Saturday, 23 June 2018

Blog Tour: Extract from Stalker by Lisa Stone

Today I am part of another very exciting blog tour. I have an extract from the new novel by Lisa Stone for you, Stalker. You can click here to order your copy. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews. 

Here's what it's all about...

Derek Flint is a loner. He lives with his mother and spends his
evenings watching his clients on the CCTV cameras he has installed inside their homes. He likes their companionship – even if it’s through a screen.

When a series of crimes hits Derek’s neighbourhood, DC Beth Mayes begins to suspect he’s involved. How does he know so much about the victims’ lives? Why won’t he let anyone into his office? And what is his mother hiding in that strange, lonely house?
As the crimes become more violent, Beth must race against the clock to find out who is behind the attacks. Will she uncover the truth in time? And is Derek more dangerous than even she has guessed?
A spellbinding crime novel from the worldwide bestseller
Cathy Glass, writing as Lisa Stone.

Want to read more? Here's that exclusive extract for you!
At half past five, the job was done. Derek checked the place was clean and tidy and that all their tools were packed in the van and then told Paul he could go. All that remained was for Derek to talk the clients through operating the system, and he never left until the clients felt confident using it.
   ‘I’m glad you’re pleased with the quality of the images,’ Derek said an hour later as he and Mr and Mrs Williams stood in front of their monitor in the hall. He’d shown them how to navigate the screen with the mouse, rewind to a specified date and time, download information, zoom in and out, and decide which images to display. They were now looking at their children in the living room watching television.
   ‘Stop picking your nose, Jack,’ his father called from the hall. They laughed as Jack looked up startled, wondering how he’d been caught.
   ‘I’ve changed the default password along the lines your husband suggested so you can remember it,’ Derek said, winding up. ‘It’s now rujuwi10.’
   ‘I won’t remember that!’ Julie exclaimed.
   ‘Yes, you will,’ Russ said. ‘It’s the first two letters of our names and 10.’
   ‘Of course.’ She laughed, tapping her forehead at having not realized.
   ‘Change it again if you want,’ Derek said. ‘But please tell me if you do. I’m maintaining your system – free for five years – so if there is a technical problem I’ll need to be able to log in to sort it out.’
   ‘Yes, of course,’ Russ said.
   ‘Now, I’ve loaded the website to both your phones; are you sure you don’t want me to do the same with your tablets and laptops?’
   ‘No, that’s fine, I’ll do it,’ Russ said. ‘Thanks for everything. I’ll certainly recommend you.’
   ‘Thank you. Please don’t hesitate to phone or email me if there is anything further I can help you with.’
   ‘We will,’ Russ said. They shook hands.
   Derek turned to Mrs Williams. ‘Nice seeing you again. You’ll sleep easier in your bed now you’re all protected.’
   ‘We will indeed.’

Thanks so much to Lisa for sharing that with us today!

Friday, 22 June 2018

Blog Tour: Review of The Single Mum's Mansion by Janet Hoggarth

Today I am excited to share my review of The Single Mum's Mansion with you as part of the blog tour. You can find information about the author and the buy links if you scroll down the post. Don't forget to visit the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews!

Amanda Wilkie unexpectedly finds herself alone with three children under five in a rambling Victorian house in London, after her husband walks leaves them claiming he’s just ‘lost the love’, like one might carelessly lose a glove.

A few months later, Amanda’s heavily pregnant friend, Ali, crashes into her kitchen announcing her partner is also about to abscond. Once Ali's baby Grace is born, Amanda encourages them to move in. When Jacqui, a long-lost friend and fellow single mum, starts dropping by daily, the household is complete.

Getting divorced is no walk in the park, but the three friends refuse to be defined by it. And, as they slowly emerge out of the wreckage like a trio of sequin-clad Gloria Gaynors singing ‘I Will Survive’, they realise that anything is possible. Even loving again…

Review: I love the premise behind this book and the overarching storyline was fun. It is also incredibly feminist and involves very strong women as the song goes 'sisters doing it for themselves'. I enjoyed getting to know main character Amanda and her three children. Her friend Ali and her daughter Grace and their other friend Jacqui. There are also a whole host of other supporting characters, some of whom were hard to keep track of because I didn't quite know how they fitted into the lives of our main characters or because they had similar names. 

There are definitely parts of this novel that show the darker side of divorce and being a single parent and we live through a whole host of emotions that Amanda lives through. There are trigger warnings here for miscarriage and also unwanted pregnancies so just be warned of that before going in. As I say I enjoyed the overarching storyline about women sticking together and supporting each other in times of trouble. Amanda also gets into alternative healing as the book progresses and here's where I had some issues. Some of the things that she goes in for just seemed a little out of character for her and she and her friends refer to the books and the therapies that she uses as 'beardy weirdy' which I also thought was out of character for her and could also cause offense to others. I thought that this side of the novel felt a little detached from the rest of it. 

As well as getting to see the highs and lows of living the single parent life and going through a divorce, we also get to see what happens when mums let their hair down. There is quite a bit of drinking and drug use in the novel which did shock me a little and again seems a little out of character for some of the mums in this book. There are hangovers galore and the emotional roller coasters that go with 'the morning after'. I did enjoy the premise behind this book and what it does to promote strong women supporting each other. I enjoyed the fact that it revolves around three amazing mums holding their own in the big bad world, but I did have a few issues with it. 

To order your copy and see for yourself, just click here!

About the author

Janet Hoggarth has worked on a chicken farm, as a bookseller, children’s book editor and DJ with her best friend (under the name of Whitney and Britney). She has published several children’s books, the most recent ones written under the pseudonym of Jess Bright. Her first adult novel, The Single Mums’ Mansion is based on her experiences of living communally as a single parent.

Follow Janet

Twitter: @janethauthor
Facebook: @JanetHoggarthAuthor

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Instagram: @ariafiction

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Review: Daisy's Vintage Cornish Campervan by Ali McNamara

Welcome to the gorgeous Cornish town of St Felix, where there's magic in the air...
When Ana inherits a broken-down camper van from her best friend, she takes the chance for a quick trip to Cornwall - some sea air and fish and chips on the beach is just the tonic she needs.
But St Felix has bigger plans for Ana. She discovers a series of unsent postcards, dating back to the 1950s, hidden in the upholstery of the van. Ana knows that it's a sign: she'll make sure that the messages reach the person that they were meant for. And as the broken-down van is restored to gleaming health, so Ana begins to find her way back to happiness.

Review: Get ready to suspend your belief for around about 368 pages because this book has a whole lot of magic thrown in. This book is set in fictional St Felix which is based on real St Ives and so the setting of this novel is absolutely gorgeous and there is a significant amount of travel around Cornwall in this book as well so you are in for a treat beach wise. I read this right after reading another book set in St Ives so I was a little Cornwall saturated but if you're looking for beaches to read about whilst dreaming of a coastal holiday of you're own then there are plenty in here for you!

I really enjoyed reading about Ana, there is definitely more to her than meets the eye. Even us readers don't find out about the hidden depths to her personality until the very end of this novel and so the we get to find out about her as the other characters in the book do. She alludes to certain traits and characteristics but I enjoyed watching her character reveal and change as the novel went on. There are some very cute dogs in this novel, Ralph and Clarice and I enjoyed what they contributed to the story, I would love to hear more about Ralph in the future that's for sure. 

There is definitely some romance in the novel with a couple of potential suitors, Noah and Malachi. The romance is very much of the slow burn variety, my favourite kind and I liked being kept on the edge of my seat in a 'will they/won't they?' situation. There are definitely some cliches here, the kind you find in a lot of romance story lines and whilst a few are fine, they did begin to grate after a little while, but I really really enjoyed the ending of this novel and how everything resolved. 

Daisy is also a big character in this novel, both the van and its female namesake and so she definitely needs to be given character credit as well. She leads to Ana taking all sorts of risks and going in very different directions to those she intended to and I loved that about her. We also have to try and find out who her previous owners were and so this book does turn into a sort of mystery at points. This leads to another group of characters coming into the tale and they were definitely a more diverse group of characters and fun to read about. 

As I mentioned, you have to suspend disbelief when you pick this novel up but if you're looking for a fun seaside romance with a little bit of mystery and a little bit of mid-life crisis thrown in then this will be the book for you. 

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

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Guest Post: A Evening with Stephanie Butland at The Little Ripon Bookshop

Since I have been back in Denver, my lovely guest reviewer AKA Linda AKA my mum AKA @highlandhamster on Twitter (go follow!) has been to a couple of book events on behalf of the blog. Also because book events are so fun and bookish people are the best!

Here's what happened when she went to the latest event, and Evening with Stephanie Butland at The Little Ripon Bookshop...

The Little Ripon Bookshop, an excellent independent bookshop, organised this event with Stephanie Butland, author of Lost for Words, published last year, and now The Curious Heart of Alisa Rae, published this month. After reading a couple of passages from the new book, Stephanie talked about various aspects of her writing, including researching her subject, choosing character names and, indeed, the title of the book, and choice of setting.

As dance plays a big role in The Curious Heart of Alisa Rae, there was even talk of a dance lesson with Anton du Beke. Finally, we were given some incite into her next book, due to be published in summer 2019. All in all, a fascinating evening. 

You can click here to read our review of The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae!

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Blog Tour: Recipe from One Summer in Italy by Sue Moorcroft

I am very excited to be part of the blog tour to celebrate One Summer in Italy by Sue Moorcroft. The book is already out in the UK and you can click here to order your copy now. We have already shared our review with you here on the blog so you can click here to read our thoughts. Don't forget to visit the other stops on the tour for more reviews and other exclusive content. 

Before I share a recipe from the book with you, here's what it's all about...

When Sofia Bianchi’s father Aldo dies, it makes her stop and look at things afresh. Having been his carer for so many years, she knows it’s time for her to live her own life – and to fulfil some promises she made to Aldo in his final days.
So there’s nothing for it but to escape to Italy’s Umbrian mountains where, tucked away in a sleepy Italian village, lie plenty of family secrets waiting to be discovered. There, Sofia also finds Amy who is desperately trying to find her way in life after discovering her dad isn’t her biological father.
Sofia sets about helping Amy through this difficult time, but it’s the handsome Levi who proves to be the biggest distraction for Sofia, as her new life starts to take off…

Davide’s Wild Mushroom Risotto

3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
175g risotto rice
1l boiling water
400g mixed mushrooms
100g grated parmesan
1 tsp chopped fresh chives
1 tsp fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
White truffle oil for drizzling (optional)

1.       Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan and fry the onions and garlic in a pan until the onions are soft and transparent. Season with a pinch of salt.
2.       Once the onions are cooked, add the risotto rice and stir until the rice is very hot and beginning to turn translucent. Add the water, a little at a time and stir continuously.
3.       Cook for 18-20 minutes then remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand.
4.       In a separate frying pan, heat a tbsp of olive oil, add the mushrooms and fry for a few minutes.
5.       Once the mushrooms are softened, mix them into the risotto base and cook the first for a further few minutes.
6.       When the rice is completely soft, stir in the parsley and chives and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
7.       To serve, place the risotto into four serving dishes and drizzle with white truffle oil if you choose.

Thank you so much to Sue for sharing with us today and remember to stop by those other stops on the tour!

Monday, 18 June 2018

Review: Bookshop Girl by Chole Coles

Bennett's Bookshop has always been a haven for sixteen-year-old Paige Turner. It's a place where she can escape from her sleepy hometown, hang out with her best friend, Holly, and also earn some money. But, like so many bookshops, Bennett's has become a 'casualty of the high street' - it's strapped for cash and going to be torn down. Paige is determined to save it but mobilising a small town like Greysworth is no mean feat.

Time is ticking - but that's not the only problem Paige has. How is she going to fend off the attractions of beautiful fellow artist, Blaine? And, more importantly, will his anarchist ways make or break her bookshop campaign?

Written by debut author and Foyles bookseller Chloe Coles, this is the first in a new laugh-out-loud and sparky teen series that will make you want to rush out and start your own bookshop campaign!

Review: Firstly, let it be noted that I laughed out loud at this book so many time whilst in a crowded airport and sitting on a full plane, so safe to say I enjoyed it a lot! I love the premise behind this book, a casualty of the high street that we have all seen a thousand times before, the local bookshop being closed. But it really does mean so much more to people that just a shop and I love that the heroine of this story is Paige Turner. 

This book is also awesomely feminist, at every turn Paige and her friend Holly are able to drop in something about being powerful women and not allow themselves to be objectified as 16 year old girls, I thought this was great! Paige is just a great character to read about and I'm so pleased to hear that there are going to be more books featuring her coming soon! She is strong-minded and mature but has just the same sorts of thoughts that we all did when we were 16 and so i defy any reader not to fall in love with her. 

As I've mentioned this book made me laugh a lot, it really is hilarious. Just some of the scenes that made me chuckle were during life drawing classes, moments with Paige and her friend Holly and moments where Paige is trying to play it cool in front of a new crush. So if those sounds like the kinds of things that would make you laugh then I suggest reading this book immediately!

The synopsis states that this book will make you want to start your own bookshop campaign and that is so true. This book is so much more than just some giggles an crushes. It has the whole massively feminist thing going on and also it has the support for an independent bookshop. They are becoming rarer and rarer these days and so this book is definitely in support of them and the importance of these institutions in our community. I can't wait to read more from Chloe Coles, this definitely doesn't read like a debut and you should all put it in your summer reading lists right now!

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

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Guest Review: The Time Traveller's Guide to Restoration Britain By Ian Mortimer

Happy Fathers' Day! To celebrate I had my Dad write this review for me! Time for another in my series of guest reviews for sport/history books. This one actually sounds like one I'd love to read myself!
The past is a foreign country: this is your guidebook.
If you could travel back in time, the period from 1660 to 1700 would make one of the most exciting destinations in history. It is the age of Samuel Pepys and the Great Fire of London; bawdy comedy and the libertine court of Charles II — the civil wars are over and a magnificent new era has begun.
But what would it really be like to live in Restoration Britain? Where would you stay and what would you eat? How much should you pay for one of those elaborate wigs? Should you trust a physician who advises you to drink fresh cow’s urine to cure your gout? Why are boys made to smoke in school? And why are you unlikely to get a fair trial in court?
The third volume in the series of Ian Mortimer’s bestselling Time Traveller’s Guides answers these crucial questions and encourages us to reflect on the customs and practices of daily life. This unique guide not only teaches us about the seventeenth century but makes us look with fresh eyes at the modern world.

Review: I listened to this book, which is a guide to living in the latter part of the 17th century, in its audio version. It describes events from 1660 to 1700, from the restoration of the monarchy, following the period of the Commonwealth under the puritans, until the end of the century.

Three monarchs ruled the kingdom during this period. Firstly, there was Charles II. He was very conscious of the fact that his father Charles I had been tried for treason and executed in 1649, resulting in the Commonwealth until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, so was mindful that he had to rule with the co-operation of parliament. He was succeeded in 1685 by his brother James (James II of England and James VII of Scotland). James had converted publicly to catholicism. Although he was welcomed initially as king, he gradually came to be perceived as favouring catholicism too much in his various appointments and was ousted in the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688 when the throne was offered jointly to his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange (William III). In practice, and in keeping with the times, the power rested with William, although parliament passed statutes to ensure that the monarchs could not rule without its consent.

The forty-year period described by the book was one of great changes. Initially, the restoration in 1660 brought to an end an era of puritan rule in which traditions such as dancing around the maypole on May Day, going to the theatre or horse racing were banned. These resumed following the restoration. The following years saw many events taking place, including wars and riots. This was also a period in which many innovations took place, including advancements in science. It was during this period that the Royal Society was founded. However, it is the details of everyday living covering such things as food, drink, clothing, health, shopping and entertainment, that the book is mainly concerned with.

Two famous diarists of the period, Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn, provide a lot of source material for the book, writing as they did about everyday life as well as the major events of the day such as the Great Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of London in 1666. Although the title of the book states that it is a guide to Restoration Britain, and Wales and Scotland are mentioned briefly, the two above diarists both lived in London and, therefore, much of the book deals with London.

I found the book provided a fascinating window into this period. One criticism I would make is that, too often, the description relies on a series of lists. Whether this was a consequence of my listening to it as an audio book and the lists would not be as apparent when reading the text, I cannot say. I would also add a cautionary note that there are some passages that are definitely not for the squeamish. One example is the operation that Pepys underwent to remove a bladder stone (remember, this was an era before the invention of anaesthetics). Happily for him, the operation was successful and he held celebratory dinners on its subsequent anniversaries.

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