Finding Alison by Deirdre Eustace @bwpublishing #blogtour

Delighted to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Finding Alison today! Many thanks to Lina at Black & White Publishing for inviting me. I’ll be sharing my review but first, here is a little something about the book.

35005626

4*

aboutthebook

In Carniskey, a small fishing village in Ireland, the community is divided, wracked by grief and guilt; love and resentment; despair and hope.

Sean Delaney has been missing at sea for three years, and no one – least of all his grieving wife, Alison – knows what really happened to him.

Having lost her husband, her financial security, and having grown distant from her daughter, Alison feels alone and estranged from the villagers. Sean’s mother has not spoken since her house was burgled after his disappearance, and Alison’s only friend, Kathleen, harbours secrets of her own.

Isolated by their stunning, yet often cruel, surroundings, the community is forced to look inwards. But when artist and lifelong nomad William comes to town, he offers Alison a new perspective on life – and love. What she doesn’t realise is that strangers have secrets of their own, and William’s arrival threatens to unearth the mysteries of the past. A story of courage and humanity, we follow a community through their struggles and triumphs in love, loss and betrayal.

As each of the characters strives to find their own sense of belonging, they are led to the realisation that it is only through the truth that they can truly find happiness.

mythoughts

The opportunity to join this blog tour came about because I had “liked” the cover reveal and really, how could I not? It’s beautiful and really made me want to pack a bag and head to the seaside for a weekend. The cover is also incredibly well chosen as the sea is its very own character in this story. The author does a magnificent job in bringing it to live, giving the water traits, characteristics and a dash of attitude.

This novel starts out in the most devastating way when Alison’s husband Sean goes missing while taking out his boat on a stormy night.

Three years later, things aren’t all that much better. Alison is struggling financially, her mother-in-law is in a care home after getting a fright during a burglary at her house and Alison’s relationship with her daughter Hannah has collapsed. But then William comes to town. A nomad and an artist, he carries his own secrets and pain, and yet he offers Alison a new perspective.

The opening chapter was truly heartbreaking and Alison’s despair cut right to the bone. Being as this was my first introduction to Deirdre Eustace’s work, I was immediately blown away by the way her writing gripped me. It’s amazingly descriptive and evocative.

This is a such a beautiful novel. The atmosphere in this little unforgiving Irish seaside village really adds that little extra, which is all down to the author’s writing. We meet and get to know a few characters in the community, all with their own flaws, secrets and baggage as we follow Alison on her journey to finding herself again. There will be some you’ll warm to and some you’ll dislike but they’re all, in their own right, highly realistic and believable.

Finding Alison is a story of falling down and getting back up again. Of finding yourself when your whole world has fallen apart. Of realising you’re far stronger than you think you are. Of picking up the pieces, figuring out the way ahead, and most of all, living in the present and not the past.

Many thanks to Lina at Black and White Publishing for the advanced copy and the invitation to join the tour!

Finding Alison is available now as an ebook and paperback.

Amazon USAmazon UK –  BookdepositoryGoodreads

abouttheauthor

Deirdre Eustace, is a native of Bonmahon, Co Waterford. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in a variety of publications including The Waterford Review, Volumes 1, 2 and 3; Under Brigid’s Cloak; Gathering Together; Ireland’s Own; Galloping On; Syllables and the American White Star Journal. Her work has been broadcast on both local and national radio.

Deirdre’s first novel, If I Trust in You, described by the Irish Independent as ‘tense and gripping… a riveting debut’ was published in July, 2009. It remained in the top sellers list for several months and won a Publishing Ireland ‘Book of the Month’ Award. With over twenty years experience as a writer, editor and proofreader, Deirdre is a full member of the Association of Freelance Editors, Proofreaders and Indexers (AFEPI) Ireland. Finding Alison is her second novel.

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the tour!

Finding Alison blog tour

Weekly Wrap Up (May 21)

weekly-wrap-up

What a week it has been! We had the hottest day of the year so far and I finally got to spend some time in my garden. Pulling weeds, sadly. Not sitting on my bum reading in a comfy chair. I welcomed my guest reviewer Christine to the blog, who’s brilliant. And to top it all off, I was somehow nominated in the Best Newcomer category for the Blogger Awards. (please vote! 😂). I haven’t stopped smiling since and I’m most grateful to the person who nominated me. I’m in incredible company and I wish all of my fellow book bloggers the best of luck!

As far as reading goes, well, definitely slacking off this week and I only managed 5 books. Which is still better than Lorraine. 🤣

Books I read this week :

Books I bought this week :

Only three this week. Which was three more than I planned at the start of the week.

ARC’s received from Netgalley :

Bookpost that arrived this week :

My very first order from the Book Depository, adding to my Orenda collection and completing the Henning Juul series.

On the blog this past week :

Monday : Review for the fab Handcuffs, Truncheon and Polyester Thong

Tuesday : First guest review by Christine who shared her thoughts on Desperation Road

Wednesday : I was on the blog tour for Not Your Average Nurse

Thursday : Reviewed The Freedom Broker

Friday : Christine reviewed Ten Birthdays

Saturday : I posted my review for Dead Woman Walking

Next week on noveldeelights :

I’ll definitely be on two blog tours. I know that much. I’ll be hosting a stop on the tours for Finding Alison by Deirdre Eustace and The Revelation Room by Mark Tilbury. As always, I do have a schedule for the rest of the week but we all know what happens to that when I’m in charge.

Have a brilliant week and happy reading! xx

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton @AuthorSJBolton

32618153

5*

aboutthebook

Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor.

She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.

Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all . . .

mythoughts

As a huge Sharon Bolton fan, suffice to say that Dead Woman Walking was one my most anticipated books of the year. I pre-ordered it ages ago and impatiently counted down the days until publication and the moment the postman would finally bring me my goodies. When the first chapter was shared a few weeks ago via a newsletter, I nearly spontaneously combusted. So, having created my own hype and buzz around this book, would I be left disappointed? Read on to find out.

Imagine a beautiful morning in the English countryside. High up in the sky, people are enjoying a hot-air balloon ride. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Well, not to me. If I’d ever had the inkling to go into one of those flimsy baskets, that desire would definitely be gone after reading this but anyway, you get the picture. Down on the ground, someone commits a murder. The hot-air balloon passengers have seen him but the killer has seen them too and he’ll stop at nothing to shut them up.

And this is where I’m shutting up about the plot too. There’s a lot to discover but you really need to do that on your own. Go in blind, I promise you won’t regret it!

This was such a deliciously tense ride and I stayed up way too late so I could finish the book in one sitting. There are quite a few twists and turns that I didn’t see coming at all. My head was spinning so hard, I got confused at some point. But it all became clear in the end and concluded in a most satisfying way.

There’s just something about this author’s writing that instantly grips me. The suspense is almost palpable and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who tells a story like Sharon Bolton does. Highly engrossing and absorbing, taut with tension, an intricate plot  with multiple threads … all of these things make for one fabulous thriller and I quite confidently say this is her best one yet! And there’s your answer to the question at the start : no, I wasn’t disappointed. Not even for one second!

Sharon Bolton remains one of my go-to authors. The one whose books I’ll pre-order the first chance I get, without even reading the description.

Dead Woman Walking was published on April 20th.

Amazon USAmazon UKBookdepositoryGoodreads

Ten Birthdays by Kerry Wilkinson @kerrywk @bookouture #guestreview

Handing the blog over to Christine today who shares her review for Ten Birthdays.

34533277

aboutthebook

“There are going to be so many things I wish I could’ve told you in person, Poppy. I won’t get the chance to do that, so perhaps this is my only way…”

It’s Poppy Kinsey’s birthday.

She should be blowing out candles and opening presents – but hers falls on the type of heart-wrenching, agonising anniversary she would far rather forget.

The worst day of them all. The day her mother died.

But this year is special because the person she misses most in the world has left her a set of letters, one for each of her next ten birthdays.

As Poppy opens them year by year, she discovers that no matter how tough life gets, her mum will always be by her side, guiding her along the way.

christine

Gosh, I hated to see this end—such a sweet story! I have just recently discovered Kerry Wilkinson as he has within the past year signed on with one of my favorite publishing houses Bookouture. He appears to be quite versatile, writing crime fiction, fantasy, dystopian/science fiction, and now real life stuff. Most of his novels are crime fiction, with two series ongoing. He is really prolific for a younger author; for example, his Jessica Daniel series has eleven installments already. He also has five books coming out in the next year, including four standalones. Ten Birthdays is a nice change of pace for Mr. Wilkinson, something very different from all of his other books. I am a big crime fiction/thriller fan and loved the first book in the Jessica Daniel series. I am also fascinated with authors who can successfully write in different genres so thought I would give this one a go.

The protagonist of Ten Birthdays is Poppy Kinsey, age 16 at the start of the story. This is a shorter novel and consists of 10 chapters, each one focusing on Poppy’s birthday between ages 16 and 25. Poppy’s mum died on her daughter’s 15th birthday. She left Poppy 10 letters, one to be read on each of her next 10 birthdays. What we get are 10 slices of Poppy’s life, each accompanied by a thoughtful note from her deceased mum who continues to guide her daughter with sage advice regarding this difficult thing called life.

It was so fun to watch Poppy grow and mature in her thoughts, her relationships, and her confidence. And to follow her journey with those most important to her—her two best friends, Mark and Freya, and her father. I must say, Mr. Wilkinson does an excellent job portraying thoughts, gestures, and talk of older teens and young women. He nails their emotions beautifully. The author states in a letter to the reader at the end of the book that many of Poppy’s thoughts and experiences are his own, which made the book all that more endearing to me.

One small criticism I have is that I wish the book had been a little longer in order to bring out Poppy’s character just a bit more. I would have liked a little more depth to her thoughts regarding the impact of her mum’s letters, the reasons why she did not embrace her artistic talent early on, and her complex feelings about Mark. But again, we are dealing with one day a year in 10 years of Poppy’s life, and I respect that this format does not lend to maximal character development.

Overall, this little tale was a joy to read. I am smiling from ear to ear with the knowledge that I have a lot of Kerry Wilkinson ahead of me. I plan to read all his thrillers, but would definitely love to see more in the vein of Ten Birthdays! Highly recommended.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for an electronic copy of this book. The opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way.

Ten Birthdays was published in April.

Amazon USAmazon UKGoodreads

The Freedom Broker by K.J. Howe @KJHoweAuthor @MickeyCreative

30985952

4*

aboutthebook

Kidnap negotiator Thea Paris has spent her entire life with survivor’s guilt, following an unspeakable childhood tragedy. At eight years old, she watched, frozen in fear, as her twelve-year-old brother, Nikos, was abducted from their home in Kanzi, Africa. Although he was recovered nine months later, he was never the same after that; worse, Thea discovers that she was supposed to have been the target.

This defining experience drives Thea to become one of the top operatives in the field of kidnap-and-ransom consultancy. She travels the globe trying to bring hostages home – mostly through negotiation, but occasionally through more forceful means. She’s very good at her job. Twenty years after her brother’s abduction, Thea’s worst nightmare is revisited when her father, oil magnate Christos Paris, is taken on his sixtieth birthday.

mythoughts

Thea Paris is a response consultant, also known as a kidnap negotiator. She travels the world to bring hostages home, in whatever way necessary. She’s really good at her job. But then her father, an oil magnate, is kidnapped and things become personal. Who’s behind the kidnapping and why? And can Thea keep her wits about her and bring her father home safe?

The Freedom Broker is the first instalment in the Thea Paris series and it is a cleverly crafted, action-packed thriller. The world of the kidnap negotiator is fascinating and scary and the way the author uses current events really hits its mark. From the very first page, the reader is sucked into high velocity drama as we follow Thea and her team who are trying to extract a hostage.

There’s a superb backstory on Thea’s brother Nikos that was truly gripping. For many chapters, the action doesn’t let up and I kept thinking this would make a pretty cool movie. But then there’s a bit of a dip somewhere in the middle, where I admit I was beginning to lose interest a little. Luckily, things pick up again for the latter chapters, leading to a satisfying ending.

Author K.J. Howe spent a lot of time on her research into kidnappings and conducted interviews with former hostages and negotiators. This shows throughout the book, as it’s obvious she knows what she’s talking about and seamlessly combines fact with fiction.

This thriller offers an intricate plot with lots of players that aren’t always what they seem. There is corruption, backstabbing, intrigue, betrayal, murders, explosions, a few twists … what more could you possibly want?

Many thanks to Mickey at Creative Edge for my copy of this book, which I chose to review honestly.

The Freedom Broker was published on February 7th.

Amazon USAmazon UK – Goodreads

Not Your Average Nurse by Maggie Groff @RosieMargesson @TransworldBooks #blogtour

34323345

4*

aboutthebook

“Over time, I nursed victims of war, the posh, the poor, the famous and the infamous… Oh, the stories I can tell!”

To a young girl the life of a nurse sounds exciting, but with long hours and short shrift it’s never easy. So when Maggie Groff embarks on her training at London’s King’s College Hospital she must quickly get to grips with a demanding career. It’s sink or swim.

From the watchful gaze of stern sisters and the trials of nursing on a poor south-east London housing estate, to the explosive dramas of staff health checks at sophisticated Selfridges, Maggie shares warm and witty stories of mistakes and mayhem, tea and sympathy, and the life-affirming moments that make it all worthwhile.

Played out against the march of feminism and fashion, IRA bombings and the iconic music and movies of almost half a century ago, Not Your Average Nurse is a delightful romp through time.

mythoughts

When I was offered the chance to be on the blog tour for Maggie Groff’s Not Your Average Nurse, I was slightly hesitant. I don’t normally read memoirs, autobiographies, true stories, whatever they’re called. I tend to find them stuffy or some kind of promotional tool for those who think they’ve accomplished I-don’t-know-what when really, most of the time they are just lucky to have been born pretty.

However, in the spirit of this whole broadening my horizon journey I’ve embarked on, I quite happily agreed to read this true story of a student nurse in the 1970’s. And when the very first page already made me chuckle, I felt confident I had made the right decision.

Not Your Average Nurse is a realistic account of life in the 70’s. A time when a woman lost her job when she got married because having a husband and children was still supposed to be her only ambition in life. But Maggie wanted something else completely and set off to London to train to become a nurse. Of course things don’t always go exactly how she wants them to and it’s not all roses and sunshine. But her decision would take her to numerous places around the world and enable her to have a very fulfilling career.

This story has a little bit of everything. Great friendships, finding love and losing it, celebrity encounters, plenty of chuckles but it also highlights the plight of the poor, the elderly and even the Aboriginals. Maggie’s travels take her from England to Switzerland to Australia, constantly needing to adjust to new ways of doing things. Don’t be put off by the title if you’re of the squeamish sort, by the way. There’s really none of that here.

I thoroughly enjoyed Maggie’s recollections about her training days at King’s College Hospital and I found this true story to be a fascinating and entertaining read. Maggie is an excellent and witty storyteller and I would definitely recommend this book, if only to see how different things were back in the day, as a woman and a nurse.

Many thanks to Rosie Margesson and Transworld Books for inviting me on the tour and for my advanced copy!

Not Your Average Nurse will be published on May 18th.

Amazon USAmazon UKGoodreads

abouttheauthor

Maggie Groff is a multi-award-winning novelist, columnist and non-fiction writer living and working in Australia. She is the author of two non-fiction books: the best-selling Mothers Behaving Badly (1999) which showcased her hilarious experiences as a mother, and Hoax Cuisine (2001) which garnered a loyal following and led to a regular column in Fairfax weekend newspapers.

Her first novel Mad Men, Bad Girls (originally titled Mad Men, Bad Girls and the Guerilla Knitters Institute) was published in 2012 and received rave reviews. It was nominated for the Ned Kelly Award and went on to win both Australian Sisters in Crime 13th Davitt Awards for crime fiction – Best First Fiction and Best Adult Novel. Her second novel Good News, Bad News was also published to high acclaim and voted one of the top fifty books you can’t put down in the 2013 Australian Get Reading Campaign. Both novels have been published internationally.

Maggie’s latest book Not Your Average Nurse is a memoir of her richly-varied career working as a nurse at some of the world’s most iconic locations. Publication date is May 2017 in the UK and Australia.

Follow the rest of the tour

C_ipBRMXkAANT4S.jpg-large

Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith @michael_f_smith @noexitpress #guestreview

Something a little different today on the blog as I’ve called in the help of the ever so lovely Christine who will be lending a hand with guest reviews, as and when she feels like it. Huge welcome to Novel Deelights, Christine, and thank you!

29965042

4.5*

aboutthebook

For eleven years the clock has been ticking for Russell Gaines as he sits in Parchman penitentiary. His sentence now up, Russell believes his debt has been paid. But when he returns home, he discovers that revenge lives and breathes all around him.

Meanwhile, a woman named Maben and her young daughter trudge along the side of the interstate. Desperate and exhausted, the pair spend their last dollar on a room for the night, a night that ends with Maben holding a pistol and a dead deputy sprawled in the middle of the road.

With the dawn, destinies collide, and Russell is forced to decide whose life he will save—his own or those of the woman and child.

christine

This book was not on my TBR list as I didn’t think it would be one that would appeal to me. I was basically ordered by a trusted Goodreads buddy to get it immediately and read it soon. So OK, that’s what I did.

The first half of the novel consists of a lot of sultry southern summer scenes, much sadness, a ton of drinking and driving, and a whole lot of whilin’ away the time by the characters. I turned to my buddy for encouragement. She was very confident that I would be just fine if I hung in there, so OK, I trudged on. Just a few pages ahead, the threads of the plot came together and the story really took off.

Man, what a powerful little tale this is! Desperation Road is a superb title to describe the flavor of this book. Russell and Maben are nice people. They have good hearts. They just want to find a modicum of contentment and maybe even a little happiness. Circumstances, however, are not in their favor. They have not been dealt aces by the “here’s a nice life” cards. So they do what they can. Their lives are not pretty; in fact, they are heartbreaking.

Michael Farris Smith is an outstanding writer. Without frills he can really set a scene. Add some cicadas, and he would have totally transported me back to the summers of east Tennessee where I grew up. A lot of desperate people lived near my neck of the woods. Even better, Mr. Smith pulls his readers into his characters’ minds. I could feel their desperation, their overwhelming desire—no, more than that—their overwhelming NEED to set their lives right.

This is not a pretty story, but a real reminder to us who are more blessed that desperate people, good people, are out there suffering and struggling and doing their very best to survive. We must not forget these people. They are just like us, except for bad luck, very bad luck.

How can something like this have even a shred of a happy ending? Well, don’t forget about hope. There is always that. And it too can be a powerful thing.

Read this book.

Many thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for my copy.

Desperation Road was published in February 2017.

Amazon USAmazon UKBookdepositoryGoodreads

 

Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong by Gina Kirkham @GinaGeeJay @urbanebooks

33831215

4*

aboutthebook

Meet Mavis Upton. As mummy to 7-year old Ella, surrogate to far too many pets and with a failed marriage under her belt, Mavis knows she needs to make some life-changing decisions. It’s time to strike out into the world, to stand on her own two feet … to pursue a lifelong ambition to become a Police Officer. I mean, what could go wrong?

Supported by her quirky, malapropism-suffering mum, Mavis throws herself headlong into a world of uncertainty, self-discovery, fearless escapades, laughter and extra-large knickers. And using her newly discovered investigative skills, she reluctantly embarks on a search to find her errant dad who was last seen years before, making off with her mum’s much needed coupon for a fabulous foam cup bra all the way from America.

mythoughts

On an ordinary day, Mavis is out on a walk with her daughter, Ella, when she has an epiphany. It’s time to make some changes to her life and fulfil a lifelong ambition of being a Police Officer. What could go wrong? Well, plenty actually as Mavis is a bit different and quite accident-prone. But she also has a big heart and is so incredibly likeable that you can’t help but root for her every step of the way.

As I was looking for a book that would make me laugh, this one caught my eye. The title and the cover alone made me snort in the most unladylike manner. However, don’t let the cover or the description fool you too much though. Yes, there is hilarity and I did laugh, out loud even, at times. However, there’s a depth to this story that I wasn’t really expecting, which was a truly nice surprise.

I warmed to Mavis instantly but the book is full of quirky, eccentric and funny characters. For me, the star of the show is Mavis’ mum, whose malapropisms frequently made me chuckle, but who is also always there, right behind her daughter, supporting her along the way.

If you’re looking for something a little different and maybe a wee quirky that will put a smile on your face but may also have you reaching for a tissue at some point, I have no doubt you will find this uplifting story an enjoyable and entertaining read.

Many thanks to Urbane Publications and Netgalley for my advanced copy, which I chose to review.

Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong will be published on May 18th.

Amazon USAmazon UKGoodreads

Weekly Wrap Up (May 14)

weekly-wrap-up

It’s been another productive reading week at Casa Dee with 7 books under my belt. Not too shabby. Although one less than last week so I’m clearly slacking off! 😉

Books I read this week :

Books I bought this week :

ARC’s received from Netgalley :

*shakes fist at Bookouture* 😄

Book post that arrived this week :

Dead Woman Walking and He Said/She Said were pre-orders that arrived this week.

On the blog this past week :

Monday : review for The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite

Tuesday : couldn’t come quick enough when it was my turn on my very first Orenda blog tour and I finally got to post my review for Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson.

Wednesday :  “This week in books” (which predictably turned out to be unsuccessful)

Thursday : review for Look Closer by Rachel Amphlett

Friday : review for The Girl on the Bus by N.M. Brown

Saturday : review for Remember Me by Lynda Renham

Next week on noveldeelights :

I actually have a schedule all worked out for next week! I know, you’re stunned. So am I, to be honest. I’ll be even more stunned if I stick to it!

Next week will, maybe, see reviews for Dead Woman Walking and The Freedom Broker and I’m also on the blog tour for Not Your Average Nurse. That last bit is definite. 😜

Wishing you all a wonderful week and happy reading! xx

Remember Me by Lynda Renham @Lyndarenham

34680319

4*

aboutthebook

A new neighbour becomes a new friend. She looks up to you. She admires you, but is it you she wants? You begin to wonder if she wants your husband, or even your child. But then you realise, she wants your life.

When Sharni and Tom move into 24 The Pines, it seems like Clare and Chris have the perfect neighbours. Sharni is always there to help, especially with childcare for Clare’s two-year-old, Ben. But Clare can’t shake off the feelings of anxiety that assail her whenever Sharni is near. Is Clare just being overprotective, or are her feelings justified? As Sharni’s influence touches everyone around her, Clare finds herself fighting for her sanity as well as her family.

mythoughts

Hello, psychological thriller/suspense genre. We meet again. Despite my good intentions, I just can’t seem to be able to quit you.

When I first started reading Remember Me, I had a feeling I’d read something like it before. More than once. A couple moves in next door but they seem to be too good to be true. One person is wary of them but isn’t believed … because of reasons.  Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? (And also slightly cryptic, I know, but I’m trying really hard here not to give anything away!)

Well, I was wrong. It doesn’t happen often but there you go. This turned out to be something completely different to what I expected! There’s a current of underlying tension that totally gripped me. I couldn’t figure out who was reliable, who I could trust, and I definitely couldn’t figure out what was going on. I was second guessing everyone and everything.

While I really quite enjoyed the change in point of view about halfway through the story, it was also too repetitive for my liking but I understand the reasoning behind it. I just felt maybe it could have been handled a bit differently.

However, this is a fabulously structured plot with plenty of surprises, twists, turns, red herrings and a whole lot of crazy! I’m glad I kept reading after my initial reaction. Predictable, it is not. Just goes to show that sometimes you need to stick at a book because you never know.

Lynda Renham is not an author I was familiar with at all. She’s not a debut author by any means but this is her first outing into a completely new genre for her and I do hope it won’t be her last.

Remember me was published on March 24th.

Amazon USAmazon UKBookdepositoryGoodreads