#CoverReveal : The Windmill Cafe (Book 1) by Poppy Blake. @Line_Reader @poppyblakebooks

This evening I am thrilled to be involved in the cover reveal for the first book in The Windmill Cafe series.  The cover is lovely and summery and I’ve included the blurb and a pre-order link below, should you wish to use it.  So, scroll down, have a read and then check out this lovely cover.

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Blurb:  The Windmill Cafe is open for business!

As Rosie Barnes serves glasses of tangy lemonade and ice-cold prosecco at her summer garden party, she couldn’t be happier. The Windmill Café, with its peppermint green sails is a roaring success and has given Rosie a chance to escape the heartbreak of her busy life in London.

But then disaster strikes when popstar Suki Richards is taken unexpectedly ill at the party. Now all eyes are on Rosie…have her famous raspberry cupcakes poisoned her most high-profile guest? Or is someone else trying to damage Suki’s chance of stardom?

If Rosie wants to save her picture-perfect life, and the reputation of her beloved Windmill Café, she’s going to have to get to the bottom of the mystery…and fast!

 

The book is released on 9th March but can be pre-ordered here.

 

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2018 Plans and Resolutions : Anne Stormont. @writeanne

Today I am thrilled to bring you a post from Anne Stormont, someone who sounds a lot like me due to her love of making lists although bullet journalling is something I have yet to try.  

Resolved and Raring to Go
I’m not all that keen on New Year resolutions. At least not ones of the lose lots of weight, become super fit, and become a better person variety. Been there, done that, failed miserably.

But I do like to plan. I love lists – master lists, sub-lists, mini-lists – lists of lists. I love post-it notes, notebooks and my latest passion – the bullet journal. When a friend recently introduced me to the concept of the life-planning notebook for uber planners like myself, I almost cried with gratitude. Two of my most favourite things – lists and stationery – had come together.   

At first I searched online and in real world stores but couldn’t find my dream bullet book and then one day while browsing in my local village bookshop, there it was – The Little Bullet Book. With sections such as: 

  • Life Overview
  • Task Tracker
  • Monthly Me
  • Wardrobe Detox
  • Day Planner
  • Project
  • My Goals

It was my perfect match. And with the help of this most excellent piece of stationery I am poised for a productive 2018 – both in my writing and in my personal life.

2018 Writing Goals:

  • Launch my latest novel in March. It’s called Settlement and is a sequel to Displacement
  • Write my next children’s book – like its predecessor The Silver Locket it will be aimed at 10 to 13 year-olds. It’s working title is The Silver Spider
  • Continue to blog and to network with fellow authors, book bloggers and my readers
  • Keep learning – about writing itself and about book marketing

2018 Personal Goals

  • Finish our house renovations. 
  • Visit our daughter, son-in-law and the grandchildren in Australia in July
  • Make time for me 
  • Keep up the daily 5k walk and my yoga practice
  • Go on the walking holidays, the weekends away, and do all the other nice timeout things that the last two years of upheaval haven’t allowed for
  • Spend more time with those who mean the most 

And that’s it. I have a plan. Although I’m mindful of John Lennon’s famous quote: Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans – so I’ll keep an open mind and expect the unexpected too. 

Do you make resolutions or plans? Whatever, I wish you a happy, peaceful and productive year.
Author Bio:

Anne has so far published two novels, Change of Life and Displacement. She is currently working on the sequel to Displacement.

Anne writes thoughtful, grown-up, romantic fiction where the main characters are older but no wiser. She thinks of her genre as Romance Plus – Plus realism, insight and grit. 

Anne also writes for children using the name of her alter-ego Anne McAlpine.

Anne blogs:https://putitinwriting.me

Twitter: @writeanne https://twitter.com/writeanne 

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/annestormontauthor/ 

The Little Bullet Book is by David Sinden and is published by Bluebird/PanMacmillan

Displacement’s Back Cover Summary:

From the Scottish Hebrides to the Middle-East, Displacement is a soul-searching journey from grief to reclamation of self, and a love-story where romance and realism meet head-on. Divorce, the death of her soldier son and estrangement from her daughter, leave Hebridean crofter, Rachel Campbell, grief-stricken, lonely and lost. Forced retirement leaves former Edinburgh policeman Jack Baxter needing to find a new direction for his life. When Rachel meets Jack in dramatic circumstances on a wild winter’s night on the island of Skye, a friendship develops, despite very different personalities. Gradually their feelings for each other go beyond friendship. Something neither of them feels able to admit. And it seems unlikely they’ll get the chance to because Rachel is due to leave for several months to visit family in Israel – where she aims to re-root and reroute her life. Set against the contrasting and dramatic backdrops of the Scottish island of Skye and the contested country of Israel-Palestine, Displacement is a story of life-affirming courage and love.

If you’re interested in reading Displacement before its sequel comes out then you can get it here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Displacement-Anne-Stormont/dp/0992930332/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511456623&sr=8-1&keywords=Anne+Stormont

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

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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

 

 

Blog Tour: Review of The Exiled by Kati Heikkapelto

So this is going to be a review with a difference for two reasons. First is this is the first book I have read by this author and the first set in the countries covered in the book.  The second reason is that I haven’t actually finished reading the book yet. (Sorry!)  University work and a placement have meant that I’ve been overwhelmed by information during the day recently and the last thing I’ve wanted to do at night is read anything.  So while I have started the book and can review what I’ve read so far I won’t be rating it until I have finished it, despite this I do have some feedback from what I have read so you can definitely get a flavour of the book from my review.

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Blurb:

Murder. Corruption. Dark secrets. A titanic wave of refugees.
Can Anna solve a terrifying case that’s become personal?
Anna Fekete returns to the Balkan village of her birth for a relaxing summer holiday. But when her purse is stolen and the thief is found dead on the banks of the river, Anna is pulled into a murder case. Her investigation leads straight to her own family, to closely guarded secrets concealing a horrendous travesty of justice that threatens them all. As layer after layer of corruption, deceit and guilt are revealed, Anna is caught up in the refugee crisis spreading like wildfire across Europe. How long will it take before everything explodes? Chilling, taut and relevant, The Exiled is an electrifying, unputdownable thriller from one of Finland’s most celebrated crime writers.

My thoughts so far:

As I’ve already said this is the first book I’ve read by this writer and from what I’ve read so far I doubt it will be the last.  This is not the first Anna Fekete book  but there is enough background given that I haven’t felt that I am missing any essential information about her.  I started reading wondering what I had agreed to read, between the book being originally written in a different language and the way it is written I was finding it both quite strange and completely gripping.

There’s something about books that have been initially written in a non-English language that makes the writing (once translated) quite different from those that were written in English and therefore don’t require translation for an English speaking market.  I can’t explain what this difference is but if you read this book or anything similar you should be able to see it for yourself.  For me that difference makes the books quite mesmerising, the way they are written (both this and The Bird Tribunal) is quite distinctive and I really like it.  The authors seem to focus on areas that other authors don’t, for instance there is a lot of description of the area, trees, feelings of air moving, nearby sounds, etc but these are done in such a way that makes them very clear but without the book being overly descriptive and wordy, not something that many authors can achieve.

This book has that descriptive writing and it adds so much to the story without getting in the way.  We follow Anna who has returned home for a summer holiday and then decides to investigate when her handbag is stolen and she is unsatisfied with the police investigation.  For anyone who does not know, Anna is a police investigator in Finland (where she lives) so the idea of her investigating in her home town is not as far-fetched as it may sound.  We get to see her conflicted thoughts as to whether she should investigate or just leave things especially as she gets her bag back missing only a few items.  There is a lot of pressure on her to drop her inquiries but something nags at her and suggests she should continue.  This conflict is well-written and mirrors my own so far. I can understand why she wants to investigate and I want the same answers she does but at the same time I am concerned that her continued investigation could be a bad idea.

It’s clear that this is a recently written book because it already has made mention of refugees fleeing Syria and other countries and we get to see the impact that has on the people in the town and how welcoming they are (or not).  There is also conflict and disagreement over the perception of Roma gypsies between Anna and others in the town.  This conflict is proving particularly interesting to me because the perception of gypsy/travellers in the UK is something that was covered on my course a few weeks ago so it’s interesting to see how it is tackled by an author from a different country and what the assumptions and prejudices are in other countries.

So far this book has proved most intriguing and is one of those books you get sucked into when you start reading.  Time disappears while you follow Anna and agonise over her decisions with her.  I’m disappointed that I haven’t been able to finish this book in time for the blog tour but it will definitely be finished soon as there is no way I can leave it and not know what happens to Anna, the investigation and all the other interesting characters that have appeared so far.

 

 

Author bio: Kati Hiekkapelto was born in 1970 in Oulu, Finland. She wrote her first stories

at the age of two and recorded them on cassette tapes. Kati has studied Fine Arts in Liminka Art School and Special Education at the University of Jyväskylä.  The subject of her final  thesis/dissertation was racist bullying in Finnish schools.  She went on to work as a special
needs teacher for immigrant children. Today Kati is an international crime writer, punk singer and performance artist. Her books, The Hummingbird and The Defenceless have been translated into 16 languages and both were shortlisted for the Petrona Award in the
UK.
The Defenceless won Best Finnish Crime Novel of the Year, and has been shortlisted for the prestigious Glass Key. She lives and writes in her 200 year old farmhouse in Hailuoto, an island in the Gulf of Bothnia, North Finland. In her free time she rehearses with her band, runs, hunts, picks berries and mushroom s, and gardens. During long, dark winter months she chops wood to heat her house, shovels snow and skis.