Saturday, 31 December 2016

My top books of 2016

I know that I'm not the only one who is thankful that there is only a few hours left of the horrific year that has been 2016.  While there was many lows and lots of tears shed, there were also some highs.  For me, 2016 will be the year that I chose to make a difference to my life.  It's the year that I lost nearly two stone, I graduated, I went back to college to complete the next level.  It's the year that I welcomed a new baby cousin and the year that I made so many brilliant new friends.  However, there have also been many problems throughout the year, such as problems with gallstones and in the last week a horrendous toothache, that saw me spend more time in the dentists chair this week, than at home.  

While assignments often got in the way of my reading time, I did eventually manage to read 
70 books throughout 2016, which is 20 more books that I wanted to read, so I'm taking that as a win, even though it's nearly forty less than I read last year.  Books have safely seen me through both the good and bad times of 2016, providing me with tears and laughter along the way.  It's taken some deliberation, but finally  I have narrowed down my top reads of 2016.

1. The Girl From The Savoy by Hazel Gaynor

The Girl From the Savoy is my top read of 2016.  This book blew me away and I couldn't have enjoyed it more if I possibly tried.  I cried tears of sadness and joy whilst reading this book.  Dolly and her story will stay with me forever.  I was also lucky enough to travel to Dublin for the launch of this book, which was an amazing experience and one that I will never forgot.  Hazel Gaynor has opened my eyes to Historical Fiction.

2. A Life Without You by Katie Marsh
As well as this being a total tear-jerker of a book, tears were shed for a different reason when I got my hands on this book.  To see my name in the acknowledgements of this book was one of my highlights of 2016 and is a total honour.  With that aside, this book was just as good as My Everything and I loved every page of it.  It opened my eyes to the horrible disease that is Alzheimer's and really tugged on my heart strings, while still providing many laughs.

3. The Things I Should Have Told You by Carmel Harrington
The Things I Should Have Told You took me on one hell of a journey with the Guinness Family and has stayed with me long after I closed the book.  This book stole a little piece of my heart and is story that I will never forget.  It is without doubt the best book that Carmel Harrington has written to date and I can't wait to see what she gives us in 2017.

4. Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard
This is without a doubt the best debut that I have read this year! Distress Signals is one of the best thrillers that I have read to date and is a real whodunnit read.  It is taut with suspense and full of twists and turns that will leave you feeling dizzy.  I urge anyone who hasn't read this book yet to pick it up when it comes out in mass paperback in early 2017.  I will be eagerly awaiting more work from this author.

5. The Judge's Wife by Ann O'Loughlin
I would never have discovered this amazing book, had it not been for a chance meeting with the author at a book launch in Dublin.  I was lucky enough to be able to go to the book launch for this book.  When I started reading this book, I remember being blown away by the raw emotions that I felt while reading this book.  The Judge's Wife is not an easy read, but is one that has stayed with me since I have read it and I feel that this may be a book that I go back to over and over again.

6. Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent
There are no words to describe how truly brilliant this book is.  It hooks you from the first page and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat throughout.  I have been raving about this book to anyone who will listen to me/  Lying in Wait is a book that I will read again and again.  If you haven't read this book yet, you are missing out.

7. The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse
This is hands down that most heartbreaking book that I have read in 2016 and is a huge eye opener.  This is the best book that Amanda Prowse has written to date and that is saying something.  The Food of Love is heartbreaking and real and I cannot recommend it enough.

8. The Last Night by Cesca Major
The Last Night is also Historical Fiction, that moves between the past and the present.  There was something spellbinding about this book from start to finish and I couldn't have enjoyed it more if I tried.  I am so looking forward to reading more by this author.

9. Fix You by Carrie Elks
Fix You is one of the first books that I read in 2016.  It has stayed with me since I read it and is a story that I cannot forget.  Fix You takes the reader on a brilliant journey through the years and is hands down one of the best books that I have read in 2016.  I can't wait to read more from this amazing author.

10. The Fallout by Margaret Scott
The Fallout is different from every other book that I read this year and I absolutely loved it.  Margaret Scott is an exceptionally talented author and I am so looking forward to reading more from her in the future.  In fact, I'm making it my business to get my hands on her first book in 2017, which has so far proved impossible to get!

It took a while, but here are my top ten reads of 2016. 

Whatever you're doing tonight, enjoy it and I wish you all the best for 2017.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

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

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review, as part of the blog tour.


To say that I enjoyed this book is a huge understatement.  I will however, hold my hands up and admit that this is the first book that I have read from this author and is therefore the first book in this series that I have read to date.  However, I feel that as well as being the third book in a series, Be My Baby works very well as a standalone book and I was able to join the story without feeling that I had missed on anything vital to the story.

Be My Baby tells Mollie's story.  A single mother to her eleven year old daughter, Esme, Mollie, is an introvert.  After being dumped by Esme's father while she was pregnant, Mollie as found it hard to move on from the upset and heartbreak that she was faced with all those years ago.  As a single mother, Mollie has had to put all of her efforts into raising her daughter with little time left for to think of finding love. As well as being an amazing mother to her daughter, he business, Mollie Makes, which aims at promoting healthy foods, has taken off beyond Mollies wildest dreams.  When Mollie makes an appearance on a local television network, little does she know that Jamie, Esme's father is watching and is about to be catapulted back into their lives.  But all is not as it seems, as we quickly learn that Jamie may not know the whole story and as the story begins to unravel, we learn what happened all those years ago to make the characters go their separate ways, what has happened since and most importantly, if they are willing to risk their already broken and bruised hearts to give their relationship one last chance?

As this is the first book I have read in this series, I didn't know the characters previously, and therefore I didn't have the connection that other readers may have to them.  In saying that, I warmed to them right away and found that they are very well written and developed characters.  I definitely want to get to know them more and I am looking forward to discovering the previous two books in the series and getting to spend more time with these lovely characters.

I enjoyed this book from the very first page.  It is such a warm, light-hearted story that everyone will enjoy, especially if you have read the previous two books in the series.  Be My Baby is warm and friendly and draws you in, transporting you to a different world.  It is just the heart warming read that I needed and I cant recommend it enough.


The prize is a goodie bag, full of healthy foodie treats inspired by one of the characters in the book! It will include baking goodies and other stuff but that's all I know!

The giveaway is running from 28th November till the 12th December and is oper to UK residents only.


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.


Guest Post: Sara Mendes da Costa

Today I am delighted to host a guest post by Sara Mendes da Costa, where she shares with us her thoughts on Christmas. 
My thoughts on Christmas – Sara Mendes da Costa
Every year when our beautiful autumn begins to hang up her russet cloak and the first Christmas goodies can be seen in the shops, I hear people complaining ‘It’s just too early!  Christmas isn’t for weeks yet.’ Then November begins in earnest and impressive decorations start to adorn the streets and shop windows are full of twinkling seasonal displays and glittering trees and still I hear complaining … and I simply smile in silent reply.

Because, you know what, if truth be known…I love it! I love this magical time of year so I say bring it on!

For me there was nothing quite like Christmas when I was a kid. My birthday was amazing, sure, plenty of presents and cake and parties and fabulous birthday’ness…but Christmas had this huge build up and was just so …special. The TV & Radio Times held promises of Christmas shows to come, Morecombe and Wise’s seasonal hilarity would be hotly anticipated as always, moods were lifted and plans were laid. Lists were written and invites sent. Festive fun, sparkle and enthusiasm was everywhere and my eyes would be wide and my insides would be bursting with anticipation and hope. The radio played the happy Christmas songs we all know and love and TV would always air wondrous, sparkling, Christmas ads and all I could think about was Father Christmas, stockings, decorations, food, celebrations and of course prezzies.
Well, you know what, I haven’t changed a bit!

Christmas, and all the magic surrounding it, for me is like an anchor to all things good. Just like the smell of suntan lotion takes me immediately to lazy sun-filled summer holidays and golden sands and all the memories that come with them, so the rich sound of bells and carols and the sight of a twinkling Christmas tree, and beautifully wrapped presents – not forgetting Father Christmas -take me back to joyful Christmases past… and that makes my tummy smile.

When my lovely man Michael and I met over seven years ago, we decided to have our own special Christmas weekend before the main event; before we went our separate ways to our own kin. We’d only been together five or six months at the time of our first Christmas so it was a bit early in our relationship to spend a family one together. We chose the weekend before the Christmas just for the two of us, and SMXmas was born! Short for Sara and Michael’s ‘Xmas’. We had the Friday, which we named SMXmas Eve, the Saturday which was SMXmas Day and the Sunday which was SMOXing Day J I remember it like it was yesterday and quite wonderfully, as we opened our presents on SMXmas day, it began to snow! Quite simply the icing on the cake; and boy oh boy did it snow! So rare when you live on the south coast of England. Quickly, the garden and streets became covered in a pristine blanket of magical white. Needless to say, presents were downed (as were drinks) and snowball fights ensued and Mr Happy the snowman was created (whose photo still has pride of place on my piano) It was just the best time and you know what, after that we decided to celebrate SMXmas every year! We still have those three special days just for us regardless of what we end up doing over Christmas.

SMXmas Eve is always enjoyed at our favourite bar and restaurant in Brighton having cocktails followed by a sumptuous meal, then SMXmas Day is spent like a couple of kids opening stockings, imbibing a celebratory bottle of Buck’s fizz on Hove seafront (whatever the weather) and then heart-warming Christmas films and scrummy food and the excitement of main prezzies across the afternoon and evening. Finally, SMOXing Day is a welcomed walk over the Sussex Downs to blow away the cobwebs followed by a warming mulled wine in our local before putting our feet up with more films in the evening. It really is quite lovely and we both get thoroughly excited about it every year.

By the time Christmas comes around, we usually feel like we’ve had our Christmas! But, hey, there’s always plenty more festive magic to enjoy with our families.

I’ve thought about Christmas quite a lot over the years and how it’s changed and grown…and then grown some more! It’s certainly more commercial than it once was but it’s still so very special. There are of course differing views from different people; some really love it and some can’t wait for it to be over but I think in amongst the melee of the crowds and the pressure and the commercial angle, there is still a lot of wonder, hope, excitement and love amongst most. For me, and I hope for the majority reading this article, Christmas is a time to be with loved ones, family and friends, to laugh and to talk and to laugh some more; to give presents and to enjoy receiving special gifts that those who love you have chosen for you. It’s a happy hiatus where we can enjoy time off to relax, for special gatherings and for quiet snuggles; for Christmas carols and festive films …and of course for eating and drinking your way through far too much! …until it’s time to pack it all up – perhaps a little thankfully – for another year. But the memories of that over indulgence and expanded waistband, the slightly lean bank balance, the mess, the fuss and the house covered in pine needles gradually, over the year, get forgotten until wintertime comes around again and the whole process starts once more…and I, for one, am extremely grateful.

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you.
May all your Christmases be bright.
Love Sara

Peanuts and Eggcups
For Maggie Parsons there’s only ever been one man: the stunningly delicious Luke Henderson. Unfortunately, he left her, without explanation, after their ‘first night’ together …breaking her heart in the process. 

Now ten years on, without any contact, he’s back and going to her school reunion. Great! And, to confuse matters…so is his suave, sexy, brother Tony who makes a major play for Maggie, then turns up with his insufferable - supposedly ex – fiancĂ©e! 

Via the reunion, a black eye, getting the sack (as a result) a madcap girlie holiday and juggling her confused emotions around the two alluring brothers…Maggie starts to build a picture of what she really wants in life. 

Trouble is, Maggie’s a pawn in a game she doesn’t even know she’s playing …and things are about to get a whole lot more complicated.

Available from
Amazon UK

About Sara Mendes da Costa
Sara Mendes da Costa is the voice of the BT Speaking Clock; the fourth person to hold this prestigious title since 1936.

A successful, world-renowned voiceover artist, her dulcet tones are easily recognisable on television, radio, film and across countless media.

Never far from the press, she’s known for her appearances on BBC Breakfast, ITV This Morning, Children in Need, Wake up to Wogan and The Today Programme, and balances her prolific voiceover career with her passion and commitment as a novelist.

Peanuts & Eggcups, her debut novel - hotly anticipated by the industry - is “The perfect & highly addictive reading companion for women’s fiction fans”. `

A lover of laughter, creativity, great storytelling and a wee dram, Sara adores writing novels and seeks to entertain, uplift and inspire. 

Her upcoming novels: Time & Time Again & Maggie Ever After, are expected in 2017.


A huge thank you to Sara for agreeing to share her thoughts on Christmas with us today on the blog.

Friday, 2 December 2016

The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse

I have never read a book that has moved me quite so much before and I doubt I will again.  Although I am in doubt that if I do, it will be by this amazing author.  There is always something bittersweet about reading an Amanda Prowse book, because I know that I am going to love every page, but also take out a share in Kleenex for the duration.  With The Food of Love, I was really able to savour this book, as I was trying my hardest to catch a chapter here and there between college work, but in the end I had to just put my college work on hold and dive straight in, because I really couldn’t wait another minute to find out what happened at the end of this amazing book.

Freya has is all, she loves her job, her husband adores her and she has two beautiful teenage girls, Charlotte and Lexi.  Freya doesn’t know it yet, but her world is about to fall apart at the seams.  After being called in to her Lexi’s school to discuss a funny that her daughter has taken due to not eating, it becomes apparent that Lexi has a problem with food.  At first, Freya doesn’t want to believe it, she is completely in denial about how her beautiful daughter, who is loved so much by everyone that knows her could be suffering from an eating disorder.  But when Freya finds bags of her daughters vomit hidden in her room, Freya and her husband Lockie have to admit that their daughter has a problem and they set out to make her better, no matter what, because they just can’t lose their beautiful little girl to anorexia.  What follows in a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching tale of how one family battle with their daughter’s demons and how anorexia can change so many lives.

What makes Amanda Prowse’s book so real is that they are about real people and whether we like it or not, the topics that she covers in her books are happening all around us on a daily basis.  Anorexia is classed as a mental illness and the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses is still very much alive in today’s world.  By writing this book, Amanda is breaking this stigma and for that she must be applauded.  The Food of Love was sometimes tough to read and at times I did need to put it down, but it opened my eyes to what happens, not only to the person suffering from anorexia, but also to their friends and family.  It really made me wonder about how many families have had to watch their beloved child, grandchild, sibling, suffer in the way that Lexi did in the book.  Everyone has, at some point in their lives, wanted to lose weight, I myself am at that point at the moment, and it is a huge eyeopener, that losing too much weight and being too skinny, can be just as serious and even more dangerous as being overweight.

The characters in this novel have had such a lasting effect on me and a little bit of my heart remains between the pages, even though I’ve closed the book for the final time.  I have never felt such raw emotion when reading a book before and the thought that the things that were happening to the family in the book, are happening now to real family is very thought provoking and really upsetting to me.

The Food of Love is hands down the best book I have read this year and probably this decade.  Amanda Prowse is a truly talented storyteller and has quickly become my favourite author over the last few years.  All of her books are special, but there is something about The Food of Love that stands out from the rest.  This family and their story is one that is going to stay with me for a very long time.  I always feel like I need a huge hug after finishing an Amanda Prowse hug and this one was no different.

I really cannot recommend this book enough and I will telling anyone who will listen to me just how amazing it is.  Freya's story is written with such passion that it hard not to lose yourself in the story.  The Food of Love is poignant and touching and I'm not going to lie, it will leave you an emotional wreck.  Amanda Prowse is one of the best authors of this time and you will not want to miss out on her best novel to date.

5 stars

I would like to thank the author for sending me an arc copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The food of love is available to buy here.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Bertie's Gift by Hannah Coates

I would like to thank the publishers for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review. Today I am delighted to host a Q and A with Hanney Coates as part of the Bertie's Gift blog tour,  as well as sharing my review with you all. 

Q and A with Hammer Coates:

1.       What was it that made you want to write a book from the perspective of a dog? And, in particular, a beagle?
Forget reindeers. Dogs and Christmas go together like mince pies and brandy butter. Fun, optimistic, generous, loving - all the things that make Christmas great are also qualities we associate with our favourite dogs. So when I sat down to write a festive tale, a dog's voice was the obvious choice. My first dog, as quite a young child, was a beagle with a Kennel Club name so long and complicated, it was more like the name of a certain Welsh railway station. None of us could ever remember it. So we called him Pippin Boot instead. Pippin after the hobbit in Lord of the Rings, and Boot after his favourite food. Yes, Pippin was a very playful and mischievous dog, especially as a puppy, and regularly ate anything he could get hold of, even things not ordinarily viewed as food. He chewed boots and table legs and magazines - and once stole and consumed an entire packet of butter. I thought my mother would have a heart attack ... But he was adorable too, and such wonderful company, he soon became the model for my hero in Bertie's Gift.
2.       Bertie’s Gift deals with themes of tragedy and loss, do you think dogs can play a crucial part in helping their owners heal?
Absolutely, and we see this in action when trained animals are placed with people as 'therapy dogs' or mental health 'assistance dogs' in the hope they will provide the sufferer with a calming and comforting influence. But even your average family pooch can help owners get through times of bereavement, stress and depression, by being there for you, not only someone who will listen in a non-judgemental way - and without offering unwanted or contradictory advice - but also a physical presence, warm, soft and strokable. This may seem obvious, but if you're alone or unhappy, having a fluffy dog to hug and pet is a great way to self-comfort - as well as making your dog happy too!
3.       How do you get inspiration to write? What is your writer’s process?
I love solving problems, and a novel is one gigantic problem waiting to be resolved, both in terms of plot and character development, and in language terms, from sentences to word selection. That ongoing challenge - as well as needing to pay the bills! - is what drives me back to my current manuscript every day. My writing process is fairly simple. I prefer to work with a detailed plan, though I do wing it occasionally, and I start with page one and push through to the end as planned. No secret method entailed. But unlike many writers, I tend not to plan out characters - all that writing school guff like, 'What does your hero eat for breakfast? what is his favourite colour?' That seems pointless and mechanical to me, not to mention dreary. Instead, I work with plot first, and let the characters reveal themselves to me by the way they react to situations and other people. I used to have a lot of trouble with beginnings, and often rewrote the first page hundreds of times. Now, the first few sentences tell me what kind of story it's going to be, and if I'm happy with that 'voice' I just crack on from there ...

4.       Christmas is drawing ever closer, what do you do to get in the spirit?
Buy presents and stock up on food! Seriously though, as a busy mum of five as well as a writer, I do spend a fair amount of time buying presents, and not just for my kids but my furbabies too. I'm always looking for novelty gifts for our pets. My favourite this year has to be a pirate ship for cats. Whoever thought of that deserves a medal! I usually leave the tinsel and tree-dressing to my teenagers these days. The ceremony of unearthing Christmas ornaments and placing the angel on the tree are wonderful family traditions, handed down from my own mum, who was also a writer and mother of five! 
5.       Can you share with us your top three doggy books?
The Starlight Barking, Dodie Smith; The Incredible Journey, Sheila Burnford; White Fang, Jack London.
6.       And finally, the John Lewis Christmas advert. Yay or nay?
A bit on the corny side. Though there was a fabulous meme doing the rounds of someone's Boxer dog watching the advert and bouncing up and down too, just like Buster on the telly.* Superb!


Bertie's Gift is a Christmas book with a difference.  This book is told from the point of view of Bertie, a beagle, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I started reading it, but very early on in the book I found myself immersed in the story and I couldn't put the book down. 

After Mrs Minton died, her husband has been finding it hard to cope.  He's elderly and alone and five dogs just seem to be too much for him.  When the dogs cause trouble one day and ruin one f his late wife's dresses, Mr. Minton feels that this is the last straw and soon the dogs end up in a rescue home, where Bertie is seperated from his sister and best friend, Molly for the first time in hos life.  When Molly is adopted by a woman that quite frankly, Bertie does not like the look of, Bertie is numb with grief.  But soon, Bertie is adopted by a family who have had their own fair share of grief and Bertie knows that they need him just as much as Molly.  Bertie soon joins forces with Kitty and Rico, the two cats also owned by the Green family and Pepper, next doors poodle and a plan is hatched to rescue Molly from that awful woman so that they can be a family again.  Suddenly crisis strikes and it's up to Bertie to save the day and Christmas before the worst happens.

This book made me an emotional wreck.  I was crying happy tears one minute and tears of sadness the next.  Everything was happening so fast and I couldn't help but think of my own little doggy and how I would feel of something like this happened to him.  Bertie is the most amazing dog and I take my hat off to the author for being able to create him the way that she did.  He is utterly brilliant and everything that he does stays true to him being a dog. 

The story has enough twists and turns to keep the reader interested and I found that after a while the pages seemed to just turn themselves, as I fell deeper and deeper into the storyline.

Every single character in this book, from the cats to the humans and everything in between are so well written and developed.  As a cat and dog owner, I couldn't help but smile at how to animals treated each other, because every bit of it is so true to life.

Bertie's Gift is an emotional rollercoaster of a book that will show you the real meaning of Christmas and just how much us humans mean to our pets.  Every last page is beautiful and heartwarming and will make you feel warm inside on the coldest winter's day.  I can't recommend this book enough.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Blog Tour: Fifteen Words by Monika Jephcott Thomas

I did not have much of an opportunity as a child in post war Germany to read books as my family‘s first priority was to provide shelter and food. I had the Grimm’s fairy tales read to me at bed time but I found those quite scary and not conducive to sleep.  Hence nowadays I do not read crime stories at bedtime. Also there were  2 childrens’ books called ‘Max und Moritz ‘and ‘Struwelpeter’, by Wilhelm  Busch  which were all filled with moral advice and I did not like them a lot because of what happened to children if they were naughty. I thought was quite cruel.
What I had the chance to do however is play which I did in all my spare time alone or with friends roaming woods, playing by the local river in the fields etc. I had total freedom so enjoyed life and was not contained within the house which might have meant I would be using my imagination in play and write stories rather than being free to be outside in fields, biking etc. . . . Unfortunately children do not often have this opportunity nowadays although we know how important free play is in their emotional development.
 My love of books started in Secondary school where we were introduced to the German classics.  I enjoyed mainly the poetry of Goethe, Eichendorff and Rilke
When I got into the 6th form we were introduced to non-German literature and my favourites were Dickens, Shakespeare, Bronte sisters, Sartre
My book was mainly influenced by my family history and I found Jodi Picoult’s ‘Story Teller’ very interesting.  It gave me some insight into questions in my mind as to ’how could ‘Hitler’ happen in Germany. In her book Jodi describes how the ‘monster inside you’ can emerge through circumstances
Unfortunately I have not got much time nowadays to do reading for leisure. My reading time is taken up with professional books which I do not read again and again but use as reference material. What I read often again are my favourite poets like those mentioned above and English poets like Donne and the English Romantics.

Fifteen Words Blurb
Two young doctors form a profound and loving bond in Nazi Germany; a bond that will stretch them to the very limits of human endurance. Catholic Max - whose religious and moral beliefs are in conflict, has been conscripted to join the war effort as a medic, despite his hatred of Hitler’s regime. His beloved Erika, a privileged young woman, is herself a product of the Hitler Youth. In spite of their stark differences, Max and Erika defy convention and marry.
But when Max is stationed at the fortress city of Breslau, their worst nightmares are realised; his hospital is bombed, he is captured by the Soviet Army and taken to a POW camp in Siberia. Max experiences untold horrors, his one comfort the letters he is allowed to send home: messages that can only contain Fifteen Words. Back in Germany, Erika is struggling to survive and protect their young daughter, finding comfort in the arms of a local carpenter. Worlds apart and with only sparse words for comfort, will they ever find their way back to one another, and will Germany ever find peace?
 Fifteen Words is a vivid and intimate portrayal of human love and perseverance, one which illuminates the German experience of the war, which has often been overshadowed by history.
Purchase on Amazon UK -

About Monike Jephcott Thomas
Monika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002.

Blog Tour : Who Killed the Mice Spy? by Matthew Redford

The Blurb:
Tenacious carrot, detective inspector Willie Wortell is back to reveal the deviously delicious mind behind the crime of the festive season in this hugely entertaining, and utterly unconventional, short story.
When Mitchell the Mince Spy is horrifically murdered by being over baked in a fan oven, it falls to the Food Related Crime team to investigate this heinous act. Why was Mitchell killed? Who is the mysterious man with a long white beard and why does he carry a syringe? Why is it that the death of a mince spy smells so good?

Detective Inspector Willie Wortel, the best food sapiens police officer, once again leads his team into a series of crazy escapades. Supported by his able homo sapiens sergeant Dorothy Knox and his less able fruit officers Oranges and Lemons, they encounter Snow White and the seven dwarf cabbages as well as having a run in with the food sapiens secret service, MI GasMark5.
With a thigh slap here, and a thigh slap there, the team know Christmas is coming as the upper classes are acting strangely - why else would there be lords a leaping, ladies dancing and maids a milking?
And if that wasn't enough, the Government Minister for the Department of Fisheries, Agriculture and Rural Trade (DAFaRT) has only gone and given the turkeys a vote on whether they are for or against Christmas.

Let the madness begin!

Who Killed The Mince Spy is a Christmas book with a twist and I loved every single page of it.  I think this is the first time that I've wished a short story wasn't so short.  This story is just madness from beginning to end and is thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining, with a whodunnit aspect.

Who Killed the Mince Spy? follows the Food Related Crime team as they investigate who killed Mitchell, the mince spy, after he is heinously murdered and cooked in an oven. But who killed Mitchell and what motives did they have.  As the Crime Investigation team follow a man with a syringe and a long white beard.  As DI  Wortel leads his team on a crazy adventure to try to bring Mitchell's killer to justice, the madness keeps on coming.

This story is laugh out loud funny, but still managed to keep me on the edge of my seat.  The characters are very well developed and very likable, with each one adding that special something to the story.

I enjoyed every single page of this book and I found that the pages seemed to turn themselves by the time I got to the end of the story.  Going into this book I had no idea what to expect, but I do know that I never thought I'd enjoy it as much as I did.

Who Killed The Mince Spy was the first Christmas book that I read this year and I'm glad that I chose this book to kick off my festive reading.  I truly adored every page from start to finish.  A book that doesn't take itself too seriously and will give you endless entertainment long after you've turned the last page. I can't recommend that you add this story to your Christmas reading list enough.

This short story by Matthew Redford follows his deliciously irreverent debut Addicted To Death (Clink Street Publishing, 2015).

Purchase from Amazon UK -

About Matthew Redford
Born in 1980, Matthew Redford grew up with his parents and elder brother on a council
estate in Bermondsey, south-east London. He now lives in Longfield, Kent, takes masochistic pleasure in watching his favourite football team snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, is a keen chess player and is planning future food related crime novels. To counterbalance the quirkiness of his crime fiction Redford is an accountant. His unconventional debut crime thriller, Addicted to Death: A Food Related Crime
Investigation was published by Clink Street Publishing last summer.
Website -
Twitter -

Monday, 21 November 2016

A Year and A Day by Isabelle Broome

I would like to thank the publishers for sending me an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

From the very first moment I opened this book, I just knew that there was going to be something special about it.  Every one of the characters were likeable and very well developed and written.  Each one added that little something special to the story, yet from very early on in the book, something about the story started to niggle at me, and I couldn't put my finger on what exactly it was.  I just knew deep down that something about the story wasn't right, the final piece of the puzzle just wasn't fitting in right, so I knew from early on the a big twist was going to make an appearance, I just didn't know what it was going to be.

The book starts with Megan getting ready to go on an educational trip to Prague with her friend Ollie, who is  teacher and is researching the city so he can teach his class about it once the new term begins.  Megan, a keen photographer accompanies him on his journey in order to take photos of the beautiful city in all it's glory for her upcoming exhibition. Having kissed Ollie once before and branding it the biggest mistake she's ever made in her life, Megan is keen to make this trip as normal as possible and to do so she has to tell Ollie that there will be no funny business whatsoever.

Meanwhile, newly engaged Sophie, is heading off to Prague a few days ahead of her beloved fiance Robin, who she met in Prague.  The two return to the city every year, with this year being no different.  But Sophie is counting down the days until Robin joins her and all is put right with the world again.

Lastly, we meet Hope, who is devastated her daughter has cut off all contact with her after catching Hope in a compromising position with a man who was definitely not her father.  Thrown out of her house and her sham of a marriage, Hope finds herself living in Charlie's tiny flat with nothing to do and no one to talk to.  In an attempt to cheer Hope up, Charlie takes her on the trip of a lifetime to Prague, where Charlie hopes he can draw Hope out of the darkness.

When all three of these women meet in Prague, they go on a journey together and lasting friendships are formed.  The chemistry between the three women was brilliantly written and seemed to ooze off of the page.  Each one of the characters was so lovingly written, it was obvious from the word go that Isabelle Broome poured her heart and soul into creating these characters and telling their story.

This is the first book that I have read by Isabelle Broome, so I had no idea what to expect, even though I had heard so many good things about My Map of You, I just haven't been able to get my hands on it yet, but after reading A Year and A Day I will be making sure that I own a copy as soon as possible.  

A Year and A Day is a captivating story that will make you fall in love with Prague in a heartbeat.  The story is based around the idea that if you touch a cross on one of Prague's bridges then that wish will come true in a year and a day.  I feel that this is such a lovely idea for a story and I was blown away by how talented a storyteller the author is.  

A Year and A Day is the one of the best, most spellbinding books that I have read all year and I can't get over how much it drew me in.  I fell for this book hook, line and sinker and I only hope that it gets the recognition that it so rightly deserves.  You won't read a better book this Christmas and A Year and A Day is sure to put you in a festive mood.

You can buy the book here.

Excerpt from What I Love About Dublin by Amanda Laneley

Today I am delighted to be hosting an excerpt from What I Love About Dublin by Amanda Laneley.


“Welcome to Dublin.”
The welcome came over the loudspeakers as soon as the plane landed, and Sara unfastened her seatbelt with impatient fingers. She breathed out, filled with a mixture of apprehension, weariness and sadness. Barely past her mid-twenties, she was going to step onto European soil for the first time. She was finally going to become acquainted with the ancient continent she had fantasized so much about in the novels she devoured. What she wanted most was to repair her broken heart after what had happened with Antonio, to start over again surrounded by the greenery of Ireland.
“Greenery?” she wondered, disillusioned, as soon as she had left the airport and caught a glimpse of the bleak surroundings. “More like grayness.” The sunset, weighed down by black clouds, frigid gusts of wind and an incessant rainfall that spread in all directions, wasn’t exactly the cordial welcome Sara had hoped for. But, truth be told, nothing about the past forty-eight hours had been cordial. She never imagined she would hurriedly leave Chile. She had only long enough to say good-bye to her parents, whose worried faces reflected their opinion, repeating a thousand times that her going off to Ireland was a huge mistake.
Sara replayed in her mind the whole argument with Antonio, and as she rolled her luggage toward the taxi stand, her eyes filled with tears. She felt so alone! And the worst part was that now she really was alone. She didn’t know anyone in Dublin, neither family nor friends. All she had was the hope of a new beginning and a piece of paper with an address written on it, which she clung to for dear life.
The arrival of an empty taxi made her swallow her tears. She held out the address to the taxi driver and, twenty minutes later, found herself in the front yard of a narrow red house with a pointed roof while the darkness surrounded her and rain mercilessly pelted her and her luggage. As fast as she could, she rolled the suitcase to the front door and rang the bell.
No answer. She rubbed her hands together and blew on them to heat them up. She rang a second time. Nothing. He teeth chattering, she peered through the stained glass windows of the front door. She couldn’t make out anyone, but a light was on, so someone must be there. Lord, at least she hoped there was; if not, she didn’t know where else to go.
She knocked and, after a minute that seemed like an eternity, the door finally opened.
 “Hello?” said a beautiful brunette of about her age, half greeting her and half inquiring.
 “Hola, I mean, hello. I’m Sara and. . .”
 “You speak my language,” the young woman interrupted, switching to Spanish with a Central American accent. “Are you looking for one of the boys, Sara? Because no one is here; they all went out.”
 “No, actually, I came about the room for rent. I reserved it a few days ago.”
The young woman shook her head in unequivocal negation.
 “That’s impossible; there must be some error. The ad clearly says we rent only to men. Better luck next time,” she said, starting to shut the door.
Sara’s stomach tied up in knots as she imagined herself looking for a place to stay somewhere else, in an unknown city, in the middle of the rain and darkness.
 “Stephen Brennan gave me the address!” said Sara hurriedly. “He told me to come here.”
The young woman opened the door again and studied her, frowning.
 “Stephen? He told you to come? Are you sure?”
 “Yes, he gave me the address. I came straight from the airport.”
The young woman looked at Sara’s luggage, which was collecting water, forming an enormous pool. When she saw that its owner didn’t seem to be in much better shape than the luggage, her expression softened.
 “Come in while we clear up this misunderstanding.” She opened the door and gestured to a spot near the entrance. “If you like, you can leave your things there. I’m Fran, by the way.”
 “Thanks, Fran.” Sara obeyed, taking off her coat. She suddenly sneezed several times.
 “You’re drenched. Would you like a cup of coffee?”
 “Yes, please.”
She followed Fran to a spacious wooden kitchen. She didn’t much care for coffee; still, she was willing to swallow anything that might raise her body temperature by a couple of degrees.
Her hostess put on water to boil.
 “How do you know Stephen, Sara?”
 “Actually, I don’t know him, at least not personally. I’m going to teach at the same university he does, Spanish classes, and he was my contact for arranging all the paperwork. He was very kind in recommending somewhere to live; he did not need to do it.”
 “Yes, he’s kind when he wants to be; at least when he can make the effort to listen. I’ve told him a thousand times that the room isn’t available to women. Sometimes what I tell him goes in one ear and right out the other. Men!”
 “Are you his girlfriend?” Sara guessed, from the annoyance and familiarity she heard in Fran’s voice.
 “Yes. Let me call him and see what we can do.” Fran dialed a number and started speaking in English. “Stephen, it’s me. Sara, the girl you gave this address to, is here. Yes, but I told you we would rent the room only to a man. What? But I told you a thousand times!. What? No, it has to be right now! At least speak to her! What do I care if you’re in a meeting? No, Stephen. . . don’t you dare hang up on m. . . Hello? Hello?”
Fran suddenly slammed the phone down on the table. Sara didn’t dare breathe; she didn’t know what to say.
 “Always the same thing!” complained Fran, exhaling a weary sigh. “I’m sorry, Sara, but you can’t stay here. I’d be very happy to rent you the room, but it isn’t up to me. It’s up to the boys.”
 “But maybe I could speak to them, somehow convince them,” said Sara, feeling her throat close up.
 “Don’t waste your time. You wouldn’t be the first one to try it and fail. I’m sorry, Sara, I wish I could help you, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to go someplace else.”
Sara agreed quietly, feeling her eyes fill with tears. “I understand,” she said in a hoarse voice. “It’s just that I don’t know where to go. I don’t know anyone in this city. Stephen was the only contact I had.”
 “You can go to a hotel,” suggested Fran, observing Sara sympathetically.
 “Yes, of course, that’s what I’ll do. . .” Her voice was about to break. “It’s just that, well, I didn’t feel like being alone today. . .” She remembered how alone she was. She thought of Antonio, of her uncertain future, and she couldn’t hold back a pair of silent tears. “Fran, excuse me, you barely know me and here I am crying in front of you. It’s just that the past two days have been the worst of my life, and all I want is a warm bed, a place to sleep and to forget about everything for a while.”


Amanda Laneley is passionate about writing and exploring the world. She has traveled through five continents, collecting anecdotes and stories that she turns into novels.
She loves the movies of Meg Ryan and the novels of Jane Austen. She adores learning and thinks that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do it. She loves to dance, laugh and share a beer with good friends.
She was a professor, entrepreneur and hypnotic therapist before devoting herself to writing. She started writing because, one night, a romantic story appeared in her dreams and wouldn’t let go of her. That story became her first novel. The curious thing is that as soon as she finished it, another story appeared and then another. Since then, she hasn’t stopped writing or dreaming.
Amanda loves to hear from her readers. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and her website.
Twitter: @amandalaneley

Kelly's Book Corner Template by Ipietoon Cute Blog Design and Bukit Gambang