Review

Dead Ringer

Author – M.C. Beaton

M.C. BEATON (1936-2019) was the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Agatha Raisin novels — the basis for the hit show on Acorn TV and public television — as well as the Hamish Macbeth series and the Edwardian Murder Mysteries featuring Lady Rose Summer. Known as the “Queen of Crime” (The Globe and Mail), she was born in Scotland and started her career writing historical romances under several pseudonyms as well as her maiden name, Marion Chesney.

MC Beaton

Social Media Links –

For updates, follow M.C. Beaton at:

Facebook.com/MCBeatonAuthor

You can find complete book lists and sign up for her exclusive fan newsletter at her website:

www.MCBeaton.com

Publisher – Hachette

Pages – 233

The Blurb –

The team of bells at St. Ethelred church is the pride and glory of the idyllic Cotswolds village of Thirk Magna, together with the most dedicated bell ringers in the whole of England: the twins Mavis and Millicent Dupin.

As the village gets ready for the Bishop’s visit, the twins get overly-excited at the prospect of ringing the special peal of bells created for the occasion and start bullying the other bell ringers, forcing them to rehearse and rehearse . . . so much so that Joseph Kennell, a retired lawyer, yells at the sisters that he ‘felt like killing them’!

When the twins’ home is broken into one night and Millicent is found dead, struck from a hammer blow, suspicion falls onto the lawyer.

Will Agatha unmask the real killer and clear Joseph’s name?

My thoughts – I have followed this series faithfully as I am always keen to find out what Agatha and the rest of the characters in this series are up to.

The visit of Bishop to the village of Thirk Magna brings all the ladies flocking, so of course Agatha, always looking for her happy ever after, goes to see what the fuss is about.

Also in attendance are the local bell ringers who have been made to practice and practice , by the Dupin twins. They too have their sights set on the Bishop and will make sure nothing stands in their way.

Agatha again finds herself in the middle of the events when a dead body is found. Alongside the drama, Agatha and Charles struggle with their relationship.

Purchase Links – Dead Ringer

Review

Eco Thrifty

Author – Alexa Kaye

Publisher – Summersdale

Pages – 213

The Blurb –

Living well doesn’t have to cost the earth

We all want to do our bit for the planet, and now it’s easier than ever. This book is your guide to eco-thrifty living: the way to look out for the climate and your budget at the same time. Explore the art of recycling and upcycling to spruce up your home and garden, find out how to revamp old clothes and how to say no to waste, and learn the secrets to conscious, creative living – all without the hefty price tag.

There is no planet B, but with eco-thrifty living, we won’t need one. From nifty cleaning tips, to stylish home decor and natural beauty, discover the countless ways to reduce your carbon footprint and live a life you love that’s sustainable – both for the world and your wallet.

My thoughts – This is a wonderful little book that introduces you to the world of reusing your everyday items. Filled with lovely pictures and easy to follow tutorials the book gives the reader advice on how to get started on making a difference to the planet.

From being thrifty with your clothes to making your own beauty items and cleaning products, this book will give you lots of great ideas. It is like a stepping stone to becoming more sustainable and helping our planet along the way.

There are some frightening statistics given in the book but lots of eco friendly tips that aim to counter the damage we are doing, especially with our use of single use plastics and food wastage.

Purchase Links – Eco Thrifty

Review

The Worst Book Ever

Author – Beth Bacon.

Beth Bacon loves to read and write—and laugh! She writes books for children and also enjoys hiking and traveling to new places. Beth earned an MFA in writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Beth Bacon

Social Media Links –

Twitter – https://twitter.com/EbooksAndKids

Publisher – Pixel Titles

Pages – 74

The Blurb –

Most bad books look forward to hanging out at rummage sales. Not this bad book. Its goal is to be featured in the library’s Banned Books List. Problem is, no one seems to notice… until the book teams up with its boisterous readers. Together, the book and its readers shout, wiggle, and sing to get the attention of a local librarian. Will this book see its cover on the library wall… or will it end up in the recycling bin? Full of bold, colourful graphics and laugh-out-loud humour, The Worst Book Ever is another colourful, graphical, high-lo book for reluctant readers by Beth Bacon. The meta-storytelling and interactive prompts get reluctant readers laughing, dancing, shouting—and reading. Ideal for read-alouds and story time, as well as independent reading for beginning to intermediate readers. Like Beth Bacon’s other books, I Hate Reading, The Book No One Wants To Read, and Blank Space, this book helps make reading fun.

2018 Finalist in Digital Book World Awards, Children’s Category

My thoughts – This is a great children’s book. The author has created a fabulous way to get children to interact with the book. The book wants to be noticed, it has a plan. It wants to be banned from libraries and it’s picture to be hanging on library walls.

However the librarians don’t notice it so it plans to get the children that read it to help! The illustrations are bright and it encourages inter activity with the child, very clever.

Highly recommended.

Purchase Links – The Worst Book Ever

Review

Diary of a Contemporary Woman

Author – Lucy Pussett

Hi Everyone. I started writing during the second lockdown. Our business was like a sailboat on a calm ocean. Over twenty years spent in sales and as the weeks turned into months, my sales lizard brain finally switched off, leaving a new, creative side to my nature I never knew existed. It all started back in August constantly waking up at 3am with ideas about my Protagonist, Angelique Santoro and her relationships. At first, I ignored the dreams, the ideas but there was no point as they just got stronger. September came and I started getting up at silly o’clock and began to map out my characters and what would become Diary of a Contemporary Woman.

I’m not going to name names but the motivation for this book largely came from being upset and disappointed at how many books in the “Erotic Fiction” genre portray women as highly submissive, often acting beneath some Alpha Male. I do not accept this is representative of women at all, so I decided to do something about it!

Social Media Links –

Twitter – https://twitter.com/lucy_pussett

Publisher – Freelynx Books

Pages – 346

The Blurb – Having reached 34, Angelique Santoro finds herself feeling trapped and deeply unhappy within the constraints of traditional relationships. Uneasy to perform the role of life partner or girlfriend in the way society has designed for all women. Finally, she takes the courage to break free and becomes single for the first time in 15 years. Breaking away from the ties that bind us. Breaking away from the fear of being alone and lonely to become what she was always meant to be. Diary of a contemporary woman follows Angelique in her new life, her adventures. Utterly compelling, beautiful, honest and bold. Angelique will have you laughing and crying at the same time, willing her on to find happiness and that rare calm within.

My thoughts – I really loved this book and the character of Angelique. After coming out of a long term relationship she looks to find herself again and everything that this entails.

She finds herself not settling for what is considered traditional. She is attractive, intelligent and in favour of non vanilla encounters.

This book is well written and really explores Angelique’s world and her desires. It doesn’t fall into the trap of being risqué for the sake of it, it all adds to the overall character.

Purchase Links – Diary of a Contemporary Woman

Review

In The Event of Contact

Author – Ethel Rohan.

ETHEL ROHAN is the author of THE WEIGHT OF HIM, a debut novel forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press, February 14, 2017. The Weight of Him won the inaugural Plumeri Fellowship. She is also the author of two story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the Bone, the former longlisted for The Edge Hill Prize and the latter longlisted for The Story Prize. An award-winning short story writer, her work has appeared in The New York Times, World Literature Today, Tin House Online, GUERNICA Magazine, The Rumpus, and many others. Raised in Dublin, Ireland, she lives in San Francisco and received her MFA in fiction from Mills College, CA. She is a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.

Ethel Rohan

Social Media Links –

Twitter – twitter.com/ethelrohan

Publisher – twitter.com/dzancbooks

Pages – 143

The Blurb –

In the Event of Contact chronicles characters profoundly affected by physical connection, or its lack. Among them, a scrappy teen vies to be the next Sherlock Holmes; an immigrant daughter must defend her decision to remain childless; a guilt-ridden woman is haunted by the disappearance of her childhood friend; a cantankerous crossing guard celebrates getting run over by a truck; an embattled priest with dementia determines to perform a heroic, redemptive act, if he can only remember how; and a young girl navigates crippling aversion to touch, even from her sisters.

Amidst backgrounds of trespass and absence, the indelible characters of In the Event of Contact seek renewed belief in themselves, recovery, and humanity.

Many thanks to Anne Cater for the chance to read and review.

My thoughts – This is a wonderful collection of short stories, that stayed with me long after I had finished reading them. Regular readers of my blog know how much I love short stories. This collection has a specific theme of contact and sometimes the lack thereof.

There are so many beautiful stories within this book, the author has successfully created fourteen unique worlds that are all so different but have this individual theme going through them. The characters will stay with you and like all good writing, will make you think.

Highly recommended.

Purchase Links – In The Event of Contact

Review

The Hollow

Author – Agatha Christie.

Born in Torquay in 1890, Agatha Christie began writing during the First World War and wrote over 100 novels, plays and short story collections. She was still writing to great acclaim until her death, and her books have now sold over a billion copies in English and another billion in over 100 foreign languages. Yet Agatha Christie was always a very private person, and though Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple became household names, the Queen of Crime was a complete enigma to all but her closest friends.

Publisher – Fontana Books

HarperCollins

Pages – 190

The Blurb –

Agatha Christie’s ingenious mystery thriller, reissued with a striking cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers.

Lucy Angkatell invited Hercule Poirot to lunch. To tease the great detective, her guests stage a mock murder beside the swimming pool. Unfortunately, the victim plays the scene for real. As his blood drips into the water, John Christow gasps one final word: ‘Henrietta’. In the confusion, a gun sinks to the bottom of the pool.

She held the gun but was she the killer?

‘The woman holding the revolver stirred for the first time. She looked around at them all. when she spoke, her voice held what seemed to be pure bewilderment.

“John’s dead,” she said, “John’s dead.”

Poirot’s enquiries reveal a complex web of romantic attachments. It seems everyone in the drama is a suspect – and each a victim of love.

My thoughts – I own a lot of Agatha Christie novels so the copy I read was published somewhere around 1955, as you can see from the pictures.

The reason I chose The Hollow was due to the Agatha Christie 2021 read along:

There are twelve books to read, one for every month of the year. The first one is A story set in a grand house, so for this one I have read The Hollow.

The Hollow is set in a house of the same name, owned by the Angkatells. Lady Angkatell has a very unique way of looking at the world and all of those around her accept her eccentricities. She has arranged a weekend gathering where a mix of guests will attend her home.

All of the guests have shared histories, love and unrequited love is abound as we get to know the characters and their individual desires. Finally someone breaks when a staged play for the famous Hercule Poirot, goes drastically wrong.

The book doesn’t follow the usual Poirot mysteries and he really takes a back seat as he deduces from afar. There are lots of interesting characters in this book, mainly these are the female ones. Lady Angkatell, Henrietta, Gerda, Veronica and Midge are all very fascinating.

Purchase Links – The Hollow

Review

Backstories

Author – Simon Van Der Velde.

Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, labourer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as travelling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters and insights for his award-winning stories. Since completing a creative writing M.A. (with distinction) in 2010, Simon’s work has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards including; The Yeovil Literary Prize, (twice), The Wasafiri New Writing Prize, The Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Frome Short Prize, The Harry Bowling Prize, The Henshaw Press Short Story Competition and The National Association of Writers’ Groups Open Competition – establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost short-story writers.
Simon now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, with his wife, Nicola, their labradoodle, Barney and two tyrannical children.

Simon Van Dar Velde

Social Media Links –

Website – simonvandervelde.com

Twitter – Simon Van der Velde (@SimonVdVwriter) / Twitter

Pages – 90

The Blurb –

Dreamers, singers, talkers and killers ; they can dazzle with their beauty or their talent or their unmitigated evil, but inside themselves they are as frail and desperate as the rest of us. But can you see them? Can you unravel the truth?
These are people you know, but not as you know them.
Peel back the mask and see.

My thoughts – I am really pleased that I got to read this book, as you all know I love short stories.

This book is unique as it contains fourteen short stories all concerning famous people, but probably not as you know them. The author has been very clever in constructing fragments of their lives. The fragments are fictional but as no names are mentioned you have to guess at the person he is writing about.

It is a good idea to read the book twice, I found this enables you to realise how good the short stories are in a stand alone form, without trying to guess who they are related to. Once you have the story then you can try guessing at the person, some are easier than others.

I really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it. I am already looking forward to Volume 2.

Purchase Links –

http://bit.ly/Goodreads-Backstories

http://bit.ly/Amazon-Backstories

http://bit.ly/BookBub-Backstories

https://adbl.co/3rw4boT

Review

Banish Your Body Image Thief

Author – Kate Collins – Donnelly.

Kate Collins-Donnelly is the author of several inspirational workbooks for young children including Starving the Anger Gremlin, Starving the Anxiety Gremlin and Banish Your Self-Esteem Thief. Having previously been a therapist, psychologist, and criminologist, Kate has worked extensively with children and young people suffering from exam stress and stress associated with the pressures of education. She now runs a successful independent consultancy practice which provides cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling, and coaching, and of which she is also head of the Psychological and Criminological Research Division.

Pages – 240

The Blurb – Build a positive body image with this fun and effective workbook for young people. Watch out – the Body Image Thief is about! He’s the sneaky character who keeps stealing your positive body image from your Body Image Vault, leaving only negative thoughts and feelings about your body behind. But don’t worry – you can banish him for good and this workbook will show you how! Using a host of activities and real-life stories, this imaginative workbook will look at what body image means, how it develops, the impact it can have and how all this applies to your own body image. Based on cognitive behavioural and mindfulness principles and techniques, it is packed with strategies that will help you change how you think and act in order to build a positive body image, protect your Body Image Vault and banish your Body Image Thief for good! Engaging, informative and easy to read, this unique workbook is suitable for young people aged 10+ to work through on their own or with the help of a parent or practitioner.

My thoughts – Hopefully you will have read my review yesterday of Banish Your Self – Esteem Thief, another book in this great series. To this extent this review will be very similar.

Again this is brilliant resource for young adults to use, just when they are starting to pay attention to the changes of their body with the onset of puberty. Being part of the same series, the book is set out in exactly the same way, easy for children to interact with and complete the exercises within. Body image itself is explained and there are quotes from other children, that the reader may identify with.

It is an introduction to CBT, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness and how these metods can be used to promote a healthy body image from within.

The book is meant to be written in, there are lots of spaces for the user to fill in their own experiences and thoughts throughout. The feelings they are experiencing are explained along with any negative behaviours that may result from these. Coping strategies are discussed and the reader is encouraged to try different methods to help their situation.

I shall definitely be purchasing this book for my son who will soon be 11, in these strange times, I feel any resource that can help his mental health is beneficial.

Purchase Links – Banish Your Body Image Thief

Review

Banish Your Self – Esteem Thief

Author – Kate Collins – Donnelly.

Kate Collins-Donnelly is the author of several inspirational workbooks for young children including Starving the Anger Gremlin, Starving the Anxiety Gremlin and Banish Your Self-Esteem Thief. Having previously been a therapist, psychologist, and criminologist, Kate has worked extensively with children and young people suffering from exam stress and stress associated with the pressures of education. She now runs a successful independent consultancy practice which provides cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling, and coaching, and of which she is also head of the Psychological and Criminological Research Division.

Pages – 240

The Blurb – Build confidence and self-esteem with this fun and effective workbook for young people. Look out – the Self-Esteem Thief is on the prowl! He’s the crafty character who keeps stealing your positive self-esteem from your Self-Esteem Vault, leaving only negative thoughts and feelings about you behind. But the good news is you can banish him for good and this workbook will show you how! Packed with activities and real-life stories, this imaginative workbook will show you what self-esteem is, how it develops, the impact it can have and how all this applies to your own self-esteem. Using cognitive behavioural and mindfulness principles and techniques, this workbook will help you change how you think and act in order to build positive self-esteem, protect your Self-Esteem Vault and banish your Self-Esteem Thief for good! Fun, easy to read and full of tips and strategies, this is an excellent workbook for young people aged 10+ to work through on their own or with the help of a parent or practitioner.

My thoughts – This is a brilliant comprehensive resource for young people. It is a book that children can interact with, not a dry book on the subject that they have to read. It is illustrated well throughout so is less intimidating. It is an introduction to CBT, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness and how these methods can be used to help with self esteem. Self – Esteem and lack thereof is also explained so that children understand why they are experiencing these feelings.

The book is meant to be written in, there are lots of spaces for the user to fill in their own experiences and thoughts throughout. The feelings they are experiencing are explained along with any negative behaviours that may result from these. Coping strategies are discussed and the reader is encouraged to try different methods to help their situation.

I shall definitely be purchasing this book for my son who will soon be 11, in these strange times, I feel any resource that can help his mental health is beneficial.

Purchase Links – Banish Your Self – Esteem Thief

Review

Adventure by Chicken Bus

Author – Janet LeSole.

Janet LoSole

Janet LoSole began travelling the world as a teen. She earned a Bachelor of Education degree in 1992 from Nipissing University and later, TESOL certification.

Family life was no deterrent to roaming the world. As soon as her daughters were old enough, she, along with her husband, Lloyd, accompanied them on an adventure by chicken bus to Central America. The objective of the trip was to understand the environmental and economic realities faced by those living in the developing world. Janet recounts their experiences in Adventure by Chicken Bus: An Unschooling Odyssey through Central America. She is currently an online ESL instructor with Open English.

Social Media Links –

Website – https://www.adventurebychickenbus.com/

Publisher – Resource Publications

Pages – 211

The Blurb – Embarking on a homeschooling field trip to Central America is stressful enough, but add in perilous bridge crossings, trips to the hospital, and a lack of women’s underwear, and you have the makings of an Adventure by Chicken Bus.
Buckling under a mountain of debt, Janet LoSole and her family are at their wits’ end. Determined to make a drastic change, they sell all worldly possessions and hit the road. With only a few items of clothing, a four-person tent, and little else, the family visits a sleepy island backwater in Costa Rica to save endangered sea turtles. In Panama, they bounce around like turnips in the back of a vegetable truck to reach an isolated monkey sanctuary. In Guatemala, they scale the ancient Mayan temples of Tikal.
In between tales of begging rides from total strangers and sleeping overnight in the jungle with an indigenous family, Janet endorses community-based travel—supporting local businesses and favoring public transportation called chicken buses. She also writes candidly about what it takes to travel long-term with two little girls amid the chaos of border crossings, erratic drivers, and creepy crawlies lurking at the edge of the jungle.

My thoughts – In a time when most of us are home schooling, this is such a brilliant read. This is the story of a family who in order to provide a valuable learning experience for themselves and their young daughters, go to Costa Rica.

The author writes beautifully how her and her husband decide on this life changing trip and the lengths they go to, to make it happen. Within a few pages we are transported in to the very different landscape, due to the power of the writing we experience the heat, the different terrains, the excitement of seeing new animals and meeting new people.

It takes a brave person to venture to a new country but doing it with small children is a feat in itself but what a great experience to gift these children. Not only for them to experience new countries and people but to live as the locals. This family did not stay in luxury hotels, they stayed in hostels in villages where they learned how the locals live, where they shop. This way their money was spent in the local economies benefiting the local people.

Their children will surely look back on these experiences and forever thank their parents, they got to not only see turtles hatching but they helped in their protection, helping their species to survive from people who would seek to profit from their eggs.

They travelled on chicken buses, the local buses that can seemingly fit unlimited amounts of people and so they see on a first hand basis other cultures and traditions.

This is such a well written book that makes you think about the environment and our way of living and also gives us a great insight in lives in this part of the world.

Purchase Links – Adventure by Chicken Bus