#Review by Lou of The Imperfect Art of Caring By Jessica Ryn @Jessryn1 @alliyabouyis @HQstories @HarperCollins #BlogTour #Fiction #ContemporaryFiction

The Imperfect Art of Caring
By Jessica Ryn

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Realistic, identifiable and heartwarming. The Imperfect Art of Caring shows so much in its character’s lives. Find the full review below the blurb. Thanks first to HQ Stories for gifting me the book and for having me on the blog tour.

Blurb

The Imperfect Art of CaringOne small act can make a big difference

Violet Strong is strong by name but not by nature, or so she thinks. She listens but never talks about herself. She’s friendly but doesn’t have many real friends. She’s become good at keeping people at a distance ever since she left home at eighteen and never looked back.

But when Violet is forced to return home to care for her estranged mother, Glenys, she quickly finds out that life as a carer isn’t easy. Feeling overwhelmed, she’s forced to turn to the other local carers, including childhood friend, Adam, for help.

Although returning home still feels like a mistake, maybe it will help Violet right some wrongs. After all, she can’t keep running from her past forever, and in learning to look after others, perhaps Violet can start to finally love herself…

Review

Caring, it’s a position so many people find themselves in and there are the challenging conversations to have with family for what to do for best. This is the situation sisters Violet and Jodie find themselves in, when it comes to the time to chat about what to do with their mum, Glenys. Then there’s also the added complexity that Violet hasn’t seen Jodie for years and what to do with her mum’s house, thinking of residential care and also caring for her in the interim period, whilst they decide what to do for best and sort out necessary arrangements. There’s also the assessments, when Violet, ends up looking into care homes and the way that Glenys is feels true to life.

There is some humour and some lovely descriptions and book series titles, blogs, life to be lived, which gives it a 3 dimensional feel, because when you’re dealing with caring there are other things going on too and the world doesn’t just stop. This book is heartwarming and shows kindness within its characters.

The book moves onto Tammy, who is also needing care. There’s only her and her mum and Tammy, who has a disability is trying to live independently, something that her mum finds a bit hard to get her head around at times. The descriptions of how silence is, is intense.
Their stories converge as they end up being neighbours. There are thoughtful, poignant moments throughout and some wise advice from a guy called Adam Croft.
It’s interesting seeing Tammy trying to get on with her life, but also bearing in mind all that her mum has told her. Violet also helps a bit and gives some sound advice. There’s also a search for Tammy’s father, but also a bit of doubt kicks in as to whether it is a good idea or not. In the meantime, it is interesting and positive seeing Tammy progress in life.

For both Violet’s and Tammy’s stories of how life is playing out for them, there is strength of character through the emotions and the getting through life the best they can. There is also a bit of potential romance in the offering.

There’s the highs and lows of caring that are within the book and whether you’re caring for someone or not, even though this is a fictional book, there’s lots both sets of people can take away with them. For carers, it is that it is an “Imperfect Art of Caring” that people try their best to muddle through, and also gives ideas of how to find some support.
For the cared for, there is the drive and determination running through life as well as support.
For those who don’t care for anyone in the sense that this book is talking about, it gives a pretty good picture of the situations faced, at least from a point of view, but without being too heavy.

There’s also the care shown for libraries and a campaign to support them, which is pleasing as so many are lost. It also demonstrates that they are places to ask people for help in. It’s short, but really stands out.

The book is realistic and shows that caring is indeed an “Imperfect Art”, which, anyone who is caring for someone in any situation will know and will have experienced some of what is in the book to a certain extent, depending on situations, including juggling their own life. I see the book as pretty realistic as I am an unpaid carer, writing a blog and juggling other life things as well as caring.

Dead Mercy By Noelle Holten @nholten40 @0neMoreChapter_ @HarperCollinsUK @BOTBSPublicity #CrimeFiction A #DCMaggieJamiesonNovel #Thriller #BlogTour

Dead Mercy
By Noelle Holten

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Today I am very pleased to be on the blog tour for the dark, gritty, visceral thriller – Dead Mercy by Noelle Holten. Discover more in the blurb and my review below. Opinions are my own. Thanks to One More Chapter for gifting me the book and to Books on The Bright Side for inviting me to review for the blog tour.

Dead mercy cover

Blurb

‘Hugely confident … harrowing, visceral … recommended’ Ian Rankin on Dead Inside

A brutal murder…

When a burned body is found with its teeth missing, DC Maggie Jamieson discovers that the victim may be the husband of one of her probation colleagues.

A dark history…

As the body count rises, the team becomes increasingly baffled by how the victims could possibly be connected until a clue leads them to a historical case that was never prosecuted.

A terrible secret…

In order to catch the killer, Maggie must piece together what happened all those years ago before it’s too late.

Review

Visceral and spine-tingling from the start – Dead Mercy sees DC Maggie Jamieson in an awkward situation. There is a  murder is brutal as brutal can be where the victim may be related to a probation officer under her wing. Then the bodies really start to rack up. It’s dark, harrowing and yet, perhaps because you’re at home or somewhere safe and the writing is strong, it’s not only going to give you a shiver down the spine with the dark tension created, but pulls you into its twists and turns as Maggie really digs deep and pushes hard to track down the killer.

There’s also a journalist digging around the investigation, which almost displeases Maggie as she is concerned that she will say or do something that will tip off the murderer that the police are onto the person who is committing such heinous crimes. There are pretty dark secrets that start to emerge. It’s an enthralling rollercoaster read that has much grit within it.

The veil is pulled back on the criminal justice system in the UK in a fictional sense, but gives readers a sense of it through some of the details and plot drive.

The book, although part of a series can be read as a stand alone too. All in all, it’s a strong book!

About the Author

Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog. Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

Connect with Noelle on Social Media here:

Subscribe to Newsletter: http://ow.ly/cgww50BkBtt    Twitter: (@nholten40) https://twitter.com/nholten40

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noelleholtenauthor/  Blog FB page: https://www.facebook.com/crimebookjunkie/

Instagram: @author_noelleholten          Website: https://www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk

                            Bookbub Author page : https://bit.ly/2LkT4LB

dead mercy tour poster

#BookReview By Lou of The Family Man By Kimberley Chambers @kimbochambers @HarperCollinsUK #RandomTTours #GangsterCrime #CrimeFiction #GangsterFiction

The Family Man
By Kimberley Chambers

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Family Man Graphic 4

Spectacular and mightily gritty with a fast pace. This is slick gangster crime with edge, at its best!
Thanks to Random Things Tours for inviting me to review and to Harper Collins for providing an exquisite Limited Gold Edition of the book. Follow down to find out more in the blurb and the rest of my review below…

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Blurb

A brand-new series from the queen of gritty crime

A fascinating interviewee and a brilliant raconteur, Kimberley has appeared on BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 4 Saturday Live, Loose Ends and Front Row, BBC Radio 2 Graham Norton and the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio…

The Family Man Graphic 2MEET THE BONDS…
Kenny Bond is finally out of prison after doing a long stretch for killing a copper, and is determined to get back to life on the straight and narrow. He’s got a lot of time to make up for, he’s missed his beloved wife, Sharon, and his family is growing up fast.
A FAMILY LIKE NO OTHER…
Kenny’s son Donny might lack his father’s edge but his twin grandsons, Beau and Brett – well, they are Bonds through and through. Like him, they won’t let anyone stand in their way.
BUT THEY’RE ABOUT TO MEET THEIR MATCH…
Family comes before everything else for Kenny. There’s nothing he won’t do for them. But there are enemies from his past he can’t shake off, and a family feud is brewing. Kenny’s determined that nothing, and no one, will threaten his family. But can the Bond family stick together when someone’s out to take them down?

Family Man Graphic 3 (1)

Review

The Family Man is fast-paced and enthralling. It’s full of grit and pulls readers into the authenticity of the underground of a gangland family.

The Family Man tells the story of The Bond family throughout the 1980’s and into the 1990’s. For a gangster family you really get the sense of those family bonds and the whole juxtopositions that is especially embodied in Kenny, who is a gangster and murderer, yet really cares about his family. Don’t be mistaken, there is nothing that is cosy and warm as such. This book feels authentic in language and situations used. It has bags of intense grit that builds from Wormwood Scrubs and throughout the book.

The bonds between the family are put to the test and there’s someone after them… It puts into question how far someone will go to protect their family, even in the gangland world.

It’s interesting reading how Sharon, a devoted wife to Kenny Bond, really feels about things as she has spent so much time standing by her man, even though he was banged up in prison. The relationships in this family and strong feelings really come through in this, at times, visceral book.

There, even in such an underground of life, is emotion in many ways, felt by the characters, simmering away, but all the while, in the forefront is that knowledge they are gangsters. The family feud that brews and betrayal, adds another level of intensity and grit.

About the Author

Kimberley Chambers Author PIcA truly unforgettable character, Kimberley injects authenticity into her gritty gangland crime novels set around the east end. She came to writing later in life, having worked as a street trader (being promoted from tea girl to sales when she rugby-tackled a shoplifter), a DJ and a cabbie.
Fed up of scraping a living, she set her mind to writing a novel, despite being laughed at by friends and family, who dubbed her ‘a female Del-Boy’. But with her creative mind, colourful life experiences and memorable covering letter (‘Take a chance on me, you won’t regret it. This time next year I’ll be wearing Prada, not Primark’), she quickly had five agents knocking at her door and a publishing contract. Fifteen novels and three Sunday Times number ones later, she’s top of her game and an incredible inspiration.
Join Kimberley’s legion of legendary fans facebook.com/kimberleychambersofficial on and
@kimbochambers on Twitter.

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#BookReview by Lou of Hot Desk by Zara Stoneley @ZaraStoneley @0neMoreChapter_ @HarperCollinsUK #Romcom #Fiction #OfficeReturn #OfficeRomance #Humour #Uplifting

Hot Desk
By Zara Stoneley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hot Desk provides great escapism that is packed full of delightful entertainment  with really good humour and romance.

Thank you to One More Chapter (Harper Collins UK) for gifting me a copy of Hot Desk and giving me the opportunity to review.

Follow onto the blurb and my full review below.

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Blurb

Same desk, different days. A post-it note is just the beginning…

A must read for fans of Beth O’Leary, Mhairi McFarlane and Sophie Kinsella!

Alice loves her job and wants to keep it – whatever the price. But then she’s told the company is switching to flexible working and hot desking…Alice’s desk might look a mess, but she knows exactly where everything is. Or she did. Until she found out she’s going to share it with the most annoying guy in the office.
 
Jamie can work from anywhere. He’s quite happy to sweep his work life into a box at the end of the working day. But can sharing a desk with Alice be as much fun as teasing her in person?
 
With no option but to try it and see, will their relationship turn into open warfare or will it ever progress beyond a post-it note?

Review

Hot DeskHot Desk is set post Covid-19 and people are adjusting to being back in the office with new working practices. Something so many office workers would now be able to relate to. This reality is there, but it’s not all about Covid-19. This is about Alice and how she handles going back to the office of ‘We Got Designs’. It presents itself, even from the first page, to be a very funny book indeed. The comic-timing in the writing is divine. A little bit further in and there is the clear signs of romantic frission between her and fellow colleague – Jamie and it is so well written. It’s great that this is set out near the beginning and then to see how this progresses. It’s a bit like listening into office gossip when reading Hot Desk. It’s all rather a deliciously enticing book that is so entertaining that it compels you to read to see how it all plays out.

There are serious notes to the story too, one being the real fear of the office’s future. There is also the whole fear of hot desking looming and then becoming a reality, with all the terms and conditions attached and the emotion that goes with it. Readers will be able to relate to how things can be when a desk is no longer your own. Alice finds out she has to hot desk with Jamie, so confides in her friend Lou quite a bit.

There is a sweet growing romance that sprouts in the office and yet in a light way, also brings endangered animals and conservation into the conversation. It’s lovely to organically watch Alice and Jamie getting to know each other.

Ultimately this is a rom-com that is properly funny and properly romantic. The mix of these ingredients with the premise of returning to the office and having to share a desk works wonderfully well and makes me smile. Readers can watch this office to see if the spark of their romance grows further into a sizzle or not, even with all the new things to get to grip with, this element still lives on.
After a hard day’s work, whether you’re in an office or not, Hot Desk provides entertaining, sweet and touching escapism that hits the spot very well indeed.

#BookReview by Lou – Freckles by Cecelia Ahern @Cecelia_Ahern @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK @RandomTTours #Freckles #Fiction

Freckles
By Cecelia Ahern

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Freckles Graphic 2

Freckles is a warm and well-observed book with interesting concepts.
Find out more in the blurb and the rest of my review below, as well as a bit about the author.
Firstly, thanks to Random T Tours for inviting me to the blog tour to review and to Harper Collins for this opportunity and for an e-book.

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Blurb

Freckles Graphic‘Freckles is a beautiful, hopeful book when the world needs hope most. Cecelia has written a novel about our search for our authentic selves in a crazy world. Like all her novels, it’s inspiring, life-affirming and full of insight’ CATHY KELLY
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with… When a stranger utters these words to Allegra Bird, nicknamed Freckles, it turns her highly ordered life upside down. In her current life as a parking warden, she has left her eccentric father and unconventional childhood behind for a bold new life in the city.
But a single encounter leads her to ask the question she’s been avoiding for so long: who are the people who made her the way she is? And who are the five people who can shape and determine her future?
Just as she once joined the freckles on her skin to mirror the constellations in the night sky, she must once again look for connections.
Told in Allegra’s vivid, original voice, moving from Dublin to the fierce Atlantic coast, this is an unforgettable story of human connection, of friendship, and growing into your own skin.
Five people. Five stars. Freckle to freckle. Star to star.

Review

Freckles 3D CoverFreckles is a bit like 6 degrees of separation in some ways and an interesting concept to find connections. Allegra Bird is otherwise known as Freckles, who is by and large an interesting character and yet someone readers will be able to connect to. It begins with her connecting her own actual freckles in different, creative ways and gets her thinking about life connections and how it can shape a person. It’s a though-provoking concept and one that makes you think about who are the 5 people you are most connected in life and in what ways they play a part in making you who you are as she tells you that you are the average of 5 people.

Freckles is a “plan A” type of person and has grit and determination to stick with it, no “plan B”, until the first plan doesn’t work and she ends up being a parking warden with Fingal County Council, so she’s not totally inflexible and it’s close to her desires. She’s an enjoyable character to discover more about, as is where she is based – Malahide, a real place, near Dublin, with its beautiful scenery, which Cecelia Ahern presents so well and truly paints a picture of there and Valentia.

Freckles tells her story in the first person and of the people she meets and the routines she has, such as the bakery she goes to and who serves her. The writing is so accomplished and is so well thought out that it is almost like you are following Freckles around her lifestyle. From the start you’re pulled into her life in the present and also get a peek into her past, when she was at boarding school. The past, especially is written in such a way that you could be sitting next to Freckles having a wonderfully fascinating conversation.

Readers will meet Becky and Donnacha, who she babysits for;  Pops, who loves music; Paddy who is a work colleague; a person who is a Great Dane Walker and Spanner who is a baker, each with interesting lives, some also with secrets. There’s friendship and human connectivity at the heart of this story, how people’s paths cross, how some become part of routines, yet not taken for granted. It also tells a story about how lives aren’t always rosy. Freckles however seems a positive and friendly person to get to know and it is fascinating to see who outwith her family at each stage of her life had some influence in her character building. It’s a book that may make you do some introspection too as Freckles leads you down the path of self-discovery and also having the desire, even if it seems impossible to write letters to certain people, which certainly brings a different slant to things, with some added warmth and humour.

Freckles is a heartwarming and entertaining book to explore and by then discover who connects to who and how they all connect back to Freckles.

About the Author

Cecelia Ahern Author PicCecelia Ahern is one of the biggest selling authors to emerge in the past fifteen years, having sold more than 25 million copies worldwide in over 50 countries.
Two of her books have been adapted as major films and she has created several TV series in the US and Germany. Her novel PS I Love You was a New York Times bestseller and huge #1 bestseller in Ireland and the UK. In 2007, it was made into a major film starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler and most recently,
Cecelia wrote the sequel- Postscript which was an instant bestseller.

Cecelia has written 13 bestselling novels including two YA novels and a critically acclaimed collection of short stories, ROAR which is being produced by and starring Nicole Kidman. Her novels have resonated with readers everywhere through their thoughtful, unique and inspiring storytelling and have won numerous awards.
Cecelia lives in Dublin with her family. To find out more please visit http://www.cecelia-ahern.com

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#BookRevew by Lou – Dead Secret by Noelle Holten @nholten40 @0neMoreChapter @BOTBSPublicity #CrimeFiction #DeadSecret #DCMaggieJamiesonNovel

There are psychopaths within Dead Secret, the latest in this series by Noelle Holten. Such a case to solve and so many secrets to uncover along the way, that keeps you guessing. Readers are in for a treat, all be it, a dark twisted one… Today I have the priviledge of kicking off the blog tour, thanks to BOTBSPublicity and One More Chapter for inviting me and for gifting me a book.
Find out more in the blurb and review…

Dead Secret Banner

Blurb

Dead Secret coverPsychopaths can take root in the unlikeliest soil…

DC Maggie Jamieson crosses paths once again with Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood when a domestic violence survivor stumbles into her new refuge, unable to speak, desperate for help.

Then another case hits Maggie’s desk. A young man has been murdered, and a curious constellation of black dots has been inked onto his cheek.

That’s when DCI Hastings goes missing and Maggie uncovers a shocking connection that turns the case on its head.

Every family may hide secrets, but not every family buries them…

Review

This is a twisty and authentic book, as are all the books in this series. Dead Secret is compelling to say the least and psychopath’s are indeed on the loose.

DCI Hastings and his family are missing and a young man has been murdered, meaning DCI Maggie Jamieson has a lot of ground to cover to work out what is going on, not to mention the domestic violence survivor, who Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood deals with at her refuge, so means their paths cross. It turns out it isn’t easy for the domestic violence survivor to speak up about what happened to her, which adds into the layers of believability, necessary for such a storyline.
With all this going on, their lives are busy enough, but then there’s also the press to deal with. DCI Maggie spars quite a bit with the journalists, especially Julia.

In the police station itself, it is interesting reading further into the relationships between the officers, how they communicate to each other and how some of the dynamics have now changed, which refreshes things a bit.

This book keeps you guessing what’s going to happen next and what the connections are in the people the police are dealing with. There are lots of acronyms, perhaps almost on the same scale as Line of Duty, but like that series, it’s easy to get a grasp of what they all mean, well, I find this anyway.

The book in all its aspects is expertly written and also feels very authentic. It is also gripping right up to and including the last chapter. There’s a very good pace and all the characters are pretty strong, but with vulnerabilities that creep in.

About the Author

Noelle HoltenNoelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog. Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

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