Thursday, June 22, 2017

$25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway



To celebrate that Suze has 25,000 twitter followers we're giving away a $25 (or equivalent) Amazon gift card. Good luck!
 
 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

With Love For Bookouture: Guilty by Laura Elliot - Book Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Constance Lawson, a thirteen-year-old girl, is missing. Nobody knows where she is and crime journalist Amanda Bowe insinuates that Constance's uncle Karl has something to do with her disappearance. Karl is being arrested and loses everything he holds dear. His marriage is over, his daughter is being taken away from him, because she moves to another country with her mother, he's being fired from his job and his house is being repossessed by the bank, all of this because of the suggestive words of a vindictive journalist.
 
After Constance's case Amanda's star keeps rising. She has a successful career as a television host, she's married to a rich man and they have a little boy together. She has everything she could possibly want, but she still isn't satisfied. Amanda knows she has enemies, however, she doesn't count on them ruining her life completely. She receives a phone call that changes her world forever. Is it a coincidence or does it have something to do with a case she worked on many years ago?
 
Guilty is a gripping page-turner. Karl is a cheerful man who loves his niece like a daughter. When she disappears he doesn't only have to deal with the stress and grief that are part of such an awful situation, he's also being blamed for all of it. He's being destroyed by a journalist and there's nothing he can do to stop it. My heart ached for the friendly man who only wants to make his loved ones happy. It's heartbreaking to see how easy it is for Amanda to ruin Karl's life. Finding out what would happen to him next kept me on the edge of my seat. I read Guilty in one sitting, I couldn't put it down.
 
Laura Elliot has written a fantastic original story about revenge. Amanda is quite unsympathetic and selfish and it isn't easy to like her. I felt for her at the end, because she's going through a mother's worst nightmare, but I really disliked her at the same time. I loved the ambivalent feelings Guilty gave me. I like a good thought-provoking story and this book definitely falls into that category. The story is layered with a large scale of emotions like grief, indignation, powerlessness, anger, vindictiveness, defeat, confusion, fear and admiration. I loved that broad spectrum and liked the skillful way Laura Elliot manages to play with them until the very end, when everything that happened during the years the story covers comes together in a spectacular finale. Guilty is a terrific compelling story and I highly recommend this amazing book.
 
Advice
 
If you love thrillers that surprise you Guilty is an absolute must-read.
 
About Laura Elliot



Once, for a brief, illusionary spell when I was very small and fanciful, I believed I was a robin. I can’t remember why I decided on a robin rather than one of the other species who frequented my garden. I was probably attracted by its red breast and fearless nature – or admired its celebrity status as a Christmas card icon. I visualised myself flitting in bushes, posing against a snowy background or following furrows of freshly dug earth. I was quite upset when I discussed my metamorphosis with my mother and she, gently but firmly, insisted that I was a child, not a bird. Eventually, to prove her
point she placed me in front of a mirror and I was forced to confront my identity crisis. No wings, no redbreast; just a little girl gifted with a wild and weird imagination. Not that I had any understanding of imagination at the time―or had any inkling of the significance it would play later in my life.

​Like all writers, I was an avid reader throughout my childhood. I kept a torch hidden under my pillow and, after lights out, I burrowed under the blankets, filled with an insatiable desire to reach that last page. In that warm, cocooned space I read until my eyes – or the torch battery – gave out.

 In school, I was constantly in trouble for ‘day-dreaming.’ That’s what my teachers called it, though there were some who believed my pensive moods stemmed from idleness. Without any understanding of the power of imagination, I simply took it for granted that my mind should be elsewhere while my body remained trapped in a school desk. Such adventures. Such travels. Real life drifted over my head and my school reports bore witness to this fact. Nothing imaginary lurking there. I was the square peg in the round hole and have no memory of excelling in any subject. These days, when I meet friends from way back then, they tell me I used to read my poems and essays
out loud to the class. Why can’t I remember those moments?

The way I remember being a robin or, as I grew older, the imaginary ships I sailed, the magical lands I visited? Perhaps, such memories were blanked out under the force a cane or strap, used with vigour to stop my ‘day-dreaming.’ I lived in an era of corporal punishment and my teachers were convinced I would never amount to anything other than a wide-eyed- gazer-into-space.

​They were right. I became a novelist.

It didn’t happen immediately. The route I took was circuitous, via motherhood and a career in journalism. The pleasure I had gained from the books I read as a child attracted me to the world of children’s fiction. Those were the first books I wrote: fantasy, adventure, gritty realism, teen lives and loves. But my characters, like my own children, were growing up and reaching towards the challenges of adulthood. I made a decision to change direction and write for an adult readership.

I’ve written six novels, Fragile Lies, Stolen Child, The Lost Sister (which sells on Amazon.com as The Prodigal Sister) The Betrayal, Sleep Sister and Guilty.

I hope to write many more novels. All I need to do is hold onto the imagination I had when I was too young to understand its power – and was unaware that it is not always necessary to have wings to fly.

I live with my husband, Sean, in the coastal town of Malahide, close to the wonderful Broadmeadow Estuary, which had featured in a number of my novels.

Author links

Website: https://www.lauraelliotauthor.com/
Blog: https://www.lauraelliotauthor.com/blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lauraelliotauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Elliot_Laura
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3033603.Laura_Elliot
Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Laura-Elliot/e/B003E3PQ0E/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Guest post

With Love for Books
By Laura Elliot

Writing about myself—instead of my fictitious characters—what a lovely way to start my day. Thank you ‘With Love for Books’ for inviting me to contribute to your blog. The title sums up everything I feel about books and is the reason I became a writer.

This love affair began in early childhood and continues constant to this day. When I was young, I never believed my hobby would transfer into actually writing books as I believed writers were ‘other people.’ People with enchanted lives, who lived on the crest of inspiration and imagination. I carried this belief with me into a late twenties until I lifted a pen one night, opened a note pad–and the rest is history.

I quickly realised that inspiration and imagination only play a small role in the complex and often mysterious process of writing a novel. Inspiration is the catalyst that launches me into beginning a new book. My imagination gives it flight but keeping an idea in that creative space needs so much more propulsion. It needs discipline, patience, flexibility, tenacity, a love of words, and a deep respect for the reader who will buy my book.

I must be willing to redraft entire sections of the narrative that are not working —and to abandon the lyrical passages that I love but have no function other than self-admiration. On the final draft, I must read and reread the entire manuscript until my eyes blur and the words seem to rise from the screen to mock me with the belief that I’ve just written the worst book of my life.

Writers are not known for their objectivity and my subjectivity—intensified by tiredness and the long, drawn-out process of editing and proofing—takes over at that stage. Usually, after a few days of rest, my optimism returns and I always look forward with pleasure to the release of a new book.

Real-life incidents often cause that initial flash of inspiration. It will become so distilled in the process of turning it into fiction that it’s unrecognisable by the time the book is finished. My novel Stolen Child was inspired by an incident that happened when I was a child and saw a newspaper photograph of a little girl, who had been stolen from her parents when she was three months old. Four years later, she was recovered from the woman who stole her and photographed in her mother’s arms. How terrifying, I thought. To be removed from the

woman she believed to be her mother and handed over to strangers, who were her own flash and blood. Decades later, when writing the book, I saw that photo in a newspaper’s archives and the child’s bewildered expression was exactly as I remembered.

I worked as a journalist for years and my latest novel Guilty developed as a result of my interest in the media. I wanted to explore how editorial decisions can project a story in a certain way, either through headlines, photography, or reporting facts from a particular viewpoint. The term ‘fake news’ had yet to become common usage when I began writing the book but Guilty now seems particularly relevant.

I write from about nine until four in the afternoon. My brain is mush by then so a brisk walk and coffee in the village clears my head. If something is going really well, I’ll work for a few hours at night but my best time is morning.

Addiction and passion are a dangerous combination. I often joke with my writer friends that we’re addicted to the written word. Otherwise, why would we stay in a quiet room when the sun is shining? Why, if our work is rejected, do we straighten our shoulders and put plan B

into action. Why do we subject ourselves to difficult and, sometimes, hurtful reviews yet continue to put our heads above the parapet?

I try to remain sanguine about reviews. Readers have such diverse opinions and it’s fascinating to read completely different judgements on the same book. Gone are the days when reviews were only written by literary reviewers, which was the case when my first novels were published. Nowadays, anyone who wishes to express an opinion on a writer’s work can do so through a myriad of online sites. Reviewers can bestow a one-star ranking on a writer because a book hasn’t downloaded properly onto their Kindle – or write an insightful review that will shine across a writer’s day.

It’s also proof positive that I can’t please everyone and, so, when I’m writing, I banish all thoughts about how readers will react and just get on with finishing my book.

Thank you again ‘With Love for Books’ for the delightful opportunity to appear on your blog.

Giveaway

Three very lucky readers of With Love For Books will receive amazing prizes. The first prize is a signed paperback copy of Guilty and a gorgeous book cover necklace, the second prize is a signed paperback copy of Guilty and the third prize is a digital copy of Guilty.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Book Review - The Girl in Between by Sarah Carroll

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Review by Suze

Life is good when the girl lives with her grandmother, but Ma wants them to move out. They don't have any money and they have nowhere to go. The girl and her mother end up on the streets until they move into an old mill they call The Castle. Ma forgets to feed the girl, she takes her daughter to scary places she doesn't want to be and the girl doesn't go to school. Ma has told the girl to stay away from the Authorities, they're after her and want to take her with them, while leaving Ma behind. Every time they arrive the girl hides, so the Authorities won't find her. The girl made her mother promise something, but Ma isn't sticking to it. Life at the mill is lonely and the girl only has one friend. The mill might be haunted and the girl is afraid, but she's built herself a safe house, she'll be fine, won't she?

The Girl in Between is an original and impressive story. The girl is being taken away from the home she loves by a mother who can't take care of them. Life on the streets isn't easy and the girl is glad when they find the mill. They at least have a roof over their heads. My heart ached for her because of the unfairness of her situation. Her mother makes wrong decision after wrong decision, but the girl keeps loving her unconditionally. She wants to go back to her grandmother, but her mother doesn't put her daughter's needs first, which is such a sad situation. 

I liked the ghost aspect of the story, which gives it even more layers of depth. The mill is supposed to be haunted and the girl is trying to lure the ghost. I was fascinated by the way she tries to discover more about the mill's history. Something must have happened there and finding out more about it kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved the way Sarah Carroll plays with tension, she's keeping tight control and her timing is perfect, which makes her story incredibly strong. The Girl in Between is hauntingly beautiful and I loved every single page.

Sarah Carroll writes about a girl without a proper childhood, friends her own age and a school she can go to. The girl doesn't have much in her life, but because of her optimistic personality she keeps trying to find ways to keep herself busy. She's being neglected and Sarah Carroll writes about that in a raw and honest way from the point of view of the child, which made it extra moving. The story is filled with unexpected twists and turns and I loved how I was being surprised over and over again. The ending is absolutely brilliant and made me cry. The Girl in Between is a unique story and Sarah Carroll's amazing writing makes it come to life incredibly well. I loved this brilliant book and think it's a definite must-read.

Advice

The Girl in Between is a beautiful impressive story and I think it's suitable for both teenagers and adults.

Book Review - Escape to the Cotswolds by Natalie Kleinman

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Review by Suze

Holly's husband has cheated on her again and this time Holly decides she wants a divorce. She leaves London and buys a cottage in the Cotswolds. There she sets up her artistic business where she gives lessons, which she combines with a small gallery. She's a painter and her art is being appreciated by many. Holly hopes she can make a living by selling it, this would be a dream come true.

Holly has no interest in men after her messy divorce. However, local vet Adam does make her heart beat faster every time she sees him. They're just friends and Holly keeps telling herself she doesn't want a relationship, but is this really true? Instead she gets a cute little puppy and makes a lot of friends. She's feeling at home in her new surroundings, but something is missing. Will Holly eventually be ready to say goodbye to the loneliness and give love a chance again?

Escape to the Cotswolds is a lighthearted and cheerful story. Holly is a kindhearted woman with plenty of talent. She makes friends easily, is quite stubborn and she's wonderfully artistic. I immediately liked her very much. Adam loves animals and he can be a unkind to people who don't feel the same way. He's lovely though once someone gets to know him and he's gentle and capable. I liked his reassuring personality and the safety he exudes, while he's gorgeous and dreamy at the same time. Adam and Holly are a perfect match, but they're both afraid to take that first step, they're endearing and I loved reading about their, sometimes uncomfortable, meetings.

Natalie Kleinman has written a cozy summer story. Escape to the Cotswolds is fast-paced, it's mostly breezy and there aren't any deep emotional scenes, it's a fun relaxing read. The writing style is upbeat, the story is charming without many highs and lows. It has a great pleasant atmosphere and the ending is wonderfully romantic. I liked this sweet story a lot. Escape to the Cotswolds is a fabulous feelgood book.

Advice

If you're looking for a lighthearted cheerful read Escape to the Cotswold would be a great choice.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

With Love For Bookouture: The Lost Children by Helen Phifer - Book Review & Giveaway

 
Review by Anniek

What goes around comes around. Sometimes it just takes a little longer than it should.

The Moore house once was a thriving asylum, filled with people who were not supposed to be part of society. In the end only ward number 13, the children's ward, remained. The Moore was a horrific place where lobotomies were given on a regular basis. The nurses were cruel and harsh, which made the children long for the day their parents would come back for them, but what if no one would ever come to pick them up? What kind of person will they become when all they've ever known is hate?

Lucy Harwin was forced to take time off when a case she was working on ended with a brutal murder. She needs to accept that what happened isn't her fault. She did everything she could, but it wasn't enough. On her first day back a body is found in the asylum that has been closed off for a long time. The dead body is mutilated in a way that is typical for the horrific lobotomies that they'd executed there in the past. A race against the clock begins and Lucy wants nothing more than to catch this killer. Will she be able to discover the person who's behind this on time? What if the killer might be closer than she thinks?

The children of The Moore were labeled as insane, while some of them just couldn't read or write. Most of these children should have stayed at home with their parents, but instead of helping their child the parents sent them off to an asylum, away from society. Most of the parents never looked back. Being a mother myself my heart broke when I read about these young kids who had no one to look out for them, nobody who loved them. This made me tear up more than once. I can't believe that someone would leave their child in such a bad place when things get a little rough. While I was reading I just wanted to hug the children and let them know that everything would be alright.

Lucy has been through a difficult time. Her husband left her, her daughter has chosen to live with her father and her boss forces her to attend therapy sessions. Lucy is a workaholic, she's a well respected officer and she'll work all hours if she has to and will do anything to catch a killer. Lucy doesn't have the best relationship with her daughter, but she's trying hard to get close to her again. Her daughter is a typical teenager, they don't always see eye to eye and this causes a lot of issues. I liked the fact that Lucy never gives up on her daughter, she loves her very much and she's doing everything she can to fix their bond. Lucy is smart and easily sees connections and patterns in the information she receives. She's a person every criminal would fear and I admired that about her.

The Lost Children is a gripping and dark story about how children can be changed through hate. I believe every person is born good and that it's the circumstances that form a person when they grow up. This made The Lost Children so much more intense for me. I loved how Helen Phifer goes back and forth between the asylum, to when it was still open, and the present day. While reading I think my heart actually skipped a beat a few times. The Lost Children has a lot of interesting twists and turns that made me want to keep reading. This was my first book by Helen Phifer, but one book was all it took to lure me in hook, line and sinker.

Advice

If you like to read bone chilling thrillers with a strong female main character I would absolutely recommend you to pick up The Lost Children.

About Helen Phifer


I was a member of the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Scheme in 2012 and it is brilliant. If you are an unpublished writer on a quest for publication I cannot recommend it enough. I met my lovely editor Anna at my first RNA conference in July of the same year for a ten minute appointment which changed my life. I am very proud to say that I am now a full member of the RNA and I am very excited to have been able to join the Crime Writers Association and The Society of Authors.
 
I have been reading and writing since I was very young, devouring every book in school and at home that I could get my hands on. I loved Enid Blyton and the Famous Five in my pre-teen years and spent many a Sunday afternoon whisked away to somewhere far more exciting than my small bedroom. In my teenage years I progressed to Stephen King who would scare the living daylights out of me and I could never get enough. I devoured everything he wrote along with James Herbert, Dean Koontz, Graham Masterton and many more.

I love to read books which are page turners and make the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, unfortunately these books seem a lot harder to find than when I was a teenager so I set about writing my own. The Ghost House has taken about eight years from start to finish and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. The Secrets of the Shadows was written in just six months and I enjoyed writing that even more. I have the most amazing readers who take the time to Tweet and Facebook me to tell me how much they have enjoyed reading both books and it's fabulous. They tell me how they couldn't go to bed because they had to finish the chapter they were reading and that is exactly what I hoped for.
 
Author links
 

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love For Books will receive a signed copy of The Lost Children by Helen Phifer and a beautiful book cover necklace. One runner up will get a digital copy of The Lost Children.
 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.
 
 

Book Review - Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani

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Review by Suze

It's 1949 and Nicky Castone works as a cab driver for the family company. He's an orphan and his uncle Dominic Palazzini has taken him in. Nicky is engaged to Peachy, but after seven years he still hasn't agreed to set a date for the wedding. Nicky secretly spends his evenings in Calla's Shakespeare theater, where he does all kinds of different jobs behind the scenes. When he gets the chance to act, because there is nobody else, he finally finds his passion. He continues following it, but after a disastrous job Nicky has to make some tough choices. Will he stay and work for his family or will he go away and follow his heart?

Dominic and Mike are brothers. They've been fighting over an inheritance for many years. They split up the family company and their feud has kept their once so close families apart. Will they ever been able to mend fences and realize that family is more important than property or money?

Calla wants to continue her father's legacy. He started the Shakespeare theater she's working so hard for. The plays are her pride and joy and she loves directing them. However, just like her father Calla isn't good with money. The theater's proceeds are meager and she doesn't know how to make her business profitable. She pays her actors and tries to cut back on everything else, but will it be enough to keep her beloved business going? Is there room for love in her life when so much is at stake?

Kiss Carlo is a beautiful story about family, friendships, love and dreams. It has a lot of fabulous main characters. Adriana Trigiani has made them all multidimensional and equally interesting, which is something I really enjoyed about her book. Nicky has to find his passion, Calla has found hers, but needs to find love and Dominic and Mike need to find peace. Kiss Carlo has a large number of characters, so there are many more beautifully described personalities, which I found a real treat, and they all have a special place in my heart.

Adriana Trigiani writes about people from different generations and each of them has their own story and background. I love reading about families and Kiss Carlo is a fantastic story. It's dynamic, entertaining, unpredictable and original. I fell in love with this book from the first page. I love it when a book is so good that the characters will stay with me for a very long time. Nicky and his family and friends definitely fall into this category and I highly recommend their brilliant stories. Kiss Carlo is a complex novel filled with wisdom, life experience, aspirations and reality. I truly enjoyed reading this wonderful book, it's a real treasure.

Advice

 If you love complex family stories with plenty of original twists and turns and interesting main characters Kiss Carlo will be an excellent choice.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Red Riding Hoodie Mug, Tote Bag & Pillow Giveaway

 
 
Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a Red Riding Hoodie tote bag, mug and pillow set designed by Sarah m Wall. Good luck!
  

 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

With Love For Romantic Books: The Little Clock House on the Green by Eve Devon - Book Review & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Kate worked as a travel writer for years, but she's finally back in her hometown Whispers Wood and this time she wants to stay. She'd like to start a business in The Clock House. The current owner, Old Man Isaac, is selling his home, because he's too old to keep living in it and there are no heirs. Kate wants to make an offer, so she can start working on what she's always dreamed of together with her cousin Juliet. However, there's someone else who wants The Clock House as well.

Daniel is new in Whispers Wood. He stumbles upon the village by accident and never wants to leave again. When he sees The Clock House he knows it's the perfect location for the business he has in mind. It would mean a fresh start for him, so he decides to make an offer. Old Man Isaac has to choose between Daniel and Kate, but before he'll make his decision he has a challenge for them. Who will be allowed to buy the house?

The Little Clock House on the Green is a wonderful romantic story. Kate is a sweet and generous person. She's been through a lot and grief has been her constant companion for a long time. Being back in Whispers Wood is confronting, but also healing. Kate can finally start the next chapter of her life, which begins with a battle between her and Daniel. They're evenly matched and it was fun to read about their schemes and ideas. There are also plenty of sparks between them and I couldn't wait to find out if their desire to buy the same building would come between them or if love would be victorious instead.

Daniel has a great sense of humor and he's a kind and chivalrous man. He's been hurt by several people who used to be close to him and hopes he's finally found the place where he belongs. Whispers Wood is hospitable and everyone welcomes him with open arms. For me that was one of the most amazing parts of the book. His battle with Kate isn't only taking place on a business level, there's so much more at stake. I loved the combination of creative entrepreneurship and deep emotions. The Little Clock House on the Green has plenty of fascinating elements and Kate and Daniel are two terrific main characters. They have charisma, determination, spunk and guts and that makes the story enchanting and entertaining.

Whispers Wood is a fantastic setting. Eve Devon's vivid descriptions of the village itself and the, sometimes eccentric, inhabitants are making it come to life very well. Whispers Green is a beautiful location and it's perfect for a story about family, friendship and love. The sense of community is heartwarming and it kept putting a smile on my face. I absolutely loved this delightful story. It's charming, lively, moving and endearing and I really enjoyed reading it.

Advice

If you love romantic stories about challenges, family and friends set in a small village, you will definitely like The Little Clock House on the Green.

About Eve Devon

 
I have a history with books - from the toddler years, where, as family lore tells it, I had a penchant for climbing bookshelves, pulling out books...and ripping out the pages (I still claim it was someone who looked like me)! Then came the years where I spent all my pocket money on books until I came up with a cunning plan to get my hands on even more and joined a library. Which leads neatly to the years when I lived abroad and 'ran' a library...loaning out my parents' books. Sure, there were some uncomfortable questions about my strict overdues fees policy when it was discovered I was buying more books than my pocket money stretched to. A decade later I found the perfect job for my reading addiction and got to enjoy thirteen years working in an actual real-life library!

All this time my reading addiction fed my writing addiction. Journals, poems, long letters to my best friend who I was going to see the very next day at school, short stories and (please tell me someone else has done this too) 'new and improved' episodes of popular television shows where the protagonists actually got together! As I got older I wrote training manuals for work along with advertising and promotional material, and I shouldn't forget all those love letters to my boyfriend now husband.

For the last few years I've been writing romantic suspense and contemporary romance, more seriously. The journey is fantastic, illuminating, joyous, testing and ongoing.

I write in my garret, the technical term I like to use for the teeny tiny room at the top of our stairs. I write with my back to the window to avoid distraction and when I can't write because I need a distraction, I plod downstairs to write at my dining-room table. There I have a wonderful view of all the jobs I haven't got around to doing in the garden.

I write because it makes me happy and brings balance to my life. I like people. I like storytelling. And in a world where it's far too easy to settle back, opt out and be cynical, I like that reading romance redresses the balance a little. And because everyone sometimes struggles when the world turns serious I like feeling my stories might offer some entertainment and escape.

Author links


Giveaway

 
One very lucky reader of With Love For Books will get a handmade The Little Clock House on the Green bookmark from Eve Devon.
 
 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.
 

Book Review - It Started with Goodbye by Christina June

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Review by Suze

Tatum has been falsely accused of taking part in a criminal offence, while she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because of this injustice she has to do community service, her father and stepmother have given her house arrest, she isn't allowed to go anywhere for the entire summer, and she has to pay a hefty fine. If Tatum wants to be able to afford this she should work, that's why she starts her own graphic design business and she pet sits when she's back from her community service.

Because Tatum's stepmother has a job she asks Tatum's step abuela to keep an eye on her when she isn't around. Tatum actually likes this woman and it isn't so bad to spend time with her. With abuela's guidance Tatum is trying to get her life back on track. She might even find something she has in common with her stepsister. Will Tatum's summer be as horrible as she thought it would be or will something good come out of all the bad stuff that's been happening to her?

It Started with Goodbye is a captivating story. My heart ached for Tatum when I read about the situation that lead to her heavy punishment. She's being treated unfairly by everyone in her surroundings and she manages to stay calm and undergo it all. I greatly admired her strength and determination to make the best of an awful situation. She's strong, she can stand up for herself and she's a wonderful friend. It was sad to see how little appreciation she receives from her family and I kept hoping they'd open their eyes and start to see the beautiful person she is instead of the disappointing daughter they're making her out to be. The only support she has is from her step abuela and I enjoyed reading about the wisdom of this woman and their heartwarming connection very much.

Christina June writes about acceptance, resilience and perseverance in a fantastic open way. Her story has the classic Cinderella elements, but it also has a fresh and original approach of the subject at the same time. I loved that combination and the execution is flawless. The writing is great, the plot is impressive and the overall atmosphere is fascinating. It Started with Goodbye is a fantastic story about dysfunctional families, expectations and prejudice. I highly recommend this amazing book, it's moving, compelling and entertaining at the same time and it has a sweet happy ending.

Advice

I'd highly recommend It Started with Goodbye to both young adults and adults who love reading stories about family and friends and if you're a fan of fairytale retellings you should definitely read this book.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Book Reviews & Interview - Put It Out There, What Are the Chances? and And Then What? by D.R. Graham


Review by Anniek 

Derian went to live with her mother in Vancouver after her father died in a tragic accident. A year later she moves back to Britannia Beach because she wants to be home. Her grandfather owns an inn and Derian can live with him. Derian helps him out with the day to day chores at inn and breakfast is her specialty. The inn is old and is in desperate need of renovations. Will her grandfather be able to keep running it?
 
Trevor lives next door to Derian. They have been best friends forever. Derian, however, would love for them to step out of the friend zone. Derian has a crush on Trevor, but she isn't sure if he feels the same way. Sophie is Derian's best friend and she is determined to help Derian to get a boyfriend. There are several boys who are interested in her, so this should not be a problem. Will Derian eventually end up with the guy she likes the most? 

Derian has had visions for as long as she can remember. Trevor and Sophie know about this and are trying to help her. Derian feels frustrated about the fact that she sees these images and fragments, but doesn't know when the real thing will happen or if she can stop it from taking place. Because of that she is practicing to develop her ability. Derian is a very sweet person. She cares about others, like her grandfather and friends, and is a responsible girl. Derian helps her grandfather as much as she can and she is a good student. In school she stands up for people who are being picked on and I loved that about her. She's a beautiful main character, both inside and out. 

There is one sentence in Put It Out There that really stood out for me:

'Don't forget to be proud of what makes you unique.'

This is a powerful message. I think we all have our insecurities, no matter what age we are. We are all our own person and that's exactly what makes us so special. D.R. Graham writes about wonderful and interesting characters. Britannia Beach sounds like a great place to live and it's a perfect setting for Derian's story. Put It Out There is the first book in the Britannia Beach Series and it ends with a fantastic cliffhanger. I'm really curious about the evolvement of Derian's ability and her love life and can't wait to read the next book.


Review by Suze

Derian and Sophie have one last summer in Britannia Beach. Deri has been accepted at two different universities, but she hasn't made up her mind yet. Sophie is very much in love, but Deri's love life has been pretty uneventful. She's always had a crush on Trevor, but he isn't available. Mason is, he's kind and generous and he's back in town after a year abroad, so Deri finally has the chance to get to know him better. Who will Deri end up with and will her summer be everything she hoped it would be?

What Are the Chances? is another great Britannia Beach story. I liked Deri a lot, she's strong, resilient and incredibly smart. She also has visions that are giving her a glimpse of something that's going to happen in the future. Because of those visions she can sometimes act just a little bit sooner, which leads to plenty of gripping scenes. Deri is brave and she's always there for the people she loves. She puts herself in danger if she has to, but helping them is more important to her than her own safety. I loved this admirable character trait.

Deri has to choose between two interesting guys. Mason is rich and popular, but beneath the cool exterior there's a sensitive, big-hearted and incredibly sweet guy. I liked him from the beginning. He's honest about his feelings and knows what he wants. Trevor is a bit of a hero. He's always helping people, both professionally and in his free time. He's tough, but he's careful with Deri's feelings. He's been giving her plenty of headaches over the years, but that's about to stop. I was curious to see where their relationship would lead.

D.R. Graham's writing has a nice, easy flow. I loved reading about Britannia Beach, Deri's friendships and her dates. She's an interesting main character and I liked that little extra magic that's being added to the story by the visions she has. It's a fabulous angle and it perfectly suits the life changing rescue missions that are being described in this book. I really liked the second Britannia Beach story and the ending is lovely and really romantic.
 

Derian is a student and she has to work hard for her grades. While she lives in the same city as Trevor she doesn't see him that often. When the stress is getting too much, her best friend Sophie asks her to go to Mexico with her to enjoy the sun and relax for a few days. It's the perfect opportunity for Deri to catch up with Sophie and unwind. However, Sophie isn't the only old friend Deri meets in Acapulco. Mason is back in Deri's life and this leads to a dangerous adventure she'll never forget.

And Then What? is the third story about Deri and her friends. I enjoyed reading about Deri's relationship with Trevor. It's complicated and there's a lot they still have to learn. Deri has spent most of her time studying and has almost forgotten what it's like to have fun. She's a serious and hardworking girl and fortunately Sophie is there to make her take a much needed break. I couldn't wait to find out what would happen when they were in Mexico. It's a thrilling journey with plenty of surprising twists and turns.

Deri loves the people who are important to her with all her heart and she's always sweet and gentle. She's understanding, forgiving and loving, which I liked about her character. She has a lot to think about when she's in Mexico and during her journey she discovers what's important to her. The trip is far from uneventful and it kept me on the edge of my seat. I couldn't wait to find out how the story would end.

D.R. Graham writes about love, romance, friendship and adventures in a fabulous descriptive way. I liked that Deri is broadening her horizons in And Then What? She's growing up and I admired the person she's become very much. She's a fantastic main character and I loved reading about her again. I enjoyed finding out more about her love life and was curious to see which decisions she would make. The Britannia Beach series has wonderful characters and I loved this amazing dynamic series.

Advice

The Britannia Beach books are all about the same main character, Derian. When you start reading the series you should begin with Put It Out There and read the stories in their correct order.
 
About D.R. Graham

 
D.R. Graham is an author of sweet and edgy young adult and new adult novels for Harper Collins and Entangled Publishing. She worked as a social worker with at-risk youth before becoming a therapist in private practice. The clients she works with are children and teenagers, and her romance, suspense, and psychological thrillers deal with issues relevant to teens and new adults in love, transition, or crisis. She is also an award-winning columnist for the Richmond News. She currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband.

Find out more at


Interview

1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Thanks for inviting me to do this interview, Suze. Hi everyone, my name is Danielle and I write both young adult and new adult fiction under the name D.R. Graham. I was born in Yukon Territory, Canada and I grew up in Vancouver, where I live now with my husband. I'm also a psychotherapist in private practice.

2. In Put It Out There Deri has a special ability. If you could have an ability yourself what would you choose and why? And what's the inspiration behind Deri's gift?

Hmm, I'd probably want the special ability of being able to teleport from location to location since I'm not a huge fan of airplanes. Deri's gift comes from my fascination with intuition. I've met people who are particularly intuitive and sense things that others can't, so I thought it would be interesting to write a character who is able to do that.

3. What kind of hobbies do you have? ( when you're not reading or writing)

I enjoy hiking and yoga and I dabble a little in photography, but writing is my favorite hobby.

4. You've chosen Britannia Beach as the location for your story, what's so special about this place?

I grew up near Britannia Beach, which is located north of Vancouver, near Squamish and Whistler, British Columbia. We call it the Sea to Sky corridor and it has some of the most spectacular natural scenery in the world. Nestled between Howe Sound and the mountains, it's the perfect wilderness setting for the historic inn Derian grew up in and for the search and rescue adventures that take place in the books too.

5. Could you sum up the main characters of your series in 6 words each?

Derian Lafleur: bookish, sweet, loyal, intuitive, small-town, inexperienced.

Trevor Maverty: brave, loyal, honorable, dependable, closed off

6. You're a columnist for the Richmond News. Do you have a favorite topic to write about?

I haven't written for the Richmond News since starting Britannia Beach but when I do write columns I tackle topics that relate to my profession as a psychotherapist--anxiety coping strategies, substance abuse prevention, communication skills, conflict management etc..

7. What kind of books do you like to read yourself?

I like to read young adult contemporaries, either edgy or romantic. Actually, I like all books that have at least one thread of romance in them.

8. Do you have a routine while writing your story? What does your writing process look like?

I don't really have a specific routine. I write whenever I have time, which is usually in the evenings, on weekends, and Wednesdays. I typically start with a very random idea, then I sit at the computer and see what comes out. The characters introduce themselves and tell me what's going to happen next. Then, after I've finished about three drafts, I go over the story and structure the plot with a standard three-act screenplay format and plot points. That sometimes means moving scenes around and cutting unnecessary scenes. Then I send it to my critique partner and she tells me what's not working.

9. You are a therapist. Is there something you can advice that every person will benefit from?

Breathe. Everything else will work itself out. Just breathe.

10. If you could change one thing in the world what would that be and why?

I would make the world a more respectful place. If we all had unconditional respect for ourselves and for those who are different from us, we would be more confident, tolerant, and happy.

11. What can we expect from you in the future?

I'm working on a few upcoming projects: two new adult contemporary romances, a cross-over historical romance, a young adult psychological thriller, and an edgy young adult drama set in the seventies. I'm still writing one and the others are all in various stages of the publishing process, either on submission with agents, submission with publishers, or in the editing phase.

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Book Review - Summer Loves (Millie Vanilla's Cupcake Cafe #2) by Georgia Hill

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Review by Suze

Millie Vanilla's Cupcake Cafe in Berecombe is still open, but she has some serious competition and it isn't easy to keep her business afloat. Her cafe needs a makeover, but Millie doesn't have any funds. She took over the business after the death of her parents and has been running it ever since. When she met Jed she thought she'd met the love of her life, but she isn't sure if she can trust him. What will she do when he's back in her life once more?

Dora finally has the chance to stay in her hometown for a while and is spending as much time as she can with her friend Millie. Dora's childhood sweetheart Mikey is visiting Berecombe as well. Mikey is a director and he's working on a theater show. Dora is a famous actress. She's on a break and auditions for Mikey's play. What will happen when they're back into each other's lives? Will they be able to forget the heartbreak of the past?

Millie Vanilla's Cupcake Cafe is a wonderful place to read about. Millie is kind, generous and talented and I loved reading about her life. Baking is her passion and I could easily picture her delicious creations. However, something is missing. Millie only works and has no time for herself. I kept hoping she'd find her spark back and couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to find out what would happen between her and Jed. She deserves a chance at happiness more than anyone.

Dora is an actress and in some ways she's spoiled. She's made a name for herself in America, but circumstances have brought her back to her hometown for a while. I liked reading about Millie's interesting friend a lot. They have a close connection and it was fun to find out more about their high school years. Mikey is Dora's true love, but so much has happened between them. It's a lot easier to reconnect with friends than with an old lover, but Dora certainly tries to mend fences. I admired her spirit and enjoyed reading about her adventures very much.

Georgia Hill has chosen a great setting for her story. I love Berecombe and its inhabitants. Her vivid descriptions are making the place come to life incredibly well. It's a fun setting and I enjoyed reading about it again. Summer Loves has all the right ingredients for a sunny story, good weather, charm, cheerfulness, love, friendship and delicious food. I really liked this second Millie Vanilla's Cupcake Cafe story and can't wait to read more about this fabulous setting and main character.

Advice

Summer Loves is the second part of the Millie Vanilla's Cupcake Cafe series. I'd recommend you to read the first part, Spring Beginnings, before starting this one, so you'll have the complete story.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Book Review - What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

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Review by Suze
 
Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth had one goal, becoming a size zero. She achieved this in a rapid pace by restricting her food intake and because of this she developed an eating disorder. That's why she's being sent to Wallingfield, a psychiatric treatment center. There they force her to eat healthily again, so she'll gain weight and they're trying to teach her how to stay well when she goes back home again. Elizabeth doesn't want to put on weight and she can't wait to go home, so she can go back to her old ways. In Wallingfield they're trying to discover why she's trying to lose so much weight. Elizabeth's home situation is far from ideal and only adds to the disorder, will she manage to get better despite this?
 
In Wallingfield Elizabeth makes new friends. She doesn't have to fight her battle on her own, there are other girls just like her. She isn't alone and that makes staying there easier to bear. The girls at Wallingfield are allowed to receive mail and Elizabeth gets several packages from an anonymous sender. Who's behind these packages, is it her ex-boyfriend? Is someone trying to cheer her up or do the packages have a different meaning and will they help Elizabeth with her recovery?
 
What I Lost is a beautiful moving story. Elizabeth struggles with her weight and her home situation. She's lost forty pounds and has no energy left. Being forced to eat is hard for her, but she's trying and meanwhile she's also being there for her friends at Wallingfield. Elizabeth has a wonderful sweet personality. She's a lovely girl and reading about her motivations to start losing weight and their result made me tear up. Alexandra Ballard describes her feelings in such a clear way that it was like I was looking through Elizabeth's eyes, which was very impressive.
 
Alexandra Ballard writes about what it's like to have an eating disorder in a raw and honest way. She writes about the loathing, the sickness, the fear to gain weight and the problems that arise because of poor self-image in a descriptive way that gave me a better understanding of the disease. Her writing has an easy flow and that made it possible for me to completely focus on the story itself. Elizabeth's situation is complex and thought-provoking. I liked that because of the packages there was also lightness between the difficulties and sadness. It gives the story a good balance. What I Lost is an amazing book, it's a story that deeply affected me.
 
Advice
 
What I Lost is an impressive story about a difficult topic, keep that in mind before you start reading. I highly recommend this book to both young adults and adults.

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Book Review & Excerpt - Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis

 
Book review
By Suze
 
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Quinn desperately misses her sister Beth, who died in a car crash. She works as a sous-chef in a successful LA restaurant and is going through the motions rather than enjoying her life. When she receives a call from a lawyer from Wildstone about an inheritance Quinn is surprised, because she doesn't know anyone there. However, the inheritance is really hers and it comes with a lot of complications and responsibilities.
 
When Quinn arrives in Wildstone she meets Mick. He's originally from Wildstone and travels back as often as he can to visit. Mick is Quinn's first new friend in the small town. Will there be more? It isn't Quinn's intention to like Wildstone, but she does, and that makes deciding what she wants to do with her life even more complicated. Will Quinn's inheritance finally enable Quinn to get over the worst part of her grief and is there a chance she'll find a better future than she'd ever imagined?
 
Lost and Found Sisters is a fantastic story. Quinn is a sweetheart. She's always taking care of others, she has a big heart and easily loves people. She's afraid to commit, but being in Wildstone is making her stronger. I loved that the town and the people she meets enable her to finally heal and I couldn't wait to find out where that would lead. Quinn is a beautiful person inside and out and I absolutely loved her character. She and Mitch have a close connection. There are plenty of sparks combined with deep feelings and they're perfect for one another. However, there are a lot of obstacles in their way and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to see where their relationship would lead.
 
Jill Shalvis has a wonderful warm writing style. I especially love the way her main characters connect with others. The welcoming atmosphere that's making her books so great always makes me smile. I'm a big fan of stories about sisters and Lost and Found Sisters is an amazing one. It has family secrets, many unexpected twists and turns and plenty of emotional layers. I enjoyed reading this charming book from beginning to end. It's another terrific Jill Shalvis story and I highly recommend it.
 
Advice
 
If you love small town romance combined with family secrets Lost and Found Sisters is an absolute must-read.
 
 
About Jill Shalvis
 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s sexy contemporary and award-winning books wherever romances are sold and click on the blog button above for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

 
 
 Excerpt

“Hi,” she said, possibly never so happy to see someone in her life. “Remember me?”

His lips quirked.

Yep. He remembered her all right. “I’ve got a problem,” she said. 

His smile faded. “You okay?”

She exhaled, feeling like an idiot. “There’s a big bug in my tub and the sink is dripping. Do you have time to help or are you off the clock?”

He studied her for a beat. “I’ll grab some tools and be right up,” he finally said. 

She watched him stride off. Maybe she couldn’t find her feels, but apparently she could still appreciate a nice ass. 

Good to know. 

Five minutes later there was a simple, firm knock at her door. She opened it and stood back to let him in, but he remained on his side of the doorway, toolbox in hand. 

“I’m Mick Hennessey,” he said.

Great, but she had no time for introduction. Bug in her tub! “Nice to formally meet you, Mick, but…” She pointed to the bathroom. 

With a mock salute, he ambled in there.

Quinn remained right where she was, counting off the seconds while she heard nothing. “Did you get him?” she finally called out. 

“The bug?” he asked. 

“No, the president of the United States! Yes, the bug!”

The only response was the sound of the toilet flushing and she panicked. “You squished him first, right?”

Mick stuck his head out of the bathroom and flashed her a smile. “Worried he’s going to swim his way back up and bite you on the—“

“No!” Yes…

He vanished back into the bathroom. Quinn heard some other sounds that were hopefully related to him working on the stink. Unable to stop herself, she made her way over there and peered in. “Where’s your dog?”

“Coop? With my mom. She lives here in town and made stew. Apparently, I don’t rate on the same scale as beef stew.” He was on his back, head and shoulders wedged beneath the sink, legs bent at the knees because he was longer than the bathroom. He wore a T-shirt advertising some pub in San Francisco named O’Riley’s, that had risen up, revealing his low-slung jeans and some impressive abs, including those V muscles that made women so stupid. 

“Can you fix it?” she asked. 

His hands looked confident working the wrench before he pulled his head from beneath the sink and sent her a slow smile. 

At the barely recognizable flutter low in Quinn’s belly, and also decidedly south of her belly, she froze in shock. She’d felt next to nothing for a very long time, but it hadn’t been so long that she couldn’t place this for what it was. 

Lust.
 

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Book Review - Summer at the Dog & Duck by Jill Steeples

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Review by Suze

Ellie is in her element at the Dog & Duck, her own village pub in Little Leyton. She's still together with the rich and handsome Max and finally everything is falling into place. Then Max's teenage sister Katy comes to stay with him. Katy's attitude makes it difficult for Max to get closer to her and find out why she's there. Maybe Ellie can help them out? Max is also spending time with his ex-girlfriend Sasha, a former city girl who wants to live in Little Leyton all of a sudden and Ellie isn't seeing much of him anymore. Max is slipping through her fingers and Ellie feels her relationship is under threat. Will they be able to patch things up or will it be a lonely summer for Ellie?

Summer at the Dog & Duck is a wonderful heartwarming story. Ellie is matter-of-fact in a crisis and is able to solve a lot of problems this way. She's also capable, kind and helpful. I loved her sweet and open character. She's there for anyone who needs to talk and if something has to be organized she always get things done, she gladly gives her time to the village fĂȘte and charity events. She makes the guests of the pub feel welcome, but she can stand up for herself as well. I admired her strong personality and think it makes her a fantastic main character.

Max has a lot on his mind and he doesn't always tell Ellie what's keeping him busy, so it's easy for misunderstandings to arise. Max is handsome, he has a good heart and he's a real gentleman. I liked that very much about him. He doesn't know how to handle Katy, they aren't close because Katy used to live in Spain and it's clear she is angry about something. I was really curious to find out what it was and it was lovely to learn more about Max's family and his background. I like books about siblings and Max and Katy have an interesting relationship. I enjoyed reading about each phase they're going through.

Jill Steeples has a great warm writing style. Her descriptions of Little Leyton and the Dog & Duck are vivid and dynamic. I could easily picture the beautiful countryside, the cozy pub and the stately manor. I enjoyed finding out more about each of these settings. I loved reading about Ellie's walks too, because of her fabulous dog and the gorgeous surroundings. Jill Steeples makes her story come to life incredibly well. I absolutely loved this second book about the Dog & Duck and the story put a big smile on my face. It's entertaining, charming and enchanting.

Advice

If you love reading about countryside villages, cozy pubs and handsome men Summer at the Dog & Duck would be an excellent choice. It's the second book in a series and my advice is to start with the first one, Winter at the Dog & Duck, to get the complete story.

About Jill Steeples


Twitter Page - https://twitter.com/jillesteeples
Instagram Page - https://www.instagram.com/jill.steeples/
Facebook Author Page - https://www.facebook.com/jillsteepleswriter/
Your Author Website - www.jillsteeples.co.uk
Amazon link - http://amzn.to/2tchQDY