Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Book review: Summer at Firefly Beach by Jenny Hale


A totally emotional, gripping page-turner from the bestselling author of The Summer Houseabout the importance of family, re-discovering who you are, and the magic of finding true love under the summer sun. Perfect for fans of Mary Alice Monroe, Nancy Thayer and Susan Mallery.

Hallie Flynn’s favorite place in the world is her great Aunt Clara’s beautiful beachside house, with its inviting wraparound porch and enchanting views across the sparkling turquoise ocean. For Hallie, going to Firefly Beach, filled with magical memories, feels like coming home, but in one moment Hallie is left broken-hearted when her adored Aunt Clara passes away…

As always, Aunt Clara has thought of everything. In her last letter she included a bucket list Hallie wrote as a child, for Hallie to complete. Leaving her dead-end job and predictable schedule, Hallie returns to Firefly beach and embraces Aunt Clara’s words. All the time her childhood best friend Ben Murray, with his golden charm and infuriating ability to be right all the time, is by her side.

Spending the summer with Ben, as they enjoy drinks on the pier and endless talks stretched out in the soft sand, Hallie begins to remember the things that matter most to her. But following the bucket list isn’t an easy journey. It forces her to face the pain of her past as she starts to fall for the person who has been there for her all along...

Just as her heart is healing, an encounter with a newcomer to the beach town, wealthy and talented photographer Gavin Wilson, leaves her questioning her future and shows her she has to make a difficult decision that could mean losing everything.

Will Hallie be able to fulfil Aunt Clara’s last wish and change her life? Or will a secret she’s been keeping destroy her new beginning—and the chance to experience true love?

My thoughts...

Some stories are created to capture your heart and add extra meaning to your life and I can certainly say that this was one of those books. Losing someone special is one of the hardest roads to travel in life and having recently lost both of my parents this narrative spoke to me on many levels. Everyone deals with grief in a different way but the captivating element of this story was the 'love letters' that Clara wrote to family members before passing. These gorgeous letters wove amongst the storyline keeping Clara's spirit alive and vivid as the story played out in an enchanting and moving manner.

The writing was warm and captured the essence of love lost and gained, of grief in all its ugly glory and of new dreams and adventures coming to life and taking flight. Spending time amongst the Flynn/Eubanks family was an honour and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this story. Jenny Hale has a gift for creating stories that pull you in, heart and soul, and this book was no different.

Hallie was a gorgeous character who we met at a crossroads in her life. Her vulnerability was endearing and my heart went out to her on a number of occasions as we travelled on her journey together. The friendship she had with Ben, that dates back to school years, was bursting off the pages with undeniable chemistry and from the opening moments I was already hoping for a happy ending. But I must say that my star character is Hank.....from his stubborn ways down to his unwavering love for Clara he had me hooked as he stole the show.

Summer at Firefly Beach is a moving story that will have you reaching for the tissues in no time. I loved everything about this book and as usual I can't wait to read more from Jenny Hale in the future.

Read and reviewed with kind permission by Bookouture.

#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogging #bookreview #booklove

About the author...

When I graduated college, one of my friends said, "Look out for this one; she's going to be an author one day." Despite being an avid reader and a natural storyteller, it wasn't until that very moment that the idea of writing novels occurred to me.

Sometimes our friends can see the things that we can't.

While I didn't start straight away, that comment sowed a seed and several years, two children, and hundreds of thousands of words later, I completed a novel that I felt was worthy of publication. The result was Coming Home for Christmas, a heart-warming story about the magic of love at Christmas, and 2017 TV movie on The Hallmark Channel. 

The rest is history. 

When I'm not writing, I'm a mother of two boys and a wife to a very supportive husband.

Author Social Media Links:

Monday, 17 June 2019

Book review: Something to Live For by Richard Roper

Something to Live For by Richard Roper

Picture the scene. It’s Monday morning and you’re making a cup of tea when someone casually asks how your weekend was.

‘Oh, I just had a quiet one,’ you’ll say, because the truth was you spent the last 48 hours eating crisps and performing Torvill and Dean's Bolero routine with your confused cat. What I’m trying to say is that we all tell white lies. Unfortunately for Andrew, the protagonist of this book, his has got rather out of hand, leaving him with a choice: stay where he is – lonely, unfulfilled, but comfortable – or tell the truth and risk his life falling apart for a chance to be happy.
Andrew’s story is inspired by an article about the council workers who deal with situations when someone dies alone. Their days are spent sifting through the ephemera of those who’ve slipped through the cracks. While the council workers are required to make funeral arrangements, they are under no obligation to attend them. Yet they do, sometimes dozens a year, just to make sure at least someone is there. Sometimes the smallest gestures can be the most meaningful.
This is Andrew’s story. I hope you like it.

My thoughts...

Some stories capture your heart and your soul and will stay with you for a lifetime.....this is one of those books. From the opening paragraph until the concluding word I was mesmerised by the tale that came to life on the page before my eyes. Life is never straight forward, it is messy with moments of heartbreak and uncertainty and this book showcases life in all its ugly glory in an unapologetic manner.

Andrew is a complex figure and I'm not sure I fully understoodd him by the end....I was gradually introduced to the inner workings of his mind layer by layer as the story progressed and I was eager to know more. My heart went out to him on a number of occasions with his choices and attitude to life and he's certainly a character I won't forget in a hurry. Peggy was like a burst of sunshine lifting off the pages in a Ying and Yang fashion to offset Andrews intriguing approach to life. I loved watching their stories collide and develop as the book progressed and I found myself reading at lightening speed to see where they would take me next.

The writing was incredible.....it had an honest approach that was extremely refreshing and a witty retort at the turn of each and every page. The subject matter throughout did hover on the dark side but the dry wit and upbeat tones kept the story balanced to perfection to prevent the narrative diving head first into the dark and gloomy. I can't describe how special this book is....all I can say is it is a must read for everyone.

Something to Live For is a refreshing and honest look at life and love. I couldn't have loved this book anymore if I tried and I know you will all love it as much as me. So grab your nearest copy today and dive in....you won't be disappointed.

Thank you to Orion and Tracy at Compulsive Readers for including me in this incredible blog tour.

#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogging #bookreview #booklove

About the Author...

Richard Roper was inspired by an article he read about the council workers who deal with situations when someone dies alone. Their days are spent sifting through the ephemera of those who've slipped through the cracks, searching for clues to a next of kin. Council workers are under no obligation to attend the funerals. Yet they do, sometimes dozens of them a year, just to make sure at least someone is there.
Richard Roper lives in London. SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR is his first novel.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Book review: The Sunday Girl by Pip Drysdale

Sunday Girl by Pip Drysdale

Some love affairs change you forever. Someone comes into your orbit and swivels you on your axis, like the wind working on a rooftop weather vane. And when they leave, as the wind always does, you are different; you have a new direction. And it’s not always north.’

    Any woman who’s ever been involved with a bad, bad man and been dumped will understand what it feels like to be broken, broken-hearted and bent on revenge.

    Taylor Bishop is hurt, angry and wants to destroy Angus Hollingsworth in the way he destroyed her: ‘Insidiously. Irreparably. Like a puzzle he’d slowly dissembled … stolen a couple of pieces from, and then discarded, knowing that nobody would ever be able to put it back together ever again.’

    So Taylor consults The Art of War and makes a plan. Then she takes the next irrevocable step – one that will change her life forever.

Things start to spiral out of her control – and The Sunday Girl becomes impossible to put down.

My thoughts...

Well that was certainly something else! What a book......I can't describe how all encompassing it was! I was pulled into this narrative tangle, of love gone wrong, and I didn't come up for breath until the closing sentence.

The storyline wove a tangled web of lies, deceit and one upmanship. It was a psychological game of cat and mouse that left me chilled to the bone. The toxic relationship between Angus and Taylor dominanted the whole book in a way that had me on the edge of my seat. I found that I couldn't turn the pages fast enough as the story twisted and turned and kept me guessing right until the end.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned....but this book is so much more than a revenge plot. It took psychological manipulation to another degree. Between the two, they managed to manipulate and corrupt each others lives to a frightening level. But Angus's twisted mind was off the charts and my heart went out to Taylor and the level of horror she had to endure.

The Sunday Girl is a chilling ride that left me stone cold. If psychological thrillers are your thing then this is definitely one for your tbr pile.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster and Anne at Random Things Tours for letting me take part in such a fabulous blog tour.

#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogging #bookreview #booklove

About the author...

PIP DRYSDALE is a writer, actor and musician who grew up in Africa and Australia. At 20 she moved to New York to study acting, worked in indie films and off-off Broadway theatre, started writing songs and made four records. After graduating with a BA in English, Pip moved to London where she dated some interesting men and played shows across Europe. The Sunday Girl is her first novel and she is working on a second.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Book review: The Silver Sting by Angela Dandy

The Silver Sting by Angela Dandy

It has been thirteen years since the elderly residents of Magnolia Court were scammed out of a comfortable retirement by an unscrupulous developer who took their money and ran.

A twist of fate leads Gabby, Uncle Max and Aunt Hetty’s niece to uncover the developer’s whereabouts.

Pointed in the right direction by Gabby, the residents draw on their life skills to overcome one obstacle after another in order to recover what is theirs by right.

No one should underestimate the tenacity and ingenuity of this charming and endearing bunch of senior citizens. Age and infirmity are set aside as they set out on their quest to seek retribution.

In Uncle Max’s own words: "I believe that our little ruse could well go down in history as an example of what can be achieved when people, irrespective of their age, pool their skills and work together as a team. Regrettably, we cannot write the story – none of us would like to spend the rest of our days at Her Majesty’s pleasure – but maybe someday someone will write it for us…”

My thoughts...

Ooohhhh I absolutely loved this book! It was filled to the brim with deception, duplicity, just desserts, justice and revenge served cold. The narrative pulled me into a world where one man's conscience knew no bounds and the lengths taken to fuel a conman exterior was astounding.

The storyline gradually introduced you to each and every character caught up in this world of mayhem.....I don't want to start dissecting the plot as it will disclose hints and spoilers and for me, the best way to appreciate this book is to let it gradually unravel before your eyes in the way that the author intends it to. So for now everything you need to know is in the blurb above.

It's always a refreshing change to meet characters in a book who are over a certain age. The Silver Sting crew are extremely special individuals and it was a pure privilege to get to know them along this journey. But for me, the outstanding character award goes to Gabby......her life has not been easy and she has faced her fair share of heartache, but her love and devotion for doing what is right shines like a beacon of hope in this story and I was championing her on every step of the way.

The Silver Sting is without a doubt a book you do not want to miss out on. I laughed and cheered and can even own up to a few air grabs along the way.....it was a joy from start to finish and I know you will all enjoy it too.

Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for letting me take part in such a fabulous blog tour.

#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogging #bookreview #booklove

About the Author

Angela Dandy is the author of thrillers, 'Lakeside' and 'The Silver Sting' and several published short stories. A retired project manager, Angela has travelled widely and enjoys spending time with people of all ages and walks of life. Angela's aim in writing thrillers is to aspire and capture the imagination of her readers by weaving colourful and resourceful characters into her carefully crafted plots. Most importantly she aims to entertain! Angela is a member of Stratford-upon-Avon based Bardstown Writers and Stratford Playwrights groups. When not ensconced in her office writing, Angela likes nothing more than to visit the plethora of theatres on her doorstep or to wake the neighbours when firing up her throaty classic car at unearthly hours of the morning! About 'Lakeside' (Goodreads): "Ingenious and beautifully written, the page-turner of a plot makes this compelling reading... Full of surprises right through to the final denouement."

Book review: The Baobab Beach Retreat by Kate Frost

The Baobab Beach Retreat by Kate Frost

An ex-husband, two potential lovers, one reckless decision. Will Connie ever be happy in love?

When Connie Stone leaves behind a cheating husband and heartache in the UK for her aunt's beach retreat, the last thing she wants is for her life to once again be complicated by men. 
Yet when her past follows her to Tanzania, her time to heal is short-lived and a selfish act shatters her hopes for a fresh start. An unexpected return to the UK reveals a long-hidden family secret that Connie has to deal with before she can decide the direction her life should take. 
Getting over a broken heart was never going to be easy. Can Connie put the past to rest and find peace and love in a country far from home?

My thoughts...

With the stunning planes of Africa set as the backdrop to this story you know you're in for something special. This book instantly pulled me in with its wild and exotic charm and I soaked up the whole story in one sitting. A warm and welcoming beach retreat was there to greet me and I fell head over heels in love with this story.

The narrative swept me away with its journey of heartache and road to recovery. Jeep safari's, storms, love lost and gained and a quest to find answers were seen along the way....I really loved each and every moment.

The writing had a warm and easy style about it that left me wanting more. From the wild and wonderful characters down to the beach retreat setting of dreams I was hooked and read at lighting speed as I found I couldn't digitally turn the pages fast enough.

The Baobab Beach Retreat has all the ingredients for a perfect summer read. It's an exotic escape that will enchant and entertain you and I'm sad that it has now come to an end.

Thank you to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for letting me take part in this tour.

#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogging #bookreview #booklove

About the Author

Kate Frost has wanted to be an author ever since she wrote her first novel during the long months she spent off school following open heart surgery when she was seven. The novel was called London's Burning and was a time travel story set during the Great Fire of London. Over the years Kate has worked in a cinema, a bookshop, a factory and at NHS Direct. She's also worked as ground staff at Edgebaston Tennis Tournament and as a Supporting Artist in the films Vanity Fair, King Arthur and The Duchess. Kate has a MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and has also taught lifewriting to Creative Writing undergraduates there. Kate lives in the UK with her husband, young son and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and spends her days writing fiction for adults and children, and not keeping on top of the housework.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Book review: Summer Season on the Seafront by Katie Ginger

Summer Season on the Seafront

In the little town of Greenley-on-Sea, summer has arrived. The turquoise waters of the sea sparkle in the sunlight and along the beach’s promenade, holiday-makers spill from ice-cream parlours and vintage shops.
For Sarah, summer brings the chance for a fresh start. As well as playing Miranda in the Greenley Players’ production of The Tempest (where she’ll get to spend loads of time with her best friends Lottie and Sid) she finally feels ready to find love again after surviving heartbreak. Could handsome colleague Dr Finn Macdonald be the very man she’s looking for?
Famous actor Nate finds himself hiding out in Greenley whilst a potentially career-ruining scandal blows over. But when the Greenley Players get wind of his arrival, they draft him in to help out with their performance – and Nate certainly doesn’t bank on his instant connection with the beautiful woman in the lead role…
As the temperature rises and the Players’ performance draws closer, can Sarah and Nate overcome their pasts and find love again?

My thoughts...

There's certainly 'no business like showbusiness' when the Greenley Players are in full swing. It was a joy to be back with the gang in all their thespian glory and witness the wild and wonderful antics leading up to this year's performance of The Tempest.

Someone somewhere said that 'the course of true love never did run smooth' and these wise words are still a true fit for today's lessons in love. The spotlight in this story is on Sarah, and boy is her life going through the mill at the moment. From wayward father's, smouldering doctors down to heart throb famous actors, her road to love and happiness is taking unexpected left turns, causing chaos, confusion and hurt along the way.

Sarah is a sweetheart and a dream of a character who I loved getting to know better. Her life has been touched by plenty of heartache and as a new fan I was cheering her on from the sidelines to get that much needed happy ending. As for the rest of the gang......well it felt like grabbing a coffee and a catch up with old friends. My favourite am-dram players were in fine voice and I loved every minute of my time being back in Greenley-on-Sea.

This is one of my favourite series out there at the moment and this latest installment did not disappoint. Love, laughter and nerves a plenty were bursting off the pages.....the Greenley Players have certainly done it again - another perfect performance. Bring on book three!

Thank you to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for letting me take part in this tour.

#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogging #bookreview #booklove

About the Author

KATIE GINGER lives in the South East of England, by the sea, and apart from holidays to very hot places where you can sit by a pool and drink cocktails as big your head, she wouldn’t really want to be anywhere else.
When she’s not writing, Katie spends her time drinking gin, or with her husband, trying to keep alive her two children: Ellie, who believes everything in life should be done as a musical number from a West End show; and Sam, who is basically a monkey with a boy’s face. And there’s also their adorable King Charles Spaniel, Wotsit (yes, he is named after the crisps!).
For more about Katie you can visit her website: www.keginger.com, find her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/KatieGAuthor, or follow her on Twitter: @KatieGAuthor

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Q&A: Author Jon Rance

Good Grief by Jon Rance

Today I have something a bit different for you all.......a Q&A with the fabulous Jon Rance to be exact. Jon's newest book Good Grief is out in the big wide world for you all to download and dive in and I will be sharing my review for this fabulous book later on in the month so keep your eyes peeled for that post. In the mean time I have grilled Jon on his life as a writer - from his processes, influences and writing style, right down to his favourite childhood books and I hope you will all enjoy his thoughts and answers as much as I do. 


What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before you begin writing?

Hello! Thanks so much for having me on your blog. That's a great first question. Research is such a funny thing because for my genre there isn't as much to do as say historical fiction or crime thrillers, but I do research quite a bit. For me one of the most important things about writing a novel is creating a believable universe. My novels are usually set in and around London. I love London. It's one of my favourite places in the world. I have set books all over London and so it's important to me that I try and capture that part of the city. My new book, Good Grief, it's set mostly around Shepherd's Bush and Notting Hill, and so I've used a lot of places from that area. I always squeeze in certain pubs, landmarks, parks, and places because if helps create that universe. I hope when you read the book, you'll get a real feel for it.

Is your writing style character or plot driven?

For me both are incredibly important, but I suppose I always start off with characters. Writing in my genre the characters are so important to the story and they often drive the plot forwards. For Good Grief, I started with a simple idea. Two very different people meet at a grief counselling group and help each other move on. That was the plot or at least the idea. Then I started filling it full of characters and out of those characters came the story line. So yes, both are important and they both need to work to make a novel a success, but for me characters are the most important. I read something once that said something like, you'd read a fairly ordinary story but with great characters, but you'd never read a great plot with boring characters. I think this is probably true.

What's the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Haha great question. For me it's the details. Writing from a female perspective, as I've done in a few books, is hard but I don't think it's that different from writing from a male point of view. The trick, I think, is adding in the details. It's like a creating a place, you add in a few small details and it can make it feel more like that place. With writing from a female perspective, I try and sprinkle in some details that a man would never think of and I hope that helps create the character. In Good Grief, I write the book from a male and female perspective. Also from a sixty-year-old and a twenty-six-year-old perspective, so all very different. For me, I tried to really focus on what made these characters who they were as opposed to male or female or old or young. For example, the character of Holly, a young, successful woman, her main thing is that she had a very positive, focused, career minded, organised life. She had created a world that made her comfortable and happy. At twenty-six she had everything she wanted, a dream job at the BBC, a perfect husband, everything had fallen into place. Then when her husband dies, her whole life fell apart. I wanted to see how she would cope with that. So, I suppose to answer your question, for me it's more characters than whether they're male or female.

What was the hardest scene to write?

Probably the first and the last. When I start a book, I often re-write the opening many times because it's so important. Readers need to feel immediately hooked into the story and so the opening is so important. I know I read the first page of every book I ever buy and more often than not, if the first page doesn't grab me, I don't buy it. Also, the last scene is important because it's what you're left with. It's so important, I think, that the end of the book have a resonance. It needs to stay with you.

Do you believe in writer's block?

Not really. I think it's often hard and can feel like you're bashing every word out and it's not working, but I don't believe in writer's block. Being an author is a job and like any job sometimes it's wonderful and easy and you feel like every word is flowing out of you, and then at other times it feels like you can't write a sentence. But whatever is happening you sit down and you write. So, some days I'll write 3000 words and others 300, but that's writing. I do sometimes, if I'm not feeling it, work on something else for a few days. But I'm never not writing.

What are your influences for writing?

My main influences for writing have always been comedic. When I was young, I remember reading the Adrian Mole diaries and I fell in love with them. They somehow captured what it was to be young at that time. I was born in 1975 and so I was very much a child of the eighties. I know, I'm old! Then, when I was in my early twenties and I was thinking of becoming an author, I read two books that really influenced me. The first was, High Fidelity by Nick Hornby and the second was, Turning Thirty by Mike Gayle. When I read them, I knew I wanted to write something similar. My first book, This Thirtysomething Life, was written in a diary format like Adrian Mole and was definitely inspired by Nick Hornby and Mike Gayle. I loved that male confessional style and it really defined my work.

Since publishing your first book has your writing process changed?

I think I'm more organised now. When I wrote my first book, as I didn't really know what I was doing, it took about two years. I didn't have much of a plan. I just knew it had to be about 80,000 words long and make some sort of sense. I just wrote it and then finished, which is when I realised it was terrible. The plot had more holes than a sponge, the characters were two dimensional, and it wasn't funny. I edited my first book for over a year before it was done - it was that bad! Now when I start a book, I have pages of notes on characters, plot, scenes, settings, and I'm so much more prepared. The thing about writing is that you just have to do it to get better. It's about sitting down and writing, and you learn so much with every book.

What was your favourite childhood book(s)?

As mentioned above, I loved the Adrian Mole diaries, but before that it was The Wind in the Willows and everything by Roald Dahl. My favourite Roald Dahl book was probably Fantastic Mr Fox. It's great because my children read them now!

What was an early experience where you learned that writing has power?

Great question. As a child I was an avid reader. I've always loved reading. I ended up studying English Literature at university. In terms of learning that writing has power, I think for me it was realising that writing can help people through difficult times. I remember after This Thirtysomething Life was published, I got quite a few emails from readers who told me how much it helped them. From people who were sick and just needed to laugh from men who were going through the same things as the character in the book. I think it made me realise that me sitting down at a computer and writing a novel can help a stranger overcome something difficult in their life. I know writing has power because people have told me, and it's something that really inspires me to keep writing.

What does literary success look like to you?

To me success is just to keep writing. Contrary to popular belief, most writers don't make a fortune - I wish we did! So, for me making enough money to just keep writing is my goal. Of course, I have daydreams where my books get turned into films or TV shows and I earn a fortune, but that's the same as you wishing you'd win the lottery because that's what it's like. In reality, I just love writing and so success is people reading my books and enjoying them. Thanks so much for the interview!

About the book...

Two strangers. Two deaths. One unlikely friendship that will change everything.

Holly Moon has it all. The perfect husband, the dream media career, then at age twenty-six her husband dies and just like that her world comes crashing down around her.

Black cab driver, Phil Turner, is sixty when his wife dies of cancer. They've been married for forty years. He doesn't know any different.

When Holly and Phil meet at Good Grief support group, they strike up an unlikely friendship. Two strangers with nothing in common except they don't know how to move on. Perhaps together and with the aid of their 'definitely-not-a-bucket-list' they'll find a way. But it's not as easy as just ticking things off a list and soon their happiness and lives hinge on one thing...each other.

Set in London, Good Grief is a love letter to the healing power of friendship and learning that even in the depths of grief the most magical things can happen.

About the author...

Jon Rance is the author of seven novels: the Kindle top ten bestseller, This Thirtysomething Life, Happy Endings (both published by Hodder and Stoughton), This Family Life, Sunday Dinners, Dan And Nat Got Married, About Us, and The Summer Holidays Survival Guide. He's also the author of the Christmas novella, A Notting Hill Christmas.

Jon studied English Literature at Middlesex University, London, before going travelling and meeting his American wife in Australia. Jon loves comedy (especially sitcoms), the films of Richard Curtis, travelling and tea. He just turned forty, which is a terrifying time, so his books might get a bit edgier and possibly angrier as a result.

Jon writes dramatic, romantic, comedy fiction similar to the work of Mike Gayle, Matt Dunn, Nick Spalding and David Nicholls.

Email: jonrance@yahoo.com
Website: www.jonrance.co.uk
Twitter: @JRance75
Instagram: jonranceauthor