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The Time of Our Lives
The Time of Our Lives
Price: £3.32

4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect summer read, 30 May 2014
From day one of their holiday, things don’t go exactly as imagined. An eventful 8 days is an understatement …

Beginning with the flight (which should have been luxurious), problems on arrival at their hotel with their shower room and encountering an old teacher on the beach … Day One sets the tone for the rest of their stay.

While Meredith and Nic go off sightseeing each day, Imogen is either stuck in the hotel trying to negotiate damage limitation on a potential mega-newsworthy incident – or out and still having to deal with it.

Underlying this pending disaster is the enigma of Roberto. In the prologue, Imogen and Roberto are together but when the story begins six years later they’re not and the reader isn’t sure why. Whatever happened had a profound effect on Imogen and she’s been unable to move on.

I enjoyed the chemistry between Imogen and Harry and enjoyed watching her feelings come alive again. It is so easy to identify with her that her guilt became my guilt as well! She is a fabulous main character.

It’s not only Imogen who comes to term with something that’s been holding her back – Nicola has her own relationship/family dilemma and Meredith has her own responsibility to accept. I loved their friendships with each other and how the three of them faced their own fears.

The Time of Our Lives is a humorous and engaging read. A perfect read for the summer.

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Voodoo Romance Boxed Set
Voodoo Romance Boxed Set
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous characters and a series to fire your imagination, 28 May 2014
I enjoyed this series from Janice Horton.

The lead characters and those on the periphery are well developed. The descriptions of the places we visit alongside Nola are well written - it was easy for me to feel as is if I was by her side. The pace of the novellas doesn't rush us through Nola's story but unfolds at just the right time. I loved seeing Nola change from that sassy, 'the world owes me a living' woman to the responsible parent and wife she becomes.

We experience the heritage and the legacy (of magic) – passing something special down through the generations. I really felt I was with them all on St John’s Eve – excellent description of the celebration.

I have no hesitation in recommending the Voodoo Romance boxed set for readers of romance and magic :)

* review copies (digital) provided by the author in exchange for honest reviews.

A Cornish Stranger
A Cornish Stranger
by Liz Fenwick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.39

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was hooked throughout!, 26 May 2014
This review is from: A Cornish Stranger (Paperback)
I loved Liz Fenwick’s previous novels, The Cornish House and A Cornish Affair so was excited to win a proof copy of A Cornish Stranger!

The prologue sets the theme of the story with the reader finding out about Jaunty (92 years old) and her need to write down the truth as she’s nearing the end of her life.

Granddaughter Gabe has decided to move in with Jaunty – on the surface to look after her. She used to perform on stage as an opera singer but left four years ago … why?

Fin arrives in the creek – then the storm happens. The scene with Gabe rescuing him was full of tension and made me hold my breath!
Jaunty is only able to write her letters for a short length of time and these are so well paced and share just enough information that the intrigue is kept alive. You think you know what the secrets are but then there’s another twist to her past. The writing in the letters is so vivid that I really felt as if I was back in that time during the war.

Alongside Jaunty's secrets, Gabe has one of her own. Hiding in the cabin with Jaunty doesn’t go to plan with the arrival of Fin and being pulled into the rehearsals with the villagers. Her pain was palpable and is obvious in her interactions and body language.

The isolation of the cabin and the creek is the perfect environment for the secrets and the healing to take place.
It was fabulous to see previous characters too - Mark Trigg, Justin, Tamsin and Hannah play a part in The Cornish Stranger. The community feeling is alive and well when they reach out to protect their own.

Intrigue, suspense, tension, conflict, romance and community. This is a perfect combination and one that kept me hooked throughout.

The Reflections of Queen Snow White
The Reflections of Queen Snow White
Price: £1.27

4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully executed, 24 May 2014
Beginning with Snow in the throne room who is bereft and in mourning (not even interested in the upcoming wedding of her daughter) through to her discovery of the mirror and subsequent flashbacks, Meredith has written a tale that is dark and compelling.

True to the format of fairy tales, The Reflections of Queen Snow White contain a lesson to learn and a problem to solve which is common to universal experiences.

The mirror reflects the ‘inner’ Snow. She has to come to terms with her loneliness and remember her strengths. The flashbacks deal with abandonment and the depravations Snow experienced. They are all quite dark in nature. This is not a tale for young readers (Snow and Charming’s wedding night comes to mind) just in case my blog readers think fairy tale equates with those light and fluffy stories we have come to expect today. It is written in the style of the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales (check out National Geographic original 1914 versions).

The writing flows and is beautiful. I loved the figurative language, for example:

“The world spread out beneath them in helpless submission …”

I was intrigued how Meredith would portray a well-known character from fairy tale after the sparkle had gone. He has remained true to the original tale (loved that one of the dwarves was still alive and a part of her life!). His exploration of how to deal with grief when the HEA is over (which was inspired by the passing of family members – see my interview[...] from January) has been beautifully executed.

I recommend The Reflections of Queen Snow White for adult readers who are not afraid to look below the surface and confront fears.

I would like to thank the author for providing an ecopy in exchange for an honest review.

Price: £3.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Read, 24 May 2014
This review is from: Tease (Kindle Edition)
The story opens with Sara who is with her lawyers. With flashbacks to the previous year, the picture builds of Sara, best mate Brielle, a couple of senior boys and how they make new girl Emma’s life extremely uncomfortable.

Brielle is a leader and manipulator. She is the type of young person that others either join in with because they are afraid of her power … or risk a high chance of emotional torture. Sara’s life has changed since they’ve become best friends. She doesn’t feel invisible anymore. She feels that she is a vibrant part of life at high school purely because of her friendship with Brielle. Ignoring family and friends warnings, she just can’t see what they mean.

I started out not liking Sara. The author captures this stage in life so very well. Arrogance in believing your view is the ONLY view and empathy is not something that is an everyday part of vocabulary. Sara’s thoughts and reflections about the responsibility for the part she plays changes as the story builds. Finally it isn’t all about ‘ME’ but about others. The court room had me in tears!

All young people should read Tease! It just might open eyes to the reality. Yes, friendships change and evolve while young people are trying to find their way socially but there is a line that you cross where everyday friendship squabbles become so much more than that. We have an acronym at school. S T O P = Several Times on Purpose. This is when those squabbles cross the line.

Tease is fiction but it is based on a true story and I found it a compelling read.

There are resources at the end of the novel – websites and phone numbers. I hope readers going through similar experiences are able to make use of them.

I would like to thank the publishers for pre-approval via Netgalley.

Three Little Words: They Mean So Much
Three Little Words: They Mean So Much
by Jessica Thompson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Thompson captures the emotions brilliantly, 17 May 2014
I won my signed copy of Three Little Words on the author’s Facebook page.

The story surprised me – in a good way! I wasn’t expecting to get as caught up as I did and emotionally invested in the outcome!

I really enjoyed the format. Beginning on 1 Apr 2009 with a mystery woman in the café where Adam works, we go back a month in time to the incident, with reflections on the relationships of our couples Bryony/Max, Sara/Tom and Rachel/Richard. And how everyone moves forwards with their lives.

My brain worked overtime in trying to work out the connections between some of the characters and I loved it that I didn’t know why Sara and Rachel were involved until it is revealed! Sara and Rachel have their own stories woven in to the main thread of the story as well as a connection. This is so very clever and kept me totally engaged.

The plot itself is so poignant. I experienced the characters pain. Lives turned upside down – Keon and his mum along with Bryony.

One mistake is all that it takes and what a journey the characters have to make before they come to that place of not just saying but actually feeling those ‘Three Little Words!’

This is a story of true forgiveness and how that releases us to move on and live again. Thompson captures the emotions brilliantly and the reader can’t help but be caught up in the drama and the healing.

Rags & Bones
Rags & Bones
Price: £3.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Each tale will make you stop and think, 17 May 2014
This review is from: Rags & Bones (Kindle Edition)
I think there’s always a time and place that suits for reading short stories. I always enjoy reading them – and love faery tales/myths – so was excited to receive Rags & Bones to review.

All the shorts left me pondering in some way although I did have my favourites!

That The Machine May Progress Eternally was thought provoking. I thought this is exactly how it would be! The change from routine, the fear and trying to change it but then acceptance and a fear when things change again … with finally acceptance.

The Cold Corner. I often think about the different twists, turns and opportunities. And reality. Coincidentally, the day after I had read this short, my OH told me about a dream he had the previous night. It was so similar to this story! and no, he hadn’t read it …

When First We Were Gods. Loved the psyche cards and the distinction of a hierarchy. Eternity – would it be all that our thoughts tell us it could be? Another thought provoking read.

Awakened. Choosing something final as opposed to being in captivity. Choosing one kind of freedom. What would your choice be?

At the end of each story, the author shares with the reader why they chose to re-tell the story they have. I think this adds to the collection and gives it the personal touch.

As with all faery tales there are morals in the stories but there is also power in looking further beneath the surface too…

The length of each story in Rags & Bones are perfect for reading in one sitting. You might spend some time thinking though …

Recommend for readers who enjoy sci-fi, myths, faery tales, magic, fantasy and the shadow side of humanity.

The Bubble Wrap Boy
The Bubble Wrap Boy
Price: £3.59

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a feel-good story!, 10 May 2014
I’ve enjoyed Phil Earle’s novels (Being Billy (2011), Saving Daisy (2012) and Heroic (2013) which have all been ‘keepers’ for me) so I was excited when I was offered The Bubble Wrap Boy to review. Did it live up to my high expectations?

Charlie’s clumsiness is evident on stage during the school production of Romeo and Juliet although to be fair, if the sword … Sinus is waiting for him after Charlie’s cleared the stage and we find out that both boys are ‘outcasts’ from the social circle at school and this is the reason they gravitated towards each other.

Charlie’s quite excited to learn that he’s going to get a bike to deliver the take-out Chinese but is very disappointed when the reality doesn’t match his imagination! It’s when he’s out delivering that he sees a kid skateboard past which starts his obsession with skate boarding – and leads to his mum finding him at the park skateboarding which results in a grounding. Of course this doesn’t stop him from sneaking out to the park. I was quite indignant what the other boys did to him! Sinus is the one who takes this event and makes it into something positive. He’s been staring at walls for a purpose …

The reason why Charlie’s mum is over protective becomes clear when he takes a phone call pretending to be her … and this thread in the story might bring tears (it did for me).

Young people will identify with Charlie and Sinus. Any age reader will be reminded that it’s important to have a dream – something to aspire to no matter the obstacles. Be careful who you hurt along the way though!

Although it’s different to Earle’s previous novels, he still tackles a social issue with sensitivity, realism but also humour.

Perfect ending (had me up off my seat cheering)!

It is such a feel-good story, it’s another hit for me :)

Witch Finder
Witch Finder
Price: £2.62

4.0 out of 5 stars Loved the blend of fact, fiction and of course magic!, 10 May 2014
This review is from: Witch Finder (Kindle Edition)
Right from the beginning I was immediately transported to Spitalfields in 1880. All my senses were pulled into the opening scene of Luke on his way to meet his uncle and this remained the same throughout Witch Finder.

With alternate narrations from Luke and Rosa, a picture builds.

With Rosa we find out about her magical family and their expectations. Knyvet’s personality becomes very clear from a harrowing scene whilst riding on The Row (the first but not the last!). We find out later why he may be so cruel and I’m wondering if in future books in the series that we might see a completely different Knyvet … however, in Witch Finder, he is the character who makes your skin crawl with his maliciousness and greed.

Luke gets into the family home as a stable boy. He is so sweet and with his growing feelings for Rosa, his attempts to kill her bring heartache and guilt. Ending back at his uncle’s with no memory of the past few months, his ‘emptiness’ was heartbreaking.

I love how the author uses magic both in its healing manifestation and in its destructive force. Excellent use of the match factories in the plot too! It is obvious the author has researched. A blending of fact and of course, fiction.

The build-up to the cliffhanger was amazing. I was so tense! I’m looking forward to finding out how the consequences play out in Witch Hunt (due to be published in June so not long to wait).

I can’t end my review without mentioning the covers. Love the symbols and the fact that we never see our main character’s full facial features. There’s an animated cover of Witch Finder on the author’s website.

I would like to thank the publishers for pre-approval via Netgalley.

The Other Side of Morning
The Other Side of Morning
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Conflict and drama - just as powerful as the other novels at Meridan Cross, 4 May 2014
Having read When Tomorrow Comes (2011) and Between Today and Yesterday (2012) I was interested to see where the story would take us from those first days in 1967 up to 1996.

In the Other Side of Morning the story focuses on Lucy and Charlotte. Opening in Amankila, we find out that Lucy has been travelling having walked away from her responsibilities. She makes a spontaneous decision which sees her world fall apart and prompts her to move back home.

Charlotte is still secretly dating Christian but we soon see that fall apart as he gets pulled into the life of a successful solo star and song writer.

The family are all together for a bbq to welcome the new people into their community. The new people being Marco and his family who have bought Higher Padbury Manor. Straight away Charlotte is out for revenge thinking that Marco forced her off the road … and so the attraction between them starts to sizzle!

I’m pleased to say that the conflict and drama I’ve become accustomed to in Jo Lambert’s writing is evident and just as powerful in the Other Side of Morning for the next generation of this community.

Marco’s step-mother is arrogant and spiteful and responsible for so much grief! Marco himself is a real dream and I found myself falling for what he represents in the story (painful, painful to watch those ignorant men in the village misunderstand thanks to Kayte). Rosanna is a naïve and sheltered girl who is so very easily led by Therese but no wonder she falls for Marco …

There was one total shock in the story. I really didn’t see something quite so traumatic happening …

It was great being back with the next generation at Meridan Cross. There is enough back story that you can read each book as a standalone but I would suggest you start at the beginning.

I would like to thank the author for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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