I Have Been Podcasted!

It gives me great pleasure to let you know that I have been featured on a wonderful podcast, Great Writers Share!

Image may contain: Ritu Kaur BP, text that says "NEC THIS WEEK'S GUEST RITU BHATHAL EPISODE #053: MARRIAGE UNARRANGED, SETTING PRIORITIES, FINDING BALANCE, AND POETRY PROSE."

I was honoured to be asked on as a guest, and I hope you have the time to listen.

GWS #53 – Ritu Bhathal

Hello everybody! This week I got to sit down with chick pea lit author Ritu Bhathal!

In this episode we go deep into:

  • • Where Ritu’s journey began
  • • How life can prioritize over writing
  • • Starting a blog on a whim without a plan
  • • Indian family customs
  • • How writing groups and accountability can help lift you up and keep you on track
  • • Publishing Poetry vs a Novel
  • • How having a support system is instrumental in the writing process
  • • Stationary and her vast collection of brush pens
  • • Being realistic when it comes to balancing everyday life and getting words written
  • • What her writing advice is for new writers

Listen now: https://pod.link/1473869415

Image may contain: one or more people, text that says "EPISODE #53 FEATURING RITU BHATHAL GREAT WRITERS SHARE"

Shakespeare And Me – Guest post by @KileyDunbar and #BookReview of #newrelease, One Winter’s Night

Last year I was introduced to the debut novel of someone who I have come to view as one of those authors whose books I will put others aside, to read as soon as I can.

Kiley Dunbar’s first book, One Summer’s Night, is a wonderful story, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, and heavily influenced by that famous bard, William Shakespeare. As I read her fourth book, One Winter’s Night, (yes, she’s got that many under her belt since last year’s release!) I realised it was also Shakey-heavy, too, so I decided to be nosy and ask all about her fascination with Shakespeare, and how much he’s influenced her writing, and life, too!

Over to you, Kiley!

I fell in love with Shakespeare’s poetry when I was fourteen and I talked my mum into buying me A Midsummer Night’s Dream, based solely on my lovestruck reaction to its gorgeous cover. I still have that book! (pictured).

That was the summer my parents dug out a small pond in the back garden of their terrace in the coal board village where I grew up. I spent hours that summer sitting by the pond trying to get to grips with the strange language and magical characters. I only understood half of what I read and it took me the whole summer to finish the play.

I was always a dreamy kid but something about the summer moon reflecting in the water and this 400-year-dead beardy English bloke had me reeling. I was a goner.

Cut to Mrs Marr’s English class a few years later and I’m head over heels for Hamlet, outraged by Othello and totalled on Twelfth Night. Thank you Mrs Marr!

In May 1999 I was writing a long letter to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford upon Avon explaining my obsession and asking if they have any summer job vacancies – and they did!

Within weeks I was living in Stratford, working as a tour-guide and seeing every single play at the RST and the Swan. I was in heaven!

And I didn’t want to leave.

So I applied to study at the Shakespeare Institute and, to my amazement, got a place – after a nerve wracking interview. I made Shakespeare-obsessed friends for life there.

A few years, and a lot of studying, later I have been fortunate enough to be able to teach my own Shakespeare courses at a uni in the North of England. Seeing the moment where it finally all made sense for my students was utterly magical!

It felt as though all my teenage summer dreams had come true. Except for one. I wanted to write love stories and comedies of my own.

In March 2019 my debut novel, a rom com, called ‘One Summer’s Night’ came out with Hera Books, inspired by my love of Shaky and (v. v. loosely) based on my first summer in Stratford all these years ago where I met my husband and we got engaged after FOUR days! I know, I’m not exactly risk averse. Now I’m looking forward to sharing the sequel to that novel. It’s called One Winter’s Night and is out on 17th September 2020 and follows the same characters and some new ones through a very romantic, dramatic winter in Shakespeare’s hometown. One of the storylines is a gender-reversed version of Love’s Labour’s Lost, one of my favourite Shakespeare plays.

I hope you love it, Kiley, x

You can download your copy of One Summer’s Night here:

Apple https://apple.co/2sM8y2p
Kobo http://bit.ly/2HtpPYg
Kindle https://amzn.to/2MAxFOV
Google http://bit.ly/2FUCNvK

And One Winter’s Night can be bought here:

AMZ: https://amzn.to/3haiHwO

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2B94BMV

Apple: https://apple.co/3haaEA8

Here’s the blurb:

A gorgeously uplifting, romantic read that will warm your heart – take a trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon, where magic happens…

It’s autumn in beautiful Stratford-Upon-Avon and Kelsey Anderson is enjoying her new life in her adopted town. Her Shakespearean tour guide days behind her, she’s now opened her own photography studio and loved up with boyfriend Jonathan – even if a long-distance relationship is sometimes lonely.

When best friend Mirren Imrie moves down from Scotland, Kelsey is delighted to have her friend at her side – and as the nights turn colder, Mirren throws herself into dating, until she finds herself growing closer to sexy journalist, Adrian Armadale. But when Mirren uncovers a long-buried scandal while working at the local newspaper, her big scoop might throw Kelsey’s – and Jonathan’s – life upside down. Will she choose her career over her friends’ happiness?

And when Jonathan returns from America and discovers the secrets Mirren has uncovered about his family, it throws his relationship with Kelsey onto shaky ground. Can they find their way back to love, before it becomes the winter of their discontent?

A romantic, funny and feelgood read that will make you smile from ear to ear. Fans of Milly Johnson, Heidi Swain and Holly Martin will fall in love with this cosy winter read!

Thank you, so much, Kiley, for sharing your love affair with Shakespeare with us all!

And four days! Wowzer! Well, they do say, when you know, you know. 😉

As I mentioned, I was honoured to be able to read an ARC of One Winter’s Night, and it was fabulous! Here’s my review.

One Winter’s Night by Kiley Dunbar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I happened upon Kiley Dunbar and her debut last year, and after devouring the first one, I have awaited any other releases with great anticipation, and she’s never failed to satisfy.
Hearing that the characters from One Summer Night, Dunbar’s debut were getting another outing in One Winter’s Night, made my summer.
I love Shakespeare, Stratford-Upon-Avon is a place we visited plenty when I was growing up, And though I’ve never been, Scotland and its. beauty has always enticed me.
One day I will visit.
And romance? Well, I love a bit of romance, so, having all these components in a book should be a guaranteed good read, for me, at least.
And it surely was!
Catching up with Kelsey Anderson, as the Scottish lass comes to grips with settling far south of her home town, in Shakespeare’s land, attempting to set up a business fuelled by her passion for photography, with no good friends or family close by, and the love of her life off acting across the Atlantic was a joy.
And I loved the parallel story of Kelsey’s best friend Mirren, the newly single, Scottish journalist who’s finally had enough of the sexist world of broadsheet journalism, and finds herself swearing off men, jacking in her job, and jumping on a train to join her best friend, for a little while, as she straightens her life out.
There were a whole host of new characters introduced, including the old soak, propping up the local bar, who ended up being a rather famous actor in his prime, with a hidden secret, and Blythe.
Oh, I loved Blythe! Everyone needs a Blythe in their lives.
An eccentric elderly woman who was a force to be reckoned with in her prime, on stage, until life threw her some huge curveballs. Blythe may be a bit of a recluse, but she has amassed a veritable smorgasbord of memorabilia and hard-learned wisdom over the years, along with the talent of distilling her own extremely strong flavoured gins.
Kelsey’s unusual, initial meeting with Blythe cements a multi-generational friendship that adds another layer to an already wonderful story.
So there’s love, heartbreaks, more romance, Shakespeare, family angst, and GIN! What more could a reader want?
Absolutely a recommended read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hera Books for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Now, I 100% recommend you get reading all of Kiley’s books, they are wonderful little nuggets of escapism!

Happy Reading!

August 2020 Books #AmReading

Aaah, August… my month of rest(ish) as I am off school, and alongside my writing, I am hoping to make another dent in that TBR pile of mine, which shrinks every month, yet grows at the same time!

And I managed eighteen in total… not bad, among all the writing and house clear out.

Holly Banks Full of Angst by Julie  Valerie

Holly Banks Full of Angst by Julie Valerie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Took me a little while to get into the flow of this book, but I felt I should read it, seeing as it had been on my Kindle for a while and because I had an arc of the sequel to read too.
The story of Holly, mum to one and housewife to Jack. They lived in aa pretty normal place, living a normal life until Jack’s job forced a move into the village of Primm.
As I was introduced to the place, the residents of the village, it had a true Stepford Wives vibe with the Queen Bee, Mary-Margaret St. John, courting over everything that happened, especially the famed PTA for the local school.
Holly finds it hard to settle in, and even harder to let her daughter Ella go, as she starts kindergarten.
Especially as she has been roped in to help with numerous events with the PTA by the rather domineering Mary-Margaret.
Some interesting twists, and a large topiary peacock (peahen) named Plume feature in this middle of the road tale of an angsty mum, settling into unfamiliar grounds, while solving little problems as she goes.

The Peculiar Fate of Holly Banks (Village of Primm #2)

The Peculiar Fate of Holly Banks by Julie Valerie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Receiving this as an ARC pushed me to read the first in the Village of Primm series, which I already had on my Kindle.
Where I liked book one, this one, I liked even more, as we got to know more about the quirky characters now a full-time part of Holly Banks’ life since she moved to the Village of Primm with her family.
Holly’s wayward dog, Struggle is the star of this one, unearthing local treasures in her digging frenzies when she gets out of the back yard, and this causes consternation for some, and huge excitement for others.
There is still this Stepford Wives quality to the women who live there, but we get to delve deeper into their characters.
An enjoyable read.
Many thanks to NetGalley. and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 24th November, 2020

One Winter's Night (Kelsey Anderson, #2)

Review to come in an exclusive post with author Kiley Dunbar!

Releasing 16th September, 2020

Strictly Come Dating by Kathryn Freeman

Strictly Come Dating by Kathryn Freeman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you’re a fan of the spangly ballroom dancing fiesta that is Strictly Come Dancing, (or if you’re not, but still love a bit of romance) then you are going to love this!
Thirty-seven-year-old Maggie, single mum, doctor, and Strictly superfan enjoys weekly gatherings with her best friends, twins, Sarah and Alice, andher nanny, Hannah, to watch all the latest episodes of Strictly Come Dancing. Even their kids have caught the bug.
As they settle down for a night of pizza and dance, a new face shows himself, in the name of Seb, the twin’s younger, wayward brother.
Hearts are set aflutter, but who is this twenty-seven-year-old Aussie surf hunk destined to fall for? Hannah, the pretty nanny, or Maggie, the middle-aged mum?
Sprinkled with humour, dance, and annoying ex-husbands, Strictly Come Dating is a fun, easy read.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Harper Collins, and One More Chapter for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Secrets in the Snow by Emma Heatherington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Roisin has had a rough ride in life, bouncing from foster carer to foster carer, before entering o=innto an abusive marriage.
Through a welcome tragedy, she finds herself widowed and wants to make a fresh start for her and her son, Ben.
A pin in a map lands her in a tiny village called Ballybray in Ireland, and it couldn’t be more different from her upbringing in the city of Dublin.
Once there, she finds that she has an interfering neighbour, Mabel Murphy, an elderly widow, with a New York twang, who refuses to believe that this young woman would prefer to be alone.
What develops between them, is a friendship stronger than most, more akin to family.
Life is idyllic, almost, until Mabel gets ill and passes away.
But this meddling neighbour isn’t finished with her work to make sure Roisin lives her life to the fullest.
Somehow, from beyond the grave, she’s arranged for some messages, specifically for Roisin, and Aidan, Mabel’s nephew, who has been in the US for the last fourteen years, and only comes back to Ballybray to attend the funeral and sell off her property.
What follows, in the story, is the impact of the messages that Mabel sends, seasonally, for these two lost souls, over the course of a year, and how the words of a soul long gone, can still have a positive effect on the lives of those left behind.
I truly enjoyed this book. Wonderful characters. Everyone needs a Mabel Murphy in their lives.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 15th October, 2020

Timothy Mean and the Time Machine 2 by William A.E. Ford

Timothy Mean and the Time Machine 2 by William A.E. Ford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A wonderful addition to the Timothy Mean series of books.
Timothy goes on several adventures in his time machine, visiting Ancient Egypt and Rome, to name a few destinations. He finds himself in several pickles, just about escaping with his time machine.
Until faced with the aliens in space.
This is when the power of siblings comes into play.
Beautiful illustrations and a lovely rhyming story make for another book, I’d happily read to my class in school.

Confessions of a Forty-Something F**k Up

Confessions of a Forty-Something F**k Up by Alexandra Potter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fun recount of a year in the life of Nell, a forty-something woman who feels like nothing in her life is how she/d imagined it would be, as she reaches her forties.
No man, no job, no home, no children… friends soaring in their own lives. Even her younger brother is getting ahead of her.
Through the year, she begins documenting her thoughts in a little known podcast, meets an old mate who gives her a simple job, that leads to her meeting an octogenarian new BFF and finds a room to rent in a flat, with a rather pernickety landlord.
The year has its ups and downs, but the biggest thing is there is discovery and not just the discovery that her podcast ends up a hit!
A fun-filled, relatable read for all those who think their lives are going nowhere, and need a reminder that all will be well
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Releasing 31st December, 2020

Collaboration for Authors by Daniel Willcocks

Collaboration for Authors: A complete guide to collaborating, finding a partner, and accelerating your author career. by Daniel Willcocks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Are you a writer, toying with the idea of collaborating with another author?
Do you even know what collaboration is?

I must admit, the first thing that came to mind for me was the co-authored books that I’ve seen, but in this book Dan Willcocks breaks collaboration down into fantastically entertaining bite-size chunks, from the start, explaining the different types of collaboration, to how to approach another writer about forming a partnership of sorts.

Then he goes further into the nitty-gritty of working with another creator.

There’s pretty much everything any self-respecting author needs, to educate themselves on the art of a successful collaboration.

I especially enjoyed the case studies interspersed within the book, giving us a smorgasbord of tidbits and nuggets of advice from established collaborators in various types of partnerships.

Well worth the investment, if you are thinking of collaboration with another author.

Adult Virgins Anonymous

Adult Virgins Anonymous by Amber Crewe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve got to be honest. The title totally drew me in.
A group for adult virgins? Bring it on!
A short segment at the beginning introduces two characters who don’t know each other, at uni, in 2011. Kate and Freddie, are both plucking up the courage to approach people they like.
Fast forward to now, and those same characters have never quite managed to pluck up that courage, and now find themselves, almost ten years later, in the same place, romantically, as they were then.
A chance sighting of a card in a pub, advertising a group for Adult Virgins, leads them both back to their old university, where the meetings are held, and the story unfolds.
Low confidence, OCD, overbearing families, friends who really aren’t, interspersed with new opportunities, new friends, and possible new love.
A cut story, which you know is going to have a HEA.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder and Staughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 21st January, 2021

The Flip Side

The Flip Side by James Bailey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Imagine the heartbreak. You’ve planned for what feels like forever, and finally got the girl of your dreams in the place of her dreams, with a ring waiting in your pocket, the privacy of an empty pod on the London Eye, and it’s New Year’s Eve to boot.
Then she says no.
This is precisely what happens to our hero, Josh.
He finds himself jobless, homeless and girlfriendless to boot.
After moving home to his parents, a 27-year-old failure, he decides the flip of a coin will be the best way to make all the choices about his life for a year. After all, making them on his own hasn’t worked out that well.
Will it help him find love? A job? A new home?
What follows is a gigglesome account of what happens when a small disc of metal dictates what you do next.
I enjoyed the story, though possibly a little unrealistic, but it made for an easy read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Michael Joseph UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 26th November, 2020

Before I Saw You

Before I Saw You: The delightful and emotional love-story of 2021 by Emily Houghton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading the blurb for this book truly enticed me to read the story of two people who find themselves side by side in a hospital recovery ward, building a friendship, a relationship, almost, without ever seeing each other.
Alfie is the life of the ward, keeping the spirits of his two longterm roommates up, developing bonds with everyone he encounters, and is coming to terms with his own tragedy, and being a recent addition to the world of the amputee.
Then, one day the spare bed next to him is filled, but the curtains are drawn. The secret roommate intrigues them all.
Alice is a successful career woman, but her world comes tumbling down after a freak accident at her work leaves her injured beyond recognition. She finds herself in a dark place, shutting herself away from the world, refusing to see anyone she knows, and even baulking at the idea of the health professionals coming in to check on her.
What follows is a story filled with ups and downs, as Alfie tries his hardest to break down the barriers between this invisible woman and the rest of the world.
I loved Alfie’s relationship with his fellow patients. He is such a positive character, but with shadows that loom over him.
After reading what happened to Alice, it made me wonder how I would feel, in her situation. Would I end up wanting to become a recluse?
Many deep issues explored in a captivating read.
Many thanks to Netgalley, Random House Uk and Transworld Publishers for an ARC in exchange for an honest review

Releasing 4th February, 2021

The Two Lives of Louis & Louise

The Two Lives of Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An intriguing concept of a book, where we follow the life of the same person, but explore the differences within their lives, had they been born male or female.
Louis and Louise live the same life, but the way they are treated, and the opportunities they are afforded, show the difference gender can make in life.
There are some tough themes explored within this book, and it made for an interesting read.

Trust No Aunty

Trust No Aunty by Maria Qamar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely loved this! I spent most of the time I was reading, nodding and imagining the different aunties that I know, and also, as a mid 40’s woman, myself, trying to work out if I was one yet, or not!

Coconut Unlimited

Coconut Unlimited by Nikesh Shukla
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel was a real moment of reminiscence for me, taking me back to my youth, and remembering those young Indian lads who thought they were ‘bad’ because they liked rap and hip hop!
Nikesh Shukla’s debut novel was a funny insight into the mind of a 14-year-old Gujju boy, Amit, brought up in Harrow.
A boy sent to private school by parents who scrimped and saved to send him there, with great aspirations for their only boy, whose own hopes and dreams were so different.
Amit never really feels like he fits in, anywhere. He’s singled out by pupils and staff in school as one of a handful of Indians, and out of school, he’s constantly batting off comments from other family and friends, about him thinking he’s too good for them because of going to Private school.
He discovers Hip Hop, and decides that he’s going to embrace the Rap and Hip Hop culture with his two friends, and they form a Hip Hop band, Coconut Unlimited, with varying degrees of success…
A fun read.

The Right Swipe (Modern Love, #1)

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first delve into the world of Alisha Rai’s words, and the fact that I have another of her books already lined up to read, next shows that I was not disappointed with what I read, here.

Rhiannon is a badass corporate woman with an uber-successful dating app company under her belt.
But, situations from the past have tainted her view of men, relationships and love.
Still, hookups are indulged in rarely, and her last one affected her in a way she never thought.
Imagine then coming face to face with that same hookup in a professional setting, and watching as your life, your beliefs, your thoughts end up being turned upside down.

I loved this story, which was both light-hearted, and deep, at the same time. Focussing on issues that are so current, including the difficulties of being a minority in a place where people don’t expect you to be, and the #MeToo movement, it affected me more emotionally than I would have expected.

Rhi’s hero, Samson Lima, retired sports star, is a pleasure to read about. What a gentle giant of a gentleman!

A good read.

Girl Gone Viral (Modern Love, #2)

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I quickly devoured this, the second book inn the Modern Love series by Alisha Rai , invested in the characters from the first book, The Right Swipe.
Imagine going about your life, and after a chance conversation in a coffee shop, finding yourself embroiled in the midst of a Tweet gone viral?
Some would love it, but not a person who has consciously tried to keep herself out of the limelight for the last few years.
The story of Katrina, a young, rich widow, and her own personal traumas, compared to those of Jas, Singh, her bodyguard, were pretty addictive to read. I finished it in one sitting!
Loved the cultural references, and I learned stuff about South Asians and how they settled in The States, as well!
Great read!

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read Balli Kaur Jaswal’s Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, a couple of years back, I was keen to read another of her books. The fact that Shergill was in the title was a hook for me, as we know people with that surname. I know that means nothing, but it was just another familiarity that connected me.
Being a writer in a similar genre was another reason I wanted to read.
Three sisters, all very different, are forced back together to take part in a pilgrimage, back in the Motherland, India, planned by their mother on her deathbed.
Rajni, Jezmeen and Shirina all have their personal struggles, and none want to admit them to their own sisters.
This trip shows their internal struggles, as well as a building up of relationships, broken down by years of misunderstandings and secrecy.
I know that India Jaswal described. I felt the emotions of the sisters, being a British Indian, going back ‘home’ yet not quite fitting in.
All in all, a great read that I read in two sittings.

My Sister, the Serial Killer

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I began this book with a whole load of expectations, and thankfully they were met.
The story follows two sisters, Ayoola, who ha a tendency to kill her boyfriends, and Korede, the older one who gets summoned to clean up the mess.
Set in Lagos, Nigeria, the story is a dark, comic novel, laying emphasis on these two sisters’ relationship, essentially.
A very quick, fun read.

Anothe eclectic selection of reads, there. I’ve finished all my arcs for now, and am attempting to read the books by the side of my bed, before I have to pack them, for this move, if we ever get to that stage!

Which one tickled your fancy? And tell me, what are you reading now?

July 2020 Books #AmReading

Waving goodbye to July…

What book reading pleasure have I managed this month?

Departed: David and Sara (Cliffside Bay…

Departed: David and Sara by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have managed to work my way through pretty much the whole of the Cliffside Bay series this year, and I was eager to read this last instalment, but at the same time, not so, as it meant that a cast of characters that have become friends, would be wrapping up the story in this book.
I don’t know about anyone else, but with the current COVID-19 climate, I seem to have got a bit addicted to reading books that have endings that aren’t as perfect as I’d usually like, and when I started Tess’s book, I knew there would be ups and downs, then a wonderful, perfect Happily Ever After… and I wasn’t entirely sure I was ready for so much positivity.
But, reading the story of how Sara and David finally fall for each other, I proved myself wrong.
How a will, and a desire to do something good for the world, can make an ‘arrangement’ end up in True Love, was the perfect antidote for the depression that has hit my reading mind.
And I have to admit to a few happy tears at the end, as the story wraps up.
Thank you, Tess, for these wonderful characters, and I do so hope that something may just get resurrected in the future 😉

The Secret of You and Me

The Secret of You and Me by Melissa Lenhard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Form the beginning, I was captured into the story of two women, torn apart as young girls, upon discovery of their forbidden love, and how they cope with being thrown together again eighteen years later.
Nora finds herself back in her hometown after eighteen years of exile, sent away by her father, after she was found in a compromising situation with her best friend Sophie.
Sent off to join the military, Nora comes to terms with her feelings, and her attraction to both men and women, as Sophie is left back home, building her own perfect future.
The twists come hard and fast, as her father dies, and she returns for the funeral, to come face to face with her childhood love, Sophie, who is married to Charlie, who used to be Nora’s boyfriend.
Confused?
It will make sense once you read.
This is a beautifully told story of love reclaimed, and two women finally being able to be themselves, after decades of hiding their true selves. Set in a town filled with strict religious beliefs, and a whole new generation to think about, along with the older people, who see same-sex relationships as the ultimate sin, there are so many layers this story peels through.
Many thanks to Netgalley and Mills And Boon for an ARC, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Releasing on 4th August 2020

Emily, Gone

Emily, Gone by Bette Lee Crosby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first of Bette Lee Crosby’s books that I have read, and I have heard so much about it I was looking forward to getting stuck in.
A rollercoaster of a read is what I would describe it.
Imagine being pregnant, nearing the end of your pregnancy, when you go into labour, only to have the tragedy of a stillbirth?
Now, imagine, you somehow find yourself in a strangers house, and a tiny infant lays there, looking just like your baby should have?
Then, imagine being the parent who wakes after a deep slumber, caused by three sleepless nights, to find your infant gone?
All these things happen in the book, as we explore the emotions that run through the minds of both women, who have motherhood robbed of them, in two deeply tragic ways.
We experience the fear of a woman on the run, and the faith of a woman ever hopeful… With twists and turns to accompany every step of the story.
A well-written story, with loss at the centre, but ringed with hope all the way through.

The Secret Letters

Read as an Arc. Full review in post in Augus

The Secret Letters by Taryn Leigh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rachel is a woman who has worked hard to get where she is now, in her own clinic as a psychiatrist. In a long-standing relationship with Will, her boyfriend, she thinks things are moving slowly, but in the right direction, but at the back of her mind, there are niggles.
Then she is attacked in her own home, by the same man who attempted to rape her as a teenager.
What follows is the story of how she overcomes her fears, sheds the dead weight in her life and finds some amazing new friends, rekindles relationships with family, and finds her forever love, too.
The Secret Letters is a bittersweet romance, covering some serious issues within, including attempted rape, estranged families and unfaithfulness.
Written in an uncomplex way, The Secret Letters is an easy read that can be devoured in a few hours, by young adults, as well as the more grown kind.
There are some fantastic characters in the book. I almost wish there was even more development of some of them, like Mr Lemon. I loved Mr Lemon. Everyone needs a Mr Lemon in their lives!
In fact, there were some places I almost wished that the scenes took a little longer, to explore some of the issues within, or expand upon details, so it didn’t feel rushed.
I was offered a chance to read this book by the author, for an honest review.

Released 9th August, 2020

Soldier's Girl : Love Story of a Para Commando

Soldier’s Girl : Love Story of a Para Commando by Swapnil Pandey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book but I’m sorry to say I found it so hard to finish.
Poor spelling, sentence structure, going of rails, tense mix ups… I’m not sure where to start.
Poor execution of what could have been an interesting love story.
😢

Soul Waves

Soul Waves by Sylvester L Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful set of poems and life lessons written by prolific poet, Sylvester Anderson.
This is a book you can pick up and open, to give yourselves a morsel of wisdom, or positivity, whenever you need it!

Dance in the Rain by [Shreya Dutta]

Dance in the Rain by Shreya Dutta
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An emotionally packed anthology of poems.

Down The Tubes

Down The Tubes by Kate Rigby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve had this on my Kindle for a while, now, but only just got round to reading it.
Gut-wrenching is the word I’d use to describe it.
Drug addiction is an awful thing to experience – not the highs – that’s what gets you addicted – but the lows, the cold turkey, the trying to get back on the road to normality, to ‘clean’.
This story explores addiction in a raw, sometimes difficult to read, way. Realistic. Almost too realistic.
We follow the story of a mother and her son. They’re estranged, but their life routes are parallel in so many ways.
She finds the art of being a mother to a baby addictive, but can’t deal with a baby who doesn’t act like he’s supposed to.
He finds solace in his father’s adoration, which takes a sinister turn, that ends up with him running away.
Abuse, substance misuse, deaths, births favouritism… so much discussed.
It was a hard, but very good read.

One Step Behind

One Step Behind by Lauren North
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I was approached to read this arc, I didn’t hesitate, Having been a reader of Lauren North’s previous book, The Perfect Son, despite it being a book not of my usual genre, and really enjoying it, I was more than happy to read this new one, not least because it comes out on my birthday!
Gripped.
That’s what I was, with this book.
Imagine being a busy, A & E doctor, as well as a wife, and mother to two young children, with the horror of a stalker to add to the mix?
That is the life of fear and exhaustion that the main character Jenna is facing.
Every time she goes anywhere, the feeling that she is being watched.
Each time she opens her emails to find threat filled messages.
Whenever she opens the front door. or goes to the garden, the thought that another ‘gift’ may be left.
At least she can keep her family safe in the house… until she finds out he’s been inside.
Then, as she begins to piece together evidence, and works out who this person might be, she ends up having to treat him after he is brought in with life-threatening injuries.
I really enjoyed the book, and every time I thought I’d pieced together the mystery, something else was thrown into the mix to twist the story further.
Recommended read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 3rd September, 2020

All About Us

All About Us by Tom Ellen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How many times have you sat back and wondered ‘what if’?
Ben is having a personal crisis. The world and its aunt seems to have their lives all mapped out, from his wife, Daphne, to his old uni mucker, Herv. Everyone has goals and seems intent on getting there. Ben, however, is wallowing in a pool of self-pity. His dream of being a writer, following in the footsteps of his estranged father, seems increasingly unlikely. In fact, he is just not cut out fo this life. He’s no good for is wife, his friend, himself. Better than he walks away now, right, and steps into a relationship that was the ‘could-have-been’ in his life…
All About Us charts a Christmas Carol style tale of visitations into key points in Ben’s past, Could things really have been better if he’d done something different at these times?
It was an enjoyable read, and I especially felt for Ben, with regards to his mother. All those unspoken words, conversations that you wish you’d had when they were alive…
Oh, and, sometimes that old adage, that the grass is greener? It ain’t always true!
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ Stories for an arc, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 15th October, 2020

Atomic Love

Atomic Love by Jennie Fields
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Atomic Love is a literary thriller, based in the ’50s, about a young woman, Rosalind, a scientist, whose livelihood is left in tatters after the bomb in Hiroshima. Having been involved in the Manhatten project, and the development of the Atomic Bomb, she is scarred with the guilt of all those lost lives, and to top it off, she lost her love , who sold her under the river, and disappeared,
A few years later, she is working a simple job in a department store, when he comes back, to rekindle love, or to wreak havoc again?
Enter an FBI agent scarred from his own battles in the war, who needs her help.
What follows is a story filled with emotion and twists, as Rosalind’s life is turned upside down.
Will she turn to her ex-lover, and help him with his troubles, or will she succumb to the feelings that are developing for a certain FBI agent?
This isn’t my usual genre to read, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and found myself willing my eyes to stay awake to finish the book.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Michael Joseph UK for an Arc, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 3rd September, 2020

Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You

Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having thoroughly enjoyed books like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and seeing that parallels had been drawn, I was intrigued by the blurb, about an octogenarian, Eudora Honeysett, who is contemplating an end of life clinic in Switzerland, to be her final stop on this planet, having no one around to care.
What a fantastic book!
I loved Eudora, the staid eighty-five-year-old, who has her simple days planned out and fancies sorting her end out too, so she doesn’t become a burden upon anyone else, or have to suffer, like her own mother.
But, then along comes Rose, a ten-year-old whirlwind, who enters her life as a new neighbour, and who injects the affection into Eudora’s life. Something she’s been missing.
And I can’t forget Stanley, the fellow octogenarian widower, who craves company but has never quite got the response from Eudora, that he hoped for.
The story flits back to Eudora’s childhood formative years and key points in her past that have shaped her.
It was a heartwarming read, showing that it’s never too late to form meaningful relationships.
I really loved it.
Many thanks to NetGalley. Harper Collins and One More Chapter for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 17th September, 2020

Second Chance Lane by Nicola Marsh

Second Chance Lane by Nicola Marsh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Second Chance Lane is my second read by author Nicola Marsh and a very different read to the one I read before.
Tash is living her simple life as a single mother to young Teen Isla, in her small backwater village of a hometown. No one knows the details of the father of her child, Isla included, and she plans on keeping it that way.
Until he rocks up at the house next door. Kody Lansdowne is Australia’s Rock Golden Boy. From humble beginnings, he, and his rich band have conquered the world, these past thirteen years, but nothing can prepare him for the news that he is a father. To a teenager.
Jane is fed up of her reputation as the village homewrecker. After years of putting on aa facade, her resolve crumbles, as. she finds it harder to cope with the way she is viewed by the locals, and her mother doesn’t help matters either. Then up rocks Morgan. Nerd from school who she had no time, for, but he’s not so much of a nerd now.
Second Chance Lane is a wonderfully written story, a Rural Second Chance Romance (or two of them in one book!) I enjoyed reading the story and loved the twists and turns. taken to get two couples so obviously right for each other, to realise, and get it on!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia, HQ & MIRA for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Releasing 7th October, 2020

The Chalet by Catherine Cooper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A captivating read!
Set in the French Alps, at a ski resort, The Chalet focuses on a tragedy that occurred in the past and moves fluidly back and forth between then, and the present, to bring the story to its conclusion.
An impromptu break for two brothers and their girlfriends in the late 90s begins well but ends in chaos as an awful tragedy occurs and the story that follows takes us through the minds of several people supposedly not connected, but in reality, they are, entwined with the death of a man, in the most complex ways.
The Chalet is an excellent psychological thriller and a fantastic debut for Catherine Cooper.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 31st October, 2020

The Boy Toy by Nicola Marsh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thirty-seven-year-old Samira has moved back to Melbourne after years of living her own life in LA, following a painful divorce that left her reeling from the lack of support from her local Indian community.
It didn’t help that she herself was a product of a mixed marriage, with an Indian mother and an American father.
Fast forward over a decade, and she’s back, on the pretext of helping her cousin, Pia, out with her new business.
What she didn’t count on was meeting a young Aussie hunk on pretty much the first night she’s back in town.
It’s not often I come across a novel that leaves me nodding my head in agreement to much of it, but as a British born Indian, I related to a lot of scenarios covered in The Boy Toy.
I wasn’t only nodding my head, but laughing aloud, in parts, as I recalled going through similar events.
The Boy Toy covers some big issues, in an extremely light-hearted way, an easy read, with the chance of being educational to those Westerners who aren’t familiar with the Indian culture, bar eating curry at the local Indian restaurant!
Mixed race relationships and marriage, infertility, pregnancy out of wedlock, and dealing with a verbal disability, a stutter, all feature in this book. Oh, and rather a lot of naughty scenes!
And reading the taster of a Man Ban, and finding out that a certain, rather tasty Doctor from this book is featuring, I am sure I’ll be reading that too!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for an Arc, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 17th November, 2020

Fifteen books… not bad for the last few weeks of term, and a productive reading month, at that!

Which one tickles your fancy?

Writers, Have You Heard About The Occupation Thesaurus? (And a GIVEAWAY!) @WriterThesaurus @AngelaAckerman @beccapuglisi

Hi everyone! Today I have something fun to share…a special chance to win some help with your writing bills.

Awesome, right?

Some of you may know Angela Ackerma and Becca Puglisi of Writers Helping Writers.

Well, today they are releasing a new book, and I’m part of their street team. I’m handing the blog over to them so they can tell you about their Writer’s Showcase event, new book, and a great freebie to check out. Read on!

Certain details can reveal a lot about a character, such as their goals, desires, and backstory wounds. But did you know there’s another detail that can tie your character’s arc to the plot, provide intense, multi-layered conflict, AND shorten the “get to know the character” curve for readers?

It’s true. Your character’s occupation is a GOLD MINE of storytelling potential.


Think about it: how much time do you spend on the job? Does it fulfill you or frustrate you? Can you separate work from home? Is it causing you challenges, creating obstacles…or bringing you joy and helping you live your truth?


Just like us, most characters will have a job, and the work they do will impact their life.

The ups and downs can serve us well in the story.

Maybe you haven’t thought much about jobs in the past and how they act as a window into your character’s personality, interests, and skills.

It’s okay, you aren’t alone.

The good news is that The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers is going to do all the heavy lifting for you. (Here’s one of the job profiles we cover in this book: FIREFIGHTER.)

GIVEAWAY ALERT: THE WRITER’S SHOWCASE

To celebrate the release of a new book, Writers Helping Writers has a giveaway happening July 20th & July 23rd.

You can win some great prizes, including gift certificates that can be spent on writing services within our Writer’s Showcase.

Stop by to enter!

Resource Alert: A List of Additional Jobs Profiles for Your Characters

Some of the amazing writers in our community have put together additional career profiles for you, based on jobs they have done in the past.

What a great way to get accurate information so you can better describe the roles and responsibilities that go with a specific job, right? To access this
list, GO HERE.

Happy writing to all!

And as A STREET MEMBER, I was given early access to this fantastic resource… I am making sure the order is in for the hard copy, to add to my Thesaurii collection!

The Occupation Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman

The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers by Angela Ackerman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having purchased all the other Thesaurus books in this fantastic set of resources, I jumped at the chance to be able to read an ARC of the Occupation Thesaurus.
If all we wrote about, was what we know, then our characters would be a bunch of people with not very diverse backgrounds and jobs, but lo and behold, we now have a resource that will help us to find the perfect job for our characters, and a list of responsibilities, situations, characteristics required, personality traits, etc. to help us delve into a career we may have no previous knowledge of.
Knowing an occupation, in detail, can really enhance your character, within a story. The place they work, and the job they do can affect them emotionally, and mentally, so having this new thesaurus to help piece together information to flesh out your character’s background is priceless, and can even give you catalysts for behaviours and incidents in your story.
I can’t wait for the hard copy to be available to order, because I’ll be putting my order in straight away on the 20th July! Updated – It’s arrived!!!

Previous Older Entries

My interactive peeps!

Peeps are reading in…

Flag Counter
%d bloggers like this: