Ireland – Peace, Quiet and Lots of Reading!

Enjoying the peaceful Irish countryside – reading as usual

I have just returned home after a wonderful two-week holiday in Ireland. I took full advantage of the quiet countryside to catch up on some reading. In this photo I was engrossed in ‘Steel City Confidential’ , a new thriller by Anne Hagan. The Carlingford Mountains are behind me and The Irish Sea in front. I could have heard a pin drop in the garden of the cottage, so it was the ideal location to read.

The Irish Sea

Whilst there I also read ‘A Shot at Love’ by T.B. Markinson and ‘After Mrs Hamilton’ by Clare Ashton. I can certainly recommend a trip to the emerald isle for those seeking a space to relax. I was also able to get some writing done and squirrel away some ideas for future stories. Of course there are plenty of things to do for those days when you want to get out and about. I visited The Giant’s Causeway, Portrush, Dublin, Dundalk and had many lovely meals out at some truly fantastic restaurants. All in all a truly memorable trip.

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Review of ‘A Shot at Love’ by T.B. Markinson

‘A Shot at Love’ is what happens when an American political speech-writer finds herself unceremoniously dumped from her high-stress, high-stakes job and realises her life needs to change. Josie Adams has had it with the backstabbing and slimy world of politics. And Upper Chewford is a million miles away from that. Spotting a beautiful woman in the quaint Cotswolds village takes her breath away – but is she ready to change everything for love? Harry runs the local newspaper, after escaping the rat-race in London. She’s been unlucky in love and can’t believe someone as gorgeous and accomplished as Josie would ever love her. Seeing how they navigated through their insecurities kept me reading, desperate to know how it would all pan out. The other characters around them made it a well-rounded story. I found Josie’s mum, Eugenie infuriating at times – but her uncle, Clive, was endearing and really rather sweet. The book is romantic, sexy and funny. It is the perfect first book in the series, which will soon be followed by stories by Clare Lydon and Harper Bliss. It is such a feel-good story. It made me happy and I love T.B. Markinson for taking me to such a wonderful place and letting me be a part of it. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Say You’ll Love Me Again’ by Kiki Archer

This is the tenth and final book by Kiki Archer. And boy, will we all miss her- especially after reading this. It was quite a rollercoaster of a ride and the perfect story to sign off with. Piano teacher, Sophie is distraught after splitting from her soulmate, Jazz, a comedienne. Apparently straight up until setting eyes on Jazz, she fell hard. She tells the story of their relationship to her friend Laura who is training to become a life coach, the latest in a long list of jobs. Laura’s attempts to get the story out of Sophie were hilarious, but then Ms Archer surprised me by taking it off in a very different direction. The story is slowly revealed as layers are peeled back. One minute I was laughing out loud and scaring the neighbours, the next I was surprised at the depth of emotion. The funny moments were hilarious. Her description of a character having a ‘breast ledge’ took me back to high school and one of my teachers who had the aforementioned ‘breast ledge’. I was mesmerised by it, as was half of the school. The heat level was scorching between Sophie and Jazz. It was certainly not vanilla and will have you blushing. But Kiki Archer’s trademark humour had me in stitches even at these sexy moments. I loved it. And when I read the words ‘Say You’ll Love Me Again is Kiki’s 10th and final novel’, I shed a tear.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Muses’ by Elizabeth Andre

‘Muses’ by Elizabeth Andre is the second in the Paranormal Grievance Committee series and a very enjoyable read. Once again we are back with Julie and Maya and their motley crew of ghost hunters. In this instalment the group is hired by Lily, a woman desperately looking for an answer to her uncle’s death. A trio of ghostly figures are causing mayhem in the family home and Lily needs them gone. 

I like Elizabeth Andre’s writing style. It is light and fun and immersive. She makes me feel as if I am solving the mystery alongside them. I am a huge history fan and I love how the author weaved a story from the past, with wonderful detail, and the present day mystery. The great bunch of characters really make it for me too. Although Maya and Julie run the show, the other characters are allowed to shine. I really enjoyed it.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Fear of Falling by Georgia Beers

In ‘Fear of Falling’ Georgia Beers doesn’t take the obvious, easy way . She surprises me as she decides to take her story in altogether more satisfying and joyful routes. She doesn’t write formula, but goes way above that and she makes me love her characters. Sophie James is a world-famous singer getting over the heartache of her father-figure manager dying suddenly. When she is paired with a new manager, Dana Landon, how will she continue her career with someone she doesn’t know? I loved Sophie. She was at a turning point in her life, and she could have chosen to go in two different directions. The way everyone expected – or to finally be true to herself. Dana was strong and sure in her professional life, but her love life was a disaster. Her ex had left her behind without a thought and moved to the other side of the country. Dana has been left still confused. Will she let Laura back in? Or will she take the other path? I enjoyed seeing how the women got to know each other and brought out something unexpected. Sophie’s interactions with ordinary people were my favourite parts of her development. ‘Fear of Falling’ was romantic, feel-good and beautifully told. A lovely story that I can highly recommend.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘A Window to Love’ by Annette Mori

I’ve been an admirer of Annette Mori’s books for a few years now and I realise that it is her unique take on life that draws me in. She takes an idea and goes off in a direction I could never have imagined. She is funny and quirky and embraces love. ‘A Window to Love’ does all of that and more. Mandie and Gail meet in very unusual circumstances after both being involved in accidents. They click immediately and seem to be made for each other. But this is an Annette Mori story, so things are not as they seem. Will the two soul mates find true happiness? Well, I recommend reading it to find out as I don’t want to give away any spoilers.  It’s a lovely story, full of imagination and warmth. As always, she uses humour and love to make me feel invested in her characters. Bravo!

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘A Heart This Big’ by Cheyenne Blue

‘ A Heart This Big’ is the story of down-to- earth city-farm owner Nina and her fight to save her farm from litigation. When a child is hurt while riding on her property, his mother brings a law suit against Nina, threatening to ruin her. The farm is her life. In an attempt to save the farm she needs to convince high-flying lawyer Leigh Willioughby to represent her. Leigh is everything Nina is not. She’s sophisticated, well-dressed and not at all keen to take on the case. But Nina intrigues her and when she decides to go and see the farm for herself I so wanted her to help Nina.

I loved seeing how Leigh changed and how she saw the farm, as an outsider at first. The community aspect of the business was inspiring and Leigh began to see that there was more to life than money. Nina was a wonderful character. She was selfless, caring and responsible. The setting of a farm on the outskirts of Sydney was interesting. It was like an oasis, a peaceful, beautiful escape.  The developing relationship between the two women felt natural and true. There was a hint of angst throughout but it was pitched perfectly. The story was about love and belonging and finding the right balance. I liked the friendly dynamic between Leigh and Nina’s daughter, Phoebe. It worked really well and let us see a different side to each of those characters. I really enjoyed it. 

I was given this ARC for review. 

Review of ‘Addicted to You’ by Erin O’Reilly

Addicted To You’ is a story of obsession, sexual discovery and passion. It is also a story of love, redemption and realisation. Elin is young, naive and ripe for the picking. Older woman Marissa spots this right away and takes full advantage. She is predatory, manipulative and downright nasty. Boy did I hate her! I wanted Elin to see all of this for herself, but good people don’t always see when they are being used. I was so happy when Aimee came into the picture. Would Elin realise what a wonderful woman she was though? I enjoyed the character development in this book and seeing how they each dealt with changes in their lives. Erin O’Reilly always leaves me happy to have gone on the journey with her. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Perfect Match’ by Mildred Gail Digby

‘Perfect Match’ pleasantly surprised me in several ways. Set in a Jewish hospital in Japan, with a mixture of cultures represented, it opened my eyes to new ideas and characters. Paediatrician Megan is anxious, but not just about being new in the job. There’s more to it as we find out later. Hot shot surgeon Syler catches her eye – but will she act on it? There’s an oppressive element to the story and a character, Charles, who really irritated me. The author certainly knows how to write the ‘baddie’ well. Also Megan has to deal with worrying issues with patients In her care. I appreciated how the storylines were woven together. The romantic element to the story was very natural and ultimately very sexy. An enjoyable read and it’s good to know there will be more to come from this series. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Bold Strokes Nottingham 2019 – Books, Banter and Buddies

My signed book purchases

I’m just back from my first ever Bold Strokes event in Nottingham. What a weekend! After a delay getting there (due to a cancelled flight and subsequently four cities in a day to make it), I attended the ‘Meet and Speak’ at the Five Leaves Bookshop in the city. As soon as I was through the door I was greeted by a sea of friendly faces – Brey Willows and Robyn Nyx, Valden Bush, Carol Hutchinson, Isabelle Lonitz, Anna Larner and her wife, Jen Silver, Jane Fletcher and her lovely wife Joanie, Jody Klaire, Em and Ferb, Sam Skybourne, Lise Gold and her wife, Anne Holt and many more. After listening to some wonderful readings a few of us headed off to the Pitcher and Piano for drinks and chat. We sat outside in the warm night air until the early hours talking until we realised we had an event to get up for in the morning and headed off to our various hotels.

Lesfic Ladies deep in conversation
Anna Larner and Carol Hutchinson
Brey Willows

Saturday morning started with a welcome from the lovely Brey Willows. The room filled up quickly and we were treated to some fascinating panels – Challenging the Norms, Flowers and Wine, Playing with the universe, It’s a Writer’s Life and reading from the authors. I found hearing the authors read their own work made me want to buy more books. We were all able to mingle throughout the day and chat to the authors and get our book purchases signed. The After Party at the Pit and Pendulum nearby gave us a chance to socialise more. As we moved around the tables we all got to know some new people. The banter was fantastic.

Cari Hunter, Ileandra Young, Michelle Grubb and Charlotte Green
Cari Hunter
Charlotte Green, Robyn Nyx and Rebecca S Buck

Sunday brought some more panels, readings and a hilarious quiz. We all headed off to The New Foresters bar afterwards for a BBQ and lots of chat. Hours passed quickly as we met new people and old friends. The conversations brought us all together and made us realise just how much we all have in common. Getting to spend time together was energising and affirming – and I cannot wait for next year to do it all again.

Ladies Lunching – Kitty Kat, Sam Skybourne, Valden Bush, Jen Silver, Carol Hutchinson, Isabelle Lonitz
Michelle Grubb and Cari Hunter
Brey Willows, Ileandra Young and Stacia Seaman
Robyn Nyx and Brey Willows – our wonderful hosts for the weekend
A final farewell from our authors