majority of whom have never even dipped a toe into the scene before dismissing it as unworthy of their, or anyone else’s attention. Many romcoms and romances tackle subjects which are quite serious, but they do it in a way that makes it accessible, and relatable. Yes, my books have a non-negotiable happy ending but that doesn’t mean the characters have led  Pollyanna lifestyles. There’s more to these books than meet the eye if people bother to look.

The spark for #NoFilter was reading a report about the increase in reports of self-harm since the advent of social media, and how the growth of the two correlated. This was both shocking and saddening. We’ve all heard of cyberbullying and trolling and how intrusive that can be, especially to school-age children. Once our home was a sanctuary away from the school bullies. Now, unless you’re offline entirely – something that seems almost impossible, if not anathema to a generation who were practically born with a mobile phone in their hand –  it’s very hard to get away from.

But it’s not just others who bully. And you certainly don’t have to be of school age to be a victim. Sometimes the biggest bully is the one inside our head, and unfortunately, social media, especially the image focused channels have only given these more power. These problems are not exclusively female either. Men are certainly not immune to doubting their self-worth, but there has always been an added pressure on women when it comes to how they present themselves and how others perceive them.

Once it was the glossy magazines being berated for presenting aspirational images impossible to actually achieve. Not because there aren’t women just as stylish, intelligent and beautiful out there. But because the images laid in front of us weren’t genuine. The real person- a model, a woman already been singled out for her aesthetically pleasing appearance – has been made up, dressed and photographed in the most flattering way possible. And then begins hours of photo editing. In some cases, four or five different women are amalgamated to make one ‘perfect’ one. No wonder we feel like we’re not good enough – the image we’re aspiring to sometimes isn’t even one person! Even children aren’t immune from the photo editing suite – what sort of message that sends, I hate to contemplate.

So, battling against these perfect images on the newsstand was bad enough but in the back of our minds, many of us knew these were tweaked and toned and literally, perfected. But somehow, when it comes to social media, we seem to forget. All of a sudden there are these ‘normal’ women – not movie stars, or models – just regular women looking absolutely flawless. And that seems a lot more real than the glossy magazines. Which is a lot more dangerous.

The truth is a vast majority of the images on Instagram are not real. They’re just as fake as the magazines. The amount of photo editing apps available is staggering, with an enormous number dedicated specifically to selfies. It’s basically plastic surgery for your photograph and it can get addictive. When selfies are continuously filtered and edited, they are a representation of that person – but most certainly not that person. However, as we scroll through, seeing one perfect face and body after another, that logic doesn’t always make it through and instead, our own self-worth takes a mental pounding. That’s the danger and it’s only getting worse.

Social media is not a bad thing. It’s supposed to be fun, and it can be. It can also be supportive. Being a writer is a very solitary job, but social media has enabled me to be in contact with others in the same position and being able to gain and give support via these platforms is brilliant. The same goes for hobbies – you might not know anyone in your ‘real’ life that finds the same things as you interesting but social media enables you to find a community and I know people who have made long and strong friendships via it. It’s not evil. But it does need to be used with caution.

No one is perfect. But you are perfect as you are. If there’s anything that’s making you doubt that, then it may be time to do a bit of detoxing. Accounts that make you question your self-worth need to go. Press that unfollow and feel the pressure lift. Find the next one and do the same, and the next.

Replace these accounts with others that don’t adhere to the editing obsession and instead bring you joy. They’re just as interesting and encourage a world and a belief that is far, far more social.

#MaxineMorrey

 Maxine Morrey is a bestselling romantic comedy author with eight books to her name including Winter’s Fairytale and the top ten hit The Christmas Project. She lives in West Sussex. Her first novel for Boldwood, #No Filter, will be published in November 2019.

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Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance, Saga

Good Girls Amanda Brookfield 5*#Review @BoldwoodBooks @ABrookfield1 #BlogTour #Author #Interview #Extract #FamilyDrama #ComingofAge #Sisters #Secrets #Romance #Saga

GOOD GIRLS NEVER TELL TALES…

Everyone that meets Kat Keating is mesmerised. Beautiful, smart and charming, she is everything a good girl should be.

Her sister Eleanor, on the other hand, knows she can’t compete with Kat. On the awkward side of tall, clever enough to be bullied, and full of the responsibilities only an older sibling can understand, Eleanor grows up knowing she’s not a good girl.

This is the story of the Keating sisters – through a childhood fraught with secrets, adolescent rivalries, and on into adulthood with all its complexities and misunderstandings.  Until a terrible truth brings the sisters crashing together and finally, Eleanor begins to uncover just how good Kat really was.

Good Girls is a love story, a coming-of-age story, a mystery and a tear-jerker. But most of all it’s a reminder of who to keep close and who to trust with your darkest secrets. 

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#boldwoodblogtours

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

My Thoughts…

Two sisters, once close, but who have become estranged as they grew older. Eleanor, the older has her own reasons, but she’s never understood her sister Kat’s. Drawn together again, by a cruel stroke of fate, is it too late to reconnect?

This is an excellent family drama, with dark family secrets that devastate the once close sisterly bond. The story begins with Eleanor rushing to be with her sister, and them drifts back in time to the mid-1980s when they were young girls, and then the early 1990s, when Eleanor left for university.

The historical events slowly illuminate the present discord and misunderstanding, but all is not revealed until it is in some ways, too late to make amends. Serendipity plays a part in this story, as it often does in reality, and Eleanor gradually comes to terms with her past and the possibility of a hopeful future.

The cast of characters resonate, they all play a part in Eleanor’s life but have their own motivations and flaws, which makes them real. The story is realistically peppered with laughter, sadness, anger and despair. It is a poignant reminder that you cannot sometimes trust those closest to you, and of the rollercoaster nature of life.

An emotional family drama, with a realistic plot and memorable characters.

Author Interview – Amanda Brookfield – Good Girls

What inspired you to write ‘Good Girls’?

My original idea was to write about two sisters who are driven apart and then re-connected by the same man, deciding to get in touch by email after twenty years.  But then the story took off in a hundred other directions, as stories do!

What interests you about family drama? Why are stories about sisters so absorbing?

We all come from families of one kind or another – our upbringings forge us, whether we like it or not – and I love looking at the myriad ways we try to deal with that.  Sisters are a prime and rich example (I have two of my own!), being a relationship that is full of rivalries and ups and downs.  But there are also, always, the ties of love and loyalty that continue to bind us as siblings, long after we have gone our separate ways in the adult world.  This is a fascinating seam to explore as a novelist.

Dialogue is very important in a family drama story.  How do you make your dialogue realistic?

You can have the most gripping plot, but if the voices of the characters do no ring true then it will fall flat.  The way I work is to hear my characters speak inside my head.  In fact, often snatches of dialogue – of how my characters would communicate – arrive at unexpected moments when I am away from my desk, driving the car say, or walking the dog.  I have learnt to trust these snatches and write them down – it is my imagination working overtime, and 9 times out of 10 it is absolutely right.  I guess it is like being an actor, trying to get inside the psyche of a protagonist.

How do you create your characters?  What makes them believable and real?

Constructing a character is a bit like doing a jigsaw.  You decide what they look like, and where they live; what age they are and what they do for a living.  You give them hopes, hobbies and fears.  Then you throw events at them and see what they do!  If there is enough substance to your creations, enough humanity, the the way they behave under pressure will feel real and credible for the reader.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I read as widely as possible – mostly fiction, but also memoir, travel and some history.  I love being surprised by what I find on the page and always have my antennae up to learn new things, both creatively and factually.  If someone recommends a book to me passionately enough, then I will always give it a go!  I also try to avoid reading books that I think might be similar to whatever I am working on – I hate the idea of being influenced or feeling that someone has already gone where I am trying to go.

What are you currently writing?

I am halfway through a novel about a woman plucking the courage to leave her abusive husband – one of those subtle monsters that no one else knows about.  I am writing the story from my heroine’s point of view, so it has an intensity that feels new and exciting.  It is important for me to feel that each new writing project is stretching the boundaries of what I have done before.

Extract from ‘Good Girls’ – Amanda Brookfield
CHAPTER ONE
January 2013

Eleanor decided to take a taxi from the station, even though she knew it would cost ten precious pounds and mean a wait. Being so rural, only a handful of cars served the area, but she didn’t want to be a bother to Howard, her brother-in-law. She texted both him and Kat to say she would be there within the hour and stayed as warm as she could in the small arched station entrance. It was a cold, dank morning, not raining for once but with air like icy metal against her skin.

The taxi driver who pulled up some twenty minutes later exuded an attitude of reluctance that made Eleanor disinclined to make conversation. When they hit a tail-back, thanks to a loop round the old Roman bridge, still not fixed from the heavy flooding over the New Year, he thumped his steering wheel. ‘A bloody joke. We can land men on the moon and still it takes three weeks to fix a few old stones.’ Eleanor murmured agreement but found that she didn’t mind much. The fields on either side of the road were still visibly waterlogged. After the grimy mêlée of south London, it was a visual feast – ethereal, shimmering silver bands engraved with the black reflections of leafless trees and smudgy January clouds.

The usual criss-cross of feelings was stirring at being back in such proximity to the landscape of her childhood. Just twenty miles away, her father was a resident in a small care home called The Bressingham, which he had once included in his rounds as a parish priest, days long since lost to him through the fog of dementia. Howard and Kat’s substantial Georgian house was ten miles in the opposite direction, on the fringes of a town called Fairfield. They had moved from Holland Park seven years before, a year after the birth of their third child, Evie. At the time, Eleanor had been surprised to get the change of address card. She had always regarded her little sister and husband as life-long townies, Kat with her posh quirky dress-making commissions to private clients and Howard with his big-banker job. It was because they saw the house in a magazine and fell in love with it, Kat had explained at one of their rare subsequent encounters, in the manner of one long used to plucking things she wanted out of life, like fruits off a tree.

But recently life had not been so cooperative. A small tumour had been removed from Kat’s bowel and she was in bed recovering. Howard had reported the event earlier in the week, by email, and when Eleanor had got on the phone, as he must have known she would, he had said that the operation had gone well and that Kat was adamant that she didn’t need sisterly visits. No further treatment was required. She would be up and about in a matter of days. Their regular babysitter, Hannah, was increasing her hours to plug gaps with the children and he was taking a week off from his daily commute into the City. ‘But I am her sister,’ Eleanor had insisted, hurt, in spite of knowing better. ‘I’d just like to see her. Surely she can understand that.’ Howard had said he would get back to her, but then Kat had phoned back herself, saying why didn’t Eleanor pop down on Saturday afternoon.

‘Nice,’ said the driver, following Eleanor’s instructions to turn between the laburnums that masked the handsome red-brick walls and gleaming white sash windows and pulling up behind the two family cars, both black, one a tank-sized station wagon, the other an estate. He fiddled with his satnav while Eleanor dug into her purse for the right money. I am not the rich one, she wanted to cry, seeing the visible sag of disappointment on his sheeny unshaven face at the sight of her twenty-pence tip; I am merely the visiting elder sister who rents a flat by a Clapham railway line, who tutors slow or lazy kids to pay her bills and who has recently agreed to write an old actor’s memoirs for a sum that will barely see off her overdraft.

Howard answered the door, taking long enough to compound Eleanor’s apprehensions about having pushed for the visit. He was in a Barbour and carrying three brightly coloured backpacks, clearly on the way out of the house. ‘Good of you to come.’ Brandishing the backpacks, he kissed her perfunctorily on both cheeks. ‘Brownies, go-carting and a riding lesson – pick-ups in that order. Then two birthday parties and a bowling alley. God help me. See you later maybe. She’s upstairs,’ he added, somewhat unnecessarily. ‘

‘The Big Sister arrives,’ Kat called out before Eleanor had even crossed the landing. ‘Could you tug that curtain wider?’ she added as Eleanor entered the bedroom. ‘I want as much light as possible.’

‘So, how are you?’ Eleanor asked, adjusting the offending drape en route to kissing Kat’s cheek, knowing it was no moment to take offence at the Big Sister thing, in spite of the reflex of deep, instinctive certainty that Kat had said it to annoy. At thirty-eight she was the big sister, by three years. She was also almost six-foot, with the heavy-limbed, dark-haired, brown-eyed features that were such echoes of their father, while Kat, as had been pointed out as far back as either of them could remember, had inherited an uncanny replication of their mother’s striking looks, from the lithe elfin frame and flinty-blue feline eyes to the extraordinary eye-catching tumble of white-blonde curls. ‘You look so well,’ Eleanor exclaimed, happiness at the truth of this observation making her voice bounce, while inwardly she marvelled at her sibling’s insouciant beauty, utterly undiminished by the recent surgery. Her skin was like porcelain, faintly freckled; her hair in flames across the pillow.

‘Well, thank you, and thank goodness, because I feel extremely well,’ Kat retorted. ‘So please don’t start telling me off again for not having kept you better informed. As I said on the phone, the fucking thing was small and isolated. They have removed it – snip-snip,’ she merrily scissored two fingers in the air. ‘So I am not going to need any further treatment, which is a relief frankly since I would hate to lose this lot.’ She yanked at one of the flames. ‘Shallow, I know, but there it is.’

‘It’s not shallow,’ Eleanor assured her quietly, experiencing one of the sharp twists of longing for the distant days when they had been little enough and innocent enough to take each other’s affections for granted. They had been like strangers for years now in comparison, shouting across an invisible abyss.

#AmandaBrookfield

Amanda Brookfield is the bestselling author of 15 novels including Relative Love and Before I Knew You, and a memoir, For the Love of a Dog starring her Golden Doodle Mabel.  She lives in London and is currently a Visiting Fellow at Univ College Oxford. Her first book with Boldwood, Good Girls, will be published on 8th October 2019.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Humour, New Adult Romance, Romance, Travel

Intimate Strangers Lasairiona E. McMaster 4*Review @QueenofFireLas @rararesources #NewAdult #ContemporaryRomance #InternetRomance #ComingofAge #BookReview #BlogTour

#IntimateStrangers

Is there such a thing as too perfect?

Lisa Millar wasn’t supposed to fall in love with a guy on the Internet. But she did.

Other than living over five thousand miles away in America, AJ Williams is seemingly her perfect match. Strikingly handsome, musically talented, plays hockey and has a typical college-guy life.

In a moment of carpe diem, Lisa flies from Ireland to Alabama to surprise her internet-beau and finds herself face to face with an inconceivable reality that she couldn’t possibly have prepared for.

How well can you truly know someone you meet online?

Will true love win out, or will AJ’s secret life be too much for Lisa to bear? 

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

My Thoughts…

The blurb for this book attracted me, even though I don’t usually read new adult romance, anymore. I need to think back thirty-nine years, to recognise how I would react in these circumstances, and whether I would risk everything for love, on the strength of an internet acquaintance.

There wasn’t internet in the 1980s, but I still changed the course of my life for love, after a short acquaintance, and so, the main character Lisa’s motivations are something I can relate to.

This contemporary romance is well-written, with an easy to read, style. The youth of the characters and the initial decisions they make are often immature, reading this now, but perfectly in keeping with their age group and intended audience.

Honest and relatable, this story does present our internet lovers with plenty of conflicts, which test their feelings and motivations. The twisty plot tells an engaging story, and the characters are authentic.

The first in the Lisa Millar series, it will be interesting to see what happens next.

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

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Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Romance

The Things We Left Unsaid- Emma Kennedy 4*#Review @PenguinUKBooks @EmmaKennedy @arrowpublishing #FamilyDrama #BookReview #comingofage #1960s #relationships #HistoricalFiction #mothers #daughters #Contemporaryfiction #bookbloggers #Secrets

Rachel’s relationship with her mother, Eleanor, has always been far from perfect. Eleanor is a renowned artist born from the swinging sixties, and Rachel has forever lived in the shadow of her success.

When Rachel is left by her fiancé on the morning of their wedding she has no choice but to move back into her family home and spend an unbearably hot summer with a mother she feels distant from – in the presence of many painful memories.

It will take another turn of events before Rachel realises that sometimes the past holds exactly the comfort we need. And that behind the words left unsaid are untold stories that have the power to define us.

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

My Thoughts…

An emotional. vibrant coming of age story, highlighting the relationship between a mother Eleanor, and her daughter, Rachel. Still reeling from the loss of Charlie, her father, she is jilted at the altar and has to return home to heal, and decide what to do next, Her complex relationship with Eleanor makes this emotional and difficult, and despite Eleanor’s efforts, they remain estranged.

With secrets untold, Rachel faces her third life-altering event and begins to realise what she has lost. She begins to look back into her mother’s life and discovers, she suffered her own pain and setbacks despite her glamorous persona. Told from dual points of view we revisit Eleanor’s life, coming of age, in the swinging sixties and Rachel solves a family secret that gives her hope for the future, whilst she comes to terms with her present, with the help of family and new friends.

The characters are complex and easily draw you into their lives. The snapshot of life in the sixties highlights the decadence, but also the prejudices that still need to be overcome. There are many poignant episodes in this story, which has an authentic ethos.

The plot is simple, and I have read similar stories, but this doesn’t detract from the excellent storytelling.

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction

Boy Swallows Universe Trent Dalton 4* #Review @TrentDalton @BoroughPress @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK #LiteraryFiction #Comingof Age #FamilyDrama #Friendship #Romance #Magic #Crime #UrbanFiction #Australia #Brisbane

Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious criminal for a babysitter. It’s not as if Eli’s life isn’t complicated enough already.

But Eli’s life is about to get a whole lot more serious. He’s about to fall in love. And he has to break into prison on Christmas Day, to save his mum.

A story of brotherhood, true love and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe will be the most heartbreaking, joyous and exhilarating novel you will read all year.

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I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction – Borough Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I’m always a little wary of critically acclaimed, and over-hyped books, often they are not as good as they are reputed to be. So I started this one with trepidation. Initial impressions are that is honest, raw, and full of experiences of urban life in Brisbane that do not make easy reading.

Eli and August, are brothers, their carers’ lives are driven by drugs, and the boys have to constantly battle adversity to keep the family together. Despite the family’s dysfunctionality, the love the boys feel for their mother and each other dominates this story and puts into perspective many of the bizarre and often frightening experiences they endure.

At the end of this lengthy book, there is a note from the author, about how the story came into being, what it means to him and the story’s themes. It is, on reading this that you appreciate, it is more of a memoir than fiction, although seen through a young child’s and then young boys eyes. I wish I’d read this note first because it grounds this complex story, and makes it more relatable.

There is a great deal of imagination in this story, magic if you like, which I attributed to a young boy’s need to escape from the harshness of his life, and give himself the power to overcome some its more sordid aspects.

I’m still not sure if I liked it, but the writing is engaging and authentic, the story moves forward in an understandable way, and it gives an insider view of Australian life, particularly life in Brisbane and Queensland, through a young person’s viewpoint.

The characters are the lifeblood of this story, and the author indicates that they are based on people he knows or a medley of them, in his personal and journalistic life. Many are not likeable, and the danger the children are exposed to is disturbing, but they are real, and the reality of this story is what stays with you.

An unusual tale of growing up and surviving life in a gritty urban setting. With a cast of characters, covering the spectrum of humanity, and the humour, love and magic required to reach adulthood.