Book review: Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton

I was attracted to this book for its cover and title – I love sunflowers! I was excited when I received an advanced copy by NetGalley for an honest review.

Book review for Sunflowers in February

Title: Sunflowers in February

Author:  Phyllida Shrimpton

Genre: Young Adult, paranormal, fiction

Blurb

Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road. She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful. and very beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance arrive, and she sees her own body, that she realises that she is in fact . . . dead.

But what is she supposed do now? Lily has no option but to follow her body and see her family  – her parents and her twin brother start falling apart.

And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity – to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time . . .

My Thoughts

What a wonderful, quirky debut. It brought tears to my eyes, made me gasp, chuckle and smile but most of all, it gave me a sense of positivity. Lily has an upbeat personality and experiencing her viewpoint made me look at the world with fresh eyes as well as reach out for the Jelly Tots. My diet has been paused again because of a book.
It is hard to review without giving anything away but it covers the consequences of a death, grief, family bonds and how precious life is. There were times it made me stop, look around me and appreciate the moment. A little bit of mindfulness in a novel.

Who can resist Jelly Tots?

Would I recommend?

Yes! This is the best book I have read this year.

Have you read this yet? Let me know your thoughts below.

 Happy reading!

It is all about Soulmates Part 2: Book Review for The One by John Marrs

This is the second book I have read recently about finding a soulmate. Whereas The Soulweaver had a traditional spiritual take on the idea, John Marrs has taken a scientific approach.

The One by John Marrs

This book had been on my TBR for a while but I was on a long reservation list at the library. Finally, I received a copy but then I was reluctant to open it. I had heard the good reviews and did not want to be disappointed if I felt it did not deserve the hype surrounding it.  I have been bitten a few times like that. The first time I heard about The One was an interview with John Marrs on Simon Mayo’ s Book Club . The idea of finding your soulmate via genetics was fascinating and tantalising close to reality. I love psychological thrillers as a genre so it needed to be read.

 

The One cover
The One by John Marrs

 

Blurb

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

My thoughts

My concern about this book not deserving the buzz surrounding it was unfounded. The One is a stunning, fast-paced thriller following five people as they meet the person their DNA dictates is the person they belong with. Each person has taken the test for different reasons, are in different circumstances and the results lead them to deal with different consequences. It is well written and leaves you asking the question “Would you take the test?”. It is a warning of what our future may hold with the rising trend for online dating and genetic discoveries.

Would I recommend?

Definitely. Buy, beg or borrow a copy and book a day off to curl up in a comfy chair to enjoy.

Have you read it?Let me know what you thought below.

Happy reading!

 

It is all about soulmates. Part 1: Book review for The Soulweaver by Heidi Catherine

I have recently read two books The Soulweaver by Heidi Catherine and The One by John Marrs. They are different styles, different genres and plots but they have one thing in common – finding your soulmate, the one person who fits and understands you like no other. The One has a scientific approach while The Soulweaver is more spiritual but they are both driven by the human desire to be with and loved by that one special person.

 

The Soulweaver by Heidi Catharine

This book snuck in on my best reads of 2017 by default because I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy via NetGalley for review. It is now available to buy in paperback and Kindle.

 

Soulweaver
The Soulweaver by Heidi Catherine

 

Blurb

She’s loved and lost him a hundred times across a thousand years. She can’t bear to lose him again. Lin’s dreams are haunted by faces of people she’s never met. Unable to shake the feeling she’s lived before, she’s drawn to Reinier—a stranger whose soul is heartbreakingly familiar from a time gone by. Reinier helps Lin unravel the mystery of her past life as Hannah, a girl who sacrificed herself for her true love, Matthew. As Lin falls hopelessly in love with Reinier, her memories of her life as Hannah sharpen, and she finds herself unable to let go of Matthew. With her heart torn in two, Lin must decide whether she should stand by Reinier’s side or track down Matthew and fight for his love. What she doesn’t know is that her decision will ripple across our troubled planet, affecting far more lives than just her own. Winner of Romance Writers of Australia’s Emerald Pro award, The Soulweaver is a story that will change the way you see the world

My thoughts

I have always had an interest in reincarnation so I was excited to read how Heidi Catherine would weave it into her story.  The Soulweaver is well-written spiritual romance with vivid, detailed imagery for scenes that would be hard to imagine otherwise. I was drawn in by the first chapter and hooked as Lin traveled across the world as to seek answers for the memories she has of Hannah’s life. I found it is easy to connect with the main characters Hannah/Lin, Matthew and Reiner which led to some heart-tugging moments It is a book that will stay with me and one I will return to over and over.

The Soulweaver would be perfect for book clubs because it provides lots of material to discuss including characters, beliefs, and experiences. It leads me to want to read more about the topic of reincarnation and would love to have a cup of tea with the Heidi Catherine to hear about her ideas and how she researched this. I am already counting down to her next book The Truthseeker in May 2018.

Would I recommend?

Yes – if you love romance novels with a paranormal, spiritual edge

To find out more about this series click here

Have you read these, what did you think?

Happy reading!

Blue Monday, Domestic Abuse and Free Book – Isolation Junction

Christmas is over and bills are hitting the door mat in anticipation for Blue Monday. It can be a hard time for everyone but it also causes the risk of domestic abuse to escalate. Domestic abuse happens behind closed doors but the statistics are eye opening. In 2015/2016 affected 1.2 million women and 651,000 males*. It can happen to anyone. It is not dependent on age, class, race or gender.  Author Jennifer Gilmour has popped over to talk about  why she is offering her debut, Isolation Junction, free for 5 days at this time of year and how it came about.

Jennifer Gilmour speaks about why she is giving her novel away for FREE

Author Jennifer Gilmore

My name is Jennifer Gilmour and I am a survivor of domestic abuse, I have published two books both with a focus on raising awareness about domestic abuse at their core. Whilst both aim to raise this awareness one is written as a work of fiction whilst the other is a compilation of survivor stories and therefore non-fiction. Both work in different ways to educate and raise awareness of this insidious and unacceptable behaviour.

Over Christmas, incidents of domestic abuse reported to the police rise. Assault and domestic murders increase 25% during the festive period with a third of them been on Christmas Day itself. Bombarded with images of the perfect nuclear family gathered around the gold baubles of a Christmas tree, it can be easy to forget that Christmas is a time of coercion, punishment and violence for many women** and men.

Now I know it isn’t Christmas anymore but January can be just as bad be-cause all those credit card bills come in alongside your usual direct debits. There is even a day in January called Blue Monday and this year its on the 15th. The date is generally reported as falling on the third Monday in January, but also on the second or fourth Monday, or the Monday of the last full week of January.
The formula uses many factors, including: weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.
Can you imagine this formula and applying it to an abusive relationship?

For 5 days my debut novel, Isolation Junction is going to be FREE on Amazon Kindle, this is the first time ever to happen. It’s the week before Blue Monday, I wonder if those reading will be inspired to take action?

I ask you all to share the link and break the silence surrounding domestic abuse.

 

UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01LX4HLT0

US link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LX4HLT0

 

Synopsis of Isolation Junction

Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband. While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘Isolation Junction’.

She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house. Through this, she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business.

It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.

After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1,000 reasons she can’t, will she be able to do it?

Will Tim help her? Will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves? Can Rose break free from this spiralling life she so desperately wants to change?

 

If you need support you can contact National Domestic Violence helpline on 0808 2000 247 or check out Jennifer’s page http://jennifergilmour.com/support/

** https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/welfare/2015/12/it-s-hardest-time-year-why-domestic-violence-spikes-over-christmas

The Cottingley Fairies Backlash Group

Bollocks! I could do without her at the meeting. I watch Edna creak in with the aid of her zimmer frame. Yes, you read that right – Edna. Not quite the elegant, ethereal Shakespearian name people expect. The days of Titania, Oberon and Morgan le Fay are over. Our parents thought they were being modern giving us up to date human names so my generation have an abundance of Ediths, Ednas and Mauds. They forgot popularity of names in the human race change in a blink of an eye and quickly disappear from use. They have come to their senses and becoming more creative, descriptive and nicer with naming their offspring while we are left with ours for many years to come, I hope.

“So is he coming?” they ask as they arrange themselves on these uncomfy hard, plastic chairs; they are not designed for wings at all. At first, I think they are inquiring about Zachariah, our oldest member but quickly realise they are asking about Trevor.

“He said he would”, I reply quickly crossing my fingers. No one can abide the man and his sneaky, slimy ways but we do love the black market wares he brings especially our favourite, Yorkshire Tea. We are quite happy to listen to him drone on and repeat his fictious tale about how he helped inspire this delicious blend of tea as long we can have some cups of this forbidden drink. I say forbidden, they are not as strict as they were about us drinking caffeine as they were in the soul crushing years of the Prohibition in the 1920s and we are unlikely to be raided for indulging in a few sips of brew.

I breathe a sigh of relief as Zachariah arrives with the help of his carer, Joseph who I hope will remember to shut the door behind him. The cold draft is causing my wings to ache. I need to tap into Zachariah’s wealth of experience of dealing with these pesky humans. We just need to keep his mind in the here and now rather than allow him to reminisce about his time with Shakespeare and his mischievous antics when he called himself Puck. He is a rare breed. As many of us have withered and died before our alloted time, he is centuries old and only now is rapidly showing signs of his age. I should be along with the others here having the time of our lives, dancing, being merry and luring unsuspecting men into our world with our flirty ways not flying with battered, creaky wings, fighting wrinkles and having shooting pains in our knees when we land. Many blame environmental factors, loss of habitat and the vices we enjoy but we know the truth.

It is all their fault, those Cottingley girls. Elsie and Frances.
Our elders warned us they were trouble and letting them see us then ultimately photograph us would come back to hurt us threefold. Being young as we were, we knew the world was changing with the advent of science and people wanted prove for everything including our existence. Without the power of human belief, we do diminish and die. Barrie and Disney were right about that part of fairy lore. The plan to allow a photo or two was perfect until the eldest child, Elsie placed paper fairies in the ground with hat pins and continued to photograph those instead. Paper fairies! We were all dressed in our finery ready to share our existence to the world and they took photos of cut outs instead. Some reasoned Elsie was at that age of teetering on adulthood and could not see us clearly so decided on direct action but others were fuming. The anger was mainly aimed at myself and those gathering here today. The air was blue that day, I can tell you.

It all came good for a while. People did believe the photos were real. Humans are gullible that way, especially when their worlds are turned upside down with war and catastrophe. The desire to believe in magic, supernatural and all things mystical flourishes which is perfect for us. They came in droves to visit the beck in the hope of seeing us themselves. Even big wigs and that fancy author, Arthur Conan Doyle from London. It was wonderful. The area was buzzing with anticipation of catching a glimpse of our ethereal forms. The energy their belief created boosted our population and we thrived. Our wings shone. When things began to crumble we let the youngest child, a sweet quiet thing see us again and catch us on film for real so our legacy could continue. We became world famous and it was all down to me.

Then they ruined it.After years of denial, they betrayed us. Both of them, even Frances who was adamant to many she did see us at the bottom of her garden. We know they have long gone now but their story has not been forgotten and those final headlines declaring us a hoax still exist but worse they are constantly being shared on social media. It is the final nail in our coffin. People are believing we are nothing but a figment of imagination, a joke or inspiration for online fiction. No wonder our wings are wrinkling and our hair is going grey prematurely. Our children have given up curdling milk and shooting Cupid’s arrow but prefer a bit tinkering on Tinder to find the perfect love match for people or create chaos by being internet trolls.

I have tried to calm my rage and hurt but it continues to grow. Direct action is needed. We need to take control. It is time to fight back and let the Cottingley fairies tell their side of the story about the girls at the beck. Heck, we may even share the secrets of the villagers. You wouldn’t believe the things people reveal and do when they think they are alone – that will get people tweeting or whatever they do and maybe they will begin to believe again.

But first, where is that cup of tea?

 

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