Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Humour, Literary Humour, New Books, Parenting and Famlies, Romance

Woman of a Certain Rage Georgie Hall 5*#Review @GeorgieHallUK @AriaFiction @HoZ_Books #WomanofaCertainRage #Women #Ageing #Menopause #humour #loss #repost #BookReview #paperback #publicationday

Eliza is angry. Very angry, and very, very hot.

Late for work and dodging traffic, Eliza’s still reeling from the latest row with her husband Paddy. Twenty-something years ago their eyes met over the class divide in oh-so-cool Britpop London, but these days their eyes only meet to bicker over the three-seat sofa.

Paddy seems content filling his downtime with canal boats and cricket, but Eliza craves the freedom and excitement of her youth. Being fifty feels far too close to pensionable, their three teenage children are growing up fast, and even the dog has upped and died. Something is going to have to change—menopause be damned!

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

My Thoughts…

This story captures the essence of what it’s like for most women growing older, with a wealth of experience and knowledge but not to be seen. Eliza’s story immerses the reader in a myriad of emotions, there are many hilarious moments, but these are tempered by the fear, poignancy and the sense of loss.

Eliza is menopausal and suffering. Her body is unrecognisable, life’s pleasures seem a distant memory, and everyone appears to be getting on with their lives without her. This is an entertaining read written in an engaging but relatable way. It explores many issues that women at this stage of their life face.

It’s an easy read and will appeal to many women of a certain age.

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, New Books, Paranormal, Romance

The Belladonna Maze Sinéad Crowley 5* #Review @SCrowleyAuthor @SineadCrowley @HoZ_Books #literaryfiction #dualtimeline #gothic #fantasy #mystery #romance #histfic #TheBelladonnaMaze #IrishFiction #supernatural #BookReview

An old house can hold many secrets. Hollowpark in the west of Ireland certainly does. At the heart of the gardens is an intricate maze, named after a deadly poison, Belladonna. If you know the way through, it’s magical, a hiding place and playground like no other. If you don’t, it’s a place of fear and sinister riddles, where a young girl once went missing and was never seen again.

Grace comes to Hollowpark as a nanny for young Skye FitzMahon. Soon the mysterious past of Hollowpark has seduced her. Who is the woman she sometimes glimpses in an upstairs window? Or the apparition who keeps showing up unexpectedly, pleading, ‘Find me.’ And how can she fight her growing attraction to Skye’s father?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

My Thoughts…

Beginning with a telling incident in The Belladonna Maze in 1825, this story alternates between the nineteenth century and 2007. It is an absorbing medley of literary fiction with gothic and supernatural elements.

Lyrical and full of vibrant characters and vivid imagery, the story weaves its magic on the reader, immersing them in the maze and its secrets. It reads like a contemporary fairytale, and the reader is never sure what is fact and what is fantasy. Belladonna is known for its hallucinatory effects.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Historical Fiction, New Books, Parenting and Famlies, Romance

The Secrets of Summer House Rachel Burton 5*Review @RachelBWriter @AriaFiction #TheSecretsofSummerHouse @HoZ_Books #family #secrets #relationships #loss #mothersanddaughters #mentalhealth #Romance #BlogTour #BookReview

The secrets of Summer House are about to come out at last…

1976. Rushing out of the University Library, undergraduate Alice Kenzie bumps straight into PhD student Tristan Somers. There begins a whirlwind romance, and Alice falls pregnant and gives birth to a baby girl. Then Tristan is killed in a car accident. Unable to cope, Alice takes her baby to Summer House, Tristan’s family home in Suffolk, leaves her there and disappears.

2018. Olivia Somers has always been told that her mother died in the same accident as her father. But when she finds a bundle of old letters in Summer House, everything she ever believed about her mother is called into question. Can she find her – and even more importantly, forgive her?

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I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus- Aria via NetGalley.

My Thoughts…

Atmospheric, emotional and full of well-crafted characters, this dual timeline novel grips the reader from the first page and immerses them in the two hot summers of 1976 and 2018. Both stories are intriguing, and they give the reader insight into both women’s emotions and lives. There is an underlying mystery that weaves itself around the house, an immersive setting in both timelines.

Character-driven this story explores familial relationships and mental health issues and the differences in acceptance, attitudes and expectations in 1976 and 2018. There are many poignant scenes in both Alice’s and Olivia’s lives. Olivia’s quandary over whether to look for her mother and her feelings towards her are particularly emotional.

The passion and romance shine through in each woman’s life, as do the tragic events. I enjoyed the characters’ authenticity and the details and sensory imagery that bring this story to life.

Rachel Burton

Rachel Burton has been making up stories for as long as she can remember and always dreamed of being a writer until life somehow got in the way. After reading for a degree in Classics and another in English Literature she accidentally fell into a career in law, but eventually managed to write her first book on her lunch breaks. Now she writes from a small bedroom looking out over hydrangeas, lavender bushes and rambling roses, in a little house in Yorkshire that she shares with her husband and their three cats. She loves words, Shakespeare, tea, The Beatles, dresses with pockets and very tall romantic heroes (not necessarily in that order).

Find her on Instagram as @RachelBWriter or follow her blog at rachelburtonwrites.com.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Mystery, New Books, Romance

Six Days Dani Atkins 5#Review @AtkinsDani @AriaFiction @HoZ_Books #BlogTour #BookReview #Romance #Wedding #Friendship #loss #love #Family #mystery #SixDays

Two people. One love story. Six days.

Gemma knows that she and Finn are destined to be together. They are soulmates. But then, on their wedding day, he never arrives at the church.

Gemma is convinced Finn wouldn’t abandon her like this, even though he has disappeared once before. But back then he had a reason. She feels sure something terrible has happened, but no one else is convinced. Even the police aren’t concerned, telling Gemma most people who disappear usually turn up in a week… assuming they want to be found, that is.

For the next six days, Gemma frantically searches for Finn, even though every shocking revelation is telling her to give up on him. Before long, even she begins to doubt her own memories of their love.

How long can she hold on to her faith in Finn if everyone is telling her to let him go?

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I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus – Aria.

My Thoughts…

Gemma and Finn are soulmates, at least that’s what she believes even when he fails to turn up for their wedding—told in a dual timeline from their first meeting to the days after the wedding that never was. It’s a tumultuous journey that encompasses many emotions that immerse the reader in Gemma and Finn’s story.

Gemma is a lovely character, driven, loyal and loving of everything she cares about, and Finn is at the top of her list. Her relationships with her father and best friend are strong, but her heart belongs to Finn, and this is clear with every page turned in this engaging read.

The plot is intricate, and the mystery of what happened to Finn remains until the final chapters. The author creates believable characters, and original scenarios capture the reader’s interest. I enjoyed the element of mystery, the strong friendship and familial connection, and especially the love that binds Gemma and Finn, making this an epic romance.


Dani Atkins is an award-winning novelist. Her 2013 debut Fractured (published as Then and Always in North America) has been translated into 18 languages and has sold more than half a million copies since its first publication in the UK. Dani is the author of four other bestselling novels, two of which, This Love and A Sky Full of Stars, won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award, in 2018 and 2022 respectively. Dani lives in a small village in Hertfordshire with her husband, one Siamese cat and a very soppy Border Collie. Follow Dani on Twitter @AtkinsDani

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

My Thoughts…

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, New Books, Parenting and Famlies, Romance

A Village Secret Julie Houston 5* #Review @JulieHouston2 @HoZ_Books @AriaFiction #Family #Friendship #Romance #relationships #Secrets #Village #Community #AVillageSecret

When Jennifer goes up to Cambridge University with her head full of the Romantic Poets, she never dreams that she will find her very own Byron. But then she meets gorgeous actor Laurie Lewis and finds herself living a real-life love poem.

Fifteen years and two children later, Jennifer and Laurie’s relationship is starting to feel more like an epic tragedy. After a series of revelations turn her world upside down, Jennifer will do anything to keep her family together – even if it means moving hundreds of miles away to Laurie’s childhood home in Westenbury, Yorkshire.

As she reluctantly enters into village life – complete with interfering in-laws, new friends and a surprise delivery of alpacas – Jennifer is amazed to find herself feeling happy for the first time in years. But the village holds one last, devastating secret and Jennifer must decide once and for all what she wants her future to hold.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from ‘Head of Zeus – Aria.

My Thoughts…

Jennifer met Laurie at Cambridge in her final year. An English Literature student, she is obsessed with the romantic poets, particularly Byron, and when she first sees Laurie, for her, he is Bryon personified. Laurie has northern roots, hence the connection with Westenbury, but his looks are his only saving grace. He values only himself. Jennifer is besotted, and her life becomes inevitably intertwined with Laurie’s. The connections with Westenbury are initially tenuous, but heading north is the only way to survive as a family when their life implodes.

I enjoyed reading about flawed characters, even Laurie, who is almost impossible to like. It is frustrating to see how Jennifer gives up her life to Laurie but rewarding when with the help of new friends and family, she realises what he truly is and realises her worth.

The village weaves its addictive mix of community, humour and romance into a story with surprising twists, keeping the reader engaged and satisfied.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Literary Fiction, New Books, Suspense

The Choice S.J. Ford 4*#Review @thechoiceauthor @HoZ_Books #TheChoice #LiteraryThriller #CrimeFiction #MoralDilemma #psychologicalfiction @ariesfiction

The Husband.
The Lawyer.
The Detective.
The Journalist.
The Murderer.
You are the jury.

When Jane Bell uncovered that her next-door neighbour planned to blow up their local primary school, she tried to get the police to listen to her. When they chose to do nothing, she took matters into her own hands.
Jane Bell saved the children. She is a hero. She stopped a terrorist attack. She murdered a man. Jane Bell committed a crime, and no matter what her reasons are she must face the legal repercussions of her actions.
Now several people follow Jane’s case, each with their own thoughts on what happened. Is Jane the hero or the villain? It’s up to you to decide.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The Choice blends literary and legal fiction with psychological elements. Told from several interesting viewpoints, many of whom are unreliable protagonists. The main protagonist kills a man she believes is a domestic terrorist. The story explores what led to Jane’s action and the legal redress for her alleged crime. Moral justice versus legal justice is a predominant theme here, and it forces the reader to ask, what if it was me?

Creative and plausible, this is an immersive read. The pace slows with detailed narrative at the expense of characterisation, but it’s compelling, and you keep turning the pages to find out what happens.

SJ Ford is twenty-six years old and lives in the Cheshire countryside. She currently works in online marketing and writes part-time – gathering the quirky, emotional and problematic to feed her imagination and unleash her pen. She has a Golden Retriever that she relishes going on adventures with, a horse that lets her fly, and her favourite place is Cemaes Bay on Anglesey. The Choice is SJ’s debut novel in this genre.

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery, New Books

The Trust M.H. Eccleston (Astrid Swift, 1) 5*#Review @MarkEccleston1 @HoZ_Books @AriesFiction #TheTrust #AstridSwift #CozyMystery #MurderMystery #Dorset #BookReview

Ever so wholesome.
Ever so deadly…

When a local man is found murdered in an English Trust stately home, the community is shaken to its core.

None more so than newcomer Astrid Swift, who finds the body. When she moved from London to the sleepy Dorset village and got a job at the house as an art restorer, she thought she was heading for a quieter life.

Far from it. Because it turns out that rather than being the genteel organisation it seems on the surface, the Trust is a hotbed of politics and intrigue. As Astrid’s new friend Kath from the village says: ‘It’s like the mafia, but with scones.’

As the suspicious deaths mount up and the threat draws closer, Astrid must use every gadget in her restorer’s toolkit to solve the mystery, save her reputation – and maybe even her life.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus-Aries via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Whilst this story undoubtedly has the cosy mystery vibe. Astrid Swift doesn’t immediately strike the reader as the quirky amateur sleuth persona essential in this type of mystery. A successful fine art restorer working in a high profile gallery., Astrid enjoys her life until a. chance discovery forces a rethink. Astrid finds herself in coastal Dorset, discovering the legacy left to her by her favourite uncle.

As she sheds her city glamour, a new Astrid emerges, and she is a charming blend of astute, funny and vulnerability. The people she meets are flawed but believable characters, and she soon realises these are people she can trust. Discovering a body turns her into an amateur sleuth determined to find the truth whatever the risk to her safety.

There is an excellent cast of suspects in a twisty plot with pleasing original touches. Astrid’s emotional journey of self-realisation explores controlling relationships and gives the female protagonist positive character development.

The story has lots of humour, a sound mystery and a believable emotional quality that makes it engaging reading. I look forward to Astrid’s next adventure.

M.H. Eccleston

M.H. Eccleston has had a fairly meandering career – starting out as a radio presenter for the BBC, then staying at the Beeb as a journalist and producer for six years. After that, it’s a bit of a blur – he spent a couple of decades, at least, freelancing as a foreign correspondent, TV presenter, voice-over artist and film critic. For the last few years, he’s been a full-time screenwriter and now novelist, with some wildlife gardening in the summer to keep himself sane and pay the bills.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, New Books, Romance

The Wedding Dress Dani Atkins 4*#Review @AtkinsDani @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #Author #Interview Q&A #BlogTour #BookReview #Romance #Women #Friendship #Family #uplit #Relationships #paperback #TheWeddingDress

From bestselling author Dani Atkins, a new collection of three irresistible love stories, all linked by one very special dress.

Suzanne is engaged to be married to the man of her dreams – except the lead up to her wedding is beginning to feel more like a nightmare. Can Suzanne uncover the truth about her fiancé ahead of her big day?

Bella’s life was on track until the day of the hen party when everything changed. Now she must find the strength to rebuild her future – and decide who she wants to spend it with.

Mandy’s grandmother has fallen in love but her family don’t approve. For her grandmother’s dreams to come true, Mandy has a secret wedding to plan, and a very special dress to find.

These are the three strangers whose stories are about to be woven together by one perfect wedding dress.

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Q & A: Dani Atkins -The Wedding Dress

Which comes first when you are creating your story, characters, plot or setting? Why is this?

For me, it’s always the plot that sparks a story. The idea for many of my books has begun with a simple question: ‘I wonder what would happen if…?’ Sometimes the ideas come from a real-life event I’ve read or heard about, but they could just as easily pop up from anywhere. Most of them lead to nothing, but if you’re lucky you’ll stumble upon one that gets its hooks in you and refuses to let go. That’s the one you don’t ignore.

What are the inspirations for this story?

The inspiration for The Wedding Dress came from my fascination (my husband would call it obsession) with the many television programs devoted to weddings and bridal gowns. If it weren’t for Don’t Tell the Bride, I Found the Gown, Curvy Brides’ Boutique and Say Yes to the Dress I might never have had the idea for this book. But once it was in my head, there was no shaking it off. One dress, three different brides, three love stories. I was already planning the weddings and couldn’t wait to invite readers to join me.

How do you make your dialogue authentic?

I love writing dialogue because that’s when your characters truly come alive. When reading, good dialogue is the thing that keeps me hooked to a book, rather than long descriptive passages – however beautifully they might be written. There’s only one way to ensure your dialogue sounds authentic and that’s to say it out loud. I’ve got into the habit of reading my work out loud at the end of each day and it’s a great way of immediately spotting when something works and also when it sounds clunky or out of character.

Why do you enjoy writing romantic fiction?

Although I enjoy reading a variety of genres, romantic fiction is the one I will always gravitate towards. I love it for the escapism it offers and for the joy of having a front-row seat as a love story unfolds before you.
The last few years have been very strange for everyone and when life seemed bleak thank goodness there were books – and in particular romantic fiction – to help us to escape it, if only for a little while.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard for aspiring writers is to ‘write the book you would like to read’. So that’s what I do.

Describe ‘The Wedding Dress’ in five words and say why they epitomise your story.

Love. Friendship. Family. Loyalty. Hope.
To me, these are the ingredients of not just a good story, but of a good life.

Can you share what the best things about being a writer are?

The best part of this job is doing something for a living that you would choose to do as a hobby. I don’t think you can – or should – ever consider writing a book to earn a great deal of money because that literary jackpot only happens to a very small select group of authors. But being in the fortunate position of being paid for something you love doing, is a privilege and one I will never take for granted.

Aside from the pleasure of writing, my greatest joy is connecting with readers. When someone tells me that they were up until 3 o’clock in the morning, because they simply couldn’t stop reading my book, or cried on the train while reading it, it is the best reward in the world.

What are you currently writing?

I have recently finished working on my next book Six Days which will be published in the spring of 2022 and am about to begin my next project which – unbelievably – will be my tenth book. This feels like a real milestone moment on a journey I still can’t quite believe I’ve been lucky enough to have taken.

Dani Atkins January 2022


Dani Atkins is an award-winning novelist. Her 2013 debut Fractured (published as Then and Always in North America) has been translated into 18 languages and has sold more than half a million copies since its first publication in the UK. Dani is the author of four other bestselling novels, one of which, This Love, won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 2018. Dani lives in a small village in Hertfordshire with her husband, one Siamese cat and a very soppy Border Collie. Follow Dani on Twitter @AtkinsDani

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

My Thoughts…

Three different love stories exploring relationships. This explores love in all its forms engagingly. The connection between the three stories is the wedding dress. The characters’ stories are individual, but each has a link to the other. Believable characters, emotional stories and a magical connection make this a lovely uplifting read.

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

Game of Hearts (Sampler) Katy Moran 5*#Review #KatyMoran @HoZ_Books #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance #AlternativeHistory #NineteenthCentury #Cornwall #London #MiniReview #GameofHearts

Thrilling Regency romance, set in a Bridgerton-style world.

1817 Cornwall and London

Heir to an aristocratic family scorched by scandal and scarred by war, the Earl of Lamorna (known to friends as Crow) is as dangerous as he is self-destructive. As a spy, he treads a fine line between loyalty and treachery, with a haunting secret in his past that threatens to destroy not only Crow himself but those he loves. It’s only going to take a single spark to set his world aflame. So when Crow’s wild and impetuous young brother catches him in flagrante with their widowed stepmother, a lethal chain of events is set in motion.

Heiress Hester Harewood has problems of her own, on the run from the men who shot her father. The last thing she needs is to get involved with a complicated aristocrat, even if he does offer her his unconditional protection. But who is more dangerous? Those she is running from? Or Crow himself: charismatic, unpredictable, and yet with the capacity for such tenderness that Hester’s heart is in just as much danger as her life.

Game of Hearts was previously published as False Lights by K.J. Whittaker and on Kindle as Hester and Crow by Katy Moran.

Amazon UK

Katy Moran’s Regency Romance Trilogy features Game of Hearts, Wicked by Design and Scandalous Alchemy.

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

My Thoughts…

Having read the other two books in this trilogy, I enjoyed reading the six chapters of the first book in the series. Set in 1817 in an alternative history world where Bonaparte, not Wellington, won the Battle of Waterloo. The story introduces the main characters and hints at what motivates them. An intricate historical is vividly described,.and Hester and Crow’s chemistry is evident. This is a tempting sample of Game of Hearts.

I am currently reading the remainder of the book on Kindle Unlimited.