Difficult Husbands by Mary De Laszlo

That is life though, disappointment usually lurks under the glitz.


Title - Difficult Husbands
Author - Mary De Laszlo 
Publisher - Bookouture
Publication Date - 31st October 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via NetGalley)

The blurb

Difficult Husbands - In sickness and in health, for better but definitely not for worse...

Newly divorced Lorna is struggling to adjust to life on her own. When she discovers that her beloved godfather has left her the grand (and crumbling) Ravenscourt House in the heart of Sussex, she soon has a project on her hands. 

Nathan sells delicious goodies at Mulberry Farm. When he meets Lorna at a Christmas market, neither of them can ignore the chemistry. But as they get to know one another, Lorna wants to know one thing - is he after her or the house? 

Together with Gloria - whose marriage to alcoholic Adrian has hit rock bottom, and Rosalind - struggling to deal with her womanising husband Ivan, the three friends hatch a plan. They'll ditch their difficult husbands at Ravenscourt House and enjoy stress-free Christmases with their families. But nothing is ever that simple...

Becca's thoughts

Bookouture, your books just seem to be getting better and better! Thank you so much for auto-approving me for your fabulous titles on NetGalley! It makes my day, each and every time I spot one of your titles on there, to know that I can send them straight to my Kindle and dive right in, so HUGE thanks heading your way! And of course, thank you to the absolutely marvellous author Mary De Laszlo. Without your magical words, I wouldn't have enjoyed this story as much as I did. 

Firstly, cover cover cover
Isn't it just stunning? The beautiful scene just screams the words CHRISTMAS at you, and just from looking at it, I can completely imagine standing right there, in front of Ravenscourt, with the pretty glittering snowflakes falling gently around me. In all honestly, Mary's cover for Difficult Husbands couldn't have been more spot-on. It is just beauuuuutiful! 

And then, just to make things even more absolutely gorgeous, there's the magical story within. It was entertaining, to say the least, especially when the "difficult husbands" were involved! 

The first character the reader is introduced to is Lorna. She's newly-divorced, mother-of-two, and desperately hoping that her ex will come back, in the form of the man that he previously was. My heart went out to Lorna immediately. She was so kind and sweet, and incredibly loyal when it came to her family. She just wanted her grown children to come home for Christmas, but when everything kicks off and plans are thrown up into the air, Lorna is forced to take desperate measures, alongside her two best-friends, Gloria and Rosalind. Each of the three women come with their own problematic husband. Lorna's husband is now a completely different man to the one that she once knew and loved. Gloria's husband has a serious problem with the "bottle", and Rosalind's husband seems to prefer the spending time with anybody except his own children. With Christmas just around the corner, the three woman need something to keep their men occupied, to ensure Christmas is not ruined!

One of the first things that caught my attention, and something that made me feel warm and cocooned within this gorgeous world, was the relationship between the three women. It was made clear to me that Lorna, Gloria and Rosalind were all very close to each other. There was an air of normalcy about the fact that they'd meet up and discuss their individual other half's, although some of the issues that the husbands were facing, specifically Gloria's husband with his drinking problem, added just a spark of seriousness to the tone of the book, but it was still a light-hearted, happy read that is perfect for the festive time of year. The female bond between the women was beautiful, and by the time I'd finished reading, I'd felt like I'd been invited into the group. 

When Lorna inherits Ravenscourt House, Gloria comes up with an idea. At first, none of the women seem to take her seriously, neither did I to begin with, because what the crazy lady wants to do is somehow banish their three husbands to Ravenscourt House and keep them there, out of the way, so that they can each have a perfect Christmas with their children, without the husbands getting in the way. I found this idea absolutely hilarious, and I was desperate to see how the women were going to pull it off. I'm sure, if we're going to be truthful, there's a tiny of part of each woman who has a slightly difficult husband, that would love for this to happen! The idea seemed genius to me, and it added a whole lot of fun and excitement to the story, just to see how the three husbands were going to react to be shoved away into a big old house. I did, at one point, begin to feel sorry for them. It was Christmas day after all, but I guess it just truly emphasised how desperate the three women were for a Christmas that wouldn't be tarred by drink, an ex-husband with a new young girlfriend, and a man who preferred to spend time away from his children rather than with him. 

Becca's Books is rating Difficult Husbands by Mary De Laszlo with four cupcakes! A highly entertaining read that will have you laughing for an age! 




     

Interview with Sebastian Gregory, author of The Boy in the Cemetery

I'd like to say a VERY HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY to the incredible Sebastian Gregory. The Boy in the Cemetery is published today by Carina UK, and if you're looking for something weird and unusual to give you a few shivers up the spine, then this is perfect. Also, to celebrate the big day, I'm sharing my interview with the author himself. I was dying to have my questions answered by Sebastian, and thankfully, he obliged. 

~ Interview with Sebastian Gregory ~


 


B - Hi, Sebastian! Thank you so much for allowing me to interview you on Becca's Books. After reading The Boy in the Cemetery, I've been dying to ask you some questions. Your book was completely fascinating in a weird, sort-of gross way, and I would love to have a peek inside of your head to see what's going on in your imagination! Why don't you introduce yourself? 

S - Hello, I am Sebastian Gregory, I live in Manchester England and I write dark nonsense such as The Gruesome Adventures of Alice in Undeadland, The Asylum for Fairy Tale Creatures, and recently The Boy in the Cemetery. I'm also a big fan of this blog. 

B - So, my first question to you Sebastian is all about you as a writer. When would you say you first realised that you could write? Is writing something that you've always done, or did something spark it off? 

S - It was probably when I was at school. I was into drama and theatre; I remember wanting to be a playwright, so my teacher at the time encouraged me to adapt a version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. From that point I was hooked. 

B - Do you have a writing routine? Is there a specific place where you'll go when you're dying to get something written down? How do you plan? 

S - No but I should get one, I'm easily distracted. I used to carry lots of note books... I was a bit obsessed; I couldn't start an idea and use that book again for another idea. Then I would lose interest in what I was doing in the first place. I know other creative people to bounce ideas off - that helps. With technology as it is, I can write on my phone should the mood take me. I wrote parts of my stories while parked in a car on my iPhone. 

B - The Boy in the Cemetery was absolutely brilliant. I loved how you set the scene with the dark and dingy streets, and of course the awful "consumption". Where did your inspiration come from for this book? 

S - I wrote a book of poems and one of them was about a Victorian grave robbing boy who becomes cursed to live and rot forever. I liked the idea of what that would do to a person over time and so I gave the character a more tragic slant and life that would shape him into the creature he became. I love the Victorian setting and the disturbing way they lived. The consumption was rampant at the time and with its name it was almost a character in itself. 

B - Your characters really struck a chord with me. I felt so much sympathy for 'The Boy' and Carrie-Anne. They were both very similar in the way that their lives had not been easy. What made you want to create them this way? 

S - I wanted to make them with a sense of empathy, so even though it's a fantastical situation, they are recognisable as real people. 
With Carrie-Anne there were a few things I needed. She had to be able to accept the strangeness of 'The Boy' and not to be repelled by him. For her, death is not as terrible as her own life is, so the boy is fascinated by her. At the same time the boy had to recognise a lonely, emotionally damaged kindred spirit. Carrie-Anne needed to be inward but not weak. Her experience had not destroyed her, in fact I found her to be quite defiant. She may be forced to act a certain way but her inner monologue is always her own. Likewise the boy could only have a childhood after he died. I also wanted them to be in love in a sense that it was purely based on the fact they are unselfish, where the attraction is not physical. 

B - There was definitely something chilling and creepy about your writing style that I found completely and utterly addictive. It was so unusual and strange, but strange is good! Do you believe in life after death? Have you ever experienced something that you couldn't explain? 

S - I do not believe there is an afterlife where we are basically white suited versions of ourselves now. I do believe in the inner spark that could carry on after our physical forms have finished, as I do believe in a higher power. I think at some point everyone experiences something they cannot explain. Personally I think life would be a little dull if the supernatural was not real in some way. 

B - Your descriptions of 'The Boy' had me cringing, but I still found him completely endearing. Strange, huh? How did you imagine him in your mind? I mean, obviously you could have just created him as a ghost, rather than with pieces of his face missing etc. What were you trying to achieve by making 'The Boy' so gruesome? 

S - I wanted to show that despite his deformity brought on by death, he was only really a child. However I also wanted the reader to make no mistake that as a child he had little boundaries and so was capable of also being dangerous. He's strong and has very little morale compass. It is his love for his mother that stops him being a complete monster. I like ghosts but to me they are terrifying rather than physically dangerous. In a way the boy is like a tiger cub, you can pet him but you may lose a hand! 

B - Carrie-Anne was such a beautiful person, and there were some real serious issues within her life that actually added a sense of unease and discomfort to the story itself. I felt like in 'The Boy' she found someone to relate to, to find comfort in, and it was heart-warming despite the strange circumstances. Was she always meant to make friends with him? Did your plot ever take a different turn to what you had planned? 

S - I always wanted the two to find each other, as both were victims of their upbringing. I think probably what changed more was how much I described Carrie Anne's circumstances. I didn't want to be graphic (this is a young adult story after all.) But I didn't want to shy away from the seriousness of the issues either. I would be worried if people read this book and didn't feel uncomfortable. 

B - You're exceptionally gifted at creating a spooky atmosphere. Are you a fan of Halloween, Seb? 

S - I am a fan of Historical Halloween. I hate the plastic supermarket Halloween. Give me pumpkin patch with buried secrets any day! 

B - Are you a reader as well as a writer? What's your favourite book? Do you take inspiration from any other writers? 

S - I've purposefully avoided reading for the past year as I'm too influenced. You'll be surprised how many Terry Pratchett and Clive Barker stories I've written. I do however read a lot of Poe, especially his poetry. I also like reading spooky articles on the net, like the Winchester House and paranormal investigators The Warrens, abandoned places, that sort of thing. 

B - There was one part, near the end of the story, involving one of Carrie Anne's parents and a basement that had me scrunching up my face in disgust! Do you feel the same when writing gruesome scenes, or are you unaffected by them? 

S - I'm pretty much unaffected by them, not because I'm insensitive, I can't watch medical programmes for example. It's because I'm concentrating on how I can get the reader to scrunch their face. 

B - Seb, what does the future hold for you? Are we going to be seeing more creepy tales? I do hope so. The Boy in the Cemetery was absolutely brilliant, and I'm already dying to read more from you! 

S - Thank you, I'm glad you liked it. I have one more book out in December, "A Christmas Horror Story". It's about a German fairy tale monster Das Kinderfresser (The Child Eater) and three children left alone on Christmas Eve. Then I want to release two longer novels next year. I'm toying with the idea of a faux school report on a haunted orphanage, a kind of Blair Witch Project. And a second book concerning what happened to Edgar Allen Poe in the two weeks he went missing before he was found and died in an asylum. 

B - Wow, that all sounds absolutely AWESOME! Seb, I seriously cannot wait to hear more from you, and that Christmas Horror Story sounds like something I can read to my siblings on Christmas Eve to get them all into bed! ;) 
Thank you so much for taking the time to come on Becca's Books, Seb, it has been an absolute pleasure having you here! 

***

You can find Seb on Goodreads & Twitter
The Boy in the Cemetery is available on Amazon UKAmazon US, & Goodreads
You can also find my review of The Boy in the Cemetery by Sebastian Gregory here.



   

Driving Home for Christmas by A.L. Michael ~ BLOG TOUR & FESTIVE TREATS!


Every decision she'd made since getting pregnant had been the right one. Except, maybe, deciding to go to her parents' for Christmas.


Title - Driving Home for Christmas
Author - A.L. Michael 
Publisher - Carina UK
Publication Date - 28th October 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via NetGalley/Author)

The blurb

Megan McAllister is home for Christmas... whether she likes it or not! 

Christmas is about family... and for Megan family means two people: herself, and her daughter Skye. It doesn't mean her parents who, ten years ago, saw her pregnancy as anything but a miracle. And it definitely doesn't include her irresistible ex-boyfriend Lucas Bright. 

So 'Driving Home for Christmas' has never been top of Megan's festive playlist. But for Skye, she knows she needs to spend the holiday season with the people she's left behind. She can do this. Even if the thought of meeting Lucas under the mistletoe still has her feeling like she's drunk one-too-many Snowballs!

But somewhere between the hanging of stockings and the crackle of wrapping paper, Christmas starts to sparkle. And Megan begins to wonder if family could be bigger than her and Skye after all...

Becca's thoughts

I loved this book, absolutely loved it... Almost as much as the season itself... And that's saying something. 

I'll start off my review by saying my super-grateful thank you's! Firstly, to the wonderful author who is A.L. Michael. Ever since reading her book The Last Word, I've been absolutely DYING to read something more from her, and when I found out about her Christmas story, I was practically squealing with excitement. A.L. is a superb writer, and after finishing Driving Home for Christmas, I am now more convinced than ever. I can only hope (and pray) that it isn't too much longer until she releases something more... I need my A.L. Michael fix!!! 
Secondly, I'd like to say thank you to the fabulous publishers Carina UK. I love these people. Absolutely love them. Every book that they publish, and the authors that they work with, give me exactly what I need when it comes to reading. Being auto-approved by Carina UK on NetGalley is something that I will never, ever, EVER tire of. I have access to some of the best titles, and I thank my lucky stars every single day. So, Carina UK, thank you thank you thank you! 

As soon as A.L. Michael introduced me to her characters, I adored them. Driving Home for Christmas was written in third person, and mainly from Megan McAllister's point of view, but what I loved was that A.L. didn't keep it strictly to Megan. Every now and again, we'd read from her daughter Skye's point of view, or her parents' point of view, and it was fabulous, being given that 360 degree angle, from all corners. It adds so much depth to the characters, getting their take on things that happen within the plot, and so, I felt like A.L.'s characters were real, not fictional. They were all incredibly developed and believable, and I enjoyed the entire story so, so much. 

In a nutshell (without spoiling it for you) Driving Home for Christmas focuses on Megan and her daughter Skye going back home to spend Christmas with Megan's parents. Now, this would all be lovely and cosy and warm if Megan had a lovely, cosy and warm relationship with her mother, but unfortunately, she doesn't. Megan and Heather's past is a tricky one, and the problems between mother and daughter stem from Megan's younger years. Heather had plans for her daughter. Monumental plans, involving university and studying, and just working Megan's damn arse off. The problem being, Megan didn't want those plans for herself. When Megan falls pregnant, Heather loses her mind and kicks Megan out, including the tiny baby growing inside of her daughter's stomach. Now, all these years later, when Megan is a grown woman, and her daughter is far too intelligent for her own good, they're heading back home, to where it all began. 

Immediately, I was hooked. After reading the blurb, I wanted "in" on what sounded to be one hell of a story. Megan, the rebellious girl from all those years ago, is now a fully-fledged Mum. She is so fiercely loyal to her loved ones, and I was able to understand that completely, because I'm quite the same way when it comes to family. She's protective of herself and her daughter, and it emphasised the bond between them so effortlessly. I knew right away that there was something special between them, an unbreakable mother/daughter bond that Megan had never had with her own mother. It was emotional as well as heart-warming to read about, and I couldn't help but to hope that Megan and her own mother sorted out their differences before the story came to an end. I have to included that I had so much respect for Megan McAllister. For standing up to her parents, for not being one to be pushed around and forced into someone else's dream, and for bringing up little Skye as well as she did. Buckets and buckets of respect for the woman, seriously. 

Which brings me nicely to the character of Skye, Megan's daughter. This girl was freaking awesome. Cheeky, smart, and completely adorable, I just wanted to bundle Skye up and give her a big squeeze! A.L. created Skye perfectly, so full of character and charm. Skye wanted to become a detective, and so she was incredibly inquisitive and always curious, asking questions whenever she could. This made me smile, because again, I was able to imagine my own siblings doing the same thing. In fact, one of my younger sisters is quite like Skye, in that she wants to know everything, sometimes asking questions that I just don't have an answer! Being able to relate real beings to Skye's character really allowed me to conjure up and image of the girl in my head. Again, she was completely believable, and I, as stupid as it sounds, found incredibly proud of Megan for doing such an amazing job. Because she had! Despite her mum's best efforts, Megan kept Skye, found a place to call home, and brought her daughter up amazingly. Like I said, I have buckets of respect for Megan's character, whether she be fictional or not! 

As well as Megan and Skye, who kept me entertained throughout reading, there were a ton of other characters that really brought Driving Home for Christmas to life! There was Megan's parents, Heather and Peter, who I hoped had changed from all those years before! There was Anna, Megan's Aunt, who had, at some point in the past, taken Megan and Skye in, and given them a home. There was Jeremy, one of Anna's lodgers who lived with them all. Every now and again he'd pop up with advice for Megan and her troubles, he was also a drag queen too, which added heaps of fun to the story, yet again! And last, but by no means least, there was Lucas. Boy oh boy, there was Lucas. Rock-God, sexy as hell, and Megan's teenage best-friend, until they became lovers, too. This guy was absolutely to-die-for, and I enjoyed reading about him each and every single time that he cropped up in the plot. What was there to NOT like? Nothing, I tell you. Absolutely nothing. He played a major role in Megan's past. He was the one that Megan would run to when things got hard with her strict mother, and Lucas would be there, arms wide open, ready and willing to sooth her raging anger. The friendship between Lucas and Megan was absolutely beautiful. I was ecstatic when Lucas popped up later on in the story too. I couldn't wait to see what happen between him and Megan, all these years later!

Aside from the gorgeous characters, and the sizzling tension and drama, there is something else that I just have to comment on, which made my enjoyability of this book smash through the roof. It was the structure. Not only did A.L. Michael allow us to see what Megan and Skye were getting up to in the present day, all those years later, but she actually took us back in time, too. Piece by piece, the jigsaw and mystery of what happened all those years ago between Megan and her mother cleverly clicked into place, and it was extraordinary. I had so many questions leaping about in my mind; Who was Skye's father? Why did Megan leave home? How pushy were her parents? Thankfully, each of my curious questions were given answers as A.L. unveiled Megan's teenage story, including everything that I was wondering about. It was insanely INSANELY addictive! I absolutely adore being taken back in time, and even more so with Megan McAllister. It was so much fun getting my head around the fact that Skye hadn't even been born then, and then I'd be brought back to the present and there Skye would be! It was exciting, fresh and so, so compelling! That structure made Driving Home for Christmas, a trillion times over, one of my favourite Christmas books EVER! 

There's no way that I could give Driving Home for Christmas by A.L. Michael anything less than my highest rating. I think another reason why it was so beautiful, to me personally, was because I was like Skye, in the same sort of 'dad' position, and Megan reminded me of my own mum, determined to give Skye the best damn life possible, even if was without a man in the picture. As well as being gorgeously festive and focusing on Megan's family during Christmas, there was so much emotion involved too. I felt intrinsically linked to the characters, involved in their discussions and dialogue, and by the end of the book, I cared about them deeply. 

Becca's Books is giving Driving Home for Christmas by A.L. Michael five pretty cupcakes! I adored this story, from back to front, and I'd recommend it to everyone! It had everything. The romance, the drama, the family, the Christmas festivities, and of course, even the part that brought tears to my eyes. A.L. Michael, you should be so SO proud of this story, it's truly one of a kind and deserves to be on every book-lover's bookshelf, without a doubt. 



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Kathleen Mcgurl ~ On finding time to write

As well as reviewing Kath's fabulous time-slip novel The Emerald Comb for her blog tour, Kath is here on Becca's Books telling us about how she finds the time to write. Take it away, Kath!

~ Kathleen McGurl on Finding time to write ~ 


'How do you ever find the time to write?' People have often asked me this. It's true I'm often very busy, with a full-time job, husband, sons and disable mother all needing time and attention, and other interests such as running and swimming to fit in. And we do like to go away on holiday a few times a year. And I suppose the house ought to be cleaned from time to time. 

But in our house, if ever anyone says, 'I just don't have the time,' the answer will always be, 'Yes you do - you have the same amount of time as anyone else. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.' What's important is how you choose to use your time. In other words, what are your priorities?

I choose to spend time writing. It's at the expense of watching TV, ironing, and sitting in the garden reading (though I still try to make time for that now and again!) It's all a question of motivation. I love writing - I love watching a novel grow before my eyes from a first tentative sentence into a complete, rounded story. So I have to make time to do that. I'll grab an hour or two on a weekday evening, and get my novels written in those slots. If I have a deadline looming, I'll shut myself away in the spare room with my laptop and only emerge, cross-eyed and blinking, for meals. 

I'd love if it the mortgage was paid off, there was money in the bank to live on and staff to do the housework. Then I could spend many more hours writing or reading or lounging in the garden. This summer, I printed off The Emerald Comb to do a final edit on it, and as the sun was shining I took it into the garden to work on. Talk about multi-tasking - sitting in the garden, reading AND writing! Does it get any better? 

I make the time to write because I prioritise it over other things, and I am motivated to do it. So the next you find yourself saying, 'I don't have time to do that', consider whether you are actually saying, 'I'm not motivated enough to do that'. 

If you really want to do a thing, whether it's start that novel, or train for a marathon, or begin decorating the front room - prioritise it. Make your first thought on waking be: when am I going to spend time working towards my goal today? And then make all your other commitments fit around that. It's worked for me, and I have a completed and published novel of which I'm very proud, to show for it. 

***


The Emerald Comb by Kathleen McGurl ~ BLOG TOUR!


Whatever secrets the house still held, I longed to discover them. 


Title - The Emerald Comb
Author - Kathleen McGurl
Publisher - Carina UK
Publication Date - 22nd September 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via author)

The blurb

One afternoon, Katie takes a drive to visit Kingsley House, the family home of her ancestors, the St Clairs. She falls in love the minute she sees it. It may be old and in desperate need of modernisation, but it is her link to the past and, having researched her family tree extensively, she feels a sense of belonging to the crumbling old estate. 

When it suddenly comes up for sale, she cannot resist persuading her family to sell up and buy it, never telling them the truth of their connection with it. But soon the past collides with the present, as the house begins to reveal the secrets it has hidden for generations. Does Katie really want to discover what she has come from? 

Becca's thoughts

Firstly, thank you to the lovely author Kathleen McGurl for getting in touch with me regarding her novel The Emerald Comb. I love to take chances on books, and I love it even more when those books turn out to be absolutely stunning, as The Emerald Comb turned out to be. There is nothing, nothing in this world, that makes me feel quite the same way that I do when singing an author's praises. So I'll begin... And also, huge thanks to Leah from Girls Love to Read for getting me involved with the blog tour! WOOP WOOP!

I wasn't sure of what to expect from The Emerald Comb when Kathleen emailed me. Each time you accept a review request, it's either going to go one of two ways. You're either going to absolutely adore it, or you're not going to be a huge fan. It's a bit of a risk, but as a reviewer I believe it's only fair to take those chances, because who knows how hard you're going to fall in love with a story? After reading the blurb that Kath sent my way, and realising that she'd be taking me back in time, I knew that there was no way I could turn this one down. I am a major fan of historic/time-slip novels, but I rarely get chance to sit back and enjoy one. I readily agreed to read and review The Emerald Comb, and let me tell you something. Never, never, ever before have I been more glad that I took a chance on a book. And I mean NEVER. 

The term "time-slip" was a new one to me. I'd heard of historic, and I guess I thought that the two went together, that they were similar in some way. I mean, I suppose they are, in that you're taken back to a time before your own, but time-slip just sounds so much more interesting, doesn't it? And it is also the PERFECT description of Kathleen's smooth, fluid slips between the present and the past. "Slip" is exactly what Kath does, and it seems effortless. There's no muddling up of dates or people or time eras, the time-slipping is so sleekly achieved, it's incredible. 

When The Emerald Comb begins, Kath introduces us to the lovely Katie, who is a sucker for digging up the past, creating family trees, and doing everything that she can to find out about her ancestors who once lived in Kingsley House. When her interest piques, Katie decides to go and take a look at the house itself. She takes a drive down to Kingsley house and is surprised when she meets the old couple who live there. Visiting Kingsley House does nothing except heighten Katie's interests in the old place even more, after all, the house is where members of her family from generations before her once lived. It's as if the ghosts of those people still linger in the rooms and whisper down the hallways. 

I absolutely loved Kath's portrayal of Kingsley House. It was old, in need of some love and care, yet still held Katie captive with its hidden secrets and past, and it also held me captive too. As Kath built Kingsley House up in my mind, I, too, felt even more enthralled with it. There was definitely something hanging in the air within the house, something chilling yet intriguing. I could not wait for the secrets of the house to be revealed to me. I was just as excited as Katie was. 

When Kingsley House comes up for sale, Katie is as quick as anything to get her family down there to have a good look around. Once they've visited, Katie and her family decide that it's the home for them, but she withholds the fact that it is linked to her ancestors. Once they are all moved into Kingsley House, tiny snippets of the past begin to reveal themselves, and Katie finds herself deeply involved in what happened in Kingsley House generations before, more involved, in fact, than Katie had ever thought possible. 

I will mention here that Kath slips between the different time frames each time a new chapter begins. I confuse very easily when reading books like this, but Kath's technique was just so effortless and smooth, it was incredibly easy to pick right up from where I left off. With each change of chapter and era, Kath also changes the focal point of her characters. In the here and now, she focuses on Katie and her family in the modern day Kingsley House. Whereas when Kath takes us back in time, we're focusing on Bartholomew and Georgia. I think for me personally, I endlessly enjoyed the progression of Bartholomew and Georgia's story, and adored the old-style dialogue and how Georgia had her own house-maid etc. Flicking from that back to the modern day was a fantastic transition that I not once tired of. 

Kath's characters were brilliantly developed. She didn't lack details with either couple, whether they were from the modern day or the past, and by the end of the book, I was absolutely besotted with the character's separate lives and where they would end up once Kath brought her book to an end. Every emotion and experience that the characters went through, I went through too. It was just superb, and I cannot stress enough how bloody effortless it all seemed, although I'm sure that's not the case on Kath's part. I could tell how much effort Kath had put into the writing of The Emerald Comb. I was incredibly enthusiastic about the entire story, and chattered non-stop to my other half, wondering what was going to happen next. 

Throughout the entirety of Kath's writing, there was a sort of foreboding. A sense that something dark  was slowly approaching the characters, and something terrible was going to happen. I was so eager to reach the part where things were going to take a turn for the worst, and I was not disappointed when that part came around. Kath's words were powerful and intense, and lacked neither punch nor effect. I must have gasped about trillion times, and couldn't believe what I was reading. Such a momentous event, and perfectly slipped in to a time that coincided with something else major happening in the present day to Katie and her family.        

Kath didn't stop there with hooking me in. At the beginning of the story, Kath draws the reader in with a letter, from Bartholomew to his son, indicating that something terrible happened, right there in Kingsley house. Not only is the story told through the character's points of view, but Kath amazingly tells the story through the form of the letter, too. Every now and then, the letter is brought back to the attention of the reader, and you're reintroduced to the catastrophic secret that is hidden in the walls of Kingsley House. Honestly, Kath's skill never ceased to surprise and tease me.

In a nutshell, The Emerald Comb by Kathleen McGurl was incredible, and I am not using the term lightly. It absolutely blew my mind. Everything about this book is what I love about reading. The mystery, the romance, the drama. Definitely one of my favourite reads of 2014, and so totally worthy of five of my cupcakes, and more. I cannot recommend this book enough! Kath, thank you so much for the chance to read your fantastic story, I feel like I've lived the four different lives of your main characters right beside them. I adored it. Absolutely adored it.



~ Author Bio ~


Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, with her husband, sons and cats. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women's magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research - which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present, and enjoys the exploring these links in her novels. 

When not writing or working at her full-time job in IT, she likes to go out running or sea-swimming, both of which she does rather slowly. She definitely quicker at writing. 

You can find out more at her website, or follow her on twitter @KathMcGurl. 
  


Being Together Being Alone by Amie Daniels

Shaun had found someone better, that wasn't the words he used but it was what he meant.


Title - Being Together Being Alone
Author - Amie Daniels 
Publication Date - September 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via author in exchange for review)
Pages - 225

The blurb

Meet Beth. Beth is broken, torn apart by an unexpected break up from her long term boyfriend. Stumbling through life and trying to appear normal is her only focus... until she meets Pete. 

Within minutes, Pete turns Beth's world upside down. He reminds her what it is to think, feel, touch, to be more than just a mindless machine going through the motions. He rediscovers her desire...

Follow Beth's journey through her eyes, see her perception of relationships, the good and the bad. Follow her unique situation with Pete, the ups and downs as she tries to keep her emotions in check but also somehow keep Pete in her life. Find out if the two concepts are mutually exclusive and which is the best option; being together or being alone? 

Becca's thoughts

First off, I'd just like to say a massive thank you to the author Amie Daniels, for personally getting touch with me, and taking the time to actually read my blog. So many times I've been emailed by authors, who clearly haven't taken to the time to figure out what it is I like and what I'm all about, and it just makes me wonder whether they actually care about the reviewer or whether they just want a review, end of. Thankfully, Amie knew exactly what it was that I liked and looked for when it came to reading, so I was more than happy to accept the review request! So, Amie, thank you so much for getting in touch! It is always lovely to meet new authors, and be introduced to their work.

I loved the sound of Being Together Being Alone when I read Amie's blurb, and the author didn't take her time when it came to getting straight down to the story. As soon as I began reading, I was dropped right into Beth's devastating situation, and I genuinely couldn't believe what was happening, as couldn't Beth. Amie described Beth's feelings of shock, horror and disbelief perfectly, so it wasn't difficult to really grasp how the character was feeling. Beginning the book in this way definitely caught my attention. Immediately I was hooked, drawn in, and I felt involved with Beth. I was super eager to see how the remainder of poor Beth's story would play out. She was a great character, and it was clear that Amie had put a lot of thought into the creation of her, but I do feel that she could have been made just that little bit stronger, maybe with some more background information and history. Besides that though, she was quite believable, and it wasn't long until I had conjured up my very own image of Beth in my head. She went through a rough time, which was understandable, and I have to say that Amie got the tone of the writing spot on. Whilst reading, I felt as if I was bogged down from the depressive atmosphere. Beth became unsociable, neglecting her need for socialising and living life. It all seemed incredibly real to me, despite it being fictional. 

As Beth's story continued onwards, I was overjoyed when she met Pete. I guess I knew that something along those kinds of lines was going to happen, but it didn't take away my enjoyment when it actually did happen. What Beth truly needed after the heartache of her long-term boyfriend leaving was someone to bring her back to life, and that someone came in the form of Pete. I liked this guy instantly, he had tattoos, piercings, and a whole lot of charm and charisma. The one thing I wasn't completely sure about was the first time that they met. I couldn't help but to feel as is maybe it happened all too fast, but maybe that's because I'm more of the reserved type. It's safe to say that Beth and Pete did not leave it long before they got down to business, and with an audience too! The sexual chemistry and physical 'tug' between them was powerful, and so I guess that explained in itself the way they were unable to keep their hands off each other. I felt awakened on Beth's behalf. I desperately wanted Beth to be brought back to the here and now, rather than wallowing in the memories and past that involved Shaun. I wanted her to smile like she meant it, to laugh and shout, because she truly did become a ghost of her former self. Thankfully, Pete came at just the right moment, and I absolutely adored him for appearing in Beth's life when he did. I felt that maybe the pace was a little too slow, dragging sometimes, but then something exciting would happen and I'd completely forget about it. There were lots of ups and downs within the story, problems that Beth and Pete had to overcome, and so by the end of reading, I felt as if I'd come a full circle with them, as if I'd been through the entire thing and felt the emotions that they felt. 

There were a lot, and I mean a lot, of naughty sexy scenes within Beth's story. I guess you could say that after the shock of Shaun getting up and leaving in the way that he had, Beth had locked and chained up her heart, reluctant to let anybody even get a glimpse of it. Pete,of course, was desperate to, but Amie wasn't about to let another man capture it and then stomp all over it in the way that her ex had. I totally understood that, because I would have been exactly the same. The sex within Beth's story was sometimes completely wild and shocking, and others, passionate and beautiful. There were a few scenes that made me blush, and a couple that I found hard to believe, but Beth and Pete were very physical with each other and it just made their attraction seem all the more powerful. 

The main thing that I adored about Being Together Being Alone was how the tables had been turned. Rather than the male being after sex instead of a relationship, it was the other way around. It was Beth who insisted that they kept things between them purely physical, and Pete who wanted the relationship. It was so interesting to read how this turn of events played out, and I loved it so, so much because it was different and new. I, like Pete, wanted Beth to open her heart back up for business and to allow herself to be loved again. I trusted Pete's character and found him completely endearing. I never found myself questioning him or his actions, but rather believed everything that came out of his mouth. There was something about him that made me feel certain that he wasn't a bad guy, and I really wanted Beth to see that. 

Becca's Books is rating Being Together Being Alone by Amie Daniels with 4 CUPCAKES! Beth's story was beautiful, at times crazy, but watching a person be brought back to life just by sharing time with another was stunning. I really enjoyed this book, and if you're a lover of steamy, saucy stories, and of watching someone fall apart and then be put back together, then this is perfect for you. Amie, thanks so much for allowing me to read and review your work, it was fab! 



~ Author Bio ~


Very part time author and I mainly write romance, love and lust theme stories. 
When I'm not writing then I'm generally thinking about writing! Or spending time with friends, family, my cat or my long suffering other half. 
I was born and raised in Hull and still live there now (Yorkshire and proud!) I'm rapidly approaching thirty years old, Arsenal fan and love any music with loud guitars (but mainly pop punk). 
Happy to share talk about anything writing related and always keen to get any feedback on my work so drop me a message or a tweet. 

Amie Daniels on Twitter
Amie Daniels on Goodreads







The Green Hills of Home by Emma Bennet

The phrase 'once bitten, twice shy' came to mind as Gwen resolved to be far more careful with her heart in future. 


Title - The Green Hills of Home
Author - Emma Bennet
Publisher - Joffe Books Romance Novels
Publication Date - 2nd October 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via author)

The blurb

Gwen Jones, a young Welsh writer, is desperate to save the family farmhouse from being sold from under her critically ill mother and herself. When she lands a lucrative three-book deal with an eminent publisher, she thinks her problems are all over. However, Gwen's need to be near her sick mother means she's unable to travel to London to work with her devilishly desirable editor John Thatcher, and he must come and stay with her in Wales. Handsome and eminently capable, cosmopolitan John is used to getting his own way and had plans for the future which certainly don't include being distracted by pretty Welsh girls; nevertheless when he journeys into the country to work with Gwen it's not long before he finds himself falling in love with her, as well as the house she's so anxious to save. But is John capable of loving anyone as much as his job? And when he has to decide between his goals and Gwen, which will he choose? 

Becca's thoughts

Firstly, I'd like to say a huge thank you to the lovely author Emma Bennet for getting in contact with me and requesting a review for The Green Hills of Home. I love finding new review requests in my inbox, I always feel a little bubble of excitement at the thought of discovering a new author and another brand new story. It's probably one of my favourite feelings in the world! So Emma, I cannot thank you enough. 

I think one of the main reasons as to why I enjoyed reading The Green Hills of Home so much was because of the fact that Emma's heroine Gwen Jones was an aspiring writer. Dabbling in writing myself, I was able to connect and click with her instantly. She was passionate about her work, eager to succeed, and I just think it was such a gorgeous aspect to add the story. I haven't read that many stories that have involved authors before, so it was a delightfully refreshing change from the characters who are stuck in an office all day, you know? Another thing that I noticed almost immediately regarding Gwen's character, and something that made me respect her even more, was how fiercely loyal she was to her dear mother. When Gwen was given a book-deal, despite it being a dream come true, she wasn't willing to start travelling all over the place because she wanted to be there if and when her mother needed her. I found this incredibly heart-warming, and it emphasised how truly selfless Gwen's character was. She was polite, intelligent, and was not about to let her mother down, no matter cropped up. There was a ton of depth to her character, allowing me to really get to know her from the inside out. Her worries, what made her happy, and what wound her up. What I loved was even though Gwen was polite and friendly, she wasn't about to let anybody walk all over her. She was firm in her beliefs and so considerate when it came to her mother who was in the hospital. Overall, Gwen's character was truly likeable, and it was a joy to be invited along on her journey. 

When Gwen is given her book-deal, John Thatcher, the handsome man that she's bumped into numerous times on the street, turns out to be her stone-faced, workaholic editor. From the moment Gwen walks into his office to introduce herself, John is not the most welcoming. In fact, he's downright rude. Emma did such a fantastic job of creating the love/hate relationship between these two, and the fact that the story also slipped into John's point of view too, made it endlessly entertaining. The majority of the time, John had his phone permanently glued to the side of his face and was too busy typing to actually make polite conversation. So, when Gwen refuses to head back to work with John on her manuscript, he has no other option except to go to Gwen instead. Eeeep! I freaking loved this aspect! I adored the fact that John would be stepping out of his usual habitat of technology and sleek professionalism and heading to Wales, to the land of countryside, and to a farmhouse where his signal was going to be non-existent. He was like a fish out of water! I laughed out loud at the thought of him being there, completely stranded without the use of his phone and without news from back at the office. I found John's character to be increasingly frustrating. He was so proper and serious all the time, and if I'd have been Emma, I would have kicked him straight out of my home and told him to bugger off back to where he came from. Of course, Gwen wouldn't have been able to that! John was her editor, at the publishing house where she'd just been given a book deal! Even an inch of rudeness could have put her right back where she started, and the farmhouse would have been hanging in the balance. I just got this distinct impression from him that nothing was good enough, nothing was up to his impeccably high standards, and at one point during reading, I was actually hoping and praying that he was going to loosen up, because I was just wound up by his rude manner! Of course, poor old John wasn't being like that for no reason. Everybody has their reasons for acting the way they do, and that includes Mr John Thatcher, too. Thankfully, the added bonus of Emma flipping the narrative to John allowed me to get inside his mind and find out what exactly was the reason that had him behaving the way he was. It was BRILLIANT!!!

Emma moved her plot along at such a lovely, gentle pace, going into depth with details at just the right moments and letting me in on little secrets here and there. Her dilemma was evident; she needed the book-deal to help keep the farmhouse. If she lost the farmhouse, then her mother would have been devastated, and book -deal or no book-deal, Gwen Jones would have felt like a big fat failure. Generations of their family had lived in the farmhouse, and there was no way that Gwen was prepared to give it up. The fact that Gwen's mother was in hospital broke the story up nicely, allowing Gwen time away from John whenever he was staying at her home to work on her manuscript. I felt that if it hadn't of been for visiting her mother, Gwen would have been driven completely insane! Another character that I capture my heart was the absolutely adorable Oscar, Gwen's dog. I think Oscar played such a great role in the story, and played a part in turning John's opinions around about the farmhouse, where Gwen lived, and even Gwen herself. The atmosphere between the two characters was up and down constantly; sometimes they were getting along, other times they were each other's worst enemy. I loved watching how, over time, the relationship changed and moulded into something new entirely. The progression of it was perfect, and I am so thankful that Emma didn't rush it, because it just wouldn't have had the same effect on me. 

Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Green Hills of Home by Emma Bennet. It was warm, entertaining, and superbly written. The romance, the dilemmas, the determination to keep the farmhouse! It all equalled one fabulous read that I'm so happy I had the chance to read and review. Again, Emma, thank you SO much for getting in contact with me, and I do hope you keep me in my mind when looking for any future reviewers. I'd be more than happy to volunteer myself! ;)

Becca's Books is rating The Green Hills of Home by Emma Bennet with four cupcakes! The setting of Wales, the lack of signal and the creaky old farmhouse made for one gorgeous story that I happily snuggled up with. 
















The Boy in the Cemetery by Sebastian Gregory

This is the story of a boy who was dead but could not die. And a girl who lived but was not alive.


Title - The Boy in the Cemetery 
Author - Sebastian Gregory
Publisher - Carina UK
Publication Date - 29th October 2014
Format - eBook (Provided by NetGalley)

The blurb

This is the story of a girl who didn't want to live...

Carrie Anne is desperately unhappy. Tangled in a web of abuse, she seeks solace in the cemetery that backs onto her garden. But something creeps between the gravestones. Carrie Anne is not alone. 

...and a boy who cannot die. 

The cemetery is home to a boy. He has guarded these forgotten bones since meeting a gruesome end two hundred years ago. Neither dead nor alive, he has been watching for a long time. And now, he finally has the visitor he's been waiting for...

Becca's thoughts

The Boy in the Cemetery was absolutely freaking awesome. A complete galaxy away from my typical genre, but endlessly enjoyable, and completely and utterly fascinating. This is the type of story that will make you wonder what, if anything, lurks in the cemeteries after dark, and one that will linger on in your mind long after you've finished reading.

Honestly, what first caught my attention with Sebastian's book was the cover. I know, it's horribly wrong of me to judge a book by it's cover but I do and I honestly can't help it. From the second I laid eyes on it, I wanted to read it. Despite my love for all books romantic and girly, I do have this part of me that loves anything spooky, unusual, and strange, so the cover of The Boy in the Cemetery captured that part of me immediately. Also, with Halloween gradually getting closer and closer, I was in the mood for something different, something to fit in with the approaching spookiness, and I found exactly that when I began Sebastian's book.

Firstly, Sebastian is such a talented writer. The opening of The Boy in the Cemetery caught my attention right away, and I was instantly whipped right into the story, surrounded by his incredibly grim setting. I was reminded, as Sebastian unveiled his world to me, of an old Victorian England, where young boys were recruited as chimney sweeps, and their lifeless bodies were pulled from the holes that they'd clambered up like it was no big deal. The streets which Sebastian's character, known as 'The Boy' lived on, were filthy, riddled with disease, and rats, and cockroaches. I imagined these dark and dirty alleyways with shadows hiding in corners and people drunk and shouting as they stumbled across cracked cobblestones. There was also the mention of The Consumption, which was taking people down at a rapid-fire rate. Sebastian told me, "So afraid were the people of the city that they dare not speak of it, for fear of in some way drawing the attention and wrath of the thing itself." I cannot put into mere words how effortlessly I was transported to the morbid scene. The Consumption was serious, and it's wasn't hard to take note of the fact that the people that 'The Boy' was surrounded by were dropping like flies. So, due to Sebastian's incredibly vivid and detailed descriptions, I was able to picture the setting for his story perfectly. I was even told of how The Consumption worked, how it took it's toll on it's helpless victims. Sebastian described it "like an ominous descending fog it choked the life of anyone unfortunate enough to be caught within its wisps." These descriptions were fascinating, and like a HD vision in my mind, I imagined clearly the people panicking and depressed from the slaughter-house that they were metaphorically living in. Sebastian made it clear that The Consumption took no prisoners. Once it had you, that was it. End of the road. This spectacular opening, with such passion in the descriptions, allowed me to place myself in the chaos of the setting immediately. The same can be said for the cemetery too, which is another major setting within Sebastian's book. The place was eerily decrepit and spine-tinglingly creepy. Gravestones were crumbling, and names were fading from the crumbling surfaces. It was incredibly easy for me to picture the scene, and even easier to imagine that I was standing right there, and that if I'd have moved my hand forwards, I'd have been able to run my fingertips right across the rough surface. Again, I have to quote Sebastian's MAGNIFICENT description here. "He could see the gravestones peering from the dark like ships lost on a fog sea." Sebastian's way with words is enough to make you want to live inside the man's imagination, just to see things the way he sees them. I think without these descriptions, I wouldn't have been able to lose myself to the story as much I as did. 

It wasn't just Sebastian's settings that I was able to depict perfectly, it was his characters, too. 'The Boy' is introduced to us first, and he is referred to as 'The Boy' throughout the entirety of the book. I loved this. Of course, it would have been lovely to know his name, but the fact that we didn't know that detail about him made him seem all the more lost and faceless, which, literally speaking, he was. Not only was 'The Boy' nameless, but so were his parents, too. It seemed to fit in perfectly with the time-zone of the book though, the fact that he called his parents 'Mother' and 'Father', and it didn't seem odd at all, seeing as we call our parents 'Mum' and 'Dad'. I also felt that they didn't need to be named. I knew the important things about them, so I guess knowing their names didn't really seem so crucial. 'The Boy' evoked sheer sympathy and sadness from me. He loved his Mother to pieces, but his dad? Not so much. He lived in such a dismal place, sleeping on just a rotting mattress on the floor, surrounded by filth and poverty. I think the only person he truly, truly loved was his mother, which was obvious because his father was nothing but a vile bully, who had no problems with slapping and pushing 'The Boy' around. 'The Boy', to me, seemed so small and helpless, I wanted to cuddle him up and give him a better life, where he'd be warm and safe and well looked after. Unfortunately, with him being fictional, that obviously wasn't possible. But the feelings of wanting to help him in some way stayed me with me right up until the point that someone, or something, else got there first.  Something strange and abnormal. 

Another one of Sebastian's characters that really clung to my mind was Carrie-Anne. Carrie-Anne was clearly not in a good state of mind, and it was not surprising at all, considering what had happened to her. I was shocked that something so serious had been included within the story, but it just made Carrie-Anne seem all the more desperate for someone to find comfort in. She was broken, hurt, and had been through things that no child should ever have to go through. I guess Carrie-Anne and 'The Boy' were incredibly similar in that way. They'd both had upbringings that hadn't been at all normal, both damaged in some way. Carrie-Anne's family were two people who I hated from the get-go. One was weak, and the other was just a disgusting human being. Again, the same way I felt with 'The Boy', I wanted to wrap Carrie-Anne in my arms and squeeze her tight. She didn't see herself as normal, she was bullied at school, and pretty much bullied at home, too. There was no escape for her. That was until her family moved into the house that sat at the back of the cemetery. As soon as I realised where Carrie-Anne had moved to, I was captivated. I knew something was going to happen, that somehow the two characters, from completely different eras but with similar pasts, were going to come face-to-face, and it's safe to say that I flew through the remainder of the book, lapping up every single word that Sebastian had to offer. 

Within the pages of The Boy in the Cemetery, I found something that I'd been missing for quite a while. I found that incredible part of my imagination that I realise I'd lost somewhere in the process of growing up. It's that part that completely shuts out reality and doesn't allow it to enter. That part where you believe, hand on heart, that absolutely anything is possible. Sebastian Gregory brought that part of me back to the surface. Whilst reading, I felt like I had returned to being an open-minded, excited child, who willingly allowed the weird and wonderful to completely take over. I loved Sebastian's style so much; it was obviously fictional, but I wanted so bad for it to be REAL! For things like that to happen. For creepy, un-dead things to lurk in cemeteries, and for two people from completely different walks of life to meet and become friends. If this book were to be made into a film, I would gladly sit and watch it. I was enthralled, entranced, completely enchanted with this wacky world and the people within it. I gained hopes for the characters, I grew my own ideas as to where they'd go and what they'd see, and long after I turned the final page, I was thinking about them. 

Becca's Books is rating The Boy in the Cemetery by Sebastian Gregory with FIVE CUPCAKES! (Sorry Seb, I have nothing manly!) This is why I love my imagination so much, and why I'm so grateful to incredibly authors like Sebastian, who manage to bring an entirely fictional world to life with only words. I would happily, happily, happily read anything by Sebastian all day long. He's not afraid to cross the boundaries, he's not afraid to go where no one's gone before, and he is just EXCEPTIONAL. 


***