#BlogTour With This Kiss by Carrie Hope Fletcher

It’s my turn on the BlogTour With This Kiss by Carrie Hope Fletcher.

About the Author

Carrie Hope Fletcher is an actress, singer, author and vlogger. Carrie’s first book, All I Know Now, was a number one Sunday Times bestseller and her debut novel, On the Other Side, also went straight to number one.

Carrie played the role of Eponine in Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre in London’s West End for almost three years. She has since starred in and received awards for a number of productions including The War of the Worlds, The Addams Family and Heathers: The Musical. She is currently starring in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella in the lead role.

Carrie lives just outside of London with numerous fictional friends that she keeps on bookshelves, just in case. Carrie loves to connect with readers on social media. Find her on: Twitter – @CarrieHFletcher, Instagram – @CarrieHopeFletcher and @PrattleandPages

About the book

From the outside, Lorelai is an ordinary young woman with a normal life. She loves reading, she works at the local cinema and she adores living with her best friend. But she carries a painful burden, something she’s kept hidden for years; whenever she kisses someone on the lips, she sees how they are going to die.

Lorelai has never known if she’s seeing what was always meant to be, or if it’s her kiss that decides their destiny. And so, she hasn’t kissed anyone since she was eighteen.

Then she meets Grayson. Sweet, clever, funny Grayson. And for the first time in years she yearns for a man’s kiss. But she can’t… can she? And if she does, should she try to intervene and change what she sees?

Sweepingly romantic, utterly original, and backed by a show-stopping campaign, prepare to fall in love.

Review

Lorelai has a special gift that determines her life and the love she chooses or not. She knows that sharing an intimate moment – a kiss – also means being confronted with the stark reality of destiny. It’s too much to endure, which is why she is hesitant to love and care for someone. 

But love comes to us in unexpected moments and Lorelai has to navigate her feelings towards Grayson, which she finds increasingly hard to control, whilst simultaneously keeping him safe at all costs.

I must admit I was a little confused by the token trans moment, which fulfilled nothing other than an attempt to show allyship on the author’s part. It was awkward, written from a perspective of everyone except that character and was just a superfluous moment with no plot context.

It’s also Magical Realism that slots, as far as I am concerned, into the Young Adult category. It is written in a very young voice – teenage almost.

I loved the concept, but thought it wasn’t given the opportunity to flourish and grow into something with more depth. The concept or premise of whether a person would choose to take the same path and create the same history and life if they knew where that path would eventually lead them. If you knew how long that path would be.

Buy With This Kiss at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎HQ pub date 14 April 2022. At WaterstonesAt Harper Collins.

#BlogTour Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes – the 25th Anniversary Edition

‘Twenty-five years ago Rachel Walsh arrived on the literary scene. Funny, sad, headstrong and achingly vulnerable, fun-loving Rachel connected with readers the world over. Ahead of her return in Again, Rachel (17th February 2022), a brand new 25th anniversary edition of Rachel’s Holiday will be released on 9th December 2021.’

Pre-order the sequel – Again, Rachel at Amazon Ukat Waterstones

The 25th celebratory edition will include a new foreword with celebrations from some of Marian’s many fans, including Dawn French, Graham Norton an David Nicholls who reflect on the significance of Rachel’s Holiday since its first publication an what it continues to mean to them today. Buy the 25th anniversary edition of Rachel’s Holiday here

About the Author

Marian Keyes is a phenomenon. As a multi-million copy, internationally bestselling author, she has amassed an army of millions of fans around the world, who have been empowered by her honest portrayal of difficult topics and her relatable characters told with insight, warmth and humour.

As a beloved author herself, Marian is a passionate champion of storytellers everywhere, playing an active role in encouraging new voices. She has been the chair of judges for the Comedy Women in Print prize, a sponsor of the Curtis Brown Creative Marian Keyes scholarship, and most recently ran her own hugely popular Instagram Live series bringing free creative writing courses to thousands of viewers. Marian also uses her position to raise some of the most challenging issues of our time, including addiction, immigration, depression, domestic violence and the Repeal the Eighth campaign.

Both critically acclaimed ad commercially unstoppable, Marian’s fourteenth novel Grown Ups went straight to No.1 in hardback and paperback in four global territories: UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and was shortlisted for the British Book Awards Audiobook of the Year. In addition to her novels, Marian has written two collections of journalism, as well as been the star of the second series of her hit show Between Ourselves aired on BBC Radio 4 at the start of 2021.

Again, Rachel, the sequel to her ground-breaking novel Rachel’s Holiday, will be Marian’s fifteenth novel. Marian is based in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin.

Follow @MarianKeyes on Twitter or @marian_keyes on Instagram, Visit mariankeyes.com

About the book

She’s been living it up in New York City, spending her nights talking her way into glamorous parties before heading home in the early hours to her adoring boyfriend, Luke.

But her sensible older sister showing up and sending her off to actual rehab wasn’t quite part of her plan. She’s only agreed to her incarceration because she’s heard that rehab is wall-to-wall Jacuzzis, spa treatments and celebrities going cold turkey – plus it’s about time she had a holiday.

Saying goodbye to fun and freedom will be hard – and losing the man who might just be the love of her life will be even harder. But will the road to recovery help Rachel learn to love herself, at last?

Review

I bet I’m not the only one who finds it hard to believe it has been a quarter of a decade since this book was first published, and Keyes has certainly published a lot more fantastic books and reads since. What a wonderful way to celebrate her success and the impending release of the sequel to Rachel’s story, than by releasing an anniversary edition.

Rachel is a party girl enjoying life and love to the fullest, right? Her family doesn’t think so, and they are willing to make her confront her issues and her serious addictions in an attempt to save her.

Even though it’s not my first read of this book, I am a great believer in re-reading books at different times in our lives, because our frame of references and lessons in life define the way we experience a read. The person reading this book twenty-five years ago is not the same person who has just read the same book. This can be particularly evident when it’s a poignant book that left an impact in some way. 

A younger person will probably find Rachel’s problems and life very relatable, whereas someone who has been around the block for a few decades will see the possible outcomes and flaws. The charming carefree party girl suddenly becomes the young person struggling to cope.

I am really looking forward to reading the sequel and finding out where Rachel went from here, and indeed where the author decided to take her story. The frank, often hilarious and equally tragic approach combined with Keyes gift of gab and storytelling – is what makes this a story that resonates with many readers regardless of whether of when and how many times they read it.

Buy Rachel’s Holiday at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Penguin – Michael Joseph Books, pub date 9 Dec 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Always, in December by Emily Stone

It’s my turn on the BlogTour Always, in December by Emily Stone, and the tagline Because some books are too good to wait until Christmas… is absolutely spot on!

About the Author

Emily Stone lives and works in Chepstow and wrote Always, in December in an old Victorian manor house with an impressive literary heritage. Her debut novel was partly inspired by the death of her mother, when Emily was seven, and wanting to write something that reflected the fact that you carry this grief into adulthood, long after you supposedly move on from the event itself. Follow @EmStoneWrites on Twitter

About the book

For fans of One Day in December and Me Before You, Always, in December is the timeless, stay-up-all-night love story you’ll take straight to your heart.

Josie Morgan never looks forward to December. It’s always a reminder of the life she lost, twenty years ago. Now, she always switches off the radio when Christmas music comes on. She always wants to tear down the tinsel her flatmate insists on pinning up. And she always posts a letter she knows will never be read.

Max Carter never expected to find himself stranded in London just days before Christmas. He never expected it would be so hard to say goodbye to a woman he hardly knows. Then again, he never expected to fall in love.

But, this December, when Josie’s letter leads her to Max, a chance encounter will change their lives in the most remarkable way. And their story is only just beginning . . .

From London to Manhattan, from Edinburgh to the English countryside, Always, in December is a romantic journey that’s impossible to forget.

Review

Josie doesn’t like Christmas or anything to do with Christmas time. It’s a time she connects with trauma, pain and sadness, and on top of that she is dealing with a crushing betrayal. An accidental collision slowly gives her a new perspective on life and what she expects from life and those in her life.

Max certainly didn’t expect to find somebody like Josie by accident. She opens his eyes, which is especially important given the fact he is going through a tumultuous time himself. 

I always enjoy a contemporary romance or read that doesn’t feel the need to give readers the ending they tend to prefer. Instead it is very much a heartfelt, authentic experience of two people recognising what the other needs, especially when it comes to Josie. Sometimes you meet a person who will teach you a life lesson that will stay with you forever – the trick is knowing it when it happens.

I enjoyed the easy flow of the dialogue and the story, you could feel the characters connecting with each other and genuinely become invested in the outcome of their stories. I think Stone definitely has the potential to write with incredible depth and this is merely skimming the surface.

Buy Always, in December at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Headline; pub date 14th October 2021 I £7.99 I Paperback Original. Also available as audiobook and ebook. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman. ‘Some secrets are kept to deceive. Hers were kept to protect.’

About the Author

Hannah Beckerman is a novelist and journalist. She is a book critic and features writer for The Observer and FT Weekend Magazine and has contributed to a wide range of publications from The Guardian to Red magazine. As a regular chair at literary festivals and corporate events she has interviewed a host of authors and celebrities, as well as appearing as a book critic on BBC Radio 2 and Times Radio. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Hannah worked in television as a producer and commissioning editor for the BBC, Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel USA. She lives in London. The Impossible Truths of Love is her third novel. Follow @hannahbeckerman, Visit hannahbeckerman.com

About the book

The highly-anticipated new novel from bestselling author Hannah Beckerman, The Impossible Truths of Love slips between past and present, mother and daughter, to explore the secrets we keep to protect those we love.

As Nell’s father is dying, he makes a final declaration that hints at a long-held family secret. Feelings of isolation that have plagued Nell for years resurface, and suspicions about her past are raised. Thirty-five years earlier, Annie was devastated by a series of traumas: one shock after another that she buried deep in her heart. The decisions she made were motivated by love, but she feared even then that nobody could ever understand her actions, let alone forgive her.

As their stories unravel, a generation apart, Nell finally discovers the devastating truth about her mother’s past, and her own. A gripping, emotionally charged novel, The Impossible Truths of Love is a moving story about identity, secrets, and what it really means to feel that you’re one of the family.

Review

Nell is dealing with the impending death of one parent and the mental decline of another. As one reveals some odd sentiments about Nell, the other relives the past. Having to deal with loss and grief is made worse by domineering siblings and the sudden realisation that both parents were keeping secrets from Nell.

I am with Annie, gut instinct and certain genetics are most definitely a thing. Unfortunately she falls prey to this interesting phenomena when it comes to motherhood. There is an instant reorganisation of hierarchy from birth onwards – education, social status, job or age becomes irrelevant. There is this invisible, yet absolutely perceivable shift in the way people treat women who become mothers, even by other women. 

On top of that Annie has to deal with the burden of grief and the fact people think she is unstable, due to the trauma. The result is being ignored by everyone and silenced, but perhaps more tragically she is forced to overcome her natural response to reject, and her feelings of disgust. How easy it is to silence a woman who reacts to her instincts, because the world around her treats her as if she is unstable. Why doesn’t anyone listen?

I really enjoyed the subtlety of the read. It’s never overly dramatic, barring the usual family dynamics and dysfunction. It’s a well crafted story about the concept of love and identity, also what family means to each of us and how we define it. Our connections and where we lay the importance of how we are connected, which is different for each one of us. What matters to one, matters little to another.

It’s a great read. It’s emotional, honest and absolutely a scenario we can all relate to or indeed relate to the characters and their choices. We can imagine Nell’s reaction and follow the reasoning behind the decades of secrets. Definitely a book I will be recommending.

Buy The Impossible Truths of Love at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher:  Lake Union Publishing; Publication Date: 5th October 2021 | Paperback Original £8.99 and Ebook. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Love Life by Nancy Peach

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Love Life by Nancy Peach.

About the Author

Nancy Peach is a writer of commercial women’s fiction, a mother of three, and an owner of various ridiculous-looking pets including a dog who unexpectedly grew to be the size of a small horse. She is a practicing doctor working for both the NHS and a national cancer charity, and has been writing (in a terribly British, embarrassed, secretive sort of way) for as long as she can remember. 

Nancy has been longlisted for the Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 and shortlisted for the Harper Collins / Gransnet competition 2019. Her debut Love Life is published by One More Chapter at HarperCollins. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and is represented by Tanera Simons at Darley-Anderson’ You can find her on Twitter at @Mumhasdementia on Instagram @nancy.peach and Facebook NancyPeach.Writer  

About the book

Dr Tess Carter is no starry-eyed Jane Austen heroine. After all, if your dad left without a backward glance and you found your last boyfriend in bed with another guy, you wouldn’t believe in romance either. And the voices in Tess’s head – you know, the ones that tell you you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not clever enough – well, these voices are very loud. Very loud indeed. Especially when the proud and disagreeable son of one of her patients starts challenging her every decision.

Edward Russell might have a big job and a posh voice, but Tess is determined not to let him get to her, especially if she can get her inner monologue to stop with the endless self-sabotage. And Edward, it turns out, may be less of a prat than he first appears; he’s certainly handy in a crisis.

In the real world, where gentlemanlike manners and out-of-the-blue declarations of love are a story-book fantasy, it’s up to Tess to decide whose voice to listen to … and how to make her own heard.

Review

Tess is more than unlucky in love – more like a walking train wreck. At least her career is running smoothly, well until someone from the past returns, but unfortunately he doesn’t remember what happened between them. The two of them try to navigate professional and private relationships at the same time with little success

It’s often an emotional read, due to nature of the Tess’s work and the way Edward and Tess are connected, but perhaps more so because Tess is relatable. She is also very lucky have Jane in her ear – just saying.

What I really enjoyed about this concept was the angel and devil on your shoulder element, and as if that wasn’t enough to entertain the reader the author takes it one step further. With an homage to the world of literature, the grand dame of unrequited passion, love and complicated relationships – our angel with words of wisdom is Jane Austen herself. 

To counter the sensible, the prim and the proper is the devil himself – a tv talk show host. A man who revels in the salacious gossip, the misery, failure and misfortune of others. If whilst writing this a certain host of a popular now cancelled show was in mind, then I can only congratulate on the comparison, for he is indeed a pompous, egotistical man who believes himself to be better than others. He would indeed sneer and jeer from the sidelines.

The two figures narrate the life of our lovely doctor, and often influence her actions and words, as she finds herself in constant conversation with the image of her hopes and dreams, and simultaneously the image of her failure and self-doubt. It’s an incredibly clever plot and a delightful read.

Buy Love Life at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎One More Chapter pub date 16 Sept. 2021. Buy at Waterstones.

#BlogTour The Olive Grove by Eva Glyn

It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Olive Grove by Eva Glyn. The Olive Grove will be published by One More Chapter in ebook and audiobook on 3rd September and in paperback on 25th November.

About the Author

Eva Glyn writes emotional women’s fiction inspired by beautiful places and the stories they hide. She loves to travel, but finds inspiration can strike just as well at home or abroad.

She cut her teeth on just about every kind of writing (radio journalism, advertising copy, PR, and even freelance cricket reporting) before finally completing a full length novel in her forties. Four lengthy and completely unpublishable tomes later she found herself sitting on an enormous polystyrene book under the TV lights of the Alan Titchmarsh Show as a finalist in the People’s Novelist competition sponsored by Harper Collins. Although losing out to a far better writer, the positive feedback from the judges gave her the confidence to pursue her dreams.

Eva lives in Cornwall, although she considers herself Welsh, and has been lucky enough to have been married to the love of her life for twenty-five years. She also writes as Jane Cable.

Bibliography: The Missing Pieces of Us (One More Chapter, 2021), The Olive Grove (One More Chapter, 2021)

Follow @JaneCable on Twitter, InstagramFacebook, Visit evaglynauthor.com

About the book

An English woman searching for a different future. A man desperate to escape his war-ravaged past. Can these two find what they are looking for on the beautiful Croatian island of Korčula? 

Antonia Butler is on the brink of a life-changing decision and a job advert looking for a multilingual housekeeper at a beautifully renovated Croatian farmhouse, Vila Maslina, is one she can’t ignore.

Arriving on the tiny picturesque island of Korčula, Antonia feels a spark of hope for the first time in a long time. This is a chance to leave the past behind.

But this island, and its inhabitants, have secrets of their own and a not-too-distant past steeped in tragedy and war. None more so than Vila Maslina’s enigmatic owner Damir Maric. A young man with nothing to lose but everything to gain…

Review

Antonia throws all her eggs into one basket to embark on a risky new venture. She doesn’t expect to encounter a man with vision who is also someone burdened by the past – to the point of shutting down at times.

Kudos to Glyn for weaving a tragedy of the 20th century into this contemporary read, which tends to be glossed over and buried beneath the rubble of so many other atrocities and tragic events. Make no mistake this was a war of cruelty and proof of the base nature of the human species. It also changed the landscape of Yugoslavia forever.

The author makes a valid and interesting point during the story about the way people who live in war-torn countries or places that are frequently targets of violence and/or terrorism – they become almost desensitized to the violence. They go about their days as if everything is normal, whilst often being  eaten alive by inner fear, anxiety and PTSD.

Saying that, I think the aforementioned was at the core of this story and the fact the factions still exhibited hatred and blame towards each other after the end of the conflict, hence the decision made by the surrogate mother figure in this story. It’s a story about having belief in yourself and following your dreams, however it is also an important reminder of events that should never have happened and the world should have intervened in properly.

It may have a serious undertone, but the story also does due diligence to the beautiful country and surroundings. Simultaneously it’s also a tale of two people helping each other to grow, evolve and  discover the world they have each kept at a distance in their own way. 

Buy The Olive Grove at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎One More Chapter pub date 3 Sept. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Spanish House by Cherry Radford

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Spanish House by Cherry Radford.

About the Author

Cherry Radford has been a keyboard player in a band, piano teacher at the Royal Ballet School and a post-doctoral scientist at London’s Moorfield’s Eye Hospital. She began her first novel in a coffee break at a scientific conference. She writes uplifting novels about identity, renewal and finding soulmate romance when you least expect it. 

Having inherited a love of Spain and its culture from her half-Spanish mother, all her novels have a Spanish connection or setting. The Spanish House is the first of three stories set in the starkly beautiful and unspoilt Cabo de Gata region of coastal Andalusia where she now lives. Se is married to a musician and has two sons. Follow @CherryRad on Twitter, Visit cherryradford.com

About the book

One bizarre to-do list to earn her inheritance. One Spanish summer. One huge family secret. Juliana makes a modest living as an ‘ethnic’ TV/film extra – even though the only connections with her Spanish heritage are her cacti, Spanish classes, and some confused memories of a Spanish mother she hasn’t seen since she was seven.

When her beloved Uncle Arturo offers her the chance to discover her roots while housesitting his coastal home in a quiet corner of Andalusia, Juliana can’t believe her luck. Especially when he reveals that the house will be hers if she fulfills ten life-enhancing ‘Conditions’ within 90 days.

Redecoration of the house and a visit to the old film studio where her mother used to sew costumes seem ridiculously simple tasks for such a wonderful reward. But little does Juliana realize that there are family secrets and inherited rivalries awaiting her in sunny Spain, and the condition that she has to ‘get on with the neighbors’ – who include a ruggedly handsome but moody artist – may be harder than she thinks.

Review

Used to being little more than an extra on a movie set and a footnote in her own life, Juliana jumps at the strange proposal her uncle sends her. The opportunity to connect with her mother’s Spanish roots, whilst doing a little refurbishment on her uncle’s house. A house that could belong to her one day, but only if she fulfills a long list of very peculiar conditions.

The chance to retrace the steps of the mother who suddenly abandoned her is enough of a draw, and the feeling of being at ‘home’ in Spain is what ultimately seals the deal. What she doesn’t expect is to have her life and expectations completely turned upside down.

This reminded me of The Summer House in Santorini by Parks/Gale in a sense that both authors have the ability to draw the reader into their surroundings with such clarity and reality. It’s a gift to be able to convey the emotional connection someone has with a country or specific place with such accuracy. Clearly the only downside is the fact many readers, including myself, find themselves wanting to travel, live-in and experiences these places.

It’s the perfect escapism read. It’s a feel good read with plenty of laughter – the goat needs its own spin-off – and filled with family secrets. What’s not to like? Oh, and what a wonderfully perfect ending.

Buy The Spanish House at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Aria; pub date 12 July 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Count the Ways by Joyce Maynard

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Count the Ways by Joyce Maynard.

About the Author

Joyce Maynard is the author of nine previous novels and five books of nonfiction, as well as the syndicated column, “Domestic Affairs.”

Her bestselling memoir, At Home in the World, has been translated into sixteen languages. Her novels To Die For and Labor Day were both adapted for film. Maynard currently makes her home in New Haven, Connecticut. Follow @joycemaynard on Twitter, Visit joycemaynard.com

About the book

In her most ambitious novel to date, New York Times bestselling author Joyce Maynard returns to the themes that are the hallmarks of her most acclaimed work in a mesmerizing story of a family—from the hopeful early days of young marriage to parenthood, divorce, and the costly aftermath that ripples through all their lives Eleanor and Cam meet at a crafts fair in Vermont in the early 1970s. 

She’s an artist and writer, he makes wooden bowls. Within four years they are parents to three children, two daughters and a redheaded son who fills his pockets with rocks, plays the violin and talks to God. To Eleanor, their New Hampshire farm provides everything she always wanted—summer nights watching Cam’s softball games, snow days by the fire and the annual tradition of making paper boats and cork people to launch in the brook every spring. If Eleanor and Cam don’t make love as often as they used to, they have something that matters more. Their family.

Then comes a terrible accident, caused by Cam’s negligence. Unable to forgive him, Eleanor is consumed by bitterness, losing herself in her life as a mother, while Cam finds solace with a new young partner.

Over the decades that follow, the five members of this fractured family make surprising discoveries and decisions that occasionally bring them together, and often tear them apart. Tracing the course of their lives—through the gender transition of one child and another’s choice to completely break with her mother—Joyce Maynard captures a family forced to confront essential, painful truths of its past, and find redemption in its darkest hours.

A story of holding on and learning to let go, Count the Ways is an achingly beautiful, poignant, and deeply compassionate novel of home, parenthood, love, and forgiveness.

Review

I can imagine this story will resonate in a completely different way with readers, some will experience this as a tale of the complexities of love, relationships and family dynamics. To others it will be the autopsy of a marriage and of family life.

For me it didn’t evoke feelings of love, nostalgia or understanding, but rather very much the opposite. When a relationship has borne the fruits of many years of intimacy, friendship, love, laughter and birth, slowly disintegrates into ashes made up of resentment and disillusionment – the result can be a harrowing picture. Often that picture is lopsided and misinformed, as it is here.

By protecting her children from the truth of their father, which is the correct, therapeutic and socially acceptable thing to do, you run the risk of being at the short end of the stick. History is then written to report of the angry, scorned woman. The woman who left without reason, and the woman who abandoned the status quo. the woman who causes all discontent and problems in the children of said divorce. How utterly unforgivable, which is mirrored in the way her friends and children treat her. I was angry for her. I know women like her who have sat on the truth for decades to protect the emotions of their children, only to be treated with contempt, whilst the husband and father is lifted up on a pedestal. She has a right to own her anger.

Perhaps the clearest image to emerge is the fact that once you have suckled, pampered, taught and raised your children into adulthood and they decide to treat you with disdain for whatever imagined or real ailment they might have or problem they encounter, then perhaps you have served your obligation to them. Indeed there seems to be a 21st century wave of parental blame that encompasses everything a person may feel or do. 

I really enjoyed it. I thought Maynard had her finger on the pulse of family, especially when it is redefined involuntarily. She paints an accurate picture of the gender inequality when it comes to being a parent, in situations of divorce and in romantic or sexual relationships as one veers beyond the younger years. It’s an excellent read by an observant and skilled writer.  

Buy Count the Ways at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎William Morrow pub date 13 July 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Law of the Heart by Boris Starling

 It’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Law of the Heart by Boris Starling.

About the Author

Boris Starling is an award-winning author, screenwriter and journalist who has appeared on the Sunday Times bestseller list for both fiction and non-fiction. He has written seven crimes novels, five full-length non-fiction books (including, as a ghostwriter, the autobiography of British and Irish Lions rugby captain Sam Warburton) and twenty shorter non-fiction books. 

He created the Messiah TV series, which he adapted from his first novel and which ran for five seasons on BBC1. His other screen credits include The Kid, The Defector and Blood Over Water. He lives with his wife, children, greyhounds and chickens in West Dorset. Follow @vodkaboris on Twitter

About the book

Their love is against the laws of a merciless state – but the heart has its own power.

For rollercoaster designer Theo, living on the edge is just part of the job. He’s used to wandering the world perfecting thrills, his heart immune to commitment. But then a commission in repressive North Korea exposes him to emotions he’s never dared to feel.

Tour guide Min has to soul that wants to soar, but she knows it’s safer to build walls around her heart and mind. Skilled inn showcasing the mesmerising beauty of capital city Pyongyang without revealing its darker secrets, she introduces Theo to a country he will never forget – and begins to question her policy of quiet compliance.

But forgetting – or pretending to – is the key to survival for Min’s formidable grandmother Cuckoo. After a devastating heartbreak years ago, she learned that passion an oppression just don’t mix. As Min and Theo grow closer and long-held secrets come to light, all three are forced to confront emotions they’ve tried to suppress. In a country where following their hearts will put them in danger, how much are they willing to risk?

Review

First and foremost, Starling is a writer to take note of and the type of scribe to write the kind of books that burrow themselves into your mind forever. The other thing I hope resonates with readers, aside from the story that tugs at the heartstrings, is the difference between actually living in or under an oppressive regime and living in a democracy whilst having the freedom to shout about being oppressed by a regime.  

The claustrophobic stranglehold the state has on Min and everyone else is the first emotion that hit me. The frustration, the fact everyone just gives up and forgets any thought of resistance, because the repercussions to friends and family are disastrous – it creates this feeling of despair. Life is only ever what is allowed, condoned and acceptable. Constant surveillance, every person a potential informer. What could the consequences be for someone who by the simple act of falling in love – could potentially ruin her life and those of others?

Both Min and her grandmother Cuckoo share more than just a deep love for each other, they share the kind of risky choices and experiences that shatters hearts, changes lives and creates wounds that never heals.

This is a contemporary read and although the heart is the very core of this premise it would be a fallacy to underestimate the scathing political and social commentary the story is driven by. I think that is the beauty of Starling’s style, the way he leads his readers as they follow the bright sparkly emotional depth and turmoil, and yet cements the same path with the oppressive regime that seeps into every pore, element and corner of this read. Sublime. I can’t wait to read more.

Buy The Law of the Heart at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Lake Union Publishing pub date 1 Aug. 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Toxic by Lucy V. Hay

 It’s my turn to take part in the BlogTour Toxic by Lucy V. Hay.

About the Author

Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. Lucy is the producer of two Brit Thrillers, Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015), as well as the script editor and advisor on numerous other features and shorts. 

Lucy’s the author of Writing and Selling Thriller Screenplays for Kamera Books’ “Creative Essentials” range, as well as its follow ups on Drama Screenplays and Diverse Characters for fiction as well as screenwriting. Her debut crime novel, The Other Twin, is now out with Orenda Books and has been featured in The Sun and Sunday Express Newspapers, plus Heatworld and Closer Magazine. 

Follow @LucyVHayAuthor On Twitter, on Facebookon Instagramon Goodreads, Visit lucyvhayauthor.com 

About the book

It was supposed to be a summer of fun. What came next was anything but … Jasmine is 17, a fitness freak and neurotic. Her best friend Olivia is Jasmine’s polar opposite: overweight and unfit, Olivia is happy in her own skin, despite trouble at home. Best friends since nursery school, Jasmine and Olivia have each other’s backs until the glamorous Ellie arrives in town. Rich and popular, Ellie is everything Jasmine is not … but has always wanted to be. 

Jasmine is soon caught in the middle between her childhood friend and the new Queen Bee. Hurt by her oldest friend’s lack of loyalty, Olivia starts keeping her secrets of her own. As the rivalry between Ellie and Olivia heats up, Jasmine will make a single, devastating choice that changes everything. Book #2 in the ‘Intersection Series’, Toxic explores the lethal nature of fake friendship and is perfect for fans of Lauren Oliver’s ‘Before I Fall’ or Laurie Halse Anderson’s ‘Wintergirls’.

Review

Jasmine is seventeen and her biggest problem is having to deal with two friends who can’t stand the sight of each other. Being between them and having to choose either Olivia or Ellie makes life incredibly difficult for Jasmine, and it also means having to hurt people she is supposed to be ride or die with. 

What the alternate timelines and Groundhog Day scenario shine a light on is the often vacuous impulsivity and shallow reasoning behind the choices made by teenagers. One of those choices can mean the difference between life or death, pain or happiness. Such is the world of not yet adult humans.

This didn’t hit the spot for me. If I hadn’t read prior work by this author, which is far superior from a plot, storytelling and world-building perspective, it would perhaps be a different story. The premise of parallel timelines with the same characters experiencing the same day and similar circumstances with alternative endings, is actually an interesting one.

With a bit more finesse it could be so much better, and the same premise applied to a non YA crime scenario for instance, could potentially be a great read.

It’s a Young Adult read with an element of speculative sci-fi, the second book in the Intersection series.

Buy Toxic at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Littwitz Press; Illustrated edition pub date 10 Jan. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.