#BookReview By Lou of The Locked Away Life By Drew Davies @Drew_Davies @bookouture #ContemporaryFiction #HeartwarmingRead

The Locked Away Life
By Drew Davies

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I have a review of The Locked Away Life by Drew Davies, thanks to the publisher, bookouture an immersive, heartwarming read with chance encounters, different lives and secrets. Discover the blurb and full review below.

 

Blurb

A lonely soul is on the verge of giving up. Can the kindness of a young stranger save her?

Esther has shut away herself in her vine-covered manor house on the top of a hill for as long as she can remember. Everyone in the village whispers about the scandal that broke her heart. She has cut herself off from the world – until now. Now, she needs help uncovering the mystery that has plagued her for decades…

On a sunny spring day, eighteen-year-old Bruno is in the local library when he spots an advert. The old lady on the hill is looking for internet lessons, and Bruno sees his chance. Forever the outsider, he can’t wait to escape the sleepy village – the paid position could be his ticket out of there.

Esther and Bruno have nothing in common, except that they are both in hiding, and their secrets are stopping them from truly living… Esther must come to terms with her past, and Bruno needs to figure out his future. Can these two strangers save one another?

Just as heartbreaking as it is heartwarming, this page-turner is for anyone who has ever felt left behind or came close to giving up. Perfect for fans of Sally Page, Ruth Hogan and Mike Gayle.

Review

Unusually, there are two prologues. The first is heart rendering, with Bruno and the second, a terrifying moment with Esther and then it folds out into chapters with these two main characters, alternating with their colliding stories as it goes along as it explains all, how these 2 people meet. It goes right back to a chance encounter of 18 year old Bruno and an advertisement in the community library, one that is a book swap bit of a hair salon. Bruno answers the ad and this is when life changes for him and Esther, an older lady who requires some help. She’s funny in a way, in the beginning as in haha funny and quirky as well as in the tricky sort of manner of the word.

Esther needs help and Bruno needs money, so takes up the offer. She’s got quite a history and quite an attitude to growing ever older. She is also determined or stubborn and has decided she never wants to leave the Manor House she rattles around in. She would say determined, I’m sure, whereas Jane will reckon more stubborn and sees how Esther is no longer able to be as independent as she once was, which she recognises a little herself, as in a smidging.
It’s an interesting pairing, but a good one, showing young and old can come together in all sorts of circumstances and there be a maturity and a developing of that relationship of sorts, and with it’s these characters, it is engaging to see how they develop in their lives. It is intriguing to see the eaking out of secrets and how they both essentially needed each other, but prior to the chance encounter of an ad, they weren’t aware of each other’s existence.
There is also, throughout the relationship between Bruno and Dominic throughout, which brings some exploration of romance and queries around that and sexuality. It also then weaves into conversations with Esther.

Interestingly, it all ends in 2 epilogues. 1 for Esther and on for Bruno,

The manner the conversations come together are not only well observed, but make reading this book immersive and easy to lose yourself in the book’s, sometimes heart-rendering, sometimes heartwarming pages.

Advertisement

#Review By Lou of A Little Christmas Panto By Angela Britnell @AngelaBritnell @ChocLituk @rararesources #ChristmasReads #Pantomime #Christmas #ALittleChristmasPanto #readingcommunity #writingcommunity #Bookish #BlogTour

A Little Christmas Panto

By Angela Britnell

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

It is nearing Christmas time and that means one thing – it’s Panto time. “Oh no it isn’t!” “Oh yes it is!” This will be sure to get you in the festive mood. Twinkle step down to the blurb and the review below. Thanks first to Rachel Random Resources for inviting me to review and for the publisher ChocLit UK for the book.

Blurb

Can a little Cornish village panto convince a troubled Hollywood heart throb to act again?

Oh no it won’t! At least that’s what Zach Broussard initially thinks when the eccentric Anna Teague tries to railroad him into helping out with her community pantomime production in the run-up to Christmas. Zach has his reasons for leaving Hollywood behind, and his retreat to the remote village of Polcarne in Cornwall signals the start of a new acting free life for him.

But when Zach meets Anna’s daughter, Rosey – an ex concert pianist who has swapped Mozart for panto tunes – he starts to wonder whether he could change his mind, and not just about acting.

If nothing else, will the residents of Polcarne ensure Zach has a Christmas he never forgets?

Oh yes they will!

Review

This book is seasonal, sweet and theatrical. Set in Cornwall, it is just fun and has heart and warmth for this time of year… ‘On yes it does…’ okay, moving on. It is about community getting together and helping each other to try and put on one of those great and uniquely British stage theatre shows – the Pantomime.

The relationship between Rosey and Zach is lovely to read and see develop. There is also the concerns about how the Panto will go ahead and if Zach, who has left LA, will join in and act.

It being Christmas, it is joyous, but not all is straightforward as the Panto is thrown into doubt as an accident occurs. There is also a bit highlighting hard times around Christmas for some but also the resilience to enjoy the season anyway. To find out if they pull off the Panto you need to read the book.

So throw yourself into Christmas with A Little Christmas Panto. This was the first book I’ve read by this author and it hits the spot.

#Review By Lou of Suicide Thursday By Will Carver will_carver @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours #Thriller #Fiction #SuicideThursday #BookReview #readingcommunity #writingcommunity

Suicide Thursday
By Will Carver

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Today, I have a later than planned (due to circumstance the publisher and blog tour organiser are aware about and have been kind) review of  Suicide Thursday; the latest book by Will Carver. It is pitch perfect and dark, with just enough light to show readers another glimpse into society’s darker images, darker thoughts and realities and yet it is incredibly compelling and a page turner… Discover more in the blurb and then my other thoughts about Thursdays and more pertinently, the book in my review. Thanks first to Random T.Tours and Orenda Books for the invite to review. 

If words could kill…
 
Eli Hagin can’t finish anything.
 
He hates his job, but can’t seem to quit. He doesn’t want to
be with his girlfriend, but doesn’t know how end things with
her, either. Eli wants to write a novel, but he’s never taken a
story beyond the first chapter.
 
Eli also has trouble separating reality from fiction.
When his best friend kills himself, Eli is motivated, for the first
time in his life, to finally end something himself, just as Mike
did…
 
Except sessions with his therapist suggest that Eli’s most
recent ‘first chapters’ are not as fictitious as he had intended
… and a series of text messages that Mike received before his
death point to something much, much darker
 

Review

Will Carver is known for dark and twisty plots than show those darker corners of society and this doesn’t disappoint. If you’re looking for something so unique and a page turner with a plot that lingers in your heart, mind and soul afterwards, Will Carver is your man. It is often thrilling to see an invite to review these books and then to see where the plot takes you and if this look into parts of society not really written about like this, can be pulled off again. Turns out the author absolutely has managed to again. First I want to say something about Thursdays in general and then onto the book.

Turns out Thursdays are days I might take to hibernation. They used to be one of the great days of the week, more or less  predictable, but safe. Now, however it don’t seem as wise to step outside as they once were. There are certain crime books and thrillers that now specifically happen on a Thursday and this is one of them. It makes me wonder if I can get all those authors together to persuade my employer I should have every Thursday off and then a Friday as a bonus to celebrate the fact I survived the Thursday…

Now onto the book…

Suicide Thursday hits you deep in the heart and yet compels you to read on. The intermittent text messages are as stark as an arrow going through your body. There is Jackie who is quite religious, then there is Eli, whom she knows cannot finish anything he starts. Readers of the book are privy to see what he begins to write in the book he has began. There’s also Mike who is also very troubled and having a hard time in life.
As a reader and observer to the characters lives, I found myself increasingly pulled in by the interesting dialogue and thought processes of the characters, especially in texts and in a chat room with a person whom is known as fake therapist, that truly stand out and enhance the storytelling. It is poignant and thought provoking. The deeper you go, beyond the superficial and any day to day life, the darker it becomes and the more there is to discover about how Thursdays are and why the book is called Suicide Thursday and without the book being in distinctive parts, life before and after Mike’s death are revealed. It becomes apparent that there is more to be uncovered about what Eli will do, whether he will continue with therapy or not and whether he will finish his book or not and just how will it all end?…

A Double #CoverReveal of #AScottishCountryEscape and #TheChristmasHighlandLodge. By Julie Shackman @G13Julie @0neMoreChapter_ @rararesources

Today I have a double Cover Reveal. One for A Scottish Country Escape and the other for The Christmas At the Highland Lodge. Two new books by Julie Shackman to get excited about. Then find out a  bit about this Scottish author for yourself at the end of this post. Thanks to publisher OneMoreChapter and Rachel Random Resources for inviting me on this cover reveal.

Discover the covers, the blurbs and links to these books.

First up is A Scottish Country Escape

Escape to the Scottish Highlands with a brand new spring romance from bestselling author, Julie Shackman

*Julie Shackman’s brand new romance The Cottage in the Highlands is exclusively available on First Reads for November*

Determined to overcome a family tragedy, Elle Cassidy decides to reopen her late mother’s ailing newsagent as a stationery shop in the quiet Scottish town of Fir Haven.

But when the arrogant yet handsome crime writer Dexter Grayling almost runs over Elle in his beast of a sports car, the town is thrown into a tailspin – especially when Dexter claims that local resident Linda Carlucci has put a curse on him and he is no longer able to write.

Can Elle put aside her dislike for the self-absorbed writer and help Dexter uncover what is really going on with the Carlucci family? And in the process will Elle realise that there’s a lot more to her beloved Fir Haven than she first thought…

For fans of Donna Ashcroft, Jane Linfoot and Rachael Lucas.

Preorder links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0B9SK1DHM

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0B9SK1DHM

Publication Date: 16th March 2023

Second up is: The Christmas Highland Lodge

Fall in love with the Christmas romance of the year, full of love and second chances!

Lottie Grant loves the festive season so much that she works at the incredibly successful Christmas shop, Christmas Crackers, in her pretty Scottish home town of Craig Brae. But when the shop is sold, her world is turned upside down, leaving her wondering what she will do next.

Just as she’s about to give up hope on finding a new dream job, an offer comes that she can’t refuse, managing a set of luxury wooden cabins… and opening just in time for Christmas!

As she gets to work decorating the cabins, and hanging lights on the fir trees, Lottie can’t believe her luck. That is until the arrival of Blake Dempster, a moody but handsome hiking expert, who threatens to bring down her festive joy. But never one to shy away from a challenge, Lottie is determined to change Blake’s mind about all things festive.

And as the snow falls and the fairy lights sparkle, will work-obsessed Lottie and frozen-hearted Blake make their Christmas wishes come true?

Preorder links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0BDBT59L4

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BDBT59L4

Publication Date: 20th October 2023


About the Author

Julie Shackman is a former journalist from Scotland, who has always wanted to write feel-good romance. As well as being an author, Julie also writes verses and captions for greetings card companies.

She admits to having an obsession with stationery and handbags and has an impressive pile of gorgeous To Be Read novels she is wading her way through.

She is married, has two sons and a Romanian rescue puppy, Cooper. A Scottish Country Escape and The Christmas Highland Lodge are Julie’s eighth and nineth novels respectively.

Social Media Links –

Website – Julie Shackman Author

Julie Shackman (@G13Julie) / Twitter

#Guestpost by Susan Buchanan of One Day – Autumn @susan_buchanan @rararesources #contemporaryficton #JustOneDay #Autumn #BlogTour #Travel #AuthorTakeover #GuestSpot

 

E99DF725-E512-4805-8E20-AAA0AF179559

Today I am hosting a lovely and fascinating  guest post about the importance of travel as Susan Buchanan takes over my blog today by the author of the Just One Day series. Her latest book is Just One Day – Autumn, others are set in Spring and Summer. Do take a look at the book and blurb and what Susan Buchanan has written.
Thanks first for the opportunity by Rachel Random Resources to be on the blog tour and for the time taken by Susan Buchanan.

For fans of Sue Moorcroft, Jill Mansell and Holly Martin

“I think Susan has a real gift for conveying the warmth and humour in her characters and reflecting the reality of people’s lives

Pregnant Louisa is just getting back on track when life throws her another curveball. Now, it’s not a case of how she’ll get through her to-do lists but how she’ll manage being a mum again.
No one seems to understand. How will she run her company, be partner in a new venture, look after her three kids and handle a newborn? And why does everyone think this will be easy? Except her.
All Louisa wants is to be a good mum, wife, friend, sister and daughter, and have a bit of time left for herself, but sometimes that’s too big an ask. Can she find the support she needs, or will she forever be pulled in too many directions, always at the mercy of her to-do lists?

The Importance of Travel

I’m Sagittarius, and apparently Sagittarians are born travellers. Totally true of me, although these days with the kids, not so easy to achieve!

It had been a while since I included any travel elements in my books, so I took the opportunity in Just One Day – Summer and Just One Day – Autumn to reintroduce travel as when I read, I love to be transported to places I’ve been, and never been, before, and I figure I’m not alone!

In Summer, Louisa heads off on a business trip to Madrid, a place I’ve been a few times. My first memory of Madrid, however, is not of the city itself, but within the pages of a book. I speak fluent Spanish, but when I first started learning, when I was about ten, I had a book called A School Spanish Course. I loved it, couldn’t get enough of it, and one of the lessons was about El Retiro park in Madrid. Suffice to say, when I finally visited Madrid, once I dropped my stuff off at the hotel, it was the first place I visited. It’s so tranquil, full of families taking a stroll, ponds, little cafés, kids playing, people picnicking, but the park is huge, with woodland walks heading off in all directions. It is my happy place in Madrid, right in the heart of the city. In fact, as I write this it makes me yearn to go back!

In Just One Day – Autumn, Louisa heads to Bergamo in Italy. I love Bergamo! I haven’t been for a long time, but I’ve been a couple of times for work and a couple of times for a holiday. It’s one of those destinations Ryanair helped me get to easily and it didn’t cost so much to reach it. With its Città Alta and Città Bassa – literally ‘the high town’ and ‘the low town’, and its rich history, it sold itself to me the moment I stepped into it.

And it’s always nice to have a guide. I’ve been with Italian friends several times – somehow you always end up learning more when in the company of the natives!

But Bergamo for me is about the quintessential pavement cafés in the little squares, the tiny boutique shops and the guest house I fell in love with way up in the gods of the city. In Autumn, there is a classy hotel, Hotel Relais, which I’m hoping to visit at some point – naturally – because of all the wonderful things I mention about it in Autumn, but the shuttered windows and terracotta tiles of the guest house I visited will always stay with me, so much so I recommended to a friend for their honeymoon, and they went and had a fab time. 

And at the centre of all I love about travel, and how it features in my books, is food. Now, I’m the first to confess, I don’t cook much. I can cook, but to be honest, my husband’s a far better cook and it doesn’t take him three hours to cobble something together, nor does he have to painstakingly buy everything off a Jamie Oliver recipe before getting started in the kitchen! However, I love food, and eating it, and I love trying new food, from all over the world. Much of what we find in Spain and Italy is widely available in our supermarkets nowadays, but not all, and even if it is, we often don’t know, without help, what to do with these wonderful ingredients.

I have a confession to make: I like when people get hungry when they read my books! It means I have portrayed well the sights, smells and flavours of the food of the region I’m talking about. And both Madrid and Bergamo have plenty to offer, as you’ll see in the Just One Day series.

And if you fancy getting hungry whilst reading more of my books, may I suggest the cuisine of Tuscany in Sign of the Times, that of Barcelona in The Dating Game, or if you have a sweet tooth, that of all the Christmas cakes from around the world in The Christmas Spirit.

 Expect more travel in my books to come. Sicily features in the book I’m writing right now, and Hong Kong in the one after.

It really is true what they say – travel broadens the mind!

 

#Review By Lou of Cat Lady By Dawn O’ Porter #CatLady #DawnOPorter @hotpatooties @HarperCollinsUK @LizDawsonPR @fictionpubteam @RandomTTours #ContemporaryFiction #Cats #BlogTour

Cat Lady
By Dawn O’Porter

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thanks to Harper Collins PR Team and Random T Tours for the opportunity to review Cat Lady. How could I resist a book called Cat Lady, having, presently having a wonderful, funny, energetic cat myself and having also grown up with Gemma who lived for 20 years. The cat in the photo below is of my current cat, Millie in still single figure age. The book itself has warmth, strength, friendship, relationships, family, humour and emotion. Find the blurb and my review below.

Blurb

Single – independent – aloof – cunning – agile – cannot tamed

We’ve all known a cat lady – and we’ve probably all judged her too. But behind the label – the one that only sticks to women – what if there’s a story worth nine lives?

Told with Dawn’s trademark warmth, wit and irreverence, Cat Lady is a story about defying labels and forging friendships. It’s for the cat lady in all of us – because a woman always lands on her feet…

Millie, taken by Lou
Millie enjoying Cat Lady. All I did was put it down and she was all over it.

Review

Within the book, wrapped in the cuteness of a cat, there is a great human story too and both together makes this quite different and compelling, perhaps in someways a gentle reminder or instruction to lead your life and see where it ends up, even through all its ups and downs that it throws at you, and, if you have a cat, to treasure every moment with it.

There are 5 parts to Cat Lady – Mother, Career Woman, Animal, Wife, Cat Lady. So far, so intriguing, I thought as I then swiftly went beyond the contents page and into a prologue and then the first chapter. The prologue is a memory of Mia’s 8th birthday, and more memories are revealed and resurface at the beginning of each part from a time before tragedy had struck in her family, shaping, at least in part, her later life. Then moves into the rest of Mia’s day as the first chapter begins, which is at a church, sitting in a circle of 5 people in a support group and what a motley crew they make.

Mia is married to Tristan and in the earlier chapters you can almost see her brain ticking overtime, so eager to please, but over planning with no inch for any go with the flow attitudes in her life. She also has a cat – Pigeon, whom Tristan isn’t a fan of, but readers certainly will be.


Belinda also tries hard to show that she too can be perfect and also constantly tries to outshine Mia in everything, since she was Tristan’s first wife, but totally messed it up in eye-popping, jaw dropping fashion. She’s still in Mia and Tristan’s lives as they have a son, making this complex and compelling to see where it all leads, as does all the paths life takes Belinda in.

Life does have its good and difficult bits. I won’t say what, but it does, in amongst all the debates that occur whether to go down a certain path or not, even though what occurs is incredibly sad and left me a little shocked for a moment, I’m sort of pleased that Dawn O’Porter has had the nerve and had been brave enough to write what she has. When readers get to a certain part in the book, I think they’ll know what I mean.

4E5179B1-5B8E-4D3F-AE0C-52F29A481824