Book Blog Tour – Book Review of “Evanthia’s Gift” Book 1 The Gift Saga by Effie Kammenou

I have been fortunate to be given a copy of this book by the author through Love Books Group in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga – Women’s fiction/ contemporary romance – Women’s fiction 2106 Reader’s Favorite Award finalist – Available in print, kindle and audible

Review

Anastacia Fotopoulos has moved to the USA after the horrors of the second world war in order to educate herself and so take a step closer to fulfilling her dreams.  She hadn’t anticipated falling in love and marrying the first handsome man to come her way, nor less to then be cruelly betrayed by those closest to her.  It is 1956 and she finds herself alone, pregnant and ashamed to return home to Greece.  She is fortunate in the support of her wonderful friends Stavros and Soula, also first generation Greek immigrants, and her Uncle who gives her employment to keep a roof over her and her new baby daughter’s heads.  The last thing that she expects is to attract the attentions of another young Greek man from her student days, and when her friends try to match make her with Alex she is determined to resist.  She will never put her future in the hands of a man again.

Ana has no idea that Alexandros Giannakos has loved her since he first knew her, and he wins her over with his perseverance and love for both her and daughter Sophia.  Their friends have had two children, Dean and Demi, and life for the close Greek American families is good.  But secrets have been kept, with the best of intentions by all involved, and these will affect life in the future.  The storyline skips forward to the teenage years of the children, and whilst the girls are closer than sisters, a deeper relationship develops between Dean and Sophia.  Their Greek heritage remains extremely important to the families, particularly the older generation, and teen Dean cannot bear to have his life mapped out by his parents – he wants to be an American boy who goes to college and finds his own way in the world.  As a result, he refuses to acknowledge his feelings openly for Sophia and as he pulls away from the family traditions, Sophia too has her young heart broken.

Life continues for the families.  Dean marries a college girl and goes to work for his father in law, Demi marries her secret childhood sweetheart and Sophia throws herself into her career as a dancer.  Along the way family secrets emerge that threaten to splinter relationships, and the rock the families to the core.

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Evanthia pin

If you enjoy family dramas that span generations, without sugar coating life, then you will love this novel.  The historical element of life in war torn Greece was fascinating, as was the story that was so common to many immigrant New York families be they Greek, Italian, Irish….the author is herself a second generation Greek American, and she appears to have exactly the right understanding between the need for embracing their heritage and culture for the older family members, to the desire to be American youngsters and growing up in America for the youngsters.  The friction was palpable in the writing.

The characters all grow and develop throughout the course of the novel as life throws both expected and unexpected joys and sorrows at them.  Ana remains at the core of the story, and I love the way in which both she and Soula are presented as the strong women keeping the wheels of their family life oiled and turning.  The secret to this is food!  I recognised in this book one of my own close friends, who moved to London from Athens in the 1980s, and is the most amazing homemaker and cook.  My kids love to go to her house and she feeds us all in a very similar way to Ana and Soula in the story.  The descriptions of the food are enough to make the reader’s mouth water, but then the author will offer up a wonderful gem every few chapters with a complete Greek recipe.  Imagine my delight when I also found that the author has a recipe website! I am so excited to try cooking some of these mouth-watering delicacies!

Evanthia’s Gift is a love story that covers generations, continents, different loves lost and found – but it is so much more than a love story, it is a story of human life and emotions over a fifty-year period.  I wanted to shout at the characters when the miscommunication caused problems and altered the course of lives and changed choices made.  I cheered when decisions ended well, and I shouted and cried at the bad decisions and the sorrows that life dishes up.  This book depicts real life – not everything can be planned, not everything is sugar coated and joy is tempered with sadness.  If you haven’t guessed I loved this book and am really looking forward to the next one in the series….and yes, you will find out who Evanthia is and just what her gift is.

Five Stars from me!

Karithopita
Karithopita – An Easy to Make Greek Walnut Cake from Cheffie’s Kitchen

About the Author (from Goodreads)

Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart or change your career. She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she’d thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women. cover photo 2.jpg

Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category. Waiting for Aegina: Book Two in The Gift Saga is Kammenou’s latest release.

Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her cooking for her family and friends.

As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.

Member of Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association & Romance Writers of America

Available from Amazon :

 

Amazon author page

https://www.amazon.com/Effie-Kammenou/e/B013NZRWLI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1488327067&sr=8-1

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/EffieKammenou/

 Twitter

https://twitter.com/EffieKammenou

Goodreads page

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14204724.Effie_Kammenou

 Food blog

https://cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com

 instagram

https://www.instagram.com/author_effie_cheffieskitchen/

Newsletter signup page

 http://eepurl.com/bIoJl1

evanthiasgift

Book Review : Mortiswood Evil Rising by Gina Dickerson

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I was fortunate to be given an ARC of this book by the author & publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.

 

This is the third book in the Mortiswood series, the young adult fantasy fiction following the story of Kaelia and in this case I would recommend that the other two books are read first: Mortiswood Kaelia Arising and Mortiswood Kaelia Falling. (Book Review “Mortiswood: Kaelia Awakening” – a little magic in the ordinary)

Kaelia

 

The story continues with Kaelia having been reunited with her mother and father, but also discovering that her mother is the goddess Vanadis who guided her early on in the tale.  After a short time with her family, Kaelia and Bay (her Vallesm boyfriend) must return to their own world to battle with the Salloki and their evil leader Thom, who plan to take over the human Earth.  They find that Thom and his new wife Cadence, previously human but now a Draugr, have wreaked havoc in Margate and killed many humans – and these bodies are now inhabited by Salloki souls preparing for battle.  Are you keeping up?

 

Bay is outraged to find that his father, head of the Vallesm (human/wolf), does not believe that his relationship with Kaelia can survive and instructs him to pair with a Vallesm girl.  This view point seems to be borne out when Kaelia disappears for weeks with Bran.  Do you remember him?  Bran and Kaelia are described as the opposite sides to a coin, he the darkness to her light and they draw on the other’s strengths enhancing their own powers.  There is an attraction between them that neither can shake off, even if Kaelia desperately wants to for Bay’s sake, and Bran has ulterior motives for winning Kaelia’s trust.  Kaelia is experiencing a darker side to her magic now as the darkness seems to speak to her more and more.

Determined not to let whatever magic was deceiving her, win, Kaelia charged
back out into the corridor and, using her magical speed, flew through corridor
after corridor, up and down staircase after staircase until the light outside had
slipped into darkness.

‘Why won’t you let me go?’ Kaelia pulled at her hair and collapsed in a heap
outside the room with the bed.
‘You don’t want to leave,’ Bran said, startling Kaelia. He held a crystal
candelabra in one hand, wax dripping from the burning tips of the three gold
candlesticks and running over the crystal.
‘Of course I do. Stop playing tricks on me. This is your doing. I don’t know what
you’re playing at and I don’t care, just stop whatever it is and let me out.’ She
jumped up and glared at Bran. ‘I’ll fight you if I have to.’
‘There’s no need to be stroppy with me, I’m not doing anything.’ Bran set the
candelabra on the small stand beside the chair outside of the bedroom and folded
his arms over his slender chest. ‘It’s all part of the tower’s protection. You can
leave if you want to but if you don’t want to, you can’t. It’ll keep you here until
you really want to leave. It’s the tower’s way of keeping you safe.’
‘I don’t want your stupid tower to keep me safe. I’m quite capable of looking
after myself.’
Bran reached her in two easy strides. Sparks of cool purple light crackled from
them both as he pressed close against Kaelia, trapping her between him and the
wall. ‘The tower knows the secrets you can’t speak, those you can’t admit even to
yourself.’
‘Rubbish!’ Kaelia shivered from the transference of power.
Such a feeling, a powerful, intoxicating feeling.
Only achievable with Bran.
No-one else.
No-one else could make her feel like this.
They were two sides of a coin.
Night and day.
Dark and light.
Kaelia shook her head. No, it was the power surge talking, not her, she was
nothing like him and needed nothing from him!
Yet part of her yearned for it, the power they shared whenever they touched.
Right then and there it was as if she needed it so much she couldn’t live without
it.

 

Meanwhile Calix, another human friend, has been taken by Thom to be turned into a Draugr – will Kaelia be able to reach him in time?  The battles and deceptions rage throughout the tale, until Kaelia is left at the end in no doubt as to what her destiny really means.

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Book review Mortiswood 3

 

It is very difficult to give a succinct outline of the story and give no spoilers…in fact there is so much action in this chapter of the Mortiswood tales that it impossible to make it succinct.  It feels like being on a rollercoaster ride as the tale lurches from one action packed event to another with such high energy and speed.  I love the way that the realms of the fantasy world are woven into our mundane world, with crucial battle scenes happening at the seafront at Margate!  The writing is colourful and bright, painting a great image of the characters and the action – the descriptions of the bone furniture in the Salloki fortress are particularly gruesome!  The characters all go from strength to strength – goodies & baddies! – developing their good or evil sides, their mystical powers and using their humanity.  The relationships between the characters continue to weave in and out of love, deception, alliances and sworn enemies.  This is not the final instalment of the Mortiswood story and Ms Dickerson leaves us on the edge of our seats with a cliff-hanger…..

Another thoroughly enjoyable, easy to read tale – Mortiswood remains a guilty pleasure for this middle-aged mum!! 4 stars.

Links:

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Amazon US

 

About the author:

Gina Dickerson Profile pic
Gina Dickerson lives by the Thanet coast on the north-eastern tip of
Kent within the UK, with her family and bouncy Siberian husky.
Having previously worked for a Local Authority, and been a Systems
Supervisor for the departmental database, Gina is now a full-time
author and designer. Her books include the dark urban fantasy
Mortiswood Tales series, Lies Love Tells – part of the thrilling romantic
suspense Eastcove Lies series, dark fairy tales The Pennington
Christmas Curse and Always Golden, as well as a collection of her dark
short stories, Underleaf.
Gina has also written newspaper articles, and was a fashion and
shopping columnist for her local newspaper, as well as having had short
stories and poetry published in anthologies. She designs book covers
and other promotional material under the name RoseWolf Design, and
belongs to the author co-operative Authors Reach.

Links
https://www.ginadickersonwriter.co.uk/
https://www.authorsreach.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/GinaDWriter

https://www.facebook.com/ginadickersonwriter

Review of “We All Send Cards” website by Mum’s The Boss – and using my girl’s art for Zebra Girl Cards #EhlersDanlosSyndrome

Zebra Girl fb cover

I have written before in my best proud mum style about the beautiful girl’s art, and not so long ago a friend suggested that we look at getting her work some exposure.  This new website was suggested, where we could show her drawings and paintings, but also create some lovely unique greetings cards for the public to purchase.

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Cards by Zebra Girl (2)

 

Hubby and I talked about Unique Selling Points, the lovely girl just felt embarrassed and didn’t want her name on anything, so using the emblem for our genetic condition, Zebra Girl was born.  We are really hoping that alongside creating art, we might be able to fundraise for The Ehlers Danlos Support UK through selling some greetings cards.  I have just created a facebook page and would appreciate some likes and shares to get the word out there! Art by Zebra Girl facebook page

I know I am a hopeless salesperson and even worse at marketing, so that is why I am sharing a review from Debbie of Mum’s The Boss Blog.  She reviewed the We All Send Cards site, looking at it from an artist’s, business builder and customer perspective.  I hope you enjoy the review and take a look at the site by going direct to Zebra Girl or to the WASC site, – both links will help fundraise for EDSUK.

 

 

“Today I’m taking a look at WeAllSendCards  a new UK website for sending personalised printed cards, which also offers a fantastic business opportunity. There is also a giveaway at the end of the page so please read on…

How many cards do you send in a year? Even excluding the Christmas card marathon, how many do you send?

If you are anything like me, you probably don’t send as many as you would like to.  I’d love to send more birthday cards, thank you cards, and cards to celebrate all kinds of things. I love receiving cards and I think it is lovely to send them too. But the occasions creep up on me and I find I don’t have the right card at the right time and I can’t be bothered to go out and buy a stamp and post them…..does this sound familiar?

I sent myself a Thank you card  just to test out the concept – it was lovely to receive.  This would be great if you were in business – you could put company relevant images inside the card and thank your customers and suppliers. you could also put a coupon or QR code in there if you wanted to. But it’s also nice for your personal occasions.

You have two options for delivery with these cards.  Firstly you can have them totally printed and just send them directly to your recipient. Alternatively (and this is great), you can part-personalise them and then have them sent to you in cellophane – you can then hand write a bit on the card and send them on.  They tend to arrive at the first destination about 4-6 business days after you order them (more if you are posting abroad) but as long as you leave yourself a week or more of notice then this is a great service…….continued”

 

 

Debbie goes on to explain that as an artist or designer there are both business and creator opportunities at We All Send Cards.  For Debbie’s complete article please visit  Mum’s The Boss.

 

 

 

 

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Just Out: The Year that Changed Everything” by Cathy Kelly – Book Review #SundayBlogShare

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Publication Day!

The Year That Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly

Disclaimer: Thanks to The Book Club on Facebook, I was fortunate to be given an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All views are my own.

When I was told I had been chosen to receive this book I was absolutely delighted – I am a huge Cathy Kelly fan and have always loved her brand of contemporary Irish female fiction.  But this also comes with the possibility of being disappointed by one of my favourite authors and having to write a review!

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Cathy Kelly

Ginger, Sam and Callie are three Irish women all about to reach a milestone birthday.  They have never met, lead completely different lives but share the same birthday – a day on which they will turn 30, 40 and 50.  Ginger is not celebrating her 30th how she had pictured it, in fact her personal life is far from anything she had dreamed of and she is now bridesmaid at her best friend’s wedding on her own birthday. Overweight, overlooked, overdressed in a hideous bridesmaid dress and single.  Meanwhile Sam is planning a quiet day for her 40th birthday as she prepares for the imminent arrival of a much-wanted baby.  After years of failing to conceive she is finally pregnant and feeling excited, yet terrified in equal measure when her waters break. Happy birthday, Sam!  Callie is the woman with everything.  She was a model in her youth and is still has beauty and poise, has a handsome, successful husband, a beautiful home and her greatest pride, her teenage daughter.  To the guests attending her lavish 50th birthday party she appears to live a charmed life.

The stories of these women are written in separate chapters, each chapter titled with one of their names. So, whilst the stories are completely separate, they weave around each other as the chapters progress over the following year of the title.  I enjoyed the way that the author wrote this, although I think I would have preferred reading it from a book rather than on the Kindle – just my preference as I tend to flip back in this style of writing.  Their birthdays all mark a huge change in circumstance for each of them with Ginger overhearing a damning conversation about herself, Sam giving birth to a beautiful daughter and the police breaking up the perfect party at Callie’s.  I am trying very hard here not to write any spoilers!

I have always the loved the passion that Cathy Kelly puts into her writing, and this book is no exception.  These women become real as their stories emerge from the page and their characters grow.  I don’t think that there will be a mother out there who can’t identify with Sam’s feelings of absolute fear as she takes her new born home – “how do I do this? How can I keep her safe? What if I can’t do this? What if I don’t bond? I don’t know what to do and I’m terrified of failing”.  Sam has another reason that is driving her fear and this is deeply connected with her family.  She has been a career woman, but not by choice, whilst her sister has a young family and seems to be the perfect mummy – their own mother is not the role model either of them would ask for, making for difficult relationships.  Ginger flourishes in front of our eyes as she throws herself, quite literally, into her work as a journalist (remember no spoilers) whilst grieving friendships and the lack of a man in her life, but that is not to say it is without some tremendous lows and heartbreak.  For Callie’s tale, all that I will say is that I grew to feel a huge respect for this woman as her world is literally pulled from beneath her feet, leaving her fighting for herself, her daughter and her self respect.

The chapters of the stories wind around each other like twines of ivy until there is one strengthened plant growing…a year on and an epilogue brings them to common ground.  Cathy Kelly has surpassed herself in the realms of female fiction here with warmth, wisdom, tears and laughter….I needn’t have worried as it completely lived up to my expectations. 5 stars

Publisher: Orion 22nd Feb 2018

Goodreads

Available from Amazon:

 

About the Author:

Cathy Kelly is published around the world, with millions of books in print. Cathy is the bestselling author of The Honey Queen, Once in a Lifetime and Between Sisters, and is a No.1 bestseller in the UK, Ireland and Australia. Her trademark is warm and witty Irish storytelling about modern life, always with an uplifting message, a sense of community and strong female characters at the heart.
She lives with her family and their three dogs in County Wicklow, Ireland. She is also an Ambassador for UNICEF Ireland, raising funds and awareness for children orphaned by or living with HIV/AIDS.
Find out more at www.cathykelly.com or follow her on Twitter @cathykellybooks

5 Star Book Review: Oracle’s Hunt by A. Claire Everward #SundayBlogShare @ClaireEverward

 #SundayBlogShare #SocialSaturday

I was given an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review – thanks to The Book Club on Facebook. All opinions are my own. Post contains affiliate links.

This is the first book in the Oracle Series.

Donovan Pierce is a United States Federal Investigative Division Agent and he has been called to a new case – the destruction of the data storage facility for the worldwide defense and security services. This will not be a mission to be taken lightly. Ever since a group of forward thinking citizens of the world had formed a peaceful alliance calling themselves the Internationals and had grown in numbers, strength and support from major powers, there were factions desperate to topple the peace and take power for themselves. This latest act of sabotage shows all the signs that it has been carefully orchestrated by one such group, as the level of professionalism has ensured that there are no traces of evidence left behind. Except one.

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Oracles Hunt

The terrorists couldn’t have known that the old security cameras for the facility were still operating, and that Donovan’s IT team have picked up one very important word: Oracle. But as the investigation commences, it is starting to feel to Donovan that someone is blocking his access to the information that he requires – someone with the highest level of security clearance. Then imagine his surprise the following morning when his new neighbour is sitting sipping coffee in the garden and she is none other than the elusive female who was part of a video call shutting down the investigation into this word the previous day! This is Lara Holsworth.

I really enjoyed the concept behind this book, particularly with current world politics as they are, and I immediately felt sympathetic to Donovan and also felt his frustration. He becomes more convinced that Lara is central to Oracle…..but just what is it and has the impossible been achieved with a functioning human/Artificial Intelligence interface? I must admit that I had to quiz my electronic/computer science engineer son about this – and was still none the wiser by his explanation! The relationship that unfolds between the two main characters is as interesting as the investigation, but I am not going to give away any spoilers! Lara is enigmatic, intriguing and attractive to both Donovan and the reader, and of course Donovan is described as a very fine specimen as well as being a fantastic investigator.

It was only one word, always the same word that lit up whenever it appeared, one word that was the target of those who had made such an effort to procure this information, destroying everything on the way. Just one word. Oracle.

The plot is intricate (I had to keep reminding myself of the different abbreviations for the various agencies – not so easy to flick back and forth on a Kindle)), fast paced and rang alarm bells for me as the reader for just how much fact there could be in this. With the increasing number of terrorist attacks that we see in the real world, it is hard to dismiss the criminal elements as merely fiction. But it kept me on the edge of my seat and I found it very difficult to put the book down, devouring it in a couple of days. I was delighted to see the opening for next in the series pop up on my Kindle and it is on my Christmas list.

If you love contemporary, investigative plots with great three-dimensional characters, you will enjoy this. Five stars from me!

Publisher: Author & Sister (2017)

Available from Amazon here:

Author Biography:

Anna Claire Everward

A. Claire Everward is a suspense author with a love of knowledge and a lively imagination that made writing the natural thing for her to do. Claire is also the author of The First, and is currently working on her next book in the Oracle series with the help of her two hyperactive cats and a laptop named Stanley.A1FEpiy0jnL._SY200_

Claire spent years away from home getting a master’s degree in aerospace engineering, with a risk management specialty. During that time, she lived in the university, surrounded by forested hills and too much silence, so to keep away the boredom she also took on an MBA, and now she feels ridiculously over-educated.

She tried to work in her field, she really did, and even put her education to good use in the finance field. But eventually her love for writing took over, and she decided to leave it all and move to the world of her imagination. Her characters had a lot to do with that—they had lived in her mind, waiting patiently for her to be ready, for too long, they felt, and so they finally decided enough is enough and took over. And Claire didn’t put up that much of a resistance. She has always loved to read, but writing, that’s a whole new world she soon knew she could never give up.

Link with Claire on social media:

Amazon author: www.amazon.com/author/a.claire.everward

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/AClaire_Everward

Facebook: www.facebook.com/annaclaire.everward

Twitter: https://twitter.com/claireeverward

https://twitter.com/authorandsister

Instagram: https://instagram.com/authorandsister

Website: http://www.authorandsister.net

Email: kate.a@authorandsister.net

 

 

 

 

Review of CBD Medipen – for chronic illness, pain, anxiety and well being

I came upon this review from Zec at Sat on My Butt blog and just knew that I had to share it with you – particularly those in the UK chronic illness community.  You might remember that I reviewed a CBD oil last year and I have been interested in trying something but was unsure what might be comparable (the oil that I reviewed was sent from the States)….this could be it!  Unfortunately we are currently funding our old dog’s drug habit  pain medication, and of course the family will vote that he comes before mum!! But this has been added to my list for Santa!

For the past three weeks I have been using the Medipen.

Medipen

Medipen aren’t allowed to make any medical claims about their product, but fortunately. nothing stops me from doing that!

So what is a Medipen?

A Medipen is a Cannabinoid delivery device that vaporises the Cannabinoids that are in coconut oil, I am and have always been a non smoker and I have no problem using the Medipen.

The vapour is very smooth and doesn’t make you cough and splutter.

The cartridges contain 1ml of Cannabinoids suspended in a pharmaceutical grade Coconut oil.

What are Cannabinoids?

The Cannabis plant is made up from 114 different compounds, the THC is the compound that gives the psychoactive or high sensation people get when smoking cannabis.

The Medipen cartridges contain CBD, CBDV & CBG which do not give those sensations but they have been proven to help people with a wide ranges of health conditions.

Inside our bodies we have cannabinoid receptors, they are part of the endocannabinoid system.

It is now believed that originally humans would have gathered wild growing cannabis to use as food and our bodies use it to help combat many ills and conditions.

Cannabis has now been bred to contain more and more THC to give people a high and that has led to Cannabis getting a bad reputation and becoming illegal.

Medipen starter kit

I received the Medipen starter kit that comes in a tin and contains The base of the pen that contains the battery and the brains and also a rubber tip on the end that works with touch screen devices.

It also contains a USB charger and a Medipen cartridge containing the Cannabinoids.

It really is foolproof, you screw on the cartridge, place the tip in your mouth and suck and that’s it,no on or off button or settings, it is ready to go at any time.

 

To read Zec’s verdict on the Medipen for his anxiety and chronic pain read the full post here: http://www.satonmybutt.co.uk/review-medipen/

Review of a great contemporary novel! “All We Have Lost” by Aimee Alexander

Fab stocking filler

 

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this contemporary novel by The Book Club on Facebook & the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All views are my own. This review contains an affiliate link.

I am a huge fan of classic novels, particularly those with strong female leads, but I also have an enormous soft spot for contemporary fiction.  “All We Have Lost” features business woman, wife and mother Kim who really does seem to have it all.  She runs a successful PR agency, is married to the good looking Ian – the love of her life, has two lovely young children, a great nanny to care for them and supportive family and friends.  Kim knows her own mind, has life mapped out and is certain where she is headed.  Or is she?

For one day Kim wakes up and realises that this isn’t the road she wants to be on at all.  She rarely sees her children, her home is virtually run by another woman and her husband sees more of the children than he does her.  Add to this her parents’ “perfect marriage” that Kim has placed on a pedestal since her father’s death, and suddenly Kim feels like she is in fact failing.  She decides to wind the business down, let the nanny go and be an author who happens to be a stay at home mum.  Her husband is on trial for a new job, she has always aspired to writing like her best friend Sarah and she is certain that she can work this around the needs of 2 preschool children.  How hard could it be?

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All We Have Lost

I think that any parent – particularly the mums out there – will be able to relate to this, working or stay at home!  Of course Kim has no idea just how demanding caring for young children can be.  A 2 year old just will not stick to your carefully constructed time table allowing mum time to write her novel whilst the tot naps.  Add in cooking, housework and a bit of writer’s block into the mix and suddenly the grass isn’t greener on the other side.  I really enjoyed the way that Aimee Alexander showed Kim’s gradual decline from a business woman in control, to a woman who was “letting herself go” and suddenly felt powerless to take back that control.  How many of us can empathise with the gradual weight gain (gym, who has time to visit the gym with young children?), the lack of regular personal grooming time (feel grateful if your hair sees the backside of a brush daily, let alone regular visits for a blow dry at the salon) and the overwhelming tiredness that strikes before hubby even gets home (from his fourth late night of the week).  But it should be ok if only Kim can start writing – and yet even this is not the easy task that she has imagined.

The author shows just how quickly and easily relationships can change – in Kim’s situation it is not just her marital relationship, but also that with her mother and her friends too.  Failure to communicate leads to misunderstandings, jumping to the wrong conclusions, reading signals incorrectly and great hurt.  At times I found myself becoming so frustrated with Kim and Ian, wanting to shout at them to stand still, take a breath and look what is happening.  Kim seems to become completely hung up on her world at home, forgetting that the very things that she complains about in Ian in his new job were her not so long ago.  Ian is so intent on making up for the fact that he is suddenly the main breadwinner and also feels he has to prove himself in his new job, that he becomes unable to communicate his concerns to a wife who no longer seems to have time for him. Aghhhh – I can see your relationship falling apart and yet neither of you can.  It is a testament to Ms Alexander’s writing that I could also feel Kim’s envy for her friend Sarah’s life as an author, yet also hear the alarm bells ringing loudly to warn Kim that her decisions were having awful consequences and yet she didn’t seem to see it.  Misunderstandings and knee jerk reactions have such devastating effects for all the people that Kim holds dear – including the children.

There are no schmaltzy happy endings for every character here.  This is real life and certain actions cannot be undone or forgiven.  I admire the additional change in the relationship between Kim and her mother – how a mother’s desire to protect her children can have devastating consequences if lies are uncovered, even years later.  I laughed and I cried with the characters in this book and I found them to be believable.  The visit to a single friend’s modern flat with 2 young children for a long weekend did make me smile – you will understand when you read it! The author even examines that age old chestnut – can a man and a woman ever be just good friends?

In my opinion an enjoyable contemporary novel about real life relationships that gets 4 stars!

 

About the Author:

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Aimee Alexander is the pen name of best selling author Denise Deegan who writes contemporary family dramas about ordinary people who become extraordinary in crisis. Her novels have been published by Penguin, Random House and Hachette.

Aimee lives in Dublin with her family where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking and her novels being made into movies. She has a Masters in Public Relations and has been a college lecturer, nurse, china restorer, pharmaceutical sales rep, public relations executive and entrepreneur. (taken from Author’s Amazon page)

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (20 Dec. 2015)

Buy the novel on Amazon by clicking here:

Book Review Eva Jordan’s new novel “All the Colours in Between”

I was fortunate to be given an ARC via The Book Club on Facebook in return for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

 Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

I must be honest with you.  When I asked to review this book by author Eva Jordan I had not read the first book in the series, “183 Times A Year”, so my first stop was to do just that.  I read the books back to back so it is possible I may muddle some events, BUT the first thing that I would recommend is that you do read the first novel before embarking on “All the Colours In Between” for both maximum background and enjoyment.  I will try my best not to give any spoilers for the second book!

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The modern blended, extended family.  Marriage, divorce, teenagers, love, deceit, 3 generations, ex partners, friends, illness, flying the nest – this list is the tip of the iceberg of the life topics to be found in “All the Colours In Between”.  Lizzie is the mum, step mum, lover, daughter, ex-wife, friend and mentor driving the story of her family and the individual members life journeys.  She lives with her daughter, step daughter and son – all young adults by this book – and her partner Simon.  Her parents play a huge role in the family, along with her brother and his family and not forgetting the rollercoaster that is best friend Ruby.  The relationship with her ex, the father of Cassie and Connor, is strained at best.  But at this point Lizzie has become an author against all the odds – selling real books and featuring in the best sellers list – whilst in the first book she dreamed of this whilst working with books as a librarian.images (2)

In this book Lizzie’s daughters Cassie and Maisie have grown up, ditched their teen disguises, spread their wings and left home. Her son Connor has evolved from a lovely pre-teen into a grunting, hoody wearing, sullen sixteen year old.  I normally write a bit more about the plot in my reviews, but I really don’t want to give too much away.  Reading both of Eva Jordan’s novels gave me the same feeling that I had when I first saw the BBC comedy Outnumbered.  I was certain that someone had planted cameras in my household!  Of course as mum I identify with Lizzie – so much.  When she describes her conversations with her children and her own parents, I was shouting “Yes!”  The feelings of exasperation trying to get through to a teenage boy who looks like a man, is the size of a man, sounds like a man, and thinks he is a man yet is really a man boy – these could have been penned by yours truly!  The descriptions of her forays onto Social Media mirrored my own – my young adult kids shake their heads and ask themselves why they introduced me to it!

But Ms Jordan shakes up the commentary by writing different chapters with the voices of different family members.  In the first book she writes as Lizzie and Cassie for the majority of the time, and in this book Connor features to a greater extent too.  The Cassie of “All the Colours In Between” is older, slightly wiser, but still hilarious in her ability to use completely the wrong phrase or to misunderstand a saying.  Whilst her story is extremely dark in places, her love for her family shines through from start to finish.  Her description of a particularly stressful car journey with Maisy toward the end of the book is just hilarious – no spoilers, so no more!  Connor is that teen who feels misunderstood by all adults, is just experiencing sexual attractions, the pull of alcohol, spliffs and parties, yet is still damaged from the rejection by his father as a young child.  Maisy has moved across the world as true love struck, but when life took an unexpected turn (including a meeting with biological mum) it is her family who she returns to.Book Review - All the Colours In Between

I really could write an essay about this book, but needless to say I LOVED IT!  There is no sugar coating life here – relationships fail, family life is hard work to maintain, good things happen and shit happens.  Eva Jordan gives us it all in a way that had me laughing out loud one minute – particularly with Salocin, the grandfather – and then crying the next.  But no matter what life throws at them, this family will continue to grow and love each other….with some hiccoughs along the way. I cannot wait for the next instalment…..please, Eva Jordan!

Five golden stars from me.

 

Blog Tour & Review for “Need You Now” -first in the series of Cloud Bay novels by Emma Douglas

I was fortunate to be given an ARC copy of this book by the author and her publishers, in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Imagine that you are the daughter of a legendary rock star, the lead singer of one of the biggest rock bands to come out of the USA. The same legendary rock star who gave you half siblings by different mothers, a dysfunctional yet privileged upbringing and his own brand of love.  An upbringing on an island that, since your father’s untimely death and the subsequent breakup of the band, has become the place of pilgrimage for fans wanting to visit a pivotal place in the band’s history – an island that is your home.

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Imagine that you are a tennis player, at the top of your game with sponsors and adoring fans following your every tournament.  But following shoulder surgery, it is becoming harder and harder to remain in those top rankings and you have announced your unexpected retirement during a press conference.  Now said press, management and fans are desperate to change your mind and you need somewhere to just be incognito and happy in your decision.

Faith Harper is the daughter of Blacklight frontman Grey Harper, and she continues to be the face of the Harper clan in Cloud Bay on Lansing Island as she is the organiser of one of the country’s most popular music festivals, CloudFest. Caleb White has gone to ground since announcing his departure from the tennis circuit until his friend Liam invites him to a music festival, CloudFest, with exclusive use of the home of a Blacklight bandmember.  Neither is looking for a relationship, much less love…..

This is an easy to read, romantic fiction novel that doesn’t always follow the path that the reader expects.  There is a rapport between Faith and Caleb from the moment that they first lay eyes on each other, but they each come with huge amounts of baggage and Ms Douglas does not give us a story where the course of true love runs simply!  Throw in a complicated family that encompasses blood relatives and band members, the attention of the world’s paparazzi and a festival full of music lovers, bands, not to mention surprise acts that fail to show,  what could possibly go wrong?!

The characters are easy to warm to and I felt that they developed into three dimensional people over the course of the story.  It is light – so not for those of you looking for deep literature – but not written in a saccharine or overly sentimental way. Great for a weekend away on a sun lounger or curled up at home for an autumn evening or two. I enjoyed Need You Now and I think that if you are a fan of romantic, contemporary fiction you will too.  This gets 4 stars from me and I’m looking forward to more in the series.

Available from Amazon  Need You Now (Cloud Bay), a Cloud Bay Novel by Emma Douglas – in paperback and Kindle, and other stockists.

Published by St Martin’s Press, 29 August 2017. Macmillan

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To conclude her Book Blog Tour – Q&A with author Laura Trentham

Earlier this week I posted my review for new novel Leave the Night On and now to celebrate and conclude her blog tour, here is a fantastic Q&A with author Laura Trentham.

 

  1. What inspired the novel plot?

Plots are strange things for me…I can rarely pinpoint anything in particular that triggers an idea. They usually pop into my head when I doing something else entirely like making dinner of driving the kids around.

  1. What’s your favorite scene? Why?

I love the scene where Sutton gets drunk and finally propositions Wyatt for real. I hope it’s funny and sexy and the reader can feel her mortification when she thinks he turns her down.

  1. Who’s your favorite character? Why?

Wyatt. He’s sexy and tough, but also incredibly sweet. He loves his family and would do anything for them. My heroes are complex and most definitely not a-holes.

  1. Any other books in the pipeline?

Two more Cottonbloom books! WHEN THE STARS COME OUT (1/30/2018) features Wyatt’s twin brother Jackson. SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE (8/2018) is Mack Abbott’s book. Also, sometime in the fall of 2018, I’ll have a military themed romance/women’s fiction book releasing! I’m super excited about it too.

  1. What led you to write in this genre over others?

Actually, my first books were historical romances, and I’ll be re-releasing two and adding a new book in my historical Spies and Lovers series this fall (Sept/Nov 2017). But, while the historical books were on submission with publishers, my agent suggested I try a contemporary. It sold to St. Martin’s Press only a couple of months after my historicals sold. I’ve set all my contemporaries in the American south because that’s where I was born and have lived most of my life. I understand the way southerners talk and think.

  1. Do you have a favorite book and author?

I’m going to have to throw it back to Mary Stewart as my favorite author. I quite often reread her books. But as far as which book I’ve reread the most, it would have to be Julie Garwood’s The Bride.

  1. Why and how did you decide you wanted to write for a living?

I’ve always been an avid reader, but I didn’t even consider writing until five years ago. My daughter started preschool, and going back to work doing what I went to school for (chemical engineering) wasn’t feasible. I sat down one morning and started writing. At first, I didn’t even tell my husband what I was doing. I won’t lie, it took a lot of work and rewrites to get those first manuscripts good enough. But, eventually, I signed with an agent and sold them both.

  1. What’s your favorite way to relax?

Reading! (I know that’s a shocker:) I also enjoy the mindlessness of games on my phone.

  1. What’s your favorite food?

Fried rice! I just learned to make it at home. My rice cooker is my second favorite appliance (behind my coffee maker!)

  1. Sounds like Sutton’s fiancé’s a cheating…um…cheats.  Why did you decide to use that as an aspect of your story?

Andrew is a secondary character in the first Cottonbloom trilogy about the Fournette siblings. He’s kind of a slime ball in those books too.

  1. Tell us something about Wyatt that we don’t learn from the book.

He likes to wear women’s underwear. Just kidding!! Actually, I’m drawing a blank, he’s an open, honest kind of man.

  1. This book is set in Mississippi.  Does this location contribute to the story in some way?

It’s actually set half in Mississippi and half in Louisiana. I wanted a southern location. But, I also envisioned a twist on the wrong side of the tracks story. In Cottonbloom, the more affluent live on the Mississippi side and the blue-collar working class live on the Louisiana side. I wanted that push-pull and rivalry between the two. It informs the relationships between my couples.

Thanks Laura for a great new read!  I will be looking out for some of the other Cottonbloom books….quite fancy finding out what happens to those other Abbott boys!

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