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

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

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

My Thoughts…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the extra little gift that the book delivers?

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

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

Extract From One Day In Winter – Shari Low

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe.

She still didn’t believe it to be true.

She must be wrong.

Mistaken identity.

Surely?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Historical Fiction

The Teacher at Donegal Bay Anne Doughty 4* #Review @HQDigitalUK #BlogTour #BookReview #bookbloggers #FamilyDrama #1968 #NorthernIreland #historicalfiction #Irish #Saga

When Jenny McKinstry is offered a new post as the Head of English at her Belfast school she’s elated! Yet she can’t help but feel conflicted about the position.

With all those around her mounting the pressure to start a family and her husband’s career about to take off, Jenny feels bound by an overwhelming sense of duty.

Will she be able to support her husband’s ambitions and land her dream job…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

A historical family drama set in Northern Ireland in 1968. It focuses on Jenny’s ambition to have a career in teaching, despite being married. She faces well-meaning and intrusive advice on how she should live her life. From those she trusts, and people in the wider community. The community is divided, sometimes families are divided because of the political climate, and maintaining old values assumes a disproportionate importance in this community.

The expectation that married woman should stay home and not pursue a career is the norm at this time, and Jenny is seen as a misfit, someone who wants to destroy the fabric of the community. Jenny is ambitious, brave and committed to her career, but will she sacrifice her friends, family and even her marriage to pursue her dream?

An emotional journey pathed with angst and prejudice, the characters are authentic and complex, and the plot is slow-paced and relentless. You empathise with Jenny and rile at her accusers, but the ending is hopeful.

A gritty and poignant story, which reflects the setting and time well, and demonstrates what it is like for a working wife in the 1960s, and the battles they endure to live life as they choose.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Festive Read, Friendship, Romance, Romantic Comedy

We Met in December Rosie Curtis 4*#Review @AvonBooksUK @karamina #Christmas2019 #FestiveRead #ChristmasinSeptember #romcom #Friends #Relationships #Romance #London #BookReview #bookbloggers #MondayBlogs

What if you couldn’t get away from the one who got away? 

Unlucky in love Jess is following her dream and moving to London. It’s December, and she’s taking a room in a crumbling Notting Hill house‐share with four strangers. On her first night, Jess meets Alex, the guy sharing her floor. They don’t kiss under the mistletoe, but as far as Jess is concerned, the connection is instant. She lets herself imagine how their relationship will grow over the following year.

But when Jess returns from a Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started dating someone else – beautiful Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into (hell, sharing a bathroom with) the man of her dreams… and the woman of his.

Jess is determined to move on and survive the next twelve months… but love has a way of hampering even the best-laid plans…

Set over the course of one life‐changing year, this is the most uplifting and moving love story of 2019.

Amazon UK

Waterstones

#WeMetDecember #BlogTour

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

My Thoughts…

So, my first festive book this year is ‘We Met In December’, to be strictly accurate, although Christmas features in this story at the beginning and at the end, it follows Jess and Alex’s emotional journey, month by month, after their initial meeting in December. Both are emotionally scarred from failed relationships, and childhoods, that were less than ideal, and so a serious romantic relationship is not what either is looking for.

When they meet in December, as new housemates in a household where a firm house rule is no couples, they ignore their initial attraction, both believing it is one-sided. Jess focuses on her new career and her two best friends. Alex focuses on his new vocation as a nurse, but he can’t resist a non-relationship with another housemate Emma.

The friendship that develops between Alex and Jess is gentle and lovely, they explore London together and find out what makes each other tick, but romance is denied by both of them. The travelogue through London is vividly portrayed and adds extra depth to the story.

Told from two points of view, there is a sense of dramatic irony. The reader knows what each character is feeling, but they are both in ignorance of the other’s regard. Most of the conflict to the romance is internal, from their past emotional baggage, but other well-meaning people provide external conflict, and you do wonder if they will be able to see, and more importantly act on what is right in front of them.

This is a lighthearted relationship story with a festive ambience. The ending is so romantic and leaves you with a heartwarming feeling.

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

A Question of Us Mary Jayne Baker 5* #Review @MaryJayneBaker @Aria_Fiction #RomCom #Yorkshire #PubQuiz #Romance #Humour #VillageLife #Friends #Family #Anxiety #Community #Relationships #BlogTour #BookReview #GuestPost #bookbloggers

#AQuestionofUs

Two best friends. Eight pub quizzes. One-shot at love…

There are some people who seem like they have all the answers in life. Clarrie Midwinter isn’t one of them.

At the age of 26, tomboy Clarrie is still struggling to become a ‘proper’ grown-up. She’s eternally strapped for cash, she hasn’t had a date in nearly a year and her attempts to quit smoking tend to take a nosedive after the second pint. Most annoyingly of all, her ladykiller best friend Simon just won’t stop asking her out. The only thing keeping her sane is her pub quiz team, the Mighty Morphin Flower Arrangers.

But when Simon bets her a date their team will win the quiz league, Clarrie is forced to confront what she really wants out of life – and love. Is it finally time for her to grow up?

Gloriously irreverent, badly behaved romantic comedy from the author of Meet Me at the Lighthouse.

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

MyThoughts…

Another original romantic comedy from the author, whose love of Yorkshire is evident from reading her believable, hilarious and romantic stories.

This story’s characters are the members of a pub quiz team, a quintessentially British pastime, ‘The Mighty Morphin Flower Arrangers’. A friends to lovers trope, this a gentle romance, despite the often raucous goings-on, and language that dominates the story.

Clarrie and Si have been friends since pre-school, Clarrie harbours a secret and inconvenient passion for her friend, who constantly asks her out, but never she believes in seriousness. She of course, always makes a joke of it and refuses. Now Si has changed the rules, he wants Clarrie to agree to a date if the team win the pub quiz league, what will she do?

The romance is predictably full of obstacles, most of which are Clarrie’s internal battle over her feelings and whether she is brave enough to take a chance on love. Suffering from anxiety issues that already make her life choices difficult, whether or not to risk the friendship they have, for something romantic is a major issue for Clarrie.

The village life experience is interwoven into the story, the gossip, the interfering, well-meant of course, and the secrets that everyone knows. The sense of community and the tight friendship amongst Clarrie and Si ‘s group are realistic and give this story depth and interest.

The romance although slow to start is lovely and worthwhile, enough to satisfy the romantics, and melt the cynics a little.

If you are unfamiliar with the author’s take on life in a Yorkshire village, this book is an experience you won’t forget, and for those of us, who are already fans, this is another great story full of fun, heartache, quirkiness and romance.

Guest Post – Mary Jayne Baker – A Question of Us

Maserati Tim’s Big Pub QuizMary Jayne Baker

In my new Yorkshire-set book A Question of Us, which is published this month, heroine Clarrie’s ladykiller best friend Simon bets her a date their team will win that year’s pub quiz league. As Simon starts putting every spare minute into trivia revision and their team The Mighty Morphin’ Flower Arrangers find themselves climbing up the leaderboard, Clarrie is forced to confront her true feelings for her oldest friend. It looks like Clarrie is going to lose the bet – the question is, does she want to?

To celebrate the release of A Question of Us, quizmaster Maserati Tim has put together twenty fiendish questions to test those little grey cells. Get yourself in the mood for a trivia-filled read below! Hint: you can find some of the answers in the book…

Questions

  1. What type of monkey commonly accompanied organ-grinders?
  2. What was the favourite food of Dandy cowboy Desperate Dan?
  3. By what name is the peace agreement reached in 1998 between the British and Irish governments commonly known?
  4. By what nickname was Louis Armstrong known?
  5. “The lighter way to enjoy chocolate” was an advertising slogan for which chocolate treat?
  6. What were the names of the seven dwarves in the Grimm Brothers fairytale Snow White?
  7. In 1951, which area became Britain’s first national park?
  8. Which persona did David Bowie retire in 1973?
  9. What animal has the Latin name ursus arctos horribilis?
  10. Which movie monster’s enemies include Mothra and King Ghidorah?
  11. Which king did Shakespeare refer to as the “bottled spider”?
  12. In 1477, King Edward IV ruled which traditional sport illegal?
  13. Which dinosaur’s name means “swift robber”?
  14. Who succeeded Richard II to the throne of England?
  15. Who was the fourth actor to play The Doctor in Doctor Who?
  16. James Hargreaves invented what piece of industrial equipment in 1764?
  17. Until the 1980s, which football team’s players were known as “The Biscuitmen”?
  18. Which planet in our solar system is the sixth furthest from the Sun?
  19. In the Old Testament, what were the names of Noah’s three sons?
  20. When sending an email, what do the initials BCC stand for?

So get reading ‘ A Question of Us’ this weekend, answers next Friday

#MaryJayneBaker

Mary Jayne Baker grew up in rural West Yorkshire, right in the heart of Brontë country… and she’s still there. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature, she dallied with living in cities including London, Nottingham and Cambridge, but eventually came back with her own romantic hero in tow to her beloved Dales, where she first started telling stories about heroines with flaws and the men who love them.

For those of you who had a go at Mary Jayne’s quiz, here are the answers.
  1. Capuchin
  2. Cow Pie
  3. The Good Friday Agreement
  4. Satchmo or Satchel Mouth
  5. Maltesers
  6. They weren’t given names
  7. The Peak District
  8. Ziggy Stardust
  9. Grizzly Bear
  10. Godzilla
  11. Richard III
  12. Cricket
  13. Velociraptor
  14. Henry IV
  15. Tom Baker
  16. The Spinning Jenny
  17. Reading
  18. Saturn
  19. Shem, Ham and Japheth
  20. Blind carbon copy
Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Mystery, Romance

Buried Treasure – Gilli Allan 4* #Review @gilliallan @rararesources #BlogTour #Romance #Mystery #Friendship

Their backgrounds could hardly be further apart, their expectations in life more different. And there is nothing in the first meeting between the conference planner and the university lecturer which suggests they should expect or even want to connect again. But they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. Both have unresolved issues from the past which have marked them; both have an archaeological puzzle they want to solve. Their stories intertwine and they discover together that treasure isn’t always what it seems.

Amazon UK

Amazon

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

My Thoughts…

I love to read something a little different, this story is a mix of genre, there is a gentle romance. which is slow-burning, ridden with internal obstacles to its success. There is a mystery, with historical roots, that draws the couple together, when it seems, in the beginning, they have nothing in common, except that they irritate each other. There is also a strong emotional thread in this story, as the first part of the book reveals, why Theo and Jane are unwilling to trust again, this poignancy makes the characters easier to empathise.

The believable setting is contemporary and well researched, and has intrinsic interest. Your primary focus is always on Jane and Theo in this character-driven story. The subsidiary characters both past and present are complex and realistic. The flaws and emotional baggage carried by the two protagonists make them authentic.

An easy to read, engaging romance with an intriguing mystery set against a politicised contemporary background.

Gilli Allan began to write in childhood – a hobby pursued throughout her teenage. Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real-life supplanted the fiction.

After a few false starts, she worked longest and most happily as a commercial artist, and only began writing again when she became a mother. 

Living in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has now moved into book illustration.

Currently published by Accent Press, each of her books, TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY or FALL has won a ‘Chill with a Book’ award.

Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams, is also a writer. His most recent work, published by William Collins, is ‘Viking Britain’.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Romance

I Can’t Tell You Why – Elaine Robertson North @RobbieNorth @rararesources #ContemporaryFiction #Romance #Relationships #Media #Secrets #Lies #Guilt #Celebrity #3* #Review #BlogTour

Having an affair is inconceivable to Dani and yet she’s having one with Alex. He’s married, he’s an actor and she’s his agent.

Then Dani meets Sean, a paparazzi photographer with a formidable reputation. It’s a profession that makes him unpredictable at best. A dangerous trait when his motivation to expose becomes personal.

Dani knows she’s made mistakes. She also knows she’s not the first person who wilfully hurt someone they love and is simply unable to explain why.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

An interesting exploration of celebrity, life as a media agent and a romantic love triangle. The detail in this novel is clearly well- researched, it makes the story authentic. However, it lacks the in-depth characterisation that would give it emotional weight.

It’s easy to read, and interesting. The themes of celebrity, the invasion of privacy and the blurring of professional relationships, are emotional topics. I know the characters suffered, were challenged and confused, but I didn’t feel their pain.

An interesting foray into the media world, perfect for those who enjoy plot rather than character-driven stories.

Elaine spent 25 years working in marketing and communications in the media and entertainment industries. This included seven years marketing national newspapers and a variety of senior executive roles in TV, radio and film. I Can’t Tell You Why is her first novel.

Elaine lives in North London with her husband and their two sons. When she’s not writing, she can be found looking harassed on the school run, cheering on the sidelines of her sons’ football matches or singing her heart out at her local branch of Popchoir. Facebook Instagram Twitter

Giveaway to Win 5 x paperback copies of I Can’t Tell You Why (Open Internationally)

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Posted in Book Review, Domestic Thriller, Friendship, Noir, Psychological Thriller

The Missing Wife – Sam Carrington @AvonBooksUK @sam_carrington1 #PsychologicalThriller #FamilyDrama #DomesticThriller #Noir #FridayReads

Imagine turning up to your own party, and recognising no one. Your best friend has just created your worst nightmare.

Louisa is an exhausted, sleep-deprived new mother and, approaching her fortieth birthday, the very last thing she wants to do is celebrate.

But when her best friend Tiff organises a surprise party, inviting the entire list of Lou’s Facebook friends, she’s faced with a new source of anxiety altogether: a room full of old college classmates who she hasn’t spoken to in twenty years. And one person, in particular, she never expected to see again is there – her ex-boyfriend from college, the handsome and charismatic Oliver Dunmore.

When Oliver’s wife Melissa goes missing after the party, everyone remembers what happened that night differently. It could be the alcohol, but it seems more than one person has something to hide.

Louisa is determined to find the truth about what happened to Melissa. But just how far does she need to look…?

One simple Facebook invitation unfolds into something both tragic and monstrous; a story of obsessive love, breath-taking deception and masterful manipulation.

Amazon UK

Waterstones

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

My Thoughts…

Like many psychological thrillers, this one has a strong family drama theme. Written in the third person from Louisa’s point of view, it focuses almost exclusively on her emotions, motivations, observations and thoughts, This does mean that the other characters in the story fade into to the background, even though they are in many cases key to the storyline.

Louisa is an unreliable protagonist, sleep-deprived, looking after a young baby. She may also be suffering from postnatal depression, but because everything is seen from her point of view, and she has no insight into her mental health, this possibility is alluded to, but not explored. Diagnosed with dissociative amnesia, where the person cannot recall personal information, not explained by ordinary forgetting, usually triggered by trauma or extreme stress.

The plot is for the most part believable, the pacing varies, but you are drawn into Lousia’s story. How much of it is in her mind? Is her paranoia, justified, or a symptom of her mental state? Despite her unreliability, I did sympathise with Louisa. The remainder of the characters, could all be guilty of something, with the exception of Emily her teenage daughter, who I also like, especially as she realises how fragile her mother is, as the story progresses, and supports her, the best she can.

The clues and the misinformation are integrated into the plot well, but they didn’t surprise me. The final few chapters are bizarre, but not unimaginable, who knows what they would do in those circumstances?