#QandA with author Jennifer Bohnet + #bookreview

Little kiosk by the sea cover

Format: Paperback
Publisher: HQ Stories
Published: 6th July 2017
Pages: 275 Pages

The Blurb
One summer they’ll never forget…

Meet Sabine, desperately fighting to save her little kiosk from closure whilst turning down her friend Owen’s proposals, time and time again.

Cue Harriet, returning to Dartmouth after thirty years, haunted by the scandal that drove her away and shocked by a legacy that threatens her relationship with her journalist daughter.

Enter Rachel, the mysterious newcomer who has an unexpected chemistry with a local widower, and who sets in motion a chain of events she could never have predicted…

One thing’s for sure, as the autumn tide turns, there’ll be more than one secret laid bare!

Q and A with Jennifer Bohnet

1. What gave you the idea to create The Little Kiosk by the Sea?
I love Dartmouth and having lived there I know it well. I wanted to write a story set there, based around somewhere that people meet up – but I wanted something different to cafes and bookshops. Then I remembered a friend of mine worked for a couple of summers in one of the kiosks on the embankment taking bookings for river trips and suddenly I had my different place.

2. If you could describe The Little Kiosk by the Sea in just 3 words, what would they be?
Secrets – Relationships – Hope

3. Do you have a friendship like Harriet and Sabine that’s stood the test of time?
I was about to say, no sadly I don’t. I’ve moved around a lot in my life and I’ve lost touch with lots of people. Then I realised that actually I do have a long friendship similar to the one between Harriet and Sabine. My friend and I met when we were both young mums living in Dartmouth so over thirty years ago. We don’t see each other often these days but the internet certainly makes keeping touch so much easier.

4. When I think of the beach it always involves getting an ice cream cone with scoops of Mint choc’ chip or perhaps Rum & Raisin – what flavour(s) would you choose?
Ooh I love this question – and there is absolutely no doubt as to my favourite: Coffee ice cream with a large dollop of Devonshire clotted cream on top and a flake pushed through. Calorific but yummy!

Find out more about Jennifer’s writing at www.jenniferbohnet.com

The little kiosk by the sea tour

The Review

A scrumptious seaside treat packed with love, longing and hope!

I needed The Little Kiosk by the Sea in my life because it filled me with sunshine and seasides. We don’t seem to have much sun for June/July in the UK, so I’m missing it.

The novel has a host of characters that have a connection to Dartmouth – we have brother and sister Sabine and Johnie, newcomer Rachel, plus, Harriet and her daughter Ellie. They each hold a piece of the seaside town in their hearts and it holds some beautiful memories.

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#bookreview: The A-Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson + GIVEAWAY!

The a to z of everything cover

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: 20th April 2017
Pages: 432 Pages

The Blurb
P is for Paris where it all began. J is for Jealousy where it all came undone. But the most important letter is F. F is for Forgiveness, the hardest of all.

Sisters Poppy and Rose used to be as close as two sisters could be, but it’s been over a decade since they last spoke. Until they both receive a call that tells them their mother has gone – without ever having the chance to see her daughters reunited.

Andrea, though, wasn’t the kind of woman to let a little thing like death stand in the way of her plans. Knowing her daughters better than they know themselves, she has left behind one very special last gift – the A-Z of Everything.

Purchase the book: Amazon UK | Book Depository

The Review

What a beautifully written story about the loss of a Mother and the re-building of a family saddened by loss.

With all Debbie Johnson novels, you know that you’re sat upon this emotional rollercaster that often leaves you feeling happy, sad, joyous and warmed and The A to Z of Everything is no different. It made me laugh, cry and smile – three things that make for happy reading.

Sisters Poppy and Rose are reunited (maybe the wrong word) by the death of their mother, who leaves them an A to Z quest to being them back together.

Told in the present and past by Poppy and Rose, you read their POVs with insights into their current lives (following the A to Z trail set by their mother), as well as, the past, before their falling out saw them no longer talking to one another.

The a to z of everything book tour poster

It’s no secret that they are the polar opposites – Rose deems herself as the less glamorous out of the two, a divorcee with a teenage son and a “boring” life. Poppy is a successful power-hungry woman who prides herself on her “perfect” lifestyle and appearance.

I wish Rose stopped comparing herself to Poppy all the time especially because she didn’t need to. She had achieved a lot in her lifetime and her son was a credit to her. Yes, Poppy had the money, but that’s not everything and I imagined Poppy thought the same.

The thing I loved the most was hearing about all their memories, and the good times they spent together. Plus, learning about Andrea’s lifestyle as an actress.

Win a copy of the book!

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Widdershins: 1600’s Witchcraft trails

Morning all, I hope you enjoy your weekend – I know I did! Lots of things have been going on in my life, so it’s nice to finally sit down and blog!

Today, I am part of the ‘Widdershins’ tour. Debut author Helen Steadman sees her novel Widdershins published this Saturday (July 1st), which uncovers the story of the Newcastle witch trials of the 1600’s, following apprentice healer Jane Chandler who uses herbs to cure the sick.

Was the Newcastle witch-finder the earliest example of local authority performance-related pay?

The common council of Newcastle, in perhaps the earliest incidence of local authority performance-related pay, is said to have paid the witch-finder twenty shillings per witch.

Things were just as grim down south, where Aldeburgh spent over one-seventh of its annual budget on witch-finding. They had to pay for the witchfinder general, Matthew Hopkins, and a special tax was put in place to raise money.

But it seems that either inflation set in, or prices rose further north. When the Scottish witch-finder fled Newcastle following the trials, John Wheeler stated that he went ‘went into Northumberland, to try women there, where he got of some three pound a-peece’.

Dr Fian engaged in necromancy (Source: Newes from Scotland)

According to John Wheeler, Henry Ogle a former MP seized him, but the witch-finder got away again, this time mostly likely back to his native Scotland. There is a record of him there being paid six pounds for ‘brodding ’ a woman called Margaret Denham at Burncastle near Lauder. In addition to this eye-watering fee, it seems Kincaid also charged a further four pounds for ‘meat and drink and wyne’. More worryingly, two men were also paid forty-five pounds for guarding Margaret Denham for a month. It seems that the witch-finding industry was a most profitable one. Not least, because Margaret Denham was a wealthy woman who had to pay for her own testing and execution, which still left sixty-five pounds following her death.

Hugo Arnot’s Criminal Trials, appendix, in J. Sands (1881) Sketches of Tranent in the Olden Time, Chapter 3 ‘Witchcraft, 1591’.
Ralph Gardiner (1849 [1655]) England’s Grievance Discovered in Relation to the Coal Trade. North Shields: Philipson and Hare. Ch. 53.
Newes from Scotland (1591) ‘Declaring the damnable life of Doctor Fian a notable sorcerer, who was burned at Edenbrough in Ianuarie last.’ London: William Wright (in Special Collection Ferguson Al-a.36 at Glasgow University).

Be sure to take a look at the previous stops on the tour – they’re fab’ hosts! My review of Widdershins will be on the blog soon!

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#bookreview: Wishbones by Virginia Macgregor

Format: Paperback
Publisher: HQ Stories
Published: 23rd May 2017
Pages: 384 Pages

The Blurb

Feather Tucker has two wishes:

1) To get her mum healthy again
2) To win the Junior UK swimming championships

When Feather comes home on New Year’s Eve to find her mother – one of Britain’s most obese women- in a diabetic coma, she realises something has to be done to save her mum’s life. But when her Mum refuses to co-operate Feather realises that the problem run deeper than just her mum’s unhealthy appetite.

Over time, Feather’s mission to help her Mum becomes an investigation. With the help of friends old and new, and the hindrance of runaway pet goat Houdini, Feather’s starting to uncover when her mum’s life began to spiral out of control and why. But can Feather fix it in time for her mum to watch her swim to victory? And can she save her family for good?

Purchase the book: Amazon UK| Book Depository

The Review

A unique and heartbreaking tale of teenager, Feather, and her mother’s struggle with obesity.

Wishbones is a story told through the eyes of Feather, a girl that has a lot of responsibility on her young shoulders. She’s having to support her mother in her battles with obesity. It’s no secret that her mother is morbidly obese, but people seem to know the reasoning behind her comfort eating – why won’t anyone tell Feather?

Her main goal is to get her mother healthy again, but how can someone be helped if they won’t help themselves? Feather doesn’t overpower or demand actions, she merely supports her mother in anyway she can – bringing a slimming group to her house and cooking her healthier meals; she even tries to rebuild her parent’s marriage – her Dad is struggling too. However, her mother can’t comprehend the changes and gets frustrated with Feather, when all Feather wants to do is help.

I’ve never experienced the level of emotional strain that such an issue can have, so I can only feel for Feather and her determination. To Feather, her mother is her best friend and the only person she can rely on, so when she learns of secrets it’s only natural that she feels hurt. Not only that, but she gets frustrated because she can’t understand why. Surely it’s easy to just stop your unhealthy habits? She’s also scared that her mother is going to die, a feeling you don’t want any child to experience.

Not only was Feather dealing with her family life, she too had emotional troubles of her own. Every teenager has experienced their first love and then equally the heartache of it ending (not all, but most!), which Feather saw coming from new guy, Clay. When he joined the small village, her heart fluttered, but his inner secrets caused their relationship to not develop. Clay had his own struggles with food, which I thought was a great thing to highlight, as eating habits and body image doesn’t restrict themselves to gender – it affects us all.

I’m not going to lie, Wishbones is emotional – particularly the feeling of sadness – but three are elements of companionship and love. The inclusion of characters Jake (her best friend, Mrs Zas and Rev Cootes aids to Feather’s support network and help her in times of solace.

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#bookreview: Sweetpea by CJ Skuse

Format: E-book (Kindle)
HQ Stories
Published: 20th April 2017
Pages: 384 Pages

The Blurb
The last person who called me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead…

I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcoholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret.

Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.

From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming, Rhiannon’s ready to get her revenge.

Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder…

Purchase the book: Amazon UK

The Review

This review warrants a good ol’ keyboard bash of excitement because Sweetpea was BRILLIANT. Fnkjfndjnfjsdk ffni489b’#.glfkjgh896uhjkhjgf9huj950fnkjfndjnfjsdk ffni489b’#.glfkjgh896uhjkhjgf9huj950 – see what I did there? LOTS OF BASHING!

Sweetpea is not for the faint-hearted, or those that are shocked easily because you can guarantee there will be swearing, sexual and crude references, plus dark dark humour – all of which adds tonnes of dimension to the diary style story. One thing that I didn’t like, and there’s only one, please can we stop using the c word, please? I don’t know why, but it’s a swear word that I just can’t get my head around, the rest don’t phase me, just the c one. It’s all personal preference, though!

Rhiannon has a kill list, and a lot of people need to be careful as they might just be on it. Each chapter starts off with the list, detailing a selection of people that she wouldn’t mind bumping off. I’m not suggesting by any means that killing someone is acceptable, but there are a few people on the list that really don’t help their cause, and in her eyes, probably deserve it. Sometimes she’s lucky and is able to kill, others not so much.

Even though you know she’s a killer, you strangely find her endearing – she’s funny, blunt and honest, probably all the things you wouldn’t expect from someone like her. I’m not justifying her actions, but let’s just say that Rhiannon hasn’t had the best start to life, what with being involved in a nursery massacre and her being the only survivor. She did have a nasty head injury and I think her troubled mind probably comes from that experience – you’ve got to be a little troubled,  haven’t you?

There’s even talk about Sweetpea becoming a TV programme and I cannot wait – perhaps it’ll have the same kind of vibe as Dexter.

If you’ve not read any other books by CJ Skuse, take a look at my reviews for Monster and The Deviants.

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#bookreview: The Other Us By Fiona Harper

The Other Us Cover

Format: Paperback
Publisher: HQ Stories
Published: 4th May 2017
Pages: 384 Pages

The Blurb
If you could turn back time, would you choose a different life?

Forty-something Maggie is facing some hard truths. Her only child has flown the nest for university and, without her daughter in the house, she’s realising her life, and her marriage to Dan, is more than a little stale.

When she spots an announcement on Facebook about a uni reunion, she can’t help wondering what happened to Jude Hanson. The same night Dan proposed, Jude asked Maggie to run away with him, and she starts to wonder how different her life might have been if she’d broken Dan’s heart and taken Jude up on his offer.

Wondering turns into fantasising, and then one morning fantasising turns into reality. Maggie wakes up and discovers she’s back in 1992 and twenty-one again. Is she brave enough to choose the future she really wants, and if she is, will the grass be any greener on the other side of the fence?

Two men. Two very different possible futures. But is there only once chance at happiness?

Purchase the book: Amazon UK | Book Depository

The Review

What would you do if you had the chance to re-live your past? That’s what happens to Maggie, a forty-something mother who is bored with her current life and wants a change. Maggie gets the chance to turn back time and make different choices in her life, but what will the consequences be?

This book is full of what-ifs: what if Maggie had said yes more often, what if Maggie picked Jude, rather than Dan? what if she had lots of money? Essentially, a whole bunch of what-ifs. Maggie takes you through her journey of self-discovery, detailing her past and enlightens you into what happened before she married her husband Dan and had her daughter.

I think we’ve all experienced what Maggie is going through, haven’t we? Not so much that we hate our lives (unless you do!), but sometimes we always wonder how things may have turned out if we’d picked something different. I don’t have regrets, but I do wish I’d done (a few) things differently. I wish I was a more outgoing when I was younger, but then it could have made me into the person I am today – who knows?

I think I felt sorry for Maggie because she was stuck in a rut and I doubt that she was feeling the best. However, I don’t think she should have wished for a different life – Dan was her husband, and although he was moody, that’s not really a good enough reason to want to see what it was like to be with her ex Jude. Perhaps it’s the whole let’s see what happens and if it hits me in the face, so be it!

I like how Fiona included dimension to other characters: Jude, Dan, and her best friend (the name has totally left my head) because they definitely aided in how Maggie was feeling. Out of the two men that Maggie was pinning over, I much preferred Dan because he cared more about Maggie regardless if she couldn’t see it; he loved her dearly.

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