Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Everything Changes But You - Jennifer Joyce Blog Tour

Everything Changes But You

By Jennifer Joyce

Available as an ebook 16th September 2014


Ally Richmond is dreading turning thirty and bidding farewell to her youth. And when her husband says he wants to start a family, she begins to panic. Is this all that life has to offer from now on? Popping out babies and growing old gracefully? She wants a life crammed with glamour and spontaneous adventure, not one full of dirty nappies and night feeds. When Ally makes a silly birthday wish for a new, exciting life, her wish is granted. But when Ally is presented with the freedom and opportunities she craves, she soon realises this new life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and that there really is no place like home.


‘I made a wish?’

Clementine tilted her head to one side, causing her plait to swish to the front. ‘You don’t remember? It was in this house. Here, in this very room, in fact.’

The cake! Ally remembered now. She’d somehow made it to the birthday tea – head and body intact – and her mother had produced a cake. With candles.

‘That’s right.’ Clementine picked up on the not-so-subtle look of panic as Ally recalled the previous evening, her eyes stretching to giant orbs of horror.

‘Were they…’ Ally paused and lowered her voice, leaning in towards Clementine so she could be heard. ‘Magic candles?’

Clementine threw back her head and laughed. Gone was the demure tinkle and in its place was a booming belly laugh. ‘Magic candles?’ Clementine wiped tears of mirth from under her eyes. ‘Magic candles? Don’t be absurd.’

Ally was standing in front of some sort of angelic being who was telling her that her entire life had been turned on its head after a birthday wish. But yeah, the idea of magic candles was absurd.

‘Then what? Are you a guardian angel?’

‘Sort of.’

Ally narrowed her eyes. ‘You don’t have wings.’

‘What?’ Clementine turned to try and see behind her and ended up doing a pirouette on the sitting room rug. ‘Dammit, I’ve left them behind again.’

Ally’s eyes were now nothing more than slits on her face. ‘Are you toying with me?’ Clementine gave a shrug of her dainty shoulders. ‘Can I have my old life back now?’



Clementine gave a slow shake of her head. ‘All wishes are final. It’s in the contract.’

‘What contract? I didn’t sign any contract.’ There was hope! Clementine couldn’t force her to live this life without her consent! But wait, Clementine’s tinkle of a laugh was back.

‘I’m just messing with you, Petal. There is no contract.’

Oh. ‘So I’m stuck with this life then?’

‘I’m afraid so. But hey, look on the bright side.’ There was a bright side? ‘It’s what you wanted.’

‘Well, no. Not really. I wanted a bit of excitement in my life. I wanted to go out on adventures with my friends and tell amusing stories the next day in the office. I wanted to live a little before I was coerced into giving up my life and womb. I didn’t want to be hated by my friends and family. I didn’t want to lose my husband.’

‘Not even for Jason?’ Clementine’s slight body quivered. ‘He is delicious by the way. I can see why you were jealous of Kelly.’

‘I was not jealous.’

‘Really? You could have fooled me.’ Clementine muttered the words under her breath but Ally still caught them. ‘Anyway, there’s no need to be jealous now, is there?’

Ally allowed her body to drop onto the sofa, a huge sigh heaving out of her body as she slumped against the cushions. There had to be a way out of this mess. Her whole life couldn’t be eradicated and replaced with this nightmare after a silly little wish.

‘Are you sure I can’t go back?’

‘Absolutely certain, Petal.’ Clementine joined Ally on the sofa and gave her knee a pat, but it offered little comfort under the circumstances.


Clementine gasped as she jumped back up to her feet, her cheeks burning bright on her porcelain skin. ‘Cripes! Mermaid Girl has fallen in the ruddy sea.’ Her long, slender fingers rested on her

bottom lip as she paced the sitting room. ‘This is not good. This is not good at all.’ She ceased pacing and turned to Ally. ‘I have to go. But don’t worry, I’ll be back.’

‘When?’ Ally asked but the sort-of guardian angel had vanished, leaving no trace that she’d ever been there at all.

Author Info:

Jennifer Joyce is a writer of romantic comedies who lives in Manchester with her husband and their two daughters. When she isn’t disappearing into her own fictional worlds, she can be found waffling on her blog and reviewing books for Novelicious’ Alternative Thursday. Everything Changes But You is her second novel. You can find out more about Jennifer and her books at www.jenniferjoycewrites.co.uk

Make sure you check out the other stops on this tour. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Point us to Paris - Aimee Duffy

Point us to Paris (Summer Flings #3)Point us to Paris by Aimee Duffy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part 3 of Summer Flings - a fun, flirty and laugh out loud rom com series of short stories.

Ciara would rather be anywhere else in the world than Paris. All the gooey eyed couples and handholding are making her miserable.

But Elle doesn't have time for moping - not when she's got the three of them on the guest list of an exclusive club. So Ciara tries her best to enjoy the free champagne, the loft party looking over the Seine and a little harmless sexting - until they realize they've stumbled into a nightmare none of them were prepared for.

The ideal summer treat for those relaxing days soaking up the sun

This is the third book in the Summer Flings series. I have really enjoyed travelling a long with the girls on their holiday around the world.

Saying this, unfortunately this was not my favourite novella. Point us to Paris, like the others in the series starts where they left off. This really helps the stories flow and give it potential to create a large book, rather than novellas. Personally I love the novella as they are perfect for commuting or when you have a spare half an hour to really feel you have achieved something.

I have really enjoyed following Ciara, Elle and Gem on their adventure. Paris is.not one of my favourite places though and I was a little disappointed that this was going to be the setting for this episode in the series. I shouldn't have been worried though, we don't get to hear about Paris as in landmarks or life.

During this part of the adventure, k feel I am beginning to know Elle a little better and I am hoping she felt develops as a character as the series progresses.

I found Zack and Ciaras storyline to be a little predictable, but I didn't mind as I am enjoying it so much.

Next stop is Greece and I certainly expect more drama from the girls and can't wait to be whisked away with them again!

I would like to thank Aimee for sending me this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Weekly Wrap Up Week 19 28/9/14

Welcome to another wrap up! This week has been very stressful for me. I have had many meetings at work and I have felt I have not had a lot of 'me' time. I am hoping this changes soon! 

This week I have been sent: 

The Nantucker Christmas
Super- Cyborg Gadget Glove

This week I have bought: 
The Christmas Cookie Club

Books I have read this week:

Deliver to Dublin...With Care
LA Nights: A short story
The Dr Pepper Prophecies audio book 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Misbehaving in Miami by Aimee Duffy

Misbehaving in Miami (Summer Flings #2)Misbehaving in Miami by Aimee Duffy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Part 2 of Summer Flings - a fun, flirty and laugh out loud rom com series of short stories.

The girls are off to a beach house to catch some rays - and if they play their cards right - super hot guys!

With drinking games in the name of Gucci, a surprise visit from a very pissed off Zack and hunks galore, Miami is turning into their best stop yet. Not to mention Ciara finally comes up with a way to have her cake and eat it too!

The ideal summer treat for those relaxing days soaking up the sun.

This is the second in the 'Summer Flings' series and I must say my favourite so far. I felt in this instalment we get to know Ciara really well, and she is still the girl I feel I connect the most with.

This novella starts just as Trouble in Tinseltown finishes. We begin at chapter 4 and continue the journey the girls are on. I am really loving how this story has been broken down into chunks, this is something that I am not normally keen on, I feel though it really suits the story. I enjoy discovering a new place along with the girls in different novellas.

Ciara is a brilliant character, she is likable an d believable. I still feel that I don't kbow Gem and Elle as well as I should. I am hoping that as the series progresses their characters will be developed.

I feel that out of the three girls Ciara is most like me, she is on holiday and although short is enjoying the guys, weather and bars. She also wants to explore these beautiful places. She is also still thinking about Zack, Elle' s very handsome cousin. She cannot believe her luck when he shows up in Miami.

These novellas do have to be read in order, there are spoilers if you reaffirm out of order. It also cannot be read as a stand a lone.

I cannot wait to read the next in the series. I would like to thank Aimee for sending me this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Trouble in Tinseltown - Aimee Duffy

Trouble in Tinseltown (Summer Flings #1)Trouble in Tinseltown by Aimee Duffy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part 1 of Summer Flings - a fun, flirty and laugh out loud rom com series of short stories.

Armed with a degree from Oxford that she doesn't have a clue what to do with, Ciara Bree convinces her two best friends, Elle and Gem to spend their first summer of freedom backpacking across the globe. Now it's time to shop, sunbathe, think about boys for a change, and party hard...

First stop: LA!

The girls hit Tinseltown for a few days of shopping, star spotting, and even a movie premiere!
But their plan to sneak into an exclusive celeb party in West Hollywood backfires. Elle's gorgeous older cousin, Zack, is called to the rescue and despite knowing she should stay away, Ciara just can't seem to resist him.

The ideal summer treat for those relaxing days soaking up the sun

Trouble in Tinseltown is the first in the Summer Flings series by Aimee Duffy. This is the first I have read by her and I enjoy her writing style.

This is a very short novella at around 40 pages and made this a perfect read for me travelling. I enjoy novellas that allow me to immerse myself in and I fell like the story has been concluded during a short period. Lately I have become quite busy and it is hard for me to find the time to read a book cover to cover. Novellas I find allow me to do this.

This story is about three girls who are off to travel the world and enjoy life while they are young. Elle has a rich grandfather who has many properties around the world and has allowed Elle and her friends to stay. Ciara is the more down to earth girl and comes from a different background to Gem and Elle.

I would say being so short we really get thrown into the action of the story, which I loved. The downside of this though I felt I didn't know the characters that well, however as the story developed I felt I got a better 'feel' for who the girls are.

This little novella packs a lot in. We have relationships, friendships, brushes with the law,and drama.

As the novella is so short I don't want to say too much about it, other than this is one to have on you for that commute or on holiday. I cannot wait to read the next instalment and follow the girls around the world. (Wishing I was with them!)

I would like to thank Aimee for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The weight of blood - Laura McHugh

The Weight of BloodThe Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A gripping debut psychological crime novel about family lies and dark secrets in an isolated community as a series of women go missing.

People still whisper about Lucy Dane's mother who vanished years ago from the town of Henbane, deep in the Ozark mountains.

When one of Lucy's friends is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost women: by the mother she never knew, and the friend she couldn't protect.

But her search for answers, in a place where secrets are easily concealed, leads her to a chilling discovery.

And with this revelation, she must grapple with the meaning of family, the secrets we keep, and the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love.

This is a psychological thriller set in the town of Henbane in the Ozark Mountains Arkansas. It centers around the Dane family spanning two generations opening when Lucy's friend is found murdered. She is haunted by the loss and mystery surrounding the murder and is reminded of her own mothers' disappearance when she was just a child. Lucy feels bound to find out what happened to both her friend and her mother.

The story in the main is told by both Lucy and her mother Lila and the author jumps from past to present using this split narrative throughout the novel to bring the two halves together thus solving the mysteries and conclude the story.

There are some good sound characters in this story with detailed scene and mood setting, add this to the very closely tight knit community complete with mistrust of outsiders, secrets and superstitions and you have a recipe for a good psychological thriller. McHugh does not disappoint; this is a well written novel with just the right amount of pace and suspense to keep the reader going right to the end.

We open with Lucy the daughter of Lila who has grown up in Henbane; she is upset about the disappearance of a school friend Cheri whose dismembered body is eventually discovered a year later hanging in a tree. Lucy is haunted by having worried about Cheri but not having done anything to find her. What happened to her and where she was for a year was the topic of conversation all through the spring but once the shock and fear of a killer being on the loose subsides her death fades and she is all but forgotten.

We first meet Lila when she arrives in Henbane in answer to a job vacancy signing a two year contract to work on the Dane farm; an orphan after her parents died in a car crash, she has been through the foster care system and is desperate to belong somewhere with people she can trust. She was passed from foster home to foster home until she reaches an age where she is old enough to find her own way. She learnt at an early age not to trust men having had to fend off sexual advances from the many foster fathers and sons' she found herself placed with while going through the 'system' which resulted in her moving seven times in six years.

Lila's foster sister Crystal said they got moved around so much because they were pretty and had big boobs, foster moms didn't want them tempting their husbands and sons. McHugh tells us that Lila is a hypnotic mystical looking creature, dark black hair and piercing ice green eyes, someone that people feel drawn to. She arrives in Henbane and is taken to a remote farm miles from the nearest town and although apprehensive she knows that she has no where else to go and has to make this work. She works both on the farm and as a waitress in Crete Dane's restaurant/cafe where she befriends another waitress Gabby and they become good friends. Lila also meets Carl Dane, Crete's younger brother and in time they become close. Locals mistrust strangers and Lila is no exception, having no family and reluctant to talk about her past, the town believes she had been cast out of her own community, rumor spreads that she is a witch.

The story does alternate between the two main characters going back and forth in time but McHugh does this very well and is able to maintain continuity so that the reader does not feel lost or confused. I enjoyed the story and the secrets that come out over the course of the book, the tight knit community and strong bonds that bind family loyalties comes through well.

It would not be fair to reveal more of the story so I won't but I would encourage others to read it for themselves and enjoy the journey of loyalty, secrets, truth and consequences. I would give this an easy 4 stars for an enjoyable first novel, Laura McHugh looks like one to watch!

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Fractured Man - Juliet Conlin

The Fractured ManThe Fractured Man by Juliet Conlin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

London, 1920. Elliot Taverley is an ambitious young psychoanalyst specialising in the new and controversial field of handwriting analysis. When he receives a visit from a man who seems to change personality when he copies others handwriting, Elliot is intrigued and soon becomes obsessed with the man and his mysterious disorder. Spiralling into an increasingly bizarre cat-and-mouse chase and with with his mind collapsing, Elliot is forced to confront his difficult childhood and the horrors of war in Arctic Russia in a desperate search for the truth. The Fractured Man is one of the most explosive debuts of the year a psychological thriller that takes us through a war-ravaged Europe and the dark minds that inhabit it to a shocking conclusion.

When I was contacted a couple of months back with the opportunity to read 'The Fractured Man' I thought it was a book that I would enjoy and said yes. I love a good thriller and this book promised with would be that.

This is a story about a man who has been tormented by the guilt of his childhood and World War 1. Right from the beginning few pages, this novel captures you with how intriguing it is. The plot is one that keeps you engaged throughout and it keeps you guessing right until the end.

It is very clear that Conlin has spent a lot of time on research on this book, the descriptive text in the book is exceptional. The book is well written throughout and is smooth to read. One negative that I do have about the book is that the climax was a little of a let down and this is the reason I have only given the book 4*.

If you like psychological thrillers and puzzles this is certainly the book for you, as a debut novel I think this is a cracking read and would be interesting in reading more from Conlin; I think she is a writer to look out for in the future.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

weekly wrap up, week 18 21/9/14

Welcome to another wrap up! This week I participated in a challenge that was created on Twitter, I had to read 7 books in 7 days. I thought I would stand no chance as I was working full time, but when I was told novellas counted I decided to give it a go. 

This week I have been sent: 

The Starter House by Sonja Condit
And the entire  series of Summer Flings by Aimee Duffy

This week I have bought: 
One for my hubby for Christmas, can  say what it is in case he reads this! 

Books I have read this week:

Trouble in Tinseltown 
Misbehaving in Miami
Point us to Paris
Geeks Go Greek
Ibiza Insanity
Flirting in Florence

Friday, 19 September 2014

Dear Daughter - Elizabeth Little

Dear DaughterDear Daughter by Elizabeth Little
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

'As soon as they processed my release Noah and I hit the ground running. A change of clothes. A wig. An inconspicuous sedan. We doubled back once, twice, then drove south when we were really headed east. In San Francisco we had a girl who looked like me board a plane to Hawaii.

Oh, I thought I was so clever.

But you probably already know that I'm not.'

LA IT girl Janie Jenkins has it all. The looks, the brains, the connections. The criminal record.

Ten years ago, in a trial that transfixed America, Janie was convicted of murdering her mother. Now she's been released on a technicality she's determined to unravel the mystery of her mother's last words, words that send her to a tiny town in the very back of beyond. But with the whole of America's media on her tail, convinced she's literally got away with murder, she has to do everything she can to throw her pursuers off the scent.

She knows she really didn't like her mother. Could she have killed her?

Dear Daughter is a difficult book to review I feel as to begin with I found it a bit of a struggle to get into. I felt that I didn’t give myself enough time to get into it and this spoiled my enjoyment in the beginning. Saying this I loved the way the story was laid out.

Janie has just been released from prison for murder; murdering her mother. The thing is, she has no memory for ever killing her; the evidence was stacked against her and so it was a done deal. Janie used to be a socialite and always in the media. Now she has been set free, she is trying to dodge the paparazzi, the media and try to find out the truth about who killed her mother.

I love how throughout the book as a reader we learn more about Janie through the eyes of the media, via newspaper clippings, the internet, police reports and family trees. I thought this was really clever and kept the reader interested. It felt you were helping Janie along the way to discover the truth.

As I was reading this book, I kept thinking this should be a book that I cannot put down. It has everything in it that would make me want to read and sounds right up my street. Janie however is not a likable character and I cared for her very little, this also made it hard for me to get through the book and this disappointed me as I had such high hopes for it. Little is excellent at characterisation and I think intended Janie to not be likable.

This book is really hard to review without giving away too much and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. If you like Gone Girl this should be a book you enjoy, there is a little crime and mystery; I doubt if you will see the ending coming. This is certainly a clever book and a very good debut novel.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Confessions - Kanae Minato

ConfessionsConfessions by Kanae Minato
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Her pupils killed her daughter. Now, she will have her revenge.
After an engagement that ended in tragedy, all Yuko Moriguchi had to live for was her four-year-old child, Manami. Now, after a heartbreaking accident on the grounds of the middle school where she teaches, Yuko has given up and tendered her resignation. 

But first, she has one last lecture to deliver. She tells a story that will upend everything her students ever thought they knew about two of their peers, and sets in motion a maniacal plot for revenge. 

Narrated in alternating voices, with twists you'll never see coming,Confessions probes the limits of punishment, despair, and tragic love, culminating in a harrowing confrontation between teacher and student that will place the occupants of an entire school in harm's way. You'll never look at a classroom the same way again.

When I spotted ‘Confessions’ I thought this sounded brilliant. I love a good thriller and being set in/around a school I thought it appealed to me as it sounded a little different. Being just over 200 pages I knew this was going to be a quick read; I didn’t anticipate just how quick of a read this was going to be. All I can say is wow! This book blew me away!

This is the first time I have ever read a Japanese translated book and I was unsure what to expect in relation to the translation; some books that have been translated that I have read; have not been that good. This was practically perfect and I would have struggled to realise it had been translated if it wasn’t mentioned.

A middle school teacher Yuko Moriguchi decides on the last day of term to announce she is retiring and tells her students one of the reasons she has decided to retire is down to the tragic ‘accident’ of the death of her four year old daughter at the school. Moriguchi, however knows it was not an accident and knows exactly who is responsible for the death; and it was a few students in her class.

This book is split into characters perspectives of what has happened during the time of the death and for the few months after. These form the chapters in the book; it makes the chapters rather long and not easy if you wish to stop reading, to visit the bathroom or make a cup of tea.

As I was reading the book I wondered how it was fitting into the ‘thriller’ genre as we knew right from the beginning exactly what had happened to the four year old. Going further through the book I began to understand and how the story was being to develop. It is a very clever story that stayed with me for some time after I had stopped reading. I also did not see the ending coming and I actually gasped out loud. This is the first time I have been completely surprised by a book and it really did shock me.

The story itself is truly horrific and shocking at times; which made the reader want to continue and although at points I didn’t want to continue reading I just could not put the book down. This is a very thought provoking book, it is addictive and will stay with you long after you have finished it.

It has made me want to shout from the streets what a brilliant book this is and encourage others to read it. This was a cracking read; I highly recommend it to anyone who loves psychological thrillers. This book was easily 5* from me and if I could have given it higher I would have, purely for the shock that I did not see coming!

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Story of Us - Dani Atkins

The Story of UsThe Story of Us by Dani Atkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A gripping love story from the bestselling author of Fractured.

Emma Marshall can't wait to marry her childhood sweetheart, Richard. But then a tragic accident changes everything, and introduces a stranger, Jack, into her life. Gorgeous and mysterious, Jack is like no-one Emma has met before. But Richard is the man she loves...

Two different men.

Two different destinies.

How will Emma end her story?

Dani Atkins is an author I have heard a lot about, I have ‘Fractured’ her debut novel on my bookshelf but have not yet got round to reading; however I had heard it is fantastic and its one that I must read and as soon as possible. So when I heard Atkins had a second book out ‘The Story of Us’ I couldn’t wait to read it. As this was the first book I have read by Atkins I didn’t really know what to expect, however I was excited to finally be able to discover this author.

The story starts with the end, Emma getting ready for a wedding; which I quickly began to think could be her own. You as a reader are then transported back to learn about ‘The Story of Us’ We are thrown into a fast paced scene which leads to a tragic accident and one that had me hooked right from the first few pages.

Although the accident includes Emma and her two friends Amy and Caroline and all is not well for them, I felt that I was able to really connect with the characters and got to know them well. The story was definitely an emotional one; one in which really makes you question decisions in your life and wonder what if… Reading the side story about Emma’s mum was one that got to me personally, I have experienced this first hand with another member of the family and know how distraught it can make you feel. (I don’t want to say too much as to spoil the book for you.)

I loved Jack in the story, he was such a hero and he comes across as someone genuine and completely different to Richard. Saying this I warmed to Richard towards the end; he managed to make me see a different side of him along with Emma. I feel that he too was truly sorry and perhaps not the same man as he once was. I also loved all the smaller characters in the story such as Monique, Emma’s boss at a bookstore. I love how we don’t come across her that much, but when we do, she lets us know exactly what she is like. Her personality is a big one and one that you instantly warm to.

I really enjoyed the way the story was written and the structure of it. I enjoyed at the end of the chapter a smaller section which brought me back to the present, before gradually slipping back into the past story, which leads us to the end. (I am probably not making much sense, but this is such a good story that I don’t want to give anything away. Trying to write a review for a book like this is truly difficult as I just want to scream from the rooftops how much I enjoyed it; and to tell the world about it, but I also do not want to include any spoilers!) I felt the coming together of the book was excellent, the writing was beautiful and everything was relevant, I read the book extremely quickly as I just had to know the story and how it ending. Looking back I wished I had savoured it for a little as it was a beautiful story and one that I am not going to miss. Saying this it is going to become one of my firm favourites on my bookshelf and one that I will be returning to again and again.

I now cannot wait to go back and read Atkins debut novel ‘Fractured’ and hope she writes quickly for her next book. Atkins is an author I feel that is going to be popular for a long time if she continues to write like this.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

weekly wrap up 17- 14/9/14

Welcome to another wrap up!
Another week has gone by and I have been settling in at my new school. Because of this I have not managed to read anything. I am getting into a routine and I am hoping next week will be better. 

This week I have been sent: 

I'll take New York by Miranda Dickinson
Shopaholic to the Stars by Sohie Kinsella (finished copy)
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey 

This week I have bought: 

Books I have read this week:
Still reading Shopaholic to the Stars

All these books I have read I have reviewed, look out for the reviews on The Book Corner soon.

What have you received/bought this week?

How much reading have you managed to get done? Leave me a comment below to connect. 

I hope you all had a great reading week and thanks for stopping by today.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Top 10 books that have influenced my life Tag

Top 10 books that have influenced my life: 

I was nominated for this tag by my sister in - law; the rules of this tag are simple, just 10 books that have influenced your life and then nominate 2 others to do the same. 

Right; my choice in books can be sporadic, sometimes I love curling up with a chick lit, (I must admit these are my favourite reads, something light hearted to escape from busy life.) Thrillers/ crime and lately I have discovered Young Adult. I feel I am a bit late to the party, with YA. I feel that it has only been recently that this genre really took off; when I was young enough for YA to be the genre for me, little of it was available and so I quickly developed a feel for chick lit and women's fiction. I have enjoyed discovering YA and feel that they can be deeper than other genres I have read and cover many emotional issues. 

So here they are: 

1. Katy Laura and The Dream Boat by Elisabeth Foster. 

This is a favourite book from my childhood. It is very short at 31 pages and includes coloured pictures. This was one book that I remember really enjoying as a child to read alone. It is a magical book and one not many people have heard of. I enjoy this as it felt that I was keeping a secret a long with the dream boat. (You would need to read it to understand that completely.) Although it is a book I regularly read by myself it is in relatively good condition; once it does fall apart it will be one I replace. 

2. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

This was the first Sophie Kinsella book I ever read and it will remain to be a favourite of mine. Love the humour in the book and the unlikeness of the plot. This is pure escapism from busy working life. 

3. The Cities Book by Lonely Planet

This non- fiction book helps full my love of travel; I love viewing cities that are not as popular as destinations and try to work out how I will be able to get to them. 

4. P.S I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

This book was one of the first books I read that really sparked emotion. I am not one of these people who cry from reading books but this one really got to me. 

5. Me and Mr Darcy by Alexander Potter

Ok, I am going to say it and that is, I have never read any books by Jane Austen, I don't really know why this i, but they never really appealed to me. When I read this book I fell in love with it. I loved the magical element that was present in the book. This has actually encouraged me to read Pride and Prejudice one day. 

6.  The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl 

I loved all Roald Dahl's books growing up but this was my favourite. I enjoyed it because it wasn't too long so I was able to read this a lone. I also loved the idea of it. Truly magical. 

7. Double Act by Jacqueline Wilson

I loved Jacqueline Wilson's books. This was the first book that I discovered by her and from then I was addicted. I would say I think it was Wilson and her books that really began to develop my love of reading. As a kid, I didn't find reading easy. I hated reading allowed and I still do today. Her books really opened me to a different world and since then I have read hundreds of books. I have a lot to thank Jacqueline Wilson for. 

8. A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines

This book I studied for my GCSE English about 12 years ago and it is one book that I really got into and developed a love for English. This isn't the easiest book for some people but I made a connection with is and it was from there that I decided to choose English to further my education. 

I am struggling to choose just 2 other books as ones that have influenced my life as I am so lucky to read so many great books, so although this tag is meant to be 10 books I have only included 8. 

My nominations for this tag now are:

Candy = @hollow_star42
Sophie = @sophieRTB

can't wait to see you books lovelies :D

Renaissance Of The Heart by Lori M Jones blog tour, extract and giveaway!





After her husband of fifteen years comes out of the closet, a blindsided, forty-year-old Amanda Lewis is forced to salvage what remains of her shattered heart and navigate a new life for herself and her teenage daughter. But will a sizzling secret romance with a famous young NFL quarterback lead her to winning the life she deserves or set her up for her biggest loss yet? As she embarks on the journey of rebuilding her home, Amanda discovers that finding forgiveness and repairing her damaged self-worth are her biggest challenges of all. While searching her soul–and even searching inside her city's history–she finds answers. But will answers come too late and can a broken heart ever be truly fixed?


Chapter 1

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." -Anne Bradstreet


Six days of relentless self-pity mingled with bouts of guttural sobbing. Pain so persistent her hair hurt. The raw grief now behind her, Amanda recognized the brilliant face of hope poking through her dank mood, offering a piece of relief from the misery. Although an unshowered, disheveled mess, she intended to celebrate hope. The sunshiny face of hope. Her focus now, along with surviving a Saturday night alone, would be getting to the root of why he left, and then fixing the problem.

Three drops of red wine cascaded from the glass's rim, adding another stain to Amanda's sweatpants. Making her way to the sofa, her comforting friend, she tugged at the drooping waistband. One benefit to Derrick announcing the end to their fifteen year marriage one week ago, she mused, was the loss of a few pounds. What a cruel diet plan. She flipped through the movie channels unable to find one she hadn't already seen this week. Enough with the nauseating love stories.

The remote hit the floor as she reached for her cell phone, which alerted her to a new text. Probably another friend checking in or a family member inviting her to a sympathy dinner, she thought.

It was Derrick. His name on the phone screen shot a ball of sickness into her gut. After a quick response, she bolted up the steps to her bedroom, hitting her sister's number on her speed dial on the way.

"Deb, Derrick wants to meet me for a drink tonight. What do you think?" Amanda asked, yanking her pink sweater from the hamper, Derrick's favorite.

"I think maybe he finally got his head out of his ass and wants his perfect life back." Her sister's irritated tone evident and expected. But his life obviously hadn't been perfect here, and Amanda had to know what she did to cause his departure.

With another sigh, Amanda spoke, not really wanting advice or comfort, but just needing her sister's reassuring company. "I'm not sure what's gonna happen, but I'm nervous, really nervous."

"Text me if things aren't going well and I'll come over and key his precious Beamer in the parking lot."

Amanda laughed—a laugh only her sister could create. "That would be wonderful. Thank you!"

"You got it. Hey, because of this snowstorm coming in, Lilly's going to just sleep over. Don will bring her home in the morning if the roads are clear, okay? It's teen horror movie night at the Pucharelli household!"

"Sounds great. Lilly deserves a fun distraction. Thanks again!" Although the thought of her daughter not sleeping in the next room tonight caused a wave of sadness to wash across her heart, she knew she needed to focus on Derrick.

"Good luck tonight, Mand. Be tough."

After dressing, she peered into Lilly's room. What would life be like for Lilly if Derrick stayed away for good? How many other nights would Amanda spend alone in this house? With a hard sigh, she headed to the garage.

In typical Pittsburgh fashion, the gray January sky hung low, the snowflakes increasing in volume. Amanda's impractical choice of pumps over snowboots screamed vanity, but her attempt to look attractive for her husband reflected her desperation and her hope he would come home to her. Praying out loud in her SUV over the blaring courage-building music, she pleaded with God to end this nightmare. With a glance upward into the grayness, she petitioned for her greatest fear to be dispelled; Derrick had found another woman.

Since his departure, her imagination had played out the possibility of infidelity. Pulling into the restaurant's parking lot, her mind traveled there one final time. Perhaps their basically sexless marriage had been a warning of his unhappiness. He had been visiting the gym more often and wearing cologne at odd times. Could those be signs of a new love?

She forced the gear shift into park while sucking in one more breath. She entered the snowy night.

Her eyes, sore from crying the night before, scanned through the trendy restaurant. She moved through the irritating noise of people engaged in conversations and followed the sounds of the Saturday night crowd into the bar. A pungent waft of heavy garlic turned her stomach.

She instantly recognized the back of his dirty blonde hair, shiny with hair products. Derrick turned in his barstool. Dressed as if he had just walked from a Banana Republic ad in his dry-cleaner pressed khakis and lime green oxford, he faced her, looking as handsome as the day they had met in college. She thought it unfair his graying temples only added to his good looks. Locking eyes, she felt the same excited flutter she had when she spotted him in their Greek Mythology class nineteen years ago. Her mind knew his scent before she was close enough for her nose to detect it.

Standing with an exaggerated eagerness, he pulled out a barstool and slid it toward her. She interpreted this as his attempt to avoid hugging her.

"Hey…hi there, Amanda."

"Hi...Hey, Derrick, how are you?"

Their words stumbled over each other's like two people on a blind date attempting small talk, weighted with awkwardness. Keeping the discussion to the topic of Lilly, their only child, they finished half of their beers. Although not typically affectionate with each other in public, she touched his thigh twice during their conversation, reminding him she had been his wife for a long time.

"Look," he said, redirecting his eyes to the dwindling foam on top of his beer.

She tensed. Pushing her long auburn hair over her shoulder, she knew conversations starting with "look" are typically not good.

"I have something difficult to tell you but I think it's something you've known all along."

"What?" Her eyes hit his, and then fell to her glass. Her heart pounded.

"Will you look at me, please?"

She did. In the moment of silence, she studied his flawless face and remembered the times she would joke he had a prettier face than she had. His tired eyes, she thought, seemed to be straining, perhaps trying to tell her his news without having to speak.

He blew a long breath through his lips, proclaiming, "I'm seeing someone."

She knew it. With three words, her fear turned reality.

"Who? What… who?"

"It's not important--"

"Not important? Who is she? How long, Derrick, has this been going on?" His secretary? A woman at the gym?

"It's a man, Amanda. I'm seeing a man. I'm gay. I'm so sorry. I've known for long time--"

"No. No. You're joking…" Her head shook as if it could knock out his words.

"Amanda, I'm sorry. I need to end the lying."

Her breathing paralyzed; her body wanted to faint, to shut down. The blood left her head and her limbs. From deep within her gut, she forced out, "You bastard." A week ago when Derrick walked out of the house with a suitcase he had packed without her knowledge, she thought there could never be a greater feeling of shock than at that moment. But, she had been wrong.

Caught in a nightmare, she needed to escape. She wanted to run, to scream, to grab a vodka bottle from behind the bar and smash it across his beautiful face. Jolted by laughter from a group of men watching the NFC Wild Card playoff game next to her, she started to breathe again.

Questions rattled in her mind like coins loose in a spinning dryer. Voice quivering, she asked, "Why? Why all these years of lying? Why now? Why cheat on me and not be honest? Do I deserve that?"

His face twisted in anguish as he attempted to explain, "It never seemed like the right time to hurt you or Lilly. I was happy, most of the time. You are… my best friend. I do love you, Amanda." His patronizing touch on her arm burned. "I pushed it away. I tried every day to push who I was away so we could have our life. Then I met Jake and I knew I couldn't live this lie any longer. I couldn't face you and Lilly anymore."

Since his words weren't diminishing the sting, she attacked, "I hate you. I hate you so much."

The polished young couple next to them halted their possibly first or second date conversation to look her way in stunned curiosity, causing Amanda to swallow her words. She cursed him internally for doing this to her in public.

Looking away from all eyes, pretending to watch the football game, something she would ordinarily enjoy, she continued in a weak whisper, "You are nothing but a coward and a liar. You stood in a church and promised to love me forever and honor me. You're a liar. Oh my God, you're definitely leaving me. You have a boyfriend! Oh my God…"

Unlike a week ago when his announcement left her frozen, staring at him unable to cry, the tears came easily now. She buried her face into a napkin and watched a mental video of their life together. Then flashed the signs. Signs that should have told her he was gay. He had loved cooking and shopping. Were those signs? Of course not, her mind yelled as she pressed her fingers into her temples. What about a voice inside her whispering that something was not quite right?

Though what he told her clearly ended their marriage, her mind searched for ways to fix the situation. Her heart naively searched for hope. Maybe this was a temporary mid-life crisis?

He touched her shoulder. Pulling her posture upright, she inhaled causing the anger to devour the sadness, creating a strength needed to continue. "Why not do this before we walked down the aisle? You robbed me of fifteen years of my life." Then she saw Lilly's face. If they had not walked down that aisle, there would be no Lilly, no beautiful Lilly.

"I wish I had been brave enough to face who I was back then. I'm so sorry. I loved you and I chose you, Mand. I know I was a coward. I suppose I let society's expectations of me decide my fate. But I'm ready now to start my life over."

Start his life over? So, he rewound the video of his life so he could record a new one, erasing her. Her thoughts froze and she ended the questioning. Outwardly, anyway.

They discussed the cold details of divorce: lawyers, living arrangements and Lilly. Gracious and giving at this point due to his guilt, Amanda doubted he could remain agreeable throughout a divorce process. The Derrick she knew loved a good argument.

Author Bio:

Lori lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she writes women's and children's fiction. RENAISSANCE OF THE HEART is her debut novel. She's also the author of children's books, RILEY'S HEART MACHINE and CONFETTI THE CROC, both written with the hope that children will celebrate what make them unique. She's also written award-winning flash fiction pieces and her articles have been featured in various publications.

Lori serves on the Board of Directors for the Children's Heart Foundation and is the president of their Pennsylvania chapter. She visits schools to speak about writing, about the human heart and about embracing what makes you special.

Besides writing and spreading awareness about Congenital Heart Defects, her passions include her two daughters, her husband, Mark, her Pittsburgh sports teams and running in 5Ks. Lori is a member of Pennwriters and she loves her local writing groups! She is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication and journalism. She also holds a paralegal certificate from Duquesne University and is a former Washington, D.C. paralegal. Visit her website at www.lorimjones.com.

*RILEY'S HEART MACHINE (Guardian Angel Publishing)


(Soul Mate Publishing, Spring 2014)

*CONFETTI THE CROC (Winter 2014) www.facebook.com/LoriMJonesAuthor


1 x $25 Amazon Gift card

1 x free download of Renaissance of the Heart.

a Rafflecopter giveaway OR http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be030174/

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Drumbeats by Julia Ibbotson Blog tour, guest post and giveaway!


Drumbeats: can you ever escape your past?

Drumbeats is the first novel in a trilogy and follows 18 year old English student Jess through her gap year in West Africa. It's a rite of passage novel set in the mid-1960s when Jess flees her stifling home background for freedom to become a volunteer teacher and nurse in the Ghanaian bush. Apprehensively, she leaves her first real romantic love behind in the UK, but will she be able to sustain the bond while she is away? With the idealism of youth, she hopes to find out who she really is and do some good in the world, but little does she realize what, in reality, she will find that year: joys, horrors, and tragedy. She must find her way on her own and learn what fate has in store for her, as she becomes embroiled in the poverty and turmoil of a small war-torn African nation under a controversial dictatorship. Jess must face the dangers of both civil war and unexpected romance. Can she escape her past? And why do the drumbeats haunt her dreams?

Drumbeats Trilogy:


Can you ever escape your past?

Walking in the Rain

How do you cope when your worst nightmare comes true?

Before I Die

Can Jess’s bucket list bring resolution to her life?


August 1965, Ghana

It was hotter than Jess had ever imagined in her eighteen years. Flying in from the UK bound for Accra, she had left the late August skies of the dull wet dreariness of an English summer. But as she stepped off the Ghana Airways VC10, she felt the heavy all-encompassing heat which shocked her system. Although it was only six o’clock in the evening, it was already dark and close.

The flight from London Heathrow had been a long and tiresome six hours and she had felt drained as she pulled down her cabin bag from the overhead and shuffled along the aisle behind the other travellers, nodding and swaying to the strains of the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” on the VC10’s tannoy system. Her mother would have a fit: her Rulebook said no pop music; it’s the work of the devil, and no dancing: Jessamy, anyone would think you were a slut. So in the holidays, when she was home from boarding school, she’d listened to Pick of the Pops furtively in her bedroom, ear pressed to the radio.

Now, as she climbed down the steps in the heat-stifling darkness to take her first stride on African soil, she was recharged with excitement.

She was aware of the male flight attendant standing at the foot of the aircraft’s steps, watching her with undisguised admiration as she climbed down. She navigated the steps as gracefully as she could in her tan wedge-heeled sandals. In the heat, she was glad that she had thought to scoop up her auburn-gold hair loosely into a ponytail. She let go of the rail with her left hand for a moment to smooth her pale pink cotton mini dress over her slim figure. At least she wasn’t irritable and demanding like the other passengers who pushed behind her as if they were in a great hurry.

The flight attendant watched her all the way down the steps and then wiped his palm on his trousers, and held it out courteously to steady her from the last step. She took it in her own cool soft hand for a brief moment.

“Thank you so much, John. Bye now,” she smiled as she passed him and headed for the small wooden shack that served as an airport building.

“No problem, miss. Welcome to Ghana.”

“How did you know his name?” hissed Sandra, from behind her. Jess turned. She noticed that John did not take Sandra’s hand. His eyes and grin were still focussed on her.

“It’s on his name label,” whispered Jess. They walked together across to the arrivals building. “OK?”

“OK. Long flight. Tired,” answered Sandra curtly. She had been unusually quiet during the flight and, it seemed, almost close to tears on occasion. Jess put her free hand on Sandra’s arm.

“It’ll be fine. Honestly. I know you’re missing Colin.” In the short time Jess had with Sandra after they were teamed up to travel to the same school in Ghana for their gap years, she had learned all about the chap Sandra was leaving behind for a year. Sandra showed her a photograph. Oh dear, he looked a lot like Maurie. Not fanciable. AT. ALL! She herself had said little about her own personal life, and the guy she had left behind. She wanted to keep him to herself. Her first real grown-up relationship. Simon. His name still tasted so new on her lips and in her head. Had she done the right thing in dutifully fulfilling the contract to come out here, even though they had only just got together? Would he wait for her? They were an item, weren’t they? She frowned and bit her lip.

About the Author:

Julia Ibbotson lives in a renovated Victorian rectory in the English countryside with her husband (four children, now grown up, having fled the nest), along with lots of apple trees, a kitchen garden and far too many moles. She is an author and academic, and loves choral singing, walking, swimming, gardening and cooking (not necessarily at the same time). She started writing as soon as she could hold a pencil in her tiny fist and has not stopped since, much to the bemusement of her long-suffering husband who brings her endless cups of coffee and sometimes even makes the dinner when she is distracted and frowning at her laptop.

She wrote her first novel when she was 10 years old, sadly never published and long since consigned to the manuscript graveyard. She loves writing novels with a strong sense of time and place and that is the basis of her latest, Drumbeats, the first of a trilogy which follows Jess through the trials and tribulations of her life. It starts with Jess on her gap year in Ghana in the 1960s.

She has also written the story of the restoration of her rectory in The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen, which also interweaves recipes from her farmhouse kitchen and which has won a number of international awards.

Recently she found an old manuscript gathering dust in her drawer, one she had originally scribbled when she was still at school, many years ago. It was a children’s story about a boy who slips through a tear in the fabric of the universe to find himself in a fantasy medieval world. She is currently blowing off the dust and redrafting it for her publishers to let it loose on the world in the autumn. It’s called S.C.A.R.S.

She loves to hear from readers (it’s a pleasant distraction from her steaming keyboard), so do get in touch via the links.

Author Links

Author page on Amazon:

Author email: juliaibbotson@btinternet.com

Author website:


Overall tour giveaway on tour is 1 x ecopy of Drumbeats (International), Postcards/Key Rings/Bookmarks (UK) and will be managed via Rafflecopter. Widget code to be shared nearer the start of the tour.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

With A Friend Like You - Fanny Blake

With a Friend Like YouWith a Friend Like You by Fanny Blake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beth is a woman in supreme control of all aspects of her life and family, with a stellar career and her house an oasis of calm. Her closest friend, Megan, is very different; somehow she swims through the chaos of her family with ease, the clutter on the stairs, the cat footprints on the kitchen work space. And while they could not be more different, Beth and Megan have a genuine friendship built on years of laugher, tears and true understanding of each other's strengths and weaknesses. Because that's what friends do, isn't it?

But when Beth's daughter reveals a surprising secret, a wedge is driven between Beth and Megan. What begins as mild recrimination and misunderstanding develops into a full-blown row and then a simmering feud. As the two women square up to do battle in the London suburbs, there's everything to play for. All's fair in love and war...

With her wisdom, insight and wicked humour, Fanny Blake shines a light on to female friendships, in this delicious tale of two so-called best friends.

The story centers around two family matriarchs Beth and Megan. A friendship that has spanned many years they are the best of friends although two very different characters.

Beth is the organised professional lawyer with a pristine household with Jon her husband and two daughters Ella and Amy. Ella is not unlike her mother, organised, controlled, knows what she wants out of life and Amy is the complete opposite.

Megan is almost the opposite of Beth; she has a more laid back attitude to life, is a teacher in a primary school married to Pete and has a daughter Hannah and a son Jake. Megan we learn was friends with both Jon and Pete (Pete she eventually marries) who are also best friends long before Beth arrived on the scene but once she became part of the group Megan and Beth became instant friends.

The two women and their families have been very close for a number of years, holidaying together, sharing trials and tribulations, being there for each other in times of stress, each leaning on the other for support. They have a deep understanding of each other intuitively knowing what the other would think or do in a given situation so we are told.

Their easy going relationship suddenly is thrown into chaos when Ella finds she is pregnant and after initially refusing to name the father she eventually drops the bomb. This is bad enough but when Beth finds out that Ella has confided in Megan before she told her mother everything spirals out of control and the friendship of the two women and families is put to the test. Not being able to forgive Megan for not telling her Beth is also hell bent on convincing Ella to have an abortion so that she does not ruin her life.

Fanny Blake takes the reader on a journey through the friendship of both the women, their husbands and children on how this situation affects them all. It is well written and has some good emotive passages. I don't know that I particularly found this book to be funny as such, it was realistic and relevant but not laugh out loud funny as the blurb suggested it might be so that was a little disappointing. I was frustrated that after the initial news of Ella being pregnant nothing significant happened really until around page 256 when another secret is revealed that adds to the drama.

I liked Megan, I thought that Beth however was too wrapped up in herself, it appeared that whatever happened or was said she took personally and it became all about Beth when in fact it shouldn't have been. I felt sorry for Jon who she seemed to neglect, his feelings were not really considered by her she felt that everyone should be considering her feelings above all others which made her appear shallow and self-centered. She seemed to be a control freak and when this was taken away from her she couldn't cope with others taking charge of their lives. She exaggerated every situation blowing it out of all context and I felt that she made trouble and problems where they didn't really exist. I felt so sorry for her patient husband Jon forever trying to pacify her and make her see sense all the elements that she practiced for her clients as a lawyer but she failed to have in her toolbox for herself.

Megan appealed much more to me as a character; she was warm, loving, a bit scatty and easy going. Yes I could understand how she was caught in the middle and collateral damage in the crossfire and I really wanted her to tell Beth to 'get a life' and stop being such a pain in the arse but she was much too nice. And what about Pete? Megan certainly deserved better in my opinion, always away and when he was home he came across as a bit of a drunk and unconcerned in anything happening around him. Poor Megan.

Two women so close who profess to know each other so well, would have I am sure ironed out their differences sooner that these two did. Megan should have known that Beth would react badly to Ella telling her of her pregnancy first and therefore should have refused to keep such a secret from her dearest friend, so this didn't really ring true for me. In turn Beth knowing how easy going Megan was really wouldn't have felt that she couldn't have discussed this with her without turning the whole thing into a battle ground so again given the background of such closeness it didn't work for me.

Why couldn't Ella feel she could confide in her mother? This was never made clear at all. Ella although meant to be driven and focused on her career and future, a sensible logical woman appeared to fall at the first hurdle. It did come across that Ella was spoiled and indulged and perhaps that's why she behaved as she did. She came across as rather cold towards Beth and doting on Jon presumably this added to Beth's behavior in the book.

I felt that the story could have been so much shorter, it was very repetitive in parts and quite predictable in others; there were a couple of curve balls and it was well written which in my opinion saved it.

All in all this didn't really have enough happening in it to keep me sufficiently interested, in fact I felt that Beth was so miserable and self-centered that I really got past the point of caring whether it all turned out well for the two families. I thought Megan and Pete would be better off without the friendship and Megan certainly deserved a better friend and a better deal.

I did struggle to finish this book but it was mainly due to Beth being such a pain and making me feel that I wasn't engaged with her enough to care about whether she stayed friends with Megan, whether the birth of her first grandchild made her relationship with her daughter any better, or whether the long suffering Jon gave up and went to live in a hippy commune somewhere with the lovable Megan - which actually would have made a better ending! Not really believable enough for me I'm afraid. I can only give this one 3.5 stars (rounded up to 4 for Amazon and Goodreads) and that's due to a couple of good twists and liking Megan.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.