Book Review: Stalker by Lars Keplar

Those who were following me last year may remember how I loved Lars Keplar’s The Sandman so I was eager to read the next in the series Stalker. When I was offered the chance to be involved in this blog tour I knew I had to squeal “yes please”. Thanks @AAknopf for a free advanced copy of the book to review.

Book Review for Stalker by Lars Keplar

Stalker by Lars Kepler

Stalker by Lars Keplar

Title: Stalker

Author: Lars Keplar

Publisher: Alfred A Knopf

Genre: Crime, psychological thriller

Release Date: 5th February 2019

Blurb

The internationally bestselling authors of The Sandman and The Hypnotist return with a
terrifying new thriller:

Detective Joona Linna–recently returned from compassionate
leave–reunites with hypnotist Erik Maria Bark in a search for a seemingly unassailable
sadistic killer.The Swedish National Crime Unit receives a video of a young woman in her home, clearly unaware that she’s being watched. Soon after the tape is received, the woman’s body is found horrifically mutilated. With the arrival of the next, similar video, the police understand that the killer is toying with them, warning of a new victim, knowing there’s nothing they can do. Detective Margot Silverman is put in charge of the investigation, and soon asks Detective Joona Linna for help. Linna, in turn, recruits Erik Maria Bark, the hypnotist and expert in trauma, with whom Linna’s worked before. Bark is leery of forcing people to give up their secrets. But this time, Bark is the one hiding things. Years before, he had put a man away for an eerily similar crime, and now he’s beginning to think that an innocent man may be behind bars–and a serial killer still on the loose. . .

My Thoughts

Lars Keplar have a unique style which I love and their books are always dark common in the Scandinavian noir genre. This is no exception. The murders are graphic and tap into the fear of being watched while living your life or getting dressed. I was always paranoid about the curtains being open at night but now I am even more cautious.

It follows on from The Sandman and though this book could be read as a standalone the complex lives and relationships between the characters may mean you may miss some of the depth of the story and the motivation of their actions.  Joona Linna is assumed dead allowing another detective Margot Silverman to take on his role to investigate. I liked her as a protagonist and think she could have carried the story alone. Heavily pregnant she is determined to solve the case before maternity leave so reluctantly accepts help when Joona reappears along with Erik Bark from the book The Hypnotist.

I was drawn in with the intensity of the first murder and the urgency to catch the killer before he strikes again. The fast pace at the beginning made me eager to know who the murderer was and why but there was a lull in the middle and I began to lose interest. If I was not reviewing I may have put it to one side but I am glad I didn’t as the pace quickened towards a satisfying conclusion. With the unexpected twists and turns as it delves into the world of drugs and human psyche, Stalker is a good read but it lacked the connection for the characters I have felt with the previous books.

Would I recommend?

Yes despite my misgivings Lars Keplar are strong talented authors and Stalker is still a high quality, enjoyable Nordic thriller.

About Lars Kepler:

Lars Kepler_photo credit_Ewa-Marie Rundquist

LARS KEPLER is the pseudonym of the critically acclaimed husband and wife team Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril and Alexander Ahndoril. Their number one internationally bestselling Joona Linna series has sold more than twelve million copies in forty languages. The Ahndorils were both established writers before they adopted the pen name Lars Kepler and have each published several acclaimed novels. They live in Stockholm, Sweden. Translated by Neil Smith.

 

 

 

 

Social media

Author Website: http://larskepler.com/

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/larskepler/

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/larskepler/

Have a good weekend and happy reading!

Love

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Blog Tour & Book Review: Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman (@LucyColemanAuth) @Aria_Fiction @RaRaResources

It is a miserable grey day outside and I am reluctant to move from under my duvet. I am pleased to share my review of Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman which brightened up these recent wintery days. Thank you to Rachel Random Resources for my free book and inviting me to this tour.

Book Review for Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman

Lakes yellow

Title: Summer on the Italian Lakes

Author: Lucy Coleman

Publisher: Aria

Genre: Romance, General fiction

Release date: 5th February 2019

Blurb

Bestselling Brianna Middleton has won the hearts of millions of readers with her sweeping – and steamy – love stories. But the girl behind the typewriter is struggling… Not only does she have writer’s block, but she’s a world-famous romance author with zero romance in her own life.

So the opportunity to spend the summer teaching at a writer’s retreat in an idyllic villa on the shores of Lake Garda – owned by superstar author Arran Jamieson – could this be just the thing to fire up Brie’s writing – and romantic – mojo?

Brie’s sun-drenched Italian summer could be the beginning of this writer’s very own happy-ever-after…

Escape the January blues with this sun-drenched, heart-warming story from the bestselling author of Snowflakes Over Holly Cove.

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Italian-Lakes-bestselling-feel-good-ebook/dp/B07HPD2KNV

US – https://www.amazon.com/Summer-Italian-Lakes-bestselling-feel-good-ebook/dp/B07HPD2KNV

My Thoughts

As soon as I met the main character of this book, Brie surrounded by snotty tissues while she dealt with her heartbreak I knew I was in for a treat. I love this book for three reasons.

1.The characters – Brie is an open-hearted, old-fashioned romantic and is usually a strong woman who is a defender of romance novels against those who look down at them. She comes across as balanced and despite her confidence plummeting at the beginning, current doubts and loneliness, she has a certainty about herself which makes this a refreshing read. Handsome Arran is aloof, and comes with a back story that drew me in, making me care for him. Along with Brie’s editor and best friend the characters leapt from the page making it easy to see the story like a good rom-com in my imagination.

2.The scenery – oh my! Lucy Coleman paints a picture with her words and I was there in the sunshine enjoying Lake Garda with Brie and strolling through the streets of the Italian towns. The landscapes are stunning making them the perfect location for some literary escapism.

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Lake Garda, Italy

3.The writing tips – as an aspiring writer the tips and insights Brie offers her students at the writing retreat and the reader are invaluable. They are cleverly blended into the story but cover topics such as characterisation, writer’s block, doubts and joy of romance novels. It is a romance writing companion in disguise. I only wish I could be at the retreat in reality to soak up the tranquillity and expertise while learning how to write 3000 words before breakfast.

Would I recommend?

Summer on the Italian Lakes is uplifting and entertaining making it a perfect summer read or a pick me up on a grey, miserable day. With the characters, landscape, sun and chemistry I was reluctant to come out of the book into reality. It will be a story I will return to again and again.

Author Biography

LBH

Lucy Coleman

From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus) and Harper Impulse (Harper Collins); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Social Media Links –

Website: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LinnBHaltonAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucyColemanAuth

Giveaway – Win a Chocolate dipping set (UK only)*

Writing Retreat Prize

Chocolate Dipping Set

Enter here

If you want to know more about the book and author why not pop along to the other blogs on the tour, details below.

Thank you again to Rachel at raresourses for inviting me to this tour and NetGalley for the chance to read it for free.

Happy reading and good luck.

Love

Summer on the Italian Lakes Full Tour Banner

Other bloggers on this tour.

 

 

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

 

Blog Tour and Book Review: The Forgotten children by Isabella Muir

Last year I read about the disturbing child migration scheme in The Vanished Child  where children in children homes were sent to Australia and Canada. When I read the blurb of The Forgotten Children I knew I had to read it so I was excited to be invited on this blog tour by Rachel Random Resources and given a copy to read. Scroll down for my review and a giveaway for a signed copy.

Book Review: The Forgotten Children by Isabella Muir

 

the forgotten children paperback front

The Forgotten Children by Isabella Muir

Title: The Forgotten Children

Author: Isabella Muir

Genre: General fiction, historical

Release Date: 29th November 2018

Blurb

A woman’s search to find her son uncovers the shocking truth about one of Britain’s darkest periods

Struggling with the demons of her past, Emily is a children’s author with a dark secret, and a guilt that threatens to consume her.  For twenty years she has lived in Brighton, England, trying to forget the day they took her baby from her, just hours after he was born.  But now, in the summer of 1987, she decides to begin the search for her son. 

Emily takes refuge in a small town on the Isle of Anglesey to plan the search, where she meets Walter, a gentle stranger, who helps her with his words of wisdom and kindness.  But it is when she decides to return home to Hastings, that she really has to face her demons. 

Estranged from her parents when she was just sixteen, Emily is shocked by what her mother has to tell her about events that occurred before Emily was even born.

Beside her, throughout her search, is Emily’s beautiful Irish friend, Geraldine, recovering from her own sad experiences.  Together they uncover a truth that shocks them all.

The Forgotten Children draws the reader into lives affected by narrow-minded beliefs and blinkered thinking at the highest level. Children who weren’t allowed to be born, children who were abandoned, and children who were taken, forced to lead a life thousands of miles away from everyone and everything they knew – leaving scars that may never heal.

At its heart, The Forgotten Children is a story of survival, but the journey that Emily has to take is painful.  Even more so because she knows it was allowed to happen by individuals, religions and governments, who should have known better.

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Forgotten-Children-chilling-inspired-events-ebook/dp/B07GZYHLKV

US – https://www.amazon.com/Forgotten-Children-chilling-inspired-events-ebook/dp/B07GZYHLKV

My Thoughts

Children’s author, Emily brims with anger and despair as she struggles to come to terms with a recent miscarriage which stirs her memories of her first child who she was forced to give away. I connected to her even when she made decisions I could not understand including the one which leads her to Anglesey. This a place I long to visit and Isabella Muir’s descriptions of the landscape and area increased my desire to visit. The environment and people Emily meets leads her to make the decision to search for her son. Walter, a character I loved, acts as a welcome calming influence for Emily anger and balances out the book. Reading about the heartbreaking act of migrating children to Australia and Canada is still shocking despite reading about it in a few books now and is unbelievable it is in our recent history and not something from a century ago. The focus on the families searching for their children rather than the experience of the adopted child works well because you discover the horrors with the main character. It is a well researched and emotional. The complex feelings of estranged families, high expectations and grief is tackled sympathetically and pulled at my heart-strings. A box of tissues was required.

The story takes place in 1987 so sent me down memory lane with telephone boxes and not being able to do a quick internet search for information. It is amazing how much has changed in the last three decades.

Would I recommend?

Yes, it is emotional read which reveals the haunting actions of the British government of that time and highlights the turmoil the regime caused for all involved.

Author Biography

the forgotten isabella muir

Isabella Muir

Isabella Muir has been surrounded by books her whole life and – after working for twenty years as a technical editor and having successfully completed her MA in Professional Writing – she was inspired to focus on fiction writing.

As well as her newest title, The Forgotten Children, Isabella is the author of the Sussex Crime Mystery series.  These Agatha Christie style stories are set in the sixties and seventies and feature a young librarian and amateur sleuth, Janie Juke, who has a passion for Agatha Christie. All that Janie has learned from her hero, Hercule Poirot, she is able to put into action as she sets off to solve a series of crimes and mysteries.

Aside from books, Isabella has a love of all things caravan-like. She has spent many winters caravanning in Europe and now, together with her husband, she runs a small caravan site in Sussex. They are ably assisted by their much-loved Scottie, Hamish.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMuirAuthor/

https://twitter.com/SussexMysteries

https://isabellamuir.com/

Giveaway

I am pleased to share the chance to win a signed copy of The Forgotten Children ( UK only -sorry).

Click here to enter

 

Why not visit other blogs on this tour to find out more on this book and author.

Thank you Rachel giving me the chance to read this book.

Happy Reading!

Love

the forgotten children full tour banner

Guest post: When is a clever dog not a clever dog? When it’s a werewolf!

Last year I had the pleasure of reading Heide Goody and Iain Grant’s humorous and quirky A Spell in the Country as part of a blog tour and now they are back with a new book. I am pleased to have them here today to talk about clever dogs and a character Pickles in A Heart in the Right Place.

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When is a clever dog not a clever dog? When it’s a werewolf!

Iain and I try not to tell the same joke or use the same idea across multiple books. Iain noticed, a few books ago, that we had introduced a clever dog into our work more than once.

This was partly based on the insistence of my husband, whose yardstick for an engaging book is Dean Koontz’s book Watchers. He declared that any book worth reading must contain a clever dog, so a super-smart border collie called Jessie was introduced in Heide and Iain’s second book, Pigeonwings, where an ancient plot is unravelled, partly by Clovenhoof, (Satan sent to live on earth), but Jessie plays an important part in solving the mystery.

Disenchanted gave us another dog called Buster, who wasn’t exactly super-smart, but who certainly livened things up when he teamed up with the unhelpful dwarfs who were tasked with keeping the fairytale on track, by fair means or foul (mostly foul).

Beelzebelle, another book in the Clovenhoof universe, featured a demonic Hellhound, created in a laboratory. Transformed into a miniature Yorkshire terrier, the Hellhound lives on in tamer form as a regular character after its reign of terror in this novel.

Iain had spotted a pattern. “No more clever dogs.”

This was a new informal rule.

When we came to write A Heart in the Right Place, somehow we broke the rule again. The dog that Nick christens Pickles is an unplanned passenger on the road trip that Nick takes with his father. Nick wants this trip to be perfect, hoping that it will patch up the slightly remote relationship between the two of them. Nick’s over-zealous approach leads to some unintended consequences like a body in the boot and that awful smell that isn’t discussed for many miles. Pickles, meanwhile is not the last of the dog-like creatures in this story, because somehow, Nick and his father have got involved with assassins, boars and werewolves. Will Pickles be a help or a hindrance? Almost certainly both! Is this the last time that Heide and Iain will write about a clever dog. Yes, almost definitely yes…

Here is a brief excerpt from A Heart in the Right Place, where it becomes clear that the dog is going on the road trip with Nick and Tony.

“Tony gave him a sceptical look but stepped up to the rear door. “And why’s there a dog in your car?”

Nick cursed his own stupidity. How could he have forgotten about the dog? “Yeah. Funny that. I’ve, um, got a dog. It was a fairly recent thing. Just fell in love with him.”

“Great stuff!” said Tony, reaching in to fuss the dog. “Joining us for the ride, huh? What’s your name then, pooch?”

“Pickles,” said Nick instantly. “He’s called Pickles.”

“Really? Well unless I’m very much mistaken, this is a bitch.”

“Yes,” said Nick. “And her name is Pickles. It can be a girl’s name.”

“But you called her he. Is this one of those gender things I hear them going on about?”

“Probably that. Exactly that,” said Nick. “I don’t want to put labels on things. He. She. Pickles can be what she wants to be.””

 

a heart kindle cover

A Heart in the Right Place

 

Title: A Heart in the Right Place

Author: Heide Goody and Iain Grant

Genre: fiction

Release date: 30th November 2018

Blurb

All Nick wants to do is take his dying father for a perfect father-son weekend in the Scottish Highlands. It’s not much to ask, is it? A log cabin, a roaring fire, a bottle of fine whisky and two days to paper over the cracks in their relationship.

However, Nick didn’t plan on making the trip with a dead neighbour in the back of his car. Or the neighbour’s dog. He really didn’t plan on being pursued by a psychotic female assassin intent on collecting body parts. And he really, really didn’t plan on encountering a platoon of heavily armed mercenaries, or some very hungry boars, or a werewolf.

A Heart in the Right Place – a horror comedy about setting out with the very best intentions and then messing everything up.

Purchase Links:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07K4CCR74

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K4CCR74

Author Biography

 

a heart -iain and heide by pete c b+w

Heide Goody and Iain Grant

Heide Goody is the stupid one in the writing partnership and Iain Grant is the sensible one. Together, they are the authors of over a dozen books.

The ‘Clovenhoof’ series (in which Satan loses his job and has to move to Birmingham) has recently been optioned by a Hollywood production company.

Heide and Iain are both married, but not to each other.

 

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Clovenhoof-Books-285544508177333/

Website: http://www.pigeonparkpress.com/

Twitter: @HeideGoody and @IainMGrant

Giveaway – Win a gorgeous Moleskine Passion Traveller’s Journal (Open Internationally)

“The Moleskine Traveller’s Journal is a structured before and after record of every journey you make, from weekends away to life-changing trips and everything in between. Note down your travel plans before you leave and list all the things you hope to see and do, then add maps, photos, tickets and keepsakes when you r#eturn. The Traveller’s Journal is a place to dream, get practical and create a unique and lasting paper archive of your travels that you’ll want to revisit again and again.

a heart - giveaway prize - moleskin travel journal

  • premium box with themed graphics related to your passion
  • hard cover with themed debossing, rounded corners, elastic closure
  • 2 ribbon bookmarks
  • double expandable inner pocket
  • front endpaper with ‘in case of loss’ notice
  • ivory-coloured 70 g/m² acid-free paper
  • tabbed sections to guide your note-taking
  • themed introductory pages
  • 400 pages
  • themed stickers to customize your journal
  • Moleskine S.r.l. creates and sells FSC®-certified products”

Click here to enter

Thank you Heide and Iain for popping over. I agree with Heide’s husband a clever dog is always good in a book.

If you would like to read more on this writing duo and reviews for A Heart in the Right Place why not pop over to the other blogs on this tour.

Good luck in the giveaway and happy reading!

Love

a heart in the right place full tour banner

Blog tour dates

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Blog tour and review: Whisper to Me by Sherrie Lowe

Ghosts always attract my attention when I am looking for a book to read so I am happy to share my review for Whisper to Me by Sherrie Lowe as part of a blog tour by Rachel’s Random Resources. Thank you for inviting me.

Book Review: Whisper to Me by Sherrie Lowe

whisper to me ebook complete

Whisper to Me by Sheerie Lowe

Title: Whisper to Me

Author: Sherrie Lowe

Genre: Fiction

Release date: 29th September 2018

Blurb:

A new wife and a vengeful ghost. Not a good mix.

Letitia – Tish – Stanyer makes husband Theo promise never to remarry if she dies and he complies just to pacify her. She isn’t going to die.

She does – and he does remarry. Tish isn’t happy. Her spirit cannot rest with another woman in her domain, sampling the delights of her husband. Theo belongs to her – Sheena will have to go.

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Whisper-Me-Sherrie-Lowe-ebook/dp/B07HVYHD4Y/

https://www.amazon.com/Whisper-Me-Sherrie-Lowe-ebook/dp/B07HVYHD4Y/

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/901558

My Thoughts

Ever since I can remember I have joked with my family what I would do if I came back as a ghost. This book brings that idea to life when Tish dies unexpectedly after making her husband promise he would never remarry. After many years and his daughter, Saskia on the edge of flying the next Theo decides it is time he can have a relationship without knowing how much the promise meant to his wife.  I enjoyed the premise and the character of Tish and Sheena will stay with me a long time,

This is a family drama with a ghostly twist and works well. The closeness of Theo and his daughter shines through until tensions rise not only between the new and old wife but step-mum and daughter. Even without the raging spirit, it is a good study of how relationships change with a new presence in the house but with the supernatural element things are taken to a new level. The two wives are complete opposites and when Tish stepped up her hauntings, I was torn between which one to rally for perfect Tish or over the top, brash Sheena who I could not help feeling sorry for. That said the descriptions of the house once she moved in and her dog’s habit made me cringe; the imagery will always stay embedded in my mind. The dynamics between the characters drew me in and kept me in the story wondering how far will the Tish’s anger would go. I could not help wonder whether Tish was as vindictive when alive to people she disliked or whether it was driven purely by jealously.

Would I recommend?

Yes it is an enjoyable hauntingly, cosy read which makes you question what would you do if a ghost in a similar circumstance.

Author Bio

 

whisper to me - profile

Sherrie Lowe

I am a divorced mum of two adult sons and Nana to three grandchildren, soon to be four. I’ve always had a notion to write but didn’t get round to it seriously until I became ill with M.E in 1995 when I was 40 and was too ill to continue my job as a learning support assistant in a mainstream high school. I was devastated to have to resign from my job but writing saved my sanity. My first attempt was a memoir, Shadow Across the Sun which covered the loss of my mum to breast cancer two days before my 13th birthday. When the rejections began to flow in from traditional publishers and agencies I joined a creative writing class and learned to write fiction. Whisper to Me is my 10th novel. I have a strong belief in the afterlife due to events following my mum’s death so most of my stories have some form of supernatural aspect to them.

 

Social Media Links 

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

Blog https://sherrielowe.wordpress.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/SherrieLowe2

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sherrielowe40/

Giveaway

I am pleased to share with you the chance to win one of five Kindle copies of Whisper to Me. This is open internationally.

click here to enter

 

Happy reading and good luck!

Love

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

 

whisper to me full tour banner

Blog Tour: Book review for The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker by Jenni Keer

It is the start of a new week and there are rumours the weather is turning bitterly cold so I am pleased to bring you a review for Jenni Keer’s debut The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker. You may be tempted to stay under the duvet, in the warm with a cup of tea and read.

Book Review: The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker

the hopes and dreams final cover

The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker Book Cover

Title: The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker

Author: Jenni Keer

Publisher: Avon Books UK

Genre: Romance

Release Date: 10th January 2019

Blurb

Meet Lucy, aged 25, and Brenda, aged 79. Neighbours and unlikely friends.

Lucy Baker is not your usual 25-year-old. She is more at home reading and knitting in her cluttered little flat than going out partying and socialising.

79-year-old Brenda is full of wise and wonderful advice, but when she’s diagnosed with dementia her life begins to change. Before her memories slip away for ever, Brenda is desperate to fulfil one last wish – to see Lucy happy.

Gifting Lucy the locket that helped Brenda find her own true love, she hopes to push her reticent neighbour in the right direction. But is Lucy Baker ready for the opportunities and heartbreaks of the real world? It’s about time she put her knitting needles aside and found out…

The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker will be the most charming, heart-warming and feel-good novel you will read this year, perfect for fans of Ruth Hogan and Gail Honeyman.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hopes-Dreams-Lucy-Baker-heart-warming-ebook/dp/B07DQ7HKPX/

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Hopes-Dreams-Lucy-Baker-heart-warming-ebook/dp/B07DQ7HKPX/

My Thoughts

When Brenda with her purple hair, mystical air and cheeky side arrived in the first few pages I knew I would love this book. The warm, honest writing style drew me into Lucy’s life and kept me there until the last page.

This charming, quirky story is driven by the characters Jenni Keer has created; I loved them all from the main ones Lucy, Brenda and George to the men in the warehouse where Lucy works and Scratcat the stray. They all have distinct personalities and feel real. Where I could relate to Lucy with her tendency to prefer romantic books and knitting to experiencing life or rock the boat by saying “no”, it was Brenda who captured my heart. She is who I would like to be when I am older; full of life, humour and kindness with a penchant for magic. I did not want the book to end because I did not want to leave her behind. Maybe a prequel of her youth is needed, I am sure she will have an interesting tale to tell. Her battle with dementia is heartbreaking but the topic is dealt with sympathetically and gives an insight into the pressures of caring and the challenges it creates. The love and deep friendship between Lucy and Brenda shines and proves age does not matter when you are friends.

The introduction of Scratcat, George and the locket created many memorable moments and I will never forget the knitted Poldarks which also feature in this tale of friendship, love and personal growth. I enjoyed Lucy’s journey as she tackles the insecurities at work, her colleagues and potential relationships. This debut has got under my skin and I am still thinking about the characters a couple of weeks since I read The End.

I am looking forward to reading more from this author.

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Knitted Poldark one of the stars of the book

Would I recommend?

This beautiful story is perfect for snuggling down under the duvet with a cup of tea or on the beach in the summer. The humour and strong characterisation means I will revisiting this book in the future and needs to be on my forever shelf.

Author Biography

the hopes and dreams jk mono 2

Author Jenni Keer

Jenni Keer is a history graduate who embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her antique furniture restorer husband. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing women’s fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere with her number one fan #Blindcat by her side. Much younger in her head than she is on paper, she adores any excuse for fancy-dress and is part of a disco formation dance team.
Social Media Links

FaceBook Jenni Keer Writer

Twitter @JenniKeer

Instagram jennikeer

Website – https://jennikeer.co.uk/

Competition

I am pleased to share with you the chance to win a bundle of The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker goodies (UK only – sorry)*. The prize contains – Thornton’s fudge, a Nu notebook, a Hopes and Dreams bookmark and a set of five “Scratbag” blank greetings cards designed by Jenni Keer.

the hopes and dreams giveaway prize

The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker prizes

Enter here

Thank you Rachel Random Resources for inviting me on this blog tour and the opportunity to read this book early. This my honest, unbiased review.

Happy reading!

Love

the hopes and dreams of lucy baker full tour banner

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

The Complicated Business of Talking with Dystonia

The Complicated Business of Talking

Following my last post and the goal to reveal snippets of life with living with dystonia it felt apt to share the first ever post I made on my old The Ups and Downs of being Wobbly in 2013. It only feels like yesterday.

Dopa-responsive dystonia affects all my muscles now including my voice.

The Complicated Business of Talking

September 2013

I never realised how complicated talking and holding a conversation was until it began to go pear-shaped. To talk to someone many things have to occur:

1, you need to listen and remember what the person is saying
2, you need to think of an answer and the words you wish to use to express it
3, send these words to your voice box, tongue and muscles in your mouth
4, the voice box has to do what voice boxes do and your muscles have to co-ordinate themselves so the words come out.

If any of these stages falter the conversation can become tiring, difficult, frustrating and bizarre. Sometimes only one or two stages of the above partially or completely fail so I can work round it. Other times nothing will work so it’s easier to keep my mouth shut.

I can ask my family multiple times the same question before I will remember it. They must get sick of me asking 5 times whether they would like a cup of tea before I can remember it long enough to get to the kitchen. I would definitely be useless as a waitress. Telephones and having conversations in supermarkets are the worst. I think my brain decides that holding the phone and having a conversation in a noisy place is too hard and it prefers to go on strike.

There are times I know what I want to say. I can even visualise it but the word refuses to come. Good job my family are good at listening to convoluted explanations when a simple sentence would have done. Why say “it’s on the table” when you can say ” it’s on the thing in the kitchen. We sit at it for dinner”. Gestures are good too. My daughter will win at a games of charades with the practise she gets.

Other times, the words are there but trying to get my tongue, voice box and muscles in my mouth to work together is impossible over the stupidist words. Why is it so hard to say peas or beans or yes? At least the long explanations can resolve that obstacle with “green round things” or “red round things”. Again, charades work or you can play a game of fill in the blanks of a sentences. For example, “Would you ____ a cup of ____ ?

If all else fails, you can just be quiet and nod in the right places.

I am so lucky I have a great family who accepts our new way of communicating and they are becoming very good at it. I am lucky I have my trusted yellow ones (Sinemet) which gives my brain a kick start so I can have periods of the day when talking is easy and understandable. In these brief periods, I can do the phone calls I need to make and talk to friends when they visit. I guess, however tiring, difficult and frustrating talking can be, it can make life different and more interesting.

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Green Rounds Things

Love

Goal of 2019 – shouting “This is me!”

Happy New Year! The turbulent 2018 is over and a fresh chapter has begun. The first day of the year is the perfect time to take this blog in the new direction as discussed in …. I will still be blogging predominantly about my love of books, with a hint of Flamingo Paperie cards but also an insight into my wobbly life. Ever since I wrote my first post 6 years ago on my first ever blog The Ups and Downs of being Wobbly I have been anonymous – no photos of me, and I never used my name until very recently just my pseudonym, Wobblypip. Why?

Fear  – of people I know reading my thoughts, being laughed at or told I was crap.

But no more. This year I want to make a small difference to dystonia awareness using this blog and claim my words as my own. It is time to step out of the duvet and say “this is me”. I watched The Greatest Showman on Christmas day and loved it, particularly the powerful song This is me. It gave me the final push for this introduction post only 6 years late.

I am Katie – book blogger, writer, tea addict, lover of snuggly socks and wobbly person. I live in Yorkshire near the sea with my hubby, daughter and my dogs.

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This is me

My blogging journey began in a blog  documenting my wobbly life in 2013 as I wanted to raise awareness of DRD but this side slipped away when this blog was set up to support  Duvet Dwellers Book Club a book club for spoonies I founded with two others. I loved talking about books with others but chronic illness meant I could not commit to time needed to run it and there are some wonderful online book clubs to join. This blog remained but things are now coming back full circle with the aim of raising awareness, and making a difference.

I have a rare form of dystonia, dopa responsive dystonia or DRD. With the odds of having it as 1 in 2 million I would rather have won the lottery. Like people with Parkinson’s disease my brain does not produce enough dopamine to move properly. I rely on drugs to keep me moving, walking, talking and writing. They help a lot but I am still wobbly, slow and resemble a sloth at times. My mobility scooter is my trusted friend.

Awareness of dystonia in all its forms from writer’s cramp, cervical dystonia which affects the neck to the rare ones is important because it helps speed up diagnosis, raises funds for research to find a cure, better treatments and support for people with the condition. There is a high rate of loneliness in people with dystonia due to embarrassment and fear of ridicule. Muscles can contract and contort in some unimaginable ways that are impossible to do voluntarily. I am always in awe at the postures I find myself in.  Tremors can be hard to watch and when the voice is affected it communication is hampered. There can be accusations of being drunk so it can be easier to hide under the duvet.

 

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DRD text

When my dystonia is on form my hands claw to resemble an evil witch, my body and arms twist to resemble a teapot and my voice goes from stutter to silent. It is not an attractive look.

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Dystonia 

I hate the condition but without it I doubt I would have started blogging, it has introduced me to some amazing people and gives me time to read.

Last year I met the wonderful Jennifer Gilmour, a domestic abuse advocate. She is making a big difference for others with her blog and book by stepping out of the shadows and saying this is me and this is my story. Maybe I can do similar with my wobbly twisted life – if it helps one person my job is done.

Jenn and me

Jennifer Gilmour and me

Love

More info on dystonia can be found here

Book review for Crooked Daylight by Helen Slavin

Book review for Crooked Daylight by Helen Slavin

My final book review of the year is Crooked Daylight by Helen Slavin and takes the number of books I have read for my reading challenge to 84 . When I set my target of 52 I was unsure if it would be reached but despite focusing on other things, such as writing, I did it. There were so many wonderful books released this year I had to keep reading and being a member of online book groups always increases the TBR list.

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Book review for Crooked Daylight by Helen Slavin

Crooked Daylight

Crooked Daylight by Helen Slavin

Title: Crooked Daylight

Author: Helen Slavin

Genre: Paranormal, suspense

Publisher: Agora Books

Release Date: 8th Oct 2017

Blurb

The Way sisters, Anna, Charlie and Emz, were raised in two worlds. Their mother’s realm of reason, measurement and logic, and the world inhabited by their spectacularly unconventional grandmother, Hettie.

While their mother worked, the sisters ran wild at Hettie’s Cob Cottage, discovering forbidden Pike Lake, unknowable Havoc Wood, and what their grandmother referred to only as ‘The Strengths’.

But time passed, the sisters grew up, work and relationships and their mother’s world won them over, and The Strengths lay forgotten…

That is until Hettie passes away suddenly, leaving behind Cob Cottage and a whole lot of questions.

Anna is busy trying very hard not to cry as she caters yet another wedding, Charlie is spending more time at the job she loves than with the boyfriend she’s not quite sure about and Emz is dreaming up new ways to avoid school and the drama that comes with it, but can they deal with strange guests, unexpected danger and some long-forgotten memories?

My Thoughts

I was recommended this series by Mai Taylor of Mai’s Musings. If she says I will like it I know I am in for a treat. Through her, I discovered the delightful The Toymaker and colourful Caravel.

From the start with the description of their grandmother’s funeral it was clear the Way sisters do not follow the rules. They are great characters with different problems to overcome while they adapt to life without their beloved Grandmother Hettie and I loved the close bond between them. It was a joy to read the emergence of their talents with imaginative descriptions of their magic.

The setting of Cob House and the lake which is central to the story is beautiful with an eerie dangerous edge. It was easy to visualise the woods and the blackness of the lake. I could feel the pull it had on the sisters and their guest Serin Lake; I wanted to swim in it and feel the coolness despite the dangers.

This story is about relationships between sisters, grief and the supernatural with a malevolent theme throughout. There are deliciously dark moments with the action and suspense led me further into the story and kept me up past bedtime.

Helen Slavin has created a world I need to revisit to discover where the loose threads lead and where side characters fit in with the bigger picture. I can’t wait to read more.

Would I recommend?

This book lured me in within pages and kept captivated throughout. The pace quickens in the second part making it impossible to put down and left me wanting more. Luckily, the second in the series is on my Kindle waiting to be one of the first books to read in 2019. If you love tales of the paranormal and suspense give this ago.

 

Thank you for following my blog this year and I hope you all have a good 2019 with plenty of good books.

Thank you

Thank you *

Happy reading!

Love

Book Review for The List That Changed My Life by Olivia Beirne

I stumbled upon this book on Twitter. People were raving about the laughs it induced and with recommendations from my favourite authors I needed to give it ago. I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was available on NetGalley and thrilled to receive it. Scroll down to read my unbiased, honest opinion.

Book Review: The List That Changed My Life by Olivia Beirne

The List that Changed My Life cover

The List that changed my life by Olivia Beirne

Title: The List That Changed My Life

Author: Olivia Beirne

Publisher: Headline

Genre: Romance

Release date: 22nd November 2018

Blurb

Sometimes all you need is a little push…

‘One of the most hilarious books I have read for a very long time. Olivia writes with great warmth and wit – a fantastically funny debut.’ Emma Cooper, author of The Songs of Us

Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Katie Marsh and Marian Keyes, Olivia Beirne’s The List That Changed My Life takes its readers on an hilarious and heart-warming journey of a lifetime, showing us what it means to really be alive.

Georgia loves wine, reality TV and sitting on the sofa after work. She does not love heights, looking at her bank account, going on dates, or activities that involve a sports bra. And she will never, ever take a risk.

That is, until her braver, bolder, big sister finds out that she won’t be able to tick off the things she wanted to do before turning thirty, and turns to Georgia to help her finish her list.

With the birthday just months away, Georgia suddenly has a deadline to learn to grab life with both hands. Could she be brave enough to take the leap, for her sister?

And how might her own life change if she did?

My thoughts

I started to read this late Christmas Eve and was hooked. Luckily, I had a quiet Christmas and  could read between the pressie openings, munching of mince pies and dinner when everyone was distracted. This is a heart-warming, uplifting book which I needed to read and was the perfect antidote for the overindulgence of festive reading. Believe me, like mince pies with Baileys cream there comes a point when your mind says no more Christmas storylines.

Georgia is an every day 26 year old facing the daily battles with her job, rent and dating until she steps out of her comfort zone to complete her sister’s list. I could relate to her in every way so when faced with the challenges I cringed, laughed and cheered with her. Her observations and inner dialogue are accurate and funny. Though she sees Amy as the more confident, pretty and mature sister their closeness shines through. This is a story about the bond between sisters which gets stretched in difficult times.

I was intrigued to see how M.S would be conveyed but Olivia Beirne tackled Amy’s diagnosis sensitively and it was nice to see how illness affects not only the person with it but those around them. The only other book I have read with M.S central to the plot was The Breakdown Lane by Jacqueline Mitchard which traumatised me when I was facing similar neurological tests. The List That Changed My Life shows the devastation of the disease and how everyone has to adapt but it is full of fun, laughs and warmth so I came away from the book feeling positive and upbeat. It also inspired me to be more involved with charities who work tirelessly to support those in need.

Would I recommend?

Olivia Beirne has written a wonderful strong debut full of emotion and humour.  Now is the perfect time to read it as we hurtle to the end of this year and make our own lists for the upcoming one. I can’t wait to read more of her work.

Thank you NetGalley and Headline for the opportunity to read this book.

Happy reading and wish you a brilliant New Year!

P.S What are you looking forward to reading next year? Let me know in the comments below.