Book Review : “Perception and Illusion” by Catherine Kullman

I was given an ARC of this book by TBC on Facebook and by kind permission of the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts are my own.

Regency novel pin

Pin for later

All good Regency novels must have a heroine, a hero and a couple of protagonists to really work well.  In Perception and Illusion, we are immediately introduced to the heroine of the piece Lallie Grey…………in 1814 a young woman living with her father’s second family, to all intents and purposes playing the role of governess to her young half siblings and at twenty-four having never experienced her own season or the chance to find a husband in society.  Her own mother died when she was an infant and she lived with her maternal grandparents until their deaths.  Unaware that she is in fact an heiress, Lallie refuses to marry the man who her father schemes for her to wed, in order that he might keep control of her fortune.  But Lallie escapes with her maid and runs into a gentleman whom she has met once before, Mr Hugo Tamarisk. Heir to huge wealth himself, he initially becomes her ally and protector, but I give nothing away by telling you that the hero and heroine fall in love and so the romance, confusion and intrigue begins.

Both Lallie and Hugo are dogged by their family past – Lallie by circumstances that she is not privy to, and Hugo by relationships with his sisters, father and an ex-mistress.  The fairy tale ending comes part way through this book, with the socially naïve Lallie finding herself thrown into a whirlwind of high society and her fairy tale disintegrating as other people invade her space and mind.  Not all the characters are intentionally trying to cause trouble or pain to Lallie and Hugo, but a mixture of miscommunication, half heard conversations and meddling lead to a difficult start to married life.  I am not giving you any spoilers with more plot!


Picture from Ms Kullman’s website

The words Regency novel jumped off the page and I couldn’t have requested it quicker.  I am a huge Jane Austen fan and had to remind myself that I must not make comparisons, but it is difficult not to initially.  The funny thing is my teen is studying Mansfield Park and whilst I was reading Perception and Illusion, she was reading out loud sections of Miss Austen to me in order to stay awake.  She hates it with a vengeance!  I must admit that I had forgotten just how dry some of Austen’s writing can be, but fear not as Ms Kullman writes this period drama with a modern style.  It is easy to read romantic Regency fiction, but not without some grit and very determined characters.  There are also some cheeky references to a couple of Austen’s characters too.

An area where this novel does share similarities with Austen is the role of the female lead.  She is strong, self-aware and knows her own mind – in many ways Lallie is a very modern, feminist woman living in a man’s world dictated to by male rules.  She reminds me of Lizzie Bennett and Emma Woodhouse, both women struggling to have their voices heard in a time when fathers, husbands and brothers had the final word.  The poor communication between the main characters drove me mad at times, and I wanted to shout at them to just talk to each other.  But the circumstances were of the time, and the fact that I was so irritated must show how well Ms Kullman wove this into the overall plot.

I could quite easily write a full period type analysis…but I won’t!!  The characters all grow with the storyline, whether to become admired or diminished by the reader.  The descriptions of the locations, the fashions and the coach rides were painted as vivid and elegant pictures, depicting the era perfectly.  But the most important thing for me is that the novel was really enjoyable and I read it in a matter of days.  A lovely, witty romantic period piece – 4 stars.

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (30 Mar. 2017)

Available at Amazon here:

Perception & Illusion

The Author

Catherine Kullman can be found at

Catherine Kullman

From her website:

I was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, I moved to Germany where I lived for twenty-five years before returning to Ireland. I have worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector.

I have a keen sense of history and of connection with the past which so often determines the present. I am fascinated by people. I love a good story, especially when characters come to life in a book.

I have always enjoyed writing, I love the fall of words, the shaping of an expressive phrase, the satisfaction when a sentence conveys my meaning exactly. I enjoy plotting and revel in the challenge of evoking a historic era for characters who behave authentically in their period while making their actions and decisions plausible and sympathetic to a modern reader. In addition, I am fanatical about language, especially using the right language as it would have been used during the period about which I am writing. But rewarding as all this craft is, there is nothing to match the moment when a book takes flight, when your characters suddenly determine the route of their journey.”


Just Out: The Year that Changed Everything” by Cathy Kelly – Book Review #SundayBlogShare


Publication Day!

The Year That Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly

Disclaimer: Thanks to The Book Club on Facebook, I was fortunate to be given an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All views are my own.

When I was told I had been chosen to receive this book I was absolutely delighted – I am a huge Cathy Kelly fan and have always loved her brand of contemporary Irish female fiction.  But this also comes with the possibility of being disappointed by one of my favourite authors and having to write a review!

Pin for later

Cathy Kelly

Ginger, Sam and Callie are three Irish women all about to reach a milestone birthday.  They have never met, lead completely different lives but share the same birthday – a day on which they will turn 30, 40 and 50.  Ginger is not celebrating her 30th how she had pictured it, in fact her personal life is far from anything she had dreamed of and she is now bridesmaid at her best friend’s wedding on her own birthday. Overweight, overlooked, overdressed in a hideous bridesmaid dress and single.  Meanwhile Sam is planning a quiet day for her 40th birthday as she prepares for the imminent arrival of a much-wanted baby.  After years of failing to conceive she is finally pregnant and feeling excited, yet terrified in equal measure when her waters break. Happy birthday, Sam!  Callie is the woman with everything.  She was a model in her youth and is still has beauty and poise, has a handsome, successful husband, a beautiful home and her greatest pride, her teenage daughter.  To the guests attending her lavish 50th birthday party she appears to live a charmed life.

The stories of these women are written in separate chapters, each chapter titled with one of their names. So, whilst the stories are completely separate, they weave around each other as the chapters progress over the following year of the title.  I enjoyed the way that the author wrote this, although I think I would have preferred reading it from a book rather than on the Kindle – just my preference as I tend to flip back in this style of writing.  Their birthdays all mark a huge change in circumstance for each of them with Ginger overhearing a damning conversation about herself, Sam giving birth to a beautiful daughter and the police breaking up the perfect party at Callie’s.  I am trying very hard here not to write any spoilers!

I have always the loved the passion that Cathy Kelly puts into her writing, and this book is no exception.  These women become real as their stories emerge from the page and their characters grow.  I don’t think that there will be a mother out there who can’t identify with Sam’s feelings of absolute fear as she takes her new born home – “how do I do this? How can I keep her safe? What if I can’t do this? What if I don’t bond? I don’t know what to do and I’m terrified of failing”.  Sam has another reason that is driving her fear and this is deeply connected with her family.  She has been a career woman, but not by choice, whilst her sister has a young family and seems to be the perfect mummy – their own mother is not the role model either of them would ask for, making for difficult relationships.  Ginger flourishes in front of our eyes as she throws herself, quite literally, into her work as a journalist (remember no spoilers) whilst grieving friendships and the lack of a man in her life, but that is not to say it is without some tremendous lows and heartbreak.  For Callie’s tale, all that I will say is that I grew to feel a huge respect for this woman as her world is literally pulled from beneath her feet, leaving her fighting for herself, her daughter and her self respect.

The chapters of the stories wind around each other like twines of ivy until there is one strengthened plant growing…a year on and an epilogue brings them to common ground.  Cathy Kelly has surpassed herself in the realms of female fiction here with warmth, wisdom, tears and laughter….I needn’t have worried as it completely lived up to my expectations. 5 stars

Publisher: Orion 22nd Feb 2018


Available from Amazon:


About the Author:

Cathy Kelly is published around the world, with millions of books in print. Cathy is the bestselling author of The Honey Queen, Once in a Lifetime and Between Sisters, and is a No.1 bestseller in the UK, Ireland and Australia. Her trademark is warm and witty Irish storytelling about modern life, always with an uplifting message, a sense of community and strong female characters at the heart.
She lives with her family and their three dogs in County Wicklow, Ireland. She is also an Ambassador for UNICEF Ireland, raising funds and awareness for children orphaned by or living with HIV/AIDS.
Find out more at or follow her on Twitter @cathykellybooks

5 Star Book Review: Oracle’s Hunt by A. Claire Everward #SundayBlogShare @ClaireEverward

 #SundayBlogShare #SocialSaturday

I was given an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review – thanks to The Book Club on Facebook. All opinions are my own. Post contains affiliate links.

This is the first book in the Oracle Series.

Donovan Pierce is a United States Federal Investigative Division Agent and he has been called to a new case – the destruction of the data storage facility for the worldwide defense and security services. This will not be a mission to be taken lightly. Ever since a group of forward thinking citizens of the world had formed a peaceful alliance calling themselves the Internationals and had grown in numbers, strength and support from major powers, there were factions desperate to topple the peace and take power for themselves. This latest act of sabotage shows all the signs that it has been carefully orchestrated by one such group, as the level of professionalism has ensured that there are no traces of evidence left behind. Except one.

Pin for later:

Oracles Hunt

The terrorists couldn’t have known that the old security cameras for the facility were still operating, and that Donovan’s IT team have picked up one very important word: Oracle. But as the investigation commences, it is starting to feel to Donovan that someone is blocking his access to the information that he requires – someone with the highest level of security clearance. Then imagine his surprise the following morning when his new neighbour is sitting sipping coffee in the garden and she is none other than the elusive female who was part of a video call shutting down the investigation into this word the previous day! This is Lara Holsworth.

I really enjoyed the concept behind this book, particularly with current world politics as they are, and I immediately felt sympathetic to Donovan and also felt his frustration. He becomes more convinced that Lara is central to Oracle…..but just what is it and has the impossible been achieved with a functioning human/Artificial Intelligence interface? I must admit that I had to quiz my electronic/computer science engineer son about this – and was still none the wiser by his explanation! The relationship that unfolds between the two main characters is as interesting as the investigation, but I am not going to give away any spoilers! Lara is enigmatic, intriguing and attractive to both Donovan and the reader, and of course Donovan is described as a very fine specimen as well as being a fantastic investigator.

It was only one word, always the same word that lit up whenever it appeared, one word that was the target of those who had made such an effort to procure this information, destroying everything on the way. Just one word. Oracle.

The plot is intricate (I had to keep reminding myself of the different abbreviations for the various agencies – not so easy to flick back and forth on a Kindle)), fast paced and rang alarm bells for me as the reader for just how much fact there could be in this. With the increasing number of terrorist attacks that we see in the real world, it is hard to dismiss the criminal elements as merely fiction. But it kept me on the edge of my seat and I found it very difficult to put the book down, devouring it in a couple of days. I was delighted to see the opening for next in the series pop up on my Kindle and it is on my Christmas list.

If you love contemporary, investigative plots with great three-dimensional characters, you will enjoy this. Five stars from me!

Publisher: Author & Sister (2017)

Available from Amazon here:

Author Biography:

Anna Claire Everward

A. Claire Everward is a suspense author with a love of knowledge and a lively imagination that made writing the natural thing for her to do. Claire is also the author of The First, and is currently working on her next book in the Oracle series with the help of her two hyperactive cats and a laptop named Stanley.A1FEpiy0jnL._SY200_

Claire spent years away from home getting a master’s degree in aerospace engineering, with a risk management specialty. During that time, she lived in the university, surrounded by forested hills and too much silence, so to keep away the boredom she also took on an MBA, and now she feels ridiculously over-educated.

She tried to work in her field, she really did, and even put her education to good use in the finance field. But eventually her love for writing took over, and she decided to leave it all and move to the world of her imagination. Her characters had a lot to do with that—they had lived in her mind, waiting patiently for her to be ready, for too long, they felt, and so they finally decided enough is enough and took over. And Claire didn’t put up that much of a resistance. She has always loved to read, but writing, that’s a whole new world she soon knew she could never give up.

Link with Claire on social media:

Amazon author:











Book Blog Tour & Review: “When The Stars Come Out” by Laura Trentham


Review Tour


Disclaimer: I was fortunate to be given an advance copy of this book by the author and publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Blog Tour – for the latest in Laura Trentham’s Cottonbloom series 

I wonder if you remember my previous review of Laura Trentham’s book Leave The Night On in which we met the Abbott brothers?  Well this new contemporary romance in her Cottonbloom series follows the brothers again, focusing particularly on Jackson, twin of Wyatt who we met before.  The Abbott garage is in trouble, not least because eldest brother Ford has announced that he plans to sell his share and he has now disappeared.  The remaining three, Jackson, Wyatt and Mack have now idea where he is and no idea who the mystery buyer could be.

Pin for later

Book review - Stars


Still employed at the garage is mechanic Willa, quietly and diligently working under the bonnets of cars and trucks, but hugging a multitude of secrets about her life and loves to her heart.  She doesn’t think that anyone notices her, with her home cut hair, charity shop clothes and beat up old car – and this is how she wants it.  She certainly doesn’t want Jackson to know how she feels about him.  But Willa hasn’t factored in that the Abbott boys are a close-knit family and do notice when someone they care about is in need.  Wyatt has had a few rough edges knocked off him since falling for Sutton Mize (see my last review!), and Mack has always looked out for Willa.  But it is Jackson who has started to notice Willa as a living and breathing woman, rather than just a mechanic and he wonders why she is living in a cold, damp caravan, driving a clapped out old car and failing to eat properly.  Don’t they pay her enough and why does she want cash only?

“I’ll have a pork plate and sweet tea to go.” Willa did a mental calculation for tax and
pulled out two fives. More than she should spend, but her stomach vetoed any protest. Now not only was she saving to fix her car, but she needed a cushion. If she had to move, money was a necessity. Any decent place required a deposit for rent. Not to mention utilities. And how long would it take her to find another job that didn’t require her Social Security number or real name? The thought made her stomach hurt from something other than hunger.
“Make that two for here, Rufus, and I’m buying.”
Willa spun around. Jackson Abbott’s chest filled her vision. The animal like noises her stomach was making must have drowned out his approach.
“Sure thing, Jackson.” Rufus favored them with a grin and turned to dole out barbeque, baked beans, and slaw. She tucked her hair behind her ear, feeling intensely vulnerable without her steel-toed work boots, coveralls, and ball cap. Her flip-flops, worn-out jeans with a rip at one knee, and a black T-shirt with the emblem of a band she’d never listened to were from the thrift shop down
the street.
“You don’t have to pay.” When she found her voice, it was breathy.
“I want to.” His words were low and rumbly and sexy, and she resisted the urge to lay her cheek against his chest, desperate to have someone, anyone, to lean on, even for a moment. Obviously, hunger was impeding her mental faculties.
In the two years she’d lived in Cottonbloom, she’d never run into Jackson outside of the garage. Her forays to secretly watch him race didn’t count since he’d never noticed her. The only place she was a regular was at the library, because it offered free Internet and entertainment—two things she couldn’t afford to waste money on.
Her mental faculties slipped further away as she allowed her gaze to wander over his shoulders before rising. He’d showered, his damp hair darker than its usual rich brown, but hadn’t shaved, his stubble even more pronounced from the afternoon. The scent of soap and clean laundry was mouthwatering in a different way than the barbeque was. The butterflies in her stomach did a slow bump and grind. God, she was hungry for so many things.

So begins the romance that forms the bedrock of the story, but it is by no means plain sailing.  Willa is a determined young lady who trusts no one and is living a life on the run – but what or whom is she running from? Her back-story winds through the book allowing us to watch a veneer of self-preservation to be chipped away as her confidence in those around her begins to grow.  She allows herself to form an attachment to a stray dog and this is when her true nature starts to shine through and little by little we learn just what Willa is running from and how much of this is herself.


Jackson has his own demons to tackle, in the form of his absent brother and his estranged mother, who abandoned the family as children.  But we see him mellow as his feelings for Willa deepen and he realises that he can have what he sees his twin enjoying – that is a loving relationship.

This would not be a good contemporary romance if there were not some glamour and an opportunity for the hero to be dazzled by the hidden beauties of his new love.  Ms Trentham does not fail us, and with the help and friendship of Sutton, Willa allows herself to once again feel feminine and become the lovely young woman that is hiding beneath her greasy overalls.

not a car - Social Media

I think that if you enjoy a good romance, with some intrigue and some great characters then you will enjoy When The Stars Come Out.  It can be read as a stand-alone book, but I personally enjoy a series that is set around a town and which interlinks characters and plots from book to book – like large chapters of an overall novel.  This is an easy to read, light story that will brighten these cold, wet months at the start of the new year.  I am now looking forward to the next instalment – surely, we need a tale about the other Abbott brother, Mack! Please, Laura Trentham!!  Four stars from me.

Published: January 30th 2018 by St Martin’s Paperbacks

Book Links:


Amz: Amazon
BN: Barnes & Noble
iBooks: ibooks
Kobo: Kobo
GooglePlay: GooglePlay

Author biography:

An award-winning author, Laura Trentham was born and raised in a small town in
Tennessee. Although, she loved English and reading in high school, she was convinced an
English degree equated to starvation. She chose the next most logical major—Chemical
Engineering—and worked in a hard hat and steel toed boots for several years.
She writes sexy, small town contemporaries and smoking hot Regency historicals. KISS
ME THAT WAY, Cottonbloom Book 1, won the Stiletto Contest for Best Long Contemporary and finaled in the National Readers Choice Award. THEN HE KISSED ME, Cottonbloom Book 2, was named an Amazon Best Romance of 2016 and was a finalist for the National Excellence for Romance Fiction. TILL I KISSED YOU, Cottonbloom Book 3, is a finalist in the Maggie contest. LEAVE THE NIGHT ON, the latest Cottonbloom book, was named an iBooks Best Book of the Month and a Recommended Read from NPR.

When not lost in a cozy Southern town or Regency England, she’s shuttling kids to
soccer, helping with homework, and avoiding the Mt. Everest-sized pile of laundry that is almost as big as the to-be- read pile of books on her nightstand.

Link with Laura on Social Media:

Or join my reader group:
Sign up for my newsletter:
Follow me on Bookbub for new release or sale announcements:


“Clipped Wings – Hear Some Stories of Survival” Book Review

Clipped Wings – Hear Some Stories of Survival by Jennifer Gilmour

I was fortunate to be a given a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.


“Our wings were clipped, our restrictions were made, our boundaries were tested but now we are free, aren’t we?

We look above in the sky at the birds and hope to be free.  But the birds make their nests in the trees high above, to protect themselves from predators.  Free birds must keep looking over their shoulders the same way all of us have to.”

As we reflect upon another year and celebrate the beginning of a new one, I want to share a slightly different book review with you.


Jennifer Gilmour is a young mum, entrepreneur, wife and author.  Her first novel “Isolation Junction” was published in 2016 and during the course of her research and publicity surrounding the novel, she reached out and received accounts from people identifying with the novel and wanting to share their experiences.  The subject matter of the novel, Jennifer’s own story and the accounts shared with her – domestic abuse.  In Clipped Wings, Jennifer shares her own story and those of various victims of domestic abuse – all who have become survivors and share their stories in their own words.



I find that I can’t review this book as I would any other, and I must tell you that I haven’t read the novel Isolation Junction”.  However, this is no reason to prevent anyone from reading this enlightening and deeply moving book.  Ms Gilmour introduces the book and then tells her own story of domestic abuse, before relaying the stories of other people.  Her writing is such that I was able to identify with each individual from Jennifer to Jodi to Michael to Wanda (25 in total) and hear their voices reaching out from the paper telling their own tales.  I believe that like many things in life, there may be a stereotypical public perception of domestic abuse – how the abuser and the abused “look”.



These accounts will change that for you – I learnt so much.   Not every abusive relationship is borne out of immediate control and violence – some begin with tenderness or passion.  Not every abuser is a man – whilst still a taboo, the abused man is now recognised but often reviled by society if his abuser is a woman.  But read Michael’s story and you will see that relationships are not black and white, but revolve around a series of emotions that vary in shades of grey.  Domestic abuse is not always between a couple, as Lauren recounts with a story of abuse starting at the age of 10 from a close male relative.  One experience that I had as a hospice nurse was the realisation that a 23 year old female patient had been abused by her brother – a drug addict and alcoholic.  My patient was now dying, but her young daughter was in the care of this man – the child’s uncle.  The little girl already had bruises but when cigarette burns started to appear on her arms, we knew that we had to do something – but this was probably one of the hardest decisions as the child’s mother lay dying and she was taken from her one relative.  I have never forgotten.

This is not an easy read and at times is emotionally draining.  But I kept reminding myself that this is nothing compared to the actual experiences of those involved, and how it must have felt to re-live every moment to commit these experiences to paper.  The majority of us have never experienced this abuse, but 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.  I do wonder if the men and women currently in abusive relationships will be the ones who can be reached with this book; but there can be no doubt that the more people who can gain some insight and maybe understanding into a victim’s perspective, the easier it becomes to discuss and for victims to understand that what they are going through, physically and emotionally, is not acceptable.

A long review – no apology for such an important topic.  I have bought the novel and intend to share this also.  Please put aside any preconceived ideas, accept the challenge of this read, and help to spread the message within it.  I would probably never have read this normally, but I cannot recommend it enough and suggest a box of tissues to go with it.

Thanks to Jennifer Gilmour and every participant. All images from Ms Gilmour’s site or Google images.


Clipped Wings Pinterest

Review of a great contemporary novel! “All We Have Lost” by Aimee Alexander

Fab stocking filler


Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this contemporary novel by The Book Club on Facebook & the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All views are my own. This review contains an affiliate link.

I am a huge fan of classic novels, particularly those with strong female leads, but I also have an enormous soft spot for contemporary fiction.  “All We Have Lost” features business woman, wife and mother Kim who really does seem to have it all.  She runs a successful PR agency, is married to the good looking Ian – the love of her life, has two lovely young children, a great nanny to care for them and supportive family and friends.  Kim knows her own mind, has life mapped out and is certain where she is headed.  Or is she?

For one day Kim wakes up and realises that this isn’t the road she wants to be on at all.  She rarely sees her children, her home is virtually run by another woman and her husband sees more of the children than he does her.  Add to this her parents’ “perfect marriage” that Kim has placed on a pedestal since her father’s death, and suddenly Kim feels like she is in fact failing.  She decides to wind the business down, let the nanny go and be an author who happens to be a stay at home mum.  Her husband is on trial for a new job, she has always aspired to writing like her best friend Sarah and she is certain that she can work this around the needs of 2 preschool children.  How hard could it be?

Pin for later:

All We Have Lost

I think that any parent – particularly the mums out there – will be able to relate to this, working or stay at home!  Of course Kim has no idea just how demanding caring for young children can be.  A 2 year old just will not stick to your carefully constructed time table allowing mum time to write her novel whilst the tot naps.  Add in cooking, housework and a bit of writer’s block into the mix and suddenly the grass isn’t greener on the other side.  I really enjoyed the way that Aimee Alexander showed Kim’s gradual decline from a business woman in control, to a woman who was “letting herself go” and suddenly felt powerless to take back that control.  How many of us can empathise with the gradual weight gain (gym, who has time to visit the gym with young children?), the lack of regular personal grooming time (feel grateful if your hair sees the backside of a brush daily, let alone regular visits for a blow dry at the salon) and the overwhelming tiredness that strikes before hubby even gets home (from his fourth late night of the week).  But it should be ok if only Kim can start writing – and yet even this is not the easy task that she has imagined.

The author shows just how quickly and easily relationships can change – in Kim’s situation it is not just her marital relationship, but also that with her mother and her friends too.  Failure to communicate leads to misunderstandings, jumping to the wrong conclusions, reading signals incorrectly and great hurt.  At times I found myself becoming so frustrated with Kim and Ian, wanting to shout at them to stand still, take a breath and look what is happening.  Kim seems to become completely hung up on her world at home, forgetting that the very things that she complains about in Ian in his new job were her not so long ago.  Ian is so intent on making up for the fact that he is suddenly the main breadwinner and also feels he has to prove himself in his new job, that he becomes unable to communicate his concerns to a wife who no longer seems to have time for him. Aghhhh – I can see your relationship falling apart and yet neither of you can.  It is a testament to Ms Alexander’s writing that I could also feel Kim’s envy for her friend Sarah’s life as an author, yet also hear the alarm bells ringing loudly to warn Kim that her decisions were having awful consequences and yet she didn’t seem to see it.  Misunderstandings and knee jerk reactions have such devastating effects for all the people that Kim holds dear – including the children.

There are no schmaltzy happy endings for every character here.  This is real life and certain actions cannot be undone or forgiven.  I admire the additional change in the relationship between Kim and her mother – how a mother’s desire to protect her children can have devastating consequences if lies are uncovered, even years later.  I laughed and I cried with the characters in this book and I found them to be believable.  The visit to a single friend’s modern flat with 2 young children for a long weekend did make me smile – you will understand when you read it! The author even examines that age old chestnut – can a man and a woman ever be just good friends?

In my opinion an enjoyable contemporary novel about real life relationships that gets 4 stars!


About the Author:


Aimee Alexander is the pen name of best selling author Denise Deegan who writes contemporary family dramas about ordinary people who become extraordinary in crisis. Her novels have been published by Penguin, Random House and Hachette.

Aimee lives in Dublin with her family where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking and her novels being made into movies. She has a Masters in Public Relations and has been a college lecturer, nurse, china restorer, pharmaceutical sales rep, public relations executive and entrepreneur. (taken from Author’s Amazon page)

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (20 Dec. 2015)

Buy the novel on Amazon by clicking here:

Time for a Book Review: “Tabula Rasa” by Gordon Bickerstaff #Thriller

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by The Book Club on Facebook and the author in return for a fair and honest review. All views are my own. Post contains affiliate links.

This is the fifth book in The Lambeth Group thriller aka Gavin Shawlens series – I must be honest that when I dived into Tabula Rasa I had not read the previous books and had no knowledge of the main characters. So the first thing to tell you is that this can be read as a standalone book.


The thriller launches straight into the territory of the underworld and secret agents, and an introduction for new readers, or a reunion for old to Zoe Tampsin – A Special Forces trained agent now working for The Lambeth Group. There is a description of extreme sexual violence at the outset, but don’t be put off as this is important in setting the story up. Her mission is to investigate the death of a government scientist and the mysterious “abduction” and guardianship of his son by a family of aristocrats, the Silsdens. This is where Zoe’s partner from previous cases, scientist Gavin Shawlens comes in to play as he is a personal friend of Lord Silsden’s son. Odd couple Zoe and Gavin go undercover as an engaged couple to try to unearth the secrets of the Silsden family business but someone wants to stop them at every turn. The mysterious phrase Tabula Rasa is brought to their attention – can Gavin’s knowledge of the world of science help them to understand what it means?

Pin for later:

WOW! (1).png


I don’t intend to give any spoilers away here. But I will tell you is that this plot moves in so many directions and has twists and turns that are so unexpected that I defy you to be able to put it down! I hadn’t met Zoe Tampsin before, and whilst the books seem to be labelled the Gavin Shawlens thrillers, for me Zoe is the stand out character. Gordon Bickerstaff has created a strong woman with a great sense of self-worth, duty and loyalty. She has grown up in the military with a serving father and brother, has served an exemplary career herself and is a natural leader. I love the way that she can slip so easily into and out of character, doing whatever needs to be done, fooling even those who know her, and yet her love and loyalty for her family and closest comrades is uncompromising. Her strength of character is tested to the extreme both mentally and physically in this book – she is the ultimate survivor and a wonderful female protagonist.
Based on this book alone I felt that I didn’t get to know Gavin Shawlens particularly well and he at times feels the weak link when put alongside Zoe and her team. It feels that Mr Bickerstaff is asking us to question the need for Shawlens and whether he can be relied upon to remember which “side” he is working with. The attention to detail of the science is superb, and I really like the fact that not everything goes to plan and the characters have to think on their feet, make life changing instant decisions and show their vulnerability. This feels like real life, if in a world very removed to my own!

I could not put this book down and felt exhausted when I did reach the end. For me there were so many things that I just did not see coming – the sign of a great thriller, surely? My first thought on completing the book – “WOW!”. My second…..well, let’s just say it involved a certain online book store and I now have the first 4 books sitting on my Kindle too – I loved it that much!

Five stars from me!

Available from Amazon

Other titles in the Lambeth Group thriller series:

Deadly Secrets: The Truth will out…

Everything To Lose: The Chase is on…

Black Fox: Run For Your Life…

Toxic Minds: The Damage is Done

About the Author: biography from Amazon page

I was born and raised in Glasgow but spent my student years in Edinburgh. On summer vacations, I learned plumbing, garden maintenance, and I cut the grass in the Meadows. If I ran the lawnmower over your toes – sorry.GFB pic

I learned some biochemistry and taught it for a while before I retired to write fiction. I like DIY and I do some aspects of DIY moderately well and other aspects not so well. I live with my wife in Scotland where corrupt academics, mystery, murder and intrigue exists mostly in my mind.

I write the Gavin Shawlens series of thrillers: Deadly Secrets, Everything To Lose, The Black Fox, Toxic Minds and Tabula Rasa. They feature special investigators Zoe and Gavin. More will come in due course.

I enjoy walking in the hills, 60s & 70s music, reading and travel.


Book Review Eva Jordan’s new novel “All the Colours in Between”

I was fortunate to be given an ARC via The Book Club on Facebook in return for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

 Brilliant blog posts on

I must be honest with you.  When I asked to review this book by author Eva Jordan I had not read the first book in the series, “183 Times A Year”, so my first stop was to do just that.  I read the books back to back so it is possible I may muddle some events, BUT the first thing that I would recommend is that you do read the first novel before embarking on “All the Colours In Between” for both maximum background and enjoyment.  I will try my best not to give any spoilers for the second book!

images (1)

The modern blended, extended family.  Marriage, divorce, teenagers, love, deceit, 3 generations, ex partners, friends, illness, flying the nest – this list is the tip of the iceberg of the life topics to be found in “All the Colours In Between”.  Lizzie is the mum, step mum, lover, daughter, ex-wife, friend and mentor driving the story of her family and the individual members life journeys.  She lives with her daughter, step daughter and son – all young adults by this book – and her partner Simon.  Her parents play a huge role in the family, along with her brother and his family and not forgetting the rollercoaster that is best friend Ruby.  The relationship with her ex, the father of Cassie and Connor, is strained at best.  But at this point Lizzie has become an author against all the odds – selling real books and featuring in the best sellers list – whilst in the first book she dreamed of this whilst working with books as a librarian.images (2)

In this book Lizzie’s daughters Cassie and Maisie have grown up, ditched their teen disguises, spread their wings and left home. Her son Connor has evolved from a lovely pre-teen into a grunting, hoody wearing, sullen sixteen year old.  I normally write a bit more about the plot in my reviews, but I really don’t want to give too much away.  Reading both of Eva Jordan’s novels gave me the same feeling that I had when I first saw the BBC comedy Outnumbered.  I was certain that someone had planted cameras in my household!  Of course as mum I identify with Lizzie – so much.  When she describes her conversations with her children and her own parents, I was shouting “Yes!”  The feelings of exasperation trying to get through to a teenage boy who looks like a man, is the size of a man, sounds like a man, and thinks he is a man yet is really a man boy – these could have been penned by yours truly!  The descriptions of her forays onto Social Media mirrored my own – my young adult kids shake their heads and ask themselves why they introduced me to it!

But Ms Jordan shakes up the commentary by writing different chapters with the voices of different family members.  In the first book she writes as Lizzie and Cassie for the majority of the time, and in this book Connor features to a greater extent too.  The Cassie of “All the Colours In Between” is older, slightly wiser, but still hilarious in her ability to use completely the wrong phrase or to misunderstand a saying.  Whilst her story is extremely dark in places, her love for her family shines through from start to finish.  Her description of a particularly stressful car journey with Maisy toward the end of the book is just hilarious – no spoilers, so no more!  Connor is that teen who feels misunderstood by all adults, is just experiencing sexual attractions, the pull of alcohol, spliffs and parties, yet is still damaged from the rejection by his father as a young child.  Maisy has moved across the world as true love struck, but when life took an unexpected turn (including a meeting with biological mum) it is her family who she returns to.Book Review - All the Colours In Between

I really could write an essay about this book, but needless to say I LOVED IT!  There is no sugar coating life here – relationships fail, family life is hard work to maintain, good things happen and shit happens.  Eva Jordan gives us it all in a way that had me laughing out loud one minute – particularly with Salocin, the grandfather – and then crying the next.  But no matter what life throws at them, this family will continue to grow and love each other….with some hiccoughs along the way. I cannot wait for the next instalment…..please, Eva Jordan!

Five golden stars from me.


#Blog Tour – How I Motivated Myself to Succeed by Shelley Wilson

Dream It, Live It, Become It

Disclaimer: I was fortunate to be given an ARC by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Blog Tour Banner for Shelley Wilson HIMMTS

I first met Shelley Wilson through the blogger community online and was soon following her on Twitter and her blog.  We also belong to a great Facebook group of bloggers who support and promote each other.  Now I must be honest and tell you that I haven’t read Shelley’s first book – yet – “How I Changed My Life in a Year”, but I do know that it was the precursor to this book and that she does refer to it throughout as one book describes the other.  So to put it simply we have “How I motivated myself to Succeed” in my challenge of “How I Changed My Life in a Year”.

Normally I would give a self-help book a wide berth, but I was intrigued by the concept of “How I Motivated Myself to Succeed” and wondered how it could apply to me.  My regular readers will know that my life has changed drastically due to health issues, and as a result I have started to write and connect with the chronic illness community.  I wondered if Shelley’s approach to motivation and success could be translated to something positive for those who are facing huge and often negative health issues.Motivation

This book is easy to read.  There are no difficult words, trendy psychobabble phrases or deep psychological discussions to dissect.  It really does do what it says on the tin – that is to describe Shelley’s personal journey to motivate herself to succeed.  I love the fact that she describes, in brutally honest detail, every little factor affecting her setting and then achieving her goals.  She describes how she learns – as a visual learner – and how preparing vision boards helps her to figure out what it is she wants to achieve.  But Shelley is not prescriptive in her approach and suggests that the reader may find other tools more helpful – she recognises that one size does not fit all.

Many of you will already be familiar with the use of acronyms in the workplace to motivate individuals, or within team building exercises or at a strategic planning level.  Shelley incorporates several acronyms – such as SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) DAD(Decision Action Determination) – along the way but does so in a very familiar and easy format that explains exactly how they can be used by ordinary people in day to day life.  I think that this is what I like most about Shelley’s book and her style of writing – she explains exactly how she personally set goals, undertook tasks and arranged her life to achieve her goals.  Now these goals may have included a mammoth one of writing a book, but equally she includes writing a meal plan for her family and encouraging her teens to tick of items on the household task list!

Shelley is a single mum who has run a holistic health business, but has also experienced her own major health problems which forced her to close her business.  I felt immediately drawn to this normal woman, living an ordinary life and I can identify with her.  Her descriptions of home and the teens made me laugh out loud – this lady knows how I live. If I can recognise myself and my friends in this writer, then I can definitely identify with her writing and her suggestions.

As someone who has been disabled with health problems, I accept that I am not going to set a goal to storm the workplace and become a tycoon as my body physically will not allow this.  But Shelley’s frank discussion about organisation, self-care and changing habits can be easily utilised by someone like me to both make the best of my situation, and to realise that I can still achieve something and flourish.  I love her section on decluttering – this covers both mind, surroundings (in my case home) and social media.  She writes about decluttering your Facebook & Twitter….it would never have occurred to me.

Whilst Shelley has written parts of this book with the twelve months from her first book in mind, and thus sets challenges across the year, she stresses, and I believe, that it is possible to use some of the tools over a shorter timescale or indeed for the longer term.  We talk about “pacing” in the chronic illness community and being “short on spoons”, and the second half of this book has so many good suggestions to plan and incorporate these needs with the goal to a success beyond our illness/limitations.  This might be writing a blog, visiting a friend or running an on line shop.

So before my review for this Blog Tour turns into a book, my conclusions!  If you are interested in reading a down to earth, personal experience of motivation and goal setting in order to succeed and achieve – then this is the book for you.  Nothing fancy, no psychobabble, pure sensible advice that we ordinary folk can use to flourish.

A fantastic four stars – please read Shelley’s guest post below!

Book review & blog tour


Guest Post From the Author, Shelley Wilson (@ShelleyWilson72) #BlogTour

 When my wonderful host, Claire, offered a spot on her blog for my book tour I was delighted. I’m ashamed to say that after writing a series of guest posts (seventeen in total!) my typing fingers are beginning to look like gnarled claws! Before they give out on my completely I wanted to take this opportunity to find just the right excerpt from my new release for Claire’s audience. I hope you like it.


Taken from How I Motivated Myself to Succeed:

When I began running my Motivate Me workshops, I used to leave a handout on all the chairs for the attendees to take away with them. It was my interpretation of motivation. I’d like to share this with you in the hope it resonates with what you are planning for yourself.

M = Mindfulness

O = Optimism

T = Trusting in the Process

I = Inner Wisdom

V = Validation

A = Activating Your Dreams

T = Thinking Outside the Box

E = Empowering Yourself


M is for being mindful and learning to be in the now. Slowing down and becoming aware of what your mind/body is telling you enables you to discover new opportunities and experiences. Try a five-minute meditation every morning or night.

O is for optimism. Start to look at your life through the eyes of a child, with innocence. See the simple things that can make a profound difference to your day/week/month, such as a smile, holding a door open, or paying someone a compliment. All these acts add to our well of optimism.

T is for trust. I’m not a life coach or a neuroscientist; I’m a single mum who turned her life around when she hit rock bottom. I had to trust that the lessons I’d learned were there for a reason. I believed that the universe could deliver, and more importantly, I began to trust myself that I could survive, make changes, and be the person I wanted to be.

I is for inner wisdom. You have the ability to change bad habits, to find happiness, and to love who you are. Sometimes you may forget that your inner wisdom exists. It’s always there, just beneath the surface, and it’s ready to provide you with the answers you long for. Using oracle cards can be the perfect way to tap into your inner wisdom.

V is for validation. For every issue you face, or problem you think you can’t handle, there are a hundred other women/men who have been through this and have come out at the other end. You can use their wisdom and experiences as a case study. Let those who have walked this path before you be a mentor, or join a support network, or social networking group. These are all ways to validate that you can get through anything. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You are not alone.

A is for activating your dreams. These are the action points you take to make things happen. By taking that first step, you begin a chain reaction that pulls your dream towards you and activates those wishes into becoming a reality. Without this stage you become stuck.

T is for thinking outside the box. Learning to change the way you think can have a profound impact on your life. When you are worried about an issue, stop for a moment and put yourself in the shoes of someone you admire, a strong person who never seems to be fazed by anything – what would they do? Come at your problems and fears from an alternative direction.

E is for empowerment. In today’s society, you have the opportunity to sign up to be a part of powerful social communities both online and in real life. A group of friends with similar interests and beliefs can be invaluable. At home, you may be part of a networking group or a slimming club; perhaps you’re a member of the Women’s Institute, a book club, or a regular coffee morning event. All of these groups empower you. Being around like-minded people, meeting new friends, and sharing that positive energy will feed your motivation to succeed, and will grow your desire to be the best you can be.

If we think about our resolutions, goals, or projects as one big jigsaw, then by collecting all the pieces and slotting them together we achieve success.

This was the final spot on my blog tour for How I Motivated Myself to Succeed, available now in paperback and eBook. Huge thanks to Claire, for allowing me to invade her beautiful blog and share the book love. I hope you enjoyed a brief glimpse into my book world.


If you would like to read more then take a look at her new release, How I Motivated Myself to Succeed, out now in paperback and eBook, and packed full of information on self-care, freeing yourself from fear, organising your life, and much more.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Find out more about Shelley on her author blog or via her personal development blog


She is also on Twitter,  Facebook and Instagram


Author Bio:

SONY DSCShelley is a multi-genre author of non-fiction self-help and young adult fantasy fiction. Her latest release, How I Motivated Myself to Succeed is being dubbed as the sequel-that’s-not-a-sequel to her bestselling book, How I Changed My Life in a Year. She writes a personal development blog ( as well as an author blog ( where she shares book reviews, author interviews, and random musings about writing. Shelley was thrilled to win the Most Inspirational Blogger Award at the Bloggers Bash in 2016, and to scoop second place in the same category in 2017. She is a single mum to three teenagers and a black cat, loves pizza, vampires, and The Walking Dead, and has a slight obsession with list writing.


Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

Another week, time for another Magic Monday!  The events in our household really pale into insignificance compared to the natural disasters taking over so many parts of America at the moment.  The majority of us, thankfully, will never have to encounter the devastation that these natural phenomena wreak, but I want to send support and good wishes to all our American blogging pals who are living through this.  There is an additional blog post this week that my pal Cheryl at Chronic Mom blog wrote last week about what no one tells you about surviving a natural disaster with chronic illness – but I think that there are  probably aspects that apply to everyone!



We had an unexpected trip over the weekend – hence no blog post – and as it was a long trip for this chronic bird to make in a day, we paid an impromptu visit to old friends to beg a bed for the night.  Panic not other old friends, we gave them 24 hours notice!!  We haven’t seen each other for about 5 years, yet we have known each other for nearly 30 years – we “girls” did our nurse training together and the blokes have always been hifi and gadget buddies. Not forgetting that this fellow hifi nut was hubby’s best man 25 years ago!  With just a few precious friendships the years roll away and it is possible to appreciate the long and deep connections that you have with each other. As two couples, we have had our fair share of traumas over the past couple of years – we decided we should form the “Happy Pill” brigade as we must have shares in antidepressant companies between us – but we have survived and it is testament to our friendship that we can come together as if it was yesterday!  How many people in your life can you call on and truly rely upon to be there for you no matter what?  Quick shout out here for our fab friends’ facebook page – check it out (chocolate brownies to die for) Keeley House Bakery 




I have found some great blog reads for you this week including  becoming a real mermaid (just read it!), a fab book review, and using your imagination when putting pen to paper.  There is also a piece about the scandal currently coming to light about the use of mesh implants in surgical procedures.  So grab a cuppa, put your feet up and enjoy some fabulous writing in these inspiring blog posts!


Please share this post and make a blogger’s day with a like, share, pin or comment….it makes it all worthwhile.

Have a great week!

Claire x