#Review by Lou – Waiting To Begin by Amanda Prowse @MrsAmandaProwse @rararesources #ContemporaryFiction #BookReview

Waiting To Begin
By Amanda Prowse

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Waiting To Begin is an excellent book about families and relationships and how you can work life out in your teens and for there to be fundamental twists and turns from then, into adulthood. It is also even better than I thought it would be and so quick to become totally absorbed in.
Thanks to Rachel Random Resources for inviting me to review and to Amanda Prowse for gifting me a signed copy of the book. *My review is not influenced by this.
Discover the blurb and my review below and a bit about the author – Amanda Prowse.

Waiting To Begin banner

Blurb

From the bestselling author of The Girl in the Corner comes a story that asks: what would you risk for a shot at happiness?

  1. Bessie is a confident sixteen-year-old girl with the world at her feet, dreaming of what life will bring and what she’ll bring to this life. Then everything comes crashing down. Her bright and trusting smile is lost, banished by shame—and a secret she’ll carry with her for the rest of her life.
  2. The last thirty-seven years have not been easy for Bess. At fifty-three she is visibly weary, and her marriage to Mario is in tatters. Watching her son in newlywed bliss—the hope, the trust, the joy—Bess knows it is time to face her own demons, and try to save her relationship. But she’ll have to throw off the burden of shame if she is to honour that sixteen-year-old girl whose dreams lie frozen in time.

Can Bess face her past, finally come clean to Mario, and claim the love she has longed to fully experience all these years?

Waiting to Begin - Hi Res Book Cover

Review

Waiting To Begin is an apt title as the book goes from 1984 and jumps smoothly to 2021 and it is like Bessie’s life is waiting to begin in a way that is happy, in this emotional and pulls at the heartstrings. It is a beautifully written book about life in your teens and adulthood and relationships. It reels you in so much that it is practically impossible to put down. The main protagonist – Bessie is so easy to root for in both 1984 and 2021, no matter what life throws at her, whether its a bit of light humour or a hard time.

Bessie, in 1984 has dreams and ambitions at 16, nothing outlandish, just average, which is one of the reasons why this book is relatable. She wants to pass her exams and be an air-hostess. She likes music and hanging out with best friend – Michelle. Just as things are seeming bright and breezy, everything changes and what seems like a sunny outlook, turns as bleak as gathering storm clouds in grades, future prospects and friendships.

In 2021, she is married to Mario and is 37 years old. It is easy to will her on and to do well and find happiness in life, but those 1984 storm clouds are a bit more ferocious as life starts to tumble some more as even adult life presents its challenges and 1984 seems more than a lifetime away. One wrongly interpreted text to Mario one day, sends him into a rage and, as the reasoning for sending the text, which was perhaps ill-conceived, OTT reaction of Mario shows his true manner and more revelations tumble out about the state of their marriage, creates a sharp intake of breath. Loss, secrets and the complexities of relationships within marriages and wider families and friends and life is explored with aplomb within “Waiting To Begin”, with the twists and turns that life presents through the dark and light times and a great supporting cast that pull together a roundedness of this rich story of a not so easy life. It depicts well how life isn’t always like a straight line or as easy as getting from A to B and yet there is a sense of resillience that weaves through.

 It’s a book that I sailed through, captured in Bessie’s life and before I knew it, I had reached the end!

Purchase Linkhttp://bit.ly/WaitingToBegin_UK

About the Author

Amanda Prowse Jacket Shot Colour 6.9MB[2] (1)Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author whose twenty seven novels and seven novellas have been published in dozens of languages around the world. Published by Lake Union, Amanda is the most prolific writer of bestselling contemporary fiction in the UK today; her titles also consistently score the highest online review approval ratings across several genres. Her books, including the chart topping No.1 titles ‘What Have I Done?’, ‘Perfect Daughter’, ‘My Husband’s Wife’, ‘The Girl in the Corner’, ‘The Things I Know’ and ‘The Day She Came Back’ have sold millions of copies across the globe.

A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda is a regular panellist on Channel 5’s ‘The Jeremy Vine Show’ and numerous daytime ITV programmes. She also makes countless guest appearances on BBC national independent Radio stations including LBC and Talk FM, where she is well known for her insightful observations and her infectious humour. Described by the Daily Mail as ‘The queen of family drama’ Amanda’s novel, ‘A Mother’s Story’ won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the year Award while ‘Perfect Daughter’ was selected as a World Book Night title in 2016.

Amanda’s ambition is to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can’t possibly read another book until the memory fades…

 

Advertisement

#BookReview by Lou – The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan @Phoebe_A_Morgan @HQstories #TheWildGirls #Thriller

The Wild Girls
By Pheobe Morgan

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once started, I had so much fun reading The Wild Girls. It is entertainment with trepidation, intriguing notes, travel and terrific energy within those pages in this stand-alone book, that will keep you hooked into this thriller until the end. It’s a luxury retreat at a safari and birthday party with a difference.

Thanks to HQ Stories for gifting me the book.

Find out more about it in the blurb and then read onto my full review and find the praise, website and  buy links too.

The Wild Girls

Blurb

FOUR FRIENDS.
A LUXURY RETREAT.
IT’S GOING TO BE MURDER.

In a luxury lodge on Botswana’s sun-soaked plains, four friends reunite for a birthday celebration…

THE BIRTHDAY GIRL
Has it all, but chose love over her friends…

THE TEACHER
Feels the walls of her flat and classroom closing in…

THE MOTHER
Loves her baby, but desperately needs a break…

THE INTROVERT
Yearns for adventure after suffering for too long…

Arriving at the safari lodge, a feeling of unease settles over them. There’s no sign of the party that was promised. There’s no phone signal. They’re alone, in the wild.

THE HUNT IS ON.

Review

The Wild GirlsThe writing is dramatic and carries a terrific energy, even when it is something as simple as a letter dropping through a letterbox!

It’s entertaining, finding out about the lives of Grace, Alice and Hannah the sub-characters ( the main characters, as seems to be a style, which I have grown to like more, have parts of chapters to themselves). There is also quite an introduction of the characters, leading up to the first chapter. There’s Grace, who recieves an invitation to Felicity’s birthday in Botswana; Alice (and Tom) who appears to be having financial issues; Hannah (and Chris), who have a young family. These are The Wild Girls!

It has much intrigue surrounding Felicity’s invitation. There is more than meets the eye to it and it isn’t as simple as an invite and that isn’t just the location, this involves how it insinuates how relationships between The Wild Girls have been, prior to this, which is said within the book.

Deception Valley Lodge Complex adds an unexpected twist to the accomodation in the gorgeous setting of Botswana, with the African plains, wildlife and Limpopo River, not least as to how it is all set-up and there are messages abound from Felicity, which add mystery and intrigue. There are notes and messages abound from the birthday girl, but the book becomes twisty and has an unexpected sinister and feel with tension and mystery building about the birthday. This is a book with many surprises within it. It has a feel of Agatha Christie’s – “And Then There Were None” in a sense, as people’s feelings, insecurities and life stories start to tumble out and somone vital is missing, so the hunt is on to find out what is going on as it turns out the birthday party gathering isn’t all as is seems and far from what the guests were expecting.

Part Two has many revelations and set before Botswana. This is more deftly done than expected as it is as interesting as Part One and pieces things together. It is cleverly written and writing it this way round works very well and flows incredibly well from what went on previously in the first part. It’s a chance to see the characters outwith Botswana and how they interacted with each other then. Part way through, I was hoping for at least a part 3 and it came and plunged the characters to their present time in Botswana and the pace picks up again and the tension builds another notch and it is breath-taking or gasping in the darkest way, which may also make your spine be chilled to the bone as the biggest and deepest revelation of them all comes out.

In a world where foreign holidays are a bit off the cards just now, this book does well in replacing that travel in its vibrancy and the wonderful premise of a birthday party.

Praise for The Wild Girls:

‘Combines a beautiful, exotic location with a slithering, unsettling sense of suspense. A page-turner, full of secrets and reveals’ Adele Parks, Platinum

‘A delightfully sinister tale’ Crime Monthly

‘Tense, well-paced and with a cast of relatable flesh-and-blood women, The Wild Girls is an exhilarating, read-in-one-sitting ride’ Louise Candlish

Links and Buy Links

The Wild Girls 

Phoebe Morgan’s Website

Waterstones

Bookshop.org

Amazon

#Interview by Lou with Backstories Author – Simon Van Der Velde @SimonVdVwriter #ShortStories #Backstories #Charities

Interview with Simon Van Der Velde
Author of Backstories

Today I welcome Bestselling author – Simon Van Der Velde, whose new book, is Backstories for a Q&A session. It is already becoming a success story in itself for this debut short-story teller with his book rapidly reaching Amazon no 1 bestseller – for lit shorts new releases. The book is available now.
What a priveledge to be able to interview him.

Backstories
is a highly original collection of 14 intimate short stories about famous and infamous people who you may know. These tell their stories, fictionalised, but with enough fact so you, the reader, can guess who the narrator is. I rated it 5 stars and was hooked into each story from beginning to end.

You can find out more  Here First, check out what he has to say in his interview/Q&A session with me as we talk about Backstories, Writing, Desert Island Books and Music and Emerging From Lockdown. You can also find buy and social media links and the charities this book supports at the end.

Backstories

What or who inspired you to write short stories and do you have a particular routine to your writing day?

There were always books in our house, so I guess writing is an ambition that goes right back to childhood.  I do love novels too, but sometimes I feel there’s greater power and truth in the shorter form.

Backstories (2)The best ideas come in that fuzzy place between wake and sleep.  Ideally, I roll out of bed and start writing – often in my ‘office kimono’, with those ideas still fresh in my mind.

You are clearly fascinated in the human soul and bearing all, what inspired you to delve into the deeper and sometimes darker corners of life to create your characters?

I’m not much use at parties.  I find the superficial boring. Give me the truth every time.

You have a particular writing style and don’t let on too easily who the narrator is of each of the stories. Was there a particular reason or inspiration for this?

The longer I write, the more I see that a story is a collaboration between reader and writer.  Readers aren’t interested in writers showing off how clever they are, readers want to be engaged – to be an active part of the process, and in Backstories they absolutely are.  Let’s call it an interactive reading experience.

What was your favourite short story in this collection to write and why?

I love the Guitar which was the inspiration for the collection – and Past Time and Jive Talkin – but in the end I think All Over Now is my favourite, probably because it was hell to write and rewrite and throw away and start again over and over and over, but in the end I really feel I did the character justice – and at is what I aim to do – to do justice to these great men and women – and give a human insight into the bad guys too.

In couple of sentences, how would you describe your book?

Let’s call it an interactive reading experience – or as someone said – the thinking person’s masked singer.  Certainly, I’d say it’s the most original book of the year.

Music notesWhat are your top 3 Desert Island books and music?

Waiting for the Barbarians, The Heart of The Matter –
and for music – Springsteen’s Thunder Road
                                 gets me every time

What is your next writing venture?

Backstories II, Backstories Musicians, Backstories Leaders.pen and paper pic

And last question, because let’s face it, it’s hard to avoid…. What is the main thing you are looking forward to getting back to, when it is safe to do so?

A few glasses of decent whisky with friends

Thank you very much to Simon Van Der Velde for giving me the opportunity to interview. It was a pleasure having you on my blog.

Buy and Social Media Links

This book is dedicated to the victims of violent crime, the struggle against discrimination in all its forms and making the world a better place for our children. That is why 30% of all profits will be shared between Stop Hate UK, The North East Autism Society and Friends of the Earth.

Amazon – Backstories              Audible

Goodreads-Backstories   

BookBub-Backstories

http://www.simonvandervelde.com/

#Review by Lou of Toksvig’s Almanac by Sandi Toksvig @sanditoksvig @HatchetteBooks @TrapezeBooks #HatchetteAudio

Toksvig’s Almanac
By Sandi Toksvig

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Interesting, fun and purely wonderful in style, Tolksvig’s Almanac is the book that will entertain and take you to corners of facts that you may never come across otherwise. Written and narrated in her own unique style, it’s all fascinating for the brain. If you like QI or Chain of Curiosity, or humour within your history, this is one to check out, in fact a Must Have to add to your collection. Wit, Substance and Facts are all brought to the page in an absolutely marvellous, unique, eclectic, quirky style. It will have you intrigued and have you laughing too as you meander through each month. It is perfect for either listening to all at once or to dip in and out of. It’s such a joy to listen to and it would be to read as well. It is all pitched perfectly. This is one of those  times I’ll say this is a Must Have Book or Audiobook for your shelves.

I’ve read most of Sandi Toksvig’s books – fiction and non-fiction and they never cease to amaze and I have adored her fiction and non-fiction books, ever since Whistling For The Elephant’s was published and read many more since, so I was curious and I loved this too. Thank you so much to Hatchette, Trapeze, Orion Books for accepting my request to review the audiobook version.

The book is available now and I have a link after the rest of my review below…

Toksvigs Almanac Cover

Blurb

Toksvig’s Almanac is intended merely as a starting point for your own discoveries. Find a fabulous (or infamous) woman mentioned and, please, go looking for more of her story. The names mentioned are merely temptations. Amuse-bouches for the mind, if you like. How I would have loved to have written out in detail each tale there is to be told, but then this book would have been too heavy to lift.’

Let Sandi Toksvig guide you on an eclectic meander through the calendar, illuminating neglected corners of history to tell tales of the fascinating figures you didn’t learn about at school.

From revolutionary women to serial killers, pirate nuns to pioneering civil rights activists, doctors to dancing girls, artists to astronauts, these pages commemorate women from all around the world who were pushed to the margins of historical record. Amuse your bouche with:

Belle Star, American Bandit Queen
Lady Murasaki, author of the world’s first novel
Madame Ching, the most successful pirate of all time
Maud Wagner, the first female tattoo artist
Begum Samru, Indian dancer and ruler who led an army of mercenaries    Inês de Castro, crowned Queen Consort of Portugal six years after her death
Ida B. Wells, activist, suffragist, journalist and co-founder of the NAACP   
Eleanor G. Holm, disqualified from the 1936 Berlin Olympics for drinking too much champagne

These stories are interspersed with helpful tips for the year, such as the month in which one is most likely to be eaten by a wolf, and the best time to sharpen your sickle. Explore a host of annual events worth travelling for, from the Olney Pancake Race in Wiltshire to the Danish Herring Festival, or who would want to miss Serbia’s World Testicle Cooking Championship?

As witty and entertaining as it is instructive, Toksvig’s Almanac is an essential companion to each day of the year.

Review

Toksvigs Almanac CoverSandi Toksvig takes you through many facts, philosophies and into corners you may not realise existed before as she meanders through each month of the year. Sure, you’d have heard of the main themes, but she delves into areas, rarely talked about. Sounds serious, but fear not, this is historical fact and humour spun together and also relates back to present times too.
There is much to learn and is well researched, written and (narrated for audiobook, which I listened to), in her own wonderful style that is unique to her and thank goodness for that! Sandi Toksvig makes everything sound very interesting and hooks you in. She adds a bit of her own personal analogies, thoughts and tips that readers/listeners may never have thought of otherwise…

She talks of extraordinary women, some who have achieved many great things, but also those who have committed crimes. There are so many different accounts that is interesting to dip and out of. She encourages people to use this as a starting point and then go off and perhaps look up more info yourself. Sandi Toksvig’s curiosity is also infectious. Her thirst for knowledge is impressive as is her research. All perfectly pitched, it is a Must Have on your reading or listening to lists.

Buy Link: Waterstones   Amazon

 

#Review by Lou – Journey to New Salem by Mark Rosendorf @markrosendorf #YA #Fantasy #Witches #Friendships #Magic …

Journey to New Salem
By Mark Rosendorf

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The second book in this series whisks readers off to New Salem, where there are some familiar and new characters. Witches, Magic, Vampires, Romance, Friendship, Teamwork, Portals, Trepedation and Teen Spirit… This book is packed full with it all in a quest to save one of the characters in this compelling, page-turning fantasy/realism book that I feel is sure to grab young-adults/teenagers attention. It is worth a read. How far too, would you go for a friend?
The first book was a very good read and encompass themes relevant for Young Adults and written very well, so I am delighted to be asked to review again by the author – Mark Rosendorf.
Find out more below in the blurb and the rest of my review and also discover buy links and a link to Book 1 after that….. The book is available in paperback and e-book formats.

About the Author

MarkMark Rosendorf is a High School Guidance Counselor for students in the New York City Department of Education’s special education district. He is also a former professional magician. Mark shares his knowledge of magic with his students as part of the school’s Performing Arts program.

Mark is also credited with published novels in various genres including The Rasner Effect series. He eventually decided on an early retirement from writing. When asked why, Mark’s usual answer was because he lost his favorite pen.

Then, one night, at two a.m., a new and unique story shot into his brain like a lightning bolt, screaming for him to write it.  Suddenly, despite the decision to never write again, Mark found himself spending several nights taking notes on the characters and their stories. That is how The Witches of Vegas, Mark’s first young adult story, was born.

 

New Salem cover

Blurb

A year has passed since The Witches of Vegas saved the city from the evil Wiccan vampire, Valeria. Since then, the show has hit an all-time high. So has the romance between teen witch Isis Rivera and teenage magician, Zack Galloway. Things couldn’t be any better for them until Isis develops seizures that cause her power to spiral out of control. Fires and earthquakes are just the beginning of the chaos caused by the misfired witchcraft. Unable to find a cure, Isis’ family journeys to New Salem, a fabled village of witches which may or may not even exist. Meanwhile, Zack ends up face to face with the only being who may have a cure…Valeria. But does he dare pay her price?

Review

Jasper has premonitions in some of his dreams/nightmares and a night spent with his other-half, Tia saw some more….
The book then moves to the first chapter and onto The Witches of Vegas – a unique magic show as the witches are real and have Wiccan powers. Isis Quinn-Santell, fomerly Isis Flores Rivera is one of them, who readers can follow in her life in the book.

The book has themes which are perfect for the young-adult/teen market. There’s fantasy (magic and teleportation) mixed through the real world, romance, life, all manner of emotions and growing-up.
The romance between Isis and Zack is beautifully written. There is great humour within this relationship, surrounding a small issue of fire…

The time-travelling to the 1990’s is a bit of fun and is a great addition for letting the younger generations gain some knowledge of this decade. It shows books, even fantasy books can be vital in, as well as providing an enjoyable story, they also provide and add to knowledge and increasing a well-rounded education, vital for quizzes and for knowing and understanding the world. 

There’s trepidation as Isis isn’t feeling her usual self and Zack needs to summon Selena and Sebastian to help with their Wiccan powers. As she lies in hospital things become complicated for Isis and how to hide her true witchy identity and the others need to help, but run into problems here and there with teleporting as other forces may also be at play. The author does this well and builds some mild tension up.

Politics in some form also come to play as Isis meets Tia – the president in New Salem, nothing heavy, which is a good call, so it doesn’t jar the story. There’s also some interesting theories about vampires and readers can find out about Valeria as the quest to get Isis back to health continues, where the tension ramps up another gear as the Witches of Vegas are characters that are easy to want to do well and succeed.

This is a book that young adults can easily escape into. It’s compelling to the end!

Links

Amazon          Waterstones     Review of Book 1 – Witches of Vegas