18 May 2020


ISBN 978-1951214401

One poor decision can tank everything. Middle-aged Laurel Peterson has struggled for a lifetime to overcome her damaging childhood. She’s managing quite well as a successful graphic artist in Scottsdale, Arizona, when life comes crashing down. She decides to indulge in just one drink to take the edge off, but a third DUI rips away everything she’s worked to build. She finds herself in the infamous Tent City jail in the scorching Arizona desert, pending a subsequent prison sentence. Laurel, determined to fight her demons, scrabbles to make real changes in her life and become sober once and for all. But, can she… with her sister’s murder, an ungrateful mother battling Parkinson’s Disease, and the stakes ratcheting upward when she’s contacted by a son she abandoned nineteen years before?
- Back Cover Blurb

"Peterson, you've got mail."
- First Sentence - Buckeye, Arizona: October 2016

"They can check out two books at a time for a week. It seems very restrictive - cripes, it is very restrictive - but its the only way to accommodate everyone because we're so over-crowded. On most days, the woman stand in line for quite a while before they are allowed in for that one hour per week."
- Memorable Moment, Page 149 

MY THOUGHTS ... I hold my hands up, whilst intrigued by the premise I began reading Radical Acceptance not expecting to have one iota of sympathy for let alone actually like Laurel but then I guess that's the writing of great characters for you. And there's no two ways about it as far as I'm concerned in Laurel Peterson Bonnie E. Carlson has a great character. 

The story of middle-aged woman who, a what, a 'functioning alcoholic'? is now in recovery; though  currently sober Laurel is fighting a continuous battle with the demon drink. A battle that is temporarily lost when one fateful night she has a drink which leads to another and another until, well, the rest, as they say is history. 

Thank goodness that her drink driving doesn't lead to any fatalities. I'm guessing that along with many other readers I wouldn't have felt for Laurel as I did if there had have been (Hmm! There's a thought. Knowing what I came to know of her would I have have quite as much empathy if their had have been a fatality?) As it was, I despaired for Laurel; part of me just wanted to shake her; 'why Laurel, why? - but then its never that simple as the author points out.

Don't get me wrong whilst this is a great exploration about the nature of addiction (and not just Laurel's, there are several other characters within the story who are likewise fighting their own demons) it's also a story about relationships (both healthy and not so healthy); not least of which is Laurel's relationship with both her narcissistic mother and her son who, having been for adopted as a child, is only now seeking her out.

Ah yes! The son.

Only a small gripe I know but  why, why were told about the son in the synopsis? Personally I'd much rather have discovered him in the book. 

But, anyway ...

That the author is not judgemental and does not lay blame at anyone's door, that she does not lead us into any conclusions as to why Laurel is the person she is but rather explores the complexities of relationships and the nature of addiction makes this a compulsive read.

And, oh yes, as a Brit I got a fascinating insight into the workings of the American judicial system and the working of their probation service.

SUMMED UP IN A SENTENCE ... An insightful look into the nature of addiction wrapped up in a story full of memorable characters.

The second book to be received from the New York- based Adelaide Books (my review of the first, Beulah Who Thought She Was Swimming, can be found here). My thanks to the publicity team for providing two paper copies.

15 May 2020


ISBN 978-1951214982

Beulah thinks she is an all-powerful Queen. She travels through wondrous ‘Watery Realms’ where she encounters ‘loyal subjects’. All the while, she's blissfully unaware that those subjects are trying to tell her something: that she’s neither powerful nor a queen! Things change when Beulah meets unruly visitors who send her on a journey of self-discovery — a journey destined to explode her vision of reality and connect her with awesome powers of the Spirit.

Beulah's story is entertaining for young and old. In a fanciful and lighthearted manner, it brings to life the wisdom of mystical texts such as the Yoga Sutras and the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
- Back Cover Blurb

Beulah woke to the fathomless Blue Below.
- First Sentence, Chapter One

Beulah sang the Song of Creation. And the Universe responded with a glorious music that underpinned everything material and non-material, It brought together the forces of things below and things above, and, in that one thing was the tingling, buzzing, ecstasy of Life.
- Memorable Moment, Page 31

MY THOUGHTS ... The tale of Beulah who, well, who thinks she is something other than what she is actually is.

According to the synopsis, 'Beulah's story is entertaining for young and old', look on the publishers website and you'll find it amongst the books for children and young adults.


Whilst the title, the cover and indeed the synopsis do indeed speak of a book written with children/young adults in mind, open it and, though the story and illustrations on the face of it appear to be aimed at  older children, there are some surprisingly deep concepts that I'm sure they might struggle with ... and that's to say nothing of the use of words such as 'scintillations'  and 'recalcitrant' which I'm certain the vast majority will struggle with.

Alas, I'm afraid that as much as I personally thought this a thought provoking read full of Eastern wisdom, that it is marketed as being for the young and the not so young alike, well, it just didn't somehow work for me.

SUMMED UP IN A SENTENCE ... Surprisingly deep for a novel of only 149 pages, I would however question its suitability for readers both young and old.  

MY sincere thanks to the team at the New York- based Adelaide Books who, having stumbled across Pen and Paper, thought I might be interested in sharing my thoughts on one or two of their books. My thoughts on their Radical Acceptance by Bonnie E Carlson is to follow on Monday 18th of May.

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13 May 2020


Today I'm pleased to have you aboard on this my turn on the Charles Dickens My Life by Derwin Hope Book Tour. For all other participating blogs please see below.

ISBN 9781913340865
When Charles Dickens died prematurely on the 9th June 1870 aged only 58, he left behind a legacy unsurpassed in English fictional literature. But he also wanted to write his true life story and this remained undone. But he also wanted to write his true life story and this remained undone.
150 years on from his death, I have found that sufficient material has now been uncovered to enable that narrative of his life story to be produced for the first time. Research amongst 15,000 of his letters, journalistic articles, documents and other relevant material connected to him have all combined to make it possible for me to piece together that evidence and, guided by the way he wrote his two travel books, has resulted in the production of this personal story in his own words that he so desired to tell. It shows exactly how, from difficult beginnings, he descended into acute humiliation and abject poverty, before then emerging due to his talent and incredible resolve, into one of the most famous men and popular authors the world has ever known. It chronicles his enormous public triumphs and his profound private turmoils, as well as the secret life he led when, on his own admission, he became “seized with lunacy”. It includes his two momentous visits to America, and his withering and radical opinions of institutions and situations he found there, as well as those he encountered at home – all expressed in his own inimitable style. This is his compelling and personal narrative, put together for the first time in a way that he wished his legacy to be told. It is the real and true story of his life.
- Synopsis

Friday the 7th of February 1812 and I was born at Portsmouth, an English seaport town, principally remarkable for mud, Jews and sailors.
- First Sentence, Chapter 1: My Early Life

Back in Devonshire Terrace, my mind became truly focused on my task ahead, the tremendous process of plotting and contriving a new book. In the agonies of this I was accustomed to walk up and down the house smiting my forehead dejectedly; and to be so horribly cross and surly, causing the boldest to fly at my approach.
- Memorable Moment, Page 149

MY THOUGHTS ... I admit to not really being into autobiographies/biographies per se - I have to really like and/or want to know about that individual concerned and Charles Dickens ... Well! Charles Dickens has interested me ever since I watched a television documentary on his 'scandalous' love affair with Nelly. However, obviously way more to the man than this, just what I was about to find out ...

150 years after his death and some 15,000 of his letters, journalistic articles, documents and other relevant material connected to him later we have this Dicken's life story as he'd have wanted it told.

Whilst there was certain aspects of Dickens life well covered there were other aspects that I longed to know more about. Perhaps unsurprisingly so when I considered that no matter how well researched; no matter how close it might have been as to how Dickens himself would have told it, its author wasn't privy to Dickens actual thoughts and conversations and thus was reliant on these letters, articles and documents etc.

Then there was that a fair proportion of the book was given over to whole paragraphs that did little more than (A) chronicle that on such a such a date Dickens met up with so and so a person or (B) list the numbers attending such and such a reading. Now incredible as this might have been (My goodness! The people he met, the numbers that attended his readings; heck, the numbers that queued in anticipation of hearing one of his readings only to be turned away) I felt that, after a while, after the initial awe had worn off, these listings became, well, a tad repetitive.

On the whole though, what a life Dickens led, fascinating to read (though I'd suggest possibly more easily digestible read bit by bit rather than in one go - the chapter index at the beginning of the book makes it  easy to pinpoint various chapters in the author's life should you be wishing to read up on a particular aspect) ... and then, of course there are his books.

Cue my second confession - whilst I have read some  Dickens' I'm not a great fan (nothing personal I can assure you, I'm just not a big fan of the so called classics in general) and thus don't know his works well. How wonderful then to learn of just some of the people, places and events that inspired such books/characters as The Old Curiosity Shop and  Oliver Twist's Nancy; books that I haven't read but now feel inspire to do so ... and lets face it you don't get much better a recommendation than to come away from a book feeling thus.

SUMMED UP IN A SENTENCE ... To my mind at 536 pages it could have been shorter but hands down to  Derwin Hope in piecing together the life of one of  literature's best known authors. 

Title -  Charles Dickens: My Life
Author - Derwin Hope
GENRE - Non-Fiction
Publication Date - 5th May 
Page Count - 536
Publisher - Clink Street Publishing

AUTHOR INFORMATION ... Derwin Hope was born in Somerset in 1944 and attended local schools until 12. He then went to the Quaker boarding, Leighton Park in Reading, where he became Head Boy, as well as captaining the school at cricket and rugby and becoming athletics champion. He then attended the College of Estate Management, London University, where he obtained a Degree in Estate Management and played rugby for the College 1st XV before deciding to become a lawyer. He joined Middle Temple as his Inn of Court and qualified as a Barrister. Following pupillage, he became a member of Western Circuit Chambers at 3, Paper Buildings, Temple, London and their annex in Winchester and practiced in the Criminal Courts  in both London (including the Old Bailey) and throughout the West Country, dealing with every type of case from shoplifting to murder. He also appeared in Courts Marital Cases in Germany, as well as acting as a specialist lawyer in Town and Country Planning inquiries and legal appeals. He wrote the book "the 1990-91 Planning Acts" as the official book on the subject for the Royal Institute of British Architects.

In 1993 he became a Recorder - a part time judge alongside his job as a Barrister - and in 2002 became a full-time Circuit Judge. For 2 years he sat in Bolton, Greater Manchester, before being transferred to Portsmouth, the birth place of Charles Dickens. After 2 years he transferred to Southampton, where he sat as the Resident Judge (the most senior) for 8 years and was appointed the Honorary Recorder of Southampton by the city. He retired from the law in 2014 and from the Honorary Recordership  in 2020. He is married to Heidi, and they have one son, Matthew, and one daughter, Zoe.

Website - https://www.dickensmylife.com/


Monday 4th May ~ Belle and the novel

Tuesday 5th May ~ Big Book Little Book

Wednesday 6th May ~ The Page Turner's Book Blog 

Thursday 7th May ~ A Day Dreamer's Thoughts

Friday 8th May ~ Donna's Book Blog 

Sunday 10th May ~ Book Mark That 

Monday 11th May ~ Jazzy Book Reviews 

Tuesday 12th May ~ Kira L Curtis

Wednesday 13th May ~ Pen and Paper

Thursday 14th May ~ Turn the Page Blog

Friday 15th May ~ Novel Kicks

Saturday 16th May ~ Library of Books and Tea

Sunday 17th May ~ Book. Blog and Candle

My thanks to Faye of Authoright for organising the tour and making sure I had a copy of the book in plenty of time.

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1 May 2020


Best wishes and a swift recovery to Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources.

Today I'm celebrating the publishing of Little White Secrets by Carol Mason not by sharing my thoughts on the book as was planned (though hopefully this will happen in the future) but by giving the book a shout.

Little White Secrets Cover
ISBN 978-1542004978

A daughter pushing the limits. A marriage ready to crack. A secret that can break them.

​For Emily Rossi, life may not be perfect, but it’s pretty close. She has a great career, a house in the country, a solid marriage to Eric and two wonderful children—tennis superstar Daniel and quiet, sensitive Zara. But when her fourteen-year-old daughter brings home a toxic new best friend, Emily’s seemingly perfect family starts to spiral out of control.

​Suddenly Zara is staying out late, taking drugs and keeping bad company. And just when Emily needs Eric to be an involved father, he seems too wrapped up with his job in London to care. What’s more, he’s started drinking again.

​When a dark secret from the past emerges, Emily’s life is turned upside down. Struggling to protect the people she loves, can she save her damaged family? Doing so may mean keeping a secret of her own…
- Synopsis

Genre: Upmarket Women’s Fiction / Domestic Drama
Publication Date: 1st May 2020
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Standalone Novel
Estimated Page Count - 319

Carol Mason Author PhotoABOUT THE AUTHOR ... Carol Mason is the Amazon Charts and Kindle #1 bestselling author of After You Left, The Secrets of Married Women, The Last Time We Met, The Shadow Between Us, and Send Me A Lover. She grew up in Sunderland but moved to Canada at the age of 21. She now lives in British Columbia with her husband, Tony, her three-legged cat and a rescue dog from Kuwait. When not working on a new novel, Carol enjoys reading other authors’ brilliant work, and cooking up a storm.


Whilst not able to share my own thoughts on Little White Secrets here are the thoughts of other readers on Amazon and GoodReads.

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