Monday, January 8, 2018

Borrowed Dreams by Susanne O'Leary

AMAZON UK
AMAZON US

Borrowed Dreams There’s nothing like a romance set in Saint-Tropez, one of the most famous resorts in Europe, where the well-heeled escape from it all to their shiny yachts in the glorious sunshine.

Daisy Hennessy isn’t exactly well-heeled, though. She’s rather desperate, in fact, to find a job after splitting up with her rather unscrupulous on-off boyfriend. House-sitting a luxury villa amongst the mega-rich and looking after a couple of pooches is the perfect distraction…she hopes. But when she borrows some designer clothes from the absent owner’s wardrobe to attend invite-only parties, she finds herself caught up in an ever-decreasing circle of lies. Famous Irish author Liam complicates her situation. Not only does she have to extricate herself out of her web of deceit…which seemed a harmless bit of fun to start with…if she’s going to get anywhere with the handsome writer, she suddenly finds herself rather close to home, when there's a series of robberies from the glitteratis' luxury villas.

Susanne has a wonderfully uncluttered and refreshing style and never fails to provide characters who are easy to like; she lures you into their lives and into the beautiful setting—you can feel the warm sun on your skin, see the sparkling azure-blue sea and almost taste the fine French cuisine in the topnotch restaurants.



This book follows Selling Dreams, but stands alone, which is one of the things I love about Susanne’s books. Each book is complete but she leaves the door slightly ajar so that anyone of her characters can squeeze through and tiptoe into another book; it’s rather fun trying to guess who will slip into another adventure.

As always, highly recommended.


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Queen's Gold by Melissa Bowersock

AMAZON UK
Melissa Bowersock Queen's Gold has featured frequently in my reading list…and managed to very deservedly find her way into my favourite-authors list.

Her stories flirt with fantasy/paranormal in a way that makes you think twice about things of which you might say, ‘Nah! No way!’ And in this particular story, one of the main characters says exactly that: it’s a tale in which both reader (well, this one!) and protagonist find themselves in agreement.

Widower Hal Thompson’s two children strike a bargain with him: fervent believers of hypnotic regression, they promise to stop trying to convince him that there really is something in it if he will just agree to one session. If it doesn’t ‘happen’ for him, then Brian and Wendy promise they’ll never raise the subject again. Backed into a corner, Hal agrees. The experience proves to be unsettling for Hal when he ‘remembers’ not only the whereabouts of some ancient Aztec gold, but also…disarmingly…a long-lost love. Reluctant to admit to his children his scepticism might have been misplaced, he is soon shocked into shedding his misgivings when things get gravely personal. His 'memories', it appears, are of crucial importance to some ruthless people.

This story changes gear dramatically after the first few pages: it starts off at a very pleasant, leisurely pace, and suddenly, it’s ‘sit up and take notice’. 

I must confess, however, of all the books I've read by this author, I'm not so sure I'd put this one at the top of the list. I fell in love with the wholesomeness that was the Thompsons, but parts of the plot were just a teensy bit unsubstantial, hurried even. That said, the ending is climactic and gripping.

Notwithstanding, this was an enjoyable read and a very welcome addition to my collection of this author’s books.

See also:

Burning Through
Fleischerhaus
Stone's Ghost 
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Silver Rain by Jan Ruth

AMAZON UK

Marshmallow or nougat? A marshmallow that’s soft and sweet, easy to swallow but immediately forgotten? Or nougat that’s something to get your teeth into and you want to enjoy for a bit longer? 



Silver Rain is nougat. 

What a delightful story. It boasts a cast of solid, credible characters. Few of them win any medals for being perfect, but it’s precisely their lack of stereotype that makes them so believable and thoroughly likeable. 

What is also rather charming is the fact that this romance’s boy and girl are not that. Kate and Al are fifty-ish been-theres. So they’ve been through jobs, marriages, children—grand-children, even—divorces, deaths and learnt a thing or two along the way, perhaps with a little cynicism. Neither is looking for love, especially. Al’s in a sort of relationship, mainly physical, while Kate, after two husbands is rather sceptical and well, who’s going to want a middle-aged, twice-married woman, anyway?

Not only charming, this story is a well-woven tapestry of unhappy pasts, secrets, untimely revelations, strength of character, lust, fun, humour and good old-fashioned romance.

It’s is a story you feel you want to jump into to get to know Kate and Al. It’s real, it’s earthy, it’s sensible. You want to help Kate with her problems. You want to shake the lovable, but slightly frustrating Al. You want to knock some sense into his brother. You want to offer help to Al’s kind-hearted, animal-loving sister-in-law. You just want to make them all your family and sort them out. And as far as the reader is concerned, there’s no predictability about Kate and Al nor any guarantees. Their outcome isn't revealed until the very end...literally...but what an enjoyable ride to find it out.

I absolutely loved it.

See also:

Midnight Sky


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Sonnets for Heidi by Melissa Bowersock


AMAZON US
I love the eclectic nature of Bowersock’s books. She's an author who produces quality whatever the genre. And on the subject of quality, the package is always complete with absolutely spot-on editing…the icing on an outstanding cake. 

This is an emotionally charged tale of forbidden love.  Aunt Heidi has few living relatives, and the only one willing to take on the responsibility of her care, when Alzheimer’s disease dictates the need for residential care, is her niece, Trish Munroe.  In the time leading up to Heidi’s sudden death, Trish shares some tender moments with an elderly lady who swings from clarity to confusion at the snap of the fingers. Her endeavours to keep Heidi's memory alive lead not only to the revelation of family secrets but to Trish’s own enlightenment: an unburdening of her own past and clarity for her future.

This was a story based on more than one ‘difficult’, sometimes not-talked-about subject, but handled oh-so-professionally by Bowersock. I found the characters ready-developed: you walk into their lives instantly. You know them instantly. You empathise instantly. They’re real-life people right from the start.

This is a novel with a warm glow. It’s professional, it’s classy. Sheer pleasure from start to finish.



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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out

A self-trained chef and food photographer, Angela Liddon has spent years perfecting the art of plant-based cooking, Over 100 Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out , creating inventive and delicious recipes that have brought her devoted fans from all over the world.

After struggling with an eating disorder for a decade, Angela vowed to change her diet — and her life — once and for all. She traded the low-calorie, processed food shed been living on for whole, nutrient-packed vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and more. The result? Her energy soared, she healed her relationship with food, and she got her glow back, both inside and out.



The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out




Eager to share her realization that the food we put into our bodies has a huge impact on how we look and feel each day, Angela started a blog, ohsheglows.com, which is now an Internet sensation and one of the most popular vegan recipe blogs on the web.

This is Angelas long-awaited debut cookbook, with a trasure trove of more than 100 moutherwatering, wholesome recipes — from revamped classics that even meat-eaters will love, to fresh and inventive dishes — all packed with flavor. The Oh She Glows Cookbook also includes many allergy-friendly recipes — with more than 90 gluten-free recipes — and many recipes free of soy, nuts, sugar, and grains, too!

Whether you are a vegan, "vegan-curious," or you simply want to eat delicious food that just happens to be healthy, too, this cookbook is a must-have for anyone who longs to eat well, feel great, and simply glow!

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Manos: Talons of Fate book

A shocking new chiller from the Winner of the 2016 Scribe Award!



What starts as a much-needed vacation for Mike, Margaret, daughter Debbie, and their dog, Pepe, escalates into a nightmare of fear and madness. Trapped by the wicked Master, his demonic brides, and the half-human Torgo, the family must endure the horrors of the night-dark desert to escape the vile coven. Once the terror starts, it never lets up in this new, deadly serious novel based on the classic cult film.


Manos: Talons of Fate book by s tephen d.sullivan





“In this version of Manos, the characters are revealed to be complex, believable people with reasons (no matter how misguided) for their fateful choices. The dark and twisted methods of the Manos cult are described in gruesome detail. This is a novel that lovers of horror will truly enjoy.” —Jackey Neyman Jones (Debbie from Manos) from her Foreword.
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Enlightened Aging: Building Resilience for a Long, Active Life

A leading expert in the science of healthy aging, Dr. Eric B. Larson offers practical advice for growing old with resilience and foresight.

More than just canned advice, Enlightened Aging proposes a path to resilience—one that’s proven to help many stave off disability until very old age.


The steps on this path include pro-activity, acceptance, and building and maintaining good physical, mental, and social health



Enlightened Aging: Building Resilience for a Long, Active Life




Using inspiring stories from Dr. Larson’s experiences with study participants, patients, friends, and relatives, Enlightened Aging will help readers determine what their paths can look like given their own experiences and circumstances. It informs readers of the scientific evidence behind new perspectives on aging. It inspires readers with stories of people who are approaching aging with enlightened attitudes.

It offers advice and resources for readers to build their own reserves for old age. It recommends ways for readers to work with their doctors to stay as healthy as possible for their age. And it offers ideas for building better communities for our aging population. While especially relevant to the baby boom generation, this work is really for people of all ages looking for encouragement and wise counsel in order to live a long, active life.
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Have Gun, Will Play by Camille LaGuire

novel-secrets
AMAZON US

Have Gun, Will Play by Camille LaGuire

Well. That was three or four hours of my life utterly wasted. When you look back on the books you’ve read over the year, there is undoubtedly one, if not two, perhaps even three, that stand out because they’re outstanding and one (or more) because they are…not so outstanding. This one was the lemon for my year so far.

It’s a western. Two young (very young) gunslingers, Mick and Casey, are hired to keep a rather precocious little girl, Laurie, and her aunt safe, as her Daddy is an unpopular bigwig in town. Needless to say, the job doesn’t go too well and there’s a lot of shooting, dead guys, deceit, betrayal and sore heads. Moreover, there’s something very unusual about a certain box of toys that belongs to Laurie, that seems to cause quite a lot of interest.

The whole thing is confusing and a mess. The characters are like cardboard cut-outs: the story is so ‘told’ (not one bit of ‘show’), I got no emotion from any of them and couldn't, therefore, afford them any in return. The story was poorly written: it lacked maturity (or experience), there were a number of typos and missing words, and the author seems to have no grasp on how to use the correct tenses.

This was unputdownable for all the wrong reasons: I couldn’t wait to finish it and get on to a good book.  The only commendation I can give is that the author sat down and had a jolly good try.
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Love Hurts by Carol E. Wyer

novel-secrets.blogspot.com
AMAZON US

Love Hurts by Carol E. Wyer

I love it when an author jumps out of a cake and surprises you. Well, not literally, of course. Metaphorically speaking. 

Carol is a wonderful writer of light-hearted, funny, witty and entertaining novels and non-fiction books. Her books are like pick-me-ups, and you know you are going to end up smiling and uplifted at the final click.

So, Love Hurts comes along—a selection of five short stories—and not only are you entertained, but you’re pleasantly—very, very pleasantly—amazed by a range of stories you just didn’t expect: a delicious mix of dark, sad, playful and cheering.

Love Hurts looks at how the very many facets of love make people react and the consequences of those reactions: sometimes joyful, sometimes…not. Each story is very different but equally delightful, and I defy anyone to not enjoy this quintet.

Love Hurts by Carol E. Wyer

See also:
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So...I met an Alien by Paul McAvoy

AMAZON UK
AMAZON US

So...I met an Alien by Paul McAvoy

This is the second of Paul’s books I have read (So…I met a Ghost). 

It’s a fun story about a young teenage schoolboy, Danny, who bunks off school to escape incessant bullying. Whilst playing truant, he bumps into an alien…as you do. Danny’s day of truancy turns out to be quite an extraordinary one. Spiro, the alien, turns out to be a decent sort of...well, alien, but he’s being pursued by some not-so-decent men in dark suits. Danny enlists the help of his best friend, Sean, and Sean's sister to ensure these men don’t catch up with Spiro and to make sure he gets back to his own people.

Paul McAvoy

Danny’s unrequited love for Sean’s sister and a tragic family loss make for a sometimes poignant story with some topical and important issues: school bullying and single-parent families. And Danny is a decent character with the ability to see the best in people. But there’s action, too, as Spiro’s pursuers are never far behind.

The writing is a little raw and unrefined and the dialogue sometimes stilted, but it’s a heart-warming story, which has a well-earned place in the YA category.
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Monday, December 25, 2017

Life Memories by J. R. Hopkins

AMAZON UK
AMAZON US
Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are conditions we hope will never afflict our loved ones—more specifically, our more aged loved ones—or us. Either way, it causes a lot of stress and distress, in particular for the carers.

This author was one of those carers. She looked after her mother for the last two years of her life, when she was suffering from dementia. This was a serious commitment at a time when Hopkins had a number of other major worries in her life. Determined not to be beaten by what life was throwing at her, she sought to take a glass-half-full approach and squeezed some happy memories out of an unhappy situation, but very particularly from the time she spent with her mother.

She stresses that the experience can be tough, it can be frustrating, it can be exhausting, and it can be sad to watch someone you love change from being the person who looked after you to one who needs to be looked after BY you. BUT, it’s also about finding some humour, some happiness, some lightheartedness so that when you lose someone you love, you aren’t left with unwelcome memories.

This may not be a book you would pick up to read unless you were in a similar position or wanted to help someone the same situation. However, even if you aren’t, you can draw inspiration from the author’s strength of character in the face of some pretty unpleasant circumstances.

This account contains tender, poignant and sad moments, but don’t worry; there are many instances in which you find the corners of your mouth twitching into a smile.

This book is not only about how to care for someone with dementia, it’s also about looking on the bright side of life.


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White is the Coldest Colour by John Nicholl

novel-secrets.blogspot.com
 

This is quite a book. It focusses on a very unpleasant and highly distressing subject…or rather, crime…and I confess I was a little apprehensive about how the story was going to unfold and if I really wanted to know, even. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book in which I’ve loathed one of the main characters right from the get-go—as in, the very first page. I should add that this is the author’s intention; he (the character, that is!) is quite simply a loathsome, evil person. Strangely, this makes the story very compelling.

What we have here is a novel with paedophilia as its core. Please don’t rush off with a ‘Sorry, not a subject I want to read about’. This is a story in the very capable hands of an experienced police officer and child-protection social worker who has seen things he very probably wishes he hadn’t. In his own words, it’s ‘dedicated to survivors everywhere’.

White is the Coldest Colour by John Nicholl


Dr David Galbraith is a child psychiatrist, upheld as an expert and talented man in his field. But the exterior hides a sadistic, murderous predator, a vile and controlling human being. Seven-year-old Anthony isn’t handling his parents’ break-up too well, so he is referred to the best: Galbraith. A dangerous, potentially tragic move.


I really couldn’t tear myself away from this book. You’re committed to finding out how disgusting and heinous this man wants to be. All the characters were brilliantly conceived: from the villains to the victims. Galbraith’s wife is one who makes quite an impression.


The topic is harsh and hard-hitting, but the story was very well executed. It was powerful, and I can highly recommend it…but beware of the lack of editing. Apart from the ‘usual suspects’, there was a rather annoying overuse of the ellipsis (I did a search and discovered it was used 558 times. Good grief!). And then there was the characters’ irritating habit of calling each other by name in most of their dialogues. So if you simply can’t overlook under-editing, perhaps it might be worth waiting (and hoping) that a more polished version is eventually uploaded.

Read: 
Hot Pursuit by Susanne O'Leary

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The Green Room by Faith Mortimer


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The psychological thriller genre is probably my favourite. That, combined with one of my favourite authors and I’m in reading heaven. This was undoubtedly another winner in Faith’s ‘Dark Minds’ novels. 

In this third book of the series, a serial killer is sweeping Surrey, raping and strangling his victims. Ella, a competent nurse, has a policeman boyfriend, who, with inside knowledge of the case, instructs her to stay safe at all times. She believes she is perfectly safe; she lives in an apartment in a block owned and lived in by her parents and the tenant of one in particular is rather mysterious, but…very appealing...and as eager as her boyfriend to ensure her safety. The killer, however, cunningly manages to continue to evade the police, and with the information Ella’s boyfriend leaks to her confidentially, the finger seems to be pointing to one person. But she doesn’t find out until too late how far off the mark she is.

Had I been reading an actual book, I would have created a gale from the speed I was turning the pages. Every time, I thought I’d figured out who the killer was, I bumped into another red herring, resulting in another metaphoric breeze-making page-turning session. Not to mention when I finally—correctly, at last—realised who it was: it was a positive hurricane.

What I also liked about this novel was Faith’s commitment to the murder plot. Ella’s romantic…let’s call it ‘predicament’…takes a back seat to ensure this very definitely isn’t a romantic suspense story. The ending I thought…without giving too much away…was rather sophisticated. Who knows, we could well be seeing Ella again.

Another golden string to this author’s bow.



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