End of year round up – 2016

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Highlands of Scotland – 2014

So it’s been a bit of a strange year for me, I’ve had a few new starts like university and now a new job too.  Had you asked me this time next year there’s no way I would have expected this, hoped maybe, but not expected it would actually happen.  I’ve spent a long time working towards a better future for myself and for the first time in years it actually looks like it’s going to pay off, it’ll take a little longer to happen but the best things are always worth the wait.  The only problem with these new and exciting things is that they aren’t leaving a lot of time for other things and blogging sadly is one of them.

This is why, earlier this month, I made the decision to stop accepting review requests till June next year at the earliest and am not going to be taking part in any blog tours unless they are for authors I already know and read, there are one or two I’m hoping for but other than that I won’t be doing them because I simply won’t have the time.  What I am going to do, however, is work my way through the books I already have and review them because that way I can do it at my own pace without the pressure of specific deadlines to deal with.  I do have a few blog tour dates lined up for January and one I snuck in for the beginning of February  but after that my calendar is unusually empty.  However this gives me time to get my tbr pile down and my Netgalley % up which will make a change from how it’s been so far!

I know it’s not the end of the year yet but this is my last blog post of the year, I’m working today and have university essays due January, yep January! and I want to enjoy being off as much as possible so that means minimal social media for a week or so.  I would do a top ten or something as I did last year but I haven’t had a chance to think about that so I might do something in the new year once I’ve had time to take stock and consider the 98 books I’ve read so far this year.

I’ve had a brilliant, not perfect, but brilliant year and easily my best year in 8-10 years which is saying something so if you’ve had a good year like me then I hope it continues into next year and that one is as good if not better.  If you’re one of the many, many people I have seen on twitter and facebook commenting that this year has been terrible for them then I hope next year is better for you even if it doesn’t look that way just now.

Nothing left for me to say now other than I hope everyone has a brilliant Christmas and New Year however you choose to spend it. I hope it snows, I really want a white Christmas and I look forward to seeing you all here again next year for more book reviews.

 

 

 

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Blog Tour Review: Midnight and Mistletoe by Rebecca Raisin

So this is a really late blog post as it should have been up earlier but better late than never surely, and this is definitely one book worth waiting for! I’ve reviewed the other two books in the series, book 1 here and book 2 here, so it made perfect sense to review the 3rd and find out exactly how the story ends…….

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Midnight & Mistletoe

Cedarwood Lodge #3

By Rebecca Raisin

Releasing December 22

HQ Digital

Blurb:

Join Rebecca Raisin for the final festive part of the Cedarwood Lodge serial and see who might be kissing under the mistletoe…

Planning a New Years Eve Party might be the kind of event Clio Winters used to dream about organising, but when everything is feeling a bit up in the air, she has to hope that this New Years her wish really will come true.

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is the final part in this feel-good romance serial.

Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Google Play | Goodreads

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2gtmDtD

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2ha4up0

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/midnight-and-mistletoe-at-cedarwood-lodge-rebecca-raisin/1124580556

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Rebecca_Raisin_Midnight_and_Mistletoe_At_Cedarwood?id=UjnCDAAAQBAJ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31423833-midnight-and-mistletoe-at-cedarwood-lodge

 

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My Rating: 5/5

Review: Ok, so as I’ve said this is book 3 in the series. They are all novellas so nice sizes if you don’t want a long read which is ideal for me just now as I’m having trouble finishing normal-length books.  While it is a series and ideally you want to read all of them in order to understand the background each book does wind up the story enough that you aren’t left hanging too much when it finishes and this one is no exception.  Because of the length of it I read it in a few hours, like I said ideal for me at the moment, and for those few hours I was whisked away from wet and windy Scotland to the thick snow and crisp fresh air of winter in Evergreen.  I may have never been there in real life but I have definitely visited through the story.  I could easily visualise the mountain view, the trees covered in snow and the feeling of being cold from being outside but the nice type of cold that comes with snowy days when the air is clear and the snow is fresh and white.

This story covers Christmas day and New Years Eve and the week in between so is ideal for this time of year.  Apart from the usual celebrations, Timothy (an ex-boyfriend from school) hires Clio and the lodge for a New Years Eve party that his boss wants to throw.  For some reason he does this on Boxing Day (26th Dec for those who don’t know it) which means Clio and the rest of the team have less than a week to organise everything.  Add to that some family dramas and a few other things and it’s definitely a hectic week for everyone.  As you can see from my rating I loved the story, it was Christmassy but not overly so and it was balanced just right.  I like romance and festivities but sometimes books and films go overboard and it gets a bit too much, like eating really, really sweet chocolate cake, but thankfully this book didn’t do that otherwise my review would have been quite different.

I love Rebecca’s books, the ones I’ve read have always lived up to my expectations and this one is no different.  It’s perfect for the stormy weather forecast for the next few days or for escaping from the festivities for a few hours in between Christmas and New Year.  I would suggest somewhere warm and cosy for reading, really comfy clothes (or pyjamas!) and something warm like hot chocolate or similar because it honestly is a cosy and warm book that just suits that sort of set up.  One thing you will definitely need though regardless of where and when you read it is tissues, do not forget the tissues!!

 

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Author Info:

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been published in various short story anthologies and in in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.

 

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Website: http://rebeccaraisin.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jaxandwillsmum

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6915386.Rebecca_Raisin

 

Blog Tour Review: The Silent Pool by Phil Kurthausen

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Blurb:

How long can the past be kept secret?

It is a time of austerity. Financial cuts are biting hard and the once great City of Liverpool finds itself now almost bankrupt. At the eleventh hour funding is found in the form of enigmatic billionaire Kirk Bovind, a religious zealot, determined to change the moral and religious fibre of his old hometown and bringing salvation to the streets.

So when a man disappears without trace solitary lawyer, Erasmus Jones, agrees to track down missing Stephen, but quickly discovers that this is more than just a missing person case. Men are being brutally murdered across the city and Erasmus suspects the deaths are all linked.

As the search for Stephen grows and the ripples from the past begin to spread Erasmus has to ask himself whether Bovind could be behind the killings or if someone is trying to frame him and weaken the strangle hold he has over the city?

Who will be the next to die…?

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20497356-the-silent-pool?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00HAJG0HG/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

Giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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My Rating: 4/5

Review:  This is a little different from the books I usually read. It’s an intriguing mix of a story as well, there’s missing people and murders which is clearly crime and my favourite genre so that’s not a surprise but the other side of the story is. It reminded me of the Black Mirror series (formerly of Ch4, now on Netflix) in which the near future is depicted as a ‘what if’.  In this story Liverpool is nearly bankrupt, there will be no money left soon to pay wages, collect refuse, etc but in comes someone who has grown up there and then made their fortune in the US. This person comes apparently to save his home city from ruin and that’s the Black Mirror bit for me. Everyone knows of the recent financial crisis and it’s almost as if the author has thought ‘what if things were worse?’ ‘what if someone with money came in to effectively buy the city?’. A slight stretch of the imagination but not ludicrously so given what I’ve seen and read in the news over the past few years.

These two parts for me make this an intriguing story, there’s the questions that come with the supposed salvation of the city and it’s benefactor, why, what’s in it for him, etc and then the disappearances and murders, what’s going on there and are they connected. 

The way the story is written gives the reader time with both aspects of it as both are equally important. The descriptiveness is good too, I’ve been to many cities in the UK but not Liverpool for some reason but the descriptions of both the city and the effects of weather, etc on it are vivid and definitely add an extra layer to the story.

I like crime and psychological thrillers and I would say this fits into both so would be worth a try for anyone who also likes these genres, and those who are new to them, but want something a little different from the books that are currently available. 
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About the author: Phil Kurthausen was brought up in Merseyside where he dreamt of being a novelist but ended up working as a lawyer. He has travelled the world working as a flower salesman, a light bulb repair technician and, though scared of heights, painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Ken Dodd once put him in a headlock for being annoying.

He has had work broadcast on BBC radio 4 extra, published some short stories and his novel ‘The Killing Pool’ won the Thriller Round in the Harper Collins People’s Novelist Competition broadcast on ITV in November 2011 and appeared in the final. It was later shortlisted for the Dundee International Literary Prize in 2012. He lives in Chester.

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/philkurthausen

Website: www.philkurthausen.com

Blog Tour Review: On Thin Ice by Aven Ellis

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Blurb

Holly Johansson knows some things in her life are certain after college graduation:

1.) It’s a long road to become a full-time author.

2.) She’ll need to work to pay her bills.

3.) And Dallas Demons superstar Matt Rhinelander will never return her feelings.

Holly knows her unrequited crush on the partying hockey player is ridiculous. There’s no way Matt would be attracted to a woman who prefers nights in watching TV or reading books when he’s known for his frequent bar hops and fast lifestyle. Obviously he would never see her as anything other than his teammate’s little sister.

Yet Holly is drawn to the other side of Matt—the man she knows has always been thoughtful and easy to talk to whenever she’s been alone with him. It is this Matt that fueled the crush Holly has on him. And she knows it will always be just that—a secret crush.

Or will it?

Because when Matt helps Holly through a crisis, her heart begins to believe that there might be feelings on his part, too. After a night of hard partying puts Matt in jeopardy with the Dallas Demons, can Holly be the one to save him? And when Matt admits he sees her as more than Nate Johansson’s sister, will it put both of them on thin ice?

Links

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32505490-on-thin-ice

Amazon – mybook.to/thinice

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My Rating: 3.5/5

Review: This is the first book I have read by this author and I liked it a lot but it didn’t grab me quite enough for me to rate it higher.  Holly, one of the main characters was brilliant, I liked her a lot and could identify with her a great deal from the Harry Potter clothing to the fact she would rather stay home than go out partying.  Matt was also a good character but I found him a little too immature and didn’t connect with him as well as I did with Holly.

This is a nice, easy to read story that you can guess the ending of fairly early on but that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the story itself as you get to watch the relationships unfold and change as they get to know each other.  There’s not a lot  more I can say about the book because it didn’t wow me as much as I’d hoped it might and as a lot of it is character development to say more would just spoil it too much.  I felt there was a lot of emphasis on brand names which have never been of interest to me and still aren’t and I think things like that are part of the reason why I didn’t enjoy the book more, or to put it another way it’s me not the book.  The story is light and fun but with some serious issues in it but just wasn’t for me, much as I would like it to have been.  However, with the time of year it’s set during this is an ideal book if you want to cosy up over the holidays and read a light, slightly fairytale romance.  It is definitely a warm, comforting read for dark, cold winter nights.

 

About Author

I live in the Dallas area with my family. I enjoy clipping out recipes I will never get around to trying, working out, and chatting with friends on social media. I’m a hockey nut (Go Stars!) and watch as much as humanly possible. I also love shopping and fashion and admit to being obsessed with whatever the Duchess of Cambridge is wearing. In addition to be obsessed with the Duchess, I’m equally obsessed with any show or cookbook featuring Gordon Ramsay.

Links

Website/Blog – http://avenellis.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/@AvenEllis

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AvenEllis1

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7265661.Aven_Ellis

Amazon Page – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Aven-Ellis/e/B00GHUYO90/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1455968038&sr=1-1

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/avenellis/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest post and review: Holiday with the Mystery Italian by Ellie Darkins

Holiday with the Mystery Italian

Blurb:   Since the accident that paralyzed him, Italian tycoon Mauro Evans vowed to embrace life. So when he stars in a dating show for charity, picking prickly journalist Amber Harris as the winner to take on holiday is a challenge he can’t resist!

In Amber’s experience, relationships equal pain, so she’s determined to ignore her attraction to charismatic Mauro. But his bravery and strength threaten to tear down her defenses, giving her a new Christmas dream—ringing in the New Year with wedding bells!

Guest post:  on dating shows.

My initial idea for my latest Mills & Boon story came from watching a dating show with my friends. It had been years since I’d sat and watched Blind Date with my family on a Saturday night, and I was shocked by what I saw. It was bigger, bolder and brasher than Cilla had ever been, with a host of gorgeous women making the lone man work hard for their attention.

But what really struck me was that the reason for watching was the same as back in the days of Our Graham and the slightly wobbly Blind Date screen – we love to watch people falling in love.

Since that reintroduction to the world of TV dating, I’ve got hooked on a load of different shows with wildly differing formats, demographics and levels of cringe. There’s Dinner Date, where the unlucky contestants get a microwave meal for one delivered to their door by way of a let-down (I nearly wept at the unlucky contestant who didn’t even own a microwave), and the high-concept Marriage at First Sight, where the couple meet for the first time at their own wedding. And my all-time fave – First Dates – which takes a fly-on-the-wall approach to a restaurant patronised solely by couples meeting for their first date. It’s an hour of TV that leaves you shocked, surprised and disbelieving in turn, but by the end of the show the resounding feeling is one of hope – that one of the couples you have been watching will get their HEA.

In this way it’s not that different from picking up a Mills and Boon, seeing those tentative first steps that the hero and heroine take together. Trying to find out what makes them connect, where the difficulties in a relationship are going to lie. Whether they’re going to be prepared to work hard to overcome those difficulties. The one major difference, however, is the outcome. Much as we might be cheering those TV couples on as they share their first meal together, more often than not the catch-up taglines at the end of the programme show that even some with the most promising starts fizzled out before they really started. The success rates vary from ‘not great’ to ‘really terrible’ depending on which show you watch. But when you pick up a good romance, you know that that’s one thing it will deliver – a happy ever after, every time.

And as for how my para athlete Mauro and heartbroken journalist Amber get on when they meet in front of the cameras? Well you’ll just have to read on to find out!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Review: There’s a lot in this post already so I’m not going to say much other than I really enjoyed this book.  Yes, it’s a romance and you can probably guess what will happen in the end but the journey there is the most important and interesting part and this journey in particular is quite different from the other books of this genre that I’ve read in the past.  The two main characters are flawed but in different ways than you might expect and watching them come together and spark off each other was rather fun.  There aren’t many characters in this story and it works even better for it, the focus is on Mauro and Amber and that’s exactly where it should be.  The premise is good and different from usual and it works really well and I especially liked the twist about the holiday abroad and it’s exact location.

If you already enjoy romance books then you’ll definitely enjoy this one and if you haven’t read any before but fancy something a little different, especially in the hectic run up to Christmas then this is definitely an excellent choice.  Perfect in whatever setting you choose as long as it is away from any hustle and bustle and you can just drift away abroad and watch the magic happen.

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Ellie Darkins writes heart-warming stories about falling in love, finding your soul mate and fighting hard to make real relationships work. The HEA is guaranteed, but nothing else along the way is. Expect to see surprise babies, breath-taking settings and alpha heroes by the bucketload. Plus steamy kisses, heaps of sensual tension, and fireworks just audible from behind a closed bedroom door.

Elliedarkins.com

Facebook: facebook.com/elliedarkins

Twitter: twitter.com/elliedarkins

Insta: Instagram.com/ellie_darkins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour Review: Be My Baby by A.L. Michael

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Blurb: Two’s company…

If you asked Mollie whether she struggled as a single mum, she’d have to cover her daughter’s ears before answering. Surrounded by friends, watching Esme grow into the sassiest eleven-year-old in North London, and building her name as TV chef Mollie Makes, Mollie’s never been happier. Well, that’s what she’d tell you. But as her best friends pair off, and Esme starts getting into trouble at school, Mollie wonders whether life would be different – not better…but easier – with a team mate.

Three’s a crowd?

But Esme’s dad, Jamie, would be the last man Mollie would team up with. After all, he made it clear eleven years ago that he wasn’t interested in playing the family game. So when he suddenly reappears, Mollie can’t believe her eyes. And soon, she’s got to ask herself the hardest question yet: she knows she can succeed as a single mum. But what if her daughter doesn’t want her to?

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30619784-be-my-baby?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01FCQFJ8O/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

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My Rating: 4.5/5

Review: Although this is book 3 in this series of books this is the first one I’ve read which doesn’t detract from the story but I think I would have had a bit more depth and understanding of the characters involved had I read the others first.  However, as I’ve said this didn’t detract from the story and it was one that I really enjoyed.  The story covers Mollie and her daughter Esme who have only had themselves for eleven years until Jamie, her dad, suddenly reappears in their life and complicates things.

The relationship between Mollie and Esme is lovely to watch and quite typical of the relationship of parent and child at that age and it’s interesting to watch how the relationship changes and adapts to the sudden presence of Jamie.  I liked the interesting dynamic of the building they lived in with Evie and the others, it’s explained well but is clearly something that has come through from previous books and is probably dealt with in more depth there.

I know this is an incredibly short review compared to normal but there is little I can say without spoiling things.  I really enjoyed this book and will be reading the others in the series as soon as I have time as this is definitely an author I want to read more from.

 

Blog Tour Giveaway – click the link below to enter.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/bf633057106/?

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About A.L. Michael

A.L Michael is a writer and workshop leader from North London. She has a BA in Creative Writing with English Lit, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship and is starting an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. She likes learning and hates essays.

She’s a fan of cheap wine, expensive chocolate and still wants to be a secret agent when she grows up, but she’ll settle for lying on the page.

Links:

Website: http://www.almichael.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/almichael_

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/A.L.Michael.writer/?fref=ts