To Love and Be Loved By Amanda Prowse @mrsamandaprowse #ToLoveAndBeLoved @igbooktours @lovebookstours #BlogTour #BookRecommendations #BookTwitter

To Love and To Be Loved
By Amanda Prowse

To love and be loved Twitter OUT NOW

Today I am excited to let you all know that To Love and Be Loved By Amanda Prowse is now available in all good bookshops (physical and online) and in libraries. Discover more about it in the very compelling blurb, that may well have you racing to find out all about Merrin and the village she is from.

Blurb 

To Love and To Be Loved coverIn this life-affirming tale from bestselling author Amanda Prowse, one woman built a new life to escape her humiliation. Now, can she put the shame behind her and finally find happiness?

Young and desperately in love, Merrin had the whole world ahead of her. But just as her new life was about to start, the ground beneath her feet was cruelly swept away. Devastated by the humiliation, she ran far away from the beloved fishing village she had always called home to lick her wounds and escape her gossiping friends and neighbours.

It hasn’t been easy, but six years later Merrin has forged a new life for herself far from the sea, burying the impulsive girl she once was. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to return to the village she swore she’d never set foot in again.

Reluctantly back in the arms of her community, Merrin begins to realise what she’s been missing out on all these years. As she begins to remember the person she used to be, she is forced to make choices about her future, and to question the past. What does she want from her life? Who is important to her? Who is to blame for everything that went wrong? And can she forgive them, let old wounds heal and finally be her true self again?

To love and be loved Twitter OUT NOW

#BookReview by Lou – The Bookshop of Second Chances By Jackie Fraser @muninnherself #TeamBATC @simonschusteruk #RomanticFiction

The Bookshop of Second Chances
By Jackie Fraser

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Charming, uplifting, but without life’s complications in a Scottish town – The Bookshop of Second Chances is one you won’t want to miss! Thanks to Team Books And The City – part of Simon and Schuster for inviting me to the blog tour to review and for gifting me a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review. Please find more about the book in the blurb and the rest of my review below, as well as some buy links. Please note, I am not affiliated to anything.

The Book of Second Chances 2           The Book of Second Chances

Blurb

The Book of Second Chances 3Set in a charming little Scottish town, The Bookshop of Second Chances is the most uplifting story you’ll read this year!

 

Shortlisted for the RNA Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award 2021.

Thea’s having a bad month. Not only has she been made redundant, she’s also discovered her husband of nearly twenty years is sleeping with one of her friends. And he’s not sorry – he’s leaving.

Bewildered and lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But, when she learns the great-uncle she barely knew has died and left her his huge collection of second-hand books and a house in the Scottish Lowlands, she seems to have been offered a second chance.

Running away to a little town where no one knows her seems like exactly what Thea needs. But when she meets the aristocratic Maltravers brothers – grumpy bookshop owner Edward and his estranged brother Charles, Lord Hollinshaw – her new life quickly becomes just as complicated as the life she was running from…

An enchanting story of Scottish lords, second-hand books, new beginnings and second chances perfect for fans of Cressida McLaughlin, Veronica Henry, Rachael Lucas and Jenny Colgan.

The Book of Second Chances starts on Valentine’s Day. The day for lovers and shed loads of romance, but it is the exact opposite for Thea. She’s not got a lover anymore and needs to work out what furnture she wants and to top it all off, she’s also just lost her job. Just the year before, her Great Uncle Andrew died in Scotland. She’s pretty restrained, perhaps too nice, after all that, but then she also has her interests to protect too. You get a feel for her character and how she deals with things.

When a surprise letter is found from a solicitor, Thea’s life dramatically changes. It ups a lot of gears and suddenly she finds herself travelling to Scotland to a huge estate she has inherited, including a lodge and an array of precious first edition books. Jackie has created a history of the lodge, as though this was a true story and has made it feel like it is real and been around for centuries. It feels authentic as a result of her research and/or knowledge. It sounds amazing and many people would jump at the chance of staying, but Thea’s recent past holds her back initially as she considers selling it.

Readers, along with Thea then start to meet the locals, like Jilly and Cerys and get an impression of the surrounding areas.

This is also great for librarians who will appreciate the mention of The Dewey System and shudder at even the mere thought of repairing a book with sellotape. The chat about social media also seems so familiar too. There are lovely snippits of book and music as well.

The bookshop is absolutely wonderful, but all isn’t well with Charles and Edward there with a longstanding feud, with a dark and brooding atmosphere, as Thea discovers and ends up being caught up in. Life then becomes rather complicated for Thea in ways she wasn’t expecting, since she is trying to work out how to leave the complex life behind. Thea, however shows she is pretty reslient most of the time, which works really well for her characterisation. She has her principals, but there’s always that bit of a tug between going home to Sussex or staying in Scotland and making an area there her home. There is also the unescapable fact that there is romance brewing and that bookshop really providing a second chance at life, but you’ll need to read to find out all the nuances and if Thea really thinks this is so and will work well for her or not. It’s not a straight-cut decision to make, which brings some realism in this otherwise relaxing read.

The Bookshop of Second Chances is overall a warm, cosy delightful read that is highly enjoyable.

Buy Links

Waterstones       Bookshop.org     Amazon

Ever Rest by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris #LiteraryFiction #Music #Fiction #BookClubFiction #BookClubs

Ever Rest
By Roz Morris

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Ever Rest is a terrifically absorbing book with suspense, almost lyrical text, from the characters to the concepts and scenery. It’s just so interesting too, like a behind the scenes of people’s lives in a way you don’t often see in the music world. It’s beyond those glossy magazines and newspaper articles, to the actual people in a band and people’s lives, right to a hearstopping moment, where the book begins… 
Thanks to Roz Morris for getting in touch to request a review on my blog and for gifting me with the book.

Please carry on down to the blurb and my review to find out more.

EverRest

Blurb

Twenty years ago, Hugo and Ash were on top of the world. As the acclaimed rock band Ashbirds they were poised for superstardom. Then Ash went missing, lost in a mountaineering accident, and the lives of Hugo and everyone around him were changed forever. Irrepressible, infuriating, mesmerizing Ash left a hole they could never hope to fill. Two decades on, Ash’s fiancée Elza is still struggling to move on, her private grief outshone by the glare of publicity. The loss of such a rock icon is a worldwide tragedy. Hugo is now a recluse in Nepal, shunning his old life. Robert, an ambitious session player, feels himself both blessed and cursed by his brief time with Ashbirds, unable to achieve recognition in his own right. While the Ashbirds legend burns brighter than ever, Elza, Hugo and Robert are as stranded as if they were the ones lost in the ice. How far must they go to come back to life? A lyrical, page-turning novel in the tradition of Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano, Ever Rest asks how we carry on after catastrophic loss. It will also strike a chord with fans of Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones for its people bonded by an unforgettable time; fans of Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, for music as a primal and romantic force; and Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air for the deadly and irresistible wildernesses that surround our comfortable world.

Review

EverRestIt’s begins with a heart in the mouth moment, with a phone call no one on earth would ever want. This book is an excellent read. It would be great for reading alone or reading for a book club with the beautiful scenery against the suspense and the music beat.

Take a look at that cover! It is so cleverly conceived. It’s like a piece of modern art. There’s someone at the top of Mount Everest, but looks like either a CD or a record, where music, life and Nepal converge and all is not well and the cover looks torn, as lives have been tearing apart. The title is also a bit of a play on words and quite intelligent , 2 separated to mean one thing (Ever Rest) and bring them together and drop the “R” to create the mountain name – Everest.

Ashten from the band – The Ashbirds went missing in 1994 in Nepal. 18 years later, there’s some movement on this case and the intrigue to read on to see whether his body was ever found or not.

Elliott is an intriguing character and it feels like he is enraptured with Elza and her story as he sees pictures everywhere in the press and suddenly feels like he has a need to check out the press a lot to see what’s going on with her life. He is particularly fascinated about how she gets on in life, now that her fiancee, Ashten, is still missing in Nepal. There are sightings of bodies up Mount Everest that may have been him and not. It brings an absolutely captivating mystery element to what is essentially literary fiction.
The other characters – Hugo, Ari and Markson and Robert are also interesting too as they are kind of stuck with being associated with the band and also in what happened to Ashten.

Readers are treated to a back story and it’s like a behind the scenes of the music business and a band reaching the top of their game and all the pressures that comes with that and the very serious rifts.
Then band members, such as Robert wanted a solo career. Then what it takes to bring a band back together after so much history and complications.

The books also gives a bit of insight into how the press are and the assumptions they make in some of the questions they ask and also from the other-side, how certain magazines are courted and decisions made to give that exclusive story to.

It also brings about themes of grief and acceptance in different ways and moving forwards in life and what people have to deal with and how things affect them.

This is a thought-provoking story about the press, the music business and its highs and lows and also, almost poses the question as to how you would feel if someone you knew was high up on a mountain and one went missing and the other did not, as what happened to Hugo and Ashten, and then as Elza did, meet Hugo again some time later. It gives a lot of scope for book clubs to discuss and for readers not involved in one, a lot to really get involved with, to find out the outcome, which is more than worth hanging in there for…

#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

Blurb

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.

Review

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. 

 

#BookReview by Lou – The Ruins by Mat Osman @matosman #TheRuins #Fiction #Music

The Ruins
By Mat Osman

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Ruins embodies music, murder and attitude! It’s one for the music lovers with all the music references and the darker side to this business and for those who like murder mysteries and intrigue. I bought The Ruins after Mat Osman started to follow me on Twitter, to which I followed him back, also would be a bit churlish not to as I review his brother’s books. He is the younger brother of Richard Osman and is best known as the bassist in the rock band – Suede and for appearing on popular tv programmes, such as 8 out of 10 Cats. 
Follow down to discover the blurb and my review.

The Ruins

Blurb

An extraordinary novel about the ubiquitous mysteries of family, memory and music.

London, 2010: Icelandic volcanoes have the city in gridlock, banks topple like dominoes and Brandon Kussgarten has been shot dead by gunmen in Donald Duck masks. His death draws his twin brother — shy, bookish Adam — into Brandon’s underworld of deceit and desire.

A miniature kingdom sprouts in a Notting Hill tower-block, LA mansions burn in week-long parties, and in a Baroque hotel suite a record is being made that could redeem its maker even as it destroys him. As Adam begins to fall for his brother’s shattered family he finds that to win them for himself he’ll have to lose everything that he holds dear.

With echoes of Performance, The Talented Mr Ripley and Mulholland Drive, The Ruins delves into the dark heart of fame: magic, music and murder.

Review

This is interesting from the first page. The narrator is certainly very original and strategises creating an earthquake and contemplates how catastrophic to make it. It creates a powerful and poignant opening for what’s to come.
Readers will be introduced to Nottinghill and Umbrage as well as the tangible and metaphorical within the way life goes. There’s a carousel, which is very tangible and yet also demonstrates how life spins round and there are ups and downs and the whole world of music and Umbrage all becomes intriguing. It certainly seems to cover everything and Mat Osman has used his music credentials and ability to write to create this fascinating book, where family, love, murder, music, fame and the trappings of it are all bound together.

Brandon dies and Adam is told as bluntly as blunt can be and then it is discovered there are secrets and delves deeply and excitedly into the music industry. The book gets into the mystery from there of what happened to Brandon. The recounting of what happened is filled with action and intrigue. This is dark, sinister and  gritty as it shows Brandon was far from leading a clean cut life, having been in trouble with the law. 

Mat Osman delves into the darker side of the human psyche and even as far as the theme of what it would be like to pretend to be your sibling to find out more about your brother’s life and who he knew. It shows life isn’t always glamourous in the music business. It’s a bit like stepping into the backstage or inside a musician’s head to see what they privately; really think about a gig and about London and then slip into the party. It’s like the doors are flung wide open and a spotlight shining on the whole music scene and grittier than ever before to show just how dark it can get all in one story. It’s all the things that everyone knows a bit about it from news headlines, but written in fiction and still just as hardhitting and shows even more than what people read about, and yet there is also a bit dreamy in feel at times too.

Readers delve into characters lives where there is plenty of  attitude and ego to the point of narcisistic tendencies. Within this is also the question of identity, how people see themselves, what seering ambition can do to people and affect how people see them, how in fame, people can see you differently to how you really are and living with this, almost dual identity.

It certainly covers a great deal and will leave readers satisfied by the end, with all the tension of emotion that ripples through the book, heightening to a crescendo.

Everything Happens For A Reason by Katie Allen @KtAllenWriting @OrendaBooks #RandomTTours #JubilantJune #EveryThingHappensForAReason #BlogTour

Everything Happens For A Reason
by Katie Allen

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Everything Happens for a Reason cover

 

Firstly I would like to thank Orenda Books and Random Things Tours for the copy of this heart-rendering and moving book. Find out in the blurb and my review about what I actually thought about this pretty unique debut book for this great blog tour.

Blurb

A beautiful, poignant and enchantingly funny debut,
inspired by journalist Katie Allen’s own experience of stillbirth and grief

Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong.
Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.
When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she’s now
certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.
Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…
Both a heart-wrenching portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life-affirming and, quite simply, unforgettable read.

Review

Everything Happens for a Reason coverFairly uniquely, Everything Happens For A Reason, has no chapters as such and is instead, punctuated with emails from character to character. As much as it felt different to other books that do have chapters, the flow and movement through the book worked well, perhaps because of the timeline within the emails and instead of jarring, like it might do with chapters, in this rare instance, it gives it a stronger sense of a certain amount of reality. The book is a work of fiction but it is inspired by Katie Allen’s own experiences.

There is a  strong belief of “Everything Happens For A Reason” is an interesting concept, that is used in a way to justify and perhaps come to terms with everything, is a theme that is carried throughout the book. Rachel even believes that meeting Lola was for a reason and both are interesting characters and there is the gradual uncovering of Ben Palmer, a guy she saved at Oval, when she was pregnant, months before her baby was stillborn. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, there’s no two ways about it. The grief and the trying to live life feels authentic and pierces through to your heart. On the other-hand it also talks truthfully about how there isn’t always the time to grieve. Most of the characters have their issues they are living with.

There are also moments to smile about. It’s is full of bittersweet moments, such as some thought given to baby groups, such as baby and rhyme (if you’re in Scotland its a little bit like Bookbug), and baby yoga etc. 

I am glad that there are some funny moments. In some ways it lightens the book in a good way and in other ways, it is a brave decision to include it as some people don’t think you should find something funny, when grieving etc, but this shows life in every aspects from friendships to the politics of the day. There’s a particularly humorous analogy about a spider, for example. It shows life and grieving is not a straight line and life presents itself with unexpected moments and a web of people and situations. There’s some moments of pragmatism and others that has a bit of humour, but most of all it is emotional and an aura of it lingers round you after you’ve read it.

This is not a light read by any means, but it is some original storytelling, with a subject matter that is still almost taboo and uncomfortable for some people to talk about. It is a subject matter that is rare in books, if there at all. If you’re wanting something different and meaningful, this is your book.

 

ABOUT KATIE ALLEN

Katie AllenA beautiful, poignant and enchantingly funny debut, inspired by journalist Katie Allen’s own experience of stillbirth and grief.
Everything Happens for a Reason is Katie’s first novel. She used to be a journalist and columnist at the Guardian and Observer, and started her career as a Reuters correspondent in Berlin and London. The events in Everything Happens for a Reason are fiction, but the premise is loosely autobiographical. Katie’s son, Finn, was stillborn in 2010, and her character ’s experience of grief and being on maternity leave without a baby is based on her own. And yes, someone did say to her
‘Everything happens for a reason’.
Katie grew up in Warwickshire and now lives in South London with her husband,
children, dog, cat and stick insects. When she’s not writing or walking children and dogs, Katie loves baking, playing the piano, reading news and wishing she had written other people’s brilliant novels.

Everything Happens BT Poster