1942. Three years into the war, Pam turns down her hard-won place at Oxford University to become a codebreaker at Bletchley Park. There, she meets two young men, both keen to impress her, and Pam finds herself falling hard for one of them. But as the country’s future becomes more uncertain by the day, a tragic turn of events casts doubt on her choice – and Pam’s loyalty is pushed to its limits…
Present-day. Julia is struggling to juggle her career, two children and a husband increasingly jealous of her success. Her brother presents her with the perfect distraction: forgotten photos of their grandmother as a young woman at Bletchley Park. Why did her grandmother never speak of her time there? The search for answers leads Julia to an incredible tale of betrayal and bravery – one that inspires some huge decisions of her own…
My Review of The Girl From Bletchley Park
The Girl From Bletchley Park is a riveting story about the strength and achievements of two women in the face of danger and heartbreak. Two timelines – 1942 and the present – run in parallel to tell a story of determination, dedication, sacrifice, and hardships.
Julia, an entrepreneur juggling a jealous husband and two children, discovers her grandmother’s (Pam) role at Bletchley Park through some old photographs and a memoir written by Pam’s friend. As she pieces together the fascinating story of Pam’s contribution to WWII, she also fixes her increasingly off-kilter marriage in the process.
The author has researched her story well. The technical details of code-breaking machines used during WWII are fascinating yet simple to understand. The idea that women aren’t good at mathematics or STEM subjects or cannot have a successful career is blown to smithereens.
The men attempt to use the women to further their own goals but are surprised to find that they cannot be as easily manipulated as they thought.
I loved all aspects of this book – the intimate look inside the workings of Bletchley Park, the tug-of-war between people, and the triumph of love and loyalty over greed and deceit.
Kathleen McGurl lives near the coast in Christchurch, England. She writes dual timeline novels in which a historical mystery is uncovered and resolved in the present day. She is married to an Irishman and has two adult sons. She enjoys travelling, especially in her motorhome around Europe.
The ace photographer and the supermodel, they should have been a match made in heaven. Instead, they fought like the demons of hell.
Complicated, surly, and sexy, Manav Apte was probably the only photographer who resented his muse. From the day he’d seen her, there had been no other. Unfortunately, she was the one woman he could never have.
Passionate, talented, and gorgeous, Diana Severes refused to give the temperamental ass behind the camera the satisfaction of knowing he got under her skin. It was, however, impossible not to notice him or his glowering disapproval that trailed her everywhere she went.
Their dislike and distrust of each other is legendary in the fashion industry and yet, the sparks that fly when they come together for work are enough to light the sets on fire.
Will the Golden Girl of India’s fashion scene be able to see beyond his hatred to the love he’s desperately trying to mask? And will the country’s most talented photographer realise that his true talent lies not in what he views through his lens but what he sees through the filter of his heart?
My Review of Twilight’s Temptation
Twilight’s Temptation follows the drama-filled and heartwarming Midnight’s Star where we oohed and aahed over Dev and Avni’s instant attraction to each other.
On the other hand, Diana and Manav’s relationship can only be called explosive. They’re fiercely attracted to each other yet they stay apart for much of the story. Theirs is a story of much pain, too many misunderstandings, and plenty of ego trips.
The author has a humorous and sassy style of writing that I deeply enjoy. It feels contemporary and real. I could be reading about the girl and guy next door!
Manav’s painful past is carefully picked apart layer by layer until we understand much of what drives him. With his story, the author uncovers different personality types and family dynamics. The showdown between two family members at the end had me fearing the worst.
Diana could easily be the woman of my dreams – smart, diplomatic, and successful. She navigates social minefields with practiced ease. She’s in full control of her life, with the exception of her heartstrings. She’s an example of why we shouldn’t judge only by looks.
Twilight’s Temptation is a bittersweet story of two people deeply in love yet failing to find a middle ground because of their differences. Yet, as a reader, I held on to hope until the end.
Was I rewarded or disappointed? Why don’t you read the book to find out?
I’m sure you won’t be able to put it down because you’ll be pulled into the drama of it all.
A published author with Harlequin India, Locksley Hall and Juggernaut, Shilpa Suraj writes stories that are sweet, tender, angsty and passionate. While romance and women’s fiction are her favourite genres, she believes that at the end of the day, all that matters is the story.
Nancy Hunter and her grandmother Jane Hunter run the Dedley Endings Bookshop, selling crime, thriller and mystery books, in a small, quiet Cotswold village where nothing ever happens…
That is, until the wealthy and reclusive Roth family open up their mansion for the first time in twenty years, inviting the people of Dedley End to a lavish engagement party.
While everyone is thrilled to finally look around the mansion on the hill, the festivities are quickly cut short when beautiful Lucy, recently married to young Harry Roth, is found dead after being pushed over the first-floor balustrade.
But who among the guests could have been capable of her murder – and why?
Nancy and Jane decide to investigate – after all, not only do they own a crime themed bookshop, they were also both named after famous literary detectives – but soon wonder if they’ve taken on more than they can handle. Especially when it seems the killer has worked out that they’re hot on their heels…
Can they catch the murderer before the murderer catches up with them? Or will there be a deadly ending to this story?
Join the unlikeliest detective duo for the killer opener of The Dedley End Mysteries series, by a major voice in women’s fiction.
Murder at the House on the Hill is an engrossing cosy mystery with a cast of realistic characters and set in the lovely-sounding village, Dedley End.
The whole story has a literary theme with Nancy and her grandmother Jane (the amateur detectives) running a bookshop selling crime, mystery, and thriller books.
When there’s a death in the Roth Lodge, Nancy tries to get inside information by offering to catalogue and refresh the Roth library. And an Agatha Christie book gives Nancy a clue about the murderer.
The story has a steady pace and takes its time to establish each character and scene before moving on.
There’s plenty of tea drinking–something I enjoyed reading about–and the village community have a cosy, warm, and inviting feel about them.
The author writes masterfully, weaving clues into the narrative such that my head was spinning thinking about who the murderer could be and what were the secret(s) of the Roth family.
I also loved the side story with Nancy and an ex-boyfriend, which gives many insights into how a relationship should (and shouldn’t be).
Murder at the House on the Hill is the perfect book for an afternoon curled up on the sofa with tea and biscuits for company.
(I received an e-copy of the book from Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources with a request for an honest review.)
Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. She’s the author of the bestselling GLENDALE HALL series, which continues with its third book HOPEFUL HEARTS at GLENDALE HALL in September, as well as two other standalone novels – SUMMER at the KINDNESS CAFE, and THE SECOND LOVE of my LIFE. She has been chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for two RNA awards. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star, and her books have won wide reader acclaim.
Victoria is a full-time author. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry, and loves books, clothes, music, going out for tea and cake, and posting photos on Instagram. Find out more about Victoria by following on Instagram at @vickyjwalters, on Twitter at @Vicky_Walters or by visiting her blog at:https://victoria-writes.com/.
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
This quirky piece of advice by Mark Twain is the basis of a simple productivity method called Eat That Frog. It was developed by Brian Tracy, a productivity consultant, who wrote the book Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.
According to Tracy, your “frog” is your “biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.” He feels that focusing on the “ugliest frog” is the path to success, happiness, respect, and status.
Who should try this method?
If the following sound like you, then you should give Eat That Frog a try:
You get many tasks done during the day, but don’t make progress on the most important ones.
You find it difficult to follow the popular productivity systems.
Your to-do list is so overwhelming that you put off starting work on it.
You procrastinate because you have trouble starting off on your most difficult tasks.
You have trouble deciding when to do which task.
Bill Clinton had said that we tend to overestimate what can be done in a year, but underestimate how much can be accomplished in a decade. This is true of shorter periods, too.
We overestimate how much can be done in a day, but underestimate how much can be completed in a year.
Eat That Frog helps you overcome the mental resistance to starting bigger tasks and gives you the push needed to tick off the most important tasks on your list first.
When applied consistently, Eat That Frog will help you get the most difficult AND important tasks (that help you get closer to your goals) done.
Steps of “Eat That Frog”
In his book, Tracy explains 21 steps to plan, prioritize, and execute your most important tasks. He surmises that people tend to do one of these when faced with a huge list of to-dos:
A – They procrastinate on big, important, and difficult tasks till the deadline is almost up and ramp up stress levels
B – They do “busywork,” i.e. finish off all the tiny, not-so-important tasks to avoid having to do the big tasks.
Both approaches are wrong because they’re not helping you get close to your goal in any way. You must focus on the impact of each task you’re doing and not depend on ticking tasks off a checklist.
The core of this productivity method is, however, a simple three-step process:
Identify your frog i.e. most difficult AND most important task. This task helps you reach your goal (s).
“Eat your frog” first thing in the morning i.e. don’t put it off for later.
Repeat every day.
Once you’ve got the frog out of the way, you will find it easier to get the rest of the tasks done.
The cumulative effects of this simple habit will result in big accomplishments.
Why should the frog be tackled in the morning?
That’s because you tend to be the most productive first thing in the morning and can focus your energies on getting the high-priority tasks out of the way. It also makes for a more relaxed, pleasant rest of the day.
First, you create a list of tasks that you need to complete the next day.
Next, place them in one of the four quadrants of the Eisenhower matrix:
Quadrant 1: Tasks that you don’t want to do, but must complete
Quadrant 2: Tasks that you want to do, and must complete
Quadrant 3: Tasks that you want to do, but don’t need to complete
Quadrant 4: Tasks that you don’t want to do, and don’t need to complete
Your “frogs” will lie in quadrant 1 – everyday tasks you’re dragging your feet on, but you really must get them done. These tasks are also called the Most Important Tasks (MIT).
Work on the tasks in quadrant 1 first thing in the morning and then move on to the other quadrants.
What happens if you have two frogs?
If you have trouble prioritizing between two seemingly ugly, important, and difficult tasks, use the ABCDE technique to decide.
Create a list of the tasks that you need to complete the next day.
Label each task with a letter:
A – most important task that will lead to serious consequences if you don’t get it done
B – next most important task that may not have as serious consequences but still needs to be done
C – a task you could do but won’t have any serious consequences if you didn’t do it
D – a task that you can delegate to others to give yourself more time to do “A” tasks
E – a task you don’t really have to do and can remove from your list
Finish “A” task first and only then move on to the others.
Benefits of Eat That Frog
You use the most productive hours of the day to get important tasks done.
It’s simple, flexible, and almost universally applicable.
It helps you set your own agenda instead of focusing on doing other people’s work.
It encourages a habit of doing deep work i.e. distraction-free blocks of work time.
It forces you to focus on less and prevents you from overestimating the number of tasks you can do in a day.
Tips to get the most out of Eat That Frog
Pick tasks that can be completed within 1-4 hours.
Your “frog” should ideally be completed in 4 hours so that you can check the task off your list before lunch. Clearly define the task so that you’re not afraid to get started.
2. Break down big tasks into smaller ones.
If your “frog” is too big to be eaten before lunch, break it down into smaller sub-tasks. Each of these sub-tasks is a new frog.
3. Don’t schedule tasks way ahead in time.
It is not possible to accurately forecast tasks well into the future so avoid the temptation of scheduling your “frogs” for the week. Identify your frogs one day at a time.
4. List your frogs the night before.
Before the end of the day, plan your frog(s) for the next day. You have enough information to know what to do the next day, but not so much that you feel like procrastinating.
Start with one frog for the day and if you get comfortable with the concept, increase the number. There’s no set number of frogs to be done in a day.
The effectiveness of Eat That Frog comes from its focus on the impact of tasks rather than completing a set number of tasks. By getting the most difficult task out of the way in the morning, you set yourself up for a happy, endorphin-filled rest of the day. It works wonders for your motivation to get through the day.
Lexi Mazur is a depressed, alcoholic, pill-popper whose only joy has become her reality TV shows, often fantasizing that the people on TV are a part of her world. After her boyfriend Steve leaves her, she fixates on the show Socialites and its star Magnolia Artois, following every facet of the girl’s life on social media in the hopes of befriending and becoming more like her.
But stalking isn’t new to Lexi. She ultimately won over her ex Steve by following and manipulating every minute detail about him so he’d fall for her. In fact, she landed her other ex-boyfriend Jeremy in the same way. Being a pharma rep, she’s used to manipulation to get doctors to buy her drugs, along with the perk of saving pills for herself.
But what happens when the stalker gets stalked?
Recently, Lexi has felt someone watching her: in her apartment in Queens, at her job. At first, she thinks her mind’s playing tricks, but the watcher is behaving just like she would. And soon they begin leaving threatening clues like she starts to do to Magnolia once her obsession grows more dangerous. Is it one of her exes out for revenge? Her only real friend from childhood who she’s always had an unhealthy rivalry? A detective who may have figured her out? The reality star Magnolia trying to turn the tables? Or even someone she might not know?
Lexi learns the only way to beat her stalker is to use her own stalking prowess to outsmart them at their own game. But has she finally met her match?
My Review of Stalker Stalked
I had a single thought after I finished reading Lexi’s story — “Wow! What was that?!”
Stalker Stalked is a twisted tale of drug and alcohol addiction leading to losing touch with reality. Lexi is an addict who has had a broken, abusive childhood. She copes with her trauma in the present by abusing pills and alcohol. Her addiction causes her to lose touch with reality and she begins to believe she is a part of a “reality” TV show.
Lexi stalks the main character of the show, but things take a bizarre turn when she realizes that someone is stalking her, too.
The author describes the unraveling of Lexi’s mind and its ripple effect on her relationships in such canny detail. He may have gone a bit overboard with the detail in a few scenes where he describes Lexi’s craziness, but perhaps that is the appeal of this book.
I loved the author’s previous book, The Ancestor, even though it required the reader to suspend disbelief. But it was such a novel plot and the writing style was exquisite.
Stalker Stalked is completely different from The Ancestor but the writing is amazing. Nevertheless, it felt like the twist where Lexi the stalker gets stalked did not work well. The explanation is ludicrous even though I saw the connection with Lexi and her state of mind.
It was difficult to read accounts of Lexi’s abusive childhood. We carry the scars of past trauma throughout our lives, no matter how good or happy we may be in the present.
Stalker Stalked ends unexpectedly and no attempt has been made to give it a happy ending. I liked the fact that the ending was rooted in reality because the entire story deals with Lexi’s flights of fancy.
Stalker Stalked is a bizarre yet chillingly accurate depiction of addiction and child abuse. It will shock you and entertain you (if you’re into gruesome stuff) in equal measure.
(I received an e-copy of the book from Blackthorn Book Tours with a request for an honest review.)