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13 June 2021

Book Review: The Summer Holiday by Jo Clegg *AD gifted

Orion sent me a free copy of The Summer Holiday by Jo Clegg ahead of the blog tour.

Hello, beach read, I have needed you. The Summer Holiday is a fantastic summer read that will have you shaking with laughter and reaching for a glass of wine. Best enjoyed in the sunshine.

The Summer Holiday by Jo Clegg book cover Orion

Two weeks.

Two Families.

What could possibly go wrong…

Claire Swift can't think of anything worse than another holiday with the Wellbeloved family. The last trip together was a complete disaster - yet somehow, despite Claire's best efforts, they're all off to the Cornish coast again this summer.

So, this time she's coming prepared.

But becoming a domestic goddess to keep up with perfect Honor Wellbeloved isn't easy - especially when Claire is known for being clumsy and burns every meal she makes. And it's not long before her carefully laid plans are going spectacularly wrong.

It's only two weeks, what's the worst that can happen?

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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, friendship, image, expectations, confidence.


You know when it's a gloriously sunny day, and all you want to do is lay on the beach and get lost in a book? This is it, this is the book. 

The anxiety of when that person comes to your house? Nailed it. It made for a hilarious start, even if it did have me contemplating when I last cleared out my kitchen cupboards... And the answer was pretty much immediately after reading this. 

Claire is a mess. She's a disaster. She's a slummy mummy, an undomestic goddess, and she's a marvellous person. She is so full of love and generosity, and yet her confidence is rock bottom. She's always comparing herself, but in the wrong way. I wanted to give her a good shake sometimes, but her heart is in the right place. Ben is a great husband for her, although I didn't like that he seemed to push friensdhip with Honor on Claire.

She's a side character, but I loved Katie. I loved her snark, her low level anger at the world and the patriarchy, the way she pushed Claire and wanted her to be the best version of herself and know her worth. We all need a friend like Katie.

I liked the little things, like references to Grand Designs to show the level of wealth. I loved how subtly patronising Honor could be, and I think my favourite part of the whole book was the visit to the new house, the disastrous hill walk - I felt it. I was Claire, covered in mud. 

The Summer Holiday is the perfect read for your own summer holiday. Prepare to laugh out loud and shake your head is despair at Claire's antics. It's very fun and perfect for the beach.

What have I done to deserve this?

 The Summer Holiday by Jo Clegg blog tour banner


Jo Clegg's brief stint as a stand-up comic ended when a promoter told her she was really funny until she got on stage. After ten years as a producer in TV and radio comedy, Jo became a scriptwriter. Her scripts for children's TV, including BAFTA and Emmy-award winning Hey Duggee, are represented by Jean Kitson at Kitson Press Associates. Jo now makes adult readers laugh as well with her contemporary novels, her debut The Summer Holiday is released in 2021.

To learn more about Jo head to her profile on Twitter @jocleggwriter

12 June 2021

Book Review: One Summer Sunrise by Shari Low *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of One Summer Sunrise by Shari Low ahead of the blog tour.

One line review.

One Summer Sunrise by Shari Low book cover

As the sun rises on a hot summer’s day, four lives are about to be changed forever...

Brand new from the bestselling author of What If?, What Now? and One Day In Summer.

Today, Maisie McTeer decides to track down the ex who jilted her at the altar. Today, she’ll find out that revisiting the past can also rewrite her future. 

After losing her husband, Harriet Bassett can no longer bear her lonely life. Today, a familiar face in a crowd will spark a quest to discover if there’s something and someone worth living for. 

Scott and Kelly Bassett’s daughter is leaving home. Today, Scott plans to tell Kelly that he’s ending their marriage to pursue his rock and roll dreams. 

However, Kelly, has a bombshell of her own. How will Scott react to the news that a new arrival is on the way to fill their empty nest? 

Between sunrise and sunset, there’s love, heartbreak, laughter and tears, but who will find happiness at the end of the day?


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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: friendship, revelations, family, survival, hope. 


I didn't even know I needed this. 

When the book starts we are thrust straight into the drama of Masie's life, and I have to admit she was my favourite character. Her heart is kind and generous and I felt so sorry for what she went through in the past. I was proud of her for facing up to it though. 

I don't think I actually disliked any of the characters. I really felt for all of them, particularly Scott and Kelly. It broke my heart a little bit. 

To say that the relationships in this book are messy would be an understatement... And it was excellent. I was so here for all of the drama and emotions.,and seeing how each character handled their hurdles. 

The setting moves around a fair bit, this isn't a book centered around community. This is much more about how individual relationships can have an effect on pretty much everyone, and that was rather refreshing to read. 

I thought that One Summer Sunrise was an excellent coming together of characters, and I loved how the stories were told. Its the kind of story that stays with you long after you've finished, and as serious as it could be at times it definitely gave me more than a few chuckles. I really appreciated the lighter more humorous scenes. By the end of the books I felt like I truly knew these characters, and I was very much invested in their lives. 

This is the perfect book to get lost in, it will keep you reading long into sprawling summer evenings. I didn't want to put it down. 

One Summer Sunrise by Shari Low blog tour banner


Shari Low is the #1 bestselling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In Winter and With Or Without You and a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. She lives near Glasgow and her first title for Boldwood was My One Month Marriage in January 2020.

11 June 2021

Book Beginnings: The Unbroken C.L. Clark

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading The Unbroken C.L. Clark.

The Unbroken C.L. Clark book cover illumicrate


A sandstorm brewed dark and menacing against the Qazāli horizon as Lieutenant Touraine and the rest of the Balladairan Colonial Brigade sailed into El-West, a capital city of Qazāl, foremorst of Balladaire's southern colonies.

I got this book in an Illumicrate box earlier this year, and I'm picking it up for #ConquerAChonker. At a little over 500 pages, The Unbroken is a Mega Chonk. Wish me luck!

I love the cover - it sets the book as a fantasy right away, I love the glimpses of weapons and the flashes of red. It is chock full of the most intricate details too, the longer I look the more I see. Bonus for the blood red sprayed edges on my edition.

I feel like this first line really sets the scene and the tone. In just one sentence, so much about the world is revealed. And I can't wait to read on.

Also, there is a gorgeous map which I put straight to use to orient myself, and which with its annotations gives an excellent glimpse of the story to come.

Touraine's head was thick and woolly. All she wanted to do was lie down and sleep. She took a shuddering breath and tried to get her bearings. 
She was lost.

This is from page 56 in my hardback copy.

I am intrigued, I am hooked on the story, and I need to know what is going to happen.

I feel like the story is about to get a lot more intense and even violent. The atmosphere is positively shimmering. I have a feeling that this book is going to keep my on my toes and that I'm in for a wild ride. I can't wait.

About the Book


An unmissable epic fantasy debut of uprising, espionage and empire.

Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.

Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.

Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.

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What are you reading this week?

09 June 2021

Book Review: Always and Forever at Glendale Hall by Victoria Walters *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of Always and Forever at Glendale Hall by Victoria Walters ahead of the blog tour.

We all know that I have A Thing for books set in the highlands, so we all knew that I would absolutely be reading this book when I was offered the chance. I was not disappointed.

Always and Forever at Glendale Hall by Victoria Walters book cover

What if we’re all just searching for something?

Anna Stewart is lost. After barely surviving a car accident as a teenager, Anna is scared of settling. Flitting between jobs, boyfriends and homes whenever she gets bored, she has no idea what the future holds. Then her brother Brodie, minister of Glendale, suggests she moves to the beautiful Scottish village, lining up a housekeeper job for her at Glendale Hall.

Out of options, Anna agrees to the move, knowing that she can always run away again. Once at the hall, her culinary skills impress everyone, and she agrees to give Hilltop Farm’s new manager, Cameron, cooking lessons. Sparks fly between Anna and the handsome Scot, but Cameron is looking for love - something that Anna definitely isn’t.

But it's wedding season at Glendale Hall, and Anna is about to discover that her new home has a way of working its magic on even the coldest of hearts. Will she really be able to just walk away, or could Anna have finally found a place to belong?

It’s summertime in the beautiful Highlands village of Glendale – pack your bags and come on holiday with this gorgeously uplifting, romantic read. Fans of Milly Johnson, Heidi Swain and Holly Martin will love this charming romcom. 


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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, belonging, community, love, trust.


This was the book that I didn't know I needed to read. It was a gorgeous summery read filled with small dramas, big emotions, and an even bigger setting.

I have to say - I didn't even realise at first that this was part of a series. It was only when I was thinking about the side characters and their stories that I did a quick search and found out that this book is actually book four in the Glendale Hall series! It's so well written and easily stands independently, but at the same time I want to know everything about everyone else so I'll be seeking them out. Definitely pick this up, looking at the descriptions I think all of the books are linked standalones and very easy to dip in and out of.

Anna is a bit of a mess. And I kinda loved her for it. She's had a pretty troubled past, and she has a lot of trauma to work through. It was amazing to watch her journey, see her character come into itself. She's not as superficial as she might appear.

I loved the relationship between Anna and Cameron, their wariness around each other. They challenged each others preconceptions, and I loved how they both grew to like each other. It was a lovely slow burn, with a gently building passion that sometimes simmered over.

This is one of those books that made me want to do things. It made me want to go for a run, it made me want to cook, it made me want to go to a pub quiz, it made me want to cosy up by a fire outside. I wanted to be part of it all, and I felt like I was part of it all. 

The scenery around Glendale Hall is breathtakingly beautiful. I was there, in the fictional highlands and aching to go there in real life myself. I loved the picturesque and dramatic landscape, and how it shaped the character journeys. It's a stark contrast to what Anna is used to in her life, and I enjoyed the often calm environment.

Always and Forever at Glendale Hall is a perfect summer read. It begs to be read outside, on a blanket in the sun-dappled shade, with an iced drink and a quiet playlist.

Just once, I wanted to be still. To have what everyone else seemed to find so easy.

 

Always and Forever at Glendale Hall by Victoria Walters blog tour banner


Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. She's the author of three novels, THE SECOND LOVE OF MY LIFE, SUMMER AT THE KINDNESS CAFÉ, and COMING HOME TO GLENDALE HALL. She has been chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for an RNA award. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star, and her books have won wide reader acclaim.

Victoria is a full-time author. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry, and loves books, clothes, music, going out for tea and cake, and posting photos on Instagram.

Find out more about Victoria by following on Instagram at @vickyjwalters, on Twitter at @Vicky_Walters or by visiting her blog at https://victoria-writes.com/.

07 June 2021

Book Review: The Viking Chief's Marriage Alliance by Lucy Morris *AD gifted

Mills & Boon sent me a free e-copy of The Viking Chief's Marriage Alliance by Lucy Morris via NetGalley, but I loved it so much that I bought my own paperback copy so I can reread it to my heart's content.

I was honestly blown away by The Viking Chief's Marriage Alliance. I have around 100 highlights in my kindle of quotes and scenes that I loved, and it is absolutely a book I will reread again and again, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction of any genre - it really has it all.

The Viking Chief's Marriage Alliance by Lucy Morris book cover Mills & Boon historical

A challenging wife

For a warrior Viking

When Thorstein Bergson rescues a beautiful woman from a storm-tossed longship he little expects to broker a powerful marriage alliance with her.

This high-status ice queen is not the comfortable wife this warrior chief is seeking, but maybe the bittersweet pain in Gyda’s eyes hides another woman beneath? 

he one he tasted that first night, when she kissed him with such pent-up longing…

Amazon UK | Amazon US

Source: NetGalley | Review Copy | Purchase

5 Word Review: Family, survival, power, manipulation, love.


I love a good historical romance, and this one wasn't only good, it was bloody excellent.

I loved The Viking Chief's Marriage Alliance so much. From the tense beginning to the glorious ending, I loved every second of reading it and I can't wait to read it again.

Viking longship gif


One of my favourite things about this book was the settings. They are so rich and vibrant that it was easy to picture them vividly in my mind. I could feel the icy chill of the sea, smell the smoke in the air, hear the bustling of Jorvik. I was as awed as Gyda when she stepped into the capital of the kingdom, I could feel the atmosphere.

The depth of research that has gone into this is evident in every scene, from the way the settings come so truly to life to the way the characters interact with the world. I liked the little bits of lore, the beliefs and customs that peppered the story. The small details really made it exceptional.

I loved build up between Gyda and Thorstein. I loved the instant spark of lust, the strong resentment slowly mellowing, the slow build of trust and passion and love between them. The Viking Chief's Marriage Alliance is a delectable slow burn.

Gyda has such drive. She is magnificent, strong and capable. For all she said she couldn't be a shield maiden, she has such power. Her clothes and jewellery are her armour, her standing in society the thing that keeps her safe. She is so desperate to preserve herself and find a home in which she truly belongs. Her past was heart-breaking, and it was great to see her move on from that.

Thorstein has been hurt in the past, and he struggles to get over it. I liked the subtle exploration of misogyny through his character, and how he had to overcome his own toxic mindset, and his preconceptions about women especially. His treatment of Gyda was certainly not fair because of this, but it made their finally coming together all the more special. The growth was excellent.

I don't think there's anything I didn't like about this book, although the secrets that Gyda and Thorstein chose to keep did frustrate me at times. As much as was yelling KISS, I was yelling TELL THEM. Everything was so well done, I didn't want to put this book down.

This is one of the best historical romances I have ever read, and it is one I'll happily read again (and again). From the tantalising slow burn to the fierce characters to the wonderous settings, it was magnificent.


He was her ragnarok - her end of days. There was no escaping her fate.

 

03 June 2021

Release Day Review: Raising Hell by Bryony Pearce *AD gifted

UCLan Publishing sent me a free copy of Raising Hell by Bryony Pearce ahead of the blog tour.

I had a feeling that I would like this book - I loved Savage Island and I've seen the author speak before at an event and they have a wickedly disturbing outlook. And I was right - Raising Hell was awesome.

Do check out a recent guest post by Bryony Pearce, Why I Wrote Raising Hell.

Raising Hell by Bryony Pearce book cover

Meet Ivy Elizabeth Mann:

"I know what you're thinking, but I'm not half faery, or demon, or angel or anything like that. Mum's a Body Shop consultant living in a bungalow in Birmingham and Dad enters crossword competitions."

Once upon a time, Ivy and her friends did a very stupid thing and now there's a rift letting dark matter into the world. Dark matter that manifests as black magic which actually works. Now every teenager with access to the Internet is raising hell. Literally.

Ivy's doing her best to stem the tide, but her new job working school security barely pays the bills and there's only so much one girl with a machete (and a cat possessed by her own dead grandmother) can do against the forces of evil.

Now she's facing a teenaged goth with an attitude, a dark cabal with a terrifying agenda and a potential zombie apocalypse.

Ivy losing her job might be the best thing to happen to the world!

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Source: Blog Tour, Review Copy

5 Word Review: Danger, responsibility, magic, snark, family.


Content warnings: Death, blood, religion, violence.

I didn't know that I needed this in my life quite so badly. Raising Hell is a wild ride, fast paced and exhilarating. I read it in a single sitting, ran out of page tabs, and wanted to start it again as soon as I had finished.

Ivy is an excellent character - she's messy and complicated and wracked with guilt. She's a little bit broken, but she's determined to absolve herself. I loved her snark, her distrust, her anger. She's as driven by her anger as she is her guilt, and the result is a little intoxicating. I want her to be my friend (and protector) but also I'm a bit afraid of her if I'm being honest. Her life is extraordinary and yet Ivy is deeply relatable, and when we first met Nicholas Ortega I was bristling alongside her.

Can my favourite character be the cat? I loved Gran. She gives no shits, she's full of snark. I just want to feed her some salmon and give her scritches under her chin. Her scenes had me laughing.

More than anything, Raising Hell is fun. It's a romp. It's like Buffy, with a dash of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but very British all at once. I almost felt nostalgic at times while I was reading it. As dark as the story was at times, it was also comforting, and it was fun. The action is breath-taking in its intensity, and it made me read even faster.

This is the kind of book that I want to read fanfiction of. I want to read about others doing Ivy's job, the chaos of hormones and magic clashing in teens. As short as this book is the scope of the world is enormous.

I already want to read Raising Hell again. I have tabbed so many passages, so expect a favourite quotes post soon. It was an amazing read.

02 June 2021

Guest Post: Why I Wrote Raising Hell by Bryony Pearce

I am absolutely delighted to share a guest post from the amazing Bryony Pearce. I loved the author's debut and I was excited to see them delve into dark themes again. They're honestly amazing at it.

Raising Hell by Bryony Pearce is out tomorrow and trust me, you need it in your life. It's dark and complicated and such a fun read. My release day review is coming tomorrow, but today I'm sharing a guest post from Bryony on why they wrote Raising Hell.

Raising Hell by Bryony Pearce cover

Why I Wrote Raising Hell by Bryony Pearce

When I wrote Raising Hell the world seemed to literally be going to hell. Donald Trump was in power and it was looking like he might win another election. BLM protests were on the increase. Brexit seemed to have spear-headed a rise in Fascism in our own country and the global pandemic had put us on lockdown. My children were having to wear masks to school, friends were getting covid, it seemed almost apocalyptic.

I had just finished writing ‘a very serious novel’. A historical YA fiction that has not in fact sold to publishers. This novel took me six months of solid research and a year to write. It was ‘very important’. I wanted, no I needed, a break. To write something that would not require much in the way of research and that was pure solid fun.

Ivy’s voice came to me one day; she had her talking cat and her machete, and I knew that it would be nothing but fun to write about her.

Obviously, I did have to do research, but it wasn’t about how they cleaned chimneys in 1634, it was about occult symbols for protection and magic spells that I could rearrange and make into my own. See – fun!

It being me, there is a serious side to Raising Hell. Inevitably the political situation impacted on the story, enter the British Republican Party (BRP) who seek to use the chaos caused by Ivy’s mistake to take power in the UK and ‘Make Britain Great Again!’.

Raising Hell is also about grief and how we deal with loss. The way that the BRP and their stooges manipulate the teen witches is to use their own personal losses to encourage them to cast spells that they think will reanimate their dead (obviously this does not end well).

Ivy too is dealing with loss – the death of her boyfriend, the loss of her childhood, her family and her friends. This has made her the person she is in the story; hard and untrusting.

As the story circles back to the correction of Ivy’s original mistake, it helps her journey back to trust and love and a better way of dealing with her losses.

Ivy’s story was cathartic for me to write. It is honestly fun. There is a lot of humour. Ivy has a smart mouth and a talking cat. But it is also serious. It helped me deal with a very hard year and I hope that it provides some escapism and fun for you too!


Much love

Bryony


Raising Hell by Bryony Pearce blog tour banner


About the Book

Meet Ivy Elizabeth Mann:

"I know what you're thinking, but I'm not half faery, or demon, or angel or anything like that. Mum's a Body Shop consultant living in a bungalow in Birmingham and Dad enters crossword competitions."

Once upon a time, Ivy and her friends did a very stupid thing and now there's a rift letting dark matter into the world. Dark matter that manifests as black magic which actually works. Now every teenager with access to the Internet is raising hell. Literally.

Ivy's doing her best to stem the tide, but her new job working school security barely pays the bills and there's only so much one girl with a machete (and a cat possessed by her own dead grandmother) can do against the forces of evil.

Now she's facing a teenaged goth with an attitude, a dark cabal with a terrifying agenda and a potential zombie apocalypse.

Ivy losing her job might be the best thing to happen to the world!

Add to Goodreads button


Will you be reading Raising Hell?