Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Humour, Romance, Romantic Comedy

The First Date Zara Stoneley 5* #Review @0neMoreChapter_ @ZaraStoneley #Romance #RomCom #BlogTour #BookReview #TheFirstDate @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources #MondayBlogs #MondayMotivation

Right place.
Right time.
Wrong guy …

After breaking up with her childhood sweetheart, clueless dater Rosie has found herself in a boyfriend-drought. So when she finally swipes right on a guy who seems interested, she can’t wait to meet up IRL.

​Until she’s left standing alone. In a bar. Ghosted.

Enter Noah. Confident, funny … and a serial first dater. Offering to give Rosie a crash course in seduction, this could be just what she needs. Until her matchmaker turns out to be the best date she’s ever had – and Rosie wonders if she wants the fake dates to be the real ones after all …

A hilarious, heartwarming romantic comedy about what happens when the wrong guy turns up at the right time.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from One More Chapter in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts

There is always an original zany charm in Zara Stoneley’s novels. Rosie is determined to end her boyfriendless state and turns to an online dating app because she’s a modern girl and knows that’s where she’ll meet the man of her dreams. Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, things do not go to plan, and she ends up embarrassingly alone at the bar. Noah never a man to miss an opportunity moves in for the charm offensive, and the two hit it off, as friends when he agrees to give out of practice Rosie, lessons on first dates.

What follows is often amusing, sometimes poignant and gently romantic. Rosie has issues about her father, which dominates her life, and stops her from being the person she could be. The characters are quirky but believable, and the plot has a few surprises.

Zara Stoneley

Zara Stoneley is the USA Today bestselling author of ‘The Wedding Date’.

She lives in a Cheshire village with her family, a lively cockapoo called Harry, and a very bossy (and slightly evil) cat called Saffron.

Born in a small village in the UK, Zara wanted to be a female James Herriot, a spy, or an author when she grew up. After many (many) years and many different jobs, her dream of writing a bestseller came true. She now writes about friendship, dreams, love, and happy ever afters, and hopes that her tales make you laugh a lot, cry a little, and occasionally say ‘ahhh’.

Zara’s bestselling novels include ‘Bridesmaids’, ‘No One Cancels Christmas’, ‘The Wedding Date’, ‘The Holiday Swap’, ‘Summer with the Country Village Vet’, ‘Blackberry Picking at Jasmine Cottage’ and the popular Tippermere series – ‘Stable Mates’, ‘Country Affairs’ and ‘Country Rivals’.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Bookstagram, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour

Daisy J.P.Henderson 4* #Review @noexitpress #RandomThingsTours @annecater #LiteraryFiction #friendship #Love #Life #travel #BlogTour #BookReview #Paperback #DaisyBook

MEET DAISY. A PICTURE OF GRACE AND DIGNITY.

MEET HEROD. A… DISAPPOINTMENT.

Written in his own words, and guided by a man who collects glasses in a local pub, this is the story of Herod ‘Rod’ Pinkney’s search for Daisy Lamprich, a young woman he first sees on a decade-old episode of the Judge Judy Show, and who he now intends to marry.

When Daisy is located in the coastal city of Huntington Beach, California, he travels there with his good friend and next-door neighbour, Donald, a man who once fought in the tunnels of Cu Chi during the Vietnam War and who now spends most of his time in Herod’s basement.

Herod is confident that the outcome will be favourable, but there’s a problem… Will the course of true love ever run smoothly for this unlikely hero?

A funny and touching story of an improbable and heart-warming quest to find true love

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from no exit press in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

If you like character-driven literary humour, with personable characters and a quirky, lighthearted yet sometimes poignant and satirical plot Daisy will please you. Herod or Rod is an enigma. After being a disappointment to those who should care for him, he is now happy with his life and content to just live. His two friends are equally quirky. Setting out on a quest for true love is out of Herod’s comfort zone. Seeing Daisy on TV changes everything for him and his story is funny, romantic and a little sad.

This story has many tangents, not all of them relevant to the quest, but all pertinent to Herod. This story has an immersive quality, told from Herod’s point of view. Something different, engaging and humorous, with a character who resonates.

J.P. Henderson

J P HENDERSON is the author of three previous novels including Last Bus to Coffeeville, which was selected for World Book Night and longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award. By nature an internationalist, he lives in a cul-de-sac in West Yorkshire for practical reasons.

noexit.co.uk/j-p-henderson

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Humour, Mystery

A Thoughtful Woman K.T. Findlay 4*#Review #TheSallyMellorsAdventures @Ktfindlay #MurderMystery #CrimeFiction #BlogTour @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources #BookReview

Artist Sally Mellors has planned the perfect revenge, but with two secret agents on her tail, and her best friends running the police investigation, getting away with murder is going to be tricky… 
Everybody loves Sally. She’s a funny, generous, warm hearted friend, without a nasty bone in her body. 
Isn’t she? 
Unknown to her friends, Sally’s discovered another side to herself, cool headed and relentless, as she hunts down the three men who killed her husband. 
But Sally’s not the only one with an interest in the trio. Unknown to her, two agents have arrived in town, urgently hunting a missing man and his diary, which could blow their organisation apart. Their best leads are the very men that Sally’s hunting, and she’s getting in the way…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This type of revenge killing murder mystery depends on, the charisma and cleverness of the main protagonist. Sally Mellors is intelligent and after the death of her husband driven to seek revenge on his conspirators involved in his death. Emma has also similarly lost her husband, and Sally seeks her out and suggests they seek revenge together.

The plot is pacy, after the initial world-building and characterisation. There are plenty of adrenaline-fueled action scenes and a plot with the necessary twists. Two mystery men seeking an unknown man, increase the suspense.

This story is bizarre at times, but this quirk adds to the story’s eighties retrospective feel.

A good escapist read.

K.T.Findlay

K.T. Findlay lives on a small farm where he dovetails his writing with fighting the blackberry and convincing the quadbike that killing its rider isn’t a vital part of its job description.

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Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Guest post, Holiday Romance, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Travel

My Greek Island Summer Mandy Baggot 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @mandybaggot @HoZ_Books #Romance #HolidayRomance #RomCom #Greece Friendship #Relationships #GreekIslands #Corfu #Travel #BlogTour #BookReview #GuestPost #MandyBaggot20

Becky Rose has just landed her dream job house-sitting at a top-end villa on the island of Corfu. What could be better than six weeks laying by an infinity pool overlooking the gorgeous Ionian waters while mending her broken heart.

Elias Mardas is travelling back to Corfu on business whilst dealing with his own personal demons. Late arriving in Athens, Becky and Elias have to spend a night in the Greek capital. When they have to emergency land in Kefalonia, Becky’s got to decide whether to suck up the adventure and this gorgeous companion she seems to have been thrown together with or panic about when she’s going to arrive at Corfu…

Finally reaching the beautiful island, Becky is happy to put Elias behind her and get on with her adventure. Until he turns up at the villa…

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

My Thoughts…

Becky wants more than working in a sandwich business. She’s creative and clever but is gradually losing her sense of self, by keeping quiet and hiding her talents. The chance to housesit in Corfu, is too good an opportunity, to miss, even though it strains her sibling relationship. This is a gently paced book. You get to know Becky before she sets off on her adventure. Unexpected events make the flights more adventurous than expected, and Becky meets two fellow travellers, full of emotional angst and secrets.

With lovingly described settings, the story has an authentic sense of place. The emotional plot combines friendship, humour, poignancy and romance, in a relatable way. Complex, flawed and unique characters, complement a gently paced, detailed plot. Unexpected twists keep you turning the pages, as the main characters discover what’s important to them.

This story is an escapist read, letting the reader experience love and life in an engaging holiday setting.

#MandyBaggot20 – A tale of many books

I’ve written 20 books! No matter how many times I say this to myself I still can’t quite believe it. How DID that happen? Yes, this year, fittingly in 2020, my 20th novel is published – My Greek Island Summer! So, where did my writing journey begin and what exactly has happened in the last twelve years from Book 1 to Book 20?

Book 1 – Excess All Areas (self-published)

Picture the scene, a new mother crying out for some respite from nappy changes and piles of washing carrying a birth injury no one could fix… what does she do? She escapes into another world and writes about her last sunshine holiday to Corfu creating characters who can do anything! Readers still tell me how much they love Freya Johnson!

Book 2 – One Night on Ice – Aria Fiction (first self-published as Breaking the Ice)

My love of Dancing on Ice spurred me into writing this story. Again, I was escaping into fiction any time I could and writing about other characters’ issues took me away from my own.

Book 3 – Knowing Me Knowing You (self-published)

I have no idea where the idea for this book came from. It’s based around a relationship gameshow where single mum Kate has to compete for a prize alongside the gorgeous Joel, the date she has paid to be there who she knows nothing about. Think The Generation Game meets Take Me Out

Book 4 – Strings Attached (self-published)

This is my real rock star romance spawned from all those delicious tortured bad boys we love to think we could change if they were in our orbit. I think bringing out this book was the time I thought I might be able to take my writing seriously and maybe, just maybe, I could get a publisher.

Book 5 – Taking Charge (Sapphire Star Publishing)* This book is being re-released by Aria Fiction in 2020 under a new title

This was my first traditionally published novel! All the titles I self-published before had been rejected by every publisher imaginable but I refused to give up hope. Call me Little Miss Persistent! Two publishers offered on this book and I decided to go for new small press, Sapphire Star Publishing. I wrote this book after I visited my dad in Michigan and fell in love with the area and the ice hockey…

Book 6 – Public Property (self-published)

This was the 2nd book I ever wrote because it has the same characters as Excess All Areas. I think, when you start off writing, comfortable is good and these characters were comfortable to me so I wrote about them again.

Book 7 – Security (Sapphire Star Publishing)* This book is being re-released by Aria Fiction in 2020 under a new title

This was my first attempt at romantic suspense. I didn’t set out to write a suspense novel, it just happened that the characters and ideas made it that way. It’s always about the romance and the connection, first and foremost, with my writing and this book is no different. Autumn and Nathan are still two of my favourite characters and I can’t wait for this book to be released again!

Book 8 – Do You Remember? – (HarperImpulse)* This book is being re-released by Aria Fiction in 2020 under a new title

I was invited to go to HarperCollins to talk about their idea for a new digital imprint, HarperImpulse. After the meeting I decided I’d submit my next book to them myself! And I got my first UK traditional publishing deal! This book features a dual timeline with the story being present day and ten years before. I think this is probably my most heart-wrenching romance and I can’t wait for it to meet new readers when it releases again!

Book 9 – One Summer in Nashville – Aria Fiction (first published by HarperImpulse as ‘Made in Nashville’)

This was all about my love of country music and the stories Honor and Jared had to tell were a true gift from my imagination. This was one of the easiest books to write because these characters knew exactly what they wanted to do! I’m so glad new readers are discovering this story this year!

Book 10 – Truly Madly Greekly (Bookouture)

This book literally changed my life. My first visit to Corfu since 2004 and I fell in love with our hotel (Mareblue Beach) and all its people. It inspired the backdrop for Ellen and Yan’s romance and this book – to date as I’m writing this – has sold almost 50,000 copies. This novel made me realise that romantic comedy was where my heart was.

Book 11 – One Wish in Manhattan (Bookouture)

I adored writing this book. Hayley, Angel and Oliver were a dream to create and the New York setting just added to the magic. This book is special because it was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy of the Year and it was the first book I had translated into a foreign language. Thank you Germany! I’m lucky to have books translated into German, Hungarian, Czech and Italian now, with the map growing soon I hope!

Book 12 – Those Summer Nights (Bookouture)

My love of Corfu was growing with each trip back, so it made sense to continue to show the love in my next novel. The restaurant in this book was based on a real taverna on the beach in Acharavi called ‘Lavender’. Lavender has since sadly closed but a new restaurant is in its place, Corfu Grill. Definitely worth a visit!

Book 13 – One Christmas in Paris (Bookouture)

How do you follow up a Christmas book set in NYC? You write about the most romantic city in the world – Paris. It had been a long time since I visited Paris so I had to read a lot of guidebooks and watch a lot of You Tube videos to get this one right. Readers tell me I brought the magic of Paris alive so, job done!

Book 14 – Single for the Summer (Ebury)

I moved to join Penguin! This was my first deal that saw copies of my book in Tesco, W H Smith Travel and Asda! It’s always a dream come true to see your books in the supermarkets and at airports! Signing copies at London Luton on my way to Corfu with my family was a particular highlight!

Book 15 – One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill (Ebury)

Again, copies of this book were in supermarkets and this one was my first book with a gorgeous glittery cover! We love a bit of glitter! Think Love, Actually meets Notting Hill with bulldozers…

Book 16 – Desperately Seeking Summer (Ebury)

I do like to have some of my characters coming from places close to me. In this book Abby Dolan comes from Romsey in Hampshire which is just down the road from me here in Wiltshire. I never forget my roots… but she does get to travel to Corfu in this book too!

Book 17 – One New York Christmas (Ebury)

My tomboy heroine in this novel is Lara and she’s from Wiltshire and drives a lorry. The idea for this book involves connecting with celebrities on social media and what would happen if one of them actually replied…

Book 18 – One Last Greek Summer (Aria Fiction)

I joined the incredible Aria Fiction after deciding that I really needed to get back to driving digital sales. The paperback market is so competitive and fewer and fewer books are getting picked for the shelves. This book has done brilliantly and I couldn’t be happier working with Team Aria. Beth and Heidi head to Corfu to be 21 all over again but will their past be waiting for them?

Book 19 – One Christmas Star (Aria Fiction)

Without any doubt, this is my favourite book I’ve ever written. It’s funny and heart-warming but also sad and thought-provoking. Emily and Ray drove their stories for me and the children of Stretton Park really are the stars of the book. I’ve never been prouder of a book and, in my completely biased opinion, it really deserves all the awards/accolades/film deals there are!

Book 20 – My Greek Island Summer (Aria Fiction)

And here we are! Bang up to date! My Greek Island Summer is a worthy 20th novel that seems to encompass everything I love about writing rom com with a little nod to all the books that have come before. It’s sunshine and good times with life hurdles to get over and crazy Greekness all the way through. Some say it’s my best yet… but why don’t you decide!

My Greek Island Summer on Amazonhttps://amzn.to/2TIuSXN

Mandy Baggot is an internationally bestselling and award-winning romance writer. The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy’s books have so far been translated into German, Italian, Czech and Hungarian. Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.

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Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Fantasy, Magic

The Identity Thief Alex Bryant #TheGodMachine @alexbryantauth @lovebooksgroup #Author Q&A #Fantasy #magic #humour #BookPromo #BlogTour #LoveBooksTours

A shapeshifting sorcerer called Cuttlefish unleashes a terrifying wave of magical carnage across London. A strange family known as the River People move into Cassandra Drake’s neighbourhood. Are the two events connected?

Spoiler alert: no.

Reasons to buy this book:

✔ Good cover.

✔ Cheap. Seriously, the Kindle version only costs as much as about 3 mangoes. What would you rather have – 10 hours of gripping urban fantasy, or 30 minutes of biting into sweet, succulent mango flesh?

✔ OK, I shouldn’t have used mango, objectively the best fruit, as a comparison. But buying this book doesn’t stop you from buying mangoes, if that’s what you insist on doing.

Amazon UK

Q&A with Alex Bryant

Where did you get the idea for the novel?

The first idea for the novel came when I was 19, shortly after falling off a horse. Or possibly shortly before – the exact chronology is lost to history. So is the horse’s name, so don’t even ask. The idea was for an opening chapter: a girl comes home one day to find that her dad’s disappeared, and the shadowy organisation he works for wants to take her away for questioning.

The current book, admittedly, has almost nothing to do with that. But from there, the world rolled into life like an out-of-control snowball, picking up all of my other obsessions along the way. Witchcraft and witch-hunts were an obvious thing to include. And the very earliest scene I wrote that made its way into the book actually dates to a dream I had when I was 16. It was about being forced to visit a bizarre old house, meeting its strange inhabitants, and being shown into a vast underground library… It left a strong impression, shaping both Omphalos, the sinister house at the centre of The Identity Thief, and the Lyceum, the shadowy magical organisation which is tied to it.

Which character from The Identity Thief do you most identify with?

Obviously not the main character, Cass, who’s a nasty piece of work, inspired by the kind of girl I was terrified of in school. It’s actually Hector, the quiet and pathologically awkward one who’s probably plotting something evil behind closed doors.

Unfortunately, my friends unanimously agree that I am in fact Cuttlefish, the shapeshifting villain. I resent this – 18 is a perfectly sensible number of masks to own. I go to a lot of parties, and nobody wants to be that guy who’s always wearing the same mask at a party.

Where did you get the idea for the world?

First up,  magic is cool. Books with magic in are better than books without magic in. So there was always going to be magic in any novel I wrote.

In books, everyone is totally chill about magic. But in real life, people tend not to be remotely chill about magic. In fact, for a large chunk of history right up to the present day, people have gone around executing each other brutally for practising magic. In Europe, we literally only stopped doing that when it turned out magic didn’t exist.

In the world of the God Machine, magic does of course exist, so it stands to reason that people are still afraid of it – still hunting down witches and punishing them severely. That’s how I ended up creating the Sorcery Investigation Department, a modern-day Inquisition tasked with stopping sorcery in all its forms.

Who are your favourite authors?

First up is Jonathan Stroud. Specifically, the Bartimaeus trilogy. Possibly the most underappreciated children’s books out there. Not by me, of course. I appreciate them a huge deal. But I’m just one man. I can’t give them all the appreciation they deserve. Go read them! They’re about an alternative modern-day London where sorcery is wielded by a select few. So if you liked The Identity Thief, you like them.

If you like classics, read The Master and Margarita. This book is so influential that I straight up stole several quips and scenes from it. But because it’s a classic, this doesn’t count as theft; it’s an ‘allusion’, which actually makes me a better writer.

Contrary to everyone’s assumption, I don’t like either Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman. Sorry, guys. I’ve just never been able to get into them. Despite having had virtually every book in the Discworld series recommended to me, or just outright bought for me, at some point. And despite The Identity Thief being compared to them most frequently.

Douglas Adams, on the other hand, is great. The best version of the infinite Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy adaptations is, of course, the text-based adventure game. Look it up!

What’s your writing process?

I sit down at my laptop and open my novel manuscript. I like to check my emails before I start writing, to clear all that annoying admin out the way. One of the emails is about booking an appointment. I open my phone to see when I’m free. While I’m checking my calendar, I get a message notification from a friend about something I was supposed to do yesterday. I open up Messenger to say sorry, and I’ll do it now. But before I do it, I see an article someone’s posted in a group chat. I read it, and three more articles that the first article links to. I close the page, and wind up looking at an Amazon checkout page. Oh yeah, I was in the middle of buying a birthday present three days ago, and must have got distracted. Looking at it now, I could probably find a nicer thing on Etsy. I take a look, and spot some way cooler stuff I want but probably shouldn’t buy. I decide I’m better off thinking about it over lunch. Damn, I don’t have any lunch food. I decide to nip to the shops, but remember I have a package to send that I may as well take with me. I go back to print out a postage label. I discover I’m out of paper so I’ll have to go to the shops first anyway. I go to the shops and buy toothpaste. I forget to buy either lunch or paper.

It’s taken me ten years to write The Identity Thief.

Alex Bryant

Alex has led a largely comfortable but unremarkable life in North London, and more recently Oxford. His main hobbies as a kid were reading and sulking.

When he’s not writing, he’s performing with his improvised comedy troupe, Hivemind Improv. And when he is writing, he’s procrastinating.

The first idea for The God Machine came when he was 19, shortly after falling off a horse. Or possibly shortly before – the exact chronology is lost to history. So is the horse’s name, in case you were wondering.

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Humour, Parenting and Famlies

Grown Ups Marian Keyes 4*#Review @MichaelJBooks #MarianKeyes #BookReview #GrownUps #Family #Drama #humour #Secrets #lies #love #friendship

They’re a glamorous family, the Caseys.

Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together – birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie – who has the most money – insists on it.

Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .

Everything stays under control until Ed’s wife Cara gets concussion and can’t keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets.

In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s time – finally – to grow up?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Penguin Books UK – Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This book has many positive qualities. It’s cleverly plotted, with complex and relatable characters, and a good balance of humour and poignancy. It explores family and personal issues, with honesty and sensitivity.

The dramatic beginning draws the reader into the family drama. Delving into past family interactions and individual stories, an astute and insightful look at the family reveals deceit, infidelity and mental health issues. There are many characters, some hard to empathise, but they all play an integral part in the unfolding story.

Its slow pace and length, make it an ideal holiday read?

Posted in Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, Excerpt, Extract, Family Drama, Friendship, Humour

How Not To Be A Loser Beth Moran @BethCMoran @BoldwoodBooks #boldwoodbloggers #BoldwoodBlogTour #Extract #AudioExtract #Family #UpLit #Mother #Son#Friendship #Love #Courage #MondayBlogs #MondayThoughts #Humour

AMY PIPER IS A LOSER. SHE’S LOST HER CONFIDENCE, HER MOJO AND HER WAY.

But one thing she has never lost is her total love for her thirteen-year-old son Joey, and for his sake she knows it’s time for a change. But first she has to be brave enough to leave the house…

What she needs are friends and an adventure. And when she joins a running group of women who call themselves The Larks, she finds both. Not to mention their inspiring (and rather handsome) coach, Nathan.

Once upon a time Amy was a winner – at life, at sport and in love. Now, with every ounce of strength she has left, she is determined to reclaim the life she had, for herself and for Joey. And who knows, she might just be a winner again – at life, sport, and love, if she looks in the right places…

Uplifting, funny and unforgettable, Beth Moran returns with a joyous tale of friendship, love and facing your fears.

Amazon UK

How Not To Be A Loser – Beth Moran – Extract

Stop Being a Loser Plan

Day One

It wasn’t intentional. I didn’t get woken up by my phone alarm blaring, spring out of bed and decide today was the day. I didn’t open up Facebook and one of those irritating quotes – embrace the rain if you want to dance under the rainbow – actually inspired someone for the first time ever to change something. After cajoling my son, Joey, out of bed, I didn’t gaze at his beautiful face as he poured a second giant bowl of cereal, raving about the school football match coming up, and in a surge of love and regret suddenly experience the pivotal moment in a decade of non-moments.

In fact, apart from the invitation that arrived in the morning post, most of the day went precisely as expected. Which was, in summary, exactly the same as pretty much every other weekday. I waved Joey off to school, reminding him to hand in the form about the meeting that evening and cleared away the breakfast dishes. I worked at my desk in the kitchen, breaking the monotony of writing about corporate social responsibility policies by swanning off to eat lunch in the living room, because that’s the type of wild and crazy woman I am.

I rescued Joey’s football kit from festering on his bedroom floor and stuck it in the wash, because despite telling myself on a daily basis that it’s time he learnt the hard way, circumstances dictate that I also live with an extra-large pile of parental guilt, so I make life easier for him where I can.

By the time Joey came home at four, I had spoken to no one since he left, unless you count talking to myself. Oh, and to the enormous spider who appeared out of nowhere and started edging across the kitchen while I debated whether to have another chocolate cookie or the bag of seeds I’d bought precisely to avoid eating a whole packet of cookies.

‘I’d get out of here if I were you. While your impressive size might earn you respect in the spider world, my son doesn’t take kindly to home invasions by anything with more legs than him, and he’ll be home any minute. Go on, shoo. Or else I’ll have to squish you.’

Too late. While the spider was weighing up whether to heed my advice, Joey burst through the front door, in his usual whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm.

‘Hey, Mum. I’m starving, are there any of those cookies left?’

I clicked save and pushed my chair back to face him. ‘Hi, Joey, and yes, I had an okay day, thanks. How was yours?’

‘Oh. Sorry, yeah. It was good, actually.’ He paused, mid-search of the snack cupboard, to offer an apologetic smile. ‘We did this experiment in science where we had to heat up this white stuff, and— WHAAAAAAT!?’

In an instant, my strapping thirteen-year-old reverted to a frightened child, leaping up to sit on the worktop, cookie packet hugged protectively to his chest.

‘How long’s that been there?’ he shrieked.

‘Not long.’

‘Why didn’t you tell me the biggest spider in the universe was right behind me?’

It was a pointless question. We had been through this too many times before. Joey knew that the reason I hadn’t told him was because of what would inevitably happen next.

And, in line with the rest of the day’s predictability, it did. After a brief negotiation about Joey’s phobia, the value of the spider’s life and what I was willing and able to do about both these things, given that I didn’t think it was quite worthy of calling either the police or pest control, I ended up scooping the monster arachnid in both hands and facing my own worst nightmare.

‘Ready?’ Joey looked at me with solemn eyes as he gripped the door handle. He tried to keep his voice steady, but the rise and fall of his chest betrayed his terror.

I nodded, aware that my own eyes, while the exact same light brown as my son’s – caramel, his dad used to call them – were darting wildly like two wasps caught in a Coke bottle.

Before I had time to take another wheezing, shallow breath, Joey flung the door open and ducked behind it. I threw myself forwards, crashing against the door frame, eyes now firmly squeezed shut, and flicked my hand outside. A sudden gust of wind sent me reeling back in panic.

‘CLOSE THE DOOR!’ I gasped, clutching at my heart as it careened about my ribcage and stumbling back into the middle of the kitchen.

‘Is it gone? Are you sure it’s gone?’ Joey garbled back.

‘Yes! It’s gone. CLOSE THE DOOR, JOEY, NOW!’

I heard the door slam, took another two calming breaths and forced my eyes to take a peek. ‘Oh, please.’

The spider levelled me an ironic gaze from the welcome mat. It was so humungous I could see the lazy challenge in each of its eight eyes.

‘What? What? What is it? Is it still here?’ Joey spoke from where he’d scrambled behind me.

‘It might be.’

‘WHAT? Where-is-it-what’s-it-doing-is-it-moving-is-it-near-me-how-is-it-still-inside? MUUUUUM!’

‘It may have blown back in and now be sitting on the mat.’

Beth Moran is the author of three previous books, including Making Marion. She regularly features on BBC Radio Nottingham and is a trustee of the national women’s network Free Range Chicks. She lives on the outskirts of Sherwood Forest. Beth’s first novel for Boldwood, Christmas Every Day, was published in September 2019

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Humour, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour, Motivational, Romance

To Lahore With Love – Hina Belitz 5*#Review @Hina_Belitz @headlinepg @annecater #RandomThingsTours #LiteraryFiction #humour #SelfRealisation #Lahore #Life #Family #Food #Cooking #Ancestry #Faith #motivational #recipes

A truly feel-good novel to warm the heart, tickle the taste buds and take you on the journey of a lifetime 

Addy Mayford has always struggled with her identity. Brought up in a household of stories, food and faith by her Irish mother and Pakistani Nana, she feels constantly torn between the two sides of her upbringing. Since the death of her father, she’s found contentment cooking delicious recipes from his home city of Lahore, despite the protestations of her mother that being a chef is no career for a young woman. It’s only with the love of her gorgeous husband, Gabe, that she’s truly found happiness. 

When Addy stumbles across a secret that shatters her entire world, she desperately needs to escape and is drawn to the sights of Lahore and the family she’s never known. Waiting for her there is Addy’s final acceptance of who she is, and a long-buried family secret that will change her life for ever. 

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

My Thoughts…

I love to learn, and this story presents plenty of opportunities to explore a different culture. I also love to cook, and as each chapter begins with a recipe, this makes delightful reading for anyone who loves cooking. The power of food and its therapeutic qualities are a theme of this story. Each recipe has a section called, the artistry, which describes what the food achieves, and why. The story follows Addy’s young life, before and after, a traumatic event occurs. She has a multicultural upbringing, all-female, the men in her life distant memories until Gabe.

The trip to Lahore is life-affirming in the company of her only friend Jen, and her beloved Nana. There is so much of interest in this story, written with clever visual imagery that invigorates all the reader’s senses. Addy is lovely, down to earth, with a wicked sense of humour, which balances the story’s poignant moments.

The writing style is eloquent, informed and insightful. A thought-provoking way to taste life, through the power of ancestry, culture and food, as Addy takes a life journey she will never forget.

Hina Belitz

HINA BELITZ is an author and renowned equal rights lawyer. Born in Pakistan to an Indian father and a mother of Iranian, Afghan and Indian descent, Belitz was brought up in Hampshire – a place starkly different to her parent’s home city of Lahore, and where she was the only Asian person in her school. Her debut novel, SET ME FREE, was critically acclaimed and led to her being interviewed by Morgan Freeman and starring in a National Geographic documentary about love. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including the Guardian and the BBC. 

A lot of the narrative in TO LAHORE, WITH LOVE has its roots in Hina’s own life experience.

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Posted in Cover Reveal, Friendship, Romance, Travel

The Summer Island Swop Samantha Tonge #CoverReveal @SamTongeWriter @Aria_Fiction @rararesources #Romance #Travel #Friendship #Conservation #Summer #RomCom #TheSummerIslandSwop

Sometimes the best holidays are the ones you least expect…

After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them.

But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort.

So now Sarah’s battling mosquitos, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape. Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret.

#SummerIslandSwop

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Publication Date: 4th June

Samantha Tonge

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.

When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.

She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo and in 2020 her novel Knowing You won the RNA’s Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award.

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#SummerIslandSwop
Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Humour, Motivational, Parenting and Famlies

When Life Gives You Lemons Fiona Gibson 5*#Review @AvonBooksUK @FionaGibson #BlogTour #BookReview #Relationships #Family #Love #Life #Friendship #Parenting #motivational #Humour #women

Sometimes life can be bittersweet…

Between tending to the whims of her seven-year-old and the demands of her boss, Viv barely gets a moment to herself. It’s not quite the life she wanted, but she hasn’t run screaming for the hills yet.

But then Viv’s husband Andy makes his mid-life crisis her problem. He’s having an affair with his (infuriatingly age-appropriate) colleague, a woman who – unlike Viv – doesn’t put on weight when she so much as glances at a cream cake.

Viv suddenly finds herself single, with zero desire to mingle. Should she be mourning the end of life as she knows it, or could this be the perfect chance to put herself first?

When life gives you lemons, lemonade just won’t cut it. Bring on the gin!

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Viv is a lovely realistic character, so easy to like. When she finds out her husband is having an affair, it forces her to look at her life. Heartbroken, struggling to cope with her understandable anger, her dissatisfaction with life, and the menopause, she turns to her friends. Gradually Viv finds the courage to rediscover, the woman she is, and the life she wants.

Full of authentic family life moments, humour, poignancy and an unexpected dash of romance, this book is an easy, engaging read that makes you alternatively, empathise, and laugh out loud. The characters are vibrant and realistic, and the situations relatable. The well-paced plot keeps you entertained and the ending is hopeful.