Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The Friend by Dorothy Koomson

What secrets would you kill to keep?

After her husband’s big promotion, Cece Solarin arrives in Brighton with their three children, ready to start afresh. But their new neighbourhood has a deadly secret.

Three weeks earlier, Yvonne, a very popular parent, was almost murdered in the grounds of the local school – the same school where Cece has unwittingly enrolled her children.

Already anxious about making friends when the parents seem so cliquey, Cece is now also worried about her children’s safety. By chance she meets Maxie, Anaya and Hazel, three very different school mothers who make her feel welcome and reassure her about her new life.

That is until Cece discovers the police believe one of her new friends tried to kill Yvonne. Reluctant to spy on her friends but determined to discover the truth, Cece must uncover the potential murderer before they strike again .

Title:    The Friend
Author: Dorothy Koomson
Published By: Century
Publication Date: 1st June 2017
Links: UK: Amazon   US: Amazon

My Review

With friends like this who needs enemies?
When Cece reluctantly moves from London to Brighton to be with her husband she enrols her twins into the local private school. As soon as she enters it she can sense something is not right and discovers that one of the mums had been found on the grounds after being attacked and was now lying in a coma.
Through the children Cece makes friends with three other women Hazel, Maxie and Anaya who were all friends with Yvonne.

At the beginning of the book I found I really had to concentrate because the story was split into each of the women's point of view but each story went from present to recent past and then more distant past. I soon got used to it and was able to learn more about the characters this way.

Each of the women are hiding secrets about what happened to Yvonne and refuse to speak to her husband about it. They even make a pact to refuse to speak to each other.

Partway through we meet a blast from Cece's past who further adds to the intrigue. We also discover that she has problems of her own.
Cece liked her new friends and as they got to know her more they confided in her so we were able to discover whether they had any reason to attack Yvonne.

Cece was my favourite character by far closely followed by Anaya. I think I would have felt a bit intimidated by the other two.

At first I felt sorry for Yvonne but the more I found out the more I began to dislike her and even hate her for the way she was however I did eventually feel some pity but still disliked her. Though to give her her due she was actually right about one of the things she had said, however her motives were not good.

As we discovered more about Anaya I felt so angry about what had happened to her. I would have shaken Hazel to try and get her to see sense and could completely sympathise with Maxie's situation.

As the drama unfolded I found I was racing through the book and enjoyed every minute of being on Cece's journey with her

This reminded me in some ways of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty with the school setting and that Yvonne was the alpha female of the school mums but the story was completely different to that.  I would love to know what happens next.

This is not a book to be rushed but is to be savoured. Dorothy Koomson has captured the essence of how some mums feel at the school gates and weaves these individual stories together skilfully so you are dying to find out what happens next.

I will now be chomping at the bit for the next book as Dorothy is one of my all time favourite authors.

Huge thanks to Century publishing for the arc which I have reviewed voluntarily.

Book Angel x

About the Author

I wrote my first (unpublished) novel when I was 13 - and I've been making up stories ever since.

After finishing my masters degree, I had several temping jobs before getting my big break in journalism working on small newspaper. In the evenings I continued to write fiction and in 2001 I had the idea for The Cupid Effect. Two years later it hit the shelves and my career as a published novelist began.

In 2006 my third novel, My Best Friend's Girl, was published and was selected for the Richard & Judy Summer Reads Book Club - going on to sell over 750,000 copies. My novel Marshmallows for Breakfast has sold over 250,000 copies in paperback. To date I've written six bestseller list books, and they have been translated into 28 languages across the world.

I live near Brighton and am currently working on another book and a screenplay. Find out more info at www.dorothykoomson.co.uk

Monday, 26 June 2017

My Favourite Things by Mary Lewis, Writer & Blogger

Being married to a man of Italian descent who can cook up a storm, food is really important to me. Unfortunately I am on a medical diet, so I can’t have everything I love at the moment, but usually my favourites are Salmon with grilled vegetables and my sweet treat is Milka chocolate. I eat it two squares together, which have to be sucked!

Tea!! I know boring, but I love it. One sweetener, milk in my favourite mug. Alcoholic I like the odd glass of Prosecco or Southern Comfort – neat.

Blimey Annette, that’s a harsh question. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has always been my favourite book since I read it at school. From my childhood I still love and read The Folk of the Faraway Tree. Enid Blyton wrote The Enchanted Wood and The Magic Faraway Tree too, but the Folk book is my favourite. My Grandad used to read it to me and the descriptive writing would whisk me away to the lands at the top of the tree. Another favourite was The Little Grey Rabbit Series by Alison Uttley. The drawings by Margaret Tempest are exquisite and Fuzzypeg the hedgehog was the cutest. 

Another tough one. I buy every book Jill Mansell and Katie Fforde write and always have. I also enjoy Heidi Swain – not just because she’s one of my dearest friends, but I love her gentle, romantic writing and I want to live in Wynbridge. Lucy Holliday is also a favourite of mine with her An Night in with…….. series and Iona Grey blew me away with Letters to the Lost.

Book character has to be Moonface from The Faraway Tree books. He always seemed so friendly and wise plus he had a huge slide called the slippery slip! What’s not to love?

In film The Godfather played by Marlon Brando. Cool, calm and menacing. Brilliant.

My favourite song has always been ‘Boys of Summer’ by Don Henley. Nothing can be better than that song blaring out in the car, windows down, sun shining and me singing tunelessly along.

I also adore Vide Cor Meum by Patrick Cassidy, which was composed for the film Hannibal. It accompanies the opera scene in Florence. I married my husband in Florence and I walked down the aisle to this beautiful, haunting melody sung by Danielle de Niese and Bruno Lazzeretti.

Holiday destination:
Has to be Florence. As I mentioned we married there, so it will always have a special place in my heart. Sitting watching the sunset over the Ponte Vecchio with my husband and son on the steps of the Piazzale Michelangelo is the place I go to in my head when I am feeling stressed. We married in the magnificent Palazzo Vecchio and we always go back there when we visit.

Ireland is also another special place. My Grandad was originally from Cork, so I am part Irish and my fabulous Mum and Dad in-law now live there. Their house is in the middle of nowhere and is ideal for writing and reading.

Has to be a cat. We had a cat for nearly 19 years named Darcy – after Jim Dale’s character in Carry on Don’t Lose Your Head, Lord Darcy Pew. Unfortunately he passed away last year and he has left an enormous gap in our family and our hearts are broken. He was a real character and very much a member of the family.

This quote sums up my feelings “Quite simply I miss you terribly. The world is too quiet without you nearby”.

In general I love the cat’s aloofness to the world. They don’t care if you are there or not, as long as you feed them.

Obviously my husband Dylan and our son Glen are the most important people in my life and my reason for living.

I was raised by my Grandparents and my Grandad Gene was my complete hero. He died when I was 11, but in those short years the lessons in life he instilled in me remain with me today.

My other hero is Professor Omar Devaja. He was my Oncology surgeon and I owe my life to him. Being diagnosed with cancer was a big shock, but he steered us through the process and for all the years afterwards was a source of comfort. He rocks!

And of course Taylor Lautner for completely obvious reasons.

Place to write:
I like to write outdoors when I can, however I am usually found on our sofa in our little cottage. Not very glamorous, but practical.

Autumn. The light that appears on autumnal sunny days is staggering. The colours in nature are so vivid and it’s an assault on your senses. I love dark evenings with candles lit and snuggling up with a good book. Walks through leaves whilst wrapped up in a scarf and a fluffy hat are something I look forward to.

Tradition: We tend to watch ‘The Life of Brian’ by Monty Python every Christmas Eve. It always makes us chuckle.

Inspirational quote:
‘She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible.

She walked with the universe on her shoulders and made it look like a pair of wings’.

This was sent to me after I had my third major operation for cancer and cheered me up.

Thing in the world:
That’s very hard, but the one item that has been with me all my life is Larry my pink lamb. My Nana bought him the day I was born and he still sits on my bed.

Thanks for joining us Mary on My Favourite Things.
Thanks Annette for some really thought provoking questions.

I am Mary Anne Lewis an aspiring author and was accepted into the New Writers Scheme of the Romantic Novelists Association in 2016. I write romantic comedy mainly, but I dabble in short stories, thrillers and comedy too. I adore reading and I have a blog where I review and chat about books.

I beat cancer – YAY! I still have issues caused by radiotherapy damage, but I’m alive and kicking. I am now a Jo’s Trust Voice where I campaign for Cancer Awareness and screening. They are the only charity who support women and their partners through Cervical Cancer. I have a stoma/colostomy and campaign for invisible disabilities and the normalisation of colostomy wearers.

I am nearly 44 – I8 in my head – Mum to a nearly 23 year old and wife to a 40 year old!
You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on my blog.

Blog: http://marylewiswritersblog.blogspot.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Marylewiswriter/?ref=bookmarks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaryLewisWriter

Instagram: @MaryLewisWriter

Book Angel x

Monday, 19 June 2017

Skin Deep by Laura Wilkinson

Art student and former model Diana has always been admired for her beauty, but what use are good looks when you want to shine for your talent? Insecure and desperate for inspiration, Diana needs a muse.

Facially disfigured four-year-old Cal lives a life largely hidden from the world. But he was born to be looked at and he needs love too. A chance encounter changes everything and Cal becomes Diana’s muse. But as Diana’s reputation develops and Cal grows up, their relationship implodes.

Both struggle to be accepted for what lies within.
Is it possible to find acceptance in a society where what's on the outside counts for so much?

Title: Skin Deep
Author: Laura Wilkinson
Published By: Accent Press
Publication Date: 15th June 2017
Links: UK: Amazon  US: Amazon 

Our Review

One of the best things about being a blogger is that I'm often asked to review books that I wouldn't necessarily have heard about or chosen for myself and I think that is broadening my horizons and daring me to dip into different genre's.
If I had to choose two words to describe Skin Deep I would say it was unique and intriguing.
I loved the style of writing, the descriptive prose was very impressive and painted clear pictures of the settings and the characters.
Diana is a student in a dingy place in Manchester, she shares her digs with her best friend Linda and a scruffy but lovable guy called Alan lives next door. They also meet another guy called Jim who is very handsome and both girls fancy him even though he is a bit of a rough diamond.
The atmosphere of the beginning of the book suggests a very seedy lifestyle with drugs involved and when at a party in a scruffy flat Diana meets a young boy who is terribly deformed and has been hidden away. Even though she is initially terrified of him, she eventually falls in love with him and wants to adopt him.
Diana is very beautiful but because of her relationship with her pushy mother who wanted her to be a model she rejects her beauty. The relationship she has with Cal becomes confusing in that she almost reflects how her mother treated her and the love becomes conditional.
I don't know if I liked Diana all that much at first because she was such a contradiction to herself. She loved Cal so much but eventually expected too much from him. She was selfless towards him but also selfish at the same time. I felt sorry for her partner as he wanted a baby but she wouldn't have one because of Cal.
It is one of the most interesting books I've read and I couldn't stop thinking about it all day and felt relieved to get back to it as I was desperate to know what happened. I found that I really cared about the characters and my heart goes out to Cal.
A unique and intriguing story that will capture your heart. Thanks to Accent press for the ARC which I have reviewed voluntarily.

Book Angel x

Follow the blog tour here...

About the Author

Laura Wilkinson is the author of three critically acclaimed novels: Redemption Song, Public Battles, Private Wars and The Family Line. She grew up in North Wales and now lives in Brighton with her family.

My Favourite Things by Laura Wilkinson

Food  Savoury:
Vietnamese. I adore the freshness, the fragrance and the heat that runs through the dishes.

And sweet:
Victoria sponge cake. What’s not to like?

Amaretto Sour. One of my favourite cocktail bars in my home town of Brighton is Valentino’s where they serve a mean Sour. Yum!

I find it impossible to name only one because I love so many. Here’s a small selection:
El Cid, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Legally Blonde, Pretty Woman, Raise the Red Lantern, Trainspotting, The English Patient, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Doctor Zhivago, Life of Brian, Dangerous Liaisons…

Ditto above! Rebecca, Emma, Beloved, The Handmaid’s Tale, Slaughterhouse 5, The Secret Garden, Perfume, After You’d Gone, One Day, The Friday Gospels, Animals, Heart of Darkness, Atonement, Possession, The God of Small Things, The Night Watch, The Time Traveler’s Wife, the list goes on and on…

I am constantly humbled by the talent out there but I am consistently awed by the likes of Maggie O’Farrell, Margaret Attwood, Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Emma Donoghue, Claire Keegan, Kate Atkinson, Toni Morrison, Jojo Moyes, Sarah Waters, Louise Doughty, Jenn Ashworth, Sarah Rayner, Kate Harrison. Of the classics I adore Jane Austen, Daphne du Maurier, Kurt Vonnegut and Bernice Rubens (not strictly a classic but her work is incredible. I miss her).

Emma, from Austen’s classic, Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden, Cathy in Never Let Me Go, Laura in Animals, I could go on. You’d never guess I’m a list person, would you?!

It all depends on mood but I’m always up for Let Down from Radiohead’s OK Computer, Cut Here by The Cure and any Abba Song.

Holiday destination:
Greek islands, probably Crete, New York City, almost anywhere in Italy.

Dolphins, otters, penguins. I’m a water sign and I’ve often wondered if this is why I am so fond of watery creatures. That said, I’m not keen on most fish (!)

My husband, Fred, aka The BigFella, and my sons, the Gingers (1 & 2). It’s a cliché but they really do make the good things worthwhile and the not-so-good bearable.

Place to write:
I have a garden office and it’s quite new, and I love, love, love it! After years of writing wherever I could find a corner in our not-terribly-big house it is such a joy – and privilege  - to have such a space. I’m very lucky.

Summer all the way. I’m passionate about clothes and style (not that you’d often know it to look at me) and a beautiful dress gets me very excited. And most dresses look soooo much prettier with bare legs. Or thick black tights. God bless the person who invented opaque tights. To summarise: Jamaica over Siberia, though I do love that we have four seasons in the UK. Change is good.

Phew, I’m not huge on tradition though I recognise how important it can be. We humans mark significant transitions in order to understand and give voice to our joy, pain, confusion, sense of being part of a whole, something bigger than ourselves. Christmas, Easter and the like are fantastic for family gatherings but I enjoy the smaller traditions like fresh coffee in the morning and marvelling at a full moon as much.

Inspirational quote:
‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’ (Oscar Wilde)

Thing in the whole world:
Life itself. What an incredible adventure it is.

Skin Deep Blurb:

It’s what’s inside that counts…

Art student and former model Diana has always been admired for her beauty but what use are good looks when you want to shine for your talent? Insecure and desperate for inspiration, Diana needs a muse.

Facially disfigured four-year-old Cal lives a life largely hidden from the world. But he was born to be looked at and he needs love too. A chance encounter changes everything; Cal becomes Diana’s muse. But as Diana’s reputation develops and Cal grows up, their relationship implodes.

Both struggle to be accepted for what lies within.
Is it possible to find acceptance in a society where what's on the outside counts for so much?

Buy links

About Laura:

Liverpool born, Laura is a taff at heart. She has published six novels for adults (two under a pseudonym) and numerous short stories, some of which have made the short lists of international competitions. She’s spoken at festivals and events nationwide, including the Frome Festival, Gladfest, University of Kingston, The Women’s Library and Museum in Docklands. She lives in Brighton with her husband and sons.

Thanks so much for joining us on My Favourite Things
Book Angel x

Thursday, 15 June 2017

After the Fall by Julie Cohen

From the author who brought you Dear Thing, Julie Cohen, comes After the Fall--a poignant, beautifully heartbreaking novel about what it means to be family, the ties that bind us, and the secrets that threaten to tear us apart.

When an unfortunate accident forces Honor back into the lives of her widowed daughter-in-law, Jo, and her only granddaughter, Lydia, she cannot wait to be well enough to get back to her own home. However, the longer she stays with Jo and Lydia, the more they start to feel like a real family. But each of the three women is keeping secrets from the others that threaten to destroy the lives they've come to know.

Honor's secret threatens to rob her of the independence she's guarded ferociously for eighty years.

Jo's secret could destroy the "normal" family life she's fought so hard to build and maintain.

Lydia's secret could bring her love--or the loss of everything that matters most to her.

One summer's day, grandmother, mother and daughter's secrets will be forced out in the open in a single dramatic moment that leaves them all asking: is there such a thing as second chances?

Title: After the Fall
Author: Julie Cohen
Published By: St Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: 2nd May 2017
Links: UK: Amazon   US: Amazon

Our Review

This is my first book by Julie Cohen and I have to say its one of the most beautiful and thought provoking books I've ever read. Having just finished it I can still feel tingles down my spine.

The book begins by an elderly lady, Doctor Honor Levenson falling down the stairs and breaking her hip, we find out that she lives alone and is rushed off to hospital.

The story then switches to a single mum called Jo who has a teenage daughter called Lydia from her first marriage and two younger children from her second marriage, she is trying her best to raise her children and trying not to hold a grudge against the au pair her second husband ran off with.

Then we switch to Lydia's point of view, she is about to do her GCSE's and is suffering from the usual teenage angst but also whilst trying to deal with her sexuality. She also still carries grief from her father's death.

Then we discover that the link between the three women is that Honor is Jo's first husband's mother and Lydia's grandmother. Jo is surprised to find that Honor put her down as next of kin as the two women had never really got on.

Jo is a lovely character who always thinks of other people but Honor doesn't appreciate this, even though Jo invites her to live with them until she recovers. When Honor realises she can't afford a private nurse she reluctantly takes up Jo's offer.

Lydia is my favourite character, at first she seems really popular, cool and level headed but then just one embarrassing slip causes her world to be turned upside down. Having a teenage daughter myself I know how realistic the scenario is and how fragile our teenagers are. I thought that the subject of mental health was handled very sensitively and responsibly.

The story unfolds by switching to each of the three women's points of view and I found the characters were so well written that I was able to immediately feel the pain and joy that each of them went through even though they were three different generations.

The story really explores the feelings of guilt that one has both by being a mother and a daughter and always wondering if you are doing the right thing.

The relationship between all three women grows as they begin to understand and appreciate their differences and maybe come to realise that in some ways they are not so different after all. One of the observations I think the book highlights is that how we are all pulled in different directions by the various relationships we have with people, be it friends, daughters, mothers, lovers.

A beautifully written heart wrenching story with wonderfully complex characters that gradually learn to fit together.

Thank you to Transworld for the ARC which I have reviewed voluntarily.

Book Angel x

About the Author

Julie Cohen grew up in the western mountains of Maine. Her house was just up the hill from the library and she spent many hours walking back and forth, her nose in a book. She studied English Literature at Brown University and Cambridge University and is a popular speaker and teacher of creative writing, including classes for The Guardian and Literature Wales. Her books have been translated into fifteen languages and have sold nearly a million copies; DEAR THING was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. Julie lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and a terrier of dubious origin.

You can find Julie on Twitter: @julie_cohen or you can visit her website: www.julie-cohen.com.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Map that leads to you by J. P. Monninger

Two strangers take the road less traveled...

Heather Mulgrew's world is already mapped out: she is going to travel abroad with her friends after college, come back to a great career in September, and head into a life where not much is left to chance. But that was before an encounter on an overnight train introduces her to Jack, a passionate adventurer who changes the course of her journey and her life.

Throwing Heather's careful itinerary to the wind, they follow Jack's grandfather's journal through post-World War II era Europe: Vienna, Budapest, Turkey--exotic places that serve only to heighten their feelings. As September looms, Jack urges Heather to stay with him, to keep traveling, to give in to the romance of their experience; Heather convinces him to return to the United States.

Jack has a secret that could change everything. And Heather's world is about to be shaken to the core.

J.P. Monniger's The Map That Leads to You is a breathtaking novel about love, loss, and the best-laid plans that are meant to be broken.

Title: The Map that Leads to You
Author:   J.P. Monninger
Published By: St Martin's Press
Publication Date: 13th June 2017
Links: UK: Amazon  US: Amazon

Our Review

A beautiful heartbreaking love story about a young couple who meet on a train whilst travelling round Europe.
Heather is travelling with her two best friends, Amy and Constance and I really loved their friendship as they had such a strong bond.
Amy is more flighty than the other two and enjoys a flirt but when Heather meets the gorgeous Jack on the train they strike up a relationship straight away and Constance falls for his Australian friend Raef.
Jack was very handsome and playful but with a great depth to him. I have to admit I fell in love with him myself and really felt part of the journey.
He was a little hard on Heather because she had a job in a bank all lined up for when she returned to New York and he tried to open her eyes to the fact that life had more to offer than a boring office job.
The reason he was travelling was because he was following a journey his grandad took just after the war. He had written about his travels in a journal which Jack was fascinated with.
Jack injected lots of excitement and adventure in Heather's life as he encouraged her to go off the beaten track with him and find out more about the countries they visited rather than doing what every tourist does.
I really enjoyed the glimpses of the different countries they visited and also how strongly their feelings developed for each other. Neither of them had expected to meet someone that they would fall in love with.
I think the message I got from this book was that you should live for the moment.
I especially loved the planting of the tree moment. I don't want to give anything away but when something unexpected happened I literally couldn't put the book down until I finished and then it broke my heart. I think this book will stay with me for a long time.

Book Angel x

About the Author

J.P. MONNINGER, author of The Map That Leads to You, is an award-winning writer in New England and Professor of English at Plymouth State University.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Last Breath by Robert Bryndza

He’s your perfect date. You’re his next victim.

When the tortured body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, her eyes swollen shut and her clothes soaked with blood, Detective Erika Foster is one of the first at the crime scene. The trouble is, this time, it’s not her case.

While she fights to secure her place on the investigation team, Erika can’t help but get involved and quickly finds a link to the unsolved murder of a woman four months earlier. Dumped in a similar location, both women have identical wounds – a fatal incision to their femoral artery.

Stalking his victims online, the killer is preying on young pretty women using a fake identity. How will Erika catch a murderer who doesn’t seem to exist?

Then another girl is abducted while waiting for a date. Erika and her team must get to her before she becomes another dead victim, and, come face to face with a terrifyingly sadistic individual.

Gripping, tense and impossible to put down, Last Breath will have you on the edge of your seat, racing to the final dramatic page.

Title: Last Breath
Author: Robert Bryndza
Published By: Bookouture
Publication Date: 12th April 2017
Links: UK: Amazon     US: Amazon

My Review

Robert Bryndza does it again with his latest book 'Last Breath.' My body was tense and I was quite literally on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading it.

Detective Erika Foster is desperate to work on a murder investigation when a young girl's body turns up in a dumpster. Her determination pays off and she is soon on the team. She is the one who links it to another case and discovers that it wasn't a one off killing but a serial killer they were dealing with.
The build up of suspense escalates throughout the whole of the book and I'm sure I was holding my breath for most of it.

The use of social media and online dating involved in the crimes that are covered in this book are very realistic, highly topical and actually terrifying when you see what happens if the wrong person is able to access your details

Erika's relationship with Peterson has developed a little but I'm still not convinced he's the right one for her. She has become a lot better at following protocol but she does make a mistake which at one point seems like history is repeating itself.

There is another investigation which is being carried out and I think that we will possibly find out more about that in subsequent books.

I think there could be something between Erika and Marsh in the future as I think they have chemistry.

I really like the relationship between Erika and Isaac as I think he is a great friend to her.

The only problem I have with a Robert Bryndza book is that it's always over too quickly and I can't wait for the next one.

Thanks to Bookouture for the Arc which I have reviewed voluntarily.

Book Angel x

About the Author

Robert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestseller The Girl in the Ice. The Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller is the first book in the Detective Erika Foster series.

The Night Stalker, and Dark Water are the second and third books in the series, and you can now pre-order the fourth, Last Breath which will be published on April 12th 2017.

Robert's books have sold over 1.7 million copies, and have been translated into 26 languages.

In addition to writing crime fiction, Robert has published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels. He is British and lives in Slovakia.

You can find out more about the author at www.robertbryndza.com and on Twitter and Instagram @RobertBryndza

Sign up to Robert Bryndza‘s New Release Mailing List here: http://eepurl.com/UITxz

My Favourite Things by Paige Toon, Author

Thing: My campervan, Hermie

Hermie – otherwise known as Herman the German – is our 19-year-old campervan. Last summer, I went to Padstow, Cornwall, with my family, and as we were driving out of the campsite, I thought, this would be the perfect setting for my new book. The Last Piece of My Heart is set at the same campsite, the locations are all real, and even Hermie features in the book!

Holiday destination: Australia

I grew up in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia and my entire family still lives Down Under, so I try to visit as often as I can. Sometimes that’s only every two years and then I feel pretty homesick. So many of my books are inspired by my time growing up there – in fact, Pictures of Lily is set in the Adelaide Hills, so it feels very close to home.

Song: When You Were Young by the Killers

This song came out around the time I got a book deal, and I listened to it so much during the writing of Lucy in the Sky that it will always remind me of that, which was one of the best times in my life. I have written stories, poems and songs ever since I can remember so I was so happy to have a book deal after thinking it might never happen. It would’ve been the biggest regret of my life and I still pinch myself every day.

My new book, The Last Piece of My Heart, is out now! Click here to buy Sign up to The Hidden Paige at paigetoon.com to receive my emails, which often include free hidden chapters and mini sequels.

Paige Toon was born in 1975 and grew up between England, Australia and America, following her racing driver father around the globe. A philosophy graduate, she worked at teen, film and women's magazines, before ending up at Heat magazine as Reviews Editor. Paige is married, has two small children and lives in Cambridge.

Thanks so much for joining us on My Favourite Things

Book Angel x

Monday, 5 June 2017

My Favourite Things by Rebecca Pugh, Author & Blogger

Food Savoury and sweet:
Savoury food 
Chicken tikka curry!

Sweet food
Cinnamon buns.

A nice, hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Jill Mansell, without a doubt.

I LOVE Meryl Steep’s character (Miranda) in The Devil Wears Prada, but book-wise I adore Belle from Beauty and the Beast. There’s something gentle yet subtly determined about her, and I love that combination.

Kiss from a Rose by Seal

Holiday destination
I haven’t visited but I would say my favourite *dream* holiday destination would be Hawaii.


My mother.

Place to write
Sat cross-legged on the bed.


To go home on Christmas Eve and enjoy the best time of the year with my family and loved ones.

Inspirational quote
‘Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m Possible’.’

Thing in the whole world
That little burst of happiness that surfaces at the most random moments but puts a massive smile on your face and makes you feel as if you’re on top of the world.

I’m Rebecca Pugh and I’m a twenty-four-year old writer of digital eBooks with HQ Digital UK. I’ll usually be found writing my own books or reading somebody else’s, and I love nothing more than curling up with a good book and a hot cup of tea while it’s pouring down outside. That, to me, is the very definition of cosy!

Book links
My books UK - Amazon

My books US - Amazon

Social Media Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Rebecca-Pugh-439789726361137/

Twitter - https://twitter.com/rebeccapughuk

Thanks for joining us on My Favourite Things Rebecca

Book Angel x

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Secrets of the Dead by Carol Wyer

Three murders. Three innocent victims. What secrets did they share with their killer?

A bottle of bubble bath and colourful, plastic boats were scattered in small puddles on the floor. In the bathtub lay Linda Upton, fully-clothed, her lips a shade of blue, and her bloodshot eyes wide open.

When a young mother is found drowned in the bath, clutching a receipt saying ‘all debts paid’, Detective Robyn Carter knows it’s just the beginning of a harrowing case. She recognises the signs of a serial killer, and when a second victim with a receipt is found, her worst fears are confirmed.

With the local press whipping the public into a frenzy, Robyn is under pressure to solve the crime yesterday. But her team can’t find a link between the two bodies, and the cracks are starting to show.

Just when her leads have dried up, Robyn discovers an unsettling clue she thinks could unlock the case. But as she chases across the plush carpets and manicured lawns of the wealthy elite, honing in on the killer’s shocking motive, one of her own is put in terrible danger.

The press call him The Leopard for his stealth, speed and brutality. Can Robyn stop the most twisted killer of her career before it’s too late?

A heart-pounding, toe-curling, one-sitting serial killer thriller that will hook you from the first page till the last. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Karin Slaughter.

Title: Secrets of the Dead
Author: Carol Wyer
Published by: Bookouture
Publication Date: 30th May 2017
Links: UK: Amazon    US: Amazon

My Review

Secrets of the Dead has the perfect ingredients for a chilling crime novel.
An exciting police procedural mixed with a private investigator and a despicable serial killer who will not stop until he gets what he wants.

DI Robyn Carter is back with her team to investigate a serial killer who shows no mercy to his victims. The only apparent link at first is an invoice left on each of the bodies which has 'Paid in full,' scrawled across it.

Carter feels there is a link to another case which is not being treated as a murder but is not allowed to pursue it as her senior officer doesn't believe there is a connection. She therefore enlists the help of her cousin Ross who is a private investigator. I have a weird fascination for Private Investigators and think that maybe I would have been one in a different life. It's great how Ross is able to investigate the crime without the restrictions of being in the police force and always having to follow protocol. This is a fantastic avenue for Carter to get the results she needs without being hindered by her bosses.

The investigation eventually becomes focused on a hotel and spa where more clues are unearthed.
I love DI Robyn Carter and really feel for her, she has lost the love of her life and in her quieter moments she reminisces about their time together. She really wishes he was there to guide her in life. This shows a much softer side to the hard hitting detective that she is and along with her relationship to her step daughter adds more dimensions to her character.
I really enjoyed the setting of Lichfield too as I was there recently and recognised lots of places mentioned.

This story was woven together brilliantly and from being instantly hooked at the beginning the tension kept me enthralled throughout.
I was craving a really good crime story and this fitted the bill perfectly. Reading the letter from Carol at the end made this story even more sinister.

Many thanks to Bookouture and Carol for the Arc which I have reviewed voluntarily.

Book Angels x

About the Author

As a child Carol Wyer was always moving, and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published by Safkhet and journalism in many magazines.

Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.




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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Butlins Girls by Elaine Everest

A warm and comforting read, set against the nation's favourite holiday camp, from bestselling author of The Woolworths Girls

'Molly Missons gazed around in awe. So this was Butlin's. Whitewashed buildings, bordered by rhododendrons, gave a cheerful feeling to a world still recovering from six years of war. The Skegness holiday camp covered a vast area, much larger than Molly expected to see.'

Molly Missons hasn't had the best of times recently. Having lost her parents, now some dubious long-lost family have darkened her door - attempting to steal her home and livelihood...

After a horrendous ordeal, Molly applies for a job as a Butlin's Aunty. When she receives news that she has got the job, she immediately leaves her small home town - in search of a new life in Skegness.

Molly finds true friendship in Freda, Bunty and Plum. But the biggest shock is discovering that star of the silver screen, Johnny Johnson, is working at Butlin's as head of the entertainment team. Johnny takes an instant liking to Molly and she begins to shed the shackles of her recent traumas. Will Johnny be just the distraction Molly needs - or is he too good be to be true?

Title: The Butlins Girls
Author: Elaine Everest
Published By: Pan
Publication Date: 4th May
Links: UK: Amazon    US: Amazon

My Review

I loved this story, after loving The Woolworths Girls I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of The Butlins Girls and I certainly wasn't disappointed.

Molly Missons is a lovely young lady who has sadly lost her parents and could soon be losing her home. Her awful second cousin Simon and his mum have turned her world upside down with their unexpected arrival and demands they are making.

Luckily for Molly her parents' close friends are there for her and encourage her to apply for a job in Butlins as they don't feel she is safe. I really loved the relationship she had with George and Kath as they loved her parents almost as much as she did and they really took Molly into their hearts.

When Molly moved to Skegness for her holiday job it reminded me of my own experience of finding a summer job when I was younger. The excitement of a new area and meeting lots of new people and the camaraderie that working for a company such as Butlins would bring, there is also an element of nervousness of stepping into the unknown.

I had been to Butlins with a friend and her family when I was eleven so could recognise the descriptions of the chalets and the uniforms and many of the activities, so although this was set many years before I went there it still felt like a trip down memory lane for me.

Molly idolised an actor called Johnny Johnson and their paths were set to cross many times over the course of the book, however she would often end up red faced as she seemed a lot clumsier when he was around.

The friends that Molly met and shared a chalet with were called Plum and Bunty and I enjoyed watching their friendships grow. Each of the young women had a secret which would unfold throughout the book as they learnt to trust each other more and they were able to help each other through their various trials and tribulations.

Molly makes some amazing discoveries as time passes and she herself becomes stronger towards the end of the book.

Reading this book reminded me of when I used to sit with my mum many years ago and watch an old film on a Sunday afternoon.

It was beautifully nostalgic with a strong foundation built on true friendships. It really captures the innocence of the era. I loved it.

Book Angelx

About the Author

Elaine was born and brought up in North West Kent. She grew up listening to stories of the war years and her home town of Erith so no wonder her best selling stories feature Kent. She lives with her husband, Michael, and Polish Lowland Sheepdog Henry.

Elaine's love of historical novels led to her writing her first fiction book, Gracie's War, (available in libraries) before being contracted by Pan Macmillan to write Sagas. The first, The Woolworths Girls, was published in May 2016 with the second, The Butlins Girls, due to be published in May 2017.

A former journalist, and author of non fiction books for dog owners, Elaine has written over sixty short stories for the international women's magazine market and can be heard on radio where she chats about canine issues - and just about anything else!

When not writing Elaine can be found teaching her talented students at The write Place Creative Writing School in Dartford, Kent where she holds classes at the Mick Jagger Centre - and no, she has not yet met Sir Mick!

A keen member of the Romantic Novelist Association Elaine sits on their committee and runs their Social Media.

Elaine is represented by Caroline Sheldon of the Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency.

Follow me:

Facebook: Elaine Everest Author page

Twitter: @elaineeverest

My writing school: www.thewriteplace.org.uk                            

Monday, 29 May 2017

My Favourite Things by Jan Brigden, Author

Food Savoury and sweet:
Ooh, sweet would be all things chocolate in any of its glorious forms. Savoury, probably oatcakes with whichever topping. Oh, and nuts, unsalted – especially walnuts and almonds.

Alcoholic would be red wine, preferably merlot. Non-alcoholic - oh a big mug of steaming tea, milk, no sugar. Not too strong to be deemed ‘builders’ but still a healthy colour.

Grease. I must have seen it a hundred times and still get a buzz if I see it coming on the TV. Love all the songs. I can’t sing for toffee, but still belt them out!

I don’t have an absolute favourite, more a top ten, three of which would be in no particular order, Tara Road by Maeve Binchy, After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell and Bill Bryson’s Neither Here nor There travelogue, purely for the belly laughs it gave me.

Again, I have three, but if pushed I’d say overall for the variety of subject matter, brilliant observations and character development, Lisa Jewell.

(At Lisa’s talk/book signing event at WestEndLaneBooks in Hampstead.)

Film - George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life – a kind, compassionate soul in a story with a hugely emotive message.

Too many to choose from, so I’d say the first dance song at our wedding – Let’s Stay Together by Al Green.

Holiday destination:
I’m torn between three or four here for various reasons, but if pushed I’d say Los Boliches on Spain’s Costa Del Sol simply for the memories both when I worked a season out there with my best friend back in the eighties (oh the stories!) and latterly for the numerous brilliant holidays I’ve spent there with my husband and my parents. We love it!

(Los Boliches beach view)

Tiger. I know I can’t have one as a pet, but I do have my calendar. I love their markings, their power and their eyes. 

(Tiger at Fuengirola Zoo, Spain)

My husband Dave.

Place to write:
I’d like to say on a peaceful patio overlooking a beach somewhere, but I can’t, so that’d be in my up at the table in my dining room (in complete silence f I’m writing, background music on if I’m editing or copy typing). It’s well-lit and relaxing.

Spring because it promises so much still to come. I love all the blossoms, flowers, the heating finally going off (said hopefully, tongue in cheek).

That’d be all things Christmas. I’m a big kid and still take great pleasure in having an advent calendar. I love the build-up too, not too far ahead (even I don’t want to be talking Santa Claus in September!) carol concert at my local church, mulled wine, Christmas cards, decorations coming down from the loft, the smell and rustle of them.

(Our festive hearth!)

Inspirational quote:
To Thine own self be true.

Thing in the whole world:
Love. I view it as a blessing to both give and receive.
Jan proudly signed with Choc Lit after winning the Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition 2014/2015 with her debut novel As Weekends Go. Jan's written for pleasure from a young age; short stories for classmates, odes for workmates, fun quizzes for family and friends, progressing to her novel, the idea for which sprang from a script she composed as part of a creative writing course assignment via The Writers Bureau. Following much secret plotting and research and feigning of passion for the customer accounts she was supposed to be reconciling during the day job, the chance finally arose to put pen to paper.

After attending many author talks, literary events, connecting with writers and readers on Facebook and Twitter, Jan learned of and subsequently joined the Romantic Novelists' Association's New Writers' Scheme. An avid reader and all round book devotee, Jan is also one eighth of the on-line writing group The Romaniacs (www.theromaniacs.co.uk) who in 2014 released a charity anthology 'Romaniac Shorts - Fashionably Brief'. The Romaniacs also received in November 2015, the Romantic Novelists' Association's Industry Media Star award.

Jan lives in South East London with her husband & motley crew of cuddly toys.

Connect with Jan on Facebook (Jan Brigden) and on Twitter @JanBrigden                          

Click here to buy the book.
 Thanks so much for joining us on My Favourite Things.

Book Angel x

Friday, 26 May 2017

Be My Killer by Richard Parker

You set the trap. Now you can’t escape.

When an online prank goes viral and triggers a spate of gruesome murders, documentary maker Hazel Salter watches in horror. But then Hazel’s childhood friend, Meredith Hickman, is the next victim and Hazel knows she has to find out what happened to her.

Is it one killer or more? Random acts of violence, or part of a bigger, twisted plan?

The police have no leads, but Hazel has a theory – one she’ll stop at nothing to prove – and she also has a film crew. She’ll make a documentary, catch the killer, and give Meredith justice.

Her stage is the abandoned amusement park where Meredith was found.

Her cast are the family and friends the killer left behind.

And her crew? They keep disappearing, one by one…

A shocking, ‘just-one-more-page’ thriller with the most twisted killer you’ll ever meet. This book will hook you from the first page and keep you guessing long into the night. PERFECT for fans of James Patterson, Mo Hayder, and Chris Carter.

Title: Be My Killer
Author:   Richard Parker
Published by: Bookouture
Publication Date: 26th May 2017
Links: UK: Amazon    US: Amazon

My thoughts

This book has got everything your average horror fan would love, lots of blood and gore and scary scenarios, so much so that I had to chicken out part way through.
I thought the concept was brilliant as it shows how scary social media can be for a start. It reminded me of the great American horror films where you would have to watch them from behind a cushion. There was a huge element of humour throughout the book as well and I can imagine the author had a great time thinking of these elaborate ways of killing people.
I hope I can pluck up the courage to finish this one day as I would like to find out who it was but in the meantime here is an extract for your delight.


The only parts of her body Meredith Hickman could move were her eyelids. She could just blink them against the matted ends of her blood-soaked peroxide hair.

The barbed wire that tightly coiled her naked form to the cold stone pillar lacerated the bridge of her nose and held her head rigidly in place. It restrained every muscle and painfully secured her arms, which were crossed and pinned firmly to her chest.

Her teeth ground the taut metal that cut deeply across the corners of her mouth, and Meredith gagged as she tried to position her tongue against the sharp spikes. Dirty tears diluted and leaked dark mascara down her cheeks. She attempted to swallow but one of the barbs was already stabbing her throat.

The area beyond Fun Central’s derelict concrete walkway was in darkness. Perhaps she was going to be left here until one of the crackheads found her and let her go. Or did what they wanted to her. She prayed that’s what would happen.

She felt goosebumps prickle her pinioned shoulders but not from the freezing air. Meredith knew she was going to die. And in her twenty-six years she’d never left Broomfield.

The person who had taken her had been a shape at the periphery of her vision outside the bathroom of the fried chicken place before a sack that stank of paraffin had been put over her face. Then something heavy had slammed into her scalp. Meredith could feel the bruise pound under the raw and broken skin, still taste the vinegary Buffalo wings she’d been eating. She breathed out and flinched as the spiked metal pierced her stomach.

Movement behind her – whoever had stripped and bound Meredith was the other side of the pillar. She gasped as the wire cut deeper. They were pulling and tightening it. The tops of her arms throbbed as the blood was trapped and the steel points dragged and tore at her flesh.

Meredith struggled to shape her guttural pleas but agony squeezed them flat. Was it going to get any worse than this? She closed her eyes and kept them shut even after the wire had stopped contracting. Her wounds trickled warmth down the inside of her thigh.

‘Meredith,’ a calm voice whispered in front of her.

She cracked her eyes at the hooded person standing in the shadows. They took a step forward into the dim light, head bowed as they focussed on something in their gloved hands.

Meredith looked down and saw it was a tiny tube of glue. They unscrewed the cap and then moved the nib across the area under each of her eyebrows. She could only grunt incoherently and stare at their throat.

She could smell the cool solvent on her skin before the leather pads of their thumbs curled her false eyelashes against it and pressed them hard in place.

She couldn’t shake her forehead as they pushed it harshly against the pillar. A few moments later she was released. Meredith could feel the air on her exposed eyeballs and them quickly drying out as her lids fought to blink. Now she had no choice but to look at whatever they were going to do to her.

The hood spoke to Meredith through her tears and agonised begging, so she only heard some of what they said. But it was enough. They retreated back into the gloom when she understood. She couldn’t accept what they’d told her. How could she have brought this on herself?

Meredith waited for them to return but their footfalls faded before she heard a car door slam.

She was still going to die; nobody would find her and cut her down in time.

An engine started. They were leaving.

Her circulation coursed irregularly through her constricted limbs. Meredith sucked in air through her nose. Unconsciousness began to release her.

But the black haze was quickly bleached out.

Meredith Hickman was illuminated and couldn’t seal her eyes against a blinding set of headlights turning square in her direction. The car accelerated, hurtled through the main entrance and rocketed straight at her.

Book Angel x

About the author

Parker is an ex TV script writer, script editor and producer who now writes dark, stand alone thrillers. His first novel, Stop Me, was nominated for a Dagger Award. The movie rights to his second, Scare Me, have been bought by Hollywood studio Relativity Media with screenplay completed by Wentworth ‘PRISON BREAK’ Miller and his third, Stalk Me, rode high in the US and UK Amazon charts.




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