#BookMail To Start The Day!
Thank You! @PGCBooks

 

There’s nothing like receiving a box in the mail, opening it up and finding some lovely books inside.
Thank you so much Publishers Group Canada!
It is a real honour and pleasure to read and review these for you.
You have made my day!
For more information on PGC Books and their upcoming releases check out their website at: pgcbooks.ca

#BookReview
Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser @jessicastrawser @StMartinsPress

Synopsis:

Violet and Finn were “meant to be,” said everyone, always. They ended up together by the hands of fate aligning things just so. Three years into their marriage, they have a wonderful little boy, and as the three of them embark on their first vacation as a family, Violet can’t help thinking that she can’t believe her luck. Life is good.

So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach—just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare, and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all.

Caitlin and Finn have been best friends since way back when, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice.

Told through alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin, Almost Missed You is a powerful story of a mother’s love, a husband’s betrayal, connections that maybe should have been missed, secrets that perhaps shouldn’t have been kept, and spaces between what’s meant to be and what might have been.


Book Rating: 8/10

Emotional, captivating and well-paced!

This is a perceptive novel that delves into the complex relationship between a husband and wife and highlights the detrimental effects suppressed guilt can have on the psyche. 

The writing is well done. The characters are flawed, deceptive and selfish. And the plot is an intricate web of secrets, lies, manipulation, desperation, heartache, grief, shame, and destiny.

Overall I think this is a well written, enthralling debut from Strawser that ultimately reminds us life is all about choices and good or bad those choices define us.

Thank you to NetGalley, especially St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is due to be published on March 28, 2017.

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaIndigoKoboBook DepositoryB&N

For more information on Jessica Strawser, visit her website at: jessicastrawser.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @jessicastrawser

#BlogTour & #GuestPost
Two Voices, One Story
by Elaine Rizzo & Amy Masters

Synopsis:

This is the true story of a girl called Amy and the English “mother” who adopted her from an institute in China when she was just a baby.

It’s a story about love, family and identity; and the unbreakable bond between mother and daughter.

When Amy came to be adopted in 1999, China’s then notorious one-child policy had given rise to a generation of missing girls. Amy was one of them, destined to life in an orphanage if she was lucky enough to survive. That is, until she was adopted by a loving British couple who were desperate to give her the home she deserved; Elaine and Lee.

In this moving autobiography, Amy and Elaine chart their own personal experiences of their shared adoption story. Theirs is not a political account, but one which is open about the challenges of adopting a child from a foreign country and the long journey that follows; from China to the UK and from infancy through to adolescence, as Amy and her new family learn and grow together.

Now a bright and ambitious young woman on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Amy is braced for an exciting journey into adulthood, one which her proud mother is delighted to be able to share.

Two Voices, One Story is a frank but uplifting account of the complex adoption process and the profound relationship between a mother and her adopted child.

And Now a Little Word from Elaine & Amy on Amy’s Adoption:

Elaine: Amy’s English Dad, Lee (my ex-husband) and I were always honest and open about the fact that she was adopted from almost the first moment we got her.

We always believed that we had no other option and that it would be best for her to grow up always having been aware of it, so to speak.

The most obvious reason for this was quite simply because she didn’t look like either of us, which we thought might cause her to wonder before she was very old at all and perhaps to get distressed.

There was also (inevitably) a certain amount of speculation over how we were came to be the parents of a Chinese child and we considered that being direct would minimise this.

When Amy was little, we used to play a game with her called “Amy is Adopted by her Loving Parents,” where she would lie on the couch pretending to be asleep in a cot at the Welfare Centre in China. Lee and I would pretend we were on the aeroplane on the way to get her and we would be chatting about how excited we were and how we couldn’t wait to meet her.

We would then pretend to be at the rendezvous in China and Lee would pick Amy up, carry her to me, saying “here’s your baby now,” (the exact words spoken when we first met her), and putting her in my arms. I would hug her, exclaiming how delighted I was to have such a beautiful daughter.

We played this game until Amy was too big for me to hold in my arms any longer.

We thought the enactment would give her sense of what happened and would also reassure her about how much we wanted to be her parents.

Despite this, Amy didn’t seem to realise what being adopted meant until she had been at school for about a year and some of the other girls had talked to her about it. I truly think that this was the first time she had realized that it meant that she had “other” parents somewhere out there and this made her “different” from her schoolmates.

She would come home in tears each afternoon for a few weeks, wanting us to find her Chinese parents so that they could come to the UK to live next door to us, so we could all be together. Amy never once said, interestingly, that she wanted to go back to China herself to live with her Chinese parents there, leaving her life in the UK behind.

She also went through a phase of telling me that I couldn’t tell her what to do as I wasn’t “even her real mother.”

We tried to explain how difficult things had been in the part of China she had been born in during the Spring of 1998 and that her parents had had no choice, that they had not been able to care for her, that they were needed to help regenerate the area and that China was their home.

We have always tried to bring Amy Tong Fang up to have respect for herself and others and particularly to have respect for her Chinese parents

Amy: I remember being sad and crying because my Chinese parents couldn’t come to live next door to us and because I never saw them.

I really missed them and although I didn’t remember either of them at all, I felt like there was a great big hole somewhere in my heart.

I told my English mum that it would make me feel better if she bought me expensive presents or let me ride my bike all around the house.

If I felt annoyed with her, I also used to tell her that I was going to go back to China to find them, but I never got further than the bottom of the garden, before I came back.

We used to talk about my Chinese parents sometimes and about what might have happened to them and why they hadn’t been able to care for me. 

Both: I think if we did it all over again, it would be better if Elaine could manage never to cry when Amy did and if she hadn’t told people quite so readily that Amy was adopted in order to stop speculation about her as sometimes it made her feel that her adoption was a more important thing about her than it really was.

About the Authors:

Elaine Rizzo (Elaine Masters) works in finance as a licensed insolvency practitioner for ClearDebt a company based in Manchester. Her daughter Amy Masters is now eighteen and at college. She enjoys art and design and her ambition is to become a photographer when she graduates. Both now live near Cardigan in West Wales.

It was an honour to have Elaine & Amy on my blog today.

This book will be published by Clink Street Publishing on March 21, 2017.

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from the following link:

Amazon UK

#BookReview
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
by Lisa See @Lisa_See @ScribnerBooks

Synopsis:

A thrilling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa See explores the lives of a Chinese mother and her daughter who has been adopted by an American couple.

Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate—the first automobile any of them have seen—and a stranger arrives.

In this remote Yunnan village, the stranger finds the rare tea he has been seeking and a reticent Akha people. In her biggest seller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, See introduced the Yao people to her readers. Here she shares the customs of another Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha, whose world will soon change. Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, translates for the stranger and is among the first to reject the rules that have shaped her existence. When she has a baby outside of wedlock, rather than stand by tradition, she wraps her daughter in a blanket, with a tea cake hidden in her swaddling, and abandons her in the nearest city.

After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity of her village to encounter modern life while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley’s happy home life, she wonders about her origins; and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for generations.

A powerful story about a family, separated by circumstances, culture, and distance, Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane paints an unforgettable portrait of a little known region and its people and celebrates the bond that connects mothers and daughters.


Book Rating: 8/10

Atmospheric, evocative, and remarkably researched!

This story is predominantly set in a mountainous village in rural China where the Akha subsist off the tea tree leaves that grace the landscape and are governed by the ancient superstitions, traditions and spirituality passed down from generation to generation.

The prose is descriptive and precise. The characters are genuine, strong, intelligent and hardworking. And the story has two distinct plots; one involving the coming-of-age, independence, perseverance and success of Li-Yan as she bravely follows her aspirations beyond the confines of her home; and the other which details the struggles and difficulties faced by her daughter, Haley, being raised by adoptive parents of a different race, culture and country than that of her ancestry. 

I would have to say that although I found the history of tea production and insight into the ethnic minorities of China incredibly fascinating and enjoyable in this novel the ending felt just a little bit rushed. I would definitely have appreciated and welcomed a few more pages dedicated to the climactic mother-daughter reunion at the end.

However, overall this book is well written, engrossing and well worth the read.

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Scribner, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is due to be published on March 21, 2017.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaIndigoBook DepositoryB&NKobo

For more information on Lisa See, visit her website at: LisaSee.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @Lisa_See

#BookReview
The Secrets You Keep by Kate White @katemwhite @HarperCollins

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wrong Man and Eyes on You comes a harrowing new psychological thriller about a successful self-help author who suddenly finds her life spiraling dangerously out of control.

What would you do if you realized that your new husband, a man you adore, is keeping secrets from you—secrets with terrifying consequences?

Bryn Harper, an accomplished self-help author, already has plenty to deal with. She’s still recovering from a devastating car accident that has left her haunted by recurring, smoke-filled nightmares. Worse still, she can’t shake the ominous feeling her dreams contain a warning. 

In the beginning, Bryn’s husband Guy couldn’t have been more supportive. But after moving into a new house together, disturbing incidents occur and Guy grows evasive, secretive. What the hell is going on, she wonders? Then, a woman hired to cater their dinner party is brutally murdered.

As Bryn’s world unravels—and yet another woman in town is slain —she must summon her old strength to find answers and protect her own life. Her nightmares may in fact hold the key to unlocking the truth and unmasking the murderer.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

Engrossing, suspenseful and entertaining!

This is a psychological thriller that emphasizes how many deep and dark secrets people can truly have and questions is there anyone you can really trust.

The main character, Bryn, is confused, scared, and determined; and the supporting characters are suspicious, complex, and secretive.

The story is told in first-person narration and uses a stream of consciousness style to give context and insight into the main character’s thoughts, feelings and motivations.

The writing is well done and the plot is rife with intrigue, red herrings and tension.

Overall, this story is not extremely fast-paced, but is definitely a captivating, mysterious, enjoyable read that will certainly keep you guessing until the very end.

Thank you to Edelweiss, especially Harper Paperbacks, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is due to be published on March 21, 2017.

Pick up a copy of this story from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaIndigoKoboB&N

For more information on Kate White, visit her website at: katewhite.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @katemwhite

#BlogTour #GuestPost
Secret Demon 2 by C.L. Ryan

Synopsis:

Once again the Murphy household is in chaos, and on top of that a rogue Demon is on the loose and has taken up residence on the estate, with dire consequences. Tom is still working away, leaving Patsy alone and struggling with day to day living and her own Demon. Megan has a very important cooking exam to pass, but money is short for the ingredients. Bonfire night, which is the biggest night of the year is approaching fast, and Patsy cooks for the whole street, and on top of that the family have the worry of being evicted from their house, as they are being relentlessly bullied by the local police Sargent who now knows the families secret. Will they survive?

And Now C.L. Ryan:

Well here I am at the age of fifty seven, Grandmother of two, totally dyslexic and being asked to do a guest post.  

Question? How did this writing malarkey all start? I was recently asked. Good question I replied, now let me think.

About three years ago, my partner suddenly became afflicted with a terrible eye disease, which needed a lot of very nasty and serious treatment to save his sight. This meant hours of travelling to Bristol Eye Hospital, up and down sometimes as much as twice a week. This actually wasted so much time it was unbelievable, I would be sat in the car outside sometimes for hours on end, waiting for him to stumble out into the brightness after his treatment, only to come back again a couple of days later, and do this all again.

After one particular day, where I was waiting nearly three hours in the car, my brain numb, listening to the radio, and reading at least two daily papers, and I magazine, thinking to myself, I decided to have a clear out of one of the cupboards at home, that I knew held about eight or nine of my old A4 writing notebooks, which I always took with me whenever I went anywhere, especially holidays, but never threw away when I got home.   I thought I might bring them with me, and make some notes on shopping for the week, and what little jobs needed to be done at home ect, just something to scribble on to keep me from going insane, while I was waiting in the car, and of course I could get rid of all those that were full and needed throwing away. Good job I didn’t. When I got home and went to the cupboard and started going through them all, I was flabbergasted reading through them, some dated as long as twenty years ago, when I was learning to dive in the red sea, and there it was again and again and again, the same thing. Although the name of the book has changed now, all these writing books that I have saved revealed to me all my scribblings, notes, thoughts ,traumas, events, oh my goodness, it had been staring at me, right in my face for so long, and here it was again shouting at me very loud!!

The next day we were going to the hospital, my partner spied this pile of notebooks in the back of the car “what in god’s name are you doing with that pile of rubbish?” he asked me, seeing the back seat piled up high. I smiled back at him and replied, “oh just something for me to do while I am waiting for you”. My brain was fizzing on the way to Bristol, some twenty seven miles from Weston Super Mare, which usually took from between one hour, to one hour and twenty minutes depending on the traffic, and I couldn’t wait to get him out of the car, once we had parked, “go on hurry up don’t be late for your appointment” I shouted at him, I was so excited just trembling at the thought of getting my hungry paws onto this pile of books, and start reading what I had already written some time ago. Three hours later, I had written my opening paragraph, not even realizing while I was sat there, a traffic warden had given me a parking ticket for running over the time I had purchased, I was so engrossed in what I was doing, suddenly jumping up as my partner banged on the window to let him in, I was in heaven, away with the fairies and angels in my own little inner space, and that was it, I was off, succumbed into the world of writing, literature and all the ups and downs this business brings, I was suddenly in love, in love with doing something, for the first time in my life for me!! Yes me!!

After three long years of emotional ups and downs, tears, frustrations, and long nights and early mornings at the computer, she was finally born, Secret Demon my little baby girl, my nurtured inner child came out into the big wide world, and I am so very proud that she has.

Would I do this again, yes of course, I wrote so much over the last three years, I now have 3 books and I am just finishing the fourth.

Book two is just about to be published. Excited, you bet!! Just can’t seem to put the pen down, and all this from just being bored and deciding to look back into a pile of old A4 writing books I kept from my travels.

All the time I was bored and needing to be fulfilled, and seemed to be wasting time, the one thing I yearned for all along was right under my nose, I just kept passing it by. So go on! Open up those cupboards, have a clear out, check your junk, you might just find something very precious, just like I did!

About the Author:

After over thirty years working in the hospitality sector Bristol-born C.L Ryan is now living in Somerset with her partner. Also a psychic medium C.L Ryan’s life experiences have influenced and inspired her paranormal series Secret Demons. Her other passions are cooking and diving —and she is a qualified BSAC Diving Instructor, BSAC Open Water Instructor and BSAC Advanced Diver— completing dives around the world from Tobago to Minorca and closer to home in Cornwall. Her first book Secret Demon 1 was published by Mirador December 2015.

It was an honour to have C.L. Ryan guest post today!

This book will be published by Mirador on March 14, 2017.

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer.

For more information on C.L. Ryan, visit her website at: angelicalskies.co.uk

#BookReview
City of Friends by Joanna Trollope #JoannaTrollope @PGCBooks

Synopsis:

She glanced at her phone again. There were appeals from the girls, from her colleagues, a text from Steve reading with uncharacteristic imperiousness, ‘Call me.’ She couldn’t. She couldn’t call anyone . . . She leaned forward, gripping the edge of the bench, and stared at the ground. God, she thought, am I losing my mind? Is this what happens when you lose your job? 

The day Stacey Grant loses her job feels like the last day of her life. Or at least, the only life she’d ever known. For who was she if not a City high-flyer, Senior Partner at one of the top private equity firms in London? As Stacey starts to reconcile her old life with the new—one without professional achievements or meetings, but instead, long days at home with her dog and ailing mother, waiting for her successful husband to come home—she at least has The Girls to fall back on. Beth, Melissa and Gaby. The girls, now women, had been best friends from the early days of university right through their working lives, and through all the happiness and heartbreaks in between. But these career women all have personal problems of their own, and when Stacey’s redundancy forces a betrayal to emerge that was supposed to remain secret, their long cherished friendships will be pushed to their limits.


Book Rating: 8/10

Thought-provoking, intriguing and deeply moving!

This is Joanna Trollope’s twentieth novel and once again she has written a mature story that delves into the complexities and inevitability of change on relationships, both familial and friendship, graciously.

The characters are strong, ambitious, troubled and real. The prose is smooth and sophisticated. And the plot is an engaging mix of depth, emotion, determination, acceptance, communication, love and support.

Overall I would have to say this is an enjoyable, satisfying story that highlights the difficulties and struggles women still face today when juggling high-powered careers, marriage and motherhood and reminds us how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go.

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Publishers Group Canada, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links. 

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaIndigoBook DepositoryKobo

For more information on Joanna Trollope, visit her website at: joannatrollope.com

#BookReview
A Cottage in Cornwall by Laura Briggs @PaperDollWrites

Synopsis:

Spring is in the air at Cliffs House, the charming Cornish estate that Julianne Morgen has come to think of as home. Her next big event is a personal favor to her employer: coordinating the perfect wedding for Lady Amanda’s friend and mentor, artist Constance Strong, whose late-in-life courtship is worthy of the storybooks themselves. 

But as if helping Lady Amanda isn’t enough to occupy her mind, Julianne finds herself distracted by personal matters. Her long distance romance with Matthew Rose, the handsome and brilliant horticulturist has been on the rocks for weeks now – and when Matthew suddenly returns to Cornwall, he brings news with him that could change everything between them. 

Can Julianne help Lady Amanda pull off the perfect surprise wedding for a case of true love? And no matter the odds they face, will Julianne and Matthew finally find their own happily ever after?


Book Rating: 8/10

Sweet, heartwarming and enchanting!

This is the third novella in the Cornwall series and once again love is in the air at “The Cliffs” estate where the staff are busy preparing for a surprise forest-themed wedding complete with stunning floral displays and delectable desserts.

The writing is vividly descriptive. The characters are kind, dependable and endearing. And the plot is a thoroughly engaging tale filled with humour, charm, emotion and tenderness.

Overall this is definitely a wonderful, romantic tale that’s perfect for an afternoon read.

Thank you to Laura Briggs, the author, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now and can be purchased from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

For more information on Laura Briggs, visit her website at: paperdollwrites.blogspot.com

or follow her on Twitter at@PaperDollWrites

#BookReview
The Mercury Travel Club by Helen Bridgett @Helen_Bridgett @RedDoorBooks

Synopsis:

‘Hi, I’m Angela. My husband ran off with the caterer we hired for our daughter’s graduation party – pleased to meet you.’

Meet Angie Shepherd who, after 24 years and 11 months of marriage, finds herself divorced and driven by friends and family to move on. From hangover to makeover, Angie steps firmly away from the sensible knitwear, and launches into every adventure on offer – from baking classes and book groups, to speed dating, and even ‘The Granny-Okes’, a 1980s tribute act and YouTube sensation.

But Angie needs more than a bar of galaxy and a night in with Murder She Wrote… what she dreams of is entrepreneurial success. Channelling her inner Richard Branson, the light bulb moment happens: it’s time to take the plunge and invest her divorce settlement into The Mercury Travel Club, an exciting new business venture. But as the Travel Club gets going, things never go according to plan, and in this digital age a little chaos brings the fame she’s been looking for.

Set in present-day Manchester, this classic mid-life journey features the 1980s soundtrack from Angie’s youth, and sees her travel the world whilst coping with life after the Ex. Angie’s journey is the catalyst her friends need to examine their own lives; as they start to find their true callings, will Angie find hers?


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Exceptionally sweet, pleasantly whimsical and incredibly funny!

This is an intelligent, engaging story about moving onward and upward after divorce and reminds us to always grab life by the horns no matter your age.

The writing is descriptive and smooth. The characterization is spot on, with a whole gang of quirky, unique and lovable characters. And the plot is a good mix of family drama, friendship, emotion, humorous escapades, as well as some great 80s references and flashbacks.

This truly is a lovely, heartwarming debut novel that will make you smile, amuse you from start to finish, and will definitely leave you hoping for more.

Thank you to Helen Bridgett and RedDoor Publishing for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is due to be published on March 16, 2017. 

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaKoboIndigo

For more information on Helen Bridgett follow her on Twitter at: @Helen_Bridgett

#BookReview
Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens @ChevyStevens @StMartinsPress

Synopsis:

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband was sent to jail and she started over with a new life. Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When her ex-husband is finally released, Lindsey believes she’s cut all ties. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But can he really change? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought? 

Chevy Stevens targets her readership with a novel that hits all the notes they come to expect from her—and ratchets up the stakes even more in a novel that explores the darkest heart of love and obsession.


Book Rating: 9/10

Skillfully constructed, menacing and incredibly gripping!

This is a riveting, suspenseful thriller that reminds us how easy dominance, intimidation, manipulation and obsession can be mistaken for love and how long-lasting the emotional, psychological and physical effects of domestic abuse has on its victims.

The characters are strong, resolute and wounded. The writing is flawless. And the character-driven plot with its past/present style, fast-pace, twists, turns and surprises keeps you engaged, immersed and on the edge of your seat from the very first page.

What more can I say? This truly is a well written mystery about survival, friendship, familial relationship, motivations, secrets, fear and revenge that I highly recommend.

Thank you to NetGalley, especially St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is due to be published on March 14, 2017.

Pick up a copy of this story from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaIndigoBook DepositoryKoboB&N

For more information on Chevy Stevens, visit her website at: chevystevens.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @ChevyStevens

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