Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes #BookReview (@MarianKeyes) @penguinrandom @PenguinUKBooks @PenguinRHUK @BleuViola #RachelsHoliday

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“They said I was a drug addict. But my occasional drug use was strictly recreational. And, hey, surely drug addicts are skinny?’

Rachel is living it up in New York City, spending her nights talking her way into glamorous parties before heading home in the early hours to her hot boyfriend Luke.

Then her sensible older sister shows up and even though it seems like a bad joke, she finds herself in actual rehab.

It’s there that she’s supposed to kick her non-existent drug habit – and to get over losing Luke. Luke’s a fox; he’s also strong and kind, but he has had more than he can take of Rachel.

None of this was part of her plan and saying goodbye to fun will be hard.

But not as hard as losing the man that, too late, she believes might be the love of her life.”

Bit of a retro review today which might make a nice change! I’ve not signed up for many blog tours this month, as I wanted to take the pressure off during NaNoWriMo, so I was planning on using the break to make a dent in my TBR. Then my friend, Kate, over at Ideas Become Words mentioned that she had started reading the copy of Rachel’s Holiday I had given her (she’d never read a Marian Keyes book, can you believe it?) and I was suddenly overcome with the urge to re-read it myself. It is my favourite of her books and it has been a few years since I read it. Then I felt guilty, because I have loads of new books languishing unread on my TBR. Then I thought how ridiculous that was, I read for pleasure so, if I want to re-read an old favourite, why not? Book blogging can warp your mind sometimes!

This is no small book. At 625 pages, it takes a commitment of time, but it is oh so worth it. As I went through, I remembered exactly why Marian Keyes is one of my favourite authors, and why I am not alone in adoring her. I think it also came along at an auspicious time in my own writing journey, to give me some insights into writing that I need to be able to move my own project forward.

This book is an exploration of addiction through the eyes of Rachel, who can’t see that she has a drug problem until her friends and family stage an intervention and force her into a treatment facility. We follow her progress through all the steps of her recovery, and it is an eye-opening, painful and emotional experience.

And this is the genius of Marian’s writing. It is completely truthful. She doesn’t shy away from showing things exactly the way they are. She writes with complete emotional honesty, without pulling any punches or shying away from things that are painful and laying everything bare. her writing isn’t sugar-coated or glittery, but it is real and her readers respond to this. They can see truths about the human experience, their experience, reflected back at them.

Rachel is not a very likeable character for most of the book. She is monstrously selfish and self-involved, refusing to see her issues and blaming everyone but herself, but Marian manages to make us care what happens to her by giving us glimpses of why she is the way she is and hints that maybe she is capable of redemption and worth rooting for and we can see it is important that we are shown the truth of what addiction does to a person. She is also not the stereotype of a drug addict, so we are left thinking, ‘there but by the grace of God,’ which draws us in to the story even more. It is a masterclass in hooking the reader and exactly the kind of thing I wish I could do with my own writing. Well, we can all dream!

Anyone who had read any of Marian’s non-fiction writing or follows her on Twitter will know that this is how she is in real life too. She is very honest about the struggles she has had herself with alcohol dependency and depression and is a vocal advocate of the things that she believes in. Plus, she is absolutely hilarious. All of this spills through and is very evident in her writing, which is a clear reflection of who she is. If you gave me an anonymously bound book written by Marian Keyes, I would know who the author was immediately, her voice is so strong and distinctive. I have been through a phase recently of not making much progress on my book for various reasons, one of which is that I am afraid my author voice is too light to do justice to the serious subject matter it covers, and that my prose style is too bare. Reading this book has reminded me of the value of being honest and open and authentic in your writing. Of just letting your voice speak out and putting the passion for your story and the truth of your experience into your book. This is what we, as readers, respond to. It shines from the pages and lights up the work, drawing the reader to it.

Re-reading this book has been one of the most useful experiences I have had this year and I feel motivated to crack on and be more Marian in my own writing – except the Yorkshire version, of course!

You can get a copy of Rachel’s Holiday here.

About the Author

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Marian Keyes’ international bestselling novels include Rachel’s Holiday, Last Chance Saloon, Sushi for Beginners, Angels, The Other Side of the Story, Anybody Out There?, This Charming Man,The Brightest Star in the Sky, The Mystery of Mercy Close and The Woman Who Stole My Life. Two collections of her journalism, Under the Duvet and Further Under the Duvet, are also available from Penguin. Marian lives in Dublin with her husband.

Connect with Marian:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarianKeyes

Twitter: @MarianKeyes 

Instagram: @marian_keyes

Website: www.mariankeyes.com

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham #BookReview (@JohnGrisham) @HodderBooks #TheRoosterBar #Thriller #Legal

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“Law students Mark, Todd and Zola wanted to change the world – to make it a better place. But these days these three disillusioned friends spend a lot of time hanging out in The Rooster Bar, the place where Todd serves drinks. As third-year students, they realise they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specialising in student loans, the three realise they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.

So they begin plotting a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they have to leave law school, pretend they are qualified and go into battle with a billionaire and the FBI . . .”

Ah, Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Back to school, the weather starts to nip, boots and coats are dug out of the closet, the leaves change colour and…it is time for a new John Grisham release. I always equate this time of year with the time to get a new one of his book. I now always have them on pre-order so I get them the day they come out, because I absolutely love his books. Always an edge-of-your-seat, irresistible combination of thriller and legal puzzle, his book are guaranteed to keep me glued to the pages from start to finish. I normally devour them as soon as they are out.

So imagine my surprise when, whilst waiting for his new book The Reckoning to be published, I realised that I hadn’t read last year’s release, The Rooster Bar. How did that happen? I can’t imagine except that my memory is like a sieve these days (I blame my age and hormones. In fact, it is even possible that I have read it and forgotten, things have got that bad.) Anyway, happy days – I now had another unread John Grisham to enjoy on my recent holiday.

I am always fascinated as to where authors get their ideas for novels from and there is an interesting note at the back of this book where Grisham reveals that the idea for this novel came from an article he read about the level of debt students in the US were taking on in order to put themselves through law school. Quite how he goes from what sounds like quite a dull article, particularly to non-lawyers, to a nail-biting thriller is the nature of his genius, because somehow he manages to spin it in to one of his classic plots that kept me up late desperate to get to the end.

The plot of this book is quite outrageous and I think you need to suspend your disbelief to buy in to it, but that is true of most thrillers, which are by their nature outlandish and pushing the boundaries of what is probable. These books are pure escapism, sometimes keeping only a slight grasp on reality and I am sure the court system in the USA would be outraged to think this could possibly happen (although I am now waiting for someone to tell me that it has been done.) Anyway, likelihood aside, the plot is original and gripping and an interesting spin on the ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’ roles as the protagonists are actually breaking the law but we still end up rooting for them, despite the fact that they are jeopardising the futures of their clients, because they themselves are victims in some respects. Should they get away scot-free? Is what happens to them justice? I don’t want to give anything away by revealing my thoughts but I think you will find more to ponder in these books than people often give Grisham credit for.

When I have revealed to people in the past what a massive fan I am of John Grisham’s books, I have met with some literary snobbery, most particularly from people who have never read any of his books. Well, firstly, I would query whether you can form a valid opinion of an author without reading a word they have written. And, secondly, you don’t sell as many books as John Grisham has without being able to write. He is the master of creating a taut, exciting and interesting thriller and this one is no exception. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as I always do, and can’t wait to read his new book.

The Rooster Bar is available now and you can get a copy here.

About the Author

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Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, he was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi, law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby—writing his first novel.

Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn’t have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. In 1983, he was elected to the state House of Representatives and served until 1990.

One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl’s father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.

That might have put an end to Grisham’s hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career—and spark one of publishing’s greatest success stories. The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on another novel, the story of a hotshot young attorney lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.

The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham’s reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham’s success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller.

Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, The Appeal, The Associate, The Confession, The Litigators, Calico Joe, The Racketeer, Sycamore Row, and Gray Mountain) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 300 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 40 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man. The Innocent Man (October 2006) marked his first foray into non-fiction, and Ford County (November 2009) was his first short story collection.

Grisham took time off from writing for several months in 1996 to return, after a five-year hiatus, to the courtroom. He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer: representing the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars. Preparing his case with the same passion and dedication as his books’ protagonists, Grisham successfully argued his clients’ case, earning them a jury award of $683,500—the biggest verdict of his career.

When he’s not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes, including most recently his Rebuild The Coast Fund, which raised 8.8 million dollars for Gulf Coast relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also keeps up with his greatest passion: baseball. The man who dreamed of being a professional baseball player now serves as the local Little League commissioner. The six ballfields he built on his property have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams.

Follow John on social media:

Website: http://www.jgrisham.com

Facebook: John Grisham

Twitter: @JohnGrisham

Instagram: @johngrishamauthor

Tempted by….Random Things Through My Letterbox: Bitter by Francesca Jakobi @fjakobi @wmbooks @annecater #bookbloggers #bloggerlove #readingrecommendations #booklove #Bitter

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“It’s 1969, and while the summer of love lingers in London, Gilda is consumed by the mistakes of her past. She walked out on her beloved son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he’ll never forgive her.

When Reuben marries a petite blonde gentile, Gilda takes it as the ultimate rejection. Her cold, distant son seems transformed by love – a love she’s craved his entire adult life. What does his new wife have that she doesn’t? And how far will she go to find out? It’s an obsession that will bring shocking truths about the past to light . . .

Bitter is a beautiful and devastating novel about the decisions that define our lives, the fragility of love and the bond between mother and son.”

Today’s book which has made its way on to my teetering TBR courtesy of a recommendation by a fellow book blogger is Bitter by Francesca Jakobi which I bought after reading this review by Anne Cater who blogs at Random Things Through My Letterbox.

Anne needs no introduction to most of you, she is the doyenne of book blogging, a highly respected blog tour organiser and general all-round head cheerleader for book promotion. I would find it hard to believe that there is anyone reading this who hasn’t read Anne’s blog but, if not, head over there straight away and check it out. Her reviews are always honest and well-balanced and insightful so, when she raves about a book as much as she did this one, I know it is something I need to read.

The premise of the book really grabbed me, a woman who walks out on her young child. As a mother, I can never understand how any woman could do this, so I’ll be fascinated to see what the protagonist’s motivations are and how their reunion pans out. I’m really drawn to books with flawed central characters, as most of us are in real life, and how the writer manages to make a reader care about someone who has done something deemed by society as so unnatural. Anne waxed so lyrical about the depth, subtlety and beauty of this book that it sounds like a compelling read and I’m looking forward to getting in to it.

Please do go and check out Anne’s original review of the book and if you then feel like it might be something you would enjoy, you can buy a copy here.

Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer #BookReview #BlogTour (@KelRimmerWrites) @headlinepg @annecater #randomthingstours

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“Your sister or her baby. Who do you choose?

As children, Lexie and Annie were incredibly close. Bonded by the death of their beloved father, they weathered the storms of life together. When Lexie leaves home to follow her dream, Annie is forced toturn to her leatherbound journal as the only place she can confide her deepest secrets and fears…

As adults, sisters Lexie and Annie could not be more different. Lexie is a successful doctor and happily engaged. Annie is an addict – a thief, a liar and unable to remain clean. When Annie’s newborn baby is in danger of being placed in foster care, Annie picks up the phone to beg her sister for help. Will Lexie agree to take in her young niece? And how will Annie survive, losing the only thing in her life worth living for?”

Today is my turn on the blog tour for Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer, which I have really been looking forward to reading. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

So, where do I even start with this book? It has completely blown me away in so many different ways. This book has given me so many things to think about, and aroused so many different emotions, I know it is one of those books that I may have closed the covers on and put back on the shelf, but it will remain open and alive in my mind for a long time to come.

This is the story of two sisters who are incredibly close despite being very different. This is the story about children robbed of their childhoods due to events and decisions of their parents over which they have no control. It is the story of how traumas inflicted on us early in life can send our lives spiralling off course in ways we cannot imagine. It is a story about how people need to open up and allow other people to help them if they are to survive and thrive in life. Mostly, it is a story about love and familial bonds that survive, no matter what.

This book deals with some very difficult topics – childhood loss, abuse, drug addiction, neo-natal addiction – but it does it with such empathy and tenderness and huge respect that, despite the terrible nature of the topics, they become easier to stomach some how, whilst still being shocking. The author has obviously done a huge amount of research for this book and introduces relevant and compelling facts about the subjects which are enlightening without being too dense to navigate. I found the parts dealing with the laws surrounding women and drug-taking during pregnancy particularly hard to believe and stomach and will definitely read up more on this topic.

The characters are beautifully written, particularly Lexie and Annie. I loved the way that we are able to clearly hear the voices of both women through the use of first person for Lexie throughout, and through Annie’s journal entries. It is a clever device, well executed and I really felt I got inside the minds of both women, who are both complicated and damaged. I came out totally understanding what was driving them both, and was very emotionally connected to both of them, to the extent that the book had me in tears in several places.

This book touches and tests the reader in a myriad of different ways – emotionally, intellectually, morally. It would be impossible to come away from reading this without asking yourself a lot of questions about what you believe about the subjects covered, and possibly like me, crying for the injustice meted out to certain sectors of society. It is particularly relevant, given the questions at the forefront of debate at the moment about how society views and treats women. Honestly, my head is spinning with thoughts and feelings about it all.

This book represents what good writing should do, and the kind of book that I would like to write if I thought I had the tiniest fraction of the talent it has taken to write this. This is definitely the kind of book we all should be reading – beautifully written, intelligent, thoughtful, provocative. Pretty much perfection.

Before I Let You Go is out now and you can purchase your copy here.

To see a range of views of this book, make sure you follow the rest of the tour as detailed below:

Before I let you go

About the Author

Kelly Rimmer Author Picture

Kelly Rimmer is the USA Today bestselling women’s fiction author of five novels, including Me Without You and The Secret Daughter. She lives in rural Australia with her husband, two children and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Connect with Kelly:

Website: https://kellyrimmer.com

Facebook: Kelly M Rimmer

Twitter: @KelRimmerWrites

Instagram: @kelrimmerwrites

Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen #BookReview #BlogTour (@antti_tuomainen) @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #PalmBeachFinland

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“Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village – the ‘hottest beach in Finland’. The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary. With a nod to Fargo, and the darkest noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a wicked black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives … from the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’.”

I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today for Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen. My huge thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to Orenda Books for my copy of the novel which I have reviewed honestly.

What to say about this genius book? When I found myself simultaneously gasping and laughing guilty at the the opening scenes of this book, I knew from the beginning that I was going to adore it, and everything about the rest of the book cemented this opinion.

This book is the wrong way round. You know from the very beginning who committed the crime. You might think this would spoil the tension of the book but it absolutely does not. For a start, we have no idea who is the victim is, and nor does anyone else. And despite the fact that the perpetrator is not a mystery, there are enough other twists, turns and gasp-out-loud surprises throughout the book to keep you turning the pages until the wee, small hours.

The cover of this book is perfect and would have me intrigued enough to pick up the book on its own, because the setting of this book is what makes it for me. Jorma Leivo is determined to develop the perfect beach resort on the coast of Finland for those people who don’t like it too hot (I actually know a few people to whom this idea would be appealing and I wonder why this place doesn’t actually exist), complete with Florida-style chalets painted pastel colours and named in homage to Miami Vice, cocktails, sun umbrellas, plastic flamingoes and water sports. The fact that the palm trees are plastic might give a hint at the struggle he is up against, but Jorma is nothing if not optimistic and determined – in fact, his absolute determination to bring his vision to life is part of the problem. The setting sets up limitless opportunities for humour, which is the heart of my delight in this book.

The humour is on the dark side, as this is a crime story after all, and the author does not shy away from the violence associated with this genre, but a lot of it is comical. Some of the scenes border on farce and had me laughing out loud, often into my hand as I felt like I shouldn’t really be laughing at all but I could not help myself. There are an array of fantastic characters in this book which tell the story from their own perspectives in alternating chapters and that you won’t be able to help but fall in love with, even the really terrible people. The two bumbling criminal henchmen who set the whole chain of events rolling with their ineptitude in the first place. The psychopathic brother hell bent on revenge. The undercover policeman posing as a holidaying maths teacher as he windsurfs his way to solving the crime. The array of small town dwellers with big hopes and dreams, They all bring this story to joyous life and I absolutely loved all of them by the end of the book.

I don’t read enough translated fiction but, if it was all as good as this, I would read more. I wish my Finnish was good enough to allow me to read this in the original but the translator has done a wonderful job of bringing the spirit of Antti’s story to life in English so we can enjoy it seamlessly. I think this is a book that has layers and layers of nuance to peel back over multiple readings and, consequently, the paperback is now on pre-order so that I can enjoy it again and again. I can’t recommend it highly enough – life-affirming pleasure in paperback form. Books like this are the reason I blog.

Palm Beach Finland is out now and you can buy your copy here.

This book is taking a month-long tour throughout October so there are plenty of fantastic reviews to choose from. If you would like to get an alternative perspective on the book from one of my fellow bloggers, check out the tours dates below:

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About the Author

Antti Tuomainen

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards.

Connect with Antti:

Website: http://anttituomainen.com

Facebook: Antti Tuomainen Official

Twitter: @antti_tuomainen

Instagram: @anttituomainen

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A Laughing Matter of Pain by Cynthia Hilston #BlogBlitz #PublicationDay (@cynthiahilston) @RaRaResources #ALaughingMatterOfPain

A Laughing Matter of Pain

Happy Publication Day, Cynthia Hilston! I am delighted today to be shining a spotlight on A Laughing Matter of Pain on its publication day. I hope you have a wonderful day, Cynthia and that my readers will check out your new book. I haven’t had chance to read it yet, but look forward to doing so soon. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s random Resources for inviting me to take part in this publication day push.

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“Harry Rechthart always knew how to laugh, but laughter can hide a lot of pain that’s drowned by the bottle and good times. He grew up the joker in the early 1900s in Cleveland, Ohio, but as he enters adulthood, conflict splits him. His once close relationship with his brother, Erik, breaks as they come into their own and Erik goes off to college. No longer under Erik’s shadow, Harry feels he might finally shine and make others see him as someone to be proud of. Harry finds an unlikely comrade who understands how he feels–his younger sister, Hannah. Once free of high school, Harry and Hannah double date sister and brother, Kat and Will Jones, attending wild, extravagant parties during the years of Prohibition. Harry thinks he’s won at life–he’s found love in Kat, in a good time, and in the bottle. But all the light goes out fast when Harry’s alcoholism leads to disastrous consequences for him and Kat.

Harry thinks the joke’s on him now that he’s sunk lower than ever. He’s in jail. He’s pushed away his family. He’s a broken man, but in the darkest depths of a prison cell, there is hope. Can Harry rebuild his life and learn that true laughter comes from knowing true joy, or will he bury himself once and for all in this laughing matter of pain?”

To buy a copy of A Laughing Matter of Pain, follow this purchase link.

About the Author

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Cynthia Hilston is a thirty-something-year-old stay at home mom of three young kids, happily married. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she finally stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction. Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful is her first original novel. She’s currently working on more books. Visit her website for more information.

In her spare time – what spare time? – she devours books, watches Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.

Connect with Cynthia:

Website: https://cynthiahilston.com

Facebook: Cynthia Hilston

Twitter: @cynthiahilston

Instagram: @authorcynthiahilston

Goodreads: Cynthia Hilston

Bear With Me by Jessica Redland #BlogTour #BookReview (@JessicaRedland) @RaRaResources #BearWithMe

Bear With Me

Delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour for Bear With Me by Jessica Redland. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.

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“Jemma has the job of her dreams as curator for the children’s section of a museum in London. She spends each day surrounded by the one thing she’s absolutely passionate about: teddy bears. When boyfriend, Scott, shows a genuine interest in her passion instead of laughing at her for “playing with teddies all day”, she knows he’s a keeper.

Returning home to the North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitsborough Bay to celebrate her birthday, Jemma thinks she’s heading for her happy-ever-after when Scott unexpectedly proposes. So, a few days later, why isn’t he retuning her calls or responding to her texts?

Julie has always been a wonderful single mother to Jemma and her little brother, Sean. As owner of specialist teddy bear shop, Bear With Me, and the creative genius behind the successful range of Ju-Sea Bears, she inspires Jemma with her ability to balance a demanding career with home life. So why is the shop now in disarray and why is Sean so upset?

Sam thought he had his future all worked out. With a promising neurology career, a home, and a devoted fiancée, life was looking good. But now he’s all alone in a strange city, far from everyone and everything he cares about, struggling to rebuild the tatters of his life. Did he do the right thing by running away? What does the future hold and is he strong enough to face it?

Sometimes love finds us when we least expect it. But sometimes love leaves us, just as unexpectedly. When you’ve loved and lost, can you bear to let love in again?

Bear With Me, as all will be revealed …”

So, I did not mean to post this so late in the day but this morning I found that I was in Twitter jail for the first time ever!

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Anyway, I was hanging on, hoping I’d be out so I could share this post properly but, alas, it looks like I’m in for a long stretch so it will have to take its chances on its own. Apologies, Jessica, if my tweeting misdemeanours affect the reach of the post. I promise I will reshare widely once I am released!

The cover gave me certain expectations for this book that were not not negative but I did think it was going to be a very light, untaxing kind of beach read. I have to say that I was surprised, there was a good deal more to the book than that. I was easy reading and fun in places but with a much deeper, more complex side to it that I was not expecting at all but really enjoyed.

The setting of the book, in a small seaside town on the North Yorkshire coast is fictional but so familiar to me that I believe I know the places Jessica had in mind when she was creating it, and they were places I spent all my summer holidays when I was a child as we live only 85 minutes from there, so I immediately felt at home in the setting and was able to relax into the book and integrate myself into it immediately. The author does a fantastic job of bringing the area to life in the book and anyone who isn’t familiar with the area I am sure will fall in love with it and want to visit.

The story has two main narrators, Jemma, living in London but drawn home to Whitsborough Bay by a health crisis for her mother. Sam has fled Whitsborough Bay after a personal tragedy but finds life in London a lonely existence. A chance encounter brings Jemma and Sam into contact and there stories merge as they form a friendship and find some of what the other needs in that relationship. Both characters were really well drawn and easy to warm to and I was drawn into their stories and excited to see where they would go.

This is a book that deals with some difficult issues – divorce, death, betrayal, loneliness and illness and has some complex themes of dealing with tragedy, acceptance, grief and loss and finding support in friendship, and possibly moving on through love. It was a really lovely balance between not shying away from tricky subjects but dealing with them in a deft, warm and light manner and leaving the reader ultimately satisfied and uplifted. I shed some tears, smiled some smiles and closed the book feeling like I had invested my time well by reading it. This book is much more than its cover would suggest. I would highly recommend it.

Bear With Me is out now and you can purchase a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour and read some other reviews, check out the blogs below:

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About the Author

Jessica - Author Photo

Jessica had never considered writing as a career until a former manager kept telling her that her business reports read more like stories and she should write a book. She loved writing but had no plot ideas. Then something happened to her that prompted the premise for her debut novel, Searching for Steven. She put fingers to keyboard and soon realised she had a trilogy and a novella!

She lives on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast – the inspiration for the settings in her books – with her husband, daughter, cat, Sprocker Spaniel, and an ever-growing collection of collectible teddy bears. Although if the dog has her way, the collection will be reduced to a pile of stuffing and chewed limbs!

Jessica tries to balance her time – usually unsuccessfully – between being an HR tutor and writing.

Connect with Jessica:

Website: http://www.jessicaredland.com

Facebook: Jessica Redland

Twitter: @JessicaRedland