blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: New Family Required – Carmen Reid

Sasha Greenhope has a very lovely life. Her marriage is solid, her only daughter is delightful, and the family business is going full steam ahead.
The only blip on the horizon is the upcoming family reunion for her parents 40th wedding anniversary at Chadwell House – the family pile. Sasha just does not fit with her rich family. Her French mother, Delphine thinks everything Sasha does is a faux pas.. And siblings, Adele and Beau, are clearly the favourites, leaving Sasha surplus to requirements So when Sasha’s husband Ben takes this exact moment to reveal that they are about to go bankrupt, Sasha wants to be anywhere but stuck in a lavish marquee!
Swallowing her pride, and a whole bottle of fizz, Sasha determines to ask her family for help – and maybe even a loan – only to discover that her parents and siblings are all keeping secrets of their own!
Family secrets, warring siblings and a disastrous reunion… what could possibly go right?!
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Carmen Reid is the bestselling author of numerous woman’s fiction titles including the Personal Shopper series starring Annie Valentine. After taking a break from writing she is back, introducing her hallmark feisty women characters to a new generation of readers. She lives in Glasgow with her husband and children.

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My thoughts: families – who’d have ’em? Sasha’s siblings and parents all seem to be more successful and gilded than she and her husband – especially as their business is in freefall thanks to a client going bust. Her parents’ wedding anniversary party is the last thing she needs right now.

It’s all very fancy and Sasha’s at breaking point when a series of calamities throw the family together and force them to confront some uncomfortable home truths.

The people closest to you can be the most aggravating but hopefully at the end of it all, you can find a way through together.

Funny, sad, but thankfully with a happy ending, a good reminder to be grateful for your family, whoever they are to you.

*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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Book Blitz: Closer to Okay – Amy Watson

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I’m pleased to share Closer to Okay by Amy Watson with you all today. Look for it this October and be sure to enter the giveaway! 

Cover

Closer to Okay

Expected Publication Date: October 11, 2022

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

Publisher: Alcove Press

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blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Halfways – Nilopar Uddin

Nasrin and Sabrina are two sisters, who on the face of things live successful and enviable lives in London and New York. When their father, Shamsur suddenly dies, they rush to be with their mother at the family home and restaurant in Wales, and reluctantly step back into the stifling world of their childhood.

When Shamsur’s will is read, a devastating secret is revealed that challenges all that people thought and loved about him. It also profoundly changes the lives and identities of the sisters, and creates an irreparable family rift…

Moving between London, Wales, New York and Bangladesh, this is an epic family drama that spans over four decades. A story of mothers and daughters, of fathers and daughters, of sisterhood, it is a tale that explores belonging, family and what makes forgiveness and redemption possible.

My thoughts: firstly I want to talk about the striking and beautiful cover on this book, it really is lovely. And I know you should never judge a book by its cover but you can certainly admire it.

The story it contains is not an easy read, it starts with the death of the family patriarch, a man who loves his family and keeps all of its secrets, who protects and cares for his employees, who was well known and loved in the community and whose death, a sudden one, leaves a deep hole in the centre of everyone and everything.

The differing reactions to his death, and to the fallout of his will, make up the rest of the book. His daughters, niece and wife all have very different ways of dealing with things, Sabrina’s rage, Nasrin’s epilepsy returning, and revelations he leaves behind all have profound impacts. The business struggles – more than the food they serve, the Peacock was Shamsur, and without him customers don’t quite seem to be coming.

Afroz, his niece, has travelled from Bangladesh, leaving her husband and impossible mother-in-law behind. She tries to help, finding she enjoys working in the restaurant, enjoys being with the staff, who Shamsur treated like family. She struggles with her cousins, and looks after her aunt, whose grief is complicated by secrets left behind in both the past and Bangladesh.

In a way this reminded me of one of my favourite books – Nadeem Aslan’s Maps for Lost Lovers, with its intergenerational secrets and pain, the foreign born younger generation having to unpack the things their immigrant parents prefer to keep hidden, not always understanding the mess of culture, religion and society that wrap around certain people and events. Seeing their parents’ homeland as backward and even ridiculous compared to the Western world they live in.

There are further tragedies, and more heartbreak to be reckoned with, the ripples of Shamsur’s will lingering long after his death. Nasrin’s illness and struggles in particular seem acute and complicated. Sabrina’s determination to push her ethnicity, her mother tongue, as far as possible away from her, to be ultra modern and keep up with the culture of her world of investments and trades threaten to unmoor her completely from her family. Afroz too needs time to decide what she really wants – the husband she didn’t choose and a life of unwilling servitude or this new one in the shadow of the Brecon Beacons, in her aunt and uncle’s footsteps.

Incredibly moving, powerful and engaging, this is a striking book both in looks and in contents.

*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: The Eye of the Beholder – Margie Orford

Cora carries secrets her daughter can’t know.
Freya is frightened by what her mother leaves unsaid.
Angel will only bury the past if it means putting her abusers into the ground.

One act of violence sets three women on a collision course, each desperate to find the truth, when the people they love are not what they seem.

When danger lies in the eye of the beholder, what happens when you reject its pull?

Margie Orford is an award-winning journalist who has been dubbed the Queen of South African Crime Fiction. Her Clare Hart crime novels have been translated into ten languages and are being developed into a television series. She was born in London and spent her formative years in Namibia and South Africa. A Fulbright Scholar, she was educated in South Africa and the United States, has a doctorate in creative writing from the University of East Anglia and is an honorary fellow of St Hugh’s College, Oxford. She is President Emerita of PEN South Africa and was the patron of Rape Crisis Cape Town. She now lives in London. 

My thoughts: a few years ago there was a grief furore in the press about a photographer who had included images of her naked children in an exhibition and a book. The debate centered around consent and the line between art and porn. That’s the line Cora’s most recent exhibition has been accused of crossing in this book. The paintings are of herself as a child, topless on her parents’ South African farm – replicas of photos. She claims she’s trying to capture that last moment of innocence, before a girl realises why men are looking at her. But the resemblance of her daughter, now an adult, and the childhood Cora has angered some.

She’s also in a new relationship with a man with a horrible, dark secret. Angel, who also has horrible, terrible, heartbreaking secrets, is looking for this man – Yves, in the Canadian wilderness where he lives and she works in a wolf rehabilitation centre.

These women’s lives collide because of these secrets and because of Yves and men like him. There is a real core of darkness in this book, something a lot of us don’t like to acknowledge. Angel and Cora are trying to take something back, to restore lost innocence in their own, very different ways.

Freya, Cora’s daughter, is wrestling with being her mother’s daughter, with what her mother’s autobiographical art means to her – and hoping to understand her mother better. She uncovers some things Cora has tried to bury.

Compelling, brutally honest and incredibly powerful, this is a striking and gripping novel that lingers in the mind long after you close the book.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: One Last Secret – Adele Parks

Everyone has secrets, don’t they?

One last client. A week at a beautiful chateau in the south of France—it should be a straightforward final job for Dora. She’s a smart, stunning and discreet escort, and Daniel has paid for her services before. This time, all she has to do is to convince the assembled guests that she is his girlfriend. Dora is used to playing roles and being whatever men want her to be. It’s all about putting on a front.

One last chance. It will be a last, luxurious look at how the other half lives before Dora turns her back on the escort world and all its dangers. She has found someone she loves and trusts. With him, she can escape the life she’s trapped in. But when Dora arrives at the chateau, it quickly becomes obvious that nothing is what it seems…

One last secret. Dora finds herself face-to-face with a man she has never forgotten, the one man who really knows her. And as old secrets surface, it becomes terrifyingly apparent that one last secret could cost Dora her life…

From the Sunday Times number one bestseller Adele Parks comes a blisteringly provocative novel about power, sex, money and revenge.

My thoughts: I love Adele Parks, so I was thrilled to get my hands on her newest book and oh it doesn’t disappoint! It’s full of secrets and sex and revenge and sudden heartstopping moments and twists.

Dora is a rather sympathetic figure, right up until the end, and she finds herself in a horrifying situation after agreeing to one last job – even though she doesn’t need to or really want to. The beautiful location hides darkness and manipulative, dangerous people.

After it all takes a nasty turn, Dora’s memory isn’t very reliable. The book flashes back to her aged 19, to how she ended up working as an escort and why. It adds dimensions to her character and starts to explain why the present events might just be happening.

This was so enjoyable, if you’re heading off to lounge by a pool, take a copy. If like me, your summer involves your own sofa, get a copy 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.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Twelve Percent Dread – Emily McGovern

A fast-paced, laugh-a-page graphic novel about friendship, capitalism, and never putting your f***ing phone away!

Katie and Nas are best friends, exes, co-dependents. They share everything, including a tiny room in a North London townhouse belonging to their landlord Jeremy, former host of the hit 90s show ‘Football Lads’.

While Katie bounces from job to job and obsesses about falling behind in life, Nas has bigger things in mind—waiting endlessly for their visa to come through, while working on a seismic art project that will revolutionize politics and society as we know it. Their friend Emma, meanwhile, seems to have it all figured out—job, mortgage, engagement—yet the long hours working for tech giant Arko and endless wedding admin prove equally dread-inducing.

But when Katie’s latest job finds her tutoring the daughter of Arko’s formidable CEO, Michelle, and Emma welcomes the eccentric and enigmatic Alicia to her team at Arko, none of the three women are aware that their lives—and possibly the future of society itself—are about to change forever.

Twelve Percent Dread is a fast-paced, laugh-a-page graphic novel about friendship, capitalism, and never putting your f***ing phone away from Emily McGovern, author of Bloodlust & Bonnets and the hugely popular webcomic My Life As A Background Slytherin.

My thoughts: Bloodlust & Bonnets is still one of my favourite graphic novels of the last few years – it’s very, very funny and we need a sequel please! So I was delighted to be gifted a copy of Twelve Percent Dread to review.

It didn’t disappoint, funny, insightful, intelligent and wry, this is very much a book for right now. With a giant tech firm, its megalomaniac founder poised to try to take over everyone’s lives, while threatening the Prime Minister and barely parenting her teenage daughter, and two young people who have to share a room even though they broke up – rent is not cheap people, just trying to get through life, make enough money to survive, oh and not get deported, this is the satirical read we need!

Katie and Nas are just about surviving, Katie’s addicted to her phone, just lost her job and needs to get a new one – not least because the rent is due. Nas is hoping to stay in the UK (why?) and isn’t allowed to get a job. And now they want to bring down Arko. As things start to spiral out of control, will they be ok?

*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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Book Review & Author Q&A: Aunt Edwina’s Fabulous Wishes – Lynne Christensen

Aunt Edwina’s Fabulous Wishes (Friesen Press, June, 2022), the first book in the uplifting Aunt Edwina series, begins when free-spirited painter Julie Fincher discovers that her fiancé is a gold-digger, and she reluctantly decides to go ahead with the wedding to please her ailing father. The day before the wedding, however, the family’s beloved ninety-two-year-old Lady Edwina Greymore passes away and everything changes.

After Aunt Edwina’s passing, Julie is appointed executrix of her large country estate and discovers an intricate family history treasure hunt with clues scattered all around southern England that she now must solve. Leaving her deceptive new husband behind, Julie sets out on the madcap adventure of a lifetime, together with her eccentric, karaoke-loving cousin. Along the way, they meet well-meaning aristocrats, experienced genealogists, a handsome antiques shop owner, and a verbose lawyer with a curious potbellied pig.

A clean, uplifting, humorous novel, readers will enjoy solving riddles while picking up a few basic tips about doing their own family history research along the way.

Q&A with Lynne Christensen

Question: What inspired the Aunt Edwina series?

Lynne Christensen: One day, I was standing in our vast home library packed with topography, genealogy, travel, archives and museum books and thought that it was a real shame more use wasn’t made of it. It dawned on me–I am the daughter of a world­renowned genealogist and have spent my life visiting archives, historic places and museums all over the world. As a writer, it became instantly obvious that I was in a unique position to write a new uplifting series about family history. I’ve been a writer all my life, mainly in the corporate world, and saw a unique chance to write a novel series like no other.

Question: Your cover is so colorful! Why did you put a 92-year-old woman on the front?

Lynne: It made sense because she is the foundation of all that follows. Her family looks to Lady Edwina Greymore for guidance, composure and how to best serve the community. Of course they are a privileged family, but they know how to give back and include the people in their village and greater county. On a higher plane, ageism in entertainment needs to be halted, and it’s so scarily unusual to see a senior on the cover of a novel.

Question: Do you have to be an expert genealogist to understand this book?

Lynne: Absolutely not. It’s actually written for beginners, someone who’s starting to discover family history records, interviews, build a rudimentary family tree etc.

Question: What kind of fact-checking had to happen for this book?

Lynne: My mother, Penelope Christensen, PhD, has written 38 nonfiction research methodology books and is a world-renowned genealogy expert. I was fortunate to have her to rely upon for checking that the research sections were correct. I am by no means a genealogy expert myself but am extremely interested in historical lives, family heirlooms, social history etc.

Question: Who is your ideal reader?

Lynne: Readers today, I believe, are looking for an uplifting escape from all the challenges our world is experiencing. Aunt Edwina’s Fabulous Wishes is humorous family history fiction. It’s a niche category for those who love family history and all its twists, turns and eccentric characters. This book is a fun read filled with characters who will become friends.

Question: Is this a clean read, safe for all ages?

Lynne: Yes, there is no erotica, violence or profanity in this novel, making it easy to share with your children or grandmother without worrying about any dodgy bits! I understand that clean reads with substantive stories are in demand.

Question: When can we expect more from the Aunt Edwina series?

Lynne: Book 2 is already at the publishers and should hopefully be out late 2022. The Greymore team is in full action helping two new characters pursuing more family history adventures and knowledge.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lynne Christensen is a world traveler who enjoys visiting museums and archives. She grew up roaming around graveyards in Europe with her genealogy-loving parents in search of elusive ancestors. A lifelong learner, she earned both Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Commerce degrees plus has over twenty-five years of experience in marketing and corporate communications. Her writing is published in numerous magazine articles, case studies, advertisements and technical manuals. She lives on the West Coast of Canada in a house full of fascinating books.

Connect with Lynne at http://www.auntedwina.com and on Twitter (@LVChristensen), Instagram (@lynnevchristensen), and LinkedIn.

Aunt Edwina’s Fabulous Wishes will be available wherever books are sold.


My thoughts: I was sent this book for review, so thank you to the PR team. It sounded like lots of fun so I was happy to share it with you all.

After Julie discovers her brand new husband is cheating on her, and her grandmother/aunt Edwina has just passed away, she takes off a treasure hunt with her eccentric cousin Gertie to discover Edwina’s secrets and a forgotten love story.

The book is very funny and clever as Aunt Edwina’s clues have the duo meeting all sorts of interesting people from antique dealers, aristocrats turned hoteliers, and a lawyer who never uses one word when six will do! There’s also escaped rabbits, runway pigs, a lost puppy and a diversion to Scotland for the no good husband and his mistress.

Taking in parts of southern England, from Kent across to Devon, visiting the places the mysterious artist ‘E.E.’ painted and finding all sorts of keys and locks along the way. This was a fun and clever book, very enjoyable and accessible.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: These Streets – Luan Goldie

Jess is a single mother to two teenage children, and although life can be tough she’s just about keeping things together. But when her landlord asks her to move on, so he can sell the house they’re living in without warning, Jess’s worries take on a whole new meaning. As Jess struggles to regain her footing, cracks begin to appear in other areas of her life, and suddenly she feels she’s failing at everything. Her daughter Hazel is becoming more and more distant, her son Jacob is struggling to find where he fits in the world, and the menacing spectre of Jess’s older brother, someone she cut out of her life years ago, begins to make his presence felt again.

Jess knows she’s the only one who can keep her family together, but how can she keep going when life keeps beating her back?

Set on the streets of East London, These Streets is a searing and powerful novel that explores how we are meant to find our place in a world that is designed for only the privileged to succeed. Beautiful and honest, it is an essential story about living in Britain today.

My thoughts: this was a really interesting slice of life in East London. As rent prices soar, Jess finds herself priced out of the area she grew up in, where her elderly father still lives, where her kids go to school. Something that’s all too common in London in 2022.

The things Jess is facing – job loss, homelessness, an aging parent, struggles with her teenage children, are sadly all too familiar but Luan Goldie makes these mounting troubles not only relatable but empathetic and highly readable. I liked Jess and Wolf, I liked Ben and his dog Harold, I liked Jacob, and even Hazel. I saw so many people I know in the family and their struggles.

Contemporary fiction holds a mirror up to life in many ways and this intelligent and well written novel deserves a wide audience, and maybe someone in power might read it and finally do something about the mess we’re in.

*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: Tasting Sunlight – Ewald Arenz, translated by Rachel Ward

Teenager Sally has just run away from a clinic where she is to be treated for anorexia. She’s furious with everything and everyone, and wants to be left in peace. Liss is in her forties, living alone on a large farm that she runs single­handedly. She has little contact with the outside world, and no need for other people.

From their first meeting, Sally realises that Liss isn’t like other adults; she expects nothing of Sally and simply accepts who she is, offering her a bed for the night with no questions asked.

The first night lengthens into weeks as Sally starts to find pleasure in working with the bees, feeding the chickens, and harvesting potatoes. Eventually an unlikely friendship develops and these two damaged women slowly open up – connecting to each other, reconnecting with themselves, and facing the darkness in their pasts through their shared work on the land

Ewald Arenz was born in Nurnberg in 1965, where he now teaches. He has won various national and regional awards for literature; among them the Bavarian State Prize for Literature and the great Nuremberg Prize for Literature. One of seven children, he enjoys nature, woodturning, biking, swimming, and drinking tea. He lives with his family in Germany. #TastingSunlight #JubilantJune @EwaldArenz

My thoughts: this is a rather strange but beautiful love story. Sally runs away from the mental health unit her parents have sent her to, and finds shelter on Liss’ family farm. Both women are wounded and lonely, together they slowly start to heal.

But Sally’s parents and the authorities are looking for her, and in finding her they drag up Liss’ sad, painful past. This time Sally will be the one helping Liss recover and move on. Their bond is fragile, and the farm is full of complicated memories, but among the pear trees and vines, there is the gentle hope for the future.

Moving, tender and bittersweet, I was swept up into the world Liss and Sally create for themselves as they harvest the fruit and go about their daily chores. The outside world brings them pain so they seek to hide from it. Something I think we can all relate to at times.

*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: Who Do You Think You Are Maggie Pink? –

Maggie Pink is a lot of things to a lot of people, but does she know who she really is?
Maggie is a mother to a stroppy teenager, a wife to a befuddled husband, and a daughter to two very different women. She has always known she’s adopted, but has she ever understood what that means? Not really.
Following the death of her mother, Maggie finally feels able to go in search of her birth mother Morag, and heads to the Highlands of Scotland with her disgruntled daughter Roxie in tow, leaving her crumbling marriage to worry about another day.
The family reunion is bittersweet, but everything is blown wide open when Roxie unearths Morag’s explosive teenage diaries. Why did Morag give Maggie away? What really happened all those years
ago, and how have the echoes of the past resounded through the generations, like ripples in a puddle?
And when all the secrets and promises are out in the open, will Maggie finally have an answer to the question – who do you think you are Maggie Pink?
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Janet Hoggarth is the number one bestselling author of The Single Mums’ Mansion and the highly successful Single Mums’ subsequent series. She has worked on a chicken farm, as a bookseller, a
children’s book editor, a children’s author, and as a DJ (under the name of Whitney and Britney!).
She lives with her family in East Dulwich, London. Her first book for Boldwood will be published in 2022.

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My thoughts: this was a bittersweet story about family, history repeating itself, and the different ways we express love. Maggie travels to Scotland to learn about her late birth mother – Morag, teenage daughter in tow and discovers a whole life she never lived.

Her aunt Fiona and Morag’s friend Issy bring her mother back to life with their memories and Morag’s own teenage diaries. Which reveal several other kettles of fish. Intergenerational trauma and secrets are revealed as Maggie gets to know the family she didn’t have and Roxie comes to see her own parents in a different light too.

Heartwarming and also very sad in places, this is a powerful and moving book about mothers, daughters and why we all need to communicate better.

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