Love at the Northern Lights by Darcie Boleyn #blogtour @DarcieBoleyn @canelo_co

Today I’m delighted to be sharing a review of a book by one of my favourite romantic fiction authors, Love at the Northern Lights by Darcie Boleyn. Huge thanks go to Ellie at Canelo for the invite.

About this book…

Climbing out the window in her dress and tiara wasn’t exactly how Frankie imagined her wedding day…’

Runaway bride Frankie Ashford hops a plane to Norway with one goal in mind – find her estranged mother and make peace with the past. But when a slip on the ice in Oslo lands her directly in Jonas Thorsen’s viking-strong arms, her single-minded focus drifts away in the winter winds.

When it comes to romance Jonas knows that anything he and Frankie share has an expiration date – the British heiress has a life to return to in London that’s a world away from his own. But family is everything to Jonas and, as the one man who can help Frankie find the answers she’s seeking, he’ll do whatever it takes to help her reunite with her mother.

Now, as Christmas draws closer and the northern lights work their magic Frankie and Jonas will have to make a choice…play it safe or risk heartbreak to take a chance on love.

My review…

Darcie Boleyn is one of my favourite romance authors so it’s always a pleasure reading her latest book. She consistently manages to sweep me away to wonderful locations and Love at the Northern Lights is no different. Norway is a place that I’ve never even thought about visiting but the descriptions of Oslo made me want to “do a Frankie” and jump on the next plane over there!

Leaving your fiancé at the alter takes a lot of courage but Frankie did exactly that! Although I couldn’t blame her once I met aforementioned fiancé but still, it seemed a very extreme way to end a relationship. Frankie wasn’t the most likeable of characters to begin with, I found her a little spoilt and shallow but that soon changed once she arrived in Oslo. The journey to reconnect with the mother who abandoned her as a baby was a brave one to take but it lead to her meeting Jonas, the Thor lookalike, who lives a life a million miles away from the one enjoyed by Frankie. Their resulting romance is a sweet, and almost innocent, meeting of perfect soulmates that brought a warm fuzzy glow to my heart.

This is a captivating tale of lost opportunities, forgiveness and taking chances that pulled me immediately into the beautifully written storyline. I adored Jonas, especially his outlook on life, so I think we definitely need more Norwegian men in romantic fiction! And now I’m off to price up that weekend break in Oslo!

Great romance highly recommended by me.

Meet the author…

Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

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Ravens Gathering by Graeme Cumming #BlogTour @LoveBooksGroup @GraemeCumming63

Today I have a guest post from author Graeme Cumming and I’m also resharing my review of Ravens Gathering as part of the blog tour.

About this book…

As she let her gaze drift around her, she saw that there were more birds. Perhaps a dozen or so, perched among the trees that stood on the edge of the clearing. And yet more were arriving, swooping down through the gap overhead and landing on branches that overlooked them. The birds weren’t threatening, yet the sight of them all coming together in this dark and isolated spot was unnerving. Tanya reached a hand out towards Martin, and was relieved to feel him take it. She felt him move in behind her. After the uncertainty she’d experienced with him in a similar position only a few moments ago, she recognised the irony of her reaction. His closeness offered security.

“You know what they are, don’t you?”

A stranger’s arrival in a small village coincides with a tragic accident. For the Gates family in particular it’s more than a coincidence, but unease increases following a brutal attack. As tensions rise, a dark past returns to haunt them and others, while newcomers to the village are drawn into a mystery with terrifying consequences.

And only a select few know why the ravens are gathering.

Guest post-Living in the past by Graeme Cumming…

It isn’t immediately apparent, but Ravens Gathering is set in 1989. If you’ve read the book, you might wonder why that point in time. A lot of the themes are timeless, so it could just as easily have been set in the present day.

The reality is that, while there are a few good reasons for setting it in the late 1980s, ultimately, it’s because that was a time I felt connected to.

Anyone who reads my blog will know that it’s not demanding, and that’s largely because I’m not a prolific blogger. Sometimes there’ll be short bursts where a few posts appear in quick succession, but it’s just as likely that a month or more will pass before I produce anything. When I do, though, if it’s not about my writing, it’s usually an opportunity for me to take a trip down memory lane. The two key themes come under the headings Gogglebox and The Gigging Years.

As the names suggest, these posts focus on TV shows I used to watch as a kid, and concerts I went to as a slightly bigger kid. As I watched a lot of TV in my childhood, and went to a lot of gigs in my teens and twenties, it’s safe to say that I haven’t really scratched the surface there yet. Do feel free to come on over and read a few if you like that kind of thing.

Nostalgia isn’t something new. In the ’70s, there was a phase when music harked back to the ’50s, with artists like Showaddywaddy and Shakin’ Stevens covering old hits. We also had TV shows like Happy Days set in the same era.

More recently, we’ve seen other signs of popular culture reflecting the ’70s and ’80s. Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes went far enough to cover both decades. So, without planning to, it could be argued that I jumped on the same bandwagon. Though the reality is probably that, like me, the people producing this stuff have their own experiences rooted in those times and are just trying to recreate their lost youth.

Aside from that the nostalgia for the time, there are other books planned with very good reasons to be set in the ’70s and ’80s, and there will be some cross-contamination of characters. That means it made sense to have Ravens Gathering set in a similar period, but it also allows me loads of opportunity to indulge myself with references to TV, movies and music of the day.

I specifically picked 1989 because that was the year I first got the idea for the story (it took me a looong time to get my act together and write it). But I also noticed some similarities between the late ’80s and when I began writing it around 2010. Back then we had a financial crisis. Interest rates shot up, house prices plummeted after rising sharply, and the stock market took a tumble. Interest rates didn’t rise in 2008, but the other things were largely repeated. It struck me that it was worth including references to this to remind us all that everything changes yet stays the same. We can only hope an exception is made where the hairstyles are concerned…

I love this guest post, it’s the perfect post for my blog. When you read my review you will see why! Now about those hairstyles in 1989…

My review…

So as you know I don’t normally review Sci-fi or fantasy books but after becoming a big fan of this authors blog where he posts some interesting observations about music and 1970s tv shows, I knew I wanted to read his fictional debut no matter what genre he was writing in. And to be honest I’m quite a contrary madam anyway! I say I don’t like Westerns but my favourite ever film is The Searchers, I say I don’t like Historical Fiction but my favourite ever book is Forever Amber and I say I don’t like marmalade but give me a jar of Roses Lime Marmalade and a pile of toast and I’m in heaven!!! And although I’ve always said I’m not a fan of sci-fi I now have to admit that *whispers* my eldest daughter is named after a character in the 1970s sci-fi series Blake’s 7. So hopefully that explains why I was happy put all my preconceived notions about sci-fi and contemporary fantasy novels aside and order a copy of Ravens Gathering from Amazon and OMFG am I glad I did!

For me, to get all the stars in my review ratings a book has to do one of two things -be totally unputdownable or to surprise the hell out of me!! Ravens Gathering has the enviable honour of doing BOTH of those things! I couldn’t put this book down! I read the first 40% in one sitting then life got in the way and I had to stop reading for a day but that first session really built up the tension for me. I have to say though that it left me wondering where on earth the author was going with the storyline. There was such a menacing undertone but I couldn’t work out WHY!! There were a lot of characters to get to know which was why I wanted to keep reading so I could get them all straight in my head. Most of them were pretty unlikable and seemed to be hiding a multitude of secrets but I do have to say that I loved Tanya from the moment I met her! Her character was built up perfectly without becoming too much of a cliché and, although as a woman I should probably have disliked her actions and attitude intensely, I had a soft spot for her recognising the vulnerability hidden behind her motivation.

Then I read from 40% to the end! WTF?! I saw all the clues but had missed them big time and I was left speechless (yes I know, hard to believe!!). The last few chapters were dark, shocking and full of some very violent and disturbing scenes so do be warned!!! This author has one brilliantly warped imagination!! Mostly though, things aren’t implicitly described which I think is scarier as you tend to conjure up your own worst nightmares instead!

There is a visual feel to the village setting of this novel that inspired me to draw comparisons with a few films, mainly Straw Dogs and The Wicker Man (one of my favourite films-the 1973 version with Edward Woodward still scares the hell out of me!!) and I had to laugh as my first thought when the village pub was entered was also The Slaughtered Lamb from An American Werewolf in London which is mentioned by one of the characters later on.

I absolutely loved Ravens Gathering and am desperate to see if the village will be revisited by the author in any future books. I would like to just say that it’s very difficult to pigeon hole this novel into any particular genre so I would like to see Graeme Cumming branching out into something a little bit more commercial now he has published his all important, personal first book. He has an engaging writing style that is able to conjure up such visions with just a few choice phrases (I loved chapter 14 in part 4 so much I had to reread it-such an evocative observation) so I would love to see him reaching a wider audience bringing him the commercial success and recognition that he deserves.

Highly recommended by me!

Ravens Gathering is available to buy now by clicking on the title which takes you to Amazon UK. (Affiliate link)

Meet the author…

Graeme Cumming lives in Robin Hood country, and has spent most of his life immersed in fiction – books, TV, movies – turning to writing his own during his early teens. He is currently Education Director at Sheffield Speakers Club, is an enthusiastic sailor (and, by default, swimmer), and enjoys off-road cycling.

**Cover Reveal** The Step-Sister by Jenny O’Brien @rararesources @ScribblerJB

I’m absolutely thrilled to be revealing the cover today for one of my favourite writers! The Stepsister by Jenny O’Brien will be released on 29th October 2018 and here’s a little more about it!

About this book…

When a stranger leaves step-sisters, Victoria and Ness, a half-share in a house in Holland, they think it must be a mistake.

But there’s no mistake when Ness goes missing.

Desperate for the truth, Victoria heads to Holland to find out what happened to her. Has she, as her texts show, embarked on a whirlwind romance? Has someone abducted her or even worse?

But there’s someone watching, and that person wants her dead.

Can Victoria find out the truth before it’s too late?

The Prologue…

I died yesterday, or so I’ve been told.

Yesterday is the day my life changed but how or why is still a mystery. There are things I know and there are things that they’ve told me but I can’t seem to trust any of it.

I know I’m a woman but I don’t know my age. I know how to hold a cup in the same way I know it’s rude to stick the end of a knife in my mouth. So, somewhere along the way, someone cared enough to drill manners into me. Those are the things I know, the things I can trust but as for the rest…

They tell me I’m in Holland but can I believe them? I don’t remember if I’m Dutch but I also don’t remember if I’m not. I can’t speak Dutch. I’ve been trying all morning but can one lose a language overnight? I seem to have lost everything else. Who knows? Maybe I took the wrong train or something and just rolled up in the wrong city. That would make sense except that it’s not just my sense of place that’s missing. It’s my sense of everything. I have no name, no age and no identity. Yesterday I died and today I’m still here.

They’ve left me alone now while they try to puzzle out what to do and in the meantime I’m going to try to remember stuff. I don’t know how long they’ll leave me alone but I need to take this opportunity to come up with some answers to all the questions they’ve been throwing at me like who the hell I am.

Slipping out of bed I recoil as bare feet meets cold tiles, but that’s not going to stop me. Pulling the back of the hospital gown closed in an effort to retain some degree of dignity, I shuffle over to the bathroom and then the mirror only to stare into the face of a stranger.

It doesn’t matter what I look like or that I’m suffering from the worst case of bed-head known to man. It doesn’t matter that my eyes are green or that my hair is that shade of nondescript mouse that keeps colourists in business. The only thing that matters is my reflection, which holds no clues as to my identity. I’m a stranger to them. I’m a stranger to me.

My body holds a clue though – just one.

I push up my sleeve again to stare at the tattoo on my arm. The tattoo puzzles me. It’s not me, or part of me or who I think I am and yet it’s there, a large indelible letter V.

I have no idea what it stands for. Oh, I’m not stupid or anything or, at least I don’t think I am. I can’t quote which exams I’ve passed or if indeed I’ve ever attended school but I do know V stands for victory. But what does it mean to me? Am I victorious? Am I making a statement about something? It must be important because it’s the only tattoo I have. It’s also the only clue.

I’m tired now. My eyelids collapse over my eyes even as I struggle to shift them upwards as I remember the cocktail the nurse told me to swallow like a good girl. I want everything to go away. I want to hide under the blankets and forget. I’ve already forgotten…

About the author…

Jenny O’Brien was born in Ireland and, after a brief sojourn in Wales, now resides in Guernsey.

She’s an avid reader and book reviewer for NetGalley in addition to being a RoNA judge.

She writes for both children and adults with a new book coming out every six months or so. She’s also an avid collector of cats, broken laptops, dust and happy endings – two of which you’ll always find in her books.

In her spare time she can be found frowning at her wonky cakes and even wonkier breads. You’ll be pleased to note she won’t be entering Bake-Off.

And now for the main event!! Here it is!!

The Cover…

Wow!! How amazing it that!? I can’t wait to get stuck in. And look out for my review as part of the blog tour in a few weeks!

The After Wife by Cass Hunter #BlogTour

Today I’m delighted to be sharing my review of The After Wife by Cass Hunter as part of the blog tour.

About this book…

When Rachel and Aidan fell in love, they thought it was forever.

She was a brilliant, high-flying scientist. He was her loving and supportive husband.

Now she’s gone, and Aidan must carry on and raise their daughter alone.

But Rachel has left behind her life’s work, a gift of love to see them through the dark days after her death.

A gift called iRachel.

My review…

This is a rather unique book, unlike anything else I have read recently! Although I’ve seen a similar theme used in films such as AI, I’ve never actually come across it’s use in this genre before! But I’m always up for a challenge and was incredibly intrigued by the blurb so got stuck in straightaway!

A warning for the emotional among you that you may need tissues pretty much from the start of this. Rachel is living a perfect life with her husband and daughter until an accident takes her away from them. But Rachel had a little trick up her sleeve to provide comfort to her devastated family-the gift of iRachel. This cleverly designed artificial intelligence experiment has been a closely guarded secret by brilliant scientist Rachel and she is about to use all the information left to her to comfort the two people that Rachel loved the most.

It was incredibly easy to become involved in the lives of those that Rachel had left behind. Seeing the effects of Rachel’s loss from multiple points of view I was able to see how they coped with their bereavement, each needing different things from iRachel. I connected more with Chloe as I felt her loss the most due to her age. Teenage girls always think they don’t need their mums anymore but it’s probably the time they need them the most-teenage girls can be vicious!! Chloe’s relationship with her peers started to unravel at a time she really needed the support of her mother. Would iRachel be able to support Chloe as a real mother would? Would it be easier if she had all the empathy of a true parent or not?

This is quite an emotional storyline despite the rather unusual scientific plot. I found myself holding my breath, unable to contemplate how the author would bring everything to a satisfactory conclusion i.e. One that I was happy with!!! iRachel was a wonderful character and I wanted her to become “a real person” with real feelings and emotions so she could experience life to the fullest potential and not be restricted by her own capabilities.

The After Wife was a heartbreaking tale of loss, acceptance and finding the courage to move forward and to keep on living. If I had one tiny little quibble about the plot, I have to say that I would have found the creation of iRachels personality and endeavour would have had more meaning and a greater significance if Rachel had definitely known she was going to die so young instead of the way she actually died. Just a minor point but I felt it would have made her programming of iRachel more pertinent. But this didn’t detract from this wonderful exploration of what it is to be alive and that although we have our differences, we share a common humanity that is hard to ignore.

A lovely book that means I will look out for more by this author in the future.

Meet the author…

Cass Hunter was born in South Africa and moved to the UK in 2000. She lives in North London with her husband and two sons. She is an avid lifelong learner, and works at a London university. Cass Hunter is the pen name of Rosie Fiore, whose novels include After Isabella, What She Left, Babies in Waiting and Wonder Women.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech #BlogTour @OrendaBooks

I’m very excited to be on the blog tour for The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech. Many thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for inviting me and my review copy of the book.

About this book…

Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it?
What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?

My review…

I left it quite late to read this new masterpiece from the wonderfully gifted author Louise Beech so when something happened in my family recently I realised that Louise’s book possibly wasn’t the best one to read at that particular time. The reason being that Louise Beech has an exceptionally rare gift of being able to evoke such strong emotions in her readers that I knew it would affect me deeply. And that if I started crying I probably wouldn’t be able to stop. But I LOVE Louise’s writing so much and had been looking forward to The Lion Tamer Who Lost for such a long time that when I couldn’t sleep the other night, I opened it up…and didn’t put it down again until 3 and a half hours later when I finished it. And then I sobbed my heart out for about an hour!!! This book broke down all the barriers I had constructed around myself and to be honest, it was just what I needed.

Everything about this book worked for me. It drew me in so gradually, that I actually lost track of time and everything happening around me. I became intensely and completely involved in the lives of both Ben and Andrew, more so once those two lives then became entwined. The setting of the lion reserve where Ben volunteered was so vividly brought to life I could almost feel the heat of that African sun bearing down on me. The relationship Ben developed with the lioness cub Lucy was a joy to watch as their mutual trust evolved and it brought a lump to my throat. But that was nothing compared to the emotions that came along later. The relationships that followed were real, complicated, heartbreaking, intense and painful but I was unable to tear myself away from the inevitability of the outcomes of these connections.

I love this woman’s books so much-Louise Beech is a literary genius!!!And she even manages to get better with every single book that she brings out! But although I found myself completely caught up in the haunting atmosphere and the powerful emotions it stirred within me, I didn’t actually cry until it finished. But by the closing pages this book had burrowed its way into my heart, and those final few words then exploded in there, broke it and me into a million pieces. I was a snotty, hyperventilating mess by the end.

I was involved in the cover reveal for The Lion Tamer Who Lost which was a huge honour for me and I loved the original cover. But that cover was changed and I can see why now that I’ve read the book. This new cover captures the heart and soul of this stunning piece of literature perfectly. It’s a beautifully written piece of fiction about love, loss, humanity and forgiveness. Don’t read without tissues!!!

BUY THE BOOK!!!!

Meet the author…

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Her third book, Maria in the Moon, was widely reviewed and critically acclaimed. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

**Cover Reveal** The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North @Lauren_C_North @TransworldBooks

I’m so excited today to be one of the Bloggers involved in the cover reveal for The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North. As soon as I saw the blurb for this one, I knew it was a reveal that I just had to be involved in. So let me begin by tempting you with that aforementioned blurb!

About this book…

‘I thought she was our friend. I thought she was trying to help us.’

After the sudden death of her husband, Tess Clarke is drowning in grief. All she has left is her son, Jamie, and she’ll do anything to protect him – but she’s struggling to cope.

When grief counsellor Shelley knocks on their door, everything changes. Shelley is beautiful, confident and takes control when Tess can’t bear to face the outside world.

But when questions arise over her husband’s death and strange things start to happen, Tess begins to suspect that Shelley may have an ulterior motive. Tess knows she must do everything she can to keep Jamie safe – but who can she trust?

Meet the author…

Lauren writes psychological suspense novels that delve into the darker side of relationships and families. She has a lifelong passion for writing, reading, and all things books. Lauren’s love of psychological suspense has grown since childhood and her dark imagination of always wondering what’s the worst thing that could happen in every situation.

Lauren studied psychology before moving to London where she lived and worked for many years. She now lives with her family in the Suffolk countryside. Readers can follow Lauren on Twitter @Lauren_C_North and Facebook @LaurenNorthAuthor

Now this book isn’t out until 14th March 2019 but today is the day that the cover is revealed to the world! So here it is!!

The Cover…

I absolutely love this cover!! It’s definitely one that’s going to stand out! I personally can’t wait to read The Perfect Betrayal so make sure you add it to your “ones to watch out for in 2019” list.

Many thanks to the author for sending over the cover. And watch out for a review from me later on in the year!

Some Kind of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher #BlogTour

I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today for Some Kind of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher. Huge thanks to Katie Ashworth for inviting me and for my review copy of the book.

About this book…

When the love of your life says you’re not The One, what next?

After celebrating a decade together, everyone thinks Lizzy and Ian are about to get engaged.

Instead, a romantic escape to Dubai leaves Lizzy with no ring, no fiancé and no future.

Lizzy is heartbroken – but through the tears, she sees an opportunity. This is her moment to discover what she’s been missing while playing Ian’s ‘better half’.

But how much has Ian changed her, and who is she without him?

Lizzy sets out to rediscover the girl she was before – and, in the meantime, have a little fun . . .

My review…

I adore Giovanna Fletchers books so was really looking forward to Some Kind of Wonderful. It follows a slightly different path from her previous books but that’s not a negative just an observation! But don’t worry fellows fans, it’s still the wonderfully funny and open Giovanna Fletcher that we all know and love!

Lizzie and Ian have been together since, like, FOREVER and surely the next step after the long term romance and the flat is that ring on her finger followed by the wedding of her dreams. But on a luxury holiday to Dubai, Ian tells Lizzie that he has realised that she’s not THE ONE!! Devastated, she returns to the UK and leaves their shared home to return to her mum and stepfathers house. But there she starts to realise how far she has deviated from the girl she used to be. Could this break be the making of her and give her the life she should be living?

Giovanna Fletcher always manages to create wonderfully strong female characters but I wasn’t sure I really liked Lizzie to begin with as she didn’t seem happy with her relationship with Ian and came across as a bit ungrateful. After 10 years she did seem overly obsessed with getting that engagement ring on her finger instead of just being content with her relationship as it was. But gradually, I warmed to her especially once she was back in the supportive arms of her family. And what a family they were! I loved the easy going relationships she had with her sister, mother and stepfather plus her father. The whole family dynamic was a joy to experience and that was my favourite part of the storyline. It was fresh and funny with often unexpected bittersweet confessions that I’m sure will resonate with so many of her readers.

This is a journey of self rediscovery for Lizzie that follows her through the peaks and troughs of life post Ian. I wasn’t sure how it was going to end and was glad that Giovanna Fletcher took the path she did. I loved the epilogue and thought it was the perfect finish to what had proceeded it. Whilst probably not my favourite of her books, it’s still a fabulous read especially as it’s a bit of a departure for her usual style.

A funny, feelgood read from the “mummy” of the romantic comedy.

Meet the author…

Essex-born Giovanna is an actress, blogger, vlogger and presenter. She is married to Tom Fletcher from McFly/McBusted and is mum to their two boys Buzz and Buddy. She lives in Middlesex with her family and is a patron of CoppaFeel! as well as a Number One Sunday Times bestselling author. Together with her husband, she wrote the Sunday Times bestselling novel EVE OF MAN.