Week 3: Lights Within the Storm

This week went quicker than others and in part that was due to a TV miniseries called My Brilliant Friend (based on the book of the same name by Elena Ferrante). 

I had heard of the book but am still wanting to listen to it. 

My favourite book this week was My Greek Island Summer by Mandy Baggot

There was a lot of catching up with friends and thanks once again to everyone who is thinking of me and us. 

Stay strong and stay safe

Blog Tour: (Review Only) My Greek Island Summer by Mandy Baggot

About the book 

Two weeks. One unforgettable trip to Corfu. A chance to change her life.

 

Becky Rose has just landed her dream job house-sitting at a top-end villa on the island of Corfu. What could be better than two weeks laying by an infinity pool overlooking the gorgeous Ionian waters while mending her broken heart.
Elias Mardas is travelling back to Corfu on business whilst dealing with his own personal demons. Late arriving in Athens, Becky and Elias have to spend a night in the Greek capital. When they have to emergency land in Kefalonia, Becky’s got to decide whether to suck up the adventure and this gorgeous companion she seems to have been thrown together with or panic about when she’s going to arrive at Corfu…
Finally reaching the beautiful island, Becky is happy to put Elias behind her and get on with her adventure. Until he turns up at the villa…

 

 

About the Author:


 

Mandy Baggot is an international bestselling and award-winning romance writer. The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy’s books have so far been translated into German, Italian, Czech and Hungarian. Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.

Follow Mandy:  

Facebook: @mandybaggotauthor

Twitter: @mandybaggot

My Review:

They say don’t judge a book by its cover…..but just look at this cover! I loved the title and the cover. And the book blurb had me sold- this relaxing, uplifting realistic and funny novel could not have come at a better time. 
Becky works long hours at a sandwich shop called It’s a Wrap with her friend and also her sister. A bit of sibling rivalry is the perfect excuse for her to want out of the current situation. 
When an ad for a house sitter on the island of Corfu captures her interest she finds herself jetting off to the sun. But getting there is not as simple or as hassle-free as she thought. 
Then she meets Elias, a Greek God who she is sat with on the plane. Her adventures have just begun! 
With a shining cast of characters, beautiful islands and food and laughs aplenty, this latest feelgood novel by Mandy Baggot is a real escapist treat. 
Thanks to Mandy Baggot and Aria for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 
I adore Mandy Baggot’s novels and was delighted to recieve this. 
4 stars

 

Pre-order here:

Amazon (UK) 

Kobo
 
Google Play

 


 

Follow Aria

 

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

Blog Tour: Her Darkest Fear by Nina Manning @BoldwoodBooks  @bookandtonic 

About the Book: 
‘Her Darkest Fear is a must read! My mind is blown.’ 5* Reader Review

One mother’s past could cost her everything…
Frankie Keegan is struggling.

While she tries to make strides in her career, life at home is slowly unravelling as she is haunted by the secrets of her past.
Someone else remembers…

As the dark nights draw in, the anniversary of the loss of her brother looms and Frankie is drawn back to the memories of that fateful night 20 years previously. As she descends into a guilt-ridden state, she begins to suspect that someone else is also remembering that night and they are determined to terrify her…
Can she confront her past before it’s too late?
From the international bestselling author of The Daughter In Law, a gripping psychological thriller about family, secrecy and grief – with a twist you won’t see coming. Perfect for fans of K L Slater, Shalini Boland and Lisa Jewell.
What readers are saying about Her Darkest Fear:
‘A dark and twisty thriller that does not disappoint’
‘What a mind blowing thriller. My first by Nina and she blew my mind. Twists and turns and suspense. Nina is a brilliant writer.’
‘I really enjoyed this book and couldn’t put it down till I found out how it ended’
‘I absolutely loved this book’
‘A perfect book for those who love suspense, mystery, and intrigue as this was certainly a captivating read’
‘A dark and creepy thrill ride.’
‘Another good book by Nina Manning. Did not see the twist coming at the end! Can’t wait for her 3rd book.’
Highly recommended for dark psychological thriller fans’
‘I definitely didn’t see the twist at the end’
‘This book was great to read. I was hooked almost from the word go.’
‘Thrilling. Keeping me on the edge of my seat.’
‘That ending!!!’
‘I really enjoyed this story! This is a first for me by this author but, definitely worth a read!’
‘I was sucked in and my heart was in my throat about 70% into the book then BAM! That twist! I never saw it coming and it veered into a whole different direction than I thought it would! Definitely recommend and I’m definitely going to check out more from this author!’
‘Her Darkest Fear tricked me. It has some fantastic red herrings and you’re going to be left thinking you’ve figured it all out but I can promise…you haven’t!’

Praise for Nina Manning:
‘Compelling and claustrophobic, Nina is an exciting new voice and definitely one to watch’ Phoebe Morgan, author of The Girl Next Door
‘Chilling and creepy. An atmospheric and addictive debut.’ Diane Jeffrey, author of The Guilty Mother
‘Totally addictive. I couldn’t put it down!’ Darren O’Sullivan, author of Closer Than You Think 
‘A claustrophobic, nail-biting thriller that draws you in and doesn’t let go.’ Naomi Joy, author of The Liars
‘Clever, emotionally draining and totally gripping. I absolutely loved this book!’ D E White, author of The Forgotten Child.

About the Author: 


Nina Manning studied psychology and was a restaurant-owner and private chef (including to members of the royal family). She is the founder and co-host of Sniffing The Pages, a book review podcast. Her debut psychological thriller, The Daughter in Law, was a bestseller in the UK, US, Australia and Canada. She lives in Dorset.

Contact Nina:

Twitter

Instagram

Her website

Nina’s Profile on the Boldwood Books site

Facebook

If you like the sound of the extract, you can buy the book here

Prologue
I stood at the top of the stairs and held my breath as my anxiety spiked and my heart pounded in my throat. But I could no longer hear the noise that had drawn me there. As I stood, my foot perched ready to take the first step, I wondered if perhaps my mind was playing tricks on me. Maybe the events of the last few days had finally caught up with me. But faces were hovering in front of me. Those people I had trusted. And those who I had hurt.

All those years ago I was trying so hard to make a difference in any way I could. But I was young. And I was foolish. I knew the past would never be able to bury itself, and I had not been able to rest for twenty years because the horrors of that day would stay with me until I took my final breath.

But now it was time to face the past head on. I tightened my grip on my weapon and began the descent to the kitchen. I knew I was now in grave danger. I knew that I had to protect my children and face the person who had found their way into my home.

Used Products and Life Update: March

White Orchid Serum by Cien Lidl) MY REVIEW

Revolution Beauty Pro Fix Oil Control Fixing Spray 

Madame Glamour handcream

Cien Orange and Vanilla Sugar Body Scub 

This month was beyond scary because of COVID-19. I’m high-risk but fortunately have a very sensible husband. 
I continued with my blogging, online courses and of course as many ebooks as I could get through. I’m now 30 books into my  Goodreads Challenge. 

The highlights from the month were my post celebrating 14 years with Alfredo and of course being featured on Undercover Superhero.

A Mother’s Secret by Minna Howard  and The Mountains Sing were amongst my favourite books for the month. Because I look for the good all the time but that is more important than ever in these trying times. 

I hope you were able to find some good this month. 

Blog Tour: We Didn’t Ask for This by Adi Alsaid

We Didn’t Ask for This by Adi Alsaid

On Sale: April 7, 2020

Inkyard Press

Young Adult

978-1335146762; 1335146768

$18.99 USD

352 pages

 

About the Book

From Adi Alsaid, the acclaimed author of Let’s Get Lost, Never Sometimes Always, and North of Happy

 

 

Every year, lock-in night changes lives. This year, it might just change the world.

 

Central International School’s annual lock-in is legendary — and for six students, this year’s lock-in is the answer to their dreams. The chance to finally win the contest. Kiss the guy. Make a friend. Become the star of a story that will be passed down from student to student for years to come.

But then a group of students, led by Marisa Cuevas, stage an eco-protest and chain themselves to the doors, vowing to keep everyone trapped inside until their list of demands is met. While some students rally to the cause, others are devastated as they watch their plans fall apart. And Marisa, once so certain of her goals, must now decide just how far she’ll go to attain them.

 

About the Author


Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City. He attended college at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He’s now back in Mexico City, where he writes, coaches basketball, and makes every dish he eats as spicy as possible. In addition to Mexico, he’s lived in Tel Aviv, Las Vegas and Monterey, California. His books include Let’s Get Lost, Never Always Sometimes, and North of Happy. Visit Adi online at http://www.SomewhereOverTheSun.com, or on Twitter: @AdiAlsaid.

Social Links:

Author website: https://www.adialsaid.com/

Facebook: @adialsaidauthor

Twitter: @adialsaid

Instagram: @uhhdee

Goodreads

My Review: 

A different type of plot to anything I’d ever come across before. I could feel the anticipation of the big night. 
This book actually reminded me straight away of a night my own secondary school (high school) did when I was 13. The difference was that there were no chains involved and no focus on environmental issues. But the concept was similar: a night of fun and spending time with friends (for us it was 7PM to 7AM). It was called A Night to Remember and it really was! 
Anyway, getting back to the review of this book. The characters are quickly but clearly introduced and we get a clear idea of who’s who and their individual personalities and motivations for the night and in life. The scene was set within the first few chapters and the pacing was good for the theme and subject matter of the book. 
I liked how there was such a mix of nationalities at the school too. 
A very interesting novel about friendship between genders, gender relations and the ups and downs facing teens on a night they are all together in a place where they are more used to spending their days. 
Thanks to Adi Alsaid and Inkyard Press for an eyeopening multicultural fun novel which includes serious current affairs that I think will make an impact on everyone, whether young or older adults. 
Thanks also to them for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 
4 stars

Q&A with Adi Alsaid

Q: What’s your favorite thing about Marisa Cuevas?

A: Her willingness to fight for what she believes in.

Q: I love the juxtaposition of a lock-in against a political protest. What was the most challenging part of threading those two very different pieces together?

A: Honestly, it was the logistics of actually keeping the students locked in. The political protest wouldn’t work without it, nor would the plot. So I had to find a whole lot of justifications that felt reasonable within the story. Other than that, one of my goals was to show, embodied in different characters, all the ways people react to political protests, and to make them feel like actual people, not just symbols.

Q: What do you most hope that readers take away from the story?

A: Getting others to care about what you care about is hard, but you’re allowed to try, and it’s possible to succeed.

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

A: I’ve been wanting to write a book that felt like my favorite book, Bel Canto, for a while now. So the very initial inspiration was a group of characters all stuck in the same place for an extended period of time. Then, to make it feel more YA, I thought of The Breakfast Club, but instead of cliques, just bring people with different passions together. Then, because of my increasing awareness over the last few years about environmental issues, combined with the fact that I was traveling and seeing those issues play out around the world, I brought in the fight for climate change.

Q: Is there a character that you found challenging to write? Why?

A: All my characters come easily to me. The challenge is working to get them right in revisions. Jordi Marcos, a sort of villain in the story, was one that was hard to get right, in order to make his actions feel justified. I also have a queer Muslim character in Amira, and I had to work—and had the fortune of being guided by a great sensitivity reader—to not make her representation be harmful.

Q: How does a typical writing day look like for you?

A: Assuming this means not in the time of COVID-19. I wake up and go straight to a coffee shop, where I work/avoid looking at my phone for about 3 hours or so. Then I usually have lunch, take a break by watching a movie, running errands, or something in that vein. Then another work session in the afternoon or late evening at another coffee shop or perhaps a bar, followed by cooking dinner. During deadline times there’s also usually a late night session at home.

Q: What are your current reading?

A: I’m about to finish The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy, listening to The Art of Logic in an Illogical World by Eugenia Chang, and my next read will probably be Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova.

Q: Is there something secret you can share with us about anything in the book or your experience writing it?

A: I don’t know about secret, but I’ll say that I had the unique experience of traveling the world while writing it. So, many of its words were written in the communal areas of hostels, on airplanes, trains, on an island in Fiji, and in many, many coffee shops.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon (US) 
Barnes & Noble

IndieBound

Books-A-Million
Apple Books
Google Play
Excerpted from We Didn’t Ask for This by Adi Alsaid. © 2020 by Adi Alsaid, used with permission by Inkyard Press.

 

The lock-in was going fairly well until Marisa unleashed her cronies and chained herself to the main entrance.

 

No one really noticed right away, busy as they were taking part in a number of lock-in-related activities: laser tag in the parking garage, a sanctioned food fight in the cafeteria, a photo shoot tutorial with a renowned YouTube influencer.

 

Once a year, in April, the doors at Central International School’s K-12 campus closed—though they didn’t literally lock—to allow the high school students to roam free for the whole night. Having the next day off school was nowhere near the best part. Nor, strictly speaking, were the activities themselves, though they were extravagant and wonderful and distracted everyone from what Marisa was doing.

 

People fell in love on lock-in night. They stumbled upon new passions that would shape the rest of their lives, discovered friendships they could not imagine living without, before or after. Traumas were resolved on lock-in night, anxieties disappeared, never to return, not even after the buses arrived in the morning to take the students back home.

 

This was well known to the few students who had been lucky enough to have attended before, or who had siblings who had attended in years prior. At Central International School, the student body ebbed and flowed, changing drastically from year to year, and often even more frequently. It was common to have different classmates every semester, and sometimes students would find the person who sat next to them in class—the alluring redhead who scribbled song lyrics on the margins of their textbooks, who one time turned and asked to borrow a pen they never returned, though they had offered a smile that carried with it joy beyond a simple gesture; the redhead who might have one day soon become more than just a classmate—was simply gone from one day to the next.

 

Even by international school standards, the turnover rate of both students and faculty had always been high, though it had a great academic reputation, and the city in which it sat was a diverse and world-class cosmopolis. Yet people never seemed to stick around for long, as if families were carried in by the seaside breeze, and carried away by the same. Most students had multiple passports, and their parents were multinational, or transient because they were diplomats, or titans of industry, or missionaries, or digital nomads, or teachers within the international school world. They had roots in many places, thought of no one place as home—or rather, thought of everywhere they’d been as home.

 

So it was rare for a student to be around for several lock-in nights. Even the locals, who made up a mere fifteen percent of the school’s population, often temporarily relocated during their high school years—a boarding school exchange in Switzerland, a South American road trip in a van with their family, a missionary excursion in Central America.

 

Despite all this, the lore surrounding lock-in night was always momentous, starting as an excited murmur the first day of school and building to a frenzy by the night before the event itself a month or so before the end of the year. Students wondered how, exactly, their life would be improved by the evening. There was no question it would—they could feel it on their skin, their heartbeats thudded with the knowledge that things were about to change, they had absorbed the gossip, not just a rumor or two, but dozens and dozens of first-hand accounts or verifiable secondhand stories, so many of them that it did not feel like hearsay but like fact—it was the how that was exciting. Would the redheaded classmate return to slip a hand into theirs during the movie marathon on the roof garden? Would their fear of heights be cured by the trapeze the school had set up on the football field? Or would it simply be a night of such fun that the joy would sink into their bones and change them into happier people?

 

Lock-in night, simply put, was magic. Even all those who had never experienced it knew it to be true.

 

Which, of course, was why Marisa planned her protest for that well-loved night. To make people pay attention, disrupt what brings them joy.

 

The mad desire to act had existed long before her plan did. Marisa loved the water as a baby. Her parents told the stories to anyone who would listen. She always feigned embarrassment at their anecdotes about her hour-long baths and surprising performance in toddler swimming classes, her dark, curly hair unfurling in the water behind her like a mermaid, her brown eyes huge within the goggles she always carried around. But the truth was that she loved the stories. They confirmed this was not a passing fad, not a childhood obsession that would lose its significance over time, not a baby blanket carried around charmingly until age ten, when

 

it was shoved into a box and donated.

 

When she discovered snorkeling and, later, diving, that love blew wide open. This? This had been possible this whole time?

 

Though Marisa was only seventeen, her parents’ constant relocations for work meant she’d seen a hefty percentage of the world’s waters. She’d snorkeled in Mexico, Fiji, the Philippines, the Great Barrier Reef, Belize. And the more she did it, the more her heart broke. Human beings had found a way to kill water.

 

The places famed for their snorkeling were heart-­ wrenching. The destroyed beige reefs littered the oceans like ornate gravestones. They should have been resplendent with color. Books and scientists told her as much, and other divers did, too. Of course, though, they weren’t. Not anymore. The world had ruined that particular beauty before Marisa had ever had a chance to see it, killing the corals with spilled chemicals, suffocating the oceans with heat. Every time she surfaced, she would dive into the internet, trying to find a way to help. Changing her sunscreen to the reef-safe kind, cleaning up plastic on the beach, asking her parents to donate yet again; nothing felt big enough.

 

Then came the three-day weekend at the start of the school year that changed it all. She had convinced her parents to take the family to the beach, and the Cuevases, who knew their frequent moves could be hard on the children, relented de-spite the fact that neither of them felt settled in at work yet, and they would have really liked to stay in the city and run errands.

 

Marisa had heard amazing things about the snorkeling in the region surrounding the beach. She was always skeptical when she heard anything like that; she’d been disappointed enough. She was fine just swimming among whatever fish remained in the area and pretending this was what it had al-ways been like, this was the wondrous alien world other divers described. After their most recent move, she’d done her usual research and found on the most trustworthy sources that an untouched blip still existed, not too far from her new school.

 

She convinced her parents, who knew it was better to indulge Marisa than fight her, to take a boat to an island, then another, smaller boat to another, smaller island. Arriving at the clear, turquoise waters, which were peppered with butterflies from who knows where fluttering across the surface, whole waves of them outnumbering the tourists she had seen even on the mainland, Marisa allowed herself to hope. Well before her family was ready, Marisa was in her flippers and mask, and she sat on the edge of the boat and let herself fall backward into the warm waters. At first, her heart had soared: greens! Purples! Oranges! Bright colors in the reefs, finally. The schools of fish were more like armies, numbered not in dozens but in hundreds, maybe even thousands, various species all swimming in their separate schools, like great big flags unfurling mightily in the water.

 

Marisa followed them, kicking delightedly, her heart flooding with joy. Then she turned a corner around some rocks and her breath caught, as if someone had reached inside her chest and closed a massive fist around her lungs. Even here, she found murk and drudgery, the reef not on display so much as its dying was.

 

She emerged from the water and took off her mask, tears mixing with the waves. People and the trash with which they suffocated the world. She looked around, shading her eyes from the shimmering sunlight with her free hand. Maybe it was time to accept the world as it was.

 

As she turned to swim back to shore, she caught sight of something on the far end of the island. A construction site. Large, acres and acres of it, from what Marisa could tell, and a handful of bulldozers. She swam closer and saw the sign announcing the coming resort. Nearby, a trickle of brown-gray water weaved its way from below the makeshift wall around the site and dribbled onto the sand.

 

Yes, it was a travesty, an outrage that the world had been ruined before her arrival. But that trickle hadn’t reached all the way to the shore, not yet.

 

As soon as she and her family made it back to their eco-hotel that day, Marisa decided she had to stop that waste from reaching the ocean. Whatever she could do for the reefs, she was going to do it. If it was just shutting down that one construction site, or if it was something much bigger, she had to try. What else was there but to try?

 

Months of stewing later, of planning, of seeing the ruined remains of the ocean floors every time she closed her eyes, of thinking of a way to make everyone else see what she saw. It all led up to this moment, when Marisa hoisted a chain from the duffel bag she’d hidden on campus a few days ago. She weaved it through the handles on the double doors that led into the main school building, then she wrapped it three times around her own body, uncomfortably tight, so bolt cutters could not break through the metal without snagging on her skin. When she was satisfied, she grabbed three giant padlocks from the bag and locked herself in, meaning to stay.

 

She set the keys in the middle of her palm, rubbing them each in a pad of butter procured earlier from the cafeteria, and which had warmed nicely in her pocket throughout the afternoon. Then Marisa, rehearsing her speech in her mind one last time, looked up. She expected to see a sizable crowd already gathering. What she saw instead was a lanky blond sophomore leaving the bathroom across the open expanse of the building’s foyer. The boy was checking to see if he’d re-membered to zip up. He had not.

 

When his eyes met Marisa’s, he could tell she had seen him checking, and he stepped quickly away from her line of sight, failing to notice the heavy metal chain wrapped around her torso.