Thursday, 24 December 2015

Star Wars or Star Warped...Contains spoilers

It may not come as a surprise to my followers/readers of the blog that I (Kooks) am a nerd/geek.  I think I can safely say that as such, 2015 has been film and television wise the year of Science Fiction and super heroes.  From Avengers Age of Ultron, through to Ant Man, culminating in the release last week of the mega hyped Star Wars The Force Awakens.  On television there have been such shows as Supergirl, Marvels Agents of Shield and for 2016 a new series of Star Trek, I would say that lovers of this genre are going to be well and truly satiated and the next generation of geeks/nerds come into fruition.

In 1977 my dad took myself and my older sister to see the original Star Wars.  I was six years old at the time.  Fast forward nearly forty years, several marriages, seven children, almost two grandchildren later and the hype that has been generated for this film is phenomenal. Star Wars fever really has struck it seems, but does the film live up to the hype?  Here is my honest opinion and it is my review and my opinion.  This does contain SPOILERS so if you haven't seen it, you'd better close the page.

I went to see it in 3D.  It's a good film.  In 3D its great.  The dialogue is so much better than the previous films, it flows and there is banter and more than a few comic moments.  The writer JJ Abrams has kept it seems to a mantra "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." What does this mean?  Simply that he's kept to a tried and trusted formula of the first one in the series pretty much running along the same lines as The Phantom Menace and A New Hope.  For example a desert planet, and the hero, in this case the heroine on a speeder wearing light airy clothing.

Han, Leia and Chewie's return was more than welcome.  However, when Leia spoke, I felt she was unable to move her lips and her lines sounded mumbled rather than spoken.

There are more than a few irritating moments during the film and it had a lot of ghosts from the previous films intertwined.  For example Anakin's petulance and frustration was apparent in his grandson (Kylo Ren) behaviour.  Seriously, using his lightsaber to destroy things in a clear paddy?  The boy needs taken over a knee and given a severe spanking.  When Kylo took his helmet off, all I could think was put it back on. Even his locks were Anakin-ish.

The storyline was what I would have expected from a Star Wars film.  This has clearly been aimed at drawing in a younger audience as well as keeping the die hard addicts satisfied.

However, JJ has my respect for one thing.  The ending. A classic keep the audience wanting more.  He left us on a cliffhanger, and not metaphorically.  For the thirty or so seconds that Luke Skywalker was in it, he was on a cliff.  Surprisingly enough for a Jedi who was so distraught that he went into hiding for so many years, he was amazingly coiffured and his hair and beard styled so that I thought he'd be perfect for a hair care commercial.

Leave the audience wanting more...JJ really has got that spot on.  He left the audience asking questions such as...Is Han really gone?  Who is Rey?  Is she Luke's daughter or is she Kylo Ren's twin sister?  Who is Finn and is he as most people suspect Lando Calrissian's son?  Poe Dameron...could he be strong in the force?  Will Yoda return?

Good it was, and go I will to see Episode VIII.  However, there is one thing left to say.  If I was asked the question Star Wars or Doctor Who, my answer is simple.

From Kooks (Manda) I would like to wish each and every one of you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Keep it Kooky xxxxxxxxxxxxx


Wednesday, 9 December 2015




Release Date: 29th Nov 2015
Christmas is just around the corner when Star begins working at Butterburn library, but not everyone is embracing the spirit of the season.
Sixteen-year-old Arianna’s mock exams are looming and she’s feeling under pressure. With her father living abroad and her mother working three jobs, she doesn’t have much support at home.
The bank is threatening to repossess Evan’s house, and he has no idea how he’s going to get through Christmas with two children who are used to getting everything they want.
Patricia’s clichĂ© of a husband, after 23 years of marriage, has announced he’s moving out of the family home, and moving in with his secretary.
Daniel is doing the work of three people in his sales job, as well as looking after his kids and his wife. Pulled in too many different directions, he’s feeling stressed out.
Can Star, the library’s Good Samaritan, help set them on the path to happiness this Christmas?
Susan Buchanan lives in Central Scotland with her partner, Tony, and their two children. She is the author of three other novels: The Christmas Spirit, The Dating Game, and Sign of the Times. Return of the Christmas Spirit is her fourth book. She is currently working on her fifth book, What If.
Susan is also a proofreader, editor, and translator, and when not working, writing, or caring for her two delightful cherubs, loves reading, the theatre, quiz shows, and eating out - not necessarily in that order!
Twitter: susan_buchanan
There are 2 giveaways associated with this tour
Visit Susan’s blog at, where there will be a Rafflecopter giveaway for a £10/$15 Amazon voucher for the duration of the tour and the launch day itself.
Enter the tour giveaway to win an ecopy (x2) of Susan’s book THE DATING GAME
This is the ideal Christmas read, especially while waiting for mince pies to bake in the oven.  Wonderfully heart-warming, with characters that the reader can relate to and empathise with. A quirky librarian with a delightful secret brings the story to life with an extra touch of magic!
The individual woes and tribulations of Patricia, Evan, Daniel and Arianna are cloaked in warm duvet thanks to Star and her way of soothing even the most troubled of hearts.
A total page turner and delightful especially for this time of the year.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015


Hi everyone and welcome to Kooks Nook.

Today on my blog I have the lovely Kathryn Freeman sharing her book Search For The Truth.
Published in August from Choc Lit this book has everything a romance reader could wish for. Anyway over to Kathryn...

Sometimes the truth hurts …

When journalist Tess Johnson takes a job at Helix pharmaceuticals, she has a very specific motive. Tess has reason to believe the company are knowingly producing a potentially harmful drug and, if her suspicions are confirmed, she will stop at nothing to make sure the truth comes out.

Jim Knight is the president of research and development at Helix and is a force to be reckoned with. After a disastrous office affair he’s determined that nothing else will distract him from his vision for the company. Failure is simply not an option.

As Tess and Jim start working together, both have their reasons for wanting to ignore the sexual chemistry that fires between them. But chemistry, like most things in the world of science, isn’t always easy to control. 

Buy Links

To use a somewhat strange saying here, Kathryn really does 'know her onions' when it comes to writing a romantic mystery set in the pharmaceuticals industry.  With a drop dead gorgeous hero in Jim Knight (wafts fan here!) and a secret hiding investigative journalist Tess the combination and sexual chemistry is explosive.  With witty dialogue exchanges between them, this book really does tick all the boxes for a romantic fiction reader such as myself.  Brilliantly written, with plot twists to keep the pages turning, this is a must read.  


A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero.

With two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn't always about hearts and flowers - and heroes come in many disguises.





A Paperback copy of Too Charming by Kathryn Freeman

(open internationally)


Friday, 6 November 2015

Seized by Love Blog Tour with Brook Cottage Brooks



YOU FELL IN love with Blue Ryder and Lizzie Barber in Seaside Summers, now follow their journey to find true love in SEIZED BY LOVE, the first book in the Ryder series. Coming soon.
Lizzie Barber runs a successful flower shop by day and secretly hosts the Naked Baker webcast at night to help pay for her younger sister’s education. To keep friends and family from finding out about her sexy secret, she’s put her social life on hold until her sister’s education is paid off and she can stop filming the webcast.
Blue Ryder fell hard for Lizzie Barber when he met her a year ago, and he hasn’t been able to get her off his mind since. Everything about the feisty little brunette, from her tight bod to her seductive smile, cuts straight to his heart. Though Lizzie has turned down every invitation he’s extended—Blue is not about to give up trying.
Renovating Lizzie’s kitchen brings Blue further into Lizzie’s life, and the oven is not the only thing heating up. One night and one powerful kiss changes everything. But when Lizzie’s secret is revealed and the safe bubble she’s hidden in shatters, true love may not be enough to put the pieces back together.
Buy Links
About Melissa Foster

Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes contemporary romance, new adult, contemporary women’s fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the  World Literary CafĂ© and Fostering Success. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on  Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine. 
Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.
Visit Melissa on social media. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.
Authors Links:
Sign up for Melissa's newsletter to stay up to date with releases and giveaways
2 ebooks – Seaside Dreams
My Review
Well, this romance gives 'The Naked Chef' a run for his money.  With a ballsy heroine in Lizzie and the ultimate good guy in Blue, I adored this from page one and upset as heck when it ended.  With fabulous humour, three dimensional characters I could relate to and a hero I could happily fall in love with, this is a well written friends to lovers romance that should be on every romance readers' shelf.


Saturday, 3 October 2015

A Day Off Quirky Style

Life has a funny way of giving my ample tushy a good nibble.  None more so than Friday's day off in our capital city, London.

My friend Jane and I decided that we would have one day to do what we wanted, when we wanted with the emphasis on being able to chat without interruption from children, husbands and other such distractions.

So there we are sitting on our spanking clean train waiting to depart from Luton when there is an announcement.  The train's going to be delayed due to a passenger medical emergency on board and they are waiting for the paramedics.  So we wait and people watch, until we are advised to get off and board the train on the opposite side to continue our journey....this is number 1.

People Jane and I recognise...Lesley the vicar from St Luke's Church...tick.

So we get to St Pancras and spend the next fifteen minutes looking for the bus stop to get to the National Portrait Gallery.  During which time my husband phones and I end up losing my travel card.  So, we retrace our steps and low and behold, just outside the station on the ground is my ticket...this is number 2.  Yep this day off is going so well so far...You think?

National Portrait Gallery wandered through, I stared disapprovingly at Sarah Churchill, who manipulated poor Queen Anne (one of my favourite and very mis-appreciated monarchs) we head off toward Covent Garden in search of lunch.  Can we find somewhere that's reasonably priced? No.  So a quick check at my phone (which is at this time being used more as a mini computer rather than it's primary purpose) for free attractions within walking distance.  It suggests the British Museum.  So off Jane and I set, still in the search for food.  Eventually finding an Italian restaurant with a meal deal for pizza or pasta, salad and a drink for £10 we order.  Sitting outside Jane and I people watch, mostly of strangely clad, faces glued to their phones/tablets humans.  Have we really evolved this far that we spend the majority of our time glued to a screen rather than use our voices to interact with others? I realise the irony of this comment seeing as I am staring at a screen typing this blog post.

To our abject disappointment there were no trip ups from the glued screenables walking past us.  We enjoyed our lunch despite the serving staff constantly asking us if we wanted them to remove our salads and no we didn't.  This was number 3.

The British Museum beckoned.  Absolutely stunning and imposing building.  We walked in, and due to the immenseness of the place, I walked out.  For me it was far too much  to cope with and at this point in our trip I needed some peace and quiet.  Hence my cuddle with Leo the Lion outside.

So Jane in her wisdom suggests the British Library.  We could go in, grab a book and sit down with a cup of tea/coffee and relax. That is the plan, or so we thought.

We wander through the back streets of London in search of a bus stop to take us there and discover some of London's gems.  A tiny park with benches only for use by weather beaten townhouses.  A widgey little shop filled with oddly named bottles of beer and whisky are our attractions, and despite needing a cup of tea, this is turning into a good day.

Eventually we find the bus stop and the right bus.  Get on, only to be told as we make ourselves comfortable that we need to get off at the next stop as its well behind time and will be terminating.  So we get off and wait at the stop for the next bus, only for an hysterical woman to run past us saying the word 'bag' over and over again.  From the tone of her voice Jane and I deduce that she is deaf, a quick glance at her ears and she is wearing two hearing aids.  Understandably this poor woman is deeply upset, we ask if she needs help, and try to explain to the bus driver what has happened. 
At this point this poor lady has tears in her eyes, and is getting more and more hysterical.  So Jane and I attempt to calm her down, and we interpret (I can understand a bit of sign language thanks to Justin and Mr Tumble.) with the bus driver.  She contacts the previous bus and to our relief, the conductor has found it...Thank God.  However, she needs to get off at the next stop and go to the bus stand to retrieve it.  Unfortunately the woman doesn't understand, so Jane and I make the decision to escort her and help her.  The bus is waiting outside London University hospital and the conductor hands it to her.  The woman asks us our names and hugs us, so I attempt to sign our names, she asks how I knew sign language and sign 'Mr Tumble' which brings a smile to her face....This is number 4.

FINALLY after all that kafuffle we arrive at the British Library.  Now here is where I didn't do my research and admit that I should have done.  In my innocence I thought that the British Library had LOADS AND LOADS of books and we would be able to find a book and sit down on a gorgeous leather chair in silence.  Yeah, I was wrong BIGTIME.

It turns out that the British Library is in fact an archive and in order to use the reading room you need to register and then follow a list of rules and regulations about what you can take in there with you and what you can use, etc...which for me was a heck of a disappointment sadly...Number 5

A mooch around the Library shop provides me with goodies, including a Librarian badge in the colour of my old senior school house Whittle which was red, Yay! I was a librarian at Bexleyheath School for 3 years and I loved it.

After a cup of tea Jane and I go back inside and look around an exhibition.  To my delight the treasures there are a copy of the Lindisfarne Gospels and a letter from Queen (Princess as she was then) Anne describing her irritation with her sister (Queen Mary) for insisting she dismiss Sarah Churchill from her service.  I seem to be rather obsessed with Queen Anne at the moment.

Its a wonderful exhibition and well worth a visit in my opinion especially for a history buff or for someone who loves books and how they have evolved.

After this we decide to head to the station and look around the shops, stopping at a Scottish bakery stall to buy two doorstep pieces of shortbread.  One of my favourite shops Fortnum and Mason has a shop in St Pancras and I spy packets of Queen Anne tea.  However, Jane in her wisdom drags me out  and insists that for Christmas from the kids I ask for tea and biscuits from them.  More people watching.

We had to wait unfortunately for the peak time to pass before Jane and I are allowed to get onto the platform.  Sitting down and waiting for our train I spy a familiar face, Gail Porter.  She is a Scottish celebrity.  Anyhoo, a woman was struggling with her baggage and before Jane and I could offer help she and her daughter had helped the woman up the escalator.  Gail had asked if anyone had helped her at all, to be told she was travelling from Vienna and commuters had been rushing by and at one point knocked her over.

The train arrives, and just before we board I summon up all my courage to say 'That I thought she looked like Gail Porter' to be told by her, that she was.  Her delightful daughter bursts into laughter.
We get on the train together and chat about how kindness and compassion seems to be disappearing from everyday life, we exchange a few stories, Gail shakes my hand before going off to find a seat...This was our number 6.

I didn't ask for a 'selfie' or an autograph.  For me observing the way she went out of her way to help someone was enough.  We seem to be blinkered and caught up in the busyness of our everyday lives that sometimes we need to take the blinds off to see what's really going on around us. 

In conclusion, our day in London has been an eye-opener for me.  Jane and I saw more coffee shops, mini supermarkets (we counted ALL the main ones within our walk), and a myriad of uniquely dressed people, one of whom actually 'clicked' his fingers to summon his assistant! or minion as I referred to him.  After arriving home I tucked into my tea of chow-mein, caught up on Four in a Bed and hit the hay.

Writing this blog post brought this observation:

Giving someone a helping hand with their bags, a simple hello in the morning on the school run, or even writing a card to say you care.  It's the little things that count and a little human contact goes a long way.  So look up from the screen occasionally, there's a big wide world out there and the reality may be more rewarding than living in cyberspace.

I'd be interested in hearing your stories.

A big thanks to Jane for resisting the urge to strangle me during the day.

Keep it Kooky!

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Her Hometown Redemption Blog Tour with Rachel Brimble

Hi and welcome to Kooks Nook.

Its been a while since I last posted, so I apologise profusely. 

I have the pleasure to be part of a street team for a very talented English author, Rachel Brimble who writes for the Harlequin Superromance line.  I thoroughly recommend these longer romances, especially during the autumn and winter months, just as there's a nip in the air.  These entice the reader to curl up on a couch under a snuggly blanket, mug of tea and a plateful of biscuits.  Psst...when the kids are at school is a great time, take it from me.

Anyhoo, enough gassing from me, as I'll hand over to Rachel.



Her Hometown Redemption

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: Sept 1st 2015

Publisher:  Harlequin Superromance


She's back to right her wrongs.


When Tanya Todd returns to Templeton Cove, she knows better than to expect a warm welcome. She burned a few bridges on her way out of town, and making amends won't be easy. First on her list is the man whose heart she carelessly shattered, Liam Browne. 


Seeing the successful criminal lawyer after all these years, Tanya is interested in more than just Liam's forgiveness. As they work together to bring the man who hurt her sister to justice, the attraction between them sizzles. Suddenly Tanya's second chance could include a future with Liam…if she can prove she's changed. 






I'm always thrilled to read a Superromance by an English author, especially when its the latest in a series. I adore The Templeton Cove books and for me each one is a real treat.

I won't give out any plotlines because each reader finds something unique as they read. The storyline flows effortlessly drawing the reader in from the first chapter. Hint...I'd have a pot of tea handy because I could NOT put this down. This is a perfectly balanced book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it and sad that it ended, which is what a great book should be.

Liam and Tanya's romance was uplifting yet poignant in parts. Rachel's characters are well rounded and three-dimensional so that the reader does get a chance to connect and relate to them.

Brilliantly written, and thanks to Brook Cottage Books for the ARC and including me on the tour.



Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. In 2012, she sold two books to Harlequin Superromance and a further three in 2013. She also writes Victorian romance for Kensington--her debut was released in April 2013, followed by a second in January 2014 and the third is released Jan 2015.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.


GIVEAWAY (open internationally) A signed copy of the book along with a tote bag a Rafflecopter giveaway