Book Review for Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage

Book Review: Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage by Katie Ginger

It is another festive book today. I am pleased to share you my review for Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage by Katie Ginger. This is a new author for me but I am looking forward to reading some other stories by her.

Book Review: Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage by Katie Ginger

Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage

Title: Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage

Author: Katie Ginger

Publisher: HQ Digital

Genre: Christmas Romance

Release Date: 11th October 2019

Blurb

On a grey, London day, Esme’s world crumbles around her when she loses her glitzy job on a top TV programme, her gorgeous, city-slicker boyfriend and her stunning apartment, all in one fell swoop just before Christmas.

Esme is forced suddenly to move back to her sleepy hometown of Sandchester, and despite the snow blanketing the roof and the fairy lights that twinkle in her rustic little cottage, everything is looking bleak. That is until she reconnects with an old crush and finds herself unexpectedly getting swept away.

But Joe, handsome and charming as he is, is not all he seems. Esme soon realises that he has a tragic past which he just might not be able to overcome…

Surrounded by her loving, if harebrained, family and with the support of her hilarious friends, Esme is determined to have a go at forging her own path, even if it all comes to nothing. But one question still lingers in her mind: will she find someone to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?

Purchase Links

Amazon UK ebook: https://amzn.to/2NL7fhq

Amazon UK paperbook: https://amzn.to/2Y51uPP

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2LP8Ujm

Amazon US ebook: https://amzn.to/2XHxFR1

My Thoughts

Oh my! This is the best Christmas book I have read this year (and I have read quite a few now). I began reading at bedtime and found myself staying awake until the last page. I could not put it down. It made me chuckle out loud waking my husband and sob too. It had everything a festive book needs – characters you love, scrumptious food to make you hungry, a magical setting, a plot you are immersed in and sprinkling of festive moments that make you wish you could experience them yourself.

I am a fan of the Great British Bake Off so I was drawn in by the first scenes where I was introduced to Esme on the set of a cooking programme. Food plays a large part of the story and Katie Ginger’s writing makes the food come alive on the page, I could see, smell and taste the flavours as Esme baked. I am going to have to search for some orange tea bread. It sounds divine. The promised aroma of the bakes conjured up the spirit of Christmas.

Esme is a wonderful character who I would love to meet in reality. She tackles problems head on, is natural and funny so complements Joe, an estate agent who is the reluctant love interest with a heart breaking past. Their relationship is an emotional roller coaster as obstacles are put in the way of love and fresh beginnings. Esme’s friends add an extra element to the novel as they are always there for each other and add humorous moments not that Esme needs help in that department.

Would I recommend?

This book will be on my forever shelf so I can read it again and again. It is a festive treat that makes you ready for Christmas and tantalises the taste buds. It is heart warming, funny and emotional making it perfect for fans of the Great British Bake off, Bridget Jones and Christmas.

Author Biography

Snowflakes - author pic

Katie Ginger

KATIE GINGER lives in the South East of England, by the sea, and apart from holidays to very hot places where you can sit by a pool and drink cocktails as big your head, she wouldn’t really want to be anywhere else. Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage is her third novel. She is also author of the Seafront series – The Little Theatre on the Seafront, shortlisted for the Katie Fforde Debut Novel of the Year award, and Summer Season on the Seafront.

When she’s not writing, Katie spends her time drinking gin, or with her husband, trying to keep alive her two children: Ellie, who believes everything in life should be performed like a musical number from a West End show; and Sam, who is basically a monkey with a boy’s face. And there’s also their adorable King Charles Spaniel, Wotsit (yes, he is named after the crisps!).

For more about Katie you can visit her website: www.keginger.com, find her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/KatieGAuthor, or follow her on Twitter: @KatieGAuthor.

Thank you Rachel Random Resources and HQ Digital for an advanced copy to review and allowing me to discover a new author to follow.

Happy reading!

Love

Book review: Wrapped up for Christmas by Katlyn Duncan

The festive reads continue with a new author for me, Katlyn Duncan.

Book Review: Wrapped Up for Christmas by Katlyn Duncan

Wrapped Up for Christmas_FINAL

Title: Wrapped Up for Christmas

Author: Katlyn Duncan

Publisher: HQ Digital

Genre: Festive, Romance

Release Date: 1st October 2019

Blurb

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… but not for Angie Martinelli…

Having lost her boyfriend, job, and apartment all in the space of a week, Angie has no choice but to leave California and return to her family in New England.

Determined not to let life weigh her down, Angie finds work at the local mall where she worked as a teenager. After an embarrassing run-in with a handsome stranger, Nick, she’s convinced her luck is about to change.

But Nick has secrets of his own… and as the first flakes of snow begin to fall, Angie can’t help but wonder if she’ll ever find love.

Purchase Links

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2NGuQyc
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2HBoxs2
B&N: http://bit.ly/32fCF1R
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2NGvUlG
iBooks: https://apple.co/2LmsotI
Kobo: http://bit.ly/32jrSUl
Books2read universal link: http://bit.ly/34deOBH

My Thoughts

I loved the overall Christmas feel of this novel with the decorations, trees and festive food leaping off the page but it was the shopping mall which resonated with me most. In my student days, my first job was working in a mall at Christmas and I loved it – the atmosphere, people watching and helping shoppers with their retail experience. Katlyn Duncan has captured the essence of that perfectly as Angie returns to the mall she once worked. She is a character I could relate too and Nick along with his dog, Charlie makes a good love interest. Their chemistry meant I was more than happy to have a duvet day to continue reading to discover how family feuds and trust issues played out.

It is heart-warming, reminded me of the important things about the festive season – love, charity and goodwill – and more importantly, gave me the tingle of anticipation that soon it will be time to decorate my own tree.

Would I recommend?

Oh yes. It is entertaining, heart-warming and pure escapism allowing you time away from soggy days and gear up for the Christmas period which is on its way.

Author Biography

Wrapped UP Author Photo

Author Katlyn Duncan

Coming from a small town in Western Massachusetts, Katlyn Duncan always had her head in the clouds. Working as a scientist for most of her adult life, she enjoyed breaking down the hows and whys of life. This translated into her love of stories and getting into the minds of her characters.

Currently, she’s a full-time author and freelance writer. When she’s not writing, she’s obsessing over many (many) television series’.

She currently resides in Southern New England with her family. Check out more about her writing and current TV addiction in her newsletter, and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

SCBWI & RWA Member.

Social Media Links –

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorkatlynduncan/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/katlyn_duncan

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/duncankatlyn/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7060690.Katlyn_Duncan

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/katlyn-duncan

Newsletter sign up: https://www.subscribepage.com/q6i5n1

 

Thank you Rachel Random Resources, and HQ Digital for an advanced copy so I could give my honest and unbiased opinion. It was a pleasure to read.

Happy reading!

Love

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Book Review: Writing Fiction by James Essinger

Book Review: Writing Fiction by James Essinger

Today I am reviewing something slightly different to the usual books found on this blog. When I am not reading, blogging or sleeping I write fiction. Like many readers, I dream of seeing my book in a book shop surrounded by authors I love so when I was offered a chance to review this book on writing fiction I knew I had to take it.  My writing journey can be found here.

Book Review: Writing Fiction A User-friendly Guide by James Essinger

Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide (1)

Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide

Title: Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide

Author: James Essinger

Genre: Non-fiction, Writing

Publisher: The Conrad Press

Release Date: 1st August 2019

Blurb

‘Writing Fiction is a little pot of gold… Screenplay by Syd Field for film, Writing Fiction by James Essinger for fiction. It’s that simple.’

William Osborne, novelist and screenwriter

Writing Fiction – a user-friendly guide is a must-read if you want to write stories to a professional standard.

It draws on the author’s more than thirty years of experience as a professional writer, and on the work and ideas of writers including:

  • Anthony Burgess
  • Joseph Conrad
  • George Eliot
  • Ken Follett
  • Frederick Forsyth
  • Dan Harmon
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • David Lodge
  • Norman Mailer
  • John Milton
  • Ben Parker
  • K. Rowling
  • William Shakespeare
  • Martin Cruz Smith
  • R.R. Tolkien

The twenty-four chapters cover every important matter you need to know about, including: devising a compelling story, creating and developing characters, plotting, ‘plants’, backstory, suspense, dialogue, ‘show’ and ‘tell’, and how to make your novel more real than reality.

Also featuring special guest advice from legendary screenwriter Bob Gale, who wrote the three immortal Back to the Future movies (1985, 1989 and 1990), and novelist and screenwriter William Osborne, whose many screen credits include the co-writing of the blockbuster  Twins (1988), this highly entertaining book gives you all the advice and practical guidance you need to make your dream of becoming a published fiction writer come true.

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Writing-Fiction-user-friendly-James-Essinger-ebook/dp/B07VYY9XH9/

https://www.amazon.com/Writing-Fiction-user-friendly-James-Essinger-ebook/dp/B07VYY9XH9/

My Thoughts

James Essinger is a novelist, non-fiction writer and publisher so he has the experience to write a writing guide. This is a concise, useful and easy-to-read book for beginners and breaks down the important elements of fiction writing. Examples are given to illustrate the advice with links to Back to the Future, Titanic and The Day of the Jackal.

I enjoyed learning about how the oral tradition of telling stories around the campfire has evolved through time to Dickens, Conrad and more modern novelists like Ken Follett and the importance of picking a role model suitable for today’s readers. He gives a good overview of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey which gives a story a solid structure. There are several tips that will help my writing but as a writer of women’s fiction and magical realism some suggestions were not applicable. If I had read this before learning the expectations of readers from those genres, I think I would have come away disheartened after trying to fit my manuscript to all the points given and failing. The bias to male authors made the book less relatable to what it could have been.

Would I recommend?

Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide is useful and the length makes it ideal to read  between writing your own chapters. It is worth reading for writers of crime and thrillers.


Author Biography

Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide (2)

James Essinger

James Essinger has been a professional writer since 1988. His non-fiction books include Jacquard’s Web (2004), Ada’s Algorithm (2013), which is to be filmed by Monumental Pictures, and Charles and Ada: the computer’s most passionate partnership (2019). His novels include The Mating Game (2016) and The Ada Lovelace Project (2019).

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/james.essinger  

https://twitter.com/jamesessinger

 Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources and The Conrad Press for the copy of Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide to review and give my honest opinion.

Happy reading!

Love

 

 

Book Review: Four Christmases and a Secret by Zara Stoneley

It is officially Autumn which means it is time to prepare for dark evenings, warm duvets, hot chocolate and seasonal reads. This is my first Christmas book review of the year. There are so many festive books to tempt bookworms you have to start early to fit them all in. Last year I enjoyed No one cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley  so I was excited when Rachel’s Random Resources  invited me to this blog tour for her new Christmas novel, Four Christmases and a Secret. 

Book Review: Four Christmas and a Secret

Four Christmases and a Secret Cover

Four Christmases and a Secret

Title: Four Christmases and a Secret

Author: Zara Stoneley

Publisher: Harper Impulse and Killer Reads

Genre: General Fiction, Romance

Release Date: 27th September 2019

Blurb

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Except for Daisy Christmas means another of Uncle T’s dreaded Christmas parties, complete with Christmas jumper and flashing antlers.  And Oliver Cartwright.  Gorgeous Oliver Cartwright. Who she hates.

Every year Daisy has to face insufferable Ollie and hear all about how BRILLIANT he is.  Whereas Daisy has no job, no man and no idea how to fix things.

This Christmas however Daisy is determined things will be different.  There will be no snogging Ollie under the mistletoe like when they were teenagers.  No, this year she’ll show Ollie that she’s a Responsible Adult too.
 
But as the champagne corks pop, and the tinsel sparkles, Uncle T has news of his own to share…and it could change Daisy’s life forever…

 Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07QRTC5JC/

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07QRTC5JC/

My Thoughts

I knew I was in for a treat when the early scenes of this novel, set in an atmospheric bookshop oozing with Christmas magic instantly drew me in. As a bibliophile I find it hard to resist novels where bookshops play a significant role and the addition of Christmas makes this book a winning combination.

Daisy was a likeable character treading water while everyone else is succeeding in their dreams especially her childhood best friend, Ollie.  I had sympathy for her as she is dragged into the competitive battle between her Mum and Ollie’s mother adding to her belief she is a failure. Adult Oliver is the hunk who leaps of the page making me swoon when he appears in the chapters. The chemistry between the two characters, other memorable characters like Uncle T and the antics of her smelly dog, Stanley made this an  enjoyable festive read about self discovery and learning to fly.

It made me chuckle, cry and made me get in to the Christmas mood. What more do you need in a festive rom-com?

Would I recommend?

This is an entertaining novel, ideal for lazy cold evenings or weekends. If you enjoy the  Bridget Jones’ festive scenes you’ll enjoy this.

Author Biography

ZaraStoneley authorpic

Zara Stoneley

Zara Stoneley is the USA Today bestselling author of ‘The Wedding Date’.

She lives in a Cheshire village with her family, a lively cockapoo called Harry, and a very bossy (and slightly evil) cat called Saffron.

Born in a small village in the UK, Zara wanted to be a female James Herriot, a spy, or an author when she grew up. After many (many) years, and many different jobs, her dream of writing a bestseller came true. She now writes about friendship, dreams, love, and happy ever afters, and hopes that her tales make you laugh a lot, cry a little, and occasionally say ‘ahhh’.

Zara’s bestselling novels include ‘Bridesmaids’, ‘No One Cancels Christmas’, ‘The Wedding Date’, ‘The Holiday Swap’, ‘Summer with the Country Village Vet’, ‘Blackberry Picking at Jasmine Cottage’ and the popular Tippermere series – ‘Stable Mates’, ‘Country Affairs’ and ‘Country Rivals’.

Social Media Links –

Website: http://www.zarastoneley.com
Twitter: @ZaraStoneley
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ZaraStoneley

Instagram: zarastoneley

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/zara-stoneley?follow=true

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B007WK307G

 

A big thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources and Zara Stoneley for the chance to read an advanced copy so I could give my honest and unbiased opinion.

What books have you got on your Christmas TBR pile?

Happy reading and weekend!

Love

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Meet the Author: KT King

Autumn is here which is an ideal time to curl up under the duvet and read a good book.  My TBR pile is on the edge of falling over but one of the books I am eager to read is Little Eden.  I have the pleasure to introduce its author, KT King to my blog today to discuss this novel, her favourite reads and her experience of writing with ME/CFS.

Little Eden by KT King

9781916429604

Little Eden by KT King

Book Blurb

  1. Little Eden, London, England.

In the heart of the city lies the beautiful sanctuary of Little Eden. In the time of King Alfred, this sacred site was surrounded by stone walls and within their protection has grown a tranquil town of historic buildings, parks and gardens, and tree-lined streets.

But, Little Eden and the last 1,000 years of community, compassion and refuge are under threat. Human greed, selfishness and disregard are about to turn everything Little Eden stands for to dust.

Robert Bartlett-Hart must make a choice.

With the help of his friends – plus plenty of tea and cake – Robert learns that there is more at stake than just Little Eden. Something lies at the heart of the Abbey; something that stands between the future of mankind and Armageddon.

Robert sets out on a journey of self-discovery, through past lives, other dimensions, and even through Heaven itself, but where do his loyalties lie?

Will Little Eden survive to usher in a new age or will humanity perish with it?

https://linktr.ee/ktkingbooks

The paperback will be available shortly.

Welcome to From Under the Duvet, KT King. Please tell us a bit about yourself.

_MG_0566 - Copy

KT King

KT:  I love afternoon tea, investigating all things spiritual and work as a complimentary therapist (when my health allows). I try to help others as much as I can. Making a contribution to someone else’s happiness or healing is the only thing that keeps me going! I also love crafting, up-cycling and a bit of shabby chic! I sell some of my handmade jewellery in my Little Eden Etsy shop where all the gifts inspired by Little Eden. I meditate daily and I eat way too much chocolate! I can’t read a lot these days but I chill out by watching TV adaptations of cosy crime novels.

I hope to help raise awareness for ME/CFS through my writing. I have suffered with this little known but chronic illness for over 25 years. My heroine, Sophie Lawrence, represents all of us with this illness. I hope that she inspires others as well as helping raise awareness for the millions of us worldwide who are currently ignored by the medical profession and society. There are so many people now suffering with this debilitating illness that it has been suggested that it is becoming a humanitarian crisis. If you would like to learn more about ME/CFS just click here: https://www.meaction.net/

What is your favourite book?

KT:  This is always a hard question to answer as I think we all have a few books which we turn to over and over for comfort or enlightenment. One book I have read many times is Maurice by E.M Forster, I remember reading it aged seventeen in one sitting.

Who is your favourite author?

KT: Again, a tricky question to pin down to one author but I would have to say Jane Austen, as I always dip into her books when I am feeling down.

Is your writing influenced by the books you have read?

I studied English and French at University and am influenced by French authors such as Andre Gide but also by English Gothic writers such Edgar Allen Poe and Shirley Jackson. I like to mix up my genres so you’ll notice a splash of all sorts in my writing. I’m very influenced by TV and Film as well. I see my scenes in pictures before I write them down. I love the cinematography of Hitchcock, Baz Lurhmann and Tim Burton for example, and I weave music into my novels just as they do in the movies!

Where is your favourite place to write?

KT: I have a therapy room where my desk is actually my treatment couch, I love it in there as it’s so peaceful, tranquil and calming. Sometimes I write in our ‘fancy shed’ if the weather is warm. My dream place to write would be by a lake somewhere in Canada or Scandinavia.

When did you begin writing?

KT: I used to play at being Enid Blyton when I was six years old and invent stories for my friends to act out and I loved Anne of Green Gables and Little Women – wanting to be Anne or Jo. I wrote the sixth form play but then all my writing after that was essays, newsletters or course manuals. Due to the CFS I didn’t have the energy to do anything outside my part-time work as a healer/psychic.

When I had a massive relapse of the CFS aged forty, I was in bed for two years and began to write Little Eden in my head. It took me four years to type it up as I had long periods of not being able to function. But, I feel I’ve been writing in my head my whole life long!

Katie: Jo and Anne are tow of my childhood heroines and both encouraged me to dream about being an author.

How did you become published?

KT: I finally self-published in November 2018 taking a leap of faith that my writing was good enough to be out there in the ocean of books but also because I didn’t want the ‘what if’ following me around for the next forty years. Due to the CFS a publishing deal would not really work for me as I can’t meet deadlines and my writing days are short and erratic. Self-publishing offers the challenge of how to promote my books because I don’t have the energy or the time for major marketing. It is thanks to wonderful, generous bloggers like Katie that you are reading about me and Little Eden right now.

If you write a particular genre, how did you begin writing in this style?

KT: Little Eden can’t be pinned down to one genre because I’m too curious to stick to one style. I like to have fun and mix it up! I guess you could say Little Eden is part supernatural thriller, part cosy crime, part women’s fiction with some mind, body, spirit, someone once said it was like Jane Austen meets Gothic thriller and I like that because one of my favourite books is Northanger Abbey which is a satirical Gothic romance!

Social Media links for KT King:

Blog: http://bit.ly/KTKingBlog

Website: http://bit.ly/KTKingWebsite

Instagram:  http://bit.ly/KTKingInstagram

Facebook: http://bit.ly/KTKingFacebook

Twitter:  http://bit.ly/KTKingTwitter

Etsy: http://bit.ly/KTKingShop

Thanks KT King for joining us today. It is always nice to meet fellow duvet dwellers and discover new books too. Good luck with the novel and your future writing.

Happy reading.

Love

 

 

 

Book Review: The Lost Daughter by Sylvia Broady

Book Review: The Lost Daughter by Sylvia Broady

This is my second review this month from a local author though Sylvia Broady writes a different genre to the last. The Lost Daughter is classed as a saga which I rarely read but when I read the blurb, I was desperate to read it. Scroll down to see what I thought.

Book Review: The Lost Daughter by Sylvia Broady

The Lost Daughter Cover

The Lost Daughter

Title: The Lost Daughter

Author: Sylvia Broady

Genre: Saga, Women’s fiction

Publisher: Allison and Busby

Release Date: 22nd November 2018

Blurb

Hull, 1930. A terrified woman runs through the dark, rain-lashed streets pursued by a man, desperate to reach the sanctuary of the local police station. Alice Goddard runs with one thing in her mind: her daughter. In her panic she is hit by a car at speed and rushed to hospital. When she awakes, she has no memory of who she is, but at night she dreams of being hunted by a man, and of a little girl.

As the weeks pass and her memories gradually resurface, Alice anxiously searches for her daughter, but no one is forthcoming about the girl’s whereabouts – even her own mother is evasive. Penniless and homeless, Alice must begin again and rebuild her life, never giving up hope that one day she will be reunited with her lost daughter.

Purchase Links

From 22nd – 29th August, The Lost Daughter will be at the bargain price of 99p.

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Daughter-Sylvia-Broady-ebook/dp/B07F3KPN1J

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Daughter-Sylvia-Broady-ebook/dp/B07F3KPN1J

My Thoughts

I loved this book in many ways – the style, voice, time frame, and locality of the setting but mainly the story. I am a huge fan of The Long Lost Family, a British TV programme where relatives find those separated by adoption, trauma and other turns of life. The real life stories are fascinating and heartbreaking; ideal inspiration for writers. A box of tissues is needed throughout. If the novel was based on a true story it could easily be featured in this series.

The blurb caught my imagination but the main character, Alice Goddard captured my heart and as her story developed I had to keep reading. She is everything I would like to be – kind, compassionate, determined and strong. This novel is an emotional journey of a woman’s life and the search for her child, Daisy. Beginning in 1930’s it is believable that a child could easily get lost in the care system at a time when the stigma of being classed as an unfit mother ran deep and there was little compassion in the authorities.  My heart broke reading the accounts of both characters missing each other. The outbreak of the Second World War adds further emotion and take Alice to places beyond her imagination.

This well researched book opened my eyes to the realities of war on the home front as well as the unsung heroes of the nurses. The location of Hull, East Yorkshire gave this book more meaning as it is a city I have recently discovered. When there I am always intrigued by the many beautiful buildings and quirky architecture mingled between the modern ones. It brought home to me how much must have been lost and the true devastation the place and its people endured during the blitz. The novel also touches on other local places such as Bridlington and Scarborough, so every time I visit them I can visualise Alice and others walking close by.

Would I recommend?

Yes, The Lost Daughter will proudly sit on my forever shelf. It has rekindled my love for sagas and made me realise how much I enjoy learning about the changes in society and lives of people in history through fiction. You see the growth of a person over a longer time span than other genres which tend to provide you a quick snapshot of the protagonist’s life.

I am looking forward to Sylvia Broady’s future releases and her previous books have been added to my TBR list.

Author Biography

Sylvia Broady was born in Kingston upon Hull and has lived in the area all her life, though she loves to travel the world. It wasn’t until she started to frequent her local library , after World War 2, that her relationship with literature truly began and her memories of war influence her writing, as does her home town. A member of the: RNA, HNS, S of A and Beverley Writers. She has had a varied career in childcare, the NHS and East Yorkshire Council Library Services, but is now a full-time writer. Plus volunteering as a Welcomer at Beverley Minster to visitors from around the world, and raising money for local charities by singing in the choir of the Beverley Singers, both bringing colour and enrichment to her imagination and to her passion for writing.

Social Media Links

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

Twitter https://twitter.com/SylviaBroady

Website: https://sylviabroadyauthor.com

Giveaway

I am pleased to share a chance for you to win 2 x paperback signed books of The Lost Daughter and The Yearning Heart (Open Internationally).* Good luck.

Click here to enter

The Lost Daughter GIVEAWAY 3

Giveaway Prizes

Thank you Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and Sylvia Broady for the advanced copy of The Lost Daughter so I could give my honest, unbiased opinion. If you life to find out more about Sylvia Broady and her book,why not visit other blogs on this tour.

Happy reading!

Love

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide 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: The Woman in the Photograph by Stephanie Butland

This book has been on my radar for a while so I was pleased when I had a gap in the blog tours to read something purely for me. It was stunning, and left me reeling with emotion by the time I closed the book. Scroll down to find out why.

Book Review: The Woman in the Photograph by Stephanie Butland

cover163149-medium

The Woman in the Photograph

Title: The Woman in the Photograph

Author: Stephanie Butland

Genre: General fiction (it is classed as Women’s Fiction but should be aimed at all genders)

Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre

Release Date: 11th July 2019

Blurb:

1968.

Veronica Moon, a junior photographer on a local paper in an Essex town, is frustrated. She never gets good assignments, and no one takes her seriously. And then she visits the picket line at Dagenham Ford Factory. At the front line of the fight for equal pay for women workers she meets Leonie – a privileged, angry activist, ahead of her time and prepared to fight for equality with everything she has. Veronica is captivated. She breaks off her engagement and moves to London with Leonie to begin a game-changing career and an intoxicating friendship.

Fifty years later and Leonie is gone. Veronica is a recluse with a crippling degenerative disease. For a while she was heralded as a pioneer, leading the charge for women everywhere. But her career was shockingly and abruptly ended by one of the most famous photographs of the twentieth century. It is a photograph she took of her best friend’s death.

Now, as that controversial picture hangs as the centrepiece of a new feminist exhibition curated by Leonie’s niece, long-repressed memories of Veronica’s extraordinary life and tumultuous, passionate and – at times toxic – friendship begin to stir.

It’s time to break her silence and step back into the light. And she will no longer hide from the truth about that dark time . . .

My Thoughts

This book blew me away. It is intelligent, thought-provoking, emotional (to the point I sobbed in front of my in-laws) and got under my skin.

It is a retrospective look on the second wave of feminism through the eyes of Veronica Moon, a photographer as she becomes involved in an exhibition of her work over the previous fifty years. Set in 2018, the interaction between her and the exhibition’s organiser, Erica drew me in and highlights the differences in attitude between generations and how feminism has evolved from the 1970’s marches to the #MeToo movement.

Veronica, Vee did not know anything about feminism until she met bolshie, educated and opinionated Leonie in 1968. Through the relationship and Leonie acting as a mentor, Vee evolves and learns about her place in the world and the fight for equality ahead. Vee’s learning curve became my own because it made me realise how little I knew beyond the suffragettes and Dagenham. It was eye opening to read about the restrictions on women at the time, many I did not know about such as needing a guarantor to take a mortgage out on your own. There are many things we take for granted that the older generation had to fight for. Likewise in the present day, Vee becomes Erica’s mentor who until then saw feminism much like did.

The novel as the title suggests revolves around photographs; Stephanie Butland’s talent for describing them brought the images alive adding to the depth of the story. Throughout the story, there is a mystery of a particular image of Leonie which made me keep turning the pages.

Feminism plays a large role in this novel but at it’s heart is the journey of women, and an exploration of the relationships between them, their families, spouses and wider world.

Would I recommend?

Yes, it is one I would like to shout about and if I was still working in the library I would be urging people to give it ago. I have read some of Stephanie Butland’s books before and loved them, especially Lost in Words but this is special; Leonie, Vee and Erica will remain in my heart. Their voices will continue speak to me urging me to follow their lead, keep fighting to make a difference, be proud of who I am and what I achieve, support fellow sisters and always question the world around me. It left me feeling empowered and I am not the same person I was when I read the opening paragraph. This is definitely one for my forever shelf.

This book has encouraged me to read some books exploring feminism. I would love some recommendations so feel free to comment below.

Love

 

Book Review: The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey

Today I am sharing a completely different book to those I usually share. The blurb The Unlikely Occultist: A Biography Novel of Alice A. Bailey by Isobel Blackthorn intrigued me so I had to accept the offer of this tour by Rachel’s Random Resources. Scroll down to see if it satisfied my curiosity.

Book Review: The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey by Isobel Blackthorn

The-Unlikely-Occultist-Main-File copy

The Unlikely Occultist by Isobel Blackthorn

Title: The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey

Author: Isobel Blackthorn

Publisher: Creativa

Genre: fictional biography, spiritual, religion

Release date: 4th December 2018

Blurb:

Librarian Heather Brown discovers the fascinating life of Alice Bailey – a long forgotten occultist.

Back in 1931, Alice is preparing to give a speech at a Swiss summer school. But how can she stave the tide of hatred and greed set to bring the world to its knees?

Soon after, Alice is put on Hitler’s blacklist. What she doesn’t realize is the enormity of her influence to the world, and the real enemies who are much closer than she thinks.

A dynamic and complex figure, Alice Bailey’s reach was huge. She was influential among people and organizations of global power, especially the United Nations, and is widely regarded as the Mother of the New Age.

Yet today she is maligned by fundamentalist Christians, Theosophists, Jews, academics and above all, by conspiracy theorists. Are any of these groups justified in rejecting the unlikely occultist?

“Blackthorn’s exploration of Alice Bailey’s life and work provides a unique and intimate insight into Bailey’s life and the times in which she lived. For anyone seeking to explore the roots of Bailey’s influence on the New Age movement as well as her unsought role as the bête noire of the conspiracy scene, there’s no better place to begin.” – Aaron John Gulyas, associate professor and author of Conspiracy Theories

Purchase Link – viewbook.at/Occultist

My Thoughts:

Though captivated by the blurb, I was not sure what to expect when I began this novel. I had no knowledge of Alice A. Bailey, for reasons that became clear as  the story progressed, but her strong, opinionated and determined personality jumped off the page and her unusual life kept me reading. I knew she was a spectacular woman when it was revealed she played a role in bringing the the United Nations Meditation Room to fruition. It is a place I would like to see and experience. More information of this unusual place can be found here.

Alice Bailey’s life emerges when librarian Heather Brown begins to archive boxes of research into this fascinating woman. The novel follows both women. In the present,  Heather is consumed with grief for her beloved aunt and uses the books, diaries and an unfinished autobiography as an escape while Alice Bailey’s life begins in 1880. It is Alice’s story which drew me in. Her hard life took her across the globe from England, India and America at a time where the threat of from Hitler is rising. The increasing  hate is in contrast with her aim to bring peace and people together to spread the word of Goodwill and increase enlightenment under the advice of her spiritual guide, The Tibetan. She successfully blended her strict Christian beliefs with more theosophical and Esoteric theories to become the Mother of the New Age. I am pleased this is a written review and not a vlog as I can not pronounce many of the new words I learnt. The novel follows her accomplishments and downfall which led her name to falling into obscurity.

When Alice Bailey attempted to write her autobiography she said  “I would really render a service if I could show people how I became what I am from what I was. It might be useful to know how a rabid orthodox Christian worker could become a well-known occult teacher.” Isobel Blackthorn’s use of fiction cleverly achieves this;  Alice Bailey’s name and work is brought into the mainstream rather than hidden in the shadows. I feel the complicated theories may have been too dry and overwhelming to have kept my interest if depicted as non-fiction. Fiction makes them accessible to the reader and encouraged me to read around the subject. This was not a quick read because of the complex subject it covered but it was worth taking the time needed to understand the ideas driving this formidable woman.

AliceBailey

Alice Bailey

Photo from https://www.lucistrust.org/books/about_alice_a_bailey

Would I recommend?

Yes,I loved this book and it encouraged me to explore esotericism further. It is well worth reading if you are interested in the New Age, spirituality or simply love a unique, unusual read. In the current political and environmental climate I found it as enlightening read.

Author Biography

Isobel Blackthorn Headshot 1 copy

Isobel Blackthorn

Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. She writes across a range of genres, including psychological thrillers, gripping mysteries, captivating travel fiction and hilarious dark satire.

Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism for her ground-breaking study of the texts of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey. Her engagement with Alice Bailey’s life and works has culminated in the biographical novel, The Unlikely Occultist.

Social Media Links –

http://isobelblackthorn.com

https://www.facebook.com/Lovesick.Isobel.Blackthorn/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5768657.Isobel_Blackthorn

https://twitter.com/IBlackthorn

https://www.instagram.com/isobelblackthorn/

Would you like to know more about this book or the author why not visit other blogs on the tour? Details can be found below.

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources and Isobel Blackthorn for inviting me to take part in this tour and bringing this intriguing book and ideas to my attention.

Love

The Unlikely Occultist Full Tour Banner

Book Review: Farewell to a friend by Steven Turner-Bone

I hope the summer is treating you well. I have had a few visits to the sea which is always good.

Today, I am sharing a review for Farewell to a Friend by Steven Turner-Bone, a local writer. It is always uplifting to read a book with connections to places you know; the shared link helps immerse you into the story and bond with characters. The Mathew Fletcher novels began in Beverley, East Yorkshire which is one of my  local towns and now every time I visit I recall snippets of his life.

This is the third book in the series and the main character, Mathew Fletcher, a surgeon has moved down the country to Shrewsbury.

Book Review: Farewell to a Friend by Steven Turner-Bone

farewell to a friend cover

Farewell to a Friend

Title: Farewell to a Friend

Author: Steven Turner-Bone

Publisher: Independent

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release date: 3rd July 2018

Blurb:

King Charles has raised his standard at Nottingham declaring war against his parliament and consequently his own people. Mathew and his friends are caught up in the middle of it all. Mathew refuses to give up his search for the last of the murderers of his beloved Elizabeth and so they must all follow the King as he crosses the country enlarging his army.
The road Mathew now travels leads him to Shrewsbury and his showdown with John Franks, but whoever it was that said ‘vengeance is sweet’ had never tried to kill anyone, let alone a ruthless murderer.
Changes take place within Mathew’s group of friends as they learn Shrewsbury is not to be their final destination and that the Earl of Essex, with a large parliamentarian army, is in close pursuit.
Torn between returning home and following his career as surgeon to the King, Mathew has to make decisions that will inevitably change his own life and affect the outcome of the civil war in England.

My Thoughts

It has been a while since I read the first novel, Friends and Enemies so I was grateful for the recap in the first couple of chapters. Set in 1642 amidst the English Civil war between the Royalists and Parliamentarians, fiction is blended with real events leading to a plot which is in places stranger than any author can believably invent.

In the first book, Mathew Fletcher finds himself moving away from his hometown, Beverley in East Yorkshire to hunt for three men who slain the love of his life. The need for revenge led him to be a spy and work as a surgeon for the military. This book follows him as he moves down the country where he finds himself pulled in different directions by his ambition, revenge, political pressure and desire to go home for a quiet life. I enjoyed reading the twists of his life as the consequences of his initial decision to take revenge unfold and how it develops his character.

As with many historical novels, there are many personalities in the background driving the story forward. They are crucial because a decision made from the King or leader of the opposition can have a big impact on the plot so there is a complex web of people to remember. There were times I became confused by which side people were on but I believe this is more to do with brain fog and unfamiliarity with history than anything else. Once I reconnected with Mathew and his sister-in-law Mary, this did not matter. I wanted to know what happened next. Mary is one of the most fascinating characters and it is always good to catch up with her.

One thing I love about historical fiction is the ability to close the book with more knowledge than you started with. This book is no exception, Steven Turner-Bone’s passion and knowledge of the era shines through especially when it involves the medical side of Mathew’s life. This adds credence to his character, actions and story.

Would I recommend?

Yes, though I suggest you start at the beginning of the series so you are aware of the characters’ full back story. It is ideal for those interested in the local history of East Yorkshire, Shrewsbury, Warwick and the Civil War.

Steven has just released a standalone novel The Firebird Inheritance which I am eager to read after listening to several extracts. The premise surrounds a package with links to  the last Russian Tsar. Why not check it out here?

Author Biography

Me with books (2)

Steven Turner-Bone

Steven was born in Hull many years ago, and always loved history and stories. After having successful career in catering and IT he met his wife, Sue and started a family. Sue’s career as a computer programmer blossomed and it very quickly led to him staying home to look after the children whilst she hit the jet-set life of flying around Europe on work-related matters. He took on short term jobs whilst the kids were at school.

The family were close, so when it came to finding a hobby for them all fate came knocking, and they joined a 17th century historical re-enactment group. It added enormously to his knowledge of history, as well as them all being able to visit castles, stately homes and historical sites free of charge. It even led to him appearing as an extra in many television programmes and one film.

After being made redundant from the Probation Service as an admin clerk, and reading a novel on the English Civil War, he happened to make a comment to Sue about how poor the story was in the book.

‘Then you write one,’ came the reply. So he did, and it sold, and it kept selling, so he wrote book two, and book three, and book four, and now he is currently writing book five. Steven believes he has found what he was destined to do with his life and he loves it.

Social Media:

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

Website: https://steventurnerbone.co.uk

Thank you Steven Turner-Bone for a copy of your book so I could give my honest and unbiased review.

Love

Book Cover Reveal: The Christmas Calendar Girls by Samantha Tonge

It maybe blistering hot outside and everyone looking forward to eating ice cream to cool down but it is never to early to think about festive books. I have been cooling down by watching Christmas movies and rereading last year’s book so I am pleased to share with you the cover of Samantha Tonge’s upcoming Christmas novel, The Christmas Calendar Girls.

The Christmas Calendar Girls by Samantha Tonge

 

ARIA_TONGE_THE CHRISTMAS CALENDAR GIRLS_E

Book Cover for The Christmas Calendar Girls.

Title: The Christmas Calendar Girls

Author: Samantha Tonge

Genre: Christmas Romance, Women’s fiction

Publication Date: 3rd October 2019

Blurb:

This Christmas fall in love with the town of Chesterwood…

Christmas is meant to be a time of giving, so with Chesterwood food bank under risk of closure Fern knows just what to do to save it. She’s going to get the town to create a living advent calendar.

Fern, and her best friends, call for help from the local community to bring this calendar to life. When Kit, the new man in town, offers his assistance Fern’s heart can’t help but skip a beat (or two).

As they grow ever closer, Fern must admit that Kit’s breaking down the barriers she built after the death of her husband. But his past is holding him back and Fern doesn’t know how to reach him. No matter how hard she tries.

In this town, Kit’s not the only one with secrets. Domestic goddess Cara is behaving oddly, burning meals in the oven and clothes whilst ironing, and Davina’s perfect children are causing trouble at school leaving her son, Jasper, desperately unhappy.

Can the Christmas Calendar Girls find a way to bring the community together in time to save the food bank, while still supporting their families and each other? Can Fern find love again with Kit?

This is a story about kindness and letting go of the past. It’s about looking out for your neighbours and about making every day feel like Christmas.

 Pre-order Links –

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2YAAmUI

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2YBNoBH

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2SUjoPS

iBooks: https://apple.co/2YwUjfd

Author Biography

Samantha Tonge Photo

Samantha Tonge

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.
When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.
She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award.

Social Media Links –

http://samanthatonge.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SamTongeWriter
Instagram: @samanthatongeauthor 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SamanthaTongeAuthor

Thank you @rararesources for allowing me join in with the excitement.

Happy reading!

Love