The Lost Letters Of William Woolfe by Helen Cullen @wordsofhelen @MichaelJBooks #NetGalley #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Lost Letters Of William Woolfe by Helen Cullen with you today. This book came on holiday with me and joined me sat beside the River Teign in Devon. My thanks to Michael Joseph Publishing for my copy of the book. If you would like to buy a copy it comes in various formats and can be found on AMAZON

Synopsis:

Inside the Dead Letters Depot in East London, William Woolf is one of thirty letter detectives who spend their days solving mysteries: Missing postcodes, illegible handwriting, rain-smudged ink, lost address labels, torn packages, forgotten street names – they are all the culprits of missed birthdays, broken hearts, unheard confessions, pointless accusations, unpaid bills and unanswered prayers.

When William discovers letters addressed simply to ‘My Great Love’ his work takes on new meaning. Written by a woman to a soulmate she hasn’t met yet, the missives stir William in ways he didn’t know were possible. Soon he begins to wonder: Could William be her great love?

William must follow the clues in Winter’s letters to solve his most important mystery yet: the human heart.

My Thoughts:

William and Clare Woolfe met at university and got married. They settle into marriage and also working life and over time the dreams they had at university gradually diminish. Life and work becomes a routine.

This story is told from the perspective of both Clare and William and I got to learn more about them as individuals as well as a couple. Clare has a successful career in law, though her original love is of art. William works in the Lost Letters Dept of the Post Office, just a temporary job until he became an author, this job now seems rather permanent.

William’s job entails him finding the recipients of those letters that have been wrongly addressed, address is missing or damaged. One day he finds a distinctive envelope and letter and is very taken with it, wanting to more about it and its author.

As his investigations with the letter progress I found another story, that of William and Clare. They are caught in that rut of routine in their marriage. They are a normal couple living normal lives but that have just lost that bit of sparkle.

So essentially you are given two stories, that of the letter and that of the marriage. This is where I may be right off the mark but, I think it’s like a comparison of what the perfect relationship in a letter is against actual relationships. The letter, or I should say letters as there are several, are beautiful in their sentiments and wording. They talk of dreams and plans for the future and for happiness and love. William and Clare have lost their youthful and exciting dreams, and though they still love each other they are frayed and fraught.

Life and the way you see it can sometimes narrow into a tunnel, it doesn’t allow you to see the bigger picture. At times we need to step out of our comfort zone of routine, rotas and timetables and experience new things, visit new places and above all dream. The letters allow William to do that.

So this is a book that is almost an enigma from the synopsis. I thought I would be reading about the letters that had gone astray, and while they do play a part in the story it is not all the story is. Once I realised what was happening I was able to enjoy the story of William and Clare and their lives as individuals and as a couple.

It is a gentle paced story that is quiet and thoughtful, not quite what I expected given the synopsis but non the less I thoroughly enjoyed. A book that I would recommend to readers of contemporary and literary fiction and is a beautiful story that I would definitely recommend.

About he Author:

A1Nruu1t2qL._SY200_.jpg Helen Cullen is an Irish writer living in London. She worked at RTE (Ireland’s national broadcaster) for seven years before moving to London in 2010. In the UK, Helen established a career as an events and engagement specialist before joining the Google UK marketing team in 2015.

The first draft of her debut novel THE LOST LETTERS OF WILLIAM WOOLF was written while completing the Guardian/UEA novel writing programme under the mentorship of Michèle Roberts. Helen holds an M.A. Theatre Studies from UCD and is currently completing an M.A. English Literature at Brunel University.

‘The Lost Letters of William Woolf’ will be published this year, 2018 in UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Italy and Israel.

Helen is now writing full-time and working on her second novel.

Follow Helen on her – Website – Twitter

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

 

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183 Times A Year by Eva Jordan @EvaJordanWriter #BookReview

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I am so delighted to be sharing my thoughts on 183 Times A Year by Eva Jordan I have had this book on my TBR for quite a while now (shame on me) and I am delighted to have finally read this fabulous book. You can purchase a copy in either e-book or paperback from AMAZON UK. My huge thanks to Eva for my e-copy of the book that agreed to read for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Mothers and daughters alike will never look at each other in quite the same way after reading this book—a brilliantly funny observation of contemporary family life. 

Lizzie—exasperated Mother of Cassie, Connor and Stepdaughter Maisy—is the frustrated voice of reason to her daughters’ teenage angst. She gets by with good friends, cheap wine and talking to herself—out loud. 

16-year-old Cassie—the Facebook-Tweeting, Selfie-Taking, Music and Mobile Phone obsessed teen—hates everything about her life. She longs for the perfect world of Chelsea Divine and her ‘undivorced’ parents—and Joe, of course. 

However, the discovery of a terrible betrayal and a brutal attack throws the whole household into disarray. Lizzie and Cassie are forced to reassess the important things in life as they embark upon separate journeys of self-discovery—accepting some less than flattering home truths along the way. 

Although tragic at times this is a delightfully funny exploration of domestic love, hate, strength and ultimately friendship. A poignant, heartfelt look at that complex and diverse relationship between a Mother and daughter set amongst the thorny realities of today’s divided and extended families.

My Thoughts:

There are times when I agree to a book and it just sits on my TBR shelf on my kindle, then when I do eventually get around to reading it I could kick myself for not getting to it sooner 183 Times A Year is such a book.

This is a story of a family, well two families actually that through circumstances come together to live as one, they are step families. Teenage daughters, a younger son and two parents trying to support each other in this family unit, oh and grand parents. Drama and hysterics from the teenage girls, drama from friends and lack of drama from an absent father add an interesting cocktail of emotions into this story.

As I have already mentioned, I could so kick myself for not reading this sooner, the only time I stopped reading this book was to make another cup of coffee, only to let it go cold again…. It is a beautiful, heartbreaking, emotional, realistic and wonderfully written story of Lizzie and her family, Lizzie is the mum by the way.

The author has broken the story down into chapters with sub chapters and tells the story from the perspectives of mainly Lizzie and her daughter Cassie, though other family member do have the odd spotlight moment, each of these sub chapters had their own title of the character who was telling the story, but to be honest I soon got to know the characters so didn’t actually look at these headings. This for me was the moment I realised how well the author had allowed me to get to know the characters, she had given each one their own individuality, style and their own voice.

The story itself is about angst, rebellion, pushing the boundaries and the teenage world of “my life is so unfair”. But it is also about a mum working, running a home and the children to various events as well as keeping home. It portrays life for many families who have to juggle many balls, with a dad who is caught up in the middle of trying to keep the peace and support everyone.

What made this story so special for me was how the author had created an addictive read from what is essentially an everyday life for many families. She has accurately captured the emotions and struggles and managed to blend in a certain amount of humour.

There are elements from three generations that work so well, they have been balanced to create a realistic and very believable story that had me knowingly nodding my head at some of the scenarios, grinning and smirking at others as life, school, work and boyfriends are explored.

I absolutely loved this book from the very start to the last pages, I didn’t want to leave and was gutted when I finished the book. It had me grinning one moment, frowning the next and at one point absolutely crying ugly. This is a story that I would absolutely highly recommend to readers of women’s fiction, contemporary and literary fiction with a focus on family life.

A beautiful story and to quote Grandad, from the book , “it’s not life, it’s an adventure” sums it up xx

 

About the Author:

B1YE2zI6lhS._SY200_Eva Jordan, born in Kent but living most of her life in a small Cambridgeshire town, describes herself as a lover of words, books, travel and chocolate. She is also partial to the odd glass or two of wine. Providing her with some of the inspiration for her novel, Eva is both a mum and step mum to four children. Her career has been varied including working within the library service and at a women’s refuge. She writes a monthly column for a local magazine and currently works as a volunteer for a charity based organisation that teaches adults to read. However, storytelling through the art of writing is her passion. 183 Times A Year is Eva’s debut novel.

You can find Eva on Twitter Instagram Website – or join her each morning on Facebook for a cup of coffee or later in the day for a glass of wine xx

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or a share would be amazing 🙂 xx

#BookReview of Proof Positive by Lucy V Hay @LucyVHayAuthor @rararesources

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on “Proof Positive” by Lucy V Hay as part of the blog tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. This book was originally released as “Lizzie’s Story” you can get a copy HERE My thanks to Rachel and Lucy for my spot on the tour and my e-copy of the book.

Synopsis:

(Intersection Series Book 1)

On the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Lizzie finds herself pregnant: she’s literally days away from her exam results and university beckons around the corner. The bright Lizzie has big plans, but can she have the life she wanted, with a baby in tow? What will her family and friends say? And what will the baby’s father choose to do: stay out of it, or stand by her?

An exciting “What if…” journey in the style of “Run Lola Run” and “Sliding Doors”.

My Thoughts:

Lizzie finds she is pregnant just as she is due to turn 18 and go off to University, her future hangs in the balance as she has a decision to make. It is a decision that could change her life and plans, what will she decide?

This is a really interesting read and not quite what I was expecting. Told from from Lizzie’s perspective I was taken through various scenarios from when she learns the test is positive. It is almost like reading a series of short stories all with the same starting point. She is pregnant what are her options? Well there are various options that spring to mind and the author goes through each one and how it affects Lucy and her future. Some of the scenarios are straight forward and some caught me unawares with their outcomes.

During these scenarios you get to learn about Lucy, her family and her friends and also their actions or I should say reactions to Lizzie’s news. These scenarios are quite addictive and the author has provided quite a few interesting and thought-provoking scenes. The decisions that are put forward in this story are not about what is right or wrong, the decision to be made is for Lizzie and what is right for her.

This is a relatively quick read at only 200 Kindle pages and I found that I moved through this quite quickly. There are various aspects I liked about this story and at times I found it to be enjoyable and also emotional and the odd moment that really pulled on the heartstrings. It is a book that looks at teen pregnancy and the dilemma that accompany decision and its effects on all involved. It is a book I would recommend to other readers.

About the Author:

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Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. Lucy is the producer of two Brit Thrillers, DEVIATION (2012) and ASSASSIN (2015), as well as the script editor and advisor on numerous other features and shorts.  Lucy’s also the author of WRITING AND SELLING THRILLER SCREENPLAYS for Kamera Books’ “Creative Essentials” range, as well as its follow ups on DRAMA SCREENPLAYS and DIVERSE CHARACTERS. Her debut crime novel, THE OTHER TWIN, is now out with Orenda Books and has been featured in The Sun and Sunday Express Newspapers, plus Heatworld and Closer Magazine. Check out all her books, HERE.

Social Media Links –

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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 : a spoke in the wheel by Kathleen Jowitt @KathleenJowitt : #BookReview

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I am delighted to be on the blog tour for “a spoke in the wheel” by Kathleen Jowitt. My thanks to Kathleen for my copy and also for my spot on the tour. You can buy a copy at Amazon UK and is available in paperback or eBook format.

Synopsis:

The first thing I saw was the wheelchair.

The first thing she saw was the doper.

Ben Goddard is an embarrassment – as a cyclist, as an athlete, as a human being. And he knows it.

Now that he’s been exposed by a positive drugs test, his race wins and his work with disabled children mean nothing. He quits professional cycling in a hurry, sticks a pin in a map, and sets out to build a new life in a town where nobody knows who he is or what he’s done.

But when the first person he meets turns out to be a cycling fan, he finds out that it’s not going to be quite as easy as that.

Besides, Polly’s not just a cycling fan, she’s a former medical student with a chronic illness and strong opinions. Particularly when it comes to Ben Goddard…

My Thoughts:

Ben Hubbard is a disgraced drug taking cyclist. He wants to become anonymous as he walks away from his career, instead of trying to make excuses or trying to justify his actions. He leaves his family and his lifestyle and wants to start afresh. A chance encounter with flatmates Vicki and Polly gives him the chance to a take the first steps.

This is a book I wasn’t sure what to make of from the synopsis especially as I am not really a road cycling fan. Little things caught my eye and I am so glad they did because I started the book and devoured it in one sitting. I love books that surprise me and this is one that did that.

Three characters Ben, Vicki and Polly are very different in their personalities and come across as quite a rag-tag bunch. With various aspects of their lives that make them stand out you get to learn about Ben and his past and the way he is starting from scratch. Polly is a brilliantly blunt, no-nonsense person whose chronic illness means she is reliant on a wheelchair. Finally Vicki a workaholic who likes to give people a chance and I think is something like the glue to the group.

So this is not just about cycling though it does play a role and has mentions throughout. What it is however is a story about three people and how they deal with life from three very different perspectives. Cycling is the unifying point of this group for various reasons and the author has found a wonderful balance and not allowed it to be the most important factor of the book. Kathleen allows each characters story to unfold and make themselves heard.

If you want a wonderfully addictive and absorbing character driven story then this is one I would highly recommend. It is not a depressing book by a long shot, and it is written in an honest and at times humorous way. The author has brought life to the characters on the pages as you experience the ups and downs of their lives in this realistic portrayal of three people.

My huge thanks to the author for bringing this book to my attention and for my honest thoughts on it and for my spot o the Blog Tour xx

About the Author:

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Kathleen Jowitt was born in Winchester, UK, and grew up deep in the Welsh Marches and, subsequently, on the Isle of Wight. After completing her undergraduate degree in English Literature at the University of Exeter she moved to Guildford and found herself working for a major trade union. She now lives in Cambridge, works in London, and writes on the train.

Her first novel, Speak Its Name, was the first self-published book ever to be shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize.

Follow Kathleen on –  Website – Twitter – Facebook – Instagram – Amazon Author Page

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#BookBlitz | Manipulated Lives by H.A.Leuschel | #Giveaway (open Int’lly) @HALeuschel @rararesources | #Bookreview

Manipulated lives“Manipulated Lives” by H.A.Leuschel.  A series of five stories that have a psychological aspect to them.  I am delighted to be on the blog tour for this wonderful book.  My thanks to Helene for my ecopy and also to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the tour. You can get a copy of this book via  Books 2 Read.

Synopsis:

Five stories – Five Lives

Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?

Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim. 

In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.

My Thoughts:

Manipulated Lives is a collection of five stories.  Tess and Tattoos. The Spell. Runaway Girl. The Narcissist. My Perfect Child. Each story takes a look at the different ways people can manipulate and be manipulated.

The stories read individually like a collection of novellas.  Each one is unique, but at their core is the psychological impact that makes its presence felt.  Each story drew me in quickly and held my attention.  I soon saw a pattern emerging with each one, what I thought was happening and what actually happened were two different things.  Helene has managed to create subtle twists, this leads the reader to challenge their initial thoughts.  They contain strong characters, often I didn’t see the strength until I was further into the story.  There are many characters and some have very unique traits that will leave you with a range of emotions, love, like or despise them.

This isn’t an action packed, race through the story book.  It is more subtle than that and I was led gently into each story and then was able to watch them unfold.  First perceptions are not always the true indication of someones life.  At times it felt like the author was manipulating me  as I read, leading me to one thought then showing me I was wrong.

This is a captivating read, very cleverly crafted and made me think.  I like stories like this and I think it will appeal to many readers, I Highly Recommend Manipulated Lives for those who are looking for a quiet and more subtle psychological look at how people lives can be affected.

About the Author:

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Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.

Social Media Links – Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ Website

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#BookReview | Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce @ajpearcewrites| @panmacmillan #NetGalley

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I have the delightfully spiffing “Dear Mrs Bird” by AJ Pearce to share with you today.  Published by Pan Macmillan and available in various formats from 5th April 2018 you can purchase a copy from Amazon UK.

Synopsis:

London, 1941. Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance – but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman’s Friend magazine. Mrs Bird is very clear: letters containing any form of Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. But as Emmy reads the desperate pleas from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong man, or can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back . . . Irresistibly funny and enormously moving, Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce is a love letter to the enduring power of friendship, the kindness of strangers and the courage of ordinary people in extraordinary times.

My Thoughts:

Emmy soon realises that the job she has just accepted is not quite what she thought it would be.  Rather than becoming part of a journalistic team investigating and helping reporters, she is a junior for a problem page at Woman’s Friend magazine.  She is responsible for sifting through the letters looking for help and advice, sounds great but in actual fact there are certain things that Mrs Henrietta Bird will not have on her column. I say certain things but it turns out that most things will not appear in her column.

This is such a great read, set in London during the blitz.  It has all the elements you would expect rationing, shortages of everyday items, sadness of loved ones away from home, despair when they do not return. The letters that are written to the magazine give a more personal feel to those women who are left at home possibly for the first time.  This is a great way of giving a sense of time and place, it has a real feel of the time with references to clothing, films, music and obviously the war.

A lighter side is added to this with the antics of Emmy and how she decides to take things into her own hands. It has an almost chick lit feel to it and I thought it balanced the harrowing experiences people experienced as the war raged around them. It does have a great deal of emotion in it as you read the letters that have been sent in and also as you follow the characters through the story.

This is a great read that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Once I started it I could not put it down.  This is a book that I think would appeal to readers of lighter historical WWII fiction and definitely from a female perspective and thought it was a well-balanced book.  This is a book that I would highly recommend. I also think this would be a great Book Club read, there are many things that would make some great discussion points.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or a share would be wonderful 🙂 xx

#GuestPost : The Invisible Hand by James Hartley @jameshartleybks @rararesources #TheInvisibleHand #Giveaway

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Today I have a wonderful Guest Post by James Hartley, author of The Invisible Hand : Shakespeare’s Moon – Act One.  James explains how books, especially those by Paul Theroux helped him.  Purchase from – Amazon UK ~ Amazon.com

Synopsis:

The Invisible Hand is about a boy, Sam, who has just started life at a boarding school and finds himself able to travel back in time to medieval Scotland. There he meets a girl, Leana, who can travel to the future, and the two of them become wrapped up in events in Macbeth, the Shakespeare play, and in the daily life of the school. The book is the first part of a series called Shakespeare´s Moon. Each book is set in the same boarding school but focuses on a different Shakespeare play.

Guest Post by James Hartley:

When books are your best friends

I was ill recently. Not anything life-threatening, but enough to put me down and keep me there, to change my world and leave me out of everyone else’s.

Stuck in the house, alone, immobile, I felt as though I were living a parallel existence to my neighbours and the rest of the world. My usual routine made no sense and was largely impossible. I wondered how everyone else could carry on, laughing and running about, when I was aching and felt so useless. As usual when I became ill, I could’t believe how much I´d taken my good health for granted and vowed to do a million things when I got better and never be lazy again.

Unable to sleep or concentrate on films or television, I reached for the books I´d been reading up to then and rejected them: no, they were for when I was well. Some other person had been reading those books, not me. Now I needed something different. Some comfort reading, perhaps, but not necessarily an easy read. Just a dependable one. An old friend.

Looking about the house, I spied Paul Theroux´s book about travelling the coast of the Mediterranean, The Pillars of Hercules, up on a top shelf in the living room, and thought: Yes, that´s what I want. What I need. I have all of Theroux´s travel books huddled together at home, close at hand; battered old copies which have criss-crossed the world and relationships with me.

I don´t know what it is about these books, why they comfort me in dark times, but I think it has something to do with the time I suffered a shocking bereavement, over ten years ago now. Someone very close to me had left the house in the morning and had never come home. It was an accident, they said, but that´s no comfort. There are no answers in accidents, only chaos and misery.

Nobody could console me then, no words or drink or actions, and I really don´t know how I even managed to start reading. Perhaps it was an escape from the tears and reality. Back then it was The Happy Isles of Oceana, by Theroux, and I still have the copy I dived into all those years back. That book got me through a vile time. It somehow managed that odd trick books have, like sleep, shock or love, of playing with time, of taking me out of myself, away from my real life, to bathe in a kind of collective sea of imagination which replenished me and gave me a breather and made me come back stronger.

I always feel the need to keep these books close to me after periods in my life like this. They are like mementos, gateways to times past, reminding me of where I’ve been, where I come from. They are good, old friends, always the same and always different each time we meet.

Now, getting better, I salute those old friends, gathering dust, looking down upon me from that top shelf, and I remember why they are they´re there. They´re there because, like me, they have survived and come through.

The trick is to never take them, your health or your life for granted.

I hope you are now on the road to recovery James.  Personally I find books to be a great friend when not feeling well, they can help lift your spirits and have no expectations.  Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts today, and I wish you all the very best.  Yvonne xx

About the Author:

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James was born on the Wirral, England, in 1973 on a rainy Thursday. He shares his birthday with Bono, Sid Vicious and two even nastier pieces of work, John Wilkes Booth and Mark David Chapman.

His mother was a hairdresser with her own business and his father worked in a local refinery which pours filth into the sky over the Mersey to this day. They married young and James was their first child. He has two younger brothers and a still-expanding family in the area. As an Everton fan he suffered years of Liverpool success throughout the seventies and was thrilled when his father took a job in Singapore and the family moved lock, stock and two smoking barrels to Asia.

He spent five fine years growing up in the city state before returning to the rain, storms, comprehensive schools and desolate beauty of the Scottish east coast. Later years took he and his family to baking hot Muscat, in Oman, and a Syria that has since been bombed off the surface of the planet.

James studied journalism in London and later travelled through Ireland, France, Germany and India generally having a good time, before finally settling in Madrid, Spain, where he now lives with his wife and two children.

Social Media Links – ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ Website

Giveaway *Win 5 x Signed copies of The Invisible Hand with special Invisible Hand tactile pens (Open Internationally)

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*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.

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#BookReview : The Fear by C.L. Taylor @callytaylor @AvonBooksUK #NetGalley #TheFear

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I am delighted to be bringing you The Fear by C.L. Taylor. Published by Avon Books UK and is available in Paperback, eBook and Audio Book format.  Available for pre-order from Amazon UK publish date 22nd March.

Synopsis:

‘Grabs you by the metaphorical throat right from the start and doesn’t let up until the end.’ Heat

When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.

Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.

But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…

The million copy Sunday Times bestseller returns with a taut, compelling psychological thriller that will have you glued to the edge of your seat.

My Thoughts:

18 years after Lou left her home town to go and live in London, she makes the return to her home.  Now 32 years old she is coming back to memories, dreams, demons and nightmares from her past.  She discovers that Mike,the man who was once the love of her life, is now looking at destroying another innocent teenage girls life. Lou will do everything to stop this from happening at all costs.

This story is set out in chapters from the perspective of each of the main three female characters as they alternate through the story.  They all have a connection to Mike in some form, but it is Lou who takes more of a lead as you learn of her life through memories, her experiences of being groomed by Mike until she is so besotted with him that she runs away to France.  It is only there that she actually see’s what sort of danger she is in from him.  The character of Mike is brilliant in the way that he has been portrayed, don’t think for a moment that I liked him but, the author gives an image of a man who is an evil, conniving and manipulative ******! The way he has of manipulating not only his victim but also the families and friends is one that left me with a whole host of angry, frustrating emotions. He has a mask that others cannot see past, he shows the community a side that he wants them to see rather than what he actually is.

I was quickly drawn into this story and there I remained until its very last page.  It is addictive as I worried and wondered through frustrations, anger and despair over the characters and what they could possibly do?  Would they give into his lies and succumb to the fear?

If you are after a convincing, addictive, psychological manipulative thriller, then let me Highly Recommend this book to you.  A story that not only deals with events of the past, but also how those events play a part in the present and can affect a person for years to come.

My thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books for my copy of this eARC, my thoughts are honest and my own.

About the Author:

7078175  C.L. Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son. She is a three times Sunday Times bestseller and her books have hit the number one spots on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play. Cally has a degree in Psychology, with particular interest in abnormal and criminal Psychology. She also loves knitting, Dr Who, Sherlock, Great British Bake Off and Margaret Atwood and blames Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected for her love of a dark tale.

Her dark psychological thriller THE ACCIDENT was published in the UK by Avon HarperCollins in April 2014 and as BEFORE I WAKE in the US in June 2014 by Sourcebooks.

Her second psychological thriller THE LIE was published in the UK in April 2015. It became a Sunday Times bestseller and hit the #1 slots on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play and Sainsbury ebooks. THE LIE was published in the U.S. by Sourcebooks.

CL’s third psychological thriller THE MISSING was published in April 2016 and was another Sunday Times and ebook bestseller. THE MISSING was published in the U.S. by William Morrow in 2017.

THE ESCAPE, her fourth psychological thriller, went to number 2 in the Sunday Times paperback chart in 2017 and won the Dead Good Books Most Unreliable Narrator award.

Her fifth psychological thriller THE FEAR will be published on 22nd March 2018.

THE TREATMENT, her Young Adult thriller, was the fastest selling UK YA debut of 2017.

Her international bestselling romantic comedies (written as Cally Taylor), HEAVEN CAN WAIT and HOME FOR CHRISTMAS were both published by Orion in the UK. They have been translated into 14 different languages, and her debut was voted ‘Debut Novel of the Year’ by chicklitreviews.com and chicklitclub.com.

In 2014 HOME FOR CHRISTMAS was made into a feature film by JumpStart Productions. For more information visit Home For Christmas Film.Com ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Facebook

Many thanks for reading my post, a share would be wonderful.  Better still get your copy of this book HERE 🙂 xx