Friday, 2 June 2023

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ An Italian Island Summer by Sue Moorcroft

25 May 2023

My thanks to the publisher
and to Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to the blog tour

After her marriage falls apart,Ursula Quinn is offered the chance to spend the summer working at a hotel on a beautiful island off the coast of Sicily, Italy. Excited by a new adventure, she sets off at once. At Residenza dei Tringali, Ursula receives a warm welcome from everyone except Alfio, son of the Tringali family. He gave up his life in Barcelona to help his mother Agata with the ailing business, and is frustrated with Ursula’s interference–and she in turn is less than impressed with his attitude. As they spend more time together, though, they begin to see each other in a different light.But what with Ursula’s ex-husband on her tail, family secrets surfacing and an unexpected offer that makes Alfio question his whole life, there’s plenty to distract them from one another. Can she face her past and he his future, and together make the most of their Sicilian summer.

πŸ“– My Review..

After a disastrous marriage break-up Ursula Quinn escapes to the beautiful Italian island of Ortigia in Sicily to take up the offer of boarding at Residenza dei Tringali in return for helping with general hotel duties. This leaves Ursula time to explore her gift for creating ceramics and experiencing tutelage with a talented ceramist. All seems to be going well until Alfio, the son of the hotelier arrives home, and he and Ursula don't get off to the best of starts but gradually the atmosphere between them softens and Ursula soon finds her life heading in an unexpected direction.

I loved the rapport between Ursula and Alfio which helps to bring a real feeling of Italian sunshine to what is, in effect, a lovely, love story. Alongside the romantic element of the story there's also lots of complicated family dynamics to contend with but that's what this author does so well, her characters are always believable with real life issues which sometimes get in the way of life and love. The wonderfully quaint island of Ortigia comes alive in the beautiful descriptions of life on the island. The sights, sounds and aromas of an Italian summer are imaginatively recreated so that it really does feel like you are sitting alongside Ursula and Alfio as they sip ice cool Birra Moretti, relishing the cool of a Sicilian evening.

Beautifully written as all these author's stories are  An Italian Island Summer is a perfect summer read, ideal for long, lazy afternoons in the garden.

About the Author

Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times bestselling author, #1 on Kindle UK and Top 100 on Kindle US and Canada. She writes two books a year for publishing giant Harper Collins and has won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Novel of the Year, Readers’Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary. Her novels, short stories, serials, columns, writing‘how to’and courses appear around the world.

Twitter @SueMoorcroft #AnItalianIslandSummer

Instagram @SueMoorcroftAuthor

@AvonBooksUK @ rararesources

Thursday, 1 June 2023

🎧 Featured Book of the Month ~ Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus



Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.

But it's the 1960s, and despite the fact that she is a scientist, her male peers are very unscientific when it comes to equality. The only good thing to happen on her road to professional fulfilment is a run-in with famous colleague Calvin Evans, legend and Nobel nominee. He's also awkward, kind and tenacious. Theirs is true chemistry.

But life is never predictable and three years later Elizabeth Zott is an unwed, single mother and star of America's best loved cooking show Supper at Six. Her singular approach to cooking - 'take one pint of H2O and add a pinch of sodium chloride' - and empowering message prove revolutionary. Because Elizabeth isn't just teaching housewives how to cook, but how to change their lives.

πŸ“– 🎧 My Review..

I have to own up to being rather late to the party with this one as it was published last year but with an Audible credit newly arrived in my in-box I decided to listen to the words and haven't been disappointed as it's a wonderfully immersive sort of read.  

Beautifully narrated by Miranda Raison, Elizabeth Zott comes gloriously alive, along with all her single-minded eccentricities, her foibles and her determination to empower women, not just in the work place, but also in the home. Elizabeth’s brilliant analytical brain is overshadowed by the misogynistic attitude of the men working alongside her, as even in the laboratory, Elizabeth, although an exceptionally gifted scientist, is seen as second best and not good enough to be one of the boys. However, it is her meaningful relationship with fellow scientist Calvin Evans which takes Elizabeth Zott's life in a very different direction.

Thanks to skilful storytelling we get to know Elizabeth very well, and whilst at first I wasn’t terribly keen on her, I did start to warm towards her as we gradually get to know her as woman, a scientist, a mother and finally a celebrity hosting a successful TV programme. I found Lessons in Chemistry to be a real breath of fresh air, it’s an interesting read which kept me entertained from start to finish. Elizabeth Zott is funny without meaning to be and her deep bond with 6:30, meaning will become apparent if you read the book, is so endearing that I couldn’t help but come to love her. Elizabeth is definitely one of those characters who stays with you long after the book is finished.

I have no hesitation in making Lessons in Chemistry my Featured Book of the Month for June.

Bonnie Garmus was recently awarded Author of the Year at The British Book Awards 2023

Twitter @bonniegarmus #LessonsinChemistry

@DoubledayUK @TransworldBooks


Wednesday, 31 May 2023

πŸ“– Book Review ~ New Beginnings for the Surplus Girls by Polly Heron


5 April 2023

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

Manchester, 1923: Jess Mason is determined to make her own way in the world.

When a misunderstanding on a job application means she's appointed manager for Holly Lodge, a home for old soldiers, she must convince the owner that she can run things just as well as any man - if not better.

Tom Watson has not been the same since the war. Traumatized by his experiences on the battlefield, he has vowed to himself that he must go through life alone. But when he takes on the job to renovate Holly Lodge and meets Jess, all the walls he built around himself start to come crumbling down.

As challenges arise in the opening of the new soldiers' home, Jess must fight tooth and nail to hold on to her precious new role. And as her and Tom grow closer, she can't help but wonder if there is room in her life for both love and the career she's always dreamt of...

πŸ“– My Review..

Being one of the surplus women in the aftermath of the Great War was never going to be easy especially when post-war jobs were scarce and priority was given to returning soldiers. Attitudes towards women in the work-place were fraught with prejudice and very few women were recognised for their contribution. 

Jess Mason has had to fight every step of the way and even her probationary role as manager of a new care home for ex-soldiers doesn't come with a guarantee of permanent employment because first she must prove that she's up to the task by an employer who is embarrassed at the prospect of employing a woman in  managerial role. What then follows is a lovely continuation of these historical novels which have introduced us to The Surplus Girls who live, work and love in this corner of south Manchester, a place which is filled with interesting salt-of-the-earth characters who have brought the story to life on so many fascinating levels. Although this is very much Jess Mason's story it has also been a real treat to see her mingle with those characters who have come to love from previous stories, especially Vivienne Atwood, and Miss Patience and Miss Prudence who run the local business school. I especially loved getting to know Jess, she's a steadfast heroine with so much to offer and her burgeoning relationship with Tom Watson, a local builder, adds a frisson of will they, won't they romance.

As always, the author writes with such passionate commitment, bringing to the forefront ordinary people who were simply going about their lives as best they could in the aftermath of a war which caused so much personal tragedy. Beautifully written, New Beginnings for the Surplus Girls is a story of hope and friendship, and about finding love unexpectedly and going forward into a brighter future.

About the Author

Polly Heron is a historical saga writer living on the North Wales coast. She is originally from Manchester, which is where her books are set.

Twitter @Polly_Heron #NewBeginningsforTheSurplusGirls 


Saturday, 27 May 2023

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ An Unsuitable Heiress by Jane Dunn


Boldwood Books
22 May 2023

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book and to
Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to the blog tour

Following the death of her mother, Corinna Ormesby has lived a quiet life in the countryside with her cantankerous Cousin Agnes. Her father's identity has been a tantalising mystery, but now at nineteen Corinna knows that finding him may be her only way to avoid marriage to the odious Mr Beech.

Deciding to head to London, Corinna dons a male disguise. Travelling alone as a young woman risks scandal and danger, but when, masquerading as a youth, she is befriended by three dashing blades, handsome and capable Alick Wolfe, dandy Ferdinand Shilton and the incorrigible Lord Purfoy, Corinna now has access to the male-only world of Regency England. And when she meets Alick's turbulent brother Darius, a betrayal of trust leads to deadly combat which only one of the brothers may survive.

From gambling in gentleman’s clubs to meeting the courtesans of Covent Garden, Corinna’s country naivety soon falls away. But when she finds her father at last, learns the truth about her parentage and discovers her fortunes transformed, she must quickly decide how to reveal her true identity, while hoping that one young man in particular can see her for the beauty and Lady she really is.

πŸ“– My Review..

Since her mother died, Corinna Ormesby has lived a quiet life in the country with her cousin however, in order to escape a tedious marriage Corinna sets off for London cleverly disguised as a boy. On her adventurous and rather scandalous journey for a young woman in Regency England, Corinna meets three dashingly handsome young men who come to her rescue on more than one occasion. Quickly immersed in London's high society Corinna must keep up the pretence of being a young man about town but this proves harder than expected especially when she learns something important about her past.

This is a really lovely Regency story. I especially enjoyed getting to know Corinna, she's a feisty heroine, and the young beaus who surround her with so much eloquence, grace and good humour bring a real sense of fun to the story. There are twists and turns aplenty which bring to life all the subtle nuances of Regency life. The freedom afforded to young men is especially detailed especially when men seem to have all the fun whilst young women are seen either as a scandalous diversion or as suitable marriage material. There's a more serious side to the story which develops well and I enjoyed understanding a little more about Corinna's past and the revealing of her relationship with a father she thought she had lost is done with a nice gentle touch.

An Unsuitable Heiress is a fun-filled romp through Regency England, with a smattering of romance, a sense of adventure and a wonderful heroin at its core. What's not to like πŸ˜‰

About the Author

Jane Dunn is an historian and biographer and the author of seven acclaimed biographies, including Daphne du Maurier and her Sisters and the Sunday Times and NYT bestseller, Elizabeth & Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens. She comes to Boldwood with her first fiction outing – a trilogy of novels set in the Regency period, the first of which is to be published in January 2023. She lives in Berkshire with her husband, the linguist Nicholas Ostler.

Twitter @JaneDunnAuthor #AnUnsuitableHeiress

@BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers


Friday, 26 May 2023

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Slaughter House Farm by T. Orr Munro


Harper Collins
25 May 2023

CSI Ally Dymond #2

My thanks to the publishers for the invitation to read this book

A family secret worth killing for…

In the dead of night, 72-year-old Miriam Narracott is found wandering on Exmoor, holding a knife and covered in blood. Inside the family farmhouse lies the body of her adult son, Gabe.

CSI Ally Dymond is on compassionate leave, but when approached by the new DI, recently arrived from London and eager to have Ally's keen eye and local knowledge on the case, she finds herself being drawn back in.

With their only suspect Miriam unwilling – or unable – to talk, the team must dig into the family’s history to uncover a motive. Instead they find evidence that Gabe was involved with a criminal network, suggesting a completely different chain of events. But if Miriam isn’t the killer – then who is?

πŸ“– My Review ..

Late one night 72 year-old Miriam Narracott is found wandering Exmoor with a knife in her hands and covered in blood. When the body of her son Gabe is found on the kitchen floor of the farmhouse they shared, Miriam is the prime suspect for the murder, the only problem is that Miriam is unable to tell the detectives what actually happened on this fateful night. 

CSI Ally Dymond is still on leave following the catastrophic events which took place in the first book in the series and we pretty much pick up Ally's life just a few short months after Breakneck Point ended, so that those who are familiar with Ally's story will understand her reticence about returning to work or of leaving her teenage daughter alone for long. 

As with the first book, the story moves along at a cracking pace especially when a new DI approaches Ally for the expertise of her local knowledge and her ability to get right into the centre of the action. Slaughter House Farm is a tense and intricately plotted thriller which has everything I have come to enjoy in this author's books, there are twists and turns aplenty, more than enough secrets and sub-plots to keep you guessing, and at its heart is CSI Ally Dymond, a feisty investigator, who, regardless of her wish to live a quiet life seems to get swept up in intrigue and danger.

There is much to enjoy in this crime series, which has the possibility to run and run and whilst Slaughter House Farm can be read as a standalone, it does make sense to start with Breakneck Point. 

About the Author

Tina Orr Munro is a journalist, specialising in writing about policing and security. In another life, she was a police scenes of crime officer. She lives in North Devon.

Twitter @TinaOrrMunro #SlaughterhouseFarm 


Thursday, 25 May 2023

πŸ“– Publication Day Review ~ The Last Dance by Mark Billingham

25 May 2023

Detective Miller #1

My thanks to the publisher and Laura Sherlock PR for my copy of this book


Meet Detective Miller: unique, unconventional, and criminally underestimated...

A double murder in a seaside hotel sees grieving Detective Miller return to work to solve what appears to be a case of mistaken identity. Will this eccentric, offbeat sleuth find answers where more traditional police have found only a puzzle?

πŸ“– My Review..

In this first book of a new series we are introduced to Detective Declan Miller, who it must be said, has a rather unconventional approach to policing, but whose thoroughness and ability to leave no stone unturned makes him what matters, that is, a good copper and an altogether decent bloke. 

At the start of the novel Miller is recently returned to work, the reasons for this are slowly and thoughtfully unraveled, and his first job is to investigate a double murder which takes place on his home patch in the seaside town of Blackpool. What then follows is a tight and well controlled crime novel which has numerous red herrings, umpteen loose ends and more than enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. Rather unexpectedly, and away from his maverick style of policing, Declan Miller has a passion for ballroom, well, after all,  this is set in Blackpool, home of ballroom dancing, and so it is this softer side of his nature which allows us a tantalising glimpse into the man and the reasons for his, at times, unbearable sadness.

I'm not going to spoil The Last Dance by giving you the ins and outs of the plot, that's for you to find out for yourself but I have enjoyed spending time with Declan Miller, he's a detective I'd like to know more about and if the buzz of excitement on social media about this new series is anything to go off I would hope that Miller makes another appearance very soon.

About the Author

Mark Billingham was born and brought up in Birmingham. Having worked for some years as an actor and more recently as a TV writer and stand-up comedian his first crime novel was published in 2001. Mark lives in North London with his wife and two children.

Twitter @MarkBillingham #TheLastDance



πŸ“– Paperback Publication Day ~ Deception by Lesley Pearse


Penguin Michael Joseph
25 May 2023

My thanks to the publisher and edpr 

What happens when you learn the person closest to you has led a life of deception? After her mother’s funeral, Alice Kent is approached by a stranger called Angus Tweedy – a man who claims to be her real father. But why now? What could Angus hope to gain, thirty years on? As Alice wrestles with the possibility that her much-loved dad Ralph is not her real father, her quest for the truth takes her on a journey into the past. As she unravels the secrets her mother kept so desperately hidden, whatever the cost, a very different woman is unveiled; a woman shaped by trauma and poverty, and a childhood beyond her daughter’s imagination.

πŸ“– My Review..

When Alice Kent is approached by a stranger at her mother's funeral claiming to be Alice's father it opens up so many secrets about her mother's life that Alice doesn't really know where to start to get to grips with it all. Not wanting to upset the man she considers her father, or her young sister, Alice decides to trace her mother's life and so a story emerges of a woman who did what she had to do in order to survive.

Deception takes the concept of thinking we know everything there is to know about someone we love and yet as Alice discovers underneath is a story of secrets, lies and heartbreak. This is the kind of story which this talented author does so well, she knows how to build up the tension whilst at the same time giving us a story which really tugs away at the heartstrings. The poverty of the nineteen-fifties and the relative freedom of the swinging sixties is very much at the heart of the novel and I enjoyed following Alice's journey as she goes back in time to discover who exactly was the woman she called her mother.

What is always guaranteed with a Lesley Pearse novel is great entertainment and this thirtieth novel in her repertoire is certainly no exception as, right from the start, Deception captured my imagination and became a fascinating read about a woman who took the chances life gave her and made the best of what she had.

About the Author

© Charlotte Murphy 2014

Lesley Pearse is a global No.1 bestseller with fans across the world and sales of over 10 million copies of her books to date; this year she celebrates the publication of her highly anticipated 30th novel. One of the nation’s best-loved storytellers – a Lesley Pearse book is sold every 4 minutes in the UK – Lesley is a master of the gripping storyline, always introducing her readers to characters that are impossible to forget. Although there is no set formula or easily defined genre for a Lesley Pearse novel, strong heroines and jeopardy are pervasive, and she always engages the reader completely. 

Deception is Lesley’s 30th bestselling novel.

Twitter @LesleyPearse #LoveLesley30 #Deception