Friday, 29 June 2018

Missing Pieces by Laura Pearson

Missing PiecesMissing Pieces by Laura Pearson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What if the one thing that kept you together was breaking you apart?

All Linda wants to do is sleep. She won’t look at her husband. She can’t stand her daughter. And she doesn’t want to have this baby. Having this baby means moving on, and she just wants to go back to before. Before their family was torn apart, before the blame was placed.

Alienated by their own guilt and struggling to cope, the Sadler family unravels. They grow up, grow apart, never talking about their terrible secret.

That is until Linda’s daughter finds out she’s pregnant. Before she brings another Sadler into the world, Bea needs to know what happened twenty-five years ago. What did they keep from her? What happened that couldn’t be fixed?

A devastating mistake, a lifetime of consequences. How can you repair something broken if pieces are missing?

This is a well written book with some beautifully crafted passages describing feelings and heart aching memories that come out of a tragedy. The book is written in 2 parts that happen about 20 years or so apart. The characters are multi faceted and cleverly layered allowing their relationships to come through in an intriguing way. Despite all this I felt a little detached from the characters and it made reading the book as just a story that I had no emotional connection with. It was also very depressing and sombre in places making it very heavy in places. The tragedy that happened affected those that were involved for over 20 years and although there was closure and the promise of new beginnings it still left me feeling dismal and empty at the end. Maybe it just wasn't my type of genre but I didn't enjoy it, it has to have at least 3 stars for the excellent writing but honestly I wouldn't put it high on my recommendation list.

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

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Writing Retreat Information

Have you ever wanted to be whisked away somewhere remote to get that book inside you written? And do you wish that you had expert guidance and support to help you while you did it?

If you answered yes to the above questions then you should definitely continue reading this post which is going to tell you all about the Atelier des Ecrivains (Writers’ Workshop) retreat.

Becky and Sarah who are co-hosting the writing retreat, and are both writers themselves, know that there are lots of people who harbour a desire to write a book but may either lack the confidence, the skills or the headspace to actually do it. They also know from experience that removing yourself from your daily life, with all of its pressures and interruptions, and coming together with like-minded people can be a great way to overcome those barriers. Where better to do that than in a beautiful 18th century manor house outside one of France’s prettiest villages, Aubeterre?

Helen Cross, author of My Summer of Love, which was turned into a Hollywood film starring Emily Blunt and whose other novels, screen and radio plays entertain people all over the world will be leading the workshop. She is an experienced teacher of creative writing and currently teaches on the MFA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, UK. The combination of skills and experience offered by Helen, Becky and Sarah will be invaluable to authors at all stages of their writing journey.


Getting started – Thursday 20 to Monday 24 September, 2018 For people at the beginning of their writing journey, this workshop will help you develop your writing skills, find your creative voice, thematic material and literary style: create credible characters and reveal them through dialogue and active, dramatic scenes: and build your world - structure, point-of-view, and narrative voice. With a small group of up to 10 writers, we are promoting an environment of creativity and support with one-to-one feedback sessions and time for questions and answers.

Keeping going – May, 2019 For people who have already started their writing journey, this workshop will enhance your skills even further, help you overcome barriers and enable you to shape your words into the brilliant piece of work you know it has the potential to be.

Getting published – September 2019 For people reaching the conclusion of a writing project, this workshop is designed to support the final stages of writing and editing, and will contain lots of useful information about how to get published and successfully market your book. You can find out more information about the hosts, venue and workshops here. To book your place or to contact the hosts, you can visit the website here.

I don’t know about you but I would very much like to go on this writing retreat!

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Missing Pieces by Laura Pearson

What if the one thing that kept you together was breaking you apart?

All Linda wants to do is sleep. She won’t look at her husband. She can’t stand her daughter. And she doesn’t want to have this baby. Having this baby means moving on, and she just wants to go back to before. Before their family was torn apart, before the blame was placed.

Alienated by their own guilt and struggling to cope, the Sadler family unravels. They grow up, grow apart, never talking about their terrible secret.

That is until Linda's daughter finds out she’s pregnant. Before Bea brings another Sadler into the world, she needs to know what happened twenty-five years ago. What did they keep from her? What happened that couldn’t be fixed?

A devastating mistake, a lifetime of consequences. How can you repair something broken if pieces are missing?

Laura Pearson has very kindly written a guest post for me on writing tips! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Guest Post:
Writing tips

I feel like a bit of a fraud writing a blog post with this title, even as my first novel is being published and my second one is going through edits. The truth is, I never really know what it is I’ve done that’s worked, and why other things haven’t. It’s so hard to be critical of your own work, when you’ve spent weeks and months and possibly years working on it and you cannot possibly be objective about it. Having said all that, I’ve been doing this (or trying to) for a really long time, and along the way I’ve picked up a few tips that I’d love to share with you. They’re not revolutionary, but they are simple and true (as far as I’m concerned).

1. Write as often as you can

I don’t really like it when people say you have to write every day. Writing every day is ideal but it’s not always practical. Writers have jobs and they’re parents and they have responsibilities and they can’t always prioritise writing over these things, especially when there’s no guarantee that they’ll ever be paid for their writing work. So if you have to skip a few days because work is insane or the kids are ill, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just get back to it when you can, and pick up where you left off.

2. Read as much as possible

We all know that reading is crucial for writers, right? Reading great writers is the best masterclass in writing you’ll ever get, in my opinion. And forget any literary snobbery you’ve come across in the past. Read whatever you want to read. Read the books you think your book might sit alongside in the market; read the classics; read the books you loved as a kid. Learn from books you think don’t work, and learn from those you can’t put down. And then channel it all into your own writing.

3. Help other writers to help yourself

I’ve only really discovered the writing community on Twitter fairly recently, and it’s wonderful. There are so many kind readers and writers out there who want you to succeed. So whether you’re looking for competitions to enter, hoping to connect with other writers for feedback or trying to find your way through the tricky publishing process, the best way to help yourself is to help others and then let them help you right back. I promise you, those people are there, ready and waiting. Join them.

Monday, 25 June 2018

The Distance - Zoe Folbigg

From the author of the bestselling novel,The Note, comes this beautiful, romantic tale of finding love in the most unexpected places.
Under the midnight sun of Arctic Norway, Cecilie Wiig goes online and stumbles across Hector Herrera in a band fan forum. They start chatting and soon realise they might be more than kindred spirits. But there are two big problems: Hector lives 8,909km away in Mexico. And he's about to get married.
Can Cecilie, who's anchored to two jobs she loves in the library and a cafe full of colourful characters in the town in which she grew up, overcome the hurdles of having fallen for someone she's never met? Will Hector escape his turbulent past and the temptations of his hectic hedonistic life and make a leap of faith to change the path he's on?
Zoƫ Folbigg's latest novel is a story of two people, living two very different lives, and whether they can cross a gulf, ocean, sea and fjord to give their love a chance.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

The Death of Mrs Westaway - Ruth Ware Blog Tour

The Death of Mrs Westaway by [Ware, Ruth]When Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she’s inherited a substantial bequest from her Cornish grandmother, it seems like the answer to her prayers. She owes money to a loan shark and the threats are getting increasingly aggressive: she needs to get her hands on some cash fast.
There's just one problem - Hal's real grandparents died more than twenty years ago. The letter has been sent to the wrong person. But Hal knows that the cold-reading techniques she’s honed as a seaside fortune teller could help her con her way to getting the money. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a stranger's funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her.
Hal makes a choice that will change her life for ever. But once she embarks on her deception, there is no going back. She must keep going or risk losing everything, even her life…


Chapter 1

The girl leaned, rather than walked, into the wind, clutching the damp package of fish and chips grimly under one arm even as the gale plucked at the paper, trying to unravel the parcel and send the contents skittering away down the seafront for the seagulls to claim. As she crossed the road her hand closed over the crumpled note in her pocket, and she glanced over her shoulder, checking the long dark stretch of pavement behind her for a shadowy figure, but there was no one there. No one she could see, anyway. It was rare for the seafront to be completely deserted. The bars and clubs opened long into the night, spilling drunk locals and tourists on to the pebbled beach right through until dawn. But tonight, even the most hardened partygoers had decided against venturing out and now, at 9.55 p.m. on a wet Tuesday, Hal had the promenade to herself, the flashing lights of the pier the only sign of life, apart from the gulls wheeling and crying over the dark restless waters of the Channel. Hal’s short black hair blew in her eyes, her glasses were misted, and her lips were chapped with salt from the sea wind. But she hitched the parcel tighter under her arm, and turned off the seafront into one of the narrow residential streets of tall white houses, where the wind dropped with a suddenness that made her stagger, and almost trip. The rain didn’t let up; in 4 fact, away from the wind it seemed, if anything, to drizzle more steadily as she turned again into Marine View Villas. The name was a lie. There were no villas, only a slightly shabby little row of terraced houses, their paint peeling from constant exposure to the salty air. And there was no view – not of the sea or anywhere else. Maybe there had been once, when the houses were built. But since then taller, grander buildings had gone up, closer to the sea, and any view the windows of Marine View Villas might once have had was reduced to brick walls and slate roofs, even from Hal’s attic flat. Now, the only benefit to living up three flights of narrow, rickety stairs was not having to listen to neighbours stomping about above your head. 

Tonight, though, the neighbours seemed to be out – and had been for some time, judging by the way the door stuck on the clump of junk mail in the hall. Hal had to shove hard, until it gave and she stumbled into the chilly darkness, groping for the automatic timer switch that governed the lights. Nothing happened. Either a fuse had blown, or the bulb had burnt out. She scooped up the junk mail in the dim light filtering in from the street, doing her best in the darkness to pick out the letters for the other tenants, and then began the climb up to her own attic flat. There were no windows on the stairwell, and once she was past the first flight, it was almost pitch black. But Hal knew the steps by heart, from the broken board on the landing to the loose piece of carpet that had come untacked on the last flight, and she plodded wearily upwards thinking about supper, and bed. She wasn’t even sure if she was hungry any more, but the fish and chips had cost £5.50, and judging by the number of bills she was carrying, that was £5.50 she couldn’t afford to waste. On the top landing she ducked her head to avoid the drip from the skylight, opened the door, and then at last, she was home. 5 The flat was small, just a bedroom opening off a kind of wide hallway that did duty as a kitchen, a living room and everything else. It was also shabby, with peeling paint and worn carpet, and wooden windows that groaned and rattled when the wind came off the sea. But it had been Hal’s home for all of her twenty-one years, and no matter how cold and tired she was, her heart never failed to lift, just a little bit, when she walked through the door. In the doorway, she paused to wipe the salt spray off her glasses, polishing them on the ragged knee of her jeans, before dropping the paper of fish and chips on the coffee table.

 It was very cold, and she shivered as she knelt in front of the gas fire, clicking the knob until it flared, and the warmth began to come back into her raw red hands. Then she unrolled the damp, rain-spattered paper packet, inhaling as the sharp smell of salt and vinegar filled the little room. Spearing a limp warm chip with the wooden fork, she began to sort through the mail, sifting out takeaway leaflets for recycling and putting the bills into a pile. The chips were salty and sharp and the battered fish still hot, but Hal found a slightly sick feeling was growing in the pit of her stomach as the stack of bills grew higher. It wasn’t so much the size of the pile, but the number marked FINAL DEMAND that worried her, and she pushed the fish aside, feeling suddenly nauseous. She had to pay the rent – that was non-negotiable. And the electricity was high on the list too. Without a fridge or lights the little flat was barely habitable. The gas . . . well, it was November. Life without heating would be uncomfortable, but she’d survive. But the one that really made her stomach turn over was different to the official bills. It was a cheap envelope, obviously hand-delivered, and all it said on the front, in biro letters, was ‘Harriet Westerway, top flat’. 

There was no sender’s address, but Hal didn’t need one. She had a horrible feeling that she knew who it was from. Hal swallowed a chip that seemed to be stuck in her throat, and she pushed the envelope to the bottom of the pile of bills, giving way to the overwhelming impulse to bury her head in the sand. She wished passionately that she could hand the whole problem over to someone older and wiser and stronger to deal with. But there was no one. Not any more. And besides, there was a tough, stubborn core of courage in Hal. Small, skinny, pale and young she might be – but she was not the child that people routinely assumed. She had not been that child for more than three years. It was that core that made her pick the envelope back up and, biting her lip, tear through the flap. Inside there was just one sheet of paper, with only a couple of sentences typed on it. Hal’s stomach flipped and she felt in her pocket for the piece of paper that had turned up at her work this afternoon. They were identical, save for the crumples, and a splash of tea that she had spilled over the first one when she opened it. The message on them was not news to Hal. She had been ignoring calls and texts to that effect for months. It was the message behind the notes that made her hands shake as she placed them carefully on the coffee table, side by side. Hal was used to reading between the lines, deciphering the importance of what people didn’t say, as much as what they did. 

It was her job, in a way. But the unspoken words here required no decoding at all. They said, we know where you work. We know where you live. And we will come back. The rest of the mail was just junk and Hal dumped it into the recycling, before sitting wearily on the sofa. For a moment she let her head rest in her hands – trying not to think about her precarious bank balance, hearing her mother’s voice in her ear as if she were standing behind her, lecturing her about her A-level revision. Hal, I know you’re stressed, but you’ve got to eat something! You’re too skinny! I know, she answered, inside her head. It was always the way when she was worried or anxious – her appetite was the first thing to go. But she couldn’t afford to get ill. If she couldn’t work, she wouldn’t get paid. And more to the point, she could not afford to waste a meal, even one that was damp around the edges, and getting cold. Ignoring the ache in her throat, she forced herself to pick up another chip. But it was only halfway to her mouth when something in the recycling bin caught her eye. Something that should not have been there. A letter, in a stiff white envelope, addressed by hand, and stuffed into the bin along with the takeaway menus. Hal put the chip in her mouth, licked the salt off her fingers, and then leaned across to the bin to pick it out of the mess of old papers and soup tins. Miss Harriet Westaway, it said. Flat 3c, Marine View Villas, Brighton. The address was only slightly stained with the grease from Hal’s fingers, and the mess from the bin. She must have shoved it in there by mistake with the empty envelopes. Well, at least this one couldn’t be a bill. It looked 8 more like a wedding invitation – though that seemed unlikely. Hal couldn’t think of anyone who would be getting married. She shoved her thumb in the gap at the side of the envelope, and ripped it open. The piece of paper she pulled out wasn’t an invitation. It was a letter, written on heavy, expensive paper, with the name of a solicitor’s firm at the top.

 For a minute Hal’s stomach seemed to fall away, as a landscape of terrifying possibilities opened up before her. Was someone suing her for something she’d said in a reading? Or – oh God – the tenancy on the flat. Mr Khan, the landlord, was in his seventies and had sold all of the other flats in the house, one by one. He had held on to Hal’s mainly out of pity for her and affection for her mother, she was fairly sure, but that stay of execution could not last forever. One day he would need the money for a care home, or his diabetes would get the better of him and his children would have to sell. It didn’t matter that the walls were peeling with damp, and the electrics shorted if you ran a hairdryer at the same time as the toaster. It was home – the only home she’d ever known. And if he kicked her out, the chances of finding another place at this rate were not just slim, they were nil. Or was it . . . but no. There was no way he would have gone to a solicitor. Her fingers were trembling as she unfolded the page, but when her eyes flicked to the contact details beneath the signature, she realised, with a surge of relief, that it wasn’t a Brighton firm. The address was in Penzance, in Cornwall. Nothing to do with the flat – thank God. And vanishingly unlikely to be a disgruntled client, so far from home. In fact, she didn’t know anyone in Penzance at all. Swallowing another chip she spread the letter out on the coffee table, pushed her glasses up her nose, and began to read. A chip fell from her fingers onto Hal’s lap, but she did not stir. She only sat, reading and rereading the short letter, and then turning to the list of accepted forms of identification document, as if that would elucidate matters. Substantial estate . . . beneficiaries of the will . . . Hal’s stomach rumbled, and she picked up the chip and ate it, almost absently, trying to make sense of the words in front of her. Because it didn’t make sense. Not one bit. Hal’s grandparents had been dead for more than twenty years.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

One Summer in Italy - Sue Moorcroft blog tour

When Sofia Bianchi’s father Aldo dies, it makes her stop and look at things afresh. Having been his carer for so many years, she knows it’s time for her to live her own life – and to fulfil some promises she made to Aldo in his final days.

So there’s nothing for it but to escape to Italy’s Umbrian mountains where, tucked away in a sleepy Italian village, lie plenty of family secrets waiting to be discovered. There, Sofia also finds Amy who is desperately trying to find her way in life after discovering her dad isn’t her biological father.

Sofia sets about helping Amy through this difficult time, but it’s the handsome Levi who proves to be the biggest distraction for Sofia, as her new life starts to take off…


Picking up her pace, Sofia whisked through the utility yard and out the other side, taking the steps down to the low, staff-only gate that led to the strip of garden overrun by vine that disguised what Benedetta grandly termed the two ‘apartments’ beneath the terrace for the live-in staff. Hotel guests wandering about the sloping gardens below the terrace would have to approach

almost up to the fence of the utility yard in order to stumble upon the gate. The Morbidellis shared an apartment up in the eaves of the hotel and Sofia suspected it was not the kind best hidden behind a garden filled with rampaging vine.

Once through the gate, Amy’s accommodation lay behind the first faded green door and Sofia’s behind the second. She let herself into her room and breathed a sigh of relief at the drop in temperature that came along with stone walls, tiled floor and only one window. Despite it

being furnished economically, Sofia liked her room. The white walls made it airy, the bedclothes were pretty but simple in blue and white. There was enough room for the clothes she’d brought with her and the chest of drawers provided somewhere for her box of costume jewellery and makeup bag.

She stripped, left her clothes in a heap and stepped into the small shower room. The lukewarm water felt fantastic as it sluiced down her body and, defying Benedetta’s warnings about not wasting water, even though Umbria received more rainfall than most of Italy, she gave herself up to

the pleasure of being cool for several blissful minutes.

Finally, she stirred herself to wash. When dry, she teamed a white dress with shiny black flip-flops, then brushed her hair into a high ponytail and picked up her purse.

After retracing her route to the front of the hotel she cut across the car park to Il Giardino. From there she could see Amy hurrying through the tables wearing a set expression while Davide grinned slyly at her rear view. It looked as if Davide had bagged the centre section again and as the only empty table in the place was in that area, Sofia headed towards it.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Perfect Match by D.B. Thorne

Perfect MatchPerfect Match by D.B. Thorne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Solomon's sister is found drugged and in a coma after an online date, Solomon can't believe this was just a terrible accident. Determined to find out what happened to his sister, and with the police unwilling to help, Solomon begins to investigate on his own. He soon uncovers a rash of similar cases of women who have been found brutally murdered or assaulted after an online date. There is a predator out there working the streets of London, preying on young women. Solomon sets out to bring him to justice, putting him on a collision course with a deadly killer who is fiendishly clever and more twisted than anyone could possibly imagine...

After reading the blurb of this one it really got me excited. We alive in a digital age now, where meeting strangers online for dates is the norm, so what actually happens then if/when something goes wrong? I am sure this is something most women in particular perhaps don't like to think about and being married, thankfully I haven't had to give online dating a second thought. Saying this, I was interest in the premise of the book and couldn't wait to get started.

Can I just say though, the image on the front of the book has absolutely nothing to do with the story, I kept reading thinking, surely there is going to be a domestic and someone will set fire to the house, no, this never happened. I am unsure why this was chosen for the front cover...

Tiffany has been admitted to hospital after a night out, one where she was meeting a potential date, she is in a really bad way after being found half drowned and is now currently in a coma. Solomon is Tiffany's brother and he wants the police to find out exactly what has happened and for the person responsible to be caught.

The book really is the journey of Solomon, we learn a lot about him, his past, how he has become the person he currently is and his backstory. It did feel at times like Tiffany's story was sidelined as we got to know more about Solomon and his brother. This was O.K and I did enjoy what I read, however it was not exactly what I was expecting.

Overall the story was O.K, it was very clever in places with the dates all being linked but just not what I expected.

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

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Wilde like me - Louise Pentland

You’ll never forget the day you meet Robin Wilde…

Single mum Robin Wilde adores her six-year-old daughter and loves her job as a make-up artist's assistant. She has a wonderful best friend and an auntie who is bonkers, yes, but loves her to the moon and back.

But Robin has a secret. Behind the mask she carefully applies every day, things just feel ... grey. And lonely. She struggles to fit in with the school mum crew. Online dating is totally despair-inducing, and she worries every day about raising her little girl with self-confidence, courage and joy.

What Robin longs for is someone (over the age of six) to share with - someone who's always on her team.

After 4 years (2 months, and 15 days!) of single-mum-dom, it's time for Robin Wilde to Change. Her. Life.

Exciting new opportunities are about to come Robin's way. Perhaps a man, perhaps the chance of a lifetime.

What will Robin do with the possibilities she creates for herself? And what potential will she unlock if she takes the leap?

Opening my eyes very slowly, I’m greeted by the glare of the mini Christmas tree lights (which I forgot to switch off before I fell asleep) and a hot body pressed up against me, with one arm draped heavily over my chest and the other digging a little painfully into my back.

The first week of January is supposed to feel like a fresh start. This one really doesn’t. I’ve barely slept these last few days, even though I’m exhausted, and when I do close my eyes, I dream of falling into nothing and then wake up with a start.

As my bedroom comes into focus, I roll over and ever so gently stroke her hair. Her lashes are longer than mine but her little nose is the same. I watch her breathe for a few moments and wonder how someone like me managed to have such a perfect daughter. Six years feels like six months. It’s true what they say about them growing up too fast. I’m delving into thoughts of how this tiny person makes my life what it is when I’m jolted back firmly to reality. There’s a rustling in my kitchen.

I check my phone: it’s 7.45 a.m. I stagger downstairs, leaving a half-asleep Lyla where she is, to find my Auntie Kath in the kitchen surrounded by every single thing that lives in a cupboard or drawer. No longer in their assigned place, all my culinary possessions are strewn across every inch of counter surface available. This is a reasonable-sized kitchen and though the counters are scratched and the breakfast bar is a slightly wobbly stub of counter offcut and the dining table cost £4 in a charity shop, I love it. I love my cool mint tiles that Dad helped me put in last year (Granny, who lived here before me, had this waterproof floral wallpaper that even Dad agreed was hideous) and beach-themed art. In the summer, when the light streams in through the glass doors, this kitchen is the brightest, freshest room in the house. In the winter, when there’s less light and we string lights over the cabinet tops and make mulled wine (‘Mummy’s special Christmas Ribena’), it’s a great place to sit at the table and wrap presents or make cards. I love this space even more when everything I own isn’t stacked up on the worktops or in piles on the off-white lino (OK, my limited funds haven’t stretched yet to anything nicer, and, really who wants to spend money on flooring?).

Instantly I wish I hadn’t given Auntie Kath a set of keys. And I really should have wiped down the surfaces before I collapsed into bed.

‘My New Year’s Resolution is to declutter!’ Auntie Kath says, with way too much gusto for the time of day. It’s six days into the new year and Kath is ready to go. I’d love to be that ready for anything.