#Review by Lou – Everyone Is Still Alive By Cathy Rentzenbrink @CathRentzenbrink @Phoenix_Bks @RandomTTours

Everyone Is Still Alive
By Cathy Rentzenbrink

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Everyone is Still Alive is a moving, well-observed story about parenthood and more… It has wit and challenges and certain aspects made me think of hit tv show Motherland in someways.
Thanks to Phoenix Books for gifting me with the book and to Random T Tours for organising this and inviting me to review

Find out more in the blurb and my review below.

Everyone Graphic

About the Author

Cathy Rentzenbrink Author PicCathy Rentzenbrink grew up in Yorkshire, spent many years in London, and now lives in Cornwall.
She is the SUNDAY TIMES bestselling author of THE LAST ACT OF LOVE, which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Prize, and the acclaimed memoirs A MANUAL FOR HEARTACHE and DEAR READER. EVERYONE IS STILL ALIVE is her first novel.



Everyone Is Still Alive CoverThe wise, witty and moving debut novel from SUNDAY TIMES bestselling author Cathy Rentzenbrink
– exploring the deeper reality of marriage, parenthood and the way life thwarts our expectations.
It is summer on Magnolia Road when Juliet moves into her late mother’s house with her husband Liam and their young son, Charlie. Preoccupied by guilt, grief and the juggle of working motherhood, she
can’t imagine finding time to get to know the neighbouring families, let alone fitting in with them.
But for Liam, a writer, the morning coffees and after-school gatherings soon reveal the secret struggles, fears and rivalries playing out behind closed doors – all of which are going straight into his new novel . . .
Juliet tries to bury her unease and leave Liam to forge these new friendships. But when the rupture of a marriage sends ripples through the group, painful home truths are brought to light. And then, one sundrenched afternoon at a party, a single moment changes everything.
EVERYONE IS STILL ALIVE is the story of several families who live on the same suburban street, all
secretly struggling with the anxieties of the modern world whilst trying to maintain the illusion that
everything is fine. This is a novel about guilt, grief, working motherhood, the mental load, envy, fear and
status, but it’s also about love, friendship, community and how we figure out what really matters.


It has a striking beginning in the prologue, with what people worry about. Juliet and Liam are parents to Charlie and have just moved house and discover they live across from Brian and Jim, who kindly introduce themselves.

The book deals with death and grief in the family as Charlie’s gran’s died. It leads readers into very moving depicitions of a family trying to be okay and deal with it all, especially with a child and Charlie has his own concerns and how he views granny as having being more fun than mummy. It then shows Juliet making an effort as Charlie goes to his new school and existing parents making an effort and Juliet integrating into her new life on Magnolia Road. Readers then get to know a bit more about Helen and Dan and their children, Daisy and Freddie and how Freddie needs his fidget spinner and how his parents are wondering what’s going on with his behaviour and tantrums.
Everyone Is Still Alive shows a little about some of the difficulties with bonding at times, as well as the joy and the social occassions, work getting in the way, the compromises, the stuff that some parents feel obliged to be in, such as PTA meeting. It shows the whirlwind of parenting, whether still together or co-parenting, as Lucy and Bas are and the issues and feelings and questions that throws up about what they really want.

There’s also a sudden incident that occurs in Juliet’s family that is sure to also keep readers gripped as it’s a matter of life or death.

It’s an insightful book into different people’s lives, emotions, kindness, relationships. It may even have people looking at their own lives.

There’s humour, honesty and emotion and many situations that families get themselves into, which are well-observed. It also shows a resilience, which I think may interest many readers. I also think if you like Motherland on TV, you may like this book.

Readers will find “The Credits” at the back have a fascinating insight into just how many people work on a book to get it out there into the public sphere so people can read it.

#BookReview by Lou – The Art of Loving You by Amelia Henley @MsAmeliaHenley @HQstories #Fiction #Books #RomanticFiction

The Art of Loving You
By Amelia Henley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Art of Loving You is a love story in a complex, devastating situation, written beautifully and well observed.
Thanks to publisher HQ Stories for gifting me the book to review, especially since. Find out more in the blurb and my review.

The Art of Loving You


They were so in love . . .
And then life changed forever . . .
Will they find happiness again?

Libby and Jack are the happiest they’ve ever been. Thanks to their dear friend, eighty-year-old Sid, they’ve just bought their first house together, and it’s the beginning of the life they’ve always dreamed of.

But the universe has other plans for Libby and Jack and a devastating twist of fate shatters their world.

All of a sudden life is looking very different, and unlikely though it seems, might Sid be the one person who can help Libby and Jack move forward when what they loved the most has been lost?


The Art of Loving You starts with a pretty gripping beginning, during the prologue. Jack and Libby have a lovely life together and have a nice relationship with 80 year old Sid, who is in a carehome and is in contact with them by having Face to Face Time on the computer and he’s ready and willing to help them out in many ways. It’s all a very sweet, tender friendship that Libby and Jack have with Sid. Life was great and then there’s a horrific incident that happens to Jack. It is so sudden that you can’t help but wonder what happens next. You really feel for Libby, her pain and feel her time moving so slowly, this isn’t to say the book moves slowly, it does not. The pacing is spot on.

The Art of Loving You shows the turning upside down of life in a way that unfortunately may well resonate with some readers and other readers should pay attention to because what occurs, covers a serious subject.
So many emotions that come through this book that is written so beautifully, with intent and purpose.

The Art of Loving You is a love story, but not, as you can tell, a straightforward one. It has complexities within this relationship. Each one presents itself with such deep emotions, even to the point of playing the “What If game”. 

This is sad and heartwrenching and so well observed, but it also turns corners that brings a light and beauty to the situation of life, love, death. It’s such an absorbing book that will take readers through the whole gambit of emotions and leave you perhaps thinking “phew” and leaves a rather sombre, but satisfied feeling of it being a great book, but then, when you land on the very last page, it also leaves you wanting to give everyone a huge hug.

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#BookReview by Lou – A Ship of Shadows Adventure – Secrets of the Stars by Maria Kuzniar #ChildrensBook #MiddleGrade #SecretofTheStars #ShipOfShadows @cosyreads @puffinbooksuk @RandomTTours

A Ship of Shadows Adventure – Secrets of the Stars
by Maria Kuzniar

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Follow the Secrets of the Stars and hop aboard The Ship of Shadows in this riproaring, swashbuckling adventure, that is also about teamwork and friendship. This is the second in the series, the first is Ship of Shadows. So steer on down the blurb and review, not forgetting the magnificent cover that is sure to entice you in.
Thanks to Random Things Tours for inviting me to review on this blog tour and to Penguin for gifting me the book, in return of an honest review.

Secrets of the Stars 3D Book


Secret of StarsAdventure Fiction for Children (age 9 – 12 years)

Aleja and her fellow pirates are eager to embark on a new adventure to find the second piece of the missing magical map. But they soon find themselves panicking, bewildered by a series of confusing clues. And time is running out – fast.

When she starts experiencing strange visions, Aleja realizes that someone is trying to tell her something. But can this new knowledge be trusted? And what will it cost her to find out?

With the crew’s loyalties tested and more secrets to unlock than ever, Aleja must find a way to beat the clock and prove herself truly worthy of her place on the ship’s crew . . .


Catching up with this series and its main character – Aleja is a delight. Middlegrade/J2 readers, will enjoy being captured in such a sumptuous and rich adventure. There’s a terrific map at the start, showing Croatia, The Maldives, India, Lhasa, China, Shanghai and Melaka; which gives you a fair idea where this adventure will take intrepid young readers and Aleja alongside Frances, our explorers, who are on a mission, that isn’t without its dangers. It’s immersive and has an energy and enchantment that you may expect and desire from such an adveture.

It starts in Croatia at a great carnival that has colour and life about it. Readers first see Aleja being a fox for this, with Frances. There, looming, is The Ship of Shadows – a ship full of magic, embodies an air of mystery and captained by pirate – Captain Quint, who will stop at nothing.

The book also oozes with an air of mystery and excitement. There is also something mysterious happening to one of the explorers to do with shadows and hallucinations. There are strange puzzles to work out, to fathom and everyone has to work together to solve them and treasures to seek and to get themselves out of harms way.
There’s also the problem of time not being on their side and the formidable Pirate Lord and his vast crew to contend with, that adds to the trepidation.

There are other, perhaps more subtler and nonetheless important themes of friendship and empathy and some life challenges to overcome.

On a side note, it may make you want to eat cake by the sea.

Secrets of the Stars is even better than the first in the series, although that was needed to get everything established. There’s so much to feast your eyes upon and it is even more of a page turner. This is a series I highly recommend to collect and read as each book emerges from the depths of the sea and into your hands.

FINAL Secrets of the Stars BT Poster

#BookReview by Lou Home by Penny Parkes @CotswoldPenny @simonschusterUK @TeamBATC #Home #Fiction #ContemporaryFiction

By Penny Parkes

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Home is engrossing and warm as well as intriguing as you open each door in different parts of the country as you travel with Anna as she does her job and meet different people who own the homes in this intriguing, warm,’Must Read’ book that you may have to take with you through every door you go through as it’s so compelling to read.
Find out more in the blurb and more of my thoughts in my review and then a bit about the author.
Firstly, thanks to Books and the City – Simon and Schuster publishers for inviting me to review for the blog tour and for gifting me with the book that has many doors – Home. The book was published 8th July and is her 5th book. It is a standalone.

Home Cover Pic


‘Moving, hopeful and heartfelt… an ideal book group read’ AJ Pearce (who wrote Dear Mrs Bird, Yours Cheerfully)

A gripping and heartfelt story about overcoming the past and finding where you belong.

Anna Wilson travels the world as a professional housesitter – stepping into other people’s lives – caring for their homes, pets and sometimes even neighbours. Living vicariously.

But all Anna has ever really wanted is a home of her own – a proper one, filled with family and love and happy memories. If only she knew where to start.

Growing up in foster care, she always envied her friends their secure and carefree lives, their certainty and confidence. And, while those same friends may have become her family of choice, Anna is still stuck in that nomadic cycle, looking for answers, trying to find the courage to put down roots and find a place to call home.

Compelling, rich and evocative, Home is Anna’s journey to discovering that it isn’t where you settle down that matters, but the people you have around you when you do. 
Home Cover Pic


What an invitation to open every door just by opening a book. Who could resist to see who lives behind each one and where in the country these lovely doors are located.

The book takes readers to different parts of the country on a journey, which means arriving, stopping for a bit before moving on and meeting more and more new people. It adds to the excitement and intrigue of this book, which is all very interesting. It also shows a certain way of life and the trade-offs, the need for self-protection, a certain strenght and resilience as well as maturity and more in Anna’s character makeup.

Live life in 2019 in: Oxford, Dittisham, Bath, London, Chipping Norton
Have a past between 1998 and 2019 in: Swindon, Coventry, Oxford

The book begins in 2019 in Oxford she then moves onto Dittisham and then Bath. Some owners she meets, others she doesn’t. The properties often sound wonderful and the people she does meet, colourful and full of life. Anna is in-fact a house-sitter and also has another dream job she is meant to be working on.
Housesittin sounds an amazing responsibility and wonderful job and one I didn’t know existed. I am now thinking of exchanging my job to be a house-sitter, this book makes it sound so interesting. 

The book shows that housesitting isn’t a walk in the park, with not only the house to keep safe and clean, but also sometimes pets and the comings and goings of other people and the rules that are left to follow to the letter.

Anna and her friend Kate are also into books in a big way and have a sense of joviality about them as well as the seriousness of life and how not even friendships are easy . They are terrifically conceived characters, who  have a certain pull and you want to get to know. What’s also great are these characters try not to take anything for granted, including their lives, the scenery, the architecture, they just take it all in and are continually awe-inspired

The book also goes back to Anna’s childhood and the social workers she had as part of her care package and what a hotchpotch of people she had. It also shows her growing up, so as much as lots of the book is set in 2019, this gives an interesting back-story. She also, in this time meets her dad, so you get to know him a bit and what happened that she was in care and in university. All in all it is nice to see her life to progress to where she is now, in 2019. It’s also interesting to see why she is how she is.

All that travelling and meeting new characters kept me absolutely engrossed! It is easy to say that I highly recommend this book.

About the Author

Penny Parkes survived a convent education largely thanks to a ready supply of inappropriate novels and her passion for writing and languages.
She studied International Management in Bath and Germany, before gaining experience with the BBC. She then set up an independent film location agency and spent many happy years organising shoots for film, television and advertising – thereby ensuring that she was never short of travel opportunities, freelance writing projects or entertaining anecdotes.
Penny now lives in the Cotswolds with her husband, two children and an excitable dog with a fondness for Post-its.
She will often be found plotting epic train journeys through the Alps, baking gluten-free goodies or attempting to reach an elusive state of organisation.
In 2017, Penny won the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year Award. This is her fifth novel.
Follow Penny on Twitter and Instagram: @CotswoldPenny

Home Blog Tour graphic

#Audible #Bookreview by Lou of Hunter’s Chase by Val Penny @valeriepenny @darkstrokedark #ReadingBetweenTheLinesPR #SeanPia #CrimeFiction #ScottishNoir #TheEdinburghCrimeMysteries

Hunter’s Chase
By Val Penny
Narrated by Sean Pia

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I am excited to be on the blog tour for the Audible version of Hunter’s Chase by Val Penny. I will say it is also available in paperback. This is book 1 of a gripping series set in the darker corners of Edinburgh. She is said to be “up there with Ian Rankin”, I happen to agree. So, if you’re an Ian Rankin fan looking for something different to read or listen to or a fan of crime fiction and Scottish Noir, this is an author I recommend.
Below, find out about the author, the books she’s written, the blurb for Hunter’s Chase, my review and links to her social media and how you can buy. Please note, I am not affilliated to anything or anyone and my opinions are my own. I thank Reading Between the Lines PR for gifting me the audiobook to review from. All you will see is available now.

Hunters Chase pic

About the Author

author pic 2 Val Penny’sothercrime novels, Hunter’s Chase Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force
Hunter’s Blood and Hunter’s Secret from the bestselling series.The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by darkstroke Her first non-fiction book. Let’s Get Published is also available now and she has most recently contributed her short story, Cats and Dogs to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland.
Val is an American author living in SW Scotland with her husband and their cat.


Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, and he needs to find the source, but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course. 

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder, but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: Detective Constable Tim Myerscough, the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough. 

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this first novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series.


Hunters Chase picAuthor Val Penny takes readers/listeners onto the less than salubrious streets of Edinburgh, away from those the tourists routinely tread. The narrator, Sean Pia bring the city and all it’s characters to life in a wonderful way and is easy to listen to.

Readers first meet Jamie Thomson in the suburb Morningside, planning a crime, and then Sir Peter Myerscough, a Justice Minister, who Jamie just happens to bump into and then the action starts as they accidentally come across a body. This brings Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson onto the case and readers, in turn meet the what would seem, the whole police force.  There’s an array of characters outwith the police force, from a Lord and Lady to a cleaner for MSPs, all who’s paths cross as Hunter and his team look deeper as the case ramps up and the bodies stack up in this gritty police procedural book. Val Penny sets the scenes well for various characters, so you get a snapshot of their lives before brutally killing them off. It adds to the curiosity as does the fact there is more than one body as you wonder who is next, who the murderer is and what, if any, is the connection. It’s certainly a book that will keep readers guessing.

As you get to know the police force more, it turns out D.I. Hunter Wilson has a dark sense of humour at times, which adds a bit of fun, especially to his thoughts of D.C. Tim Myerscough, who he’s been lumbered with and wishes he started early, just so he could put him to the test on how he is with corpses. There is more dark humour here and there as the book progresses. Knowing who Tim Myerscough is, he has a lot to live up to and also has his own issues to face, but stay focussed on the task in hand and has a lot to learn.

There’s a bit of simmering romance between a couple of the police staff and Hunter likes the women too. One in particular, he has his eye on is Meera in the morgue. I can think of a couple of times at least where romances have started in the morgue, so makes me wonder if this one will blossom and bloom in the future or not, and what morgues have that sparks such affairs of the heart. There is however a case to be solved and some pretty direct questions to be asked and a trip out to Musselburgh Racecourse to find out what’s been going on there as the area they investigate, expands as many lives are in danger, including Tim Myerscough’s very own. By the end, all becomes satisfyingly clear for who committed and attempted to commit murders and why.

The book flies by and if you enjoy Ian Rankin, you’re sure to enjoy this Scottish Noir series. 

Hunter's Chase cover.jpg Hunter's Revenge cover.jpg Hunter's Force cover.jpg Hunter's Blood cover.jpg Hunter's Secret cover.jpg

Click on links to Social Media and Buy Links

website                        blog             Goodreads,      Twitter – @valeriepenny,             Facebook.

To purchase any of her books, the links are:













#BookReview by Lou of This Shining Life by Harriet Kline @HareandHarriet @tabithapelly @DoubledayUK @RandomTTours

This Shining Life
By Harriet Kline

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This Shining Life is beautifully written. It’s timely, poignant and warm. If you like Rachel Joyce’s books, you’re sure to like This Shining Life. I highly recommend it!
Discover more in the blurb and my full review and a bit about the author. That is when you can take your eyes off the gorgeous cover.
Thanks to Random Things Tours for inviting me onto the blog tour for reviewing and for them and for publisher – Double Day for gifting the physical proof of the  book.

This Shining Life Cover


For Rich, life is golden.

He fizzes with happiness and love.

But Rich has an incurable brain tumour.

When Rich dies, he leaves behind a family without a father, a husband, a son and a best friend. His wife, Ruth, can’t imagine living without him and finds herself faced with a grief she’s not sure she can find her way through.

At the same time, their young son Ollie becomes intent on working out the meaning of life. Because everything happens for a reason. Doesn’t it?

But when they discover a mismatched collection of presents left by Rich for his loved ones, it provides a puzzle for them to solve, one that will help Ruth navigate her sorrow and help Ollie come to terms with what’s happened. Together, they will learn to lay the ghosts of the past to rest, and treasure the true gift that Rich has left them: the ability to embrace life and love every moment.

Wonderfully funny and achingly beautiful, this is a story about love in all its forms: absent, lost and, ultimately, regained.


This Shining Life CoverMeet Ollie, Nessa, Angran, Rich, Ruth and Marjorie, the main characters who take a few chapters or so at a time to create this beautiful book. What hits and made me take a sharp intake of breath, was the first line of the first chapter, after the prologue. What is said is insumountable and very matter of fact. It’s a strong opening! Every so often, one line punctuates the opening to a chapter, that is stark and true and just fabulous. No beating about the bush, it tells of a life event how it is and for what it is. In this instance, I like that and it fits the book so well. You’ll have to read the book to find out what it is…

This book will tug at anyone’s heartstrings, like the saddest tune from a solo violin at the very least, and certain short, sharp sentence (I won’t say what or it will spoil it), may pierce hard through your very being and reverberate round. It’s terrific and matter of fact! The book is also full of love and the warmth that brings.

Grief is inescapable at the moment and that’s what makes this book, perhaps even more timely and poignant. It beautifully portrays grief and being surrounded by it within a family very well and truthfully. It shows how people have different ideas for what to do when someone dies and how grief isn’t the same for everyone. It’s also about the love of dead loved ones and the comfort from the living.

There is also the mismatched presents that Rich had left, which further shows his love of life and the people around him. It also keeps people busy as they try to fix them out.

The book, although emotional, is far from depressing. It has that warmth and some pockets of humour. There’s other parts of life being shown as having being lived, such as a a well stocked up picnic. The nature provides a layer of peacefulness along with the layer of  anguish of death, love and life that converges together.

The peacefulness of nature is conveyed exquisitely against the forefront of the sting and in Ruth’s case, especially, the almost suffocation, sometimes claustrophobic feeling of grief closing in and confusion of grief, that all of the characters feel in one way or another. It is all brought with tenderness, but an absolute realism, right to the very end and with the comfort and love of the supporting characters.

About the Author

HARRIET KLINE works part time registering births, deaths and marriages and writes for the rest of the week. Her story Ghost won the Hissac Short Story Competition and Chest of Drawers won The London Magazine Short Story Competition. Other short stories have been published online with LitroFor Books’ Sake, and ShortStorySunday, and on BBC Radio 4.