The City of Second Chances by Jane Lacey-Crane #BookReview #BlogTour (@JaneLaceyCrane) @Aria_Fiction @RNATweets #PublicationDay #NetGalley #TheCityOfSecondChances

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She’s already met The One, it was just that Mr Right came along at the wrong time….

Evie Grant is forty-five years old, a widow, and single mum of two children about to leave the nest. Suddenly alone in the family home, Evie realizes she hates her job, hardly goes out and hasn’t had a date since who knows when…

So it feels like fate when the opportunity arises for a girls trip to New York City. Staying with her sister on the Upper East Side, Evie is enchanted by a snow-covered city consumed by preparing for Christmas. Bobble hat firmly on, Evie is walking through the city one day when she bumps into Daniel Roberts, Hollywood heartthrob and one-time boyfriend of hers.

It’s now or never for Evie – but she open her heart to the possibility of a new beginnings and true happiness once again….?

Funny, real and wonderfully romantic, this is the perfect feel-good read to keep you warm this winter!

Today is Publication Day for The City of Second Chances by my fellow RNA member, Jane Lacey-Crane so I want to say happy publication day to Jane. I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour on Publication Day and I want to thank Victoria Joss at Aria for inviting me to take part and for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. I apologise profusely for posting my review so late in the day, I have been tied up unavoidably, but I am hoping both Jane and Victoria will forgive me once they read it.

Where do I start? This book has made me feel so many things that my emotions are still swirling and I’m still sifting through them in my head but I’ll do my best to sort them in to some semblance of a coherent review. Suffice it to say, this book has absolutely blown me away by how much I love it. It has everything I love in a good book and, not only are all the elements there, they are delivered so perfectly; with so much warmth and charm and sincerity and sheer honesty that it has wriggled under my skin and settled there.

The book is the story of Evie, widowed mum of two who has lost the love of her life and is now facing an empty nest as her children reach adulthood and leave home. She has to face what she is going to do with the rest of her life, and that question currently has no clear answer. The main part of what I loved about this book was Evie and how much I could relate to her. From the very beginning, I felt like I knew her. she could be me, or one of my friends. She is my age, and I was totally on board with what she is going through. Her feelings leapt off the page in their authenticity and wrapped themselves around my heart. I was living the story with her from page one, and that doesn’t happen all that often in a book, where you are actually carried in to the story to live it with the main character, but when it does it is magical.

Aside from Evie, all of the other characters in this book were so well drawn and real that they just enhanced the feeling of being in a real person’s life. Evie’s sister and her friend, Rachel, were also people that I felt I recognised and I loved the dynamic between them. The storyline with Olivia was an interesting twist and, although it did not go the way I thought, I understood why the author did what she did with it and it was absolutely correct for the story. Daniel was a romantic lead that anyone would fall in love with, and the relationship between he and Evie was everything you could wish for. It put me through a whole wringer of emotions throughout the story and the plot was not at all predictable, I just loved it. The whole book is perfectly balanced with regard to the emotional rollercoaster.

This book has difficult elements included in it, and the author tackles them bravely and head on. Plots like this only work if you don’t shy away from the topic – if you are going to tackle them, you need to commit to it, and Jane really does that, I feel. This is not a light and fluffy romance, and I love that about it. The settings are also perfect. New York at Christmas, always appealing and the author really brings the city to life. It is festive enough to bring a pleasing warmth to your cockles, but not so twee that it makes your teeth ache, perfectly balanced – the salted caramel of Christmas novels.

I was lucky enough to spend some time with Jane at the RNA conference back in July and the thing that struck me most about this book was that I could very clearly hear her voice throughout. This is definitively her book, her voice, it couldn’t have been written by anyone else and I really felt that this was her putting herself honestly on the page. This is a massive leap forward from her first book, you can feel the confidence flowing through the pages. This is an author who has hit her stride and is powering forward. The honesty pulses off the page and pulls the reader in to experience the story with her. This is what confident writing looks like.

As you may have gathered, I adored this book. I’ve just ordered a paperback copy to add to my library. It is for the discovery stories like this that I read and I could not be happier for Jane at what she has achieved with this novel.

Please go and buy a copy, I promise you won’t regret it. You can get it here.

If you would like to get some other perspectives on the novel, please check out the rest of the tour:

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About the Author

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Born in London, Jane’s writing career began in cable TV, writing true crime documentaries. More recently, Jane has contributed to an anthology of short stories and written two weekly crime serials. When she’s not writing, Jane loves to read good books, binge watch TV boxsets and drink tea. And wine. 

Connect with Jane:

Facebook: Jane Lacey-Crane
Twitter: @JaneLaceyCrane

Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin by Helen J Rolfe #BookReview #BlogTour (@HJRolfe) @RaRaResources @RNATweets #RaRaResources #Christmas #LittleLogCabin #NewYorkEverAfter

Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin

We have a total switch of mood for my third review of the day and I’m delighted to be finishing off with something Christmassy by joining the tour for Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin by fellow RNA member, Helen J Rolfe. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for asking me to take part in the tour and to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Do you believe in Christmas Miracles?

Holly is looking for a change and even though not everyone agrees with her career choices, she’s determined there’s more to this life than the long hours she works as an editor in New York City. What she doesn’t expect is to meet Mitch, a recluse who’s hiding more than she realises.

Mitch does all he can to avoid human contact, spending his days in the little log cabin out in the woods behind Inglenook Falls where he owns a Christmas tree farm, so when Holly falls into his life, he’s not sure how to react. All he knows is that something needs to change if he ever wants to get his life back on track.

Along with friends Cleo and Darcy, Holly is determined to bring joy back to Mitch’s life, but will he appreciate their interference? And when a business proposition throws everything up in the air, will it do more harm than good and ruin lives forever?

Both Holly and Mitch must learn that on the surface people aren’t always what they seem…but if you dig a little deeper, they can take you by surprise.

Curl up this Christmas for plenty of snowflakes, roaring log fires, a marriage proposal, unlikely friendships and second chances as we return to the much-loved characters in the New York Ever After series.

This is the first book in this series that I have read, although I understand it is number 4 and some of the characters are reappearing from previous books. However, this book can easily be read as a standalone novel without losing any enjoyment, and enjoy it I certainly did.

After two fairly harrowing books which I have reviewed earlier today, I am happy to be talking about a festive read – and this book screams Christmas like a giant mug of cinnamon-laced mug of creamy chocolate with a huge dollop of cream on top. Add some marshmallows? Well why not, you can’t cram too much Christmas spirit in to a book for me and this one has it in shedloads. Just look at the title and the cover, it says it all!

From a sparkling New York to the festive cheer of a close knit little town, Yuletide warmth is spread across the pages like a cosy blanket and I revelled in every minute of it. I just loved the community feel of Inglenook Falls – and who can resist a ramshackle log cabin in the woods, complete with mysterious hunky man?

I really warmed to the characters in this book. I followed Holly’s journey with interest as she takes a step back from her hectic life and rediscovers herself in the quaint little town. However, Mitch was the more interesting character for me as we slowly discover why is is so reclusive and how he is brought out of himself as he unfurls in the warmth of Helen’s friendship. I really enjoyed the developing relationship dynamics between the two of them.

This is a story about friendship, first impressions and taking a leap of faith to make that change in life and it is written with such warmth and tenderness that it is impossible not to fall in love with the story and the characters. This is the perfect Christmas read and I enjoyed every page.

Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin is available now and you can get a copy here.

To check out the rest of the posts on the tour, visit the blogs detailed below:

Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin Full Tour Banner

About the Author

Author Photograph Helen Rolfe (4)

Helen J Rolfe writes contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys weaving stories about family, friendship, secrets, and community. Characters often face challenges and must fight to overcome them, but above all, Helen’s stories always have a happy ending. 

Location is a big part of the adventure in Helen’s books and she enjoys setting stories in different cities and countries around the world. So far, locations have included Melbourne, Sydney, New York, Connecticut, Bath and the Cotswolds.

Connect with Helen:

Website: http://www.helenjrolfe.com

Facebook: Helen J Rolfe Writer

Twitter: @hjrolfe

Instagram: @helen_j_rolfe

Keep Her Close by Erik Therme #BookReview #BlogTour (@ErikTherme) @Bookouture #NetGalley #KeepHerClose

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Someone took your daughter. And nobody believes you…


Then:
Three-year-old Ally was found alone in a parking lot.
She was barefoot and dressed only in a yellow sundress. In the middle of winter.
What kind of person would abandon their daughter?


Now:
Fifteen years later and Ally has a new family.
But her real father has sent her a letter.


And now Ally is missing. 

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for Keep Her Close by Erik Therme. My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for inviting me on to the tour and for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is my first book by Erik Therme but it definitely won’t be the last after reading this one. As soon as I read the deeply affecting and disturbing prologue, I was totally hooked and raced through the rest of the book faster than Shergar won the Grand National. I could not put the book down and, even once I had finished it, my head was still reeling with thoughts and questions. Only the best kind of thriller can get you that involved that you can’t forget it even once you’ve finished it.

The main protagonist is Ally, a young girl apparently abandoned as a small child and since adopted by Dan and Holly who have brought her up as their daughter. She is contacted by a man who claims to be her birth father and wanting to meet her before he dies, and this is where the trouble starts. Ally is at that metamorphic stage in life – on the cusp of adulthood and about to take her first tentative steps towards independence and eager to assert her autonomy but still retaining the innocence and naiveté of youth, which puts her in a dangerous and vulnerable position that unscrupulous individuals can take advantage of and she finds herself in the hands of someone very unpleasant indeed.

Ally’s adoptive parents obviously love her very much and are distraught by her disappearance. They have split up and it is obvious as we go through the book that they are different people and have very different ways of dealing with what has happened. Dan, her dad, in particular, is a volatile individual and he has quite extreme reactions to Ally’s disappearance which are sometimes hard to fathom and frustrate the reader, but as a parent most of us can imagine how we would react if we were put in the same position.

Most of the characters in this book are rather ambiguous and have very mixed motives for their behaviour, which are revealed over time. None of them are what they seem to be at the beginning, and are all multi-layered and this is the main thing which keeps the reader turning the pages and turning the pages to see where it is going. Nothing is what it seems and the answers to the puzzle are far from obvious. I thought I had worked out was happening, only to be proved completely wrong and totally taken by surprise at the end. The plot has more twists and turns than a Rubik’s cube and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.

A fascinating, tightly-plotted, fast-paced psychological thriller with a cast of complex and diverse characters and a less-than-obvious ending. What’s not to love?

Keep Her Close is out now and you can get your copy here.

To follow the rest of the blog tour, check out the blog tour poster below:

Keep-Her-Close-Blog-Tour

About the Author

Erik Therme (author photo)

Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harbored runaways, and met Darth Vader. When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering for his youngest daughter’s volleyball team, or watching horror movies with his seventeen-year-old. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa—one of only twenty places in the world UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature.

Connect with Erik:

Website: https://eriktherme.com

Facebook: Erik Therme

Twitter: @ErikTherme

Goodreads: Erik Therme

Tempted by….Ronnie Turner: A House of Ghosts by W. C. Ryan @WilliamRyan_ @Ronnie_Turner #bookbloggers #bloggerlove #readingrecommendations #booklove #AHouseOfGhosts

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Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives.

At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die.

For Blackwater Abbey is haunted in more ways than one . . .

An unrelentingly gripping mystery packed with twists and turns, A House of Ghosts is the perfect chilling read this winter.

Today on my Tempted by…. feature I have A House of Ghosts by W. C. Ryan as featured by the lovely Ronnie Turner on her eponymously-named blog. Ronnie’s review, which you can find here, is short and sweet but totally enticing to the extent that I had to run out and grab a copy of the book straight after reading it.

If you go over and read the post, I put it to you that this is a masterclass of how to write a book review that teases out all of the salient points about the book without rambling on for hours (as my readers will know is something I am perpetually guilty of in my own reviews), all couched in beautiful language and delicious descriptions that can’t help but sell the book to you. This is what makes Ronnie one of my favourite bloggers to follow and I love reading her reviews and trust her recommendations.

If you have enjoyed reading this review, you’ll want to take a look at the rest of Ronnie’s blog where she has some lovely and unique features such as her book photography and cover designers talking about their work on book covers. You’ll also find links to her own writing and, I’m sure once you’ve seen what a way with words she has in her reviews, you’ll be keen to check out her novel Lies Between Us as well. If you would like to read my review of Ronnie’s book, you can find it here.

If you have been tempted, as I was, to buy a copy of his book, you can get it here.

One Law For The Rest Of Us by Peter Murphy #BookReview #BlogTour @noexitpress @annecater #RandomThingsTours #OneLawForTheRestOfUs

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When Audrey Marshall sends her daughter Emily to the religious boarding school where she herself was educated a generation before, memories return – memories of a culture of child sexual abuse presided over by a highly-regarded priest. Audrey turns to barrister Ben Schroeder in search of justice for Emily and herself. But there are powerful men involved, men determined to protect themselves at all costs. Will they succeed? Is there indeed one law for the rich and powerful, and one law for…?

I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour today for One Law For The Rest Of Us, the latest Ben Schroeder legal thriller by Peter Murphy. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I absolutely love legal thrillers and I am always on the look out for new authors so, when I found out that this was the sixth book in the series following criminal law barrister Ben Schroeder, I was surprised that I had not come across Peter Murphy’s work before. However, although this is the sixth book featuring this character, it works completely as a stand alone and I did not feel that I was missing anything from the plot by not having read the previous five books.

The novel follows the case of Audrey Marshall upon, who finding out her daughter has been abused at the boarding school she herself attended a generation before, she is flooded with memories of her own experiences at the school thirty years before and sets out to seek justice for both of them. However, she is thwarted at every turn as it becomes apparent that powerful people have very good reasons to stop her story ever seeing the light of day.

This is a UK-set legal thriller and deals with the ins and outs of trying to prosecute a case through the UK courts. Fans of John Grisham who are looking for his style of legal thriller where lawyers are forever breaking the law and getting involved in car chases and gun battles won’t find that here. The UK legal system is far more reserved and refined and British barristers a much more genteel and old-fashioned breed who wouldn’t consider doing anything so vulgar that would set their powdered wigs askew. That is not to say, however, that the book lacks thrills and suspense because it does not. The action and tensions is more cerebral in nature, though, as it takes the form of pitfalls and frustrations by trying to pursue justice through the courts.

Frustration is, indeed, the main driver of this book. By the end, I was almost screaming, my nerves twanging with tensions as Audrey and her daughter are thwarted at every turn by people high up in the executive who have vested interests in stopping their case succeeding. The fact that this is all too likely and plausible, makes it even more maddening, and you will be glued to the page, willing her lawyers to find a way through the maze of obstacles erected against them to get justice for the family. If you like a properly argued legal thriller, you will love this book but your nerves will be tested.

The plot, although clearly fiction, does have echoes of recent scandals in this country and may be triggering for some readers. It does give a good insight into the workings of the English justice system, and how it is not a perfect system for delivering justice. The author has a legal background, so it able to make the writing feel very authentic, although there is obviously poetic licence taken for the sake of the plot.

The book is populated by an intriguing mix of characters, it is very well written and easy to read and is not too filled with jargon, so will be appealing to non-lawyers. I think it is an excellent addition to the genre and I will definitely be going back to check out the other titles in the series by this author. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys legal dramas.

One Law For The Rest Of Us will be published on 13 December and you can pre-order a copy here.

To read more reviews of this book, please follow the blog tour as detailed on the poster:

One Law For the Rest of us Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

Peter Murphy Author Pic

Peter Murphy graduated from Cambridge University and spent a career in the law, as an advocate, teacher, and judge. He has worked both in England and the United States, and served for several years as counsel at the Yugoslavian War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. He has written seven novels: two political thrillers about the US presidency, Removal and Test of Resolve; five historical/ legal thrillers featuring Ben Schroeder, A Higher Duty, A Matter For The Jury, And Is There Honey Still For Tea?, The Heirs of Owain Glyndwr and Calling Down the Storm. He is also the author of Walden of Bermondsey and Judge Walden: Back in Session and Judge Walden: Call The Next Case, which is due to be published in 2019.

Peter Murphy will be appearing on BBC Radio Bristol, BBC Radio Cambridge, BBC Radio West Midlands, BBC Radio Newcastle and BBC radio Manchester this summer as part of promotion for his Walden of Bermondsey series.

Connect with Peter:

Website: http://www.petermurphyauthor.co.uk

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Staying On by C.M. Taylor #BookReview #BlogTour (@CMTaylorStory) @Duckbooks @annecater #Giveaway #StayingOn

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A geriatric coming-of-age story …

Retired expat, Tony Metcalfe, is going through a three-quarter-life crisis. Viva España, his bar in a mountain village beyond Spain s Costa Blanca, is failing. Tony started the bar for the English post-war babies who retired early on good pensions – the por favors, as the Spanish call them – flocking to the dream of wine, rest and sun around the pool. But now their retirement paradise is shadowed by Brexit: the pound has fallen, pensions are frozen and the property crash happened long ago.

Tony wants to move back to enjoy the remainder of his life in his childhood home, but his tenacious wife Laney wants to stay in the happy valley and forget about England and the dark, unresolved feelings it provokes in their marriage. Sod it – he couldn t go home even if he tried; nobody would buy an ailing bar during a recession.

But Tony s luck is about to change when his son Nick arrives for a surprise visit with his self-possessed wife, Jo, and their son. With the extra help, Tony thinks things are on the up, but Jo has brought along more baggage than just their family s suitcases.

Staying On is a compelling story of little and greater family secrets come to light and what it means to find home, wherever you are.

I am happy to be taking part in the blog tour today for Staying On by C. M. Taylor. I originally reviewed this book at the end of July and enjoyed it very much so my thanks go to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to share it with you again as part of the tour. If you would like to win a copy of the book, please just leave a brief comment on the post and I will pick a winner at random to receive the book.

When I was offered the chance to read this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The blurb and some of the other information I was given gave me the impression that it might be more political commentary on the influence of Brexit on the ex-pat community in Spain than anything else, but this was not the case. This book is a beautiful, deeply moving portrayal of a family whose current problems are largely caused by issues in their past that they are afraid to confront and what happens when they are forced to address them by outside influences.

I really loved the book, it affected me very deeply. The issues explored of family relationships and tensions and how people can be pushed apart by a failure to communicate, are ones that we can all relate to to a greater or lesser degree and we can all feel great empathy for these characters. They are all so well written and truthful that it is impossible not to be drawn in to their story and be compelled to find out what becomes of them over the arc of the book.

The main characters are Tony and Laney Metcalfe, living the ex-pat dream in a small hillside village inland from the coast of Costa Blanca, running a small, struggling bar and moving in a circle of other ex-pats in an enclave which has been developed for the incoming immigrants. They have not really integrated into the local Spanish community and, as the effects of the 2008 financial crash and the looming threat of Brexit cause a trickle of their community to sell up and return to Britain, they find their world is shifting and becoming unsettled. The arrival of their son, Nick and his wife Jo, who seems intent on stirring things up, lead to seismic shifts in the status quo that force Tony and Laney to face issues in their marriage that have been buried for years leading to startling revelations and events.

Tony and Laney are recognisable as ordinary working class Brits who have, in their thousands, sold up and retired for their dream life in the Spanish sun, only to find it is not so dreamy after all. But of course, like all of us, they are not ordinary at all, but have extraordinary relationships and dynamics that are unique to each of us and drive us to behave the way we do, in a way that is invisible to the outside world, creating pressures and tensions and motivations that are mysterious to outsiders. The author does an amazing job of revealing these individual foibles in a way that is completely believable and compelling.

The setting was beautifully created and peopled with a fascinating cast of characters, there is some fantastic use of language and imagery that I savoured throughout, but it is the gently drawn and played out family drama which is at the heart of this story and which will draw you through the book to the very last page. It is soft and melancholy and totally true and I just fell in love with this book and the every day, unimportant but totally enthralling drama between its pages. This is a book about my life and your life and the life of everyone who is both unimportant but vital in the world, people who don’t do startling things or things that have newsworthy impact on anyone else, but who are central to the worlds of those around them and I wish there were more books like this in the world.

Staying On is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To see what other bloggers make of the book, make sure you follow the rest of the tour:

Staying On Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

C M Taylor

C M Taylor lives in Oxford, lectures at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies and is a freelance editor of fiction. He is the author of Premiership Psycho and Group of Death, two-thirds of a satirical trilogy described as ‘Brilliant’ by The Sun, and ‘Horribly entertaining’ by The Mirror.

Connect with the author:

Twitter: @CMTaylorStory

Instagram: @cmtaylor

Goodreads: C. M. Taylor

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The Luckiest Thirteen: The Forgotten Men of St Finbarr – A Trawler Crew’s Battle in the Arctic by Brian W. Lavery #BookReview #BlogTour (@brianlavery59) @BarbicanPress1 @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheLuckiestThirteen

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A true-life drama of an intense battle for survival on the high seas.

The Luckiest Thirteen is the story of an incredible two-day battle to save the super trawler St Finbarr, and of those who tried to rescue her heroic crew in surging, frozen seas. It was also a backdrop for the powerful stories of families ashore, dumbstruck by fear and grief, as well as a love story of a teenage deckhand and his girl that ended with a heart-rending twist.

From her hi-tech hold to her modern wheelhouse she was every inch the super ship the great hope for the future built to save the fleet at a record-breaking price but a heart-breaking cost. On the thirteenth trip after her maiden voyage, the St Finbarr met with catastrophe off the Newfoundland coast. On Christmas Day 1966, twenty-five families in the northern English fishing port of Hull were thrown into a dreadful suspense not knowing if their loved ones were dead or alive after the disaster that befell The Perfect Trawler. 

I’m privileged today to be taking part in the blog tour for this amazing book, The Luckiest Thirteen, by Brian Lavery, which tells the true-life story of the crew of the super trawler St Finbarr and their battle for survival against incredible odds. My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the tour for this book, and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

We don’t really think about it, do we? The danger that some people put themselves in, in order to provide certain things for the rest of us. We take these things for granted – fossil fuels, electricity, fish, security – without thinking about the terrible conditions and dangers that other people have to endure in order to provide them for us.

I have given it some thought over the past couple of years. Around this time last year I read a short story called Safety Tips for Living Alone,  about the collapse of a manned surveillance tower off the American coast which is based on true events. The Irishman introduced me to a TV show called ‘The Deadliest Catch’ which follows trawler men from Alaska fishing for King crab in some of the harshest conditions on the planet. i’m sure most of you will have seen the movie, ‘The Perfect Storm.’ Well, you can add this book to the list of things which will open your eyes to what human beings endure to bring goods to us that the rest of us take for granted.

This is the forgotten story of an event which happened on Christmas Day in 1966 when the super trawler St Finbarr caught fire whilst out in a remote part of the ocean in a terrible storm. Because this happened at Christmas at a time when communication was not available 24/7 all year round, the families of the men on the ship had to wait anxiously for news for three days and the rest of the world barely got to hear about it at all. The author of this book has tried to remedy this by bringing the tragic story to people’s minds by way of this book.

It may not sound like the kind of thing you would normally like to read, it certainly isn’t my standard reading fodder, but this is the beauty of blogging for me and a joy I want to share with you – reading outside of your comfort zone and, as a result, discovering amazing stories that would have just passed you by otherwise. This is one such book, and I am so glad I read it.

The author really brings to life the reality of life for these men on the inhospitable waters, separated from their families at the worst time of year while the rest of us are cosied up together celebrating Christmas, battling elements that most of us would not walk outside in, never mind take to the waves. They were away for months at a time, with limited communication with their families back home and working in conditions that were by no means as safe as they are today. What really struck me, as a lawyer who worked for one of the biggest personal injury firms in the UK, was the end of the book and the outcome of the enquiry into the disaster. In today’s climate, there is no way that people would not have been held to account for what happened.

I’m not going to lie to you, this book contains a lot of technical detail about boats and engines that wasn’t very interesting to me as I mostly didn’t understand it. At the beginning, there is also a degree of historical detail about some of the people that seemed a little irrelevant to the story and slowed the pace of the start. I urge you to push past this because, once you do, the author really brings to life the human story behind this tragedy and it is more gripping than any thriller novel you will pick up, the truth of it giving it extra poignancy. This is what people endured, and it deserves to be heard and remembered.

So, push yourself out of your reading safe place, pick up something different. take a plunge into the extraordinary lives and risks of a community I bet your barely give a second’s thought to. Think about the sacrifices they make to bring you something you take for granted and appreciate what you have in life. This book will open your eyes a little, which can never be a bad thing. I’ll certainly be complaining less about my cushy circumstances, having read it, I’m very lucky.

The Luckiest Thirteen is available now by following this link.

To follow the rest of the tour and get some further reviews of this book, please visit the blogs listed on the poster below:

The Luckiest Thirteen Blog Tour poster

About the Author

Brian Lavery 2

Brian W. Lavery is a former national newsman, whose tales deliver true journalistic flair. Born in Glasgow, long resident in Hull, he writes with a deep knowledge of the community and the dangers faced by those working in extremes. He has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Hull. 

Connect with Brian:

Website: http://www.brianwlavery.com

Twitter: @brianlavery59

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Friday Night Drinks with….Angela Wren @AngelaWrenAuthr @crookedcatbooks @RNATweets #GuestPost #FridayNightDrinks #RNA #JacquesForet #Messandrierre #Merle #Montbel

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Tonight I am delighted to have joining me for Friday Night Drinks, my fellow Yorkshire Terriers RNA member, author, actor and director, Angela Wren. Angela is the author of the French-set Jacques Foret mysteries, Messandrierre and Merle. The third book in the series, entitled Montbelwas published last month. Angela is also one of the contributors to the short story collection, Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings.

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Welcome to our virtual evening out, Angela and thank you for joining me. First things first, what are you drinking?

As we’re eating later I would like a glass of chardonnay please.

I can’t drink much white wine without getting a headache these days so I think I will have a glass of prosecco. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

Presumably money is no object?  If that is the case then I think I’d like to take us to Carcassonne and the fabulous restaurant in the Hôtel de la Cité.  The surroundings are stunning, the food is top notch and the service is excellent.  Oh, and the waiters are gorgeously French!

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I have been wanting to visit Carcassonne for a while now, having heard many people rave about it, so thank you for bringing me! If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

That’s a tough one!  I’d love to meet Dame Freya Stark.  She had a most interesting life and her travel books are fascinating.  I’m sure she would be an excellent dinner companion.  As for the second person…  So hard to choose and I’m having to narrow it down between Shakespeare and Alan Bennett.  I guess, as Bennett is still alive I’ll include him.

I would love to meet Alan Bennett, a fellow Yorkshireman, of course. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I’m currently writing Book 4 in my Jacques Forêt series of mystery stories.  I will be submitting the first three chapters and the synopsis to my publisher in January, and, assuming they like it, the book will be published sometime next year.  I’m also working on another Miss Moonshine short story for a second anthology that is due to be published towards the end of 2019.  I’ve got a brand new project that I need to pick up in the autumn of 2019 – something very different.  In addition to all of that I’ve got my regular blog post each week and I’m supporting the launch of Montbel (Jacques Forêt #3), which was published last month.  A lot to do!

As for your supplementary questions of ‘why?’ and ‘where?’ – I guess the answer is because I love writing, always have and I want to keep on writing books until I run out of ideas.

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

I guess my proudest moment was when I eventually opened that e-mail from Crooked Cat – my publishers – saying they wanted to offer me a contract for Messandrierre, the first book in the series.  The e-mail had sat in my in-box for a couple of days because I’d convinced myself that it would say, ‘thanks but no thanks’.  Having opened it, I was dancing on the ceiling for weeks afterwards.

As for my biggest challenge, I think that was understanding the post-publication scenario.  Like a lot of new writers I mistakenly thought getting the book published was the end of the journey.  It’s not.  It’s the first step on a completely different but equally challenging journey.  However, that was 2015, and here and now, three years on I’m loving it.  It’s hard work but I just love it.

It’s so encouraging to hear success stories and that you are still enjoying the whole process. What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!

Seeing my hero, Jacques Forêt, on the big screen.  I know it will never happen, but hey, I can dream can’t I?

Never say never! Dreams sometimes do come true. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

Book 4.  I’ve been wanting to get to this story for so long now, that when I sit at the keyboard my fingers are running at almost twice the speed of light.  At least, that’s how it seems to me.  Everything is there inside my head and I just can’t get the story down fast enough.  Even though I know the ending, I still can’t wait to get there.

That sounds exciting. Writing is a pleasure when it is virtually doing itself, rather the times you feel like you are pulling teeth. I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future.  Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

Hmm… bucket lists.  I don’t have one.  My dad became very ill when I was a teenager and as a result he was never able to do all the things he’d planned to do once he’d retired.  I made up my mind a long time ago that bucket lists were futile.  If you want to do something, then just do it.  Don’t save it for later, life is so fragile, there might not be a ‘later’.  As you can probably guess there’s nothing at the top of my bucket list.  I spend three months of every year in my favourite place – France – and I spent almost a month in Egypt some years ago because I knew that if I didn’t go then, I probably never would.  I just want to keep on travelling and keep on learning.

Alas, if only time and funds allowed me to visit everywhere I wanted to go immediately. If I win the lottery, I will definitely be following your advice. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I played Mr. Twit in one of our family shows at Easter a few years ago.  After each show, myself and the actress playing Mrs. Twit would go into the audience and, using our natural voices but still in full costume and make-up, would offer the children little bags of sweets.  After one matinee performance a little boy in row B, who looked frightened at first, then bewildered when he heard my voice, suddenly piped up with the very serious accusation, ‘Ugh!  You’re a girl!’  As an actor, that’s the best compliment I’ve ever had!

‘Out of the mouthes of babes and sucklings’. Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

That’s a question that is almost impossible to answer.  My bookshelves are lined with books that I would like to recommend, but I will plump for The House in Paris by Elizabeth Bowen.

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Another one for the TBR, since this is not one I have read. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

My failsafe plan is to never overindulge and I never do so I don’t have a go-to cure.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

As we’re in Carcassonne, let’s spend some time here in the citadel and then take a walk along the canal and through the surrounding town.  There’s a lot to see.

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Angela, thank you so much for spending time with me this evening, I have enjoyed it very much and I look forward to seeing you soon at our next RNA meet up.

Angela’s latest book, and the third in the Jacques Foret series, Montbel is available now and you can buy a copy here.

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A clear-cut case? 

A re-examination of a closed police case brings investigator, Jacques Forêt, up against an old adversary. After the murder of a key witness, Jacques finds himself, and his team, being pursued.

When a vital piece of evidence throws a completely different light on Jacques’ case, his adversary becomes more aggressive, and Investigating Magistrate Pelletier threatens to sequester all of Jacques papers and shut down the investigation.

Can Jacques find all the answers before Pelletier steps in?

You can find out more about Angela via her social media links :

Website : http://www.angelawren.co.uk

Blog : http://jamesetmoi.blogspot.com

Facebook: Angela Wren

Twitter: @AngelaWrenAuthr

Next week I will be sharing a beverage with the lovely Wendy Clarke, founder of the amazing online book group, The Fiction Cafe Book Club, which is absolutely the best place on the internet to hang out if you love books, so I hope you will join us then to hear all about it.

Christmas at Black Cherry Retreat by Angela Britnell #BookReview #BlogBlitz (@angelabritnell) @ChocLituk @RaRaResources #RaRaResources #ChristmasAtBlackCherryRetreat

Christmas at Black Cherry Retreat

Delighted to be taking part in the blog blitz today for Christmas at Black Cherry Retreat by Angela Britnell. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part and to Choc Lit for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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What if you had nowhere to call home for Christmas? 

When Fee Winter books a winter break at the remote Black Cherry Retreat in the small town of Pine Ridge, Tennessee, it’s with the idea that the peace and quiet will help her recuperate from her hectic life as a photographer.

But what she didn’t bank on was meeting Tom Chambers and his huge, interfering yet lovable family. With them, could Fee finally experience the warmth and support that’s been missing from her own life – and maybe even find a place to call home in time for Christmas?

I knew this was going to be a Christmas book with a difference when I picked it up, as it is not set in the UK, but in a remote town in Eastern Tennessee, not a standard setting for a Christmas novel. However, this book is actually not particularly a Christmas-centric story at all, given that it starts around Halloween and focuses on this, and Thanksgiving, rather than just Christmas. However, this does not stop it being a good book in any way.

We meet Fee just as she is arriving at the remote Black Cherry Retreat as Fall has taken hold in the mountains of Tennessee. Fee is running away from horrors in her past an is looking for solitude and isolation to try and heal herself. However, she is immediately drawn to Tom Chambers, a retired police officer who owns Black Cherry Retreat and who has reasons of his own for withdrawing to his remote cabin. The story then focuses on the development of the relationship between this two reluctant characters.

I really loved the setting of this book. It was somewhere very different and the author does a fantastic job of bringing the setting to vivid life with her descriptions. I defy anyone reading this book not to wish they could spend a month or two there with nothing for company but some books, a deer or two and a hunky Tennessean man! I really enjoyed the descriptions of the little town of Pine Ridge and the close knit community there, most of whom Tom is related to.

Which brings us neatly to the characters who are all delightful. I was very drawn to both Fee and Tom and fascinated by their burgeoning relationship, hampered as it was by their pasts. Fee, in particular, seems to be  a mass of contradictions and the author has done very well to develop a really interesting character in Fee. The subsidiary characters are a lovely bunch, particularly little Lulu, and added great charm to the story.

Although this book does not focus particularly heavily on Christmas as a theme, despite the title, it includes great descriptions of various holiday events which gives it a lovely, warm, festive feeling and I am sure anyone looking for a seasonal read will not be disappointed. It also includes a little mystery element, which was a nice sub-plot, and gave the book extra interest for me. All in all, a rewarding read. I could actually envisage this book making a great Hallmark movie, albeit one with a slightly deeper twist than some of the very twee, fluffy ones you see, so if that is the kind of thing you like, this will be right up your street.

Christmas at Black Cherry Retreat is out now and is available here.

Please check out the reviews by the rest of the amazing bloggers taking part in the blitz. You can find their details on the poster below:

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About the Author

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Angela grew up in Cornwall, England and returns frequently from her new home in Nashville, Tennessee. A lifelong love of reading turned into a passion for writing contemporary romance and her novels are usually set in the many places she’s visited or lived on her extensive travels. After more than three decades of marriage to her American husband she’s a huge fan of transatlantic romance and always makes sure her characters get their own happy-ever-after. Over the last twelve years she’s been multi-published and sold over 25 novels. She also writes short stories for women’s magazines. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Romance Writers of America and the Music City Romance Writers.

Connect with Angela:

Website: http://www.angelabritnellromance.com

Facebook: Angela Britnell

Twitter: @angelabritnell

Instagram:@angelagolleybritnell

Children in Read 2018 @TorUdall @janeholland1 @MHarrison13 @LouiseWriter @BloomsburyBooks @AmazonPub @simonschusterUK @OrendaBooks #AThousandPaperBirds #ForgetHerName #APinchOfMagic #TheLionTamerWhoLost #ChildrenInNeed

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I am sure many of you are aware of, and probably took part in, the recent Children in Read auction, where many popular authors donated signed books and other items to be auctioned off in aid of raising money for Children in Need.

I, being unable to resist a good book auction, bid on a number of items and was lucky enough to win four of the auctions I was bidding on so, in the last week, I have received signed copies of the following books:

Forget Her Name by Jane Holland

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Rachel’s dead and she’s never coming back. Or is she?

As she prepares for her wedding to Dominic, Catherine has never been happier or more excited about her future. But when she receives an anonymous package—a familiar snow globe with a very grisly addition—that happiness is abruptly threatened by secrets from her past.

Her older sister, Rachel, died on a skiing holiday as a child. But Rachel was no angel: she was vicious and highly disturbed, and she made Catherine’s life a misery. Catherine has spent years trying to forget her dead sister’s cruel tricks. Now someone has sent her Rachel’s snow globe—the first in a series of ominous messages…

While Catherine struggles to focus on her new life with Dominic, someone out there seems intent on tormenting her. But who? And why now? She doesn’t have the answers – and in one final question lies her greatest fear.

Is Rachel still alive?

I have been lucky enough to meet Jane at a recent RNA event where she was there as her romantic novelist alter ego, Beth Good and, having read some of her romantic novels, I promised I would read one of her thrillers, so I’m delighted to have this one to begin with

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

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Be careful what you wish for…

Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes he hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it?
What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?
A dark, consuming drama that shifts from Zimbabwe to England, and then back into the past, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a devastatingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart…

I have been wanting to get a copy of this for a while, as all my fellow book bloggers have been raving about it, so I was absolutely determined to win this one! I love the personalised dedication inside, a lovely book to be treasured.

A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison

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Three sisters trapped by an ancient curse.

Three magical objects with the power to change their fate.

Will they be enough to break the curse?

Or will they lead the sisters even deeper into danger? …

You will notice that the cover image of the book above is different to the photo of the book I received as shown at the top of the post. This is because this book isn’t going to be published until February 2019 so what I have is a LIMITED EDITION PROOF COPY of the book, which I am very, very excited about, can you tell? Michelle also sent me a lovely little Russian doll charm with the book which is now nestled in my book curio display shelf and I feel very lucky.

A Thousand Paper Birds by Tor Udall

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Jonah roams Kew Gardens trying to reassemble the shattered pieces of his life after the death of his wife, Audrey. Weathering the seasons and learning to love again, he meets Chloe, an enigmatic origami artist who is hesitant to let down her own walls.

In the gardens he also meets ten-year-old Milly, and Harry, a gardener, both of whom have secrets of their own to keep – and mysteries to solve.

Another book that I have heard amazing things about and was high on my wish list, so I was delighted to secure this one too. It came with a beautiful postcard containing a personal message from Tor and two delicate origami birds, which fascinated my daughters, and are also on the curio shelf.

I just wanted to thank all the authors for donating their work to this fabulous cause, not just the ones whose books I bid on, and make sure they get credit for their generosity. The auction raised over £5,000 for Children in Need, which I am sure you will agree is an amazing result.

If you did not take part in the auction, there is still the opportunity to donate to this wonderful cause via the Children in Need website and help out a huge programme of good causes that benefit children both in the UK and abroad.