Q and A with Madeline Dyer #Captive

Today I am pleased to welcome back Madeline Dyer to discuss her new book, Captive. This is a collection of poems written while she was experiencing psychosis and OCD due to Autoimmune Basal Ganglia Encephalitis, a rare type of brain inflammation caused by the immune system attacking the brain. Madeline’s previous visit can be found here.

Captive cover

Captive

Title: Captive

Author: Madeline Dyer

Genre: Biography, poetry

Publisher: Ineja Press

Release Date: 14th Jan 2020

Q and A with Madeline Dyer

Hi Madeline. Welcome back to From Under the Duvet to discuss Captive, your poetry collection. You are best known as an author of YA dystopian novels, is poetry a new form of writing for you or did you do it before your illness?

I wrote a little poetry at university, but it’s predominantly a new form for me, and I didn’t intend to write poetry. The therapy writings that I did when suffering from this illness just happened to take this form when I found I needed a way to process what I was feeling, and I suddenly found myself drawn to poetry in a way that I hadn’t previously been. I began reading a lot of poetry collections—moving away from the novels I normally read—and I just became fascinated by the poem as a form.

As my brain inflammation worsened, I found I couldn’t write prose as I had been. I remember reading one of my manuscripts I’d been working on and thinking how it was like someone else had written it. I felt like a different person, one who didn’t know how to write novels, but I now knew how to write poetry. It really did just come to me, just like that. And I’m so glad it did, because writing poetry allowed me to hold onto my identity as a writer.

Captive is a collection of deeply personal poems about your experience of OCD and psychosis, and I feel privileged to have read them. How did you come to the decision to share them?

It was such a tough decision. On the one hand, these are hugely personal poems, and they make me really vulnerable to others. I’ve had a lot of criticism thrown at me in the last year, to do with my illness, and I wrote these poems with no intention of sharing them and giving others something else to use against me.

But then I did share a couple of the poems with a few friends. I can’t remember why I did, but their responses blew me away. They were so encouraging of me sharing these poems publicly and said it really helped them understand the psychological and psychiatric effects of my illness, and they felt that my poems were important to read.

I then talked with a few other people who also have the same type of brain inflammation that I have about the poems I’d written and how I was toying with the idea of publishing them, and they all thought it was a good idea and would help raise awareness. And that’s the goal with this collection: to raise awareness for neuropsychiatric illnesses, such as PANS and Autoimmune Basal Ganglia Encephalitis, especially when they’re rarely diagnosed and little is known about them.

What has the reaction been to them?

The reactions to my poetry collection have been amazing. People have been so supportive and understanding (a lot more than I expected!), while many early reviews paid particular attention to the haunting qualities many of the poems have. This makes me happy as it’s the haunting effects of the illness that I really want to get across.

Who is your favourite poet?

Christina Rossetti.

And your favourite poem?

“Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti.

Autoimmune Basal Ganglia Encephalitis is a rare condition. How are you feeling now?

I’m still awaiting a long-term treatment option, and I’m still suffering with the ongoing effects of the brain inflammation, both neurological and psychiatric. It’s a lot of waiting around, and that can be very distressing and disheartening at times, but I’m in a better place than I was a year ago. I know what’s going on—even if I haven’t got all the answers right now—and I am able to write fiction again, which is a relief.

Your illness affected your love of reading and books as discussed in your blog here. As a reader and writer that must have been difficult to deal with. How is it now?

I am reading again! Admittedly, I still don’t feel quite as comfortable touching physical books as I used to—the brain inflammation gave me contamination OCD and made me throw out most of my books last year as I thought they were all contaminated. I am slowly acquiring new books though, but I still prefer to read on my e-reader, as it feels ‘cleaner’. I’m not sure whether I’ll ever be a huge paperback fan again, which does make me sad. But at least I’m reading again. That’s the important thing.

What was the first book you read when you could?

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus. It was the first paperback book I touched and read too, during the initial stages of my treatment and the start of recovery.

What is the last book you read?

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas. It’s so dark and chilling!

Is there anything you would like people to know about dealing with neuro-psychiatric illness?

That it’s not a choice. Often, people suffering from these illnesses exhibit widely different behaviours, but this is due to our brains being inflamed. We’re not in control of many of our emotions, and it can be difficult for others to understand this and be empathetic.

It’s also a long-term illness in most cases and there’s no quick cure or even any sort of treatment that is guaranteed to be 100% effective. This is a long-term condition, and most of us won’t make a full recovery super quickly. I’ve encountered a few people who seem surprised that I’m “still unwell”, but that’s just the nature of it. It’s been over a year now, and at the moment, I’m at a bit of a standstill as I wait for doctors and specialists to come up with a long-term treatment plan.

Thank you for sharing and good luck with everything.

Thank you!

Author Biography

Madeline Dyer photo

Madeline Dyer

Madeline Dyer lives in the southwest of England, and holds a BA honours degree in English from the University of Exeter. She has a strong love for anything dystopian, ghostly, or paranormal, and can frequently be found exploring wild places. At least one notebook is known to follow her wherever she goes. Her debut novel, Untamed (Prizm Books, May 2015), examines a world in which anyone who has negative emotions is hunted down, and a culture where addiction is encouraged.

Social Media links:
Watch out for my review for Captive tomorrow.
Happy reading!
Love

Q and A: C.R Berry and his Book Million Eyes

Happy New Year! I hope you have a good one with plenty of good books to read.

For  this decades first post I am excited to share something different – C.R Berry has visited to talk about his exciting new book Million Eyes but first here is the information about this exciting sci-fi, conspiracy novel.

Million Eyes Cover Large

Million Eyes

Title: Million Eyes

Author: C.R Berry

Publisher:

Genre: Sci-fi, conspiracy

Blurb for Million Eyes

How do you fight an enemy who has a million eyes?

What if we’re living in an alternate timeline? What if the car crash that killed Princess Diana, the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, and the shooting of King William II weren’t supposed to happen?

Ex-history teacher Gregory Ferro finds evidence that a cabal of time travellers is responsible for several key events in our history. These events all seem to hinge on a dry textbook published in 1995, referenced in a history book written in 1977 and mentioned in a letter to Edward III in 1348.

Ferro teams up with down-on-her-luck graduate Jennifer Larson to get to the truth and discover the relevance of a book that seems to defy the arrow of time. But the time travellers are watching closely. Soon the duo are targeted by assassins willing to rewrite history to bury them.

Million Eyes is a fast-paced conspiracy thriller about power, corruption and destiny.

Purchase Links

http://bit.ly/Million-Eyes

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Million-Eyes-C-R-Berry-ebook/dp/B082QNFPFN

https://www.amazon.com/Million-Eyes-C-R-Berry-ebook/dp/B082QNFPFN

Q and A with C.R Berry

  • Hi C.R Berry. Welcome to From Under the Duvet. Can you tell me a bit about Million Eyes and the world you’ve created for it?

It’s a sci-fi conspiracy thriller set in a world where time travel has been invented (secretly) by a huge global conglomerate called Million Eyes. It’s also a world where many of the conspiracy theories you’ve heard about are true and involved Million Eyes in some way. So, Princess Diana’s death, the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, the replacement of Paul McCartney and Queen Elizabeth I with lookalikes (among many others) all happened because of Million Eyes.

  • So you cover all those conspiracy theories in the novel?

Not all of them. Princess Diana’s death and the Princes in the Tower are in the novel. The conspiracy theories about Paul McCartney and Queen Elizabeth I actually feature in the Million Eyes short stories, which have been published separately by Elsewhen Press as a collection, Million Eyes: Extra Time. It’s free to download in all ebook formats and offers readers an initial insight into the Million Eyes world and its time-travelling villains. This came out in October 2019.

Also, Million Eyes is the first in a trilogy. So there are more conspiracy theories to come in the next two books!

  • As Million Eyes has time travel in it, are you aiming it at sci-fi fans?

Not exclusively, no. I know people who’ve enjoyed Million Eyes who don’t like sci-fi at all. I don’t think the time travel is alienating for people who aren’t into that. I’m hoping it’ll be a bit like Game of Thrones was for non-fantasy fans. GOT had such wide appeal, probably because it told the story through the eyes of normal people with real problems. Million Eyes does the same thing.

  • Are there other authors whose work Million Eyes could be compared to?

I think Million Eyes shares a lot of similarities with Library of the Dead by Glenn Cooper. That was a conspiracy thriller that incorporated real historical events and had an element of fantasy to it. I also think if you’re a fan of Dan Brown, Doctor Who or the TV series 24 (which had a lot of conspiracy thriller elements), you’ll like Million Eyes.

  • Why did you write Million Eyes and what gave you the idea?

Million Eyes came about by meshing together three loves of mine: conspiracy theories, time travel and history. There were three events in history riddled by mystery and conspiracy theory that I wanted to tie together. The probably-not-accidental shooting of King William II in the New Forest, the still-unexplained disappearance of the Princes in the Tower (both of which I learned about at school), and Princess Diana’s car crash, one of the most shocking things to happen while I was growing up.

Inspired in part by a short-lived TV series called Dark Skies, which took real American history and ‘explained what really happened’, I wanted to take these three events in British history and do the same. And since the three events were approximately five hundred years apart, there was really only one way to do that—time travel!

  • Tell us a bit about your main characters, Gregory Ferro and Jennifer Larson.

Ferro’s in his 50s, has a wife and two kids and used to be a history teacher. An incident at his school led him to give up teaching and write history books. He wants to do his best by his family but he’s fiercely dedicated to his work and doesn’t always get his priorities right. This becomes a problem when he starts finding evidence that time travellers were behind the death of William II.

Jennifer’s in her 20s, fresh out of uni, and is working in a call centre because she’s not sure what to do next. She’s hot-headed and she doesn’t always think before she speaks, which sometimes lands her in hot water. She loves history as much as Ferro and, when she learns about his theories, can’t resist reaching out to him.

  • I understand Jennifer’s a lesbian. How common is it to have a gay female protagonist in these kinds of stories?

I’m sure there are some but it’s not common. I don’t think there are enough LGBTQ protagonists full stop. But I should note that Jennifer’s sexuality is really not relevant to her story. She just happens to be gay. It’s normal and it’s a non-issue, which was exactly the point.

I did make an effort to include as many female characters as possible and that’s not just because I enjoy writing women. Nearly all the sci-fi/fantasy/conspiracy books I’ve read have failed the Bechdel Test because women are so thin on the ground. With Million Eyes, I was determined not only that the book would pass the Bechdel Test, but would also contain such an abundance of female characters there could be no question of under representation.

  • Where does your interest in time travel come from?

Star Trek, Doctor Who, Back to the Future, Somewhere in Time, The Butterfly Effect, Looper, Lost… I could go on! I just love the idea of being able to go back in time and see first-hand how things were, or go forwards and see how things might turn out. If it were possible, I’d be a time traveller myself!

  • When is Million Eyes available and where can readers get their hands on it?

Million Eyes is available now from Elsewhen Press in ebook formats. It can be purchased for £2.99 RRP from Apple, Amazon and other eBook platforms. On March 9th, it will be released as a paperback and be available to buy for £9.99 RRP from bookshops and online. I’ll be hosting several book launch events around the time of the paperback release. The first will take place at Waterstones in Farnham on Friday 13th March (Yes, I know—Friday the 13th! It’s a conspiracy!)

Author Biography

Million Eyes Author

C.R Berry

C.R. Berry caught the writing bug at the tender age of four and has never recovered. His earliest stories were filled with witches, monsters, evil headteachers, Disney characters and the occasional Dalek. He realised pretty quickly that his favourite characters were usually the villains. He wonders if that’s what led him to become a criminal lawyer. It’s certainly why he’s taken to writing conspiracy thrillers, where the baddies are numerous and everywhere.

After a few years getting a more rounded view of human nature’s darker side, he quit lawyering and turned to writing full-time. He now works as a freelance copywriter and novelist and blogs about conspiracy theories, time travel and otherworldly weirdness.

He was shortlisted in the 2018 Grindstone Literary International Novel Competition and has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Storgy, Dark Tales, Theme of Absence and Suspense Magazine. He was also shortlisted in the Aeon Award Contest, highly commended by Writers’ Forum, and won second prize in the inaugural To Hull and Back Humorous Short Story Competition.

He grew up in Farnborough, Hampshire, a town he says has as much character as a broccoli. He’s since moved to the “much more interesting and charming” Haslemere in Surrey.

Social Media Links –

Website: https://crberryauthor.wordpress.com

http://millioneyes.co.uk/

https://gregoryferro.home.blog/

https://twitter.com/CRBerry1

https://www.facebook.com/CRBerry1/

Thank you for coming and talking about your book. As a huge fan of Glenn Cooper’s Library of the Dead, it has been added to my TBR and I look forward to hearing more about your series in the future. Good luck with your book launches.

Happy reading!

Love

Book Review: Snowflakes Over Moondance Cottage by Rosie Green

This is the first book I have read from Rosie Green and I am pleased to share my review for her festive novel Snowflakes Over Moondance Cottage.

Book Review: Snowflakes Over Moondance Cottage by Rosie Green

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Snowflakes Over Moondance Cottage

Title: Snowflakes Over Moondance Cottage

Author: Rosie Green

Genre: Festive Romance

Blurb:

When Jess Thornton’s dad was lost at sea, the family coped in different ways, alone in their grief. Now, her mum seems to be going off the rails and her sister, Isla, who moved to France, is now back and determined to get their old family home on the market. But the last thing Jess wants this Christmas is for renovations to start on the house. It’s sure to stir up all sorts of memories she’s desperate to avoid. And to make things worse, Isla appears to have hired the most obnoxious builder in the world to do the work. Jess could ignore the fact that women seem to be putty in his hands. But what she finds harder to ignore is the frisson she gets every time she squeezes past him in the mess that is now their beloved old home! Can the family finally start talking and find a way to move on from the past this Christmas?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Snowflakes-over-Moondance-Cottage-sparkling-ebook/dp/B07XGDZ4Z2

US – https://www.amazon.com/Snowflakes-over-Moondance-Cottage-sparkling-ebook/dp/B07XGDZ4Z2

My Thoughts

This novel follows grieving Jess, whose father is assumed dead after a boating accident. She was easy to connect to so I slipped into the story early on. Her quiet, settled life is turned upside down with the arrival of Seb,the hunky builder and the bombshell her sister wants to sell the family home. His description and personality made it easy to see why Jess would be attracted to him. The chemistry between them made me want to continue reading after bedtime.

Isla is the opposite to Jess in many ways making the dynamics between the siblings interesting and adds to the tension as her mum’s struggle with her mental health after losing her husband. The marital relationship is slightly complicated because they both have new partners but it works well with the plot. It is an enjoyable and emotional read with the right balance of Christmas traditions to make you feel warm and Christmassy.

The descriptions of glass blowing the baubles makes me appreciate those on my tree more than usual. It was fascinating to read about.

Would I recommend?

Yes. It is a lovely story with a satisfying conclusion, ideal to read in the run up to Christmas. I love the authors style and characters so I look forward to reading more of hers in the future.

Author Biography

Rosie Green Author Pic

Rosie Green

Rosie has been scribbling stories ever since she was little.

Back then, they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’.

Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all – unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

Rosie’s brand new series of novellas is centred around life in a village cafe. The latest, ‘Bonfires & Hot Chocolate at the Little Duck Pond Cafe’, is out now.

Watch out for ‘A Winter Wedding at the Little Duck Pond Cafe’, which will be published Christmas 2019.

Follow Rosie on Twitter – https://twitter.com/Rosie_Green1988

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to the tour and giving me an advanced copy so I could give an honest and unbiased review. If you would like to know more about this book and author, why not visit other blogs on this tour.

Love

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Book Review: Eve’s Christmas by Julie Butterfield

Several Advent calendar windows have been opened and I have already eaten the chocolate oranges I had put away for Christmas day. I haven’t written my Christmas cards and I am not organised for the big day which fits nicely with today’s book, Eve’s Christmas by Julie Butterfield. Scroll down to see my review for a novel about searching for the perfect Christmas.

Book Review: Eve’s Christmas by Julie Butterfield

ECFront

Eve’s Christmas

Blurb

Working for a department store where Christmas arrives in August, Eve prefers her own festivities to be low key with nothing more complicated than an oven ready turkey and frozen peas while she spends the day in her pyjamas. Unfortunately, this year her husband has invited his best friend to visit, the glamorous and sophisticated Abby, and Eve reluctantly decides that she needs to inject a little sparkle into their laid back and slightly shabby Christmas. So the celebrations are upgraded to include champagne and canapes along with homemade gravy and organic turkey and plans are made for a Christmas that looks as though it has emerged from the pages of a glossy magazine.

But even the best laid plans can go wrong and as Eve struggles with her mini Yorkshire puddings and an interfering cat, she is suddenly faced with an unexpected guest and an explosive secret that threatens to put her vision of a perfect Christmas in jeopardy.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eves-Christmas-delightful-following-perfection-ebook/dp/B07ZMHMFBR

US – https://www.amazon.com/Eves-Christmas-delightful-following-perfection-ebook/dp/B07ZMHMFBR

My Thoughts

Eve is determined to have a perfect Christmas when her husband’s best friend announces she is coming for twelve days. Project Christmas begins with detailed planners,umpteen magazines promising the method to achieve the ideal one. From experience, I know it is easy to get swept up with the tips, ideas and dreams leading to exhaustion and disappointment when attempts at cooking resemble something from the disaster photos on Great British Bake Off Extra Slice rather than the winning showpiece. I could relate to Eve’s ambition and she does not hold back. Retail therapy is taken to its limits which made me gulp and her passion can only be admired as she creates complex recipes designed to impress. Her enthusiasm for the preparation was exhausting to read, never mind do and I was relieved to have a more relaxed approach nowadays. It highlights the juggle between family life, work, chores and relationships in the festive period. Once I met Abby, I wanted to shake Eve to get a grip and yell at her husband to open his eyes about the truth of his best friend. It is an enjoyable and entertaining read as well as a reminder to enjoy the time of year with people you love rather than chasing the illusion.

Author Biography

Julie Butterfield belongs to the rather large group of ‘always wanted to write’ authors who finally found the time to sit down and put pen to paper – or rather fingers to keyboard.
She wrote her first book purely for pleasure and was very surprised to discover that so many people enjoyed the story and wanted more, so she decided to carry on writing.
It has to be pointed out that her first novel, ‘Did I Mention I Won The Lottery’ is a complete work of fiction and she did not, in fact, receive millions in her bank account and forget to mention it to her husband – even though he still asks her every day if she has anything to tell him!

Social Media Links

@juliebeewriter

www.Juliebutterfield.co.uk

Giveaway to Win a Paperback copy of Eve’s Christmas (UK Only)

Click here to enter this giveaway

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on this book blitz and allowing me to read an advanced copy to give an honest and unbiased review.

Love

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Book Review: Awa and the Dreamrealm – Dreamweavers Book 1

Today I am pleased to share a review for something different – the first book in the Dreamweaver series, Awa and the Dreamrealm by Isa Pearl Ritchie. It is a novel for children and young teens.

Book Review: Awa and the Dreamrealm.

Awa and the Dreamrealm Cover

Title: Awa and the Dreamrealm ( Dreamweavers Book 1)

Author: Isa Pearl Ritchie
Publisher: Te Ra Aroha Press

Genre: Children and young teen fiction

Release date: 23rd Oct 2019

Blurb

What if dreams are more real than waking life?

Life is already complicated enough for Awa Bryant when she starts having weird dreams – waking dreams – and strange coincidences start appearing in her real life.

She meets dreamcharmer, Veila, a quirky glowing creature who helps to guide Awa through the mysterious Dreamrealm.

At first the Dreamrealm is a glorious escape from Awa’s daily struggles but something is not right… Soon Awa discovers she has a bigger quest, and everything she cares about is at stake. Will she be brave enough to face her fears and save her friends?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07XFHSB9R

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XFHSB9R

My Thoughts

The blurb caught my attention because I have always had lucid dreams and I was intrigued how the author would entwine this idea into fiction. As the title suggests the novel has a surreal dream like quality to it in many places making it an unusual read.

Awa arrives at a new school following parents divorce and a run in with the school bully adds to her anxiety, triggering nightmares. Reality and her dreams collide but she is guided by the dreamcharmer, Veila on a journey which reminded me of guided meditation and relaxation techniques. As anxiety is increasing in young people, I feel this  story could be a good way to introduce the ideas to them. The theme running through the novel is to trust your intuition and self when facing adversity.

It deals with many issues facing young readers including racism, bullying, divorce, moving and friendship changes in a sensitive and imaginative manner. The interesting concept and character kept me reading and I am curious to see how the story will unfold in the next book in the series.

Would I recommend?

As a mum, I would have given this book to my daughter to read in her preparation to go to secondary school. The topics are age appropriate and much needed but more than that it is a lovely read.

About the Author

Isa Pearl Ritchie

Isa Pearl Ritchie

Isa Pearl Ritchie is a New Zealand writer. As a child, she loved creating imaginary worlds. She has completed a PhD on food sovereignty in Aotearoa. Her second novel, Fishing for Māui, was selected as one of the top books of 2018 in the New Zealand Listener and was a finalist in the NZ Booklovers Award for Best Adult Fiction Book 2019. Awa and the Dreamrealm is her first book for young people.

www.isaritchie.com

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/isapearlritchie/

https://twitter.com/isapearlritchie

https://www.instagram.com/isapearlritchie/

Giveaway to Win 1 x kindle copy of Awa and the Dreamrealm (INT)

Click here to enter the giveaway

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and the opportunity to read an advanced copy to review.

Love

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Book Review:A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan

December is here and I begin the month with a review for A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan. It has become my tradition to indulge in a Sarah Morgan book in the the run up to Christmas because they are usually guaranteed to be a wonderful treat. Scroll down to see if this year’s tale follows the same trend.

Book Review:A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan

Sarah Morgan Wedding in Decenber

Wedding in December

Title: A Wedding in December

Author: Sarah Morgan

Publisher: HQ

Genre: Christmas Romance

Release Date: 31st October 2019

Blurb

In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie’s whirlwind Christmas wedding.

First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret about their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.

Rosie’s older sister Katie is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself. If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with her plans…

Bride-to-be Rosie loves her fiance but is having serious second thoughts. Except everyone has arrived – how can she tell them she’s not sure? As the big day gets closer, and emotions run even higher, this is one White family Christmas none of them will ever forget.

My Thoughts

This festive romance follows Rosie as she prepares to marry Dan after a whirlwind romance, her workaholic sister, Katie, and her mum, Maggie. It is told in 3 points of view which works well as all the characters have different personalities, are believable and have different conflicts to deal with. Rosie has her wedding doubts, Katie has problems at work while Maggie is preparing for her divorce. I felt there was a bias towards it being Maggie’s story rather than Rosie’s but this suited me because she was the character I could most relate to. It is a study of the different stages of love and relationships as well as family bonds.

The stunning setting gives you everything you need in a Christmas novel – snow, mountains and trees  making it an ideal festive read. It is easy to visualise and imagine you are there. If Snowfall Lodge in Aspen was a real place it would be on my wish list of places to visit with the idyllic tree houses, sleigh rides and roaring fires.

It’s fun and emotional in places which is perfect to read in the light of the Christmas tree drinking hot chocolate.

Would I recommend?

Yes. Sarah Morgan has the knack of producing a book that always gives the reader characters to love and a journey to entertain. This novel sends you to the winter wonderland to relax in without leaving your duvet. It is happily sitting on my forever shelf to read next year.

Thank you HQ for inviting me to this tour and the opportunity to read an advanced copy for an honest and unbiased review.

Love

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Book Review: Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

After falling in love with Lucy Coleman’s previous book Summer on the Italian Lakes, I was excited to be invited to the blog tour for Magic Under the Mistletoe. Carry on reading for my thoughts and the chance to enter a wonderful giveaway.

Book Review: Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

ARIA_Coleman_MAGIC UNDER THE MISTLETOE_E

Magic Under the Mistletoe

Title: Magic Under the Mistletoe

Author: Lucy Coleman

Publisher: Aria

Genre: Festive, Romance

Release Date: 30th September 2019

Blurb

Christmas and romance are in the air…

It’s December 23rd and while everyone else is rushing home for the holidays, workaholic Leesa Oliver is dreading switching on her out-of-office for the festive season. And it seems her equally driven boss, Cary Anderson, isn’t relishing spending Christmas at his family’s country estate either.

So together, they draft an unexpected Christmas contract: They’ll spend half of the holidays with each other’s families, pretending to be a couple. Leesa knows the insufferably good-looking Cary will make her Christmas more bearable, but what happens after the last of the mince pies have been eaten…?

Leesa signed off on a sensible business agreement, but somewhere, amongst the fairy lights and carols something seems to have changed… It seems there might just be some magic under the mistletoe this Christmas!

Purchase Link – http://smarturl.it/MagicUnderMistletoe

My Thoughts

This is another Christmas themed book with an unusual premise which makes it memorable against the others. While most books have the premise of boy meets girl and fall in love under the mistletoe, the relationship between Leesa and Nate is one of convenience and allows them to have a partner when needed without commitments to prevent meddling from family and friends. This adds to the tension between them as they become closer and makes you keep turning the page.

Leesa is intelligent, driven and independent and despite his workaholic and aloof tendencies I was instantly attracted to Nate. As with her other book, Lucy Coleman adds depth to the characters and plot which increases the connection with the characters and makes you love them more as their backstories are revealed. Tissues are required as unexpected secrets are told which are handled sensitively.

The descriptions of Nate’s Grandmother’s home is detailed which immersed me in the festive spirit as it is everything I long my house to be. Within the first few chapters, I was hooked. Lucy Coleman has a talent for creating characters who feel real and Cressida is no exception. She came across as a warm, friendly, driven Danielle Steele like personality. As the queen of romance novels she dreams of seeing her grandson, Nate settled. Her intentions are good and is someone I would love to have a cup of tea with.

I felt the ending was rushed compared to the pace of the rest of the novel. It was suddenly over leaving some minor threads unresolved. The strength of writing, characters and plot means this does not affect Magic Under the Mistletoe being a wonderful book.

Would I recommend?

Yes! I love the author’s style and ability to transport the reader into the setting which is ideal for a festive read. You can see the decor, smell the festive aromas and taste the food. Despite my misgivings about the end it is a strong, enjoyable book which I will reread next year. I have already read it twice so definitely has a spot on my forever shelf.

Author Biography

Magic Author Photo

Lucy Coleman

From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus) and Harper Impulse (Harper Collins); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. She writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Social Media Links –

Website: https://linnbhalton.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LinnBHaltonAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucyColemanAuth https://twitter.com/LinnBHalton

Giveaway to Win a Signed paperback copy of Snowflakes over Holly Cove and Christmas Pamper Pack. (UK only)

Mistletoe prize Rachel

Prizes to be won

For a chance to win these wonderful goodies Enter here

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources and Aria for the chance to read an advanced copy of this festive treat to review.

What are you reading? Let me know below.

Happy Reading!

Love

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*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Book Review: Daisy’s Christmas Gift Shop by Hannah Pearl

December is only days away; are you ready? I am eager to get our decorations up and celebrate the season thanks to the pile of festive novels I have read recently. Today’s book, Daisy’s Christmas Gift Shop by Hannah Pearl  has a festive theme but is different to my expectations. Read on to find out more.

Book Review: Daisy’s Christmas Gift Shop by Hannah Pearl

Daisys Cover

Daisy’s Christmas Gift Shop

Title: Daisy’s Christmas Gift Shop

Author: Hannah Pearl

Genre: Festive Romance, Woman’s fiction

Publisher: Ruby Fiction

Release Date: 29th October 2019

Blurb

Struggling to find the perfect Christmas gift? Step into Romantic Daze …

Daisy Kirk is a sucker for a love story, which is why she opened up her gift shop – because there’s nothing that makes Daisy happier than when she’s helped a customer achieve their own ‘happily ever after’ by finding the perfect Christmas gift for their loved one. And she absolutely does not just sell ‘soppy presents and frilly pants’ as her brother’s infuriating best friend, Eli, is so fond of suggesting.

The sad fact is that whilst Daisy is helping others with their love lives, hers is non-existent. But when unusual circumstances take Daisy and Eli on a road trip from London to rural Wales, will she finally get the happily ever after to her own Christmas love story?

Buying Links:

Kindle UK: https://amzn.to/2kdCgNf
Kindle US: https://amzn.to/2lNhpR0
Apple Books: https://apple.co/2kdtGOu
Nook: https://bit.ly/2jUJghL

My Thoughts

I thought I knew what I was about to read when I read the blurb but I was wrong. It is an entertaining  novel based around Daisy’s shop, Romantic Daze, in the run up to Christmas like I expected but it is also so much more. An unexpected twist sends the usual romance of “will the main characters get together?” into a different direction adding  thrill, suspense and adventure into the mix making this a quirky book to remember.

Daisy’s shop is adorable and I love the idea of a unique shop sourcing specialised and bespoke gifts to show someone you care. The description brings it alive and I long to visit. Daisy is relatable but the characters around her to steal the show especially Lily and Ben. Lily is vibrant, fun and adventurous and in contrast to Daisy’s shop of romance hers sells sexy lingerie and sex toys. They complement each other well.  Ben, Daisy’s brother,  is a likeable genius whose quirks and outlook suggests he is on the autistic spectrum. As the plot unfolds he becomes more than a side character and I enjoyed that he was integral to the story.

It is a tale about family, romance, complex reactions to grief and, of course, Christmas.

Would I recommend?

Yes. I have previously read Hannah Pearl’s debut novel It’s My Birthday and I was impressed by her writing style. This book is a refreshing Christmas read and is perfect for curling up under the duvet with a hot chocolate.

Author Biography

Hannah Pearl Author Photo

Hannah Pearl

  

Hannah Pearl was born in East London. She is married with two children and now lives in Cambridge.

She has previously worked as a Criminology researcher, as a Development Worker with various charities and even pulled a few pints in her time.

In 2015 she was struck down by labrynthitis, which left her feeling dizzy and virtually housebound. She has since been diagnosed with ME. Reading has allowed Hannah to escape from the reality of feeling ill. She read upwards of three hundred books during the first year of her illness. When her burgeoning eReader addiction grew to be too expensive, she decided to have a go at writing. In 2017 she won Simon and Schuster’s Books and the City #heatseeker short story competition, in partnership with Heat magazine, for her short story The Last Good Day.

Hannah is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association.

Blog – dizzygirlwrites.wordpress.com 

Twitter – https://twitter.com/HannahPearl_1

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this blog tour and the advanced copy to review.

Happy reading!

Love

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Frankie: The Woman Who Saved Millions from Thalidomide by James Essinger and Sandra Koutzenco

I am pleased to be part of a blog tour and share with you a book that is on my TBR list Frankie: The Woman Who Saved Millions from Thalidomide by James Essinger and Sandra Koutzenco. Thalidomide caused havoc to many lives and I always assumed it affected many countries so to read a blurb saying this wasn’t the case is fascinating.

Frankie: The Woman Who Saved Millions from Thalidomide by James Essinger and Sandra Koutzenco

Frankie Cover

Title: Frankie: The Woman Who Saved Millions from Thalidomide

Author: James Essinger and Sandra Koutzenco

Genre: History, Medicine, Non-fiction

Publisher: The History Press

Release Date: 28 Jun. 2019

Blurb

Thalidomide: patented in Germany as a non-toxic cure-all for sleeplessness and morning sickness. A wonder drug with no side-effects.

We know differently now.

Today, thalidomide is a byword for tragedy and drug reform – a sign of what happens when things aren’t done ‘the right way’. But when it was released in the 1950s, it was the best thing since penicillin – something that doctors were encouraged to prescribe to all of their patients. Nobody could anticipate what it actually did: induce sleeping, prevent morning sickness, and drastically harm unborn children.

But, whilst thalidomide rampaged and ravaged throughout most of the West, it never reached the United States. It landed on the desk of Dr Frances Kelsey, and there it stayed as she battled hierarchy, patriarchy, and the Establishment in an effort to prove that it was dangerous. Frankie is her story.

Purchase Links

https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/publication/frankie/9780750991919/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Frankie-Woman-Saved-Millions-Thalidomide-ebook/dp/B07PQV547Y

https://www.amazon.com/Frankie-Woman-Saved-Millions-Thalidomide-ebook/dp/B07PQV547Y

Author Biography

JAMES ESSINGER is the author of non-fiction books that focus on STEM subjects and personalities, including Charles and Ada (The History Press) and Ada’s Algorithm (Gibson Square), the latter of which has been optioned for a film. He lives in Canterbury.

SANDRA KOUTZENKO is a bilingual writer whose work spans a variety of categories and topics, ranging from French poetry to English non-fiction, focusing on human nature and the conflict between its potential for greatness and its propensity for destruction.

Social Media Links

Twitter @TheHistoryPress

Instagram @TheHistoryPressUK

https://www.facebook.com/james.essinger

https://twitter.com/jamesessinger

Have you read this? Let me know your thoughts below. When I have caught up with my TBR pile I will share my review.

Happy reading!

Love

Book Review: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

Book Review: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

With Halloween and the spookiness of October just passed, and discovering the next book in the trilogy is out at the end of the next year, I decided to revisit The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton.

Book Review: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

The Craftsman

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

Title: The Craftsman

Author: Sharon Bolton

Publisher: Trapeze

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Release Date: 3rd May 2018

Blurb

He makes his living from death. But is he capable of murder? Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Grassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares, the victims were buried, but while they were still alive. Larry confessed the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves. Did she get it wrong all those years ago? Or is there something much darker at play?

My Thoughts

Since I first read The Craftsman last year, I have visited Lancaster and seeing the  its stunning mountains and dramatic landscape of the Lancashire countryside in reality added to the creepy atmosphere of this novel. Set in the footholds of the hills of Pendle, famous for the Pendle witch trials, there is an air of menace throughout made worse by the horrific murders. Being buried alive is a fear I have after reading Peter James’ Twilight.* The death of  serial killer, The Craftsman, draws Detective Florence Lovelady back to Lancashire where she began her career and the discovery of an effigy makes her question whether he was really guilty or a victim of miscarriage of justice. With a blend of murder investigations and supernatural it drew me in and kept me turning the page even though this was a reread. I have discovered she is one crime writer you can read over and over because even if you know the truth, you always learn something new and the tension of the chase still remains. Watching the George Gently TV series helped me visualise Flossie and her working environment in the 1960’s where she faces not only the danger of a killer on the loose, but the patriarchy attitude and discrimination at that time. She is independent, brave and has self-belief I wish I had at her age.

Would I recommend?

Yes. Sharon Bolton has a talent for sending chills down your spine with her creepy psychological thrillers and this is no exception. It’s dark, disturbing and makes you leave the light on.  It is the beginning of a series, though there is a prequel short story on Kindle, Alive. It is perfect for the dark evenings and curling up in front of the fire when you want the thrill of being spooked and discovering who did it.  I can’t wait for the next book.

What are you reading this weekend?

Happy reading!

Love

*An excellent horror book which I may have to read again.