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30 June 2021

Book Review: Disarming the Wildest Warrior by Helen Cox *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of Disarming the Wildest Warrior by Helen Cox ahead of the blog tour.

Usually when I'm reading historical romances, I stay away from those set in America. But boy am I glad I took a chance on this one! I absolutely loved Disarming the Wildest Warrior by Helen Cox and read it in a single breathless sitting.

Disarming the Wildest Warrior by Helen Cox book cover

1725, Williamsburg

No more English tea parties with her father’s medical colleagues for Gilda Griffiths. She left those behind for the open Virginia plains and plans to leave the East Coast too before a violent figure from her past catches up with her. When Williamsburg bully, Emmett Lawson assaults an elderly Shawnee chief however Gilda feels compelled to use her medical background to nurse him, despite the vocal protests of his embittered yet devastatingly handsome son.

Blue Sky knows his destiny is written in blood. If his father dies it will fall to him to keep the Shawnee people alive and safe from the cruelty of the white settlers who slaughtered his mother. Nothing can distract him from his duty until Gilda hustles her way into his life. How can this woman penetrate the armour he spent so long constructing with a single glance? And why is he tortured by thoughts of making her his?

While Gilda and Blue Sky grapple with their forbidden attraction, the dark threat Gilda fears most moves ever closer across the Atlantic. Can Gilda and Blue Sky put their pasts behind them and ride together towards a future neither of them believed could be theirs?

10% of all profits from this book will be donated to the Native American Heritage Association on an annual basis.

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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, respect, secrets, compassion, love.


That was unexpected, and exactly what I needed!

Because this is so short, less than two hundred pages, it is intense. It is a scorching burn of a romance, but not at all rushed. It all felt so right. I liked that it wasn't all burning passion and that there were deeper themes at play, and I loved the exploration of grief. There was a clash of cultures and mindsets

My heart broke for Gilda and what life has thrown at her. And that she's still so full of compassion and generosity speaks of her character. I loved her petty side too, and it gave me a giggle at the beginning how she got her small revenge on Lawson. I think that the name Great Hawk gave her really suited her.

I love the relationship between Gilda and Blue Sky. From such a wary beginning they have such fun, and it put the biggest grin on my face. I liked the hesitation and the exploration of each other, and how different they were alone than when they were around others.

I will definitely be reading more of Helen Cox's books, if they're even a fraction as good as this one I'll be happy. I'm glad I read outside my comfort zone, because it turns out that Disarming the Wildest Warrior is a very comforting books.

Disarming the Wildest Warrior by Helen Cox blog tour banner

Helen Cox is a Yorkshire-born novelist and poet. After completing her MA in creative writing at the University of York St. John Helen wrote for a range of publications, edited her own independent film magazine for five years and penned three non-fiction books. Her first two novels were published by HarperCollins in 2016. She currently lives by the sea in Sunderland where she writes poetry, romance novellas, and The Kitt Hartley series alongside hosting The Poetrygram podcast.



28 June 2021

Book Review: Dark Days for the Tobacco Girls by Lizzie Lane *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of Dark Days for the Tobacco Girls by Lizzie Lane ahead of the blog tour.

When was the last time you read a war time saga? I couldn't remember so I jumped at the chance of reading Dark Days for the Tobacco Girls and it was exactly what I needed - drama and secrets under the backdrop of war.

Dark Days for the Tobacco Girls by Lizzie Lane book cover

Nothing will stop the The Tobacco Girls, not even war...

BRISTOL 1940.

The Tobacco Girls cling together as they realise that the clouds of war are turning dark, the world is becoming more dangerous and their lives more unpredictable. 

Bridget Milligan’s big, happy family fragments when her siblings are evacuated to North Devon, then a letter from America further fills her with dismay.

Maisie Miles safe haven from both Eddie Bridgeman and her father is jeopardised and she is forced to move on, but where too this time? 

Phyllis Mason is struck down by tragedy and her life spirals downwards into despair until a new horizons beckons, but also perhaps great danger...

Regardless of the rationing, shortages and an ever-worsening situation, The Tobacco Girls all pull together and hope for better days to come.

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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, war, survival, secrets, safety.


I jumped straight in with Dark Days for the Tobacco Girls without reading the first book and although I felt a little lost at first, the events of the first book are covered pretty early on. I didn't find it overly confusing, and as much as I wish I'd read the first book beforehand I think it still worked pretty well as a standalone saga.

I liked the wartime setting, the heart-ache and constant tension that it brings. It intensified everything, made everything that much more urgent. It sped up the pace, made everything that little bit thrilling with the constant threat of bombings and tightening rations.

The narrative moves between three characters, Bridget, Maisie, and Phyllis, and each of the characters has a distinct voice. I was never confused as to who was narrating, and I liked seeing more than one side of each story.

I loved the three M's. They all brought something different to the table, and I think Bridget was my favourite. I felt so much for her at the beginning when her siblings were evacuated, it was so heart-wrenching and I can't imagine being separated from my own sisters like that. All three women are strong, even if their life has been hard. They've had a lot thrown at them and I loved to see them support each other. It felt very "found family" even if the story focused a lot on their actual families.

After that ending, I'm sure there is another book on the way! The ending was pretty abrupt and I would have liked a little more to tie it up, but it has me all the more eager for the next instalment.

Dark Days for the Tobacco Girls is the type of book that will break your heart and then put it back together. Heart-warming in the end and very emotional, and now I definitely want to read the first book, The Tobacco Girls.
Dark Days for the Tobacco Girls by Lizzie Lane blog tour banner

Lizzie Lane is the author of over 50 books, a number of which have been bestsellers. She was born and bred in Bristol where many of her family worked in the cigarette and cigar factories. This has inspired her new saga series for Boldwood The Tobacco Girls, the first part of which will be published in January 2021.

Book Review: The Return of Her Lost Knight by Melissa Oliver *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of The Return of Her Lost Knight by Melissa Oliver ahead of the blog tour.

I was excited for this book, as I loved the previous book by Melissa Oliver that I read. The Return of Her Lost Knight did not disappoint, I absolutely loved it!

The Return of Her Lost Knight by Melissa Oliver book cover Mills & Boon historical

Her second chance

With her lost love…

To avoid a forced marriage, Lady Gwenllian plans to escape to a convent.

She couldn’t possibly honor another when her heart still belongs to Ralph de Kinnerton, the man she had to betray to save his life - only to hear of his death shortly after.

So how is it possible he’s here at this knight’s tournament?

Now the pull of their unfinished past forces Gwen to question the choice she’d made for her future…


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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Secrets, honour, family, danger, love.


Another outstanding historical romance from Melissa Oliver!

We meet Ralph first, who is a bit headstrong and rather impulsive - and almost to his own detriment. He is very chivalrous, and it's very appealing. He reminds me of Will from Her Banished Knight’s Redemption, who makes a brief cameo.

Gwen is maybe even more headstrong than Ralph. As a woman she doesn't have much power, but the power she does have she uses well. I loved her plotting, her plans to save herself and escape Stephen. I'd want to escape him too, he's pretty vile. Gwen has had a lot of heartbreak and betrayal, and it will take a lot to help her heal and learn to trust again.

This is absolutely a romance of miscommunications. If Gwenllian and Ralph had only used their words, so much anguish could have been avoided. But it was frustrating in the best of ways, particularly as the narrative switched between them so as a reader we knew the full story.

Both Gwen and Ralph had such strong senses of honour, and although it caused problems between them (which lead to a brilliant lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers arc) it meant that the passion and trust in their relationship was amplified. Their chemistry is amazing.

The historical setting is so well researched, it comes to life on the page with so many small details. There is an ever-present under current of danger that makes the pace feel fast even when the story slows down for more tender romantic scenes.

I've said it before and I'll doubtless say it again, Melissa Oliver is an author I'll be keeping an eye out for. I can't wait to read more.

The Return of Her Lost Knight by Melissa Oliver blog tour banner

Melissa Oliver is from south-west London where she writes historical romance novels. She lives with her lovely husband and three daughters, who share her passion for decrepit, old castles, grand palaces and all things historical. She is the winner of The Romantic Novelists' Association's Joan Hessayon Award for new writers in 2020 for her debut, The Rebel Heiress and the Knight. When she's not writing she loves to travel, paint and visit museums & art galleries.


Book Review: Whispers of the Runes by Christina Courtenay *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of Whispers of the Runes by Christina Courtenay ahead of the blog tour.

I can't remember the last time I read a time-slip romance but now I all I want to do is read them. As soon as I finished Whispers of the Runes by Christina Courtenay I went out and bought the others... Oops? It was a fantastic book that had me aching for more.

Whispers of the Runes by Christina Courtenay book cover Choc Lit

She couldn’t be sure that she had travelled through time... but deep down she just knew.

And her only way back had just disappeared.

When jewellery designer Sara Mattsson is propelled back to the ninth century, after cutting herself on a Viking knife she uncovers at an archaeological dig, she is quick to accept what has happened to her. For this is not the first Sara has heard of time travel.

Although acutely aware of the danger she faces when she loses the knife – and with it her way to return to her own time – this is also the opportunity of a lifetime. What better way to add authenticity to the Viking and Anglo-Saxon motifs used in her designs?

As luck has it, the first person Sara encounters is Rurik Eskilsson, a fellow silversmith, who is also no stranger to the concept of time travel. Agreeing that Sara can accompany him to Jorvik, they embark on a journey even more perilous than one through time. But Fate has brought these two kindred spirits together across the ages for a reason…


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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

Content Warnings: Violence, blood, threat of sexual assault.

5 Word Review: History, jewellery, love, friendship, danger.


I didn't realise I needed a Viking time slip romance, but here we are. And I need more.

This is the second book in a kind of mini-series, the first is The Runes of Destiny. There are small spoilers if you haven't read the first (like me) but I don't think they ruined it, if anything I'm even more excited to go back and read Linnea's story.

Sara adjusted remarkably well to her time travel - and although it was understandable given what has happened to her friend (in a book I have not read but immediately bought when I finished this). Even if I knew what she did, I would have freaked out a lot more. Sara is so lucky with her knowledge of languages both modern and ancient and it definitely made her situation a lot more bearable.

Rurik has such a kind heart, but my gosh he's a bit of an oaf sometimes! He's caring, yet careless when it comes to communication, which of course leads to massive misunderstandings.

I loved the simmering tensions between Sara and Rurik, and the growing trust between them. This is a marvellous slowburn with moments of intense lust, longing for their pasts, and perhaps a few mistakes. I liked their scrutinisation of their own pasts, and how the realisations they came to shaped their relationship.

This isn't just a one way timeslip, either. There is a small amount of back and forth, and I liked seeing how Rurik and Sara reacted to each other's times. Both would be a lot to take in, but Rurik really took it in his stride and it took it all with an open mind (and stomach). I do kind of wish that Sara had prepared a bit more when she got the opportunity to, I would have been straight into recipe books and survival blogs, frantically googling what plants are safe to eat.

It is obvious that a huge amount of research has gone into this book. It even had me reaching for resources. There is a vast history in the area that the book begins, from prehistoric to modern times, so a cairn isn't beyond the realms of possibilities, especially as the landscape has changed so much. And yes, I took myself to Marsden Bay in the thick sea fret for a bookstagram photo.

The writing is beautiful too. I could picture everything so perfectly, so vividly. I could even smell it, the descriptions are so rich. From the weather to the landscape, the smells to the horror of a raiding army, this book had me there, in the past.

Whispers of the Runes is perfect for fans of Outlander and The Last Kingdom, it's a whirlpool of action and a slowburn romance in one and I loved it. There was a snippet of Tempted by the Runes at the back, and December has to hurry up so I can read Madison's story!
Whispers of the Runes by Christina Courtenay blog tour banner


Christina Courtenay writes historical romance, time slip and time travel stories, and lives in Herefordshire (near the Welsh border) in the UK. Although born in England, she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden – hence her abiding interest in the Vikings. Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association and has won several awards, including the RoNA for Best Historical Romantic Novel twice with Highland Storms (2012) and The Gilded Fan (2014).  Whispers of the Runes (time travel published by Headline 24th June 2021) is her latest novel. Christina is a keen amateur genealogist and loves history and archaeology (the armchair variety).

Giveaway to Win a signed copy of Whispers of the Runes plus a pair of silver Viking style earrings
(Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions – Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

25 June 2021

Book Beginnings: Reputation by Lex Croucher

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 Reputation by Lex Croucher.

Reputation by Lex Croucher regency romance book cover

It all began at a party, as almost everything of interest does.

I don't think I can put into words how excited I am to be reading Reputation.

I requested this book on NetGalley and could have cried when I was turned down. Luckily I was contacted by the publisict and offered a review copy after sharing the cover reveal, and I could have cried again. Reputation is one of my most anticipated romance reads this year, and I am so freaking thrilled to have a copy in my hands.

I love this first line. I feel that it shows a lot of Georgiana's personality right off the bat, and it has me excited for what is to come. What began at a party? What's so interesting about it?

The cover is gorgeous - I love the pastel covers, the messy characters, the wisteria framing the top. I like the mix of historical and contemporary designs and themes, and it makes me want a glass of red wine.

Also check out that tag line:

It is a truth universally acknowledged... That girls just wanna have fun.

I mean, if that isn't a promise of messy drama then I don't know what it. I like the mix of references, it fully plays into the Regency Mean Girls vibes that the blurb mentions.

Georgiana turned back, smiling, a response to this halfway to her lips - but he was already gone, casting a long shadow as he strode back up the path towards the party.

This is from page 56 in my proof copy.

I like this line. In just the way Georgiana describes the scene we feel the curiosity and small regrets she has. We can feel longing in her voice already. I am here for it.

I'll be swanning around in my ridiculous floaty night dress all weekend reading Reputation, living my best life. Maybe even drinking wine too.

Keep an eye out for my review next Friday!

About the Book


The hilarious debut novel from Lex Croucher. A classic romcom with a Regency-era twist, for fans of Mean Girls, Bridgerton and Jane Austen.

Abandoned by her parents, middle-class Georgiana Ellers has moved to a new town to live with her dreary aunt and uncle. At a particularly dull party, she meets the enigmatic Frances Campbell, a wealthy member of the in-crowd who lives a life Georgiana couldn't have imagined in her wildest dreams.

Lonely and vulnerable, Georgiana falls in with Frances and her unfathomably rich, deeply improper friends. Georgiana is introduced to a new world: drunken debauchery, mysterious young men with strangely arresting hands, and the upper echelons of Regency society.

But the price of entry to high society might just be higher than Georgiana is willing to pay...


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What are you reading this week?

22 June 2021

Book Review: Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove by Marie Laval *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove by Marie Laval ahead of the blog tour.

I want to drive a bright yellow library bus around a Scottish island, please. I want to eat meals with friends and breath the fresh air. This book is special.

Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove by Marie Laval book cover

From the big city to a little yellow mobile library on the Isle of Skye...

When Jenna Palmer agrees to the new position of mobile librarian on the tiny Arrandale peninsular of the Isle of Skye, she knows she’s signing up for difficult working conditions and mediocre wages. But Jenna needs to get away, and a little yellow mobile library called Buttercup could be her escape to happier dreams...

However, whilst Jenna can get to grips with foggy island roads, local mermaid legends and even big purple monsters, she never expected to have to contend with a boss as grumpy as Daniel McGregor, or a young book lover as enthusiastic as his niece, Katrina.

Arrandale might represent Jenna’s safe port in a storm, but could she and Buttercup also become a beacon of hope to Daniel, Katrina and the entire island community?


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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, history, books, secrets, love.


I freaking loved this book. It had me cackling with laughter and sobbing into a pack of tissues, and I want to read it again. I'm only sad that it's finished.

Oh Jenna, can we be friends? Jenna was amazing. She's kind and generous and passionate, and she's fun. She puts herself out there despite her past, and she shares so much of herself. I loved how her character was explored, and each reveal of her past broke my heart more for her. But Mermaid Cove was just the tonic, and it was amazing to see her bloom (rather like the garden).

Daniel is a hot cross bun, and I loved to see the different sides of him explored. He was an excellent father-figure for Katrina and it had my heart full to bursting.

The depictions of Jenna's past relationship were pretty harrowing. Her ex was a vile, disgusting man who was gaslighting her at every opportunity. He made me blood boil every time he cropped up. But Jenna's strength was inspiring, especially when we saw first hand how his actions got to her. She's pretty amazing, and I was so angry on her behalf.

Katrina is a fire-cracker of a kid, and she brought an adorable honestly to every page she was on. I wanted to give her a massive hug, and for all that her uncle thought he was protecting her, I do wish she'd been treated with the maturity she deserved earlier.

This book is full of messy relationships, whether that be romantic mistakes or generations long conflicts. And it was excellent. I wanted to know about everyone's drama and how it would be resolved.

I really liked the small, rural aspects. Scenes from the farm with the animals were a little heart-breaking at times, but also heart warming. I loved the beach scenes, and could imagine my own toes in the sand, in the water, collecting small treasures.

I would happily read more about Mermaid Cove, I was certainly fascinated by the history and I liked how it was explored thought stories passed down. It was almost like folklore. Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove felt timeless, and like I could read it again and again and never get bored or stop wanting to visit Skye myself. It's pretty special.
Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove by Marie Laval blog tour banner

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie has lived in the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire for the past few years. She writes both contemporary and historical romance. Her novels include best selling contemporary romantic suspense novels LITTLE PINK TAXI and ESCAPE TO THE LITTLE CHATEAU, which was shortlisted for the 2021 RNA Jackie Collins Romantic Suspense Awards, as well as A PARIS FAIRY TALE and BLUEBELL'S CHRISTMAS MAGIC. Her latest novel, ANGEL OF THE LOST TREASURE, was released in February 2021. Marie also contributes to the best selling Miss Moonshine's Emporium anthologies together with eight author friends from Authors on the Edge.

Giveaway to Win 2 bracelets with glass found on a Northumberland beach, a pack of pencils, a mystery gift and some chocolate
(Open UK)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

14 June 2021

Five Favourite Quotes: The Viking Chief's Marriage Alliance by Lucy Morris *AD gifted

Mills & Boon sent me a free review copy of The Viking Chief's Marriage Alliance by Lucy Morris. It's such a gorgeous read, a truly exceptional historical romance and an incredible debut, and once I finished it I immediately went out and bought my own finished copy..

I was honestly blown away by The Viking Chief's Marriage Alliance by Lucy Morris. 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.

Normally on a Monday I would share a new review of a Mills & Boon title, but I couldn't not share my love and enthusiasm for The Viking Chief's Marriage Alliance.

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


Today I'm sharing my five favourite quotes from this absolutely stunning book.

The Viking Chief's Marriage Alliance by Lucy Morris: Her clothes and jewellery identified her as a jarl's wife. They gave her power in a world ruled by men. They were her sword and her shield.

Her clothes and jewellery identified her as a jarl's wife. They gave her power in a world ruled by men. They were her sword and her shield.

 


The Viking Chief's Marriage Alliance by Lucy Morris: What woman hurt you so much that you must curse me with her shadow?

What woman hurt you so much that you must curse me with her shadow?

 

The Viking Chief's Marriage Alliance by Lucy Morris: Dreaming of a new life, free from the cruelties of angry men. She'd not taken the time to think about what she would lose.

Dreaming of a new life, free from the cruelties of angry men. She'd not taken the time to think about what she would lose.

 


The Viking Chief's Marriage Alliance by Lucy Morris: Her mask dropped again and he sucked in a painful breath. No longer a coquettish girl, this was a beautiful woman weathered by battles unseen.

Her mask dropped again and he sucked in a painful breath. No longer a coquettish girl, this was a beautiful woman weathered by battles unseen.


 

The Viking Chief's Marriage Alliance by Lucy Morris: Love is not an object to own. Our hearts are not bound by weight or value. There is always more love we can give and receive.

Love is not an object to own. Our hearts are not bound by weight or value. There is always more love we can give and receive.

 


Hopefully these quotes will convince you to read The Viking Chief's Marriage Alliance by Lucy Morris, but if you need another push then check out my review.

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.

I was not expecting what I read. Not at all. And it was marvellous.

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!

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Will you be reading Raising Hell?