Because Of You by @Dawn_French #Paperback #BlogTour @MichaelJBooks #BecauseOfYou

The fabulous new release by the awesomeness that is Dawn French is now out in paperback!

Because of You

Because Of You by Dawn French

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock . . . midnight.
The old millennium turns into the new.
In the same hospital, two very different women give birth to two very similar daughters.
Hope leaves with a beautiful baby girl.
Anna leaves with empty arms.
Seventeen years later, the gods who keep watch over broken-hearted mothers wreak mighty revenge, and the truth starts rolling, terrible and deep, toward them all.
The power of mother-love will be tested to its limits.
Perhaps beyond . . .

I was honoured to receive an arc copy of this book, and my review follows.

I was extremely excited to be chosen to read an advanced copy of Dawn French’s new book, Because of You, having read all of her previous novels, and enjoyed them immensely.

The story centres around two women, due to give birth on New Year’s Eve/Day, 2000.
Anna, wife of wannabe politician Julian, and Hope, the girlfriend of gentle Isaac.
Tragedy surrounds both women, yet out of the despair, one baby, Minnie, emerges.

It took me a little while to really get into the book, but within a few pages, I was truly immersed in the story.
A story about mothers and daughters, and love that grows. How real relationships are formed. Matters of the heart.
Dawn French has created beautiful, rounded, characters, that cause you to either to care deeply about them, or want to throttle them (Julian, anyone?)
Every step of the way, I wondered when the truth would be exposed. I had an inkling, but I wasn’t sure.
The book is written from the point of view of Hope, Anna and Minnie, in turn, with snippets of Julian and Isaac too, giving you a complete picture of the thoughts of everyone throughout a surreal situation.
I don’t want to give too much away, but suffice to say, I had tears in my eyes by the end of the book. Absolutely wonderfully written.

Shh… It’s Our Secret by @Lizzie_Chantree #BlogTour

I am excited to be handing my blog over to the wonderfully talented Lizzie Chantree, today, to let you know about her new release!

Shh… It’s Our Secret, by Lizzie Chantree

Thank you for inviting me onto your beautiful blog today and for the amazing support of the
launch of my latest book!
Shh… It’s Our Secret, is about a shy woman called Violet, who is trying to silence her inner
critic and step out of the shadows. Her best friends and sister support her, but she feels like
they don’t see the real her, or understand that she has ambitions of her own and skills that
could help them all.
To them, she is reliable, slightly dull and not very talented, but she is hiding a secret that
could blow this theory sky high. Violet will have to eliminate old demons, learn to stand up
for herself and show the world who she really is.

Book Blurb:
Violet has a secret that could change the lives of everyone she knows and loves, especially
the regulars at the run-down café bar where she works. After losing her parents at a young
age, they are the closest thing she has to a family and she feels responsible for them.
Kai is a jaded music producer who has just moved outside of town. Seeking solitude from
the stress of his job, he’s looking for seclusion. The only problem is he can’t seem to escape
the band members and songwriters who keep showing up at his house.
When Kai wanders into the bar and Violet’s life, he accidently discovers her closely guarded
secret. Can Kai help her rediscover her self-confidence or should some secrets remain
undiscovered?\

I was honoured to read an arc of the book, and I really enjoyed it! Here’s my review.

Shh… It’s Our Secret by Lizzie Chantree
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Shh… Can I tell you a secret?
I finished this in a day!
I have read several of Lizzie Chantree’s books already, she is an extremely versatile author, and this book is another little gem in her book jewels.
Violet loves to sing. She has since she was young, but the joy of singing ends when her parents pass away.
Since then, she’s hidden her talent, singing in secret, and succumbed to an awful relationship. The only silver lining in the cloud that is her life is the cafe she works at, and the family she has built from her regular customers.
Life takes a huge turn when music producer Kai walks into the cafe and hears her voice.
All in all, an enjoyable read, quick and easy, and the happy ending we all want!
Many thanks to NetGalley and BHC Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Purchase here.

International bestselling author and award-winning inventor, Lizzie
Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of
Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the
Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children
were little and now works as a business mentor and runs a popular
networking hour on social media, where creatives can support to each
other. She writes books full of friendship and laughter, that are about
women with unusual and adventurous businesses, who are far stronger
than they realise. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex. Visit her
website at http://www.lizziechantree.com or follow her on Twitter
@Lizzie_Chantree https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree.
Short bio:
International bestselling author Lizzie Chantree, started her own business
at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent
Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year. She writes books full of
friendship and laughter, about women with unusual businesses, who are
stronger than they realise.

Book links: Lizzie Chantree.
Universal book buy link: The little ice cream shop: viewbook.at/IceCreamShopByTheSea
Universal book buy link: Networking for writers: viewbook.at/NetworkingForWriters
Universal book buy link: If you love me, I’m yours: viewbook.at/IfYouLoveMe-ImYours
Universal book buy link: Ninja School Mum: viewBook.at/NinjaSchoolMum
Universal book buy link: Babe Driven: viewbook.at/BabeDriven
Universal book buy link: Love’s Child: viewBook.at/Amazon-LovesChild
Universal book buy link: Finding Gina: viewbook.at/FindingGina
Universal link: Shh… It’s Our Secret: mybook.to/ItsOurSecret

Social media links:
Website: www.lizziechantree.com
Author page: https://www.viewAuthor.at/LizzieChantree
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LizzieChantree/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7391757.Lizzie_Chantree
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lizzie_chantree/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/LizzieChantree/pins/
FB Groups: https://www.facebook.com/groups/647115202160536/
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/lizzie-chantree
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/lizziechantreeauthor
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCop-RlAcGqggZG3JfE-Mw

April 2021 Books #AmReading

So, last month I went ARC mad and read quite a few from my list, hoping to lessen it… then over the month, I managed to amass the same amount again in new arcs! So, I will try and mix up arc and TBR list reading, this month. the first two weeks I am on holiday so I hope to get a bit read, then!

Clientmoji
The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday

The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday by Kiley Dunbar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A holiday that involves books, a bookshop, baking, a dog and a hunk? What’s not to love?
Jude’s life revolves around her family, caring for her grandmother, and pottering around, helping her parents in the family bakery business, alongside completing her English degree part-time. Books are her faithful friends throughout her life.
When her forbidden romance, ends badly, along with finding out her parents are shutting up shop, and her gran wants to move to a retirement village, she’s at a loss as to what to do, until an email arrives, confirming a booking Jude and her then-boyfriend had made for a two week holiday, running a bookshop and a cafe in a small village in Devon.
She arrives, after being forced by her parents and best friend to take the break, hoping for a fortnight of solitude, books and baking, and is rudely awakened on her first night by an intruder.
I won’t go into more detail, other than to say that the intruder ends up being hot, and the bookstore comes with a mangy mutt, who both end up stealing the reader’s heart.
Jude is a character who has such low self-esteem and feels like she doesn’t have a real place in the world, and this story gives her a chance to grow into herself, and find the life she always wanted.
Elliott – that’s the intruder – well, he’s just a fab character, all big and brooding, but gentle and kind, too, and he’s an animal lover. Oh, and he has a bit of a past that he’s trying to get away from.
Aldous, the dog, oh, what a star! I loved his connection with the bookshop, and wished I could be the one to coax him out of his grief and stupor!
And all the characters in the fictitious village of Clove Lore, from Mrs C and her ‘book’ filled with bets on who will get together and stay in the village, to Minty, owner of the Estate, who has her suspicions about Elliot and why he’s here.
A wonderful, sweet, feel-good read. And if you, like me, are someone who doesn’t get along with maths, you’ll relish this story all the more!
When I heard about Kiley Dunbar’s latest book, I eagerly awaited the release date and was honoured to be approved to read an arc, as I have loved all of Kiley’s previous releases.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hera Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 5th May, 2021

When I Last Saw You

When I Last Saw You by Bette Lee Crosby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a touching tale, based upon truths that are a part of author Bette Lee Crosby’s own history.
Margaret is grieving. Her husband of fifty years passes on, leaving her alone, aside from her housekeeper, cleaner and friend, Jean.
No family to speak of, no children, Margaret is at a loss.
She happens upon a stack of paperwork when clearing out her deceased husband’s desk that leads her on a voyage of discovery, where she ends up with a lot more family than she ever thought possible.
Based partially in the early 1900s and the 1960s, the story is told of Margaret’s journey to reunite herself with the family she thought she had lost, and the story of her mother, Eliza, a woman whose children meant more to her than the world, and how they go from being a family to being spread around the country, estranged from one another.
A heartwrenching read, I’d recommend to all.

Releasing 4th May, 2021

The Summer Seekers

The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I see Sarah Morgan, my first thought is Christmas stories, because she writes such amazingly memorable ones. I know there are others, but that is the genre that sticks in my mind.
Having said that, seeing The Summer Seekers blurb whet my appetite for another cracker of a story.
It seems to be a common theme in recent books I have read, for the story to be set around a road trip, this was the third in as many weeks that I read.
Kathleen is an eighty-year-old woman, living alone, fiercely independent, but afraid of what impending age will do to her life.
Liza, Kathleen’s daughter wants only the best for her mother. She spent her childhood watching her whirlwind of a mother, taking off to all sorts of glamorous locations as the host of a famous travel show, with little time for her, She has spent her adulthood determined to be more like the mother she wished she had, there, always, for her twin girls and husband, Sean, but that life begins to take its toll.
A chance encounter featuring an intruder, a skillet, the police and a head injury, fires up the urge for Kathleen to take one last trip of a lifetime. She’s always wanted to travel Route 66, but, rather like the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow, there is something important she knows she might find at the end of the trip, only she’s not so sure if she wants to find it.
However, driving over two thousand miles alone at eighty is probably not a good idea, and there is no way she wants to take this trip with her daughter.
Cue Martha, a mid-twenties woman with nothing to lose. An incomplete education, failed marriage and family disapproval behind her, the intrigue of an advert, requiring someone to drive, on an all-expenses-paid trip, spurs her on to take a step in a direction she has never considered before.
A wonderful premise for a story filled with so much, from realisation, to love, new beginnings to happy endings; it’s all there and written in a way that has you falling in love with all the characters, and the places they visit, too.
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 27th May, 2021

Duvet Day

Duvet Day by Emily Kerr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a fantastic feel-good read!
Alexa Humphries is a young lawyer who is feeling the grind. Daily, she is pouring her heart and soul into her job, which leaves little time for her life. (And I know this is a reality, as my own solicitor emailed me last night past 11 pm, and I wanted to tell her off for still working!)
That morning arrives when it all becomes too much, and after much deliberation, she takes her brother’s advice and calls in sick… Duvet Day!
It would, ordinarily, be a simple thing, call in, make excuses, then settle down for a day filled with series binges, comfort eating, and relaxing.
Simple, if you didn’t live in a houseshare with one of your lawyer colleagues, who needs to learn a little about sympathy, and another mystery housemate who has never introduced herself.
Hilarity ensues, as, cosied up in her Unicorn onesie and teddy bear fluffy slippers, Alexa finds herself locked out of the house, after making the (bad) decision to answer the door for a delivery, addressed to her unknown housemate.
Oh, what a giggle, from start to finish!
I really felt for Alexa, being in a job that can drain everything from you, myself. The thought of a duvet day would buoy me up, too, but equally, fill me with dread about what I’d backlog of work I’d encounter when I got back to work.
Poor Alexa has her heart in the right place, and all she wants is the best for the world, to make a difference.
I’m sure she wasn’t ever expecting to make that difference, dressed up as a unicorn, though!
I won’t spoil the story for you, but it’s a wonderful read, and yes, there is definitely a slow simmering romance, which takes the whole book to begin to boil, but, when you think about it, it’s all rather fast, since the book takes place over the course of one day!
Fantastic!
Many thanks to NetGalley, Harper Collins and One More Chapter, for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion

Releasing 27th May, 2021

Just a Boy Friend

Just a Boy Friend by Lucy Keeling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Do you ever have those moments when you read a book that has been sitting on your TBR for a while, and then you kick yourself for not having read it earlier?
Well, I had that revelation as I became more and more engrossed in this wonderful debut by Lucy Keeling.
I have been following her progress for a while, but, ashamedly I hadn’t managed to read one of her books.
Knowing that book 3 (yes, three, that means I still have another to catch up on!) comes out in less than a week, I felt I simply had to get caught up on the Friends series (not the TV one, obvs!) and so I did.
I must add, as an aside, that Lucy’s book came at a time I really needed something to keep my spirits high, put a smile on my face, and generally help me feel good.
And Just A Boyfriend did exactly that!
Sophie is a wannabe social media influencer. She’s got her five-year plan, and, as long as she sticks to what she has mapped out, she’ll be a wannabe no longer, but, the thing is, her plans don’t really involve life in it, as well.
Because, other than work, there is a whole host of other entities that can affect your future plans, including your friends, family, kittens, and men. Specifically, romance with said men.
Romance is a no-no, right now. She has no time for it. But why do feelings keep creeping up on her?
Especially for a certain male who happens to be the brother of one of her best friends?
Such a fun story, with plenty of laugh out loud moments, and cringe factors, where I buried my head in my hands, peeking out that the words that followed, in case that awful thing I thought might happen actually did…
Sophie is surrounded by a fantastic supporting cast, including Paige, her friend and employer, as well as a new foster mum for four gorgeous kittens, Mya, another friend, from uni, as well as her landlady, a woman with a few mysteries of her own, and Polly, Sophie’s childhood best friend, who also happens to be the one with the hot bro!
Marcus, (said hot bro), is a gardener and oh, he is such a cute character! With strong feelings already attached to his sister’s best mate, he takes on a job, landscaping her garden, not knowing whether he will be able to face Sophie every day.
Oh, I really did love it! Sweet, sexy and sassy, all rolled into one story, and I am so excited to dive into the next one, to find out what is in store for Polly!

Just Friends

Just Friends by Lucy Keeling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just Friends centres on a different one of the group of friends we met in Just A Boyfriend, Lucy Keeling’s debut novel.
This time we become more intimate with Polly, sister of Marcus, who was the hero du jour in book one.
Polly’s got some unprocessed feelings for a certain gardener, who also happens to be her brother’s best friend, but the player that he is, she can’t trust herself to get too close, so she settles for an office romance that seems to be safe. Oh, and she’s got another secret passion that no one knows about.
Bailey’s got issues. He’s harbouring a huge crush, bordering on unrequited love, for his best mate’s sister. But she hasn’t a clue, and she’s also in a new relationship. And, to add icing to his issue cake, his mum is ill. Really ill. And all she wants is to see him happy and settled.
What ensues is a brilliant story, filled with will they, won’t they moments, amidst the planning of a huge wedding, (not theirs!) and a ton of sexual chemistry!
I love Bailey, he’s giving out Jason Momoa vibes… Polly, I just wanted to scream at her to TELL HIM HOW SHE FEELS!
Eager to get into book two, I pretty much devoured this in a day!
Oh, Lucy, you have created such a great cast of characters, here. I loved each moment. And with that ending, now I HAVE to read the next one as soon as it is out!
Good thing I only have two days to wait!

Just Friends in Vegas

Just Friends in Vegas by Lucy Keeling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, such fun!
I read the previous two books, last week, in anticipation of this third coming out, and I was not disappointed in the least!
Mya has always been the mysterious one, out of these four friends, even though Paige appears to have some sort of psychic talent. We’ve been led through the first two books, with no inkling as to what her secret job is, but now, we finally find out.
I won’t spell it out, since you need to read the book to get your own confirmation, but I had an idea…
Finding herself at her next ‘job’, Mya is faced with a rival she’d rather not be dealing with,
Smithy.
A friend of her best friend, Sophie’s husband, hot as hell, and a past conquest Mya would rather forget, especially as she didn’t do ‘that’ twice, with anyone.
But it’s hard to get your heart and mind on one track, sometimes.
Smithy is the same, battling feelings he’d rather not experience towards this sexy woman, who holds some sort of power over him.
I’ve never been to Vegas, but I tell you what, I really want to go, now, to experience some of what these two got up to, even though I know artistic license has been applied!
It is great to see a POC main character, with her ethnicity not thrown in your face all the time. Mya may be of Indian heritage but she just proves that women are all the same, really, and can experience the same as any other woman out there. (Heck, her heritage may have just made her even hotter, but then as an Indian woman, myself, I might be biased!)
Another cracker of a book, read with ease and speed. So fast that I need the next one, so I know what Paige is up to, too! Come on Ms Keeling, we’re waiting!

Summer at the French Olive Grove

Summer at the French Olive Grove by Sophie Claire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my first Sophie Claire book, and I was not disappointed, at all.
Lily has been transported back to her grandmother’s home to recuperate, after a nasty accident during work.
Back to where she spent idyllic childhood times before her world crumbled around her.
But not a place she calls home, herself.
Though they say home is where the heart is, and her heart seems to be pining for someone, equally attached to that same place.
Olivier grew up with Lily. Craving a family of his own, and that anchor that makes you feel at home, he is constantly pulled back to where his parents live, despite being a successful baker in Paris, with a chain of bakeries.
This was a love story, but not as traditional as some. It involved a whole lot of accepting yourself, and self-love, as well as the romantic kind.
Lily is a character damaged, physically and emotionally by the events of her past.
Olivier’s own experiences growing up and coping with knowing no one was really ‘his’, shape him to be the man he is today, and the dreams he holds for the future.
And then we have Mamie. Lily’s grandmother. She is an anchor for both these lost souls and wants to use her power over them to protect them in a way only she knows how.
A beautiful story, a compelling read and definitely recommended.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 27th May, 2021

Both of You

Both of You by Adele Parks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I do enjoy a good Adele Parks book, so was thrilled to get my hands on a copy of Both Of Them, a psychological thriller that sounded intriguing.
Two women, two disappearances, two husbands confused.
Leigh Fletcher is a happy woman, step-mum to two lovely boys and wife to a gorgeous husband. Do they have ups and downs? Sure they do. But nothing major.
Kai Janssen is another blissfully happy woman. Married to a rich man who desires her completely, and surrounded by luxury, she wants for nothing.
Then one day, they both disappear.
The story follows the mysterious disappearance of both women, told from the viewpoints of various characters from the book, including both husbands, Leigh’s eldest stepson, the investigating DC, and her best friend Fiona. Information is drip-fed in a way that makes you want to keep turning the pages until you find out what has happened to them both.
I can’t really say much more, because I don’t want to give anything away, but once you get into it, this book is extremely hard to put down again.
Did I guess what the ending would be? Well, I’d be lying if I said yes, straight out. I had my suspicions, then they got sent awry as I was led down other paths…
Very good.
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 27th May, 2021

Waiting to Begin

Waiting to Begin by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Waiting To Begin is the story of a woman, Bessie, but told on two simultaneous days, her birthday, but thirty-seven years apart.
At sixteen, Bess thinks she has it all. Her results are out today, her future is all but planned out, she just needs those results to get where she wants. Bess’s family is your usual type, a caring, but an annoying set of parents and an older brother who is just – urgh! She’s got a tentative boyfriend and dreams of their life together
Thirty-seven years later, Bess is content. Well, on the surface, anyway. Nothing quite panned out how she hoped, but she’s not unhappy with her life. A doting husband, two great kids, one of them married, their own home. But, there are still gaping holes in her life. There are still secrets that are eating away at her, affecting everything she does, though no one else knows.
Not wanting to give the story away, I will comment on the essence.
Decisions we make, flippantly, can have huge effects on our life. The need to be keeping up with the rest of the world can eat away at you, making you do things you might not have, otherwise.
My heart filled with pity for teenage Bess. I wanted to scoop her up into a hug, and tell her everything will be okay. I will admit to wanting to physically harm a certain young man, too,
The same sorrow was felt for older Bess, who is sifting through her life decisions, not sure whether to rock the boat, but finding herself in a situation where she has no choice.
An emotional story that will definitely tug, hard, at your heartstrings.
When Waiting To Begin flashed up as another new book to come, by Amanda Prowse, I jumped at the chance to read, because she is my all-time favourite author.
Her stories never fail to touch the heart, and the way she tells them leaves you emotional for a long time to come,
Many thanks to NetGalley, Amazon Publishing and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 8th June, 2021

The Wedding War

The Wedding War by Liz Talley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What happens when two best friends lose each other, because of a man, and then, many years later, get thrown together to plan a wedding… for their children?
This is exactly what happens to Tennyson and Melanie.
Both from two very different backgrounds, but at the same school, they form a firm friendship, promising to be there for each other, forever.
Then life happens, and love happens, and men, or rather, man, happens.
This story was written cleverly, interweaving the story from the past in with the present day, when two almost sworn enemies have to face each other with smiles, when their children fall in love.
Enjoyable read.

Adulting

Adulting by Liz Talley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another really great read from Liz Talley.
Chase London is a child star, thrown into fame’s spotlights from a young age, but, as is the story for many, the fame doesn’t translate as well as an adult.
Battling addiction, rehab, and a failing career, she ends up in the hands of therapist, Olivia Han, who’s been hired to straighten her out and get her ready for her next role.
They end up in a small wooden cabin, inherited by Olivia and her sister, Neve, as an opportunity for Chase to learn how to Adult – something she has never been taught to do. Simple tasks, such as grocery shopping, clearing leaves from a garden as well as the simple pleasures of eating a candy apple or going fishing.
On the surface, it seems like a straightforward story of spoilt rich kid needs bringing down a peg or two, but quite quickly, the story shows the depth of trauma that Chase has suffered over the years; something quite tangled for Olivia to unpick.
Beyond that, the treatment ends up being a time of reflection for Olivia, as well, facing some disturbing truths from her own life, building bridges and burning some, too.
Of course, there is the element of relationships, too.
Olivia is avoiding her supposed ‘soulmate’, and Chase has never really thought about the future, and who might be her ‘one’.
A touching book, with some moments to make you smile, but equally, some distressing moments, with talks of child abuse, but handled sensitively.

So, I ended up finishing twelve books, in April. Not too shabby, considering all I have going on with life!

Was there anything above that caught your eye? Tickled your fancy? Let me know in the comments!

I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading and enjoying, too!

A Fear Of Heights by Jim Webster #BlogTour

That extremely talented Jim Webster has another release coming up, and has kindly written a story for us here on But I Smile Anyway!

Smallfield, Frederick; The Ringers of Launcells Tower; Royal Institution of Cornwall; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-ringers-of-launcells-tower-14469

The Bells!

I have mentioned before that here at the Shrine of Aea in her Aspect as the
Personification of Tempered Enthusiasm we have had trouble with bell
ringers. Once you are known to have bells, bell ringers will descend on you
from all over the place, desperate to play a ‘new peal’. If you are not firm
you can be overrun with them. Now I wouldn’t personally describe them as
‘vermin’ but in all candour I have known some use stronger terms. Especially
when kept awake at night by an attempt to play out a full peal with all the
changes.
I am not sure how other shrines manage the problem. There are doubtless many
winning strategies, but my suspicion is that all will revolve around the
need to ‘domesticate’ the bell ringers you have. ‘Your’ bell ringers appear
to adopt a possessive attitude to ‘their’ bells, and will work to control
interlopers. The most important person in this regard can go under a number
of names. I’ve come across Tower Captains, Ringing Masters, and Tower
Leaders. If you get a good one, cherish them.
Now I cannot judge this select few from the point of view of an ordinary
bell ringer. Similarly I have no opinion on how they maintain order in their
campanological swarm. I have heard rumours that some achieve their position
of dominance through divide and rule. They maintain order by playing various
cliques against each other, achieving harmony through division. Others I
have seen strike me as avuncular types. By being everybody’s favourite
uncle, aunt, or kin of similar standing, they keep their musicians in order.
This can involve keeping their bell ringers fortified with everything from
strong liquor through to cake. Whether one is more effective than the other
I cannot really comment although it has been pointed out to me that the camp
of bell ringers fortified with strong drink tends to pull with more vigour
than niceness of timing and the results are discernible to the cognoscenti.
On the other hand I’ve even heard of Tower Captains who rule through fear,
maintaining the firmest discipline and perfect order.
Yet, between ourselves, when one hears the mathematically wrought cacophony
produced, even the most discerning listener struggles to tell the difference
between the differing leadership styles.
Now lest people think that I am disparaging campanology, I will state that I
rather like the sound of bells. As I sit in thought on the barge, pondering
a verse, the sound of a distant peal can even be helpful. Ringing out across
the city in a measured manner it weaves music into the very fabric of the
municipality. I am not too proud to state that the bells have, on occasion,
inspired some of my finer verse.
So my advice to the temple wardens of other shrines that happen to possess
bells is to find a competent Tower Captain who you can work with, and
domesticate them. Admittedly this domestication is an uncertain process.
I’ve known temple wardens who approached the matter methodically. They felt
you had to use both carrot and stick. I know in one case where the tower
captain and his camp of ringers were asked to play for a wedding. Apparently
the bride felt it would be romantic. To be fair to the young lady in
question, up unto a point, she was right. The point was when it became
obvious that to the ringers, their appointment to ring to introduce a
touching service lasting barely half an hour, was merely an excuse to ring a
full peal lasting at least three hours. In this case, a nameless lady temple
warden handed the bride’s mother a horse whip, opened the door to the
ringing loft and let the furious lady have at them. Apparently she cleared
the loft in less than a minute, and was greeted with a standing ovation from
the wedding guests when she returned to her seat.
But it is often said that wild creatures are better tamed with kindness. It
could well be that the truculent demeanour of the senior temple warden
induces a healthy respect within the camp. Should another temple warden then
make positive comments, arrange for bottles of beer of dubious provenance to
be provided to quench the thirst of the ringers, and generally become their
friend, there appear to be no limits to the cooperation that can be
achieved. In all honesty it has occurred to me that this is why shrines have
even numbers of temple wardens. It allows you to have both the cantankerous
grouch and the genial acquaintance on hand and you can deploy whichever
seems appropriate.
But once you have domesticated your tower captain, then cherish them. Do
not, under any circumstances, have anything to do with the lesser lights
within the camp. Otherwise you will get drawn in to all sorts of internecine
strife and conflict as factions rise and fall and attempt to bring down the
tower captain in the process. I well remember when one bell ringer, aspiring
to displace her tower captain by guile, told Maljie that it had been decided
to change the practice night. Maljie merely looked at her and commented that
she was used to discussing policy with the organ grinder, not some small and
only sporadically continent ape kept to please the crowd.
Now it may be that you lack Maljie’s personal presence. This is not to be
wondered at. Reputations have to be built up over the years, nurtured like
some delicate potted plant. But even Maljie had to start somewhere, even if
none of us are quite sure when. So when dealing with bell ringers (or other
wandering undesirables such as archhierophants or those creatures who dwell
deep in the property department of the Office of the Combined Hierophants of
Aea) decide on your approach and stick to it. In forty years’ time you will
thank me. 
Still I seem to have drifted from the topic. Cherishing your tower captain.
The problem with these otherwise splendid figures is that they lack
permanence. Whether they are overthrown and devoured by their camp, abscond
with the funds or flee in the arms of a lover (I confess I’ve never really
understood that latter allusion. Surely you must flee faster if not
embracing? Or perhaps you hand the technicalities of flight over to your
coachman and thus embrace in the coach as it hurtles through the night?) you
will lose one captain and will be forced to acquire another.
My personal preference is to allow the camp to bring forward a leader from
within their ranks. But beware, out there in the dark there are ‘tower
leaders’ who lack both tower and camp. They are drawn inexorably to a tower
with no tower leader and will attempt to inveigle themselves into a position
of control. Under these circumstances there is no point in being avuncular,
reasonable or open to discussion.
For the lesser temple warden there is only one recourse. Memorise the line,
“Ah, but you don’t want to talk to me, you need to discuss this matter with
the incumbent.”
That is all you need to say.
Now when it comes to the incumbent, they too have no need to worry about
these matters. They merely need to say, “Ah, that’s a temple warden matter.
You need to take it up with Maljie.”
At the last count, of four who were directed to Maljie, three abandoned
their quest then and there. With regard to the fourth, there are mendicants
who are willing to swear in a court of law that they saw that individual
leave the shrine carrying his head under his arm.

And now a brief note from Jim Webster. It’s really just to inform you that
I’ve just published a full Tallis Steelyard novel. Yes the rumours are true.
Tallis Steelyard, the man who considered jotting down a couple of anecdotes
to be ridiculously hard work, and considered the novella form to be the very
pinnacle of literary labour, has been cozened into producing a novel.

It is, ‘Tallis Steelyard. A Fear of Heights.’

In this novel, recounted by Tallis Steelyard in his own inimitable manner,
we discover what happens when the hierarchy plots to take control of the
Shrine to Aea in her Aspect as the Personification of Tempered Enthusiasm.
Will the incumbent be exiled to a minor fane in the far north? Will Tallis
end up having to do a proper job? Does ordination and elevation beckon for
Maljie?
This story includes the Idiosyncratic Diaconate, night soil carts,
Partannese bandit chieftains, a stylite, a large dog and some over-spiced
food. On top of this we have not one but two Autocephalous Patriarchs and a
theologically sanctioned beggar.

Available both for kindle and in Paperback.

March 2021 Books #AmReading

It’s a month of ARC catch up, so I haven’t given myself an author or series challenge this month, but that doesn’t mean I’ll change my mind part way through! It’s the month that the kids are coming back in to school, too, so there will be a lot going on, but you know me, I’ll keep reading!

And, FYI, over the month, I may have read plenty of arcs, but I somehow ended up with more on my list, because, Damn You, NetGalley, you keep tempting me!

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Finding Home

Finding Home by Kate Field
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When you’re trying to find your comfortable spot, in your car, to get a bit of sleep, the last thing you expect is, to have an older, well-to-do couple, quite obviously from much further afield, come knocking on your car window.
This is exactly what happens to down on her luck Mim.
Alone in this world, with not a job, nor a roof over her head, Mim decides to help this rather eccentric couple in their hour of need and ends up transferring her whole life from Lancashire to Devon.
Not only that, she ends up belonging.
A wonderful feel-good story with a few predictable storylines, but many love twists, and moments that make you trust humankind again.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Harper Collins and One More Chapter for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 16th April, 2021

Last Night

Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another Mhairi McFarlane smash.
A story about friendship, trust and honesty.
Eve is one of the lucky ones. friendship wise. She has her quartet of friends, who have been together for nearly twenty years. Her best friend since forever, Susie, and Justin and Ed, who made up the foursome at Sixth Form.
There’s just one little fly in the ointment. She has a HUGE thing for Ed.
An unrequited love, of sorts, especially since he is in a long term relationship with someone Eve really doesn’t like.
Things happen on that one night, after the regular quiz night, they usually attend, including an impromptu engagement, which spins Eve out of control.
But, it’s the phone call the next morning that tears Eve’s life apart, and the consequences of a tragic accident that force her to look at her feelings, and relationships in a whole new light.
I absolutely loved it!
It just goes to show that you never really know someone, or that you can’t know everything. Equally, there are reasons you shouldn’t know everything.
This story explores relationships and friendships at a deep level.
I sympathised with Eve, a lot, throughout the book. She seemed to have far more than her fair share of heartache chucked her way, in life, but still, she had so much to give, and in losing someone she held so dear, she still manages to rescue and find someone else.
Many thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 1st April, 2021

Shh… It's Our Secret

Shh… It’s Our Secret by Lizzie Chantree
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Shh… Can I tell you a secret?
I finished this in a day!
I have read several of Lizzie Chantree’s books already, she is an extremely versatile author, and this book is another little gem in her book jewels.
Violet loves to sing. She has since she was young, but the joy of singing ends when her parents pass away.
Since then, she’s hidden her talent, singing in secret, and succumbed to an awful relationship. The only silver lining in the cloud that is her life is the cafe she works at, and the family she has built from her regular customers.
Life takes a huge turn when music producer Kai walks into the cafe and hears her voice.
All in all, an enjoyable read, quick and easy, and the happy ending we all want!
Many thanks to NetGalley and BHC Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 6th May, 2021

Lost Property

Lost Property by Helen Paris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not sure what I was expecting from this book, but it wasn’t what it was.
Maybe I expected a more light-hearted story, but it ended up being more about grief, loss, and being lost.
Dot works in the lost property section of the TfL department and takes her role of taking in lost items, logging them, and reuniting them with their owners very seriously.
I initially found it quite hard to get into this book, enjoying the quirky characters who frequented the Lost Property department, and Dot’s colleagues, but the point of the story didn’t quite get me until quite far into the book.
Dot is lost, herself. A sad character. But it took me a long time to build that empathy for her.
And the tiny smidgen of romance at the end? Well, to be honest, I wish I’d been able to read a bit more of that, to be honest.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 13th May, 2021

The Road Trip

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having read Beth O’Leary’s previous book, I was extremely excited to be granted a copy of The Road Trip to read, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Addie and her sister Deb are en route to their great friend Cherrys wedding. It’s all set to be a fantastic road trip. Well, them, and Rodney, a stray wedding guest they managed to pick up. Then an accident occurs leaving them in a situation where they are forced to make an eight-hour road trip with not only Rodney, but two other guests, one of which happens to be Addie’s ex-boyfriend.
What a bunch of characters, O’Leary has created!
I loved the dual timeline, explaining how they got into the situation they are in right now, parallel to the eight-hour journey that ends up being over twenty-four hours long.
Addie is a young, wronged woman, and almost all that has happened to her is not her fault.
Dylan is a man who has never had to make a choice, and, unfortunately for him, everyone around him has a stronger will than him, causing him to never really fight for what he should.
Deb is a fantastic sister, and protector, apart from when she disappears to satisfy certain thirsts.
I could strangle his best friend, Marcus. Honestly, that long, stuck in a car, a Mini, of all cars, with him would have driven me batty!
And Rodney, oh, poor, deluded Rodney!
And I can’t forget the saviour of the day, Kevin, the truck driver who seems to appear whenever there is a problem.
There are moments of hilarity, but a lot to think on, too. A thoroughly enjoyable book that I finished in a day!
Many thanks to Netgalley and Quercus Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 29th April, 2021

The Secret Bridesmaid

The Secret Bridesmaid by Katy Birchall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a fabulous book!
Honestly, I was hooked from the start and had I not been in the midst of a week from hell at school resulting in me falling asleep way too fast, I would have finished this in one sitting!
Sophie has found herself the perfect job – a professional bridesmaid. Each wedding she cultivates a secret identity and pretends to be a close friend of the bride, who will have hired her to make their special day perfect, under the guise of a best friend bridesmaid.
It’s all going swimmingly, until she ends up with a job she never thought she would, ever, be considered for: Bridesmaid to Lady Cordelia Swann, a socialite Sophie followed and tried to emulate, as a teen.
But this is one tough cookie of a client, determined to relieve herself of this new ‘friend’.
Oh, and it doesn’t help that she has a HOT brother who doesn’t know her real identity, but is keen to get closer to his sister’s ‘friend’.
I can’t explain how much I enjoyed the whole book. Sophie is an interesting character, who puts the needs of others way ahead of her own. A great quality in a bridesmaid, but not so great for herself.
Cordelia is a character you probably want to slap initially, but she grows on you, then you find yourself with. soft spot for her.
And Tom, the HOT brother? Well, I think I’ll be surreptitiously checking out men’s forearms more often, now, thanks to Sophie’s obsession with his.
Highly recommended, and such fun!
Many thanks to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 13th May, 2021

Another Life

Another Life by Jodie Chapman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another Life is a heartwrenching story about love. Not just romantic love, but the love we have for others too.
The book is written from the view of Nick Mendoza, eldest of two sons.
It chronicles his life and several poignant losses within.
We meet Anna, a girl he worked with at the cinema, as a teenager, and learn about their struggles as two people from very different backgrounds, who have strong feelings for one another but are unable to act upon them, due to Anna’s religions beliefs, and Nick’s life ones.
We jump from one timeline to several others, and back, throughout the book, which, initially, I found quite confusing, but by the end, I understood.
A really touching read, and a book that will stay with you a long while.
Many thanks to NetGalley, and Penguin Michale Joseph for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 1st April 2021

The Car Share

The Car Share by Zoe Brisby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, that was a delightful read!
I am only sorry I couldn’t finish it sooner, but that was purely because my working life has been so hectic that I spent some nights eagerly awaiting the next chapter of Maxine and Alex, only to find myself asleep with my face buried in the kindle, not from boredom but from extreme exhaustion.
Anyway, enough about me, on to the book!
The Car Share is a funny, poignant tale about a young man who suffers from depression, and his journey to find a travel buddy, for a long road trip to Brussels. He accepts a request from a Max and only finds out, upon picking her up, that Max is a nonagenarian, actually called Maxine, hoping to go on her own last journey, before signing into a Euthanasia clinic, ending her life with dignity, before Alzheimer’s takes her life away.
Through the story that mainly unfolds over a couple of days, the unlikely couple ends up in several pickles, as well as getting themselves caught up in a kidnapping case, so find themselves as fugitives.
So much madcap fun, as well as some wonderfully touching moments within the story.
The only reason I can’t give it 5 stars is that there was a lot of POV hopping within chapters which confused me a little.
Many Thanks to NetGalley and Hoder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 25th March, 2021

A Bucket List To Die for

A Bucket List To Die for by Lorraine Fouchet

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A beautifully touching read about a man trying to get his family back together, following the devastating death of his wife.
Joe and Lou were a couple truly meant for each other. They lived on the island of Groix, happy together. Both their children had moved on, and as is the way, fractures in the family dynamics threatened to break them apart indelibly, after Lou’s untimely death.
Her forward-thinking, however, end up bringing her precious family back together in a way none of them ever thought possible.
Told through the viewpoint of several characters, the story moves along over a period of a couple of months, with some flashbacks here and there.
I loved the character of Apple, the feisty granddaughter, who, in many ways, ends up being the catalyst for many of the changes.
A lovely read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 29th March, 2021

Only nine books for me this month. That is really quiet, but it just shows how tired I have been after school, every day! Usually, I can devour 2-4 books a week, at least, but this time, I have just about finished one during the week days, and one over the weekends.

I look forward to hearing what you think of the books above, and what you’ve been reading, too!

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