Friday, 15 January 2021

The Art of Creativity - Susie Pearl



So pleased to be on the Blog Tour today.


Description

Discover the daily habits of highly creative people.

What do most highly creative people have in common? What are the habits they cultivate? What is 'the flow' and how do you get into it?

THE ART OF CREATIVITY is a practical guide to help you unlock your creative potential and find fulfilment and happiness in the process.

After 20 years working with some of the most creative people on the planet, writer and business coach Susie Pearl has unearthed the habits of highly creative people and takes you on a journey to unlock your own inner stream of creativity.

Over the course of this easy-to-follow guide, you will learn to take risks with your inner artist, ignore critics, release blocks and get into daily creative habits in order to build better projects, ideas and artistic collaborations, and unearth creative solutions and innovations.

Containing practical tools and exercises, and a step-by-step to help you along the way, THE ART OF CREATIVITY will reveal a more fulfilled, passionate and creative you.

Review

I consider myself to be fairly creative but I am always looking to improve and find out how to carry on when you lose your mojo. Whether you are in a similar position or looking to actually begin to be creative you will find a lot of helpful advice in this book.

The book is divided into chapters covering seven habits. If like me you have read self help books in the past this might sound familiar, but they only have in common the words "seven" and "habits" this is a totally different take on the wording. Covering amongst other subjects Fears and Blocks, Journaling and even your breathing and taking a nap. There's even a mention of Coronavirus bringing this work right up to date. 

I learnt quite a few things that I haven't found in my reading in this area before. Such as the brain has five different brainwave states. Whilst you might not need to know the science behind it, Susie then takes us through how this affects our thinking at different times of the day. She also goes on to how to boost those brainwaves to achieve a higher state of creativity.

This is definitely a book to dip back into and remind yourself of the tips and techniques and all round good advice. There's also useful blank pages to jot down thoughts and ideas to put into practice the exercises in the book. Whilst this book isn't going to make you into the next Da Vinci it's certainly food for thought, and has many ways to look at not only creativity but your life differently too.

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars. My thanks to Random Things Tours for a copy of the book to review.

Author

Susie Pearl is a writer, podcaster and a host of workshops on creative
writing, visioning and meditation. She is a mentor and holistic coach for
companies such as MTV, Huffington Post, Google and Sony. She is the
author of Instructions for Happiness and Success (2012) and has been
involved in writing and collaborating on international bestselling titles
including The Art of Eating Well with Hemsley & Hemsley and contributed to research for Paul McKenna's I Can Make You Rich. She is the founder of a
celebrity PR agency in London, and lives between London and Ibiza. She
hosts the Conversations with Susie Pearl podcast and is a cancer survivor.

You can follow Susie at: 

Twitter: @susie_pearl 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/susiepearlwriter

Instagram: www.instagram.com/susiepearlx 

susiepearl.com / conversationswithsusiepearl.com

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

The Dark Room - Sam Blake


Delighted to be on the blog tour today.



Description

A pacey and thrilling tale from the author of the number one Irish Times bestseller,Keep Your Eyes on Me. 

 

Hare's Landing, West Cork. A house full of mystery... 

Rachel Lambert leaves London afraid for her personal safety and determined to uncover the truth behind the sudden death of a homeless man with links to a country house hotel called Hare's Landing. 

New York-based crime reporter Caroline Kelly's career is threatened by a lawsuit and she needs some thinking space away from her job. But almost as soon as she arrives, Hare's Landing begins to reveal its own stories - a 30-year-old missing person's case and the mysterious death of the hotel's former owner. 

As Rachel and Caroline join forces, it becomes clear that their investigations are intertwined - and that there is nothing more dangerous than the truth... 


Review

This is a bit of a slow burner, but once it takes off it's a real page turner.

There are two strong women characters in this book, who end up staying at the same country house hotel in Ireland - Hare's Landing. Both are originally from Ireland but Rachel visits from England and Caroline from New York. Both have separate reasons for being in Ireland, one for safety and one as an escape from a work lawsuit. 

There were a few threads to this book and some combined whilst another was really the back story of why Caroline was in Ireland. That was just as intriguing in its own way. I mentioned that the book was a slow burner at first, but I was enjoying the descriptions of the places, and once they were at Hare's Landing the hidden treasures they saw and discovered. 

Rachel brings with her from England, Jasper a German Shepherd ex police dog, and for me the star of the book. I just loved how he protected the two women and had his own agenda also.

An extra dimension to the plot was the eerie music that only Caroline kept hearing, and where this fitted in once the action began. It was a little unnerving and whilst I feared for the two women, I was also trying to be a sleuth and figure out what was real and what was ghostly!

I really liked that both women had a background that lent itself to them becoming sleuths. I had several theories myself, which were mostly wrong! - but it was certainly an enjoyable and atmospheric read. 

I'm giving this book 4 out of 5 stars and my thanks to Random Things Tours for a proof of the book to review.



Sam Blakeis a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O'Loughlin, the founder of The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the hugely popular national writing resources website Writing.ie. She is Ireland's leading literary scout and has assisted many award-winning and bestselling authors to publication. As Sam Blake, she has written four previous novels and has topped the Irish bestseller chart. 

Saturday, 9 January 2021

The Coffinmaker's Garden - Stuart MacBride


Description

A village on the edge…
As a massive storm batters the Scottish coast, Gordon Smith’s home is falling into the North Sea. But the crumbling headland has revealed what he’s got buried in his garden: human remains.

A house full of secrets…
With the storm still raging, it’s too dangerous to retrieve the bodies and waves are devouring the evidence. Which means no one knows how many people Smith’s already killed and how many more he’ll kill if he can’t be found and stopped.

An investigator with nothing to lose…
The media are baying for blood, the top brass are after a scapegoat, and ex-Detective Inspector Ash Henderson is done playing nice. He’s got a killer to catch, and God help anyone who gets in his way.

Review

I'm going to start with a bit of a disclaimer as this is not something I would normally read, but I thought as it was on Pigeonhole I would give it a go. It really wasn't to my personal taste.

I found it hard going as there were references to events from previous books I had not read. Luckily other readers were able to shed light on this for me. Ash Henderson is an ex-DI and now works for a consultancy firm supporting Police Scotland. This obviously gives him a little more room to "do his own thing" than if he worked for the Police, but towards the end of the book it became a little too far fetched for me.

There were some wonderful Scottish words which I had to look up, but they certainly brought a colour to the story. I also liked the humour Ash brought to the book. It was that which balanced out the gruesome violence and kept me going through the book. It wasn't as bad as some books with violence which I have attempted to read had to stop before finishing. I did make it to the end of this book.

It was certainly a unique plot with the house where the murderer had buried his victims falling into the sea and so his crimes were revealed after a 56 year stretch. At the same time Ash and his colleague are investigating a child murder who is on the loose. I rather liked the actual police work, it was the descriptions of the crimes that I wasn't comfortable with reading about. 

I'm giving this book 3 out of 5 stars. My thanks to Pigeonhole for the staves to read.

Thursday, 7 January 2021

Victoria Park - Gemma Reeves

 



So pleased to be on the Blog Tour for this book today. 


Description 

A playful, lyrical novel about otherness, change, and the gap between generations in a London community. 

Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona's declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year.  

Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss. 
 
With sharply observed insight into contemporary urban life, and characters we take to our hearts, Gemma Reeves has written a moving, uplifting debut which reflects those universal experiences that connect us all. 


Review

This book drew me in with the writing, which is almost poetic at times. It's not a chick lit view of the world, you need to take time to read and savour what goes on.

This is a book about diverse lives - nothing out of the ordinary happens - except everyday life. It's the way it's written that is special. It documents a life before the pandemic, a masterpiece of observation of life that goes on everyday somewhere. It's a social commentary that needs to be preserved and read again from time to time.

The book goes through each month of the year and begins with the lives of Wolfie and Mona. It becomes obvious fairly quickly that Mona has dementia, unfortunately she isn't with Wolfie, she's out and about oblivious to the modern day world. 

Each month of the book we meet new people and some of the people we've met before reappear in the story. Overlaps and connections are made by the reader as we realise how everyone in the book fits together. 

The end of the book was bittersweet for me. This story is a powerful one and you need to be prepared for some realistic writing about acid attacks, comas, dementia and life.

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars. My thanks to Random Tour Things for a copy of the book to review.




Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London. 





Monday, 4 January 2021

Art and Soul - Claire Hutson

 



Description


There’s no problem Becky Watson can’t fix. Except her own love life…

Struggling single mother Becky Watson longs to revive her career as a life-fixer, working miracles to solve her clients’ problems, no matter how big or small. Since the birth of her two-year-old son she has been stuck preventing wedding fiascos for the richest and rudest residents of the Comptons, a charming, leafy area of southern England known for its artistic heritage.

So when semi-reclusive local artist Charlie Handren reluctantly hires Becky to fix his six-year creative slump, she’s delighted to set him up with a come-back exhibition and Rachel Stone, the woman of his dreams.

Though they get off to a rocky start, Becky and Charlie soon become close. But as the beautiful Rachel becomes Charlie’s muse, Becky is forced to wonder: will giving Charlie everything he wants mean giving up her own happily ever after?


Review

I'm not going to lie - the mention of a slice of cake was the hook to get me to read this book. However, what I enjoyed so much more were the art references!

We meet Becky just as she's been asked to intervene and fix the life of a semi-reclusive artist. You can imagine how that goes at first - basically he tells her to just get lost. However, Becky wins him round and gets the job as his life coach and a promise to hook him up with the woman of his dreams, Rachel Stone, the owner of a local gallery. I had a picture of a young Grace Kelly in my mind when Rachel was described, she sounds perfect (well to look at at least!).

Becky is a really realistic and down to earth character and that was true for the whole book. I felt like I had taken a peek into a real life situation. Whilst Charlie the artist, hankers after Rachel. It soon becomes apparent that Becky likes Charlie, especially as he seems to get on so well with her young son. But he's made it clear he likes Rachel and now he's got an exhibition at her gallery so they are spending a lot of time together.

I could really see this being made into a film. The plot wouldn't be amiss in a Jane Austen novel, with suitors and misunderstandings, all with a side of cake served by the wonderful best friend Ronnie. Let's not forget the art though. The author obviously knows a lot about art and described to perfection a few paintings I have seen in real life. I loved the scene where Becky got one of Charlie's paintings into The National Gallery - if only very temporarily, before a Klimt took its place.

I think this book has something for everyone and it was all for me down to a T, I loved it.
I can't believe this is a first novel. The writing has a richness of words that wrap around you and make you feel so cosy. The plot had depth with well developed characters. I was sorry when it ended.

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars. My thanks to Claire for an electronic copy of the book
for review.

You can get your own copy of Art and Soul here: https://getbook.at/ClaireHustonAandS


It’s also free to download if you have Kindle Unlimited.




About the Author

Claire Huston lives in Warwickshire, UK, with her husband and two children. Art and Soul is
her first novel.

A keen amateur baker, she enjoys making cakes, biscuits and brownies almost as much as eating them. You can find recipes for all the cakes mentioned in Art and Soul at clairehuston.co.uk along with over 100 other recipes. This is also where she talks about and reviews books.


Social Media Links

You can also find Claire on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads and Pinterest:

https://linktr.ee/clairehuston_author

Sunday, 3 January 2021

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day - Milly Johnson

 


Description

It’s nearly Christmas and it’s snowing, hard. Deep in the Yorkshire Moors nestles a tiny hamlet, with a pub at its heart. As the snow falls, the inn will become an unexpected haven for six people forced to seek shelter there…
 
Mary has been trying to get her boss Jack to notice her for four years, but he can only see the efficient PA she is at work. Will being holed up with him finally give her the chance she has been waiting for?
 
Bridge and Luke were meeting for five minutes to set their divorce in motion. But will getting trapped with each other reignite too many fond memories – and love?
 
Charlie and Robin were on their way to a luxury hotel in Scotland for a very special Christmas. But will the inn give them everything they were hoping to find – and much more besides?
 
A story of knowing when to hold on and when to let go, of pushing limits and acceptance, of friendship, love, laughter, mince pies and the magic of Christmas. 

Review

I've read many of Milly's books and this latest one is a wonderful escapist read. It's not an escape to a honeyed land - but it was all the same an enjoyable and at times bittersweet tale.

Six people are stranded just before Christmas in deep snow, they shelter in a pub, which fortunately has been well stocked for the coming Christmas festivities. However, no landlord is around and no other guests are booked in and the tiny hamlet is deserted...

We really get to know each of the guests as they spend the few days over Christmas at the pub. With nowhere else to go, and no one else around I really got a feel similar to lockdown earlier in the year. Without that experience myself I might otherwise not quite have understood the situation these travellers find themselves in.

There's lots of time for reflection and some good advice on hand from one of the six for the others, which I don't think you would go far wrong in taking heed of in real life. The book is a little bit magical and not at all realistic at times, but it also contains some down to earth realism, I think it's nicely balanced. 

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars. 

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

A Hogmanany Kiss - Elsie McArthur

 


Description

Marsaili and Will's happily ever after isn't turning out exactly like they planned...

Eighteen months after getting back together, and struggling to find a forever home in their small Highland community, they're still living in the upstairs bedroom of Marsaili's parents' croft. A chance to get away from it all for a romantic Christmas break is just what they need - Marsaili's brother is getting married, and they're going to spend two weeks in Edinburgh for the celebrations.

But when wedding mishaps, a flirtatious bridesmaid and past insecurities threaten to derail their plans, the idyllic festive getaway Marsaili and Will have been dreaming of could make them... or break them.

Reunite with all your favourite characters for a Christmas holiday they’ll never forget, in this fun, feel-good, festive sequel to The Back Up Plan

Review

Although this is a standalone novel, you would probably enjoy it more if you read The Back Up Plan first. The story begins with Marsaili in the pub with her teacher colleagues - wait a minute! Last time we met Marsaili in The Back Up Plan she was an aspiring actress, so immediately I could see things had moved on since the last book.

It was great to catch up with Marsaili and Will and find that they now live in the Highlands. Desperate for some time alone with each other they are delighted to be going to Edinburgh for a family Christmas wedding, and what a wedding it is. The festivities begin on Christmas Eve and span many days as this is a multicultural wedding. Even before the wedding itself there are some ups and downs for the couple and it's not all plain sailing for the rest of the family party either. 

I detested Sophie the bridesmaid from the first page she appeared on and didn't warm to her much from there on in. I was so hoping she wasn't going to ruin Christmas or the wedding for Marsaili. I'll leave you to read this delightful seasonal tale and find out for yourselves if she did. 

A lovely novella to snuggle down with and escape to Edinburgh, which was beautifully described, taking me back to my last visit there many years ago. 

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars. My thanks to the author for the digital copy to review.