Challenge Participant


Friday, 11 January 2019

My Name is Anna by Lizzy Barber

Two women - desperate to unlock the truth. How far will they go to lay the past to rest? ANNA has been taught that virtue is the path to God. But on her eighteenth birthday she defies her Mamma's rules and visits Florida's biggest theme park. She has never been allowed to go - so why, when she arrives, does everything seem so familiar? And is there a connection to the mysterious letter she receives on the same day? ROSIE has grown up in the shadow of the missing sister she barely remembers, her family fractured by years of searching without leads. Now, on the fifteenth anniversary of her sister's disappearance, the media circus resumes in full flow, and Rosie vows to uncover the truth. But will she find the answer before it tears her family apart?
Publisher: Cornerstone
ISBN: 9781780899251 

When I started 'My Name is Anna' I was unsure if the book was for me. I found Anna to be a character that I couldn't relate to, with a mother who is obsessed with cleanliness and her faith. However when she escapes from  her mother's clutches and is taken on a trip to a theme park by her boyfriend for her eighteenth birthday I decided to continue and I am glad I did as I was introduced to Rosie and her family, seemingly a completely different family who have been touched by tragedy as they are 'marking' the anniversary of the disappearance of her sister when she was only one.

The book alternates between the two main female characters, Anna and Rosie, who each have their own issues and the book tackles a number of themes which are very relevant in today's world and are both hard hitting and thought provoking.
I really enjoyed this book and I recommend it all my blog readers who are looking for a book that stays with the reader long after the last page is turned!

Thank you to the publishers, Cornerstone, for inviting me to take part in the blog tour in return for an honest review.

Blog Tour - All the Lonely People by David Owen

All The Lonely People (Paperback)

Everyone tells Kat that her online personality - confident, funny, opinionated - isn't her true self. Kat knows otherwise. The internet is her only way to cope with a bad day, chat with friends who get all her references, make someone laugh. But when she becomes the target of an alt-right trolling campaign, she feels she has no option but to Escape, Delete, Disappear. 
With her social media shut down, her website erased, her entire online identity void, Kat feels she has cut away her very core: without her virtual self, who is she?
She brought it on herself. Or so Wesley keeps telling himself as he dismantles Kat's world. It's different, seeing one of his victims in real life and not inside a computer screen - but he's in too far to back out now.
As soon as Kat disappears from the online world, her physical body begins to fade and while everybody else forgets that she exists, Wesley realises he is the only one left who remembers her. Overcome by remorse for what he has done, Wesley resolves to stop her disappearing completely. It might just be the only way to save himself.
All the Lonely People is a timely story about online culture - both good and bad - that explores the experience of loneliness in a connected world, and the power of kindness and empathy over hatred.

When I was offered a place on the blog tour to celebrate the publication of 'All The Lonely People' I was really keen to take part. As a starting point, Sophia Walker (the publicist) asked me to think about if the internet has made my life better or if it has made it worse? 

My initial thoughts are that there are definitely some positives; my brother lives in Cardiff and has a young family who I don't get to see very regularly, however through Facebook I am able to watch them grow and see what they have been up to, allowing me to feel that I am not missing out on their lives. I am a book blogger and unfortunately I am unable to attend the blogger events or book launches that I am invited to, however through the internet I am able to be part of an online community and to talk to other bloggers, authors and publishers about books and the world of publishing.

 I am sure that there are things that have been negative since the introduction of the internet. I think that it has made impulse buying a lot easier - having Amazon at the click of a button or Next has made a shopping spree easy when I am in a slump of mood. Also the ability to see what others are doing on social media can mean that I can see what I am missing out on - e.g. missing out on celebrating with family or not being invited to join a group of friends on a night out.

I definitely think that the introduction of the internet and social media has been good for me because it has meant that I can take part in book blogging, living in Worcester and not being able to travel to London regularly, due to anxiety and panic, has meant that although I can't take a job in publishing, I am able to play a small part in book blogging, finding lots of new friends to share my love of books.

'All the Lonely People' is a great book which makes the reader think about how life has changed since the introduction of social media and the internet. The main character, Kat, lives her whole life online, with her own website and a high online presence with many followers, is the subject of cyber bullying and, as a quick fix, she decides to remove herself online. Kat is young, still at school, and  for her this is a big thing. However as she removes her online profile she finds that her body begins to fade and she is not visible to her peers. As time continues, Kat finds that there are other people who have faded from everyday life.

There is also a second character, Wesley, one of the boys who are responsible for the cyber bullying. However, after the final attack which saw Kat removing her online profile, he sees the error of his ways and tries to help Kat but is unable to find her.

All The Lonely People is a very cleverly written book and is both thought provoking and worrying with more and more people living their lives online. My one criticism of the book is that the story went straight into the final cyber bullying event and Kat's withdrawal of her online presence. I think that the story would of benefited from a little build up initially. It would be a great book to be used in secondary schools to promote the subject of cyber safety and also to allow students to consider their home life and their online presence.
Thank you to the publishers, Atom Books, for sending me the book to review in return for an honest review.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Only a Mother by Elisabeth Carpenter

Today I am pleased to be taking part in Orion's Blog Tour for the publication of 'Only a Mother' by Elisabeth Carpenter.

I have read Elisabeth Carpenter's previous two novels and have always enjoyed her writing style. Elisabeth has the perfect writing style  to write  a thriller, she engages with the reader from the very start and keeps them enthralled to the very end, building up the suspense as the story unfolds.

Only a Mother starts with Erica, the mother, awaiting Craig, her son's, release from prison following hte serving of a prison sentence for the sexual assault and killing a young girl. Craig has always protested his innocence, along with Erica, who still lives in teh area and has suffered at the hands of local residents.

Elisabeth Carpenter looks at the difficult subject of a mother's emotions after her child is accused, charged and sentenced for a serious crime. The evidence was stacked against Craig but Erica believes  that not the whole truth has been unearthed.

At the time of the incident a second girl was killed, similar but with marked differences, however Craig was not charged with this second murder.

Throughout the book, Erica goes through a range of emotions - her friends and neighbours ostracise her and she becomes the target as her home is attacked.

The book has two narratives, Erica and Luke, a local newspaper reporter who has grown up during the incident and he is also unsure that the real events have been discovered.

There is a third voice throughout the book - who it is is not revealed to the very end but it is evident that they know what really happened. 

'Only a Mother' really is a fantastic read. It is hard hitting, thought provoking and a book that really got me thinking about how crime and subsequent court cases affect the whole family, 

Elisabeth Carpenter writes a fantastic novel, one which keeps the reader hooked and manages to pack a punch at the end which is not seen coming. I can not wait for Elisabeth's next release to read more by this fantastic author.

Thank you to Orion Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Blog Blitz - The Memory by

I look down at her, lying fast asleep – always my little girl, and so beautiful. 

She gives a low moan as her head turns restlessly on the pillow. It reminds me of the soft growl of a cornered animal. Where is my poor child? What is she dreaming?

People always notice my daughter, Isobel. How could they not? Incredibly beautiful... until she speaks.

An unsettling, little-girl voice, exactly like a child’s, but from the mouth of a full-grown woman.

Izzie might look grown-up, but inside she’s trapped. Caught in the day it happened – the day that broke her from within.

I know why my daughter is the way she is. There’s nothing I could have done to save her... is there?

An unputdownable psychological thriller about families and secrets, perfect for fans of Gone Girl, Shalini Boland and Lisa Jewell.

Today I am pleased to be taking part in Bookouture's Blog Blitz for The Memory by Lucy Dawson.

There are some brilliant psychological thrillers on the book market at the moment and this is another good one, however I was a little unsettled by the added Ouija and dark occult featuring voodoo that was included (this is just a personal opinion as it is not a subject that I follow).

The story was well written and developed as the book progressed. The storyline took the reader towards an ending however secrets began to be revealed I realised that I was completely wrong and I sped through the remaining pages to get to the end!

Thank you to Bookouture for inviting me to take part in the Blog Blitz and a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

A Very Lucky Christmas by Lilac Hills

Things can't get worse for Daisy Jones... can they?

Christmas is meant to be the happiest time of year so why is absolutely everything going wrong for Daisy? Reeling from a bad breakup, moving back in with her parents and hounded by trouble at work she really shouldn’t be surprised when things go from bad to worse..and she ends up in A&E! Her great-grandmother persuaded her to plant a silver sixpence in the Christmas pud for luck but choking on the coin isn’t the ‘change’ she’d wished for. Yet when dashing Dr Noah Hartley saves the day things finally start to look up. With Christmas Day just around the corner Daisy’s determined to make her own luck...and hopefully bag herself a dishy doc in the process! 

A heart-warming Christmas romance perfect for fans of Holly Martin, Debbie Johnson and Daisy James

Today  I am pleased to welcome Lilac Hills to my blog to celebrate the publication of 'A Very Lucky Christmas'.

I really enjoyed this book - a great book to read in the build up to Christmas or over the Christmas period. I for one hope that my Christmas doesn't go through the rough ride that Daisy Jones does although it was a great read which I recommend to all my blog readers.

Lilac Mills has written a blog post to celebrate the publication and she tells me and my blog readers about her Christmases growing up.

I’m an only child.

My mother is an only child.

My father is an only child.

And my grandparents lived with us when I was growing up.

All this made for an older-person-centred childhood because, apart from my friends, of which I did have quite a few thankfully, I had no relatives my own age. Add my great-aunt and great-uncle, both of whom were older than my parents, into the mix at Christmas, and I had a really quiet festive season. My friends had their own families (usually with an assortment of people of their own age and of which I was absurdly jealous), so I usually had to amuse myself on Christmas Day. I remember seeing the four ladies squashed onto the three-seater sofa, my dad and grandad having grabbed an armchair each, all of them fast asleep after lunch. But woe betide me if I tried to change the channel on the TV and put on cartoons – each one of them would suddenly be awake and reaching for the sherry, and demanding I leave the Queen’s speech on because they “was watching that!”

As I was growing up, I was resentful that my parents had failed to provide me with a brother or sister. My sibling and I might well have hated each other, but at least we could have spent Christmas Day winding the other one up. 

Tormenting and annoying my brother or sister would have kept me occupied, or (and this was my favourite fairy tale) I may have actually been so devoted to them that I wanted to spend every waking minute in their company, the pair of us playing nicely together.

Instead, I had a grandpa who was as deaf as a post and who used to turn his hearing aids off when he couldn’t be bothered talking to anyone (quite often); a grandma who was also rather deaf yet refused to wear a hearing aid and insisted on speaking at the top of her voice (and don’t get me started on how loud she needed the TV to be turned up); a great-auntie and uncle (gran’s sister and brother-in-law) who had never had children and weren’t sure what to do with one or how to behave around one (I think they viewed me as some kind of alien being); and a frazzled mum and dad, who I constantly nagged at to play with me when all they wanted was to put their feet up and get stuck into the Quality Street chocolates, and not be whined at for refusing to play Mouse Trap.

At the time, I’m not sure I appreciated any of this, but on looking back, these intense family get-togethers have provided me with an endless source of material for the older characters in my stories, especially the women. Although I don’t base my characters on any one person in particular, I can see elements of my relatives peering out of the pages every now and again.

Take Gee-Gee in A Very Lucky Christmas, for instance. My own grannie was just as cantankerous when she was arguing with her sister (my great aunt) and my mum. And Flossie in Summer on the Turquoise Coast reminded me so much of her in the way she used to say what she was thinking without filtering her thoughts first. She used to cause me no end of embarrassment when I was growing up but now I look back on my memories of her with love. She was certainly one of a kind.

Then there was another of my great-aunts, Nelly. She was tiny with a really deep, gruff voice and a bring-it-on attitude. She was a nurse, and nothing fazed her. I used
to hear my gran sharing stories of what Nelly used to get up to, and Flossie most definitely has some of her zest for life in her character.

My mum says she can see herself in the main character’s mother in Sunshine at Cherry Tree Farm. I can’t see it myself, but my great-aunt is still alive (93! I hope I’ve got some of her genes) and she says the exact same thing. So it looks like I do incorporate bits of my family in my writing, even when I don’t think I do.

I have noticed I often tend to write eccentric, belligerent, and frequently demanding older ladies into my stories, and actually they are great fun to write. I feel I can let my hair down with them a bit and besides, our lives are multigenerational. Nearly all of us come into contact with people older than ourselves, often as part of our families, so why shouldn’t we include them in our novels?

My elderly relatives have made me what I am, have helped shaped me and left their marks on me. If nothing else, they taught me independence and resilience, and left me with a hope that one day I can be as weird and as wonderful as they are, if I’m lucky enough to live that long!

Thank you to Lilac Mills for joining me on my blog. I can definitely relate to Christmas's growing up where we were joined by older generations and their exploits throughout the Christmas period.

Thank you to both Canelo and Lilac Mills for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Twelve Days of Christmas - Overshare: Love, Laughs, Sexuality and Secrets by Rose Ellen Dix and Rosie Spaughton

Today I am really pleased to be taking part in Compulsive Reader's 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour. My stop on the tour is to promote 'Overshare' by Rose and Rosie.

Overshare: Love, Laughs, Sexuality and Secrets (Hardback)
Love, laughs, sexuality and secrets from LGBT superstar YouTube couple, Rose and Rosie.

Rose and Rosie are known for their candid and hilarious YouTube videos... but now they are taking oversharing to a whole new level. Discussing sexuality, revealing secrets and empowering others, Overshare is a book packed with Rose and Rosie's unique take on friendships, fame, mental health and LGBT issues.
As visibly out members of the LGBT community, they open up about their own experiences, both together and as individuals, and have written this book in the hope that it gives strength to those who have faced similar difficulties.
They are spreading a message of positivity and inclusivity, and want everyone to feel comfortable in their own skin, no matter what their sexuality.
Delve deep into the unfiltered highs and lows of Rose and Rosie's life: family relationships, secrets of a happy marriage, struggles with OCD and anxiety, finding love and navigating the world as a gay couple. Get ready to laugh, cry, cringe and Overshare.
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co 
ISBN: 9781409176411 

Overshare is one of those reads that I wasn't sure what to expect but I am so glad that I picked it up and read it! I saw lots of publicity around its launch and was really interested to see what it was all about.

I must admit I had never heard of Rose and Rosie before seeing this book but now I have been googling and watching their YouTube channel and have since seen that they are just as fabulous on screen as they are in print!

Overshare made me laugh, cry and also think more about how the world around us judge people and their relationships. It made me angry in places when Rose and Rosie talked about their childhood, their teenage years and the prejudices that they were faced with along the way. 

The book is a great read and it gives hope to all who are growing up unsure of their sexuality by letting them know there is someone for everyone and also support for all.

Thank you to Trapeze Books and Tracey Fenton, Compulsive Books, for inviting me to take part in the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour and for a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

A VIllage Affair by Julie Houston

Blog Tour poster 2.png

ARIA_Houston_ A Village Affair_E.jpgCassie Beresford has recently landed her dream job as deputy head at her local, idyllic village primary school, Little Acorns. So, the last thing she needs is her husband of twenty years being 'outed' at a village charity auction - he has been having an affair with one of her closest friends.

As if that weren't enough to cope with, Cassie suddenly finds herself catapulted into the head teacher position, and at the forefront of a fight to ward off developers determined to concrete over the beautiful landscape.
But through it all, the irresistible joy of her pupils, the reality of keeping her teenage children on the straight and narrow, her irrepressible family and friends, and the possibility of new love, mean what could have been the worst year ever, actually might be the best yet...
Julie Houston's novels are funny, wonderfully warm and completely addictive. Perfect for all fans of Gervaise Phinn, Katie Fforde and Jill Mansell.
Julie Houston's 'A Village Affair' is one of those reads that I love to loose myself in over a weekend. It has a cast of fantastic characters and is set in a lovely village which I would love to visit.
A Village Affair is a cosy read but Julie Houston has included some fantastic humour along the way which made me laugh out loud, a lot of which came from the Lithuanian Lollipop Lady and her broken English translations. 
I think that one of the things that I loved most about the book was all the school tales, it reminded me of my love for Enid Blyton's Malory Towers and St Clares as a child and my other love of Jack Sheffield's brilliant books. 
I very much look forward to reading more by Julie Houston and hope that she revisits the village again soon.

Thank you to Aria for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for a copy of the book in return for an honest review.