Wednesday, 31 October 2018

New Release Spotlight and Extract: The Step-Sister by Jenny O'Brien

The Step-sister by Jenny O'Brien

When a stranger leaves step-sisters, Victoria and Ness, a half-share in a house in Holland, they think it must be a mistake.

But there's no mistake when Ness goes missing. 
Desperate for the truth, Victoria heads to Holland to find out what happened to her. Has she, as her texts show, embarked on a whirlwind romance? Has someone abducted her or even worse?

But there’s someone watching, and that person wants her dead. 

Can Victoria find out the truth before it’s too late? 

Arriving in Holland with a fractious dog that’s been penned up in a cage for the last hour isn’t the best of ways to arrive in a new country. Pet passports might be a great idea but currently I wish I’d never heard of them. After clearing Customs, I have no time to take in the strange sights. I’m dragged out of the airport, my rucksack slung across my shoulder, Nigel pulling me towards the nearest tree. 
I don’t know all that much about the country outside of a couple of school projects. In fact, I’m ashamed to admit that my knowledge of Holland can be summed up in three words. Bicycles, tulips and windmills.  But arriving in the beautiful, flower-festooned Delft, I quickly have to add a whole host of adjectives to my limited knowledge like stunning, breath-taking, quaint and unexpected. Everywhere the tall, narrow buildings are dripping with flowers from an assortment of window-boxes. There are even flowers emblazoning the railings that mark the canal edges. And bicycles. So many bicycles. There are bicycles everywhere and with an assortment of riders.
Nigel mutters to himself but I ignore the grumbles. I’m captivated by the old buildings casting their shadows across the still waterways. I’d never thought to come to Holland. Now I’m annoyed at what I’ve been missing out on all this time.  
The taxi negotiates a bridge before finally pulling up outside a tall, narrow house. I don’t know what to expect but any preconceived ideas are stripped back by the first sight of our inheritance.
 The house is in a stream of other similar structures; all tall, narrow and bordering the canal. But our house, the middle one, holds a hint of neglect under its red brick exterior. Is it the lack of flowers in its derelict window boxes? Or the faded-to-grey paintwork edging the windows? Or is it the fact that all the other properties have the appearance of well-kept and well-loved homes and this one just seems a little tired?
My eyes flash from the taxi meter and back to the house. I can do this, I’ve done a lot worse. It’s only a house, a house that I’m going to put on the market. I shove my fears back where they belong and concentrate on trying to count out the unfamiliar currency while the cab driver unloads my rucksack and dog basket onto the pavement next to Nigel.

 Amazon UK      Amazon US     Amazon DE 

Jenny O'Brien was born in Ireland and, after a brief sojourn in Wales, now resides in Guernsey.
She's an avid reader and book reviewer for NetGalley in addition to being a RoNA judge.
She writes for both children and adults with a new book coming out every six months or so. She's also an avid collector of cats, broken laptops, dust and happy endings - two of which you'll always find in her books.

In her spare time she can be found frowning at her wonky cakes and even wonkier breads. You'll be pleased to note she won't be entering Bake-Off.

Readers can find out more about Jenny from her blog:

Giveaway - 1st Prize Win an e copy of The Stepsister and crystal, tulip slider necklace , 2 x 2nd Prize – an e-copy of The Stepsister (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Release Day Halloween Spotlight & Review: Do Bugs Wear Shoes by Addie Broussard and Anthony Puttee

Do Bugs Wear Shoes? By Addie Broussard & Anthony Puttee

A colorful, fun-filled book packed with answers to all your silliest bug questions! 
Learn what happens when a bug goes to space, to school, and to the gym. Find out if bugs have feelings like people do. Discover robot bugs, dancing bugs, bugs that poop and so much more!
Filled with illustrations, photographs and interactive videos, Do Bugs Wear Shoes will have kids laughing and learning as they discover awe-inspiring facts about the insect world. This beautifully designed book is organized into colorful two-page spreads that each focus on a different question, making it easy and fun to read for children and big kids alike.

BOOK EXTRAS include videos and printable worksheets for extended learning. Great for educators and at-home learning.

PLUS, vote on the world’s most beautiful bug!

Recommended for ages 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and up.

Don't miss out on the chance to bug out!

I read this book along with my twelve-year-old, 7. klasse/7th-grade son. He's outside the target age for this book, but I was curious to see and hear his reaction. He is a reader and loves fact books and well as novels popular with his age group.

We read the e-book version of this book together using iPads, stopping after each page to have a discussion about not only the written information presented but also the photographs and illustrations too. Both of us laughing at some of the intriguing elements while cringing at some others. Yet the overall reading experience is enlightening and positive.

Divided into a new category each page, the facts are presented as small nuggets of information, backed up with an image to match. Whilst my son enjoyed the book, he particularly loved the facts based on the themes; Space and Antarctica because we live in a cool climate and he enjoys all things to do with the universe. For other children, the broad spectrum of themes running through the book will give even the most sceptical child a positive introduction to all things creepy crawly!

Overall, a wonderful, colourful and fun way for children to learn fascinating facts about insects with useful resources links for parents and teachers to use too. Both of us finished Do Bugs Wear Shoes? learning a fact or two more than we knew before and as a parent, any book which enriches our knowledge base is a winner.

***arc received courtesy of Two Umbrellas Media via Rachel's Random Resources***

Two Umbrellas is an educational publishing company that fuses education and storytelling. We offer books and activities to help parents and educators empower tomorrow’s leaders.
Our founders, Anthony Puttee and Addie Broussard, love to travel. Anthony’s favorite trip was to Antarctica and he has included some of his personal photos in this book. Addie has traveled solo around the world. While in Portugal, she encountered a unique insect, which inspired a children’s book called The Beedog, which was published in 2018. The idea for Do Bugs Wear Shoes came from a playful team meeting on a rooftop in Mexico.

Book resources at

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Release Day Spotlight: The Memory of You by Jamie Beck

Title: The Memory of You
Author: Jamie Beck
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Sanctuary Sound, Book 1

Meet Steffi Lockwood the Heroine from Jamie Beck’s The Memory of You
Thank you so much for inviting me to talk about Sanctuary Sound, I'm Steffi Lockwood. I admit, it is strange to be back in my sleepy hometown after spending so much of my youth wanting to escape to something bigger and, in my mind, better. But life in Hartford didn’t live up to my dreams. I wouldn’t say I left because I got attacked, but it was a wake-up call for all the ways that life wasn’t really making me happy. One night while watching my favorite HGTV show, I got inspired to quit my construction job and return home to start my own home renovation business with my childhood friend, Claire, a designer.

While I enjoy the quiet beauty of our small coastal Connecticut town and am happy to reconnect with Claire, my dad, and my brother Ben, my homecoming isn’t all roses and sunshine. Although my mom died long ago, I can’t help but miss her when I’m at my dad’s house on Lilac Lane. I’m also dealing with some kind of brain fog, most likely from the many concussions I’ve suffered, including the last one I got when attacked. Then there’s the rift between Claire and our other dear friend, Peyton. We used to call ourselves the Lilac Lane League and were the closest of friends. I really relied on that sisterhood (having only brothers, myself). Now I’m trying to remain neutral, but that’s not easy when I have to live and work with Claire, and she’s still brokenhearted because her ex ran off with Peyton. But the biggest regret that follows me around town has to do with memories of Ryan Quinn, my high school sweetheart—the greatest guy in the world that I was dumb enough to ghost in college.

Like I mentioned, when I was younger, I thought I wanted a bigger life. I didn’t want to be like my mom, who married and died young without ever seeing anything of the world. I wanted adventure, and to get that, I had to break free from town and from Ryan. Fast- forward to now, when his mom just hired me to convert her porch to a family room. I didn’t know she needed to expand her house because Ryan’s marriage imploded and he’s just returned from Boston with his young daughter, Emmy. Let me tell you, ours was not a pleasant reunion. I did my best to apologize and be polite, but there’s only so much shaming I can take before I push back. Still, I’m not the same young girl I was back then and I’d love a chance to make amends with Ryan. His daughter is a real spitfire who makes me laugh, too.

Whatever happens with Ryan, I know I can take care of myself and make a success of this business, especially once this stuff with my memory heals. If I can also help my friends repair their relationship and win Ryan’s forgiveness, too, I’m going to try. At the very least, I can be the kind of friend to his daughter, Emmy, that his mom was to me when I needed one. Wish me luck!

“I do understand, Emmy. Better than you think.” Steffi took the partially folded tarp and snapped its final fold on her own, then crouched to Emmy’s eye level. “I wasn’t much older than you when my mom died. I missed her so much it felt like the whole world turned into a dark black hole. Most days I wanted to jump right through that hole and follow her to heaven. I was so angry that she left me like that, even though she couldn’t help it. But I kept all those feelings tight inside, like a ball right here.” Steffi pointed at Emmy’s stomach. “Holding all that stuff inside hurt, but it made me feel strong. It seemed better than crying, for sure. Then a girl named Claire moved in across the street. She was very sweet and sporty, and I liked her right away. I was lucky because she was patient with my moods. And at the end of our street was another girl our age, Peyton. Peyton was popular, but it turns out she was kind of lonely, too, for other reasons. 

“Anyway, somehow that summer we all started spending time together. We gave ourselves a name—the Lilac Lane League—and we started a journal, because Peyton liked to write. We wrote down our dreams and the things that made us mad, and the things that made us laugh. Our crushes, first kisses, all that stuff. Little by little, that knot in my stomach unwound because my friends made me less lonely. That’s how I know the fastest way to feel better is to make a new friend.” 

“You’re my new friend.” Emmy’s voice sounded small and shaky. 

“I am your friend, but you also need a friend your age. I know you miss your old gang, but try to make one new friend here, too. I promise there are nice girls. I grew up here, after all, and I’m nice.” Steffi smiled and brushed some of Emmy’s curls off her face. 

Ryan decided to enter the conversation now, before Emmy broke down in front of Steffi or put her in a more difficult situation. He exited through the kitchen door and crossed the partially framed porch to get to the yard. “Hey there, ladies.” 

Emmy snapped her gaze at him, and he saw the panic in her eyes. His daughter’s fear of him speared his chest like a sword. He’d failed at his marriage, and his daughter was paying the highest price. He couldn’t fail her, too. He dropped to his knees and opened his arms. She flew into them in a heartbeat. 

He hugged her and swayed, like he’d done when she was so much younger. Steffi quietly retrieved her toolbox and took it to her van. 

“Emmy?” Ryan asked once they were alone. “I’m sorry this is such a hard time for you. I want to help you, but I don’t always have all the answers. I do know one thing, though. You can’t call people names and expect to make friends.” 

She cried against his chest, each tear falling like acid raining on his heart. “Oh, sweetie, it’ll be okay. We all make mistakes. The important thing is to apologize and try to learn from it.” 

“You always say that,” she muttered into his shirt. 

“Because it’s the truest thing I know.” He kissed her head. 

“So why can’t you and Mom apologize and make up?” 

He hadn’t expected that question, although maybe he should have. “It’s not that simple.” 

“You always say that, too.” 

If a conversation with her took this much work at this age, he could barely imagine dealing with her in her teens. “You’re all dirty from helping Steffi. How ’bout you go inside and clean up before dinner? I need to talk to Steffi for a second. Then I’ll come in, and we can figure out how to apologize to Katie Winston.” 

Emmy nodded while swiping her arm under her runny nose. “Okay.” 

She wandered into the house just as Steffi came back from the van to get the rest of her personal things. He stood to speak with her. “I heard part of what you said to Emmy.” 

“I know you don’t want me to speak for you, but I just—” 

“It’s okay. Thank you for making her feel like she can confide in you. I should’ve listened to you the other day.” He crossed his arms and blew out a long breath. “I’m in over my head doing this on my own.” 

“You’re not on your own. You’ve got your parents. But even if you were, I know you can do it. She loves you. She wants to make you happy and proud.” 

He nodded, although he knew he was screwing it all up. 

“Well, I’d better take off. Benny’s expecting me for another training run.” 

“You guys are disciplined. I haven’t had a chance to get in a good workout in three months. Pretty soon I’m going to be too soft.” He patted his gut. Granted, he was still pretty fit. He could probably keep up with Steffi for a few miles, anyhow. 

“I’m sure your mom would watch Emmy if you need to hit the gym or the mean streets of Sanctuary Sound.” She tipped her head, grinning. “My brother might even like some male company now and then. He gets sick of my singing.” 

Ryan laughed. “Well, you were good at a lot of things, but singing wasn’t one of them.” 

“You didn’t used to complain.” She hit his arm. 

He grew quiet for a second, remembering the many times he’d listened to her terrible rendition of Lifehouse’s “You and Me” in the car or on the patio. “No, I never did mind those private concerts.” 

The air between them turned sweet and thick with fond memories. Holding hands, soccer footwork challenges, the first time he’d copped a feel, and the light in her eyes when he had. The images almost made him want to take hold of her hand again; his heart beat with that hot desire like it had at seventeen. 

“Dad!” Emmy called from the door, breaking the spell. 

“You’d better go,” Steffi said with a wistful smile before she turned and walked back to her car. 

He watched her go and waited … waited … Just before she got to her van, she peeked over her shoulder at him again, and everything seemed a little bit brighter.

Steffi Lockwood has survived more than most. Recovering from an assault, she returns to her coastal Connecticut hometown to rebuild her life the best way she knows how: with her hands. But starting a remodeling business with one longtime friend puts her in the middle of a rift with another. Worse, being hired by her ex-boyfriend’s mother forces her to confront old regrets.

Public defender Ryan Quinn wasn’t shocked when his wife left him, but he was floored when she abandoned their daughter. With his finances up in the air, the newly single dad returns to his childhood home in Sanctuary Sound. The last person he expects, or wants, to see working on his family house is Steffi Lockwood—his first love who shattered his heart.

Although Steffi and Ryan are different people now, dormant feelings rekindle. But when Steffi’s secrets begins to surface, will it bring them together…or tear them apart for good?

National bestselling author Jamie Beck’s realistic and heartwarming stories have sold more than one million copies. She’s a 2017 Booksellers’ Best Award finalist, and critics at Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist have respectively called her work “smart,” “uplifting,” and “entertaining.” In addition to writing novels, she enjoys dancing around the kitchen while cooking as well as hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family. Fans can learn more about her on her website,, which includes a fun “Extras” page with photos, videos, and playlists. She also loves interacting with everyone on Facebook at

Monday, 29 October 2018

Spotlight & Review: Painting Blue Water by Leigh Fossan

Painting Blue Water by Leigh Fossan

Katherine Ross, a struggling artist-turned-successful-businesswoman, has a life many would envy. At only thirty-one years old, Katherine runs one of the top luxury real-estate firms in Manhattan, and she lives in a fabulous loft with her dreamy husband. That is, of course, until her marriage comes to a screeching halt, forcing Katherine to face the truths she’s been burying deep within her heart. She hasn’t been happy for a long time. And her life, while glamorous, is not the life she ever wanted.

Fighting through the fog of her confusion and pain, Katherine makes the daring, or possibly insane, choice to start over somewhere new. She leaves her business, her friends, and the city behind, while she ventures alone to the mountains in hopes of rediscovering her artistic roots in a place surrounded by beauty, peace, and quiet.
But life in Bluewater isn’t as simple as it may seem, and when her art career suddenly begins to take off in this unlikely setting, Katherine finds herself torn between two worlds. Does she pursue her lifelong dream and become the world-famous artist she always wanted to be? Or does she open her heart to the possibility of new dreams and a life she never imagined?

When Michael Kristoff told his wife, Katharine he was leaving her for someone else, it was a shock but not unexpected. With divorce papers following soon after her husband's departure, Katharine, a successful businesswoman decides it's time to re-evaluate her life in Manhattan after visiting her favourite place in New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Shocking her friend and business partner, she moves to Bluewater Lake, Colorado; a place she visited as a child. On arrival, she instantly feels at home, surrounded by warm, friendly town-folk. Her new surroundings inspire her to begin painting again and along with it brings a resounding new release of life...

Mesmerizing. The narrative comes alive when the author describes Bluewater Lake. It is no surprise to learn Ms Fossan is an accomplished artist too. Capturing her love of art in the words she uses to describe Katharine's new surroundings and the landscape which ignites her passion for painting. I enjoyed visualising the dramatic scenery as Katharine makes peace with her past and meets someone as creative as herself. The vibrancy of natures colours shining through to create a warm, loving atmosphere for anyone who lives in this beautiful haven or just passing through.

While the plot is predictable, the strength of the writing comes from the protagonists and the secondary characters the author created along with a wonderful small town cosiness where you can relate to the people who live there. The ensemble of residents in this breathtakingly pretty town compliment the tentative relationship between Katharine and Will.

The words within this novel mirror the beautiful cover and as a d├ębut novel, Painting Blue Water is a captivating and heartfelt story about the power of friendships and taking control over your destiny to live life by your own rules.

***arc generously received courtesy of the publisher via Rachel's Random Resources***

Painting Blue Water is the debut novel for Leigh Fossan. A creative soul at heart, Leigh grew up with a paintbrush in her hand, and went on to study the arts in Florence, Italy. While abroad, Leigh was one of the few recipients of the Coluccio Salutati Award for Creative Writing. Today, Leigh is a professional artist and her paintings are collected around the world. She lives in Colorado with her artist husband, and their young daughter, who wants to be a scientist.
You can see Leigh's paintings at

INSTAGRAM: @leighfossanauthor
TWITTER: @LeighFossan

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Book Blog Stop Spotlight & Extract: Love Punked by Nia Lucas

Love Punked by Nia Lucas

When her life is irrevocably altered by a post-Rave tryst on her mother's floral patio recliner, Erin Roberts’ long-standing relationship with Humiliation takes her down a path that's not so much 'less well trodden', more 'perilous descent down sheer cliffs'.
Armed with a fierce devotion to her best friend and the unrequited love for the boy she might have accidentally married at age seven, when Erin falls pregnant at sixteen, life veers off at a most unexpected tangent.
Her journey to adulthood is far from ordinary as Erin learns that protecting the hearts of those most precious to you isn't balm enough when your Love Punked heart is as sore as your freshly tattooed arse.
Whilst raising football prodigies and trying not to get stuck in lifts with Social Work clients who hate her, Erin discovers that sometimes you have to circumnavigate the globe to find the very thing that was there all along.

Extract Two:

I can’t stop smiling, I think I probably look a bit mental. Sat next to me, in the driver’s seat of this impossibly bad-boy VW Golf, is the fittest lad I have ever seen. Jamel. The lad I have just spent hours snogging at an illegal rave, royally pissing off the twat I actually arrived with and now I, rank, ugly, ginger Roberts, am being driven home by him at 2am on a Sunday morning. It’s very possible that I might die from the giddiness of it all. It’s like I am every kind of cool that teen magazines drone on about. Me.

Humiliation Palmer-Smart can bloody do one.

So Ginger Feist, we gonna hook up again, eh? You going next week, that big one in Oxford?”, in the darkness, I see him turn briefly to look at me and my heart races from his attention.

I have not got the first clue what he’s on about, “Er, I don’t know. I mean, Ryan used to be the one that took me to these and now he’s er, not. So I guess…...not”

It’s a certainty that Ryan Jones will be having nothing further to do with me. As Jamel snogged me into some sort of lip-chapped lock-jaw, I saw Ryan’s fury in the distance. I heard his shouts and insults and then, two hours later, I saw him shagging a girl against the wall of the cattle market as Jamel led me by the hand to his car to take me home. With Jamel’s large warm hand in mine, I floated past.

I’ll come fetch you, yeah? I’ll take you on Saturday”, and with Jamel’s words, my fate is sealed.

I know that Jamel is nineteen, that he lives in Bristol but that he’s ‘not from there’. His accent is a bit hard to place, Brummy perhaps but he is pretty cagey. He mentions brothers in passing, in response to me talking about my own fourteen-year-old fraternal burden Dylan but I don’t have a clear picture about who he actually is. He mentions a Nigerian Nan but frankly, I’m too mesmerised by him to care about anything other than how long it will be until he snogs me again.

My plan, haphazardly formulated as Jamel’s fingers toyed with my knickers in the back-seat of the Golf, is that Jamel will drop me home and I’ll sleep in Dad’s garage (always unlocked) until such time as I can reasonably walk in the door, pretending to arrive home from Lees’.

It doesn’t turn out like that though. It never does with me.

In so many of the 80’s films that have shaped my expectations of romance and love, the loss of virginity is generally undertaken in a variety of covert, parental-avoiding scenarios but with the key uniting ingredient of a bed and some degree of comfort. I’d always expected my deflowering to be in Johnny’s cabin at Kellermans or perhaps it would be in Tom Cruise's bed after the big football game. This dream has adapted in recent days, morphing into Ryan’s back-seat with an Enya CD playing in the background.

Think again Roberts.

In Dad’s garage, bumbling about in the dark so as not to attract any neighbours attention, Jamel helps me reach down the bloody recliner patio chair from the ceiling rack, the chair on which I intend to sleep tonight. We’re snogging again, I’m melting into a pile of hormonal goo as his large, muscular frame drapes around me and his hands are wandering into all sorts of forbidden territories. He keeps muttering against my lips that he needs to ‘get going’ but the only place he actually goes is into my underwear and the part of him that I can feel ‘getting going’? Good LORD it’s huge.

I, Erin Roberts, lose my virginity to Jamel Don’t-know-his-surname on my mother’s floral Argos patio recliner in a dark spider-filled garage at 3am in the morning. Jamel’s kisses taste like Dr. Pepper and his skin tastes like fizzy sweets. He has hard ropey muscles that move under his soft skin and when he likes something, his breath goes jagged and his kisses get wetter. In the dark, his hair feels like sponge and when he slowly slips inside me, he whisper swears. Whilst relatively painless, it is nonetheless the most astonishing and disconcerting event of my life thus far. Jamel, a well-endowed young man compared to Ryan, does an applaudable job of making it as pleasant as it could possibly be. If I’m honest, I could have been convinced to have another go afterwards given the brevity of the event itself but in the post-coital awkwardness, Jamel just busies himself in re-dressing and asking for directions back to the motorway.

As I adjust my own clothing, I feel awash with emotions that are too complex for words. I have never felt this vulnerable before. I want him to hug me, reassure me and kiss me but it doesn’t seem to be on offer. As we gently open the up-and-over garage door enough to allow Jamel’s exit, the words bubble unbidden from my mouth.

What happens now?”, I feel lost in this new adult landscape.

I am a UK based author of Contemporary women's fiction who is passionate about telling the stories of strong, sympathetic, entertaining and engaging female characters and the lives that they lead. My Welsh heritage and my life as a practising Social Worker with teenagers and their families heavily influences my work as does my love of all things 90's and an adolescence spent immersed in clubbing culture.