Thursday 30 April 2020

April 2019 Unboxing & Book Haul | SO MANY NEW BOOKS


Book Spotlight and Free Gift: Vanishing Point by Vanessa Robertson @Ness_Robertson @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Today I am on the blog blitz for Vanishing Point by Vanessa Robertson. Vanishing Point is out now and you can click here to order a copy today.
Here's what it's all about...
A stolen painting.
A high stakes recovery operation.
A game of nerve.
Art advisor Kate Carpenter has an off-the-books sideline in art recovery, dealing with thieves and gangsters to reunite valuable artworks with their owners. But this time she’s taking it up a notch. Only a day after her ex-boyfriend was convicted of assaulting her, she’s off to Belarus on the trail of a priceless van Gogh with a posse of ex-soldiers riding shotgun. Right now, the buzz of securing the return of that painting is just what she needs.  

Free Gift

If you sign up for Vanessa's newsletter by clicking here you will receive a free gift-how exciting is that?
About the Author

Midlander by birth, Scot by choice, Vanessa Robertson won Pitch Perfect at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. Death Will Find Me, a crime novel set in 1920s Edinburgh featuring former spy, Tessa Kilpatrick is her first novel. Later in 2019, Vanessa will be launching a series of thrillers set in the world of high stakes art crime, and the second Tessa Kilpatrick book will be published in early 2020.

Vanessa lives in a cottage in the middle of a Scottish wood with her family and unfeasibly large dog. She enjoys wild beaches, Venetian cafes and wandering around art galleries. She dislikes celery, cheap notebooks and writing about herself in the third person.   

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Cover Reveal: Anna by Laura Guthrie

Today I have a cover reveal for you, it's been too long right? Always love a cover reveal. Anna by Laura Guthrie is out now and you can click here to order your copy.

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

Every cloud has a silver lining... doesn’t it? Anna is thirteen years old, lives in London with her father, and has Asperger’s syndrome.  When her father dies, she moves to Scotland to live with her estranged, reclusive mother. With little support to help her, she must use every coping strategy her father taught her—especially her ‘Happy Game’—as she tries to connect with her mother, discover her past, and deal with the challenges of being thrown into a brand new life along the way. 

Are you ready for the beautiful cover?

Here you go...

What do you think?

About The Author

Laura Guthrie grew up in the rural Scottish Highlands (“I come from where the planes don’t fly”). Her creative influences include Nessie and the elusive ‘Caiplich Beast’, as well as some choice authors and their works.
She has an honours degree in biological sciences from the University of Edinburgh, and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Glasgow.

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Poetry Review: My New Favourite Series? Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell


Guest Review: A Postcard from Italy by Alex Brown

Grace Quinn loves her job at Cohen’s Convenient Storage Company, finding occasional treasure in the forgotten units that customers have abandoned. Her inquisitive nature is piqued when a valuable art collection and a bundle of letters and diaries are found that date back to the 1930’s.
Delving deeper, Grace uncovers the story of a young English woman, Connie Levine, who follows her heart to Italy at the end of the Second World war. The contents also offer up the hope of a new beginning for Grace, battling a broken heart and caring for her controlling mother.
Embarking on her own voyage of discovery, Grace’s search takes her to a powder pink villa on the cliff tops overlooking the Italian Riviera, but will she unravel the family secrets and betrayals that Connie tried so hard to overcome, and find love for herself?

Review: It would be true to say that I have never encountered an Alex Brown book that I did not thoroughly enjoy. I am glad to report that this one is no exception. This story had me hooked from the very start of the journey as it transported me from the heart of London to a beautiful Italian town on an intriguing quest.

The central character in the book is Grace Quinn, who is employed by a small storage company doing a job which she loves, but has an unhappy life outside work. Part of her job at a small storage company in London, and one she enjoys particularly, involves clearing out out abandoned storage units. One such unit, belonging to a Mrs Donato, really catches Grace’s attention when she discovers potentially valuable items; not the usual type of articles left behind and forgotten. Her curiosity piqued, Grace also finds a diary, which leads her on a search to find out more about Mrs Donato, and ultimately to Italy and a man who becomes increasingly important to her.

I thought this was a truly marvellous piece of storytelling by Alex Brown. I was really caught up in the mystery surrounding the storage locker and the lady owner who, as Grace discovered, had spent such an amazing life. I actually gasped out loud at some points. I had to admire Grace’s determination to get to the bottom of the story, overcoming personal difficulties along the way. There are, of course, other characters in the book, including Grace’s kindly boss, her overbearing mother and unhelpful siblings, and her good friend and neighbour, Jamie. They all play important roles, but Grace is undoubtedly the lynchpin of the story and I was cheering her along all the way. I very much enjoyed the trip to Italy; the descriptions of sights and sounds, and of course the food had me longing to visit again. I would recommend this book without reservation to most readers; there is mystery, romance and travel within one cover.

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

Monday 27 April 2020

Review: Meet Me At Pebble Beach, Sink or Swim (Part 3) by Bella Osborne

This is the third part in a brand new four-part serial from Bella Osborne. Make sure you read parts one and two first! (There may be spoilers for part 1 and 2 ahead!)
Regan has just started to find her groove when tragedy strikes – threatening to send her right back to square one. But with her new market stall confirmed, she has plenty to keep her busy… and that’s before you add a hot fireman, a new four-legged friend and some sticky situations to the mix. 
But business is slow, and Regan is starting to doubt whether this is the right path for her after all…

Can she get her new business out of troubled waters?

Review: Wow this installment really drove the plot forwards, literally so much happens in this latest part of the series I hardly know where to start. If you've read parts 1 and 2 you'll know that Regan has a lot of irons in the fire and a lot of plans in place and it was great that in this book we get to see all of those plans coming to ahead and some of those plans being executed. 

We finally get to see a bit more of Chloe in this installment too, I have waited to find out more about Chloe since we began the series and so I'm pleased to be able to put more of a face to a name so to speak. In 'In Too Deep' the drama really ramped up a notch and I would say that the drama stays high in 'Sink or Swim' so much happens. There are some sad moments and some happy moments and I would say that this author has stuck a good balance of emotions here. 

I don't want to say too much more about 'Sink or Swim' because I don't want to give spoilers. Regan is learning a lot about jam and a lot about herself and her own way of life in the meantime. I can see things being set up for the climax of this series all along the way in this episode and I really can't wait to see how Bella wraps things up in Meet Me at Pebble Beach. 

To order your copy of Sink or Swim, just click here

Don't forget to pre-order the rest of the series...

Sunday 26 April 2020

Journeys That Change Us: Coming of Age in Young Adult Fiction Panel #SocDistBookFest


Guest Review: Sam Houston & the Alamo Avengers By Brian Kilmeade

In March 1836, the Mexican army led by General Santa Anna massacred more than two hundred Texians who had been trapped in the Alamo. After thirteen days of fighting, American legends Jim Bowie and Davey Crockett died there, along with other Americans who had moved to Texas looking for a fresh start. It was a crushing blow to Texas’s fight for freedom.
But the story doesn’t end there. The defeat galvanized the Texian settlers, and under General Sam Houston’s leadership they rallied. Six weeks after the Alamo, Houston and his band of settlers defeated Santa Anna’s army in a shocking victory, winning the independence for which so many had died.
Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers recaptures this pivotal war that changed America forever, and sheds light on the tightrope all war heroes walk between courage and calculation. Thanks to Kilmeade’s storytelling, a new generation of readers will remember the Alamo—and recognize the lesser known heroes who snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Review: This book is part biography of Sam Houston, and part history of the founding of Texas as an independent republic, although the two accounts are closely linked.

In 1803, the USA purchased land west of the Mississippi from France in a transaction known as the Louisiana Purchase. Many believed that Texas was part of the deal and that this would allow for the westwards expansion of the fledgling nation. However, in subsequent negotiations in 1819 with Spain, the US president John Quincy Adams agreed that Texas should remain part of the Spanish colony of Mexico. When Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, it became a republic with Texas part of the state of Coahuila y Tejas. American settlers heading west began to populate Texas, attracted by the cheap price of land offered by the Mexican government who wanted to encourage the settlement of a largely empty area. Many of these settlers were seeking to make a new beginning. One such was Sam Houston, a former governor of Tennessee. His political career looked to be over following the end of his first marriage. He hoped to revive his fortunes in Texas and arrived there at the end of 1832. Shortly after his arrival, he was chosen as a delegate to a convention that was petitioning the Mexican government to make Texas a separate Mexican state.

In 1833, General Santa Anna was elected president of Mexico. He proved to be an autocratic leader, undoing earlier liberal reforms. In 1835, amid growing unrest among the Texan population, who had organised themselves into local militias, Santa Anna dispatched troops to disarm the Texans. After a few successful skirmishes, the Texans drove the Mexican garrison from the town of San Antonio and began to build defences around the old Spanish mission church known as the Alamo. Towards the end of 1835, Houston was appointed by the provisional government of Texas as General of its army and set about trying to recruit and organise the volunteers. He was concerned that this makeshift army was not ready to take on the professional army of Mexico, particularly after he heard at the beginning of 1836 that Santa Anna was marching on Texas at the head of a large army determined to crush the Texas Revolution. Arriving at San Antonio on 23rd February, the Mexican army besieged the Alamo for 12 days, before storming and capturing it on 6th March, resulting in the death of all 180 defenders including such famous names as Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett. The killing of prisoners that had surrendered, together with news of the executions at Goliad three weeks later of up to 400 prisoners that had surrendered, incensed the Texans. By this time, the Texan provisional government had declared independence from Mexico. Sam Houston was with his army to the east of San Antonio and north of Goliad. Still fearful that this army of volunteers was not ready to face Santa Anna’s army, he decided to retreat eastwards with the Mexican army in pursuit.

During the retreat, the Texan army grew in size and Houston was able to train his troops. Meanwhile, Santa Anna split his forces. Houston’s and Santa Anna’s armies came together by the San Jacinto River and on 21st April 1836, the Texans won a decisive victory. Santa Anna subsequently was captured. In the peace negotiations that followed, Texas gained its independence as a republic. In September, Sam Houston was voted in as the first president of the new Republic of Texas. Eventually, in 1845, Texas became the twenty-eight state of the USA and Sam Houston went on to represent it in the US Senate and became its governor.

Whilst everybody remembers the Alamo and its defenders as the embodiment of the Texas Revolution, it is the author Brian Kilmeade’s assertion in this book that it is the Battle of San Jacinto that has greater military and political significance. By gaining independence from Mexico and eventually becoming its twenty-eighth state, Texas allowed the westwards expansion of the USA from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. I found the book to be an exciting and readable account of this period in the history of Texas. Having visited the Alamo and heard about its defenders, I was very interested to see the events there put into the context of the whole struggle of the Texans leading to independence. The book has a number of illustrations and maps throughout. There are notes and an extensive bibliography at the end. As the author himself acknowledges, there are times when the primary historical sources are contradictory and he has had to make judgements as to which to use. However, the list of further reading at the end of the book will allow readers, who so wish, to pursue their own research. Overall, I would recommend this book as an interesting and thrilling account of a people’s struggle for liberty.

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

Saturday 25 April 2020

Social Distance Book Fest Panels!

Its finally time for the Social Distance Book Fest, where you can stay home while supporting authors and indie bookstores, and hopefully add a few new books to your TBR! 

This is an all day event created by a dedicated group of bookworms from all corners of the internet. It includes 18 panels, more than 80 authors, virtual Fandom Meetups, virtual signing opportunities, and some amazing giveaways! Check out our website and social media linked below for all the details, and check out our page where you can order books from featured authors and support indie bookstores. 10% of proceeds will be donated to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s COVID-19 Fund. We hope you take advantage of everything the book fest has to offer, and in case you miss any interesting panels, check out our playlist of all the panels and meetups, which will continue to be available for viewing

Here's the website will allllllll the info in one place:

And her's the SDBF BookshopDotOrg page:

VERY Important, here's our  Panel Playlist: This is where you can click through to see all the panel, set reminders so you don't miss any and also watch any you did miss after the event is over, this will be here for you to enjoy whenever you want to...

And for all the latest updates, here's our links to social media, they'll have plenty going on during and after the event!

Here's another reminder of my panel... That thumbnail will look a lot prettier once it has been live!

Featuring all these amazing books and authors...


And don't forget I have a Giveaway of The Two Lives of Louis and Louise by Julie Cohen going on right here in celebration of the fest!

See you in the panels-enjoy the day!

Friday 24 April 2020

Blog Tour: Review of Mum's Big Break by Louise Emma Clarke

I'm very excited to be part of the blog tour today for Mum's Big Break by Louise Emma Clarke. I loved part one, you can read my review here. I have a review to share with you today and if you like the sound of that you can click here to order the book which is out now. 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...
Jess's life was turned upside down when her blog went viral. Now, with hundreds of thousands of followers, Jess is now navigating the trials and tribulations of a world online.
Being a mummy blogger was original an escape, but now it seems to be turning into a career. And after one wrong post on her social media channels, Jess discovers that life in the spotlight isn't always peachy.
With a new baby on the way, the possibility of starring in a reality TV show and a husband who's struggling with his wife's new-found fame, Jess has a lot going on.
Jess needs to decide whether this is everything she wanted it to be or whether this is all a bit too much for her? Can Jess persevere against the haters, rise up above the pettiness and find the perfect balance of life in the real world and life online?

Review: I so loved being back with Jess and the gang for the second book in this series. I loved seeing Bella growing up and finding out what has been happening in everyone’s lives. That is a beauty of a sequel so thank you for writing this Louise Emma Clarke!

I love how these books are structured. We get a diary form with some facts and figures at the beginning of each entry including things like social media followers, meetings with publicists and holidays given. It is interesting watching that grow and change. Then we get Jess’s blog post for the day which is in the form of a letter to her daughter and her growing baby bump. It's a delightful way to start each chapter and I think makes the pace of the book nice and quick, you’re anxious to read on. 

One of the reasons I loved the first book in this series is the flaws that we can see in all of the main mummy characters. Social media leads us to believe that people have a baby, come out of hospital, lose the baby weight and then everything is cute and sweet afterwards. You make healthy snacks and live in pastel colors when that is not reality. This book shows the reality. Jess isn’t always happy, things are messy and sometimes you need the babies to binge watch some peppa pig so you can have a glass of wine and a good cry. I love these characters for their raw realness, I really hope we get another book featuring these ladies. 

Speaking of social media. I love any book that shows what having a blog and posting on any kind of social media is really like. This book talks about what happens if you post about something that was gifted for you in exchange for a paid promotion. What happens when people decide to become keyboard warriors in your comments and the competitive nature of blogging and social media in general. Obviously we know that this will date but I spend so much of my time online I want to read about this so thank you to Louise Emma Clarke for showing this in your books and really helping us feel like we are not alone with those Instagram algorithms. 

I loved this book and really recommend it. Make sure you’ve read book one first though!

To order book one, just click here!

About the author

Louise's blog, Mum of Boys and Mabel has over 100k followers. Having moved to Dubai with her family she's now back in the UK and is enjoying writing. From Mum with Love is her debut novel.

Follow Louise
Facebook: @mumboysandmabel
Twitter: @mumofboysmabel

Follow Aria
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

Giveaway! The Two Lives of Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen

Exciting news! Today I have a giveaway for a paperback copy of 

The Two Lives of Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen. 

Julie is appearing as part of the Social Distance Book Festival on Saturday 25th April. The Tackling Consent, Gender and Toxic Masculinity in Romance Panel will be live on Saturday at 11am EST (4pm BST) and you can also watch it via this link afterwards if you miss it on the day. 

As part of the festival, Julie Cohen is giving away a paperback copy of her amazing novel The Two Lives of Louis & Louise. 

This giveaway is worldwide and will be open for one week. Enter via the Rafflecopter below. Best of luck!

Thursday 23 April 2020

Reading Vlog: Stay At Home Reading Rush... HOW many pages?!?!


Review: Salty, Bitter, Sweet by Mayra Cuevas

A slow-burn romance in a cutthroat kitchen! There’s more to becoming a top chef for 17-year-old Isabella Fields than just not getting chopped … especially when the chances of things heating up with an intriguing boy and becoming a food star in the kitchen are both on the chopping block.
Aspiring chef Isa’s family life has fallen apart after the death of her Cuban abuela and the divorce of her parents. She moves in with her dad and her new stepmom, Margo, in Lyon, France, where Isa feels like an outsider in her father’s new life. Isa balances her time between avoiding the awkward, “why-did-you-cheat-on-Mom” conversation with figuring out how a perpetually single woman can at least be a perpetually single chef.
The upside of Isa’s world being turned upside-down?
Her father’s house is located only 30 minutes away from the restaurant of world-famous Chef Pascal Grattard, who runs a prestigiously competitive international kitchen apprenticeship. The prize job at Chef Grattard’s renowned restaurant also represents a transformative opportunity for Isa who is desperate to get her life back in order—and desperate to prove she has what it takes to work in a haute kitchen. But Isa’s stress and repressed grief begin to unravel when the attractive, enigmatic Diego shows up unannounced with his albino dog.
How can Isa expect to hold it together when she’s at the bottom of her class at the apprenticeship, her new stepmom is pregnant, she misses her abuela dearly, and things with the mysterious Diego reach a boiling point?

Review: Oh this book had a little bit of everything and so therefore I ended up falling in love with Isa and her story. 

Isa is a great character to spend time with because she is at the stage in life where you think you have your identity as part of a family figured out and then you realise you really don’t. I love the fact that Isa is from Chicago with a French mother, a Cuban grandmother and is there in France with her father to pursue her dreams of being a chef-what a great mix for a novel. 

As if the pressure of family life and chef life wasn’t enough. This author has added in a possible love interest for Isa who is very much an annoyance to her and a hindrance to her career. I loved watching the relationships in this book grow and change. Isa is such a strong character and so seeing how her relationship with her dad evolves and has evolved, as well as the relationships with Margot and Diego and what will happen with those-just magic!

This story also deals with some excellent issues surrounding gender identity. It’s like every aspect of being 16 and one’s identity has been put into a pot and shaken up. I love how the role of women in haute cuisine is explored. The role of a daughter vs the role of a son and how gender bias can work both negatively and positively. Overall this book shows that there is still a gender bias, particularly in this industry and whether things work negatively or positively for you personally, that bias must be addressed. 

Of course I loved all the food in the book. It isn’t always delicious sounding but it is always very intriguing and definitely put me in the mood to be in the kitchen, or perhaps just enjoyed a French Omelette with a nice Cafe Au Lait. I really enjoyed this book. I did the audio and the narration was excellent. High recommend!
To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Guest Review: Date with Danger by Julia Chapman

Julia Chapman's fifth Dales Detectives Agency novel, Date With Danger, sees our intrepid leads Samson and Delilah on the trail of a sheep rustler turned killer. Perfect for fans of M.C. Beaton and Gervase Phinn.
In the heart of Yorkshire, the Dales Detective Agency is about to face its biggest challenge.
A fatal accident at Bruncliffe’s livestock auction mart leads auctioneer Harry Furness to call in detective duo Samson O’Brien and Delilah Metcalfe, but what starts as a simple health-and-safety investigation soon takes a sinister turn when they discover evidence that suggests murder.
With their enquiries ongoing, Clive Knowles approaches them for help – his sheep are being threatened by the gang of rustlers that is plaguing the Dales. Meanwhile, Poacher Pete Ferris has also decided to play his hand, setting in motion a blackmail plot which will ensure Samson is pulled back into trouble with his nemesis Rick Procter.
With all three cases converging, Samson and Delilah will find that their latest investigation is fraught with danger; a danger that will leave them fighting for their lives.

Review: This is the fifth book in the Dales Detective series by Julia Chapman, following the adventures of Samson O’Brien and Delilah Metcalfe, proprietors of the Dales Detective Agency and the Dales Dating Agency, respectively. All the books in this series are set in the glorious Yorkshire Dales, where the fictional town of Bruncliffe can be found surrounded by rugged and beautiful terrain. I am always struck by how cleverly the covers of these books have been designed to give snapshots of the story within. As with the other volumes in this series, this story can be read as a stand-alone.

This story begins with what appears to be a horrible accident at Bruncliffe’s auction mart that leads to the death of one of the long-time employees. However, suspicion that this may not have been an accident at all leads to Samson and Delilah being called in to investigate. Their inquiries uncover far more than anyone expected, culminating in a very dangerous situation for the pair. Luckily, Delilah’s gorgeous Weimaraner Tolpuddle is on hand to watch over them. Meanwhile, local property developer, Rick Procter, who has crossed swords with Samson on more than one occasion is up to no good yet again with serious results for another familiar character.

As a confirmed fan of this series, I was not surprised to find myself quickly immersed in this story, finishing it in no time. As with previous parts, I was struck by the vivid descriptions of the Yorkshire scenery which always fire the imagination. This story was particularly exciting, with protagonists playing for high stakes, making for ruthless actions. I liked the way that Julia Chapman, through her skilful writing, gradually built the tension as the story progressed; I really couldn’t predict how it was going to end. I also enjoyed the closeness developing between the two principal characters now that they are working together; I’m hoping that this will continue in subsequent books. However, concern that events from Samson’s past might endanger Delilah could keep them apart. I’m hoping that a sixth book in the series is in the pipeline and may hold some answers. This is most definitely a book that I would recommend for all sorts of readers. In fact, if you haven’t read others in the series, why not read them all?

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