Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Book review: The Foundling by Stacey Halls

The Foundling by Stacey Halls

Two women, bound by a child, a nd a secret that will change everything . . .

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London's Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst, that Clara has died in care, she is astonished when she is told she has already claimed her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl - and why.

Less than a mile from Bess's lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend - an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital - persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

From the bestselling author of The Familiars comes this captivating story of mothers and daughters, class and power, and love against the greatest of odds . . .

My thoughts... 

Stacey Halls has done it again....another stunning story that I couldn't get enough of. Her writing has this wonderful way of picking you up and transporting you back in time. I could vividly feel each and every moment. Smells and sights came alive on the pages before my eyes and I felt steadfast in London of 1754 and what a time that was to. The narrative captured this moment of history in real vivid glory and Stacey's extraordinary way of bringing the past to life added something special to this heartfelt story.

A mother's love knows no bounds and boy did this story portray that in spades. Bess's plight was heartbreaking and desperation was the driving force behind her narrative. As far as characters go she was exceptional and I found I couldn't put the book down as the pages turned themselves to get to those all important answers at the end. But let us not forget Alexandra Callard here....what a complex and confusing character to say the least. She had me baffled, angry, moved and finally brought round to acceptance by the end but I loved this range of emotions brought out by one character. Stacey certainly knows how to fully form a world of the past and each and every character added something of importance to this story. 

Having never heard of The Foundling I was gripped with this element and found it tragic and moving beyond measure. The research eased its way nearly into the storyline to elevate and educate the reader of these heartbreaking glimpses of the past. All in all this book was moving and magical in turn. Well done Stacey on yet another superb story. I'm a huge fan. 

Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for letting me take part in this fabulous blog tour. 

#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogging #bookreview #booklove 

About the author... 

Stacey Halls was born in 1989 and grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and has written for publications including the GuardianStylistPsychologiesThe IndependentThe Sun and Fabulous. Her first book The Familiars was the bestselling debut novel of 2019. The Foundling is her second novel.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Book Review: Killing Them With Kindness by Andy Paulcroft

Killing Them With Kindness

Deirdre Cossette is the self appointed carer for the elderly on The Avenue and all of her friends have stories to tell. Margery, whose comfortable life was destroyed by a knock on the door. Stan, who made a mistake as a young footballer which cost him his friends and his self-respect. Marina, whose slim and stylish figure hides a terrible secret from the summer of Live Aid. And, Oliver and Archie, who have survived everything from post war homophobia to a family tragedy – and they have done it together. Deirdre believes that everyone should have a choice. If they want to live on a diet of cakes, drink the alcoholic equivalent of a small hydrotherapy pool, or take on a toy boy lover in spite of a dodgy heart, Deirdre believes it is their right to do so. If they remember her in their wills afterwards, that’s not her fault, is it? However, not everyone agrees with her. When disgruntled relatives from the present meet up with disgruntled ghosts from her past, Deirdre discovers the cost of being kind.

Purchase Links:

My thoughts... 

Well what can I say about this completely quirky piece of wonder? I feel I must start and say that I absolutely loved it! From start to finish it kept me on my toes with it's witty retorts and caricatures that beggared belief. The writing was engaging, thought provoking, emotive, heartwarming and a laugh a minute at the turn of each and every page. 

The outstanding element of this story comes in the form of it's stellar cast. Not a single character is left wanting. Each body that graced the pages was fully formed with a well thought through mission to add something spectacular to this clever narrative. I loved and loathed them all in equal measure and found that they were perfectly flawed and entertaining to boot. 

The fast paced narrative whizzed across the pages and made many surprising reveals along the way. I will not dive into any detail as to do so would spoil this carefully thought out plot and I would hate for you to receive any unwanted hints or spoilers to hinder your reading experience. But this is one entertaining story not to miss. 

Killing them with Kindness is filled with fabulously flawed fellows that will entertain and delight you from start to finish. I can't encourage you enough to add this dazzling delight to you tbr mountain and dive in as soon as you won't be disappointed in the slightest. 

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

#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogging #bookreview #booklove 

About the author... 

Andy Paulcroft grew up in Weston-super-Mare, and his love of books started when he borrowed his sister’s copy of Five Run Away Together and exaggerated a minor illness in order to finish reading it. He has since worked as a chef in France, Switzerland, Corsica and the North Highlands of Scotland before settling as a catering manager at a boarding school in Dorset. After many years of writing two to three chapters of a book before discarding it, he finally published his first novel Postcards From Another Life – in December 2017. The wonderful feeling of completing a novel was only surpassed by receiving a positive reaction from people who had read it. He retired from catering and recently published his second novel Killing Them With Kindness. He is now working on his third book.

Follow Andy

@Andy.Paulcroft (Facebook Page)

Friday, 14 February 2020

Book review: New Beginnings at Glendale Hall by Victoria Walters

New Beginnings at Glendale Hall by Victoria Walters

Two weddings and a baby…but who will get their happy ever after?
Emily Prescott’s life isn’t going to plan. Her dreams of starting a family with fireman boyfriend Greg and opening up her own bakery in London feel like they will never come true. So when a wedding
invite arrives from her oldest friend, Beth Williams, Emily is thrilled. Not only will she get to return to her childhood home in Scotland, but best of all – Beth wants her to bake the wedding cake!

However, her excitement is cut short when she discovers that Greg has cheated on her. Devastated by his betrayal, Emily flees to Glendale Hall, Beth’s grand estate in the Highlands, and tries to distracts herself with helping with the wedding plans, but that’s not easy when Greg keeps hounding her to forgive him. Then she’s introduced to Glendale’s new young and handsome vicar Brodie, and things become even more complicated.
When Emily discovers that Greg’s betrayal runs deeper than she imagined, she finds herself with a whole host of decisions to make, especially when she discovers her long awaited dream is finally being fulfilled – at exactly at the wrong time…
Escape to Scotland and fall in love with this gorgeous and inspiring romance from the bestselling author of Coming Home to Glendale Hall! The perfect feel-good read for fans of Holly Martin, Heidi Swain, and Jill Mansell.

My thoughts... 

Oh how great it is to be back in Glendale my all time favourite fictional pocket of the world where problems turn into possibilities and cake is served by the bucket load. I was welcomed back into the fold like a long lost pal and I can't describe how great it was to catch up with Beth and the gang, but boy what a story we had to sink our teeth into.....poor Emily, everything but the kitchen sink was thrown into that girls storyline and my heart went out to her at the turn of each and every page. I mean Victoria how mean....but as they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and Emily rose to your challenge and came back fighting like the trooper she is and I for one was cheering on the sidelines for this gem of a girl.

Is it too early to talk about Brodie is??? Ok I'll come back to Brodie in a bit. So where was I? Ah yes....Emily and her plight was at the forefront to this installment in the Glendale series and let me tell you it's certainly one story not to miss. As far as characters go I hand on heart love this girl. Her strength and resistance knew no bounds and I was in awe of her determination to bounce back and fulfill her dreams. She's the kind of girl I could be friends with....of course it has nothing to do with the fact she makes a mean red velvet cupcake at all! But I would definitely need to be at the front of the Weight Watchers line if I lived in Glendale that's for sure because they either all go for sneaky early morning marathons or cakes are calorie free in that part of the world. I'm hoping for the latter because I can't run for toffee.

Brodie??? Still not the right time!!! Ok so onto Emily and Greg and their gargantuan mountain of problems. I mean I can see why some people would take an instant dislike to Greg but I simply couldn't find it in my heart to hate him. His struggles and demons were real and his want to get better provided many a touching moment in the narrative. Addiction is the real deal and it can tear apart families beyond repair and this story thread was moving on so many levels. As they say sometimes love just isn't enough and we have to think with our heads not our hearts....but this is Emily's journey and her decisions to make.

Right I can't hold off any longer I have to confess and it's a huge confession to make.....Victoria Walters you have made me fall madly in love with a minister and I was all for catching the next train to Glendale and hot footing it straight to church. I mean religion has never been so still my beating heart. But what a guy! I wanted to shove any girl who came withing a few few of our dashing demi-god out of the way to jump in there myself. He was just too good to be true and I was living for every moment he walked onto the pages. Can I request a Brodie spin off please? I'm sure we can find enough material to drool over.

But in all honesty what a treat it has been to be back among friends. We had weddings, cake, heartbreak, babies, hot ministers, cake, a new business, addiction, cake, friendship, family and did I mention cake? What's not to love? New Beginnings at Glendale Hall is like a great big hug that you don't want to end....warm, familiar and loving in the perfect way possible. I'm in love with this series and I shall be sitting here patiently waiting for my next visit to Glendale gladly day dreaming of Brodie 💕

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

#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogging #bookreview #booklove

About the author... 

Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. She's the author of three novels, THE SECOND LOVE OF MY LIFE, SUMMER AT THE KINDNESS CAFÉ, and COMING HOME TO GLENDALE HALL. She has been chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for an RNA award. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star, and her books have won wide reader acclaim.

As well as being an author, Victoria also works as a Waterstones bookseller. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry (named after Harry Potter), and loves books, clothes, music, going out for tea and cake, and posting photos on Instagram.

Find out more about Victoria by following on Instagram at @vickyjwalters, on Twitter at @Vicky_Walters or by visiting her blog at:

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Cover Reveal for Vivian Conroy's An Exhibition of Murder

Cover Reveal for Vivian Conroy's An Exhibition of Murder

What better way to get through a hump day Wednesday than by celebrating with another fabulous cover reveal and today I have the gorgeous new image for the latest instalment in Vivian Conroy's cosy mystery series and you can all agree it's an absolute beauty. The Vienna back drop really sets the scene and the lone figure adds that air of mystery.....I just want to dive right in and soak it all up. But how could you fail to love a story set in the glamorous days of the past so pass me a glass of champagne as I'm off to the roaring 20's  - who's coming with me?

About the book...

Former Scotland Yard investigator Jasper is back on the case, this time in the glamorous and cultured city of Vienna.
The opening of an archaeological exhibition brings with it intrigue and evil as a fabled cursed golden death mask lives up to its dark past and death strikes at the exhibition. While digging up pieces of history, these archaeologists have also been burying secrets – deadly ones – and it’s up to Jasper to uncover the truth before the murderer strikes again.
With a nosy journalist desperate to breathe life into the rumour that the mask brings bad luck to anyone possessing it, and the police eager to blame a famous cat burglar who recently pulled off a string of daring robberies, Jasper is on his own in bringing the true culprit to light.
Fans of Agatha Christie and Robert Thorogood will love this fourth book in the Murder Will Follow series.

About the author...

Armed with cheese and chocolate, Vivian Conroy sits down to create the aspirational settings, characters with secrets up their sleeves, and clever plots which took several of her mysteries to #1 bestseller in multiple categories on Amazon US and Canada. Away from the keyboard, Vivian likes to hike (especially in the Swiss mountains), hunt for the perfect cheese cake and experience the joy in every-day life, be it a fiery sunset, a gorgeous full moon or that errant butterfly descending on the windowsill.

Book review: Sofa Surfer by Malcolm Duffy

Sofa Surfer by Malcolm Duffy

15-year-old Tyler’s teenage angst turns to outright rebellion when his family leave London for a new life in Yorkshire. He’s angry with his parents about the upheaval and furious at losing his home. With only the dog to confide in, Tyler has no idea that a chance meeting with a skinny girl called Spider will lead him into a world he never even knew existed. Spider is sofa surfing and Tyler finds himself spinning a tangled web of lies in his efforts to help her escape her world of fear and insecurity.
Sofa Surfer shows how empathy and action can help those without a home to go to. As with his widely praised debut Me Mam. Me Dad. Me., Malcolm Duffy finds humour and heart even in dire situations. Relevant, warm and rewarding Sofa Surfer is about what happens when going home isn’t an option.

My thoughts... 

Well this captivating story certainly hit the spot...I devoured it entirely in one sitting as I found I simply couldn't put it down. The characters were too intoxicating and the narrative pulled me in hook, line and sinker with a story that came alive on the pages before my eyes.

Character creation is one of my favourite elements of any story and this book did not disappoint I can tell too that. Teenage angst came alive for Tyler in those initial scenes when his parents kindly picked him up from his perfectly fine life in London and dropped him into the middle of Yorkshire to try and find his feet again. To say that he was unimpressed is putting things midly....but what a journey we take with Tyler and one that happens to put us in the path to meet the incredible Spider.

Oh Spider, how we love you! I loved everything about this character, from the word go, but I must admit being a fellow Geordie I might be a bit biased as the dialect made me feel instantly at home within the pages. But biased feelings aside Spider fully deserves any readers love as her story is a difficult pill to swollow. Homelessness is a dark and lonely topic to dive into but when it comes in the form of a young teenage girl then the bleak and outright terrifying elements of the story come alive in all their raw and truthful realities. I was highly impressed that this book chose to delve into these darker truths that life can hold for people and it didn't shy away from the horrifying dangers that are out there for those living homeless on the streets. I applaud Malcolm Duffy for this eye opening narrative that is much needed in the UKYA market for all of our younger readers out there.

So I urge you all to go out and grab your nearest copy of Surfer Surfer and silently witness Tyler find his feet in life and learn who he is and what he can offer the world. His empathy towards Spider and her current situation in life is magnificent and provides many magical moments in this story. Sofa Surfer is a raw and truthful take on life in all its ugly glory and its a very much needed story for our YA market today. 

Read and reviewed with kind permission by Zephyr Books. 

#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogging #bookreview #booklove

About the author... 

Malcolm Duffy is a Geordie born and bred. His debut novel, Me Mam. Me Dad. Me., inspired by his time at Comic Relief visiting projects that support women and children who have suffered as a result of domestic abuse, was published by Zephyr in 2017. It has so far won the YA category of the Sheffield Children's Book Award 2019, the Redbridge Children's Book Award 2019 and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Prize 2019, the Bristol Teen Book Award 2019 and a host of other prizes.

Book review: The Neighbours by Nicola Gill

The Neighbours by Nicola Gill

To get up from rock bottom, you’ve got to take the stairs…

Some women have it all. Others are thirty-four and rent a tiny flat alone because they recently found their long-term boyfriend in bed with their boss. Ginny Taylor is certain her life can’t get any worse. But then she meets her downstairs neighbour…

Cassie Frost was once a beloved actress, but after a recent mishap she desperately needs a new publicist. And Ginny is a publicist who desperately needs a job – but can she be persuaded to work for the prickly woman who lives below her floorboards?

Ginny and Cassie are two very different women, but they have more in common than they’d care to imagine (or admit). And when their worlds collide, they realise that sometimes – just sometimes – bad neighbours become good friends…

My thoughts... 

As far as debut novels go this is a roaring success on every level. From character creations through to narrative choices this book has it all in spades. I was pulled head first into this thoughtful tale from the word go and I didn't want it to ever come to an end, which says it all really.

The writing was warm and witty and I was welcomed in like an old friend. The narration provided a smorgasbord of themes and topics to sink my teeth into and the pages seemed to turn themselves to reveal a frank look at life, love and friendship that we can all relate to on some level.

This book boats a fine ensemble of characters to be proud of and I loved them all in equal measure. Ginny was an all out success as far as leading ladies go. On first introduction her life is about to hit a downward spiral into the the pit of dispair taking my heartfelt sorrow with her. Life can be cruel at times and when every area of your life has hit a bump in the road it's hard to push through. But what a comeback! Silently witnessing Ginny claim back her life was an utter joy, I was right there for every tear, laugh and scream of frustration and I can't think of anyone better to have at the helm of this story.

But my, hand on heart, favourite element of this story has to be the unlikely and unique friendship between Ginny and Cassie . Chalk and cheese doesn't even come close to initially describe this pair, but somehow it seems to gel and work to create some of the most magical moments seen in this story.

Nicola Gill's writing was not afraid to touch on the darker elements that life can throw in your direction and this narrative took some deeply moving turns throughout its journey. Depression effects more people than we likely know of and this book took on this issue with a frank and honest approach to remind us all that we're in this journey together and we are not alone.

The Neighbours is an all out successful story of life, love and friendship that will warm your heart and move you beyond measure. I loved each and every word on those pages and can't wait to see what Nicola Gill brings to the table next.

Read and reviewed with kind permission by Avon.

#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogging #bookreview #booklove 

About the author... 

Nicola Gill lives in London with her husband and two sons. At the age of five, when all of the other little girls wanted to be ballet dancers, she decided she wanted to be an author. Her ballet teacher was very relieved.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Book review: A Dozen Second Chances by Kate Field

A Dozen Second Chances by Kate Field

What are the chances that twelve little tokens could change a life?

Seventeen years ago, Eve Roberts had the wonderful life she’d always dreamed of: a degree in archaeology, a gorgeous boyfriend, and exciting plans to travel the world with him, working on digs. But when her sister Faye died, the life Eve knew ended too. Faye’s daughter Caitlyn came to live with Eve, her boyfriend left, and she quickly gave up on her dreams.
Now approaching her fortieth birthday, Eve faces the prospect of an empty nest as Caitlyn is leaving home. Caitlyn gives Eve a set of twelve ‘Be Kind to Yourself’ vouchers, telling her that she has to start living for herself again, and that she should fill one in every time she does something to treat herself.
With her very first voucher, Eve’s life will change its course. But with eleven more vouchers to go, can Eve learn to put herself first and follow the dreams she’s kept secret for so long? Because life is for living – and as she well knows, it’s too short to waste even a moment…

My thoughts... 

I've been sitting here staring at a blank screen for the last ten minutes trying to find ways in which I can pour my heart out for the love I feel for this book. At first glance I was convinced that this would be a gorgeous light and easy story to entertain and delight, I mean don't get me wrong this book is entertaining and delightful in spades, but it is so much more than that.

Right from the word go the character creations came alive with such heartfelt realness, I felt every laughter, tear and painful memory with a keen vivid rawness that had my heart breaking with love for these people I had only just met. But what an ensemble of characters they were...Eve was an outright star. Her selflessness and fierce strength and protection towards her family was emanating from each and every sentence. The self-sacrifices she had rightfully chosen in life added to her charms and credibility and I was a top fan from the start. But Gran stole the show....her penchant for life was infectious and I was living for what ever witty outburst or antic she would do next. She really was a role model for grabbing life with both hands and not letting the rat race grind you down. What an all out shinning star and a true credit to this story. 

Relationships in all shapes and forms were a major theme in this book. Multiple fine threads of thought on this topic wove neatly throughout the narrative creating profound and thoughtful voices that many readers could relate to. Life is about learning and growing and forgiveness and second chances play a huge part in that journey. Self love is also a form of forgiveness, as we are often the toughest on ourselves. This beautiful book spoke to me on many levels and I felt a keen sense of understanding as I turned each and every page. 

A Dozen Second Chances is a thoughtful and profound piece that captured my heart from the very first word. I sincerely hope this is not the last we here from this stunning set of characters as I'm missing Gran already. 

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

#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogging #bookreview #booklove

About the author... 

Kate Field lives in Lancashire with her husband, daughter and cat. Her debut novel, The Magic of Ramblings, won the Romantic Novelists' Association Joan Hessayon Award for new writers.

Kate can be contacted on Twitter @katehaswords or through her Facebook page at