Book review: Come Sundown by Nora Roberts

7 Jun

come sundownLove. Lies. Murder. A lot can happen… COME SUNDOWN

Bodine Longbow loves to rise with the dawn. As the manager of her family’s resort in Western Montana, there just aren’t enough hours in the day – for life, for work, for loved ones. She certainly doesn’t have time for love, not even in the gorgeous shape of her childhood crush Callen Skinner, all grown up and returned to the ranch. Then again, maybe Callen can change her mind, given time…

But when a young woman’s body is discovered on resort land, everything changes. Callen falls under the suspicion of a deputy sheriff with a grudge. And for Bodine’s family, the murder is a shocking reminder of an old loss. Twenty-five years ago, Bodine’s Aunt Alice vanished, never to be heard of again. Could this new tragedy be connected to Alice’s mysterious disappearance?

As events take a dramatic and deadly turn, Bodine and Callen must race to uncover the truth – before the sun sets on their future together.

Nora Roberts is one of my favourite authors that I’ve discovered since becoming a blogger and over the last seven years I’ve read many of her novels. They always hook me from the first page and hold me gripped as I read, whether I’m reading about the search for a mythical gem on a sun-soaked island or about love and drama in a thriving city. Come Sundown is no exception and is filled with great characters, romance, drama and suspense – another sure fire hit for Nora!

The story takes place in the beautiful setting of Montanna where we meet Bodine Longbow and her family. Bodine is the manager of her family’s very successful five star resort which sits alongside the family ranch. I loved Bodine from the very start; she’s a great business woman, a successful and caring boss and loves her family and friends. The descriptions of the resort, ranch and Montanna are just wonderful and if there are any horse-lovers reading this review, you will love this book!

But within the picturesque beauty hides a shocking secret. The novel opens with a short prologue set in 1991 as Alice makes her way home to her family after a long absence. Alice doesn’t make it home that night and what happens to her gives the story a series of shocking twists and turns.

The contrasts between Alice’s story in the past and Bodine’s in the present are stark and some parts of this novel were difficult to read and I couldn’t predict what would happen (although I enjoyed developing my theories and trying to guess!). As a murder is discovered on resort land, past and present collide and I could not put this book down until I found out what the outcome would be!

Nora sets the pace brilliantly. I found myself swept up in Bodine’s story and her developing romance with childhood crush Callen and also holding my breath every time the narrative moved back to what happened to Alice. Come Sundown is dramatic and tense. wild and romantic; a sweet and suspensfull mix of a page turner.

4/5

Come Sundown is out now in hardback, ebook and audio formats from Piatkus.

Find out more about Nora and her writing at: http://www.noraroberts.com/

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

 

Book review: Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby

6 Jun

pieces of happinessI’ve planted my feet on Fijian earth and I intend to stay here until the last sunset . Why don’t you join me? Leave behind everything that didn’t work out!

When recently-widowed Kat writes to her four old school friends, inviting them to live with her on a cocoa plantation in the South Pacific, they swap icy pavements and TV dinners for a tropical breeze and an azure-blue ocean. Leaving behind loneliness, dead-end jobs and marriages that have gone sour, they settle into the Women’s House, surrounded by palms and cocoa trees; and locals with the puzzling habit of exploding into laughter for no discernible reason.

Each of the women has her issues to resolve, and secrets to keep. But together the friends find a new purpose, starting a business making chocolate: bittersweet, succulent pieces of happiness. As they embrace a new culture that views ageing so differently from their own, will they learn to accept and forgive: to discover the value of friendship, and a better way to live?

Pieces of Happiness is a beautiful look at female friendships, growing older and the healing powers of chocolate and sisterhood. I love stories like this and Anne Ostby’s second novel to be published in English is a brilliant example of its kind and sensitively translated. The book has just been released in hardback format with the gorgeously summery cover seen here.

The novel opens with a series of letters from Kat in Fiji to four of her best friends from her schooldays. Now in their sixties, it’s clear that there has been a lot of water under the bridge for the group of friends and Kat’s letters immediately had me intrigued about both author and recipients. The story develops beautifully, moving between past and present to delve into the secrets and worries of Kat’s friends now and how their lives brought them to this point. I loved looking back and meeting Sina, Ingrid, Lisbeth and Maya both now and as their younger selves and finding out what happened to them, seeing how their relationships and friendships changed over the years.

There’s a wonderfully hopeful message about the ability of friendships to endure and grow with you and the book beautifully captures the ability of special female friendships to survive all manner of bad and good weather and still fundamentally stay rooted. Each woman has her own set of worries and issues to address and the individual story lines in the present added interest and covered so many issues that are relevant to us all; getting older, ill health, worries about children, making time for ourselves and living up to our hopes and dreams.

Glamorous Lisbeth  has been living the high life since marrying the catch of the town but as we scratch beneath the surface we see that her fairy-tale is not as happily ever after as it sounds. Maya makes the journey to Fiji with a secret illness to face. Ingrid has had enough of being the sensible one and wants to let her alter ego, the wonderful ‘Wildred’ out and single parent Sina, struggling with her wayward son is broke and not sure how to move forward. Kat has recently lost the love of her life. I was captivated by the drawing together of the group and how their ‘house of women’ developed through the story.

Ostby adds a further layer to the story with shory chapters in the form of prayers from the point of view of her housekeeper Ateca. These chapters were just wonderful and gave a whole new perspective to the story and the characters. I loved being able to see each woman from the viewpoint of an outsider and I thought this technique and the different cultural filter that Ateca sees everything through gave the excellent depth and allowed me as a reader to really get to know the characters.

The descriptions of scenery and Fijian life are luscious, colourful and atmospheric – they made me want to pack my bags and seek out adventure. Regular readers will know that I have a bit of an obsession with the sea and I absolutely loved the descriptions of it in this book.

Sina can hear it. With her face turned towards the sea she can hear Fiji welcoming her. A rush of sand against sand, a rhythm of water and moonlight and promises she can’t decode.”

I highly recommend Pieces of Happiness as a thoughtful and uplifting reading escape this summer whether you’re heading off on holiday or curling up in a nice cosy reading spot at home!

4/5

Pieces of Happiness is out now in hardback, ebook and audio formats from Doubleday.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Giveaway! Two copies of The Original Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig to be won!

4 Jun

I have a fabulous new giveaway for you today as part of the #GinnyMoon blog tour! Publisher HQ has given me two copies of this gorgeous book to give away to lucky readers. Read on for more details of how to enter and please do check out the other stops on the blog tour this week!

Ginny Moon

 

The story of a lost girl searching for her forever home.

Everyone tells Ginny that she should feel happy….

After years in foster care, fourteen year old Ginny is finally with parents who will love her. Yet despite finding her forever family, she knows she will never stop crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.

Because something heart-breaking happened a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right…

A fiercely poignant, inspirational story of a lost girl making sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up – Ginny Moon will change everyone who spends time with her.

Giveaway!

I have two copies of The Original Ginny Moon to give away.

To enter this giveaway,  just leave comment in the box below or re-Tweet one of my tweets about this giveaway or like one of my posts about this giveaway on my Instagram page.

I’ll pick two winners using Random.org after the closing date.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on Friday 9th June.

Good Luck!

Extract and Giveaway! The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett

2 Jun

Today I’m very excited to host the blog tour for The Space Between Stars by Anne Corlett. This is Anne’s debut novel and it’s an excellent read! Anne has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and has won a number of awards for her short stories, including the H. E. Bates Award. She works as a criminal solicitor and freelance writer, and lives with her partner and three young boys in Somerset. Read on for an exclusive extract and a chance to win a copy.

9781509833528How far would you travel to find your way home?

Jamie Allenby wakes, alone, and realises her fever has broken. But could everyone she knows be dead? Months earlier, Jamie had left her partner Daniel, mourning the miscarriage of their baby. She’d just had to get away, so took a job on a distant planet. Then the virus hit.

Jamie survived as it swept through our far-flung colonies. Now she feels desperate and isolated, until she receives a garbled message from Earth. If someone from her past is still alive – perhaps Daniel – she knows she must find a way to return.

She meets others seeking Earth, and their ill-matched group will travel across space to achieve their dream. But they’ll clash with survivors intent on repeating humanity’s past mistakes, threatening their precious fresh start. Jamie will also get a second chance at happiness. But can she escape her troubled past, to embrace a hopeful future?

Extract – Chapter 2

Jamie hesitated before pushing the front door open.

‘Hello?’

Her voice cracked. She swallowed and tried again. ‘Mr Cranwell?’

That sounded childishly formal. ‘Jim?’

The kitchen was tidier than usual. His daughter used to invite her in for a cup of tea sometimes.

‘Cathy?’

Even the washing-up had been cleared away. An image flared in her head. Cathy, leaning heavily on the kitchen side, drying cups and stacking them slowly away, refusing to acknowledge the pointlessness of the task. One cupboard door was ajar, with a broken dish nearby. Maybe she’d crawled to her bed, like Jamie had. But Cathy’s bed wouldn’t have been empty. She would have climbed in and wrapped her arms around her children, breathing in their contagion, not knowing any other way of being.

Jamie walked down the hallway to a white-painted door. She stepped into a bright, airy room with doors opening onto the grass behind the house. Dust flecks drifted in the slanting sunlight.

Dust.

The sheets were grey with it, the covers tipped into a tangle on the floor.

There wasn’t much. Not when you thought of the measure of a person.

Three people.

You’d have imagined there’d be more heft to a human life. Jamie stood for a moment, watching the slow play of light and dust, then stepped backwards into the corridor and closed the door behind her.

Upstairs, she checked each door until she found a bareboarded room, furnished with just a bed and a chest of drawers. There was a cross on the wall and a sprawl of abandoned clothes on the floor, topped with Jim Cranwell’s belt, the one his grandchildren had bought him, with the buckle shaped like a running horse.

The covers were drawn up, almost as though the bed had been made, and the pillow was dusted with grey.

Back outside, Jamie leaned against the wall and closed her eyes. There was a pushiness to the sun’s warmth.

Come on, come on. Things to do, things to know.

When she opened her eyes, her gaze fell on one of the crofts down beyond the barn. She stared at it for a moment, and then pushed herself upright and set off across the yard.

Her circuit of the station took longer than it should have done. The virus had diminished her. She checked the six crofts, as well as the dorm that housed the younger farmhands. Some were as tidy as the main house, while others bore signs of an occupant who’d done everything they could not to go quietly into the night. But there were no signs of life, and everywhere she went, she saw dust motes drifting in the uncaring sunlight.

When she was done she went back to her own croft. Her skin felt dry and scuffed, and she found herself rubbing at her palms, as though that dust was clinging to her skin.

Suddenly she was on her knees, folded over, forehead pressed to the floor as though she was praying. Which way did Muslims pray? Towards Mecca. How did they know which way that was, all these millions of miles away?

Her thoughts were twisting tighter and tighter until there was nowhere to go but to the place she’d been trying to avoid. She shouldn’t be alive. Somehow the little world had got lucky. Was there any realistic chance that its luck had held more than once? And if not . . .

No.

There were other worlds. There’d be other survivors.

But the statistics were wrong here. What if they were wrong elsewhere? Her thoughts unwound again, spinning out beyond the walls of the croft, beyond the skies, out into the endlessness of space. An empty universe, with just one pinpoint of life, curled and numb on a dusty floor.

She fought for control. She knew there were survivors. The emergency messages had been clear.

Terminal in almost all cases.

The Space Between The Stars by Anne Corlett is published by Pan Macmillan, 1 June 2017, £12.99 hardback

Giveaway!

I have one beautiful hardback copy of The Space Between Stars to give away to a lucky reader.

To enter this giveaway,  just leave comment in the box below or re-Tweet one of my tweets about this giveaway or like one of my posts about this giveaway on my Instagram page.

I’ll pick a winner using Random.org after the closing date.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on Wednesday 7th June. Good Luck!

Book review: Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh

27 May

leopard at the doorStepping off the boat in Mombasa, eighteen-year-old Rachel Fullsmith stands on Kenyan soil for the first time in six years. She has come home.

But when Rachel reaches the family farm at the end of the dusty Rift Valley Road, she finds so much has changed. Her beloved father has moved his new partner and her son into the family home. She hears menacing rumours of Mau Mau violence, and witnesses cruel reprisals by British soldiers. Even Michael, the handsome Kikuyu boy from her childhood, has started to look at her differently.

Isolated and conflicted, Rachel fears for her future. But when home is no longer a place of safety and belonging, where do you go, and who do you turn to?

Leopard at the Door is Jennifer McVeigh’s second novel but the first that I’ve read. Her debut, The Fever Tree was chosen for the Richard and Judy book. I love discovering authors that are new to me and I’m so pleased to have been given the opportunity to read an early copy of this book – it is everything that I look for in an historical fiction read; beautifully described, evocative of another time and place, with a gripping storyline and a strong and interesting female lead.

McVeigh’s descriptions of place in Leopard at the Door are amazing; sights, smells, dress and people are all captured with such richness that I felt transported as I read. I’ve never been to Africa but the excellent scene setting in this novel meant that I didn’t have to work to imagine it and I particularly loved the vistas that McVeigh creates featuring wildlife.

Against this natural beauty, McVeigh sets a story of love, war and division that contrasts sharply. With her lead character Rachel we are given an observer’s insight into events and I loved the way that Rachel’s character was used to give perspective and also represented the divides in the story – it made for gripping reading. The story is shockingly violent in places yet there are also wonderful scenes of gentleness, compassion and love which makes it all the more heartbreaking to read.

As Rachel returns to her father’s farm in Kenya after a six year absence she is also trying to find her place in the world. Sent to England at just 12 following the death of her beloved mother, Rachel is just eighteen when she returns and is still trying to make sense of her fathers’ actions and find her place in the family. But the farm that she returns to is subtly changed from the idyll of her childhood memories and immediately there are tensions in the house.

Charting the violence and horrors of the early 1950s and British Imperialism in Kenya, McVeigh shines a spotlight on a part of history that I know little about making this book much more than just an excellent read. McVeigh brings history alive and I was completely swept up in this story; it’s a must read for fans of Dinah Jefferies and readers who love historical fiction coupled with dramatic settings and love against the odds.

5/5

Leopard at the Door is out now in ebook and audio formats from Penguin. It will be released in paperback on 13th July.

Find out more about Jennifer and her writing at: http://www.jennifermcveigh.com/

I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book.

Exclusive Extract: Making Space by Sarah Tierney

26 May

It’s my stop on the Making Space blog tour today and I have an extract from the book to share with you. Making Space is Sarah Tierney’s debut novel. Sarah is a graduate of the MA in Novel Writing at Manchester University, and her short story, ‘Five Miles Out’, was made into a short film by the acclaimed director Andrew Haigh. Sarah has worked as a journalist, editor and copywriter. She lives in Derbyshire with her husband and daughter.

making spaceWhy do we hold onto things we don’t need? And let go of the things we do? Miriam is twenty-nine: temping, living with a flatmate who is no longer a friend, and still trying to find her place in life. She falls in love with Erik after he employs her to clear out his paper-packed home. They are worlds apart: he is forty-five, a successful photographer and artist and an obsessive hoarder still haunted by the end of his marriage. Miriam has an unsuccessful love life and has just got rid of most of her belongings. Somehow, they must find a way to reach each other.

Extract

There was a time when I wore t-shirts with band names on them and patterned dresses with big boots. At some point, though, this style had become no good. It was too teenage, too studenty so I’d replaced it with the Next jumpers and the boot cut jeans, and these work clothes; silk-lined suits, stiff ironed shirts, plain black trousers, which felt like a costume every time I put them on: Now I’m going to dress like someone with an office job. And thinking about it, so did the other two sections of my wardrobe. Now I’m going to dress like a girl desperate for attention. Now like a girl desperate to be ignored.

I put them all in the corner marked ‘charity’. Then I started on my books. I had a lot. They filled two bookcases and were stacked in piles against the wall. Some were from university. TV criticism, film scripts, biographies of directors and actors. Others dated back to my late teens Jane Eyre, The Great Gatsby, Lolita, On the Road, and so on. Over the years, my tastes had become less literary. Many of my more recent purchases featured vampires. My DVDs followed a similar pattern. At uni I’d chosen films by director. Now I preferred to watch HBO box sets. You could wipe out an entire weekend with a twelve–episode series, emerging on Monday morning with no hangover, just a vague sense of dislocation in the world.

I put a few in the corner named ‘sell’ and the rest in ‘charity’. Then I moved the sell ones to charity as well. I didn’t want them hanging around for months while I waited for someone to buy them off Amazon.

I worked my way through the whole room like that, sorting through my shoes, my make-up, my knick-knacks. There was a box under my bed full of old letters, birthday cards, and photographs. I pulled it out and took off the lid, then suddenly lost heart. I called my sister Susie then, to ask if she’d give me a lift to a charity shop tomorrow. Most of my belongings were in that corner, and the one labelled ‘bin’. Almost all, in fact.

By the time I’d finished, Jessica and Gareth had gone out. It was a Friday night. I ate a bowl of cold curry in the kitchen then got ready for bed.

I didn’t have any pyjamas to change into and taking them out of the bin bag felt wrong, like I’d broken a promise. I left them where they were and got under the covers naked. I never did that if I was on my own.

The next morning Susie arrived at just past nine, the only gap she had in her Saturday schedule. She had her phone in one hand, car keys in the other, but still managed to grab my arm when she saw all my stuff packed up in my room. ‘I thought you meant just a few bags. Are you finally moving out of this student flat?’

‘“Young professionals”. Neither of us are students.’

‘Sorry. “Young professionals”. So, where are you going?’

‘Nowhere. I’m having a clear-out.’

‘Of everything you own?’

I gave her a bin bag of clothes to take down to her car. Susie was three years older than me but it always felt like more. She had married Tom when she was nineteen. They’d had two children by the time she was twenty-four. She’d never been to uni and done the living with friends thing or the staying in bed till 1 pm on a Tuesday thing. As a result, she looked at my life like it was something quirky and strange and not quite serious. As if it was a fanciful project I was involved in, rather than an actual adult existence.

She once asked me why I hadn’t settled down with a decent man, as if decent men came along all the time and offered to set up home with me, and I was just giggling and batting them away. Both my sister and my mum veered between treating me like a child and getting annoyed that I wasn’t more grown-up. Today, for example, Susie would happily take over the whole charity shop operation, then later tell me to get my driver’s licence so I didn’t have to rely on her to help out. It was confusing to be mollycoddled one minute then told to sharpen up the next.

Making Space is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Sandtone Press.

Guest post: Triplets in Pop Culture By Carla Caruso

25 May

I’m delighted to welcome author Carla Caruso back to One More Page today. Carla was born in Adelaide, Australia, and only ‘escaped’ for three years to work as a magazine journalist and stylist in Sydney. Previously, she was a gossip columnist and fashion editor at Adelaide’s daily newspaper, The Advertiser. She has since freelanced for titles including Woman’s Day and Shop Til You Drop. These days, she plays mum to twin lads Alessio and Sebastian with hubby James.Visit www.carlacaruso.com.au. to find out more about Carla and her writing.

Carla Caruso, author pic, HarperCollinsHi. My name’s Carla Caruso and I’m an Aussie author of several romance and rom-com novels. My latest one is Run for the Hills, out today in ebook with Harlequin Escape, yay!

The story revolves around a runaway bride who escapes to a small town and winds up working for triplet wedding photographers. Yup, triplets. Naturally, one in particular catches her eye…

Ever since I’ve had twin boys (now three years old!), I’ve had a penchant for including ‘multiple birth’ characters in my tales. Which got me pondering multiple-birth characters in pop culture. And while I can think of plenty famous twins (fictional or otherwise)—hello Bros, Sweet Valley’s Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, and The Simpsons’ Patty and Selma—I was scratching my head to think up many such triplets.

So I thought I’d do some digging and see what I could come up with. Here’s a bit of list, as below. While it may not be as exhaustive as it would be for well-known twins, it shows that sometimes three can be even better than two…!

  • In the Disney flick, Parent Trap 3, tricky teen triplets (played by Leanna, Monica and Joy Creel) try to match their father with an interior decorator (Hayley Mills) who has a twin. When I watched this movie in the eighties, I wanted to BE one of the gorgeous, curly-haired Creel triplets! Each of the characters has a distinct identity: ‘Lisa’ is the wild and fun one, ‘Jessie’ the quiet but sweet one, and ‘Megan’ the nice and truthful one.
  • Heard of Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck? Well, who really realised that the trio of animated ducks are identical triplets? The threesome reside with their famed uncle, Donald Duck, in the fictional city of Duckburg and can be a little wild and unruly. Rather than each being very different like the aforementioned Creel triplets, a running joke sees the ducklings finishing each other’s sentences as they’re so identical in appearance and personality. However, you can tell them apart by the colour of their outfits—Huey is known for dressing in red, Dewey in blue, and Louie in green.
  • In TV sitcom Friends, Phoebe agrees to be a surrogate for her bro and his wife who can’t conceive – and ends up carrying fraternal triplets. There are some funny lines when the trio arrive on the scene, such as, “I like the middle one best!” and “Don’t worry I won’t let the other two know.” After the labour, Phoebe has a heart-to-heart solo with her new nieces and nephew and says she wishes she could take them all home, but will settle for being their fave aunt. Then the four of them cry together. Pass the tissues!
  • Recall the 1988 movie, Twins, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as a mismatched duo? Well, the pair are working on a sequel called—you guessed it—Triplets, and it’ll reportedly star Eddie Murphy as a third brother!

Enough triplet trivia for you? Well, I did mention my new ebook features triplet brothers, and you can read more about it here: www.escapepublishing.com.au/product/9781489241474  ;)

Thanks kindly for reading!

Thanks Carla!

Run for the Hills by Carla Caruso is released today in ebook formats from Escape Publishing.

RunForTheHills-C CarusoThe Belshaw brothers are back in Balkissoch…

Bridie Porter is wearing her Vera Wang gown and veil in the back of her wedding limo when she receives a compromising text about her hotelier groom. Panicked, she tells the driver to keep going and she flees from Melbourne to the small town of Balkissoch in the Adelaide Hills.

It’s the perfect pit-stop to hide from her ex and the press and to earn enough cash to stay out of sight. Unfortunately, the admin job she gets is for a wedding photography business and she’s had her fill of weddings lately. But it’s slim pickings on the work front in a town so teeny. And her new boss is strangely compelling…

After the rush and adrenaline of his job as an LA paparazzo, the last place Cody Belshaw wants to be is back in the small town where he grew up. But thanks to a clause in his father’s will that amounts to blackmail, Cody and his two brothers are stuck running a wedding business for at least a month. If there’s one thing that he’s learned in LA, however, it’s to keep business and pleasure very, very separate. Which makes his new admin employee the definition of temptation.

Bridie is desperate to stay anonymous. Cody seeks out secrets for a living. As they delve into the world of brides, boutonnières and dogs-as-best-men, both Cody and Bridie will have to decide if this is a fling…or forever

Book review: Spandex and the City by Jenny T Colgan

23 May

spandex and the cityLOCAL GIRL SWEPT OFF HER FEET

Mild-mannered publicist Holly Phillips is unlucky in love. She’s embarrassed beyond belief when the handsome stranger she meets in a bar turns out to be ‘Ultimate Man’ – a superpowered hero whose rescue attempt finds her hoisted over his shoulder and flashing her knickers in the newspaper the next day.

But when Holly’s fifteen minutes of fame make her a target for something villainous, she only has one place to turn – and finds the man behind the mask holds a lot more charm than his crime-fighting alter-ego.

Can Holly find love, or is superdating just as complicated as the regular kind?

I’m on a bit of a roll at the moment with quirky, geeky romantic books, the latest of which Spandex and the City looks at what it might be like to date a superhero! Jenny T. Colgan will be very familiar to many readers as the author (minus the T.) of hits such as The Little Beach Street Bakery  and The Little Shop of Happily Ever After. Having read and enjoyed jenny’s other books I was so pleased to see that she is taking her writing in a fun new direction and I very much enjoyed this book which is witty, action packed, quirky and romantic.

Holly is a twenty-six year old publicist who works at the Mayor’s office. Whilst out drinking with a friend one night she finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time and becomes the target for a villain who is targeting the city. Holly is rescued by ‘Ultimate Man’ and it’s the start of an intriguing relationship! Holly is a fun character with a penchant for sarcasm and she is a bit of a magnet for trouble! Colgan gets the mix of insecure twenty something, pop culture references and dating disasters just right and this makes for an engaging and surprising read.

I loved that I was wrong footed a number of times as I read and the pleasure Jenny T Colgan gets from the fantasy elements of her story just bounces off the page. There’s dastardly twists, implausible situations and excellent comic timing but underneath all of that there’s also a little bit of a message about our society and the way that technology is influencing our lives.

If you love rom-coms but would like to try something different; dream of having your very own superhero or if you’re just looking for a fun escapist read this summer then Spandex and the City could be just the book for you!

4/5

Spandex and the City is out now in paperback, ebook and audio formats from Orbit

Find out more about Jenny and her writing at: https://www.jennycolgan.com/

I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy of this book.

Event news: Brilliant Quirk Books events 26th-29th May!

21 May

As regular readers will know, I’m a huge fan of Quirk books (read my review of the brilliant Geekerella to see what I mean!) and I’m very excited to share with you that Quirk books have an action-packed set of events to entertain you this Bank Holiday weekend!

 MCM ComicCon

First of all, why don’t you stop off at MCM ComicCon London? One minute, get your photo taken with Archie from Riverdale or The Hulk, the next, head to Author Corner and listen to awesome women in publishing talk about comics, amazing women in history, and twisted fairytales.

http://www.mcmcomiccon.com/london/attractions/author-corner/

IMG_8061

 

Waterstones Piccadily

Then, head to the book heaven that is Waterstones Piccadilly on Monday, 29th May for an evening of book chat and wine, plus the chance to grab swag and win awesome prizes.

https://www.waterstones.com/events/bookpop-with-ashley-poston-hope-norton-and-sam-maggs/london-piccadilly

*Quirk Books will not accept responsibility for overstimulated minds and having too much fun in one go.

Book extract: Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson

21 May

Today I’m very pleased to share an extract from Patricia Wilson’s new novel, Island of Secrets, with you. After running her own business for twenty years, Patricia took early retirement and moved to the Greek island of Crete. When she dug up a rusted machine gun in her garden, and the inhabitants of her remote mountain village came with local stories of tragedy and triumph, she knew she had to tell their account of what really happened in September 1943, which became Island of Secrets. Patricia now lives on the island of Rhodes where she is researching and writing her second novel.

Island of SecretsThe story started at dawn on the fourteenth of September, 1943 . . .’

All her life, London-born Angelika has been intrigued by her mother’s secret past. Now planning her wedding, she feels she must visit the remote Crete village her mother grew up in.

Angie’s estranged elderly grandmother, Maria, is dying. She welcomes Angie with open arms – it’s time to unburden herself, and tell the story she’ll otherwise take to her grave.

It’s the story of the Nazi occupation of Crete during the Second World War, of horror, of courage and of the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her children. And it’s the story of bitter secrets that broke a family apart, and of three enchanting women who come together to heal wounds that have damaged two generations.

Extract 

The village of Amiras stilled, like a theatre waiting for the curtain to rise. Heat shimmered from the cobbled streets. In front of the kafenion, empty chairs stood in haphazard groups between square tables. Outside the closed supermarket, hessian olive sacks hung over boxes of potatoes and vegetables, protecting them from the fierce Mediterranean light.

A herd of long-haired goats shifted into the shadow of the hilltop chapel. For a few seconds, the dull clatter of their bells broke the peace and quiet of siesta time.

In the lower village, a blue door squeaked open and a wide hipped, middle-aged housewife hurried up the narrow streets. From the shade of a vermillion bougainvillea, a skinny white cat sniffed the air, narrowed its eyes and watched the woman.

Inside one cottage, an elderly couple sat as still and silent as the stone walls. A crucifix hung over a garish icon of Saint George. The martyr seemed distracted from his dragon slaying by an object in the livingroom. A chocolate box overflowed with photographs, letters and mementoes in the centre of a low round table.

The old woman, Maria, reached for a faded picture of Poppy cradling her baby. She studied the image and recalled Poppy’s last words, still fresh in her ears, although decades had passed.

Forget me, Mama. Forget I ever existed.

A shaft of sunlight streamed through the window illuminating Maria’s scarred hands – an ugly reminder of the fire. It took so much time for those wounds to heal.

Her wizened face hardened with a decision.

‘I will write to them, Vassili,’ she said to her husband sitting by the fireplace. ‘Voula can help me.’ She replaced the picture and closed the box. ‘God’s getting impatient, and I’m tired of it all.’ She crossed herself three times and prayer locked her arthritic fingers.

Vassili nodded as though he understood, but passing years had eroded his grief. He dropped his amber worry beads and hobbled to her side.

‘Don’t waste your thoughts on what’s dead and gone, old woman.’ He kissed her forehead.

Despite his words, scenes from the past returned and filled Maria’s head.

‘I can’t forget,’ she whispered, staring at ghosts that crowded into the whitewashed room.

Vassili followed her gaze, unable to see those who haunted her.

Recognising his confusion, Maria wished the spores of old age would moulder her mind too. Regrets were useless now. The time had come for forgiveness and, before she died, Maria hoped to touch the cheek of Poppy’s child.

‘Angelika has a right to know the truth, old man, she’s our granddaughter.’

‘Mama, Papa, your dinner’s here.’ Voula crashed through the doorway, the multi-coloured fly curtain whipping around her faded black dress. She gripped a casserole pot against her belly and grinned, her face a friendly gargoyle.

‘No need to shout, Voula, we’re not deaf,’ Maria said.

Vassili cupped a hand behind his ear. ‘Eh, what’s that? Ah, the food. No chance of any meat I suppose? I’ll be glad when Lent’s over. I can smell the lamb already.’ He shuffled to the kitchen table.

‘Only a few more days until Easter, Papa. I’ve made stuffed peppers. Will you have a glass of Demitri’s wine?’ Voula clattered the dishes and then helped Maria out of the armchair. ‘Anything else?’ she asked, pouring cloudy red krasí into tumblers before serving their meals.

Maria cut open a green pepper, hunched over her plate and sniffed the food.

Voula stopped bustling and watched Maria taste the rice stuffing flavoured with herbs, currants, and pine nuts. When she approved with a nod, Voula took a breath and smiled.

‘I want to write to Poppy and Angelika,’ Maria said flatly.

Voula’s eyes widened. She glanced around the table top and then at Vassili who guzzled his food. ‘Are you sure, Mama?’ She lowered her voice to a whisper. ‘What if it starts up again, the trouble, after all these years? Isn’t it better to forget? We can’t bring back the dead.’

‘No,’ Maria said, her face drawn and thin above the mound of colourful vegetables. ‘I’ve decided.’

***

The next day, Voula asked, ‘How do you want to start the letter, Mama?’ Her pencil poised over a child’s exercise book.

Maria grunted. ‘I’ve thought about it for hours. The beginning is the most difficult part. If it’s not perfect, they’ll screw it up and throw it away. We’ve got one chance at this, Voula. We should address the envelope to Angelika and put both letters in it. Otherwise, I fear her mother might tear it up unopened. Now, let’s see, how shall we begin?’

‘I know, what about: Dear Angelika?’

Maria rolled her eyes. She wondered if her daughter-in-law had lost more of her marbles in sixty-five years than Maria had in ninety. ‘Yes, very good, Voula,’ she snorted. ‘And then?’

Voula lifted and dropped her shoulders, which made her breasts quiver against her belly.

‘Write this then,’ Maria said. ‘I have wanted to send you a letter for a long time. I hoped to see you before I die, but I realise our meeting is unlikely.’

‘Mama!’

‘Oh, face the facts, Voula; I’m on my way out. Let’s get on with the letter before the Angel Gabriel replaces you as my personal assistant.’

Voula scratched her lip and nodded.

‘Now, write this, Voula: Angelika, please tell your mother I have never stopped loving her. Put your arms around her and kiss her from me. Poppy is in my heart. Say that I am sorry. Truly sorry. If I could have changed things, I would.’

‘Mama, how do we know Angelika reads Greek?’

‘We have to trust Poppy will have taught her. Anyway, we can ask Demitri to translate for us. What shall we write next? Perhaps something about Angelika’s father.’ Maria tilted her head to one side. ‘Yeorgo,’ she sighed. ‘Wasn’t he a beautiful man, Voula?’ Silent for a moment, Maria’s eyes glazed. ‘That’s another difficult part. I wonder if Angelika knows.’

Island of Secrets is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Patricia and her writing at: www.pmwilson.net