Thursday, 22 February 2018

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman - Book Review

Today I am reviewing the delightful The Garden of Small Beginnings which is published today

Genre:  Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Publication Date:  22 February 2018
Publisher:  Sphere

The place where friendship grows ........

In the three years since her husband died in a car accident, Lili has just about managed to resume her day-to-day life as a single mother and successful illustrator. She can now get her two girls to school, show up to work and watch TV like a pro. But there's still the small problem of the aching loss she feels inside.

When she's commissioned to illustrate a series of horticultural books, and signs up to a weekly gardening class, finally her life starts to blossom again. The class provides Lili with a new network of unexpected friends – friends with their own heartaches and problems – and, maybe, another chance at love . . .

Set in Southern California, The Garden of Small Beginnings is a lovely, poignant, sad but very funny look at life from the roots of friendship to the blooming of romance ........
Lili is still recovering from the shock of losing her beloved husband but her sister Rachel thinks she's ready for a new romance - Lili's disinterested but that doesn't stop Rachel from trying to match her up with any available eligible man.  
The interactions between the sisters is one of many hilarious moments in the story.  I laughed and giggled so much at their dry sense of humour.
They both attend the weekly gardening class, together with Lili's adorable and also very funny two young daughters and they meet an odd but very friendly assortment of people.  A retired banker, two teachers, a surfer dude and a single mother, not to mention the very dishy teacher Edward.
In between the chapters are filled with gardening tips, which was written in a brilliant tongue in cheek way.
This is a wonderful story of the unexpected events that happen in our lives, some tragic, some happy, and of the consequences and how we deal with those events, it's about friendships and people...... it's honest and uplifting and emotional.....and I loved it!


Born in England, Abbi Waxman has worked as a copywriter and then a creative director at various advertising agencies in London and New York, including Ogilvy and Mather, Y&R, Grey, and Wunderman. After successfully ghost-writing Nicole Ritchie's novel, Abbi quit advertising, and turned to writing of her own. Abbi lives in Los Angeles with her husband, three kids, three dogs, three cats and seven chickens.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

A Year of New Adventures by Maddie Please - Blog Tour & Guest Post

Today I am featuring Maddie Please with her hilarious new book A Year of New Adventures and Maddie has written a guest post especially for my blog telling us five things about her!

Genre:  Holiday humour
Publication Date:  5 February 2018
Publisher:  Avon
Estimated Page Count:  400

Amazon UK:
Book Depository:

It’s time for Billie Summers to have an adventure … but it might not be exactly what she expected.

Billie Summers has always been quite content in her little cottage in the Cotswolds, sure half the house hasn’t been renovated, but what’s the point when it’s only her! Working part-time at her uncle’s bookshop and planning 3-4 writer retreats with her best friend allows her to pay the bills. What more could anyone want?

That is until Oliver Forest, the bad boy of the book world, turns up to one of her retreats and points out that Billie hasn’t done anything very adventurous. Couple that with her best friend falling head over heels and beginning to drift away from their Friday night wine and dinner plans, Billie is starting to wonder if it isn’t time she take control of her life.

So she starts a list: get fitted (properly) for a bra, fix up rest of house, find a ‘career’ and well, get a tattoo … Her life might just get the makeover it needs, too bad irritating and far-too-attractive for his own good, Oliver keeps showing up …

Because sometimes you need an adventure!

Guest Post by author Maddie Please

Five Things About Me.

  1. When it comes to food I like temperature extremes. Very cold, hard ice cream. None of that soft, whippy stuff for me! Very hot chilli, soup, lasagne. Anything tepid or just warm is a no-no.

  1. I love making bread. I went on a one-day course with Exeter Cookery School @cookinexeter recently and had a great time. I’m thinking of going to their French Bistro Course next.

  1. My ideal holiday is a road trip to America with my husband. I know it’s not the cool thing to say but I love America. Every time I go there I am amazed by the people, the landscape, the sheer size of the country.

  1. I love the Tudor period in history and I can’t resist buying every book I see on the subject - particularly about Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. Even though I know it won’t end well for either of them!

  1. I’m a member of a Twitter band of 10 writers called the Literary Lovelies some of whom I’ve never met. They are a marvellous group who provide support encouragement and enthusiasm. We try and meet up occasionally but we are scattered through the UK and it’s not always easy.

Thank you Maddie!

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Betrayal by Anne Allen - Blog Tour, Book Review & Giveaway

Today is my stop on The Betrayal blog tour and I'm delighted to be sharing my review with you all

Genre:  Mystery/Drama/Romance
Publication Date:  20 October 2017
No 6 in The Guernsey Novels series – each book standalone but with links to others
Estimated Page Count:  296

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:
Book Depository:

Treachery and theft lead to death – and love
1940.  Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved
husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to
Guernsey. Days later they invade…
1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans
and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return.
1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the
family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is
missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.
2011. Nigel and his twin Fiona buy a long-established antique
shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of
paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later,
Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to
accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to
help her discover the truth…
Searching for the true owner of the painting brings Fiona
close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart.
Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her
brother's ghost to rest?
Who betrayed Leo?
Who knew about the stolen Renoir?

And are they prepared to kill – again?

The Betrayal is set in Guernsey and is a pleasing mix of
mystery and romance with a dash of the supernatural.

It was an easy read and easy to get involved in the
characters lives. The story goes back and forth
between 1940 and 2011. During WWII Guernsey was
preparing for a German invasion as the British
Government had withdrawn their defence of the island.
This was an interesting piece of history and which maybe not many
people today are aware of so I thought it was good to
highlight this.

Fiona was distraught at the murder of her twin brother
and is determined to find out the killer even if it means
possibly putting her own life in danger.

There are wonderful descriptions of the beauty of
Guernsey, the beaches and the walks, the shops and the
sea views that I could almost feel myself there.

This was a really good storyline, heartbreaking in parts
but also with a little romance, it had strong characters
who I cared about, and some that I didn't! I was quickly
turning the pages eager to know the answers.


A Triple Celebration and a Price Reduction!

For this week only, until 18th Februarythe price of books 2-6 of The Guernsey Novels is only £1.99/$2.99, with book 1, 'Dangerous Waters, remaining at 99p/99c

This is in celebration of Anne Allen's birthday, the 6th anniversary of the publication of 'Dangerous Waters' and the recent publication of book 6, 'The Betrayal'.


Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children, and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby.  Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.
By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist, but long had the itch to write. Now a full-time writer, she has written The Guernsey Novels, six having been published and the seventh, The Inheritance, is due out in 2018.
Social Media Links – Website:

Giveaway – Win a signed copy of The Betrayal by Anne Allen (Open Internationally)

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Friday, 9 February 2018

Force of Nature by Jane Harper - Blog Tour & Book Review

I am thrilled to be taking part in the Blog Tour for Force of Nature by Jane Harper and my review of this gripping novel is below

Genre:  Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Publication Date:  8 February 2018
Publisher:  Little, Brown

Amazon UK:
Amazon US:
Book Depository:

When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the muddy path.
But one of the women doesn’t come out of the woods. And each of her companions tells a slightly different story about what happened.
Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker. In an investigation that takes him deep into isolated forest, Falk discovers secrets lurking in the mountains, and a tangled web of personal and professional friendship, suspicion, and betrayal among the hikers. But did that lead to murder?

Jane Harper's debut novel The Dry was in my top five favourite reads of 2017 so I was so looking forward to reading what she came up with next ...... and I was not disappointed at all!

Force of Nature is set in the Australian bush and has the same writing style which is so engrossing, and so easy to find yourself immersed in the story that you forget all about time, which is what I did, I read this in such a short time as I just couldn't wait to discover what happened.

Jane Harper is so adept at drawing you into the story, which starts when the four women find their way out of the wild and Federal Agent Aaron Falk (who we first met in The Dry) and his colleague need to discover what happened to the missing girl, Alice. Aaron knows Alice, she's helping him with a money laundering case, so he has a reason to want her found alive. 

Alternating with the search are chapters which go back to the start of the hike for the work colleagues as they split into gender groups and the story is mainly concentrated on the five women.  As they walk further and further into the bush the tension escalates and the women argue and disagree.

There is so much more to this story than a missing girl, people have secrets, the wilderness has secrets, and Alice had secrets of her own.  My mind was working overtime wondering what was going to happen next.

Force of Nature is paced exactly right as the atmosphere slowly builds and the mystery of what happened to Alice is finally revealed.  The twists are subtle and the writing is clever and enthralling.....and it will probably be one of my top five favourite reads of 2018 as well!

Later, the four remaining women could fully agree on only two things.  One:  No-one saw the bushland swallow up Alice Russell.  And two:  Alice had a mean streak so sharp it could cut you.

Thank you to the publishers for inviting me on to the blog tour and for giving me the opportunity to read this fantastic book!

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

The Promise by Sally Jenkins - Blog Tour Spotlight

On today's blog stop the spotlight is on The Promise by Sally Jenkins

Genre:  Psychological Thriller/Grip-Lit
Publication Date:  28 January 2018
Publisher:  The Book Guild
Standalone Novel
Estimated Page Count:  218

Amazon UK:
Amazon US:
Book Depository:

A man has been stabbed. A woman is bloodstained. The nightmares from her teenage years have begun again for Olivia Field – just as she is preparing to marry.

Ex-convict, Tina is terminally ill. Before she dies, the care of her younger, psychologically unwell brother, Wayne must be ensured. So Tina calls in a promise made to her thirty years ago in a prison cell. A promise that was written down and placed with crucial evidence illustrating a miscarriage of justice in a murder case.

Tina believes Olivia is perfectly placed to provide the care Wayne needs, but to do so, Olivia must be forced to cancel her own wedding and wreck the lives of those close to her. Tina’s terrible blackmail demands put Olivia’s entire future and, ultimately, her freedom under threat.

The Promise is a fast-paced psychological thriller told from several third person viewpoints. The novel explores the lengths to which people are prepared go in order to protect those they love and the impossibility of ever fully escaping our past actions.


Sally Jenkins lives in the West Midlands. She is a member of a Speakers’ Club, a volunteer library reading group coordinator and a church bell ringer. Sally's first psychological thriller, Bedsit Three won the Ian Govan Award.
Social Media Links –
Twitter: @sallyjenkinsuk

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Stand By Me by S.D. Robertson - Blog Tour & Extract

Today is my turn on the blog tour for Stand By Me and I'm delighted to bring you an exclusive extract

Genre:  Contemporary Literary Fiction
Published:  11 January 2018
Publisher:  Avon Books

Amazon UK:
Amazon US:
Book Depository:

They’ll always have each other…won’t they?

Lisa and Elliot have been best friends ever since the day they met as children. Popular, bright and sporty, Lisa was Elliot’s biggest supporter when the school bullies made his life a misery, and for that, he will always be grateful.

Twenty years later, life has pulled the pair apart and Lisa is struggling. Her marriage is floundering, her teenage kids are being secretive, and she’s so tired she can’t think straight. So when Elliot knocks on the door, looking much better than she remembers, she can’t help but be delighted to see her old friend again.

With Elliot back in their lives, Lisa’s family problems begin to improve – he’s like the fairy godmother she never had. As their bond deepens, she realises how much she’s missed him, and prays that this is one friendship that will last a lifetime. But sometimes, life has other ideas…

A heartwarming story perfect for fans of Keith Stewart and Jojo Moyes, that will leave you with a tear in your eye but hope in your heart.


Extract Fourteen: Chapter 36, pp.366-367

Her body was crying out to drop Elliot now, but she needed to get him to a safe distance first, while she had some momentum. So she kept going until she reached the pavement, and then into the next door neighbour’s front garden, where finally she let Elliot drop on to the frosty grass and took a moment to catch her breath.

‘Are you all right, El?’ she asked, kneeling over him and still panting from the exertion. Her shoulders and back felt light in the absence of her friend’s weight but ached from the strain she’d put them through.

There was sick all over his clothes and in his hair. Barely conscious, he gurgled something she didn’t understand. At least he was outside.

The smell of smoke was everywhere now. She looked up and could see it billowing out of the open back door. Shit. She had to raise the alarm before the whole house went up.

‘Stay here,’ she told Elliot, who clearly wasn’t going anywhere. ‘I’ll be back for you in a minute.’

She raced to the neighbour’s front door and frantically rang the bell, thumping her fist against the wood and shouting for help.

Finally the outside light came on and then the door opened. They were both there – the elderly couple that Lisa recognised from retrieving balls and so on from their garden. Their faces were angry until their eyes landed on her and they saw that something was seriously wrong.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

The Vanished Bride of Northfield House by Phyllis M Newman - Blog Tour, Book Review & Giveaway

Today is my turn on The Vanished Bride of Northfield House blog tour - check out my review of this Gothic Mystery

The Vanished Bride of Northfield House by Phyllis M. Newman

Gothic Mystery
1st in Series 
Date of Release January 26, 2018 
Cup of Tea Books 
Paperback: 346 pages 
ISBN-13: 978-1939403452 
Digital ASIN: B0791MQVBM
England, 1922 Times are hard. Anne Chatham is a clever, modest young woman with little money, no prospects for marriage, and a never-shared secret—she can see spirits.
Anne finds employment as a typist at Northfield House, the grand country manor of the Wellington family. Her employer, the wheelchair-bound Mr. Wellington, is kindly. His haughty wife is not. He has two handsome sons, the wry and dashing Thomas and the dark and somber Owen.
Anne feels sure her prayers have been heard. Until the terrifying night, she stumbles upon a tortured spirit roaming the dark halls of Northfield, a spirit that only she can see.
In a search for answers, she finds herself drawn to Owen as they unearth a tragic story from the Wellington family’s past—a beautiful young bride gone missing on her wedding day.
Then tragedy strikes again on the night of a glittering masquerade ball...


I was totally engrossed in this gothic mystery from the very beginning as orphan Anne is being interviewed for a typist position at Northfield House.  She had used the last of her money to train at college and she was thrilled when Mr Wellington offered her the position.

Anne is a lovely character, she is kind and gentle, but she has a secret - she can see spectres - she mainly ignores them and they eventually go away.  But Eleanor's spirit draws her in and she feels she must unravel the mystery of what happened to her on the night she vanished on her wedding day.

Some of the scenes were quite creepy as Anne and Owen, the Wellingtons youngest son, see Eleanor's apparition in the closed wing of the huge house.  I loved reading these and really enjoyed being a little scared, though I was careful not to read at night in the dark!

The style of writing was so easy to read, the growing friendship between Anne and Owen was delightful, the mystery was full of suspense but at a gentle pace as the secrets are gradually revealed.  

If you enjoy a good Gothic Mystery I would highly recommend you add this to your reading list!

Phyllis M Newman turned to writing mysteries after a career in finance and human resources. She lives in Columbus, Ohio in a big house with a weed-filled yard, three strong-willed cats, and a husband that's easy on the eyes.

Author webpage 
Purchase Link Amazon  
Short Excerpt
I heard scratching—fingernails or claws or beaks on wood. Then the rustle of wings, a soft fluttering. Perhaps a bird had gotten trapped on the floor above. Knock. Thud. Knock. Thud. Knock. Thud. Then nothing. I waited for the thumps and scratches to begin again, but heard only Owen’s rapid breathing. His grip on my shoulder softened. Before we could step away from each other, I heard something else. Whispers. Not words, but sibilance. A faint weeping. I could pretend no longer that the sounds issued from an animal. Owen shuddered, and I tried to swallow. My sight darted from the floors to the ceilings, from corner to corner, searching for additional signs. I saw none. The bed, its elaborate draperies, and the pictures on the walls were all undisturbed, but a plaintive lament—a mournful sobbing—suddenly filled the space. When the weeping stopped, I found my hand pressed against Owen’s chest. I could feel his heart beating, hard and fast, under my palm. “I think it’s over,” he said, releasing my shoulders. I reluctantly withdrew my hand and took a step away.

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January 26 – Socrates' Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 
January 27 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT 
January 28 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW 
January 29 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST 
January 29 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT 
January 30 – Valerie's Musings - GUEST POST 
January 31 – Bubble Bath Books – REVIEW 
February 1 – Carole's Book Corner – REVIEW 
February 2 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW 
February 3 – T's Stuff – REVIEW, INTERVIEW 
February 4 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, INTERVIEW 
February 5 – Ruff Drafts – REVIEW 
February 6 – Jane Reads - REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST 
February 7 – Queen of All She Reads – GUEST POST 
February 8 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – REVIEW 


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