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

Life After You Sian O’Gorman 5* #Review @msogorman @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #boldwoodbloggers #BlogTour #BookReview #Love #Loss #Bereavement #Family #Romance #Friendship #Motivational #Heartwarming #SundayThoughts #LifeAfterYou

Meaningful and moving, a beautiful story with life-affirming qualities.

Milly Bryne’s world came crashing down when she lost her beloved Dad and boyfriend in a matter of weeks.
Losing her Dad has broken her family. Losing her soul mate made has made her give up on life and love.
After swerving from stability to chaos to despair, Milly finally believes she has her life back on track when the unexpected return of a familiar face to Ireland throws her life once more into a spin. Milly is forced to decide if her new life is the one for her, or if there is another path that will bring even greater riches of joy, excitement and fun into her world. Life just isn’t worth living if your heart isn’t in it?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

I always love reading a book written by a true storyteller and this one of those. Milly is not coping, no one would know, but she’s still crippled with grief after losing her father five years ago, has a ruthless career that demands all her time and offends her moral code and was abandoned by her soulmate at the lowest point in her life. When her old lover returns, it forces her to look at her life and decide what she truly wants it to be.

Milly is a likeable and relatable protagonist. You want her to overcome her anxiety, learn to live with her grief and be happy. A diverse cast of characters both hinder and support Milly in this quest. Everyone is authentic and adds something to this enjoyable story.

The story explores how Milly and her family members experience, both anxiety and grief believably.

The story is heartbreaking and humorous in equal measure but ultimately heartwarming.

Extract from Life After You Sian o’Gorman

Chapter One

A low hum of chatter, the odd bray from the over-inebriated, the tinkling of Cole Porter from the grand piano in the corner, the soft lighting, the waft of the kind of perfume that hadn’t been bought as an after-thought in Duty Free, the pop of the champagne bottles. Siobhán held up her glass of fizz. ‘I could get used to this,’ she said, putting on a posh voice. ‘I may insist on always socialising in the Shelbourne.’

It was early April and there was a touch of spring in the air and we were both a little over-excited. It was a Tuesday which was enough to celebrate on its own, but we were at the launch of a new development for my boyfriend’s property company and although Ryan and I had been going out for three months, he and Siobhán were yet to meet.

She’d already peered across the room at him as he shook hands with and chatted to some of the other guests. ‘He’s handsome,’ she said, approvingly. ‘The kind of cheekbones that make him look like he’s sucking on a lemon or an eighties popstar.’

Siobhán and I had been best friends since our third year of high school when we both realised we shared a hatred of hockey and a love of talking to each other. We’d lived with each other many times over the years, her moving in with me when my then boyfriend, Darragh, left me five years earlier. Her partner, George, was often to be found on our sofa – normally asleep, wrecked from his early starts in a bakery.

Siobhán’s arm darted out to nab a handful of canapés as a tray bobbed past our heads. She handed one to me. ‘Being a corporate lawyer, you probably eat like this all the time,’ she said, mouth full, ‘expense-account lunches…’

‘I’m lucky if I get ten minutes to buy a sandwich. Normally, it’s just me and Catriona working through.’ Catriona was my boss, one of the partners at my law firm McCoyMcAvoy. I’d worked there since getting onto the graduate scheme, and had slowly made my way up to being junior to the firm’s only female partner. As corporate lawyers, we bent the rules to nearly breaking point, discovering legal loopholes and building cases so rock-solid that we always ensured our clients got their way.

‘Lunch is the most important meal of the day,’ Siobhán reminded me.

‘I thought it was breakfast.’

She held up a canapé. ‘No, I forgot. Nibbles and snacks are the best meal of the day.’ She grinned at me. ‘Can’t live without snacks.’

‘I’d die.’

‘We’d die together for the want of a good snack… talking of which, these are very nice, very nice indeed!’

Siobhán was small, with long, waterfall-wavy red hair, and always wore bright red lipstick. I was tall, with shoulder length light brown hair which I tied back for work, with minimal make-up. She wore long skirts and chunky cardigans and dangly earrings, whereas I couldn’t remember the last time I wore anything that wasn’t sensible. I couldn’t remember the last time I had done something that wasn’t sensible. But, then again, I was the one who’d signed up to be a lawyer and being sensible was part of the deal. Except, I wouldn’t mind some fun. It was exactly why I insisted on Siobhan coming tonight. It was at least something.

Sian O’Gorman

Sian O’Gorman was born in Galway on the West Coast of Ireland, grew up in the lovely city of Cardiff, and has found her way back to Ireland and now lives on the east of the country, in the village of Dalkey, just along the coast from Dublin. She works as a radio producer for RTE.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Fiction

The Awakening Of Claudia Faraday Patsy Trench 4*#Review @PatsyTrench @rararesources #HistFic #1920s #Women #Society #BlogTour #BookReview #RoaringTwenties

‘It got better, in time, though to be truthful it always felt more of a duty than a pleasure: a little like homework, satisfying when over, and done well, but never exactly enjoyable. But then nobody had ever suggested it could be otherwise.’

This was the view of Claudia Faraday, 1920s respectable wife and mother of three, on the subject of sex. That is until an unexpected turn of events shakes her out of her torpor and propels her back into the world revitalised and reawakened, where she discovers, as Marie Stopes might have said: Approached in the right way, even homework can be fun.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

I rather enjoyed this exploration of Claudia’s life when she is left alone in the family home wondering what next? Constricted by society expectations but changed in the aftermath of WW1, Claudia realises she’s missing out and that a wealth of experience awaits her if she’s open to it.

Claudia is a rule follower, sexually naive and prejudiced about anything she doesn’t understand, but this story shows her character developing in positive ways. There are parallels with contemporary society for women who feel they are invisible after a certain age.

The witty writing is sensitive and often humorous in a self-deprecating way. The author describes the 1920s succinctly with salient historical details and real historical characters. Authentic dialogue and events that illustrate this as a time of celebration and change.

Patsy Trench

Patsy Trench lives a quiet and largely respectable life in north London. Claudia’s story shows a side of her normally shy and reserved nature that is little known, even to her friends and acquaintances. Her previous books, about her family’s history in Australia, are entertaining and informative accounts of that country’s early colonial beginnings. She began writing late, and in a previous life she was an actress, scriptwriter, playscout, founder of The Children’s Musical Theatre of London and lyricist. When not writing books she emerges from her shell to teach theatre and organise theatre trips for overseas students. She is the grateful mother of two clever and grown-up children, and she is addicted to rag rugging and, when current circumstances permit, fossicking on the Thames foreshore for ancient treasure.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Political Thriller, Romance

Settlement Anne Stormont 5*#Review Rachel&Jack: The Skye Series @writeanne @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #motivational #Settlement #Love #BookReview #BookTour #Skye

Can love truly heal old wounds? Can the past ever be put peacefully to rest?

Falling in love is the easy bit. Happy ever after requires work, commitment and honesty. She wants him to be her friend and lover. He wants her as his wife. Can a compromise be reached? Or are things truly over between them?

When former Edinburgh policeman Jack Baxter met crofter and author Rachel Campbell at her home on the Scottish island of Skye, they fell in love. It was a second chance at happiness for them both.

But after Jack proposes marriage, it becomes clear they want different things.

Then, as Rachel prepares to return to the Middle East to work on a peacemaking project that’s close to her heart, and as Jack’s past catches up with him, it seems their relationship is doomed.

Can Rachel compromise on her need to maintain her hard-won independence? Can Jack survive the life-threatening situation in which he finds himself?

Will they get the chance to put things right between them?

Settlement is the sequel to literary romance novel, Displacement, but it can be read as a stand-alone.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

An excellent sequel to Displacement, although the story is complete and so can be read as a standalone. However, Jack and Rachel’s story is compelling, emotional and realistic, so read the first book too.

The story begins at a devastating time for Jack, his life hangs in the balance, and he regrets how he left it with Rachel. Rachel learns about Jack, and she relives her former loss of her son.

The story then reverts to the recent past from Rachel and Jack’s point of view, so the reader understands how they got to this dramatic point in their relationship. The story explores what happens after you fall in love, especially if you have emotional baggage. Jack’s track record with long-term relationships impacts on his and Rachel’s. Rachel is constantly moving forward, and is a positive person despite the loss she’s known.

There’s politics and crime as Rachel and Jack pursue their lives independently, and they add to the story’s depth and realism.

This is an addictive read, maybe because the characters are older and have lived.

I look forward to the final instalment in their love story.

Anne Stormont was born in Scotland and although she has travelled all over the world – including a teaching exchange to South Africa, four trips to Australia and several visits to the Middle East – it’s where she still lives.

She began making up stories as a child in order to entertain her four wee sisters. But as an adult, being busy with motherhood and working as a teacher, it took a long time and a mortality wake-up call for her to get that first book written.

She’s a compulsive crossworder, yoga practitioner, avid reader, keen walker and enthusiastic gardener. She can be a bit of a subversive old bat, but she tries to maintain a kind heart. She also loves tea, penguins and being with her grandchildren.

Change of Life was her first novel and she has since published three more. Her books are all set in Scotland and are contemporary romances where the main characters may be slightly older but are not necessarily wiser.

You can find out more about Anne and her books at her Website 

Posted in Audiobook Review, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Domestic Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

My Darling Amanda Robson 4* #Review @AmandaRauthor #Audiobook #Narrators Laura Costello Matt Addis @themattaddis #Psychological #suspense #domestic #noir AudibleUK #BookReview #HarperCollinsAudio @AvonBooksUK #MyDarling

A new couple moves in next door.

And nothing will ever be the same again…

I watched you move in and thought we might be friends.

I saw you watching from the window – and knew I’d have to keep you away from my husband.

I started to trust you. Confide in you.

I started to mistrust you. Suspect you.

I was confused when I blacked out after an evening at your place. Was I really that drunk?

I came up with a plan. A plan to make you both pay . . .

Sexy and sinister – this book will keep you up all night . . .

Amazon UK Audible UK

I received an audiobook copy of this book from Harper Collins Audio – Avon in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is compelling domestic suspense that is well suited to the audiobook media. The narration is professional, and it’s easy to differentiate the characters. It’s helpful to have a male narrator for Alastair as he appears so frequently. Told from Jade, Emma and Alastair’s points of view this is a twisted story of abuse, betrayal, relationships, and revenge.

Although the adult characters are hard to empathise, they are believable and fascinating., Jade has mental health issues, and it’s her actions that precipitate the events that follow. Emma is also emotionally fragile. Alastair has severe anger issues which make him prone to violence. Thomas is the least well defined of the characters.

Detailed and intricate the plot’s many twists make it difficult to visualise the ending. The conclusion is probably as just as it can be, but the last one standing is not necessarily a good person.

This is an addictive book to listen to, even though the characters are few and the settings domestic, the sometimes shocking plot twists and suspenseful ethos make this a story that you have to finish.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance

The Night of the Flood Zoe Somerville 4*#Review @zessomerville @Hoz_Books #BlogTour #BookReview #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #LiteraryFiction #Norfolk #Flood #1950s #Romance #ComingofAge #Secrets #Crime #FridayReads #FridayThoughts #TheNightoftheFlood

Summer, 1952. Verity Frost, stranded on her family farm on the Norfolk coast, is caught between two worlds: the devotion of her childhood friend Arthur, just returned from National Service, and a strange new desire to escape it all. Arthur longs to escape too, but only with Verity by his side.

Into their world steps Jack, a charismatic American pilot flying secret reconnaissance missions off the North Sea coast. But where Verity sees adventure and glamour, Arthur sees only deception. As the water levels rise to breaking point, this tangled web of secrets, lies and passion will bring about a crime that will change all their lives.

Taking the epic real-life North Sea flood as its focus, The Night of the Flood is at once a passionate love story, an atmospheric thriller, and a portrait of a distinctive place in a time of radical social change.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Set on the Norfolk coast in the early 1950s The Night of the Flood is an atmospheric and at times claustrophobic historical story. Centred around a historic natural disaster, the author interweaves a believable fiction of complex emotional relationships and secrets.

It focuses on the five young adults all inexorably changed by WW2 and railing against their allotted roles in life. Peter, shackled to the failing family farm. Verity, an ambitious woman who wants more from life than marriage and domesticity. Arthur, a former evacuee who has journalistic ambitions he may never realise. Muriel is a less distinct character known to all whose role increases with the story’s progression. Finally, there is Jack, an American stationed at the local airbase, who is the catalyst that forever alters the young lives.

The story is sad and suspenseful, the protagonists’victims of society’s expectations and individual flaws. The coastal historical setting reinforces the story’s authenticity. Relatable characters engage the reader’s emotions in this insightful story.

Zoё Somerville -Image Credit Jonathan Pearce

Zoe Somerville is a writer and English teacher. Having lived all over the world – Japan, France, Washington – she now lives in Bath with her family. After completing a creative writing MA at Bath Spa, Zoe started writing her debut novel, which is inspired by her home county, Norfolk, and the devastating North Sea flood of the 1950s.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Romance, Travel

Displacement Anne Stormont 5*#Review Rachel&Jack: The Skye Series @writeanne @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #motivational #Displacement #Love #Loss #BookReview #BookTour #TravelTuesday #Skye #Israel

Divorce, the death of her soldier son, and estrangement from her daughter, leave Hebridean crofter, Rachel Campbell, grief-stricken, lonely and lost.

Forced retirement leaves former Edinburgh policeman Jack Baxter needing to find a new direction in life.

After Rachel and Jack meet on a wild winter’s night in the most dramatic circumstances, an unlikely friendship begins, despite their very different personalities. However, their feelings for each other gradually go beyond friendship – something neither of them feels able to admit. And, when Rachel leaves to go on a life-changing journey to the Middle East, it seems unlikely their relationship will go any further.

Can Rachel give her heart to Jack?

Can Jack trust himself not to break it if she does?

Set against the contrasting and dramatic backdrops of the Scottish island of Skye and the contested country of Israel-Palestine, Displacement is a story of courage and love – where romance and realism meet head on.

Displacement is the first of the three books in the Rachel & Jack Skye Series.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Displacement is an addictive emotionally satisfying read, from the stark beauty of Skye to the richness of the Israeli setting and the captivating, relatable characters.

Rachel’s life finally implodes after her mother’s death. Still reeling from her husband’s infidelity, her son’s death destroys her, and her daughter’s anger leaves her believing that life is over. Jack retired after a health scare is following a dream in Skye. He misses his career and wonders if his relationship with a married woman is his only choice.

Jack and Rachel have a serendipitous meeting, but have they met for a reason?

The characters are authentic and easy to empathise. Rachel comes to terms with devastating loss and learns to forgive herself for events beyond her control. Israel is enlightening, and the setting and political climate explored well.

The dynamic between Rachel and Jack is believable, in an engaging heartwarming read of loss and love.

Anne Stormont was born in Scotland and although she has travelled all over the world – including a teaching exchange to South Africa, four trips to Australia and several visits to the Middle East – it’s where she still lives.

She began making up stories as a child in order to entertain her four wee sisters. But as an adult, being busy with motherhood and working as a teacher, it took a long time and a mortality wake-up call for her to get that first book written.

She’s a compulsive crossworder, yoga practitioner, avid reader, keen walker and enthusiastic gardener. She can be a bit of a subversive old bat, but she tries to maintain a kind heart. She also loves tea, penguins and being with her grandchildren.

Change of Life was her first novel and she has since published three more. Her books are all set in Scotland and are contemporary romances where the main characters may be slightly older but are not necessarily wiser.

You can find out more about Anne and her books at her Website 

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Literary Humour, Mystery

Tipping Point Emily Benet 4* #Review @EmilyBenet @rararesources #Mallorca #Humour #holiday #relationships #BlogTour #BookReview #literaryfiction #mystery

The sun … the ocean … the farmhouse … the scammer… the police… the 3-legged dog?

George and Ellen have retired to sunny Mallorca. Social butterfly Ellen is itching to make yacht-owning friends while George’s heart is set on a secluded farmhouse in the country. In fact, now that they’re no longer living busy London lives, they’re beginning to realise they have very different ideas of happiness.

Private investigator Salva specialises in cases of adultery. That’s why it’s particularly embarrassing that he didn’t realise his long-term girlfriend has been cheating on him. He has no time to nurse a broken heart, since his family are the victims of a property scam they urgently need him to solve.

Robyn Chase is giving talks on her self-help book, No More Toxic Relationships – 7 Years, 7 Lessons. She’s finding it awkward being a relationship guru when her own boyfriend is avoiding her.

The sun is shining in Mallorca and everything looks beautiful. But the residents of one particular apartment block are about to discover it all might be too good to be true.

Amazon UK Amazon

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

My Thoughts…

Moving to Mallorca is a dream come to true for many, but what happens if the reality, is not what you imagined? Ellen ponders the wisdom of moving and wonders about her marriage to George in retirement. Salva is a private investigator but failed to notice his girlfriend’s infidelity. When his family invade his small apartment after a scam life is anything but ideal. Robyn writes about overcoming toxic relationships and positivity, so why can’t she find her happy place?

The characters are relatable and vibrant. The inclusive writing style uses sensory imagery well. There’s a balance of humour, mystery, poignancy and romance in this lively story, good holiday reading.

Emily Benet

Emily Benet is a journalist, award-winning blogger and author of contemporary fiction. Her books include the blog-to-book Shop Girl Diaries, Wattpad hit Spray Painted Bananas and social media romcom #PleaseRetweet. She lives in Mallorca with her husband and daughter and the sunny island is the setting for her latest novels The Hen Party and Tipping Point. She writes regularly for the luxury lifestyle magazine abcMallorca.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Travel

The Eliza Doll by Tracey Scott – Townsend 4*#Review @authortrace @Wildpressed @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #TheElizaDoll #1980s #FamilyDrama #Love #Friendship #relationships #SelfRealisation #BlogTour #BookReview

Ellie lives in a campervan with her dog, Jack, selling her handmade dolls at craft fairs. There is one doll that she can’t bear to finish until she comes to terms with the truth of what has happened.

The Eliza Doll is an uncompromising family drama about upheaval, off-grid living and living on the dole in 1980s England.

Set in East Yorkshire and Iceland from the eighties to the present.

WildPressedBooks Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is a poignant story of a women’s life. It is part historical as it traces her time as a young woman in the 1980s with elements of family drama and relationships too. This is a relatable story of hardship, love and loss. It shows the relentless push forward of time and the fleeting quality of life.

Ellie appears to have muddled through life, but when she suffers unbearable tragedy and feels her best years have gone, she is easy to empathise. The grief process and the need to be valued for yourself underscores this story.

The flashbacks to the 1980s brought back memories for me too.

This engaging, lyrical story is full of angst and love with a believable and hopeful ending worthy of the main character.

Tracey-Scott-Townsend is the author of six novels — the most recent The Vagabond Mother (January 2020) and Sea Babies (May 2019) — all published by Wild Pressed Books and Inspired Quill Publishing. Reviews often describe her novels as poetic or painterly.

She is also a poet and a visual artist. She has a Fine Art MA and a BA (Hons) Visual Studies. She has exhibited paintings throughout the UK (as Tracey Scott). She has a long career as a workshop facilitator with community groups and in schools.

Tracey is co-director of an up-and-coming small independent publisher, Wild Pressed Books, which has a growing roster of authors and poets.

Mother of four grown-up children, Tracey spends as much time as possible travelling the UK and Europe in a camper van with her husband and two dogs, writing and editing while on the road. 

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Mystery, Romance

The Lie Hilary Boyd 4*#Review @HilaryBoyd @PenguinUKBooks @MichaelJBooks #BookReview #TheLie

I just thought you should know who you’re married to . . .’

Romy and Michael had it all. 30 years of marriage, two wonderful sons and a beautiful home.

Until a letter arrives containing a shocking accusation, and everything falls apart.

Fleeing to an idyllic countryside village to find time to think, Romy finds herself drawn to Finch, a handsome stranger with a tragic past. Is this a chance to start again?

But then the phone rings: Michael is in hospital. He says he needs her help . . .

From the No.1 bestselling author of Thursdays in the Park.

Amazon UK Waterstones

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

My Thoughts…

This is an intense family drama. It explores the fragility of relationships and the damage caused by lies and dark secrets. Romy and Michael are a successful couple although she’s undoubtedly put her husband’s career as a barrister above her career aspirations she’s happy until she receives a letter. It makes her question her belief in her husband, her life to date. What should she do?

The ensuing moral dilemma damages her marriage and forces her to leave. Second chances avail themselves, but a life-changing event forces Romy to return to her former life and face the consequences.

Driven by vivid characters, this is an absorbing story full of darkness and mystery. Romy’s role as a mother defines her and almost forces her into a prison-like existence. Clever twists and contemporary issues make this story relevant.

The pacing is slow, but this fortifies the suspense, and the powerful ending is worth the angst.

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

The Women Who Ran Away Sheila O’ Flanagan 5*#Review @sheilaoflanagan @headlinepg @RandomTTours #Women #Secrets #TheWomenWhoRanAway #weekendreads #SaturdayMorning

Deira isn’t the kind of woman to steal a car. 

Or drive to France alone with no plan. But then, Deira didn’t expect to be single. Or to suddenly realise that the only way she can get the one thing she wants most is to start breaking every rule she lives by.

Grace has been sent on a journey by her late husband, Ken.

She doesn’t really want to be on it but she’s following his instructions, as always. She can only hope that the trip will help her to forgive him. And then – finally – she’ll be able to let him go.

Brought together by unexpected circumstances, Grace and Deira find that it’s easier to share secrets with a stranger, especially in the shimmering sunny countryside of Spain and France. But they soon find that there’s no escaping the truth, whether you’re running away from it or racing towards it . . .

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This story is an addictive mix of relationships, serendipity and travel. Deira and Grace are running away, but more from themselves than anything they leave behind. Deira’s relationship is ruined, left for a younger, more malleable model. Grace is bereaved. Even in death, her husband still expects her to follow his wishes.

The women meet serendipitously and end up travelling and solving the treasure hunt together. The women are strangers and diverse in age and personality, but that proves to be fortuitous. The age difference allows a new perspective on the other’s life and a wealth of experience in Grace’s case.

The locations are brought to life through eloquent descriptions and give the story a vivid setting. This is a journey of self-belief and realisation, which makes this a heartwarming and motivational read.

Shelia O’Flanagan

Sheila O’Flanagan is the author of bestselling charttoppers, including Her Husband’s Mistake, The Hideaway, What Happened That Night, The Missing Wife, My Mother’s Secret and All For You (winner ofthe Irish Independent Popular Fiction Book of the Year Award).

After working in banking and finance for a number of years, Sheila’s love for writing blossomed into curating stories about relationships in all their many forms.

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