#Review By Lou – Alice, Shaken and Definitely Stirred by Paula Smith @PaulaSmith2424 @lovebooksgroup @lovebookstours

Alice, Shaken and Definitely Stirred
By Paula Smith

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Food, Films, Famous People, Romance and a lot of fun… What more can a girl ask for? This book is jam-packed full of all of that. Thanks to Love Books Group for inviting me to review and for The Conrad Press for gifting me the book. The book was published in 2020 and I am delighted to be part of this blog tour.

AliceLBT6

Blurb

This uplifting romantic comedy takes you on Alice’s journey, interweaving her relationships with real-life characters and dreams involving her favourite romantic screen idols.

Lamenting the loss of her long-term partner and having been made redundant, Alice makes a New Year’s Resolution to get on with life, and definitely without a man. But things don’t quite go to plan. As her Aunty Betty says, ‘Men, dear, are like buses, there are none on the horizon then three come along all at once.’ Alice certainly is shaken and definitely stirred.

Review

AliceLBT2The tone of friends who are also related together (Alice and Sue), just chatting, reminiscing, gossiping is just pure fun and something to relax into from the start.

There’s humour to be had and a dream that starts off exquisitely and romantically… until it starts to come tumbling down, down, down, until reality totally hits and there’s work to go to. Alice works for Mr Frobersham as a director and is in the business of buttons for all the top named stores and brands… until things changed when she was off work.
She also has a social life of sorts, involving all sorts of food and drink. This is a book you may want to prepare a snack and a drink before you sit back and relax in the summer sun with.

The interweaving of real life and dreams is quite different and is easy to differentiate from the two, one because of the famous people’s names, two, because it says when she’s having a dream, three, the style of text changes slightly. They are also pretty outlandish and definitely odd, but adds to the fun of Alice. If you enjoy films you’ll enjoy this book, with its references, . In a way the book almost plays out like a film within a book, or a tv show in a book as there are some references and names from tv too  and the fact it’s a romcom makes it more so.

When practically swearing off men, 3 enter her life – Ollie, Malcolm and Alistair and it’s rather a conundrum for her to choose which guy would be more suitable for her and to work out who may have a bigger chance of breaking her heart. Mixed in with this, is the hard truth that she needs to find a new job, which brings more than a dose of reality to the book.

The book is set at Christmas time, but not too many references to it. It’s one of those that doesn’t feel like it matters too much when you read it. It’s just a feelgood, cosy rom-com, that I think will make people feel warm inside and can have a very nice time with.

Alice Shaken Twitter

#Review by Lou -The Killer Smile by RC Bridgestock @RCBridgestock @canelo_co #CrimeFiction

The Killer Smile
By RC Bridgestock

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Killer Smile is a great book to sink your teeth into. It’s got great characters and plotting that will keep readers involved to the end. RC Bridgestock, well, you can find out more about them at the bottom of this post, after the blurb and review. These are authors who definitely know all the ins and outs of the policing world and they are consultants on hit series such as Happy Valley, Scott and Bailey and The Beast Must Die and more. Find out about their charitable works too. Amazingly, they have time to write readers great crime fiction as well. I bought this and I was not disappointed! I would read more… Even their books would make an involving tv series themselves…

Killer Smile

Blurb

A killer with a macabre passion for human teeth stalks 
the residents of Harrowfield.

Three linked murders means Assistant Chief Constable Wendy Smythe is brought in to take ultimate charge of the serial murder investigation, and she is adamant on managing the task akin to a drama. Dylan has to dig deep to remain professional.

Chilling, ultimate and full of menace. There is dark suspicion that nobody is safe until the perpetrator is apprehended. Will the ring of steel wrapped around Harrowfield bring the psychopath to justice?

Coupled with the fact Dylan and Jen’s daughter Maisy is hospitalised with an undiagnosed serious illness; Jack is under pressure on all fronts.

On a happier note Jen’s dad Ralph, introduces the pair to his new lady friend but all is not as rosy as it seems three hundred miles away on the Isle of Wight, when her son brings the police to their door.

Dylan shares intelligence with The National Crime Agency which brings back a deep seated anguish of fallen colleague DS Larry Banks. Can he help them capture the boss of an international drugs cartel, and if so will it bring Dylan closure?

Review

It starts off with one of the most chilling poems I’ve ever read!!! Later on, you’ll come across it again. It makes my spine shudder! It’s clever, gives a certain creepy tone of voice, rhymes and totally fits the plot, the title in an unexpected way. As I sit baking on a hot day, this book takes readers straight to the opposite – a deluge of rain and more rain and DI Jack Dylan is on the case to establish what happened at a domestic incident. He is lucky to have an understanding wife, when murder cases need to be taken priority. It makes interesting reading about how they got together and her personality too. There seems a real respect between Jack and Jen, which is nice to see in such a story.

There’s a murder committed and it doesn’t take long for DI Dylan and his team to be on the case. Readers are taken to possible crime scenes and meet some of the deceased neighbours. The people who make up the police force are likeable, especially as there is a sense of responsibility and care in how they break the news of a murder to the victim’s family. There’s also great insight to family liaison officers, in this book, it’s in the form of PC Bullock.

This is expertly woven together, this novel has a real sense of place, a few spots of humour, atmosphere and of course, murder. It’s a police procedural you can really relax into and will feed curious minds very well, indeed!

As the case goes on, there are real insights into crime scenes, such as some turns of phrases to describe certain looks, which adds richness. The authors really have used their wealth of knowledge and experience for creating a story that is both interesting and compelling, including a few historical facts here and there about the ways and means of how the victim was killed, right to the forensics, without being heavy in any area.

Aside from crime scenes, there’s other panic setting in that’s closer to home for Jen, which causes some heartache and will give any reader cause to sympathise and hope things are well again soon. It’s mixed in well with the excitement that ensues of Operation Walnut. It shows how both policing and having a family are both full on at times and collide. There is also Operation Saturn and twists and turns and more than meets the eye as more bodies appear, so the force are busier than they thought they would be, then it also gets intriguing as the psychology of suspects is delved into.

This is the first book I’ve read, but if the rest of the series is so detailed, tightly plotted, then I could certainly imagine it being a tv series.

About the Author

RC Bridgestock is the name that husband and wife co-authors Robert (Bob) and Carol Bridgestock write under. Between them they have nearly 50 years of police experience, offering an authentic edge to their stories. The writing duo created the character DI Jack Dylan, a down-to- earth detective, written with warmth and humour. The ninth book in the series, the prequel ‘Poetic Justice’ will be published by The Dome Press in 2019, along with fully revised editions of their backlist.

The first book in a further crime series has been scripted by the pair which has a strong, Yorkshire female character Charley Mann, at the helm, and book two is being penned at this moment in time along with two stand a lone crime thrillers.

Bob was a highly commended career detective of 30 years, retiring at the rank of Detective Superintendent. During his last three years he took charge of 26 murders, 23 major incidents, over 50 suspicious deaths and numerous sexual assaults. He was also a trained hostage negotiator dealing with suicide interventions, kidnap, terrorism and extortion. As a Detective Inspector he spent three years at the internationally acclaimed West Yorkshire Police Force Training School where he taught Detectives from all over the world in the whole spectrum of investigative skills and the law. On promotion to Detective Superintendent Bob was seconded to a protracted enquiry investigating alleged police corruption in another force. He worked on the Yorkshire Ripper and Sarah Harper murder, and received praise from Crown Court Judges and Chief Constables alike for outstanding work at all ranks, including winning the much coveted Dennis Hoban Trophy.

As a police civilian supervisor Carol also received a Chief Constable’s commendation for outstanding work.

The couple are the storyline police procedural/storyline consultants on BAFTA winning BBC1 police drama Happy Valley, series 3 of ITV’s Scott & Bailey and Britbox original The Beast Must Die. The couple are presently working with Scott Free Productions/Regency as scriptwriters on a further TV drama series.

Carol & Bob are co owners of Walking The Line.

Walking The Line is a brand new TV consultancy company based in West Yorkshire, primarily specialising in crime, founded by Bob & Carol Bridgestock and Sarah Jarvis.
With nearly 50 years police experience between them, husband and wife team Carol & Bob Bridgestock have used their knowledge to
become best selling crime authors. With 12 books in two Yorkshire crime fiction series, and were voted by WHS Readers #8 Best Crime Authors of All Time. The couple are mentors, as well as script to screen police procedural and storyline consultants, for the likes of BAFTA winning BBC1 police drama Happy Valley, Scott & Bailey, and the first original five part drama for Britbox ‘The Beast Must Die’ 2021, amongst others.
Sarah Jarvis founded a TV commercial production company in Manchester in 1997 which she successfully ran for over 20 years. A TV
Commercial Producer by trade, Sarah runs her own Production Consultancy C-SAJ, works as a consultant for S.Media UK and also co-runs WTL working as an Access Producer to police, fire service, victims of crime as well as having a keen nose for seeking out new talent, and great ideas.
Due to the background of the founders, they have a wealth of resources, and profession- als from which to draw upon, this new company is much in demand by production companies, authors, actors, scriptwriters etc. who are passionate about getting the facts, and tone right in their work.
Together we are Walking the Line.

Carol started and chaired the Wight Fair Writers’ Circle in 2008, along with Bob where the group created an annual charitable community writing competition to inspire others of all ages. This event has raised over ten thousand of pounds for Island charities, so far.

The couple pride themselves on being up-to-date on past and present day UK police procedures, and as a result Bob is regularly sought by UK television, radio and national and local newspapers for comment on developing major crime incidents etc.

# Voted by WHS Readers #8 Best Crime Authors of All Time.
# CBS Reality – Written In Blood – 1st series 2018 – 2nd most watched Episode 7.
# Radio 4 (Steve) PUNT P.I. – series 7 – Episode 1 – 2014.
‘The Mysterious Death of Flying Millionaire Alfred Lowenstein.’
# Long list – CWA Dagger In The Library 2016
# Nominated in the Yorkshire Choice Awards 2017 #YCA17
# Nominated in the Yorkshire Choice Awards 2019 #YCA19

Together the couple can be regularly seen as speakers at a variety of events in the literary world and work with colleges and schools in providing writing seminars and workshops.
They also work with International TV/Film make-up artist Pamela Clare, to help inspire the students at the White Rose Colleges.

Eight annual RC Bridgestock trophies are annually awarded to students.

Carol and Bob are also patrons and ambassadors for several charities.

#BookReview by Lou The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness by Laura Bambrey @LauraBambrey @simonschusterUK@BookMinxSJV #TeamBACT #Fiction #ContemporaryFiction #WomensFiction

The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness
By Laura Bambrey

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is an absolutely incredible book that will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions through a farmland retreat, all the way to a huge and unexpected twist that I honestly did not see coming…
I am finding it hard to sleep at nights… oh, not just because of the heat, but because this book is too hard to put down. It’s a Must Read in my opinion.
Find out more in the blurb and more about my thoughts in my full review below.

The Beginners Guide to Loneliness

Blurb

The perfect feel-good read from an exciting new voice in women’s fiction, for fans of Heidi Swain, Cathy Bramley and Jenny Colgan.
 
Tori Williamson is alone. After a tragic event left her isolated from her loved ones, she’s been struggling to find her way back to, well – herself. That’s why she set up her blog, The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness, as a way of – anonymously – connecting with the outside world and reaching others who just need a little help sometimes.
 
When she’s offered a free spot on a wellbeing retreat in exchange for a review on her blog, Tori is anxious about opening herself up to new surroundings. But after her three closest friends – who she talks to online but has never actually met – convince her it’ll do her some good, she reluctantly agrees and heads off for three weeks in the wild (well, a farm in Wales).
 
From the moment she arrives, Tori is sceptical and quickly finds herself drawn to fellow sceptic Than, the retreat’s dark and mysterious latecomer. But as the beauty of The Farm slowly comes to light she realizes that opening herself up might not be the worst thing. And sharing a yurt with fellow retreater Bay definitely isn’t.  Will the retreat be able to fix Tori? Or will she finally learn that being lonely doesn’t mean she’s broken . . .
 
Welcome to The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness! Where you can learn to move mountains by picking up the smallest of stones…

Review

Loneliness is on the rise, so it is said, not just in the elderly, but in all younger age groups too. It is also perhaps quite apt as the main character – Tori, is off to a farm she has been invited to review for her blog, and that’s exactly what I am doing as I sit in the hot sun, in my garden, with a farm behind me, is writing a review of the book for my blog, for all you readers out there.

The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness is a group set up to conquer, exactly that and to make new friends, some of the main people being Tori, Nathalie and Sue and they chat sometimes in the specially created chatroom for the group, so occassionaly readers will see that format in the book.

Some of the humour comes from Tori’s reactions to travelling on a beaten old track in a beaten, well-worn LandRover, as she was expecting grander things. It’s all in the way it is written…

The book has everything in it, friendships, anxieties, relieving anxieties, perfection v imperfection, grief, and one huge theme that is so important, but I won’t say as it will spoil the story, but will leave you absolutely gobsmacked! I never say that about a theme in a book, but, for this, it had to be said.

On the farm she meets Lizzie and Ted, who are using the farm to run a wellbeing retreat and where a small group of guests are affectionately known as “Beardy Weirdies” and are rather more enthused than Tori, who of course has to participate if she has any hope of writing a review. She does however, get right into the retreat, jangling nerves of what she’s got herself into and all.

Each new chapter has a little snippet about loneliness and anxieties and life, in a retreat/wellbeing style way, almost like affirmations, but with useful and thought-provoking tips that are practical for anyone’s everyday life, before it takes readers back into the fictional story. In some parts, it is a relaxed read, but in others it is intense, in a way that goes with the book’s setting and themes.  Time just flies by and I’m sure many a reader will get themselves lost down on the farm for awhile as it oozes with escapism. There is also an absolute rollercoaster of emotions throughout this, all of which are completely and utterly absorbing.

Readers really are taken into the heart of the retreat, what happens in one, from therapeutic talking to mindfulness and much more, all given in different sessions (although each will be different, this gives a great example) and how people can be and feel within them and the release of their inner secrets and inner truths to overcome their fears etc in the confines of the retreat.

It’s pretty hard to put down and a residue of the book is left behind within you when it is finished as it is hard not to think about it, even though that last page has been read.

#BookReview by Lou – The Lock In by Phoebe Lockhurst #PhoebeLockhurst @MichaelJBooks #Summer #ContemporaryFiction #Humour #RomanticFiction

The Lock In
By Phoebe Lockhurst
Rated *****

The Lock In is so humourous, so it is one that will lift people’s spirits. 

You’ve heard of a locked room mystery, now get ready for a locked room love story! You can order one of the funniest, most original rom-com of 2021. Thanks to publishers Michael Joseph for gifting me the copy in exchange of an honest review.

About the Author

Phoebe Luckhurst is a journalist and author, who has written for publications including the Evening Standard, ES Magazine, ELLE, Grazia, Sunday Times Style, Guardian, Telegraph and Grazia. The Lock In is her first novel, and she is currently writing her second.

The Lock In
Blurb

Meet housemates Ellen, Alexa and Jack. They’re broke. They’re lonely. They’re hungover. And things are about to go from bad to worse . . .

Whilst nursing The Hangover from Hell, Ellen stumbles downstairs to discover the kitchen slowly filling with water.

Panic quickly sets in, and the three flatmates find themselves in the attic desperately attempting to switch off the water supply. But when Ben, Alexa’s Hinge date from the night before, walks in, the door slams, the handle breaks, and all four of them are trapped.

As the long hours tick by, Ellen nurses her sore head whilst Ben and Alexa really get to know each other, and Jack plans an unorthodox rescue mission.

But soon Ellen wonders if Ben really is a stranger after all. She is sure she knows him from somewhere . . .

Will these housemates ever get out of this attic? Will they survive the wrath of Elias The Evil Landlord? And will Jack please stop live-tweeting this whole fiasco?

Welcome to The Lock In.

This is a hilarious story of housemates and hangovers and friendship and dating as four twenty-somethings discover what The Worst morning-after-the-night-before really looks like . . .

Fans of Dolly Alderton, Beth O’Leary and Mhairi McFarlane will LOVE this oh-so relatable tale of love, landlords and what can happen behind locked doors

Review

A flat and a landlord from hell is a fabulously fresh predicament to find flatmates in, that is full of warmth of friendship and is laugh-out-loud funny!
A dead mouse and flooding flat due to a sink issue is what Ellen, Alexa, Jack and Ben have to deal with in the morning and then matters go from bad to worse and they end up locked in as a door handle falls off. It’s like a comedy of flat errors. One one hand you can’t help but feel sorry for the characters and on the other-hand because of the way it is skillfully written, it’s all rather funny. There’s also a lesson in there to always have your phone on you and with a high amount of battery charge… They find themselves desperate, which makes it more funny as they try to come up with a plan as to how to get out.

The night before the flatmates are locked in, there is romance in the air and all, right down to the furniture, captures 20-somethings flat-sharing very well. The format of each chapter being named after a character is great as readers get to see their point of views and into their lives, before being locked-in together and during that time.
It is by and large a highly entertaining read that, as it goes on, you can’t help but read on and on, quite wide-eyed at some of it, wondering what can possibly be coming next and how on earth they are going to get out and when. The twists and turns and lengths the flatmates go to is laugh out loud funny.
What is also fun is, not just getting to know the characters, but some of the conversations that go on when locked in.

It’s perfect for reading with, perhaps a glass of wine or a cup of tea, curled up on the sofa or in the bath after a busy day and you just need some pure escapism.

#BookReview by Lou of #Damage by Caitlin Wahrer @CaitlinWahrer @JenLovesReadin #Thriller

Damage
By Caitlin Wahrer

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Damage is compelling and one that grips from the very start. Thanks to Penguin Random House for gifting me a copy to review. Read on to discover the blurb and my review below.

Damage

Blurb

Sometimes, the true story is the hardest to believe.

TONY has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick. So when Nick is badly hurt and it looks like he was the victim of sexual assault, Tony’s anger flares.

JULIA is alarmed by her husband Tony’s obsession with Nick’s case. She’s always known Tony has a temper. But does she really know what he’s capable of?

NICK went out for a drink. After that, everything’s a blank. When he woke up he found himself in a world of confusion and pain, and the man who hurt him doesn’t deny doing it. But he says the whole thing was consensual.

Three ordinary people; one life-shattering event. When the police get involved with this family in crisis, all the cracks will start to show…

Set to ignite debate and as gripping as your favourite box-set, Damage is a compulsive drama from an extraordinary new writer.

Review

Chilling, atmospheric, visceral, emotional and absolutely grips from the start! It’ll make you take a sharp in-take of breath!

Set between 2019 and 2015; Detective John Rice is on the case and Nick is the victim of a sexual assault. Tony Hall is his brother, who along with his wife, Julia want to protect him. Tony and Julia have their relationship issues and what’s happened to Nick furthers that stress.

This in a way tells an important story with a deep subject matter – it shows a young man being sexually assaulted and both brothers being damaged, not just by this, but the book also hints at the sort of man their father is. It shows their raw emotion and reaction, which is so heartrendering. This is all handled with realism and sensitivity, especially when it comes to Nick meeting Lisa who questions him. It’s a very moving book with the way the characters interact with each other and how they are affected by the secrets that spiral through the book.

The level of high intensity is consistent throughout the book. As much as it is an emotionally affecting read, it is powerful and so much so, it’s quite hard to put down. It magically draws the attention in, even though the subject matters within it are hard ones. 

There are twists and turns as a result of so much damage being caused to people, that are deeper and darker than expected and that grip ferociously to the very end as the effects are huge and cause behaviours to spiral out of control.

Buy Links

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#BookRevew by Lou – Dead Secret by Noelle Holten @nholten40 @0neMoreChapter @BOTBSPublicity #CrimeFiction #DeadSecret #DCMaggieJamiesonNovel

There are psychopaths within Dead Secret, the latest in this series by Noelle Holten. Such a case to solve and so many secrets to uncover along the way, that keeps you guessing. Readers are in for a treat, all be it, a dark twisted one… Today I have the priviledge of kicking off the blog tour, thanks to BOTBSPublicity and One More Chapter for inviting me and for gifting me a book.
Find out more in the blurb and review…

Dead Secret Banner

Blurb

Dead Secret coverPsychopaths can take root in the unlikeliest soil…

DC Maggie Jamieson crosses paths once again with Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood when a domestic violence survivor stumbles into her new refuge, unable to speak, desperate for help.

Then another case hits Maggie’s desk. A young man has been murdered, and a curious constellation of black dots has been inked onto his cheek.

That’s when DCI Hastings goes missing and Maggie uncovers a shocking connection that turns the case on its head.

Every family may hide secrets, but not every family buries them…

Review

This is a twisty and authentic book, as are all the books in this series. Dead Secret is compelling to say the least and psychopath’s are indeed on the loose.

DCI Hastings and his family are missing and a young man has been murdered, meaning DCI Maggie Jamieson has a lot of ground to cover to work out what is going on, not to mention the domestic violence survivor, who Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood deals with at her refuge, so means their paths cross. It turns out it isn’t easy for the domestic violence survivor to speak up about what happened to her, which adds into the layers of believability, necessary for such a storyline.
With all this going on, their lives are busy enough, but then there’s also the press to deal with. DCI Maggie spars quite a bit with the journalists, especially Julia.

In the police station itself, it is interesting reading further into the relationships between the officers, how they communicate to each other and how some of the dynamics have now changed, which refreshes things a bit.

This book keeps you guessing what’s going to happen next and what the connections are in the people the police are dealing with. There are lots of acronyms, perhaps almost on the same scale as Line of Duty, but like that series, it’s easy to get a grasp of what they all mean, well, I find this anyway.

The book in all its aspects is expertly written and also feels very authentic. It is also gripping right up to and including the last chapter. There’s a very good pace and all the characters are pretty strong, but with vulnerabilities that creep in.

About the Author

Noelle HoltenNoelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog. Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

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