Saturday, 30 April 2016

Book tour: The Daughters of Red Hill Hall - Kathleen McGurl




When Gemma discovers a pair of ancient duelling pistols encrusted with rubies in the basement of the local museum, she is immediately intrigued…

On a fateful night in 1838 two sisters were found shot in the cellars of Red Hill Hall. And when Gemma begins to delve deeper into their history she begins to realise that the secrets of that night are darker than anyone had ever imagined.

As the shocking events of the past begin to unravel, Gemma’s own life starts to fall apart. Loyalties are tested and suddenly it seems as if history is repeating itself, as Gemma learns that female friendships can be deadly…


My opinion.
With a stunningly gorgeous and intriguing cover (and blurb) like that, I knew I just had to read The Daughters of Red Hill Hall. 
To say that the author, Kathleen McGurl, gave her story some unexpected twists and turns would be a massive understatement. Just when I thought I had the characters and the story-line figured out, she threw one curve ball after the other. Loved it.So I'm definitely not claiming I knew what was coming, but I did feel uneasy with both S. and N. from the start. I did not trust them and the amount of trust both R. and G. put into their friendships was at times even frustrating. The levels of betrayal were so horrible I actually felt physically uncomfortable and closed the book a few times to take a deep breath and remind myself that it was fictional, after all.
The story alternates between past and present and I enjoyed piecing the puzzle together (although maybe it would have been ok. to have some details of the past revealed at a later moment in the story, along with Gemma's research. Because now we always discovered the next "puzzle piece" right before she did thanks to the alternating chapters).
I truly enjoyed reading The Daughters of Red Hill Hall and felt invested in its characters from the start. A surprising and captivating read.



 



 About Kathleen McGurl. Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, with her husband, sons and cats. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present., and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.

When not writing or working at her full-time job in IT, she likes to go out running or swimming, both of which she does rather slowly. She is definitely quicker at writing.

You can find out more at her website, http://kathleenmcgurl.com/, or follow her on Twitter @KathMcGurl .


Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Book tour: Trivial Pursuits - Aven Ellis (Chicago On Ice #2)


 Trivial Pursuits Chapter Reveal

Trivial Pursuits by Aven Ellis 

Series: Chicago on Ice #2 
Also in this series: The Aubrey Rules 

Published by Soul Mate Publishing on 20th April 2016 

Landon Holder is exactly the kind of man Livy Adams should stay far away from. The flashy, flirty star defenseman for the Chicago Buffaloes is known for hooking up with women all over Chicago. Livy finds herself attracted to Landy, but his sexy good looks and charm are irrelevant. She had her heart shattered by a cheating athlete in college, and Livy vows she will never let her judgment lapse like that ever again. Yet Livy knows she can’t spend the rest of her life focusing on building her jewelry line during the day and her evenings playing TriviaPlayOrPass! on her phone, either. Even though she does have fabulous conversations with a player named Scott, it’s time to get back in the game—in real life. While Livy tries to figure out her career path in jewelry design, she knows it’s time to take a chance on romance again, too. But in a strange twist of fate, Livy finds herself getting to know Landy on a much deeper level. Sometimes people aren’t always as they appear to be. Just like a diamond, you have to look closely to see true clarity. As Livy unwraps the layers around Landy to see the man behind the image, will she have a change of heart? Can she leave her past behind for a future with Landy? Or is it all a game of trivial pursuits?


My opinion.
At the risk of now saying this with every new novel Aven Ellis publishes, Trivial Pursuits must be my favourite of hers yet.
I always love her sexy and lovable heroes and the 'best friend', creative girls she introduces to her readers. But something about Landon and Livy was... dare I say 'different'? ;-) It's unbelievable how she does it, but Landon must be the sexiest man ever. And he only exists on page. The way she describes not only his looks, but the attraction there is between him and Livy on both an emotional and physical level is astonishing. I actually felt myself falling in love with this man!
And Livy, ofcourse, is just a star. I liked her from the get go and I can't say this enough, but I love how Aven's main girls keep getting stronger with every book. Yes, Livy has her insecurities, but she's also not afraid to be proud of her talents and acknowledge her own strengths and gifts.
She's also the funniest of Aven's girls yet (and the Trivial game 'hook' is brilliant!!).
Another thing I love is how Aven is creating another wonderful tight-knit group of friends and relatives with the Chicago on Ice series. As always, you can read the books in any order you like, but there's just something wonderful about catching up with the characters you've come to know and love in previous books.
I could go on and on, but bottom line is: I so enjoyed reading this book and falling in love with yet another book boyfriend created by Aven Ellis.


 

Read the first chapter here.




ABOUT AVEN ELLIS. Aven Ellis has been writing fiction since she was sixteen. She studied communications at a large Midwestern university, and after graduation, Aven worked as a reporter for a community newspaper, followed by a stint at a public relations agency. But writing about city council meetings and restaurant franchises was not as much fun as writing for young women trying to figure out their careers and potential boyfriends. So Aven got herself a job in television that allowed her to write at night. Connectivity is Aven’s debut novel; Waiting For Prince Harry and Chronicles of a Lincoln Park Fashionista (New Adult romantic comedy) will be published next year. Aven lives in Dallas with her family. When she is not writing, Aven enjoys shopping, cooking, connecting with friends on social media, and watching any show that features Gordon Ramsay.

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Check out more fabulous books by the amazing Aven Ellis:
   
  


Saturday, 23 April 2016

Book tour: One Moment At Sunrise - Karen Aldous + GIVEAWAY



Nothing will ever be the same again…

Evie Grant has spent two years hidden away in a quiet French village, longing to escape her beautiful villa with its blue-shuttered windows. Maybe this summer, the father of her child will keep his broken promises and return to whisk her away to another life. One way or another, Evie’s determined to stop feeling like his dirty little secret…

Yet when a mysterious stranger almost knocks Evie off her bicycle early one morning, her world begins to change in ways she never expected. Embarking on a painful journey of self-discovery, Evie begins to face her darkest fears and rebuild her fragile dreams. But can she ever truly break free from her gilded cage and learn to love again?
 


My opinion.
This is a difficult review to write. While reading I felt like the book consists of two separate parts. I struggled with the first one. The events, descriptions and dialogue were often confusing and I had trouble truly connecting to the story and its characters. All that changed when the story reached its halfway point. I'm not sure what it was that brought the change, but the story all of a sudden took off. I felt more invested in the characters and the events of the story and really enjoyed reading it.
Evie's passion in the end made me excited and I loved how One Moment At Sunrise was more about her journey to independence and going after her dreams than it was about romance. Don't get me wrong, that was an important and lovely part of the story, but I really liked how she kept any romantic developments at a distance (as much as possible - 'cause you have to give her credit for her restraint!) until she was able to fend for herself and her daughter. Speaking of which, Charlotte must be the most adorable and patient two-year old ever - instantly fell in love with her.
One Moment At Sunrise surprised me and transported me to a sunny, romantic French village and made me long for a summer holiday.



 

About Karen Aldous: Karen Aldous enjoys village life on the edge of the north-downs in Kent with easy access to the buzz of London. Not only does she love the passive pleasures of reading and writing, she also craves the more active pursuits with her family and friends such as walking, cycling and skiing especially when they involve food and wine!
Karen gets much of her inspiration from her travels and if she had to choose, France, Greece, Switzerland, Italy and the USA would be her favourites. However, wherever she goes, she discovers a new character emerges in 'Karen's World'. She likes to write about strong independent women who can direct their own lives - but struggle to control them! And, of course there's always a gorgeous hunk or two!

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8212628.Karen_Aldous?from_search=true&search_version=service

Website: http://www.karenaldous.co.uk/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/karenAldous_


GIVEAWAY

This giveaway is for a £15 Amazon Voucher and a copy of the book as first prize 
and a copy of the book as second prize.




Monday, 18 April 2016

Chapter reveal: Trivial Pursuits - Aven Ellis



Trivial Pursuits Chapter Reveal
Trivial Pursuits by Aven Ellis 

Also in this series: The Aubrey Rules 

Published by Soul Mate Publishing on 20th April 2016 


Landon Holder is exactly the kind of man Livy Adams should stay far away from. The flashy, flirty star defenseman for the Chicago Buffaloes is known for hooking up with women all over Chicago. Livy finds herself attracted to Landy, but his sexy good looks and charm are irrelevant. She had her heart shattered by a cheating athlete in college, and Livy vows she will never let her judgment lapse like that ever again. Yet Livy knows she can’t spend the rest of her life focusing on building her jewelry line during the day and her evenings playing TriviaPlayOrPass! on her phone, either. Even though she does have fabulous conversations with a player named Scott, it’s time to get back in the game—in real life. While Livy tries to figure out her career path in jewelry design, she knows it’s time to take a chance on romance again, too. But in a strange twist of fate, Livy finds herself getting to know Landy on a much deeper level. Sometimes people aren’t always as they appear to be. Just like a diamond, you have to look closely to see true clarity. As Livy unwraps the layers around Landy to see the man behind the image, will she have a change of heart? Can she leave her past behind for a future with Landy? Or is it all a game of trivial pursuits?

Chapter One

TriviaPlayOrPass! Who is the fourth president of the United States of America? DesignerA, play or pass to Scott921? 

 I stare at the blinking cursor on my cell phone. Embarrassing. I’ve lived in the United States my entire twenty-two years of existence, made A’s in history in both high school and at the University of Washington, yet have no clue who the fourth president of my country was. Shameful. Of course, it’s probably more shameful to admit I’m addicted to TriviaPlayOrPass! You know, that trivia game app that makes you feel smart because you know more than complete strangers. Focus, Livy, I tell myself. I’m super competitive. I don’t want to pass this question. Who was the fourth president? Polk? Where was he? Washington, Adams, and then who? Who was third? Crap. If I don’t know the third president, I won’t know the fourth. How is it I can recite all the words to any song off any Taylor Swift album but not remember presidents? Although my musical knowledge has to count for something, right? Oooh. Hopefully a question relating to Taylor will come up soon in Pop Culture. I’d crush those. 
Beep! 
Player DesignerA play or pass to Scott921. 
Damn it. I hit ‘pass,’ and know Scott921 will DM in a matter of seconds. Five, four, three— Seriously? The American passes a USA PRESIDENT question to the Canadian? This should have been easy points DesignerA. You’re on notice. I’m kicking your ass this round. 
 I snicker. I knew that would be his response. I’ve only been playing Scott921 with this app for a few weeks, but I like talking to him. One, he’s a good trivia player, so I like a challenge. Two, he’s very, very funny. I’m a sucker for anyone who can make me laugh. He sent me a message on a question the first time we played, and we’ve been chatting during games ever since. Of course, for all I know he’s some twelve-year-old boy sitting in his room up in Canada avoiding homework. Or married and sixty and living in Akron, Ohio. You can be anyone online. Take me, for example. My real name is Livy, but of course I don’t want to use that online. Too many weirdoes out there. Since I’m a jewelry designer, I go by DesignerA, with the A coming from my last name of Adams. And I’m sure Scott921 has no idea he’s talking to an unemployed artist who exists on freelance design work and had to move back in with her parents in suburban Chicago the day after college graduation back in December. Temporary setback. That’s all this is. But right now, I need to focus on my trivia match. And answer Scott921’s question. 
  My brain can only store so much knowledge. What’s up there has to be critical information. Besides, can you even name the 4th Prime Minister of Canada? 
 I hit ‘send’ and wait for him to answer. Ha, bet I stumped him with that one. Especially if he is an American living in Akron. 
  I can. Sir John Thompson. Died in office of a heart attack. And the first Catholic prime minister. How’s that for an answer? 
 Wow. He did know that. Okay, I’m removing American off the list of alternate identity options for Scott921. I reply. 
 Remind me never to pass any historical questions to you ever again. 
The screen on the phone pops over to the game, so now I can see if Scott921 got it right or wrong.
  
TriviaPlayOrPass! Both DesignerA and Scott921 do not answer correctly. The 4th President of the United States was James Madison. 

 Madison! Damn it. I shoot a message to Scott921. 
  I should have remembered this. I feel like eating a raspberry Zinger to console myself on my woeful recollection of American presidents. 
 Scott921 responds. 
  I have the most random conversations with you. What the hell is a ZINGER? 
 So he might be twelve, or eighty, but I do get a kick out of talking to him. I’ve never come out and asked Scott921 for his story. Like how old he is, where he lives, what does he do for a living? He’s online. There’s no point to anything beyond our trivia matches, or our little exchanges, even though I’ve come to look forward to them. Hmm. If only Scott921 lived in the Chicago area, was single, and looked like Landon Holder, the star defenseman of the Chicago Buffaloes, I’d propose marriage to him upon first sight. But since that’s as likely as me remembering all the presidents of the United States and knowing all the prime ministers of Canada, I forget that plan and type a reply instead. 
  A delicious, prepackaged snack cake. Not on the clean eating plan. 
 I can see the ‘typing’ icon flash so I know he’s replying. 
  I don’t think I want anything called a Zinger, DesignerA. Hey, I gotta get to bed. Tired tonight. Rematch tomorrow? 
 I reply sure. I’ll send him a request late, because that’s when he’s usually online. I say goodnight and set my phone on my nightstand. I glance at the clock. Eleven-thirty. I should get to bed, too. I have some bracelets I want to work on in the morning—custom cuff bracelets I was commissioned to do as bridesmaids gifts—and then I have my first day volunteering at an after-school program for children at a local elementary school. I shut off the light and slip under the covers of my bed. I can hear the wind howling outside my window, and it’s snowing heavily this February night. It’s so cold. I have a mountain of blankets on my bed, and I’m still freezing. It got cold in Seattle, but nothing like these Chicago winters. I find myself having to adjust all over again since moving back home. Anyway, I’m excited about my volunteer work. The program is designed for children whose families might not be able to afford after-school experiences for their children. I’m going to teach art tomorrow. Ironically, I’m doing an art project in honor of Presidents’ Day, which of course is celebrated this month. At least I know what Lincoln and Washington look like so I can successfully teach the art project, I muse. I yawn, feeling tiredness wash over me. Definitely time for bed. And new adventures tomorrow. 
 *** 
 I park my Jeep Renegade SUV in the school parking lot and turn my windshield wipers off. I’m so eager to work with the kids today. Whenever I do a private art lesson, I have the best time teaching children. To see their faces when they create something, to watch them connect with the mediums of art and experience joy from the process—well, that brings me as much joy as it does them. And while the weather outside is cold, snowy, and dreary, I feel the exact opposite inside. I feel bubbly, bright, and alive on this February day. I tug on my gloves and put on my cream cable-knit cap, knowing full well my naturally blond platinum locks will be a static mess when I get inside, but better than soppy wet hair from the heavy snow that is falling right now. I flip down the visor and check my appearance one last time. My pale blue-green eyes stare back at me. I see I have none of my tan-pink butter LONDON LIPPY lipstick on my teeth, and my nose isn’t shiny. An un-shiny nose is a complete victory at this time of the afternoon, I dare say. I pop the visor back up and open the door, bracing for the brutal elements. Snow whips across my face, and I quickly yank my Deena & Ozzy geometric print infinity scarf up over my chin. Damn, it’s freezing out here. I hurry around to the trunk and open it. I lift out my canvas bag of supplies, which is nearly blown out of my hand by an arctic blast. Maybe I should have stayed in Seattle. Because this weather is ridiculous. I shut the trunk and head toward the front of the school. The children will be released in fifteen minutes, but I was told to get here early so I could sign into the front office as a visitor. I already had my background check completed, and I should be able to receive my volunteer ID today. I step inside the building and wipe my black Wellingtons on the mat. I head into the office, where an older woman pauses her typing and stares at me. For a moment, I’m distracted. Does she have a perm? Her dyed, jet-black hair is in tight, tiny ringlets all over her head. Her bangs look like mattress coils. “Yes?” she asks, peering over the glasses that have slid all the way down her nose. I glance at her name plate, which has an apple with a worm coming out of it and the words ‘Mrs. Martin, Receptionist’ next to it. “Hello, Mrs. Martin, I’m Livy Adams, and I’m here to teach art at the after-school activity program,” I say, tugging off my gloves. “It’s nice to meet you. And I’m so happy to be here today.” She studies me as if she has zero interest in anything I said. Good Lord, her name plate should say, ‘Mrs. Martin, Beaten Down By the Job Receptionist.’ “Sign in,” she barks, nodding in the direction of the computer. “It’s self-explanatory.” Then she pushes her glasses back up onto the bridge of her nose and resumes typing. The phone rings, and she punches a button on her keyboard. “Morning View Elementary,” she says gruffly. AlrightAll right, so it’s not just me. Mrs. Martin obviously has no time for pleasantries, whether you’re standing in front of her or on the phone. I move to the computer and follow the instructions for registering as a visitor. Another woman checks my driver’s license, verifies that I’m on the list for volunteer badges, and I should get it from the director of the after-care program today. I get my temporary badge and am directed to the cafeteria as the bell rings, signaling the end of school. Suddenly the air is filled with the sounds of excited chatter, shoes and rubber snow boots squeaking against the tiled floors, and laughter. I smile, remembering how much I enjoyed elementary school. I loved learning. And I lived for art class, where I was able to paint and use clay. I see children heading into the cafeteria, and I follow them. Backpacks are slung onto tables, coats piled up, and snacks are being served by the after-school coordinators at the back of the room. I make my way toward Darcy Reeves, the lead coordinator for the program here at Morning View. She hands a little girl a bag of pretzels and a carton of juice and then glances up at me. “Hey, Livy, so glad you could make it,” Darcy says, smiling brightly at me. “The kids are thrilled you’re here today.” “I can’t wait to get started,” I say honestly, setting my bag and Longchamp tote down on the cafeteria table next to her. “I have some fun presidential art planned for them.” “They love when young people come in,” Darcy says. “Be prepared to be mobbed.” I laugh as I unbutton my coat. “I can deal with that.” After I’m introduced to co-teachers Valerie and Sarah and given my volunteer ID badge, I slip out of my winter coat. I drape it on the table, over my tote. I hesitate for a moment. I should take off my hat, but if I do, I’ll show horrible static hair. Oh, well, it can entertain the kids if my locks are the equivalent of Albert Einstein’s crazy hair. I can say it’s artistic. I remove my cable-knit hat and the charge instantly sweeps through my hair. Oh gosh. It’s standing up, I can tell. I try to smooth my hand over it, but I can still feel it sticking out. I’m about to go to the restroom to see if I can spray it back into submission with hairspray, but then I hear children start yelling. “Landy!” “Landy’s here!” “Landon!” Wait. Wait. I only know one Landon. The star player for the Chicago Buffaloes hockey team. He goes by Landy. My best friend Aubrey is dating his best friend on the team, Captain Beckett Riley. So I’ve met him a few times, and while I know he’s the captain of hook ups on that team, I do find him incredibly attractive. I wrinkle my nose. I’m being crazy. What on earth would Landy Holder be doing here? No. Different Landy. “Hey, kids, I told you guys I’d be back, remember?” Oh, I know that sexy, scratchy, like he’s-just-rolled-out-of-bed voice. And I turn around and find myself staring into the vivid blue eyes of Landy Holder.
ABOUT AVEN ELLIS. Aven Ellis has been writing fiction since she was sixteen. She studied communications at a large Midwestern university, and after graduation, Aven worked as a reporter for a community newspaper, followed by a stint at a public relations agency. But writing about city council meetings and restaurant franchises was not as much fun as writing for young women trying to figure out their careers and potential boyfriends. So Aven got herself a job in television that allowed her to write at night. Connectivity is Aven’s debut novel; Waiting For Prince Harry and Chronicles of a Lincoln Park Fashionista (New Adult romantic comedy) will be published next year. Aven lives in Dallas with her family. When she is not writing, Aven enjoys shopping, cooking, connecting with friends on social media, and watching any show that features Gordon Ramsay.


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Friday, 15 April 2016

Book review: All Is Not Forgotten - Wendy Walker


Jenny’s wounds have healed.
An experimental treatment has removed the memory of a horrific and degrading attack.
She is moving on with her life.

That was the plan. Except it’s not working out.
Something has gone. The light in the eyes. And something was left behind. A scar. On her lower back. Which she can’t stop touching.
And she’s getting worse.
Not to mention the fact that her father is obsessed with finding her attacker and her mother is in toxic denial.

It may be that the only way to uncover what’s wrong is to help Jenny recover her memory. But even if it can be done, pulling at the threads of her suppressed experience will unravel much more than the truth about her attack.

And that could destroy as much as it heals.



Wow. This is probably the most intense book I have ever read. At some points in the story I couldn't manage reading more than a few chapters at a time, just because I felt so overwhelmed by it. Which, I must admit, didn't always feel like a good thing. Although I can only praise an author with the talent of captivating her readers like that.
The business-like narrative of the story alternates between parts of first person accounts and testimonies, and an almost clinical analysis. That stark contrast between the professional distance in the descriptions and the very(!) explicit tales of both sexual nature and emotional trauma were startling. 
The narrator of the story starts off as an anonymous voice. Only after a couple of chapters is his identity revealed and even then he somehow still felt like a bystander. Someone telling a story, letting you in on the different players involved and their stories without playing an active part himself. Slowly but surely his role changes and it caught me by surprise. I suddenly had no idea where to place him. Did I respect him? Or fear him?
Nothing in this book was expected. Every single character has so much depth and even though all those little pieces of the puzzle (both the main story line and the character's individual stories) were given in an a-chronological order, I never felt lost in all those details.
All Is Not Forgotten brought up so many mixed feelings and emotions and was truly the most mind-boggling reading experience I've had. 


OUT JULY 2016


Sunday, 3 April 2016

Cover reveal: Perfume & Promises - Ellen Faith






Today I am very excited to reveal the cover of Ellen Faith’s latest book Perfume and Promises.

Perfume and Promises by Ellen Faith 
Published by Self-Published on 21st May 2016 

Chloe Richards is a small town girl with a big heart. At least, that’s what the local folk of Rosehip Village think. But when her parents turn up on her doorstep asking for help, her secret past is about to be revealed. Being the daughter of Hollywood royalty was never going to be easy, but at 19, Chloe Richards managed to leave that life behind along with the scandals that almost destroyed her. A fresh start was all she needed, and a fresh start was what she got in Rosehip. Girlfriend of a local bookshop owner, best friends with fiercely loyal café owner and owner of a perfume business herself, Chloe has a happy life. But her parents are about to turn her perfect life on its head. Again. What do you do when you’re torn between loyalty and protecting yourself? Should you trust your heart when your head is telling you not to?


 

About Ellen Faith. Ellen lives in the wonderful county of Yorkshire, England where she spends most of her time baking, eating, baking, and eating. Occasionally she does leave the house to go to the cinema or do some food shopping though. After spending years with an overactive imagination, she decided to put all the magic in her head to some good use and put finger to laptop where The Story of Us was born and became her debut novel. She loves to travel, her favourite destinations so far have all been in America, hence the love of all things, and all people, American. The food rocks pretty hard too, she ate until her jeans begged her to stop whilst she was there. True fact. Aside from day dreaming and eating, Ellen is a sucker for a lolcat, penguins and monkeys - she has never claimed to be normal.



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