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31 May 2019

A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft *AD Gifted

Avon Books sent me a free review copy of A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft.

A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft is a perfect read for a lazy summer's day, beautifully written and filled with the best kind of drama. It was exactly what I needed and from beginning to end it made me smile.

A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft coverAdd to Goodreads button

WANTED! A caretaker for Roundhouse Row holiday cottages.

WHERE? Nelson’s Bar is the perfect little village. Nestled away on the Norfolk coast we can offer you no signal, no Wi-Fi and – most importantly – no problems!

WHO? The ideal candidate will be looking for an escape from their cheating scumbag ex-fiancé, a diversion from their entitled cousin, and a break from their traitorous friends.

WHAT YOU’LL GET! Accommodation in a chocolate-box cottage, plus a summer filled with blue skies and beachside walks. Oh, and a reunion with the man of your dreams.

PLEASE NOTE: We take no responsibility for any of the above scumbags, passengers and/or traitors walking back into your life...


5 Words: Friendship, family, summer, love, belonging.

A Summer to Remember starts with a wedding, a dash of attraction, and a whole lot of heartbreak. And then, the fun begins.

I loved this book, the story, the characters, the writing. It was exactly what I needed and I devoured it in a single sitting.

I think my favourite thing about A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft was Clancy, and how she tries to rebuild her life and rediscover herself throughout the book. She's a little impulsive, fraught with insecurities and doubt, and determined to prove herself. And I could relate to her so much that it almost hurt to read.

Even the side characters are full of life and come alive on the page, including Nelson the dog, and separated old couple Ernie and Dilysn - who made me chuckle a lot.

The setting is fantastic - the lack of wi-fi and signal made the story almost timeless, like it could have been set at any time. It was almost like a physical jolt when modern-day life interrupted the story, although things like trips to Tesco really grounded the story.

This book is absolutely perfect for summer. It begs to be read outside, by the pool, lounging in the garden, sprawled in a park. The writing is so summery and rich that I easily got lost in Nelson's Bar and Roundhouse Row, and the drama of those who reside there.

This is not my first Sue Moorcroft book and it will absolutely not be my last.

24 May 2019

Book Beginnings #69

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 Rose, Interrupted by Patrice Lawrence.

Rose, Interrupted by Patrice Lawrence cover

Rudder hated Central Library. It wasn't the rules pinned to the noticeboards or in plastic covers on the tables. Those were real rules, like the ones they'd had in the Pilgrims. Rules should be written down, so everyone knows what they are. It was the secret rules that hurt his head, the rules that seemed to be written in invisible ink everywhere he went.
I have to say I was a little surprised when the story started with Rudder, as from the blurb I thought he was going to be on the sidelines and it's be Rose narrating.
"I tried to tell you, but you wouldn't listen." 
"I'm listening now."

I think my favourite thing about this author's writing is that she writes the most amazing characters that I simultaneously absolute adore but find difficult to forgive. They're so nuanced, so layered, they truly come alive. I love that their actions have me so conflicted.

What are you reading this week?

23 May 2019

My Favourite Sci-Fi Tropes and Themes *AD Gifted

Usborne Publishing sent me a free review copy of Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans.

Get yourself a cuppa, because this is a long one all about my love of sci-fi, inspired by Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans. Which is excellent.

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I realised I loved sci-fi. Up until I started book blogging, I'd usually say something like "I never read sci-fi!" or "I don't like sci-fi!" or "isn't sci-fi the worst?". And I was wrong. Because I was actually reading a lot of sci-fi, I was loving a lot of sci-fi, and actually, sci-fi is the best, isn't it? The sheer scope of sci-fi, the infinite possibilities, mean that pretty much everything can be explored. I love the daring, how it challenges perceptions, how it explores lesser heard voices.

I think one of my favourite things about sci-fi is how it explores inequality and injustice. In Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans, I loved how class and poverty and wealth were picked apart. I loved the contrast between Laura and Shem, how different their lives were. I loved the extra layer added by Laura's memories from before she woke up, how vulnerable it made her to be thrust into the limelight and world of celebrity and privilege, because she had known differently.

Beauty Sleep takes a long hard look at beauty standards and fashion trends and vanity. It rips in to greed and privilege and our fascination with celebrities. It even delves into medical ethics in a pretty shocking way.

Sci-fi often feels almost normal at times, and then BAM there's a subtle undercurrent of suspicion and unease - you know that something isn't right and you can't stop reading until you find out what it is.

Near-future sci-fi is a particular favourite because of how extra-real it all feels. It's feels like this could happen. This could be it. This could be the future. There's an extra urgency to it. And Beauty Sleep accomplishes this marvellously. The word is so achingly familiar that at times I forgot I was reading something that wasn't set in the here and now. The technological advancements felt so natural and inevitable.

Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans 

Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans coverAdd to Goodreads button

What would you give for the chance to live again?

Laura was dying. There was no cure for her illness. So her family decided to grasp a desperate last hope - Laura was frozen until she could be cured.

But what happens when you wake up one day and the world has moved on forty years? Your best friend is middle-aged, your parents presumed dead. Could you find a new place to belong? Could you build a new life - while solving the mystery of what happened to the old one?

Dark secrets lurk in the future of the girl from the past…

What are your favourite sci-fi tropes and themes?

14 May 2019

How My Own Past Life Regressions Inspired The Path Keeper

When NJ Simmonds got in touch and asked me to join the blog tour for The Path Keeper I was excited - there has been so much buzz about this book! When she offered to write a guest post I was even more excited. Read on to find out how NJ Simmond's' own past life regressions inspired The Path Keeper. It is fascinating.

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How My Own Past Life Regressions
Inspired The Path Keeper

by NJ Simmonds
The first sentence of this guest blog is going to be a strange one, so brace yourselves… 
The first time I got a glimpse of one of my past lives I was sleeping beside the engine room of a pearling ship heading for Darwin. 
Fifteen years ago, following a messy break up from the guy I thought was ‘The One’, I found myself saying goodbye to London and heading for the other side of the world having left behind a job I loved, a house that was half mine and a man that had broken my heart. My backpack was heavy, but not as cumbersome as the emotional baggage I long-hauled all the way to Oz. I told my parents I’d be visiting a friend in Perth and I’d be back in six to eight weeks’ time. I didn’t return to the UK until fourteen months later. 
Aged twenty-five, I was one of the oldest backpackers among the many trudging their way across the giant island. It’s clichĂ© to say I went in search of myself, but whether I set out to discover who I truly was or not – I found a lot more than I bargained for. I set in motion a life that has since been tinged with magic. 
During those long months of cross-country coach trips, I read avidly on all manner of mystical beliefs. I learned astrology, became a reiki healer, joined a coven of women who met every week to meditate with crystals, and befriended a woman who spoke with angels. A few months into my trip, one blistering hot day as I meditated on the base of Uluru, I realised my previously career-driven London life had been nothing but a dark veil smothering a world of energy and light I never knew existed. It was like cleaning dirt off a window and watching the sun shine through. 
So… Back to my past lives. 
After three months of selling pearls in Broome, a town in Western Australia so secluded it’s actually closer to towns in other continents than its own country, I was offered a lift north, five days on board a pearling boat which I shared with six questionable sailors and their cook. In the day I sunbathed, and at night we drank rum, played cards and laid on deck staring at the stars. One night I was very seasick and was told to sleep as far below deck as I could find to reduce the affect of the swell. Finding myself on a narrow mattress beside the incessant rumbling hum of the engine room, the stench of diesel and oyster shells clinging to every inch of my body, I decided to meditate - reasoning that a past life regression meditation might be an effective way to distract the churn of my stomach and the tides swirling around in my head. 
At this point I held no firm beliefs about the afterlife and didn’t expect anything to happen. Brought up a Catholic, I knew all about God and Heaven and angels. But I’d also been a member of the London school of Psychic Studies. I’d had the odd ghostly experience in my childhood, and I’d seen a lot of stuff I couldn’t explain – so I was open minded, although unconvinced anything would come of it. 
I can’t logically explain what happened next. 
I saw myself as a teen girl in ancient Rome. Barefoot and simply dressed, I was stirring something in a clay pot over an open fire atop the crest of a hill. I kept looking over to what appeared to be Florence (in real life I’d been to Florence a couple of years earlier and inexplicably knew my way around, I’d even remarked at the time how familiar the city felt). As a poor Roman girl I waited, anticipation and excitement churning in my guts as my mother and baby brother busied themselves in our small holding behind me. I knew soldiers were on their way, and with them came the opportunity to feel important. Every few months, as they marched through our village, the locals would tend to them, help them regain their strength, and then they would leave. Every time it filled with me purpose yet left me bereft, over and over again. In that fleeting glimpse of another life (and I’m no historian, so the things I saw were totally new to me) I also recognised that two people from my current life had been there as well, instantly understanding what their role had been then and now.
That night I couldn’t sleep. As I lay on a sweaty mattress in the belly of a pearling boat that rolled through the waters like a drunken whale, I wondered what my vision had meant. Was it an allegory or visual representation of my real-life issues? Was it a dream? An overactive imagination? Or a load of old nonsense? 
I never considered it again until I went on to have two more visions (one through meditation and one through a healer). When the idea of The Path Keeper came to me seven years later in 2012, it made sense to me that an eternal love would involve past lives – and that’s how a handful of different stories began to intertwine and merge into a three-book series. In the sequel Son of Secrets, we see Ella’s past life in 5BC Tuscany, inspired by that tiny snapshot of a lonely Roman girl. That’s when I began to research this possible place and era – and things got weirder. 
I Googled and found the same village I’d imagined myself in, the view of Florence exactly as I’d seen it. The town is called Fiesole and was in fact one of the biggest Roman footholds in Tuscany back then. I’d never heard of it before I’d seen it in my vision and then online. The pots and cooking utensils, the clothing I wore and even the house all matched my memory. Coincidence? A latent memory from something I’d learned at school? Luck? Regardless whether I have ever lived before, it sparked one of my favourite parts of the series and became the backdrop of how Ella and Zac first met. 
Regardless of your beliefs, as a writer, ideas will reach you in the strangest of ways. The Path Keeper may be an urban fantasy romance set in London, with plenty of city grime and contemporary scenes, but it also has an esoteric theme that will have you questioning religion, angels, past lives, fate, the power of crystals and soul mates. And as the series continues, there’s more on the history of witches (another past life memory set in 1613) and the concept of the devil. 
Yes, these are big and contentious subjects to discuss in a fictional novel, especially when writing older YA, but the series isn’t a reflection of my beliefs or a didactic message. It’s just a story of mostly made up stuff I thought was interesting and fun to throw together. Accused of being ‘ambitious’ and ‘brave’ in various reviews –it’s also rubbed plenty of people up the wrong way. I don’t mind, books are meant to make you feel strongly one way or another. 
I’ve always dreamed of seeing my book in a bookstore window, but I never imagined fifteen years ago, as I ran away to the other side of the world with nothing to my name but a dusty backpack and a head full of questions, that I was setting off down a path that would lead me to now. During those sun-drenched wanderlust days, the seeds of my first book were planted, and that tree hasn’t stopped growing. I saw a different world that night on the pearling boat, and I have since created many more worlds of my own. 
Maybe we’ve all lived before, maybe we haven’t – but it’s been a hell of a lot of fun writing about it.

Every blog tour in the blog has a letter. Collect them all to spell out the answer to this competition question: What does Zac get in the sequel SON OF SECRETS that's very out of character? Prize info and entry details will be posted in The Glass House Glass magazine on release day 28 May 2019. Check out today's letter and competition graphic below. 

10 May 2019

Book Beginnings #68

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 Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans.

Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans cover

I understood. I really did. This was a chance. Our only chance. It was this or die.
Yeah so I am hooked, right from this first line.

I love the way that already, right from the start, tension is building. It's amazing. There's something subtly sinister right from the start.
Safe? What was I thinking? Bert had warned me: people like us were never safe.

This is a switch in narrators, and I really like how it's done in this book. At this point, both narrators are super unreliable, and I don't know what to trust and I haven't figured out what's going on. What I can say is that it is so sinister and eerie, and I love it.

What are you reading this week?

08 May 2019

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto *AD Gifted

Ink Road Books sent me a free review copy of Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto.

First I fell in love with the stunning cover, then I fell in love with the incredible story. I absolutely loved Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto and you should add it straight to your TBR. It is slow to start, but stick with it and you will be blown away.

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto coverAdd to Goodreads button
I had a sister, once…

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders - legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire - until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

I promised her the throne would not come between us.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders - even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken. 

Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, secrets, adventure, strength, phoenix.

Where there is will, there is possibility.