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.

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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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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.

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Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

We are celebrating our final bank holiday weekend of the year and in true UK style it is raining!  The long, hot days of only a couple of weeks ago feel like a world away, whilst last night yours truly turned on the electric blanket and added a dressing gown to the bed clothes.  Now the fight will be on between husband and wife for changing to a warmer duvet (me) or sticking with the summer one (him).  I must look into these split weight duvets – have any of tried them? Anyway, the wife will win!!

Monday Magic - 27 aug

 

This week has felt a little surreal if I am honest with you.  The politics student called mid week to say that he could only sleep on his mate’s floor in Nottingham until Saturday – OK, so what do you expect me to do about it??  Well, my final exam isn’t until Tuesday……good old mum puts a shout out to a couple of Nottingham based school friends, but of course it is a BH weekend and guess what, my boy?!  A lot of people go away – and that is why my friends aren’t about but also why the B&B/hostels are all booked!!  He is fortunate that we found an Air BnB – affordable and in walking distance of uni; but arranging transport home was slightly trickier as he hadn’t told me his exam isn’t until 4.30 Tuesday afternoon.  But……with a bit of internet surfing, I was amazed to get him and his friend onto a coach on Tuesday evening, back to London for £15 for the two of them!  Bargain!!  It will probably cost as much to get back from London to home (30 mins on the train!).

Amidst the dramas of the “middle” child, came the exam results of the youngest – the lovely girl.  I did mention a little about this in yesterday’s post.  Needless to say it was mum here who didn’t sleep well the night before and had strange dreams – we knew she would have got the requirements for 6th form, bar a complete disaster, but as the exams have been new this year and she was taking a mixture of the new levels 1-9 and the old grades A*-G, anything was possible.  Thursday morning came, she got up and did her paper round, and I was awoken to squeals as she opened the email – oh my goodness!  I am not allowed to say any more, but if your follow me on twitter of facebook you will know that she didn’t need to worry about me posting her results and picture all over social media – the school did it!! (here!!)).  As I said I’m not allowed to say anything – but delight, surreal, shocked, unbelievable….you get the picture!!

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The young engineer has been a bit put out that his little sister beat him – in fact beat both her brothers – but secretly he is very proud.  In fact on Friday evening he and his partner were going to the theatre with the lovely girl and her friend (who did just as well) – and he took them out for dinner beforehand to celebrate.  Now this is a huge deal as he has always been the “tight” kid of the 3!!!

So moving on from the act of sibling love in my household to the first blog that I’m sharing with you this week – it comes from Rachna and she describes a beautiful festival that traditionally recognises and honours sibling love.  I particularly like the post on ClockWorkClouds that discussed the uses of certain words – how does using “should” rather than”would” change the feel of a situation?  I hope that you will also enjoy some culture with an artist’s exhibition, a book review, flash fiction story and do read the Trolls’ poem, it is funny!  There are also some life posts here too that would benefit everyone.

So grab a cuppa, put your feet up and enjoy some great blog posts!

https://www.rachnaparmar.com/2018/08/raksha-bandhan-a-beautiful-festival-of-sibling-love.html

https://clockworkclouds.wordpress.com/2018/08/27/5945/

https://bootsshoesandfashion.com/a-visit-to-the-orla-kiely-exhibition/poster_2500_1

http://zooloobookblog.co.uk/bookreview-her-final-hour-bookouture/

https://www.mollytotoro.com/2018/08/the-artists-way-for-midlife-vitality/

https://thedarknetizen.wordpress.com/2018/08/26/flash-fiction-the-inn/

http://allthatjazmin.com/mental-health/getting-a-late-autism-diagnosis/

https://teaandcakeforthesoul.wordpress.com/2018/08/27/beware-of-the-trolls-poems-from-simply-modern-life-by-claire-baldry-bookexcerpt/

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https://www.funasagran.co.uk/2018/08/5-essentials-to-improve-your-pets-life.html

https://www.sizzlingtowardssixty.com.au/5-ways-to-start-appreciating-yourself-start-thriving/

As always , please share some love for these bloggers!

Have a great week,

Claire x

 

 

 

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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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

 

 

 

 

Book Blog Tour & Review: “When The Stars Come Out” by Laura Trentham

 

Review Tour

 

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

Blog Tour – for the latest in Laura Trentham’s Cottonbloom series 

I wonder if you remember my previous review of Laura Trentham’s book Leave The Night On in which we met the Abbott brothers?  Well this new contemporary romance in her Cottonbloom series follows the brothers again, focusing particularly on Jackson, twin of Wyatt who we met before.  The Abbott garage is in trouble, not least because eldest brother Ford has announced that he plans to sell his share and he has now disappeared.  The remaining three, Jackson, Wyatt and Mack have now idea where he is and no idea who the mystery buyer could be.

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Book review - Stars

 

Still employed at the garage is mechanic Willa, quietly and diligently working under the bonnets of cars and trucks, but hugging a multitude of secrets about her life and loves to her heart.  She doesn’t think that anyone notices her, with her home cut hair, charity shop clothes and beat up old car – and this is how she wants it.  She certainly doesn’t want Jackson to know how she feels about him.  But Willa hasn’t factored in that the Abbott boys are a close-knit family and do notice when someone they care about is in need.  Wyatt has had a few rough edges knocked off him since falling for Sutton Mize (see my last review!), and Mack has always looked out for Willa.  But it is Jackson who has started to notice Willa as a living and breathing woman, rather than just a mechanic and he wonders why she is living in a cold, damp caravan, driving a clapped out old car and failing to eat properly.  Don’t they pay her enough and why does she want cash only?

“I’ll have a pork plate and sweet tea to go.” Willa did a mental calculation for tax and
pulled out two fives. More than she should spend, but her stomach vetoed any protest. Now not only was she saving to fix her car, but she needed a cushion. If she had to move, money was a necessity. Any decent place required a deposit for rent. Not to mention utilities. And how long would it take her to find another job that didn’t require her Social Security number or real name? The thought made her stomach hurt from something other than hunger.
“Make that two for here, Rufus, and I’m buying.”
Willa spun around. Jackson Abbott’s chest filled her vision. The animal like noises her stomach was making must have drowned out his approach.
“Sure thing, Jackson.” Rufus favored them with a grin and turned to dole out barbeque, baked beans, and slaw. She tucked her hair behind her ear, feeling intensely vulnerable without her steel-toed work boots, coveralls, and ball cap. Her flip-flops, worn-out jeans with a rip at one knee, and a black T-shirt with the emblem of a band she’d never listened to were from the thrift shop down
the street.
“You don’t have to pay.” When she found her voice, it was breathy.
“I want to.” His words were low and rumbly and sexy, and she resisted the urge to lay her cheek against his chest, desperate to have someone, anyone, to lean on, even for a moment. Obviously, hunger was impeding her mental faculties.
In the two years she’d lived in Cottonbloom, she’d never run into Jackson outside of the garage. Her forays to secretly watch him race didn’t count since he’d never noticed her. The only place she was a regular was at the library, because it offered free Internet and entertainment—two things she couldn’t afford to waste money on.
Her mental faculties slipped further away as she allowed her gaze to wander over his shoulders before rising. He’d showered, his damp hair darker than its usual rich brown, but hadn’t shaved, his stubble even more pronounced from the afternoon. The scent of soap and clean laundry was mouthwatering in a different way than the barbeque was. The butterflies in her stomach did a slow bump and grind. God, she was hungry for so many things.

So begins the romance that forms the bedrock of the story, but it is by no means plain sailing.  Willa is a determined young lady who trusts no one and is living a life on the run – but what or whom is she running from? Her back-story winds through the book allowing us to watch a veneer of self-preservation to be chipped away as her confidence in those around her begins to grow.  She allows herself to form an attachment to a stray dog and this is when her true nature starts to shine through and little by little we learn just what Willa is running from and how much of this is herself.

Gracefulness

Jackson has his own demons to tackle, in the form of his absent brother and his estranged mother, who abandoned the family as children.  But we see him mellow as his feelings for Willa deepen and he realises that he can have what he sees his twin enjoying – that is a loving relationship.

This would not be a good contemporary romance if there were not some glamour and an opportunity for the hero to be dazzled by the hidden beauties of his new love.  Ms Trentham does not fail us, and with the help and friendship of Sutton, Willa allows herself to once again feel feminine and become the lovely young woman that is hiding beneath her greasy overalls.

not a car - Social Media

I think that if you enjoy a good romance, with some intrigue and some great characters then you will enjoy When The Stars Come Out.  It can be read as a stand-alone book, but I personally enjoy a series that is set around a town and which interlinks characters and plots from book to book – like large chapters of an overall novel.  This is an easy to read, light story that will brighten these cold, wet months at the start of the new year.  I am now looking forward to the next instalment – surely, we need a tale about the other Abbott brother, Mack! Please, Laura Trentham!!  Four stars from me.

Published: January 30th 2018 by St Martin’s Paperbacks

Book Links:

Goodreads

Amz: Amazon
BN: Barnes & Noble
iBooks: ibooks
Kobo: Kobo
GooglePlay: GooglePlay

Author biography:

An award-winning author, Laura Trentham was born and raised in a small town in
Tennessee. Although, she loved English and reading in high school, she was convinced an
English degree equated to starvation. She chose the next most logical major—Chemical
Engineering—and worked in a hard hat and steel toed boots for several years.
She writes sexy, small town contemporaries and smoking hot Regency historicals. KISS
ME THAT WAY, Cottonbloom Book 1, won the Stiletto Contest for Best Long Contemporary and finaled in the National Readers Choice Award. THEN HE KISSED ME, Cottonbloom Book 2, was named an Amazon Best Romance of 2016 and was a finalist for the National Excellence for Romance Fiction. TILL I KISSED YOU, Cottonbloom Book 3, is a finalist in the Maggie contest. LEAVE THE NIGHT ON, the latest Cottonbloom book, was named an iBooks Best Book of the Month and a Recommended Read from NPR.

When not lost in a cozy Southern town or Regency England, she’s shuttling kids to
soccer, helping with homework, and avoiding the Mt. Everest-sized pile of laundry that is almost as big as the to-be- read pile of books on her nightstand.

Link with Laura on Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLauraTrentham
Or join my reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1733284316920632/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LauraTrentham
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lauratrentham/
Sign up for my newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bwbOkD
Follow me on Bookbub for new release or sale announcements:
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/laura-trentham

 

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

This weekend has been one of Remembrance in so many places across the globe.  With Saturday being the 11th November, it was totally fitting that the Lord Mayor’s parade in the City of London started with the playing of the last post and a 2 minute silence.  In true UK style, the weather was miserable – I can’t remember the last time it was fair for the Lord Mayor’s show!!  Sunday however was a beautiful, crisp day as the veterans and current serving forces gathered alongside politicians, members of the public and the royal family for the service at the Cenotaph.  The oldest veteran attending, a 99 year old former Royal Marine Ernie Searling, sent a heartfelt message to the world – “I feel very humble seeing so many hundreds of men and women on the parade today. So very, very humble, particularly those who are not with us on this day today… All I hope is that the future generations could see this parade, see some solidarity in it. See that the betterment of mankind in England, especially Great Britain, should be at its highest level. We don’t want street fights. We don’t want arguments. We don’t want racial injustice. All those things are horrible!” He brought a tear to eyes in our lounge.

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Former Royal Marine Ernie Searling

Over the last week the BBC have been broadcasting a series of programmes celebrating and highlighting the roles women have played in war over the last one hundred years – Women at War 100 Years of Service.  – currently available on the iplayer.  It is difficult not to be inspired by the young women of the World Wars who were trailblazers for so many careers that women had previously not been able to undertake – and I would imagine that this is the case in other parts of the world when the men were on the front line.  Some of these women, now elderly ladies, recounted tales of their training and deployment – as radio operators, munitions workers, pilots and engineers. These women paved the way for both women in the forces and in the workplace generally.

My first inspiring blog for you today follows this theme and gives thanks on Remembrance Day – but the others have a mixture of themes from midlife crisis (me!!) to migraines to books & disability to Christmas baking & gifts!  Not on quite the same par as WW2, but I think that you will enjoy these inspiring posts and urge you to grab a drink, take a seat and enjoy.

https://butterflyinremission.wordpress.com/2017/11/10/with-heartfelt-thanks-on-remembrance-day/

https://www.shailajav.in/shifting-perspective-create-more-than-consume/

http://www.crestingthehill.com.au/2017/11/that-midlife-crisis.html

http://www.youcanalwaysstartnow.com/2015/06/01/success-who-gets-to-define-it/

https://brainlessblogger.net/2017/11/12/symptoms-of-a-migraine-that-can-be-as-severe-as-the-pain/

https://ginlemonade.wordpress.com/2017/11/03/3-books-3-blogs-from-gemma-at-wheelescapades/

http://drallisonbrown.com/power-perspective-shoe-fits-wear/

https://cookandenjoyrecipes.wordpress.com/2017/11/11/ess-gf-christmas-candy-cane-butter-biscuits/

gf-christmas-candy-cane-butter-biscuits

Image fro The Recipe Hunter

https://chronicrants.com/2017/11/01/defining-affordable/

https://theblogbroadblog.wordpress.com/2017/11/11/great-gifts-ideas-from-uncommon-goods/

As ever please share this post and these posts if you enjoy them!

love Claire x

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Monday Magic - Remembrance

 

 

 

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You

Welcome back to Pain Pals for what I hope will be a great week following a fantastic weekend! Those of you who have read my previous couple of posts will know that our lovely girl has her German exchange partner staying – an equally lovely young man of 15 and about 6 feet 3!!  We had a house full on the first night as we hosted all the English girls and German boys & girls to help break the ice; and then when hubby arrived home Saturday evening having collected from ice skating & bowling, I couldn’t help thinking “Bloody hell, my new car really is big” as the front door opened and a stream of teens came in.

There were 16 in total – and no it turns out that the car isn’t really a Tardis – but they were followed by a steady stream of takeaway deliveries from 5 outlets.  I can’t remember when, if ever our doorbell has rung so many times on a Saturday night! I just commented on an EDS Facebook group that a huge positive for us this week has been to see our normally angst ridden teen turn into a group organiser and hostess.  We had only been expecting 6 back on Saturday, but in order to avoid some breakdowns within the group our girl sorted them all (and took over our lounge ha, ha, ha) with tact and diplomacy to ensure everyone had a good evening.  Teenage relationships can be so tricky at the best of times, but throw in different languages, exchange partners paired who ordinarily wouldn’t be in the same friendship groups, one all girls school & one mixed sex, and the probability for issues is huge!  It has been interesting to see that the mixed sex pairings – like our lovely girl and lovely German boy – have been less problematic than the all girls – teenage girls and friendships equals another blog post entirely methinks!  The mixed sex group – 4 couples – went to Thorpe Park Fright Night on Friday and had a fantastic time. Not my cup of tea but they loved it.

IMG_3477As for me I am officially exhausted, typing one handed whilst in a sling again, but am officially one very proud mum having watched my girl blossom before my eyes.  Some might say turning into a chip off the old block – and even her eldest brother commented that the social awkwardness she professes to have is just not evident for the rest of us.  Today they have all gone to Brighton – the Pavilion, fish and chips, the beach and the lanes. Whilst the fatigue and dislocation have taken their toll, I have found some more fabulous blog posts for you to enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

So grab a cuppa, kick you heels up and sit back to read some fab pieces, all very different but all inspiring.  I particularly love the Lush products review from Katie Cupcake and the beautiful piece about friendship from Happiness and Food. Enjoy!

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Photo from Katie Cupcake Life With ME

 

https://fictionisfood.com/2017/10/14/thoughts-on-nannowrimo/#more-4179

https://www.sp-bx.com/rick-and-morty-season-3-review-the-best-season-so-far/

https://clockworkclouds.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/can-you-overthink-an-idea/

http://katiecupcakelifewithme.com/review-with-me/lush-karma-spa-treatment-event-review/

https://www.happinessandfood.com/name-happy/

https://zebratalez.com/2017/10/15/10-social-security-disability-tips/

http://invisiblenotbroken.com/blog/2017/10/4/best-podcasts-to-listen-to-when-stuck-in-bed-with-chronic-pain

http://withoutacrystalball.com/2017/10/12/day-found-family-chronically-ill/

http://www.healthyeatingexperts.com/holistic-therapist-kicked-depression-said-bye-bloat-chronic-digestive-issues-naturally/

https://livingwithme.blog/2017/10/12/all-time-low/

Please comment, share and spread some love for your fellow bloggers.

love Claire x

Monday Magic - Inspiring Blogs for You! (1)

 

 

#Blog Tour – How I Motivated Myself to Succeed by Shelley Wilson

Dream It, Live It, Become It

Disclaimer: I was fortunate to be given an ARC by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Blog Tour Banner for Shelley Wilson HIMMTS

I first met Shelley Wilson through the blogger community online and was soon following her on Twitter and her blog.  We also belong to a great Facebook group of bloggers who support and promote each other.  Now I must be honest and tell you that I haven’t read Shelley’s first book – yet – “How I Changed My Life in a Year”, but I do know that it was the precursor to this book and that she does refer to it throughout as one book describes the other.  So to put it simply we have “How I motivated myself to Succeed” in my challenge of “How I Changed My Life in a Year”.

Normally I would give a self-help book a wide berth, but I was intrigued by the concept of “How I Motivated Myself to Succeed” and wondered how it could apply to me.  My regular readers will know that my life has changed drastically due to health issues, and as a result I have started to write and connect with the chronic illness community.  I wondered if Shelley’s approach to motivation and success could be translated to something positive for those who are facing huge and often negative health issues.Motivation

This book is easy to read.  There are no difficult words, trendy psychobabble phrases or deep psychological discussions to dissect.  It really does do what it says on the tin – that is to describe Shelley’s personal journey to motivate herself to succeed.  I love the fact that she describes, in brutally honest detail, every little factor affecting her setting and then achieving her goals.  She describes how she learns – as a visual learner – and how preparing vision boards helps her to figure out what it is she wants to achieve.  But Shelley is not prescriptive in her approach and suggests that the reader may find other tools more helpful – she recognises that one size does not fit all.

Many of you will already be familiar with the use of acronyms in the workplace to motivate individuals, or within team building exercises or at a strategic planning level.  Shelley incorporates several acronyms – such as SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) DAD(Decision Action Determination) – along the way but does so in a very familiar and easy format that explains exactly how they can be used by ordinary people in day to day life.  I think that this is what I like most about Shelley’s book and her style of writing – she explains exactly how she personally set goals, undertook tasks and arranged her life to achieve her goals.  Now these goals may have included a mammoth one of writing a book, but equally she includes writing a meal plan for her family and encouraging her teens to tick of items on the household task list!

Shelley is a single mum who has run a holistic health business, but has also experienced her own major health problems which forced her to close her business.  I felt immediately drawn to this normal woman, living an ordinary life and I can identify with her.  Her descriptions of home and the teens made me laugh out loud – this lady knows how I live. If I can recognise myself and my friends in this writer, then I can definitely identify with her writing and her suggestions.

As someone who has been disabled with health problems, I accept that I am not going to set a goal to storm the workplace and become a tycoon as my body physically will not allow this.  But Shelley’s frank discussion about organisation, self-care and changing habits can be easily utilised by someone like me to both make the best of my situation, and to realise that I can still achieve something and flourish.  I love her section on decluttering – this covers both mind, surroundings (in my case home) and social media.  She writes about decluttering your Facebook & Twitter….it would never have occurred to me.

Whilst Shelley has written parts of this book with the twelve months from her first book in mind, and thus sets challenges across the year, she stresses, and I believe, that it is possible to use some of the tools over a shorter timescale or indeed for the longer term.  We talk about “pacing” in the chronic illness community and being “short on spoons”, and the second half of this book has so many good suggestions to plan and incorporate these needs with the goal to a success beyond our illness/limitations.  This might be writing a blog, visiting a friend or running an on line shop.

So before my review for this Blog Tour turns into a book, my conclusions!  If you are interested in reading a down to earth, personal experience of motivation and goal setting in order to succeed and achieve – then this is the book for you.  Nothing fancy, no psychobabble, pure sensible advice that we ordinary folk can use to flourish.

A fantastic four stars – please read Shelley’s guest post below!

Book review & blog tour

 

Guest Post From the Author, Shelley Wilson (@ShelleyWilson72) #BlogTour

 When my wonderful host, Claire, offered a spot on her blog for my book tour I was delighted. I’m ashamed to say that after writing a series of guest posts (seventeen in total!) my typing fingers are beginning to look like gnarled claws! Before they give out on my completely I wanted to take this opportunity to find just the right excerpt from my new release for Claire’s audience. I hope you like it.

 

Taken from How I Motivated Myself to Succeed:

When I began running my Motivate Me workshops, I used to leave a handout on all the chairs for the attendees to take away with them. It was my interpretation of motivation. I’d like to share this with you in the hope it resonates with what you are planning for yourself.

M = Mindfulness

O = Optimism

T = Trusting in the Process

I = Inner Wisdom

V = Validation

A = Activating Your Dreams

T = Thinking Outside the Box

E = Empowering Yourself

 

M is for being mindful and learning to be in the now. Slowing down and becoming aware of what your mind/body is telling you enables you to discover new opportunities and experiences. Try a five-minute meditation every morning or night.

O is for optimism. Start to look at your life through the eyes of a child, with innocence. See the simple things that can make a profound difference to your day/week/month, such as a smile, holding a door open, or paying someone a compliment. All these acts add to our well of optimism.

T is for trust. I’m not a life coach or a neuroscientist; I’m a single mum who turned her life around when she hit rock bottom. I had to trust that the lessons I’d learned were there for a reason. I believed that the universe could deliver, and more importantly, I began to trust myself that I could survive, make changes, and be the person I wanted to be.

I is for inner wisdom. You have the ability to change bad habits, to find happiness, and to love who you are. Sometimes you may forget that your inner wisdom exists. It’s always there, just beneath the surface, and it’s ready to provide you with the answers you long for. Using oracle cards can be the perfect way to tap into your inner wisdom.

V is for validation. For every issue you face, or problem you think you can’t handle, there are a hundred other women/men who have been through this and have come out at the other end. You can use their wisdom and experiences as a case study. Let those who have walked this path before you be a mentor, or join a support network, or social networking group. These are all ways to validate that you can get through anything. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You are not alone.

A is for activating your dreams. These are the action points you take to make things happen. By taking that first step, you begin a chain reaction that pulls your dream towards you and activates those wishes into becoming a reality. Without this stage you become stuck.

T is for thinking outside the box. Learning to change the way you think can have a profound impact on your life. When you are worried about an issue, stop for a moment and put yourself in the shoes of someone you admire, a strong person who never seems to be fazed by anything – what would they do? Come at your problems and fears from an alternative direction.

E is for empowerment. In today’s society, you have the opportunity to sign up to be a part of powerful social communities both online and in real life. A group of friends with similar interests and beliefs can be invaluable. At home, you may be part of a networking group or a slimming club; perhaps you’re a member of the Women’s Institute, a book club, or a regular coffee morning event. All of these groups empower you. Being around like-minded people, meeting new friends, and sharing that positive energy will feed your motivation to succeed, and will grow your desire to be the best you can be.

If we think about our resolutions, goals, or projects as one big jigsaw, then by collecting all the pieces and slotting them together we achieve success.

This was the final spot on my blog tour for How I Motivated Myself to Succeed, available now in paperback and eBook. Huge thanks to Claire, for allowing me to invade her beautiful blog and share the book love. I hope you enjoyed a brief glimpse into my book world.

 

If you would like to read more then take a look at her new release, How I Motivated Myself to Succeed, out now in paperback and eBook, and packed full of information on self-care, freeing yourself from fear, organising your life, and much more.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Find out more about Shelley on her author blog www.shelleywilsonauthor.com or via her personal development blog http://www.motivatemenow.co.uk.

 

She is also on Twitter,  Facebook and Instagram

 

Author Bio:

SONY DSCShelley is a multi-genre author of non-fiction self-help and young adult fantasy fiction. Her latest release, How I Motivated Myself to Succeed is being dubbed as the sequel-that’s-not-a-sequel to her bestselling book, How I Changed My Life in a Year. She writes a personal development blog (www.motivatemenow.co.uk) as well as an author blog (www.shelleywilsonauthor.com) where she shares book reviews, author interviews, and random musings about writing. Shelley was thrilled to win the Most Inspirational Blogger Award at the Bloggers Bash in 2016, and to scoop second place in the same category in 2017. She is a single mum to three teenagers and a black cat, loves pizza, vampires, and The Walking Dead, and has a slight obsession with list writing.

 

Book Review “The Girl at the End of the Road”

Disclaimer: I was fortunate to be given a copy of this book by The Book Club on Facebook in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Girl at the End of the Road by K A Hitchins

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Vincent has found himself in a situation that any self-respecting “City” boy would balk at.  He has lost his job, his rented home, possibly his high maintenance girlfriend and perhaps most humiliating of all, he is on his way home to his parents’ house in Suffolk.  Rural Suffolk.  At this point in his life, a decade or so after leaving school, he did not expect to find himself becoming reacquainted with his childhood bedroom or learning how to live with his loving, but in his eyes, staid middle aged parents.

But he is clear in his own mind that this is just a temporary glitch.  The downturn in the economy and his huge personal debts will not hold him back.  However adjusting to life in the rural village of Elmsford proves hard for Vincent, who assumes himself to be a city hotshot.  There is no immediate access to internet, the job offers that he expected to flood in are nowhere in sight and his social life is virtually non-existent – unless you count dog walks with his parents’ elderly dog.  A trip to the local library brings him face to face with a memory from the past in the shape of librarian Sarah Penny.  Having run into this old school friend once, he finds himself encountering her on dog walks and then actively seeking her out.

So begins what initially seems to be the most unlikely of friendships.  Sarah is the antithesis of friends who have featured in Vincent’s life as she is serious, quiet, slightly dowdy and happy to be in Suffolk.  She is certainly unlike the city girls who dress and make up to the nines, expecting champagne fuelled dates and expensive accessories.  Sarah, in her almost simplistic view of the world, makes Vincent accept some unpleasant truths about himself and his attitudes to life.

The story could be very clichéd, and at first Vincent is a pretty unlikeable character.  But it was with real interest that I watched his character evolve from spoilt young man to something altogether different.  Maybe there is an element of fairy tale to this, but as Vincent grows so does Sarah and the reader begins to have a glimpse into a simple world of an exceptional young lady.  I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I believe that there is enough already written about Sarah’s autism not to be giving anything away.  I am not autistic so do not pretend to have any inside knowledge about this complex condition.  But I do belong to a community of chronic illness sufferers, some of whom are on the autistic spectrum and I have recently read articles by author Laura James, who has autism and my own condition, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.  I feel that Sarah’s autism, which included her extraordinary intelligence, has been handled sensitively and with relevance to real life.  For instance, her coping mechanisms at dealing with life following her mother’s death and her growing relationship with Vincent.

This book made me think, made me sad and in parts made me laugh out loud.  Perhaps most importantly it made me examine my own attitudes to those we consider to be different to ourselves and also those closest to us.  In my disability chronic illness community we call ourselves “spoonies”, in the book Sarah and her friends call themselves “The Specials” – a fantastic name.  Of course there is a moral to the story for Vincent regarding what in life really makes you happy…..and sometimes you are unable to see it for trying too hard.

For me a great read, with a long review, but 5 stars all the way!