Cover Reveal: Malice by Pintip Dunn

Today I am also bringing a beautiful cover reveal for “Malice” by Pintip Dunn.

Malice
Genre: YA Sci-fi/Paranormal/Mystery & Suspense
Release Date: February 5th 2019
Entangled Teen

Summary:

What I know: a boy in my class will one day wipe out two-thirds of the population with a virus.
What I don’t know: who he is.
In a race against the clock, I not only have to figure out his identity, but I’ll have to outwit a voice from the future telling me to kill him. Because I’m starting to realize no one is telling the truth. But how can I play chess with someone who already knows the outcome of my every move? Someone so filled with malice they’ve lost all hope in humanity? Well, I’ll just have to find a way—because now they’ve drawn a target on the only boy I’ve ever loved…

About the Author:

Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B., and received her J.D. at Yale Law School.
Pintip’s novel FORGET TOMORROW won the 2016 RWA RITA® for Best First Book, and SEIZE TODAY won the 2018 RITA for Best Young Adult Romance. Her books have been translated into four languages, and they have been nominated for the following awards: the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire; the Japanese Sakura Medal; the MASL Truman Award; the Tome Society It list; and the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her other titles include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, THE DARKEST LIE, GIRL ON THE VERGE, and the upcoming STAR-CROSSED and MALICE.
Cover Reveal: Malice by Pintip Dunn
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Book Review: Apple of My Eye by Christine Barfknecht

I am delighted to be taking part int he blog tour for “Apple of my Eye” by Christine Barfknecht which is being organised by RABT Tours.

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Psychological Suspense
Date Published: 08-04-2018
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Laurie Brandon isn’t crazy. It’s a bout of panic that has her muttering indecipherable sounds and crying out like a mad woman, an attack brought on by her infant daughter’s sudden disappearance from the town’s annual Apple Festival. Not insanity. She needs help to save Emily. Someone has to see that, do something.
But her recent history of psychosis coupled with witness claims that Emily was never at the festival with Laurie isn’t helping her credibility. Neither is recent suspension from her job as a school teacher over stability concerns. Perhaps most damaging, though, is Laurie’s insistence that her ex-husband, Jake, had something to do with the child’s disappearance. Any sane person knows a dead man can’t run off with a baby.
The town sheriff believes Laurie is, at best, unreliable and possibly something much worse. But Laurie knows what she saw. She knows other things, too, details too hard to believe and even harder to accept. Now, she needs to convince someone – anyone – that Emily is in danger before the sheriff locks Laurie away permanently.

About the Author:

 photo IMG_466003_zpso3lhdtmu.jpgChristine Barfknecht has a passion for weaving the darkest bits of the human psyche into page-turning fiction. She’s been crafting stories since before she printed her first word and credits her overactive imagination to a lifelong love of reading. She seeks out books that keep her hiding beneath the covers at night or turning pages long after her eyes begin to cross, and strives for those qualities in her own writing.

Christine lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband, children, and pets where she is also a virtual bookkeeping entrepreneur. In addition to reading and writing, she enjoys gardening, crafts, time with family, and traveling. APPLE OF MY EYE is her debut novel.
Website – Facebook – Twitter – Blog

Purchase Links:

Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Smashwords

My Review:

This is certainly a thrilling read and one that keeps you on the edge of your seat almost constantly!
Our main character, Laurie has had a tough past as she was physically and verbally abused by her husband and it is made only worse by him not admitting that he does it and telling her its all in her mind.  He goes even further by telling everyone in her life (family, friend and work colleagues) that she is unstable and tells them that he is worried about her taking care of their daughter Emily.
Then, Laurie’s tormentor dies in a road accident when he had been drunk driving (good riddance you would agree?!) – probably one of the happier days of Laurie’s life as she realises she is finally free from him.
And then Emily goes missing and she thinks that she saw her husband taking her.  Of course no one believes Laurie (except her neighbour Brad) and they refuse to help her look for Emily and in fact add salt to the wound by having her carted off to the local psychiatric hospital.
The way the story goes is such a twist and turn of a plot with sub plots and side stories happening all over the place to keep you guessing about how it will all turn out in the end but come together they do and there is a bit of a surprise ending to it all as well which felt good ad right for the story (and something I had’t guessed at either).
I would warn about some triggers in the book with the mental, verbal and physical abuse and some of it is hard to read but it is justified for the plot line and at no point did I think it was being sensationalised for the sake of drama.
Another part I loved was the fact that you don’t really know, never 100%, whether Laurie is telling the truth or what .. it’s another great element that keeps you guessing!
Thoroughly recommended to all thriller fans!
4 Stars.

Giveaway:

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RABT Book Tours & PR

 

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Audiobook Review: What Have We Done by JT Lawrence

And so today I bring you the third and final review for the ‘When Tomorrow Calls’ Series by JT Lawrence.

Author: JT Lawrence

Narrator: Roshina Ratnam

Length: 9 hours 15 minute

Publisher: Author’s Republic⎮2018

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: When Tomorrow Calls, Book 3

Release date: Mar. 22, 2018

In tomorrow’s world where the edges blur between addictive virtual reality and real life, would you hurt your daughter if it was the only way to set her free? When gaming junkie Silver doesn’t make it home on the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Kate and Keke go out to find her. It’s a treacherous journey navigating a city in the midst of a flash civil war. Shrouded in electrosmog and panic, it’s been taken over by vigilante bot hunters as a violent AI uprising puts everyone Kate loves in danger, especially Mally and his anthrobot girlfriend.
Suicide Agent Zack’s in trouble. After a charade of a trial he’s sentenced to hard labour at SkyRest, the most controversial penal labour colony in the country. He’s shocked by what he finds there, deep underground, but the more he resists it, the more they brainbleach him into submission. If he doesn’t find his way, he’ll never be able to tell Kate what he needs to tell her. Which is a problem, because it’s the whole reason he exists. With the Doomsday Prophecy looming large, Kate discovers there are forces at play she’d never guess at, and much more at stake than just her or her children’s lives. What she’ll need to do to keep everyone safe will stretch her beyond every hard limit.
Will Kate play the game? Cyberpunk meets the robopocalypse on the edge of litRPG in this dark dystopian thriller. Jack in and get ready for a headsplosion with this third book in the riveting series When Tomorrow Calls. Ready? Your next addiction starts now.
Buy Links

JT Lawrence is a bestselling Amazon author, playwright and bookdealer based in Parkview, Johannesburg. She is the mother of two small boys and a baby girl, and lives in a house with a red front door.

WebsiteTwitterFacebookAmazon

Narrator Bio

Roshina Ratnam is actress, puppeteer, voice artist and lover of dumplings.
She has performed around the world mostly notably playing Opelila in Janet Suzman’s production of Hamlet which toured to the Royal Shakespeare Company. Other highlights include For Colored Girls which received a Fleur Du Cap. Her puppetry work has seen her work with Handspring Puppet Company as well as the award winning political satire TV series ZAnews. She is currently a producer and performer with Pillow Fort Theatre which creates art focused for children aged 18 months to 4 years. Her work as a voice artist has seen her record several books and radio commercials over the years. Roshina Ratnam is a graduate of UCT drama school.

Twitter

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by JT Lawrence. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
So. .. this is it … If you have read my reviews for the prequel, Book 1 and Book 2 you will know how much I was enjoying this series .. and the finale didn’t disappoint!
I have to admit to being a little lost to begin with – I think the jump in time (forward by 12 years or so) caused me a little confusion but soon adjusted and got sucked in as always. The storyline was handled so well; jumping between Kate in the ‘present’ back to Zack’s story worked well and  there were still many mysteries being dealt with and revealed throughout, which kept the pace going.
I have to admit that I didn’t see the ending coming and have to admit to ‘eyeballing’ when it is revealed, only to ‘apologise’ for that once you learn a bit more about the situation.
I also kinda love and hate the last bit – I mean it kinda finishes but also kinda ends on a cliff hanger .. all the questions you have are covered right until the last sentence of the book and then you’re left thinking .. WAIT WHAT?! I’m not sure if there are any plans to write more but I for one would like to think there might be as I would love to learn more about it all.
I really enjoyed this series and can definitely see myself re-listening to it now that I know what happens – sometimes you see things in a totally different light when you have all the answers and it can make a second reading a lot of fun!
I give this book 4 stars but will certainly give the series as a whole, 4.5 stars.
Thank you so much to Jess The Audiobookworm and to JT Lawrence for giving me the chance to take part in this tour.  I’m going to miss Keke’s sassiness and Seth’s sexiness for sure!
Giveaway

When Tomorrow Calls Giveaway: Audiobook & eBook Set

PREQUEL

Aug. 7th:
Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews
The Book Junkie Reads . . .
Aug. 8th:
Lomeraniel
Bound 4 Escape
Aug. 9th:
What Emma Read Next
Writers N Authors
Aug. 10th:
Book Addict
T’s Stuff
Aug. 11th:
Lilly’s Book World
In Pattis Imagination
Aug. 12th:
Carolyn M. Walker, Author of Thrilling Fiction
Aug. 13th:
Jazzy Book Reviews

BOOK ONE

Aug. 14th:
Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews
Aug. 15th:
Writers N Authors
T’s Stuff
Aug. 16th:
Bound 4 Escape
Aug. 17th:
Book Addict
Aug. 18th:
What Emma Read Next
Aug. 19th:
Jazzy Book Reviews
Lilly’s Book World
Aug. 20th:
The Book Addict’s Reviews
Carolyn M. Walker, Author of Thrilling Fiction

BOOK TWO

Aug. 21st:
Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews
Aug. 22nd:
Writers N Authors
T’s Stuff
Aug. 23rd:
Bound 4 Escape
Aug. 24th:
Jazzy Book Reviews
Aug. 25th:
Book Addict
Aug. 26th:
What Emma Read Next
Aug. 27th:
The Book Addict’s Reviews
Carolyn M. Walker, Author of Thrilling Fiction

BOOK THREE

Aug. 28th:
Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews
Writers N Authors
Aug. 29th:
Jazzy Book Reviews
Lilly’s Book World
T’s Stuff
Aug. 30th:
What Emma Read Next
Sep. 1st:
Book Addict
Bound 4 Escape
Sep. 2nd:
Carolyn M. Walker, Author of Thrilling Fiction
Sep. 3rd:
The Book Addict’s Reviews

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Newly Published: Immortal Hearts by Raven Moon

Today I am delighted to bring you another book and one I am looking forward to reading!  “Immortal Hearts” by Raven Moon was published a few days ago on the 25th August by Kingston Publishing.

“His pale-blue eyes caught me off guard, sending a shiver through my body. Could those possibly be the eyes that haunt my dreams?”

The Blurb:

Rainelle Sterling grew up in the Smoky Mountains, so when she returned home, she made plans to visit the place where she spent her childhood.
What was supposed to be a fun relaxing weekend away with her brother, and friends changes as she learns her grandmother’s tales weren’t tales at all, but a warning as she faces a devastating loss, a fight for her life against the unimaginable.
When faced with telling her parents, she learns things that she never knew. Will the broken trust, betrayal, and deceit from loved ones break her? Can she remain strong to survive?
If only she knew then, what she knew now, maybe, just maybe, things would be different. But for now, she must fight to stay alive while she plans her revenge against the unthinkable.
Buy the book HERE.

About the Author:

Raven Moon was born in Southern Indiana where she lives with her family enjoying the country life raising Boer goats, and chickens, spending lazy days with her granddaughters, Yorkie and Pit while enjoying late night bonfires, and nature.
Raven is an avid collector of dragons. She likes old sappy movies, horror flicks, action-packed thrillers, and old cartoons – Mighty Mouse and The Rescuers are her favourite. She loves crafting and makes personalised gifts and swag and natural bath and home products.
When she isn’t writing, spends her days playing with her granddaughters, traveling with her mom, and plotting her next big story.
Raven owes her writing to her late father who’s unexpected passing started her journey in 2014. Now, here she is following a dream from a tragedy.
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Spotlight: Claire's Dad by Shad Arnold

Book Details:

Book Title: Claire’s Dad: How I Earned the Title
Author: Shad Arnold
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 132 pages
Genre: Self-help, Parenting
Publisher: Pinpoint Innovation
Release date: February 1, 2018
Tour Dates: Aug 20 to 31, 2018
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

Like everything worthwhile in this world, the title of “dad” isn’t given – it’s earned.
Society hasn’t done a great job preparing men to raise daughters. That’s a shame, as daughters have a deep, often unacknowledged need for their fathers to take an active role in their growth.
In Claire’s Dad, author and father Shad Arnold offers an engaging look at the difference a father can make in his little girl’s life as she grows into a mature, responsible, and self-assured young woman. Using his own experiences as a touchstone, Arnold explores the principles and standards a father can model for his daughter.
The author is donating a portion of the sales of this book to aid children around the world via the Novitas Foundation.

Buy the Book:

ABOUt the Author:

Shad Arnold is an author, entrepreneur, inventor, strategic consultant, public speaker and humanitarian who has founded three companies and two non-profit charities. He has worked as a volunteer and advocate for children for over 30 years. He currently serves as the International Executive Director of Novitas Foundation, the charitable organization he founded in 2013, volunteering his time to raise funds and directly oversee relief and sustainable development initiatives to benefit children in need around the world.

Giveaway:

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Book Review: How To Find Love in the Little Things by Virginie Grimaldi

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for “How to Find Love in the Little Things” by Virginie Grimaldi, organised by Anne Cater of Random Things Tours.

 

The Blurb:

Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Headline Review
Published on: 23 August 2018
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1472250087
ISBN-13: 978-1472250087
Amazon Link

Welcome to Ocean View. You don’t know it yet, but you’ll be happy here…’
Julia’s not running away. Not exactly. She just needs a break from Paris and Marc and all the sad stuff that’s been going on lately. A little time to pull herself together.
The job offer felt like a lifeline. But now she’s back in Biarritz, suitcase in hand, she hasn’t the faintest idea what she was thinking.
What Julia doesn’t yet know is there’s more to the odds and ends of Ocean View than meet the eye. Behind the double doors lie broken hearts, lifelong secrets, a touch of romance and an unwavering passion for life. And sometimes it’s the most unlikely of places and people who help you find your way.

About the Author:

Virginie Grimaldi grew up in Bordeaux and has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. She wrote her first novel aged eight in a green notebook with multiplication tables in the back. It was about love and the sea and featured a thirty-page-long sunset . . .
How to Find Love in the Little Things was first published in France in May 2016 and became an instant bestseller, translated into multiple languages.
You can follow Virginie on Twitter: @GinieGrimaldi
 

My Review:

The setting of a retirement home in this book is certainly different to most, but it worked well.  I fell in love with the residents very quickly and was glad we got to know know them as well as the MC, even if some of the stories are hard to read; getting old is not an easy thing and Julia, as the home’s psychologist certainly see’s a lot that most folks would struggle to deal with.
There are hard to read parts (because of the retirement home setting) and because of this I did take a little while to get into the book – I felt a little on the outside for a while, but soon realised that I was feeling more part of things.
The book is not particularly fast paced, which after my recent rads, was quite a nice change It’s one of those books that feels like not a lot happens but then you realise that when you’re not reading it, you want to be!
There is a twist at the end – I didn’t see it coming but I also felt that it was’t quite right somehow – I can’t out a finger on it but it did leave me a little confused right at the end.
I did enjoy the book and would class it as a perfect holiday read – one that you can sit and read at the beach and enjoy whilst you are reading.
Thanks, as always to the Author, Publisher and Anne Cater for allowing me to have a read and be part of the tour!
Rating – 3.5

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Audiobook Review: How We Found You by J.T. Lawrence

Author: JT Lawrence

Narrator: Roshina Ratnam

Length: 9 hours 19 minute

Publisher: Author’s Republic⎮2017

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: When Tomorrow Calls, Book 2

Release date: Dec. 12, 2017


There’s something different about Kate’s four-year-old son. He wasn’t created the old fashioned way. Now a violent cult wants him dead and Kate will do anything to protect him – until they take her daughter.
In tomorrow’s world, Kate is haunted by a brutal past. Struggling to navigate a life that seems like an experiment in virtual reality, her paranoia threatens to consume her. But when someone tries to kidnap Mally, she realises she was absolutely right to be afraid.
With only hours to go before the cult’s prophecy is to be fulfilled, Kate and Seth face more danger than they’ve ever imagined, desperate to keep him safe. However, the charismatic leader of the cult has other ideas, which puts Kate in an impossible position. Who will she choose to live, and who will she have to sacrifice?
Buy Links

JT Lawrence is a bestselling Amazon author, playwright and bookdealer based in Parkview, Johannesburg. She is the mother of two small boys and a baby girl, and lives in a house with a red front door.

WebsiteTwitterFacebookAmazon

Narrator Bio

Roshina Ratnam is actress, puppeteer, voice artist and lover of dumplings.
She has performed around the world mostly notably playing Opelila in Janet Suzman’s production of Hamlet which toured to the Royal Shakespeare Company. Other highlights include For Colored Girls which received a Fleur Du Cap. Her puppetry work has seen her work with Handspring Puppet Company as well as the award winning political satire TV series ZAnews. She is currently a producer and performer with Pillow Fort Theatre which creates art focused for children aged 18 months to 4 years. Her work as a voice artist has seen her record several books and radio commercials over the years. Roshina Ratnam is a graduate of UCT drama school.

Twitter

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by JT Lawrence. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
Oh. My. GOODNESS!
My favourite saying throughout the listening of this audiobook was…
“Wait. Did that just happen? OK, Yes it did. Good grief…”
In my review of book 1 I made a comment about how I would run out of stars for this series, and I probably brought that on myself.  This is a brilliant book, a brilliant sequel and .. I can’t recommend this series enough!
The problem with this review is that I don’t want to give too much away, especially if you haven’t read the first book but in reviewing this book I have to so if you haven’t read the prequel or the first book, GO AWAY RIGHT NOW and come back once you have!
This book is set a few years after the events of the first book and Kate has had her baby – a ‘Twin’ for the little by that she was handed at the end of the first book.  We also find out that she made that leap of faith and now knows her birth parents – we don’t hear much about this and that made me a little sad – I would have loved to have a bit more of their story once they were all reunited.
I also had to gloss over the acceptance of Mally – I mean this is a science fiction book so weird i good but there wasn’t a whole heap of comment about how he came into being and the fact that he was just handed over. But really – you get about 3 nanoseconds to have that thought ad then you’re off on the wild ride that the author takes you on.
Nerves. Fear. Memories. Love. Friendship. Betrayal. Deadlines. Cults. Religion.
This book really has it all and it is the most gripping tale – I honestly listened to it in one sitting. Yes – I had to stay up late to finish it, no I don’t regret it for one minute, yes I immediately listened to the first chapter of book 3 – don’t judge me!
The ‘twist’ that comes about 3 quarters of the way trough was one I pride myself on foreseeing to a certain extent; something just didn’t feel right about this particular person but I though her sisters were involved to (ooh cryptic – if you’ve red it you’ll know what I mean) but was wrong on that count!
That ending though .. I mean, you realise you’re getting towards the end and you’re thinking about the fact that there’s a third book and you just can’t seem to tally the two in your head and then BLAM! It’s sorted and obvious!
I *may* have already finished the third book… that’s how much I love this!
Also – shout out to the Narrator – she really does an excellent job of acting this book out just by using her voice!
I am going to give this one a 4.75 (rounded to 5 on review sites) only because, as I have mentioned before, a 5 is really only given to books that are my all time life favourites!
Giveaway

When Tomorrow Calls Giveaway: Audiobook & eBook Set

PREQUEL

Aug. 7th:
Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews
The Book Junkie Reads . . .
Aug. 8th:
Lomeraniel
Bound 4 Escape
Aug. 9th:
What Emma Read Next
Writers N Authors
Aug. 10th:
Book Addict
T’s Stuff
Aug. 11th:
Lilly’s Book World
In Pattis Imagination
Aug. 12th:
Carolyn M. Walker, Author of Thrilling Fiction
Aug. 13th:
Jazzy Book Reviews

BOOK ONE

Aug. 14th:
Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews
Aug. 15th:
Writers N Authors
T’s Stuff
Aug. 16th:
Bound 4 Escape
Aug. 17th:
Book Addict
Aug. 18th:
What Emma Read Next
Aug. 19th:
Jazzy Book Reviews
Lilly’s Book World
Aug. 20th:
The Book Addict’s Reviews
Carolyn M. Walker, Author of Thrilling Fiction

BOOK TWO

Aug. 21st:
Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews
Aug. 22nd:
Writers N Authors
T’s Stuff
Aug. 23rd:
Bound 4 Escape
Aug. 24th:
Jazzy Book Reviews
Aug. 25th:
Book Addict
Aug. 26th:
What Emma Read Next
Aug. 27th:
The Book Addict’s Reviews
Carolyn M. Walker, Author of Thrilling Fiction

BOOK THREE

Aug. 28th:
Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews
Writers N Authors
Aug. 29th:
Jazzy Book Reviews
Lilly’s Book World
T’s Stuff
Aug. 30th:
What Emma Read Next
Sep. 1st:
Book Addict
Bound 4 Escape
Sep. 2nd:
Carolyn M. Walker, Author of Thrilling Fiction
Sep. 3rd:
The Book Addict’s Reviews

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Spotlight: The Love Fool by Lorenzo Petruzziello

Book Details:

Book Title: The Love Fool: A Rome-antic Comedy
Author: Lorenzo Petruzziello
Category: Adult Fiction, 314 pages
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Quill (Inkshares)
Release date: March 13, 2018
Tour dates: Aug 6 to 24, 2018
Content Rating: PG

Book Description:

Set in Rome. Follow the whirlwind antics of a publicist as he struggles to manage his first TV chef client, his new life, and an unexpected visit from his ex-girlfriend.
Alex recently moved to Italy for an opportunity at a PR firm in Rome. His first client is the beautiful Danish chef Pernille Bjørn, a popular model, TV personality, and cookbook author just entering the booming televised cooking show market in Italy.
Alex’s single-minded career focus is soon thwarted by Emily, an ex-girlfriend he hasn’t heard from in almost a decade.
Italy’s modern culture and enchanting sights set the backdrop to this Rome-antic comedy.

About the Author:

 
Lorenzo Petruzziello holds an MBA in global marketing from Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. His background includes publicity and marketing for many of public television’s popular cooking and travel shows. He lives in Massachusetts focusing on his writing. THE LOVE FOOL is his first novel.

Connect with Lorenzo: Website ~ Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

 
 

 

Author Interview:

Who are your favorite authors?
Probably like many people, Fitzgerald and Hemingway are definitely two of my favorites. Fitzgerald specifically for his observations. I love how he can describe two people having a conversation form across the room through facial expressions and body language. Without even having to talk to each other each understand the other’s attraction. I especially liked how he did this with Rosemary and Nick in Tender is the Night. For Hemingway, it’s his brash forcefulness of just laying it all out there for the characters to pick up the pieces. It’s not chaotic, but I love how the characters all come together in a rumbling sort of way. And I must add Jane Austen here. I was encouraged to read (and watch) Pride & Prejudice and I am so glad I did. The romantic tension between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy was very relatable and quite an influence on what I hope to be my masterpieces – joking.
Speaking of influence, which character in THE LOVE FOOL is influenced by you? Are you Alex?
No. I mean, sure Alex is inspired by me – the skeleton of me. But no he’s not me. I mean I’d like to think I’m not as foolish and immature as Alex. But then again, I think so highly of myself sometimes – delusional may be the word… joking.
What influenced the story behind THE LOVE FOOL?
Well, let’s see. As far as Alex’s profession – it was inspired by my previous profession as a publicist for travel and cooking shows on public television. It was what I knew and why not? But that aspect was also forced by Pernille – the celebrity in THE LOVE FOOL. You see, I had set the story in Rome. And I thought about what was one of the most memorable “things” that people think of when they think of Rome. And I found that answer seemed to be both Roman Holiday and Fellini. Inspired by Fellini’s La Dolce Vita – where the celebrity was a Swedish movie star – I decided to also make my celebrity a Scandinavian. But I made Pernille Danish because I had named her after a friend of mine in Copenhagen. And instead of a movie star, I made Pernille a popular model/TV chef because the TV chef thing seemed to be the rage. Also, I had worked with some Scandinavian TV chefs in the past – so Pernille’s also nod to all of them.
And the LOVE?
Well, now – who can resist a good story about love? Good or bad, one cannot resist – like a train wreck. And adding a dollop of Italy and a sprinkle of food, I was hoping to tempt the reader to dive right in.
How long did it take you to write THE LOVE FOOL?
Too long. I mean, I had started it when I was living in Rome temporarily. I’d say in three months, I had more than half of the first draft complete. But that’s only because I wasn’t really working. I had a lot of time on my hands and I was able to dedicate it to writing. And I was surrounded by the beauty of Rome to push that inspiration, so that helped. But I came back to Boston and worked full time – leaving only evenings and weekends to dedicate to working on THE LOVE FOOL, so that took much longer. Overall, I’d say the first draft completed within eight months. But I reviewed and reworked the draft 5-6 times over. In the end, it took 3 years for the manuscript to be complete and submitted.
How difficult was it to find a publisher?
Very. Of course, I started out sending submissions to potential literary agents to no avail. I kept at it for about a year. Maybe I could have continued on longer but I kept reminding myself – maybe foolishly – that I was a no one. Who would even consider me? I’ve never written anything before. But, I didn’t’ want to rush into self-publishing either. I wanted to see what I could do. But then I discovered Inkshares – a crowdsource publishing outfit. If I was capable of making enough pre-sales to show interest in my book, Inkshares would take me on. And I took a shot, and just made the cusp for representation. Granted Inkshares is a small publisher, so I don’t have a lot of the backing of a large publisher, but I have the support that I was looking for. And because I have a marketing background, the promotional side of it was going to be OK. But boy is it a lot of work. The important thing for me was to see my book on a shelf in a bookstore – and I was glad I achieved that. It was surreal and exciting just to see that.

Giveaway:

 

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Book Review: The Little Star Fisher by Rachel Morgan (Illus. by Marta Magnetti Codrai)

I was approached by Rachel a little while ago to see if I would be willing to have a read of her book “The Little Star Fisher” and to possibly review on my blog.  As soon as I saw the cover, I said yes!

The Blurb:

The Little Star Fisher is a fantastic tale of a little boy who fishes the night skies for stars. Nested deep within each star are hidden treasures that inspire wonder, whimsy and fun! Search the night skies with the Little Star Fisher and discover what mysteries the stars hold.
With light-hearted rhymes and beautiful illustrations, this tale is perfect for every child who has ever wondered what the stars are made of.

About the Author:

Rachel Morgan studied English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Central Arkansas. She is the co-founder of Watercourse Books, a children’s book publishing company, whose titles include “Good Night, Sweet Baby” and “The Little Star Fisher.”
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About the Illustrator:

Magnetti Design Studio is the place were cool things come to life.
With an eight years career as senior graphic designer, Marta founded her very own studio after a few years spent in corporate world – she left everything to go back to Italy and quickly developed a portfolio filled with sparkling new clients such as Blizzard, Bosh, Rullion and many more.
She published her first illustrated book in 2017.
The studio is specialized in Illustration, Infographics, Branding development and Digital+Editorial Publishing.
She probably eats Pizza too much, but that’s another topic.
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Author Interview:

Hi Rachel!  Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out to me and then for answering these questions!
1. Where did your idea of star fishers come from?
Originally, I had a very basic visual in my head of cracking a star open like an egg. There was something about that visual that I thought would make a really interesting story. I liked the whimsy of it, so I kept exploring that idea, and it evolved into a fantastic, imaginative village full of star fishers.
2. And what about what is contained in the stars? I was really intrigued with the fact that its all different things ..!
When deciding what treasures would be hidden within the stars, I wanted to choose things that have a rich visual, so Marta, our illustrator, would be able to really let her creativity loose on the page. I also wanted them to be unexpected things that many pre-schoolers love or are some of their first words.
3. How did you meet your illustrator?
Online! Can you believe it? We got incredibly lucky that we were able to connect with such a talented illustrator.
4. Did she capture it as you imagined it first time or was there a little to and fro?
It was better than I could have imagined. We had created a picture book together already called Good Night, Sweet Baby, so I knew she would create something beautiful.
5. Was it strange having someone else draw out the story that you saw in your head?
Not at all! Marta took my basic concept and ran with them. I provided a storyboard for her, but let her have creative freedom to make the illustrations her own.
6. Do you plan to write any more as part of a series or anything like that?
We definitely intend to produce more! It probably won’t be a series, but you can count on it having amazing artwork and a fun story!

Illustrator Interview:

1. WOW – your artwork is really very impressive! How hard is it to take someones visions out of their head and draw them from scratch yourself?
Thanks SO SO MUCH!! Well I must say sometimes is more about using your vision to interpret someone else’s mind. It doesn’t work all the time, I’ve learned by working each and every single day for the past 8 yrs on illustrations and graphic design projects. It takes time to really nail what a client wants and envisions, but most of all is about good communication and not limiting your own creativity for the fear of failure and rejection.
2. Did you read the story before having a chat about what the author wanted art wise and if so, did her visions match what you had pictured in your head when reading it?
Yes I read the story before and we always have a bit of brainstorming at the beginning where the author sent me her style and character’s ideas. I must say Rachel and Nate are seriously giving me a lot of free space for creativity and this gives me quite a lot of space to play around with brushes, colors and scenery – they’re awesome to work with!
3. Would you say this book fits a style that you prefer / are known for as such or would you say that each item you do is unique and of its own ‘type’?
This book really represents my way of drawing. I love rough, imprecise, textured drawings and this book embodies it all. I obviously have to change style depending on my clients’ taste, but as said, Rachel and Nate really trusted my work so I put all my efforts in doing something that represented a mix between their writing imagination and my drawing style.

My Review:

It goes without saying that the illustrations in this short children’s book are AMAZING, after all it was what initially attracted me to the book! But as ell as that, the story is wonderfully imaginative.
The Star Fishermen live in a little village by the water and every night they fish for stars. One day a little boy casts his line into the sky and catches many stars.  When he opens them he finds all sorts of treasures hidden inside!
I don’t have any children of the target market age for this book but I wish I did as I would certainly be stocking up on this as Christmas presents!
4.5 Stars

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Book Extract: The Girl who Wanted to Belong by Angela Hart

The Blurb:

Lucy is eight years old and ends up in foster care after being abandoned by her mum and kicked out by her new stepmother. Two aunties and then her elderly grandmother take her in but it seems nobody can cope with Lucy’s disruptive behaviour. Social Services hope a stay with experienced foster carer Angela will help Lucy settle down. She misses her dad and three siblings and is desperate for a fresh start back home, but will Lucy ever be able to live in harmony with her stepmother and her stepsister – a girl who was once her best friend at school?
The Girl Who Wanted to Belong is the fifth book from well-loved foster carer and Sunday Times bestselling author Angela Hart. A true story that shares the tale of one of the many children she has fostered over the years. Angela’s stories show the difference that quiet care, a watchful eye and sympathetic ear can make to those children whose upbringing has been less fortunate than others.

About the Author:

Angela Hart, who writes under a pseudonym, is a specialist foster carer for children with complex needs. Angela has been a foster carer for over 25 years, during which time she and her husband, Jonathan, have looked after more than fifty children. Her books Terrified and The Girl Who Just Wanted To Be Loved were top ten Sunday Times bestsellers.

Extract:

Chapter 2
‘I miss you, Daddy. When can I come home?’
Lucy looked very pleased with her large room and began explaining that at home she had to  share a bunk bed with her stepsister, who had a habit of rattling the frame to annoy her.
‘I’m on the top bunk and she kicks my mattress from below. She’s such a wind-up merchant. My little sister sleeps on the fold-up bed in the same room. It’s not a big room like this. It’s tiny. You can’t see the carpet when my sister’s bed is pulled out. Then my brothers share the smallest room and then Daddy—’
Lucy suddenly stopped talking.
‘Daddy?’
‘Daddy has the other room, with her.’
I let this statement hang in the air for a moment so as not to rush or pressure Lucy into talking about anything she might find difficult to discuss. She didn’t elaborate and so I casually asked how old her brothers and sisters were.
‘My brothers are both nine. Josh and Liam. I’ve only got one sister, Milly. She’s seven.’
I guessed the boys must be twins but I’d let Lucy tell me that, as perhaps one was a half-brother, who knows? You can never be too careful. Kids can be very sensitive about such matters and clearly Lucy’s family dynamics had already caused her a lot of trouble.
‘Did you say I could pick my duvet cover?’
‘Yes,’ I said, showing her a selection in the ottoman on the landing, where I stored the large collection of linen and towels I’d accumulated over the years. Lucy didn’t mention her stepsister again and so I had no idea how old she was, or what her name was. It would be interesting to find out more about what had gone on at home, and I was very curious to know why Lucy was the only one of the five children not to have adjusted to the new family unit.
All the other children were still living at home, so what had gone wrong with Lucy? So far Lucy’s behaviour certainly didn’t match the very negative description Social Services had been provided with. What had Jess said to me? ‘Disruptive’, ‘aggressive’, ‘belligerent’ and ‘totally impossible to live with’. I didn’t know which family member or members had described Lucy this way but from my first impressions I really couldn’t imagine her being so bad. Mind you, it wasn’t just her own family who struggled to deal with her, was it? Two separate aunties had failed to cope with her under their roof, and things must have been pretty bad for Lucy to be pulled out of school and sent a hundred miles away to live with her elderly grandmother.
Nevertheless the whole scenario seemed extreme to me. It was very difficult to imagine this angelic-looking young girl being so difficult, but I reminded myself that I’d been caught out in the past by the so-called ‘honeymoon period’ of fostering. It’s natural for kids to want to please you when they first arrive, though every child is different. Experience told me only time would tell what Lucy’s behaviour was truly like. My job for now was to settle her in and provide a loving and safe environment, to help her recalibrate and hopefully move forward in a positive way with her family.
‘The blue stripes,’ Lucy said triumphantly, pulling out a duvet cover and two pillowcases from the ottoman. Then she wrinkled her nose, looking at a bright pink set with fairies all over.
‘Urgh! I don’t like pink or any of those sparkly kind of things.’
I smiled. Normally little girls went for the pink or lilac sets of bedding but despite her sweet little face I could see Lucy was not someone you might describe as a your typical ‘girly’ girl. She was wearing jeans and a bottle green football shirt for a start, and when she began to unpack her bags I could see that most of her clothes were in dark colours and styles more typically chosen by boys. Lucy had combat trousers, T-shirts with robots and dragons  on and her pyjamas had Ninja Turtles emblazoned across the chest. They were very popular characters at the time, in the nineties, but usually it was boys who liked Ninja Turtles more than girls.
Some of Lucy’s clothes looked a little worn out and shabby although I was pleased to see they were clean and neatly folded, and she had a toilet bag with a toothbrush and hairbrush in it. I imagined that was the work of Lucy’s grandmother. The old lady must have found it very tough indeed to call Social Services, I thought. If what I’d heard so far was true, she’d been put in a very unfortunate position, and I really felt for her.
I introduced Lucy to Maria, who looked the younger child up and down with an air of suspicion even though I’d told her the previous day we had another girl moving in. Maria had been with us on and off for a few years. We’d also had two teenage boys staying with us for some time too, but they’d left now. I think Maria was quite enjoying being the only child living with us long term, although of course we’d had other children for respite and short-term stays, as we always do when we have the space.
Even though Maria was used to being introduced to new arrivals you could never be sure how she might react, as she had behavioural difficulties of her own and a history of falling out with girls the same age as herself. I hoped that with Lucy being a year younger, Maria might try to be kind to her, and that the two would get on.
‘Hello,’ Lucy said. ‘What are you doing?’
‘Just stuff, in my room.’
‘Can I see your room?’
‘NO, not now. I’m busy.’
‘OK then.’
Maria retreated into her room, shutting the door too loudly.
‘Bye!’ Lucy called through the door.
I called after Maria too, telling her to try not to slam the door next time. I didn’t want to let her get away with rude behaviour like that and I wanted to show Lucy it was unacceptable to slam doors. Then I explained to Lucy that Maria was probably doing some homework, to get it out of the way for the weekend. The last thing I wanted was for Lucy’s mood to be upset by Maria’s very lukewarm welcome.
‘It’s OK. It’s not like I’m going to be living here. I don’t mind. It’s only for a bit . . .’
I wondered what Lucy’s expectations were, exactly, about the length of her stay. It was possible nobody had given her any indication of what Social Services was planning. A sudden thought hit me, Is this why she’s taking everything in her stride and doesn’t seem anxious or concerned about being in foster care?
‘I know you’re only here for a short stay,’ I said. ‘I expect it’ll be for the next two or three
months, over the summer. Like you say, it’s only for a bit, but I hope you and Maria are
going to get along.’
Lucy’s face was deadpan and I had no idea if this was disappointing news or something
she already knew.
‘Will I have to go to school here?’
‘Yes, of course. We’ll need to sort that out next week.’
‘Can I go back to my old school?’
‘No, sweetheart. You’ll need to go to one near us. Your old school is too far away.’
There was an added complication here, though I didn’t mention this to Lucy. Not only was her old school an hour away, it was in another county and under a completely separate local authority to ours. Social Services in Lucy’s home town hadn’t been able to find a foster carer close to the family home and had asked the authorities in our county to help them out. This would inevitably have created a lot of red tape – we’d been through this in the past on  more than one occasion – and it would most likely lead to arguments over which county was responsible for funding the statement at the school.
I was going to try to sort out Lucy’s schooling first thing on Monday. Social workers can and do contact schools and the LEA to help make the arrangements, but from experience I knew that if I got the ball rolling myself things usually moved a lot quicker. Social workers are so busy and have a large number of children to deal with, so I’m always happy to take on the task. Having children at home, and sometimes under my feet, when they should be at school is no good for anyone.
Jonathan went out and bought fish and chips for us all that evening. I hadn’t had time to cook and we thought it would be nice for the girls to have a takeaway, which was something we often did for a treat on a Friday in any case. Maria gobbled her food down in record time, which wasn’t unusual, while Lucy was suddenly quieter than she had been since she arrived and she picked at her food like a little bird. I didn’t say anything about this and thankfully she’d eaten enough by the end of the meal to ensure she wouldn’t go hungry.
Most children take a while to settle into a routine, and I understand that eating food around the dinner table with strangers is not the easiest thing for a young child to do. Some children have never eaten at a table before, having eaten all their meals on their knee, in front of the television. We’ve found that sitting together as a family gives us a chance to talk, and so we always make it a rule to sit and eat with the children, either in the dining room or around the kitchen table.
Jonathan and I did most of the talking. I asked the girls if they fancied going swimming the following day, as soon as we could get away from the shop. They both readily agreed. I’d noticed Lucy had brought a swimming costume with her, but she told me it didn’t fit any more and she needed a new one.
‘My stepmother said it would do me, but it’s way too small. I kept telling her.’
She sounded uncomfortable when she used the term stepmother and almost spat the word
out, curling her lip.
‘Don’t worry,’ I said. ‘We can get you a new costume tomorrow. We can call in to the retail park. There are a couple of sports shops there and if they’re no good there’s a little shop by the reception at the leisure centre. They usually have a good selection in there. I’m sure we’ll be able to get one you like.’
After we’d eaten Maria carried her plate to the kitchen sink and went straight back up to her room to listen to music. Lucy asked if she could phone her granny and her daddy. I’d been provided with their numbers and there were no restrictions on her calling them.
‘Of course you can. Let me just clear the table and I’ll show you how to use the phone.’
Lucy helped me clear up and as she did so she suddenly perked up and began talking in my ear, non-stop.
‘Where does this go? What do you use this for? Do you always have fish and chips on Friday? Do you like curry? My daddy loves curry. Does Jonathan go fishing? Daddy’s brilliant at fishing. He caught a fish that was two-foot long once but he threw it back in the water.’
We’d eaten in the dining room instead of the kitchen that night, simply because Maria had chosen to set the table in there and we used either room. Lucy followed me back and forth to the dining table, walking so close behind me she caught my heels a few times and made me
lose one of my slippers.
‘Careful!’ I said. ‘Can you just give me a bit of space, sweetheart?’
‘Oops I didn’t mean to do that. It was an accident. Did I hurt you?’
‘No, not at all. Just don’t walk so close to me, as you’re going to stand on my heels again
if you do.’
Lucy looked a bit bemused – or was she cross? And she continued to get under my feet at
every turn as I tidied the kitchen. I felt I could hardly move for fear I’d bash into her.
‘Lucy, sweetheart, it’s lovely that you’re helping me but please just be careful where you’re standing. I nearly caught you with the door of the dishwasher.’
‘Sorry I’m such a nuisance! I was only trying to help. I like helping. You don’t mind if I help do you? How come Maria isn’t helping?’
‘You’re not being a nuisance and I was only trying to explain that I don’t want to trip over you or for you to get knocked by something because you’re standing in the way. I don’t want you to get hurt. Now come on, let’s sort your phone calls out. Do you want to call your daddy first, or Granny?’
‘Daddy first, then Granny.’
Lucy was being calm and polite again now and flashed me a great big friendly smile, but I was in no doubt I’d had my first little glimpse of her being a bit disruptive and aggravating. I showed Lucy how to use the phone in the lounge and explained that I would have a quick word with her father first, to introduce myself and pass on our phone number to him, in case he didn’t have it. Social Services hadn’t asked me to keep our number private, or to listen in on the conversations as they occasionally did. I told Lucy I’d leave her to it once the introductions were done, and to come and find me when she was ready to call her granny. I dialled Lucy’s home number and a very polite and unassuming man answered. He spoke quietly and gently, telling me his name was Dean.
‘I’m ever so grateful to you, Mrs Hart,’ he said. ‘I don’t know what we would have done if you hadn’t been able to take Lucy in. I’m glad she’s safe and sound with you.’‘I’m pleased we can help. And please call me Angela. My husband is called Jonathan.’
‘Thank you very much, Angela. Is Lucy there? Can I have a word?’
‘Yes of course. No doubt we’ll speak again soon. Bye for now.’ I passed our number on to him.
Lucy’s blue eyes were shining when she took the handset off me.
‘Daddy!’ she gasped breathlessly. ‘I miss you, Daddy. When can I come home?’
I slipped out of the room, leaving Lucy to talk privately.
She appeared in the kitchen about twenty minutes later.
‘Can we call Granny now?’
‘Yes of course. Everything OK?’
‘Yes. I wish I could have spoken to Daddy for longer though.’
I looked at the clock. ‘I thought you had quite a long conversation?’
‘I had to talk to everyone who was in, but I only wanted to talk to Daddy.’
‘I see. So you talked to everyone?’
‘I had to talk to her. I don’t know why I have to talk to her. And Gemma.’
‘Gemma?’
‘Gemma’s her daughter, my stepsister. I don’t think Gemma wanted to talk to me either, but she put her on the phone.’
Lucy had a curled lip again and clearly didn’t like using the word stepsister any more than she liked the term stepmother. She told me her stepmum’s name was Wendy.
‘It’s not a very nice name, is it? Can we phone Granny now?’
‘OK, let’s go.’
The phone rang out for a long time.
‘Granny can’t move fast,’ Lucy said. ‘She has bad hips. You have to let it ring.’
Sure enough, Lucy’s gran eventually got to the phone. She was quietly spoken, polite and gentle-sounding, and extremely grateful.
‘Please call me Ivy, Mrs Hart,’ she said.
‘And please call me Angela. My husband is Jonathan.’
Ivy told me that she had the utmost respect for foster carers.
‘I fostered once myself, very briefly, in my younger days. I think it’s a marvellous service. I’m heartbroken I can’t take care of Lucy myself but it’s not the right thing for either of us. I’m just too old I’m afraid, and Lucy’s a handful, in a lovely way, of course, most of the time. She’s far better off with youngsters like you and your husband!’
I laughed and told Ivy we were in our forties and had been fostering for nearly a decade but she insisted we were still youngsters compared to her, and far better equipped to care for a lively and challenging eight-year-old.
I warmed to Ivy instantly. She sounded genuinely sorry she couldn’t take her granddaughter on full time and once again my heart went out to her. She had been put in an awful situation, and she clearly cared for Lucy very much. She told me Lucy had been with her for just a few days before she realised it was going to be impossible to care for her. The fact Lucy had no school place didn’t help, and Ivy confirmed that Lucy had missed approximately half a term of school since things went wrong at home. The two aunties she stayed with both lived some distance from her primary school and hadn’t taken her in, and of course Ivy lived a hundred miles away.
‘Don’t know what anyone was thinking,’ she said. ‘How was it going to work? I know
she’s my Noreen’s girl, but even so. It was never a good plan.’
I would have loved to find out more about Lucy’s mother but I couldn’t pry. Lucy was standing close by, looking at me in eager anticipation. I didn’t want to keep her waiting any longer, although I was intrigued about how the two aunties failed to send Lucy to school, and why Lucy’s birth mother was apparently out of the picture.
‘I think Lucy was bored stiff when she came to me,’ Ivy continued. ‘She likes to be busy. I imagine you’ve probably already seen that for yourself. She’s a good girl, I’m sure of that. I wish you the very best of luck.’
‘Thanks. I’m pleased to have spoken to you and I have a young lady here who is itching to talk to you. I’ll hand her over.’
Before I did so I gave Ivy our phone number.
‘Granny! Guess what? I’ve just spoken to Daddy!’
I walked out of the room and just as I went to close the door behind me I heard Lucy
excitedly telling her granny, ‘He said I’ll be able to go home soon!’
I hoped Lucy’s father hadn’t given her any false hopes. Nothing was decided yet about the length of her stay with us, but there was clearly work to be done to heal the rift in the family unit. Whatever happened it would be at least a couple of months before she went home, and that’s a long time to a young girl.
I wondered if Lucy would talk to me about the phone call with her daddy. Most children in her position wouldn’t, but somehow I felt Lucy might. However, she’d had an extremely busy day and said she was very tired, so I reminded her to clean her teeth before going to bed and I let her make her own way to her room.
As she climbed the stairs I said, ‘Night night, sweetheart.’
‘Night night Angela. I like it here. It’s a nice house and you’re kind. I can’t wait to go home. My house is nice too. Very nice. I miss Daddy.’
I think she must have fallen asleep almost immediately.

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