reviews, books, blog tour

Blog Tour: The Good News Gazette – Jessie Wells

Because we all need something to smile about!
She may be down but don’t count this determined single mum out just yet…
Nine years ago, Zoe Taylor returned from London to the quiet hamlet of Westholme with her tail between her legs and a bun in the oven. Where once her job as a journalist saw her tearing off to Paris at a moment’s notice after a lead, now the single mum covers the local news desk. At least, she did…until she’s unceremoniously let go.
When Zoe invites her friends over to commiserate, wine and whining soon turns into something more… and before the night is out she’s plotted her next step: The Good News Gazette.
Now, as a developer threatens to force Westholme into the twenty-first century, Zoe’s good news movement finds her leading a covert campaign as a community crusader. She may have started The
Good News Gazette as a way to save herself, but she might just be able to save Westholme in the process…

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Jessie Wells lives with her husband and two children in Merseyside. She has always written in some form, and previously worked as a journalist on the Liverpool Echo and Sunday Mirror and as a freelancer for various national women’s magazines and newspapers before moving into finance. She loves nothing more than getting lost in her imaginary worlds, which are largely filled with romance, communities bursting with character and a large dose of positivity.

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My thoughts: this book is such a joyful hug of a read, I loved Zoe and her determined attitude, she will find good news stories, she will save the Parade, and she will support herself and her son Charlie. And so she does. With the support of her mum, her pals and the new friends she makes as she goes about finding the positive things for the Good News Gazette’s pages, she discovers she can do pretty much anything she puts her mind to.

Funny, entertaining and with lots of heart, this was a cheering sort of book, with a dash of romance, the righting of a few wrongs, and a happy ending all round. Definitely the antidote to all the grim realities at the moment.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: What We Never Say – Paulette Stout

SOMETIMES SECRETS ARE TOO BIG TO IGNORE.

After a lifetime of lacking confidence at work and in life, Rebecca has finally found her voice. Her blog for women is gaining traction, even getting noticed by the world’s top fashion magazine. When they request an article, Rebecca is beyond thrilled. So why is her boyfriend Kyle so concerned?

Kyle has a blank spot in his past he won’t share—not even with Rebecca. But his secret is blown when a powerful woman from Kyle’s fashion past, becomes desperate to get his attention. It’s attention he never wanted and has been trying to forget for eleven years.

As Kyle takes steps to heal, Rebecca’s article becomes a global sensation. Events force Kyle’s past and present to converge, putting Rebecca’s future at serious risk.

Kyle and Rebecca must now act to reclaim their lives before it’s too late.

With this bold novel, Paulette Stout delivers a deeply personal story that proves the power we hold to reclaim our own lives. What We Never Say is yet another bingeable read from a rising Women’s Fiction author.

This book includes delicate subject matter.

My thoughts: this book certainly packs a punch, covering some big issues; abuse of power, sexual assault in men, women’s sexual issues, relationships, work, ethics (stealing someone else’s work product is not ok) and weddings.

But it’s done really well and at no point does it feel like you’re being hit over the head with a book labelled “issues”. Instead through Rebecca and Kyle you come to see and understand the things that they’re struggling with, past and present, the impact it has on them individually and as a couple and how they deal with it.

The heaviness of some of the sybject matter is dealt with a lightness of touch. And while nothing is shied away from, you don’t end up feeling uncomfortable. Rebecca and Kyle are likeable people, they feel like the sort of people you might know – outwardly successful and happy, but with hidden depths and troubles.

I enjoyed this book and felt it brought things to the surface empathetically and realistically. These things can and do happen – and there is little understanding or support for men who are sexually manipulated and abused, and very rarely repercussions (much as with women who are victims of similar behaviour by men). The power imbalance is often too great.

The other issues are equally well handled and while some characters come out of this well, others do not (deservedly so). A clever and clearly well researched and developed set of characters and plots. Very interesting and thought provoking.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Blast: The Winter Dress – Lauren Chater

Two women separated by centuries, the threads of their lives drawn together by one beautiful silk dress

Textiles historian Jo Baaker is drawn back to the Dutch island where she was born to investigate the provenance of a valuable seventeenth-century silk dress retrieved from a sunken shipwreck. Her research leads her to Anna Tesseltje, a poor Amsterdam laundress who served on the fringes of the Dutch court.

But how did Anna come to possess such a precious dress? Jo is determined to trace the threads and find out, all while battling with professional egos and personal demons.

My thoughts: I studied material culture as part of my MA so this really appealed to me academically as well as a reader of historical fiction. The things people leave behind them can tell us so much. The beautiful dress found in a shipwreck off Texel tells the story of Anna.

Once a merchant’s daughter, she’s reduced to doing other people’s laundry when the opportunity comes to be companion to a female artist – Catherina. And to love, a freedom she didn’t know she could have and then to tragedy. Her mother’s dress, silk with intricate embroidery outlives her and textile historian Jo carefully teases out Anna’s life story.

Both Anna and Jo are determined women in world’s dominated by men – for Anna the obnoxious Maarten, for Jo her so-called colleague Liam. But both are clever and capable and use all their resources (and in Anna’s case, a storm) to prove their worth.

I really enjoyed this book with its slip back and forth between the two narratives, hundreds of years apart, the insight into the Dutch court that Anna gets was interesting and the lives of the modern islanders was too. A fascinating and informative story of two women, ordinary but in their own way extremely remarkable too.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Closer to Okay – Amy Watson

ClosertoOkay copy

Welcome to the book tour for Closer to Okay by Amy Watson! Read on for more info and enter the giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy and some fantastic book swag!

Closer to Okay

Cover

Publication Date: October 11, 2022

Genre: Book Club Fiction/ Modern Contemporary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction

Publisher: Alcove Press

Book Tour Organized By:

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Blog Tour: Salt Crystals – Cristina Bendek, translated by Robin Myers

San Andrés rises gently from the Caribbean, part of Colombia but closer to Nicaragua, the largest island in an archipelago claimed by the Spanish, colonized by the Puritans, worked by slaves, and home to Arab traders, migrants from the mainland, and the descendents of everyone who came before. For Victoria – whose origins on the island go back generations, but whose identity is contested by her accent, her skin color, her years far away – the sun-burned tourists and sewage blooms, sudden storms, and ‘thinking rundowns’ where liberation is plotted and dinner served from a giant communal pot, bring her into vivid, intimate contact with the island she thought she knew, her own history, and the possibility for a real future for herself and San Andrés.

WINNER OF ELISA MÚJICA PRIZE FOR NOVELS (Colombia, 2018)

My thoughts: this was a really interesting book, I don’t know a huge amount about South America, let alone Colombia, and certainly not San Andreś. I think because it was mostly conquered by the Spanish, it just doesn’t get covered in British schools. Which is a shame, as this book demonstrates. The island has had a complex and tumultuous history, being settled by various colonisers (including the British – no surprise there) seeking a foothold in the Caribbean.

As Victoria starts to trace her family’s history, exploring her deep connection to the island, she uncovers a rich and often quite dark history. Her ancestors were involved in settling the island – but they brought slaves with them, to farm sugar, as with much of the Caribbean, and she is both horrified and intrigued by the people she’s descended from.

The modern island is not without its problems either – arguments about water, sewage, pollution and land rage around her, she’s drawn into the politics by her friends, despite her late parents never really getting involved, she feels she should, after all it’s her home too.

Challenging and questioning history, this is a slim and intelligent book. Despite the serious nature of some of the things Victoria is learning, the tone is light and never hectoring. You feel Victoria’s surprise and horror as she uncovers the truth about her family, but also her affection for these long dead relatives. Emotions are never black or white, as Victoria learns, like the past, it’s more complicated. But as she looks to the future, to her future on San Andreś, there’s hope too, by understanding her history, she can look to shape a better future.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Someone Like You – Rachel Dove

One broken marriage. One broken heart. One chance to meet someone new.

Hannah leaves her unhappy marriage with her daughter Ava and moves to the village of Leadsham to start afresh. She plans to keep a low profile, focusing on Ava and making a new life for them, far away from her violent ex-husband.

What she hadn’t counted on was Andrew Brody. A police officer with a strict moral code, he knows something’s wrong as soon as he meets Hannah, and he wants to help. But Hannah has been let down by the police – and men – before, and pushes him away.

But the more Hannah tries to ignore Brody, the more she’s drawn to him. Caring, kind and patient, he’s nothing like the man she’s running from. Can Hannah finally put her past behind her, and open her heart to someone new?

My thoughts: as the author says, domestic violence can happen to anyone, but maybe that person will be as lucky as Hannah, whose friend Kate helps her leave and the new home she finds is full of kind people who want to help her, if she can just open up.

She finds new friends, a new job, and a new love, if she can let him, and his dog, in. Brody is a police dog handler, Bullet his partner and Hannah the mysterious woman he’s falling in love with. Bullet prefers baby Ava – notorious as babies are for dropping food, perfect pal for a hungry pooch.

Hannah’s running scared and can’t trust anyone but as she starts to settle in to her new life and the bruises fade, maybe it’s time to. As long as her awful husband doesn’t find them.

Written sensitively and with obvious compassion, this is the best possible outcome for someone fleeing violence, and Hannah finds a new home and a fresh start. Not everyone gets that, but this is a hopeful book, written with heart.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: When Things are Alive They Hum – Hannah Bent

Set between Hong Kong, London and China in the year 2000, When Things are Alive They Hum by Hannah Bent tells the story of two sisters, the grief that shapes them as children and the lengths to which they will go to save each other as adults. Of her debut novel, Hannah says ‘My inspiration is my sister Camilla who is living with Down syndrome. Our relationship has taught me so much about love, life and grief. I do hope that some of the gifts that Camilla has given me may now be passed onto you through this story.’

Harper, born with a congenital heart disorder and living with what she calls the Up syndrome, is happily living in Hong Kong and in a relationship. On the other side of the world, Marlowe is studying a rare species of butterfly when she is called home with devastating news — Harper’s heart is failing and she has been denied a necessary transplant because she is living with a disability. So begins a journey for the two sisters, both fiercely determined to protect the other no matter the sacrifice.

When Things are Alive They Hum poses profound questions about the nature of love and existence, the ways grief changes us, and how we confront the hand fate has dealt us. Intensely moving, exquisitely written and literally humming with wonder, it is a novel that celebrates life in all its guises, and what comes after.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Hannah Bent completed her Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art and Film from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design in London. She undertook further study in both directing and screenwriting at the Australian Film and Television and Radio School and has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney. She was the 2013 recipient of the Ray Koppe Young Writers Award for her novel as a work in progress. Instagram: @hannahbent_author Website: http://www.hannahbent.com

My thoughts: this was lovely, be warned you will need the tissues though. Love is a funny, complicated thing. Marlowe loves Harper, her younger sister, and would do anything for her, but the thought of Harper dying from the heart defect she was born with causes her to spiral.

Harper is very perceptive – she can see the pain her sister is in. Pain that dates back to the death of their mother when they were both very young. Marlowe has been carrying her grief around with her.

As Harper’s condition worsens, Marlowe takes things to an extreme, desperate to save her sister. But she isn’t listening to what Harper wants. It’s only when she starts, that she understands and can stop trying to fix everything.

Beautiful, sad, and intensely moving, this was a joy to read although it made me cry. Harper’s way of seeing the world is magical and colourful, all she wants is to be happy, to be with her family, her friends, her Louis, and her Marlowe. Tender and heartbreaking, I think we all need to try to be a bit more Harper.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: This Is Us – Helen McGinn

A story about friends, sisters, motherhood and starting again – one day at a time…
Stella fell in love with Simon hard and fast. He was everything she wanted in a husband, and he seemed to feel the same way about her. More than a decade of marriage later, life is sweet. They
have three much-wanted children, a successful business, and a comfortable London home. What more could Stella possibly want?
But then, out of the blue, Simon is gone. Vanished. No one knows where he’s gone or why.
Now Stella, with the help of her friends and family, has to pick up the pieces of her and her children’s life, all the while wondering what she missed. Was her husband who he said he was, and
can she trust her own memories of their life together?
Helen McGinn’s latest novel is a love story to friendship, sisters, motherhood and starting again – one day at a time. Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Noble, Cathy Kelly and JoJo Moyes.
Purchase


Helen McGinn is a much-loved wine expert on TV and in print and an international wine judge. She spent ten years as a supermarket buyer sourcing wines around the world before setting up her
award-winning blog (and now best-selling wine book) The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club. She is the drinks writer for the Daily Mail and regularly appears on TV’s Saturday Kitchen and This Morning.
Helen lives in the New Forest.

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My thoughts: as someone whose husband recently left them, I totally resonated with Stella. Although I don’t think mine has done all of the awful things Simon has. I loved her hilarious group of friends – Sarah, Lucy and Bridget, and even her supposedly uptight but actually rather nice sister too. The kids were sweet and well behaved and the dog. The trip to Florence sounds amazing (I went when I was 14 but need to go again as a grown up) and her trip to Oban to solve the mystery of Simon’s past gave her a new friend and some answers.

A really enjoyable, light hearted book about friendship, sisters, family and beginning again, but in a good way. Stella is warm and kind and knows what she wants. As we all should.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: The Rise – Shari Low & Ross King

When we bury our secrets, they always come back to haunt us…
Their rise was meteoric.
Only a few years before, they had been three friends from Glasgow, just trying to survive tough lives of danger and dysfunction.
But on one Hollywood evening in 1993, they were on the world’s biggest stage, accepting their Oscar in front of the watching world.
That night was the beginning of their careers. But it was also the end of their friendship.
Over the next twenty years, Mirren McLean would become one of the most powerful writers in the movie industry.
Zander Leith would break box-office records as cinema’s most in-demand action hero.
And Davie Johnson would rake in millions as producer of some of the biggest shows on TV.
For two decades they didn’t speak, driven apart by a horrific secret.
Until now…
Their past is coming back to bite them, and they have to decide whether to run, hide, or fight.
Because when you rise to the top, there’s always someone who wants to see you fall.
An exciting new glam thriller for the fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid, Liane Moriarty and Jo Spain
Purchase


Shari Low and Ross King MBE is a writing partnership forged in a friendship of over 30 years. Scottish author Shari is the bestselling writer of over thirty novels including bestsellers My One Month
Marriage, One Summer Sunrise and The Story of our Secrets. Los-Angeles-based Ross King is a four times news Emmy award-winning TV and radio host, actor, producer, writer and performer, and is
currently the Los Angeles correspondent for ITV’s Lorraine and Good Morning Britain. They are publishing their Hollywood thriller trilogy with Boldwood, the first of which is called The Rise and is
due for release in September 2022.

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My thoughts: this was a lot of fun. I love Shari’s books and this had her trademark humour mixed with a shot of Hollywood glamour. Three friends from a rough Glasgow council estate escape their lives and with a script based on a terrible incident somehow blag their way to fame and fortune and then never speak again.

Until a journalist starts digging, wanting to write about their upbringing, dig up the past. Something they would do anything to stop. Might be time to catch up.

I was hooked, this was so good, written like a thriller but with lots in common with vintage Jackie Collins or Taylor Jenkins Reid, that behind the scenes everything is falling apart vibe, the glitz is fake feel to it. And it’s really shocking too. I won’t go into details but wow. Lots of twists you will not spot.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: All That’s Left Unsaid – Tracey Lien

They claim they saw nothing. She knows they’re lying.

1996 – Cabramatta, Sydney

‘Just let him go.’

Those are words Ky Tran will forever regret. The words she spoke when her parents called to ask if they should let her younger brother Denny out to celebrate his high school graduation with friends. That night, Denny – optimistic, guileless Denny – is brutally murdered inside a busy restaurant in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta, a refugee enclave facing violent crime, and an indifferent police force.

Returning home for the funeral, Ky learns that the police are stumped by her brother’s case. Even though several people were present at Denny’s murder, each bystander claims to have seen nothing, and they are all staying silent.

Determined to uncover the truth, Ky tracks down and questions the witnesses herself. But what she learns goes beyond what happened that fateful night. The silence has always been there, threaded through the generations, and Ky begins to expose the complex traumas weighing on those present the night Denny died. As she peels back the layers of the place that shaped her, she must confront more than the reasons her brother is dead. And once those truths have finally been spoken, how can any of them move on?

My thoughts: this is a powerful book, as Ky (pronounced Key) tries to solve the mystery of her brother’s horrific murder, she reflects on growing up the children of immigrants, her parents are from Korea, and the legacy that leaves her and her generation with. The microaggressions, the overt or not racism, the way none of the white Australians will admit it must have been hard.

There’s also poverty, parental expectations and fears, violence, gangs and grief in the mix. Why won’t her brother’s friends or even his teacher speak up? And what does her long lost best friend Minnie have to do with it?

Ky doesn’t just advocate for her brother with the indifferent, all white, police force, she investigates, using her skills as a journalist to interview and question witnesses, hunt down potential leads and unravel the silence around the crime. Even her own parents seem reluctant to dig deeper, lost in their grief.

Powerful, compelling and moving. This is a book I won’t be forgetting soon.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.