Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire by @scskillman #Blog Tour @amberleybooks

May thanks to Sheila for giving me a chance to read an advanced copy of her newest release, Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire!

Warwickshire, often known as Shakespeare’s county, has a host of strange and mysterious tales ranging from ancient legends and stories of the supernatural to more modern documented cases. Curious beliefs and customs were once widespread in Warwickshire’s towns and villages, some of which still flourish today.

These strange and spooky stories include the quirky death of the Roundhead commander who owned Warwick Castle; the association of the great author J. R. R. Tolkien with the town; the story of the hand of glory obtained at Warwick hangings, and the threshold protection spell widely practised in former times. Stratford-upon-Avon’s historic buildings have witnessed many strange events over the centuries and more recently the Crackley Wood sprite has been sighted at Kenilworth. Other stories include the Wroth Silver at Knightlow Cross; the discovery of the holy grail in a box in Rugby; a violent 800-year-old ball game played annually at Atherstone on Shrove Tuesday; the sightings of a Beast at Barford; the annual wassailing ceremony at Brandon Marsh Nature Centre; and the unresolved mystery of the 1945 murder at Lower Quinton associated with witchcraft, along with other weird tales from the surrounding towns and villages.These strange and spooky stories are accompanied by the author’s photographs of places featured in the text, both present-day and historical, in this hugely entertaining book.

I have been lucky enough to give you a taster with an extract, which centres around authors associated with Warwickshire!

Famous Individuals Not Usually Associated with Warwickshire

Find what you seek, That fame may cry you loud.

All’s Well That Ends Well (Act 2, Scene 1)

J. R. R. Tolkien, Creator of Middle-earth: Inspired by Warwickshire and by the Town of Warwick
The fully realised vision of the great fantasy writer J. R. R. Tolkien, which emerged in his most popular works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, arose from a rich blend of his experiences, relationships, and inner life from earliest childhood through adolescence and into adulthood. For the most part, no single element of his creation, Middle-earth, can truly be said to have emerged solely from a single source. Nevertheless, he is known to have told his publisher ‘The Shire is more or less a Warwickshire village of about the period of the Diamond Jubilee.’

That refers to Queen Victoria’s sixtieth year on the throne, 1867. More commonly associated with Oxford and Birmingham, it is not widely known that Tolkien was inspired by the Warwickshire countryside and specifically by the town of Warwick itself.

Having spent his infancy in South Africa and his childhood in Birmingham, John Ronald Tolkien married his bride Edith in Warwick, at the Church of St Mary Immaculate in West Street, on 22 March 1916. While Tolkien and his

family called Sarehole, in Birmingham, their home, Edith lived in lodgings in Warwick for a while immediately prior to her marriage. Edith shared her home with her cousin Jennie and received instruction in the Catholic faith from Father Murphy, parish priest of Warwick.

The elements of Warwick so attractive to Tolkien can be detected echoing in his works throughout his life. Tolkien’s foremost biographer Humphrey Carpenter also notes that during the late sixties, Tolkien’s residency in the town was celebrated, and ‘students at Warwick University renamed the Ring Road around their campus “Tolkien Road”’.

The beauty of Warwick in former times was especially significant in relation to Tolkien’s scholarly interests as professor of Anglo-Saxon literature. Anglo-Saxon Warwick, on its rocky outcrop, commanded a crossing on the River Avon. We know that Tolkien admired the stone-built castle on its rock rising above the river, commanding a lofty position from which a wide panorama can be seen. This became a model for Middle-earth locations such as Minas Tirith. Tolkien’s early poem ‘Kortirion Among the Trees’ was written in Warwick during army leave in autumn 1915, when Tolkien’s peers were beginning to be cut down on the battlefields of Europe. In this poem he evokes a fading town overshadowed by towering elms, which was built by elves on a hill close to a river, and it contains what were to become some of his most characteristic themes. He suggested within his vision that it was no longer the dwelling place of elves as its ancient mythical beauty had waned. Nevertheless, Warwick’s remaining beauty and importance to his personal life was such that he dedicated his poem to the town and returned to its image again and again in his writing throughout his life.

The book is filled with wonderful illustrations to add depth to the words you read, too!

Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire by S C Skillman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed S C Skillman’s last foray into Warwickshire history and was thrilled to have been given a chance to read and review this next book.
Warwickshire will always be dear to my heart, and it was great to be able to read some historical tales and facts about the county, with all the fabulous photos to enhance the experience!
Add in the extra tidbits about famous local authors (and bards!) that were included, and it made for a fascinating read!

About the Author

SC Skillman lives in Warwickshire, and writes psychological, paranormal and mystery fiction and non-fiction. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Association of Christian Writers.

Her two literary nonfiction books Paranormal Warwickshire and Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire are published by Amberley, and she is now writing a third book in the series called A-Z of Warwick.

Her novel, Director’s Cut , is out with publishers and she is currently working on Standing Ovation, the sequel.

She began her publishing career with the duology Mystical Circles and A Passionate Spirit which are both set in the same mysterious English manor house in the heart of England – the beautiful Cotswolds hills. There, gothic themes, paranormal events and ghostly tales are never far away. She has set the books in contemporary times, not far from her present home.

She has also written Perilous Path, A Writer’s Journey which is a self help book for those writing a novel, or who would like to write a novel. Packed full of tips and friendly reminders, it’s encouraging and motivational. It’s also for anyone who loves finding out about writers, their lives and works.

SC Skillman was born and brought up in Orpington, Kent, and has loved writing stories most of her life. She studied English Literature at Lancaster University, and her first permanent job was as a production secretary with the BBC. Later she lived for nearly five years in Australia before returning to the UK. She has now settled in Warwick with her husband and son, and her daughter currently lives and works in Australia.

The Burning Question by @Linda_Regan #BlogTour #NewRelease @fmcmassociates

I am thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for the new release by prolific crime writer, Linda Regan!

Here’s the blurb!

DCI Paul Banham and DI Alison Grainger are back. This time they’re investigating the tragic death of a young woman, burnt in her home. When another identical arson attack is reported, Grainger and Banham are on the hunt for a link, unaware that the new trainee DC, Hannah Kemp, already knows the connection.
She also knows that if she comes forward with the information, her own past will come to light, and she’ll potentially lose her job. But, if she doesn’t, more women will lose their lives.
Hannah knows who they are, and she knows their attacker will stop at nothing to keep his ring of illegal prostitutes earning. Once he realises Hannah is now a police detective, she, too, will be in mortal danger.
As the clock ticks against her own life, she must decide whether to stay quiet for the sake of her career, or risk everything she’s worked for to stop a ruthless killer once and for all.
With masterful suspense, Regan reunites readers with her beloved characters DCI Banham and DI Alison Grainger, and delivers one of her most chilling cases yet…

Now, as you will be aware, I am not often one to read crime thrillers, but I do dip in and out, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed The Burning Question, enough to make me want to backtrack and read previous books!

The Burning Question: A compulsive British detective crime thriller by Linda Regan

Crime fiction is not something I often choose to read, but when I have, I’m pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it.
Despite not having read previous books in the series, I was able to get straight into the story of a team of detectives, assigned to investigate a death, which becomes a murder case, that then morphs into a possible serial arson case.
Entwined within the story, we find that one of the newer members of the MIT has murky background secrets which could tie in with the investigation.
I was gripped, I must say. The storyline was good, and I loved that there was a bit of romance and a human touch to what could have ended up being just another story set in a police station.

About the Author

Linda Regan is the prolific writer of eight crime novels, as well as a celebrated
actress on stage and screen. After winning a worldwide writing competition
with her novel Behind You! (2006), Linda published seven more novels,
including Passion Killers (2007) which was selected as a Sunday Observer pick
of the year. Since then, she has written the immensely popular DI Johnson
series (2015) and the DCI Banham series (2019).
In addition to her writing, Linda is a much-loved actress, known for her
recurring role in the hit BBC sitcom Hi-De-Hi, and guest appearances in popular
shows The Bill, Birds of a Feather, Doctors, and Holby City. Before joining the cast of Hi-De-Hi, Linda started out in a comedy dance troupe in her youth before going on to a lead role in the West End production of Tom Stoppard’s Dirty Linen. Playing such vivid and iconic characters throughout her career
has helped Linda to develop character-focused stories that bring a uniquely immersive filmic quality to the page.
In addition to her acting, Linda uses her personal experiences to write her signature brand of “strong crime”. All of Linda’s novels are set in South London, where Linda writes with meticulous knowledge of the landscape where she grew up and currently lives with her husband, actor Brian Murphy.

March 2022 Books #AmReading

As March draws to a close, that means the first quarter of the year has flown by, and I will be starting my Easter break, soon, too! Yay! Honestly, I give up with not requesting arcs, because there are so many great books out there and I am resigned (but very happy) to have a long, long list of fantastic books in my TBR pile, sitting on my reading trolley, or on my Kindle!

My Covid-addled body had a bit more time than usual to read, this month, too. Usually March is filled with school-related stuff, so there are fewer books on my read list, but I think I haven’t done a bad job!

Anyway, what did I read this month?

Workout Wishes & Valentine Kisses: The Wishing Tree Series, Book 5 by Barbara Hinske
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The next book in the rolling series of the Wishing Tree was just as wonderful as the last.
Here, we meet Pam, properly. A divorcee who has returned to Linden Falls, with the magic of the Wishing Tree not shining as bright, in her eyes.
She is working in the local gym with her childhood friend, Steve.
Both have been burned in the romance stakes, and Steve has already pledged a No Date pledge. Pam is convinced to try a bit of online dating, against her will, but several local folks, even though there are some who are convinced the perfect pairing is already there, in front of her.
Pam is a feisty, independent woman, but it’s obvious she eventually wants that somebody, so it’s a lovely journey to see her finally find love.
And the way we see Steve battling with his feelings and his pledge is quite funny, but a little heart-tugging, too.
The way the stories all interweave makes my heart sing.
My only complaint is that I don’t want any of the stories to end!

A Parade of Wishes by Camille Di Maio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Liz Guidry’s visit to Linden Falls is short and sweet, yet her fleeting meeting with Neva Cabot, and the famous Wishing Tree is life-changing.
She is a successful artist in her own right, but there is a huge hole in her life, which she would love to fill with a family and child-sized piece.
A forgotten children’s wallet along with the wish of a young boy leads her to the town of Camden, en route to her final destination, where she meets Mark and Cameron.
Maybe it’s a twist of fate or a coincidence, but the appearance of Liz seems to be the missing piece of their own puzzle.
A beautifully easy to read addition to the Wishing Tree series, and it just goes to s show that the magic of that tree isn’t contained in Linden Falls, but is far more wide-reaching!
Bring on book 7!

Careful What You Wish by Ashley Farley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book 7 in The Wishing Tree series.
I love how this series has given me a chance to read books from bew to me authors.
Ashley Farley us one such author.
Her addition to the series brings a more fantastical twist to the stories.
As always we are brought to the famous tree in Linden Falls.
Mary May is a cleaner in the house of a rich socialite. Part employee, part friend, she’s been working there for 10 years.
A misjudgement of time means that she is found asleep wearing her employers clothes and jewellery, causing her to lose her job.
Where does the tree come into it?
Well, after wondering why the tree diesbt just grow money to solve peoples problems, strange things begin to happen in her own back yard.
Strange things that mean she is able to renovate her aging house, and begin to do more good for her community.
In doing so, she makes new friends, and is seeing the glimmer of happiness return to. Her life, when her former employer presses false theft charges upon her.
I won’t go into it, but the fantastical element I mentioned earlier is at work, ensuring the right decisions are made and that Mary finds a tribe of her own.
I’m sad I have to wait for more Linden Falls stories now!!

Releasing April 6th, 2022

We Move by Gurnaik Johal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A set of shorts, loosely connected by characters whose stories loop together.
Johal has written stories with the South East Asian population in mind, from the immigrants to the first/second generation, detailing their experiences.
An easy read, but since the characters and stories are all intertwined, I do wish that there was more detail to really enhance the shorts.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Serpent’s Tail / Viper / Profile Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 7th April, 2022

One Night With You by Laura Jane Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have loved reading Laura Jane Williams’s books since the first one and gobbled up her latest offering One Night With You, with as much anticipation and excitement as the rest.
Ruby and Nic are so similar but different.
Both are starting new chapters in their lives, and moving away, after events that changed the course of their lives.
There’s just one night, where they both collide, by pure coincidence, and the sparks that fly are undeniable to both themselves and Ruby’s housemates.
But the sparks are just not enough to keep one from changing their new plans.
Thing is, when you meet someone like that, they are pretty hard to forget.
Nic immerses his new life in London, making friends, and tentatively begins dating.
Ruby puts her whole self into her Masters up North, revelling in her Year of Me.
but neither of them can forget the other,
Add in the fantastic character, JP, the nonagenarian, with a love story that captures Ruby’s interest, and encourages her to think more deeply into what she really wants, and you have a pretty good read!
There are friendship politics here, as well as grief, passionate encounters and tearful partings. All in all, a whole lot of almosts.
Will almost ever be enough?
I enjoyed reading this because it wasn’t just some sort of simple romance, but a tale with a whole load of side stories to add spice to it,
Many thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 26th May, 2022

Duckling by Eve Ainsworth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a rollercoaster of emotions I have just felt, reading this book today!
Lucy is a quiet, unassuming woman in her 30s. She’s a loner, in her little council flat, with no one but Boris for company, a few weekly visits to her elderly dad, and her job at the book shop.
She’s always kept herself to herself, even resisting the efforts of her older neighbour, Joy, to bring some light into her life.
When Joy passes away, it’s not long before Lucy has new neighbours and the little girl, Rubi, seeks her out.
What happens through this book is absolutely not what I was expecting, at all, but the way Lucy finally finds herself, through the support of a stranger’s daughter, her boss, Jimmy, her father and good old Columbo, is nothing short of genius!
I was gripped all the way through and though I hated what was happening, all I was doing was praying for the right things to happen!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone, Penguin for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 26th May, 2022

The Last Summer by Karen Swan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very different book to the Karen Swan stories I have already read, but my was it a good un!
Effie Gillies is one of a group of thirty-six residents of St Kilda, a tiny island off the coast of the Highlands, It is the 1930s and many have begun to feel the strain of living the extreme rural life, and tempted by the lure of stories told of the Mainland by visiting tourists, they find themselves all moved off, to ‘civilisation.
Effie may be young, at eighteen, but she has been the backbone of her family, just her and her elderly father, ensuring that they never go without.
A chance meeting with an affluent Lord and his son, Sholto, as they visit the island, changes the course of her life indelibly.
New adventures mixed in with old skills, and a murder mystery thrown in, with romance, too, what more could you ask for?
Honestly, I really loved the whole book. The beginning started slowly, as the beauty of the island was described, and the way the islanders lived, showing Effie in her element, as the tomboy she was. It really picked up pace in the second half, as Effie attempted to get to grips with life as a mainlander, not being able to commune with nature the way she has, her whole life.
And the way it ended. Well, I now am going to wait impatiently until I can read more about the ex-residents of St Kilda!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan, for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 21st July, 2022

Ten Years by Pernille Hughes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A true Enemies to Lovers story, here with a bit of a twist.
Becca and Charlie know one another well. But that doesn’t mean they like each other.
They are only in contact because of the one person they have in common. Ally.
Becca’s best friend, and Charlie’s Fianceé.
Who tragically passes away, leaving them tied together via. bucket list of things she wants them to do, whilst scattering her ashes.
Over the course of ten years, we see the way their relationship changes, from that pure hate to questioning each other, revealing certain secrets, pushing each other away, while something stronger keeps pulling them together.
There are little twists along the way that give the story a little oomph, too,
This will be a good beach read!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collines, One More Chapter for an ARC in exchange for an honest review

Releasing 18th August, 2022

The Setup: An absolutely hilarious, feel-good rom-com from the author of The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was another fun read by Lizzy Dent.
Mara is forever basing her life decisions on her horoscopes. They feel like the only reliable thing in her life. And when a fortune-teller gives the details of her imminent future, she takes it all to heart.
But sometimes you have to learn to take life at face value.
Throughout the story, you could see how her personality develops and how she realised she was more worthy than she ever thought before.
She finds a niche for herself, and makes new, good friends, who help her to overcome a lifetime of self-doubt, and makes herself rather useful, too, with the local Lido, where she works.
The twist in who she would choose when it came to matters of the heart though… Joe, who she is apparently destined to be with, or Ash, who her heart is telling her to trust…
It was an enjoyable read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin General UK – Fig Tree, Hamish Hamilton, Viking, Penguin Life, Penguin Business, Viking for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing on 9th June, 2022

An Island Wedding by Jenny Colgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, there’s nothing more to say except I think I shall have to go back and read the first 4 in the series!
I have enjoyed a number of Jenny Colgan’s books but hadn’t ventured to the Isle of Mure before, and An Island Wedding was a wonderful way to be introduced.
Not having read the first few books didn’t hamper my enjoyment at all, but whet my appetite, as there were certain elements to the storyline which referred back to previous happenings which only raised my curiosity!
I love a huge cast of characters, and the different veins of the story all tied together in the end.
Flora and Joel and their ‘will it happen or won’t it’ wedding, Lorna and Saif’s heart-wrenching romance, Jan and Olivia’s relationship as sisters. So much happening, but written in a great way.
Yes. I’ll be sure to look up the rest of the series!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK, Sphere for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Publishing on 23rd June, 2022

Why Mummy’s Sloshed: The latest laugh-out-loud book by the Sunday Times Number One Bestselling Author by Gill Sims
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having kids of such ages, Gill Sims books have always resonated and made me really laugh.
This was no different, and knowing that my own two are navigating that near A-Levels time, and the hormones of teenagers, I could totally relate.
Hilarious recount of how a woman deals with life as a single mother, to two teens with two dogs and her chickens. With vast quantities of alcohol, a good set of friends, and an ex, who is learning how to be a better parent, too.

A Light Last Seen: When Jaynie Was… by Grace Greene
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jaynie Highsmigh is a girl with a lot of confused emotions and ideas swimming around in her head. With no on in her own house to rely on for emotional support, she ends up creating a special bond with her older neighbour Ruth.
All she wants to do is get away from her current life, and when she gets the opportunity, Jaynie leaves behind her mother, brother, the memory of Ruth, and her grandson Wayne and also, her name.
Change is overrated, though. As she navigates a new life, Jaynie, or Ruth, as she calls herself, finds other obstacles to her idea of a simple, happy life.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, as I have done with other Grace Greene books.
Jaynie has a lot to contend with, and it’s only coming back to her childhood home that helps her finally come to terms with the past, and be able to lay her demons to rest.

Well Matched by Jen DeLuca
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I truly love this series by Jen Deluca, and though it has been sitting on my kindle for a little while, I knew I would savour another trip to the Ren Faire!
This time the story centres around April Parker a single mother, who is dreading the whole Empty Nest syndrome which she is about to experience when her daughter Caitlyn graduates from school and disappears to college.
There will be plenty of time for her to get her life back, but there is also plenty that is happening that she might not want to change.
April gets talked into pretending to be her child’s Gym teacher, Mitch’s girlfriend, for a family dinner. Not a bad shout considering he is one of the hottest guys around, but things get a little sticky, as feelings begin to erupt. But that can’t be happening because he is much younger than her.
Added into the mix, she is planning on selling up her house and leaving, plus, he’s one of the Renaissance Faire’s main players. And April has no interest whatsoever… or does she?
As much as I wanted to savour it, I finished it in a day. Loved being back there, and even more excited to find out there is another instalment coming this year!

Sweet Memories by Steena Holmes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A short, sweet read about an estranged couple, brought together again at a family function.
Why did he leave? What had she done? Was it the right choice?
I’d happily read the next to see what happened.

Trey Releasing April 28th, 2022. Sirens Releasing 28th May, 2022

Now, these two, I shall keep the reviews until a little closer to the release date, but I can say I was blown away by our Sacha’s end to her first fiction series!

I have been eagerly awaiting Trey, and to get a bonus Novella, Sirens, too, was just a really cherry on the top of a fantastic YA iced bun!

Sixteen books I managed in the end, and there were still few arcs in there! How do I manage to end up with so many, despite managing to whittle my NetGalley requests down? Still, I regret none!

So which one caught your eye? Any good reads you can recommend to me?

February 2022 Books #AmReading

February is the month of Love and I do love a good book!

Bitmoji Image

Grace by Victoria Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This second book from Victoria Scott is another amazing page-turner.
Told from the viewpoint of two women, both at different ends of the same struggle, with an additional view of the judge presiding over a very heart-wrenching child custody case.
Michelle is young and has suffered considerably in that short life, at the hands of an inadept social services team, who failed her, from the moment she was separated from her younger sister at the age of six. Fast forward to her late teens, and she has found herself pregnant, in a relationship with a man who has stood by her more than any of the so-called support workers she has had assigned to her. Even his questionable behaviour towards her doesn’t waiver her trust in him.
However, they’re broke, live in squalor, and she knows that is no place to bring up a baby, however much she is already attached to that little being.
Amelia is a woman, in a marriage tinged with sadness at the fact that they can’t have children, and the one time they thought their dream would come true ended up in the tragedy of stillbirth.
A solution to both of these women’s problems could be found, in the placement of little Grace, born to Michelle. She thinks her daughter would be better off in the care of someone who could give her everything.
And that someone could be Amelia, and her husband Piers, who are approached via the Foster to Adopt scheme.
The thing is, nothing is ever that simple.
It was, indeed a roller coaster of emotions as I read the story, following the feelings of a young woman who desperately wants to get her life, and daughter back, and a woman who knows her dream is on the cusp of becoming a reality, but everything balances on the decisions of a judge, after a drawn-out investigation.
All in all, the final conclusion was what I wanted to happen, but there was so much happening in the background, as you read, even if you are of a differing opinion, you would probably agree that it was for the best. People are not always what they seem, and this book demonstrated that, perfectly.
So emotional. But brilliant.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 7th July, 2022

The Wishing Tree (The Wishing Tree Series)

The Wishing Tree by Kay Bratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s always a true bonus when a series is introduced and it includes the writing of some of your favourite authors.
This introductory book to The Wishing Tree Series is exactly that, and I devoured it in one sitting at 5 am this morning, as I was unable to sleep.
A small, some may say, sleepy town, with some extremely interesting inhabitants, and one or two soon to be ones too, is home to a tree that those who live there say is magical.
A wishing tree.
Each of the authors has contributed to the building of the series with a taster, and introduction to the characters with stories of their own, soon to be blossoming into full-blown novels.
From the longstanding residents to those who might just be coming back home, to newcomers, there is something to interest everyone.
I am absolutely 100% excited about the following books! Each of the characters that have been focussed on has stories to tell. Stories that I want to read.

Rainbows End in Ferry Lane Market

Rainbows End in Ferry Lane Market by Nicola May
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ll just start by putting this out there. I am gutted this is the last in the series!
I thoroughly enjoyed the first twp books in the Ferry Lane series and eagerly awaited this third book, where we were able to catch up with old friends, as well as make some wonderful new ones.
This book centres around Glanna, Isaac and Oliver.
Glanna is a local girl by birth, but she disappeared to London as soon as she was able, wanting to spread her wings. She spreads them a bit too far, and ends up in a downward spiral of drink and high living, which ends up with her in rehab. On the cups of turning forty, with a wonderful relationship over, she heads back home, to her parents, and back to one of her first loves. Art.
Isaac is a local artist. A very famous reclusive artist. And somehow, Glanna ends p making his acquaintance, during a particularly awful storm. Could he be the one to nurse her heart back to happiness? With so many deep, dark secrets in his background, will he be up for romance?
Or is it Oliver, Glanna’s one perfect relationship, that soured, as she realised they both wanted different things. Him: marriage and a family. Her: love and a happy life, just the two of them.
The wonderful cast of colourful characters that accompany Glanna on her own journey of self-discovery, are a delight in themselves, with her father, and his rather brash new girlfriend, and her posh mother, who is always chasing the younger man. Not forgetting Banksy, Glanna’s gorgeous whippet! And we get to hear all about how marriage and motherhood are treating all the favourites from the past two books.
This was a wonderful read that I devoured in a day!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 14th April, 2022

The Wedding Season

The Wedding Season by Katy Birchall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Imagine being on the cusp of getting married, literally, then finding yourself jilted, but not quite at the altar, but in a broom cupboard?
That is where Freya finds herself, the day before her dream wedding.
Their wedding was meant to be the beginning of that special Wedding Season, when all those close friends and family, seem to settle down at the same time.
Luckily for Freya, she has a strong band of friends around her, and they help her navigate what could be an extremely tough few months, assembling a plan to help Freya cope with the weddings, hens and stens that are all part of the season.
Each event is assigned a task to help her get over Matthew. Tasks she would never have thought about even attempting had she been in her comfortable twelve-year relationship. And possibly a way to find someone to help her get back on that dating horse…
A funny, but touching ode to friendship, and finding love in the most unexpected places!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 14th April, 2022

The Wrong Suitcase

The Wrong Suitcase by Laura Jane Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I saw this was out today, and I immediately clicked to buy, and read it in one sitting!
Two guests travelling abroad to attend the wedding of mutual friends. Two guests who have just come out of relationships.
Somehow, their suitcases, which are identical, are mixed up at the hotel, and what follows is a gigglesome journey to them finding their own cases, and each other.
I thoroughly enjoyed the short story, and only wish there was more to follow, to see what happens post wedding!

The Amazing Road Trip Home - England to India with Strangers

The Amazing Road Trip Home – England to India with Strangers by Apinder Sahni
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is always good to read a story that resonates with you, and even better when you can put a face to a name.
Apinder Sahni has written a beautiful biographical tribute to two well-respected Sikh men, the Chhatwal brothers, Inder and Gurcharan, and their journey, not only in a car from England to India, but also their personal journey from India to now.
Filled with anecdotes, as well as factual information, Sahni creates that personal touch with the chapters that delve into the brothers’ background and past, as well as that fateful journey with Roy, Sarita and their son, in that Austin.
An educational, emotional read.

The Book Share

The Book Share by Phaedra Patrick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Do you know what?
I really loved this book!
Like really enjoyed it!
Liv is a middle-aged cleaner, pootling along with life. Her children are leaving the nest, her husband is deep in his own work worries, and Liv is just about coping. with her books by her side to keep her going
Until one of her cleaning clients changes her life, completely.
Essie Starling is a reclusive best-selling author, and somehow, she opens up to her cleaner, in the strangest of ways, leaving Liv with a mission and a half to complete, upon her death,
Sure, maybe it is a bit far-fetched, to imagine the situation she is propelled into, but what a situation to find yourself, eh?
Liv ends up on a journey of self-discovery that she never thought she needed to go on, and, in the process, awakes a passion for words that she had left dormant for far too long.
So many twists within the story kept me going and I finished it far too quickly for my liking.
As I said before, loved it!
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 31st March, 2022

The Girls

The Girls by Bella Osborne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You’d be forgiven for thinking this might just be a frivolous rom-com about a bunch of girlfriends, off on a sun-soaked holiday, looking at the cover, but that’s where this old adage, “Never judge a book by its cover”, is most suitable.
The Girls is about a group of friends, and there is an element of being abroad, but, that’s where the frivolity ends.
These are four women, some may describe as, past their prime.
Pauline, Val, Jackie and Zara.
All in their later years, these four friends used to house share in the seventies, and now, somehow, fate, or rather, Zara, has brought them back together.
Pauline is in her own personal hell, alone after a long abusive marriage, with demons that won’t back down, and she’s on the brink of taking her life.
Val, alone, but strong. with a secret hidden so deep, that none of her girls knows about it.
Jackie, the most frivolous of the bunch, is still searching for her One, and even though she knows her options are lessening, due to her age, can’t help herself.
So, when they are all invited to a party to celebrate their old, now famous, friend, Sara’s 80th birthday, they meet with some trepidation, having not seen each other for many years.
Here’s where things get more serious.
Zara wants them all to recreate their 70s living arrangement, but in her villa in France, knowing that all her friends have nothing holding them to England, and with a somewhat selfish motive of her own,
However, her sudden demise plunges them into even more problems.
Lots of different issues are raised in this extremely good book.
Sure, maybe it is a little far fetched to think that someone would go to so much trouble to have their friends around them, but the ensuing story had me gripped.
And, the best thing?
They all learn something important about themselves through the journey.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 14th April, 2022

Mad About You

Mad About You by Mhairi McFarlane

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another Mhairi McFarlane book that I added to the top of my TBR ARC list as soon as it hit!
Harriet is a wedding photographer, who doesn’t really believe in marriage, for herself.
She has issues from the past that stop her from truly committing, even to her lovely boyfriend, Jon. A surprise proposal from him, in front of his family, pushes her over the edge and she pushes him away.
Without giving too much away, all I can say is that this book has dealt with some pretty harrowing issues, including emotional harassment, narcissism, and the role that Social Media can play in totally ruining someone’s life.
Harriet is lucky to have a good friend around her, Lorna, who, might I add is a character I would love to have in my corner! She ends up as a lodger in a house, where it turns out the landlord is a shady character she’d not think she would ever come face to face with, but sometimes shady isn’t actually bad, it’s more that you haven’t got to know someone properly.
I read this in literally a day, so yes, a good book, a great read!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins, UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 14th April, 2022

I Wish… by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was absolutely intrigued by the opening set of short stories to introduce this series, The Wishing Tree, and dived straight into the first of the full-length stories, I Wish… by Amanda Prowse.
Linden Falls has a magical quality, and a rather special tree, too.
Verity and her daughter Sophie are unaware of this power, when Verity, on a spur of a moment decision, sticks a pin into a globe and finds herself travelling to this small Americal town, with her girl.
She needs a break, and to find herself, after being cruelly thrown aside by her famous chef husband, Sonny, for a younger model.
They plan a three-month circuit breaker trip to an unknown place and find themselves meeting new people, and forging new friendships, along with feeling a sort of magic that the Wishing Tree and Linden Falls bestows upon its inhabitants and visitors.
I felt for Verity.
One devotes themselves to the one they love, and the last thing you expect is to be thrown over for another. Through this story, you see her become more confident, and self-aware, and the relationship between mother and daughter is a beautiful thing to behold.
Sophie is a caring seventeen-year-old, who, instead of showing herself being torn between her two parents, chooses to help her mother, as well as keep her relationship with her father intact too.
And I loved how Verity was given that second chance she so wanted, even though it came in a guise different to what she expected.
Quite honestly, I wanted it to carry on, and on, so secretly I am glad that we will be revisiting Verity and her story in further books, later on!

Releasing March 3rd, 2022

Wish You Were Here by Kay Bratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a beautiful testament to friendship!
Neva Cabot is the keeper of the Inn in Linden Falls, and has, by default become Keeper of the Wishes hung on the Wishing Tree in the centre of the town. A calm and centred person, she quietly goes about her business, yet has a sixth sense about what someone may need, at any time.
Henry Harmon is struggling with his wife, Greta’s decline due to Alzheimer’s. But he knows she’s a proud woman, and he keeps the struggle of trying to care for her, to himself
Neva, Henry and Greta have an age-old bond that was severed, yet, somehow they overcome a huge hurdle in order for Neva to reach out to her long-estranged friends to help them.
She takes in Janie and her two daughters, a family that moved into a ramshackle property in the town not long ago, on the pretext of needing a housekeeper. But, there is something else, Janie is hiding.
Having constant company, and two wonderful girls to keep her on her feet, fills Neva with so much joy, it is a wonder to behold. Caley and Breeze are unique young ladies in their own right.
But, ultimately, like I mentioned at the beginning, this is a story of age-old friendship, and how it can be fractured, but equally, it shines a light on how that same friendship can be mended, and take on a different shape.
And I have to say that there are the two starring roles of Myster and his feline ladyfriend, to add to the fun!
Another wonderful addition to the series. I can’t wait to read the next one!

Little Boxes: Debut literary fiction from the Young People’s Laureate for London

Little Boxes: Debut literary fiction from the Young People’s Laureate for London by Cecilia Knapp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A heartwrenching debut novel about friendship.
Four friends with lives tied together in invisible knots, living in a block of flats on a run down old council estate, in the seaside town of Brighton.
Two in a damaging relationship, one with unrequited love and another with a secret he’s unable to talk to anyone about.
The death of one man brings about a tsunami of feelings and change, mainly for the better.
Leah is a girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders, helping her mum cope with life, since her dad left them, and coping with the aftermath effects that had on her older brother. Her relationship with Jay is coloured by her own experience of men and how they treat women,
Jay is a damaged soul in his own right, but unable to do anything to help himself.
Nathan is the product of a successful partnership, but what he wants in life seems just out of reach.
Matthew has his own secrets. Living with his grandfather, he has never been able to be open and honest about who he really is.
When Ron, his grandfather dies, unexpectedly, feelings rise up and take over, and many other untold stories come to light,
A touching, sometimes uncomfortable, read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 9th March, 2022

Wish Again by Tammy L. Grace
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am loving these interconnected books in The Wishing Tree series by a whole host of fabulous authors!
Wish again is Tammy L. Grace’s input into the exploration of the residents of Linden Falls, and this time we are learning about Paige, who returned to her childhood home, after the awful death of her husband, to the comfort of her mother and the bookshop she runs.
More unfortunate events tear Paige up, but every cloud has a silver lining, as they say, and Linden Falls also has a Wishing Tree.
Even though Paige isn’t a believer, a wish happens upon her and she ends up making it come true for someone else, and with that as a catalyst, she ends up finding many new things to do with her time, as well as rediscovering old passions and a new found love for her illustrator job.
A wonderful addition to the series, and Gladys, her dog is just fabulous!

Releasing 16th March, 2022

So, I managed thirteen (Fourteen, if you include one I beta read!) this month! Which one sounds good to you? Tell me about a good book you have read.

Translated Fiction Blog Tour for Karitas Untitled by Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir @fmcmassosciates @amazonpub

I am over the moon to be able to launch the book tour for one of two newly translated releases by Amazon Crossing.

Today’s book is Karitas Untitled, by Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir.

Growing up on a farm in early twentieth-century rural Iceland, Karitas
Ólafsdóttir, one of six siblings, yearns for a new life. As an artist, Karitas
has a powerful calling and is determined to never let go of her true
unconventional self. But she is powerless against the fateful turns of real
life and all its expectations of women. Pulled back time and again by
design and by chance to the Icelandic countryside―as dutiful daughter,
loving mother, and fisherman’s wife―she struggles to thrive, to be what
she was meant to be.
Spanning decades and set against a breathtaking historical canvas,
Karitas Untitled, an award-winning classic of Icelandic literature, is a
complex and immersive portrait of an artist’s conflict with love, family,
nature, and a country unaccustomed to an untraditional woman―but
most of all, with herself and the creative instincts she has no choice but
to follow.

I am able to share a sneak peek chapter of the book for you to peruse at your leisure.

Untitled 1915
Pencil drawing
The morning is misty gray.
The colors of the sea, the mountain, and the valley have dulled, as if the thin strip of fog painted over a picture in haste before fleeing the bitter cold that crept into the bay in the small hours.
Over the heath, still white with snow despite it being Whitsuntide, goes a cart, pulled by sturdy workhorses. Men from the valley escort the widow to her ship.
She rides straight-backed, with Halldóra next to her, shoulders slumped. The two elder brothers follow the cart, listening to its every creak.
Among the trunks, knitting machine, and sacks huddle we two younger sisters, bundled in wool. Our youngest brother rests in the arms of Bjarghildur, who hums to him, while I sit scrunched between two trunks, watching the shoreline recede.
A horse-drawn cart on a white heath.
Anxiety at the trip over the heath has kept me from sleeping for many nights. I know that an evil spirit dwells here, luring travelers and dragging them to a deep bowl hidden among the steep, landslide-ridden slopes. I look bitterly at my siblings, who have never sensed the presence of trolls and monsters as I have, let alone perceived ghosts, and I regret not having stayed behind like the maid.
Over the white heath hangs a fog that is waiting to swallow us.
All around me in the cold stillness, I hear whispering.

The hold’s hatches and the opening to the staircase had both been shut after the sea worsened, and the sour smell of vomit hung over the prostrate passengers. The families had prepared makeshift beds on the floor, while two women not in the death grip of seasickness propped themselves on their elbows and entertained each other with birthing stories. Steinunn was speaking.
“Karitas came from the sea, but Bjarghildur from the ground like any old potato plant. I was home digging up potatoes when I began having contractions, and everyone else was out in the fields. At first, I ignored the disturbance because the potatoes needed harvesting no less than the hay, and I was convinced I had enough time as it had taken three days to bring my eldest daughter into the world. But when the pangs intensified and I thought I had better go inside, it was too late: all I could do was squat there in the potato patch and let nature take its course. Two years later, when I had my third daughter, it was the same story, but that time, I was down at the beach gathering seaweed when the contractions began. From my previous experience, I knew how things would go, so I went behind a big rock where I would have sand beneath my feet, but as I was delivering, the tide began coming in, and it was only by the grace of God that the child wasn’t swept away. After two births in nature, I didn’t dare venture far from the farmhouse the next times I was due, and because of that, it was soft bedclothes that received my three boys, not sea and soil.”
It was evident from the other passenger’s expression that she wasn’t certain whether Steinunn was telling her what really happened or a dream. Still, it being an excellent story, she decided not to ask, although she did peer at the sisters as if trying to guess which had come from where and which had come into the world the ordinary way. They lay sprawled over each other like kits in their den, deathly pale and helpless from nausea, but their brothers, apart from the youngest, sleeping in his mother’s lap, were no longer susceptible to seasickness and had stayed on deck with the crew.
Steinunn’s fellow passenger had no such stories of her own, having delivered all of her children indoors, but in order not to be outdone by the widow, she resorted to relating some unusual delivery stories that she’d heard. After chatting long enough to reach the point when conversants begin sharing their personal circumstances and plans, Steinunn told the woman briefly about her desire to provide her children with educations. The woman, astonished at Steinunn’s daring, rocked on her mattress and asked whether it wasn’t madness for the widow to rush off into the unknown with six children and an empty purse. Steinunn replied that in this case, having no money made no difference.
“In Iceland, no one who works dies.”
Her fellow passenger agreed, but said that she, poor commoner that she was, could never have imagined sending her children to school, and in any case, it was too late now, since they’d all grown up and moved away. Yet she couldn’t resist mentioning one of her sons, who was a highly distinguished person, “and a deckhand on the Gullfoss itself, neither more nor less, the new ship that arrived in the spring. On board, they dance and sing, I’m told; the ship is so big and steady that there’s hardly any rolling out on the open sea. The cabins are all first class, and when the ship glides into the ports of Europe, all of the passengers, most of whom are higher-ups, gather on deck and wave at the crowd waiting on the quay.” Steinunn, who’d had to settle for a place in the ship’s hold to spare expenditure and had little desire to hear about the luxuries of the upper class, thought for a moment before replying that she doubted that people waited on the quay in foreign lands—“at least not the men, because as far as I know, all of Europe is at war, and they’re most likely on the battlefield, and although I don’t doubt the magnificence of the ship, I can hardly imagine that women on the Continent have any more time than we do for loitering on the quay, even if a ship docks.” At this reminder of the war being fought on the Continent, Steinunn’s fellow passenger grew anxious about her son and didn’t hear it when Karitas asked quietly whether she had any idea what it cost to sail aboard such a fine ship. When no answer came, Karitas gave Bjarghildur a little nudge and whispered in her ear: “Do you think we’ll ever sail overseas aboard such a ship?” Bjarghildur responded crustily to the irritating whispering, waved Karitas off, and exhaled weakly, “Leave me alone; I have no home.” Karitas saw that there was little to be gained from her in the state she was in and turned to Halldóra to ask the same thing, but stopped when she saw her sister’s expression. It didn’t result from nausea alone, that much she knew, and she stroked her sister’s arm to express affection and sympathy. Her sister just lay there, curled up and miserable on her makeshift bed, although the suffering on her face did nothing to spoil her comeliness. She resembled an image of the Savior on the cross.
Gloom settled over the hold; they were out on the deep, and the rolling intensified. The vomiting worsened, the little ones wet themselves, and the sisters held their noses, tried to breathe through their mouths. Then they felt the ship slow down; the engines hiccupped and stopped. People propped themselves on their elbows and stared at the hatches. For several moments, neither a cough nor a groan was heard.
“Ice,” someone then groaned from one corner. “Damned ice.”
The hatches were torn open.
Freezing sea air streamed into the hold.

Purchase your copy, here!

Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir is one of Iceland’s most acclaimed writers and the
internationally bestselling author of numerous novels, including Karitas Untitled,
a Nordic Council Literature Prize nominee; Street of the Mothers; Chaos on
Canvas; and Seagull’s Laughter, which was adapted for the stage and also into
an award-winning film. She received her degree in 1991 from the University of
Iceland and has also worked as a teacher and a journalist. Among Kristín Marja’s
many honors are the Knight’s Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon for her
achievements in writing and her contributions to Icelandic literature, the Jónas
Hallgrímsson Prize, and the Fjöruverðlaun Women’s Literature Prize. Kristín Marja
lives in Reykjavík.
Philip Roughton is an award-winning translator of many of Iceland’s best-known
authors, including Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness, Jón Kalman Stefánsson,
Þórarinn Eldjárn, Bergsveinn Birgisson, and Steinunn Sigurðardóttir.

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