book review · drama · family · thriller

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Legacy

The Legacy

An unexpected inheritance. A web of deceit. A desperate escape. 

London, 1969.

James has his dreams of an easy life shattered when his aunt disinherits him, leaving her fortune to her god-daughter, Charlotte. He turns to his friend, Percy, to help him reclaim his inheritance – and to pay off his creditors. But when their plans backfire, James becomes the pawn of Percy and his criminal associates.

Charlotte is stunned when she is told of her windfall. After an attempt at cheating her out of her inheritance fails, James tries to intimidate her. But she is stronger than he thinks, having secrets of her own to guard, and sends him away with a bloody nose and no choice but to retreat for now.

Resigned, James and his spoilt, pampered girlfriend, Fliss, Percy’s sister, travel across France on a mission that promises to free James from the criminals for good. But James isn’t convinced he can trust Fliss, so he makes his own plans to start a new life.

Will James be able to get away, or will his past catch up with him? Will Charlotte’s secrets turn the legacy into a curse?

Purchase Link – mybook.to/legacy

Author Bio

Alison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

The Legacy is a drama set in 1960s London. Like her previous book, Mine, it explores themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, showing how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops(www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk) as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

Social Media Links

www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

https://twitter.com/Alison_Knight59

www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk

www.darkstroke.com/dark-stroke/alison-knight/

My Review

Having read and enjoyed Alison Knight’s previous novel Mine, I had to pick this one up. I wasn’t disappointed.

Jane doesn’t have long to live, but she knows that she doesn’t want her nephew James to inherit her estate, especially as he has rarely visited her over the years, preferring to spend his time and rack up debts in gambling dens. Instead she changes her will to leave the bulk of her estate to her god-daughter, Charlotte, who has been a regular visitor and confidant to the old lady.

Even so, Charlotte is not expecting the windfall any more than James is prepared to be excluded. While Charlotte takes her time to grieve for her godmother, and to let the news settle in, James is already planning to contest the will.

James is in so much debt to all the wrong people and has been counting on his aunt’s money to dig him out of a hole; her change of mind devastates him. He is more upset about losing the money than about his aunt’s passing.

Charlotte, on the other hand, has always lived within her means and cannot imagine how she might spend the money or make use of Jane’s flat in an upmarket part of London.

For James, desperate times call for desperate measures, and “aided” by his friend and lawyer, Percy, he considers his options, not ruling out any nefarious means if the end result sees him getting his “much-deserved” inheritance back.

The Legacy is a short read, a novella in length, but is made even shorter by its fast pace and addictive qualities that had me racing through it to see how it all ended. Both main characters were beautifully depicted: James as the evil, greedy, unscrupulous villain versus Charlotte, the honest, loyal and innocent heroine who was even prepared to help James before he turned nasty.

But both of them were in for a huge shock! Trust me, the twist is excellent.

Highly recommended. Can be read as a standalone, but I felt having read Mine first gave the story extra “juice”.

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Amazon Reviewer Name
Reviewed on Amazon UK as Meandthemutts

book review · family · NetGalley · psychological suspense

Book Review – The Happy Family

My family has just been reunited. So who is trying to tear it apart?

A mother who disappeared…
When Beth was 10 years old, her beautiful, wild mother Alice walked out and never came back. Beth’s life since hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but now she is happy and settled, with a successful career, a loving family and a beautiful home.

An unexpected visitor…
Then one day there’s a knock at the door. Alice has returned. Overjoyed to have the chance to rebuild their relationship, Beth invites her mother to move in.

A life that comes crashing down…
At first, everything seems wonderful. But then Beth’s friends begin to drift away, strange things start to happen at home, and rumours begin to circle about her past. As the mysterious events around Beth become darker and more dangerous, she is forced to question everything. Is somebody in her life trying to destroy her happiness? And how far will they go? 

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My Review

Clever! What a cool storyline … and that twist!

Practice manager, Beth has a happy life, two children she adores, a great job she loves and good friends (although all her best friends are much older than she is, around the same age as her mother – 😉 read into that what you will). And, talking of mothers, Beth’s mum walked out on her and her father some thirty years ago when Beth was ten.

After divorcing her husband, Beth not only has a good relationship with him but also with his new wife. Her dad is in a fabulous care home and enjoys being there, and Beth visits him often. She works hard, but has help from Robin to do the school run and keep the house clean. Everything is peachy.

And then, a knock at her door turns her life around, upside down and inside out. The woman who says her name is Alice is none other than her mother, complete with the three hearts tattoo on her neck. Beth is stunned, delighted, loss for words one minute and gibbering like an idiot the next. Her mother has returned.

After inviting her mother to stay a few days (at first), Beth can’t wait to tell her friends and family – even her dad – that Alice is back in her life. Everyone is thrilled for her, and totally accepting of Alice.

Weirdly, almost instantly strange things start to happen. Beth loses her keys a lot, the heating system goes bezerk, “accidents” happen and tempers start to fray as Beth seems to be losing her grip on everything, alienating loved ones … and drinking too much. When everything seems to be going wrong, Beth is glad to have her mum around for support.

There are lots of twists in this story, and just when you think things can’t get any worse for Beth, they do. A long-held secret – something which, since their move to Cheltenham after the childhood incident, only Beth and her father are aware of – suddenly has reared its very ugly head. Beth looks in danger of losing everything and everyone close to her until someone totally unexpected comes to her rescue – yet another fabulous twist. Who is Beth’s saviour? Well, while the twist is hugely surprising, it’s not too difficult to join the dots and find her guardian angel, though Beth does make a meal out of that task!

Overall, a compelling and addictive read that I raced through. Admittedly, it sagged a little in the middle as Beth’s paranoia spiralled out of control repeatedly, but the ending more than makes up for that. As does the witty dialogue and hilarious “menopause” chats she and her friends have at the beginning. As the title says, Beth really did have the happy family.

If you enjoy psychological or domestic suspense, then this book is for you. Give it a shot. You won’t regret it.

Thanks to the author, One More Chapter & Netgalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

As always,

Amazon Reviewer Name
Reviewed on Amazon UK as Meandthemutts

book review · family · there's a dog · women's fiction

Book Review – Seven Perfect Things

by Catherine Ryan Hyde

You just know this is going to be good!

A heart-stirring novel about the joy that comes from finding love in unexpected places by the New York Times and #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author.

Thirteen-year-old Abby Hubble lives in an unhappy home in the Sierra Nevada foothills where her father makes life miserable for her and her mother, Mary. One day Abby witnesses a man dump a litter of puppies into the nearby river. Diving in to rescue all seven, she knows she won’t be able to bring them home. Afraid for their fate at the pound, she takes them to an abandoned cabin, where all she can offer is a promise that she’ll be back the next day.

To grieving widower Elliot Colvin, life has lost meaning. Looking for solace, he retreats to the hunting cabin he last visited years ago, before his wife’s illness. What he discovers is not at all what he expected: seven puppies and one determined girl with an indomitable heart.

As Abby and Elliot’s friendship deepens, Abby imagines how much better her life—and the puppies’ lives—would be if her mother were married to Elliot instead of her father. But when Abby’s father moves the family hundreds of miles away, Abby and her mother must decide how long they’re willing to defer happiness.

Seven Perfect Things is a story about joy, where to find it, how to know it when you see it, and the courage it takes to hang on to it once you have it.

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My Review

Can you guess where this is going? I mean, it has not one dog but seven delightful, cute as a button puppies in it – which makes it a must-read in my eyes.

4 paws from me!

If the current pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that our pets are as much part of the family as their human counterparts, and as this story shows, the dogs are a great deal better behaved! The blurb tells us from the start that the puppies have been dumped in a sack in the river (can I get a boo hiss for the hoomans that did this!!!), so we have to be prepared for a tale of survival, a battle against the odds and a whole lot of love, bemusement and shenanigans to follow.

So, to the story …

After rescuing seven puppies from the river, refusing to leave them at the pound where their future is more than uncertain, and knowing her father will not allow her to take them home, Abby traipses up to a unoccupied cabin nearby to care for them. Buying food and water for them with what little money she has, Abby is determined her puppies will survive. She rushes out of the house each morning to check on them, and again after school, keeping them secret from her dad, although she did tell her mum about them … just maybe not all the facts.

Since school is about to break for summer, she reckons she can spend more time with them while looking for new homes to take them in (she does this with the best of intentions not realising how much she has already grown to love the puppers).

For a couple of days, she copes – helped by some money from her mum (who has guessed from the paw prints on her clothes and her late hours that Abby still has the dogs somewhere). Abby and her mother live in fear of upsetting her father, which makes her mum all the more determined to let Abby have her secret knowing that she is of an age where being responsible for something other than herself will be a valuable lesson.

But, then the owner of the cabin arrives …

Recently widowed, Elliot arrives at his cabin for some alone time, only to find the cabin has been broken into and much of his stuff stolen( not by Abby, I hasten to add). Added to that, when checking out his generator – no longer there – in the shed, he finds Abby’s puppies and a pile of smelly newspaper.

When he takes the same trip as Abby to the pound, the staff member recognises the pups and is sorry to see them again. Elliot cannot leave them to their fate, so he returns to his cabin to find a distressed Abby looking for her dogs. And so begins their relationship which, while it has a rocky start, soon becomes focused on the puppies’ wellbeing. If anything, Abby’s presence stops Elliot from sinking into depression, and instead he is cheered by the antics of the playful seven.

But it can’t go on like that. Elliot will have to leave his cabin eventually, and Abby needs to find homes for the dogs. However, by then the two are firm friends and come up with a plan to look after the puppies which just so happens to also take into consideration Abby’s home life and her mother’s unhappy marriage.

The struggle is real and their plan falls apart early on when Abby’s father decides he’s in charge of his family and “takes” them away. With no way of contacting Elliot, it seems Abby may never see her puppies or Elliot again.

An emotionally-charged story that will keep you reading through to the end to see how things work out.

As always,

blog tour · book review · family · real life · truth

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Mine

Mine

What’s mine, I keep.”

London, 1968.

Lily’s dreams of a better life for her family are shattered when her teenage daughter refuses to give up her illegitimate child. It doesn’t help that Lily’s husband, Jack, takes their daughter’s side.

Taking refuge in her work at a law firm in the City, Lily’s growing feelings for her married boss soon provides a dangerous distraction.

Will Lily be able to resist temptation? Or will the decisions made by these ordinary people lead them down an extraordinary path that could destroy them all?

Mine – a powerful story of class, ambition and sexual politics.

Purchase Links

UK –  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08JQF4JQT

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08JQF4JQT

Author Bio

Alison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

Mine is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops(www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk) as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

Social Media Links

Websites: www.alisonroseknight.com www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk www.darkstroke.com/dark-stroke/alison-knight/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

Twitter: @Alison_Knight59

My Review

4/5 stars

I remember choosing to read this story and adding it to my Kindle a long time before I began reading it. And I jumped right in without re-reading the blurb, only to learn – at the end – that it was based on a true story.

The author dropped us effortlessly in the 60s with intricate details of the era, from the food (chops and boiled potatoes for tea) to colour TVs, Brylcreem, and housecoats. It was such a depiction of family life, that I began to wonder what the story was – was this a memoir or was there more to come? Well, now I know it was a bit of both but with so much more to come.

Looking back, after reading the whole story, it points to the author’s skill as a writer that those normal, everyday activities coupled with strong family drama (of the kind we now see as normal – unmarried mums, career women, & divorce but which, back then, were considered anything but the norm), built up to such an emotional and compelling story. I have to admit to not liking Lily very much at first. Her husband Jack seemed such a lovely bloke, and it hurt to see him get so upset. I was Team Jack all the way but grew to understand Lily better. How could I look down on her for following her heart? Yes, she had a touch of the Margo Leadbetter about her (The Good Life -1970s sitcom) and her sneering of Jack’s simple contentment grated on me, but what was her crime really? That she outgrew her environment, her husband and friends? This wasn’t a new development, for she had always aspired to be more than a housewife, and getting the job at a prestigious law firm proved she was more than capable. Of course, the 60s were the age of enlightenment for many, Lily included. She had more choices than women before her – though burning her “brassiere” was not for her – was she wrong to take advantage of those choices, even if it meant leaving Jack?

This was one of those stories that made me rethink my initial impression of the main character, in this case, Lily, realising that she was no monster, just a woman who fell in love with a man who wasn’t her husband. Of course, there were consequences, principally her relationship with her daughters. Who’s to say things would have been better had she stayed with Jack? Lily and Bev clashed long before that.

For me, this novel highlighted how much life has changed in just a few decades. Today, Lily’s actions wouldn’t be seen as a family scandal – of course, even today, families have to pick up the pieces and deal with the consequences, but not with the same outcry and outrage from onlookers. Lily did what she felt she had to do to be happy; she didn’t set out to ruin anyone’s life, in fact quite the opposite.

Having read how life turned out for the real Jack, Bev & Caroline, it only emphasises further that we are masters of our destinies. This is a warts-and-all story, balanced in no-one’s favour and with no blame apportioned to either side. Beautifully written, emotionally powerful and truthfully told. I look forward to reading more by this author.

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blog tour · book review · family · friendship · fun · romance · romantic comedy · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – This Year, Maybe

This Year Maybe

Alison and David have been engaged for so long that even Alison’s mother has given up asking when, but it’s second time around for both of them and they’re not in any particular hurry.
That said, Alison is beginning to wonder if living with her has put David off the idea of marriage so when he suggests they set a date she is delighted. But that date is six months’ away and a lot can happen in six months – especially if you’re Alison!

‘My son’s been arrested, Great-aunt Millie’s fallen in love, my best friend suspects her husband of having an affair, and I still need to lose weight. How on earth can I think about getting married?’

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/This-Year-Maybe-Alisss-Adventures-ebook/dp/B08LLDZ9NP/

US – https://www.amazon.com/This-Year-Maybe-Alisss-Adventures-ebook/dp/B08LLDZ9NP/

Author Bio – I’m a golden-retriever-loving granny, who enjoys walking by the sea or in the woods, who eats too much chocolate, and who gets over-excited when the Welsh team plays rugby.

I have self-published two novels, This Time Last Year, and The Dog-walking Club, but I’m also an experienced freelance writer and author of several non-fiction books published by Hodder & Stoughton, Scripture Union and Kevin Mayhew.

Social Media Links

Facebook – LizHindsAuthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/LizHindsAuthor

Website – http://lizhinds.online

My Review

4/5 stars

This was not my first book by this author because I know I can rely on her to make the world a better place for a few hours. You simply cannot read This Year, Maybe without smiling, and frequently laughing both with and at the characters. Talking of characters, there are a lot of them … an awful lot, because Alison has a busy if rather quirky life. I don’t imagine anything is ever straightforward for her, because if something can go wrong, it will. Sod’s Law (aka Murphy’s Law) was written for people like Alison. At times, I did feel as though I had to suspend belief at events that “happened” to her – the kidnapping during her Hen week being a prime example, and how her sister-in-law, Trish, always seemed to have the right skills at exactly the right time.

There’s a plethora of side stories that build to create even more problems for Alison. If she were ever to write her memoirs, be prepared for a War & Peace sized tome. I felt the overall story could have been shorter; it seemed to run out of steam towards the end, but I guess even Alison’s life has to allow for a breather now and then. That said, there was more than enough fun and humour to keep me reading. Writing comedy is no easy task, but the laughs roll off the page with a natural ease, so much so it feels as though you’re in the scene with the characters. I also love the author’s use of realistic dialogue; it glued me to my Kindle because these were real people in extraordinary , if somewhat chaotic, situations. The essence of the story centres on love, family and friendships, and the humour and mayhem are extra bonuses.

I’ll definitely be reading more from this author, and I love the cover: it’s bright and breezy and certain to lift the mood on a wintery day. Enjoy a few hours of chaos and fun – you’ll feel better for it!

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blog tour · book review · family · historical fiction · relationships · WWII

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Resistance Girl

The Resistance Girl

Two women. One heartbreaking secret.

Paris, 1943.

Sylvie Martone is the star of French cinema, and adored by fans. But as Nazi officers swarm the streets of Paris, she is spotted arm in arm with an SS Officer and her fellow Parisians begin to turn against her.

However, Sylvie has a secret – one she must protect with her life.

Paris, 2020.

Juliana Chastain doesn’t know anything about her family history. While her mother was alive she remained very secretive about her past.

So when Juliana discovers a photograph of a glamorous French actress from World War Two amongst her mother’s possessions, she is in shock to find herself looking at her grandmother – especially as she is arm in arm with a Nazi Officer…

Desperate for answers, Juliana is determined to trace the journey of her grandmother. Surely there is more to the photograph than meets the eye?

But as she delves into Sylvie’s past, nothing can prepare Juliana for the tales of secrets, betrayal and sacrifice which she will uncover.

A heart-wrenching story of love and war, perfect for fans of Pam Jenoff and Suzanne Goldring.

Purchase Link – https://buff.ly/3dHGHqQ

Author Bio

Jina Bacarr is a US-based historical romance author of over 10 previous books. She has been a screenwriter, journalist and news reporter, but now writes full-time and lives in LA. Jina’s novels have been sold in 9 territories.

Social Media Links
Newsletter: http://bit.ly/JinaBacarrNewsletter

Website: https://jinabacarr.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JinaBacarr.author

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JinaBacarr

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jinabacarr/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/LadydeGrey/videos?view_as=subscriber

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/jbacarr

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jina-bacarr

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/50392.Jina_Bacarr

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jinabacarr/

https://bookandmainbites.com/JinaBacarr

My Review

Guess what? It’s another book set in WWII. And, you know what else? I really enjoyed it. Quelle surprise! I guess I am a creature of habit.

When Juliana Chastain sorts through her late mother’s possessions, she finds an old photograph of her grandmother, arm in arm with a Nazi officer. Is this why her own mother never told her about her family’s past? Was her grandmother a Nazi collaborator? And who was her grandfather? The man in the photo? All these questions left Juliana with no other option than to find the answers, even if it meant going to France herself.

Told through the eyes of Sylvie Martone (grandmother) and Juliana (granddaughter) the story spans the generations and secrets hidden for decades finally come to the surface.

Sylvie always wanted to be an actress; it was her childhood dream. So when the chance came, so left the convent where she was raised and headed for the bright lights of silent movies. Her talents were recognised, and the “talkies” brought her even more success, making her the sweetheart of the French film industry with fans throughout the country.

When war broke out, Sylvie was noticed by the invading Nazis who loved how she was idolised by the nation. Having her on their arm, they believed, would give them a certain gravitas with the French citizens. Instead, it drove her fans away and left her labelled as a collaborator.

Yet, Sylvie was anything but. She used her position to help her fellow neighbours and colleagues, enabling them to escape the Nazi regime. Yet none of this was ever declared, for reasons Juliana has to discover for herself as she attempts to clear her grandmother’s name and restore her reputation as a much-loved filmstar.

The story plunged deep into Sylvie’s life, her necessary dalliances with the Nazi officer, as well as her one true chance for love. As Juliana learnt more about her grandmother, she became ever more determined to bring the truth to the fore. Following her grandmother’s films, notes, and recordings she was able to connect with her in so many ways, even as far as understanding who was important in her own life.

It was a captivating read, highlighting the realities of war with sensitivity and understanding. While Sylvie and Juliana got to tell their stories, and Juliana discovered the truth about her grandmother, it became ever more tragic that her own mother never took the chance to know that truth. Secrets certainly led to the three women having different takes on history.

I’d recommend this to fans of WWII historical fiction who enjoy the deep dive into believable and heart-wrenching stories.

My thanks go to Boldwood Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. This review is given voluntarily.

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blog tour · book review · Contemporary Romance · family · romantic comedy · sisters · summer reading · there's a dog

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Summer at my Sister’s

Summer at my Sister’s

 

Twin sisters. One scorching summer.

A bucketful of secrets.

Diana’s life is perfect. Her twin sister, Josie’s – not so much.

Diana has a rich and successful husband, two talented youngsters and an adorable dog. She always looks as if she’s stepped from the cover of a magazine. Her immaculate second home by the sea, for idyllic summers with her perfect family, was actually featured in one.

Josie has a messy, compact flat, dates, but not relationships, and she can’t even keep a houseplant alive. She moves from job to job, goes clubbing with her friends and often looks as if she’s fallen through a hedge.

Although Josie loves Diana deeply, each year she declines the invitation to spend the summer with her sister. Or any other family holiday. Because Josie has a secret.

But is Diana’s life so perfect? Or is she also hiding something? When secrets are revealed this summer, everything will change. Josie could finally have the life she’s always wanted … if she’s brave enough to take a chance.

Purchase Link – mybook.to/SummeratmySisters


Author Bio

Emily writes novels, novellas and short stories about friendship, family and falling in love. She loves a happy ending but knows that life doesn’t always go to plan. Her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.

Emily loves to connect with her readers and has a readers’ group in which many have become good friends. To catch up with Emily, find out about the group, or connect with her on social media, go to her website at www.emilyharvale.com.

Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now writes full-time. She’s a member of the SoA, an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. When not writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies – and will do anything to avoid both. Emily has two mischievous rescue cats that like to sprawl across her keyboard, regardless of whether Emily is typing on it, or not.

Social Media Links 

https://www.facebook.com/emilyharvalewriter

https://www.twitter.com/emilyharvale

https://www.instagram.com/emilyharvale

My Review

This is not my first book by Emily Harvale and it certainly won’t be my last, particularly this series set in the gorgeous coastal village of Seahorse Harbour. Aptly named, the holiday resort is more than a beautiful location, it’s a place with a heart, where conservation of the seahorses matters to everyone who lives there. Already, you know these are people whose stories will be heartwarming and engaging.

Seahorse Harbour is a place that evokes different memories for the twin sisters. Diana now spends all her summers there with her family, but Josie hasn’t returned since she was seventeen. Heading back from her carefree-singleton lifestyle New York to the place that has bittersweet memories for her, Josie is hesitant but also concerned about her sister – having been alerted that something is wrong by their mother.

Her arrival, however, is wonderfully charming – from the taxi-driver tour guide, to the dashing new host at the local pub. You cannot feel anything but safe and welcome in such a friendly atmosphere. That said, it doesn’t take long for Josie’s wise-cracking humour to come to the fore. While her one-liners are clearly a personal safety net for her, they are also ridiculously funny.

It takes a while for Josie to learn Diana’s secret, and all the while she’s there she is becoming more and more enamoured of the place and its people – some people in particular.

When Diana finally shares, Josie is stunned. All this time she thought Diana had the perfect life. As the secrets unravel, it’s not only Diana who unburdens herself. The family connection here is super strong; Josie loves being around her nephew and niece, and eventually even Henry the dog worms his way into her affections. Throughout, you’ll be wondering whether Josie’s stay is temporary or whether a return to New York is on the cards as Seahorse Harbour gets under her skin again. Can she put aside those teenage memories and settle back in England with her sister and family close by, or is she still the wise-cracking, independent “New Yorker” at heart who can only thrive in a big city? You’ll have to grab a copy and find out 😉

There’s a lot going here, but it all hangs together really well. You couldn’t wish to meet a nicer bunch of people. Drama, humour, incessant flirting, and the fabulous Aunt Elsie all make for a superb summer read.

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Audiobook · blog tour · book review · family · mystery · romance · series

Audiobook Tour ‘n’ Review – Spent Identity (The Annalisse Series – Book Two)

This is the second mystery in the series that spans New York with worldwide destinations. Big city life disappears as Spent Identity journeys to Walker Family Farm in upstate New York. The quiet home of Annalisse’s beloved Aunt Kate.

Be warned though; writing stories where the reader must figure out villains and their motives through intricate puzzles is what I do! Spent Identity is a novel that will have you turning pages, gasping at the audacity of the characters, and at times, shaking your head at Annalisse’s decisions— sometimes unwise— but she manages to unravel even the most twisted clues.

A continuation from the first installment, Stolen Obsession, Annalisse not only addresses her failed relationship with Alec Zavos, she uncovers a betrayal that crushes her in Spent Identity. Grab a paperback or eBook and see if you can uncover the family secrets before she does. I dare you!

Author: Marlene M. Bell

Narrator: Katina Kalin

Length: 9 hours 43 minutes

Publisher: Ewephoric

Released: May 13, 2020

Series: Annalisse Series, Book 2

Publisher: Ewephoric

Genre: Mystery

Continue reading “Audiobook Tour ‘n’ Review – Spent Identity (The Annalisse Series – Book Two)”

do what makes you happy · family · there's a dog

I digress … cos Rusty has a namesake.

This post has absolutely nothing to do with books or writing; instead it’s a happy outcome to a sad story. 

It’s been eight weeks now since I said goodbye to Rusty, and it still brings me to tears to write this. 

I saw him at a local animal shelter in Dolores (if ever a place was aptly name, then this was it – dolor is Spanish for a pain or an ache, and losing Rusty was one of the biggest heartaches of my life.) He was the last of six corgi-cross pups who’d been abandoned on a building site. I’d had a corgi before; in fact, my first dog was a corgi when I was ten years old. 

Rusty had been named Arturo by the shelter but was not yet responding to it. He was around 4 months old and came running to me the instant I passed by. No other dog stood a chance. He’d chosen me and the rest is history. 

When my mum had a stroke and got dementia, Rusty was my rock. Taking him for a walk each day was my salvation from those nightmare months when Mum forgot who I was and grew angry with me for not letting her “go home”. He was the sponge who soaked up all my tears when I cried myself to sleep, and he was the only one who could make me laugh in those dark days. 

One time, after Mum had died, we were out on a walk and he dragged me across the road towards an elderly lady who had gone to the shops in her slippers. She had the same hairstyle as Mum, and he insisted on following her home until she was safe. 

Anyway, I digress …there are so many stories I could tell and I’m so grateful to have had sixteen wonderful years with him. He was the best big bro to Toby, who even now waits his turn to do anything as if he’s expecting Rusty to come along in front of him. 

Back to the story: a few days after Rusty’s passing, my friend at the Vets called to say there was a new stray at the animal shelter she volunteered at. 

Don’t panic – I haven’t got another dog. Toby and I aren’t ready for that yet. 

My friend had asked the shelter manager to name the stray after Rusty. And she’d agreed 😀 

OMG! How sweet was that? What a tribute to my dearest buddy! 

Days later, Stray Rusty was registered and chipped. It was official. 

Now came the wait for a new home. I wasn’t even tempted, it was too soon but I so wanted Stray Rusty to find his forever home. Apparently, he’d been roaming the streets for weeks and it was a real struggle to catch him. He was a very nervous dog and clearly didn’t trust people. And who could blame him? As we were in the middle of a very strict lockdown, we weren’t allowed to cross regional borders even though it was only ten minutes away. Instead, they sent me photos of him and kept me updated with messages on his progress. 

We all held our breath when a couple visited him and showed great interest. Unfortunately, they thought he was too scared and didn’t think they could cope with him.

Well, their loss is all I can say! Because, a few weeks later, another couple came to see him. They visited him every day and earned his trust. And, finally, they offered him a forever home. After the necessary checks and vaccinations, they took him home. Now he has a huge garden to explore and doting parents to love him for the rest of his life. 

That couple have their own Rusty buddy, and they probably don’t realise how lucky they are.  

For the time being, it’s just Toby and me …and we’re good with that. As a 14yo himself, he’s adapting to being Top Dog slowly, but most of the time he’s doing what he does best … being so damn cute!

As always, 

thanks for reading and give your furry friends an extra hug right now x

Audiobook · blog tour · book review · courtroom drama · emotions · family

AudioBook Review – The Jersey

Audiobook Tour: The Jersey by James Rosenberg

Author: James Rosenberg

Narrator: Brian Avers

Length: 8 hours 44 minutes

Publisher: Allie H Publishing

Released: Nov. 21, 2019

Genre: Family Drama

Dan West wonders which is more important to him: Helping his long-time friend win back his business after being accused of stealing money from the company, or coaching his 11-year-old son’s soccer team trying to win an improbable championship.
Money and prestige don’t motivate Dan. Rather, family, work and coaching soccer are the underpinnings of his life. He revels in the simple joys like hanging out with his wife Jill, mentoring a young lawyer at his firm, and watching the boys connect on three passes before drilling the ball into the back of the net.
Dan always knew to keep it steady – not to get too high or he might get knocked off his perch. And he did, until he and the boys’ soccer team achieved unimagined success. Before he can grasp how good he has it, tragedy rips a hole in his family.
James Rosenberg, author of the bestseller Legal Reserves, strikes a new chord in his exploration of what makes a life and how to put it back together after it is shattered.
The Jersey is a beautifully written, profoundly touching, and relatable story of love, loss, and the redemptive power of a group of motivated 11-year-old kids.

Buy on Audible

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James Rosenberg is a 3rd generation trial attorney with plenty of stories to tell.
Inspired not only by the courtroom stories his father and grandfather used to tell him when he was a child, but also by the wild adventures he’s encountered through his own experience as a lawyer. James is fascinated by the intricate, interpersonal dynamics of every trial he’s endured. Whether it’s the raw emotion on display in court, the tension in the air that builds until someone wins, or the impact that a case’s decision has on the parties involved, James is always paying attention and keeping tabs on what’s happening.
In his debut novel, “Legal Reserves”, James flexes his creative muscle outside of the courtroom to share his stories, with a fictional twist, through the eyes of archetypes he knows well. His second novel, “The Jersey,” explores the relationships a family-centric lawyer has with his wife and eleven year old son.
A native of Pittsburgh and a graduate of Taylor Allderdice High School and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, James has been a trial attorney in Pittsburgh for almost 30 years. He started writing legal thrillers as a stress reducer and finds this creative outlet to be a fun and meaningful diversion from his day job.
When he’s not trying cases, he’s either dreaming up his next book idea, spending time with his wife and three kids, or both.

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Narrator Bio

Brian Avers is a dynamic stage & screen actor, with numerous appearances on Broadway, television & film – and prolific creative – having written, directed & produced new works including indie comedy The Weekend, podcast The Buckeye Brothers, and a series of audiobooks releasing through winter, 2019.
An active screenwriter, voice artist & proud mentor for aspiring actors, Brian and his family split time between Brooklyn & Los Angeles.

Website

  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    • I loved the process of turning the book into an audiobook. I felt like The Jersey would transform well into an audiobook as many of the scenes contained drama which would play out well in an audio format. Audible does make it easy. I had 10 auditions with 24 hours of putting the novel up on Audible. Ultimately I had 25 excellent auditions to choose from and many were outstanding. Brian Avers, however, was a touch above. He connected with the story immediately and I think that is evident upon listening to the audiobook. Working with him was a dream. He wrote me involved emails after recording each chapter explaining what he liked about a scene or a character. His investment in the story clearly made the final product what it is.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • As I said, I had some really good auditions but Brian Avers just stuck out. I think it was his connection to the story. He told me he has a young boy and that helped him relate to the main character in the book, Dan West, and his relationship with his eleven year old son. I think Brian’s ability to voice a variety of parts, including a bunch of eleven year boys, is one of the highlights of the audiobook. I laughed out loud a few times listening to him vocalize the group of boys, and his ability to give each one a separate personality.
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
    • Brian and I worked extremely closely during the recording process. He agreed to send me each chapter as he finished it for my review rather than waiting until he completed the entire audiobook. He would send me each chapter and I would review them and send him my thoughts about how he had handled each chapter. Most times I thought he nailed it and just told him that. For a few of the chapters I offered some suggestions. He was incredibly accepting of any suggestions and incorporated them in the final book. Brian’s supporting emails describing his reaction to some of the pivotal scenes in the book were incredibly rewarding for me. I knew he was the absolute right narrator once he explained his connections to a scene where the boys came to the main character’s house and begged him to rejoin the team as coach. I knew he understood the book and I knew his connection to the characters would enhance the listening experience for anyone who listened to the audiobook.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Oh my, yes. This book was incredibly personal for me. There are tidbits in all of the characters from people in my life. The book is set in Pittsburgh which is my home town and if you listen closely you get many nuggets from our neighborhood and city at large. There are references to the Steelers and Pirates, local restaurants and bars and the trial takes place in our City County building downtown.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • I love writing. I love creating new characters and love to find out what happens to them as they move through a story. My books, so far, always include a major trial. For my other book, Legal Reserves, the trial is based on a real trial I handled many years ago. For The Jersey, I completely made up the trial, but it works. The trial is significant force in the lives of the characters in the book and affects how they react to future events.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • I do. I think Dan West’s relationship with his son Charley and with the other boys on the soccer team resonates well in book but is even stronger in the audiobook. Brian Avers manages to capture these relationships and his performance is compelling. In his emails to me, during certain scenes, Brian told me he was choking up just as the character was in the story. Brian’s ability to convey these intense emotions is central to why the audiobook truly will resonate with listeners.
  • If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
    • If the Jersey were a movie (and I have always thought it would be a great movie), I would have Bradley Cooper play Dan West and Amy Adams, Natalie Portman or Zoe Saldana would be awesome for Jill. Arthur Spinelli would be played by someone who could bring out the kindly/intelligent qualities of a Burt Lancaster.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • That’s ridiculous. Audiobooks have made books so much more accessible to a wider range of people and have allowed people to “read” while running, commuting and cleaning the house. Anything that increases the audience is great. Listening to a book can be a completely different experience but in no way a cheaper experience.
  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
    • My wife and I went out to dinner. The next day, I went to work. Now I have to get back to working on the next novel.
  • What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
    • Write, Write and then write some more. Don’t worry if it’s any good. Don’t worry about what others think (yet). Then write some more. Then edit, edit, edit.
  • Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
    • Do it. It’s not that hard. It’s not that expensive and the chance to reach a new audience is compelling. Plus, it’s fun. Just today we were on vacation and I went for a long walk on the beach and listened to a few chapters of The Jersey. It was good.
  • What’s next for you?
    • I am working on my next novel about a family torn apart when their son is accused of assassinating the President of the United States. I’m also continuing to try real life cases.

Top 10 List

James Rosenberg’s Top Ten reasons for choosing Brian Avers (over a lot of other really good narrators) to be the voice of the audiobook:
  1. In his audition, it was clear he completely connected with the book.
  2. He kept telling me about his little boy and how that made him feel a kinship with Dan West, the main character, of The Jersey.
  3. Brian is wickedly funny.
  4. Brian has a great repertoire of voices and he uses many for all of the kids in the story, but also for the adults who he is able to characterize by using a variety of intonations.
  5. He was so easy to work with. He was efficient, organized and made the story even better by how he tells it.
  6. Brian made me feel good about the book. We kept going back-and-forth on email after every chapter and his insights into the book as he was narrating it provided me with confidence that this was going to be a great audiobook.
  7. He has so much experience. Not only with audiobooks, but he is an actor, director and producer. Brian gets the business and having his experience made the process so much easier.
  8. He is in demand. I felt lucky that Brian agreed to narrate the book. His schedule was full and he is asked to work on so many different projects, but he agreed to move some things around and got the book done quickly.
  9. He is willing to let his emotions out. There are some emotional ups and downs in the story. Brian brought out the humor at the appropriate times, but also was able to bring out the pain in the story. You can hear him get emotional, but even more important, you can feel his emotions.
  10. I want to work with him again. He is such a professional that he will be my first choice to narrate my next book. I just hope he is able to do it.

The Jersey tells a beautiful story, packed with emotion, humour, fun, and oodles of poignant moments.
The story surprised me, though I’m not sure what I was expecting. Much of the story centred around a reluctant Dan coaching his son’s soccer team, seeing the boys bond and grow together in confidence and ability. I doubt Dan realised how rewarding the job would be, and spending quality time with his boy made it all extra special.

What I loved about this story was the way the author effortlessly moved from family time to Dan’s working life. As an absolute sucker for a courtroom drama, the case Dan and his colleague were working on was right up my street. Defending not only the business but also the reputation and honour of a dear family friend, the case held my attention all the way and I was rooting for them every step. The author even managed to make those scenes emotional.
Without spoiling the story for new readers, what happened to Dan and his family was heartbreaking, and his recovery was understandably slow. But … *** reader warning – keep tissues close by *** … that ending was so touching, so heartfelt and so absolutely gorgeous that even the stoniest heart will melt.
This was a story that I looked forward to listening to, and each time I had to break away, I always returned with renewed interest. The storytelling drifted through various timelines with ease. The narrator brought the whole thing to life – although, I have to admit his “11 year-old boy shriek” was a force to be reckoned with (*shudders*)
A recommended book – whether on the page, but especially in the audio version – to fans of solid family dramas who aren’t afraid to cry 😉

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by James Rosenberg. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Giveaway

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card

The Jersey Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card
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