Friday, August 23, 2019

Review - Amazing Grace

Title:   Amazing Grace
Author:  Kim Nash
Genre:   Romance; Women's Fiction
Publisher:  Hera Books
Format:  Kindle
No. of Pages:   257
Date of Publication:  April 10, 2019
My Rating:  4.5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

She’s taking her life back, one step at a time… 

Grace thought she had it all. Living in the beautiful village of Little Ollington, along with head teacher husband Mark and gorgeous son, Archie, she devoted herself to being the perfect mum and the perfect wife, her little family giving her everything she ever wanted.

Until that fateful day when she walked in on Mark kissing his secretary - and her perfect life fell apart.

Now she's a single mum to Archie, trying to find her way in life and keep things together for his sake. Saturday nights consist of a Chinese takeaway eaten in front of the TV clad in greying pyjamas, and she can’t remember the last time she had a kiss from anyone aside from her dog, Becks

Grace’s life needs a shake up – fast. So when gorgeous gardener Vinnie turns up on her doorstep, his twinkling eyes suggesting that he might be interested in more than just her conifers, she might just have found the answer to her prayers. But as Grace falls deeper for Vinnie, ten-year-old Archie fears that his mum finding love means she’ll never reconcile with the dad he loves.

So when ex-husband Mark begs her for another chance, telling her he’s changed from the man that broke her heart, Grace finds herself with an impossible dilemma. Should she take back Mark and reunite the family that Archie loves? Or risk it all for a new chance of happiness?

A funny, feel good romance about finding your own path and changing your life for the better – readers of Cathy Bramley, Jill Mansell and Josie Silver will love this uplifting read. 

MY THOUGHTS:

Grace is a single mum. She has a wonderful son named Archie and a happy dog named Becks. Her life was rolling along just fine before. Fairly happily married to Mark, living in a gorgeous town was all she ever needed. However, walking in on her husband in the middle of him with another women was all it took for Grace to strike out on her own.

Grace and Archie are very close. Sharing him with his father is not easy for Grace, but she knows she must be fair to her son. Before Archie was born, Grace lost her mother. However, her mother was never far from her heart and her thoughts. Her connection with her mum drove her on.

Meanwhile, Grace has found a dear friend and has opportunities in life as never before. It certainly doesn't hurt when someone in the form of a stunningly handsome gardener shows up at her door. Could this possible be the beginning of something new? Would this be the best thing for Archie? Grace has a lot to ponder, especially when Mark begs for another chance.

I loved this story by Kim Nash. I found it to be incredibly sensitive, soothing and touching. I literally felt this story. I felt Grace's connecting with her mother. I felt her closeness with her son, and I felt her battle when it came to her future.

Amazing Grace is an extremely well-written debut novel. I adored the humor in this story, and loved how it made Grace's growth so positive. I would love to have an outlook like she did! One thing that I got from this book was Grace was a woman who learned to appreciate that SHE counted, and that was handled beautifully. Kudos to Ms. Nash. I look forward to reading much more from her. Simply put, this book was A-MAZING!!!!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I love everything to do with books, reading them, promoting them, talking about them, making recommendations and in April 2019, my debut novel Amazing Grace will be published by Hera Books. This is obviously such an exciting time for me. My second book will follow in October 2019.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Review - Dead Inside

Title:   Dead Inside
Author:  Noelle Holten
Series:  DC Maggie Jamieson #1
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Publisher:  Killer Reads
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   293
Date of Publication:  May 31, 2019
My Rating:  5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

When three domestic abuse offenders are found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered. And he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the finger of suspicion points at Lucy and the police are running out of time. Can Maggie and her team solve the murders before another person dies? And is Lucy really a cold-blooded killer?

MY THOUGHTS:

It is with bated breath that I attempt to write this review. As I was reading the pages of this book I felt like I was experiencing what I was reading, although nothing in this book has ever happened to me. However, for some reason, I was amazingly affected by Dead Inside. How an author, a debut author at that, could pen words that could tear my soul apart is one I am honored to read. I did have to take a break from reading for several hours. To say that this touched a cord with me is an understatement.

I find this book by Noelle Holten to have two primary characters. For starters, it is the first book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series, so she is the first. In addition, there is Lucy Sherwood, a probation officer who proved to be the catalyst for the story.

Lucy works with violent domestic abusers with hopes of keeping them in line and away from their former victims. She deals with some very rough men on a professional basis. However, it is what is happening in her private life that is a deep, dark and well-kept secret. Her marriage is not what it seems, so Lucy is forced to have two personas, and manages to live this life for quite a long time.

With regard to Maggie, she has begun a new job in a newly formed unit. After dealing with a gruesome murder case, working with domestic situations might be a bit easier for her to deal with. However, as she immediately begins her first case, it is that of a man violently murdered. In short order, other murders occur, and Maggie and her team have a difficult battle on their hands finding the killer before yet another person dies. 

Meanwhile, things are happening with Lucy - and her awful husband Patrick - that begin to shed light on some awful scenarios. As mentioned, Lucy's home life was a secret. None of her colleagues were aware of the horrors she was experiencing. Ultimately, Lucy is faced with a murder charge. Has her job, and her personal life become too much? Has she finally cracked?

As mentioned, this story was intense. It was dark, haunting and heartbreaking. The fact remains that women experience the horrors of domestic violence each and every day. I applaud Ms. Holten for writing such an effective story. As the book ends, readers are left eagerly anticipating the next book.

Many thanks to Harper Impulse, Killer Reads and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

My name is Noelle and I am in my 40’s. I am an avid reader and by that I mean I am never without a book! I am now an ex- Senior Probation Officer having left in July 2017 following 17+ years to try something new and exciting in the Bookish World with THE BEST digital publisher out there right now! WOOHOO!

By night I read all things crime!! My fascination for books started at a young age and I truly feel withdrawal symptoms if I am unable to read for a few days hence the name #crimebookjunkie! I am interested in many genres, my faves being Grit Lit, psychological thrillers and all things murder. I also LOVE  Police Procedurals and legal/action thrillers. I tend to keep away from Chick Lit and Erotica…however, if forced at gun point I may give just about anything a read. I tend to review on Goodreads, Amazon UK and .com, Netgalley, and share reviews on Twitter/My CBJ facebook page, Facebook via Crime Fiction Addict, Crime Book Club, Book Connectors and other various book clubs I am a member of. I have been fortunate enough to be put on a few Publishers reviewing lists.

Oh..and I was obsessed with my chocolate Lab Buster (who sadly passed away May 21st 2018) and gorgeous Tabby cat Pebbles, who sadly passed away in Oct 2015 (RIP Pebs x). I previously had the pleasure of guest reviewing on the former site www.bestcrimebooks.co.uk now known as  BCBandMore as the lovely Kat had kindly taken me under her wing whilst my site was under construction. I miss reviewing for her…but thrilled she gave me that nudge! 😉

Here are some pics of my other two obsessions.  Meet Buster (my gorgeous, big nosed, loveable 11 year old chocolate lab -RIP #BusterBear 21/5/18) & Pebbles (aka “Pebs” the slightly psychotic 17 year old princess tabby RIP 25/10/2015)



Wednesday, August 21, 2019

BLOG TOUR - Perfect Stranger



DESCRIPTION:

You let her in. You’ll wish you hadn’t.

Following a whirlwind romance, Rose and Chris’s marriage has been unshakeable for twenty years. But when teenager Katie turns up on their doorstep, blonde, wide-eyed and beautiful, their perfect life threatens to crumble to pieces. Because Katie says she’s Chris’s long-lost daughter, the product of a forgotten summer fling.

The couple is still reeling from shock when Katie tells them she has nowhere to go. The couple is her only hope. Kind-hearted Rose invites Katie to stay, despite Chris’s protests. The poor girl has only just lost her mother – they can’t leave her out on the street.

But soon after Katie moves in, strange things start happening. Someone crashes into a neighbour’s fence. An unexplained fire starts in the couple’s kitchen. And a family friend coming to visit disappears on the way to the house. Chris insists Katie has to go. But it’s Chris who won’t explain where he was at the time their friend went missing… 

The couple’s dream life seems to be turning into a nightmare. With dark secrets about Chris’s history with Katie’s mother coming to light, Rose no longer knows who to trust. Soon, she isn’t sure whether she’s invited a dangerous stranger into her home, or whether she’s been living with one all along…

A chilling thriller that will make you question everything you think you know about your loved ones. Fans of The Woman in the Window, Then She Was Gone and The Perfect Child won’t be able to put this book down.

MY THOUGHTS:

Title:   Perfect Stranger
Author:  Jake Cross
Genre:   Psychological Thriller
Publisher:  Bookouture
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   365 
Date of Publication:  August 21, 2019
My Rating:  4 Stars

Rose and Chris have had a happy marriage of almost twenty years. They have a teen daughter Julia and things couldn't be gong any better. One day, however, Katie, an older teen, shows up on their doorstep claiming to be Chris's daughter. What's more, is that she needs someplace to stay.

Chris did have a fling just before Rose, and now that the product of said event is there, what is he to do. Well, Rose cannot turn Katie away and welcomes her into their home. This is in consternation to what Chris wants. Sadly, Katie has lost her mother, and now she becomes an intimate part of Chris and Rose's family.

There is no peace, however, as strange events begin occurring. When daughter Julia's friend disappears en route to their home, things strangely begin to click into place. Quite naturally, Rose Rose begins to wonder if it was wise to let Katie move in, but also  whether or not Chris could be connected to everything going on around them. Is Chris the trusted man Rose has been happily married to all of these years? 

Jake Cross is a new name to me and I am glad that I got a chance to read this book. It is well-written and has a few twists and turns that kept me eagerly turning the pages. I look forward to reading more from this talented author.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jake lives in England and is the author of the standalone thrillers The Family Lie and The Choice, which hit the top 5 in Australia and was a bestseller in the UK and Canada.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Review - Christmas Carol Murder

Title:  Christmas Carol Murder
Author:  Leslie Meier 
Series:  Lucy Stone Mystery #20
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington Books
Format:  Audiobook
No. of pages:  272
Published:  September 24, 2013
My Rating:   Stars

DESCRIPTION:


"It's Christmas in the small town of Tinker's Cove, Maine, and Lucy Stone - newspaper reporter and mother of three - is excited about her acting debut in the town's production of A Christmas Carol.

Lucy normally loves planning for the holidays, but this year Tinker's Cove has fallen on hard times. With so many residents struggling to make ends meet, Christmas festivities are a luxury some can't afford. But the story's not so bleak at Downeast Mortgage, whose tight-fisted owners, Jake Marlowe and Ben Scribner, are raking in profits from everyone's misfortune. Half the town is in their debt, so when the miserly Marlowe is murdered, the mourners are few and the suspects are many . . .

Can Lucy find the murderer amidst the yuletide chaos? She's going to have to move fast, as there are death threats flying about, not tom mention a ghostly visitor . . .

Bursting with festive spirit, and as comforting as a roaring log fire, this wonderfully fun and cozy mystery from New York Times bestseller Leslie Meier is a delight from start to finish.


MY THOUGHTS:

It is Christmas in Tinker's Cove and Lucy Stone is busy as usual. However, times in the little town in Maine are not easy. Christmas is not going to be a lovely holiday for everyone. However, those at Downeast Mortgage are unseemly celebrating other people's losses. His murder comes as no surprise, and suspects are plentiful.

Lucy does what she does best. She decides to find the killer, even if it interferes with her job, family and even her desire to take classes.

Christmas Carol Murder, by the title alone, reminded me a bit of the Dickens classic. With a not-so-unexpected ghost, the typical twists and turns, and the danger Lucy always seems to find make this a delightful edition to the series.

I have enjoyed this series to-date, and have less than ten left. Since I love cozy mysteries, I am thrilled to have found this series and it holds a warm place in my heart.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I started writing in the late ‘80s when I was attending graduate classes at Bridgewater State College. I wanted to become certified to teach high school English and one of the required courses was Writing and the Teaching of Writing. My professor suggested that one of the papers I wrote for that course was good enough to be published and I sent it off to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine’s Department of First Stories. I got $100 for the story and I’ve been writing ever since. The teaching, however, didn’t work out.

My books draw heavily on my experience as a mother of three and my work as a reporter for various weekly newspapers on Cape  . My heroine, Lucy Stone, is a reporter in the fictional town of Tinker’s Cove, Maine, where she lives in an old farmhouse (quite similar to mine on Cape Cod!) with her restoration carpenter husband Bill and four children. As the series has progressed the kids have grown older, roughly paralleling my own family. We seem to have reached a point beyond which Lucy cannot age–my editor seems to want her to remain forty-something forever, though I have to admit I personally am dying to write “Menopause is Murder!”

I usually write one Lucy Stone mystery every year and as you can tell, my editor likes me to feature the holidays in my books. Of course Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year and my newest mystery “Eggnog Murder,” is included in an anthology with two other Christmas novellas by Barbara Ross and Lee Hollis. I’ve long been a fan of the classic English country house mystery, and was a faithful watcher of “Downton Abbey,” so I couldn’t resist trying to write one. I think I succeeded rather well, if I do say so myself, with “British Manor Murder,” which came out in October, 2016.

My books are classified as “cozies” but a good friend insists they are really “comedies of manners” and I do enjoy expressing my view of contemporary American life.

Now that the kids are grown — we have five fabulous grandchildren — my husband and I are enjoying dividing our time between Braintree and Cape Cod, along with our cat, Sylvester.

Find Her:  Goodreads / Twitter / Web 

Review - Dragonfly

Title:   Dragonfly
Author:  Leila Meacham
Genre:   Historical Fiction
Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing
Format:  Print ARC
No. of Pages:   576
Date of Publication:  July 9, 2019
My Rating:  5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

At the height of WWII, five idealistic young Americans receive a mysterious letter from the OSS, asking them if they are willing to fight for their country. The men and women from very different backgrounds--a Texan athlete with German roots, an upper-crust son of a French mother and a wealthy businessman, a dirt-poor Midwestern fly fisherman, an orphaned fashion designer, and a ravishingly beautiful female fencer from Princeton -- all answer the call of duty, but each for a secret reason of his or her own. They bond immediately, in a group code-named DRAGONFLY.

Soon after their training, they are dropped behind enemy lines and take up their false identities, isolated from one another except for a secret drop-box, but in close contact with the powerful Nazi elite who have Paris under siege.

Thus begins a dramatic and riveting cat-and-mouse game, as the young Americans seek to stay under the radar until a fatal misstep leads to the capture and the firing-squad execution of one of their team. But...is everything as it seems, or is this one more elaborate act of spycraft? 

MY THOUGHTS:

World War II is in full throttle and five young Americans are chosen to work with the OSS. They will be fighting for their country and serving in France. Not only do they not know one another at the outset, their families cannot not know that they will soon become spies. They are code-named Dragonfly, and are each given false identities.

They take on their assignments, albeit separately. However, they have an agreed upon rendezvous location when information must be shared. They are always aware of the extreme danger facing them. By this time, Hitler's armies have invaded Paris and the city has been turned upside down.

In immediate succession, a series of tragic and dramatic events surround the young people, as well as countless innocent victims. Things take a horrid turn, however, when one of the team is captured and faces the firing squad. I was reading the massive large-print book, and I literally dropped it when reading.

I am almost at a loss as to what to state further. Hitler's crimes are known far and wide. Reading about myriads of people losing their lives was difficult, as can be imagined. Reading about how countries, like America, employed people strictly to save lives was actually quite rewarding to read.

I will say that this book kept me rapidly turning pages, and I read it in one day, in just two sittings. I gasped, cried and then celebrated when reaching the conclusion. One of the drawing factors to this book was each individual story. I felt drawn to each young person, whether it was their backstory or where they ended up once the war was over.

Dragonfly is historical fiction at its very best. History has proved quite true and realistic when it came to reading this book. I can only imagine the hours and hours of intense research Leila Meacham spent while composing this book.

Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Leila Meacham is a writer and former teacher who lives in San Antonio, Texas. She is the author of the bestselling novels Roses, Somerset and Tumbleweeds.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Review - Marry in Scandal

Title:   Marry in Scandal
Author:  Anne Gracie
Series:  Marriage of Convenience #2
Genre:   Historical Romance
Publisher:  Berkley
Format:  Kindle
No. of Pages:   320
Date of Publication:  April 3, 2018
My Rating:  4.5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

A shy heiress and a well-known rake face a scandal-forced marriage that might be true love in the latest irresistible romance from the national bestselling author of Marry in Haste.

Shy young heiress, Lady Lily Rutherford, is in no hurry to marry. She dreams of true love and a real courtship. But when disaster strikes, she finds herself facing a scandal-forced marriage to her rescuer, Edward Galbraith, a well known rake.

Despite his reputation Lily is drawn to the handsome Galbraith. In the gamble of her life, she agrees to marry him, hoping to turn a convenient marriage into a love match.

As heir to a title, Galbraith knows he must wed, so a convenient marriage suits him perfectly. But there is a darkness in his past, and secrets he refuses to share with his tender-hearted young bride. All Lily's efforts to get close to him fall on stony ground, and in desperation she retreats to his childhood home—the place he's avoided for nearly a decade.


Must Lily reconcile herself to a marriage without love? Or will Galbraith realize that this warm-hearted, loving girl is the key to healing the wounds of his past—and his heart? 


MY THOUGHTS:

If you read the first book in this series, Marry in Haste, you will be familiar with Lady Lily Rutherford. If not, this book will still be sure to captivate your attention as Lily's story is quite engaging. Lily isn't looking for marriage, but she certainly hopes for true love. Instead, she is not pleased to find herself facing marriage to Edward Galbraith, due to a scandal. It really is disturbing to her that he is a rake with quite a reputation.

At the tender age of 18, Lily is more than a bit naive. Lily must face one fact ... she is more than drawn to him. So agreeing to marry Edward might not end up being the worst thing that could happen to her. Now, if she could just get him to have feelings for her. However, Edward has had a difficult past, and does his very best to keep his heart under lock and key.

As far as how Lily and Edward got together. Well, he was her savior. After rescuing Lily, all he wanted to do was to keep her safe until he could return her to her family. Meanwhile, there was a man who put Lily in danger, and that is something that Edward will never forget. Although he is more than honorable, and despite the fact that he worked hard to maintain Lily's reputation, the pair do end up together.

One thing about Lily is that she has never been able to learn to read, and this is a huge part of who she is, and therefore, this becomes part of this story. Meanwhile, since this is part of a series, we see Lily's family occasionally. What's more is there is a special character who I was rather fond of, and that it Edward's grandfather. So, just as in the first book in series, family connections were part of this story.

I love how Lily's learning disorder was handled, and also enjoyed how Edward was able to face his past. This was a terrific read and a delightful part of an enjoyable series. The next book, Marry in Secret, was another very good read.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Me, very early in my story-telling career

I’ve always loved stories. Family legend has it that I used to spend hours playing in the sand pit, with a dog on either side of me and Rocka the horse leaning over me, his head just touching my shoulder, while I told them stories. I have to say, dogs and horses are great audiences, apart from their tendency to drool occasionally. But people are even nicer.

In case you imagine we were a filthy rich horse-owning family, let me assure you we weren’t. The horse period was a time when my parents entered a “let’s-be-self-sufficient” phase, so we had a horse, but no electricity and all our water came from the rain tank.

As well as the horse and dogs, we had 2 cows (Buttercup and Daisy and one of them always had a calf), a sheep (Woolly,) goats (Billy and Nanny) dozens of ducks, chooks, and a couple of geese, a pet bluetongue lizard and a huge vegie patch. I don’t know how my mother managed, really, because both she and Dad taught full time, but she came home and cooked on a wood stove and did all the laundry by hand, boiling the clothes and sheets in a big copper kettle. Somehow, we were always warm, clean, well fed and happy. She’s pretty amazing, my mum.

Once I learned to read, I spent my days outside playing with the animals (I include my brother and 2 sisters here) and when inside I read. For most of my childhood we didn’t have TV, so books have always been a big part of my life. Luckily our house was always full of them. Travel was also a big part of my childhood. My parents had itchy feet. We spent a lot of time driving from one part of Australia to another, visiting relatives or friends or simply to see what was there. I’ve lived in Scotland, Malaysia and Greece. We travelled through Europe in a caravan and I’d swum most of the famous rivers in Europe by the time I was eight.

This is me and my classmates in Scotland. I am in the second front row, in the middle, to the right of the girl in the dark tunic.

Sounds like I was raised by gypsies, doesn’t it? I was even almost born in a tent –Mum, Dad and 3 children were camping and one day mum left the tent and went to hospital to have me. But in fact we are a family of chalkies (Australian slang for teachers)- and Dad was a school principal during most of my life. And I am an expert in being “the new girl” having been to 6 different schools in 12 years.The last 4 years, however, were in the same high school and I still have my 2 best friends from that time.

On the left is me in Greece with my good friend, Fay, in our village outfits. The film went a funny colour, but you get the idea. I’m the one in the pink apron. On the right, is me posing shamelessly on a glacier in New Zealand.
No matter where I lived, I read. I devoured whatever I could get my hands on — old Enid Blyton and Mary Grant Bruce books, old schoolboys annuals. I learned history by reading Rosemary Sutcliffe, Henry Treece and Georgette Heyer. I loved animal books — Elyne Mitchell’s Silver Brumby books and Mary Patchett and Finn the Wolf Hound. And then I read Jane Austen and Dickens and Mary Stewart and Richard Llewellyn and Virginia Woolf and EF Benson and Dick Francis and David Malouf and Patrick White and Doris Lessing and PD James and…the list is never ending.

I escaped from my parents, settled down and went to university.To my amazement I became a chalkie myself and found a lot of pleasure in working with teenagers and later, adults. I taught English and worked as a counsellor and helped put on plays and concerts and supervised camps and encouraged other people to write but never did much myself. It took a year of backpacking around the world to find that my early desire to write hadn’t left me, it had just got buried under a busy and demanding job.

I wrote my first novel on notebooks bought in Quebec, Spain, Greece and Indonesia. That story never made it out of the notebooks, but I’d been bitten by the writing bug.

And then I discovered Romance and … the rest is…. historicals…

Sunday, August 18, 2019

BLOG TOUR - Where I Found You


Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Where I Found You by Emma Robinson.


DESCRIPTION:

Your daughter does not speak… But can she teach you how to live?

Ever since Ruby was tiny, she has been unique. Her smiles are magically rare, her building blocks are always colour-coded, and she communicates only in gestures. Sometimes, being Ruby’s mother is hard, but the way she sees the world makes it new for Sara every day.

When Sara’s husband walks out on them, Sara’s world falls apart, and her mother-in-law, Barbara, is the only person she can turn to for help. But Barbara thinks Ruby’s problems are all in Sara’s head; that she just doesn’t know how to raise a child right.

Sara can’t see how she’ll cope alone. Barbara won’t listen. Can a girl who doesn’t speak show them the way?

A powerful emotional page-turner about motherhood, friendship and family. Guaranteed to take your breath away. Perfect for fans of A Boy Made of Blocks, Jodi Picoult and Jojo Moyes.


BUY LINKS:
AMZ: https://geni.us/B07SQRSP1XSocial
Apple Books: https://buff.ly/2Kvr4ph
Kobo: https://buff.ly/33tz9lT
Googleplay: https://buff.ly/2yX4nUl


MY THOUGHTS:

Title:   Where I Found You
Author:  Emma Robinson
Genre:   Women's Fiction, Literary Fiction
Publisher:  Bookouture
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:  300
Date of Publication:  August 16, 2019
My Rating:  4.5 Stars

Sara is more than pleased to be a mother. However, she knows her three-year-old Ruby is unique. She met several milestones as expected, but has stopped speaking. Furthermore, Ruby's play is guided by order - she color codes her toys, lines them up perfectly, and will repeat playful tasks repeatedly.

Mike thinks Ruby is a typical child. What is more, so does Mike's mother, Barbara. Currently, Mike has returned to acting, his first love that he gave up after marriage and fatherhood. Partly due to this, Mike has convinced Sara that moving in with Barbara will be best for the family financially. Mike can work hard on the play he just got hired to, and the couple can save money for a home of their own.

So, not only is Sara worried about Ruby, she is now living in the home of a woman who never showed her much consideration or respect. As a matter of fact, she second-guesses Sara at every turn, whereas Mike can do no wrong.

Sara takes a huge step, actually more than one. Not only does she find a part-time job, she even enrolls Ruby into a pre-school. This opens the door for Sara to act on her suspensions that things are not quite right with Ruby. After all, Sara is concerned for Ruby's happiness and future, as any well-meaning mother would be. Not only is Sara living in Barbara's home, she wakes up to discover that Mike has left them and that she is now a single parent.

What a touching story! Where I Found You not only focuses on Sara working on obtaining a diagnosis for Ruby, and where she might be on the autism spectrum, she also works on her dream of being an artist, finding friends she can rely on, and even growing in her relationship with her mother-in-law. 

Emma Robinson has delivered an effective story and has handled it with grace. As I have a grandson and nephew who are autistic, I felt very comfortable with how Ms. Robinson wrote this story, including expressing how isolated Sara felt at times. I truly enjoy her writing and do look forward to reading much more in the future.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Emma Robinson is the author of three novels about motherhood and female friendship including The Undercover Mother.

Her fourth novel - Where I Found You - is available to preorder now and will be released on the 16th August 2019.

When she is not writing, Emma is an English teacher and lives in Essex with a patient husband and two children who are an endless source of material.


Review - Marry in Haste

Title:   Marry in Haste
Author:  Anne Gracie
Series:  Marriage of Convenience #1
Genre:   Historical Romance
Publisher:  Berkley
Format:  Kindle
No. of Pages:   320
Date of Publication:  May 2, 2017
My Rating:  5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

From the award-winning author of The Summer Bride comes the first in a charming new historical romance series where marriages of convenience turn into true love matches.

Major Calbourne Rutherford returns to England on the trail of an assassin, only to find he’s become Lord Ashendon, with the responsibility for vast estates and dependent relatives. Cal can command the toughest of men, but his wild half-sisters are quite another matter. They might just be his undoing.

When he discovers that Miss Emmaline Westwood, the girls’ former teacher, guides them with ease, Cal offers her a marriage of convenience. But strong-minded and independent Emm is neither as compliant nor as proper as he expected, and Cal finds himself most inconveniently seduced by his convenient wife.

Emm knows they didn’t marry for love, yet beneath her husband’s austere facade, she catches glimpses of a man who takes her breath away. As pride, duty and passion clash, will these two stubborn hearts find more than they ever dreamed of?


MY THOUGHTS:

Major Calbourne Rutherford has returned home with the express purposes of seeing his two half-sister settled. Having become Lord Ashendon, while in the middle of trailing an assassin gives Cal very little time. When he realizes that the girls, Rose and Lily, are rather wild, he looks to their former teacher for assistance. Cal soon offers their former teacher, Miss Emmaline Westwood an unusual offer.

When Emm gets asked by Cal for her hand in marriage, she knows love will have nothing to do with it. When Rose and Lily were at her school, she was rather fond of them. It doesn't take Emm long to consider Cal's offer. But, she soon realizes that this will not simply be a marriage of convenience, at least on her part. Not only does Emm accept, but she begins to have powerful feelings for Cal. What's more is that she starts to see his shell begin to crack.

Marry in Haste is the first book in the Marriage of Convenience series. I truly enjoyed how this story developed. Not only do readers get to see Emm and Cal fall in love, and Cal is the typical historical romance hero in this type of tromp, hard on the outside, but there was a strong family atmosphere throughout.

As most romance stories entail, there will be at least one conflict, and this story had its fair share. Although part of a series, this could serve as a standalone, but having already read the next two, Marry in Scandal and Marry in Secret, I was able to see this family come together, with Emm, Rose and Lily all finding love. I look forward to their cousin, George's - as she prefers to be called - story. I found this to be a touching book, with a wonderful ending.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Me, very early in my story-telling career

I’ve always loved stories. Family legend has it that I used to spend hours playing in the sand pit, with a dog on either side of me and Rocka the horse leaning over me, his head just touching my shoulder, while I told them stories. I have to say, dogs and horses are great audiences, apart from their tendency to drool occasionally. But people are even nicer.

In case you imagine we were a filthy rich horse-owning family, let me assure you we weren’t. The horse period was a time when my parents entered a “let’s-be-self-sufficient” phase, so we had a horse, but no electricity and all our water came from the rain tank.

As well as the horse and dogs, we had 2 cows (Buttercup and Daisy and one of them always had a calf), a sheep (Woolly,) goats (Billy and Nanny) dozens of ducks, chooks, and a couple of geese, a pet bluetongue lizard and a huge vegie patch. I don’t know how my mother managed, really, because both she and Dad taught full time, but she came home and cooked on a wood stove and did all the laundry by hand, boiling the clothes and sheets in a big copper kettle. Somehow, we were always warm, clean, well fed and happy. She’s pretty amazing, my mum.

Once I learned to read, I spent my days outside playing with the animals (I include my brother and 2 sisters here) and when inside I read. For most of my childhood we didn’t have TV, so books have always been a big part of my life. Luckily our house was always full of them. Travel was also a big part of my childhood. My parents had itchy feet. We spent a lot of time driving from one part of Australia to another, visiting relatives or friends or simply to see what was there. I’ve lived in Scotland, Malaysia and Greece. We travelled through Europe in a caravan and I’d swum most of the famous rivers in Europe by the time I was eight.

This is me and my classmates in Scotland. I am in the second front row, in the middle, to the right of the girl in the dark tunic.

Sounds like I was raised by gypsies, doesn’t it? I was even almost born in a tent –Mum, Dad and 3 children were camping and one day mum left the tent and went to hospital to have me. But in fact we are a family of chalkies (Australian slang for teachers)- and Dad was a school principal during most of my life. And I am an expert in being “the new girl” having been to 6 different schools in 12 years.The last 4 years, however, were in the same high school and I still have my 2 best friends from that time.

On the left is me in Greece with my good friend, Fay, in our village outfits. The film went a funny colour, but you get the idea. I’m the one in the pink apron. On the right, is me posing shamelessly on a glacier in New Zealand.

No matter where I lived, I read. I devoured whatever I could get my hands on — old Enid Blyton and Mary Grant Bruce books, old schoolboys annuals. I learned history by reading Rosemary Sutcliffe, Henry Treece and Georgette Heyer. I loved animal books — Elyne Mitchell’s Silver Brumby books and Mary Patchett and Finn the Wolf Hound. And then I read Jane Austen and Dickens and Mary Stewart and Richard Llewellyn and Virginia Woolf and EF Benson and Dick Francis and David Malouf and Patrick White and Doris Lessing and PD James and…the list is never ending.

I escaped from my parents, settled down and went to university.To my amazement I became a chalkie myself and found a lot of pleasure in working with teenagers and later, adults. I taught English and worked as a counsellor and helped put on plays and concerts and supervised camps and encouraged other people to write but never did much myself. It took a year of backpacking around the world to find that my early desire to write hadn’t left me, it had just got buried under a busy and demanding job.

I wrote my first novel on notebooks bought in Quebec, Spain, Greece and Indonesia. That story never made it out of the notebooks, but I’d been bitten by the writing bug.

And then I discovered Romance and … the rest is…. historicals…

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Review - The Killing Game

Title:   The Killing Game
Author:  Iris Johansen
Series:  Eve Duncan #2
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Publisher:  Bantam
Format:  Audiobook
No. of Pages:   384
Date of Publication:   1999; 2018
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

A merciless killer on the hunt...an innocent child in his sights...a woman driven to the edge to stop him...

The killer knows Eve Duncan all too well. He knows the pain she feels for her murdered daughter, Bonnie, whose body has never been found. He knows that as one of the nation's top forensic sculptors she'll insist on identifying the nine skeletons unearthed on a bluff near Georgia's Talladega Falls. He knows she won't be able to resist the temptation of believing that one of those skeletons might be her daughter's. But that is only the beginning of the killer's sadistic game. He wants Eve one on one, and he'll use his ace in the hole to make sure she complies. And he won't stop playing until he claims the prize he wants most: Eve's life.


MY THOUGHTS:

There is a brutal serial killer on the loose. After several bodies were unearthed, in his frustration that he may have finally made a mistake after years of killing, he sets his sights of renowned forensic sculptor Eve Duncan.

Years ago, Eve lost her precious daughter Bonnie to a serial killer. She has crafted her career structuring faces from skeletons and other means with hopes of providing closure to families who have lost their children. Eve, however, never had such closure. Bonnie's body was never found. Until now. Now? Quite possibly. Therefore, the investigation into the site where the bodies are found takes on an extremely personal edge.

In order to have Eve believe that one of the bodies discovered is actually Bonnie's, the killer begins a terrifying game of cat and mouse. To capture Eve's attention, the life of a ten-year-old child is suddenly at risk. Eve begins receiving clues as to the girl's danger, all while hoping to reconstruct the skeleton that just might be Bonnie's.

Before the discovery of the bodies, Eve took off with John Logan. Not only was she able to shake off her traumatic work for a time, she was able to fully regroup. Little did Eve know that close friend Joe Quinn had been looking for the perfect opportunity to snatch her back and to make her a part of his life. in a way she never expected or even dreamed could happen. Meanwhile, Joe is extremely concerned for Eve and knows that the identification of the skeleton might hurt Eve to the very core.

The Killing Game is a fast-moving book. Not only is Eve in danger, but also a young child. Meanwhile, there is a fair bit of romance in this story. Readers of the first book, The Face of Deception, might not be surprised, but perhaps as to the reasoning. Nonetheless, the course has been set and there are now 25 titles in this exciting series. I have already had the pleasure of reading a few more at the time of writing this review, The Search, Body of Lies and Dead Aim. Blind Alley is next in line for my greedy eyes.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

IRIS JOHANSEN is The New York Times bestselling author of Your Next Breath, The Perfect Witness, Live to See Tomorrow, Silencing Eve, Hunting Eve, Taking Eve, Sleep No More, What Doesn't Kill You, Bonnie, Quinn, Eve,Chasing The Night, Eight Days to Live, Blood Game, Deadlock, Dark Summer, Pandora's Daughter, Quicksand,Killer Dreams, On The Run, Countdown, Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, and more. And with her son Roy Johansen, she has coauthored The Naked Eye, Sight Unseen, Close Your Eyes, Shadow Zone, Storm Cycle, and Silent Thunder.

Johansen began writing after her children left home for college. She first achieved success in the early 1980s writing category romances. In 1991, Johansen began writing suspense historical romance novels, starting with the publication of The Wind Dancer. In 1996 Johansen switched genres, turning to crime fiction, with which she has had great success. She had seventeen consecutive New York Times bestsellers as of November 2006.

Johansen lives near Atlanta, Georgia and is married. Her son, Roy Johansen, is an Edgar Award-winning screenwriter and novelist. Her daughter, Tamara, serves as her research assistant.