#BlogBlitz : If Fear Wins by Tony J Forder @TonyJForder : @sarahhardy681 @BloodhoundBook : #NetGalley #IfFearWins #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts today on “If Fear Wins” by Tony J Forder as part of the blog tour by Sarah at Bloodhound Books. It is available in paperback and eBook format from Amazon UK Many thanks to Tony, Sarah, Bloodhound and NetGalley for my copy and spot on the tour.

Synopsis:

When a torched body is found in a country lane, DI Bliss and Chandler are called in to investigate.

The detectives are drawn towards recent missing person reports, and believe their victim will prove to be one of them. Bliss thinks he knows which, and fears the outcome if he is proven right.

Soon the body is identified, and Bliss and Chandler discover evidence suggesting this murder might be a terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, someone from Bliss’s past needs his help, and soon he is juggling his personal life with the demanding case. To make matters more complicated, MI5 and the Counter-Terrorist Unit are called in to help solve the case. But are they on the right track?

Bliss and Chandler soon find themselves in a race against time, and this might just be their most challenging case yet…

My Thoughts:

A torched body, a missing person, possible terrorist threat, a friend needing help, MI5, a vindictive boss are just a few of the basics in this third in the series book. It can be read as a stand alone, the stories do have a continuing theme so to read the series would give a much better understanding.

The author definitely has a lot going on in this book as he takes the reader into a police procedural story. DI Bliss and Chandler are back working together and I really like this combo as they work their way through the streets and surrounding area of Peterborough. I really like the character of Bliss, in some ways he is corny, a little cliché but a great character all the same. He does have a the odd personality trait and a history that does not sit well with others but this adds a slight touch of humour to him and the story.

The plot is a labyrinth of twists that I have come to expect from this author with the red herrings along the way. The vast majority of the book is given to the investigations, briefings and the lives of the characters. The author gradually builds up the suspense and intrigue in the story before pulling the threads for the conclusion. I have not included anything about the plot for fear of spoiling it for other readers. The author has woven threads into the story that I didn’t expect and in a clear way as the story drew me deeper in.

This is darker and a little more gruesome than previous books. It also felt as if there was more police procedure to this than other with various agencies being involved with their bureaucratic faffing and interfering and this for me worked well.

A great read for those who like a clever plot in their crime, thriller, murder, suspense reads, and one I would definitely recommend.

About the Author:

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Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed crime thriller series featuring detectives Jimmy Bliss and Penny Chandler. The first two books, Bad to the Bone and The Scent of Guilt, will be joined in the series on 29 May 2018 by If Fear Wins.
Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This was intended to be a stand-alone novel, but Tony is now considering the possibility of a follow-up.

One book that will definitely see a sequel is Scream Blue Murder. This was published in November 2017, and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross, Matt Hilton and Anita Waller.

Tony lives with his wife in Peterborough, UK.

Links:-  Website –  Facebook –  Twitter –  Goodreads – Barnes & Noble –  Bloodhound Books

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#BlogTour : The Street Orphans by Mary Wood @Authormary : #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts for “The Street Orphans” by Mary Wood as part of the blog tour. Published in eBook, paperback and audio formats. My thanks to Mary and also Kate at Pan Macmillan for my copy of this book and my spot on the tour.

Synopsis:

The Street Orphans is an emotional story set in 1850s Lancashire, from Mary Wood, the author of In Their Mother’s Footsteps and Brighter Days Ahead.

Born with a club foot in a remote village in the Pennines, Ruth is feared and ridiculed by her superstitious neighbours who see her affliction as a sign of witchcraft. When her father is killed in an accident and her family evicted from their cottage, she hopes to leave her old life behind, to start afresh in the Blackburn cotton mills. But tragedy strikes once again, setting in motion a chain of events that will unravel her family’s lives.

Their fate is in the hands of the Earl of Harrogate, and his betrothed, Lady Katrina. But more sinister is the scheming Marcia, Lady Katrina’s jealous sister. Impossible dreams beset Ruth from the moment she meets the Earl. Dreams that lead her to hope that he will save her from the terrible fate that awaits those accused of witchcraft. Dreams that one day her destiny and the Earl’s will be entwined.

My Thoughts:

Now I know of the name, have seen a few books but have never read a book by this author. Looking through her books there is definitely a theme of historical based family sagas and social history. The Street Orphans is one that falls into these categories.

The story is of Ruth, a young woman with a club foot in 1850’s Lancashire. Her disability gives cause for concern for people as she is seen as “different” and therefore cannot be trusted and quite possibly a witch. A time where superstition and stigma are attached just as quick as mud to a shoe.

I loved this book and for so many reasons. I like to be taken into a the social aspects of a story and the contrasts between the various classes is wonderful. She explains within the story how stereotypes and stigmas cause mistrust and twists perceptions. This is very evident with another character, Katerina. Her parents have a mixed background marriage and the expectations of wealthy and titled as well as untitled people have their own set of problems. Arranged marriages for financial security, business deals, social status are among some of the challenges that are set out.

I really liked the way the author has used the local dialect for some of her characters. For me this worked really well and showed an emphasis on the differences between the locals and some other characters.

As with many things then as is now, power is an all-encompassing beast. The more you have, the more you can lose. The more you have, the more you want. This is played out really well within one of the plots of the story. Even though we follow the story of Ruth there are other stories that cross and intertwine with hers.

The story takes you into a world that is tragic, heartbreaking, cruel and nasty but it is gently balanced with a heartwarming and hopeful thread. I went through quite a few emotions with this story from shock and horror at some of the treatment and opinions, heartbreaking moments as things for the characters changed and the consequences that followed.

As I mentioned earlier, this is my first experience with this author and if this book is anything to go by i will be reading more. I would have quite happily sat and read tis book in a day if I had started it earlier, as it was I read it over two evenings. It was a story that caught me right from its shocking start and kept my attention throughout.

It is an amazing story with some wonderful characters and fantastic dialogue and setting descriptions. The plot took me through the highs, lows and some of the characters I loved some I loathed as I was transported back to the Victorian era of Lancashire. This author knows how to write a good story and I would highly recommend this book for readers of historical fiction, historical romance, social history,

About the Author:

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Born in Maidstone, Kent, in 1945, the thirteenth child of fifteen children, Mary’s family settled in Leicestershire after the war ended.

Mary married young and now, after 54 years of happy marriage, four children, 12 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren, Mary and her husband live in Blackpool during the summer and Spain during the winter – a place that Mary calls, ‘her writing retreat’.

After many jobs from cleaning to catering, all chosen to fit in with bringing up her family, and boost the family money-pot, Mary ended her 9 – 5 working days as a Probation Service Officer, a job that showed her another side to life, and which influences her writing, bringing a realism and grittiness to her novels

Mary first put pen to paper, in 1989, but it wasn’t until 2010 that she finally found some success by self-publishing on kindle.

Being spotted by an editor at Pan Macmillan in 2013, finally saw Mary reach her publishing dream.

When not writing, Mary enjoys family time, reading, eating out, and gardening.

Follow Mary on – Website – Twitter

GIVEAWAY ALERT ……Mary is running a giveaway and will offer a signed copy of the book to be drawn from those leaving a comment on the site.

Disclaimer: I am not involved in any way with this giveaway. The author will contact any winners directly. Any responsibility for the prize lies with the author.

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#BlogTour : Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind by Elizabeth McGivern @MayhemBeyond : @rararesources : #Extract

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Today I am sharing an extract for “Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind” by Elizabeth McGivern as part of the blog tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. This is a book that is now on my TBR pile for reading at a future date. You can purchase a copy from Amazon UK and also Amazon.com

Synopsis:

Amy Cole is a stay-at-home mum and a woman on the edge.
After a very public breakdown and failed suicide attempt, Amy finds herself trying to make it through her everyday life as a high-functioning zombie.
Elle De Bruyn is a force of nature ready to shake Amy back to life whether she likes it or not.
After a fortuitous meeting, the two embark on a journey together which will change them both and help them find out exactly what they’re capable of when rock bottom is just the beginning.

Extract:

This extract takes place when Elle convinces Amy to come out for the evening. Elle is convinced that Amy needs drastic help with boosting her confidence and decides on an unorthodox approach to solve this particular problem:

“I think you need a bit of a confidence boost. You’re in this little bubble of your family and you just seem so fucking deflated. Like ‘what’s the point in even trying’ type aura around you,” said Elle.

“Look at you tonight, you look great. Why don’t you make that type of effort all the time? Now, before you get all indignant  ask yourself: ‘Did you get a little lift from taking the time on yourself?’ This isn’t about dressing up for Ben or anyone else, I mean do it just for you.

“Bitta lippy can go a long way to helping you face the day. My make-up is my war paint and I’m ready to kick arse in the day ahead. It’s a little thing, but confidence is key. You’re the least assertive person I’ve met and I think a little confidence boost could do you wonders.”

“What’s the point in putting on make-up? It takes up time I’d rather spend sleeping.”

“See? ‘What’s the point’? That defeatist attitude has got to go. You’re amazing and I’m going to shake you back to life even if it kills me.”

“So what? I should shove on some lipstick and sing a power ballad at some cheesy karaoke bar? I’d rather throw myself from the car now.”

“No! I can’t stand karaoke bars. They’re really depressing. There’s always some group of women singing ‘I will survive’ or an ageing crooner, who thought he was a ‘star’ in his youth, massacring a Meatloaf song. My idea is much more sensible. All you’ve got to do is trust me and keep an open mind. We’re here.”

She had pulled up to a trendy bar on the other side of the town. I hadn’t been there before, but that wasn’t hard. Bars and bistros were always popping up and disappearing before I had a chance to even know they existed.

A very cheery-looking hostess greeted us at the door. Her teeth were unnaturally white and I felt unnerved when she smiled at us.

“Hiya, ladies!” she said, “If you want to pick up a wee form over there and pop on a wee name sticker we’ll be starting in a wee while. Any questions?”

“Yeah, can you stop smiling at us for a wee while, because it’s really freaking me out?” asked Elle, nervously.

The hostess immediately dropped her act and nodded her head towards the pens.

“There are the wee pens, move the fuck along. Thanks, ladies.”

I pulled Elle away from the, now glowering, hostess towards the group of women already filling in their ‘wee questionnaire’. I didn’t need to wonder any longer what the evening held; it was in bold print at the top of the page: Speed Dating.

“No. I’m out of here,” I said.

I spun on my heels and headed to the front door, past the confused looking hostess, when Elle managed to get in between me and the exit. She forcefully clotheslined me into a booth, where an unsuspecting couple were sitting. She then proceeded to wrestle me into an awkward lying position, taking over half of the booth. Eventually, she managed to pin my arms across my chest and sit on my legs.

“I told you to keep an open mind, princess. This doesn’t seem like you’re being very receptive to this idea.”

“One: I’m married, two: I can’t imagine if I were single that I would remotely be interested in meeting people this way, three: I’m married and four – “

“Let me guess: you’re married?”

“YES!”

“Sorry, we’re trying to have a romantic meal here can you girls please just take your domestic somewhere else?” said the male half of the disturbed couple.

“Shut up, arsehole; she would be so lucky to have me as her woman.”

Turning to me she continued: “Now if I let you up will you promise to hear me out?”

“Like I have a choice, you drove me here and assaulted me when I tried to leave.”

“Great!” She turned her attention to the couple once again and said: “Sorry about the ‘arsehole’ comment. Can you two, shove up? I need to give this one a pep talk.”

They stared dumbfounded and eventually shuffled up allowing us both to sit in the booth with them. This did not make things less awkward between us.

“Now, as I was saying in the car I think you have a self-esteem issue and I want to help. The make-up is all superficial nonsense, I grant you, but I thought if you could see yourself through someone else’s eyes – particularly someone who wasn’t looking at you as their wife or mother – you’d be able to see you’re not dead yet.”

Was I spending too much time with this woman or did this make sense?

“You deserve to feel desired and attractive and from what I gather by your put-upon demeanour you’re not exactly feeling that within yourself. This isn’t about the men you talk to it’s about the feedback after. Personally, I could live without men – no joke – but I couldn’t find an all-female empowerment conference for this evening in this shitty town so I’m improvising. I just want you to see yourself from another perspective. If you take nothing from this experience, so be it; at least there’s wine.”

I don’t know how long I stared at her saying nothing.

“What have you got to lose?” said the female half of our booth companions.

“See? She agrees with me and she knows what she’s talking about – I just know by the look of you. You’re totally in the know.”

Female booth companion seemed pleased by this ridiculous compliment and blushed while her partner stifled a laugh.

“You are buying all the wine,” I said in a defeated tone, “and we don’t say a word to Ben about this.”

“No problem, I agree to both those conditions, you’re not going to regret this.”

“I already am.”

About the Author:

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Picture credited to Jess Lowe 

Elizabeth McGivern is a former journalist turned hostage-in-her-own-home surrounded by three men and a horrible dog named Dougal.

In an effort to keep her sanity she decided to write a parenting blog after the birth of her first son so she can pinpoint the exact moment she failed as a mother.

In an unexpected turn of events, the blog helped her to find a voice and connect with parents in similar situations; namely those who were struggling with mental health issues and parenting. It was because of this encouragement – and wanting to avoid her children as much as possible – her debut novel, Amy Cole has lost her mind, was born.

Elizabeth lives in Northern Ireland although wishes she could relocate to Iceland on a daily basis.

To witness her regular failings as a parent you can find her on: Website  – Facebook  – Twitter  – Instagram

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#BlogTour : Indigo Lost by S R Summers @IndigoLost : @Authoright #Extract

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I am sharing an extract today for “Indigo Lost” by S R Summers for the blog tour by Authoright. Indigo Lost is available in hardback, paperback and eBook format from Amazon UK

Synopsis:

After the brutal murder of her family, and the uncovering of her mysterious abilities, a young girl escapes and hides in the city of Las Vegas — but who is going to protect her?
Violence has always has always been familiar to seven-year-old Mysty, known for her piercing indigo eyes. Ever since she can remember her father has been an aggressive and brutish man, but then one day things go too far and Mysty witnesses the violent murder of her beloved mother. Taken in by the police for safety and questioning, she realises that she has nobody to turn to and can only rely on herself to survive. So, when she has the chance, she decides to make her escape; the only problem is she’s three floors up and it’s one hell of a drop. But seeing no other option, she takes a leap of faith out of the window and never looks back.
Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, the king of the city, cut-throat mob boss Donny Capello, is contemplating his next takeover when an out-of-control truck nearly crashes into him. Dazed, he notices a skinny young girl with bright blue eyes injured and crouching in a doorway, who he swears somehow saved his life, like a guardian angel. But before he can speak to her she disappears. Determined to find out who the girl is, and why she would trouble herself to save someone as irredeemable as him, Donny Capello will do anything to find her. But she’s not yet ready to reveal herself, and this time there’s no window for her to escape from, and Vegas is Capello’s city, so it’s only a matter of time before he finds her.
In the first book of her epic Infinity Squared series, author S.R. Summers has drawn on her varied life experiences and the challenges she’s personally faced —from work-place bullying to xenophobia— to craft not only a dramatic and, at times uncomfortable, narrative, but also one which provokes questions within the reader about their place in the world. Through the relationships between her central female protagonist, Mysty, and those she encounters, Summers hopes to highlight the importance of personal growth, the internal conflicts an individual experiences when faced with diicult life questions, and the strength and empowerment of reaching out in life and making real connections and friendships rather than the at-a-distance relationships of today’s technology-mad world.
Blending elements of crime, fantasy, romance and coming-of-age with social fiction, Indigo Lost is the perfect next read for those looking for an exciting and thought-provoking new series to get stuck into this spring.

Extract:

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This extract comes from a scene between Donny Capello, mafia boss of Vegas, and our young central female character, a runaway child from a broken home who escaped a brutal end to a tragic domestic abuse case that claimed the lives of her sister, mother and grandmother. This is an important moment when she chooses a new name for herself, as her powerful new friend offers her a chance to get her life back on track. An opportunity she is only partially cognisant of, in her childlike innocence.

He got up and came back with a pad of paper and a pen, and slid it across the table to her right side, knowing she was right-handed, and looked at her. 

Will you write down what you will not tell me?”

Her face paled again and her heart pounded. Why did he have to ruin everything by asking her to do that? She didn’t want to do that. She squeezed her eyes shut. But the urge to wipe her soul clean of the pain, of the hurt and the blood, was growing within her. But why here is this room, with this . . . stranger?

You don’t want to know what I know. I don’t want you to know.” It was a whisper. “Sometimes I wish I was dead too so I wouldn’t be able to remember.” She shook her head. “I can’t write it.”

The man who killed your family, I can make sure he’s never able to come after you.”

Her eyes snapped open, and despite the emotion they were bright and alert now. “He’s in prison. I think he is, anyway.”

Even easier.”

She shook her head. “No. I’m not a killer. Though he deserves to die a million times for what he did.”

You’re sure?”

Yes . . .”

It was a shaky whisper. It was clear the idea was tempting, but agreeing to more death was obviously unthinkable for her. And he didn’t want her to become blood-thirsty, he just wanted her to feel safe.

Will you tell me your name?”

No.”

She picked up the pen and wrote the initials of her mother’s name very faintly, then crossed them out, not wanting to give away any clues.

You can’t go through your whole life being a mystery with no name.”

Absent-mindedly she wrote the word ‘mystery’, doing an impressive slanted ‘M’ and two looping ‘Y’s. She tilted her head and crossed out some of the letters, and then rewrote the word she ended up with. She put the pen down and turned the pad around and pushed it to him.

Then I’ll be a mystery inside a name.”

This was no average kid. He was going to have to get used to that.

Mysty? Two ‘Y’s? Unusual. It suits you. You’re sure?”

She nodded decisively.

Fine. OK, Mysty, now explain to me another mystery: how do you survive those jumps off buildings?”

He crossed his arms and leaned back, looking at her with eyes that told her he wanted an answer and it had better be honest. Squirming a little under the scrutiny, she fiddled with her napkin while she tried to come up with a good enough answer.

About the Author:

  About the author: Living in Leamington Spa, West Midlands, S.R. Summers owns and runs the popular ZouBisou cafe. Previously, she has enjoyed a career working within broadcast media whilst living in Belgium and within the field of e-commerce. She also holds a degree in History from the University of Cambridge. When not managing her cafe, you’ll find her busy writing and working on the final book in her Infinity Squared eight-part series. The first in the series, Indigo Lost by S.R, Summers (published by ShieldCrest Publishing XX April 2018 RRP £20 hardback, £12 paperback and £5.99 e-book) is available to purchase from online retailers, including Amazon, and to order from all good bookstores. For more information you can follow the author @indigolost.

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#BlogTour : Small Change by Keddie Hughes @keddiehughes : @Authoright : #BookReview

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Today I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on “Small Change” by Keddie Hughes as part of the blog tour with Authoright. Small change can be purchase in paperback or eBook format from Amazon UK. My thanks to both the author and Kate Appleton for my copy and also my spot on the tour.

Synopsis:

Murder, marital troubles and the murky world of football corruption collide into one woman’s life in this dramatic new novel, set against political upheaval and Sectarianism in Glasgow in 2011.
Forty-two year old Izzy Campbell wants more to life than husband who is over fond of a drink as well as a fanatical Rangers supporter. For as long as she can remember she’s always put her family’s needs first, but with her son turning eighteen she decides it’s time things change. Izzy signs up to volunteer at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and enrols to study for a part time degree in Social Sciences, where she meets fellow student and SMP candidate, Bridget, who encourages her to start a career for the first time, something her husband Jim does not support. Meanwhile, Jim’s security company is preparing to make a bid for a contract with his beloved Rangers, in spite of the Club’s reportedly murky finances. So when Izzy encounters charismatic journalist, Sean Docherty who reveals to her that he is investigating alleged financial corruption at Rangers, she finds her loyalties torn. However, hoping to protect her husband, and with her interest piqued in more ways than one, she finds herself oering to help Sean with his research unaware of his family connections to the murder of a young Celtic fan. A murder her husband witnessed.

Growing up in Glasgow, in a staunchly Protestant home, with a Rangers fan for a father, Keddie Hughes is no stranger to the blight of Sectarianism which she refers to as ‘Scotland’s secret shame’. However, she’s quick to highlight that her story isn’t only about the problems surrounding football. As a self-proclaimed woman entering the ‘third age’ she wanted to create an authentic and relatable character in the form of Izzy. Through her main protagonist, Keddie acknowledges the struggles that women can often go through —from self-doubt to loneliness and feelings of invisibility— when faced with the prospect of their children growing up and moving away. Combining her own experiences as a psychologist and executive coach, Keddie hopes that her character’s journey will provide inspiration and understanding to others and show them that even small changes can add up to make a big dierence in life.
An engaging and relatable story of one woman’s personal evolution and transformation against a backdrop of social and political upheaval in Glasgow, Small Change by Keddie Hughes is the perfect next read for fans of commercial fiction with an edge.

My Thoughts:

Normally I would start “My Thoughts” with my version of a synopsis, but I think you will agree the one above is very thorough. So I will get straight on with what I thought.

This is an enjoyable and very interesting read. I was a little concerned that having a football theme I might not take to it, I am not really a fan of football , but even though it does feature it is not overly done and so I could really enjoy the story. I got to meet Izzie and was taken on a journey into Glasgow and the life in which Izzie has. It explored the contrast between a comfortable homelife to those with nothing or on the brink of loosing what they had. Izzie works with CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) and meets a wide range of people with a myriad of different problems. Problems are something that Rangers FC are well aware of, and it plays its part in upsetting the world of Izzie and her husband.

The character of Izzie is a really likeable, warm, cosy woman who wants to help others and is also a loyal wife and mum. The story is told from her perspective and I was given a chance to feel like I was getting to know her. Every couple of chapters or so you get a dialogue in script form from her husband Jim and this added an extra sense of what was going on. The plot is how Izzie takes various changes around her and adapts to them. You begin to sense the change in her and its a wonderful journey that I really got caught up in.

The rivalry between football clubs and fans is something I was awware of but I didn’t realise how deep rooted it actually was, so this was a bit of an eye opener for me.

This is a really good story. It is one of those that ambles along at it’s own pace, for me it was the perfect pace. A book that kept my attention and held it throughout, I should mention that I read this in one sitting and finished just after 1am! A wonderful read and one I would definitely recommend.

About the Author:

About the author: Born in Glasgow, Keddie Hughes has worked for over thirty years in executive coaching and leadership development for large multi-national companies. In 2012 she completed the Faber Academy writing course and later enjoyed writing for eighteen months under the mentorship of author Jill Dawson. Today Keddie lives in Buckinghamshire where she dedicates as much time as she can to writing. Her first novel, An Obstinate Vanity was published in 2016 (CreateSpace). Small Change by Keddie Hughes (published by Spiffing Covers ) is available to purchase from online retailers including Amazon and to order from all good bookstores.

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#BlogTour : Her Secret by Kelly Florentia @kellyflorentia @UrbaneBooks #LoveBooksGroupTours #HerSecret #GuestPost #CharacterSpotlight

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I am delighted to be sharing the book love for “Her Secret” by Kelly Florentia with a Guest Post by the author  as part of the blog tour with Urbane Books and Kelly at Love Book Group Tours. Her Secret is a Women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, adult romance, chick-lit and available in paperback and eBook format from Amazon UK

Synopsis:

“A brilliantly-woven tale of love, friendship, heartbreak and hope – I couldn’t put it down.” Jill Finlay Fiction Editor of The Weekly News

“a must-read for anyone who loves intelligent, grown-up romance” – Louise Douglas, bestselling author of The Secrets Between Us

Following the events of No Way Back, Her Secret sees our heroine, Audrey Fox, now married to Daniel. But Daniel’s grown daughter Connie is still causing trouble in paradise and it is not long before Audrey is neck deep in secrets and lies, and once more searching for true love and happiness. Her Secret is the brilliant third novel of up-and-coming chick-lit author Kelly Florentia. Perfect for fans of Fiona Gibson, Marian Keyes, Sheila O’Flanagan and Lisa Jewell it is a wonderful contemporary adult romance.

• The idea behind Her Secret, the sequel to the bestselling No Way Back, is to highlight a positive, independent woman’s lifestyle choice, showcasing that single women in their 40s and 50s are eligible, sexy, and fun – connects directly to large ‘chick-lit’ readership • ‘A truly-talented storyteller who had me hooked from the very first page. – Jill Finlay, Weekly News

Guest Post:

Her Secret by Kelly Florentia : Character Spotlight

Who is your protagonist?

Audrey Fox

The inspiration for your protagonist

Someone recently asked me why I chose such an old-fashioned name for my central character, but when I explained that I named her after Audrey Hepburn I got the thumbs up – everyone loves Audrey Hepburn, right? Before building a character profile, I usually get an image of my protagonist in my head and then give her a name. For me, the name is important and it has to fit. Perhaps the name Audrey is unfashionable but it’s also a classic name, so I hope it’ll be quite memorable.

The creation of your protagonist

Audrey’s character is based on 40-something women who aren’t wives or mothers. Although Audrey is married in Her Secret, she begins her journey as a single woman in the first book in the series, No Way Back. We all have different needs, roles, and aspirations in life. What is right for one person may not be right for another. I wanted to showcase the 40-something woman in a modern light, in a 40 is the new 30 kind of way, in a nonconformist way, and I hope I’ve achieved this in creating Audrey Fox.

 About your protagonist’s character

I wanted my heroine to be relatable and ordinary. Audrey is a 42-year-old woman; she makes mistakes, puts on weight easily, says the wrong thing frequently, and puts her foot in it often. Audrey is loveable and witty, caring and loyal, but she isn’t a pushover. She’s very understanding and generous as a rule, but can be a bit feisty at times. She has a passion for designer shoes and is a bit of a tidy-freak – can’t stand seeing things out of place, and has a bit of a thing for germs, too!

 Do they have any similarities to someone ‘real’? If so, tell us more!

Sadly, no. Audrey Fox is a figment of my imagination. However, she does have some of the characteristics and attributes of some of my friends. She’s the kind of person I think most people would like to have as a best friend – loyal, funny, smart, caring and fun.

 What do you like most of your protagonist?

Her sense of humour and her loyalty. There’s never a dull moment when Audrey Fox is around.

 What do you dislike about your protagonist?

Audrey does have a tendency to put her foot in it – she’s a bit impulsive and ends up in awkward situations and then, sadly, has to suffer the consequences.

 Would you and your protagonist be friends in ‘real’ life?

Absolutely. We would be the best of friends.  In fact, when I typed The End I was heartbroken because I knew that I’d miss her.

 What’s next?

I’m in the early stages of book 4 – so watch this space!

About the Author:

  Kelly Florentia was born and bred in north London, where she continues to live with her husband Joe. Her debut novel THE MAGIC TOUCH was published in March 2016. TO TELL A TALE OR TWO… is a collection of her short tales. Kelly has a keen interest in health and fitness and has written many articles on the subject. SMOOTH OPERATOR (published in January 2017) is a collection of twenty of her favourite smoothie recipes. No Way Back was published by Urbane in Sept 2017.

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#BlogTour : The Forever Night Stand by Bena Roberts @benaroberts : @rararesources : #Spotlight

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Today I am shining a spotlight on “The Forever Night Stand” by Bena Roberts for the Blog Tour organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. This is yet another book I would love to have the time in my schedule to read.

Synopsis:

A two hour romance which starts with drama and mayhem!

Sara has her back up against the wall. She is recovering from the side effects of chemotherapy and at her own “cancer free” party, she makes a decision that will change her life forever.

The adventure begins when she leaves her posh lifestyle in Scotland and moves in with her Bollywood loving parents, in West London. Her parents are tragically ashamed of Sara’s actions and her electronic monitor. She decides to make them happy again and considers re-marrying. 

Enter Raj, a possible hero who comes with the promise of a huge Indian wedding in Goa!

George, the childhood love of her life who seems to be hanging around every corner. Or should she just go back to her husband? Sara faces the biggest dilemma of her life, after making the colossal mistake of her life. What will she do and whom will she choose?

Purchase From –  Amazon –  Smashwords – Kobo – Nook

About the Author:

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Bena Roberts was a journalist and analyst. Now she prefers the title novelist and romance adventurist. She graduated in England 1994 and then with a Masters in 1997.

Born in 1973, Bena lived in West London until she was 24. Then she lived and worked in Budapest, Bruges, Prague, Amsterdam, Vienna, Hamburg and Munich. She currently resides in Germany, between Heidelberg and Frankfurt. Although she still refers to London as ‘home.’

Bena successfully created a technology blog which gained funding, had lunch with Steve Ballmer and was ‘top 50 most influential woman in mobile.’ Her blog also won several awards including Metro Best Blog.

Bena has two children, loves small dogs and always writes books with a cup of Earl Grey.

Bena’s favorite literary style is black humor, and she hopes to offer a unique voice in this area. Her books aim to confront the darkest of life experiences, with levity. Most of her writing is heavy hitting yet also entertaining.

Also –  Available My Cake! A short story

Pre-Order Tammy&Lisa – How far would you go to protect your teenage son ?

Follow Bena on –  Twitter –  Amazon Author Page – Goodreads Author Page

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#BlogTour : Judge Walden: Back in Session by Peter Murphy @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours @NoExitPress #JudgeWalden #BookReview

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I am delighted to be part of the blog tour for “Judge Walden: Back In session” by Peter Murphy and today I am sharing my thoughts. Thank you to Anne Cater at #RandomThingsTours and No Exit Press for a spot on the tour and also a copy of the book that is due to be published on 24th May.

Synopsis:

If you like Rumpole of the Bailey, you’ll love Walden of Bermondsey

Judge Walden is back, to preside over five new cases at Bermondsey Crown Court.
Retired resident judge Peter Murphy takes us back to the world of criminal trials in South London for another session with Charlie Walden keeping the peace between his fellow judges – Marjorie, ‘Legless’ and Hubert – while fighting off the attacks of the Grey Smoothies, the civil servants who seem intent on reducing the court’s dwindling resources to vanishing point in the name of ‘business cases’ and ‘value for money’.
Meet the rum and memorable characters who pop into Charlie’s domain, including Lester Fogle from one of London’s Disorganised Crime Families, Arthur Swivell the one-time Bermondsey singing legend and the very unbardlike Elias Shakespeare. And you will never feel the same about ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ or the Entente Cordiale again.
Fortunately, Charlie has Elsie and Jeanie’s lattes and ham and cheese baps, and newspaper vendor George’s witty banter, to sustain him in the mornings; and in the evenings, the Delights of the Raj, or La Bella Napoli, to enjoy with the Reverend Mrs Walden.

My Thoughts:

This is a book that contains 5 Stories about the Bermondsey Resident Judge, Charles Walden. They are a mix of cases that are brought before the Judge and his jury as well as behind the scenes of the court and the canteen with its dubious meal of the day! The synopsis for this book is great and definitely caught my eye when I had an invite to be part of the tour.

I really enjoyed reading Walden of Bermondsey: Where There’s Smoke and it did set the scene and expectations for “”Back In Session”. It takes in the various things of Walden’s daily life, his interactions with members of the public, the jury, other colleagues and the “Grey Smoothies” or civil servants as we know them!

The cases are brought before him and I enjoyed the way they were laid out, they are not full of legal jargon and so makes it easy to follow each case. It is not all about the cases though, there are things that occur behind the scenes that give great insight into how things work and also the politics that happen. Pandering to the civil servants demands and being a little sneaky is part of the course.

Walden is a principled and somewhat old-fashioned character who likes things done right, but also in an ethical and fair way. His wife is Reverend Mrs Walden, she is the priest in charge at Parish of St Aethelburgh and All Angels in Southwark. Together they make quite a formidable couple and their lives outside court does change for one of the stories.

The cases themselves cover a mix of topics as do the behind the scenes stories. These are great for quick reads, but once you get started you will want read one after the other as they flow brilliantly into each other, and helps to build up the characters and what makes them tick. The characters are a real mixed bunch that show many various traits you find in people, some you will agree with and some will make you hmmmm over.

These are great stories that show the highs and lows of the legal system with humorous undertones and stories to capture the imagination. It is entertaining reading and one I would definitely recommend to readers who would prefer a more lighthearted read, though there are serious stories included.

You can get a copy of this book in either paperback or e-book format from Amazon UK from 24th May 2018.

About the Author:

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Peter Murphy was born in 1946. After graduating from Cambridge University he spent a career in the law, as an advocate and teacher, both in England and the United States. His legal work included a number of years in The Hague as defence counsel at the Yugoslavian War Crimes Tribunal. He returned to England in 2007 on his appointment as a judge of the Crown Court. He lives with his wife, Chris, in Cambridgeshire.

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#BookReview : Sweet Home Summer by @MichelleVernal @HarperImpulse #NetGalley

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Today I have “Sweet Home Summer” by Michelle Vernal. Published by Harper Collins and available in e-book format from Amazon UK. I would like to take the time to thank Harper Collins for accepting my request to read this eARC on NetGalley

Synopsis:

Sometimes, home really is where the heart is…

Leaving behind her hi-flying career in London, Isla Brookes has had enough. Burnt out and tired of an unfulfilling profession and lousy boyfriends, it’s time for her to go home.

Arriving back in cosy Bibury to stay with her grandmother, Bridget, everything is charmingly familiar. Even her childhood sweetheart, Ben, is as handsome as she remembered…

And when she discovers a stack of long-forgotten Valentine’s Day cards, Isla, with the help of Ben, begins to realise exactly what is most important in life.

My Thoughts:

This story did take me a while to get into, I got confused over where the character was as she seemed to flit all over the world as the locations changed leaving it feeling a little disjointed, but then it settled just as Isla did and I started to get a feel of what the book was about and where it was heading.

There are a few characters in this book and I loved Bridget and she is such a wonderful sounding woman who made me chuckle on so many occasions. There is a time-slip element to this story as Bridget tells Isla of her life and some of the memories of the 1950’s. You really get a good story from Bridget’s perspective about the time, history of the town and life.

Once the plot started to make itself known you begin to get an idea of what it is all about. The community makes itself known in various ways as new plans and the way in which it rallies comes into play. I did kind of know where the story was going before I got there but sometimes it’s about the journey and I was taken through some really heartwarming moments as family truths and secrets were revealed. Sometimes the past is best left there, other times it really does need to be confronted and accepted.

This is a heartwarming and enjoyable read that takes you through the lives of two women and is a story I would recommend.

About the Author:

Michelle Vernal loves a happy ending. She lives with her husband and their two boys in Christchurch, New Zealand. It’s a city that is slowing rebuilding its happy ending. She’s partial to a glass of wine, loves a cheese scone and has recently taken up yoga―a sight to behold indeed. Her books are written with humour and warmth and she hopes you enjoy reading them.

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#BlogTour : Production Values by Liv Bartlet @LivBartlet : @rararesources : #Extract : #Giveaway (Open Int’lly)

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With all the best will in the world I know I cannot read all the books that come into my email box. “Production Values” by Liv Bartlet is a book I am sharing an extract for as part of the blog tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources.

Synopsis:

“Mornings like this I can understand the appeal of killer high heels. How they click with command down the sidewalk: Get out of my way, I’m in charge and I’ve got the footwear to prove it.”

At the age of 28, Kat Porter has become the it-girl of British TV Production. Gut, gumption, and artistry have carried her through a dozen impossible scenarios to arrive at her first run as Executive Producer, and now all three muses point to Ian Graham’s star power as the key to Los Angeles and golden statues.

But disaster looms as Ian twists Kat into a chameleon fit for success. Ian’s young daughter is thrown into the spotlight and Kat must face the consequences of her neverending quest for acclaim.

Production Values takes a biting but fun look at Hollywood—from the way we interpret female ambition to the influence of the paparazzi on how TV shows and stars fail or succeed. 

Purchase Links:   – Amazon US –  Amazon UK

Extract of Production Values: 

Intro:  After Kat and Bea fought about a tattoo-revealing stunt in a script read-through, Kat took off for Germany. Now she’s returned to London, ready to apologize and armed with an idea for a new TV show.

Excerpt

I knock on Bea’s open office door and close it behind me before she can look up from her computer. “So, who wants to be friends again?”

It’s been too many days with the combatants retreated to their respective corners. I’ve knocked on Bea’s apartment every night since I returned from Germany, but she’s not there—she’s been at the refugee clinic, where she goes when life turns bad. When I’m not writing like a dervish, I’m full of abject misery.

Which is why I’ve practiced an apology that I hope will tumble the wall between us. “The tattoo thing was stupid. No matter how it started, I know it looked terrible. I did everything you said. I spent money on a guest star to chase success in all the wrong ways. If we can’t make it on our merits, it’s not worth it. You were right.”

Bea blinks at me, the only crack in her neutral nonconfrontational face. Then she melts. She won’t make this hard. She never does.

“We’ve worked so hard, Kat. If the rumor reaches the board, they’ll shut us down. We can’t be that show.” Bea sighs—deep, from her soul. “But I’m sorry, too. I overreacted.”

I hug her without warning. I want it all the way over. Bea’s not a hugger, not unless she’s applying comfort like medicine, but she takes none herself, so this kind of mutual affection feels like cuddling a street cat.

Bea pushes back and holds my shoulders. She looks at me, reading me, her head tilted to the side. “And how was Germany?”

“It was fine, I’m fine. Still on the rails, I promise.” I cough to cover up the threat of tears.

Bea talks to her mom every day, and the whole family pops in for a video chat at least once a week. My lack of family has always struck her as a great sadness, a heartbreak I know she carries for me all the time.

“Anyway, I think I’m giving up on men for a while,” I lie. I’ll never give up on love, it’s the only thing that thrills me as much as my art.

“Sure you are,” Bea laughs, but lets me have my game.

“And in my spinster state, I’ve decided you need a date. My gift to you. Want me to set you up with Wayne? He still captures more accidental footage of you than anyone else.”

Bea shudders and crosses her arms in front of herself. She never dates, never. “Will I get to go back to giving up on romance in twenty-four hours when you forget your vow of celibacy?”

I snort with laughter.

Bea puts her arm around me and I lean onto her shorter shoulder. “We okay again? I miss being okay. Feels like it’s been a long time.”

“Yeah, we’re good. Better than. We’ve got each other and we’ve got 21 Things. And something new, actually.” I bring up the paper-clipped stack of papers from my side. “I know every idea for post–21 Things has been rejected thus far, but I think this is the one.”

“Ideas are good,” Bea prevaricates and reads the title page. “What’s K-Town?”

“It’s what all the military people there call Kaiserslautern and the surrounding posts and bases.”

“So, military . . . drama? Judging by the number of pages? In Europe?”

“Full-hour comedy with a dash of drama. Dramedy, though I will deny ever saying that word. Edgy. Real people, real lives.”

“This sounds like an excuse for you to watch hot men in uniform. Can I nix any actors you’ve fangirled? Maybe I should do casting.”

“Stop. Ian was good for the show. But, yes, you can have casting privileges if you like the pilot script.”

Bea chews that spot on her lip, the one that bleeds sometimes. “Kat, I don’t have the talent for anything beyond 21 Things. This was magic.”

“Of course you have the talent! What are you talking about? You make money drip out of advertiser pockets!”

“I’ll do what I can. You create. Tell me where you want it. If Anna wins—”

“LA. An American network. It’s going to be possible. Because we are going to get nominated and we’re going to awards shows and we’re going to have it-quality buzz. And then—National Network. National is where this show belongs.”

Bea nods and bites her lip hard. I’m not surprised to see a slight red stain on her teeth. “Let’s think on it. We might have something else. Something I’ve been too in denial to even touch.”

About the Authors:

Liv Bartlet is the pseudonym for writing partners Becca McCulloch and Sarah McKnight, who have been building worlds and telling stories together for more than a decade. They’ve logged hours of behind-the-scenes movie and TV footage and challenged each other in a friendly Oscar guessing game every year this millennium. Lifelong Anglophiles, their Monkey & Me world sprang to vivid life on a trip to London that included divine pastries, sublime art, and a spectacular pratfall in the British Museum.

Becca is a professor, a scientist, and a secret romantic who insisted their first order of business in London was a meandering five-mile walk to see Big Ben. She lives with her husband, children, and an ever-expanding roster of pets in Logan, Utah.

Sarah is an Army brat, an Excel geek, and has a lot of opinions on the differences between science fiction and fantasy. She lives with her cat, Sir Jack—who is featured prominently on Liv’s Instagram —just outside Salt Lake City.

Social Media Links – Website – Twitter – Facebook – Instagram

∗∗∗ GIVEAWAY ∗∗∗

Production Values - Giveaway - Off-ScriptFINAL.jpg Giveaway – Win  Production Values & Off Script e-books & $25 or equivalent Amazon Gift Card (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  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.

∗∗∗∗ TO ENTER CLICK HERE ∗∗∗∗

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