After The End by Clare Mackintosh | @claremackint0sh @LittleBrownUK @millieseward | #bookreview #AfterTheEnd

Author : Clare Mackintosh
Title : After The End
Pages : 384
Publisher : Sphere / Little Brown UK
Publication date : June 25, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son. 

What if they could have both?

| MY THOUGHTS |

This is such a hard review to write but I imagine not nearly as hard as it must have been to write this novel.

Max and Pip face one of the toughest decisions any parent could possibly face. Their three year old son, Dylan, is brain damaged due to complications from a tumour. Max and Pip are one of the strongest couples you’re bound to meet but now, they find themselves on opposite sides as each tries to decide for themselves what’s best for Dylan.

After The End is a novel I had to read in bits and pieces, for fear of choking on the huge lump in my throat. The author deals with a highly emotional topic and it all feels incredibly realistic, moving and extremely heartbreaking. The story is split into two parts, the before and after. The reader is offered an insight into Dylan’s circumstances and the many long days Pip spends at his bedside. The tiny slivers of hope and the plummeting realisations when things go downhill felt like a rollercoaster. There are also the wonderful friendships parents form with each other on the ward, the support they give each other and yet it must be so incredibly hard to watch another child make a recovery and ultimately leave for home when your own child lies unmoving in their bed.

The “after” in the story is split in two. The reader follows both Pip and Max but in alternative storylines. Each has to deal with the decision they made regarding Dylan’s future. Was it the right one? How can you ever know? Will their marriage survive when so many do not?

I must admit that my feelings for this novel were also split in two. I thought the first part of the story was exceedingly compelling and I was right there with the characters on the ward, trying to figure out what I would do in that situation. But the second half of the story started to lose me somewhat. It seemed a bit repetitive at times and while I was still rooting for the characters to come through it all, I didn’t find this second half as gripping as the first half.

Nevertheless, After The End is a beautifully written story about a marriage put under strain in the most difficult of circumstances and facing an impossible choice. A remarkable departure for Clare Mackintosh, who you may know from some excellent psychological thrillers. This was quite obviously a story that she needed to tell and she did it in the most wonderful way possible. Not an easy story to read, yet one that will remain with me forever.

My thanks to the publisher for the review copy!

After The Lie is available to buy!

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Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor | @melaniecantor @TransworldBooks | #blogtour #bookreview #RandomThingsTours

Delighted to join the blog tour for Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor today! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my beautiful review copy!

Author : Melanie Cantor
Title : Death and Other Happy Endings
Pages : 300
Publisher : Bantam Press
Publication date : June 13, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Jennifer Cole has just been told that she has a terminal blood disease. She has three months to live — ninety days to say goodbye to friends and family and put her affairs in order. Trying to focus on the positives (at least she’ll never lose her teeth) Jennifer realises she has one overriding regret: the words she’s left unsaid. 

Rather than pursuing a frantic bucket list, she chooses to stay put, and write letters to three significant people in her life: her overbearing, selfish sister, her jelly-spined, cheating ex-husband, and her charming, unreliable ex-boyfriend finally telling them the things she’s always wanted to say but never dared.

At first, Jennifer feels cleansed by her catharsis. Liberated, even. But once you start telling the truth, it’s hard to stop. And, as she soon discovers, the truth isn’t always as straightforward as it seems, and death has a way of surprising you. 

| MY THOUGHTS |

Something somewhat different on my blog today. Far removed from all the crime fiction and psychological thrillers I tend to read, it was the book description for Death and Other Happy Endings that immediately appealed to me. Who doesn’t just want to let go and really tell people what you think of them?

Jennifer Cole is told she has an incurable disease and only has three months left to live. What would you do? Pull out a bucket list and cram as much as you can into those ninety days you have left? Or take a good, long look at the life you’ve led so far; the good and the bad? Jennifer decides this is the perfect time to write letters to her ex-husband, her ex-boyfriend and her sister. Three people who have been immensely significant in her life, but who have also let her down and maybe Jennifer has let them get away with just that little bit too much. Finally, she feels the time has come to tell them how she really feels about them. After all, she’s dying and won’t have to face the consequences, right? But there are a few surprises in store.

You’d be forgiven for thinking this story would be absolutely depressing but I promise you, it’s really not. A lot of that down is to the character of Jennifer, who is absolutely delightful. From the very first page, I already knew I was going to love her to bits. As heartbreaking as the news about her diagnosis is, there was something about her personality that immediately drew me to her. Even while sitting in the doctor’s office, receiving bad news, she somehow managed to make me laugh.

It’s remarkably easy to imagine the feeling of liberation Jennifer has when she finally posts the three letters. It almost made me feel slightly jealous, thinking I too would love to tell some people a few home truths. Although preferably without a death sentence hanging over my head. Why is it that we often don’t or wait until it’s too late?

Death and Other Happy Endings is a moving, yet witty and heartwarming story about relationships, friendships, life and regrets. I absolutely adored this book. I found it immensely enjoyable and entertaining, yet also quite thought-provoking. This is a truly delightful debut from Melanie Cantor and I would have absolutely no problem shoving my crime fiction and thrillers aside to read more by her.

Death and Other Happy Endings is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Melanie Cantor was a celebrity agent and publicist for over thirty years. Her clients included Ulrika Jonsson, Melinda Messenger and Melanie Sykes. 

In 2004, she hosted a makeover show on Channel 4 called Making Space and in 2017 having just turned 60 she was scouted on Kings Cross station, subsequently appearing as a ‘real model’ in the most recent Dove campaign. 

She turned her hand to writing in 2008. Death and other Happy Endings is her first published novel.

A Modern Family by Helga Flatland | @HelgaFlatland @OrendaBooks | #blogtour #AModernFamily #bookreview #RandomThingsTours

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for A Modern Family by Helga Flatland. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my beautiful review copy!

Author : Helga Flatland (trs Rosie Hedger)
Title : A Modern Family
Pages : 250
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : June 13, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When Liv, Ellen, and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s 70th birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce.

Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history.

A bittersweet novel of regret, relationships, and rare psychological insights, A Modern Family encourages us to look at the people closest to us a little more carefully, and ultimately reveals that it’s never too late for change.

| MY THOUGHTS |

This novel is the perfect example of why I love doing blog tours as much as I do. It isn’t exactly the type of book I’d normally go for. In fact, I was rather worried it wouldn’t be my thing at all. But Orenda Books has never let me down before and as I have the utmost faith in their books, I decided to go for it. Didn’t regret it for a second!

On a trip to Italy to celebrate their father’s 70th birthday, Liv, Ellen and Håkon’s lives are thrown into turmoil when their parents reveal their decision to get divorced. Each must now come to terms with the changes that will bring.

I didn’t particularly like any of these characters. Yet the feelings they are struggling with were immensely relatable. It’s easy to forget sometimes that your parents are just people too, with their own thoughts, opinions and feelings. How well do we ever really know our parents and the life they lead when we aren’t around? Just because they don’t argue in front of us, doesn’t mean they don’t argue in private, for instance. Watching the siblings struggle with their parents’ divorce made sense. In effect, it is a safety net that has vanished and for Liv especially, who tried to model her own marriage after her parents, things fall apart rather quickly. If her parents can’t make their marriage last, how can she?

A Modern Family is a beautifully written story about relationships and the shifting of family dynamics. It delves deep into the psychology of these characters and shows remarkable insight as the characters start to analyse, not only themselves, but also those closest to them. I often found myself nodding at some of the things that were said and you just can’t help reading this and subsequently put your own family under a magnifying glass. With complex characters and issues, this beautifully written story soon became utterly immersive and that is no mean feat when you realise there are no bells and whistles, no twists and turns, but just everyday people dealing with everyday problems.

A Modern Family surprised me in the best way possible. Moving, powerful, thought-provoking and immensely absorbing, it paints a wonderful and realistic picture of a family going through the ups and downs of modern life.

A Modern Family is published tomorrow and available for preorder!

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Helga Flatland is already one of Norway’s most awarded and widely read authors.

Born in Telemark, Norway, in 1984, she made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Stay If You Can, Leave If You Must, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ First Book Prize.

She has written four novels and a children’s book and has won several other literary awards. Her fifth novel, A Modern Family, was published to wide acclaim in Norway in August 2017, and was a number-one bestseller. The rights have subsequently been sold across Europe and the novel has sold more than 100,000 copies.

The House On The Edge Of The Cliff by Carol Drinkwater | @MichaelJBooks | #blogtour #extract #excerpt

It’s a real pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for The House On The Edge Of The Cliff by Carol Drinkwater today! My thanks to Sriya at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join. I have an extract to share with you all today but first, here is what this novel is all about.

Author : Carol Drinkwater
Title : The House on the Edge of the Cliff
Pages : 448
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : May 16, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Grace first came to France a lifetime ago. Young and full of dreams of adventure, she met two very different men.

She fell under the spell of one. The other fell under hers.

Until one summer night shattered everything . . .

Now, Grace is living an idyllic life with her husband, sheltered from the world in a magnificent Provencal villa, perched atop a windswept cliff.

Every day she looks out over the sea – the only witness to that fateful night years ago.

Until a stranger arrives at the house. A stranger who knows everything, and won’t leave until he gets what he wants.

| EXTRACT |

Beyond gently billowing muslin curtains, the windows were open wide, exposing a waxing crescent moon hanging midway in the sky. It was a little after five in the morning, and I was awake. My head resting on Peter’s chest, I tuned in to his heartbeat. Its speed was alarming. In spite of his daily medication, it still beat disconcertingly fast. By com-parison, my ticker is an old plodder. I lifted myself to a sitting position. Peter was sleeping, sighing and moaning.

‘My darling, please get well.’

I have always been in the habit of rising early. When the house is silent, I slip out for a long walk and a swim, like a full-sail galleon scudding across a cloudless sky, leaving my cares behind me. But during these anxious days, these fretful days of waiting for Peter’s operation, once out of bed I dally, hang back before heading for the beach, watching over my husband until I feel secure about leaving him.

This early-May morning, my knees tight against his side of the bed frame, I gazed upon him. Peter, my beloved, swathed in a twisted, sweaty sheet. He was fight-ing for equilibrium. His heart had become his enemy, hammering furiously at him. It pained me to observe his suffering, his visible decline. I bent low to him, stroked his shoulders, reassuring him of my love, while taking care not to disturb him. I crouched, laid my cheek against the fleshy part of his upper arm, softly kissing it. I inhaled him, the night on him. The heat, the worry sweat. He claimed he was not apprehensive about what lay ahead, but I would have argued otherwise. I was witness to his unsettled dreams.

I am the spectator, tuning in to his restlessness.

Throughout his waking hours, I had begun to remark a new expression in Peter’s eyes. A fixed stare, glassy, as though his pupils had glazed over or been coated in a thin layer of varnish. This focus disguised his fear, blocked it out, blocked me out. Peter was pushing me away, which, according to his logic, was to protect me. He believed that he was sheltering me from his terror, or sheltering himself from my terror, my inability to confront the worst possible outcome: his death.

I dreaded losing my husband, his heart packing up without warning, ‘worn out by strain’, in the consultant’s ominous words. Snatched from me while he was sleeping or, when the appointed day arrived, while he was under sedation. A being submerged beneath the effects of medication who would never awaken.

I refused to compare it to the past, to the first time I had lost someone, a lover who never resurfaced, the years it had taken me to come to terms with it.

Had Peter made the connection, cast his mind back to 1968, ‘our first summer’ together at this house, our long, carefree days together on this beach? Until calamity had struck.

It had come as no surprise to me that Peter was diag-nosed with atrial or supraventricular tachycardia, SVT. He had lived his life at a supersonic pace, in the turbo lane. He had travelled ceaselessly, worked incessantly, handled and triumphed over high-profile legal cases, which had won him a coveted international reputation and the honour of a CBE. However, alongside the acknowledgements came high stress levels. His caring heart carried the burdens of those less fortunate, those whose liberties he fought for and won. In his juridical field, few reputations, if any, surpassed Peter Soames’s.

Long-haul flights were his norm, sometimes once or even twice a week. He was always out of bed by five thirty a.m. no matter when we had turned in the night before. Even after we had stayed up till two watching a movie, he had set his phone alarm for five. And then he’d switch it off and roll over for half an hour, indulging in his ‘lie-in’.

I longed for him to slow down. Some days I felt as though I’d never catch hold of him, never pull him by his shirt tails and draw him in slow motion back to me, begging, ‘Hey, what’s the rush? Bide time with me.’

I turned now from the bedside and pattered to the open window, leaning my elbows on the sill, mesmerized by the swallows dipping and circling above the pink-tinged beach. I loved this time of year, with the first stirrings of summer ahead. I loved this old cliff house built high into its scrubby hillside overlooking the Mediterranean. Heron Heights. Peter had inherited it, this rather splendidly eccentric sunlit villa, from his late aunt, an artist, Agnes Armstrong-Soames. Yes, the painter. The very same.

I loved the privacy, the isolation, the villa’s distance from the nearest town. Our lives here have become secluded, our world privileged. The environment has cocooned me, allowed me to feel safe, even from the past. My past. Our past. The tragedy that took place here too long ago to remember. Except that I do remember. I have never allowed myself to forget it, but I have forgiven myself. Forgiven myself for the foolish, brainless role I played in someone’s death.

Peter and I never talk about it, never allude to it. That long-ago midsummer night.

But what happened on that long-ago midsummer night? If you’re intrigued and you’d like to find out more, The House on the Edge of the Cliff is available to buy!

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Anglo-Irish actress Carol Drinkwater is perhaps still most familiar to audiences for her award-winning portrayal of Helen Herriot in the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small. A popular and acclaimed author and film-maker as well, Carol has published nineteen books for both the adult and young adult markets. She is currently at work on her twentieth title.

Tell Me Where You Are by Moira Forsyth | @sandstonepress | #blogtour

It’s a pleasure to host a stop on the blog tour for Tell Me Where You Are by Moira Forsyth today! My thanks to Julia Forster for the invitation to join and for the review copy!

!Author : Moira Forsyth
Title : Tell Me Where You Are
Pages : 344
Publisher : Sandstone Press
Publication date : May 15, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

The last thing Frances wants is a phone call from Alec, the husband who left her for her sister thirteen years ago. But Susan has disappeared, abandoning Alec and her daughter Kate, a surly teenager with an explosive secret. Reluctantly, Frances is drawn into her sister’s turbulent life.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Thirteen years ago, Frances’ husband Alec left her. Not just for anyone, but for her younger sister, Susan. Frances hasn’t been in touch with her sister since. Nobody in the family has. But now, a phone call from Alec upsets Frances’s perfectly peaceful life. Susan has gone missing.

The reader never gets to meet Susan but she doesn’t come across as a particularly likeable character. From an early age, she seemed to be the odd one out in a family with three daughters and caused her parents quite the headaches. Did that somewhat outrageous behaviour just carry on into adulthood? Is she just a selfish woman or does she suffer from mental issues?

None of that matters to one iota to Frances. What matters is Kate, Susan’s teenage daughter. With her mother gone and her stepfather too busy or unwilling to take care off her, she’s dumped at the home of her aunt Frances. With a family member missing, surely nothing else can go wrong! Plenty, as it turns out.

This is a story about a family thrown into turmoil. With multiple points-of-view throughout, the impact Susan has had, and now continues to have even though she’s disappeared, becomes incredibly clear. From her parents who wonder what went wrong; to her husband who who may just regret his decision; to a daughter, lost and confused.

Despite all the disruption Susan’s disappearance has caused, life goes on and somehow this family must find a way to come together through ups and downs. They are faced with difficult and realistic decisions and throughout it all, Frances really stood out for me. She may not always be sympathetic or tactful but she always tries to tackle problems head-on and do what’s best. Her ex-husband, on the other hand, I could quite happily have strangled.

Just like in real life, things aren’t wrapped up all pretty with a bow. There are some unanswered questions, tough decisions and no easy solutions. Throughout it all are believable characters you’ll sympathise with and root for. Tell Me Where You are is a delightful and warm story about a dysfunctional family navigating its way through life and its various roadblocks.

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Moira Forsyth grew up in Aberdeen, lived in England for nearly twenty years, and is now in the Highlands. She is the author of four previous novels and many short stories and poems published in anthologies and magazines. Waiting for Lindsay and David’s Sisters, originally published by Sceptre, are now available as e-books from Sandstone Press, which also published The Treacle Well in 2015.

The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen | @wordsofhelen @MichaelJBooks @sriya__v | #blogtour #guestpost

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen. My thanks to Sriya at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join! Author Helen Cullen visits my blog today to talk about the importance of music in her novel but first, here is what The Lost Letters of William Woolf is all about.

Author : Helen Cullen
Title : The Lost Letters of William Woolf
Pages : 416
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : May 2, 2019 (paperback)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Inside East London’s Dead Letters Depot, William Woolf unites lost mail with its intended recipient. White mice, a miniature grandfather clock and a full suit of armour are among the more unusual items lost then found thanks to William’s detective work.

But when he discovers a series of letters addressed only to ‘My Great Love’, everything changes. Written by Winter to a soulmate she hasn’t yet met, her heartfelt words stir William in ways he has long forgotten. Could they be destined for him? But what about his troubled marriage?

William must follow the clues in Winter’s letters to solve the mystery of his own heart.

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| GUEST POST |

The importance of music in The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen

One of the great joys of writing my debut novel, The Lost Letters of William Woolf, was undoubtedly creating the soundtrack to accompany the story. This curation of songs allowed me to indulge in the perfect intersection of my two great loves; music and literature. 

It was a moment of great revelation for me as I was developing each character when I realised who each of their favourite artists were; knowing what music they chose to listen to at pivotal moments in the narrative. Understanding, for example, that William Woolf was listening to The Smiths as he strolled through Dublin city made the whole scene crackle with life for me; I could place myself in the very heart of him. Understanding that Clare’s musical heroine was Kate Bush gave me insight into the longings she nursed in private; the artistic instincts that she was working hard to oppress. Discovering that Winter’s favourite band was The Cure reinforced in me her melancholic disposition, and how art could articulate sadness for her in a way that was restorative, uplifting and ultimately joyful. Situating the novel in the late 80s allowed me to revel in the music that I loved from that time.

Every day, before I began to write, I would choose a song to listen to that encapsulated for me the energy or the feeling of the scene I wanted to work on. Sinking into the music, the physical world around me would slip away, and I was able to cross the bridge from the reality of life to the imaginary world of the novel. It’s a practice I have continued now while writing my second novel.

The William Woolf playlist is an eclectic one; I would love to think that as readers follow the story, they might pause and look up the songs that are mentioned and play them as they read, to experience the music as the characters do, to activate their aural senses as their imaginations conjure the world before them. If they do, I hope they enjoy the musical rollercoaster and that it deepens their connection with the narrative. The playlist follows and you can listen to it on Spotify here. I hope you enjoy it! 

The Lost Letters of William Woolf Playlist

1. Chet Baker – Old Devil Moon 

2. David Bowie – Wild is The Wind 

3. Nina Simone – My baby just cares for me 

4. The Cure – Pictures of You 

5. Kate Bush – Hounds of Love 

6. Beethoven – Moonlight Piano Sonata

7. Culture Club – Karma Chameleon 

8. Sonny & Cher – I got you babe 

9. Madonna – Like A Prayer 

10. The Platters – The Great Pretender

11. Leonard Cohen – Suzanne 

12. George Michael – Careless Whisper

13. Michael Dees – What are you doing for the rest of your life?

14. The Undertones – Teenage Kicks

15. The Bangles – Eternal Flame

16. The Smiths – There is a Light and It Never Goes Out 

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

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.

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

Nobody’s Wife by Laura Pearson | @LauraPAuthor @AgoraBooksLDN @TheyCallMePeyto | #blogtour #NobodysWife

Delighted to join the blog tour for Nobody’s Wife by Laura Pearson today! My thanks to Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation to join and the wonderful review copy!

Author : Laura Pearson
Title : Nobody’s Wife
Pages : 267
Publisher : Agora Books
Publication date : March 28, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

‘Of the four of them, only three remained. And there was no going backwards from there.’ 

Emily and Josephine have always shared everything. They’re sisters, flatmates, and best friends. It’s the two of them against the world.

When Emily has the perfect wedding, and Josephine finds the perfect man, they know things will change forever. But nothing can prepare them for what, or who, one of them is willing to give up for love.

Four people. Three couples. Two sisters. One unforgivable betrayal.

| MY THOUGHTS |

I absolutely loved Laura Pearson’s debut Missing Pieces, even though it left me in bits. So I was quite eager to read Nobody’s Wife, wondering if I would once again be reaching for the tissues.

Sisters Emily and Josephine have always been close but their bond has only become stronger since their mother moved to the other side of the world. Now Emily is getting married and Josephine may have found “the one” as well. Naturally, changes are afoot as they both embark on a new adventure in their lives. But neither one is prepared for what happens next.

From the very beginning, Laura Pearson managed to draw me in with realistic and believable characters in relatable situations. While Emma has doubts and suffers from nerves on her wedding day, Josephine tries to figure out the sometimes complicated beginnings of a new relationship. But everything soon starts to fall apart.

It’s obvious from the prologue that something has happened that affects these characters’ lives and the what, how, why, who is slowly revealed throughout the storyline. Laura Pearson’s writing is extremely beautiful and the characters evoked quite a few emotions from me. I felt angry and frustrated at some of their decisions, saddened as well and I became completely caught up in their lives, feeling for everyone involved and having this sense of impending doom.

Nobody’s Wife is an emotional story of love, obsession and betrayal that has devastating consequences. Life often does not come wrapped up in a tiny little bow. In case you wondered, no, no tissues required this time around but I did have problems swallowing past the lump in my throat. Because no matter how I felt about these characters and their actions, or lack thereof, at times it seemed as if I was right there next to them, feeling their pain.

There seems to be something almost effortless about the way Laura Pearson writes. Everything flows quite naturally and it’s always touching and moving, without the distraction of bells and whistles, reaching down into your very core, leaving you wanting to hug those closest to you really tight and never let them go. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Nobody’s Wife will be available to buy on March 28th.

 Amazon US | Amazon UK

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Laura Pearson has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester. She spent a decade living in London and working as a copywriter and editor for QVC, Expedia, Net a Porter, EE, and The Ministry of Justice. Now, she lives in Leicestershire, where she writes novels, blogs about her experience of breast cancer (www.breastcancerandbaby.com), runs The Motherload Book Club, and tries to work out how to raise her two children.

Love Punked by Nia Lucas #BooksNia @rararesources #blogtour #LovePunked #YA #YoungAdult #guestpost

It’s a real pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Love Punked by Nia Lucas today! My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me along. Nia joins me on the blog today to share what she would tell her teenage self if she could. But first, here is what Love Punked is all about!

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Author : Nia Lucas
Title : Love Punked
Pages : 438
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : July 21, 2018

aboutthebook

When her life is irrevocably altered by a post-Rave tryst on her mother’s floral patio recliner, Erin Roberts’ long-standing relationship with Humiliation takes her down a path that’s not so much ‘less well trodden’, more ‘perilous descent down sheer cliffs’.

Armed with a fierce devotion to her best friend and the unrequited love for the boy she might have accidentally married at age seven, when Erin falls pregnant at sixteen, life veers off at a most unexpected tangent.

Her journey to adulthood is far from ordinary as Erin learns that protecting the hearts of those most precious to you isn’t balm enough when your Love Punked heart is as sore as your freshly tattooed arse.

Whilst raising football prodigies and trying not to get stuck in lifts with Social Work clients who hate her, Erin discovers that sometimes you have to circumnavigate the globe to find the very thing that was there all along.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

guestpost

One of the greatest things about writing, one of my absolute favourite parts of the luxurious creation of worlds and people who have only lived in your head until fingertip prods key, is the fact that parts of your own world can be woven secretly and seamlessly into the fabric of the thing you create. I love the ‘Secret Squirrel’ part of writing, dropping flakes of truth into the casserole of fiction, changing the flavour without anyone being able to put their finger on what exactly the ingredient was. I like to chuckle like a moron when the people who know me best raise an eyebrow and murmur, “Isn’t that bit about that time when you……?”. Simple pleasures. 

Yet this truth sprinkling brings with it reflection and on occasion, pain and sorrow for things gone by. It also brings smirks, snorts and eye-rolling embarrassment and on that note, I have some advice to share.

Lessons from a misspent 90’s youth: Things I wish I’d tell my teenage self.

  1. If you are in Clair’s Accessories, back away. Find the exit. Now. Coating yourself in pink, sparkly tat will not transform you into an ironic, Courtney Love-esque sophisticate. Nope. You will look like a tit. A tit in a cheap plastic tiara but a tit nonetheless. 
  1. That undercut and those baggy black jeans with the massive red pockets on your bum will not make you look cool. You will look like a follically-challenged baboon. 
  1. Instead of allocating two hours a day to experimenting with ‘Berry Spice’ lipstick on the off-chance that you will bump into the lads from the band ‘Jesus Jones’ in Swindon town centre, spend those hours on revising your German vocab. You will never meet ‘Jesus Jones’, they will disappear into obscurity but you will get stuck in a Prague Police station with some passive-aggressive officers a few years down the line and decent German might prevent that trip to the British Consulate at 2am. 
  1. Your figure is incredible. Genuinely incredible. Wear as many crop tops, bikinis and hotpants as you can. Stop worrying about your legs or your belly because in twenty years time, as you stare down the barrel of an ankle-to-neck Spanx bodysuit (into which you will become wedged and have to be wrestled out of by your inebriated best mate in truly tiny toilets), you will weep tears of bitter regret for the immaculate teenage figure that you never appreciated. Wear anything. You have the figure for it. Bloody babies will destroy it soon enough. 
  1. Be so, so careful girl. In an ill advised escapade, you meet two lads, two incredibly funny, damaged and dangerous boys, who lure you into a world you inhabit oh-so-briefly but one which you never forget. These boys disappear into the cogs of the Criminal Justice System, evaporating from your life like ghosts but it’s their haunting that leads you to write your first book twenty years later. Be careful. Be safe. Listen to the voice in your head because she’s pretty sound (although ignore all of her tips on clothing choices).  
  1. You were entirely right all along, your suspicions spot on. You really do never need to use vectors outside of Mrs. Spinks’ Maths classroom. Absolute waste of your time. Spend your time learning how to jump start a car instead. You will need those skills.
  1. You will never regret being voluntarily teetotal. Not once. You’ll be tested on this decision, innumerable times in the coming years but stay strong. You will be the girl who has the best nights out, whose sobriety inhibits her craziness not a jot and she remembers every bloody minute of it. Thanks to that lucidity, you will also be the girl with the most incredible blackmail material against your mates. Carry on.
  1. Don’t bother with the driving lessons. Spend the cash on that AMAZING lace dress with the coordinating UV bra and hotpants that you will eternally regret not buying. Driving lessons are a waste of your time until you are 21. Why? Because you are a complete and absolute liability on the road, you fail innumerable tests (one of which is failed because you crash into the Test Centre wall with the examiner screaming beside you) and you only get a clue a few years down the line. GET THE DRESS INSTEAD.
  1. That rave in Milton Keynes is a truly terrible idea. You end up in Leicester at 2am aged sixteen, you have no money, you get so close to being found out by your parents that even now, the memory makes you sweaty and you are lucky not to have ended up as a Crimewatch Special. DO NOT GO. You still owe that Policeman a box of chocolates by the way. 
  1. Love every bloody minute of being a teenager in the 90’s. There are these things now called Mobile Phones which are surgically attached to people’s hands. They have cameras built into them. Which people take on every night out. Can. You. Imagine. You will forever feel gratitude that you are an Xennial, whose misspent youth is undocumented. You’re safe. Well, you were……..in about 2016 you decide to start writing books…….you’d better watch yourself madam, nothing stays secret for long……..

[Some truly wonderful lessons to be learned there. I can definitely relate to the last one. I often think those of us who grew up before all the gadgets and social media were very, very lucky indeed. Thanks so much for this fab post, Nia, and good luck with Love Punked!]

abouttheauthor

I am a UK based author of Contemporary women’s fiction who is passionate about telling the stories of strong, sympathetic, entertaining and engaging female characters and the lives that they lead. My Welsh heritage and my life as a practising Social Worker with teenagers and their families heavily influences my work as does my love of all things 90’s and an adolescence spent immersed in clubbing culture.

Author links : BlogFacebook | InstagramTwitter

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Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty @MichaelJBooks #NinePerfectStrangers #NetGalley

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Author : Liane Moriarty
Title : Nine Perfect Strangers
Pages : 432
Publisher : Michael Joseph / Penguin UK
Publication date : October 4, 2018

aboutthebook

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

mythoughts

This may come as a bit of a surprise considering the genres I usually read but boy, do I love me some Liane Moriarty. I was very excited to hear she had a new book coming out and couldn’t wait to get stuck into it.

Nine Perfect Strangers is rather hard to put a label on. It’s contemporary fiction in the way Liane Moriarty does best, but there’s also a touch of the psychological thriller vibe to it and it had me hooked from the start.

That was mainly due to the fabulous character of Frances, whom I adored from the minute I met her. Frances used to be a bestselling romance author but now she’s lost her way a little bit. Suffering from a bad back, a broken heart, menopausal symptoms and an awful paper cut, she checks herself into Tranquillum House for some pampering and a ten day cleansing. But not even the imaginative Frances could possibly predict the challenges that lay ahead.

There are quite a few characters in this delightful story. On top of the nine guests, we also meet the owner and her staff. Each one of these characters is so brilliantly introduced that it never gets confusing at all, even with chapters switching back and forth between them. Some are likeable from the start, some take a little getting used to but each one comes across as highly realistic and believable.

The guests are there for very different reasons and some parts made me feel quite emotional. It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are some fantastically witty moments and retorts, which made this a highly entertaining and enjoyable read. Even though some of the events involving the owner may have gone slightly over the top, I was so engrossed that it didn’t bother me at all.

I loved Nine Perfect Strangers from the outset. It may not quite have turned out the way I expected it to but I had a fabulous time meeting these characters, sympathising with them, rooting for them and it all leads to a wonderful conclusion. I have no doubt this one will do well and I look forward immensely to whatever Liane Moriarty comes up with next.

My thanks to the publisher for my review copy, which I received via Netgalley!

Nine Perfect Strangers is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater #blogtour #bookreview #recommended #mustread

I’m beyond delighted to join the blog tour for The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech today! Massive thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my gorgeous (and embossed!) copy and to Anne Cater for inviting me to join the tour!

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Author : Louise Beech
Title : The Lion Tamer Who Lost
Pages : 323
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : September 20, 2018

aboutthebook

Long ago Andrew made a childhood wish. One he has always kept in a silver box with a too-big lid that falls off. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn’t…

Long ago Ben dreamed of going to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally goes there, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…

Ben and Andrew keep meeting where they least expect. Some collisions are by design, but are they for a reason? Ben’s father would disown him for his relationship with Andrew, so they must hide their love. Andrew is determined to make it work, but secrets from his past threaten to ruin everything.

Ben escapes to Zimbabwe to finally fulfil his lifelong ambition. But will he ever return to England? To Andrew? To the truth?

mythoughts

Good grief. I need a minute. Or a lie-down. Or maybe a few stiff drinks to get past this huge lump in my throat.

I don’t really consider myself a particularly emotional person (although I did once cry at a diaper commercial but that’s another story), yet somehow Louise Beech always manages to rip out my heart, stomp all over it and leave me a big, unattractive, blubbering mess.

We first meet Ben in the magnificent surroundings of Zimbabwe, where he’s volunteering at a lion sanctuary. It’s rather obvious from the start that Ben is trying to run away from something or someone but the what or the who is only teasingly revealed  and it took me a while to figure it all out. Back in England, we get to know Andrew. He’s a children’s author with a long outstanding wish. But when his wish comes true, he wishes it hadn’t. I’m not telling you any more than that. You need to just jump into this novel and be completely swept away.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a powerful, tragic and incredibly emotional love story. With realistic and believable characters that almost jump from the pages, I quickly found myself utterly invested in their lives. Their pain was my pain, their tears were my tears, their heartache was my heartache. What an incredible talent Louise Beech has to evoke all these emotions.

This beautifully written tale is not to be raced through or devoured. Every single word on every single page is to be savoured, to be cherished, to be felt deep down into your very core. It’s so hard to explain but it’s just … special. Original, compelling, emotive, exquisite and in case you weren’t able to tell, it left me lost for words but it is a gem of a book I will treasure forever.

This is the fourth book by Louise Beech I’ve read and I can never find the right words (or any words really) to do them any justice. She is the most amazing storyteller and if you’ve not yet read any of her novels, you’re doing yourself an extremely big disservice. Start with this one, work your way back. I promise you will thank me later! In the meantime, I will (im)patiently sit here and await whatever it is Louise Beech comes up with next because I just know it will be special once again.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Her third book, Maria in the Moon, was widely reviewed and critically acclaimed. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice.

Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

Author links : Twitter | Website

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