I received this book prior to publication via Netgalley and am grateful to have been given the chance to read this immersive summer read. Publication date is set as 13th May 2021.
A warm, sun-baked terrace.
The rustle of verdant green vines.
The sun slowly dipping behind the Umbrian mountains.
And the chink of wine glasses as the first cork of the evening is popped…
Welcome to Italy. A place that holds the answer to Zia-Lucia Costa Chalmers’ many questions. Not least, how she ended up with such a mouthful of a name.
When Zia discovers that her mother wasn’t who she thought she was, she realises the time has come to search out the Italian family she’s never known.
However, as she delves into the secrets of her past, she doesn’t bargain on having to think about her future too. But with local vineyard owner, Piero, living next door, Zia knows she has a serious distraction who may prove difficult to ignore…
This summer, join Zia as she sets out to uncover her past. But can she find the future she’s always dreamed of along the way?
As soon as I started reading about Zia, I got lost in her story and was desperate to unravel the mystery of her past. I gladly followed her journey from Brighton to Italy and rejoiced when she met the delectable Italian, Piero. They were made to be together but scheming ex’s and shady family dealings threaten any future happiness before it can begin.
I loved the setting, the Italian family Zia is desperate to connect with and the sense of place you get in this book. On a grim, grey days in the UK, there is no better place to be than the Umbrian Mountains ‘Under the Italian Sun’.
An immersive romance, with plenty of emotional impact and scorching moments that have little to do with the weather!
This novella is a gripping introduction to the ‘In The End’ trilogy, a non-stop action zombie thriller.
Sixteen-year-old Jordan dreams of excitement, hoping something would happen to make his tiny Cornish village more interesting. During his school holidays, left by himself with nothing but pixelated zombies on the Xbox for company, he wishes for a life where the adventures are real.
Then one morning, he gets more than he planned for when, unexpectedly, a mysterious affliction descends, sending his brother and the rest of the village into a murderous rage. Despite his panic, Jordan finds temporary sanctuary, shutting himself in a cupboard to await rescue. Soon the sirens come, but quickly fall silent and no one arrives, leaving him no option but to fight against his fear or face dying by the hands of the infected villagers.
Once out of hiding, the joy at seeing soldiers with guns soon falls away when he realizes they’re not there to save him but to eliminate the risk of the disease spreading. With a huge new wall erected around the village where he’d grown up, can Jordan conquer his fear that the soldiers are hunting down everyone, not just those that are infected? Can he summon the courage to fend off those who had been his family and friends, those who have lost all sense of being human? Can he get out to the safety of the big wide world before the same fate falls his way?
I really enjoyed this novella. Having read book 1 – In the End, I knew to expect a gripping, action-packed read and I wasn’t disappointed.
Jordan is a resourceful kid, he has to be if he wants to survive. Although he was a bit slow on what was going on, it is entirely realistic – a zombie outbreak would not be the first thought to cross my mind either. I found myself caring for Jordan and willing him to make it to safety along with his young neighbour, Tommy, that he has to help get out of the village before the soldiers catch up with them.
I was surprised by the ending and it made me want to read book 1 again. At least I have books 2 and 3 to carry on with.
The complete trilogy is available now.
I’ve read book one ‘In The End’ and somehow forgotten to review it on my blog. So, firstly here’s the blurb.
When humanity faces an undead nightmare, one man’s party turns into a race to survive.
Logan has always taken things a little too seriously. So when his New Year’s Eve attempt to unwind descends into chaos, he’s the first to realize it’s no joke. After Logan and his friends miss the evacuation transport, he’s given a choice: lead the group to safety or watch all of his friends come back from the dead…
When Logan discovers the military and government have no interest in saving them, making it to sanctuary alive may be their only hope. And after he learns his party of survivors might hold the key to a cure, the fate of humanity rests on his shoulders. But saving his species could mean sacrificing himself…
Can Logan stave off the end of the world or will one wrong decision doom humankind?
In The End is a fast-paced post-apocalyptic zombie thriller. If you like nightmarish settings, reluctant heroes, and action-packed adventures, then you’ll love GJ Stevens’ spine-chilling novel.
Here’s my review as posted on Amazon and goodreads
This is the first zombie book I’ve read and I’m so glad I took a chance on a different genre. I loved the fast pace and short chapters which kept me turning the pages. For the poor characters thrust into this nightmarish situation there is no let up. Even when you think they’re safe to lie down and rest, just for a moment, another shocking twist is waiting around the corner. Be warned, it ends with a cliff hanger and I can’t wait to see what happens next!
I’m looking forward to continuing with the trilogy very soon.
I always enjoy Jo Thomas’ books and these two were no exception. It did take me a bit to get into one of them but then the characters wormed their way into my heart and I really enjoyed both books. Below are the blurbs and my brief reviews.
Winter Beneath the Stars
Halley has been running from her problems for years.
On a courier trip to Tallfors, deep in Swedish Lapland, everything is going to plan. Halley has her bag, with two precious wedding rings inside for delivery… until she doesn’t.
The only way to save the wedding is to team up with mysterious reindeer herder Bjorn, the one person who can lead her across the snowy tundra to be reunited with her bag.
On a journey of a lifetime beneath the stars, with only the reindeer and a bad-tempered stranger for company beside the fire, Halley realises that she will need to confront her past heartaches in order to let the warmth of love in once more…
My Brief Review
I did have to suspend my disbelief with this one as the premise of the story just didn’t seem plausible. Halley is a courier delivering special wedding rings that get lost when her hand luggage is accidently swapped with someone else’s. I could not get over the fact she could have carried the rings on her person. Of course there would be no story then, but it really bugged me for a while.
Anyway, it goes to show if you can just let something go and keep reading you may just be surprised. It was a great story about two people struggling to overcome their personal issues and hopefully find love. The setting was very special and really made the book come alive for me. Plus I loved the husky dogs. In the end it was a brilliant read and I loved Halley and Bjorn.
Finding Love at the Christmas Market
Residential-home caterer Connie has had one online-dating disaster too many. Hurt in the past and with her son to consider, now she’s feeling hesitant. Then one of Connie’s residents sets her up on a date at a beautiful German Christmas market – with the promise she’ll take a mini-bus full of pensioners along with her…
Amongst the twinkling lights and smell of warm gingerbread in the old market square, Connie heads off on her date with a checklist of potential partner must-haves. Baker Henrich ticks all the boxes, but when Connie meets Henrich’s rival William, she starts to wonder if ticking boxes is the answer.
Will Connie’s wish for love this Christmas come true, and if so – with who?
My Brief Review
This is was a lovely Christmas read and an original story idea where Connie takes the old folks from the retirement home on a jaunt to a Christmas market in Germany. They visit a bakery, which features in the story quite a lot. I loved these scenes and all the descriptions of the delicious food. At first I found the many characters from the retirement home hard to keep track of, but it all fell into place and I really enjoyed the story. I also loved how everyone had a Christmas wish and they made a pact to help each other fulfil them.
Another recommended read. Jo Thomas is a master at telling heart warming stories with characters you fall in love with.
Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic fantasy and romance.
As a newsletter subscriber, I was excited to be able to download a free copy of GJ Stevens new novella Capital Action. More on how you can get your free copy later, first let’s focus on the book.
After two years of clandestine operations, Agent Carrie Harris doesn’t know why she’s been attached to the Metropolitan Police. Could it be, as her superiors say, to hone her skills at breaking down doors and catching bad guys? Or is it to become accustomed to working as a team when she’s been so used to operating alone?
Putting her uncertainties behind her, Carrie leans into her new role, taking pleasure as part of a special task force targeting organised criminals, until during an early morning raid, her colleagues lay dead and dying around her.
After saving those still clinging to life, she can’t do as she’s told and sit around while others hunt down those who gave the order to murder her colleagues. Determined not to let their deaths be in vain, can she rally against those up high who want her to have nothing to do with the investigation? Can she make the right choices to bring justice for her friends when everything, even the people she should trust, seem to conspire against her?
This novella was entertaining from start to finish. It’s a complete story that can be read as a standalone, or at any stage you are reading the agent Carrie Harris series. I think it’s a great introduction to her story, although having read book one (Operation Dawn Wolf) I enjoyed seeing what Carrie is getting up to after finishing her training.
I love books (and films) where they show you a glimpse of the present day and set up the main character in an impossible situation. Then you’re taken back in time to see how it all transpired. Stevens make great use of this and had me turning the pages to find out the who, what and why.
Capital Action is fast-paced and intriguing, with a twist or two along the way that has you wondering who is to blame for the messed up operation that cost so many lives. You can always rely on agent Harris to sniff out the baddie though, and deal some well deserved justice.
A great quick read, perfect for those who love spy thrillers.
If you want to receive this book for free, all you need to do is sign up for GJ Steven’s newsletter. See more details on his website here.
A lovely book, I stayed up way too late most nights reading this because I just had to know what happened next.
In the idyllic seaside town of St Carys, Sophie is putting the past firmly behind her.
When Josh arrives in St Carys to run the family hotel, he can’t understand why Sophie has zero interest in letting any man into her life. He also can’t understand how he’s been duped into employing Sophie’s impulsive friend Tula, whose crush on him is decidedly unrequited.
St Carys has more than its fair share of characters, including the charming but utterly feckless surfer Riley Bryant, who has a massive crush on Tula. Riley’s aunt is superstar author Marguerite Marshall. And Marguerite has designs on Josh’s grandfather…who in turn still adores his glamorous ex-wife, Dot…
Just how many secrets can one seaside town keep?
My brief review
This is a perfect example of a feel-good, heart-warming romance.
I fell in love with the main characters, Sophie and Josh, but also with the many side characters and their stories. I honestly didn’t want to stop reading this and I’m sad the story is over.
I loved the location, which was my initial draw for picking up this book, a seaside escape whilst stuck in lockdown!
I enjoyed reading about Sophie’s career as a freelance photographer and her backstory was a powerful one. The many love matches in this book are a huge bonus, especially Sophie’s best friend Tula.
Thanks to this book, and Meet me at Beachcoomber’s Bay, Jill Mansell has become one of my favourite romance authors. I don’t think anyone who picks up this book could dispute her talent for weaving immersive tales that stay with you long after the books are finished.
I read this book just after Christmas. I loved the two protagonists, Hannah and Nico, and their story had me glued to the pages. Here’s the blurb from Amazon…
A sparkling Christmas read from the Sunday Times bestseller – perfect to snuggle up with this winter!
Hannah and Nico are meant to be together.
But fate is keeping them apart…
As soon as Hannah bumps into her brother Rob’s best friend Nico in Stockholm, the two rekindle a fast friendship. But Hannah has a boyfriend – and Nico has two children to look after.
When Hannah loses her beloved shop in Stockholm, though, she is forced to move back to the little village of Middledip – only to find Nico has just moved in too. Under the same snowy sky, can the childhood friends make a romance work – or are there too many obstacles standing in their way?
My Brief Review
Oh my goodness, this story blew me away. I loved Nico and his kids and really wanted him to find his happy ever after with Hannah from the moment they were together on the page. Fate keeps getting in the way of these two people who are so clearly made for each other.
The locations were wonderfully described, both in Stockholm and the UK.
It was impossible to put this book down. It had plenty of fun but also heartfelt moments that had me secretly crying into my pillow. One of my favourite reads of 2020.
This is a 5 star read, and one you don’t have to wait to read at Christmas. Pick it up now I say!
Note – after reading this story I see there are other books set in Middledip. It clearly works as a standalone as I didn’t feel I was missing anything. And now I’m excited to read the other books set in Middledip and start a new adventure.
Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy
2020 was a good reading year for me. I set my goal on Goodreads as 15 but I managed to read 30. I haven’t reviewed many of these books, but I hope to do a better job this year.
I love reading people’s wrap up book posts, so I thought I would share my own. Hopefully this will make up for the fact I haven’t done many reviews through 2020.
Daevabad trilogy by S.A Chakraborty – 5 stars. I loved everything about this series. Imaginative, unusual, great setting, wonderful characters. I hope Chakraborty has a new book out soon, definitely up there with my favourite authors.
Firewalker Series by Emma Miles – 5 star series so far. I loved the first two books in the series and plan to make book 3 one of my first reads for 2021. Here’s my review of the series so far.
Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso. A cool start to a Urban Fantasy series that I hope to continue with this year. Here’s my review.
Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine. Last book in the Great Library books and I loved it. 5 stars across the whole series! Don’t know why I didn’t get around to reviewing it. My goodreads review;
The perfect end to the series. I loved reading these books over the last few years but feel it reached a natural and very satisfying conclusion. I imagine the characters having the happy ever after they deserve, at least for a little while!
Origins – Summoner series by Taran Matharu – Enjoyable and quick origin story for younger readers. It entertained me at the time though I’m ashamed to admit I don’t remember much of it. I know my son loved the series a few years ago, so it might be worth revisiting one day.
The Last Wish by Andrezej Sapkowski – I loved the Witcher series on Netflix and although this was a good introduction to the books, I didn’t love it as much as I was hoping too.
As I started writing a romance series myself in 2020, I challenged myself to read as many romances as I could. I’ve read some really great books but again haven’t reviewed as many as I would like.
Escape to the French Farmhouse by Jo Thomas. Another fantastic romance by Jo Thomas. My review.
The Chestnut Tree by Jo Thomas. A sweet novella with Jo Thomas’ usual magic.
Chocolate Wishes by Trisha Ashley. Not a bad read, kept me entertained but I didn’t love it.
The Little Kiosk by the Sea by Jennifer Bohnet. Pretty good read.
Meet me at Beachcomer Bay by Jill Mansell. Very enjoyable story and I will be reading more of Jill Mansell’s books.
Katie’s Cornish Kitchen by Rosie Chambers – Another enjoyable romance that I highly recommend.
Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas – A heart-warming Christmas story. Maybe not quite as great as Jo’s other books but still very, very good!
Children of Sinai by Shelley Clarke – As I state in my review, this is a hard book to put into a category. It is well worth a read though. Check out my review here.
Operation Dawn Wolf by G.J. Stevens. This was a fast paced read, very gripping. Here’s my review.
White Knight, Black Swan – Ross Harding (David Gemmell fantasy legend!) A thriller by the great fantasy author David Gemmell. Despite it not being fantasy, it was still a great read.
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey. I was surprisingly hooked by this book. It is worth a read.
I got really into my non-fiction books towards the end of 2020 and read quite a few on the craft of writing. They are all good and worth a read. I hope to share a bit more of a review on them in the future. For now, here are the covers to show what I’ve been reading…
Nigel by Monty Don – Lovely book about the dogs in Monty’s life. A tearjerker if you’re an animal person.
Astronomy by Patrick Moore – A research book for my Starlight Prophecy series though it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.
And that’s it as far as I can tell. It has been great to look back over my reads and it has inspired me to keep going through 2021. I’ve set my reading goal to 20. Who knows how the year will pan out. I am hoping to do a lot more writing this year and that is more important than anything else right now.
Happy reading and I look forward to sharing more books with you very soon.
Have you read any of these books? Do you have any favourites?
Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy
Title: The Sentinel’s Alliance (Silent Sea Chronicles #3) Author: Suzanne Rogerson Publisher: Independently published Genre: Fantasy Book format: Paperback
Sweet Strawberries: Description:Can new alliances save the islands of the Silent Sea from the murderers stalking their shores?
As the island of Kalaya and its people recover from civil war, a new threat surfaces. Invaders from the island of Elkena hunt the seas, butchering those who possess magic. Their scar-faced captain seeks the Fire Mage who it has been foretold will kill him and Tei and her people are in his warpath. Tei and a band of Kalayans travel to Stone Haven, the home of their new allies, planning to restore magic to the dead island. But the Stone Haven Council have abhorred magic since their people were massacred by Elkenan invaders twenty years before. Commander Farrell must persuade his people to accept magic again, but his plans expose…
This is another great read from Jo Thomas. She is one of my favourite romance writers and her books never fails to make me feel emotional!
Can Del find her recipe for happiness?
Del and her husband Ollie moved to a beautiful village in Provence for a fresh start after years of infertility struggles. But six weeks after they arrive, they’re packing the removal van once more. As Del watches the van leave for England, she suddenly realises exactly what will make her happier…a new life in France – without Ollie.
Now alone, all Del has is a crumbling farmhouse, a mortgage to pay and a few lavender plants. What on earth is she going to do? After discovering an old recipe book at the market run by the rather attractive Fabian, Del starts to bake. But can her new-found passion really help her let go of the past and lead to true happiness?
A heart-warming tale about reclaiming your life, set amongst the lavender fields of Provence. Perfect escapism from the author of Late Summer in the Vineyard and The Honey Farm on the Hill.
The story starts as Del prepares to leave France with her husband but she realises their relationship is broken and she decides to stay on alone. It’s a very brave thing to do, especially where all her stuff is already on its way back to England!
Del is a strong character even if she doesn’t always see that about herself. I love being in her world, watching as she learns to trust herself and be self reliant.
The people in the nearby town make her feel welcome and she settles into her new life, finding friendship and possibly more in the process. She helps others, in particular a young mum along the way. These growing friendships really make the story something special.
The details of the farmhouse and the lavender are so immersive. I also love the details of the cooking. Del uses her love of baking to start providing for herself, incorporating the lavender from her farm into everything she cooks. Be warned, this book can make you hungry. Helpfully there are a few recipes at the back of the book, which is a nice little touch.
The chapters are very short and always draw you into the next. Many times I said to myself I’ll just read one more chapter only to find another half and hour had passed without me even realising.
If you like to be transported to beautiful places and enjoy heart-warming and feel good stories, then give Escape to the French Farmhouse a try.
I’d like to share the newest review that’s gone up for my Silent Sea Chronicles series – it’s actually the first for the box set on Amazon so I’m extra happy!
(Christopher) 5 STARS – Inspiring. A lovely story that warms the soul. Some action and battle scenes but not overly graphic so will appeal to most. There’s also a good deal of romance which, although not my thing, makes this saga a good read for all. I will deffo keep an eye out for more books to follow this and catch up on the characters and how their journey progresses.
Here’s some others…
(Norris) 5 STARS Loved it. A thoroughly enjoyable fantasy story with characters you can’t help rooting for and intriguing villains. The world building was fantastic and it was easy to lose yourself in. I can’t wait to see where this story goes. – The Lost Sentinel – Book 1.
(Teri) 4 STARS – Action and Chaos. I don’t know how I came about this story but I am glad I did. Prepare yourself for a rip roaring adventure over the seas and by ways as these stories intermix to bring you a rip roaring clean adventure. There is plenty of action and chaos as the standing Sentinel comes to the end of his reign. Finding the new sentinel will come to be emotional as the loss of life touches close to home. Taking daring actions against those that mean to do harm will keep you turning the pages for more. No the story doesn’t end here and that will give you reason to prepare for a long adventure with this new to me author. Her characters have much to lose and the battle wont be easy. New friends and old foes all come together in this wonderful fantasy story. I have not read this author before but I can’t wait to continue the adventure. – The Lost Sentinel Book 1
You can try out the series for yourself as Book 1 The Lost Sentinel is free for the next 4 days, while books 2 and 3 are on sale for only 99p each. The whole series will only set you back £1.98 if you act fast.
The sale is going well and I loved seeing The Lost Sentinel hit no 6 in the top 100 free chart for fantasy adventure. With your help I could hit no 1!
I’m having technical issues trying to share a screenshot of the top 100 list, hopefully that will resolve itself soon.
In the meantime, please share this and help The Lost Sentinel reach the top ranking in as many top 100 free charts as possible.