Blog Tour and Book Review – “Arcam” Debut Novel from Jason Minick #LoveBooksGroupTour

So the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that my book review earlier today should have been on the blog tour yesterday – so sorry Effie Kammenou!

But I am also delighted to be on the Blog Tour for Debut Thriller ARCAM by Jason Minick – thanks to Kelly at Love Books Group for the opportunity.

Arcam

The Book Blurb

A FAST-PACED CRIME/CONSPIRACY THRILLER THAT IS FULL OF SUSPENSE:

DCI Jack Robson believes he is hunting a kidnapper…

Away from his posting in London, Robson is asked to lead an investigation in the south west of England. But what begins as a baffling local kidnapping mystery, quickly escalates into something far more sinister.

In pursuit of the perpetrators, DCI Robson joins forces with Inspector Emma Wilson and the rest of the regional CID team. Together, they attempt to make sense of the lack of evidence or motive, eventually getting drawn to the tiny island of Steep
Holm, in the Bristol Channel.

As the investigation progresses, Robson, Wilson and their colleagues find themselves facing something far beyond normal detective work. Unthinkable connections lead them to a conspiracy, so great it could change the course of humanity. The question is, can they intervene before it’s too late to prevent the appalling future that potentially lies ahead …

Arcam pin

What a read!  Initially the book appears to be a fast detective thriller following the spate of kidnappings, but quickly there are darker undercurrents emerging.  I like the fact that Robson is a fully rounded character from the off as a background story about his family is quickly shared with the reader.  This history shapes him and his decisions within his detective work, but also his emotional decisions and his working relationships.

This is explored throughout the book as the relationship and bond between Robson and his Inspector Emma Wilson develops.  The happenings that they stumble upon and situations that they find themselves in require honesty and trust – although Wilson at times does struggle with some of Robson’s decisions that aren’t quite by the books.  I admire both characters – they are strong, determined, bloody minded and physically capable even if they do encounter several visits to the hospital!!

The descriptions of the region are picturesque with landscapes that include the coastline, a nature reserve and the sea.  But the real adrenaline rush comes from the suspense and the sudden realisation of what is going on – the use of suspense and critical language is superb.  I applaud Mr Minick for such a fantastic quality of writing and catching such a successful feel of anticipation, fear, excitement and dread in his debut novel.  I believe that the relationship between the two detectives has a long, long way to run yet – I can’t wait for the next in the series!

I love it! 5 Stars

Available from:

Amazon

About the Author

Jason Minick is an engineer living in the south-west of England. He has a passion for the written word and reading.JM photo.jpg
Jason is a fan of many genres. His debut novel, Arcam, is a crime/conspiracy thriller set in his favourite part of the UK.
He lives with his wife, Emma, and his three children, Lucy, William and Sophie. The family share their home with two very small dogs, Digby and Tizzie.
The author is currently working on the second book in the DCI Robson series, the sequel to Arcam.

Find Jason at:

Goodreads

Twitter

Blog Tour and Book Review – Chasing Petalouthes, The Gift Saga by Effie Kammenou #LoveBooksGroupTours

I am delighted to be part of the Blog Tour for the final book in The Gift Saga trilogy Chasing Petalouthes.

EG & WFA Facebook-Twitter 1

Chasing Petalouthes – butterflies – is the final book in this wonderful family saga following the generations of Greek families as they settle in New York.  In this chapter, the younger generation – third generation – are followed through teens, adolescence and young adulthood.

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Evvie, daughter of Sophia,  has experienced more tragedy than a young girl should ever endure, having lost both her father and a most beloved grandmother at a young age. Her rebellious ways are her only defense to mask the ever-present pain in her heart. Closing herself off emotionally, Evvie enters college life with a determination to follow her chosen path alone.  She might be a talented young dancer, like her mother, but her love for the family vineyard is strong and she discovers just how much she wants this life on a visit to France.  Her determination to work and grow her family business is tested over these tender years as relationships develop and difficult choices must be made.  She also begins to understand her Greek routes, the legacy of the soil and vines that is within her blood, during a visit to her great grandmother, Yiayia Sophia in Athens.

During this time Evvie remains resolute that she will not allow her emotions to sway her – she will not allow her heart to open up to love.  Even when a trip to the Greek island Cephalonia, with Yiayia Sophia, seems to show her where her true happiness and future could lie, she denies herself and a certain young man who she has known since college.

Stella, Demi’s daughter, is two years Evvie’s junior and struggling at high school to “fit in”.  She has a crush on a fellow student, and whilst he is happy to take her to Prom and will stand up for her honour, he makes it clear that Stella is not the girl for him whilst they are growing up.  She is the sort of girl who needs a steady relationship – a happy ever after – he tells her, and he is not ready for this.  Whilst Stella appreciates his honesty, at 16 this is a harsh truth to hear and she experiences betrayal from a friend during this time.  Meanwhile it feels to Stella that her siblings and cousins are all talented and achieving their dreams, whilst she enters college and drifts from one course to another with no real puprose.

She is insecure, a little naive and has no idea just how attractive she is.  Stella is smitten when an older, handsome, worldly young man shows interest in her and she believes that she has found love. But as his behaviour becomes more and more controlling, Stella’s family and friends become concerned that Stella has fallen into an abusive relationship.  Will she accept the situation and the help on offer before something terrible happens? 

“Chasing Petalouthes (Chasing Butterflies) is the coming of age story of two flawed, young women who push their way out from the confines of the cocoons they’d built around themselves and discover how to soar.”

I am going to start by saying what I always do…..please read the first two books in the series and set on a journey with these characters.  You might have read my reviews for Evanthia’s Gift and Waiting for Aegina and will already know how much I have enjoyed this series.  In fact I will go so far as to say that I feel emotionally invested in the characters.

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Chasing Petalouths pin

My greatest enjoyment from the trilogy has been the continuing story of the generations of women from two families and friends that become one : Anastacia, her daughter Sophia and granddaughter Evvie;  Soula, her daughter Demi and grandaughter Stella; close friends, the Honeyhill girls, and their children.  The roles of these strong leading women has been quite inspirational and I see the driving force of the family in the strong Greek woman, who loves to feed her family in my own great friend Evi.

This chapter of the story examines the adolescent years of the younger generation and the author shares the highs and the lows with brutal honesty.  Emotions run high as a teen/early twenty something and we have all experienced the intense joy and sadness that come with the smallest of experiences.  The young ladies in this tale are no different to any others and they feel intensely.  As a palliative care nurse in my previous life, I was particularly interested in Evvie and how the author dealt with her grief.  Something I learnt early in my nurse training (whilst losing many young men in our London taching hospital to Aids in the late 80s) is that there is no “right” way for grief, no timeline, no “one fit for all”.  Yes, there is the Kubler Ross stages of grief, but everyone is so different and Ms Kammenou depicts this beautifully with Evvie.

By the time she is a teen, this young lady has experienced major loss and in order to deal with this she has built an emotional wall around herself.  To the outside world her moods and strange wardrobe choices might seem like those of a “difficult, hormonal” teen, but they are so much more than this.  I applaud the author for her handling and eventual breakdown of Evvie’s grief,  the way in which she slowly realises that she cannot protect herself from the possibility of pain and loss – and in fact in the process may be denying herself love and joy.

Difficult topics are once again tackled in this family saga – suicide, depression and mental health, domestic abuse, death, bereavement.  Perhaps this list should also include falling in love, sexuality & sexual relationships, and the complexities of family life.  Both Stella and Evvie are great role models as they experience the highs and some extreme lows of growing up (no spoilers!), and both come out the other side as mature, more confident and happy young women.  I am not going to say that they have grown up – I’m not sure that we ever finish growing up and I believe that Yiayia Sophia shows us this in her observations of her life.

I could write so much more here, but I think the important thing is to say that I loved it just as much as the first tow books, and I really didn’t want it to end…..surely there must be another chapter waiting in the wings about young Cia, Ms Kammenou?  There are delicious recipes peppered throughout the book, including some French treats when Evvie is dancing in Paris – there is even a recipe for the delicious lemon chicken and potatoes that my own dear Evi makes.  But my kids say that I could never compete!

Five stars for this engrossing, beautifully written contemporary family saga.

Available from:

Amazon

About the Author

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

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 is Book Two in The Gift Saga and Chasing Petalouthes is Kammenou’s latest release, completing the series.

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 entertaining family and friends or traveling for ‘research.’

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.

Find Effie

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Blog

Instagram

Blog Tour & Book Review “Waiting for Aegina” The Gift Series #LoveBooksGroupTours

waiting for aegina

Many thanks to Kelly and Love Books Group for including me in this book blog tour!

Waiting for Aegina takes us back to the family and friends saga picking up the story where its predecessor, Evanthia’s Gift, left off.

It is the beginning of the 21st century and friends Sophia, Demi, Donna, Amy & Mindy are entering the next stage of their lives – as wives, mothers and business women. Affectionately known as the Honey Hill Girls, after the street where they grew up together, their friendships and love have strengthened with time and different experiences.

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Sophia, now very happily married to childhood sweetheart and Demi’s brother Dean, is still grieving for her mother Ana and worried for her father Alex.  She is also battling with her teen twins from her first marriage, who miss their father since his death and resent her marriage to their “Uncle Dean”, running her successful dance studio and she is heavily pregnant!

Demi has grown from a feisty youngster into a self assured woman, with a Greek fiery temperament and a fiercely protective streak for all those that she loves.  Her children are growing and the business that she runs with her husband Michael and brother, Dean is going from strength to strength – a vineyard that holds weddings and functions in a recently restored Carriage house.  But Demi and Michael are spending more and more time concentrating on their separate areas of the business, and Demi feels estranged from her adored husband and jealous of anyone else spending time with him – particularly his demanding mother!

Donna, the former high school cheerleader/Prom queen married to the football team captain/Prom king, is a teacher with 2 sons.  She has reached her forties and is feeling disillusioned with her marriage as husband Richie lavishes more attention on his sport, car and beer bottle than on Donna and the family.  The attention he focuses on elder son RJ – a keen sportsman like his father – is in direct contrast to the lack of interest that is shown towards younger son Anthony, a sensitive boy who enjoys art, theatre and music.  Donna struggles with her husband’s attitude toward their youngest and his derogatory comments about Anthony’s interests and gentle character.

Amy is now a successful lawyer turned politician, married to Ezra and mother to son Adam.  She is hiding a secret from her past that only Sophia knows – a son born 20 years ago and given up for adoption to a Greek family – but his father is a secret that Amy has never shared.  When her son, Sam, contacts her, Amy is delighted to get to know him through letters and phone calls. But before she has found the right time to tell Ezra and Adam about him or to even meet him face to face, the story has broken in the press that Congresswoman Amy had an illegitimate child and that the father was a now senior Congressman.

Mindy is the only one of the Honey Hill Girls to have never married, having put her soul into the building of her now successful dress design label Bloom.  She has been in love. Nightclub owner Tyler loved Mindy and wanted a life with her, but her long working hours and devotion to her work killed the relationship.  Several years later a chance encounter with Tyler gives Mindy a glimpse of the life that she could have had – marriage and his children.  She takes off to Greece to “grieve” and meets the dashing Apollo, but can this become a long distance relationship or will their differences make it doomed from the start.  As Mindy’s career goes from strength to strength, she despairs that she will never experience in her personal life what friends Sophia and Demi have.

The women’s lives move in different directions but remain intimately connected as they love and support each other through births, love and loss.

My review of the first in the Gift trilogy Evanthia’s Gift can be read here and whilst this book can be read as a stand alone……please, please, please read it as a sequel!  I gave the first book 5 stars and absolutely adored the characters, the settings, and the story telling – so I started the sequel with excitement but also trepidation.  Would it match up to the first novel?  Would I enjoy it as much and feel the characters in the same way?  Would I be inspired?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Yes, yes, yes!  This book is written around the five friends, whilst the first concentrated on the stories of the first generation Greek families, and each chapter is titled with a different friend’s name – Sophia, Demi, Donna, Amy or Mindy.  Sophia and Demi featured heavily in the first book, so it is lovely to get to know more about the other friends in this novel and the author gives us some more of their back stories whilst delivering the individuality of the characters.  When I feel that I could be friends with a character, that I think about the people as I go about my day to day life and I might even dream about them – then I believe that the author has really succeeded in creating something special.

There were so many aspects of this book that appealed to me – but as a woman of a similar age with growing children, I identify with these women.  I know that the author’s inspiration came from a group of close school friends and a reunion (see her facebook page), and I have also recently returned for a 30 year reunion with both old school friends and my nurse training set.  The feelings reignited with people who you have grown up with or spent informative years of your life cannot be underestimated – it just happens that these women have remained in each other’s lives and those feelings have only strengthened over the years. Love, loyalty, strength and friendship

Ms Kammenou tackles both the joyful aspects of family and friendship, but she doesn’t shy away from difficult aspects of real life.  This novel tackles depression and counselling, domestic abuse, sexuality, devastation from a road traffic accident, politics, suicide, separation and bereavement.  As the mother of a young gay man, I was particularly moved by the story of young Anthony’s sexuality and the difficulties he and others experienced.  This is very different to my own family.

Once again I laughed with these ladies, but I also cried with them.  Their characters grow throughout the book and the author describes real life, not sugar coated, warts and all.  I loved this sequel and can’t wait to get my hands on the final book in the saga.  A great warm, emotional family saga to pack in your suitcase this summer!

I forgot to mention that once again Ms Kammenou demonstrates her wonderful Greek heritage with beautiful descriptions of Greece but more importantly of the food preparation.  Then interspersed with the chapters are recipes and directions to make the dishes, and they are so mouth watering that my family were treated to the Greek Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers last night!  More wonderful recipes can be found her her website.

color cook cooking delicious

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Another 5 stars for this heart warming contemporary, family novel.

About the Author:

Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart or change your career. cover photo 2She 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.

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 is Book Two in The Gift Saga and Chasing Petalouthes is Kammenou’s latest release, completing the series.

EG & WFA Facebook-Twitter 1

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 entertaining family and friends or traveling for ‘research.’

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.

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.

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 is Book Two in The Gift Saga and Chasing Petalouthes is Kammenou’s latest release, completing the series.

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 entertaining family and friends or traveling for ‘research.’

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.

Find Effie:

On Twitter: @EffieKammenou

Facebook: @EffieKammenou

Website:  www.cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com

Gift Saga

 

Blog Tour and Book Review – “Blind Justice” by Alex Tresillian – Seeing is Deceiving #LoveBooksGroupTour

blingd justice

THE NEW NIALL BURNET THRILLER!

Synopsis supplied by the publisher:

Superstar Paralympian Fiona Mackintosh Green retires from the track to set up Forward Roll, a charity helping disabled people achieve self-respect through sport. But is she all she seems? How is her charity spending its money?

Niall Burnet, visually impaired journalist, is sent in undercover to find out. What he discovers is a trail of illegal performance-enhancing drugs that leads from the charity to its major backer, global pharmaceutical giant Prince Rajkumar.

All too soon, Niall finds himself surrounded by key players who will stop at nothing to protect their interests. When a former athlete is found dead, he knows that one wrong move could be his last…

Book info:

Publication Day: 5th July 2018
Publisher: Urbane Publications
ISBN: 978-1911331117
Pages: 336
Category: Fiction, Genre: Conspiracy Thriller | Political Thriller | Action Thriller

Buying links:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2vU1bdE
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2HFMNep
Foyles: http://bit.ly/2HE6cfD
Waterstones: http://bit.ly/2HLBe1t

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Blind Justice pin

Review:

This is the sequel to Eyes of the Blind, Alex Tresillian’s first novel about journalist Niall Burnet.  I have not read the first and feel that this can easily be read as a stand alone tale, but those of you who have read my reviews in the past will know that I personally prefer to have read books from number one. Personal preference!  In this case the storyline from the first book does continue into this novel, and whilst there is sufficient explanation to be able to easily follow, I would always recommend reading book one!  However the opening scenes set in Telford draw the reader into the plot, slowly allowing a catch up on the story of Niall and Miranda before the new investigation commences.

When this book popped onto my radar I was excited to read and review something that has different types of disability at the fore and keen to understand how the author would incorporate them into the storyline.  It would have been easy to have the disability element as a token nod, but I don’t believe that this is how the author constructs this story as the visual impairment of Niall and the new sight of girlfriend Miranda are central to the plot – as they would have been in the first book too.  However this is dealt with in a very matter of fact way, allowing us into Niall’s world as a blind man but more importantly into his world as a journalist – no saccharine coating in sight (no pun intended).

The introduction of Paralympian Fiona is handled differently as she is a celebrity as a result of her disability and her sporting success, but her disability is written about sympathetically without it enveloping her whole character.  As a relatively new wheelchair user, I was able to relate to certain elements very well.  These aren’t a major part of the storyline, neither should they be, but the descriptions of the lay out of her office furniture and the adapted shower room all rang bells with me – as did her need for help to get into her evening dress!  The public face and the private face are elements that anyone with a disability/chronic illness can relate to – no one wants the lack of dignity that can come with wheelchair use being played in public.  This is demonstrated so well as Fiona explains how she manages her bladder – as a young woman she wishes to have as much control over her body functions for as long as possible, and if this means “toiletting” every hour in order to avoid accidents, but also to avoid a catheter then so be it.  Again this is something that I relate to personally, as someone with a neurogenic bladder who tries to avoid self catheterisation!

I have to applaud the author for recognising that disabled people have sex lives!  This may seem a very odd thing to draw from the book, but there does tend to be a fear and embarrassment of recognising those of us with disabilities and chronic health as being sexual beings.  I’m not going to give any spoilers about specific relationships in the book, but will say that the growing attractions and feelings are described sensitively and with the focus on the emotions of any growing relationship, not on the abilities of either party.

The characters are all really different and make for an interesting cast as their back stories and current stories start to intertwine the more that Niall investigates.  Niall himself is loved by some of this cast and yet reviled by others, particularly some who have known him many years.  I actually admire Niall for sticking to his beliefs for right and wrong – most of the time! – and for striving for justice.  He certainly doesn’t take the easy route, extending himself beyond the original journalistic brief to expose the sports charity, when he realises that he could be onto a much greater story – the involvement of a major pharmaceutical giant in doping in athletes.  As an ambitious journalist, of course he is following the bigger scoop – but his human side is shown as he refuses to write an expose on the small sports charity that he believes can still do much good.  Niall is a flawed character in so many ways, but this makes him human.  He has mixed emotions about Miranda gaining her sight – envy, guilt, fear, delight – all swirling around inside him like a pressure cooker, yet he is unable to acknowledge most of them far less verbalise them.

Miranda, in contrast,  at times is a rather pathetic figure in the way that she comes across.  I think my feelings toward her were something of disbelief and anger that she is so apathetic about the miracle of gaining her sight, but it is only as the story progresses that I realised how hard it must be to suddenly be living in the sighted world after 30 years of being “cocooned” by both her lack of sight and her family’s protectiveness.  The descriptions of managing public transport in London for the time alone are beautifully written – navigating the underground for the first time is a challenge for anyone, but for a young woman who has never been able to see before this represents a whole visual stimulus overload!  Miranda is the character who grows the most throughout the book.  She is neglected by Niall on the move to London and this pushes her to examine what she wants from her life.  She feels unskilled and at sea in the sighted world, yet she knows she wants a purpose.  Her crippling anxiety both holds her back and drives her forward.  by the time I reached the end of the book, my opinion of her had changed completely.

The backing cast include Fiona’s chauvinistic sports coach husband – described perfectly to elicit strong feelings of dislike in the reader; Zoltan, Miranda’s knight in shining armour; the men, including Miranda’s father, who form an “old boys’ network” at the centre of the other charity in the story and believe that they are untouchable; the strong Dame Hillary, brought in to overhaul the British association for the Blind yet finding herself drawn in to conspiracies and secrets; and finally the cast of workmates at the Sports Charity, all with their unique insights into the organisation.

The theme of drugs in sports is very topical and the investigation at the heart of the novel is fast, gritty, at times uncovers a seedy, dark underbelly that is unpalatable yet fascinating.  The different attitudes to what constitutes “cheating” are interesting and the author indirectly asks the question “what is a level playing field?”.  Morals, greed and money, dreams and aspiration, drive and ambition – all are central to the plot.

There are loose ends at the end, and whilst this is not a criticism as real life does not come gift boxed, I do want to know what happens to certain characters……and I hope that these incomplete tales mean that Mr Tresillian is planning for a return of Niall in a third book.  I guess that this tells you how much I enjoyed it!! 4 stars

Thankyou to Kelly at Love Books Group for including me on this tour and to Urbane Publications for sending me a copy of the book.  Please note that all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

About the Author

Alex grew up in rural England with a dream to write for a living which never quite came true. He has enjoyed incarnations as a theatre publicity officer, restaurant manager, teacher, teacher trainer, and curriculum developer. Along the way Alex wrote five plays that were performed by students including one, Never Mind the Rain Forests, that was enthusiastically reviewed (3 stars) at the Edinburgh Fringe. Another, Gavin’s Kingdom, received a professional workshop production at the Birmingham Rep. Plays Into Shakespeare, a book for English and Drama teachers that introduced students to the characters in Shakespeare’s plays through short modern-English ‘additional’ scenes, was published by First and Best in Education in 2007.Alex Tresillian Author Image

Alex moved to Abu Dhabi in 2008 with a Lebanese international education company that had a contract to train English teachers and develop curriculum materials. Latterly moved to their Academic Development office in Beirut and wrote two series of books for students from ages eight to sixteen – one on grammar and one on the art of writing. He is now living with his wife of many years in Worcestershire, his children pursuing careers in education, fashion, charity fundraising and web development in places as disparate as Beijing, London and Chesterfield. Alex also enjoys writing stories for his young grandchildren.

Social Media Links for Alex

Website: https://urbanepublications.com/authors/alex-tresillian/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Alex_Tresillian

 

A Summer Holiday Read! Blog Tour and Book Review : The Heat is On by Helen Bridgett #LoveBooksGroupTours

Heat is On (1)

I am delighted to be a part of another LoveBooksGroup Blog Tour!  Just right for summer.

The wonderful middle aged ladies Angie and Patty, along with their best friend Charlie are back to add some sparkle to the summer.  Angie and Charlie are running their successful travel agency, the Mercury Travel Club, their friend Patty has just returned from performing on cruise ships and all three are in new relationships.

Angie has bought her first home since her divorce; her daughter Zoe is living in New York and she has a wonderful new man in her life.  She has won a local Business Entrepreneur Award and the travel agency has been going from strength to strength.  Life is good!  But this is all to change when Lorenzo enters their world with his new brand of travel agency that he opens in a shop directly opposite The Mercury Travel Club.  Suddenly the friends find themselves desperately fighting for their business as they are undercut and thwarted at every turn by the devious Lorenzo – can they find ways to remain one step ahead with innovative and fun ideas, to maintain their loyal customer base and to woo new clients?

A unique opportunity presents itself in the shape of a beautiful island retreat, which could give the friends the USP that they need for the survival of the Mercury Travel Club.  Add maintaining their personal relationships and growing new ones into the mix – what could possibly go wrong?

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Heat is On Pin

This is the second book in the series, and whilst I always recommend reading a series from the start, The Heat is On can definitely be read as a stand-alone – there really is enough explanation to understand the back stories.  The antics of the pals make this the perfect light, romantic comedy to pack in your suitcase and read on the beach!  The book is fun, witty and easy to read – maybe not a great literary novel, but certainly a very enjoyable one!

Angie, Patty and Charlie are funny, lovable and in possession of real human traits.  For me some of their most endearing qualities are those that are reflective of real life and not some magazine styled ideal – failed relationships, insecurities, less than perfect bodies, inability to cook, embarrassing parents, turbulent love lives and a love of life.  They show that it is possible to be middle aged and still have a sense of adventure and joie de vivre.  The friends are loyal, protective and love each other – this gives the book a real feel good factor.

The characters are funny, scatty and seem to invite disaster at every turn.  But they are also lovable, believable and it felt joyful to be a part of their story.  I love a well written classic piece of literature, but I equally love a well written, contemporary, light hearted tale and would definitely describe this book in this category.  Angie is a great character and I can easily both laugh with her and cry with her – this woman has soul!  Patty is larger than life and just makes me smile every time she enters the room.  Charlie provides the balance to his female friends – the voice of reason yet also passionate and driven.  Perhaps my favourite character is Angie’s mum – so funny and always there at just the wrong moment to make an entrance.

A joy to read, this is a light hearted, romantic comedy that doesn’t pretend to be anything else – a perfect, unpretentious read for the summer!  4 stars

With thanks to Kelly at LoveBooksGroup for including me on this blog tour.

Available from:

Amazon:

Book 1 –

Book 2 –

 

Waterstones

WHSmith

 

About the Author

Helen has always loved books and always loved writing. One year she decided her New Year’s resolution would be “Write a novel to give as a Christmas present”. She spent the year writing and The Mercury Travel Club was born.

Helen hails from the North East but now lives in Manchester. bridgett
Following a career in Marketing, Helen took an MA in TV and Radio Scriptwriting and created short films before writing her first novel. She loves nothing more than a glass of wine and witty banter with friends; her love of dialogue feeds into her work and has given her the perfect excuse to eavesdrop on conversations. Helen lives with her husband and their chocolate Labrador, Angus; all three can often be found wandering the Cumbrian hills or in country pubs.

Like many people, Helen believes that the music you grow up with as a teenager stays with you for the whole of your life. Being a child of 80’s rock, when she hears the opening riff to Sweet Child of Mine, she cannot be held responsible for her actions!

Find Helen:

Website: Helen Bridgett.com

Twitter: @Helen_Bridgett

Goodreads

Publisher: Red Door Publishing

Fiction in Anglo Saxon Britain – Blog Tour and Review of “The Warrior with the Pierced Heart” by Chris Bishop #LoveBooksGroup

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Wessex 878AD.  Matthew, christened Edward, is third born son of Edwulf the Ealdorman and brother of the Saxon warrior Lord Edwin.  He is a novice monk turned warrior, who starts his tale whilst marching to celebrate King Alfred’s great victory at Edington but soon he and his men fall victim to an ambush by Viking raiders.  He is wounded with an arrow to the heart and believes his injury to be fatal as he feels the life ebbing from him.  But he is found and helped by a mysterious woman called Ingar who proclaims herself to be a healer, deriving her knowledge and skills from Mother Earth.

The book follows Matthew on his road to recovery and the many more battles which lie ahead, both physical and metaphorical, as he attempts to return to Saxon King Alfred.  He finds himself rapidly moving from one disaster to another, whilst making both friends and enemies along the way on a journey that is full of adversity, hope and triumph….no spoilers!!

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Review Warrior with Pierced Heart

 

This is the second book in the Shadow of the Raven series and I have to stick my hand up and admit that I didn’t realise this when I started it.  However, the book can be read as a stand-alone as there are plenty of references to the story so far – but I think that if I were to read it again I would read the first part (Blood and Destiny) to gain a better background as it did take me a little while to “get into it”.

I do enjoy historical novels, and whilst this is a period that I have watched on television dramas such as The last Kingdom, I haven’t read many books covering Anglo Saxon times.  This is only the author’s second novel in a field that is dominated by the like of Bernard Cornwell.  The detail felt very well researched by the author – although I can’t vouch for the historical accuracy as I just don’t know! – and I felt immersed into the Britain of the Dark Ages.  The brutality of the Vikings and the severity of the battles are not sugar coated in this tale!

The book is written in the first person – that is with the main character Matthew narrating the story – and I always feel that this is a much tougher style to write in.  As a result, I think that at times the fast paced tale feels slightly stilted as Matthew’s narration lurches from one disaster to another.  I do admire the author for attempting this though, as a first person narrative can take on a list like quality. I personally would have liked Mr Bishop to expand on his descriptions a little more, as those that he does write paint such a vivid picture – for instance the descriptions of Ingar using herbs for healing, the ruffian gang of Viking slavers and the description of sailing up the Thames and Matthew’s first impressions of London.  For me the descriptions of Leatherhead were great as it is only up the road from my home – we were at the the theatre there last month and believe me that it there is no resemblance between then and now!

There is a great deal of humour in this novel, particularly the way in which certain characters are described and little comments that Matthew makes.  I liked the characters – even some of the blood thirsty Vikings – and I loved the way that Matthew plays with his infamy as the story of “the warrior with the pierced heart”, returning from the dead, spreads far and wide.  The character of young Matthew, who was a monk and is now a warrior whilst still in his teens, develops and grows both emotionally and physically throughout the course of the book.  This growth mirrors his personal healing and recovery after his near fatal wounds sustained at the beginning of the book.  As this young man describes his physical strength growing from day to day, I believe that the reader also witnesses his mental strength and personality growing and maturing from day to day.  Matthew does seem to find himself in one sticky situation after another though, and I don’t think that I would want to take a journey with him!

This is an action packed historical novel from a new author that I think will appeal to many historical fiction fans. The writing style is not quite my cup of tea, but nevertheless I did enjoy it.  I believe that the author will go from strength to strength in his writing and I look forward to further novels in the future……and I should mention that I have purchased the first book which I will go back and read now!  3.5 stars

Thank you to Kelly at Love Books Group for giving me the opportunity to be on this tour!

More Information Available from

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Red Door Publishing

About the Author

Chris BisshopChris Bishop is a retired chartered surveyor who has pursued his love of writing for as long as he can remember. He is an intrepid traveller and a retired Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. He is married with two children and four granddaughters and lives in London. His other interests are travel, windsurfing and fly fishing.

Website: theshadowoftheraven.com

Twitter: @CBishop_author

 

 

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Blog Tour & Book Review of “Danube Street” by Linda Tweedie & Kate McGregor #LoveBooksGroupTours

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I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to be part of this blog tour by Kelly at LoveBooksGroup. This is a fair and honest review, and all opinions are my own.

Agnes McLeod is the bright, only daughter of a farmer living in the harsh wilds of Ayrshire.  When her pregnant cousin Mary comes to stay, she is fascinated by this young woman’s view of the world and her survival instinct.  Mary takes Agnes with her to Edinburgh and introduces her to a lifestyle far removed from the farm, rubbing shoulders with gangsters, prostitutes and police alike.  Agnes becomes Stella and the young women learn how to join the elite of “the oldest profession” amongst the hotels of the city. When an “accident” befalls Mary involving the infamous Williams brothers, Stella finds an unlikely ally in the city’s top barrister.

At this point Stella Gold, with the backing of the barrister, set out to turn a property in the Georgian terrace of Danube Street into Edinburgh’s most exclusive brothel.  Stella quickly becomes the city’s most respected Madame, entertaining clients ranging from sailors to councillors to clergy to police.  Surrounded by loyal friends, like young Jack and former prostitute Kitty who both work for her, and enemies, like the Williams brothers and working girls with grudges, Stella must remain astute and streetwise.

Into the picture comes fourteen-year-old runaway Rosie, picked up at the bus station by an infatuated Jack.  Rosie, the youngest of 3 daughters, is pregnant by an American GI and disowned by her father but the youngster has a survival instinct not unlike Stella’s and looks to match.  The older woman allows the youngster to stay at Danube Street until her baby is born, but Rosie soon finds herself at the receiving end of jealousy from some of the other working girls.  This is to have life changing outcomes for her.

Meanwhile Stella is finding herself the object of a vendetta by not only the criminal factions of the city, but also a corrupt Chief of Police, with several secrets of his own.  Stella is the ultimate survivor, but is time running out for her?  Who can she look to in order to ensure the future of Danube Street?

I have had to be so careful not to give away any spoilers as I get carried away in my description!  This novel had me interested from the moment that I realised that the premise is taken from the true story of 17 Danube Street – once an infamous exclusive brothel run by Madame Dora Noyce from soon after the end of World War 2 until her death aged 77 in the 10970s.  Links to articles of interest can be found at the end of my review.  The characters and storylines in this novel are fiction.

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Danube Street (PlanetEdinburgh Blog)

This was for me an easy read as I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline, the characters and the style of writing.  The plots are hard hitting, and the use of strong language, descriptive violence, drugs and abuse will mean that this is not for everyone.  But if you enjoy a fast moving, gritty drama that has a cast of characters that are human, flawed and believable, then this is a novel for you!

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Danube Street

The depiction of the young women and their back stories that led them into a life of prostitution is enlightening, and I think probably still rings true for today.   Whilst one could be led to believe that the life of a working girl in a smart hotel or in an “exclusive brothel” is glamorous, the writers also show the other side of the coin.  Jack’s mother Jeanie works the streets and is at the receiving end of vicious abuse, both physical and verbal, with “punters” rarely seeing her as a human being.  Yet when the writers take us back to her early years and the loss of her husband in the war, it becomes apparent that this story that could and should have been so different.  It is just one of many of a young woman doing anything and everything to support her family.  The girls who work for Stella definitely have a better life than the street girls – they are fed well and work in beautiful surroundings, but they are still very much at the mercy of the clients.  The writers also weave in the issue of sexual abuse from a young age and the fact that for some young people because this has been a “normal” for them, it continues to be the norm into adult life (no spoilers, but on reading the book I think you will understand).

I love the strong female lead characters in this book – Stella, obviously, for making her way and then holding her own as a respected business woman in a male dominated society; young Rosie who undoubtedly grows the most in this story, from spirited teen to a street wise young woman with a great head for business; Kitty, the older ex prostitute, whose wisdom, life experiences and loyalty are priceless for both Stella and Rosie.  Jack is the youngest of the male characters and understanding his back story, his mother’s decline into alcoholism and street prostitution, the obvious course for the writers to take him down (gangsters, drugs, alcohol) is not quite the route he follows. Certainly, his life is still set amidst this background, but he makes his life choices with a mature head following his own moral compass.

There are many truly unlikeable characters in this novel – psychopathic, vicious and violent Freddie Williams, Mags the aggrieved working girl – but for me the vilest is probably DCI Ross.  Whilst I detested the man, the writers were very clever to give us his childhood story – harsh conditions with equally harsh parenting – allowing the reader to have an understanding of why the man behaves as he does and almost feeling empathy for him.

The story is fast, packed with action and wonderfully rich characters – I might unpick them all, but you really can enjoy this without doing so! I applaud the wonderful descriptions of both Edinburgh and the isolated areas of Scotland.  This was a novel that I found difficult to put down as I became invested in the characters and genuinely wanted to know what happens to them.  Strange as it may seem, there are some very tender relationships and genuine feelings – the joys and despairs of parenthood, loss, grief and love. Many ends are tied up, but there are also many loose ends and new lives…. a sequel please, Ms Tweedie & Ms McGregor!! Meanwhile I plan to look out your other works.

I can’t help feeling that the original Madame, Dora Noyce, would approve of this version of Danube Street.  She always objected to the word brothel and wanted her house to be known as one of “leisure and pleasure”, where she gave glasses of wine to gentleman arriving and then tea and sandwiches for “afters”.  The opulent house of the book and the rich characters within its walls would get a nod of approval from the real Madame of Danube Street.

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17 Danube Street (from Planet Edinburgh blog)

I loved it too! 4 stars

Articles of interest:

https://www.scotsman.com/news/lost-edinburgh-17-danube-street-1-3334496

https://planetedinburgh.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/17-danube-street-what-your-parents-never-told-you/

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Currently available on Kindle at Amazon here:

Publisher: Fledgling Press

Publication Date: 01/08/2018

ISBN-13: 9781912280131 

Details:

Type: Paperback

Format: Books

About the Authors

LINDA TWEEDIE lives in a small coastal town on the east coast of Scotland and has been a market trader, encyclopaedia salesperson and a drug rep (rep, not dealer) but for over 20 years, until her retirement, (early of course!) she spent most of her time behind a bar barring toilet breaks as landlady of numerous watering holes. Her first three novels came about through customers and friends telling her on almost a daily basis that she should write a book. Well, she did not just one but three The Life series, in collaboration with her best friend and cohort Kate McGregor. The Silence is their début crime novel set mainly in the dark and mean streets of Glasgow at the time of the infamous Ice Cream Wars. A fast-paced, gritty story which will keep you enthralled. 10458773_978010128897355_2150746344268007796_nKATE McGREGOR co-author was born in Paisley, once labelled the most dangerous town in the UK. But, it quietened down considerably once she left and went to work in London. Kate has been a beautician, logistics manager, advertising guru and sexy party planner who, after being made redundant twice in one year, decided it was time to be mistress of her own destiny and with the hindrance and interference of her best friend Linda, embarked on a seven year career in booze! Together they wrote The Life series, the first of which, Life Behind Bars, was a finalist in The People s Book Prize. The Silence is their début crime novel and if you like Martina Cole or Jessie Keane, you’ll love this.

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Drugs to Forget – Blog Tour and Review

Yes, yes..another blog tour!  Most unusual for me to have 2 in one week, but this book sounded too good to miss – and today is publication day in paperback!

With many thanks to Kelly at LoveBooksGroup for the opportunity to be included in this book tour in return for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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Natalie Thompson is an investigative film director, tasked with making a documentary on the threat of bioterrorism.  She is quickly made aware of an Ebola outbreak in central Africa which is being kept under wraps by the authorities, and the journalist in Natalie seeks to find a way into the local healthcare system in order to search for answers.  She gains the trust of medical staff by posing as a film maker for a Western aid charity who wishes to learn more about their vaccination programme.  Whilst in Africa, a contact introduces her to a Zimbabwean terrorist group and she must take on yet another undercover persona, posing as a blogger and Western African rights sympathiser.  Is it possible that these terrorists are really planning to give the West a dose of “African disease”?

Meanwhile in London Tom is a new rookie to the investigative film world and is set to work doing research for Natalie’s project.  He uncovers suspicious activities in a laboratory in Java and soon finds himself dispatched off to investigate – and with a minder in tow!  They make contact with a young chemist who is concerned about the research work that she is being asked to undertake. When Natalie and Tom touch base with each other, they find that there are various strands to their stories that are linking to each other and to the terrorist group.  Certain names in pharmaceutical companies keep cropping up too, alongside studies into Alzheimer’s disease. Now the question is do they continue with the sole purpose of making a documentary or should the authorities be alerted to the very real prospect of a bioterrorist attack?

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Action, suspense, intrigue, danger, fear, excitement…..just some of the words to sum up this novel.  I believe that Natalie Thompson has appeared in several other novels by the author, but this can be read as a stand-alone book – I haven’t read the others.  This novel is so current and the author’s background in investigative documentary films is very evident with the detailed descriptions of both fieldwork and the editorial offices.  The devastation of Ebola has been on our television screens for several years now and the Western world is well aware of the havoc that it can wreak.  Add to this the recent happenings in the UK with the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter, this storyline becomes completely plausible and for that reason more frightening.

I do love the fact that the lead character is a woman – but then I would say that, I suppose!  Natalie is gutsy, strong, intelligent and driven.  At times I was fearful for her when she appeared to be reckless in her actions, but this for me is an indication of the great suspense that Mr Granger conjures with his writing.  The complexities of her character develop as she becomes more involved with the medical programmes in Africa and meets the real people who are affected.  She is empathetic and finds herself conflicted between the story that she is out to uncover and the other very human stories that she is finds thrown into, including research trials into drugs for Alzheimer’s disease. Essentially, she is lying to people who believe that she is there to help and I like the fact that I can feel her grappling with her conscience when recording in an undercover capacity.

The other characters develop nicely through the story too –  young Tom who finds himself in dangerous situations that he would never have dreamt of and using his sexuality to win the confidence of a source; Nick the ex-soldier sent to babysit Tom who has useful contacts within various police/ authorities; and Geoff the boss, who is spinning so many plates in his office that it feels at times that he can’t possibly keep everyone happy and produce a great programme.  I learnt so much about film production from the great descriptions of the actual filming to the editing and beyond.

The author does cover moral and ethical conflicts that I imagine are a daily occurrence for any documentary maker.  In this case the issues are around the findings of the investigations as it becomes apparent just what the terrorists are planning and just how the pharmaceutical companies are linked.  Should the team continue filming in order to get a fantastic story?  Just when is the right time to inform the authorities what they have discovered? What happens if the authorities in other countries don’t listen or are just too corrupt themselves to act?  Then Mr Granger introduces us to the legal implications!

I loved this book from start to finish.  The fact that at times my heart was in my mouth for me shows how well it is written – the suspense created through the investigation was great.  For an action-packed, exciting, believable investigative read with a twist in the tail, I would definitely recommend “Drugs to Forget” – this gets full marks form me! Now I am off to find the other books from this author.   5 stars.

Available from:

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Amazon: on Kindle & Paperback

Publisher: RedDoor Publishing Ltd (31 May 2018)

About the Author

Martin Granger

Martin Granger HeadshotMartin has been making documentary films for thirty years. In that time he has won more than 100 international film awards. His work has ranged from directing BBC’s Horizon to producing a BAFTA nominated science series for Channel 4.His novels, although fiction, are based upon his experience in the film industry. He lives in Wimbledon with his wife Jacqueline.

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Blog Tour & Book Review – “Just Sam” by Kristy Brown

With many thanks to Kelly at LoveBooksGroup for the opportunity to be included in this book tour in return for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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Sammy is growing up within a loving family and just showing herself to be a real tennis talent.  Her future,as she enters her teens, seems set when her world is blown wide apart in the cruellest way and her mother is diagnosed with and dies from cancer.  Life will never be the same again as each member of the family – Sammy, her father and her older sister – deal with their own grief and the difficulties of living on.  A house move, a new school and new peers all present Sammy with additional challenges, alongside an increasingly distant sister and a father working long hours.  Her love and enthusiasm for tennis, which was encouraged by and shared with her mum, suddenly feels meaningless so she stops pushing herself and misses out on a big chance for sponsorship.

Her life feels like it is spiralling as she tries to navigate the uncertainties of the secondary school playground, new friends, romantic friends, the school prom and her tennis.  Added into the mix is an eight-year-old girl who comes to Sammy for tennis coaching and an unlikely relationship develops.  But without her mother how can she possibly cope?  She needs to become a different person and to do this Sammy becomes “Just Sam”.

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This is a poignant young adult/teen novel which tells a story of love, loss, grief, relationships and moving on during the tough years of adolescence.  The author explores tough subject matter and there is no sugar coating.  Sam’s grief is raw and tangible, but it is also very private and not something that she wishes to share.  Without her mother to be her cheerleader through life, she feels unable to move forward, so it is a nice touch from the author that it is a young girl, lavished with all that money can buy yet starved of parental attention, who helps Sam reconnect with the important things in her life.  The family dynamic is well examined as Sam, her sister and their dad all grieve individually, in the mistaken belief that by not talking about their feelings will protect the others.  No spoilers but there are several nice twists toward the end of the story.

The teenage relationships are depicted well with rival friendship groups, petty jealousies, miscommunication, envy, sexuality, feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.  Ms Brown has built a rich cast of real teens, not from a glitzy teen soap opera, but rather young people with flaws and problems, hopes and dreams growing up in ordinary, often dysfunctional, families.  They feel deeply, as only teens can, and struggle to balance their relationships, school, home life and hormones.  The romances are full of teenage joy and angst in equal measure – the feeling of first love for Sam as her heart beats loudly when she glimpses the neck of a particular young man or how one youngster feels after trying to discuss sexuality and coming out with parents.

As mum to three adolescents (and having been one myself although they can’t believe this!) I do relate to this story and I really enjoyed it.  I can empathise with the situations that all the parents face – they are all very different, yet all very relevant. I enjoyed watching the young characters grow, particularly Sam as she learns for herself the importance of moving forward from her mother’s death.  With time her increasing maturity shines through as she accepts that her tennis isn’t something to hate because of the connections to mum, but rather her success in her burgeoning tennis career is a wonderful way to honour her mother’s memory.  The characters all move on in life – as we all do – and the younger cast are learning to go forward no matter what is thrown at them.  If I were to be very picky, I would say that for an adult novel I would have liked the end to have been fleshed out more – but I would describe this as adolescent/YA fiction and as such the tying up of loose ends is entirely appropriate.  This is just the type of book that I would have loved as as a teen – great antidote to the literature syllabus!

I definitely recommend this novel and applaud the author for tackling some difficult life situations – bereavement, loss, love, sexuality, eating disorder, mental health, relationships – but giving young readers a very positive message for the aspects of life that cannot be controlled.  A well written, sensitive, heart-warming and insightful look at the informative years! 4 Stars

Available at Amazon

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About the Author

Hi I’m Kristy and I live in the U.K. I have always written short stories and poetry. I went to university to study acting which I loved, but my real passion has always been writing. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo now I write the kind of stories I would have wanted to read when I was a teen. “Kiera’s Quest-Awakenings” is my first ebook. There will be four in the series. I have written the chapters like scenes in a film, with the action cutting to different characters. It’s fast paced! Book two-“Sacrifices” came out August 2012(Muse It Up Publishing) Book three, “Perceptions,” was released in May. Book four, the last, was out Feb 2014. My YA contemporary romance book, “Just Sam,” Is available on Amazon in print & on Kindle. “Summer’s End,” a YA Paranormal series will be out shortly with ‘Muse It Up Publishing.’ My dream is to have them in print someday! I love reading YA angels,vamps etc. I love my kids and hopefully one day they will enjoy my crazy tales!

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Blog Tour and Book Review: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Cherry Radford

Light House Keepers Blog Tour

I was fortunate to be given a copy of this book through Love Books and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review

Living in her aunt’s lighthouse at Beachy Head, recently separated Imogen is doing her best to carve out a new life as a writer.  Her teenage son is living with his father and displays indifference to her at every turn, her ex has a younger model and her aunt is in Jersey recuperating at her cousin’s home.  But how will a middle-aged woman, used to life in suburbia, cope living on a rural headland and perhaps most poignantly a mere stone’s throw from the lighthouse where her own father died in a tragic accident.  Aunt Dorothy has started to send Imogen pages, well excerpts really from her father’s diary, but she is being very mysterious as to why she won’t just send her the whole thing.

Imogen is struggling to find a plot for her novel and definitely does not want to go with her ex-husband Ewan’s idea to write about her own father.  It is whilst she is driving in Ewan’s old car that she inserts a CD and falls helplessly in love with a piece of flamenco guitar music.  She feels the “beautiful but unbearable melody” and as she stops the car to listen, wonders how she had not before “understood the anger in sadness”. So begins the second thread of the storyline as Imogen takes the bold step to contact the guitarist on Twitter, setting the wheels in motion for new friendships and relationships.

Imogen finds herself making a new best friend in Jules, who helps her to put some of the demons surrounding her parents’ marriage and then her father’s death to rest.  In return Imogen introduces Jules to the builder, Dylan, employed by her aunt to undertake an endless list of works at the lighthouse.  Meanwhile the tweets to and from Spain are growing as the guitarist Santiago explains that he needs an English teacher and perhaps Imogen can help him.  His music career is fading and his manager has encouraged him into acting.  Imogen finds herself drawn toward Santi and his close family more and more, as her novel starts to unfold and her imagination mixes fact and fiction.

Her Twitter friendship is unfolding alongside her reading and learning more of her father in his diary, even finding that he also had a penpal – of the more traditional variety!  The diary reveals secrets that make Imogen question everything about her past and throw caution to the wind with a visit to Madrid and a man who she only knows through “140 character” messages.

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I would class this as a contemporary romance novel, but with a difference.  There are romance novels and films where it is too easy to unravel the whole plot in the first five minutes – too predictable and one dimensional.  This book is not like that and Cherry Radford has written enough twists and turns to keep you guessing.  The lighthouse storyline about her father lends some intrigue, whilst the Spanish storyline adds another whole dimension.  The characters are believable, and I think the fact that some are more likeable than others shows that they are well portrayed.  Imogen’s relationship with son Ollie had me laughing as it rang lots of bells, particularly as I have a teen Olly too and I really enjoyed the scenes of the blossoming relationship with new friend Jules.  I would definitely enjoy a night at the pub with these ladies (this was their first proper meeting place!) – they are chalk and cheese, but this just adds to the humour.

Using social media to set up a “friendship” is genius, resembling so much of life today, and the communication barriers down to language mistakes are at times hilarious.  There is a whole storyline describing Santi’s life and family in Madrid, which you must discover for yourself alongside Imogen…I don’t want to give anything away….but his early referrals to her as “the English woman” and how he views her as stereotypical English with her pale red hair and shy freckled body are very funny.  The characters in the book all grow, not necessarily in the ways that the reader expects or wants, but relationships develop and become clearer as the storyline unfolds.

There are some very atmospheric descriptions of both the south coast of England, particularly of the rain and mist sweeping in, and also of historic Madrid where Imogen gains inspiration for her own novel.

I really enjoyed Cherry Radford’s style of writing and will be returning for more of her novels.  I found this an easy going read – I actually read it within a couple of days – with a bit of history (the lighthouses), some intrigue, friendships, tears and love.  Plus lots of laughter – from me at least!

Five stars.

Available at Amazon here :

 

About the Author

81tEosh+iPL._UX250_Cherry Radford was a piano teacher at the Royal Ballet Junior School, a keyboard player in a band, and then a research optometrist at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London before suddenly writing her first novel in the middle of a scientific conference in 2009.  She now lives in Eastbourne and Almeria (Spain).

Her first 2 novels are available from Amazon and she is now thrilled to have signed with the wonderful Urbane Publications, who will publish The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter in Spring 2018.

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