I’m delighted to be taking part on this the opening day for the blog tour of this lyrical and unique novel.

Synopsis

A novel about food, whanau (= family, essentially), and mental illness.
Valerie reads George Eliot to get to sleep – just to take her mind off worries over her patients, her children, their father and the next family dinner. Elena is so obsessed with health, traditional food, her pregnancy and her blog she doesn’t notice that her partner, Malcolm the ethicist, is getting himself into a moral dilemma of his own making. Evie wants to save the world one chicken at a time. Meanwhile her boyfriend, Michael is on a quest to reconnect with his M?ori heritage and discover his own identity. Rosa is eight years old and lost in her own fantasy world, but she’s the only one who can tell something’s not right. Crisis has the power to bring this family together, but will it be too late?

My review
The story is set in New Zealand and centres on a family. It’s helpful, I think, to quickly run through the relationships and say a little about the main characters. There’s Valerie, the mother, who was married to a Maori man. There’s Elena, the elder daughter, who’s pregnant. She’s a food blogger and we see some of her posts in the book. She’s married to the philandering Malcolm.
Michael is Valerie’s son. He’s at university and lives the life of a carefree twenty-year-old, chilling with friends and enjoying himself. He’s very interested in Maori culture, which he learns about from his grandmother, Gayle.
There’s also youngest child, Rosa, a very precocious eight-year-old, and from whose mouth come some very astute observations, and also there’s close family friend and activist Evie.

These are the main characters who act as narrators in turn. Each voice is distinct, and not just from the point of view it conveys but also in the language and imagery. Each person faces some sort of crisis, some more major than others. But none of it is over the top since we see the family cope, the way that close families do, with whatever life throws at them. The serious issue of mental health that crops up is particularly sensitively handled.
Another thing to know about is the reference to Maui in the book’s title. In Maori mythology he is a clever trickster. One of his accomplishments was to catch a giant fish using his grandmother’s jawbone as a hook. He attempted to make humankind immortal by tricking the Goddess of the Night, but he failed and died. When you read the book you will see how this title is so apt for this story.
It’s a lyrical and moving story, beautifully written, slow and steady to begin with but the pace and tension build as problems begin to emerge. Not all are completely solved but the family show strength and courage as they deal with them. Each of them moves from being rather self-absorbed at the start of the story to developing a wider awareness of their loved ones and their own role in the pattern of their family. Personal and cultural clashes are faced and dealt with.
This is a very thought-provoking, compassionate, enlightening and absorbing novel. Most enjoyable.

Purchase Links
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Fishing-Maui-Isa-Pearl-Ritchie-ebook/dp/B07DZBXSCN/
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fishing-Maui-Isa-Pearl-Ritchie-ebook/dp/B07DZBXSCN/
Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/826608

Author bio
Isa Ritchie is a Wellington-based writer. She grew up as a P?keh? child in a bicultural family and M?ori was her first written language. She has completed a PhD on food sovereignty in Aotearoa. She is passionate about food, wellbeing and social justice.

Social Media Links
https://www.facebook.com/isapearlritchie/
https://twitter.com/IsaPearlRitchie
https://www.instagram.com/isapearlritchie/

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I’m thrilled to be helping get this blog tour off to a start today. And you’re in for a treat!

Synopsis

No one wants to be single at the holidays.

Even Little Miss Grinch, Nikki, a successful and independent woman, must face her bachelorette status at the most horrible time of the year.

December is her personal version of holly-jolly hell: a merry torture made of couples kissing at every corner, forced vacation days, and an inescapable family reunion.

And when her baby sister announces she’s engaged—to Paul, the man Nikki is secretly in love with—and that he’s spending the holidays with them, Christmas starts looking bluer than ever.

Nikki can’t possibly survive an entire week trapped home as the family’s spinster. But she has no time to meet men or to try the newest dating app, she’s too busy working as a video producer for an advertising agency.

So what’s a girl to do?

Nikki has the perfect solution: to hire a fake boyfriend.

Luckily, her job gives her access to an endless catalogue of gorgeous actors to choose from.

But Nikki will soon discover that keeping business and pleasure from mixing isn’t so easy, and that she might not be immune to a little mistletoe magic. Especially not when she picked out the perfect man as her Christmas date…

A fun, festive romantic comedy with lots of bad behaviour and Christmas spirit. Like a creamy hot chocolate with marshmallows, you won’t want to put this deliciously hilarious novel down. Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Sally Thorne, and Jo Watson.

First Comes Love is a series of interconnected romantic novels. However, each book in the series can be read as a standalone.

 

My review

I adored this book, and for so many reasons. It’s fun, it’s clever, it’s Christmassy, it’s peopled by lively, interesting characters and there’s just the right amount of mutual attraction and misunderstandings, and not forgetting furry animal, to make it the perfect Christmas romcom.

Nikki is a very efficient and organised sort of person, at least in her work life. She’s quite driven, and could come over as rather intimidating if it weren’t for  her down-to-earthness and her sense of humour.  She’s a wonderful friend to Blair too. Part of her quest to always be striving to do better has come from her parents, who we meet over Christmas. Actually Dad is fine, but Mum is rather pushy and always expecting a bit too much from her daughters.

Nikki is a loving big sister to Julia, but in a non-hands-on way. She’s there for her, but doesn’t make much of an effort too keep in touch. Their relationship is both strained in this book, when Juila announces she’s engaged to Paul, who Nikki was extremely fond of, but also strengthened when the sisters finally come clean with each other. In the way that siblings often do, they’ve both harboured silly grudges and unjustified jealousies.

Diego O’Donnell is our male love interest. What a wonderful name! No mistaking that he’s of Spanish and Irish heritage. He’s gorgeous, bright, personable and, as the story proceeds, reveals hidden depths and proves to be far more than just eye candy. He and Nikki make for a well-matched couple – or at least, we hope they will, but they’re both so darn stubborn at times…

Excellent entertainment and thoroughly enjoyable.

 

Purchase Links

Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GBXB5PK

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07GBXB5PK

Amazon Geo-linked http://hyperurl.co/s3dxdc

iBooks https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-christmas-date/id1424973663

Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-christmas-date-camilla-isley/1129274291?ean=2940155770961

Kobo http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=9788887269253

Google Play https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Camilla_Isley_A_Christmas_Date?id=p4ZoDwAAQBAJ

 

Author bio 

Camilla is an engineer turned writer after she quit her job to follow her husband on an adventure abroad.

She’s a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading—duh!—cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies—popcorn, please. She’s a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveller, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.

Social Media Links –

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

Twitter https://twitter.com/camillaisley

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14135080.Camilla_Isley

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/camilla-isley

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/camillaisley/

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/camillaisley/

 

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Books Are Cool is getting into a festive mood. Today Snowflakes Over Holly Cove by Lucy Coleman is in the twinkling spotlight.

Synopsis

As the snowflakes start to fall, Holly Cove welcomes a new tenant to the beautiful old cottage on the beach…

For lifestyle magazine journalist Tia Armstrong, relationships, as well as Christmas, have lost all their magic. Yet Tia is up against a Christmas deadline for her latest article ‘Love is, actually, all around…’

So, Tia heads to Holly Cove where the restorative sea air and rugged stranger, Nic, slowly but surely start mending her broken heart.

Tia didn’t expect a white Christmas, and she certainly never dared dream that all her Christmas wishes might just come true…

Set in Caswell Bay on the stunningly beautiful Gower Coast, the cottage nestles amid the limestone cliffs and the woodlands, where the emotions run as turbulently as the wind-swept sea.

As cosy as a marshmallow-topped mug of cocoa, fall in love with a heart-warming festive story from the bestselling author of The French Adventure.

 

Review

I’m a big fan of this author and so I was really looking forward to reading her new novel. And what a delightful and festive treat it is! It has all the ingredients you want from a romcom, and especially a Christmassy one – love, a touch of sadness, new beginnings, misunderstandings, reconciliations and a cast of colourful, good-hearted (on the whole) characters.

Tia is still reeling from her mother’s death. She had a close relationship with her, and it’s lovely to see that strong bond between them in the book. After all, a mother-daughter relationship is such a special thing. Tia has the sense to take time to bounce back, and to realise it’s more a case of readjusting than recovering. You never stop missing a loved one who’s died, but you do learn to carry on without them. This is what Tia does. It also encourages her to deal with the fractures in her other family relationships. What better time for this than Christmas?

The wild and beautiful Holly Cove is the perfect place for Tia to get her priorities back in order, and her life back on track. It’s not an easy process but we know that our likeable, stong heroine will be successful eventually, despite the odd setback, and when the handsome Nic crosses her path, well, we all start hoping that will turn out for the best too.

There is a lot of richness to the story in the well thought-out plot, the interesting people we meet, the complexities of the relationships that come under scrutiny and the portrayal of life as it is, with its pleasures and pains, its highs and its lows. We see Tia develop and blossom, and a splintered family mends – Christmas magic in an everyday setting. Really lovely.

 

Purchase Linkhttp://smarturl.it/SnowflkOverHollyCove

Author Bio –

From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus) and Harper Impulse (Harper Collins); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/LinnBHaltonAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucyColemanAuth   https://twitter.com/LinnBHalton

 

Giveaway . Win a signed paperback of A Cottage in the Country and a rustic wooden heart decoration (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/33c69494148/?

What a treat to be taking part in the blog tour for the wonderful Aphrodite’s Closet by Suzy Turner.

Synopsis

Agatha Trout didn’t even know she had a Great Aunt Petunia, so imagine her surprise when she finds Petunia left her a corner shop in her will. But it’s not just any old corner shop—it’s a corner shop that needs something unique, something the town of Frambleberry has never seen before.

Influenced by her confident best friend, Coco, Agatha is soon convinced that there’s only one way to go: an adults-only sex shop.

While some of the townspeople are clutching their pearls in horror, others are open to the new experiences this shop offers. But not everyone in Frambleberry is convinced. Will the women soldier on in the face of violent threats or will their fears get the best of them—and their new venture—before it even gets off the ground?

 

My review

This is a really enjoyable novel. We have fabulous lead characters in the strait-laced Aggie, a self-confessed prude if ever there was one, and her exuberant best friend Coco. They make for a solid partnership, balancing each other out. Coco can get a bit carried away without Aggie’s calming influence, and she in turn needs her friend to forcibly drag her out of the shadows she’s happy to lurk in. The setting of the story, Frambleberry, is Aggie’s equivalent so it’s not just our heroine who is getting shaken up by this sex shop venture!

The story is bubbly and original, although not without menace and violence, and there’s an intriguing touch of ghostliness too. We also see good and bad relationships, tolerance, hatred, hypocrisy, betrayal and courage so there’s a lot of substance to this book. It’s not just frill and frivolity, like some of the knickers Aggie sells!

There’s a strong thread of family love, support and loyalty throughout the book. Aggie’s parent, Trixie and Ted, play a crucial role in events. Dad offers unwavering support from the start whereas as the slightly dramatic Trixie has to come round to the idea in her own time. However, she’s they lynchpin to the story in many ways. Aggie’s sister Chrissie becomes involved in the adventure too, and Coco’s brother Kyle, who has a slightly chequered history, is always in the wings. And of course it’s Great Aunt Petunia who has provided the shop in the first place.

Aggie becomes stronger and more confident as the story progresses, overcoming many challenges on the way. She’s a fabulous heroine who deserves a happy ending, but will she still keep getting in her own way? Well, you’ll have to read this joyful novel to find out!


Purchase Link

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071DZ7K24

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071DZ7K24

Author Bio

Born in England and raised in Portugal, Suzy lives with her childhood sweetheart Michael, their two crazy dogs and three cats.

Shortly after completing her studies, Suzy worked as a trainee journalist for a local newspaper. Her love of writing developed and a few years later she took the job of assistant editor for the region’s largest English language publisher before becoming editor of a monthly lifestyle magazine. Early in 2010 however, Suzy became a full time author. She has since written several books: Raven, December Moon, The Lost Soul (The Raven Saga), Daisy Madigan’s Paradise, The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw, The Temporal Stone, Looking for Lucy Jo, We Stand Against Evil (The Morgan Sisters), Forever FredlessAnd Then There Was You, Stormy Summer and her latest, Aphrodite’s Closet.

In 2015 she launched her popular 40+ lifestyle blog which continues to go from strength to strength, while just over a year later, she trained to become a yoga instructor. Suzy continues to write, blog and teach yoga in one of Portugal’s loveliest settings – the Algarve.

 

Social Media Links

 

Lifestyle Blog: www.suzyturner.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/suzyturner

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

Facebook: www.facebook.com/suzyturnerbooks

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/suzy_turner

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/suzyturnerbooks

 

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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

 

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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