Tag Archives: NetGalley

100 Ways to be Kind by Theresa Cheung- book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I received for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book 100 Ways to Be Kind: Everyday Actions to Change Your Life and Save the World by bestselling author Theresa Cheung to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

100 Ways to be Kind by Theresa Cheung

Here is the book blurb.

Acts of everyday kindness can boost your mood and immunity, lower blood pressure, ease anxiety, slow the ageing process, improve the quality of your relationships (including the one you have with yourself) and give you a sense of deep meaning and purpose.

100 Ways to be Kind is a road map of practical, simple and immediately actionable ways to be kind including how to be kinder to yourself, to others and to nature.

Theresa debunks the damaging myth that being kind is a weakness and shows that it is not anger or aggression that brings out our true inner grit, but kindness.

Science has proven that there are powerful, potentially lifesaving reasons to be kind. The kinder you are, the more likely you are to experience happiness.

Kindness is the simple and scientifically proven remedy that everyone needs to administer right now. So, if you want to harness the power of kindness to transform your life and help save the world at the same time but aren’t quite sure how – this book is for you.

This isn’t one of my usual genres to read but when I was asked to review this book, the tagline of Everyday Actions to Change Your Life and Save the World got me interested. Regular followers of my blog will be aware that I am trying to focus on sustainability and doing my best for the environment.

This book was written during the Coronavirus pandemic at a period when I saw so many people stepping up in my local community with acts of kindness. I did my bit too, volunteering to help with shopping and collecting prescriptions for those shielding.

The book starts with a long introduction followed by the science of kindness including plenty of reasons why kindness is also good for our health. Then it debunks some myths about kindness. For instance “It’s too late” or “I’m too old“. No you’re not. Look at how many millions Captain Tom Moore raised. I’m sure some of my UK readers contributed to his fundraising, just like I did myself.

We then move onto the ways to be kind, starting with 25 ways to be kinder to yourself, 15 to be kinder online, 40 to be kinder to others and 20 to be kinder to nature. I certainly gained some great ideas but also saw that some of the suggestions were things I already do daily. However I felt the book was key to helping us put kind acts into practice.

The author urges the reader to carry out at least one way to be kind every day for 100 days. It isn’t 100 days since I started reading the book but I sincerely hope the kindness remains at the front of my mind. This is the first time that I have been out distributing Christmas dinners and I would like to think that perhaps this book helped motivate me.

100 Ways to be Kind is available on Amazon in paperback, audiobook or Kindle format. A great book which you can easily dip into for a revisit.

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Blue Monday by Nicci French

I have had this book waiting on my “to be read” list since last summer when Penguin invited me to review a later book in the series free via NetGalley. Instead I opted for Blue Monday, the first title in the Frieda Klein series by best selling author Nicci French.

Blue Monday by Nicci French

Here is the book blurb.

Monday, the lowest point of the week. A day of dark impulses. A day to snatch a child from the streets …

The abduction of five-year-old Matthew Farraday provokes national outcry and a desperate police hunt. And when his face is splashed over the newspapers, psychotherapist Frieda Klein is left troubled: one of her patients has been relating dreams in which he has a hunger for a child. A child he can describe in perfect detail, a child the spitting image of Matthew.

Detective Chief Inspector Karlsson doesn’t take Frieda’s concerns seriously until a link emerges with an unsolved abduction twenty years ago and he summons Frieda to interview the victim’s sister, hoping she can stir hidden memories. Before long, Frieda is at the centre of the race to track the kidnapper. But her race isn’t physical. She must chase down the darkest paths of a psychopath’s mind to find the answers to Matthew Farraday’s whereabouts. And sometimes the mind is the deadliest place to lose yourself.

The story starts with a flashback to a child Joanna going missing in 1987 before moving to the present day. It then goes for a slow start. Alan is referred by his GP to see a psychiatrist and he ends up seeing Dr Frieda Klein, a psycho-analyst to whom he confesses his fantasy dreams of a son.

Meanwhile the papers are full of the case of missing 5 year old Matthew. Frieda ponders over the similarities between the boy of Alan’s dreams and Matthew before eventually going to report it to DCI Karlsson.

Karlsson has been comparing the case to the unsolved disappearance of Joanna and sits up when he hears Frieda say that Alan had similar dreams in his early 20’s about a daughter, but soon rules out Alan as Matthew’s abduction took place whilst Alan would have been seeing Frieda.

Frieda discovers that Alan was adopted. Then Alan mentions a mystery woman kissing him whom Frieda asks student Jack to track down. Interesting facts start to emerge and I can’t say any more for risk of spoilers.

Blue Monday by Nicci French is available on Amazon, at £6.99 in paperback and is also available in hardback and Kindle format and is published by Penguin. A long slow first half of the book followed by a much more gripping second half.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I received for free.  All opinions are my own.





Who REALLY Wrote Shakespeare? by David Lawrence-Young

I was about to select a book on NetGalley when I realised I had one from earlier in the year that I had forgotten to read. I don’t know how this oversight happened, but I’ve now read Who REALLY Wrote Shakespeare by David Lawrence-Young.

Who REALLY Wrote Shakespeare by David Lawrence-Young

Here is the book blurb.

“William Shakespeare was a con man! A faker and a forger!” With these words from a fellow lecturer ringing in his ears, university lecturer, Daniel Ryhope, sets off on a quest to uncover the truth: Did Shakespeare really write Shakespeare?

Joined by his wife and two friends, Daniel begins the search: analyzing and sifting through information on writers and dramatists who were alive during the Shakespearean era. How could it be that the writer of the greatest works in English came from a small market town? Did the creator of Hamlet and Macbeth have to be rich and well-educated? Was Shakespeare a cover-name for an anonymous aristocratic playwright? Did Shakespeare have connections at court? Was the writer really a woman? Was it possible that the plays were written by a team?

In true detective fashion, Daniel and his friends investigate all the possible options and theories. In the end, they announce their conclusion, appropriately enough, in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace.

Using sources from far and wide, D. Lawrence-Young has written a fascinating novel of detection which throws much light on the perennial question: Who Really Wrote Shakespeare?

The blurb really attracted me to this book. I have to say that it had never occurred to me that someone else may have written Shakespeare’s plays and I was fascinated by the idea. Was the famous bard really who he said he was? The story is fictional but it references many earlier works as this question has been debated for over 200 years.

The story starts with fellow lecturer Anna stating that Shakespeare was a fraud. How could the son of a Stratford glovemaker write so well about things he hadn’t experienced first-hand like other countries, battles and sea-storms? History lecturer Daniel decides to try to find out whether Shakespeare really did write his plays and sonnets or was it someone else. He enlists the help of his friend and fellow history lecturer Mike. Soon Jenny, another history lecturer and also Mike’s girlfriend joins in. And later on, Daniel’s wife Beth gets in on the act too. There seems to be a wealth of material on the topic in the university library plus sources online. And I like how Daniel utilises his students too.

It is done in a Poirot detective style with them investigating each other possible candidate in turn. I loved how it is broken down into manageable chunks, with them stopping each session because it is time for favourite TV show or they are hungry, etc. I felt it was written in a style that many of us might write in. It made me feel that there could be a book in more of us than we realise.

I loved this book especially the conclusion reached. And it even had me looking up the question on Wikipedia myself afterwards.

David Lawrence-Young is a prolific author who has spent the last forty-five years teaching History and English. In addition to Who Really Wrote Shakespeare, he has written sixteen other novels – and many more magazine articles – about travelling and history, indicating not only his wealth of knowledge about these subjects, but his love of them too. Follow Lawrence-Young’s blog for more fascinating insights into the life and work of the famous bard.

Who REALLY Wrote Shakespeare is available on Amazon, currently priced at 99p on Kindle. I highly recommend this book, an  intriguing, historical detective novel.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I received for free.  All opinions are my own.

Summer at Skylark Farm by Heidi Swain

Well NetGalley has most definitely been added to my list of website favourites. This time, I chose what looked a light hearted romance to download, with a gorgeous title, Summer at Skylark Farm.

Summer at Skylark Farm by Heidi Swain

Here is the book blurb.

Amber is a city girl at heart. So when her boyfriend Jake Somerville suggests they move to the countryside to help out at his family farm, she doesn’t quite know how to react. But work has been hectic and she needs a break so she decides to grasp the opportunity and make the best of it.

Dreaming of organic orchards, paddling in streams and frolicking in fields, Amber packs up her things and moves to Skylark Farm. But life is not quite how she imagined – it’s cold and dirty and the farm buildings are dilapidated and crumbling.

But Amber is determined to make the best of it and throws herself into farm life. But can she really fit in here? And can she and Jake stay together when they are so different?

I really loved this chick-lit story. It starts with city girl Amber realising that she is spending too much time on her job. She needs to refocus her work / life balance. So when her boyfriend Jake says he is moving to Skylark Farm in Norfolk to help his aged Aunt Annie, she eventually agrees to go too, even though her boss offers her a new job in Dubai. A tempting offer, but he says he will keep the offer open for 6 months, so perhaps a fallback plan if farm life doesn’t work out.

Amber takes out a subscription to “Country Living” and buys her new country wardrobe. She has a lot to learn about farm life, even burning her hand on the first day, picking the kettle up from the range. But she soon makes new friends and starts coming up with some great ideas for the farm herself. It is not all smooth sailing though and then Jake’s previous girlfriend shows up in town. You’ll have to read the book to find out what else happens.

Summer at Skylark Farm by Heidi Swain is available on Amazon, at £2.99 for Kindle and is published by Simon & Schuster. I highly recommend this book and have already added Heidi’s first novel, The Cherry Tree Cafe to my reading wishlist. I just know I’ll love it, having mentally sat enjoying cake there with Amber on several occasions.

And you can find out more about the author Heidi Swain on her blog.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I received for free.  All opinions are my own.

Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

Having just finished reading my first book The White Cottage Mystery from NetGalley, I received an email from them detailing a new psychological thriller, Dear Amy. It sounded very intriguing, so without further ado, I downloaded a copy to read.

Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

Here is the book blurb.

Margot Lewis is the agony aunt for The Cambridge Examiner. Her advice column, Dear Amy, gets all kinds of letters – but none like the one she’s just received: 

‘Dear Amy, 
I don’t know where I am. I’ve been kidnapped and am being held prisoner by a strange man. I’m afraid he’ll kill me. 
Please help me soon, 
Bethan Avery’

Bethan Avery has been missing for years. This is surely some cruel hoax. But, as more letters arrive, they contain information that was never made public. How is this happening? Answering this question will cost Margot everything . . .

This book was a real page turner. Initially the police don’t seem to take much notice when Margot shows them the first letter she has received from Bethan Avery, even though another young girl Katie has recently disappeared. But then they want to involve Margot in a Crimewatch style reconstruction of the cold case. There were so many revelations that kept me wanting to read more pages and before I knew it, I had finished the book in just a few days. The story also swaps between Margot’s current life and her history, which builds up a fascinating picture of her life.

Dear Amy will be published on 16th June and is available to pre-order on Amazon, either in hardback currently priced at £12.08, compared to RRP of £12.99 or on Kindle. I highly recommend this book.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I received for free.  All opinions are my own.

The White Cottage Mystery by Margery Allingham

Regular visitors to my blog will know I love relaxing with a good book, and then sharing a review here on my blog. Well I recently came across the website NetGalley whose purpose is to deliver digital advance reading copies (ARCs) to professional readers to help promote new and upcoming titles. I had a browse around the site before deciding to register.

Thinking about advance reading copies brought back happy memories of my introduction to adult fiction in my teens when I started reading Agatha Christie novels belonging to my Great Aunt. She had been a librarian and her shelves were stacked with plainly bound books that I discovered were advance copies. From Agatha Christie, I soon moved onto other murder mystery authors of the same period like Dorothy Sayers and Margery Allingham, borrowing them from my local library.

So when I spotted a Margery Allingham title on NetGalley that I hadn’t read, I knew this was what I wished to request first. It is The White Cottage Mystery which was Margery Allingham’s first detective story, originally written as a serial for the Daily Express in 1927 and published as a book a year later.

I downloaded the book from NetGalley to Kindle and settled down for a trip back in time.

The White Cottage Mystery

Here is the book blurb.

Eric Crowther collected secrets and used them as weapons. Delighting in nothing more than torturing those around him with what he knew, there is no shortage of suspects when he is found dead in the White Cottage. Chief Inspector Challenor and his son Jerry will have to look deep into everyone’s past – including the victim’s – before they can be sure who has pulled the trigger. The fact that Jerry is in love with one of the suspects, however, might complicate things.

This book followed the traditional detective story approach with the death occurring in the first chapter. With the help of his son Jerry, Chief Inspector W.T. Challenor commences interviewing the suspects who all seem to have a reason to hate the victim and no alibis. Jerry is quick to jump to conclusions, but they gradually discover the secrets and eliminate the suspects. So who killed Eric Crowther? I have to say I actually correctly guessed in just chapter 3, but still loved reading the rest of the story, as I was expecting to be proved wrong.

The White Cottage Mystery is available to pre-order a paperback copy on Amazon, currently priced at £5.99, compared to RRP of £7.99 or if you can’t wait it is already available on Kindle. I do recommend this book.

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Family Fever

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I received for free.  All opinions are my own.