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:

Christmas at Black Cherry Retreat Full Tour Banner

About the Author

Angela RONA Award Pub Photo

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

Divided We Stand (Division Bell Book 3) by Rachel McLean #BlogBlitz #BookReview (@rachelmcwrites) @RaRaResources #DivisionBell

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I am so excited today to be taking part in the blog blitz for the final part of the Division Bell Trilogy by Rachel McLean, Divided We Stand. I have absolutely loved the first two parts of the series, A House Divided and Divide and Rule and you might like to read my reviews of these to see why I have been so effusive about the series so far. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for allowing me to finish off the journey by taking part in this blog tour and to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Divided We Stand Ebook

Britain is a country under surveillance. Neighbours spy on neighbours. Schools enforce loyalty to the state. And children are encouraged to inform on their parents.

Disgraced MP Jennifer Sinclair has earned her freedom but returns home to find everything changed.

Rita Gurumurthy has been sent to a high security prison. When a sympathetic guard helps her escape she becomes a fugitive, forced to go into hiding.

To reunite her family and win freedom for her son and her friend, Jennifer must challenge her old colleague and rival, the new Prime Minister Catherine Moore.

Will Catherine listen to reason and remove the country from its yoke of fear and suspicion? Or will Jennifer have to reveal the secret only she knows about Catherine, and risk plunging the country into turmoil?

Jennifer has finally managed to get herself released from the British Values Centre and back to what is left of her family in the final part of this dystopian, political thriller but Britain is still in the grip of fear and suspicion and her son, Samir, threatened with deportation. It will take all her political manoeuvring to free him before it is too late. This is a trilogy that really needs to be read in order to understand it and get the most of it, but that is no hardship as it is so gripping, and this final instalment is no exception.

The story follows the three main women from Book Two, Jennifer, Meena and Rita, who have all managed to escape from the British Values Centre, but are still not safe in a country where everyone is under watch, the State has oppressive powers of arrest and neighbour informs on neighbour. They need to put behind them their past differences and work together against a political system which seems to have a stranglehold on the country, to secure a better future for them all.

After the incarceration drama of the last book, in this third instalment we are back to a tale of political machinations (sorry, I can’t let that phrase pass without a nod to Blackadder III: Dish and Dishonesty “One who has recently done sterling service, matching the political machinations of the evil Pitt. Good old Lord Baldrick!” Anyway, back to the review.) as Jennifer, now disgraced and without any parliamentary authority, has to take on her old friend, Catherine, who is now the Prime Minister and the person responsible to the current political climate of oppression. It is a battle of wits and power and had me gripped from start to finish. I don’t know whether this book was shorter than the others or it just felt that way as I raced through it but it was an exciting denouement.

Throughout, this trilogy has had an ominous ring of possibility about it, which has made it so thrilling and chilling at the same time. A dystopian vision that is not beyond the bounds of possibility and, on some bleak days, seems to be creeping slowly closer to becoming a reality. In these times of political upheaval and division in this country, these books are a sobering glimpse into what could be if we aren’t careful. I have not read any political fiction that I have found as gripping or well written since I read Michael Dobb’s House of Cards trilogy twenty years ago. I’ve enjoyed every minute of these books and can’t recommend them highly enough.

Divided We Stand is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

A House Divided - rachel mclean

I’m Rachel McLean and I write thrillers and speculative fiction.

I’m told that the world wants upbeat, cheerful stories – well, I’m sorry but I can’t help. My stories have an uncanny habit of predicting future events (and not the good ones). They’re inspired by my work at the Environment Agency and the Labour Party and explore issues like climate change, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and sexism in high places. All with a focus on how these impact individual people and families.

You can find out more about my writing, get access to deals and exclusive stories or become part of my advance reader team by joining my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub.

Connect with Rachel:

Website: https://rachelmclean.com

Facebook: Rachel McLean

Twitter: @rachelmcwrites

Instagram: @rachelmcwrites

Goodreads: Rachel McLean

 

The Barn of Buried Dreams by Chrissie Bradshaw #BookReview #BlogBlitz (@ChrissieBeee) @RaRaResources #Giveaway #The BarnOfBuriedDreams

The Barn of Buried Dreams

I am so excited today to be taking part in the blog tour for The Barn of Buried Dreams by my fellow RNA member, Chrissie Bradshaw. My huge thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for asking me to be on the tour and to Chrissie for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly. Make sure you check out the giveaway further down the page.

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“Erin and Heather Douglas are struggling. Their mother’s death has left a void in their family and everyday life has side-lined their dreams. 

Erin has buried herself away in the family home and left her stage career. By hiding away, she is evading the pain of returning to London and the acting world where her ex-fiancé is enjoying success and a new relationship. When she meets charismatic Texan Jackson McGee, she wrestles with her feelings for him. Should she trust another man?

Heather is juggling babies, work, a rocky marriage and running on wine. An overheard conversation makes her ask, would Mark cheat on her?

Can the sisters help one another to face their fears, dust off and revive those dreams and find joy in life?”

After reading the blurb, I was really eager to get in to this new book by the delightful Chrissie Bradshaw to see if she is as friendly and approachable on the page as she is in real life. I am fascinated by the dynamics within families, particularly between sisters as I have three myself, so I was sure this book would be right up my street.

Now I have finished the book, I can confirm that I was not at all disappointed following my high expectations. This is a very readable, warm and enticing novel which was engrossing and satisfying to the end.

The characters of Erin and Heather were well-drawn and their relationship recognisable to me as an accurate dynamic between female siblings. I felt particularly for Erin. The book starts showing the close and loving relationship between Erin and her mother and I felt her loss and despair keenly when her mother passes, particularly as she is already reeling from rejection by her boyfriend and further personal trauma. No wonder she finds it almost impossible to cope and move on.

Heather was harder to like, as she comes across as very selfish and self-centred at the beginning, but the author does a wonderful job of gradually revealing what is driving her behaviour and by the end I was much more sympathetic towards her and happy with the way everything is finally resolved at the end of the book.

I particularly loved the setting of the book in the border country between Scotland and Northumberland, an area I know very well from many childhood holidays and a beautiful part of the country which is filled with warm and friendly people, and I feel like Chrissie brought this to life perfectly and got it across in her writing, so that I really believed in the setting and the characters in the book and became invested in their stories.

Chrissie has quite a formal writing style which is unusual in a book of this type in current times, but I actually really liked it and found it gave her a very distinctive voice. Her writing and the story flows very smoothly and is very easy to read and I am sure that anyone wise enough to pick up this lovely book will be carried along with it and close the last cover with the satisfaction that follows a pleasing read. Highly recommended.

The Barn of Buried Dreams is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Giveaway

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To win a Paperback copy of ‘The Barn of Buried Dreams’, limited edition mug featuring both of Chrissie Bradshaw’s  novels and  a box of fresh macarons delivered from ‘Urban Cakehouse’, click on the Rafflecopter link below.  (Open to UK Only)

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*Terms and Conditions –UK 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.

Make sure you check out the rest of the posts on Chrissie’s Blog Blitz below:

The Barn of Buried Dreams Full Tour Banner

About the Author

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Chrissie, 2016 winner of the Romantic Novelist’s Elizabeth Goudge writing trophy, is a seasoned tea drinker and a tenacious trainer of her welsh terrier, Oscar. She has always loved match-making a book to a reader. Writing the kind of book she loves to read takes this a step further. When Chrissie is not writing or reading, you will find her walking Oscar on the beach, trying to avoid the gym and spending time with her family and friends.

Her new release, THE BARN OF BURIED DREAMS – when will they see daylight?, is a contemporary story about two sisters who are struggling after the death of their mother. It starts in Dunleith, the same Northumbrian setting as her debut novel ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’, and some characters cross both books. Readers can enjoy either book as a stand alone

Connect with Chrissie:

Website: http://www.newhenontheblog.com

Facebook: Chrissie Bradshaw Author

Twitter: @ChrissieBeee

Instagram: @chrissie_bradshaw_author

 

Divide and Rule (Division Bell Book 2) by Rachel McLean #BlogBlitz #BookReview (@rachelmcwrites) @RaRaResources #DivisionBell

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Delighted to be taking part today in the blog blitz today for Divide and Rule by Rachel McLean, which is book two in the Division Bell trilogy. You may recall that I reviewed book one in the trilogy, A House Divided last month and you can find that review here. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the blitz today and to the author for my advance copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.

Divide and Rule e-book

“Jennifer Sinclair’s fight to save her political career, her family and her freedom has failed. Traumatised by prison violence, she agrees to transfer to the mysterious British Values Centre.

Rita Gurumurthy has betrayed her country and failed the children in her care. Unlike Jennifer, she has no choice, but finds herself in the centre against her will.

Both women are expected to conform, to prove their loyalty to the state and to betray everything they hold dear. One attempts to comply, while the other rebels. Will either succeed in regaining her freedom?

Divide and Rule is 1984 for the 21st century – a chilling thriller examining the ruthless measures the state will take to ensure obedience, and the impact on two women.”

Do you realise how many rights and freedoms you have as a citizen of Great Britain today, or do you just take them for granted? Do you ever consider what life must be like in countries that don’t grant the same protection of personal rights that we do? How powerless would you feel if, all of a sudden, those rights and freedoms were taken away from you? If these thoughts have never occurred to you, and you happily pootle along from day to day, grumbling slightly about the few restrictions we do live under in order to make life bearable for society as a whole (as most of us do), I suggest you read this book for a healthy wake up call, because things could be a lot, lot worse.

This book picks up from where A House Divided left off so, although I’m sure this book could be read as a standalone, you will have a much richer and more rewarding reading experience if you have read book one first. Besides, the first book is fantastic, so you should definitely read it. Jennifer Sinclair, former MP and Prisons Minister has found herself incarcerated in one of the prisons she was formerly responsible for, after hiding her son, who was suspected of terrorist affiliations, and you can imagine how popular she is in there. So, when she is given the chance to move to a new rehabilitation centre, with the chance of following a six step programme that will lead to her freedom, she decides to take the chance.

Unfortunately, the centre does not turn out to be what she was promised and, along with other women accused of similar ‘crimes’, she is subjected to a system of brainwashing designed to stop the women questioning a system which is becoming increasingly dictatorial, and the women find that all the rights they believed they had as a result of living in a democratic country have been severely eroded. How do you fight a system that doesn’t grant you any rights or protections? The book explores the different approaches taken by Jennifer, still thinking like a politician, and Rita, defiant in her beliefs and unwilling to conform, as they try to play the programme and earn their escape.

I read this book in a single sitting, late into the night, my body rigid with tension throughout. I was totally hooked on the story from beginning to end; I simply could not look away from the page. I was gripped with mounting horror as it became apparent that this scenario is frighteningly plausible and, as I pondered the questions posed in paragraph one of this post, realised that we take far too much for granted in this country, that we actually have little personal power and rely far too much on legal freedoms which could easily be taken away. In fact, in recent history there have been situations where internment without trial have been used (the Troubles in Northern Ireland being the most recent example) and were being mooted again as solutions to terrorism by certain factions more recently. When one considers this, this book becomes even more eye-opening. ‘There by the grace of God” is a phrase that springs to mind.

I have been concerned by the direction that politics is currently taking in this country, and by certain things that have happened over the past few years, certain headlines in the newspapers and rhetoric on social media. Reading this book has done nothing to quell my fears. If you are looking for a horror story for Halloween, forget Stephen King or M.R. James, this is it. A small part of me is banking on Rachel leaving us with a hopeful ending in book three, Divided We Stand, which I will be reviewing on 20 November, but I fear this may be wishful thinking.

Divide and Rule is out now, and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

A House Divided - rachel mclean

I’m Rachel McLean and I write thrillers and speculative fiction.

I’m told that the world wants upbeat, cheerful stories – well, I’m sorry but I can’t help. My stories have an uncanny habit of predicting future events (and not the good ones). They’re inspired by my work at the Environment Agency and the Labour Party and explore issues like climate change, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and sexism in high places. All with a focus on how these impact individual people and families.

You can find out more about my writing, get access to deals and exclusive stories or become part of my advance reader team by joining my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub.

Connect with Rachel:

Website: https://rachelmclean.com

Facebook: Rachel McLean

Twitter: @rachelmcwrites

Instagram: @rachelmcwrites

Goodreads: Rachel McLean

Death on the River by Clare Chase #BookReview #BlogBlitz (@ClareChase) @bookouture #DeathOnTheRiver #NetGalley

Death-on-the-River-Kindle

“Meet Tara Thorpe – she’s Cambridge Police’s newest recruit… but her dark past is never far behind her. 

When a body is pulled from the dank and dangerous fens on the outskirts of town, everybody assumes it was a tragic accident. But Detective Tara Thorpe, newly joined and determined to prove herself, suspects there’s more to the story.

Tara is desperate to investigate further, but her supervisor Patrick Wilkins has other ideas. He would rather die than let this ambitious upstart show him up – even if it means some digging in Tara’s secret past to keep her under his thumb. After all, it’s not like he can report her – everyone knows that his boss Detective Garstin Blake and Tara have a history…

When another body is found, it becomes clear that there’s a killer on the loose. Could the murders be linked to the secrets that Tara has been keeping from her team… and can she solve the case before another innocent dies?”

Given how much I loved Clare’s first book featuring Tara Thorpe, Murder on the Marshes (read my review of that book here), I am thrilled to be taking part today in the blog tour for the next in the series, Death on the River. My huge thanks to Noelle Holten, of publishers Bookouture, for inviting me on to the tour and for my copy of the book via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly.

I just want to pass comment and give my congratulations on another stonking cover which really evokes the spirit of the Cambridgeshire fens and the setting of the book. People say, you should never judge a book by its cover, but I am afraid I often do and this is another one I would love to have on my shelves. I love Bookouture books, they always feel lovely and solid in your hand – you know you are holding a piece of quality, nothing something flimsy. Mad, I know, but these things matter to a book lover!

Although this is the second book in the Tara Thorpe series, it could easily be read as a standalone without losing anything of the plot. Clare gives you enough of the back story for you to understand what you need to without it feeling like an information dump. However, I would highly recommend you read the first book to get deeper background on the characters and also because it is just so damn good, you will be missing out if you don’t!

The second book starts four years after the end of the first. In the interim, Tara has left her journalism career behind and has retrained as a police officer, newly joining the CID unit who investigated the crimes in book one, which brings her back into the orbit of DI Blake and other characters from the first book. I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed to hear that Tara was no longer a journalist, as I thought that brought a unique perspective to the investigation in book one. However, I need not have worried as Tara has brought all her journalistic skills to her new role in the police and this gives rise to an interesting aspect of the book where her old skills both compliment and clash with her new job. Her insatiable curiosity and dogged determination to get to the bottom of events being both  help and a hindrance.

There are so many different aspects of this book that I really enjoyed, the criminal investigation being only one of them. The mystery is very well-crafted from the dramatic opening scene to the eventual denouement, it is sufficiently tricky to keep the reader guessing and hold our attention throughout. The pace of the story is not frantic but even and compelling and I was totally engrossed in the investigation, even though the first victim is not a particularly likeable character. There were lots of interesting details to the crime – I was left wondering where the author gets her ideas from!

An equally riveting aspect of the book was the relationships between Tara and her fellow officers, particularly Blake and Wilkins. Anyone who has read the first book will recall that it appeared there was a possible relationship developing between Tara and DI Blake, and I was pleased to note that vestiges of this had carried through to this book, leaving a residual tension between the two. The author cleverly uses this as a plot device to influence the professional relationship between the two, as we wonder whether Blake’s decisions to back Tara are due to his professional respect for her, or his personal feelings. I love the fact that there is an open will they, won’t they question left hanging.

Wilkins is a different kettle of fish altogether and the man becomes more and more unpleasant as the book progresses. His dislike and, possible jealousy and resentment towards Tara grows and grows to the point where it is impacting on his objectivity and decision-making and he is in danger of putting his own career at risk. It is always good to have a character you love to hate in a book!

The book is written largely from Tara’s perspective and, as a protagonist, she continues to grow on me as she remains independent, determined and feisty and true to her own values, no matter what is thrown at her. I love a strong, female role model in a book, and this one certainly knows who she is and what she stands for.

The final thing which really makes this book stand out in the genre for me is the setting. It is as much a character in the book as any of the people and plays a big part in the stories. The plot simply would not work as well anywhere else and, just as in book one, the suppressing, empty isolation and loneliness of the Fens adds so much to the atmosphere of the story, and is brilliantly and vividly brought to life by the writing.

For some reason, this series has really grabbed me and I really look forward to reading more. Another paperback is on its way to add to the shelf for repeat enjoyment.

Death on the River is out now and you can buy your copy here.

Please do support the rest of the blog blitz for this book by following it over to the other blogs listed below:

Death on the River - Blog Tour

About the Author

Clare-Chase-500-356mp41qg1bccrg2bat0xs

Clare Chase writes mysteries set in her home city of Cambridge and is fascinated by the location’s contrasts and contradictions. She’s worked in diverse settings – from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons – and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies presents a good happy medium.

As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books. She lives with her husband and teenage children, and currently works at the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Connect with Clare:

Website: https://clarechase.com

Facebook: Clare Chase Author

Twitter: @ClareChase_

Instagram: Clare Chase Author

Goodreads: Clare Chase

Oh! What A Pavlova by Isabella May #BlogBlitz #GuestPost (@IsabellaMayBks) @crookedcatbooks @RaRaResources #Giveaway

The observant among you will notice the date above was yesterday. Yes, I’m that friend that is a day late to the party! Massive apologies to Isabella for missing her big book birthday, yesterday. Isabella, I hope you had a fabulous book birthday and that you enjoy this post, even if it is a day late. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part ( a decision she is now regretting. Menopause brain is my excuse and I’m sticking to it!) and to Isabella for answering the questions for me.

“Kate Clothier is leading a double life: a successful jet-setting businesswoman to the outside world, but behind closed doors, life with Daniel and his volcanic temper is anything but rosy.

Some days – heck, make that EVERY day – cake is her only salvation.

Slowly but surely, the cities she visits – and the men she meets – help her to realise there IS a better future.

And the ley lines of Glastonbury are certainly doing their best to impart their mystical wisdom…

But will she escape before it’s too late?”

I read this book when it came out last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, although I would advise against reading it on an empty stomach! I’m always thrilled to learn more about the author’s behind the fabulous books I’ve read so, without more ado, let’s here about Isabella:

1: You evidently have a love of puddings. But have you ever actually made a Pavlova?
I am guilty as charged there! I think living in Spain has also renewed my appreciation for the vast array of Great British desserts that I have to either hunt down here in a decent expat pub (sadly those are few and far between), or recreate myself.
But yes, last year I made my very first Pavlova (I’ve made a chocolate one since as well!). This was for the Twitter Bakealong hashtag and although I didn’t win the competition, my peaks rose and my Peach and Blueberry Pavlova was eaten by most of my family.

2: What’s a typical day for you as an author?
I’ve long forgotten because it varies so much… so I will take the weekday mean, the average! First off, I try – and frequently fail because my seven-year-old has an innate ability to rise just as I do – to meditate. Just for fifteen minutes, that’s all. But inevitably, those golden moments of seeking that much sought after third eye chakra morph into me unloading the dishwasher.
But if there is one thing I never fail to accomplish, it’s drinking my morning Pink Himalayan sole (water and a little mineral salt), followed half an hour later by a bowl of coconut porridge. Don’t worry, I definitely make up for this orthorexic ritual-like behaviour later…
If it’s a school day (right now as I type we are almost midway through the 11 week Spanish summer holidays… yes, you did read that correctly: Eleven. Entire. Weeks.) then after drop off at 9am, I am usually straight back to my desk, fat cafe sombra in hand, to hit my target of 1000 words  – that’s if I am working on a new novel. I could also quite easily be editing, keeping up-to-date with my social media, eating cake or brainstorming new ideas.

In case you hadn’t guessed, I do have a tendency to go off at tangents, and I am a Cake Monster!

But normally, on a good day, I will hit that 1000 target before I have to pack up and go pick the children up for 2pm. One of the few downsides to living in Spain is the ridiculously short school days (and those super elongated holidays).
We’ll drive back from school, I’ll fix the kids lunch, sort through the bags for hidden homework (Spanish schools set a ridiculous amount from a young age, frequently making me want to flee to Denmark). Occasionally I will also come across a pilfered toy from a fellow classmate.
If I’m ‘lucky’ *read: if the children can entertain themselves and resist the temptation to argue*, I might get a nice thirty or forty minute stretch at the laptop to edit, add to a chapter, or answer my emails. Often though, I become Dance Mum – also known as Taxi Mum – a tri-weekly task that involves dropping off and picking up my daughter at the local studio… and all too frequently involves more coffee and cake! My younger son and I will take his reading books or colouring, and I will try my best not to look at my phone.
Dinner is served late here compared to the UK and once my husband is through the door just before 7pm, to take over, I will either have a session on my trampoline, jogging to high vibe music with a fabulous view of the Mediterranean sea, or I’ll carry out some Pranic Healing on my ‘guinea pigs’. I took the Levels 1, 2 and 3 last year on courses in neighbouring Gibraltar. That’s been quite life-changing!
We eat our own ‘grown up’ dinner slightly later than the children, mainly because we all have such diverse food tastes in our household and we’re all far too proud to compromise – plus us adults love our spice (in the food that is…). And then it’s a book and bed. One of the great things about Spain is we hardly ever watch English TV – and we really don’t miss it. We talk so much more in the evenings (well, book-worming aside), and I don’t think we could ever go back to the nightly lure of the box, even if we did move home.
Obviously, at the weekend we let our hair down, go out for tapas and cocktails, or treat ourselves to a fat gin and tonic on the balcony overlooking the sea!

3: Have you done much public talking about your books yet?
Shamefully, I’ve done none at all! I make up for this with Facebook Live videos for bookclubs though – as well as at my online launch parties. But yes, some events in the flesh are a must. I’m working up to it but expat writers really do need to get creative about planning these things in this part of the world as there aren’t so many opportunities as back in the UK with all of the amazing range of Lit Fests!

4: What message do you hope readers will take from Oh! What a Pavlova?
My mission with my debut novel was to ring a few alarm bells; to dispel the misconception that domestic violence always happens regularly, and to a specific demographic. It doesn’t! Sometimes a victim is walking on eggshells for weeks or months in fear of the next attack. There’s not always an ETA.
I’m not saying it’s a book that will save lives. Women and men in these situations will only ever leave when they feel ready to take that leap of faith, and no amount of family or friends (or books) trying to intervene can change that. Sadly…
But I am definitely saying it’s the book I wish I had read when I was in a toxic relationship. In that respect, it’s a book that could save lives. We need more books of Pavlova’s ilk to challenge the status quo; to help friends and family of victims to look out for the telltale signs which are all so often hidden.

5: Why do you write with a pen name?
I think many people assume it’s to protect my identity (due to the subject of my debut novel), but I promise it’s not. Isabella and May are the names of my two amazing grandmothers who passed away several years ago. I wanted to honour their feisty, independent characters. I hope I’m doing them justice!

Thanks for joining me on the blog today, Isabella, it was lovely to hear from you.

Oh! What A Pavlova is available to buy here. Now, check out the giveaway below to see how you can win a signed copy of Isabella’s second book, The Cocktail Bar.

Giveaway

To win a signed copy of The Cocktail Bar, click on the Rafflecopter link below:

Rafflecopter

*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.

About the Author

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing. As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – www.theglasshousegirls.com – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One). She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’! Costa del Churros is her third novel with Crooked Cat Books, following on from the hit sensations, Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar.

Connect with Isabella:

Website: http://www.isabellamayauthor.com/

Facebook: Isabella May Author

Twitter: @IsabellaMayBks

Instagram: @Isabella_May_Author

The Warning by Kathryn Croft #BookReview #BlogBlitz (@KatCroft) @Bookouture #NetGalley #TheWarning

The-Warning-Kindle

“My little boy’s room was empty, his bed neatly made. Alarm bells should have rung immediately. Then the knock on the door came. All I remember is a thick fog wrapping itself tightly around me. This couldn’t be happening to us.

Three years ago, nurse Zoe’s son Ethan was found drowned in a muddy river by their home, along with his best friend Josh. With no witnesses, their deaths were ruled a tragic accident.

Heartbroken, Zoe and her family, move away from her home. They’re just beginning to get back to some kind of normality, when, out of the blue, Zoe receives an anonymous email: 

You need to find out the truth about what happened to your son. Don’t let this rest. Don’t believe the lie.

Shaken, Zoe starts an obsessive hunt for the truth. But why is her husband so reluctant to help? And why is Josh’s mother so determined not to believe her?”

Delighted to be taking my turn on the blog blitz today for The Warning by Kathryn Croft. My thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture for my place on the tour and my copy of the book via NetGalley which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I absolutely loved this book. There has been the odd occasion recently where I have wondered whether the psychological thriller/domestic noir trend is on the way out and whether there is anything new to be done in this vein. Then a book like this comes my way and I realise there is life in the old genre dog yet. This book really had me hooked from beginning to end.

We begin three years after the tragic accidental drowning of Zoe and Jake’s son, Ethan and his best friend, Josh. The family are trying and appearing to be getting their life back on some sort of track, having moved house and cities. However, appearances can be deceptive and when Zoe gets an email suggesting that the drowning may not have been an accident at all, it quickly becomes obvious that none of them have put the tragedy behind them and they have all been covering their grief in different ways.

Zoe is unable to let the suggestion go, and we are quickly drawn in to her quest for the truth. The author very cleverly writes the plot in short, sharp chapters from multiple viewpoints – Zoe, Jake, their other son and, Roberta, Josh’s mother – so we get an insight into the story from lots of different perspectives, but Zoe’s is the only one written in the first person, so we get very up close and personal with her reactions and emotions towards the events.

As the book unfolds, it becomes more and more clear that each character is hiding something, and the tension builds as we are forced to wonder, in the same way Zoe does, who we can trust and who is being dishonest. The plot is clever and labyrinthine and, just when you think you might have figured things out, you realised you haven’t at all and you are forced to start your investigations all over again. The ending came as a total shock, although the clues were there all along and I was left very satisfied by the whole reading experience.

The characters are all beautifully drawn and very realistic. Some really empathetic, some eminently dislikable, but all compelling, and this is the great strength of the book. I really cared about what happened to these people, I was desperate to know what happened. I was emotionally invested in the characters and the story, and they took me with them from beginning to end.

Accomplished writing.

The Warning is out now and you can purchase your copy here.

There are lots of other fabulous bloggers reviewing this book, so make sure you check out their reviews too:

The Warning - Blog Blitz

About the Author

Kathryn-Croft-author

Kathryn Croft is the bestselling author of six psychological thrillers, and to date has sold over one million copies of her books. The Girl With No Past spent over four weeks at number one in the Amazon UK chart and her other novels, Behind Closed Doors, The Stranger Within and The Girl You Lost all reached number one in the psychological thriller charts.

Her seventh psychological thriller is due to be released in October 2018. 

After six years teaching secondary school English, Kathryn now writes full time and lives in Guildford, Surrey with her husband and young family.  

Having always been an avid reader, Kathryn believes in the power of words to entertain, teach and transform lives. She is also a firm believer in following your dreams and says anything is possible if you work hard enough and never give up!

Connect with Kathryn:

Website: https://www.kathryncroft.com

Facebook: Author Kathryn Croft

Twitter: @KatCroft

Instagram: @authorkatcroft