Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man. She was the first of his victims but not the last. Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to catch the killer once and for all. The whole world is watching her every move. And so is the Magpie Man.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK Books in return for an honest review.
‘Are You Watching?’ has universal appeal for those drawn to page-turning reads. The social media and YouTube concept is aimed at young adults.
Jess hopes her story will attract a viral audience and draw out her mother’s killer. Told from her point of view, the reader has immediate and uncensored responses from the main protagonist. It also maintains the mystery, as we only know what she does. Relatable and realistic, Jess is a likeable character, with authentic teenage emotions and motivations.
This is an emotional story. Jess feels her mother’s loss but also griefs her family’s demise. Her father is an understandable emotional wreck and she is doing this for him as much as for herself. Parents may question, whether they would have allowed their teenager to do this. Jess’s father feels guilty about his daughter’s damaged life, and will make amends anyway he can.
The book’s structure of short chapters aids the pacing and suspense, which builds as the story progresses. The plot has twists and an unexpected ending.
This story has dark themes, but it is written to engage its target audience. Contemporary fiction focused on crime, relationships, suspense and technology, which will appeal to an older adult audience too.
Vincent Ralph has been writing in one form or another since his teens and always dreamed of being a novelist. He owes his love of books to his mother, who encouraged his imagination from an early age and made sure there were new stories to read. Vincent has lived in London, Cornwall and Chester but he now lives in his home county of Kent with his wife, son and two cats.
There’s only one way out from rock bottom and
that’s up, and Teri Meyer is finally crawling out from the worst time of her
life – no thanks to her best friend Lee. But no matter, she’s finally found
love – real love with a real man, a successful man, a man who accepts all her
flaws. Teri’s never felt like this before, and yet it’s changing her in ways
she doesn’t understand.
And there’s only one person who can help, one
person who truly understands Teri.
It seems that no matter how hard Lee Harper
tries, there’s a battle awaiting her at every turn these days, and she’s tired.
And as if she needs the extra stress, Teri continues to create constant and unnecessary
drama. But Lee’s the only one who really knows what’s going on under Teri’s
hard, convoluted exterior, and that’s why she’s always been there for her.
But the question is: will Teri be there when Lee
needs her most?
The brilliant and entertaining final book in the
unique FRIENDS trilogy dishes out another dose of rib-tickling mayhem for our
favourite thirty-something professional women.
A Forsaken Friend (book 2): 99c/p from November 18 – 25 (UK and US)Amazon UK Amazon
I received a copy of this book from the authors in return for an honest review.
It’s not always easy reading a book that is the last in a trilogy, but the inclusive writing style drew me in, from the first page, even though I didn’t know the characters and ethos of the series.
I didn’t instantly empathise with the characters, they seemed constantly at odds from the start of the book, behaving more like teenagers than adult women, but as I read on, more of their background emerged and the up and down nature of their relationship became clearer.
The story is told in the first person from both women’s points of view. Teri is forthright and appears to run from one crisis to the next. She often speaks before she knows the implications of what she is saying, and this trait is the crux of her current falling out with Lee.
Lee is gentler, a reflective thinker, and more aware of others, and how her behaviour affects them. She is the perfect sounding board for Teri, but understandably this becomes draining and tiresome occasionally. Lee’s current emotional turmoil makes her less sympathetic and the women’s friendship reaches a new low. Is it strong enough to continue? You’ll have to read this humorous, poignant story to find out.
This story will appeal to older women. Lee and Teri appear older than they apparently are. Family drama and dynamics are familiar and often funny. The vacillating friendship is well-written covering all the emotional nuances.
An enjoyable, unexpectedly good read.
Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape are both former newspaper journalists with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers and magazines and in public relations.
More recently they have worked in
higher education, teaching journalism – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at
Leeds Trinity University.
The pair, who have been friends for almost 30 years, wrote two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction (both published by Sage), before deciding to turn their hands to fiction.
The first novel in their Friends
series, A Falling Friend, was released in 2016. A Forsaken Friend followed
two years later, and the final book in the trilogy, A Forgiven Friend,
published on November 19.
Sue, who is married with two grown-up
daughters, and the most ‘gorgeous granddaughter in the whole world’, loves
reading, writing and Nordic walking in the beautiful countryside near her
Susan is married and lives in a
village near Leeds, and, when not writing, loves walking and cycling in the
Yorkshire Dales. She is also a member of a local ukulele orchestra.
Cosy up with the new novel in the Pudding Pantry series, full of love, laughter, kisses under the mistletoe, and plenty of delicious pudding!
The first snow is falling over Primrose Farm, the mince pies are warming, and Rachel can’t wait to share a kiss under the mistletoe with her gorgeous new flame, Tom.
If only it was all comfort and joy . . . The arrival of Tom’s ex brings an unwelcome chill to the farm. And despite Master Baker Mum Jill’s valiant efforts, the new pudding pantry business is feeling the pinch.
With a spoonful of festive spirit, a cupful of goodwill with friends, and her messy, wonderful family by her side, can Rachel make this a Christmas to remember?
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – One More Chapter in return for an honest review.
The Northumberland setting is perfect for a festive edition of the pudding pantry. It is idyllic in many ways, but this story serves up a healthy portion of real life, with its picture-postcard Christmassy setting, and lovely comforting puddings.
After finding friendship can turn to romance Rachel and Tom are hoping for some festive romance, but farming is hard particularly in the winter months, and the pudding pantry is not making enough money now the tourists have gone home. Long hours and financial worries, mean romance is low down on the list, and even time together is hard to find.
The reappearance of ex-partners ramps up the tension, and make a happy ever after for Rachel and Tom further away than ever. The strong relationship between Rachel and her mother, grandmother and young daughter is the foundation of this story and makes it such a pleasure to read.
The festive touches are lovely and coupled with the twelve, simple but delicious-sounding recipes, you can visualise Christmastime at Primose Farm.so well.
Resourcefulness and romance triumph in the perfect ending.
The Fourth Bake of Christmas
Blackberry and Apple Jam Sponge Pudding – Grandma Isabel’s Recipe, circa 1946 This handwritten poem had always been tucked into the Baking Bible as a loose-leaf next to a recipe of Rachel’s grandmother’s:
Autumn days, the sky a blue haze. Blackberry picking, Hedgerows thick with brambles, Watch out for the prickles. Purple-stained fingers and mouths, Ripe dark berries sweet with juice, Baskets laden. Ready for home, pass on to Mum, With crumbles, jams and puddings to come!
100g/4oz self-raising flour
Pinch of salt 100g/4oz caster sugar
100g/4oz butter 2 eggs, beaten
2tbsp whole milk
45ml/3tbsp homemade or good quality Blackberry and Apple Jam
(or another flavour if you prefer)
Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs a little at a time with a spoonful of flour, beating well until eggs are mixed in. Fold in remaining flour alternately with the milk. Grease and base-line a pudding basin, add the jam to the bottom. Spoon over the pudding mix up to ¾ full. Cover with buttered greaseproof paper, and secure with string. Using extra string to make a handle for ease of removal. Steam for 1 ½ to 2 hours in a covered pan of boiling water, keeping water topped up to halfway up the pudding bowl sides, until a wooden skewer comes out clean at centre. Allow to stand for 3 minutes before turning out.
Delicious with custard or cream.
Caroline Roberts lives in the wonderful Northumberland countryside with her husband and credits the sandy beaches, castles and rolling hills around her as inspiration for her writing. She enjoys writing about relationships; stories of love, loss and family, which explore how beautiful and sometimes complex love can be. A slice of cake, glass of bubbly and a cup of tea would make her day – preferably served with friends! She believes in striving for your dreams, which led her to a publishing deal after many years of writing.
Return to Porthmellow Harbour in this gorgeous festive romance.
Christmas in Cornwall is just around the corner…
But after last Christmas revealed a shocking family secret, Scarlett’s hardly feeling merry and bright. All she wants this Christmas is to know who her real father is.
So Scarlett heads to the little Cornish town of Porthmellow, where she believes the truth of her birth is hidden. She just didn’t bargain on being drawn into the Christmas festival preparations – or meeting Jude Penberth, whose charm threatens to complicate life further.
Everything will come to a head at Porthmellow’s Christmas Festival … But can Scarlett have the perfect Christmas this year, or are there more surprises on the way?
Curl up with this gorgeous novel and savour the world of Porthmellow Harbour.
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK in return for an honest review.
Christmas the time for family, friends, and memorable presents. Scarlett’s Christmas present last year resonates, but not in a good way. It revealed a family secret, and her family is still reeling from its impact.
She comes to Porthmellow Harbour to stay with her sister Ellie, and find some answers. Full of angst and family drama, this story follows Ellie and Scarlett as they both seek the happiness they deserve. The plot is full of clues, but like all good mysteries, most of these lead to nothing. It is poignant and sometimes humorous and full of romantic moments, It keeps you turning the pages, in anticipation right to the end, which is uplifting, whilst remaining believable.
The characters are full of flaws and so human, most of them are likeable, with one notable exception. This is a story of family, forgiveness and the importance of honesty.
The romance is gentle and full of conflicts, but both sisters have to learn to trust and accept, even the men of their dreams have flaws.
All the family drama plays out, in a lovely Cornish coastal setting, and the excitement and uniqueness of a pagan style festival.
A lovely, Cornish Christmas tale that leaves you feeling festive.
Phillipa Ashley is the author of a string of Amazon Top 10 and Bookseller Heatseekers N best-selling Cornish novels. Before she became a full-time writer, she studied English at Oxford and worked as a copywriter and journalist.
She also writes rom coms as Ashley Croft and steamy romance as Pippa Croft.
She lives in a Staffordshire village with her husband and has a grown-up daughter. When she’s not writing, she loves falling off surfboards and following Poldark around in a camper van.
Her latest release is A Perfect Cornish Summer is out now and is an Amazon Top 15 and Heatseekers number 1 best seller.
Leah Jensen, Yorkshire lass born and bred, needs money and she’ll do anything – yes, anything – to get it. Her Grandad Thomas is in pain and the cost of an operation on his bad knee is way beyond the family’s means. Leah tries everything to earn the fee – but in the end, and like so many before her, she turns to the world’s oldest profession. Madam Butterfly’s exclusive escort agency in London is a different world to where Leah comes from. In Whitby, the sea air is sweet, and legends of Dracula jostle with jet-mining and whaling history; it’s a place where dog lovers meet and tourists come to marvel at the views. Leah may be out of her comfort zone, but one daring, brief encounter will bring many surprises in this memorable romantic comedy full of pithy Yorkshire humour.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a humorous, romantic story, with complex characters, and a lovely northern ethos. Whilst there are aspects of this story that I love, there are a few I don’t. Some of the attitudes jar with twenty-first-century thinking. The length of the story is longer than it needs to be. It is written with maximum visual imagery, so the pace carries it along, despite the length, but a shorter story would work better. Most of the characters work well, but a few stereotypical traits are in evidence.
On the positive side, this is a heartwarming, humorous and hectic story, with a lovely main protagonist, Leah, and a cast of varied and interesting characters to compliment her. This is pure escapist reading, providing you accept this, it will be an enjoyable experience. There are many mentions of James Bond, and there are aspects of the story that mirror these stories, the intrepid heroine, the quirky sidekicks, and over the top villains, for example.
If you’re expecting to spend your time in Whitby, you may be disappointed, the historic seaside town does feature, but there is more action elsewhere. I would love to spend more time in the dog-friendly cafe.
An ideal read if you’re looking for something different in the romantic comedy genre.
Gracie Bond loves a good romantic comedy, either to read or to watch on Netflix. Her favourite go-to novel is (Pride and Prejudice)- and she’s always happy to watch (Bridgett Jones) any time of the day.
Among Gracie’s interests are Newfoundland dogs, horses, and handsome Yorkshire men. Her idea of fun would be to ride a spirited horse along a Northumberland beach, followed by a pack of her favourite dogs.
Gracie lives in Yorkshire with her partner John and she has close connections with Whitby, the setting for this novel.
As the snowflakes start to fall, Holly Cove welcomes a new tenant to the beautiful old cottage on the beach…
For lifestyle magazine journalist Tia Armstrong, relationships, as well as Christmas, have lost all their magic. Yet Tia is up against a Christmas deadline for her latest article ‘Love is, actually, all around…’
So, Tia heads to Holly Cove where the restorative sea air and rugged stranger, Nic, slowly but surely start mending her broken heart. Tia didn’t expect a white Christmas, and she certainly never dared dream that all her Christmas wishes might just come true…
Set in Caswell Bay on the stunningly beautiful Gower Coast, the cottage nestles amid the limestone cliffs and the woodlands, where the emotions run as turbulently as the wind-swept sea.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
If, like me, you’re a reader who likes to empathise with the story’s characters, feel every emotion, and experience something magical as you turn the pages this is the story for you.
Christmas has always been important to Tia, even when her life is hard, Christmas is time to celebrate and escape. After the death of her mother, Tia struggles to come to terms with her loss. Her job is busy, and she hopes this will get her through the grief that threatens to destroy her. Her latest assignment has her living in a picture-perfect cottage by the sea, the setting is breathtaking, and straight away she feels its healing presence. Life gets complicated, and she still has Christmas to face, but will Tia emerge stronger at the end of this experience?
The vividly described coastal setting comes alive the first time Tia visits the beach you can feel the sea spray on your face and appreciate the power of the sea. The characters are varied and realistically portrayed, you can imagine having a conversation with them. The perfectly orchestrated romance is lovely and gentle and full of magic in this poignant, story of coming to terms with life’s setbacks and valuing family and friendships. There are many lighthearted moments to offset the heartaches, rather like life itself.
A festive read that you can enjoy all year long with characters to treasure in a perfect Christmas card setting.
Interview Questions – Lucy Coleman – Snowflakes Over Holly Cove
Do you enjoy writing festive stories? If so why?
I’m lucky enough to have some truly wonderful childhood memories of Christmastime and when I had a family of my own, naturally I wanted my boys to have that, too. So, after I married, the wider family always came to our house. One year we even had to take off a door and turn it into a makeshift second table to fit everyone in! Memories like that are why I love it whenever Christmas features in a story of mine – it’s a magical time.
Festive stories are often written out of season, to fit in with publishing schedules, how do you get in the festive mood in the Summertime?
It’s always Christmas in my heart, so it’s easy. This summer I’ve been walking around singing and humming Christmas tunes as I write my Christmas 2020 novel. My family don’t think that’s strange for me. It does, however, see me counting down the months and wishing I could pop up to the loft and get out the trimmings!
What inspired you to write this story?
Whilst Holly Cove is a fictional place, the setting is real. Walking the headland between Caswell Bay and Langland Bay on the Gower coast is where I go to de-stress and relax. My husband and I stayed there in an apartment overlooking the sea almost ten years ago now and felt a real connection to the place. Like a spiritual home. On one of our walks, the idea popped into my head and when I sat down to write it, it virtually wrote itself.
When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?
It varies. My ideas are usually inspired by a one-liner thought. For Snowflakes over Holly Cove, it was the setting and the sense of healing I always feel whenever I’m in Caswell Bay. I found myself imagining a cottage, nestled in a tiny cove beyond the bay. Tia Armstrong’s story is about learning to focus on the happiness life can bring and the way a community pulling together has the power to heal. Kindness is all around us, but at Christmastime, many people go out of their way to share the joy. And that’s special.
What are the best things about Christmas for you? Is there anything about the festive season you don’t like? Why is this?
I love trimming up. Our trimmings are new, though, as on a recent house move some black sacks containing them were mistaken for rubbish and taken to the tip! It was gutting at the time, although most of the hand-made decorations made by our boys when they were young had already been handed back to them to grace their own trees.
So, it was new house, new decorations and as I’m not one to get attached to things, it simply meant a hurried trip to the shops. I’m rather minimalist, anyway, so it didn’t break the bank.
However, I’m not big on Christmas presents, to be very honest with you. I think it’s great for the kids and I love shopping for them – that’s a big part of my Christmas buzz. But as for the adults, I’d rather give money so they can treat themselves.
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
Having a hectic writing schedule, I don’t get as much time to read these days as I would like. But when I do relax with a book it has to have that ‘feel-good’ factor. With bad news constantly grabbing the headlines these days, the good news is often side-lined. I’m all about good karma and positivity, as a reminder that the good outweighs the bad. Acts of kindness are an inspiration and I’m all for a happy ending. There truly are a lot of those out there in real life and that’s a cause to celebrate!
What are you currently writing?
I’m a third of the way through my 2020 Christmas novel, so I’m in my happy place. But having flown off to Lisbon in May, that story is clamouring to be written. I need to keep stopping to scribble notes, as a new set of characters are making quite a bit of noise in my head. Guess I’m just going to have to write quicker!
Thank you so much for the invite, Jane – it’s always a real pleasure to be here!
Lucy lives in the Forest of Dean in the UK with her lovely husband and Bengal cat, Ziggy. Her novels have been shortlisted in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Lucy won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award
One December wedding. One
runaway bride. One winter’s day to bring everyone together again.
Today is the day Caro and Cammy are due to walk up the aisle.
But Caro’s too caught up in the trauma of her past to contemplate their happy
Stacey’s decision to return from L.A. is fuelled by one thing – telling Cammy how she feels before it’s too late.
Wedding planner, Josie, needs to sort the whole mess out, but she’s just been dealt some devastating news. Can she get through the day without spilling her secret? On a chilly winter’s day, they have twenty-four hours to prove that love can lead the way to a brighter future…
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review,
The last book in a memorable series is full of family and friends. Humour, lies and poignancy. Romance, secrets and serendipity. It all comes together beautifully.
Four lives change on one fateful day. The characters are complex and relatable. Like old friends you want them to work out their conflicts and get the best out of their lives.
Told from multi-points of view, you follow each character. The plot has many twists and turns. The reader is on an emotional rollercoaster throughout. The ending makes it all worthwhile, happy and hopeful.
A lovely winter escape, in a vibrant contemporary setting.
Guest Post – Shari Low – The Last Day of Winter
When I was a teenager, I used to think that by
the time I was an adult, I’d have life all figured out. I’d know what I was
doing. I’d be sorted. I’d exist in a bubble of confidence and be sure of my
destiny. I might even be – shock – wise.
Now? My grey hairs are running riot. A new wrinkle pops up every
morning. Several sections of my body are in a landslide situation.
And most of the time, I still have absolutely no idea what’s going
on and what’s around the corner.
But the silver lining to this cloud of unpredictability?
I can share it with the characters in my books.
The Last Day In Winter follows four lives that are precariously
balancing on shifting sands.
It opens on the day Caro is supposed to marry Cammy, but she wakes
up that morning with two things on her mind – a thumping hangover and a sinking
realisation that she can’t go through with the wedding.
Meanwhile, two planes carrying a whole heap of turmoil touch down at Glasgow airport.
Arriving from Spain is Seb, who has just found out his ex-girlfriend
had a child called Caro nine months later. Could he really have a daughter he
knew nothing about?
And from LA, TV presenter Stacey has one thing on her mind – telling
Cammy that he’s making a mistake marrying Caro.
The one person who will always have Caro’s back is her friend and
wedding planner, Josie. But Josie has just been dealt her own life-changing
blow that morning so she has her own troubles to sort out.
Caro. Seb. Stacey. Josie. Over the course
of the day, their lives will twist and turn, their fates will collide and we’ll
see that just like real life, none of them has it all sussed. None of them knows
what’s around the corner.
The only thing they know for sure is that
everything will have changed by the time they go to sleep on The Last Day of
Last Day Of Winter will be published by Aria on Oct 3rd.
Shari Low is the No1 best-selling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In Winter, A Life Without You, The Story Of Our Life, With Or Without You, Another Day In Winter and her latest release, This Is Me.
And because she likes to over-share toe-curling moments and hapless disasters, she is also the shameless mother behind a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. Once upon a time she met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband, a labradoodle, and two teenagers who think she’s fairly embarrassing except when they need a lift.