Song by Michelle Jana Chan #BlogTour (@michellejchan) @unbounders @annecater #Giveaway #Song #RandomThingsTours

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“Song is just a boy when he sets out from Lishui village in China. Brimming with courage and ambition, he leaves behind his impoverished broken family hoping he’ll make his fortune and return home. Chasing tales of sugarcane, rubber and gold, Song embarks upon a perilous voyage across the globe to the British colony of Guiana, but once there he discovers riches are not so easy to come by and he is forced into labouring as an indentured plantation worker.

This is only the beginning of Song’s remarkable life, but as he finds himself between places and between peoples, and increasingly aware that the circumstances of birth carry more weight than accomplishments or good deeds, Song fears he may live as an outsider forever.

This beautifully written and evocative story spans nearly half a century and half the globe, and though it is set in another century, Song’s story of emigration and the quest for an opportunity to improve his life is timeless.”

Isn’t the cover of this book just beautiful? It is so gorgeous and colourful, I have to have a physical copy to grace my bookshelf and you get an enthralling, epic journey of a story inside to boot.

To celebrate publication of this wonderful book, we have one copy to give away. To be in with a chance of winning, simply leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me which is your favourite ever book cover. The winner will be picked at random. UK ENTRIES ONLY PLEASE.

If you are not lucky enough to win the copy, you can buy the book here.

Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for offering me a place on the tour and to the author and publisher, Unbound, for my copy of the book and the copy for the competition.

If you would like to read some reviews of the book. please follow the tour below:

Song Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

Michelle Chan Author Picture

 Michelle Jana Chan is an award-winning journalist and travel editor of Vanity Fair. She’s also contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveller, presenter of the BBC’s Global Guide and a writer for the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and Travel & Leisure. Michelle has been named the Travel Media Awards’ Travel Writer of the Year. She was a Morehead-Cain scholar at the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Connect with Michelle:

Website: http://michellejanachan.com

Facebook: M J Chan

Twitter: @michellejchan

Instagram: @michellejchan

Goodreads: Michelle Jana Chan

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Butterfly Ranch by R.K. Salters #BlogTour #BookReview (@Descend_Orpheus) @matadorbooks @annecater #Giveaway #ButterflyRanch #RandomThingsTours

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“Tristan Griffin is a household name and the author of a universally popular detective series. For the past few years he has lived in self-exile in a remote jungle lodge nestled in the Mayan hills of Southern Belize, with his partner Hedda. Butterfly Ranch begins as he attempts suicide and Hedda disappears. Altamont Stanbury, an old Kriol police constable posted to the local backwater of San Antonio, rushes to the scene with his daughter Philomena, the village nurse.

Philomena saves Tristan but he remains unconscious. Altamont, a bumbler and long-time reader of crime novels, launches a half-hearted search for Hedda by radio but decides to remain at the lodge. In truth his reverence for Tristan the writer consumes all else, and he becomes obsessed with the Griffin books he finds at the lodge.

When Tristan comes to, he is distraught and at times delirious, haunted by flashbacks of his uncompromising, cursed love for Hedda and the dark secret behind her disappearance. His anger and increasingly erratic behaviour only find respite in the presence of Altamont s innocent daughter. But he feels nothing but spite for Altamont himself, and the relationship between the two threatens to have fatal consequences for one or both.”

Today on the blog I am reviewing the debut novel by R K Sakters, Butterfly Ranch. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Matador and the author for my copy of the book.

From the blurb of this book, you might be forgiven for thinking it is a straight-forward thriller, albeit it set in an exotic part of the world not much used for that type of novel, but you would be wrong. Although with a dramatic mystery at its heart, Butterfly Ranch is so much more and I was astonished to discover that this is a debut by the author.

For me, reading this book is a little like walking through someone else’s dream. A jumble of current events interwoven with flashbacks which tell the story of the mystery happening in the present with regard to the missing Hedda, whilst simultaneously slowly unveiling the history of Hedda and Tristan’s turbulent relationship. The melange unfolds in a disconnected way which added to the air of unreality which permeated the book and I truly was taken out of myself and the every day world which I inhabit whilst I was reading it, not just to another country but also to a slightly altered mental state. (I’m not sure if I have explained that very well. I was reading it late at night!)

The setting of the isolated, decrepit ranch in the dense, stifling jungle of Belize, combined with the repressive atmosphere preceding the imminent hurricane gave the novel a tense, oppressive, almost dangerous mood which enhanced the tension of the thriller aspect of the book and kept me feeling on edge throughout, which I find a positive trait in a thriller novel (although not in life!). The author does a wonderful job of bringing the book’s setting to life, his descriptions are evocative and richly drawn, the world is really vivid and immersive.

There is a small cast of characters, which allows us to get to know them intimately over the course of the book. The bored and bumbling PC who is obsessed with crime novels and is more concerned with discussing Tristan’s work than solving the mystery of the missing Hedda. His daughter, Philomena, only semi-trained but already more dynamic and assured that her father will ever be, seeing him through new eyes as the situation unfolds and she has to take charge. Hedda’s sister and her complicated feelings about her  relationship with her missing twin. All are explored in depth, along with the central relationship between Tristan and the missing Hedda; they all really jump off the page as real, flawed, interesting, but not necessarily likeable, characters. This book focuses a lot on family dynamics and how complicated and shifting these can be. The book also deals with complex issues of mental illness, self harm and destructive relationships.

The pace of the book is leisurely and languorous, unveiling the mystery slowly and with consideration – it is definitely not fast paced and action-packed – but this perfectly mirrors the sultry, tropical setting and the inch by inch exploration and revelation of the background emotions and events. This is not a book of quick, cheap thrills, but rewards a more cerebral and considered examination. It is not at all what I was expecting, but it was extremely rewarding to read and it is a novel that will linger in my mind and which I will mull over for some time to come.

Butterfly Ranch is out now and you can buy a copy here.

The author is hosting a giveaway of five signed copies of the book over on Twitter so, to be in with a chance, please follow this link and leave your smilie on the pinned tweet!

Butterfly Ranch Giveaway

To catch up with the rest of the blog tour, visit the fabulous blogs below and see what they thought of the book:

butterfly ranch

About the Author

RK Salters - Author Picture

RK Salters grew up in Paris in the 1970s to an Irish émigré father and French mother. He is himself an exile of sorts, having left the roost to study abroad and subsequently lived in a number of countries. His approach to writing is eclectic, drawing influences from classic and contemporary, genre and literary fiction alike, across both sides of the Atlantic.

He is now settled in Lithuania (Baltics), where he earlier met his future wife while exploring the collapsing Soviet Union. He is a passionate traveller and an expedition in Belizean jungles provided the setting for Butterfly Ranch, his first novel.

Connect with the author:

Twitter: @Descend_Orpheus

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One Summer Weekend by Juliet Archer #BlogTour #BookReview (@julietarcher) @ChocLituk @RaRaResources #Giveaway #OneSummerWeekend #NetGalley

One Summer Weekend

Today I am closing up the blog tour for One Summer Weekend, the new novella by Juliet Archer. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour and to NetGalley and ChocLit for the copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. We have a giveaway of paperback copies of two of Juliet’s previous books below so make sure you scroll to the bottom of the review to enter.

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“One summer weekend can change everything …

Alicia Marlowe’s life as an executive coach is well under control – until she meets her new client, Jack Smith. Jack’s reputation precedes him and Alicia knows immediately that he spells trouble. Not least because he reminds her of someone else – a man who broke her heart and made her resolve never to lower her guard again.

Taking Jack on as a client is a risk, but one that Alicia decides to take for the good of her career. As long as she keeps him in his place, she might just make it through unscathed. But Jack has other ideas – including a ‘business’ trip to the Lake District. One summer weekend with him is all it takes to put Alicia’s carefully organised world in a spin …”

This book is a short and sweet summertime read about misconceptions, hang ups and reluctant attraction. Alicia has a troubled romantic past and has no intention of getting involved with a man again, especially a client, and especially one with as bad a reputation as Jack Smith. But you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the gossip columns.

This story is told from Alicia’s perspective (I believe there is a sequel coming which is Jack’s take on the story) so is entirely coloured by her world view and life experiences and, boy, is she quick to jump to conclusions! In fact, she’s made up her mind about Jack before she even meets him and doesn’t really give him a chance. She came across to me as a bit pompous and judgmental to begin with, but the reasons for that become a little more obvious as the story unfolds.

Jack was easy to like and he made me wish Alicia would give him the benefit of the doubt, which was the point of the story. It does not delve too deeply into his history and I feel there is more to Jack than we discover in this book, so I’m looking forward to the sequel.

The setting of the story – mainly in the beautiful Lake District – was wonderful, the author did a great job bringing its splendour to life and I was charmed by the whole section involving Bill and Midge in their holiday home (the book cover perfectly encapsulated how I imagined their cottage to look in my mind). I was less happy about how dire she made the location of Jack’s factory sound; it was a bit of a stereotype of  a ‘it’s grim up North’ industrial town that, as a Northern girl, I didn’t entirely appreciate but it is a minor niggle and I’m guessing she did it to contrast with the beauty of the Lakes but it could have done with being reined in a tiny bit!

Despite being very short, Juliet packed a lot in to the book and made a good job of it not being too obvious what was going to happen. One twist I thought was coming didn’t and then the book took a completely unexpected turn, so it kept me on my toes which is refreshing in a book of this nature. On the down side, given how much Alicia banged on about professionalism, I was surprised and a bit unconvinced about how quickly she herself abandoned these principles but, this is a summer romance not a gritty real-life memoir so I decided to go with it and enjoy it for what it is.

This book is a short and easy read with a beautiful setting and likeable characters and enough action to keep you interested for the couple of hours it will take you to read it. If you are looking for something undemanding to take to your lounger on a lazy, summer afternoon, this book will be perfect and I’m looking forward to the sequel.

One Summer Weekend is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To enter the giveaway to win paperback copies of The Importance of Being Emma and Persuade Me, please click on the Rafflecopter Link below the cover images.

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http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c6949490/?

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Find the previous posts on the blog tour below:

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About the Author

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Juliet Archer writes award-winning romantic comedy for Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction. She has been known to spend many happy hours matching irresistible heroes with their equally irresistible chocolate counterparts – watch out for the dark nutty ones!

Her debut novel, The Importance of Being Emma, won the Big Red Read Book of the Year 2011 Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the 2009 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. Her second novel, Persuade Me, was shortlisted for the 2011 Festival of Romance Best Romantic Read Award.

Juliet’s third book, One Summer Weekend, is out in June 2018. You can also read her short stories: Incense & Insensibility in the Choc Lit Love Match anthology, and Love Rules in Choc Lit’s Kisses & Cupcakes anthology.

Juliet was born and bred in North-East England and now lives in Hertfordshire. She gives talks all over the UK and in the USA about the classic authors who inspire her work. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Jane Austen Society. Her non-writing career has spanned IT, acquisitions analysis, copy editing, marketing and project management, providing plenty of first-hand research for her novels.

Connect with Juliet:

Website: http://www.julietarcher.com

Facebook: Juliet Archer

Twitter: @julietarcher

Instagram: @julietarcher

Goodreads: Juliet Archer

Confessions of a First Time Mum by Poppy Dolan #BookReview (@PoppyDwriter) @canelo_co #ConfessionsOfAFirstTimeMum #NetGalley

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“Stevie’s life has changed beyond recognition since having her first baby. Stevie loves being a mum, but between the isolation and being vomited on five times a day, she really wishes she had someone to talk to.

With husband Ted working hard to keep the family afloat, Stevie really doesn’t want to burden him with her feelings. Turning to the internet, Stevie starts the anonymous First-Time Mum blog and blasts the rose-tinted glasses of parenthood right off her readers.

In the real world, Stevie meets the formidable Nelle and gorgeous Will, along with their own little treasures, and starts to realise that being a ‘perfect mum’ isn’t everything. But when the secret blog goes viral, Stevie must make some tough choices about who she wants to be, and whether she’s ready for the world to know the truth…”

This book is going to ring very loud, funny and sometimes cringe-inducing bells for any woman who has ever had a baby.

My eldest daughter is thirteen and my youngest is now ten, so it has been a while since I was a new mum, but the memories of those early days are still clear and it seems not much has changed in the intervening years if this book is anything to go by. So many of the events in this book brought back those days and made me laugh out loud, especially the ‘poo-splosion’ incident. On my very first trip out of the house after my first daughter was born, when she was about a week old, I experienced one of these in the Mamas and Papas at Birstall Retail Park and I was ill-equipped to deal with public excretions of that magnitude, given my rookie status. We still talk about it – my daughter had a mass of curly hair when she was born that was very absorbent…

I recognised myself in the heroine (which is definitely the word for every mum there ever was) of this book, Stevie, fumbling her way blindly through the mystery that is parenthood when you first take your very first baby home. I remember so well those feelings of ineptitude, loneliness and failure, because you are now in charge of a whole person that you don’t yet know, don’t understand and who doesn’t come with an instruction manual. It can be a scary time. Stevie tries to manage some of these feelings and frustrations, particularly in the small, dark hours of the night when you feel like you are the only soul on earth awake and worries are magnified a thousand-fold in the silence, by expressing her feelings on a blog that she believes no one else is reading. However, she soon finds out that nothing is ever private in cyberspace and she is perhaps not alone after all.

Mummy bloggers weren’t a thing when my children were babies, but the rise of parenting blogs is a phenomenon that has not passed me by in recent years and this book does a lovely job of exploring the highs and potential lows of baring your soul, warts and all, to the world. I really felt for Stevie – her struggles are the struggles of all new mums but exacerbated by the fact that she is sharing them with the world and loses control of who is privy to those humiliating moments and thoughts and what their reaction to them will be. A cautionary tale for all bloggers perhaps, but it also brings friendship and support – something I can definitely relate to as a member of the ever friendly and supportive book blogging community.

This is a great fun read, studded with nuggets of painful truth about parenthood and I really enjoyed it.

Confessions of a First Time Mum is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to NetGalley and Canelo for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

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Poppy Dolan is in her mid thirties and lives in Berkshire with her husband. She’s a near-obsessive baker and a keen crafter, so on a typical weekend can be found moving between the haberdashery and kitchenware floors of a department store, adding to her birthday wish list. She has written four previous novels: The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp, There’s More to Life than Cupcakes, The Bluebell Bunting Society and most recently The Woolly Hat Knitting Club.

Connect with Poppy:

Website: http://poppydolan.com

Facebook: Poppy Dolan

Twitter: @poppydwriter

Instagram: #poppydolan

Goodreads: Poppy Dolan

Letters To My Daughters by Emma Hannigan #BookReview @bookish_becky @headlinepg #LettersToMyDaughters #NetGalley

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Her three girls were her world. It was time to let them know.

To sisters Bea, Jeannie and Rose, the death of their beloved childhood nanny is a devastating loss. As the girls grew up, Nanny May had become so much more to them all: confidant, advocate, comforter, friend. In whom will they confide their hopes, fears and failures now she has gone? Especially now each sister needs a mother’s wisdom more than ever…

Martha cannot understand why her daughters are so upset about losing their childhood nanny. Yes, Martha was always in demand as a busy midwife, but that doesn’t mean she loved her own children any less. But why don’t the girls realise that? And has she left it too late to let them know…?”

I’ve had my cursor hovering over this post for the past two days, wondering where to start with this review. I’ve felt such pressure to do the book justice, given the circumstances of its publication, that it has rather crippled me and dried up my creative juices. Does anyone else ever get that? A form of performance anxiety I suppose. In the end, I’ve decided I will just have to approach it as I would any other book review and try to convey my honest opinion, leaving any emotion aside.

I have to admit that, before all the publicity surrounding Emma’s illness last year, she was not an author that had been on my radar and I haven’t read any of her other books. Having finished Letters To My Daughters, I think this is a crying shame because her writing style is warm and charming but also perceptive and beguiling. I’m a huge admirer of a number of Irish writers and I’m ashamed that I haven’t discovered Emma’s work until now. I’m planning on catching up with her back catalogue and I hope that I can contribute something towards giving this book a wide audience in the UK. It certainly deserves it.

This is the story of a family – mother, father and three sisters – growing up in a seaside suburb of Dublin. They are a fairly ordinary family, insofar as any family is ordinary, which of course none of us really are because we all have our own family quirks, anomalies and internal tensions and, whilst these might seem unexciting on the face of things, they are the source of so much fascinating revelations that make up the backbone  of great commercial fiction. This family is no different in being very different behind their polite social facade.

Social facades are a big theme in this book. To Martha, the matriarch, what the outside world thinks of her and her family (or, more specifically, the way her family reflects on her) is all consuming, to the detriment of everyone else. Her daughters seem to have been influenced by her behaviour to the point that each of them has acted in a way that panders to an outward perception of how they should behave, rather than being true to themselves. However, the death of their family nanny sets in motion a chain of events that blows their facades apart and is a catalyst for seismic changes in the family structure.

This is a book about the importance of family and relationships and having real love and support in your life. This family, outwardly, seems to have everything you could want but, none of that means anything if your relationships aren’t happy. Being honest with yourself and admitting to yourself and others when things don’t work is a central tenet of the story and the happy ending only comes when everyone stops pretending. It also dwells on the issue of what family bonds are, and do they come from blood or do we find them through love, whatever the source of that love might be. Family is a complicated issue in the modern world and this book explores that subject in an interesting way throughout and over several different story strands.

The characters in this book are all very well drawn and believable. As the eldest of four girls, I was very taken with the relationship between the sisters and how they are all there for each other, no matter what, although there are still things they individually feel they can’t share, due to their own internal hang ups. The relationships were totally authentic to me, reflecting the kind of feelings I have towards my own sisters, to whom I am very close, and this was the part of the book that was most appealing.

Oddly, given she is the hardest character to warm to and understand in the book, Martha is the one is probably most true to herself throughout. She is certainly an extreme personality but the author did a good job of giving her behaviour an emotional grounding that made her slightly more sympathetic than she might have been in less competent hands. I also appreciated the way that everything was not tied up so neat and happy at the conclusion of the book, as life isn’t like that. It is messy and difficult and disappointing and a book that an author wants a reader to believe in should reflect that. This isn’t a fairytale, it’s a slice of life that I savoured to the end.

This book was a warm, easy read that carried me along effortlessly through the pages, buried deep and obliviously as I was in the lives of the protagonists. Given what the author was going through while she wrote it, this is a remarkable feat and added another level of poignancy to the story, which is bittersweet. Despite the ease of reading it, the story was complex and rich and woven through with emotion and is an extremely rewarding read that deserves a wide audience. I hope it gets it.

Letters To My Daughters is out on 28 June and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to NetGalley and Headline for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About The Author

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Letters to my Daughters is the twelfth novel from beloved and bestselling author Emma Hannigan.

Letters to my Daughters spent four weeks at Number One in the Original Fiction bestseller chart in Ireland on publication in 2018. Emma’s novels The Perfect Gift and The Wedding Promise were also Number One bestsellers in Ireland. The Secrets We Share won the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Epic Romantic Novel award. Emma won Woman of the Year in the literature category of the Irish Tatler Women of the Year awards and was shortlisted twice for an Irish Book award. Emma published her bestselling memoir Talk to the Headscarf in 2011, which was updated and extended in 2017 as All to Live For: Fighting Cancer. Finding Hope and was a top ten bestseller in Ireland.

In 2005, Emma discovered that she had the BRCA1 gene mutation which carries an 85 per cent risk of developing breast cancer and a 50 per cent risk of developing ovarian cancer. In 2007 she was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time and her eleven-year battle with cancer began. As an ambassador for Breast Cancer Ireland Emma worked hard to dispel the fears around cancer and spread hope about new treatments. In February 2018 Emma shared with her readers that her dedicated team of doctors had exhausted all avenues in terms of her treatment. In Emma’s final days, she launched a social media campaign #HelpEmmaHelpOthers to raise €100,000 for Breast Cancer Ireland. Two weeks later, shortly before her death, Emma revealed that her target had been reached.

Sadly, Emma passed away on 3 March 2018 at the age of 45.

The Flowerpot Witch (A Wendy Woo Witch Lit Novel Book 3) by Wendy Steele #BlogTour #BookReview (@WendyWooauthor) @RaRaResources #Giveaway #BookBlog #BookBloggers

The Flowerpot Witch

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Flowerpot Witch by Wendy Steele and I want to say a big thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part. Make sure you scroll down to the end of the review to enter a giveaway for one of three copies of the book.

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“Lizzie Martin has chosen pottery to be her new career…

But the teacher from hell threatens to thwart her ambitions before she starts.

She has support from her best friend Louise and Evan, another pottery tutor, but Rowan, her fifteen year old daughter is restless, Josh, her ex-husband is colluding with her aunt and though her mother is alive, access to her is forbidden. When The Morrigan appears in her sacred circle, Lizzie knows she has a battle on her hands.

There is hope though.

Stardust the chicken brings a new creature into Lizzie’s life and a long awaited meeting with her Aunt Matilda brings Lizzie’s past into perspective.

Lizzie’s magic ventures beyond The Sanctuary, into the Welsh landscape and the realms of the fae.”

As soon as I saw the cover of this book I knew I had to read it. I just love the cartoony witch legs and that cat reminds me of my own dusky ‘familiar’, Barney. Isn’t he handsome?

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However, the cover of this book is deceptive and it turned out not be be what I expected at all. It was far more deep and complicated than the light-hearted read I was expecting and dealt with a very twisted family history and mature relationship issues which took a lot more concentration than I had anticipated.

Lizzie Martin is a witch, but not in a storybook, fantasy sense but a proper, modern day pagan sense which is not really reflected in the fun cover of the book. She lives her life fully in accordance with these principles and that theme of the book was absolutely fascinating to me. I’m really intrigued by aspects of these practices, particularly the Tarot, and really enjoyed reading a novel that approached these issues as valid themes to be explored seriously, not treated with disdain or dismissal or as a comic element. I wish more books approached different beliefs with an open mind, it would make the world a much more tolerant and happy place!

Aside from the magical element, the book focuses mainly on relationship’s between Lizzie and her family and friends. Lizzie’s family is extremely complicated and, unfortunately, I found this history a little difficult to sort out because this is book three in a series and I have not read books and and two where it would appear a lot of the history has been established. I would say that reading these books in order is essential to get the most enjoyment out of them as I spent a lot of mental energy trying to work out who everyone was and what had happened in the past that influenced their behaviour. There is some attempt at including back story to explain things but it did not work effectively for me, and there were a huge number of characters referred to in the opening chapters will minimal introduction, which was confusing. I think I managed to get it all sorted out eventually, but not until the very end of the book and the time spent trying to work it all out prevented me getting engaged with the book in the way I would have liked to from the beginning and I could not fully relax into it.

That being said, the main characters in the book are appealing and likeable and I warmed to them immediately. The relationship between Lizzie and her teenage daughter, Rowan, was beautifully drawn and completely authentic to me as mother/step-mother to five daughters, the eldest two just reaching this age. I could totally relate to the  energies and issues between them. Lizzie’s struggles as a single mum trying to balance the needs of her daughter, trying to start a business, a new relationship and the needs of friends and family is so familiar to me, and her resentment at constantly having to put her own needs and desires last with no one to consider what she might want is one any mother can relate to I am sure. We all need to channel a bit of The Morrigan from time to time, I think!

I was left at the end of the book wanting to know what happens next with regard to Lizzie’s family issues and her new relationship, which I am still not sure about, and I will go back and read the first two books in the series. I found this a refreshingly original book with a magical theme explored in a way very different to anything in the mainstream. The book leapt around a bit in parts in a way that made it a little confusing at times and I would say it is essential to read books one and two to get the most out of this but the book is definitely appealing and I look forward to another one, I hope.

The Flowerpot Witch is out now and you can buy a copy here. You can buy Book One, The Naked Witch here. Book Two in the series is The Orphan Witch can be purchased here.

To enter the draw to win one of three copies of this book, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c6949492/?

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

If you would like to follow the rest of the blog tour, the details are below:

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About the Author

The Flower Pot Witch - Wendy

Wendy Steele is author, wise woman, goddess. She is writer, dance teacher, mother and healer. 

Her passion is magic.

‘The Lilith Trilogy’ leads the reader along the paths of the witches Qabalah, following Angel Parson’s story of betrayal, retribution and redemption. Her magical story contains high magic as well as pagan ritual. 

‘The Standing Stone Book Series’ focuses on the lives of three women linked together across time and space by the standing stone. The countryside is the focus of their magic, embracing the gods and goddesses, tree spirits, elves and fairies. 

Her latest series, The Wendy Woo Witch Lit Series, begins with The Naked Witch. Lizzie Martin, receptionist, single mother and witch, is asked by her new boss to conform and embrace the corporate dress code. The reality of paisley to pin stripe, an unexpected stay in hospital, monitoring of her fourteen year old daughter’s latest crush, the search for the truth about her father’s death and two new men in her life, give Lizzie plenty of plates to spin. In the Orphan Witch, Lizzie is grieving while trying to find her real mother and the truth about her father and in the third book, The Flowerpot Witch, due to be published on 21st June, she embarks on a new career, thwarted at every step by those around her. 

You can hear Wendy telling her short stories in Pan’s Grotto on her Welsh riverbank, on her YouTube channel, The Phoenix and the Dragon.

Wendy’s non-fiction title ‘Wendy Woo’s Year – A Pocketful of Smiles’ offers the reader 101 ideas to bring a smile to every day.

Wendy lives in Wales with her partner, Mike, and cats. If she’s not writing or teaching dance, you’ll find her renovating her house, clearing her land or sitting on her riverbank, breathing in the beauty of nature.

Connect with Wendy:

Website: https://wendysteele.com

Facebook: Wendy Steele

Twitter: @WendyWooauthor

Goodreads: Wendy Steele

The Date by Louise Jensen #BookReview (@Fab_fiction) @bookouture #PublicationDay #TheDate #NetGalley #FictionCafeWriters

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“One night can change everything. 

‘I know it as soon as I wake up and open my eyes… Something is wrong.’

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future. By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her. 

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her. She can’t recognise her friends and family. And she can’t recognise the person who is trying to destroy her… “

Publication Day for the fourth book by my fellow Fiction Cafe Writer, Louise Jensen. Happy publication day, Louise, I hope it has been fabulous.

My partner doesn’t read fiction and we often have conversations where we discuss why I love it and he doesn’t. His main argument seems to be that he doesn’t see the point of reading ‘made up stories’ and he likes to read non-fiction. Putting aside my counter-argument as to why he doesn’t feel the same about the sometimes ridiculously OTT movies and TV shows he is prepared to watch (also, made up stories!), the main thrust of my rebuttal would be that good fiction books will always hold some kernel of truth about the world and human experience. Without that, we can’t relate to them and they won’t draw us in, and I have learned a lot from a well-researched book, even if it is fiction.

This book is a case in point. Before I saw the pre-release information about this book and heard the author talking about it, I had never heard of prosopagnosia or facial blindness, never mind how common it is. This is a fascinating hook for the book to revolve on and the author has done a great job of portraying the daily hurdles that someone suffering from this condition has to contend with and the hardships that brings. Imagine not being able to recognise your own face, or the people you love. How would you be able to trust that people are who they say they are? I found the whole subject, and how the main characters learns skills to compensate fascinating.

This is also a really powerful premise on which to base a psychological thriller and this one does not disappoint. If you have read any of Louise’s books before, you will know what to expect and I think her writing is just getting better and better. This book twists and turns like an eel, you think you know what is happening but then she throws another curveball at you, and then another, until your head is spinning right up until the final chapter.

The real skill of this book is making something disturbing out of an every day environment, making the reader believe that this could actually be happening to someone they know, in their street. None of us know what goes on behind a suburban front door. You hear it every day in the papers when the neighbours of the latest villain to hit the front page are all interviewed and are surprised to hear what he/she is accused of because they always seemed so ‘quiet and normal’. Who knows what Mr. Jones from number 15 is up to in this garage? When might your path cross with his in a case of bad karma? These thoughts are more creepy to me than an exaggerated horror film because of the banal possibilities. It’s enough to give you nightmares and this author taps into that brilliantly.

I found the main characters in this book very relatable, more so perhaps than in Louise’s last book, which allowed me to be carried right into the heart of the story from the beginning. I really cared what happened to her and my heart was in my mouth, racing to the end of the novel as fast as possible to find out her fate. Pace of page-turning is the mark of a great thriller and my eyes and fingers were whirring, resenting the everyday intrusions that made me put the book down for the odd minute.

This is a great book in this genre, probably her best yet, and you should definitely pick up a copy today.

The Date is out today and you can buy a copy here.

If you want to know more about facial blindness, check out the video on Louise’s website.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

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Louise Jensen is the Global No.1 Bestselling author of psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift & The Surrogate.

To date Louise has sold approaching a million books and her novels have been sold for translation to nineteen territories, as well as being featured on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List.

Louise was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.

Connect with Louise:

Twitter: @fab_fiction
Goodreads: Louise Jensen

Disco Sour by Giuseppe Porcaro #BlogTour #BookReview (@porcarorama) @unbounders @annecater #DiscoSour #RandomThings Tours

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“A politician addicted to dating apps embarks on an existential odyssey to save democracy from being swiped away.

In the aftermath of a continental civil-war, nation-states have collapsed, the European Union™ holds on, preventing anarchy. 
Bastian Balthazar Bux is a leading member of The Federation®, the European network of civil society and local governments. Bastian has just been unexpectedly dumped through an app, the BreakupShop™ service. Heavy hearted, he just wants to drink, get on with work and forget his romantic woes. 

However, he discovers that Nathan Ziggy Zukowsky is planning to sell Plebiscitum®, a dating-style app that is meant to replace elections with a simple swipe, at the same conference he is invited to attend in Chile. Haunted by the ghosts of his recent relationship, he finds himself without his all-important Morph® phone, just a few hours before embarking on his trip to try to save democracy. 

Will he make it to his conference on the other side of the world? Will he stop Zukowsky from selling his app? And will he ever find a way to deal with his breakup?”

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Disco Sour by Giuseppe Porcaro. A big thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for allowing me to take part in the tour for this unique book.

One of the aims I had when I started volunteering for blog tours was to find new genres and books that I would not normally choose in a book store and to push my reading out of its comfort zone, to stretch my literary horizons. This book marks the zenith of that goal so far.

We are dropped into a dystopian future, around one thousand years from now, as seen through the eyes of the main protagonist, Bastian Balthazar Bux. There has been a civil war in Europe which has destroyed the previous political delineations and the new zones are struggling to set up a different type of society. Balthazar is head of a European organisation that is trying to establish its influence in the new world order and he must travel from Eastern Europe across the globe to a conference in Chile, where he will launch an initiative to cement his organisation’s place in the international arena, and prevent the adoption of a political system run entirely by technology that he fears will effectively destroy democracy. Are you with me so far?

Despite the importance of this mission, Balthazar is side-tracked by his love life. He has just been dumped by an app which effectively wipes all your relationship history and contact with your former partner – the ultimate form of ‘ghosting’ – and this leads him to reflect on his previous relationship with Janine. Throw in the journey from hell where he keeps missing flights, has no sleep, and the fact that he has lost his phone, which is an even more tragic event in a world entirely beholden to technology, and Balthazar is having a hellish time.

This book is rich soup of events, memories, flashbacks, virtual conversations, dreams and hallucinations that had my head spinning and trying to figure out which parts were real and which were delusions, which was the authors clever way of reflecting the increasingly disoriented state that Balthazar finds himself in during his nightmare trip. I have never done drugs and this book is about as close as I imagine I am going to get to tripping.

One of the main themes of the book is the increasing reliance on technology and how far we should let it take over our lives, the dangers of becoming dependent on it for everything to the point where there is no longer such a thing as free will. This has been explored in books and films before but, despite the feeling on general unreality in the narration of this book, its predictions feel all too scarily possible. This coupled with the background of a disintegration of Europe and how the resultant power struggle might play out brings the story uncomfortably close to home in the current political climate we find ourselves in. Whilst reading the book, I had the same sense of unease I felt when first reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the feeling that the dystopian future portrayed in the book was not beyond the realms of possibility.

The main difference between this and many other dystopian books is the strong thread of humour running through the novel. You could boil this book down to being a story of misadventure in travel (if you ignored all the surrounding political themes) and we all know how funny stories of travel mishaps can be. The dating disasters were also relatable and amusing, and the humour lifts the whole book to a lightness that makes reading about some serious and thought-provoking topics easier. The sugar encasing the pill.

This book isn’t going to be for everyone. It has a style and subject matter outside the mainstream which I think a lot of people will shy away from. There are elements that make it tricky to read (the constant inclusion of trademark and copyright symbols in the text is distracting and seems odd and unnecessary to begin with, disrupting the reading flow, which annoyed me until I got to the explanation for it a third of the way through). However, it is a book that pays off for anyone willing to put in the effort and it addresses a lot of topical and relevant issues for today and tomorrow.

Disco Sour is out now in both paperback and digital format and you can buy a copy here.

If you would like to follow the tour and get a different take on the book, here are the details:

Disco Sour Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

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As a political geographer, Giuseppe has always been interested in how the intersection between technology and politics is moving towards uncharted territories in the future. He has recently published a series of scientific articles about how the internet of things and algorithms will change policymaking. DISCO SOUR is his first experiment with fiction. it has been inspired by a mission to Chile he had in 2013. Back then, he was Secretary General of the European Youth Forum, the platform of youth organisations advocating for youth rights. And on his way to Santiago, he missed three connecting flights across two continents within the span of 72 hours.

Giuseppe works now as the head of communications for Bruegel, an international think tank specialised in economic policy. During the rest of the time, he DJs, reads, dreams, writes.

Connect with Giuseppe and Disco Sour:

Website: http://discosour.net

Facebook: Disco Sour

Twitter: @porcarorama

Instagram: @porcarorama

Goodreads: Giuseppe Porcaro

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The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane- Part One: New Beginnings by Emily Harvale #BookReview #BlogTour (@emilyharvale) @RaRaResources #LilyPondLane #NewBeginnings

Cottage on Lily Pond Lane Blog Tour

Happy to be taking my turn on the blog tour for Part one of Emily Harvale’s new series The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane today. Part One of the four part serial is called New Beginnings. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the tour.

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“Mia Ward is amazed to be told she has inherited her great-aunt Matilda’s thatched cottage in the tiny seaside village of Little Pondale – especially as Mia didn’t know she had a great-aunt Matilda.

She’s even more astonished to discover she’ll only inherit the place if she actually lives there for one year. Mia’s a city girl at heart, not to mention she’s afraid of water, so the fact the cottage backs on to a sandy beach, is not, in her opinion, a bonus.

But Mia’s struggling to pay her rent since being fired for inappropriate behaviour at the office party, and her boyfriend’s also dumped her. When her best friend, Ella and Ella’s brother, Garrick offer to help her move and settle in, Mia decides to see this as a new beginning.

It may also be the start of an exciting adventure because now Mia wants to know just who, exactly, was great-aunt Matilda. And she’s determined to find out. But it soon becomes clear that someone is trying to make sure Mia doesn’t stay in Little Pondale….”

This is part one of a four-part serialisation of Emily Harvale’s new book and, as such, it is a super quick read if you are looking for something to squeeze in to a lazy couple of hours in a sunny garden with a glass of Pimms to hand (this would be my highly recommended way of reading it!). I raced through it, largely because it is a great, fun read.

Mia stands to inherit Sunbeam Cottage on Lily Pond Lane in Little Pondale from an great-aunt she never knew existed if she lives in it for a year first. This doesn’t look like it is going to be any hardship since the cottage is gorgeous (I’d move in today, just for the attic) and backs right on to a sandy beach with sea views in the lovely village of Little Pondale that is packed to the rafters with gorgeous, single, rugby-playing bachelors. If she stays the year, she will also inherit a fortune. What a terrible burden!

So far, so preposterous but this book is so absolutely charming, cute and funny that you can forgive the stretch and suspend your disbelief enough to just sit back and enjoy the ride. We all love a bit of escapism from time to time, let’s face it. Emily then throws at us a nosy and annoying neighbour, the mystery of why Mia knew nothing about Great-Aunt Mattie but she seemed to know all about Mia and who will inherit the estate if Mia doesn’t see out the year so there is a great deal to pique the reader’s interest. Plus, did I mention the plethora of gorgeous, single rugby-playing bachelors yet? I did? Well, it bears repeating I think.

There are also hints that Little Pondale may not be quite the sleepy hamlet that Mia and her friends first assume with suggestions of paganism, curses and other shenanigans in store. A lot gets packed in to a short read.

I already have my suspicions about who the unknown beneficiary might be so I’ll be interested to see if I’m right. Roll on Part Two. Oh, look, it’s out now! Watch out for my review of that coming soon.

The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part One: New Beginnings is out now and you can buy a copy here. Part Two: Summer Secrets is also available now and can be purchased here.

If you would like to follow the rest of the blog tour, you can find the details below:

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About the Author

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Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now spends her days writing… and chatting on social media. Emily is a Member of the SoA, a PAN member of the RWA and a Pro Member of ALLi. She’s an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. Emily loves writing and her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.
Emily says, “I write about friendship, family and falling in love. I believe in happing endings.” When she isn’t writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies – and will do anything to avoid both.

Connect with Emily:

Website: https://www.emilyharvale.com/

Facebook: Emily Harvale Writer

Twitter: @emilyharvale

Instagram: @emilyharvale

 

Just by Jenny Morton Potts #BookReview #BlogTour (@jmortonpotts) @RaRaResources #Giveaway #BookBlog #BookBloggers

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I’m delighted to be on the opening day of the blog tour for Just by Jenny Morton Potts today and I want to say a big thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part. Make sure you scroll down to the end of the review to enter a giveaway for one of five copies of the book.

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How far would you go to save a life?

On golden Mediterranean sands, maverick doctor Scott Langbrook falls recklessly in love with his team leader, Fiyori Maziq. If only that was the extent of his falling, but Scott descends into the hellish clutches of someone much more sinister.

‘Just’ is a story of love and loss, of terror and triumph. Set in idyllic Cambridge and on the shores of the Med and Cornwall, our characters fight for their very lives on land and at sea. 

An unforgettable novel which goes to the heart of our catastrophic times, and seeks salvation.”

This is a difficult novel to categorise. It is described as a heart stopping thriller and at its basic core, that is what it is, but I felt it went beyond that. To me it seemed to be written very tongue in cheek which lifted it out of the general thriller genre and into something unique of of its own. Suffice it to say, this is very different to anything else I have read, to the point I can’t actually think of anything to liken it to, which is refreshing.

This is a book that takes a little while to warm up and draw you in and I think that is partly because it jumps around very quickly from location to location and character to character, so it takes a while for the reader to make a connection to the individuals in the story. The timeline is also jerky and disjointed, hopping from date to date in uneven leaps. The plot twists and turns and ends up in unexpected places and you need to do some work on occasion to work out how it got there. It is a book you really need to concentrate on to keep up with what is happening to each character at any given moment. It is not a particularly restful book, not for a lazy brain or a period of desired idleness of thought; it requires an investment of thought, a stretching of the cerebral matter but I think this is warranted and to be encouraged, given the subject matter and it is worth the investment of effort.

The characters are complex and, save for Scott, not necessarily particularly likeable but this does not prevent us being drawn into their stories, because they are realistically flawed and intriguing. I was left at the end still with some ambiguous feelings for a couple of them, but this just fitted in with the whole tone of the book. Nothing about fits into a neat and easy box that you can just close the lid on once you are done. It leaves you with as many questions as it answers and I was thinking about it long after I finished the final page.

The subject matter of the book is topical and very relevant, but does not make for easy reading and the author does not shy away from giving us the full visceral experience of the scenes she is describing. Some of the language is blunt and earthy and readers should prepare themselves for that but it is totally justified, not gratuitous and the author really brings the scenes to life, scenes which we may as people in our comfy, safe havens be aware of but shy away from imagining too vividly. The author isn’t allowing us to do that, she is slapping us in the face with some harsh and unpleasant realities that make for uncomfortable but possibly necessary reading in the current environment.

The main thing I loved about this book was her use of language. The author has a way of describing everyday sights in a succinct but novel way that you may not have thought of before but completely encapsulated what she was trying to say and I could immediately and very clearly picture what she was describing. I went through highlighting some of my favourite phrases: “the panic of real life locked back in their cars at the NCP”, “something of a busty Uriah Heep”, “The kind of person who would take the low offer on The Chase” (don’t you immediately despise that person?), “the frill of the sea”, “the contents scampering up the sides of the glass as his hand shook’, ‘gentle slopes of spices’, I could go on and on. The author is obviously having great fun with language and description and I delighted in her delight of it. My very favourite part involved an inexperienced person handling a baby, it made me laugh out loud with glee at how brilliantly she brought the experience to life.

This book is different, challenging, rewarding and will linger in my mind for a good while. I would recommend it as a very meaningful read.

Just is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To enter the draw to win one of five copies of this book, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c6949489/?

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

I think this is a book that will illicit very different responses in each reader so if you would like to see what my fellow bloggers made of it, please follow the tour:

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About the Author

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Jenny is a novelist, screenplay writer, and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realized she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with the family. She tries not to take herself too seriously.

Connect with Jenny:

Website: http://www.jennymortonpotts.com/

Facebook: Jenny Morton Potts

Twitter: @jmortonpotts

Goodreads: Jenny Morton Potts