Book Review | “Follow A Star” (Book No.2 of the Little Spitmarsh series) by Christine Stovell #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 21 April, 2018 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

ChocLitSaturdays Banner Created by Jorie in Canva.

Why I feature #ChocLitSaturdays (book reviews & guest author features)
and created #ChocLitSaturday (the chat via @ChocLitSaturday):

I wanted to create a bit of a niche on Jorie Loves A Story to showcase romance fiction steeped in relationships, courtships, and the breadth of marriage enveloped by characters written honestly whose lives not only endear you to them but they nestle into your heart as their story is being read!

I am always seeking relationship-based romance which strikes a chord within my mind’s eye as well as my heart! I’m a romantic optimist, and I love curling into a romance where I can be swept inside the past, as history becomes lit alive in the fullness of the narrative and I can wander amongst the supporting cast observing the principal characters fall in love and sort out if they are a proper match for each other!

I love how an Indie Publisher like ChocLitUK is such a positive alternative for those of us who do not identify ourselves as girls and women who read ‘chick-lit’. I appreciate the stories which alight in my hands from ChocLit as much as I appreciate the inspirational romances I gravitate towards because there is a certain level of depth to both outlets in romance which encourage my spirits and gives me a beautiful story to absorb! Whilst sorting out how promote my book reviews on behalf of ChocLit, I coined the phrase “ChocLitSaturdays”, which is a nod to the fact my ChocLit reviews & features debut on ‘a Saturday’ but further to the point that on the ‘weekend’ we want to dip into a world wholly ideal and romantic during our hours off from the work week!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular reviewer for ChocLitUK, where I hand select which books in either their backlist and/or current releases I would like to read next for my #ChocLitSaturdays blog feature. As of June 2016, I became a member of the ChocLit Stars Team in tandem with being on the Cover Reveal Team which I joined in May 2016. I reference the Stars as this is a lovely new reader contribution team of sending feedback to the publisher ahead of new book releases. As always, even if I’m involved with a publisher in this sort of fashion, each review is never influenced by that participation and will always be my honest impression as I read the story. Whether the author is one I have previously read or never had the pleasure to read until the book greets my shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of “Follow A Star” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Why I am enjoying my respite in Little Spitmarsh:

Not quite a village or hamlet, but in some ways it is both – if you consider how insular resorts can become when it feels like all of life is bubbling within it’s natural boundaries. I was quite delighted by the Prologue to cast a pointed eye on what Little Spitmarsh had been once in it’s heyday of popularity with visitors from away inasmuch as the cross-comparison of what it has become now; a sad remnant of it’s past. This is quite common I think, when urban and rural areas fall into decay from an absence of care – where it takes someone with vision to re-transitionalise the place into a new kind of beauty that will lure people back to a place they once knew. Although this isn’t merely a resort or a marina, it’s a small towne whose point of focus has fallen and whose re-development could change the way in which the townespeople will live in the future.

This felt like such an honest prospect of interest – right from the start – as who doesn’t like to see how developers with an eye for progress and a nod towards preserving certain bits of the past could lend a new lease of life on a place like Little Spitmarsh? Of course, that would be far too easy, of course! There was a small hinting of what would become fireworks (nearly certain!) lateron, as just because a land deal seems cut and dry on the offset doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t hidden ‘obstacles’ that might test the patience of someone whose vision might be a bit misguided.

The scenery alone makes you hunger to visit this little niche of a small community if only for the pause of breath to drink in the natural joys you would be viewing. Stepping outside of civilisation where nature still had the larger bounty and has been allowed to thrive without too much interference are the places to cherish the most. They are kept away and hidden from the masses for a reason – to preserve what is able to be conserved. The book cover places you visually in the right kind of place that is being described inside the chapters as it truly is a place that hugs the water whilst ebbing you into a sync of natural harmony.

I liked too, how Ms Stovell has her own rhythm of threading a Contemporary with it’s own narrative pace and tone of telling a story set in such an interesting place. The setting and the vibe of the community have their own lifeblood in this Contemporary granting the reader a strong visual of not only the natural setting of how a harbour or seaside area can dictate but how a community is as quirky as it’s residents! The fuller personalities of how she rounded out her cast of characters and augmented such a normalcy out of the quirks of their everyday lives is part of what granted so much enjoyment to read the story! It’s truly a novel that paints it’s own portrait by how it’s writer chose to deliver it’s contents – loved her choices but also, the way in which she delves past the surface and digs in for the heartier story-line that is just bubbling under the drama.

-quoted from my review of Turning the Tide

I’ve taken my time to return back to Little Spitmarsh – I had aimed to continue my readings of this series closer to when I entered ‘Turning the Tide’, however, my own tides took me away from the series until now. Even over the past six weeks, where my health hasn’t been the best – I’ve had to put my ChocLit readings on hold, until I was in a better position to focus on reading again. One of the key issues was a relapse in my chronic migraines – I was able to handle listening to audiobooks here and there, but overall, reading and attempting to type on a screen was proving to be more than what I could handle.

There were a few moments where Twitter acted as a reprieve from my heath issues but even that has taken a bit of a backseat since my migraines resumed. I had planned to anchour April with a Georgette Heyer chat and a Women’s Fiction topical chat – however, just to return back into a ChocLit novel felt wonderful! I’ve also decided for the foreseeable future, the last two weekends of the month work best for me hosting @SatBookChat.

It is also coincidentally on the heels of helping to select the cover for the Little Spitmarsh novella “Moonbeams in a Jar”. Which I happily tweeted about previously as soon as I saw the release make it’s way into the twitterverse! Always a happy day celebrating a forthcoming release within a series you love reading!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Notation on Cover Art: Little Spitmarsh is unique setting where the water, the tides and the small community round out the appeal of living there. I liked how this cover focused on sunset, as there is something quite special about the setting of the sun – of how even after hard days or the uncertainties of futures, seeing the sun set and rise is a lovely moment where you can draw a breath of serenity and simply appreciate the scenery for how the colours play against the natural landscape.

 Book Review | “Follow A Star” (Book No.2 of the Little Spitmarsh series) by Christine Stovell #ChocLitSaturdaysFollow A Star
by Christine Stovell
Source: Direct from Publisher

Sometimes your heart’s the only navigator you need

May Starling’s had enough of her demanding career and even more demanding ex. Responding to a ‘crew-wanted’ ad, she follows her dreams of escape only to find herself at sea with red-haired Bill Blythe.

Bill warns May that close-quartered living can create a boiling pot of emotions, but even May is surprised by the heat building up inside the vintage wooden boat. And when May and Bill tie up at Watling’s Boatyard in Little Spitmarsh, May’s determined to test her new-found feelings on dry land.

But May’s dream of escaping her former life is in danger of being swept away when several unwelcome blasts from the past follow her ashore, all seemingly hell-bent on reminding her it’s never that easy to clear the decks.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on ChocLitUK

ISBN: 978-1781891360

Also by this author: Turning the Tide, Only True in Fairy Tales

Also in this series: Turning the Tide


Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance Fiction


Published by ChocLitUK

on 1st July, 2014

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 336

Published by: ChocLitUK (@ChocLituk)

Available Formats: Paperback, Audiobook, Large Print & E-Book

Order of Sequence of Little Spitmarsh series:

Turning the Tide by Christine StovellFollow a Star by Christine StovellMoonbeams in a Jar by Christine Stovell

Read my review of Turning the Tide

Read the Synopsis for Moonbeams in a Jar

Converse via: #Contemporary & #Romance + #ChocLit #LittleSpitmarsh

About Christine Stovell

Christine Stovell Photo Credit: Tim Jones

Winning a tin of chocolate in a national essay competition at primary school inspired Christine Stovell to become a writer! After graduating from University of East Anglia, she took various jobs in the public sector writing research papers and policy notes by day and filling up her spare drawers with embryonic novels by night.

Losing her dad to cancer made her realise that if she was ever going to get a novel published she had to put her writing first. Setting off, with her husband, from a sleepy seaside resort on the east coast in a vintage wooden boat to sail halfway round Britain provided the inspiration for her debut novel Turning the Tide and Follow a Star. Turning The Tide was a top 100 Bestseller with Amazon Kindle and spent months in the Top 10 Chart for Adult Contemporary Romance. Christine has also published numerous short stories and articles. Christine lives in Wales. Christine novels include: Turning The Tide, Move Over Darling and Follow a Star (July 2014).

Photo Credit: Tim Jones

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Posted Saturday, 21 April, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Britian, British Literature, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Debut Author, Debut Novel, England, Equality In Literature, Green-Minded Publishers, Indie Author, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Modern British Author, Romance Fiction, Vulgarity in Literature

Audiobook Review | “Hell to Pay” (Book Four: the Kay Hunter Detective series) by Rachel Amphlett, narrated by Alison Campbell As this is the fourth and final Kay Hunter audio I have, there is an ache in my heart for having to leave on such a wrenching note as this but have a resolve of hope for what shall meet me in ‘Call to Arms’,…

Posted Thursday, 19 April, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I have embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions. Through hosting for the Audiobookworm I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods (ie. AudioShelf and Talking Audiobooks; see my sidebar). Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue whilst making purchase requests for audio CDs. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I am hoping to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year starting in 2018.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Hell to Pay” via Audiobookworm Promotions who is working directly with the author Rachel Amphlett in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What held me in the throes of “One to Watch” and why I was itching for the next novel:

I enjoyed watching Barnes and Kay sleuth together – they have a working partnership which aides them well on the job. Their bantering keeps the grim bits of their jobs at bay but it’s quite telling how comfortable they are with each other by how they work together to not just interview people interlinked to their investigations but how they brainstorm what they learn could lead their team towards understanding what went wrong in regards to the person who died. They each yield to each others’ strengths and make their hours go by easier for the understanding they share together. Their scenes have become some of my favourites, which worries me in some regards – as true to the nature of these kinds of stories, once you start to favour certain characters – their either the ones who are placed in danger or the ones who can become the ones you never should have trusted to begin with – ergo, I cautioned myself not to let anyone go overlooked as Kay continues to sort out who is conspiring against her; even Barnes!

There is so much anger percolating round the edges of One to Watch – where the parents are voicing their concerns with the kind of angered responses you’d expect them to have due to the circumstances but what was a bit muddling for Kay and her team to sort out who was involved and why this particular party was clouded over by a darkness of murder.

Larch isn’t my favourite character by half – not just because of his insistence of making Kay’s life harder through her continued persecution but because of his mannerisms and personality. He isn’t a team player, he likes to micromanage his team and you never feel he has trust in anyone under him. It leads to an uneasy tension between the detectives but also, for Kay to find her way forward when she’s constantly feeling she’s under the knife of his suspicious mind.

We gain more leverage into understanding Kay and Adam’s close relationship in their marriage by seeing his kindness for fixing the grave of their child. As this is a death they hadn’t prepared for happening and it was one which was somberly difficult to transition past, especially with the hangover effect of what Kay is facing at the precinct. Even after they decide to donate the clothes, you can feel the weight of their loss still being present in everything they do. They are allowing themselves the time to negotiate their grief, but as life rarely allows us to ‘take time off’ from everything else – it is in the background and foreground of all their hours.

The interesting bit for me was watching how this story developed mostly out of the investigation bits – of having to follow alongside the detectives as they did the grunt work, tried out leads which might have made sense in the moment of discovery but perhaps did not quite align in the end with the narrative of the crime. It is here, we start to see how Amphlett is building her world around Kay Hunter but also, of how due to her personal research, how she is opening up the components of being a detective like Kay Hunter is regulated through the proper order of how to investigate and what goes into following through with an investigation hinged to trace and forensic evidence.

She also only reveals ‘so much’ in regards to the furthering compounding conspiracy behind who is trying to destroy Kay Hunter – you aren’t sure what their motives are except that nothing is off the table for what they are willing to do in order to seek out new ways in which to give her a headache of adversity.

As you pull into this part of the series, you have to remain patient as it’s an overlay of the whole series – meaning, each installment draws both Kay Hunter and the reader one step closer to understanding the back-story of what is happening, but it’s the who, why and how which is being left open until what I presume is the conclusion of the series. I was slightly hoping it wouldn’t conclude the series – but perhaps offer a new arc of suspense to follow in it’s wake, or a redirection of purpose for all the characters involved. Similar to what they did after Rizzoli and Isles resolved their individual narrative arcs within Rizzoli & Isles.

Either way – these audiobooks narrated by Alison Campbell, truly are a reflection of the author’s agility in creating a believable world in which Kay Hunter is walking a tightrope between her civic duty as a detective and the vows she is committed to upholding to Adam. Somehow, I have a feeling she is going to have to make a choice between the two – the job or her husband, before someone else makes a choice she isn’t willing to make on her own. In this, Amphlett holds your attention to see how everything will come back round to centre, including how the supporting cast will either shock us or keep the traction we’re all presuming to be the course they are set to walk.

-quoted from my review of One to Watch

By the end of ‘One to Watch’, I was quite certain I was going to be moving into the harder bits of the character arc surrounding Kay Hunter. Everything was leading into this sequence of pulling back the layers of the conspiracy against her – whilst anchouring us directly into her working relationships with her team. It was there, I realised – depending upon how ‘Hell to Pay’ played out – I was either going to find myself treading water or finding myself able to swim.

There are portions of this series which are dearly beloved – especially in regards to adaptation on behalf of the work by Alison Campbell. Combined with the taut and authentic writing styling by Ms Amphlett – this series hugs close to it’s roots in a police procedural drama where an investigative team becomes an endearing part of your life during the hours in which you are following alongside their investigations. Yet, there are moments where you feel if you are quite prepared to go through all of their cases – as the darker shades of humanity are aptly explored, revealled and tackled from multiple points of view.

The key difference from the first novels in the series and the latter two I’ve been listening to is the absence of switching perspectives in tandem between Kay and her current ‘unknown’ villain. The focus is honed more into her team and the ways in which the team finds their rhythm with working with each other on the cases which make them feel restless in their off hours. These are the kinds of cases that are hard to shift out of one’s conscience and the hardest to resolve, even if you’re able to close the case.

I was hoping the bits of what I loved about the series would swing back into the central thread of the upcoming stories – where though terrifying gutting her job is there is a hopefulness about it as well – of how she is choosing to serve the dead and honour the lives lost. I was hopeful on the back half of the series – perhaps, even after the main obstacle is overturned (in regards to who is forcing Kay to remain on high alert) Kay can either make peace with the job itself or find a new path to pursue adjacent to being a detective. Perhaps a new beginning for her and Adam but still able to give her life in dedication in helping others overcome the worst bits of their lives?

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Audiobook Review | “Hell to Pay” (Book Four: the Kay Hunter Detective series) by Rachel Amphlett, narrated by Alison Campbell As this is the fourth and final Kay Hunter audio I have, there is an ache in my heart for having to leave on such a wrenching note as this but have a resolve of hope for what shall meet me in ‘Call to Arms’,…Hell to Pay
by Rachel Amphlett
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Alison Campbell

When a road traffic accident on a dark autumn night uncovers a disturbing conspiracy, Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter's investigation exposes a ruthless serial killer exploiting vulnerable young women.

With her enemies unmasked and her career spiraling out of control, Kay's determination to seek vengeance for the victims brings her dangerously close to those who want to silence her.

Undeterred, she uncovers the real reason behind a plot to destroy her career and sets in motion a terrifying chain of events.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B079HQNK1Y

Also by this author: Scared to Death, Will to Live, One to Watch, Call to Arms

Also in this series: Scared to Death, Will to Live, One to Watch, Call to Arms


Genres: Crime Fiction, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Police Procedural, Thriller


Published by Saxon Publishing

on 1st January, 2018

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 7 hours, 14 minutes (unabridged)

Published by: Saxon Publishing

Order of the Kay Hunter Detective series:
Scared to Death | Book One (see also Review)
Will to Live | Book Two (see also Review)
One to Watch | Book Three (see also Review)
Hell to Pay | Book Four
Call to Arms | Book Five | Synopsis

About Rachel Amphlett

Rachel Amphlettt

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore's TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

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Posted Thursday, 19 April, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), British Literature, Crime Fiction, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Detective Fiction, England, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Good vs. Evil, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Indie Author, Lady Detective Fiction, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Modern Day, Mother-Son Relationships, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Psychological Suspense, PTSD, Realistic Fiction, Sociological Behavior, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, True Crime

Book Review | “Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing and the making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker” by Stephen Galloway #BloggingForBooks

Posted Sunday, 15 April, 2018 by jorielov , , , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I decided to join the “Blogging for Books” programme (on 9th July, 2014) which is a book for review programme created by the Crown Publishing Group. As a book blogger you are offered books in exchange for an honest review on your book blog as well as the ability to reach new readers when you cross-post your review to the Blogging for Books website. The benefit for the blogger is exposure as a reviewer as they put direct links back to your blog post on the book you select to review as well as your homepage.

I received a complimentary copy of “Leading Lady” direct from the publisher Crown Archetype (an imprint of Crown Publishers), in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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A book blogger’s note of gratitude to Blogging for Books:

It’s hard to admit you’ve forgotten about a book you requested for review, but sometimes it’s the easiest explanation to give as is the case with Leading Lady. I remembered I had requested it closer to the time it arrived last year, but so much happened between that moment and the months afterwards to where I quite literally did manage to forget I had this book on my shelf awaiting to be read! Then, after a hard ending to [2017] and a difficult start to [2018] – you could say, this is the first time I could theoretically get myself re-interested in reading it!

I was properly shocked hearing the Blogging for Books programme was ending – as I did enjoy my brief time participating in the programme – I will miss the insight it gave towards the Non-Fiction releases I was earnestly starting to appreciate getting to know a bit better as I had overlooked seeing which ones were in queue for years, as it was only in the last few years where Non-Fiction has attracted my attention.

I also enjoyed getting to know their INSPY line of Fiction and Non-Fiction – observing their releases and also, finding that they regularly publish a lot of lovely releases for those of us who are foodies at heart by way of cookbooks or books centred on all things divinely kitchenary.

What truly motivated me to request Leading Lady was finding the story itself – I felt pulled into the premise behind who Sherry Lansing was and I wanted to know more about her life. I grew up with a healthy passion of following beloved tv series and motion pictures alike – both interests are still a big part of my life, even if I regularly opt-out of new releases in favour of classical ones. It takes me a bit longer these days to find newer releases I can sink my teeth into – the last of which were: The Mountain Between Us and Murder on the Orient Express – I was quite gobsmacked I found two so close together I loved! Sadly, this is far more rare these days than it had been even a decade ago where I would find several releases a month I would embrace rather than a handful of releases a year if I’m lucky in the years since.

I suppose in a way, I was intrigued by the premise of finding out more about the back-the-camera world of motion pictures. The allure was also appealling to learn about how a woman grew to become the head of studios previously only held by men. I mostly wanted to learn how she exchanged one life for a new one – how she forged her path and how she found her passions in life to sustain the legacy she gave to each industry she endeavoured to give her heart and life.

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Book Review | “Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing and the making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker” by Stephen Galloway #BloggingForBooksLeading Lady
Subtitle: Sherry Lansing and the making of a Hollywood groundbreaker
by Stephen Galloway
Source: Publisher via Blogging for Books

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

ISBN: 978-0307405937

Genres: Biography / Autobiography, Current Events, Film History | Classic Hollywood, Interviews & Conversations, Motion Pictures and/or Television, Non-Fiction, Travelogue, Women's Studies


Published by Crown Archetype

on 25th April, 2017

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 416

 Published By: Crown Archetype

(an imprint of Crown Publishing Group)

Available Formats: Hardcover, Ebook, Audiobook and forthcoming Trade Paperback

Converse on Twitter via: #SherryLansing & #BloggingForBooks

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Posted Sunday, 15 April, 2018 by jorielov in Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Blogging for Books, Book Review (non-blog tour), Non-Fiction