#Review By Lou of The Cottage in the Highlands By Julie Shackman @G13Julie @0neMoreChapter_ @rararesources #RomanticFiction #ScottishHighlands #SecondChances #ScottishScenery

The Cottage In The Highlands
By Julie Shackman 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Transport yourself to rural Scotland, so rural is this cottage, it is located in the Highlands. Open the pages and discover that rural doesn’t mean devoid of life, there’s plenty of that to explore in this mysterious part of Scotland… Discover firstly, the blurb and review below… Thanks first to Rachel Random Resources for inviting me to review.

Blurb

When Leonie Baxter finds herself out of a job and out of a relationship, she’s at her wits end. Her life has just been turned upside down and she needs a plan, fast.

By chance, on a walk with her rescue puppy, Leonie stumbles across a striking house in the woods; fully furnished but unoccupied. As a journalist, she is determined to find out more, after all, reporting is in her nature.

But her attempts are thwarted by Lily Cruickshank who lives in the cottage next door. Why won’t Lily help Leonie? And who is the mysterious Flynn Talbot, whose letter Leonie finds inside the house?

And in uncovering the secrets of the abandoned house, will Leonie open her own heart and let love back into her life?

The brand new escapist story from the bestselling author of A Secret Scottish Escape and A Scottish Highland Surprise, for fans of Jo Thomas, Trisha Ashley and Cathy Bramley.

Review 

The Highlands, full of beautiful scenery, romance and mystery and Julie Shackleton brings it all into this lovely book. There are secrets and twists as well as charming characters, coupled together with that second chance at life.

Leonie is the main character who is a journalist, recently losing her job through changes in the way the industry is being made to work, so in a way it really highlights cause and effect and how certain actions can be detrimental to people’s jobs. Leonie gets lucky and gets a chance to have a new life adventure in the Highlands of Scotland, with new people to meet, perhaps some beckoning romance, and a cottage to open up and be in. As she looks round the cottage she finds a mysterious letter…

This is a charming book set in beautiful scenery but with so much to uncover and to delight and be intrigued in.

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#BookReview By Lou of A Cosy Christmas With The Village Vet By Eliza J. Scott @ElizaJScott1 #ChristmasRead #Uplifting #ContemporaryFiction @rararesources

A Cosy Christmas Vet
By Eliza J. Scott

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’m reviewing A Cosy Christmas with the Village Vet, thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me onto the blog tour for this Christmas idyll.

Blurb

It’s the most magical time of the year! Will Brogan and Nick find the happiness they crave so they can celebrate the festive season?

Christmas has always been a special time for Brogan, especially since her move to her grandparents’ smallholding. Set near the picturesque village of Lytell Stangdale in the middle of the North Yorkshire Moors, it’s an idyllic location. But with the loss of her beloved grandparents still raw, she’s struggling to find her festive spirit.

Talked into going to a wedding by her friends, Brogan finds herself sitting next to a rather handsome stranger. Thinking she’ll never seen him again, she dusts off her flirting skills and lets her fun-loving side loose.

Newly single Nick Heuston was dreading going to his friend’s wedding. But a chance encounter with a woman with captivating green and eyes makes him think otherwise. He’s gutted when she disappears without leaving any way for him to contact her.

Telling himself he needs a break from relationships, Nick intends to focus all his attention on his job as a vet at a new practice. It proves easier said than done; he just can’t get Brogan out of his mind.

Meanwhile, Brogan’s been looking forward to starting her new job as a vet nurse at the new local practice.

On their first day at Danskelfe Veterinary Surgery, both are stunned when they come face-t0-face once more – something Nick seems very happy about, but Brogan’s not so sure.

Despite her reluctance, it would seem fate is keen to push them together, and Brogan finds her feelings for Nick growing. As for Nick, the more he gets to know Brogan, the more he finds himself falling for her.

Just when their romance looks ready to bloom, something or someone seems to get in its way.

Will Christmas work its magic? Or are Brogan and Nick destined to be nothing more than a brief encounter?

Why not join Brogan and Nick, together with their canine companions Wilf and Maudie – and all the familiar Life on the Moors characters – for a heartwarming, festive trip to the moors?

Review

This is a cosy book set in Yorkshire. It has community, romance and all the spirit of Christmas going on in it. It is an easy-going, snuggle up tight and warmly kind of book and let your mind drift into this kindly community, with its Christmas spirit and easygoing chat and banter.

There are sparks of romance when Brogan, looking forward to her new job posting as a vet, had seen a stranger she never counted on seeing again, but then all of a sudden, around her new practice, there he is.

There are tensions here and there, but ultimately it’s got that uplifting Christmas feel.

#BookExtracts By Lou of #Unlocked – a #Charity #Book supporting #TheTrussellTrust By@D20Authors @LoveBooksTours #BlogTour

Today I have a very special book that I can reveal 2 excerpts from. All profits of sale of this anthology – UNLOCKED will go to THE TRUSSELL TRUST. The TRUSSELL TRUST is a large food bank charity in the UK. Find out more about them in the link:The Trussell Trust. As you meander down you’ll discover the cover, the blurb and 2 extracts from the book.

Trussell Trust 

https://www.trusselltrust.org/what-we-do

We support a nationwide network of food banks and together we provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.

In the UK, more than 14 million people are living in poverty – including 4.5 million children. We support more than 1,200 food bank centres in the UK to provide a minimum of three days’ nutritionally-balanced emergency food to people who have been referred in crisis, as well as support to help people resolve the crises they face. Between April 2019 and March 2020, food banks in our network provided a record 1.9 million food supplies to people in crisis, an 18% increase on the previous year and during the coronavirus pandemic food banks have seen need rise even further. You can find out more about the impact of our work during the pandemic in our latest report, available here.

We know it takes more than food to end hunger. That’s why we recently launched our five year strategic plan. We know our goal to end the need for food banks is ambitious, but by working Together for Change, we believe it is achievable.


Blurb 

ALL PROFITS FROM UNLOCKED WILL BE DONATED TO THE TRUSSELL TRUST

From murder to magic, loss to love, Berlin to Bologna and everything in between, this brilliant anthology showcases 16 unique short stories from the D20 Authors, a best-selling group of writers whose debuts were published during the COVID 2020 lockdowns.

Meet the cleaner who won’t let anything stand between her and her job; the ocean diver with a mysterious mission; the pyromaniac driven by a painful compulsion; and the politician struggling to balance it all….

Compiled by best-selling author Philippa East, and covering everything from crime to romance, mystery to uplit, this multi-genre collection has a story for everyone. Contributors to UnLocked have been longlisted, shortlisted and winners of a variety of awards, including The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, The McIlvanney Prize for Best Scottish Crime Book, The Guardian’s Not-The-Booker Prize, The People’s Book Prize for Fiction, and the CWA New Dagger Award for best debut of the year.

With this superb anthology, the D20 Authors are delighted to be raising funds for the Trussell Trust, a charity who supports a nationwide network of food banks, and together they provide emergency food and support to people facing hardship, and campaign to end the need for food banks in the UK.

Get to know some of the best fiction writers publishing today, support the Trussell Trust and treat yourself to some great entertainment by reading this exceptional collection.

 

Contributors

Debra Barnes       Tom Benjamin                Caroline Bishop Emma Christie

  Catherine Cooper          Polly Crosby Victoria Dowd       Philippa East  

 Tim Ewins Gillian Harvey      Nydia Hetherington      Anna Jefferson

Penny Jenkins        Louise Mumford           Holly Race Rosie Walker

Here is the first of 2 excerpts.

THE CLEANER
LOUISE MUMFORD

I love my job.
 
Noble profession, cleaning. You take the chaos and mess of people’s lives, the smears and stains and overflowing
bins, and you create order from it – you show them the gleam that lies underneath. You show them the potential.
Of course, then they mess it up again.
 
Some people might think this new job of mine weird, I guess. After all, I’m still working in the same building, on the
same floor – in fact, I can even see my old desk. Nine to five, five days a week, twenty years: Mr Dedicott’s Personal
Assistant. Sounds fancier than it was, but I didn’t mind that – I’m not fancy.
It was a big change, leaving. If I had my time again, would I have done anything different? Of course, yes. But things
are what they are. I can’t change them.
 
I’m here for a reason.
 
And it’s not because of my love for emptying bins.
We work the night shift, which suits me. I’m not so good in the day anymore; I feel a bit fuzzy around the edges,
floating from one place to another in a daze half the time. It’s taken me a while to settle in. I don’t mean in terms of
banter and swapping trashy gossip mags with the others, I mean the effort of it. It’s hard work. Hoovering, wiping,
lifting, moving, bleaching. The concentration. No wonder I’m a wreck in the daytime.
 
I always do my desk first. No, not my desk anymore, I have to remember that. His. They replaced me with a man.
Just a lad, I saw him the one time, skinny legs in those terrible tight suit trousers which young men wear nowadays,
the kind that look as if they cut off circulation to the brain. I’m sure he’s competent at his job.
But he’s not me.
 

And onto the second

THE REEF

EMMA CHRISTIE

Now, her breath was everything.
She pictured her lungs, fat with life. The muffled whisper of each inhale and exhale was amplified by the snorkel tube,
made her feel bigger than she was.
 
But more guilty.
 
She sighed then swam through the sound of it, repeating one phrase in her head.
Alan made me do this.
 
She headed back to the boat, grunting as she pulled herself onto the narrow metal steps hung over the side. She
wanted to reach for Alan’s chaffed hands, feel them grip her freezing, slippery fingers. She wanted him to haul her
over the side of the boat like a prize catch, to wrap her in an oversized towel and bring her the last of the whisky. Not
this. Never this.
 
She had one foot on the top rung when the boat lurched to her side, throwing her back into the water. She tried again,
fell again, then gave up. She’d swim for a while instead, watch life.
The sea was calm today. A few fish inspected the sandy floor, bellies flashing green and blue and silver when they
turned and caught the light. Some swam alone, hunting and hunted. But mostly they moved together, stayed low and
headed towards the reef. Towards Alan.
 
She started swimming after them, then hesitated and checked her watch. Grief clogged her throat. The worst part –
the watching part – wouldn’t be over yet. There would still be movement, traces of loss. No, she’d stay well away until
Alan was definitely gone. She turned around and kicked hard, one arm stretched ahead of her as she powered
through the water. She kept the other arm by her side, hand gripping the smooth handle of the harpoon gun.
 

A quick reminder of what The Trussell Trust does

Trussell Trust 

https://www.trusselltrust.org/what-we-do/

We support a nationwide network of food banks and together we provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.

In the UK, more than 14 million people are living in poverty – including 4.5 million children. We support more than 1,200 food bank centres in the UK to provide a minimum of three days’ nutritionally-balanced emergency food to people who have been referred in crisis, as well as support to help people resolve the crises they face. Between April 2019 and March 2020, food banks in our network provided a record 1.9 million food supplies to people in crisis, an 18% increase on the previous year and during the coronavirus pandemic food banks have seen need rise even further. You can find out more about the impact of our work during the pandemic in our latest report, available here.

We know it takes more than food to end hunger. That’s why we recently launched our five year strategic plan. We know our goal to end the need for food banks is ambitious, but by working Together for Change, we believe it is achievable.

#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?…

#Review By Lou of – The Titanic Tunnel By Glen Blackwell @GBlackwellBooks @RamdomTTours #BlogTour #ChildrensBooks #MiddleGrade #TheTitanic #TheTitanicTunnel

The Titanic Tunnel
By Glen Blackwell 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Suitable for ages 9 to 12, this book sweeps readers into an adventure and back in time onto the Titanic. I am pleased to be closing this blog tour with a review. Thanks to Random T. Tours for inviting me. Find out more below…

Synopisis

 
Emmie & Jack are on a school trip with a difference. Visiting
Belfast to see where Titanic was built, they step back to 1912 and
discover the great ship itself. All too soon, they find out that the
way home is blocked, and Jack gets dragged off to work by one of
the crew. Who is the mysterious stranger lurking in the shadows,
and can they solve his time riddle to escape from the doomed ship
before it is too late…?

Review

Emmie and Jack are on a school trip to visit The Titanic and museum, all seems perfectly normal until they step in and find themselves transported back in time on an adventure of a lifetime. They land in 1912 and all at sea onboard The Titanic. Jack however, is dragged off, leaving Emmie alone to find him. She also doesn’t anticipate coming across a woman called Mary who also has someone missing. Emmie is acutely aware it is  a race against time to find those who are missing and get off the ship before it sinks. It is full of adventure and adversity, as well as facts embedded within this exciting story that is told through children of present day. It is a great book for 9 to 12 year olds who like adventure,  mystery to solve and history.

B2EFA169-D03F-47E5-AD91-A3B67978FEFE

#Writeup of an #authortalk with Chris Brookmyre and Jenny Colgan, #Books, #Music #Festivals #Writing and more @jennycolgan @cbrookmyre

A Write-up of a talk between Chris Brookmyre and Jenny Colgan
Event took place on 27th July 2022

The event was held by Stirling Waterstones upstairs in a pub in Stirling, Scotland called The Curly Coo (or The Curly Cow for those abroad wondering what a coo is).
Chris Brookmyre’s book is – The Cliff House and Jenny Colgan’s book is – An Island Wedding.
Both are available to purchase now!
Review Link for The Cliff House – link is also after my write-up here as are links to The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, Bloody Scotland and website and social media links.

Jenny and Chris books

Although both authors do not have the commonality of crime fiction/mystery within their new books, they do share the theme of a party.

The talk covered their books, writing, music and more…

I have included a link to my book review of The Cliff House By Chris Brookmyre within this for those who haven’t seen the separate post of it. I am yet to read The Island Wedding by Jenny Colgan.

Me and Jenny

Me and Chris

Me and Jenny Colgan

Me and Chris Brookmyre

The atmosphere was jovial and warm. The talk was mostly humorous and they treated those who attended to a reading of extracts from their books. They talked about the last time they met to do a talk together was in 2006 in Shetland. Chris Brookmyre recalled that William McIllvanney was on the audience guestlist and how that felt.

They talked about if and when they re-read their books. 2008 was the last time Chris Brookmyre last read one of his old books as he was writing a sequel.
A rather scary aspect of the talk was when Jenny Colgan talked about a book she had written and how the USA branded the 1990s as historical fiction.
They talked about each others books and how Chris Brookmyre writes books from different characters points of view, which you will see in The Cliff House.

Weddings and Parties

What is interesting and was brought up as they talked, was the fact that in lockdown, weddings were cancelled and people postponed them (a family member of mine, included) and how everyone knew what that was like, and how now there are many books set around parties.
I, myself have seen and got some books to review that are and seems to be quite a big theme this year as Chris Brookmyre talks about how people are writing vicariously about parties after being in lockdown and mentions authors such as Lin Anderson and Claire MacIntosh.
Jenny Colgan talked excitedly about how she writes about all different weddings; she also loved doing the research for them, especially for the most extravagant weddings and just to enjoy wedding again. It was interesting hearing how her attitude has changed to wanting to go to them all and with a gift, from pre-pandemic and wondering whether she wanted to or not and the cost of a gift etc.
Chris Brookmyre interestingly talked about how he was inspired by people going to private islands. His island is fictionalised and he seems to like that he could make up his own rules. He talked about this for the many genres he writes.
Jenny Colgan also creates a bit of fiction in her places and advised people not to write about where you live, unless perhaps it is a city and alluded to how that would be different as there isn’t so much of a very tight-knit close community, whereas people may recognise themselves or think they do in somewhere small.
Chris Brookmyre talked a bit about his book and its concepts of his character Jen getting married again and can’t accept the concept of happiness as seems all too good to be true, but has a hen party anyway. He talked about friendships and how there are different levels of this, some you see a lot, but don’t actually truly know and people who you may not trust, which are concepts within the book.
The island itself, he describes is as like an upmarket Airbnb. It is a book of 7 points of view. When asked about why the characters were all women, he stated he wanted to write about women and not men and alluded that it would be a very different story if the characters were men.
He talked a bit about “And Then There We’re None by Agatha Christie” and how books, such as his are often compared to this, but talked about how they differ and one of the ways is that was a story of retribution but his book is essentially about forgiveness of themselves.
He later talked about liking mismatched crime books.

Writing and Marketing

The talk moved onwards to the interesting topic of covers, but without getting into it all too deeply and heavy. They mainly focussed on the pink covers, since both of them have pink on them and there are a few around in many genres just now. They pointed out that the “pink” etc doesn’t necessarily show much about what is lurking inside the content of a book.
They talked about marketing a little bit in-terms of genres, marketing spaces. Jenny Colgan declared she didn’t really believe in genre. For Chris Brookmyre, he said the term “Tartan Noir” was good for marketing but his book – The Cliff House is more uplifting and about friendships, so less “noir”.
They talked about timers within books. The writer has got to solve the murder at a certain stage, in a rom-com the writer has got to get their characters together before Xmas. When writing different genres, Jenny Colgan reckons she doesn’t find that too difficult, but does however find it hard to kill off characters.
She also alluded that it is a bit different for Doctor Who as this is an already created person. It was fascinating hearing about the pecking order and the way Doctor Who works for writers.
Like Jenny Colgan, and perhaps even more so, Chris Brookmyre writes in many genres and how he is Ambrose Parry when he writes historical fiction, with Marissa, his wife, who sounds like she likes rules, plotting and planning, so he revealed he does a bit more of that now, but still likes the element of surprise in the direction his characters take him in. He also talked about something exciting happening with Netflix.
Jenny Colgan on the other-hand isn’t a fan of overly researching, but does do some.
Jenny Colgan added to how she writes and had a bit of advise for new writers and says you can start at 200 words and write to that target and then get on with the rest of the day (she writes thousands and then gets on with her day, but says hundreds is also fine). They both talked about getting the first draft down, in brief, they say that this needs to be finished and then it can be fixed after that and also write about what you know.

Music 

Chris Brookmyre is a member of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals and they will be playing at The Edinburgh Fringe 2022.

Jenny Colgan can play the piano and recently learnt how to play the harp.

Thanks

I thank both authors for the photos and for signing my books, which I now treasure.

 Links