Archive for May 2013

Children's Book Spotlight - Penguin in Peril by Helen Hancocks

Penguin in Peril is written and illustrated by Helen Hancocks and is a lovely hard backed book for children aged 3+ years. It was published in February 2013 by Templar Publishing.

The story follows three very hungry cats who decide to steal a penguin to help them catch fish. So, off they go to the zoo and kidnap a poor penguin. However, the penguin soon escapes his feline captors and the story focuses on the penguin's quest to get back home to the zoo. But, he is mistaken for a nun and a waiter before finally getting home for his 'fish supper'. The cats get their just desserts for their crime - sent to jail with a lifetime of gruel!

This is a fun book that children will surely enjoy as they try to find the penguin as he tries to blend into his surroundings. The illustrations are beautiful and very colourful and Helen Hancocks uses a mixture of crayon, watercolour, ink and pen, combined digitally. A recommended read for all those parent and child bedtime story moments.


Run Rabbit Run by Kate Johnson

Sophie Green is in trouble yet again! Being an ex-spy isn't easy. It seems the universe is conspiring against her and once again someone sinister and deadly has her in their targets once again. When Sophie's old boss is found dead, Sophie is accused of his murder. She does the one thing her instincts tell her to - she runs and gets as far away as she can.

Sophie has a drop dead gorgeous boyfriend - Luke. He himself is a government agent and is desperate to know where Sophie is and whether she is safe. He adores everything about her and risks his own career in an effort to find out as much information as he can to help Sophie clear her name. However, Sophie is not alone on the run as she has the very handsome Jack with her. Like Sophie, Jack has been framed for murder also. Should Sophie trust Jack? Can she even trust Luke? As if this wasn't enough, the 'bulldog' known as Harrington is coming after her to bring her to justice for her alleged crimes. Will her life ever regain some semblance of normality?

This book is part of the Sophie Green Mystery series and is book number 4 in the series. However, it can be read as a stand alone book and nothing was taken from the story because I hadn't read the others in the series. Sophie Green is an extremely likable character and reminded me of a ditzy version of Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo. Sophie is quirky, loving, headstrong and definitely unpredictable. She goes through a lot in this book and is tested beyond her physical and emotional limits.
I found this book very enjoyable. Although, the amount of travelling that main characters do throughout the story did start to make my head spin! Must have cost a fortune in air fare! I'd recommend this book for those of you who like a thriller with a leading lady wielding a gun and deciding her own fate! Go Sophie! 

The Things We Never Said by Susan Elliot Wright


Its 1964 and Maggie wakes up in a mental hospital with no recollection of why she is there. Her memories are fuzzy and she is desperate to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and get some answers to this mystery. In the present day however, Jonathan and his wife are expecting their first baby. All is not well and Jonathan feels panicked and unsure of the type of father he will become. He has difficulties also in his job as a teacher. His relationship with his own father is fractured and awkward and Jonathan feels he can never be good enough in his father’s eyes. When Jonathan’s father dies, a detective starts asking questions about crimes that happened before Jonathan was born and Maggie and Jonathan’s stories become interweaved as the two mysteries collide and  provide answers that turn both their lives around in a way neither could imagine.

I love the way this story was told, with flashbacks to Maggie’s life both before her time in the psychiatric ward and to her struggle with her memory loss. Some things for Maggie are too painful to remember. Jonathan’s story is one of a man who is still trying to find his place in the world and within his family, striving for acceptance. This is a beautifully told story that sees the characters deal with grief, pain and fear. It looks at the stigma around mental illness and the expectation that one should be able to move on from grief without help or support. However, it is essentially a story about love and the bonds that cannot be broken, no matter what life holds. A beautifully written book with wonderful and complex characters who are thrown together by a chain of events that neither has any control over. With a beautiful book cover too, this book is one I'd highly recommend.

I received an ARC of this book to provide an honest and impartial review. My review also appeared on the Lovereading site.


Promo!!! Embroiled by Darlene Jones

Brook Cottage Books is so pleased to announce that Darlene Jones has released another new book. This one is entitled Embroiled and its the fourth and last book in the Em and Yves Series. Here's a little bit about the book and Darlene too.

What if I could go “up there?” Why does this obsession drive Emily’s life when she doesn’t believe in heaven? Even the wonderful Dr. David can’t help her find the answers she needs.

Learning that she has lived other lives shocks Emily. Then Yves takes her to his world. There she meets gods and Powers and people rescued from doomed planets—living the perfect heavenly life. She knows she belongs“up there” with Yves, but all is not as idyllic as it appears. Emily is the only one who sees the danger. Will she be able to save Yves and his world?



A long time ago, I lived in Mali. Every single day, I wished I could wave a magic wand to relieve the heart-wrenching poverty. The story line of my books reflects my desire to wave that wand and make the world a better place. If only wishes could come true. And of course, every novel needs its love story, so along with the sci-fi magic, I’ve added the requisite romance.
I've always believed we can't be the only beings existing in the vastness of the universe. There must be others “out there somewhere” and I brought some of them along for the ride.The setting stays, for the most part, within the realities of our world, but I've found that I love the magic the sci-fi element of other beings can bring to the story.


Reviewer in the Spotlight............Sharon Goodwin!

JB: Brook Cottage Books is chuffed to bits to welcome a very prestigious blogger, the lovely Sharon Goodwin! Welcome Sharon. Pull up a chair and make yourself at home!

SHARON: Hi JB, thanks for hosting me today on Brook Cottage Books.  I’m feeling quite cosy sat here with my feet up and the heat of the wood burner J 

JB: Tell me a little about your blog

SHARON: My blog is called Jera’s Jamboree and it’s an eclectic book blog.  When I first started blogging the advice was to stick to one genre as they are the most popular … however I couldn’t do that.  I couldn’t restrict myself to just one genre.  Just think of all those worlds I’d be missing out on!  I love pinks and mauves so you’ll see this coloured theme on my blog … despite that, I do review and host authors from all genres.  I also enjoy sharing any bookish news that comes my way whether that’s a writing competition or a sneak peek at a book that’s due out in the future. My blog to me is a way of sharing my love of all things literary.  At the time I started out I had no idea how supportive and friendly the book blogging community was – that has been an added bonus for me J

 JB: How did you come up with the name for your blog? 

SHARON: Jera is a rune from the Nordic divination system.  I am a person who believes in cycles (not the ones you pedal J) and the harvest … of reaping what is sown.  The time was right for my blog to start taking shape and so this is why I chose Jera (I quite like this definition of the rune  I wanted my blog to grow and change to meet the needs of blog readers and I hope I am achieving this!  A large celebration or party?  Exactly how I feel about reading and supporting others in the writing and reading community (Jamboree). 

JB: What sort of books do you like to read? 

SHARON: I’ve been through different phases throughout my life.  As a child it was those adventures Enid Blyton took us on.  During school it was mostly those prescribed to read for the curriculum.  My mum used to read Mills & Boon and epics and they found their way to me after she had read them.  A work colleague introduced me to science fantasy and I just couldn’t get enough.  Two of my favourite series are by Robin Hobb (The Farseer Trilogy and The Tawny Man Trilogy).  My husband introduced me to science fiction – too many authors to mention.  I’ve always loved chick lit/romance.  I’m open to read any genre … as long as the writing takes me away from the world on a journey … 

JB: Why did you decide to blog? 

SHARON: I was between projects.  Having spent three years of my leisure time tracing mine and my husband’s family tree and not being able to go any further, I thought it was about time my energies were directed somewhere else!  I had started entering competitions via blogs (not books though!) and having always been an avid reader I searched for book blogs.  After spending some time reading others, I was quite excited that this opportunity was open to me.      

JB: How long have you been blogging?

SHARON: I’ve recently celebrated my two year blogoversary (Feb 6th).  I’m still amazed I’m still blogging and still as much in love with it as I was when I first started! 

JB: Do you have any other blogs?

SHARON: As an extension of my book blog I have a book tour coordinating blog (Fiction Addiction Book Tours ) and another which showcases the books on tour (Fiction Addiction Books ON Tour ).
JB: Do you have an all-time favourite book?
SHARON: Not exactly one book … Philip Pullman His Dark Materials.  What a trilogy!   

JB: What was your favourite book of 2012?

SHARON: I couldn’t choose just one!  I do have a top 20 Fiction of 2012 …

 JB: How many books are on your TBR pile for 2013?

SHARON: 49 paperbacks and 59 Kindle …  a girl can never have too many books … 

JB: Which book on your TBR pile are you most looking forward to reading? 

SHARON: All of them …  

JB: What book surprised you the most? (in other words what book did you read that was not your usual genre and you found yourself enjoying?)

SHARON: I can answer this!  Betrayal by Gregg Olsen (an Empty Coffin novel).  This is a YA crime/suspense novel.   This was one that came through my letterbox unsolicited and it just went on the tbr pile so all the more sweeter for the effect it had on me! 

JB: Do you have a favourite author?

SHARON: Hard one to answer.  Well actually it isn’t because my answer is no.  I like different writing styles and different genres so it really would be difficult to choose. 

JB: Give 3 book recommendations for the readers of Brook Cottage Books.

1. A Treacherous Likeness by Lynn Shepherd (literary mystery)
2. Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Freemantle (historical fiction debut)
3. The First Last Kiss by Ali Harris (romance/chick lit)  Have the tissues ready ...
Thanks to the lovely Sharon Goodwin for appearing as the Reviewer in the Spotlight! Make sure you pop over to her blog!

Illicit Love by Jane Lark

Brook Cottage Books is thrilled to be part of the book tour for Illicit Love by Jane Lark.
Set in Regency England, the book's main character Ellen Harding is trapped in an arrangement that means she is nothing more than a rich man's plaything. Life's cruel set of circumstances have left her living a life she hates and leaves her being used and abused and nothing more than a commodity. Of course she wants for nothing, as the mistress of Lord Gainsborough, a savage brute of a man. But at what cost? This is a life she is desperate to escape. But, just what does Gainsborough hold over her? What is she so afraid of? Then, a chance meeting with the extremely handsome Edward Marlow leaves Ellen confused by the strength of her feeling and her desire for a man she barely knows. Is it possible that Edward feels the same? Could he be her very own hero, if Ellen wants him to be or will he use her like most of the men she has known? There is much at risk for Ellen, and indeed Edward if the couple give in to their desires. The stakes are high and both stand to lose so much.
Not usually a reader of historical romances I have to say I loved this book. Its fantastically written and the language used by the  characters is rich with the language of Regency England and at times I felt like I was in right there in that particular period of time. It was amazing. Jane Lark has obviously researched this book well and has developed such likable characters and some wonderful villains! The plot is full of twists and turns and the romantic and erotic love scenes are very tastefully done but will leave you hot under the collar! Edward is a wonderful lover, romantic, dashing and is not afraid to share his feelings. Though, there is a dark and brooding side to him too. Where can I get an Edward Marlow?  Bravo to Jane Lark for this wonderful debut novel. A great piece of writing that will have me following Jane Lark's career with interest.

Secrets of the Red Box - Author Q& A with Vickie Hall.

Brook Cottage Books is thrilled to have Vickie Hall, author of Secrets of the Red Box in the hot seat today!!! She has kindly agreed to interrogation tell us a little about herself. Welcome Vickie.
What do you love most about writing?

VH: I love creating characters, deciding their back-story and what makes them tick. I try to make them a complete person with a history so I know how they'll react in the situations I place them in. They become real to me, and I have to admit there's been more than one time after completing a book, that I've actually missed a character and was sorry the story had ended!
Tell us about your writing process.

VH: Once I have an idea, I flesh it out with character, complete with full back stories. Then I do an outline, not really detailed, but just enough to sketch out the beginning, middle, and end. Once I have that I begin whatever research might be necessary until I’m comfortable with my era, or subject matter. Next, I start writing. One trick I like to use when I have to stop for the day is to leave the story in the middle of a scene. When I come back to it the next day, I re-read several preceding pages and then pick up the writing where I left off. It’s as if I never stopped. Anyway, it works for me!
What is the best writing tip you ever received?

VH: Years ago, I was reading about Charles Dickens. He offered some writing advice that has been with me ever since (in fact I did a needlepoint picture of it and it hangs in my office): “Make then laugh, make them cry, make them wait.”
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

VH: I'd always enjoyed writing, and when I got to junior high I had a very influential English teacher who encouraged me. She asked me if I'd ever thought of becoming a writer. I guess she saw something in my assignments that must have prompted her to say this. As I thought about her question, I realised that, yes; maybe I could be a writer. I owe her a debt of gratitude for her belief in me and her suggestion. Thank you, Mrs. Harvey.
Where do your ideas come from?

VH: Some of my ideas come in my dreams. I am a very vivid dreamer, full colour, very detailed, and I am able to remember most of them. Because I enjoy writing historical fiction, I often watch the history channel and find some inspiration from that.
Do you have a favourite character you have written so far?
VH: I loved my character, Bonnie Cooper, the protagonist in Secrets of the Red Box. She's very complicated, flawed, and far more real than most fictional characters. The great thing about her, though, is how she is transformed by love - something she's known little about in her life. She is somewhat tragic, but also very vulnerable and a tenacious survivor.

Please tell us in 20 words or less, why we should read your book Secrets of the Red Box?

VH: Not only will you be dying to know what secrets are in the red box, you won’t be disappointed!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
VH: Shopping, watching old movies on TCM, and researching my next idea.
State 5 random facts about yourself.

VH: I'm a strawberry blonde, I wear size 11 shoes (I know!), I love muscle cars, I compose music and play 5 different instruments, and I hate avocados.

Any new projects coming up?

VH: Yes! I'm working on a new manuscript about a fake medium in 1910 Baltimore who gets drawn into solving a murder. It's really progressing well and will be quite different than some of my other books.

Do you have a favourite quote, quip, or saying? What is it?
VH: My favourite quote is from George Eliot: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” I started seriously submitting manuscripts in my early thirties and got nothing but rejection letters. I became discouraged and decided to stop writing. Still, I always believed I was meant to be a writer, and so pursued my efforts again several years later. This quote holds special significance for me!
Lets find out a bit more about the book.................................
' Bonnie has secrets to keep - secrets with the potential to destroy lives, including her own. Running from her destructive and pain filled past, she recreates herself, believing she has escaped the damning evidence hidden in the red box. When her former life is revealed by a cruel twist of fate, Bonnie faces losing everything, including Glen, the only man she’s ever loved. But is Bonnie the woman he thinks she is? A psychological suspense set against the backdrop of the 1940s, Secrets of the Red Box is sure to keep you guessing to the very end!'

How to Party Online by Janice Horton

Many of the regular readers of the blog will recognise the name Janice Horton. Janice has written some fabulous books such as How do you Voodoo and Reaching for the Stars, to name but a few. I am such a fan of Janice's work I was hugely interested when Janice alerted me to the fact that she was writing a new book called How To Party Online. This is not a work of fiction but an invaluable guide on how to promote your book in the wonderful virtual world that is the Internet.
I really wish I had read this book before hosting my very first Giveaway. It is full of valuable tips on how to promote your product. The handy tips could be used to promote any product, not just books. In the book, Janice takes us through each of the planning stages of all her virtual book promotions and points out that you don't have to have much, if any, experience of hosting your own online parties and promotions. Janice herself was a novice when she first began and after attending a couple of her online parties I can safely say that Janice hosts one mean party! The book sets out in easy to follow steps how to prepare for your party and engage your audience. As a blogger, I have found a few things in this book that I will be using to promote my blog and prepare for my next giveaway.
Janice's parties are fun, inventive and has those elements that are vital for promotion - reader participation and heaps of fun! From the perspective of a book blogger I was thrilled to read in the book this invaluable advice that Janice offers to other authors - '....most book blogger reviewers read and review books as a hobby and, although they appreciate receiving review copies free of charges from authors and publishers, they do not get paid for their honest reviews and often have to fit in reading time in and around working full time.' Well said that woman! This is such a handy little book that I devoured in one sitting and have lots of notes highlighted throughout. I'm off to check out a few things mentioned in the book. Thanks Janice!

Author Blog:
Author Facebook Page
Amazon Author Page
Associate Author & Editor at:

I received a free copy of this book for a honest and unbiased review.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

This book spends an evening with two couples in an Amsterdam restaurant; two brothers and their wives. One is an up and coming politician and the other a teacher. Throughout the evening, the conversations are stilted and the tension palpable. Many words are left unspoken, creating great awkwardness throughout each course of the dinner. Not only are the couples linked through blood and marriage but also because their two 15 year old sons are friends. However, their children have committed a heinous crime and the couples must decide what course of action to take. Who will protect their child and turn a blind eye?

This is an interesting story, albeit I felt a little slow to start. However, once the reader’s interest is piqued, the story draws you in, and you become intrigued as to how far will their parents go to do what they consider the right thing? It poses a serious moral dilemma for every parent – how far would you go to protect your child? What sort of secrets would you keep? Would you break the law yourself? Would you risk your marriage?

The story is told through a series of flashbacks and dinner conversation, and you can almost feel the tension between the characters. Polite conversation is made when you feel all they really want to do is hide away and forget they know the truth about their children. The book has a few surprising twists and the reader is left surprised by who makes certain decisions and who takes the moral high ground. We find out a lot of background information in relation to the central characters and there are definitely a few surprises there too. A good and interesting read that will be the basis for many a dinner conversation between parents. Lets face it. Who wants to ever be put in the position these characters find themselves in? Would your relationship with your child ever be the same again?


I received a free copy of this book to write an honest and unbiased review for and you can read my review HERE and buy the book directly from the site.

Author in the Spotlight - Richard F Holmes

Brook Cottage Books is thrilled to have Richard F Holmes as our very interesting Author in The Spotlight! I'll let Richard tell you a little about himself..................

I was born in London in 1955 and have lived a very topsy turvey life. I left school at 15 with no qualifications, and had I not left voluntarily, I would have been asked to leave. I always felt that I didn't fit in anywhere, and as a result, by the time I reached the age of 17 I'd had 24 jobs. I joined the army in 1976 hoping that it would give me a purpose in life but instead I became even more disillusioned and turned to alcohol. I hated the army because I found it to be such a hypocritical organisation and as soon as I was eligible I bought myself out.

Whilst in the military however, I did enjoy my experiences in Germany and in 1980 went back there to work, staying for six years. My heavy drinking continued during my time in Germany and by the time I returned to the UK in 1986 I was heading down into a deep depression. I managed to haul myself out of it in the mid-to-late 1990's but my life hit an all-time low in 2000.

In early 2001 I found my spiritual pathway and started to turn my life around. I now live in Gloucestershire in the UK and I'm a successful medium and healer. I'm also the author of eight spiritual publications and have produced five meditation and two chanting CDs. I'm a workshop facilitator in various spiritual topics and I also give profound interpretations of dreams.

There are plans in 2013 for another two CDs and another two books
Richard has quite a few books in circulation. Lets find out about one of them, Fragments of Divinity, from Richard himself.........

This is the first book in the Fragments Of Divinity series, and like all my other books, is for anyone and everyone from age very young to very old who is searching for a deeper spiritual understanding.  The book itself is written in the style of a blog; the idea to create it in this way came from the works of Paramahansa Yogananda.  
Yogananda was the first Indian yogi to take up residence in the West and he was the founder of The Self Realisation Fellowship in the US.  He departed this Earth in 1952, but left an amazing legacy of profound spiritual insights totalling over 1,700 pages.  In order to keep their guru’s work alive the fellowship released it in a series of smaller volumes.  Having purchased a number of these truncated works myself I noted how helpful it was to have potentially very complicated texts condensed down into small volumes.  One such book is only 28 pages long and can fit neatly into a breast pocket.  So, having read a number of these smaller volumes I came up with the idea for the Fragments Of Divinity series.  In keeping with my previous work I have written Fragments in a very reader friendly and easy-to-understand way; some of the first spiritual books I read when I was first discovering my own spiritual pathway were written in such a way that when I got to the end I still didn’t have a clue.  
As I tend to write about my own actual experiences my books are self-researching, which is a bonus, because it tends to reduce the writing time as well.  Once I finished procrastinating and actually started the project, the book was finished very quickly and I decided on the name Fragments Of Divinity because of the blog style nature, in other words, because it is essentially a series of short spiritual articles.   
Anyone who is searching for a deeper meaning to life or who is looking for answers to those seemingly unanswerable questions that tend to nag away at us will find Fragments Of Divinity a very interesting and thought provoking read.
Thanks so much to Richard for providing us with such an interesting feature today.




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