Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Athena's Champion - David Hair & Cath Mayo (Blog Tour)

Date of Reading: 8/11/2018
Authors: David Hair, Cath Mayo
Publisher: Canelo
Published Date: November 8, 2018
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

About the book: 

The first in a thrilling new historical fantasy series; Odysseus must embrace his secret heritage and outwit the vengeful Gods who would control or destroy him…

Prince Odysseus of Ithaca is about to have his world torn apart. He’s travelled to the oracle at Pytho to be anointed as heir to his island kingdom; but instead, the Pythia reveals a terrible secret, one that tears down every pillar of his life, and marks him out for death.

Outcast by his family, hunted by the vengeful gods, Odysseus is offered sanctuary by Athena, goddess of wisdom, and thrust into the secret war between the Olympians for domination and survival. Only his wits and his skill as a warrior can keep him ahead of their power games – and alive.

When one of Athena’s schemes goes drastically wrong, and the young Helen of Sparta is kidnapped, Odysseus must journey past the gates of Hades to save her. Falling in love with a Trojan princess, a bewitching woman who poses a deadly threat to both his homeland and Athena, won’t make his task any easier…

Drawing from classic Greek mythology, Athena's Champion, first in the epic Olympus series, is perfect for fans of Madeline Miller and David Gemmell.

My Review:

     Odysseus was never one of my favourite heroes in Greek mythology partly because I sided with Troy and Hector in the epic battle of Troy. Yes, not even Brad Pitt as Achilles could change my loyalties in this regard. Since Odysseus had more than paid up for his treachery and the fact that he never wanted to be a part of the Trojan war in the first place had favoured him to me a bit. And Tennyson's poem invoking him as a tireless fighter who is intended to live life to the lees only accentuates this image.
       David Hair and Cath Mayo's recent addition to this literary corpus brings yet another side of this Ithacan hero. Following the non-Homeric tradition which sees Odysseus as the son of Sisyphus, the book traces his journey of survival as a champion of Athena, the warrior goddess of logic and reason.
     From the beginning itself, we feel a comradeship with Odysseus who are scared to wits when his stable world comes tumbling down. He knows his limitations and his silver tongue sets him apart from the usual heroes who are known for bloodshed and deeds of valour. The man we find here is fragile as any other human but refuses to be a pawn in the games of gods. How he will manage to do that is yet to be seen.
      Though first in the part of a series, the story has a satisfying end so that the readers can keep their excitement leashed until the arrival of the next one. I loved the way the authors managed to give a modern interpretation to the existence of Greek Gods; they are alive till they are worshipped and thus the Trojan war turns out to be a decisive one regarding their survival.
      To conclude, 'Athena's Champion' will hook anyone who loves Greek mythology. You feel right at home with Odysseus and with each turn of the page, we are pulled deeper into the story. It was an enjoyable and educative read which made me revisit some of my mythology references. Thank you, Ellie Pilcher of Canelo, for sending me an ARC and for the invitation to the blog tour.

Meet the authors:

David Hair is an award-winning New Zealand YA and Adult fantasy writer, and the author of sixteen novels.  He’s joined his considerable skill and expertise with Cath Mayo to create the Olympus Series, an adult historical fantasy drawing on ancient Greek Mythology, following the adventures of Odysseus as he navigates the dangerous world of the Greek Gods.

Cath Mayo is a New Zealand YA, Children and Adult fiction author. Her two published YA historical novels are both set in Ancient Greece and her first novel received a Storylines Notable Book Award for Young Adult Fiction in 2014. She’s joined her considerable skill and expertise with David Hair to create the Olympus Series, an adult historical fantasy drawing on ancient Greek Mythology, following the adventures of Odysseus as he navigates the dangerous world of the Greek Gods. @cathmayoauthor

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Dreaming of Christmas - T. A. Williams (Blog Tour)

Date of Reading: 12/09/2018
Author: T. A. Williams
Publisher: Canelo
Publication Year: 2018
Source: NetGalley 
Rating: 4.5/5
About the book:
It’s the dream Christmas: snow, mountains… and, er, an ex-boyfriend. But can Zoe still find love in the Alps? 
 Dumped on Christmas Eve by her long-term boyfriend, it's been a rough year for Zoe Lumsley. But then she gets an invitation she can’t refuse: an all-expenses paid skiing holiday with old university friends.

The bad news: her ex, Grant, will be there with his new girlfriend. But so will her former flatmate Billy, the organiser, and in the meantime, he’s done rather well for himself. As Christmas in the Alps approaches, it'll be great to see the old gang. Some more than others...

Perfect for readers of Tilly Tenant, Holly Martin and Philippa Ashley, this is the perfect magical Christmas getaway from the bestselling T.A. Williams.
My Review:
          Not the first Christmas book I am reviewing this year, but the first one I read this year which has awakened in me an unquenchable thirst for more and more Christmas stories. The cover was not to my liking, but the blurb more than makes up for it. A reunion of uni friends in the snow-covered Austrian landscape, organised by a billionaire friend is the perfect background for the Christmas tale anyone can hope for.
        The direction of the story was quite obvious, or so I thought, until that small but relevant information is slipped to the readers: Billy is happily married to a beautiful wife. Well, you could imagine my shock at this revelation and the tension started to mount with each turn of the page. Finally, my poor little heart was not able to take it anymore, and let's just say it was not one of my proudest moments; yes, I did have a peek at the ending. Come on guys, don't make that nasty face at me. I am making this confession only to advise you not to make the same error of judgement. Trust the author. You will definitely love it however the story goes.
      Part of the charm of the novel lies with the amazing setting. One could feel the snow-topped Alps, thanks to the gripping narration, and Billy and Zoe's skiing expeditions only add to the adventure spirit. Zoe was easy to warm up to probably because of her clumsiness, something that I share with her. Her openness and wise advice persuade others to find a solid refuge in her and we couldn't resist loving her.  
       I don't know how much my review was able to do justice to this wonderful book. It seems I have rambled on quite long. Altogether a fabulous tale that I am going to cherish forever. 
Meet the author:
T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

A Christmas Date - Camilla Isley (Blog Tour)

Date of Reading: 04/10/2018
Author: Camilla Isley
Publisher: Pink Bloom Press
Publication Date: October 25, 2018
Rating: 4/5

(This review is part of the blog tour organised by Rachel's Random Resources)

About the book:

No one wants to be single at the holidays. 

Even Little Miss Grinch, Nikki, a successful and independent woman, must face her bachelorette status at the most horrible time of the year. 

December is her personal version of holly-jolly hell: a merry torture made of couples kissing at every corner, forced vacation days, and an inescapable family reunion. 

And when her baby sister announces she’s engaged—to Paul, the man Nikki is secretly in love with—and that he’s spending the holidays with them, Christmas starts looking bluer than ever. 

Nikki can’t possibly survive an entire week trapped home as the family’s spinster. But she has no time to meet men or to try the newest dating app, she’s too busy working as a video producer for an advertising agency. 

So what’s a girl to do? 

Nikki has the perfect solution: to hire a fake boyfriend. 

Luckily, her job gives her access to an endless catalogue of gorgeous actors to choose from. 

But Nikki will soon discover that keeping business and pleasure from mixing isn’t so easy and that she might not be immune to a little mistletoe magic. Especially not when she picked out the perfect man as her Christmas date... 

A fun, festive romantic comedy with lots of bad behaviour and Christmas spirit. Like a creamy hot chocolate with marshmallows, you won’t want to put this deliciously hilarious novel down. Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Sally Thorne, and Jo Watson. 

My Review:
        If you are thinking what I think, then you guessed it right. This is the textual Christmas version of 'The Wedding Date', but far better than the original book 'Asking for Trouble' of which the movie is based. So we could pretty much see the story through the blurb itself, but that won't deter the reading pleasure a bit. After all, this is a different setting, different girl and if you can visualise someone better looking than Dermot Mulroney, well, then we have a too good to be true hero in our hands.  
        This is the third in the 'First Comes Love' series but can be read as a standalone. Filled with festive spirit, family moments and siblings rivalry, the book makes an unforgettable read which will warm you like a sweet cup of hot chocolate. Nikki and Diego make a charming couple and their love story is as exciting and intriguing as their respective personalities. Within no time, we get attached to both of them and the impact of the fake date arrangement on Jules was priceless. I enjoyed every twist and turn of the plot and the ending was really fitting to a Christmas story. Highly recommended !!!

Meet the author:

Camilla is an engineer turned writer after she quit her job to follow her husband on an adventure abroad. She’s a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading—duh!—cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies—popcorn, please. She’s a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveller, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.

Friday, 26 October 2018

A Way Back Home - Alison Sherlock

Date of Reading: 11/10/2018
Author: Alison Sherlock
Publisher: Aria
Year: 2018
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

About the book:

What happens when two lost souls find themselves? Perfect for the fans Jill Mansell and Carole Matthews.

After recent heartbreak, Skye Jackson finds herself homeless and on the road with only a classic Airstream trailer to her name. A surprise inheritance of a rundown little lodge in the grounds of beautiful Willow Tree Hall forces her to change her plans. However, there is a problem...

The lodge is co-owned by care-free, playboy Will Harris, who finds himself unemployed after a recent tabloid scandal.

Syke desperately wants a home to call her own and needs to move on as quickly as possible. Will doesn't want to stay at his family home either to face the ghosts of his past. So they decide to put aside their differences and renovate the cottage together.

But when a storm hits, Skye and Will are forced to stay on to ensure that an important wedding goes ahead. Can Skye finally find a home of her own? Can Will stop running from his past and help out his family when they need him the most?

The magic of winter at Willow Tree Hall is about to change everything...

My Review:

       This is the third instalment in the Willow Tree Hall series and the first one I am reading. Well, the other characters from previous books play a major role but that cannot be considered as a hurdle to consider this as a pretty well-written stand-alone story. Skye and Will make an ideal pair and I completely loved the ending. The Willow Tree Hall is going to be decked for some enchanting weddings here.
      Skye, with her fiercely independent spirit and amazing upcycling abilities, will capture any reader's heart. Being the eldest daughter, she takes the role to educate her younger sister as her irresponsible and reckless mother wanders around. A disturbingly selfless soul with impressive artistic talents, one could not but love her. 
     In spite of his playboy nature which effectively hides his wounded heart Will has a noble heart which is slowly unwrapped during his stay in the Hall. He is reluctant to call this his home now but Skye's rejuvenating presence triggers the healing process and there begins the journey for a happily ever after life.
     An amazing story of healing, finding love and finally being back home. An energising read with the festive spirit, wedding bells and a heartwarming end, this will surely be a good pick for winter nights.

Meet the author:

Alison Sherlock enjoyed reading and writing stories from an early age and gave up office life to follow her dream. Alison lives in Surrey with her husband and a daft golden retriever.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Snowflakes over Holly Cove - Lucy Coleman (Blog Tour & Giveaway)

Date of Reading: 23/10/2018
Author: Lucy Coleman
Publisher: Aria
Year: 2018
Rating: 4/5

(This review is part of the blog tour organised by Rachel's Random Resources)

About the book:

As the snowflakes start to fall, the village of Holly Cove welcomes a new tenant to the beautiful old cottage on the beach...

For lifestyle magazine journalist Tia Armstrong, relationships, as well as Christmas, have lost all their magic. Yet Tia is up against a Christmas deadline for her latest article 'Love is, actually, all around'...

So Tia heads to Holly Cove where the restorative sea air, and rugged stranger Nic, slowly but surely start mending her broken heart.

Tia didn't expect a white Christmas, and she certainly never dared dream that all her Christmas wishes might just come true...

Set in Caswell Bay on the stunningly rugged Gower Coast, the cottage nestles amid the limestone cliffs and the woodlands; the emotions run as turbulently as the wind-swept sea.

As cosy as a marshmallow-topped cup of cocoa, fall in love with a heart-warming festive story from the bestselling author of The French Adventure.

My Review:

       This book had been an unexpected pleasure. Instead of the Christmas story I have imagined, this turned out to be salty sun filled tale looking toward the warmth of Christmas and of new beginnings. Not a light-hearted romance but a poignant story of loss, heartbreak and slow mending of broken family bonds. Every word leaps out of the page and we are slowly lured into the tale until we are glued to the kindle till we reach the end. 
        For me, it had been a rather slow read as every page demanded to be savoured with due diligence and I enjoyed each moment of reading. It was soothing and comforting at best and Tia's life felt so alive. Her punctual and meticulous life made me ashamed of my exercise schedule and I have already made a decision to order my life a bit starting with taking some fitness measures. 
       The mystery surrounding Nic and Max kept the book alive throughout and the thriving community especially the presence of Olwen in the house was a welcome addition. Altogether a delightful tale of love, family and friendship that is a perfect addition to the Christmas shelf.

Meet the author:

From interior designer to an author, Linn B. Halton - who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman - says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus) and Harper Impulse (Harper Collins); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency. When she’s not writing or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK's Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.
Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Social Media Links :

Giveaway - . Win a signed paperback of A Cottage in the Country and a rustic wooden heart decoration (Open Internationally)

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

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Friday, 19 October 2018

No One Cancels Christmas - Zara Stoneley (Blog Tour)

Date of Reading: 30/09/2018
Author: Zara Stoneley
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Day: October 19,2018
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

(This review is part of the blog tour organised by Rachel's Random Resources)

About the book:

It’s the most magical time of the year, and for travel agent Sarah it’s also the busiest! But this year one man threatens to ruin Christmas for Sarah’s customers – Mr Grinch, Will Armstrong.

The Shooting Star Mountain resort is a magical place, and Sarah has fond memories of Christmas here as a little girl – visits to Father Christmas, husky rides in the snow and hot chocolate by a roaring fire. But as the resorts new owner, Will refuses to play snowball or to deck the halls with anything remotely resembling tinsel!

With customers complaining their Christmas is ruined, Sarah decides it’s up to her to convince Scroogey Will just how magical Christmas can be….

But getting Will into the Christmas spirit is hopeless – he is Bah Humbug personified! But as Sarah gets to know him better, she realises that underneath all the gloom is a man struggling with a pain of his own.

With the big day approaching, Sarah realises that the magic and sparkle can wait. This year, she’s going to spend Christmas day with someone special her very own Mr Scrooge…

My Review:

       Considering the stir this author creates in the blogosphere whenever her books come out, I was eager to read this new festive installement. Since it is my first, there is no comparing to her other works. Some of the characters of her previous novel 'The Wedding Date' are also featured here but the book can very well be read as a standalone.
      Let me start with the cover. It is cute and simple and embraces the Christmas spirit in an easy elegance. The season of happiness, love and forgiveness is just around the corner and here we meet travel agent Sarah trying to regain the magical nature of The Shooting Star Mountain Resort. Hunky Will Armstrong proves to be a major hurdle but the place contains her last memories with her parents and Sarah can't let it go under.
      The instant chemistry between Sarah and Will can be easily perceived but one would have never guessed the secret Will harbours underneath that Mr. Grinch persona. The author's witty narrative style captures you from the first line and it is revealed to be quite a merry ride till the very end. If you need a short light romance for Christmas, this is just your pick.

Meet the author:

Born in a small village in Staffordshire, I wanted to be a female James Herriot, a spy, or an author when I grew up. After many years, and many different jobs, my dream of writing a bestseller came true.

I write about friendship, dreams, love, and happy ever afters, and hope that my tales make you cry a little, laugh a lot, and occasionally say 'ahhh'.

I now live in a Cheshire village with my family, a lively cockapoo called Harry, and a very bossy (and slightly evil) cat called Saffron.

Where you can find her,
Twitter: @ZaraStoneley

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