Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Book review - Suzanne Sussex

Book review of The Greater Good by Suzanne Sussex

The news reports spoke of a virus sweeping across South America. Entire villages were wiped out, yet events soon turned the media attention elsewhere.

Then a video hit the Internet and quickly went viral. A video showing a woman, attacked, bitten and dying.
Then she rose again.

Experts confirmed the video as a fake and prank. It was widely condemned as fear-mongering.

But all the expert denials counted for nothing when the virus reached the UK.

Chloe finds herself left behind, abandoned by Steve who rejoins the army to fight the new enemy. She does not know if she can survive without him.

Sam, arrogant and selfish in his immaturity, is miles from home, alone and scared. He knows he must change, must become a man, to endure this strange new world.

They must all make sacrifices to do what is right.

To do what is right for the greater good.

Buy the book here: http://amzn.eu/cZfJYdt 

My review

I love a good virus/disaster story! I find the plot exciting and its one of those things where you put yourself into the situation and wonder what you'd do. I found the storyline gripping and the characters had more depth believability than I was expecting. The sacrifices that the characters had to make were thought-provoking and engaging to the reader. It definitely made me want to read the other books in the trilogy. Would make a great movie, I always think of these books in terms of how they'd be portrayed on the big screen. Most zombie books don't have the depth and character development that this book achieves. Also it was nice to read a UK based virus plot. 

Great job to the author! Can't wait to read the next one...

Authors and their animals - Author Bella Osborne and Lily

 Welcome to my author and animals feature. Today we meet Bella Osborne - the fabulous author of the new release available in December, Ottercombe Bay - and we learn more about her beautiful cat Lily. 

Over to Bella...

Hi, I’m Bella Osborne and when I was a child I really, really, really, wanted to be a vet but soon discovered that having an allergy to most things furry was a distinct disadvantage. It may have affected my career decisions but thankfully it’s never stopped me owning a pet. 

Right now I have a tabby cat named Lily who was a year old when we got her from a local rescue three years ago. She is the most chilled out cat I’ve ever had, in fact, we’re fairly sure she thinks she’s a dog. She doesn’t sit down with the precise manner of a cat she flops down as if someone has knocked her legs away. She likes to be with you almost all the time and lies at my feet while I write and sometimes on my keyboard, which is less helpful.

Lily enjoys to be cuddled - don’t we all. She loves her tummy tickled and meows until you do it and she doesn’t grab and scratch like cats usually do when you stroke them, she’s happy for you to tickle her tummy until she falls asleep. She likes to play fetch with a small sponge ball and a game we call ‘Chase’, where she runs up to you meows and runs off expecting you to chase her. If you don’t play she just keeps coming back until you do. 

Lily’s quite cheeky because if she’s not getting the attention she wants she will pull the pins out of my cork board which is where I keep the latest plan of my book. She knows that usually gets her noticed (she’s just done it while I was writing this post!).

I write romantic comedies and always have an animal as part of the story. I map out their character just as I do my main characters and try to bring out their personalities, sometimes they even have a backstory. I was a big fan of author Zoe Barnes who did this very well and as she is sadly no longer with us I felt it was something I would like to build into my stories. So far there’s been four dogs, two cats, two horses and two hamsters in my books and my next one continues the tradition as it features a small black pug with a big attitude.

The idea of having a black pug came to me early in my writing process and with the help of my daughter, I named him Bugsy Malone. I loved writing about Bugsy as my heroine isn’t used to dogs and becomes convinced that he’s an evil genius hell-bent on bumping her off which was lots of fun to write and hopefully adds a balance to other more serious elements in the story.

Book blurb:

Pre-order the novel here: http://amzn.eu/2as4MIp
My fourth novel ‘A Year in Ottercombe Bay’ is set in a fictional Devon seaside town. It’s the story of Daisy who is forced to return to Ottercombe Bay when a relative leaves her something unusual in their will. As the place where her mother died the town holds sad memories as well as a number of questions for Daisy so she must come to terms with her past before she can make something of her future. With a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with lots of attitude, there’s more to the sleepy town than Daisy remembers.

Ottercombe Bay is being released as a four part e-book serial. Part one is out 28th December with the others following at six week intervals and the paperback of the whole story will be published July 2018.

Thank you so much, Bella for joining us today to talk more about yourself and lovely Lily. I am really looking forward to reading your new release in December.

Find out more about Bella:

Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. In 2016, her debut novel, 'It Started At Sunset Cottage', was shortlisted for the Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year and RNA Joan Hessayon New Writers Award. Her novel ‘A Family Holiday’ was shortlisted for the Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year 2017. Bella's stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories. Bella believes that writing your own story really is the best fun ever, closely followed by talking, eating chocolate, drinking fizz and planning holidays.

She lives in The Midlands, UK with her lovely husband and wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept her as she is (with mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping).
For more about Bella, visit her website at www.bellaosborne.com or follow her on Twitter - @osborne_bella Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BellaOsborneAuthor/

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Heart Note blog blitz - 10 things you didn't know about author Cassandra O'Leary

Heart Note blog blitz - 26th November

I'm delighted to have the author of Heart Note, Cassandra O'Leary on my blog today for her blog blitz. Cassandra shares with us 10 things we didn't know about herself. 

Welcome Cassandra and over to you...

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Me
By Cassandra O’Leary

The first thing this topic reminds me of, is the fantastic teen romcom movie, 10 Things I Hate About You. Did you know I was a massive film and TV fangirl? Well, that’s the first thing to add to this list.

1. I’m a massive film and TV fangirl
I probably know quite a few movies line-for-line, off by heart (The Breakfast Club, anyone?) and absorbed films by osmosis growing up. These included some of my Mum’s favs like James Bond, classic Hollywood musicals and Hitchcock films. Later I fell in love with romantic comedies such as When Harry Met Sally and Working Girl. But I also have a soft spot for sci fi and horror/paranormal movies like Star Trek (every variation), Star Wars, The Omen and The X-Files. I minored in film studies at university so I could write essays on Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

2. I worked as a ‘spritzer chick’ and shop girl for a few years
That’s the inspiration for my new release Christmas novella, Heart Note. I was a perfume promotions girl or spritzer chick, spraying perfumes on customers and little sample cards. Later I worked on a cosmetics counter and learned all about applying makeup. I worked in some of Australia’s biggest department stores and no doubt served tens of thousands of customers.

3. I’ve travelled the world
My debut novel, Girl on a Plane, was partly inspired by my love of travel. I first went overseas in the final year of my uni degree on an International Marketing study tour. This was fantastic, not just for learning, obviously. We visited companies like L’Oreal in Paris and Heineken in Amsterdam. Later I travelled with hubby and we’ve been to Europe, Asia, New Zealand, the US (some states)…still more to see.

4. I have Coeliac/Celiac disease
This is a not-so-fun fact. I actually became quite ill in my late twenties and was diagnosed with Coeliac disease at age 31. Otherwise known as gluten intolerance, it’s an autoimmune disease that can have serious complications if I don’t follow a strict gluten free diet. This can be easier said than done, as even if I’m super careful, I can get ‘glutened’ when I eat out. Many hours of throwing up and/or sitting on the loo and weeks of exhaustion usually follow. Ick.

5. I can sing!
I have a pretty good singing voice and was in choir and had the lead roles in musicals when I was at school. But I won’t be singing on YouTube in a hurry…these days I’m more of a typing behind-the-keyboard person.

6. I have pet chickens
My husband is a mad keen gardener and even though we only have a standard sized suburban house and land, we have a veggie patch, fruit trees and our very own little chickens. They are tiny, because we have smaller varieties. The Silkies are the kids’ favourites. They have such soft fluffy feathers and look like they have Mohawk hairstyles. We love them.

7. I don’t always read romance and chick lit
It’s true. I read all sorts of things and that might make me weird, but who cares? I tend to go on binges with certain authors or genres though. If you quiz me, I might not remember every book I’ve read even if I liked it. I have shelves full of hundreds of books and an e-reader full of titles I haven’t got to yet.

8. One day I’d like to try sailing
I haven’t done this yet but it’s on the bucket list. I met up with some old work mates recently and one of the women quit her job a few years ago to go sailing up the coast of Australia with her partner. This sounds amazing to me.

9. I studied Interior Design at university for 2 years
I’m pretty good at drawing and design and I got into a highly competitive Interior Design course straight out of high school. I liked parts of it, like learning about famous architects and designers, but the rest was a bit dull. There is only so much I want to know about structural concrete!

10. I’m going to write another full length book…I promise
I just have to write another novella or two first. I can’t help it I’m afraid. I get easily distracted by the shiny new ideas. But I do have two draft novels sitting there, waiting for me to get to them. Next year sounds good. Promise.

 A funny, romantic comedy Christmas novella, perfect for fans of Love Actually . . . from the award-winning author of Girl on a Plane.

Love is like a fine perfume. The top note draws you in, an instant attraction, but the Heart Note is the true essence. Like true love – a great perfume should be a woman’s perfect match.

At least, that’s what perfume counter manager, Lily Lucas, tells her customers in one of Australia’s largest department stores.

It’s almost Christmas, the store is bedecked with baubles and Lily has about eleventy billion gifts to wrap and sell. She and her team of spritzer chicks are glamorous, professional and hoping they don’t have to wear the hideous red onesies and reindeer antlers the store manager has in mind.

The high point of Lily’s work life is Christos Cyriakos, ex-cop, security guard, possible Greek god. He's a mystery box she’d love to unwrap. But can she trust him?

All Lily wants for Christmas is to kiss Christos (and more), catch a band of thieves running amok in the store, and live happily ever after. Is that too much to wish for?

Buy Heart Note here:  http://amzn.eu/fcd9IPq

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Tails of Friendship blog tour

Tails of Friendship blog tour by Sally Grace
25th November

A collection of beautiful black and white portraits illustrating the loving relationship between dogs and their owners. Each photograph is accompanied by a famous quote or by a quote from the dogs themselves.
Sally Grace is a professional photographer and specialises in working with children and dogs. Sally works from her photographic studio in Surrey.

My review

I loved this book. I love both dogs and photography and found it to be a perfect balance of the two. The beautiful images were both heartwarming and uplifting. Just delightful. I loved the quotes alongside the photos which gave extra depth to the photos. Beautiful black and white images, I only wished I too (with my collie) was in the book also! Stunning collection of photographs of the partnership with mans best friend. I was very lucky to receive a copy of this delightful book and can't wait to see more from this talented photographer.

Find out more about the author and Tails of Friendship

About the author: 

Sally Grace is a professional photographer of over twenty years specializing in portraits of children and pets and a mom to five children. She works out of her studio in Surrey. In her youth, she was a prolific tennis player, winning a number of tournaments as a junior player and competing for the national team of Great Britain. This is her first collection of photographs

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Charlie Poon's pomes - Blog tour

Charlie Poons Pomes
23rd November 2017

Unable to find good funny poems to read aloud to his grandchildren - other than the seventy year old A.A. Milne classics - British playwright Robin Hawdon sat down to write some himself. The result is this collection of thirty hilarious and touching poems, beautifully illustrated by Wendy Hoile, which recount the exploits of young Charley Poon - every parent’s nightmare - and his eccentric menagerie of nursery animals. The poems cover everything from youthful games and exploits, to the problems of growing up, to the ups and downs of school and family life, and the joys of country and seaside holidays. Parents and grandparents will be delighted to have something new and entertaining with which to occupy those tricky lights-out bedtime moments.

My review

What a delightful set of poems! I completely loved reading these and loved the cheerful illustrations. Charley Poon is definitely a character to be loved and you meet a whole host of animals along the way. My son really enjoyed hearing these poems and I'm sure would enjoy a paperback version when it's released as he found it a little trickier with the kindle as he's only two. There is plenty to see and talk about with the lovely pictures and gentle rhyming words. We particularly loved Charlie's song, and Sammy the snouse. Such great illustrations with the Donkey poem and the teachers poem really made me laugh. A great fun read with lots of potential uses in the classroom too for these lovely poems. Really enjoyable fun read, thank you.

About the author:
Dividing his time between Bath, Australia and the South of France, actor, playwright and grandfather Robin Hawdon has enjoyed a successful forty year career in the entertainment industry. During the early years he was a regular face on British TV — appearing in many series and co-starring with Michael Crawford in ITV’s 'Chalk and Cheese’ and starring in a number of films. He has trod the boards as Hamlet, Henry V and Henry Higgins in Pygmalion and in leading roles in London’s West End. Later his love of writing dominated his career and he is now recognised as one of the UK’s most prolific comedy playwrights —with productions including The Mating Game which has played in over thirty countries and Don’t Dress For Dinner which ran in the West End for six years before playing on Broadway and around the English speaking world. Many of his plays are published by Samuel French and Josef Weinberger. Robin has also directed a number of stage productions, and in the 1980’s founded the Bath Fringe festival, and subsequently became Director of the Theatre Royal Bath, England’s premier touring theatre. He has written several novels including A Rustle in the Grass, published by Hutchinsons in 1984 and republished recently by Thistle. A second novel, The Journey was published in 2002 by Hawthorns and a third, Survival of the Fittest, by SBPR in 2013. His first foray into children’s literature,

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Review of 'The Fragile Thread of Hope'

 Review of 'The Fragile Thread of Hope'

A gripping emotional inspirational fiction about love, loss, and finding hope in the darkest of times.

In the autumn of 2012, destiny wreaks havoc on two unsuspecting people—Soham and Fiona.
Although his devastating past involving his brother still haunted him, Soham had established a promising career for himself in Bangalore.
After a difficult childhood, Fiona's fortunes had finally taken a turn for the better. She had married her beloved, and her life was as perfect as she had ever imagined it to be.
But when tragedy strikes them yet again, their fundamentally fragile lives threaten to fall apart.
Can Fiona and Soham overcome their grief?
Will the overwhelming pain destroy their lives?
Seasoned with the flavours of exotic Nepalese traditions and set in the picturesque Indian hill station, Gangtok, The Fragile Thread of Hope explores the themes of spirituality, faith, alcoholism, love, and guilt while navigating the complex maze of family relationships.
Inspirational and heart-wrenchingly intimate, it urges you to wonder—does hope stand a chance in this travesty called life?

If you love contemporary literary fiction novels by Khaled Hosseini and Jhumpa Lahiri, contemporary christian fiction novels by Melissa Storm, and tragic romance novels by Jojo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks, then make time for Pankaj Giri’s new heartbreaking inspirational novel The Fragile Thread of Hope.

My review 

This is a beautiful and tender love story that really struck a chord with me. The different stories were woven together expertly to make a great overall read. It was both emotional and heart lifting. I enjoyed every minute of this fantastically written novel. I love contemporary fiction so this book was right up my street.

The writer was able to provoke such emotion from the descriptions and the tenderness of the characters. I loved the hopefulness of Fiona and how the story follows the two families from different times cleverly. A heart breaking read that will stick with you a long time after you have finished.
More about the author:

Pankaj Giri was born and brought up in Gangtok, Sikkim—a picturesque hill station in India. He began his writing career in 2015 by co-authoring a book—Friendship Love and Killer Escapades (FLAKE). Learning from experience and the constructive criticism that he got for his first book, he has now written a new novel—The Fragile Thread of Hope, a mainstream literary fiction dealing with love, loss, and family relationships. He is currently working in the government sector in Sikkim. He likes to kill time by listening to progressive metal music and watching cricket.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

The Creatures of Chichester - The one about the Golden Lake

Review of The Creatures of Chichester - The one about the Golden Lake
by Christopher Joyce

The New Year celebrations in Chichester are going with a bang, but the city is about to be hit by floods and a terrible storm that wipes out communication with the outside world.
Most of the creatures of Chichester are trapped indoors, but Doc and the other goldfish search the strange golden lake looking for answers.
Can they help Jacob and his friends banish the blizzard before it’s too late?

Buy the novel here:http://amzn.eu/4D4TGaL

My review

I enjoyed this children's book. The book tackles some deeper issues but in a light and enjoyable read. I liked Jacob and the relationship with his friends as they quest to banish the blizzard from the City. It was lovely to read a story that is based locally and would recommend to children in the local area, especially animal lovers. I love a good adventure and the threat of the blizzard and flood wiping out communication makes the novel a page-turner.

An enjoyable read with a deeper side. I loved that Jacob's problems become an advantage to him as he and his friends fight to banish the blizzard before it's too late. Great read.

More about the author:

Christopher Joyce, winner of the Cornish Writing Challenge 2017, is a Twoleg from Chichester in West Sussex, England.

He has been a teacher, marketing director, waiter; once made Venetian blinds, worked in a steel works and has run a garden design business.

He has written six books about The Creatures of Chichester. The latest book - the one about the golden lake is out now. For more information visit:
www.creaturesofchichester.com or keep up to date on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/creaturesofchichester/

Monday, 13 November 2017

Geronimo Stilton - Review

 Review of Fangs and Feasts in Transratania
I was delighted to receive a copy of this spooky book 'Fangs and Feasts in Transratania' and thoroughly enjoyed the book too. Apologises for the review being late and not in the 'spooky' halloween week I'd hoped to, due to computer glitches!

After a mysterious phone call from his cousin Trap, Geronimo sets off for Ratoff in spooky Transratania. The garlic-fuelled town holds many mysteries, not least the residents of Ratoff Castle. Maybe it's the way they sleep during the day, maybe it's the blood-red drink they have with every meal, but there's something not quite right about them ...Who are these mice? And will Geronimo manage to survive the night? For children aged 5-7 and also available as part of a 10 book box set.

My review
Delightfully fun read, this book was immensely enjoyed. A spooky story to be enjoyed at halloween and throughout the year. Geronimo is a likeable character and it made me want to read more books in the series. The book was fun and delightful to read. It flowed and the story had purpose. Perfect adventure series for the 5-7 age group. I would recommend to keep all children engaged and amused.

More about the author...

He's a mouse, what more can I say! There are many books in the series. He is a popular mouse for sure.

Born in New Mouse City, Mouse Island, GERONIMO STILTON is Rattus Emeritus of Mousomorphic Literature and of Neo-Ratonic Comparative Philosophy. For the past twenty years, he has been running The Rodent's Gazette, New Mouse City's most widely read daily newspaper. Stilton was awarded the Ratitzer Prize for his scoops on The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid and The Search for Sunken Treasure. He has also received the Andersen 2000 Prize for Personality of the Year. One of his bestsellers won the 2002 eBook Award for world's best ratlings' electronic book. His works have been published all over the globe. In his spare time, Mr. Stilton collects antique cheese rinds and plays golf. But what he most enjoys is telling stories to his nephew Benjamin.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Book review 'Wide Awake Asleep'

Review of 'Wide Awake Asleep' by Louise Wise
Blog tour - 13th November

I was delighted to review this novel by Louise Wise.

 Julie Compton’s life should have come to an end in the car crash but instead she woke, unharmed, back in 1972 and primed to relive her life all over again.

One problem. She’s in the body of a stranger.

Journey back to the 70s and 80s England where Julie’s forced to jump through the eras, occupying and controlling the bodies of people she knew as a child. She must work out which destiny path was the wrong one, wondering all the while if her body, back in 2016, was dying in her car.

With each momentous change, her memories transform and she realises she’s not only changing her future but the futures of those around her.

A paranormal, time-slip adventure set in the real town of Northampton in England.

My review

The time travel aspect to this book was immensely readable. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot of the story, definitely my kind of read! It had elements of romance along with sci-fi/time travel so would suit a range of readers.When Julie's life should be over after a car accident, she's transported back to 1972 in the body of a stranger. 

The book flits between past and present and I found this to be exciting and interesting and kept me on the edge of my seat. All the while she is in the bodies of others, she is wondering about her own body in the car accident. I found this to be a convincing and thought provoking time travel novel, with relatable characters and a tight plot. I couldn't fault it. Well done to Wise for writing such an excellent, engaging novel that I would recommend.

Buy the novel here:

More about the author:

Louise Wise is a British writer and has been weaving stories all her life—even before she could actually write! For many years, she was a 'closet writer', and has a cupboard is full of ageing manuscripts depicting fantastical romantic adventures.

Most of her books have an element of romance, but tend to cross over into other genres, giving them a unique edge.

Her debut novel is the best-selling sci-fi romance EDEN, which was followed by its sequel HUNTED in 2013.

A PROPER CHARLIE is a romantic comedy written purely for the chick lit market, but then she decided to unite her love of all things supernatural with romance and OH NO, I’VE FALLEN IN LOVE and WIDE AWAKE ASLEEP came along.

Her other works include SCRUFFY TRAINERS (a collection of short stories with a twist). She has written numerous short stories for women’s magazines including Women’s Own and Take a Break.

She loves hearing from her readers - the good, the bad and the ugly stuff they want to share!

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

A Pocketful of Crows - book review

A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne M. Harris - book review

Buy the book here: http://amzn.eu/iLoQFXO

My review

This book is stunning to look at. A rich textured black with a flying golden image of the crow. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but with this one, I certainly did and I wasn't disappointed. I didn't think the book would be in the genre I usually read, but the rich descriptions and vivid storytelling led me in instantly. I loved the teenage protagonist and really connected with her and the situation she found herself in. You really follow her every step of the way. This is a beautiful fantasy story with a unique creative side. I really enjoyed seeing the animals perspective through the girls eyes. A beautifully woven story that I would recommend and will look forward to novels by the author again.

More about the novel...

I am as brown as brown can be,
And my eyes as black as sloe;

I am as brisk as brisk can be,
And wild as forest doe.

So begins a beautiful tale of love, loss and revenge. Following the seasons, A Pocketful of Crows balances youth and age, wisdom and passion and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless wild girl.

Only love could draw her into the world of named, tamed things. And it seems only revenge will be powerful enough to let her escape.

Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.