Sunday, 30 April 2017

Book Review - The First Time Mums' Club by Lucie Wheeler - Fab Firsts

Fab Firsts is my new regular Sunday feature, that is going to be highlighting books that are firsts. When interviewing authors, it will be about their first book, as well as other firsts in their lives. When reviewing books for this feature, there will be a mix of debuts, first books in a series, the first time I read an author, and possibly other firsts depending on what I can think of!

If you are an author wanting to take part in Fab Firsts then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you.

I hope you enjoy this look at a variety of hopefully fabulous firsts, while making some sort of dent in my review and paperback TBRs which are my current main focus!

The First Time Mums' Club is the glorious debut novel from Lucie Wheeler, and what a stunning cover too! 

Amazon UK
Title: The First Time Mums' Club
Author: Lucie Wheeler
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 5th May 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

Meet Pippa…

After years of trying and a failed IVF attempt, Pippa is thrilled to see two little lines appear on a pregnancy test. Finally a precious baby to call her own. This is all Pippa has ever wanted…if only husband Jason could show just a little excitement.


A baby is the icing on the cake for Imogen and Alice – proof that their love for each other can overcome any obstacle. But when Imogen starts receiving malicious texts, it's clear that not everyone is thrilled about the girls' good news.

And Ellie…

A drunken one-night stand and Ellie's life is ruined! Pregnant, jobless and the relationship with her best friend, Chris, over- forever. Because Chris just happens to be the father of Ellie's baby…and potentially the love of her life!

For these first time mums the road to motherhood is bumpier than most!

What a glorious debut novel, it contains everything you want from a chick lit book, plenty of laughs, female friendships, angst about men, and some incredibly likeable characters (and a couple of ones designed to make your blood boil!). 

What we have here is three women who are all pregnant for the first time, in quite different circumstances to each other, who are all brought together by Zoe, and the First Time Mums' Club she runs in her cafe. 

For Zoe is Pippa's best friend, and Ellie's sister, and gets to know Imogen along with the others, as they all attend the club. Pippa's marriage is going through a difficult time so her pregnancy announcement doesn't come at the best moment. Imogen is over the moon to discover that she and Alice are pregnant and that the IVF has worked. However Imogen's mother is not so accepting and is downright vicious and malicious.  And Ellie, well finding out she's pregnant was a shock to the system, especially given the father is her best friend, who only sleep together very occasionally. 

We join the ladies on their journey through pregnancy, the ups and downs in their relationships, and Zoe is a rock for them all. This is a wonderful story of female friendship, and how women can bond over a common interest. 

I loved Ellie's outspokenness at just about every situation she comes across. She may be a bit confused as to what she is doing, but some of her comments to the other girls are just pure gold!  I loved the tenderness and loving relationship Imogen and Alice had, and how Alice is such a supportive wife. With Pippa I was shocked at how her husband treats her, and yet there were still surprises in that direction! 

I found the women to be incredibly engaging, and I loved every aspect of the book and how it drew me in. It is a pleasurable story to read, and I believe Lucie Wheeler is an author I will be looking out for a lot more in the future. 

Thank you so much to Harper Impulse and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Fab Firsts - Q&A with Anna Franklin Osborne

Fab Firsts is my new regular Sunday feature, that is going to be highlighting books that are firsts. When interviewing authors, it will be about their first book, as well as other firsts in their lives. When reviewing books for this feature, there will be a mix of debuts, first books in a series, the first time I read an author, and possibly other firsts depending on what I can think of!

If you are an author wanting to take part in Fab Firsts then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you.

I hope you enjoy this look at a variety of hopefully fabulous firsts, while making some sort of dent in my review and paperback TBRs which are my current main focus!

Today I'm interviewing Anna Franklin Osborne about her debut novel Walking Wounded.

1) Can you tell us a bit about your first book?

Walking Wounded is a novel but was inspired by my late grandmother’s life. It spans the period from the end of the Great War through to the Ten Pound Poms in the 1950s, but focuses on those left behind during the wars and how they picked up the pieces after the soldiers returned. It covers many social issues, but particularly that of domestic violence and how so many people  may accidentally collide in failing to recognise what they are seeing before their eyes.

2) What was your original inspiration to become a writer, and to write your debut?

I read prolifically, most genres, and my husband always told me I should write but I never felt that I had it in me. Then I joined a choir and gradually felt that I would like to develop an artistic side – tricky for someone who hasn’t held a paintbrush since she was about 6! Neil went out one night, and I suddenly decide to Just Start Writing. I had no paper and no lap top so I sat in bed and started typing furiously into my iphone – and in the space of a few hours, had a short story written. I carried on over the next few weeks with new short stories then went on holiday, and while we were walking on the beach waiting for our ferry in northern france, I started telling the kids about my great uncles who stormed the beaches on D-Day, and about my Gran, who made parachutes. Neil looked at me and said ‘there’s your novel,’ and so I began…

3) How long did it take you to write your first book?

It took me a year, typing furiously on a tiny tablet for 15 minutes every day on the school run! Then I went on a writing course which was hugely useful for the editing, and rewrote and edited it over the next year – still in the school car-park!

4) If you could do anything differently in retrospect, what would you change about your debut, or how you went about writing it?

If I’m honest, nothing – I loved every second of it and can’t wait to get my teeth into the next one.

5) Was your first book self or traditionally published, and how did you go about making that decision?

Self-published. I went on this wonderful writing course with Felicity Fair Thompson for an inspiring weekend in the Isle of Wight and she talked about the different ways to publish and I felt her advice was so sensible, along the lines of: ‘years ago, 10% of manuscripts got published and those authors made it big, but the other 90% never even made it off the publishers desk. These days, 90% are published and very few get rich out of it – but did you want your book to be read, or not?!’ And I did, badly want it to be read!

6) Do you have any tips for other first time authors?

Just start – writing is a wonderful way to express yourself at the same time as being much more relaxing and absorbing even than reading. Enjoy every second!

Tell us about your first…
7) Book you bought - Five on a Treasure Island – I wanted to be George… din’t we all?

8) Memory – going on holiday as a child – always sun and sand!!

9) Person you fell in love with – Kevin, he lived across the road but he was sick all over my dad’s car on my 7th birthday party so that was the end of that.

10) Holiday you went on – I remember France but actually it would have been Cornwall – but I DO remember getting my fingers caught between the jetty and the ferry we were on!

11) Prize you won – my music box ‘for effort and achievement,’ actually from my parents as the school didn’t notice either!!!

12) Album you purchased – Queen, the Works – how I wish I’d seen them before Freddie died…

13) Sport you enjoyed participating in – die-hard badminton at Center Parcs with my kids! No mercy…

14) Embarrassing moment you can remember – euw this still hurts... Falling over backwards on a tube train (I was a country hick) with a big rucksack on and lying there like an upturned beetle, unable to move..

15) Pet – Betty, my goldfish. I won her when I was 5 playing darts at a fair, even though my parents told me it was rigged and I couldn’t win!

16) Time you were in trouble – can’t tell you, don’t want to get told off

17) ..choice of alternative career if you weren’t an author – well I already work in health care and teaching – so I’ll say I’d love to have been a singer and I’m working on it…

18) …time you had any independence – moving to Bristol as a teenager too young to drive and being able to walk everywhere without needing to ask my parents to drive me.

19) …toy that you recall loving – Pollyanna, a Raggedy-Ann doll who was taller than me when I got her! I still have her.

20) … time you felt like an adult – I’ll get back to you

21) … time you realised you were good at something – when I did a solo song at a choir gig – I still haven’t come down, even though I’m very very much an amateur!

22) Dish you cooked – no comment, I hate cooking

23) … time you were really scared – when my brother hid in my bed - I had to turn the light off at the door and run across the room and jump up because it was a high platform and he was already under the blankets. I’ll get him back, one day…

Thank you so much Anna for taking the time to answer my questions, and please don't feel too bad about falling over on the tube, I've managed to fall trying to get onto a tube before.

All about the author

I have always worked in health care, and more recently in education, and like so many other parents, hit a tiny crisis a few years ago when I felt that my purpose in life had narrowed to not an awful lot more than dashing between my two jobs and being a mummy taxi. 

I managed to find time to begin singing with a choir, and that helped me feel that I might have a more creative side to myself. One evening, my husband was out and, quite suddenly, I decided to Start Writing. I immediately hit the first obstacles of terrible handwriting and a broken laptop, so my writing career began that night in bed, typing into the note section of my smart phone, with no clear idea of what I wanted to say but resulting in a severe case of RSI and several short stories over the next few nights.

My husband was delighted that I had suddenly found this passion and kept encouraging me to write a novel, which I really felt I did NOT have in me. Later that summer, however, we were walking along a D-Day beach for no other grander reason than our ferry home from France being late, and I began telling our kids about my three great-uncles who were part of that day, and my grandmother who sewed parachutes for the paratroopers jumping over Normandy. Neil looked at me and smiled and said, ‘you do actually have a story there, you know….’

Walking Wounded was written over a period of a year, on a tiny tablet which I bought specifically because it fitted into my handbag – as I said, ‘if it’s not with me at all times, this just won’t happen.’ I wrote every day in 10 minute bursts while I sat in the school car-park waiting for my daughter to emerge from school, I wrote parked outside ballet lessons and maths lessons, I wrote early in the mornings  while everyone was asleep.

Walking Wounded is a war story and family saga, focusing on those left behind whilst their men folk went to war, how they survived and how their relationships evolved through periods of violence, loss and reunion. The main story is about May, a young woman struggling to find her own identity as the youngest in a large family, forced into a stormy marriage through a mistake she is too proud to admit, and explores the web of loyalty, guilt and duty that shaped the decisions of the women awaiting the return of their men-folk as WW2 draws to a close. Spanning the period from the Armistice of the Great War to the exodus of the Ten Pound Poms to Australia in the 1950s, its internal violence is mirrored by the world stage upon which it is set.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Book Review - Summer Breeze and Afternoon Teas by Lindsey Paley - Back Catalogue Books - #AroundTheUKIn144Books #Cumbria

Back Catalogue Books is my new regular Saturday feature, focusing on books that are not the latest releases. There is going to be a mix of Q&As and also reviews, depending on what I have the space for. 

If you are an author wanting to take part in Back Catalogue Books then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you. 

I hope everyone enjoys this weekly look back at some of the slightly older books that are about but still great, and that I eventually make a dent in my TBRs as a result of it!

Having bought books 3-6 of this series recently I realised I should probably read another book of it, so here is my review of book 2 of the Camille Carter series.

Amazon UK
Title: Summer Breeze and Afternoon Teas
Author: Lindsey Paley
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Purple Heather Publishing
Publication Date: 21st June 2015
Rating: 5 Stars

When Millie Carter is invited back to Craiglea Manor to run the Summer Breeze cookery course she is delighted, and jumps at the chance to renew her friendship with Hannah, Robbie and Archie. 

At the annual summer garden party, there are cucumber sandwiches, asparagus quiches, clotted cream scones with lashings of raspberry jam - what more could a girl wish for? Especially as the sun is shining and she can wear her high-heeled sequinned sandals and strappy chiffon tea dress.

The Earl Grey and pink Prosecco flow and laughter ripples around the fragrant gardens. And yet her students seem totally disinterested in whipping up her special-recipe summer berry puddings, or her crisp apricot pavlovas and gooey cherry-and-almond macaroons. 

When tragedy strikes, there’s only one place she can turn - Fergus McKenzie. Once again she must whisk-joust with the attractive master of mockery who is now the local police Inspector.

Summer Breeze and Afternoon Teas is a delicious story of love and friendship, and what happens when a sprinkle of envy is added to the mix.

This is Book Two in the Camille Carter series - 'Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes' is Book One.

I've really enjoyed this second book in the Camille Carter series. I loved catching up with characters from the first book back at Craiglea Manor. 

The story starts nice and gently with a summer garden party, with descriptions of some of the edible goodies available, especially Millie's French Patisserie contributions, which had me wanting to join the party. We are also introduced to the guests that will be on the cookery course Millie will be running that week. 

However things don't go exactly to plan, which is when this book turns into far more of a cozy mystery, and I really enjoyed seeing if I could guess the culprit. I was convinced for ages that I knew exactly who did it and why but as is often the case not only were my first instincts wrong, so were my second! 

Summer Breeze and Afternoon Teas can definitely be read as a standalone novel, as all the important bits from book 1 are mentioned. It also is a great sequel, due to continual character growth, being able to catch up with old friends, and generally being a quick and easy read that was highly enjoyable.  

I am already eager to read the rest of the series, and hope it stays at this standard as they are such entertaining stories, and snapshots into the lives of Millie and her friends. 

Back Catalogue Books - Q&A with Ruth Saberton

Back Catalogue Books is my new regular Saturday feature, focusing on books that are not the latest releases. There is going to be a mix of Q&As and also reviews, depending on what I have the space for. 

If you are an author wanting to take part in Back Catalogue Books then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you. 

I hope everyone enjoys this weekly look back at some of the slightly older books that are about but still great, and that I eventually make a dent in my TBRs as a result of it!

Today I'm talking to the wonderful Ruth Saberton, author of amongst others the Polwenna Bay series that I absolutely love.

1) Please tell me about your first book, and what started you writing in the first place

I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember! As a child I filled endless notebooks with stories about ponies and forced my poor family to read them. I wrote all the way through university and always told myself that one day I would do this full time but of course mortgages and my teaching job took up a lot of time and although I carried on writing it felt like a distant dream.  A few years ago I decided that rather than just fantasising about being an author I was going to really go for it.  I wrote my first novel in about five months and writing it was the easy bit.  There then followed endless rejections from agents and publishers and it was soul destroying.  I didn’t give up though and writing about what I knew proved to be the key and I started Katy Carter Wants a Hero, the very fictional tale (!) of a teacher who dreams of being a best selling novelist.  This is the novel that was championed by Richard and Judy, hit the national press over the Easter weekend in 2011 and the rest is history!

2) How many books have you written and what are they?

I’ve written over twenty books now. (if you have a look at my website they are all listed. You might just want to pop a link on rather than a long list!) Eight are written under a variety of pen names from Jessica Fox to Georgie Carter as I was writing for different publishers and had a non compete clause as well as being a ghost writer for Working Partners. I’m currently working on the next book in my Cornish set Polwenna Bay series, RECIPE FOR LOVE, and a fun novella.

3) Which book are you most proud of writing?

I don’t think I could pick a book I am most proud of. That’s like asking a parent to chose their favourite child. Obviously I’m hugely fond of KATY CARTER WANTS A HERO as it was my first published novel and the one that started my writing journey but I know I have moved on as a writer now – seven years on! I’m hugely proud of my latest novel THE ISLAND LEGACY It’s sweeping romance set on a Cornish island and embraces the beauty of the county, mystery, a dark brooding hero and a spirited heroine. I’m hoping it will be a summer must read in 2017!
4) Which book was your favourite to write?

It’s always the book I’m writing at the time! That is the book that takes all my focus and passion.

5) Who are your favourite characters from your books and why?

I love Katy Carter, the hapless wannabe writer teacher heroine from KATY CARTER WANTS A HERO and KATY CARTER KEEPS A SECRET. She gets into all kinds of scrapes and none of them are based on me, of course not! I also have a soft spot for Ashley Carstairs the wealthy property developer with a devastating secret in the Polwenna Bay series and in my heart I’d love to be Amber from CHANCES, my pony novel, with her spirited Arab horse.

6) If you could go back and change anything from any of your books, what would it be, and why?

If I could go back in time and change anything from my books I think it would be to have started Indie publishing much sooner. Having creative freedom and building a publishing business has been so exciting and rewarding and I would have loved to have been there from the very early days. I also wish I’d written a best seller about boy wizards!

7) Which of your covers if your favourite and why?

My favourite cover is the original cover for my novel DEAD ROMANTIC. This is my paranormal romance about a non nonsense scientist who begins to have a some very strange experiences. The novel begins in the past when the heroine has a chance encounter with a handsome stranger on a snowy railway platform one Christmas Eve and my cover artist’s design transported me straight there. This is the book that I HAD to write because the characters were shouting at me to get their story down!

8) Have you ever thought about changing genres, if so what else would you like to write?

I’d love to write a sexy bonk buster! I have one half written on my lap top but I’m scared it will shock my readers! It has horses, motorbikes, sex, ambition, villains and a to die for bad boy hero and it’s great fun. One day, maybe. I also have an unfinished historical novel calling me…

9) Looking forward can you let us know what you are working on next?

I’m busy writing my next Polwenna Bay novel, RECIPE FOR LOVE, having just finished 2017’s Christmas book SEASON OF SECOND CHANCES. It’s felt like a very long Christmas!

10) I dare not ask for a favourite author, but is there any author’s back catalogue you admire and why?

I love Jilly Cooper! I have all her books from the early romances right through to MOUNT. I love the way that the RUTSHIRE CHRONICLES follow the characters from the early days of the 1970s right though to modern time. They feel like family and friends to me and I cried my eyes out when (spoiler alert) Billy Lloyd Fox dies. I’m also in awe of the back catalogues of American Indie writers like Bella Andre and Marie Force. They have written huge numbers of books and series of novels and readers are able to spend many happy hours with them. I’m doing my best to write as fast!

11) Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your back catalogue of books?

I’m incredibly proud of my big back catalogue of novels, especially when I remember that until 2016 I was teaching full time and writing in the evenings and at weekends. I truly love what I do and I look at each book with huge pride and fondness. ESCAPE FOR THE SUMMER was my first big Indie success and it really changed my life and enabled me to write full time so I’ll always be grateful to that one. CHANCES is my pony novel and has been #1 in the YA Kindle chart for weeks, and THE ISLAND LEGACY is the first in my new collection of sweeping romantic reads in the tradition of Daphne Du Maurier and Rosamunde Pilcher. I’d love my readers to have a wander through my previous books.There are lots of new adventures ahead!

Thank you Ruth for coming to talk about your back catalogue, I really should read your Katy Carter series, and also love the Rutshire Chronicles by Jilly Cooper.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Book Review - Dead Souls by Angela Marsons - #AroundTheUKIn144Books #Worcestershire

Amazon UK
Title: Dead Souls
Author: Angela Marsons
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 28th April 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

The truth was dead and buried…until now.

When a collection of human bones is unearthed during a routine archaeological dig, a Black Country field suddenly becomes a complex crime scene for Detective Kim Stone.

As the bones are sorted, it becomes clear that the grave contains more than one victim. The bodies hint at unimaginable horror, bearing the markings of bullet holes and animal traps.

Forced to work alongside Detective Travis, with whom she shares a troubled past, Kim begins to uncover a dark secretive relationship between the families who own the land in which the bodies were found. 

But while Kim is immersed in one of the most complicated investigations she’s ever led, her team are caught up in a spate of sickening hate crimes. Kim is close to revealing the truth behind the murders, yet soon finds one of her own is in jeopardy - and the clock is ticking. Can she solve the case and save them from grave danger – before it’s too late?

An addictive, sinister crime thriller that will have readers on the edge of their seat.

If you are a fan of the DI Kim stone series then you need to buy and read this book now, it is just that amazing. If you have never read any before, either start here as its amazing, or go back to the beginning of the series, as all the books so far have been brilliant. ...


....Oh you're still here? Does that mean I need to tell you more than just that this is a gripping, unpredictable story that has such an immersive and scary and frankly sickening conclusion that I couldn't dare put it down? 

Actually the first bit of the book I was oddly unsettled by, unlike other books in the DI Kim Stone series, I wasn't instantly enamoured by it, and I think it was just as it took me a while to get used to fa few things.

Due to the location of where the first body during an archeological dig was found, on the border of two forces, Kim has to joint lead the investigation with Detective Travis and mainly using Detective Travis' team. This lead Bryant and Dawson partnering up on their own investigation, while Stacey tries to provide support while also really coming into her own as a character in this book. 

Due to the various storyline threads, and the occasional look at things from a non victim's point of view, the focus of each chapter was different so it just took me some time to get into the rhythm of the book. Once I fully understood and more importantly started to properly care about all the various investigations, I could have been more hooked if I tried. 

What I would love to know though, is what on earth goes through Angela Marsons head when she came up with the sheer disgustingness of the crimes involved. There is especially towards the end some of the most vivid writing I've read, and I was feeling slightly queasy as I was reading as a result. 

Dead Souls has done a lot for character progression for the series, with the new working challenges Kim and her normal team have to undergo. I loved seeing how various hunches of theirs turned out, and I was so interested in the book and hooked, especially as the pace was upped, I didn't even come up with any theories myself, I was content to sit back and enjoy the journey! 

Given I'm positive I said Blood Lines was my favourite in the series, I think this is now equal favourite but for different reasons. Dead Souls is a cleverly crafted book, which was unpredictable and completely absorbing. All that is left to say is please don't make me wait as long for the next installment, as I really hate waiting! 

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Bookouture for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Guest Post - What is it about Venice? by T.A. Williams - Blog Tour

Trevor (TA) Williams talks about the setting of his latest romantic comedy, Dreaming of Venice

   A city without streets, a place without cars, a series of islands of incredible beauty, packed with historical gems, a household name whose history reaches right back to the Middle Ages. What’s not to like?

   Well, the first problem is that Venice is the victim of its own success. Ask anybody who has gone there in the summer, at Carnevale time, or in the school holidays. It’s positively claustrophobic. The charming, atmospheric little lanes become choked as crowds of tourists struggle for breathing space. Queues for museums, galleries and events are never-ending. And don’t think that, simply because there aren’t any cars, it’s wonderfully quiet. The hordes of boats of every shape and size chugging up and down the canals, combined with the voices of the hundreds of thousands of tourists, result in the place echoing with noise much of the time.

   The next problem is the fact that Venice is really, really expensive. Even just getting round in the famous waterbuses, the Vaporetti, costs as much as a taxi in other parts of the world. Hotel prices range from ouch to astronomical, and the restaurants charge the earth and are still packed.
   So why go there and why set a book there?

   First of all, the answer to the question of why go there, is that Venice is truly, marvellously, unique. What’s more, it’s a city with a sell-by date. Every high tide, every wave, every big cruise-liner that pushes its way into the lagoon removes a bit more of Venice’s foundations. And global warming is inexorably resulting in a rise in sea levels. Everywhere you go in Venice, you’ll see piles of what look like metal-framed tables. These are walkways for those days when huge chunks of the city are flooded. Venice is a bit like the rhino or the elephant; heading for extinction. But there won’t be any Venices in zoos to look at in years to come. 

   So, you have to go there, but how to do it? Well, it’s all a question of timing. I’ve been a few times, but the best was just before Christmas. According to the locals, the week before Christmas week is just about the quietest of times. When we were there then, it was wonderfully quiet. We managed to get a great hotel at an affordable price and suddenly, the city took on another aspect entirely. You could wander round without bumping into other people, you could really appreciate the sad magnificence of the place and you could find seats in restaurants. So, my advice would be to go in December.

   As for Dreaming of Venice, I’ve set it at that time of year and I hope I’ve managed to convey some of the sense of awe the city inspires every time I go there. My main protagonist, Penny, has spent her life dreaming of Venice (she’s an artist) and for her, this visit to the serene city, La Serenissima, is a dream come true. She wanders round the back lanes, crossing tiny bridges, alongside canals barely a couple of metres wide, past houses gradually crumbling under the effects of the water, and she loves it. It’s freezing cold there in December, but she wraps up well and immerses herself in the atmosphere and the unique feel of this most wonderful of cities. Hopefully, you’ll get a sense of how much I love the place and, maybe, if you have the chance, you’ll follow my footsteps and hers and visit Venice. You won’t regret it.    

Thanks Trevor for this great look at Venice. I spent an evening there last summer on a cruise and it was very hot and busy, but I still had a good time.

Dreaming of Venice
by T. A. Williams

Find love, friendship and prosecco – in the magical city of Venice.

Life is tough for Penny. A dead end job in a London café, a boyfriend in Australia (what could go wrong?) and an art career going nowhere. But then Penny is approached with an extraordinary proposition.

It isn’t going to be easy but, if she can pull it off, she will turn her life around and at long last see the fulfilment of her dream – to visit Venice. And, just maybe, find true happiness with the handsome man of her dreams.

But can dreams come true?

Information about the Book

Title: Dreaming of Venice
Author: T. A. Williams
Release Date: 24th April 2017
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Canelo
Format: Ebook

Author Information

My name is Trevor Williams. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, "Dirty Minds" one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn't possibly comment. Ask my wife...

My background, before taking up writing full time, was in teaching and I was principal of a big English language school for many years. This involved me in travelling all over the world and my love of foreign parts is easy to find in my books. I speak a few languages and my Italian wife and I still speak Italian together.

I've written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I'm enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. My most recent books are the What happens… series. What happens in Tuscany reached #1 in the Romantic Comedy chart and What Happens on the Beach, the last in the series, came out in July. Chasing Shadows is still romance, but with the added spice of a liberal helping of medieval history, one of my pet hobbies. I do a lot of cycling and I rode all the way to Santiago de Compostela on a bike a few years back. This provided both the inspiration and the background research for Chasing Shadows.

I’m originally from Exeter, and I’ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away down here in south west England. I love the place.

Tour Schedule

Monday 24th April

Tuesday 25th April

Wednesday 26th April

Thursday 27th April

Friday 28th April

Saturday 29th April

Sunday 30th April

Monday 1st May

Tuesday 2nd May

Wednesday 3rd May

Thursday 4th May

Friday 5th May

Saturday 6th May

Sunday 7th May

Book Review - Four Bridesmaids and a White Wedding by Fiona Collins - #AroundTheUKIn144Books #Wiltshire

Amazon UK
Title: Four Bridesmaids and a White Wedding
Author: Fiona Collins
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: 5 Stars
Rating: 28th April 2017

Don’t tell the bride!
Rose, Sal and JoJo have been looking forward to their best friend Wendy’s hen party for ages. A relaxing spa break is the perfect way to escape their crazy careers, grumpy husbands and stroppy children – even if the groom’s straight-laced sister, Tamsin, is coming too.

Until they realise that there’s been a mistake in the booking and instead of sipping prosecco in fluffy white dressing gowns they’re off to bridesmaid bootcamp!

Squeezing themselves reluctantly into tiny shorts and sliding through the mud, it’s only a matter of time before secrets emerge that could change everything…

Forget about saving the date, these four bridesmaids need to save the day – otherwise will there even be a white wedding at all?

Light hearted and a lot of fun,  a story that is guaranteed to leave you smiling. All this from an author that really is becoming a fast favourite of mine, when I'm in the mood for some good natured entertainment, with a lovely cast of characters and so many moments to make you giggle. 

This is the story of a small hen party, the bride (Wendy), her three best friends (JoJo, Sal and Rose) and her soon to be sister-in-law (Tamsin) who she has never met before. Wendy hadn't wanted a hen party but when JoJo booked a sumptuous weekend away of pampering in a luxury retreat in Wiltshire, she couldn't resist. 

However once the arrive at the retreat, it soon becomes apparent that workaholic and mega organized JoJo accidently checked the wrong box so instead of a weekend of pampering, they are now on a health and fitness retreat that includes no alcohol, assault causes, hot yoga, mind gymnastics, rafting and more. 

Yet would you believe, the wrong package isn't what has the biggest potential to mess up their weekend? For nothing is ever simple, and there really is a big surprise for Wendy not long into the hen party. 

Each chapter focuses on either Sal, Rose and JoJo, so we really get to know a lot more about the three main bridesmaids. They have been friends for years but they are all hiding things that will come out over the course of the party. They also have the new challenge too of allowing Tamsin into their group, as she is from a rather different background to the other girls. 

Four Bridesmaids and a White Wedding is pure unadulterated fun, there is pretty much no other way I can describe it. It such an easy to read story, and I loved getting to know the very different circumstances of our bridesmaids, and see how over the course of a weekend, their opinions, and attitudes to love can change. I also thoroughly enjoyed seeing how the girls coped with the assault course and other elements of this retreat, as it is far outside most of their comfort zones.  Overall is a very enjoyable book, and a joy to read. 

Thank you so much to Netgalley and HQ Digital  for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Book Review - Playing By The Rules by Rosa Temple

Amazon UK
Title: Playing By The Rules
Author: Rosa Temple
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: 15th February 2017
Rating: 4 Stars

On the 3rd of August, I died. Well, not literally, but it felt like my life was over. Melodramatic? Me? Just a teensy bit…

When workshy socialite Magenta Bright learns that inheritance comes with one horrific condition, she mentally kisses goodbye to the money. Get a job and keep it for a year? Not likely.

Naïve CEO Anthony Shearman is persuaded to hire her as his PA, and Magenta decides to stick it out, if only because of her sexy boss. But between the bitchy receptionist, Anthony’s beautiful fiancée and not having a clue how to be a career girl, Magenta barely makes it to the end of her first day.

So, just 364 to go then…

Great mix of fun, giggle inducing writing and with two potential love interests that kept me guessing until really close to the end. 

Magenta's life really starts to change when she is informed about her inheritance, or more specifically the conditions attached to it.  So long as she can stay in continuous employment at the same company for a whole year, she will inherit, otherwise its a long wait until she is in her 40s to be eligible. 

For Magenta has never held a job for longer than 2 months at a time, and it appears on the surface at least she is the outsider in her high flying family who all seem to have far more determination to succeed than she does. 

She gets a job purely as one of her sisters pulls in a favour, but the CEO, Anthony Shearman is actually more clueless at business than she is, so its fantastic to see them pull together and learn a lot about themselves and each other, and just what they are capable of. 

There are two potential men in her life, and I enjoyed seeing her agonise over ways to distract herself and her heart from either of them for the majority of the story. She was reasonably determined to stay single, at whatever cost to her happiness. 

I loved Magenta's family, there is just something about their dynamics that was great to see, and the party that was given to celebrate Magenta first getting the job is hilarious. Magenta's best friend was also great character, even if her accent could get slightly annoying at times. 

Playing By The Rules is just generally a light hearted, entertaining story that doesn't take itself too seriously, but is a coming of age story of sorts for Magenta. 

Thank you so much to Netgalley and HQ Digital for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 
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