Snowed in at Christmas by Claire Sandy | Blog Tour

Today on Becca's Books, I'm absolutely delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the fabulous Claire Sandy's brand new festive book Snowed in at Christmas! Since reading Claire's previous novels, I've fallen absolutely head over heels in this author's style. Huge, chaotic families are one of my favourite things to read about in books, and Claire Sandy does this exact thing so well. I cannot wait to read Snowed in at Christmas, but until then, I have this wonderful piece from Claire Sandy herself to share with you. Titled Christmas Makes It's Own Rules, I can assure you that you're in for a fantastic read!

 ~ Christmas Makes It's Own Rules ~
We all have our own way of doing Christmas, which is, of course, the only way to do Christmas. My mother looked baffled by people who didn't have smoked salmon before the turkey; she regarded these deviants as worse than murderers.

We all differ on when the gifts should be opened. Are you a first-thing-in-the-morning-er? We're before-lunchers. And we do it in a circle, like some weird cult. I know grown adults who still put out biscuits for Santa, and tut if there isn't a bite taken out of the apple they left for Rudolph.
These rules are comforting, transporting us back to childish Christmasses past. In a world that changes so fast it can be hard to remember which Kardashian is married to which idiot the certainty of Christmas is calming.

But Christmas is more than the sum of its parts. You can strip it down and it's still as mighty and glorious as ever. Some professions can't down tools on the day - imagine rolling up to A & E with a cracker novelty stuck up your nostril only to find the nurses were all at home eating After Eights as if there was no tomorrow. Police officers, lifeboat crews, muggers - they're all on duty at Christmas now and then.

Christmas sneaks in wherever it's wanted; my mum (she of the smoked salmon prejudice) occasionally worked on Christmas Day and would come home red cheeked from smiling. The atmosphere was so different to a normal working day that the hours flew past. As she said, any job feels easier when you're wearing a paper hat and there's a sausage roll in the vicinity.
You might be tucked into a hospital bed, stuck in a snowed-in departures lounge, marooned in a broken down bus, but Christmas will come and find you. It's in the singing of carols, the telling of terrible jokes, the realisation that we're all in this together. 

It's free, too; it doesn't rely on handing over presents you've extended your overdraft to buy. It doesn't even - whisper it - rely on turkey. When you're bereaved or heartbroken or just plain broke, Christmas can feel like an unwanted guest bearing down on you with all its demands and expectations. If you ignore the fuss and just concentrate on the feeling you might find that the big mid-winter hug of Christmas makes you feel a tiny bit better.


Asta's plane touches down in Ireland as the first flakes of snow begin to settle. As the weather worsens, it turns what should be a flying visit into a snowed-in Yuletide with her chaotic family.
Asta fled her childhood village years ago, with a secret hidden deep within her. That secret is now a feisty sixteen-year-old - Kitty - who's keen to meet her long-lost relatives. It seems there are many family mysteries waiting to be unwrapped, along with the presents under the tree...
Missing the man she left behind in London, yet drawn to a man she meets in Ireland, Asta is caught in an emotional snowstorm.
Maybe this Christmas Asta will find a cure for her long-broken heart?


Claire Sandy lives in Surrey with a husband and a daughter and loves lots of things, such as baking, reading, writing, eating, chatting about matters of global importance with her daughter, dressing up her dog and inventing new things to do with gin. Before she wrote books, she made radio jingles and sold wool (not at the same time). Now she has her dream job as a novelist, having already written What Would Mary Berry Do? and A Very Big House in the Country.

You can find Claire Sandy on Twitter | berniestrachan.com






The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas | Blog Tour

Today on Becca's Books, I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas, and sharing my review. 


Title - The Secret by the Lake
Author - Louise Douglas
Publication Date - November 19th 2015
Publisher - Black Swan
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided via NetGalley)
Pages - 414

A FAMILY TRAGEDY
Amy’s always felt like something’s been missing in her life. When a tragedy forces the family she works for as a nanny to retreat to a small lakeside cottage, she realises she cannot leave them now.

A SISTER’S SECRET
But Amy finds something unsettling about the cottage by the lake. This is where the children’s mother spent her childhood – and the place where her sister disappeared mysteriously at just seventeen. 

A WEB OF LIES
Soon Amy becomes tangled in the missing sister’s story as dark truths begin rising to the surface. But can Amy unlock the secrets of the past before they repeat themselves?

I really don't know where on earth to begin with my review of The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas. Do I first mention the dark and compelling plot? Or should I talk about how deep beneath my skin Louise's characters managed to submerge themselves? Or, perhaps I should comment on the fact that not only was The Secret by the Lake a gripping mystery, but it was an eerie unravelling of one Somerset village's hidden past that kept me awake way past midnight? In all fairness, it really doesn't matter which way I decide to go with my review, because all roads of discussion will lead me to the same final conclusion... I loved it.

Louise Douglas begins The Secret by the Lake beautifully, as she whisks us back in time within the prologue, to the year of 1931. As a small yet delectable slice of the past is revealed to us, the character we meet remains without an identity, immediately rocketing my intrigue and leaving me with a hundred and one questions as to who she is and what, exactly, she is up to. I think I knew, from the prologue itself, that what Louise Douglas had in store for me would be quite special. Within those first few pages, nothing yet everything was revealed to me all at once, and I absolutely loved it. I was eager to know more, desperate to begin my reading of the rest of the novel, and to watch as Louise slipped the pieces into place for me and answered my questions.

Thirty years later in France, and Louise introduces us to a brand new character whose first-person narrative is a real treat. Amy has worked for the wealthy Laurent family for years, and so, when she's called back to a distraught Julia, while in Sheffield, she feels she has no choice but to go to her, which leads Amy to the cottage in the quiet, innocent-looking Somerset Village. But things are never quite as peaceful as they appear on the surface...

One thing that I must comment on in regards to Louise Douglas's writing is how stunningly atmospheric the scenes were within this novel. Chilled to the bone is how I felt throughout most of the chapters, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover an element of the supernatural which only added to the darkness within the pages. Louise managed to go so far as to keep me from stepping across the hall with the lights off because the writing had affected me so much. I adored the tone and feel of The Secret by the Lake, enticing and suffocating sometimes, I found it addictive and didn't dare to put it down.

The whole unravelling of the plot was utterly absorbing. Every chapter held a clue towards the mystery that Amy found herself in. The cottage in which she moved to, to be alongside Julia and her daughter Vivi, was old and full of character, although not in the best state. It was a superb place for this story to be told in, adding so much atmosphere to the tale.

Overall, I absolutely loved The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas. Drenched in secrets, I was completely gripped from beginning to end. It was a joy to be beside Amy as she ventured into the village and began to put the pieces of a mysterious character's past into place and I was excited to see how it would all end. Louise Douglas has created a sublime masterpiece with this novel, one which will draw me to Douglas's future releases with a keen and eager eye. Fantastic in every sense of the word, I'd read The Secret by the Lake in a heartbeat. Five cupcakes from Becca's Books.



Louise was born in Sheffield but lives in the West Country with her husband Kevin. She has three sons who she adores, and two dogs, Lil and Lola, who take her walking in the Mendip hills. She has a day job working for Europe’s biggest aircraft manufacturer and she enjoys reading, writing, drawing, walking and being with her friends, both in real life and on social media. She sincerely hopes that anyone who reads it will enjoy The Secret by the Lake, which was completely inspired by Blagdon Lake, close to her home.

You can find Louise Douglas on Facebook | Twitter | louisedouglas.co.uk








A DOUBLE Prowse cover reveal!

It's a very exciting morning here on Becca's Books because today, I'm helping to reveal not one, but TWO fabulous new book covers, both of which belong to the wonderful Amanda Prowse. These are re-designs of the covers of Perfect Daughter and Another Love, and I think that they look fantastic.

Before the big reveal, take a look at the original covers for these two titles...

 

And now for the reveal of the two brand-spanking-new designs!

 

Aren't they powerful? As much as I adored the previous covers, I really do feel that the new designs make them feel that much more striking and real. Very sophisticated and edgy, I cannot wait to see what's in store for readers behind these images...

Check out the blurbs to find out more:


Once upon a time, Jacks Morgan had dreams.
She would have a career and travel the world. She would own a house on the beach, and spend long nights with her boyfriend strolling under the stars. 

But life had other ideas. First Martha came along, then Jonty. Then her elderly mother moved in, and now their little terrace in Weston-super-Mare is bursting at the seams.

Jacks gave up on her dreams to look after her family. If only, just for once, her family would look after her...


The new gritty, emotional bestseller from Amanda Prowse.
In the early years of their love affair, Romilly was happy. She had worked hard for her stunning, modern house in one of Bristol's most fashionable suburbs. She adored her gorgeous, gap-toothed daughter and her handsome, kind husband. Sure, life was sometimes exhausting - but nothing that a large glass of wine at the end of the day couldn't fix.
And then a new neighbour arrived and everything unravelled. A glass of wine became a bottle; one bottle became two. Romilly's family were once everything to her. Now, after years of hiding the drinking, she must finally admit that she has found another love...

Another Love by Amanda Prowse arrives January 16th 2016.


Amanda has always obsessively crafted short stories and scribbled notes for potential books. Six years ago, she quit her job as a management consultant and began writing full time. Her first book, Poppy Day is a contemporary novel following an army wife whose incredible love for her husband gives her the courage to set out to rescue him after he was taken hostage in Afghanistan. Originally self-published in October 2011, Poppy Day quickly became a bestseller and Amanda joined the prestigious Head of Zeus publishing house.

The second in the No Greater Love series, 'What Have I Done?' was an eBook sensation where women worldwide identified with the theme of domestic abuse in middle class households and it was subsequently voted a 'Best Book of 2013' by Amazon Kindle. Amanda followed this by joining the team of the ITV This Morning show as their resident author in 2013.

All of Amanda's books in the No Greater Love series share one common theme - the main characters are ordinary women who find themselves in extraordinary situations where their strength, resourcefulness and determination is tested to their very limits.

Amanda's ambition is to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can't possibly read another book until the memory fades...

You can find Amanda Prowse on Facebook | Twitter | amandaprowse.org



























Lost Girls by Angela Marsons | Book Review

Title - The Lost Girls
Author - Angela Marsons
Publication Date - November 6th 2015
Publisher - Bookouture
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided via NetGalley)
Pages - 359

Two girls go missing. Only one will return.
The couple that offers the highest amount will see their daughter again. The losing couple will not. Make no mistake. One child will die.

When nine-year old best friends Charlie and Amy disappear, two families are plunged into a living nightmare. A text message confirms the unthinkable; that the girls are the victims of a terrifying kidnapping.

And when a second text message pits the two families against each other for the life of their children, the clock starts ticking for D.I. Kim Stone and the squad.

Seemingly outwitted at every turn, as they uncover a trail of bodies, Stone realises that these ruthless killers might be the most deadly she has ever faced. And that their chances of bringing the girls home alive, are getting smaller by the house...

Untangling a dark web of secrets from the families' past might hold the key to solving this case. But can Kim stay alive long enough to do so? Or will someone's child pay the ultimate price?

It's no exaggeration when I say that I'm not a reader of this genre. At least, I wasn't until Bookouture author Angela Marsons stepped on the scene and turned my head towards something out of the ordinary in regards to my reading habits. In truth, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Angela's Bookouture debut Silent Scream, even more so when I turned the final page of her second novel in the series Evil Games. Perhaps that same surprise should have made an appearance when I finished Lost Girls? Who knows? All I do know is that this book was an absolute triumph, showcasing perfectly Angela Marsons' talent and passion for the D.I. Kim Stone series.

A sweeping, courageous and pulse-raising story, Angela Marsons takes things one step further in Lost Girls. A twisted, cruel game, the kidnapping of two young girls, and the tick-tocking of the clock as Kim Stone steps up against one of her hardest cases yet, this novel has to be the most hard-hitting, nail-biting and excruciating of the three. Not only is Kim again racing against time in order to keep the loss of life at bay, but she's embroiled also in the dynamics of a panic-stricken family with secrets of their very own simmering just beneath the surface.

Black Country based, Kim Stone and her impressive team are back in the throes of a terrifying investigation. I'm sure I said the very same thing within my reviews of Angela's previous books in the D.I. Kim Stone series, but arriving back beside Kim always fills me with a strange sort of comfort. Put it this way, if ever I needed a kick-ass heroine by my side, Kim Stone would definitely be my go-to woman. Finding herself face-to-face with a person she'd shared a slice of her past alongside, more of Kim Stone is revealed to the reader. I don't know about you, but I absolutely love how, even now, after three books, I still feel that Kim Stone is a mystery to me. Not so much that I don't understand her, but more along the lines of, I know enough to understand but I'm still intrigued. Emotions very rarely stand in Kim's way when she's dealing with the cases handed to her, but this time, with two young girls' lives on the line, it's a different story. The case brings forward memories for Kim, memories involving things she would hate to see be repeated and so, in true Kim Stone style, she gives the case everything she's got, which turns out to be a whole damn lot.

The entirety of Lost Girls had me sat right on the edge of my seat. If I'd thought that the previous novels were enough to have me digging my fingernails into my Kindle case, then this time round, I basically shredded it to smithereens. It was tense, it was nerve racking, it was exactly what I'd been hoping for and then some. Angela has such an incredible way of shaping and forming my moods when reading her words. Atmospheres are handed to me beautifully, allowing my focus to sharpen and alter on different aspects as the story progresses. From one chapter to the next, I found myself faced with something new and dangerous. With every flick of a page, the tension only increased, and by the time I reached the end of Lost Girls, I felt as if I'd really been put through my paces. These aren't just words that Angela puts before you. They're stepping-stones into her novels that allow you to feel everything that Kim Stone experiences. It may sound ridiculous, but I felt as if I were part of the team myself, as if I were discovering everything right beside Kim. Every clue, every moment of communication between the kidnappers and the parents. It was electric and addictive, the plot seamlessly sewn together, all in all providing me with yet another absolutely brilliant read that has me even firmer in my love for Angela Marsons and her novels.

Becca's Books is awarding Lost Girls by Angela Marsons with five scrummy cupcakes. If you had told me that one day I'd be this gushing about a crime novel, I probably wouldn't have believed you. But I'm concrete in now saying that I'll be looking forward to Angela Marsons' future releases for a very long time to come. A complete winner with me.


You can find Lost Girls by Angela Marsons on -








     

   

     







      



Conditional Love by Cathy Bramley | Blog Tour

Today on Becca's Books, I'm absolutely delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Cathy Bramley's gorgeous novel Conditional Love, alongside the fabulous Sophie from Reviewed The Book. I'll be sharing with you lovely book folk the opening of Conditional Love so that you can take a glimpse at the loveliness within for yourselves!


What surprises might life have in store for you?

A takeaway, TV and tea with two sugars is about as exciting as it gets for thirty-something Sophie Stone. Sophie's life is safe and predictable, which is just the way she likes it, thank you very much.

But when a mysterious benefactor leaves her an inheritance, Sophie has to accept that change is afoot. There is one big catch; in order to inherit, Sophie must agree to meet the father she has never seen.

Saying 'yes' means the chance to build her own dream home, but she'll also have to face the past and hear some uncomfortable truths...

With interference from an evil boss, warring parents, an unreliable boyfriend and an architect who puts his foot in it every time he opens his mouth, will Sophie be able to build a future on her own terms - and maybe even find love along the way?

Chapter 1

 I woke up on the floor, wedged between the bed and bedside table. My hip bone was bruised, my skin was mottled with cold and I had pins and needles in my arm. Painted across my face was the smug smile of a woman who hadn’t got much sleep the night before. Getting up was a priority; I was freezing and I really didn’t want Marc to wake up and find me down here.

It took a full thirty seconds of grunting, shuffling, inelegant flailing of limbs and a carpet burn to my right buttock to wriggle free. Not a pretty sight.
I sighed with pleasure at the slumbering, golden-haired Adonis taking up the entire width of the mattress. He looked so peaceful. He was certainly a deep sleeper; he hadn’t even woken up when he’d pushed me out of the bed.
Silently, I opened the drawer, took out the card I’d lovingly made for him with my own fair hands and slid it under the pillow. Then I slipped back under the duvet and perched on the edge, savouring the heat from his perfectly honed body. I propped myself up on my elbow and gazed at him.
It was Valentine’s Day and I had a boyfriend.
I couldn’t help grinning.
Last year – and the year before that, come to think of it – I had been single and I’d had to hibernate for a full twenty-four hours until the dreaded day was history and I could stop feeling marginalized by society. In fact, since Jeremy a few years ago – I shuddered at the memory of my
controlling ex-boyfriend – I hadn’t let anyone get close. But Marc was different.
He and I had been together for nine months and last night was the first time that he had stayed over. I’d invited him to before now but he had a stall on Sneinton market and usually had to get up for work really early and said he didn’t want to wake me. But last night he’d said he didn’t have to be there until nine, so he might as well stay. How romantic – to choose Valentine’s Day as the first time to wake up next to me!
Right, let’s get the party started.
I coughed lightly but there was no response, not a flicker of his golden eyelashes.
I coughed more sharply and this time he stirred and stretched, threatening my precarious position on the edge of the bed, and I grabbed hold of his arm.
Oh, those biceps!
‘Morning, princess.’ He yawned and gave me an almighty slap on the bottom.
I knew this was his idea of being affectionate but it was hardly the most romantic wake-up call. I replied with my own delicate yawn, and smiled in what I hoped was a ‘Sleeping Beauty awakened by a True Love’s Kiss’ type manner.
He picked up his watch, swore under his breath and swung his legs over the side of the bed.
I flopped onto my back and pulled the duvet up, enjoying the extra room in the bed. Also enjoying the view of muscles rippling across chest as he pulled his jeans up over firm thighs. What a man!
Oh no, I was a bit slow on the uptake there, he was getting dressed! That wasn’t first on my agenda of love.
Marc looked down at me, his face suddenly serious. Oh my giddy aunt! He was working up to something.
He cleared his throat. ‘Sophie, we need to talk.’


Cathy Bramley is the author of the best-selling romantic comedies Ivy Lane, a four-part serialised novel (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter), the Appleby Farm series and Conditional Love. All are being published as paperbacks in 2015. She lives in a Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two daughters and a dog.

Her recent career as a full-time writer of light-hearted, romantic fiction has come as somewhat of a lovely surprise after spending the last eighteen years running her own marketing agency. However, she has been always an avid reader, hiding her book under the duvet and reading by torchlight. Luckily her husband has now bought her a Kindle with a light, so that's the end of that palaver.

You can find Cathy Bramley on Facebook | Twitter | cathybramley.co.uk
You can find Conditional Love on -

Be sure to follow the rest of the fabulous #ConditionalLove blog tour, involving some truly special bloggers!