Thursday, 21 September 2017

Blog tour review of 'Our Altered Life' by Charlene Beswick

Review of 'Our Altered Life' by Charlene Beswick

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for 'Our Altered Life' today. This is a novel that will really stay with you.

This book will be released on 29th September.

After a healthy twin pregnancy, Charlene and Mark were shocked to be told that one of their boys had been born with half of his face undeveloped. In seconds, the happy family future they had been planning disintegrated into turmoil and uncertainty.
Laugh out loud funny in places, heart-wrenchingly sad in others, and refreshingly honest at all times, Our Altered Life is Charlene’s wonderful account of how she struggled to forgive herself and bond with a baby she didn’t expect. Follow her transition through grief and anger, challenges and triumphs, loss and acceptance, to love for the life she has now with two children she wouldn’t change for the world.

My review

This book really got to me from the moment I started reading. I opened the Kindle as soon as it arrived and literally couldn't put it down whilst tears streamed down my face. I found it incredibly emotional from the outset and uplifting also. What a beautiful family Charlene has. 'After a healthy twin pregnancy, Charlene and Mark were shocked to be told that one of their boys had been born with half of his face undeveloped.' I admired Charlene for her strength and also her honesty as the book progressed. It's hard to put yourself in their shoes as to how you'd react and Charlene has bravely portrayed this. The book is incredibly raw and personal sometimes felt as if I were reading the personal diary of the family and were intruding. As the story is true it gets to you even more. 

Such a brave and awe-inspiring experience to read. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book as a thought-provoking and uplifting tale of the families love for their beautiful children, Oliver and Harry. The love between the twins was so lovely to read. An ordinary account of their lives written in an extraordinary way to highlight the highs and lows. Many tears were shed when reading this book. It was beautifully written and paced well. It definitely shows that whatever life throws at you, however altered, and despite the difficulties, it can be just as wonderful. 

I loved this authors novel.

More about the author:

Hi, I'm Charlie, mum to twins Oliver and Harry and I am blogging about life as a parent of a child with special needs at Our Altered Life. I chronicle the highs and lows of a life less ordinary and the challenges and adventures we all face. When I'm not writing or working you will find me drinking gin, eating my own body weight in cheese and laminating stuff (you can take the girl out of teaching but you cant take the teacher out of the girl!)

Social Media Links

Review of 'Innocence' by John Brackenridge

Review of 'Innocence' by John Brackenridge

Buy the novel here:

Who polices the police? Nobody. Not in this place.
Cops and criminals are the same. Drug lines and murder. A cab driver is drawn into a world he doesn't understand. He is dragged into hell.
The young policeman spirals downwards. He is the innocent. Drawn into a criminal operation spiraling out of control after a punishment beating goes wrong.
Someone tells tales. The Internal Investigation Department find out about the drug operation. Twists and turns lead to a remarkable and damning conclusion.

Terrifying and unsettling, yet deeply moving, ‘Innocence’ shows the banality of evil through those we believe protect us. It is the story of organised crime perpetrated by police officers. It is contemporary and relevant, a 21st century tale of broken morality. Inspired by true events, 'Innocence' is life.

My review

This was a dark yet thrilling novel about a group of police officers and the corruption that they encounter and become embroiled in. Not my usual 'go to' novel but a deeply thoughtful and powerful one none-the-less. I found the novel to be immensely readable and devoured the novel page after page. Although somewhat dark and gritty, the novel was a page-turner. 

The style of the short choppy sentences sometimes made me stumble when reading and re-reading parts to check I'd hadn't missed anything. But it certainly kept the pace fast. Overall an enjoyable read and I look forward to the authors next novel.

About the author:

John was born in Luton in 1972. He grew up in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, and moved to London in his teenage years to study at Middlesex University.

After working in Our Price Records and an off-licence, John spent the next twenty-three years in public service. 

Living in Surrey with his wife and five children, John is an avid cyclist and cook. He is studying Druidry.
He is currently working on his second novel, a fringe comedy performance piece, and a comedy script for radio.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Review of Angie Langley's 'Jennifer Brown's Journey'

Review of 'Jennifer Brown's Journey' by Angie Langley

Five feet one and full of fizz, Jennifer Brown lights up the room. She has a gorgeous partner, a wicked best friend, and a boss who doesn’t mind that she’s the worst typist on the planet. She’s loyal, generous and irredeemably ditzy. Everyone loves Jennifer Brown.

But can she learn to love herself?

When her world caves in, she needs every ounce of her steely core to step back from the abyss and take charge of her life, reinventing herself first as cook and housekeeper to a saucy sexagenarian, then as manager of a tumbledown country estate with sensitive secrets. Peopled by a battalion of hilarious characters from the caustic, cross-dressing confidant to the besotted ex-boyfriend with a barmy ex-wife, Jennifer Brown’s Journey is a heartwarming, thoughtful, often poignant portrait of the trials of life as a thirty-something woman. Jennifer Brown champions the importance of self-belief, and the value of a bucket-sized glass of wine in a tight spot. And, always in the background, there’s the quiet man with the warm eYes, and the velvet vowels.

What on earth is Jennifer Brown going to do about him?

Buy the novel here:

My review

The author writes with such ease that it was easy to slip into the life of Jennifer Brown and thoroughly love this story.

This novel is light-hearted but touches on thoughtful subjects, making it an all rounder. Jennifer is easy to love due to her kind hearted nature and as her world comes crashing down she really has to dig deep. Jennifer is truly witty and I loved her finally standing on her own two feet. I've not worked in an office before but I can completely picture some of the scenes from the story! Fantastic! This is the kind of novel you can put your feet up in the bath and just enjoy. What a pleasure to read. I will look out for more books from this author.

More about Jennifer Brown...

The first in a series of three books, Jennifer Brown’s Journey is a story of female self-empowerment and the triumph of the human spirit in the face of challenges that many women will recognise. Lighthearted and poignant, the story gives readers a very real sense of a woman, initially rather ditzy, maturing into a redoubtable, self-possessed individual who faces her many challenges with developing aplomb.

About the Author
Angie Langley has a background in entertainment and venue management and she’s worked with artists in the US, the UK and Europe. She's also a lyricist who collaborates and manages the talented Scottish Composer & Musician, Tish Tindall. Angie also works as a TV producer with Avant-garde Films where she brings her extensive portfolio of creative expertise to bear behind the camera, creating projects across a range of programming that includes factual, reality, feature drama and drama serial. Jennifer Brown’s Journey is her first book, inspired by the highs and lows of a distant past that has given her the strength to tackle each day with a smile.

At Home

Angie is fortunate enough to live in a delightful 17th-century thatched cottage on the banks of the River Avon in Wiltshire, which not only provides her with inspiration to write, but also enables her to pursue her other passion, photography. Angie is currently putting the finishing touches to book two in the Jennifer Brown's series. Watch out for updates on this eagerly awaited sequel!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Review - My Husband's Wife by Amanda Prowse

 Book review of 'My Husband's Wife'

 Buy the book here:

Once a week, Rosie Tipcott counts her blessings.
She goes to sit on her favourite bench on the north Devon cliffs, and thanks her lucky stars for her wonderful husband, her mischievous young daughters, and her neat little house by the sea. She vows to dedicate every waking hour to making her family happy.
But then her husband unexpectedly leaves her for another woman and takes the children. Now she must ask the question: what is left in her life? Can Rosie find the strength to rebuild herself? More importantly, does she even want to?

I'm a bit late on writing up this review as I read the book a while ago, but better late than never! The reason being that I then moved on to another of Amanda's books 'The Idea Of You,' and then totally forgot that I hadn't typed up and posted my notes for this one. I loved this book just as much however as 'The Idea of You,' so I'm pleased to be finally publishing this review!.

My review 

This book was certainly a page-turner that had me gripped until the very last page. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and became immersed into Rosie's life, that my life was put on hold until I finished! The author is incredibly skilled at taking you on a journey of emotions as you follow the story of Rosie after her husband leaves her for another woman. Prowse is able to have you laughing one minute and reaching for the tissues the next. What an emotional book!

Rosie is such a beautiful character with an amazing heart. Prowse writes characters that are very relatable and realistic and this is what gives her such a special writing gift. I loved where the story is set in north Devon, a beautiful place that I have become familiar with which gave the story an extra interest. Fast paced and with a satisfying ending, I would recommend this story.

More about the author:

Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author who has published sixteen novels in dozens of languages. Her recent chart topping No.1 titles ‘What Have I Done?’, ‘Perfect Daughter’ and ‘My Husband’s Wife’ have sold millions of copies around the world.

Other novels by Amanda Prowse include ‘A Mother’s Story’ which won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the year Award and ‘Perfect Daughter’ that was selected as a World Book Night title in 2016. Amanda’s latest book ‘The Food of Love’ went straight to No.1 in Literary Fiction when it was launched in the USA and she has been described by the Daily Mail as ‘The Queen of Drama’ for her ability to make the reader feel as if they were actually in the story.

Now published by Lake Union, Amanda Prowse is the most prolific writer of contemporary fiction in the UK today; her titles also score the highest online review approval ratings for several genres.

A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda Prowse is a regular panellist on the Channel 5 show ‘The Wright Stuff’ and numerous daytime ITV programmes. She makes countless guest appearances on BBC and independent Radio stations where she is well known for her insightful observations of human nature and her infectious observational humour.

Become friends with Amanda on Facebook: AmandaProwseAuthor and follow her on Twitter: @MrsAmandaProwse or Instagram: MrsAmandaProwse. For more information on her books, lifestyle and inspirational advice see

Amanda's ambition is to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can't possibly read another book until the memory fades...

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Book review - The Boy With The Thorn In His Side - Chantelle Atkins

Book review - The Boy With The Thorn In His Side - Chantelle Atkins

‘I don’t have my headphones on yet, but the music is always in there. I have a constant walking soundtrack to my life you see. There is a song for everything.' In the decade of grunge and Britpop, 13 year old Danny is a music fan in the making. He is also on a mission to deter unsuitable men from his beautiful single mother. With his best friends behind him, a soundtrack in his head and first love on the horizon, things are looking good, until local nightclub owner Lee Howard comes on the scene and sweeps Danny’s mother off her feet. What do you do when your mother is dating a real life monster and no one can see it but you? A dark and powerful drama about friendship, music and the choice between escaping and fighting back.

Buy the book here:

I am a huge fan of Chantelle Atkins' writing. I have read several of her books and started this novel a while ago. I then read another of Chantelle's books, the fabulous 'The Tree of Rebels' and returned to finish this book. I couldn't help myself but dip into the book as soon as I had it on my Kindle, so I found it hard putting it aside and was so pleased to return to it again. The beginning of the book is so intense. I felt like I was there in the kitchen looking at that knife. What a great start to a novel.

The novel follows the story of young Danny who finds himself in the self-prescribed position of protecting his mother from undesirables. Then enters Lee, and Danny's world comes crashing down. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the whole novel and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It is written incredibly realistically and you can really feel the angst of being a teenager. I loved that the story was set in the 90s, a period I am familiar being a teenager in too. As the world around Danny unravels spectacularly, you can't help but feel for him. Incredibly written, this is another of Atkin's books that hit the mark. 

I love her writing and can't wait for the next.

More about Chantelle:

Chantelle Atkins was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children and multiple pets. She is addicted to both reading and music, and is on a mission to become as self-sufficient as possible. She writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling. Her debut Young Adult novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders, self-harm, fractured families and first love. Her second novel, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side follows the musical journey of a young boy attempting to escape his brutal home life. She is also the author of This Is Nowhere, This Is The Day and has recently released a collection of short stories related to her novels called Bird People and Other Stories.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Book giveaway! Win a book of your choice!

To celebrate my birthday I'm having a book giveaway! Happy reading! The winner will be announced on my birthday 1.10.17!

Terms and conditions

Win a book of your choice (any paperback of your choice to the value of no more than £10)! International too if Amazon able to deliver to you, as I will purchase and post directly from there. Follow me on Twitter and retweet the pinned tweet for a chance to enter win a book of your choice.

I will draw out the name on my birthday and you can choose the book you'd like to be sent! A happy reading birthday from me!

Friday, 8 September 2017

Review of 'A Pearl for My Mistress' by Annabel Fielding

Review of 'A Pearl for My Mistress' by Annabel Fielding

A story of class, scandal and forbidden passions in the shadow of war. Perfect for fans of Iona Grey, Gill Paul and Downtown Abbey.
England, 1934. 
Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady's maid in a small aristocratic household.
Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy.
Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital… and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society’s most dangerous secrets…

Buy the novel here:

My review of the novel:

What a well-written and interesting story this was to read. I really warmed to Hester, the lady's maid. I think she was a strong character and Fielding told her story beautifully. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the story, which swept me right back to 1934 as if I were there. It is an era I'm not that familiar with, which made an interesting read. The world Hester is flung into is deeply vivid and poignant. The descriptions were elaborate and well researched, although at times slowed down the story but provided a deliciously rich read. At times I despised the treatment that Hester received and felt angry with the situations sometimes caused by Lucy, and others out of both of their control. Hester and Lucy didn't understand each other very well at all and this was frustrating to read. The language used is very fitting to the ambience of the novel making it feel very genuine.

A thoroughly riveting but slow burning novel that I immensely enjoyed. Although historical novels are not really my go to choice of novel, I really found this to be a beautifully told book that I would recommend. I look forward to reading more from this author.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Short reviews vs long reviews

The reason my reviews are getting shorter and shorter...

I've realised over the last few months that my reviews are getting shorter and shorter. They used to nearly rival a novel, but then slumped down to essay length and now are probably just a couple of paragraphs. The arms hurt to type, simple as that. It's not that I don't have billions of thoughts to say about the books I read, I just struggle to write them all down. I'm getting the grips with dictation software for my novel writing but it is very time-consuming, so I limit everything else I write so I can concentrate.

So which do you prefer, short or long reviews? My sister once said to me that all the long essay reviews on my novel were off putting to readers wanting to leave a short review as they felt pressured to leave something longer and therefore just didn't bother. I wonder how true this is. I've encouraged some people (that might otherwise not leave a review at all) to leave a short sentence review instead. This is to balance out the long reviews and hopefully encourage others that just want to leave one line too. Personally, I've loved reading the long reviews and thoughts on my books. They make me feel so special and that the reader has really 'got' what I was trying to write. The suggestions the readers leave have been particularly helpful too to improve myself as a writer. I have very much appreciated every review I have received. I hope, in my short couple of paragraphs I leave for others, that I can capture the same. I'd rather leave a shorter review than no review at all. Any thoughts on this?

Happy reviewing everyone. I apologise for only being able to leave a couple of paragraphs now, I will try my hardest to capture the essence of the book in those few words.

Emily x

Friday, 1 September 2017

Review of 'Fortune's Wheel' by Carolyn Hughes

Review of 'Fortune's Wheel' by Carolyn Hughes

Buy the novel here:

Plague-widow Alice atte Wode is desperate to find her missing daughter, but her neighbours are rebelling against their masters and their mutiny is hindering the search.
June 1349. In a Hampshire village, the worst plague in England’s history has wiped out half its population, including Alice atte Wode’s husband and eldest son. The plague arrived only days after Alice’s daughter Agnes mysteriously disappeared, and it prevented the search for her.
Now the plague is over, the village is trying to return to normal life, but it’s hard, with so much to do and so few left to do it. Conflict is growing between the manor and its tenants, as the workers realise their very scarceness means they’re more valuable than before: they can demand higher wages, take on spare land, and have a better life. This is the chance they’ve all been waiting for.
Although she understands their demands, Alice is disheartened that the search for Agnes is once more put on hold. When one of the rebels is killed, and then the lord's son is found murdered, it seems the two deaths may be connected, both to each other and to Agnes’s disappearance.

My review

I'm not really a massive historical fiction fan, but my goodness did the storyline draw me in straight away to this novel. Fantastically researched and vivid in detail, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this book. It was clear from all the minute details that Hughes knows her history. I haven't really read much about the time period before and found reading about the lives of the characters very interesting and somewhat horrific! Although all the horrific-ness made this all the more interesting to read. The book contained a large amount of characters and sometimes I felt confused by the different people, but then the author always returned to the overarching story plot enabling me to get my bearings. 

I was fascinated by the lives of Alice and the villagers during and after the plague swept through. As the mystery surrounding the missing Agnes heightened, I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know what was happening.

Great historical novel. I really enjoyed reading this book.

More about the author:

Carolyn Hughes was born in London, but has lived most of her life in Hampshire. After a first degree in Classics and English, she started her working life as a computer programmer, in those days a very new profession. It was fun for a few years, but she left to become a school careers officer in Dorset.

But it was when she discovered technical authoring that she knew she had found her vocation. She spent the next few decades writing and editing all sorts of material, some fascinating, some dull, for a wide variety of clients, including an international hotel group, medical instrument manufacturers and the Government.

She has written creatively for most of her adult life, but it was not until her children grew up and flew the nest, several years ago, that creative writing and, especially, writing historical fiction, took centre stage in her life.

She has a Masters in Creative Writing from Portsmouth University, and a PhD from the University of Southampton.

Buy the novel here:

Review of 'Prayers Were No Help,' by Paul Lawrence

 Review of 'Prayers Were No Help', by Paul Lawrence.

 Jack's wife, Cindy, died after an agonizing fight with pancreatic cancer. Jack retreated to his home and the bottle, unsure if he wanted to continue without her.

When his parents threatened to come to his house, Jack escaped to the family's lake cabin, to be free of phones, TV, and the internet and to finally make a decision.

But Jack didn't count on the presence of a mysterious stranger named Toby at the lake. At first, Jack was rude and obnoxious, but Toby's persistence tore down his defenses.

After one week of intense, emotional confrontation, Jack overcame his grief and depression and began a new way of living.

Bothered by the fact that he never really thanked Toby, Jack returned to the cabin, only to find that Toby was not who Jack thought he was.

The start of this short novel really grabbed me. I really felt for Jack as he found out his wife was dying and how hard they both tried to fight to save her. It read like a true account and I had to remind myself that it was a fictional story. I really wanted to learn more about his wife and their relationship, but the main part of the novel was about Jack and his coming to terms with her death afterwards. The first part had me fascinated so I was sad it was over so quickly, but I'd invested in Jack enough to stay with him as he continued his journey alone.

The novel really explored how people come to terms with death in different ways. It revolves around how Jack turns to God to help him and takes himself away from the world of technology. I haven't read Christian fiction before, but I enjoyed this as a fictional story. It wasn't too preachy, just a gentle spiritual approach to the Christian element which I really warmed to. Both readers that enjoy fictional stories and Christian novels would enjoy this special book.

Buy the novel here:

About the author:

Paul Lawrence is my pen name. I'm a retired computer security analyst. I've published technical articles for (and been paid for doing so) and am a chapter author for AVIEN Malware Defense Guide for the Enterprise. I am retired and live in Richardson, Texas with my wife of forty-five years, two disobedient dogs; chick magnet Bentley and neurotic bone burier Jack, and lots of books.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Review of 'Summer at The Cosy Cottage Cafe'

Review of 'Summer at The Cosy Cottage Cafe' by Rachel Griffiths

Allie Jones loves her cosy cottage café in the picturesque village of Heatherlea. She has her independence, two grown-up children and two cute cats. Life is settled and she thinks she's happy.

Author Chris Monroe has it all. Critical success, a luxurious London apartment, and the kind of jet-set lifestyle most people dream of. But something's missing.

When a family bereavement throws these two old friends together, they begin to question the true meaning of happiness.

Love is in the air, but do Allie and Chris have room in their hands-on lives for more than a summer fling?

This is the first of four short stories in The Cosy Cottage Café series.

Coming soon:
Autumn at The Cosy Cottage Café
Winter at The Cosy Cottage Café

Spring at The Cosy Cottage Café 

Buy the novel here:

My review of Summer at the Cosy Cottage Cafe

What a lovely feel good read. If you are wanting to curl up with a book on a wet day, this is the perfect book for you. It oozes warmth and personality. Although the story was a tad predictable, I didn't mind this in the slightest. This was a lovely heartfelt story about Allie rebuilding her life after a bereavement and moving on from past mistakes. I really warmed to all of the characters and enjoyed seeing the relationship develop between Chris and Allie.  I loved the cafe and relished reading about the food! A very lovely book to relax and enjoy.

Overall - an enjoyable cosy read, and I look forward to more in this series.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Review of The Limpet Syndrome by Tony Moyle

Review of 'The Limpet Syndrome' by Tony Moyle

If you love books about reincarnation, corruption, the human condition, Ocd and talking pigeons then this is the book for you. Ok so you've never read a book like that before. . .so why not try this one! From the Back Cover Imagine there was a politician whose only ambition was to corrupt and manipulate the very people who elected him, without them even knowing it. This was Byron T Casey's ambition. It helped that he was the Prime Minister and had just acquired Emorfed, a substance that had the ability to alter a person's soul. Sandy Logan was the only person capable of stopping him. But there was one problem. Sandy was dead. It complicated matters that his death had been aided by the mysterious Limpet Syndrome, which meant he wasn't dead dead. Very few people understood why Sandy's soul had lingered on Earth, least of all Sandy. About the Author Tony Moyle was supposed to be a Chemist. Turns out he was rubbish at it. A book formed in 1996 and took 21 years to escape on to paper.

My review

This is a book like no other I've read! It is such a mixture of different things but it totally works and the author has managed to pull off a really great read. I wasn't sure it was a book I'd usually pick up and read, but I was wrong. I couldn't pigeon hole this book into one genre if I tried. It is both amusing and down right funny in places but also tells a great adventure. There was lots of powerful description throughout the well paced novel, however it is not a tricky read. It flows nicely and is hard to put down! The ending does leave some unanswered questions but I've heard there is a book 2 in the pipeline, which will hopefully resolve these.

This is a great well-written debut novel, which I am glad I've had the chance to read.

 Buy the book here:
More about the author:

Tony Moyle was born in the small town of Shepton Mallet in 1976. He's spent the last four decades attempting to find a third reason for the town to be known behind Babycham and a Frank Bruno World Title fight. Although he studied Chemistry at Exeter University he was terrible at it and instead found a role within the business community. After twenty years of deliberation and prevarication he published his first novel, 'The Limpet Syndrome.' With any luck the next book won't take quiet so long. He lives in the small town of Ashington at the base of the South Downs national park with this wife, Laure, and two children.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Annabelle Costa - Crazy in Love

Review of Annabelle Costa - Crazy in Love

 They call her Crazy Anna.

Anna Flint won’t shake your hand. She collects tin cans. She cleans her cubicle at work with Lysol several times a day. But Anna doesn’t care that they call her crazy. She’s absolutely satisfied with her life of perfect organization, cleanliness, and most of all, solitude.

Matt Harper likes Anna Flint. He likes that she’s the smartest person he knows and he likes her big blue eyes. He doesn’t even mind her can collection. In fact, he pretty much likes everything about Anna. As his body and his world are falling apart, she still manages to make him happy.

Matt is the only person Anna has ever wanted to be close to. But how can she go on a date with him if the thought of dinner at a restaurant fills her with terror? How can she ever kiss the man she loves if she can't even touch him?

Maybe it’s time to stop being Crazy Anna. If only she could.

My review

I absolutely loved the start of this novel and it kept me gripped all the way through. Anna is such a great character and it was great to hear her thoughts mixed in with those from Matt. I loved the dynamics between these two characters as the book progresses.

This book is written from the two different perspectives and flits constantly through the characters as the story progresses. I thought this might be confusing but I found that I eagerly looked forward to the other perspective from Matt. Such a great way of showing the views of two different characters. I found this to be a touching and lovely story, I really warmed to crazy Anna in a way that I thought I wouldn't. Both humorous and emotional, I found it an absorbing read. I won't give away the ending, but the book develops pace as it progresses to a satisfying ending. Great read, thank you Annabelle Costa.

Review of 'Luck Favors the Prepared'

In his first collection of non-fiction short stories, Nathaniel Barber allows a peek inside the life observant. Luck Favors the Prepared is a straightforward read, shifting from remote and hilarious documentary to a lived-in memoir, dreamily recalling the absurd dark comedy of death and divorce, landlordship, family, role playing video games, high school, misguided activism, customer service and sudden, unexpected wardrobe failures.

As a son of the Pacific Northwest, his stories are nestled in the mossy bosom of Washington, Oregon and Northern California. His characters and rich dialogue are plucked from the past and set to life. They are belligerents and buffoons. They are the beautiful and the bewildering, plagued by dark and grotesque motives and juxtaposed with a loving objectivity that suspends judgement for a world where no one is defined by their worst deeds.

Luck Favors the Prepared is an unforgettable tour through the ordinary and unconventional—a full collection of real life and all its baggage, handcrafted by the hardest working nobody in contemporary literature.

My review of 'Luck Favors the Prepared'

Luck Favors the Prepared was an enjoyable read. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I loved the down to earth feel of this non-fiction story. It flowed more like fiction with a realistic edge. The stories were very powerful and each left me wanting to find out more and whether they could have been joined to flow together. Barber has an easy style and flow to his writing and is certainly capable of giving a rounded story with depth and humour. I really felt for the author during the experiences for these stories, which did produce witty accounts but must have been harrowing at the time. A talented author, which can write about highs and lows with passion and that certainly has the scope for more. I look forward to hearing from this author again and will look out for his next novel.

About the author:

 I was born in San Diego but I remember little of my native city. I remember citrus, as large as my own head. And the sunset-orange beaches littered with black, sea-smoothed rocks. There were the family dogs, two eager and bushy Norwegian Elkhounds. I was just a small child then so the butts of these curl-tailed Norwegian Elkhounds—eye-level and unavoidable—lent an early and impressive lesson about the things you love: to throw yourself at them with pragmatic abandon since it is both right and necessary to love all things, but sensible to keep a watchful eye on the gruesome, sobering details. The air of San Diego was cream-heavy with sea salt and eucalyptus and jasmine.

Then, thank God, the Barber family picked up and moved to Lynnwood, Washington just before my fourth birthday. It was one year after the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens when the whole Pacific Northwest, or, at least the rest stops along I-5, seemed still buried in its volcanic ash. It was here I learned about seasons: the blistering-hot and stupid suburban summers and the cruel, humbling soak from mid-September to May. Here I attended schools that varied from fantastically doting schools to schools that seemed to only specialize in the wicked trade of endless loathing, ineptitude and failure. I was lucky to have attended both. There was some little league in there, too. As well as a series of horribly disfiguring bicycle accidents.

I followed a girlfriend further north, to Bellingham, Washington. I won a long, hard-fought lawsuit against a pederast and enrolled in college to pursue a useless degree. I eventually married that girlfriend. It was a marriage I jokingly refer to as a ‘training wheels’ marriage. We graduated college with our useless degrees and promptly divorced so I moved to Portland, Oregon to work myself to the brink of physical and mental exhaustion. Somewhere in there I met the love of my life (sometimes it takes the wrong marriage to illuminate the right one). We live somewhere in North Portland with our daughter who recoils in horror every time I shave off my beard.

Some people will warn you away from non-fiction authors. They’re rumored to write only non-fiction because they have no imagination and they’re foaming with venom for all the perceived wrongs they’ve suffered. I don’t know about all that. I think my stories are beautiful, even if they are humiliating and difficult to tell. I hope my stories are enjoyable. After all, I’ve worked very hard to make them read okay.


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Dead over heels by Theresa Bruan

Veronica’s first date with Sebastian not only stirs up a powerful attraction, but also a series of supernatural events that will tear them apart.

After countless hours of dead end online dating, Veronica meets up with Sebastian at a reportedly haunted restaurant, since he knows she has a fascination with the paranormal. While enjoying their meals and each other’s company, they share a shocking supernatural experience. Their romantic connection is overshadowed by the ghosts of their own pasts that threaten to destroy their budding relationship. Veronica decides she must return to the restaurant to face her past and dig up more answers. Unfortunately, she realizes she must go back, this time with a reluctant Sebastian. In the end, they join forces against the evil that stands between them, but will they make it out alive?

 My review of Dead over Heels

It's not often I read a book without looking in detail at the genre or the blurb, but as this was a short story, I dived in not really knowing what to expect! I should have twigged by the cover but as I'd downloaded it, I didn't ponder over this and got stuck straight in.. At first I thought I was reading a dating novel, and I found the interaction between Sebastian and Veronica humorous and true to life. I was confused at first how they ended up in a police station but the unravelled that they'd met on a dating site and enjoyed the paranormal. As odd things started to happen when they settled down to their first date, I realised that this novel wasn't a simple relationship story. Although this short story certainly had the potential to be developed into a full length novel the author certainly packed a great deal into a few short pages and kept me on my toes. I found the book to be well written and the writing engaging.

The ending came so quickly and shockingly, I had to read back to check that I hadn't missed anything. When I understood what had happened, it left me open-mouthed at the ending. Great to engage the reader in such emotions in such a short space of time - well done to the author!

Buy the novel here:

About the author:

Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides. An English teacher and adjunct college professor for over thirteen years, she continues to share her enthusiasm for literary arts with her students. She earned a Masters in English literature with a thesis on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. In her spare time, she enjoys delving into her own creative writing, painting, photography and even ghost hunting. Spending time with her family and traveling as often possible are two of her passions. In fact, her world meanderings are often backdrops for her work. Striving to make the world a better place is something dear to her heart. When she's not writing, she can be found looking for romance or shopping for shoes.

Review of Keeping my Sisters' Secrets - Beezy Marsh

Review of 'Keeping my Sisters' Secrets' - Beezy Marsh

Eva, Peggy and Kathleen were sisters born into a close-knit working class family, living in a tiny terraced house in a street so rough the police would only walk down it in pairs. As they grew up between the wars, they dreamed of escaping their violent father and the crime-ridden slums of Waterloo.
Peggy was a studious girl so appalled by conditions in the factories that she became a Communist. Beautiful Kathleen married an abusive man and later - during the Second World War - fell in love with a GI. Feisty Eva became a thief as a child so she could help their mother put food on the table - and never lost her rebellious streak, or her desire to protect her family by whatever means necessary.
As the years pass the sisters all lived close together, sharing each other's lives, supporting each other through hard times. Keeping My Sisters' Secrets is a rich, moving story of three sisters fighting to survive through decades of social upheaval, their love for each other the one constant in a changing world.

Buy the novel here:

My review of Keeping my Sisters' Secrets

This book took me a little by surprise. I had read a previous book by the author, which had been incredibly witty and light-hearted and although both wonderfully written, this book had real extra strength and depth. The cover was lovely and completely intrigued me. I knew I'd love it as soon as I saw the beautiful cover artwork. I felt like I had immediately stepped back into the past, whisked away into the difficult lives of the sisters. This is a great family drama book where you really feel the love and tie between the incredibly different children. They all had their uniqueness. 

The area in London that the sisters and their family grew up in was an incredibly difficult place to live and Marsh covers this sensitively. The sisters long for a different life, away from the slums, noise, smells and their abusive father. Their story is one of grit and determination and I really enjoyed the journey about each different sister, although Eva's story stood out the most. 

I really enjoyed this story, well done Beezy Marsh!

About the author:

Beezy Marsh is an award-winning journalist, who has spent more than 20 years making the headlines in newspapers including The Daily Mail and The Sunday Times.

This was never going to be enough for a girl from Hartlepool, whose primary school teacher told her to give up her dream of becoming a poet and concentrate on being a nurse instead. Thirty years later, give or take, she became an author.

Review of 'Hortense and the Shadow'

"Through the dark and wolfish woods,
through the white and silent snow,
lived a small girl called Hortense.
Though kind and brave, she was sad as an owl because of one thing . . .
Hortense hated her shadow."

A beautifully illustrated dark fairy tale that will remind you of the fables you read as a child. A treasure not to be missed.

My review of Hortense and the Shadow

What a deliciously dark story! I absolutely love the illustrations, which all add to the slightly creepy effect. This has a classic fairytale feel about it. I loved it! Not sure that it's quite appropriate to read to my toddler yet without scaring him to death, but as a teacher I can really see the books used in primary schools. The book is perfectly aimed for 5-7 year old's but I can see older children unpicking the text in a school setting. There is enough depth to the story and imagination to provoke questions and explore further. Children are fascinated by their shadows and this story has a dark vibe which will definitely appeal to older children. 

Fab book. I'd love to see the paperback version as you don't get the full effect with the Ebook so I will look out for its release. Overall, a dark and twisted read that older children will love!

Pre-order the book here:  

About the author:

Natalia O'Hara is a script editor and Lauren O'Hara is a set designer. As children, Natalia and Lauren shared stories and planned that when they grew up, Natalia would write books and Lauren would draw pictures. Hortense and the Shadow is the sisters' debut collaboration. They live in London, England, and invite you to visit them at

 Natalia O’Hara (Author)
Natalia and Lauren are two sisters from the North of England. In the daytime they edit scripts and design sets, and at night they draw and write together. As children they loved fairytales, animal fables and the stories their Polish grandmother told on snowy nights. Hortense and the Shadow is their first picture book.

Lauren O'Hara (Illustrator)
Natalia and Lauren are two sisters from the North of England. In the daytime they edit scripts and design sets, and at night they draw and write together. As children they loved fairytales, animal fables and the stories their Polish grandmother told on snowy nights. Hortense and the Shadow is their first picture book.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Review of 'The Fox in the Box' by Amanda Gee

When Lydia finds a lost baby fox outside her back door, they set off together to look for his family. But on the way, they discover a terrible disaster is about to overtake their village. Can they stop it.....and will the cub find what he's looking for?

We were very excited to receive this book-post through the door, thank you Amanda!

Read with Mummy review of The Fox in the Box

I loved the cover of this book so much. I knew the children would love 'The Fox in the Box' as soon as they saw it.  Elliot my son was immediately interested and was very excited when story time arrived before his nap. What a lovely story and gorgeous illustrations too. The rhyming made the book easy to read and flowed beautifully. We weren't expecting such a thought provoking story and this book could be used in school contexts to to talk about the effects of deforestation etc. I really enjoyed this element to the story and when my son is a little older it will provide great discussions about looking after our planet.

Elliot was desperate to find out whether the fox cub could find his family. He had a look of concern on his face as the story developed! We enjoyed exploring the different animals as the book progressed too.

Overall a delightfully lovely story that will come a firm favourite.

 Buy the book here:

Review of 'Is Monogamy Dead?' Rosie Wilby

Review of
Is Monogamy Dead?: 
Rethinking Relationships in the 21st Century
by Rosie Wilby

Bittersweet, original, honest and so funny. Rosie Wilby nails the challenges of intimacy and romance in this depressing age of Tinder. Would it be wrong to end a life of monogamy and leave my husband for her? Viv Groskop "My favourite way to learn is when a funny, clever, honest person is teaching me- that's why I love Rosie Wilby!" Sara Pascoe
In early 2013, comedian Rosie Wilby found herself at a crossroads with everything she'd ever believed about romantic relationships. When people asked, 'who's the love of your life?' there was no simple answer. Did they mean her former flatmate who she'd experienced the most ecstatic, heady, yet ultimately doomed, fling with? Or did they mean the deep, lasting companionate partnerships that gave her a sense of belonging and family? Surely, most human beings need both. 
Mixing humour, heartache and science, Is Monogamy Dead? details Rosie's very personal quest to find out why Western society is clinging to a concept that doesn't work that well for some of us and is laden with ambiguous assumptions.
Buy the book here:
My review
What an incredibly warm and witty story from Rosie Wilby. I enjoyed the book immensely. A thoughtful and insightful read, that was written beautifully. This story has a great balance of views and research to provide an interesting read on love in the twenty first century. 
Rosie takes you on an incredible path through relationships which I found warm and touching. It really gave me an insight in the difficulties in finding romantic relationships, I found myself quite emotional at times with the warmth in the story. This book has something for everyone despite your own sexual orientation or relationship needs, you take away a lot from this book.

I found myself laughing out loud at points and weeping at others. What a great intelligent book!
More about the author:

Rosie Wilby is an award-winning comedian who has appeared on the likes of BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour and Loose Ends. Since being a finalist at Funny Women 2006, she's been steadily building an army of fans. She has performed at Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party and Latitude, as well as being published in The Sunday Times, the Guardian, the Independent and more. She's currently the co-host of Radio Diva on Resonance FM alongside Heather Peace. Her first book, Is Monogamy Dead? will be published in August 2017 and follows her TEDx talk of the same name.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Review of Fix Me

 Review of Fix Me by Lisa M. Cronkhite

Penelope Wryter's life has been a mess ever since her sister committed suicide a year ago. Now Pen's hooked on Fix, an illegal drug that makes her feel, think, and see differently. The hallucinations are intense, but there's one vision that keeps Pen coming back for more--Nate. He's the only person who cares about her. Too bad he's just a side effect of the drug. Pen knows she's going nowhere fast. She's desperate to change. But when she tries to say goodbye to Nate, he professes his love for her making her more confused than ever. Then, when a girl from school goes missing during a bad Fix trip, Pen realizes she may be in a lot more danger than she ever imagined. Unless Pen straightens up and faces reality quick, she might be the next missing girl on the list.

My review

The blurb of this novel really intrigued me. The book had great premise as it delved into Penelope's life after she becomes hooked on Fix. I loved how the book is narrated by Penelope, leaving you to wonder how accurate her account. As she is on Fix for the majority of the book, you do wonder how true her perceptions of the world really are. I found the book completely fascinating. Sometimes confusing as her world is blurred with reality, but fascinating none the less. Pen needs to come off Fix to truly understand what is happening around her, but as with any drug, that is not as easy as it sounds.

I did find it a little hard to warm to the characters and didn't find Pen particularly likeable. I was concerned about her, and the situation she'd got herself in, but she didn't really do anything to merit these feelings of concern. However, as Pen is overcoming some very difficult times in her life, such as her sister's suicide, I had to factor these into my opinion of her actions. The book made drug additions very unappealing, which I think was the author's intention, so therefore as a YA book it hit the mark. I certainly wouldn't try drugs after reading this as it's very graphic and off putting.

There were some issues with continuity as the book progressed, probably down to Penelope's state of mind, but I found these made the story stop and start and I kept looking back to check I'd read it correctly. It truly shows how disturbing on your health drug taking is.

This was a thought provoking read and I'll look out for this author again.

Buy the book here:

About the author: 

Lisa M. Cronkhite is the author of Dreaming a Reality, Demon Girl, Deep in the Meadows and her most recent release, Disconnected. Her work has also appeared online and in print magazines including Storyteller, Poetry Salzburg Review, and Ruminate Magazine. She lives and writes in a small suburb near Chicago. You can find her online at and on Twitter @lmcronkhite.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Review of Lily Alone by Vivien Brown

Book review of Lily Alone by Vivien Brown

What sort of mother would leave her all alone… a gripping and heart-wrenching domestic drama that won’t let you go.

Lily, who is almost three years old, wakes up alone at home with only her cuddly toy for company. She is afraid of the dark, can’t use the phone, and has been told never to open the door to strangers.

But why is Lily alone and why isn’t there anyone who can help her? What about the lonely old woman in the flat downstairs who wonders at the cries from the floor above? Or the grandmother who no longer sees Lily since her parents split up?

All the while a young woman lies in a coma in hospital – no one knows her name or who she is, but in her silent dreams, a little girl is crying for her mummy… and for Lily, time is running out.

Buy the novel here: 

My review of Lily Alone

Gosh this novel had me gripped! The first few pages developed a range of emotions within me, as it was both poignant and shocking. My heart reached out for little Lily. This highly emotional novel was engaging from the outset. Brown has an excellent way of creating unique characters that your heart stretches out for. The story is voiced by a number of characters. I first thought that this would make the novel confusing, or that I'd lose interest if the characters weren't engaging enough. I was pleasantly surprised that neither were the case and I was truly hooked with each character. The thread of the overarching story remained intact as each of the characters is explored. I particularly likes the perspectives from Lily and reading about Agnes the neighbour.

This was an interesting read that explores how lives are affected by the circumstances of others. I would recommend if you're looking to read something different. I will be looking out for more of Brown's books in future.

More about the author:

Vivien Brown lives in Uxbridge, on the outskirts of London, with her husband and two cats. After a career in banking and accountancy and the birth of her twin daughters, she gave up working with numbers and moved into working with words and has never looked back.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Blog tour - Lottie Phillips

Blog Tour - The Little Cottage in the Country

I am really excited to be taking part in Lottie Phillips' blog tour for her new novel The Little Cottage in the Country. Thank you Lottie for sharing more about your new book with me. The novel was released on 3rd July and already has gained some impressive reviews, well done Lottie!

Lottie is taking part in an author spotlight today on my blog so please read on to find out about Lottie and her new release The Little Cottage in the Country.

The Little Cottage in the Country is also available at HarperCollins, Google Books, Google Play, Kobo and iBooks.
Anna Compton thought that moving to the countryside, leaving London and her past firmly behind her was the perfect solution. Goodbye life of thirty-something, crazed single mum of two, hello country glamour queen, domestic goddess and yummy-mummy extraordinaire.
But her new life at Primrose Cottage isn’t quite what she expected! Very soon she’s chasing pork pies down hills, disguising her shop-bought cakes at the school bake sale – and trying to resist oh-so-handsome Horatio Spencerville, who just so happens to be the Lord of the Manor…
Could moving to the country be the biggest mistake she’s ever made?

This novel is perfect for fans of Christie Barlow, Holly Martin and Tilly Tennant.

Information about the novel

Title: The Little Cottage in the Country
Author: Lottie Phillips
Genre: Women's Fiction/Romantic Comedy
Format: ebook only
Publisher: HQ Digital (July 3rd, 2017)

Learn more about the novel on Goodreads:

Buy the book here:

Praise for the novel includes:

'A sweet and charming story.' Kaye Temanson (NetGallery reviewer)
'An easy summer read.' Helena Manoli (NetGallery reviewer)
'Loved it. I laughed my way through it!' Donna Orrock  (NetGallery reviewer)
'A great story. I can't wait for the next novel by this author!' Paige Kowolewski (NetGallery reviewer)

Enter a giveaway to win a digital copy of Lottie Phillips book The Little Cottage in the Country

More about the author:

Charlie Phillips, writing under the pseudonym Lottie Phillips, worked as a teacher before turning her hand to fiction. She was brought up in Africa and the Middle East and then - as an adult - travelled extensively before moving to London and finally settling in the Cotswolds with her partner and toddler. When she’s not writing, you will find her scouring interior design magazines and shops, striving toward the distant dream of being a domestic goddess or having a glass of wine with country music turned up loud. As a child, she always had her nose in a book and, in particular, Nancy Drew.

The Little Cottage in the Country is Charlie's debut romantic comedy. She is very excited to be sharing Anna Compton's hilarious story with you! She also writes psychological thrillers under the pseudonym Louise Stone, including the best selling novel, S is for Stranger.

Readers can find Charlie Phillips on Twitter @writercharlie or at or

Thank you so much Lottie for coming on my blog to share your new novel The Little Cottage in the Country with me. I am really looking forward to reading your novel, it sounds fantastic!
Emily x

Follow the rest of the tour for The Little Cottage in the Country