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: The Haunting of Paradise House by Killian Wolf (with Giveaway for UK Readers only)

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About the book, The Haunting at Paradise HouseThe Haunting at Paradise House eBook

 

  • Series: Reapers of the Veil (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Grim House Publishing LLC (October 6, 2019)
  • Scroll down for Giveaway (UK only)

 

If you were given the chance to become a powerful sorceress, would you leave behind everything you thought you knew?

When Addison is offered the position of her dreams through a mysterious phone call, she rises to the occasion and moves to the Florida Keys to a mansion called Paradise House. Footsteps from playful ghosts, a room of killer dolls, and an all too intelligent owl lead her to the mysteries that lie within the walls, to reveal the true reason behind her invitation. When dark forces get a hold of her and her patient, Addison is left with no choice but to take extreme measures to protect the ones she loves. Will Addison be able to acquire the necessary skills fast enough in order to protect her patient, and defeat the evil entities that thrive in the mansion?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

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About the author, Killian Wolf The Haunting Author Photo

Killian Wolf is a Miami, FL native who enjoys pirates, rum, and skulls as much as she loves writing about dark magick and sorcerers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology and a Master of Science in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy.

Killian writes books about obtaining magickal powers and stepping into other dimensions. She lives in England with her husband, a tornado of a cat, and the most timid snake you’d ever meet.

When she isn’t writing, you might find her at an Archaeological dig, rock climbing, or sipping on dark spiced rum while working on a painting.

Connect with Killian:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

This first novel in The Reapers of the Veil series by Killian Wolf is an engaging delve into contemporary fantasy. It opens with two reapers, Ambrose and Deacon, the former of whom has botched a collection. It then jumps to the apartment of lead character Addison, a young woman looking for work as a nurse. When a live-in position falls into her lap, she is trepidatious, but accepts the position anyway, and then strange events begin to occur.

While some of the setup was a bit implausible (nurses rarely have to seek employment in modern America) and some of the plot twists were a bit trope-y (I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to spoil the story), Wolf’s inclusion of the Reapers and their culture turns what could be a fairly predictable story into something fresh and unique.

I really enjoyed some of the details – grace notes, really – that Wolf included in her story: Addison’s love of Cuban coffee is one, the scent of Cuban cigars in Dax and Orlando’s mansion is another. These specifics made Wolf’s version of Florida feel more vivid and real, and were lovely accents, especially set against the creepiness of the house itself – especially the doll room. As well, while I liked Dax and Orlando as characters, I loved that the mansion was also a character, in a sense.

Part family drama, part haunted house story, part fantasy epic, this is the first novel in a series, and while it is a satisfying story on its own, I look forward to what comes next.

Goes well with Cuban coffee and a chocolate croissant.


Giveaway: UK Residents Only

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*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: Fiona and the Whale, by Hannah Lynn – with Giveaway

Fiona and the Whale

Fiona and the Whale coverAbout the book, Fiona and the Whale

 

  • Paperback: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Independently published (September 30, 2019)
  • Scroll down for Giveaway

 

With her personal life on the rocks, it’s going to take a whale sized miracle to keep her afloat.

Event planner Fiona Reeves did not have her husband’s sudden departure on her schedule. However, she’s certain that it’s only a hiccup and he’ll be back in no time, begging for forgiveness. Fortunately there’s a distraction of mammoth proportions swimming in the River Thames.

Absorbed by the story of Martha the sperm whale, Fiona attempts to carry on life as usual as she awaits her husband’s return. However, nothing can prepare her for the dramatic turn of events that throws her life into ever greater turmoil. The road ahead has many paths and for Fiona it’s time to sink or swim.

Fiona and the Whale is a poignant and often hilarious contemporary fiction novel. If you enjoy topical tales, second chances and a little bit of romance, you’ll love this new book from the Kindle Storyteller Award Winner, Hannah Lynn.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


Hannah LynnAbout the author, Hannah Lynn

Hannah Lynn is an award-winning novelist. Publishing her first book, Amendments – a dark, dystopian speculative fiction novel, in 2015, she has since gone on to write The Afterlife of Walter Augustus, a contemporary fiction novel with a supernatural twist – which won the 2018 Kindle Storyteller Award and the Gold Medal for Best Adult Fiction ebook at this year’s IPPY Awards – and the delightfully funny and poignant Peas and Carrots series.

While she freely moves between genres, her novels are recognisable for their character driven stories and wonderfully vivid description.

She is currently working on a YA Vampire series and a reimaging of a classic Greek myth.

Born in 1984, Hannah grew up in the Cotswolds, UK. After graduating from university, she spent ten years as a teacher of physics, first in the UK and then around Asia. It was during this time, inspired by the imaginations of the young people she taught, she began writing short stories for children, and later adult fiction Now as a teacher, writer, wife and mother, she is currently living in the Austrian Alps.

Connect with Hannah:

Facebook | Bookbub | Goodreads | Twitter


melysse2019.jpgx100My Thoughts

Fiona and the Whale is my first introduction to Hannah Lynn’s work, and I’m in love. This novel is so refreshing with a main character (the titular Fiona)  being a woman in her 40s. Yes, her husband leaves her on the very day they send their son off to college, thus leaving her an empty-nester in more ways than one, but where this could have been a maudlin tale of being dumped, rather it becomes a “coming of middle age” novel.

Of course, there is also an actual whale, Martha, a sperm whale who turns up in the Thames (not the most hospitable of places for large cetaceans). As Fiona becomes more intrigued and invested in Martha’s fate, she also finds herself more aware of, and engaged in, the state of the world.

Obviously aquatic ecosystems are an important part of this story, but, through Fiona (and Martha) author Lynn also tackles food waste, which is an equally important issue in the contemporary world. The Dumpster Dive Cafe is a fabulous creation, and one I applauded while reading about.

At turns hilarious and poignant, this novel may exist in a slightly heightened version of reality, but the characters depicted within are absolutely real. I especially loved the way Lynn wrote about Fiona and her best friend. Well-written friendships between adult women (as opposed to childhood friends or college roommates) are not often found outside of literary fiction, and I was pleased to see it included here.

Overall, I found Fiona and the Whale to be an immensely satisfying read.

Goes well with hearty seven-vegetable soup, crusty bread, and a glass of wine. Red or white, as you prefer.


Giveaway

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Prizes are

$25 Amazon Gift card

2 print copies of Fiona and the Whale

10 ebooks of Fiona

5 ebooks of The Afterlife of Water Augustus

5 ebooks, of Peas, Carrots and an Aston Martin.

 

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Review: A Summer to Remember, by Victoria Cooke – with Giveaway (UK only)

A Summer To Remember

A Summer to RememberAbout the book, A Summer to Remember

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HQ Digital (September 19, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • Scroll down for giveaway!

Sam lives by the mantra that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

After the tragic loss of her husband, Sam built a new life around friends, her cat Coco and a career she loves. Fending off frequent set-ups and well-meaning advice to ‘move on’, Sam is resolutely happy being single.

But when Sam gets seconded to her firm’s Boston office for the summer, it is more than her career that is in for a shake-up. A spur of the moment decision to visit the idyllic beaches of Cape Cod could end up changing her life forever.

One thing is for sure, Sam won’t finish the summer the same woman who started it…

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Victoria CookeAbout the author, Victoria Cooke

Victoria Cooke grew up in the city of Manchester before crossing the Pennines in pursuit of a career in education. She now lives in Huddersfield with her husband and two young daughters and when she’s not at home writing by the fire with a cup of coffee in hand, she loves working out in the gym and traveling. Victoria was first published at the tender age of eight by her classroom teacher who saw potential in a six-page story about an invisible man. Since then she’s always had a passion for reading and writing, undertaking several writers’ courses before completing her first novel, ‘The Secret to Falling in Love,’ in 2016.

Her third novel, Who Needs Men Anyway? became a digital bestseller in 2018.

Connect with Victoria

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

This novel, A Summer to Remember, was my first introduction to Victoria Cooke’s work, but it was just the warm-hearted beach read I always enjoy picking up in between heavier pieces of literature. Even better, it has many scenes set in a cute coastal town with lovely, welcoming people of the type we all secretly wish would take us under their wings, pour cocktails down our throats, and become our new best friends when we most need a new perspective.

For main character Sam, a new perspective is precisely what she gets when she temporarily relocates from London to Boston for work. It’s an assignment she’s been wanting for the better part of a decade, ever since losing her husband in a tragic accident, but she gets off to a rocky start, and escapes to Provincetown on the weekend to soothe her soul at the beach.

It’s there where Sam meets and befriends an array of delightful characters – Harry and Barney chief among them – who become her American support system, giving her advice and shaking her out of her self-imposed bubble. It’s also there that she gets to know Ethan, our male lead.

In the last two years, my own family has seen a lot of death and loss – both of my in-laws and my own stepfather, as well as a member of my chosen family – and dealing with that grief, and watching my mother continue to deal with the loss of her life-partner – has been challenging, but it’s also made me a harsh critic of stories covering similar territory. Cooke handles both Sam’s and Ethan’s grief and healing with sensitivity and truthfulness that I found to be profoundly real and incredibly believable.

Yes, these are characters in a summer romance novel, and so their reality is a slightly heightened one, but I still found everything I read to be completely plausible (with the possible exception of anyone getting seasick on a kayak.)

A Summer to Remember was exactly the book I needed to finish out the last days of summer. Okay, I live in Texas, so our hot weather will continue until Halloween, but the light is changing, and there’s a bite beneath the heat that means autumn is arriving, but, just as the end of summer in this novel doesn’t mean an end to new friendships or new relationships, merely a redrawing of parameters, so, too, does the end of summer where I live merely mean that the sun sets a bit earlier and the swimming pool isn’t quite as warm.

A Summer to Remember is a novel to be enjoyed.

Goes well with burgers grilled over an open flame and cold beer, ideally consumed while sitting in the sand.


Giveaway (UK Residents Only)

A Summer Giveaway Prize

Giveaway to Win A Summer to Remember by Victoria Cooke and Chocolates (UK Only)

*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: 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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Cover Reveal: The Road to Cromer Pier by Martin Gore

The Road to Cromer Pier - Cover Reveal

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

Janet’s first love arrives out of the blue after forty 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.

Pre-order this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)


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

 

Review: Aphrodite’s Closet, by Suzy Turner

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About the book, Aphrodite’s Closet

Aphrodite's Closet NEW COVER

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Independently published (May 9, 2017)

Agatha Trout didn’t even know she had a Great Aunt Petunia, so imagine her surprise when she finds Petunia left her a corner shop in her will. But it’s not just any old corner shop—it’s a corner shop that needs something unique, something the town of Frambleberry has never seen before.

 

Influenced by her confident best friend, Coco, Agatha is soon convinced that there’s only one way to go: an adults-only sex shop.

While some of the townspeople are clutching their pearls in horror, others are open to the new experiences this shop offers. But not everyone in Frambleberry is convinced. Will the women soldier on in the face of violent threats or will their fears get the best of them—and their new venture—before it even gets off the ground?

Buy, read, and discuss Aphrodite’s Closet:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Suzy Turner Suzy Turner 2017

Born in England and raised in Portugal, Suzy lives with her childhood sweetheart Michael, their two crazy dogs and three cats.

Shortly after completing her studies, Suzy worked as a trainee journalist for a local newspaper. Her love of writing developed and a few years later she took the job of assistant editor for the region’s largest English language publisher before becoming editor of a monthly lifestyle magazine. Early in 2010 however, Suzy became a full time author. She has since written several books: Raven, December Moon, The Lost Soul (The Raven Saga), Daisy Madigan’s Paradise, The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw, The Temporal Stone, Looking for Lucy Jo, We Stand Against Evil (The Morgan Sisters), Forever FredlessAnd Then There Was You, Stormy Summer and her latest, Aphrodite’s Closet.

In 2015 she launched her popular 40+ lifestyle blog which continues to go from strength to strength, while just over a year later, she trained to become a yoga instructor. Suzy continues to write, blog and teach yoga in one of Portugal’s loveliest settings – the Algarve.

Connect with Suzy:

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My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI am in love with Aphrodite’s Closet. Funny and smart, and a perfect example of the genre we used to call “chick lit,” but is really just another type of contemporary fiction, this novel will make you laugh, make you cry, make you nod in agreement with universal truths, and make you root for the heroine, Agatha Trout.

Author Suzy Turner has drawn two dynamic leads in Agatha and her best friend Coco. Either woman could easily be someone you know. Agatha is more low key, less adventurous, and more level-headed. At times she can even be frumpy. Coco, on the other hand, is bold and a little brassy, wears five-inch heels, and is also generous to a fault. Together they represent everything that is best about deep friendship.

That core friendship is what I loved about the novel, but I also appreciated Turner’s flair for snappy dialogue and her ability to create characters with just a few descriptors (busy-body Amelia and Agatha’s mother are prime examples).

Overall, this novel is a light, fast read that balances comedy and truth really well.

Goes well with cosmopolitans and light hors d’oeuvres.


Aphrodite's Closet

Review: Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Cafe, by Richard Dee

Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Cafe

About the book, Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café

Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud CafeMeet Andorra Pett; with her trusty sidekick, she’s taken over a derelict café. On a mining station. It just happens to be orbiting Saturn!
She’s hoping for a fresh start, away from all the drama of her old life. It’s a chance to relax and start again in a place where nobody knows anything about her or her past.

But the café holds a secret, and secrets have a habit of coming out; whether you want them to or not. And being accident prone doesn’t help. The more you try to pretend that you know what’s going on, the worse it gets.
Andorra’s plans for peace and quiet get lost amid the revelations and skulduggery and she soon realises that the fate of the whole station lies in her hapless hands.
In space, you can still trip over your feet; the question is, will you land upright?

Buy, read, and discuss Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Cafe:

Universal Purchase Link | Goodreads


About the Author, Richard Dee

Richard DeeA native of Brixham in Devon, Richard Dee’s family left Devon when he was in his teens and settled in Kent. Leaving school at 16 he briefly worked in a supermarket, then went to sea and travelled the world in the Merchant Navy, qualifying as a Master Mariner in 1986. Coming ashore to be with his growing family, he used his sea-going knowledge in several jobs, including Marine Insurance Surveyor and Dockmaster at Tilbury, before becoming a Port Control Officer in Sheerness and then at the Thames Barrier in Woolwich. In 1994 he was head-hunted and offered a job as a Thames Estuary Pilot. In 1999 he transferred to the Thames River Pilots, where he regularly took vessels of all sizes through the Thames Barrier and upriver as far as H.M.S. Belfast and through Tower Bridge. In all, he piloted over 3,500 vessels in a 22-year career with the Port of London Authority. Richard was offered part time working in 2010, which allowed him to return to live in Brixham, where he took up writing and blogging. He retired in 2015, when he set up and ran a successful Organic bakery, supplying local shops and cafés. The urge to write eventually overtook the urge to bake but Richard still makes bread for friends and family. Richard is married with three adult children and two grandchildren.

Connect with Richard:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


BIG 8-3


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I was literally bouncing in my chair when I was offered the chance to read Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Cafe. I mean, a novel about a feisty woman opening a cafe in a mining station in the rings of Saturn? As someone whose gateway into Science Fiction began with A Wrinkle in Time and continued with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, this sounded like something I would really enjoy. Andorra

And I did.

Richard Dee has given us a tale that has everything – humor, suspense, a strong but struggling heroine, a fantastic sci-fi setting, and a truly universal story (no pun intended).

In Andorra Pett, I found a protagonist I would totally love to hang out with, and have coffee with. At times a tough entrepreneur, and at other times a vulnerable woman, she is smart, sassy, and incredibly resourceful. More than that, she embodies hope, something we can all use more of these days. From the moment Andorra walked into the derelict husk of a basement unit that would eventually become her cafe and worried about space spiders, to the final moment of the book, I was hooked on her story, and happy to follow her on her adventure.

With a supporting cast that covers every part of the spectrum of good and evil, Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Cafe is a must read for anyone who dreamed about sipping espresso with international spies in Paris… or out in space.

Goes well with coffee and a pastry ring (model of Saturn optional).


Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Cafe Full Banner

Review: The Magic of Stars by Jackie Ladbury

The Magic of Stars

About the book, The Magic of Stars

The Magic of Stars Sapphire Montrose always felt like a loser in the struggle of life, but when she becomes the airline manager of a run-down airline she starts to believe she is a winner – until she unwittingly propositions her new boss and all her hard work is undone.

In a moment of recklessness air stewardess, Sapphire Montrose throws caution and her dress to the wind by propositioning a handsome stranger in a hotel in Florence, only to find herself waking up alone and embarrassed in her hotel room.

Unfortunately for Sapphire, it turns out that her new boss, Marco Cavarelli, is the man she failed to seduce and she is now fighting for her job and her self-respect when he tells her there is no place in his revamped airline for an alcoholic woman with lascivious tendencies. To make matters worse she is increasingly attracted to him and he seems to be giving out the same vibes. Or is he simply testing her? One wrong move could be the end of her career. But what if he really is offering love – and is he worth the risk?

Buy, read, and discuss The Magic of Stars:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Jackie Ladbury

Jackie LadburyJackie Ladbury was desperate to become a journalist when she left school but was ousted within minutes on the day of the exam at her local rag because she’d forgotten to bring a pen.

Short and sharp lesson learned.

Her budding writing career was not on hold for long, though, as Jackie found herself scribbling love stories of pilots and ‘hosties’ while she flew in aeroplanes of various shapes and sizes as a flight attendant herself.

Fast forward a good few years and, after being short-listed in a couple of prestigious romantic writing competitions, Jackie decided it was time to discard her stilettos, say goodbye to the skies and concentrate on writing romantic novels, where the only given is a guaranteed ‘happy ever after.’

Connect with Jackie:

Website | The Write Romantics | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts:

Melissa A. BartellLove is complicated. Affairs are messy. When either of those pleasures mixes with work – in this case a woman and her boss – complicated and messy become exponentially worse.

In Jackie Ladbury’s deft hands, what could be a story of soap opera exaggeration is, instead, a very human story about love and lust and the choices we make. Sapphire is a perfect representation of the contemporary woman: flawed but working on those flaws, self-aware, but sometimes only in hindsight, and yearning for more than just a paycheck or a one night stand. Marco is also flawed, sexy and smart and a little bit reckless. The perfect object of adoration (at first) and affection (later).

In The Magic of Stars Ladbury has given us a romance that combines a touch of fantasy with a large dose of reality. Her plot moves at a good pace. Her dialogue feels believable. Her characters are dimensional.

This is the perfect read for a wintry weekend by the fire.

Goes well with Irish coffee and a chocolate brownie.


The Magic of Stars Full Tour