Dating Down

Suddenly single and unexpectedly poor, it’s definitely safe to say that Alexis Harland is not living the life of her dreams.

Although she’s determined that nothing, not one little thing, will stop her return from poverty. Well, almost nothing. Her pride might get in the way a little. And possibly her family. And maybe the fact that she hasn’t got a clue where to start.

Many years ago, Alexis was swept away from life on a caravan park and introduced to a world of riches and glamour. All thanks to a wealthy man who married her, reinvented her… and then dumped her for a younger model at the first sign of cellulite.

Now Alexis is stranded, struggling to keep her head above water and her history a secret from her highbrow friends.

As if that isn’t enough for a woman to deal with, one night she comes home to find a sexy man has landed, quite literally, on her doorstep. A man hell-bent on testing everything Alexis thinks she knows about true happiness.

Caught between the life she knows and her blossoming love, can Alexis afford to let go of her unwavering pride, kiss her social status goodbye and accept that stepping back to square one is sometimes a huge leap forward?

My Review

I’d planned to read this book over  few evenings, but once I’d started I couldn’t put it down. It’s such a wonderfully funny and clever book. Alexis is a truly engaging heroine. She’s the narrator of this story so we see things from her point of view, which adds a layer of irony. She’s not aware there’s anything wrong with her view of the world – where looking unfashionable or being poor are totally unacceptable.  She’s dismissive, opinionated and blinkered.

But not entirely. Her feckless, irresponsible sister might frustrate her, and they bicker with and make digs at each other all the time, but there is affection there too. Both stick up for their sibling when they need to.  They’re chalk and cheese in most ways though. Candy sees their upbringing in the caravan park as one of love, of their parents always being there for them. Alexis sees it as deprived and Spartan. She’d have rather had the latest fashion item than a mother cheering her on at sports day. Appearances have always mattered far too much to her.

But that changes when Bob arrives in her life. He’s quiet, unassuming and deliciously handsome, and through him Alexis begins to see that you can live well on a much smaller budget. In fact, probably better. But can she really give up on her old life? Especially when the wealthy Vincent turns up. Just as she finds it incredibly hard to part with her unnecessary possessions, parts of her prior self are tough to remove. They’re externalised in the form of the three witches, her one-time best friends: Cordelia, Gio and Margot. They embody all that is false and pretentious. Can Alexis get out of their shadow?

There is oodles of humour in this book. For example, the Crave Cave, an utterly tasteless painting, which Alexis doesn’t mean to buy at an auction but does, keeps cropping up throughout the story. There’s comedy in the situations Alexis finds herself in and in her interactions with others, in her sharp and biting observations of ‘inferior’ people around her, in her initial obliviousness to who and what she is and where she herself ranks on the ghastly scale. But will she ever learn to laugh at herself?

Brilliant writing. I can’t wait to read the promised novel that stars Candy, who is an equally absorbing character as her big sister. I hope Alexis will figure large in that too.

Purchase Links (I totally recommend that you hit the ‘buy’ button now!)

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dating-Down-Diane-Louise/dp/1719883521

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Dating-Down-Diane-Louise/dp/1719883521

Author Bio

Diane Louise is a dairy farmer’s wife from the UK who doesn’t know a Holstein from a Hereford.

But what she does know is how to write a funny story. Three years ago she tried to write steamy romance and sucked at it. Honestly, her stiff upper lip made her heroes more wet blankets than wet dreams. With a steely determination to avoid milking the cows, she turned her hand to Romantic Comedy and a star was born. Well, in her mind at least.

Fancy getting to know the woman behind the words?

She hangs around Facebook daily, desperately avoiding housework, and loves nothing more than chatting to fellow lovers of Romantic Comedy over at Di’s Romantic Comedy Club. Or, if you don’t do Facebook, that’s cool, because she also sends a monthly email to her readers, making sure they never miss a new release and sharing behind the scene info about her books. You can join The Monthly Club here.

Social Media Links

Facebook Group – Di’s Romantic Comedy Club – https://www.facebook.com/groups/954521864707822/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16873120.Diane_Louise

Mailerlite Newsletter Sign Up – https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r9i1b8

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/DianeLouise12

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis

Newly minted lawyer Corrie Locke has taken a vow of abstinence. From PI work, that is. Until her best friend Michael finds his bully of a boss stabbed in the back after confronting him earlier that day. Michael panics, accidentally tampering with the crime scene…which could lead the cops to Michael instead of the real culprit. He turns to Corrie to track down the killer. She doesn’t need much coaxing. Her late great PI dad taught her the ropes…and left her his cache of illegal weaponry.

They return to the scene of the crime, but the body’s gone missing. Racing against time, Corrie dredges a prestigious Los Angeles college in pursuit of clues. All she finds are false leads. Armed with attitude and romantic feelings toward Michael, Corrie dives into a school of suspects to find the slippery fugitive. Will she clear Michael’s name before he’s arrested for murder?

My review

This is book 2 in the Corrie Locke series, but you don’t have to have read the first book to be able to enjoy this one. You quickly work out who’s who.

This is an enjoyable, fast-paced cosy mystery. Corrie makes for a very likeable heroine in that she’s not perfect at what she does, but she always gives things her best shot and, above all, she’s a loyal friend. Her friend Michael finds himself in a tricky situation, and so Corrie does what she can to prove his innocence.

The author is very good at creating atmosphere. When Corrie was investigating the crime scene, I was on tenterhooks, thinking she’d be discovered at any moment! There’s lot more tension in the novel, but also plenty of humour and ingenuity. You’re kept guessing right to the end, thanks to clever red herrings and false trails that the author throws in.

The characters we meet are interesting and rounded. All in all this is a very entertaining and fun read. If you enjoy quick-witted heroines and lively cosies, then you must put this on your TBR list.  

Synopsis

One long summer changes Faith forever…

Faith Coombes should be over the moon when her long-term boyfriend proposes to her. But instead, she breaks up with him. Rob is safe, reliable, nice and … boring. Nothing like the only person who has ever broken her heart…

Unable to afford the rent on another flat and desperate for a new start, Faith takes the plunge and moves back to the village she grew up in, returning to the house that holds so many memories for her. Hollyhock House, the family home of her best-friend Minel, also belongs to the boy who meant so much to her all those years ago…

As Faith falls back in love with the sprawling surroundings at Hollyhock she also finds herself falling all over again for the only person who has truly hurt her.

Can Faith come to terms with her past? Did she make the wrong decision in breaking up with Rob? Or does her heart really lie at Hollyhock House?

 

My review

There’s been a mass blooming recently of romcoms in settings with flower names – bluebell hills, rose cottages, primrose bays and so on. And why not! Everyone loves flowers, and who doesn’t love a romcom. And flowers and romance go hand in hand. But this book, Summer at Hollyhock House, for me is the cream of the crop, the brightest bloom in the meadow.

Two things make it stand out: the flowing writing that’s just so easy to read and filled with marvellous descriptions and imagery, and the courage of many of the characters we meet. Several of them are in unsatisfactory relationships or positions but they have the resolve and strength to break out of the rut they find themselves in. As many of us might know from experience, that is a difficult and frightening thing to do. There’s an atmosphere of positivity and self-belief in the novel which is very uplifting.

Faith is a wonderful heroine. She’s down to earth, genuine and very empathetic. She knows the now Rob-free path ahead won’t be easy, at least initially, but she grits her teeth and gets on with it, ignoring the disapproval from her mother. Fortunately she has supportive friends, and the chance to sink those gritted teeth into an exciting new project: redesigning the garden at Hollyhock House. This brings her into contact with her ex, Rik, and his flighty new girlfriend Lucinda. However, Faith copes well, on the whole, but her heart is heavy.

We get the ending we want, which is de rigueur in romcoms, of course, but the twisting path we have to follow we get there is clever and tantalising. A truly enjoyable,  rewarding and, appropriately, heartening novel.

 

Author Cathy Bussey is a novelist, non-fiction author, journalist for The Telegraph, cycle commentator and editorial consultant. She has a website at www.cathybussey.com.

Summer at Hollyhock House is published by Sapere Books and is available at all Amazon stores.

 

 

See what other book reviewers think of Summer at Hollyhock House by visiting their blogs too.

 

 

Synopsis

1910 – A compelling tale of female empowerment in Bath’s leading department store. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath’s premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington, believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.

Determined to break from her father’s iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington’s into a new decade, embracing woman’s equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.

Can this dream team thwart Edward Pennington’s plans for the store? Or will Edward prove himself an unshakeable force who will ultimately ruin both Elizabeth and Joseph?

My review

Elizabeth, our heroine, is ahead of her time in her ambition for the family department store, but her father doesn’t share her plans. He’s the sort of domineering, intolerant and narrow-minded man we associate with the Victorian era. In contrast, Joseph, the glove-maker, is far more modern in his views and is prepared to listen to and consider what women have to say. His wife Lillian, tragically murdered, was a proactive woman, like Elizabeth, and so he values women for their intelligence and insight, and not just their looks. He shares Elizabeth’s vision for catering to women customers considerably more. The two work well together, and inevitably attraction follows. But there are other impediments besides Edward Pennington: class conventions, political issues and personal agendas are there too.  As well as struggling to be mistress of Pennington’s store, Elizabeth also struggles to be mistress of her own fate.

Elizabeth has built a shell around herself to protect herself from her father’s constant belittlement. She thus appears somewhat stiff and distant at first, but as we get to know her better as the book progresses we see her hidden side. She’s sensitive and motivated, very much her lively mother’s daughter. Or at least her mother was lively until Edward finally stifled her joie de vivre. Elizabeth fortunately seems to be made of sterner stuff and we have faith that she’ll escape from her father’s shadow.

I especially liked the atmosphere created in the book. In scenes with Edward there’s oppressiveness and stuffiness, but Elizabeth always seems to bring light and hope. Joseph carries sadness with him, but a growing air of optimism. Pennington’s, brightly lit, shines out like a beacon beckoning to the future, like Elizabeth herself.

The author recreates an exciting time in history in her novel and furnishes it with fascinating, contrasting characters and a clever plot. This makes for very enjoyable reading.

The book is beautifully presented with an eye-catching cover. However, my one criticism of this book is in relation to the cover. It would look even better without the ‘Welcome to Bath’s finest department store’ on the right hand side. To me it is a completely unnecessary addition, and it detracts from  the symmetry and perspective. But maybe that’s just me – I admit I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about slogans plastered on covers!

Super book, thoroughly enjoyable and one to add to your ‘to be read’ list.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK: http://amzn.eu/2SvRcqp

Amazon US: http://a.co/bYr2KHM

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mistress-of-penningtons-rachel-brimble/1128920728?ean=9781788546508

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-mistress-of-pennington-s

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Rachel_Brimble_The_Mistress_of_Pennington_s?id=dIFSDwAAQBAJ

Author Bio

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a brand new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s, released July 2018.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

Social Media Links

Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Facebook Street Team – Rachel’s Readers

Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-Brimble/e/B007829ZRM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1490948101&sr=8-1

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1806411.Rachel_Brimble

Giveaway to win £20 / $20 Amazon Gift Card (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494121/

Synopsis

It’s 1943 and young Leo tries to protect his disabled sister Ruby as the Nazis invade Italy.  After his mother is arrested, he turns to Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty to save them.  But he is no ordinary priest.  Known as ‘The Pimpernel of the Vatican’, the Monsignor is the legendary organizer of the Rome Escape Line.  Soon Leo is helping out with this secret network dedicated to saving the lives of escaped prisoners of war, partisans and Jews.  But as the sinister Nazi leader Kappler closes in on the network, can Leo and his sister stay out of his evil clutches?

My review

This is a beautifully written, lively, inspiring children’s story. The opening is wonderful, a quick summary of the events leading up to the Second World War from a twelve-year-old’s point of view. The key figures include Spitler and Muscle-weany. We later get a more official version of events which is very clearly explained, without bogging the young reader down in detail.

Leo is an Irish boy who’s caught in Italy at just the wrong time. His Anglo-American mother has travelled there to learn about educating young people from Maria Montessori. This is particularly important to her as Ruby, Leo’s young sister, suffers from cerebral palsy. As bright as a button, she’s restricted by her physical difficulties. The Nazis are advancing and the Leo’s mother is taken away. Fortunately the children had snuck off for a midnight feast in the barn and so escape capture. Then begins their perilous and arduous journey to Rome to find Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty. Leo’s Aunt Delia had told him what to do should he ever find himself in danger. Leo uses his sharp wits, engaging personality and resourcefulness to make the trip safely with his sister. But when he arrives, his work is far from over.

This story is perfect for children, but older readers can enjoy it too. We have two really likeable characters in Leo and Ruby. There’s excitement and humour, mystery and danger to thrill the audience, but not terrify them. Leo finds himself in sticky predicaments but he always finds a way out, and we know he will. It’s just a question of how.

The story is based on real events. Patricia Murphy weaves fact and fiction together in a marvellous way to bring the brave actions of Hugh O’Flaherty to life for us through the fictional Leo. However, as the author says, there were many children who were incredibly brave during the war and this novel is to celebrate them. War brings out the worst in people, but also the best. Loyal, lovable Leo embodies the latter.

 

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Leos-War-1943-1944-Patricia-Murphy/dp/1781998159/

https://www.bookdepository.com/Leos-War-Patricia-Murphy/9781781998151

https://poolbeg.com/home/680-leo-s-war.html

https://www.easons.com/leos-diary-patricia-murphy-9781781998151

 

Author Bio

Patricia Murphy is the bestselling author of The Easter Rising 1916 – Molly’s Diary and Dan’s Diary – the War of Independence 1920-22 published by Poolbeg.

She has also written the prize-winning “The Chingles” trilogy of children’s Celtic fantasy novels.   Patricia is also an award winning Producer/Director of documentaries including Children of Helen House, the BBC series on a children’s hospice and Born to Be Different Channel 4’s flagship series following children born with disabilities. Many of her groundbreaking programmes are about children’s rights and topics such as growing up in care, crime and the criminal justice system. She has also made a number of history programmes including Worst Jobs in History with Tony Robinson for Channel 4 and has produced and directed films for the Open University.

 

Patricia grew up in Dublin and is a graduate in English and History from Trinity College Dublin and of Journalism at Dublin City University. She now lives in Oxford with her husband and young daughter.

Social Media Links –

Website: https://www.patriciamurphyonline.com

Twitter: @_PatriciaMurphy

Facebook – h https://www.facebook.com/Leos-War-Irelands-Secret-World-War-2-Hero-714055598929732

Facebook  –  https://www.facebook.com/Mollys-Diary-The-1916-Rising-277254289106782/

 

Giveaway to win a £30 Amazon Gift Voucher (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494122/?

 

 

Daisy Belle : Swimming Champion of the World by Caitlin Davies

I’m so pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for this captivating novel featuring such a resilient heroine.

 

Synopsis

Summer 1867: four-year-old Daisy Belle is about to make her debut at the Lambeth Baths in London. Her father, swimming professor Jeffrey Belle, is introducing his Family of Frogs – and Daisy is the star attraction. By the end of that day, she has only one ambition in life: she will be the greatest female swimmer in the world.   She will race down the Thames, float in a whale tank, and challenge a man to a 70-foot high dive. And then she will set sail for America to swim across New York Harbour. But Victorian women weren’t supposed to swim, and Daisy Belle will have to fight every stroke of the way if she wants her dreams to come true.   Inspired by the careers of Victorian champions Agnes Beckwith and Annie Luker, Daisy Belle is a story of courage and survival and a tribute to the swimmers of yesteryear.

 

My review

I think the word that best sums up this beautiful novel is understated, and this is precisely what makes it so powerful. Daisy Mae Belle calmly and modestly recounts to us the story of her eventful life. She never sensationalises things, and she could on many, many occasions. As a young child she breaks moulds by swimming, and her father takes full advantage of her courage and determination to line his pockets. She’s upset by this at times but restrains her emotions. She remains low-key concerning her incredible feats of endurance and the tolls they take on her. When her little sister becomes her mother’s pet and Daisy is all but ignored, she accepts it and doesn’t dwell on how much it must hurt. This taking things in her stride makes us respect and admire Daisy all the more. And love her, I think. She’s a wonderful character – so honest and unassuming, a charming and unpretentious heroine.

The novel has not quite cycles, but definitely fore-shadowings. The Belles’ marriage isn’t a great one. Daisy’s father and mother are generally at loggerheads and there doesn’t seem to be much affection in the family, apart from between Daisy and her eldest brother Billy. Daisy’s own marriage to the handsome Dob doesn’t turn out to be quite what she hoped for either. Daisy’s once happy relationship with her mother as the adored and petted little girl of the family is replayed by Minnie who, like her big sister, eventually tires of her mother’s restrictions. Daisy sees how Captain Matthew Webb allows himself to be driven by the desire for more money into going too far, pushing himself beyond his limits, and she too finds herself tempted into taking on perhaps more than she should. Just as her father attempted to save someone who fell into the sea, so does Daisy, and ultimately neither rescue attempt ends well.

The novel is so eye-opening as regards the social norms of the time. Girls aren’t allowed to do boy things, like swim. Women are completely subservient to the men in their lives, although a few, including Daisy, make brave steps forward. However, they’re generally on some sort of rein. Poor Daisy has to make her epic swims in heavy, modesty-protecting outfits that must weigh a ton when wet!

There is so much fabulous imagery, particularly regarding water. After all, the whole novel is water-based, an water, as one character says, “makes you feel yourself”. The seaside, Margate, is depicted in vibrant blues with freshness and freedom in the air. The sea is alive. London, to which Daisy’s father drags them, has dead, dirty water. The baths seem oppressive, the Thames is menacing, the Aquarium is claustrophobic. Daisy is like the creatures there that are confined by their captivity.

Daisy travels to America, somewhere she’s long wanted to go, in an attempt to obtain fame and fortune – or at least the latter for Dob. This trip proves to be a key event in her life. Back home in England, her life begins to unravel and it’s heart-breaking, but remember, this is Daisy. And there is justice in the world, although it can take a while coming. Keep a tissue handy 😉

This novel is as buoyant as its heroine and will stay with you for a long time after you’ve read it. It’s marvellous.

About the author

Caitlin Davies was born in London in 1964. She spent 12 years in Botswana as a teacher and journalist and many of her books are set in the Okavango Delta, including a memoir Place of Reeds, described by Hilary Mantel as ‘candid and unsentimental’.
Her novels include The Ghost of Lily Painter, a fictional account of the arrest and execution of two Edwardian baby farmers, and Family Likeness about the fate of ‘war babies’ born to African American GI fathers in England during World War Two.
Her non-fiction books include Taking the Waters: A Swim Around Hampstead Heath, a celebration of 200 years of outdoor bathing, an illustrated history of the world famous Camden Lock Market, and Downstream: a history and celebration of swimming the River Thames.
Her latest non-fiction is Bad Girls, and her latest novel is Daisy Belle: Swimming Champion of the World, based on the lives of several Victorian aquatic stars, to be published by Unbound on September 1, 2018.
She is also a teacher and journalist, and was a regular feature writer for The Independent’s education and careers supplement. From 2014-17 she was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Westminster, Harrow, in the faculty of Media, Arts & Design.

 

Her website is http://www.caitlindavies.co.uk/

Twitter: @CaitlinDavies2

Daisy Belle Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/DaisyBelleSwimmingChampionoftheWorld/

 

Book details

  • Paperback:240 pages
  • Publisher:Unbound Digital (1 Sept. 2018)
  • ISBN-10:1911586483
  • ISBN-13:978-1911586487

 

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Daisy-Belle-Swimming-Champion-World/dp/1911586483/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532382917&sr=1-9&keywords=caitlin+davies

 

 

 

 

 

I’m delighted to be featuring ‘The Continuity Girl’ by Patrick Kincaid today as part of the book’s blog tour. This novel is sparkly, sophisticated and impossible to put down.

Synopsis
1969. Hollywood descends on a tiny Scottish village for the making of Billy Wilder’s most ambitious picture yet: a sprawling epic detailing The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. But the formidable director and his crew soon come into conflict with Jim Outhwaite, a young scientist seeking evidence for monsters.
2014. Stuck just a short walk from the East London street where she grew up, ambitious Film Studies lecturer Gemma MacDonald is restless and hungry for change. A job offer in the Highlands seems to offer escape – but only at a cost to her relationships with family and an equally ambitious American boyfriend. Then a lost print of Gemma’s favourite film turns up, and with it, an idea… Two stories, separated by 45 years, are set on collision course – on the surface of Loch Ness, under the shadow of a castle – by the reappearance of the continuity girl herself: April Bloom.

My review
Two worlds collide in this novel in a number of ways. Firstly, in the form of academia and the film industry, and two timelines run throughout, not quite in parallel as there are links between the two. Yet another contrasting pair is found in how fact and fiction interweave throughout the story and occasionally crash headlong into each other. Let’s not forget our main hero Jim and heroine Gemma who don’t have the smoothest relationships with their respective partners. We see a contrast between grey, crowded London and the beauty of the Scottish highlands. The prehistoric Loch Ness monster is having quite an impact on twentieth-century life, and finally the moon, shining down on the earth, has a part to play too.

In the modern day timeline of 2013/14, lecturer Gemma McDonald has stumbled across some reels from Billy Wilder’s film ‘The Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes’. She’s also applied for a job in the film studies department at the University of Aberdeen. She can’t quite find the right time to tell her boyfriend David, who has just accepted a post in Chicago. In the 1969 thread, Jim and the others in the Loch Ness Research Group have their ordered, focussed existence overturned when the camera crew, actors and support staff, including the all-important continuity girl April, turn up to film the relevant parts of the film. True to her name, April brings continuity not only to the film script, but also to the novel as she turns up in both timelines. There’s a backing cast of fascinating personalities too.

You don’t need to be a film buff or an obsessive Nessie fan to enjoy this novel, since we’re told all we need to know about these key features of the story. However, if you can be bothered to spend a little time on Wikipedia reading up about Billy Wilder and his films, and about Loch Ness and its famous purported inhabitant, you can appreciate more fully just how much research has gone into this novel. The author’s hard work adds extra depth and sparkle. There’s no info dumping, just a richer text as a result. For readers like me who were there in 1969 the mention of Golden Wonder crisps, and the descriptions of the clothes people are wearing and the music they are listening to is a lovely trip down memory lane, not to mention the overawing excitement of huddling around someone else’s TV to watch those grainy black and white pictures of Neil Armstrong taking his giant leap on behalf of mankind.

This is a delightfully different and thoroughly enjoyable novel about discovery, friendships and love, about following your dream, about how life can be unfair and force choices on you that you don’t want to make. But happy endings take many forms and ultimately, I think, the book is a celebration of being true to yourself and doing what you have to do. And that is a pretty major achievement.

• Paperback: 224 pages
• Publisher: Unbound Digital (9 Mar. 2018)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 191158698X
• ISBN-13: 978-1911586982

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Continuity-Girl-Patrick-Kincaid/dp/191158698X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532380325&sr=1-1&keywords=the+continuity+girl

About the author

Like April in the novel, Patrick is an Anglo-American. He was born to an English mother in Amarillo, Texas, but moved to the UK when his American father was stationed in Oxfordshire with the USAF in the mid-1970s. Unlike his older brother, Patrick was sent to a local rather than a base school, and very quickly went native. He eventually gained a PhD in English Literature at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon. For the past 14 years, he has taught English to secondary school children in an inner-city comprehensive in Coventry.

Long a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, Patrick contributed one of his own, ‘The Doll and His Maker’, to MX Publishing’s SHERLOCK’S HOME: THE EMPTY HOUSE, an anthology of pastiches put together to raise funds for the preservation of one of the author’s former homes. As well as writing fiction, Patrick is a keen poet. He was short-listed for the Bridport Poetry Prize in 2012 and long-listed for the Fish Poetry Prize in 2013.

Twitter @patrickkincaid

Synopsis

Encounters with a pair of supersized Y-fronts; a humourless schoolmarm with an unfortunate name and monstrous yellow incisors; and a tut-tutting, big-breasted, modern-day gorgon are the norm for Ruth Roth. She’s used to crazy.

Her mum squawks like a harpy and her dad has a dodgy moral compass. Add in daily face-offs with a relentlessly bitchy mirror, and Ruth’s home life feels like a Greek tragicomedy.

She hankers for the ordinary. But blah is not a good fit for someone who doesn’t fit in. And isn’t meant to.

Ruth’s vanilla existence is an issue for her besties—her hot-looking, obsessive-compulsive cousin and soul mate (who needs to do everything twice-twice), and her two closest girlfriends.

With their encouragement and a good homoeopathic dose of ancient mythology, Ruth embarks on an odyssey to retrieve her spirit. She’s confronted with her biggest challenge ever, though, when one of these friends sends her spiralling back into a dark place.

The decision she must make can either bring her out or launch the mother of all wars in her world.

My review

I love books with fascinating titles and this is definitely one. An odyssey is a long and eventful or adventurous journey or experience and is forever associated with classic Greek literature. A teacup is, well, a teacup. We have a lovely juxtaposition of the epic with the everyday, the Homeric with the homely. The teacup suggests everydayness and triviality, and much of the story is at heart every day and trivial as it recounts the experiences of the unimaginatively and economically-named Ruth Roth (no middle name) growing up. However, this wonderful character with her surrounding cast of eccentric personalities, tells us a tale that is far from mundane.

To say her family is dysfunctional is something of an understatement. As part of her journey, Ruth learns that her ‘normal’ really isn’t. Sylvia and Joe are way off base, but that makes them fascinating characters to meet, although fortunately not to have to live with. She thus has to fight rather harder than most of us to fit in with her peers, and get to do all the things they get up to.

Ruth is a witty narrator, able to laugh at herself. Which is just, as well as things never go completely smoothly for her. She’s strong, as a result of her criticism-laden upbringing, punctuated regularly with the words ‘oeuf’ and ‘pest’, and courageous. She has a sharp eye and sees through pretence and posing, and strips humanity down to its ridiculous inner workings. Her observations are brilliant, wry and sharp. It’s heartening to see that her boldness and unconventional pass down to her children too.

We join Ruth on her journey from childhood through to adulthood and to a surprising but wonderful ending slash beginning. On the way we come across clever echoes of and references to Homer’s ‘Odyssey’, and to Greek mythology. It makes this book even richer.

It’s a fabulous book, riveting from the first page. Ruth frequently has us laughing, but there’s sadness too as we join her for a bumpy ride in her little teacup being buffeted by a rough ocean and challenging winds. Really memorable.

 

Purchase from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Odyssey-Teacup-Inspiring-Chick-Novel-ebook/dp/B0153VEB2I  

Author Bio

Paula Houseman was once a graphic designer. But when the temptation to include ‘the finger’ as part of a logo for a forward-moving women’s company proved too much, she knew it was time to give away design. Instead, she took up writing.

She found she was a natural with the double entendres (God knows she’d been in enough trouble as a child for dirty wordplay).

As a published writer of earthy chick lit and romantic comedy, Paula gets to bend, twist, stretch and juice up universal experiences to shape reality the way she wants it, even if it is only in books. But at the same time, she can make it more real, so that her readers feel part of the sisterhood. Or brotherhood (realness has nothing to do with gender).

Through her books, Paula also wants to help the reader escape into life and love’s comic relief. And who doesn’t need to sometimes?

Her style is a tad Monty Pythonesque because she adores satire. It helps defuse all those gaffes and thoughts that no one is too proud of.

Paula lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband. No other creatures. The kids have flown the nest and the dogs are long gone.

Social Media Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/paulahouseman

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/PaulaHouseman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaulaHousemanAuthor

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulahouseman

 

Synopsis

Life as a duchess… or something much more dangerous…?

This is book 1 of The King’s Elite series.

Constantly told her beauty and charm is all she has to offer, Lady Clarissa is intent on marrying a duke. And intriguing spy Sebastian Leatham will help her! Only first she’ll assist him with his new assignment of playing the part of confident aristocrat Lord Millcroft.

However, Sebastian awakens a burning desire within Clarissa which leaves her questioning whether becoming a duchess is what she truly longs for…

 

My review

Virginia Heath’s books always sparkle with humour and human foibles. Her characters are so very real. There’s a danger with historical fiction, where there’s the need to recreate a previous period of time, to present us with stiff caricatures who speak awkwardly and act unnaturally. None of that in this author’s splendid books and ‘The Mysterious Lord Millcroft’ is no exception. We meet recognisable human beings who, whilst they still face certain social constraints, manage to reveal their full, rounded personalities to us. They’re interesting for us to be with, and they tease and irritate each other just like any group of people will do.

The story is clever and well told. Sebastian, the bastard son of a duke, is working with an elite team which includes characters from others of Virginia Heath’s wonderful novels, to capture a group of smugglers. These have leaders and friends in high places, and in order to track them down Seb goes ‘undercover’ into the top echelon of society as Lord Millcroft. The fiancé of a woman he has recently come to admire, the “incomparable” Lady Clarissa Beaumont, is one of the people he’s investigating, and another of the villains has even closer connections to Seb. Can he complete this task, at all costs? His last mission had him shot while defending a young woman, and he’s only just recovered from that.

Seb is handsome and brave, the perfect hero you’d think. However, he’s desperately shy, socially awkward and prone to being snappy. Clarissa is headstrong and intelligent but somewhat obsessively determined to marry a duke, no matter how miserable that may make her. She may give the impression of being arch and dignified, but she’s not above thoroughly enjoying the sight of a semi-naked man when she sees one! It’s this sort of touch that makes these characters so human and so likeable. Even the rogues have their charms.

So do escape for a while into Regency England in this lively and intriguing novel. You’ll enjoy every minute.

 

Purchase Link – myBook.to/KingsElite1

Author Bio

Virginia Heath lives on the outskirts of London with her understanding husband and two, less understanding, teenagers. After spending years teaching history,she decided to follow her dream of writing for Harlequin. Now she spends her days happily writing regency romances, creating heroes that she falls in love with and heroines who inspire her. When she isn’t doing that, Virginia likes to travel to far off places, shop for things that she doesn’t need or read romances written by other people.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/virginiaheathauthor/

https://twitter.com/VirginiaHeath_

https://www.virginiaheathromance.com/

 

And hooray, a competition!

Giveaway – Win 3 x E-copies of The Mysterious Lord Millcroft (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494120/?

 

 

 

Happy publication day to author S R Wilsher!

Synopsis of The Glass Diplomat

In 1973 Chile, as General Augusto Pinochet seizes power, thirteen-year-old English schoolboy Charlie Norton watches his father walk into the night and never return. Taken in by diplomat, Tomas Abrego, his life becomes intricately linked to the family.

Despite his love for the Abrego sisters, he’s unable to prevent Maria falling under the spell of a left-wing revolutionary, or Sophia from marrying the right-wing Minister of Justice.

His connection to the family is complicated by the growing impression that Tomas Abrego was somehow involved in his father’s disappearance.

As the conflict of a family divided by politics comes to a head on the night of the 1989 student riots, Charlie has to act to save the sisters from an enemy they cannot see.

 

My Review

From a dictator in my last book review on this book blog to a diplomat, who serves under a dictator. But this diplomat is a glass diplomat. That’s certainly an interesting concept that gets you thinking even before you start reading the book. Glass as an adjective suggests fragility or transparence, but also hints that, once broken, sharp and dangerous edges are left that can do harm.

The diplomat in question is Tomas Abrego, who takes our hero, Charlie, under his wing.

The background is that Charlie’s father owns a factory in Santiago, and spends more and more time there. Charlie goes to join him from England during school holidays. During one visit some menacing men in suits and soldiers visit. Charlie overhears his father refusing to turn his factory over to the manufacture of military items. Not long after Charlie’s father disappears and this is when Tomas Abrego steps in. Tomas has two daughters, Maria and Sophia, and from now on the lives of the three  young people become firmly interwoven.

This novel is strongly character driven, and we meet some fascinating personalities in the book. Good or bad, they’re all flawed, all human, all very convincing. Each reflects their culture, and each has their own set of judgement values. What’s right for one is wrong for another.

Charlie’s life is something of a balancing act. He walks along a knife-edge where the two cultures of Chile and the West meet. It’s also where two families meet, his own and his ‘adopted’ one. He treads carefully between the two sisters too.

Charlie develops throughout the  novel as he gradually gains full understanding of what is going on around him. Early on he is slow to react, and there are losses as a result. But later he becomes decisive, assured and confident in his own morality and with his new philosophy. He remains vulnerable, however, and is a sympathetic but admirable figure, one we quickly warm to and continue to care about.

And what of Tomas, our diplomat? Charlie, at his mercy to begin with, ends up being the one with the power. Tomas has manipulated others all his life, mainly with threats and acts of violence, but eventually he is the one manipulated. His power is finally shattered like glass.

This is a totally absorbing novel, throwing stark light on what happens in dictatorships. Diplomacy has a rather different meaning.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Glass-Diplomat-S-R-Wilsher-ebook/dp/B07G3J165Y

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Glass-Diplomat-S-R-Wilsher-ebook/dp/B07G3J165Y

 

Author Bio

It didn’t occur to me to write until I was twenty-two, prompted by reading a disappointing book by an author I’d previously liked. I wrote thirty pages of a story I abandoned because it didn’t work on any level. I moved on to a thriller about lost treasure in Central America; which I finished, but never showed to anyone. Two more went the way of the first, and I forgave the author.

After that I became more interested in people-centric stories. I also decided I needed to get some help with my writing, and studied for a degree with the OU. I chose Psychology partly because it was an easier sell to my family than Creative Writing. But mainly because it suited the changing tastes of my writing. When I look back, so many of my choices have been about my writing.

I’ve been writing all my adult life, but nine years ago I had a kidney transplant which interrupted my career, to everyone’s relief. It did mean my output increased, and I developed a work plan that sees me with two projects on the go at any one time. Although that has taken a hit in recent months as I’m currently renovating a house and getting to know my very new granddaughter.

I write for no other reason than I enjoy it deeply. I like the challenge of making a story work. I get a thrill from tinkering with the structure, of creating characters that I care about, and of manipulating a plot that unravels unpredictably, yet logically. I like to write myself into a corner and then see how I can escape. To me, writing is a puzzle I like to spend my time trying to solve.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @srwilsher

Website: http://www.srwilsher.com

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