Sunday, 23 July 2017

The Ludlow Ladies Society by Ann O'Loughlin blog tour



Books that inspired me
by
Ann O'Loughlin

I think there are books for different times of our lives. There are books that leave a profound mark on us that shape the way we think. I think we can all remember the first book which influenced us as a teenager. Maybe it was the first time we had to step out of our comfort zone and in to the big bad world.

Such a book for me was To Kill A Mocking Bird, by Harper Lee.
It was a hot summer and I was working at my first job as a shop assistant in the small west of Ireland town of Ennis, Co. Clare. I cycled three miles to work and back every day and at lunchtime sat in Curran’s tea room reading To Kill A Mocking Bird. I was transported from one small town to another, Maycombe, Alabama. I was astounded at the racism and prejudice displayed by the good citizens of Maycombe and so riveted I found it hard to close the book and return to my job behind the counter.

Right up there alongside Harper Lee was Jane Austen.
It was the same summer when I seemed to devour every book in my local library. I studied Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice later at school too, but even that experience did not take from the fact I adored it and particularly my first read in the sunshine. Like all great stories, it is a book you can return to more than once. It is what I have found myself doing over the years. In between my second novel The Judge's Wife and the third novel The Ludlow Ladies' Society I feasted on Pride and Prejudice.
What a novel! We all know Mrs Bennet is looking to marry her daughters off, but this is a novel of manners and it is the keen observations throughout that make it a joy to read. There is great detail here without it overpowering the story. When I read it for the first time I raced through following the plot. Now, I read it as an apprentice might study the work of a master craftsman or woman!
Pride and Prejudice will always have a place on my shelf.

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth.
My mother bought me A Suitable Boy for a significant birthday. She said I would never get through it, but even through it is a big fat book with about 1,300 pages, I ploughed on, loving the story and the life inside an Indian family. The story centres on widow Rupa Mehra wishing to find her headstrong daughter a good Hindu boy of the right caste to marry. But this is also the story of a family, a changing society and a changing India. When it came out there was a lot of talk that this book would not stand the test of time, but it has. Even now when I dip in to it, I can smell India.
I am sure too it was partly responsible for my decision later to live and work in India. It was such an accurate account, something I fully realised when I lived there and befriended an Indian family.
I love too that Vikram Seth set himself up in his family’s Delhi compound writing. I think any writer would love that constant state of inspiration!

Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres.
I just loved this book. I am not surprised that the Greek island of Cephalonia had an increase in tourism after its publication and the movie release. It is such a wonderful love story. Set in the early days of World War 2, a beautiful local woman whose fisherman boyfriend departs to fight with the Greek army falls in love with Captain Antonio Corelli in command of the Italian garrison occupying the Greek island. The movie did not do the book justice. I loved in particular the historical detail; this a book that made me laugh and cry.
On a more frivolous note, Louis de Bernieres was able to give up work and concentrate on his writing after publication. That would be a dream come true for any writer.

When I lived in India for a year I came across the writer Mulk Raj Anand.
His book Untouchable dates back to 1935 and is the story of a day in the life of Bakha, a proud young man, but an untouchable, an outcast in India’s caste system. A sweeper he has no chance of bettering his lot. An anger burns inside Bakha who has to put up with humiliations throughout the day. His untouchability means he can’t even fend off the so called higher castes. He looks to Mahatma Gandhi for hope for the future. This book is a way to understand the India of yesterday and today.


The Ludlow Ladies’ Society by Ann O’Loughlin is published 20th July by Black & White, price £12.99





Tuesday, 18 July 2017

5* review - Blood Sisters by Jane Corry



Kitty lives in a care home. She can't speak properly, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here. At least that's the story she's sticking to.
Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it - this is her chance to finally make things right.
But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that sunny morning in May.
And only another life will do...

Review:

Artist, Alison clearly has secrets in her past. Big ones.
She is struggling to make ends meet teaching art classes in a local authority college, so wonders if a job for an art teacher turning up on her staff noticeboard is serendipity. The only drawback is it's at a prison. The thought chills Alison to the core.

Kitty has brain damage and is in a home. She isn't sure exactly what happened to make her like this but is angry. Angry she can't talk, angry she can't remember and angry that she's not quite sure about some people and why she's scared of them. Why can't she remember?

Alison gets in deeper and deeper at the prison and starts receiving threatening messages. She does not know who she can trust and is put in a terrifying position where her life is in danger. 

Kitty's life changes irrevocably and she struggles even more to cope.

A secret is revealed that changes lives forever.

I loved Jane's previous novel, My Husband's Wife, but I loved Blood Sisters even more. Such a gripping story and so well written. The characters had me hooked from the start and I loved how the plot played out. The twists shocked me, I had certainly not guessed the way things were going!

A highly recommended read!



Many thanks the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.





Thursday, 15 June 2017

Lesley Pearse 25 in 25 Blog Tour

Global bestseller Lesley Pearse is celebrating the release of her 25th novel, The Woman in the Wood with a 25 in 25 blog tour, revealing a different fact ever every day about Lesley and each of her 25 bestsellers each day.
Do follow the tour with #LoveLesley

Georgia - 



  1. Georgia: The character of Max Menzies in Georgia is based on Don Arden, Sharon Osbourne’s late father.


Fifteen-year-old twins Maisy and Duncan Mitcham have always had each other. Until the fateful day in the wood . . .
One night in 1960, the twins awake to find their father pulling their screaming mother from the house. She is to be committed to an asylum. It is, so their father insists, for her own good.
It's not long before they, too, are removed from their London home and sent to Nightingales - a large house deep in the New Forest countryside - to be watched over by their cold-hearted grandmother, Mrs Mitcham. Though they feel abandoned and unloved, at least here they have something they never had before - freedom.
The twins are left to their own devices, to explore, find new friends and first romances. That is until the day that Duncan doesn't come back for dinner. Nor does he return the next day. Or the one after that.
When the bodies of other young boys are discovered in the surrounding area the police appear to give up hope of finding Duncan alive. With Mrs Mitcham showing little interest in her grandson's disappearance, it is up to Maisy to discover the truth. And she knows just where to start. The woman who lives alone in the wood about whom so many rumours abound. A woman named Grace Deville.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Blog tour: Review - Come Sundown by Nora Roberts



Love. Lies. Murder. A lot can happen... COME SUNDOWN Bodine Longbow loves to rise with the dawn. As the manager of her family’s resort in Western Montana, there just aren’t enough hours in the day – for life, for work, for loved ones. She certainly doesn’t have time for love, not even in the gorgeous shape of her childhood crush Callen Skinner, all grown up and returned to the ranch. Then again, maybe Callen can change her mind, given time... But when a young woman’s body is discovered on resort land, everything changes. Callen falls under the suspicion of a deputy sheriff with a grudge. And for Bodine’s family, the murder is a shocking reminder of an old loss. Twenty-five years ago, Bodine’s Aunt Alice vanished, never to be heard of again. Could this new tragedy be connected to Alice’s mysterious disappearance? As events take a dramatic and deadly turn, Bodine and Callen must race to uncover the truth – before the sun sets on their future together.

REVIEW: 

Alice Bodine is heading home a little shamefacedly after leaving dramatically, perhaps, she wondered for a bit of attention as her sister is getting married.
She never makes it home after a sinister man picks her up on the roadside.

Her family run the Bodine ranch in Montana, popular and traditional, and the Bodine/Longbow family are pillars of the community.

Bodine Longbow herself, young and strong, runs the resort and is revered by staff and family alike, especially Callen, childhood crush. 

As events run we see into the family and into Alice's hell and watch how strength and family are a force to be reckoned with.

I am a huge fan of Nora Roberts and thoroughly loved this offering. It is wonderful and addictive escapism and a real page turner.
Although I found it slightly slower to get into, once I did I was hooked. 

A fabulous, well thought out plot and strong characters who you root for from the start.

A massive 5* from me and as always, I eagerly await Nora's next book!



Nora Roberts is the number one New York Times bestseller of more than 200 novels. With over 500 million copies of her books in print, she is indisputably one of the most celebrated and popular writers in the world. She is a Sunday Times hardback bestseller writing as both Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb



Monday, 29 May 2017

5* review: The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda Macdonald


Genre: Adult contemporary fiction; Domestic Noir
Release Date: 28th May 2017
Publisher: Matador – An imprint of Troubador Publishing
BUY LINKS

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket follows the story of two women who are each struggling to let go of a long-term destructive partnership. Felicity is reluctant to detach from her estranged archaeologist husband and, after being banished from the family home, she sets out to test the stability of his relationship with his new love, Marianne.

When Felicity meets Coll, a charismatic artist, she has high hopes of being distracted from her failed marriage. What she doesn’t know is that he has a partner, Sarah, with whom he has planned a future. Sarah is deeply in love with Coll, but his controlling behaviour and associations with other women have always made her life difficult. When he becomes obsessed with Felicity, Sarah’s world collapses and a series of events is set in motion that will challenge the integrity of all the characters involved.

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is a thought-provoking book, written from the perspectives of Sarah and Felicity. The reader is in the privileged position of knowing what’s going on for both of the women, while each of them is being kept in the dark about a very important issue.

Inspired by the work of Margaret Atwood and Fay Weldon, Linda explores the issue of mental abuse in partnerships and the grey area of an infidelity that is emotional, not physical. The book will appeal to readers interested in the psychology of relationships, as well as fans of Linda’s ‘Lydia’ series.

Review:


I am a huge fan of Linda Macdonald's 'Lydia' series, they are a thought provoking 'grown up' womens fiction series (none of the fluff!). I find them a page turning relaxing read. The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is no less than its predecessors, I loved the introduction of the new characters, Sarah and Coll, and enjoyed reading about the lives of the usual lives of the Harvey family.

This book is told from Sarah and Felicity's points of view. In the past I have shared no love for Felicity, and in this book I find I liked her even less until near to the end when I really softened to her character and saw her vulnerable side.

Sarah I felt extremely sorry for, yet frustrated with for constantly excusing what I felt was deplorable love-rat behaviours from Coll, the man who had been her long term love for ten years, yet had many OWs (other women) who Sarah knew existed but felt she could do little about. 

Coll, an artist and on many levels a really interesting character (and loose man in my opinion) turned up in Felicity's life when hawking his paintings to hang in her recently opened restaurant. He felt an attraction to her which turned into something close to obsession/addiction, though he was no stalker. Felicity, after being hurt deeply by younger man, Gianni, in Italy was interested by his advances, yet knew nothing of the woman who loved him and strived constantly to make him love her in return.

I was quite satisfied by the ending, yet was - as always - disappointed to have reached the conclusion and I feel so absorbed in the story!

I would urge readers to consider these books, all could be read as standalones but I feel it would be more enjoyable to know the backstory.

Many thanks to Linda and Brook Cottage Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.



ABOUT LINDA MACDONALD

Linda MacDonald is the author of three independently published novels: Meeting Lydia and the stand-alone sequels, A Meeting of a Different Kind and The Alone Alternative. They are all contemporary adult fiction, multi-themed, but with a focus on relationship issues.

After studying psychology at Goldsmiths', Linda trained as a secondary science and biology teacher. She taught these subjects for several years before moving to a sixth-form college to teach psychology. In 2012, she gave up teaching to focus fully on writing.
Linda was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria and now lives in Beckenham, Kent.
Twitter: @LindaMac1


5* review - Then, Now, Always by Isabelle Broom



Twenty-eight year old Hannah is ready for an adventure. She and her colleagues are in Spain for a month to film a documentary, and it's a dream come true. Not least because Hannah will get to spend long summer days with Theo, her boss (and gorgeous crush). It couldn't be a more perfect setting to fall in love...
If only Tom (Hannah's best friend and cameramen) and Claudette (the presenter) would stop getting in the way...
Then things become even more complicated when Nancy, Hannah's half-sister arrives. What on earth is she doing here?
For just once in her life, can't Hannah have one perfect summer, free of any drama?


I have to start by saying how much I adore Isabelle Broom. She should work for the tourism industry as she sprinkles a beautiful magic over the destinations she writes about and leaves the reader (at the very least just me) with an overwhelming sense of wanderlust and desire to experience the locations.

Hannah has a special place in her heart for the town of Mojacar in southern Spain, she holidayed there as a teenager and holds it dearly as her coming of age, a holiday spent without her parents accompanying her best friend's family. She has a small tattoo of the Indalo man, a symbol adopted by the community of Mojacar to represent love and hope, which she treasures, so when the 'love of her life', crush and boss, Theo asks her to research somewhere to do a travel documentary on, she instantly knows the place.

While on their film-making-working-holiday, she wants to make Theo fall in love with her, difficult when she has little experience with relationships and it seems that Theo has plenty - but still she tries.
Until half sister Nancy, who she despises, turns up and seemingly ruins everything.

Hannah learns as much during her adult stay in Mojacar as she did as a teenager, and once again there is a shift in her life, one that teaches her what is important to her and where her future should lie.

I loved the characters in this story, I initially loved to hate Nancy, until we learned her true story, but my favourite had to be Elaine - a local woman who relocated in her own teens due to an incredibly traumatic experience in her life. I loved how the story ended for her, with all ends tied up beautifully.

This is a glorious, beautiful and heart felt read - with many laugh out loud moments, but all in all just a well written book that will take you deep into the heart of Almeria and leave you yearning for more.

A hugely well deserved five stars. 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Blog tour: The Butlins Girls by Elaine Everest



'Molly Missons gazed around in awe. So this was Butlin's. Whitewashed buildings, bordered by rhododendrons, gave a cheerful feeling to a world still recovering from six years of war. The Skegness holiday camp covered a vast area, much larger than Molly expected to see.'
Molly Missons hasn't had the best of times recently. Having lost her parents, now some dubious long-lost family have darkened her door - attempting to steal her home and livelihood...
After a horrendous ordeal, Molly applies for a job as a Butlin's Aunty. When she receives news that she has got the job, she immediately leaves her small home town - in search of a new life in Skegness.
Molly finds true friendship in Freda, Bunty and Plum. But the biggest shock is discovering that star of the silver screen, Johnny Johnson, is working at Butlin's as head of the entertainment team. Johnny takes an instant liking to Molly and she begins to shed the shackles of her recent traumas. Will Johnny be just the distraction Molly needs - or is he too good be to be true?



I was pleased to receive this new book from Elaine Everest as I thoroughly enjoyed The Woolworths Girls, and just looking at this cover I knew I would not be disappointed.

Molly Missons, a gentle young girl recovering from parents tragic death receives devastating and confusing news that she had been cut out of her parents will, to lose her home and livelihood to relatives she knew nothing about, cousin Harriet and her deplorable son, Simon. 
With help from good friends she is able to escape this and move to Skegness, to Butlins holiday camp, working as a Butlins auntie.

Here she forms a friendship with Bunty and Plum, who have their own heartbreaks and issues to overcome, and whose stories blend beautifully to enrich the plot. She also meets her screen idol and crush, Johnny Johnson, will he be the cure she needs to mend her fragile heart?

The Butlins Girls really is a warm, gentle, nostalgic tale with a feel good vibe, It sums life in a post war holiday camp up beautifully, it is written true to it's era and is a satisfying read. I'm certain fans of 1940's fiction will adore it.


Many thanks to Bethan at ED PR for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review