Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Holiday Romance, Humour, Motivational, Romance, Travel

The Summer Island Swap Samantha Tonge 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @SamTongeWriter @HoZ_Books #BlogTour #Summer #Holiday #Romance #Humour #Motivational #Extract #BookReview #Conservation #SelfRealisation #MondayBlogs #MondayMotivation #TheSummerIslandSwap

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.

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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…

Humour, originality and romance are all integral to this motivational story. There are good intentions, misunderstandings and an idyllic if not expected setting. Deeper issues of controlling behaviour and conservation add depth and engagement.

Forced out of her comfort level, Sarah confronts issues caused by her difficult childhood. She is conflicted but easy to empathise. Gentle romance is the catalyst for her emotional journey, which is positive and satisfying.

Extract from Summer Island Swop – Samantha Tonge

‘I’ll still have to clear it at work. I’m not sure how Prue will feel about me taking a month off.’

Just the mention of my boss’s name made my stomach knot.

‘No one’s indispensable. Not even wonderful you,’ she called back.

My chest felt warm. Over recent years, Amy had matured and started to look out for me, cooking dinner and mowing the lawn. However, I’d never lose my maternal feelings towards her. When we were ten and six ours was quite an age gap. As was eighteen and fourteen when I’d had to leave her behind with Dad but promised we’d live together again. I beat the sugar and butter, remembering her tears and his folded arms as I dragged my suitcase past the fountain and out of the huge driveway, into the street. I’d finally realised I had to leave after… I swallowed. No. I wasn’t going to think about that now.

I let Nelly into the back garden, busied myself with ingredients and cleaned up whilst the cookies baked. Their sweet aroma wafted through the air as I carried them into the lounge, on a tray, with two coffees.

‘Good timing,’ said Amy and turned off her screen, looking pleased with herself. I put the tray on the table and joined her.

‘Is it all booked?’

She nodded. ‘A modest deposit paid. The rest is due in the middle of June, two weeks before we leave.’

‘Can’t you at least share which part of the world we’re visiting?’

‘That would be telling,’ she replied airily and took the largest cookie.

I jumped up and held her right arm firm whilst tickling the armpit. ‘I won’t stop until I find out, Amy Sterling.’

However, she was as strong as me these days and, giggling, held the cookie in her mouth and forced both of my hands away. I sat down once more. I recognised that expression. She was determined to keep her secret. Sometimes, with my impulsive sister, that could be a dangerous thing, like when she’d agreed to do a charity skydive with colleagues at work. She didn’t tell me until the morning of the jump.

‘Just a clue. A teeny one,’ I said. ‘Please…’

 ‘I’ve never seen you this excited before. Well, not since you were made assistant manager. Oh, and the time you found that fancy moisturiser for half price.’

‘It wasn’t just any moisturiser. The Duchess of Cambridge uses it.’ I pressed my palms together. ‘At least let me guess… the Canary Islands? Barbados? Australia’s an island, right? I mean, you and me – we share most things, don’t we?’

‘Best buddies, always,’ she said solemnly.

It was a promise we’d made to each other, the day after Mum’s funeral. And sure enough, we confided in each other about our latest celebrity crushes, about our dreams for the future; we put the world to rights over Chardonnay and Pringles. I knew her favourite colour, favourite food, favourite band. She could always tell when I’d had a stressful day at work and, without prying, would make me a hot chocolate, fetch a blanket and switch on my current Netflix obsession.

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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Posted in Book Review, International Thriller, Noir, Thriller

4* #Review -The Island – Ragnar Jonasson – Translator -Victoria Cribb @MichaelJBooks @ragnarjo #PublicationDay #Noir #Crime #Thriller #IcelandSeries #TheIsland

Four friends visit the island.

But only three return . . .

Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is sent to the isolated island of Elliðaey to investigate and soon finds haunting similarities with a previous case – a young woman found murdered ten years ago in the equally desolate Westfjords.

Is there a patient killer stalking these barren outposts?

As Hulda navigates a sinister game constructed of smoke and mirrors she is convinced that no one is telling the truth, including those closest to her.

But who will crack first? And what secrets is the island hiding?

Haunting, suspenseful and as chilling as an Icelandic winter, The Island follows one woman’s journey to find the truth hidden in the darkest shadows, and shine a light on her own dark past.

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

My Thoughts…

‘The Island’ is the second in the #HiddenIceland series of noir crime novels. I haven’t read the first book, but this reads well as a standalone. Hulda is a troubled detective and her personality and emotional pain, make her perfect for the ethos of this series. The story is sinister and suspenseful, but rather than relying on action scenes for its interest and impetus, it delves deep into the characters and their secrets to reveal the plot’s twists and turns.

Hulda is haunted by her past and elements of the crime resonate with her, making her more personally involved with the events at the island and its players than is wise.

The story flicks between different timelines, which demands concentration. You need to enjoy this deep, slow-paced, dark storytelling to get something from this book, but it is authentic and a good example of its genre.

Posted in Book Review, Romance, Romance -Dark and Steamy

Untamed 4* #Review- Caitlin Crews @MillsandBoon @megancrane

Buttons are made to be undone

One wicked touch at a time…

Self-made businesswoman Lucinda Graves is determined to add a tropical hotel to her company’s empire—and devastatingly handsome owner Jason Kaoki is willing to negotiate… But only if Lucinda rises to each challenge he sets! Lucinda passes every test, but as each dare grows hotter and wilder than the last will she be able to keep her eyes on the prize?

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I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review

My Thoughts…

Sizzling hot from the start and I don’t just mean the weather. Lucinda finds that doing business on a remote Pacific Island has a completely different set of rules.

Lucinda and Jason are successful and rich, both have known physical and emotional hardship and it has left its scars. Relationships have not featured in either of their lives to date. Both players, they embark on a series of sensual games. They both want to win, but neither expect the prize to be so life-changing.

This is an intense story, concentrating on the couple. There are some surprisingly poignant moments as their earlier lives are revealed. The romance is hot and explicit as expected in the Dare series. There is romance too, but it follows in the wake of their physical awakening.

The ending chapters are romantic and allow the reader to see how far the characters have developed since their first meeting. This is part of a series but reads well as a standalone story.

A story for those who like glamorous, hot romantic stories,

Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Festive Read

Christmas Reads: Phillipa Ashley – Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles – The Driftwood Inn. 5* Review

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For Maisie Samson, this Christmas is going to be different. After years working in a busy Cornish pub, she’s moved back to quiet Gull Island where she grew up, to help her parents run the family inn.

But even though she can’t wait for the festive season to arrive, Maisie cannot shake the memories of what happened to her last Christmas – the day she lost everything. She keeps herself busy, setting up the tree and hanging mistletoe ready for her first proper family Christmas in years.

Until a new arrival to the island walks into her bar and changes everything. Australian backpacker Patrick is looking for a job for the low season. When Maisie takes him on, she doesn’t expect him to last the week, but to her surprise, Patrick is the perfect fit. Charming and handsome, could Maisie allow herself to hope that she and Patrick could be more than just colleagues?

As Christmas approaches, Maisie finds herself dreading the spring, when Patrick is due to leave. With the help of a little Christmas magic, can Maisie get the happily ever after she always dreamed of?

Amazon UK

Amazon

 My Thoughts…

There is something inherently captivating about island life, so for me, this story is a must-read. The Cornish Isles inaccessibility and the reliance on those you live so closely with makes for some fantastic characters and relationships, which the author captures beautifully in this simple tale.

Maisie’s fierce determination to rebuild her life among the people she grew up with, is the story’s focus. She is a strong woman, but Patrick’s unexpected arrival reveals her vulnerability and adds plenty of Christmas romance to this story.

 Written chronologically, in a style that reinforces the story’s credibility. The vibrant coastal setting and vividly described, cast of supporting characters leave an impression on the reader

I can’t wait to see what happens in Spring on the ‘Little Cornish Isles’.

A charming story with a twist of Christmas perfect for reading any time of the year.

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