Autumn Skies over Ruby Falls by Holly Martin

Today I’m happy to be sharing my review for this lovely autumnal book. As you may remember, I shared my review for the first book in the Sapphire Bay series back in April 2020 and my review for Sunrise over Sapphire Bay can be read here https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/04/26/blogtour-bookreview-sunrise-over-sapphire-bay-by-holly-martin/

Synopsis:

Clover Philips is exactly where she’s meant to be – back home on Jewel Island teaching dance to the guests at the beautiful Sapphire Bay Hotel that she co-owns with her sisters Skye and Aria. Her life is complete, except for one thing…

When Clover left London she also left behind a devastating betrayal. She hasn’t been able to date anyone since, let alone allow herself to fall in love. What she needs is a casual fling to ease herself back into romance. And as luck would have it, the very handsome Angel Mazzeo is back in town.

The chemistry between Clover and Angel has been undeniable ever since Angel first arrived on Jewel Island six months ago. And though content to be her friend till now, Angel is more than willing to help Clover find her dating feet again.

It should be easy to keep things carefree when love is off the table, but when every moment is magical what started as casual soon becomes something much deeper. Will Clover and Angel find the courage to tell each other how they really feel? And is Clover ready to do the one thing she swore she’d never do again, fall in love?

Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Sarah Morgan and Sophie Kinsella, this unforgettable romance is guaranteed to make you smile and melt your heart.

My thoughts:

Having read Sunrise over Sapphire Bay back in April 2020, it was lovely to return to Jewel Island to visit the three sisters again.

This book is set during the autumn and is full of Halloween events, for the holiday makers and the locals. I thought that the romance in this book between Clover and Angel was lovely – both of them are looking to make changes in their lives but don’t want to spoil their friendship.

I did enjoy this book even more than book one – the characters have become more rounded and the hotel sounds more fun to visit now the refurbishments have taken place. In the year of 2020, when many of us have missed out on our holidays, this is the perfect book to take you on a virtual holiday.

I’m hoping there will be a sequel soon.

Holly Martin:

Holly lives in a little white cottage by the sea. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.

Holly has been writing for 8 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014. She is the bestselling author of 18 books

Follow her on Twitter @HollyMAuthor

The Wartime Nanny by Lizzie Page

Today I’m pleased to be sharing my review for the latest book by Lizzie Page (a new author to me). Thank you to Bookouture for a digital review copy – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

The Nazis are everywhere now. We must leave Vienna. It might be that soon our letters won’t get out anymore. Can you help, dear sister? Please, ask for us. Send news, and quickly. Please.

London, 1938. Sixteen-year-old Natalie Leeman takes the heart-breaking decision to leave her family behind in Vienna and travel to England to join her cousin Leah in service. Natalie is placed with a wealthy suburban family, the Caplins, as a nanny to their energetic six-year-old.

At first, Natalie is delighted by the huge house and beautiful gardens, but things aren’t as perfect as they seem. While Natalie dotes on their child, she is increasingly wary of Mr Caplin, whose gruff manor and fascist politics scare her. And then there are those still waiting at home – Mama and her two sisters, as well as a blossoming romance with her English tutor that had only just begun.

But when Vienna falls under Nazi rule, Natalie begins to fear for her family, especially her vivacious, tomboy little sister Libby. Then rumours of a possible escape route from mainland Europe called the kindertransport begin to swirl – can Natalie help her family escape the Nazis before it’s too late?

A heartbreaking wartime novel – emotional and unforgettable. Perfect for fans of The Alice NetworkThe Tattooist of Auschwitz and Before We Were Yours.

My thoughts:

Today I’m sharing my review for this historical fiction novel by Lizzie Page, a new author to me. Thank you to Bookouture for a digital review copy via NetGalley and for inviting me to join the blog tour.

As regular readers of my blog know, I enjoy reading books set during the first half of last century, a period I studied at school. I enjoyed The Wartime Nanny, a story following the life of Natalie, a young Austrian girl of Jewish descent, who moved to England to be a nanny to Hugo.

The story is primarily about Natalie’s relationships, those with her Austrian family and friends, her new employers (the Caplin family), the other staff employed by the Caplin’s and her cousin Leah, who has already moved to England. Natalie has to battle homesickness, prejudice and the misunderstandings that can arise when English isn’t your first language. As Natalie settles in, she starts to see that the situation in Austria is worsening for her family, and tries to help them flee the persecution of the Nazi’s. The story examines one of those questions I remember asking years ago when studying history – why didn’t more people leave Austria earlier?

Alongside all this Natalie has to deal with her employers, a couple who appear to have nothing in common, apart from their child Hugo. There are lots of twists and turns in this thought provoking, well written story and I will be looking to read more books by Lizzie Page in the future.

BUY LINKS:

 Amazon: https://geni.us/B089WHBTVJSocial

Apple: http://ow.ly/w91550A5Zef

Kobo: http://ow.ly/DQbi50A5ZcJ

Google: http://ow.ly/SGtT50A5Zhl

Author Bio:

Lizzie loves reading ALL the books and has always loved reading the adventures of women in the past so it seemed natural to her to write historical fiction.

She lives with her family by the sea in South East England. And with her dog. She enjoys travelling and lived in Japan for several years. Lizzie has had lots of different jobs from waitressing and teaching to admin and bingo-calling – but being a writer is her absolute favourite.

She’d love to hear what you think of her books – feel free to send her a message on twitter @LizziePagewrite or on FB or leave a review on Amazon.

Author Social Media Links: 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LizziePagewrite

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lizzie.page.75

View all my reviews

Longhand by Andy Hamilton

I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for the latest book by Andy Hamilton, published yesterday by Unbound, as part of the blog tour organised by Anne of Random Things Tours. Thank you to Unbound for a copy of the book, my views are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Malcolm George Galbraith is a large, somewhat clumsy, Scotsman. He’s being forced to leave the woman he loves behind and needs to explain why.

So he leaves her a handwritten note on the kitchen table (well, more a 300-page letter than a note). In it, Malcolm decides to start from the beginning and tell the whole story of his long life, something he’s never dared do before.

Because Malcolm isn’t what he seems: he’s had other names and lived in other places. A lot of other places. As it gathers pace, Malcolm’s story combines tragedy, comedy, mystery, a touch of leprosy, several murders, a massacre, a ritual sacrifice, an insane tyrant, two great romances, a landslide, a fire, and a talking fish.

• The new novel from comedy legend Andy Hamilton, whose writing credits include Outnumbered and Drop the Dead Donkey

  • Longhand reimagines the life of immortal Greek hero Heracles, who is currently residing in contemporary Scotland with his girlfriend Bess
  • Written entirely in Andy’s own longhand, complete with crossings out and edits

My thoughts:

Having enjoyed watching Outnumbered and Drop the Dead Donkey, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to read and review Andy Hamilton’s latest book. I loved the fact that when I opened the book, that the majority of it was handwritten by Andy Hamilton – such a unique idea in 2020.

As the global pandemic continued to dominate world news, this was the perfect book to escape into. The letter from Malcom to Bess, was a love letter to say farewell to Bess, who had been in one of his many lives, and to tell his story, from discovering he is a demi-god through to how he ended up living in Scotland.

I loved the storytelling, the humour, the reflections on past mistakes and the conversations with Zeus. Having enjoyed reading books by Rick Riordan, and having watched Doctor Who for many years, the whole story appealed to me. The reader is on a roller coaster journey following the boy through his exceptionally long life journey, as he enjoys triumphs and suffers tragedy.

The book encouraged me to think about historical events, family relationships, the need for people to believe in a god/religion. I have to be honest and say that I would probably not have discovered this book if it hadn’t been for the blog tour, and then I would have missed out on one of my favourite reads of 2020.

Author Bio:

Andy Hamilton is a comedy writer, performer and director. He regularly appears on the BBC TV panel shows Have I Got News for You and on Radio 4’s News Quiz and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue. His television writing credits include Outnumbered, Drop the Dead Donkey, Not the Nine O’Clock News, Trevor’s World of Sport, Ballot Monkeys, Power Monkeys and many others. He also co- created the movie What We Did On Our Holiday. For twenty years he has played Satan in the Radio 4 comedy Old Harry’s Game, which he also writes.

Not the Deaths Imagined by Anne Pettigrew

I’m pleased to be sharing my review for Not the Deaths Imagined by Anne Pettigrew today to kick off the blog tour organised by Emma at damppebbles for Ringwood Publishing. Thank you to the publisher for my digital review copy – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. This is the first book by Anne Pettigrew I have read.

Synopsis:

In a leafy Glasgow suburb, Dr Beth Semple is busy juggling motherhood and full-time GP work in the 90s NHS. But her life becomes even more problematic when she notices some odd deaths in her neighbourhood. Though Beth believes the stories don’t add up, the authorities remain stubbornly unconvinced.

Soon, Beth’s professional reputation is challenged. There follows a chilling campaign of harassment and she finds her professional reputation – and her family – are put at risk.

Is a charming local GP actually a serial killer? Can Beth piece together the jigsaw of perplexing fatalities and perhaps save lives? And as events accelerate towards a dramatic conclusion, will the police intervene in time?

From the author of Not the Life Imagined, this slow-burning tartan noir novel from a Bloody Scotland Crime Spotlight author follows Beth on another quest for justice. Reflecting Pettigrew’s own medical expertise, Not The Deaths Imagined re-affirms the benefits of growing up in a loving family and the need for friends in hard times, while offering insight into the twisted development of a psychopathic mind.

My thoughts:

As I said at the start of the blog post, this is the first book I’ve read by Anne Pettigrew and I hadn’t realised that a previous book (Not the Life Imagined) would introduce many of the characters. I was able to read this without reading the previous book, but if you have the opportunity, you may prefer to read them in the correct order.

The main character Beth, is a busy GP and mother, who cares deeply about her patients, family and friends. Sadly, another local doctor, cares more about his image, lining his pockets with ill gotten gains and helping speed up the death of elderly, well to do, patients.

The book is set in the 1990’s and for those of us old enough to remember, a British GP was convicted of being a serial killer during this decade. As a former GP, Anne shows us, just how easy it was for a devious GP to take advantage of the patients and get away with committing ‘perfect’ murders for long periods of time. However this isn’t a non fiction book about that case, but a well written crime fiction novel primarily about the medical profession, with plenty of twists and turns, family dramas, a dog called Winston and lots of delicious sounding meals.

The suspense of the story built nicely, and I found myself getting frustrated at being interrupted when I was reading the book. For the final chapters, I hid myself away from the family, so I could enjoy the story fully. This is a no spoiler review, so I will just say that I enjoyed the end of the story and was holding my breath in a few places as the tension peaked.

I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more in the future from Anne Pettigrew.

Author Bio:

A graduate of Glasgow (Medicine) and Wolfson College, Oxford (Anthropology), Anne Pettigrew has been a GP, worked in psychiatry, family planning/sexual health, lecturing, patient/women doctors pressure groups, BMA Media relations, Homeopathy, acupuncture, an EEC Committee, book reviewing and journalism (medico-political and humorous articles to The Herald, Doctor newspaper etc: a Channel 4 Despatches). Retiring from practice, she became a wedding planner for a charity theatre, before starting Creative Writing classes and mentoring at Glasgow University. She is now a member of Garnethill critical writer’s forum and has won short story and article trophies in Greenock Writer’s Club. Not the life Imagined was runner up in the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable Silver Stag Award 2018. The book was originally called No Sinecure, a title abandoned as no one under 35 in any class or group she joined knew what ‘sinecure’ meant (though some suggested it was apt, the book featuring ‘sin’ in those who ‘cure!’) Two more books are underway. Anne has two grown up children and lives with her husband in North Ayrshire.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pettigrew_anne

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annepettigrewauthor/

Website: https://annepettigrew.co.uk/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/anne.pettigrew.author/

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3hGmFOF

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2EQdPit

Waterstones: https://bit.ly/3b8eVCk

Ringwood Publishing: https://bit.ly/2EQCMe0

Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe by Jessica Redland


Thank you to Boldwood Books for the digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. This book is being published today in ebook format.

Synopsis:

A few minutes of courage might change your life… 

Emotionally, Tara Porter finds the festive period a challenge. Christmas Day is a reminder of the family she lost, and New Year’s Eve holds bitter memories of the biggest mistake of her life: marrying Garth Tewkesbury. Shunning invitations to celebrate, she seeks refuge in her flat with only her giant house bunny, Hercules, for company. 

Professionally, though, it’s the best time of year. Tara’s thriving café, The Chocolate Pot, is always packed. With the café hosting a wedding and engagement party, it’s shaping up to be the café’s best Christmas ever. 

When former nemesis, Jed Ferguson, threatens the future of The Chocolate Pot, Tara prepares for a fight. The café is everything to her and she’s not going to let anyone or anything jeopardise that. 

Tara badly misjudged ex-husband Garth and, since then, has refused to let anyone in. After all, if you don’t let them in, they can’t hurt you. But has she misjudged Jed too? Is it possible that he’s not the arrogant, deceitful man from whom she bought the café 14 years earlier? Can she find the courage to find out for sure?

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Jessica Redland and I thoroughly enjoyed it. However I did find myself craving for a hot chocolate and some freshly baked chocolate brownies in the middle of the August 2020 UK heatwave.

Great characters, a wonderful setting (I wanted to move into the cafe), a large house rabbit called Hercules and a young woman called Tara who needs to take some steps forward to start living her life again.

I’m happy to recommend this uplifting book – full of new beginnings, romance and cake.






View all my reviews

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my no spoiler review for the latest book by Steve Cavanagh, published on 3rd September 2020 and now a Richard and Judy BookClub pick. Thank you to Orion Publishing for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Two sisters on trial for murder. They accuse each other.
Who do YOU believe?

‘911 what’s your emergency?’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Sofia killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

‘My dad’s dead. My sister Alexandra killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

One of them is a liar and a killer.

But which one?

Alexandra Avellino has just found her father’s mutilated body, and needs the police right away. She believes her sister killed him, and that she is still in the house with a knife. 

Sofia Avellino has just found her father’s mutilated body and needs the police right away. She believes her sister, Alexandra did it, and that she is still in the house, locked in the bathroom. 

Both women are to go on trial at the same time. A joint trial in front of one jury. 

But one of these women is lying. One of them is a murderer. Sitting in a jail cell, about to go on trial with her sister for murder, you might think that this is the last place she expected to be. 

You’d be wrong.

My thoughts:

So I’m starting this review with a couple of confessions. Firstly, I hadn’t heard of Steve Cavanagh or the Eddie Flynn series until I started reading the digital proof copy. I also hadn’t requested the digital proof copy, but had shared a post about it to fellow book bloggers, and then had a copy sent to me via NetGalley.

However, I started seeing great reviews, so decided to put my blog tour books to one side and travel to New York to find out more. As a British Law graduate, I’m always fascinated by how different our legal system is to that in the USA. Twenty plus years ago I enjoyed reading John Grisham books, now I’ve discovered the storytelling of Steve Cavanagh.

I will now need to go back to read the earlier Eddie Flynn novels, but was able to catch up quickly on the story and read this without having read the previous books. Eddie is a great character, a lawyer with lots of contacts in unusual places, who wants to stop innocent people going to prison.

The story kept me guessing until the end, would it be Sofia or Alexandra (or both) who killed their father. Alongside this rollercoaster ride, we also have a sexism in the workplace storyline.

With an excellent storyline and superb storytelling, this is one of my 5 star reads of 2020.

Author Bio:

Steve Cavanagh is a critically acclaimed, best-selling, award-winning author of the Eddie Flynn series. His third novel, The Liar, won the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the year 2018. He is also one half of the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. His latest novel, Twisted, is out now and is a Sunday Times Bestseller. 

The Eddie Flynn series can be read in any order, but the list in full in order of publication is as follows: 
The Defence
The Cross (ebook exclusive novella)
The Plea
The Liar
Thirteen

Standalone books – Twisted. 

Find out more at http://www.stevecavanagh.com or follow Steve on Twitter @SSCav

Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage by Lucy Coleman

I’m pleased to be sharing my review for the latest book by Lucy Coleman. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may remember that that I reviewed A Summer in Provence by Lucy in April and June 2020 (can be read at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/06/27/summer-in-provence-by-lucy-coleman/). Thank you to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join the blog tour and to Boldwood Books for a digital proof copy of the book.

Synopsis:

Imogen Tolliman never knew her mother. And when an accident robs Immi of her father too, she goes to live with her grandfather, Tollie, in his picturesque lock-keeper’s cottage by the Aysbury marina. 

Tollie is the star of the Santa Ahoy Special each Christmas – a festive boat ride along the canal that enthralls both children and adults alike. And as Immi grows up, she starts to appreciate the magical community she is lucky enough to live in. 

When Immi meets Gray Adams, she instantly realises he’s someone special. And as their relationship gets serious, they start to plan for the Christmas to beat all Christmases. 

But as the day approaches, and the romantic snow showers turn into blizzards, their dream of a Christmas to remember, looks set to be one they’ll never forget – for all the wrong reasons. Can they salvage the festivities, or will old secrets that are finally uncovered turn Immi’s life upside down forever?

Let Lucy Coleman transport you away to a dreamy Cotswolds Christmas full of snowflakes and secretslog fires, mistletoe, friends and much-loved traditions. Perfect for all fans of Trisha Ashley, Holly Martin and Sue Moorcroft.

My thoughts:

This is my first Christmas themed book to read and review in 2020. The setting sounded lovely – a rural area, with a marina and a community that takes care of friends and family.

My favourite parts of the book included the Santa Ahoy cruises – as my own children are teenagers now, I miss the magic of the young people when they believe in Santa, and Immi battling with a huge turkey, trying to fit it into her fridge, plus all the other Christmas food.

Immi and Gray are looking forward to spending Christmas together, after a year of changes. The story introduces us to their friends and families as the countdown to Christmas begins. Immi wants to create a perfect Christmas Day but events conspire to change everything. She also has secrets to discover which may alter everything.

This isn’t a ‘light and fluffy’ Christmas book, it is about a young woman trying to find happiness for herself whilst putting others first. A thoughtful and well written story, and a different feel to A Summer in Provence.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3fGdGvu

Author Bio:

Lucy Coleman is a #1 bestselling romance writer, whose recent novels include Snowflakes over Holly Cove. She also writes under the name Linn B. Halton. She won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award and lives in the Welsh Valleys.

Social Media Links – 

https://www.facebook.com/LucyColemanAuthor

https://www.instagram.com/lucycolemanauthor

lucycolemanromance.com

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/lucy-coleman

http://bit.ly/LucyColemanNewsletter

Nothin’ But A Good Time by Justin Quirk – Extract from the book.

Today I’m sharing an extract from this fascinating new book. Thank you to Unbound for a copy of the paperback in return for an honest review – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. Thank you to Anne of Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the blog tour. I will also be sharing an extract from the book later today.

Thank you to Justin Quirk for supplying a Spotify playlist to listen to alongside the book at https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3JG9tQCecG2iA25DD5Seax?si=PgT_eDGQSye1ZKEDiRzSSw. I’m listening to it whilst writing my review.

Synopsis:

From 1983 until 1991, Glam Metal was the sound of American culture. Big hair, massive amplifiers, drugs, alcohol, piles of money and life-threatening pyrotechnics. This was the world stalked by Bon Jovi, Kiss, W.A.S.P., Skid Row, Dokken, Motley Crue, Cinderella, Ratt and many more. Armed with hairspray, spandex and strangely shaped guitars, they marked the last great era of supersize bands.

Where did Glam Metal come from? How did it spread? What killed it off? And why does nobody admit to having been a Glam Metaller anymore?

Extract:

In the last week of August 2014, a Californian musician uploaded a six-minute long video to Youtube, showing himself taking part in the Ice Bucket Challenge – not so unusual in itself, with 2.4million-and-counting of these charitable enterprises online around that time. However, this Ice Bucket Challenge was different: firstly, the man had bags of ice balanced on his head and in his crotch rather than being poured over him; secondly, rather than passing the challenge on to his friends and family, he called out (‘while my jewels freeze’) three of his high profile colleagues – Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth and John Meyer; and finally, he communicated each word of his speech in blinks, painstakingly spelling out one letter at a time via an interpreter, while he sat motionless in a wheelchair.

Once touted as potentially the best metal guitarist on earth, 45-year-old Jason Becker has spent the best part of the last 18 years completely paralysed, since being diagnosed with ALS when he was on the verge of rock megastardom. But in that time he has not only defied medical wisdom by staying healthy and alive, he has also continued to compose and create his own astonishing music, been the subject of an award-winning documentary and helped to invent a communication system which has revolutionised the lives of other patients like him worldwide.

Despite being confined to a chair and unable to physicall perform, his public existence largely limited to a Twitter profile and sporadic musical releases, his influence continues: in 2012, Guitar Player magazine named him as ‘the greatest shredder ever’; in 2014, Seymour Duncan released his signature model pickup with Carvin following up with a signature line of guitars in 2015. And both fundraising gigs and a documentary about Becker’s life have taken place under a title you could only hope to find in the blackly comic world of heavy metal: Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet.

Since 1995, Jason Becker has released four albums. Not exactly a punishing workrate for a regular artist, but Becker’s life, composing and recording techniques are very far from normal. Since ALS paralysed his body, he has continued to create music, moving away from the pyrotechnic, lightning-fast metal of his youth to more textured, complicated pieces, often instrumental, sometimes with layered, treated voices giving the work an ethereal, hypnotic feel. 

In the last week of August 2014, a Californian musician uploaded a six-minute long video to Youtube, showing himself taking part in the Ice Bucket Challenge – not so unusual in itself, with 2.4million-and-counting of these charitable enterprises online around that time. However, this Ice Bucket Challenge was different: firstly, the man had bags of ice balanced on his head and in his crotch rather than being poured over him; secondly, rather than passing the challenge on to his friends and family, he called out (‘while my jewels freeze’) three of his high profile colleagues – Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth and John Meyer; and finally, he communicated each word of his speech in blinks, painstakingly spelling out one letter at a time via an interpreter, while he sat motionless in a wheelchair.

Once touted as potentially the best metal guitarist on earth, 45-year-old Jason Becker has spent the best part of the last 18 years completely paralysed, since being diagnosed with ALS when he was on the verge of rock megastardom. But in that time he has not only defied medical wisdom by staying healthy and alive, he has also continued to compose and create his own astonishing music, been the subject of an award-winning documentary and helped to invent a communication system which has revolutionised the lives of other patients like him worldwide.

Despite being confined to a chair and unable to physicall perform, his public existence largely limited to a Twitter profile and sporadic musical releases, his influence continues: in 2012, Guitar Player magazine named him as ‘the greatest shredder ever’; in 2014, Seymour Duncan released his signature model pickup with Carvin following up with a signature line of guitars in 2015. And both fundraising gigs and a documentary about Becker’s life have taken place under a title you could only hope to find in the blackly comic world of heavy metal: Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet.

Since 1995, Jason Becker has released four albums. Not exactly a punishing workrate for a regular artist, but Becker’s life, composing and recording techniques are very far from normal. Since ALS paralysed his body, he has continued to create music, moving away from the pyrotechnic, lightning-fast metal of his youth to more textured, complicated pieces, often instrumental, sometimes with layered, treated voices giving the work an ethereal, hypnotic feel. 

Soon after Becker’s paralysis, his friend Mike Bemesderfer devised a software programme connected to a visor-mounted sensor. Becker could click a virtual keyboard by moving his chin, altering the velocity of each note and gradually, painstakingly assembling them into entire pieces of music. His album Perspective was the result of this exhausting process, with his epic ten-minute composition, End of The Beginning going on to be performed by the Oakland Symphony Orchestra and the Diablo Ballet in 1999. On its release, Eddie Van Halen appeared on video with the immobilised Becker to describe him as having been ‘just one of the best rock and roll guitarists on the planet.’ The understandable sense among viewers was that in Becker they were watching a man who was living on borrowed time.

To view the other reviews on the blog tour this week, check out the following blogs:

Author Bio:

Justin Quirk is a writer and editor based in London. Since starting his career at the Guardian, he has written for titles including i-DDazed and Confused,Kerrang!QWord, the IndependentThe Sunday TimesArena and Esquire. He has also worked as a curator, DJ and creative director and regularly appears on the BBC World Service discussing culture and current affairs. He lives in London.

PAPERBACK

978-1-78965-135-5
320 pages
198 × 129 mm
3 September 2020 £10.99 / $14.99 / €11.66

EBOOK

978-1-78965-136-2 ePub
3 September 2020 £5.99 / $7.99 / €6.66

Nothin’ But A Good Time by Justin Quirk

Today I’m sharing my review for this fascinating new book, looking at the emergence and then rapid decline of Glam Metal. Thank you to Unbound for a copy of the paperback in return for an honest review – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. Thank you to Anne of Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the blog tour. I will also be sharing an extract from the book later today.

Thank you to Justin Quirk for supplying a Spotify playlist to listen to alongside the book at https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3JG9tQCecG2iA25DD5Seax?si=PgT_eDGQSye1ZKEDiRzSSw. I’m listening to it whilst writing my review.

Synopsis:

From 1983 until 1991, Glam Metal was the sound of American culture. Big hair, massive amplifiers, drugs, alcohol, piles of money and life-threatening pyrotechnics. This was the world stalked by Bon Jovi, Kiss, W.A.S.P., Skid Row, Dokken, Motley Crue, Cinderella, Ratt and many more. Armed with hairspray, spandex and strangely shaped guitars, they marked the last great era of supersize bands.

Where did Glam Metal come from? How did it spread? What killed it off? And why does nobody admit to having been a Glam Metaller anymore?

My thoughts:

I must admit that I don’t remember the rise of Glam Metal – in 1983 I was too busy listening to Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Human League. However by the late Eighties my tastes in music had expanded, as friends recommended bands and albums, and I enjoyed listening to the Hysteria album by local band Def Leppard.

This book was a fascinating read – full of statistical information but also lots of ‘human interest’ stories – the highs and lows of the bands, the personalities and the problems they faced. The story is told in chronological date order and includes many quotes from the bands during the era (or more recently).

I must admit that I hadn’t heard of some of the bands, but the majority were familiar. The Spotify playlist is helping me find out more about the earlier tracks and bands, and to enjoy the music of the late Eighties again.

A must read book for anyone who enjoyed listening to this genre of music – maybe to be given for Christmas 2020 with a can of extra strong hairspray, spandex and a denim jacket. The only thing missing from the book, in my humble opinion, was some photographs of the bands so that younger readers could appreciate the ‘look’.

To view the other reviews on the blog tour this week, check out the following blogs:

Author Bio:

Justin Quirk is a writer and editor based in London. Since starting his career at the Guardian, he has written for titles including i-DDazed and Confused,Kerrang!QWord, the IndependentThe Sunday TimesArena and Esquire. He has also worked as a curator, DJ and creative director and regularly appears on the BBC World Service discussing culture and current affairs. He lives in London.

PAPERBACK

978-1-78965-135-5
320 pages
198 × 129 mm
3 September 2020 £10.99 / $14.99 / €11.66

EBOOK

978-1-78965-136-2 ePub
3 September 2020 £5.99 / $7.99 / €6.66

A Year at Appleyard Farm by Emma Davies

Today I’m pleased to share my five star review for this gorgeous romance novel by a new author to me. Thank you to Bookouture for a digital review copy via NetGalley, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the free copy. The book is being published in the UK today.

Synopsis:

Down a winding lane lined with strawberry trees and wildflowers lies Appleyard Farm, a beautiful orchard in the English countryside. And in a little farmhouse in the furthest corner, a young woman has a difficult decision to make…

Life on Appleyard Farm is all Freya Sherbourne has ever known. Having spent her childhood playing in the emerald green meadows and berry picking until sunset, Freya intends to call the farmhouse home forever. But when her father suddenly passes away and Appleyard Farm goes up for sale, Freya’s world comes crashing down.

Holding back the tears, she starts packing boxes while waiting for a buyer. Now the river no longer sparkles, and the apples taste a little less sweet. Until Freya learns the exciting news that her best friends Merry and Willow are moving nearby to open a local shop. And when someone from her past re-emerges, handsomer than ever and offering to mend the cracks in her broken heart, Freya’s eyes begin to twinkle once again.

But falling in love is scary, especially when you don’t know what the future holds. And when Freya discovers that her new love has been keeping a secret, one that threatens both their fragile relationship and the farm, she risks losing everything.

With the clock ticking, will Freya choose to follow her heart or save the farm? Or can she find a way to do both?

Told in four parts, this is a gorgeous story about love, friendship and new beginnings. Fans of Jenny Colgan, Lucy Diamond and Debbie Johnson should grab a cup of hot chocolate, curl up on the sofa and prepare to be carried away!

A Year at Appleyard Farm was previously published as four short stories: Merry Mistletoe, Spring Fever, Gooseberry Fool, and Blackberry Way.

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

My thoughts:

After reading some dark thrillers and historical fiction novels recently, I needed to find something to make me smile and this book certainly did that.

As I said above, I haven’t read any books by Emma Davies before, but I will be looking out for them in the future. This book was originally published as four novellas – each set in a different season of the year but always linked to Appleyard Farm and Freya.

The four sections all feature different stories but link together perfectly. For the main characters, this is a year of huge changes in relationships, jobs and homes. Some need to let go of their past, whilst others need to help them. The book is all about friendships and leaves the reader feeling warm inside. I loved the development of the characters, especially Freya and Laura. Emma Davies brought the Somerset area and the characters (including a large dog) to life beautifully for me.

A 5 star read for me – this was a virtual hug in a book, perfect for an autumn evening snuggled up with a dog and a hot chocolate.