The Brighton Mermaid by Dorothy Koomson #BookReview (@DorothyKoomson) @penguinrandom #TheBrightonMermaid

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Brighton Beach, 1993

Teenagers Nell and Jude find the body of a young woman and when no one comes to claim her, she becomes known as the Brighton Mermaid. Nell is still struggling to move on when, three weeks later, Jude disappears.

Twenty-five years on, Nell is forced to quit her job to find out who the Brighton Mermaid really was – and what happened to her best friend that summer.

But as Nell edges closer to the truth, dangerous things start to happen. Someone seems to be watching her every move, and soon she starts to wonder who in her life she can actually trust…

I’m writing this review from a very interesting place today, because I have just come away from a weekend spent at the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference in Lancaster where one of the highlights of the weekend for me was listening to Dorothy Koomson in conversation about her writing with RNA Chair, Alison May.

I have been in love with Dorothy Koomson’s writing since the very first book of hers that I picked up more than ten years ago. That book was Goodnight, Beautiful and it has remained very special to me because, not only was it a book I loved as a reader, but it is one of the books that has influenced me very deeply as a writer. The way I felt whilst reading this book is the way I want to make people feel when I write.

Dorothy’s writing has moved on a great deal since that book and she is one of the few authors writing who has managed to change genres very successfully. In fact, she has done this more than once, and it was fascinating to hear her talk about the resistance she had to these changes from others involved in her career and the absolute conviction in her own writing that has carried her through. It is this passion, this conviction, that comes through so clearly in her writing and carries we, the reader, along with her wherever she chooses to take us. I, for one, am always happy to follow and never regret the journey.

The Brighton Mermaid is no exception, it was an outstanding read for me. I finished it just before the conference, and was fascinated to hear some of the stories behind the writing of this book afterwards, which would never have been apparent from the finished product. Dorothy joked that she has invented a new genre, the emotional thriller, and this label definitely sums up the journey in this novel. It is quite unlike anything that anyone else is writing and I really felt that I were reading something new and interesting, that made me think and feel differently to anything else I had read when I had finished it.

The book follows the story of Nell, who has an experience in her teenage years that has a deep and lasting effect on her and all of the people who are close to her. A simple act on one night ripples through her family and friends and changes all of their lives forever. Nell is haunted by the experience and is still searching for answers when we catch up with her in her thirties in the present day. Her sister has also been impacted in a way that has left her with mental health issues and her parents lives were turned upside down. Her best friend disappeared and has left a question hanging over them all which has never been answered. Nell’s pursuit of the truth and a resolution to all their difficulties draws us in and holds us captive to the very last page.

This is not a traditional detective story or psychological thriller but a fascinating blend of the two, with a complex layer of emotional truth woven through it that asks more questions than it answers. Despite the fact that this is a very different book than the first Dorothy Koomson I fell in love with all those years ago, I was left with many of the same feelings by the end: riveted, moved, challenged and, ultimately, blown away by the skill of the author. This book could not have been written by anyone other than Dorothy Koomson and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I’m looking forward to reading the next one, and I have a copy of this which I will cherish.

The Brighton Mermaid is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here. Dorothy’s latest book is Tell Me Your Secret and it is also out now in hardback.

About the Author

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Dorothy Koomson is the award-winning author of 14 novels and has been making up stories since she was 13 when she used to share her stories with her convent school friends. Her published titles include: The Friend, When I Was Invisible, That Girl From Nowhere, The Flavours of Love, The Woman He Loved Before, Goodnight, Beautiful and The Chocolate Run.

Dorothy’s first novel, The Cupid Effect, was published in 2003 (when she was quite a bit older than 13). Her third book, My Best Friend’s Girl, was selected for the Richard & Judy Summer Reads of 2006 and went on to sell over 500,000 copies. While her fourth novel, Marshmallows For Breakfast, has sold in excess of 250,000 copies. Dorothy’s books, The Ice Cream Girls and The Rose Petal Beach were both shortlisted for the popular fiction category of the British Book Awards in 2010 and 2013, respectively.

Dorothy’s novels have been translated into over 30 languages, and a TV adaptation loosely based on The Ice Cream Girls was shown on ITV1 in 2013. After briefly living in Australia, Dorothy now lives in Brighton.

Connect with Dorothy:

Website: https://www.dorothykoomson.co.uk

Facebook: Dorothy Koomson Writer

Twitter: @DorothyKoomson

Instagram: @dorothykoomson_author

Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane by Emily Harvale #BookReview #BlogTour (@emilyharvale) @RaRaResources #Giveaway #RaRaResources #LilyPondLane

Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane

This is, sadly, my final visit to Little Pondale as I take part in the blog tour for Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane by Emily Harvale. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour to finish the journey with these characters and to Emily for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. Make sure you enter the giveaway detailed below!

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Everyone’s got a secret wish in Little Pondale this summer.

Mia’s been exceptionally lucky since moving to Lily Pond Lane. But even on her honeymoon with the man of her dreams, she still has one remaining wish.

Ella wishes Gill would propose. But since Mia’s wedding something’s changed in their relationship. Now he’s spending time with newcomer, Tabbie Talbaine, Ella wishes Tabbie will leave as quickly as she arrived.

Tabbie wishes she hadn’t driven her car into a pond. But it could be the best thing that’s ever happened to her. When she discovers Hollywood heartthrob, Justin Lake’s staying in the village, getting an interview for her popular blog isn’t her only wish.

Bree was told she couldn’t have a baby. Now she’s expecting twins and is simply wishing it all goes well.

And as for Hettie … she wishes she could get her hands on an old map of the village. Because there’s something hidden in Little Pondale that Hettie Turner really wants to find.

I have truly loved visiting Lily Pond Lane on and off with Emily Harvale over the last year to see how Mia, Jet and her friends were getting on, so I was happy to get one last chance to see how things had moved on after Jet and Mia’s wedding. What more could possibly happen?

Well, plenty is the answer, although mostly to people other than Jet and Mia, since their happy ending was pretty definitively sewn up in the last episode. It was the turn of the other characters to have their stories completed, along with newcomer Tabbie. There was just room for me to join Mia on her enviable honeymoon in the South Pacific, though, and for her to have a final surprise for the reader.

Emily, with her trademark charm provided me with plenty of feel good romance in this book, and some round ups for the characters we have come to know and love in Little Pondale, as well as introducing some new ones. I particularly loved the introduction of the reclusive Aurelia Jenkins, a woman who gives Hattie a run for her money through the course of the book. There is an extra dose of the Little Pondale magic in this book, literally in the plot and figuratively in the writing, and I was charmed from beginning to end.

This book, as the others do, will work as a standalone, but I think readers will get most out of it if they have read at least some of the proceeding titles in the series first. It definitely felt like a ‘tying up of loose ends’ novel, with some of the unresolved stories being concluded, and had less of a meaty, although still rewarding, plot of its own. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and have continued to fall in love with Emily’s writing throughout the series, but it one more for established fans rather than one I would advise new readers to start with. But what better excuse could there be for buying them all? You definitely will not regret it.

I am going to miss the gang in Little Pondale but I hope they all enjoy their futures in the village. See, they have become real friends to me. Thank you, Emily, for this series, a great addition to the romantic comedy genre.

Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, make sure you visit the blogs detailed on the poster below:

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Giveaway

Secret Wishes Blog tour giveaway

To win a signed paperback of Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses, a pen, novelty sticky notes and a bookmark, click on the Rafflecopter link below:

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*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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

About the Author

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Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now spends her days writing… and chatting on social media. Emily is a Member of the SoA, a PAN member of the RWA and a Pro Member of ALLi. She’s an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. Emily loves writing and her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.


Emily says, “I write about friendship, family and falling in love. I believe in happing endings.” When she isn’t writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies – and will do anything to avoid both.

Connect with Emily:

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

Facebook: Emily Harvale Writer

Twitter: @emilyharvale

Instagram: @emilyharvale

The Things I Know by Amanda Prowse #BookReview (@MrsAmandaProwse) @AmazonPub @NetGalley #NetGalley #TheThingsIKnow

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Thomasina ‘Hitch’ Waycott loves living and working on the remote family farm and B&B. But she also wants more. To see the world. To own her own home. To fall madly in love.

But those are fairy tales, and if her life is a fairy tale, then she’s the ugly duckling. Her deformed lip, her crooked limbs and her weak heart have kept her from taking chances. But that’s about to change.

When Grayson Potts comes to stay, he’s unlike anyone Thomasina has ever met. He’s aloof, eccentric and exceptionally kind. He’s also totally unconcerned with the physical flaws that have always defined Thomasina.

The two form a bond that neither has had before. It’s possible that it could become something more, but Thomasina also wonders if it’s too good to be true. By putting her heart on the line, Thomasina may open herself to heartbreak. But she may also open herself to so much more.

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital review copy of the latest book by one of my favourite authors, Amanda Prowse, The Things I Know. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

Amanda Prowse is the queen of emotionally intricate women’s fiction and this book is another fine example of the genre. I loved it from start to finish. I was drawn in to the small, confined, but deeply complex life of ‘Hitch’ Waycott, a person who is full of potential but hemmed in by family circumstances and the under-estimation of the people who surround her. She wants more from life, and we follow her as she starts to believe she might get it, as do we. The author is so good at building deeply rich and believable characters that the reader cannot help but fall in love with from the start.

This book is set within a small world, with small lives and small concerns, or so it might seem from the outside. But, of course, nothing is small to those people involved and what may seem unimportant, insignificant, to outsiders, means everything to the people involved and Amanda is a genius at making us just as involved in these seemingly minor troubles as those people to whom they mean the world, literally. Hitch’s entire world has been built on one tiny patch of land and, when that is under threat, so is her stability, her security, everything she has ever known, unless she is brave enough to recognise that it could be the opportunity she has been waiting for.

This book had, for me, a very curious and unusual ‘other-worldly’ feel to it. Despite being set in contemporary times, it had the feeling of a piece of period writing, as if it could be set at any time, as if it were happening out of the normal ambit of current experience. I fear I am not explaining myself very well here, possibly because I have never experienced anything quite like it before and I cannot quite put my finger on what it is that felt so different about it. It was a little dream-like maybe, disconnected…I am not sure. Maybe this was a reflection of the disconnection that Hitch feels to the world around her, sheltered as she has been from it. Whatever it was, it really added to the suspension from reality I always feel when I lose myself in a really good book and I welcomed it as part of the reading experience.

This book really moved me. The characters captured my heart and made me care for them. They were beautifully written, sympathetic and realistic. The story, for all its gentleness, packed an emotional punch and I was compelled through the story by the connection I had with the characters and the ease and beauty of the writing. This is as pretty much perfect as you can get for a book in this genre.

Amanda Prowse has produced another magnificent read and remains the author to whose heights I aspire with my own writing. If only.

The Things I Know is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author who has had twenty one novels published in dozens of languages. Her chart topping No.1 titles ‘What Have I Done?’, ‘Perfect Daughter’, ‘My Husband’s Wife’ and ‘The Girl in the Corner’ have sold millions of copies around the world.

Other novels by Amanda Prowse include ‘A Mother’s Story’ which won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the year Award and ‘Perfect Daughter’ that was selected as a World Book Night title in 2016. Amanda’s latest book ‘The Coordinates of Loss’ went straight to No.1 in Literary Fiction when it was launched. She has been described by the Daily Mail as ‘The Queen of Family Drama.’

Published by Lake Union, Amanda is the most prolific writer of bestselling contemporary fiction in the UK today; her titles also consistently score the highest online review approval ratings across several genres.

A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda is a regular panellist on Channel 5’s ‘The Jeremy Vine Show’ and numerous daytime ITV programmes. She makes countless guest appearances on BBC national independent Radio stations including LBC and Talk FM, where she is well known for her insightful observations and her infectious humour.

Amanda’s ambition is to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can’t possibly read another book until the memory fades…

Connect with Amanda:

Website: https://www.amandaprowse.com

Facebook: Amanda Prowse Author

Twitter: @MrsAmandaProwse

Instagram: @mrsamandaprowse

The Hotel Where We Met by Belinda Jones #BookReview (@belindatravels) @NottingHillPR @delcoronado #TheHotelWhereWeMet #california #travel

The Hotel Where We Met

There’s a very particular reason why Chloe Sinclair has not met her Mr Right – he doesn’t exist. And he doesn’t exist because he was never born. And the reason he was never born is because the right couples in history did not get together. It now falls to Chloe to travel back in time to matchmake like her love-life depended on it…

Each of Chloe’s trips revolves around the iconic Hotel Del Coronado – part historic landmark, part Californian fairytale. Here she experiences the Victorian era when the doors first opened, the Roaring Twenties, the Fifties during the filming of Some Like It Hot and the Eighties karaoke party of your dreams!

A very special friendship has guided her to this point but the adventures go way beyond Chloe’s expectations and she soon learns that, when it comes to love, it’s all in the timing…

About flipping time! It has been waaaaaaay too long since I had a new Belinda Jones book to read, so I was absolutely delighted when I found out that Belinda had a new book coming out and that she was looking for bloggers to give it some early reviews. I have been a huge fan since I read her first book (Divas Las Vegasstill one of my favourites) so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on an early copy of her latest book, The Hotel Where We Met. Huge thanks to Belinda for sending my an e-copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

For anyone who has never read a book by Belinda before (and why not, I ask?), she writes fabulous, fun romance stories set in exotic locations, and this is no exception. The story revolves around the famous Hotel Del Coronado set on Coranado Island, just off the coast of California near San Diego. Many of you will recognise it as the setting for the movie Some Like It Hot with Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis, and this fact does not escape comment in the book, but you’ll have to read it to find out the significance. Disney lovers will also recognise the hotel as the inspiration for the Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World.

The main reason that I love Belinda’s books so much is that she is a genius at bringing the settings of her book to life in the mind of her reader. She whisks you away from whatever mundane location you happen to be reading the book in and straight into the heart of the book, so they are perfect for armchair travellers such as myself. There is not a book of hers that I have read without wanting to jump on a plane and head off to its setting immediately. The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo has been on my bucket list for years after it featured in The California Club (my one chance to go was thwarted by heavy rain washing the road into the sea just before our Highway 1 trip was due to happen. One day I’ll try again!) and Quebec City jumped straight to the top of my dream destination list after I read Winter WonderlandNow I am busy Googling holiday packages to California so I can visit the Del. (I think I’ve got a good chance on this one as The Irishman is desperate to do a California trip.) This book sells the destination and lifestyle better than any glossy travel brochure or expensive commercial could do. I could picture the hotel clearly in my minds eye and was right there with Chloe. Now I want to be right there for real.

Aside from the exotic setting, this book has a great romance story and fantastic characters that you will absolutely fall head over heels for, but what sets this book apart is the time travel twist. I don’t want to say much and include any spoilers in my review, what I will say is that Belinda is a genius and has really pulled the plot of all plots out of the bag for this book. I absolutely loved it, and loved how it enabled her to twist lots of fun time periods and historical detail together. It is like she has taken everything I ever loved about my all-time favourite romantic fiction books and crammed them all in to this story. I feel like she wrote it just to make me happy, it warmed every cockle of my heart. I raced through it, but didn’t want it to end. It was summer reading perfection, especially for a week that has been damp and dreary here in Yorkshire. Escapism, in every sense of the word, at its best.

Belinda Jones fans will not be disappointed in this book, and those of you who haven’t read any of her books before will get a great introduction to what makes her books so special. As for me, I have a question and a suggestion for Belinda. Firstly, when is the paperback coming out, because I need it for my ‘Belinda Jones’ shelf? Secondly, please don’t leave it so long before you write another book, I have really missed you.

The Hotel Where We Met is out now in ebook format and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Belinda Jones is the bestselling author of 12 travelicious novels set in dream locations from Tahiti to Capri. Her latest novel – THE HOTEL WHERE WE MET – takes the travel theme a step further with time travel to the Victorian era, Roaring Twenties, Fifties and Eighties for the best music party – all set on a dreamy Californian beach!

If you like Red Velvet Cake, Whoopie Pie or pink cupcakes, join four generations of women on a cake-themed odyssey around New England with THE TRAVELLING TEA SHOP

If you’re a Dog-lover or USA-lover you’ll enjoy Belinda’s real life memoir BODIE ON THE ROAD – The Dogged Pursuit of Happiness. (Think EAT PRAY LOVE meet MARLEY & ME!) There’s also a matching website with lots of fun dog travel tips & guides: http://www.bodieontheroad.com

Belinda’s first real-life road trip memoir – ON THE ROAD TO MR RIGHT: The Search For The American Dream Guy – made the Sunday Times Top 10 alongside her hero Bill Bryson.

The Romantic Novelists’ Association nominated her one snowy story – WINTER WONDERLAND – for Best Romantic Comedy of the Year. The action takes place during the magical Quebec Winter Carnival and features husky puppies (hence the pic!)

For everyone who wishes life could be one long holiday but has a short attention span, Belinda has teamed up with some of the hottest writers in women’s fiction to take you Around the World in 80+ Stories with the bumper SUNLOUNGER & SUNLOUNGER 2 short story anthologies! Visit http://www.sunloungerstories.com to discover more about the talent involved, including Milly Johnson, Alexandra Potter, Ruth Saberton, Talli Roland and Victoria Fox.

Belinda’s dream home is the paradise island of Coronado (the setting for THE HOTEL WHERE WE MET) but she and Bodie are currently spending the summer in Devon, UK doing intensive Cream Tea research.

Connect with Belinda:

Website: https://www.bodieontheroad.com

Facebook: Belinda Jones Travel Club

Twitter: @belindatravels

Instagram: @bodieontheroad

Pinterest: @belindatravels

The Gift of Friends by Emma Hannigan #BookReview #BlogTour @headlinepg @annecater @NetGalley #RandomThingsTours #NetGalley #TheGiftOfFriends

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Kingfisher Road – a leafy, peaceful street in the town of Vayhill. But there are whispers behind closed doors. Who is moving into Number 10?

Engaged to handsome, wealthy Justin Johnston, Danielle appears to her new neighbours to have the perfect, glossy life. But not everything is as it seems…

In fact, each of the other four women who live close by has a secret, and each is nursing their own private heartache.

But could a gift be waiting on their doorsteps? And, by opening their front doors, and their hearts, to each other, could the women of Kingfisher Road discover all the help they need?

This thirteenth and final novel from the beloved and inspiring Emma Hannigan is a life-affirming, uplifting story that celebrates the strength and joys of female friendship.

I’m thrilled to be winding up the blog tour for The Gift of Friends by Emma Hannigan today and I send my huge thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours who squeezed me in to the tour because she knew I was desperate to be included, and to Headline for my copy of the book via NetGalley, a book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is a beautiful book. Truly. I enjoyed every single second I spent between its pages and I was incredibly sad when it was over. I wanted to linger in the story, and in the lives  of the five women who were the main characters of the book, what better endorsement could you possibly give a book?

The book follows the lives of five women who live on the same beautiful street in Ireland. The women are friends, but they all have problems and secrets that they aren’t sharing with one another, until circumstances force hidden issues out in to the open. This is a book about how the support and understanding of people who care about you can help you through and make problems easier to bear.

The writing in this novel is very warm and engaging, it draws you in and holds you in its grasp throughout the book. As soon as I started reading, I was completely lost in the story, the world outside the book ceased to exist and I was totally engrossed in the world that the author created. Being pulled from the pages felt like a loss each time, and I couldn’t wait to get back into the story every time I had to put it down; I raced through the pages, whilst not wanting the story to end.

The characters are very well written and believable. I believed these women could exist and have the relationships and the problems that were featured in the book. Their lives perhaps are not extraordinary, or particularly exciting, but they were real and relatable and exactly the kind of thing that you or I might experience in our lives. I felt like they could be me and my friends and I loved reading about them as if they were my own friends.

Although the issues dealt with in the book may not seem earth-shattering to the outside world, the book deals with the type of things that can really rock the world of the woman involved, even if it is invisible to the outside world and makes little ripple in the fabric of  the universe outside of that life. It shows how people can be struggling in secret without anyone noticing the seismic things that are happening within them, and what a difference it can make when someone does notice and reaches out. The storylines were written so tenderly and with such empathy that there were many parts that truly moved me and had me welling up, a lump at the back of my throat. It is a really wonderful and well-written book that rewarded me in spades for picking it up.

I think this book has made it on to my list of my favourite reads of the year so far. It is charming, engaging, thought-provoking, uplifting and moving. The fact this is Emma’s final book lends it an additional poignancy and I really hope it is widely read. it deserves to be, and any reader will not regret picking it up.

The Gift of Friends is out now. I have bought a paperback copy and you should get one too. You can purchase the book here.

To read the reviews of the book by the other bloggers on the tour, please find their blog details below:

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About the Author

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Emma Hannigan was the No. 1 bestselling author of eleven novels including Letters to My Daughters, The Wedding Promise, The Perfect Gift, and The Summer Guest, as well as a memoir, All to Live For, which was about surviving an eleven year battle with cancer – facing cancer 10 separate times over the course of those years – and remaining strong, positive and warm. Very sadly, we have now lost Emma in the fight against cancer – she passed away at the end of February 2018.

The Gift of Friends went straight to number one on the bestseller lists in Ireland and has remained there ever since.

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One Last Greek Summer by Mandy Baggot #BookReview #BlogTour (@mandybaggot) @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #PublicationDay #NetGalley #OneLastGreekSummer

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Beth Martin is 31, newly divorced and wondering just what life holds for her…

Best-friend, Heidi, is adamant that all the answers lie in Corfu – the island where the girls’ partied away their youth.

So cue a trip to a sun-drenched Greek island, ouzo cocktails, a trip down memory lane…and Alex Hallas, the man Beth has never quite forgotten.

As they dance under the stars, the sand beneath their toes, old feelings begin to resurface and Beth might just have a chance to take back her life. If they can learn to love the people they’ve become…

Today is publication day for Mandy Baggot’s new book, One Last Greek Summer, and I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour to celebrate. Happy Publication Day, Mandy. My thanks to Victoria Joss at Head of Zeus for inviting me to take part and for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

You may or may not be aware, but I haven’t been able to read a book for five weeks. (If you are remotely interested in why, you can find out here) and this was the first book I picked up after my hiatus. What a delightful novel this was to ease myself back into the reading habit.

This is a sweet, gentle story of lost love, re-evaluating life and new beginnings and it was charming from start to finish. I loved the fact that this was not a book about twenty-somethings, but people slightly later on in life who have made mistakes, lived life a little and are making decisions based on experience and thought rather than impulse and dreams, although there is still some room for romance and dreams in the novel!

Set on the sun-drenched island of Corfu, the author does a wonderful job of transporting the reader into the heart of that beautiful place and surrounding them with all the sights, sounds and smells of Greece. I could almost smell the lemon groves and feel the sand between my toes. It really lifted my spirits after a trying period for me and I savoured every minute of it. This is the perfect book with which to kick off the summer holiday season.

There is nothing to dislike about the characters in this book. The heroine, Beth, is someone I connected with from the start of the book and I was fully invested throughout. Alex was attractive without being two-dimensional and I really believed in their romance and was willing them on. Heidi, Margalo and the goats provided a lot of fun throughout the book and the ‘villain’ was not really villainous to the point of caricature, which is sometimes the downfall of a romance novel, so all in all, this book was pretty perfect.

I thoroughly enjoyed One Last Greek Summer. It was easy reading from start to finish, well-paced throughout and the prose carried my through effortlessly. If someone is looking for a great, escapist read with a warming dose of romance and a really charming story, you won’t do better. I highly recommend it.

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

This book is taking an extended tour, so make sure you check out the rest of the blogs taking part over the next few weeks:

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About the Author

Mandy Baggot

Mandy Baggot is an international bestselling and award-winning romance writer. The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy’s books have so far been translated into German, Italian, Czech and Hungarian. Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.

Connect with Mandy:

Website: http://mandybaggot.com

Facebook: Mandy Baggot Author

Twitter: @mandybaggot

Instagram: @mandybaggot

 

The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon #BookReview #BlogTour (@VandaSymon) @OrendaBooks @AnneCater #TheRingmaster #RandomThingsTours #NewZealandNoir

The Ringmaster Final Cover

Death is stalking the South Island of New Zealand…

Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…
Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the new book by Vanda Symon. The Ringmaster is the second book in the Sam Shepard detective series (you can read my review of the first book, Overkillhere.) and I was really excited to see what Sam was up to. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my place on the tour and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Things have moved on for Sam Shephard since the events of Overkill. She has moved from the small town of Matuara to the bright lights of Dunedin and started her training as a detective. However, she is now at the bottom of the pecking order and not everyone is happy with her fast-tracking to CIB, particularly her boss, who seems to have it in for her and makes her life as difficult as possible.

The books kicks off to a flying start with the disturbing murder of a female student from the university at the same time as a protest at a circus which is visiting the town. As Sam gets involved in investigating the antics at the circus, she becomes convinced that it may have some connection to the murder and she is determined to work out how.

I absolutely loved the character of Sam in the first book and she has lost none of her drive or feistiness since moving to the city, despite her boss’s best efforts to keep her ‘in her place.’ She has a natural aptitude for police work and is determined to do her bit, whatever the personal cost, which makes her an admirable and entertaining protagonist for the story. We also get to see more complications in her personal life in this book through her relationship with her parents, and a potential new love interest, which serves to give the reader further human connection with Sam and draws us further into her story. I was hooked in from the start, firmly on Sam’s side and willing her to solve the case and prove her worth in her new role.

Even if I hadn’t read the first book, I would still have been tempted to pick this up, as I am a sucker for a book with a circus theme so the cover alone would have drawn me in and this book would work perfectly as standalone for anyone who hasn’t read the first one. The circus provides colour and excitement to the story, and some healthy moments of humour and pathos, which gives the book a really nice balance. Thus us one thing I find particularly attractive about Vanda’s writing, she manages to balance the light and shade beautifully to give the reader a real series of highs and lows throughout the story which makes for a very rewarding reading experience.

New Zealand plays a distinctive role in these books, and it was nice to discover a new side to the country with the author’s descriptions of the setting, scenery, flora and fauna of the area. I think the Kiwi flavour is a big part of what makes these books a standout for me, and such an enjoyable read. That, together with the easy flow of the writing, the great characterisation and a gripping plot, of course! I did feel that there was one tiny loose end that wasn’t quite tidied up satisfactorily to do with the motivation behind one of the sub-plot points (it’s hard to say more without including a spoiler) but it wasn’t a major let down for the book, more a niggle for my particularly anal brain. All in all, this was a very satisfying read and I look forward to reading the next one.

I have bought a paperback copy of this book, you should too.

The Ringmaster is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you visit the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour to get a range of views on the book:

The Ringmaster blog poster 2019 (1)

About the Author

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Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

Connect with Vanda:

Website: http://vandasymon.com/index.php

Facebook: Vanda Simon

Twitter: @vandasymon

Instagram: @vandasymon

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