#BookReview: Because of You by Helen Fermont

hf-fc-because-of-you

About the Book

Because of You is the deeply moving debut novel by Scandinavian writer Helene Fermont. It’s a gripping work of modern women’s fiction with a distinct ‘Scandi’ feel and a psychological twist.

Because of You spans 36 years in the life of Hannah Stein, a Swedish teenager who arrives in London, at the tail end of the disco era, for a gap year before embarking on a teaching career. The people she meets change the course of her life irrevocably and the novel charts her changing personal and professional fortunes over the next three decades. Because of You is about love, coming of age, friendship, bereavement, stillbirth and rape. Its themes include redemption, acceptance, fidelity and family. Because of You is a story that every woman can relate to.

Scandinavian noir has firmly established itself as a bestselling genre in the UK. Because of You takes the elements that make this style of writing so compelling – the realism and dark, morally complex mood – and combines it with women’s fiction.

This is a dark, morally complex and cross-generational story of enduring love, fate and destiny and will appeal to readers who appreciate an emotive, uncompromising and fulfilling read driven by character and circumstance.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this novel; it was different to what I was expecting but it was a great read.

Because of You spans 36 years of Hannah Stein’s life – from being a teenager on a gap year in London through until her middle years. It was wonderful to read a book with a long timeline, it was refreshing to get to stay with these characters and see how their lives changed over the years.

I very much enjoyed reading about the older members of Hannah’s family – particularly her grandmother Zipporah, and the older lady, Ella, that Hannah stays with when she first moves to London. I loved how they guided Hannah through her early adulthood and tried to keep her secure without crowding her. I loved Hannah’s relationship with her parents and brother too, it was nice to read about such close bonds within a family and to explore how roles change as everyone gets older. I don’t think this is often covered in novels as the usual short time span doesn’t allow for seeing how everyone ages and changes so it was refreshing and enjoyable to follow all the characters lives in this book. It was moving to see Hannah’s parents age to read about how that then changed the relationship – it comes to us all in life but it’s not often in  contemporary fiction that we get to see people go from still quite young and full of vitality through to old age and all that comes with it. Seeing Hannah become the age her parents must have been at the start of the novel brings it all around full circle.

There is a darker side to this novel – mainly from Hannah’s boyfriend Mark when she first arrived in London and after a while we see that he’s becoming quite controlling and then obsessed with her. Later in the novel Hannah suffers at the hands of an obsessive colleague who won’t take no for an answer. Because of You doesn’t shy away from difficult topics and, although at times the storylines were hard to read, it was actually good to see these issues covered in contemporary fiction because these things do happen to people in real life.

Because of You is a great mix of contemporary fiction and noir. I’d recommend this novel to anyone who loves long novels that are cross genre. I’ll certainly be looking out for more books by Helene Fermont in the future, I can’t wait to read whatever she writes next!

I received this book from Bookollective in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

helene-fermont

Born into a bilingual family (Swedish/English), Hélene Fermont enjoyed an idyllic childhood on the outskirts of Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city and a major cultural hub.

Growing up in the early 1970s, she enjoyed a brief musical career on Swedish TV and radio before pursuing a rewarding career as a therapist specialising in children with learning difficulties.

Hélene has lived in London for over 20 years but still regularly returns to her native Sweden, where the unspoiled scenery and tranquility help aid the creative process. Hélene is currently hard at work on her second novel.

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Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult #ReadWithoutPrejudice

#ReadWithout Prejudice by Jodi Picoult

About the Book

When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.

What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.

Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.

It is about opening your eyes. 

My thoughts

Firstly, I have to say that I read this back when it was still being sent out as the #ReadWithoutPrejudice novel and I loved having the chance to read a novel with no preconceptions. I had no idea who wrote it, what it was about or even what the cover design was when I received it! It was so refreshing and it has made me think a bit more about perhaps not paying such close attention to the synopsis when choosing a book in the future!

Small Great Things grabbed me within the first few pages and I found that when I wasn’t reading it I was looking forward to getting back to it. I read this novel without knowing who had written it but I am a fan of Jodi Picoult and I soon began to wonder if it was her new novel.

This novel isn’t perfect but it confronts race issues head on and references very recent high profile racially motivated killings in America. It’s hard to read at times but the thing that Jodi Picoult does so well in her novels is that she always makes you think without it feeling forced.

The ending is a little bit too neat but then this is what we want from Jodi Picoult’s novels, some kind of resolution and justice to a degree. There are issues with some of the characters being a little one-dimensional but I have to say that for the most part none of this took away from my enjoyment of the novel. I love getting completely lost in a book, and I love books that are great to read but that also give me pause for thought. This novel stayed in my head for quite a while after I’d finished reading it, which is always the sign of an enjoyable read.

This is a thought-provoking novel about race, prejudice and power – I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who loves fiction that is easy to get wrapped up in but that also gives you something to think about.

I received this novel from Hodder and Stoughton via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Q&A with Sylvia Ashby, author of The Treachery of Trains

The Treachery of Trains by Sylvia Ashby

Today, I’m delighted to share an interview I did with Sylvia Ashby a little while ago. I recently read The Treachery of Trains, and reviewed it on my blog last week (you can read my review here if you’d like to) so it’s lovely to get to know more about Sylvia.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I’m a mum, a wife, a thirsty traveller (for wine, mainly) and a very reluctant sailor. I’m bilingual, but I don’t live in the countries I speak the languages of. So I’m learning a couple of more languages. C’est la vie.

How did you first come to be a writer?

When I was fifteen, I wanted to become a journalist, but my father opposed to the idea. He would sit me down in front of the television every evening to watch the news. When a bunch of reporters surrounded a politician or a government official for questioning, he’d point at them and demand to know: “Is that what you want to do for the rest of your life?”

At the time, I had no idea there was a difference between a reporter and a journalist, so I gave up on my dream. I became a graphic designer instead for a number of years; then I owned four shops selling and designing women’s clothing. That went on for a decade and I loved it, but when the economy crashed in 2008 I needed to get out.

I looked at what I wanted to do next and writing was, literary, the first thought that went through my mind. So I became a journalist (not a reporter!) and a writer at the ripe age of thirty-five. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

What is your book about?

The Treachery of Trains is about a girl that’s lost. To begin with, she’s only lost metaphorically – Sky’s mum has died three years ago and her best friend has left London without as much as a backward glance. Sky feels abandoned by everyone dear to her heart. Then she gets lost literally. That’s when the fun really starts.

I can’t say more because I’d spoil the plot, but I could tell you that on her first day in a new city Sky rings the doorbell of a stranger who gets the door dripping wet and in a skimpy towel. Then both of them get locked out of their respective flats.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

People, ideas, observation, imagination.

I was standing at a busy bus stop once (by Selfridge’s on Oxford Street) observing a beautiful Japanese woman struggling to get her child’s pram off the bus. She managed to get to the pavement safely only for the bus to close its doors preventing her husband from getting out. The woman panicked. She had gotten separated from her partner and was terrified. A well-meaning stranger told her that the bus would take the corner of the crossroad and stop again. She could meet her husband there.

The woman vanished in the crowd. As soon as I lost her from my sight I thought: what if they never meet again?

What if twenty years later there is this diminutive, aging Japanese man standing alone at a busy bus stop in London, hoping to find out what happened to his wife and child?

That’s a whole crime novel right there.

What is your writing routine?

I never got the hang of procrastination (the guilt is killing me!) so I have a fairly regular routine. I get children and husband out of the door in the morning, make myself a pot of tea and I start writing. I keep it up (with various success) until 4 pm when the kids get home. Then I cook. We have dinner. We do family stuff. That’s pretty much every weekday.

I don’t go out of the house much, which has knocked back my social skills by decades. I feel like a teenager again, awkward and terribly self-conscious around strangers.

What’s your favourite book that you’ve read this year?

I started the year chuckling and shaking my head at Very British Problems and I can’t seem to stop. They are so keenly observed I see them all around. It’s hilarious.

What are you reading at the moment? 

I’m plotting my next novel, so I’m reading Into the Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them by John Yorke. It’s written about the structure of drama on television, but I’m amazed how helpful it is for plotting books as well. It’s given me heaps of insight into what works in a story and how to master cliff-hangers and punchlines.

Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?

Question: What talent would you like to possess?

Answer: To be able to slow down time.

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, which three things would you want to have with you and why?

A goat, so I can have milk and cheese. A book about making cheese. My husband, so we can discuss at length the merits of having your own goat and making your own cheese.

How can people connect with you on social media?

I use Twitter excessively (according to my husband; I think I’m totally fine). Talk to me on @bysylvia_a

I also have a writer’s platform where I write book reviews, recipes, and other random stuff. Visit me at seawriting.wordpress.com

About the Author

Sylvia Ashby
Sylvia Ashby‘s first book, Pot Love, is about food and love.
Her second, The Treachery of Trains, is about finding love in unlikely places.
She lives in Belgium with her family.

About the Book

The Treachery of Trains by Sylvia Ashby

Sky has made an abominable mistake at work. Something so awful she doesn’t dare stay in the HR office of XIM Technics for fear of being lynched by her colleagues. 
So she gets on a train… 

What happens when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year?

Sky Candy is about to find out.

Review: The Boy with the Board by Katey Lovell

The Boy with the Board (Meet Cute) by Katey Lovell

When her beloved mum dies suddenly, Helena escapes to sunny California. Determined to live for the moment, she puts aside her fears and signs up for the surfing lessons she’s always dreamed of – with the added distraction of hunky instructor Ashton.

As regular readers of my blog will all know, I have adored all of the Meet Cute series of stories to date and I have to say it’s no exception with this new one! In fact, this might even be my new favourite out of all of them!

Helena has recently lost her mum and is feeling lost. Her mum had always told her that she must live her life well so when she gets her share of the inherence from the sale of her mum’s house Helena decides to have an adventure.

I could really identify with Helena, I remember the way I felt when my mum died – I suddenly didn’t want the life I’d had before. I had a heightened awareness of just how short life could be and I wanted to find what made me happy. I didn’t travel the world but I did start saying yes to more things and it led to me meeting the man who is now my husband and moving right across the country to start a new life with him. Helena seemed to react in a similar way, she wanted to see what life had to offer and to discover who she really was.

I love that she decided to learn to surf and found the confidence to wear a wetsuit even though it exposed her body that she was self-conscious about. It seemed that once Helena was in the water and having fun, all her cares seemed to float away for a while. I loved the way she and Aston met while surfing and I really felt like he could make such a difference to the break that Helena was having. I so hope they got a happy ever after!

This story was so summery and so full of hopes and dreams that it’s impossible not to fall in love with it.

I rated it  5 out of 5 and highly recommend it to everyone, but especially to anyone who is in real need of a mood boost because this story cannot fail to make you smile and feel better for a little while.

The Boy with the Board is out now and available from Amazon.

I received a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour | Review: The Treachery of Trains by Sylvia Ashby

 

trachery of trains tour

Today I’m on the blog tour for Sylvia Ashby’s brilliant novel, The Treachery of Trains and am sharing my review.

Sky has made an abominable mistake at work. Something so awful she doesn’t dare stay in the HR office of XIM Technics for fear of being lynched by her colleagues.

So she gets on a train…

What happens when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year?

Sky Candy is about to find out.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a little while so when I was offered a place on the blog tour I jumped at the chance!

Sky is an ordinary young woman trying to get on as best as she can but life hasn’t been easy. Sky was very close to her mum so when she died Sky’s life began to unravel. Instead of making rational decisions to deal with her mum’s affairs she tries to keep everything as it was. To compound the loss, her best friend who is also her flatmate and work colleague decides to leave all of a sudden and Sky doesn’t really know where she’s gone or why. Sky is left feeling completely alone and lost.

I really liked Sky, I have to admit that I did find some of the things she did a bit over the top but it was all in keeping with her character. She is quick to react to situations but doesn’t always react in a rational way. She seems to be someone who always wants to do her best though and that made her easy for me to identify with. I also felt sorry for her that she was in such a sad place after losing her mum and I was rooting for her to get a happy ending.

The mystery of what happened to Vanessa became quite central to the plot and that kept me turning the pages as I wanted to know what had made her leave so suddenly. I was never sure of her character from the way she was described in the early part of the novel, it felt like Sky was seeing her through rose-tinted glasses because she was lonely after her mum died. I couldn’t wait to find out whether my judgment was correct and the novel then became quite the page turner.

There was some funny and light-hearted moments in the novel. I loved when Sky and Diederik were searching for Mouse in the cellar, it made me laugh. The potential romance element with Diederik was gorgeous too, I so wanted things to work out for them.

The title of this book added to my intrigue about where things were going to end up for Sky as I couldn’t see what this book had to do with trains being treacherous (or how trains can even be treacherous), but when I got to the part of the book with the photo of Sky’s mum it all began to make sense. I’d never head of the treachery of an image before but I loved the way it was used and described in this novel. It all then began to make some sense of the title too – the way Sky got the wrong train, a train that wasn’t what it appeared to be, and ended up in a place that she hadn’t mean to go to, that also wasn’t what it seemed to be and yet it ultimately led her to end up where she was destined to be.

I really enjoyed this novel, it was light-hearted but with a real warmth and depth to it – a mix of women’s fiction and mystery, which worked very well together and kept me hooked. I would definitely recommend it. It’s something a bit different and is very easy to get completely engrossed in. I rated it 5 out of 5.

The Treachery of Trains is out now and available to buy from Amazon.

About the Author

Sylvia Ashby

 

Sylvia Ashby‘s first book, Pot Love, is about food and love.
Her second, The Treachery of Trains, is about finding love in unlikely places.
She lives in Belgium with her family.

You can connect with Sylvia via twitter at: @bysylvia_a

 


 

The Treachery of Trains by Sylvia Ashby

Review: Tapestry by Elle Turner

Tapestry

In hope, in pain,
we lose, we gain,
but always and forever
the human heart braves life
in light and in shade.

A collection of twelve short stories exploring the complexities of life and love.

I’ve had Tapestry on my Kindle for a while and have been very much looking forward to reading it.

This collection of short stories is excellent. I’m not someone who reads a lot of short stories, as I’ve always preferred a longer read but I’m starting to really enjoy and appreciate collections like this one that are a bit more interlinked.

I enjoyed all the stories in the collection but if I had to pick a favourite it would be the first story, Never-Ending. It just really got to me and it’s stayed in my head after I’ve finished reading.

The thing I loved most about this collection was the way each story ended. They all end with a sentence or two that really sums up the story and gives you something to think about. Elle Turner really makes you think about what words mean and what other words that are similar could have been used but the one she picked is subtly implying something else. The idea that something isn’t ‘forever, it’s just never-ending’ really got to me. The subtly of the words and the massive difference between wanting to be somewhere and feeling trapped and suffocated there. It made the stories quite poetic and added that something extra to them.

The title of the collection really gives a sense of cohesion – these stories are individual but they interweave. Some of the stories are happy, some are sad and some are somewhere in between but they all come together. Some characters re-appear in other stories, others only appear in the the one story but there is a sense of how life would go on for each person.

I very much enjoyed this collection and highly recommend it, even if, like me, you think short stories aren’t really for you, give this book a go because it might surprise you. I rated this book 4.5 out of 5.

Tapestry is out now and available from Amazon.

I featured Elle Turner on my blog a while ago, she wrote a brilliant guest post all about the books that have influenced her and you can read that here if you’d like to.

Q&A with Sheryl Browne (author of The Rest of My Life)

 

 

Today I’m delighted to be sharing an interview I recently did with Sheryl Browne, author of The Rest of My Life. 

Thank you so much for featuring me on your lovely blog, Hayley. 

Please tell my readers a bit about yourself.

I’d love to! I live in Droitwich, England with my family. I’m a mum, a foster mum to disabled dogs and I’m super-pleased to have completed my Masters Degree in Creative Writing at Birmingham City University. I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Crime Writers’ Association and I was shortlisted for Innovation in Romantic Fiction by the Festival of Romance in 2012 and also the Lovestories Awards in 2015.
I have several novels previously published with a small Independent. The Rest of My Life, recommended by WH Smith Travel, is published with award winning Choc Lit.

How did you first come to be a writer?

I think I first started writing about the time I took leave of my senses. Seriously, writing has always been my passion, but I started writing actual books as a catharsis, in truth. As a single parent and nursing my mum through early onset Alzheimer’s Disease in my twenties, I needed an outlet. I’m the arty sort by nature but painting not being an option due to time constraints, I started scribbling my thoughts down. It turned out to be a real antidote, because I found I was reflecting on the humour and love in what would otherwise have been a sad situation. My bestselling debut, however… Um, well, it didn’t sell. I think the agent who’d hailed it as such went off in search of Prozac.

What is your book about?

The Rest of My Life is fundamentally a story about letting go, realising that the past can destroy the present and the future, if you let it. At the core is a deeply flawed man, a womaniser, who simply doesn’t like himself and challenges anyone else to. He needs to make peace with his past in order to move on with his life.

The question both Adam and the heroine, Sienna, have to ask themselves is: When is it time to stop running? The video I think sums it up nicely: https://youtu.be/7p319itbVKg

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

People inspire me. We all have a story to tell, conflicts to deal with, ghosts past that might haunt us. Adam simply appeared one day. I’m a keen boater and often pass neglected boats. I can’t help but wonder at their story. Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, there was Adam, fully formed, his mannerisms, his clothes – or lack of. A man living an apparently carefree, bachelor existence on a dilapidated boat. A shallow man at first glance. There was something more though, it was there in his eyes, the challenge to like him: a self-confessed womaniser seemingly hell bent on a road to destruction. I knew he didn’t like himself and wanted to know why. Having experience of caring for someone suffering a depressive illness, I couldn’t help thinking that that might be part of his story.

What is your writing routine?

My rituals are, coffee, emails, social media, tea & energy food, write, write, write, social media, energy food … Repeat. I do fit walking my odd dogs in there somewhere (to work off the energy food!). I write at a Georgian bureau tucked away in the dining room. It’s in serious need of renovation, but I simply can’t bear to. Every ink stain and chip has a story behind it. Annoyingly, those lightbulb ideas always come at awkward shower moments or in the wee hours though. Thus the many Post-it notes adorning its surface.

Energy food:Cupcake

What has your journey to publication been like?

Not one to give up easily, even having reduced an agent to despair, I took inspiration from having got that far and just kept at it, making sure to use every snippet of constructive criticism positively. I read voraciously – in the words of Stephen King: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write” – and made sure to get my work edited. I find a text to speech reader is really useful (you can enable this in later versions of MS Office. There’s an excellent ‘how to’ video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyP89pQWaBU ). Hearing your work read back really does help you spot superfluous narrative, clunky dialogue and those pesky typos.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just read ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ by Laura E James, the first book to be published under Choc Lit’s ‘Dark Choc Lit’ imprint. As the imprint suggests, the book does deal with some darker issues, but it’s written with huge sensitivity. The romance aspect is strong and you really want it to work out for the hero and heroine, though with a huge moral dilemma forcing them apart you wonder whether it can. I loved it.

If you were to be stranded on a desert island and could choose just one author’s books to read, who would you pick and why?

John Donoghue, without a doubt. My first book by this author was Police, Crime & 999 – The True Story of a Front Line Officer. At the time, I badly needed something uplifting after my partner’s cancer diagnosis and his undergoing various surgeries (he’s doing really well, by the way). You can probably guess then that the author had his work cut out. He succeeded! I laughed until I cried. His other books are equally hilarious.

Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?

Q: Happiness is?

A: Being true to yourself.

How can people connect with you on social media?

You can find me on any of the links below. I’d love to hear from you so do feel free to contact me. Thanks so much again for featuring me, Hayley. I really could not do this without fabulous readers and bookbloggers, who have cheered me all the way.

Author Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Buy | Buy US | Pinterest

Loveahappyending Lifestyle

Choc Lit | Romantic Novelists’ Association


About the Author

Heartache, humour, love, loss & betrayal, Sheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy, poignant fiction. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and shortlisted for the Best Romantic e-book Love Stories Award 2015, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies

Sheryl’s new contemporary romance novel was recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer. THE REST OF MY LIFE comes to you from award winning Choc Lit and is available in WHSmith Travel in April (on Amazon print pre-order now).

Sheryl’s latest thriller SINS OF THE FATHERS is coming soon!


About the Book

Cover - GOLD

“You can’t run away from commitment forever …”

Adam Hamilton-Shaw has more reason than most to avoid commitment. Living on a houseboat in the Severn Valley, his dream is to sail into the sunset – preferably with a woman waiting in every port. But lately, his life looks more like a road to destruction than an idyllic boat ride…

Would-be screenplay writer Sienna Meadows realises that everything about Adam spells trouble – but she can’t ignore the feeling that there is more to him than just his bad reputation. Nor can she ignore the intense physical attraction that exists between them.

And it just so happens that Adam sees Sienna as the kind of woman he could commit to. But can he change his damaging behaviour – or is the road to destruction a one-way street?


Exciting news!

The Rest of My Life has this week been nominated for the illustrious ‪#‎RONEAwards‬ in the Contemporary Steamy category! Voting is open now so if you’d like to show your support for Sheryl, please go to the Rone Awards page and vote for The Rest of My Life. Voting is open until 8 May so don’t wait too long to vote!

Review: Wonder Cruise by Ursula Bloom

Wonder Cruise by Ursula Bloom

A witty, heartwarming read with great romantic and comic characters. This warm, feel-good tale will make you smile, and you’ll be rooting for Ann to find lasting love and happiness. A moving portrait of an unforgettable 1930’s woman; Ann Clements will stay with you long after the last page. 

Ann Clements is thirty-five and single, and believes nothing exciting will ever happen to her. Then, she wins a large sum of money in a sweepstake and suddenly can dare to dream of a more adventurous life. She buys a ticket for a Mediterranean cruise, against the wishes of her stern brother, the Rev. Cuthbert, who has other ideas about how she should spend her windfall. Ann steps out of the shadows of her mundane life into the heat of the Mediterranean sun. Travelling to Gibraltar, Marseilles, Naples, Malta and Venice, Ann’s eyes are opened to people and experiences far removed from her sheltered existence in the offices at Henrietta Street, and Mrs. Puddock’s lodging house. As Ann blossoms, discovering love and passion for the very first time, the biggest question is, can there be any going back? 

I jumped at the chance to read this book when I was offered it for review, I’ll be honest that as soon as I saw the gorgeous cover I felt sure I would enjoy this novel, and I was absolutely right!

Wonder Cruise was written and set in the early 1930s and is a wonderful insight into the way life was for unmarried women in that era. Ann Clements is a 35 year old spinster who has a dull job as a typist, and is very much influenced by her brother, Cuthbert, who is a vicar. He keeps Ann on a tight rein and she never goes against what he says. Then one day her co-worker tells her that she has won some money in a sweepstake and Ann is left feeling very discombobulated. She agonises over what Cuthbert will say but then in a moment of spontaneity she books a mediterranean cruise – her boss encourages her to go and she does it on a whim. Despite Cuthbert’s thoughts on the matter Ann defies him and goes anyway!

This is a novel about one woman’s awakening to what is out there in the wider world. Ann has led a very sheltered, very dull life and suddenly her eyes are opened to new countries, new people and she begins to see what could be if she just lets go. Ann soon goes from feeling incredibly uncomfortable on the cruise and wondering if she’d made a huge mistake to gradually changing aspects of her look and beginning to fit in. Initially, she changes her hair because she is far too hot with her long hair pinned up on her head, but then she invests in a new wardrobe when it becomes obvious that her new wool tweed suit is not going to be practical in the mediterranean heat. Ann doesn’t just choose practical clothes though, she gets swept up in the shopping experience and for the first time in her life she buys pretty clothes.

Ann begins to attract the attention of some of the men on the cruise and gets swept up in the romance – she dances with one man, and she goes ashore with another man. It’s delightful to see how Ann changes as the novel goes on. She begins to dread the end of the cruise, almost wishing she’d never gone on it because now she has to go back to her drab life knowing what’s out there in the world. I found myself feeling quite sad at the thought of her going back to her miserable spinsterhood life and living under her brother’s control for the rest of her life. I couldn’t see how it would be any different but I was so hoping that it could be. I’m not going to give any spoilers but I loved the climax to this novel, for a while it went in a slightly different direction than I was expecting for a novel written in the 30s which was wonderful.

This novel is of its time in the sense that some of the opinions are a little outdated, and I’ll be very honest and admit that in the opening chapter I did wonder if this was going to be a very quaint and staid book and perhaps not my kind of thing, but from the moment Ann wins the money in the sweepstake I just got completely swept up in her adventure. Ann’s story does have a relevance to modern life in the sense that we should all follow our dreams, that it’s important to get out of our comfort zones and see what is out there in the wider world. There was so much more wit and humour than I was expecting throughout, and the book does have surprises in store. I enjoyed every page and didn’t want the book to end.

I rated Wonder Cruise 4.5 out of 5, it’s a delightfully charming novel, which I adored. I highly recommended it I can’t wait to read more of Ursula Bloom’s novels.

I received this book from Corazon Books via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Wonder Cruise is out now and available on Amazon.

I recently wrote a blog post to showcase this novel so if you’d like to know more about it, and the author Ursula Bloom please read my post here.

Q&A with Cara Sue Achterberg (author of Girls’ Weekend)

Today I’m delighted to welcome Cara Sue Achterberg to my blog. I’d like to take the time to wish Cara Sue a very happy publication day as her novel Girls’ Weekend is published today!

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

I’m a mom with two teens at home itching to get out and one in college who is always happy to come home. I’m also a foster mom for rescue dogs. Last year we helped save over 25 dogs! My husband says I’m using dogs to fill my almost empty nest. When I’m not writing, I love to grow things – veggies, fruit trees, chickens, and even a few flowers. Running, blogging, cooking, and trying not to fall off my horse, True, are a few of my other hobbies.

How did you first come to be a writer?

I morphed into being a full-time writer quietly, while no one was looking. I didn’t study writing in school because I was pretty certain I could never be a “writer” even though I filled journal after journal, wrote angsty poetry, and worked on the school paper. I finally embraced writing when I was forced to stay home to take care of three kids and run our little farm. But even then, I freelanced, and didn’t tell anybody about the novels I was writing during naptime.

What is your book about?

Girls’ Weekend is about three moms who go away for a girls’ weekend and decide they can’t return to their lives that don’t seem to fit any more.

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

Ha. My life. I wrote this book while my kids were napping because I wanted to run away from my underfunded, overcrowded life, but could only do that on paper.

What is your writing routine?

I spend my mornings doing research, blogging, promoting, and writing articles – I think of this as my nonfiction time. The afternoons are for fiction. I usually have 3 solid hours for this. I never thought I’d be able to write in the afternoons, but as it was my only uninterrupted time for so many years while kids’ napped, it’s become my preferred writing time, so I save it for fiction.

What has your journey to publication been like?

Long and winding. Because I didn’t study writing in college, I had to learn how to do everything (storytelling, editing, querying, promoting) the hard way. I now teach creative writing and I do think having had to figure it all out myself has made me a better teacher. I got my agent the hard way – hundreds of rejection letters later. But I got my fiction deal through a writing contest. I didn’t win, but one of the judges was a publisher who signed me to a three book deal.

What’s your favourite book that you’ve read this year?

At the Water’s Edge by Sarah Gruen. I just loved this book. The characters were so well drawn and it was such a different story. Plus Sarah Gruen is crazy talented. It also didn’t hurt that I read it on a beach while on holiday on Grand Cayman Island.

What are you reading at the moment?

The Known World by Edward P. Jones

Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?

Question: What’s it like to be a New York Times’ Bestseller?

Answer: I’ll get back to you on that.

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, which three things would you want to have with you and why?

Okay, assuming I can’t take any people or animals, I’d want a case of red wine, a journal and pen. I know I wouldn’t survive long, so I’d like to spend that time writing my magnum opus and letters to loved ones. While I was doing that, I’d drink the wine and fill the empty bottles with messages to send out to sea.

How can people connect with you on social media?

Ooooooh – I love to connect on twitter (@CaraAchterberg) or Facebook (Facebook.com/carasueachterberg). I have Linked In, Pinterest, and even Tumblr accounts, but I struggle to keep up with those, so I’m a little slower to react through those sites. And I have to mention my “dog blog” (AnotherGoodDog.wordpress.com) because I meet a lot of great people through that blog.


About the Book

Girls' Weekend cover

Dani, Meg, and Charlotte have bonded over babies, barbeques, and backyards, but when they escape for a girls weekend away, they can’t bring themselves to return to lives that don’t seem to fit anymore.

Harried Dani can’t explain why she feels so discontented until she meets a young gallery owner who inspires her to rediscover the art that once made her happy.

Dependable Meg faces up to a grief that threatens to swallow her whole and confronts a marriage built on expectations.

Flamboyant Charlotte, frustrated with her stagnated life and marriage, pursues a playboy Irish singer and beachside business opportunities.

All three of these women thought they would be different. None of them thought they’d be facing down forty and still wondering when life starts. What they do when they realize where they’re headed is both inspiring and wildly entertaining.

GIRLS’ WEEKEND is a fun, yet poignant romp through the universal search for who we are, why we love, and what makes us happy.

 


 

About the Author

Cara Sue Achterberg

Cara Sue Achterberg is a writer and blogger who lives in New Freedom, PA with her family and an embarrassing number of animals. Her first novel, I’m Not Her, was a Nook and ibooks bestseller. Cara’s nonfiction book, Live Intentionally, is a guide to the organic life filled with ideas, recipes, and inspiration for living a more intentional life. Cara is a prolific blogger, occasional cowgirl, and busy mom whose essays and articles have been published in numerous anthologies, magazines, and websites. Links to her blogs, news about upcoming publications, and pictures of her foster dogs can be found at CaraWrites.com.

The winners of my Rose’s Vintage giveaway are…

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Thank you to all of you who entered my giveaway for one of three e-copies of Rose’s Vintage by Kayte Nunn. I have just picked the three winner on Rafflecopter and the lucky winners are:

Karl Borowy

Rhonda Lomazow

Suzanne Smith

Thank you again to Black Inc Books for offering the prizes and congratulations to all three winners!

Review: The Second Love of My Life by Victoria Walters

the second love of my life

In the small Cornish town of Talting, everyone is known for something.

Up to the age of twenty-four, artist Rose Walker was known for lots of things: her infectious positivity; her unique artistic talent; her second-to-none cookery skills; and, of course, her devotion to childhood sweetheart and husband Lucas.

But, two years ago, all of that changed in one, unthinkable moment. Now, Rose is known for being a young woman who became a widow aged just twenty-four.

Rose knows that life must – should – go on. But the prospect of trying to carve out a future for herself is one she can still barely entertain. Until a newcomer, Robert Green, arrives in Talting for the summer…

Can Rose allow herself the chance to love again?

I knew from the second I started reading this book that I was going to love it, and I was proved to be absolutely right. This is such a beautiful novel about love, grief and second chances.

I loved Rose from the start of this novel, she just felt like a real person to me. I could feel her pain, her  sadness and her desire to honour Lucas, but also her will to live life. I think a lot of people will identify quite strongly with her. She has been through a lot in her life and even if you haven’t been through the same things, the way she feels and approaches things is so believable and true to life.

I loved how this book is in large part also about the families that we create for ourselves, how you may have lost your family, or you may not have a good relationship with them but so often other people come into your life who become your family. Rose’s relationship with Lucas’s parents, particularly his mother, seemed so spot-on, and I was willing them to be able to remain family to each other as Rose’s life began to change. Rose’s relationship with Emma’s mother was also lovely, we don’t see much of them together in the book but the closeness is referred to quite a few times.

I really liked how the town of Talting enveloped the characters in this book, and that in a way it became a character in its own right. I could picture the place so vividly that I began to feel like I’d actually been there. The warmth of the people and place was just wonderful.

I cried so many times reading this book. All the sections where Rose talks about losing her mum just broke my heart because I’ve been there too and Victoria Walters just got those feelings exactly right. I’ve always felt that since losing my mum all the difficult times in my life have been more difficult because I didn’t have my mum to turn to and that’s how it was for Rose, it’s sadly how it is for everyone who has had a good relationship with their parent.

I really enjoyed reading Emma and John’s story too. I’d previously read the short story prequel to this novel called The Summer I Met You and fell in love with this couple then so I was really pleased to find that they feature quite a lot through The Second Love of My Life. It was lovely to see how close Emma and Rose were, and how they remained such good friends throughout everything they each go through.

It’s beautiful how Lucas’ presence is felt throughout this whole novel even though he’d actually died before the point where the book began. We really get to understand how Rose and Lucas’ relationship worked and just how happy they had been together. Rose’s grief for him felt so real and so believable, and I so often wanted to give her a hug, but the book is never maudlin. We feel Rose’s pain but we fall in love with her character so much that we want her to move on we want her to find love and true happiness again. Victoria Walters has spanned this novel over a few years and it allows us to see the progression of Rose’s healing process in such a way that you cant help but feel joy when she starts to feel like she can move on.

There is sadness and grief in this novel but there are also so many moments that made me smile and some moments that made me properly laugh out loud. I think I went through the whole range of emotions while reading this novel, it is just completely and utterly wonderful. I think this novel will become my new comfort read, the book that I turn to when I need a pick me up!

I rated this novel 5 out of 5 and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a gorgeous novel that will make you laugh and cry, but it will ultimately leave you feeling warm and fuzzy and very, very happy! I can’t wait to see what Victoria Walters writes next.

The Second Love of My Life is out now and available from all good bookshops.

I received this book from Net Galley via Headline in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Boy on the Bus by Katey Lovell

The Boy on the Bus (Meet Cute) by Katey Lovell

I had another bad day earlier this week when I couldn’t concentrate to read but I needed something to cheer me up and then I remembered that I had a new Meet Cute story on my Kindle and I knew this would be the perfect time to read it. This series has never failed to put a smile on my face so I had high hopes that this would at least give me a distraction and might brighten my day a little. It actually brightened my day quite a lot because I loved this story so much!

This story is told over several days, and I loved how we got little snippets of Lucy’s bus journey over the course of this particular week. Each day we get a snippet of Lucy being on the same bus that she gets every day, and we see her watching the gorgeous boy who also get this bus every day. She is desperate to find out more about him as she doesn’t even know his name but she can’t seem to pluck up the courage to speak to him.

I adored this story from the very first paragraph. I could feel the chemistry that was building for Lucy over this boy as she daydreams about him each day. It reminded me of being back at school when you have a crush on a boy and would so badly want to speak to him but you just can’t, and on the days when he didn’t turn up at school it felt like the end of the world. I felt like I was right there with Lucy, I could feel her heart sink on the day he didn’t get on the bus and could feel how her heart would leap into her mouth on the days when he did. Katey has captured these emotions so well and gave it an intensity that I could feel it emanating from the page, I was willing Lucy on to speak to this boy.

This story properly left me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, I completely fell in love with it and have to say that I think it has become my joint favourite of this series along with The Boy at the Beach. I’ve loved all the stories in the Meet Cute series but these two are my favourites because I could so identify with them, and the stories build so perfectly!

I rated this story five out of five and can’t recommend it highly enough.  This story will not fail to make you feel better, it’s like a giant hug in story form it will put a great big grin on your face. Go download The Boy on the Bus right now, I promise you won’t regret it!

I have previously reviewed four others of the make use stories on my blog you can find them on the following links:

The Boy in the Bookshop

The Boy at the Beach

The Boy Under the Mistletoe

The Boy with the Boxes

Review: The Boy with the Boxes by Katey Lovell

The boy with the boxes by katey lovell

Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while will know already how much I adore the Meet Cute series of stories. I was so excited last week when not one but two more of these stories were published on the very same day and there was no way that I was going to be able to hold off reading them for long!

Rosie is moving into a new flat having recently moved out of the place she shared with her friend Carmen during three years at university. Carmen has now moved to Australia and Roses feel a little bit uncertain about life as she moves into this new flat on her own. Unbeknown to her she is about to meet a gorgeous new man who may be just what she needs to give her life a bit of excitement again!

The very first paragraph in this story had me laughing to myself in a wry sort of way. Reading about Rosie moving into her new flat and realising she had more wineglasses than friends really struck a chord with me. Then reading about her wishing she’d decluttered more and also packed her stuff in smaller boxes so they weighted less – it just reminded me so much of when I first moved in with my now husband. I did get rid of half of my books before I moved in with him but I still had literally thousands that I couldn’t part with and I packed them into whatever boxes I could find and most were quite big. His apartment was on the second floor and there was no lift so I knew right there and then how much he loved me when he carried box after box after box of these books up all those stairs without complaining and he isn’t even a reader!

The love interest in this story, Connor,  seems to ooze sex appeal from his accent to the clothes that he is wearing so I can see how he immediately caught Rosie’s eye! There isn’t such a build up of chemistry between Rosie and Connor as they don’t meet until halfway through the story but when they first catch sight of each other there is an instant, sizzling sort of chemistry, which is fab. You just know these two are going to have lots of fun together.

I rated this short story 4.5 out of 5 and highly recommend it. All of the books in the meet cute series are fab five-ten minute reads and are the perfect pick-me-ups for those times when you just need a bit of escapism or your day needs brightening up.

The Boy with the Boxes is out now and available from Amazon.

I have previously reviewed three other Meet Cute stories on my blog and you can find them on the following links:

The Boy in the Bookshop

The Boy at the Beach

The Boy Under the Mistletoe

Q&A with Kayte Nunn, author of Rose’s Vintage plus book #giveaway!

 

Today I’m very happy to be able to share an interview that I recently did with Kayte Nunn, author of Rose’s Vintage. Today is publication day for Rose’s Vintage so I’d like to wish Kayte a very happy publication day and wish her lots of luck with the book! To celebrate publication day, Kayte’s publisher have very kindly offered three ebook copies of Rose’s Vintage for me to give away so please read to the end of this post and be sure to enter!

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

I’m a forty-something Englishwoman who has lived in Australia for the past 20 years. I’m a wife, mother and writer, not necessarily in that order. Love to bake, hate to clean. 

How did you first come to be a writer?

Without really realising it, I’ve written most of my life – my aunt recently told me that when I was quite little and she was visiting, I was writing short stories. I wrote terrible poetry and angst-ridden diaries when I was a teenager, and then did a degree in English and Publishing because I loved books and writing so much. I ended up working in magazines because I wanted to write features, and have done that for the past 15 or so years, as both a writer and editor. Despite a secret dream to be a novelist I never had the confidence in my ability to do so – I thought it was something other people did, not me.

But, about three years ago, a break between freelance projects and a case of the ‘now or nevers’ saw me knuckle down and try to write fiction. I started with a few short stories and sent them off to a couple of competitions and made the shortlists, and I found that I loved the way writing made me feel. 

What is your book about?

It’s the story of Rose, a young English chef, who takes a job as an au pair in an Australian wine region, also agreeing to spy on her boss for her brother. When she arrives there in the middle of winter, she finds that it’s far from the lush, romantic vineyard setting she’d imagined, her new boss is largely absent and leaves her to her own devices. All she wants to do is find out what she needs to for her brother and then get out of there and go somewhere warmer… of course, she doesn’t leave straight away…  

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

The inspiration for Rose’s Vintage came as I was sitting in a café in Bondi on a grey winter’s day. I began to imagine what it would be like to arrive in Australia and find that it was nothing like you’d imagined. Having worked as editor of Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine for quite a few years I had met so many wonderful winemakers, visited some beautiful wine regions and loved the close-knit communities that exist in there. It seemed obvious to set the book in a fictional wine region that reflected those qualities.

What is your writing routine?

I wish I had one! I’ve two terrifyingly sporty girls and so I spend a lot of time ferrying them around, lugging my laptop with me to sports practice, swim sessions… luckily after years in a busy magazine office, I can write no matter what the noise going on around me. On an ideal day, I drop them at school, go for a walk or a run, then sit down at home and write from about 10.30-3pm before shooting off to pick my youngest daughter up from school. Funnily enough, the hour between 2- and 3pm is my most productive!

What has your journey to publication been like?

It took me about a year to write Rose’s Vintage (I was also working as a freelance non-fiction writer and editor). When I finished, I began querying agents and publishers. Several asked for the complete mss. I got my fair share of rejections, but then my current agent rang me and asked for a month to read it exclusively. At the end of the month, she rang and we had a long chat about what needed to change, I took notes and then went away and spent a couple of months on revisions. I sent it back to her and she was happy with what I’d done and began sending it to publishers who she thought likely to be interested. Several replied saying it appealed to them but that it was too similar to other authors already in their stable. One publisher really liked it but asked for quite substantial revisions, which I did, but then Black Inc, which had also seen a copy of this revised mss. loved it and made an offer for it, and also for a second book with the same setting that I was by this time three-quarters of the way through.

What’s your favourite book that you’ve read this year?

Oh gosh, that’s hard – there are some terrific books out at the moment and I’ve been reading up a storm! Favel Parrett’s Past the Shallows is heart-breaking and beautifully lyrical; The Light Between Oceans by ML Steadman made me sob; Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers was especially memorable.

What are you reading at the moment?

The Observations by Jane Harris. It’s a historical novel set in 1863. I’m now working on a historical novel of my own, part of which is set in the 1880s, so I’m reading other books set at a similar time, both for research and enjoyment.

Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?

Do you like to read your own work once it’s in book form?

Absolutely not! When I received my author’s copies of Rose’s Vintage I opened one up and felt quite ill – it was all too real and there is so much of me on those pages that my little introverted soul was terrified!

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, which three things would you want to have with you and why?

A copy of Anne of Green Gables – my favourite book and still a comfort read.

A laptop that never ran out of charge so I could write.

Enough food – you can’t write on an empty stomach!

How can people connect with you on social media?

Twitter: @KayteNunn

Facebook: Kayte Nunn

Goodreads: Rose’s Vintage

Website: www.kaytenunn.com


About the Author:

Kayte portrait 1

Kayte Nunn is a freelance book, magazine and web editor and writer with more than 20 years’ publishing experience and is the former editor of Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine. She is also a mother to two girls and when not writing, reading or ferrying her daughters around she can be found in the kitchen, procrasti-baking.

Rose’s Vintage is her first novel.

 


 

About the book:

Rose's Vintage (online)-2

British blow-in, Rose Bennett, is heartbroken, overweight, irritable and a long way from home. She isn’t sure what exactly she’s doing at Kalkari Wines in the Australian Shingle Valley – it’s the middle of winter and far from the lush, romantic vineyard setting she’d been expecting.

Her brother thinks she’s spying for him, her bad-tempered new boss thinks she’s the au pair and the nanny can’t wait for her to clean the place up.

Discovering pagan bonfire ceremonies, bizarre winemaking practices and a valley full of eccentric locals, Rose just wishes she’d ended up somewhere a bit warmer.

But as the weather improves, the valley reveals its beauty, and Rose starts to fall in love: with the valley, the wines, the two children she’s helping to look after, and one of the men there.

When her boss’s estranged wife returns and her brother descends, wanting answers, Rose is torn between staying put or cutting her losses.


 

Giveaway!

Rose's Vintage (online)-2

 

Kayte Nunn’s publisher BlackIncBooks  has very kindly offered me three ebook copies of Rose’s Vintage to give away! So please click on the link below to be taken to the giveaway page for your chance to win one of the three copies:

Rose’s Vintage international giveaway!

Wonder Cruise by Ursula Bloom

Wonder Cruise by Ursula Bloom

Today is publication day for Wonder Cruise by Ursula Bloom and I wanted to take the time to tell you about this wonderful book. I’m currently reading it and am very much enjoying it, my review will be up once I’ve finished it. In the meantime, please read on to find out more about Wonder Cruise.


About the book:

Wonder Cruise by Ursula Bloom

A witty, heartwarming read with great romantic and comic characters. This warm, feel-good tale will make you smile, and you’ll be rooting for Ann to find lasting love and happiness. A moving portrait of an unforgettable 1930’s woman; Ann Clements will stay with you long after the last page.

Ann Clements is thirty-five and single, and believes nothing exciting will ever happen to her. Then, she wins a large sum of money in a sweepstake and suddenly can dare to dream of a more adventurous life. She buys a ticket for a Mediterranean cruise, against the wishes of her stern brother, the Rev. Cuthbert, who has other ideas about how she should spend her windfall. Ann steps out of the shadows of her mundane life into the heat of the Mediterranean sun. Travelling to Gibraltar, Marseilles, Naples, Malta and Venice, Ann’s eyes are opened to people and experiences far removed from her sheltered existence in the offices at Henrietta Street, and Mrs. Puddock’s lodging house. As Ann blossoms, discovering love and passion for the very first time, the biggest question is, can there be any going back?


About the Author:

Ursula-Bloom-by-Baron-1-222x300

Ursula Bloom was one of the most popular bestselling authors of the twentieth century. She wrote over 560 books, a feat which earned her a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for many years, as the world’s most prolific female writer. She also wrote short stories, radio and stage plays, and worked as a Fleet Street journalist.

During her long career, as well as writing books under her own name, Ursula used the pen names Sheila Burns, Rachel Harvey, Lozania Prole, Mary Essex and Deborah Mann.

Ursula Bloom died, aged 91, on 29th October, 1984, in Winton Nursing Home, Nether Wallop, Hampshire.

You can find out more about Ursula Bloom here.


More of Ursula Bloom’s works are to be re-issued by Corazon Books, you can find out more about them here.

Wonder Cruise is out today and available to buy from Amazon on the following links:

Buy Wonder Cruise on Amazon UK

Buy Wonder Cruise on Amazon.com

Buy Wonder Cruise on Amazon AUS

Review: Dear Dad by Giselle Green

dear dad by giselle green

I was thrilled when I was recently offered the chance to review this book as I have read and enjoyed previous books by Gisele Green. I knew from the synopsis that this was going to be a really good read but I didn’t anticipate it being quite as incredible as it was or quite so heartwarming.

Adam is a nine-year-old boy who doesn’t have the easiest of lives. He lives with his elderly Nan, who is unable to take care of him – in fact, Adam is taking care of her on his own and as a result is neglected. He is also being bullied at school but has nobody to help them.  One day his nan tells him who his father is so Adam decides to write him a letter thinking that this could be the answer to all of his problems.

Nate is a war reporter who is suffering from PTSD. He has been unable to leave his house for weeks and as a result his life is beginning to fall apart, his job is at risk and as a result so his his home. He doesn’t know where to turn, he doesn’t know how to make it better and he is ashamed to tell anyone he knows what he is going through. Then one day he receives a letter in a child’s handwriting and when he opens it he discovers that the letter is from a boy, Adam, who believes that Nate is his father. Nate is certain that this boy is not his child and feels that he must at least let the boy know that he has the wrong person.

Jenna is a talented tattoo artist who has just returned to the UK following a break up with her fiance. She needs to find a job as soon as possible in order to be able to sign a lease on a flat and while it’s not what she really wants she ends up taking a job as a substitute teacher. On Jenna’s first day at her new school she sees Adam being bullied and steps in, she is immediately concerned about the boy.

The lives of all the three become increasingly intwined from this point on as both Nate and Jenna do their best to help Adam.

The thing that all three of these characters have in common right from the start was that they all had a tendency to run away from their problems: Adam was covering up his neglectful home life and would often run away in the night just to think, Jenna was literally running away from a broken relationship, and Nate was metaphorically running away in the sense that he couldn’t face up to his PTSD.  I think they sensed their similarities in each other and that desire they all had to find a better life, which is why they all bonded so quickly.  Jenna, as Adam’s teacher, has a duty of care to Adam but she soon goes above and beyond to try and help him, and Nate has no duty at all tot he boy but he can’t help but feel for him and wants to try and help him.

I have to commend Gisele on her the way she portrays PTSD in this novel. So often when a novel has a character with this  condition something will happen (e.g. they will fall in love) and the PTSD just miraculously disappears and this makes me so mad. I have personal experience of PTSD and it’s not something that just suddenly goes away but sometimes having someone in your life that gives you encouragement to get better, who understands and supports you, can be the thing that you need to start making changes, and this is what happened with Nate.  His anxiety gradually lessens as the novel goes on but it’s apparent that it’s still there and he’s just learning to control it better. It’s very refreshing to see anxiety being dealt with in this way.

This is such a wonderful novel that is ultimately all about how sometimes the right people will come into your life at the right time and they will make such a difference. It’s about how your problems won’t go away just because you’ve found someone to love you but it might give you the impetus to work on your issues and to leave your past behind you.

I rated Dear Dad five out of five out of five and can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s such a beautiful and heartwarming novel, and one not to be missed!

Dear dad is out now and available from Amazon.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Q&A with Sherry Mayes (author of Stop the World)

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Today I’m happy to be able to share an interview I got to do with Sherry Mayes, author of Stop the World. I’ll be reading and reviewing Stop the World soon so look out for that post on my blog.

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

I live in a lovely village called Caversham in Berkshire a few minutes from the river Thames which is the perfect setting for a writer. I have a sixteen year old daughter and have worked as a journalist on national newspapers for nearly twenty years and have written two self-help books. 

How did you first come to be a writer?

I first worked on newspapers and magazines writing human interest stories when I was in my mid-twenties. I’ve always loved writing and researching anything I’m curious about, and I think the two go hand in hand.  

What is your book about?

 Stop the Word, is a YA, coming of age story about a 17 year old vain pageant queen who ends up crashing her new car and ending up in a wheelchair. You might say she learns about what is really important to her. 

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

 I interviewed a young teen nine years ago about a car crash and how she ended up in a wheelchair nine years ago, and her story always stuck in my mind. I wanted to explore what someone would go through in that scenario and how it could make you think differently about things. 

What is your writing routine? 

I go where the inspiration takes me, so I have no real routine – it’s more like a compulsion; whether that’s jumping out of bed at 6 am to write or staying up half the night to get my words down.

What has your journey to publication been like?

It’s been tough. I got a literary agent for the book who loved in back in Feb 2015 last year but she couldn’t sell it even though she tried very hard. So I ended up self-publishing in December 2015.  

What’s your favourite book that you’ve read this year?

 This year it has to be, ‘I let you go,’ by Clare Mackintosh. A great riveting emotional thriller. 

What are you reading at the moment?

 I am about to start reading ‘The Light Between Oceans,’ by M.L. Stedman

Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?

What’s your two favourite characters in a novel that you would like to invite for dinner and mine would have to be, Scarlett O’Hara and Alice in Wonderland. Can you imagine what a riveting conversation we’d have. 

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, which three things would you want to have with you and why?

Well I’d have to be self-sufficient, so I’d need a sharp knife for cutting out fish guts etc, a loaded gun in case I met any cannibals or wild animals, and an Ipod with all my music on it.  

How can people connect with you on social media?

 You can connect with me on my facebook page for Stop the World: https://www.facebook.com/SherryMayesauthor/

And twitter: @authormayes which shows me as S.D.Mayes


 

About the Book:

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Published on December 9th, 2015, Stop the World is a poignant, ultimately uplifting, coming-of-age story about self-acceptance and making the most of what life has to offer, whichever form it takes. 

Beauty Queen, Jody Angel Taylor believes her life is all mapped out – glamorous, clever and popular, and due to marry her handsome boyfriend, she has it all. Until one night she has a devastating car crash, ending up paralyzed – and her perfect world collapses.  

Committing media suicide and publicly blamed for her own accident, everything around her falls apart. She becomes a lonely recluse, feeling she’s lost everything including her legs – her boyfriend to her best friend, her father to an affair, her mother to depression – but above all she fears losing her mind. 

What she doesn’t know is that someone across the globe is about to throw her a lifeline. Can she find the courage to take it?  

Determined to love again and clear her name, she embarks on a new adventure that will transform her life beyond all expectations.

You can buy Stop The World here: 

http://www.amazon.com/Stop-World-compelling-absolutely-unputdownable-ebook/dp/B019BOXL8S


 

About the Author:

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British journalist and author, Sherry Mayes, took her inspiration for this story from a real life case study she wrote about several years ago for a popular UK magazine (article available) revealing the often comic/tragic events of disability through a young woman’s eyes. As part of her research before interviewing the young woman, Sherry learnt a lot about hospital procedure and rehab as well as researching many other casualties who’d become paralysed through accidents, reading their blogs. 

She chose to set the novel in a small Californian town as she wanted the protagonist – a spoilt, only child of successful parents – to be a typical teenage pageant queen who aspires to live the big American dream, where celebrity and the body beauty myth are paramount, and everything is shared on social media. This is about the transformation of the so called ‘ultimate ideal’ – ‘a teen of our times’, obsessed with fame and looks, who then loses it all to discover what really matters.   

Sherry Mayes has worked as a journalist for nearly twenty years for national newspapers and magazines on human interest and health stories, most predominantly for the Daily Mail. She wrote two successful self-help books, BE YOUR OWN PSYCHIC and SUPERNATURAL LOVER published with Hodder & Stoughton, serialised by The Mail. She is also the proud mother of a 16-year-old daughter who is an avid book reader.

 

‘Get Reading’ a newspaper interview, published on December 17th reveals the back story behind Stop the World, along with an extract from the first chapter. www.getreading.co.uk

 

Review: The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

It’s summer, and for teachers Ed and Natalie Steele this means six weeks off work with their young daughter Molly. Their lives are predictable and uncomplicated — or at least they were until they meet the Faulkners.

Suddenly, glamorous Lara Faulkner, a former actress leading an eccentrically lavish lifestyle, is taking Natalie under her wing and the stability of summer takes an exciting turn. 

But are there hidden motives behind this new friendship? And when the end-of-summer party at the lido is cut short by a blackout, Natalie realizes that she’s been kept in the dark all along.

This novel has such a stunning cover that immediately made me want to pick it up and start reading, and once I started this book I didn’t want to put it down! 

Natalie and Ed are happily married with a teenage daughter, Molly. They have a quiet, steady life and have fallen into an easy rhythm within their family unit whereby their lives run very smoothly. The couple are a bit too earnest at times and while this grated on me a bit in the beginning, I came to understand that it was important for the story that the reader really understands how Ed and Natalie view things. Natalie, in particular, is influenced by her good friend’s opinion of her and has often turned to her for advice over the years. Natalie is a very over-protective mum and seems to need reassurance and guidance from her long-standing friend. Molly is aquaphobic after an incident in a pool when she was younger but Natalie seems to have a tight rein on her daughter at all times, not just when she is around water.

One hot summer the local lido re-opens thanks to a campaign by the glamorous Lara Faulkner and Natalie immediately feels drawn to her. The two quickly become friends and Natalie soon begins to imitate Lara and to lose all sense of herself. She spends more and more time at the Lido with her new friend and basks in the attention she gets from being there with Lara. Her relationship with Ed begins to show strain but by this point Natalie is too intoxicated by Lara to care too much.

The stifling atmosphere in the book as the heat rises is so well written. I was reading this book on a cold, dark and rainy day but I could sense the heat emanating from the pages! It gave this book such a claustrophobic feel, and made for a great catalyst for Natalie to temporarily lose who she really was.

There is a simmering tension running throughout this book. The novel goes to and fro in time, mainly throughout the course of one summer in the present day, which really adds to this building sense of foreboding as we gradually learn more about Natalie and her past. I loved how the strands of time built up to form a picture of what led these characters to where they ended up. There are a few chapters mixed in from another hot summer in 1985 when Natalie was a teenager and we slowly learn about what she and her then best friend got up to. It gives a real insight into how Natalie came to be the person she is as an adult and perhaps as to why she is so protective of her daughter. There is tension in these flashback chapters as you wonder how much it relates to the present day; it is apparent to the reader quite early on in this novel that there are secrets being kept by more than one person and that things are slowly building to a big conclusion. The final acts of this novel are so good, and while not everything that happened was a shock to me, it was all so well done that I was still on the edge of my seat.

I rated this novel 4.5 out of 5 and highly recommend it. This book will make a perfect beach read – just make sure you start it when you have an empty day ahead of you as once started you will struggle to put it down!

The Swimming Pool is due to be published on 5th May 2016 in the UK.

I received a copy of The Swimming Pool from LoveReading in exchange for an honest review. (The review seen here is a longer version of the one I submitted to LoveReading).

Q&A with Jannie Lund (author of Vintage Dreams)

 

Today I’m very happy to welcome Jannie Lund, author of Vintage Dreams to my blog.

Hi Jannie, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m 32 years old and from Denmark, where I’ve lived most of my life except for a brief stint in Ireland. I’m an introvert with a capital I, which reflects in the things I like to spend my time on—writing, reading, photography, running, various crafts like crochet and scrapbooking. I’m in no way a people person. Well, unless I can write them a letter or e-mail.  

How did you first come to be a writer?

I’ve pretty much always been writing, but it wasn’t until I was studying history at university that I realized that I wanted to make a real go of a writing career. I started out dreaming of writing historical fiction, wanting to communicate history that way. And I may yet, but so far my focus has been on romance. I had my first short story published in 2008. 

What is your book about?

My latest book, Vintage Dreams, is about a lady with a temper who doesn’t like the dashing stranger who’s in town to take away the dream she’s worked hard to have come true. And who can blame her? But the dashing stranger has a job to do—and a tragic past. Sparks fly from the moment they meet. 

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

Everywhere. And I know that sounds vague, but it’s true. I see something, hear something, smell something, feel something—and then I twist it, ask “what if” a lot, and end up with something I can’t quite explain where came from because it’s so far from what originally inspired it. 

What is your writing routine?

I don’t really have much of a routine. When I’m writing a book, I just try to cram in as much writing time as possible. I have a daily word goal of one thousand words, but I often double or triple it. I need music when I write, though. I guess that’s the only set routine I have.  

What is your favourite book?

It’s impossible to narrow it down to just one. Or two. I’m not even sure I could narrow it down to five. Can I cheat and make a small list instead? Morgans Run by Colleen McCullough is at the top. It’s epic. Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth and Jan Guillou’s Crusades trilogy have been on my list of favorites for a long time, too. More recent additions include Tanya Anne Crosby’s Highland Fire and Katherine Lowry Logan’s The Ruby Brooch. And then finally, there are my go-to authors whose work I’ll devour over and over again—M.A. Stacie, Nora Roberts, and Ava Miles. That is probably narrowing it down as much as I can. Oh, and Tennyson. I can’t forget him. His poetry gives me chills in all the good ways.   

What are you reading at the moment?

I am currently reading The Picts: A History by Tim Clarkson. I seem to be in a bit of a Scottish phase at the moment and have been reading about lots of highlanders, kilts, and blue war paint. I usually like to mix up fiction and non-fiction and read more than one book at the time, but at the moment I’m mainly researching a future project. 

Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?

Oh dear. Well, I suppose I wish someone had asked me early on why I’m Danish and mainly writing in English. And that’s because peaceful, little Denmark is murder-mystery country as far as literature (as well as movies and TV-series) is concerned. And obviously that’s not me—I don’t read them and I certainly don’t write them. The few romance imprints that are starting to pop focus on established, foreign authors. So I’m taking the long way around—the scenic and very, very enjoyable route.  

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, which three things would you want to have with you and why?

Tennyson’s collected works, some sort of device that can make freshwater out of saltwater, and a hammock. The first to keep me from losing my mind, the second for survival, and the third for comfort. 

How can people connect with you on social media?

Twitter: @JannieLund

Facebook: Jannie Lund Writer

Pinterest: Jannie Lund

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/109091049517720692953/posts

Blog: JannieLund.com (You can sign up to Jannie’s mailing list via this link if you’d like to)

 

Book Synopsis

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Scott Sullivan has been sent on a not all together pleasant trip down memory lane to secure a location for a client. Sure, it may take some charm and convincing to get the owners to sell, but he’s up for the task. And then he’s getting the hell out of dodge to escape the memories. In and out, quick and painless, that’s the plan. He just hadn’t counted on running into a fiery and stunning obstacle with gold flecks in her eyes. 

Danielle Harris has worked hard to make her dream come true. With her best friend, she owns a boutique where she sells the vintage style dresses she designs. When a city lawyer comes along and tries to ruin everything, her Italian temper flares. 

With Scott trying to conduct a business deal and Danielle fighting for her dream, sparks fly. Not least sparks of attraction and perhaps love. It’s clear that one of them needs to give in, but the feelings of resistance are deep-rooted in them both.

 

Vintage Dreams is out now and available from Amazon as both an ebook and a print book. Click here to be taken to the book’s page.


 

About the author

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Jannie started writing because she couldn’t help herself. She needed to get some of the many stories trapped inside her head out. That was her excuse then, and it’s her excuse now. A mixture of a healthy imagination and difficulties getting the words out of her mouth made writing her outlet, and since 2008 she’s been fortunate enough to publish some of the many words she types.

When she’s not writing–or thinking about writing, which takes up most hours of the day–she manages to squeeze in some running, photography, and various creative pastimes.

 


 

 

Review: The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

When Amber Green, a shop assistant in an exclusive London boutique is plucked from obscurity and mistakenly offered a job working with Mona Armstrong, the infamous, jet-setting ‘stylist to the stars’, she hits the ground running, helping to style some of Hollywood’s hottest (and craziest) starlets.

As awards season spins into action Mona is in hot demand and Amber’s life turned upside down. Suddenly she catching the attention of two very different suitors, TV producer Rob and Hollywood bad boy rising star Liam. How will Amber keep her head? And what the hell will everyone wear?

The cover of The Stylist is gorgeous and is what initially caught me eye, and then once I’d read the synopsis I knew I had to read this book. I have absolutely no idea about fashion but this book just called to me!

Amber Green is working in a boutique in London and is coasting along in life until one day she attracts the attention of stylist Mona Armstrong and before she knows it she is being whisked away to LA to style the stars during awards season! Amber has to hit the ground running and hope she can keep it together so that no one realises that she really doesn’t know what she’s doing.

This novel reminded me a little of the Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series with the ditzy, but lovable, character who stumbles into one situation after another which is beyond her capabilities but then manages to turn it around in the nick of time. Amber Green is a great character; she was completely out of her depth as a stylist but somehow managed to make it work for the most part. 

I have to be honest and say that while I loved the first part of the book, it did begin to drag a little in the middle as Amber lurched from one drama to another. I really wanted to see her grow into this new role and that didn’t really happen; it felt like when she did do something well it was by chance rather than her knowing what to do. I wish we could have seen her develop a little more but having said that I couldn’t help but like her and I never stopped willing her on to succeed.

All-in-all I did enjoy this novel. The Stylist is one of those great pick-me-up reads that won’t fail to make you smile and so I would recommend it.

I rated it 3.5 out of 5.

I received a copy of The Stylist from Mira UK via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

The Stylist is out now and available from all good book shops.

Review: Time to say Goodbye by S. D. Robertson

Time To Say Goodbye

Is there ever a right time to let go?

HOW DO YOU LEAVE THE PERSON YOU LOVE THE MOST?

Will Curtis’s six-year-old daughter, Ella, knows her father will never leave her. After all, he promised her so when her mother died. And he’s going to do everything he can to keep his word.

What Will doesn’t know is that the promise he made to his little girl might be harder to keep than he imagined. When he’s faced with an impossible decision, Will finds that the most obvious choice might not be the right one.

But the future is full of unexpected surprises. And father and daughter are about to embark on an unforgettable journey together . . . 

The synopsis for Time to Say Goodbye doesn’t give much away about the plot at all but from tweets that I’d seen I had my suspicions about what the book might be about and I was right. In a nutshell this is a novel about a man who has promised his young daughter that he will never leave her. Ella has already lost her mum and so this promise is incredibly important but sadly promises are sometimes broken despite our best efforts.

Will has no choice in the end about leaving Ella because he is killed in a road accident. He finds himself outside of his body and he knows he simply has to find a way to get through to his little girl, to comfort her. The problem is whether this is going to be a good thing for Ella in the long run, or should she be left to adjust to life without her dad.

I love the premise of this book, I seem to be quite drawn to novels like this and have read a few now that are in a similar vein. I really wanted to fall in love with these characters and their stories but it just lacked a little something for me. I was expecting this book to be a real tear-jerker but, while there are moments that are incredibly emotional, it didn’t quite get there for me. I did love Ella and Will but I wanted to be focused on them and it felt like there were just a few too many elements to the sub-plots that kept me away from the main story for too long, and this stopped the emotional connection that I wanted to have with Ella and Will.

Having said that, there are some very moving moments throughout the novel. I adored the moment when Will finds Ella in a dream, it was such a special scene and really did get to me. I treasure the dreams I have of my late mum as they are the only times when I can hear her voice, in real life I can’t remember it anymore so the days when I wake up and just for a fleeting second I can hear her are wonderful. I felt such a fluttery, happy feeling when Ella finds Will on that beach, it’s an incredible moment and it seemed so real and believable.

Some of the scenes with Will and his father were beautiful and very emotional too. I’m sure so many people wish they could have just one more minute, or wish they had the chance to tell someone they loved them just one more time but in real life once someone is gone, they’re gone and there are no do overs.

Will’s anguish and distress about whether he should stay as a spirit with his daughter was heart-renching to read. To know that leaving Ella all over again could likely cause real emotional damage to her but to stay having seen the potential future she would have left Will with such a terrible dilemma. I could feel Will’s pain radiating off the page and was so hoping that he’d find a way to have peace and for his daughter to be ok.

My issue with this book is purely down to the fact that I wish there hadn’t been so much going on alongside the main story with Will and Ella. I know sub-plots are there to move the main story along and to maybe add in the odd twist but in a book that relies so much on the emotional dilemma of the main character, too many distractions away from that just watered down the experience a little bit for me. The moments that I loved in the book were absolutely wonderful, and so believable – I just wanted more of them.

On the whole this is a good debut novel, and I’m looking forward to reading S. D. Robertson’s next book! I rated this 3.5 stars.

I received this book from Avon via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Time to Say Goodbye is out now.

Blog Tour | Review: The Silent Girls by Ann Troup

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Today is my stop on The Silent Girls blog tour!

Synopsis

What if everything you knew was a lie…

This house has a past that won’t stay hidden, and it is time for the dead to speak.

Returning to Number 17, Coronation Square, Edie is shocked to find the place she remembers from childhood reeks of mould and decay. After her aunt Dolly’s death Edie must clear out the home on a street known for five vicious murders many years ago, but under the dirt and grime of years of neglect lurk dangerous truths.

For in this dark house there is misery, sin and dark secrets that can no longer stay hidden. The truth must come out. 

Finding herself dragged back into the horrific murders of the past, Edie must find out what really happened all those years ago. But as Edie uncovers the history of the family she had all but forgotten, she begins to wonder if sometimes it isn’t best to leave them buried.

My Review

I started reading The Silent Girls without knowing too much about it and by the time I’d read the prologue I was hooked!

The prologue is set in 1964 and describes a convicted murderer being hanged and a murder taking place on the same day. The novel then moves to thirty years later where Edie’s Aunt Dolly has died and Edie has come to clear out her house. Almost immediately she walks into the middle of a group on a murder tour and being told all about the gruesome murders that had happened on the Square all those years ago. Edie shrugs it off but I was immediately on edge, yet unable to wait to find out more about this infamous Square.

Edie soon meets Sophie, a homeless young person in need of a safe place to sleep, and the two start to become friends. I loved Sophie’s character. Edie is in a vulnerable place, she is going through a divorce and is dealing with the death of her aunt, and it seems that some of the people around her on the Square might not be all they appear to be, so when Sophie turned up it felt like Edie might finally have someone on her side.

The atmosphere in the novel is so claustrophobic and stifling; at times I really felt like I was inside Number 17 with Edie. Troup is such a great scene setter; I read a lot of this book during the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep and I swear I could smell the damp and rot – I could feel the sinister atmosphere and I really did feel very unsettled by some of the things in that house. The story of the house continues to unfold in such an unnerving way that I was honestly actually sat on the edge of my seat at some points!

It seems like just about everyone on Coronation Square is hiding something, some secrets being more horrific than others. I enjoyed the mystery aspects of this novel and the gradual reveal of who knew what and when. I also liked that the novel isn’t really about whodunnit so much as it’s a look at a mix of characters and the pasts they are trying to keep hidden, it felt refreshing and different.

This was the first book I’ve read by Ann Troup but I’ve already bought her previous novel and plan to read it very soon. I’m definitely now a fan and will be looking out for her next novel!

I rated this novel 4.5 out of 5 and highly recommend it.

Thank you to Jenny at Neverland Blog Tours for sending me a copy of the book to review as part of this blog tour.

The Silent Girls is out now, you can find it here:

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B015QM8AP8/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28441057-the-silent-girls?ac=1&from_search=1

The Silent Girls book cover

About the Author

Ann Troup

Ann Troup tells tales and can always make something out of nothing (which means she writes books and can create unique things from stuff other people might not glance twice at). She was once awarded 11 out of 10 for a piece of poetry at school – she now holds that teacher entirely responsible for her inclination to write.

Her writing space is known as ‘the empty nest’, having formerly been her daughters bedroom. She shares this space with ten tons of junk and an elderly Westie, named Rooney, who is her constant companion whether she likes it or not. He likes to contribute to the creative process by going to sleep on top of her paperwork and running away with crucial post-it notes, which have inadvertently become stuck to his fur. She is thinking of renaming him Gremlin.

She lives by the sea in Devon with her husband and said dog. Two children have been known to remember the place that they call home, but mainly when they are in need of a decent roast dinner, it’s Christmas or when only Mum will do. She also has extremely decent stepchildren.

In a former incarnation she was psychiatric nurse, an experience which frequently informs her writing. She has also owned a cafe and an art/craft gallery. Now she only makes bacon sandwiches as a sideline, but does continue to dabble with clay, paint, paper, textiles, glue…you name it. Occasionally she may decide to give away some of these creations (you have been warned!).

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TroupAnn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anntroupauthor/

Website: https://anntroup.wordpress.com/

 

Author Interview with Kathryn Freeman

I recently read and reviewed Kathryn’s latest novel Search for the Truth and really enjoyed it (you can read my review here) so I was thrilled when Kathryn agreed to be interviewed for my blog.

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Please tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m wife to a man who asked me to marry him just before Red Dwarf started on the television, then told me to be quiet – we’d talk about it after the programme finished. I’m mum to two teenage boys who found me embarrassing enough before I started writing romantic fiction. I try to keep fit by running (jogging I should say), swimming and tennis. I love fish and chips, champagne and Jenson Button.

How did you first come to be a writer?

My love of reading led to a desire to see if I could write, too. I made it a New Year Resolution to write a book and it was one resolution I actually stuck to. It was a children’s book (and yes, only my own children ever read it) but after that I got the bug and started to write what I enjoyed reading. Contemporary romance.

Describe your journey to publication

After my children’s book bombed I wrote a brilliant romance and sent it proudly off to agents. Sadly the brilliance was vastly overstated and the rejections flooded in. I kept writing though, which is the important part, and joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme. It was the critique I received from them that made the difference. I submitted the revised manuscript to Choc Lit and to my utter delight, it was accepted. One day I’m going to dust off that first novel and, when I’ve stopped cringing, I’m going to re-write it.

What is your writing routine?

Exercise, tea and toast, write until the boys come home from school, with a few wanderings into the kitchen for further sustenance. I dive into Twitter whenever I’m stuck on something, enjoying the diversion and the break usually helps to unstick me. Several days a week I work as a medical writer, though the routine is the same.

I know that you used to work in the pharmaceutical industry and your knowledge shines through in Search for the Truth, but what about your other books? Where do you get your inspiration from? 

It is always my hero who inspires me. An actor, a character in a book/film, a sports star … something will usually act as a trigger to make me think yes, that’s what I want in my hero. I also enjoy variety in my men (I should clarify, my fictional men) so I try and make my next hero different from my previous one – it makes the writing more interesting. Then I just need a heroine who will stand up to him, and a plot that will bring them together.

Search for the Truth is your latest novel. For those who haven’t yet read it, please tell us a little about it

Search for the Truth is about corporate corruption, lies and deception and their consequences. But it’s first and foremost a love story. Tess, an undercover journalist, joins Helix pharmaceuticals because she’s convinced their new cancer drug was the cause of her mother’s death. In between trying to dig out the truth on whether the company hid any damning safety data, she has to work for the magnetic, dynamic head of research and development, Jim Knight. And that’s when the real story starts.

Do you have a writing project on the go at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?

I’m about to start editing my next book, due out in the first half of next year. The hero is a racing car driver – I did tell you I loved Jenson Button!

What else do you do connected with your books?

My husband has told me the answer to this question is that I apparently married my very own handsome hero?!

Which novelists do you admire?

I admire any writer who can publish book after book and retain a really high standard. I can tell you, it’s far more difficult than it looks! My absolute favourite writer, the one who inspired me, is Nora Roberts.

What’s your favourite book that you’ve read over the last year?

Yes, it has to be Nora’s The Liar.

How can people connect with you on social media?

Facebook: Kathryn Freeman (author)

Twitter: @Kathrynfreeman1

Website:  http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk

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Search for the Truth is out now and available from Amazon, and don’t forget that you can read my review of it here.

Review: Every Time A Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington

every time a bell rings

It’s A Wonderful Life is one of my favourite Christmas films, it’s a must-watch every festive period so when I heard about Carmel Harrington’s new book Every Time A Bell Rings, and that it was based on the themes of It’s A Wonderful Life, I couldn’t resist!

Belle Bailey had a difficult childhood but when she gets placed with foster carer Tess things begin to change for the better. Belle’s happiness increases further when her wish for a best friend comes true as Tess’s next foster child is Jim Looney. Belle and Jim become firm friends but then the day comes when Jim goes back to live with his mum and they lose touch. Eventually they find each other again and fall in love. Life seems set to be perfect for Jim and Belle but they have their struggles and hard times leading to Belle wishing she had never been born. The novel then mirrors It’s a Wonderful Life as Belle gets to see how the world would be if she had never existed.

The opening chapter of this book was so romantic and perfect, that I just knew this book was going to be gorgeous. I have to admit that I was expecting this book to be more of a re-telling of It’s A Wonderful Life but Carmel has actually taken elements of the film and made a new story, and I love the novel all the more for that.  We get to see how life was for Belle growing up, we see the struggles she’s had and the devastating things that have happened to her. We get to really understand why she is the way she is.

The novel works so well because when Belle reaches the point of thinking life would be better for everyone if she had never existed we can totally understand how she came to be in such despair, and have real empathy for her. This then makes the novel much more powerful and have a greater impact to see how life would have been without Belle’s existence. I felt so involved in Belle’s story and wanted her to see what a wonderful woman she was, so as she discovered how life was without her it felt absolutely believable because as a reader we already knew how much difference she had made to people.

I adored the idea that some people are just meant to be together and that they will find each other, regardless of where they ended up. This happens to Jim and Belle in different ways throughout the novel and it’s just so heart-warming. I never used to believe in fate until I met my husband, sometimes things are just meant to be and so they will be.

This is such a gorgeous Christmas novel. It’s romantic and festive but it’s also a wonderful reminder to be grateful for what we have and not to dwell on the things that other people have done to hurt us, or on the things we can’t change in our past. I found such comfort and solace in this book, as well as enjoying the story – it just works on so many levels and is one of those utterly perfect reads! This novel is going to be one I read at Christmas for many years to come, it’s so gorgeous!

I must also add how much I love the cover of this novel. I adore how it features a bridge, which is such an important part of this novel (and It’s A Wonderful Life) and how it has a vintage, yet modern feel to it. It’s beautiful!

I rated this novel 5 out of 5 and highly recommend it. I loved it so much that even though I bought an ecopy to read on my Kindle I’m now going to buy a print copy to so I can put it on my bookcase. I’m sure it’ll be a book I buy for others too.

Every Time a Bell Rings is published by Harper Impulse and is out now and available on Amazon.

 

Christmas novel recommendations!

merry christmas

Today I’m posting a round-up of Christmas books that I’ve read and reviewed this festive period in case you’re looking for a last minute Christmas read or Christmas book gift!

merry mistletoe

I’ve read some wonderful and magical Christmas books this year so it’s near impossible to pick my favourites. I do have a real soft spot for Emma Davies’ Merry Mistletoe as it was different to any Christmas book I’ve read in a long time, not just this year, and I loved all the comforting imagery around feathers and robins. This is a short novel and I highly recommend it, especially to anyone looking for a comforting read this Christmas.

The Boy Under the Mistletoe by Katey Lovell

I also adored Katey Lovell’s latest Meet Cute short story The Boy Under the Mistletoe. It’s a delicious five-minute read that will warm your heart and will instantly having you feeling more festive!

One Wish in Manhattan

One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot became an instant favourite of mine and I know it’s a novel that I will come back to for many Christmases to come. It’s a gorgeous novel set entirely in the build up to Christmas, it has elements of A Christmas Carol running through it and won’t fail to make anyone feel festive.

the mince pie mix up

The Mince Pie Mix-Up by Jennifer Joyce was brilliant! It’s perfect for anyone who loves films like Freaky Friday – I love body-swap books where characters become someone else and literally have to walk in their shoes for a period of time and setting this over the festive period just made it even better. It’s a fab read!

The Winter Wedding

Abby Clements’ latest novel The Winter Wedding is more of a winter themed book than a Christmas one and yet it made me feel so festive. I think it’s the build up to a winter wedding – snow combined with romance is such a magical mix!

Holly Martin released two Christmas novels this year, both set in White Cliff Bay (Christmas at Lilac Cottage and Snowflakes on Silver Cove) but featuring different characters (although if you read both you may spot some familiar characters popping up). I adored both of these novels – Holly just writes with a perfect mix of humour, romance, and festivity!

winter's fairytale (1)

Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey is such a perfect Christmas romance. The whole novel is set in the couple of weeks before Christmas so it’s as festive as can be!

What Happens at Christmas_FINAL

T. A. Williams Christmas novel What Happens at Christmas is a lovely Christmas novel. It’s set in a beautiful village, with Chocolate box cottages and friendly locals. I loved it.

how to stuff up christmas

I adored How To Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake. It’s a perfect mix of being hilariously funny and incredibly heart-warming!

Christmas wishes and mistletoe kisses

I read Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale as part of Bookouture Christmas and am so glad I got the chance to read this novel. It’s a really sweet story about what is really important at Christmas and how spending time with other people can really help us be better versions of ourselves.

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

I just read The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson this week and I loved it. It’s all how opening yourself up to new experiences can lead to unexpected and wonderful things happening.

Snowed in for her Wedding

Snowed in the for her Wedding by Emma Bennet is a short novella, but it’s a lovely story. I loved how a whole community pulled together at Christmas to help their local girl Gwen have her Christmas Eve wedding despite the heavy snow.

christmas at cranberry cottage

Christmas at Cranberry Cottage by Talli Roland is a lovely novella. I most enjoyed the nostalgia in this story, as the main character tries to save her Gran’s cottage and reminisces about growing up there and all the Christmases spent in that lovely home.


 

**Amendment 23 December 2015**

every time a bell rings

Last night I finished reading Every Time A Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington and it simply has to be added to this list, it’s such a gorgeous and utterly perfect Christmas read! It’s inspired by It’s A Wonderful Life and is just magical, go read it! It’s up there with my all-time favourite Christmas reads!


 

I hope this helps you find the perfect Christmas read for over the next week or so. You really can’t go wrong with any of the above books, they’re all wonderful.

Wishing you all a very happy and book-filled Christmas!

 

Review: The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

 

Joy is in her late 80s and has decided to make one last trip in her beloved RV before moving across country to be nearer her two sons. Miranda is Joy’s neighbour and good friend, and she is very down on her luck at the moment – her husband has left her and her home is facing imminent foreclosure so she has nothing to hang around for and decides that she will accompany Joy on her trip. This is a trip with a difference though – Joy runs a Christmas website and has recently had a competition running for people to win the chance to have Joy spread some Christmas joy in their lives.

I love that Joy had this plan to spread Christmas cheer to the six competition winners but that she also had plans for Miranda. Joy made sure that Miranda would accompany her on this trip and that it would change her friend’s life for the better.

Miranda and Joy set off on Route 66 and stop off at various points along the way to decorate homes and businesses. Joy begins to find the driving extremely tiring and so Miranda steps up to take her turn. Miranda soon finds her confidence growing at driving the RV and with life in general.

I found this novella a little slow to get going but once as I found out more about Joy and Miranda I found myself engrossed. I love how Joy was so wily and that she subtly made sure that Miranda would go on this trip with her. It’s always wonderful to read about older people who are still feisty and who still have ambitions and dreams for the future. The idea of an octogenarian planning to drive Route 66 in an RV is just fabulous, I want to be just like this when I’m old!

I was willing Miranda on as she began to realise that she could move on from the hurt in her past. It was lovely to see her come out of herself as she took on more of the Christmas decorating and organising at each stop. I was very much hoping that Joy might give the RV to Miranda so that she wouldn’t have to return to her old town, I became so invested in wanting Miranda to have a happy ending.

Melody Carlson’s novels always have an element of faith in them but she has such a delicate touch that this novella will feel fulfilling for readers of faith but it is done in such a way that readers who are not religious themselves will not feel it is being forced upon them. I tend not to read Christian fiction and yet have always enjoyed Carlson’s novels, as she strikes just the right balance.

The Christmas Joy Ride is a wonderful and heart-warming novella. It won’t fail to spread Christmas joy to everyone who reads it this festive period.

I rate this novella 4 out of 5.

The Christmas Joy Ride is out now and available from Amazon.

I received a copy of this novella from Revell via Amazon in exchange for an honest review.

 

Review: Snowed in for her Wedding by Emma Bennet 

Snowed in for her Wedding

I have never read anything by Emma Bennet before but when I was offered the chance to read and review Snowed in for Wedding, I couldn’t refuse. I love a Christmas story and when Christmas is combined with a wedding I tend to find them irresistible!

Snowed in for her Wedding is a sequel to Green hills of home but Emma gives a recap at start, which makes this novella work as a standalone.

Gwen is due to marry John on Christmas Eve in the village of Tonnadulais, where they both live, but the morning of the wedding heavy snow begins to fall and soon they are in danger of being snowed in. Guests start phoning to say they won’t be able to make it, and even worse, John is driving back to Wales from London the morning of the wedding and Gwen can’t get hold of him on the phone so has no idea if he will make it in time.

I have to be honest and say that I found the beginning of this novella a little slow but once the snow started falling I very soon became completely engrossed and lost track of everything as I was willing this wedding to take place.  As obstacles keep being thrown in front of this couple on the day of their wedding, I became more and more invested in wanting this wedding to take place.

There were little bumps in the road between the bride and groom. John was quite secretive and often absent in the run up to the wedding, which causes Gwen to begin to worry that he’s having cold feet. Once the snow starts falling and the power goes off, and Gwen can no longer contact John by phone, her anxieties grow. She wants to believe that he won’t let her down but it’s not easy.

I loved how the people of Tonnadulais began to rally round to help local girl Gwen get her wedding despite all the obstacles being thrown in her way. It was heart-warming the way the whole community, even people who weren’t invited to the wedding, went out of their way to do their bit to make this wedding happen.

There’s something extra-magical about a wedding at Christmas and this story stole my heart. It has romance, and snow, and it’s entirely set in the days before Christmas, which is wonderful. This is a lovely, romantic novella that will definitely warm your heart over this festive period.

I rate this novella 4 out of 5.

I received a copy of this novella from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Boy Under the Mistletoe by Katey Lovell

The Boy Under the Mistletoe by Katey Lovell

It’s no secret that I adore this Meet Cute series, so I was very excited to discover that there was to be a Christmas story in the series! I had hoped to read and review it before now but with being ill I just haven’t been able to. It was the perfect story to get me back into reading though!

This latest Meet Cute is a gorgeous Christmas short story all about Chelsea, who is home from University for Christmas but she’s exhausted and fed up after working long hours in her family’s flower shop; the last thing she feels like doing is putting on a Christmas jumper and going to her Gran’s annual Christmas party with the rest of her family.

We briefly meet Chelsea’s Gran and because of Katey’s wonderful, succinct writing I felt like I knew her even though she was just in the story fleetingly. The way she tries to feed Chelsea up shows how caring she is. I loved the descriptions of the antique baubles on her Gran’s Christmas tree too. The scene brought back lovely memories of my own Nan, and of the beautiful and fragile tree ornaments she had.

The description of Chelsea looking like a Refresher bar with the combination of her auburn hair and her face blushing red with embarrassment made me properly laugh out loud. As someone who is similarly auburn-haired, I have been there many times. I’ve not heard this description before but it’s definitely one I’ll remember and laugh about next time I show myself up!

I loved how Chelsea’s meet cute moment happened and how it was like a fairy tale but with added feistiness! It was just perfect how Chelsea had wanted to watch a certain popular Christmas film and instead got her own moment that was just like one that could have quite easily occurred in said film. Yet again, Katey has somehow managed to get so much detail into the story about Chelsea and Simeon to leave me feeling completely satisfied that these characters will be happy together. I swear there is something magical to Katey’s writing in the way she manages to convey so much in such short stories!

This Christmas story has everything you could possibly want to warm your heart this festive period. It’s a perfect read to curl up with when you just need a few minutes away from it all. Grab a hot chocolate (or Baileys), a mince pie and escape into this gorgeous romantic story!

I highly recommend this book and rate it 5 out of 5.

The Boy Under the Mistletoe is out now and available from Amazon.

I received a copy of this story from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Here are my reviews of The Boy in the Bookshop and The Boy at the Beach, two of the other short stories in this fab series.

Review: The Mince Pie Mix-Up by Jennifer Joyce

the mince pie mix up

The Mince Pie Mix-Up is a gorgeous festive novel. Calvin works hard at the office and thinks his wife has it easy with her part-time job in the local cafe and looking after their two children. Judy thinks her husband could help her out a bit more instead of coming home from the office and going out to football or down to the pub with his mates. They each think the other has a much easier life and one night, just two weeks before Christmas, they both wish to swap places and in the morning they find that their wish has been granted. This novel is in the vein of Freaky Friday and 13 Going on 30 and is a wonderfully funny novel.

I can never resist a body swap film or book, and this novel is up there with the best of them – I loved it. I think just about everyone at one point or another in their life has wished they could swap places with someone else; it’s human nature. I don’t think we ever think through all the consequences of such a thing happening though, which is what makes this novel so entertaining.

During the time they’ve swapped bodies some very funny situations occur and it makes for a very entertaining read. I found myself giggling quite a few times while reading this book. It was very amusing when Judy or Calvin would forget they were in the other’s body and would speak as if they were themselves. I loved how Calvin decided to ignore his boss’s swearing and replace all the swear words in his head with Christmas words, it was very funny at times and had me thinking I may well do the same!

I loved how it was obvious all the way through this novel that Calvin and Judy still love each other very much, they’ve just got set in their ways and have begun to take each other for granted. This wasn’t about a marriage that was in trouble, they’re just a couple that needed a reminder of all that the other does for them. It was a wake up call to what they’re missing out on or not making time for.

Ultimately, this novel is all about how everyone could do to put themselves in someone else’s shoes from time to time to try and understand life from another’s perspective. This works so well as a Christmas novel because this is the season where we’re urged to be kind to each other and to be more giving.

The Mince Pie Mix-Up is set in the two weeks leading up to Christmas and so is very festive. It’s a funny and very heart-warming novel, and I highly recommend it. I rate it 4.5 out of 5.

I received this book from Carina UK via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

The Mince Pie Mix-Up is out now and available from Amazon.

Blog tour | Review: Search for the Truth by Kathryn Freeman

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Today is my stop on the blog tour for Search for the Truth by Kathryn Freeman. Please keep reading to the end of the post as I have a giveaway to share with you all.

My Review

Tessa is an investigative journalist who has infiltrated the big pharmaceutical company, Helix. Helix developed drug that was given to Tessa’s mum as part of her cancer treatment but Tessa believes that the drug caused her mother’s heart attack and that this company is ultimately responsible for her mum’s death.

Jim Knight is head of Helix and after a disastrous affair with a work colleague he is determined to focus on the company. However, he finds himself increasingly attracted to the new member of staff Tessa! The attraction is mutual but Tessa is determined to focus on discovering the truth about the company.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Kathryn Freeman and it was a really enjoyable read. It was refreshingly different to other books in this genre in that it was a romance but with a really serious issue at it’s centre.

I was hooked from the very start of this novel wanting to know whether Tessa would discover answers at Helix before they discovered that she was working undercover, or if she did discover more about the drug whether it would turn out to be part of a big cover up. This novel was a bit close to home for me at times but it meant that I was willing Tessa on all the more to find out the truth so that she and her family could have closure.

The dynamic between Tessa and Jim was great too. They were obviously very attracted to each other but at the same time Tessa was not been honest about who she really is, and Jim was trying to reform Helix to really do good for cancer patients. The romance seemed doomed to fail at times because of all the secrets and potential for conflict. I was hoping all the way through the book that Jim would turn out to be a genuine guy, it made the romance storyline all the more unpredictable, and therefore better, that we just don’t know for a while what he knows.

I really enjoyed this novel, it had a great mix of things going on and it was a real page turner for me. I’ll be looking out for more of Kathryn Freeman’s novels in the future!

I received a copy of this book via Brook Cottage Books as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Search for the Truth is out now.

Buy Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US


 

Synopsis

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.

Genre: Contemporary romance

Release Date: 13th August 2015

Publisher: Choc Lit


 

 

About the Author

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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.

AUTHOR LINKS

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kathrynfreeman

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KathrynFreeman1

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7373990.Kathryn_Freeman

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/edit?locale=en_US&trk=profile-preview

Website: http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk

 


 

Giveaway

Please click the link below for your chance to win a paperback copy of Too Charming by Kathryn Freeman. This is an international giveaway.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be03017117/?

Search for Truth Tour Banner

Review: Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

 

winter's fairytale

This is such a lovely, heart-warming Christmas novel. It is set entirely over the festive period, which I loved! It begins a few weeks before Christmas and ends at new year.

The novel starts off with some heavy snow in London which prevents Izzy from getting home. Her ex-fiance’s best man bumps into her and invites her back to his apartment nearby while she figures out how she can get home. It’s all a bit awkward as the last time she saw Rob she had punched him in the face and accidentally broken his nose when he had had to tell her that her fiancé wasn’t going to be turning up to their wedding.

Izzy is a great character; she’s a really down to earth girl with a feisty side. She couldn’t see how attractive she was to men, and I adored the fact that she was a bit clumsy at times. She was the kind of person that we’d all love to have as our best friend.

I adored how the will they, won’t they scenario played out with Rob. The flirtation was so romantic, and all the misunderstandings that kept stopping them from getting together were believable. The whole novel was about them and I was lost in the romance from the very start. I was willing Rob and Izzy on to get together all through the book as it seemed evident that these two were just meant to be.

This novel won’t fail to give you that warm, fuzzy feeling. It’s just a gorgeous Christmas novel that will give you butterflies and will warm your heart.

I rate this book 4 out of 5.

Winter’s Fairytale is out now and available from Amazon.

I received a copy of this book from Carina UK via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Author Interview with Lynda Renham

I was very lucky to have the opportunity to interview the lovely Lynda Renham recently. Lynda has got a new Christmas novella out, A Christmas Romance, written under the pseudonym Amy Perfect. So, I took the opportunity to ask about her writing routine but also what Christmas is like for her.

 

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

My name is Lynda Renham and I write romantic comedies. I recently released a Christmas novella titled ‘A Christmas Romance under the name of Amy Perfect. It’s full of romance and festive spirit. I loved writing it so much.

What is your writing routine?

Oh dear! Truthfully? I have my own writing room known as ‘The Beach Hut’ At 9 in the morning Bendy and I wander in. Bendy is my cat and constant companion during the day. It’s really quite disgraceful how we faff about. Bendy will spend a bit of time playing with the rug while I while away the time on Facebook. I may then move onto Twitter and Bendy will move onto the wicker trunk and have a good scratch. By now it is 11 and we are both in need of distraction. So he has treats and I have a mince pie with a mug of coffee. Then we go back and attempt some serious stuff. Bendy usually go to sleep and I attempt to write. Although, this is interspersed with trips to the fridge as I find food really helps with the writing process.  I’m a terrible procrastinator that I am amazed I’ve written nine books in less than five years.

What inspired you to write a Christmas book?

Oh, I have wanted to write a Christmas book for years. Every August I say I’m going to write one but I never seem to find the time. This year, however, I developed writer’s block while trying to write my new comedy romance. I stopped and had a go at a Christmas novella. This became ‘A Christmas Romance’ which I adored writing. It’s full of romance and Christmas spirit.

How do you get in the Christmas spirit early in order to write a festive book

We don’t put our Christmas tree up until Christmas Eve so I think I can safely say I’m not one of those people who gets into the spirit of Christmas early, aside of course, from eating mince pies and I start very early with those and  continue way past Christmas. But as I wanted to write a book full of Christmas spirit and merriment I had to play lots of Christmas songs which very quickly put me in the mood. In fact so much so that now it feels like Christmas has been and gone

What’s your favourite thing about Christmas?

I live in a small village so there are a lot of Christmas parties. I also love the feel of Christmas in the village. The lighting of the tree on the village green and the Christmas fete. My Christmas novel is very much based on my village. Christmas in a village is a very warm, cosy affair. I enjoy buying and giving presents. Although I tend to avoid the shops and do most of my shopping online, which is easier. I also love mince pies, have I told you that already, chestnuts and Christmas cards.

What is a Christmas like at your house? 

Busy, although this year my husband and I are spending Christmas Day together but the weeks before that I have my family coming. On Boxing Day my stepchildren come with their children and a few days after Boxing Day I have my husband’s family visit. There will be nine of us that day. I will cook and I enjoy it. Family gatherings are lovely and of course there will be no shortage of mince pies.

Do you have Christmas traditions?

Aside from eating mince pies? No, Not really. We take each year as it comes. Although the village has traditions like the tree lighting, carol services, and so on.

What are your favourite Christmas films, books and songs?

My favourite Carol is ‘Silent Night’ and I played it a lot while writing the Christmas novella. I love Michael Bublé’s Christmas songs. They really cheer me up and get me in the mood for Christmas.  I love ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Dickins. I don’t really have a favourite film.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading ‘Fools Gold’ By Zana Bell. I haven’t got very far but I’m enjoying it.

How can people connect with you on social media?

I have a Facebook author page and am on Twitter. Also I can be reached through my blog www.renham.co.uk

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1X4Er1p

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lyndarenham

Thank you very much, Lynda for answering my questions.

I will be reading and reviewing A Christmas Romance on my blog in a couple of weeks time so look out for that.

A Christmas Romance is out now and is available from Amazon.

christmasrom2

 

Lynda Renham is also the author of Fifty Shades of Roxie Brown

RoxieBrown

Promo Post & Giveaway: The Lost Girl by Liz Harris

 

9781781892363

Today on my blog I have a promo post showcasing Liz Harris‘s new novel The Lost Girl. Please keep reading to the end as the tour hosts, Brook Cottage Books, are running a wonderful giveaway.

Blurb

What if you were trapped between two cultures?

Life is tough in 1870s Wyoming. But it’s tougher still when you’re a girl who looks Chinese but speaks like an American.

Orphaned as a baby and taken in by an American family, Charity Walker knows this only too well.  The mounting tensions between the new Chinese immigrants and the locals in the mining town of Carter see her shunned by both communities.

When Charity’s one friend, Joe, leaves town, she finds herself isolated. However, in his absence, a new friendship with the only other Chinese girl in Carter makes her feel like she finally belongs somewhere.

But, for a lost girl like Charity, finding a place to call home was never going to be that easy …

Genre: Historical Romantic Fiction

Release Date: 16th October, 2015

Publisher: Choc Lit

BUY LINKS

AMAZON UK

AMAZON US

 

 

About the Author

ABOUT LIZ HARRIS

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Liz Harris lives south of Oxford. Her debut novel was THE ROAD BACK (US Coffee Time & Romance Book of 2012), followed by A BARGAIN STRUCK (shortlisted for the RoNA Historical 2013), EVIE UNDERCOVER, THE ART OF DECEPTION and A WESTERN HEART. All of her novels, which are published by Choc Lit, have been shortlisted in their categories in the Festival of Romantic Fiction. In addition, Liz has had several short stories published in anthologies. Her interests are theatre, travelling, reading, cinema and cryptic crosswords.

You can find Liz at the following links:

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

WEBSITE

GOODREADS

 

Giveaway Time!

 

Brooke Cottage Books are offering a wonderful giveaway where you have the chance to win an e-copy of this very book. Please click on the link below to enter!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be03017118/?

The Lost Girl Tour Banner

 

Review: The Winter Wedding by Abby Clements

The Winter Wedding

 

I’m a huge fan of Abby Clements and always look forward to a new novel from her. I especially loved her Christmas novel, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, so when I was offered a chance to read this novel, I jumped at the chance.

Hazel feels lost when her sister moves out of the flat they share. She struggles with the idea of a new flat mate and she’s not getting the chances she deserves at work. Her life seems to be standing still while those around her are moving on at great pace. Lila asks Hazel to help plan her wedding and a sideline job is born for Hazel as guests at Lila’s wedding ask her to help plan their big day. She enjoys helping these couples out but her heart is really in the miniature sets she’s been creating in secret.

Hazel’s love life is at something of a standstill too ever since she made a pass at her best friend Sam the previous Christmas. With terrible timing she begins to realise she has fluttery feelings for her work colleague Josh just at the time he asks her to plan his wedding to Sarah.

I loved Hazel and was willing her on to find happiness throughout this novel. She was such a likeable character who I warmed to straight away, she is such a well-rounded character that she felt like someone I actually knew. I loved seeing her friendship with Amber grow.

I enjoyed how the novel kept taking me in different directions with regards to not only who Hazel might end up with but also if she’d end up with someone at all. I so wanted her to find her Mr Right and didn’t want her to either settle for steady or to be responsible for breaking up someone else’s relationship. I felt all warm and fuzzy when the right man saw Hazel’s miniature set designs and encouraged her to follow her dreams.

I loved the descriptions of the miniature sets that Hazel created, I could picture them so vividly. I wish these sets really existed, I’d love to see them and be able to buy them as gifts. How lovely it would be to have a miniature set of your wedding day!

This book is a warm and cosy read, perfect for curling up with on a cold winter night. It’s not a festive read but it still has a sense of the festive because it is mainly set in the winter and in the run up to a Christmas wedding.

I rate this book 4.5 out of 5.

I received this book from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

The Winter Wedding is out now and available from Amazon.

The Winter Wedding my pic

The gorgeous copy that I was lucky enough to receive for review.

Blog Tour & Giveaway | Review: What Rosie Found Next by Helen J Rolfe

What Rosie Found Next

Today, I am thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for Helen J Rolfe‘s new book What Rosie Found Next. Please keep reading to the end of my review as there is a fabulous giveaway for you to enter!

Review header copy

What Rosie Found Next is a gorgeous story about Rosie Stevens, a professional house sitter who hasn’t had the easiest life but is trying to move forward. She just wants to settle down and have some stability and security. Adam is Rosie’s long-term boyfriend but he’s very career-driven and, in the short term, this keeps preventing them from having the life that Rosie craves. Owen is the son of the home owners that Rosie is now house-sitting for. Owen is the opposite of Rosie, he leads a nomadic lifestyle with no home of his own and has no intentions of settling down with anyone ever.

I loved the dynamic between Owen and Rosie! From the very beginning, when he arrives unannounced at his parents’ home where Rosie is housesitting, and immediately starts antagonising her it was apparent that there was an underlying chemistry between these two characters. So from the start I was very much looking forward to seeing how things developed between them. As the novel went on, I really did like how these two characters became closer, they  got to be friends and started looking out for each other and forming a much deeper connection. It wasn’t a straightforward boy meets girl novel and I very much enjoyed that it was different.

The mystery element, regarding Owen’s family, that runs through much of this novel was really interesting. I couldn’t work out why Owen was so set on searching his parents’ house but it is apparent that whatever secret is being kept from him, it’s something that has been affecting him for a long time and has perhaps made him the way he is. It works well because Owen goes away to find out the truth about the past and in his time away from Rosie we get to see the development of his character through what he finds out.

I adored Magnolia Creek, what a gorgeous setting; the descriptions of the town are such that you can really picture the place and I’d love to actually go visit! I loved Bella’s cafe, and Bella herself. She is the lynch-pin of the town bringing everyone together and lifting their worries for a little while with tea and freshly-baked scones.

I really enjoyed this novel, it was different to what I had been expecting but I loved that parts of it surprised me. It has a real depth to it and I became so invested in these characters and was really willing them on to find happiness. It’s a really heart-warming read and I can’t wait to read more books by Helen J. Rolfe in the future!

I rate this novel 8 out of 10.

What Rosie Found Next is out now and available from AMAZON UK and AMAZON US

Thank you to Brook Cottage Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb copy

What Rosie Found Next

Genre: Romantic fiction / Women’s fiction

Release Date: 3rd November 2015

A shaky upbringing has left Rosie Stevens craving safety and security. She thinks she knows exactly what she needs to make her life complete – the stable job and perfect house-sit she’s just found in Magnolia Creek. The only thing she wants now is for her long-term boyfriend, Adam, to leave his overseas job and come home for good.

Owen Harrison is notoriously nomadic, and he roars into town on his Ducati for one reason and one reason only – to search his parents’ house while they’re away to find out what they’ve been hiding from him his entire life. When he meets Rosie, who refuses to quit the house-sit in his parents’ home, sparks fly.

Secrets are unearthed, promises are broken, friendships are put to the test and the real risk of bushfires under the hot Australian sun threatens to undo Rosie once and for all.

Will Rosie and Owen find what they want or what they really need?


Author Bio copy

ABOUT HELEN J ROLFE

helen j rolfe

Helen J Rolfe writes contemporary women’s fiction. She enjoys weaving stories about family, relationships, friendships, love, and characters who face challenges and fight to overcome them.

Born and raised in the UK, Helen spent fourteen years living in Australia before returning home. She now lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and children.

Facebook: http://facebook.com/helenjrolfe

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/hjrolfe

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/helenjrolfe


GIVEAWAY BANNER! copy

As part of the book tour there is a chance to enter a giveaway for a chance to win £10 /$15 Amazon gift card. Please click on the link below to enter. Good luck!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be03017116/?

Promo Post & Competition from Linn B Halton

FCL smlAuthor Linn B Halton is celebrating with a competition running from 5th November –  5 December, 2015!

In the UK, Falling: Angels AmongWHSmith Us The complete series (published by Harper Impulse) will be on the shelves in some of the WHSmith stores for a four-week promotion. The star of Falling, Ceri, is sprinkling a little  ‘festive’ love …

Launching the Rafflecopter #FallingComp

1st prizeone lucky winner can choose a gift of their choice, valued at £100/$150* (International)
2nd prize two lucky winners will each receive one signed paperback of A Cottage in the Country – released 23 Sept 2015 (UK only; non-UK ecopy)
3rd prize six lucky winners will each receive an ebook of their choice from any of Linn’s titles (International)

*(gift to be chosen from across the Amazon stores, or full cash prize via Paypal if you prefer to shop locally)

Take part below – there are lots of different ways to join in the fun and get your chance to be a winner!

What would YOU choose?

A special something just for YOU?

Or use the CASH to pamper yourself – or  even to help out with those holiday expenses!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
//widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Ceri thinks she sees angels … everywhere. She struggles to keep separate what feels like two very different sides to her life. As a manager in an advertising company she’s been working with the gorgeous Alex for two years. The have a friendship based upon the image she portrays whilst she’s at work and it helps to keep her sane. One mad, crazy night spent sharing their secrets and a lot of wine result in them ending up in bed together, and their relationship changes. When Alex explains that the reason he doesn’t date is because someone broke his heart, how can Ceri admit that she feels a deep connection to him?

Ceri knows she’s different. What she doesn’t fully appreciate, is that her task in life is to correct a series of incidents that affect some of the people’s lives with whom she comes into contact. She’s simply putting right little errors that could ripple outwards and change the course of their destiny. When she finds herself getting pulled into things that happen around her, how can she prove that she really has made a difference? Is it all in her head?

She’s alone for a reason; she’s not meant to fall in love in her earthly life. Alex is supposed to cross paths with her and help Ceri, during a phase where she begins to question the signs she’s being given. It’s meant to be a turning point for them both—but in opposite directions. They are destined to travel very different paths … but Ceri doesn’t know that and neither does Alex …

FallingComp Nov

RGB-HarperImpulse-3Linn author pic revSomeone has to win and it could be YOU!

Falling: Angels Among Us the series
is published by Harper Impulse.

Author website: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/
Linn’s books: 
http://smarturl.it/LinnBHaltonbooks

Entrants must be over 18 years of age. A gift (or gifts) to the value of £100/$150 may be chosen by the designated winner from Amazon, OR funds to that value will be transferred into the winner’s PayPal account upon receipt of details.

Proof of entry requirements must be met before the prizes are awarded.
Winner(s) will be contacted by email within 5 workings after the giveaway ends.

Review: How To Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake

how to stuff up christmas

How To Stuff Up Christmas is a brilliant novel that is both hilariously funny and incredibly heart-warming, I enjoyed reading it so much!

Eve recently split up with her fiancé after she accidentally spotted a rather incriminating photo on his phone. After spending a couple of months feeling heartbroken, Eve realises that she can’t face spending Christmas with her family this year as there will be too many reminders of how happy she was the previous Christmas when she and Liam got engaged. Eve considers lots of options for her break but in the end she rents a narrowboat for a month so that her dog, Marmite can go with her. She also signs up for pottery classes to keep her occupied while she’s away.

Greg is a man of mystery for quite a lot of the novel. He is obviously a lovely man, he’s a vet with a heart of gold who not only wants to do the best for the animals he cares for but he shows real kindness to their owners too. Greg has something in his private life that he doesn’t want to talk about and it’s weighing heavily on him.

Greg and Eve meet when he comes to her rescue, there is obviously a mutual attraction between them but they’re both wary of getting involved. They become friends and Greg helps Eve learn to cook. At some points in the novel the story is told from Eve’s point of view and then in the next chapter there is the same scene told from Greg’s perspective. It was great to see how they were both really feeling, and it really showed how they were putting their guards up to protect themselves from getting hurt. It made me want to climb into the novel and tell them to give each other a chance, I was willing them to get together!

I loved Eve’s friendship with Daisy. The way they were together at work finding ways to run rings around their boss, the way Daisy supports Eve through her break up with Liam. It’s the kind of friendship we’d all love to have; the kind of friend who’ll forgive you for giving them food poisoning! I spent the novel hoping that Daisy didn’t know anything that could hurt Eve, it was worrying because sometimes even your best friends can let you down.

The closer it got to Christmas the more I was willing Eve’s broken heart to heal faster. Her family have always made a big deal of Christmas, like most families they have their traditions and they stick to them every year. Eve’s family really don’t want her to go away for Christmas and her mum especially doesn’t want to face the fact that she really isn’t planning on being there. It made me sad to think that Eve, who had always had such wonderful, big happy Christmases could feel they were completely ruined by Liam. It made me hate Liam even more for what he’d done!

There are some brilliant characters in this novel. I especially loved Eve’s colourblind dad and all his wacky outfits, and I nearly spat my drink out laughing when we met Minnie at the art course and she describes to Raj what she’s making in the pottery class! I just wasn’t expecting her to say what she did, it’s hysterical! I have to mention the crazy geese too, they were funny (and also a little bit terrifying!).

I also loved the recipes at the start of some of the chapters; the recipes always relate to food that is mentioned in the chapter. I thought it was brilliant how in amongst recipes for chocolate biscuit cake and gingerbread were recipes for making a Pot Noodle and beans on toast – this made me laugh so much. It just said so much about Eve’s ability to cook!

This is such an enjoyable novel and I highly recommend you buy it! It’s heart-warming, it’s hilarious, it’s just a perfect book to curl up with on these cold autumn/winter nights!

I rate this book 8 out of 10, it’s such an enjoyable read. This is the first novel I’ve read by Rosie Blake but I’ve already bought her previous book, How To Get A (Love) Life and hope to read it very soon.

Thank you to Corvus for very kindly sending me How To Stuff Up Christmas.

How To Stuff Up Christmas is out today and available on Amazon.

Author Interview with Emily Benet about #PleaseRetweet

PleaseRetweet BookCover

Emily Benet‘s fabulous book #PleaseRetweet is published in paperback today for the first time! I read it a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it, you can read my review here. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to interview Emily recently and couldn’t resist asking her about all things Social Media!

When did you first join twitter? What made you join?

February 2009. I had to check that. I don’t want you thinking I celebrate my Twitter anniversary or anything! I had already been blogging for a year and saw Twitter as another way of reaching potential readers.

How quickly did it feel quite normal for you to share things about your life with your followers, and how long was it before you were checking twitter every chance you got?

I was very open from the start. My blog, which was turned into the book, Shop Girl Diaries, tells my whole journey to publication with all the highs and lows. It’s very personal really with a dollop of romance in there too. No real names, though! The dark, handsome hero is referred to as ‘The Date’!

Whereas blogging felt natural, I didn’t get Twitter at first. I felt like I was in the middle of a busy airport and everyone was just shouting at each other. I got into it about three years ago.

Have you ever tweeted while drunk/half asleep or attempted to send a DM and instead accidentally shared the tweet publicly on your timeline? Is it something you can share?

I’m more likely to drunk text, than drunk tweet. I have tweeted drunkenly but never anything of consequence, just silly comments about Eurovision. I once tweeted that my husband had just lopped his own hair off with a scissors.  His sister texted him about that and he asked me, how does she know about my hair? He doesn’t like me tweeting about him so it was a bit awkward! Sometimes you need to ask yourself, Why am I sharing this with the whole world?

Do you go on twitter whenever you have a spare minute or do you allow yourself regular times throughout the day?

There is no structure to my Twitter life. I check whenever I get a notification and tweet completely randomly, but always daily.

Have you ever felt that you were addicted to twitter, or going on it too often? How did you deal with it?

I know I’m going on it too much when my daily word count suffers. I hate the feeling of wasting time. Tweeting isn’t half as fulfilling as writing a novel, and it can leave me feeling a little empty if my attention has been spent more on social media than writing.

I recently had a social media detox and was offline for a week. I deleted the Twitter and Facebook apps from my phone. It was really liberating. At the same time it was alarming how my brain kept composing tweets!

What inspired you to start writing PleaseRetweet? 

It was a mixture of wanting to laugh at social media and make sense of it. It’s something that has had such a positive influence in my life with regards to my writing career and can be an amazing tool for creativity and community. But it can also get in the way of you living life and enjoying the moment. I hate it when people meet up and spend more time on their phones than actually talking to each other. I also hate people taking selfies all the time. It’s so boring. It’s basically the same photo over and over and over…. I suppose I wanted to get all that down on paper!

Is life better now we have social media or was it better before?

What social media has done for freedom of speech and enabling the broadcast of important issues is incredible. With social media we can get different perspectives that aren’t offered in mainstream news. It has motivated people to help lots of great causes. On the other hand, being bombarded by so much information and so many opinions, not to mention the trolls and haters, can be difficult to process and can cause anxiety. There are plenty of pros and cons. How long have you got?

Do you believe it’s possible for people to form true friendships and relationships on twitter? Have you made any?

Yes! I have two very good friends on Twitter. We are completely different ages and we all first met at a book launch after months of tweeting. As for romantic relationships, I have heard of bloggers meeting after tweeting and hooking up. The internet has been the catalyst of a lot of romance!

Did you use your own experiences of twitter in PleaseRetweet? Or did anything you read on twitter inspire aspects of the story?

I couldn’t have written the book if I hadn’t been very active on social media myself. The first thing I did when I decided to write #PleaseRetweet was to follow all those people I’d originally unfollowed on Facebook. Some people have no filter at all and post some really wonderfully, cringe worthy status updates! There are lots of observations of myself too; the constant checking and scrolling and the feeling of inadequacy when no one responds to a tweet. I enjoyed taking the mick out of myself!

What do you do to relax away from social media?

Reading- surprise surprise! I’m a huge fan of hilarious John O’Farrell and the brilliant Liane Moriarty. It’s the perfect escapism. I also love watching Downton abbey, even if the plot is a bit rubbish. I’m happiest outside though. I love the sea, mountains… and anything cooked on a barbeque.

Thank you so much for your time, Emily. I wish you all the best with the paperback release of #PleaseRetweet.


Emily is on the following social media sites:

Social Media Links:

www.emilybenet.com
www.twitter.com/EmilyBenet
www.facebook.com/EmilyBenetAuthor

Optional You Tube video: https://youtu.be/n6TjNUy_iQM

Amazon link:  http://hyperurl.co/v47754


ProfPicWeb
Biog:
Emily Benet is a half Welsh – half Spanish Londoner, currently living on the beautiful island of Mallorca. Wherever she’s lived her passion for writing has followed.

Her debut book Shop Girl Diaries began as a blog about working in her Mum’s eccentric chandelier shop. It won the CompletelyNovel Author Blog Awards at the London Book Fair.

Her second book, a romantic comedy called The Temp, also began its life online, as a serialised novel on Wattpad and racked up two million hits under its original title Spray Painted Bananas. It led to her signing with MBA agency and a two book deal with Harper Collins imprint Harper Impulse. #PleaseRetweet is her latest book.


Review: The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

Today is my stop on Rebecca Raisin’s The Little Bookshop on the Seine book blog tour!

Little Bookshop on the Seine

 

My review:

I knew I was going to love The Little Bookshop on the Seine as soon as I read the blurb, it just sounded magical and exactly my type of book. I’ve always adored books about books and bookshops.

Sarah runs a little bookshop in Ashford, a small town where she has always lived, and where she knows everyone and everyone knows her. She gets offered the chance to do a six-month book shop swap with her dear friend Sophie, who runs the Once Upon a Time book shop in Paris and decides to go for it.

Sarah is a total romantic, she is whimsical and a daydreamer. She adores her books and she absolutely believes in happily ever afters. She’s always wanted to go to Paris and immediately dreams about exploring the city hand-in-hand with her man, Ridge, but it doesn’t quite go as she imagines it would. She finds she has to hit the ground running when she arrives in Paris. Once Upon a Time is a very busy shop with staff that seem to come and go at will, and who offer no support to Sarah. She quickly becomes exhausted and stressed and begins to question whether she has made the right decision in coming to Paris.

Then she meets Oceane, who also works at Once Upon a Time part-time, and she takes Sarah under her wing. She helps her shop for new clothes to update her look, she encourages her to take time away from the shop and helps her to explore the real Paris and not just the tourist side of the city. Oceane introduces Sarah to Anouk, who runs an antique jewellery shop, and I loved meeting her. She is just so quirky; the idea that she picks pieces out for customers and will only sell them what she feels is right for them! Just wonderful!

I assumed this novel was going to be focused on the romance between Sarah and Ridge but actually that isn’t really the main focus at all. Their relationship doesn’t quite go as Sarah hoped while she is in Paris and the romance of the book is actually very much more between Sarah and Paris itself. She falls head over heels in love with the city as it begins to cast its magical spell on her. Sarah goes from being quite naive and gauche to slowly, with Oceane’s help, beginning to find her sense of style and to dress with a more chic Parisian look. She gradually becomes more comfortable with the language and it’s wonderful to see her confidence grow. Sarah really does find herself in Paris, she becomes bolder and stronger and it’s wonderful to see. I loved that she never stops being herself though: she doesn’t change into a different person entirely, you still see all her nervous tics but she becomes the best version of herself. It was great how the focus wasn’t what I expected, it added another dimension to the novel.

I adore the way Sarah feels about her books; her ‘book babies’ as she refers to them. The sound of a spine cracking, the way old books smell, the ‘lemony-scent’ of new books. I swear I could hear and see and smell everything that Sarah was experiencing in the book shop, the descriptions were that vivid. The sheer love of books just radiates off the page in this novel. Sarah’s face actually flushes with love at one point, like someone in the beginning of a new love affair, when she explores Once Upon a Time! I think all of us bookworms have been there on discovering a fantastic new book shop! I want to go visit Once Upon a Time, I want to sit and read in all the little rooms, I want to buy books there. This novel is a love letter to Paris, and even more so a love letter to books; it is absolutely a must-read book for book lovers.

I rated this book 10 out of 10, I absolutely loved it!


 

Little Bookshop on the Seine

Synopsis of The Little Bookshop on the Seine

La Vie En Rose

Bookshop owner Sarah Smith has been offered the opportunity to exchange bookshops with her new Parisian friend for 6 months! And saying yes is a no-brainer – after all, what kind of a romantic would turn down a trip to Paris…for Christmas?

Even if it does mean leaving the irresistible Ridge Warner behind, Sarah’s sure she’s in for the holiday of a lifetime – complete with all the books she can read!

Imagining days wandering around Shakespeare & Co, munching on croissants, sipping café au laits and watching the snow fall on the Champs-Élysées Sarah boards the plane.

But will her dream of a Parisian Happily-Ever-After come true? Or will Sarah realise that the dream of a Christmas fairytale in the city of love isn’t quite as rosy in reality…

A deliciously feel-good Christmas romance perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Julia Williams

he Little Paris Collection:

The Little Bookshop on the Seine

The Little Antique Shop under the Eiffel Tower

The Little Perfume Shop off the Champs-Élysées

Also by Rebecca Raisin

The Gingerbread Café trilogy:
Christmas at the Gingerbread Café
Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread Café
Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Café

The Bookshop on the Corner
Secrets at the Maple Syrup Farm

Amazon  UK http://amzn.to/1LfJJzO

Amazon US http://amzn.to/1KR2Wck

iBooks https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/little-bookshop-on-seine-little/id1022785186?mt=11

Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-little-bookshop-on-the-seine-rebecca-raisin/1121263193?ean=9781474030786

Kobo https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-little-bookshop-on-the-seine-the-little-paris-collection-book-1-1

Sainsbury’s

https://www.sainsburysentertainment.co.uk/ebooks/The-Little-Bookshop-On-The-Seine-The-Little-Paris-Collection-Book-1-/Rebecca-Raisin/9781474030786


 

 

About the Author

Rebecca-Raisin author pic

 

Rebecca Raisin is a bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been widely published in various short-story anthologies, and in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance. The only downfall about writing about gorgeous men who have brains as well as brawn is falling in love with them – just as well they’re fictional. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and, most importantly, believe in true, once-in-a-lifetime love.

 

Follow her on twitter @jaxandwillsmum

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor

Website rebeccaraisin.com

Book Beginnings (30 October)

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Book beginnings is a meme set up by Rose City Reader. Every Friday post the first line, or few lines, of the book you’re reading along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Then add a link to your post on Rose City Reader’s blog.

My Book Beginning

The Day of Second Chances

The Day of Second Chances by Julie Cohen

‘The last stage of Honor Levinson’s life began at the top of the stairs in her home in North London.’

What a brilliant opening line to a novel! I just want to keep reading immediately to find out what happened. Does she fall down the stairs, does someone push her? Or from the way the sentence is written it could be that Honor Levinson walks safely down the stairs and something else happens to her at a later stage. I’m fascinated to know. I hope I get a chance to read more very soon!

The Day of Second Chances is due to be published on 28 January 2016.

Bookouture Christmas Books Giveaway!

#BC banner

XMAS BC GIVEAWAY copy

From today, until the 27th October, I’m taking part in Bookouture Christmas week. As part of the celebrations they have kindly given me one ebook copy of each of the five books below. Every day I’ll be sharing another giveaway for one of these books as part of my post. To make it easy to find the giveaways, I’ll also add a link each day to this post so you can check back here every day too.

snowflakes at silver cove

26th October – Today is I’m giving you the chance to enter to win an ebook copy of Snowflakes on Silver Cove by Holly Martin courtesy of Bookouture. Click this RAFFLECOPTER LINK and it will take you to the Rafflecopter page where you can enter. Giveaway ending midnight 29 October! My review of the book and a synopsis are here if you want to know more about it.

Christmas wishes and mistletoe kisses

25th October – Today I am giving away an ebook copy of Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale courtesy of Bookouture. Click this RAFFLECOPTER LINK and it will take you to the Rafflecopter page where you can enter. Giveaway ending midnight 29 October! My review of the book and a synopsis are here if you want to know more about it.

Lilac Cottage

24 October – Today’s giveaway is your chance to win an ebook copy of Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin. My review of this book is here so please check it out if you want to know more about it. Click this RAFFLECOPTER LINK and it will take you to the Rafflecopter page where you can enter! Ending midnight 29 October!

One Wish in Manhattan

The giveaway for One Wish in Manhattan has now ended, thank you to everyone who entered. Congratulations to the winner, @Sarahhardy681!

You can still read my review of the fabulous One Wish in Manhattan here

bella's christmas bake off

The giveaway for Bella’s Christmas Bake Off has now ended, thank you to everyone who entered. Congratulations to the winner, @Bookboodle!

You can still read my Guest post from Sue Watson & extract from Bella’s Christmas Bake Off here)!


Over the course of Bookouture Christmas week I’ll be posting reviews, Q&As, guest posts, extracts and giveaways all to do with these fabulous books!

BC BOOKS BANNER (MINE) copy

Review: The Good Neighbor by Amy Sue Nathan

The Good Neighbor

Izzy Lane has been having a rough time of it. She is a divorced mum of one, who has recently had to move back to her childhood home with her 5 year old son, Noah. She has had a hard time adjusting to all of the changes in her life but she her good friends Rachel and Jade, and her elderly neighbour Mrs Feldman are always looking out for her and gradually she’s began to find her feet and settle down. Until her ex shows up one day with his new girlfriend in tow and Izzy finds herself letting slip about her new boyfriend, Mac.

Izzy runs a very popular blog where she talks about life after divorce and what it’s like to date again, she enjoys sharing about her wonderful new man. The only problem is, she made him up! Before she gets a chance to admit to her real life friends that what they’ve read on her blog isn’t entirely truthful, one of them offers her a brilliant job opportunity to be the resident dating expert on a very successful website. Izzy can never find quite the right moment to confess, and it all continues to get more complicated as her friends want to meet him, and then she catches the eye of a real life man!

The wonderful Mrs Feldman from next door steps in and give sage advice to Izzy to just confess to her friends but Izzy just can’t bring herself to do it. But then a mysterious commenter starts posting on her blog asking awkward questions about Mac and it all begins to feel too much.

I loved how Izzy wasn’t a bitter ex wife, she was just trying to find ways to move on and to find her new normal in this life that she hadn’t planned for. She wanted the best for her son, and even though she didn’t want her ex husband in her life, she very much wanted him in her son’s life on a regular basis. I was glad Izzy was like this as it meant she remained likeable even when she invented a new boyfriend. Izzy’s made-up man came about more from loneliness during the times when Noah was in bed or with his dad, rather than from any malice.

I really liked Izzy all through this novel and I couldn’t help but feel for her. She got herself in a huge mess over what was originally just a little fib to make herself feel better. I didn’t blame her at all for telling the fib, she was feeling down on herself and she mentioned Mac before she’d really thought about any implications – it wasn’t a long thought out deception. The problem for Izzy is that it spread into her real life and she just couldn’t bring herself to admit it to her friends who were so happy that she was apparently dating again. I was wiling Izzy on to just tell them though because once she stopped being truthful with her real life friends the little fib became a big lie, and a big lie is hard for anyone to forgive. I started to worry for Izzy, knowing that she was putting everything she had at risk in order to keep her story going, and I hoped she would redeem herself in the end.

My favourite character was Mrs Feldman. She just exuded warmth with a bit of sass that I love to see in older people. Her own secret was heartbreaking, and the way her family treated her made me so sad at times but I love how Mrs Feldman adapted and made things better for herself in the end. I adored the relationship that she had with Izzy, it was a really lovely and special friendship where they each took care of the other in their own ways. I wish I had a Mrs Feldman in my life!

I’m going to miss the characters in this book, the crappy ex husband aside that is! Amy Sue Nathan has written a book with such well thought-out characters that they really did seem like real people to me and most of them were so warm and genuine and I felt like they were people I actually know. I’m going to miss them.

This book wasn’t quite what I was expecting it to be but I very much enjoyed it and I’d highly recommend it. I rate this book 9 out of 10.

I received this book from St. Martin’s Press via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

The Good Neighbor is out today and available now from Amazon.

Review: Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain

 

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Pretending to Dance is a moving novel about the damage that secrets can do. Molly is happily married to Aidan, they have a good life together but something is missing. Molly can’t have children so they are going through the process of adopting a baby, it’s something they both want but Aidan is throwing himself into the process and Molly is much more reserved and nervous. She doesn’t want to risk anyone to find out about the secrets she is keeping.

The novel then goes back to 1990 when Molly was 14. She was growing up in a tight knit family, with her extended family all living close by. Molly was a typical teenage girl, obsessed with New Kids on the Block and Jonny Depp. She was a very naive girl, having lived a sheltered life, but on meeting a new friend, Stacie, her eyes soon become open to new things, particularly boys, and her focus in life begins to change.

Molly had a very close bond with her dad, Graham, she idolised him and she helped him in his work as a pretend therapist. He was suffering from MS and Molly did everything she could to help him and to make his life happier, it’s a wonderful relationship to read about. Molly was unable to see, or perhaps didn’t want to face, the fact that her dad’s health was deteriorating. So when he died it seemed very sudden and seemed out of nowhere to her. She was utterly distraught and began to question everything she thought she knew about her family, which eventually led to her leaving them behind and starting a new life but the secrets she carries are still haunting her.

I absolutely loved this book, it is Diane Chamberlain at her best. The novel is part mystery, part coming of age, part family and domestic drama; it’s got a bit of everything and it’s brilliant, I found it near impossible to put it down.

The opening of this book hooks you in immediately when you hear Molly tell how she is not only a liar but a good liar. Straight away you want to know more about her. Is she a pathological liar? Can we trust anything she says? Or is she lying to protect someone? So many questions and you feel compelled to keep reading. Molly is actually very good at keeping secrets much more than she is a liar but there is a fine line between the two – when does a secret become a lie? This is a question I kept asking myself all through this novel because I never really saw Molly as a liar, just someone burdened with a difficult secret but because she never shared her secret, it becomes a lie of omission and she really struggled with that. The idea of whether a secret is a lie, or can become a lie runs through this book and really gives you pause for thought.

The storyline focuses a lot on Molly’s dad Graham’s MS and this was so well written. I found it very difficult to read for personal reasons but you know a story is done well when it really gets to you like that. There was clearly a lot of research done into the disease and nothing is shied away from. It was apparent to everyone, including the reader, that Graham was deteriorating but the family colluded in shielding it from Molly, which in the end leaves her feeling very left out and lost. I felt increasingly more sympathetic for everyone in this family, no one had an easy time of it. Molly’s father was trying to keep going as long as he could but was obviously suffering. Molly’s mother was still very much in love with her husband but knew she was going to have to let go very soon, and this meant she became very focused on him which left Molly feeling unloved. Molly was just a normal teenage girl who wanted everyone to be okay, she didn’t have enough life experience to know that loving someone isn’t enough to keep them alive when they’ve had enough of suffering. It made me so sad that Molly and her mother couldn’t find a way to communicate, there were so many missed chances when they could have talked and formed a better bond together. It’s so true to life though that sometimes a misunderstanding, and the keeping of secrets drives such a wedge between people that it seems like it will never be able to be mended.

I was fascinated by Graham’s job as a pretend therapist, I love how it was woven through the book along with Amalia’s interpretative dancing sessions with Molly; it all revolved around the idea of finding out who you are and if you’re not the person you want to be then pretend for a while and eventually you’ll become that person. I don’t know if pretend therapy is a real therapy or even based on a real therapy, but the idea of it seems quite wonderful. I’m going to take the idea of pretending to dance and remind myself of it on the bad days, it really is a great lesson for us all.

I rated this book 10 out of 10 and can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a compelling read that has something for everyone, it’s a book not to be missed!

Thank you to St. Martins Press via Net Galley for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is published today in paperback and is available on Amazon.

Review: Dying to be Slim by Abby Beverley

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I was intrigued by the premise of this novel and couldn’t resist the chance to read it. It’s about Clara who, having been a single mum to four children for many years, turned to food for comfort. Many years later she is married to a lovely man, Jakey, who is a wonderful baker and just wants to make Clara happy by giving her everything she wants, including all the cake she desires. Clara ends up weighing 34 stone and being housebound.

Jakey and Clara have a teenage daughter together, along with Clara’s four grown up children from her previous relationship and although she doesn’t get to see them as often as she’d like she is very proud of the successful lives they have led her to believe they are living. Then one day a strange turn of events gives Clara the opportunity to step outside her body and become Starla, the thin person who has been living inside of her all these years. This leads to her discovering that all is not as she has been told. There are many shocks and surprises in store for her!

I really enjoyed this novel, it was hard to put down once I start reading. I really liked Clara and how her weight issues were handled very sensitively; it felt like quite an insight into what it’s like to be morbidly obese. I enjoyed Starla’s exploits even more though! It was such fun finding out what every member of her family was really like, how their lives were really lived and seeing how Starla/Clara reacted to, and dealt with, it all.

The ending of the novel was a surprise to me, all the way through I’d been expecting something different to happen. The epilogue tied things up so well and was the perfect ending to the novel.

I recommend this book if you’re looking for a warm, fun and heartfelt read about what it’s like to escape your own body and to see the side of people’s lives that you would never normally get to see.

I rated this book 8 out of 10.

Thanks to Troubadour Publishing Ltd and Net Galley for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Dying to be Slim is out now and is available on Amazon.

Book Beginnings

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Book beginnings is a meme set up by Rose City Reader. Every Friday post the first line of the book you’re reading along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Then add a link to your post on Rose City Reader’s blog.

My Book Beginning

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain

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‘I’m a good liar. I take comfort in that fact as Aidan and I sit next to each other on our leather sectional, so close together that our thighs touch.’

The thing that strikes me most about this opener is how the narrator openly admits that she is not only a liar but that she takes comfort in being good at it. This is very intriguing and straight away I want to know more about her and how she has come to be comforted by her ability to lie so well. Most people feel guilty about telling lies so I absolutely want to keep reading to find out whether she is a horrible person, or if she is lying to protect others. I want to know what her story is. I’m also intrigued by Aidan, the fact they are sitting so close would imply they are a couple, so I want to know if she is lying to him or if the lies are something he is involved in. I can’t wait to get back to this novel and find out more about these people.

Review: Breaking Away by Anna Gavalda

 

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Breaking Away is a wonderful short novel about four siblings. Garance is travelling to a family wedding with her brother Simon and his wife Carine. Later in the journey, they sister Lola joins them. Once they arrive at the wedding the three siblings decide to go off to visit their brother Vincent in Tours leaving Carine behind.

This novel is ultimately a wonderful celebration of the love and friendship between siblings. Garance, Vincent, Simon and Lola have grown up together; they have shared memories and a lifelong connection. The day of the wedding they take time out to relive the youth they had together. Garance has such intense nostalgia during this day spent with her brothers and sister, she feels like she is borrowing time and wonders how many other days there will be like this. They’re all moving in different directions, which is natural for siblings to do but still such a wrench when they’ve always been so close.

Simon’s wife Carine at first seemed quite harsh on Garance and Lola but there doesn’t seem to be a specific reason for the irritation. As the novel goes on we learn more about Simon and Lola’s very close bond and it becomes apparent that Carine feels like an outsider to this strong family unit. She seems somewhat jealous of what the four share, even though she has two children with Simon and so has her own strong connections with him that will never be broken. It was lovely to hear Simon stick up for his wife later in the novel, and for him to explain to the others how much she means to him.

The part of the novel where Garance, Simon and Lola listen to a playlist that Vincent has made for them brought a lump to my throat. So many of people, including myself, must have made mix tapes for our younger siblings  It’s the shared history in all of those songs that you heard throughout your lives together, there is a bond that those outside will never quite understand or break though.

I very much enjoyed this novel, I loved how it was a meandering wander through Garance’s thoughts and feelings throughout the course of a day. And it was wonderful to see siblings so closely bonded and wanting to spend time together, I don’t think that happens enough in novels.

I rated this book 8 out of 10 and highly recommend it.

I was kindly given a copy of this book to read and review by Gallic Books via Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.

Breaking Away is out now and available from Amazon.

Review: #PleaseRetweet by Emily Benet

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I absolutely loved this book! It’s such a fun, contemporary novel that is so apt for the social media age we now live in.

May Sparks is a social media expert; her job is to run the twitter accounts of C-list celebrities who either cannot be trusted to run their own account, or they’re completely clueless when it comes to social media. Her job sounds like it would be fun and easy, what could possibly be hard about being paid to be on twitter all day? Well, it all quickly begins to unravel for May when tweeting as these celebs starts to take over her whole life, and ultimately the lines begin to blur between her real life and the lives of the celebrities she works for. May finds she has no time for her own twitter account or her real life friends and it all begins to spiral out of her control.

May is a brilliant character who I’m sure anyone who has spent time on twitter will identify with. I think we all occasionally think in hashtags these days, or feel compelled to take photos of everything that happens to us so we can share with our followers. We can’t help but feel a flutter of excitement if we get retweeted a few times; or if a celebrity replies to us, or even better follows back!  I often found myself chuckling as I recognised some of my twitter traits in SparkyMay. I know I’m guilty of planning on just having a quick scroll through my timeline only to realise a whole afternoon has disappeared. And I’ve occasionally retweeted sappy motivational quotes! Oh, and twitter and my real life blurred in a big way when I met my husband on there and moved to the other side of the country to be with him many years ago, and it all stemmed from a certain celebrity’s short-lived book club (for real!).

I can’t think of another book that has ever made me laugh out loud as much as #PleaseRetweet did. It’s such a brilliant take on modern life and how twitter can easily take over if we let it. I’m recommending this book to everyone!

I rate this book 10 out of 10.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, I’ve now bought my own copy as I know this is a book I’ll read again.

#PleaseRetweet is out now and available from Amazon


EDIT 5th NOVEMBER 2015

Today on my blog I’ve got an interview I did with Emily Benet about the paperback release of #PleaseRetweet and we talked about all things social media. The link is here!

Review: A Parcel for Anna Browne by Miranda Dickinson

 

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Anna Browne is a very ordinary woman living a perfectly satisfactory life, but nothing exciting ever happens to her… that is until the day that a parcel arrives at work for her. Inside she finds a beautiful gift, which becomes the first of many wonderful parcels sent to Anna by a mysterious benefactor. Each gift brings real joy to Anna and she finds herself growing in confidence and happiness. But who is sending her these gifts and why?

This novel is magical and wonderful and just perfect! It draws you in and you don’t want to let it go. Anna Browne is such a great character. She is down-to-earth, caring and kind but her life is lacking any excitement. The joy she feels on receiving each gift, and how these gifts bring her out of herself is magical – it’s like her life suddenly gets sprinkled with fairy dust, and who wouldn’t want that? Each gift brings a bit more of Anna to life, she smiles a bit more, gains confidence, feels better about herself – these are the real gifts she receives. I love how the parcels never change who Anna was, they just allowed who she always was to shine

The supporting cast of characters in this book really add to its all-round loveliness. I loved Ted the security guard, he has a conspiracy theory about everything but his heart is in the right place. Anna’s neighbour, Isadora, was so lovely too, I adored reading about their time together.

Then there were the men! The book keeps you wondering for a good while about who Anna will end up and I loved that. Ben was a man of mystery but he kept me reading as I wanted to know more about him, and I just adored Jonah – he’s the kind of man we all want in our lives (plus I really want his camper van!).

The mystery of the parcels will keep you guessing, you’ll think you have it all worked out and then more intrigue comes along. I was convinced I knew who the mystery parcel sender was at several points in the book and was proved wrong! It’s so fantastic to be kept guessing, it adds to the magic of the story.

It felt very serendipitous that I received this book when I did as it arrived at just a time when I needed a lift and Anna Browne’s story was a tonic to me. I swear this book has an effect on its readers the same way the mysterious gifts have an effect on Anna! A Parcel for Anna Browne is without a doubt Miranda’s best novel so far, I can’t recommend it highly enough!

I was sent this book to review for Net Galley but will definitely be buying my own copy when it is released on 24 September as I know this is a book I will read again and again, it is set to become one of my firm favourites.

Available for Pre-order now from Amazon

Review: A Proper Family Holiday by Chrissie Manby

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Four generations of the Benson family go on holiday to Lanzarote for a week – what could possibly go wrong? This is an often funny, sometimes poignant and constantly entertaining read.

I bought this novel around the time it was released a year ago and it’s sat on my TBR ever since but I don’t really know why as I love Chrissie Manby’s novels. I think I was subconsciously saving it for a time when I knew I’d need a guaranteed pick-me-up of a book, and it didn’t let me down.

This novel was unputdownable for me and was the wonderful pick-me-up that I’d hoped it would be. It was chick-lit with depth to it, and I adored it. I gave it 5 stars and also added it to my favourites shelf as I’m sure it’ll be one of the few books that I will re-read in the future.

On finishing this novel I was so tempted to immediately pick up the next in the series, A Proper Family Christmas, as I really want to know what happens next. But I love a good Christmas read so I’m going to try and hold off reading it for just a few more weeks! I’m happy to see that a third book in the series is already out though and I’ll be buying that soon.

A 10 star read!