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Vanishing Act by Charlie Hodges

Synopsis

A darkly funny whodunnit of sex, death and the tragi-comedy of old age

Ex-SAS officer Tom Knight is now a 73-year-old private detective in a seaside town, with a bad leg, a taste for good weed and a morbid fear of growing old. He’s also fallen in love with Fran, a sprightly 52-year-old carer at a retirement home. The bad news is that she’s dumped him for lying about his age.

So when she’s framed for the murder of three old ladies at the home he resolves to win her back by proving her innocence. His quest takes him behind the town’s veil of respectability, into a murky world of Oxbridge hookers, a lovelorn Tarot card reader and England’s most obnoxious policeman. He even faces up to his fear of old age and dementia, by going undercover at the care home where the murders happened.

But will it be enough to win back the lady of his dreams?

Proving that you’re just as young as you feel, the Tom Knight mysteries combine delicious comedy with a precision-engineered plot.

 

My review

This is a cosy mystery rich with black comedy. We have an unusual – for this genre – protagonist in the elderly Tom, but he’s as energetic as any younger one! You do worry  a bit about his hips and knees when he gets into kerfuffles, but he’s made of stern stuff! I hope I’ll be that robust at his age…

Mature Tom has the added benefit of experience and wisdom, both of which he uses when dealing with the intriguing case, but unfortunately not so much when dealing with the attractive Fran.

The plot is clever and the action brisk. It’s an absorbing, bittersweet read, and highly enjoyable. The author has a lively, light style that’s gripping and entertaining.

 

The book will be published in mid September by Farrago. Pre-order here.

I received an ARC via Netgalley, and this is an unbiased, honest review

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A French Affair by Jennifer Bohnet

What will be will be…

Belinda Marshall’s idyllic teenage life in Brittany, France, fell apart when her parents dramatically separated and her mother took her back to England.

Fast forward thirty-five years when Belinda’s world is once again turned upside down.

It’s the week before Christmas and Belinda’s employer ‘surprises’ her by asking for her help to rejuvenate their latest investment, a run-down campsite in Brittany. Memories and anxieties that had lain dormant for years suddenly begin to resurface.

As secrets from a lost life threaten to overwhelm her, there is a realisation that maybe she wasn’t told the whole truth by her mother all those years ago.

Can Belinda reconcile her emotions and find happiness once more in the place she so loved and called home?

 

My review

This is a very atmospheric novel, and couldn’t be set anywhere other than France. The author catches the sights, sounds and all the nuances of expat life beautifully.

It’s also rather sad at times, particularly where Belinda and Fern tackle some serious issues. We experience the action of the novel from the point of view of these two characters.  However, the book is fast-paced so we don’t  get too long to dwell, and in contrast to these more difficult elements, there are joyful moments, and lots of life and imagination, and yes, happiness.

It is, however, essentially an optimistic novel overall, dealing as it does with facing up to truths, processing them and moving on, although that’s not as easy as it might sound. But it doesn’t shy from the damage and difficulties having such lurking truths – or rather untruths – can inflict.

The cover is lovely and oh so enticing, but since there are a lot of books out there called A French Affair, or some sort of close variation on the theme, I do worry slightly that this particular book will get lost in the melee. It really isn’t the most imaginative title! I think it deserves to made far more distinctive as it’s a unique story and should be allowed to stand out as well as it deserves to.

 

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/2N4AiJO

 

Author bio

Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 14 women’s fiction titles, including Villa of Sun and Secrets and A Riviera Retreat. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.

Social Media Links –

http://www.jenniferbohnet.com/

http://facebook.com/Jennifer-Bohnet-170217789709356

http://twitter.com/jenniewriter

http://instagram.com/jenniebohnet

Newsletter sign up link: http://bit.ly/JenniferBohnetNewsletter
Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jennifer-bohnet

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Cynthia Smart’s Midwife Crisis by Liz Davies

At forty-four, Cynthia Smart is exactly where she wants to be. Almost.

In a couple of years, she’ll be the CEO of the company she’s spent her most of her adult life working in. For now, though, she’s still busy shimmying up the greasy pole of corporate business. She’s single, carefree, and independent, and nothing can stop her getting what she wants and deserves.

Until she discovers she’s pregnant.

Determined to have her cake and eat it, she’s convinced that having a baby will make little difference to her life, and that she will be one of those women who can hold down an incredibly demanding job and also be a perfect mother.

But as her pregnancy progresses and her life slowly falls apart, she has the sneaking suspicion that Max Oakland, the new guy on the block, is out to steal her dream job. That she’s terribly attracted to him doesn’t help, nor does the fact that he’s devilishly handsome, appears to be a really nice fella, and is good in a crisis.

When she gradually comes to realise that something has got to give, what she doesn’t want it to be is her heart.

 

My review

I’m mortified to be a day late with this review. My sincerest apologies to the author and tour organiser. I’m clearly nothing like as on top of things as our career-woman heroine Cynthia is! (At least to start with…)

This novel is delightful, light-hearted and uplifting, even though dealing with the rather huge and serious issue of unplanned pregnancy. For a career-driven, more mature person like Cynthia, it’s definitely a shock. However, her confidence that she can handle everything is all-pervading. But then reality begins to sneak in and Cynthia starts to see beyond the confines of work and workplace success. The path to motherhood isn’t smooth at any stage.

The foil to Cynthia is Max, whom Cynthia initially sees as a rival on the work front. She’s suspicious of him, but her opinion of him changes as the action progresses. And goodness, is there some action in this story!

And isn’t that cover superb!

The whole book is fun and lively, one that many women can relate to, and makes for a fabulous summer read.

 

Purchase Linkhttp://mybook.to/CynthiaSmart

Author Bio –

Liz Davies writes feel-good, light-hearted stories with a hefty dose of romance, a smattering of humour, and a great deal of love.

She’s married to her best friend, has one grown-up daughter, and when she isn’t scribbling away in the notepad she carries with her everywhere (just in case inspiration strikes), you’ll find her searching for that perfect pair of shoes. She loves to cook but isn’t very good at it, and loves to eat – she’s much better at that! Liz also enjoys walking (preferably on the flat), cycling (also on the flat), and lots of sitting around in the garden on warm, sunny days.

She currently lives with her family in Wales, but would ideally love to buy a camper van and travel the world in it.

Website: https://lizdaviesauthor.wixsite.com/home

 

Social Media Links:

Twitter https://twitter.com/lizdaviesauthor

Facebook: fb.me/LizDaviesAuthor1

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The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Gaff

The Greenbecker Gambit

‘I only feel truly alive when the chess clock is ticking and the patterns on the squares in front of me are dancing in my head. Very little else gives me the same feeling. Nothing else, that does not involve a flame.’

Tennessee Greenbecker is bravely optimistic as he sets out to claim what he sees as rightfully his – the title of world chess champion. But who is he really? Is he destined to be remembered as chess champion or fire-starter? Either way, might this finally be his moment?

 

My review

A gambit is an opening move in a chess game which usually involves making a sacrifice for, hopefully, future gain (of the opponent’s pieces). It suggests machination and strong self-confidence, and both of these qualities are to be found by the bucket load in our narrator, chess-player Terrence Tennessee Greenbecker.

This book falls into the ‘unreliable narrator’ genre which soon becomes apparent. We quickly work out that Tennessee’s accounts of his accomplishments and importance clash with reality, and realise that our narrator suffers from mental illness which alienates him from those around him.

The book gives an insight into the world of professional chess playing, which is fascinating. You don’t need to be a chess buff to appreciate the glimpse behind the scenes. However, a grasp of the game and having heard of Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov are will help a little.

As well as admiring chess players, and in particular Fischer, Greenbecker has another hero, Guy Fawkes, who reflects his own arsonist tendencies.

The action in the book takes place over the course of a weekend in 2018 when chessmasters Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana are playing each other in London. Greenbecker has something rather less controlled and dignified than a ches game in mind.

The novel takes a little time to settle into, and in places it’s a challenging read but it’s most definitely rewarding. Greenbecker ultimately makes for a tough but touching hero as he juggles hard reality with delusions of grandeur.

The book’s cover is excellent, cleverly hinting at the important elements of the story.

 

Amazon

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Greenbecker-Gambit-Ben-Graff-ebook/dp/B08774SJYN

https://www.amazon.com/Greenbecker-Gambit-Ben-Graff-ebook/dp/B08774SJYN

 

Chess and Bridge

https://shop.chess.co.uk/The-Greenbecker-Gambit-Ben-Graff-p/cb07811.htm

 

Author Bio

Ben Graff is a writer, journalist and Corporate Affairs professional. He is a regular contributor to Chess and Authors Publish. He is not a grandmaster but did draw with one once.

 Twitter

GreenBGambit

LinkedIn

Ben Graff

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The Village Shop for Lonely Hearts by Alison Sherlock: refreshing and entertaining

The Village Shop For Lonely Hearts

After losing her job in New York, Amber Green isn’t looking forward to visiting her godmother in the sleepy village of Cranbridge. With its empty lanes and rundown shops, it’s hardly a place to mend her lonely heart.

But when Amber discovers that Cranbridge Stores, owned by her godmother Cathy and son Josh, is under threat of financial ruin, she realises that her skills as a window dresser might just be able to help save the struggling shop.

When disaster strikes, Amber and Josh must unite to save both the shop and the village from flooding.

Can Cranbridge Stores become the heart of the village once more?

And as the village begins to come back to life, perhaps Amber will discover a reason to stay…

 

My review

This is an uplifting, easy-to-read novel about self-discovery, family, community and seizing the day.

Amber and Josh are our main characters, both very likeable. They are both at something of a crossroads in their lives. Together they make a good team and are united in their wish to revitalise the ailing shop which is central to the village. People would lose much more than just somewhere to buy groceries and newspapers were it to disappear.

The authors creates a wonderful sense of place. She really understands what makes small communities tick, and how very vulnerable they actually are in a misguided age of ‘bigger is better’.

Refreshing, thought-provoking and entertaining, do read this lovely story.

 

Purchase Links – https://amzn.to/2VPGfzh

Author bio

Alison Sherlock is the author of the bestselling Willow Tree Hall books. Alison enjoyed reading and writing stories from an early age and gave up office life to follow her dream. Her new series for Boldwood is set in a fictional Cotswold Village and the first title will be published in July 2020.

 

 

Social media links

Twitter https://twitter.com/AlisonSherlock

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/alison.sherlock.73

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/alison-sherlock

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Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland: uplit with prickles

Can love really be found when you stop looking for it…?

As Samantha Wishaw watches the love of her life marry another woman, she’s ready to give up hope of finding her happy ever after.

But when a chance encounter leads Sam to find friendship in Thomas – a lonely, grumpy elderly widower living at derelict Hedgehog Hollow – her life is about to change forever.

Glad to have a distraction from family feuds and match-making, Sam vows to fulfill Thomas and his wife, Gwendoline’s, dreams of restoring Hedgehog Hollow to its former glory, and to open a hedgehog rescue centre.

Throwing herself into the task at hand, little does Sam realise that the keys to love and happiness may also be found at Hedgehog Hollow, when she least expects it…

Escape to Hedgehog Hollow this summer with top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for the perfect uplifting, feel-good read.

 

My review

This is a truly uplifting novel, enjoyable at any time of year although it makes for a perfect beach or sun-lounger read.

There’s a lot more to the book than the joyous, sweet title suggests. Yes, just as we want from romantic novels, there’s happiness in store but there are also some prickly (figuratively and literally) issues to deal with along the way. Family relationships frequently aren’t easy, and our key characters Sam and Joshua have more than their fair share to deal with. However, whilst not able to solve all of them they still discover that blood’s thicker than water and that there’ also endless love and loyalty within families too.

I particularly enjoyed the inter-generational friendships, and the wildlife element which was handled in a practical, non-cutesy way. The author has an easy, friendly, sparkly style, a wonderful imagination and lovely light touches of humour.

All in all, this is a super story which I’m sure you’ll enjoy no end.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/2xrmxAo

 

Author bio 

Jessica Redland is the author of nine novels, including The Secret to Happiness, which are all set around the fictional location of Whitsborough Bay. Inspired by her hometown of Scarborough she writes uplifting women’s fiction which has garnered many devoted fans.

 

 

Social Media Links

Instagram –https://www.instagram.com/JessicaRedlandWriter/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/JessicaRedland

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JessicaRedlandWriter/

Own website – https://www.jessicaredland.com/

Blog – https://jessicaredlandwriter.wordpress.com/

Bookbub – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jessica-redland

Mailing list sign up – http://bit.ly/JessicaRedlandNewsletter

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Homeward Bound by Richard Smith: bitter-sweet and beautifully written

Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound features 79-year-old grandfather George, who didn’t quite make it as a rock star in the ‘60s. He’s expected to be in retirement but in truth he’s not ready to close the lid on his dreams and will do anything for a last chance. When he finds himself on a tour of retirement homes instead of a cream tea at the seaside his family has promised, it seems his story might prematurely be over.

He finds the answer by inviting Tara, his 18-year-old granddaughter, to share his house, along with his memories and vast collection of records. She is an aspiring musician as well, although her idea of music is not George’s. What unfolds are clashes and unlikely parallels between the generations – neither knows nor cares how to use a dishwasher – as they both chase their ambitions.

 

My review

This is an absolute gem of a book, it really is! It also has added bitter-sweetness during the current Covid crisis, when criminally inept political bungling has led to the deaths of more than twenty thousand people like our hero George: elderly but loaded with experience, accomplishments, stories to tell and so much still to contribute.

At first, the home in ‘homeward’ appears to relate to finding a convenient old people’s home for his family to park George in, now that he’s becoming a little ‘forgetful’ now and then. By the end of the book, that ‘home’ has taken on many, much deeper meanings and significance as I’ll let you discover for yourselves.

George is a wonderful character. He’s hugely talented, witty and, like many older folk (and I can say this as I’m heading far-too-rapidly towards 60), given to occasional grumpiness. That’s what makes him so wonderfully convincing. Tara is truly his granddaughter, with the shared musical talent and the strength of personality.

Graced with a classy and clever cover, the book is equally clever, beautifully written and utterly enthralling. A huge thank-you and congratulations to author Richard.

Purchase Links

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/homeward-bound-richard-smith/1136313433?ean=2940163088645

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Homeward-Bound-Richard-Smith/dp/1838591591/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

https://www.waterstones.com/book/homeward-bound/richard-smith/9781838591595

https://www.ink84bookshop.co.uk/product-page/homeward-bound-by-richard-smith


Author Bio

Richard Smith is a writer and storyteller for sponsored films and commercials, with subjects as varied as caring for the elderly, teenage pregnancies, communities in the Niger delta, anti-drug campaigns and fighting organised crime. Their aim has been to make a positive difference, but, worryingly, two commercials he worked on featured in a British Library exhibition, ‘Propaganda’.

@RichardWrites2  

richardsmithwrites.com

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Summer at my Sister’s by Emily Harvale: cover reveal

Summer at my Sister’s

Twin sisters. One scorching summer. A bucketful of secrets.

Diana’s life is perfect. Her twin sister, Josie’s – not so much. They aren’t identical twins. Perhaps the only things they have in common are agreeing their mother can be a nightmare – and their birthdays. This summer they’ll be thirty-five.

Diana has the perfect husband, two talented youngsters, and an adorable dog. She runs a successful business from home, a popular book club, and hosts sparkling parties for her wealthy husband. She always looks as if she’s stepped from the cover of a magazine. Her immaculate second home by the sea, for idyllic summers with her perfect family, was actually featured in one.

Josie has a messy, compact flat, dates, but not relationships, and she can’t even keep a houseplant alive. She moves from job to job, goes clubbing with her friends, and always looks as if she’s fallen through a hedge. She loves Diana, deeply, but each year she declines the invitation to spend the summer with her sister. Or any other family holiday. Because Josie has a secret.

But is Diana’s life so perfect? Or is she hiding something too? When secrets are revealed this summer, everything will change. Josie could finally have the life she’s always wanted … if she’s brave enough to take a chance. And it all begins with a phone call from their mother.

Publication Date: 31st July

Pre-order Link – mybook.to/SummeratmySisters

And here’s the cover!

Author Bio –

Emily writes novels, novellas and short stories about friendship, family and falling in love. She loves a happy ending but knows that life doesn’t always go to plan. Her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.

Emily loves to connect with her readers and has a readers’ group in which many have become good friends. To catch up with Emily, find out about the group, or connect with her on social media, go to her website at www.emilyharvale.com.

Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now writes full-time. She’s a member of the SoA, an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. When not writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies – and will do anything to avoid both. Emily has two mischievous rescue cats that like to sprawl across her keyboard, regardless of whether Emily is typing on it, or not.

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/emilyharvalewriter

https://www.twitter.com/emilyharvale

https://www.instagram.com/emilyharvale

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Summer at the Highland Coral Beach by Kiley Dunbar

Escape to the Highland Coral Beach – where broken hearts can be healed

Beatrice Halliday needs a break from life. Booking a trip to the Highlands on a whim, Beatrice hopes learning Gaelic in a beautiful Scottish village might help her heal her grief after losing her baby, her husband and her much loved job in a space of months.

But Port Willow Bay isn’t exactly as the website promised. Instead of learning a new language, she’s booked in to learn the ancient skill of willow weaving, her hotel room is Princess and the Pea themed (with a stack of mattresses for her bed!) and worse still, her tutor is Atholl Fergusson, grumpy landlord of the hotel where Beatrice is staying – and she’s the only one doing the course.

But as Beatrice finds herself falling in love with Port Willow Bay and its people, and as she discovers the kind heart beneath Atholl’s stony exterior, can she really leave?

Escape to the beautiful Scottish Highlands with this utterly romantic, feelgood book; one visit to Port Willow Bay and you’ll want to come back!

 

My review

This is quite serious for a romcom, dealing with some tough issues of loss. But the author handles them sensitively yet firmly, much as their sufferer does. Beatrice is a much stronger person than she believes herself to be and the healing atmosphere of the Port Willow Bay begins to weave it magic, alongside the baskets she learns to make.

Both scenery and local people hide their real charms behind stern exteriors. It takes time to see the inner beauty, but that’s what Beatrice gradually does. At first she’s somewhat stern too as she’s resolved to cope alone and not let anyone help her, although she herself is keen to help others.

There’s an interesting cast of secondary characters to meet, many of them with scars of various sorts themselves. The setting is distinctly Scottish and well conveyed.

Much to enjoy in this uplifting novel.

 

Purchase Links

AMZ: https://amzn.to/2UEMSV3

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2UHgS2w

 

Author Bio

Kiley Dunbar is the author of heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places.

Kiley is Scottish and lives in England with her husband, two kids and Amos the Bedlington Terrier. She writes around her work at a University in the North of England where she lectures in English Literature and creative writing. She is proud to be a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a graduate of their New Writers’ Scheme.

Kiley’s third novel, Summer at the Highland Coral Beach (coming 27th March 2020) The first of the Port Willow Bay series is on Pre-order right now!!

One Summer’s Night was Kiley’s first novel (published by Hera Books) and is on sale now!
Don’t forget there’s also a fabulous audible audiobook narrated by Eilidh Beaton.

Kiley’s cosy, sexy-swoony, very snowy festive romcom Christmas at Frozen Falls is on sale NOW too!

 

Social Media Links –

https://twitter.com/kileydunbar

https://www.facebook.com/KileyDunbarAuthor/

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Sometimes in Bath by Charles Nevin

Synopsis

The stories and History of ‘Britain’s most elegant and intriguing city’. Sometimes in Bath is a captivating story-tour through the city’s history conducted by Charles Nevin, the award-winning journalist, national newspaper columnist, author and humorist. Beau Nash, Old King Bladud, young Horatio Nelson, Jane Austen’s Mr Bennet, the Emperor Haile Selassie and many more spring to life in episodes shimmering with the curious magic of Britain’s oldest resort and premier purveyor of good health, happiness and romance for the last 2000 years. Each story has an afterword distinguishing the fiction from fact, adding enthralling historical detail – and giving visitors useful links to Bath’s many sights and fascinations. Sometimes in Bath is warm, witty, wistful and will be loved by all who come to and from this most enchanting and enchanted of cities.

My review

This book is tremendous fun! I’m not quite sure how else to categorise it since it’s a mixture of history, geography, fact, fiction, social commentary and humour. This all makes for a fascinating read.

Even if you’ve never been there, the many mentions of this spa town in literature mean that pretty much everyone has heard of it and probably seen photos. It’s a distinctive city and in this equally distinctive book proves to be a very worthy setting. We get many glimpses of it alongside the interesting and eccentric characters we’re introduced to. In fact, it’s the only place you could get away with juxtaposing famous Admiral Nelson and fictional Mr Bennet so successfully!

The book is alive with humour. As well as appearing in unlikely combinations and situations, the characters are all wonderfully rounded and frequently ridiculous. In the first chapter alone there’s one named Britt Bakoff, and another cook, Sally, who in frustration utters the cry “Bloody health and pastry” when asked to bake a less calorific bun, and which is directly inspired by how the Bath Oliver biscuit came about. I know this for a fact because, since we’ve caught him red-handed in rewriting history, the author admits at the end of every chapter that he’s used his rich imagination in creating each fic-fact tales and he gives the relevant background explanations and biographies.

Immensely entertaining as well as educational, grab yourself a copy!

Purchase link: www.amazon.co.uk/Sometimes-Bath-Her-Stories-History/dp/1912881829/

About the author

Charles Nevin has written for, among others, the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Telegraph, The Times and Sunday Times, and the New York Times. Sometimes in Bath is his second book of fiction following Lost in the Wash with Other Things, a collection of short stories. He has also published three books of non-fiction – Lancashire, Where Women Die of Love, a paean to the neglected romance of his native county, which was as praised by Jeremy Paxman and Joanna Lumley. The Book of Jacks, a history and lexicon of the name and finally, So Long Our Home, a history of Knowsley Road, the famous old ground of St Helens Rugby Football Club. Charles lives in an old watermill near Bath, which is ideally placed for his forays into the enchanting city.