Friday, 15 April 2016

"Wonder Cruise" by Ursula Bloom - Plus Guest blog post - My holiday read

Those who know me really well, know I love two things a lot (apart from My Husband and my cats), books and holidays! Well I am off on a road trip of the USA in a few days time and I wanted a travel inspired book to read that was nice and light hearted, to read on the plane. Who better to offer me a great read other than Ursula Bloom. This is her new book, Wonder Cruise, released on the 15th April. She was kind enough to do a blog post feature for me too. I'll be reviewing the book when I'm home and doing a blog post about my holiday. I am a bookalicious traveladdict after all. Please take a read ........

Wonder Cruise by Ursula Bloom
A witty, heartwarming read with great romantic and comic characters. This warm, feel-good tale will make you smile, and you’ll be rooting for Ann to find lasting love and happiness. A moving portrait of an unforgettable 1930’s woman; Ann Clements will stay with you long after the last page.

Ann Clements is thirty-five and single, and believes nothing exciting will ever happen to her. Then, she wins a large sum of money in a sweepstake and suddenly can dare to dream of a more adventurous life. She buys a ticket for a Mediterranean cruise, against the wishes of her stern brother, the Rev. Cuthbert, who has other ideas about how she should spend her windfall. Ann steps out of the shadows of her mundane life into the heat of the Mediterranean sun. Travelling to Gibraltar, Marseilles, Naples, Malta and Venice, Ann’s eyes are opened to people and experiences far removed from her sheltered existence in the offices at Henrietta Street, and Mrs. Puddock’s lodging house. As Ann blossoms, discovering love and passion for the very first time, the biggest question is, can there be any going back?

‘Brightly told and very readable.’ Woman’s Journal

‘… with every book she adds something to her reputation … related with all Miss Bloom’s liveliness and easy skill.’ Daily Telegraph

‘Ursula Bloom writes in a delightful way, with a deep understanding of human nature and a quick eye for the humorous things in life. Wonder Cruise … is one of the most entertaining novels we have read for a long time.’ Cambridge Daily News

‘Vividly entrancing.’ Scotsman

‘She has always been able to tell a story … Miss Bloom is to be heartily congratulated.’ Everyman


You and Your Holiday by Ursula Bloom

One of the most annoying things in this life is that other people always return from their holidays declaring that they have spent quite the most marvellous time, and you yourself always seem to get landed with a tragic failure! Either these people are luckier than you are (which I beg to doubt) or they are more untruthful. Nobody likes to confess to the failure of a holiday; everybody likes to brag about the fun it has been and the wild success of that glorious fortnight. But they are not essentially truthful.
If you are honest, then you can probably only admit to one really marvellous holiday in your whole

life. I am not including the ones of your childhood when naturally they were always glorious and always a success. You need more as you grow older, for your standards are higher. I can only produce one truly marvellous holiday (a cruise to Norway in S.S. Orontes), and that is being honest. It hardly seems the qualification for writing this, when you come to think about it, but it is because I feel the tragedy of all those misspent holidays that I’ve got to do something about it.

So here we are!

We look forward to the precious holiday of a fortnight for weeks; we talk about it for weeks afterwards, trying to lend it some of the brightness it never really had, but when we look into our own hearts, most of us have to admit that the whole thing fell very far short of expectation.

And why?

Possibly we approached that holiday without giving it due consideration and forethought. I am convinced that the really entrancing holiday does not drop into your lap by accident; it has to be well planned. Possibly the venture was ruined because, although the place was well chosen and the weather propitious, loneliness crept into the picture, and loneliness in itself will ruin any venture of any kind, and anywhere. Or it may have been the right place but at the wrong time of year, and you went on the recommendation of a friend who had enjoyed it enormously, but had gone at the right time, which you never took into account.

Are you surprised when you really come to think about it? Of course you can’t be.

The key to a successful holiday is to know what you are seeking, and what you expect to get from it. The attitude of “ Really, I don’t mind where I go, or what I do, as long as it is a good holiday,” is quite a fatal one. Here is a questionnaire to help you, and I suggest that you are scrupulously truthful in your replies to each question, because those replies are the stepping stones to a really good time.

What do you actually want?

    Do you want a rest?
    A lively and well-entertained time?
    Do you want complete relaxation and peace?
    Are you seeking lovely scenery?
    Bracing air?
    Relaxing air?
    Do you want to meet a lot of new young friends?
    Or are you seeking older people?
    Do you want golf and tennis?
    Just a country holiday with games?
    Pleasant single companionship?
    Or a love affair?

The point is that you will never get what you want unless you know what you want. Decide upon your essential need, because if you blind yourself to this, calamity has already overtaken your holiday and it may be utterly ruined from the outset.

So many people go away for a holiday, forgetful of the fact that change of conditions and climate can wreak havoc with the tummy, which immediately refuses to behave. They then fly to the other extreme and make themselves ill with dosing. Never take immediate strenuous exercise if used to a sedentary life, work up slowly to it.

Provided that you have made proper plans, and are taking the holiday seriously, it ought to be the happiest you have ever had.

I hope so.

Ursula Bloom
Bestselling author Ursula Bloom wrote over 500 books (her first when she was only 7 years old), a feat which earned her a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. She also wrote short stories, and radio and stage plays. Ursula was chief crime reporter for a national newspaper at a time when few women worked as Fleet Street journalists, and was also the agony aunt for a weekly magazine, and beauty editor for Woman's Own! Her books are now being reissued in paperback, and published as ebooks for the first time, starting with her witty holiday romance "Wonder Cruise". Ann Clements leaves behind her dull life to take a Mediterranean cruise, where she discovers more about life, love and herself.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

BOOK REVIEW - Murder Ring by Leigh Russell - Crime Thriller

TITLE - Murder Ring

AUTHOR - Leigh Russell

GENRE - Crime/Mystery

FORMATS - Kindle Version - Click here
                      Pre-Order Paperback version - Click here


The dead body of unassuming David Lester, returning home after a night out, is discovered in a dark side-street and DI Geraldine Steel is plunged into another murder investigation. The clues mount up along with the suspects, but with the death of another man in explicable circumstances, the case becomes increasingly complex. As Geraldine investigates the seemingly unrelated crimes, she makes a shocking discovery about her birth Mother. 


Well once again, Leigh Russell did not disappoint.  I have been a fan of her books ever since she released Cut Short. There is nothing like a good police procedural, and this book was just that. 

The story starts with David Lester, on his way home after a works night out. He is murdered and left in a side street near to the pub. DI Geraldine Steel heads up the case as usual and sets about trying to piece together what happened. Just when she thinks she has her suspect, another murder takes place. 

I like how the book shows the developing relationships between the staff at the station, after they suffered a recent loss of one of their own. Although this is a continuing series with Geraldine Steel as the main character, you will be fine reading this book as a standalone. I do recommend though that you try all her other books too, and read them in order if you can. 

There were so many suspects in the book that it kept you changing your mind on who actually committed the crimes. Was there one killer or two. Who knows? You only actually find out within the last 10 pages which is what I like about a book. I don't like discovering who it was early on. 

The other thing I love about Leigh Russell's books are the short chapters in each book. To me, and each reader is different, I love them because I can follow each character easier, without reading long laborious chapters, and then forgetting who the character is and where they fit in, when you finally meet them five chapters later. 

Her research into the police procedures has obviously been done well, and I am always very critical in this area. 

Again, a great story, and well worth a read. Leigh Russell has now become one of my favourite authors in Police Procedurals. 


Hailed as 'a brilliant talent' by Jeffery Deaver and 'a deeply human voice' by Peter James, Leigh Russell writes the internationally bestselling Geraldine Steel series of psychological crime thrillers.

As well as receiving rave reviews on numerous renowned sites like Crime TimeCrimesquad and Eurocrime, her books have attracted glowing reviews in journals as diverse as The TimesThe New York Journal of Books and Star Magazine, to name just a few. 

CUT SHORT was shortlisted for a CWA Dagger Award for Best First Crime Novel. The series reached Number 1 on kindle for female sleuths, Top 50 Bestsellers List on kindle, Top 50 Bestsellers Chart for WH Smith's Travel, Top Reads list on Eurocrime, Best Fiction Books of 2012 Chart in the Miami Examiner, and Best Crime Fiction Books in a poll on Crime Time. Geraldine Steel is a Great Crime Sleuth on Lovereading.

As well as continuing the bestselling Geraldine Steel series, Leigh has written a spin off series featuring Geraldine's popular colleague Ian Peterson. The first of these was published in 2013.

Catch up with Leigh on her WebsiteGeraldine Steel Facebook PageYouTube page

SHOWCASE - The Dead Dog Day by Jackie Kabler - Thrilling Crime Debut

Thrilling crime debut from top TV broadcaster Jackie Kabler

The Dead Dog Day is the debut novel from successful broadcaster and former GMTV reporter Jackie Kabler published on 22nd October 2015. 

It follows the story of breakfast TV journalist Cora Baxter, and a race against time to stop a killer from striking again.

“Jackie has real insider knowledge and it shows. A proper page-turning thriller. I couldn't put it down.” Lorraine Kelly

When your Monday morning begins with a dead dog at 4 a.m. and a dead boss by ten, you know it’s going to be one of those days. And breakfast TV reporter Cora Baxter has already had the weekend from hell, after the man she was planning a fabulous future with unceremoniously dumped her.

Now Cora’s much-hated boss has been murdered, and Cora is assigned to cover the story for the breakfast show – but as the murder enquiry continues, the trail of suspects leads frighteningly close to home. Why is Cora’s arch-rival, glamorous, bitchy newsreader Alice Lomas, so devastated by their boss’s death? What dark secret is one of her camera crew hiding? And why has her now-ex-boyfriend vanished? The race to stop the killer striking again is on...


This novel is the first book in a new series, and she draws on her experiences of the glamorous world of television, as well as her long-standing love for crime fiction.  A popular broadcaster turned author, Jackie is now a presenter on QVC, and as well as a decade on GMTV, has also worked for BBC News, ITV News and Setanta Sports News.

“A twenty-year career in news during which I covered hundreds of major crime stories has given me a wealth of material to draw on for my novels. Aside from the actual murders, everything else that happens in this book actually happened to me as a breakfast TV reporter - with minor details changed to protect identities, of course...", says Jackie Kabler.

You can buy the book via Amazon UK by clicking here.


Friday, 11 March 2016

SHOWCASE - Eyeshine by Cy Wyss - Cozy Mystery - Including Giveaway!

Eyeshine by Cy Wyss


by Cy Wyss

on Tour March 1-31, 2016

PJ Taylor is a reporter with a difference. Each night she turns into a black tabby cat from sundown to sunup. In this first adventure, follow PJ as she chases thieves, drug dealers, and even a murderer. Will PJ solve the mysterious drowning death of cantankerous old coot Chip Greene? Or will a local special needs boy end up taking the blame? Be prepared for twists and turns along the way as PJ applies all her feline senses to this diabolical situation.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery Published by: Nighttime Dog Press, LLC Publication Date: November 2015 Number of Pages: 200 ASIN: B017WD3WWU Purchase Links: Amazon Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

People called Brooke Annabeth Taylor “PJ,” which stood not for pajamas but for Peeping Jane. She’d been a photographer and reporter for as long as the town could remember—at least since grade school—and her reportage was known for the most candid and impossible photos, like Peter Parker’s but from nearer the ground. Her job was made more difficult by her moniker because once people found out what it was, they shied away and wouldn’t tell her the secrets that are a reporter’s stock-in-trade. As she got older, it got harder and harder to convince anyone to give her a story. Now, at thirty, she was no longer “kitten cute” and able to wile her way easily into subjects’ confidence. Still, she managed to find a way.
With her penetrating amber eyes and easy smile, people found her disarming. She loved her relationship as a freelance reporter with the town’s paper, and all the vagaries that life entails, such as being a night owl and an absolute bulldog for the truth. If she could have chosen her own moniker, it would have likely combined these: Owl Dog. It was particularly inappropriate, however, because she turned not into a bird or canine every night, but into a cat.
She had been a black tabby from sundown to sunup since shortly after puberty. She often wondered why other people didn’t morph into alternate beings for the dark hours, but was admonished very early on by a loving mother to never, never, ever speak a word of it to anyone. PJ liked to think that was because her mother had a similar power and had suffered, but it could have been due solely to the woman’s intelligence and sense of practicality.
PJ’s father had died when she was ten. The man was a scientist, an absent-minded chemist, and PJ was of two minds about his awareness. On the one hand, his cleverness meant surely he wouldn’t have been fooled by a mere wife, no matter how adept at deception; on the other hand, his absentmindedness meant sometimes he forgot to wear shoes. So it wasn’t a stretch to think he might have no inkling about the bizarreness of his wife or daughter.
At sixteen, with PJ in limbo between childhood and womanhood, her mother suffered a tragic and debilitating stroke that took her life within months. PJ then moved in with her much older brother and his family. By then, she had become as adept as her mother at hiding her talent, in spite of the fact her brother was an FBI agent by that time, at twenty-nine, and extraordinarily difficult to deceive. It helped that after he witnessed firsthand the transformation from girl to cat, he immediately went into a long-lasting shock that consisted of utter denial. Instead of considering how her unique power could assist him in his life of crime fighting, he grounded her for a month and kept her largely confined to her room, especially after sundown.
PJ forgave Robert for locking her up, only because of her natural optimism and sense of personal grandeur. Honestly, grudges were beneath her, as were most things mere mono-modal humans did. She focused on her schoolwork and got all A’s that semester. Much later she discovered her brother had to take a polygraph test every year he was employed with the all-knowing government agency. PJ realized Robert had so thoroughly put the image of his sister becoming a black tabby cat out of his mind that he had convinced himself it wasn’t even a hallucination—it simply hadn’t existed at all. There’s no need to lie if you’re a true believer, and that was the most effective path for a forced deceiver. So PJ kept her secret, and Robert kept his job.
Fourteen years later, PJ was irrevocably known as Peeping Jane and Robert had traveled the country and come back in his forties to set up a one-man field office in Mayhap, Indiana. One day, PJ was out with her best friends Clara Goodwind and Vicky Donnerweise at the Mayhap Spring Festival when the sun dipped low on the horizon, threatening to bring the stars closer and the day to an end.
“PJ, why do you always leave just when things are getting interesting?” Clara said.
She was a buxom woman with big hazel eyes and bright red hair. Her wardrobe favored items with cats in evidence or implied by pithy sayings, such as “Meow Happens,” which her pink tube top currently sported. The woman was Taft County’s prime cat rescuer, with a warren of dedicated chicken-wire pens covering her backyard and a full-time feeding schedule. When she wasn’t volunteering at the county’s humane shelter, she was ensconced in a network of gossips centered at the Mayhap Memorial Library. Clara was an assistant librarian but party to all the good stories the town could provide. PJ found her an invaluable source. If it happened, or was going to happen, Clara knew about it and would talk.
Vicky stood with arms akimbo and watched PJ inhale an elephant ear. She was a striking woman with hair even blacker than PJ’s and blue eyes where PJ’s were yellow. Vicky was tall and muscular, like a man, but lither and hourglass-shaped inside the bulky kit she wore for law enforcement. She was one of Taft County’s deputies, second in their force only to Sheriff Curtis Denning, whom she happened to be married to.
“Land’s sake, PJ, how do you eat like that? You know I’m active all day, but I can’t eat three of those things without being ten pounds fatter tomorrow. Do you just stay up all night on the treadmill or what?”
A loud cry of enjoyment crescendoed from the fairway before PJ could answer, which was just as well since her mouth was filled with fried dough and she wouldn’t have gotten more than a grunt or two out. She didn’t have the heart to enlighten her friend. Every night, indeed, she ran the treadmill of being feline. She wandered miles in the summertime, searched every nook and cranny of the county, chased rodents and vermin, and napped only fitfully and with one eye open under the shifting moon.
She popped the last of the ear into her mouth and said, “It’s genetics. Some people are luckier than others.”
Vicky and Clara groaned.
Clara adjusted her pink-rimmed glasses and slurped her sno-cone. “At least I managed to keep myself to just one Devil Dog. And sno-cones have no calories after noon—everyone knows that.” Clara was constantly watching her figure, which didn’t seem to keep her from growing more buxom by the year. At the rate she was going, she would be a round octogenarian with a radiant smile in fifty years. PJ thought things could be worse.
“So you two coming two weeks from today or what?” Vicky said.
She was having a cookout, a common occurrence in the warmer months, and the Taylors and Goodwinds were regular fixtures. Everyone knew the cookouts were as much a bid to stuff the people of Taft County with reasons why the Denning clan should hold on to the sheriff-hood for the indefinite future, but everyone came anyway. Vicky’s ribs were legendary, and Curtis’s beer was as tasty and free flowing as anyone’s ever was. Today was Saturday, and two weeks from today was going to be the first big Donnerweise-Denning BBQ of the season.
“Yeah, I’ll be there,” PJ said. “At least until sunset.”
Vicky rolled her eyes. “Because you turn into a pumpkin at sunset, right? We’ll never get to see nighttime you. Isn’t Doc Fred helping you with that?”
Doctor Fred Norton was Mayhap’s most celebrated, and only, psychiatrist. Apparently he was a third cousin twice removed to the iconic Oprah Winfrey and had once listened to her problems with aplomb, inspiring her to go on and listen eternally to others. He was given a brief mention in a book of hers, which was now out-of-print. For Mayhap, that was all it took to secure one’s place in the annals of town history. He even had a special shelf in the library to display his pamphlets on the pluses of positive putation, despite the brochures containing more than their fair share of buzz non-words.
PJ’s cover story for disappearing every evening, no matter the weather or event, was a rare and debilitating overreaction to darkness. Everyone thought she ran home to sit in a bright room under full-spectrum lights so she could make it through the dark hours with her psyche intact, her odd and entrenched phobia notwithstanding. Doc Fred made a perfect corroborator. His acute sense of professional delicacy meant he could never confirm nor deny PJ’s hints that he was treating her without success for her illness. Perhaps he had spent the last decades sketching her case study, which would no doubt be picked up by the professional societies should it ever come to a positive conclusion.
“Sorry,” PJ said to Vicky, “I’m not going to talk about it.”
“Oh, right. Shrink’s privilege and all that.”
“Well, get going,” Clara said. “I don’t want to have to carry around any pumpkins your size after dark, if you turn into one.”
“Alrighty. Toodles, people.”

Author Bio:

Cy WyssI live and write in the Indianapolis area. After earning a PhD in Computer Science in 2002 and teaching and researching for seven years, I’ve returned to the childhood dream of becoming an author. I better do it now because I won’t get a third life. Behind me, I have a ton of academic experience and have written about twenty extremely boring papers on query languages and such, for example this one in the ACM Transactions on Databases. (That’s a mouthful.) Now, I write in the mystery/thriller/suspense genres and sometimes science fiction. I know for some people databases would be the more beloved of the options, but for me, I finally realized that my heart wasn’t in it. So I took up a second life, as a self-published fiction author. Online, I do the Writer Cy cartoon series about the (mis)adventures of researching, writing, and self-publishing in today’s shifting climate. I also love to design and create my own covers using GIMP.

Catch Up: author's website author's twitter author's facebook

Eyeshine Tour Participants:

Visit others on the tour! In addition to the great reviews & features you could win your own copy of Eyeshine!

Don't Miss Your Chance to WIN:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Cy Wyss. There will be 1 winner of 1 $10 US Gift card. The giveaway begins on March 1st and runs through April 1st, 2016. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours


Tuesday, 1 March 2016

GUEST BLOG POST by Grace Macdonald, Author of The Ruby Ring

The Ruby Ring by Grace Macdonald

A spellbinding timeslip story of two young women, each with a secret. A ring unites them, a century divides them. An international bestseller, set in a seaside town in Devon in Victorian times and the present day.

After a whirlwind romance, Laura Marchmont marries the charming Charles Haywood. Leaving her old life behind, she struggles to fit into Charles’s world, and to be accepted by his young daughters from his first marriage. Laura also hides a terrible secret from her new husband, which casts a shadow over her life. Then, she discovers the story of a young girl who lived more than a century before. Laura is compelled to uncover the fate of Mary Rose.

1886. When Mary Rose Marchmont’s widowed father remarries it signals the end of her childhood. A series of tragic events leads Mary Rose to be accused of a shocking crime, after which her life will never be the same again.

A moving family story of history, romance and secrets.

Grace Macdonald is a pen name of the hugely popular romantic fiction author Sophie King. 


Seven years ago, my second husband and I moved out of London to the south west. It was a huge step for me as I had always lived within spitting distance of a tube station. I’ll never forget driving down the motorway, thinking ‘what are we doing?’ In fact, we had a deal that if, after five years, one of us hated it, we would move.
In fact, we loved it from day one.

I’d always wanted to live by the sea. My childhood summer holidays were spent in my Godmother’s cottage in the Isle of Wight. I wrote poetry in those days (something I’ve recently taken up again) and I clearly remember taking inspiration from the woody landslip below her cottage; the downs above, studded with gorse bushes; and the golden sands with little inlets.

We don’t have a great deal of sand on our beach unless the tide is out. But it’s a glorious place to be. I can breathe properly for the first time in my life. The scenery is stunning. And I run every morning along the front with our dog.

I also write differently.

Almost from the first time I sat down at my computer in our new house, I found that the sea crept into every story. It had become so much a part of my new life that it also stepped into my plot. My heroines walk on the beach as I do. They swim in the sea like me. And they get lost in the hills as I have.

You don’t need to move somewhere different. You could just visit it. Another writer once said to me years ago, that if I got an invitation to go somewhere different, I should take it – even if it was just another town down the road. ‘It gives you a new world to write about,’ she told me.

Very true. Twice a month, my husband and I go out for day trips, partly to explore our new part of the world. And partly for my plot. I also buy postcards when I’m in a new place and stick them on the walls of my study.

One of my children worked in Vietnam for three years. I visited her twice and then found that one of my heroines ended up there. It’s no coincidence that The Ruby Ring is set on the coast and that the heroine’s house is above some old lime quarries. It’s one of my favourite daily walks.

Nor do you don’t need to spend too much money to go to another place. A bus or train ride to somewhere you haven’t been to before can be just as effective for inspiration. Sometimes the actual journey is more interesting than the destination. We went on a £3 tram ride a few months ago through a nature reserve. To be honest, I didn’t really care for the marshes around us. But I loved the tram and its quaint furnishings. That too found its way into a book.

So book your tickets now! If you plan your journey carefully, you’ll end up with a great trip from page one through to the final paragraph. Bon voyage!

Get your copy here


Sunday, 28 February 2016

Book Review - The 7th Woman by Frederique Molay

Title - The 7th Woman (Paris Homicide) 

Author - Frederique Molay

Publisher - Le French Book 

For a copy, click here


Edge-of-your-seat suspense in the first Paris Homicide mystery.

There's no rest for Paris's top criminal investigation division, La Crim'. Who is preying on women in the French capital? How can he kill again and again without leaving any clues? A serial killer is taking pleasure in a macabre ritual that leaves the police on tenterhooks. Chief of Police Nico Sirsky—a super cop with a modern-day real life, including an ex-wife, a teenage son and a budding love story—races against the clock to solve the murders as they get closer and closer to his inner circle. Will he resist the pressure? The story goes behind the scenes with the French police and into the coroner's office, with the suspense ofSeven, with CSI-like details.


  • 2007 Prix du Quai des Orfèvres, a prestigious French crime fiction award, the “Goncourt of crime fiction”
  • Named Best Crime Fiction Novel of the Year
  • International bestseller: 150,000 copies sold

Listen to an excerpt - Click here

My Review 

For this novel we have Anne Trager the translator to thank in a way. The book was set in Paris and originally written in French. Anne woke up one morning and decided that there were way too many good books written in French that needed to reach a broader audience. She therefore set up her own company with the motto "If we love it, we translate it".

This book has won several awards. If you love police procedurals then this book is for you. 

It is well written and fast paced. I struggle to put it down and could easily have read it in one sitting. There are so many twists and turns and you are constantly left guessing. It is violent and gruesome but not in a way that would turn you away from reading it.

Nico Sirsky is the Head of the Paris Criminal Investigation Division. I warmed to him immediately; a strong character; good work ethics and a great investigator. There are a lot of strong characters in this book. If you have been to Paris before, which I have several times, you will be able to picture a lot of the settings in the book too. The book was well translated and nothing seems to have been lost in translation.
It is a nail biting thriller that will leave you guessing as to who the serial killer is until almost at the very end. I kept changing my mind on who I thought it would be. I look forward to reading more by this author. This is just book one in the series.

Thank you to NetGalley for a review copy of the book. 

GUEST POST - Unique Places to stay by Kate from Unique Sleeps

Well as my blog is about travel and books, I thought it only fair to host Kate from Unique Sleeps onto my blog to share her wonderful ideas about "Unique Places to Stay". It's certainly whet my appetite and I've always fancied staying in a Yurt. You don't know what a yurt is? Then read on......

Unique Places to Stay in the UK

The popularity of unique and unusual places to stay in both the UK and around the world has grown at a rapid rate over the last decade. 
With the birth of ‘glamping’ (luxury camping), people are realising that they can still indulge in all the delights of outdoor living, without the need to forgo the comfort and warmth of a hotel style bedroom.
But it’s not only glamping that is hitting the headlines. Unique and unusual accommodation is high up on people’s wish lists with guests yearning for a magical twist for their next break away.
It is has been hard to narrow down the best places to stay, there are so many to choose from, but here are 5 of my favourite Unique Sleeps.

Living Room Treehouses - Wales

Living Room Treehouses, located in Machynlleth, Wales, is home to a unique and special collection of 6 treehouses, designed and created by the owner. 
The treehouses are set in a hidden valley in the heart of the Welsh mountains, camouflaged within a magical woodland setting.
A stay here is completely off-grid with solar lighting provided and a log burning stove to keep you toasty in the evenings.
There is plenty to keep you occupied in the surrounding area with local walks, bike rides and a hike up nearby Snowdonia. The beautiful, wide, sandy beaches that Wales is famed for are just a 15 minute drive away. If the treehouses have inspired you, be sure to visit the Centre for Alternative Technology to learn more about off grid and sustainable living. 


Yes you did read that right, it is champing and not glamping. If you haven’t heard of ‘champing’ it is 
a term recently created by the Churches Conservation Trust meaning to spend the night in a church. The CCT have recently opened up their doors to three churches in Northamptonshire, Kent and Norfolk.
Enjoy a night sleeping by candlelight in one of the historical churches, which you get to yourself, for £60 per person per night, with breakfast included, and made from local produce.

Gypsy Caravan Breaks in Somerset

Sleep in the very gypsy caravan used in the Famous Five TV series! This gorgeously restored bow top caravan is located in an apple cider orchard on a rural Somerset farm. Chill out with the ducks, ponies, donkeys and sheep, or relax in the luxury of your Romany styled caravan.
Locally you can visit the world famous Glastonbury with its famed Tor and Abbey ruins. Nearby is England’s smallest city, Wells, with its stunning cathedral and bustling farmer’s market. Somerset is a county rich in places to see with plenty of walks and outdoor living to enjoy in the Mendip Hills.

Black Isle Yurts in Scotland 

You probably have seen yurts springing up in various locations across the country as this ancient
accommodation of Russian origins gains in popularity. And it is with good reason – yurts are fantastic places to stay all year round owing to their insulated and comfortable build. Most accommodations used for yurt holidays come complete with a luxury bed and cosy log burning stove.

Black Isle Yurts in Scotland are set in a stunning location with incredible coastline views and sandy coves easily explorable close by. Not far away is Chanonry Point, one of the best onshore dolphin-spotting sites in Europe.
Black Isles Yurts offers off-grid holidays in 150 acres of Scottish farmland, woodland and shorefront where you will stay in hand crafted yurts. 

Railway Carriage Holidays

Whether you are a train spotter or not, you will love the uniqueness of a stay in a train. 
Railholiday in Cornwall have lovingly converted 4 railway carriages into holiday accommodation
sited in two locations in Cornwall (Hayle in West Cornwall and St Germans in South West Cornwall).
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Recommended Reads

Friday, 11 December 2015

Book showcase ~ What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan ~ Psychological Thriller

What She Knew

by Gilly Macmillan

on Tour December 2015


In her enthralling debut, Gilly Macmillan explores a mother’s search for her missing son, weaving a taut psychological thriller as gripping and skillful as The Girl on the Train and The Guilty One.
In a heartbeat, everything changes…
Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.
Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.
As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.
Where is Ben? The clock is ticking...

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Number of Pages: 467
ISBN: 9780062413864
UK Title: Burnt Paper Sky
Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads

Critical Praise

“What an amazing, gripping, beautifully written debut. WHAT SHE KNEW kept me up late into the night (and scared the life out of me).”
— Liane Moriarty, New York Times bestselling author

“Tightly focused and fast-paced. You won’t rest until you really know what happened.”
— Lisa Ballantyne, author of The Guilty One

“Every parent’s nightmare, handled with intelligence and sensitivity, the novel is also deceptively clever. I found myself racing through to find out what happened.”
— Rosamund Lupton, international bestselling author of SISTER

“This accomplished, intelligent debut should come with a warning-it’s completely addictive. A nail-biting, sleep-depriving, brilliant read.”
— Saskia Sarginson, author of The Twins

“Heart-in-the-mouth excitement from the start of this electrifyingly good debut…an absolute firecracker of a thriller that convinces and captivates from the word go. A must read.”
— Sunday Mirror

“One of the brightest debuts I have read this year - a visceral, emotionally charged story….heart-wrenchingly well told and expertly constructed, this deserves to stay on the bestseller list until Christmas”
— The Daily Mail

“A terrific debut”
— Reader's Digest

“A very clever, tautly plotted page turned from a terrific new writer”
— Good Housekeeping

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

In the eyes of others, we’re often not who we imagine ourselves to be.
When we first meet someone, we can put our best foot forward, and give the very best account of ourselves, but still get it horribly wrong.
It’s a pitfall of life.
I’ve thought about this a lot since my son Ben went missing, and every time I think about it, it also begs the question: if we’re not who we imagine we are, then is anybody else? If there’s so much potential for others to judge us wrongly, then how can we be sure that our assessment of them in any way resembles the real person that lies underneath? You can see where my train of thought’s going with this. Should we trust or rely on somebody just because they’re a figure of authority, or a family member? Are any of our friendships and relationships really based on secure foundations?
If I’m in a reflective mood, I consider how different my life might have been if I’d had the wisdom to consider these things before Ben went missing. If my mood is dark, I find fault in myself for not doing so, and my thoughts, repetitive and paralysing, punish me for days.
A year ago, just after Ben’s disappearance, I was involved in a press conference, which was televised. My role was to appeal for help in finding him. The police gave me a script to read. I assumed people watching it would automatically understand who I was, that they would see I was a mother whose child was missing, and who cared about nothing apart from getting him back.
Many of the people who watched, the most vocal of them, thought the opposite. They accused me of terrible things. I didn’t understand why until I watched the footage of the conference – far too late to limit the damage – but then the reason was immediately obvious.
It was because I looked like prey.
Not appealing prey, a wide-eyed antelope say, tottering on spindly legs, but prey that’s been well hunted, run ragged, and is near to the end. I presented the world with a face contorted by emotion and bloodied from injury, a body that was shaking with grief and a voice that sounded as if it had been roughly scraped from a desiccated mouth. If I’d imagined beforehand that an honest display of myself, and my emotions, however raw, might garner me some sympathy and galvanise people into helping me look for Ben, I was wrong. They saw me as a freak show. I frightened people because I was someone to whom the worst was happening, and they turned on me like a pack of dogs.
I’ve had requests, since it was over, to appear again on televi- sion. It was a sensational case, after all. I always decline. Once bitten, twice shy.
It doesn’t stop me imagining how the interview might go though. I envisage a comfortable TV studio, and a kindly look- ing interviewer, a man who says, ‘Tell us a little about yourself, Rachel.’ He leans back in his chair, which is set at a friendly angle to mine, as if we’d met for a chat in the pub.The expres- sion on his face is the sort that someone might make if they were watching a cocktail being made for them, or an ice-cream sundae if that’s your preference. We chat and he takes time to draw me out, and lets me tell my side of the story. I sound OK.
I’m in control. I conform to an acceptable view of a mother. My answers are well considered. They don’t challenge. At no point do I spin a web of suspicion around myself by blurting out things that sounded fine in my head. I don’t flounder, and then sink.
This is a fantasy that can occupy long minutes of my time. The outcome is always the same: the imaginary interview goes really well, brilliantly, in fact, and the best thing about it is that the interviewer doesn’t ask me the question that I hate most of all. It’s a question that a surprising number of people ask me. This is how they might phrase it: ‘Before you discovered that Ben had disappeared, did you have any intuition that something bad would happen to him?’
I hate the question because it implies some kind of dereliction of duty on my part. It implies that if I were a more instinctive mother, a better mother, then I would have had a sense that my child was in danger, or should have done. How do I respond? I just say ‘No.’
It’s a simple enough answer, but people often look at me quizzically, brows furrowed in that particular expression where a desire to mine someone for gossip overwhelms sympathy for their plight. Softly crinkled foreheads and inquisitive eyes ask me, Really? Are you sure? How can that be?
I never justify my answer. ‘No’ is all they need to know.
I limit my answer because my trust in others has been eroded by what happened, of course it has. Within many of my relationships doubt remains like slivers of broken glass, impossible to see and liable to draw blood even after you thought you’d swept them all away.
There are only a very few people that I know I can trust now, and they anchor me to my existence.They know the whole of my story.
A part of me thinks that I would be willing to talk to others about what happened, but only if I could be sure that they’d listen to me. They’d have to let me get to the end of my tale without interrupting, or judging me, and they’d have to under- stand that everything I did, I did for Ben. Some of my actions were rash, some dangerous, but they were all for my son, because my feelings for him were the only truth I knew.
If someone could bear to be the wedding guest to my ancient mariner, then in return for the gift of their time and their patience and their understanding, I would supply every detail. I think that’s a good bargain. We all love to be thrilled by the vicarious experience of other people’s ghastly lives after all.
Really, I’ve never understood why we haven’t thought of an English word for Schadenfreude. Perhaps we’re embarrassed to admit that we feel it. Better to maintain the illusion that butter wouldn’t melt in our collective mouths.
My generous listener would no doubt be surprised by my story, because much of what happened went unreported. It would be just like having their very own exclusive. When I imagine telling this fictional listener my story, I think that I would start it by answering that hated question properly, for the first time, because it’s relevant. I would start the story like this: When Ben went missing I didn’t have any intuition. None whatsoever. I had something else on my mind. It was a pre-occupation with my ex-husband’s new wife.

Author Bio:

authorGilly Macmillan grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and also lived in Northern California in her late teens. She studied History of Art at Bristol University and then at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. She worked at The Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery before starting a family. Since then she’s worked as a part-time lecturer in A Level Photography and a full-time mum.

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Tour Participants:

Don't Miss Your Chance to Win a Copy of What She Knew:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Gilly Macmillan & William Morrow Books. There will be 5 US winners of 1 copy of What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan. The giveaway begins on December 1st, 2015 and runs through January 3rd, 2016. For US residents only.
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