Friday 31 March 2017

Book Review - A Life Without You by Shari Low - #AroundTheUKIn144Books #Glasgow

Amazon UK
Title: A Life Without You
Author: Shari Low
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Aria
Publication Date: 1st April 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

Touching, funny, and bittersweet, this is a story that will make you laugh, cry, and call your best friend to tell her you love her.

Dee and Jen have been best friends since their days of teenage crushes, bad 90's make-up and huge hair. 

They’ve passed every milestone of their lives together and now in their thirties own a successful boutique, sharing a bond that is as strong as the closest of sisters.

Until one day everything changes. 

Dee is gone, killed by a reckless driver, leaving Jen to face the harsh reality of a world without her. 

Jen vows to honour Dee’s dreams and take care of everything and everyone she loved. 

Until she realises that sometimes the only way forward is to let go of the past.

Well the opening chapter was certainly incredibly dramatic, I couldn't tear my eyes away from the action, even though the end result was devastating. From then on the whole story navigates around a family and friends that are coming to terms with the tragic death of Dee, who even in the memories, often added the boost to chapters, she was larger than life, and full of laughter and love. 

The main living character in the book is Jen, who was Dee's best friend. She is pretty much part of the family, as Dee's parents have been surrogate parenting Jen since their teens. Jen and Dee were barely ever parted as they worked together, and with their respective other halves often went out or away as a foursome. They were incredibly close, but that isn't the only loss that Jen is dealing with...let's just say she spent too many years of her life with an incredibly insensitive <insert rude word here!>

Then there is Val, Dee's mum, who is bereft and not even having her son Mark, back from Australia for an extended period of time, is helping her grief. She isn't just upset though, but angry, and there are some moment of absolutely almost madness from her that if it weren't for the circumstances would be hilarious. 

The other main perspective we get is of Luke, who is now widowed and no idea what to do with his life. Understandably he has lost the love of his life, but with almost indecent speed he already has offers if he is lonely. 

Although there is a great deal of emotion in this book, there are also humorous moments, in addition to hope for the future of these characters as time progresses. I felt like by the end that I could have been one of Val's children, I had that much love for her. If you are looking for funny bits then Josie and Ida are the characters to look out for. Josie especially is a rock for the family, has the uncanny knack of knowing what to say and generally feels a bit outrageous! 

 A Life Without You is a wonderful bittersweet story, full of grief but just the hints of new beginnings. The book has been written beautifully and I really enjoyed the whole story. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Aria for this copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Thursday 30 March 2017

Book Review - Chalet Girls by Lorraine Wilson

Amazon UK
Title: Chalet Girls
Author: Lorraine Wilson
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 10th February 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

What happens when life in Verbier suddenly goes off-piste?

Lucy’s been bowled over by the sexy extreme skier who’s hurtled into her life. But can she accept Seb’s commitment to his adrenaline-filled career?

Trusting any man is out of the question after what’s happened to Beth. So why is she so drawn to twinkly-eyed Dan when he’s leaving at the end of the season?

Sophie’s madly in love with her gorgeous fiancĂ©, Luc. Only instead of gleefully planning the winter wedding of her dreams, all she wants is to run and hide…

Three Chalet Girls are about to strap on their skis and find out!

I'm over the moon with my long awaited fictional return to Verbier, home of the the wonderful Chalet Girls. I love the action on the slopes but its the apres ski, and the relationships that really appeal to me too. Within minutes of my spotting the first mention of some of the longest running recurring characters in this series, I felt as though I had come home. 

If you haven't read any of the previous chalet girls novellas then don't worry as this can easily be read as a standalone, and all the relevant back story is included.  If you have read even some of the others, you may well recognise Holly, Tash and Sophie and you will see how their stories are progressing. 

In fact Sophie is one of the three girls this book is focusing on, and up coming nuptials with the incredibly sexy Luc. Then there is Lucy who  has had a rather sheltered upbringing, but she can't help but fall for Seb, the adrenaline filled extreme skier. Beth on the other hand, is new to Verbier and its clear something has rocked her world back in the UK, as she seems rather nervous but also determined. 

With all three of our main girls there are in amongst the romance and sex filled storylines, they each have their own problems to overcome, which do add some more serious moments to this generally light hearted novel. 

I found Chalet Girls incredibly pleasurable to read on so many levels, that I did have to take a break half way through, or I would have needed a cold shower, from the heat level of the more intimate scenes. I always enjoy Lorraine Wilson's descriptions of men and sex, and even though this is a longer book than the rest of the Chalet Girls, the pace and intimacy levels don't drop off or become stale. 

I really don't think there was any element of the Chalet Girls that I didn't thoroughly enjoy.  I love the setting of Verbier, delving deeper into the lives of Lucy, Sophie and Beth and their men, and I just wish I had any sense of balance so I could visit and enjoy the slopes for myself! 

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

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Book Review - A Manor in Cornwall by Laura Briggs

Amazon UK
Title:  A Manor in Cornwall
Author: Laura Briggs
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied review copy
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 29th March 2017
Rating: 4 Stars

Now that Julianne's happily ending is secure, her career as Cliffs House's event planner is suddenly busier than ever. Thanks to a Cornish singing sensation's upcoming concert at Cliffs House, and her promise to plan the perfect wedding for Pippa, Julianne hasn't a moment to spare for Matthew or his plans for a weekend outing at Pencarrow. But she's determined to find a way without letting down Ceffylgwyn for its big moment, or disappointing Pippa on the biggest day of her friend's life.

With a starstruck crew of volunteers, a persistent American event planner, and a seemingly ill-chosen assistant in the form of the village's former troublemaker, Julianne has her hands full, as usual. And it will take all of her friends, a few surprise twists, and -- of course -- her beloved Matthew to see her through it.

I'd only had the book a few hours before I couldn't resist the pull of returning to this marvellous series, which turned out to be a great decision, as A Manor in Cornwall is another strong addition to the series. 

It can definitely be read as a standalone, and the focus of this book has moved away from Julianne's love life, and is more about the two rather different events she is now working on at Cliffs House, for the same weekend, to the extent that she barely gets to see Matthew at all. 

The two events are on opposite size and scale ranges, there is a huge concert from a local opera singer, which requires Julianne to turn to the villagers to get a whole army of helper in to help out with, including one girl that she thinks has potential to be an assistant, but the other staff at Cliffs House are aware of the girls reputation and try to discourage Julianne from it. 

The other event is Pippa's wedding. Pippa has been a longstanding character in this series, and she is finally getting married, but she wants a fairytale style wedding on a shoestring budget and for Julianne to organise it. 

I loved seeing not only how the two events came together, but also the way Julianne was dealing with her new temporary assistant. 

A Manor in Cornwall is an easy to read, reasonably short novella, that is a great addition to this series of books set in a gorgeous part of Cornwall. With each book I feel as though I know the main characters that bit better, and as a result enjoy reading about them that bit more.  

Thank you so much to Laura Briggs for this copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

Book Review - The Bluebell Bunting Society by Poppy Dolan

Amazon UK
Title:  The Bluebell Bunting Society
Author: Poppy Dolan
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Canelo
Publication Date: 27th March 2017
Rating: 4 Stars

Welcome to Bluebell Hall. Pull up a wonky chair, grab a cream bun and settle into a story about a little village, a determined caretaker – and bunting.

At twenty-nine, Connie isn’t quite where she thought she’d be. When her beloved gran died Connie returned to Hazelhurst, the village she grew up in, and took over her gran’s old job as caretaker at the village hall. It might not be the stuff of dreams, but Connie loves working at Bluebell Hall – the heart of the community fuelled by copious cups of tea.

So when Bluebell Hall is threatened with closure, Connie is determined not to let greedy property developers get their hands on it. She hatches a plan bonkers enough that it just might work. All it takes is a needle and thread, scraps of old material and willing hands.

Can Connie convince the people of Hazelhurst that their village hall is worth saving? And will she save herself in the process…?

If you love bunting then you are definitely in the right place. If on the other hand like me and you really can't work out what all the fuss about lots of triangles strung together is, then not to worry, as in amongst all of the bunting, there is a charming story, that I really enjoyed reading. 

The whole purpose of the newly created Bluebell Bunting Society is to help to try and save Bluebell Hall from closure, and they have only been given 30 days to get the hall's visitor numbers up. Personally I would have possibly preferred the original idea for the sewing club, as it would have been a lot funnier, reading about a knicker sewing group!

Connie has inherited the caretaker role of the hall from her grandmother and has been at it for four years. She still isn't sure whether this is really what she wants to do with her life, nor does she have any other ideas, but Bluebell Hall is in her blood and she is determined to do a good job. 

What I enjoy in books like this, including this one is the small village feel, and Hazelhurst definitely that had. I'm not exactly sure where Hazelhurst is, but its a charming village and I really enjoyed meeting the various people, including the ones most instrumental in helping Connie try to save the hall. 

I love small town communities and also reading about crafting, so this has a lovely cozy feel to the whole book. It felt rather calm reading it, and really enjoyed the story.  I could really picture the bunting, and I loved the Bluebells and the Scouts when they meet, and all the activities that Connie ran with the Bluebells (Hazelhurst answers to brownies). 

Thanks to a mix of old and new friends, the campaigns and promotions that are thought up to save the hall are incredibly creative, and one in particular really caught my imagination. 

Thank you to Canelo and Netgalley for this copy of the book which I have reviewed voluntarily and honestly. 


Poppy Dolan lives in Berkshire with her husband. She's a near-obsessive baker and a keen crafter, so on a typical weekend can be found moving between the haberdashery and kitchenware floors of a department store, adding to her birthday wish list. She has written three novels: The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp, There's More to Life than Cupcakes and most recently The Bluebell Bunting Society. The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp made it into the Amazon top 100 bestseller chart, so clearly someone other than her mum must have read it. She's currently working on her fourth novel – it's about friends, siblings and crafty things – and drinking far too much tea.


The Bluebell Bunting Society by Poppy Dolan is published on 27th March by Canelo,
price £1.99 as an ebook

Website and buy links: 

Author Twitter @poppydwriter (and on Facebook at /PoppyDolanBooks)

Publisher Twitter @Canelo_co 

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Book Review - This Love by Dani Atkins

Amazon UK
Title: This Love
Author: Dani Atkins
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Goodie Bag
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 23rd March 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

Sophie stopped believing in happy endings a long time ago, but could this love change all of that?

Sophie Winter lives in a self-imposed cocoon - she's a single, 31-year-old translator who works from home in her one-bedroom flat. This isn’t really the life she dreamed of, but then Sophie stopped believing in dreams when she was a teenager and tragedy struck her family.

So, to be safe, she keeps everyone at arm’s length. Sophie understands she has a problem, but recognising it and knowing how to fix it are two entirely different things.

One night a serious fire breaks out in the flat below hers. Sophie is trapped in the burning building until a passer-by, Ben, sees her and rescues her.

Suddenly her cocoon is shattered - what will be the consequences of this second life-changing event?

Emotionally drained is one way of describing how I feel after reading this simply spectacular book, I have found completely unputdownable from start to finish. 

It is a book that begins with high drama and really hooks you into the action and introduces you at the same time to the main characters, Sophie who usually leads a rather reclusive life, for very understandable reasons that you find out as the book progresses to Ben who is instantly cast in the hero role, but whether he is too good to be true is to be seen. 

There is a great deal of depth to both Sophie and Ben and very little in this book goes particularly smoothly, there always seems to be back story to be revealed, which it is on a need to know basis. 

In This Love there is so much going on but realistically if I mention any specifics I feel like I would be spoiling your enjoyment of the tension, or the turns that the book takes. The writing grabs you instantly and just doesn't let you go, even after the book has ended. 

There were moments that I sat there gasping open mouthed as I didn't expect the story to go in that direction, there were some more light hearted moments too, but on the whole this is a book that you will almost certainly need a box of tissues by your side, if you are even slightly more emotional than I am! 

This Love is a story unsurprisingly about love, please note I mean love and not necessarily romance. It deals with the love of a family, love of friendship, as well as falling in love against perhaps your better judgment. It surrounds these themes as well as a lot more into a compelling story 

It isn't just about Ben and Sophie, their friends play a huge part in the book too, often providing some light relief. Watch out for Carla the hairdresser, an incident involving a rolling pin, and Sophie's best friend's husband Gary putting his foot in his mouth big time. 

In a story that is as dramatic as it is emotional, as tender and touching as it is amusing, there is one thing I can say for certain. This Love is a fabulous story, written by an incredibly talented author, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone! My only suggestion would be to make sure you set aside a day to read this, ideally somewhere you won't be interrupted as I can promise you will resent anyone besides Sophie and Ben trying to get your attention! 

Monday 27 March 2017

Book Review - Sins of the Father by Sheryl Browne - Rachel Reads Randomly Book #58

Amazon UK
Title: Sins of the Father
Author: Sheryl Browne
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Choc Lit
Publication Date: 28th February 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

What if you’d been accused of one of the worst crimes imaginable?

Detective Inspector Matthew Adams is slowly picking up the pieces from a case that nearly cost him the lives of his entire family and his own sanity too. On the surface, he seems to be moving on, but he drinks to forget and when he closes his eyes, the nightmares still come.

But the past is the past or is it? Because the evil Patrick Sullivan might be out of the picture, but there’s somebody who is just as intent on making Matthew’s life hell, and they’re doing it in the cruelest way possible.

When Matthew finds himself accused of a horrific and violent crime, will his family stand by him? And will he even be around to help when his new enemy goes after them as well?

I've barely taken a breath for the entirety of the second half of this book, it has completely had me hooked, and I feel as though Sheryl Browne has completely bamboozled me with what I thought I knew and how it turned out. 

This is the sequel to After She's Gone and although in theory it could be read as a standalone, I really think it would be best if you read the wonderful first book first, partly as its brilliant, and partly because it had been over a years since I read it, and I found it hard to re-connect to the characters at first, although things came back to me slowly. For that reason I can't fully judge how much this does work as a standalone. 

I have nothing but armfuls of compassion for the incredibly unlucky DI Matthew Adams, so seems to have a knack of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, with horrific consequences, not just for himself but for the entirety of his family. 

We are introduced to the villain of the book very early on, and showed some things from both points of view, but the author was really careful in only giving us snapshots into the world of crazy! This person is cruel, calculated and seems determined to destroy Matthew. 

Matthew also suffers from what appears to be crippling asthma, as a mild asthma sufferer myself, I am amazed at just how bad his condition is, but also amazed how often he didn't seem to know where his inhaler was. I make sure mine is always with me, and I barely need it thankfully. 

I may though have made one vital mistake reading this book, I was at home alone, and kept thinking I could hear sounds in the house, which just added to the atmosphere of the read, but has left me jumpy as anything, and I am dreading going to bed as I have a feeling this will have an affect of my sleep or dreams! However this should just be seen as a compliment as to just how good this book is, in that it was making me feel that way. 

Sins of the Father is a brilliantly crafted story, that ramps up the intensity as the book goes along, culminating in a thrilling finale and kept me guessing to the last few pages.  The book is a pleasure to read at all times (well as much as a pleasure as being scared witless at points, and seeing horrible things happen to people can be), and really does justice to  the continuation of the DI Matthew Adams story. 

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

Thank you so much to Sheryl Browne, and her mad cap sisters on twitter and my comments last week, which put up such a great fight against Kitty French and the Bookouture team, that it made me decide I had to read this book too, instantly. Thank you to those who told me to make sure I had the time to read this in one sitting...took me a couple of sittings but still only half a day so glad you let me know.   

The review of the winning vote book has just been posted, alongside this one, and I really hope everyone enjoys both the reviews! 

Just a quick note to say the vote will be back, but is taking a temporary break while I sort out my current health issues..nothing too serious but enough to make sorting extra bits for the blog a bit painful at the moment. 

Book Review - Mystery at Maplemead Castle by Kitty French - Rachel Reads Randomly Book #58

Amazon UK
Title: Mystery at Maplemead Castle
Author: Kitty French
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 17th March 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

Welcome to Chapelwick, a leafy English town in the hills of Shropshire, where chocolate pecan cookies come with a helping of sabotage.

Maplemead Castle is crawling with ghosts, and the new owners need them gone. When Melody Bittersweet and the Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency arrive on scene, they quickly identify the troublemakers swinging from the chandeliers… literally. 

A century ago, stunning trapeze artist Britannia Lovell plunged to her death, and has done every night since. But did she really just fall, or was there something more to her demise?

Forced to work with Leo Dark, her scoundrel ex, and infuriating, irresistible reporter Fletcher Gunn, Melody’s investigative powers are under strain (i.e. lost in a pink mist of lust and confusion). She needs her team on top form, but best friend Marina’s cake pipeline goes AWOL, assistant Artie’s distracted by a giant sausage roll, and the pug is scared witless by a lion.

Somewhere, hidden in the castle, is a heart-breaking secret, but what will it take to find it? And is there a chance it could set Britannia free, or is she doomed to repeat her last fateful act forever?

Easily one of the funniest books I've ever read. There is so much about this book that just hit my funny bones in the right way and the amount of times I was giggling out loud to myself was great. 

I never knew ghostbusting could be so much fun, maybe I should go watch that film! In fact until I started reading these Chapelwick Mysteries, I never realised I could potentially enjoy a story which featured ghosts. And its the way that the ghosts are portrayed that makes my skepticism towards all things supernatural stay at bay while I read this book. 

For Melody Bittersweet is just an ordinary girl, but with a rather extraordinary ability, as she introduces herself in book 1, she states "I see dead people". It just so happens she see the ghosts that surround us all as living beings, and she can converse with them as though they are still living. Of course to her friends she looks as though she is talking to herself, but luckily at her Ghostbusting agency, Marina her best friend and new friend Artie are quick to back her up and offer assistance as they try to solve the mysteries that keep some ghosts routed to the here and now, instead of free to go wherever is they are meant to! 

Now in Mystery at Maplemead Castle there aren't just human ghosts that Melody has to deal with, there is a rather unusual ghost called Goliath, who I loved Melody, and also Leo (a rival ghosthunter)'s first encounter with . For the ghosts in question that are causing havoc at Maplemead castle are a ringmaster and two trapeze artists, and Goliath is a ghostly lion! 

One of my favourite scenes involves Lestat, Melody's pug who has never really seemed to notice ghosts before, has an encounter with Goliath.  I was laughing my head off at it, and just one of  so many amusing moments.  Pretty much anything Melody says while she is around skeptical reporter Fletcher Gunn is funny, as she can't seem to think straight. There is undeniable chemistry between them, despite Fletcher thinking Melody is a charlatan! 

It was great to be reunited with characters from The Skeletons of Scarborough House, and although this is book two of a series,  it can easily be read as a standalone. The mystery in this book is not related to the previous, and all the relevant details for the recurring cast are repeated, so that newcomers can know all the useful informations about them. 

I loved meeting the ghosts in this book, and their story was really enjoyable. I also loved the renewed rivalry between Leo and Melody, and also Melody and Fletcher, and Fletcher and Leo...all around fun with the interactions between the three. 

Overall I just found Mystery at Maplemeads Castle to be a highly entertaining story, from a series I can't get enough of, and  is a series I would urge you to take a chance on if you like laughing, are interested in ghost busting, mysteries or all around fun story writing, great dialogue and just slightly over the top characters!

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

Thank you also to everyone that took part in last weeks voting, especially Kim Nash, Holly Martin, Kitty French and Sheryl Browne for such an amusing evening on twitter while you all were campaigning for this or Sins of the Fathers. 

Just a quick note to say the vote will be back, but is taking a temporary break while I sort out my current health issues..nothing too serious but enough to make sorting extra bits for the blog a bit painful at the moment. 

Sunday 26 March 2017

Book Review - Don't Stop Me Now by Colleen Coleman - Fab Firsts - Blog Tour

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!

This is a debut novel from Colleen Coleman that was published on Wednesday. 

Amazon UK
Title: Don't Stop Me Now
Author: Colleen Coleman
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 22nd March 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

A hilarious feel good read about finding your feet when life pulls the rug out from under you.

Poppy Bloom planned to finish her PhD and walk straight into a job at her university. But here she is, unemployed, unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend, and living back at her mum’s in her vampire-themed childhood bedroom.

Not exactly what she was hoping for.

But when Poppy sets her mind to something, nothing can stand in her way. She scores herself an internship at the hottest radio station in town, joins a netball team, and renews her friendship with her oldest friend Leanne. Spending time with Leanne’s gorgeous twin Tom is just a bonus…

But life has a way of tripping you up when you least expect it, and Poppy soon has to decide where her priorities lie… With new friends, a new career and a new romance, can Poppy keep everyone happy, or is everything about to tumble down around her? 

Inspiring and entertaining, Don't Stop Me Now shows that even if you life isn't really going according to your plan that has been set in stone for you, that fate really knows what its doing, in giving you a push in another direction. 

Take Poppy Bloom for example, she has been working towards a fellowship at Banbridge for the last 10 years of the life. She now has her PHD when the university decides it will take a different tact this year. Not only throwing Poppy's life into turmoil, but also destroying her relationship with her boyfriend and best friend too. 

In the weeks that follow, Poppy makes some big changes in her life and finds what is arguably her true calling, and I loved watching every step of the journey. She also embraces a childhood friend, plays Netball for the first time in years, and generally her life is slotting into place...but she is still convinced she wants her old dreams. 

There is a scene involving a job centre that has to be mentioned, the careers facilitator seemed to far less qualified for any job than Poppy, and some of the suggestions and questions the computer came up with were hilarious. As was the discussion about her being a doctor! 

There are very many other comic moments in this story, and others that generally just brought a smile to my face. I absolutely loved her old friend Leanne, and the Netball team, what a fab group of girls, and is it wrong to be jealous that they get to play at an Olympic venue, despite being fictional characters, when the best I ever did with Netball was the club for people that couldn't get into the main squad! 

Don't Stop Me Now kept me enthralled while I was on a long train journey, and I found it to be a fairly quick and easy read. I am very eager to see what else this talented author will write. 

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

About the author

Colleen Coleman is an Irish-Canadian novelist. She is the winner of the much-coveted Novelicious Undiscovered People’s Choice Award launched to find the next ‘chick-lit star’. She spent over ten years working as a teacher of English and Philosophy before finally taking a deep breath, scrunching her eyes shut, putting her pen to paper and vowing not to lift it again until she wrote the words The End. As a result, her first novel was born. Colleen lives between London, Ireland and Cyprus with her very patient husband and very, very chatty twin daughters. Don’t Stop Me Now is her first book and will be released in March.

Fab Firsts - Q&A with Jessikah Hope Stenson

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!

Please welcome Jessika Hope Stenson who will be talking about Trace This Scar today.

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

Trace This Scar is about a woman named Daphne who is convinced her husband is innocent of murder. When he is serving his time in prison Daphne starts to try and move on with her life and meets a man called Jamie but the past keeps chasing them and starts informing their future.

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

 I love keeping people guessing and giving clues to I’ve also loved writing dark stories with lots of twists. The first line of Trace This Scar – “I knew he was innocent from the start” – just came to me one day and I went from there.

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

Around three months for the first draft then many months of re-writing and editing. All in all from the first day of writing to publication it was just under a year which is insanely fast in the publishing world.

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

I think I’d have slowed the pace a little as many readers have found it quite a whirlwind to devour. I’d take the time to explore some of the more subtle aspects, like poverty and drugs.

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

Sort of in between. I published with Excalibur Press who ‘traditionally’ published me however they are primarily a vanity publishing company. I say ‘traditional’ in quotes because I got a lot more creative control than most traditionally published authors do – such as when it came to choosing the cover and marketing plan.

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

Don’t be afraid to publish, especially if you’re young. I used to think I’d need to be at least 45 to have the experience to write a good novel but I don’t think anything, even age, should hold you back. Just go for it.

Tell us about your first…

7) Holiday you went on 

Down in North Devon when my parents went hiking and my dad carried me on his back the whole time.

8) Sport you enjoyed participating in 

Gymnastics. Whenever the Olympics is on I always wish I’d stuck with it or could go back in time to being able to throw myself through the air.

9) Time you were in trouble 

The first memory I have of being in trouble was when I was around four years old and a girl in my nursery bought in a Barbie ball for show and tell. I decided I wanted it and tried to take it home… 

10) … time you felt like an adult 

Paying my first gas and electricity bill… or Maybe signing a housing contract (eek!)

11) Dish you cooked 

Probably a curry. I am from Birmingham after all and I went through a phase when I first learnt to cook of having curry around three nights a week.

12) ..time you bought or received flowers 

Still waiting for this first (cough boyfriend cough)

Well I hope you got some flowers for Valentines this year, and wow yes paying utility bills probably would make anyone feel like an adult. Thanks so much Jessikah for answering my questions.

About the author

Jessikah Hope Stenson is an author, book blogger and journalist. She currently studies English at the University of Exeter where she is also the Editor-In-Chief of PearShaped Music Magazine. In her spare time, she enjoys slam poetry, listening to Paramore and curling up with a good book.

Link to my book:


Saturday 25 March 2017

Book Review - Promises to Keep by Patricia Sands - Back Catalogue Books

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!

This is the second book in the Love in Provence series, which I have been looking forward to reading since finishing the first book! 

Amazon UK
Title: Promises to Keep
Author: Patricia Sands
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied copy
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing 
Publication Date: 13th October 2015
Rating: 4.5 Stars

The painful memories from her life back in Toronto will never be distant enough, but Katherine Price finds peace under the autumn sky in the South of France…and a deepening, dizzying love with Philippe. Together, they savor the delicacies and splendor of life, toasting to a future filled with happiness and hope—a life far away from the heartache they both knew so well.

But during a trip to the medieval village of Entrevaux, a strange note turns into a dangerous car chase. Philippe reveals he has a troubling secret—and the couple’s new life together threatens to crumble before it can begin. Now that Katherine has everything she’s ever wanted, is she about to lose it all?

Promises to Keep is the heartfelt second addition to award-winning author Patricia Sands’s Love in Provence trilogy—and a stirring reminder that it’s never too late to be joyfully surprised by love, life, or even yourself.

I'm reeling from the way this book has ended, to the extent that I know I need to read the last book in this trilogy sooner rather than later, as I need to know how the story continues...yes the book has arguably ended on a big cliffhanger, which is not my preferred ending, but in this instance instead of completely annoying me as it should do, my only thought is wow, didn't see that coming and I need to find time to read I Promise You This!

Well before you actually get to the ending there is of course a whole story to be told, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It builds on the characters you have come to know from The Promise of Provence, and develops them further. As a result I found this to be quite an easy read in those regards, as I was familiar with the setting and characters as it began.  I am so hooked on the series, I can't really take the step back and comment on whether it works as a standalone. 

We learn a lot more about Philippe in this book, as we discover just what it is he is hiding from Katherine. The book focuses on that plot for the majority of the book, and I still have some questions that could be answered, but on the whole it was a surprising turn of events, and had me on the edge of my seat at times. 

Katherine and Philippe, explore some more of the surrounding area in Provence, and yet again the descriptions of the local villages, the history of the places comes alive, and I can see everything very well in my minds eye, just from the writing I feel as though I was transported to Provence, and was in the pages of the book, experiencing everything for myself. 

There were descriptions, for example of Olives, the various types and just what a tapenade is, and I was surprised to find my mouther watering, and the thought that I may want to try an olive, despite being a notoriously fussy eater with no real desire to eat olives! 

As a fan of the series, I found this was a joy of a book to read, I was thoroughly entertained throughout and would love to hope on a plane to Provence this second, to experience everything that Katherine has for myself.  I think that anyone with an interest in the South of France, France, romance, books set abroad or generally appreciates vivid descriptions would enjoy this book. 

Thank you so much to Patricia Sands for this copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

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