Review: The 12 Christmases of You & Me by Jennifer Joyce

The 12 Christmases of You & Me

 

About the book, The 12 Christmases of You & Me

The_12_Christmases_of_You_&_Me_Jennifer_Joyce_pngWhat if you could go back in time and fix the biggest mistake of your life?

Two years ago, Maisie’s best friend walked out of her life and she hasn’t heard from him since. When she wakes up in 1994, she naturally assumes she’s dreaming. But when she finds herself in the past again the next night and her actions in the dream alter her present-day life, she begins to wonder if she’s somehow hopping back in time. And if she is time-travelling, can she save her friendship with Jonas?

When Maisie is forced to relive Christmases of the past, will she face up to her mistakes, or make them all over again?

The 12 Christmases of You & Me is a magical tale of friendship, first loves, and learning to live in the present.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Jennifer Joyce

Jennifer JoyceJennifer Joyce is a writer of romantic comedies who lives in Manchester with her husband and their two daughters. She’s been scribbling down bits of stories for as long as she can remember, graduating from a pen to a typewriter and then an electronic typewriter. And she felt like the bee’s knees typing on THAT. She now writes her books on a laptop (which has a proper delete button and everything).

Connect with Jennifer:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellJennifer Joyce’s novel The 12 Christmases of You & Me came to me on a rainy day in autumn, which seems appropriate, since it opens on a rainy day in November, with the main character complaining that it’s too soon for a Christmas Countdown since Halloween and Bonfire Night have only just passed. As someone who revels in Halloween, I appreciated this sentiment more than is probably healthy, and felt an instant connection with Maisie.

And how could I not? In her lead character, Joyce has given us a funny, candid woman who is also a single mom feeling a bit adrift from her teenaged daughter, something all mothers and daughters experience at some point. She’s also a therapist, good at helping her clients find truth and equilibrium when she’s a bit out of balance herself.

The time travel dreams, allowing Maisie to relive her youth with her friends Lily and Jonas, are an interesting convention in a Christmas novel. It’s almost as if Joyce said “What if the Ghost of Christmas Past was YOU?” While some of Maisie’s dream-alterations do seem to flow into her waking life, she seems to instinctively know that there are fixed points (to borrow a concept from Doctor Who) that cannot be changed.

Ultimately her dream journey is one of self-discovery, and watching her unfold each memory is delightful, and evocative of the wistfulness we all feel when gazing at photo albums, whether they are digital or analog.

The supporting characters in this story were all as vivid as Maisie. Lily, her best friend, was the perfect slightly nervous bride, and I liked the way Joyce wrote her as almost a non-biological sister to Maisie. Similarly Aaron and Jonas were dimensional from their first introductions, and if the latter at first made me think of Ricky from My So-Called Life , I hope I can be forgiven, because with the exception of a teenaged fondness for eye-liner, the two are nothing alike.

Maisie’s Mum  and Dad (Fran and Mick) and her daughter Annabelle also felt supremely real, and in the latter, particularly, Joyce managed to capture the mix of sullen young woman and sweet child that so many teenagers can be. (I know I was, and I’ve apologized to my own mother more than once.)

While the title of this novel might imply a story full of fluff, this is absolutely not the case. The Christmas setting is neither sugary or saccharine, but serves as a perfect time of reflection with a hint of magic, and every character takes a journey that leads them down their proper path.

Goes well with a sandwich of leftover holiday turkey with cranberry sauce and cream cheese. (Trust me, it’s delicious.)


The 12 Christmases of You & Me Full Tour Bannner

 

Review: Low Water Crossing, by Dana Glossbrenner

BNR Low Water Crossing

About the book, Low Water Crossing

  • Genre: Literary Fiction / Family Saga
  • Series: Sulfur Gap, book two
  • Independently published
  • Date of Publication: July 19, 2020
  • Number of Pages: 476
  • Scroll down for the giveaway!

Low Water CrossingLow Water Crossing is a tribute to those who endure heartache and nevertheless celebrate, to those who wait—and live full lives while waiting.

A backhoe unearths a human skeleton buried on Wayne Cheadham’s West Texas ranch. The investigation points a grisly finger at Wayne’s first wife. And so begins the wild ride through twenty-five years of love and heartbreak.

Wayne’s a highly eligible bachelor who runs into trouble, first because he’s naïve, and next because, well, life is unpredictable. He’s a loveable guy with a peaceful outlook. Just about anyone wants the best for him, dang it. To cope with sadness, he arranges for an old steel-girded bridge to be placed in the dry pasture in front of his house. Says it helps him adjust his perspective. Others say it’s the world’s largest yard ornament. He takes in stray emus and abandoned horses and becomes a mentor to a loveable little boy without much family. He sits and ponders his plight at a low-water crossing over the creek.

A cast of characters from the fictional small West Texas town of Sulfur Gap—the staff of a high school burger shop hangout on the Interstate, coffee groups at the Navaho Café, hair stylists from the Wild Hare, a local sheriff and his deputies, and the band at the local honky-tonk—knits together the community surrounding Wayne, and all bring their own quirks. People you’d find anywhere, some with thicker Texas twangs than others.

The town, the ranch, and familiar Texas cities such as San Angelo, Abilene, and Austin provide a backdrop for universal themes of love, grief, and loyalty.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Dana Glossbrenner

Dana GlossbrennerDana Glossbrenner has lived in West Texas all her life. She is the author of Women Behind Stained Glass: West Texas Pioneers (non-fiction) and The Lark: Book 1 of the Sulfur Gap Series.

Connect with Dana:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

While I have not read the first book in Dana Glossbrenner’s Sulfer Gap series, I had no problem jumping into the power and the poignance of Low Water Crossing.

Opening with a first-person narration by Wayne Cheadham, the pivot point around which this whole novel revolves, this story is told in sections, which are then subdivided into chapters, each one depicting a significant moment in that character’s life. Wayne is in every “book” but the three pov characters, Lucy, Cynthia, and Lou, are the three women in his life, their stories told sequentially, chronologically, beginning soon before he entered their spheres.

It’s a structure that means we are a bit distanced from Wayne as we only hear his thoughts during interludes, but it’s also a structure that shows us his character through the eyes of these women. Lucy, his first love, who is just seventeen to his twenty when they meet and marry, is also mentioned throughout the novel, and in many ways it is her story that sets the pace and tone for the others. Cynthia comes next, and it’s through her eyes that we see Wayne come into his own as a man, and as a father. And finally there is Lou, who brings joy back into his life.

But that description makes it seem like this book is a romance, and while there are romantic entanglements, it’s really a broader story, a profoundly human story of love and loss, personal trauma and personal growth, making peace with time and circumstance, and making choices about what one wants vs. what one needs, and finding a balance between the two.

Author Dana Glossbrenner is deft with dialogue and rather sparing with description, giving us just enough detail to let our imaginations fill in the blanks. Her writing has a lyrical quality – simple language about complicated people – that makes you feel the wind in your hair even as you’re wanting to reach out and (alternately) give a character a good shaking or a comforting pat on the back.

Two images in this novel that I found quite profound are the bridge that Wayne had set on his property, so he could go and sit or stand on it and find new perspective, and the low water crossing of the title, which doesn’t refer to low water, but a low place where you might encounter water you must cross. It’s the latter I felt was especially metaphoric, as we have all come to low places in our lives where the only way out was through, but it felt like rushing water was making the journey more difficult.

Over all, this was a satisfying read, one I found myself truly immersed in, and while it isn’t entirely happy, it is both hopeful and full of the kinds of organic humorous moments that come from life.

Goes well with steak salad and iced tea.


Giveaway

TWO WINNERS: 1st winner gets signed copies of both books in the Sulfur Gap Series; 2nd winner gets a signed copy of Low Water Crossing.

 October 6-16 , 2020

(U.S. Only)

Giveaway Low Water Crossing

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10/6/20 Review Reading by Moonlight
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10/10/20 Deleted Scene All the Ups and Downs
10/11/20 Author Interview The Page Unbound
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Cover Reveal: One Kiss Before Christmas by Emma Jackson

One Kiss Before Christmas - Cover Reveal

 

About the Book, One Kiss Before Christmas

One Kiss Before Christmas (Available November 2nd)

A gorgeously romantic festive read from the author of A Mistletoe Miracle, guaranteed to warm your heart this Christmas!


Could it be the start of her happy ever after?

Ashleigh could use a little Christmas magic. She’s still living in Brighton with her Nan — who could give the Grinch lessons in how to be miserable — her acting career has been reduced to playing one of Santa’s elves, and not even the prospect of a friend’s winter wedding can cheer her up…

That is until Olivier, the gorgeous French chef, reappears in her life. Or more accurately, next door.

When they were teenagers, Olivier would spend every other Christmas with his mother, who just happens to be Ash’s neighbour and owner of the best chocolate shop in England.

If anyone can bring a little sparkle back to Ash’s life, it’s Olivier. All she needs is one kiss before Christmas…

Feel-good and festive, this is the perfect romance to curl up with this winter!

Pre-order this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)


About the Author, Emma Jackson

Emma JacksonAuthor of the Best Selling A MISTLETOE MIRACLE and contender for the Joan Hessayon Award 2020, Emma has been a devoted bookworm and secret-story-scribbler since she was 6 years old. When she’s running around after her two daughters and trying to complete her current work-in-progress, Emma loves to read, bake, catch up on binge-watching TV programmes with her partner and plan lots of craft projects that will inevitably end up unfinished. Her latest romantic comedy, SUMMER IN THE CITY, was released in June 2020.

Emma also writes historical and fantasy fiction as Emma S Jackson. THE DEVIL’S BRIDE was published by DarkStroke in February 2020.

Connect with Emma:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


And here’s the cover…

One Kiss Before Christmas_Cover

 

Review: The Ancestor, by Lee Matthew Goldberg

About the Book, The Ancestor

The Ancestor• Paperback: 348 pages
• Publisher: All Due Respect (August 20, 2020)

A man wakes up in present-day Alaskan wilderness with no idea who he is, nothing on him save an empty journal with the date 1898 and a mirror. He sees another man hunting nearby, astounded that they look exactly alike except for his own beard. After following this other man home, he witnesses a wife and child that brings forth a rush of memories of his own wife and child, except he’s certain they do not exist in modern times—but from his life in the late 1800s.

After recalling his name is Wyatt, he worms his way into his doppelganger Travis Barlow’s life. Memories become unearthed the more time he spends, making him believe that he’d been frozen after coming to Alaska during the Gold Rush and that Travis is his great-great grandson. Wyatt is certain gold still exists in the area and finding it with Travis will ingratiate himself to the family, especially with Travis’s wife Callie, once Wyatt falls in love. This turns into a dangerous obsession affecting the Barlows and everyone in their small town, since Wyatt can’t be tamed until he also discovers the meaning of why he was able to be preserved on ice for over a century.

A meditation on love lost and unfulfilled dreams, The Ancestor is a thrilling page-turner in present day Alaska and a historical adventure about the perilous Gold Rush expeditions where prospectors left behind their lives for the promise of hope and a better future.

The question remains whether it was all worth the sacrifice…

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Down & Out Books | Goodreads


About the author, Lee Matthew Goldberg

Lee Matthew GoldbergLee Matthew Goldberg is the author of THE DESIRE CARD, SLOW DOWN and THE MENTOR from St. Martin’s Press. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The second novel in The Desire Card series, PREY NO MORE, is forthcoming. THE ANCESTOR will be out from All Due Respect books in 2020 along with a reissue of his debut novel. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, Essays & Fictions, The New Plains Review, and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series(guerrillalit.wordpress.com). He lives in New York City.

Connect with Lee:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellThe Ancestor is one of those novels that isn’t easily categorized. It’s sort of a fantasy, in that one of the main characters is introduced to us when he wakes up after being frozen into the Alaskan ice for the better part of a century, but it turns into a thriller/suspense novel once he encounters Travis Barlow and decides they must be related, and that Barlow’s family is the key to his own identity and purpose. More than any of these, though, the language and imagery in this novel elevate it to literary fiction.

Lee Matthew Goldberg grabbed me by the scruff of my neck from the very first chapter, when Wyatt, cold, hungry, confused, still manages to kill, skin, and eat a wolf with little more than his bare hands and sheer determination. This, however, is just one of many visceral scenes that really make it seem as though we readers have stepped into the Alaskan wilderness (without appropriate gear) and must survive.

The juxtaposition of Wyatt’s needy desperation with Travis’s cozy (but realistically imperfect) family life, really kept me hooked, and the interconnected relationships of the Barlows, Wyatt, Travis friend Gray, and the rest of the population of the funky frontier town (well, it FEELS like a frontier town) grounded the story with the sense of place and time that the main character lacked.

Goldberg excels at descriptions, of people and places, and at times I had to check my city-girl squeamishness. At the same time, his depiction of gold rush culture took me back to my childhood in the mountains of Colorado, where panning for gold has become a tourist attraction near more than one Rocky Mountain creek.

Overall, I found this both fascinating and compelling. Perhaps because I read it very quickly, I felt like I experienced a lot of the action with the characters, but I recommend The Ancestor to anyone who likes their adventure tales married to searches for identity, and no small amount of soul.

Goes well with: a stew made of game meat – venison or caribou – and a strong red table wine.


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Review: The War Beneath, by S. R. Hughes

The-War-Beneath-coverAbout the book, The War Beneath

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: Permuted Press (October 1, 2019)

“There is a war going on behind things, beneath them.”

Paul had been a forensic psychologist. But after his daughter’s funeral, he hit the rock bottom of a spiraling addiction. When the spirits of the dead started rasping their wishes in his ears, he fled New York for withering Oceanrest—a flat-broke city barnacled to Maine’s coast. There, he’s spent the last five years scraping by, trying to shake off the burdens of his past, pretending to be a man without context, without history, without the secret ability to speak with the dead. But soon, all of that will be taken away from him.

Deirdre’s spent the past fourteen years as a resident of Squatter City—the most distal and dilapidated of Oceanrest’s gangrenous appendages. Growing and harvesting a hydroponic farm of mystic flora and esoteric plantlife, she’s built a business as a drug dealer and apothecary. After years of relative peace, Deirdre’s life finally seems tenable. But when one of her regular clients double-crosses her, what little serenity she’s discovered quickly unravels.

Deirdre and Paul soon find themselves under attack from criminals and cultists, on the run from Quebecois mobsters, Aryan Nationalists, and a group of young men who seem dedicated to a cause of brutality and destruction on an apocalyptic scale.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Goodreads


S.R.-Hughes-APAbout the author, S.R. Hughes

S. R. Hughes inhabits the glittering darknesses between dreams but writes from Queens, NY. He’s been published in Sanitarium, the Wild Hunt eZine, and has had stories featured on several podcasts.

Connect with S.R.

Find out more about him at his website, and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


MissMeliss2020My Thoughts

S.R. Hughes’s novel The War Beneath is an excellent choice for anyone who likes paranormal thrillers, but it’s an equally good read for those who don’t require a paranormal element but like their lead characters a bit down at the heels.

In this novel, Hughes weaves the paranormal (protagonist Paul talks to ghosts) into the story quite organically, and the fact that the forensic psychologist doesn’t particularly want his ability adds depth to the entire story. Personally, I like it when authors give us reluctant heroes, and tarnished heroines. In Deirdre, we get the latter, and the fact that isn’t perfect – that neither of them are – is what makes the supernatural factor feel more plausible.

Two things I really appreciated about this book were Hughes’s ear for dialogue, and his descriptions. From the first page I could see Oceanrest, and from the first lines any character spoke, I knew exactly who they were.

The War Beneath is the kind of novel that sucks you in and doesn’t let go until you’ve finished the last page. I read it in a single night, because it was that compelling. Despite it being a quick read, though, it’s not light. Both Paul and Deirdre have to examine the truths of their own lives while they’re dealing with the external events of the story, and that examination is what makes this novel relatable and fascinating.

The War Beneath should be on the top of the TBR pile for fans of paranormal thrillers and “straight” thrillers alike.

Goes well with: cold beer and Maine lobster rolls.


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Review: Coffee Traveller, by Fahad Ben G

Coffeetravellerbnr

About the book, Coffee Traveller

 

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Clink Street Publishing (October 29, 2019)
  • Language: English

Coffee TravellerCoffee Traveller: A collection of musings about travel, life, love, family, relationships, the future and growing up in Saudi Arabia, by the author and poet Fahad Ben G.

Young Saudi Arabian author and poet publishes a collection for Saudi men and women exploring love, memory, break up stages, pain, grief and the human need to express feelings through social media.

When Fahad made the decision to share some of his writing on social media, he was overwhelmed by supportive messages; his gender-neutral writings, borderless stories and poems connected instantly with readers. By sharing his thoughts and unresolved emotions on lost love, the pain of break ups, nostalgia for childhood, and the profound desire to make connections, he saw that he was not alone, and that his work could inspire and comfort other people.

Coffee Traveller brings together a collection of Fahad’s stream of consciousness-style prose and verse, creating vivid images of the past, rich snapshots of home and friendship, tender portraits of love, loss and suffering. Fahad uses journalling prolifically; as a way of recording and memorialising the past, charting feelings, emotions, fears and self-doubt in much the same way an explorer would describe new continents and oceans. Fahad’s travels are internal, spiritual, encompassing the mundane and the profound, looking for connection points and shared experiences.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Fahad Ben G

Fahad Ben. G was born and raised in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He has a Masters in Linguistics from Imam Mohammed Bin Saud University in Riyadh. He is certified in protocol & etiquette. He studied acting and received his Diploma in acting from Giles Formen Center, London. Having lived in France and Japan, he settled in London in 2017.

Connect with Fahad:

Instagram


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellIn talking about his writing, the author of this lovely collection of poems and thoughts – musings – says, “I write about you not to make you come back; I just need to get rid of the things that used to upset me and I couldn’t tell you about back then.”

Obviously, he isn’t talking about we readers, and yet many of the pieces in this collection – indeed, most of them – express universal thoughts and ideas with delicate, compact phrasing, and word choices that are completely the author’s own. Many of these small texts do, indeed, feel directed at us.

Because this is a book of, essentially, poetry, it’s not the kind of thing you pick up and read straight through. You could do that, but I found it was better experienced in small doses, stretching out the experience over days and weeks. I left it on my coffee table and whenever I had a free moment, I’d pick it up and read a few more pieces, letting them digest.

Fahad’s writing is gender-neutral. He pays little attention to paragraph structure. Many of these read almost like Zen koans. And yet, all of them touch you, connecting to the inherent humanity in all of us.

Coffee Traveller is a delightful surprise, a breath of warm air scented with coffee and spices, and a welcome addition to any collection.

Goes well with espresso and those sesame honey sticks they sell at health food stores.

 

Coffeetravellerbnr

Hanukkah at the Great Greenwich Ice Creamery by Sharon Ibbotson

About the book, Hanukkah at the Great Greenwich Ice Creamery

  • Print Length: 210 pages
  • Publisher: Choc Lit (December 4, 2019)

Hanukkah days, Christmas nights and strawberry ice cream … 

Cohen Ford is a man who could do with a little bit of sweetening up. It’s no surprise that when he walks into The Great Greenwich Ice Creamery on a typically gloomy London day before Christmas, he insists on a black coffee rather than his childhood favourite – strawberry ice cream.

But then he meets River de Luca, the woman behind the flavours. After their first encounter, Cohen begins visiting the ice creamery every Tuesday, gradually learning more about the intriguing River. Could her influence encourage cynical Cohen to become the man who embraces Christmas, Hanukkah and even strawberry ice cream?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Sharon Ibbotson

Author Bio – Sharon was born in Sydney, Australia but now lives in London with her husband, two small children and two black cats named for desserts. She started writing ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ fanfiction aged 15, which eventually transformed into the historical romance novels she writes today. She has two novels published by Choc Lit, and when not writing, can be found baking cakes badly or drinking wine well.

Connect with Sharon:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellThere are books that fall into your life with little fanfare and end up being absolute treasures. For me, this December, one of those books is Sharon Ibbotson’s Hanukkah at the Great Greenwich Ice Creamery, which is a romance told in food and shared stories.

It’s the structure of the novel that struck me first. Each chapter is headed by a word – usually a food item, but not always – and then the chapter builds to include that word. Sometimes that inclusion is offhand, other times it’s extremely important – in “Apple” for example, our romantic lead, Cohen Ford, learns the BSL sign for “apple,” from his love interest, Rachel, a deaf woman who was adopted as a young girl by his mother’s close friend. The keywords are important, but the chapters feel so organic that everything flows perfectly.

Then there’s the ice cream – the different flavors serve to punctuate the emotions of each character… another bit of craft that I admire Ibbotson for doing so, so well.

Of course, this novel isn’t just a romance. It’s a piece about mothers and sons, mothers and daughters, and fathers and sons, those early relationships that color all our lives, and influence our choices long into our adulthoods.

While I began the novel not really liking Cohen Ford, I grew to appreciate him. His growth in this novel is exponential, and mostly self-directed. River may be his muse (of a sort), but he did the hard work, the internal work, himself, turning into a character I would love to follow into a future novel.

I also appreciated the way the author incorporated the use of sign into the piece. Any kind of foreign language or dialect can be tricky to depict, but Ibbotson did a fabulous job of incorporating descriptions of British Sign Language (some of which confused me, because it’s SO different from American Sign Language, which I’m not fluent in, but recognize and get the gist of).

While Cohen is the main character (and kudos to the author for writing a romance from the male POV), River, her mother Rushi, and Cohen’s mother Esther are all equally dynamic. Having spent a chunk of my life with a Jewish (step)grandmother, I found Esther’s cadences so familiar. She isn’t a stereotype by any means, but she’s very much a Jewish mother, despite her career and remarriage being less-than-typical.

I also liked the character of Billy a lot… this hearing father of a deaf son is the kind of parent every kid should have, and he acted as a sort of interpreter for Cohen and River, not only literally, but also translating their emotions. Everyone needs a family friend like Billy.

The pacing of this book was just right, neither super-fast nor mind-numbingly slow, and at times, when one of the characters was relating a memory, the language was almost lyrical.

And then there’s the delight of a novel that mixes Hanukkah and Christmas themes into a single story without it becoming us vs. them.

This is a much deeper novel than the back cover blurb implies, and I recommend it to everyone looking for a holiday read.

Goes well with: strawberry ice cream or melon gelato. You choose.

 

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Review: A Friend in Deed, by G.D. Harper – with Giveaway for UK Residents

A Friend In Deed

About the Book, A Friend in Deed

 

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Troubador Publishing (October 18, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • Scroll Down for Giveaway

A Friend In Deed CoverBritain: a few years from now. A new populist political party has won the recent general election.

Duncan Jones, freelance political journalist and blogger, loses his weekly column at a national newspaper and turns to investigative reporting. The chance remark of a friend leads him to suspect that the Russians are directing the new British government’s policies and decisions. As he visits Moscow and Ukraine to discover more, scandal follows intrigue, dark forces attempt to silence him by whatever means possible and he turns to an unlikely ally for help.

A Friend in Deed is a fast-paced psychological thriller set in an all-too-believable near future. It is also the story of how one man confronts the traumas in his past and works out how to resolve them.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the Author, G.D. Harper

I was placed third in the 2015 Lightship Prize for first-time authors, won a 2016 Wishing Shelf Award Red Ribbon, been shortlisted at the UK Festival of Writing for Best First Chapter, longlisted in the 2017 UK Novel Writing Competition.

In 2017, I was one of twelve authors selected for Authors in the Spotlight at the Bloody Scotland book festival in Stirling, showcasing who they considered to be the best emerging talent in crime fiction, and was the only self-published author to be chosen. I have spoken at numerous other book events, including Blackwells’ Writers at the Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; a stand-alone slot at the Byres Road Book Festival in Glasgow, and the Aye Write! Book Festival, also in Glasgow.

I worked in Russia and Ukraine for ten years, which gave me the ideas for the plot and setting that I used in A Friend in Deed.

Connect with G.D.

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

melysse2019.jpgx100A Friend in Deed is set “a few years from now” but it’s eerily close to what we see happening in both the U.S. and the U.K. with the shifts in politics and the way the media is being manipulated.

In this novel, Duncan Jones, aka political blogger Richard Foxe, and novelist Mark Jackson is a middle-aged journalist finding himself a victim of the fading of print media when two things happen at once: his paper downsizes him, basically requiring that every story be a “scoop,” and he meets Tanya, a younger-than-he-is (but not scandalously young) woman from Ukraine.

From this simple setup comes a novel that grips you and doesn’t let go. Duncan is the perfect everyman. He isn’t a hero, he just wants the truth, even if that truth comes with a risk. And risk there is. Part spy novel, replete with an introverted tech genius, and part psychological thriller – are the connections Duncan is making too good to be true? Does his past really inform his present and future? – we follow Mr. Jones down the darkened paths of London, Moscow, and the internet in his attempt to write the perfect political expose and also conquer his inner demons.

I loved the pop culture elements that author Harper included in this novel, from the opening, with Jones staring (and being stared at) by a portrait of Peter Capaldi, to the references to Tanya eventually (maybe) appearing on Strictly Come Dancing. I liked that Jones experienced real fear and trepidation about involving his friends in his… adventures… and I really appreciated the use of the character Nigel to explain the ins and outs of contemporary (ish) hacking and internet security.

One nuance I really appreciated is that Harper writes really good friendships between men and women. Sure, there’s some flirting, but it’s meant in fun. It’s clear that Harper respects his characters and his readers, but that particular bit of craft really mattered to me.

Overall, this is a compelling story that is both an entertaining read and a warning to all of us to be informed citizens of our respective nations.

Goes well with: fish and chips and a microbrew beer.


Giveaway

Giveaway to Win all 3 paperbacks of GD Harper’s Psychological Fiction Trilogy (Open UK Only)

  • Prize features all three books, Love’s Long Road, Silent Money and A Friend in Deed

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

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Review: Comfort Songs, by Kimberly Fish – with Giveaway

Comfort Songs Blog Tour

About the book, Comfort Songs

  • Genre: Contemporary Romance / Women’s Fiction
  • Publisher: Fish Tales, LLC
  • Date of Publication: September 19, 2019
  • Number of Pages: 348
  • Scroll down for giveaway!

Comfort Songs by Kimberly FishAward-winning author of Comfort Plans, Kimberly Fish, delivers a novel about family, forgiveness, and the seeds of second chances.

Eight years ago, Autumn Joy Worthington, still reeling from the bitter divorce of her Grammy-Award-winning parents, endured the betrayal of a man who’d promised her a wedding. Running from pain seemed the logical response. Reinventing herself in Comfort, Texas, as a lavender grower, she creates a wildly successful gardening haven that draws in tourists and establishes an identity far removed from her parents’ fame. Her mother’s retirement from stardom inspires AJ to offer her refuge and nurse the dream that they could move past old hurts and the tarnish of the music industry … to find friendship. A grandmother in the early stages of dementia and the return of AJ’s father complicate the recovery, but nothing sets the fragile reality spinning like the arrival of Nashville music executive, Luke English.

As Alzheimer’s slowly knocks away the filters of their family, AJ comes to appreciate the true meanings of love and forgiveness — and that the power of redemption can generate from the most unlikely sources. When AJ uncovers the grit to make hard choices, she also discovers that the flowers that bloom the brightest can have the most tangled roots.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Kimberly Fish

Kimberly FishKimberly Fish is a professional writer with almost thirty years of media experience. She’s been telling stories far longer. She published her first novel, a WWII historical fiction novel, because of a true story in her adopted hometown that was too good to ignore.  She quickly followed that success with a sequel. Since then, she’s continued writing fiction and added a contemporary second-chance romance series set in Comfort, Texas, to her list of fun, fast-paced novels. Kimberly lives with her family in East Texas.

Connect with Kimberly:

WEBSITE |  INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | YOUTUBE | PINTEREST |  TWITTER | GOODREADS | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE


My Thoughts

melysse2019.jpgx100I reviewed Kimberly Fish’s previous novel Comfort Plans two years ago, and it was a pleasure to revisit her writing and the world she’s created in Comfort, Texas, with this novel, Comfort Songs.

With this story, set in the present but with flashbacks to previous eras, Fish really demonstrates her prowess at writing compelling tales of women in transition. Inez (aka Gran) is facing the descent into Alzheimer’s Disease. July, whose retirement as a performer opens the novel, is facing new directions in her career and her personal life, and AJ, the connective tissue between the two, claims she just wants to run her farm, Lavender Hill, but is also exploring creative pursuits and a possible romance, as well as reconnecting with her mother (July).

Fish handles all three story lines with equal care, weaving them in and out of each other, showing us the way Inez’s youth and July’s career have informed AJ’s choices. Each woman stands alone as a distinct character, but each also shares the commonality of family and personal struggle.

What I love about Fish’s writing is that she depicts the sorts of issues we all deal with every day – aging, adult mother-daughter relationships, and the search for personal fulfillment – using characters that may have sprung from her imagination, but feel incredibly real. These are women (and their partners) that we not only may know, but that we might even be, to some extent.

If you are looking for an inter-generational story with music, romance, and the sort of community we all sort of wish we could live in, read Comfort Songs; you will not be disappointed.

Goes well with hot coffee and scones with lemon curd.


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SIGNED COPY OF COMFORT SONGS

+  HUMMINGBIRD FARMS HAND CREAM & HAND SOAP

OCTOBER 22-NOVEMBER 1, 2019

(U.S. Only)

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Visit the Other Great Blogs on this Tour

10/22/19 Review Momma on the Rocks
10/22/19 BONUS Promo All the Ups and Downs
10/23/19 Review Reading by Moonlight
10/23/19 Review KayBee’s Book Shelf
10/24/19 Review Sybrina’s Book Blog
10/25/19 Review Sydney Young, Stories
10/25/19 Review Bibliotica
10/26/19 Review That’s What She’s Reading
10/27/19 Review Book Fidelity
10/28/19 Review The Book Review
10/28/19 Review Missus Gonzo
10/29/19 Review Forgotten Winds
10/30/19 Review The Clueless Gent
10/30/19 Review StoreyBook Reviews
10/31/19 Review Hall Ways Blog
10/31/19 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles

 

Lone Star Lit

 

LSBBT

Review: The Road to Cromer Pier, by Martin Gore

The Road to Cromer Pier

 

The Road to Cromer Pier cover-2 (1)About the book, The Road to Cromer Pier:

 

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: nielsen (April 29, 2019)

Janet’s first love arrives out of the blue after thirty years. Those were simpler times for them both. Sunny childhood beach holidays, fish and chips and big copper pennies clunking into one armed bandits. The Wells family has run the Cromer Pier Summertime Special Show for generations. But it’s now 2009 and the recession is biting hard. Owner Janet Wells and daughter Karen are facing an uncertain future. The show must go on, and Janet gambles on a fading talent show star. But both the star and the other cast members have their demons. This is a story of love, loyalty and luvvies. The road to Cromer Pier might be the end of their careers, or it might just be a new beginning.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Martin Gore

I am a 61 year old Accountant who semi-retired to explore my love of creative writing. In my career I held Board level jobs for over twenty five years, in private, public and third sector organisations. I was born in Coventry, a city then dominated by the car industry and high volume manufacturing. Jaguar, Triumph, Talbot, Rolls Royce, Courtaulds, Massey Ferguson were the major employers, to name but a few.

When I was nine year’s old I told my long suffering mother that as I liked English composition and drama I was going to be a Playwright. She told me that I should work hard at school and get a proper job. She was right of course.

I started as an Office Junior at Jaguar in 1973 at eleven pounds sixty four a week. I thus grew up in the strike torn, class divided seventies. My first career ended in 2015, when I semi retired as Director of Corporate services at Humberside Probation. My second career, as a Non Executive Director, is great as it has allowed me free time to travel and indulge my passion for writing, both in novels and for theatre.

The opportunity to rekindle my interest in writing came in 2009, when I wrote my first pantomime, Cinderella, for my home group, the Walkington Pantomime Players. I have now written eight. I love theatre, particularly musical theatre, and completed the Hull Truck Theatre Playwrite course in 2010. My first play, a comedy called He’s Behind You, had its first highly successful showing in January 2016, so I intend to move forward in all three creative areas.

Pen Pals was my first novel, but a second, The Road to Cromer Pier, will be released in the Summer of 2019.

I’m an old fashioned writer I guess. I want you to laugh and to cry. I want you to believe in my characters, and feel that my stories have a beginning, a middle, and a satisfactory ending.

Connect with Martin:

Twitter | Facebook


My Thoughts

I had a feeling going into The Road to Cromer Pier that I would connect with the story, and I was not wrong. A theatre brat myself, I miss the days when I got to live and breathe musicals, and when life revolved around rehearsals and performances. That this novel also had a coastal setting only increased it’s worth. If it had come with a barista delivering lattes and chocolate croissants every three chapters, it could not have been more perfectly designed for my tastes.

But preferences alone are not enough. The author must also demonstrate talent and craft, and Martin Gore has done both with this book. I’m new to his writing, and I’m not British, but I’ve read enough novels set in the UK that they never feel foreign to me. Rather, his storytelling was so immersive that I was completely engaged from the first page to the last.

Obviously, my main focus was on Janet and her story, because she is the glue that keeps the narrative flowing, but every character was compelling and dimensional and each one felt like someone I might have encountered doing improv or summer stock or even as a resident ingenue at a theatre camp when I was in high school.

As well, the Show itself felt like a character in its own right, and I loved that about Gore’s work. Having grown up on the periphery of several family businesses, including a neighborhood diner, I know how much they take on a life and power of their own, and he showed that so well.

The Road to Cromer Pier is no fluffy summer read, but a family drama with equal parts heartbreak and hearty laughter and I highly recommend it.

Goes well with Cracker Jacks, the old-style kind that still have a decent toy surprise, not because they have anything to do with the story, but because they fit the mood of it.

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