#BookReview By Lou of Foolish Heroines By June Wentland @june_mw @valleypress @kenyon_isabelle #Fiction #FoolishHeroines #BlogTour

Foolish Heroines
By June Wentland

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Foolish Heroines is a fictional book that brings a tapestry of humour and quirky characters. Discover more in the blurb and my review below. Thanks to Valley Press for gifting the book in-which I have reviewed from and Isabelle Kenyon for inviting me onto the blog tour.

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Blurb

foolish heroines (2)Janina Reston is a language expert, translating fiendishly tricky Arabic and Asian mathematical and scientific texts. Words are her world. But she can’t find any to share with her husband Owen. Instead, she confides in a spider named Gladys (who may or may not be her deceased grandmother).

She lives in an ordinary city suburb where extraordinary things happen. Lily’s husband dies in a strange accident with a milk bottle, while Fatima writes biographies of unknown people living seemingly inconsequential lives, and Zosia – whose most daring adventure thus far has been replacing jelly and ice cream with lemon meringue pie – runs off to Delhi with an Asian Women’s Sewing Group.

Written with zest, zeal and humour (powered by numerous biscuits and, on a good day, cake), June Wentland’s debut novel is a surreal journey through the avenues and alleyways of everyday life. But forget dull domesticity. This is a suburb where dense jungle leaves creep through the patio door when you’re putting the kettle on, where porcelain shepherdesses have evil intent, and where a seven-legged arachnid can be a wise companion for a woman at the end of her tether.

Review

Right from the first paragraph, it becomes clear that this is not going to be any ordinary story. It has quite an opener!! I won’t say what that entails as it would spoil it for you, but put it this way, Janina, who is one of the main characters has a strange sub-conscious indeed. It makes for a quirky, humorous entertaining story. This is most definitely for people who perhaps want something a bit different to read. In a quirky sense, it’s a point of view and it’s thought-provoking in a comedic sense. The book is perhaps a bit like reading about people’s lives that are at quite a tangent from what may be considered average, with a just a few threads of the average still hanging on in there. To begin with it made me think of a sitcom and also a little bit like Shirley Valentine (when she talks to her wall), but those thoughts are soon swept away. This is a pretty original story. It most definitely delivers on that.

Janina has a couple of friends – Owen who is human and is real and a spider that, quite innocently, hangs around, not realising that Janina believes it’s a reincarnation. There are times when I feel sorry for Owen because the spider sometimes trumps him in the conversation stakes. There could also be a ghost in her toilet, creating a blockage…

Then there’s Fatima, who lives in the block of flats, writing biographies and readers meet her when she is writing about Lily, who was married to Ernest, who had the strangest death, which brings even more humour along with mathematical analogies that I certainly hadn’t thought of in such light, as this book brings. Lily is an interesting character in her own-right too, with her, perhaps, a bit subversive and spirtual in life. Zosia is also certainly an intriguing character whose life is changing as she does more adventuring than she ever imagined.

By the end, the title “Foolish Heroines” has been explained in this tapestry of quirky lives that bring intrigue and humour.

About the Author

June Wentland was born in Hull and currently lives in Corsham, Wiltshire.

June has an M.A. in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and has a day job being the Reader Development Officer for Bath and N.E Somerset Council Library Service.

Her fiction has been televised and published by BBC Television. She’s also written freelance for Endemol U.K. and has been an occasional guest lecturer for the Creative Industries degree at Southampton Solent University.

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#Review by Lou – Must Love Books By Shauna Robinson @shaunarobs @Sourcebooks @sbkslandmarks #ContemporaryFiction #Fiction #MustLoveBooks

Must Love Books
By Shauna Robinson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Must Love Books is insightful into the book world and the unexpected path’s life can take you down, when at first, your dream job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark for gifting me a copy. Discover the blurb and my review below.

Must Love Books cover

Blurb

Must Love Books coverThe Bookish Life of Nina Hill meets Younger in a heartfelt debut following a young woman who discovers she’ll have to ditch the “dream job” and write her own story to find her happy ending.

Meet Nora Hughes—the overworked, underpaid, last bookish assistant standing. At least for now.

When Nora landed an editorial assistant position at Parsons Press, it was her first step towards The Dream Job. Because, honestly, is there anything dreamier than making books for a living? But after five years of lunch orders, finicky authors, and per my last emails, Nora has come to one grand conclusion: Dream Jobs do not exist.

With her life spiraling and the Parsons staff sinking, Nora gets hit with even worse news. Parson’s is cutting her already unlivable salary. Unable to afford her rent and without even the novels she once loved as a comfort, Nora decides to moonlight for a rival publisher to make ends meet…and maybe poach some Parson’s authors along the way.

But when Andrew Santos, a bestselling Parsons author no one can afford to lose is thrown into the mix, Nora has to decide where her loyalties lie. Her new Dream Job, ever-optimistic Andrew, or…herself and her future.

Your next book club read touching on mental health, happiness, and the peaks and perils of being a young woman just trying to figure it all out. Nora Hughes is the perfect heroine for anyone looking to get past their own chapter twenty-something and build their storybook life.

Review

The book begins with rather sardonic tones and you get the feel for the type of company Nora works for, straight away. It draws you in with the sense of humour and a relatability I am sure many readers will see within their own jobs and businesses. It begins with Nora interviewing perspective candidate – Kelly at publishing company Parson’s Press. This was, she decided, 5 years ago, to be her dream job and landed the post of Editorial Assistant, when she was all young and less jaded, with a love of books, even when younger, when she enjoyed Judy Blume’s “Just As Long As We’re Together” (a book I myself also remember fondly and still own a copy of”). Fantasies of what she would be doing had gone through her head and she sees a bit of this in “bright-eyed” Kelly across the table as she is on the look out for a replacement to fill the hole that friend, Beth would leave when she move onto pastures new. Nora seems to wish she could do the same. 

The book is interesting. It has quite a cutting edge and brings readers a huge dose of reality to swallow that brings a real eye-opener; it’s nonetheless entertaining throughout. Between that and work, the book is incredibly believable and relateable as a woman’s dream job isn’t what was expected and tries a different tact, especially when things at work go from bad to worse with the job itself and the office politics, which makes living and working needlessly hard. So, she tries out for a job at new start-up company – Booktap, which sounds hip and relaxed and the complete opposite of Parson’s, to see if her happy-ending could exist there or at Weber, but the question is, whether she really wants it, if she was offered. It’s an interesting book in that it goes through quite a lot of how people feel when applying for a new job and the feedback from interviews is spot-on too. It’s also about a woman trying to discover where she fits best in the working world. It’s a book that would appeal to any person of working age, looking for a change in their lives, especially if they’ve “been there, done that, and even going through it again” as you’d really get a feel for this and perhaps identify with it.

It’s a great life adventure to see what path Nora does take and what she discovers. There’s some romance along the way too. It carries with it an important message, that sometimes not everything works out as you think it would, but you still survive.

#BookReview By Lou of Should I Tell You By Jill Mansell @JillMansell @headlinepg #HeadlineFiction #RandomTTours #ShouldITellYou #BlogTour #Fiction #BookRecommendation

Should I Tell You
By Jill Mansell

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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I am so pleased and excited to be on the blog tour for Should I Tell You By Jill Mansell. Readers are in for a treat! Whether you’ve read some of her books before or not (they are complete within themselves), this is an absolutely brilliant, heartwarming, joy of a  book to pick up. Discover more in the blurb and praise more of my thoughts in my review, followed by a little about the author….

Thanks to Random T. Tours for inviting me and to Headline Books for gifting me a copy of the book.

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Blurb and Praise

The most heart-warming novel you’ll read this year … from the Sunday Times bestselling author of AND NOW YOU’RE BACK

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Should I Graphic 8 Amber, Lachlan and Raffaele met as teenagers in the seaside home of kind-hearted foster parents. Arriving in glorious Cornwall was the best thing that ever happened to them – and now, as adults, their bond is stronger than ever.
But Amber has a secret. She’s in love with Lachlan. She can’t confess her feelings because that would never work. Restless Lachlan dates a lot and definitely isn’t the settling-down type. Surely it’s better to keep him as a friend than to risk losing him for good?
Raffaele has his own dilemma. He had the dream girlfriend in Vee, until it all went horribly wrong . . . and he still can’t understand why. Is Vee hiding something from him?
Now their widowed foster dad Teddy thinks he’s found love again. Younger, charming and strikingly beautiful, is Olga as perfect as she seems? Or will she end up breaking Teddy’s heart?
Against a backdrop of sparkling seas and sunny skies, the unexpected is always just around the corner. Welcome to Lanrock!

Review

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Lachlan is an ambitious chef in high demand by the media as a journalistic interview is conducted and more is found out about his popularity and his passion for what he does in the kitchen and that he has for his valued customers. He likes London, but Peggy wants him to follow her to Cornwall, which is painted beautifully in telling readers all it has to offer. She puts up an excellent argument for why she wants him down there to cook his Michelin Star food. She seems a fun, yet formidable woman. Within just a few pages in, my interest has piqued so much that I need to keep reading voraciously on.

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A wonderful idyllic scene is created when we learn about Teddy and a cruise to Greece, it oozes with all the holiday vibes that make you wish you were there too. It’s great that Jill Mansell has tackled the theme of the solo traveller (which Teddy is), in such a positive way and including all the fun of sharing photos back home, in this case to Amber and Lachlan. This pleased me, deeply. It depicts, and rightly so, the joy that can be had. There’s also the potential of romance for Teddy.

Once the scene is set, you learn more about Amber (who works at Lanrock Glass) and her earlier life and how she is intrinsically linked to the Penhaligon’s. It is at this time of her life, when she also met Lachlan and Raffaele and what is forged is a strong bond. This isn’t a story that jumps from one timeline to another, so don’t mistaken it for that, it rather gives a great background to what comes next and so readers can delve into the characters lives that then, rather compellingly, wraps around the reader until the very end, when it then lets you go, but still leaves a lingering heartwarming feeling.

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Things get really intriguing about the characters lives, the secrets and the relationships, especially as you can delve deeper into Vee’s life and what is going wrong. There’s also a mysterious letter that appears like a bolt from the blue that leads to revealing more about Raffaele’s life. As the book continues and it’s pretty hard to put down with all the unravelling of this beautiful, scenic book that has secrets that are offered up to inquisitive and curious readers.

Jill Mansell has linked characters up so well and it is so compelling unearthing more about them all. There is also, amongst possible relationships, relationship issues and general life, some really great humour, charm and warmth. The book then, apart from the warm feeling I said about earlier, leaves you hoping there will be another book to come from this excellent author.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jill Mansell Author Pic (1) Jill Mansell is the author of over twenty Sunday Times bestsellers including The One You Really Want and Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay.  Take a Chance on Me won the RNA’s Romantic Comedy Prize, and in 2015 the RNA presented Jill with an outstanding achievement award.

Jill started writing fiction while working in the field of Clinical Neurophysiology in the NHS, but now writes full time. She lives in Bristol with her family.

Jill Mansell is the author of over twenty Sunday Times bestsellers including The One You Really Want and Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay.  Take a Chance on Me won the RNA’s Romantic Comedy Prize, and in 2015 the RNA presented Jill with an outstanding achievement award.

Jill started writing fiction while working in the field of Clinical Neurophysiology in the NHS, but now writes full time. She lives in Bristol with her family.

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#BookReview By Lou – The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures By Holly Hepburn @HollyH_Author @TeamBATC @harriet_col #simonschusterUK #TheLittleShopOfHiddenTreasures

The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures
By Holly Hepburn

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Today I am excited to present my review of The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures. It has layers of history, romance, poignancy and chips away at you to make you curious amongst the cosyness.
Check out the blurb and my full review below. Thanks to Simon and Schuster for gifting me a physical copy of The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures and for inviting me onto the blog tour.

The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures cover pic

Blurb

**The brand new novel from Holly Hepburn, perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley and Katie Fforde.**
Originally published in four parts this is the full story in one package. 

When Hope loses her husband, she fears her happiest days are behind her. With her only connection to London broken, she moves home to York to be near her family and to begin to build a new life.  

Taking a job at the antique shop she has always admired, she finds herself crossing paths with two very different men. Will, who has recently become the guardian to his niece after the tragic death of her parents. And Ciaran, who she enlists to help solve the mystery of an Egyptian antique. Two men who represent two different happy endings.

But can she trust herself to choose the right man? And will that bring her everything she really needs?

The brand new novel from Holly Hepburn, author of Coming Home to Brightwater Bay

Review

The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures cover picHope Henderson is into antiques and needs a job. What can be more perfect than a vacancy at The Ever After Emporium – Purveyors of Treasure Great and Small in York. Her love of antiques started at Portabello Market in London, but then she moved to York where she finds the antique shop founded in 1902 where the proprieter is James T. Young Esq. What makes it seem all the more perfect is the post is part-time and no experience is required.

Charlotte is Hope’s sister, grappling motherhood with her daughter, Amber who is of a young age that she keeps growing out of things, something many parents with toddlers (and older kids), will be able to relate to. 

There’s an interesting Egyptian puzzle box that belonged to Will’s mother in the emporium that piques at the curiousity of Hope and will readers alike. This is where the plot begins to thicken, now it’s already captured my attention by its relative cosyness, which I am sure many readers will be able to feel and be reeled in even further between the past and present, linked with a letter written around an exhibition to Egypt in the early 1920’s. This note, secretly hidden away, sends Hope on an adventure of investigative research into Tutenkhamun, Lord Canarvon and the exhibitions. So, although this is a fictional story, it does mention real people and real excavations. The author intertwines fact and fiction well and holds interest. This book, what with all the interest in the Canarvon Family due to the location of Downton Abbey, may then find you wanting to investigate these exhibitions yourself too and that’s where good writing comes in, to pique interest that much.

On-top of the mysterious letter and the history is also deep poignancy about grief. What is said is incredibly truthful and wise words indeed within this book that has certain interesting nuances within it.

There’s also quite the love story to follow through this book too that keeps you guessing what the ending is going to be and what choices are going to be made. There’s also some great humour with certain film references and more general humour, between Hope and her sister Charlotte, creating some great sisterly fun. There’s also some really heartwarming moments among other characters too.

This is ulitmately a lovely book that is heartwarming and a joy to read.

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#BookReview By Lou – Every Day In December By Kitty Wilson @KittyWilson23 @0neMoreChapter_ #ChristmasRead #Christmas #December #EveryDayInDecember #Fiction #ContemporaryFiction #RomanceFiction

Every Day In December
By Kitty Wilson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Follow two lives, each with their ups and downs within them each day in December. A poignant romance for Christmas. Check out the blurb and the rest of my review below.

Every Day In December

Blurb

Every Day In DecemberTwo people. One month to fall in love.

Belle Wilde loves December. Yes, she’s just lost her job and Christmas is not a good time to find yourself ‘financially challenged’. And yes, her parents are still going on about the fact that she really should have it all together by now. But Belle believes that in December, magic can happen.

Rory Walters hates December. Whilst it looks like his life is together, he’s still reeling from a winter’s night five years ago when his life changed forever. Now back at home, he’s certain that this will be yet another Christmas to endure rather than enjoy.

But as midnight on December 31st draws closer, Belle and Rory’s time together is coming to an end. With a little help from a Christmas miracle could Belle find the one thing she really wants underneath the mistletoe?

Review

Each chapter leads readers into each day in December and into the main characters – Belle and Rory’s lives. Belle has fallen on hard times, which leads her into a different path in life. This is only the surface of her life. Going deeper in, she has had rough upbringing. She has far, far got her life sorted.
Rory’s life is also not going so well either and he has a lot going on, yet he seems destined to be with Belle, even if it is a slow-burner of a romance.

Belle shows that she has a passion for Shakespeare in inspires others as she talks about him to students and shows just how very relevant he still is, through the themes that he wrote about, which are still universal today.

There is also the equation of Belle’s God-daughter whom she has a close relationship with  and this brings a lighter dynamic to the story.

The book is also poignant about December and how the closer you get to Christmas holidays, the harder it can feel in if something bad has happened in your life. There are ups and downs that the main characters have to overcome.

There is some Christmas cheer to be found amongst the poignancy of Every Day in December.

#Review By Lou – Silenced By Jennie Ensor @Jennie_Ensor @HobeckBooks #Thriller #CrimeFiction

Silenced
By Jennie Ensor

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Today I am delighted to be on the blog tour, thanks to Hobeck Books who invited me, with my review of the powerful thriller – Silenced by Jennie Ensor. Take a look at the synopsis and my review below, as well as the stunningly creepy, dark, yet atmospheric cover. Find out after all that, a little about the author too.

Silenced cover

Synopsis

gang culture, gang culture fiction, urban fiction, crime fiction, urban crime

gang culture, gang culture fiction, urban fiction, crime fiction, urban crime

gang culture, gang culture fiction, urban fiction, crime fiction, urban crime

DI Callum Waverley of the Met’s Major Investigation Team 55 is put in charge of his first murder investigation after a 15-year-old girl is stabbed outside a council estate controlled by the Skull Boys gang. Callum believes that the gang leader, V, ordered the murder. Witnesses are scared to come forward and he struggles to make headway.  Luke, who lives in the estate’s shadow, is drawn into the Skull Boys. Excluded from school, he befriends Jez, a troubled girl being exploited by the gang’s hitman, Zom. Callum becomes the target of escalating intimidation, seemingly from the Skull Boys. He suspects someone in his team may also be involved. Silenced is a gritty crime novel set in north London which delves into the heart of gang culture in 21st-century Britain.

Review

A teenage girl is brutally and shockingly murdered, shaking up the North London community to the core and becomes DI Callum Waverley’s first case. All the teenager was trying to do was try to get home. This a book with pace and so many layers. On the face of it, it’s a standard police procedural, but when you really get into it, there’s much, much more. This is about a community that feels silenced from talking to the police, not even the victim’s own mother wants to. They are all perpetually scared of the Skull Crew and what they might do to silence them. It takes a lot of work for the new DI to penetrate through the wall of silence and unravel the clues as to what happened. DI Callum Waverely also has his own demons to battle and has to push through them to solve the case.

There are themes of exploitation too and as well as exploring this, it also explores people within families who just don’t seem to care enough that their kids are being taken in by gangs when they are at their most vulnerable or acting out or thinking this would be a better way of life etc. This really goes deep into the depths of society, not just with this aspect, but also just how easy it can be for some to fall into being used by gangs and how hard it is to change your life around and escape, once so deep into them. There’s so much depth into the behaviours, morals and injustices that are created by society and are still in existence in Britain in 2021.

There are also themes of love, family, betrayal, violence, alcoholism, loss. The writing is dark, yet has an air of sophistication in all that it deals with, including the impact of crime, not just on the victims and witnesses, but also on those working in the police force, especially those investigating it, which brings a different angle to a police procedural. 

This is one powerful and intensely gripping and gritty book!