No Longer Safe by A J Waines

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I’m delighted to be taking part in the launch celebrations of the fantastic new thriller ‘No Longer Safe‘ by AJ Waines.  Published on 4th February in, ‘No Longer Safe’ is available  to buy here in the UK and here in the US.

About ‘No Longer Safe’:

She was your best friend. Now she’s your deadliest enemy – and there’s nowhere to run…

When Alice receives an invitation from Karen, her charismatic University friend, to stay in a remote cottage in Scotland, she can’t wait to rekindle their lost friendship. But two more former students arrive – never friends of Alice’s – and as the atmosphere chills, Karen isn’t the warm-hearted soulmate Alice remembers. Barely is the reunion underway before someone is dead and the fragile gathering is pushed to breaking point.

As the snow cuts them off from civilisation and accusations fly, Alice finds herself a pawn, sinking deeper into a deadly game she can’t escape.

No Longer Safe‘ is a chilling Psychological Thriller that delivers a delicious sting in the tail.

My review of ‘No Longer Safe

When Alice is asked by an old university friend she hasn’t seen in six years to stay for a couple of weeks in a remote Scottish cottage she thinks Karen is reaching out to her for the sake of the past. But things are not as they seem and life for Alice is about to change dramatically.

I really enjoyed reading ‘No Longer Safe’. The plot romps along and with the italicised first person interjections from Karen there is an added urgency and pace that captivates the reader. A final twist at the end is brilliant – really shocking and I didn’t see it coming at all. I think ‘No Longer Safe’ would be an exciting film or television series.

The characterisation is very good. It’s easy to imagine each of the four friends and to appreciate their somewhat toxic relationships. I think we have all known similar people at some point. Alice is naive and often makes the wrong choices, but she is believable because of the way her history is subtly presented so that we understand why she behaves the way she does.

What I thought was particularly skilful was the presentation of the cold and snow. A J Waines really creates an atmosphere that enhances the action through her descriptions. There is a strong sense of underlying menace from the beginning. The writing is literary and engaging making ‘No Longer Safe‘ a book that can be enjoyed without effort on the part of the reader.

As well as being a great psychological thriller, ‘No Longer Safe‘ touches on themes that are important in today’s society. It isn’t possible to explore them all without spoiling the story, but identity, love, relationships, family and crime are part of them. The title has many meanings and I’ll leave it to future readers to decide who really is no longer safe – and why!

Readers who like strong settings, clear characters and a fast paced read will thoroughly enjoy ‘No Longer Safe’. I certainly did.

About AJ Waines

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AJ Waines has sold over 100,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts in 2015 with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany (Penguin Random House) and USA (audiobooks).

In 2015, she was featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and was ranked in the Top 20 UK authors on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Southampton, UK, with her husband. Visit her website and blog, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

You can find out more about AJ Waines and ‘No Longer Safe‘ with these other bloggers too:

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Spotlight on A Blonde Bengali Wife by Anne Hamilton

A Blonde Bengali Wife Tour BannerHaving hosted Anne Hamilton on Linda’s Book Bag before, I am delighted to be supporting Brook Cottage Books in spotlighting A Blonde Bengali Wife. When Anne joined me last time she wrote a guest post about falling in love with Bangladesh. You can read that post here.

A Blonde Bengali Wife is a travel memoir and was originally published in October 2010. It was reprinted on 3rd November 2015 and can be bought on Amazon UK and Amazon US. You have the chance to win an e-copy of A Blonde Bengali Wife at the bottom of this blog post.

A Blonde Bengali Wife

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They all said that Bangladesh would be an experience…

For Anne Hamilton, a three month winter programme of travel and ‘cultural exchange’ in a country where the English language, fair hair and a rice allergy are all rare in the extreme was always going to be interesting, challenging and frustrating.  What they didn’t tell Anne was that it would also be sunny, funny and the start of a love affair with this unexplored area of Southeast Asia.

A Blonde Bengali Wife shows the lives beyond the poverty, monsoons and diarrhoea of Bangladesh and charts a vibrant and fascinating place where one minute Anne is levelling a school playing field ‘fit for the national cricket team,’ cobbling together a sparkly outfit for a formal wedding the next.

Along with Anne are the essential ingredients for survival: a travel-savvy Australian sidekick, a heaven-sent adopted family, and a short, dark, and handsome boy-next-door.

During her adventures zipping among the dusty clamour of the capital Dhaka, the longest sea beach in the world at Cox’s Bazaar, verdant Sylhet tea gardens, and the voluntary health projects of distant villages, Anne amasses a lot of friends, stories…and even a husband?

A Blonde Bengali Wife is the ‘unexpected travelogue’ that reads like a comedy of manners to tell the other side of the story of Bangladesh.

About Anne Hamilton

Anne Hamilton

Anne Hamilton wrote A Blonde Bengali Wife after she fell in love with Bangladesh on her first (of many) visits there. The travelogue inspired the charity, Bhola’s Children, and continues to support it. Before she became a full time writer, editor and tutor, Anne’s career was in social work and community health – which led to many of her earlier international travels.  Anne can never quite decide if she comes from the East of England or the West of Ireland, so she compromises by living in Scotland, with her small son; they still travel when they can. Anne has a PhD in Creative writing from the University of Glasgow, and is the editor of local online magazine, Lothian Life. She is currently revising and seeking representation for her first novel, Chasing Elena, and working on her second.

You can find out more about Anne Hamilton, A Blonde Bengali Wife and Bhola’s Children through these links:

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Goodreads

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Bhola’s Children

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AN ECOPY OF THE BOOK

Enter to win an e-copy of A Blonde Bengali Wife by clicking here.

 

 

 

Hannah Rollings Art Books

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I was delighted to receive these two unusual colouring, art and drawing books by Hannah Rollings for review from Alara at Michael O’Mara Books. Published on 21st January 2016 Doodle a Poodle and Colour a Cat are available to purchase here on Amazon UK and for order here ready for a 5th April release on Amazon US.

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Let me just say straight away that there is a problem with these books – I didn’t want to use them and spoil them.

I think some might be expecting intricate colouring books with every page filled with designs ready to be coloured in and may be disappointed that that is not what they are getting, but Doodle a Poodle and Colour a Cat are designed for inspiration and invite users to ‘colour, copy, doodle and draw’. Equally I think they would make super notebooks for poets or writers who like dogs and cats as there is plenty of white space for reader use.

Both books open with annotated illustrations that explain how to create texture and pattern, depth and movement. I like the fact that the books are ordered alphabetically from Afghan Hound to Yorkshire Terrier dog and Abyssinian to Turkish Angora cat.

Many of the dogs and cats are created with a few simple lines and splodges of colour that I think any artist, even one as poor as me, could emulate. Also important is the fact that these are not anatomically perfect illustrations, but interpretations of what the cats and dogs look like made with techniques budding artists can create for themselves. A totally recognisable Doberman Pinscher, for example, is created in little more than a dozen brief brush strokes as is a Russian Blue cat.

There are animals to copy, colour in and paint. The quality of the paper is such that felt tipped pens and some water colour paints could be used successfully.

Another really positive aspect of  Doodle a Poodle and Colour a Cat is that the illustrations by Helen Rollings are a pleasure to look at in their own right. There’s a sense of joy in the Golden Retriever carrying a scarf and the expression on the Persian cat’s face is one of sheer haughtiness.

I think buyers should do what the books tell us and unleash and release your inner artist – though I think I might practice first for fear of spoiling my copies before I put brush to page!

I Won’t Break by E Mellyberry

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I’m pleased to be supporting Xpresso in launching I Won’t Break by E. Mellyberry (A Broken Love Story, #2) which was published on February 2nd 2016. I Won’t Break is a contemporary, new adult book and is available for purchase here in the UK and here or here in the US.

You could also win a $20 Amazon Gift Card (INTL) or 2 copies of I Won’t Break: print (US only) or eBook (INTL) in the competition at the bottom of this blog post.

I have a brilliant Top Ten from E. Mellyberry to share with you here too.

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About I Won’t Break:

Lea and Andrew’s story continues in this sequel to My Lea. From the city of San Francisco, the tale journeys on to the other part of the world: Jakarta, Bali, and Tokyo.

It’s been five years since Andrew walked out of his apartment and left Lea in America. Five long years without any single contact.

Andrew is now a twenty-eight-year-old man who just inherited his father’s business empire and is about to marry the granddaughter of the wealthiest man in Singapore.
At twenty-four, Lea is in the early process of sorting out her life and career back in her home country.

When Andrew’s father passed away, they are reunited again for the first time since America.
Like it or not, they are forced to revisit their past and deal with their unfinished business. For most people, love is the answer to everything. But Lea and Andrew’s love is far from ordinary. Theirs is tainted by sin and guilt. And anger. Lots of anger.

What happened five years ago that made Andrew leave?

What happened after Twin Peaks?

What happened to their baby?

Told in both past and present events, I Won’t Break tests the limit of love when faced with grief and heartbreak, discovers the true power of forgiveness, and explores the meaning of second chances.

I Won’t Break is the sequel to My Lea (A Broken Love Story series) and cannot be read as a standalone.

Due to mature theme and content, this book is not suitable for readers under 18.

 

E.Mellyberry shares the Top Ten Sentences from I Won’t Break

I have more than ten, but I choose the ones that won’t give out spoilers. Here they are:

Dedication page: For you, because you’re stronger than whatever it is that’s trying to break you.

I dedicate my story to every single one of us because we’re, after all, only human. Our life consists of ups and downs. When we are down, it’s good to always remember that we’re stronger than our problems, that our problems have solutions, that we can beat this. It’s important for me to remember that, and I hope you do too.

**

I’ve paid with the only heart I own and now I can’t even get a fucking refund.

A broken heart is not a product you can ask for a refund when you return it to the store. It’s-your-own-risk kinda thing.

**

They expect him to be something more than just a twenty-eight-year-old guy who mourns his father. They want him to be an entertainer, a savior, a King. He’s none of those. He’s not his dad. He’s the crying clown in the middle of a boring party.

You know the feeling when everyone holds a rather impossible expectation—the one you don’t want or care—of you? It’s like you’re in the middle of a prom and everyone sort of expects you to be their Prom King, but you don’t care about prom, you don’t care about the title or any of those shit, but you have to be there to please everyone. You feel like crying inside. These sentences describe that feeling.

**

How naïve she was to think that all problems could be solved simply by making promises, by kissing, or by falling in love?

Innocence is a beautiful thing… sometimes.

**

I wanted to love you without this hate and without this fear.

Love should be free of all of the negative energy, but in reality, love is often the combination of many contradictive things: hope, blessing, fear, risk, faith. In I Won’t Break, Andrew carried a heavy baggage from his past and he couldn’t shake it off. He wanted to move forward, but his past occasionally dragged him down.

**

Every living cell inside his body is rioting against reasons, against common sense.

This is one of my favorite lines in my book. Heart vs. logic; need vs. want. Oh, the battle…

**

Phantom happiness was the most evil of all broken promises. You could have, but oops, you didn’t.

Grrr! Upset just thinking about phantom happiness.

**

To be the one she deserves.

Another favorite line of mine. Love is hard, they say, but it’s so worth it at the end. Trying to be a better person for someone we love is not a tough job at all.

**

A second chance is not a miracle.

It’s truly not. It’s not magic either. A second chance is work and lots of work.

**

Some wounds are too big and too complicated to be defined as a simple game of winning or losing.

 People say scars are the sign of victory against what broke us. But some wounds cut us so deep, they keep on bleeding even after so many years. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about surviving.

**

About E Mellyberry

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Melly is a full-time mom, wife, and fangirl. She used to work in a school and she’s very passionate about education.

Melly has been writing children’s books since 2011 under the name mellyberry. She loves reading all kinds of books in her spare time, mostly MG, YA, NA, contemporary, paranormal, and fantasy. She avoids horror and sci-fi as much as she can.

Melly was born in Indonesia and grew up in a multi-language environment. When she talks to people, she could accidentally string words from different languages into one sentence. When she does that, simply reminds her to speak properly.

Her ideal vacation always involves a beach; usually it’s the Nusa Dua beach, Bali. She spent a few years in USA to complete her Master degree. It was during that time that she’d fallen madly in love with San Francisco and the Bay Area. According to her, San Francisco is no doubt the most romantic city in the world.

Author links:

Follow Melly on her blog, on Goodreads, on Facebook and on Twitter

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The first book in this series, My Lea is available from Amazon USBarnes and Noble and Amazon UK

International Giveaway – to enter the competition to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card (INTL) or 2 copies of I Won’t Break: print (US only) or eBook (INTL) please click here.

You And Me, Always by Jill Mansell

You And Me, Always

Having long been a fan of Jill Mansell’s writing I’m delighted to be part of the celebrations of her latest novel You and Me, Always which was published by Headline Review in hardback on 28th January 2016. You can buy You and Me, Always here in the UK and here in the US, from all good bookshops and direct from the publisher. It’s my great pleasure to bring you an extract from this lovely book below. Equally exciting is the chance for UK readers to win a hardback copy of You and Me, Always in the competition at the bottom of this blog post.

About You and Me, Always

On the morning of Lily’s twenty-fifth birthday, it’s time to open the very last letter written to her by her beloved mother, who died when she was eight.

Learning more about the first and only real love of her mum’s life is a revelation. On the same day, Lily also meets Eddie Tessler, a man fleeing fame who just might have the ability to change her world in unimaginable ways. But her childhood friend Dan has his own reasons for not wanting Lily to get too carried away by Eddie’s attentions.

Before long, secrets begin to emerge and Lily’s friends and family become involved. In the beautiful Cotswold village of Stanton Langley, nothing will ever be the same again…

You And Me, Always

Read an extract from You and Me, Always

A bird was singing loudly in the honeysuckle outside Lily’s bedroom window. Coral would probably know what kind of bird, but Lily didn’t have a clue. It sounded very cheerful, though. She opened her eyes and saw from the dazzle of light slicing through the gap in the curtains that it was destined to be another hot, sunny day.

It’s my birthday. I’m twenty-five!

And so lucky

She slid out of bed, knowing that when she opened the door, the tray would be outside. It always was; over the years it had been a tradition from which they’d never wavered.

And indeed it was there, on the wine-red landing carpet, the rectangular silver tray bearing a single rosebud in a squat silver vase, a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, a sealed envelope and a small flat package wrapped in silver and yellow striped paper and tied with curly silver ribbons.

From her mum.

Lily bent down, picked up the tray and carefully carried it back into her room, laying it on the bedside table so nothing would topple over. Drifting up from downstairs she could hear sounds of movement, the clink of china, the murmur of voices on the radio, doors being opened and closed.

But this, now, was private, to be shared between her and her mother. Just the two of them.

For the very last time.

Lily took a sip of orange juice and opened the envelope. Whereas all the other letters had been written on thick lilac writing paper, this one was on a plain white sheet of A4. But the handwriting was the same, instantly recognisable with its extravagant loops and swirls. She ran the tips of her fingers over the paper, the first person to touch it since her mum had written the words, then lifted it to her nose and inhaled to see if it retained any recognisable scent.

No, it just smelled of paper.

OK, here goes. She took a steadying breath and began to read.

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You can follow Jill Mansell on Twitter, on Facebook and via her web site

You’ll find other lovely things about Jill Mansell and You and Me, Always with these other bloggers:

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Enter to win a hardback copy of You and Me, Always (UK only I’m afraid) by clicking here

At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier

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Being a massive Tracy Chevalier fan I am hugely indebted to Love Reading for providing a reader panel review copy of At the Edge of the Orchard which will be published by Borough Press on 8th March 2016 in ebook, hardback and paperback. It will be available from Harper Collins, Love Reading, Amazon and all good bookshops.

In Ohio in 1838, James and Sadie Goodenough are scratching a living in the Black Swamp where both people and apple trees live a highly precarious life. In the violence of their lives, son Robert has a different path to tread.

It took me a few pages to settle in to reading this as I found I needed to attune myself to a new situation and new set of characters from Tracy Chevalier and initially I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it as much as her other novels. Once I got into the new rhythm, however, I decided that At the Edge of the Orchard is, quite simply, a magnificent book. The quality of writing transports the reader to a different era and is so well researched that the reader lives the history alongside the characters. The descriptions of the trees and apple cultivation give depth and interest to what is, already, a totally captivating story. Tracy Chevalier knows how to conjure the senses with pitch perfection. I could feel the mud, see the trees, hear the songs, smell the applejack on Sadie’s breath and, importantly, taste the apples.

I thought the title was magnificent. It put me in mind of the Garden of Eden as each character strives to make something out of a life in the Black Swamp, but is constrained by their behaviour and attitudes so that paradise can’t be reached. Consequently, the Goodenough family are always at the edge of the orchard.

I found the early stages of the book quite brutal and so affecting. All the characters are flawed and so beautifully depicted. Sadie is an incredible creation. I loathed her completely but sympathised with her bitterness, her sadness and her desire for affection, especially from her children. She had my empathy too. It was almost a relief when the focus of the book moved to Robert.

The framework of At the Edge of the Orchard is so intelligent and well constructed. Using Sadie’s own voice early on separately among the rest of the text isolated her even more from the family and I found the later letters that advance the plot in Robert’s story heartbreaking.

There’s a darkness and almost claustrophobic feel despite Robert’s attempt to keep moving in the great outdoors but there’s some light too so that the balance feels just right. I have to admit to shedding a tear or two towards the end of the story where there is both optimism and sadness. What I think Tracy Chevalier does so well is to show the reader humanity in all its forms in a way that doesn’t sanitise real life struggle.

At the Edge of the Orchard is now another of Tracy Chevalier’s books that I loved, admired and feel privileged to have read.

You can follow Tracy Chevalier on Twitter, visit her website and find out more on Facebook.

You’ll find other reviews from Love Reading panel members here.

 

Kerry Fisher Cover Reveal

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I’m so excited to be bringing you the brand new cover reveal for After the Lie by Kerry Fisher. After the Lie will be published by Bookouture on 29th April 2016. After the Lie is available to pre-order on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

After the Lie by Kerry Fisher

An addictive and gripping read about love, life and living a lie …
One little lie can make one big difference …

Lydia has the ‘right’ kind of friends, her children are at the ‘right’ kind of school and she’s married to the ‘right’ sort of man – kind, steady, reliable Mark. Her wedding business is flourishing and even though she is at loggerheads with her mother, she couldn’t ask for anything more from life.

But the truth is that Lydia has been lucky. She has been living a lie for years and Mark has no idea who he is really married to. But nothing lasts forever and the past has a funny way of catching up with the present. When the person who knows all of Lydia’s dark little secrets turns up at the school gates, his presence threatens to blow Lydia’s life apart.

What is Lydia’s terrible truth? Once the secret is out, you can’t put it back …

About Kerry Fisher

Kerry Fisher Author image

Born in Peterborough, Kerry Fisher studied French and Italian at Bath University, followed by several years working as an English teacher in Corsica and Spain before topping the dizzying heights of holiday rep and grape picker in Tuscany. She eventually succumbed to ‘getting a proper job’ and returned to England to study Periodical Journalism at City University. After two years working in the features department at Essentials magazine in London, love carried her off to the wilds of the West Pennine moors near Bolton. She now lives in Surrey with her husband (of whisking off to Bolton fame), two teenagers and a very naughty lab/schnauzer called Poppy. Kerry can often be seen trailing across the Surrey Hills whistling and waving pieces of chicken while the dog practises her ‘talk to the tail’.

Kerry has spent half her life talking about writing a novel, then several years at Candis magazine reviewing other people’s but it wasn’t until she took some online courses with the UCLA (University of California) that the dream started to morph into reality, culminating in the publishing of The Class Ceiling. The Avon imprint of HarperCollins picked it up and retitled it The School Gate Survival Guide, published summer 2014. Her second book, The Island Escape, came out in May 2015. It won first prize at the York Festival of Writing for the opening line: ‘I was wearing the wrong bra for sitting in a police cell’.

Best advice ever received: ‘This is fiction, we can skip the boring bits.’ Lynn Hightower, UCLA Writers’ Program.

You can find out more about Kerry via her website and her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter.

 

You can read my review of The Island Escape here.