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

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

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

My Thoughts…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the extra little gift that the book delivers?

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

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

Extract From One Day In Winter – Shari Low

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe.

She still didn’t believe it to be true.

She must be wrong.

Mistaken identity.

Surely?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Literary Fiction

His Secret Family Ali Mercer 5*#Review @bookouture @AlisonLMercer #FamilyDrama #LiteraryFiction #Lies #Secrets #Control #Loss #BookReview #bookbloggers

#HisSecretFamily

It’s a beautiful day for a wedding. White roses scent the air and the summer sunlight streams in. A spoon chimes against a champagne flute and the room falls silent. And there he is – my husband – getting to his feet to propose a toast. He’s still handsome. His new wife is next to him, gazing upwards, oblivious.

I’m not supposed to be here. All these years in the same town and I had no idea until I saw his name on the seating plan. He lived with me, once. Loved me. Small-town memories are long, but the people in this room don’t want to remember.

They say the healing is in letting go, but after what he did, he needs to know we haven’t gone away just because he’s shut his eyes.

So I take Daisy by the hand and step forward from the shadows. He notices us and his eyes widen. The champagne glass falls from his hand and smashes. Then he sags forward, making a terrible sound – a sort of strangled scream…

A powerfully emotional novel with a dark secret at its heart. This family drama will keep you hooked until the very last page.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

An enthralling family drama told from four female perspectives that reveals a story that is emotional, honest, poignant and shocking.

Beginning with a wedding and two uninvited guests, and a seemingly tragic event, you may be forgiven for thinking you know what this story is about before it begins, but you’re probably wrong.

The story begins with Paula and the wedding. Then the time frame slips into the past and Jenny (Mother,) Ava(Eldest Daughter), and Ellie(Youngest Daughter) begin to tell their stories. The plot reveals events that change their lives and shape their futures. The appearance of Mark gives hope to Jenny, but disruption for the daughters. Gradually you learn Mark’s secrets and his controlling personality traits. The major plot twist confirms my opinion of Mark.

The story’s pace, keeps the reader engaged. The twists are subtle but resonate. The complex plot, never loses its way, even as detail and layers are added.

The characters are complex and authentic. It is easy to empathise with all the female characters, excepting Ingrid(Mark’s Mother). Ellie’s character is particularly well written, and I enjoyed the added dimension she brings to the story.

The ending is satisfying, being both hopeful and realistic.

Posted in Book Review, Domestic Thriller, Family Drama, Noir

Lies Lies Lies Adele Parks 4*#Review @HQStories @adeleparks #BlogTour @izsmith95 #noir #FamilyDrama #DomesticThriller #Marriage #Secrets

#LiesLiesLies

Amazon UK

Back Cover Blurb

Waterstones

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

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My Thoughts…

‘Lies, Lies, Lies’, deals with serious contemporary issues, has characters who are hard to empathise with, and yet, it is a compulsive read.

It starts with a lie, and as it infolds the web of lies intensifies. Simon is an alcoholic, he tells so many lies to hide the extent of his addiction. When he stumbles upon an uncomfortable secret, alcohol is his solace, but his lies are less believable and Daisy. his usually forgiving wife is losing patience. Daisy protects her daughter at all costs., increasingly she feels it’s Simon she needs to protect her from. His descent into alcoholism is accelerating, and the changes of keeping a secret and their family intact recede.

The first part of the book focuses on Simon’s alcoholism, how it affects him, Daisy and Millie their six-year-old daughter. For me this part of the story is hard going, it is authentic and believable, but a little long. The second part of the story is better. Faster paced, the hint that everything isn’t quite how it seems. The final part is suspenseful and shocking. The lies fall apart and the truth is finally revealed. The plot twists, are realistic, even though I guessed some, others are not revealed until the very end.

This book is primarily a family drama, an exploration of how addiction can damage family life. Sacrifice, secrets nd suspense all feature in this story, and the menace increases as the final chapters.reveal the truth.

This believable, claustrophobic story for fans of family drama and domestic thrillers.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Guest post

The Beach at Doonshean Penny Feeny 4*#Review @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #FamilyDrama #Ireland #Liverpool #Secrets #BookReview #BlogTour #GuestPost

In Ireland, the past never dies…

Long ago, on a windswept Irish beach, a young father died saving the life of another man’s child.

Thirty years later, his widow, Julia, decides to return to this wild corner of Ireland to lay the past to rest. Her journey sparks others: her daughter Bel, an artist, joins her mother in Ireland, while son Matt and daughter-in-law Rachel, at home in Liverpool, embark on some soul-searching of their own.

 As the threads of past and present intertwine, Julia’s family confront long-buried feelings of guilt, anger, fear and desire.

Only then can they allow the crashing waves of the beach at Doonshean to bond them together once again.

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

My Thoughts…

A heroic, yet tragic event affects the emotional development of two families connected historically by the tragedy on Doonshean beach.mi

The quality that resonates from this story is the family’s dysfunction. Superficially, Julia’s family seems normal, but dig a little deeper and the cracks appear. The characters are believable because they are flawed, and in some cases unlikable. Ronnie’s family is also divided. Her sons left at the first opportunity, and never fulfilled her hopes for them. Especially, Tom. Despite his lucky escape, he doesn’t seem to be making the most of his life, but maybe things are about to change.

This story has a great deal of charm, its an easy, emotional read. Both families are affected by the past tragedy, now they are together again, will something positive emerge?

A story of coincidence, tragedy and family life.

Guest Post- Penny Feeny

All sorts of factors combine in the construction of a novel, little pieces that you put together bit by bit like a jigsaw. I usually begin with the location, somewhere that will transport me and my characters. My previous three novels were all set in Italy, which is instantly seductive – but other countries can be romantic too! I chose the Dingle peninsula in Ireland for The Beach at Doonshean, because it’s an area I know well and one that I love. No visitor can fail to be beguiled by its special magic: the wild unspoilt scenery, the gentle pace of life and the charm and friendliness of the Irish themselves. However, the starting point for the story was an event I’d heard about many years earlier.

A woman I knew (actually she was my landlady) had been widowed when her husband drowned saving the life of a child – leaving behind three children of his own. The horror of this tragedy made a strong impression on me, but there was curiosity too. What happened to the rescued child? What kind of adult did they become? Does knowing that your life has been saved give you an extra sense of responsibility? Is it a privilege or a burden? And what repercussions does such an act of heroism have on the people who come after? Do they feel they have to measure up? I can’t pretend I know the answers to these questions but I wanted to explore the possibilities and the likely effects on the two families involved. What if they came across each other several years later?

The Beach at Doonshean covers a period of ten days or so in the lives of the Wentworths and the Farrellys. Various members of each clan are already facing a personal turning point when circumstances throw them together again. Bel has had a health scare and is longing to fall in love, Rachael is doubting her ability to be a good mother, and Tom has suddenly acquired a child he didn’t know existed. I wanted to find a catalyst that would reflect the disruption they were all experiencing. The volcanic ash cloud of 2010 was a freak incident at the time and mostly forgotten now (there’ve since been so many other bizarre aircraft delays!) but for those caught up in the chaos, it had a significant impact. Flights were grounded for a week and the knock-on effects lasted for several days as people tried to get back to their homes and their normal lives. For my purposes, this created an ideal scenario in which Julia Wentworth, first widowed, then divorced and now newly retired, could set in motion a chain of events which would lead to much soul-searching in both families.

The action is set between Liverpool, which has undergone a wonderful renaissance since I first came to live here, and the beautiful windswept south-west of Ireland where we go on holiday regularly. County Kerry has a famously spectacular coastline and magnificent Atlantic beaches with endless stretches of golden sand; you can even catch the unforgettable sight of a shoal of dolphins leaping for their dinner. But my story needed a beach with a riptide – and one that was not too remote. It’s not often that you would deliberately seek out a danger spot, but Doonshean, just outside the little town of Dingle, fit the bill perfectly. I should add that there is only one section of the beach subject to the riptide, so there is absolutely no excuse not to visit and enjoy this wonderful corner of the world!

I hope you enjoy the book too!   

Penny Feeny

Penny Feeny has lived and worked in Cambridge, London and Rome. Since settling in Liverpool many years ago she has been an arts administrator, editor, radio presenter, advice worker, and has brought up five children. Her short fiction has been widely published and broadcast and won several awards. Her first novel, That Summer in Ischia, was one of the Summer of 2011’s best selling titles.

Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Travel

Villa of Sun and Secrets Jennifer Bohnet 5* #Review @jenniewriter @BoldwoodBooks #boldwoodblogtour #multigenerational #familydrama #AuthorInterview #SouthofFrance #VillaofSunandSecrets

It’s never too late to live the dream…

Carla Sullivan’s 50th birthday is fast approaching when her whole world is turned upside down. Discovering her feckless husband is having yet another affair and following her mother’s death, she is in need of an escape. Finding an envelope addressed to her mother’s estranged sister Josette in the South of France gives Carla the perfect plan.

Seizing the moment, she packs her bags and heads to Antibes to seek out the enigma known as Tante Josette. But as the two women begin to forge a tentative relationship, family secrets start to unravel, forcing Carla to question her life as she has always known it.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The author’s knowledge and love of France come through clearly in this story. The setting is vivid, beautiful, and sometimes in sharp contrast to the revelations at the villa.

This is a multi-generational story, a family drama, which unfolds in Tante Josette’s villa in Antibes. Carla’s life has not been easy, an unfaithful husband, looking after her sick mother, and now an empty nest, something needs to change. Finding something in her mother’s possessions gives her the opportunity of a break from her life and uncharacteristically she takes it.

This is a story of love, lies and secrets, new relationships and forgiveness. The chance to see an ending as a new beginning. The issues explored are emotionally draining, but the outcome is hopeful and makes the angst worthwhile.

The characters are flawed, sometimes they lack the courage to take the first step to something better, but they are easy to empathise and believable. The setting is a lovely contrast to the drama and emotions and the story’s ending is heartwarming.

I

Author Interview – Jennifer Bohnet – Villa of Sun and Secrets

What are the inspirations behind your story?

Villa of Sun and Secrets was inspired by the french word for memories – souvenir. Everyone has memories, some good, some bad, some unforgettable and some pushed into the deepest recess of the mind until something, somehow, draws them to the front. Some souvenirs are shared with other people, others are private to the individual and yet sometimes when other people’s private memories begin to be shared it can affect everything you’ve ever known.

What made you choose France for your setting?

I’ve lived in France for twenty years now – for a lot of the time down on the Cote d’Azur, which is a place I realised people love reading about. I’m probably more familiar with the way things are over here than I am with life in the UK these days.

Your story focuses on older women, do you find older or younger women easier to write? Why is this?

A character is a character and you have to get to know them whatever age they are and sometimes they are easier to understand and write than others. But basically, I have to admit I prefer writing about characters who have had some life experience.

When you write what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why is this?

It’s usually the setting for me – swiftly followed by the characters I place there, then they help me to work out the storyline and the plot.

Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?

It’s a mixture of both but probably 85% imagination. And I really don’t know the answer to the last part of the question although I do try and ensure that they have flaws which hopefully makes them realistic in the reader’s eyes.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

There are so many authors out there I enjoy reading, but there are a few whose new books I look forward to and buy without hesitation. Veronica Henry, Erica James, Marcia Willett, Jill Mansell are four writers I admire hugely. They draw you in from the first page, their characters are superbly drawn and their stories just flow.

When did you start writing? What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?

It feels as though I’ve never, not written to be honest, but it was coming to France that really gave me the time and the space to start writing short stories, serials and finally novels. Before that, I wrote features and lifestyle pieces for various papers. I love finally being able to write full-time. The worst?  Social media to be honest – so much promo has to be done and it takes away from writing time.

 
What are you currently writing?

My next book which is again set in France, tells the story of 4 women, strangers to each other, on holiday on the Riviera, is currently with my editor and I’m awaiting edits. In the meantime, I’m starting to re-edit my backlist which Boldwood Books will be re-issuing soon.

Jennifer’s bio – Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 10 women’s fiction titles, including Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera and The Little Kiosk By The Sea. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Romance

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

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

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

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

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon UK

Waterstones

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

My Thoughts…

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

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

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

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