Friday, 27 January 2017

White Lies and Wishes - Cathy Bramley

White Lies and Wishes
by Cathy Bramley

Buy Link:

About the book...
What happens when what you wish for is only half the story...?

Flirtatious, straight-talking Jo Gold says she’s got no time for love; she’s determined to save her family’s failing footwear business.

New mother Sarah Hudson has cut short her maternity leave to return to work. She says she’ll do whatever it takes to make partner at the accountancy firm.

Bored, over-eating housewife Carrie Radley says she just wants to shift the pounds – she’d love to finally wear a bikini in public.

The unlikely trio meet by chance one winter’s day, and in a moment of ‘Carpe Diem’ madness, embark on a mission to make their wishes come true by September.
Easy. At least it would be, if they hadn’t been just the teensiest bit stingy with the truth…
With hidden issues, hidden talents, and hidden demons to overcome, new friends Jo, Carrie and Sarah must admit to what they really, really want, if they are ever to get their happy endings.

A feel-good romantic comedy that's guaranteed to make you smile - perfect for fans of Carole Matthews, Trisha Ashley and Katie Fforde.

Your favourite authors have loved reading bestselling Cathy Bramley:
‘Delightfully warm with plenty of twists and turns’ Trisha Ashley
‘Engaging characters and a sweeping romance. This is delightful!’ Katie Fforde
‘A witty, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy’ Miranda Dickinson
‘The perfect romantic tale, to warm your heart and make you smile.’ Ali McNamara

About the author...
Cathy Bramley is the author of the bestselling romantic comedies Ivy Lane, Appleby Farm, Wickham Hall and The Plumberry School of Comfort Food (all four-part serialised novels) and Conditional Love. 

She lives in a Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two daughters and a dog.

Cathy loves to hear from her readers. 

You can get in touch via:

My thoughts...
It's no secret I'm a big fan of Cathy's and when I heard she had a new book coming out I waved my hand madly and was fortunate enough to receive an ARC for reviewing - huge thanks to Becky Hunter.

There are a handful of authors that I always pick up their latest book and read without even reading the blurb - from the very first book I read of Cathy Bramley's she was added to this list.  I had no idea what to expect with White Lies and Wishes and my expectations of a 'Cathy' book were met and then some.

Three women, Carrie, Jo and Sarah find themselves drawn together at the funeral of a mutual friends husband.  In my experience the normal conversations at funerals turn to our own lives and vowing not to put things off and fill our days because life is too short etc.  The girls chat and decide not to create a bucket list as such but to voice what their life wishes would be if they could be granted and agree to meet up to try and help support each other towards their goals.

This book is about the strength of friendship, how it's alright to aim for the impossible and that as we change and grow our hopes and dreams might change too and that is okay too.

The girls all tell each other their wishes but, it's soon very obvious that they haven't been entirely honest with either themselves or each other.  It isn't that they tell out and out lies more that they hold back.  It made me think, we all have an inbuilt need to protect ourselves laying your sole bare for others to see isn't easy - feeling mocked or having our ideas thought as stupid isn't top of anybodies list.

I loved the way that the girls true characters came out in the end - being drawn and repelled to each other like magnets.  There's always a mother type, the friend we know will sort our problems and point us back in the right direction - in this case it was Jo.  Although it has to be said she probably wouldn't have cast herself in the role - it's funny what others see in us that we don't.

As the story progressed they re-evaluated what they wanted from their wishes and surprisingly it wasn't always what they thought. I really loved the drive and determination of all three and when they each sat back, re-evaluated and went for their real dreams it was fab.

White Lies and Wishes made me think, how often do I open up and tell even my closest friends the whole story?   It also re-iterated something I already knew - friends , particularly close friends are important and friendship is two-way.

This is a book that makes you sit up and think, dreams are good but why not go for them, the reality might not be what you dreamt of, it could be better.  With the support of friends and family anything is possible.  I am going to suggest to my friends we put some wishes/goals in a jar and support each other to do them - such a fun positive way to start the year.

I can't recommend this book enough it was just lovely. Thank you Cathy for another book that I was sad to finish, characters that I could empathise with and a story that was up-lifting and thought provoking - you are the best :)

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Little Girl Lost - Carol Wyer

Little Girl Lost
by Carol Wyer

(Detective Robyn Carter crime thriller series Book 1) 
About the book...
A perfect family hiding disturbing secrets. A killer who wants the truth to be told. 

A teacher is found dead, close to the school where he works. 

A millionaire is murdered at a local reservoir. 

For Detective Robyn Carter, there’s no obvious link between the victims. Apart from one thing. The bodies both have the same grisly trophy beside them - a bloodstained toy rabbit. 

As Robyn starts to delve into the lives of the two dead men, her investigations lead her to Abigail, perfect wife and mother to beautiful little Izzy. What was Abigail’s connection to the victims? And why is she receiving threatening messages from an anonymous number? 

But as Robyn starts to inch closer to finding the killer, Izzy is abducted. 

Unless Robyn gets to the twisted individual in time, a little girl will die …

Gripping, fast paced and nail bitingly tense, this serial killer thriller will chill you to the bone. Discover Carol Wyer’s new series – at a special launch price.

Buy Links: 

About the author...
A humorous writer and blogger whose light hearted novels and articles encourage others to laugh at life and grow old disgracefully.
Her best selling novels have won several awards for humour and her witty non-fiction book, Grumpy Old Menopause won The People's Book Prize Award in 2015.

She has been interviewed on numerous BBC radio stations including BBC Radio 2 Simon Mayo and on BBC Breakfast television and Sky.
Carol writes for magazines and websites and also blogs for the Huffington Post HUFF/50.

As a child Carol Wyer was always moving, and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published by Safkhet and journalism in many magazines.

Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

My thoughts...
Huge thanks to Bookouture for an ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Something which I'm more than happy to give.  

Wow, where do I begin? I began this book knowing it was a psychological thriller but at the same time expecting it to be a little bit light hearted because it was written by Carol Wyer - she writes humorous, laugh out loud books - something this absolutely was not!  

I'm amazed as the ability to switch genre and produce a book that is both captivating and gritty making me want to read on and on - if only lunch breaks were endless, yet at the same time aspects of it were difficult to read.

Robyn Carter is working at a detective agency whilst taking a recuperating break from the police where she is a detective - she finds herself embroiled in a private investigation that she quickly realises can only be dealt with by the police.  Due back at work shortly she returns early to take on the case.

Carol has woven the lives of the many characters intricately into the plot.  It took me a little bit of keeping up with at first - we have the missing person, an ex music teacher who Robyn was initially commissioned to look for as part of a Private Investigation.  Then a murder made to look like an accident whist out jogging.  A child is abducted and the realisation that all of them are connected in someway to Abigail who is being blackmailed by an anonymous source makes for many chest tightening moments.

The story is told in both the present and the past and by the victims and the murderer - how Carol Wyer kept all those balls in the air I don't know but I'm thankful she did.  This is a fast paced book with short snappy chapters that leave no time to ponder as the plot unravels at an alarming rate.  A grippingly, captivating story that is just that little bit too awful for words - a story that made me want to read between my fingers at times. To say this is Carol Wyer's first foray into the thriller world is beyond amazing and Little Girl Lost is just the first in a series.

Thank you Carol for such a brilliant debut thriller, I look forward to book 2.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Watch me - Angela Clarke

Watch Me
by Angela Clarke

About the book...

The body of a 15-year-old is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like suicide, until a second girl disappears.

This time, the message is sent directly to the Metropolitan Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing.

DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton will stop at nothing to find her. But whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking.


My thoughts...
Avon books have just the best marketing campaigns and when I received an advance copy of Watch Me along with a mirror, giving me 24 hours to tweet a photograph I was intrigued.  I wasn't disappointed, Watch Me is a gripping, emotionally charged read that at times is so fast paced you don't have time to think and then slows just enough to grab a breathe before hurtling straight back int the abyss.  To say I was totally hooked is an understatement.  Angela Clarke pulls no punches, reading the story set over a 24 hour period was a pure adrenalin rush.  

D S Nasreen Cudmore is part of the investigating team, investigating a suicide note that was circulated by snapchat just before a teenage girl killed herself.  It all kicks off when their phones start pinging.  Snapchat again - this time an ultimatum.  It would appear another girl, a bit too close to the team has been taken hostage and the potential killer has given just 24 hours to find her or he'll kill her. Are the two linked is the question immediately on everyone's lips?

Nasreen drags childhood friend Freddie Venton into the investigation.  She helped with a previous case known as the #hashtagmurders - where the killer taunted the police via twitter.  Are the two cases connected? So many questions rattled around my brain as I raced around London on the hunt for a potential murderer with them.

I admire Angela Clarke's ability to produce characters that are hard and gritty, who get right under your skin.  Her ability to cut to the chase with sentences devoid of excess words - straight to the point and unambiguous then switching back with just a few words that showed the softer, more human side to each and every one of the team.  From Nasreen and Freddie, to top dog DCI Jack Burgone, DI McCain and even DI Pete Saunders. The latter and Nasreen butting heads at every turn with DI McCain playing good cop to his bad cop image.

My one regret is that I didn't log my bpm on my Fitbit - it went through the roof, especially in the final chapters - a total captivating read that I haven't stopped telling everyone about.  It's not often I can't make several stabs in the dark as to who the 'guilty party' or what the motive is but this time, I hadn't a clue.  There are some revelations that left me thinking WOW I didn't see that coming and I don't know anyone who wouldn't be captivated and gripped by Watch Me.  

Huge thanks to both Avon Books for the opportunity to read Watch Me and a special big thanks to Angela Clarke - this book was blimmin brilliant! 

About the author...
Angela Clarke is an author, playwright, columnist, screenwriter and broadcaster. Her debut crime thriller Follow Me was named Amazon’s Rising Star Debut of the Month January 2016, longlisted for the Crime Writer’s Association Dagger in the Library 2016, and shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Page Turner Award 2016. Watch Me is the second instalment in the Social Media Murder Series. Angela’s memoir Confessions of a Fashionista is an Amazon Fashion Chart bestseller. 

Her play, The Legacy, enjoyed its first run and rave reviews at The Hope Theatre in June 2015. She hosted the current affairs show Outspoken on Radio Verulam for six months in 2014, and has appeared on the BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4, BBC Three Counties and more. Her journalist contributions include: The Guardian, Independent Magazine, The Daily Mail, Cosmopolitan, and Writing magazine. 

In 2015 Angela was awarded the Young Stationers' Prize for achievement and promise in writing and publishing. She volunteers with Womentoring, and the RSA Meet a Mentor scheme, and others, to help encourage and support marginalised artists into the industry. 

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Angela lives with her husband and far too many books

Guest post...
How to find Your Writing Muse
Finding that creative spark to keep you motivated can be tricky, when ultimately the writing buck stops with you. Some call it Writer’s Block, I prefer to think of it as merely a passing trip hazard. Block sounds so immovable, right? Whatever you call it, we all panic when we think we’ve lost our writing mojo. So here are some ways I’ve found to help you calm and tap back into your creativity. It’s time to get your muse back on side: 
Go for a Walk
Get your coat and get outside! A change of scenery can help clear your mind and let your subconscious get back to working on your story. Plus, you never know what you might see that can help you untangle that messy plot point.
Have a Shower or a Bath
Many authors I know have confessed that the perfect idea just popped into their head while they were washing their hair. Something about being in the water just does it for your writer brain and gets those creative juices flowing. Have a soak. Play with your rubber ducky. And watch your muse float to the surface. 
Read a Book
Taking a break and reading someone else’s story for a while can help your mind relax and unwind. It’s also a good way to “refill the creative well” so to speak, since you’re not going around in circles on your own story. The same can be said for watching telly, or a film, or checking out an art gallery or museum. Ideas are all around us, sometimes we’re just looking in the wrong place.
Do Something Fun
When you’re frustrated by the words not coming, or you just can’t get the plot to fit together, you need to take a mental break. Removing yourself from your stress is the best way to get your muse to sit up and pay attention. Start a new hobby, or simply carry on with something you already do (see below) and you’ll find those words will start creeping back into your mind.
Spend Time Doing Other Creative Things
A lot of writer’s I know have multiple creative outlets. Whether you take photographs, crochet, knit, scrapbook or paint (I took up painting and drawing last year) - doing other creative tasks helps when your writing when it’s going slow. Your inner muse still gets the fulfilment of creating something, and you also get the benefit of productive relaxation. You can even tie it into your book itself.  Stuck on how to choreograph a fight scene? Draw some stick figures or play with some action figures to work it out. Can’t work out how to describe your heroine’s hair? Go through some magazines and cut out all the ones that look like her and stick them on a piece of paper. 
Write Something Entirely Different
A lot of the ideas above help when you’re mid-book, but what about that initial inspiration? You might have an idea but you’re just not quite sure how to implement it. So shake it up and write something completely random. There are dozens of ways of doing this. You can look up prompts online and write a paragraph based on it. Or open a journal or notebook and just start writing anything that comes to mind (even if it’s “I don’t know what to write!”). Fill two or three pages with a stream of consciousness. Get your brain engaged in the act of writing even if you’re not actively working on your story. The results may just surprise you.

There are countless ways to find your inner muse, but don’t come to rely on it. Sometimes you just gotta sit down and get on with it. That way, when the muse shows up, they’ll find you already working. And that’s the best position to be in. Good luck! 
Giveaway... UK ONLY!
Angela has teamed up with a huge number of authors to offer a giveaway of both her and their books on each day of the blog tour. 

You could win a copy of A SAVAGE HUNGER by Claire McGowan, along with Watch Me by Angela Clarke.

To be in with a chance to win tweet a link to this blog post or RT one of my tweets promoting Watch Me 

The fourth in the acclaimed Paula Maguire crime series sees the forensic psychologist investigate the links between a missing student, a decades-old mystery, and the hunger strikes of the 80s.

‘The story races along…Clarke is certainly someone to watch.’ DAILY MAIL

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Lost daughter of India - Sharon Maas

The Lost Daughter of India 
by Sharon Maas

About the book...
One woman. One impossible choice. Her daughter or her happiness …

When Caroline meets Kamal the attraction is instant. He’s enchanting, charismatic and she can’t wait to set up a new life with him in India. Both their families are against the union but Caroline is convinced they’ll come round, especially when she gives birth to a beautiful daughter, Asha. 

Asha is an adorable child but Caroline, homesick and beginning to hate the remote Indian village they live in, struggles with motherhood. Kamal is hardly ever there and she feels more and more isolated. In the grips of severe depression Caroline flees back to America, leaving Asha behind. 

Ten years later …

Caroline recovered from her illness, is consumed by thoughts of the daughter she abandoned. Desperate to find Asha, she reunites with Kamal, intent on tracking her down. Will they ever be able to find their lost daughter? If they have any chance, they must confront the painful truths of the past and a terrible secret that has been kept for many years, until now. 

A heart-breaking and beautifully written story of loss, secrets and the strength of a mother’s love against all odds. If you enjoyed Diane Chamberlain and Lucinda Riley then this book will find its way into your heart and stay there.

What everyone is saying about The Lost Daughter of India:

'Evocative and atmospheric ... Heartbreaking on so many levels - a rich tapestry of a novel and a worthy read on any shelf' The Book Trail

'I have read and loved all of Sharon Maas's books but this one! Wow! I think this is her most emotional and beautiful book yet! Such a powerful story, so brilliantly narrated, in such a way that you feel part of it all and are left bereft when it is finished. Five Stars!' Renita D'Silva

'This book has everything. Great characters, interesting perspective and strong settings. Put all these together with a fantastic writing style and this easily makes my top 10 books of 2016 listLexi Reads

'My heart was in my mouth reading this story but it is a terrific read nevertheless.' 27 Book Street

About the author...
Sharon Maas was born in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1951.

She was educated in Guyana and England. After leaving school she worked as a staff journalist at the Guyana Graphic and the Sunday Chronicla in Georgetown.
Sharon has always had a great sense of adventure and curiosity about the world we live in, and Guyana could not hold her for long. In 1971 she set off on a year-long backpacking trip around South America. Her travel articles were published in the Chronicle.

In 1973 she travelled overland to India through Europe, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and spent two years in an Ashram in South India.

Her first novel, Of Marriageable Age, is set in India and Guyana and was published by HarperCollins in 1999. Subsequent novels were published in 2001 and 2003.

At present she works as a Social Worker in a hospital in South Germany. 

Click the link to connect with Sharon Maas...

Read on for an extract of The Lost Daughter of India...
 Chapter One 
Caroline. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1970

Caroline snuggled deeper into Meenakshi’s lap, her favourite place in all the world. Meena’s whole body was a cushion, soft and yielding, and when you cuddled into her it moulded around you and held you safe. It was the best place for a five-year-old to spend a summer evening, swaying gently in the rocking chair on the back porch, Meena’s arms around her as she held the book. 
The backyard smelt of summer: of sun and moist earth from the water sprinkler gently waving to and fro. The sounds were of summer too. Birds twittered in the chestnut tree in the centre of the backyard, squirrels scampered across the branches, chattering among themselves. The sights and sounds and fragrances of a leafy neighbourhood in Massachusetts, America surrounded them. Meena didn’t smell of America. Meena had her own distinctive smell, and Caroline breathed her in. She smelt of India, sweet and spicy all at once, a thousand secret aromas all mingled together. It was in the fabric of her saris, in her hair, in her very skin, dark as a hazelnut and shiny as silk. It wafted, too from the pages of that book, which Meena had brought with her from India when she was a little girl, the same age as Caroline was now.
It was a big book, the biggest book on Caroline’s shelf, with over a thousand pages. They had been reading it for months now, every day a chapter, and it might be a year before it was finished, and that was fine with Caroline. She hoped it would last for ever. It was that sort of a book, the kind that took you off on journeys with different characters to different places but sooner or later brought you back to the main story; and you would understand the main story a little bit better because of that little excursion. It was the sort of book that took you on a voyage far, far away and made you live in another place and another time and become another person while you were away. It was the sort of book that created vivid pictures in your mind so that you were actually there and then and among those people and even turned you into those people so that they weren’t foreign any more because you became them.
Meena’s voice was perfect for the story. It was languid but strong; Meena was never in a hurry to get to the end of a story and close the book. She read as if she had all the time in the world, and probably she did; and she could put on a man’s voice or a girl’s voice or a demon’s voice or the voice of a god and make you believe that very person was speaking. She could give you goosebumps, and make you quake in fear. She could transport you into that person’s soul.
Right now, Caroline was in India, a young prince disguised as a simple priest, and he was about to win the hand of the most beautiful princess in the world, Draupadi.
“Arjuna strode over to the bow, head held high,”’ Meena read, in her strongest book-voice – her royal voice, Caroline called it. ‘“As effortlessly as Karna had done before him, he raised it; the kings gasped. He picked up one of the glittering arrows, took aim at the fish spinning high above, released the arrow. With a silver streak almost invisible to the eye it pierced the eye of the fish, which tumbled to the ground. A roar as thunder filled the arena; furious, fuming, the assembled kings waved their fists and screamed insults into the arena; but Arjuna was unmoved.
“With three wide springs he leapt onto the royal dais and stood before Draupadi, holding out his hand. Dhrishtadyumna helped his sister to her feet and placed her hand in Arjuna’s. Conch moaned and trumpet blared as Arjuna led his bride away: like a young celestial with a heavenly apsara…”’ (‘What’s an apsara?’ asked Caroline, and Meena replied in her normal Meena voice: ‘a heavenly dancing maiden.’) ‘“…like god Vishnu with his consort, the goddess Lakshmi, like the sun with the moon by his side, the two left the arena, flowers raining down on them from heaven. Brahmins cheered, kings raged. Karna fell to the ground. The four remaining Pandavas looked at each other and they, too, left.”
Meena closed the book. ‘And that, my sweet, is enough for today.’
‘No!’ cried Caroline. ‘I want to know what happened next! Do the Pandavas get their kingdom back? Do they come out of hiding? Does Draupadi have to go and live with them in the forest? What happens, Meena?’
‘Well, you will just have to be a bit more patient, because tomorrow I will read to you some more. Your mommy and daddy will be home from work any time now and they will want to see you and hear what you have been doing all day.’
Caroline pouted. ‘I want you to read some more! I want
‘What! What are you telling me! What happens to little children who say I want all the time?’
‘“I want never gets,”’ replied Caroline, her bottom lip stuck out. ‘I know. But still. It’s not fair.’
‘Life isn’t fair,’ Meena said as she lifted her up and placed her on the ground. Laying the book on the porch table, she tilted the chair forward and slowly, with much effort, pushed her cushiony body to her feet, grasped Caroline’s hand and led her indoors, through the kitchen where Lucia was cooking the evening meal, into the hall and up the stairs to Caroline’s bedroom to get her ready for her parents’ homecoming. Her three older brothers were still outside, at friends’ homes, playing baseball on the street, climbing trees; the things boys do after school. They’d be in soon, too.
Caroline’s father was a lawyer; he worked very hard and sometimes he didn’t make it home for dinner. But her mother, a doctor, always did; and it was her mother who, after dinner, would give her her bath and put her to bed and read her a story. But those stories were never as real as the ones Meenakshi told from memory, or read from books: stories of Indian kings and queens, heroes and villains and gods disguised as animals or beggars; cows who could fulfil desires and deer who could speak and monsters who could change shape at will.
If you asked Caroline what she wanted to be when she grew up, she’d say, like many an American little girl, a princess. But Caroline would be no Disney princess. She’d marry a prince like Arjuna, and ride to her wedding in a howdah on an elephant’s back wearing a fabulous sari adorned with real jewels; and her palace would be in India.
Caroline was in love with India before she could even write the word. She could point to it on the globe, and she’d tell anyone who asked that that was where she’d live when she grew up. Adults would laugh indulgently, and pat her on the head, and tell her she was dreaming; but Caroline knew it was destiny. She would grow up to marry an Indian prince. 

Click the link to buy...