Friday, 16 November 2018

Blog Tour: Extract from Antiques and Alibis by Wendy H Jones

I am very excited to be part of the blog tour for Antiques and Alibis by Wendy H Jones. I have an extract to share with you today and if you like the look of that, you can click here to buy the book! All the information about the book and the author is below as well as that awesome extract. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for reviews and other exclusive content and follow Love Books Group on social media for more bookish fun!

Cass Claymore, a red headed, motorbike riding, ex-ballerina inherits a Detective Agency, and accidentally employs an ex-con dwarf and an octogenarian. Hired by a client who should know better, Cass has no leads, no clue and a complete inability to solve a case. Still a girl needs to eat and her highbred client’s offering good money. Join her as, with bungling incompetence, she follows a trail littered with missing antique teddies, hapless crooks, a misplaced Lord of the Realm and dead bodies. Will Cass, and Scotland, survive?

Eagal and I walked to work as usual. A straight route down the Perth Road, it takes about twenty minutes. However, Eagal has his own ideas as to the appropriate route to work. It varies according to the vagaries of his pea-sized brain. This means he walks me there rather than the other way around. Today he fancied a jaunt down to Riverside. Not too bad as detours go. I arrived only marginally late. This mattered not one jot as no queue snaked down the street.

Eagal settled behind the desk. The coffee machine called me. I returned to the mutt standing by the door. A stealth attack had been mounted on some poor unsuspecting customer. Or had he? There didn't appear to be a customer or anything else around. The mutt had reached new heights of dumbness. Then I saw a small hand waving from under the fur mountain.
Grief. The dope was smothering a child.
“Eagal.” I simultaneously yanked and waved a treat under his nose. This had the desired effect and he leapt back and skittered over the floor. A large thump shook the room as he caromed off the wall. He shook himself, causing a tsunami of air. Somewhat cooling to be truthful.

A man lay on the floor. A rather dapper one, with a well-trimmed beard and standing about four feet tall. Or he would have been if not decorating my lavish parquet flooring.
“Sir, I'm so sorry.”
I helped him upright. This proved more difficult than first envisaged. What a weight for one so small.
He tugged on his multicoloured waistcoat and straightened his cornflower blue silk tie.
“My dear lady, think nothing of it. Happens frequently.”
An insouciant twinkle in his eye gave him a certain roguish look.
I had a gracious dwarf, with an engaging manner, in my midst.

“Please sit down, how can I help you?” I pulled a fresh yellow legal pad towards me.
“What seems to be the problem?”
“I thought you were the one with the problem, my dear.”
“I'm here to help you solve your problem.”
“I don't have a problem. I'm an investigator, I solve problems.” I was beginning to think I'd strayed into an alternative universe. One strewn with delusional dwarves.
“My dear friend, Ms Alexandra Struan indicated you had offered me a job.”
My brain froze.  The polar ice cap thawed slightly before absorbing this vital piece of information.
“I take it you’re Quill?”
“Crammond McQuillan at your service. Quill to my friends.”

Lexi's ex-con. The one she thought would be a perfect fit for my business. I don't mind admitting I wasn't quite seeing it. Still, I owed Lexi the honour of at least exploring further. Either that or I owed her a kick up the bahookie for putting me in this position.
“Would you like a cup of coffee?”
I might cope with this better if I had a shot of caffeine. Mainlined, preferably.
“Earl Gray tea, my dear.”
The terms of endearment were beginning to get right up my bonnie Prussian nose. Our partnership would be short-lived if I didn't put him straight.

While this riveting exchange occurred, my useless pet had cosied up to Quill. Head in the man’s lap he gazed adoringly up at his new friend. I passed over a box of tissues. This love fest would involve a wet lap if it went on for too long. In an unfortunate place. Either that or the mutt would be ruining the poor man’s marriage prospects.

How thrilling does that sound?

Meet the Author

Award Winning Author Wendy H. Jones lives in Scotland, and her police procedural series featuring Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie, is set in the beautiful city of Dundee, Scotland. Wendy has led a varied and adventurous life. Her love for adventure led to her joining the Royal Navy to undertake nurse training. After six years in the Navy she joined the Army where she served as an Officer for a further 17 years. This took her all over the world including Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Much of her spare time is now spent travelling around the UK, and lands much further afield. As well as nursing Wendy also worked for many years in Academia. This led to publication in academic textbooks and journals. Killer's Countdown is her first novel and the first book in the Shona McKenzie Mystery series. Killer's Crew won the Books Go Social Book of the Year 2107. There are now six books in this series with Killer's Crypt being released in August, 2017. The Dagger's Curse is the first book in The Fergus and Flora Mysteries for Young Adults. This book is currently shortlisted for the Woman Alive Magazine Readers Choice Award Book of the Year. She is also a highly successful marketer and she shares her methods in the book, Power Packed Book Marketing.

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Thursday, 15 November 2018

Review: Every Colour of You by Amelia Mandeville

What happens when someone who lives every day to the full meets someone who can only see reasons to stop living?
We had a story - short, but not a simple one. I couldn't stay here and explain it all to you. If you really want to know, you'll have to take time out of your day.
You'll have to read it...

Zoe's life is full of colour. A fan of impromptu yoga, inspirational quotes and experimenting with hair dye, she's on a mission to make the most of each and every day - even if she is currently spending most of her time behind a checkout till.
Then she meets Tristan. The rumour is that since his dad died, Tristan's life has fallen apart. No one has seen him for months. But now he's reappeared, does that mean he's back to 'normal'?
Zoe soon realises Tristan is struggling with a sadness that she can't possibly understand and becomes determined to bring a world of colour back into his life. But the harder she tries, the more she realises it's something she can't fix - and in trying to put him back together, a part of her is beginning to fall apart. . .

Review: I did not expect this book to make me cry so much, but it was just so beautiful, how could it not? I started reading this book and initially it seemed like just another contemporary romance between two complicated young people. These characters both had complications in their life, things they weren't telling each other, things they weren't telling me the reader, things they weren't telling themselves but when you start to peel back the layers, it was oh so heartbreaking inside. 

Zoe is a great character to spend a novel with, she is bubbly and takes risks and wants to live life to its fullest. She is definitely a zero judgement zone and I love that about her. She also seems to have more going on than meets the eye and you do slowly start to see her let her barrier down just a touch as the book progresses. Tristan also has his barriers up and his begin to come down in a very different way to Zoe's. He has some great morals but he doesn't necessarily always stick to them. We know that he is struggling with mental health, but again we don't necessarily see the full extent of that, but part of that is because he doesn't even seem to grasp the full extent of it. 

I love the fact that this book is set in the UK and not the US, I don't think the story would have felt the same if it were the other way around. The other characters in the book have some very British traits and all felt very real and I love the fact that our characters are talking about the kind of things that typical twenty year olds have to deal with; going to uni, working in a supermarket and saving up to buy a car. There are moments in this book that come out of nowhere to hit you in the feels and boy do they hit you hard, but there are moments of such positivity and such beauty too that you literally feel every emotion on the spectrum along with these characters. Mental health is dealt with well and so is the notion of kindness and friendship. 

I enjoyed this book more than I was expecting to and in different ways. If that sounds complicated then you'll just have to read it yourself, I recommend that you do!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Guest Review: Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

Everyone adores Christmas . . .
Especially Lizzy Kingham. But this year, she is feeling unloved and underappreciated by her family. The present-buying, decorating and food shopping have all been left to her. So she wonders ... what would happen if she ran away and left them to it?
Lizzy heads to her favourite place: a beach hut on the golden sands of Everdene. There she meets an unlikely collection of new friends, all running away from something. But the spirit of Christmas gets under Lizzy's skin: soon the fairy lights are twinkling and the scent of mulled wine mingles with the sea air.
Back at Pepperpot Cottage, her family are desperate to find her. For Christmas isn't Christmas without Lizzy. Can they track her down in time and convince her she means the world to them, every day of the year?
The brand new novel from the Sunday Times top-ten bestselling author of A Family Recipe and The Beach Hut. Bursting with love, hope, forgiveness - and plenty of Christmas cheer!

Review: How lovely to be transported back to the little seaside town of Everdene with its line of beach huts along the top of the sand. Fans of Veronica Henry will undoubtedly, like me, be familiar with the setting after reading her earlier novels, The Beach Hut and The Beach Hut Next Door. Being an ardent reader of Veronica's books and a lover of Christmas stories, this one was always a must read for me. Even so, I was not prepared with the way in which this festive tale pulled me in and had me lost to the real world from start to finish, a journey of just a few hours, with a few tears along the way. 

The story centres on Lizzy Kingham, a busy mother of twin teenagers who loves the hustle and bustle of Christmas and making it perfect for everyone every year. This year is different though, she seems weighed down by a series of events and suddenly feels fed up with being what she sees as taken for granted and put upon by her family. Very much out of character, she leaves them all to it and heads off to Everdene and the beach hut owned by her friend where they spent a glorious summer in their late teens. However, the peaceful and restful solitary Christmas she expects there turns out to be a little different from her imaginings as she meets up with some others also escaping from their lives for various reasons. 

I have already read quite a few festive stories this year, but I think this has to be my favourite so far. I found this a really compelling story that was at once heartwarming and heart-rending. Many busy mums will identify with Lizzy and her feelings of being under appreciated. As Lizzy and her family found in the story, many women could understand the desire to run away from the situation. The other people she meets at the beach are also in situations that readers can recognise. That's what makes this such a good read - all the characters and their situations are believable. Of course, the beach huts sound absolutely gorgeous, equipped as they are with all mod cons; definitely not a bad place to spend Christmas, or any other time of the year come to that. Needless to say, I would recommend this 5 star read to all. It would certainly make a great addition to a Christmas stocking. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Items/Merch I Would Like to Own 13/1//18

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Now putting this list together, and very much before that too, I know that I am very lucky to have been able to buy and have sent lots of lovely bookish items and bookish merch, just look at my latest book haul!

But there are of course always more bookish goodies to be had! I will leave links to as many of these as possible... (basically I just went to my favourites section on Etsy!)

Monday, 12 November 2018

Movie Reviews: October 28th-November 10th

Sorry today's post is a little late but I just couldn't fit it in this weekend so movie reviews on a Monday-yey! This fortnight, yes its been another 2 weeks of films, I saw four new releases, one older film and one special event-a good mix! I saw them at three different cinemas, nearly four but one was evacuated so... In case you want more detailed thoughts on these films, go and check out my video which was also uploaded today and I will leave at the bottom of this post. 

Yes another Disney classic that I haven't seen. I thought this one was alright and I realised that I had heard the music from it before. I saw it right before Halloween and I felt like it got me ready for Christmas. I was glad that I watched it but probably wouldn't watch it again. 

Oh my goodness I loved everything about this film and wanted to watch it again as soon as I came out the cinema, if only I didn't have to go to work. I saw it in a Dolby screen so the sound and the picture were super HD but I would consider seeing it again in 3D just to see the difference and report back to you what it was like so let me know if you want me to do that. Jack Whitehall and Omid Djalili were so funny in it, I know other people who have seen it here have noticed them. I loved the mix of music and ballet throughout. It felt very Disney but also had lots of unexpected surprises!

I knew when I saw the trailer for this one that I definitely wanted to see it and it is basically just these four dames talking about heir lives and careers. There are some laugh out loud moments, the whole theatre was laughing at several points throughout the film. I was a little disappointed in the way it was shot, I felt like some of the clips and the cutaways that they had edited in had nothing to do with the next segment of talking, like they had just put in in there because they had to have something different every ten minutes or something. If you are interested in the lives of these British actresses then you will definitely enjoy this very candid chat and interview style film but there were definitely some things about the editing and shots that I questioned. 

Of course I loved this one. Again I saw in Dolby so it felt like being at a rock concert. I've also done that thing where I watch interviews with the actors and making of snippets I've found online since watching the film so you can tell how much I enjoyed it. If you get the chance go and see this and if you can do it as a double bill with A Star is Born then lucky luck you, go for it!

This was one I knew from the trailers that I definitely wanted to go and see. It is based on David Sheff's book so it is a true story. Nick Sheff also has a book out that recounts his side of the story but the film is from David's point of view. This film is heartbreaking, very slow and quiet but really shows just how far a parent's love with stretch. I was amazed by this story, I did cry, but I generally just felt every moment of this one. If you're feeling a little fragile, I would wait until you're a little stronger to go and see this one, that's your care warning from me!

I got to see a screening of this awesome musical in the cinema-how cool is that? And better still, I was the only one in the cinema, and I had to get someone to actually start the film since it got to 8 minutes after the start time and it wasn't playing yet! But nevertheless it was awesome to get to see this again and in a completely different setting. I wish that the movie theatre had publicised this because I only stumbled across it by accident and they were playing it for 2 days, 2 screenings each day and I fear those other screenings were as empty as mine. I saw this in London in May and this one was screened from one of the Sheffield performances so it was the same cast with a couple of differences. I was a geek and took my programme so that I had something to read during the 20 minute interval. If this comes up again in a cinema near you, go and watch it because its such a great musical. 

I also had that thing where I'd spent nearly 3 hours watching people who all sound like me and then came out of the movie theatre and was shocked to find no one who sounded like me anymore, odd!

Let me know, as always, if there is a new release you would like to hear my thoughts on, I am always happy to go and see something I hadn't planned on seeing and tell me in the comments if you have seen anything awesome at the movies this week!

Friday, 9 November 2018

Review: I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

For so many people, reading isn't just a hobby or a way to pass the time--it's a lifestyle. Our books shape us, define us, enchant us, and even sometimes infuriate us. Our books are a part of who we are as people, and we can't imagine life without them.

I'd Rather Be Reading is the perfect literary companion for everyone who feels that way. In this collection of charming and relatable reflections on the reading life, beloved blogger and author Anne Bogel leads readers to remember the book that first hooked them, the place where they first fell in love with reading, and all of the moments afterward that helped make them the reader they are today. Known as a reading tastemaker through her popular podcastWhat Should I Read Next?, Bogel invites book lovers into a community of like-minded people to discover new ways to approach literature, learn fascinating new things about books and publishing, and reflect on the role reading plays in their lives.

The perfect gift for the bibliophile in everyone's life, I'd Rather Be Reading will command an honored place on the overstuffed bookshelves of any book lover.

Review: This was such a great collection of essays and before I say anything else, I'm putting it out there, it is a must for any book lover. I found myself nodding along with this book at every turn, saying 'yes! That's so me' all of the time. Laughing and really feeling like Anne Bogel was an old friend and we were just chatting about something that we totally have in common!

I listened to this one on audiobook but I now have a signed mini hardback because the book is just so cute and I have already re-read one or two of the essays in this book because I just identified with them so much. The audio book is read by the author. She has a podcast and so you can tell she was a natural at talking about books, I enjoyed having her in the car with me chatting about how to organise your bookshelves, what happens when all your holds come in at once at the library and what you do when you find your book twin. Those were some of my favourites. 

Genuinely if you have ever struggled to finish a book or felt guilty for not doing that, there is advice for you in this book. If you have ever wailed to the librarian that all of your holds came in and there is no way you will ever be able to read them all  before they're due back, this is for you. And if you're telling people everyone who asks how you read so much that the key is to always have a book with you and that is a mantra to live by, then this book is for you. With the holiday season coming up this is definitely a book to give as a gift so you can share it with other book lovers in your life. I loved it and am glad to have it in pride of place on my bookshelves!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Review: The Mother of All Christmases by Milly Johnson

Eve Glace - co-owner of the theme park Winterworld - is having a baby and her due date is a perfectly timed 25th December. And she’s decided that she and her husband Jacques should renew their wedding vows with all the pomp that was missing the first time.  But growing problems at Winterworld keep distracting them … 

Annie Pandoro and her husband Joe own a small Christmas cracker factory, are well set up and happy together despite life never blessing them with a much-wanted child.  But when Annie finds that the changes happening to her body aren’t typical of the menopause but pregnancy, her joy is uncontainable. 

Palma Collins has agreed to act as a surrogate, hoping the money will get her out of the gutter in which she finds herself.  But when the couple she is helping split up, is she going to be left carrying a baby she never intended to keep?

Annie, Palma and Eve all meet at the ‘Christmas Pudding Club’, a new directive started by a forward-thinking young doctor to help mums-to-be mingle and share their pregnancy journeys. Will this group help each other to find love, contentment and peace as Christmas approaches?

Review: Oh this brought back such wonderful memories of reading the Yorkshire pudding club for the same time. Women supporting each other, various story lines to get your teeth into and of course that wonderful Yorkshire setting! I cannot stress enough what a salve it is to have Yorkshire dialect and Yorkshire settings mentioned in Milly's books every time. They make me feel like I am visiting home every time I read them and I swear my accent is stronger after I finish each book!

I loved catching up with some old faces as well! It was great to find out how Eve was getting on after the opening of Winterworld and dive back into her world as well. I was so pleased when I found out that she was expecting as well, I enjoyed seeing her journey over the course of the novel. Annie was great to read about as well. I love the fact that she is so in denial about even thinking she could be pregnant initially. I was telling her off a little initially. I love how passionate she is about her business as well!

I think Palma was my favourite character to read about and her thread of the novel definitely had the most drama and had me gasping,. I wanted to mother her and just tell her everything was going to be OK and I am glad that she found some women in her life to befriend and also to give her some of the support that she needed!

There were so many moments that made me laugh throughout this novel. I mean the fact that we have a cracker company in the book means that we have some great cracker jokes but also all of the more embarrassing features of pregnancy and relationships. There are also some very real moments and I think I cried a total of four times. It really was a wonderful read and I really do hope we might possibly get a glimpse of the summer pudding club at some point in the future! If you're a Milly fan then you won't be disappointed and if this is going to be your first then I would definitely recommend ordering her entire back catalogue now-you're going to need it!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US