blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Dig Street Festival – Chris Walsh*

It’s 2006 in the fictional East London borough of Leytonstow. The UK’s pub smoking ban is about to happen, and thirty-eight-and-a-half year old John Torrington, a mopper and trolley collector at his local DIY store, is secretly in love with the stylish, beautiful, and middle-class barmaid Lois. John and his hapless, strange, and down-on-their-luck friends, Gabby Longfeather and Glyn Hopkins, live in Clements Markham House – a semi-derelict Edwardian villa divided into unsanitary bedsits, and (mis)managed by the shrewd, Dickensian business man, Mr Kapoor.

When Mr Kapoor, in a bizarre and criminal fluke, makes him fabulously credit-worthy, John surprises his friends and colleagues alike by announcing he will organise an amazing ‘urban love revolution’, aka the Dig Street Festival. But when he discovers dark secrets at the DIY store, and Mr Kapoor’s ruthless gentrification scheme for Clements Markham House, John’s plans take several unexpected and worrisome turns…Funny, original, philosophical, and unexpectedly moving, The Dig Street Festival takes a long, hard, satirical look at modern British life, and asks of us all, how can we be better people?

Louise Walters Books Amazon UK

Foyles Waterstones Book Depository

Kobo

Chris Walsh grew up in Middlesbrough and now lives in Kent. He writes both fiction and non-fiction, an example of which you can read here in May 2020’s Moxy Magazine.

Chris’s debut novel The Dig Street Festival will be published by Louise Walters Books in April 2021.

Chris’s favourite novel is Stoner by John Williams and his favourite novella is The Death of Ivan Illyich by Leo Tolstoy. His top poet is Philip Larkin. He is also a fan of Spike Milligan.

Twitter

My thoughts:

This is a surreal, and at times, very funny book. John is one of life’s hapless few, nothing he does seems to matter and he struggles with feelings of anger and hopelessness.

Deciding to throw caution to the wind and create his own world, all paid for by the mysteriously accumulating pile of credit cards that keep coming through his door, John and his equally strange friends, Glyn and Gabby, cause anarchy in the East London fictional borough of Leytonstow.

I kept laughing out loud, there are some brilliantly funny moments and a huge sense of bathos as chaos runs riot and John’s life unravels all around him.

It’s not an easy book to categorise – part fantasy, almost dystopian in the way the lies and casual darkness appear as John looks closer at his small part of the world.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books

Book Blitz: Borrowed Treasure – Jessica Tastet

Congratulations to author, Jessica Tastet on the release of her latest novel, Borrowed Treasure! Read on for more info and a chance to win a digital copy of the book!

Borrowed Treasure Cover

Borrowed Treasure

Publication Date: April 13th, 2021

Genre: Womens Fiction/ Clean Romance

Publisher: Dandelion Wish Publishing

Sissy Ames has been driven to succeed her entire life. On her own, she’s turned her Bittersweet Café into a success, and she’s rebuilt a friendship with her cousin Harper after years of going it alone, but her past bad judgement in trusting Hunter Wells during their relationship continues to cast shadows on the future she’s trying to build for herself.

Hunter Wells has been coasting through life, working at the family business and creating the life that his family expects for him. He’d once hoped for a different existence, but he’d been forced to move on and make do after Sissy Ames had ended their three-year relationship without an explanation.

Even in their small town, the two have managed to avoid each other, but then Hunter’s fiancée, Sissy’s nemesis, disappears after a suspicious confrontation, leaving them both looking like likely suspects. The only hope they have of clearing their names and figuring out what led to the disappearance is to find the one item that drove them apart two years ago: The Ames BORROWED TREASURE.

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

Sissy

Sissy Ames ducked behind the ostentatious flower arrangement with its oversized lilies and Hyacinthian sprays shooting out at unnatural angles. The thickness hid the center of the room but exposed her to the tableclothed tables lining either side where the overdressed elite of Thibodaux and its surrounding areas sat. Tonight represented everything she typically avoided, mainly so that she could stay out of the proximity of the woman commanding the center floor. Why her arch nemesis must flit around the ballroom gloating about her latest accomplishment was beyond Sissy. That woman’s pretentious fake smile and sickly-sweet voice had followed Sissy wherever she went in the large ballroom until her hands had begun to shake and her jaw to ache from the clenching.

Harper, her cousin, approached from the buffet table near the rear of the room. “The lobster bisque’s edible.” Holding out a tiny plastic bowl towards Sissy, Harper shrugged bare shoulders in defeat. Although the food lacked appeal, Harper certainly stunned in the black skintight number Sissy had sent over for her to wear tonight. Sissy had been right to prod the usually casual attired woman into vintage satin as it hugged her hips and showed off the curvy body that Sissy unfortunately did not possess. Sissy had inherited her mother’s straight form among other genetics she wished she could trade in.

Accepting the ecru soup, Sissy’s eyes scanned the crowd, looking for Cecelia Domangue, the bane of her existence since they were fifteen years old and fighting over president of student council. Currently, the petite blonde in a fuchsia Valentino stood chatting with a town councilman and the sheriff, her fake laugh chiming her existence from twenty feet away.

Sissy ran a clear plastic spoon through the watery consistency of the bisque. In her head she mentally critiqued the recipe’s minimal usage of cream. “Anything has to be better than that beef dish.”

Narrowing her emerald eyes, Harper twisted her lips and flashed Sissy a familiar look. Sissy’s cheeks warmed. Her resentment must be showing.

Sissy had submitted a bid to cater the fundraiser tonight in an attempt at a business expansion, but her bid had been accepted under condition. As the serving contract had been awarded to Cecelia’s restaurant Twilight Fare, Sissy would have to submit her recipes to Cecelia for approval and preparation. As if Sissy would ever turn over her recipes to the woman who’d opened a restaurant blocks over in her continuing effort to encroach on every aspect of Sissy’s life. Even if Sissy’s own Bittersweet Café catered to a different crowd than Cecelia’s Twilight Fare, that woman had branched right into catering which Sissy had cautiously tested the waters only a month before Cecelia had gone full blown into advertising her own services.

Harper glanced away to scan the room, and Sissy returned to the soup, which she knew she could have done better. “How long do we have to stay?”

Discarding the bowl, Sissy picked up her champagne glass from the table instead. At least they’d bought the good stuff. “We need to be sure the right people see our faces, but besides from that, the committee already has our hundred bucks a head, so I don’t think they care if we are here an hour or close the place down.”

Tonight’s fundraiser for the Downtown Revitalization committee had the special purpose of raising money to spruce up the downtown area with seasonal decorations to help promote the Christmas festival. The event had filled the local university ballroom with the social society of the small-town area and all its neighboring towns to be sure. As part of the committee, Sissy had aided in promoting the event, even though Cecelia’s recent addition to the committee had managed to sway votes and shut her out of the menu selections.

Harper picked up her own glass from the table and sipped. “I see a few local lawyers from Emmett’s last mixer. I’ll go over and say hello. If I’m lucky, I may get home early enough to speak to Emmett before the different time zones mean he’s sleeping.”

Sissy had Cecelia in her crosshairs, and she waited for her to prance to another unsuspecting guest, so she could emerge from behind the flowers that Sissy had voted against. Currently, Cecelia stood near Rudy Klingman, councilman for her district, who dropped in every Wednesday for a number six special, and she’d promised to propose streetlamps to him on behalf of the committee. Distracted, she asked Harper. “Any indication when he’s going to return from New York?”

Harper shrugged. “He says the case should wrap up in a day or two. I believe he’s enjoying it way too much.”

Sissy waved Harper’s doubt away with her champagned hand. “Pish, Emmett will be home soon, and you two will be making me sick with your sweetness.”

Harper smiled, her olive complexion flushing. “Okay, no arguing with my date tonight, especially since you drove. Let’s make our rounds and be out of here in thirty minutes.”

Sissy nodded and raised her flute in the air as if to toast. “That’s a plan I can drink to.”

Harper clinked her glass against Sissy’s, and then they departed into the mingling crowd.

Avoiding Cecelia’s group, Sissy slunk over to Suzy Rhodes, greeting a few of the lawyers and two judges that frequented her business for lunch during the week. In her two-piece blue suit, Suzy stood removed from the invitees, her eyes watching everyone. Her stance hadn’t changed since high school although she’d updated her attire to pant suits and cut her hair into a short bob she tucked behind her ears. Back then, she’d taken photos for the yearbook and everyone had wanted her attention to get within the pages. Today, she wrote a monthly column in the local entertainment magazine, specifically a review of local eateries. Sissy had attempted getting the café featured for months now, even sending a personalized gift certificate two months ago. The woman had never responded to the invitation nor shown up as even a patron, but Cecelia’s Twilight Fare had been prominently featured, not only as a food review but as a front-page feature on up and coming restaurant owners.

Suzy Rhodes smiled, her cheeks dimpling as Sissy approached. “Why, Sissy Ames, I’m surprised to see you at a swanky function like this. Not your usual soiree, huh?”

Plastering a smile on her face, Sissy drew upon her southern manners she knew lay beyond her desire to give the woman a good tongue lashing. “Since my café is located in the center of downtown, I have a vested interest in its revitalization efforts.”

Laughing airily, Suzy’s eyes wandered the room as if bored with the conversation. “Right, that’s true, your little café is down there. I never remember it’s there.”

Sissy raised an eyebrow, holding her glass closer to her lips. “I know. I’ve invited you several times as part of that little column of yours, but you have yet to accept my invitation.”

A short, fierce laugh escaped as Suzy’s eyes met Sissy’s. She returned to her survey of the room just as quickly though. “My lord Sissy, I can’t accept every invitation I receive.”

“Hmm.” Sissy scanned the room, her eyes naturally falling upon Cecelia, who stood facing Chef Homme from Le Homme, the elegant downtown restaurant. The two’s expressions revealed deep, serious conversation—too serious for a social mixer. “Is that why your material has been repetitive?”

Suzy’s stance shifted. “Excuse me?”

Sissy smiled, tilting her head. “Oh, I thought you were just so busy that you recycled material from the same four restaurants. Everyone has been talking.”

Sissy continued smiling as Suzy’s eyes lit with anger. The dark haired, flat nosed woman bit her tongue though. They’d all been raised too southern to truly speak their minds at events such as these.

“Well, it was nice running into you,” Sissy said, bowing her head in exit. “But I see a city council member I need to have a word with about lamp posts.”

Sissy pivoted, feeling a surge of confidence from the conversation. Moments ago, she’d hid behind hideous flowers to avoid her high school tormentor, but they had grown up, even though some didn’t behave as if they had. Cecelia and even Suzy hid behind country club houses and designer labels still, making others feel as if they didn’t measure up in the circles they all moved in. She had to remind herself in their vicinity that she was proud of her downtown renovated apartment and scavenged consignment finds.

Spotting Cecelia ahead on her path though, she pivoted and turned the other way to avoid her. She told herself that with her new found attitude, she would probably lose her southern manners and regret it later.

Her attention lingered too long over Cecelia, and when she turned, she hit a wall of black cashmere and white softened woven cotton. Reaching her hand out, she pushed herself away, inhaling the masculine smell of sandalwood and musk. From his chest hugging shirt, her eyes followed the Italian silk woven tie in its beautiful pastel green and yellow swirl pattern. The feminine color selection had been a brave choice for a function such as this where the men showcased their masculinity and their pocketbooks. So, he either didn’t know better or his power came with his name.

She continued on up to his tie’s perfectly anchored knot and landed on the chiseled jawline and soft brown, waiting eyes of Hunter Wells.

Her nose flared as she inhaled deeply, an awareness of their nearness. She took a step back.

“Excuse me.” Sissy felt her cheeks burn as the back of her neck flushed.

A light flickered in his warm chocolate eyes.

“Of course.” Hunter nodded, and his lip twitched. “How have you been?”

Hearing her heart pound in her throat, Sissy straightened her spine, bracing herself for the old anger to return, but his nearness tempered any old residual anger.

Available on Amazon and other Online Retailers!

About the Author

Profile-pic-500x508

Born and raised in Raceland, Louisiana, near Bayou Lafourche, Jessica Tastet uses the places and people of her childhood to create the backdrop of her fictional South Louisiana town in her Raleigh Cheramie series as well as her Treasure Trilogy.

An avid reader, she began writing stories in the sixth grade. The result was a mystery story she promptly shared with all her family and whoever she could convince to read it. She learned the first of many valuable writing lessons with this endeavor: don’t draw your characters too close to real-life people. Since then. she has earned her editing certification from the University of California and an MFA in Creative Writing from National University in California. Presently, she resides in her hometown with her husband and five teenagers where she works with Curriculum for the local school district.

Jessica Tastet | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

International Giveaway: Click the link below for a chance to win a digital copy of the book in the format of choice!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Tour Organized By:

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Summer Secrets at Streamside Cottage – Samantha Tonge*

A new start can come from the most unexpected places…

It’s been years since Lizzie Lockhart spoke to her parents. But she was safe in the knowledge she knew everything about them. Once upon a time, they were as close as could be. Until they weren’t.

After receiving the earth-shattering news of their passing, Lizzie decides it’s time to unearth some family secrets and find out just who her parents really were… starting
with Streamside Cottage.

A cottage Lizzie never knew existed, in a place she’s never
heard of: the beautiful English village of Leafton.

Leaving behind London, and the tattoo parlour she called home, Lizzie finds herself moving to the countryside. Faced with a tight-lipped community, who have secrets of
their own, Lizzie is at a loss for what to do, until her rather handsome neighbour, Ben, steps in to help.
As Lizzie finally begins to piece together the puzzle of her family history she realises she has to confront the truth of the past in order to face her future.

Amazon Kobo Google Play Bookshop.org

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely. When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories
to women’s magazines. She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency.

In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for
the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not heralded a new direction into
darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award

Facebook Twitter Instagram

My thoughts:

Reeling from the deaths of her estranged parents, Lizzie rents the cottage left to her aunt and goes looking for the mystery of why her parents never wanted to return to Leafton.

As she looks into the past, her future is still undecided, will she return to London, the tattoo studio where she works and the flat she shares with her boss, or will she find out things that make her want to stay in Leafton?

This was a clever and enjoyable story about family, the past and building a new life for yourself. Lizzie is an interesting and engaging protagonist, her memories of her early childhood are hazy but the things she needs to know are buried in there somewhere.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Kate in Waiting – Becky Albertelli*

From bestselling YA rom-com queen Becky Albertalli (author of Love, Simon) comes a new novel about daring to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight in love, life and theatre.
[PRINCIPAL CAST LIST]
Kate Garfield
Anderson Walker
Best friends, and contrary to popular belief, not co-dependent.

Examples:Carpooling to and from theatre rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient.
Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment.
Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.
But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script.
Enter Stage Left: Matt OlssonHe is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.
Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship…

Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (film: Love, Simon), The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat. She is also the co-author of What If It’s Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at

She is also the co-author of What If It’s Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at www.beckyalbertalli.com.

My thoughts:

I knew I would enjoy this for two reasons – one, it’s about theatre kids and two, it’s by Becky Albertalli.

A really fun and totally enjoyable read about crushes, friendship, first love and putting on a show. Kate and Andy’s bond is strong and genuine and those are the ones you hold onto. It’s also very funny.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Zara Hossain is Here – Sabina Khan*

Zara’s family has waited years for their visa process to be finalized so that they can officially become US citizens. But it only takes one moment for that dream to come crashing down around them.

Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

From the author of the “heart-wrenching yet hopeful” (Samira Ahmed) novel, The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, comes a timely, intimate look at what it means to be an immigrant in America today, and the endurance of hope and faith in the face of hate.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop.org | Book Depository |

Sabina Khan is the author of ZARA HOSSAIN IS HERE (Scholastic/ April 6, 2021) and THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI (Scholastic, 2019). She is an educational consultant and a karaoke enthusiast. After living in Germany, Bangladesh, Macao, Illinois and Texas, she has finally settled down in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, with her husband, two daughters and the best puppy in the world.

Twitter | Instagram | Website |

My thoughts:

This was really good, a powerful novel about our differences and our similarities, about race, religion and sexuality. A book about family in all its different guises and friendship.

The fun stuff; bits are really funny, like Zorro the dog and his pizza hedge or Zara’s dad getting carried away on the karaoke machine. There’s so much food I was practically drooling all the way through – South Asian food is delicious and I was extremely hungry (I made curry after I finished it, also you should definitely try bhel puri, it’s amazing). The romance between Zara and Chloe was sweet and tender.

The not so fun stuff; racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, bigotry. What happens to Zara’s dad is really awful, what she and her family endure from the small minority of idiots that think the colour of someone’s skin or the way they practice their faith is an acceptable thing to attack. It’s very sad and it made me very angry. Some of my best friends are Indian and Pakistani, some of them are Muslim too and I hate how they have to deal with ignorance and bigotry.

There is hope in the book, though, Zara has so much hope and that is so so important when dealing with things like this. She’s determined to stand up and fight back against the racists and the bigots. I stand with all the Zaras out there dealing with this nonsense (trying really hard not to swear) as an ally.

An important, timely book and one I hope lots of people choose to read.

To follow the tour, click on the banner.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Summer Secrets at Streamside Cottage – Samantha Tonge*

Read my review of The Summer Island Swap

A new start can come from the most unexpected places…

It’s been years since Lizzie Lockhart spoke to her parents. But she was safe in the knowledge she knew everything about them. Once upon a time, they were as close as could be. Until they weren’t.

After receiving the earth-shattering news of their passing, Lizzie decides it’s time to unearth some family secrets and find out just who her parents really were… starting with Streamside Cottage.

A cottage Lizzie never knew existed, in a place she’s never heard of: the beautiful English village of Leafton.
Leaving behind London, and the tattoo parlour she called home, Lizzie finds herself moving to the
countryside. Faced with a tight-lipped community, who have secrets of their own, Lizzie is at a loss for what to do, until her rather handsome neighbour, Ben, steps in to help.

As Lizzie finally begins to piece together the puzzle of her family history she realises she has to confront the truth of the past in order to face her future.

Amazon UK Amazon US Kobo

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK and studied German and French at university. She has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris, and has travelled widely.

She has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.
In 2014 her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction
Best Ebook Award.
In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category.
In 2019 she was shortlisted for the RNA’s Romantic Comedy Award.
In 2020 she won the RNA’s Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award with her novel Knowing You, from publisher Canelo.

Twitter Instagram Facebook Website

My thoughts:

Reeling from the deaths of her estranged parents, Lizzie rents the cottage left to her aunt and goes looking for the mystery of why her parents never wanted to return to Leafton.

As she looks into the past, her future is still undecided, will she return to London, the tattoo studio where she works and the flat she shares with her boss, or will she find out things that make her want to stay in Leafton?

This was a clever and enjoyable story about family, the past and building a new life for yourself. Lizzie is an interesting and engaging protagonist, her memories of her early childhood are hazy but the things she needs to know are buried in there somewhere.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Another Man – Leslie Croxford*

Haunted by a sense of inner emptiness, Frank Ward struggles to reconcile with his tormented past. He is aided by a series of intense encounters, as well as by an unexpected plunge into researching the life of so-called “Good Nazi”, Albert Speer.

My thoughts:

Frank returns to the Spanish village he spent a holiday in as a young student; now a published author, he searches for his next subject, a historian, he becomes fascinated by the story of Albert Speer’s driver, who recuperated in the village after being repatriated from Russia.

Frank becomes friends with Bruno, a pianist, and they discuss Speer over and over, much to the boredom of Bruno’s wife, Frank’s landlady and other women. When Paloma, Bruno’s daughter, arrives back in the village, she and Frank begin to fall in love.

The switches back and forth from first to third person narration are interesting, they add to the unsettling subject matter, the life of Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect, and a man who built his own myth, that of being a “good Nazi” while in Spandau prison for twenty years. Frank and Bruno are obsessed by him and the weak link to the village where they are. They endlessly debate whether he was a liar (as shown after his death) or as he wanted to be seen – ignorant of the horrors going on around him.

It’s a rather redundant debate, one quick Google search would have answered their questions, and I think that’s why the other characters get a bit fed up with them. Paloma, who actually knew the recuperating driver, tolerates it slightly better than her mother.

But Frank seems to be one of those people who broods on the past, their own included. He thinks about his previous trip to this village, to stay with his friend Juan, and the girl he met then. His Speer obsession becomes so all consuming it stops his melancholy.

It’s an interesting book, beautifully written, even if I got a bit bored of their fixation on one of the chief Nazis, and the fact that we know there’s so such thing as a “good” one.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Charity of Strangers – Alison Burke*

You can find almost anything in a charity shop, but can you find love?

You can certainly find friendship and there is both laughter and tears ahead when 19yr old Zaffron, lonely, anxious and without direction, meets Blaire Daintry, good-looking, charming, and gay.

Both volunteers in the charity shop, he has a hidden agenda, she has secrets, but they are friends from the start, despite Blaire’s constant sparring with Ida, the stern, good-hearted older volunteer who Zaffron admires. And perhaps Ida has secrets too.

Together with other victims of the city’s housing crisis, Blaire and Zaffron set up a safe and happy home. Secure at last, she tells him of the dreadful incident in her childhood that has marred her life, but not even his total acceptance gives her the confidence to start a relationship with an attractive and decent young army sergeant who falls in love with her.

Is it fear of the truth coming out that holds her back? Or is there some other reason, buried too deep in her heart for her to recognise?

Amazon UK Amazon US

I was born and grew up in Lancashire, gained several nursing qualifications and had the privilege of a long and varied nursing career, briefly in the Royal Army Nursing Service abroad, mainly in the NHS in UK.

True love and a happy family came my way and now I have the time to read, write and remember.

Facebook Instagram Website

My thoughts:

Some years ago I used to be a deputy manager in a charity shop – we had some right characters in the volunteers. There was Mrs K, who acted like she was the Queen and a bit of sweeping or actually learning how to use the till was beneath her. Then there were B and L, two lovely ladies who were best pals and came in together and gossiped their way through one morning every week – they were great fun.

When Zaffron volunteers in her local charity shop, she meets some interesting and quite eccentric people, it took me right back. A lot of volunteers are older, more commonly women than men, and shops always want younger people to help with some of the larger jobs – sorting stock, window displays, culling unsold goods. That’s what I started out doing.

Zaffron is a bit adrift in her life but volunteering boosts her confidence, gives her new friends from different backgrounds and helps her work out what she wants to do. She also takes a GCSE English class, getting some qualifications to help her get ahead.

Her friendship with Blaire is a bit uneven but helps her too – having a confidante allows her to work through some of her past. She really grows as a person through the course of the novel.

I enjoyed reading about her growth and hopes for the future, as well as the cast of the shop. It really reminded me of my time at the charity shop and the overall decency of most humans.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Raft of Stars – Andrew J. Graff*

One summer night in Wisconsin, the lives of two ten-year-old boys are changed forever…

Tired of seeing his best friend Dale Breadwin abused by his alcoholic father, Fischer Branson takes action. A gunshot rings out, and Bread and Fish flee into the woods. They build a raft, but the river quickly leads them into even greater danger.

In their wake travel a group of adults – each determined to save the boys from the terrors of Ironsford Gorge.

The further they go, the more the wilderness starts to change them in profound and unexpected ways. And when they reach the edge of the Gorge itself, they begin to understand the true violence and beauty of the natural world, and its ability to heal.

No matter where you run danger will always follow…

My thoughts:

This was a beautifully moving, sad book about love, friendship and the unbreakable bonds between people.

Fish and Bread are each other’s best friend and closer than brothers, when Fish rescues his friend from his abusive father, the boys go on the run, thinking only of the nightmare of punishment, not the fact that they are in fact, loved.

The people who love them follow, Fish’s grandfather Teddy, the sheriff Cal, Fish’s mum and Tiff. These adults fight through rapids and hostile forest to find the two boys and save them from further harm. Along the way the disparate pairings bond and develop deeper understandings of themselves.

I’ll be honest, I was pretty close to tears towards the end, the writing is so moving and fraught with emotion. Fish and Bread are so innocent and brave and deep down kind, gentle boys that the world will try to break. The adults are also decent, loving, good people who want only to protect the boys so much they’re willing to risk everything for them.

Elements of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, other young boys out in the wilderness, abound. An elegy for the innocence of boyhood. Tender and bittersweet.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Girls Are All So Nice Here – Laurel Elizabeth Flynn*

Two former best friends return to their college reunion to find that they’re being circled by someone who wants revenge for what they did ten years before–and will stop at nothing to get it–in this shocking psychological thriller about ambition, toxic friendship, and deadly desire.

A lot has changed in the years since Ambrosia Wellington graduated from college, and she’s worked hard to create a new life for herself. But then an invitation to her ten-year reunion arrives in the mail, along with an anonymous note that reads “We need to talk about what we did that night.”

It seems that the secrets of Ambrosia’s past–and the people she thought she’d left there–aren’t as buried as she’d believed. Amb can’t stop fixating on what she did or who she did it with: larger-than-life Sloane “Sully” Sullivan, Amb’s former best friend, who could make anyone do anything.

At the reunion, Amb and Sully receive increasingly menacing messages, and it becomes clear that they’re being pursued by someone who wants more than just the truth of what happened that first semester. This person wants revenge for what they did and the damage they caused–the extent of which Amb is only now fully understanding. And it was all because of the game they played to get a boy who belonged to someone else, and the girl who paid the price.

Alternating between the reunion and Amb’s freshman year, The Girls Are All So Nice Here is a shocking novel about the brutal lengths girls can go to get what they think they’re owed, and what happens when the games we play in college become matters of life and death.

My thoughts:

There’s a reason so many of my friends are male, and it’s girls like this to be honest. The bitchy, clique-y girls, the ones who think they’re better than anyone else. The nasty girls. That’s not to say I don’t have female friends, I do, but I shy away from women who have never grown out of their mean streak a mile wide.

Amb and Sully are those girls, Amb thinks she’s moved on and grown up but a reunion weekend at college shows she’s still the same. I felt sorry for her husband, a puppy dog of a man, so eager to please, and her other supposed friends as she and Sully basically rewind ten years in no time at all.

They did something awful to another girl, and someone wants the truth to come to light. But who? They’ve finally met their manipulative match in this shadowy figure, someone’s who has been planning this for a long time.

Twisted, dark and compelling, this is what Mean Girls can really be if left to their own devices.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.