Wednesday 29 November 2017

The Secret Child
Kerry Fisher 

Guest Review
Julie Williams
Publication Day!

I loved this emotion packed story from the start it has characters that I really connected with. 

Set in Portsmouth in the 1960’s part 1 is told by Susie who is forced to give birth to her second child In a Mother and Baby place and then give her baby boy Edward up for adoption. Susie finds the whole experience harrowing and insists on caring for her son for the first six weeks of his life, which she cherishes, before the fateful day arrives where he is handed over to complete strangers.

As her story unfolds we learn of the impact this event has had on Susie, the torment she endures and the effect of those around her. Often her husband Danny and two daughters Louise and Grace bear the brunt of the guilt and regret she feels, yet she is unable to tell them her secret. 

With the birth date etched firmly in her mind Susie secretly reminisces each year causing even further relationship problems in the household. Her friend Jeanie is the only other person to share her true feelings with but Susie is always on tenterhooks in case she lets slip her secret.  

Part 2 is told by grace and I found her story particularly captivating as the relationship between her and her Mother is turned on its head with heart felt outcomes. As the truth reveals itself it is like a bomb exploding. How each member of the family react is not predictable. 

My thanks to Net Galley for the ARC, this is my own opinion . 

The Last of The Shackdwellers
Lena Kennedy

Release Date: 18th January 2018

The evocative autobiography of the author Lena Kennedy who was sixty-four before her first novel, `Maggie` was accepted for publication. This book examines the inspiration for her novels, such as the bestsellers Eve`s Apples and Lily My Lovely and describes the long search for a publisher, as well as her joy at finding success.

In this, story of her life as a writer, Lena Kennedy looks back on the formative influences that shaped her career, such as the idyllic summers spent at her family`s holiday home in Kent, where among the `shackdwellers` of the woods and the simple beauty of the countryside she began to realise her growing need to express her feeling through writing. But the realisation of the need to write is only the beginning, as Lena soon acknowledged when her career took its first faltering steps, and the setback late in life that nearly robbed her of many year``s work. The Last of the Shackdwellers is told in her inimitable style, sheds much light on the life of this much-loved writer. Lena Kennedy died in August l986.

Amazon UK - 
Amazon US -


Lena Kennedy (June 15, 1914 - August 1 1986), was an English author. Her books were mostly historical romantic fiction set in and around the East End of London where she lived for all her life. Some of her books, including her autobiography, were published posthumously. She appeared, as a subject, on the television programme 

This Is Your Life shortly before her death in 1986. 

Amazon Author page:

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Can You Keep a Secret
Karen Penny
Blog Tour

Guest Review
Julie Williams

Thank  you to the lovely Julie Williams for agreeing to review this book for me as part of the Blog Tour. Find her review below, sounds intriguing........


This mystery, crime fiction novel is mainly central to Thornbury Hall home to the Bagenal family.  The book has alternating chapters between 1991 and 2017.

It took me awhile to get hold my attention as at first I thought the story was just about eccentric adults and posh stuck up kids which I couldn’t relate to. However, I persevered with the story and clues were hinted at which finally revealed secrets hidden in both eras.

This novel reminds me of a mishmash between Downton Abbey and Murder She Wrote.

In 1991 Rachael Bagenal and her friend Lindsey just 15 years old are enjoying life with weekends and holidays spent at Thornbury Hall with Rachael’s parents who accept Lindsey as one of their own and Patrick Rachael’s brother and his friends. The place appears so lively and fun, something that Lindsey doesn’t have within her own family. This quite idyllic time comes to an abrupt end when the sudden death of Peter Bagenal occurs leaving everyone in shock and they go their separate ways. 

It is not until 2017 when Lindsey, now a forensic photographer, meets up again with Patrick that she falls in love with him and a reunion weekend is planned for a final shindig at the now crumbling Thornbury Hall before it is sold. Hidden secrets are finally revealed with horrendous consequences that left me shocked and aghast. 

Thank you to Julie for asking me to guest review this book on her blog. 

Friday 17 November 2017

The Missing twin
By Alex day
Published 18/08/17
Harper Collins –Killer Reads
Guest Review
Julie Williams

This gripping psychological thriller debut was hard to put down, it had my attention throughout which is just what I like for this book genre. 

Edie has always felt inferior to her twin sister Laura but of course they are the best of friends.  When Laura joins Edie on a surprise visit to the gorgeous island where Edie is now living and working she couldn’t be happier to have her sister there. However this joy is short lived as no sooner that Laura arrives, she goes missing without a trace and Edie cannot seem to get any help in her search, even from her boyfriend Vuk, who is a particularly strange character.

Fatima’s story tells a completely different one yet it is also addictive to read. When Fatima arrives home with her twin girls she cannot believe what she is faced with, as her home has been reduced to rubble and her beloved husband dead. She decides that she must make the torturous journey to find a new country to give both her and the girls a better life away from the war torn country they have lived in. Fatima endures trauma and tragedy beyond belief yet it is these experiences that give her a new strength and courage.

The chapters of this book alternate between Edie and Fatima’s stories and when reading I kept wondering just they are connected.

A compelling read with a massive twist at the end that is so unexpected.

5 Stars *****

My thanks to Net Galley for the ARC this is my own honest opinion. 

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Christmas at The Candied Apple Café
Katherine Garbera
Blog Tour

Christmas at the Candied Apple Café
There’s nothing so magical as Christmas in New York…
Santa is coming to New York!
Snow is falling, excitement is high and the delicious scent of chocolate drifts along Fifth Avenue – the Candied Apple Café is ready for Christmas! And no one is busier than publicist Iona Summerlin. With so much to do, she doesn’t have time to think about men, dating, or the fact her last boyfriend ditched her for her brother… Relationships are off the menu!
Hotel boss Mads Eriksson is not looking forward to the first Christmas since losing his wife. His six-year-old daughter Sofia has lost her belief in Christmas magic along with her mother, and he has no idea what to do. But an unusually festive business meeting at the Candied Apple – and meeting the beautiful Iona – starts to defrost Mads’ frozen heart, and suddenly life seems full of light and sparkle again.
If only they dare to believe, maybe all their Christmas dreams will come true!

Amazon UK: 
Amazon US: 

Christmas Q&A for Boon’s Bookcase

1. What is your favourite holiday hostessing tip?

My best hostessing tip is to find easy to make recipes that are easy to replenish and serve. I tend to make too much food when I know people are coming over but I’d hate for anyone to go hungry. I always have a crudité tray with dips on it and I have a chaffing dish that I make queso salsa in and set out with tortilla chips.  Here is the recipe for my queso:

1 pound cheddar cheese, cubed
1/2 cup milk, or as needed
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 (4 ounce) jars of salsa
Place cheese, milk, and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cook until cheese has melted, stirring frequently. Stir in salsa. Add more milk if dip is too thick. Heat through and serve immediately.

2. What is your favourite way to relax over the holidays?
I always plan one night for just my husband and I where we just listen to our Christmas playlist, drink Bailey’s and have the Christmas tree lights on.  We have a quiet night watching the tree and talking.

3. What is your favourite Christmas tradition?
I think it would have to be Christmas Eve. My husband, kids and I always make a seafood dinner that usually includes salmon with a tomato and onion salsa or sometimes handmade lobster ravioli.  Then we watch Home Alone on TV and drink hot chocolate before we all head outside to check and see if we can spot Rudolph-The-Red-Nosed-Reindeer in the sky leading Santa’s sleigh before the kids hang their stockings and head up to bed.

Author Bio 

USA Today bestselling author Katherine Garbera is a two-time Maggie winner who has written more than 60 books. A Florida native who grew up to travel the globe, Katherine now makes her home in the Midlands of the UK with her husband, two children and a very spoiled miniature dachshund. 
Social Media Links  
Twitter @katheringarbera

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Friday 10 November 2017

Last Christmas In Paris – A Novel Of World War 1
By Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb
Guest Review
Julie Williams

Published William Morrow Paperbacks 05/10/17

Last Christmas in Paris is a clever collaboration by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb and what a terrific job they both did in bringing to life the tragedies and hopes during WW1.

The story begins in 1968 but it is the letters written during wartime that tells the very moving tale of just how the brutality of war changes everyone. Evie Elliott, her brother Will and their childhood friend Tom are desperate to serve their country with the belief that the war will be over within months and normality will resume. 

With Will and Tom off to do their bit in 1914 the correspondence begins and becomes quite regular and most welcome especially between Evie and Tom. Evie finds herself desperate for news from the battle grounds while Tom is anxious for the companionship the written words bring. 

When Evie is given the opportunity to become a journalist she is set free to tell the truth of how the effects war is having first hand and not everyone is happy with the content in her column. Evie also takes up the role of delivering post, much to her parents dislike, but to her this position means she is helping the war effort by giving much awaited news to those left behind. Evie also corresponds with her dear friend Alice who has taken a nursing post in France and often writes of her wish for them all to spend Christmas in Paris. All letters are eagerly awaited but those between Evie and Tom are lifelines but neither sadly feels they can declare their love for each other.
I felt all the emotions that this this book offers, which at times are hard to bear. A truly powerful read that has passion, courage and breath holding moments that ooze page after page. 

I was lucky enough to win this book from a lovely book blogger and certainly consider it a contender for book of 2017.

Thursday 9 November 2017

The Fifth Letter 
By Nicola Moriarty

Guest Review
Julie Williams


This is my first read by this author, the cover and synopsis drew me in as well as seeing it on Twitter and Facebook.

It tells the tale of four women now in their thirties who have been best friends since their first day at High school, so over twenty years. Joni, Deb, Trina and Eden follow a tradition and meet up annually for a holiday which is organised by Joni.

This year Joni chooses a house which is in a bit of a remote location in the hope of getting them to reconnect, as she feels they are each so busy with their lives that they are drifting apart as a group. She has also asks them to each write an anonymous letter sharing a secret. These four letters cause quite a stir in their own right but when Joni discovers a fifth letter discarded in the fire grate, suspicion and mistrusts are rife.

I liked the concept of the plot and found myself trying to guess who had written each letter. It transpires that not everyone is honest with their letter and each friend has to decipher between truths and lies. They also discover that none of them lead the perfect life each had imagined and guilt is just one of the emotions that is displayed in the conundrum of this story.

Each of the women has different characteristics and in the beginning I felt that Joni was the strongest, the organiser and the bossiest, but I changed my mind as the story unfolded.

I enjoyed the chapters where Joni had her confessional sessions with Father O’Reilly interesting as the Priest, an outsider of the group, guessed who had written the fifth letter with accuracy and wisdom.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Christmas at Baytree Cottage
Linn B Halton

Genre: Romance/women’s contemporary/holidays
Release Date: 3 Nov 2017
Publisher: Harper Impulse

The countdown to Christmas is usually a magical time, but Elana James is fed up with living on a building site! The renovations on her beautiful cottage – like her heart – have been frozen in limbo ever since she was unexpectedly widowed.
Elana calls in a professional, Luke Stevenson, to help finish the cottage, so her little girl can send letters to Santa up the newly-repaired chimney. Luke’s kind, capable and sexy – but he’s also ten years younger than Elana. So why has her heart decided it’s finally time for a thaw?
The perfect read to curl up by the fire with … for fans of Rebecca Boxall.

 ‘Mum, can we light the log fire tonight?’ Maya looks up at me with eager eyes.
‘I think we should wait until the weekend, darling. There isn’t really time to appreciate it on a school night, is there? Besides, I’m not even sure whether there are any logs left in the store. I promise to get it sorted as soon as I can.’
It was Niall’s job, sorting the fire. He would have booked the chimney sweep in early autumn and had the logs all ready and waiting, stacked neatly against the back wall of the garage. Ironically, last year I was much more organised. I suppose it was one of my coping mechanisms during those raw, early weeks and months. Keep going; keep doing something – anything, so I didn’t have to listen to what was in my head. But I feel bad. Maya will remember that this time last year we spent every evening huddled together on the sofa in front of the fire, reading. Hour upon hour we escaped into alternative worlds inspired by some wonderful authors. Roald Dahl’s Matilda, E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, and Maya’s favourite, Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch, a story of tenderness and triumph. 
It was the very worst of times, but I focused on getting us through it one day at a time. My gut instinct, immediately after the accident, had been to sell the cottage just to escape that prevailing sense that something was missing. Niall was no longer here and it would never, ever be the same again. But soon realisation dawned that Maya needed a sense of continuity; the memories trapped within these walls were a lifeline for her, although a cruelly painful reminder for me. In a way she feels her dad is still here and I can’t take that away from her.


About Linn B Halton

Bristol-born Linn lives in the Forest of Dean, in the UK. She resides there with her lovely husband and cat, Ziggy. She has been writing novels since 2009 and has written short stories for a number of magazines. She is also known for her series of ‘Home by Design’ articles wearing her former interior designer hat.
"I'm a hopeless romantic, self-confessed chocaholic, and lover of coffee. For me, life is about family, friends, and writing. Oh, and the occasional glass of White Grenache ..."
An Amazon UK Top 100 best-selling author with A Cottage in the Country in November 2015, Under The Stars also became a best-selling novel in November 2016. Linn's novels have been short-listed in the UK's Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award.
Linn writes chick lit, romantic comedy, women's contemporary fiction and psychic romance. Publishers include Harper Impulse, Choc Lit and Endeavour Press.

Goodreads Author Page:


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Saturday 4 November 2017

Dark Chapter
Winnie M Li


They say events like this change your life forever. That your
life will never be the same as it was the day before it happened.
Or even two hours before it happened, when I stood waiting
for that bus out of Belfast, along the Falls Road to the west
of the city.
Is it melodramatic to think of life like that? Of a clean split
struck straight down the breadth of your existence, severing
your first twenty-nine years from all the years that come
after? I look across that gap now, an unexpected rift in the
contour of my life, and I long to shout across that ravine to
the younger me who stands on the opposite edge, oblivious to
what lies ahead. She is a distant speck. She seems lost from
my perspective, but in her mind she thinks she knows where
she’s going. There is a hiking guidebook in her hand and a
path that she is following: it will lead here, up this slope, and
then along the edge of a plateau to gain the higher ground
merging with the hills above the city. She does not know who
follows her. She is only thinking of the path ahead. But some
things she cannot anticipate.
I stand now on this side of the ravine, desperate to warn
my earlier self of the person trailing her, skulking from bush

to tree in her wake. Stop! I want to shout. It’s not worth it!
Just give up the trail and go home. But she wouldn’t listen

anyway. She’s too stubborn, too determined to hike this trail
on a day this crisp and clear. And now, it’s too late. She is
in isolated country, and even if she were to turn back, she
would inevitably encounter him, because he is behind her.
Watching her.
By now, she has traversed the slope and found the trail
that runs between a sunlit pasture and the steep incline of the


glen. She pauses for a moment, breathing in the beauty of this
green track, the tree branches arching over the path, the bright
field that stretches to her left. She has escaped the city. This is
where the countryside really begins. It seems like a little bit
of heaven, for one last, peaceful moment. But she is perched
on the edge, and to her right, the ground plunges sharply into
the ravine.
The river below is a distant roar. The air up here smells of
manure and sun and warm grass, and lazy insects drift in the
filtered light beneath the trees. And then, glancing down the
wooded chasm to her right, she sees a figure coming up the
slope, trying to hide in the brush of the forest. Something skips
unnaturally in the beat of her heart. Only then, does she realize
she is being followed.
Now, years later, it is as if I am the one following my
earlier self. Haunting her every step, like some guardian
angel arrived too late. She parts the branches in front of her,
and I do it too, invisibly. She quickens her pace to lengthen
the distance between them, and I fall in step. She instinctively
knows she must reach the open ground before he catches her,
so she tries to cover the last few yards of the path as it clears
a ridge. With an invisible hand, I want to hold back the little
bastard, lock him into position like a rugby player, while
shouting to her to keep on going, to reach the meadow and
then abandon the trail, forget about the hike, just head straight
to the busy road and go home. But I am powerless to stop it.
Events must unfold as they already have.
The past is our past. So I am stranded here on this side
of the ravine, watching as he catches up to her. I don’t want
to see the rest of it. I have replayed it enough times already.
If I could just freeze it there – in that final moment, perched
between the sunlit pasture and the plunging abyss – then
everything would still be fine. Only then, it would not be
my life. It would be someone else’s pleasant stroll through
the Irish countryside on a spring afternoon. But my journey
turned out to be a little different.